Sunday, February 28, 2010

What's New In The World Of Fleen?

I'll bet you have all been reading these past few posts and thinking," Wow. This is great. Kathleen had a good time on her trip. But what is she doing TODAY?"

And so today's post is going to catch you all up on this past week.

Let's see... when last I left you I had come home to find Nathan encrusted in vomit, and spent the night tending to him. (I know, I know, I'm being dramatic.)

The next day, Tuesday, went well, and Nate seemed to recover. I thought we were done with it, and went as far as to plan the rest of my week.

But Wednesday morning, Nicholas came down with it. It was spectacular. Especially the part where he ran down the stairs to tell me he was feeling ill, building to a never before seen run-puke-leap over it move that will go down in Olympic history.

Thursday the boys all seemed fine. I was sure, once again, that it was over. I even changed all the sheets in our house.

And then came Thursday Night. They predicted snow, but we got none. Instead, we got rain, and lots and lots of wind. I could hear it whistling and howling as I read my book. And then we lost power. If I did fall asleep, I was awakened by what sounded like a lighting crack. Actually, it was some trees being blown over in our yard. And then Nick ran into our room and threw up in our bathroom.

If a stomach bug is bad, then a stomach bug with no power is very bad. And two sick children with the stomach bug is very very bad, especially when one of them is Andy. Yes, Andy walked into our bedroom and tried to climb into bed with me and Steve and Nick, and when I picked him up he was covered in it. And his bed was a pool of sick.

Steve relocated to the couch, and I put towels down on our bed, and sat up all night staring at Andy and trying to guess if he was just breathing or about to vomit, and then cleaning it all up.

The next day was Friday, the last day of school vacation. We turned the generator on and hoped the lights would come on soon.

Saturday night was the night I was supposed to sing at the Coffee House. I really had been looking forward to this performance, but unfortunately one of the other singers lost her voice. We tried running through the songs but they really did sound awful, so I headed home to be with my family in the dark. No performance for me.

Actually, it was Serendipity at work, because fifteen minutes after the performance would have started I got hit with the stomach bug truck. And last night was my turn to be sick all night.

So today was Sunday. I skipped church. I skipped writing group. I took Nick to a birthday party and waited for him at the bookstore. We still have no power. I have six loads of laundry, most puke infested, waiting for the washer. Not including what's in the hampers.

And I know this is bad form, because there are people in this state with no generators. There are people recovering from 8.8 earthquakes out there. And we are still, all told, luckier than most. But... you know... who needs a boat in the Virgin Islands when we've got all this?

Not that I'm bitter. Or that I begrudge anyone anything. I don't. I'm just in awe of the timing.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Last Few Details

This is going to be the last of the Great Vegas Posts. Not because I lack material for another four or five posts, but because there is a lot going on here, in real life, in real time, and I feel I can begin posting about that tomorrow.

But there are a few Vegas details I would like to capture and mention to you, oh loyal reader not-on-the-boat.

First, here is a photo of the water show that took place every day and night in front of The Bellagio. We caught this show a few times, mostly during meals. They play music and the fountain does a dance routine to each song. It's an odd thing.

Also, I should mention the other show we got to see, V. The ultimate variety show. It really was a great show, and I'm not just saying that because we had great seats, or because Steve was picked on by the hosts of the show and then got to go onstage while they hurled high speed yoyos at his head.

Vegas is an odd place. There, in the middle of a flat flat desert, is a cluster of enormous buildings. It tricks the eye and makes you think everything is closer than it really is. For example, when the plane landed I looked over and saw the casinos and thought "Why take a shuttle? We could walk!" And yes. We could have. But we would have been very very tired.

Lillian had tried explaining the bus system before we left, and Steve had taken the monorail. But I am old fashioned, and insisted on walking everywhere (except the Rio). And let me tell you, these casinos are huge. But they blast music through speakers out to the sidewalks, which makes strolling much more pleasant. Also, many of them have moving walkways or escalators to aid you in crossing the street, or entering a building, such as their casinos where you will spend (loose) lots of money on blackjack. It's odd to see escalators outside. I still wonder what happens when it rains. Isn't it bad for them?

