Monday, October 31, 2011

Swim Lessons

Some days when I come home from work I wish that it would be like coming home from swim lessons.

Swim lessons, swim team really, was a full body workout. A full body workout right around lunchtime, so I never ate very much before lessons, because who wants to swim on a full stomach. After swim lessons, it was chow-down time. 

One sibling would grab the mail from our box so that we would have something to read for chow-down time. We had our favorites: Parents magazine was good, Real Simple was excellent, and of course any newsletter or personal note addressed to my mother was fair game. If it was a slow mail day we would gather our most recent library books. 

Almost always, we had Adventures in Odyssey playing. And for our snack: cheddar rice cakes and goldfish. And oh my word. We absolutely consumed the rice cakes and goldfish. Often a second bag of rice cakes was needed. Or a bag of popcorn. Or two bags of popcorn. We were famished. It didn't matter that mother was preparing dinner as we were snacking because we were so hungry. We would sit there, reading, listening, and snacking for a solid hour. 

And as much as I like rice cakes, Odyssey and reading, the best part was that we were relaxing. We were clearing our minds. We were giving our bodies a chance to make it to the end of the day. 

When I come home from work I go for a run or start making dinner. It is not restful. It doesn't help me to clear my mind. And it doesn't give me an extra oomph! to make it to the end of the day. And the worst part? You can't find those rice cakes anywhere. Off the market. Completely. 

Some days I just need a good rice cake, and an hour to truly enjoy it.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Trick or Treat

I never celebrated Halloween. I never went Trick or Treating, never made a costume, never had any Halloween decor lying about the house. My mother was not a fan of this holiday. And by not a fan, I mean that we would high-tail it out of our neighborhood every Halloween evening before the costumed children came begging and return after they had gone to bed. Now, to be fair, my parents did dress my brother as a pumpkin when he was very small but he didn't make it long into the night before being a tired little whiner and my father ate most of the candy. After that experience, my mother stuck to her convictions and created a Halloween tradition for our family: a night of family bonding.

For many, many, many years we went to Marc's Fun Time Pizza Plaza, a predecessor to Chuckie Cheese's. And we had a blast, playing games and earning tickets and cashing them in at the end of the night for twisty straws and bouncy balls. We moved on to bowling with another family who didn't celebrate Halloween. We felt like we were almost-normal since we had met someone like us who did not Trick or Treat. Plus, their mother always gave each of us a gigantic bag of candy since she was not opposed to that part of the holiday. 

Last year was my first without the family bonding evening. I bought candy and was anxiously awaiting the time when I could open my door, admire the costumes and hand out yummy candy. We had six little Trick or Treaters come by. And I didn't see a single one. Mister was working in the yard that evening and brought the candy bowl outside with him. He saw every single costume. All six of them. 

We don't have sidewalks in our neighborhood, and the majority age group around these streets is 65+. There are not a lot of children, (obviously, with only six little ones running around on Halloween night!) and there is not a safe place for them to walk. I am not sure exactly what we will do when we have little ones. I know I will want to dress them as little ladybugs and pea-pods but oh what to do about this no sidewalk issue!! My parents still live in the neighborhood where I grew up, overpopulated with children at all times and sidewalks all over the place and neighbors ready to hand you your own bag of Snickers because they are so very generous. Solution: we will take our family and Trick or Treat in my parent's neighborhood. My mother cannot know about this. I will bribe my father to keep the secret with candy. This is a perfect plan.

Until then, please come by Trick or Treaters! I bought some candy and I have a pretty carved pumpkin to greet you!

Also, I have to add that this was the first pumpkin I ever carved and I am very proud of myself.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

First-World Problems

We spent last week wandering. 

Aimlessly wandering.

And wondering. 

Wondering what we did without our iMac.

Let me take you back to the fall of 2009. Newly engaged and excited for what was to come, we received an early Christmas present – an iMac. We picked out the size we wanted at Best Buy and loaded up the box in the backseat. The Mister strapped it in with the seat belt and I laughed "it’s our baby! Our baby iMac." 

So you see this iMac is really our first child. 

And on Sunday October 9, we spent the entire day hiking the metropark trails and enjoying the sunshine. We arrived home that evening and our baby iMac wouldn’t turn on. Mister wrapped up our baby in a blanket for it’s extended stay at the Apple store. It didn’t help that our troubles were the same week as Apple’s software update and iPhone 4s release. Needless to say, our baby iMac was not Apple’s first priority. 

Oh and the comments! Don’t you have an external hardrive? Yes. And didn’t your iMac come with Time Machine? Yes. Then why didn’t you… We know! We know we should have backed everything up!

We waited, we paced, we didn’t know how to spend our evenings. What if everything was gone? We didn’t know how much money we could spend because we couldn’t look at our budget spreadsheet. I cried over pictures from our honeymoon in the mountains, our trip to beautiful Michigan, and our many MANY pictures of our garden – flowers, potato planting, strawberries changing colors. They could all be gone.

On Saturday the 15 we got the call and raced to the Apple store to pick up our baby. And our hardrive, which is now separate from our baby. So now we face the question: how much will we spend before we accept that our first year of marriage has been erased forever?

We know our problems are so first-world. We have our wedding and engagement photographs (thank you wonderful photographers for giving us a disc!!). We’ve re-created our iTunes library. We have our home.  We have each other. We’re doing ok, really.

