Sunday, September 28, 2008

I Like the Way This Girl Thinks

Yesterday afternoon I was talking to Christopher, waffling on whether or not I really felt like driving to the library to look for a DVD movie to watch that evening after the girls were in bed. Kinda wanted to, kinda felt too lazy to actually take the steps necessary.

Christopher mentioned that I could always download a movie from iTunes and watch it on the computer. I was in the middle of expressing my lack of enthusiasm for this idea (watch a movie on the computer? meh, so lackluster...), when Julia excitedly chimed in, "I know, Mama! You could take the laptop into your room, and watch a movie IN YOUR BED."

Which is exactly what we did. And it was great. So, thank you, little Brilliant Preschooler Social Director. What's your next bright idea?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Live Life to the Fullest

This is Julia's third week of preschool, and Genevieve and I haven't really gotten into a routine of our own for preschool mornings yet. So far, Genevieve and I have mostly been using our M/W/F mornings to run errands (read: go to Target every day), host impromptu baby playdates, or hang out at home by ourselves. Which is all well and good--perhaps as much "routine" as you need when you're two--except somehow it seems unfairly haphazard. When Julia was this age, I had her in ECFE classes. But now? I use my preschool mornings with Genevieve to get things done.

Actually, now that I think about it, Genevieve has a little routine of her own. It involves coming home and immediately beginning a campaign for unlimited snacks and PBSKids television shows until it's time to go back and pick Julia up from school. This is a baby who does not understand the concept of "limits." Another way of looking at it would be that she believes in living life to the fullest. I mean, really: don't we all, deep down inside, hanker for unlimited snacks and TV? Genevieve's motto seems to be, "Let your inner hedonist out! Bottomless bowls of dry Cheerios for everyone!"

Truly, life with Genevieve is generally all about screaming, complaining, yelling, and crying--and I don't mean me, although I'm often tempted--and it has occurred to me lately that if only Genevieve got what she wanted at all times, co-existing with her would be a walk in the park. No tantrums! No yelling! No screaming fits! Just give her the cracker and get on with it. Let her watch the whole hour of TV so you can mop the floor in peace already.

Sad to say, Genevieve gets her way far more than she should, and far more than I would have ever predicted before she was born. You see, I used to have just one child, and that child actually followed rules. You could give her an extra snack one time, as an exception, to get through a shopping trip or a a wait in the car, and warn her, "This is just for today. We're not doing this every day, got it?" and she would listen. Testing limits was not in her lexicon.

Then I became the parent to this second, other child, and the one day I desperately shout, graham-cracker in hand, "I'll give you a treat in the car if you come over here RIGHT NOW!" in an attempt to make the preschool pick-up line on time, and what do you know? The very next preschool day, she's giving me the sly eye at 11:20 when I grab my keys and her sandals and head to the door, and she's going, "Deat! Deat, Mama! Deat!" and already tensing up her muscles in preparation for the tantrum she will throw if I say, "No, not today."

The truth is, parenting Genevieve so far--well, from about 16 months onward--has been so challenging and patience-testing that, on those preschool mornings when I should probably be accompanying her to toddler classes and library storytime, I often feed her a snack, let her watch Elmo, and--ever since that damn graham-cracker incident--let her take another snack along in the car at preschool pick-up time, all because Mama needs some spoiling just as much as Hedonistic Toddler. Give me a morning free of screaming; too many carbs and kiddie TV shows seems a small price to pay. I can actually get some housecleaning done, throw in a load of laundry or two, if Genevieve's happy in front of Sesame Street and Dragon Tales. The joy!

But, of course, you don't have to tell me--so please, please: don't tell me--that this is the wrong path to have started down. Genevieve already thinks every single stroller walk means cereal in her cupholder, and woe is you if you refuse her, or the container is empty. She's not the kind of kid with whom you can sometimes give in, and sometimes not. There are no occasional treats in her world. There is only, You did it once, you will now do it every single time for infinity or until I deem it no longer desirable.

