Tuesday, April 29, 2014

all thumbs

First, a warning: if you are easily grossed out or squeamish about fingernail injuries, you should probably just come back another day.

Still here? Okay. So, remember about three months ago when I shut my thumb in the car door? First half my nail turned black...or rather, the scab / blood underneath spread about halfway up. The nail on top was still nail-colored. Then a small gap formed at the bottom, and because I am by nature a picker, I picked at it. After a while, it looked like this:

It grew (or was pushed out by the new nail underneath, really) and I trimmed it a few times. More pieces came off, and now it looks like this:

Plus I snagged it putting on my jeans the other day and so it's sort of loose on one side but not the other. It's so incredibly gross and I kind of wish it would just fall off already. I am reminded of the cringeworthy scene in Wild when Cheryl Strayed pulls off her toenails to relieve the pressure / pain of the damage they've suffered inside her boots. Okay, now I'm grossed out, and that's saying something.

Thursday, April 24, 2014


I have been quietly trying to pick up some healthier habits this past month, all in the hope that I might start losing the 30 pounds of baby weight that breastfeeding and babywearing has predictably failed to shift off my ass. I switched back to those low carb flatbread sandwich thingies and I've been taking barely-sweetened iced tea to work to drink at lunch. I've been trying to avoid mindless junk snacking at work and home, to varying degrees of success (Easter candy is a bad influence). I am also interested in going back to boot camp at the gym, but between not having the money to buy good shoes and being so out of shape that I really don't think I'd make it through a class, I figured I need to do some groundwork first. (Boring exercise-y bullshit ahead) I poked around online looking for a squats and abs challenge that I could do for a month and see if it helped at all. The choices for something that wasn't too intense but also wasn't too easy were pretty slim. I ended up combining a squats / pushups challenge, a crunches challenge, and a hand weights set list I made up myself with five-pound weights and stuff I remember doing in boot camp. These are what I started with:

In finding links for the arm exercises, I have learned that what I called back fly is actually a reverse fly. Here's what I'm doing: biceps curls, lateral raises, reverse fly, triceps raise / curl / extension.

I haven't stuck perfectly to the schedule - I've skipped nights for a bad headache / cramps, falling asleep accidentally before remembering to go up and do my exercises, having social plans, or not planning to take a shower and therefore hoping to avoid getting sweaty. Overall, though, I think I've skipped fewer than ten nights out of the month. And if I do miss, I don't go back to the lower numbered days that I skipped, I just do the assigned day's numbers. I also have skipped most of the assigned rest days to make up for missed days. I did end up modifying the squat / pushup challenge by accident - I didn't realize that I was supposed to switch to three sets instead of two during the third week. When I realized that a few nights ago, I believe I snorted out loud and said "fuck that!" to my phone. The squats are no big deal, but the pushups are killing me. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've hit my pushup wall as I was unable to finish my second set of 20 tonight. I'm going to say I'm just not built for pushups, but really it's probably more that I'm fat and out of shape with no core strength to speak of. I will do my best to soldier on with two sets of increasing pushups per night, but I suspect I might get stuck at 20 for a while. I also modified my made-up hand weights challenge. Instead of doing two sets of 25 in week three, I went to three sets of 15 and then three sets of 20 (which is where I am now).

I do think that I'm getting incrementally stronger. I'm pretty sure on April 1st I couldn't have done 125 crunches or 35 pushups or three sets of 20 lateral raises. I've been pondering what to do for May ever since I started April, and after considering it during my exercises each night, I think this is my plan:

1. Repeat the squats / pushups challenge from the beginning, but doing three sets each night instead of two. If I get stuck at a 20 pushup limit, I may try three sets of 15 until I can get through them without too much struggle.

2. 150 crunches each night, in three sets of 50.

3. For arms, I'm still debating. I don't know if I should do three sets of 20 for a few weeks or two sets of 25, or start at the beginning but go up to my eight-pound weights. I'll keep considering. Right now the only reps that are challenging are the lateral raises.

It's also becoming apparent that I really have to add some kind of cardio type activity if I hope to lose any weight. Perhaps the dreaded boring-ass rickety treadmill in the basement? MB installed the Netflix app on my phone and our iPad, and I'm working my way through some Ken Burns documentaries right now, so that might work. Or I could watch one of the shows that have been recommended to me like Orange is the New Black or Scandal. Suggestions welcome! I suppose I could also get out with the dog after the kids are in bed, at least until it gets hot. We'll have to see. There are enough barely-trafficked streets in our neighborhood that I could probably walk at least a mile without too much trouble. I could also do some of the cardio warm-up exercises I remember from my boot camp class, as long as my shin splints don't come back. Oh, aren't you just riveted by my wimpy little workout details?

