Monday, May 26, 2008

You Set It Paperback Challenge

I'm giving myself summer homework. Of course, since it's self imposed, it should be fun, right? So I'm joining this challenge and choosing books that aren't listed for any other challenges. I need to read one for June, July and August in order to be successful. I want to read The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon, The Sea Lady by Margaret Drabble, and Mademoiselle Victorine by Debra Finerman.

Raved-About Reads Challenge

I don't always read things that have been raved about by others since the hype tends to guarantee that the book won't live up to my expectations. But I'm willing to give this challenge a try. I've only listed the couple from the suggestions list that I already own even though it's a perpetual challenge and I'll likely add more as time goes on. So here's the list:

1. The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant
2. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
3. The Usual Rules by Joyce Maynard
4. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
5. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
6. Kartography by Kamila Shamsie

And or anyone wanting to play along at home, find the challenge here: Raved About Reads Challenge .

Well-Rounded Challenge

Another challenge I couldn't resist signing up for (like there are any I can resist!). This one asks that I read 6 (or more) books I'm already supposed to be reading for other challenges. Should keep me honest, right? Anyway, I'm up for it. Here's my tentative list:

1. Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga (Africa Challenge and 1% Well-Read Challenge)
2. Blue Valentine by Alison Tyler (Casual Reading Challenge, What's in a Name Challenge, On the Porch Swing Challenge, TBR Challenge alternate)
3. The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant (I Heard It Through the Grapevine Challenge, TBR Challenge)
4. Singular Intimacies by Danielle Ofri (Medical Madness Challenge, Non-Fiction Five Challenge)
5. The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken by Laura Schenone (Non-Fiction Five Challenge, The Pub 2008 Challenge)
6. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (Book Awards II Challenge, Young Readers Challenge)

Book Awards II Challenge

I sort of unofficially participated in this one last go round (found it late and couldn't sign-up) but I still have a whole load of award winning books to read so I thought I'd play along officially this time. I'm not sure what books I'll be reading off the list, but I have some time to figure that out. If you're interested in playing along, you can find the challenge here: Book Awards II. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 24, 2008


It's been almost 13 years since I got married. My husband would say that it's been 13 years of bliss. Of course, he lives with me and knows how unpleasant I can be if he doesn't say that! Since he's home for the long weekend, we took advantage of being in the same state to have a nice kid-free anniversary dinner. Tradition says that I generally get him nothing but he gets me something (is it any wonder I keep him around?!). So I got into the passenger seat of the car to find a guide to London and a Barnes and Noble gift card waiting for me. (He also knows the way to my heart.) When I saw the London guide, I said, "Really?" because a trip to London was supposed to be our 10th anniversary trip but we didn't go, having to buy a house here instead. His response? "I thought next year. But you can get prepared for it with the book." After I stopped laughing, I told him he's the only person in the world who can get away with giving me the same, undelivered on present twice. At least the bookstore will be seeing me for sure in the next few days. :-)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Almost time for re-training!

I woke up to a most unpleasant event this morning. My husband, who only arrived home last night for the long weekend, left the toilet seat up in the bathroom. Methinks he's been living alone too long and needs some serious re-training! Amazing how quickly they revert, really. He'll be mowing the waist-high grass sometime today as penance (I've been too busy to get to it and too cheap to hire someone else to do it).

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Looks like another whiny entry for my blog. I promise to have an upbeat one (or at the very least simply a book review) soon to make up for this "woe is me."

I had hoped that running would be the thing I could use to help me cope with stress, instead of comfort eating my way to a ridiculous weight but that's not working, at least not right now. Mac and cheese, on the other hand, felt good initially and now feels like a brick in my stressed out, nauseated gut.

