Saturday, September 27, 2008

The kids and I went to the zoo today...

...with just one stroller. For Maren. Isaac didn't sit in it at all, but Annie did.

It's been 11 months and a couple of days since Isaac got sick, and I thought the day might never come when he'd be strong enough to walk around the zoo for three hours. But today he proved me wrong. Of course, he was so tired that I had to carry him all the way from the Children's Zoo to the car, but he bickered with Bryce over the zoo map all the way home in the car, so I don't think he did any permanent damage.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I love you tomorrow...

...because you'll be taking my big kids away!

That's right, after two long weeks, Bryce and Annie and the rest of the kids in our ISD are headed back to school tomorrow.

And not a moment too soon.

If you have to dry the dishes and you drop one on the floor...

Now that I'm a cub scout leader, my Tuesday nights are spent ferrying smelly little boys to and from the church. On this particular Tuesday, I pointed four of them towards my van and wandered over to talk to a friend. When I finally opened the front door to climb in the car, I met major calamity.

Kid #1: "Sister M, Sister M, Bryce is being lewd. You have to make him stop!"
Kid #2: "Yeah, he just said something absolutely foul and disgusting. He must have a really bad vocabulary to stoop to use those words."
Me (fearing the worst): "What did he say?"
Kid #1: "He was telling the story of a guy named [whispered] Naked Man...
Kid #2: "...and talking about how he pees and poops."
Kid #1: "Isn't that disgusting?"
Me: "Bryce, knock it off, at least until your friends get out of the car."
Bryce (pretending he can't hear): "So Naked Man went to the soccer game...."
Kid #1: "Sister M!!!! He's still doing it!"
Kid #2: "Yeah, his vocabulary is totally crappy."
Kid #1: "Yeah, crappy."

The squabbling continued in the same manner until we dropped the boys off. Maybe their mom won't let me drive their carpool anymore (and if you're reading this, know that I'm totally joking). I guess I'm leading my kids down into evil paths of sin by allowing them to use such vulgar words. "Urinate" and "tinkle" were the only proper bathroom words allowed in Eddie's house growing up. In my house we would have laughed at any kid who used the words "urinate" and "tinkle." I love bathroom words, and my kids say them all. They may not be well-mannered, but at least I'm consistent, right?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Book #67: The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up too Much

Title: The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up too Much?
Author: Leslie Bennetts

Bennetts explores the reasons why upper-middle-class professional women shouldn't quit their day jobs to stay at home with their kids. She makes arguments for loss of earning power, loss of sharp brain function, loss of job skills, loss of independence, and age and gender discrimination.

Bennetts makes excellent points in her book, most convincingly the argument that giving up a career entirely limits a woman's economic freedom, putting her in "golden handcuffs" to her husband. And what if the man leaves, gets disabled or dies? I've actually made some changes in my own life since reading the book, like taking a more hands-on approach to our finances (I'm not really that interested in them, but I guess it's like eating my vegetables) and trying to put into place some long-term strategies to get back into doing what I love professionally. But Bennetts's attitude really rubbed me the wrong way. She insists that she's not adding to the Mommy Wars in any way, but she's much more Howard Stern than Neal Conan. I actually think a more accurate title for the book would be: The Feminine Mistake: You're Giving Up Too Much, But I'm Not, Neener-neener-neener. She goes on and on (and on) glorifying her own life, her own husband and her own choices to be a working mom. Basically her point is that if you're a SAHM without your own bank account and your own income, your future is in peril. And if you plan to SAH after your kids go back to school, well then you're really throwing away your life.

Book #66: Netherland

Title: Netherland
Author: Joseph O'Neill

Following 9/11, Hans van den Broek finds himself living alone in Manhattan after his wife and son return to their native London. In order to deal with his loneliness, van den Broek joins a cricket club and finds himself learning about a whole different side of NYC.

