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Month: October 2011

Halloween 2011

Halloween 2011

We may or may not have stayed up until after midnight every night last week putting these costumes together. Micah was the visionary. I was his intern (aka unpaid slave assistant) and did whatever he told me to do. I think it was a good sacrifice. Sleep vs. awesome costumes? Awesome costumes wins every time.

If you haven’t caught on, Simon is really excited about space these days. (And I am reminded of the boy who, 20+ years ago told me he was going to be an astronaut and he was going to marry me. I told him I hoped he got lost in space. I take it back now. I didn’t mean a word of it.) He told us months ago that he wanted to be an astronaut and he never wavered in his decision. Oliver was pretty excited about being the moon and was a great sport about wearing his costume during the important moments (although he did take it off during photoshoot #1 today). I’m counting my blessings and hoping the boys are always so firm in their costume decisions.

We had to have them done for the ward chili cookoff (and I had to bake a pie, make a pot of chili, and whip up some cornbread as well), which was Saturday evening. We had everything done and ready to roll 90 minutes before the party started. We thought we’d be “smart” and call a car to take us, our three boxes of stuff (costumes and food), and our two children to the church so we’d be there in time to enter our pie and chili into the contest. Well, long story short, we tried for 45 minutes to get a car without success and ended up walking to the train station with our stroller loaded up with boxes, Oliver on Micah’s back, me in heels (which I never wear), and sleet whipping our faces. We got there right at 5:00, had a great time, wowed everyone with our costumes, but didn’t win any awards. (Several people said we should have won something for our costumes, and I’m pretty sure my pie actually was the best one there — the judges didn’t pick it, but I know a couple of other unbiased people were shocked that it didn’t win, so I’m hanging on to the recipe for next year.)

And tonight we were ever so grateful for warmer temperatures and drier conditions than we had on Saturday. Oliver wore his costume like a champ. Simon made being an astronaut look as cool as it sounds. We trick-or-treated up and down one short street with some friends and that was enough for us. It was perfect. The best Halloween yet. Can’t wait to do it all over again next year.

ps Micah and I were mission control. Obviously. Someone has to keep the astronaut from stepping all over the moon, right?

thoughts on the ‘hood

thoughts on the ‘hood

We have lived in sketchy-ish parts of Brooklyn for over 4 years now. There have been gunshots, rapists, murders close by, an influx of police officers on street corners to keep the peace. But I have never really felt threatened or scared by where we live. Early on, I know, I felt a somewhat protective halo emanating from the baby I was constantly wearing on my chest. Later, I think I may have become somewhat immune to any feelings of danger or trouble, or so consumed in taking care of Simon and Oliver that I didn’t really notice it. I have felt somewhat stigmatized at times knowing that so many of our friends live in “safer” neighborhoods, and that many of them might not come to visit us because they don’t feel safe where we are, or that it is just too far away from them and too difficult to get here.

All of that has never really bothered me much. I think our neighborhood is just fine. It may not be the nicest, but I’ve never been someone who needs the nicest of anything. It may be a little bit sketchy, but perhaps that appeals to my sense of adventure. And living here has been fairly easy on our pocketbook as well, allowing us to save money and pay off our student loans quickly.

But in the past few months I’ve started to feel a little bit differently. Our neighborhood’s reputation has started to bother me. I’ve thought that maybe it would be nice to live somewhere where people don’t think the world is their garbage can. News stories regarding violence close by has troubled me more than in the past. While I still enjoy the diversity of the neighborhood, I am also feeling ready to move on. We need to live closer to more people like us. The boys need more playmates. I need more accessible friendships. We need to fit in a little bit better.

Perhaps I am thinking this way because we have begun the school-search process and we are planning to move in a few months anyway — still in Brooklyn, still in our ward, just to a place that has better schools. Knowing that another change is just around the corner has got me changing my perspective on what we have now. And some of it is probably because the boys, especially Simon, are much more outward-looking and don’t need my attention as constantly as they have in the past, so I am free to look around me more than I have been in the past. Having lived in this area for so long, I am a little wary of moving to a nicer area, where there are a lot more kids and the levels of anxiety about achievement and germs and helicoptering and organic, whole, pure foods are (in my opinion) somewhat ridiculous. I feel a little bit like we are abandoning ship when maybe we should be helping to keep it afloat.

I’m grateful we’ve been able to live here and I’m hopeful we’ll find a place — both an apartment and a neighborhood — that is better suited to us.

piquing his interest

piquing his interest

I told Simon about Harry Potter. I don’t remember exactly how it started. Something about how the funniest thing in the world would be if the train could move from one place to another. So I told him about how in Harry Potter, the staircases could move, even when people were on them. He laughed and laughed and laughed. So I told him about how in Harry Potter, people in pictures could move and wave at people outside the picture. And boy was that hilarious. We went on from there: chess pieces attack each other, cars fly, people travel through fireplaces, people can turn into animals . . . it was all pretty funny.

