Sunday, April 30, 2006

What a Weekend

Friday evening we had dinner with friends, then cajoled the kids into sleeping while we watched the "season premier" of Alias.

Saturday morning, Paul, Ellie, and I went to the Moolah Shrine Circus. Ellie rode a pony! That afternoon/evening, we went to see Disney's The Wild.

Sunday morning was church, where Ellie performed wonderfully and didn't seem to think it at all strange that she should be doing so in front of hundreds of people. Then, in the afternoon, a good friend of mine (both a good friend and a good friend) took me to the Cardinals game. Yeah, that's right. At the new Busch Stadium. Where seats are almost impossible to come by. And she had tickets for the Cardinals Club section. And it was a great game.

Then we all had dinner over at our minister's lovely home with her husband and two young children.

Awesome weekend. Now I need a weekend so that I can recover!


When I'm thinking about people I like, I play this little game. I pretend that I have a huge pile of money and I can use it to buy things for people. I'm not talking about ending world poverty here, just nice things that I'd like to do for people.

I'd like to buy my mom a new Prius. Like, immediately.

And while I'm thinking of it, my mother-in-law has always dreamed of having a Mustang convertible.

And I'd really really love to pay for a friend of mine to have as many cycles of IVF as she wants.

Now you go.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

At-Home Thursday

Ellie didn't sleep much last night. For the last couple of days, she's been ranging farther afield and playing more independently while awake, but wanting to be held and cuddled constantly at naptime and at night. Preferably with deep eye contact and intermittent but priceless smiles. Smiles is too dim a word; it's pure love beaming from her beautiful little face. It's precious; it's wonderful; it's completely understandable. It's also a little hard to see the forest for the trees in the middle of the second night of interrupted sleep.

This morning started early, especially for Paul. He got up with Ellie to let me "sleep in," which, as is usually the case, was not very effective but I appreciate it very much anyway.

He left for work, and we got ready for the day. Ellie's Developmental Therapist ("Special Instruction," special ed for the under-3 set, Parents As Teachers Parent-Educator x 10, school diagnostician, etc.) arrived at 8:30 for a productive hour-long session.

After she left, Ellie went potty and we had a talk about the merits of sleep versus library story time given the previous night's lack of rest. She chose sleep, but fewer than 10 minutes into the warm-up, she looked up at me mischievously and said, "Potty?" Unlikely to be true so soon after an extended session on that throne, but an effective stalling technique.

We gave up on an early nap and went to story time. This was perhaps a bad idea, but it was definitely a better idea than both of us being home and cranky. There was a minor injury (mom's fault) and some fussing (the exhaustion's fault) and we ended up leaving story time a little early.

We went to Creve Coeur Park to swing for a little while, in an attempt to stay on a normal schedule. By this time it was nearly 11:00. We swang and sang and explored (tiny pebbles! dandelions!) for half an hour or so, then loaded back into the car.

We headed over to daddy's office and picked him up for lunch. Super cool daddy even changed a diaper before heading back in to the daily grind.

Ellie fell asleep on the way home, then slept in her own bed for about 45 minutes. When she woke up, sort of, I brought her into bed with me and we cuddled until she fell asleep again. Eventually I got up and took care of stuff, like the surveyor coming out to mark our property line in preparation for a potential backyard fence.

Ellie continued to sleep. I straightened up the living room. Had some yogurt and read a little. And curled back up around her in bed just before she started to wake up, so that I was there when she opened her eyes. She grinned and closed them again for a little while so that I could watch her chest rise and fall.

We got up, went potty, and she had a snack while I started a pot of chili for dinner. Then we went outside to play, shortly before daddy came home.

Mommy and daddy caught up while pushing Ellie on her new swing (more on that as soon as I remember to take a camera outside with me!) then Ellie got chili while I headed off to yoga.

Ellie and daddy followed along to The Lodge and played in the pool while I moaned through a less-than-total-relaxation yoga class. As always, it ended well.

When I got home, Ellie was nearly asleep. I did get a brief turn with her to remind her that I love her, then it was Sarahlynn and Paul - not mommy and daddy - time.

We ate chili and veggies and watched a Daily Show. Then we drank caffeine- and sugar-free cafe mochas and watched House while sorting mail and folding laundry (washed by daddy!). Paul was passing out by this time, so he headed off to bed.

I finished the weekly menu and grocery list and blogged for a while, before curling up in bed with my book. OK, that last bit was speculative fiction. But I plan to do it soon!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Kids are Cruel

This isn't specifically about having a child with special needs, although that serves as a megaphone to amplify the situation.

