Monday, January 30, 2012

Being Mom

It's funny how often being the mom means putting yourself last and everyone else first. We went skiing last weekend - not the one that just passed but the one before that - and I skied the green slope with my daughter. I was trying to give her confidence and help her work on her ski skills, but it was downright boring for me. Except that I was skiing with my lovely daughter who is such a joy to be around no matter what we're doing. 

Then, when she wanted to sit in the lodge and warm up, I didn't leave her to go ski by myself, I stayed to keep her company and listen to her stories. That was fine. I'll ski a billion more times in my life, but my little girl will not be little forever. 

Last Wednesday we all went to dinner at the fanciest yacht club I've ever been to. The St. Francis along the San Francisco city front with views to die for is where my youngest daughter goes for sailing lessons. They've got a wonderful program to get kids into sailing in a very fun way. My youngest likes it there. After sailing, she likes to go to the locker room for a steam. How cute is that? 

The yacht club had a youth sailing dinner to honor the junior sailors in their program. Because my youngest was in their program, she was invited and the rest of the family went as her guests, since we do not belong to that club. We ate very bland pasta and my kids ate nothing, as usual, since they're incredibly picky eaters, but otherwise, the night was very enjoyable. 

As we're listening to all the winners called up to the podium for recognition, we were overjoyed to hear our youngest daughter's name called up for Most Improved Sailor in the fall program. The look of pride on her face brought me near to tears. Really. Tears were just on the verge of coming down.

What meant so much to me was just seeing my little baby shine. It was such a pleasure to see her reluctantly get into something and do well enough at it to gain recognition. To see her beam with happiness for her own accomplishment was payback enough for anytime I gave my last bite of dessert to one of my kids, or to take off my sweater so one of them wouldn't be cold. Or forgo time on the slopes on the last day of skiing so that I could keep one of them company. I couldn't be any prouder. And not proud of the award, but proud of her

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Things My Dog Did Today

I could have a nice juicy post every day if this was my subject. This dog of mine is an endless source for fodder. The reason I wanted to write about him today was that he did two noteworthy things.

This morning when we went for our walk, we began at the school and started our climb up the hill. Mooch stopped a short ways up and did his business. As I bent down to pick up after him, I noticed that part of it went into a gopher hole. That gopher sure is in for a surprise when it decides to emerge from the ground!

The last time I went to Costco, I picked up some rawhide bones for my dog to chew. I've heard that I shouldn't give these to him, but with my dog's iron constitution, he can manage chewing on a lead pipe if he were so inclined. I call these bones Leave Me Alone Bones or Get Off My Back Bones. It's my way of sending him somewhere away from me so I can have some peace.

I gave my dog one of these bones today and for some reason, he didn't want to chew it. He left me alone, so I just assumed that he went off to reduce the rawhide to some gooey mess or other. Unfortunately, I found out what he did with it. A few minutes ago, he showed up at the back door barking with a bone in  front of him that was covered in dirt. My so-called backyard does not have its own dirt, it has planters full of dirt - but also flowers. I had to see which one of my plants did not survive the Leave Me Alone Bone. I made a round of all the possible places my dog had to dig up something and found that he dug up a plant that I wasn't sure was going to make it anyway. Now I know that plant won't make it, but it doesn't make it any easier for me.

I think the dog needs a pot he can call his own and bury to his heart's content. I just don't think if I gave him one that he would stick to just that one. Most of our plants have a wire fencing covering them so the cat doesn't do her own brand of digging, but this time my dog just moved the thing out of his way. He knows what he wants and does what he wants, that's for sure.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Just Do It

My mood ring would be green with envy if I were wearing one right now. There is a family in our community who very recently set off on an adventure for a few months in South Africa. You can follow their journey and get jealous with me if you'd like.