Finally, gimmicks and distractions are everywhere. Tigers, roller coasters, tip-top views... many places to drop an extra fifteen bucks. It's just that some are more thought out than others.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Penn & Teller

The show we went to see in Vegas was Penn & Teller. At the Penn & Teller Theater located at the Rio Hotel and Casino.

If you don't know Penn & Teller from their Showtime series "BULLSH!T," here they are:

Penn is the Big Guy. Teller is the little guy. Penn speaks nonstop. Teller never says anything.

They do tricks. "Magic" tricks. Only they don't pretend for a moment they are actually doing magic. They are completely upfront about the fact that they are illusionists, and during the show they actually showed the audience just how they did their tricks. I mean, no one sitting there really thinks they are sawing a woman in half or making balls appear under cups. But somehow, watching them doing the cup trick with clear plastic cups, talking through each step in real time, makes the trick seem even more impossible and the outcome even more incredible.

And the things they did were incredible and amazing. If you ever get the chance to see them live, do it. I promise you it's an experience. They are even worth going to Vegas to see.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


We stayed at the Bellagio in Vegas. It was one of the nicest places I have ever stayed.

To get to our room we had to walk down a hallway a quarter mile long. Our room was at the very end. See?

But once inside, the room was terrific. It was huge. And it had a fully stocked mini-bar, which we didn't go anywhere near.

The room also had a really cool bathroom. See? Two sinks, and yes, that is a second TV, which I watch while I was soaking in......

THIS: The Big Huge Tub-with-a-view.

Here was the view:
Penn and Teller (Slogan: Fewer Audience Injuries Than Last Year) just happened to be the show we were seeing Saturday Night. They deserve their own post.

The Bellagio was wonderful all around. It was all decked out for Chinese New Year. Here are some photos I took in the lobby. These are made almost entirely of flowers.

And then...

And then...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Land Of Confusion

They do their best in Vegas to confuse you, and keep you guessing where you really are.


New York?

Er... Rome...ish?





Monte Carlo.

Johnny Depp's House.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Back To Normal

We're home!

Our trip to Vegas was wonderful. I figured I would post most of my pictures over the next few days, as a large percentage of my readers will be on a BOAT in the middle of.... I forget, but I bet it's someplace warm. Probably warmer than Las Vegas.

We got home a little after 10pm last night. Lillian was wonderful for watching the boys, and she even did laundry! When she left for home I went to see the boys and kiss them, even though they were sleeping. I enjoyed my trip, but the first day I missed the boys a lot, and on the way home I got more and more excited to see them. I sneaked in and kissed Andy and Nick, but I could smell something by the bunk beds. I started sniffing Nick's sheets, but they were fine, so I decided I was crazy and that my brain was suffering from travel.

Then I went to kiss Nate good night. And he was covered in vomit. Apparently he had been sick in his sleep, but it was on his sheets, his PJ's, his face, in his hair.

And so my first night home was spent watching Nate get sick over and over, and trying to get as much sleep as I could in between. Ahhh, the joys of parenthood. It's good to be back.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Pain Of Travel

Whenever my gramma would leave on a trip, she would call us each to her room, one at a time, and give us each a little gift. A "keepsake," she'd call it. To remember her by. And would roll my eyes and because I knew I wouldn't forget her before she came back. It never occured to me that she thought she might not see us again.

I am leaving on a trip tomorrow. Thanks to the miracle of pre-posting, I'll be back by the time you read this. But as I write, departure is set for tomorrow.

I've been looking forward to this trip for months. Steve and I are going to Vegas. We plan on having some fun, and spending some time together without the kids. Which is good. This is what the trip is for, really.

The trouble is... I am suddenly feeling not so fun. I don't feel excited and happy, I feel sad and aprehensive. Not only because I don't fly as much these days, and not because each time I do I end up stranded in Chicago. Because I am going to miss my kids.

