Monthly Archives: February 2008

I Was Tagged (or Where Did February Go?)

Oh, my. The lovely Mari tagged me all the way from Australia, lo these many weeks ago! Sorry, Mari – here you go, and thanks for the tag!

The rules:
A. The rules are posted at the beginning
B. Answer the questions about yourself
C. Tag 5 people, let them know in a comment on their blogs that they have been tagged.

What were you doing 10 yrs ago?
Hmm. In the winter of 1998 I had been living in San Francisco for about 6 months. Downtown, on the top floor of a modern building with a view of the Bay. (Which sure beat the mouse- and roach-infested place we’d been in when I was in grad school in Boston!) I was finishing my Clinical Fellowship Year at a private practice in Palo Alto, on the Stanford campus, and planning my getaway from that job the moment I completed my requisite 10 months there. Matt and I didn’t really know many people and were living a fairly reclusive, quiet life together despite the tumultuous El Nino year weather. You couldn’t exactly say we were taking advantage of the city. In truth, I did not fall in love with San Francisco until we’d been there about a year.

Snacks I enjoy:
1. Chocolate
2. Kashi Go-Lean bars
3. Apples
4. Pretzels
5. Chocolate

Five things on my to-do list today:
Wait. For today? I’m a little scared of my to do list right now, frankly. But I’ll buck up and face the facts here.

1. Pay bills, for God’s sake! (Turns out bills didn’t stop coming just because I took two trips last week)
2. Call the Northwestern intern who will be working with me next quarter (whoo hoo!)
3. Write up my notes from the SCERTS workshop in order to share them with a colleague and perhaps with you, dear Wonderwheel readers!
4. Clean up this total mess of a house.
5. Figure out when we’re going to take the car in for repair. Or delegate this job to Matt. Either one.

Things I would do if I became a billionaire:
The thing is, I’ve thought this over and I don’t think I’d actually change my life all that much if I were a billionaire. Now, Matt might feel differently and so maybe I’d find myself living on a tropical island or in a flat with maid service in Paris. But if it were up to me, here’s what I’d do:

1. Not charge my clients – ever! (Take that, insurance companies!)
2. Pay off our condo
3. Buy a new car (something smallish and hybrid)
4. Buy really good health insurance for my family and extended family
5. Make sure our parents and grandparents live as comfortably as they want
6. Travel everywhere!
7. Pay our nanny what she’s worth
8. Donate to our church
9. Hang out at Benefit more often
10. Give the rest to Barack’s campaign

3 bad habits:
1. Not enough flossing
2. Stress-eating
3. Reading all of your blogs on my iPhone when sitting in traffic or at a red light

5 places I have lived:
1. Middletown, Connecticut
2. St. Paul, Minnesota
3. Boston, Massachusetts
4. San Francisco, California
5. Chicago, Illinois

Jobs I have had:
1. Babysitter (from age 13 to age 25)
2. Cashier at Lyman’s Orchard (with a broken collarbone in a sling)
3. Nanny (for one miserable summer outside of Boston)
4. Deli girl at RC Dick’s on Grand Ave. in St. Paul (for a total of 3 weeks)
5. Preschool/Toddler teacher (ran my own class of 12 toddlers – picture that one!)
6. Speech-Language Pathologist (aaah, sweet relief!)

Things people don’t know about me:
Hmmm, what haven’t I told you? Not much…

1. I am an amazing sleeper. I turn off my light, close my eyes, and – that’s it. Until the kids wake us up in the morning. Matt doesn’t usually bother asking how I slept anymore because it’s a ridiculous question.

2. I have a brother who is 14 months younger than me. We’ve had a very rocky relationship and have been completely estranged from each other for more than a year and a half. You don’t have to tell me how terrible that is, it’s not my preference, believe me.

3. I get stuck in a rut with music. I can listen to one single CD in my car for, oh, maybe 7 or 8 months straight without tiring of it. I’m just starting to come down from a “Once” soundtrack high that definitely lasted at least 7 months. Before that it was a mix I made for my friends after a weekend together last year, and prior to that it was a Norah Jones CD. I’m pretty sure it was Allison Krauss before that. (As an aside, just yesterday someone did a Google search of “what make up colors does allison krauss wear” and ended up at this blog. Endlessly fascinating.)

