Tuesday Tangent

Hungry Runner Girl frequently shares a Tuesday Tangent, and I’m jumping on the randomness bandwagon.

1. I had a wisdom tooth extracted yesterday. I felt a bit groggy from the twilight anesthesia (first experience with that and only my second IV; I had to get one when I went into preterm labor at 29 weeks with baby numero 4), but that’s about it. I’m kind of wishing I’d just opted for laughing gas, the cheaper option, since we don’t have dental insurance and our health insurance doesn’t cover any oral surgery, but the oral surgeon advised against it. However, the worst pain I’ve had has been in my hand from where the IV went in; my mouth feels super-duper. Prior to the procedure, I was honestly looking forward to a vacay and just being out of it and confined to the bed with a good book, but I feel pretty much normal. My 9-year-old caught me doing push-ups this morning and said, “Daddy said you weren’t supposed to exercise yet.”

“I know, I know,” I said. “I am feeling fidgety.”

This comes from the same person whose Dad caught her doing the Health Rider when she had a pretty severe case of mono her senior year of high school (liver was affected, I became jaundiced, spleen was enlarged, etc.).

“You’re grounded!” he shouted.

“I already feel like I am grounded!” I snapped back. It’s true I’d been confined to my room for about a month, doctor’s orders. (My parents never actually grounded me during my lifetime under their roof.)

My dad dragged the Health Rider to the basement. The next day he told me he’d had a dream (nightmare?) that he found my bed empty and ran over to the park across the street from our house to discover a glowing Katie (I really was quite yellow from the jaundice) running in the park. I realized then that he really was worried, and I needed to rest for his sake if not for mine.

Flash forward almost a decade, and my oldest child tsks, tsks me for ding push-ups. I’ve always been a stubborn one, and I wonder why my offspring can be so darn tenacious.

2. Last night I did treat myself to what I thought was simply a chick flick but ended up being much more. Do watch About Time if you haven’t already. Don’t let the whole “time traveling” thing stop you. This movie has heart and delivers an important message about how we really ought to live every day like we’ve already lived it because then maybe we’d do a better job at giving our best, noticing the person in front of us (the grocery clerk, the Starbucks barista, the child tugging at our clothes, the spouse lying beside us in bed), taking ourselves and life less seriously, and just being kind. I was weeping at the end of the film, but they were happy, grateful tears. I also happen to love Rachel McAdams, who stars in the movie, although actor Bill Nighy steals the show. You know when you like an actress and you just feel like she seems like a nice, down-to-earth person? Well, that’s how I’ve always felt about Rachel McAdams, and it turns out she is actually a quite likable person in real life. My uncle (one of my dad’s brothers) is an actor – John Pankow – and he was in Morning Glory with her and told me she was super friendly, lovely, and not pretentious at all. I’m glad I’m such a good judge of Hollywood actors’ characters.

3. I’ve been trying to eat a relatively clean diet lately, although I still do imbibe occasionally, love my morning cup of joe, and like me some chocolate every once in awhile. I recently tried this delicious Four Ingredient Protein Pudding recipe, and I highly recommend it. Yum!

4. Last night I realized that maybe two of my little girls (ages 7 and 5) had been a little scared about Mama’s “surgery” (I hesitate to even refer to it as that since it was so minor, and I feel so great). They were asking where they would go if something happened to me. I told them Daddy would take care of them, but that the chances of that happening were very small. They then asked what would happen if something happened to Daddy and me. I told them they would go live with Uncle Josh (my brother) and Aunt Megan but that, again, this probably would never ever happen.

With Ellyn [their new baby cousin]?” 7-year-old Rachel asked.

“Yes, with Ellyn,” I said.

Five-year-old Mary Elizabeth then gasped happily and said, “Really?”

So much for missing Mom and Dad.

Rachel then started asking big questions about how I’d feel without the kids. “You’d probably have the time of your lives,” said my melancholic.

“No way,” I said. “My life would be awful without you.”

“But,” she argued, “it would be a lot more peaceful.” So maybe there has been some more sibling head-bopping lately, but I’ll take the chaos and craziness over having a quiet house and an empty heart.

