Sunday, November 30, 2008

Our Big Little Girls

I find myself playing "How Big is Eleri" lately (appropriate, given the weight scare and subsequent binge eating we've been happy to encourage); and so we have another installment in the "How Fast It Goes" chronicles.

They just keep hitting milestones. Eleri gave rice cereal a try for the first time.
She's not convinced.

Clio can turn faucets on by herself. And off. And on and off and on and off. I missed the shot, but to get the water going in Jim and Missy's guest bath, she actually had to lean into the sink and let her feet dangle above the stepstool. (And I finally got her into some warm pajamas- blanket sleepers have been outlawed, but these polar fleece separates are almost as warm- and so grown up.)

Eleri, too, is getting some action, checking out the exersaucer to develop core strength and motor skills.

And Clio demonstrates How Big She Is.

Very big indeed.

The Penchant for Pink Continues

The second photo is an outtake from a post from last October, which you can see here.

It's hard to say if Clio really loves pink, or if it's more that she just happens to have a lot of it, between Lucia's hand-me-downs, gifts from my mother, and some of my own choices, making the odds go way up that she might end up in pink from head to toe.

That said, I took her to Old Navy last weekend to pick out a winter hat and mittens. She happened to be dressed in all pink that day, too, and chose a two-tone pink polar fleece hat set. Now, it's true that I tend to be influenced by my own outfit when I shop, picking things that coordinate with what I'm already wearing; but I couldn't even get her to LOOK at the orange and green striped hat that I favored (in fact, she threw it on the ground). In the end, I enabled her pink habit by getting not only her choice of hat, but the pink fair isle version seen above as well.

Giving Thanks

Tonight, after getting dinner on the table and Eleri to bed, I ran out to the car to retrieve a bottle of wine that Dave left behind after his return from Costco. It was raining, and Dave insisted I put his gortex jacket on over my own wool one (plus some velour "inside pants" and rain shoes- hot stuff); the sleeves are about a foot too long, and as I flopped the visored hood up over my head, I jokingly asked, "how do I look?"

Clio turned around from the table and said, "Mommy, you look beautiful."

Dave took this picture today, and when I looked at it in the camera viewfinder, I said I looked funny; I didn't recognize myself.

"Maybe because your smiling," Dave said, "we haven't seen that in a while." I wish I could say he was kidding.

This refreshed Mommy is a result of the reprieve I received over the weekend. My office was closed on Wednesday, and while I did go in for a while, it was on my own time, and I had the place to myself. I also saw my Doctor for a long-overdue physical. Had lunch with a friend. Shopped (picture of me in my fabulous birthday present to myself, coming soon). Met with students about their final projects. It was a pretty low key day. And on Thursday, we continued what has been my primary Thanksgiving tradition since my freshman year at Vassar, fifteen years ago, and went out to Jim and Missy's.
Because it was a perfectly laid back weekend, in which I did very little at all (but was subject to the most fabulous full-body massage on earth, thanks to Jim and Missy's masseuse), there's not much to report, and not many pictures to share. The big news is that when I returned to Brooklyn last night, refreshed, I felt that I had gained a little perspective, and found myself ready for this last stretch of "doing it all" before the holiday break. And for that, I am thankful.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Clio is Thankful for presents; especially holiday packages from Nonny and Papa. This one happened to have many wonderful stickers (the ones above have a Thanksgiving theme) and a color-your-own T-shirt featuring Dora and Boots, as well as some great outfits for the girls.

This photo does nothing to capture how Clio actually felt about the shirt. In fact, she took it off a few minutes ago, stating "I'm going to color Dora and Boots AGAIN." In fact, she colored the back of the shirt.

Thanks, Nonny!

Monday, November 24, 2008

I'd Rather Be:

I'm a big procrastinator. It's true. Right now I'm supposed to be doing about 5 different things that I'm really way too tired to take on. So I'm looking for other things to do while sitting at the computer--ultimately making it worse because I'm not going to get any less tired--like post to the blog. If you look at the post log to the right, you'll see I'm hitting a record this month. You would think the most posts per month would fall in a month where I have nothing better to do. You would be wrong.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Apple does not fall far from the Tree

For those of you who may not have known me as a child, or even in my days of Halloween and theme- or costume-party frenzy, let's put it this way: our neighbors used to tell my mom how "impressed" they were that she let me leave the house in some of my getups, and I STILL get birthday cards about having a crazy fashion sense.

