Monday, November 22, 2010

Waiting for Snow

It needs to snow tonight. I really want a day off tomorrow.

I want a day off tomorrow because I am tired. I am tired because I RAN THIRTEEN-POINT-ONE FREAKING MILES ON SATURDAY! And also because my kids are totally taking years off my life by slowly driving me crazy. Plus I'd like another beer (I limit myself to one on school nights- if the white stuff starts coming down I'll be pouring another).

So hurry up with this promised snowstorm already.

Nobody wants to see pictures of little old me running the race (I mean really, there are few things in life less flattering than pictures of me running), so here a few shots of Jack in his moments of glory. I am happy to report that he did not finish in last place this time. Atta boy!

Winner. Indeed.

This is boring. Let's get a donut already.

Alright, alright, here you go. A picture of the old man and me crossing the finish. My goal was to run the entire way and finish without looking like I was about to collapse- I think I succeeded, don't you? I wanted to run the race in under 2:12, my previous time from the half marathon I ran in Nice, France in 2003. That race was memorable because there were no bathroom stations along the way, they ran out of water, and runners were handed squares of dark chocolate somewhere around mile 10. Vive la France! Allez les filles!

Okay, so yes, back to the idea of not looking like I am dying. Mission accomplished. Finish time: 2:05!

My legs are sore (my knee is fine?!) and I'm generally fatigued. So that's why I'm really hoping for this day off. (Just checked- still rain.)

I'd also like some recuperation time from the horrid realization this weekend that Jack has gone from a three-year-old to a teenager overnight. I present you with the evidence:

Gah! MY BAYYYBEE! How did this happen? (I need another beer tonight for sure.)

A bona-fide teenager, complete with mood swings and angst. (Maybe two?)

Sawyer is still my little buddy, for now.

We made applesauce this weekend and I did some more binge sewing. I've really been cranking things out lately because we are hoping to do homemade gifts for everybody this year (Family spoiler alert! You've been warned. Try not to look too disappointed when you unwrap that crocheted toaster cozy! Just kidding, I don't know how to crochet. Yet...). I somehow have become one of those people who gets really excited about Christmas and starts squirreling little gifts away in my closet starting in June... usually I forget about all of my preplanning until I clean out my closet in March and wonder what that slinky is doing in with my scarves.

But this year I am planning ahead for a different reason: San Francisco! Yes, that's right- Mama's going on a vacation! Me! A trip! With friends who are adults and can take care of themselves. And more importantly, without the little people who are staying home with Dad. I'm going to Alcatraz! I'll shop! I'll eat in a restaurant without booster seats or crayons or bibs or saltine crackers! I'll have wine with dinner. Or maybe even with lunch! I'll sleep in! Oh yes, lap of luxury here I come!

The trip is set for the weekend before Christmas, which means that I'll be busting my butt from now until then to get everything ready for The Big Day. Because it is a big day.

It hasn't always been. I hated Christmas for years.

Whenever somebody dies, you especially miss them during the holidays. Christmas was my mom's big day and without her around, it felt really empty for a long time. I still don't always deal with the holidays well, at some point I'll be nursing a glass of Chardonnay in a bathroom while choking back a sob and cursing myself for wearing eye makeup, but for the most part, I now enjoy the season. It's the kids. They might be driving me crazy with their antics, but at least now I can get excited for Christmas.

And I'll really get excited about a stack of pajamas for Christmas Eve and a train hat!

If this snow would ever start, I'd get pretty freaking excited about that, too.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sewing for Boys, the Accidental Cookie, and Further Adventures on the Bike Path

Am I a horrible person for admitting that I really wanted Sawyer to be a girl? And am I even more despicable for confessing that my number one reason for wanting a girl was so that I could sew cute little things for her? Shallow and selfish, I know, but I am being honest here.

But two boys I have, and two boys I love and of course I wouldn't have it any other way. (Sawyer could have done something other than scream for the first FOUR MONTHS of his life, but other than that, I suppose I can't complain. Too much.)

Sewing for boys kind of sucks. There are only so many pairs of pajamas and Halloween costumes that a sew happy mama can make. It's really hard to get inspired to sew cute little things for boys. But! Look at these adorable pants I made for Sawyer! It's all about the fabric with boy clothes and I picked this print up over the summer in Portland and stashed it away for something special. I love how the cuffs turned out.

And I'm so glad that someone finally told me to add an extra row of stitching across the top of the waistband to give the pants a more finished look. I really love how these turned out.

