Thursday, April 30, 2009

Telling Time Geographically

When you move around as much as Keith and I have, you remember when events happened by what particular abode/city you were in at the time.

September 11? I had just interviewed for my job in Dayton, and was staying with Keith and his parents in Northern Kentucky. But I was actually still living with my parents on the west side of Cleveland.

When did Gomez's album "In Our Gun" come out? I remember getting it shipped to my apartment in Dayton, and sitting on the living room floor, enraptured. So it must have been between Fall 2001 and Winter/Spring 2002.

When did Elaine come from Scotland to visit? It was summer, and we were living in Cincinnati at the time, since we rented a car and drove to Cleveland, to pick her up in Toronto, back to Cleveland, then to Niagara Falls, back to Toronto, and back to to Cinci via Detroit. Lots of driving—a true American vacation! So that must have been Summer 2005.

Now we've been in our house for nearly 3 years, it's getting harder to remember when things happened. It's all blending together. Except I suppose it will change from "Where did we live?" to "What was Eleanor doing?" If she was crawling but not yet walking, it must have been Winter/Spring 2009. So that would be .... telling time Babe-ily?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Our Landscape Architect

We have many, many ideas of what we want to do as far as landscaping. And this time of year my mind always starts thinking up elaborate plans for front and back flower beds, a vegetable garden, fragrant herbs around the deck .... so many possibilities!

Unfortunately, our landscaping budget doesn't match our aspirations. Nor does our free time, actually. This means that, since Eleanor's birth, Beckett has been in charge of the backyard landscaping.

His vision involves lots of mud and dirt. No plants, and very little grass. The picture of him is from about a month after we moved in, when there was still grass. I'll have to take a picture now and you can see the changes. There's a big bald patch right next to the back porch, where he launches himself off, in hot pursuit of squirrels and rabbits. Then there's the dirt patrol path that winds around the perimeter fence, as well as curves next to the garden you see in the picture, on the side of the garage.

I'm just happy that we are finally cleaning up the mess the roofing and window contractors made last summer and fall. I've cleaned up bits of old roof, insulation, a 2-foot section of gutter, and a plethora of nails, all from the plants and garden beds around the house. I'm getting the sense that, this summer, the goal will be just to get the yard to "blank slate" status. Then, maybe next year, we can think about adding in some actual landscaping.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Countdown to Meltdown

Okay, so I'm starting to freak out a little bit. Am I really signed up for a 10k on Saturday? Is there any way that I could possibly be ready to race 6.2 miles?

I mean, I'm not really "racing." I don't have a specific time goal in mind that I have to reach. I just have to finish. But .... I haven't been in a race since November 2007. That's a long time, my friends. As the day approaches, I'm feeling pretty intimidated. What, exactly, made me think this was a good idea?

I'm really, REALLY looking forward to Saturday afternoon. Once it's over, I survived, and I can just hang out and enjoy Eleanor's first-ever race: a 15-foot Diaper Dash. As Keith and Emily get more tense and excited about the marathon, I will be breathing a sigh of relief.

Assuming I'm still vertical and breathing, that is.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Since my birthday at the beginning of April, I've been trying much more diligently to work on eating better, working out, and finally losing the baby weight. Motivation is a funny thing, though. I'm motivated to lose 30 pounds in the long term. Yet, I have a hard time always remembering how that long-term goal applies to the doughnuts that someone brought into work that morning, or ordering pizza for dinner on a Friday night. It's just one meal, right? That turns into a Coke, or another missed workout ....

So I've been trying to come up with ways to trick myself into short-term motivation. One of those required Keith's help. I asked him to come up with surprise treats for me with every 5 pounds I lose. I didn't want it to be anything that would break the bank, but something that I wouldn't normally do for myself.

A few weeks ago, I passed the first 5-lb mark and Keith fanned out slips of paper in front of my face.

"Pick one," he said gleefully. "But only one!" For some reason, I think he enjoys keeping these secret from me.

I chose a slip that said I could buy a new album.

