Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Relational Thinking and Blogandering

I am not sure how well organized this post will be, but somehow I think that form will be appropriate to the topic.

My name is Kristen, and I am a bloganderer. I might even have to say Webanderer...

Since my employ with a software company in 1996, I have been hopelessly addicted to searching the Web. I enjoy nothing more than indulging little research requests in my brain with precision googling and then, as if exploring a new city or park, move from thought to thought, relationally.

Way back in 1995, when I was in graduate school to be am elementary school teacher, I learned about the Progressive School of education. Progressive education is a movement that finds its roots in present experience, is more democratic in outlook, and looks forward. One of its applications is Experiential education where classroom learning is guided by both the experiences of the students and the class as a whole. I think of it as the form of teaching where the way the students' mind works is most honored and respected.

Wikipedia defines:
Experiential education is a philosophy of education that focuses on the transactive process between teacher and student involved in direct experience with the learning environment and content.

This is not to be confused with Experiential learning:
Experiential learning requires no teacher and relates solely to the meaning making process of the individual from direct experience. It is an inherent process that occurs naturally. However, as John Dewey pointed out experiential learning can often lead to mis-educative experiences.

Ahhhhhh...mis-educative experiences! Therein lies the rub. All this wandering the Web and blogandering can lead to false conclusions. Just look at the popularity of Snopes. I have many friends who send out email apocrypha warning me against dangers rife in this world, from how to avoid carjacking, to the dangers of certain deoderants, I get them all. Most of these are perpetuated untruths. Thank goodness for Snopes and their research for educating me...but, then again, how do I know that what they write is true?

And Wikipedia, an encyclopedia created by the Web community. How do we know if it's not just a bunch of words conjured up by internet blowhards? And blogs are even worse. They present like articles or news, but are not more than someone's thoughts spilling out into a browser window.

Now we have Tumblr encouraging microblogging. A form of blogging even less precise and more pithy. I know I will continue to blogander, but as the articles and entries on the Internet increase daily, will I have more and more of Dewey's "mis-educational" experiences? Will I care? Are we entering an era where imprecise truths are resepected?

Monday, April 28, 2008

PSA: Carrotmob


Carrotmob Makes It Rain from carrotmob on Vimeo
PS, I found this on www.tumblr.com - VERY COOL SITE! Thinking teensy, mini insightful blogs.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Battle of Ridgefield April 27, 1777

Two hundred and thirty one years ago today the Battle of Ridgefield was fought here in my home town. This reenactment, despite being about six hundred soldiers short of the original skirmish size, was pretty neat. The continental soldiers and redcoats wore authentic garb and they blew off their muskets, cannons and pistols. The blast of the cannon was so deep and strong, it rattled my teeth. I LOVED it. The kids LOVED it. I am happy to live in an area of the country where such history happened on the same stones and earth where I can now stand with my children.

At one point, I leaned down to change Liam's diaper and thought about how different mothering must have been in 1777. Here are some of my favorite shots from the day:

The Battle of Ridgefield was in fact a raid near modern-date Danbury, Connecticut carried out by Benedict Arnold, along with two other Patriot generals, James Wooster and Arthur Silliman who carried out a raid on a British camp near the village of Ridgefield then located about 90 miles west of modern-day New Haven. Around 700 American militia raided the camp shortly after sunset on April 27, 1777. Despite taking 100 casualties, the raid was more or less a success with the Americans inflicting about 154 casualties on the British and seizing some arms and ammunition, food, supplies, as well as 40 British prisoners.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Baby's First Haircut (not including the one I gave him that made him look like Friar Tuck)

My little baby boy looks like an eight-year-old now that he had his first haircut! WAHHHHHH!!!!

Can you see how shaggy it is here? Yes, I know, he's a baby. He's supposed to have long flowing hair. But, no. When the babysitter pulled a tick off his head the other day I decided it was time to cut the hair so I could do better tick checks.

He really got into the clippers. The barber was very nice and photogenic, so that was an added bonus. ;)

He seemed to really enjoy the process!

It's a miracle the haircut looks as good as it does. He was such a wiggle worm!

Look at how grown-up he looks!!!!

Friday, April 25, 2008

There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so...

I saw this on a friend's blog. I thought she did a good job answering these questions, so I'm going to try it.

What’s something you love and is quite bad for you?
Carbohydrates. I am seriously addicted. So much so that my daughter just made a comment tonight about how she is trying to cut back on carbs...she's four. Maybe I am a teensy bit obsessed? What do you think?

What’s something you hate and is quite good for you?
Sit-ups. I really hate them. They make me feel like my stomach is fatter than it actually is because it all gathers up like pizza dought. Add to that the feeling that the muscles are trying to separate from my body and, let's just say I am not a fan.

