Category Archives: humor

More About Guns: Daniel Boone

My second-grader has to write a book report, about a biography.

First of all, the kid just got into reading about two months ago, and now he loves to read, so I am not that happy that it has been made into a chore. How was it made into a chore? He was to take notes on sticky notes of all important events while he read, then transfer these to a notes chart. He now has to make a timeline of the person’s life and prepare a presentation for his class for next Monday.

Well. First he brought home a book about some soccer star, but the reading level was way above him, so I gently suggested something else, even a different book about the same guy. Then Max suggested George Washington.

I swear I was supportive of this. But at the library, I found a book about Daniel Boone at his reading level. I know George Washington is a fantastic historical figure, but Daniel Boone is pretty damn interesting, too. Max liked the idea.

And loved the book. He came out of his room the first day: “Mom! Did you know that when Daniel Boone was only 13 he could build a cabin with his bare hands and trap animals? And he helped the needy by giving extra furs to poor people?”

That’s my boy. But then we forgot about the sticky note thing (I thought he knew, so I didn’t mention it), so when he was several chapters in he had to go back and do all the sticky notes, which annoyed him, since he can’t exactly just skim the pages just yet, so I helped with that, and then he was on his way for the rest of the book, doing his own sticky notes and then making the notes chart.

All kinds of cool things happened to Daniel Boone: when he was a kid he went missing, and when a search party found him two days later he was calmly cooking his (hunted) dinner over a fire he’d built; he sold enough furs to buy his family a lot of land; his daughter was kidnapped by Indians (the book is obviously a little old, and I explained to Max the difference between Indians and Native Americans and why Native Americans here used to be called Indians), and Daniel saved her; and then in a war he got shot in the ankle; and one time he rode a horse so fast and too far and it died. Max was so into this book and this guy (and me too, frankly).

The teacher sent home some examples of creative timelines: a keyboard for George Gershwin, for example, and a cherry tree for (yawn) George Washington. So what is a key fact about Daniel Boone, the frontiersman? He learned to hunt at an early age and was such a sharpshooter that as a youth, people joked he could shoot a tick off a bear’s nose from 300 feet, so his rifle got nicknamed “Tick Licker.”

So if you’re going to make a creative timeline about Daniel Boone, do you draw a trap? A pelt? A log cabin? Or a rifle? (Probably a Kentucky long rifle, because yes, I looked into it, since I have been asked to draw the thing.)

Yeah. So my child will be bringing a big paper rifle into school on Monday, with 17 fascinating events from Daniel Boone’s life marked on it. And I fully support this.

What do you think? Good idea, because my son is really engaged with this book? Bad idea, because we are really jumpy about guns and schools right now? Tell me in the comments!

Does My Body Look Strange to You?

The Marathon Jacket. Every year, Adidas and the B.A.A. (that’s Boston Athletic Association, for you people who somehow aren’t Boston Marathon aficionados) comes out with a new official Boston Marathon jacket, which is an awesome, hard-earned thing.

Sure, they can be spotted at outlets after the race, but does it really count to wear it if you haven’t crossed the finish line? For many runners I know, the answer is a resounding, “No!” I’m thinking back to my old friend and running partner Tom, who tried and tried but kept missing the qualifying time by 58 seconds (I’m not kidding — 58 seconds, less than a minute). This is a guy who did speedwork, who had a running coach, who was fast and fit and worked hard.

“But I just want the jacket!” he moaned, only half-kidding, after one of his last attempts when we were still running together. It was unspoken: You can’t wear the jacket if you don’t run the race.

I loved it last year — a glorious orange, with blue details. This year it’s a bold purple, with orange details. I like it. I’ve asked around about the best course of action; apparently they sell out of some stores before the race, and other stores get them off the racks pretty fast after Patriot’s Day (when the storied race is run, for those of you who somehow don’t know this). For logistical reasons, I need to buy mine before the race, but I’ll keep the tags on and won’t wear it until after I cross that finish line (and I will probably be crying when I do, because that’s what I seem to do these days when I race, and also I was downtown today near the finish line and got all teary-eyed telling the kids that I’d be crossing it about a month from now; running-wise I’m kind of an emotional mess these days).

But I wanted to try it on, at least, so we popped into Marathon Sports near the finish line and I grabbed a women’s medium, because I’m a women’s medium in almost all things.

