Friday, July 31, 2009

B & J's excellent adventure, part two

Picking up where we left off...B and I took the train from Philadelphia to just outside Annapolis, MD, to spend the next six days with my sister and her husband. They live on a beautiful horse farm with tons of fun stuff for kids to do.

This is my sister, 34ish weeks pregnant with twins. You can't even tell she's pregnant from behind (that was definitely NOT the case with me -- I had a full-body pregnancy). They're due to be born by scheduled c-section on August 13.

B rode a (very large) horse the first day we were there:
I don't know why he looks so bored in this picture. Honestly, he looked so happy and proud of himself the whole time I saw him up there.

Other critters on the farm:

My sister hates the peacocks. Apparently they've gone rather wild and started breeding out of control, and have a habit of pooping on her roof. I wouldn't like that either, but they are pretty to look at, aren't they?

Sylvie, my sister's elderly (and slightly neurotic) dog

Moo, my BIL's dog. B fell in love with her because she followed him all over the farm, everywhere he went.

A sweet kitty that lived at the neighbor's

One of Bizzy's goats

More horses

Georgia, my sister's first horse, and still her favorite I think

And there were other things to ride besides horses too:

And kids to play with:
B & Bizzy, who must be some sort of cousin to him by marriage, but don't ask me to name that relationship exactly

Jumping on the trampoline at the neighbor boy's house -- they hosted the weekly Tuesday cookout while we were there (wouldn't you love to live in a place where everyone on the road took turns hosting a cookout on summer Tuesday evenings?!)

The clubhouse at the neighbors' place

B and his new buddies entering the clubhouse (I have no idea what was in there; it could've been a chicken coop for all I know)

B & his buddies from the cookout

My brother-in-law's sister (is she my sister-in-law? my sister-in-law-in-law?) is building a straw bale house on the farm, and they've been having mudding parties every Saturday. About 50 people show up every week to help them mud the straw. We dropped by to check it out, but didn't stay to help:

We had a very special visit one day while we were there. Rony from Insane Mommy brought her lovely Abby & Katie over to spend an afternoon with us. Rony and I met online in the run-up to the presidential election last year. We are both part of a very small minority in the adoption community: liberals. As you may remember, I got rather vocal here on the blog last fall when election time rolled around, and Rony and I bonded over that. As it turns out, we had plenty of things besides politics to talk about. She was loads of fun, and I will definitely be looking her up whenever I'm in the DC area.
Rony, her girls, and me. That's B's rear end you can see up at the top of the picture. I don't know why, but he freaked out when we tried to take a picture, and ran away crying. Strange child.

The crazy kids jumping on Bizzy's trampoline; Bizzy had left for the beach the day before, which is too bad, because I think she would've had a blast with these three monkeys.

Sadly, all vacations must come to an end. Here's B on the bus from the airport terminal to our car:

It's good to be home though. I missed M & Z a ton. Z's speech improved tremendously in the 11 days we were gone. Really, it's astonishing. And the gardens are on the verge of taking over the yard, especially the vegetable garden.

It really was an excellent adventure though...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

B & J's excellent adventure, part one

B and I are finally home, after 11 days on the road. Our first stop was in Philadelphia. It was all work for me, and all play for B. OK, not exactly all work for me--there were a few parties...

On Monday, the youth program wasn't open yet, so poor B had to trail me around the convention center and try to stay quiet during meetings. That night, we went to a big party on the top floor of the Comcast Center, the big glass building in this picture:

B made friends with a kid named Sam at that party. Sam is also five, and just as silly as B. It was a match made in heaven. Luckily for all of us, they continued to run into each other throughout the trip.

On Tuesday, B got to play in the youth program all day while I worked. He played mini-golf and rode a carousel, or so I hear. That night, we went to a big party at Independence Park. This included a visit to the Liberty Bell:

B was totally unimpressed by the big cracked bell, preferring to climb on the windowsill next to it while the park ranger lectured:

Until she told him to get his naughty self down, that is:

As luck would have it, we ran into Sam and his grandparents as we were leaving the party. Seeing how B and Sam had hit it off, they'd decided to put Sam in the youth program the next day so he could spend more time with B. Let the silliness begin.

So on Wednesday, lucky B and his buddy Sam got to go to the Please Touch Museum and Ride the Ducks, while I (you guessed it) worked all day. That night, there was of course another party, after which B and I took a little walk around Philadelphia on our way back to the hotel. The ever observant B had noticed lots of eyes following him all over the city:

They were stuck on pipes all over the place. We saw at least half a dozen sets. Actually, we'd hoped to photograph them all, but the morning we took the camera with us, there were people perched on every single pipe while they ate their breakfast, except for the one above. That one stuck out of the wall at a height of about six feet, so it wouldn't have made a very good seat.

We took a break during our walk to sit by a big fountain. Well, I sat by the big fountain while B splashed around in it. He managed to get himself completely soaked from head to toe before I noticed the "no swimming" signs. We walked back to the hotel to put him in dry pajamas while I packed.