5. Well, I had more to ramble about, but kids are hungry (actually, they’re more “hangry” than hungry. Some more head-bopping is going down.).

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She lives! Kate Wicker has not fallen off the face of the Earth – just off the face of Blogville.

A reader recently asked me how I find time to do all that I do. She lamented that she was struggling just to feel good about accomplishing the bare minimum of what was required of her each day. I told her I’d get back to her. I still haven’t (I am so sorry!). But here’s the thing: Something has to give. I refuse to be the mom I was not so long ago who always crammed way too much into her day and ran around feeling frazzled. I’d write about the importance of living in the moment while feeling like I was a passenger on a train that never stopped. I looked out the window, and all I saw was a muddy palette of blurred colors.

Do what matters to you – and enjoy it. I devote my limited spare time to reading and fitness right now. That doesn’t leave as much time for blogging or dealing with my mountain of email correspondence. I used to feel guilty about that. I wanted to do it all – or I thought I should be able to. There are no secrets to time management. I do wake up pretty early most days. I am an efficient worker bee type, but these days I relish in mandatory quiet time. I take frequent naps with my 2-year-old. I let the emails pile up. I do what I can, and sometimes it doesn’t feel like enough. But then I see that I am calmer and happier. The train has stopped, and I’m not longer racing along, not exactly sure of where I am going.

I am enjoying the destination.

I want details. I want definition (in my biceps and my life). I want to remember these days more than blog about them. When this space is quiet, what it really means is my life is loud and in Technicolor. Life goes on even when this blog doesn’t or perhaps even more so.

But because I know you have nothing better to do than admire my progeny, I’ll share some glimpses of what we’ve been up to lately:

This girl has turned me into a soccer mom, and her smile and enthusiasm for the sport makes all the schlepping, jersey laundering, etc. worth it.

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When Madeline is on the soccer field, I refer to her as Love. “Good cross, Love!” “Great teamwork, Love!” Well, the rest of the team parents were laughing, suggesting that calling my daughter “Love” doesn’t exactly inspire intimidation in her opponents. Thus, they provided me with some alternative nicknames like “Blade.” After a rainy game, we started calling her “Mud Dog” (the other Madeline on the team answers to “Mad Dog.”) because her uniform was splattered with brown. I suspect I’ll still end up cheering on “Love,” but maybe I’ll occasionally refer to her as “Mud Dog.”

This guy is an active 2-year-old. He is also a goofy boy as evidenced by him trying to bite his sister’s finger through the car window.

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One of Rachel’s (my 6-year-old) friends witnessed this exhibition of ferocity and started calling Thomas “Psycho Baby.”

He doesn’t always have a bad case of the crazies. Sometimes he’s just cute.

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Rachel (6) and M.E. (5) are becoming the best of buds, which makes me so happy because these two have a history of not exactly getting along (think knockdown, drag out fights, hair-pulling and all).

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Since running is still mostly out of the picture, I’ve been pursuing lots of different kinds of cross-training. Most recently, I’ve been trying to master using clipless pedals on my new bike (a Mother’s Day gift). Considering the large abrasion across my left knee, I haven’t done so well. I thought of sharing a photo of my boo-boo, but it ended up looking pretty graphic so I’ll spare you.

Thomas is fond of pointing out my healing wound and saying, “Mommy fell off her bike.” He looks so concerned when he says it – like, that’s a nasty cut, but I am also worried that you can’t ride a bike and toppled over in the driveway while at a standstill. I know I look more fleet-footed than that on my low-rider tricycle, and how old are you exactly?

Thomas, et al., I was not riding just a regular, old bike! Cut me some slack. Clipless is a stupid name because your cleats actually clip – or click – into the pedals. That’s all fine and dandy as you’re cruising along, but it becomes problematic when you stop and can’t release your feet from the pedals. When I stopped I couldn’t get one blasted foot out, so – wee! – there I fell, collapsing to one side like a timbered tree. It wasn’t a pretty sight. But did I let a little boo-boo stop me? Oh no. I am the kind of person who gets back on the horse who just threw her off. So I mounted that beast of a bike with courage and only a hint of trepidation.

And I fell again with my husband and kids watching.