Tight shoulders. What? The rest fit perfectly, but the shoulders! Couldn’t move my arms. I tried a large. “That’s way too big on you!” called my husband from across the store.

I tried a men’s medium. Enormous and long. A jacket-dress! I tried a men’s small. Excellent…except tight in the hips. WHAT???

I’m not sure if I have abnormally wide shoulders or a huge butt or what, but I think my proportions are pretty normal. Is the jacket sizing always like this? What do medium-sized women runners with bigger shoulders (i.e., I do burpees and push-ups sometimes) do? What’s my size in this jacket?

I’m going to figure out it, because I cannot WAIT to wear it.

What Your Mom Did in High School

We went out to dinner last night. We don’t usually, as a family. But we’d had a long fun day of potluck and kickball with friends. Max and Ben were the only kids at the party. As far as I could tell, everyone was generally childless (and unmarried).

No matter. Kind running friends addressed and engaged my children. And then, later, while C and I were in the kitchen with Ben, Max wandered into the now-empty living room (because all parties happen in the kitchen) and when I glanced in to check on him, he was chatting with a previously-seemingly-introverted guy about sports.

Yes. My six-year-old had just struck up a conversation with a grown-up and didn’t need us at all. I kept checking on them, but Max was holding his own and seemed quite confident and comfortable, and the guy was getting used to having a child talk to him and was responding. I mean, they were actually having a dialogue. This is the child who used to need me nearby at all times. I guess he’s gotten quite socially confident (and I am so proud of him).

Then we all headed to a nearby park for the kickball game. Max tossed a Frisbee with C and some other adults until the game got going (and have I mentioned C sometimes take the boys to a nearby pickup Frisbee game, so Max has some skills now?).

After the first inning, Max decided he wanted to pitch for our team, and no one minded. I did mention we were with a bunch of childless adults who probably aren’t used to being around kids, right? He pitched just fine, and he played just fine, and while some people were a little lenient with him, others had no problem tagging him out, and he did not mind at all. He loved every minute of it. (Ben, on the other hand, hadn’t worn proper socks and wanted to play on the playground and not be in the game at all. He kicked once and gave up. Maybe next year!)

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So then we went home to warm up and read books until dinnertime, and we decided to go to the Kirkland Tap and Trotter for dinner. I love that place, even though I’ve only been there once. They know food. Yes, I met the chef/owner’s wife in a new-moms class years ago, and she’s wonderful, but I have no vested interest in this place except they know food, source it well, prepare it well, and are brave and confident and curious with it (the chef, Tony Maws, has another restaurant, too, Craigie on Main).

When you enter, there’s a hint of excellent beer in the air, and the scent of smoky pork (this could be due to the entire pig(s) they’d roasted or smoked the previous evening for their New Year’s Eve party, with Facebook photos of the before-oven pig).

It’s a comfortable place, with a big flat screen playing the Rose Bowl game, but the children sensed it was a Restaurant with a capital “R” and put their napkins in their laps as soon as I mentioned it. I didn’t order the grilled salmon head, which I’m dying to try, because I wasn’t in the mood. We tried the grilled oysters, though. I got a burger, which isn’t important except that Kirkland Tap is the only place in the entire world I trust to serve me a medium-rare (more rare than medium) burger.

So the kids are eating and watching the game and the marching bands come out. I tell them about how when I was a kid, I had to be in the high school marching band like my brothers, their uncles. And though their uncles played instruments, I didn’t like the clarinet—the instrument my parents had chosen for me—and I certainly didn’t like the clarinet teacher, so I quit clarinet lessons. But I still had to be in marching band, so I opted to be a majorette—a baton twirler. And, I told them, because I’d chosen it myself, I enjoyed it and was pretty good at it. I could spin the baton, toss it into the air while spinning below it, then catch it mid-spin and continue my routine.

They looked impressed. Then I pointed to the screen. “Look, guys, see the band marching in formation? They have play their instruments while marching backwards at an angle! And oh, here come the majorettes!”

They stared at the Florida University twirlers. Then Max asked, awed, “Did you wear your underwear and a sparkly bra when you were a majorette? Why aren’t they wearing clothes like the rest of the band?” I looked again at the screen. Crikey!