Often when I go to pick Ellie up from school on Wednesday afternoons, she's playing by herself. The kids are usually on the playground or in the gym, and her gross motor skills are less developed than those of her peers, so she often sits alone and worn out at the end of a long day while they still have energy to run and climb. Every day, she gets stronger. I know this is true because they tell me so, and because I see it. Every day she has more energy, moves more, does more, lasts longer, wakes earlier, you name it. But still, Ellie is in a class of 2- and 3-year olds, most of whom are older and bigger than she is. And are boys.

I was thrilled when I got to school today and saw Ellie with a group of kids on the playground. They were playing in a little plastic house.

As I got closer, I noticed that she was not happy. In fact, she was alternately fussing in frustration and doing a great job using her signs and words, which were being ignored.

"Hulp! Hulp!" she cried. "Open." She'd pause from signing her version of "help" to tug on the doorknob, which stayed stubbornly shut.

Because a big 3-year-old boy was holding it closed from inside, locking Ellie out. In fact, about three kids were inside that little plastic house. Ellie was looking in through the open window in the side, crying plaintively (and asking nicely!) to be let in. And they were ignoring her.

Heartbreaking for any parent to watch. It's probably not the first time. It certainly won't be the last.


I'm a subdivision trustee, but I'm not great at it. In fact, I'm having serious doubts about the whole system.

Sure, I get that it's nice to have a community association that plans neighborhood events, writes a newsletter, and manages the maintenance of signage and common spaces.

I might even concede that it's pleasant to have some standards, like no chain link fences in front yards. And I admit that I experienced a small amount of ugly glee when someone called the county on the conservative Republicans around the block, who somehow found time to plant Bush signs in their yard, but never to do any sort of property upkeep.

But that's getting into really dangerous territory.

One of the other trustees (there are only 3 of us) called me yesterday to talk about his neighbor. It's true that this yard is in desperate need of a cut. And apparently there's a pile of branches somewhere. A sagging swimming pool tarp that might encourage the breeding of mosquitoes. Etc.

So this trustee called St. Louis County to complain. An inspector showed up the next day, and since the trustee was watching out his window, he was right there to pop out and talk with the inspector. The negligent homeowners were charged with 6 violations (long grass, weeds, wood pile, that sort of thing). They have to go to court and they're required to fix all the identified problems within 2 days.

You know, I understand that it's neighborly to keep your yard nice. And I sure like looking at people's nice yards.

But I hate yard work. And, sometimes life gets busy. Sometimes things don't look all that perfect around here either. I know that people don't like the weeds under our mailbox (but I hate pulling them because they're covered with the pee of all of the neighborhood's dogs). I bet that our (temporary! I promise!) pile of dead branches isn't a community hit. And sometimes the yard doesn't get mowed quite as often as it should. Should we expect a visit from the county inspector?

See, I think that while it's nice to keep up appearances, it shouldn't be required. What it comes down to, in the end, is that we are homeowners. This is our property. And I know that I sound all libertarian when I say this, but really, I do feel like it's sort of my business what I do on my property.

To some extent. And drawing that line is where the trouble starts. How many feet from the back of the house is that garden shed? Is that new picket fence in your backyard vinyl or wood? Precisely how many inches tall is your lawn? Have you done enough to beautify your mailbox area?

Frankly, I just don't care. And that's why I'm a lousy trustee. I don't like noticing that the pile of soil these folks have had delivered has been in their driveway so long that it's starting to sprout grass, or that the garden tools are visible through the missing door of that shed.

But it's slightly nicer to be in the meetings where this sort of thing is discussed, rather than finding out that there are problems later, and in an ugly manner. I wish that we could all just laugh about it. Surely there are more important uses for our energy, our passion?

Monday, April 24, 2006

A Joyful Noise

Last week, I had so many things to blog that I was restraining myself from blogging twice a day or more. Now I can actually get to my computer again, after nearly a week away, and I've got nothing.

Well, not quite nothing. I've got bloggy happiness to report. Paul decided that this whole computer-in-the-guestroom thing isn't working out much better than the computer-on-the-kitchen-table thing (which I also disliked, though for somewhat different reasons). So he decided to buy me a new computer! A laptop! And a new desk upon which to keep it, something simple that will look OK in the front room, against the windows that invite beautiful, glorious sunlight into our home every afternoon.

I am ecstatic! I'm a little confused about why "my" new computer needs a dual DVD burner, but I'm not looking this gift horse in the mouth and I'll try to look the other way whenever he borrows it. As long as he doesn't clutter my desktop with icons. One column is plenty, people! That's why folders were invented!