What has me developing an ulcer, you ask? Well, our realtor tells us we'll be "lucky" if we only lose 80K on our house. Oh yeah, we can afford that, no problem. ::gag:: Then, I'm already feeling rough around the edges because of this when 6 year old T.'s soccer coach gives him a lecture about who the coach is simply because T. trotted out on the field saying it was "J.'s turn to kick the ball." Yup, my kid unselfishly trying to make sure his buddy gets the kick in he didn't get to make before their string was pulled after the previous 4 minutes certainly deserves a talking to about who makes the decisions on the field. I strongly suspect that the coach doesn't like me a whole lot and that's reflecting on his reactions to T. (who can be a little pain in the rear, as I'm first to admit). Who's the grown-up here? And finally, because you should have a minimum of three things before your stomach acid ramps up appreciably, a friend told me today that after a PTO meeting, one of the women implied something not terribly nice about me and she (my friend--although more on that designation later) as good as said that my scrip partner was stabbing me in the back. What in the heck am I supposed to do with information like that? I know that my partner wasn't saying what she was credited with saying as she blind cc'd me on all e-mails on the topic but I called her to tell her that the controversy hadn't gone away. More stuff happened but long story short was that the original friend who told me all of this proceeded to chew me a new one for telling my partner that the friend had told me anything, saying that I'd betrayed her, etc. I pretty much spent the rest of the day crying and am fairly certain I can now call her an ex-friend. Not a very nice feeling. The more I reflect on all of it, the more I want to just go ahead, lose the 80K, and just get the heck out of Dodge. I'm pretty much done with being here. Yes, thank-you, I would like some cheese with my wine. Maybe some chocolate too.

(And mental note to self, quit volunteering for anything because the politics will kill you every time.)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

I hope all the mothers out there had a nicer day than I did. The only way it was Mother's Day around here was that, per usual, "Mother" did everything. First of all, my DH, having moved several states away (hence our upcoming move), did not come home for the weekend. We actually won't see him again until Memorial Day weekend. So no breakfast in bed for me (I don't like breakfast so this doesn't really bother me) and no carefully orchestrated celebration of me (like this ever happens!) but most importantly, I could not escape for some peace and quiet (*this* was indeed the day's hardship). My kids didn't wish me a happy day (and they are currently yelling at each other again) even after my mother coached them over the phone. As a matter of fact, T. asked me, "Is it really Mother's Day?" "Not so's you'd notice," was probably not the proper response. My running group, busy enjoying the day with their more clued-in families, didn't meet so I had to run alone. At least I beat the rain. We had a house showing today so we had to be out of the house from 2:30-3:30. See above about the rain so we couldn't go to the park and we couldn't call any friends and impose on them because of this Hallmark holiday. :-P So I spent my Mother's Day cleaning the house, driving aimlessly to keep us out of the house for an inconvenient hour, and feeling sorry for myself. To add insult to injury, my period arrived a full week early. Apparently I have incredibly bad karma right now.

I will admit that it wasn't all bad. The smallest child gave me a heart-shaped plaster of paris handprint. As he's in kindergarten, his hand is a little big for this craft and the finished product is missing his middle finger (should be right in the middle of the top of the heart). I guess missing it is better than him giving me the finger. He also dictated a heartfelt card that included the sentiment that he loves me because I don't yell too much. Hmmm. I've also snookered him into thinking I really do like to watch the kids' sports. Good; at least T. hasn't noticed I haul a book to every event I must attend, even if R. and W. know. From R., I received a hasty assembled card and a very colorful origami swan. I should probably ignore the fact that all art supplies used to make this were not put away or cleaned up (small confetti-shaped pieces of paper clippings look good scattered all over the kitchen floor before a showing, right?!). As for W., well, the oldest gave me confirmation that he's headed towards puberty like a freight train. He actually "got" me nothing but in an "it's the thought that counts" kind of way he shared that he almost got me a new cell phone. Now before you think this is sweet, please know that the truth will always out. He heard an advertised deal for two cell phones for the price of one and figured if he got me one, I'd be so grateful for a better phone than I currently have (actually I don't care one way or the other about phone features/capabilities) that I would give him the other one, thereby fulfilling his long-held wish for his own cell phone. He's going to be a challenge, that one.

Ah well, tomorrow's another day, right?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Mupdate #1

As per my coach devised training schedule, I dutifully started the training for what is clearly going to be known as Kristen’s folly around here. I’m such a quick study, I’ve already learned some important things both about myself in general and about me running (I was going to just say running rather than qualifying it as “me running” but I suspect I’m such a ding-a-ling that it’s not particularly universally applicable).

First: I’ve been told this adventure will change my life. While I don’t doubt that in the slightest, I’m wondering if I get to pick in which way it changes me. I’m just shallow enough to hope that it changes the obnoxious muffin top and corresponding kangaroo pouch around my middle that I have, rather disingenuously, been calling “baby weight” for over 6 years now. Other more noble changes would be fine too but that cosmetic one is high on my list.