Sometimes I wonder if Genevieve is such a surly bully because we pay less attention to her than we ever did to Julia. She's a second child, which means, as my friend Donna says, she has a different mama than Julia had. Would Genevieve still be a constant grump if I took her to toddler class every day? Or if I was better about not giving in to her whims? But don't I give in to her whims BECAUSE she's a constant grump, and it's human nature to sometimes just want a damn moment of peaceful coexistence? The chicken or the egg?

Sometimes I try to imagine what Genevieve will be like when she's older. She'll either be insufferable--moody and mean, demanding and unwilling to compromise--or she'll be out there conquering the world, grabbing every single brass ring she sees, never doubting her deservedness, never doubting anything, living life to the fullest.

Please, please, God, the latter. Please the latter. Have mercy on an imperfect mama.

What-to-Do Wednesdays: Autumn Collage

It's Wednesday! Ready for another kids' activity idea? Remember last week, when you collected leaves for leaf rubbings? Did you also think to collect all sorts of other fall nature specimens, like acorns, pinecones, twigs, flowers, berries, pebbles, bark, and seeds, in order to make an autumn collage? No? Well, get out there and do it this week! Kids love this project. Grab some paper plates, Elmer's glue, and the treasures from a morning's walk, and let the babes go to town:

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

This is How She Repays Me for Making Homemade Finger-Paint With Her This Morning?

It goes without saying, doesn't it, that on a day when the daddy of the family went in to work early and is also staying at work late, the baby of the family IS NOT ALLOWED TO SKIP HER NAP? I mean, really. I didn't think I had to spell it out.

Remind me to write later about how Genevieve basically runs the whole show around here. I would do it now, but I've got all the CRYING AND YELLING AND FUSSING AND DEMANDING AND NON-NAPPING to deal with.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Vitamins

On Saturday morning, we went to our town's farmers' market. I was craving Swiss chard, local, no-spray veggies, carrots still dirty from the ground. We bought the longed-for chard, a huge bowl of cherry tomatoes, yellow summer squash, acorn squash, carrots, beets, fresh green beans, and--because the girls fairly put their faces smack into the table-full--a miniature fresh peach pie, still warm from the farmhouse oven.

Over the course of the weekend I made Swiss chard quiche, whole-wheat applesauce oatmeal muffins, homemade bean-and-vegetable soup, apple crisp. The girls were up to the task. Even Genevieve, Miss More-Bread-and-Butter, ate her eggs and greens.

A well-spent, well-fed weekend. Surely I can be forgiven those gummy bears?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Talk About Obama

Risking a repeat psychiatric (mis)diagnosis, I have to say: I am disheartened down to the soles of my feet about the Republicans.

Not just disheartened: terrified. Baffled. Feeling as though I have stumbled into another galaxy, into a horror movie, into a bad dream. (True story: I actually had a bad dream the other night; in my nightmare, Sarah Palin had bipolar disorder and was in the midst of a florid manic state, which manifested itself in her PHYSICALLY ATTACKING ME in a violent manner as I raced madcap and terrified around my kitchen, seeking escape. How's THAT for a statement from one's subconscious? Or not so subconscious?) On a daily basis I find myself shaking my head at the unfathomable selection of Sarah Palin as VP candidate and at the even more unfathomable fact that some people ACTUALLY THINK SHE'S A GOOD CANDIDATE. How is this possible? These people who are so dazzled by Sarah Palin--what can they be thinking? They terrify me. Truly. And it depresses me to no end that our country is full of so many people who apparently really think that the things McCain and Palin stand for are acceptable. Intolerance! Tax cuts for the wealthiest among us! Unaffordable health care! Uninsured children and families! Bigotry against gay people! War, war, war! Ah, yes: good old "Christian" family values.

