Friday, October 29, 2010

File this cake under: ZOMG

Okay, so in chatting with a friend, I learned that she makes cakes as a little side business. Oh! Make Nate's cake, I exclaimed. Okay! she agreed. A flurry of back and forth email and face to face conversation left her with the instructions: Rocket ship, green. Oh, vanilla.

And then I sit back and wait, which I excel at, and which is why I outsource most things. (I would make an excellent supervisor.)

Then, it's birthday dinner time, and she slowly drives up, glacially gets out of her car (all to avoid cake damage), and delivers THIS CAKE:

Nate's eyes got about as big as the platter and he just stood, staring up at the counter. Can I touch it? Please can I touch it? SURE, I decide, having apparently zero respect for the amount of work that went into making this. One finger only, I add, slapping on a garnish of caution at the last minute, which probably kept him from completely destroying it. And so he added a healthy divot to the frosting, which was then artfully (and graciously) blotted out by Tha Cakemaker.

But really, the cake was mindblowing. Nate had the best birthday in all the land, aw. Thanks, Cake Lady!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Tale of the Door and the Dress.

It's Embarrassing Stories Thursday! (Last week's installment can be found here.)

So, rewind to the summer of 2008. The boys were 3 and pre-one, and the day in question was a total festival of heat and humidity. We were off to a playdate, and in deference to it being a million degrees out, I'd started the car and blasted the air conditioning for a few minutes before loading them up into their car seats.

Once the car was tolerable, I hustled them out there, waving to the 6 or 7 roofers working on the house across the street* (*they become somewhat important later), latched the kids in, and headed back to the house to do one last sweep for forgotten diaper bag items, etc. Then I lock the door, swiftly and smartly latch it behind me, and attempt to take a step toward the car. What's this? I can't move? WELL, it would appear that I've locked a good portion of my dress in the door. The next step, I think, not panicking yet, is to simply unlock the door. Let me just grab my keys out of my... oh shit. I hear the car running. I see the keys glinting in the ignition. I gauge the 20 foot dash between me and the driver's side door. I HEAR AND SEE THE ROOFERS ACROSS THE STREET.

So I stand for a while, locked in my door, looking around at my options. It swirls around and I finally come up with these:

1) Wait for a walker to come by. Hope said walker won't steal my car and children when I ask them for help. Picture myself running down the street mostly naked, screaming at the retreating car.

2) Remove dress, streak to keys all by myself, roofers be damned.

It takes me about 30 seconds to settle on #2. I was still firmly in Crazytown after the birth, where I worried about zombies so much that I perused survivalist websites and talked about MREs and the merits of various tents with Andy (who nodded amenably, and also purchased bulk water every time we went to Costco and only ONCE suggested that I see a doctor, bless him) and the potential baby stealing aspect of #1 was enough to make me choose the definitely naked option. In my beautiful and not at all horrifying underpants (I believe they may have been maternity underpants, and about as appealing as that sounds) and nursing tank, I booked it across the driveway, opened the car, ("What are you doing, Mama?"), snatched the keys and sprinted back to the house again.

There was no applause from across the street. There was, however, stunned silence. No hammers, no chatter, just, I assume, the shocked audio output of AWE. I freed my dress and whatever scraps were left of my dignity, ducked into the cool of the kitchen, and pulled it all over my head. Then, calmly, I walked back to the car as if nothing happened, started 'er up, and drove off. Never let them see that you know that they saw your ass, they say.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Terminator: Possibly originates in my playlist?

The other day, on a random 5ish mile run, my iPod (well. My husband's, which I bought him for his birthday and promptly appropriated for myself, but he found his Shuffle that I was replacing (which was replacing an identical Shuffle which he'd chucked in the wash (which wasn't even dirty))) was KILLING it. I had a newish playlist set to random (or, more accurately, shuffle, but how many times have I just said "shuffle" in a row? A lot of times, that's how many.) because I wasn't sure about some of the songs and how they'd fall in the beats per minute, happy feet making needs of a run. WELL. My iPod stepped in and spat out the most perfect playlist order for that particular run in all the land. About to go up a hill that looks horrible? Well, perhaps you would enjoy this uptempo ditty which you haven't heard in months and which is the perfect tool for making you forget that you might crumple into a heap at any second. This went on, and on, and on.

I feel like the next step is, obviously, my iPod coming alive and killing me (or at least making an attempt) in my sleep. Stay tuned for that update. (My husband has my login info in case it's successful.)

