Friday, July 31, 2009

Happy Birthday, Eleanor!

Even almost 2 weeks later, I'm still a little in shock to realize that I'm the mother of a 1-year-old. A toddler, no longer a baby.

In case you couldn't tell by the lack of posting, the craziness of her birthday weekend wore me out. So many people and activities and presents! But it was a great weekend and a wonderful birthday party.

I tried to get everyone to tell me beforehand what they were getting Eleanor, so I could warn them if there were any duplicates. But, by and large, everyone refused to tell me. I think because, since Eleanor wasn't really that concerned with her birthday festivities this year, it felt like the surprise was more for Keith and me than it was for Eleanor. And no one wants to ruin a surprise!

So I half expected to get the same 5 toys repeatedly, perhaps top recommendations by Parents magazine or all Baby Einsteins because Eleanor is just that smart :) But I was very impressed by the fact that she got a wide variety of toys and clothes. We pulled out a few toys to give her later, when these start to lose their luster. But for now, she loves all of the new toys. From the complicated water table to the rocking horse to the "beach bag" that she piles everything into and carries from room to room, she is enthralled! And it's fun for us to see her interacting with all of these new toys and, ergo, how much she has grown mentally and physically in the past year.

I'm sure this next year will be a lot of fun!

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Year Ago Today ....

.... Nothing happened. It was my due date for Little L, but all was quiet. I remember thinking about how, for 9 months, we'd focused on July 17 like it was a date set in stone. Like we were planning a wedding or some other event that could be, well, predicted. And wondering, if it wasn't the 17th, what date would become the important one to remember for the rest of my days?

I think July 20 is a good day for a birthday. Especially for a girl. Apparently there was some important women's history made on July 20. According to Wikipedia, on that date in 1921, Congresswoman Alice Mary Robertson became the first woman to preside over the US House of Representatives. Five years later, a convention of the Methodist Church voted to allow women to become priests. In 1942 during World War II, the first unit of the Women's Army Corps began training in Des Moines, Iowa. 1960 saw Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) elect Sirimavo Bandaranaike Prime Minister, the world's first elected female head of government. I would also rank it as a banner day for women (and men) that, on July 20, 2005, Canada became the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage.

And then, at 9:14 am July 20, 2008, Eleanor was born. She joined other notable July 20 births including: Alexander the Great (356BC), Gregor Mendel (1822), Sir Edmund Hillary (1919), Carlos Santana (1947), Stone Gossard (1966), Gisele B√ľndchen (1980), and Julianne Hough (1988)*.

Sorry, July 17. You had your chance!

*Recent years have been light on scientists and world leaders, and heavy on entertainment and sports. But maybe Eleanor will change that!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

You're Not Allowed to Have an Opinion

You know what's been annoying lately? With Eleanor's birthday approaching, acquaintances have started the (wink wink, nudge nudge) "Guess it's time for the next one!"

Our families and close friends can joke about it. Like when my Mom "casually" remarked last week that, when my older sister turned a year old, my Mom was already pregnant with me. But then she did think a moment, and remembered that she was on a two-year maternity leave and she was trying to fit two babies into one maternity leave. I don't have that motivation.

But I've heard it from a few people that I only see once in a great while, with whom I'm not particularly close (none of them know about this blog, for instance), and that's just annoying. Whether my uterus is currently occupied or not is really not any of your business. Nor do you need to know if the occupancy status will be changing any time soon. Why do people think this is an appropriate, casual topic of conversation?

It's said along the lines of "Can you believe the weather?" or "How about that local sports team?" People, please remember that a woman's reproductive organs are NOT good water cooler talk. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Against All Odds

This past weekend, Keith and I had plans. For the first time since Eleanor was born, we were going out with my parents.

That may not seem strange, but I will admit, we actually used to go out with my parents on a pretty regular basis. We buy tickets together to the Explorer Series at the Museum of Natural History and we all like a bit of Shakespeare or baseball now and again.

Since last July, we have gone out in twos and threes. My Mom and I go to a science lecture while my Dad and Keith stayed home with the baby. Mom watches Eleanor while the rest of us go to a baseball game. But finally, Mom's friend Mary Lou watched Eleanor last Saturday while Keith and I and my parents went to see "As You Like It" put on by the The Ohio Shakespeare Festival at Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens.

I never thought it was going to happen. First, Eleanor came down with a fever on Thursday. Friday was a bad, bad day, full of tears and fitful sleep and not a whole lot of eating or rest for anyone.

And it rained. Did I mention that the performance was supposed to take place outdoors? Thursday and Friday, it poured. By Saturday morning, we figured our big night out was shot.

I was so happy to be wrong! Eleanor woke up Saturday morning feeling much better—her fever was gone and she was still a little cranky, but overall much more like herself. We still had thunderstorms Saturday morning, but they were mostly cleared up by mid-afternoon and we decided to go ahead with our plans.

