Sunday, August 30, 2009

Love for the library

The library in our new hometown is amazing. It is large, spacious, and beautifully designed. Its kids' section is full of book for the little ones, but it doesn't end there. It includes two train tables, a nook with puzzles, a dollhouse, and a screened in porch with a Lego set. And besides the books, the library also offers DVDs, CDs, and these story book kits. I find it all very impressing.

We enrolled the boys in the summer reading program, racking up points for reading, singing songs, and saying rhymes. After each segment, the kids got a sticker and sometimes a prize. At the end, they were invited to a pool party. All this in a suburb of less than 30,000.

The county we moved from in Oregon shut down its public library system for a time because of a lack of funding. It made national news. It later reopened for a very small number of hours a week. I am glad people in Wisconsin value their public libraries more.

We are now frequent visitors to the library. We go at least once a week for storytime, my evening book club, or just to get out of the house. Q has been repeatedly watching his rented DVDs about trains, fire engines, and garbage trucks. Most of the DVDs are highly educational and some even allow the kids to read along with the words on the bottom of the screen.

So we are library rats now. I have read some great books as part of the book club. Since I have been here, we read The Life of Pi, The Forest Lover, and The Devil in the White City. I am now reading Water for Elephants. They have all been excellent.

Despite our love for the library, we did have a little drama this week there. I was wrangling the kids from train table, to bookshelf, to Lego area when R disappeared. Now if Q gets separated from T or me, he panics and screams. R however, relishes the freedom and makes a break for it. And he is getting fast. I realized he was no longer wobbling along by my side and quickly began searching between the stacks. I couldn't find him near the toys, in the kids' section, or even in a quiet area of the adult section. I am ashamedly told the children's librarians that I was missing a child, and they helped me look. Those little buggers are hard to spot because they are so short!

Eventually, a librarian flagged me down and pointed to R happily toddling along. As I ran to catch up with him he sped up giggling all the way. Little stinker.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Six years

Today is our anniversary. Six years ago today, T and I got married. Now three states, two kids, and three pets later, we are back in the state where our wedding took place.

T and I switch off who plans the anniversary celebration. He does the odd years, and I take the even. Usually we go away for a weekend, but this year we stayed in and the kids went away. It was lovely. I dropped the boys off at my parents' on Friday afternoon. When T got home we made dinner and went to see Bruno which was simultaneously hilarious and disturbing.

Saturday we slept in late, went to the farmers market, and lazed around the house. We went out for dinner at a ritzy French restaurant and then on a moonlight cruise on one of the lakes around here.

This morning we grabbed brunch (I had an amazing bruschetta with baked brie, Granny Smith apples, and roasted garlic spread and a Bloody Mary) and a nap.

Finally in late afternoon we went to get the kiddoes. I missed them! I was beaming as R toddled over to give me a sloppy, open-mouthed kiss.

It was a relaxing, calm weekend that gave T and I time to focus on each other. And it gave me the space I needed to appreciate my children.

It was just what we all needed.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Pain in the back

Ouch! My back hurts! I am so tired of it. It started during my pregnancy with R: intense hip and pelvic pain. After his birth, I went to a chiropractor and a physical therapist and sometimes felt a bit better but the pain always returned.

It is concentrated in my left lower back and is like an achey spasm. Sometimes a nerve-y feeling shoots down my left leg. But the weirdest thing is that my hips and pelvis are often crooked, especially after I run or when I wake up in the morning. I was told I needed to strengthen my core muscles, and I needed to stretch my hip flexors.

Finally, my new primary care doctor had another doctor look at me and he said my ligaments in my hips were weakened and loose from the stress of pregnancy and childbirth. He recommended prolotherapy in which a doctor injects sugar water or some other irritant into your ligaments in the hopes they will rebuild themselves. The problem is, if I have more children my ligaments will get all loosy-goosy again.

So I have been holding off. But this morning, I woke up with my hips crooked to the right and my left lower back screaming. I very gingerly lean over to tie my shoes or pick up toys. I wince when I lift R out of his crib or hoist Q over the baby gate. It's an unfortunate condition when you teach fitness classes and have two toddlers.

Fed up, I called my doctor again. I am now scheduled to go in for a manipulation, similar to what a chiropractor does. As in the past, this will only be a temporary fix, but I am desperate for anything.


T and I and two couples from my mom's group are going out for dinner tonight without the kids. Ahhhhh. I am off to shower and make myself presentable.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Baby boom

Babies are popping up everywhere! Two of my good friends are becoming mothers this week. One welcomed a baby girl on Saturday and the other is in labor as I type this. Congratulations Alison and Annie! A new world of joy awaits you. (Not to mention sleeplessness, fussing, poo, and diaper rash!)

