Thursday, April 30, 2009

Getting Back in Shape

My father has invested in an exercise machine called the ROM. While their price ($14k) might make you think ROM stands for “Ridiculously Overpriced Machine” it actually means “Range of Motion." The ROM claims to work your entire body in two 4-minute workouts. Now, if I hadn’t watched my father’s body slowly transform into the body he had 20 years ago, exclusively through the use of this machine, I’d be as skeptical as you are now.

My post-baby workout consisted of practicing yoga once or twice a week, occasional hikes with the dog, and that everyday stuff of toting around a 10 or 20 pound child while making 50 trips a day up and down the stairs in our house. I thought it was a pretty good workout. Until I was carrying 20 and 25 pound kids around, and regularly hurting my back doing it.

I decided to give the ROM a try. My dad’s house isn’t far from mine, so on my bi-weekly breaks I worked in a trip over there for a 4-minute workout. It’s hard to argue you just don’t have that kind of time in a day. You’re supposed to alternate between the upper body workout one day, which is like a rowing machine, and the lower body workout, which is like a stair-stepper, the next day. Since I was only working out twice a week, I worked up to doing both upper and lower body workouts every Tuesday and Thursday. This had the added benefit of making me feel too ill to eat for a good hour afterward, sort of a built-in diet.

I have to admit, even with this abbreviated version of the mini-workout, I’ve been very happy with the results. In just a few months I’d slimmed down while putting on muscle, most visibly in my upper arms and thighs. I can now haul my kids around without straining my back, and most of the post-pregnancy flab is gone. But most importantly, I'm the strongest I've ever been. As a little person who hates being seen as a weakling, it gives me immense satisfaction to be able to haul heavy things around without any help.

Every time I think of skipping my workout, I calculate exactly what I hope to accomplish in my 2-3 hour break, and have a hard time convincing myself I don't have 4-8 minutes to spare. And then I think of the roughhousing I'm able to do with my kids now that I'm strong enough not to hurt myself, and I find my car steering itself toward my dad's house.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Aging Gracefully

I’ve always been told that I look young for my age. Mostly, I hated this compliment, as it started when I was 7 and looked 4, and continued full force when I was 15 but looked 10, you know, those ages when the last thing you want is to look younger. In my late 20s I dated a man who was 11 years older, and having people look at us as if he were dating someone 20 years younger didn’t flatter me one bit, it just annoyed me, the judgment I felt as they looked us over.

But now that I’m in my mid (okay, almost late) 30s, I can see the flattery of the comment. I spend a lot of time at Starbucks. Not because I think they make the best coffee (for that, try Nefeli Café in Berkeley), but because it’s close to my house (a few blocks away—so that I get to maximize my short kid-free outings, not wasting any of it on travel time to a more exotic location), I get free Internet there, and for some reason I’m able to tune out the bustle of customers and hum of blenders to focus on writing, unlike at home where I’m constantly distracted by kids, a dog needing his nails trimmed, the mail piling up on the kitchen counter.

But one thing (sometimes good, sometimes bad) about being out in public, even totally focused on a laptop, is people will come up and talk to you. I’m shy by nature, so having people approach me is probably the only way I’ll ever interact with anyone new, so I’m not complaining. Much. Occasionally, it’ll be an annoying person who keeps talking even after I’ve told them I’m working on a deadline and need to focus. But sometimes, like yesterday, it’ll be a sweet older lady who wants to know if I’m here in the café doing my homework, and what subject I’m studying. Since I graduated from college 16 years ago, this feels like a terrific compliment. Because I know I only got 5 hours of sleep last night (the toddler is having nightmares about bugs in her bed) and think I look like hell with my dark circles under my eyes, I feel even more flattered. This is the third time I’ve had an elderly person approach me at a Starbucks and assume I’m a college student. True, they were all so much older that they probably don’t have the eyesight they used to, but I’ll take the compliment anyway.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Picky Eaters

I was a picky eater as a child, and I remember my worried mother chatting with the pediatrician about it, concerned that I’d need an IV if I didn’t start eating actual meals soon. The doctor reassured her that I was within normal limits, and tried to convince her that picky eaters tend to be healthier eaters, more tuned in to their body’s cravings for protein, or specific vitamins and minerals. He said if I only wanted to eat bananas one day then I probably needed potassium, if I only wanted cheese the next day, it was protein or calcium, just oranges, probably vitamin C.

