Wednesday, May 31, 2006

"Don't Like It"

I thought I had dodged the bullet. I've read countless articles where parents lamented that their two year old who's favorite word was "NO!" or they would grab everything in sight and say "Mine!". And yet, my son didn’t. I marveled at his emotional maturity and good nature. Then it struck.

Me: "Jack, eat your toast."
Jack: "Don’t like it."
Me: (confusion setting in, where did he learn this phrase...) "What?"
Jack: "Don't. Like. It."..."No Like It"

Great. Now he was dumbing down his English since it appeared his mother wasn’t "getting" it.

I knew immediately this was bad news. Kids don’t go learning full phrases without a comprehensive plan for incorporating them into constant use. Sure enough, over the next few days, most of our exchanges went like this:

Me: "Jack, time for your bath."
Jack: "Don’t like it."
Me: "Jack, let's read Dick and Jane."
Jack: "Don’t like it."
Me: "Jack, do you want to play with your sidewalk chalk?"
Jack: "Don’t like it."
Me: (substitute anything I might have said to my son)
Jack: "Don't like it."

Maybe the world wasn’t ending, but it was definitely tettering on the brink as far as I was concerned. I was getting pretty fed up with Mr. Contrary, my son. He wasn't eatting his meals or picking up his toys and was basically fighting me every step of the way (Im thinking: stand aside kid, I'm an "original" on control issues. You're out of your league). So I picked up one of my parenting books, and against all odds, it was the "SuperNanny" book. Yes, as in the TV show lady. It was enough I pulled it off the shelves at the library with other parenting psychology books, but the fact that I was referencing it, well, maybe the world really was ending this time. And yes, and you know what is coming next, I created a Naughty Step at our house. I've only watched the SupperNanny show a few times, but I've seen enough to know that the Naughty Step is central. It shows up every time to cure everything from back talk to hyperactivity to leprosy (I think).

We had a slight glitch in the plan when Jack found the Naughty Step to be a hoot. He loved it. When engaging in his "Don’t Like It" defiance, I would give the prescribed warning; "Jack, if you persist in this behavior I will put you on the Naughty Step". And he would say happily "Naughty Step! Naughty Step!" and run to it giggling and sit down. Not exactly the axis of fear the SuppeNanny described.

Maybe the problem was that I was giving into my son's request for make-up hugs too early ("Hugs? Hugs?"). Lets face it, I'm a sucker for that sweet baby voice and those pudgy arms. After getting really strict and making him wait for a minute on the step, he'd fake wail a bit, get his hug, and…do what I told him. Bet you didn’t expect that! Yeah, me neither. But gosh darn it, the Naughty Step, even when employed incorrectly, seemed to work!

That was the good news. The bad news is that now I have to bear the humiliation of using parenting techniques from a childless British woman who races around in a Plymouth Cruiser saying "I'm on my way!". Sigh.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Surreal Life

After reading another article on the DC Sniper trials recently, I was thinking about surreal events I've been involved with. It's the strangest sensation; you almost feel that you are on the outside looking on as a spectator. Some of the biggest surreal experiences for me include: being in an armed robbery (they call them "home invasions" now) at age nine with my brother and cousins while our parents were at our grandfather's wake. Several cracked-out, ski-masked, and armed men broke in and terrorized us while ransacking the house. We were so naïve we hid in a closet after we saw them chopping down the back door and it took them all of 15 seconds to find us. I was pretty sure I was going to die, and as a result, everything seemed to go in slow and fast motion all at once. Very surreal.

Another big one is of course September 11th. Living outside of DC, having fighter jets thunder over your house, and knowing you were sitting in a global bulls eye was pretty surreal. Just the day before I had finished with an engagement that had me flying back and forth from Dulles to LA every week, which was one of the routes that was hijacked. It was the most beautiful day, am amazing blue sky with the late summer crispness to the air, it all seemed so impossible. My husband was stuck on his "2-day" Northern CA business trip for almost two weeks and I had the radio and CNN on day and night for probably three days straight.

