Category Archives: running

Bestill my beating…

Mondays are sacred around here. If M and I make it through the weekend in one piece, we dive into Mondays with the kind of glee that only comes from getting a much needed break from five children. My weeks generally get less productive as they go along. Appointments crop up and swallow up my mornings, someone gets sick and swallows an entire day, and by Thursday I can pretty much waive the rest of the week away.

So on Mondays I really do try to get as much work done as possible. Today, however, there were forces conspiring against me from the very beginning of the day.

Last night’s consumption of about thirty latkes made this morning’s run painful and SLOW. Sidney was clingy and wasn’t having any of the babysitter. When I finally pried her off my legs, I squeezed in a hour of work, only about one forth of which was actually any good. (Am I proud that out of 60 minutes, only 20 produced anything to be proud of? No, I am not.) At some point, after she’d napped for 30 minutes, I hear Sidney call me from her crib.

“Help, there’s a big mess in here.” Clearly, that can be ignored. Hello, fifteen more minutes of work.

“Help! There’s lots of blood in here!” And that cannot be. I don’t wait for the sitter to get her, I bolt out of my office and into her room.

By “blood,” she meant “poo,” of which there was copious amounts all over her crib as well as her body. She seems to have shot crap out the side of her diaper and then spent about 10 minutes or so silently playing with the stuff, so by the time I got in there it was coating her limbs, her torso, one of her cheeks and all of her stuffed friends. There’s nothing cute about a shit-covered pillow pet.

I couldn’t casually walk out, hoping the sitter would hear her and take care of the whole thing, because I was already in there, holding a crapped out baby and could be heard swearing over the monitor … so it was too late for a getaway. I pissed away another 30 minutes cleaning it all up.

Headed back into my office when the phone rang. Whenever I see the school pop up on the caller ID I wonder if today’s the day Bennett will be caught teaching the sixth graders how to play strip poker, but today’s adventure was different. It was the school secretary/nurse/uber-Jewish mother.

It seems Bennett was in her office with heart palpitations. I kid you not. He was playing basketball outside and came in, short of breath and all flushed. Yeah, it’s called exercise people. After she took his temperature and checked his pulse, I assured her he didn’t have asthma or a heart condition (even though I was rapidly developing one) and told her to tell him to bide his time for 30 minutes then get his ass on the school bus.

Ten seconds later the phone rings again.

“Can you come and get me, please?”

“Bennett,” I say, “You’re fine. Get on the bus and I’ll see you in an hour.”

“Why aren’t you taking me seriously?” And that thing that just flew out the window, ladies and gentlemen, was the rest of my day. I could have said, “because you’ve already faked two sick days this year,” or “because I just spent half an hour scraping shit off your sister and I the last thing I want to do is drive for 2o minutes to come and pick you up from school when you’re just fine.” But I said neither. His line worked, and as I was bundling up my coat and purse and heading out to the car, I said:

“I’m bringing a pair of paddles with me, and you bloody well better have a heart attack in the car on the way home, otherwise this will be another hour of my day pissed away.” But I don’t think he heard me. He had handed the phone back to the nurse who told me that I was about to win the Mother of the Year award for coming out to get him.

Yeah, I’ll bet. With my luck they’ll probably schedule the ceremony on a Monday….

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Filed under Hanukkah, health, parenting, running, Seattle, sports, Uncategorized, work from home, work life balance, working from home

Miso Dirty

Parents and food writers are constantly yammering on about serving their children breakfast for dinner. What a treat it is! How easy! they exclaim. Why did we never think of this before?!

Perhaps for them pancakes for dinner is both a treat and an easy meal, but not in this house. Alas, I cannot get some of my kids to even eat breakfast for breakfast. 

Several of the kids have sworn off milk, and I do not consider dry cereal breakfast. Yogurt and eggs fall in an out of favor. And even the fun breakfast foods are unpopular: Not only do waffles and pancakes go largely uneaten, but I generally find Bennett’s portion wedged under the table top several days after I’ve served it. Sometimes I even find it months later, fossilized in its own mold. Frankly, once you’ve seen a waffle in advanced decay, it’s hard to eat one again. (Also, it’s hard for me to scold him when I used to do the same thing with the soggy, gelatinous, boiled carrots I was served in school, but I scraped mine under the chair.)

