Thursday, August 29, 2013

I have a dream anniversary blog.

I know I'm a day late (and a lot of dollars short-but that's another story), but I want to write a little post about the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King's speech and the march on Washington.

When I was a little girl, I used to imagine that Martin Luther King was up in heaven and could see me and approved of the person that I was.  I grew up a good little Catholic and imagined that God could see me too, and later when my favorite Aunt-my Godmother-passed away, I imagined she could see me too...In fact, sometimes I still do.  But I also grew up in small-town Wisconsin and almost everyone I knew was white.  The only black people I knew well were the one family who lived in our town, one school friend, and one of my parents' good friends.  But I wanted to know. My parents taught us about the march on Washington as they took us to marches and rallies about civil rights, about peace and against violence.  Martin Luther King's speech was read to me and played for me both at school and at home. 

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream . . . I have a dream that one day in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

Martin Luther King's speech and the ideas within, rang in my ears as a child when I learned about racism, witnessed racism, was a part of racism.  It rang in my ears when I went to college and learned more about the world and injustice and hatred and fear....and love and peace and the power people really can have.  And for a while I was ashamed of my whiteness, I wanted to belong to something other than this group of white-skinned people who had always been the torturers/the takers away/the cruel aggressors in history.  But then I opened up about that in a class on social work and diversity led by a wonderful teacher. I learned about white privilege and how important it is to be aware of it.  I stopped being terrified to talk about race, for fear of saying the wrong thing or showing my ignorance.  I learned that I can't help the color of my skin or the history to which I belong, but I can help my awareness of it, my willingness to be involved in the world around me, do something about my ignorance.  And I can laugh and shake my head at myself when I overhear two black female friends talking about a movie and pipe in with "OH! Are you talking about Anne of Green Gables?" and they reply "No. The Color Purple."

I'm completely aware of how white I am, of how my whiteness has shaped me.   As a kid I longed to join hands with friends a different color from me.  A different culture.  And now I have kids of my own.  And I am doing my best to talk to them about race--not just saying that there's no difference and we're all the same on the inside... But to answer their questions honestly when they ask them, not to pretend that we're all the same.  But to recognize, when they ask questions about a "brown skinned" friend or a "light skinned" friend, that there are differences.  Differences among our skin color, our cultures, our families are what makes our communities interesting.  When we work together while recognizing those differences, we make the world a better place.  I sent them to a school where they are around people who are not all the same as they are--who don't look the same or act the same, come from the same families, races, religions.  I think my kids understand that race is important and a part of our world, that it does matter.  That though most of the faces they see on TV and magazines are the same color as theirs...the real world isn't and shouldn't be like that.  I tell them that even though we've come a long way from the day Martin Luther King made his speech, people are still judged by the color of their skin.  That even though segregation is no longer legal, it is still sadly an institutionalized part of our country. I showed them as we biked through Milwaukee the other day, the segregation of our city and we talked about it. 
"But Highland's not like that" Coen said, talking about his school, "Everyone's all different races at Highland-Black skin and white skin."  
"Yeah!" Lucy chimed in enthusiastically. "And peach skin and brown skin and people with mixed up skin in the same family!"

So, happy I have a dream-iversary. I hope that when my children are adults, much more of MLK's dream is real.  I hope I can keep being honest about my place in my community and what I bring to the table of culture and race, peace and justice.   I hope I raise my kids to fight peacefully against racism and become friends with people who are different from they are in all kinds of ways...and to love who they are too.

Some kids, including mine, at their school

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Extreme heat advisory? Oh! Well I'll just take my kids on a 20 mile bike ride!

For a long time I have wanted to take my kids biking on the Oak Leaf Trail on the east side of Milwaukee.  I have wondered about biking all the way to my parents' house too. 

Yesterday I was home with my kids for the day and wanted to do something fun with them. 

Also the temperature was in the high nineties and apparently there were heat advisories all over the place.

So naturally, that is the day I choose to take my kids biking all the way to City Market in Shorewood to meet my parents for lunch, to Yo Mama in Shorewood for dessert and then back home again.  A round 20ish mile ride.  Coen requested it when I suggested we drive our bikes over there. 
"I can make it!" He said. "I did 12 miles for the Bike, Walk, Eat!"

I packed us three water bottles full of ice water and we had a lovely time on the way there.  We stopped as frequently as Coen wanted for water breaks and had a really nice conversation after Coen said, while biking through the corner of Walnut and 30th Street, "Why is this town so old and run down?"