A little over a year later, we were treated to a rousing rendition of “what it's like to live in an unstable war torn country” when the DC Snipers showed up. You haven’t lived until you found yourself writing a will before taking the dog on a walk. Talk about group paranoia. Two guys in an area of 5 million had us diving into our cars and hiding behind concrete pillars on the rare occasion we were forced to leave our house. It seems surreal thinking about it now, but I actually would run in a zigzag pattern back to my car if I had to leave the house. You would have thought I would have felt silly doing this, but trust me, no one noticed since everyone else was either zigzagging or crossing the parking lot in infantry-style guerrilla crawls. You simply had no idea where they would strike next. No where was considered safe. My husband, as is his nature, managed to find the silver lining of the situation and was delighted when the credit card bill showed up and was the lowest it had been in 13 years. Trust me, I’m a dedicated spender, but “final sale” has a whole new meaning, when going out might in fact make it your final sale. I managed to go for an entire month without going to a gas station (My 3-mile commute work commute paid off again!) and when my husband had to go fill up mid-crisis, we had a phone line support system rigged to notify concerned individuals about the successful 98-octane mission.

So what dredged up these memories? In a word, Maryland. Maryland is retrying the Sniper's years after Virginia found them guilty of about a billion crimes against humanity as well as several counts of murder and sentenced them to death and life in prison, respectively (they are also still considering revoking their concealed weapon permits). I don’t want to draw attention to delicate family matters, but Maryland doesn’t seem to trust Virginia, so they would *also* like to sentence them to death. Ironically, Virginia executes a *lot* more prisoners than Maryland, who I believe turned their electric chair into a garden planter in 1999 after seeing a similar project in Martha Stewart Living's April issue. I suppose Maryland might be concerned about Virginia's decision making abilities and may consider the commonwealth's lack of taste to be a warning sign of instability, I can only guess as a result of our State Welcome Sign.

Haven’t given much thought to your state's Welcome Sign lately? Well, we have! Apparently someone pointed out that our sign was "dated" and I believe one quote was (paraphrasing) "it looks like something my grandma knitted and hung in her kitchen in 1950". So Virginia immediately took action and created five other horribly dated alternatives to choose from and put it to a public vote. I first saw the
options printed in the Washington Post and again, felt that touch of surrealism. The first thing that leapt to mind was "What? Are these the right pictures?". It’s as if Virginia couldn’t come up with the money for any new clip art software and decided to reuse the Atari-era graphics and fonts they had on file. Furthermore, the only new slogan they could come up with was "Virginia Welcomes You", which wow, bam, talk about impact. What fools we were with the old slogan; "Welcome to Virginia". You can hardly blame Maryland for being wary, I suppose.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Libya-US Relations Normalized

Thank God we are restoring ties to Libya. I can finally schedule my long-awaited vacation there, and think of all the Libyaneese products that we can finally get our hands on with the end of the trade embargo. Wow!

Actually the kiss-and-make up with Libya is notable to me, and probably many others raised in the 1970’s simply because they were the “original” terrorists. I don’t know what it is about childhood, but everything seemed more authentic then. Who could forget the white VW van filled with Libyan terrorists tearing through the mall parking lot as Michael J Fox raced to get his time machine car working in “Back to the Future”? That’s real drama baby, the kind that sticks with you and forever defines terrorism.

And it wasn’t just defining the bad guys (or waiting for the Soviet’s nuclear missile to arrive and fry us all) but everything back then seemed more real. As I grew up, things became more of an intellectual curiosity. I’m not sure I ever accepted another President after Carter or Reagan, the rest seemed to be on a trial run, like take your daughter to work day. The years seemed to move impossibly fast after 1980 and the world has become a blur. How was it that the wait for a birthday or Christmas appeared to be several eons long when I was age 10, and now I find myself pulling the Christmas decorations out about three weeks after I finally finished mailing out the “belated” gifts from the year before?

I think the sensory experience of childhood is amazing. The tangibleness of long summers where you weren’t hermetically sealed in air conditioned buildings. How sweet the ice cream was on a hot summer day when you had to beg your parents for a quarter instead of throwing it in your cart at the grocery store. The thrill of Saturday morning cartoons long before you realized that the only reasonable thing to do at 6am on Saturday’s was sleep.

It’s the purity of these experiences that lead people (such as myself) to assume that we had an idealized existence and make sweeping declarations that indicate that their path was naturally the best one. I say stupid things all the time like “I never went to preschool (implication: and look at how well I turned out)” or “When I was a kid, we sometimes could only afford hotdogs for dinner (implication: and look at how well I turned out)”.

