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Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Birthday...to our baby

Anyone who has kids knows that it is nearly impossible to wrap your head around the fact that your child comes to you as a helpless infant and within a radically short span of time becomes a citizen of the world with ideas, opinions, proclivities, quirks, mannerisms, dreams and desires of their very own. 

Just to look over our shoulders for a moment...

In the beginning:





First birthday.


                                                                                               Second birthday.

Last year.


Earlier this week:



And just yesterday. 





Here she is world!  She stands on her own two feet and is ready to take you by storm.  Consider yourself forewarned.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Maya: two going on dictator of small nation

Maya's third birthday is tomorrow.

I find myself in pure wonderment of how much personality this child has developed in three short years, from exiting the womb in a swift four minutes to walking around the house, naked, carrying a winter hat around and saying, "I have a carrot in my hat!"  (And sure enough, she does.)

Maya, not unlike the mom whose genetics she shares, is a fiercely independent creature.  I remember when Sandi was in labor the night Maya was born.  She didn't want to sound the labor alarm for everyone to get in their cars and drive to the hospital.  She would lie down and rest a little, read a book to Ella, get up and walk (all the while we were coaxing her to get in the car and let me take her to the hospital.)  Finally, when she had trouble talking and standing she said, "OK, I think it's time now." No fuss.  No hurry.  No crisis.

Maya shares the independence, but negative on the lack of drama.

Maya needs to have the "Annie" soundtrack in each car she travels in.  From the backseat comes the demand:  "It's a hard knock life!"  She knows the words or makes them up, the intonation, the dramatic rise and fall of the music.  She kicks to the rhythm, tilts her head back and belts out "Tomorrow" as though she is little orphan Annie desperately hoping to find her parents.

Who are, of course, in the front seat.

Last night at supper she said, "My clip is falling out!  My clip is falling out!  Help Punjab help!!!"  (If you haven't watched Annie lately, there is a scene at the end when Annie is suspended up high, about to fall, and she calls out to Punjab the body card for help, amidst tears and terrified screams.)

She is a girl full of spirit and spunk, fire and determination.  She can just as easily wrap her arms around you and tell you she loves you or smack you on the face and scowl at you.  Last week she had to be fireman carried out of the mall because she took off on us three different times.  As I carried her out, kicking and screaming, "I WANT MOMMY!", I sighed and understood this is all part of having Maya.  (Sandi was surprised and a little mortified that no one stopped me, carrying a child that was crying for her mother.  Good point.)

We have coined the phrase:  "Sometimes Maya's love hurts."

She loves bandans (bandaids) and bloshclothes (washcloths), her big sister (except when she is compelled to bite her), her teacher Miss Lynn at school and pasta.  She is a pack rat who always has to take a bag in the car full of puzzle pieces, plastic food, hair elastics and a piece of jewelry.  She doesn't care much for dessert but loves candy.  She often can't choose between her favorite underpants so she wears two pairs.  She is a little bit crazy, a lot hilarious and we marvel at how so much outrageous can be contained in that tiny body. 

How can you want so much for your baby to be just a little less dependent on you and then still feel like you want to cry when you realize this is the last day she will be two?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Forgive me. I am taking care of myself.

I am coming to terms with finding a place for myself in my life.

I know this sounds foolish.  Trust me, I was that twentysomething who used to judge people like me.  Why do moms give up their identity and become just moms.  I won't do that when I have kids. I will find time for myself, I vowed.  I will NOT be one of THOSE moms, I promised my future self.

Yeeeeeeeah, about that...

Those are easy promises to make in the absence of kids.

I remember having a conversation with my mom and my sister last year sometime.  I said something about checking with Sandi and she with me about our plans.  My mom, single now for 25 years, says: "I don't know.  I don't feel like in an equal partnership one partner should have to check with the other about things he or she does."

My sister looked at her like she had three heads and then said, definitively: "You do if you have kids."

Point made.  Case closed.

New this fall, I have 6 hour per week that belong only to me.  Tuesday and Thursday mornings have become a refuge to my soul, not just because I have a million kidless things to do, but because I CAN DO WHATEVER I WANT. I check with no one.  I move as I wish.  Sometimes I work but I have found it hard to schedule that into my sacred time.  Sometimes it means a 25 mile bike ride and an uninterrupted hot shower.  Today it meant 3 hours at the gym attending some really fun, new classes just because I WANTED TO.  I had no one waiting on me, for me, no one to call and ask. 

And for the first time, I relished it.  I no longer felt like I should be using my kidless time in a better manner. I no longer feel like I need to make apologies for loving to spend my alone time exercising. 