I know, I know, stop groaning. I know they will be fine. Lillian will be in charge, and the kids love her. She is responsible. And we will only be gone for a few days. But I am dragging my feet about leaving. I am suddenly balking at the idea of being apart from them for days. And I suddenly have an urge to give them something. Something to hold onto, so they will know I love them when I'm gone.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


The other day it snowed, and I had trouble getting out my driveway. I ended up having to pour a whole bag of cat litter out so that I could get some traction.

By this morning, all the snow is gone - not from everywhere, just the driveway. And the cat little has collected in the middle and turned to clay. We have a huge pile of we clay in the middle.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Home Envy

The boys had a playdate today. Actually, Nathan had a playdate with a little boy in his class, and we all came along.

We'd never been to this family's home before. In our town there are a wide variety of houses depending on which decade the neighborhood was developed. And I have to say that, usually, I'm pretty OK with our house. Sure, little things about it drive me crazy, like the crumbing bricks, the cabinets, etc. But overall, I'm easily satisfied.

Driving home from this playdate, though, I had to think hard about what I was feeling. This emotion... what was it? And driving past all the new houses with their high arches and beautiful stonework and perfect paint jobs I realized... it was envy.

While I was speaking with Friend's Mom in her kitchen, I overheard Nick and Nate running around upstairs. "Wow! Your house is so much bigger than ours!"

Yes, bigger, but also cleaner, more filled with light, more spacious, better furniture, better woodwork. Better... paint color.

Now, I grew up in a pretty special house. I thought not much about it until I moved out, and then I thought it was pretty cool to have lived there. But I never regretted it or comapred when I was living in the present with the house I grew up in.

When we moved in here, I thought this house was pretty cool. I still do, actually. And I think we have more space than we really need, even today. I don't usually sit and wish things were different.

But driving home... driving home I found myself wishing, for the first time, that we actually lived in a McMansion with high ceilings and tile floors and huge windows that let the light in.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


This Andrew helping me prepare chicken. I didn't ask, he offered. And it was kind of fun, except that he kept touching the raw chicken, which drove me nutty. I was sure he was going to put his fingers in his mouth and make himself sick. About five minutes after this photo was taken, I turned and caught him leaning over with his mouth on the raw chicken, tasting it. And after that I wasn't as worried about his little fingers anymore.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I bought a dress

I ordered a dress online today.

It's funny. I'm not a shopper. I don't like going out and looking for things that I need. I hate trying to find shoes that look nice and feel right and fit my budget. I hate walking into stores where I'm either too old for the clothes or too jeans-n-T-shirt.

But online is a different story. Online I can just click away, add things to my virtual shopping cart, and a few days later I'll get a present in the mail.

I don't shop online frequently, but I can see how it could become addicting. It gives you soemthing to look forward to.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What's Under Your Pillow?

Nick has become aware that children in his class at school have begin to loose teeth. He mentioned this at dinner the other night.

"You'll probably get a loose tooth soon, Nick," Steve said. "In some houses, that means you get a visit from The Tooth Fairy."

The boys nodded and noisily voiced approval of The Tooth Fairy.

"Lucky for us," Steve went on," I installed a special Tooth Fairy Barrier around the whole house so The Tooth Fairy won't be able to get in."

Nick and Nate sat, faces blank.

Steve said, "It wasn't that expensive. Now the one we got for Santa? That one cost a bundle."

"Sure," I said. "And the one for the Easter Bunny probably cost right in between those two."

By this time, Nate had returned to eating his dinner, but Nick still stared at us. And Steve kept going.

"I did manage to get some of that special Lamb's Blood for Passover, though. You should be happy about that one, Nick."

Nick raised his eyebrows.

"Yes," I said, stupidly pushing onward, and trying to remember the details. "See, God was going to send a plague down on the Egyptians, and he told his followers to put a mark on their door. But if you didn't put the mark on your door, God would kill the firstborn son. That's the oldest boy, and I think that's you, Nick."

This is when I realized the expression on Nick's face could be described as fearful, or alarmed.

"It's just a story," I said. "A story from the bible."

