Monday, May 14, 2012

when mother's day and drug awareness week collide

There is just nothing I love more than the homemade cards and books that the kids make me for Mother's Day. I got the one above from Elizabeth, and as you can see the #1 thing that she loves about me is that I don't do drugs except medicine. Number 2 is that I help her in hard times. I love these kids.

I also got a giant stack of coupons:

offering some traditional services (extra hugs) and some family-specific ones (no complaining about yoga). {I haven't exercised during my children's waking hours in 9.5 years, so the sight of me walking out of the house in yoga garb on Saturday morning has been confusing and (fake) traumatic for them}.

Jacob made me a comic strip:

And we got a rare mom-with-kids photo!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

storefront window wisdom

I let him know this early in our relationship, and we've been very happy ever since. Coincidence? I think not.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I will never make your brownies, Abby

It's a very busy week, with a huge deadline looming at work and tons of year-end stuff for the kids at school, and yet, still no cloning. I thought that at the very least I'd be able to sit down at the end of a long day and soak in some sound advice from Dear Abby, but what do I get? A brownie recipe:

Seriously, Abby? Seriously, Anita B. in New Jersey? That's like asking Dorie Greenspan what to do about your 28 year old son who still lives with you rent-free and sleeps until noon, refuses to look for a job and may be running a meth lab out of your basement. She might have awesome advice, but why would you even think to go there? What I really needed today was to see some sage wisdom of any persuasion; it did not even have to be remotely applicable to my life -- something along the lines of what you told the snubbed ornithologist would have been completely fine. But nooooooooo, instead you go shilling your cookbooklets. Argh, the badness of this week continues.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Piano recital

With this post I hope to find myself riding a two game win streak of keeping Grandma happy with my blog content - this time, grandchildren piano recital photos!

Jacob and Elizabeth just started taking piano in January, and they both seem to enjoy it. While practicing was somewhat inconsistent, they rarely complained when I remembered to remind them to practice, and they would sometimes even take the initiative to practice on their own. On the rare occasion that I told them to go practice and they would complain, I would regale them with tales of Tiger Moms who demand three hours of daily piano practice and threaten to give away their kids' dollhouse piece by piece if they don't master The Little White Donkey before next week's lesson, which suddenly made the 10 minutes of practice that this Western mom was requesting seem eminently reasonable. I hope that their enjoyment of piano continues, because mom was right, I really do regret quitting as a kid.

They both seemed comfortable with their songs as the recital approached, and the teacher had them well-coached in performance protocol and what to do in the event of a mistake. But since Jacob in particular is prone to a bit of nervousness and perfectionism, I had a little chat with him before the recital:

C: You are going to do GREAT. What will you do if you make a mistake?
J: Just keep playing.
C: Right. You know Dr. P, Robert's dad? He is a neurosurgeon. If he makes a mistake while doing brain surgery, it matters. If you make a mistake while playing Ode to Joy, it doesn't matter.
J: I know. {long pause}. What would happen if Dr. P makes a mistake while doing brain surgery?

Both kids seemed totally relaxed when we got there, and they had a few minutes to practice on of the gorgeous 9 foot Steinway grand:

Elizabeth was the youngest student performing, and she played "Skating" and "Basketball" with great enthusiasm:

Jacob knocked Ode to Joy and Alouette out of the park:

And remembered to bow:

The most stressful part of the whole experience was walking through the gallery of $50-$100+ K Steinways with the kids; I know the point is to actually play the pianos at places like this, but my instinct was to shoo them away from the instruments while my eyes darted around looking for the dreaded "You Break It, You Buy It" sign. Thankfully, no breaking (or buying) took place, and it was a lovely afternoon all the way around.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Dance recital

Mom, good news. Just when I was about to sit down and dash off something about my sadness over the untimely passing of the Beastie Boys' MCA, maybe go on for one too many paragraphs about significant Beastie moments during my formative years or where I was the first time I heard Professor Booty, perhaps reminisce about how hilarious it was that year in law school when David and his friends went as the Sabotage video for Halloween:

Well I was thisclose to a beastiescentric post just like that (or maybe one about how they never have enough checkout lanes open at Publix during peak store hours), when we got our computer fixed (or most accurately, were told by the Geek Squad that it was never broken), and now I can post pictures of the grandchildren from last weekend's dance recital instead. Wooooooo!

The girls started at a new ballet school this year,and I've got to admit that it was not my favorite. It felt a little bit intense to me; not intense for the dancers -- the teachers were very sweet and loving and fun, and the girls loved them -- but for the moms, as the school has a long list of rules that I could just never seem to follow all at once. It started early, when I sent Elizabeth in the wrong color leotard. After that initial (and especially egregious) rules violation, I took turns violating (1) the no runs in the tights rule; (2) the no changing in the bathroom rule; (3) the no waiting for the dancers in the hallway rule; (4) the wear your hair up off your face rule; and (5) the no males in room N110 rule (well actually David violated that one, but I forgot to tell him about it and it is not exactly an intuitive rule -- and as David pointed out, it is one that is particularly difficult to comply with while simultaneously complying with the "no waiting in the hallway outside of Room N110" rule.