I've grown it up a lot, but I must say, I'm kind of pleased to have passed it along. And just for the record, I neither purchased most of these fabulous items (the hat and tutu/princess dress were both gifts, and the gold satin coat was a daddy special), nor encouraged their combination.

When you've got it, you've got it.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

What Clio's Been Up To

Wearing our shoes

Playing dress up

Building towers

Taking bites out of whole fruit (And leaving them around the house)

Finding new places to hide.

And helping. She really, really loves to help. The trick is always finding things she can do that are actually helpful!

Report Cards

Things have been all about me, me, me lately; we now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

We had our very first parent-teacher conference two Mondays ago; because I went directly from there to Eleri's doctor's appointment that led to the hospital and so forth, it got all but forgotten during the week. I remember conferences with some mix of pride and anxiety; at my particular Montessori school, children were actually invited to participate in the conference, and I always felt a particular dread in anticipating them: while it was embarrassing to be discussed with your two main frames of authority both present, it was sort of delightful to have them all agree about how wonderful you were. (I was a good student.)

It's funny, planning for Clio's conference, I realize in hindsight that I made it about me, too: because we are one of the few two-career households in the class, and because we are less conveniently located to the school than anyone else, and because we don't have hired help (a Nanny) or family help, I have felt, quite self-consciously, like we are "those parents," you know, the absolute disasters who can't quite get it together. It seemed like we were always sending Clio to school with a green snotty nose or dirty socks. In the early days, I had a very hard time judging how long it would take to drive the 4 or 5 miles to school; because of the rivers of traffic and the actual canal we needed to cross, one day it would take 12 minutes, the next day 43, making us very erratic in our arrival time. Being late for drop off is one thing; then we had the babysitter incident, where the girl we hired to pick Clio up on Thursdays showed up 30 minutes late (and didn't call me), so Clio's teachers were left to entertain her after the rest of the class left.

Plus, Clio was the child with the greatest separation anxiety. I still believe that this had to do with some confusion over the nature of school: in Clio's world, you get dropped off for the whole day with a bunch of kids (day care), or you go do an activity with your parents and a bunch of kids for an hour or two (swimming, Music Together, playdates), and because the phase-in involved very short days with me sticking around the school, I think Clio simply placed it in this second category. Plus, I was on maternity leave and I think Clio would just have prefered to hang out with me. Once we straightened out the fact that Mommy's don't go to school, she was fine, and never looked back.

At any rate, I was bringing my own brand of crazy into that conference, waiting for the big judgement. I truly expected a lecture on the importance of being on time (I know!) and the impact of broken routines on toddlers (I know!).

This is weird on a couple of levels. First, it turns out that I'm the grown up in this situation, and that, in a way, the teachers "work for me." Well, really for Clio. Second, as a teacher myself for the first time, I have realized that so many of the little things we stress about as students really don't matter. One of my students asked me if I wanted footnotes or endnotes in her term paper; my answer? I don't care. Others have given me frantic excuses for being late or missing a class altogether (attendance and participation are factors in their grades); you know what? I don't care about that either. Because this is a Master's program, these are adults, and sometimes in life, things happen. We are late. We have to make choices. And what I really care about is that people show up because they're interested in what we're talking about. That they do the reading because they find it engaging. And that they participate because school is one of the safest testing grounds for your ideas, and not taking advantage of that space is a lost opportunity.

So of course, Clio's conference was about her. And because she's actually doing very well there, no one had a lot to say. They told us that Clio really uses the whole room. That she has bonded with a little girl named Haley. That she's really into snack (no kidding.) And that they're really impressed by how competent she is, especially as the youngest in the class. They said it's clear she's been socialized (i.e. a day care kid) because she really knows how to negotiate the social landscape, even asking kids if she may play with them; they say this is a skill they can only hope for by the END of the year.

They asked if we had any questions. I wondered if she was testing limits with them. She's not. They hope she doesn't start. They clearly have a fondness for our big little girl that makes me proud. And I left there feeling relieved and, yes, a little crazy. For having worried so much.

