Wednesday, May 31, 2006

He's an introvert!

This week marks Kevin's last week with the babysitter that he's had since I went back to work (part-time) a few months after he came home. There he has had 1-on-2 attention with 1-on-1 when the babysitter's husband was home. The other boy is younger than him and pretty much worships the ground on which Kevin walks.

Next week, Kevin will go to his preschool/daycare when I'm at work as our babysitter is moving away. It is a good time to transition as he'll be going to preschool in the fall to prepare for kindergarten and by going through their summer program, he'll get used to working and playing with other kids, learning not to be distracted by everyone else, learning to listen to the teacher, learning how to stand in a line, etc.

Today was Kevin's practice day at the preschool. We were there for 4 hours during which time I tried not to interact with him at all except when we first arrived. He slowly warmed up a bit. He wasn't more or less shy than I expected, which was good.

On the (bike) ride home, he dozed off in the trailer and I was sure he was hot, thirsty and hungry (he had one piece of pizza and a juice box for lunch - obviously, I'll need to pack him some extra sustenance.) When we got home, he sat in a chair in the kitchen while I unpacked our stuff and decided what to make myself for lunch. I offered him lots of things but all he had was a sip of water, all the while lumped in his chair like a rag doll. I asked if he wanted to lay down and rest on his bed (ha ha) and he said - *gasp* - "Yes." Off he went to his room, he got up on the bed, took off his shoes AND socks (my friends, never have his feet seen the light of day) and got under the covers. He seemed ok so I left the room and about 5 minutes later, I heard him rustling around. I thought he was coming back out but when I peeked into his room, I saw him getting books off of his shelf. He took them back to the bed with him and he laid there, looking at books ALL BY HIMSELF for 30 minutes! Never did he come out of his room or even ask me to come in and read to him. He was in a SEPARATE ROOM ALL BY HIMSELF.

I was stunned. And happy. And relieved to know that he needed some alone time to refresh after a day of over-peopling. Now he knows how we feel when we say we need a break. Ok, so he doesn't really get it at all, but someday he'll realize that's what we're talking about - how good it feels to lay in bed with a pile of books all alone for a few minutes.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Tour de France for Business-types

So, you hear/read me talk about the Tour de France every year and you're like, "Seriously, Dudette, that's enough - a bunch of tiny guys with shaved legs wearing lycra don't really float my boat, 'k?" And I'm all, "But you just don't get it! Here, let me explain. Vhcde asdlkfjlkj OIUP! Lsdiouaklj sfkloui sdflkj... ousdn werhadf lkj. Uer oafd wevf!"

If you're a business-type, your time has come to "get" the Tour de France. Fortune magazine has a fun article called "Pack Mentality" about the Tour which describes the race in business terms - "commodities exchange on wheels," "complex web of shifting alliances," "energy traders," "polyglot group," "high-rent district" and "the market needs liquidity" all while explaining classic Tour terms - peloton, patron, rouleurs, domestiques, grimpeurs and "urological faux-pas". That last item isn't a classic Tour term but it is used in the article and didn't it make you laugh when you read it?

Enjoy the article and I hope that it helps you feel more in-touch with the amazing artistry and endurance captured in the Tour de France (it's only 31 days away, you know.)

The Da Vinci Code

I read the book. I saw the movie. You can't wait for my review, right? Well, here it is, in somebody else's words.

The Da Vinci as well-crafted and engaging a movie as can be expected from its dense and sometimes convoluted source material. It's not great, but it's about as good as it can be.

-Jack Garner of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

I loved the book more than I expected to. I had moderate expectations for the film because I enjoyed the book so much but I knew that the style in which the story was doled out wouldn't work for a movie, especially one that needed a reasonable running time for showing in a movie theater. "Dense" is a mild word for the book, if you ask me. There's no way that can translate into a 2+/- hour movie. The detailed narratives in the book don't lend well to the screen, either - rare is the blockbuster film that employs a narrator as the main character.

After reading the book, I felt the urge to see the movie. Do I think it was worth it? Eh... maybe so.