I called my parents to tell them we'd be about 20-30 minutes late for lunch and Coen demanded that I not tell them we were biking.  He wanted it to be surprise when we pulled up on bikes, 10 miles later.  "Just tell them we had a little trouble getting started", He said.  
Which was true.  Lucy and Coen both took forever to get the stuff together they wanted to bring along and I had to traipse up and down the basement stairs with the bikes, the bike pump, the bike lock and so on. 
"It's not a lie." He said. "It's just leaving out part of the truth.  That's what I did in my class.  When I was sitting with friends and we were supposed to be working but we were arguing about something and Ms. Wendy would ask us what was going on.  I'd just say 'we had a little trouble getting started', which was true but we knew we were supposed to be working."
I laughed. "Wow! Are you going to use that with Ms. Jamie too?"
"Is that bad?" Coen asked.
"Well..It's always best to be honest, but it just makes me laugh.  Did it work?"
"No." Coen said. "Ms. Wendy always wanted more information."

So we arrived, sweaty but happy to City Market and ate lunch.  Coen downed another water and a bottle of soda.  "That felt like a well-deserved break." He said as we biked on to Yo Mama for frozen yogurt.

But the way home?  Not such a happy tale.

I took us up Capital to Roosevelt, thinking it was a straighter shot than the way we came, but man, the wind was in our faces, the heat of the day was upon us and it was just not easy.
Coen was unhappily wishing we had a ride home and I was unhappily berating myself for letting us embark on such an endeavor in the first place.  Tad called us as we rode up Capital and I answered it. "What are you guys doing?" He asked. "Are you en route?"
"Yes" I said, declining to tell him just exactly how we were en route, calling upon Coen's classroom method of information withholding.
We drank water until our water got warm and stopped in many shady spots along the way.  The hour and a half that it took us to get there almost doubled for the ride home.  We got some Gatorade at a gas station around where Roosevelt and Sherman cross and headed down Sherman to get home. 

We had to stop on some church steps to rest and I splashed Coen with our warm water and we drank more cold Gatorade.  I put my arm around him and apologized for taking him on such a journey.  Lucy sat back in her bike trailer and read a book, red-faced, but smiling and drinking an entire 32 ounce blue beverage. 
"It was my idea." Coen said. 
"Well, yeah but I'm a grown up and I should just say that maybe today's not the best day for such an idea. But at any rate...see those stop lights up there?"
He nodded.
"That's Washington Park and then we will be almost home."

And once we got into Washington Park he happily biked on through and we finally made it at almost 5 in the afternoon.  Coen went straight to his air conditioned room to read Harry Potter and Lucy and I played in the sprinkler until bedtime.

"I'm exhausted." Coen said to his dad when he came home from work. "We had an adventure today."

I smiled sheepishly at Tad who was a bit shocked at my decision.  "I knew you were going to do something that would make me uncomfortable today." He said.
"What?! How?"
"I could just feel it in the air."

The 97 degree air.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How I suddenly care about what people are saying about Miley Cyrus.

I don't usually pay too much mind about what goes on in Pop Culture.

When Tad and I turn on Conan O'Brian, I'm usually looking at the list of guests and saying, "Who is that? Why don't I know any of these people?  Where's Winona Ryder? Where's Ethan Hawke?" 

I listen mostly to sixties and seventies music in my car and even when I get modern, it's 90s music.  I'm stuck in college basically. I'm like an old lady already, getting all curmudgeonly about the pop music of today.  "What is this RACKET?!"

I was going to insert a sentence here about how I don't really care about the last celebrity who passed away but I had to google "Recently Dead Celebrities" because I don't know who the last celebrity who passed away is

However, I am a Facebook girl, without a doubt.  So I know all about Miley Cyrus and her booty shaking, nearly naked performance every one's talking about.  And I was inclined not to care. But then I saw she wasn't alone on stage..there was a male performer sexing it up too.

Howcome no one's talking about the man on stage with her?  What I DO care about is the way our society still treats women.  And the way our society treats sex.  So on Facebook I came across this:  a sexologist's blog, that my friend posted. And I read it.