What’s something that’s about equally good and bad for you?
Food. You need sustenance, but you certainly can make choices on the good and bad end of the spectrum.

What is something you’ve been told is bad for you but you suspect is not as bad as people say?
Oh, there are so many things people express an opinion on, it's not even funny. Online purchasing, loud music, masturbation, bad shoes, wearing make-up, not wearing make-up, sugar, sugar-free items, etc.

I guess I would have to say at the top of my list is being online. I consider it my window to lifelong learning and critics would say it is a soul-sucker.

What’s something most people consider ugly but you consider beautiful?
This is an interesting one. I think I find a lot of odd things beautiful. I go on walks where I try to photograph things that are mundane and make them beautiful. I love fossils and think rocks are incredibly beautiful.

Saucy Redhead

Elena funny from this evening:

She took a bite of barbecued pork and asked if she could spit it out.

I said, "Of course. If you don't like it."

Her response was classic. "Mom, it's weally too sweet for me. I am twying to cut back."

They really do hear EVERYTHING, don't they?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Low Glycemic Index

So, two days ago, I decided it was time to cut out the carbs and break my carb addiction (AGAIN). I have been hunting around for a good diet, guidance site, helpful blog, etc. I found this and I think it's pretty good...for anyone else who struggles with this problem, I share it here.

Today, While Walking with Elena and Liam...

E: "Mommy, I am so, so tired of wooking at the bwight sun!"
Me: "So, STOP looking at it! Close your eyes, or put your hat back on."
E: "But MOMMY, the SUN won't stop wooking at me!"

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Standing on the Edge of a Cliff, No Rails...

...or at least you would have THOUGHT that was the experience my daughter was experiencing today. Nope, just first time in flip flops...Let me back up and explain.

Our story starts a couple of weeks ago when the warm weather started and Elena watched her beloved Gwammy dust off her flip flops, paint her nails and flip flop off down the daffodilled sidewalk. She immediately wanted flip flops. We weren't sure that they would work on a not-quite-yet-four-year-old, but when I found some cute flippies for under $9 at the Gap today, I decided to let her try them.

I brought them home. She tried them on and insisted they were comfortable and that they worked fine. Well, worked would be a bit of a stretch. Worked if you are Lurch from The Munsters. Worked if you don't need to walk anywhere with any speed whatsoever. Worked if you never needed to go up or down stairs. I kept trying to give her flip flop lessons. It was sort of pathetic.

At 4 PM, we had to get out of the 80-degree heat (yes, I know it's April in the Northeast...there might be something to this global warming thing, eh?). Anyhoo, I took the kids to the mall to try and find myself a simple black cardigan. Black cardigans don't exist this year, apparently. So, we had to check about a dozen stores. Can I just tell you how fun it was to hunt for an elusive item with a twenty-five pound boy on my back and limping, simping, wimping three-year-old at my side? Crying, sobbing child, nosy passer-bys, shoppers asking if we were alright, to which I had to sheepishly reply, "Oh yes, first time in flip flops." I tried to sound cheerful, but it was about as much fun as a dental appointment.

But, the odd thing about three-year-olds is that they are weird, unpredictable (in some ways) and volatile. Elena was running the gamut of these characteristics, er running would be the wrong word, how about displaying? She was a scaredy-cat, for lack of a better way of describing it. She was pointing at the railings (we were on the upper floor) and sobbing uncontrollably. She was freaked about the prospect of the escaltor or elevator, not even pushing the buttons on the elevator held any allure. It was sad and pathetic. I was starting to get that freaked out feeling a mom gets when she is worried her kid is coming down with some dread virus.

Apparently the flip flops had stolen her sure-footedness and with it her mojo. With her balance lacking she was simply rendered agoraphobic...petrified of everything in the mall. Once I realized what the problem was, I managed to get her to inch halfway down the regular stairs, I finally picked her up and carried to the terminus of those stairs, a Payless Shoe Store. Done. Elena is now the proud owner of some hideous Dora Croc-knock-offs that I never would have bought were we not under such duress. Oh well.

She was quite pleased with them and reassured me many, many times that she was no longer scared and that her new shoes made her "speedy." She was now thrilled to go up and down every escaltor we came near. See, aren't almost-four-year-olds weird?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

How Cute is this Boy?

Can you see what he is doing with his binky (which he now calls his "B")? I just love this kid.
It must be hard for his sister who is going through a rather pudgy, gawky stage. He's so cute and she's such a terror right now. I have to admit it's hard for the mommy.

