Monday, February 28, 2011

Missing the Middle

If you work in an office, I bet this morning a co-worker has already asked you some variant of "So, how was your weekend?"

(If, like me, you work from home and your only interactions are with tiny people and household pets, perhaps you have had this same conversation with the cat.)

Today I don't have a clue how to answer it. I feel like we had about seven different weekends this weekend, and not in the "it was so long and relaxing and awesome that it feels like it just went on forever!" way, but in the "wait, how the heck did all those highs and lows get crammed into two days?" way.

Saturday morning, I was on a mountain. (Um, in mountain pose, at least. Saturday mornings come with an early morning yoga boot camp class these days.) Saturday night? I was spending some quality time in a ditch. (Nope, there's no cute little "just kidding, it wasn't a literal ditch!" note to add here. It. Was. A. Ditch. The highway glazed over with ice awfully fast, and we did an impressive little spin into a snowy ditch. K, for what it's worth, was a total trooper about the whole ordeal, which made waiting for the tow truck much more tolerable.) I feel like that's pretty representative of the weekend as a whole.

On the "awesome!" side of the weekend: K helped me make a blueberry-nectarine cobbler for dessert Friday night (she will proudly tell you that she is a "good helper in the kitchen," and she totally is. I measure and she dumps the ingredients into the bowls, I prep the pans while she stirs things up, and the whole time she provides entertaining running commentary "What's that? Butter? Butter makes my tummy happy!") I survived my boot camp class and managed to sneak in a toddler-free trip to Target on the way home (Target!). The house got cleaned, K kept herself amused long enough to allow Bob & me to watch the original True Grit movie (we'd seen the new one on a K-free date over the holidays.)

On the less-awesome side? Well, the ditch. The ice. And snow. And rain. And thunder. K's insistence on reminding me every hour or so about how she has an ouchie on her face because I accidentally sliced her with my ring last week. (I KNOW. I'M SORRY. STOP MILKING IT.) The addition of several tractor stickers to the hardwood floor. The way I totally snapped at Bob for trying to share fries with me when we went to dinner. (Losing weight maaaay have made me slightly neurotic about looking up nutrition information on restaurant websites before we go and I DON'T KNOW HOW MANY CALORIES THOSE HAVE ARE YOU TRYING TO SABOTAGE ME I ONLY ASKED FOR ONE.)  There may have been an incident involving a diaper blowout and the upstairs carpet. And now Bob is down for the count with some bug that hit him suddenly in the middle of the day yesterday.

This weekend was so all-over-the-map that I'm not even bemoaning the fact that it's Monday! (Well, not too much anyway. I still did a bit of token whining when opening my work e-mail this morning. I haven't lost my mind completely.) This week promises to bring with it a whole lot of crazy (lots of obligations and starting mid-week we're going to be joined by two extra children while their parents are out of the country!) but -- as long as we can keep it on the road and in between the lines? Bring it on.


I try to resist the urge to cram affiliate programs and referral links down your throats. You know that, right? But still, at one time or another you've probably had to endure my pitch/see my facebook pleadings  encouragements to sign up for Swagbucks, which I love.  I've been a member for about 14 months and have gotten $185 in Amazon credit through them -- and it's completely free! (Also, while I'd love to say that I'd used all that credit on things like books with more than fifteen pages in them, or intellectually stimulating foreign films, it's mostly been spent on chocolate milk and Huggies , but aaaanyway.) Today they're having their big birthday celebration and, as such, are throwing lots of bonus codes out there so that if you *are* interested in signing-up, you can rack up the points much quicker. Signing up through this link will get you 30 points to start with anytime, but if you sign up today and use the code BirthdaySense you will get an extra 80!

Click, click. Make us tremendously wealthy in. . . chocolate milk boxes. Really. K loves those darn things.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

28 Days of Cruelty

Editor's note: This is the latest installment in Bob's The Geek Speaks series! (In other words, I've been neglecting Unlikely Origins so it has fallen to Bob to give it some sweet blog lovin'.) At any rate, here he is! 

