Thursday, April 30, 2009

No (wo)man is an island

I'm the Lone Ranger in many aspects of life. I like to plan things myself, work by myself, meet challenges on my own and then take the credit. Much of the time, it works out just fine. Sometimes, it doesn't.

I'm in one of those situations now, I think. Regular readers will know how I struggle with my weight. In the past, I've always been able to take off the weight when I've put my mind to it. The thing is, there's usually been some sort of external motivation -- like wanting to get a man, or wanting to further my singing career -- and by keeping that goal in mind, I've been able to stay on the path, lose weight, get in shape and stay there.

Now I find myself in a different stage of life. I've got the man. My professional aspirations don't require me to list my weight on my resume. Sure, I'd like to be thinner, and therefore healthier, but I'm not desperate enough to achieve another goal, perhaps, to stick with healthy habits that will make it happen.

So I've decided that maybe what I need is to be held accountable. I've enlisted the help of a few friends to keep me on the straight and narrow, to tell me to put the cookies down and encourage me to go to the gym. One of them -- dear Diana, my hairdresser -- gave the whole project another angle when she told me to invest in an hour of self-care every day.

I started that today, by taking a walk in the sunshine, to get some exercise and have some nice time by myself. It wasn't an hour, but it was a start. I've hidden the chocolate chip cookies I made yesterday in the microwave. I'm planning on a salad with chicken for dinner. I think I may even paint my toenails before I teach.

Here's to the support and encouragement of friends. Knowing they're pulling for me makes it easier to resist the behaviors that will let them down. So far.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

In like Flynn

Earl was elected as a town meeting member today. It's his first elected post, to my knowledge.

He's no stranger to town politics, although he's previously acted only in the capacity of a concerned citizen, and mostly with regard to the public schools. He's very interested in government and politics in general, however, and I suppose it was only a matter of time before he became more formally involved.

When we were dating, I was shocked (well, appalled, really) at how into politics Earl was. I come from a very non-political family, which had slight leanings toward the right but no passionate feelings to speak of on the subject. It was quite the culture shock to discover that my boyfriend not only had passionate (conservative) political feelings, but had no qualms about discussing them, even with my apolitical family.

I worried what his political ambitions would mean for our future. I distinctly remember telling him when we were engaged that I wouldn't make a very good first lady, even of Massachusetts. He told me not to worry about it, so I didn't.

I remain unworried. We're not talking Major Political Step here. It's Town Meeting. It's important, and I'm glad he's been elected, but it probably won't change our lives all that much, except when Town Meeting is actually in session. Abby was worried that we'd have to move to the White House -- worried to the point of tears -- but after multiple assurances to the contrary, she seems to have calmed down about it.

So congratulations to my dear husband. I'm proud of you and know you'll do a great job.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Vacation redux

I've been back home for a couple of days and am more or less settled. The kids and I had a nice time in Rochester, although we all missed Earl.

The best part, by far, was getting a chance to meet my new nephew, Eli, and do some serious baby-cuddling. My boys are still small enough to cuddle, but not like an infant. I'm long past any postpartum hormones, but holding a sweet little life -- the perfect nose! the little fingers! -- was still a joy. And it was also a joy to see my brother and sister-in-law so happy.

We had a good visit with my mom, and also my dad, who came for a visit on Tuesday. I took the kids to The Sandbox with my childhood friend Christine again, and to Village Sports, where my brother helped them do some ice skating. We again had dinner with my friends Craig and Sonme and their delightful children. Craig introduced the boys to the Wii with some sort of car-racing game, which they loved.

I had hoped to get together with a couple other friends, but it didn't work out this trip. Now that I'm not afraid to make the trip by myself with the kids any more, maybe we'll make it a little more often.

It's the last day of vacation, and things are more or less in order: laundry is done; kids' clothes are chosen for the week; Earl and I have gone over our calendars. I've had four little articles hanging over my head for nearly three weeks, and am almost done with the fourth, thank goodness. I do have a lengthy list of tasks for the week, starting with putting the Easter decorations away tomorrow, and opening up the porch before the temperature hits the 90s on Tuesday. I also have some preparations to complete for Abby's first communion party on Sunday. With everything on my list, though, I'll get it done.