I gotta say, I'm so tired of the way we talk about women. I'm tired of the constant posting of pictures of women in various states of undress and body size and the endless commentary about it.  I wish we didn't feel the need to say anything about each other's bodies.  Our bodies are our vehicles for mobility and nourishment and simply the carriers of our who CARES if they are big or small or wrinkled or "wibbly" as my daughter would say.  I resolved a long time ago not to tell my friends they look thin and therefore good.  I resolved a long time ago not to make commentary about the size of a woman's body and whether or not she should be wearing one article of clothing or another because of it.  I loved the article on FB about how the only thing we should be saying to our daughters about their bodies is how to take care of them!  I spent all of middle school bending my legs and worrying that my thighs were too thick, my kneecaps not knobby enough.  I spent all of college, comparing myself, obsessing over my weight, feeling not pretty enough...   In fact, as soon as I stopped even looking at People magazine and others like it and I stopped watching pop culture on TV,  when I just focused on myself based on WHO I am, not WHAT I look like, that is when I had the best self-image of my life.

I'm also tired of the slut-shaming.  Good golly (there's my inner old lady coming out)--women and men--we're all just highly intelligent animals (well...most of us) and sex and the way we express it is just one part of who we are, our culture, our drive to propagate...and to make life enjoyable.  And we're such a nation of juxtapositions.  We criticize Miley Cirus all over the Internets about her overly sexy performance yet Playboy magazines and Porn (Internet and otherwise) are FLYING off the shelves.  I mean, I saw a piece of the video and I had to turn it off--yes, it was obnoxious and over-the-top...not something I'm interested in watching.  BUT....  good grief people the fact that people are talking about it at all--whether they're criticizing it or not, it's giving Miley great press and I'm sure she knew that going in.   

Anyway,  I don't really mean to say anything about the performance, as I did not see enough of it to critique, but what I mean to say is that back when the singers of the 60s and 70s that I love so much were modern pop culture--people were shaming women for being sexual.  Back in the 90s where my own "modern" musical tastes are rather stuck--people were shaming women for being sexual.  And today--people are shaming women for being sexual.  And still we hear nearly nothing of men being "overly sexual".  Still a sad double standard.

I find myself suddenly a sexuality educator, talking to real people about their sexuality....  And the people in my class are so happy to be able get real about it, to be able to talk openly about it.  And real human sexuality is not Playboy magazines and rubber bikinis on Miley Cyrus.  That's the capitalized version.  Real human sexuality is just part of real human life.  But we seem to spend our time and money on the former, whilst shaming the latter or pretending it doesn't exist.   

I mean, the kids who are watching these videos and being exposed to all kinds of talk, word and image of capitalized sexuality are the same kids whose parents won't allow them to take my classes on how to negotiate with partners and properly protect themselves from STDs and unplanned pregnancy because heaven forbid we talk about SEX!  The sex that many kids are having anyway. 

Well! How I got from Miley Cyrus to my livelihood, I'm not quite sure, but anyway, this is all just my humble opinion.  Feel free to disagree.

And turn down that racket!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Summer kids

These two little nuts have had quite a summer.
By the time school starts they will have taken three trips: Cocoa Beach, Florida in June.  Washington D.C. in July.  Door County in August. 

They have made elaborate forts in their rooms and invented a game where Coen is "the Guy"--a bad guy who looks like Coen (but isn't Coen according to the children) usually wearing one of Tad's suit coats and a wool fedora.  (It was quite fun to see how sweaty the Guy got on those 90 degree days.)

This kid spent his entire summer reading. 

He started the Harry Potter series (finally) around July 1.  He is now on book six.  He has read each book followed up by a night time viewing of the movie with one or both of his two parents (and one with his friend Abe.)

He has read his book as pictured to the right, at the park while all the other children run around and play. 

He has read his book during the first six innings of a Washington Nationals game at Nationals Ballpark.

He has read his book in bed, in the car, on an airplane, in my bed, on the couch and in a giant Lego structure he created at the Building Museum in Washington D.C.

This girl has spent the summer learning to read, which is quite exciting.  She reads to us at bedtime now before we read to her.  Late evenings at our house you can hear her little voice sailing down the stairs in request to have the hall light turned of: "Is reading time over?"

She has lengthened and slimmed and looks suddenly like a big kid, rather than a little one.

She has, for the first time ever, been willing to get on and ride her training wheel bike and put on a brave face even when she has fallen off.

She has also begun having play dates sans parents, simply getting dropped off at her friend's house and getting picked up later.

We have had a fun summer in the Kriofske Mainella household.  This weekend, we'll have our last hurrah with Tad's parents in Door County and next week Tad goes back to being Mr. Tad at Highland.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

...Like you're the best thing in there....