So you can imagine how thrilled I was when I discovered that my difficult breakfast eaters wanted miso soup for breakfast. At the hotel in Vancouver they served an Asian breakfast as part of the breakfast buffet, with miso soup and several salads. Oh, and a ton of rice. The kids were so mesmerized, that when I came home we whipped up a batch and they’ve been sucking it down ever since. It even travels well in a thermos.

Yes, I feel rather smug and Gwynesque about the whole thing – although her recipe is way too labor intensive and not any better than the one I make by throwing miso and water in a blender, blitzing it, adding some soy sauce and then heating (never boiling) it on the stove:

But, while it’s all very good and healthy that I’m carting around a thermos of miso instead of coffee, miso soup is an ugly dribble. It’s one thing to spill coffee on yourself when you’re driving, but if you do it with miso, you look like this:

Yup, that’s miso soup and not puke on my arm. And I spent the day like that because not only did I not have a free second to change, but I could not for the life of me figure out what else to put on once my running jacket was mucked up. Pathetic. And if I have seaweed in the soup, it’s worse — because that just looks like dried-up, caked-on boogers, and frankly the kids wipe enough of the real variety on me.. I don’t need any more.

The boys in this house may not be getting any breakfast at all tomorrow. In fact, I may refuse to feed them for the week. In addition to setting off stink bombs in the girls’ bedroom, they decided to go all out and stuff rocks into Fiona’s pillow and water balloons and fake ants into Francie’s bed. Luckily, they’re dumb as hell and we heard them bragging to anyone who’d listen, so M snuck in and de-pranked the room before the girls went in.

Miso? Those little turds are getting bread and water.

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Vancouver, or bust.

I adore Vancouver, so much so that I think it may be my favorite North American city. Each time we go I make plans for our inevitable move, and it’s not just because I have a love/hate relationship with Seattle (I had to put the “love” in or M would accuse me of being a downer.)

So I jumped at the chance to run a half marathon there this morning. I contemplated going alone, but brought the crew with me because it’s always nice to have a cheering squad and who DOESN’T want to travel with five kids in tow?

M was giddy with anticipation, completely unrelated to my race or the actual weekend. Thanks to that interview with the Canadian mounties that took place on the snowiest day of the year (see this story),we now have Nexus passes, which allow us to zip in and out of Canada without a border wait. He had been very patient and could not wait another moment to use those passes.

The drive to the border was uneventful, save a constant downpour. As we fly across the border, ignoring a thirty minute wait, M said, no less than six times, “Well, I guess those Nexus passes paid for themselves,” and I am rather certain he also smirked at the line of Nexus-less cars and hollered, “Suckas!”

But our jubilation was short lived because once we were over the border and on the road into Vancouver, we hit some traffic and I asked M, “Hey, what’s that burning smell?”

M looked at the dashboard, looked back at me and said, without flinching, “Oh, that’s us.”

As smoke wafts up from out engine, we pull over to the side of the road in pouring rain. The traffic has now completely stopped, and it pretty much stays that way for two  hours, which is how long it takes for a taxi to come and pick up me and the kids and take us to the hotel. (It took over four hours for the tow truck to get to M and tow him and the minivan into Vancouver.)  In the meantime, the baby, after being cooped up for about four hours with nary a second of sleep, loses it and demands to be let out of the car. So I put on her raincoat and mine and we walk around in the rain. The shoulder of the road is thin and there’s only a huge patch of grass, but it’s goopy and muddy, and have I mentioned that I’m wearing flip-flops? At some point most of us get out and walk around and kind Canadian drivers asks if we need help and offer us candy. At some point M, the baby, and Bennett go looking for our taxi who can’t find us, but insists that we should be able to see him because he is flashing his lights. A photo:

You can’t see the rain, but it’s coming down.. even if it thinned now and then. Eventually the cab comes and I’m afraid he won’t let all the kids in without car-seats (I didn’t have an ounce of strength left) until he looks at me and asks, “You put baby in front?”  I assumed we be just fine without the car-seats.

“Baby” was a holy terror on the ride and we sing her every song we can to calm her down until she looks at me, grabs both my ears and yells “DOGGY IN WINDOOOOOW!” So all six of us sing multiple rounds of that song. Thank goodness we knew all the verses.

