Friday, June 29, 2007

Crying Momma and Caring Tot

I’ve decided it’s good to let Meredith see me cry now and then. It really transforms her attitude. Today I felt like I was at the end of my rope. Meredith was being really bratty and demanding. Between that and my seemingly overwhelming “to do” list for the day, I lost it.

When Meredith saw me crying, she got very quiet and then came to pat me on the back. She said, “Mommy is crying. You got a tear on your hand.” (I had put my hands over my eyes and a tear had rolled off my hand.)

After sitting with me quietly for a few minutes, she ran to the other room and came back with her ratty blanket. Her favorite possession. The one thing she never shares with anyone. The one thing I never ask her to share since I know it’s that special to her.

She handed it over to me and said, “See? Here’s a blanky.” Then she smiled.

It was a very precious moment to be comforted by my toddler—the one who only moments before was the source of so much frustration. I was also very moved by her love. She probably wasn’t exactly sure what to do when she saw me crying—she had no idea why I was crying—but she knew I needed something to cheer me up. So she ran and grabbed the one material possession in her life that comforts her and means the most to her.

It’s funny how the hardest days with a toddler can also be the most precious, at times.

One-Thousandth Post

Wow. It's hard to believe. This apparently, according to Blogger, is my one-thousandth post.

I feel like I should say something more ceremonious at this point but I'm not sure what.

Blogging has been good. My blog has morphed a lot. I used to be a more frequent blogger. I used to be a more philosophical and political blogger. But now I find I rarely have time for that. I used to blog about a lot more random things but, again, I rarely have time these days to memorialize those observations.

I'm really glad for blogging—for the outlet it provides and that it enables me to keep up with friends too.

So, here's to another thousand posts!

I don't get it.

I don't understand how a little girl can be so into dinosaurs and making scary "rooooooaaaarrrrrrr" sounds all day long while, at the same time, be such a girly-girl.

While rummaging through her closet, Meredith recently discovered a pair of Cinderella princess pajamas that I had put away because I thought it was still too big. Someone gave it to her as a hand-me-down. She now wants to wear it ALL the time.

I am amazed at how quickly the "battle over clothing" has begun. Although she is not yet two years old, Meredith insists on wearing certain clothing (i.e., dresses) and shoes. She’s become extremely opinionated about the matter. I often have to put my foot down when things simply aren't practical. Mostly I give in, though, because she is SO happy to be able to wear her favorite things. It's cute to see.

Monday, June 25, 2007

We must be Parents ... or something!

If we hadn’t already realized we are parents, what we did on Saturday confirmed it in our minds. We walked four blocks downtown in the rain and joined a throng of other weary parents and exited children just so Meredith could meet her beloved Elmo. When we got there we had to stand in line for thirty minutes.

Kevin kept looking at me like, “I can’t believe we’re doing this. We are crazy.”

We nearly missed Elmo since he and Grover took turns, each doing a thirty-minute rotation. We’re glad we squeezed in on time because Grover just wouldn’t have been the same experience for Meredith. We thought she might be scared of Elmo—which is how she has reacted to large stuffed animals in the past. But she loved him! She walked right up to him and gave him a high five. Then she sat on his lap and gave him a hug and a kiss.

In the end we decided it was totally worth it. Even Kevin said, "It's worth it" after Meredith got so excited when she spotted Elmo in line and started talking it up ("I hug Elmo! I give him a kiss!"). And, when she asked to "hug the pig too" after spotting "Piggly Winks" (another PBS character), Kevin said, "Let's do it. The line isn't quite so long." Sigh ... the things only parents do.
Today I did another “parent thing” with Meredith and went to the Children’s Museum to meet up with Sarah and Nora. It was so great getting in a conversation with Sarah while the girls played—we haven’t seen each other for more than a year. It's fun because our first-born children are weeks apart and our second-born children will likely be days apart.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Common Food Art

I must have been bored last night while making dinner. Who says taco salad has to be monotonous?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Me at the "Y"

Last night I signed up for a water aerobics class at the local YMCA.

Yes, I know that water aerobics is stereotyped as the lazy person’s exercise. Come to think of it, this classification is probably deserved. After all, I’ve never seen a really buff person doing water aerobics. All of those people are pumping iron in the next room.

But, regardless of the stereotype, I feel like it will do me a world of good in the final six weeks of my pregnancy. So, there I was last night with all the other lazy exercisers, most of them gray haired and at least 100 pounds overweight. It cracked me up … some of them had flotation devices strapped around their midsections and some of them weren’t even doing the exercises at all. Ha!