Today's New Word is Fugacious

fu·ga·cious Audio Help /fyuˈgeɪʃəs/ –adjective

1. fleeting; transitory: a sensational story with but a fugacious claim on the public's attention.

2. Botany. falling or fading early.

Use it in a sentence today! (better hurry)

Talk about Feeling Like the Odd Man Out

This article on MSNBC this morning got me to thinking. Which baby would I prefer to be? One of the identical ones? The unique guy? I immediatedly felt sorry for the one who is different (and got the Sesame Street song "One of These Kids is Not Like the Others" trapped in my brain). Does that mean I am a sheep? Am I not as proud of my uniqueness as I think I am? Food for thought.

My friend, with whom I just shared this interesting tidbit, was instantly sorry for the mother. I can't believe that thought didn't even enter my mind? What is wrong with me? I can hardly manage two who are two years apart. May God be with all of them.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Let's Do it as Partner

Are you kidding me? That's really all I have to say about this. Be sure to click on the picture so you can actually read this note I received in my junk mail folder today. Does this stuff actually work? I find myself asking that a lot about telemarketing, horribly hideous websites and email scams like this:

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Momzilla Goes Out to Eat

We went to Rhinebeck, NY yesterday, as I posted. My soon-to-be-ex is at the Omega Institute working for the summer. It's a pretty cool campus and right near the Hudson River, so it's a great place to visit with the kids. Anyhow, here are some pearls from Momzilla at lunch today.

Me (on phone in the morning): We're going to go up to Rhinebect early and go on a little hike around there. So we'll see you at 12:30 at the restaurant. It's a great place to meet, because if you're a few minutes late, we can grab a table and get the kids an apple juice and wait for you.

MZ (sneeringly): Oh, we'll get there before you.

Me: Um...but...you're coming all the way from Ridgefield and we'll already be in town...sigh...nevermind. See you at 12:30.

Me (from cell phone at 10 am): OK, we're here in town. Just wanted to tell you the exact name of the restaurant. It's the Beekman Arms Tavern.

MZ: OK, 12 or 12:30?

Me: 12 (although promptly kicking myself for not lying)

Cut to Patrick and me wrestling two kids in a 1766 tavern for over thirty minutes when it is technically nap time. Fun fun fun.

Then, when Momzilla arrives,
MZ: NY is HORRIBLE at putting up appropriate signs.

Yes, it's The State of NY's fault you got lost.

Then, when the food comes. First, the children's meal comes. I got them a children's filet mignon to share. High class joint, no? I got it with fries. I am doling out portions for the kids and I hear MZ in the corner, "Let me try that steak...can I have a piece?" I finish giving Elena her lunch and turn to do Liam's and there is literally a fork in my face. Yes, Momzilla, you can have a bite, but can you wait until I feed MY CHILDREN FIRST???

Next, she helps herself to Elena's fries. The waiter, who is SO nice comes over and I ask him if the brown sauce on the filet is a pepper sauce because my daughter says it's very peppery. He says no it's just a gravy. I say ok. Then, I hear Momzilla pipe in, "The children's fries are STONE COLD." I have to interrupt, as she is a social embarassment as usual, and say, "No, they're fine. They're warm. No problem here. Thank you." I then turn to her and say, "It's a KIDS meal. MY kids meal. Please do not complain about the fries being cold." She starts to say something about how they make the food and then have it sitting out...blah blah blah.

Her food comes. We are peppered with more lovely comments. They should give out better knives. These are dull. Butter knives, hrmph. This bun is too small for this burger. It won't even stay on there.

The icing on the cake, so to speak, was when she asked for a bite of my salad. At this point, it's 2 PM, Liam is freaking out and I am about to get a medal in restaurant baby wrangling. I handed her the rest of my salad and started to stand up to take him outside. She started into my salad and said...I didn't see this on the menu! I would have ordered it. It looks good. Oh, it is good. I usually don't order things with blue cheese because it's fattening. Yup, my salad with blue cheese is definitely more fattening than your burger. Especially when you eat some of each and some of the kids's fries.

Here endeth the tale of lunch with Momzilla.

(Just so you have a visual, here's one of the few pictures I could find of Momzilla. Ignore the ass):

Staatburg, NY

Went to visit Patrick in Rhinebeck. Took some cool pictures at a NY state part which used to the mansion of Ogden Mills. While we were there we saw the mansion (from the outside as it was too nice to go indoors and we had only an hour of time to spend), walked down to the Hudson River, saw a couple HUGE tankers on there, and picked up sundry natural items. For example, anyone know what these are? They appear to be some kind of a seed pod, but they look like they have little faces on them:

Legally Blind?