When I was a kid, my grandma Gigi always told me to walk into a room like I thought I was the best thing in there.  "Even if you don't feel like you are." She would say, "No one will know."

And throughout my childhood and youth and teen years, I just could not bring myself to do it.  But I knew what she meant.  I was afraid to take that leap.

I have this friend who is a beautiful woman, intelligent, focused and kind. She's an incredibly dedicated mother, an amazing cook, and a source of warmth for her friends. She has a beautiful home, great parties and her kids eat healthy, adventurous foods.  She has these intense eyes and an air of grace and calm.  When I met her, I admit, I compared myself. She seemed wiser, more confident.  I couldn't cook like her. I never even tried some of the foods she prepared.  I didn't have the energy that she seemed to have to create an environment for my children which was as educational, as interesting and even as cool.... 
And one day, early in our friendship, we were taking a walk and she told me, after I had expressed some insecurity about something parenting-related, that she was surprised by my insecurity, that she thought I was a really great mom and that I just knew that.  I was so surprised, that I didn't say anything back.  Wow, I thought, this woman thinks I am a great mom??? And as we got to know each other better, she would express similar insecurities back, would say that she felt like I had it together, or that there were ways she wanted to be like me.  And again, I was shocked.  How is it that this incredible person wants to be like me?

And I know it's not the first time I've blogged about this...but what I think is so important that EVERYONE that we're all just walking around being our imperfect selves, forgetting that there's no one else like us, and there shouldn't be.  So many of us are looking at other people, sometimes comparing ourselves, feeling like we're not as good as....  So many of us are walking into the room pretending like we're the best thing in there, but not really believing it.  We're all full up of the questions and insecurities and confidences and thoughts in our own head that though they feel bright as neon signs---NO ONE can see.  Wouldn't it be freeing if we never thought we had to be like someone else?  Wouldn't it be lovely if we all just knew we were the best person we could be, and if not, we tried harder and forgave ourselves when we just weren't the best selves for that day or that week or that hour?

When I was a kid, my dad would walk around the house singing Frank Sinatra's Too Marvelous for Words.  But he'd change the words so he was singing

I'm just too marvelous
Too marvelous for words
I'm absolutely fabu-tron
To marvelous for words
Thinking about this now still makes me giggle.  And I know now that my grandma didn't always think she was the best thing in the room, even as she acted like it.  And now I know that my friend, like me, compares herself to other people.  And now I know that my dad didn't feel marvelous all the time.... Even though to me, he seemed like the funniest, most interesting, most marvelous man alive.... But each one of those people--my grandmother, my friend, my dad--and you and me too...we are all amazing, and great, and flawed....and yes, too marvelous for words.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Working on my introvert care skills

This weekend has been a flurry of activity.  Thursday Tad had a Brewer game with friends and I took the kids to work with me. Friday we went to the beach with some friends and my parents and then had a dinner party that night.  Saturday was our annual 55th Street Block Party which was a rousing 12 hour day of fun in the street.  Sunday my sister and her husband took our kids so Tad and I could go on a Brewer game date day!

All of that for me equals happiness, energy and excitement.
And while Tad enjoyed each one of those activities, all of it for him equals a substantial drain on his energy.

So we went to the Brewer game for our date day and found ourselves having trouble connecting.  And of course we're nearly at the full moon so while my body language is screaming "DON'T TOUCH ME!!!", My brain is saying, "Please give me a hug!"  And Tad, because he's recharging from an extremely social weekend seems to be putting off the "I don't really like you" vibe while in his head, he's feeling like I find him tiresome and boring.  Juxtaposition CITY! 

Anyway, after having a weird argument in line for ice cream, simply because I didn't like the way he phrased something and told him loudly that he was getting his period too.... 
We talked about the way our bodies were saying something different than our heads were. 
"I'm just recharging from yesterday, you know?" Tad said, putting his arm around me. "It was fun but it took a lot out of me."
"I know." I said, putting my head on his shoulder. "And yesterday just gave me more energy for MORE things!" 
Tad laughed. "You're like a coke addict."

We watched the rest of the game and walked home.

I know Tad and I get our energy in very different ways. And sometimes it is hard to understand each other.  But we are trying.  Man, are we trying...and I think that's what's most important.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A month of Sundays or a month of FUNDAYS!?