But, seriously … I feel like it will help me meet my personal goals for exercise right now. After 90 minutes in the pool, I truly got a decent workout. I was able to stretch and use muscles in my body that I wouldn’t have been able to outside the water because of the pressure on my joints, which are already in pain because of the baby weight. Rather than being exhausted after the class, I was refreshed and had renewed energy.

So, I think it’s worth it. And maybe I’ll make some new friends from the local AARP in the meantime.


This past weekend found us roughing it at camp. “Roughing it” is a relative term since we were about as close to a bathroom and warm showers as is possible at a campground.

It was a church function and the main reason we went was for Meredith’s sake. We figured she would get a kick out of it and she truly did. On Friday night she was covered from head-to-toe with dirt. Unfortunately I never got a decent picture of her!

Honestly, I think camping can be enjoyable. Being surrounded by nature is good. Hanging out with friends at a campfire, roasting s’mores is just about as fun as anything. Since I’ve had some really fun and pleasant camping experiences in the past, I would never completely discount it. But, for the most part, I think it’s overrated, especially if the weather is bad. I think that priceline-ing a hotel is generally a much better option. But like I said, we did it for Meredith. Every kid deserves to go camping now and then.

We came, we saw, we conquered. And I think that this eight-month-pregnant body should get some sort of a medal for going (getting ready for it took the biggest toll) and sleeping in a tent on an air mattress. I’m not sure I’d ever go again under these same physical circumstances.

Twirling, Needs, and Customizing Drinks

Meredith has landed squarely in the little-girl-twirling stage. She wants to wear the same purple dress every day and she spends a large part of her free time spinning in circles watching said purple dress floating around her legs.

Who ever told her she is a girl and she should twirl? No one.

Lately Meredith has started telling us that she “needs” things. She’ll start off by stating that, for instance, “I want a pen.” When we tell her no, she’ll say (with urgency in her voice), “But I need one.”

Meredith has finally caught on to the fact that I dilute her fruit juice. After tasting the full strength juice, she has become quite irritated at the fact that hers gets watered-down. She has started telling us, “No water in it!” when we pour her juice.

This morning I offered her some chocolate milk. As I got out the milk and the Hersey’s syrup, she yelled, “NO milk in it!”

Nice try, Meredith!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Videos of Mer

Here are some videos Aunt Shannon took last Wednesday. I tried to get the video screen up on the blog but I guess I'm just not that techno savvy.

S'up Girlfriend?

Quoting her bible verse.

Singing You Are My Sunshine.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Book Club #3

Last night the book club—I’m thinking we should probably get a proper name at some point—met and discussed Thrity Umrigar’s The Space Between Us.

Other than the fact that the ending was a little bit contrived, I thought it was a decent read. Not my favorite but definitely something that made me think and broadened my horizons a little bit.

The book is a novel set in modern day Bombay and is written from the perspective of two different women, from different classes. One woman is a wealthy Parsi and the other woman is her downcast servant who lives in the slums.

As the author states in the back of the book, “The novel deals with a relationship that, despite all the good will in the world, is ultimately based on the exploitation of one human being by another.”

This brought up some interesting discussion about the existence of class inequity in the modern world and whether or not there are any parallels in America. There were also some sub-issues that were interesting to discuss including abortion, women’s rights, failed marriages, choosing denial over truth, etc.

Of course, food is an essential ingredient of any book club. I made naan bread for the first time and bought some spicy mango chutney to go along with it. Since I wasn’t sure if anyone would care for the bread/chutney, I made an old favorite, orange ice cream cups. Oranges grow in India, yes? Yes. So, therefore, that was appropriate too.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Neither Kevin nor I are into horror films. I don’t mind suspense movies with jump scenes, when I’m in a certain mood and up for a scare, but I generally would rather not see depictions of ghastly evil constantly portrayed for two hours. I was, however, glad that we watched The Exorcism of Emily Rose last night.

Several months ago I got the film from the library and started watching it. By myself. At night.

After the opening scene, showing an eerie pumpkin patch, I turned it off and decided to wait until I had more company. Last night Kevin’s sisters and our pastor came over to watch it with us. I'm glad I waited.

It was very interesting to see a film where Faith vs. Reason was on trial. The film also brought up a host of questions about exorcism and demon possession. Apparently Emily Rose is based on a true story. Some of our discussion afterwards centered on how common or real is demon possession and can it happen to a true believer with the Holy Spirit residing in them.

If you’re up for it—and have people to watch it with you—I would recommend seeing it, if only for the reason that it will make you think. And if you’re into horror, you might also be entertained.

“In many of the documented cases [of demon possession], there are good explanations for [why a person is singled out for it]. There seems to be a pattern of people who get involved in the occult, or people who have been literally placed under spiritual curses. It does seem like there are certain warnings that ought to be avoided. But at the same time, as I read the New Testament, it seems like some of the people who are possessed just are. That they are victims of this fallen world.” –Scott Derrickson (writer/director of The Exorcism of Emily Rose)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Marriage That's Good Enough

I’d love to hear what you guys think about this article (below).