Anyway, despite my difficulty in keeping up with the regs, the girls loved ballet and want to take at the same school again next year. The recital's theme was "Noah's Ark," and Elizabeth was a tiger, which suits her personality perfectly:

And Caroline was a purple butterfly, which suits her personality perfectly.

Busting a move (or whatever the technical ballet term for that is):

Jacob (who patiently sat through approximately 5 hours worth of dress rehearsal and recital) with Caroline:


Friday, May 4, 2012

(un)happy feet

If I were remotely entrepreneurial, I would start a business of toenails-only pedicures. Surely I'm not the only person out there who desperately wants this service? I want my feet to look presentable in the summer months, but having somebody scrub at my feet with what is essentially a sandpaper block is something I would classify as physical assault if it was happening outside the spa-service realm. It tickles to the point of extreme pain. I feel every muscle in my body tense up as I white knuckle the chair arms while they assault me scrub my feet. If I had something to chew on, like a teething ring, I'd be gnawing for dear life. If I could paint my own toenails without getting nailpolish up around my kneecaps, I'd be doing it -- trust me.

My pained body language is apparently not enough to convey my extreme discomfort with this process, and there seems to be a bit of a language barrier that prevents us from understanding each other, because whenever I'm getting a pedicure, they assume I want more, not less, in the feet prodding department. They assume I want a total body experience, which I do not. Case in point, the massage chair:

Note the tears in the massage chair control cover. It's torn because people like me, while being aggressively bucked, stretched, and rolled by the chair, frantically poke at it while mentally screaming "oh for the love, how do you turn this damn thing off?!?!?!" And then the nice lady looks up from my feet, notices me poking at the control panel and says "you want higher?" NO! I want stillness! When I finally figured out how to turn it off, she looked at me sadly, like she'd personally failed me. I almost wanted to turn it back on just to make her feel better, but there was that motion sickness thing . . .

I can never seem to successfully communicate that I really want the absolute bare minimum that will allow me to walk out of there with decent looking toenails. That's all I want. Leave the feet to me. I am sure I'm in the minority here, but I can't be alone. If any local friends know of a . . . minimalist . . . pedicure experience, please share!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

controversy over the dancing queen's real age

{Confidential to blog readers who shall remain nameless, but who may have grandchildren who live in my house, who patiently check this blog every day in the hopes of seeing pictures of said grandchildren, but are instead forced to endure random musings about bacon, Glee, yoga, and caramelized onions: I promise that we will get the computer fixed by this weekend so that I can post some grandchildren photos.} But until then, more randomness!

A sure-fire bad mood buster in our house is Dancing Queen {I mean, isn't Dancing Queen everybody's bad mood buster?} Well, at least it was until yesterday. It was playing while we were cleaning up from dinner, and we were happily singing along:

Dancing Queen,
Young and sweet,
Only seventeen.
Dancing Queen
Feel the beat from
The tambourine (oh yeah!)

We continued on, you can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life, oo-oo-ooh, etc. etc. -- but when we got to the next verse, Jacob abruptly changed the words.

Dancing Queen!
Young and sweet,
Only fifty-three.

And then all hell broke loose. Elizabeth cracked up. I spit out my water. David shook his head and said "well, the average age of people who like Abba is fifty-three." And Caroline screamed: "SHE'S NOT FIFTY THREE!! SHE'S ONLY SEVENTEEN!!" and went running out of the room in tears. {She's an Abba purist -- I can respect that}.

Jacob and Elizabeth thought that Jacob's lyrics change was the height of hilarity and kept replaying the song so that they could continue singing the revised lyrics and guffawing. I laughed in spite of myself after getting the inevitable visual of an AARP dance-off, even though it wasn't nearly as funny as it might have been if I wasn't closer to fifty-three than I am seventeen myself (hey, why CAN'T a fifty-three year old be the Dancing Queen?) It took me a few minutes to compose myself enough to go find Caroline, who was hiding in a corner in the basement, and console her ("Don't worry honey, it's okay -- the Dancing Queen is only seventeen, Jacob was just being silly.")

I really hope we haven't forever lost this song in our house.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

you can't handle the truth! (about how long it takes onions to caramelize)

I'm so glad that there is someone else in the world who shares my indignation on this subject.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

30 day hot yoga review

I've finished my first 30 days of Bikram yoga a.k.a. "hot yoga" and figured I'd write down my thoughts on it so I can remember how much I once loved it in a few months when I'm ready to quit. I was waxing poetic over dinner one night about how hooked I am on Bikram, and David said "Great! I give it 14 months." Ah, he knows me, and the typical life cycle of my hobbies, so very well. And he may be right, but for now I'm in that sweet new hobby honeymoon period and swearing that it will be different this time around.

I decided I wanted to try yoga when my old fitness regimen just wasn't doing it for me anymore. I knew I needed to shake things up, and yoga is one thing I've never tried before. I emailed the one person I trust most in the world when it comes to yoga, my college roommate Peg, who has practiced yoga for 10 years and teaches it in Connecticut. This is Peg:

She is no joke. In fact, she's kind of famous -- Emily Bazelon {one of my favorite writers} is one of Peg's students and gave her a shout out when reviewing Claire Dederer's Poser for Slate - they are both rock stars, rock stars I tell ya!

