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December 2008
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February 2009

Walls and platforms

We have walls, and better yet, Sam and I are no longer remodeling refugees. Thank you to Mel and Amy for a fun few days and a safe place for Sam to play. It turns out he loves playing with strollers and grocery carts. Of course, he changes to application a bit. Matt says, "Of course he loves them. Four wheels, steering control, what's not to love?"

Today I'm doing some debris cleanup in hopes of getting some things moved back in place. Of course, painting is the next step so we can't move too much, but I think we can still make things a little more, uh, comfortable. Or at least a little less crowded in the kitchen.

As I'm mopping drywall dust, vacuuming and picking up stray nails (hello? small child in the house?!) I'm thinking, thinking about my writer platform and just can't seem to pull it all together into a neat and tidy package. I'll write more later about the lecture I got to attend Sunday on platform building by Christina Katz. Meanwhile, my brain is buzzing and I'm trying to tune out the static so I can hear what that still, small voice is saying.

I could use some feedback from those of you who read my writing. Sometimes other people see things you're too close to see yourself. What do you see as my writing niche? I'm curious if what you think matches what I think it is.


Even though I had the better part of my column for Tuesday finished, I had to change course in response to a growing amount of discussions in the media about Facebook. I am editing the new draft tonight and had to cut this part out but I liked it well enough to share here.

Which brings me to a common criticism of Facebook. Social networking is no substitute for actual face-to-face connections. I completely agree. But most of my face-to-face connections involve a variation of this conversation: “How old is he?”

“Fifteen months.”

“Where did he get that blond hair?”

“His dad maybe? Insurance won’t pay for the lab work.”

Prized parent

My friend Sofia yesterday, age 4, generously offered her mom and me an opportunity to compete for a treasure prize. All we had to do, she announced, was be a good mom to our children. To make sure we were clear on the rules, I asked her to define what she thought made a good mom. I was relieved to know cleaning was not mentioned, even once. High on the list, however, were feeding our kids and making them feel better.

The contest didn't really come up again. But don't think that means she forgot about it.

Shortly before we left, as I was changing Sam's diaper, he started to say "kikili" which sounds more like "keeeekeeeleee" and he grins ear to ear as he says it. 

Anyway, I quickly call Mel into the room so she can hear it and the girls are right behind her. Sam, I swear to you, looks at me aghast and gets really, really quiet.

"Oh, I must've embarrassed him," I said, joking. Sofia solemnly looked at me, shook her cute little head and said, "You don't get the treasure box, Nathalie. You embarrassed him."

She paused before leaving, "But you can try again tomorrow if you don't embarrass him."

What could suck more than spin class?

It turns out there is something I hate more than spinning class at the gym and that would be step aerobics. Are you kidding me? So now instead of just feeling like a fat ass, I feel like a clumsy fat ass.

Part of the problem is that I can never seem to get there early enough to get the "good" spots - meaning far away from the mirrors and farther still from the helpful instructors. Ergo, all eyes on me. Truthfully probably nobody is looking, and if they happened to glance over and catch an eyeful of me jiggling and falling off the step during my little "hops", well, it probably makes them smile inside as they think, "Hey, at least I'm not her."

I have never been a good one for following directions while moving at the same time. You'd know this if you've been in the car with me, even once. It's true for dancing, it's true for gymnastics when I was a kid and it is most certainly true for step aerobics.

But unfortunately, what I am worse at is pushing myself when it comes to exercise. I'm the person you see engrossed in a magazine article while riding the stationary bicycle, pedaling just enough to keep the machine going but you can't go too fast and read at the same time, you know? So until I can kick my own ass in gear, gym classes it is. Speaking of which, gotta run. Not literally as running is not something I do unless being chased, and really, how often does that happen?

Busy hands and feet

Wrestling Daddy Story time circuit, take two went much better. Sam and I went to the library's "Busy Hands and Feet" story time and found it to be much more our style. Sam was able to stand and make noise for most of the class as he tried out a variety of instruments and found them all to his liking.

The teacher was super and patient and all was well until she announced the children were to play a game where they put all the instruments back in the box. Uh-oh. I watched Sam grin as all the children put things back in the box for him to pull out. She convinced him to give up his tambourine and let her close the box. Whew. Except that he watched her like a hawk and watched where she put it away. Then, and this is the part that scares me, he waited politely while she got busy with the next activity. Then he made a beeline for the instrument box.

So we took another little time out before getting back in on the action. Only this time, I wasn't the only parent with a time-out  needing toddler because that's just how the busy hands and feet folks roll.

In other news, Sam has taken to calling his dad "Matt."

Missing memo

Just this morning I was trying to decide what my next Baby on Board column should be about. Then, I had three negative interactions about either Sam or my parenting, or both, and decided to turn my fury into inspiration.

I wonder if I managed to miss out on the memo all the other mothers got regarding the etiquette of parenting in public. Because there seem to be rules or some kind of code I'm missing out on.

I had a vague sense of it when I started taking Sam to public parks this summer. Looks I thought I saw exchanged between more experienced--though much younger--mothers, and comments I don't recall now that made me think I was doing something wrong but not sure what, exactly. My basic goal at the park with Sam was fresh air for both of us and a chance for him to explore. My personal goal was not to hover, but make sure I had Neosporin in the diaper bag.

Now that we've officially set out on the story time circuit, this question of unspoken rules is back.

Maybe it was me, but I don't think so. I was feeling a little defensive when we got to story time at the library because when I picked Sam up at the gym daycare the door was locked. I knocked once. No answer. Maybe she didn't hear me. Knocked again. No answer. Hmmm. I hope nothing's wrong. Knock again. I'm knocking and waiting not pounding, mind you. Day Care Lady answers the door and responds to my smile by saying: "The door is locked because your son kept getting out," her eyes narrowed as she nodded toward the young delinquent who was playing with a truck and nodding his head to keep time with Old McDonald.

