Sunday, January 27, 2008

Family Swim

Guess who ELSE loves to swim in our family?

Reed was in an ultra-mega-super-fussy mood after his nap (which has happened exactly one other time in his life). We thought a toss in the old pool might loosen him up. So, Reed and I joined Sam and Skyler in their weekly family swim time, and what do you know? Mr. Happy returned... until it was time to go and he threw a fit. He LOVED the water. He played and splashed on the ramp and swam around with us for over an hour. Looks like a new weekly tradition.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

In denial

That's what we are.

Of the fact that we are moving out in 3 weeks.

Instead of packing or stressing about packing, we are hunkering in from the bitter cold. The weatherman's exact words were "ridiculously cold."

Sam's team had a meet today. We were just hangin' out. By 1:00 the kids were stir-crazy and I was sleepy. I called Suzanne. She and her mom and her girls were on their way to Borders: "Meet us there!"

What a simple way to lift a girl's spirits. We were dressed and packed and out the door. Quick stop for a skinny latte (smart marketing) and I was a new woman.

Plus, the girls occupied themselves, or sat next to other moms who were reading stories while Suzanne and I chatted. Reed made all the Borders shoppers laugh with his incessant head shaking. He is still on the "no" train and can't get off.

I am not being paid by Starbucks (I should look into that) but honestly, people. How do they do it? One little latte and I was on happy overdrive. I was hyper productive and smiley. I pranced around the grocery store with the kids and came home, cleaned the house, made a lovely dinner, and got everyone to bed by 7. I'm still humming with activity. I'll go so far as to say that Starbucks makes me a better person.

Seems like I shouldn't need coffee with this face in my life.

Reed tried his first apple today: 30 minutes of pure bliss (for everyone)

Little Borders shoppers:

Jan, Suzanne's mom, reading to the girls.

Ella + Sklyer= love

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Things I cry about

Tonight I was thinking about the fact that there are three things absolutely certain to make me cry.
Actually four.
Okay, five.
But that's it. Truth be told, I cry really easily since I had my children. I don't know if that is a hormonal thing, or the fact that everything in life seems more poignant and vulnerable and touching and tragic once you have children whom you love more than you can talk about without crying.

The reason I was thinking about things that make me cry is that Skyler does this totally heartbreakingly cute/sad thing after she's really been in trouble. And it makes me cry every time. Tonight's episode was about her throwing a conditioner bottle at Reed's head in the bathtub because I told her to give it back to him. (yes, I do have bath toys; they prefer conditioner bottles). She cried and wailed and carried on in her room (dripping wet). When she came back, I gave her a serious lecture about listening to mommy and not hurting little babies. I know my talks have registered when her her lower lip starts to take over and protrude out. Then the eyes fill with big, liquid tears. Then she says, in a quivering voice: "I'm going to try really hard to be good, Mom." That's when I start crying.

While we're at it, here are the other four things that make me cry every time.
1. A come-from-behind sports victory: Don't even get me started about those "Up-close and personal" spots they do for the Olympics. You know, the little Russian girl who is poverty-stricken and who has been doing gymnastics in a dirt-floor gymnasium with no heat or lights for 13 years and her family is all watching on a little black-and-white tv back in Russia. As soon as they pan back to her little face getting ready to mount the uneven bars, I'm grabbing for the tissues. If she wins? I'm done (and Sam is a real sports weeper too, God bless him.)

2. The running embrace: You know, like at the airport, when two people run to each other and embrace in a dramatic reunion. When I worked at Camp Runoia in Maine many summers ago, and the day came for the parents to come pick up their kids after a month apart, the campers all hung out on the lawn in front of the dining hall and the parents would park at the top of the hill, and when a family would appear on the hilltop, and the little camper would go running up, and the family would run down, and they would embrace and twirl around... I was a slobbering mess. I couldn't get it together. And this went on for about 6 hours.

By the way, combine the first two, and I'm absolutely hopeless... like when the Red Sox won the AL East after coming from behind, and Varitek (catcher) ran out to Papelbon (pitcher) and they hugged... You get it, right?

3. Seeing my dad on video: We don't have very much family video footage. We weren't a videotape family. But there are some wonderful moments on tape of my Dad at our wedding. During the ceremony, Sam and I each hugged our parents right before we said our vows. When I watch that video now (which I can only handle about once a year), and see myself hugging my dad, all I can think is: don't let go. hold on to him!

