Sunday, August 30, 2009

I hate everything.

The title pretty much says it all. It's been a crappy day. I'm tired of my husband cheating on me with a swim school. My two year old spent an entire day doing his best to prove the "terrible two" stereotype. I didn't get out to any stores so I'll be packing the same five casual shirts I wear every weekend for our trip to D.C. My dogs didn't do anything wrong, but they were here and for some reason that was annoying. Lilly decided to pee next to her little box rather than inside of it- something she's never done, but picked today to try out.

I miss JP. I miss sharing responsibility for everything. I miss our down-time. I miss his attempts to defend conservative politics. He should have so much to yell at me about Obama, but he doesn't even have time to read the things that would make him yell.

It's not all bad. If I had the energy I could summon up some perspective, but I'm tired and crabby and I'm going to indulge in the rare bit of wallowing.

I will be better tomorrow. We will be better tomorrow. Until then, look- a fireman!


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Two Happies

1. Landon is doing great with his new daycare. He was a little clingy Tuesday morning, and then cried on Wednesday morning, and that is SO hard. I knew he liked it because on that same morning he was being fussy and irritable while I was getting dressed, and I asked if he was ready to go to daycare. He immediately said yes! and ran to the laundry room to bring me his shoes. I held on to that memory when he dissolved into tears at drop-off 30 minutes later. But - and this is the happy part - when I picked him up yesterday, he yelled "Mama!!" and ran over to me with a huge smile. And then instead of wanting to climb in my arms and leave, he grabbed my hand and showed me all around his room. I saw the yellow buses, the windows to look outside, and his lunch box and water bottle. It was adorable. He said bye bye to his friends and one little girl said "Bye Bye Lan-an!" as we walked out. He had another great day today and I'm just so happy with New Center.

2. I swam this morning! I've lost all my endurance and I only did about 1,000 yards (I know that may sound like a lot to non-swimmers, but that used to be our warm-up every day in high school), but it felt so good. I thought I'd feel awkward and out of sync but my body felt just as at home in the water as it always did. Motherhood and my year of suburban living resulted one surprise- in the past when I've jumped back in the pool after years off, it's been my arms that die the quickest while my legs have remained pretty strong. This time, my arms felt fine and my legs were a pathetic quivering mess. I think it's due to carrying around my 30-lb. Landon and no longer walking around the UT campus or the city of Chicago. It was depressing to realize how much leg muscle I've lost. But still, I swam. And it wasn't as bad as I feared. And I think I'm going to try Really hard to make it a semi-regular thing. It's fun to remember how happy the water once made me.

(Third Bonus Happy: Project Runway is back! And Top Chef! It's almost too much at once but I loooove those shows.)

(Friday Morning Not So Happy: Landon cried, a lot, when I dropped him off this morning. Five days is a lot for the first week. I know he's happy there, but maybe he's starting to think there's never a day he just stays home like he used to. I'm looking forward to tomorrow and our big plans for our first ever playdate, exploring a new park, and just hanging out.)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

So I Married an Entrepreneur

I can't say I wasn't warned. Within an hour of meeting my very drunk yet still very charming future husband, I heard all about his plans to start his own business one day. He was rambling and had just attempted to walk into oncoming traffic, but he spoke with such conviction about his entrepreneurial dreams that I knew he was serious. Over the next four years of our courtship I kept telling myself he'd grow up and come to accept the practical path of a steady, benefits-providing job and all this talk of starting his own company would stay just that- talk. I discouraged his ideas (which in my defense, were generally ill-thought out, impractical, or already existing) and enthusiastically helped him prepare for job interviews. By the time he graduated with his B.B.A. in Finance he had a job with a major oil company in Houston, we were planning to get married, and I was thrilled to see him on a traditional career path.

I was wrong. Wrong to think he'd given up his entrepreneurial dreams and wrong to wish he would. For the most part my discouragement was well placed. He needed a heavy dose of practicality, something his mother never introduced in his life, and I think the lessons he learned while working for larger companies will help him in starting his own. He also never had a business idea worth pursuing. But I still feel bad for how much I hoped he'd stop trying to come up with one. After four years of working, he set out to get his MBA purely to get out of a desk job and "find someone with a good idea." Last September, over a dinner of hamburgers and pasta salad, one of our close friends and ex-UT teammate provided him with just that. He had just returned from the Beijing Olympics and was retiring from professional swimming. He had some money and an idea, and he needed a business-minded partner to put everything in motion. He looked at JP and said "Let's start a swim school."