Reading:  Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett

Playing:  my driving mix. I'm pleased to report that Nico now likes "Fault Line" and "Ain't No Easy Way" by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and calls them his songs.

Monday, April 21, 2014

holiday weekend photo explosion

I really, really wanted to go camping this past weekend. I made sure I'd have Saturday off, then when I found out MB was getting Friday off, I took that day off, too. I was looking forward to it so much, but then the logistical reality of a three-hour drive to / from the park I wanted to go to versus needing to be at my family Easter dinner at 3 pm on Sunday collided to change the original plan. I campaigned to camp at a closer park or to only camp Friday night, but we ended up not camping at all. I won't lie - I was pretty terribly disappointed. But the weekend turned out nice anyway, so I'm mostly over it.

One of the local museums had a free admission day on Friday, so I took the kids to that. I'm glad we didn't pay because they really don't have much for kids my kids' ages to do, but since it was free it was a nice little morning activity. The weather was amazing (which did increase my no-camping bitterness), so Nico got to play in the yard while Elliott napped Friday afternoon.

On Saturday we did go for a hike at a nearby state park. We started on a 1 1/2 mile loop, but hit a bridge that was underwater at the halfway point. Our choice was to turn back or to continue onto a longer loop, and we decided to press on. It was a 3 1/2 mile hike in total, which was just a little bit too long for Nico. He did complain in the final stretch that he was tired of walking and his legs hurt, but he made it to the end without any major meltdowns or an overabundance of whining. I was really proud of him, and told him so. I wish I had a photo of the way his face lit up when I told him we had made it to the end and asked him for a high five. He was pretty proud of himself, too, I think. After our walk we had a nice picnic lunch under a tree, then headed home.

(awkward baby back-carry selfie!)

Once we got home Nico and I dyed eggs. He was initially very concerned as to why the eggs were dying. This was the first year we tried dyeing real eggs and he seemed to like it. After the eggs he went down for a nap which turned into him sleeping from about 4:30 pm until the next morning. Poor kid was tuckered.

The Easter baskets were a pretty big hit. Nico made adorable / hilarious gasps of surprise when he opened the eggs containing his Lightning McQueen socks and pull-back race car. Elliott was sufficiently impressed with his light-up balls and kept holding them above his head and laughing maniacally. They both enjoyed their rainbow Goldfish. I ended up feeling like I'd bought just the right amount of things for them, which is always nice.

I never caught a shot of Elliott in victory pose, but this one continues to crack me up.

We went over to my aunt's house around 3:00 for the annual family egg hunt and dinner. Sadly, Elliott fell asleep on my mom's shoulder mere minutes before it was time to hide the eggs and didn't wake up until just after the hunt was done. I seriously considered waking him up to hunt, but I suspected it would've just made him really cranky so I didn't. Unfortunately this is the only photo I got of him in his cute little shirt.

Nico had a great time collecting eggs for both himself and his brother, and managed to score a bunch of the eggs my mom brought, which were stuffed with marshmallows and teddy grahams. He only had two eggs with peanut butter cups inside, which MB was happy to confiscate for Nico's safety. Nico did refuse to pose nicely for me with his basket for the first time, like some kind of tiny teenager.

awake, just moments too late

Because Monday always feels like an extension of the weekend (and because there are cute pictures), I'm going to include today as well. The boys and I had a pretty busy day and they were both fantastic. We started at baby story time at the library, then moved on to the community playgroup. At playgroup, Nico cooperatively played with another little boy from his preschool for quite a while, loading blocks into a dump truck and delivering them for the other kid to add to the wall he was building. It was really great to see him playing with another kid properly and well without any adult coaching. Elliott did some toddling and some crawling, tasted lots of toys, and eventually found a pile of cloth panels with wired edges that can be velcroed together to make cubes and tunnels and tents. I built him a bit of a half-assed tent and he had a blast crawling in and out of it. Nico had a bit of a difficult spell during circle time at the end of playgroup, but managed to get it together and then was great through lunch with grownup friends and a trip to Target. It was one of those days where I felt like a competent and confident mom, proud to be seen with my awesome kids whose company I thoroughly enjoyed. Altogether, an A+++ day.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Easter baskets!