I try to remember this explanation when my daughters survive an entire day on milk and apples, or only want cucumber and graham crackers for dinner. They’ve inherited my finicky palate, and I hope that they are getting the nutrients they need. I’d feel less anxious about it if the pediatrician hadn’t made me bring both of them in monthly for weight checks.

My youngest daughter grew three inches in three months, and only gained 1.5 ounces in that time. She was never a fat baby, never had a single roll or ounce of chub anywhere, but as she slipped from svelte to scrawny, it became obvious that she needed a boost in the weight department. I tried everything to put weight on her, breaking every rule I’d made about not giving her junk food, only to find that she refused to eat any of it. French fries, cookies, milk shakes, potato chips all sat ignored before her. Once, I’d made a batch of brownies and she was all excited to try one, until I picked her up to show them to her and she spotted the bowl of fruit behind them. “Apple!” she yelled. “No, brownie!” I told her. “NO!” she screamed, starting to cry, “apple!” So, she had an apple, and was still underweight at the next appointment.

I dug around on the internet, but had a hard time finding information on how to fatten up a kid. I started browsing pages on childhood obesity, choosing items from the “what to avoid” page, but she wasn’t interested in any of them.

After trying everything else under the sun, and just as we were beginning the same monthly weight checks with my now-skinny second daughter, I realized that they both liked Carnation Instant Breakfast and smoothies. So, every morning they have Carnation Instant Breakfast, and most afternoons I make a smoothie (with frozen mango, fresh banana, vanilla soy milk, protein powder, yogurt, and a splash of juice to make it blendable). This combination seems to be working now. Our 4-year-old, now 42 inches tall, has finally hit the 30 pound mark, and her 2-year-old sister, who has not eaten a bite of dinner in a good three months, is holding steady, too. If only my mother had known when I was young. I bet I would've succumbed to four or five smoothies a week, maybe even gained a few ounces, and given her much peace of mind.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Terrible Twos

As the mother of a child in the thick of the terrible twos, I have lots of chances to test and revise my strategy for dealing with her mood swings. The main thing that strikes me, this second time around, is how little emotional impact her tantrums have on me. With my first daughter, watching her thrash around on the floor in a fit of angst made me feel as emotionally unstable as she seemed. I felt somehow responsible for her emotional state, like if I couldn’t help her come back to herself, I was somehow failing both of us.

This time, I know it’s just one of those phases we’ll both survive, and that each day spent in it brings us a day closer to being through this particularly un-fun aspect of growing up. When I see the tantrum brewing I simply walk away, keeping my mood light and fun, and go busy myself doing something that I act terribly enthusiastic about. Most of the time, this alone will bring her from the verge of a meltdown. She really is a happy child at heart, and would always rather play together than suffer an outburst alone.

When she does go over the edge into that melodramatic place, I don’t feel pulled down with her. Instead, I’m able to feel sympathetic that she’s going through this, and grateful that these are the last terrible twos I’ll be dealing with. I can offer hugs, snacks, a stuffed animal to take out her anger on, or the occasional time out when she tries to hit or bite me or her sister, and never take any of it personally.

Second children really do have it so much better than first kids. As my step-sister-in-law once said, “First children get all of our fears.” It’s true, we’re so worried that first time around about screwing our kids up for life, or that we’re failing miserably at this whole motherhood game. They react, we overreact, they react to our overreaction. Second (and all subsequent, I imagine) kids get a different kind of mother. One who is grounded, less flustered, and not so hard on herself.

Hopefully, I can take some of these second-child lessons and still apply them to my first born. I’d like for her to look back and remember a playful, relaxed, fun mommy who always knew how to calm her down, and forget that stressed-out lady who used to take those typical two-year-old emotional meltdowns far too seriously.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Stress-free Shopping

There are several reasons that I began to hate grocery shopping: not being able to securely fasten two children down in a shopping cart, all of those whiny requests (and promises to eat) food in brightly colored containers (none of which my children—the two pickiest eaters I’ve ever met—actually ate), the innate ability children have for pulling out the tantrum card when they sense their mother is easily publicly humiliated or in a big hurry. I also got tired of my daughter announcing to the grocery clerk what color underwear I was wearing that day (a fascination stemming from her flirtation with potty training, so while I was glad to have her covet the notion of wearing panties, I didn’t need the old guy scanning our groceries to know that I had hearts on my underwear that day).