This book reminded me a lot of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and Absurdistan, both contemporary viewpoints of immigrant experiences in New York. But I liked it better than either of those books. It was slightly improbable that closed-off, buttoned-up van den Broek, too reserved to go chasing after his beloved wife and son, would end up spending his weekends playing cricket with Pakistanis and Trinidadians and get involved in a mafia-esque operation in Staten Island, but that's where O'Neill takes us. I found myself rooting for van den Broek and his family as the novel progressed.

Book #65: The Gathering

Title: The Gathering
Author: Anne Enright

When Veronica Hagerty's brother Liam commits suicide, she confronts the demons of their past and current lives, focusing on the lingering effects of sexual abuse.

First of all, I know from past reading experience that the Booker Prize doesn't always go to an author's best work, but often to their most recent work once they've achieved a certain status as an author (take Ian McEwan's Amsterdam, for example). This is the first time I've read anything by Anne Enright, and although it was a fine book, and I could identify with her struggle as a SAHM to find purpose once her kids started getting older, I found the main character, Veronica Hagerty, so unlikeable that it was hard to fall in love, or even really like, with this book. But then again, I've never been so brought down by grief or loss that maybe it's just hard to understand her perspective.

Book #64: Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's

Title: Look Me in The Eye: My Life With Asperger's
Author: John Elder Robison

A memoir written by Augusten Burroughs's older brother (you know, from Running with Scissors fame?) about living with Asperger's and learning to see his condition as a strength.

I think a lot of people feel like an autism diagnosis requires children and parents to completely reevaluate what they're going to get out of life. I know that when Bryce was (mis)diagnosed at three, I worried about if he'd be able to go to "regular" school, if he'd ever hold a job, and if he'd get married. Robison, whose childhood would have provided ample fodder for a memoir even without Asperger's, didn't get diagnosed until he was 40, had already been married, had risen through the ranks of executive power, and eventually decided to start his own successful business. He's honest about both his struggles and his successes, and talks about how diagnosis has helped him understand himself, and not how it has limited him.

Made me want to read: Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs and Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin

Monday, September 22, 2008

Signed, sealed, on its way to being delivered...

...the job contract, that is.

I braved the post office with all four kids today (yep, still out of school) to mail Eddie's employment contract for the next two years.

You want to know where we're moving, don't you?

Well, I'll say this-- when I cryptically told people almost two months ago that we knew which job we were taking and were waiting to sign the contract, that was a different contract for a different job. We were so darn sure we were going to sign with that group that I spent the second half of our summer vacation in Utah scoping out houses and vacant lots. Then we got home, he got offered a job with a group where he wasn't expecting an offer, and after several weeks of consideration and flip-flopping back and forth, we eventually decided to take that job.

Without further ado-- Salt Lake City, here we come! Just as soon as school gets out. Which, depending on how long they end up staying out of school for the hurricane, could be a very long time from now.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


It's not so much that we went without power for three days, or that we need a new roof, or that we got sorta scammed on the temporary repair of our current roof, or that most of our fence is lying in our backyard, or that we had to throw out the entire contents of our refrigerator and freezer, or that all six of us spent an entirely sleepless night listening to roof tiles blow off our house, or that we didn't have DSL for more than a week, or that we're still lacking normal everyday essentials like ice cream and grape juice, or that the gym is still closed, or that I've run more than 60 miles on my treadmill in the last 10 days, or that our bedroom ceiling needs to be repainted; it's that the kids have now been out of school for almost two weeks (with no end in sight) and they are driving each other, and more importantly me, absolutely freaking bonkers.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Running from the storm

Hurricane Ike is headed our way-- if it stays on current course, we can expect to take a fairly direct hit early Saturday morning. We're about 45 miles inland and we haven't decided if we're going to evacuate or not yet. Eddie is leaning towards evacuating, but his motivations aren't the best-- he wants to make sure he doesn't miss the BYU football game on Saturday afternoon. Other than all of the normal worries about safety and our house, I'm mostly stressing about how the heck I'm going to fit in my last 22-miler on Saturday...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I guess I just committed myself to at least seven more months of long runs...