Andy did not read the book so his opinion is important. As a movie alone, he enjoyed it. Granted, he can figure out what's going on in a movie no matter how quickly the clues are glossed over. If I'd not read the book beforehand, I would've been stymied by the movie. There were parts where I knew to watch for a clue to the action and I still missed it but when talking to Andy afterward, he was all like, "They spent a whole minute showing how that part was going to work out." Okay, then.

You can imagine the fun he has watching movies like "The Bourne Identity" and "The Thomas Crown Affair" with me.

Monday, May 29, 2006

If I wasn't a procrastinator...'d also be reading a really cool post about how we should work toward both saving the environment and saving people from poverty at the same time rather than the two missions working against one another.

But I'm not sure when that will be coming and, if it does, how cool it will end up being.

"Meet the Neighbors" cookout, Take 1

We're really going to do it. I mean it. This year, we are going to have that neighborhood picnic that we've wanted to have since we moved in. Honestly, we've always been really excited to host a cookout out our house for everyone on our street, but the inviting stage has kept us from doing it. I know that in order to get a good turnout (not for our the sake of our egos but so that people can actually meet each other) people need to be personally invited. So I feel that I need to go door to door inviting everyone. Now, if someone isn't home, I'm ok with putting a note on their door because at least I tried. But I wouldn't see the point in planning the whole thing if nobody was going to show up and that's what I imagine will happen anyway but at least this way it won't be my fault for not properly inviting them.

I'm working on the flyer now but I still don't have a date. I'm sure you'll be hearing more about this as the plans move forward.

Collateral damage when replacing a sink faucet cartridge

Our kitchen sink has been dripping so we bought a new cartridge a few weeks ago to put in it. We only just did the replacement this weekend but at least it eventually got done. When Andy turned the hot water valve on under the sink after we were done, we had no hot water. The cold was fine and all of the water was fine elsewhere in the house so we determined that the valve wasn't working. When Andy replaced that yesterday (with no sweat connections!) all was well until we looked in the old valve and saw the plastic pieces inside that are inevitably from our hot water heater, which we've been meaning to replace for a few months now. Even if the heater went out entirely, I wonder how long we'd wait to get a new one. We have become even bigger procrastinators than we used to be, although I never thought that was possible.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Change? No, please don't make me!

I took my new bike for a ride today. I hitched up the trailer, put Kevin in with his snacks, drink, books and toys (wait a minute, who does he think is hauling all that extra weight??) and headed to the playground.

*cue Dorothy's neighbor/witch riding her bike theme song*

The ride was smooth thanks to the cushy seat and suspension seat post but I'm still not sure what the suspension fork is for when 110% of my weight is carried on the back of the bike and not an ounce is on the front. Anyway, I learned a few things:

  • Sitting straight up on a bicycle with ones' feet directly below works nothing in the body except for the quadriceps - and maybe the glutes. I'm banking on some seriously buff legs by the end of the summer.

  • A kickstand can be really handy (I know! I'm as embarassed as you are about the kickstand.)

  • When turning one's body around on a bike without drop handlebars, one should not expect to continue traveling in a straight line if said body's hand pushes down on the handlebar to maintain balance.

  • Seven-speed rear cogsets have a whopping tooth differential between the first and second cogs.

  • Standing up on a bike with the handlebars nestled in one's abdomen provides surprisingly little positive leverage.

I believe I can get used to everything except for the seatpost falling, which happened twice today. That's a bit of a jolt. I also want to angle the brake levers farther down, just as my preference.

I am probably imagining this, but it seemed that more people smiled and waved back at me todaythan they used to when I'd ride by on my road bike. I am either intimidating in my bike shorts and fancy bike shoes or maybe just scary.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I'm a self-centered bike snob

This is my new bike that I just picked up from the bike shop tonight. I am very excited to have a new bike that should function better than my others with the trailer that I cart Kevin around in. However, I can't help but notice the low-end components, the reflectors and the external cable routing. But really, what can I expect when I own 2 righteous bikes already? There's no reason to buy another righteous bike, right? So I had nowhere to go but here - and hopefully "here" will take me even farther because right now, my riding is pretty much limited to trips to the playground and grocery store. But that's ok, because at least I'm not sitting at a desk everyday.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

A Statement I Never Expected to Make

"Andy, I can't hear the movie; please stop talking."