My enviousness is entirely unrelated to envying their travel - because I love to travel, too. No, that part is an obvious envy, so it can remain unsaid. I'm jealous of the ability to homeschool their two girls. The mother admits to the challenges that homeschooling poses, and they're using curriculum from our school, but I'm talking about the ability to present an opportunity for learning that this trip is offering.

There are two-sides to me as a mother. One is the mother that I actually am - living, breathing, in the flesh. The other is the mother that I am in my head. The one that has absolutely no follow-through. That's the side that I'm thinking of here and my jealousy for someone to actually do great things makes me want to try harder.

If you go to their site, you will see a field guide as one of the tabs. There are pictures and identifications of various critters and it totally reminded me of why I bought a book on birds when we moved into our house. I wanted to identify all the birds that live and roam in the trees that surround us. There are so many of them! I must have gotten the book at least three or four years ago thinking as a summer project we would do this. Nope. Never did.

Or what about that book on space? No, not that either, though I absolutely love our new telescope and would like to explore the universe myself, even if it doesn't turn out the way I had initially envisioned it. Or the plant books that I got when we went to Hawaii - thinking that we'd learn about all the flora over there. Ideas, all of them. Actions, none.

Getting opportunities can be as simple as opening your eyes to what is right in front of you. I can create opportunities without even trying, but doing something about them is much harder. I have been given a wonderful opportunity recently to write full time. I've stopped working to spend more time with my family and right away I started another novel. Then stalled. I kick myself every time I think about how much time I've NOT written anything. I have wonderful excuses, too, like needing to clean up or Christmas and stuff like that, but they're just excuses. I need to harness some latent ability to follow-through and then DO it.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Sometimes when I do the same dumb stuff over and over, I think I'm destined to forever learn and re-learn that lesson. There are a couple in particular that I can't make myself learn - at least for the long-term. I will remember them once and forget them again the next time.

These go beyond the basics like learning that drinking a little too much will cause a hangover, or eating a carton of ice cream will give me a tummy ache. No, these have consequences that are a little harder to deal with.

The first one is remembering NOT to put sharp knives in the soapy dish water. I very distinctly remember my dad telling me not to do this because I could reach my hand in and cut myself. For years and years, I put steak knives in the soapy water without any ill effects, but it's when I started putting the big chopping knives in the water that I started to cut myself up. I still have a cut on my thumb that is healing into a scar that I cut a couple of weeks ago. It hurt, too! The thumb is an important and useful digit that does not like to be out of commission!

I did it and I knew better, too. I thought about how dumb it was to put it in the water just as I was putting it in the water. You'd think I would have acted smarter than that by now.

The other thing isn't quite as serious. I don't think I'll ever sever a finger, so the last one isn't too serious, but all the blood makes the consequences bigger. No, this other one isn't that bad. Not really. Kind of, though.

I'm a pretty responsible dog owner when I take my dog out for his walks. I clean up after him with bags recycled from the newspaper delivery. I usually have three with me and mostly come home with one left over. It's the time that I take two and need three that I'm a little less responsible, but given the amount of poop I see when I take my dog out, I'm better than a lot of owners out there, let me tell you.

Most of the walks that Mooch and I go on pass a trail-head at some point or another. Most trail-heads have garbage cans in which I can make a deposit. I have seen people freak out about anyone using their garbage cans, so I will not use personal cans for a deposit. Instead, if I have a bag in my hand at the end of a walk and I cannot deposit it anywhere before I have to get in my car to get home, I put the poop bag in the back of my car.

Both my cars are technically trucks and the back of the car is not really a trunk but the back part of an SUV. I don't like to put the poop in the front seat with me for some reason I'm sure you can deduce. It can be stinky - even though it is sealed up in plastic.

My problem is that sometimes, because it's in the back, I forget to get it out again. This forgetfulness will only last as long as it takes to get back in the car. I immediately know what I forgot when I get in the car - especially on a warm or hot day. Even as these days lately have been freezing cold, the poop still stinks.