Second: I sweat like a boy. OK, I’ve known that one my whole life (gee thanks, dad!) but getting out there every day and running just reinforces it. When I ran only twice a week, it was easier to ignore because I chalked it up to being a weekend warrior. Nope. I’m a full on gross mess. No “lightly glistening” thing going on here. Makes you all want to see me during/after a run, doesn’t it? Another interesting observation about sweating: pulling my hair up in a pony tail, while cooler on my neck, means lots more sweat runs into my eyes and boy howdy does that sting! Must come up with a solution to that one before the actual race. Oh, and any offers to work as a launderer will be gratefully accepted. ;-)

Third: I am very definitely a social runner. This one surprised me because I am an introvert (those of you who have ever tried to get me to do something social are not surprised by this fact, are you?). But I cheerfully run long(er) distances when I get to talk the entire time than when I have to occupy my own head. Just imagine my internal conversations and you probably aren’t surprised I cut solo runs shorter than group or paired runs. On the flip side, solo runs do give me a lot of time to come up with good one-liners. If I ever remember them by the end of the run, I may start a new career as a wildly successful stand-up comedian. Oh, and about the chattering thing—I guess I see where T. “I like to hear myself talk” K. gets it now. Maybe that’ll make me more tolerant toward his constant nattering. OK, probably not.

Fourth: Having a good cause to work towards has made me more capable of approaching people, asking for favors, and public speaking. All of this is completely and totally out of character for me. I do plan to revert to being napkin-shredder in the corner aka hermit girl once this is all over so this is a temporary thing but fascinating to me nonetheless. I mean, I even took advantage of the lights going out at my tennis league the other day to announce my marathon and to show people where I was putting copies of my original letter asking for donations. Not only did no one take advantage of the dark to swat me with their tennis racquet but about half the letters I left there were taken and one tennis buddy has already donated! Of course, once the lights went back on, knowing I was a runner, they all expected me to be willing to run for any and all balls (“You wanted me to get that lob?!”).

Fifth: I am truly built for plodding, not for speed. But the tortoise wins the race so there’s hope for me yet. Despite my penchant for quitting early on solo runs, I really do feel like I’m just starting to settle into a good place at about 2 ½ miles into a run. Given that I’m generally only running 2-3 miles a day right now, that doesn’t mean much easy, mechanical running but hopefully bodes well down the line. I’m hoping that as some weight comes off, some speed will magically appear. If not, I’ll just focus on the fact that I have always been an Energizer bunny of an athlete: keeps going and going and going. And as one of my running buddies says, “Anyone can run a marathon in 3 hours, it takes a special kind of person to keep going for 6 or 7 hours.” My mama always told me I was nothing if not special!

Sixth: I am getting old and have the associated aches and pains but they somehow feel earned if I feel them after running as opposed to after sitting on the couch. The good news is that they don’t feel any worse after running than they do after sitting on the couch and the running earns me the opportunity to ease them with some ice cream (yeah, I know, it’s no wonder I still have the “baby weight”).

Seventh: I have some wonderful friends and acquaintances. Not only are people happy to donate to a great cause (of course!) but you are all really rooting for me. That, my friends is a bigger rush than any rush I’ve ever gotten from running. (OK, that feels a little Sally Field-ish: “You like me! You really like me!" But true nonetheless.)

I imagine as time goes on, I’ll learn even more important things about myself and I hope you don’t mind if I share them. If you do, well, you’ve got a delete button, right? It feels like this should be a communal journey so I fully intend to drop something into your inboxes every once in a while, after all, who else in your life is letting you be an armchair marathoner this spring/summer/fall? As Bartles and James used to say, “Thanks for your support.” (Yes, a wine cooler quote and Sally Field all in one post. What can I say? High-brow culture is just my middle name.)


Still need to donate to my run? Go to and find out how.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Team in Training reminder

For those of you who haven't donated to Kristen's grand folly yet, here's your first reminder. You can read all about my crazy marathon running idea at: or the last April post here at my blog. I'm not running until Oct. 19th but my fund raising must be done before that so quit procrastinating and donate now!!!

P.S. Anyone wanting to bet on whether the screw in my foot will hold up through the adventure, contact my mother. I think she's betting against it but is still maternal enough not to tell me so. I'm working on convincing her that the odds aren't in her favor so she should just donate to the run instead. (Sorry mom, I know you're going to donate so I'll quit picking on you now!)


I got my first speeding ticket in 20 years today. And unfortunately, I totally deserved it. Perhaps because I didn't argue or cry (he said it was because of my otherwise exemplary driving record), the police officer gave me an "impeding traffic" fine instead of speeding so I don't get any points on my license and as long as I pay the fine (again, no argument here), the whole incident disappears off my record in 20 days. Here's hoping that means insurance doesn't hear about it (and since he handed back my insurance card before even writing the ticket, I think it might mean that).