This week, Eleri got a report card of her own. At her 2 month checkup, we talked to our Dr. about Eleri's tendency to look only to the left when lying down, and her droopy neck when being held up. We got in touch with the State's Early Intervention program, and after a drawn-out coordination process, we finally had the evaluation this week. A physical therapist, cognitive development specialist, and social worker all arrived at the house in a minivan, and filed in iwith clipboards, wearing scrubs. They had me put Eleri on a blanket and ran her through a number of exercises. They said that sometimes big babies, especially born at full term or late, are slower to develop certain motor skills because they had so little space to move in there, but that she's right where she should be for 4 months. She smiled and laughed and charmed the pants off of them all. We'll get a full written report in several weeks, but for now, they say she's a beautiful, healthy little baby, and they recommend that the case be closed.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Why didn't I see this one coming?

Now Eleri is throwing up.

Between my bed rest and all these kid sick days, I'm pretty sure I'm out of time off this year, despite having taken nothing resembling a vacation.

Have I mentioned that Clio often asks, "Mommy, why you say [sigh]?"


Thursday, November 20, 2008

One step forward, two steps back

This morning, when I got Clio from school to day care, she promptly threw up all over her shoes. Apparently there's a stomach bug going around.

I'm feeling a little queasy myself.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A moment of appreciation for my husband

On the train home tonight, I over heard a woman call her husband as we went over the bridge. Listening to her side of their conversation, I was struck by how lucky I am to have a renaissance man like Dave around. It went something like this:

"I'm running late for my appointment, so here's what I need you to do:
Go to the cabinet and take out a pot.

The stainless steel one.

Right. Put some water in it.
Then, about 25 minutes before I get home, turn on the stove.

Yes, put it on low so it just boils when I get home.

We'll have pasta!"

Dave knows how to boil water. He does not need instructions about how to make pasta. He can (and will) make a much more complex meal on his own, without prompting. In fact, he's quite a wizard in the kitchen. And he does dishes!

Come to think of it... I wonder if she was talking to a child?

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Clio has been pretty into stickers lately.

True, she's not great at peeling them off the sheet; true, she doesn't fully understand that there's a limited lifespan to the actual stickiness if you continually un-stick and re-stick them to new spots; and true, she thinks the best "spots" are either on your skin or piled on top of one another in a coloring book, creating something of a sticker hog-pile.

Nonetheless, she is thrilled by any gift of stickers, whether chosen from a plastic apple at the Doctor's office or peeled from the opening in a new wipes container; and she was particularly pleased this weekend to get some wacky cat stickers in the mail from Grandma.

Here she is, displaying her wares on tow occasions (we've been doling them out to streeeetch the fun as many days as possible).

And here again, pointing out the sticker that I was honored to have bestowed upon me (before her bath; after her bath my shirt wore ALL the stickers since even Clio seemed to get that stickers don't belong in the tub and therefore allowed me to take them off her hands.)

I imagine a few of you are thinking "Dibs" for Christmas. Guess what? If she's still interested in stickers 6 weeks down the road, I'm sure she'll still be interested in AS MANY AS SHE CAN POSSIBLY GET HER HANDS ON (and get on her hands.) So have at it.


So, I made it through the week.
The Strategic Plan made it to Anne late, but still in enough time for her to get it done and out to the staff ahead of schedule.
I brought the wrong presentation to City College, but we still had plenty to talk about (it was a great group of students); plus I had never been to the campus and I always love alighting from a subway station to a specific place I have never encountered.
It felt like Dave and I were absent from work more than we were present, but we haven't been fired.
While Eleri does not really sound any better, a follow-up with the Doctor on Friday shows that she's at least gaining weight (at the Dr's suggestion, we started supplementing with formula, which seems to be working), and as far as the bronchiolitis, I guess it has to run it's course, which can take weeks. We'll try her back at day care tomorrow and see how it goes.
Dave and I even got out of the house last night, thanks to an unclaimed babysitting swap from about a year back. We went to dinner with Marni and Matt and then to see Zack and Miri Make a Porno. We chose this movie not so much because it was anyone's first choice, but because Slumdog Millionaire was sold out for our desired showtime and Zack and Miri was both late enough that we could make it from dinner, and early enough and short enough that we could make it home at a decent hour (plus right around the corner from the subway.) Dave and I laughed harder than anyone else in the theater, leading me to believe that either our sense of humor has melded over the past 6 or so years together, or we were the only ones there in such desperate need of a little levity. Either way, the little break was much appreciated.
Today we were back to it, meal planning and grocery shopping and braving the crowds at Ikea because we only had one sheet for Clio's bed and lately if one of the girls is not soaking through her bed, then the other one is. Does the glory never end?