"Oh! I didn't realize he could do that," is all I said. And really, I didn't. Although he does seem determined to surprise me with one new trick a day. My son is not perfect, but, well, actually, yes he is. He's perfect in that he discovers new things and explores them.

So then my son decides to pick something off the floor during story time and eat it. I got it out of his mouth and felt his body stiffen in his signature "I'm about to throw a tantrum" move. I took him outside to let him have his fit. I figured I wasn't giving the foreign item back and he wasn't going to ruin story time for anyone else. So, we went outside so he could have his fit and he got distracted by looking at the kids through the window so we went back in. No worries. Except for the horrified look I kept getting from Ms. My-sweater-shrunk-in-the-dryer. She looked at me as if I was beating the kid. What's funny is that if I hadn't taken him outside, I just know I would've gotten the same "feedback" from someone else. Then she nodded in my direction and said something to her friend who turned to look. At which point I felt 12 again.

Then my son decided he'd like to take a closer look at her water bottle. He didn't even have his hand on it for a full second before I pulled him away and said, "That's not ours." To Ms. My-sweater-shrunk-in-the-dryer, because of course it HAD to be hers, I said, "Sorry, it looks like his at home."

She snatches her purse and water bottle away as if he was trying to take her damn wallet and said, "Well, this one isn't his, is it?" Or something to that effect, I'm not exactly sure about the wording because I was so surprised by her reaction. Wow. Okay.

I know none of it sounds so bad, but it feels awful to think someone is being critical of your parenting, or worse, your kid. I'm sure I'll get thicker skin, or not, but in the meantime it makes me wonder what I'm missing? Should I not let him walk around during story time? That would require a straitjacket - are those frowned upon?

If you've seen a copy of that missing memo, would you send it my way?


I went back today after years away. I was nervous about the reunion and had nothing to wear but it wasn't long before my heart rate was pumping and I came home sweaty, and feeling much better.


It's nothing as sordid as you might be thinking. I just went to the damn gym. 


I wrote that a month ago but didn't share because I didn't want to hear about the time I joined and didn't go 12 years ago. Or the other time I joined and didn't go. Also, I don't want innocent questions like "are you going to the gym today?" to unhinge me.


But now that it's becoming almost a habit, I figured I'm safe to talk about it. I don't know if I've mentioned before how much I hate working out. Hate it. However, I also hate being overweight and it turns out I have to do one to deal with the other


Hence, the gym. I know I could exercise at home but, well, have you met me? I'm not that person. Luckily, I'm friends with such a person and she is a good enough friend to let me hate her for the time it takes to "encourage" me to work out for "just five more minutes."


This morning I agreed to try a new class at the gym. Honestly, between Sam and me being sick I've been trying to go for weeks and haven't been able to but today I was out of good reasons. So I dropped Sam off at the daycare and started to head into the room when I overheard the teacher say something about the cycling room. Oh.Hell.No. I caught Amy's eye through the door way, shook my head and turned to leave. I don't do spinning. Not since college and that was a different kind of spinning.


She caught me in the hallway and "encouraged" me to stay for five minutes. I only agreed after she shook on the deal that I could leave in five minutes with no guilt, shame or blame.


Of course, I'm not the person that leaves during a class either. I'm proud of making it through the class, but I need to debrief a bit.


First, I still hate the gym. Secondly, while I'm sure "January Joiners" are a pet peeve for regulars, I appreciate the people who tolerate me and am thankful to those who are helpful. To those who are obviously irritated by my lack of grace under the pressure of responding to unfamiliar commands barked to the tune of disco club music, well, while the odds are good I'll be done by March, the 18-month contract I signed suggests I might be around for awhile and I'll remember your smirky smugness. Oh, yes. I'll remember.



Project 365

I'm putting my perfectionist tendencies aside and posting the link to my Project 365 blog.

Those of you who tried to join me in Project 365 with the Creating Keepsakes kit know what a fiasco it turned out to be. Those who didn't, well, the fact that I haven't complained about it here is a testament to my resolution to complain less.

But just to explain ... I have never seen such an egregious customer service debacle. Creating Keepsakes hyped up a huge product launch scheduled for January 1st and then didn't staff the phone lines, in fact folks were on holiday while thousands of people called and called and called and waited on hold for hours.

I was lucky and only waited for about an hour, as did Amy. We were also online trying to order. She got through first and ordered the kit. I ordered as well but the computer kept wanting to give me six kits. No thank you. So Amy ordered a second kit for me. We got confirmation numbers for both orders. Excellent. Lucky us.

Until we found out, days later, that the system was generating false confirmation orders. Have you ever heard of such a thing? The story ends with only one kit being "real" - though it hasn't arrived.

Vultures are selling the kits on Ebay for up to $225. I'm still figuring out how I'm going to assemble the actual kit, but for now I'm focusing on the essence of the project: pictures + words.

As I was writing this, Amy called to say Becky Higgins, the creator of the fabulous kit gone crazy, posted a free download for the project.

I'm curious to hear how you guys are doing with this. Here's the link to my version of Project 365. Feel free to follow along and leave your comments.

"Confessions of a Green Wannabe" goes national

Thankfully all the sickness around here is balanced with some good news professionally. My "Confessions of a Green Wannabe" column went from Portland only to all of EcoMetro city publications this week - hurray! I'm excited to be able to continue this gig which has turned into a paying one - a good thing because you know, between co-pays and caffeine I need a little extra cash in my wallet.

I am, by the way, a total comment junkie so if you feel so inclined, check out the column and feel free to leave one.