So when I discovered this essay by Anne Lamott in Salon.com tonight, it was a balm for my tired, discouraged, Democrat soul. Any mama-writer worth her salt adores Anne Lamott. She's brilliant, she's hilarious, she's been around the block a time or two, she's a genius writer with a lot to say. And she gets how I've been feeling these days; she's been feeling it herself. And she turns it into a call to action, a nondenominational prayer, a sense of humor, a refusal to give up hope. I don't often write politics on this blog; Mama in Wonderland is about mothering, not the election. But guess what? Mothering IS about the election; the election IS about mothering. The future of our country depends on this election. It's important enough that I uncharacteristically encourage you to go and read.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

So Tired. Legs Ache. Old.


On Monday I couldn't do my regular run due to a 3-1/2 hour preschool volunteer meeting (GAH! Save me.) I made up the run on Tuesday. Yesterday I stuck with my usual schedule and powered out my normal Wednesday run even though I don't typically run two days in a row if I can help it. Then this morning I set off with both girls for our long-awaited, newly-installed, brand-new, one-block-away playground, where we then played for just 20 minutes before Genevieve had a poopy diaper. Uncharacteristically, I had NOTHING with me, and the situation couldn't wait. I knew we'd have to go home for a diaper change. Since we had just gotten there, and were in the midst of an impromptu playdate with a couple of babies and their nanny we'd met at the park, I wanted to get home and back as fast as possible. I loaded both girls into the double stroller and shot off for home as fast as my muscles would go. Which, after recently running eight miles within one 24-hour period, perhaps wasn't all that fast. But it felt pretty taxing, let me tell you. We're talking, what?--35 pounds of preschooler and 28 pounds of toddler? Plus the weight of the double stroller? Yeah, I was working up a sweat.

Anyway, I ran home, changed the offending diaper, loaded the stroller back up with its 63-pound kid cargo, and ran back to the playground, where we played on the giant playset for another hour. I was kept busy running up and down the ramps and steps, making sure Genevieve didn't fall off the top of the jungle gym. Then we went for a long walk home, which unfortunately somehow included pushing the kid-laden stroller up a giant hill. (By this point the girls had collapsed from exhaustion. Sadly, I had no such option.)

There is a reason women sometimes have babies in their TWENTIES, people. TWENTIES. A time of VIGOR and HIGH ENERGY. Unlike one's THIRTIES, which are apparently a time of EXHAUSTION and ACTIVITY-INDUCED COMA-LIKE BEHAVIOR.

Uh, about dinner tonight? Is the Dairy Queen drive-thru still open? Because I don't think I'm going to be able to attain an upright position for the rest of the day. But a Blizzard would really hit the spot.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What-to-Do Wednesdays: Leaf Rubbings

Over the summer I got away from What-to-Do Wednesdays, my weekly kids'-activity feature. Can you blame me? I was far too busy deflecting crises and managing tantrums to come up with creative playtime ideas. But I've been getting some requests to bring it back, and I'm determined to try. I might not get to it every single week, but I'll do my best. Which brings me to....


Leaf rubbings!

Surely you remember this classic autumn art project from your own childhood. Well, it's time to break it out! All you have to do is go on a walk to collect some nice fall leaves, bring them home and place them under a piece of paper, then rub an unwrapped crayon (lying down flat on the paper) over the paper to bring out the outlines of the leaves below. It looks best when you use an assortment of autumn-leaf colors, such as orange, red, yellow, and brown, but of course there's no reason your toddler's leaf rubbing couldn't be rendered in pink and purple. Have fun!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Morning at the Playground

An unsolicited note to the dad at the playground this morning:

Put your shirt on. You look ridiculous. It is SIXTY-THREE FREAKING DEGREES OUTSIDE. Yes, we can all see that you are very tan and very buff. Guess what? You still look UTTERLY RIDICULOUS when you show up at a playground on a sunny, 63-degree, fall morning with your toddler and your preschooler and no shirt on. The other parents? Are LAUGHING AT YOU.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Didn't I Just Go Shopping? Last April?

