Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Hangover

Evie: Mommy, why are you so sick?
Me: I hate to admit this Eve, but the truth is that I am hungover.
Evie: Oh. Is that contagious?

I am writing this entry from the couch. Lying down. I can actually type quite well this way. What I can't do is keep down food or sit up. Why? Because I am suffering from the absolute worst, God-awful hangover of my life.

It's actually been a while since I've been truly hungover. In fact, I don't think I ever really have been since having kids. I mean, I've had your run-of-the-mill wake-up-craving-bacon-egg-and-cheese hangover from time to time, but between pregnancies and breastfeeding and even trying to get pregnant, I haven't really drank that much over the past nine years. I think the last time I woke up feeling really awful was the day after our wedding, when, after being sick numerous times in the hotel room, I attended my wedding brunch still in my guacamole-smeared dress. My grandparents were slightly horrified. Come to think of it, I seemed prone to having bad hangovers whenever I had somewhere to be the next day because the time before our wedding was after our engagement party. My friend Annie had to shove me in the shower and help me get dressed the next morning so that I could attend my sister-in-law's baby shower. Which I did, wearing sunglasses the entire time. Inside the house.

Anyway, those hangovers don't even seem that bad when I consider how familiar I've become with the inside of our toilet today. Eleven hours of lying on the couch, sipping Gatorade, and not being able to keep it down. Ugh.

The lesson? When you haven't had much more than a beer or two in a night for nine years, it's probably not a great idea to jump that number up to seven. Chances are, that's just not going to go over well.

The silver lining in all of this is that the whole reason I am hungover is that we had a great night. We threw a party and had a mix of neighbors, local friends from high school and college, and friends we've met out here all come. People started arriving at 3:30 with food and drinks and, after several hours of eating, drinking, talking and watching kids run around, most people headed home around 8:00. Some of my friends from high school stayed though, putting their kids to bed so we could sit outside and talk and listen to music.It was wonderful to catch up after so many years and I'm hoping to do it again soon. Next time though, I'll be a little more sober.

As for the girls, I wasn't sure whether or not to explain my situation. For the most part, I started drinking after they went to bed. I could have very easily claimed to be suffering from a stomach flu, but decided that, since they had never seen me this way before and hopefully never would again, it was a good opportunity for a lesson. Toby and I sat down with them and talked about alcohol and how it is poisonous at certain levels. It lead to a lesson about addiction and then several questions about our organs (stomach, liver, kidneys), which had me wishing I had taken anatomy.

Fortunately, friends offered to have the girls over for a playdate so they didn't have to spend the whole day in the house with nothing to do. But when they came back, all three of them joined me on the couch and we spent several hours snuggling and watching episodes of Frances, with Noni yelling out "That's me! That's me!" whenever Frances' little sister Gloria showed up. It was nice spending time with them just lying there together and I realized that too often I am talking to them over my back while sweeping or loading the dishwasher. Another lesson from me out of the situation: to take more time just to be with my kids, without rushing around. I think I'll enjoy that even more when I'm feeling better.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Used, it's the new black

For the past few days, the winds have been blowing some cold air down from the mountains and into Boulder. After a year in southern California, I am welcoming the change in temperature, but realizing that those dusty bins of winter clothing might not hold enough to keep me warm. I have some jackets - a shell that's great for layering and a wool coat - but I started thinking that a puffy, down jacket would be my best bet on a wintry day.

Unfortunately, a quick search online showed me that North Face sells wonderful winter coats...for $200. Not quite in our start-up budget this fall. But then it occurred to me that, while I just moved from a warm climate to a cool one, there must be someone out there in the opposite situation. Someone with a coat to sell. Sure enough, a few clicks later and I was bidding for a down coat on Ebay. I lost the auction for last year's model of North Face's down coat (which ultimately sold for $50), but found one from the Limited that's heading my way right now. Cost? $18.

I'm not new to purchasing used items. We have a jogging stroller and trundle bed that are both from Craig's List in L.A. and D.C. But this fall, with a tight budget and a new house and climate, I've been appreciating the option more than ever. Toby found shelving at a used furniture store, we bought Evie's lizard and cage on Craig's list, and I bought ten cloth napkins for $5.00 at a yard sale. Right now I'm in the process of searching for furnishing for our guest room with items from Craig's List.