4. I have never once colored my hair more permanently than doing a henna treatment or two in college. No highlights, no dye. Not as a teenager, nor as an adult. I am not opposed to doing so when the day comes that I deem it to be necessary, but thus far I appear to be taking after my father who went grey rather late.

I am going to honor those who bravely came forth during my delurker week or are brand new readers this week by tagging them:

Wishful Mommy
KAL at Autism Twins
Goodfountain
Cindy at We All Fall Down
Kristen at What Grows Around

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Let There be Cupcakes!

I reached for the cupcakes at Whole Foods this morning – vanilla, Lyle’s favorite, with coconut sprinkled generously across the top – and paused, thinking to myself, It’s his half-birthday, you dork. He doesn’t need cupcakes! This is a fake occasion, right up there with celebrating the 100th day of school! Just tell him he’s three and a half and move on!

And then I reached for the cupcakes and determinedly placed them in my shopping cart, sending a text message to the babysitter: “Tell Lyle it’s his half birthday and we’ll celebrate tonight!”

At the dinner table, he could barely contain himself. He stood on his chair because from that vantage point he was able to take in the glorious dinner I’d given him (Trader Joe’s 3-cheese pizza, chopped pineapples, and veggie chips – his favorites!) and the cupcakes back on the kitchen counter. “This is gonna be quite a party!” he crowed.

On a whim I set the iPod to Lyle’s 3rd Birthday Mix, a selection I put together for his birthday last August, and while we ate we jammed to some of his faves, such as a couple of hits from Mary Poppins, Justin Roberts, Dan Zanes, and the local Wiggleworms music class CD.

After our fantabulous dinner and cupcakes, I declared it Dance Party Time. The three of us were on fire, I tell you, on fire. Lyle danced in circles around us, yelling, “I’m having a great time with you guys!” over and over. (He later took me by the hand and declared solemnly, “You are my best friend.”)

Suddenly, Dan Zanes’ Wonderwheel came on and there I was, dancing with my little guys in my kitchen on Lyle’s half birthday, thinking about how blessed I am to have this family and house and a husband on his way back from a business trip and this blog and all of you friends out there from all over the world to share the highs and lows of my life with, and I was just overcome with gratitude. Truth be told, today I am exhausted, sick, and in possession of a work to do list with 21 undone items remaining, but all of that vanished in one big happy moment and has left me glowing all evening.

Just like us, our children are facing lots of challenges and have hard times ahead of them. No matter who they are or how they came into this world, no matter how well cared for, fed, educated, and played with, nothing is guaranteed for any of us. Nothing.

So, by god, if we’ve got a chance to eat cupcakes and dance like crazy people and celebrate “fake” occasions together, let’s do it. Because it is what will get them – and us – through the harder moments in life.

A Monumental Day

Today, ladies and gentlemen, something absolutely monumental took place at Chez Wonderwheel!

As you may know, my little guy has been having all sorts of separation issues lately, and you’ll recall that I gave him the lovely glass heart to hang onto when I’m at work.

Words cannot do justice to the difference that heart has made. He separates in the morning without tears, he brings it to preschool and hides it in his cubby. He sleeps with it under his pillow. At night, when each of the boys picks a song “theme” for me to sing to them (I improvise a song based on their theme of choice to the same tune every night), he has been asking me to sing a song about “heart”. (Baxter? “Pokemon.”)

The heart seemed to set the stage for his successful participation in Advanced Separation 301, allowing me an unheard of transition in and out of our home when I went to both Minneapolis and San Francisco last week. Truly, it was a breeze – Lyle was perfectly happy while I was away both times and did not even make me pay for my absence upon my return! This is nothing short of miraculous.

But all of that – all of it – was a drop in the bucket compared to today. Because this boy, this child who has been completely unable to take a nap on the days we’re home together (Tues/Thurs) for many months now – despite the fact that he’ll nap 2-3 hours for everyone else – declared during lunch that he was tired and ready to nap as if it were the most natural thing in the world. As if separating from me by slipping into unconsciousness for a couple of hours wasn‘t a horrifying thought all of a sudden!