Actually, we had a very nice week and weekend. And it's also nice to be home alone again. Ellie went down quickly and easily tonight, and then Paul and I celebrated our first quiet evening in a long time by watching TV. Sadly, we're still about two weeks behind on most of our shows, but we're staying just ahead of the TiVo auto-delete (as our hard drive fills) and plan to finish April sweeps before fall premiers.

The APO Alumni Banquet was lovely last night, and the 12-year-old babysitter did wonderfully with Ellie. She even had time to study for today's math test, after Ellie went to sleep.

"What kind of math are you taking?" I asked. Then a slow suspicion began to grow in my mind.

"Oh, it's not my best subject right now. We're learning to multiply and divide fractions and decimals."

Yes, that is hard. But when I first asked the question, it hadn't occurred to me that she is only in 6th grade and therefore not in a math class that has a specific name yet. Presumably, pre-algebra doesn't even start until next year. Wow. But she's awesome and Ellie loves her.

Everything else is fun and lovely and wonderful, and hardly worth mentioning now. I'm so excited to be heading off to bed soon! But first I will mention that Ellie's "choir" will be "performing" in church next Sunday. Oh, yes. The 18- to 35-month olds will be making a joyful noise to the Lord.

We hope. Because if they don't, it will just be the moms/dads/grandmas/grandpas who usually accompany the kids to class who will be carrying the tune. And, especially in my case, this is not a lovely sound at all. Luckily for everyone, I don't video or audio blog! Sleep well.

Friday, April 21, 2006


As those who regularly cruise our street and assess our driveway traffic situation are well aware, we've got an out-of-town guest this week/end. Since she's staying in the guest room, along with "my" computer, I'm away from the blog. Except for this brief surely-not-from-work note!

I should be back on Monday. Until then, please enjoy those many pictures of Ellie when you stop by.

And if you know what "Alpha Phi Chapter of Alpha Phi Omega" means, I hope to see you on Sunday night!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Ellie loves sidewalk chalk

Ellie, Lizzi, and Dora lounge

Ellie is a terrific tutor/role model

Ellie expresses her patriotism

And serious reservations about her government

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Pet Peeves

I was at a meeting this morning. It was a (completely voluntary! supposedly fun!) meeting at church, not at work, so there's no lawsuit to file.

We were sharing concerns and one woman was talking about her troubled relationship with her mother. This grew into a larger discussion of the way that women interact, and culminated in this woman saying, "And we wonder why people hire men over women!"

Because, you know, women are always so sensitive, and we take everything out of context, and we spend so much time dealing with personal issues instead of getting the job done, and, really, it's so much easier to deal with men. !!!

Now, my response was not nearly as smooth as I wish it could have been, but I did make it clear that I thought that these over-generalizations were ludicrous and offensive. We moved on.

Afterwards, she tried to apologize. Fortunately, Ellie was ready to go and interrupted her rather uncomfortable and rambling apology before that part at the end where I would be socially required to say, "It's OK."

Because it isn't. And I wouldn't say it. Who needs Men's Rights Activists when a group of women can run ourselves down without any outside assistance? Completely aside from the fact that all women and all men aren't cut from gender-appropriate-behavior cookie cutters, and completely aside from the fact that most of these gender-specific manners of relating are socialized, not genetic:

Let's not forget the fact that women, in general, are often considerate of others in work situations. And that women, in general, are often considered to be "good team players," an apparent workplace benefit.

And, besides, if we hired more men than women, who'd book the conference rooms, make sure that the coffee is fresh, and bring baked goods on people's birthdays? And women's work apparel livens up a conference room. So there's that.

In honor of my frustration, this is a Pet Peeves discussion. Here are a few of mine. Please share some of your own!
  • When my mother-in-law sends package after package of season-specific really big clothes for Ellie. It always seems like a comment on my growing a puny child or something.
  • The way that Paul always thinks I'm staring at him whenever I glance out of a window on "his" side of the car
  • The way people pile up in the left of two left-turn lanes onto the highway, blocking traffic and making me late
  • People who stop their cars when they should be merging
  • When Ellie whines and whines and whines and whines
  • Disability-first language (e.g. "Down's baby," which I hear a lot)
  • When Paul falls asleep while we're watching TV
  • Feet touching me
OK, now you go!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Home, Sweet Home

Or, Going Home: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I have no problem using "home" interchangeably to refer to both where I live with Paul and Ellie and where my parents live.