While the cost is what's mostly driving me to buy items this way, it's also nice knowing that I'm saving items from a landfill and preventing new items from being manufactured. When I bought the cloth napkins, I loved the idea that I'd be diminishing our need for paper napkins and saving the cloth napkins from the landfill at the same time. I only wish I'd had more money with me at the time as it'd be nice to be able to host a party with cloth napkins for every guest.

Well, I'm heading back out into the cold to pick up Evie at school. I hope my new jacket arrives soon. If anyone asks me where I got it, I'm looking forward to replying, "It's vintage."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Good-bye trikes, goodbye training wheels

Walking the girls to school in the morning, I am often struck by the number of little kids riding bikes. By little, I'm talking three and four-year-olds cruising by on their two wheelers like they've been riding forever. Boulder is a biking town - there are bike trails everywhere and it seems like pretty much everyone is training for a bike race or triathlon. Evie even asked for "biking clothes" for her birthday after seeing so many people riding around in their racing gear. So I assumed that maybe these kids had just inherited their parents' biking skills or else maybe they had spent a lot more time on bikes than most in their three short years.

But then it occured to me that at the park or on the road, I never see tricycles or training wheels. Instead, kids Noni's age learn to ride on "Like-a-Bikes" (or other similar brands), which are basically mini bikes with no pedals. They learn to balance before learning to pedal, and then just learn to pedal on a regular bike. I mentioned my observation to a friend at the park this morning and she offered to give their old one to Noni. I'm looking forward to checking it out because I think it's a great way to teach kids how to ride.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A slightly embarrassing addiction

My decision was made, made before I'd ever consciously chosen, and I was committed to seeing it through. Because there was nothing more terrifying to me, more excruciating, than the thought of turning away from him. It was an impossibility. - Bella, in Twilight

On the way to Denver, I picked up a copy of Twilight as I was browsing in the airport bookstore. I wasn't planning on buying it, but suddenly I was five minutes and ten pages into the book...and I didn't want to put it down. I knew even as I started reading it that the series is geared toward teens. Descriptions about people so beautiful they are like "airbrushed pages on a fashion magazine" are good indicators of the target audience. But still, I was hooked.

A few nights later, I was lying on my bed, completely absorbed in the book. Toby had been on the porch playing the guitar when our neighbors asked us to come over for a beer. Since the girls were sleeping, only one of us could go, so I happily continued reading while he went over to socialize. An hour later, he returned and announced that the neighbors wanted me to stop by as well. Grudgingly, I put down the book and walked across the street to greet three slightly drunk couples smiling at me from the front porch. Feeling that I needed some explanation for my disheveled hair, sweatpants and wrinkled t-shirt, I apologized for my appearance, telling them that I had just been in bed reading. When they asked the inevitable, "What are you reading?", I paused for a minute. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao was on my bedside table. A respectable, Pulitzer-prize winning, grown-up book. But I decided to go for honesty and instead admitted, "Umm, I'm reading Twilight." Amused smiles all around. Turns out all three couples have daughters who are all currently reading the series. And all of their daughters are in fifth grade.

OK, so that was a little bit embarrassing. But you know what? I found out the next day that I'm actually in good company. When admitted what I was reading on Facebook, within minutes several friends well over the age of fourteen came clean with their own addictions to the series. One friend declared that her children lived in dirty clothing and ate dried cereal for a week because she couldn't put the books down. Another compared it to her childhood addiction to Sweet High Valley. (Who can forget Jessica and Elizabeth and their "perfect size 6" figures?) It was a relief to hear that I wasn't the only grown woman who was bumping into walls while walking around the house holding up a copy of Twilight.

All of this was very reassuring when today, I found myself in Barnes and Noble, unable to wait for six more weeks before New Moon is available at the library. When I asked where I could find the Twilight series, the woman at the counter directed me to the teen section. I smiled sheepishly but she had her own confession to make: "My daughter and I both love those books."

And so, if you haven't read the book yet...and if you're a woman (because there's no denying this is chick lit) might want to give it a try. It's not great writing. And even the plot, with the beautiful but often helpless main character and her strong "movie star handsome" boyfriend, reads a bit like a dated fairytale. But you may suddenly find yourself falling in love with a teenage vampire as you attempt to read while folding laundry. And that just doesn't happen every day.

