Thursday, May 29, 2014

It was a day

It was... not a great parenting day. More like the kind of day that makes you wonder if Medea had the right idea. But it was pretty amusing when Alec was wailing as I carried him into preschool that he didn't want to go to this school because "It has too many windows!"

He's in a phase lately where if he doesn't like something but can't verbal why, he grabs onto the first trait he can see. Recently, he was insisting he didn't like the Spiderman shirt I bought him because "It's too stripy and fluffy."


Exercise: 20 minutes on exercise bike

Excuse note

So Thursday night, I stayed up obscenely late finishing Katherine's dress. Then after I finally made it to bed, that special sensor that babies and small children possess that lets them know that since their parents are choosing to go without sleep tripped in James and he decided to join me.

Friday, I was foggy and tired all day, and the gnome inhabiting my sinuses had babies and they all tried to burrow out through my forehead with their adorable little pickaxes. Since then, there have been several nights where 2 AM has been prime toddler party time. Last night, Katherine got in on the act and I had the pair of them in bed with me, completely failing to sleep.

Which is all to say that I've been very very very very more than just a little bit tired, not to mention not feeling great. I DID manage to exercise several nights - 25 minutes Sunday, rearranging and vacuuming Katherine's bedroom on Monday, 30 minutes on Tuesday. But I haven't been managing to write, since the place in my brain where the words are is mostly a dull tired hum at the moment. Not to mention the fact that I keep falling asleep on the couch every evening.

Today, I walked around Costco, which seems sufficiently exercising, and I made myself sit down at the keyboard early enough to dredge some dried up words out of the corn stubble of my brain. All of the children went to bed at a reasonable hour, so hopefully they'll let me sleep as well and I can get back on track with this whole writing and exercising thing.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


I'm making Katherine a dress with the solar system appliqued on it, and in a foolhardy moment, told her that I might be able to finish it in time for her to wear to school on Friday when she has a no-uniform day. Thus I have no time to type. I'll post a picture when I'm done though, because such an absurd amount of work needs to be shared.

Exercise: Some sort of malicious gnome decided to climb into my sinuses and is attempted to dig his way back out with a pickaxe so I'm not at my best. 20 minutes on the exercise bike tonight. Nothing formal last night, but I made two trips to Target and went to the grocery store, which adds up to approximately two and a half Bataan Death Marches worth of walking.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Chicken gyros

I recently discovered the most wonderfully easy dinner - chicken gyros. I know the word "gyros" conjures up the image of specialized equipment and meat on a spit, but the magic of chicken is that you don't need any of that.

Boneless chicken in an amount suitable to feed the number of people you want to feed
ditto flatbread
tzatziki sauce
feta cheese

Throw a couple pounds of boneless chicken in the crockpot with some olive oil and greek seasoning (the seasoning I use is McCormick Greek Seasoning, which I bought in the grocery store. If you can't find anything like that, there are about twelve million recipes for greek seasoning mixes available for the Googling). Cook on high for two hours or low for four hours. Cut the chicken into slices.

Warm up some flatbread or pita to make it more flexible by putting in it a hot skillet for a couple minutes or wrapping it in a damp paper towel and microwaving it for a minute or so. I've taken to using our Foreman grill, which lets me do several at once. Cut up some tomatoes and cucumbers into slices and finely slice some onion. Crumble of some feta cheese if you're of a mind to. Put some tzatziki sauce (Trader Joes makes an excellent tzatziki, but I've seen it in most supermarkets. And ooh, Trader Joes Greek Yogurt dip is fantastic on this too) on the flatbread, pile on the chicken, vegetables and cheese and eat, reveling in the knowledge that you've provided a hot meal with about five minutes of prep time. I've served this three times in the past three weeks and so far nobody has started pelting me with pitas when I announce we're having it yet again.