“No, honey,” I tried to explain. “I wore, uh, shorts and a long-sleeved top. But that’s a great question, why they don’t get to wear as much clothing.”

C jumped in to help. “They’re dancers, and they’re performing with their bodies. So they aren’t as covered up.”

The boys didn’t look convinced. But oh, hey, look, can we get the check, please? Thanks!

Why We Don’t Go to Musicals

(From the Department of “Guess Which of My Children Prefers Quiet”)

 

Child: [mentions dressing like Annie]

Mother: Do you mean Annie in your class or some other Annie?

Child: What other Annie is there?

Mother: There’s a musical called “Annie” about a girl named Annie. She’s an orphan, and then she’s adopted by a very rich man.

Child: What does she do then?

Mother: She sings a lot.

Child: Does the man get annoyed?

Mother: Why would he get annoyed?

Child: Because she sings a lot! Wouldn’t that be annoying?

A Llama Situation; How to Pet a Llama; Her Name is Belle

So you know when you’re just walking into a barn and your husband calls and you look up and say, “Hey, I gotta go” and he keeps talking and this thing in front of you has those weird scary bottom fangy teeth sticking out and its ears are backIMG_3607.JPG

and the small child at your feet, who just yesterday was SO HAPPY when you took him to the cookie bakery after school

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is starting to whimper, and you’re feeling a little nervous, too, because Fangy Ears-Back Llama-creature is coming at you

and the farmer walks by and says, “Oh, she’s fine, don’t worry, her name’s Belle,” and keeps walking

and it gets closer and you say into your phone, “LOOK, I HAVE A LLAMA SITUATION, I HAVE TO GO”

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(why is he still talking, why does he not understand, I’M HANGING UP NOW)

and you hang up and pick up the whimpering child and agree, when the child says he’s a little scared of the llama, that this is not the friendliest-looking animal you’ve encountered together

and you remember that every other time you’ve been here, the other farmhands have said to stay back from the llama, just give her some space

and outside the barn, away from those freaky teeth and flared-back ears

you ask the farmer about the llama. She’s very friendly, apparently, and likes kids, but she hates hands and hates being petted and hates being touched anywhere near her head and doesn’t like hands at all or anyone reaching for her and no, yeah, she likes chldren but do not reach for her or put your hands out or try to touch her

(ok, so, that would have been nice to know)

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But her name is Belle and she’s 25, really old for a llama, the youngest of 13 siblings, and her bottom teeth stick out to help her scrape bark from trees. And though she is free-range, she never crosses the road.

Small child and I bid her farewell and then I let him pick out almost anything he wanted at the farm store, which amounted to asparagus and celery, because I said no to the $7/pint blueberries.

And that was our Saturday morning llama situation.

The Most Ridiculous Week

I’m on the living room floor, crutches next to me, water bottle just out of reach. The front door is flapping open, the sick four-year-old is on the futon with the iPad, and I have no idea how I will feed us lunch.

Our refrigerator died on Monday. The parts were supposed to be in today but the repair guy can’t come until tomorrow, Friday. I had to throw out so much food. We rented a mini-fridge that freezes everything solid, and I transferred the piles of vegetables from our CSA out of our overflowing produce drawers and into two coolers.

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No, seriously, this is my kitchen right now. With a rented mini-fridge and a towel on the floor for any last drippings from the defrosting failed freezer.

Needless to say, packing lunches this week has been tricky at best. I found bagels in the freezer and used the last of our cream cheese on them for the first day. I bought sliced turkey, but it froze solid in the mini-fridge (Plan B: Shredded cheese and baby carrots, failed because the cheese had gone bad when the big fridge died, and the baby carrots had frozen solid in the mini-fridge; Plan C: Hummus, also too late to save it; Plan D: Granola bar and apple, and good luck, kid). [And no, the kids can’t really buy lunch at school; it’s brought in by some private catering company and you have to pre-order and it’s expensive and just didn’t seem worth it. And nut butters aren’t allowed at school, and the kids hate sunbutter.]

Making dinner wasn’t too hard except there’s not much room for leftovers in the mini-fridge, and the veggie coolers are out of ice.

What a fantastic opportunity to really deep-clean the fridge!

What a fantastic opportunity to really deep-clean the fridge!