Brent and a few friends went out and picked Chanterelle mushrooms last weekend. I was all freaked out about us accidentally eating poisonous/possibly hallucinogenic mushrooms but Brent looked up mushroom identification online and found that Chanterelles are unique in that they smell like apricots. Who knew? So nobody got sick or tripped out and we all enjoyed mushroom lasagna and a mushroom and onion quiche this week. Even though Brent hates mushrooms. Which makes you wonder why he picked them in the first place...

Mmmmm. Dirty, earthy fungi. I love mushrooms.

We had Lily at our house for two evenings last week so her mama could work late while her dad is out of town. I love that she feels so comfortable at our house and fell into our family rhythm just fine. Everyone got tired so I just tucked Lily into bed with Jack and she was out like a light. It's so nice to have friends around to share in the raising of your kids.

This weekend was the last farmers' market and it was a cold and wet one. Instead of trucking down to visit dad at work, the boys and I kept busy in the warm kitchen making ciabatta bread, vegetarian chili, and oatmeal cookies. As we started the cookie dough Jack and I discovered that the sugar ants had invaded the brown sugar (how do they do that? It wasn't even opened yet) and so we made the cookies without much of the required amount of sugar and then, just for fun, I threw in some wheat flour. These cookies were seeming healthier by the minute, but I worried that they wouldn't be sweet enough, so Jack suggested that we add some coconut flakes. They turned out delicious. Oh, and if you are wondering if we make cookies on a weekly basis, wonder no more, we do.

Jack's Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 sticks unsalted butter (this is why I run!)
1/2 cup brown/white sugar (I had to mix the two)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups wheat/white flour (again, I mixed)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups uncooked oats
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Oven to 350. Beat butter, sugar, vanilla. Add eggs. Combine your dry ingredients and mix in to the wet. Stir in oats and chocolate chips. Bake 10-12 minutes, let cool on sheet before transferring to a wire rack.

And it just wouldn't be a blog entry if I didn't mention running, now would it? As you may recall, I have found myself in some interesting situations on the bike path near our house, but there has been nothing new to report in that department for awhile. No Lance sightings. No blood. No guns. Just your run of the mill bike path encounters. I am a totally bike path regular and over time I have discovered that there are other regulars on the path, as well. I often see the same group of people sitting under the same bridge and they often wave or call out cheerful greetings and words of encouragement to me as I run by. I am always friendly and sometimes engage them in small talk as I heave that stroller up the incline, because I figure that the friendlier I am the more likely these people will come to my defense if Bloody Drunk Guy comes after me. Or if I get in Lance's way. So anyway, I have developed somewhat of a rapport with the bike path locals, I guess is my point.

Wednesday afternoon I decided to go running, completely forgetting about that pesky daylight savings business. I coerced the kids into the stroller and off we went. They were being quiet and kicking back to relax and so I pulled out my iPod and started to listen to the podcast "This American Life", which many people had recommended to me but that I had never actually listed to before.

The topic was unconditional love, and the host, Ira Glass, was talking about studies done on monkeys in the 1950s which proved that the bond between a mother and infant goes much deeper than the feeding (duh!) but then he went on about the cruel ways in which this theory was proven and I started to sniffle a bit as I thought about those poor baby monkeys who had been taken away from their mamas.

As I rounded the corner that marks the halfway point of my run, I realized that there was no way I would make it home before dark. No choice to make there. I just had to keep going.

The kids were getting restless and started bickering about leaves and cups and whose boots were touching whose side of the footrest, etc. I just turned up the volume and ignored them.

So then Ira interviews this couple who adopted a son from Romania who (no surprise here) suffered from attachment disorder and their experience really tested the boundaries of unconditional love. It was a heartbreaking story and the mom spoke so candidly about raising this son who seemed incapable of love. I was really getting choked up at this point. The kids were still bickering halfheartedly at this point.

I turned on to the bike path. The home stretch! Only a mile and half to go! By now it was totally dark, but the path is well lit and there were enough bikers and other runners that I felt safe enough. Ira then goes on to interview a couple whose son had severe autism and they told the story of their excruciating decision to institutionalize him at the age of twelve. This story was so incredibly sad, you knew that the parents ultimately were doing the right thing for their child, but it was so hard to listen to them as they described the moment when they said goodbye and returned home to an empty house. At this point I was sobbing uncontrollably. If you've never experienced this before, crying while running is an interesting phenomenon that doesn't really work out so well. I would have stopped to walk, but the kids had reached their stroller breaking points and were now alternating between trying to jab each other's eyes out and shrieking. So I kept on running, trying to catch my breath, and making a sound that I could only imagine to be akin to that of an asthmatic donkey.

And then we see a large group of people coming toward us with a couple of dogs and a shopping cart or two. And then they stop me to ask me for directions. And then I recognize a few of those people as some of my regulars on the path. The kids are screaming and I am a sobbing mess. I try to answer their question but all I can do is croak out this raspy incoherent response.