I signed up for the Boston Marathon this morning. Is the feeling in the pit of my stomach excitement or dread? I can't tell yet....

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Not it

When Maren was a baby, I used any excuse in the book to put her picture on my blog. I realized the other day that her cute little face has been mighty scarce 'round these parts of late, so here she is. And yeah, that's a Halloween outfit. I know it's still summer-- wanna make something of it?

Tough talk from me, right? I'm not the only one talking tough these days. The main difference between my first child and my fourth child at twenty months is that my first child (who was still an only child at that point) believed the whole world revolved around him. His parents catered to his every whim, lying down with him at bedtime, never eating out at restaurants where he couldn't get his food immediately, reading him dozens of books each day. The fourth child, on the other hand, knows what it's like to be part of a crowd. More importantly, she knows how to shirk blame. Last night at dinner, Eddie was asking the kids about their day. "Who got 100 on their spelling test?" Annie raised her hand and said, "me!" Maren raised her hand and proudly shouted, "Not me! Not me!" It's her new catch phrase.

"Who made this mess?"
"Not me!"
"Who took off this poopy diaper?"
"Not me!"

She's been deflecting attention from herself so well that I guess I forgot to put up pictures of her. Another peril of being a fourth child, I guess...

Book #63: Breaking Dawn

Title: Breaking Dawn
Author: Stephenie Meyer

Edward and Bella finally get married (spoiler alert), procreate, and live immortally ever after. Jacob imprints. The end.

That's the short version. Meyer's is the long version. The at-least-200-pages-too-long version. Argh. I really like the woman's stories, but she is so in need of a good editor it's not even funny. When JK Rowling wrote a 700 page book, I felt like it was because she was exploring the minutae of the wizarding world, not because her prose needed tightening. I didn't notice it as much in the first two books in the series, but in both The Host and Breaking Dawn, the lack of tightness really made it hard for me to get lost in the plots. And the plot this time? Meh. I mean, I was rooting for Bella and Edward to get married and for Jacob to imprint, so I felt rewarded in that regard. But the ending? Lame. The speeded-up pregnancy? Oh-so-weird. The name Reneesme. Gag me. Still, it was fun. And I finished it. But I'm not quite as excited about picking up the book on Edward's perspective. For one thing, I know it's coming right on the heels of her other two books, so I doubt her editor has had much time for chopping.

I know I'm forgetting a book (maybe two)

Something I read after The Last Lecture but before Stiff. But for the life of me I cannot remember what it was. Oh well.

Book #62: The Miracle at Speedy Motors

Title: The Miracle at Speedy Motors
Author: Alexander McCall Smith

Yet another installment in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. This time Mma Ramotswe and her cast of characters destroy a heart-shaped bed, and reunite a long-separated brother and sister.

I always pick up these books at the library, and then put off reading them, because I think I'm not going to like them. And while it's true that seem almost too innocent, too hopeful, I usually decide, like I did with The Miracle at Speedy Motors, that occasionally, reading about Mma Ramotswe's Botswana is just what I need. I always laugh that these books are classified as mysteries, because the greatest mystery in this book is whether or not a woman's long-deceased mother is really her mother. Instead, the book is mostly about family, friendship, rootedness to place, and living with purpose.

Book #61: Spook

Title: Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife
Author: Mary Roach

Mary Roach wears her scientist's hat and looks into various avenues to prove the existence of an afterlife.

After reading Bonk and Stiff, I probably should have waited a few weeks before jumping into Spook. But I was so turned on (literally?) after her other books, that I couldn't wait. Spook was a bit of a disappointment. Although written with the same wit and following approximately the same format as her other works (each book has about 300 pages and tackles in 10 or so chapters various loosely-related experiences which tie into her main theme), it lacked the "ew gross"ness of Stiff or the bawdy humor of Bonk. But she does look at a great variety of experiences, from reincarnation stories in India, to Oujia boards, to how electromagnetic fields can make people think they're seeing ghosts, to scientific studies proving near-death experiences. It's a good read, just not as good as her others.