Then yesterday I finally made it to the orthopedist (both kids in tow, and yes, I shamelessly handed them the iPad and my phone for our full hour in the waiting room—-overbook much, doc?). Dr. Orthopedist promptly ordered an MRI and glanced at the kids. “Do you have any more of them at home?” he asked me.

“No,” I replied, “just these two.”

“Good, because you’re going to have to be on crutches for the next six weeks. Maybe just four weeks, if it’s a stress reaction instead of a fracture, but I think it’s a stress fracture. I mean, obviously you’ll need to make an exception to shower, but otherwise, no weight on the leg.”

He stepped out of the room to write the script for crutches, and I started to cry. See, my leg has been hurting a lot, more and more, and even walking a mile really bothers me. Spinning class hurts. It’s been feeling bad, but since my soft-tissue person thought it was just some tightness, I didn’t think I should worry about it or think about it much. Yeah, it hurt all the time, more and more, but since no one said anything was wrong with it, I was learning to live with it.

It’s nice to finally have verification—even before the MRI has been done—that something is actually probably quite wrong. I can finally admit that my leg hurts! It hurts.

Then I emailed my husband and said that what with my leg and the refrigerator situation, we’d be having take-out tonight. There was no way I was going to try to deal with making dinner. He offered to come home by dinner time and pick up the food on his way. YES PLEASE.

Then—-because oh yes, it gets better—Ben was sick all night, tossing with a fever and wheezing. I tried to imagine how I’d manage school drop-off, trying to crutch up the steps carrying a sick 40-lb child, and I made the quick decision that it would not be possible. No, it would be possible, but for the love of god, I was going to take the day off. I asked C to drop off Max this morning.

And then—did you think we were done yet?—I got up after five fitful hours of “sleep” next to Sicky Coughy Wheezy Boy and remembered that I’d used the last of the coffee yesterday. As in, we’re out of coffee.

Poor sick little Lumpkins. He requested baby carrots, lemonade, and chocolate milk for breakfast. WTF, dear child.

Poor sick little Lumpkins. He requested baby carrots, lemonade, and chocolate milk for breakfast. WTF, dear child.

And then I made the oatmeal and tried to carry a bowl and yogurt and a spoon, while on crutches, to the dining room. We don’t have an eat-in kitchen, and the dining room doesn’t directly adjoin the kitchen. You have to go through the pantry to get from kitchen to dining table and back again.

This is Day 1. I have at least another six weeks of this. I ordered a rolling utility cart from Amazon to use to get food and dishes to and from the kitchen/dining room. There’s no other way to do it, unless I entrust the small children with plates full of hot food or hire a butler.

We’ll live on instant coffee until one of us gets to the store. We’re talking about getting me a handicapped placard for the car, for times when I have to go to the grocery store and won’t be able to hold the kids’ hands in the parking lot (thanks to crutches) and it would be safer for them if I could park as close to the door as possible. It feels like a weird reason to have a placard, though. Mostly I’ll be able to get around fine, but grocery shopping will be sort of more hellish than usual.

My kitchen is also more hellish than usual. I cannot summon what it will take to empty the dishwasher, reload it, and wash the other stuff.

My kitchen is also more hellish than usual. I cannot summon what it will take to empty the dishwasher, reload it, and wash the other stuff. Hello, TaskRabbit?

But today! Today Ben and I lay around all day, not doing much, and it was marvelous. And then my friend and I got into trouble for passing notes to each other (and cracking up uncontrollably, as a result) in our kids’ piano class. And then our friend/neighbor, to whom I gave most of our produce yesterday and also today’s CSA share for her to pick up, dropped off the best baba ganouj I have ever had, all smoky and silky, and a lovely salad, and I realized I haven’t really eaten fresh vegetables since Saturday, unless you count the aging celery stick I fished out of the melted ice in the cooler in the kitchen this afternoon. 

Enjoy the pictures of our squalid life right now. I am going to assemble my new cart now. Then maybe I can clear the dining room table, crutching along as I roll my little cart of dirty dishes to the kitchen, like some unfortunate lesser character from The Hunchback of Notre Dame or something.*

 

* I have no idea why I am in such a good mood through all of this. It’s just funny at this point.** I mean, to have everything kind of thrown down at once like this? It’s great. It really simplifies things, in a way. In a very messy and debilitating way.