Still, it’s good to know we have finally made some progress on Libya. President Carter must be really excited.

Photo Finish

Once you have kids, things change. Naptime marks the mad dash to get everything done in two hours that you used to spread over an entire day, traveling requires a pHD in logistics and coordination (a spare prescription of Lithium also helps), and Saturday mornings are booked indefinitely for the never ending parade of other people’s kid’s birthday parties.

Frankly, I’m not even sure who some of these children are or how their cartoon character invitations make it onto my fridge, but like dutiful parents everywhere I drag my progeny to the party anyways, where he will promptly dissolve in a puddle of tears once he realizes the presents aren’t for him and that he is expected to follow a carefully choreographed schedule of fun. Actually, it’s not the birthday parties themselves that I mind so much. Let’s face it, its not as if they were interrupting a long lazy morning in bed reading the paper and eating croissants, but what I truly dread is the inevitable after party photos, which are usually emailed out to half the world, mere seconds after you leave the premises.

Another batch of birthday party photos appeared in my inbox today and as feared, I flipped through and confirmed that I had been had again. An unspeakably horrid photograph of me, now on display for the entire Internet world. One cannot look at this photo without shuttering. I immediately sent off an Instant Message to my friend who hosted the party:

Me: “Thanks a lot for leaving the hideous photo of me in the album”
Her: “lol”
Me: “I’m serious, if it was you, I would have edited that one out.”
Her: “lol”

Now, you may have to know my willowy tall blonde friend, but may not be immediately apparent is that she knows exactly what she did. And she is a good enough friend not to try to deny it. She didn’t say “What bad photo?”. No, She knew. And she also knew by virtue of including it, the photographs of her looked all the more stunning in comparison. It does not help me that some of my friends are strikingly photogenic. Particularly the one I happened to be standing next to when this specific shot was taken. You can take pictures of this friend immediately after 27 hours of hard labor and think, “my she is lovely”. Or the time I took a picture of her heaving after a night of too much drinking and yet one could not help but look at the picture and admire her fine bone structure. It’s absurd that I should have to put up with this.

See, the truth is, I’m not photogenic. In fact, it may not be a stretch to say that I am the least photogenic person on the planet. Of course, you would never know this from looking around my home, where the casual observer might believe that I am a supermodel. What they don’t know is that these pictures represent only a tiny fraction of all pictures ever taken of me. They have been carefully culled to include only the most flattering pictures, often benefiting by overexposure, to the extent that they usually only have the slightest resemblance to me in real life.

I’m sorry to say that my dedication to showcasing only flattering photos of myself is so strong, that others often get run over in the process. For example, of the many pictures taken at my son’s baptism, one was particularly attractive of me, I’m turned slightly to the side to hide my post pregnancy figure so I almost looked thin, and the lighting made my features soft and glowing. Now, unfortunately, it wasn’t the best shot of my son. Lacking any real neck control, his head wasn’t fully supported and appears to be attached to his shoulders by a wet noodle. Aside from the odd angle, his face is mostly obscured. Still, it was damn good picture of me, so I framed it and put it on a shelf. Being unphotogentic can really bring out the worst in people.

There was some improvement with the advent of digital photography, specifically, the ability to edit oneself out of shots. I recall the days of picking of traditional film based prints from the drugstore. Going through these, I imagine I felt the same as homicide detectives reviewing crime scene photos. Each was usually worse than the last. I would gasp in horror, quickly look away, and wonder who *was* this poor incredibly unphotogetic woman in these shots. Could this really be me? I have a mental image of myself that doesn’t seem to reliably match up with real life evidence of my appearance, and never less so than when photographed. The pictures usually ended up buried in the bottom of a box. I should have thrown them away really but I somehow inherited some sort of depression-era quirk where I have a hard time throwing things away.

Now with digital photos, I can quickly review the pictures and crop myself out when I don’t look good. This, combined with the fact that I virtually never appear to be in photos anymore, works out to be a reliable system. I’m sure generations down the line will assume Jack was raised by a single father, since I always seem to be on the other end of the camera. It’s interesting that when we didn’t have kids, we would be quick to flag down an unsuspecting passerby to take a picture of the two of us, because, really, how lame would a shot of only one of us be? But with a child, as long as there is one of us in the frame, well it’s good enough.