After seven years together I had accepted that JP's career needs were radically different from my own. While the financial risk involved with starting my own company terrified me, JP found it to be a source of excitement and motivation. However, I still thought he'd work a regular post-MBA job for a few years while we paid down our loans and he figured out what his hypothetical company would be. I most definitely did not think he'd be starting this company while in grad school, immediately after I had started my demanding new career. After all, it was his turn to be the flexible parent. It was my turn to occasionally come home to dinner and folded laundry. I was a full-time associate at a major law firm- I was supposed to be the busier one.

But for once, I could think of nothing obviously wrong with the idea and soon found myself lending a supportive voice to the meetings at our kitchen table. After several business plan revisions, he and his partners have formed a swim school to teach kids of every age, from initial water safety to the finer points of stroke technique and training. They have a pool, experienced instructors, and an enthusiastic fan base. JP has done all the business work- forming the LLC, meeting with lawyers and tax advisers, keeping the books, managing payroll, scheduling lessons, and answering the phones. Everything. It has been difficult, to say the very least, to balance all of this with business school, my job, Landon, and our family life, and there have been some late nights and tense conversations between the two of us. But it's working. They're doing so well and this is such a perfect opportunity for him- combining his passion and knowledge of swimming with his skills as a businessman, negotiator, and coach.

I still get scared about the uncertainty of it all, but with the recent economic turmoil and law firms conducting mass layoffs, I suppose nothing is certain. I do believe in their idea and it's been fun to play the part of cheerleader rather than dream crusher, as JP used to lovingly call me. And of course it helps that I make enough to support our family for the foreseeable, carefully budgeted future. As co-head of a hopefully growing family, JP couldn't pursue this without me and my paycheck and that makes me feel proud and slightly less guilty about my old nickname.

After some debate, JP's returning to U.T. tomorrow to finish his MBA. It's going to be hard- even harder than last year when they were planning their business, because now they're operating one. I spent a while dreading it, but after lots of talks, including one alone with his business partner, I'm... well, not at peace, but at least not dreading it as much. I know we'll make it work and we'll be fine, I just don't want to be irritated for 8 months. I don't want to blame him for not having any free time when it's all necessary work and he still manages to be an amazing husband and father. It's not like he's out with some drinking buddies or golfing on the weekends- he's building a business and earning a masters degree. But I still get mad (or "prickly" as JP has dubbed it). I hate when his phone is constantly ringing and he's up until 2 a.m. doing the books and payroll. I can't sleep without him next to me, and since I can't yell at the insomnia I end up yelling at him. I don't want to do that. Sometimes I think bitterly that I would never do this to my family- add the pressure of a new business along with school, but then I remember that I'd never want to and if I did JP would support me 100%.

It's going to be a difficult year, but we've had others. Part of me still wishes JP would be happy in a normal job with predictable hours and without regular evening and weekend commitments, but all of me knows he wouldn't and most of me is okay with that. And I'm tremendously proud of all the work he's done and the praise their little company has already received from parents and swimmers. Eight years after a drunken conversation on the sidewalks of 6th street he's living his dream and I'm so happy for him.

Monday, August 24, 2009

First Day

I had dreams for this morning. I would be up early, in plenty of time to blow dry and style my hair. After a few minutes spent cuddling in bed, JP would go cook pancakes while we waited for Landon to wake up, which he would do around 7:45. He'd be dressed in the clothes I already laid out and we'd eat a nice breakfast together before taking pictures and heading to New Center at 8:15 for his big first day.

Instead, I woke up at 8:05. I yelled, hit JP, and jumped into the shower. JP went upstairs to shove an irritated Landon into his clothes (not the ones I had picked out) and handed him a cereal bar and cup of milk to eat on the floor of our bathroom while we got ready. At 8:30 I was dressed with hair done (or "done") and make-up on, appreciating all those mornings I had to get ready for school in fifteen minutes after 5 a.m. swim practice. I still insisted on pictures, and managed to get this one of my two handsome men:



Five seconds after this was taken Landon decided that he didn't want to hold his lunch box anymore. And he didn't want JP to hold it. And he didn't want it to touch the ground. The world can be very frustrating when you're a toddler and people/gravity aren't following your simple instructions.