Exercise: 20 minutes on exercise bike - I was sick today, so I feel pretty damn heroic doing that much

Monday, May 19, 2014

Signs of progress

As I've said several times in the past, it's always been difficult to know how well Katherine reads. Her school has been extraordinarily patient with her performance anxiety when it comes to reading and writing (the writing issue has led to us to decide to have her formally tested for learning disabilities), and she's definitely made a significant amount of progress this year. She actually admits that she can read a bit now, for instance. She's even been occasionally willing to read out loud in class.

But the biggest sign of progress yet came this evening. She wants to have a sleepover, and I've told her she can't do that until she can go to sleep without one of us sitting with her (she was the lucky inheritor of my childhood fear of the dark). Tonight, she decided to try going to sleep on her own, and she decided to try reading to help herself fall asleep.

Reading for pleasure and falling asleep on her own. Our big girl.


Exercise: 25 minutes on exercise bike

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Shameless bragging

This evening, I was making Alec take a few bites of dinner before being excused. He had taken three bites, and I asked him to take two more, then asked him if he had taken three bites and then took two more, how many would he have taken? He took a bite, then said, "Five."

He was evaluated for a speech delay earlier this year and the evaluation report came back reporting fairly limited math skills for his age. I'm thinking they were a bit off on that.


At James's two-year appointment, he weighed in at 24 pounds, 3 ounces. That's no weight gain at all from his previous doctor's appointment six weeks earlier (when we took him in after he had been throwing up for two weeks straight, so you would think once the vomiting stopped, he would put some weight back on). And it's around the 5th percentile for weight, when he's over 50th percentile for height. This is somewhat worrisome.

Now mind you, I don't think he's ever managed to crack the 35 percentile for weight, but a drop in weight gain curve from the 30th to 5th percentile is still not something you want to see. It could be quite likely he just takes after his father, who was six feet tall and 140 pounds when we met, and could be legitimately accused of being able to disappear by turning sideways. But meanwhile, we're working hard on getting more fattening foods into him.

I had thought we were doing pretty well on that front. But as it turns out, while we were giving him lots of fat and protein, closer attention to what he actually eats revealed that our toddler is attempting to turn himself into an herbivore. All of the nice fattening cheese or sunflower butter sandwiches in the world won't matter if he plows his way through a plate of apple slices first.

It seems silly to complain that my child likes fruits and vegetables too much, but he really does need fat and protein to grow properly too. I didn't realize the extent of the problem until the other day when he threw a cheese stick on the ground and came over to me to beg for lettuce.

Good lord child, that's just weird.

Anyway, I'm giving him less plant matter so he can't fill up on that and making a bigger effort to get him to drink milk. I haven't pushed cow's milk much because he's not incredibly fond of it and if he doesn't drink enough liquid, he comes to me to make up for it. I've partially solved that by adding hot chocolate powder to his morning milk, which both make it more appealing and adds calories. I've started giving him cheese sticks as a default snack and putting cream cheese on his morning toast. And there's always direct injections of lard. We'll fatten up our little piggy yet.


Exercise: twenty minutes on exercise bike, 11000 steps per pedometer (thank you James, for deciding to do laps around the bookstore this evening)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

3/4 asleep blogging

Alec to B as we were dropping him off at work yesterday:
"Bye Daddy! We miss you! Happy Mother's Day!"

He brought home two Mother's Day presents for me, about which he is absurdly proud. In one of them, he describes me as being 100 pounds and taller than a crayon. He's not technically wrong about my height, mind you, but it does give me the mental image of him seeing me as being extremely short and squat.

Exercise: 20 minutes on exercise bike, and I feel downright heroic because I was three quarters asleep on the couch before I remembered I needed to exercise and yet I still hauled myself up and did it.

More on a roll of positive

* After nearly seven years on the job, I was informed out of the blue last week that I'm getting a raise! It's the first for all of the museum workers in ten years. It's still an absurdly low pay rate for someone with a master's degree, mind you but they will no longer have to give us a raise if Obama is able to get the minimum wage raised as high as he wants. I won't hear about the scandalously low average pay of fast food workers and think I'd like to get paid that much. And it will be an extra hundred dollars a month, which will definitely help.