Friday, November 14, 2008


Recently we have noticed that Clio is really warming up to Eleri. In the beginning there, it seemed like she was just tolerating her little sister, and struggling with the impact she had on her formerly only-child world. Now, it's true that Clio has always behaved positively towards Eleri herself; she took her frustration out in other ways (i.e. at me and Dave). Despite these overt tendencies of tolerance, Clio did have the tendency to occasionally shake Eleri's arm just a touch too hard or hold her head just slightly more firmly than I might recommend, and she definitely believes that "sharing" goes in one direction only (upstream to the Big Sibling.) But ever since Eleri started cracking up and just about everything Clio does, the tide has been turning.

Tonight, I had one strapped into a high chair and the other buckled in a bouncy seat, and made a mad dash downstairs to get a crib sheet out of the dryer for the impending bedtime. Upstairs, I heard Clio say, "It's okay Eleri, Mommy will be right back." Then she called out, "mom-my" in a sing-song, and when I responded "yes, Clio?" from the basement she sort of gasped and said, "Eleri! She can hear us!"

It was the first time I've seen (or rather, heard) Clio address Eleri directly, as a person. And not just a person, but a comrade. Dave and I do not know from sisters, having thre bothers between us, but most of my best friends over the years have had very intense sister relationships, and it seems to me that this is the beginning of it all: the passion, the drama, the competition, the up-all-night sleepovers, the joy, the pain, the love.

I'm terrified.

I can't wait.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The blind leading the blind

Walking home from day care tonight, Clio asked if there were any clouds, I said there were, but explained that it was too dark to really see them. She stopped, looked up, and said, "we have to turn on the light to see the clouds?"

And then I tried to explain why we can't "turn on" the sun.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pity Party's Over (with apologies for the indulgence)

Nothing like a full day at the hospital to get back on track.

I mean this sarcastically, of course; losing several work hours yesterday and all of them today did not do much for working out my schedule stress and deadline issues.
But I also mean it earnestly, and I'll tell you why. (Everyone is fine, by the way.)

Much of the trouble yesterday had as much to do with the lost time and the logistics of making a return trip to the Doctor as it did with the emotional impact of a sick child; however busy or stressed you are, that's just out of whack. Even at the Doctor's office last night, I asked point blank how many visits we might be expected to make this week, and expressed concern for the amount of time Dave and I have both been out of the office because of the kids lately. Our Doctor looked at me a little strangely, even (or especially) when I said something along the lines of "I mean, of course we'll do everything we need to do; I just need to wrap my head around the
schedule." Similarly, this morning when Eleri's breathing continued to retract and the Dr. instructed me to go to the emergency room to get her chest x-rayed, I quibbled a bit over the trip into Manhattan, etc.

But somehow, at the hospital, something a little bit wonderful happened: I got to spend the entire day with my baby. No email, no phones, no TV, no distractions. Just me and Eleri in a private little room in the ER, hanging out. (Despite the labored breathing she was as happy as can be; I think she was equally delighted to get a full day with just her mom. She made a ton of friends, and I've never heard such fawning about how cute she is, or what a good baby.)

And so I remembered that kids are not in our lives to make it more difficult ("The World Is Testing Me (And I'm getting a failing grade)"); I remembered that it doesn't matter if you're parenting as well as any other parent, so long as you're parenting well enough for your kids ("Keeping Up With The ...."); and I remembered that our schedules are crazy because we want to do everything possible to make our world a good place for our kids to be.

Tomorrow, when I can't deliver the strategic plan that is due and I haven't done the readings for the class I'm teaching, I will undoubtedly begin to panic once again. (I notice I'm holding by breath again just thinking about it.) But that's okay. I knew that this fall was going to be one of the hardest periods of my life, and that when I come out on the other side I will be glad to have done it all. I know it is not sustainable, and in a few weeks or months I'll have to make some decisions. For now, the holidays loom large, and they'll be here before you know it. And we'll all breathe it in.