Momzilla told me she went to the health fair last week. She found out that she has something weird going on with electrolytes in her urine, odd sounding breath sounds (or was it heart mumurs?), and that she is legally blind. She let this information roll off her tongue like a piece of gossip...did you know Janice's daughter is getting married? Oh and opathomologist at the health fair says I am legally blind and should not be driving. Um...WHAT??????

And she follows up with telling me her plans for heading to New Hampshire that day. Who's driving? Her of course. Yikes. How do old people get their licenses revoked? Is there some sort of checks and balances system for that?

Thursday, April 17, 2008


My mother and I are having trouble getting along as of late. I am cranky with her, she is hard on me. We are both tired and over-worked and underpaid, but I know she would say she is MORE overworked and MORE underpaid. She'd be right, too.

Anyhow, last night, a group of my online friends and I got to talking about the Myers Briggs test. I remembered that my mother and I are the exact same type. Do you think that could have something to do with all this unrest? Maybe if we were diametrically opposed on the Myers-Briggs spectrum we would get along better? Oh well, I took an online version of the test last night and reconfirmed my ENFP-ness.

See what your type is and if you would fare better living with my mother!

Here is my personality summary:
The Inspirer

As an ENFP, your primary mode of living is focused externally, where you take things in primarily via your intuition. Your secondary mode is internal, where you deal with things according to how you feel about them, or how they fit in with your personal value system.

ENFPs are warm, enthusiastic people, typically very bright and full of potential. They live in the world of possibilities, and can become very passionate and excited about things. Their enthusiasm lends them the ability to inspire and motivate others, more so than we see in other types. They can talk their way in or out of anything. They love life, seeing it as a special gift, and strive to make the most out of it.

ENFPs have an unusually broad range of skills and talents. They are good at most things which interest them. Project-oriented, they may go through several different careers during their lifetime. To onlookers, the ENFP may seem directionless and without purpose, but ENFPs are actually quite consistent, in that they have a strong sense of values which they live with throughout their lives. Everything that they do must be in line with their values. An ENFP needs to feel that they are living their lives as their true Self, walking in step with what they believe is right. They see meaning in everything, and are on a continuous quest to adapt their lives and values to achieve inner peace. They're constantly aware and somewhat fearful of losing touch with themselves. Since emotional excitement is usually an important part of the ENFP's life, and because they are focused on keeping "centered", the ENFP is usually an intense individual, with highly evolved values.

An ENFP needs to focus on following through with their projects. This can be a problem area for some of these individuals. Unlike other Extraverted types, ENFPs need time alone to center themselves, and make sure they are moving in a direction which is in sync with their values. ENFPs who remain centered will usually be quite successful at their endeavors. Others may fall into the habit of dropping a project when they become excited about a new possibility, and thus they never achieve the great accomplishments which they are capable of achieving.

Most ENFPs have great people skills. They are genuinely warm and interested in people, and place great importance on their inter-personal relationships. ENFPs almost always have a strong need to be liked. Sometimes, especially at a younger age, an ENFP will tend to be "gushy" and insincere, and generally "overdo" in an effort to win acceptance. However, once an ENFP has learned to balance their need to be true to themselves with their need for acceptance, they excel at bringing out the best in others, and are typically well-liked. They have an exceptional ability to intuitively understand a person after a very short period of time, and use their intuition and flexibility to relate to others on their own level.

Because ENFPs live in the world of exciting possibilities, the details of everyday life are seen as trivial drudgery. They place no importance on detailed, maintenance-type tasks, and will frequently remain oblivous to these types of concerns. When they do have to perform these tasks, they do not enjoy themselves. This is a challenging area of life for most ENFPs, and can be frustrating for ENFP's family members.

An ENFP who has "gone wrong" may be quite manipulative - and very good it. The gift of gab which they are blessed with makes it naturally easy for them to get what they want. Most ENFPs will not abuse their abilities, because that would not jive with their value systems.

ENFPs sometimes make serious errors in judgment. They have an amazing ability to intuitively perceive the truth about a person or situation, but when they apply judgment to their perception, they may jump to the wrong conclusions.

ENFPs who have not learned to follow through may have a difficult time remaining happy in marital relationships. Always seeing the possibilities of what could be, they may become bored with what actually is. The strong sense of values will keep many ENFPs dedicated to their relationships. However, ENFPs like a little excitement in their lives, and are best matched with individuals who are comfortable with change and new experiences.

Having an ENFP parent can be a fun-filled experience, but may be stressful at times for children with strong Sensing or Judging tendancies. Such children may see the ENFP parent as inconsistent and difficult to understand, as the children are pulled along in the whirlwind life of the ENFP. Sometimes the ENFP will want to be their child's best friend, and at other times they will play the parental authoritarian. But ENFPs are always consistent in their value systems, which they will impress on their children above all else, along with a basic joy of living.