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Conversation I never expected to have

Kevin: Where does chicken [meat] come from?

Me: From chickens.

Kevin: But how do they make it?

Me: They don't make it, they just... um... are it.

Pop Culture Diva

I'm quite out of touch with most of the pop culture these days but I do have a few opinions on some things I've read, seen and heard lately.

1) Survivor Panama: Exile Island - While I did learn to like Aras more at the end of the game, I was bummed that he and Danielle were the Final Two. I realized when Danielle chose Aras that I really wanted Terry or Cirie to win. Between those two, it would be hard to pick but I think I'd pick Terry only because I have a bent toward thinking that the physical part of the game is more important than the social part, although Cirie blasted all of the competition in the social game. Of course, I think Austin should've won but that's obvious because I'm sure his smile won you over as much as it did me. But it's not a contest in looks after the first few tribal councils, right?

2) The Da Vinci Code - I read the book and thoroughly enjoyed it. Despite the bad reviews I've read this week, I would like to see the movie. And for the record, I don't think there should be a big deal made about this FICTIONAL NOVEL possibly being blasphemous. Do I think people should talk about how the movie story makes them feel if they feel something about it? Sure, conversation is always good.

3) CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - Last night we watched our taped copy of the season finale. Oh my gosh, could the ending have been any worse?? I'm so amazingly opposed to the storyline of Sara and Grissom because it's more like a father/daughter relationship than anything else so I don't buy the romantic thing at all and I can't believe that the writers went where they did at the end of the episode. While the camera was panning the bedroom where Grissom was lounging in a Hawaiian shirt and it was obvious that was not his pink bedspread, I gasped in horror at the thought of it being Sara's room and Andy said, "Surely he's with the blonde lady [Sofia]" and then - eww - it was Sara. So disappointing.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A Fine Mother's Day, Indeed

I wanted to write a post about my Mother's Day weekend that spoke of how I had to sleep in the woods, cook breakfast for everyone, take down and pack half our campsite and then endure the shaming by Andy and Kevin when they tried to drive away from the campground without me.

But I can't do it funny-like, so I just won't do it. All of the above did happen, although out of context it sounds worse than it was - well, most of it.

Andy had the great idea of going camping for Mother's Day weekend. We went to Susquehanna State Park which is close to my parents' house and it is also the famed FIRST PLACE I EVER IN MY LIFE CAMPED in 1997 with Andy. This time we chose a campsite only 2 sites away from the FIRST PLACE I EVER IN MY LIFE CAMPED and it brought back some memories.

Can I take a moment to relive the most memorable memory? (is that redundant?)
When we arrived, we needed to buy ice or bait or both, I can't remember, so we had to leave the park and find our way into town, which I think Andy expected to be easier for me to do than it was. I mean, my parents live close to the park but not that close, so I spent my Friday nights cruising the town in my parents' Mercury Grand Marquis 2 towns over, not the town by the park. As we crested a hill about to see the Promised Land that was 7-Eleven, the setting sun shone directly into my eyes and - BAM! - I got a migraine. "Andy, while you're in the store, can you get me a soda? I need to take some medicine."

We returned to the park, set up our campsite and prepared to have a lovely dinner of hot dogs and baked beans (which, by the way, is still our camping food of choice.) Out came the stove and the pan and the can of beans but - oops - we had no can opener. Andy carried a small sort of can opener thing in his pocket most of the time so he decided to use that. No luck, still stuck (got kids? you'll get that reference.) What was it, a good 20 minutes of Andy fighting with that thing and getting seriously perturbed before he gave up? Knowing him as I do now, I'm surprised he didn't spend another hour on it and then just slam the can of beans on the ground until it threw itself open in fear. I think he was trying to impress me so although he was angry and wouldn't listen to my suggestion of how to use his "can opener" to open the can, he didn't slam anything (well, maybe the tailgate.) After he was done, I gingerly approached the can with Andy's "can opener" and performed the surgery I had suggested and voila! We ate beans with our hot dogs that evening, thank you very much.