But for goodness sakes people… be sure to back your stuff up!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Too Much Fun

Throughout the day, the Mister prods me for details, "what are you thinking about?" or "tell me about your day" and "are you thinking or just spacing out?" and always I don’t have much to say. Until my head hits the pillow. Strangely, magically, I turn into a chatterbox. And all I want to do is talk about my day, who I saw, funny things I said, our favorite memories of this date or that date or when we first knew we loved each other, what we want to name potential future children, and on and on. And all Mister wants to do is sleep. And then I get upset. And then Mister apologizes. But he can’t remember what I was wearing on our first date. And he doesn’t think what I said earlier that day was very funny. And then he falls asleep.

And I lay there. Staring at the ceiling. Not sure what to do.

Because I grew up with sisters. And I always shared a room. And we always spent an hour after "going to bed" talking or playing. And we had so much fun. And when we were especially small my mother or father would knock on the door and say in their most intimidating parent voice "Girls! It’s time to go to sleep!" And we would be quiet for about two minutes and start the fun all over again.

There was the shopping game: take the tag from the bedspread and use it as a shopping list. Walk around the bed picking out four oranges and a box of raisins and everything else on the list. One sister is the shopper and the other is the cashier. Then we switched.

There was the fake dollhouse game: Pretend that there are people who are one inch tall and they live in a house as big as our bedroom. What would they do with that many rooms? How many children do they have? We decide that both of our "peoples" families will live in the same house but on different floors. Which floors do you want? I decide that the father of my family is Omar Vizquel. My family is instantly a million times more cool than my sister’s family, but I let them stay in the giant house anyway.

We tell our parents we can't sleep without our favorite baby dolls, proceed to play with baby dolls all night, "my baby needs a diaper change," "my baby is learning how to walk," and then in the morning both baby dolls are on the floor. I think this was the first indication that I would not be a good snuggler. Sorry Mister.

We tell our parents we can't sleep in the dark. We need the nightlight to be on at all times. No Daddy, you can't turn it off when you go to bed. We NEED it. And then we use the nightlight to read stories until very late at night, and then "GIRLS! IT'S TIME TO GO TO SLEEP!"

We always got in trouble for having too much fun.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Kitchen Victories

I get real excited when my kitchen creations mirror something I grew up with.

Tonight: Indonesian Stew over Rice. Translation: Hachee. Yummy? Absolutely!

Feels like a success. The meat wasn't quite so tender, the carrots weren't quite as cooked, but the eaters were happy! I continue to surprise myself by creating food that is edible. I'll never forget the day I set spaghetti on fire in my parent's kitchen. Babysitting, dogsitting, and kitchensitting didn't jazz that night. Picture Olympic torch in the shape of uncooked spaghetti noodles and you are picturing the exact details of the night. Enter a yapping dog and a crying toddler and you can see why I've been a little skittish around the cosina.

Tonight was a victory!

Great Work

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on."

Steve Jobs | 1955 - 2011

I saw this quotation here. 

I've been hoping for something that makes me excited to get out of bed in the morning, something that makes me proud, something that I can look at and say, "this is great work." I believe in great work. I still have to find it, but I do believe. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Season

Today was a perfect fall day. 
All the rain that has been pouring down for the past week has clogged my mind with misconceptions about this season.
It is a lovely time of year.
The sun is shining and the leaves are changing colors.
The girls walk around in boots and scarves (the latter being my favorite accessory of all time).
I don’t sweat very much when I run.
The Mister made me a mug of hot chocolate when I came in from a rainy run last week.
The fall hiking spree has begun and the Mister and I have enjoyed two walks through some splendid Midwestern scenery.
Soups are on the stove again – I am excited to make broccoli&cheese and wild rice&chicken.
A fire in our wood burning stove makes a comforting crackling sound. 
Kids are back in school.
I wish I was back in school. I love the first day of class and the first day of mid-terms and the first day of finals.
I fell in love in the fall – in fact, truth: I fell in love every fall for four years in a row.

There is a promise of new in the fall air – new semester, new classes (when I was younger) new focus, new commitments (now). I'm hoping for more things new.

This is a picture of my most favorite of fall days – spending time in an enchanted yellow forest and falling in love for the last time.

Monday, October 3, 2011


We had a family bathroom when I was little. One bathroom with two many toothbrushes for the toothbrush holder and drawers full of hair bows, deodorant and after shave. Truly a wild assortment. We also had a guest bathroom that remained fresh and clean at all times because we were not even allowed to look inside. As I reflect on this I wonder why my parents would not want their own bathroom space. Why would they choose to have their bathtub so cluttered with tear-free shampoo and bath toys? Why would they want five towels hanging around? Or a baby potty right next to the regular toilet? Plus, the only way into the family bathroom was to walk through their room. They were woken up many times to the sound of a little one making a midnight potty run or even worse, the sounds of a little one being sick. Yet I think the greatest inconvenience to my father was that his toothbrush was fully accessible to us.

I am not sure what the story was or why the toothbrush was a point of contention between my father and his mother, my grandmother. What I do know is that every time my grandmother visited she requested that me or my brother or my sister run along and fetch our father’s toothbrush for her. She would inspect it carefully and determine whether we had to throw it out or put it back. “Look at these bristles,” she would say with a frown while my father protested in the background, “LEAVE IT ALONE!” Grandma usually won and I would skip happily to the garbage can with toothbrush in hand, feeling a little devious but happy to be part of the conspiracy against my dad.

This strange exchange when my grandmother walked in the door made me feel that my dad was more relatable. He was just a bigger kid who was still getting in trouble with his mom. I felt like it put us on an equal playing field. Until I didn’t wait for my grandmother to come over and inspect the toothbrush and I just threw it away without her guidance. Then it was me, in trouble with my mother, for throwing away my dad’s toothbrush.