ENFPs are basically happy people. They may become unhappy when they are confined to strict schedules or mundane tasks. Consequently, ENFPs work best in situations where they have a lot of flexibility, and where they can work with people and ideas. Many go into business for themselves. They have the ability to be quite productive with little supervision, as long as they are excited about what they're doing.

Because they are so alert and sensitive, constantly scanning their environments, ENFPs often suffer from muscle tension. They have a strong need to be independent, and resist being controlled or labelled. They need to maintain control over themselves, but they do not believe in controlling others. Their dislike of dependence and suppression extends to others as well as to themselves.

ENFPs are charming, ingenuous, risk-taking, sensitive, people-oriented individuals with capabilities ranging across a broad spectrum. They have many gifts which they will use to fulfill themselves and those near them, if they are able to remain centered and master the ability of following through.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My New Work

I was meandering around Barnes and Noble the other day looking for a book that might hold all the answers to the questions that keep popping up in my work life. I scanned the titles of the section in which I was browsing...

Awakening the Entrepreneur Within: How Ordinary People Can Create Extraordinary Companies

How to Make Millions with Your Ideas: An Entrepreneur's Guide

How to License Your Million Dollar Idea: Everything You Need To Know To Turn a Simple Idea into a Million Dollar Payday

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In

I was looking for ideas and answers. I was looking for inspiration and guidance. I was hoping to find a book that would help me to help my clients succeed better and faster. I haven't really talked about it here, but my new little business, The Rafters Group, is starting to really grow. The Rafters Group, like rafters under a roof, help support a peak, reach for the sky, and help companies reach their potential.

Today marks the advent of my first ever estimated quarterly taxes payment (which had me a bit freaked, truth be told, NOT a math person). I now have four solid clients, a few subcontracting employees and feel like I have found the perfect balance between relaxed work hours and decent pay. Hooray!

The clent I am currently most excited about, and this does change on an almost daily basis, is an inventor. He has invented a process for treating wood that impregnates a design or logo into the wood grain. It's really neat! And, after years of selling services and paper contracts, it's very reassuring to be out there selling something that is a cutting edge idea, aesthically pleasing and tangible, has real application in the world, and is made of real wood.

Here is the general overview presentation I recently prepared to take this idea to various markets. I created this presentation using my cousin's new company, Sliderocket's software.

Now, comes your role in all this. About a year ago, I read a definition of a term called "crowdsourcing" on Wikipedia. I "dogeared it" (aka bookmarked it) for future use. Well, this dog is having its day. Here is what crowdsourcing is:

Crowdsourcing is a neologism for the act of taking a task traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people, in the form of an open call. For example, the public may be invited to develop a new technology, carry out a design task, refine an algorithm or help capture, systematize or analyze large amounts of data.

I am looking to you, my daily-average-of-28-readers, to help us brainstorm other applications for this wood process. Any "out-of-the-box" ideas are welcomed. Merely leave your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Hair Thingies

My friend Lorraine posted about her daughter's problem with having her hair brushed. My daughter hates having her hair done, having her hair washed, keeping barrettes in for any length of time, and wearing pony tails. She'll scream, "What are you DOING, Mommy?" if I attempt to so much as play with her locks. It's ironic because she happens to have the most beautiful, styleable, fantastic locks ever. It's also ironic because I always imagined having a little "Von Trapp-like" child with dueling French braids, or side buns in her hair.

Elena is not that kind of kid. She's the kind of kid who immediately shucks her shoes and socks upon crossing the door frame. She's not into matching, or looking proper, or even wearing underwear (some days...imagine our surprise on the day she decided to forgo undies and wear a jaunty little skirt). The Easter Bunny even brought her some cute barrettes in an attempt to win her favor. The thing that's so odd about this child is that she will willingly let me put the barrette in her hair (75% of the time), but will have it removed and discarded about the house within a half hour or so. I find poor little abandoned barrettes all over the house. So, I fear we are destined to spend her entire childhood with her looking quite the mophead, like this:

The other irony I feel compelled to mention is that she may come by this aversion to style naturally. I, apparently, had to have my hair cut short for my entire childhood due to my detestation of "hair things."

Hey, what can I say? Ponytails gave me headaches.

My Husband has Removed his Wedding Band

Not much more to report on this subject, except to say that time is passing. We are, as many readers know, getting a divorce. We are working on it. We keep checking off things that we have to do. Parenting course - CHECK, Sell house - CHECK, Declare bankruptcy - CHECK. Slowly, but surely we plod forward towards separation (that's an oxymoron).