We went through the KFC drive-thru on the way out to Stan Hywet, and enjoyed a picnic dinner on the grounds before heading over to our seats in the audience. After the weather and Eleanor being sick for the past few days, I was actually convinced that I wouldn't enjoy the show. I thought I would be so busy worrying about all the things I hadn't gotten done over the past few days, and whether Eleanor was really better or not, that I wouldn't be able to relax and enjoy the show.

And again, I was wrong. (It was a very humbling day for me.) Once we got away from the house and were in the idyllic setting of the Stan Hywet grounds (the play was set up near the scene pictured above), I remembered what it was like to go out. We made conversation, enjoyed the weather, and thought about literary themes and actors' performances.

It's good to get out sometimes. Especially when it's against all odds, and you really need a break from reality.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Is It Really That Hard?: Haircuts

Why is it so hard to find a good place for a haircut? I really don't think my standards are so very exacting. I want a decent haircut; that is, one that is a) noticeably shorter than when I arrived, and b) looks better than when I arrived.

I also don't want to pay an exorbitant amount for it. In the Midwest, for a haircut that only takes maybe a half-hour, I would consider a fair price to be around $30-40. Making a dollar per minute sounds pretty good to me.

And yet. We've lived here for 3 years now, and I still am having a hard time finding a place to get my hair cut at a good price. At first I got it cut on the West side, near my parents'. But that was quite a trek, and the person who I liked there moved somewhere else .... so I figured I should find somewhere closer to me.

There's actually 2 salons within walking distance of my house. But both of them charge $50 or more for just the haircut alone, not counting the obligatory 20% tip. I think that's F-ing ridiculous.

But, on the other hand, I also refuse to go to someplace like Best Cuts where I could wait for an hour or more, and I have no idea who is going to be cutting my hair. I've had enough hair traumas in my life that I'm not going to expose myself to that much risk.

Another new hair place opened up a few months ago, and my friend Emily tried it and liked it so I thought I'd go there, too. Until I found out that this brand new place ALSO charges $50 for a haircut. But you just opened!!! That doesn't seem right.

FINALLY, I found a place about 5 minutes away called Fast Eddy's Chop Shop. They had a motorcycle theme, which isn't my favorite but I really didn't care all that much. Lots of chrome and black and orange, with loud music and a very open styling floor. Not a lot of the frills that come with a "salon." They didn't offer me herbal tea or sparkling water when I arrived, and that was fine by me. The stylist cut my hair, did a good job, and all for less than $40. I was sold!

That was back in the winter, and I've been meaning to go back for awhile but hadn't gotten around to it. But with Eleanor's birthday fast approaching and the prospect of many pictures that will be saved for posterity, I figured it was really time.

But I've been trying to call them off and on for a week, and never managed to get through. Finally, today, I get a recording that says they are temporarily closed, sorry for the inconvenience, and I can leave my name and number if I want to be notified of their grand reopening soon.

So I gave up. I called one of the over-priced salons near my house and made an appointment for next Tuesday. I can't fight the system any more! But I'd better have damn good hair in all of Eleanor's birthday photos, and I'll be sure to tell the stylist that when she hands me my steaming mug of chai.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

My Toughest Critic

Before Eleanor was born, I was certain that I would make my own baby food. I mean, why not?!? How hard can it be? It would take hardly any time, save us lots of money, and ensure that our precious baby was getting only the purest of ingredients, lovingly crafted into delectable mush.

And then. Eleanor. I tried making baby food a few times. But 1) it took a LOT longer than I was anticipating, and 2) she refused to eat it. Even though she loves baby food in a jar. So it's not saving us much money if I end up throwing all of it out. I don't know; maybe I tried the wrong foods, or the wrong techniques, or something. But she wasn't having it, and I was incredibly frustrated, so I gave up.

Then we tried to make the switch to real food. Which she also doesn't really like. The girl likes her food slimey and out of a jar, or in the shape of a fish, and it's been a hard trait to combat. But we keep trying. We've cooked sweet potatoes, peas, carrots, plain pasta. I've given her raw strawberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, watermelon, and more. She's tried orange juice, cheddar cheese, swiss cheese, and cottage cheese. Every day, for every meal, I give her little bits of finger food that, 90% of the time, doesn't ever get eaten. Most of it goes in the mouth, but it all comes right back out again. We were shocked this weekend when she seemed to be eating ham. Ham! And the next day, when we offered it again, it was summarily rejected.

So. The point I'm getting at here, is that I was amazed to serve her the same meal that we ate tonight: whole wheat spaghetti with veggie pasta sauce. And she loved it!! She couldn't get enough. I don't know if it's because she was eating the same thing as us, or the taste, or whatever. But it was the first time I've actually cooked something for her and had such a positive reaction. I felt on top of the world.