Home is definitely St. Louis. But there are some things about my parents' place that still feel like home too. Like the incomparable Indiana Dunes State Park/National Lakeshore. And the atmosphere.

"Home" at Mom and Dad's is where I can act like a lazy bump on a log, hiding my nose in a book for hours if I can find a good spot to do so: quiet and out of the way enough to read in peace, but close enough to keep up with what's going on. In practice, this is a fruitless pursuit. You're either secreted upstairs in your bedroom with the door closed, or pretty soon someone's handing you something to do.

And "home" at Mom & Dad's is where we revert to our old resentments and patterns of interacting.

Paul, Ellie, and I arrived on Friday night, and I was keyed up from the long drive. Unfortunately, everyone else was exhausted and ready for bed. This limited Super Fun Family Time to just Saturday plus Sunday morning.

Saturday night, after dinner, is prime family time. I'm known for pushing board games, so I consciously dialed it back this trip. I am, however, the only firstborn child in the bunch, so I have to take the lead or we spin our wheels endlessly.

I suggested a card game we've all enjoyed. Two family-favorite TV shows we have brought on DVD. A movie of the three they rented for the weekend. And, as always, a board game.

Nobody moved. I brought out a board game we've laughed at before and started rereading the directions. Middle Sister turned on the movie she'd started earlier in the day and people watched the rest of it.

This happened to be the one movie they rented that I was not interested in seeing, and certainly wasn't interested in starting in the middle of.

I stuck it out for a while, as people drifted in and out, snacking, and eventually I gave it up and went to read in another room.

Later, as I was heading up to bed, the movie ended. "I guess we should appease Sarahlynn and play a bored game," Middle Sister said. Gee, thanks.

This is the way it always goes. Middle Sister is not malicious, but she looks after herself first. And everyone goes along with it.

Such a small thing. But the one true family night of our all-too-rare time together was spent watching parts of a movie that only Middle Sister had followed from the beginning.

If I complain, I am petty and just trying to get my own way - even if "my own way" is that we all do something - almost anything! - that we agree upon together.

Best of all, I feel petty and childish and surly about the whole thing, which is so much fun. Flashback.

I love my family. I love spending time with them. They're smart, and funny. We have a lot in common: we have similar politics, we all love NPR, we enjoy (mostly) similar TV shows. But we all know different stuff, so we have great discussions.

But it always seems to come down to me wanting to get everyone together, wanting to do something fun, just plain wanting and needing more.

And no one likes to be in that position.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter!

First, a clarification. Because we talk about things like this, my dad said that "Maundy" is from the Latin "to wash," referring to Christ washing the feet of the disciples.

As Jesus washed the disciples' feet, he talked of the importance of serving one another. [Faith, without works, is nothing, after all.] And from there, John writes of the new commandment Jesus gave to the disciples:
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.
Now that that's cleared up, moving right along.

We had a lovely Easter at my parents' house in Northwest Indiana, where, surprisingly, it was warm and even sunny. Ellie did fantastically throughout the 14+ hours she spent in the car this weekend.

She loved hunting for plastic Easter eggs:

She also had an absolutely fabulous time at the beach on Saturday:

And while I'm in a picture posting mood, here's a "before" picture of me, and a "during" picture. (We're not quite to "after" yet!)

Here's hoping this serves as motivation for me! I've had a weekend off, and now I'm back on the (sugarless) wagon.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Love One Another

8:15 am
Edited to add: She slept through the night! Wahoo!

8 Hours Earlier:

It's late and I'm headed off to bed (like, an hour ago!) so no new creativity tonight. But I did add a few link backs, so if you link to me please look for yourself at right. And if you're not there, please let me know!

Also, I got a great Save the Date! card today. My youngest sister is getting married this summer. It's going to be an incredible wedding - beautiful and fun. The dress will be formal, but we'll be outdoors at an alpaca farm. And one of the wedding colors is chocolate brown. Her inspiration piece is a picture from an African banquet. I can't wait!

Here's hoping that I can get in at least an hour of sleep before Ellie wakes up. And that I don't hate myself in the morning for putting off so many things until I have more energy. When have I ever had more energy in the morning? Never, that's when.

So, just one thought for tonight, before my brain peters out. Today (or yesterday, as the case may be) was the Thursday before Easter, Maundy Thursday.
The word "maundy" comes from the command given by Christ at the Last Supper, that we should love one another.

It's now Good Friday, so I should put on my solemn and tone down the exclamation points. I'll be back again on Monday.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Yawn, Growl

This doesn't feel like one of Ellie's sleep diets, but my exhaustion and lack of patience are certainly the same.