4. Seeing a baby being born: Even if I turn on "A Baby Story" (tv show on TLC) for the last 10 seconds of the birth and I know nothing about anyone, I cry when that baby slides out. When I attended Meredith's birth, I sometimes worried I was not helping matters when I was audibly sobbing throughout the last few hours. Oh my goodness, when little Rosalyn showed her face!

One exception to the tears-at-birth phenomena? I didn't cry when my own babies were born. I just swore like a trucker and then stared numbly for about 30 minutes. Once I had an ice pack planted firmly between my legs and my babies were washed and fluffed, and I looked at their tiny faces, then I cried. For days.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The big speech is done!

Phew. That was stressful. Not sure why, but I fretted about this speech all week, and as everyone predicted, it went really well. I didn't choke on a cough drop or trip or pass out. Ridiculous, in hindsight. It was actually really nice to be able to address so many students and parents in one place. The podium was firm and my voice was clear. Here is the middle part of the speech, skipping the intro and conclusion... a glimpse of my college self for you. My kids loved knowing that I too stayed up all night writing papers, and many parents commented that I took them right back to that proud, scholarly feeling. It was actually fun!
(confession: I wasn't in NHS in high school. I don't even remember it existing?)

Your induction tonight proves that you have worked very hard and met great success so far in your lives. You have stayed up late studying, you have read carefully and critically, you have spent hours fine-tuning your talents, whether they be musical, athletic, civic. And you have balanced your busy lives with school and your families. You have also been brave and honorable and kind along the way. Your teachers, your parents, your grandparents, your community, are all very proud of you.

What I wish for all of you, is that at least some of all the work you have done
to be here tonight, has been for yourself. Not for your parents’ praise, or your grades, or for how the NHS will look on your resume or college application. What will really make you a happy and successful person in your life is acting for yourself, and being motivated by your own joy. When you are driven by your own desire and passion and love for your work, you will feel so fulfilled. You may not be able to say yet, that you work so hard for the pure joy of it.
You may be thinking, “Yeah, right! That was JOY that kept me up half the night studying!”

Honestly, it may be true that right now you are driven by your parents’ expectations or grades or getting into a good college. And that’s great! And you are lucky to have been pushed. But I do wish for you a moment when the very most important factor in your drive for excellence is yourself.

I actually remember the night that I felt that drive to succeed transfer into myself. I studied English at the University of Michigan, and somewhere during my junior year, I had a moment I’d like to share with you. One night I was working in the 24-hour computer lab, right in the middle of the old, beautiful campus, on a paper for a class on Holocaust Literature. The paper was due in the morning, so after dinner, I had walked onto campus and settled into one of the cubicles and began to turn all my notes into a paper. Eight hours and 25 pages later, around 3 a.m., I emerged into the night, and it was totally hushed and quiet. Unbeknownst to me, it had been snowing for a few hours and everything was covered in a fresh, white dusting. Walking home that night, I knew that I had written a really good paper, and that I had wrung out every last drop of the analysis and creativity in my brain. I trudged across the campus under the snow and soft lights. And I was unbelievably happy. Why was I so happy?

I was happy because I was done, and I had done a good job, I had finally crystallized onto paper all those ideas I had been shuffling around in my mind.
But what made me feel the most joy, and I actually thought about it at that moment, is that it didn’t matter what grade I was going to get, and I didn’t need any feedback from anyone to feel good about what I had done. Studying English and working my very hardest on my studies was the most important thing to me at that time in my life. No matter what kind of praise or grade or degree I would get for it, the joy I received from the act of doing it was enough.

You have all been told throughout your lives that you can do anything you set your mind to, or that you can go anywhere, and have any job if you work hard enough. I’m sure this is true. But what I really want you to think about is what, in your life, will make you feel proud and exhilarated and totally satisfied?

And once you experience that feeling of joy, once you have the honor of knowing yourself that well, then, your future is limitless. You will follow your passion to completion, and you will find success as YOU define it.

Clearly, You are WELL on your way.
(the end)

Boy, will I sleep well tonight! Good night.

This is my husband...

winning the 50 back (wearing a black cap) and the 50 free (purple cap) at a recent masters meet (filmed by one of his swimmers).
Sam is a badass in the pool, as if I needed to add that commentary.

During all of my years of swimming, I never had a coach that actually swam with us. Sam swims every night with his team. And seeing him win races like this must help them keep the faith.

Monday, January 21, 2008

here he is...