Now that I have regular breaks from the munchkins, I save my grocery shopping for those days. What used to take a good hour, with carseats to undo and redo, cranky children to negotiate with, my inability to effectively menu plan while entertaining kids with Wiggles songs, now takes all of fifteen minutes. I sort my shopping list so that items begin on the left side of the store and end on the right. I know which clerks are fastest for ringing up my purchases, and where the best parking spots are for a quick exit from the parking lot. In short, I’m able to function in the highly organized manner that I did before having children. It isn’t much, a formerly epic shopping trip transformed into a brief, painless outing, but it’s something. A precious reminder that while having children has forever changed my life, somewhere in there the old me still exists, too.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Dog's Life

I think every house with small children should have a family dog. Not just because of the romantic notions left over from years of watching Lassie, about kids bonding so well with pets or being protected by them, although there’s that, too. Mostly, it’s the clean-up crew that dogs provide that I don’t think I could live without.

We got our dog a year before having our first child. He was our test-run on parenting, and I think we did pretty well with him. He was easy to crate train and never showed any anxiety because of the training. He quickly learned that any food for him would be in his bowl, and no food outside his dog dish was up for grabs. He has never growled or snapped at anyone. He sits obediently outside the room while we cook and eat dinner, waiting to be invited in when we are finished.

When our first daughter came home from the hospital, the dog was curious but never jealous, and readily accepted her as part of the family pack. When she became a toddler, leaving trails of cheerios throughout the house, and a vast array of food around her high chair after each feeding (which it was his job to clean up), she became his favorite person on the planet. Sure, it undid some of that careful training, and now when he finds a half-eaten bagel on the coffee table, he’ll glance at me as if to ask “May I?” where before he never would’ve considered it. And we had to spend a good chunk of time training the kids not to feed him all the food they’d rejected (and my kids reject a lot of food), but now we’ve got a nice balance going.

If it weren’t for the dog, I’d spend an awful lot of time on my hands and knees, mopping up spills or collecting bits of food that were too sticky for the vacuum. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched him carefully devour every stray grain of rice from inside a high chair, or meticulously clean spilled milk from the floor, and been grateful that I had a little help keeping up with these expert mess-makers.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Veggie Lovers

I’ve been a vegetarian for over 20 years now. It’s a lifestyle choice that agrees with me across the spectrum: for health reasons, environmental ones, and political ones. I came to this decision on my own when I was fourteen, when I finally realized that consuming meat always made me feel ill, and that when I stopped consuming it, I stopped hating meal times so much. I’m the only vegetarian in my family. I don’t pressure anyone around me to convert, and never tell people unless I find myself in a situation where they need to know (say, as they’re trying to heap a large slab of cow onto my plate).

When I was pregnant, the question came up over and over: will you raise your children to be vegetarian? I was in charge of cooking dinner at home, and my husband, who jokes he is a “reformed” vegetarian (I prefer to think of them as college vegetarians—those who do it for a few years, usually the college years, then let it go), was fine eating vegetarian food at home. He eats meat when he’s on business trips, and he takes a lot of business trips, so he feels the vegetarian diet at home balances out the rich meals he eats on the road.

I tried my best to introduce my girls to meat. Really. I hid my faint repulsion at the aroma of pureed dead animal behind a plastered smile and cheery voice when they were babies. I buy them hot dogs and McNuggets and pre-cooked chickens for dinner. But neither of them wants anything to do with meat. In fact, the only things I can get either of them to eat consistently are fruits and vegetables. There isn’t a single fruit or veggie they’d refuse. My first daughter once picked apart my mother’s sandwich, rejecting the lunch meat being offered in favor of the raw onions hidden inside. She ate every onion in there, crunching away with her one-year-old teeth. My mother said it was no surprise, since I’d had a vegetarian pregnancy, they’d never developed a “taste” for meat. (I was shocked, because I’ve never developed a taste for raw onions, but that’s another issue entirely.)

Our daughters don’t know that I’m a vegetarian. Our oldest is so fixated on all things “mommy” that I have no doubt she’d reject meat on principle if she found out I don’t eat it. It’s not that I’d mind if she were a vegetarian, but I’m obsessed with the notion of raising self-assured independent women, and I want her to make her own choices for her own reasons, not mine.