I was excited, but undecided. What album should I get? I don't buy new music very often, so it was a big decision. When I was running over the weekend, I thought about how I wanted the album to give me more motivation to keep it up. So I wanted something upbeat and high energy that would make me want to work out. I couldn't decide what, though.

Then, a few days ago, for some reason Keith brought up the movie Idlewild that we had DVR'd recently. It starred Big Boi and Andre 3000 from Outkast, and the music was an interesting, catchy blend of rap and hip hop with Prohibition-era songs, which is the time period where the movie takes place. I enjoyed the movie and loved the music, so it was perfect!

I triumphantly announced my decision, and Keith ran into the living room, to download the MP3s from LaLa. Since then, we both have been enjoying the album (which has 26 songs for only $10! A steal!). I can't wait to put some songs from it on my iPod for my run this weekend.

I'm also closing in on another reward. I'm still not perfect, but having these mysteries out there to tantalize me along the way does seem to help. I wonder what the next one will be ....

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Like Catching the Mafia on the Run

I hope I'm not being overambitious, but after waffling for a few weeks, I finally signed up for the Run Wild for a Cure 5k the weekend after the Flying Pig 10k.

To have your registration materials mailed and avoid the registration table melee at the event (which was a nightmare the other year we did this race), you had to sign up by midnight tonight, so that made up my mind for me. As I was filling out their online form, I got to the Additional Information section. The first few questions were typical enough (Runner or Walker? How'd you hear about us? Do you plan on using your own personal timing chip?) and then the 4th question was a shock. It was actually a statement with three options:
I have entered the CORRECT INFORMATION for this individual:*
Yes, it is All Correct
Yes, Except for the Email (It is not correct for this individual)
No, Most or All is Incorrect

Really? Is it that much of a problem that people knowingly fill out the forms with completely incorrect information, and then admit they do?!? It reminds me of hearing about how mob guys were always caught on tax evasion, because there was some checkbox or something on their taxes that said something along the lines of "I have no other source of income." And then when their "side business" came to light, even if they couldn't be prosecuted for nefarious dealings, they got nailed on tax evasion.

Not really sure how that applies to registering for a 5k, though .....

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sound the Alarm! And Get Out the Plates

What does it say about my cooking that, since we've been making an effort to order in less (because we never actually ate out, anyway!), the smoke alarm next to the kitchen has unexpectedly died?!?

It went off during dinner preparations the other day, but it was the saddest, tiniest sound. Not very alarming. More sounding the death knell to my culinary aspirations.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Joys of Sleeping In?

Last weekend, for the first time since July 20, 2008, I got to sleep in.

Immediately after Eleanor was born, there was not much sleeping to be done by anyone. In the middle of the night, when we awoke bleary-eyed for a feeding and would wake up Eleanor, she would start screaming her adorable little head off. Beckett would sometimes just lift his head balefully and stare at us, wondering why we had to go and change things when they were so nice before. Often he would sigh and head down to the living room for some shut-eye.

When she was 6 weeks old, I remember thinking to myself that it had been 6 weeks since I'd slept more than 4 hours in one stretch. But by the third month, Eleanor was sleeping pretty well throughout the night. I was starting to remember what it felt like to be a normal, rested human being. But I was breastfeeding, so I was still always the one to get up for her first feeding of the day.

Well, that was the state of things until the beginning of April, when we finished breastfeeding. But Keith still gets up early every Saturday to get his long run out of the way and get back home by mid-morning. So I didn't immediately want to make him get up early both days on the weekend—once for his long run and once for Eleanor—after going to work all week. I thought we'd wait until after the marathon to discuss our weekend routine.

But he offered to let me sleep in last Sunday, so I wasn't going to say "no"! It was Easter Sunday and we had to be to the other side of town by 12, so there was a limit on the sleeping-in to be done. Strangely, though, that proved to be irrelevant, because I couldn't do it.

Eleanor woke up about 7 o'clock, and Keith went downstairs to get the bottle while I stretched and luxuriated in being able to roll over and snuggle back under the covers as he went about the business of getting her out of the crib, changing her diaper, feeding her, etc. Except I couldn't go back to sleep.