I tried to get this video up with the last post, so you could hear Reed's little voice saying his favorite word, but it wasn't cooperating. I finally got it to load. (I know this head-shaking in the high chair is looking very familiar). Sorry about the baby food all over his face. That's another thing that only the mother of the smeared child really appreciates. Sam purees some crazy concoctions for Reed, and this one had a bunch of blueberries in it, hence the dark specks all over him. Yeah, sorry about that. (I find it totally endearing, of course).

What blogs are for, right?

I know I am her mother, so I should assume that nobody else will be as excited about this developmental leap as I am, but, well, Skyler made this amazing drawing with no assistance.

I wasn't there to see it because it happened at my mom's this afternoon. Anyway, my mom assured me that another, older child did not sneak in and create this drawing. It might not seem so remarkable that a 3 yr. old drew this. What is remarkable is that yesterday, Skyler could not do this. Yesterday, she scribbled, or drew some semi-recognizable shapes, and today, she drew a family. Granted, we have twiggy arms and long toes, and my hair is awfully wind-blown, and Sam looks... well, tree-like is too understated. It looks like she drew a tree and then decided at the last minute to add a head and toes and call him daddy. But she made sure that our tree/daddy was reaching for mommy in a rather loving way. I guess Reed is the little shrub in the back? I can't stop looking at this picture. All of a sudden, my daughter's hand can capture what her brain seems to understand. That the sun is yellow and warm, and that we are standing on grassy earth, and that mommy is a blonde.

And Reed also reached a momentous milestone this weekend.
His first word! And the word is: "no"
Is that sad? or funny? not sure. But, he says it ALL day long.
He crawls to the bottom of the stairs and says "no" and looks at us.
He sits on the fireplace hearth: "no"
He stands next to the wall socket where my hair dryer is plugged in: "no"
He sits in his crib and says "no, no, no" to his stuffed animals, I guess?

I just love hearing his little voice for the first time (this sounds different than his babbles.. so purposeful). I wonder what his second word will be?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

4 unconnected notes

1. After some fierce negotiating (I'm getting better at this) we managed to agree to pay only $400 toward a $1400 furnace repair on our new house, and only $500 toward a $1400 replacement of the oil tank in our current house. While that is $900 instead of the possible $2800, it still hurts (that's a lot of groceries, or diapers, or clothes!). But, as far as we can all surmise, that will be it for last-minute surprises/expenses. Every single contract and addendum is now signed by all parties. We start packing and moving things over to the new house this weekend.

2. Update on Skyler: she still loves her new look and the compliments she gets. Hair brushing is now a non-issue, one less battle for me (hooray!). Two funny little things. My realtor's name is Pauline Rock (or, as Sam calls her "the rock"). Yesterday, in a moment indicative of what I've been doing a lot of, Skyler picked up her toy cell phone: "Yes Pauline."

Two nights ago, we were looking at the page in Richard Scarry's book of words about "What you Want to Be When you Grow Up." Skyler commented that she wanted to be "a doctor, a firefighter, and a hooker." I started to turn the page before it really registered. "A hooker?"
"Yes, like this one." She pointed to a fisherman with a big hook. Of course, a hooker! Just like her Uncle Craig! (phew).

3. Update on Reed: He takes up to 4 steps at a time, usually from furniture to one of us. He has also started howling like a wolf, which is fun. I am working on getting a video of him dancing; his dance style is too hard to put into words. It involves head-bobbing and toe tapping, but it's also a little twitchy. In a cute way.

4. Tuesday night I am giving the faculty address for the NHS induction. I am surprised how nervous I am. You'd think, because I speak in front of people every day, it would be nothing. This feels different: on a stage, with a microphone, and 200 people (very smart people) in the audience. I'm sure I'll feel great when it is over.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The new do

Skyler loved seeing Kimmie "totally flip out" this morning too. I think she might be enjoying the attention.
Here is a quick Skyler funny from today:
"Mom, I have to pee. Could you please watch Reed for me for a sec?"

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Skyler's transformation

This morning was the last straw. I think it's a good time to cut a child's hair when your hair-brushing strategy involves these steps: I gave up trying to brush hair before leaving the house in time, so we wait until we arrived at Kimmie's, keep Skyler STRAPPED in the car seat, and brush as gently as possible, which makes her scream a high-pitched "NOOOOOO!" This morning, a neighbor of Kimmie actually looked out the window at us while I was merely trying to make her look respectable. I held up my hair brush and tried to look innocent.

I had already warned Sam that this day was close. After this morning's experience, I got email confirmation from him at work, and made an appointment.

Skyler was a bit unsure about all of this.