At least I have six more whole, blissfully unphotographed, days before the next party. I’ll take what I can get.

Friday, May 12, 2006

It's All Relative

A few days ago I attended the Virginia Gold Cup with my husband. For those not familiar with Gold Cup, it’s a sort of Virginia based Kentucky Derby where the upper crust flocks to an idyllic pasture in Virginia Horse Country to watch horse races on a beautifully manicured course. They wear fancy dresses, elaborate hats and drink heavily as their $400 stilettos sink deep into the rail-side mud. Naturally, being high-class myself, I also attended, albeit wearing wedges.

This wasn’t our first time to Gold Cup and we’ve learned through experience that it’s certainly more fun to attend on someone else’s dime. This time, we arrived with my husband’s cousin at the tent of one of his company’s vendors. That’s how this works: the corporation pays big bucks for the tent and invites their big spending clients to attend with the intention of leaving them forever indebted so they will spend even more money next year. The downside is every so often you have to shake off a few pesky salesmen who keep getting in between you and the guy who set up the informal (and possibly illegal) pony betting pool or the bar. Worse still, it’s usually the same salesman cheerfully introducing himself for the 4th time in an hour since he started drinking while they were setting up the tent six hours ago.

The downside of going under corporate sponsorship is you don’t know anyone else except the people you came with, and standing like a loser in a small huddle for 5 hours can be a drag and ruin the Gold Cup experience. For some, this quick-make-friends requirement would present an insurmountable social challenge, but for my husband, it’s child’s play. I definitely consider myself an extrovert and I’ve even been called bossy, assertive and aggressive at times (don’t get me started…these are standard terms (of endearment Im sure) for women in management where the rest of management are men), but the point is, I’m no wall-flower. However, if my husband is anywhere in the vicinity, the rest of “extroverts” might as well go take a seat, because extrovertness can be relative and he redefines the very concept. The man is big (size) and huge (personality) and massive (voice). And people love him. He draws them in like a magnet. Store clerks, mailmen, customer service reps, health care workers, strangers in line, you name it- they are likely to be in a full-on animated conversation with my husband within moments of brushing by him and swapping business cards 20 minutes later so they can stay in touch. Universally they think he is in Sales (he in corporate finance, chief bean counter, which is an irony that people often cannot recover from.).

In any event, my super-extroverted husband can present a problem for me. Primarily that in purely in comparison I look quiet and dull. This makes me want to scream: “I’m not an introvert! I’m witty, I’m engaging, I’m…” Ah, but why bother, they aren’t paying any attention to me at all, I’m sort of the silent sidekick of my husband. So we’re at Gold Cup and we’ve secured a pub-style table to set our plates on. Now normally, I’d just assume eat in peace and scope out the potential temporary-friends situation afterwards, but my husband is already waving in everyone he sees walk by balancing a plate with their drink and minutes later, it’s so crowded at our table that my purse in on the grass at my feet, and the centerpiece has been pushed over and is now dropping petals onto my sliced pineapple. He’s even managed to land a couple salesmen at our table, which meant we had to pretend to be interested in their business for a few long minutes.

As usual, there are several people who cannot tear themselves away from my husband incessant chatting and are really warming up. A few times, I try to inject, but it’s difficult, since there is never any dead space and you actually can appear quite rude by forcefully interrupting only to say “yeah, I think so too!” or “I remember that!”. So I typically just put this semi-bemused smile on my face and nod. So this woman says to my husband, “You must be in Sales!” Hahaha. No no. He’s not. And she says, “with your personality, I just assumed” and then she looks at me and says (trying to be kind) “And I think you probably have a spark in you too, you take a while to warm up, but I bet it’s in there”. Ugh, condescending! No offense to shy people, but it makes me feel retarded when people assume I can’t function socially out of the gate. Now to my husband’s credit, he raves about me to most people he meets. I don’t know where this enthralled and infatuated man is when we’re at home arguing about whose turn it is to do dishes, but around most strangers, he has me sainted. I’m beautiful, brilliant, stunning in every way. Then he forces these strangers to agree with him. “Isn't she?! Isn’t she?!!” “oh yes, uh huh!” they agree vigorously, because they are under the spell of my husband by this point, and also lets face it, who wants to tick off a big guy?