Once he handed me my ticket, he stood and talked to me about dogs (Miss Daisy was in the front seat--yes, I drive Miss Daisy) for about 5 minutes. It was a nice chat but a tad embarrassing as his lights were flashing behind me the entire time and given that I was on the way to pick up T. at kindergarten when he pulled me over, I suspect all the kindy moms now know I have a terrible lead foot. I'm the scandal of the kindergarten. ;-)

When I called hubby to tell him, he just laughed at me, especially when I told him I was rather pleased when, after giving me back my license, the police officer said, "You must have lost weight since you got this license." I agreed that I had (almost 60 pounds in fact) and he agreed saying that he noted my weight when writing out the ticket and was just sure I couldn't weigh that much. Then he congratulated me on the weight loss. Too bad he didn't settle for warning me instead of fining me but I guess I should just be happy I got a reduced charge and a compliment out of the deal!

Life with a House for Sale

Every time we get ready to move, I have to revisit the same darn things I did last time. And inevitably I forget some of the more pertinent info. So in an effort to help all of you, here are some truths about life with a house on the market:

1. Your clothes will be perpetually wrinkled. It never fails that you have a load of laundry in the washer and/or the dryer when people want to come through your house. So they sit in the washer/dryer for a very long time waiting for you to be allowed back into your own home. And if you are lucky enough to get them folded before you leave, note that you will definitely not have time to put them away so they will live in their laundry basket in your car for days at a time after the showing(s).

2. People only want to see your house after your vacuum cleaner has self-destructed and caused a noxious burning smell to permeate everything in the house: walls, carpet, clothes, etc. If the vacuum doesn't die, something else will smell hideous just to make sure this rule isn't skipped.

3. You will get fat while trying to sell your house. Corollary to that, the people at McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's (add in any local fast food chains as well) will be able to put your order in for you before you even reach the counter. Try not to blush when they greet you like Norm was greeted on Cheers as the other dine-in guests will surely stare at your sorry (and fat) self.

4. You will happily defect to the parenting dark side (all credit for this statement of truth goes to Aimee, incidentally). You will encourage your children to forsake toys and books, which can make messes and be left out, for tv, which only has to be switched off at the moment's notice you've been given for your showing. yes, that's right: you no longer feed them nutritious food *and* you park them in front of the tv for all their waking hours. They get as fat as you do when your house is on the market.

5. It is officially illegal in several states (at least all those I've lived in) to sell your house before you are caught naked by at least one realtor and potential buyers. My theory on this is that the frightening sight of me naked makes it simply impossible for them to scrub the memory of my house from their brains. Now that we've gotten that requirement out of the way for this house, here's hoping it sells.

6. You will inevitably forget where you buried St. Joseph so that on the off chance he actually intercedes on your behalf you will not be able to follow through and dig him up to put in pride of place in your new home, leading to incredibly bad ju-ju when you go to sell that one (I mean, just how many times will a guy forgive you for leaving him buried upside down and 3 inches down? Looking on the positive side, you are contributing to some interesting archeological studies 500 years from now. Wonder just what cock-a-mamie excuse archeologists digging up all these Josephs will concoct to explain the veritable crop of small upside down saints in front and back yeard across America?

7. When your husband returns home for a weekend (once a month if you are lucky) he will make the biggest messes of all because he a) lives like a bachelor now and who cares that his apartment looks like a pig pit or has ants and b) he has forgotten that children, even those who try (and ours often don't fall into this category), are naturally crumb and spill producing. If you're lucky, he'll actually wipe up all crumbs instead of just sweeping them onto the floor but don't hold your breath.

8. Not that there is ever a good time for a pet accident, your pet will up the accident problem if the house is on the market. If you luck out, the dog will vomit *after* that day's showing, giving your clean-up efforts at least 12 hours to dry before the next showing. *Note that this does not mean the area will be dry but at least it won't squish when potential buyers step there. And corollary to #7, be prepared to find poop in little used corners of the basement because that bachelor husband of yours will forget that the dog requires walking and not do it for any of the hours you are off shuttling kids to their activities (and heaven forbid the dog stay crated while the unreliable adult is the only one at home).

These are just some of my recent observations but they seem to hold pretty true move to move. Now if everyone crosses their fingers, maybe this house will sell and I can stop worrying about all of the above (and I will make a concerted effort to find this Joseph since I'm sure we're already over our quota of abandoned saints).

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