Okay, that's an understatement. I had told her all the way to the mall that she was going to have to "sit still for the nice lady." Well, Tim was no lady, but he did do a great job.

This is her best pouty face. Tim seems to be playing along.

And then, something happened. Skyler checked herself out in the mirror:

"Hello, you"

Skyler waited up until 9:00 (!) for Daddy to get home from swimming so she could show him. Just before he came in the door, she said: "Daddy is going to totally flip out."

Monday, January 14, 2008

Skyler and McKayla

I am going to go ahead and shamelessly poach some photos AND some stories right off of my friend Christine's blog. This first blurb is from a visit to McKayla's house last week, and was written by Christine:

Emilie and I were talking about the whole "princessing" issue and how neither of our girls is especially girly. McKayla's going much more in that direction given her penchant for sparkle shoes and dresses, but at the same time she really appreciates a good pair of sweats and Crocs. It was ironic that as Emilie was commenting about how "ungirly" Skyler is, Skyler walked down the hall with a wand and feather dress up shoes. Looks pretty girly to me...

The next shots are from Sunday when the Kendalls kept Skyler for a few hours. While we were out and about, Sam said: "I hope Skyler isn't crying for us. We've never really dropped her off with friends and not stayed before." I didn't think we needed to worry. Skyler adores McKayla, and considering I had to literally drag her away, I think it worked out pretty well.

Riding McKayla's fire engine around the neighborhood:

Here is Skyler, crying for Mom and Dad. Okay, I mean stuffing her face with marshmallows and laughing her head off.

These girls are such a match for each other. We met at Kindermusik last winter and knew within the first class that we needed to get them together. I can totally see them as teenagers: brave, wild, and confident.

sorry about the pink bib, buddy


"it is snowing like a madman" -holden caulfield, Catcher in the Rye

Snow Day #4 (not snowing yet)

The snow storm predicted is a big one, but when we woke up, nothing was happening. Even so, the schools are all canceled (I think we'll be in school until mid-July), so another lovely day at home: a big family breakfast, a round of Hi-Ho Cherry-o, time to go to the gym, and a chance to catch up on the grading I didn't finish last night. It's now almost 10 a.m., and still no snow. We'll see what comes.

About the real estate drama: I am a little superstitious about posting that everything is all official until it is. We had some last-minute negotiating to do with the owners of the house we want to buy that is still pending. Also, our home inspection is today which will (we hope) seal the deal, unless, by chance, the buyers insist on a new roof or something.

I was in the car a lot yesterday tending to said drama. We took Skyler to McKayla's (THANK YOU, Kendalls) for the afternoon, and Reed stayed with me:

What can I tell you about this boy? He is just the best. Such a trooper. I am in denial of his upcoming 1-yr birthday. NOT POSSIBLE.

And Skyler? She has a new obsession: red sparkly shoes. I often tell people that Skyler is not girly. She prefers her converse high tops and hooded sweatshirts to almost anything else. But I picked up these shoes off the clearance rack at Target and what do you know? She won't go 2 minutes without them. She loves the attention they bring out in public, but even in the privacy of her own bedroom, she must just feel a little extra special wearing them.

Even if it is with yellow socks and pink pants.

Lastly, a new Skylerism:
I often hear Sam, when he's trying to instill in Skyler the right way to behave, saying: "We're Manharts."
e.g: "We finish all of our vegetables. We're Manharts." Or, "We're not afraid of the dark. We're Manharts!"

Today, I complimented Skyler on so efficiently cleaning up the tiny little cherries from Hi-Ho-cherry-o. She said: "We're Manharts, Mommy. We clean up when we're done with something."


Sunday, January 13, 2008

too busy to blog...

This is a lame, brief hello to explain what we've been up to. We're trying to settle some real estate drama, the details of which I'll withhold until we make some decisions. We'll know a lot more by this evening. Just when we thought we were all lined up, we got a few surprises, so we are reconsidering some options. Meanwhile, we've been squeezing in haircuts, birthday parties, and end-of-the-semester grading marathons. More to come.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

warm, warm day

I couldn't believe it when I walked out of school today into the downright balmy day. My car thermometer read 57 degrees. Skyler was totally perplexed when I told her we should hurry home to go for a bike ride. "Is winter over?" Oh honey. Not quite, but a pleasant change from sub-zero temps all last week.