See, if I'm not careful, I could spend ALL my time cleaning, doing laundry, making food, organizing closets, making phone calls, mopping floors.  I seriously could.  There is enough work to go around, plus some.  But that endless list of tasks has been choking the spirit, the ME, out of my life. 

And so, I am putting some of me back in the center of my life and allowing all the other pieces to find their way comfortably around it. I  feel like a willow who has bent just a tad too much by the steady force of the wind and is now developing some hearty roots to keep itself firm.  Unlike even a year ago when I hoped their would be time left over at the end of a day for me to take some for myself, I now make it part of my day, part of my routine. I run.  I do yoga.  I write.  I read.  I hike.  I run some more.  I don't run because I am good or super healthy or deserve a pat on the back.  I do it because it  feeds me in ways a clean house never could.  It is in those spaces where I AM me, separate from being mom, having meals to make, lunches to pack, shuffling to and from school to do, tantrums to unwind, pets to feed, doctors appointments to make, clothes to buy, clean, fold, put away, toys to pick up, fights to referee, baths to give, teeth to brush, shoes to put on and limits to set.

And you know the expression...when Momma's happy, everyone's happy. :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

evening it out

This morning I woke with a new attitude. I am going to enjoy my life.  I am fortunate, blessed, and have almost everything I could ever want.

I woke in my bed sandwiched with a child on either side, Sandi long gone at 4:30 am to hit the gym before work.  I thought,  focus on blessed with warm, loving little bodies rather than claustrophobia/sucking me dry. It worked.  It was going to be a good day.

Then the dog got skunked out in the 35 degree morning (and when you are only 10 pounds, you really are too spleeny to stay outside with your stinky self for too long.)  I juggled making eggs and toast for one child, cereal demands of the other and whipping up a peroxide/baking soda/dish soap concoction for the frantically scratching dog.

It can still be a good day.

When I went to unload the dishwasher I realized I had run it without soap and everything was seriously caked on.  Helpful.

There is still a chance. They are just dishes.  Deep breath in.  And out.

Then Ella started talking to me about Chinese kids who are adopted (she and my mom had some enlightened conversation at school pick up the other day.) "So there parents aren't their REAL parents, right?" she asked.  I explained that they aren't the ones that gave birth but they are very much the REAL parents, just like Sandi is to her and I am to Maya. 

Then she punched me in the gut with something like: "Well, Maya has her favorite which is Mommy and well, you..." And I honestly can't tell you if she voiced her thought but her preference for me and her very painful-for-everyone shunning at Sandi at times is something I try to ignore.  She might as well have said it aloud for she acts it out on more occasions than I would like to count. 

Great.  Our children, who are surrounded in love, encouragement, and parental sacrifice each prefer their biological mother.  Perfect.  What's next, a flying squirrel through the window?  Another sewer flood in the basement?

And yet...

A high court has ruled it unconstitutional to ban gays in the military and, while don't ask don't tell hasn't been officially revoked, openly gay people can enlist.  (And 20 year veterans who are outed hopefully will stop losing their military pensions.) 

I got to have lunch with one of my very best friends and feel sane among the insanity for an hour.

I tucked our girls into bed just now and they were content, sleepy and peaceful since grouchy momma had been replaced by deep breathing, slightly more grounded by yoga and running 5 miles today momma. 

Oh no.  I just realized.  I AM high maintenance.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

burnout

Disclaimer:  Please be pre- forewarned ahead of time (as my friend Charissa says).  This is a depressing, whiny sort of post.

I simply don't know what to do with myself.  I feel like I used to when I had an infant to take care of and she cried and cried and cried (seemingly) for hours on end and I pictured what it would be like to run out of the house and down the street and not look back.

Now of course I do that but with another adult left at home.  And I always return.

Lately I feel busier and more overwhelmed with the kids than I have in a long time and there are times when they are BOTH in school.  When they are together they fight and whine and I find myself craving my freedom, my time alone, my time to listen to my own music in the car (instead of the soundtrack of "Annie" on repeat), a want for a quiet adult dinner, the ability to move according to my own agenda. 

It feels like Sandi is working a ton (she is) and that I don't know where to fit in my own work and that when I do I pay for it with cranky kids.  Today we left school pick-up to head to the farm to get our Tuesday farm share and Ella accused me: "You didn't tell me we were going there." I ignored her but she persisted.  How to respond without being snarky back?  I simply said, "Yes I heard you." But wanted to scream, "I don't have to tell you everything!"