The first time Patrick told me he had decided to take off his ring, I burst into big fat tears. This time, I felt peace. It is the right time. It's time for us to move on with our lives. We will always be best friends, co-parents and supportive of and about each other. But, it's time now.

Friday, April 11, 2008

General Kid Silliness

You gotta love the way kids phrase things. I try to remember to capture the little phrasings and speech constructions that Elena comes up with, mostly because they are so cute. Here are few I remember from the last month.

1) This morning my BlackBerry was buzzing as it does when it auto-turns-on at 7:00 a.m. Elena said, "Mommy, your BlackBerry is sending you a message!"

2) A recent question structure Elena is using goes like this. I say something with which she is unfamiliar or of which she wants to know more, such as, suppose I casually dropped the phrase "chocolate mousse" into a sentence. She would immediately WHIP her head around, tip her little face as if she were a beagle and say, "Mommy, what called chocolate mousse?" Of course, what she means is "Please elaborate on this chocolate mousse thing you mentioned, I want to know more." But, somehow in her little brain, it translates to "What called..."

3) Use of the word MIND instead of MINE. So cute at first, although not so cute when screamed and shouted at her brother repeatedly, mind you (no pun intended), as in, "NO WEEUM, THIS IS MIND!"

4) She's been collecting coins around the house, in drawers, under seats in the car, etc. She says, "Mommy. Don't I have soooo much money now? Aren't I so good at finding money? Now I can go to the store and buy everything I want!" Uh, yeah right, kid, you have about $3.62.

5) I love her use of the verb "aren't", as in...I say, "I'm going to go brush my teeth." And, under her breath in a voice that holds hands with a glower, "I aren't!"

6) Yesterday, I was watching an OnDemand Thomas the Tank Engine program with Liam. It ended and he was not happy, pointing, exclaiming in grunts and saying, "UH OH!" I told him, "I know Liam. It's sad when it's over, isn't it? But, I don't know where the remote is so I can't put on another one right now." (don't I sound like stellar mother for so many reasons?) Anyhow, he disappeared for five minutes and came back at my side, handed me a remote from another tv entirely and said, "mote!" I guess the kid understands more than he lets on!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

First Metro-North Experience

Today I had to head into NYC to pick up a check from a client. I decided, since kids ride free until they are five around these parts, to take Elena on a special trip. I would go get the check, go to the bank, and then take Elena to get her special poop present. (Yes, I bribed her if/when she decided to poop on the potty on her own a few times, I would let her pick out a toy - oh the glamorous life of a mom). So, it was a pretty quick turnaround trip, but nice to be out with Elena alone. I had already taken Liam for a three mile walk in the morning, so he had his mommy outing already. (Wow, could I pat myself on the back anymore for being a decent mom today?)

Anyhow, she loved the train and took in all the sights and sounds. She charmed everyone around her. She was a hit. Her red hair took Manhattan by storm...we got more comments and compliments than usual! Here are some photos of the short trip:

A Real Mom Moment

Today, I took Elena on her first train ride ever. She was trepidatious at first and, in fact, burst into tears before we even left the house and had to be reassured that the train WOULD NOT be scary (I PROMISE).

The train was a huge hit. She loved it and was quite happy for the first ten minutes. Too bad we had another forty-five minutes before we would arrive in Manhattan. The entire rest of the trip there and the entire trip home was peppered with questions:
"Are we there yet?"
"Is THIS Katonah, Mom?"
"What station is this?"
"How far now?"
"Are we there yet?"
"Are we there yet?"
"Are we there yet?"

Despite the familiarity with which most moms just read the above passage, this was NOT my real mom moment. My real mom moment came at a much less glamorous time, in a much less cosmopolitan setting. It was in a bathroom stall. I took my daughter into a bathroom stall. It was a large, handicapped bathroom stall with a sink INSIDE the door, no less. She loved it. The novelty of peeing in a new location was almost too much for her. She was squealing and annoucing everything.
"This is fun, Mommy!"
"I weally, weally did have to pee. Do you think I weally had to pee, Mom? I had to the whole time on the twain."
"Can you wipe me or should I wipe myself? Yeah, you wipe me, Mommy, good idea."
"Mommy, this is sink is cool. I like this bathroom. Can you help me up? This toilet is tall."

I am not sure if there was anyone else in the bathroom. But if there was, they must have been chortling right along with me. That was my mom moment. For the first time in my life, I was the mom in the bathroom with the newly potty-trained child, instead of the outsider chuckling at said mom over the echoey voice of their child chattering on about private, bathroom topics. Nope, I was the one whose privacy was invaded this time. Especially, when I sat down to pee and daughter had to annouce, with awe in her voice, "Wow! Mom! You're so big!"