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Hills

I decided to enter the world of hill repeats (run up hill. Run down hill. Do again. Repeat as needed.) yesterday. It was semi-awesome, with an 80% chance of me wanting to collapse. I sailed out the door, saying breezily to my husband, "I figure I'll do it 5 times or so, see you in a bit." WELL. Was not aware that the hill I chose was a half mile, pretty much straight up. I managed twice, and would have done a third (erf, but possible), but had to get home in time to herd the offspring to church. Alas! I will just do it again later.

In other running news, I signed up for a couple of races recently: The Lowell 1st Run (Jan 1!), the Hyannis 10K (Feb 27th), and am kicking around some possible 5Ks but haven't pushed the proverbial submit button yet. My credit card is currently hot to the touch from overuse (new running shoes, a ton of Groupons I may not actually use, my youngest's birthday, and Etsy. OH, ETSY. You pain me.) To my credit card, I offer this small comfort: At least we live almost an hour from IKEA. (And I can't break my "no more until it's all assembled and in use" rule, and those new curtains are still folded, sobbing quietly in my closet.)

So, with regard to embarrassing stories, I believe I will go ahead and make them a weekly feature. I have a large arsenal, so while I'm not worried about running out (I wish), I would like to treat these stories with the respect and care that they deserve. I am Gollum and these stories are My Precious. Thursdays will be Story Time. Be here or don't be uncomfortable for me.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Today is my sons' school's UN day. This means that the parents go in with the kids and the kids dress in something that represents their heritage, and the parents/ kids (since the classroom age range is 2 years 9 months to 6, it's pretty much the parents) deliver a short paragraph about where they're from, visual aids are a bonus.

This is my oldest son's 3rd year in this class, and my UN day attempts have gone like this:

Year One: Panic! Search through memory archives and actual, physical items. Unearth tea towel I bought in Guernsey, tiny island in the English Channel which produced my great grandparents and the genes that make me very short (I bought so many pants while I was there, y'all. 28 inch inseam represent!) and bring it in.

Year Two: Become jaded. Put child in Red Sox shirt and declare that he's from Red Sox Nation. Ha.

Year Three: Today! As usual, make no plans and wing it. I vaguely remember purchasing a rugby (or whatever) shirt that said, "Ireland" (my husband's family is legitimately of Irish origin, with actual people that they still talk to living in Ireland) on it last year, but it was too big and got put "away" (which in this house means it could be anywhere) and I'll probably spend most of this morning looking for it while the kids maim each other and most likely someone gets an injury and we end up skipping school anyway since we're hanging with our peeps at Lowell General ER, again. Alas.

But, really, the big thing is this: The UN dinner. OH, THE DINNER. I will say this about the school: When they put on a food event, people BRING IT. It's like that Kirsten Dunst movie, but starring Nigella or something, and the competition is who can make the best Indian food. I have elastic-waisted pants for specifically this event. They are not flattering, perhaps, but they are useful.

However: In predictable me fashion, I completely forgot that I had to bring anything and now it's the morning of the event and I'm at a loss. Most importantly, I really don't have much in the way of actual heritage. I'm pretty much straight-up American. If you want to get into the nitty-gritty, my kids are half-Connecticut (me!) and half-Vermont (husband!), but living in Massachusetts. Probably the most accurate representation of my background (according to my selective memory-generator) would be old school mac and cheese made with Velveeta, and it's even saying something about Spam cooked in orange juice, but that can't be right, so I'm disregarding. (Dad? Care to shed some light?)

But I think that really, truly, the best path for me is this one: Go to bakery. Purchase Irish soda bread. Bash it around a bit so it looks homemade. Place on table at dinner. Immediately consume one metric ton of who know what that makes my mouth light on fire but is SO DELICIOUS. Praise self for thinking ahead with regard to elastic waist. AND wait for next year.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Time for some stories*

So I've decided that now that my big fundraising race is over and my even bigger, non-fundraising race is also over, I'm going to morph this blog into a not just running blog. (I'm still running, of course. Hittin' up some wintery 10Ks and junk for sure.) Which means: Time for some stories!

Everyone who knows me in real life or is subjected to my Facebook updates knows this: Ridiculous and embarrassing crap happens to me regularly. A lot of it is my own fault, since I have a habit of occasionally acting like a non-jerky Larry David in that I sometimes go for the worst-case scenario by accident. It's a flaw, but it's a flaw that totally makes me fun at parties.

Part of me shudders to share all of this on the interweb, but there's also the part of me that was telling my top 2 most awful to the poor woman who had the misfortune to be positioned next to me in exercise class yesterday morning before we even exchanged names. (What's up, Kelly? Also, sorry again.)

So, let's start with the most recent one! It happened over the past two days, so it is fresh in my memory (and gag reflex!)