Creepy crawly creatures, and it's not even Halloween

Evie at our neighbor's house in LA - with a snail on her nose

When Evie was two years old, she was terrified of bugs. The most innocent looking fly sitting on the slide at the playground would send her into hysterics. I figured that she would grow out of it one day and wasn't too worried about her phobia, but then people in the DC area started talking about the cicadas. Apparently, that spring, from the way people talked about it, millions and billions of cicadas would take over the city. One friend remembered from her childhood that she couldn't even swing a tennis racket without hitting at least one cicada. It occurred to me that if Evie freaked out at a mere fruit fly, a whole city covered in bugs would probably land her in therapy for the rest of her life.

On a drive down to visit my sister in Asheville, I explained this issue to my mom and told her that I had to do something about it and there wasn't a lot of time. We decided to write a book to help Evie understand the cicadas and, from that conversation, Cecily Cicada was born. I don't know if it was actually the book, or maybe just the months that we spent talking about the book and getting more and more excited about the cicadas ourselves, but somehow that spring Evie's fear of bugs disappeared. More than that, she became a little bit obsessed. We suddenly had to stop at every tree trunk to count the ants and soon were buying books to help us identify different beatles and butterflies.

What started as an interest in bugs has morphed into an interest in all things natural science. She has been alternately interested in bugs (mostly snails in Los Angeles), birds, dinosaurs and marine life in the last six years. Most recently, after seeing a pet lizard at her friend Desomond's house, she has taken up an interest in lizards.

I love that my daughter is interested in science, but I should give a little bit of information about myself here. See, as a mother of three daughters, I want to show them that women can do anything. Snakes and snails and puppy dog tails shouldn't be limited to boys of course - the notion that women are more squeamish is old fashioned. The other women in my family demonstrate this well. My sister had a virtual aquarium of fish tanks in her room growing up and was in charge of feeding the animals worms and crickets at her high school zoo. My mom used to fling daddy longlegs from the house as she painted and even caught the giant wood spiders that would show up in our sink in glasses to bring them outside. (I always made note of the glass she used and refused to use that glass ever again, no matter how many washings.) But as for me, if I see a spider in our sink? I do one of two things: yell for Toby or pay Evie a dollar to get it out. The thing is, 2009 or not, I am squeamish and I don't like creepy crawly things. And that includes lizards.

So anyway, when Evie's interest in lizards developed into a desire for a pet, I was uncomfortable with the idea at first, but then I figured I was safe. I decided that I would entertain her interest, even bring her around for a little research, but all along I could play the good cop. It didn't matter that the idea of a lizard gives me the creeps - I could be the mom who would offer to get Evie a lizard because Toby would definitely be the dad who said no. All of which brings me to our dinner conversation last night:

Evie: So, it's almost my birthday. Can we talk about the lizard?
Me: Well, I'd just like to put out there that I'm neutral on the lizard. No opinion from me.
Toby: What do you know about it?
Me: Well, we did a little bit of research and we found one on Craig's list for $100 with the cage. She mostly will eat vegetables, but we'll have to buy some crickets. She needs to stay warm. She will want to come out for exercise every once and a while.
(Big smile, lean back in the chair, here it comes, Toby saying she can't have one...)
Toby: And you'd really take care of it? Would you pay for the food with your allowance?
(Um, wait, what?!)
Evie: Yes, yes, yes.
Toby: Would you do extra chores to help pay for the crickets and the vitamins?
Evie: Yes
(No! No!)
Toby: OK, you can have the lizard. Lucy, how was school today?

Later, I talked to Toby about his thoughts on the lizard. He explained that, while he has no interest in a lizard, he was so impressed with Evie's dedication towards getting one and her sincerity at promising to work for it that he felt it was probably a good idea for her to have one. This made me fall in love all over again because how cute is a dad who is willing to buy an ugly lizard for his daughter just because he knows how important it is for her? And Evie waking up this morning and singing, "I'm getting a beardie! I'm getting a beardie!" also softened me a little more to the idea.

So the bottom line is, I guess we'll be introducing Bindi (named after Steve Irwin's daughter) the lizard to our house this week. I'm still adjusting to the idea, but I am proud of Evie for being the kind of lizard-loving girl that I never was and probably never will be.