Sunday was an overwhelming day and Ellie slept hard that night. Monday afternoon to Tuesday afternoon, she ran a low-grade fever. Monday night she couldn't sleep until we gave her some Tylenol; then she slept like a log. Tuesday night she was not running a fever anymore, so no Tylenol. And no sleep.

Paul and I tried to take turns but were so groggy that we couldn't even do that effectively. I would be surprised if any of us got 2 hours of consecutive sleep all night. I had an all-day meeting at work on Wednesday and by Wednesday night, all three of us were toast.

Ellie went down quickly last night and slept hard until 1:48 am. I remember the time because it took me a long, long time to realize that it was the actual time. I pulled Ellie up into our bed when she came in, babbling happily, and took my basal body temperature. I started to record the temp and the time and realized that something didn't make sense.

I tried to explain what was going on to Paul, who was ambulating about, but he was too asleep to comprehend what I was saying. He took Ellie out to her potty to start the morning routine, and kept staring at the clock on the VCR thinking that it must be on, with the timer set almost 2 hours into a movie. Finally, he realized that it was 1:something am and not morning after all.

(As you can see, we're not used to a happy, chattering toddler waking us up in the middle of the night.)

But Ellie wouldn't go back to sleep. Nor would she stay in her bed. Or even in her bedroom. No amount of cuddling, loving, firm speech, or bribery could convince her to play or sleep quietly. And whenever we brought her into bed with us - often a wonderful way to extend naptime - she had boundless energy and would alternately kick us and bounce on us while chattering in a very high-pitched manner. Shutting her into her bedroom produced screams and very real tears.

And we were just too tired to think clearly enough to come up with anything else. She screamed and then collapsed limply in our arms when either of us would snuggle her up and go into her room. So we took turns sitting in the rocking chair with her most of the night for the last two nights.

What's worst is that this is mostly between 2:00 am and 6:00 am, my critical sleeping time.

And I don't know why it's happening so I don't know how to fix it or when it might stop on its own.

But I am so tired. I hope for an afternoon nap, send grateful thanks to whomever discovered caffeine, and hope that this "phase," like others that have preceded it, will be over soon.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Three years ago, I was in the middle of two back-to-back business trips, to be followed by an amazing Hawaiian vacation. Ahhhh. Of course, I was carrying my Paul-made portable "morning" sickness bag with me everywhere I went and collapsing on the couch from exhaustion every evening. But I tried not to let it show!

This year, Ellie's two and a half today. Here are some recent shots to mark the occasion:

I call this the Grover series, for obvious reasons:

Here she is, as toddler model and businesswoman:

And, finally, doing serious work with The Map:

Body and Blood

I prefer the waxing moon. The waning moon reminds me of the new moon to come, and it depresses me a little bit each time I notice it. This is odd, because I'm not really much into moon cycles and all that stuff. I never remember whether the black dot or the white dot on the calendar denotes the full moon. But the waxing moon makes me think of excitement building and good things to come, while the waning moon feels like the morning after Christmas. What's to look forward to now?

While I'm thinking of bodies, and having recently written about my weight loss, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Paul. Although Paul started exercising well after I did, and he doesn't usually work out for quite as long as I do, he has lost considerably more weight than I have. Despite popular opinion on the matter, this is not because he had more weight to lose. In fact, he's looking pretty good. I'm trying to be supportive of and happy for him. Not bitter or jealous. Not me. No way.

I did notice the bones in my wrists last night. They're pretty. I like seeing them again, no longer softened into such gentle contours.

Just as interesting are the backs of my hands. After working out last night and tonight, I noticed the veins on the back of my hands. They're not exactly bulging, but I can see them more than normal. I wonder - is this how it begins? First appearing just after exercise then fading more and more slowly until one day I realize that I have visible, ropy veins on the backs of my hands at all times? I loved them on my grandmother. I'm not ready for them on me.

Kind of like the ungraceful way my dark brown hair is starting to change. I do like the shocking white it will become. I'm just not ready for it yet. And the transition will not be subtle.

But this isn't all about age. I have had what I not-so-affectionately refer to as the "Snot Clot" in the back of my throat for many months. It waxes and wanes, but never disappears entirely for long. It's worse when I lie down. Although it doesn't really impede my airway, I tend to feel like I'm suffocating. I think it's leftover from a cold that won't go away. Or it's a tumor.