I don't know how I'm going to feel tomorrow, however, when I try to feed it to her again, and it ends up on the floor, getting hoovered up by the dog. Can this be the start of a streak, where she actually eats real food? Or am I just getting my hopes up for nothing?

At least if she rejects her birthday cake, I'll know that it means something is wrong with her taste buds, and it's not my cooking.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Using a Time-Turner?

Yesterday, I managed to sleep in AND get an early morning run. How is that possible?

It's all in your perception, my friend. The key is that my definition of "sleeping in" has changed significantly over the past year. Nowadays, I consider sleeping in to be anything past when Eleanor wakes up. So if Eleanor starts chattering away at 6am, but Keith gets up with her so I can sleep until 6:3o ... that counts as sleeping in! Because I know that I got bonus sleep.

On Sunday, Eleanor did indeed wake up at 6 o'clock, happy and alert. Happy is always good, but 6 o'clock was EARLY. Especially since she didn't go to be until after 9 o'clock the night before—when her normal bedtime is 8pm. I felt bad for Keith, but reveled in the feeling of snuggling back under the covers. Every once in a while, the sound of Eleanor's laughter or Keith's talking filtered back up, past the covers, into my dreams. But I knew she was happy and being taken good care of, so I went right back to sleep.

I was planning on sleeping in until 7 ... I rolled over and looked at the clock at 7:12. I told myself I should really get up .... but then Gomez came and laid on me. So I didn't actually get up until 7:30.

So that is how I "slept in" until 7:30. It felt restful and decadent. And then I got dressed and was out the door around 8 o'clock for 5-mile run with Beckett. I love running in the morning, and I so rarely get to do it anymore. Being out before everyone is up, the cool weather, the morning sunshine, knowing that your run is under your belt and you can face the rest of the day with a good conscience.

99.9% of the time, I complain about how being a mother means I have no time to myself. But this is one way that having Eleanor around makes it seem like I have more time. Or I guess it just means that I value my time much more highly. I love that getting out of bed before 8 o'clock can seem like a treat, but I still have the rest of the day, stretching ahead of me.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Intermittently Annoying

There's been a ridiculous amount of rain here over the past week. So I've been reminded on many car trips that our 2003 Toyota Matrix only has one intermittent wiper setting.

What's the deal with that?!? Keith's first car was a 97 Chevy Cavalier and mine was a 2000 Chrysler Neon. Both of these cars were compact cars, bought second-hand, because we could barely afford any car loan at all. I needed my dad to co-sign so that I could even get the loan, since all I had was student debt and a few months of full-time work under my belt.

My point being: both of these cars had several intermittent wiper settings. So whether the clouds are just spittin', or the skies have opened up, you could get just the right amount of wiper action. I thought, with buying a foreign crossover car, we were moving up a step on the car-buying rung. But instead, only ONE intermittent wiper setting?!? Really?!? I will keep this in mind for next time, Toyota!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

This Blog Is the Man

There were lots of comments, electronically and otherwise, on the last post about keeping track of diet and fitness. I would love to offer this blog as a place for my friends and readers to let me / the world know how their efforts at healthy living are going.

I know that a certain person is training for her first full marathon, another particular husband is shooting for a new 5k PR, and some of us are trying to lose baby weight, or maintain that weight loss.

Although this isn't specifically a fitness blog (you should head over to FitGeGe for that), I'm always looking for motivation, encouragement, and tips. So, if anyone is interested, I would be happy to commit to posting on a somewhat regular basis (every two weeks or so?) about my progress or lack thereof on my weight loss and fitness goals. And hearing from everyone in the comments about how things are going for you ... or have the occasional guest post from someone who has a product they'd like to talk about or a technique that works for them.

Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

You Are The Man

Keith has had the Nike Plus for a few years now. His enthusiasm goes in waves; sometimes he uses it religiously, and other times (probably when he's not training as hard) he can take it or leave it. When he does use it, he really enjoys uploading his runs and tracking the stats about how far he ran in each month, when he ran fastest and slowest during each month, etc.

Knowing of his interaction with the Nike Plus, an article on Wired caught my eye the other week, titled "The Nike Experiment: How the Shoe Giant Unleashed the Power of Personal Metrics." The article discusses how seeing and analyzing the workout data motivates people to keep going. In particular, I found the reference to the Hawthorne Effect, where workers performed better just because they knew they were being watched, fascinating.

I would say that this blog is a form of the Hawthorne Effect. I put it out there to the world when I have running or weight loss goals, or all of my various New Year's resolutions. And whether anyone happens to read the post or not, I think I'm being watched, so it gives me motivation to keep to my goals.

I don't think I want to get a Nike Plus; I already have the desire to run. Maybe I need to get something that counts calories as I consume them, and then tweets them out to the universe. Or have surveillance cameras installed in the kitchen. Just the thought makes me shudder!