Last night was my last Intermediate Swimming class. I love that I can tell a difference in my abilities from when the class started two months ago. I can swim a length of freestyle without having to stop midway through, and can regulate my breathing without getting winded. I can do a flip turn (yay!) and a “elbow someone/do your hair” breaststroke turn. I can do freestyle, breaststroke, elementary backstroke, regular backstroke, and sidestroke. I can dive (yay!) off the starting block (double yay!).
Now just to keep practicing and getting better, both in technique and just overall being in shape. My challenge right now is to start getting in a regular schedule of workouts. You’d think it would be easy since the kids are in school every day, but it’s not, at least for me. Those handful of hours when Henry and Eleanor are in school are the only time I get to run errands by myself, or answer emails without getting interrupted, or do any number of things that go much quicker when I can do them in solitude. Taking an hour or so to head to the Y cuts into that already-limited time. I struggle with the balance of taking care of the household and taking care of myself. But if I’m going to do the half-marathon next spring, I’ve got to start making a schedule and sticking to it. This week I’ve managed to ride the recumbent bike here at home one night, and have been swimming twice. It’s a start, right?
And can I count chopping off my hair as losing some weight this week? My hair is so thick—a good problem to have, I know—but I was discovering that swimming + my hair = I was starting to feel like my hair was never ever dry. When it’s longer, it can take seven or eight hours to air-dry after swimming or showering. So at my hair appointment last week I gave the okay to chop it.
It’s amazing how five or six less inches makes me feel at least twenty pounds lighter. But, as I’ve warned Andy, you are NOT allowed to call it Mom Hair. It’s my Swimming & Training For The Mini Hair. Got it?
Henry and Eleanor play with Legos
ELEANOR: (rummages in bin) And Henry! THIS one is called the Big Lego Bin of Deepness, because it’s biggest and stuff.
at supper table, talking about what we saw at the Jingle Rail exhibit
JENNIFER: …and there was Old Faithful, and the Golden Gate Bridge, and Mount Rushmore.
ANDY: Do you know who’s on Mount Rushmore?
HENRY: Phineas and Ferb.
kids play outside, Jennifer works inside
JENNIFER: (opens door)
HENRY: We’re playing Power Rangers, so can we call you Zordon?
JENNIFER: Um, sure?
watching TV, “every kiss begins with Kay” jingle plays
HENRY: (singing) Every poop begins with me…
Henry and Eleanor are finally at a good age to play games, and they do so daily at kindergarten. Every day at school there’s a game or two at the activity tables, which has been an excellent way to scope out what the kids like and would be good to play at home. Best of all, I don’t have to let them win! All of the following games we either already own or they’re on our Christmas list. Without further ado:
I Never Forget A Face Memory Game (shown above): beautiful illustrations make this more interesting (and challenging, at least for me, who apparently DOES forget faces) than other memory games.
UNO: You know the drill on this one, since you probably grew up playing it, too. My kids get waaay too delighted over making Mom draw four.
Dizios: I had never heard of this game until I saw it at school, but Eleanor consistently says it’s her favorite. Great for kids who have a knack for patterns or have good spatial awareness. Kinda like dominos, but instead of dots you have to match up the swirly patterns. Surprisingly difficult sometimes! Right now we play without scoring, but we’ll be able to add in that aspect later, ensuring we’ll get several years out of this game.
Spot It: The runaway favorite at school, Henry’s favorite (and mine!) too. There’s several different ways you can play this, although so far we’ve only played one way. Games go quickly, and it’s small enough to be very portable. Don’t tell my kids, but Santa’s already purchased this for under the tree.
Blink: This game’s been out a lot at school, but I haven’t had the chance to play it yet. Henry and Eleanor give it a thumbs-up, though, and I like that the games go quickly, so it’s on the list for Santa.
Ruckus: Another game the kids love that I haven’t had a chance to play, so let’s hear from Eleanor instead: “It’s fun to make the matches.” Good enough for me, it’s also on our Santa list.
Left Right Center: Andy and I received this for Christmas a few years ago, but never played it since it called for a minimum of three players. I got it out on a whim a few weeks ago and it immediately became a family favorite. Good practice on remembering left and right, and the games go quickly enough that we like to play a few rounds as a treat before bedtime.
So now you know what Henry and Eleanor are getting for Christmas. Shhhh…don’t tell them, okay?
photos either by me or from Amazon
links are our school’s affiliate
Despite the fact that I blab about my life here on this blog, I’m not really a “let’s share our feelings” sort of person. So I was just as surprised as you are when, after we lost Sam and Emilie, my greatest source of comfort was our infant loss support group.
