Thursday, February 25, 2010


So, tomorrow I get on a plane and head south for my first-ever business trip. I have been low-level stressing about this for months, high-level stressing for a few weeks, but at this point I'm just sort of fatalistically resigned slash excited. I mean, I am excited. New city, new people, new hotel, et cetera. I am also sort of mourning all of my disrupted habits in advance--I am a person who thrives on routine, and I can't stop trying to figure out how I'm going to go running every day, or get the breakfast foods I like, or read every night like I'm accustomed to. A lot of my nervousness has to do with the sheer number of new things I will need to accomplish in the next few days, from hiring a cab at the new city's airport to dealing with bellhops (how much to tip? can I just grab my own bag and go?).

Hubs ribbed me gently when I did half my packing this past weekend; I pointed out that the last time we did a big family trip by airplane I broke out in hives. At least I don't have hives, people. Not yet.

That said, I am sort of ridiculously pleased when I casually mention that I'm traveling for work. It seems like a very grownup, real-job thing to do, and while I've never really envied business travelers (and maybe even grumped that if companies didn't see the need to send their employees buzzing all over the globe, maybe we wouldn't have so many CARBON PROBLEMS), I'm still thrilled to experience the fabled Business Trip. Also the fabled Expense Account, which I sort of can't imagine myself using.

So. I'll be gone for a week. Ya'll enjoy yourselves while I'm gone.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Favorites

Well, I suppose I COULD write a post about the joys of not posting...but, it's snowing, I've been browsing through seed catalogs, and I'm instead going to write about my favorite things about buying seeds in the dead of winter.

1. The pictures. Even though the pictures of oversized peas, tomatoes, squash and spinach glistening and bursting out of the page are practically cliche, and are in most cases the exact same photos that were in the catalog last year, and besides OBVIOUSLY consist of the rankest type of food porn--I love them. My mouth waters. My mental kitchen fills to the brim with luscious vegetables--piles of tomatoes, bowls full of peas, shelled and unshelled, bouquets of cilantro and basil. I imagine stepping out to the garden and loading my arms with piles of flowers and vegetables. I start to think I need stripey eggplant and golden cucumber, even though my summer garden barely has room for the basics (tomato, basil, and zucchini), even though I don't actually LIKE eggplant all that much. I start to think that all of this bounty will be in season at the same time, just like in the catalog (I even think that I'll actually be able to use fresh tomatoes and fresh cilantro at the same time and make a decent homegrown salsa! hahahaha!). I start to go a little crazy, in other words. I love going crazy.

2. The plans. This time every year I get out the measuring tape, march out into the snowy, muddy yard, and start planning my garden beds. In my wake drift thousands of scraps of paper, all with indecipherable sketches of the backyard. Inexplicably, I am loathe to throw any of these scraps away, and tend to gather them up and stuff them into files. They're VALUABLE, man.

3. The kids. Sporadically they like gardening, and I try to encourage this as much as possible by letting each of them choose something out of the catalog (retail: the shortest way to a child's heart. Alas.) This year they pooled their resources and decided to buy an herb garden "kit"--this is one of those products that consists of about five seeds, a couple of plans, and a really nice photo, and costs eight times as much as the seeds by themselves. I kept my comments to myself, though (except to ask "Oh--do you EAT herbs?").

4. The wait. Right now the garden is all anticipation--and as much as I do love planting seeds, enriching beds, staking tomatoes, and all the other puttery chores that come with it, anticipation has the value of not actually taking any time (except of the time-wasting variety), and also not any disappointment (why in the Sam Hill didn't any of these seeds SPROUT?)

Monday, February 8, 2010

For every 2-foot tall ski demon you see shooting down the mountain

at least twenty other under-13s are either whining or weeping about having to be here at all.

