Wednesday, April 30, 2008

What I did, I mean, will do on my summer vacation

I’m starting to carve out my summer goals. Being a teacher, I get very excited for the summertime when all I have to think about is my kids, and having fun, and doing all crafty projects that I repress during the school year, and reading. All during the school year, I have these same goals, but I can’t get to them, and I go to bed every night thinking of the papers I haven’t graded or the plans I haven’t yet cemented for school. I also go to bed every night running through my checklist in my mind: lunches packed? enough milk in the fridge? clothes ironed? sufficient laundry done to dress the kids with ease? The stress tends to take over.

It may seem counter-productive to make list of my summer goals in fear that I will then feel the weight of a to-do list during my time off. But let’s be honest. I’m a list maker and lists make me happy and excited and ambitious. I believe if you write it on a list, it will get done.

So here goes:

This summer, I would like to...I mean, I WILL:

- Read the stack of books on my bed-side table.
- Not rush. Let Skyler and Reed set the schedule.
- Bake bread once a week.
- Bake pies and cookies and muffins.
- Make at least one sort of ambitious quilt.
- Print the photos from the past year and a half and organize photo albums.
- Do the Danskin triathlon.
- Keep doing enough long runs so that I don’t forget that I can do them.
- Eat vegetables! (read on)
We have paid for a farmshare in Winterport. That means each Tuesday we will go to the farm and pick up a crate of organic and fresh produce and a bouquet of flowers. One large focus of my summer, therefore, will be to use all of these vegetables in creative and fun ways. I will make my weekly menus based on what we get, and make sure that none goes to waste. I will also involve Skyler in the process of picking up the vegetables and cooking so that her vegetable world moves beyond peas and broccoli and carrots.

Now I've gotten myself so darn excited for summer. 7 weeks to get there.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The fun just never ends

We had an absolutely jam-packed vacation week, all surrounding fun for the kids, of course. The weather was warm and sunny every day until today, and a week of cold and rain is predicted. That's okay. Now I can stop pretending it's summer.

Skyler got to play with one of her favorite friends: McKayla!

And Reed and Kristian couldn't be cuter together.

My friend Christine (their mom) and I got to catch up in the sun while the kids cruised around.

Skyler got a much needed trim.

And her long-awaited trip to Build-a-Bear. This was her reward for having ten good go-to-beds and ten good drop-off-at-Kimmie mornings, necesitated by some crazy scenes of crying and woe a few weeks ago. Here she is putting the heart, after she made a wish on it, into her bear. (quite a scene at this place, I tell you).

And here she is "washing" it before taking it home.

Apparantly all the antics of the build-a-bear routine didn't make a lasting impression on Skyler. This morning, I noticed her bear on the floor in the corner. "Don't you love your new bear? Why doesn't it sleep in the cradle with the other animals?"

Skyler: "No, I don't really like this one. Can I pick out another?"


Saturday, we went to the CIRCUS! What fun. It was a little bit of a hokey one, but great for the 3-year old set. That is until the 40 minute (are you kidding me?) intermission which prompted us to decide that HALF a circus is a really great idea and we left early. Skyler was most impressed with the dogs who did cool tricks. Lions and Tigers? Not in this show.

Skyler with one of those dumb plastic light-up toys I swore I would NEVER buy. It's already broken. Sandi entertained her during the LONG intermission.

Lovin' on Baby Maya

And we rounded out the weekend with Beckett's super fun gymnastics birthday party. I decided to be the mom who hangs out at this party instead of the one with the camera in everyone's face, so no pics until Meredith posts and I steal them from her (c'mon, Mer...wait, did you take pictures?).

Training report: week 8

Alternative title for this post:
How Emilie got her groove back (I mean, how she got it for the first time)

This is new territory, people. The last two weeks have allowed me to enter "the zone" that runners talk about; you know, that place from which you can just keep going? Found it.

Last sunday: 7 miles.
Never felt better.

My mid-week short runs have reached 5 miles. I can do that!

Today: 8 miles
Not a problem.

The stomach problems I was having during my early long runs (feeling nauseous around mile 5 and on from there) have left me. Other than some super tired legs (especially up that last frickin' hill to my house), I truly feel good all the way.