I got today's out, but two-days ago, as I got into the car and got a huge whiff of Yuck, I had to chuckle at how I should be able to remember to take it out by now. After all, my dog is almost seven-years-old and it's not like I forget to get the dog out of my car. The windows go down for as long as it takes and I drive around trying to remember not to do it again.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

At The Dentist

I've been teasing my girls about the cost of their last couple of dental visits. Let's just say that when I refer to them as my $1200 girls, I'm not making that number up. Imagine the joy my oldest had today to discover I had a dental appointment myself for a filling. I could smell the satisfaction she emanated out her smug little smile.

One of my cavities, and the only one to be filled today, was along the gum-line of my lower right teeth. I've had issues there before and dentists really don't like to mess with that area. I also have issues getting numb on my bottom jaw. Anesthesia just doesn't work well for me. Over the years of experiencing pain during procedures, I've become quite uptight about having anything done. Today was no exception.

I start off by telling any dentist about to work on the bottom that I have trouble getting numb. Then, they try to crank up the drugs to prove their prowess. Even when they get enough drugs going, they usually run out fast and it hurts a bit soon afterwards.

Today, my absolute favorite dentist so far, Dr. R gave me some heavy duty stuff in my first set of shots. He was respectfully concerned that this procedure go well and wanted to take care of me. We all waited while he and the assistant talked about hunting. I would have preferred a fishing conversation, but it wasn't too bad. Then, I had a second round of shots. The whole time, I'm tensed up in my chair practically curled up in the fetal position and clutching the arms of the chair like I'm on a roller coaster without a safety bar across my chest.

After the medication had some time to start working, Dr. R said he didn't think I would feel anything, but he had to do a test anyway. It hurt. I don't think anyone saw that coming. At that, the suggestion for nitrous came out. Another assistant came up to me to ask me if I wanted to get nitrous oxide while she teased me with the mask hovering around my nose. She said insurance usually doesn't cover it so do I want it anyway? Yes, I thought, hoping it wasn't $1000. I had never had it before, but I was more than willing to do anything to relieve my anxiety. My hands were shaking by now.

The world suddenly looked brighter and bunnies started jumping around while kittens rolled on top of my blanket of cashmere clouds. Not really. I had to focus on breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth. Just the act of focussing on something other than the instruments in my mouth was helpful. Dr. R and the assistant talked to me a little, but my bad ear was pointed at Dr. R so all I heard was "blahblahblah" over the sound of the hissing nitrous.

I felt nothing, but was vaguely aware that my tooth was being fixed at super sonic speed. I heard Dr. R say that the amount of anesthetic I had would have been enough if they had needed to extract the tooth. I was thinking, "Who cares? Take it out!" He didn't.

And then it was all over. I had to go pee like I had been locked in a lemonade machine for three days and bee-lined out of there while everyone asked me over and over if I felt okay. My mouth is still numb an hour later and I think the post I wrote in my head under the influence of the nitrous was much funnier than the one I'm finally able to write. I must say though, that I really should take better care of my teeth given the trauma I go through to have them worked on. Dr. R is the best dentist I've ever had and I just love him, but I'd prefer that he didn't have to do anything more than tell me my x-rays are clear.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Santa Cruz Juliana - aka "Jules"

My husband and I have been riding our bikes together every week for a few months. It is a fabulous time up Mt. Tam and it's absolutely beautiful. Our time together is special - like a custom designed date where we can share stories or simply talk about the mundane business of family life while doing something we both love.

The ride that we do is pretty strenuous in places and it takes us between two-and-a-half and three hours to complete. It ends with a ride up our street, which we call Holder Hill. (Our hill is steep, too!)