This article made me smile. I think there’s definitely a grain of truth to it. Contentment is a great place to be and always searching for something better can only lead to misery. I like this article and I agree with it. But I guess I can’t relate to this woman entirely because, after nearly five years, I still think Kevin is a saint and he IS my best friend. Either I’m just a lucky girl or my rose-colored glasses have a lot of mileage on them.

A Marriage That's Good Enough
by Corinne Colbert (June 4, 2007)

My husband is not my best friend. He doesn't complete me. In fact, he can be a self-absorbed jerk. We're nearly polar opposites: He's a lifetime member of the NRA who doesn't care for journalists, and I'm a lifelong liberal with a journalism degree. On the other hand, he doesn't beat or emotionally abuse me. He doesn't drink or chase other women. He's a good provider. So I'm sticking with him.

Some people would call that "settling," like it's a bad thing. But I believe in settling.

The Random House Unabridged Dictionary defines "to settle" as "to place in a desired state or order; to quiet, calm or bring to rest; to make stable." In short, it means that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Alas, too many of us buy into a different adage: that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. From movies to magazines to commercials, we're told we should demand more from lives that are, for many of us, pretty good. We're supposed to look better, eat better, find better jobs, be better lovers and parents and workers. A stable marriage isn't enough; it's supposed to be a fairy tale. Perfection is the goal.

But at what cost? Would I really be any happier if I took up yoga and ate more soy? If my spouse wasn't just my partner, but also was my soul mate? I doubt it.

Settling, in my sense, is about acceptance. I'm a pretty happy person, in large part because I'm honest with myself about what I have. My body isn't bikini-worthy, but it's healthy. I'll never write for Rolling Stone as I once dreamed, but I am making a living as a writer. I yell at my sons and let them play too much GameCube, but I'm still a good mom.

Of course, some situations are worth improving. If your weight jeopardizes your health, exercise and change your eating habits. If your job makes you truly miserable, find a new one. If your marriage is toxic, end it. Chances are, though, you probably have what you need: a roof over your head, food on the table, a job that pays the bills, and family and friends. If you're unhappy, ask yourself: Am I unhappy because I really don't have what I need, or because I just want more?

So, yes, I'm settling. Sure, I wish my husband would kiss me more often, tell me he loves me every day, and get as excited about my accomplishments as I do. Emptying the dishwasher without being asked and giving me unsolicited foot massages wouldn't hurt, either.

All that would be nice, but it's not necessary. I'm happy with my husband who, despite his flaws, is a caring father, capable of acts of stunning generosity and fiercely protective of his family. Thinking about him may not set me on fire as it used to, but after 17 years and two kids, our love is still warm. And I believe that's good enough.

A New Park Find

We have enjoyed exploring new parks since moving to this new corner of the world last year. Last Friday we found an amazing park! I saw something online about a kids' movie night being held there. We packed a picnic dinner and headed off. We ended up not staying for the movie but we had a blast eating dinner by the lake and letting Meredith run wild in the squirt park and on the playground equipment.

The squirt park was incredible. It had two large “mushroom” water contraptions that squirted out water and made it flow into a man-made river. The river was shallow but pooled in several areas so kids could splash around. There were natural-looking rock formations and Meredith enjoyed jumping off the rocks into the water. At the end of the “river,” were more water spray features. It was so much fun for us to see our daughter having such a great time.

Then we spent some time drawing chalk art on the sidewalk. And daddy helped Meredith catch several fireflies after it got dark. It was such a great Family Night Out. I love my family!

Friday, June 08, 2007


The other day I spotted this outline Kevin made and thought it was cool. Apparently it’s called a “Whirlybird” outline, something new he learned to organize your thoughts on paper without having a rambling linear outline. Does anyone else out there use this method? I couldn’t really find much info about it online. But, anyway, like I said, I think it’s cool.


Megan is getting married. Soon. We had a fun girls’ night out last night to celebrate—with dinner at Bazbeaux Pizza and then dessert and more good times back at my house. Some of Megan’s friends from China put together a DVD with KC answering questions about him/her/their relationship and we watched it in segments with Megan answering the same questions beforehand. It was a total crack-up!

(Sorry to Heather and Stephanie—the retarded waiter apparently can’t take pictures without cutting off heads!)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Smile, Please

Here is something noteworthy I came across this morning. The first item on the list, “smile,” is something that I appreciate about how my parents raised me. They were always good examples of treating other people positively and greeting them consistently with a good attitude, regardless of what mood they were in or what was going on in their personal lives.