We all jumped in the car and headed off to New Center, realizing half-way there that we'd forgotten the carefully packed and labeled bag of diaper and nap items. At 8:52 we were on our way again. When we arrived in his classroom the kids were already outside for their morning playtime. Landon wanted to join them and paused for a picture with great reluctance.



We walked out the door in the back of the classroom to find his teacher and new friends. Landon spotted the playscape and Little Tikes cozy coupes and took off.



We chased after him so we could at least identify the curly-haired kid to his new teacher, but she remembered his name from Open House and gave a cheerful Hello. There were three crying kids on her lap and Landon gave them a concerned look, probably wondering if they had seen the buses (cozy coupes), and if they had- why were they crying? He jumped on a tricycle and after some prodding gave us a cheerful "bye bye mama! bye bye dada!" And on that anticlimactic note, JP and I headed out very proud of our little boy, but thinking maybe it wouldn't be so bad if we were at least some competition for the cozy coupes. JP picked him up at 5:15 and got a glowing report from the teacher. Landon was very happy to see his dad and gave him a huge hug. JP thought he was just relieved that this daycare worked the same way as the old one - that we did come back at the end of the day and take him home to his doggies and personal bus fleet. It was a great first day.

And here are two superfluous pictures of Landon prancing around with his new backpack last night.





I hope he's always this excited about the first day of school. I can't wait until the day we get to pick out school supplies!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Big Switch

Landon starts at his new daycare on Monday. I spent about a week of last month panicking at the thought of the switch and the making of the lunches and the closing 15 minutes earlier and wondered WHY we thought this change was a good idea. I very nearly called new place to see if we could get back our deposit (all one-freaking-thousand dollars of it) and old place to see if Landon could keep his spot, but then I got too busy to do either one and inaction made me re-convince myself we'd made the right decision. And after receiving a pleasant introductory phone call from his new teacher, attending New Parents Orientation on Tuesday night, and taking Landon to Open House Friday night, I am so excited about New Center.

His teacher has been working in early childhood education for thirty years and has been at New Center since it opened fifteen years ago. She seems warm and smiley and obviously loves what she does - this is a career for her, not a stop-over on the way to something else. New Center pays well above market and has one of the lowest teacher turnover rates in Austin. Every employee I met truly thinks of themselves as a teacher and not just a kid minder/wrangler. We've really liked the place he is at now, but I feel like we got lucky with his teachers and each year it would have been a crapshoot as to whether we got a good one. Like most daycares, his current one doesn't pay all that well and turnover is very high- some seem to really enjoy what they do, others are obviously waiting for something better to come along. New Center felt like a whole bunch of preschool teachers who happen to teach other younger ages.

I loved all their talk about learning through play and themes and modifying their plans based on what the kids seem interested in. They spend a lot of time outside and I have yet to meet a parent in our community who doesn't rave about the time their child spent at New Center. And because it is a neighborhood center with a part-time program, nearly every child around us has been through its doors, which adds a neat feeling of community. I'm excited for him- I think he's going to thrive there. He seemed to love his new classroom at Open House- jumping down from my arms to play with new buses and meet the other kids. He shared all of his toys, even going to get another block from a bin so that a third boy joining the block area could have one. He's so friendly and sweet and unafraid of anything, I'm always so proud of him when he's with other kids.

I'm still nervous about the packing of the lunch each night. I know we'll get used to it and I think he'll end up eating more and better foods, but we've been so spoiled by just dropping him off in the morning with nothing but the clothes on his back. I've already packed his lunch box for tomorrow and the organizing, school-supply loving part of me had a great time filling his little containers with cut-up fruit, veggies, and a wee crustless peanut butter sandwich. We'll see how long the enjoyment lasts- I packed JP's lunch for about a week after we were married and then decided I was over the wifely feeling it gave me. JP and I will probably just trade-off the responsibility, I'd give it to Landon as his first official family chore, but then his box would be filled with 6 muffins and a gallon of milk.