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Saturday Morning Me Time

On Saturday, I went to a meeting at church and, as it turned out, was 45 minutes early. So, I called home to check in, and then went and had some much needed me time. What does one do when given forty-five minutes of me time that hadn't planned on and they aren't in the comfort of their own home with the usual distractions? Where does one go at 8:30 AM on Saturday for me time? Well, Starbucks of course!

When I showed up at the Starbucks, there were a bunch of kids there collecting for Relay for Life. They all piped up as I walked by, "WOULD YOU LIKE TO DONATE TO RELAY FOR LIFE?" I would, but actually had donated to my babysitter for the exact cause the day before, and I had no cash on hand. I told them I would see when I came back out.

I went in and ordered my tall coffee and madeleines, prepared my coffee with half and half and went back outside. I decided to get out a piece of paper and entertain myself with a To Do list. It always makes me feel organized and important to have a fat To Do list of goals ready to be scratched off in my pocket. I thrive on accomplishment, so having a list of things I need to tick off is an ideal situation, especially for a Saturday.

For me, writing a To Do list is a creative act. It's a little time spent imagining and the end result is a little gift to myself. Here, if you're bored, here are some things you need To Do. And, just like there are two kinds of grocery shopping, the kind where you go and get all the items that you have found you need over the week and the trip where you allow an hour or so to wander through each aisle and discover what you need, there are two different kind of To Do lists. There is the list that is basically a sticky place to put those things you must do and, as you think of them you write them down or you might lose them. This kind of list is often jotted on the back of an ATM receipt or an errant piece of junk mail.

But, there is also the list you must dream up or cogitate. This is a list where I start with a particularly nice pen, clean, crisp sheet of paper number it to ten and then spend time trying to fill it. It's not about finding necessary errands or must dos. No. Not at all. It's about holding a conversation with myself about the things I might want to try, or dream to accomplish. Here in this dreamy state, I stumble upon these things in the attic of my mind, dust them off and decide if they deserve to be captured somewhere for possible future use. This was the kind of To Do list I set out to work on this morning.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, the kids were so animated and funny, I found myself unable to get to my introspective place. Instead, I was drawn into their silliness. Next to me were their moms. Standing just far enough away to allow their kids their independence, but close enough to keep an eye on them (and to purchase monster cookies and hot ciders as needed). There was one boy among four girls. He reminded me of what Liam might become. The ham. Comfortable in his skin, but relying on those around him to laugh at his dramatic moves and looks. At one point, I leaned over to his mother and said, "I have one of those at my house. He's only eighteen months right now, but he's going to be just like that." She looked at me with a wide, proud grin and told me how sorry she was for me.

I finally left and went on my merry way. Later on that evening one of the mothers and her daughter who had been there at that Starbucks was at a church event with me. The mother came over and kindly introduced herself to me. She told me that her daughter had spotted me across the room and told her mom, "Hey Mom. There's that lady from Starbucks this morning." I was touched to be remembered, although mildly offended at being called "lady." Whatever happened to girl? I used to be that girl. When did that all change? Maybe when you become a mom other people's kids can't help but see you as their mom, an older person, another generation. I am struggling with being "that lady." Next To Do list I conjure up, I'm going to be sure to put something on there about reclaiming my girlishness!

Living with the 'Rents

Living with my parents at the age of nearly 38 is quite an interesting experience. Sometimes I liken it to the Native Americans who lived, all generations coexisting, in one long house. This is our long house. Sometimes, we refer to our arrangement as the village. Sometimes, even as the f#$%ing village, as in: It takes an f@#$ing village to raise a child.

For the most part, this is an extremely practical arrangement. We all share resources. I have great assistance in caring for the kids. My parents get to reexperience the reward of raising children. Most of the time, it's a lovely situation for all of us.

However, some days it's not. On those days, my mother and father are stressed and overwhelmed by the chaos. I sometimes get tired of living by their rules and in their house. I crave my own independent existence. On those days, I saltily storm about and every little thing I do gets on their nerves.

I think the therapist was right when she said there is no way to avoid it, living with your parents is an infantalizing experience. Sad, but true. I find myself acting like a petulant sixteen year old. Today, for instance, I slept in late and then felt like a lazy load sitting on the couch drinking my coffee while my mother scurried around getting my daughter ready for school. That's just not right, is it? Why am I such a brat sometimes?

