Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Water babies

As a child, we spent every free minute at the lake. I learned how to ski when I was barely out of diapers. I could slalom before I was 10. Sophie, on the other hand, has spent little time in natural water. And what time she has spent, has been ocean. So when we were offered an afternoon at the lake during our visit to Kansas, I jumped on the opportunity to introduce her to one of the joys of my youth.

I knew she loved swimming and brave little thing she is, I really wasn't worried she would be too timid to try something new, but I was overjoyed with just how much she reveled in the experience. She watched her cousin tube first and then gamely jumped on with me. The very next run, she was ready to go solo. She would have stayed on it for hours if we'd let her. She had a grin cemented on her face the rest of the afternoon. 

Meanwhile, this old gal popped up on one ski on the first try despite not having set foot in a boot in more than 7 years. 

I guess it runs in the family.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Swim Test

Just yesterday I was saying that I couldn't wait until Sophie was independent enough at the pool that I could sit on the side reading a book while she ran around swimming and playing. 

As the saying goes, be careful what you ask for.

Today, after no more than a couple practice runs, Sophie tried for and passed the test to be allowed to swim in the deep end of our pool. The test included treading water for a minute and swimming the full length of the pool without touching or stopping. I was completely unprepared for her to do this. Based on friends' kids, I thought she would be 6 or 7 before she even attempted it.

But today she did. And then she spent the whole afternoon jumping off the diving board completely ignoring her mother. So much so that I actually did read a few pages of the book I had optimistically brought. After a while I found myself watching her longingly and wishing she would ask me to swim with her. She never did. At the end of the day I had to lure her off that diving board with the promise of froyo and Don Pablo's.

Kids grow up, it's the nature of the little beasts, but why does it have to happen so damn suddenly?

Friday, July 12, 2013


Despite repeated tellings that Myrtle Beach is the city rather than just the sandy place with the water, Sophie insists on referring to the beach itself as such, always asking when we're going to "the myrtle beach." 

At first a little irritated by it, now I kinda hope she doesn't stop.

Monday, January 28, 2013

What I'm Reading 2013

Another year down, another shelf added to my personal library. I read some really amazing books last year. Books that made me laugh. Books that made me weep. Books that had me so frustrated I could barely focus on the pages. I also delved into audiobooks for the first time, with mixed results. I sort of fell off the literary wagon for a while but I'm rediscovering how much I love reading and that is a wonderful thing.

The Year in Books 2012
The Year in Books 2011
The Year in Books 2010
The Year in Books 2009 

Currently Reading 
Monsters of Men - Patrick Ness (YA, Sci-Fi)

Five Summers - Una LaMarche (YA) Grade: A- Three years after they "graduated" out of their New England summer camp, four friends return for the annual camp reunion weekend to relive past glories and renew friendships, but the weekend takes an unexpected turn when secrets come out.  

The book navigates between the reunion weekend and experiences from each of the five summers the girls spent at camp together, deftly showing how the present is so often defined by the past. And while there is a romantic element, this isn't a love story. It is about friendships and the tests that time and distance place on them.

As a pre-teen, I spent a week each summer at a sleep-away camp and I vividly recall the microcosm of life that took place during that short span of time. Friendships raced from introduction to BFF at the speed of light. Boys and girls met, "went out" and broke up in 24 hour periods. The isolation and time constraints lent an air of immediacy and import to every minute interaction. So perhaps it is partially because of my own experience that I was so effectively transported back to that time of my life while reading this book, but each of the four main characters was so real and identifiable that it was definitely more than just nostalgia that made me enjoy this book so much. 

The first half of the book was a little slow as we learned about each of the characters, but the second half more than made up for it as we raced towards the emotional end of the weekend and the big "capture the flag" showdown between the boys and the girls. All in all, a fun read.

Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Book Store - Robin Sloan (Fiction)

Flutter - Gina Linko (YA, Paranormal)

The Ask and The Answer - Patrick Ness (YA, Sci-Fi)

The Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness (YA, Sci-fi)

The Light Between Oceans - M.L. Stedman

Childhood's End - Arthur C. Clarke (Science Fiction) Grade: A-

Where'd You Go, Bernadette - Maria Semple (Fiction) Grade: A
Golden - Jessi Kirby (YA) Grade: B-  On the edge of graduating high school and winning the college scholarship that will make all her dreams come true, 17 year old Taylor takes a leap and does something unexpected on the trail of a decade-old mystery. But she discovers more than just the answers to the mystery in her quest.

The story centers on Taylor's discovery of the private journal of a girl, Julianna, who went missing and was presumed dead 10 years ago. I enjoyed the interplay of Taylor's story and the journal of the ill-fated Julianna. Despite their differences, the parallels between their lives were striking and poignant, each with a seemingly *golden* path ahead of them that they began to question as events in their lives unfold.