Eventually we get to the hotel, and when we walk into the lobby we are dazed and mud-splattered. The kids, thrilled to be liberated from a car, lay waste to the lobby, walking on couches and dismantling floral arrangements. I got in line at the front desk and the woman in front of me turns around and asks, “Didn’t I see you all on the side of the road?” Before I can ask her how in God’s name she recognized us (was it all the mud on my jacket?) she points to Bennett’s fluorescent orange basketball shorts and says, “I’d recognize those anywhere.”

You don’t say.

The next day we walk around Granville Island in search of buskers. The boys are walking and wrestling at the same time. It seems the inane “punch-buggy” game (you may know it as “slug bug“) is now selling franchise opportunities. It was not enough for them to punch each other each time they saw a Volkswagen beetle (bug), there was now the “mini (cooper) flick,” the “taxi slap,” and the “Toyota twist”… and before I knew it they are beating the crap out of each other with each passing vehicle. At some point, Bennett does something to mightily offend Efram and he loses it, throwing an entire bag of Pirate’s Booty at him, then lunging on top of him to deliver a tremendous beating. Booty flies, and I even see some of that incredibly expensive dried mango get thrown around. As we are pulling Efram off of his brother and listening to him scream and yell at all of us, he pauses for a second to ask, “Hey, where are the buskers?”

I look around and realize that we are seated on a bench in a central square and many, many eyes are on us. People have stopped eating, chatting, taking photographs and are staring at our spectacle.

“Hey Efram,” I say. “Thanks to you, I think we ARE the buskers.”

I contemplate removing his baseball hat and collecting some money to cover the cost of that mango, but we decide it’s probably best to leave. Quickly. With that, we clean up what we can, I grab Efram by the ear, and we beat the hastiest retreat possible.

I know that when we travel we often take our Crazy Show on the road, but I hadn’t expected, in one short weekend, to be both roadside entertainment AND a performance of the Family Von Trapp meets Jersey Shore for a crowd of onlookers.

They managed to pull it together and cheer me on heartily as I finished the race. And as I ran I wasn’t thinking about the hellish drive or how abhorrent they had been the day before. I was just thinking about how much I love to run, how happy I was to be running my first long race since before I got pregnant with Bennett, over eleven years ago, and how marvelous it was to have a few hours “alone”… just me and a few thousand beautifully behaved runners.

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We are not amused.

This week the Queen celebrated her Diamond Jubilee. I am quite a fan of monarchy, especially the kind with all pomp and little power. And had I been in England with my friends and family, or if it hadn’t been M’s fortieth birthday, or if I didn’t have to spend the day in Little League Purgatory, I’d have made a Jubilee party – complete with little cakes and sandwiches like these adorable Nigella Lawson ones:

But it isn’t easy sharing the week with the Her Majesty. We have two birthdays and an anniversary this week, and therefore it’s always rather festive (if not slightly stressful) around here in early June. M has been away, but I was still prepared to pretend that this week was all about celebration… but that damn Queen insisted on one-upping me.

SHE floated down the Thames in a flotilla of boats. I drove hither and yonder to games and practices galore in my beat-up minivan and was once again, stopped in a parking lot by some guy offering to fix all the dents “for next to nothing.”

I imagine SHE had a team of people ensuring that she was well-rested each night. On one night this week someone who never wets the bed wet the bed, the baby was up with a face full of snot, and Fiona pooped in her pull-up, forcing me to scream at the top-of-my-lungs in the middle-of-the-night, “PULL-UPS ARE NOT FOR POOPING.” It really all was quite glamorous.

HER ailing husband missed some of the celebrations due to a bladder infection, and the world wished him well. Bennett, my eldest, sprained his ankle during a basketball game and is not only hobbling around, but has rendered himself completely useless at the moment. (I suppose he and Phillip have the “useless” bit in common.)

SHE was driven around in a circa 1902 carriage, open air through London. I spent yet more time in the minivan.

SHE and her family changed from fabulous dress to fabulous dress. I think I changed out of my running clothes once this week, and that was into my favorite green pants, which I discovered have an intransigent grease stain on them.

SHE was serenaded by pop royalty at a Jubilee concert at Buckingham Palace. Andrew Lloyd Webber even composed a new tune for the day. I arrived early and nabbed front row seats to Francie’s kindergarten graduation, which the school is now calling Celebration of Learning (it seems they finally cottoned on to the fact that caps and gowns for six year olds was nothing short of ridiculous, even if quite sweet.)  Paul McCartney did not perform. But Fiona did sit next to me and moan the entire time, until I gave up and let her play Barbie Fashionista on my phone.

