Take a Lap

I’m raising foodies. It wasn’t intentional— I just cook good food, and it seems the kids have gotten used to it. Well, with the exception of Bean and his PBJ fetish. Though even Bean prefers a homemade english muffin to a stale, store-bought. They turn their noses up at the blue-box macaroni and cheese, and ask me to make the homemade version with vidalia onion and dijon mustard, and Jeffrey already knows (and can blind taste test) the difference between Regianno and regular parmesan.

But that also means we have (both genetically and through our gastronomic adoration of all things cheesy and fine) an issue with fitness. The love of good food, combined with trying to adjust to the swamp-like climate of a Virginia summer has made couch potatoes from the best of us. I can’t blame them- going outside to play sucks when it’s near the century mark and the humidity matches. Hiding in the air conditioned haven of the tiny townhouse is all too appealing.

But no more.

Last week the kids and a friend plotted out a one-third mile course through our little neighborhood. For full disclosure, this plot was hatched because the kids kept asking for seconds, and the idea was floated that seconds at a meal could be traded for physical activity. Nothing will motivate Jeffrey to run quite like having an extra helping of lasagna.

Color me skeptical, but a funny thing has happened: they’re going out and running the loop. All of them. And not just for food now- they’re doing it because they like it and it makes them feel good. To be sure, food is still motivating (Jeffrey, at least) but I’m also seeing the beginning of good habits, and a genuine enjoyment of the activity itself.

This morning, a Saturday, Bean and Jeffrey both woke up before anyone else, and in the pre-dawn, came into my room and asked if they could go run. I sleepily acquiesced, and by the time I got downstairs, they were out the door and off. They each ran a mile before breakfast. Jeffrey had to walk the last part, and Bean literally lapped him, but they both came back in for breakfast happy and rosy cheeked.

They were also both happy with one helping of breakfast. I think I’ll go take a lap, too.

Random Crap: Vapid Edition

Shhhh… don’t say it too loudly, but I’m starting to appreciate being able to go for a stroll in the late evening and have the air be balmy and not bracing or biting. The warm summer night thing might be growing on me.

Adjustments going fine, most of the time. We’ve had some tear-sodden incidents this week as we miss friends and our old ward (holy crap, do we miss our old ward!) but overall, it’s okay- I even got an “I guess I like it here- EXCEPT FOR THE ZEKE PART!” from Jeffrey. (Zeke is his BFF back on the west coast)

Super shhhhhh…. my dad ordered Jeffrey a set of bagpipes from Scotland for his birthday. Should I send out a letter to the neighbors now??

Abbs got a big-girl haircut yesterday- a chin-length bob with no bangs. She looks cute, so very serious, and probably more like a grad-student than I do:

She taught a friend of mine how to play chess the other day. A grown-up friend. Yes, she did. And yes, my daughter was the only kindergartner to be admitted to the chess club. This girl is gonna do important stuff. I hope I’m cut out to be a good enough mama for her. Okay, stepping away from the edge of that rabbit hole now…

I got called to Primary. To teach Bean’s class. First time ever… I said no.

First Tuesday of every month, the Lego store has a free builder workshop. Maybe you already knew that– everyone else in the greater DC area seemed to, because we waited in line for nearly AN HOUR for the kids to get in the store, collect their little bucket of pieces, and build a small great white shark. I think if I factor in the time we stood around, parking, driving, and annoyance, I paid $30 for those free Lego. But dude. The kids had a freaking ball. Yes, that is my ten-year old, gleefully waiting for his free Lego, who is now FIVE FEET FIVE INCHES TALL!

Also? Tyson’s Corner Mall? What a damn madhouse!

Somehow or other, we hit a Temporal Causality Loop yesterday, because we made it home using the 495 (that’s the “beltway”) and 66 at 6:30 in the evening, and hit no traffic. That will NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN. But let it stand that it did, in fact, happen. Once.

I made homemade Nutter Butter cookies last night. Prepare for a food-gasm. If you like peanut butter, that is. I can’t eat them, but the looks on the faces of those who can tell the tale.

Got all three kids registered for school. Jeffrey starts middle school. Trying not to geek out about that, or imagine my own hellish middle school years. Here’s hoping a giant redheaded kid who plays the bagpipes is considered cool in at least one circle.

Bean is actually doing a million times better than I imagined. It seems he has his bucket of issues that he packs with him wherever he goes, but otherwise, everyone else can just go pound sand. He’s fine. He’s the child I’m least worried about, ironically enough, after 8 solid years of worrying myself nauseated. Is that the parenting payoff?

Hair update: Back to shampooing with conditioner, per my curly girl experiment of many years ago. It’s helping exponentially. I do think the length is simply unsustainable in this humidity, and I might have to hide the scissors from me, not just Bean, to keep from hacking it off. I’ve already snipped some bad tangles from underneath rather than deal. That should be fun growing out! “Who does your hair, dear?” “ME! Why do you ask?” says the crazy woman…

I’ve got a massive pile of flat, broken-down, perfectly-usable moving boxes if you know anyone in the Tri-State area that stands in need. Storage is tight in Townhouse City.

My ward seems, cautiously, to be quite lovely. There’s the normal cast of characters that pop up everywhere, but so far, folks have been quite nice. Scads more diversity here, and I’m happy to report Bean has stopped remarking (loudly, or at all) on the varying differences in people.