I have Landon's daycare bag all packed with his diapers, wipes, nap stuff and a poster with family pictures. He has a little penguin backpack that is so adorable I can't wait to put it on him and take 100 pictures. I think he's going to love his new school and I'm so excited for all the fun and friends and buses he's going to have there.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Toddlers and Babies

I feel like most people get pressured to have another child by friends or grandparents, but for us, the pressure comes in toddler form. Landon loves babies. When we're out and about he's always pointing out the babies ("BeeBees") and telling them night night (if they're sleeping) or hi or bye, depending on which direction they're going. At his birthday party he was very concerned about his two baby guests and stuck close by, frequently offering to share his snack and pointing them out to the other party goers.

It's transition week at his current daycare and an 11-month-old little girl has moved up to his classroom. She doesn't walk yet and Landon has nominated himself as her protector and guardian. The teachers told me the other kids play around her or ignore her, but Landon is always nearby, handing her his favorite toys or bringing her leaves and other treasures when they're outside. Ms. S said he sits near her on the carpet for reading time and even offered her a few of his stacking cups (the toy he appropriates the minute he gets into the classroom in the morning). He's such a sweetheart- I wonder if this loving attitude will last one day when the BeeBee comes home with him...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Disjointed

I haven't slept well the last two nights. On Monday I stayed up too late reading The Time Traveler's Wife and couldn't turn my brain off when I crawled into bed. The book mostly takes place in Chicago and just reading the familiar names of the streets, neighborhoods and museums left me missing Chicago so acutely I woke up JP, crawled into his arms and started to cry.

I get affected by the books I read. JP always knows when I'm reading a romance because I'll suddenly need to hear him say why he loves me (the men in those books are wonderfully, unrealistically verbal). And because he does, he always tells me, and I know that I'm living my own love story, made better with its absence of battles and corsets. He knows when I'm reading something troubling or thought-provoking because I stay withdrawn and separate from him, even after I put the book down. Monday night, after four hours of flying through the The Time Traveler's Wife I felt disjointed, like I was split in my component parts and couldn't fit perfectly back together again. I was thinking about living downtown in the city and I desperately wanted it back. But then I thought about my job and my family and I know I couldn't combine those in Chicago as well as I can here in Austin. I thought about a life with no JP and no Landon and me living in a small modern apartment just North of the Loop- working late, meeting up with friends, walking home along the Chicago River- and it fit. Sometimes I think it fits me better than the life I have now.

But then I looked at my sleeping husband, the man who has been the biggest fixture in my life since I was 18 and I can't wish him out of it. Even if he is the reason I'm back in Texas. I thought of Landon. I thought of the children I still want to have, and even right then when time travel and anything else seemed possible, I don't want a life without them in it.

I finished the last 80 pages of the book yesterday at work, stealthily speed reading in my lap under my desk. I went home for dinner and Landon's new daycare orientation and then headed back to the office and worked until after midnight prepping our partners for a hearing on Thursday. My mind was jumbled driving home- I was quite tired, happy about a job well done, and oddly preoccupied with trying to name all of Chicago's downtown north-south streets in order. I was bothered by how much I longed for an urban existence that excluded the two people I love the most.

And then suddenly, in those moments of imagining my alternative life, I understand why I need my career. It's the other part of me, the life I'm not living in the city I'm not in. The challenge, the stress, the sheer separateness it provides from my daily suburban life is why I can be so happy here even though a version of me longs for somewhere else. I've tried to explain to myself why I need to work- why even though I adore Landon, I don't question the time I spend away from him. Not even when JP and I are spinning stories about the future and not even deep down inside when everyone else is asleep. It's why I feel sadness but no guilt at the trade-offs involved in combining work and family. This is how the parts of me fit together. I haven't lost the city girl I discovered when I went to law school and I do love my family as much as I think.

I don't know how long this feeling of peace will last and I don't know if it will make sense to anyone else. JP seemed to understand when I explained it at 2 a.m. but he mostly just wanted me to get under the covers and stop talking. I've debated off and on all morning about publishing this, but maybe one day I'll need to read it again.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Lazy Day

Yesterday we attended our neighborhood's BBQ cook-off. Sometimes I can't really believe things like this are on my calendar. Five years ago I was living in a bug-infested college apartment in a questionable part of town (my friend's car was stolen from our parking lot- twice), three years ago I was in a tiny downtown Chicago loft, and now I'm in a house in the suburbs. The famous Coach JP was a judge in the brisket competition and Landon ran around enjoying the petting zoo, train rides, snow cones, and bounce houses. There were lawn chairs in the parking lot, coolers of beer, and neighbors who all knew each other. I suppose if we're going to live in the suburbs, we might as well do it up right.