Hey, don't forget about me!

go, skyler, go!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

My life as a stage mom

St. John's had an Epiphany pageant this year instead of an Advent pageant to be more authentic to the day that the 3 Kings actually bring their gifts to the Christ child. Today, if you didn't know, IS the 12th day of Christmas, or Epiphany, or El Dia de Los Reyes, Day of the Kings, and this morning was our big pageant. I was very excited to have both Skyler and Reed in the pageant this year, Skyler as an angel and Reed as a sheep.

Skyler, moments after earning her wings.

Reed is totally psyched to be in the 100 degree sheep costume, lovingly made by Heather (holding Reed).

I love Christmas pageants, and find them to be inherently just hilarious. (One of my all time favorite literary scenes is the Christmas pageant in A Prayer for Owen Meany, which you really should read if you haven't). After all, we are asking a group of children dressed up in costumes to act out an incredibly holy event. It's just ripe with possibilities for hilarity, and today did not disappoint.

Skyler was chosen by the director, the amazing Stephanie Lanham, to sing in the "Angel Choir" (okay, I'm crying already) which meant she and 4 other 3-4 year old girls would sing "Away in a Manger." This was her big stage debut. We practiced all week. She knew the words perfectly and made a cute angelic face while singing. It was going to be so touching. Here is the Angel Choir rehearsing before the show, with the equally amazing Sam Lanham on the piano.

Things are looking hopeful for the angelic performance.

All the Angels pose for a shot before heading up to church:

These next two shots should have given me an indication of the direction things were heading:

This, and the fact that when Skyler saw Reed's costume, she too wanted to be a sheep, so she was running around yelling "BAAAA BAAAAA" as everyone was supposed to be lining up. I was a wreck.

The big entrance: So far so good!

Reed was carried down the aisle and then handed to me, but I was in charge of helping kids stay in the right place, so after a minute I put him down and let him crawl to Sam who was sitting a few rows back. Luckily, none of the shepherds were paying enough attention to try to herd him back to stage.

At this point, Skyler was really acting her part, very sweetly ooohing at baby Jesus (looking rather alert for a one week old, no?).

And then all the funny pageant things started happening.

Baby Jesus became wiggly.
The sheep started to stray.
The shepherds began to mess with their head pieces.
Skyler's wings came unhooked on one side and hung sideways on her back.
Then, Skyler said to the audience in her normal talking voice: "Hey Omom! Hey Daddy!"

And then it was time for the Angel Choir to stand and sing "Away in a Manger." Sam and my mom were poised with the cameras.

Four of the angels stood and started right on cue. Skyler decided that now would be a good time to lie on the floor behind all the angels. I couldn't reach her, but I could see her face under there and her lips were moving right along with the others. I sadly decided to let the song go on without her, to not crawl into the pile of children to dig her out and risk an even bigger scene. She had missed her chance to sing to the audience. After the first verse, however, Stephanie miraculously managed to reach into the fray of angels and shepherds, all becoming more disheveled by the minute, and pull Skyler out just in time for the second verse.

and so, with her crooked wings, Skyler had her moment of fame, looking right at Omom the whole time. The cast all walked off singing "Go Tell it on the Mountain" led by 3 amazing adult soloists and it was truly beautiful. THANK YOU Lanhams and Heather, and Emma and Nancy. We had a blast.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Reed's Tonka Truck

Aunt Liesel got Reed his first "boy" toy for Christmas. Here's a little clip:
And... here are some still shots of Reed taking 3 steps unassisted, letting go of the stereo shelf and walking toward me. I tried to get video of him doing it again, but to no avail. So far, he is exactly on par with Skyler, who was walking by her 1st birthday. One month to go!

No hands!

Friday, January 4, 2008

2 points Skyler

1. In the car last week, I was so completely sick of listening to kids' CDs, that I just threw caution to the wind and insisted on Radiohead. This had an adverse reaction in the backseat. Skyler was not impressed. She complained and carried on so much that I just wasn't enjoying my music. I stuck to my guns, and tried a bit of a guilt trip. "What about mommy? When does mommy ever get to choose the music? When does mommy ever get a turn?" (You don't need to tell me how useless it is to appeal to a 3-year-old in this way).

30 seconds later from the back seat (wait for it!): "What about Skyler? When does Skyler get her music? When does Skyler ever get to choose?"

2. I came home from the gym tonight after an especially invigorating run on the treadmill (it's -10 degrees outside) feeling just terrific. Skyler was waiting for me for her bedtime story (Sam had just finished reading books). Still feeling impressed with myself from my run, I started right in "I'm going to tell you a story about your totally awesome mommy."

"I don't WANT a story about an awesome mommy!!! Tell me a story about a fish."