Every holiday I think it's going to be the last one that Nico is oblivious enough for me to buy stuff at Target while he's there, and then the next one comes around and I manage to sneak stuff past him yet again. Not complaining! Because I like seeing other people's Easter basket posts, here's mine:

Elliott is getting a stuffed bunny I found in my Easter basket / egg stash in the attic, a box of Goldfish, two board books, a peg puzzle he'll enjoy chewing on, and two light-up balls. When he saw the same kind of balls at a friend's house after Christmas they straight-up blew his mind, so I'd been obsessively checking the dollar spot at Target ever since. They finally had some a few months ago, so I bought three.

Nico is getting Goldfish, an egg of M&Ms, a Pete the Cat Easter book, Lightning McQueen socks, a little pullback car, a bubble blower toy, a light-up ball, a little kite, a puzzle, and a front loader.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


Now that Elliott is nearing full bipedal status, I figured he could use a little more space to play. A few nights ago, I took his big square pen apart and used the pieces to build two fences, one to close the gap between the living room and dining room and one to block access to the fireplace and bookcase. I spent most of today cleaning the floors and shuffling the toys around so that Nico's big boy stuff is safely behind a gate in the playroom and the things Elliott is old enough to share are out where he can reach them. I'm happy with how it turned out, and Elliott greatly enjoyed scattering things all about after his nap.

I don't have a photo, but we bought Elliott his first pair of shoes yesterday and they are so cute. I had hoped to keep him in soft-soled shoes for a while, but because Nico's feet were so much bigger at this age, his hand-me-downs fall right off Elliott's feet. We went to Target to try on new ones and found that his feet are too fat for the 6-12 month size, but far too small for the 12-18 month size. I'm okay with him wearing just socks anytime we're indoors, but with trips planned to state parks and zoos plus a family vacation in the next few months, I wanted him to have some kind of actual shoes to wear outdoors. We got him a tiny pair of size fives with flexible soles (these, in navy) and I made him practice toddling up and down the aisle wearing them and nearly died of the cute.

Our air conditioner is not currently working and I am beyond frustrated about it. We had a brief moment of rejoicing when we thought that replacing a fuse had fixed the issue, but after a brief celebration it became clear something was still amiss. All the working parts were replaced in May 2008, so I'm pretty furious that it has already broken down. I'll be calling the company that did the installation tomorrow to see if there are any warranties covering anything, then I guess we'll find out how much the fix will cost. If I could go back in time, I certainly would not pay to fix the furnace only to have to turn around and fix the air conditioner. Ugh. So cranky!

Spider day at preschool went really well. I read the kids two books and talked to them about how spiders have eight legs and two body parts, then I showed them the tarantula. They loved her and kept going to the table where I'd put her cage to look at her again. I had explained to them that we weren't going to touch the tarantula because its bristly hairs can make us really itchy, but one of the kids really, really wanted to touch the spider. She sidled up to me while I was helping one of the other kids make a spider puppet and whispered, "Miss velocibadgergirl? I want to pet the spider." When I reminded her that we couldn't because it would make us itchy, she earnestly told me, "I want to be itchy." I promised her that I'd find some animals she could touch when the class comes to see me on their field trip in May, and she seemed willing to accept that.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

I swear

Nico and I were at the grocery yesterday, putting packages of baby fruit into his kid-sized cart, when he cheerfully said, "Goddammit, this cart is really full!" in his sweet little voice. I won't pretend I don't know where he's heard that before...we try to mind our language in front of him but we aren't perfect and little pitchers have big ears. I would guess we probably swear a lot more than the average parents of small children, but I decided a long time ago that our kids are almost certainly going to hear swear words, whether from us, our adult friends (most of whom don't have kids), television, or (eventually) other kids. I'll try to mind my mouth, but I'm not going to beat myself up over it. I also decided that we aren't going to tell Nico and Elliott that swear words are bad words or react with shock / anger when they inevitably say them (though it's really hard not to laugh), because it seems to me that just adds a layer of thrill / shock value to it that will make the kids more likely to swear. Instead we tell Nico that swears are "grownup words," and that he's not old enough to use them yet. I figure it's not that much different from the other things he is not yet old enough to have, like soda or a 10 PM bedtime. So when he used the word (in correct context and with impeccable pronunciation), I told him, "No, sir. That is a grownup word. You are not allowed to use that word, ever." Being Nico, he asked me, "Why can't I say goddammit, Mommy? Why is that a word that only Daddy can use?" (which: Ha! Yes, let's blame Daddy and I'll pretend I'm blameless today.) and my life might as well have a "what Swistle said" macro for situations like this. I told him that Daddy knows what the word means and understands when it is appropriate to say it and plus he's a grownup. Luckily for me the whole chat took place in an empty aisle, safely before the appearance of the sweet grandmotherly woman with whom Nico struck up a detailed conversation about the Hot Wheels car he was buying with his piggy bank money, the dump truck and cement mixer on his raincoat, the food we were buying, and the fact that his hair is "a little bit red."