In "The Waste Land" T.S. Eliot calls April "the cruelest month."  I have to respectfully disagree with him and proclaim the cruelest month to be February.  February is also the most taunting month, giving us  hints and glimpses of the spring to come by bring us the sun and temperatures even into the 50s.  A scant 72 hours after that the temperatures are back down into the low double digits and we're shoveling several inches of snow beneath skies the color of a poorly maintained battleship's hull.  If these things are not cruel and taunting, I'm not sure what would fit that definition.

I have lived in Michigan for my entire life.  Every one of my life's winters from 1965 onward has been spent under those leaden skies.  Every February I gain hope and joy at seeing the sun and being able to walk around in, at worst, a light jacket.  Then the mirage falls away and we are pushed down into the depths of the winter again.  It happened again to us last week.  We enjoyed a temperature moderation into the 50s and most of the snow melted away.  We walked around in shirt sleeves outside!  Karinya contemplated going for a run! (Ed. note: contemplated!) We could smell springtime in the air!

Then came Sunday.  It was a great morning; we were able to pawn the baby off on… err… send the baby to spend some quality time with her cousins and we got up late and went to have a nice breakfast and then home to watch some Big Bang Theory (I love that show, have I mentioned?)  We were in the bedroom, which typically has the blinds closed, and eventually got a call from my sister.

"Hey, is it snowing yet down there?" she asked. 

"Of course not!" I replied.  "It's just grey out but not snowing!" 

This was before Karinya opened the blinds in the bedroom.  It was not just snowing, it was SNOWING.  Crazy snowing.  And now I had to drive in it to get K from my sister.  What a cruel month.  The storm set down about six or so inches of snow and a nice layer of glaze on top of it.  Now, four days later, we're looking at another five to seven inches in the next 36 hours.  Cruelty indeed.

But I know that these are the death throes of winter.  I know that there is far less to come than there is behind and soon it will be March.  There is talk on the radio of the Tigers in spring training and the beginnings of discussion about playoff time in hockey.  Karinya is looking through her bridal magazines and is sharing interesting web sites for invitations and save the date and thank you cards.  These are all signs that spring will, well, spring and the crocuses will bloom and winter will finally melt away -- for eight or nine months, at least.  The smells of spring will soon be on the breeze and the wedding plans will proceed at a breakneck pace until the big day.  And winter -- and February -- will be a memory.  For a while.

February may be the cruelest month by my account but the joke is on it -- it's the shortest month and the last month of the deep winter.  There can be no despair when so many wonderful things are just around the dark grey corner!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cabin Fever

How is winter not over yet, guys? (Actually, I feel a bit disingenuous writing this post today, since it is sunny and 40-something and you can actually see patches of grass through the snow in the backyard, but! While I'm enjoying this temporary reprieve, I know that we're not done with winter yet. Yet. Ugh. Anyway.) The novelty of playing in the snow & hot chocolate & soup in the crockpot & cuddling under electric blankets has worn off. I want to have playdates at parks again. I want to be able to run outside instead of doing eight million v-steps to workout videos in my living room.

...but since winter, much like my toddler, doesn't listen to a thing I say, we've been doing our best to stay active and combat cabin fever. This weekend's activity was a trip to the Impression 5 Science Center in Lansing. Museums for kids seem to be a kind of hit or miss (I've been to some awesome ones ((COSI)) and some . . . less awesome ones that I won't bother naming here.) At any rate, this was our first trip to Impression 5, and it was a hit!

Our first stop was at the big water table, where K explained . . . something very important to Bob. (Actually, that's another lie. Our first stop was the Bubble Room, which K loved! Alas, I hadn't broken out the camera yet.)

Then we moved on to the First Impressions room, which is aimed at babies up to 4 year olds. While K had a ton of fun playing around with the "big kid" exhibits in the rest of the museum, she could have happily stayed in this room the whole time. There was a shorter water table, a slide (good lord, that girl loves slides and they're hard to come by in the winter), and several other areas for creative play that we didn't have time to explore. The center provided raincoats and Crocs, so clothes/shoes/socks didn't end up soaked.