On Saturday I spent five hours inside a mall (not including lunch) with three fellow-mom friends and, aside from clothes for the preschooler who refuses to wear pants, all I ended up with were seven t-shirts. Somewhere out there, Susan Wagner is shaking her head and planning another wardrobe intervention. In my defense, I'm a full-time mom to a two-year-old and a four-year-old; I wear tees of one sort or another most days, and use them to sleep in, work out in, push a double-stroller up hills in, do hopscotch on the driveway in, cook in, bake in, and run around the park in. That means that once or twice a year, I have to throw out all my trashed t-shirts and do a major tee replacement. But even so: an all-day shopping trip for....a bunch of Gap t-shirts? Could I be any lamer?

Oh, wait a minute, there were those 45 MINUTES I spent picking out new sunglasses. When Christopher heard about that, he looked at me like I was insane, but when I explained that there were SEVEN CYLINDRICAL RACKS of sunglasses in that particular store--do you know which racks I mean? the ones with columns all around, and slots from top to bottom? how many pairs of sunglasses do you think each one of those holds? 100? 200? Times SEVEN?--well, then he understood. But still. Most of an entire hour is a lot of time to invest in attempting to wrench your eyewear out of the early 2000s. Or maybe even the late '90s. The last time I bought sunglasses was certainly longer ago than the last time, prior to a week ago, that I attempted to use an ATM.

Oh, but it's fall, and in addition to stacks of basic long- and short- (for under jackets and cardigans, of course!) sleeved t-shirts, I'm coveting a great knee-length denim skirt and some affordable brown tall boots, to wrench me out of my t-shirt-and-jeans uniform and march me off into autumn with a modicum of style. So if you see anything budget-friendly out there as you're doing your own fall shopping, be sure and let me know, won't you? I can't go on wearing these tank tops and capris for much longer.

Someday I'm going to be woefully unprepared for an office job.

Friday, September 12, 2008

We Baked Cookies This Week

This is what happens when you put the four-year-old in charge of baking-sheet cookie-dough placement.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fall Routine

So what are you up to this week? I'm busy having, like, ten baby playdates. What, you don't believe me about the ten? How about two? Actually originally it was three, and then one got rescheduled for next week. Let me tell you, though---when you've just barely begun the fall/preschool routine and thus are feeling a bit disoriented and disorganized (what? fall? jackets? what?), hosting even two baby playdates feels like a lot. Not that they aren't a ton of fun, because they are. But I have to keep reminding myself that I have to be home at certain times, and dressed, and groomed, because COMPANY is coming over.

Speaking of jackets, yesterday during preschool Genevieve and I went to Target to look for a fall jacket for Julia. It had suddenly occurred to me that she had a new windbreaker, size 4T, and an old parka from last year that still fits, but nothing for, like, the entire months of October and November (and then, later, March and April). I ended up spending $25 on a jacket for my four-year-old. Which is more than MY OWN FALL COAT FROM TARGET cost me. Of course, I bought mine five years ago, but still.

Today is a non-jacket day, though--sunny and 75 degrees. Although it feels more summery again, I have noticed this week that, already, the girls are sleeping later each morning due to the later sunrise. Ah, a return to a normal sleep schedule? Can it be? Well, maybe, but then again, Genevieve's still up to her old bedtime tricks, SCREAMING HER EVER-LOVING HEAD OFF for a full hour most every night, enraged that bedtime should even occur at all. How dare anyone suggest she go to bed? Madness!

Lastly, two little nuggets of joy. First, can I just say that fall is the best running season ever? I can be slogging along like I'm about to die all August long, suffering through my four-mile runs like they're marathons, stopping to walk when the humidity is so high I can't breathe, and then all of a sudden September dry air arrives and I'm flying out the door at 6 p.m. like I'm running my own personal road race. It's SO FANTASTIC. I love it. I always run more, and farther, in the fall, because it feels so much easier to me. It's a good thing, too, because I've got to work off the extraneous ice-cream pounds I collected in late summer, when I skipped most of my workouts due to the heat and the utter lack of free time. Thank God for autumn!

Second, do you know Emily, of "not that you asked"? She is so freaking hilarious. This post actually caused me to laugh so hard today (out loud, too) that I both snorted AND cried. Seriously. It's the part about stepping on the rat. I know, I know--utterly hideous, but she has a knack for describing things in the funniest possible way. Don't even get me started on the one about the Craftmatic adjustable bed. OK, maybe it's just me, but I feel compelled to share the hilarity. You never know when someone out there might be in need of a really good laugh. Have at it!