We attended regularly for a couple years, and attended a “subsequent pregnancy” group when we were pregnant with Henry and Eleanor. These groups were invaluable to us. It was the one place where people got it, where you could crack a morbid joke or admit your bitterness over others’ pregnancies and people would nod in understanding.
We attend only the rare meeting now, but one we don’t miss is every December, when they hold a candlelight ceremony to remember the children and pregnancies we’ve lost. I look forward to it; it allows us a moment during a busy time of year to reflect on our family and how it came to be. It also gives us a chance to reconnect with others who attended the group the same years we did, the people who knew us as “Sam and Emilie’s parents” when the rest of the world wouldn’t (and still don’t) acknowledge it.
This is the first year that Henry and Eleanor took part in the ceremony, the first year they weren’t too young to understand what was going on. We had explained things as best we could, that they had to stay quiet and be respectful, that they’d see some people (including Mom and Dad) be sad, and that was okay. And they could feel sad or not sad, and that was okay, too. And to my great relief, they did wonderfully.
I was actually a little surprised at how seriously they took the ceremony, and how important it seemed to them. Eleanor was quick to dart up to fetch Kleenexes at the first sight of a tear; I had a fistful by the end. She even teared up a little herself during one or two of the songs, although she’d never admit it (“I’m not crying, Mom, my eyes are just randomly watering.”). Henry looked solemn and listened intently to everyone’s stories. At one point, Eleanor whisper-asked me what day was Sam and Emilie’s birthday and how old they’d be in heaven, then mentioned we should get the candles back out for their birthday next year to celebrate.
When it came time to light the candles, the girls lit one for Emilie and the boys did one for Sam. Eleanor took her job very seriously. She scoped out the candle she wanted, and insisted on saying Emilie’s name as we lit the candle. Henry picked out his candle, too, and both kids held them all the way home, where they insisted on lighting them again. Granted, Henry then wanted to carry his around the house like he was exploring, but overall, I think they understood the specialness of tonight.
I struggle with how much to incorporate Sam and Emilie into our daily lives. I think about them every day, but don’t want Henry and Eleanor to grow up with the spectre of a dead brother and sister always hanging over their heads. But the fact of the matter is that there will always be visits to the cemetery, and candlelight ceremonies, and mentions of people who are in our family but aren’t here with us. It’s a tricky balance to acknowledge the reality of our family but do so in an age-appropriate way. So Andy and I just do our best, answering questions honestly when they’re asked, and talking about Sam and Emilie when we feel it’s relevant. We’re basically making up the rules as we go along, I mean, who can ever expect and fully prepare for their family to be a blend of living and non-living children? Hopefully tonight proved that we’re on the right track.
We joined the whole elf-on-the-shelf brouhaha last year, and Henry and Eleanor loved it. They had fun searching for the elf every morning, and randomly named him Ted.
They’ve been asking if Ted was coming back this year. Yesterday Andy told them that they could ask the Christmas tree, that Santa could hear them through the most Christmas thing in the house. I wish you could have seen them standing two inches from the tree, asking Santa if Ted could come back.
And voila! Ted made his triumphant return this morning, bringing a treat for breakfast with him.
I love this age, where they’re so smart about so many things, but also so quick to believe. Eleanor’s asking more questions this year (“is Ted just a toy?”) but still trusts our answers or makes them up herself (“he looks like a toy but changes into a real elf after we’re asleep”). I know we don’t have many years of this left. At some point the questions will overtake the faith in the answers. So for right now we’re trying to soak it up as much as we can. Because two five-year-olds’ excitement over elves who deliver Pop-Tarts? Pretty magical.
So I guess I have this new habit of signing up for races and then not training for them. First it was Wine at the Line, and on Thanksgiving morning Andy and I did the Drumstick Dash.
We woke up early and headed to Broad Ripple for a 4.6-mile run/walk, something that does not sound fun when you’re anticipating a day of mashed potatoes and stuffing and fat pants.
In car, on way to race
ANDY: I’m glad we could do this, this is a fun thing to be able to do together.
JENNIFER: “…even though you’ve been bitching about it all morning.” That’s the second part of your sentence, right?
ANDY: Well, yeah.
True love, people. TRUE. LOVE.
Actually, Andy was right, it WAS a fun thing to do together. We got there early enough where we had time to hang out with each other and do some pre-race stuff, like eat bananas and browse sponsor booths and take pictures with turkeys.