Despite this, I'm sorry to say that I couldn't get emotionally invested in this book. Too much of the plot hinges on quirky, unbelievable elements that didn't ring true to me. And I say this as someone who regularly reads fantasy and science fiction. The author has to make me believe and I just didn't here. I couldn't even understand how Taylor and Kat could be best friends. Class valedictorian and town screw-up? Has this ever in the history of teenage girls happened? Since this relationship is pivotal to the story, that's a pretty big flaw for me.

Ultimately, I would put this in the beach read category: it's fast paced with a light emotional payoff, but flat, stereotypical characters and predictable turns make it unremarkable and easy to put down when you want to run out for a swim.

World War Z - Max Brooks (Sci-Fi) Grade: A-

Me Before You - Jojo Moyes (Fiction) Grade: A

You Are Not Here - Samantha Schutz (YA) Grade: A-

A Princess of Mars -  Edgar Rice Burroughs (Sci-fi) Grade: B+

Delirium - Lauren Oliver (YA) Grade: 

The Obvious Game - Rita Arens (YA) Grade: A
The Sky Is Everywhere - Jandy Nelson (YA) After her only sister unexpectedly dies at 19, Lennie struggles to figure out who she is without her. I loved this book. I loved the words. I loved Lennie's family. I love her relationship with Joe. My favorite book of 2013. Grade: A+
Return to Me - Justina Chen (Fiction) Just before Rebecca is scheduled to begin her freshman year at Columbia, an upheaval in her family throws her world into a tailspin. A thoroughly enjoyable story about a young girl's struggle to find herself when her parents, friends, and boyfriend are pulling her in different directions. Grade: A-

I am the Messenger - Marcus Zusak ( Genre: Fiction) This book was so beautifully written and such a poignant story. But it didn't have quite the punch that The Book Thief did, so I'm dropping it down that one star. Still, it was a wonderful read and I wholeheartedly recommend this book and pretty much anything Markus Zusak writes. Grade: A

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie - Ayana Mathis (Genre: Fiction) I am generally skeptical of Oprah book club books. This was chosen by my book club, though, so I gave it a chance. Sadly, it felt like typical Oprah fare. This book told Hattie's tale, through the lives of her 12 children. However, the twelve stories felt disconnected. Grade: B-

Feed - M.T. Anderson (Genre: Science Fiction, YA) During spring break on the Moon, Titus and his friends are touched by a hacker and their internal "feeds" are cut off from the steady stream of information they've had their entire lives. A thought-provoking read about the increasingly pervasive nature of technology in our lives. Grade: B+

Sea of Tranquility - Katja Millay 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Dia de los Muertos

Somehow October turned into one of the craziest months of this year. We've had birthday parties, at least one, every weekend; Sophie's birthday was the 14th, which meant working and baking for her birthday at school, and a small get-together turned chaotic free for all on the 27th; finally, working and preparing for Sophie's school Halloween party on the 31st. Wedge in a number of other engagements and appointments to fill up the dwindling spare moments in between and there wasn't much left of this month.

I don't mind the busyness. In some ways, I thrive on it. In the days leading up to Sophie's birthday party, I was up each night until the early hours of the morning baking and preparing. I felt exhilarated in my drive to do everything that needed to be done. Much like when I worked, and the push for a proposal would have me working long hours, I felt purposeful in a way that I don't often these days. Which isn't to say that my life is without purpose. It is. There is nothing more important than raising a happy, healthy child. But the day to day of it is wearying in a way very different from working outside of the home. It is a quiet weariness. The fatigue that set in after a hard stretch at work was harsher but easily recovered from.

The exhaustion I felt as this month came to a close was bone deep. It was the result of running a marathon and sprinting every other mile. After Sophie's party, I hurt. The aches weren't localized like they are after a particularly hard workout or vigorous exercise class. The legs. The chest. The arms. This was every single muscle of my body. I felt a weight of a thousand pounds when I tried to pull myself out of bed that morning. It took most of Sunday spent laying around before I started to feel like I wasn't under water. Even then, I was still beyond exhausted.

And now, with the school Halloween Party over and the final bit of insanity passed, I find myself sick. The running and running and running caught up with me. The recuperative days spent sequestered indoors during Sandy were not enough to bring me back from the edge. I awoke today, the Day of the Dead appropriately, with a sore throat, aches and chills. I've functioned. Even, probably inadvisably, made it to the gym for the first time in a week. But the message is clear. SLOW DOWN. Give my body a rest. Have some of those regularly tiring days before I jump back into the insanity that has become my life lately. And I plan to.

Just as soon as I go to the Mom Mixer event in Philadelphia on Saturday. And another birthday party on Sunday. And book club on Monday. And...