When I got home today (for local folks, I ran from Mount Hope cemetery to my house in Hampden... I Know!), I thought, could I keep going?

Sure could.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

"And the air had so much light and sweetness to it that it was a pain to come within doors." Ralph Waldo Emerson

We had our first trip of the season to the island today, and Skyler's first mountain hike! (She has never actually done the walking.) We hiked Beech mountain, which is a short but steep trail, and except for a few short patches, Skyler hiked the whole thing herself. She was so proud! At the top she happily climbed into the Kelty pack for the steep climb down and went to sleep on Sam's back.

It was a bit cooler than I thought it would be, 50s and windy. Typical for me, I had tons of layers, hats, mittens, and three changes of clothes for Reed and Skyler, and only a thin poly-pro shirt for myself, so I had to wear Sam's big jacket.

Skyler is likely at the age when she will remember her first mountain. She does not let us wonder if she is enjoying herself; she is clearly very happy in the Maine woods. All week she has been so jolly and light:
"It sure is a beautiful day." "That sure is a wonderful view."

Reed was mellow and happy in the Ergo the whole way as long as I didn't stop walking. He made happy noises and babbled all the way up and down. I know that he is too young to be forming actual memories, but I love that the Maine landscape is making its way into his little soul too, as he absorbs the smells of the pine, the lichen-covered granite, and the ocean views through the trees. Even if not consciously, these woods and this air, combined with the warm press of mama's back as we hike together, are becoming a part of him.

What a week!

Holy cow. We've been so busy and happy and dirty and tired! The kids have played and played until they have collapsed into bed each night of this week off from school. We've had a play dates in the morning and afternoon every day; we've been outside from morning until night. The weather has been PERFECT all week, and I've almost forgotten that I have to go back to work for 7 more weeks after this. We have tasted summer, and it is sweet.

Here is the whirlwind tour.
We've been staying in our pjs for the long mornings. Yay.

Look what's growing in the planter!

Omom chasing Reed around in the Lanham's yard:

See Skyler? We went to this party to watch the Kenduskeag canoe race from the Lanham's prine spot on the river. Gorgeous. Skyler wasn't so into watching canoes and kayaks, but I decided Sam and I are racing next year.
Reed was just happy on the open grass. Just think, before this week, he had never walked on the earth before.

This has been a common image from our week.

And then to the playground.

A quick picnic lunch with Ella

Friday, April 18, 2008

Happiness is...

- Friday before vacation
- 77 degrees
- sunny
- Sox game tonight
-Pizza Gourmet for dinner
-Huge, busy week behind me
- Mosaic (the school literary mag that I produce... 102 pages!) is off to the printer as of 2:30 today
- kids are happy
- daddy is doing dinner and bath
- mommy is off to the gym
- a week ahead of playdates and playgrounds and sunshine
- I brought zero papers home to grade.
- smile.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The mistakes I make

Skyler is at the age when she constantly reminds ME of the rules (rules that WE have made.) If I slip up, and let’s face it, I do all the time, she is RIGHT there to remind me.

Mommy, it is not nice to say: “I told you so.” (e.g. I told you you had to go pee, I told you you would like (insert new vegetable)).

Mommy, we don’t bite! (Okay, I admit it. Sometimes when I’m kissing Skyler or Reed, especially on or around their thighs, I can’t help but bite a little bit. It’s just so yummy.)

I remind Skyler constantly that we don’t say the words “stinky butt.” Constantly, because she says it several times a day. I convinced myself she learned it at daycare. Last weekend, she caught me THREE times calling Reed “stinky pants” and “grumpy pants” and yes, “stinky butt.” What is wrong with me?

Tonight Skyler said to me, “It wasn’t a great move to give Reed a bath before dinner.”
Thanks, kid.

Okay, and this is the most aggregious error of my parenting career. I taught Skyler to say “boooooooooo” when Johnny Damon comes onto the field (ex-Red Sox, current Yankee). And when she said: “Why should I say booooooo?” you know what I said? I didn’t really think it through, and answered:
“You always boo at the other team.” Sam raised his eyebrows from the couch and then we all had a good laugh. Do you think she will forget this by the time she plays on a sports team?

Oh my gosh. What is my problem?