And now the boy is an expert. He’ll go on and on about Harry Potter. About how there is a man who is taller than everyone (which he learned from the girl at Child Watch at the Y), about how when people travel in fireplaces, they get sucked up and disappear, about how “there is a man that tried to do a magic thing but it would always explode.” (I’m not sure what that last one is . . . he heard it from someone else. Maybe he is talking about Hagrid again.)

He hasn’t read the books or seen the movies, and I assume it will be years before he does, but it’s kind of fun to pique his interest and to talk about it with him, if only just a little bit.

party party!

party party!

Oliver is either really lucky or really unlucky to have a birthday the day after his dad’s. Or maybe Micah is the lucky/unlucky one? It will probably change a lot as he gets older and starts to care more about his birthday, so maybe it is too soon to be making broad statements like that. But it is not too soon to talk about how this was the second year in a row that Oliver has had the chance to make two birthday wishes on two different cakes. The first cake, of course, was the remnant of his father’s cake. Last year that was because he was sick on his birthday and I didn’t want to make him a cake that he couldn’t eat, but I did want him to be able to blow out candles on his birthday. (Mother’s are so weird like that.) (Or maybe it’s just me that is so weird like that.) And this year it was because we wanted to save his birthday cake for his party the next day.

Enough about that. I know what you are really interested in is the cake. At least that is what Oliver was interested in, and that is what I would be interested in as well. So here it is (Micah did the shaping, I did the baking and icing):

We decided to go with a “transportation” theme because, well, the boy is 2 and that is all he cares about. I think I had nine cars, two planes, and two train cars in my bag at church today because, well, Oliver put them there. They make him happy. And so for his birthday we gave him another car (because we’ve found that with two boys, you can never have too many cars), and also somewhere to put them. Within five minutes of him opening the garage, all three of the children present had shed tears over it (not necessarily of joy, but definitely not of disappointment either — we’ll just say that they should have installed three elevators on that thing).

And that’s all I’m going to say about that. Oliver had a great day. Airplane cake and car stuff. What could be better? I hope we made his birthday wishes come true.

happy birthday to micah

happy birthday to micah

If you squint really hard, you can see thin, dark-haired Micah in this light(er)-haired little chunk of a boy that he was 30+ years ago. I love this picture for so many reasons, but mostly because it is of Micah, and I love Micah. Happy Birthday, Love.

(I think you’ll agree that his mother is a whiz with a sewing machine as she made the pants he is wearing — we used the leftover fabric to make Simon’s backpack.)

race weekend

race weekend

Some things that are good to know from our trip up to Hartford this weekend:

Our boys seem to be allergic to big chain restaurants. Or something. Seriously, they have now each thrown up when we’ve gone out to eat. I blame Oliver’s incident on Friday night on over-exuberance since he didn’t have any other symptoms and hadn’t really eaten anything, but still, puke on my jeans = not cool.

Our boys also came pre-programmed with the proper reaction when confronted with a hotel bed: jump on it. And wrestle on it. We had hardly put our bags down before they had climbed up on it and started jumping and attacking each other. So much fun.

Simon is one determined little kid. He’s been telling us for weeks that when we went to Hartford he wanted to run the longest kids’ race. They had a 50 yard, a 1/4 mile, 1/2 mile, and 1 mile. He used the run/walk method, but he had a great time (based on Micah’s account — I was running my race at the time). Oliver did the 50 yard, and although he seemed to get a little confused near the end, he did make his way across the line.

We are very grateful for the fact that we don’t have a car, and hence that we don’t go places very often. Traffic jams = torture.

Hartford is a really beautiful city. I heart New England. Especially New England in the fall. Come out and enjoy it with us sometime.

I can actually string together 26.2 (or 26.47) miles at a 7:40 pace. (The discrepancy in distance is likely due to two things: One, the race course is designed so that you can run no less than 26.2 miles, if you follow very strictly to it. But if you have to weave, or if you run on the other side of the street, or other such things, you add a little bit of distance, which adds up over 26 miles. Two, my gps watch may not have been entirely accurate.) More about my race at the Mother Runner, of course.

Micah is a champ. He got all three of us to our races and cheered us all on and wasn’t angry or upset that he can only run a little bit lest his knee injury flare up. I feel like a lucky lady all over again.

It is so amazing and rewarding to see the boys become interested and excited about running. And so funny to see how Manchild goes from a competitive, highly ambitious runner (he says he wants to run the fastest and beat everyone), to a little kid who is thrilled to be able to participate and to heck with winning.