I think I need an intervention.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Finally. A Before and After

I spent several hours last night going through the 3000+ photos I have on my iphone. Largely because all those pics were taking up more than a 1/3 of my storage capacity and that's just plain silly when I could download them to our home computer. Not just that but so much of Sophie's life is cataloged in those gigabytes and gigabytes of photographic memories. What if my phone died or was lost or stolen and all of those precious bits were lost? I would be devastated. So I began the task of culling, sorting and transferring them.

Among the many many MANY photos of Sophie were a few photos of me. Here's a funny thing I do: I take pictures of myself in outfits to see how I think they look from a slightly different perspective. I realize its a picture of exactly the same thing I'm looking at in the mirror, but you'd be surprised how often I decide not to wear something because of the photo. I do the same thing in stores as I'm trying stuff on, especially when I'm on the fence about buying something. The vast majority of the time I immediately delete these photos. I don't need a bunch of pictures of me looking in the mirror. Vain, much? But sometimes I'm distracted or in a hurry and I don't delete them. As I was going through the pictures, occasionally one of these funny pics would turn up. And I would laugh and delete them. But then the thought occurred to me that this might be the only way I was going to get a remotely accurate Before and After picture of my weight loss journey. So I saved one of the obvious befores and one that I took a month or two ago and put them side by side.

There's no way to sugar coat it, my before picture is painful for me to see. I recognize that I was not grotesquely overweight but I was bigger than I have ever been and I just don't even look like *me* to me. I carried so much weight in my face and holy smokes, those hips. Sometimes I think about going back through Facebook and my blog and pretty much every where else I have pictures from the last couple of years and scrubbing all of the heavier ones but I won't because too many of them are with Sophie or on vacations and I refuse to delete those memories out of vanity.

But the most important part is that after a year of busting my butt, literally, at the gym and following Weight Watchers, I lost 50 pounds. 5-0. POUNDS. And I'm pretty gosh darned proud of that. So I'm going to share the pain and the joy via my silly mirror pics that were never supposed to see the light of day.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Sophie first alerted us to a loose tooth in early July. On vacation with friends, the older daughter of our travel companions was showing off her wiggly tooth and Sophie piped up that hers was loose as well. At first assuming it was just her wanting to be like the big kid, we laughed it off. But at her insistence, I stuck my finger in her mouth and sure enough, one of her top teeth waggled. And then I felt her other top tooth and it too moved. A few weeks later, two top teeth still wiggly but not measurably more so, she pointed out that her bottom two front teeth were also now loose. Four front teeth. All wiggly waggly.

At her late July dental appointment, the dentist said she would likely not have any front teeth for her school picture. We oohed and aahed and I went straight home and made a little Tooth Fairy pillow with tiny tooth pocket to hang on her door. The tooth fairy stops at the door these days. Needless to say, we expected her teeth to start dropping out at any moment.

They didn't.

And so we watched her wiggle her teeth every day and we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Teeth wiggled. A little. But nothing substantial. I fed her apples and corn on the cob and carrots. To no avail. Her teeth were wiggly, but stubbornly still attached to her jaw.

Until today.

Today was her first day of school. It is her second and last year of pre-school before she starts kindergarten next fall. It's at the same school she attended last year, a co-op just down the street where we've been very happy. Part of the co-op format is that parents help out in the classroom at least once a month. Today was my day to work. Despite no small amount of chaos with 18 four year olds and their accompanying parents, the day went well. Sophie didn't do anything unprecedented for a four year old and other than one kid wearing a wifebeater and jean shorts who carried a wooden knife around for the first half hour*, the rest of the class was pretty tame too.

Afterwards, we went to Chick-Fil-A for a celebratory lunch with Sophie's BFF, Lila, and her mom, Eileen. As the girls delicately nibbled (read: capriciously threw food into their mouthholes) on their nuggets and delicious waffle fries, Eileen and I talked about the YA novels we're reading. At some point, Sophie mentioned her loose tooth and I cringed when she wiggled it to a nearly horizontal position. I can do blood and poop and puke but seriously wiggly teeth give me the heebie jeebies. Go figure. We laughed at her wiggly teeth and went back to talking.

Then, with absolutely no warning, she nonchalantly leaned over in the booth next to me and pulled that tooth right out. No screaming or crying or drama. With a small amount of blood and a HUGE smile, my girl dropped her tooth into my palm. Just like that, she lost her first tooth.

If only everything could be this easy.

This doubles as her first day of school and first gaptooth smile photo.

*He's a terrifically sweet kid who happens to look exactly like a bully straight out of Stand By Me.

Aren't you impressed I didn't say "my baby's growing up" anywhere in this post. I am a paragon of restraint.