Look at our cute little village:

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Boys Love Cars

I've always been one who did not believe in gender biases. I also had decided early on that I did not want to foster traditional roles in my children either. So, I gave Elena cars and trucks as a baby and I gave Liam a doll, cookware and a stroller for his first birthday. Elena was great. She played with animals, art supplies, natural elements exclusively, she wasn't fond of dress-up or princesses or dolls (phew!). I proudly patted myself on the back for raising her exactly as I had planned. Good work, Momma! Then, came Liam.

When Liam was six months old, he growled in the car. Later we discovered he was actually "communing" with the downshifting of the car. He has always been into all things car. Anything with a wheel, tv shows about construction vehicles, trains, firemen, immediately ratchet him in. If Thomas the Tank Engine is on, he will happily stand eight inches from the tv until it is shut off. Suffice it to say he is all traditional "boy."

I was encouraged when he seemed to take to a pink a stroller our sitter brought over one day. Perhaps this would bring out the sensitive, feminine side of Liam. Then, last week, I went outside to find this:

Apparently, baby trucks need to be cared for as well. Awwwwwwwwww...

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Try the Latest and Greatest...Dental Diet!

So, as you can read in my previous posts, I had some dental work done. I had a bridge put in after having some teeth pulled. While not horrific at all, I am suffering a side effect of weight loss. It could be just the pain of my gums and the swelling which hasn't healed, but that's not the only thing making food less appealing. So, first on the list is pain, but there are three other impediments to food enjoyment playing a role.

Interestingly enough, when my mouth changed and my new bridgework was added, it became more of a focus while eating than taste. The senses used to be busy savoring flavors and rolling textures around in my mouth, are now busy being perturbed by this new appliance in there, its clunkiness, its own taste, its cumbersome shape that gets in the way while I am eating ANYTHING.

I alluded to the second problem in that last sentence above. Because the appliance gets in the way of everything, I am forced to slow my eating WAY, WAY down. I have to keep all food well away from it, or if I decide to entangle it, spend a lot of tongue and lip attention to make sure I keep it clean. It's a major food trap. Eating slowly was something I had put on my list to work on this year. I am pleased with this outcome of the surgery and dental work. I only wish I wasn't feeling like a bridled mustang, or a Ferrari following a Sunday driving pair of blue hairs in a Cadillac. I am slower, but I feel annoyed and intentionally slower. In fact, all in all, I am having to eat with WAY more intention than I ever did before. (I am actually having to relearn speaking some sounds with WAY more intention as well, but that's another blog).

Lastly, the dentist put me on a periodental rinse since I was having some gum bleeding and pain. This stuff makes my mouth border on numb and makes everything taste bitter. EVEN AFTER AN EIGHT HOUR SLEEP!!! My coffee this morning tasted like I had stirred horseradish into it. My toast had a background flavor of ear wax. It reminds of that Bitter Apple stuff we used to put on my sister's thumb to get her to stop sucking it.

Oh well. Five pounds down. Can't complain. I wonder if people would ever start having teeth pulled or swishing with horrible mouth wash to lose weight? It's less invasive than a gastric bypass.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Happy BIrthday Boppa!

I am posting this a day early, but I wanted to blog a tribute to the birthday boy, my dad. I won't embarass him by telling you how old he is this year, but let's just say he's in the middle age years.

When Elena came along, she made a grandpa out of my father for the first time and when Liam came along, my father got to see the first male child born with his genes mixed in. When Elena learned to talk, she made my father a Boppa and Boppa he has become to all of us. Liam is so attached to his Bops, if he hears him downstairs, he will drop everything and shimmy down the stairs as fast as his oddly stumpy legs will make possible.

Boppa is my work mentor and advisor. Right now, as I am trying to navigate the world of self-employment, I desperately need his help on a daily basis. He is gracious enough to answer my persistent phone calls and edit my documents. My father is my business colleague and it's been wonderful to get to know this other side of him as an adult.

Almost two years ago, Boppa had a gastric bypass. He's now as svelt as he ever was. He's lost over a hundred pounds. He walks NEARLY EVERY night, rain or shine. He's renewed his relationship to life and health. We are blessed to have him in our lives. We gratefully celebrate this day, his birth.

One of My Favorite Phrases

Is definitely...

The 80's called and they want your...[insert outdated characteristic here]...back.

I stumbled across this website. This woman has a business. She's in the graphic design business. Just LOOK at the icons, design of the website, even her hair. I was laughing HARD out loud.

All I can say is, the 80's called in a collection agency on this one and they are looking to reposess your entire Website, picture and clip art icons.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Son of a...F%^$@ing Jiffy Lube

How is a girl supposed to ever trust anyone in this world? How am I supposed to raise children to grow up and be good people when such selfishness and dishonesty exists?


Watch This

(although, side note, I do think it's pretty hysterical, when the guy at the end is denying his identity and makes up a fake name on the fly).