We both had rain, but she endured it with trademark stoicism. On the day I was scheduled to run ten miles, we were experiencing what even the inept weather people were calling record rains. I postponed.

SHE had loyal fans and well-wishers turn out in the rain by the thousands to cheer her on as she drove and floated around. Me? The checkout guy at Costco looked at my ID and told me I was much hotter in person. Clearly, we take what we can get.

SHE commissioned a Canadian artist to paint an enormous portrait done in honor of the festivities. While Bennett was home nursing his ankle, he downloaded an app entitled Age Your Face. He took a picture of me and then thrust in my face an image of what I look like should I survive all of this and live to 80. It was horrific. Utterly horrific. I wish such appalling, indecent aging on nobody, or at least nobody I can publicly name.

SHE capped off the week with a Thanksgiving Ceremony at St.Paul’s Cathedral. I will be celebrating the actual day of my birthday by picking the kids up a bit early (as promised) from school and taking them to see Madagascar III: Europe’s Most Wanted. Please, hold your applause.

Honestly, being a mother is a bit like being the Queen, or at least it’s the closest I’ll come.  I have subjects who can be both loyal and mutinous, but of whom I am usually rather fond. I am frequently embarrassed by the antics of my children. Although they may be far less glamorous, in my family, there are many, many wardrobe changes. I do wear a hat daily, and yes ratty baseball caps count.  I enjoy speaking in third person and people often mistake my boredom for stoicism. (We are not amused.)  Oh, and say what you like, but like Her Majesty, at least half of my job is just showing up… and occasionally waving.

Congratulations, Your Highness and may God Save Both of Us.

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Weak at the … hips.

I saw my running doctor again this week. While I’ve picked up my cadence, he’s not so thrilled with my foot strike. And that’s all the boring running lingo you’ll hear from me.

After I ran on the treadmill for what seemed like an eternity, he said he wanted to check out my hip mobility, and after a series of exercises he looked down (I was lying flat on a table), and declared to me, and just about everyone else in the large room, that I have weak hips.

Weak hips? They certainly don’t look weak. In fact, my hips are the only really substantial part of me. If he said I had a weak chest I’d get it, ditto for weak arms, or even weak ankles. But my hips? These hips supported the weight of five babies and I’ve always assumed that they were therefore what some would refer to as child bearing hips. But when he declared their weakness I felt almost as good as I did when the OB who delivered Sid told me that like many other mothers of multiple kids, I had what was commonly known as a floppy cervix.

Fabulous.

Don’t get me wrong, I like this guy. He seems to know what he’s talking about (even though I doubt everything he says and have to come home first to fact check it on my own) and he lets me say horrid, nasty things about the attire of just about everyone who walks in (like the woman who walked in wearing the world’s ugliest orange raincoat, only to bask in the astonishing adoration of everyone in the room). He’s also manly, in an effortless sort of way, with the glaring exception of his unfortunate tattoo. Now yes, you’d be correct to think that I believe all tattoos to be unfortunate, but this one really is. It’s a ring around his arm of a mountain range against the backdrop of a … Smurfette blue sky. It would only be more girly if a Lisa Frank unicorn were floating above it.

But I digress. Weak hips. Now I have those, in addition to a floppy cervix, pronating ankles and a knee varus.

Given how strong I thought I was, it’s amazing how often I can be wrong about things. I was clearly wrong about the kinds of kids I’d have. When I was in NY, spending time with my old friends, many of them were describing their kids. And they all had at least one of the kids that I thought I’d have: chess playing, obedient, thoughtful, cautious, completely uninterested in team sports. I remember watching Frasier in high school, or college, and dreaming of two sons like Niles and Frasier. They’d wear matching vests, engage in word play for fun, and would never ever pee in a Croc, let alone a corner.

Mine play chess alright, but like all their activities, it quickly devolves into a contact sport — tackle chess.

Oh, and I clearly misread those coffee grounds earlier in the week. What I thought I saw: sunshine and sleep. What a got: a toddler with hand, foot, and mouth, or as we call it here, hand, foot, and yuck. I’m almost done with today’s cup.. I’ll definitely get it right this time. Mark my words.

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