That's what I told myself, anyway, as for the third time that morning I took Helen by the unmittened hand (we brought the Wrong Gloves, the ones to which frostbite is preferable) and led her away from the baby-bunny slope ("I want to go hooooome," cried one small person as we trudged by), through the outdoor lunch tables at the lodge ("My booooots huuuurt," wept someone else), past the basement lockers ("I don't WAAAANT to skiiii"), and into the bathrooms ("WAAAAAAH"). Which made my own temporarily non-weeping child seem positively ski-demonish by comparison. Granted, she did very little skiing, and what she did involved holding a non-skiied grownup's hand at all times--but still! She wasn't crying! Most of the time!

Overall, though, our ski weekend went pretty well. Silas and his cousin actually went on the lift several times in a row, and for the first time since Si started going on the lift I wasn't terrified the whole time. It was even...kind of fun, skiing with him. He skied rakkishly under signs, between trees, and up and down those little pathways alongside the catwalk. I can see that soon I will be terrified by his skiing in a totally new way--the way we sort of signed on for, when we first started teaching him to ski.

I can hardly wait.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday Favorites

I like February. I really do. It's lighter and usually warmer. It has Valentine's Day, which I don't actually like, but which makes for a pleasant flurry of bright-red and chocolate-flavored activity in the middle of the month. By the end of the month early finches and crocuses start pushing their way in, reminding me that winter isn't going to last forever.

Which is so, so good, because February is right about when I start to feel like this season is going to last forfuckingever [note: spellcheck suggested "bloodsucking" here. YES.]. I am ALWAYS going to be dragging myself out of bed in the pitch black dark, stumbling through the house as I pull on my coat and gloves and running shoes, shivering as I step out into the night to run. I am always going to be coming home as the last light fades from the sky and the kids start to cannibalize each other as I assemble the ingredients for dinner. If I need to dash out to the library or the store after dinner, it's always going to be in the icy dark. The back yard will always be sealed under a glacier of ice studded with summer detritus (melted jackolanterns, plastic shovels, matchbox cars).

So. A little post about my favorite things about coming home late in the dark, shall we?

1. The neighborhood looks so cozy as I pull into it at 5:30, with its blue-black streets and its rows of yellow windows.
2. The house itself feels cozy, as we pull the drapes closed and turn on the lights. It feels like the phrase "coming home."
3. If I've managed to get something going in the crock pot (ok, so far this has happened ONCE), it smells like the most delicious dinner EVER and I am so grateful--to crockpots, to my morning self who so thoughtfully set this up, to dinner.
4. If we decide fuckit, we're going out to eat, this feels like a magnificent indulgence, and I am grateful to restaurants everywhere.
5. I know that if I didn't currently have a job and I had been sitting around the house all day, I would be totally nostalgic for this "coming home" feeling, and I would conveniently forget the exhaustion, the starvingness, the kids melting into puddles of accusing misery.

Happy Friday, all!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Media Diary, Part 2

So! Back to the diary thing. I'm trying to keep it short, because what I'm noticing is: uh, our days are kinda the same. Also, not very interesting.

Anyway. Monday: Si has movie matinee at school. They watch Night at the Museum 2. He was anxious, in deciding whether or not go, to make sure that watching the movie wouldn't use up his whole 2-hour monitor allowance. Luckily, I'm not THAT strict, so he also played Wii when he got home. He got an additional half hour for walking with me to the library after dinner. Helen didn't do any monitor/ media stuff, except for book & bed. Hubs worked on the computer, then watched a little news before bed. I'm sure I turned on the computer, but I can't remember what I did.

