Monday, August 25, 2014

It Takes a Village

As the school year approaches, I've been thinking about how it's going to take a village to get through it. For the first time since Helen was born, my family will not have full-time, live-in childcare. It was time for a change, and with Helen and Connor both in full-day school (which ends at a shockingly late time - 3:45!) it seemed like full-time care just wasn't needed. (Yes, I already know that I will eat these words, and hire someone within a few weeks!)

The book 2 A.M. At the Cat's Pajamas highlights this theme. A nine year old's mother is dead before the book begins, and her father has sunk into depression. So the neighborhood ladies get her through the day chronicled in the book. Now, I'm grateful that I'm unlikely to need the kind of aid that these women provide throughout the day, but I may need occasional help picking a child or two up at school, caring for a child or two while I rush home from a meeting, or helping ferry Connor and Helen to school if Ed and I both have to be to work before school starts.

And then, of course, there's the after-school practices. Finally, Connor is at the age where it seems fine to drop Connor off if Helen needs me elsewhere (though a shocking number of parents sit through each practice and game). I'm happy to be there for other children on the team as well, while another parent runs an errand, takes a call, cooks dinner, or tends to something else. Most of the team has been playing together for at least three years at this point.

The book, though covering only a brief period, clips right along at a fast pace - which I'm sure the school year will do as well. Or at least I hope it does. I can't take another year like last year, which has truly left me numb towards school.


This post was inspired by 2 A.M. At The Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino, a novel about hope, love, and music in snow covered streets of Philadelphia. Join From Left to Write on August 28 we discuss 2 A.M. At The Cat’s Pajamas. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Parenting Fail

A few years ago, Connor accompanied me to sit in the Player's Wives' Suite of the Baltimore Orioles. Among the offerings in that suite were endless cookies.

A fan was born.

So now, we have the very embarrassing situation of sitting in sweet seats at the Nationals-Orioles game and one member of our group roots for the wrong team.

Helen has suggested we try and buy Connor off with some cookies at Nats' stadium. This seems like a battle that can't be won.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

When It All Began: Running

I think a lot about beginnings. How did a friendship start? Where was I when I made a decision? What did choosing one path over another mean?

Every year, I have a fitness goal for myself. In 2013 - that goal was to run 5 consecutive sub 10-minute miles. I accomplished the goal at a St. Patrick's Day 8K. Immediately following that race, I knew I was going to become a runner. I went to a local running store, tried on a ridiculous number of shoes, and walked away with these babies.

Since then, I've switched to a more minimalist style shoe (which I adore), but I rotate between wearing my old (very padded) kicks and my minimalist kicks, depending on how long I'm running, how recently I've run, and how fast I hope to run. These shoes are that old friend that sits in the closet with so many stories of how everything went right, that I smile whenever I see them.

But after more miles than I ever should've attempted to run on these shoes, I have to finally admit, they do more harm than good. The last 20 miles I have run on them have resulted in lower leg pain that affects my gait enough a friend thought I was seriously injured. The pain goes away quickly, and doesn't return until I try running with these shoes again.

They'll always hold some great memories for me - most of all, they will always be those shoes I wore when it all began. I'm going to miss them.


Monday, August 4, 2014


Helen started violin lessons a few weeks ago. As it turns out, learning the violin is a huge exercise in patience - for both the parent and the student. Helen's teacher uses a modified Suzuki approach. For practical purposes, this means Helen must have a "practice parent" and that parent must attend each lesson, take notes, and then work with Helen throughout the week. In our home, that duty falls to me. It's so outside Ed's skill set that we didn't even discuss it.

Of course, I don't actually know anything about the violin (except that I wish Helen was playing cello!), so it very much feels like a blind leading the blind sort of situation. I have been tempted to get a violin sized for me, because I figure if I'm tasked with teaching Helen, I might as well get the satisfaction of playing the instrument myself. But that's probably extremely bad form. This is Helen's instrument, not mine.

As everyone knows, the violin sounds just absolutely terrible when someone learns to play it. Well, at least that's what I am guessing. You see, four weeks in, Helen has still not been able to actually put bow to strings. It sort of feels like an endurance contest, to see how long Helen and I can last before she actually gets to play the thing. It's not clear whether this delay is actually to build all the skills needed to hold the bow and violin properly (as the teacher purports), or if the teacher is dreading those first few notes, and is delaying their playing as long as possible.

In any case, Helen has the tiniest violin ever, and it is super stinkin' cute. We were told last week, that this week, she might get to play a note.

We are both really excited for this big step!

When I took this photo at the instrument store, Helen was super embarrassed to be the kid with the mom with the camera. I think we can all be confident this will not be the last time she is embarrassed by me and my camera.

Stay tuned...I hope the violin does, too!