We made a stop in a giant heart (stay with me) where K ran through it the wrong way (there's a picture of that, too, but blogger is giving me a heck of a time with the picture arrangement in this post, so -- just imagine a crazed toddler zooming through the right atrium in the wrong direction. You can picture that, right?)

She listened intently to something!

Next up was the Simple Machines room. Time for a mom picture! This was where you hoisted yourself up via pulleys. I am strong. Like Bull.

There were more amazing feats of strength as Bob pulled a 500 pound block o' cement. Feats of strength!
Gears, gears. Bob and K found this part of the museum much more interesting than I did. (Because I'm a girl and just want to look at rainbows and ride unicorns all day.) ((KIDDING, Kidding.)) (((But seriously, this part didn't do a lot for me because as many times as Bob tried to get me excited about the gyroscope, I just... I can't.))) Side note: it's free-form punctuation day here on the blog, folks.

The music room, on the other hand, was more my speed. (And at this point in the adventure, "my speed" was "something that will keep K busy while I sit on this bench.") She loved the xylophone!

This was in the simple machines room, too. She's cute though, right?

Oh, heck. I'm officially throwing in the towel on the "get the pictures in order" front. Here is K inside a giant mouth, which she was a little terrified of, to be honest, but I wanted a picture and goaded her into standing in it because I put my needs in front of those of my child. Or, um, I mean I didn't want to deprive her of what was surely a character-building experience.

There was a special model train exhibit in the basement of the museum, which was another hit with both of the kids ;-) While this was one part of the museum with a no-touching rule, they did have a nice little area set up with a set of tracks the kids could play with, and a coloring area (though they were out of the train coloring sheets by the time we got there, I think). K is quite the little engineer!

It was a fun something-to-do and it got us out of the house, and K was exposed to some new things (both scientific concepts and germs, probably, because despite my desperate "don't put your mouth on that!" cries, you know she did). They actually offer a series of science classes for toddlers (neat!) and I think we're going to give that a try (you know how I feel about hauling K all over the state for "enrichment activities"!)

What adventures have you gone on lately to combat cabin fever?

Edit: There is actually a great deal on a "Family Four Pack" admission to Impression 5 through Groupon going on today! Check the Lansing deal if you're interested.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day!

from the Unlikely Origins crew! (Who are not dead, just really busy!)

Hope your day was wonderful and full of the folks you love!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Snowpocalypse That Wasn't. . .

Kind of.

There was enough snow that more than a few obscenities flew past my lips as I tried to shovel out the driveway. (Between the drifts & what the plows kicked up? Ugh. On the plus side, my arms are going to be way buff by the time swimsuit season hits! Also, did I just say "swimsuit season?")

But a snowpocalypse it was not. (Listen, guys. I know that fake words like "Snowpocalypse" and "Snowmageddon" are completely absurd, but just between us? I kind of love them. There's not a lot to brighten up winter in the midwest, and February is a rotten month for a variety of reasons, and -- I don't care if their origins lie in exaggerations from talking heads who like their weather forecasts with a dab of sensationalism -- they amuse me and add a bit of excitement to the situation.) We didn't get a zillion feet of snow. We didn't get a crippling layer of ice. We didn't have power outages at all, let alone power outages that necessitated the use of the camping lanterns and non-perishable foodstuffs that I'd thoughtfully stocked the pantry with. Ahem.

To recap: enough to keep us from yoga class & a playdate we had scheduled for tomorrow (we only have one 4 wheel drive vehicle and the person with outside-the-house obligations that pay wins the "who gets the truck" debate) but not enough to earn either of us an official "snow day." The upsides? Bob brought me a peppermint mocha from Starbucks and a bunch o' flowers for my shoveling efforts, and I got the following pictures of K from the whole eleven minutes she braved the great outdoors before deeming walking through the snow "too hard."

All in all, not a bad snowpocalypse ;-)