Signs of burnout:

- Sandi and I exchange text messages whose main theme is "can we steal away some time alone together?"
-The thought of packing lunch for Ella resorts me nearly to tears.
-Having time to run and workout isn't enough to balance me.
-Taking almost the whole day without kids to have such fun at the marathon relay was a fleeting break from the kids.
-When people talk to me about the possibility of their not ever having children, I find myself encouraging them.  I want to warn people about the bump growing where their belly used to be.  (Not you Ange, you know what's coming...)
-Having had an awesome hike with my friend Christine this morning, feeling greedy for more, rather than appreciative of the time I had.
-When I hear one complaint about the carrots served for supper I simply say, "Fine, don't eat them but you won't get anything else to eat today."
-I feel about parenting, in a word, cheerless.

I'm not sure why this happens sometimes that I am unable to summon the sacrifice needed for parenting and I just long for my own life but it has hit and I guess I just need to weather the storm. 

Time for some yoga.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Em's video

Since I stole all the photos off of Emilie's blog (in my defense I did take a few of them), I am also stealing her video.  But seriously, it is one of her best to date. 



The resounding theme?  Goodness, don't we know how to have fun!

marathon made easy: MDI Marathon Relay

"I like having someone else run part of my marathon for me." - said very wisely by Amy at the finish.
The group of 6 of us split into 2 groups of 3 to basically just enjoy a marathon experience (opposed to wanting to cut off our legs at mile 24.)

This is the first race we  have all done together since Burlington.  It was good to be back with my girls.



 Team 1:  Sporty Moms (Christine, Amy and Jen)
 
















Team 2:  Eat, Pray, Run (Susan, Emilie and myself)


















Emilie and Amy, first leg 8.5 miles
Susan and Christine- second leg 10.1 miles

Jen and me- last leg 7.6 miles

The Mount Desert Island, named most scenic marathon in the country for 2010 by Runner's World, doesn't disappoint as far as heart stopping beauty is concerned. If you happen to like the ocean and you're partial to running hills, then MDI is the race for you.  The course description says something like "Think of this as a mini-ultra marathon.   Enjoy the beauty.  Don't try to go for a PR on this course."

Funny, but running it as a threesome we all got PRs coming in at 4:29!  (I cringe to think of me doing the whole thing and arriving long after the finish line has been dismantled and all the food is gone. That being said, I think we've collectively decided to run it as a full next year.  Yes, we need our head's examined.)

The first and second leg runners met Jen and me at the 26 mile mark and ran the last .2 to the finish with us.



















The thing that stands out the most in this day, more than the sparkly ocean, the technicolor foliage or the fact that I had a personal PR of running my fastest 7 mile run with one mile at a 8:40 pace, was just how lucky I am to run with these women.  I mean take a look:



Very often one of the 6 will say, "I love us!"  and it is just so true.  Here is a team that accepts, loves and encourages its members.  If someone has a crappy run:  "Don't worry.  Shake it off.  We all have bad runs."  If someone runs an awesome race:  "That is incredible!  So proud of you!" If someone's child throws up all over her house: "What can I do to help?"

Plus...we just have a ton of fun together.

I said to Jen as we were pushing a fast pace up those hills for the last leg:  "I have things to talk about but I can't really talk right now.  But if you can, by all means, I'd love to listen."  She agreed and so we ran in companionable silence; I felt such comfort just running hard alongside her.

Sandi brought the girls down to the finish.  We agreed that it is so good for them to see an event like that and understand the hard work and challenge and pride that goes into a race.  Maybe they will better understand their Momma's need to hit the road.  Who knows, maybe they will even catch the bug some day.  Kids are like sponges, right?  I feel good that ours are absorbing marathons into their thirsty brains instead of monster truck events. Plus, I can't get enough of hearing them say: "Good job runner!!!"

I walked from the finish line to the car with Ella on my back wearing my medal.  It made my heart swell with pride.

Fast forward to tonight and Maya hit Ella three times and had to be hauled out of the bath, then she spilled her smoothie all over the table and Ella's supper because she was pissed off that I gave it to her (and then again all over herself once she returned to the table), and then threw a fit about peeing before bed because she didn't want to touch the toilet seat and be obliged to wash her hands.  I spent 45 minutes trying to get a newly-afraid-of-the-dark Ella to bed only to have her come back downstairs 15 minutes later. 

And all I could think is that I need one of those t-shirts:  on the front: "Marathon mom" and on the back: "26.2 miles of peace and quiet."

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Did you know?

Did you know...

That there are fewer moments as wonderful as running through the woods alone on a trail carpeted in crimson leaves, sun trickling through the colorful trees, cold air filling your lungs?