Book #60: Bonk

Title: Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex
Author: Mary Roach

Mary Roach's newest book, in which she tackles the science of sex.

If I thought Mary Roach talking about cadavers was funny, I should have known that she'd outdo herself in Bonk. How could you not love an author who, in the name of scientific research, enlists her husband in participating in a sex study-- and then writes about the experience? I laughed so hard that Eddie decided that he had to read it, then he read all of the funny passages back to me. I'll say this-- if you're fainthearted about sex, this might not be the book for you. Or rather, maybe you should read it and have your eyes opened. I know that I, for one, will never look at my electric toothbrush quite the same way again.

Book #59: Stiff

Title: Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
Author: Mary Roach

Can writing about dead people be funny? If you're Mary Roach, apparently it can. She discusses anatomy-class cadavers, crash test cadavers, cadavers in mortuaries, cadavers in the wild-- she runs the whole gamut of the recently departed.

I'd heard about Stiff from lots of people over the last few years, but never got around to reading it. I'm so glad I finally broke down and delved in. It was such a funny read. I would sit up in my bed at night, giggling. But at the same time I was learning all sorts of interesting and random facts about what happens to our bodies after we die. Before reading Stiff, I hadn't given much thought about what would happen to me after I cease to be me. I figured that my kids would put me in a box and bury me, or possibly incinerate me. But now that I know that I could decompose in a forest, get strapped into a vehicle and crash at high speeds, get cut apart by eager medical students, or even get turned into freeze-dried fertilizer, I feel like I have so many choices. I think I'll go with fertilizer.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Throwing in the diaper...

About eight months ago, Maren got a diaper rash from hades. I couldn't get it to go away and six months ago turned to cloth diapers as what I thought would be a very temporary last resort. Surprisingly, they weren't so bad. I got used to scraping poop into the toilet and tossing in an extra load of laundry before bed. I realized that I loved the smell of the lavender I was using in the drying cycle, and also liked the feeling that I was doing my part for the planet.

The honeymoon lasted about four months. Then we went on vacation and used disposables the whole time. Around the same time, Maren started going through a naked phase, and the velcro tabs on the diapers were irresistibly easy to open. But I persisted. I liked the idea of cloth diapers too much to give up on them.

Maren, however, had other ideas. Over the last two weeks, every time I put a cloth diaper on Maren, it's either fallen off immediately (the velcro isn't holding so well any more) or she'd come to me within five minutes, holding a disposable and saying "new diaper, Mama." I've found too many wet spots on the carpet to count. So I'm listening to the kid and going back to disposables.

The good news is that she's also started informing me that she needs to poop before she actually goes. She has yet to go in the potty yet, but I have high hopes that I might be able to say "bye bye" to diapers for the first time in more than 8 years. Probably not, but a girl can dream, can't she?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

90 seconds...

My "regular" pace on the treadmill: 7:14min/mi
My "regular" pace running outside: 7:30min/mi
My pace when pushing 90lbs of kids and jogging stroller: 9:00min/mi (and lots of huffing and puffing)

I took Isaac and Maren out for a run this morning. I had 55 minutes, and figured that I could get in at least 7 miles, maybe 8 if I really pushed it. Uh-uh. Six miles. Yeah, I had to stop a few times to pick up things they dropped and take a drink, but mostly I was just a lot slower. It's been a long time since I've run regularly with the jogger and it totally shows! Now I know what I need to work on...

Monday, September 1, 2008

Do I have to wear the shirt?

Many years ago, I said there were three callings I never wanted to have.

The next year I was called as a stake missionary. The thing I hated most was that stupid name tag.

I got released as the Visiting Teaching coordinator about six months ago.

And I just got called to a new one, that involves this:

Go ahead, mock me. I'm mocking me too.