Welcome to my Pity Party (Another installment in the On being a working mom Series)

I'm up in the middle of the night to pump and can't seem to get back to sleep (which I will regret tomorrow). To give some context to the last two posts (and likely future ones), I think I need to offer some background. I'm not sure why I expect people to feel bad for me- many, many people have much, much harder lives. And I'm not exactly sure why I think that people feeling bad for me will make me feel better (it usually makes me feel worse), but that seems to be the brain space I'm in.

So you get a sense of what I'm dealing with, here's how my typical week unfolds:

Monday and Tuesday, get the girls to Day Care and work a normal day. Pump twice at work. Hold bi-weekly departmental meetings with my teams and monthly departmental strategy meetings. Tuesday night, do readings and prepare notes for class on Wednesday.

Wednesday, get the girls to Day Care and start the work day early with staff meeting, which I run. Work until 3:30, then prepare files (paper and electronic) for Thursday morning. Run to NYU for class. Pump at least once, preferably twice. After class, field questions from students, thereby putting me home too late to feed Eleri before bed. Pump some more.

Thursday and Friday, drive Clio to school, punch the meter, set up shop at Starbucks and work remotely for two hours. Punch the meter, walk or drive the few blocks to school, drive Clio to day care, feed Eleri in the back room, re-park the car, grab some leftovers, and take the subway into the city to work for 4 hours. Pump once.

That's just the basic, and obviously doesn't include things like actual work at work, meal planning, cooking, doing dishes, blogging, corresponding with friends and family, laundry, grocery shopping, time with the kids, etc. at home.

This week, let's add a few specifics on top:
Monday, parent-teacher conference for Clio; 4-month check up for Eleri. On the way from one to the other, the fuel light comes on in the car. At the Doctor's office, 1 1/2 hours turns out not to be enough on the meter, so in the middle of the appointment, re-dress Eleri, take her outside, punch the meter, return. Head to the pharmacy, punch the meter. An hour wait for saline at the pharmacy means drive to day care, pick up Clio, stop to get gas, head back to the pharmacy; search for 10 minutes for a quarter for the meter (roll of quarters begged from a bank I don't belong to was apparently stolen out of the car when I left it unlocked in the school pick up craziness); head home to feed Clio a late dinner and nebulize, nebulize Eleri. Pump.

Tuesday, back to the Doctor. New prescription for me: directly after feeding Eleri, pump and feed THAT to her, too. Doctor visits may be daily this week. Work from home on Strategic Plan, due back to Anne on Wednesday. Field last minute questions from students, whose papers are due Wednesday. Pump, pump, pump.

Wednesday, input to Strategic Plan draft due. Between staff meeting and class, head out of the office to meet with prospective web redesigners. Receive student papers (23 students x 15 pages of critical theory each = shoot me now.) Who has time to pump?

Thursday, pull together images for lecture for Friday.
Finalize changes to group health care plan (benefits manager only in on Thursdays, and we're just under the wire for renewal deadline).

Friday, head way uptown to City College to give a lecture to a class of undergrads; get back to Brooklyn in time to pick up Clio at school. Take the subway or bus back to Day Care.

Hmmmm..... somehow, stripping the week down without all the details and little things that inevitably go wrong (and without my actual to-do lists layered over the top) makes it seem like this should be doable after all.
I guess if I could just figure out how to strip the stress and emotion out of it when I'm actually doing it, I'd be way better off. But to do that, I might need to get a little more sleep. And then, when would I pump?

Monday, November 10, 2008

On breathing easy

This post should have been titled "Eleri Ruth, 4 months old," followed by her vital stats and a little something about her milestones over the past month (rolling over, grasping with both hands, knocking two items together, pushing up on her arms, laughing, laughing, laughing). But because Eleri's vital stats were out of wack, we find ourselves becoming intimate with our new friend Mister Nebulizer.

(It only occurs to me now that this is not intended to be read as Mr. Nebulizer, but instead a nebulizer which mists. It's much funnier the other way.)

At this age, babies still tend to gain about a half an ounce a day; over the past month, Eleri has in fact lost a tiny bit of weight, and while she is certainly a healthy-sized kid,
it is concerning that she is not continuing on the natural upward trajectory. The Dr. and I spent quite a while speculating that perhaps the measurements were off last time, that she had just eaten then while today she was due for her lunch, that different nurses have different measuring styles (a theory that was aided by the fact that Eleri's head also supposedly lost 2 centimeters circumference.) I was even marveling at the fact that the inability to put on weight was simply a trait that Eleri may have inherited from her father's side of the family (finally, a clear genetic link to the Petersons!)