** Also, maybe I’ll find a drive-through Starbucks tomorrow. I think the closest one is 12 miles away. Wonder if that is on my way anywhere.

 

 

 

 

The 10-Mile Smackdown: “Where Were You Today?”

Last Sunday I ran a race. 10 miles, very hilly. Road. The last time I ran 10 miles was in mid-December, and that was a mellow training run. I haven’t been doing much of any kind of distance lately, and I haven’t been running much at all (the past few weeks/months have been…ugly). I decided to view this as a training run, not a race.

Naturally my competitive self used a pace predictor to see what I could do, based on a race I ran a few months ago, had I trained for this one: 1:16 (a 7:42 pace). I knew that was highly improbable, given my current sorry training level and current extra weight (due to a bad case of “not running much,” etc.) but as I came in under 1:20, I’d be happy.

In the first mile, I gave up the “keep it mellow” idea and decided to run it as hard as I possibly could. It was a USATF race, and I wanted to help my running club make a good showing (hahahaha….more on this later). Oh, the hills! Oh, the ice! Seriously, you had to slow down hard around the turns, and the dirt road section was a total mince-fest just to stay upright at times.

I'm the beefy, bare-limbed one with the face of pain. / Photo Credit: Joe O'Leary

I’m the beefy, bare-limbed one with the face of pain. / Photo Credit: Joe O’Leary

I ran as hard as I could for 10 miles and crossed the finish line at 1:19 (a 7:54 pace, not my best but not terrible for my current state). My calves immediately seized up (hills!!). After collapsing over a sawhorse trying not to die (same as I did after my Mill Cities Relay leg, which I would totally link to, except apparently I did not post about it, but in that race, just two months ago, I ran 4.75 miles at a sub-7 pace as part of the winning women’s masters team), I sort of cowboy’d my way to the water station and gulped away. I say “cowboy’d” because I imagine that’s how a cowboy would walk after a nonstop three-day ride.

After I was able to walk again, and put on some layers, and eat (oh, such good post-race soup!), I said goodbye to a few members of my running club and caught my ride home.

And then later that afternoon I received an email from a pal in the running club, a speedy-fast woman I hadn’t seen at the race:

What happened today!  We missed you!  We needed you!  SRR MASTER’s women came in 3rd team but L——— had to score up from the Seniors category.  Hope everything is OK…

*Ahem.* That’s right. I was so slow she did not realize I’d been at the race! That’s not humiliating at all, nope. I had to email her back to let her know that I’d been four minutes too slow for my time to count for the Master’s team. Just under four minutes, actually. [L——-, by the way, totally kicks ass and I knew before the race not to even try to keep up with her.]

And just after that, because my humiliation was not yet complete, my husband asked me to help him with something in the basement, and — oh yes, I cannot make this up — I could not get up the stairs afterward (remember: hills). Husband and children watched in amusement as I clawed my way back up to the kitchen, whimpering.

Tuesday’s yoga class helped a lot, but still, I will be taking it easy for awhile until my quad and my calf feel better. Oh, and I obviously have a lot of work to do to get back in shape and get my distance and speed back up (because, you know, I was so slow she did not notice I was there, which I think is hilarious).

Oh, in other exciting news, I was just selected to be a Fitfluential Ambassador! More on that soon.

 

I Carried the Olympic Torch Today

No, really. I’d like to say that’s why I haven’t posted anything here in three weeks (you know, because I’ve been running across Siberia), but that’s not why.

But I did carry the Olympic torch today!

Here’s how it started. I was in a cafe, working, when this came through my feed:

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“Animals,” of course, refers to members of the Trail Animals Running Club, a local trail running group I’m part of. Everything they do is a blast, with great spirit and a sense of fun…and usually pretty hardcore, except when it’s not. So naturally my ears perked right up.

Like any responsible working person and mother, I turned to Facebook: “So….Would YOU go pull your kindergartner out of school early to help run the Olympic torch across the city?”

A resounding “yes!!” all around. Next step: Emailing the kindergarten teacher to see if he felt this was a legitimate reason to pull Max out of school early. He seemed to agree.

Tremendously exciting stuff, right? Carrying the Olympic torch through Boston on its way to Russia for the 2014 Winter Games?