We've been on lots of camping trips since then but never again have we forgotten to bring a can opener.

Now, back to Mothers Day, 2006... we got to the park later than we planned on Friday evening and Kevin had fallen asleep in the car on the way which pretty much meant that he'd either 1) wake up when we got there and remain awake for 2 extra hours past his bedtime or, 2) stay asleep all evening and wake up at 5:00 am and poke our eyes to wake us up because, "It's time to go fishing!" Don't think I'm not speaking from experience.

He slept through us setting up the tent and bedding and unloading a few things and it was really cool to be back in action with just Andy setting everything up like the dandy team that we are (get it?) without even having to speak. And it was so quick and efficient! Quite unlike the last time we camped when Kevin "helped" with everything.

I'll make this story short at this point but remind me to tell you later about the time mixup with my parents on Saturday. That was a hoot. But anyway, we had a terrific weekend and I got a present besides camping... a Trek bike catalog with a post-it note inside saying, "Happy Mother's Day" on the page of hybrids because I'd mentioned to Andy that I thought it would be easier to ride to the store on my bike if I didn't have to use my current road bike (for various reasons I won't bore you with here.) Yahoo! Now I get to go test ride some bikes at the shop.

Oh, and I almost finished reading The Da Vinci Code this weekend because I had so much "free" time while Andy took care of most things and I was able to finish it on Monday. Quick review: I really enjoyed it.

I hope you all had a nice Mother's Day weekend as well.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Worth the money

Kevin always wears socks. It's been a long time since he's required shoes 24 hours a day, and that's been nice, but we have been unable to break the sock barrier. In the summertime, he gets athlete's foot because his feet are always sweaty and always inside socks (or cozy winter slippers.) Even when we went to the beach last year, he wore socks and shoes.

Since the weather has been getting warmer this spring, we've been talking to him a lot about him trying to have bare feet. Today he proudly said to me, "Mama, I'm going to take off my socks!" I praised him profusely, telling him how proud I was that he was trying something new and I had him go tell Andy so that he could lavish on the praise as well. So he took off his sweaty socks (yes, I do change them multiple times a day but he's a sweaty guy) and then... put his slippers back on. Now, that wasn't what we were hoping for but we had to admit that it was an excellent step. It was brand new territory for the boy so we were proud. But not as proud as tonight, although I might be more proud of myself for this part of the story.

We were at REI and I saw some kids' sandals with lots of foot coverage. I thought they'd be great for Kevin to try because he'd be safe in them what with the toe guards (he scuffs the toes of his shoes the moment he steps out of the shoe store, every time) and lots of webbing. Plus I hoped they'd feel more like shoes and less like sandals to him. The cost was much higher than I ever thought I'd pay for a pair of sandals for anyone in our family, but I gave it a shot anyway.

The next obstacle was to get Kevin to try them on without socks. [If someone reading this is from the Maryland Dept of Health and Mental Hygiene, please know that no REI employee condoned the sockless try-on.] I knew that if Kevin tried them on with socks, he'd never wear them without socks. And I wasn't going to spend that much money on sandals to be worn with socks. I somehow convinced Kevin to even try on the shoes and then I talked his poor ear off while I snuck off a sock and stuffed his foot into the sandal. He kept talking while I did the same to his other foot and then I quickly said, "Hey, they look cool! Go find Papa to show him!" I was so proud of myself for getting his socks off his feet without a meltdown AND knowing how to get him to walk around in them WITHOUT SOCKS (did I mention that already?) to see how they felt and check whether he would trip over the front ends.

He walked around the store for awhile and hiked up and down the test rock a few times. He asked to take them home and it was then that I had to break it to him that he wasn't wearing any socks and that I knew it. I told him that he could have the new shoes if he promised to wear them at home without socks. He solemnly promised me that and promptly returned to the empty shoe box and placed his sneakers inside.

Yes, People, that means what you think it does. He wore the sandals WITH NO SOCKS out of the store! I can only hope that this wonder-child still exists in the morning when it's time to get dressed for church.

Monday, May 01, 2006


For the past months, we've been trying to figure out how to go about adopting
our next child. We've always known that we planned to have more than 1 kid,
assuming there weren't mitigating circumstances that popped up.