Monday, April 14, 2008


Reed is wearing real shoes! The first few days without his trusted Robeez (like slippers) he was like Bambi unsure of his legs under him. Now, he's a little bruiser of a boy stomping around.

And for scale, next to Daddy's shoes

Unlike Skyler, Reed is a bit slow in language development, and I'm trying to be mellow about it (like not saying: SAY BYE BYE! SAY MAMA! SAY PLEASE! right in his face all the time).

He still says "no" almost constantly. He also finally says Daddy at the appropriate time (like when he sees Daddy), and just lately, Mom. His pronunciations are like this:
Daddy = DA-EEE
Mom = Momb

He also picks up the phone (or the remote or anything that approximates a phone) and moves his mouth really fast like he's silently imitating me gabbing away.

He signs "more," blows kisses, says "bow wow" (sort of ) and waves hi very enthusiastically. He seems to undertand most of what I say.

In case you haven't caught on yet, the above catalog is an attempt to make myself feel better. Last confession: He's like a junkie about his bottle. There is no problem not solved by the bottle. I accidentally let him get so hooked that he'll be shipped off to rehab when the time comes to let it go.


I am (ashamedly) energized and inspired by material goods. My dear friend Adrienne (from high school, college, NELP, San Francisco, and you know, life) knows this about me. This package arrived today: new running stuff! What else does a girl need to pick up her step?

Adrienne and I are meeting in Boston for Memorial Day weekend to run the half marathon together (and eat in restaurants and sleep in a hotel!!!Just US!). She lives in Durham, NC, so we are training together via phone calls and emails. I love to picture us crossing the finish line hand-in-hand.

Thanks, girl. I needed that!

Spring is here! And a nasty stomach bug too!

Finally, the warmth is creeping in, the snow is melting, and I am regularly running outside. The 10-day forecast shows nothing but sun and 50s or 60s (and next week is vacation!). Boy, do we need it.

Skyler's rock-solid immunity (so I've been thinking) gave out and left her with a night of throwing up and other things too. I'll spare you the details.
Our family made it all the way through the fall and winter without sickness. Then spring came, and it has been one thing after another. Reed has yet to succumb to Skyler's symptoms. Keep your fingers crossed.

These are from last week, the first nice days of outside play after school. The snow in the pics has all melted now.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Skyler's funnies

Some funny (but mostly just sweet) things that Skyler has said lately:

After I brought her a separate spoon for her peas at dinner: “Well, you’re being an awfully good mommy tonight.”

The other day I was trying to hurry her up to get herself buckled as we were getting ready to pull out of the driveway.
Skyler: “Just a minute! You need to settle down.”

When I’m tucking her in after stories, for the past few nights, our exchange has gone like this, in whispering voices:

E: “I love you”
S: “I love you, too.”
E: “I’ll see you in the morning.”
S: “I’ll see you in the morning, too.”
E: “You are my best girl.”
S: “You are my best mommy too.”

Also, Sam and I are both sick with a nasty stomach bug. I know. Just what we need (and not even two weeks after the last sickness.)

Skyler has had a hard time dealing with the fact that neither of us has very much energy.

She said: “What is the matter?”
E: “I have a stomach ache.”
S: “Let me check.”
She puts her hand on my stomach.
S: “You don’t have a stomach ache. You are all set to go.”

But then tonight at bedtime, she folded her hands in prayer and said:
“I pray with my heart that mommy feels better the next day.”

Monday, April 7, 2008

Early SAT prep?

Sam has taught me something about parenting Skyler in the last few weeks. He is known to go into great detail when explaining things to her or answering her questions. He doesn't give her the 3-year old version, as I tend to do.

When I cook with Skyler, she pours pre-measured ingredients into the bowl and stirs for me. When Sam cooks with her, he explains knife techniques, tells her in-depth descriptions of dish he is making, explains the difference between leeks and scallions.

He also uses a rather sophisticated vocabulary with her and teaches her big words. I laugh inwardly at this tactic, or say to him: "Sam, she's three."

Last week, Sam taught Skyler about synonyms when they were at the pool and discussing the relationship between bucket and pail. "They are synonymous," he taught her.

One week later, my mom was reading a book to Skyler called Babushka's Doll. After finishing the book, I heard my mom say to Skyler: "Do you know what Babushka means?"
Skyler: "Yes. Grandmother."
My mom: "Do you know what Omom means?"
Skyler: "Yes. Grandmother. They are synonymous."
My mom: "Excuse me?"