And with that, the girls are up. So, enough rambling. Happy reading, laughing, running, and playing with babies.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

For My Friend Who Misses Her Nieces

Another pic from the first day of school, for my friend L., who has nieces the same ages as my girls and who misses seeing their little faces.

Not Since At Least 2004. Maybe Earlier.

This morning after preschool drop-off and the inevitable Target errand (I ran into another preschool mom there, and she and I had both been at Target during the previous preschool day, also; she said, "Back to spend more money!" and I said, "I feel like I live here!"), Genevieve and I stopped in at a local bakery to pick up some scones. We have some company coming for a visit tomorrow morning, a longtime mama friend and her new(ish) baby (six months old is still new, isn't it? I think so), and if anyone deserves a treat or two or ten, it's this mama of this baby. So I decided to pick up some pastries and refrain from eating all of them before tomorrow morning. I told Genevieve we'd split one for our morning snack today, but save the rest for company tomorrow.

When we got there and had picked out our scones, I learned that the bakery doesn't take debit or credit cards. I never have cash, and don't carry my checkbook; I use my debit card EVERYWHERE. Because this was sort of my only chance to pick up those scones, I took the clerk's advice and walked with Genevieve around the corner and across the street to a nearby SuperAmerica to use the ATM.

Which is when I was reminded of this hilarious post by my favorite blogger, Susan Wagner, from earlier this summer. Because people, I, too, have not used an ATM in YEARS and could not even remember how to do it. I had to stand in front of the gray metal box for several long minutes, toddler in arms, inspecting the various buttons and slots for clues to the machine's proper operation, before I even attempted to extract some cash. It took me three tries to remember my PIN.

But I got my scones, you all.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Oh By The Way

So I haven't stopped blogging. You got that already, right? Forgot to formally say that. However, I am feeling pretty tired of the (as my friend Ruth puts it) "junior-high"-esque antics of the Internet. I'm still considering posting less frequently, or only about more superficial topics, or NOT about certain topics. Or maybe I'll just say to hell with all that and do what I please. You'll just have to see, I guess.

Big love to all my dearest friends and--even more so!--to people I haven't even met, who continue to send kind words my way---about my writing, about my experiences, about my life as a mom. You all are worth your weight in gold.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Fall: Don't Look Back

OK, so fall has appeared to have made a lightning-quick entrance around these parts; while last year I was dressing my girls in short skirts with bare legs and sandals until late September, and Julia was arriving home from preschool red-cheeked from the lack of air conditioning in the building, on this, the second day of nursery school, I was busy scrounging for leggings and socks and jackets at seven a.m.

Truly, we left for "vacation" in mid-August dogged by 90-degree temps and loving the late sunsets. We came back and--or so it feels--overnight it's chilly and dark by eight. What?

Well, so be it. I love fall anyway, even if this year the seeming change of seasons has been especially disorienting. (This being Minnesota, however, one never knows; the current chill may be a short-lived tease, interrupted by prolonged pseudo-summer until October.) Of course, one of the things I adore about fall is the new-start aura that comes along with it. OK, so I'm not the one facing down a new class schedule with a box of yellow #2s and unscuffed shoes. But think of it this way: I've only been done with school--ALL that school, six years of post-college included!--for eight years. Considering how old I am, it's no wonder the September-new-start mentality is so firmly entrenched in my mind.

If anyone needs a firm leap forward into a fresh new season it's me. This summer--with its screaming toddler and its volunteer-job stress and its kicked-to-the-curb-by-the-Internet drama--can just take its toys and leave. I am so ready to not look back.