But then the Doctor noticed that Eleri's chest and belly were doing a very dramatic dance as she breathed, and that, in fact, she seemed to be panting (though she
continued to smile and coo and act altogether unperturbed by this nuisance.) I had noticed a similar scenario when I got her dressed in the morning, but somehow attributed it to her newfound love of arching her back and looking up over her head while lying down, and did not connect it to the cold she's had forever. One of the practice's most senior Doctors was consulted, and after they had a private chat behind closed doors, our Doctor returned with Mr. Nebulizer. (seen here at our home, later.)
The stomach-and-chest-dance is apparently evidence that Eleri is using muscles to breathe that, strictly speaking, exist for other purposes; they believe that, in reaction to her severe congestion, she has been working so hard to breathe that she's burning many extra calories, leading to the slight weight loss. To correct the problem, Eleri needs to breathe easier.

A short aside. This morning, when I came in to work my boss and several colleagues were sitting in the entryway, welcoming our newest employee on her first day. Anne
asked if I had a good weekend; after I confessed that I had throw out my back, and after the general groans subsided, Anne again gave me her favorite bit of advice: to breathe. This is a popular line in cheesy romantic movies and ballads (Just breathe), but in fact it is also sage advice; Anne often catches me holding my breath when I had no idea I was doing so. The masseuse who helped release the tension in my back yesterday also touched on this, suggesting that I find time to return to yoga, where you use your breath to invade the war zones in both your body and your mind.

So Eleri and I sat together in the pediatrician's office breathing in vaporized sterile water. Eleri actually liked this, and talked all the while. I found that time got a little warped between the sound of the machine and the anesthetizing effects of the vapor. Eventually we were sent out into the world with our very own Mister Nebulizer, and a prescription for little tubes of
saline. At home, Eleri got nebulized twice more, once to happy effect

and once straight to sleepytime.

Clio wanted to try it out but was denied. (I'll admit I tested it- the vapor is cold and smells funny- and it's unclear why it seems to have such a druglike effect; it's just water, after all).
Tomorrow morning she gets another dose, then we return to the Doctor and hope to find her on the mend.

As for me? I'm afraid it's more complicated.

For now I am still breathing.

Just barely.

On Blogging

On days like today, when things are a touch overwhelming and it feels impossible to take care of even the basics, I find myself organizing the chaos of my life into hypothetical blog posts, with titles that help me name my anxiety. Writing has always made things real for me, and helped me to process my world, so it's no surprise that this space functions as a sort of journal, where I work out my issues... albeit publicly.

I've got lots on my mind, and as my day spun out of control, the titles that came to me went a little something like this:

The World Is Testing Me (And I'm Getting a Failing Grade)
On Being a Disaster
On Murphy's Law (The First Law of Parenthood)
Hurricane Parenthood
Keeping up Appearances
Keeping up with the Joneses
We are Those Parents, You Know the Ones

And so on.

You getting the picture?

Clio's New Favorite Thing

"Spicy Water"



She likes to drink it, sure, but what really makes it a favorite is how fun it is to try to catch the bubbles in the glass.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

I've been feeling a little emotional about this election.

This morning, I took the girls with me to the polls. We had seen coverage on NY1 of our old neighborhood, where the line to get in to vote went out of the school and around the block (seeing this, my eyes welled up); as we vote in the school just down the street, Dave poked his head out and declared no around-the-block lines, so I figured I could just slip in and out, and give our kids their first dose of democracy in action.

When we walked in, the volunteer manning the front table said, "Look, it's the future!" and referred to Clio as a presidential hopeful circa 2050 or so- of course she doesn't know what that means, but I felt like we all kind of liked hearing it.

In the end, Clio was not thrilled about the crowds and we didn't stay (I'll go back and vote after work), but I felt not just a little thrilled by this notion of the future. Whatever happens today, we are light-years closer to realizing the notion that anyone can be president, and despite my general lack of political engagement, today I feel hopeful that my girls might grow up believing that America does indeed have the best political system in the world, and that their country works for them, as much (or as little) as anyone else.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

NYC Marathon

As you may have learned around this time last year, the New York City Marathon goes right through our neighborhood at mile 5, about half a block away from our house. Clio got pretty excited to "watch the runners," and got all dolled up in some warm clothes for a little intensive bystanding. (Dave tells me that her friend Isabella recently went to some event involving models, where she learned to pose and walk the catwalk; she passed this knowledge along to a very eager Clio, who is demonstrating her new skills here.)