This morning JP is out mowing the lawn. Landon is sitting across from me coloring a picture of Elmo ("Elmo" encompasses all animated characters- I briefly paused the TV on Family Guy the other day and Landon exclaimed "Elmo!!"). I'm mapping out our day (pancakes, Wal-Mart, grocery store) and trying to take control of my work email inbox. I wish we had gmail at work, the archive feature and automatic grouping of email chains would be so helpful in maintaining order.

--- pancake break ---

Now JP is swimming, Landon is napping, and I just finished Falls the Shadow, the excellent sequel to Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman (I'm still working through all of your recommendations). I started it Friday night and my sleep has greatly suffered since- last night I stayed up until nearly 3 a.m. before admitting defeat and crawling in bed. This is why I have to stick with books I've already read, I have no literary self control. Next up is The Reckoning (the third and final book of her Welsh series), then the Time Traveler's Wife, and then Katherine. Books make me so happy.

Landon appears to have recovered from his mysterious fever. It broke around 4 a.m. Friday morning only to come back up to 103 by bedtime that night. Yesterday he was fever free all day and slept his usual 12 hours last night without interruption. I'm so glad our week can get back to normal- we're lucky to be able to rearrange our schedules as needed, but it still resulted in four very late nights for me and one phone call where I may or may not have yelled "I HAVE A JOB" into JP's ear before hanging up. I believe I wanted him to come home from the pool immediately or 30 minutes earlier. But he survived my icy glares of death when he got home and presented me with a beautiful dinner that night. All is well in the Lag Liv house.

I have a post brewing about JP new company and my thoughts on the risk and extraordinary time demands involved but it's not done, so until then, you'll have to make do with this weekend rundown. Happy Sunday to you all!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Healthy on the Inside

I was going to write up a little report card for the mid-year resolutions I wrote so optimistically only three months ago:

  1. Work out twice a week. F
  2. Buy more fresh fruits and vegetables and eat them. B
  3. Make more simple, healthy meals B-
  4. Limit diet cokes to one a day A+
  5. Go to bed before 11:30 if I'm working and 11 if I'm not.C-

So I have a 2.4 health resolution GPA. Could be better, could be worse. The working out thing is really bringing me down. I'd like to say I just can't find the time, but that's not true- it's that I won't. If I really tried I'm sure I could find two free hours a week to be at the gym, but between work, Landon, JP, and my need to spend at least some time sitting unproductively on the couch, I can't seem to make it a priority. Right now I just try to be very active during the day doing all those mini exercise-light activities (taking the stairs, parking far away, sitting as little as possible) that I scoffed when I was a Hard Core Athlete. They help, I think, but I still have big dreams of long walks in the morning with the dogs when the weather dips down below 105. I miss all the walking I used to do in Chicago and didn't realize how much that subtle exercise helped keep me fit.

On Wednesday my office had a Health Fair and I received a confidential "biometric screening" complete with blood cholesterol work up, blood pressure reading, and height and weight check. And I got a 4.0! (my own interpretation of the little chart they filled out for me) My BMI is 20.5 (though I know that is totally inadequate measure of health and fitness since the handy online calculator just informed me that my very lean, muscular husband is overweight). My total cholesterol is quite low, probably due to our eating vegetarian about 3 nights a week and my family's lack of high cholesterol issues (I think, I could be making that up). I've given myself homework on raising my HDL ("healthy cholesterol") levels- they're 48 and the ideal range is greater than 60. And rather than talk with a doctor or any other informed, science-related person, I turned to eHow.com for a cheat sheet.

According the article, the following things will help me raise my HDL levels:

1. Get moving. Regular exercise is an important component to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and aerobic exercise has been shown to increase your HDLs if done for periods of 30 minutes or longer several times a week." Yeah... no; see above. I want to try harder though- if there's any superwoman or superman out there who does fit in exercise with work, family, etc., leave a comment and shame me into doing the same.

2. Avoid high-fat foods, especially those containing trans fats or hydrogenated oils. You'll typically find these oils used in fried foods, as well as many cookies, crackers and chips. French fries and cookies are the two big culinary loves of my life, but I've been working on it. This week I haven't had either one even once and I've found I miss them less each day.