So we have a busy few weeks upcoming and Tad and I have been having a recent debate about our calendar, which looks like this:

(Conversation between Tad and me standing in the kitchen looking at the calendar over coffee)
Tad: I don't know if you've noticed but the calendar is looking pretty full.
Me: What?! It's not that bad!
Tad: I just am noticing that we have very few unscheduled days.  Before school starts. That's all.
Me: Well, really though if you break it down it's like Monday we have dinner guests, Tuesday I have hula hoop class--HULA hoop class. You don't have to go to that.  Wednesday is Washington Park-We do that EVERY week, it barely needs mentioning.  Thursday--
Tad: Let me stop you there. You don't have to break it down.  It's just that there's a lot of stuff on the calendar.
Me: Yeah, but--
Tad: I just want you to admit that it's a lot of stuff...
 Me: Well I'm just trying to break it down to make it less daunting.  The days are basically all free time as far as the eye can see!

(Two days later.  Conversation between Tad and me on the phone--me at work and he at home)
Tad: So I'm just standing here looking at the calendar and I thought I should mention again how full it is.
Me: I know but I'm telling you, if you take it day by day, it's not all that daunting.  And some days are like..YOU have a Brewer game with friends or WE have a date night.  Or just I have to work late. Those don't really count.
Tad: They do count.  I am telling you. I see this calendar and there are only two days with nothing on them.
Me: Well, really three days.
Tad: What?
Me: Well look at Monday the 19th. That WAS something but I crossed it off.  So three days.  And if you don't count--
Tad: Oh I'm counting everything.
Me: Well, do you want something cancelled?
Tad: No. That's not what I'm saying at all.  I just want you to admit that it is a really busy month.
Me: Oh.  Okay. I admit it. It's a busy month.  But still--
Tad: No, no! Thanks very much for your admission.
Me. It was lovely doing business with you.
Tad: Yeah. A real pleasure.

 It's hard to say who's making more sense here. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

442nd Place!

I'm not a competitive person at all. 

I'm so not competitive that sometimes I just try not to win at board games so the other person can feel good (and I'm not just talking Candy Land with my children)

I'm so not competitive that when I was a kid I would stand out in right field making dandelion crowns, effectively making myself miss any pop flies that came my way.

I'm so not competitive that whether I'm watching someone I know play a sport or I'm playing one myself, I never know what the score even is.

But yesterday I did my first triathlon.

And I wasn't nervous. I didn't care how long it took me. I just wanted to do have done it.

But once I got in that water and that horn sounded...I actually wanted to swim fast.  And when I got on my bike, I pedaled hard.  And the run (which was the hardest part for me--though I was not expecting that, being a daily runner) I did at my usual pace, without stopping to walk...even when I saw some friends there to cheer us on  that I wasn't expecting after seeing Tad, Coen, Lucy and my parents and got choked up. I got so choked up that I nearly hyperventilated for ten minutes... but I'm NOT walking!  I said to myself. 

Anyway, when I finished, the clock said 2:04 and I was like "Damn..I was hoping to have done it under 2 hours..."  And then when one of my teammates showed me this image on her phone:

I was actually pretty excited.  That's faster than I thought I would be. Plus 442 out of 1026 isn't bad. Isn't bad at all.  I guess I can be competitive after long as it's just with myself.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


Okay, so show of hands.  How many of you have broken your husband's favorite coffee pot and crashed his car in one day? 

Oh, just one?  Okay people, move over, let's see who's raising that hand.


It's Alie.

That figures.

Some of you readers may have been given the tour around my car.  My car with the missing side mirror (from hurrying out of the garage to show the kids the street sweeper) and the dent in the front hood (from when I rear ended that pick up truck at a stop light--I  could have SWORN I was stopped) and the scrapes all along the side from some more garage pulling in problems.  I'm not the most attentive of drivers.  I admit it. 

I'm not the most attentive of much.  Which is how I get things done so fast.  But jeez.

So yeah, today I was trying to fix the off-kilter coffee pot handle and somehow broke a part of the glass pot in my hand, slicing two of my fingers in the process.  The children came running into the kitchen to see the blood. It was very exciting. 

Later in the day we were driving in bumper to bumper traffic on the highway.  And I stopped and all our library books fell off the seat.  I looked down to make sure none had fallen under the brake pedal and looked up. WHOAH. People were stopping fast. And I did not stop fast enough. I banged into the car in front of me.  With Tad's minivan. 