Tuesday: Si takes the bus home, hooks up with a friend, has the world's shortest playdate (30 minutes. At a house 10 minutes away. You do the math. Luckily [for ME] I was still at work). Once home, with homework complete, he played Wii until I got home with Helen at 5:30. Sort of. ("I see that it's five-forty-five, Si. What time did you say you would turn it off?" etc.) Some weeping on Helen's part over the Wii/ TV and Who Gets To Use It, but this seemed perfunctory and related mostly to being hungry. The kids play legos until dinner. Hubs works on the computer (adverb: frantically). After dinner I fire up my computer to keep plugging away at the damn retirement (in vain--apparently I lack the skills to complete this paperwork online). I also check times for a play I'd like to see w/ Hubs (thaz right, ladies. THEATAH.) Helen and Si try to cooperate on searching for coloring pages online on another computer, but this breaks down when Helen refuses to let someone else type for her. Thus my attempts to puzzle out the retirement thing are further scrambled by a constant soundtrack: "Mama, where's the N? It's not ON the bottom. Oh, there. N. What comes next? Where's the G? I can't find the G. MAMA! Where's the G?" ACK. I may have asked her to PLEASE DO THAT QUIETLY (MONITORS BREED IMPATIENCE, OBV). Si goes off to another computer (our house is RIDDLED with them) to print out paper airplane instructions. Then he gets involved in a complicated construction project making a little cardboard army base for the airplane (I LOVE it when he does projects). For both kids, books and music at bedtime. I read a bit to fall asleep, and Hubs watches the news to unwind.

So. There it is. Possibly a little lighter than average for us on a weekday.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Media Diary

After reading last week's NYTime's article about kids and media use, I've been pondering it and I decided to keep a media diary for my family. For a week. This is not a decision that has gone over well--Hubs asked testily if he should be the one to write down MY media use, to keep me honest. My reaction (what? no way! this is my project) made me realize what a touchy thing it is to record the habits of somebody else. So I want to emphasize that I'm not doing this, or I'm trying not to do this, with a moralistic purpose in mind. I'm not saying any particular level of use is Good or Bad (parental statements I've made in the past to the contrary). I'm really just trying to see how we use media, as a family.

So. Here goes.

Note: I'm not counting media use during work or school hours.

Friday - Family gets home around five. Everyone is hungry and tired. There's immediately a fight over who gets to use the TV in the fireplace room, which is centrally located. Silas wants to play Wii Lego Batman; Helen wants to watch Hannah Montana. I say that they need to work out a mutually agreeable arrangement or no one gets to use it at all. Tears, etc., until Helen decides she wants to help me make lemon pudding (a total bust, BTW). Silas plays Wii until dinner. After dinner Helen puts in the Hannah Montana movie and we all watch--Hubs and I both expect to be appalled and are not. After the movie I check a post I made on the internet, and maybe breeze by a couple of the blogs I like to read to see if there are any updates. I read to the kids (is that media use? It IS, but not according to the study reported on by the Times), and then they both go to sleep listening to music (again, media use?) After the kids are in bed Hubs watches some TV.

Saturday - I turn on the computer first thing, to check my email and to get closer to my weekend goal of getting my (depressingly small) retirement accounts moved into a single company. Browse a bit. After breakfast, Si plays Wii for his regulation two hours. Helen goes to a birthday party. Hubs does some internet stuff and later watches TV (pro bullriding, which we both find fascinating). Everyone checks in with the TV periodically, but no one is plastered to it doing nothing else. Si has a late-afternoon playdate that involves some Wii. The kids get books & music at bedtime.

Sunday - I neglect my parental and household duties due to my book (The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, which turns out to be a ghost story and also a bit of a tease. A totally absorbing tease). Hubs works on computer all morning. Helen listens to CDs. Si plays legos, then Wii, and then both kids get invited to their cousin's. Hubs drives them over there and plays with them all for a while, to give his sister a bit of a break. I run, then work on the computer until everyone gets home. After dinner Si wants to play Wii but we decide to cut him off for the day, due to worked-up-ness and also my fond hope of getting the kids to bed on time or maybe even early. This sort of works. Hubs works on computer all evening.

There it is: weekend media use. It's about average for us: the grownups spend a lot of time on the computer, working (or "working"). Helen is almost completely uninterested in media, except for CDs and the occasional movie (and, sometimes, Leapster). Si gets about two hours of Wii/ video games, and assorted extra TV and/or movies depending on what the rest of the family is watching. Most of the kids' media use happens communally, to everyone's regret.

More thrilling updates to come.