Nick nodded, and looked a little relieved. "Yeah," he said. "Because the Tooth Fairy is NICE."

Oh, the things he will tell his therapist.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Can't Wait "till Middle School

Today, Nate's teacher told me they worked on the letter W. This means each child practiced tracing, then writing the letter. And then they were supposed to color the whale at the bottom of the paper. Whale. For W.

Nate turned to the boy sitting next to him and handed him his paper and crayon. "Ben, could you color this for me? Thanks!"

And then he got up and went to play.

Just wait until he has to do Algebra.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


I love this picture. More precisely, I love this cake. I feel I can relate. It's from cakewrecks. Visit, and love it.

My mother used to berate us for not getting our homework done. That isn't surprising - she's our mother, and that's her job. But then she went back to school, and I have a distinct memory of her sitting sideways in an armchair, glass of wine in one hand, and a book in the other. "I have two hundred more pages left and then I have to write a paper on it for tomorrow," she said.

My point isn't to tell on my mother. On the contrary. My point is to relate and understand. Can you feel the love?

We all have good intentions. I intend to be patient with my children and to make only spectacular meals and to pick up the dry cleaning as soon as it's ready. I intend to return all library books within two weeks. I intend to practice my choir music and to write for my writing group and to not eat the goldfish crackers I bought for the boys. But... you know. Life gets in the way.

I meant to get to NY to see the Dorothy Parker play, but when the time came, I couldn't. There was no huge reason, no big events, the queen was not visiting. But enough was going on that I decided we couldn't fit it in. And I am SO missing out for it.

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, and there are many things I intend to do. Breakfast, church, choir, writing, make a cake. But I know that not everything will go smoothly. I know that I might spill hollandaise all over the pink sweater I need to wear for choir. Or that I'll wake up with Andy's hacking cough.

But I all I can do is try, right?

Friday, February 12, 2010


It's been a long time since we've had such a bad morning.

Some days things are smooth sailing. There are no tantrums, and very little of what I refer to as "resistance." Which means that the kids do the jobs they are supposed to do more or less when they are supposed to do them.

But more often than not, one child will decide to "resist." He might refuse to wear the only clean shirt in his dresser, for example. Or spend fifteen minutes "looking" for his shoes, the ones in the middle of his bedroom floor. Or decide to play Bakugan at the breakfast table even though he's not supposed to and spill milk all over the floor in the process, and then take ten minutes getting a cloth to wipe it up, and then push it all over his brother's toast in the process. And I begin by repeating myself, move on to threatening, and end up yelling before I can get any sort of a reaction.

Well, today all three boys decided to "resist." I found myself beating my head against the wall and wishing my children had no personalities and were spineless little drones who would just do my bidding.

Why? WHY? Why do they have to be like that? Why does Andrew always have to climb up to the top bunk and refuse to come down to get dressed when he KNOWS I'm just going to get angry? Why does Nate roll around Naked instead of getting dressed? When I say I'm not making toast in the morning, why does Nick then decide to make his own? Why WHY does he need toast?

And why did they do this to their toys? I mean, does this look right to you?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Quick Fix

Here's Andy on the top bunk with his favorite toy. He likes to fix things, except when he tries to hit Gunther or Nate.

This morning I skipped my run. I know, I know, I always complain I don't have time, and here I give it up of my own free will. But lately I found an arrangement that worked. It's called "Extended TV Time." See, in the morning, after Nick goes off the school, I bring Andy down to the basement (And Nate, when he's home from school) and put in a video. I run five miles and then spend the leftover time lifting weights and doing sit-ups. There are days when I get a lot done. Some days I don't even get the whole run in because I need to get Andy to a gym class or the library. And four days a week, this works. I shower and get on with my day and everything else gets done in the afternoon.

But today I was tired, and woke with a headache. So I skipped it, figuring I'd fit an extra run in this weekend.

And the funniest thing happened.

This afternoon I did everything. Every chore, every activity I had planned, got done. Oh, not the huge ones like cleaning out the guest room. But everything else. It was kind of nice.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


Because everything tastes better when it's dipped in chocolate.