Today the theme at preschool was insects. Nico picked out his bug shirt without prompting, carried a toy butterfly and his magnifying glass to school for show and tell, and made a ladybug out of a paper plate. When I dropped him off, he rushed into his classroom and gave his teacher a hug, then headed off to find his spot in the circle. I had to remind him to come back and give me a goodbye hug. He learned a song about the parts of an insect, which he told me about during bedtime. "It's head, shoulders, knees, and toes," he explained to me, "except it's head, thorax, and abbumend." Oh, kid. I love you and your whipsmart brain and your little-bit-red hair. It's my day to be class helper on Thursday, the day they're learning about spiders. I'm doing double duty as a special guest speaker, since the class aide has to book one as part of her practicum class. I will be bringing a Chilean rose-haired tarantula I borrowed from my boss, so I told Nico this evening that I'd be the helper on Thursday and that I'd be bringing a big spider for the kids to see and he told me he wanted to pet the spider. Excellent answer, my son, though sadly impossible this time. I do hope that the children will find it immensely impressive.

Not to be outdone in the cuteness department, Elliott spent his day doing this:

It's a happy / sad (but mostly happy) day!

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Stuff that is up

1. Poor Elliott has a full-on spring cold. Is there anything worse than a cold right when the weather finally gets nice? Yes, there is...a BABY with a cold right when the weather finally gets nice. He's all snot-nosed and stuffed-up and pitiful and I feel bad that he's really too big to sleep propped up in his bouncy chair this time around.

2. Said baby is now taking fairly stable unassisted steps. Never more than three or four, but steps. It's exciting and sad all at once!

3. Another thing that might be worse than a spring cold is that our furnace went out two weeks ago. The furnace guy came and tinkered around and said that because the furnace was 26 years old, there weren't really any parts available. He thought he'd be able to round up a bunch of pieces from the shop and cobble something together that might last another year for about 500 bucks. Since a whole new working and warrantied furnace only (ONLY. HA.) cost $2500, we decided not to gamble on the Frankenstein option. It hasn't ruined our year or forced the cancellation of our (very, very modest) vacation plans, but it has left us tightening our metaphorical belts and sighing a lot over our credit card balance. Adding insult to injured finances, we had to get it fixed because it got down to 20 degrees the night it was broken and 17 degrees the next night after it was fixed...but we haven't had to use it since. If the thing had managed to hang on for two more damn days, we could've put off fixing it until the fall. Not that there's ever a good time to have to spend thousands of dollars on an unexpected home repair, but still.

4. Despite being pretty well-behaved on the "no unnecessary spending" front lately, I found these on sale at JC Penney the other day and could not resist getting one for each kid. They're totally wearing these for any and all camping trips we take this year.

5. I have had a major itch to write fiction again lately but I can't think of anything to write. I keep hoping inspiration will strike.

6. It's been storming off and on for about 24 hours, plus we had heavy rain for most of the day. I do love a good thunderstorm, but they turn Indy into an excruciatingly whiny mess. I try to be sympathetic but the constant panting, whining, and clinging is seriously wearing on my nerves. It would be easier if anything we've ever tried to help him worked in the least, but nothing does. We even tried getting him one of those thunder shirts and the shirt itself gave him anxiety. Dog, I'd send you to therapy if I could...but since I can't, please stop panting at me. Please.

7. The amount of rain that's fallen today is nearly unbelievable. I just flipped on the TV to check the weather report because the storm sirens went off and apparently we're supposed to get 3 1/2 inches per hour for the next three to four hours. Knowing that the water cycle is a closed system, I'm beginning to wonder if there's a lake somewhere that's drying up or something. (Okay, not really, but on a scale of 1 to 10, it's a HOLY SHIT amount of rain.)

8. MB has been making fun of me for how often I listen to this Pink song, but it's his fault since I'd never heard of it until he told me to put it on my driving mix. Apparently we have listened to it in the car enough times that Nico has been wandering around singing it after MB picks him up from my parents' house. You'll have to excuse the boring / typo-y lyrics version of the video here...the real video is semi-NSFW due to lots of Pink in her scanties, per usual. I can't help it; I love her anyway.