Friday, July 30, 2010


1. We have been bribing the children lately, to great success. The promise of four little chocolate chips was enough to get Helen to ride her bike (with training wheels, of course) somewhere besides the garage--and after less than a week, she's asking me if we can go on a bike ride after dinner. "Absolutely!" I always say. "Let me get my shoes on." Si is harder in this department--even as a baby he would narrow his eyes in the face of a parental proposition as he performed a detailed cost-benefit analysis--but if the price is right, he'll usually go for it (running! times tables! showers!)

2. I'm wondering how to get bribery to work on MYSELF. I have a horrible bad habit--it's called the internet--and I am determined to get my life back. Or at least my daytime productivity. Based on my faith that if you do something for ten days it becomes a habit (or is it two weeks? ANYWAY, some manageable amount of time), I am strictly rationing my (cough at work cough) internet time. After ten days, hopefully it will be habit. After a month, I'm thinking that I should get some sort of reward. Only, what? Ooh! I know! A major house renovation! Oh, right. We're getting that anyway, AND it's using up all our money.

Maybe I could give myself some chocolate chips (only, again, that would involve an interim time of NOT giving myself chocolate chips, which would mean that instead of embarking on one self-improvement project, I'd have to manage two--and, well, that's just too much self control right now. Especially when I don't have a kitchen.)

3. Actually,we do still have a kitchen, but its days are numbered. Also, all of our couches have gone into hiding. Now we just sit on cushions on the floor, waiting for the contractor to come.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dilemma and advice

I have a kid friendship question. Only I've pretty much already answered it in my own mind, so it's not really a question so much as fishing for reassurance.

Here's the deal: there's a kid in Si's class who has called him a couple of times this summer asking to play. He's never gotten through to Si personally; once he (actually, his dad, who was calling for him) talked to me; once he left a message. Si has been informed of these messages and has been nudged to call back, but he has shown zero interest in returning this kid's calls. Negative interest, even.

My normal position on Silas's social life is that I keep out of it. (Which is a separate question in and of itself: how much should I be interfering/ directing/ shaping Si's friendships?)

However, as the message-taker, I feel responsible. Also, I feel bad for the guy in his class. My sense is that he is not well-liked. Rumors get spread about him. All things being equal (when are they ever equal, though?) I think I would nudge Si a little harder about calling him back.

However--and here is where the water gets murky--I have a gut reaction toward this guy, and it is negative. I've been in Si's class. The kid is a little out of control. Also, I get reports like "people don't like X because he gets really mad and kicks people" and "X says he plays Nintendo until 3 a.m. and his parents just let him." Also, his parents: they are divorced, and his dad has clearly remarried a trophy wife. They seem like uncomfortable, dissipated people. This is based solely on gut instinct, meaning on sheer surface prejudices. I don't like that I do this. Nevertheless, it is the data with which I am working.

My charitable instincts (give the poor kid a chance) are at war with my parental instincts, which tell me this kid, however pitiable his home life, is unlikely to be a good influence. He's likely to engage in questionable behaviors in a playdate at his house and need extra supervision at a playdate at our house.

More data: I am myself a few-close-friends sort of person, not an embrace-a-wide-and-diverse-acquaintanceship person. I don't pursue or encourage friendships with women I don't like or don't trust. And I don't feel right pushing my children to do so, either. I try to enforce a rule of kindness, but there is a difference between being breezily polite/ friendly in a neutral location, like school, and inviting someone into your house.

I feel bad. But I'm not going to do it.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Stuff I'm Glad About Today

1. I've been exercising with arm weights and various fitness videos every morning, which is something I persist in even though it makes me feel hatefully perky. While I cannot tell, from looking at my fainting-Victorian-lady upper arms, whether I have been building any muscle, I do feel more...square? More aligned? Like, when I go up the stairs, I notice that my knees are pushing out right over my toes, etc. Like my day-to-day form is better. Or I'm more conscious of it. Either way, I like it.

2. After I wrote yesterday's post, I reflected on some of the other differences between now and five years ago. The two biggest ones are these: I finally have a more-or-less real job (if nothing else, proving that this is a human activity I am capable of), and life with the kids has hit the sweet spot. Right after Silas was born, one of my professors said something like "The next few years will be terrible, then they will be great for about eight years or so, then they'll be terrible again, and then they'll be great." So far we seem to be sticking to this trajectory, slightly extended due to adding another small person to the mix. While upon rare occasion I miss those babies I used to have, most of the time I am luxuriating in my ability to do basic normal things, like take a bath alone, or read at breakfast, or drink a cup of coffee without leaping up five times to attend to someone (although this still requires frequent semipatient reminders that I will do X when I'm done with my damn coffee, please). We can go on hikes and watch movies together. We can do trips. I can read chapter books to both of my kids. Life is pleasant, except when tainted by future longing (i.e., when I think that five years from now I will have a 10-year-old and an almost-14-year-old, and that the 14-er will probably look at me with loathing, and will be so busy with activities that we'll never be able to leave town, and when we do leave town he will spend the whole time pining after his friends and/or texting them inappropriately and on the sly).