Monday, February 08, 2010

As a parent, there are very few moments where I think back to my own childhood and feel vindicated. There are, however, many thousands of moments I revisit and think "OH. I get it now."

As a child I don't remember ever sending out valentines to my classmates. This says to me that either that I lived without exchanging valentines in which case it is not necessary, or that I exchanged valentines and have no memory of it in which case they are not necessary.

Nevertheless, ever since the first year Nick was in school and he received 20 valentines from his classmates and gave out Zero, I have made it a point to get valentines out to classmates. And until this year, I did all the work. After all, you just buy them, scribble your kids name on them, and then give them to the teacher to pass out, right?

But this year, I am promoting skills such as handwriting and letter recognition. So this year, I am making Nick and Nate do the writing themselves.

It didn't seem so crazy at first. Nate has 16 kids to give cards to, and his teachers have asked that they not be addressed to a specific child, so that they may be distributed more easily. All he has to do is write his name 16 times. Nick has 13 kids to pass out valentines to. He not only needs to sign his name, but write his friends names on the envelopes. Still, it's only 14. Hardly like writing 100 Wedding Gift Thank Yous.

The trouble is, there is SO much to writing that we, as literate adults, take for granted. At school, both boys are learning how to form their letters. When Nick writes the letter R, for example, I can tell he is really thinking about the little bubble at the top and the diagonal line. He doesn't always end the bubble and start the diagonal at the same point, though. Which is fine, and I expected that.

It's just the other things. Little details such as writing the letters in a straight line instead of writing each letter a little bit higher than the last. Or almost running out of room and then just starting to write letters underneath the first few, but in a random order.

I expected some of these things from Nathan, but I didn't expect to have to hang over Nick's shoulder in case he should decide to write from right to left. To make matters worse, the pens the boys were using tended to smudge, but instead of letting the letters dry, they liked to run their fingers over the names to see the ink streak. I guess it was cool looking.

I know I startled Nick more than once, and each boy had done only 2 cards before they slumped. "I'm bored with this!" Nate said. And Nick added "This is KILLING me!"

I remember writing a Thank You note for my Kindergarten teacher. My mother helped me form each letter very carefully, but had to run to answer the phone. While she was gone, I amused myself by writing over each letter, trying to keep the pen on the lines I had made with my mom. When she came back, she freaked out, declared the card ruined, and we had to start again. I was SO TOTALLY confused. I mean, it looked the same to me, more or less. With a few more bumps.

But after yelling "Stop!" nineteen times as Nick was about to misspell a name or curved the wrong way with a J or a G... well...


I get it.


Sunday, February 07, 2010


Tomorrow, I will post photos.

I just had to let everyone know we have heat. There is a temporary fix on the furnace. We still have to have it "really" fixed.

I am assuming everyone has days that string together where everything in your house or apartment seems to be broken or not functioning 100%... well, the furnace needs fixing. The light in our bathroom goes days without working but if you leave it on, will suddenly turn on in the middle of the night. My garage door has a habit of opening two feet and then freezing. The wallpaper in my bathroom is peeling. The towel rack in the boys' bathroom is still broken, and the faucets all drip. I still need to patch the hole in the side-hall made by the doorknob after the doorstop was removed. The light in the room off the living room is exposed and needs a cover. I have a billion photographs to frame and hang.

Most of the time, I can exist in this reality without getting excessively irritated. And then there are days like today, where I can't turn my head without seeing something that needs fixing, doing, patching... and I just don't have the time, and I just can't seem to muster the effort.

Saturday, February 06, 2010


Our furnace is broken. It's under 20 degrees outside, and we have zero heat. It's Saturday night, and tomorrow is Superbowl Sunday. As you can imagine, this is not the most enviable position to be in.

But today we enjoyed a visit from Pam and Larry, which is always really nice. And the boys told me a few jokes while I was giving them their bath. I thought I'd share, in order to cheer myself up.

Andy's Joke:
- knock knock
- who's there?
- Nana (banana.)
- Banana who?