Thursday morning, we made a brief visit to the convention center so B could load up on junk from the exhibit hall, then headed for the train station. And guess who we ran into at the train station? Silly Sam, headed home with his grandparents. Here are B and Sam goofing off while we waited for our trains:

B amused himself on the train with this "mess-free" paint set we picked up at the toy industry booth in the exhibit hall:

Tomorrow, part two: Maryland--more new friends, horses, tractors, trampolines and more.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


One goal down. These were the goals I set back in the beginning of July:

1. run 50 miles in the month of July
2. shave another 30 seconds off my average pace by the end of July
3. be able to run 10 miles by mid-September (without dying)

So far, as of July 26, I've run 53.4 miles. Woohoo!!! And I still have four days left to run (I'm not counting July 29 because B & I will be flying back home that day). I'm going to pass 60 miles.

I'm not so sure I'm going to make goal #2. My average pace for the month of July is about 19 seconds faster than the previous month, and I doubt I'm going to be able to shave off another 11 seconds in four more runs. Although running is definitely easier here at sea level. I feel faster. I also feel like I'm running in a big vat of hot soup. Anyway, maybe I'll consider upping my distance a good enough accomplishment for the month of July and work on my speed in August.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Buh-bye for now

B and I are leaving on a jet plane tomorrow morning. We're headed to Philadelphia for five days first. This part of the trip is business for me, but will be all fun for B. From there, we're taking the train to Maryland to stay with my sister for almost a week. She's very very pregnant, so again, that part of the trip will be all fun for B (pool, trampoline, six year-old cousin to play with, horses to ride, tractors to drive), but I plan to spend a lot of time helping my sister finish getting ready for the twins. Not that that won't be fun, but holding the actual babies would be more fun than painting their nursery or putting together their cribs.

Speaking of the twins, they will likely be born by scheduled c-section within a few days after B and I leave for home. Why couldn't they have scheduled it for while we were there? How inconsiderate of her obstetrician. Doesn't she realize it's all about me me ME??? (Just kidding, of course.)

I am taking the camera with me and will take plenty of pictures, but I don't know if I'll be able to download them before I get home. If I can, I'll post some; if not, see you at the end of the month!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Coming out of the fog

I think. I've been living in crisis-management mode for five and a half years now, since B was born. Although I didn't really like being pregnant, when I look back at those days now, they seem almost idyllic. Life got incredibly busy and stressful starting the moment we walked in the front door with him in our arms. He was a fussy baby who wanted to be held 24/7. He refused to sleep for more than 20 minutes at a time for months on end. When he was about six months old, we discovered he had a pretty serious case of GERD, and by coincidence, a number of other health issues cropped up at the same time. It was a terrifying month filled spent in doctors' offices and hospital waiting rooms. In the end, it turned out he was fine, except for the GERD, which we managed to successfully control with medication until he turned one, at which point he outgrew it.

But even after we got past all that, B was not an easy toddler. His demand for constant parental attention continued. I saw friends' kids who could play for a few minutes on their own, or maybe watch a video or something, but B never could. He was prone to yelling/crying fits, or worse, hitting, biting or scratching, when he didn't get his way. [B was later diagnosed with birth trauma and spent a few months earlier this year in play therapy to deal with it, but the details of that are another post for another day. Maybe.]

Enter Z, when B was four years old. If we thought it was hard before, boy, were we in for a shock. There was a honeymoon period when B thought having a baby sister was the coolest thing ever, but it lasted less then a month. Then he decided two things: (1) he was going to get rid of that little girl by whatever means necessary, and (2) he hated M & me and didn't want to be in our family anymore. This made life very unpleasant for M and me for about a year, and I don't even want to imagine how unpleasant it was for poor Z at times. The chaos in our house was constant, and M & I felt like we spent more time yelling at B than playing with him some days.

The effect of these past five and a half years on me (afterall, isn't this blog all about me? not really, but it is MINE) was stress. All day, every day. For five and a half years, I have felt incompetent at almost everything I do -- my kids didn't get along and behaved badly in public, my house was a wreck, long-term projects like organizing photos or painting rooms got put off indefinitely, I rarely found time to exercise, I fed my kids not exactly junk food, but certainly not the kind of whole, healthy foods I'd always imagined I'd feed my kids, and M and I didn't have even a fraction of the time we needed together. The time I spent with friends slid down to virtually nil, I did pretty much no reading for pleasure (only parenting books, which I devoured in search of a solution), and all of my hobbies disappeared. I have felt out of control of my own life for a long time now.