The kids are in bed, the windows are open and the Red Sox are playing the Yankees (they've taken two out of three so we're all hopeful about tonight.) I ran a tiny bit yesterday and don't even have sore hamstrings today. All is right with the world.

Sunday morning couplet

The sweetest words on a sunny day
are, "Mom, can we go out and play?"

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Two pieces in today's Ledger

Here is my family column, wonderfully titled by my editor. Wish I'd thought of it.

And here is my article on the Rhododendron Needlers Quilt Guild show, this weekend at Blue Hills Technical High School.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Visitin' the wild, wild West

Here I am in my mom's kitchen in Greece, N.Y. The kitchen of my childhood, or rather, my adolescence.

The kids and I left home just before 5:00 this morning. I was shocked at how much traffic was on the highway that early. I'm not talking stop-and-go, but I couldn't use my cruise control until I'd been on the road nearly an hour. Thankfully, I don't remember much of that first hour -- just listening to quiet kids and sipping my coffee. We had breakfast at Friendly's at exit 2 on the MassPike, and Timmy thoughtfully got the carsickness out of the way before we ate, so he was fine after that.

Everyone got antsy in the car now and then, but overall, it was a good trip. We're all a little tired but I'm running on caffeine and should last until about 6:30, when I will probably fall face-forward into my dinner. We have no big plans today except to meet my new little nephew, Eli, and visit with my brother's family. Tomorrow I have some writing work to do in the morning and then my dad is coming for a visit. Rumor has it that he's bringing more cookies to decorate. We may have to make a supply run to Wegmans at some point.

More updates from this outpost of civilization as they happen.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The empty hamper

I went upstairs this morning to see if they boys needed any help getting dressed or making their beds. When I went into their room, I saw Brian, fully dressed and his bed nearly made. I saw Timmy's clothes on a tangle of blankets. I didn't see Timmy.

"Where's Timmy?" I asked Brian.

"In the hamper," he said.

The boys' large wicker hamper was overturned on its side.

"What's he doing in there?" I asked.

"We're playing Jesus," Brian informed me.

"Oh," I said. "How do you play Jesus?"

"You go in the hamper," Brian said, "and when you come out, you're an angel."

"Oh, wow," I said. Sure enough, out of the hamper crawled Timmy, pushing aside the cover, rolling away the stone. He stood up in his magnificence, his Thomas the Train underwear substituting for a loincloth.

"See? I'm an angel now!" he said.

I'm an expert

I've gained three pounds in two weeks. It takes a special kind of dedicated chocolate-egg-popping and cookie-pilfering to achieve such heights.

That is all.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

God's favorite color

Abby tried on the bodice of her first communion dress today. A gentleman from our church is making the dress for her, and he brought it over today just to make sure it fit. It's going to be beautiful.

I was tucking Abby in bed tonight, and she asked me why her dress had to be white. Not wanting to get into a discussion about the symbolism of the color when it was already past her bedtime, I just told her it was a tradition, just as wedding gowns are always white. But Abby had a different idea.

"I think white is God's favorite color," she said.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter aftermath

We had a lovely Easter. The kids had fun with their baskets and egg hunt, looked adorable in their outfits, were good in church and enjoyed playing with their grandparents. I only had two masses to sing, and it was nice to see them so well-attended. Dinner was delish (my mother-in-law brought racks of lamb, all marinated and ready to roast, mmmmm) and the many desserts we'd made were a welcome extravagance.

But today, everyone is back to school and back to work, and I'm not ready. I'm tired, dealing with the after-effects of too much sugar and not enough sleep. I'm a bit panicked, with lots of writing to do and a busy week ahead. And I don't even get my writing time this morning, as we have Abby's annual IEP meeting at school.

I'll get it done; I always do. But it's a big mountain to start climbing, the day after Easter.