At school pick-up the other day, another mom was obviously having A Day. I have had many Days, for sure. She plowed into the metal parking pillars and scraped up her van and I knocked on her window to make sure she was okay and, not surprisingly, she wasn't. On the verge of tears and with her younger twins shouting in the back, she said she hadn't slept much in days because she'd been sick and she's too tired to be driving and she was just a mess. I have totally, TOTALLY felt like she looked and my tank of patience was nearly full so I said: Follow me home, leave your kids with me, and go get sane. Come back in 3 hours. She was hesitant to intrude but I told her I'd hound her (she's known me for over a year and knows that's not an idle threat) so she gave in, trundled up the hill to my house, and unloaded her cargo.

We went inside, where it was straight up feral in my living room for two hours. I can handle feral: I have two boys, 5 and 2, and feral is the default. This was more of a volume issue, but it was temporary and fine. The only real issue that arose was a sudden and almost mutiny-inducing banana shortage, but some oranges were unearthed and the troops calmed down.

Then, at about 2 hours and four minutes, one of the twins came up to me, paused thoughtfully, and threw up all over me, the couch, my will to live. I compassionately dragged him onto the tile floor and gave him a bucket and went into Outbreak-style containment mode. If I had one of those giant plastic suits and wee ones for my kids*, we would have SO been in them within seconds. (*Christmas gift ideas? (My parents read this!) Probably available at one of those survival stores, like the one where I buy the "turn any bucket into a toilet" toilet seats to mail anonymously to my friends (who ALWAYS know it's me, which is a commentary that I will someday explore in therapy)) Instead I had to settle for drawing an invisible line and telling the non-barfers to stay behind it, which they mostly did, bless their non-vomiting hearts.

Anyway, towels, bleach wipes, making a bed on the kitchen floor for this kid, calling his mother and making her cut short sanity time, it's all a blur. Within this blur, I was throwing things in the washer, which already had my running clothes in it, waiting for some laundry to join it for happy wash together time.

Fast forward 24 hours, during which life happens and I forget all about the origin of this load of laundry and absent-mindedly remove it from the dryer. I see a splotch on my (favorite! Trustworthy! Worn for both of my long races to date!) running pants. I scrape at it with my nail and it seems to be waxy. From whence this material, I wonder, but idly: With a 5 year old who wears pants with sometimes no fewer than 8 pockets running up and down the legs, I've learned that even with what seems like a through pocket check pre-wash, sometimes unidentifiable things end up in the dryer. I have made my peace with this. I scrape at it, shrug, and put it aside. Next item: MORE splotches, bigger this time. Scrape at them, too. Shrug, also place aside to deal with after going through it all. After 10 items with lots of splotches apiece, I sit down and start working on them for real.

So: Identify the substance.

Step one: Using sight! It looks like wax! There was a pair of wax lips recently acquired in my household and I assume that this is the culprit.

Step two: Touch. It feels waxy.

Step three: Smell it! It smells like nothing, with the sample I'm using. This supports the wax theory, I say to myself.

Step four: (WHICH I REGRET SO VERY MUCH) Taste it! I lick it. It doesn't taste like wax. It doesn't taste like much, right now.

Step five: Try to remove it by scraping it off. Get butter knife and scrape, scrape, scrape. On splotch four, it happens: Scrape, scrape, scrape STENCH. I flashback to the couch, the quarantine starring Dustin Hoffman, the TOWEL THAT WENT IN THIS LOAD. It takes me a few seconds, but not many, and then, there it is: I licked some other kids' vomit. Suddenly, that which tasted like nothing no longer tastes like nothing and, in fact, tastes like what it is. I had a festival of gargling with several different types of mouthwash (why do we have so many different kinds? I don't know.) and, when that doesn't kill it, go for a handful of mints.

By now, it's pickup time, so I head for the school to collect the boys and tell every adult I see, because I have no filter.

It's been 18 or so hours, and I'm still not sick, knock on particle board or whatever this IKEA desk is made out of. I also still haven't managed to get it off my running pants. What did that kid EAT? (The wax lips?)

So, the moral of the story is either don't do nice things OR don't lick objects to figure out what they are since you aren't 10 months old. I think it's the latter.

*This is the original source of "Time for some stories" (or, more accurately, "TIME FOR SOME STORIES") which I recommend you read immediately. It is so good, so good, you see.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Really Simple

So I don't think that anything in Real Simple has actually ever simplified my life. I think it more makes me go, "Ohhhh, I should find my countertops." And then I go read a book. I find a more simple approach to stain removal (rather than, say, taking their MacGyver approach to a carpet stain and using an old wine cork to daub it or whatever) is to simply vacuum less and thus a fine layer of dirt will cover the more obvious stains. ET VOILA.