But there are some things that my body does very well. Like expelling the lining of my uterus each month, right on schedule. I have always had cramps with my period, but only since having been through labor have I really understood them. Before Ellie, there was monthly pain. Now, while the cramps are just as strong as ever, I mind them less.

This is because I feel what they're doing. I understand what's going on. I have a strong muscle memory and I can conceptualize it all more easily. This is not just amorphous pain. This is rhythmic, constructive, effective. It's amazing. I'm not crazy; I don't enjoy the pain. I wish I could curl up in bed and sleep until Cycle Day 3 or so. But I understand it and I respect it.


Please admire my restraint above. I stopped after the period bit and - with some effort - restrained myself from pounding the cyclical/moon/wax/wane/aging body thing home with some nice tidal imagery or something. Perhaps I should have just inserted an image of a sledge hammer for subtlety while I was at it.

Many thanks to Raw Bananny for coming to visit this weekend! I had such a good time! And I love how much Ellie loves you both. And you picked up all the sticks and branches from the yard! You deserve a medal! Ellie has a fever tonight. I hope you're well.

Paul did our taxes tonight. Itemized. In about an hour and a half! Amazing. And we get money back! My first thought was - vacation with Jessica and Scott! Getting to see SBFH! My second thought was - ooooh, the new front porch. We shall see. More fiscally responsible thoughts ran a distant third and below.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Think Partnered Parenting Is Hard?

As I was driving home from work last Wednesday, Ellie allowed me a few minutes of NPR. I'm always glad to catch All Things Considered, and I often enjoy the essays they feature. But the one I heard last week really pissed me off.

Think Partnered Parenting Is Hard? Try Going Solo.

At face value, it seems to make sense. I mean, of course solo parenting is hard. I can't imagine it, myself. I'd have to move to be near family, at least while the child(ren) are too young to help out much.

But single mom Lori Gottlieb went way beyond anecdotes about the challenges she faces and jumped straight into dissing partnered parents. To be more specific, she has it in for married mothers.

I say "married," not "partnered," because the stories she relates don't sound like healthy partnerships to me.
My husband never lifts a finger to help out around the house or with the kids unless I specifically ask him to do a task.

My husband refuses to change a diaper.

My husband will watch the kids so that I can go out from time to time, but he calls it "babysitting" and acts like he's doing me a big favor.

That sort of thing.

You don't know how lucky you are to have a man do anything at all, Gottlieb suggests. When these "great catches" divorce their whiny, harping wives, she'll be there to snatch them up in an instant. No, sadly I am not exaggerating.

Here's the thing, Lori. You went into this parenting thing as a single parent. But a married woman in the 21st Century has a more reasonable expectation of a true partnership, where men aren't "babysitting" or "helping out" with their own homes and children. Men today can be - and should be - full participants rather than spectators in their own home lives.

It's one thing to feel bitter about doing chores when there's no one else around to do them. But it's quite another thing when you're running around the house trying to take care of the child and do everything else while a large lump snores on the sofa.

I get that Gottlieb was trying to be funny. Hah hah. Perhaps she wouldn't have sounded like such a jackass if she could have been clever enough to write a pithy piece about the difficulties of single parenthood without lambasting women who expect partnerships with their husbands and exonerating men who are just flat-out lazy and inconsiderate.

This passes for feminism today?

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Some poor woman who was just doing her job called me this evening. She was from Charter Communications and at first I was very excited to hear from her. Then I realized that she was trying to sell me on VOIP.

"This is a very bad time. You don't want to talk to me about this right now. See, my cable has been out for almost 4 days. I am absolutely not interested in any additional services from Charter at this time."

"Oh! I'm sorry. Have you tried to call-"

"I've tried to call everywhere. I can't get a live person. I can't get an estimate of when they expect the service to be restored. I feel sorry for you having to call people in this area tonight."

It turns out that the cable came back this evening before Lost, and Paul has had good luck finding the Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday shows we watch online. But this is April sweeps; a very bad time to be without TV with no warning. I would have been fine if it had been at the end of the week, but we typically record our favorite shows early in the week and stretch them out all week long. The third to last episode of The West Wing ever. Gray's Anatomy. 24. House. Good stuff.

What happened is this. On Sunday afternoon, after I awoke in a panic, I harried everyone out the door and into the car for an emergency trip to Target to pick up a present. It was beautiful outside: sunny and in the low 80's, with just enough breeze to keep things pleasant.

I knew exactly what I wanted in Target and we broke records getting into and out of the store. We exited into a strong wind from the west and an ominously black horizon. "Wow, that storm is coming up quickly," Paul said.