3. Incorporate more monounsaturated oils into your diet. These include foods like olive oil, avocados and whole nut butters. More guacamole, peanut butter on ritz crackers, and bread dipped in olive oil? This almost makes up for the decrease in cookies and french fries.

4. Get more fiber in your diet. Soluble fiber helps to reduce your LDL cholesterol and raises your HDL level as well. You can find soluble fiber in foods like oatmeal, many fruits and vegetables, as well as in whole grains. Already done.

5. Stay away from processed, high-carbohydrate food. Because these foods contain more simple sugars, they may increase your blood sugar and decrease your HDL cholesterol in the process. Check- other than cookies I already did this one too.

6. Prepare to shed a few tears when you add onions to your new HDL-friendly diet. Studies suggest that your HDL may be increased a substantial amount by eating up to a half an onion each day. Really? I don't like onions except when they're grilled on top of my hamburger and I doubt that's an HDL-approved way of adding them to your diet. Plus I'm not sure JP would appreciate it.

7. Raise a glass and toast to your new healthier lifestyle when you consume an occasional glass of red wine. These libations contain antioxidants that have been shown to slow the oxidation of HDL cholesterol, helping it to stay in your system longer. Woo hoo- I have a glass of wine 3-4 nights a week. Maybe this means I shouldn't skip days...

So I'm not sure how much that helped me. I already do a lot of these things, which makes me think exercise would be even more effective if I added it to my routine. Until then, I'm looking forward to ordering extra guacamole at all my favorite Mexican restaurants.

And in other health news, Landon was sent home from daycare on Wednesday with a 102 fever, only two weeks after I remarked that he hadn't been sick once in the past year. I think it's just viral- he has no other symptoms of anything and has been in good spirits. JP and I have been contorting our schedules to be home with him and this has resulted in some very late work-from-home nights for me, which combined with Landon's fevered 3 a.m. awakenings, has made me very tired, a little crabby, and suffering from painful flashbacks of life with an infant. Shudder.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mommy and Daddy's Little Helper


Alternate, More Accurate Title: "Lover of Muffins" because I think he was motivated more by his passion for blueberry muffins than any desire to help, though he likes to do that too.

He always runs to the dryer when it beeps (actually, our dryer sings a little song when it's done, the crush continues) and stands ready to hand me each individual item to fold. He takes his socks over to his sock bin unprompted (we keep a little basket by the door for his socks- it seemed silly to keep them up in his room when we always need them to leave the house) and announces the owner of each item of clothing as I fold them.

He added to his household chore repertoire on Sunday when I found him zooming our mop around the kitchen floor. The dogs were standing by looking anxious but obviously afraid to leave the mini master unsupervised. When I walked in, Landon looked up beaming, and announced "Halp Dada!" I love that he associates his dad with the mop. And the vacuum. We're paving the road to gender equality, one toddler at a time.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Why There's No "In-Law" Tag

I only use about 1% of the blogging fodder and frustration my mother-in-law provides. Part of this is out of respect for JP, though he doesn't actually care. A bigger reason is because it seems unsportsmanlike to talk about them when this blog isn't really anonymous and members of my family read it, while JP's family doesn't know it exists. The third reason is... complicated.

You see, JP has genuine grievances against his mother that I won't raise here because they aren't mine, though I do get worked up on his behalf when I think about major parts of his childhood. I, however, must admit that much of what drives me completely insane about her, comes straight from how much she loves JP and my son. So even though she does things that drive me legitimately crazy, it's coming from a twistedly good place.

For example, we are going to Washington, D.C. to visit my in-laws in about a month. Two weeks ago my mother-in-law called our house SIX times in thirty minutes, without leaving a message, between 6:30 and 7 p.m. She knows I would have just gotten home with a tired, hungry Landon, she knows I was on my own (JP was coaching), and she knows I DO NOT answer the phone before Landon goes to bed at 8. This is my time with him and I do not interrupt it; plus, I'm generally trying to make dinner with a toddler wrapped around one leg, two huge dogs running around the kitchen, and really don't have the time or attention for her 45-minute one-sided ramblings. I've explained this many times and she still calls almost every day at about 7:00. So on that day the phone rings six times, five minutes apart, and on the seventh attempt JP walks in the door to find a screaming Landon and a harried wife yelling at him to answer the phone because it's his mother and someone MUST be on their way to the hospital. So he picks up and she says, "Oh hi, I thought maybe you weren't home! I was thinking about your trip and wondered what kind of wine you want me to buy to have with dinner the first night."