Well the downside of 15 happy years with someone is you know the stories. You were either actually there when it happened or after hearing about it so many times, you feel like you were. Mostly, you can’t recall which it was anymore, but that doesn’t matter either. The point is, you cannot help to hear a story begin and think “oh boy, here we go again”. At Gold Cup, the first such incident was when my husband started telling a story about our former dog. Now this dog was the biggest doggie-nightmare there ever was. We are talking about a 110lb, barking, drooling, aggressive, non-house trained, epileptic, ball of fur that costs us many, many thousands of dollars and who we loved completely (but had to ditch in favor of our son). The stories from this dog alone, could easily involve an extended weekend stay.

It was clear my husband intended to use an assortment of dog stories on these people, which isn’t in and of itself unusual, but I admit that even I became concerned when he began going into great detail about how we missed the exit on our trip to get the dog from the breeder who lived three hours away (dramatic glance to me as he noted that his navigator dropped the ball and missed the exit). The specifics of this missed exit were beginning to hit the eight minute storytelling mark (‘and so we had to drive to the NEXT exit, which was Route 88, which I think if you took it South would take you all the way to Tennessee and at the off-ramp…”). Now it takes real courage to attempt to entertain people with stories of a missed exit, I mean, when is the last time you missed an exit and thought to yourself “I cant wait to tell people about this one!” But that is what is amazing about my husband- they were riveted, like he was revealing the location of the Holy Grail and giving tomorrow night’s lotto numbers.

Friends often joke that my husband can turn any mundane event into a lively story just by telling it in his booming voice, with his I-appear-to-be-on-amphetamines enthusiasm. But I let them have their jokes; after all, they are the ones who get to hear the endless stories with subjects like taking the garbage, reloading the dishwasher after his wife’s sub-optimal configuration or getting a monthly bank statement.

Naturally my mind was wandering as the dog stories progressed (are my arms getting sunburned evenly? I wonder what I should make for dinner…), until I hear a woman say in a conspiracial whisper, “you should really talk to that woman over there. She had a friend with a big white dog and it bit her arm off”. Whoa. I perked up. “It bit her arm or bit it off?” I asked. “Off. Gone. Right here” She says motioning to her mid forearm. Well, this has never happened before. I’m now getting all excited wanting to talk to this woman about her friends crazy dog, but just then, the announcements for the next race come on so we all rush off to find the “bookie” and place our bets, and I lose sight of the woman in the crowd.

After the horses run by (for the second time in a row my horse wasn’t even there by the time they passed our tent- what the heck is happening to my horses? I’m getting ripped off!), I decide I just cannot take my allergies for another second. The itching is leading to an overwhelming desire to claw at my eyes (which isn’t exactly a couture look), so I asked my husband to hold my drink and I begin to dig in my purse for my allergies medicine. Finding my little miracle blister pack of pills, I raise my head to reclaim my drink, but my husband is gone- my fault for taking my eyes off of him for 30 seconds. Not in the mood to try to gag down a dry pill, I set off in search of him and my drink. I find him towards the back laughing hysterically with an older blond woman I’ve never seen before. As I approach, I see him absentmindedly drop my drink in a nearby trash can. Argh, I’m going to kill him. After a quick detour to the bar, I head over to meet my husband’s newest best friend. He can’t remember her name as usual and the poor woman will have to tell him 15 times in the next 20 minutes until it sinks it, but what the heck. She finds me as cute as a button and thinks she and I look exactly alike. I’m assuming she means other than the 20 years separating us, but I can’t be sure. I excuse myself to go check if I’m suddenly getting crow’s feet.

Fast forward a couple hours and it’s time to leave. I’m beginning to feel guilty about leaving my son with the nanny for so long and after 90 minutes of priming my husband to leave (“5 minutes baby”, “let me just finish this drink baby”, “one more smoke since I don’t smoke anymore baby”), we actually begin walking away from the tent, cousins in tow. The cousins are not used to my husband’s and my rapid walking pace and every 5 minutes, we have to stop for 5 minutes and wait for them to catch up. We finally make it to the car and I’m designated as driver since I was seen drinking a Diet Coke at some point during the afternoon making me most likely to be sober. Actually I suspected this would happen so I did lay off on the booze in anticipation.