Opop, Charlie, and the cat

Before I post this story, I need to give you a tiny bit of background information. My nephew Cameron, when he was 2, started referring to my mom and dad as "Omom" and "Opop." They had planned to be Oma and Opa, the German terms for Grandmother and Grandfather, but Cameron had other plans. Everyone thought the new names were cute and funny, so we kept them.

Of course, my dad died before Skyler was born, so she only knows of him in photos and stories, but lately, she's taken a special interest in learning about Opop. She seems to have just grasped the idea that her mom and dad have a mom and dad, and who is who, and that only 3 of the 4 are still around.

Yesterday, right in the middle of building a block tower, she said to me: "You must really miss your daddy." In that moment, I have to say, I am certain that she really understood that he was my dad, and that I love him very much, and that I don't get to see him anymore. She looked at me with such total empathy and clarity. I said "Yeah, I really miss him." We just nodded at each other and then moved on.

Tonight when Sam went in to kiss her good night, he said: "Who loves ya?" (He was looking for a "Daddy loves me.")
"Opop" was her reply. I then heard her asking Sam a host of questions about Opop.
"Why is he in heaven?"
"Is he alone?"
"Is he with Charlie?"
"When will I see him?"
"Is he mommy's daddy?"
"Can he talk to me?"

All of this talk, I think, has been spurred on by two things: a song on a CD we listen to in the car about a cat who dies when left outside all night on Christmas Eve. Am I kidding you? No. It is on a CD mix someone made for me, and it is terribly sad. It is simply heartbreaking. She wants to hear it OVER and OVER. She is very worried about this cat and why someone would leave it outside, and yet she totally freaks out if I won't play the song. I'm very worried about why someone would write a song about a cat who dies on Christmas eve. So, she has been thinking about death.

Secondly, I have a drawer of my dad's ties. I took them b/c I wanted to make a blanket or quilt with some of the material, but now I just have them sitting in a drawer and Skyler and Reed pull them out every once in a while. Skyler has taken a special interest in them lately and proudly wore one to the grocery store last week over her sweater.

What must be her conception of death? heaven? having someone "live in her heart"? I don't know, but I love the fact that she wears his special ties and falls asleep sometimes thinking of Opop.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Snow day #3

Just when we thought it was time to go back to work! Another ten inches last night closed the schools. Everyone in the whole state of Maine had the day off... except for Sam. (His school had an in-service today, and they didn't cancel it. The nerve.) So, I was home with the kids and the fluffy snow is just piled around us. We were desperate to go play in it. This afternoon I put Reed down and took the monitor outside with me (thanks for the tip, sarah!) so Skyler and I could play. I also shoveled part of the driveway (big mistake... my back was not ready for this). So, tomorrow is really back to work. I rather like work weeks that start on Thursday.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A new year inventory

Things just seemed to come together for us in the last couple weeks. Just in the nick of time, we sold our house. I am still in shock about what that actually means for our lives over the next 2 months. I'm currently looking around at all the toys and furniture and STUFF and wondering how we'll make this happen. Luckily, the owners of the Hampden house are going to give us the key to the garage so we can start moving stuff over slowly. Sam drives by the house on his way to work everyday, so we'll send a load over every morning. The 40+ letters of recommendation I wrote for my college-bound seniors this fall are going to come in handy. That's 40 strong kids who owe me a few hours of box moving, as I see it.

We are also excited at the little explosion of development Reed is experiencing. All of a sudden, he stands unassisted, holds his own when playing rough with Skyler, says Mama and Dada (and sometimes he even says it to the right person), climbs the stairs and shakes his head no.

Skyler has been relatively good all week for us. She is understanding so much and has great conversations with us. She mimics adult talk and says things like:
"That cookie really hit the spot!" or "Reed sure is growing up quickly, isn't he?" or my favorites (for obvious reasons): "Mom, I'm going to go check to make sure the gate is shut so Reed will be safe." or "Don't worry, Mom, Reed is playing safely right here with me." (I guess it is the product of living with two English teachers that she correctly uses adverbs, unlike my 9th graders).

And, as I mentioned before, my back is really much better (not perfect yet) and I can start running again. I got some new outdoor running clothes and a heart rate monitor for Christmas just in time. With my super-runner friend Lloyd's help, I can actually plan my training according to the right heart-rate zone instead of just distance. (This is a bit ironic, yes, considering I'm still such an amateur, but we Manharts like to have gear and gadgets.) Half-marathon training starts a week after we move into the new house. We'll see how that all goes!

Anyway, Happy New Year, everyone.