When Kevin first came home, I wanted to hurry up and start on our second adoption
because parenting sucked so bad I didn't want to spread out the years of torture
any longer than necessary.

Later I felt ready to hurry up and start our second adoption because parenting
had become tolerable and I felt like I could handle the torture as long as I knew
it would get different through time, and probably better.

More recently I have felt ready to hurry up and start our second adoption because
Kevin needs a playmate besides us and we feel even more settled into parenting (not
that we expect a second child to be exactly like the first) and because
the timing is "right" given how far apart we would probably have our children
were we birthing them ourselves.

Has God helped us figure out what we're supposed to be doing for child #2 during
all of this? Not to our knowledge! We've felt no clarity of direction. Granted,
sometimes we make decisions without clarity from God but, hey, this is a biggie and
the fact that we're not hearing anything actually makes us feel like it's telling
us even more clearly that maybe this isn't right.

A few weeks ago the thought hit me, "What if we're not supposed to have any more
kids?" I immediately followed that up with, "But of course we will, that's
always been the plan" and then a handful of valid reasons why we don't want
Kevin to be an only child (to have a playmate, to learn how to live with other
people and negotiate and communicate effectively, to not be as selfish, and not
to have to take care of us on his own when we get older.) However, the thought
hit me again, "Just suppose for a moment that you're not meant to have anymore kids."

What I felt next surprised me and made me feel guilty but it was overwhelmingly
peaceful - I felt relieved. I was relieved not to have to make a decision
about how to adopt our other children, where to find the money to do it, when
to get the ball rolling and, honestly, I was relieved by the thought of
not having to deal with another batch of attachment and grief issues from a
hurting child.

I liked the feeling enough to continue entertaining the thought for awhile. I
realized that it might just mean I can relax for now and wait before pushing
ourselves into the next process and that was equally relieving. I felt that God
was saying, "Hey, stop worrying about this. It's not worth it. Enjoy what
you have right now without feeling pressured to jump into something you're
really not ready for. You'll know when you're supposed to do something
and what it is that you're supposed to do."

So I'm waiting and enjoying not pressuring myself about it anymore. It feels
sweet like the first lick of an ice cream cone on a hot summer day.

I really do know to expect this for the next 20 years

Most of the past year and a half, Kevin has pined for Andy whenever he's not
around and has shadowed him whenever he is. I've never had a problem
with that. Lots of people assume I'd be offended or hurt but I never have been.
Andy is more fun and has more patience than I do. So it never bothered me.

Until now.

This morning, we had a friend over who Kevin likes to think of as his "little
sister." He treats her as such by helping her with things and he is quite patient
with the fact that she doesn't understand sharing as well as kids his age and such.
He even said today that he is like her big brother. And he does really well playing
with her and they both have a good time together. While she was here, I did some
housework but I also played with them and I played with Kevin by himself some
of the time as well. Then she left and I played with Kevin some more and then helped
him clean up his toys and then we had a snack and played some more. Then we
went over to the friend's house to have lunch with her and her real big brother
and then they all played together. I spent time in the playroom with them playing
with Kevin. Then we went to the grocery store and he had a snack when we came
home. I read email and he started to get frustrated. He began the 2-hour long
session of asking, "When is Papa coming home?" I told him how long it would
be and I got him to talk through his feelings about why he wanted Papa home and
it all comes down to wanting to play with him and he doesn't want to play by himself.

Now, did I make him play by himself all day?? I have tried to before, but I
most definitely did not today! And I don't like the playing so I know when I
a lot of it and when I don't.

The last time Kevin said, "I want Papa to come home now. I want to play with him now,"
I stifled the urge to yell, "Have I not played with you today? Have I not made
sure that you had the chance to play with other kids both at home and at
their house? Did I not allow you to pick something out at the grocery store
just for you? Did I not make sure you had a full stomach and clothes on
your back? Tell me - what did Papa do for you yet today???!!"

I know that I didn't used to be worth being around because I wasn't a good mom.
But now? Now I'm a good mom and my son better start to recognize!