R was born just 16 months ago but it feels like the distant past already. I can barely imagine being pregnant or nurturing a newborn. Those moments are so fleeting and too often you are wishing for them to be over as they are happening.

I watch with pride as my boys accomplish each new milestone from the first tooth to the first step, from saying "Doggie!" to speaking in sentences. But a large part of me mourns the passing of time. They will never be tiny babies again. This part of our lives is steadily moving by. New discoveries and joys are ahead of course, but it is somewhat sad to leave others behind to exist only in your memory.


An update on the salamander pile: no one seems to have ever seen anything like that. Even the maintenance guy was mystified. The amphibians seem to be dead now. Kind of sad really but still gross.


Q and I participated in a market research study the past two weeks. I can't reveal the product under penalty of death, but it was a fun experience, and I will get paid. That's the best part. Q had to try out the new product (it didn't go so well), and I had to keep a blog of our experiences. Then we went to a focus group discussion last Friday. It was fun and kind of cool to influence product development like that. The best blog (it had to be private for just the company and the researchers) gets an extra $50. I really hope I earn that.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009


We found this disgusting pile of salamanders outside our home this morning. It was in a window that goes down to the underground garage. Q's ball went in there, and he came over to tell me he didn't like the snake in there. Ew. I very carefully reached in and got his ball and then backed away quickly.

Later I called over the cop who lives across the street to take a look and tell me if this was normal in the Madison area, as we are new here. He said he had never seen anything like it before.

The worst thing is they were moving. All wriggling around. So gross. I feel all creepy-crawly now.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Third-life crisis

I feel a bit confused lately. I just can't seem to make up my mind where I want to be next in life, and even if I did know, I feel like I don't have that control.

Sometimes when staying at home is frustrating and mind-numbing, all I want to do is return to a full-time, meaningful job. I used to be successful! I was good at what I did! I have two college degrees! So I still apply for jobs from time to time but obviously the market is flooded with people even more qualified than me.

I do enjoy teaching fitness classes. I am passionate about it, and it does have a number of perks: staying in shape, a gym membership, and sometimes free child care. But I even feel unqualified to do this sometimes. Granted I have been doing it for eleven years and have all my certifications, but many of the people I teach with have college degrees in this area. I just feel over-matched every way I turn.

Sometimes I think I want to go back to college and get my MBA or a law degree or a Masters in Journalism. But then I look at the admissions statistics at UW Madison and feel deflated again. Plus I think I would be pursuing those degrees because I think I should or because I think it looks good on paper.

I wish I felt worthwhile enough just by raising my children. But I don't. I feel left behind somehow. Though I felt being a working mom was exhausting and overwhelming, I look back on it fondly.

I am hoping the right path just appears in front of me. The harder I look for it, the more confused I become.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Triumphant return

Well, that may be overstated, but after a little breather, I am ready to go again.

I had kind of a rough week last week for a variety of reasons. I was not feeling well, I was stressed, tired, and a little lost in my routine. I just needed a moment to step back, gather myself up, and surge ahead.

So I am back. I feel much brighter-eyed this week. I feel a bit calmer and slightly more in control.

Last week to be honest, my kids were overwhelming me a bit. R is rapidly turning into a toddler and getting into everything in sight. In the bathroom, he splashes in the toilet and unravels the toilet paper. He barges into the shower and grabs makeup off the counter. He fusses when he doesn't like what is happening around him and throws things.

Q is of course still in full-fledged toddler mode, so the two of them together are a force to be reckoned with. R has learned how to climb onto the stool, the rocking chair, and the little bike, all items that used to belong solely to Q. When R gets into place, Q revolts and tries to horn his way in. I have become the referee of their tiny, irrational battles. It might seem silly and trite, but it can be exhausting and frustrating.

Both tend to be glued to my side at all times as well. I am sure someday I will miss that quality when they just grab the car keys and disappear out the front door. But for now, I could use a little space now and then. Q has never been one to watch a cartoon or a movie for more than 30 seconds. He gets excited when he sees a firetruck or helicopter on the news, but that is about the extent of it. However, we recently got a chintzy little DVD included in a toy farm set. Q loves it. It has five short episodes, and he sits entranced pointing out balloons and doggies. I must admit, I like the solitude it grants me (if you don't count R).

I do not intend to become a mother who parks her child in front of cartoons or Disney movies for the balance of the day, but this little slice of (educational) entertainment is just what I need at this point.