We eventually make it home, after a brief stop at the cousins to switch cars and for my husband to have “one quick drink”. We even manage to take our son for his nightly trip to the playground. I can’t say my husband was pushing the stroller in a perfectly straight line, but he did manage to vow that he was giving up the smoking and drinking and now would just do the drinking. He stopped, realizing his vow wasn’t quite the pledge of abstinence it initially appear to be, and we cracked up.

So in the end we survived another year at Gold Cup. Hope to see you there next year (especially if you are the lady with the one-armed friend, I’ve GOT to hear that one).

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Amazing Weight Loss Secrets

Routine bloodwork results are back and my cholesterol level is… (drum roll, please) 176. Not to rub it in, but that is one-seven-six. And this, despite my forgetting to fast before the test. According to my research, below 200 is normal and below 180 is “optimal”. Now, braggarts are annoying, I know, but the last couple of years my cholesterol has been 205. Not sky-high but high enough to get my doctor’s office to mail me photocopied pamphlets on “eating right” and “exercise” with my number of shame penciled in on a “Your Count Is:” line. Naturally I blamed genetics (despite not knowing a single relative’s cholesterol count), but now that I am one of the chosen “optimal” ones, I have reexamined my position (and mounted my high horse).

The truth is, a few extra pounds creeped on since college and a few more creeped on (and stayed on) during pregnancy. But once the baby learned to walk, all bets were off, and I essentially lost 30 pounds chasing after him. I think doctors are surprised at patients being in the normal weight range now- sometimes when contemplating my ailment, they muss, “well I don’t think you’re necessarily underweight”. Um yeah, not officially and not unofficially. I’m not even close to underweight but you know I was so flattered to be considered.

Friends are often fascinated by my weight loss; they ask how I did it or to give them my “secret”. And the diet industry is a quatrillion dollar deal with books and websites and videos- you name it. People are so desperate for the answer to be anything but what everyone knows the answer to be. I know this from experience, but the collective denial is staggering. Is there anyone who truly doesn’t know that if you eat more calories than you expend you will gain weight? (barring unusual medical or emptional issues of course, I dont want a bunch of underactive thyroiders whose houses burned down the day after their divorces finalized flaming me! I'm speaking to average gal who piled on few pounds that now refuse to vacate) It’s the simplest formula yet people act like the magic is elusive. Now, granted you may rev up your metabolism to burn a few extra calories by not eating carbohydrates, or you may find eating fruit gives you the sense of fullness, or that not eating after 8pm is a golden rule, but that doesn’t materially change the bottom line. Calories – exercise = the size of your ass. Now if I could just add some filler around that equation I could publish myself a revolutionary diet book!

If you are or were overweight, what you find out once you lose it, is that you eat a heck of a lot less- if you are like me, less than you probably thought was required to sustain life. I used to think eating a sandwich, a piece of fruit, and maybe a yogurt or a package of crackers was a “balanced lunch”. Well, its not, it’s a one train to fat city. There is a period of adjustment but once you start eating less you find out that you fill up quickly and just aren’t as hungry. And if you can rid yourself of the desperate inhaling of food, its easier to push the plate away when you are full because you’re done, its not really filling any void (hunger or otherwise) to continue. I often just eat an apple for lunch and I’m full. Or just a sandwich. And breakfast cereal every day (and not necessarily the “healthy kind”- dependant on mood). Dinner is not low fat, it’s whatever I make (and most everything I make is 9/10th butter) but I eat until I’m not hungry anymore and then I stop. And because my stomach is smaller, it’s not that much really. I have a sweet tooth so I always have chocolate or cookies at night, but all in all I probably eat 1200-1500 calories a day. I probably used to eat more like 2500-3000 and felt a lot hungrier doing that.

I will admit here, that my ability to cut back on food had a trigger other than my stellar willpower (haha, if you knew my willpower you'd laugh too). For me, going on allergy medicine one Spring seemed to kill my appetite. I don’t know why, and heaven knows my telling my friends this probably led to a huge profit jump in the manufacturer’s product (note: no one was able to duplicate my reaction), but for me, it just did. Once I went off the medicine, I found my smaller stomach kept up the effect, so I suspect once you get through the 4-5 day shrinking (drug induced or not), the effect kicks in.