"Are you okay? Do you need something?" They think that something is really wrong and that I need help. I can barely get the words out to explain that I miscalculated the daylight left, my kids are grouchy, and that I have been listening to this gut wrenching podcast about unconditional love. I then recognize how insane I must seem.

Ahem. So, crazies on the bike path. I am one of them.

Back to sewing! Look at this adorable shirt! I copied this tutorial and you should, too. This one was easy because I simply "repurposed" an old shirt of mine and so I did not have to bother with the hem. I really can't believe how easy this was.

The author of the tutorial uses a serger, but I just left the edges raw and I love the way it turned out.

In fact, sewing this shirt was way easier than trying to get a decent picture of Sawyer modeling it.

Many of our pictures of him end up like this...

He really wants to get ahold of that camera.

The half marathon is next Saturday at 9. Here's a link to the course map, in case you plan to come cheer us on. We'll be running (hopefully) 9 1/2 minute miles ish so you can do the math if you want to. Or just stay home in your cozy, warm house and make some of Jack's cookies. Which actually sounds like the sane thing to do.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Journey

Daylight savings is a bitch. This whole business of "spring forward" and "fall back" really screws up your life when you have small children who rise with the sun. And so it was that at 6:30 this morning (yes, I know, it could have been worse) I awakened to the sound of dueling high pitched voices calling out "Mommy!" (Jack, who is perfectly capable of getting himself out of bed) and "MAAAAMMMMEEEEE!" (Sawyer, who is still incarcerated in the crib). Just once I'd like them to wake up hollering for Dad. Just once.

Coffee. Breakfast for the kids. Running clothes.

Oh yes, today was the big day. Not the half marathon, that's November 20th, and I'll be providing you with all of the details in case you are bored out of your skull enough to come stand in the rain (just a guess) and watch people run for two plus hours. Today was the big day, though, because today was the final long training run. The twelve miler. My dad and I hitched a ride to Springfield and as we climbed from the cozy, NPR filled car and looked around at our dismal surroundings and the threatening clouds over our heads, we both had one of those "What the hell are we doing here?" sort of moments. The Subaru vanished and we had no choice but to run. All the way to north Eugene. And then back around to my car, which we had parked at EWEB. And so we did. And it was totally awesome.

But what about the race? Isn't that supposed to be the big day?

I realized that this half marathon isn't about the race at all. It's so much more important than that. It's been my reason for hauling myself out of bed, rain or shine, every weekend and lacing up my running shoes and heading out the door. It's been my motivation for doing those mid week shorter runs, even on the days when work has exhausted me and the thought of pushing the stroller, heavy with two kids, seems impossible. It's been my quiet, alone time to reflect, plan lessons, and to sort things out when I run by myself. It's been time with my dad, time that we've never had before, and that we might not have again for awhile, when we run together on the weekend. You really get to know a person when you run twelve miles together. I feel closer to my dad now than I ever have.

The journey has been more meaningful than the destination. I will be sad when the race has been run. I will miss the journey.

And yeah, I know, we could just sign right up for another half marathon, right? But really I can't. It's too much time. My kids need me. Brent needs me. I need to spend my Sunday mornings at home with pancakes and the newspaper and my family again for awhile.

Also, there are other journeys in my life that need my attention. The sometimes daunting and overwhelming undertaking of raising two kids to be decent human beings, for one. This world seems so effed up sometimes: people hate each other because of their differences, the gap between the haves and have nots widens, schools are closing... Sometimes it all seems so corrupt. I am constantly obsessing over how my actions of today, and the actions of those around them, will influence my children tomorrow. Will they go to good schools? Will they be happy? Healthy? Interesting? Empathetic? Funny? Athletic? Tolerant? Well-read? Most importantly, will they be themselves? I know I will miss this journey, too, once the destination has been reached, but damn, this is one hell of a ride.

Kind of makes that half marathon look easy now, doesn't it?

Monday, November 1, 2010

For Chelsey

Halloween 2010- thank gawd that's over. I mean I've only been costume planning since August and all, but really I'm feeling ready to move on to bigger and better things, like Christmas! Yes, I know what you're thinking: Christmas?! WTF? It's barely November! But I have somehow become the person who starts thinking about the holidays waaaay in advance and obsessing over every minor detail to the point that I ruin the holidays by stressing out the people around me. Well, not quite... but there was that one Halloween when I was frantically (and grouchily) sewing a puppy suit on the afternoon of... And that's exactly why I've been planning this Halloween since August. I can learn from my mistakes.

So yeah, about Christmas. I'm excited! Already!