Weirdly, I couldn’t find the torch schedule online, nor any mention of its coming through Boston. Well, I thought, they probably try to keep it low-key so they’re not overrun with mad crowds.

I checked Facebook again.

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OK. This sounded like the real deal.

I realized Ben might feel left out if Max and I had this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity without him, so I called his preschool to discuss picking him up early. The timing worked out. But when I got there, they’d been explaining to Ben about the Olympics, and he seemed to think I was picking him up so that I could ski and dive in competition. I chattered on about how this torch was going around the world, all the way to Russia, and how it had been to the bottom of the sea and up in space (no, really, it did go the International Space Station!).

With both boys and the stroller and a pile of snacks in the car, we headed to Fenway Park. For the first time in weeks, I was not late for something. I was, in fact, 45 minutes early. So what!

I made sure the kids were bundled up in snow pants, winter coats, boots, mittens, etc., since it was about 24 degrees out. Then we spotted the Red Sox mascot, this green creature named Wally, standing in front of a big group of people. I assumed it was a Fenway Park tour. Then Wally started jogging down the street carrying a plastic-looking thing.

“Look, kids,” I said. “He’s holding a fake torch. We’re waiting for the real one to come by, and we’ll run with that one.”

Wally overheard me and pointed to his torch.

“What?” I said. “That’s the real torch?” He nodded vigorously. “Ok, kids,” I said, wheeling the stroller around to chase him, “Here we go!”

Wally and the crowd headed into Fenway Park. I spotted four runners waiting outside. I nodded to them, hesitated, and then followed the crowd in.

The other runners followed me. We walked right past the security guy like we were part of the main group. Then we were on the infield, near third base. Wally and the crowd posed for photos; it was clearly a hand-picked crowd.

Yes, it was very cold.

Yes, it was very cold.

Wally, the torch, and the hand-picked crowd were behind me, getting their pictures taken.

We wandered out again and I found/met Sam, the TARC guy, and realized I’d met him on a long trail run a year or so ago. He’s a fast local ultra-runner who, when he himself isn’t racing, does things like pace friends for 58 miles of their 100-mile races. No, really.

Then we met a guy who seemed to be in charge, and I found out the real story of our mysterious Olympic torch-carrying. Gary, who’d put out the original summons to runners, works for Avaya, the company handling all of the telecommunications/network for the 2014 Olympic Games. The official Olympic torch is actually several; it’s not a single torch that is carried from Greece to the games site. Several different ones are used. So…the Olympic Committee, or Russia, or whoever handles the used torches, sent one of the used-in-the-official-Olympic-torch-relay torches to Avaya as a thank-you.

Avaya, for their part, sends the torch around the country, where it is photographed in various locales and at different events. Today in Boston, the torch* was to be photographed at Fenway Park, then at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Logistics of driving it there were not working out (parking, traffic, etc.), so the company had the brilliant idea of asking one of its employees, a diehard runner (Gary), to run it there. Wanting to make it a fun event, Gary put out the word to local runners he knows, who put out the word…

So there were maybe 10 of us there to run with him.

Except instead of running at 3:30 p.m. as planned, we waited…and waited…and waited…

Milling Runners

Milling Runners

Turns out that due to some miscommunication, the torch had accidentally been driven over to Boylston Street after all. Oops! So after a few phone calls, it was supposedly on its way back to Fenway.

This took an hour.

Finally, torch in hand, we headed out to run the mile from Fenway Park to the finish line. Except now it was getting dark.

No matter. We started running. We all took turns carrying the torch. It wasn’t lit, because after our run it would be dropped into its shipping box, brought to FedEx, and delivered to Detroit, its next destination. Someone (I will not name any names) joked about how Detroit would probably sell it to pay its debts. Anyway…So FedEx doesn’t like to ship flammable items, or items that have recently been filled with a flammable liquid.

That thing is heavier than it looks. Everyone had a chance to carry it, including both Max and Ben. As we ran down Boylston, Gary started announcing to the people we passed, “Olympic torch! Olympic torch from Sochi!” As we were a small band of mismatched runners with no papparazzi, no one seemed impressed. At one point, in fact, I worried people might think we had stolen the Olympic torch…or else were just insane.

We got to the Boston Marathon finish line. When there was a break in traffic, we took some pictures on the finish line, in the middle of the street. The official photographer never made it, as far as I know. We eventually left, as it was the kids’ dinnertime, and they were getting cold, and it was just time to go.