She heard correctly. Skyler had applied her understanding of the word to a whole new situation. I was really surprised. Since then, she has used it correctly in several ways. Sam was right to give her this new word.

And this weekend, I thanked her for working so nicely with me to build a block tower.

"Sure, mom. I like collaborating with you."

The photos are done!

Looks like we have the new artwork for the house! Oh my goodness... I'm so happy with these.

Her name is Amanda Burse, and her new photo company is La Bella Vita Photography. For you local folks, you should get in while the gettin' is good!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Report from the road

Alternative titles for this post:

I'm really very mental
I lovehate running
Shut up and run

Half marathon training, week 5: complete. Today was my 6 mile run. If you are not Sarah Shrader or Lloyd Abramson (my friends who run ultra-mega marathons which are MORE than, sometimes 2 times more than, a regular marathon), you might be thinking: that's a long way to run.

My thoughts exactly.

I know that I am the one who decided to train for a half marathon. It was my idea. And yet I still feel sorry for myself on Sunday mornings when my long run is facing me.

Many of you who know me well know that I am sort of a mental case. I am sort of a hypochondriac and a chronic worrier. Running has really shown me the extent to which I am screwed up in the head. You wouldn't believe the amount of sweet-talking I have to do to myself to get me through any run longer than 3 miles. And yet, I decided to challenge myself with this sort of painful, scary, intimidating (to me) goal of running 13 miles. I'm sick like that.

Six miles was not any harder than five miles last week, so I'm hoping this trend will continue. Cardiovascularly, I feel great at the end of my runs, as if I could keep going forever. But my legs! If only I could trade mine in for a new, fresh, rested pair around mile 5, I'd be all set.

I am fully dependent on the music I listen to on my ipod to make it through my runs. I have certain "go-to" songs that lift my spirits when I'm having a tough time. I also have this thing where I refuse to run out-and-back on my long runs. It's too hard not to turn around early.
So, Sam either drives me somewhere the exact distance away that I need to run, and then I run home, or, I run to a pre-determined spot and he picks me up.

He thinks this is totally ridiculous that there has to be a car trip, and gas, and a whole-family outing for mommy to go for a run. He's right, but too bad. It's the only way I can mentally handle the long runs.

Then, today I realized that I left my ipod at the gym on Thursday night. I know exactly where I left it. I called them, and it was not turned in to the lost and found. I am a very responsible person who did a very irresponsible thing. This is how I explained it to Sam, whom, I had to convince that on our way to drop me off in downtown Bangor, 6 miles from home, that we had to "swing by Circuit City." He was not impressed. But now I have a cute new ipod and I loaded it up with a nice mix of tunes before he dropped me off.

Today I spent part of my run cataloging the array of things I say to myself in my head while I'm running. I'll share some with you. Whichever one I am currently stuck on repeats with each step for a while until I replace it with a new thought. For example, I might think:

this sucks. this sucks. this sucks. this sucks. until I reach the top of a hill and then it might switch to:
I rock. I rock. I rock. I rock.

You get the idea.

Other recurring phrases:

Come on... Pick it up.
You are looking good!
Can you run just a little bit faster?
Don't stop.
I'm really sorry I'm putting you through this (I say to my body).
Can I have a ride home? (I say to a passing car)
You are lucky to be ABLE to run. (I say to myself)
Good girl. You couldn't have done this a year ago.
I can't make it up that hill.
Shut up.
Keep running.

I also have convinced myself that I cannot stop to walk. Not one step. Because, in my mind, if I walk at all then I've ruined the whole run and I might as well just hitchike home, so I start to give up. So today when a man pulled over to ask for directions for the Civic Center, I actually said:
"Can't stop... it's that way." Embarrassing.

I started my run going up hill and it was a cold, grey, raw day. I was very low. I was actually on the verge of tears for the first half mile. I started feeling better at mile 2, and really good by mile 3. By the time I made it to 5.5 miles, I was so giddy and high that I was leaping like a gazelle.

And then I thought: wow. that isn't even half of a half marathon.

Like I said, Emilie, shut up and keep running.

Friday, April 4, 2008

I taught her all of her moves