3. We looked at cabinets and countertops yesterday, and I started to be excited that someday relatively soon we are going to have a kitchen that not only works properly but which was specifically chosen and designed by us. As I've never lived with a kitchen that wasn't a morass of compromise and small disappointments, this is a big deal. It also raises uncomfortable questions of resource use and agency and allocation of personal funds--I can no longer be, or pretend to be, the virtuous planetary resident I was when I had a bike and 500 square feet and a monthly budget of $500. Also, that means the disastrous tupperware drawer will be completely our fault.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Five years!

Even though she claims it is not a meme and was never intended to be one, I'm still totally stealing Flotsam's five-year summary because I like it so much.

Also, I sort of like the idea of randomly turning back and saying--wait! Five years! What was I doing five years ago today?

July 22, 2005 (I checked. It was a Friday.)

1. Working, in my hot office on the CSU campus. Silas was at daycare a few blocks away. Helen was probably in my lap and I was probably typing one-handed.
2. We were sort of starting to recover from becoming a four-person family seven months before.
3. Writing was going okay. I was still on a hiatus from the novel, but I had some other good stuff going on.
4. We were also recovering from our second camping trip as a four-person family. The secret to camping with a seven-month-old? Camp beside a river, so no one can hear her scream.
5. I was ramping up training for my first and so far only half-marathon.

In the intervening years, there have been:

Children conceived: 0
Live babies acquired: 0
Men married: 0
Houses sold: 1
Houses bought: 1
Houses regretted: 1
Books written: 2 (rought drafts only, alas)
Degrees acquired: 0
Unfamiliar countries visited: 1
Unfamiliar states visited: 2 (in addition to lots of familiar states)
Couches owned: 5
Pets felled by disease/neglect: 2 (birds) (I'm also not sure of the turtle's fate, but I fear it was not good)
Days admitted to hospital: 0
Days children admitted to hospital: 3
Literary rejections received: countless
Pounds gained: haven't checked lately
Kidney stones passed: 0
Internships completed: 1
Funerals attended: 1
Books read: 292 (I keep track)
Blogs maintained: 1
Chickens reared: 3

Monday, July 19, 2010

Getting away

Denver temps, July 15-17, 2010: approximately 150 degrees, at least according to some eyewitness accounts.

Fraser-Granby-Winter Park temps: decidedly not that. Also, it was sunny. Also, so I don't get too weepily nostalgic, the mosquitoes were OUT. Helen looks like she came down with smallpox. (Guess who inherited her dad's inflammatory reaction tendencies?) And I spent at least two hours in the sweltering tent one day because heat stroke was FAR PREFERABLE to one more mosquito bite. Yargh.

Overall, though, the kids loved it. Note that Silas actually carried a backpack! With actual stuff in it! We did manage to convince him not to bring his 25-pound magnetix set, which spent the weekend in the car. Helen also carried a backpack, but her load consisted of a half cup of trail mix and barbie doll clothes.

Si is sometimes less enthusiastic about fishing than his dad would like him to be, but this weekend he even outfished Hubs. Friday morning he came stumbling down from his tent with his fishing pole in one hand and his shoes in the other. "Mom! Can you put my shoes on while I eat breakfast?" he asked.

"But can't you put on your own--oh, fine," I said.

Even our photos feel nostalgic.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Guess where we're going?


We're going backpacking. Whoohoo! Slash kill me.

I kid. It should be fun! Although I am kind of looking forward to coming home even before we get there.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Mt Bierstadt

Happy July! We had a great fourth of July--and, actually, all last week was great, in a tiring, nose-to-the-grindstone sort of way. Hubs was in Alaska last week (jetlag + all-day nights = hel-lo, sleep problems!) but my folks were here, so I would walk in the door at the end of the day and the house would smell like dinner. Then, at bedtime, I would get the kids' teeth brushed and faces washed and then kiss them goodnight and go read my own book while my parents put them to bed. It was HEAVENLY. And for mysterious reasons I was completely flat-out exhausted during the entire week. I think it was like that thing where you're running around, doing one thing after another, busy-busy-busy but keeping up just fine, until you make the mistake of sitting down. Then you're toast.

Then on the Fourth (Hubs was home--yay) we packed our cold weather gear and headed for the mountains. It was overcast and drizzling in Denver but the mountains were beautiful. The kids would like to go on record that they did not APPROVE of doing a hike, but DID IT ANYWAY for the sake of family harmony. Point taken, kiddos.

Helen started off game but wary:

After two solid miles of up, though, she got a little discouraged:

Even if she was, as many passersby noted, the most fashionable hiker on the mountain:

And then after lunch she got to head back down. So she was happy.

Si, on the other hand, was "tricked" and "forced" into climbing to the top:

And if he was maybe a little bit proud that he climbed a whole mountain by himself he certainly wasn't going to let on. Much. My big guy.