Anyway, so I have been getting my groove back, if my groove is defined by running more often than once a week. I've even gone three days in a row, for which I credit the fact that I've been reading this book before bed every night (and being like, "Yes!" (pause) "Exactly!" about every 5 paragraphs.) AND all of my ladiez who ran the Bay State half marathon this weekend. Y'alls looked awesome in your mylar capes AND your times were all spectacular. I was especially impressed with one sub-2 hour mark lady whom I will not name (but you know who you are, Jess.) (Oops.) and just the all around joy flowing out of the Facebook updates and dailymile posts. Whoop!

Who knew, 6 months ago, that this would become the new normal to me? That instead of, "Ugh, 13.1 miles? Not in a car, preferably driven by someone else? You are all, ALL crazy." my reaction would be more along the lines of wishing we hadn't been out of town the weekend of the race so I could have run it, too. What now? (Also I'm a smidge jealous re: the finishers medals, since my half was practically dismantling the finish line when I crossed it. And ran out of food! Dammit, people, I earned that hot dog or banana or ANYTHING.) Alas. Lesson learned: Run for swag (or be faster to get a banana next year.)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Oh, hi!

Look! I've been neglecting my blog with the same enthusiasm that I've been neglecting my running! That's exciting. I like symmetry.

But! I believe that my running is ramping back up to on track. Observe:

1) I went for a run the past two days in a row. On purpose!

2) I've been talking to myself (common, non-alarming) about some big races. And when I say big I mean "all of your toenails will fall off." Or mine. Yours will only fall off if you do it.

3) I have some new goals, and they're speed-oriented. Worrying about speed (in fact, paying attention to it at all) is a whole new frontier for me. I don't think this will be as motivating as fear (ah, the fear of a huge distance race hanging over me, there is really nothing like it to get me out the door, 5 miles away, and back, and not driving one or both ways) but it's fun to have goals. I'm shooting for a sub-30 5K (I have gotten SO CLOSE, as in seconds, but haven't cracked it yet) and then to run my next scheduled official race (as of now, Dec 19th, but I may get talked into something sooner) at less than 29 minutes. Whoop?

There was probably a number 4, but I forget it. It is possible that I'll remember it later. Unlikely, but possible.

PS my parents took some pictures of the half. If they email them to me, I'll post them. HI GUYS! Public thank you for watching the two young physicians on Saturday! (Next time I'll bring tranq darts.)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Finished. Not dead. Score!

Gosh, have I seriously not yet written up my half marathon experience? Like, the culmination of all my training and transformation and the point of this whole blog, and which happened over a week ago? I guess I didn't. Here's the thing: I haven't really done much since I finished. I dragged myself into a ditch right after crossing the finish line and I just recently was found by a dog walker. I had no internet access in the ditch. Okay, not really. I actually remained mostly upright when I finished and went home and resumed normal life, minus the frantic running schedule.

So, the race: It's all a blur, like childbirth. I'm already at the stage where I'm like, That didn't hurt! Let's have another one! We wouldn't even have to send a race to college, so it's way more reasonable than an additional child.

But honestly, I met my goals, which were modest: Run the whole thing, do not die, and don't come in last. I really squeaked out that last one, and frankly that's no reflection on me and more of a reflection on the fact that some slower people also signed up for the race. I'm more proud of the fact that I managed to put on a burst of speed (well, "speed") and pass the 4 people in front of me during the last quarter mile.

I was slow, and this turtle most certainly beat zero hares, because unfortunately not one single pack leader took a nap during the race. My sister and I managed to run almost the whole race together, or at least in sight of each other. Starting around mile 7, she periodically walked and then ran faster and caught up, or ran ahead and then walked until I caught up. I suspect that this had something to do with the fact that I did not shut up for one single solitary second until she started run/ walking out of ear shot. I may have not shut up after that, either, but she'll never know. When you run out of ear shot of your chatterbox sister, does her commentary still make noise? (Yes.) At the end, I had to run ahead, because my legs could no longer do slowish pace comfortably and vaguely faster pace was my only other option, so vaguely faster it was.

My time was 2:43, which will impress you if you've never run a half, and probably make you snicker a little bit if you have. Haha, I am totally okay with this, though. Six months ago I couldn't even run a mile, and 8 days ago I ran, yes, RAN (well, "ran") 13.1! In conclusion: Booyah.

Next up, the Hyannis 10K in Feb. Who's in?