Here's a family photo, taken after church yesterday. I'll have to remember all that Easter sweetness as I'm working away this week.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

My sneaky little boy

Timmy, Timmy, Timmy. Whatever am I going to do with you?

Earlier today, the kids and I were frosting all manner of Easter goodies (see photos in previous post) when I noticed that Timmy had chocolate frosting all over his chin.

Me: "Timmy, were you eating frosting?"

Timmy: "Well..." (looking at ceiling in deep concentration) "...there was some sticking up so I had to eat it."

Then, later -- this one is going to be tricky to explain because it's so visual, but here goes. Timmy had one of those little plastic eggs that splits apart in the middle, but has a little hinge-like thing to keep the two halves together. He was playing with the egg, and opened it up so the two flat edges (from the midline of the egg) were on the same plane, making the two rounded ends right next to each other.

He looked at the egg, put it in one hand, and pulled out his shirt from the bottom with the other. As he was putting the egg-boobs under his shirt, I asked him what he was doing. Thinking quickly, he immediately pulled the egg out of his shirt and put the two halves over his eyes, like little binoculars.

As a friend said to me in the grocery store: he's full of it.

Easter goodies

Second annual bunny cake

Mama Rabbit's little helpers

Easter cookies

Bunny breads

Today's family column

Here's today's Just a Minute. Can't wait to start dating my husband again!

Friday, April 10, 2009

New travel website

I'm pleased to announce that a website that I helped create is now up and running!

No, I had nothing to do with the actual web presence of said website, but I did write a lot of the copy. My first web project!

It's called Skipjump, and it's a vacation rental resource. It's pretty cool, in that it borrows concepts from social networking websites (like Facebook) and applies them to the entire world of vacation accommodations, both for travelers, who need a place to stay, and for owners, who have properties to rent. It features free listings for owners, lots of property photos, online booking tools, and traveler reviews. The best overview can be found on the About page.

Writing-wise, it was a really fun project for me. Matt, the developer, was great to work with, and it was exciting to help him take Skipjump from bare-bones to launch over a few months. Special thanks to my cousin Shelly's husband, Steven, who, after designing the Skipjump logo, put me in touch with Matt.

Check it out -- and if you have a vacation property to rent, give it a try. It's free, and Skipjump is running a contest for the first few months. Owners could win a weekend booking!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Balancing act

There just aren't enough hours in a day. Such a cliche, but it's really true.

I've been very proud of myself for making time to exercise and keeping up with the house, two things I had let slide for a while. But of course, now that I'm dealing with those two obligations better, I'm not writing in my blog as much and not brainstorming story ideas. Throw Easter into the mix, with the few extra preparations and shopping trips, and I start to wonder if I'll ever write again.

That's not completely true, of course; I have a few little assignments to work on, and I could always work ahead so I'm not writing my column on the day before my deadline. But that's generally not how I roll; deadlines are tremendously motivating for me. The other way of saying that is that I can be a champion procrastinator.

Back to balance, or the lack thereof: I suppose being perfectly balanced, doing just the right amount of writing and housework and exercise and self-nurturing, is a pipe dream. These things, and others, naturally have to ebb and flow; when some take precedence, others have to fade into the background. Maybe the secret to being balanced is to be okay with that.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Another pound down

It's my new weigh-in day, and I lost almost a pound (.8, but I'm rounding up. Or would that be rounding down?)

I did pretty well this week -- missed exercise on Sunday, but there were more pressing matters to take care of that day.

I'm moving slowly, but I'm moving in the right direction, and that's what counts.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Revelus family tragedy column

Here is the link to the column I wrote for the Patriot Ledger on the Revelus family tragedy. Rest in peace, Revelus children, and get well soon, Sarafina.

Revelus family column

I was asked to write a special edition of "Just a Minute" about the Revelus family tragedy. It's running on the front page of this afternoon's Patriot Ledger. If the column itself gets put online, I'll share the link.

I got some very nice feedback from the editorial staff at the Ledger and am humbled and pleased that they wanted to run the column on page one. It's bittersweet, though; while I'm excited to be the lead story, I so, so wish I never had occasion to write it at all.