I’m pretty sure the kids were thinking that they mastered the whole bike thing a lot better than I did. The second fall affected me more than the first. I almost started to cry because my pride was battered and bruised. My hip, which is my latest running injury, was aching. I cursed my jalopy of a body and told myself next up I’d be writing a book called Ageless: Making Peace with Your Crow’s Feet, Decreased Coordination, and Achy Musculoskeletal System.

What had happened? At the bike shop with my sleek bike positioned in a trainer, I felt like Lance Armstrong. If I can’t run, watch me ride this bike like an elite.

Lessons in humility are never easy, but they are very necessary.

I am not sure the bike shop guru should have had so much confidence in me, especially when he noticed the wide strip of pink below my opposite knee. “That’s a nasty scar,” he observed.

“Yes,” I said, sheepishly adding, “Last summer I was running and tripped on a rusty screw sticking out of the sidewalk and fell.”

Who acquires a nasty scar from falling while running? That would be me.

But enough self-deprecation. If there’s one thing I’m decent at, it’s holding babies. This little one, my first godchild, gave me a chance to see how amazing being a grandparent is going to be. I traveled to her baptism for a quick weekend in DC, and held her as much as I could. She’d snuggle in, and it felt like heaven. I played with her precocious 2-year-old brother, too, whose Mafia-like approach to stink bugs was hilarious. In a very convincing Godfather accent (he was mimicking his uncle who was talking to the stink bug in a similar manner) he said,”The stink bug. He’s ‘gwoss.’ He’s a disgusting individual. Get for about it.*”

*Translation: Forget about it.

I had fun with the kiddos, enjoyed all the happy moments and cuteness, but then, after a long day the kids were exhausted and started to lose it. I asked my dear friend, “Can I do anything to help?”

“No. They’re just tired,” the wise mom said, knowing that only Mama would do at that moment. So I slipped into the guest bedroom and flipped through a magazine. I had the delightful job of holding happy babies and playing with adorable 2-year-olds but when things started get loud, messy, and emotional, I was suddenly off duty. No wonder my parents and my husband’s parents love the grandparenting gig so much!

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If you follow me on Instagram, you already witnessed my nerdy ways. For those of you who haven’t yet, have no fear, the geek is here:


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For our family, summer means frequent visits to my parents’ lake house.

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Captain Papa always allows his first mate to have a hand at the wheel.

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Some more of the crew

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Look at me getting all fancy with my mad photo editing skills


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And the living really is easy

Last but not least: A beautiful, old house next door was demolished (sniff, sniff). Fortunately, I found comic relief seeing this lonely commode out there. I really, really wanted a photo of someone sitting on it. I am mature like that. I figure if I sat on it, it wouldn’t feel much different than my normal potty time when if my entire entourage doesn’t join me, in the very least my dog breathes heavily on my face.

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And I’m out. This is why you keep coming back, isn’t it? Because I leave you with a photo of a toilet.

It’s not easy being 2…

…as evidenced by the following series of photos. I had told Thomas he could help open my birthday presents (I am getting old and am okay with it). Everything was all hunky dory until Mary Elizabeth wanted to help, too.

He’s not too into this whole sharing thing.

Thomas’s face is priceless, and so are my expressions. I’m just trying to stay out of the way until Thomas starts attacking Mary Elizabeth’s hair. I wish I could compare my expressions here to how I might have looked when reacting to one of my earlier kids unleashing her wrath on a sibling. Having all these babies has definitely helped me to learn the whole “keep calm and carry on” thing, although the sibling squabbles do still get to me sometimes. I hate it when my kids are mean to each other. I tell them that I love each of them and don’t like to see any one of my kids get hurt physically or emotionally. It may be time to pull out Siblings Without Rivalry Its not easy being 2... again. For the record, it’s one of my all-time favorite parenting books.

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And I’m just sharing this photo because I just love the tender moment my husband caught between my soon-to-be 5-year-old and me. That girl’s always loving on me and telling me I’m pretty. I am so lucky to have her around. I’ve decided to homeschool her for kindergarten next year, so there will be no shortage of compliments. We once went around the dinner table and each had to share something we really appreciated about another family member, and I told M.E. I love the way she compliments others and notices them. Everyone else agreed this is a wonderful trait of hers.

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