But I sense a change taking place. Slowly but surely, I'm beginning to feel like I'm getting my groove back. I've been running consistently for almost three months now, and it feels great. Things have been surprisingly mellow around our house for the last couple of weeks, with the kids getting along beautifully with each other without our constant participation. B has been fun to be around (most of the time -- hey, we don't expect perfection!), and has been wonderfully helpful around the house and is trying hard to be a good big brother to Z. M & I actually sat in the living room and talked for a whole hour the other night after the kids went to bed. We didn't even talk about the kids or money! It was freaky. But so nice. In the midst of all of this, I have gradually tapered off the happy pill I've taken for the past six years, and I feel fine. F.I.N.E. The house is still a wreck and we're still about neck-deep in debt (better than the eyeball-deep it was a few months ago), but really, how much change can a woman expect at once?

Is it possible? Am I getting my life back? I sure hope so. It feels good.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cupcakes go swimming

B & Z's preschool has pulled all the kindergarten-bound kids out of the regular class and put them in their own group for the summer. After much debate and several votes, the group of 12 kids settled on "Cupcakes" as the class name. B and several of the other boys were sorely disappointed, having lobbied hard for "Stormtroopers." These kids have their own classroom in the college that their teacher has fitted out with toys kept hidden all year long & brought out only for this last summer of preschool, plus a bunch of the college's laptops. I hear there have been several happy mornings spent playing supposedly "educational" computer games. They also get special activities, like a once-a-week trip to a neighborhood pool nearby, a couple of visits from the fire department, and several visits from a local city's outreach program. B has been having loads of fun, and M & I think it's good that he's been interacting with kids his own age all summer. All year he's gravitated toward younger kids in his class that he can boss around; hanging out with his peers and getting a taste of his own medicine is probably good for him!

Last week, I chaperoned the Cupcakes on their first trip to the neighborhood pool. It was about a half-hour walk to get there, with a trip down a path through a big field that was just swarming with ladybugs, a quick pass by a classmate's house, and arrival at the pool just as all the five year-olds were running out of steam. I wish I could go with them every week, but sadly, my work schedule demands I sit in front of a computer all day in an office with windows that don't even open, rather than hanging out at the pool.

Cupcakes: class picture

B at the pool


Sunday, July 12, 2009


Magic compost + wet spring = beautiful gardens

Doesn't that just make you want to sit down in a chaise lounge on the patio with a good book & a glass of wine? That's what it does to me! What I cropped out of the photo was the giant dog who wants to play and the two kids screaming for my attention. That would take away from the peacefulness this picture conveys, don't you think? There is no peace in this house until after about 8:30pm, when both kids are finally asleep.

The vegetable garden is looking pretty good too:

That's bok choy that's bolted on the right-hand side there. I think it's time to start over on the greens. It's been so cool & rainy that I'm thinking about starting more lettuce & spinach by seed. Normally at this time of year in Colorado, the seeds would just cook, but I think I may be able to pull it off this year.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The girl loves pudding

When B saw this picture & asked what Z had all over her face, and I said "chocolate pudding," he very matter-of-factly said "It must have been the exploding kind."

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Best park E.V.E.R.

Best Park Ever - big mosaic v2

This park is in my hometown, and I am neither kidding nor exaggerating when I say that it is the best park ever. Seriously, in all my 41 years, I have never seen a better park. It has the coolest playground, with all sorts of unusual stuff to climb, a huge swing that holds multiple kids, and a saucer-shaped merry-go-round that one person can get going with just their body weight. Part of the park is under a roof -- it used to be one of the pavilions for the old fairgrounds that was once there -- so it's nice and shady. The ground under the roof is either sand or that rubbery playground stuff, and the toys and cool things to climb on there are mostly suited to littler kids. There's a second pavilion too -- huge! -- with a bunch of picnic tables under it. It would be a great place for a kid's birthday party. I hear they're eventually going to start having a farmer's market under the second pavilion, but I haven't seen signs of it yet. My mom said they're also going to set up booths along the river for local artisans to display their work. There are a lot of artists in town; it's a town that's known worldwide for its sculture and many sculptors live in town. They even thought of the dogs -- there's a dog park there -- and they saved the bleachers from the old rodeo arena and apparently have concerts there in the summer. It's a killer park, I'm telling you. If you're ever headed that way, let me know & I'll tell you how to get there. Now if the lame town I live in now could just come up with something like this!

The merry-go-round
Giant swing

Speaking of sculpture -- there's a beautiful one near the river made of silver metal & blue & green glass that I sadly forgot to photograph -- next time. Just below that, they've dammed the river and built wide, shallow steps down into the water. It was moving too fast to play in the day we were there (thanks to the spring runoff and all that crazy rain we've been having), but it would be fun later in the summer on a hot day.

Not that we all stayed dry:

Because they also have a splash park:

B was pretty happy to get wet once we'd been there for awhile, but Z wasn't so into it. The water was pretty cold, so I don't really blame her.

Z also got tired of me taking her picture. Here she is running away from me shouting, "Stop. Taking. My. PICTURE!!!" Did I stop? Eventually. Until she wasn't looking.

Still a kid at heart

The elusive and mysterious J

Z was so in need of a nap after the trip to the park that she snuggled down in the dog bed