Last night my husband made himself a chicken breast (he’s been home for a whole week now, so must be missing meat), and we managed to get one daughter to eat two bites of it, and the other to eat one bite of it. All in all, a success by our low standards. I suppose it's possible that whatever predisposition against meat I've always had is genetic, and my girls have it, too. But until they're old enough to announce that to me at the dinner table, in the same way I once did to my mother, I'll keep trying to introduce them to it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

School Pictures

It’s school picture time, which means I now have an envelope full of assorted-sized photos of my daughter, and need to decide which family members will want which size, if any, to remember this 4-year-old version of her. She goes to the same preschool as last year, and they used the same photographer, which means the background and lighting are identical to the 3-year-old version of her already gracing their walls and bookshelves. The only notable differences this year are a slightly less babyish face, and that her pruny thumb (freshly tugged from her mouth) isn’t in the photo this time.

The class picture is another story. 30 smiling children appear to be sitting obediently for this precious moment to be captured. The photographer did a great job. I know, because I was there, and watched the teachers scrambling to assemble the herd of 4-year-olds into neat rows. How the photographer managed to get even one good photo of them, everyone’s eyes open, smiles on every face, no pushing or shoving caught on film, is amazing. My daughter may be beaming the brightest in the picture, a drastic shift from her tearful disposition moments before. Something about the camera and lights frightened her, and she wanted nothing to do with this picture business. I just about had her convinced that it would be fine, when her preschool teacher looked at her and asked, “Would you feel better if your mom was in the picture with us?” Was there any chance she’d say no?

So it’s a nice picture, of those 30 grinning kids, their 3 dedicated, patient teachers, and me, holding my oldest daughter, with my youngest one (who doesn’t even attend this school) at my hip. I fielded several questions from classmates of hers, wanting to know why their mommy wasn’t going to be in the picture, too. I never did come up with a good answer. My two-year-old couldn’t be more proud. In the picture with big sister’s class! She shows the photo to every visitor, “Do you see me? I’m right there!”

So now I’ll slide my daughter’s 3-year-old photo out of its frame, replace it with the 4-year-old one, until the 5-year-old version comes along, this annual emblem of time marching slowly forward. But I’ll keep this class picture in a safe place, so that when my oldest is a turbulent teen and claims that I don’t understand her and have never cared about her, I can pull it out and remind her that at one time, all I had to do was stand next to her to make everything better.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Shortly after my second daughter was born, I remember sending a text message to my sister to say, “I’m headed to Costco. Without kids!” She wrote back: “If a trip to Costco feels like a vacation, you need a little more kid-free time.” And she was right.

What I thought with my first child is that a good mother, especially one who recently quit a perfectly good job to stay home and raise that child, shouldn’t need help doing her new “job.” After all, I never needed help doing my old job. Never mind that my job as an editor came with clear-cut duties, regular praise for a job well-done, and Cal/OSHA-guaranteed breaks. And no screaming baby spitting up all over my shoulder as I tried to complete my daily task list.

With a husband on the road a lot for his new job, and my determination to be the perfect mom, I quickly wore down in my new position as stay-at-home mom. It wasn’t just that I had too much pride to ask for help (although that’s probably true, too), but I didn’t have many people to ask.

By the time my second child was born, I had learned a little more about the value of a sane, rested mother. About that time, my mother retired, and my father and step-mother had some time slots open up in their hectic schedules. Now, when my husband is gone on a long business trip, I usually hit my mother up to visit for a few days to help out. And every Tuesday and Thursday morning my dad and step-mom watch the girls for a couple of hours so I can have some alone time. If only I’d known that first time around what a necessary luxury this kid-free time is. Well, that’s all I have time to write today. My Tuesday break is almost over, and I’m off to Costco. Kid-free.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Heat Wave

Today is the second day with temperatures in the mid 80s, so I broke down and blew up the kiddie pool. Then watched it quickly deflate before my eyes. Through some miracle I dug through one of our many miscellaneous item drawers and found a patch that looked like it might belong to a blow-up pool. Actually, it looked like a small square of clear tape on a backing, but it had some official writing on it that convinced me it would work better than actual tape. Before finding the patch, I was ready to break out the super glue. My husband was lobbying for duct tape, the MacGyver universal solution to every problem.