My mom's favorite nugget of wisdom regarding my recent episodes of blog-drama runs along the lines of, "Why would you care what anyone else thinks about you, anyway?" Then there's my preschool-mom friend, whose parking-lot advice today involved something like, "You gotta just let it roll off your back, girl." Both of which I love, but which are also a helluva lot easier to agree with when they're referring to the antics of an anonymous reader (especially one who actually comes back and apologizes in the comments! rock on, Anonymous Reader Psychologist!) than those of a friend of 15 years who actually stood up for you in your wedding. OUCH.

But I get it; I hear it. After reading my mom's e-mail and talking to my preschool friend, this afternoon I was listening to the rageful, nap-rebellion screams of Genevieve in her crib and bracing myself for a good hour of baby-crying yet again, and I had a true epiphany. I thought to myself, Hey. Just think. In one year [or two, or five], I'll be sitting with my best friend and we'll be chatting and laughing as always, only what I'll be saying will be things like, "Oh, God, remember summer 2008 when Genevieve tortured me for three months straight by screaming at the top of her lungs for an hour at every single naptime and bedtime?" And, "Remember last year [or two years ago, or five] when we thought we'd lose our minds trying to run the preschool, it was so stressful and unknown and difficult, that we developed insomnia and stopped sleeping altogether?" And, "Ha! Do you remember when our kids were babies and that anonymous lady told the Internet I needed psychotropic medication because I hated listening to the baby scream for hours every day?" And even, "Hoo boy. Do you remember that person I thought was a friend?" Even that.

Do you see what I mean? I finally understood--I finally GOT IT; I could actually see it in my mind--that a future time will come when we'll be sitting and sighing and commiserating, but instead of it being about how to get through another hour of screaming or an afternoon of tantrums or a week's worth of volunteer-job meetings or the drama of a mom who feels ambivalent about her own choices and so behaves in questionable ways toward those who don't, it will be about the fact that all those things are past. Over and done with.

Of course, if you go down THAT particular road in your distracted, busy-mama mind, you risk ending up in a puddle of pre-nostalgia, realizing that not only will the stressful parts of your current life be in the past (whew!), but so will the precious parts (dang! sniff!).

Better to focus on that part at the beginning: It's fall. Move on, and don't look back.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

First Day of School (Yesterday)


Preschool started on Friday. Julia's a preschool veteran this year, so there was no separation anxiety or preschool fear this time around, only pure excitement.

Friday, September 05, 2008

How It All Went Down

[Warning: this post probably won't be of interest to the general public, but only to a handful of people who know me personally. Apologies to the rest of you.]

Wow--two Internet smackdowns in one week! And my mom wonders why I'm thinking of giving up my blog.

Way back in June, I wrote a post that unintentionally offended Christopher's and my friend Jordan, to whose blog I linked in my own essay. Jordan misconstrued my link to mean that I was using her as an example of a distasteful life, when what I actually intended was to merely cite Jordan's discussion of the idea of having "margins" in one's life and, truly, thank her for spurring me to consider this idea and my own blessings. Jordan was upset about and hurt by my post, and, according to her, so were a number of other people who read my writing and then contacted her personally to discuss their mutual outrage--I guess old college friends or other mutual acquaintances of the two of us who read both of our blogs.

Jordan didn't tell me she was upset with me at the time. I only found out three days ago, when I happened to read her blog, where she discussed the whole thing. I was shocked and mortified to find out that I had unwittingly offended a friend--especially to find out in this way; Jordan knows that Christopher and I both read her blog and would surely see this post. My original post was completely misinterpreted; I in no way meant the things Jordan thought I did. (Honestly: I am SO SICK of working moms misconstruing my statements of "I am so happy to be home with my children" to mean "...and you are wrong to not be home with yours.")

I immediately wrote Jordan a sincere, profuse e-mail apology. I also posted a heartfelt public apology on her blog, with the sincerest of intentions.

Jordan has decided to delete my apology from her site. She has also chosen to leave up her Tuesday post which inaccurately puts an awful lot of ugly sentiments in my mouth. She says she deleted my apology because it was triggering all sorts of subsequent disrespectful (to me) comments on her blog, but if that were truly the case, she could have deleted the disrespectful comments and left up my apology.