Nick's Joke:
- Why did the chicken cross the road?
- To get the roast chicken!

Nate's Joke:
- What plus six?
- I don't get it. What do you mean, what plus six?
- I'm tellin' a plus joke.

Well, it cheered ME up.

Friday, February 05, 2010

The non-post

Usually I have something to write about - a topic, a subject, or at least a photo to distract from the lack of vocabulary. But today I'm coming up empty. I have cute pics on the camera, but it's far too much work to upload them now. And there isn't really too much to say at the moment. Things seem to be going well. We're all healthy, for now.

The kids haven't even said anything particularly funny. Sure, today I caught Andy walking around in just a diaper and snow boots, but that's almost commonplace around here.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Bones I never knew I had

As I was tucking him in bed for the night, Nate ran his fingers through my hair and hot a snarl.

He asks, "Is these one of the bones from your hair?"

Yes. That's what they are from now on. Hair Bones.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Divine Chaos

Today, as I was folding laundry and trying to listen / watch my computer, the boys spilled into the dining room. I always fold laundry in the dining room because there is a big table in there and, more importantly, there is a big table without spilled juice, milk, or water hiding on it, and without undiscovered blotches of jam or syrup or ketchup leftover for lunch.

Anyway, I always get irritated when the boys do this. I'm busy, obviously, and my attention is directed elsewhere (the computer) and I don't see why they need to play three feet away from me when they have a living room, a play room, and a bedroom to go be loud in. Also, if I were trying to get them to pick up a toy or put shoes on, they would all three spread out to any of these locations and turn off their ears.

So I started my routine of "could you please go somewhere else," especially since both Nate and Andy were on ride-around toys which they kept trying to drive over the computer cord, which they couldn't do, so they kept needing to stop and pick up the toy as they waddled the few steps until they could begin riding again...

And then I just had to stop and laugh. Because as irritated as I was, I couldn't help noticing that all three boys were playing together and having fun, together, without fighting, or beating up on each other, or crying. Not even in play. They were all noisy and driving around the house, but they were all together.

And that was kind of cool and sweet to watch.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

What We Did Today

Today was Tuesday.

Today, I ran five miles on my treadmill. Go, me!

Today, I took Andrew and Nathan to the doctor for their yearly checkups. They both got shots, and Nate had the staples removed from his head.

Today, Nick got his report card from school.

Today, the boys had Story Hour at the library.

Today, I realized the tea I was drinking was not decaffeinated.

Today, I made a butternut squash and mushroom lasagna, only halfway through I realized I forgot to buy ricotta cheese, so I had to rush out and get some.

Today, I forgot to take the laundry out of the dryer. So it's still in there. But it was whites, so it was mostly socks.

Tonight, LOST is on TV, and I pan on staying up and watching ALL of it, even if it gets really bad and awful and hard to follow.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Write This Down

Here are a few things you might want to scribble down in your date books, enter into your blackberries, your iphones, or if you're like me, on the back of your hand with a magic marker. They include people I know and love and respect.

Two of these are New York specific. And the last is NH specific. I copied and pasted from emails and Facebook pages, so please note that the spacing and such is all my fault.

Friday 2/5/10
Picasso Machinery
7 pm (the truth)
45 Broadway/Wythe
Brooklyn NY

proudly presents:
*Biba Bell (dance)
*Jaime Karnes (fiction)
*Eliza Swann (harmonium music/film)
*Westo (slideshow w/ soundtrack)
*Anne-E. Wood (fiction)

Free admission, hat passed for performers.
Bring your own beer or wine or whathaveyou.

Against Her Better Judgment
runs February 11-14th at the Drilling Company Theatre on 78th St and Broadway. Shows are at 7:30pm except Sunday (matinee at 2pm). If the link doesn't work, copy and paste into your browser.

And finally, Feb. 27th, A Local Performers Showcase at the Simple Gifts Coffee House, which is local to nobody but me. It's actually run by our church, but I mention it here because I'm performing (gulp) with another couple of women. And I'm nervous about it, but a little excited, too. So wish me luck!