I patched the holes I could find, inflated the pool again, and watched it deflate again. But slower this time. After several rounds of this, hindered by the two-year old who kept dive-bombing into the empty pool (probably creating new holes as I patched the old ones), I decided it was deflating slowly enough to give my girls the half hour of water time that they wanted. Well, they want a never-ending stream of water time, blue lips and goose-bumped quaking limbs notwithstanding, but I'm only good for about a half hour of water-fight supervision.

In all it took about 40 minutes for the pool's fun quotient to leak all over the ground, slowly traveling over to the rose bushes (a second bonus! A drip watering system). Then, instead of the tantrum I get when pulling frigid kids from a full pool, I had bored wet children ready to head inside for lunch. What better way to finally get them out of the pool than to have it deflate under them, losing all of its water and its appeal? A perfect solution, really. I'm thinking of patenting the idea.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Dirty Cat

At the height of our menagerie, we had three cats and one dog. Even in a 2000+ square foot house, it was crowded. Once we threw two kids into the mix, well, let’s just say that sad as I was to lose one of the cats to cancer, it was nice to be down to only two litter boxes to police. Two months ago we had to put down another beloved cat. That loss was harder, since our kids were older and the 4-year-old was very bonded with her. It turned out to be a nice lesson in life and death for her, and a nice lesson in children’s pragmatism for me. When I finally broke her the tearful news that our sweet Alley was too sick and had died, she pondered this briefly, then said, “But we still have the dirty cat?” (her affectionate nickname for our cat Fish). “Yes,” I assured her. She nodded, “Okay. Can I have a snack?”

So we’re now down to one cat and one dog. The dog is a vizsla, which, if any of you are familiar with the breed, means that at five years old he only sometimes seems like he’s going to burst out of his skin from the sheer excitement of living. The remaining cat is now fifteen and remarkably spry and healthy. He has one flaw that makes him hard to live with, and that earned him that very sweet nickname “dirty cat.” He poops. Everywhere. This began in rebellion a few weeks after our first child was born. He eventually broke the habit, and went back to using the litter box when she was a few months old. Then a year later we had a second child, and he’s never gone back.

We’ve tried a variety of anti-anxiety meds that made him jittery, snoozy, and spacey, but none of them did a thing to curb the poop-everywhere habit. I looked into cat diapers, but decided that having two kids plus one cat in diapers would be more bottom-wiping than I could handle. At some point I resorted to covering the living room floor with newspapers, which he seemed to enjoy, then reduced the amount of newspaper gradually. Now the only newspaper is next to the litter box. Usually, he poops on the paper, folds it carefully over on itself, pees in the litter box, and crawls back inside the couch to snooze his day away. Usually.

I'm in no rush to get rid of the dirty cat, trying as he is. We've been together for 15 years now, which makes this the longest non-family relationship I've had. But on that sad day when he leaves this world, I plan to pack up the litter boxes for a while, and enjoy living in a one-pet household.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


One thing that has surprised me about having two daughters is that they are such girls: prone to bouts of giggling, obsessed with fairies, insistent about wearing dresses whenever possible, fond of role-playing where one gets to be the princess and the other is prince charming. I wouldn't call myself a particularly girly girl. I don't wear make-up, the most I do to style my hair is use conditioner and a comb. I've had two manicures in my life, and no pedicures. I'm a jeans and t-shirt mom, unless it's summer, when I'm a shorts and t-shirt type.

Last summer, inspired by all of that sparkling purple and pink energy in my house, I broke down and bought a few skirts. The girls loved it, seeing my feminine side. "You look like a princess!" they announced whenever I threw on one of the skirts. And I liked them, too. They were good for the hot weather. If only the shoes that went with them were more comfortable, or the practical shoes I prefer went with skirts. Plantar fasciitis cares nothing about fashion.

For Easter I got the girls headbands with felt flower petals all around. They're adorable in them, these little flower girls, and have been wearing them since Easter. But I failed to notice that the petals were covered in glitter. So now the little princesses leave a trail of sparkles everywhere they go, and I've spent so much time wiping glitter off their faces, afraid it'll get into their eyes, that I'm wondering what the statute of limitations is on a new gift before it can "disappear" into the box of annoying toys I keep hidden in the closet.