Anyway, Peg kindly checked out the links of various yoga studios in my area and provided me with an overview of the various yoga styles:

"First . . . Bikram. A scene. 105-110 degrees and 80% humidity. 99% nakedness. You are sweating from your shins by the third pose." {Actually, it may be 99% nakedness in heathen liberal enclaves like New Haven, but here in the Bible Belt it's 80, 85% nakedness max}.

She went through some other styles too, but honestly, after her Bikram synopsis, how could I seriously consider anything else? - ha! Actually, Bikram won for mundane reasons of time/location convenience, and because I had a couple of friends who attend and were very enthusiastic about it.

Triangle pose:

I went to my first class one evening with my friend Kimberly, who is a serious yogi (I'll try to keep the use of that word to a minimum, I swear). I was overwhelmed by the heat when I first walked into the room, and during the 90 minute class I alternated between four thoughts: (1) it's #%*@ hot in here; (2) I think I'm going to throw up; (3) I think I'm going to pass out; (4) how the heck does she get her body to do that? The teacher, Jamie, told us neophytes to just focus on staying in the room and breathing, and I so wanted to limit my focus as she suggested, but I kept getting distracted by 1-4 above. But I made it through the first class and was determined to force myself to go 3x week during my 30 day trial period no matter what. By the third or fourth class, the heat became a non-issue and my focus turned to my complete incompetence at doing the postures (which I counted as progress).

A perfect standing bow pose:

The teacher stands in front of the room during standing bow and says "the harder you kick, you can stand here forever." Lies! The harder I kick, the more likely I am to take out everyone within a 6 foot radius.

Some of the postures feel like a game of Twister gone horribly wrong, like the spine twisting pose, which the teacher calls out verbatim in accordance with Bikram's instructions: "place your right knee on the floor and bring your right heel to touch the side of your left hip. Now lift the left leg in the air and bring it over the bent right knee and place your left foot to the outside of the right knee. Touch the outside corner of your right knee with your left heel. Bring your right arm up and over to the left, then bring it down on the outside if your left knee. Take hold of your right knee with your right hand, now put your left arm behind your back, palm facing out, and reach all the way around until you can grasp your right thigh. In this way, we begin the twist." WE'RE JUST BEGINNING?!?!

Spine twisting pose:

After that first evening class, I settled into a routine of hitting the Monday and Wednesday 5:30 a.m. class and the Saturday 9:30 a.m. class, as that schedule was the least disruptive for the fam. Now 5:30 a.m. has long been my regular workout time, and at home I could roll out of bed at 5:15 to do a 5:30 run. But to make it to 5:30 yoga I need to get up by 4:40, which seems really early. And looking at it objectively, waking up at 4:40 a.m. to get into my car and drive to a 105 degree room where I will contort myself into uncomfortable positions for 90 minutes seems kind of crazytown. But I kind of like the 5:30 class. It's always small - there have never been more than seven people at the 5:30, and three is not unusual. All skill levels are represented - the only common denominator between us is that we can't make it to class at a less ridiculous hour.

The Saturday 9:30 is a whole different ballgame. It is packed - easily 20+ people, at least 17 of whom have completely ripped hot yoga bodies. These are not the people who will get bored with hot yoga in 14 months and quit, these are the people who will go knock out a quick 5 miler after class. There are a lot of 25 year olds in a lot of lululemon (actually, "a little bit of lululemon" is probably more technically accurate).

Typical Saturday morning hot yoga crowd:

{wait, is that Quentin Tarantino?}

The 3 or 4 of us who don't fit this prototype are easily spottable, as we are the ones with (1) more clothing; (2) more body fat; and (3) more of a confused look in our eyes. I try to just zone out and listen to the teacher, who tells us to focus on ourselves in the mirror and not to compare ourselves to the person next to us, or even to ourselves in a different class -- all that matters is this moment, right now. And that's really about as new agey that Bikram gets. Well, there was that time when the teacher said "once you conquer your fear of camel, you will have more strength, more confidence, more control in all areas of your life" --

Camel pose:

Well, I have conquered my fear of camel, yet my life is pretty much as chaotic as it was the first time I tried camel and threw out my neck, go figure!

As I explained to David, I feel high after a Bikram class. He asked me if I was sure that isn't heatstroke - and it might be, but whatever it is, it has me coming back for more. And Andrea has vouched for the intoxicated post-class feeling - before I started she told me that no matter what song is playing when you leave the hot yoga room after class, you'll think "That's my FAVORITE song!" - and it's true! I've been to 15 classes so far and 15 times they have played my favorite song after class (and all different songs, it's a crazy coincidence!) Plus, the tiniest improvement in a posture feels like a huge victory. It's highly addictive. At least in the first month. As soon as the endorphins wear off I'll probably be on to the next thing, but for now, I'm loving this.