Furthermore, he willingly napped even when I explained that, due to the late start of this unexpected nap, I would have to leave the house soon to pick up his brother at school. This meant that I was going to have to leave the child monitor with our (very familiar) neighbor across the hall. He was cool with this. I showed him how, when he woke up, if I didn’t come down when he called, he was to talk into the monitor and tell the neighbor he was awake because it meant I wasn’t home yet. And still – he remained unfazed. He thought this was peachy keen, and hoped he’d get to go play with her daughter and maybe pet the cats.

Huh?

So wait – not only would he separate from me and take a nap, but it was actually okay with him if I left the house during his nap and left him in the care of a neighbor, knowing that I may or may not be here when he woke up?!

Oh. my. God.

I tucked him in with the monitor close by and heart no. 55 resting in his sweet little hand, and walked carefully upstairs, sitting stock still on the couch for 10 minutes and steeling myself for the sound of his feet pounding upstairs after me, realizing he wanted to come with me to get his brother, or that he would miss me too much, didn’t want a nap after all.

But he did it. He fell asleep. A deep sleep that lasted until I came home with Baxter, whose pounding feet woke him. But I didn’t care. Because he slept for TWO HOURS! On my watch!

There’s something to be said for a child’s positive experience of being without mama for a few days and realizing that everything is still okay. She calls, she brings presents, and she always comes back.

I’m going out of town more often. That’s all there is to it.

Utter Nonsense

The boys have had more and more periods of delightful interaction lately. Last night Lyle pulled out this Blokus game and started to use the tiles to configure letters of the alphabet (accurately, which I found somewhat shocking). This drew attention from his big brother, and the two of them lay companionably on the rug, head to head, putting tiles into the board and talking complete and utter nonsense to each other. I paused in my dinner-making activities to take a minute-long video of the brotherly bonding.

Anyone who has spent more than about 15 minutes with me in my life will recognize that these random dudes could only be my children:

Materialistic Monday: TomTom

Okay, I know. If you’ve been following Cindy (as you should be), you’ve heard about this recently. In fact, I had a few ideas for this week’s post that you might not have read about in the past two point five minutes.

However.

My Tom Tom GPS saved my ass so many times in California this past week that now I cannot NOT write about it.

You see, in the weeks before Christmas, I was asked by Baxter to explain what a GPS system is because we were giving one to Matt’s Dad for Christmas. I had never thought of one for myself, had never even been in a vehicle with one, at the time. But partway through my description of what it does, I flashed to all the Google Maps I constantly print out for myself and carry around with me, and I recall saying vaguely, “Actually, I could probably use one of those myself!” And the rest was history.

According to Matt, there was no getting him off the topic. No attempts of “How about some earrings?” or “Mommy would love a massage…” would move the child. “No. Mommy wants a GPS,” he told Matt with determination. He wouldn’t even budge for the old tangerines and beer fall back gift, which he insisted on giving to each of his parents the year he was 3.

No, it was to be a GPS. So my guys bought one for me.

And, let me tell you, it rocks! As Cindy mentioned, I keep mine set to a British man’s voice, “Tim”, who instructs me to “stay on the left lane” and “keep on the motorway”, which is about the only thing that could make Hwy 101 interesting.

But beyond Tim’s fantastic voice, I do enjoy that he tells me how to actually get places. Quickly! He remembers all of my destinations, which is handy, and has all sorts of options such as showing all parking garages in the vicinity, which was extremely helpful a couple times last week.

I also love the “Do you need to be there by a certain time?” feature. For example, last week when I had to be at the SCERTS training by 8:30 am in the suburbs of San Francisco, I plugged in the address the night before and it told me what time I had to leave in order to arrive by 8:30, thereby making sure I allowed enough time. Furthermore, it continually re-calculates my time as I’m driving, so when I hit bad traffic I could see the “new and not-so-improved” time of arrival getting updated and was able to send a text message to say I was going to arrive late and by how long (it’s handy when the presenter is a personal friend!).