A while back I looked at my husband across the dinner table, dutifully wearing the sparkly headband the girls had offered him (matching the ones they wore), and said, "I'm sorry you'll never have a son." After all, we've both agreed that two kids is our limit (we don't want to be outnumbered). He laughed and said it was fine. "Yeah, but you must get a little tired of showing up at work every day covered in glitter," I said. He looked down at his shirt, brushed off the sparkly dust that had fallen from the headband, and shrugged. "Not really." I guess we've both learned to embrace the princess influence.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The New Breed

My mother was a stay-at-home mom. The kind who married, already dreaming of the kids she'd have one day, and held a job just to fill the days until her real dream, her real career (motherhood) finally came to fruition. I'm also a stay-at-home mom, but of the new breed. The kind with degrees hanging on the wall (a bachelor's, a master's), a decade and a half of career behind me (polished, impressive resume carefully gathering dust in some drawer now), too much of a control freak to trust anyone else with the precious task of raising my children, with a full intention of returning to my career when the kids are in elementary school. I'm in a play group with ten other moms just like me. We are lawyers, teachers, graphic designers, realtors, all coping with that awkward transition from hectic working life to chaotic home life with a child.

Our first-born babies are all toddlers now, many are starting preschool, and some of us are wondering about that transition back into the working world. When is the right time? After we've had all the children we want, and the youngest is in kindergarten? Several of us are keeping our skills up by working on a freelance basis from home (squeezing in hours of work while kids nap, or relying on Uncle Pixar to occupy them for a brief stretch so we can get some work done). It seemed like a great plan: keep those skills current, have something to put on the resume during these years away from the full-time working world, and gather some references for when we return to work. Then the economy tanked, and the seamless plan went down with it.

Now I wonder if I've already waited too long. I quit my job four years ago, and my youngest will be starting preschool in the fall (as long as we can still afford it come September). My dream of finding a part-time job, in my field, once she starts school doesn't seem as simple as it once did, with all the news stories about hundreds of people turning out for a few job openings selling hot dogs at the ballpark.

Not that I've been out there beating the pavement in search of my dream part-time job. After all, I'm busy changing diapers, doing the potty training battle, trying to convince cranky children that they really do need to nap, cooking meals that never get eaten, cleaning up endless heaps of toys and spills, and doing my weight in laundry every other day. Oh, and cuddling with my sweet girls, soaking up every minute of affection they have to offer. I'm a realist, after all. I know that having two girls only a year and a half apart in age means those teen years will be rough ones. They adore me right now, and I want my fill of that to carry me through. Which is another reason I haven't been out there desperately searching for employment. How can I give this up? The mere thought of my 2-year-old starting preschool makes me weepy for when she was a one-year-old and school seemed forever away.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I'm the new aunt of a 2 week old baby. Sharing this experience with my sister has meant trotting out all of my old experiences with nursing, swaddling, pumping, preferred diaper rash creams, and foods that can cause gas in a nursing baby. Digging through my memory banks for these morsels of wisdom has done two things for me.

First, it's made me realize that my babies are no longer babies, in that terribly nostalgic way. As I watch my niece jut out her lower lip in preparation for a full-body cry, I remember that exact expression on my first daughter's face. As she fights heavy eyelids in the swing, I recall how my second daughter loved the swing so much that she napped in it for the first eight months of her life (second-time moms have none of the shame of first time ones, we do what we have to for peace and quiet).

Secondly, I'm oh-so-grateful that those zombie days and sleepless nights, bouts of inexplicable tears and swings between fatigue and manic elation are behind me. I remember several moments, running on a few hours sleep, gazing down at a fussing infant in my arms, at a loss for how to soothe whatever mystery problem was tormenting her, and thinking how ironic that a mother of a newborn is the least equipped person on the planet to be entrusted with the care of such a fragile new person.

Spring break

We're enjoying a few days away from the mayhem at home. Well, we've brought our mayhem with us, but we're enjoying spreading it all over my mother's house for a few days instead. With my daughter on spring break from school, and hubby away for the week on business, it was going to be a long week of trying to keep us all busy and sane. Much better to come visit Mom, who actually finds it charming when the girls trash her house, and whose method of quieting the whining dog in the night is to tuck him into bed with her (at home we have banished the dog from our bedroom, so he's really getting spoiled now).