 Did you know that the state of Maine has full bragging rights to the most exquistely beautiful autumn going?  (of course you did...)

Did you know that there is a new food on the fair/carnival menu?  It's called the Krispy Kreme Cheeseburger. Yup.  You guessed it.  Some rocket scientist had the brain child to put a burger on a sliced donut and people are going crazy for it.  It is deemed "a dietitian's worst nightmare."  You think?

That Maya watches the movie "Annie" so often that she walks around the house saying "WE LOVE YOU MS. HANNIGAN!"  over and over?

Did you know that Ella told Skyler the other day, completely out of the blue: "Jesus lived a long time ago.  Like before my great, great, great, great grandparents.  Maybe even back when the dinosaurs were alive."  (This was especially unusual because there isn't a whole lotta Jesus talk in our house.)

That Ellen Degeneres (a vegan lesbian it should be noted) is the 10th most powerful woman in the world?

That a wife of one of the rescued miner's went into labor within a few hours of her husband's rescue?  Jeesh, talk about good timing!

Did you know that this Sunday my running girls and I are running the Mount Desert Island Marathon as a relay?  And that that means I get to run the last leg of a marathon on fresh, new legs?  (I'm sure people are going to want to trip me and spit at me as I did when I ran the Burlington Marathon and relay runners were sprinting past me.  Should be fun.)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

SURPRISE!

I decided it would be fun to have a surprise party for Sandi.

Luckily she isn't very observant and doesn't really care to know what the next thing is going to be in life in general so surprising her wasn't too hard.

Coming home to a clean house (with the birthday girl and 2 kids) full of 12 adults and 10 kids, dinner, birthday cake, wine, beer, balloons and streamers...now that is a different story.

Enter in the pedicure plan.


Ella knew about the surprise party and kept it a secret for TWO WEEKS. She did not however know about the nails and she was VERY excited to get a surprise of her own.

Looking through the nail dryer.


Maya was a little less impressed with the whole idea.
Until she got her own nails painted.



And then home to a house full of fun. 

I had delegated out every conceivable task, from picking up the catering (Trish), to picking up the bread (Emilie), to decorating (Ange and Mindy), to making food for the kids to eat (Ange, Mindy, Katie and Alex), making tossed salad and getting ice for the beer cooler (Mindy) so once I had stashed everything in the basement and left the back door unlocked upon departure it was out of my Type A hands.

Ella played it totally cool on the ride home, since I had told her if she appeared too excited she would give it away.  She choose instead  not to say a single, solitary word and instead stared out the window.   When we got out the car she gave me a stretched-wide-over-her-teeth smile behind Sandi's back and then zipped it.

We walk into the house, Maya being left in the car amidst a temper tantrum, and Sandi immediately knew something wasn't right (although everyone is hiding in the living room, not the back where we entered.)  She noticed the door was unlocked, the pellet stove was off and the office door was shut. 

"Someone's been in the house,"  she says. 

Perfect.  Robbery instead of surprise party.  I'm thinking FUN and she is thinking "exactly where is my laptop?" So I lead her by the hand into the kitchen where she begins to get confused and into the waiting:

"SURPRISE!!!!"



And did you take note of the fact that there were TEN kids that they managed to keep quiet while they waited for Sandi to secure the premises?

Loved ones abound.
Matt read Maya several stories and for some reason her mantra that night was: "That's not OK!" and she kept shouting it at him.





YUMMY food from Montes catering.

And Mindy's delectable salad with her homemade balsamic dressing.


One of my favorite Sam Manhart expressions...

A yummy chocolate torte AND a cheesecake to hit everyone's palate.




One thing is for certain:  Sandi Carver your life is blessed with people who love and adore you.




The funny thing about this picture is that I was taking pictures like a crazy person and was feeling a tiny bit tipsy on the wine (Ange's wine!) and decided to hold out the camera to shoot a picture of me drinking the wine (the picture came out awful) and Emilie shot a picture of me photographing myself.  She even got it as the flash is shinning on me.
The really awesome thing for me was that I got a belated birthday present of my own from Mindy and Charissa- perhaps the most brilliant running shirt ever made.  It deserved a thumbs up.  (Please don't be alarmed if you see me coming down the road.  I am not an umpa-lumpa.  I'm just trying to stay warm.)
All that secret keeping wears a girl right out.

Thank you to everyone who came and helped (which was everyone who came.)  I asked Ella in the end how she managed to keep it a secret for so long and she said, "I just had to forget all about it so I wouldn't tell."  Smart girl.

A bike and a surprise party.  What's it gonna be next year?  A trip to Greece?  Hmmmmmm.....