So the second part of my “amazing secret” is I walk at least 2 miles a day, every day, to take my son to the playground. Now I always walked a lot, but not this much, and I do a lot less sitting around in general since having a child. Activities are important to kids- doing things, going places, exploring- and I cater to that. Like the rest of the world, I still collapse in front of the TV at 9pm (when he goes to bed), but up to that point, I’m usually on the move.

So there you have it. A free preview my “amazing weight loss secret” so that you too can drop your membership in the “help, my arteries are solidifying but I cant put down this HoHo” club. Unless of course you’re one of those “naturally thin” people (grr), in which case you know not of our struggles.

Monday, May 08, 2006

2 is the new...2

I’ve been hearing more and more lately that 45 is the new 35, or 40 is the new 30, or 75 is the new 60- pick your poison. If that’s the case, I’m still in my 20's so I'm feeling pretty good - rock on. Yet it occurred to me, you don’t hear much in regards to the evolving maturity of 2 year olds. It would seem, 2 is 2 is 2. Isn’t it comforting to know we can count on our insane little creatures to uphold tradition even if no one else will?

Forgive me Father, it’s been almost a month since my last blog. Where does the time go? It’s hard to write when you have a two-year old running around sticking lollipops in your hair and incessantly advising you that the letter “B says Bah!”? Ah well, my son is a delightful baby, although I get a lot of feedback when I refer to him as a “baby”. He’s a big boy and I barely get the tags off of clothes before he immediately outgrows them. I experimented in wrapping him in sheets of lycra as an infant as an alternative to packing away clothes that I just bought last week, but I was getting a lot of inquiries on our families "interesting religious garb" so I gave it up and went back to burning money on the alter of the clothing gods. He wears a size 6 at 27 months and his feet are a size 12. The big shoes he has to wear as a result leave him clomping around the house like an elephant with boards strapped to its feet. Poor baby. On the bright side, I’m in pretty good shape from carrying around a 42lb toddler. Sure I have my rough days, but a couple bottles of Advil, a few days in traction and I’m as good as new.

My son, Jack, is actually a hard thing for me to write about because once I start I’m not sure I can stop. I write him a monthly letter for his baby book that captures his life and accomplishments in detail but I will try to stick to the highlights in my blog that no one reads (except for my one "fan" who accidentally stumbled upon this site- yea!!!! At least my personal quota has been met.). Jack is a wonderful child. Especially when he is napping. Haha. Just kidding. He has a sunny disposition and my husband and I, the most unobjective and biased people in his life, find him amazing clever, adorable and smart. He loves the alphabet, knows all the letters and sounds, knows shapes, colors, animal, counts to 100 and even puts away his own laundry. I’m trying to teach him to read but he is pretending it is too advanced for him. If you think I’m pushing him, you haven’t spent time recently as the parent to one toddler. It’s a full time job keeping him entertained. I’m cheating by entertaining him with things he will need to know on his SAT, but kids this age just seem to love learning anything. Its no wonder firstborns have the reputation as demanding and self centered. Seeing the attention we give Jack, I want to go back and be a firstborn myself! I can't believe I'm a middle child. What a total rip off.

However, as much as it pains me to say it, Jack is somewhat of a daddy’s boy. The other night he was playing on our bed and I was trying to entice him to start his bedtime routine by asking him if he wanted to read. “No” he said, definitively. “I see, Jack, what is it you want to do?” I asked. He flopped back on the pile of pillows like a little sultan, a gleam in his eye, and said "remote!”. Curious, I gave it him the remote. He turned on the TV (and it too me how long to figure out this remote myself? My 2 year old can turn on the 11 components as if he was an in utero electronics champion) and I asked “What do you want to watch?”. He said “Footballlllll”. And he was not kidding. Since then I have found myself fighting for control of the remote from my two-year-old who wants to watch ESPN. It’s my worst nightmare. And what with the "hoops" (as my son calls it) championship underway now, I'm about to concede defeat.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Jack shares my husband’s penchant for keeping things orderly. He no sooner drops a grain of rice on the floor than he runs over and gets the broom and starts sweeping furiously. Laundry goes in the hamper almost before you are even finished taking it off, and open doors are most definitely not allowed, they must be closed. (don’t get me started on what goes on with the light switches around here- lets just say I’m often both figuratively and literally in the dark) One of his first words as a 18 month old was “Mess!”. I question how much of my DNA he absorbed at times.