We pulled over and exchanged information and she called me tonight to say that she will be getting a quote on Monday to get it fixed.  So I made a couple very expensive mistakes today.  I guess I was hoping she wouldn't care about a little bump on her bumper.  I looked at it. It didn't look like that big of a deal to me.  But of course I'm the girl with the crash test Toyota.  *Sigh*  And you know, I have been rear ended TWICE and both times told the people, no big deal, it's just a car! And then sent them on their merry way. 

Part of the thing about me (when other people wreck my stuff) is that I just don't put much value in STUFF.  I mean, it's just a car.  It's what I get around in--who cares what it looks like.  I mean, I take care of the INSIDE of my car!  I make sure to get oil changes and tune-ups and make sure it lasts as long as possible.  I don't usually care when things break.  If someone spills something on my rug. Whatever! People spill! Things break!  And maybe it was irresponsible to let those people go who crashed into me.  I could have fixed my car and been able to get a better value in the blue book buy back (is that what people say?)

I guess I was hoping for some good car-karma.  Probably I just need to watch where I'm going.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

In the middle of the lake

Have I mentioned that I'm doing a triathlon on Sunday?

Well I am. 

I have never done a triathlon before, nor have I ever even done a race aside from the occasional 5K here and there, during which I've never registered with a bib number or had myself timed. 

But this Sunday I'm going to Pleasant Prairie to do the Iron Girl Triathlon with a bunch of women from the kids' school, a group of strong and wonderful women--also known as the Highland Honeys, women with whom I've been training all summer long.

Tonight I went with a group of Highland Honeys and we did the open water swim across Lake Andrea,  the very lake we will swim across on Sunday.  I've been training all summer in a pool and have been able to swim a healthy half mile in a half hour without stopping.  But the open water is quite different with no wall to push off or place to rest. 

As today's swim approached, I started to get nervous that it would be really hard...that I'd have to be thrown a noodle or just wouldn't be able to go all the way across without a rest.  And when we pulled up and got out of the van to put our shoes and towels on the beach, I looked across and was thinking, that's a half mile.... And the enormity of the 1/2 mile swim, 12 mile bike ride and 3.1 mile run began to sink in. 

So we gathered on the other side of the lake and the leader sent us in and I swam.  I side stroked and doggy paddled and side stroked again and began feel good. I felt strong.  And I knew I would be fine.  And I flipped on my back somewhere out in the middle of Lake Andrea and looked up at the blue sky and the white clouds and it hit me.  I was in the middle of the lake. My safe place.

Now I should explain. I know that many people would not call the middle of the lake a "safe place", but last year when I was doing a lot of therapy, trying to make myself a healthier person, I tried a type of therapy called EMDR.  You can look it up for a more in depth explanation, but it's a way of changing pathways in your brain.  And in order to do it, I had to think of two things: a traumatic event and a safe place.  So the safe place I thought of to go to when I needed calm and peace was just me in the middle of a lake with a blue sky and land on either side of me.

And in that swim tonight, it hit me when I floated a moment on my back, that I was there. In my safe place, but in the flesh, not in my mind. And I felt calm and peaceful and strong and good. 

And I made it across the lake.

And I am ready for my first triathlon.

Why aren't you answering?

My sister and I have a mutual stalker relationship via text and cell phone. 

When I call my sister and she doesn't answer, I hang up and then call back again to leave a message, hoping that this time she'll answer.

When my sister calls me and I don't answer, she invariably texts me to say "Why aren't you answering your phone?" 

It really gets good when I call her and she doesn't answer, and then WHILE I call her back to leave a message, she calls me, only to get my voicemail because I'm busy leaving her a message. And her voicemail to me and mine to her are both like "I saw that you just called. Where are you? Call me!"

Sometimes even, if it takes awhile to get ahold of each other, we call our mom and ask if she's heard from the other sister in a while.


It's pretty obnoxious, but since it's mutual, I think it's just fine. Don't you?  Totally not insane at all.

Anyway, this screen shot of our text messages last night is good evidence.

I texted her to say hello and then she asked me if I was available to talk. So instead of texting her back to say that I was indeed available, I called her. But then she didn't answer. So I left her a voicemail. And when she still didn't call back, I texted her again. Twice.  It turns out she was ready to call me but ran into a friend so was delayed.  Anyway, here it is. Enjoy.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Daddy does it better

I'm usually pretty popular with my kids.  I'm a bit lax-er on the rules than Tad.  I try to make mundane tasks into games. I'm really loud and obnoxious. 