* School ends in a month, and I'm extremely happy that both Katherine and Alec will be going to the same day camp this year. They'll have a great time, of course. Katherine will get to reunite with her summertime friends and Alec will learn how to swim, but mostly I'm just selfishly enjoying the fact that they'll both be out of the house five days a week and that I'll only have one place to drop off and pickup.

B's aunt has been paying for camp, and every year I tell myself not to count on it, that it's a huge amount of money and we're incredibly grateful for what she's already given us. This year, when we got the camp materials, we discussed sending Alec to Katherine's camp instead of his preschool's summer program since it would make life easier and because we thought Alec and his preschool need a break from each other (it hasn't been a great year in preschool for Alec, but that's another post). But that added another couple thousand dollars to the cost and I was hesitant to suggest it. Then B called his aunt and she said, "I was thinking that it should be time for camp materials to arrive, and maybe you'd like Alec to attend the same camp as Katherine this year," before we even said anything. So that was easy.

B's uncle ran a summer camp for many years, and I can't think of a better way to honor his memory than to send his great nieces and nephews to camp. I'm just grateful we get to benefit from that.

Exercise: 25 minutes on exercise bike (and the only that got me on it tonight was not wanting to punk out on the second day. See, it's working!)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The (buns of) steel annversary

Two days ago was the eleventh anniversary of this blog (started on Livejournal). Once upon a time, believe it or not, I regularly posted every other day.

I never meant to not so much drift as gallop away from blogging, and I keep trying to find my way back. It occurred to me recently that when I first started, I used blogging partially as a way to be publicly accountable for my personal goals - exercise, productivity, healthy eating and cooking. I don't feel up to keeping track of all of those things at once, but I desperately need to start exercising again, so keeping track of exercise here dovetails nicely into wanting to blog more in general.

Supposedly it takes 30 days to form a habit. My particular habit is dropping habits even when I've been at them for a while, but it's still worth a try to do this for 30 days to see if I can either successfully restart exercise or blogging. I've managed to exercise four out of the past five days, so that may be the one that sticks, but we shall see.

So here it goes:

Exercise: 25 minutes exercise bike

Monday, May 12, 2014

The cat came back the very next day

Last Monday night, Luna was acting weird. In the past, she's come onto my bed and loudly demanded attention at bedtime, but it's usually in the winter (and I usually wind up kicking her out so her incessant meowing doesn't wake the baby). But despite it being a warm night, she was all up in my face, demanding attention. The next day, both she and Lily seemed out of sorts. I kept finding them places that I don't normally see them during the day, like they didn't quite know what they should do with themselves. And that's when I put it together that 1) I hadn't seen Sonya all day and 2) I had found the patio door open a bit last night, but didn't have time to go check the yard for escaped cats because I was putting the boys to bed.

Oh no. Not again. Since she disappeared for a month five years ago, we've been so, so careful to keep her inside. But with not only our own children but neighbor children running in and out of the house, it gets hard to be certain that every door is closed as tightly as it should be (particularly since James figured out how to open the patio door and waltz out unsupervised into the backyard. Aiee!). And now she's much older and been getting skinny lately, so she doesn't have that layer of fat to help her survive without food for a while.

Fortunately, the difference between this house and the house she escaped from before is that while that house had a heavily-trafficked alley in back, this house has a nice yard that borders about 7 other unfenced yards, creating a nice large semi-wild area for a cat to explore safely without having to wander further afield. So last night, we turned the porch lights on to try to attract her and hoped for the best. Sure enough, as I was putting Katherine to sleep, I heard meowing and ran outside to the front of the house just in time to see a cat vanish under the car. I looked underneath and lo! There was an unhappy Sonya who was thrilled to come to me and go back inside. She then spent the rest of the evening cuddling with us and remarking her territory, since she had been gone an entire day and therefore had to reestablish herself in the cat hierarchy. She also had to collect a large number of small stuffed animals to leave on the landing of the stairs for some obscure cat reason.

Oh, what a relief. She just turned 13, and I'm becoming acutely aware of the fact that she probably doesn't have too many years left. But I'm not ready to lose our Sonya yet.