I kept listening to them. The morning is such a wonderful time; she is so excited to be awake for another day. She eats and happily plays ... I really like spending the morning with her. Snatches of laughter, baby babble, and Keith's deeper voice drifted upstairs to me. I was missing out!

I think I managed to stay in bed maybe an hour or so after Keith and Eleanor got up? I tossed and turned for awhile, sometimes lightly sleeping. Then I sat up and finished reading the novel I had started the day before. (That was much more enjoyable than trying—and failing—to sleep.) When I finished the book, I stretched, flung off the covers, and hurried downstairs to get in some quality play time with Keith and Eleanor.

It makes me wonder. Will I ever enjoy sleeping in again? Maybe when Eleanor is a teenager, and she is sleeping in, too? I was so excited to finally have the opportunity to do it ... and it just felt weird.

On the other hand, I can definitely see Keith taking Eleanor on his weekend runs if they are only 6 miles or so. The two of them could get up, have breakfast, and head out for a run. Meanwhile, I could sleep in peace, have a leisurely breakfast, and be able to enjoy the stillness of a household at rest. Plus, that way Keith could also have a weekend day to sleep in. Everyone wins!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Treasure Hunt

Looking for necklaces is starting to turn into a treasure hunt. Eleanor is a little magpie, very interested in bright, shiny objects. She loves to rip my glasses right off my face when I'm not paying close enough attention. Adorable!

Luckily, I don't have pierced ears, so that's not a concern. But I do like to wear necklaces, and that's an issue. I've pretty much given up wearing them on a regular basis around the house, but I like to wear them to work. Remind myself what it was like to get up in the morning and choose a complete outfit, from shoes to accessories, take time to do my hair, eat breakfast .... but now all in the space of 10 minutes. Because these days Eleanor has a sixth sense that alerts her when I'm out of bed. I sneak out and down the hall to wash my face, brush my teeth .... and she starts crying for attention.

But I digress. I wore a necklace last Sunday, when we went to my parents' side of town for Easter. I also wore one on Tuesday when I was at work all day. Today I wore the silver one with a delicate turquoise shell hanging from it. As soon as I got home and held Eleanor, she started playing with it, entranced.

After a few minutes, when I was afraid she'd break (which has also happened to at least one necklace) I took it off and hung it on a kitchen cupboard door handle to keep it out of the way. There was already one hanging there. I think maybe it was the one I wore on Easter Sunday and must have taken off? I'm not sure. But my Mom was out for a visit today, so I'm guessing that's what happened.

That also reminded me that Tuesday's necklace ended up tossed into a large handbag in the dining room to avoid destruction at the hands of the baby. That bag is now on the floor of my closet. Which I can remember today, and probably will tomorrow .... but what about when I forget to retrieve the necklace in a timely manner. By next Thursday, will I remember that it's in the bag? Chances are slim.

But I suppose someday I'll go to use the bag, and find the necklace hiding in the bottom of it. And I'll be so excited to find it ... it will be like a new piece of jewelry all over again. I guess that's one way to keep down your personal spending; just keep losing and rediscovering your old jewelry/clothes/books over and over again!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

This Way Jogging Also Tones My Arms

This afternoon, I took Eleanor out in the jogging stroller for the second time ever. My plan was, starting at the end of March, to run with her while I'm home during the day on Wednesdays and Fridays, so I'm all done by the time Keith gets home from work. The weather hasn't cooperated.

I think it will be convenient, once I can actually start relying on the temperature to be above 50 with no more snow or torrential rains. I mean, rain is always possible, but maybe a little less likely starting in May. Of course, the problem is that my 10k is May 2, so I'm running out of time.

But no use crying over missed runs. I did it today, and it went well. Man, pushing that jogging stroller is quite a workout! My legs felt tired by the end of the street. I decided to turn it into a quasi-intervals workout, because I knew I would end up walking at points anyway. I did 3 miles in all, and spent the middle part of it trying to push myself for a minute or so, and then taking a walk break.