WTF. He asks, are you at the wine store? Do you need to know this now? No, she says, she was just wondering. He mentions the six previous pone calls, the fact we own a message machine, and the crazy time of day and suggests that maybe this could wait until 8 when Landon goes to bed and hangs up.

Clearly, this is irritating and a little crazy. But, I know she wants this to be a good trip and she's been thinking about it and planning for months (JP hasn't been home in 3 years) and she is incapable of compartmentalizing and understanding normal social behaviors. She doesn't know what it is she does that drives people, and especially her son, crazy- it's not intentional. I know this, but oh my god, I was ready to rip someone's head off that night when the phone would not stop ringing.

If I'd had time within in hour of that little episode, I probably would have written about it. But by the time Landon had gone down to bed and I'd had a glass of wine and chatted with JP, I could put it in perspective and remember that she's trying, she really tries, in her own way, and I have an amazing life and wonderful husband-- and she lives 1,500 miles away. She also adores my son (in an almost obsessive, unhealthy way, but still, with love) and she has been a great grandmother to him.

So I don't write about her very much, and when I do, I generally feel guilty about it later. I vent frustration with JP, wine, and a healthy dose of perspective. And more wine. And a calm reflection on the happiness in my life, the wonderful things that are boundaries, and the fact that regardless of the annoying and sometimes very hurtful things my mother-in-law does (her behavior during the nightmare of October 2007 can still make me so angry I want to agree with JP and cut off all contact with them), but she gave me her son (albeit extraordinarily unwillingly) and I will forever be thankful for the gift of him in my life. Or so I remind myself over and over again.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Friday Free Flow

Random thoughts/potential blog posts floating around in my head:

- JP is going out of town for business and is supposed to leave today at noon and get home Sunday around 4. My first thought about my solo Friday night was, "ooooh, I'm going to go to bed SO early!" And then I realized I am old and kind of pathetic. And really tired.

- Landon has learned that he is funny and can make us laugh. He now consciously tries to do so and it is so adorable it makes my heart burst.

- I love my job. Seriously, love it. I work with awesome people who give me glowing feedback. In a world without report cards, I can't describe how nice it is to hear.

- I have gained 7 lbs. since I started working 11 months ago and have decided to limit my cookie/dessert intake to once a day. I'm certain my pants and my heart will appreciate this, even if I do not.

- Along the same lines, since it appears that I simply will not make time to work out, I am going to make time for healthier family dinners. We don't eat badly, but there's room to improve and I'm determined to try harder.

- I'm so glad Jeanine won So You Think You Can Dance. Her contemporary dance with Jason was this year's "Bleeding Love" for me and I announced to JP last night that if I lived in an alternate dance universe, I would marry Jason based purely on this performance. I don't think JP understood.

- Landon is such a delight. I would like to start with baby #2 at about 14 months old and just move on from there. When JP has herding him out the door for daycare this morning Landon broke past his legs to run into our room to blow me kisses and say "bye bye mama!" for the 5th time. I want five of him.

- My secretary has a jar of random, old-fashioned candies on her desk, including atomic fire balls. I'm not sure I actually like fire balls, but they take me back to Fridays in my 4th grade math class and that makes me so happy that I can't stop grabbing them as I walk past her jar. I miss elementary school. And math. And candy on Fridays.

- I've been marinating thoughts on the decorating of our master bedroom since we moved in. I have solid ideas now and they involve this vase. I just need HGTV to come over with their big budget and team of workers to carry them out for me. Until that happens, or until I can convince JP to help me paint another (much bigger) room, I will continue the marinating and wish list making.

That's all for now, back to work!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

For the Baby Book


Two Saturdays ago I had a free two hours, a napping toddler, and a to-do list all checked off. I decided it was time to face the baby book so I got it off the shelf and filled in the last 12 months of Landon's life with pictures, cards, and stars pulled directly from the blog. Without my archvies there's no way I could have filled in the date of his first steps or his weight at 12 months or any of the other little details it seemed so important to record. So in that spirit, here are his 2-year portraits, which took two trips to Picture People, two bags of fruit snack bribes and a very patient photographer to get TWO acceptable looking photos. These are them. There were no other options. At least the picture selecting part of the appointment went quickly.