We drove a few blocks to Ellie's friend's house, and parked at the corner to sign the gift cards. Tree branches started whipping around and the first drops of rain started to fall. We pulled up to the house, where festive balloons danced gaily, tied to the picket fence. Then they fell. I looked at the car's thermometer and saw that the temperature had dropped 30 degrees, right along with the barometric pressure.

I ran to the house to drop off the present in a downpour and had a hard time opening and closing my car door. Moving boxes and new leaves were blowing everywhere.

When I got back into the car, we switched from toddler tunes to NPR, often a controversial move. We learned that a thunderstorm with "extremely strong rotation" was in Valley Park, the suburb just southwest of us, moving northeast at 55 mph.

We decided to drive into it and head on home. Home is only a 4 minute drive from Ellie's friend's house, or it should have been. Paul managed to run us into a couple of dead ends and strange meanders. He never quite approached the speed limit. I was about to push down the gas pedal myself with the wrapping paper roll.

When we got home, the sun was coming back out; the storm had passed us on the road. And we'd missed the worst of it.

If we'd been at home, we would have been down in the basement like sane people. We wouldn't have noticed right away that the wall on our neighbor's garage - just 15 feet or so from our carport (the only place where our house is close to a neighbor's) had pulled away from the rest of the structure.

The "strong rotation" had ripped the whole wall out a bit and strewn contents of their garage over our back yard. Amazing. We were very lucky. But somehow the weather announcer's suggestion that we hop out of our car - in the downpour and with tree branches flying all around - and lie in a ditch with our 2-year-old until the storm passed over us just didn't sound very appealing. I figured we had a better chance in the steel Passatt with its safety glass and 8 airbags.

I bet Paul doesn't groan at me so loudly the next time I wake everyone up to go downstairs when the sirens go off. I used to live in Kansas, where they take tornados very seriously. In Missouri they seem to like crying wolf with the sirens. Fortunately, we have a poofy couch and cable in our basement - most of the time, anyway.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Sweating Up a Storm

My feet hurt. For many years, I've gotten intense pain in the soles of my feet when I'm rollerblading, playing beach volleyball, kickboxing, standing for a long time in pretty shoes, or squatting.

I toughed it out, stopping to stretch my soles over a coke can like I was taught in ballet class years ago. But I wasn't having cramps. My arches were falling and my tough gal routine was not helping them at all.

So about 5-1/2 years ago, I pretty much stopped doing those things that hurt. I did not, however, stop eating. And since inline hockey and kickboxing were my major forms of exercise, and my life was getting increasingly sedentary and stressful, it's no surprise that I started to gain weight.

5-1/2 years ago, I got married. Soon thereafter, my sister had her brain tumor crisis. Then I started a stressful - but fun! - new job. We got a dog. Bought a house. And Paul left to work in Michigan for 10 months, home only on weekends. I kept eating. And not exercising. Everything hurt my feet. And I was too busy, anyway.

For the last 5-1/2 years, I've gained more than 10 pounds per year.

I'm a big believer in exercise over diet. Eating's just too darn fun to quit. Lots of people pledge to lose weight, but get sidetracked along the way. I always felt that I'd start losing weight as soon as I was really ready, and that I'd be successful. It turns out that I wasn't wrong.

In early January of this year, I started doing the South Beach Diet. No sugar, no white starches (white potatoes, white rice, white bread, white pasta, etc.). I knew that it would hurt for a while: Kriegers fries! Yummy sweet baked goods! Easy Mac! Bagel Bites! But eventually it got to the point where being me, and being fat, was even more painful. And the thought of a year on a diet was less painful than the thought of years ahead of me as I was.

My increased weight was affecting my energy. It wasn't helping my poor feet. My blood pressure was still good, but it was higher. I wasn't falling pregnant easily. I wasn't feeling very sexy, either. I knew that I was not being healthy. I missed my strong, healthy body. I decided that it was time to get it back.

South Beach wasn't the immediate miracle for me that it's supposed to be. The weight didn't trip over itself in its hurry to leap from my body in Phase I, as it was supposed to. After a couple of weeks, I transitioned to the more comfortable Phase II, and I began to exercise. I have a cross-trainer in the basement and I worked my way through Sex and the City on DVD.

As I'd hoped, exercise was the golden bullet. I started seeing great results. So I relaxed the diet a tiny bit - once a month I'm allowed a meal out that's not entirely within the diet, though I'm still not bingeing. And I increased the exercise. 20 minute workouts became 30 minute workouts became 45 minute workouts most nights of the week. An episode of Gilmore Girls is 45 minutes including the credits, and I'm zooming through Season I on DVD.