Until today, my goal has just been to plod along and get my miles in. Today it felt good to remember, at least a little bit, what it was like to go a bit faster than tortoise pace.

I feel good about the 10k. I did a 5-mile run last Saturday, and my plan is to go 6 miles this weekend. If I can do that, I'm in good shape! No promises about my time, but that was never the point. It was just getting out there and doing it.

Meanwhile, Eleanor loves it. I barely hear a peep from her. But when I occasionally stop and check in on her, I get a big smile. She's just taking it all in. And my arms should start looking more toned after a few more runs! All the side benefits ;)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Packing Jars of Baby Food for College

This face pretty accurately describes Eleanor's feelings about solid foods. Not a fan.

I had read in a pamphlet from our pediatrician that, by 9 months, some babies will be eating all finger foods, some will be eating all baby food, but most will be eating a mix. Eleanor will turn 9 months in a week, and at this point she's squarely in the baby food camp.

We've tried mashing banana, making homemade sweet potatoes and green beans, giving her commercial first foods by Gerber and Cheerios, even offering "adult" food like spaghetti and macaroni noodles and mashed potatoes .... all for naught. It's That Face every time.

Should I be trying harder? Or should I just continue trying every once in awhile, and trust that she'll get around to it at some point? I'm surprised because she was so willing to try baby food, I thought it would be a smooth transition to solids. That Face says otherwise, however!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Recycling Electronics

There's many, many items in our modern lives that don't belong in a landfill, but I don't know what to do with them. So it's either throw them out or hang onto them, and stockpile random, useless crap.

Or, I can try and find out alternative methods of disposal.

Previously, I had mentioned what to do with worn-out clothes. Just this week, I also happened across an article on called "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Your Old Gadgets." From computers to air conditioners to TVs and monitors, they give suggestions on how to get rid of everything. If you're married to a computer guy (and/or you are a techie yourself), this is very helpful advice!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Part-time Work = Full-time Stress?

Since coming back from maternity leave in mid-October, I've slowly been transitioning to working part-time in the office. Through December I worked 15 hrs/week from home, mostly evenings and weekends. Then in January, Eleanor started taking a bottle and I switched to 20 hrs/week. At that point, I started working 12 hrs/week in the office during office hours and 8 hrs/week from home, whenever I could fit in those hours.

But since the end of February, I've been working all 20 of my hours in the office. And it has been quite an adjustment. I thought it would be less stressful. It was really hard to be fitting in my hours at home. I would feel like I need to get up early so that I could work before Eleanor woke up. Every time Eleanor went down for a nap, I would be frozen with indecision. Do I try and clean up a bit around the house? Put in some laundry? Or get some work hours in? Plus it could be hard to get larger projects done, when I could only commit to working 15 minutes or so at a time. If I was lucky, it would be an hour or more .... but I could never count on it.

So I was looking forward to working all my hours in the office, and being able to enjoy just being home when I was home. No more carting home my computer and piles of paperwork. Work that I wouldn't have even been able to finish in the same amount of time at the office, much less with my fractured work schedule at home. I thought it would make life simpler.

But I was a little sad, too. I was committing to being away from Eleanor for more than 20 hours a week, once you added in commuting time. It helped that my younger sister is watching her the majority of the time, so at least I know she's in good hands. But it's still hard to leave in the morning when she realizes what's going on and she starts wailing.

At the same time, the days that we have together are more precious because of their scarcity. I'm a little more willing to let the to-do list wait and play with Eleanor now, because I know I won't have that time tomorrow. Being away makes me appreciate my time at home more.

I'm getting the feeling that, like many things, I won't know if I've made the right decision until months or years from now. Was going back to work the right choice? Should I have stayed home? Before Eleanor, I thought juggling work and home was difficult, but I had no idea!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Running Goal: 10k in May

Well, the gauntlet has been thrown. This past weekend I did get registered for the Flying Pig 10k, which is the day before Keith's marathon (early May). I hope I'm ready!