Went to a barbecue last weekend at a new friend’s house, and they had the best slip-n-slide ever. The kids spent the entire day doing this:

That doesn’t suck. Glad July is over and we’re almost to the ‘bers.

Curiosity

What is it about space travel that captures the mind and inspiration so thoroughly and completely? Is it the juxtaposition of our own smallness and frailty with our hubris and courage to push ourselves beyond? Is it that we, inconsequential, ostensibly earthbound creatures, actually make fragile machines, work out the crazy math, and incomprehensibly manage to shoot for something 400 million miles away…and actually hit it?

I don’t know. I do know I sat up nearly all night, eyes brimming with tears, and watched with unmitigated joy as humanity landed on a foreign world. It wasn’t the first time, and it surely won’t be the last, but it was captivating beyond belief. I watched a mission commander who resembled Johnny Cash call out coordinates and a room full of scientists burst into joyous cheers while tears streamed down cheeks. We humans, daring to throw a stone at the moon, are both incomprehensibly tiny, and incomprehensibly without bounds. Simultaneously.

Beautifully done, Science. I love us.

My Choice: Protecting my Children

My little neighborhood is quiet and working-class. We’re fairly near an interstate, (it’s hard not to be in DC) and the main drag through town is a very busy and trafficked many-lane road with dozens of stoplights, turn lanes, shopping centers, markets and office buildings. It’s probably a lot like just about Anywhere, Major Metropolitan Area, USA.

Lately though, I’ve noticed one particular truck when I head out- today it was to register my kids at school and then to the grocery store. You know, basic mom stuff. This truck is a large, cab-over multi-axle truck, probably twenty feet long, and would be entirely un-noticeable, were it not for the giant, gruesome, bloody photographs of aborted fetuses emblazoned on the sides and on the back roll-up door. The first time I saw it, I thought I had seen wrong, and squinted in horror as it was an intersection ahead of me. I have since seen it three more times. I can only assume that this driver’s mission is to drive up and back on this main thoroughfare spreading his message.

My question is this: Do community decency standards apply to something like this? Without even going into personal opinions on abortion, is it acceptable to flagrantly, where one simply cannot avert one’s eyes (hello, driving) assault the general public with bloody images of dismembered human remains?

I find this infuriating on so many levels- and today, when I had my children in the car with me, I quickly turned into a parking lot, lest they have those terrible images burnt into their young minds. I’m not in any way against a person holding whatever position they personally choose on issues— moral, political, economic, social, whatever. What I am aghast at is my children, whom I take great pains to protect from media and television and movies that might give them inappropriate images and messages, being assaulted on a public outing in our community.

My six-year old has no ability, nor should she, to comprehend such images or ideology, and this person us using a cluster-bomb to get their message across, and is hurting innocents in the process. My eight- and ten-year olds are equally unequipped, and I hope to keep them that way as long as possible. This kind of social bombing infuriates me. Hold whatever opinion you like, but do not harm my children in your expression of said opinion.

What recourse does a mother have?

Daughter

With one pollen-dusted hand, she holds out yet another plucked flower for me, offered with all the sincerity of her six-year old heart. I am her mama, and she loves me. Until thirty seconds later, when I tell her no, and she suddenly hates me. The lip comes out, the brows draw down, and she transforms before my eyes. In a mere whisper, the glint in the eye turns from unicorns and fairy dust to the greatest abyss of disappointment and fury-tinted malaise ever known to humanity.

The risk of putting stock in the dreams of a mother before the reality of motherhood is something with which I am well acquainted. It didn’t take my boys a week to demolish the quaint and naive dreams I had of quietly rocking and nursing them to sleep, while birds chirped outside and dinner warmed in the oven. But this… this daughter thing… is a whole new level of deconstruction.

Who is this creature?

Sure, my sons get mad at me- fleetingly. No one digs being told “no”- but laying down and weeping on the stairs because of it? running to their rooms and slamming the door? AT SIX? Not a chance. Sure, I expected that as we rolled into the teen years somewhere far in the future. But she’s SIX!

The other day, she was sitting glumly in the corner. I asked what was wrong, and if I could help- she shrugged her shoulders, and looked away. I sat down next to her, put my arm around her, and drew her close. “Want to make something with mama?” She burst into tears. “Why are you crying?!” She wails that she doesn’t know. I understand this- and I hug her, and then leave her be- tell her to come find me when she’s ready. WRONG answer, mama! The wails become wretched “I’M SO SAD!!!”

But why, my dear, and what can I do?

Perhaps I am facing the crux of the complex and nearly universal mother-daughter relationship gorge. It seems the daughter I have is the one I am least capable of understanding, of relating to, or of meeting her unique needs. When I try and reach out to her in a way that feels intuitive to me, it’s almost always wrong, based on what she wanted from me. I’m left exasperated, and frustrated, and I know she must feel the same. Or so I assume.

This little female creature baffles me. I love her beyond all reason, and the idea of not being able to be more compassionate and tender to her needs frightens me. I want to understand her. I’ve taken pride in the strong bonds I have with my sons, and it worries me that I might be missing the key to the puzzle that is my daughter.

Anyone out there with some pointers or some good experiences or tips on mothering an emotional daughter, I’m wide open. Help me.