Me with the actual Olympic torch, at the finish line of the Boston Marathon

Me with the actual Olympic torch, at the finish line of the Boston Marathon

Though Ben was mad that we left the scene; he wanted us to run with it to Russia, even though I tried to explain this torch had already BEEN to Russia.

And that, in short, is how I came to carry the Olympic torch through Boston.**

 

*This is the actual path of the actual relay: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Winter_Olympics_torch_relay.

** I’ll spare you the part about how one child was crying from cold feet when we reached the car, and how the other was really hungry, and the first one was too cold to be hungry, and it was then dinnertime and we were firmly stuck in rush-hour traffic in Boston, and I decided to “beat the highway traffic” by driving crosstown through Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville (not any faster, but we got to see some lovely Christmas lights!), and I realized we had nothing for dinner at home….but really, you have heard enough by now. We carried the Olympic torch.

 

 

How to Sleep

“Lie on your side, facing me,” Andy said. He’s my physical therapist. I’ve been having some back problems (nothing too exciting, nothing too damaged). “We didn’t talk about this last time, but what position do you sleep in?”

“On my stomach,” I said.

He started to explain how this was problematic even for people who don’t have back problems, because turning to the head to the side for so long can really torque the thoracic vertebrae.

“Um, well, it’s not all night,” I said. I pictured a typical night: I start out alone in bed, on my stomach. C comes to bed an hour later; there’s some shifting around. A few hours after that, Max or Ben climbs in with us, and I sleep on my side, curled around the child. Another hour or two, another child climbs in, and I end up on my back between them.

This is hard to explain to someone, especially if that person gets to enjoy going to bed alone or with one other person and waking up in similar conditions.

“Here,” said Andy. “If you’re on your side, you want your pillow height to be like this” — he tucked a thicker pillow under my head — “and you can also roll up a towel lightly for under your neck, like this” — and he gently put a rolled-up thin towel under my neck. Then he studied me.

“And to support your lumbar spine, you can put another folded towel here. Lift up,” he commanded, and he slipped a folded towel under my waist. “And of course this is important, too,” as he slid a pillow between my knees.

I lay there for a minute, envisioning sleeping in such a supported fashion. It was nice.

“You can also hug a pillow in your arms to further support you and keep you from rolling forward,” he said.

“Oh, if I am on my side, I’m usually leaning on the small child in front of me. So I tend not to roll forward,” I said.

Andy nodded.

“And sometimes there’s another child right behind me, so I don’t roll back.”

Andy’s expression indicated he probably didn’t experience this kind of thing. “Let’s talk about sleeping on your back,” he suggested. “So if you roll onto your back, you’d remove this” — he pulled the pillow from between my knees, the other from my arms, and the folded towel from under my waist — “and you’d want a thinner pillow, more like this one” — he replaced the pillow under my head — “and you might want a different or smaller rolled towel under your neck. You can even put it inside the pillowcase, taped to your pillow, so it’s always in the same place.”

I lay there in the new position, thinking about the other night, when I woke up at 3 a.m. to find Max hogging my pillow. I’d lifted my head to pat what I was using as a pillow and realized it was Ben’s butt. Ben didn’t seem to mind, and I couldn’t move Max off of my pillow, so I’d put my head right back down on Ben’s butt and went back to sleep.

“So give this a try,” Andy continued. “Either on your side or on your back, with these supports.”

I will. I will indeed. As soon as the kids leave for college.

So Do You Speak English, or Don’t You? My Curious Kid Might Lack Manners.

C took the kids to the grocery store today, because I was working. Max heard people speaking something other than English.

“What are they speaking?” he asked C.

“French,” said C. “Why don’t you go near and listen?”

Max stood right in front of the couple and stared up at them, frowning in concentration. They looked at him and then at C, who gestured that Max was trying to listen to their language.

Max finally said something to the man.

“I don’t speak English,” the man replied.

“Yes, you do!” said Max. “You just spoke English!”

The man shrugged, not comprehending.

Max was a little confused, too.

I confused the locals (and myself!) when I memorized the phrase, “I don’t speak Icelandic!” before our trip to Iceland this summer. It’s really not the most useful phrase in the book, when you think about it.