If you think about it, being cheerful toward other people (regardless of how you feel that day) is essentially about loving them. When we are a drag around other people, or are gloomy, we are just pulling them down too.

The ABCs of Family Civility

Adapted from Pier Forni, Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct.

1. Smile. People respond better to those who are positive.

2. Be considerate. Ask yourself, "Is what I am about to say going to encourage and build up the other person, or tear him or her down?"

3. Practice restraint and don't yell or raise your voice.

4. Have the courage to admit it when you are wrong. Avoid ridicule and don't humiliate or demean the other person. You can express your anger without attacking the other person.

5. Accept kindness from others and let others be nice to you.

Alligators, Crayons, and Pink Golf Balls

Lately there has been no question about what is on our nearly-two-year-old daughter's mind. She tells us exactly what she is thinking. This can be both good and difficult. Either way, her fresh perspective often makes us laugh out loud.

“Go on alligator!” said Meredith, at the mall last night. She then pointed to the “escalator.” (Close enough, right?)

“I ate a crayon,” explained Meredith as I was furiously trying to brush a chunk of brown that was stubbornly clinging to her tooth. As I was brushing the tooth, I was puzzled by the brown substance. I asked out loud (more talking to myself than to Meredith), “What on earth is stuck on this tooth?”

“Get mine pink ball!” said Meredith as she watched her daddy get his golf clubs out of the garage. I had no idea what this meant. Later I found out (from Kevin) that he often lets her knock around a hot pink golf ball with his putter. She just wanted to be part of the action.

Betcha Got One!

As we were driving along a major road the other day we noticed a run-down apartment complex with six or eight units. In each of the balconies of the apartments, there were little charcoal grills.

It made me reflect on the home and garden show we attended several months ago. At the show we were dazzled with numerous high-end, built-in grills featured in various displays.

These ponderings made me realize how much grilling is a part of every American’s experience, regardless of your socioeconomic status. Whether you spend $20 on your grill or $20,000 on your built-in grill patio, if you are an American you likely have one.

And, seriously, who can blame Joe American for reveling in the delicious summer ritual of a smoky, juicy piece of semi-charred meat?

Friday, June 01, 2007

Links are Back Up and World Rejoices

The links are back up (in no particularly logical order) thanks to the fact that someone whose name begins with an "M" took a long nap today. The links' order will likely change in the near future but, in the meantime, maybe you'll discover new links, and perhaps even new friends, because of the randomness ... you never know.

I learned my lesson that I need to save them in one document, html format, before I decide to give my webpage another facelift. Thankfully they were at least all saved in my favorites folder. (I know a lot of you folks out there are thankful too since I got a lot of e-mail requests and complaints when I originally took them down!)

Happy blogging,

Recent Family Quotes

“That wife picked it up!” –Meredith (in response to a very obese 20-ish woman who picked up a bag of chips she took from our cart and threw in the aisle at the grocery store. She gets confused about the whole mother/wife/woman thing and will randomly call people whatever role she chooses at the time).

“How about some fishy crackers?” –Meredith (to her grandma as they were grocery shopping and she spotted a bag of them in the check out lane).

“Some people are miserable and don’t even know it.” –Amy (referring to a very interesting neighbor of ours whom she is still trying to figure out).

“You are worth a whole head of gray hairs. Maybe even two heads.” –Kevin (to Amy when she asked him if she’s worth the four gray hairs she’s given him this past year).

“I thought it tasted different.” –Kevin (this morning after Amy asked him if he realizes he is using her toothbrush).

What's Up

Kevin is working every spare moment on a writing-competition-thing for school. Poor guy is still waiting for his summer to begin. To make matters worse, he really hasn’t had much time to adequately work on it, either. It’s just been a busy week with various personal commitments.

Amy is trying to be a good mom and failing most days. The “whining toddler” phase is very trying for her. She seriously thinks it’s worse than the “fussy newborn” phase. Do you realize how difficult it is to deal with a toddler who simply cannot be pleased, regardless of what you do, and whines about everything? Amy wishes she had a nickel for every time she tells Meredith, “I cannot hear what you are saying when you whine. You need to ask nicely with a smile and then I can hear you.” Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Meredith is enjoying being a kid to the fullest extent possible. Every day brings some new fun thing in her life. This week she went to Brown County and went hiking for the first time without being carried or riding in daddy’s backpack, she went to the park twice including the water “squirt park” by our house, went swimming in her pool, went to the Children’s Museum, and on Wednesday was thoroughly spoiled by every member of Kevin’s family while mommy got her work deadline done. Yes, she has a good life, despite her quite imperfect mother.

Tonight Kevin and Amy are going to dinner with friends—yes, it’s an adults-only event. As much as we all love our children, a break now and then is nice too.