In well under 3 months I've lost more than 30 pounds.

I carried a heavy bag around today, and it occurred to me that just weeks ago, I was carrying that much extra weight with me everywhere I went. Amazing.

I still have about 40 pounds that I'd like to lose, and things are going very well. I'm going to keep doing a general South Beach-like diet until I have retrained my body to stop at enough and not crave the binge. The more I exercise, the more I see that line clearly. I'm loving the way the exercise makes me feel, though I still find the act itself boring and the sweat distasteful.

And the silver lining to the whole not-pregnant thing is that every month I test negative, that's one more month I have to concentrate on getting back into shape before I have to start moderating my diet and exercise to safely incubate a small life.

Monday, April 03, 2006


Here in St. Louis we have a very cool (free!) alternative paper called The Riverfront Times (RFT). Each week, they highlight a "blog of the week," and a couple of weeks ago it was me. They highlighted my Parenting Olympics post (which, I might add, did not translate well onto newsprint without the HTML formatting).

I thought this was pretty cool, so I wore my super phat Snapshirts t-shirt everywhere I went for a week to see if I'd get recognized. (Not really. But I did wear it to the library for Story Time.)

I found out that I was featured because a friend of a friend read it and told him and he called Paul and, well, you see. Anyway, I went along in my way, always a little surprised when I start to tell a story to someone and they've already read it here. In fact, today I got a wonderful surprise hug at work from someone who read my last post (though obviously not at work! who would do that?) and thought I could use it.

But today for the first time I got recognized. And that was interesting. I mean, it wasn't a true stranger recognition. I worked near this person years ago and she read about "Sarahlynn" and thought, gee, I don't know too many "Sarahlynns." But until I post a picture of me that's not two years old, with me hiding behind my daughter, I'm not likely to be truly recognized in public by the multitudes.

So, anyway. I see that the snapshirts link doesn't really work. That's too bad. I totally love my shirt and want to order another one someday. Like, a smaller one. Yay! But more on that tomorrow.

In the meantime, about my constant companion, anxiety. I'm starting my first ever yoga class on Thursday, with a friend so I know that I absolutely have to go. This is good. I signed up for a yoga class once before. I consider it a charitable donation since I didn't attend a single class. But this time, I'll be downward facing dogging on a weekly basis. And then perhaps this knot formerly known as my stomach will relax occasionally.

You know what? I think maybe sometimes it feels good to just be just a little bit unravelly.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

I Am So Sorry

I have been off my game for a while. I've never been the most organized person in the world, though I have my spurts. And I work best on a tight deadline, so I often pull it off at the 11th hour, keeping up appearances. But lately . . .

It's easy to blame it on anything else. Paul was gone for 8 days and I was focused on the house/Ellie/everything else. My toddler picks up everything I set down and hides it. My house is too small/doesn't have an office so that I can keep things organized.

But the truth is that I've been stuck in my own head for a long time. A few years, maybe. And while I have periods where I have everything, everything, everything under control, when I am a thoughtful friend, when I am ORGANIZED, well, there are far more times when I'm so turned inward and paralyzed that I can't see beyond the tip of my own nose.

And a prodigious nose it is, too.

Last weekend I didn't RSVP for a baby shower until the night before, although I already had a present. Today I missed the tea party in celebration of the second birthday of one of Ellie's friends.

I don't know how many other children were invited. I do know that I was looking forward to it. I know that our absence must have been notable. I know that I feel like throwing up. I know that - for once in my life - I have no excuse. And this was something that might effect *Ellie* and one of her important relationships in the years to come.

I need to keep the house cleaner. I need to keep on top of the paperwork. I need to find someplace to file things. I need to finish the basement playroom so that we can relocate some toys and actually walk around our house again. I need to be more focused at work. I need to continue losing weight. I need to work on my book(s) so that we can have money to pay down our debt and continue our home improvement projects - including my dream office. I need to be pregnant. I need to be pregnant. I want to be pregnant. I'm scared to be pregnant.


Update: I'm feeling better about this afternoon, and I think it all worked out OK. I talked to Ellie's friend's mom, and she was amazingly cool. The early afternoon tea party birthday party was a real success. We took the little girl's present over this evening (during a surprise tornado!) then went out to dinner with them. Afterwards, we went back to their house for a reprisal tea party with just the two girls, and we all had cake. It was lovely to visit, and the girls both really enjoyed their "pearls," white straw hats, feather boas, and tiny plastic tea set. So cute.