Back to Halloween. Jack got to dress up in his costume for preschool on Friday and posed for a shot with his old buddy Quentin. The Jack/Quentin friendship has endured some trying times this year, what with the new kid, Eden, joining the class. Jack and Eden hit it off and Jack's been snubbing Quentin whenever Eden is around. Quentin's mom even recounted to me an incident when Jack was holding hands with Eden and wouldn't let Quentin hold his other hand. Gaah- the drama! And so it begins...

Here's Jack with his preschool class. Pay special attention to the teacher with the long, brown hair. She'll come into our story later. (Eden was absent that day. He seems to have an attendance problem. I'm rooting for Quentin.)

Fall can be beautiful. Fall can be crisp and clean. Fall can also be a rainy, muddy mess. We stocked up on rain boots and I about threw a hissy fit at Fred Meyer about the fact that apparently only girls wear raincoats since the boys' section had none. Blatant sexism! I am so SICK of retailers who cater to girls- boys need cute clothes (and raincoats) too, you know! What the hell, Fred Meyer, what the hell? (I told you it was a hissy fit. I am still mad.)

And then it was the BIG DAY! Jack and I had been rehearsing the whole trick-or-treat routine and he seemed to have it down pat. Sawyer, as usual, was just along for the ride and dressed in the aforementioned puppy suit, which is now in its third year of use, thankyouverymuch. Our first stop was Doug and Mary's house. We pulled up in front and I quickly reviewed the procedure with Jack, "Take only one piece of candy" "Don't forget to say thank you" etc. He had his game face on. His eye was on the prize. This kid was ready! He shot me a confident grin, scrambled up the steps, and tapped gingerly on the door.

Little did we know, Grandpa Doug was in costume, too.

And as you can imagine, that did not go over so well with Sawyer. He may be traumatized for awhile. If not by the fact that his grandpa was wearing the monster mask, then for sure by the fact that his mother laughed uncontrollably and snapped pictures instead of coming to his rescue. Oops.

Nothing a little candy in the car on the way home couldn't fix.

Then it was time for dinner with Lily (Tinkerbell) and family and some trick-0r-treating around the block. The kids made a haul and we survived the entire ordeal without rain and with minimal antics (Sawyer managed to run into a few houses...)

And now it's all over and we are stuck with a mountain of candy and two cracked out kids who apparently think about NOTHING but candy from morning until night. I'm not sure what we are going to do about all of this sugar lurking around the house. Jack is way too skeptical for us to pull some sort of candy fairy business (the kid is already questioning the logistics of Santa!) and I simply cannot bear the idea of keeping it around and doling it out piece by piece. So far our strategy has been to let the kids have a piece after dinner and then Brent and I gorge ourselves after they go to bed. I guess at this rate that candy will be gone in no time...

(I think it's worth mentioning that Brent used a drill to carve one of the pumpkins this year. I'm not making any sort of statement, not passing any judgement, just letting you know that power tools were used on our Halloween decor this year. It was a git-er-done sort of Halloween, I suppose.)

And now I'd like to tell you about my new friend Chelsey. She's a friend of a friend, and you know how these things go... you're never quite sure when that line is crossed from being friend-of-friend to actual friend, but because Chelsey is now my facebook friend and because we have discussed things like whether or not I am too old to wear skinny jeans (she says I am not!) and because now she has been to my house to drink copious amounts of wine, Chelsey is my friend.

But this story takes place last summer, before the wine and the talk of skinny jeans and the facebook friending. Back when Chelsey was just a friend of a friend. I was at the park with the kids and they were being particularly annoying and so I was basically ignoring them and standing around wishing some adult would come and amuse me with witty conversation. No takers. But then I saw Chelsey and she came over and we started to chat it up about how annoying my kids were being and how kids are just annoying in general. And in my attempt at humor I made some comment about bringing them to the park so I could ignore them and talk to adults and blah blah blah. She told me she was there watching a friend's kid and I said something along the lines of "How did you get suckered into that?" and ha ha and more blah blah blah. I knew that Chelsey had recently gotten a new job and so I asked her where she was working.

And then she turned and looked at me like I was insane.

Which I am.

Because IT WASN'T CHELSEY I had been talking to! It was one of Jack's preschool teachers! And I am the biggest dumbest LOSER ever. What could I do? I had to own it. And now Jack's preschool teacher knows what a terrible mother I really am! She has never looked at me the same since.

And so, Chelsey, please return to the top photo to see that, in fact, you really don't resemble her as much as I had convinced myself that you did. Damn it!

In conclusion, Halloween is over, Sawyer will need therapy, I got a picture of the teacher to show Chelsey (!!), and there is now further proof in the growing body of evidence to support the idea that I am a total dork. As if you couldn't tell by that last sentence.

Anybody want any candy?