I did do a 4-mile run last Sunday, which gives me hope. My goal is to run 3 times a week throughout April, including 5 miles this coming Sunday, then 6 miles the Sunday after that. If I can manage that, I'll know I'm ready!

If it would just stop snowing here, that would help with the likelihood of me actually getting out to run.

Best-case scenario: I also do the 5k Run Wild for a Cure in Cleveland the following weekend, which benefits the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation—a cause that is very important to me. In some ways I'm more nervous about that race, though, because Keith's work friend is planning on running it. He's just started running recently, and is hoping to run a 10-minute/mile pace.

I don't have any kind of pace goal for the 10k. I just want to finish. I think there's a better than 98% chance that I run slower than 10min/mile for that one. But now that I have some personal competition for the 5k (even though I've only met him once), I would really like to be able to keep up or even beat him ..... but maybe I should just focus on getting my miles in, for now. That's challenge enough.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Rock Climbing

Thanks to our friend Emily's suggestion, we went rock climbing on Friday night with her and Stephen and Stephen's rock-climbing buddies. Well, to be honest .... the experts (Stephen and co.) actually climbed. The novices (me, Keith, and Emily) just messed around. But it was fun!

Emily directed us to the Cleveland Rock Gym, which is an old warehouse that has been converted into climbing walls ranging from 10-feet to 30-feet tall. We chose not to get harnessed up and tackle the 30-foot walls. Instead, they had an option to just "Boulder" which meant climbing the smaller walls or staying below a certain height on the higher walls, so we didn't have to get harnessed and belayed. (Can you "get belayed"? Not really sure of the verbiage there ....)

We did rent climbing shoes. As the worker is pulling out our appropriate sizes, he did warn us "These shoes should be tight enough to hurt." And they were! Not just uncomfortable, but seriously painful. They are very thin, and the bottom is made of smooth rubber. Somehow the shoes curl your toes under—I'm assuming for better grippy-ness on the rocks. I couldn't keep them on the whole time; I had to give my feet a break in the middle. As Stephen says, "I feel like a ballerina!" Except, not graceful. At all.

I was really intimidated to start. I felt like everyone else knew what they were doing, and I was just this wimpy, out-of-shape former runner who didn't know the first thing about climbing. I imagined myself falling off the walls in many horrible, contorted positions. I'm really glad we had Emily there to give us some pointers.

She explained that they create different routes on the walls, which are marked by colored tape and given a point value. For example, the red-tape route (which usually has a more colorful name like "Cherry Bomb") could be worth 100 points, which is the easiest. The more points, the higher level of difficulty.

To start, Emily climbed a medium-difficulty route. Then Keith tried it and got probably 3/4s of the way before jumping off the wall because he couldn't figure out where to go next. I only made it halfway, if that. For us, it was much more than medium difficulty.

Eventually, I fell into a groove. First of all, I stopped trying to follow routes and just climbed the easiest way possible, using every hand- and foothold available. Stephen also gave us some climbing advice ("Use your legs! Try the mantle grip!" and other things we couldn't decipher). We also sat around and watched the experienced climbers, marveling at how they moved their bodies up and sideways. I especially liked seeing someone arrested in mid-climb as she contemplated her next move. Kind of like chess, but with your LIFE. (If it weren't for the harnesses and all.)

Towards the end, we focused on the easiest wall in the place, and one of the easiest routes on the wall. We tried over and over again to figure out how to finish that one route. Keith and Emily both did; I never managed it without cheating. And after a few hours, my arms weren't even capable of hauling me up to the top of the 10-feet wall, no matter how many ways I cheated. It was time to call it a night.

I think, overall, it was a really great experience of getting outside my comfort zone. At the beginning of the evening, I thought it was a HORRIBLE idea. We were going to die horrible deaths, or at the very least be painfully maimed. And why? WHY? Just for fun.