The race went well for both of us. Andy ran, I walked. I left my phone at the gear check-in, so no pictures, but Andy and I were nice enough to re-enact it for you.
We both did pretty well, for two people that had Achilles problems (Andy) and didn’t train (me).
I even ran little bits here and there, like the last quarter-mile. I was proud that, compared to my first race, I went over a mile further AND knocked 24 seconds off my pace. Go me!
The “being sore for two or three days afterwards” part wasn’t fun, but we had a good enough time that Andy somehow convinced me to sign up today for next May’s Mini half-marathon. 13.1 miles…I’ll probably have to train for THAT one, won’t I? At least I’ll have Friday blog fodder for the next five months or so.
I know NaBloPoMo isn’t officially over until tomorrow, but tomorrow’s a Fat to Fit Friday post, so I’m celebrating tonight. Yay! I did it even thought most of them were filler posts!
And now I’m off to do a victory lap. And by victory lap, I mean head to bed with my Nook and try to actually get to sleep before midnight. There might even be Snuggies involved. We’re living large over here, people.
Now that I have the Reading Rainbow theme stuck in your head, let’s talk about books, shall we?
Or rather, the fact that I don’t read nearly as many of them as I would like to. Or used to.
I trace it all back to when we lost Sam and Emilie. I wasn’t expecting there to be physical aspects of grief, and thought I was going crazy when I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I didn’t read anything longer than a magazine article for well over a year afterwards.
I kept expecting my concentration to come back, but it never really has. For a number of reasons, I suppose. The physical, mental, and emotional stress of fertility treatments. A stressful and scary twin pregnancy. Newborn twins. Having to be “on” 24/7 as a stay-at-home-mom, and never feeling like I can shut it off and ignore all the work to be done around the house.
I read this post by Snickollet earlier this month and it’s stuck with me. There’s a lot I could relate to, the concentration issues, missing an activity I love and wanting to encourage it in my kids.
If you’d ask me to list my interests and hobbies, “reading” would be near the top of the list. Yet until this week I hadn’t read a book since the last week of August. I’ve read maybe five or six books this year, all but one read during our week at the lake and my two trips to Carterville this summer. This makes me kinda sad.
This blog seems to be turning into Things I Need to Do Better, isn’t it? (See also: get in shape, print out photos.) But I’ve mentioned before my struggle to take time out and time for myself, and reading for pleasure is encompassed in that.
So I’m trying to work on it. I bought a Nook as a great Black Friday deal and have spent time this week placing various e-books on hold at the library. I joined GoodReads and browsed book reviews. I even downloaded and read a book! The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which had been on my “must read” list for over a year.
As Henry and Eleanor are learning to read, I want them to see me reading and enjoying a love of books. Hopefully I’m on the way back.
Read anything good lately? Hit me up with some recommendations!
I didn’t post much of substance last week, was too busy with Thanksgiving prep and celebrating. So why don’t I go back and tell you what I did?
Thanksgiving prep was a couple days of cleaning, which is boring to tell you about. I scrubbed my kitchen floor on my hands and knees! I think I just won a blogging award for that story!
My parents and aunt and uncle came to Indy for the holiday, which was great. Having them around bumped me down to “kid” level, which means my contribution to the Thanksgiving meal was a veggie tray. Score!
The long weekend was packed and went by quickly. Thanksgiving morning Andy and I did the Drumstick Dash (more on that Friday). That afternoon, the whole family ate ourselves silly at my cousin’s house. I wasn’t going to do much shopping, but somehow found myself at Target late Thursday night, and out at Macy’s and Kohl’s and the mall for most of the day Friday. On Friday night Andy and I took advantage of free babysitting and snuck out for dinner and a movie. Saturday entailed one last round of shopping while Andy and my dad worked on stuff around the house. So in a nutshell, Thanksgiving = eat + shop.
Also in a nutshell, Thanksgiving = I didn’t really need to be there, when my kids and my parents are together they don’t need anyone else. I love the Constant Admiration Society the four of them have formed. As my parents packed up to leave, it dawned on me that we took zero pictures of their entire visit. I think that’s a first for my family. I quickly moved a stool out into my garage, threw a black sheet at Andy and instructed him to “go stand back there and hold this up,” and snapped a few photos before my parents left. So no action shots of Thanksgiving, but that’s okay, it’s the people we celebrated with that are important. And these four are really important to me.