At his 2-year check-up a few days later, we found out Landon had finally graduated out of the 25th percentile for height! JP and I are both tall, but we have some short family members and I wondered if Landon would take after them in height. I'm not sure his 2-year height matters much for what he'll be as an adult, but it's nice to be tall, especially if you're a guy. In the short-term it means that the days where he seems to subsist on crackers, air, and 3 peas aren't stunting his growth. His weight has always been around the 75th and his head has been in the 90th since his 1 month check-up (which was on his due date, his head was only in the 25th percentile when he was born, thank goodness!)


The Stats:
Height: 35" - 75th percentile
Weight: 30 lbs. - 75th percentile
Head: 50.5 cm - 90th percentile

Monday, August 3, 2009

Clapping for the Choir

On Sundays when we go to church, Landon spends the first 90% of the service in the nursery. He loves their collection of blocks and trucks and seems to enjoy having new baby and toddler friends to play with. After communion, when all that's left of the service is the post-communion song and prayer, the blessing and benediction, and the closing hymn, JP goes to pick up Landon and bring him back to the pew to sit with us.

Yesterday they came in during the song, which thankfully covered up Landon's excited utterances of "chrch! chrch!" as he walked in. He ran over to me with a big smile on his face and then stood and swayed to the music, clapping enthusiastically (but quietly, thank goodness his hands are small, Lutherans don't clap) when it was over. He seemed confused when he saw other people weren't doing the same. After that, he saw everyone bowing their hands to pray, so he did the same, with his little hands clasped in front of him. He clapped after the prayer was over too. Then came the big closing song, with the full band and choir, and Landon stood in awe of the music filling the big room and then put his arms up and danced. He clapped as we walked out at the end and I thought two things: (1) the world is so much more fun when viewed through a child's eyes and (2) there should be more clapping in church. Also, my kid is adorable. I guess that's three things.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Video Clips and Recs

Before I bought my DSLR I assumed I would continue using my little digital camera for the every day stuff and use the new fancy one for holidays or more purposeful photo taking. As it turns out, I haven't used my old Casio since my Nikon D40 arrived in the mail. This is great because I love my D40 and it takes amazing pictures (and is surprisingly light and portable), but I do miss the video capabilities on my little pocket camera. At this age Landon is so active and so funny that I want to capture his movement and speaking more than a still snapshot.

We had a Canon ZR800 before he was born, but as you can see from the clips below, the quality is less than impressive. Even worse than that, transferring the video to my computer is a pain and it takes two programs just to edit and save the clips and then burn them to a DVD (I hate Windows Movie Maker, or I think I hate it, I definitely can't figure out how to make this all work as easily as I'm sure it should. I'm not doing anything fancy- just cutting out parts of the clips I don't want).

So I ask you, my techno-savvy readers- what do you use for capturing video clips? I'm intrigued by the Flip Video products, especially the Ultra HD, but I'm concerned about shakiness in the video (how's that for a technical term). I'd basically be chasing around after Landon and with a device that small it seems like there's often stabilization issues. I could be swayed to go with a digital camera/video combo again, so if anyone has recommendations for one with great video that takes decent pictures, let me know. I'd like to stay under $300, with bonus points for staying well under it. I'd also like something with pretty good quality - these will be our only video from this time in our lives and I'll be burning them to DVDs to save. I understand I won't be getting big screen TV/DVD perfection, I just want them to be fairly clear and bright.



I'm so glad that we got some of his super fast crawling on video too - I think that's our only clip other than a few of his first successful attempts back in May. And below is a clip (Finally!) of his dance moves. The quality is kind of awful and so is the lighting since he prefers to dance in front of the window in the playroom, but at least you get some idea of his skills. He's wearing a swim cap that he picked up on a recent trip to Lane 4 Swim Shops in Austin. He saw the bin and got very excited about the "hats! Mama HATS!" and ran to try to put one on. The owner loved him and sent us home with one in our bag for free- since then Landon asks us to put it on him at least once a day. I swear we're not actually trying to turn him into a swimmer it just seems to be in his blood.



Let me know your recommendations -- good quality, easy to export and share (this is key, I'm good with picture transferring and editing, and apparently suck with video clips), and not so expensive I have to make myself wait until Christmas to buy it!