But by the end, I was enjoying myself. I liked being sore the next day. I'm still thinking about that one route, and how the heck I could manage to finish it without cheating. I'd like to go back and give it another try. Hopefully before my next birthday!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Is It Really That Hard? Carpet Cleaner

Lately, I've been spending a LOT more time than I would like (because any time is too much), on my hands and knees, scrubbing the carpet after another one of Beckett's messes. He's not very happy that I'm actually getting out of the house more now that the weather is nicer. Nor is he enamored of the fact that he's on a leash until the backyard gate is fixed and Houdini-proof.

So he poops on the carpet or digs up houseplants .... just whatever way he can show his displeasure with the humans. In a passive/aggressive doggy kind of way.

But anyway, here's my point: I'm trying to spray the carpet cleaner down onto a specific spot on the carpet. And it keeps clogging. It only works if you point it directly out in front of you; it doesn't work if you're pointing down. BUT IT'S CARPET CLEANER. Isn't "down" the whole point?!?

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to me! I'm not just 30 anymore. I'm "in my early 30s." It feels so much older. Of course, that might also have something to do with the fact that I'm no longer merely pregnant, but a Mom.

We are getting together with my family tonight, but Keith and I don't have specific plans yet to celebrate on our own. My older sister is watching Eleanor on Friday night so we can go out .... but I have no idea what to do. I don't want to just go out to eat. I want to focus to be on something other than food. I want to DO something. I thought about ice-skating, but I'm done with winter. It needs to be an activity that either isn't tied to any particular season or, if it is, it speaks of sunshine and warmth.

Any suggestions?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Not Over-Eager, Yet Interested

Keith and I have been meeting a lot of new people since Eleanor was born. It's hard sometimes to strike the right balance between not seeming desperate and over eager to strike up a friendship, but yet interested enough to pursue becoming more than just acquaintances.

Once, in December, I apparently failed to strike the right balance. I had met another new mom at the breastfeeding support group. She seemed really nice and we had a lot in common .... we had even emailed back and forth a few times about breastfeeding-related stuff. But then I casually mentioned in an email (it was very "breezy," if you remember the Friends episode) that we should get together sometime outside of the group. I never heard from her again.

But things were looking a bit more hopeful for my mom and baby yoga group. I really like the instructor, and one other mom has joined the group who's baby girl was born just 2 days before Eleanor. A few weeks ago, the instructor suggested that we all meet at the zoo sometime, since we had been talking about going and having passes, etc.

Today was that day. Except, it didn't go according to plan at all. The instructor left me a voicemail a few days ago saying she couldn't make it after all. She didn't have the other mom's phone number handy, but she would give mine to the other mom, so Mom #2 could call me and we could discuss if we still wanted to go or what.

Well, I never heard from her and I had no way of contacting her. We were supposed to meet at the zoo at noon today. Finally, at 9 o'clock this morning, I called the instructor and told her I'd never heard anything so I didn't know what was going on. Or rather, I told her voicemail. At that point, I wrote the whole thing off. The instructor had cancelled, the other mom hadn't called me, and it was pouring down rain. Obviously, it wasn't meant to be.

At 11:40, the instructor calls me back. Apparently, she never got a hold of Mom #2 to say that she couldn't go. So all this time, Mom #2 thought everything was good, we were all meeting as planned. And apparently, the only way the instructor did finally talk to Mom #2 is because Mom #2 called the instructor to say she was running 5-10 minutes late.

So, it's 11:40. It takes me at least a half-hour to get to the zoo, if I were ready to walk out the door. Which I wasn't at all. But Mom #2 was already en route, the instructor wasn't going ... so I had to go, right?

I threw baby stuff into the diaper bag. Diapers, change of clothes, bottle, food, sunhat, sunblock ... anything I could possibly need or want. I put in my contacts so I could wear my sunglasses (since by this time it had turned into a gorgeous, sunny day) and forgot to bring my sunglasses. And off Eleanor and I went.

In the end, it turned out really well. Mom #2 was very nice, and very understanding. We chatted easily about babies and life and babies.

And she was the one who said we should do it again sometime, so hopefully that means I struck the right note between over-eager and interested.