On another occasion in the past week, I left the conference one night and drove off towards my aunt’s house for dinner. I knew the way so I didn’t use my Tom Tom, of course (because it’s not the first week anymore, sillies!). However, I accidentally went north instead of south on the highway (proving once again that it’s been a while since I’ve actually lived out there) and when I got off the exit realized I had chosen poorly and couldn’t just get right back on. Oops. Did I mention that this was in the middle of a major rainstorm? I didn’t have her address with me but remembered the cross streets and that was enough. I stopped, programmed the intersection into my Tom Tom, and my courteous friend Tim got me there.

I am All. Over. It.

Thanks, Bax.

I’m Distracting You – Oooh, Shiny!

I know, I know. Materialistic Monday is coming. I swear! Soon. Like, within the hour!

But for now, kill a few minutes in the most hilarious way: visit someecards.

Seriously.

And then send me one because I could always use a laugh of that nature.

A Little Bit Here and There

I’ve written before, specifically here and here, about what it’s like to come back to San Francisco now after being gone for a year and a half.

At Christmas, as the four of us visited with my family and lots of friends we’ve known for years, it was the place where we became parents. We revisited favorite places with the boys and spent lots of time with their old friends, walking down the streets of our history as a family.

This particular trip has brought back the San Francisco in which I began my career. I am an independent agent here for four days, tooling around in my little rental car from lunch with a colleague to a client’s house and then to my favorite hairdresser. I go out with colleagues (always some of my favorite people to hang out with) and laugh and talk for over three hours without noticing the time. I go out for a great dinner with my cousin, who’s letting me crash in her beautiful apartment.

As I looked around the smallish room where I sat for the first day of my SCERTS training today, I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience, seeing people I hadn’t seen in ages even when I did live here. One woman looked at me like I was a ghost, and said she’d heard I’d moved somewhere and so couldn’t quite believe it was me. I wanted to say, “Neither can I.” I had lunch with a woman I worked very closely with my first year out of grad school but haven’t seen since I left the job 10 years ago.

I am acutely aware of my great good fortune. Grateful to have the life in which I am happier than I’d ever imagined I could be, back in my new city of Chicago. But on occasion, I stop myself while I’m here, living a life that feels an awful lot like my old life here – and where I am quite comfortable and have so many connections – and dare to ask myself cautiously, “Would you rather still be living here?”, a little bit afraid to hear my own answer. But somehow the answer is always, “No,” even when I’m surrounded by people I love.

I feel a little like I’m neither here nor there tonight, confused about where my real life is after a few days of this cognitive dissonance.

I think, though, that perhaps the truth is I’m always going to have these opportunities to be a little bit here and there; and in that, I have it all.

I Did it!!

It’s short! And I took your advice – it’s shorter in back. I love it!

View

I always love the view from my cousin’s kitchen window in the Mission District. Colorful buildings almost come together, leaving just enough space for a glimpse of Sutro Tower, a San Francisco classic.

Delurker Week on The Wonderwheel

Hey, gang at Cheers, I’m out of town for the rest of the week. Maybe I’ll have time to post, but if not I’ll be thinking of you and saving up plenty of random thoughts to write about while I’m away, so don’t you worry your pretty little heads about it.

So here’s what I’m thinking – how’s about, since you all stopped by here anyway, maybe you take a moment to say “hi” to me this week? Leave me a little hello comment on this post to cheer me when I’m missing my family. Especially those of you – and you know who you are! – who frequent my little corner of the blogosphere but haven’t said hello yet! I know there are lots of you out there…you on the west coast, and you down south – oh, and especially you reading from the town next door to where I grew up (do you even know that? that i used to buy my cosby sweaters at bob’s surplus on main street and then go to ruby’s for a dr. brown’s cream soda before my oddfellows playhouse rehearsals?).

Don’t worry, lurkers are always welcome and you don’t have to say hi. You truly don‘t have to contribute to enjoy my little song and dance here, I’m just glad you’re here. But if you’ve been thinking of speaking up with a little “Ahem, I’m out here!” this would be a great week to do it. ‘Cuz, honestly, there might not be too much else happening here. (Unless you want to watch my Twitter badge there in the sidebar. I’m sure I’ll be tweeting from my iPhone like a freaking magpie on drugs while I’m away.)

That’s all I’m saying. Just my own private Delurker Week. I sorta missed the official one last month.

Whaddya say?