But this summer Tad's been home with the kids and I've been working really hard.  At bedtime I've been less apt to play and more apt to be like..."Just COME ON and brush your TEETH!"  Many mornings I've left for work before they've even woken up.  These days when I do get a chance to kiss Lucy goodbye in the morning, she says, "So will be back after my bedtime?"

 Tad's been connecting really wonderfully with Coen and Lucy and of course has been their go-to parent lately.

Some evidence:
The other night as I settled in to read to Coen he looked over at me and said, "I'm not trying to make you feel bad, but I'm kind of in a Daddy mood tonight."

Yesterday Coen and Lucy were yelling at each other for being on one another's "side" of the couch.  Tad got frustrated with the children for fighting during their TV time and shut it down, asking both children to get off the couch.  After it was sorted out and we'd talked, I let Coen choose his show and told them they could watch. 
Me: Lucy, you can come back now.  Coen is watching his show. We just ask that you let him watch his show and let him be.
Lucy: No. Daddy said I have to stay off the couch.
Me: No, he just wanted you to get off the couch while we talked to you. Now you may go back to the couch.
Lucy: Well Daddy said.
Me: Well, honey, I am your mommy and I said that you can go back on the couch.
Lucy: Daddy said I can't. So I'm not.
Me: *sigh*
I had to go get Tad to clear it up because apparently my word was not enough!

The other day at the Urban Ecology Center, Tad took Lucy on a kayak ride and I offered to take Coen out after they returned. 
Coen looked out at them in the pond and then said to me, "I think it might be better if Daddy takes me in the boat because he's a little more calm and good at boat paddling."
(He did, in the end, concede to let me take him)

And finally.
Last night Lucy was "thinking about things she didn't want to think about" and asked if I would rub her back.  I did so and then as I got up to leave the room, she said, "Daddy does it better and he does it for a longer time."

Well, lah-ti-dah!

Telling me how it's done.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Time keeps on slippin' slippin' slippin'

So yesterday on Facebook, I posted this conversation between Tad and me (before I post, I should explain to those of you who do not know. The Washington Park Concert series is my very favorite thing about summer. Tons of people I know and care about from my neighborhood to the kids' school to sometimes even others... gather on blankets to talk and hear live outdoor music. Tad, on the other hand, while he doesn't dislike this event...definitely finds it to be rather consuming of his social and psychic energy)

Tad (calling me on the phone at work, using a sympathetic and calming voice): I am just calling to tell you how sorry I am that your concert got cancelled because of the rain.
Me (using an equally sympathetic and calming voice): Oh, I'm glad you called because I was going to call you and tell you how sorry I am that the rain cleared up and the sun came out and the concert went on as usual.

So one of my friends asked if we were existing in the past and future at the same time.  And I laughed at that comment and said that perhaps we were living in the present future participle. 

And we did go to the concert, by the way.

The sun came out.  And then set. Beautifully, behind the trees.

So this morning, I was driving to work and smiling at our fun night when No Surprises by Radiohead came on my mix cd.  Suddenly I was transported to the Peace Corps, to the back of a bus in Estonia, using my green raincoat as a pillow, headphones on, drumming my fingers silently to the lovely synthesized lullaby sounding piano at the beginning of the song.  I used to ride the bus to visit friends, most often a seven hour bus ride there and back on the weekends from my island of Saaremaa to Tartu or Tallinn where we most often gathered. 

It struck me that, those long, music-filled rides on the bus and the ferry and the bus again took place twelve years ago.  And I AM existing in the past and future at the same time.  But the present too.  But the present is hardest to live in sometimes, isn't it...

When you are a parent the days can be endless, hours and hours to fill until bedtime or nap time, a game of Candy land on the playroom floor can feel like a full day of work sometimes...but the months, the weeks, the years, those slip by so fast you can't believe it.

How is it that I'm not a kid anymore, playing Candy land with my mom?
How is it that I'm not twenty-four anymore, on a bus in Estonia, listening to my Walkman?
How is it that my first born child is nearly TEN years old, reading novels on his own?
How is it that we have been going to Washington Park concerts for more than three summers now?

That's the feeling I have today.  It feels too fast.  I want to go home and stare at my children before they grow anymore. I want to see my Peace Corps friends.  I want a day of sitting on the porch with lemonade and coloring books and