I don't know why Jordan doesn't want her readers to see or know about my apology or about the fact that she misunderstood the meaning in my June essay. But I do want any of our shared readers/friends to know that I have tried in the most genuine way I know how to make things right with her. I've consulted with Christopher--who is far more level-headed than I--all week about this scenario and what to do about it. (By the way, his comment to Jordan's blog was deleted as well.) I don't like the fact that Jordan has left up her original post, which makes me look like a judgmental bitch for things I never said about her, but all I can do is continue to apologize for an honest mistake, and hope that others take the whole story into consideration when forming opinions about it.

I'm not perfect; I don't always write super-clearly and I no doubt open my yap way too much, but one thing I don't do is willfully hurt my friends. Nor do I negatively judge other mothers for choosing lifestyles that are different from mine.

Thanks, and that's all.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Mom Says

My mom is about ready to kill me for not writing any Wonderland entries since last Thursday, let alone about considering no longer blogging at all. And my friend MNMom says she'd better see a post about the fact that we actually had a real-life babysitter over here on Monday (it just happened to be one of her adorable daughters).

I happen to have ZERO time for writing this week, as--did you recall?--I'm helping to run the preschool, and that means co-running THREE preschool orientations in two days. After helping at an open house last Thursday evening. Thank God we DID have that babysitter on Monday (so sweet! so good with children! sorry about the poopy diaper!), because that two-hour coffee date with my husband was the only relaxation I've got coming to me this week. First week of school and all. OK, OK, for us it's just preschool, but first days are always momentous, whether you're four or 14. Am I right?

But if you hang in, you may be rewarded with some bloggy goodness later this week, when if I can, I promise to post a back-to-school photo or two, perhaps even--for my waiting big sis--one including me and my new short (it's all relative) hair.

But in the meantime I'm busy contemplating how my first two weeks of September got so busy and scheduled when I thought my life was supposed to start SETTLING DOWN now (huh? dermatologist appointment AND eye doctor appointment within one week? is that really necessary?). I'm also busy considering the sad truth that, if you skip 50% or more of your workouts for five weeks straight, you cannot expect to maintain your previous level of fitness. (HOW ANNOYING.) I'm busy trying to figure out how I can get Minnesota Parent Magazine to let me write for them (you'd read me there, if they did, wouldn't you? those of you from MN?). And lastly, I'm contemplating the fact that my baby inexplicably calls her beloved teddy bear "Dub-ya." Like I need any reminders of the Republicans in my life right now.

Oh, and lastly? My preschooler is obsessed with the Christmas story, and when she recites to herself the text of a YouTube video about the Nativity with which she is mysteriously enamored, acting out the story with her little Playmobil and Fisher Price Little People figures, she says things like "ReJOCE, highly favorite one!" instead of "Rejoice, highly favored one!" and "You will conceive in your room" instead of "You will conceive in your womb" (although: same thing, really?), and it's....you know....just the cutest, sweetest little thing you've ever heard. Christopher and I just sit on the periphery eavesdropping and giggling silently behind our hands. Because you've never heard such an earnest little pseudo-Christian in your whole life. ("How can this be, when I am a virgint?") Sigh.

And no, I haven't yet told her what the word "virgin" means. Or virgint. Whichever.

I'm still grappling with the whole issue of blogging about motherhood, blogging about children, being honest about mothering and balancing honesty with dignity and privacy. I haven't come to any great conclusions about any of it. I did, however, appreciate every comment to last Thursday's post, all of which encouraged me to keep writing and most of which affirmed my personal mamahood truth, and validated that it is important. A million heartfelt thanks for all of that. I mean it; you have no idea the impact your comments and opinions had on me as I considered whether it's worth it to lay out the brutal truth about what it's like to be a full-time at-home mom to two children under five with no outside help. It's a constant struggle. Sure, there's joy as well, but if you don't understand in your bones that IT IS A CONSTANT STRUGGLE, then you've never done it.

I'm still puzzling, musing, resting. Still thinking. Still deciding.

But in the meantime: school's starting again! REJOICE.