Last year we watched as many, many runners took a pit stop at our corner Hess, relieving themselves in the bushes we walk by every single day. This year, our corner came just
before the Gatorade station. Product placement alert! Check out all the ING ponchos, and the 8 gazillion Gatorade cups all over the street. (I would be afraid, very afraid, to run through this.)

We met up with our friends Emily and Ben, and their boy Abe, who joined Clio in a little marathon of their own. At first it appeared that this telephone was the relay point,
but soon they were off and running.... and running... and here's Dave running after them.

Successfully corralled.

How old do you have to be to enter the marathon lottery?

The Mommy Workout

I often stop and think how much I like the physical side of parenting. I think this even when the paraphernalia of two kids (not to mention the two kids themselves) are weighing on me: I remember the first time I actualized the thought, I was walking home from the playground with Eleri in the baby bjorn on my front; Clio had fallen off her tricycle so I picked her up on my left (a purse or diaper bag was on my right) and pushed the tricycle with my "free" hand. It was hard, but it felt good.

I've never been an athlete; I was more of a reader from a young age, and didn't play on neighborhood league teams or compete in after-school sports. While I did dance through elementary and middle school, the
classes were once a week, the performance once a year- more of an artistic hobby than the physical undertaking of, say, serious ballet training. Junior year in high school, I became a cheerleader, and Senior year I became the captain; my favorite part of the whole thing was being a "base" for stunts, literally holding up the smallest girls, tossing them in the air, and being there to catch them when they came back down to earth. After high school I returned to my more intellectual roots, and spent years feeling detached from my body.

Until I found myself (surprise!) pregnant with Clio. It's nearly impossible to be detached from your physical self when pregnant, and for the most part I reveled in it, despite all the drawbacks (oh, the edema! oh, the bedrest!). Thinking of my body as a temple for the first time (easier for me when someone else was there to worship), I went to yoga regularly, ate better than ever in my life (a colleague used to say I was eating a hunter-gathered diet of "nuts and berries" because of the regular stash of
almonds and dried apricots I kept from the local organic market), and marveled at the physical feat that women's bodies are built to accomplish.

My body finally became useful.
And with kids, so it remains. I take satisfaction in all of it: nursing, changing, carrying, burping, bathing, all the things they need us to do for them until they can do for themselves. I like falling into bed at night exhausted from doing so much tangible work.

There are some pleasant side effects too. 2 weeks after Clio was born, I weighed less than on my wedding day, and by the time she was 6 months old I was down to a weight last seen in Junior High. Even without making it to the gym, and even though I'm actually finding time to feed myself (plenty) this time around, there's just so much to do on a daily basis that burns
calories, and lots of 'em. I've been thinking about this for a while, and then this morning I found myself in a situation that sort of literalized the concept of the mommy workout.

As we know, breastfeeding burns about 500 calories a day. Add to this the toddler leg lifts, and I'm sure I burned off the pancake breakfast, hot dog lunch, and extra-steak dinner. Right?

Ribbon Head

Every time my dad opens a package, going back as far as I can remember, he feels compelled to tie the ribbon around his head.

Guess what? There's seemingly no end to the things that might be genetic.

Daylight Savings

With the time change, I was a little concerned how the girls might react. I needn't have worried. Can you guess which one of us slept for 16 hours, and which one slept, well, a little less?

Things We Didn't Know Clio Knew


Yesterday at lunch Clio tapped her glass against Dave's and said, "Cheers!"

Last weekend in Manhattan Clio went up to a placard on the street in front of a design store, and read out the letters "D-E-S-I-R-O-N" which is in fact the name of the store.

Last night she was choosing a barette, and after saying she'd like orange, she reconsidered: "Actually, I'd like the pink one."

A few weeks ago at the local playground I was hanging out with a Mexican woman while her son and Clio took turns on the slide; after a while, she turned to me and said, "She speaks Spanish?" and I said something about Clio's daycare and how we weren't sure how much she knew. The woman said, "well, she just told me she was going to go down the slide again."