As for the rest of the family, Lucy started off by saying that she didn't want the lizard anywhere near her, but then announced this morning that she would donate all of her allowance to feeding the lizard as well. And Noni? When I told her Evie was getting a lizard, she looked at me and said, "Then I get a zebra and a hippo."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

To Boulder: XOXOXOX

A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog entry about my relationship with Los Angeles. It was basically a letter, or as I called it a "talk", about the way I felt about living there. It wasn't that I didn't like Los Angeles (and, as I mentioned, there were many good things and wonderful relationships that came out of our year there), it's just that it didn't always feel like a good fit. It occurred to me this weekend, as I was running up the goat trail behind our house, that if I were to write a letter to Boulder, it would probably be soaked in perfume, covered in lipstick kisses, and maybe even accompanied by a mix tape (an ipod songlist? How do highschoolers show their affection these days?) full of songs like "Rocky Mountain High". It would be totally cheesy and over the top, but what can I say? I'm in love.

I'm a sucker for love at first sight, so I was probably smitten from day one, when two fuzzy spotted fawns strolled across our backyard and the girls literally jumped up and down with excitement. But since then, it's continued to offer up some pretty nice surprises. For starters, it doesn't feel like we're new here because we already have friends from our past - some that we loved and knew well already and some that we have gotten to know much better since moving to Boulder - who have been incredibly welcoming. I feel like we've jumped right into a community, without having to work much to make it happen. I also love that the community as a whole is so progressive. For example, we walk to school everyday with our Freiker tags on the girls' backpacks, and are passed by biker after biker with "carbon-free ride" stickers on their bike strollers. We've been pretty busy unpacking on weekends, but the few bike rides and hikes we've done already have been incredible and I look at the mountains every morning thinking of all the exploring we have ahead of us.

I could go on, but you probably get the picture. We picked Boulder in part because it did seem like a good fit, so it probably shouldn't surprise me that since I've moved here, I've felt like someone handed me one of those red Staples "That was easy!" buttons. We truly miss our friends and family in other places, but already Boulder is feeling comfortably like home.

All that said, starting a new business is a risky thing to do. There's no guarantee we'll be in Boulder six months, a year from now. Fortunately, my yoga instructor is also a teacher at Naropa University - who knew Boulder had such a large Buddhist population? - so I get weekly reminders to live in the moment and appreciate the now. And I'm happy to report, the now is feeling really good.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Just your average day at our house

Some days it seems like life would be a lot easier if I worked in an office somewhere. If you are reading this from work, you may not agree. I've done it before and I know it's not always easy. You have deal with unreasonable people and sometimes people don't listen to you, but I have to ask: When you're on the phone, do your co-workers open up three bottles of lotion and spread the lotion all over the office floors, walls and windows? Or, when you leave the room to get something, do they cover themselves with paint? Some photos from this afternoon:

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

You know you're child is two when... think it might be a good idea to take a break from cooking and cleaning and eat out. Instead, you leave the restaurant exhausted, covered in food, and wondering if you'll ever be allowed to eat there again. And to top it off, you didn't even taste the food because you ate it like you were a contestant in Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest. decide to buy a new t-shirt because all the other t-shirts have stains on them from attempts at eating out. As you stand in your bra in the Target changing room, she slips under the door and takes off running. You grab for anything to cover you up so you can catch her because you're sure that today's the day all the kidnappers have come out to check out sales at Target. You follow her giggles and finally catch her, all the way across the store.

... she enjoys turning the LeapPad on over and over again just so that she can keep saying to it, "No, I won't press the green Go button!"

... her favorite show is Sponge Bob. (Oh, wait, that probably doesn't belong on this list. But hey, this two-year-old we're talking about is the third child and she basically doesn't pull much weight when it comes to TV remote control decisions. At first I was worried that it wasn't an educational show, but now I just figure she's learning to have a wicked sense of humor.)

... you ask her sisters, "Where's Noni?" and you hear a devilish giggle from the other room. You find her in the bathroom with all of the dental floss wrapped around her already marker-covered body. (Perhaps the wicked sense of humor isn't such a good idea.)

... you snuggle up in bed with her every night to read her stories and then she asks you to stay until she is "warm and cozy". Your heart breaks because three is next and, really, two is such a wonderful age.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sigg Update

While I don't like a company to falsely advertise, I do appreciate it when they own up to their mistake. I'm going to give the power of the internet some credit here because I think companies these days are terrified of bad press spreading like wildfire. I just shipped a big box of Siggs off to the company to exchange for some new toxin-free bottles. If you're drinking out of a Sigg bottle, I recommend you do the same since BPA can do some funky stuff like disrupt your homones and give you cancer and all that.

Send your Siggs back by filling out this form: click here
Then print out this label: click here
Can't tell if they're old or new bottles? check here

This has been a public service announcement. Now back to our regular programming...