I love having this thing that we do together as a family. Love, love, love it.

helping each other out: a cross-post

helping each other out: a cross-post

We’re leaving for Hartford in about an hour. We’re all packed and ready to go. I’m looking forward to finally being on the road. And I’m finally looking forward to running the race. Wish me luck!

Oliver woke up screaming at a little after 2:00 this morning. His cries came to me through my dreams, but it wasn’t until Simon started knocking on their bedroom door that I realized someone needed help. I ran to their room, turned on the light, and found the boys, wide awake, in their beds. Oliver was still screaming, of course, and Simon was as alert and chatty as if it had been 2:00 in the afternoon. I took Oliver out to sit on the couch so I could evaluate the problem. Too cold? I put some warmer pjs on him. Did he hurt? No, he insisted. Thirsty? No. Hungry? Yes. I got some crackers out to the cupboard, gave one to each of the boys, and sent Simon back to bed.

Oliver and I laid down on the couch with a blanket. He was calm and content now, but couldn’t stop squirming. Just as I thought he was settling into a position, he’d get up, crawl all over me, and try again. Over and over and over. I gave up. I thought he’d have just as good a chance falling to sleep in his own bed as he would with me next to him. I put him in his crib. He started crying. I thought I’d give him some time. Surely he must be tired. I went back to bed.

“Thanks for taking care of that,” Micah mumbled into his pillow as I collapsed next to him.

“Let’s not be too hasty. He’s still crying,” I said.

“I didn’t hear him at all.”

“It was the knocking that woke me up.”

A few seconds (minutes?) later the boy was still crying. Micah got up, got him out of his crib, and laid on the couch with him for the rest of the night.

****

This week I’ve been trying to imagine things about the race to get excited about. Mile markers, favorite songs, hills, etc. I’ve imagined myself feeling good, enjoying the weather (which is supposed to be just about perfect), and pushing myself through the hard parts. But still, I’ve been anxious about all of these things as well. That the hills will be harder than I imagined (especially the one at mile 25 . . .), the mile markers will be way too far apart, the weather will take an unexpected turn. And then I remembered that Micah and the boys will be able to cheer me on along the course. It won’t just be at the finish line that we meet up, but along the way as well. And when I imagine the boys yelling, “Go, Mom! Go!” or “Run faster, Mom!” (which I am well acquainted with) and see Micah holding their hands and smiling his encouragement, that’s when I really do get excited about the race.

Things may not go perfectly. I could trip. I could hit the wall. I might get leg cramps. But, even though I can’t foresee any of that, at least I know that they’ll be there to cheer for me. And after I’ve crossed the line, they’ll be there too. They’ll offer me a drink, some crackers, and a jacket to keep me warm.

we may have outdone ourselves on this one

we may have outdone ourselves on this one

Lasagna. And cake, not chocolate. Those were Abby’s requests when I asked her what I should make for her birthday dinner. So, we went to town. Micah did his awesome lasagna with homemade noodles, which, did I mention, was awesome? I will take credit for thinking to put it in the Pullman-loaf pan we just got from some friends who were moving. Deep dish lasagna where every piece is an edge piece. Does it get any better?

As for the cake, you have no idea how many options I considered. I have no idea how many options I considered. But I decided to do something seasonal: caramel apple cake. This might be slightly misleading because it was actually a white cake with apple filling and caramel icing, but it was totally delicious. Can you really go wrong with that much sugar and butter and cream? It’s okay though, because it has apples, too. And apples are good for you.

Should I mention the salted caramel ice cream? Oh, I think I just did. Um, really good. Really really good. Although I will say that the “salt” part of salted caramel was a little bit too salty. But that’s all the bad I can say about it. Except for maybe that it is taunting me from the freezer, but I’m off ice cream until after the marathon. Good thing it will totally be worth the weight wait.

it’s been nice knowing you, Sallie Mae

it’s been nice knowing you, Sallie Mae

But I think it’s time we parted ways.

Let it be known that on October 3, 2011 at approximately 11:00 post meridian, the Heiselt family of Brooklyn, New York freed themselves from the burden of student loan debt.

There will be no more monthly payments to Sallie Mae. There will be no talk of giving her any tax return money, either. She’s taken all she can get from us and we are done, free and clear, a mere 2 years 3 months after we started paying back the 10 year loans.

I said I didn’t want to be paying this back when Simon was in middle school, and we won’t even be paying it back when he is kindergarten. Hallelujah!

I would say that this calls for a celebration, but it’s late. We can celebrate another time, like maybe on Sunday, when we celebrate my sister’s birthday.* We like to be economical that way. Obviously.

*Just kidding, Abby! Sunday is all yours.