At first I was riding my old bike, Betty. She's wonderful. She's light and fits me perfectly. I've had her for about ten-years and she'd been the best bike I've ever owned. And I feel disloyal to say this, but the more I rode her on this strenuous route, I saw little flaws in her. I saw that my front shock could use the ability to "lock out" meaning I could keep it from bouncing while riding up hill. I could also see that my old breaks didn't give me confidence in stopping should I need to. There were also some back aches that I got towards the end of the ride that were super uncomfortable.

My husband proposed several times that I get a full suspension bike. I didn't think I wanted to. I loved mine and what I didn't know wouldn't hurt me, right? I mean, how much better could a full suspension bike be anyway? My bike was awesome, I was fine.

As time went on, though, I knew I was probably ready to update my bike to have the components that would trick her out a bit. I could get a lock-out front shock and disc brakes and Betty would be good-to-go. But, it turns out that I couldn't make these changes easily on her and I entertained the possibility of getting a new bike after all.

Then I met Juliana. Santa Cruz Juliana, that is. My husband was going to find me a used Santa Cruz Blur and I needed to get the sizing right so I went into my local bike shop, Summit, in San Rafael and they guys were so incredibly friendly and helpful that we ended up settling on the Juliana - new. It's designed for women, so it's not like I'm adapting to fit the bike, the bike was made for me.

She's a dream, let me tell you! The first time I rode her I instantly felt as though I had updated my old Volkswagen to a BMW. The shifting is effortless and the disc breaks are swift and accurate. The rear shock makes the downhill feel like I'm on rails. The uphill is more effortless because I don't bounce and lose power going up. And no more backaches! The geometry of this bike is fabulous and fits me great.

My only little problem has been my pedals. Due to a crazy fall I had years ago, I have been riding with toe-clips, and not clip-less pedals as is the standard. I'm fine with them. I'm used to them and I have figured out how to work them safely to the fullest on Betty. I decided with Jules that I would go clip-less, though.  I tried to use an old set of my husband's pedals with my old shoes and I just couldn't clip out my left foot. I had another major fall and was so mad at myself for a good chunk of the ride that day. My bruised body not as bruised as my ego. I went back to an old pair of toe-clips that belonged to my husband and I didn't like those either, which lead to my ordering some new Sidi shoes and putting the clip-less pedals back on.

On yesterday's ride, however, I learned that my unclipping problem might not have been my old shoes after all. I had to stop suddenly on the street to avoid hitting or getting hit by a car and I fell over because I couldn't get my foot out. My knee got scraped up and I jammed my thumb. My pride wasn't as bruised as my last fall but it was obvious I had to get new pedals.

In all, I love my new bike. She's a fabulous ride and I can't even tell you how much I enjoy the experience now more than before. (And I loved it then!) I feel pretty beaten up today, but I can't wait to go again.

Motivating the New Resolutions

I just read a book called Younger Next Year. My mom gave it to me recently. When I saw it, I thought it looked familiar, but I read it anyway. It really made an impact on my thinking. It was written for men, but it made a lot of sense about how our bodies decay and how to turn it around so they grow instead of decay. Decay being what we're used to thinking of as simply aging. 

After I finished it, I immediately set out to schedule into my life the principals of the book. The first and foremost was to exercise six-days a week. Having been absolutely frustrated by the weight I've gained in the last few months, I figured that it could only help. Another principal is to cut out eating crap. That one is a little harder, but baby-steps and all, right? 

This weekend, I was sitting on my couch and looked up at the half-full bookcase in my living room and noticed another book: Younger Next Year for Women. No wonder the first book looked familiar - I did already have it! So, I cracked that book so I can see how they addressed the differences in genders. 

I don't know if everything in the book is true. It's possible that the science will be debunked later as it always is over time. But regardless, it reinforces my current belief that exercise could be the cure-all for just about everything. I know what miracles it performs for my psyche and save any injuries from excess, I've seen nothing wrong with it. And if exercise can stop or slow the clock on aging, I'm all in. I highly recommend the books. They are great motivators for New Year's resolutions. 

I really meant to write about my new bike, too. Maybe next post...