Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My friend Betsy gave me this little outfit for Nicholas, about five years ago. I think it's the cutest thing. I promise to keep stuffing Andy into it until it won't snap shut.

The glasses and the socks are all him.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


My kids are cute. Especially in this hat.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Island Of Sodor

Saturday, we piled in to the car to visit someone's favorite blue tank engine. That's right, we went to visit Thomas The Tank Engine! The real one.Actually, we went to Edaville U.S.A., where they were having a Thomas Weekend. Edaville is very cute. There are tons of rides and activities, and little train tables were set up all over the place. And we got to ride our favorite train.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Good Day Sunshine

Confession: I write a number of my posts ahead of time. If I have a number of things to say (more than three) and a stretch of time to bang on the keyboard, I'll get as much of it pre-posted as possible. That way I don't forget the things I want to say in the hustle and bustle of the day.

But occasionally something will happen mid-week, after I have already written a bunch of posts. And that news gets pushed back. Even if I should have recognized it right away.

I need to say a public Thank You to G. Fox, of And I Am Marie Of Roumania. She has bestowed upon me this Sunshine Award.
Now, I'm not exactly sure what this means, or if the sunshine is for positive blogging or optimistic comments. But I am honored. Who doesn't like to be told they brighten someone else's day a little? Well... call me Pollyanna, because I do. So, thank you, thank you, G. Fox! I am only sorry I didn't post my thanks sooner.

I am now supposed to pass this sunshine award on to someone else. Someone who posts encouraging comments. Or someone with a blog who brightens my day. But I simply can't make choices. It would be like asking me which of my kids I love most. My love for each is as individual as they are individuals. And in a lesser way, so are these blogs that I love. Please check out Larissa at Seattle Sabbatical and Debs at It's my life, and Sue at Susan's Losin'. Each of these blogs are wonderful, inspiring, encouraging, and unique. And so are each of the women who write them. They have all encouraged me in ways both large and small. So they will have to split the sunshine between them.

Come to think of it, all comments these days have been encouraging and supportive, but most people who comment here don not have blogs for me to pitch this sunny little prize to. So... thank you, blogless commenters!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Stop, Wait... Weight...

I've lost all the weight I gained with the babies.

I know, I'm bragging a little bit. Hooray for me, it took me 30 months, have a cookie. Finally. But it really was something I had to work at, and I know that I'm older and I'm going to have to keep working to stay where I am. A friend of mine has a weight loss blog which I've been following, and even though most of our circumstances are different (she is older, had had surgeries, wanted to loose more) I find that a lot of what she tries and posts about are useful and keeps me motivated. (By the way, she sheds about 7 pounds to my every one.)

I'm at the point where I don't realistically need to loose any more weight. I'm at my goal. OK, I'll say it, 125. It's pretty good for someone mid-thirties and my height. But somehow, when I look in the mirror, this isn't what I remember 125 looking like. My tummy still sticks out in this really unflattering way. My shorts are either falling off my hips or tight around my middle. I won't go into any more detail, but you get the picture. It isn't what I thought it would be. To be honest, I'm still a little uncomfortable in my skin. And my clothes.

So now I am at a crossroads. Do I just accept that I'm in my thirties and have a different sort of body? Do I keep working out the way I have been? Or "target trouble spots," a practice I despise.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dust In My Eye

As the weather has been changing, I've slowly been weeding the dresser drawers of clothing that is no longer seasonally appropriate and setting it aside. By "setting it aside" I really mean "Throwing it into the back hall in front of the closet."

See, we have a lot of storage space in this house. But I find that the need for storage space increases with the amount that you have. Meaning that, if you're the kind of person who likes to store stuff, you'll find more stuff to store.

Our back closet was full. It's a big closet. It's a walk-in. It's not insulated, but there is a lot of space in there. But over time it has accumulated a vast number of storage bins full of infant clothes and maternity wear and halloween costumes and car seats and diaper bags and jumpy swings and playpens and baby gates.... I couldn't even walk in.

I've been putting this project off for awhile.

But last night I had an argument with Andy who picked a pair of PJ's from the winter pile to wear, a fleece Winnie-The-Pooh zip-up."It's my favorite!" he said. I knew I had to get the long sleeves out of sight because my kids don't have enough sense to dress themselves.

But storing the Winter clothes they might wear next year meant doing something with the closet, which was spiraling out of control. As I looked at the stacks of storage bins, the clearly labeled "6 - 9 months onesie PJ's" showing through, I knew what I had to do. It breaks my heart, but I am pretty sure we won't be needing those little outfits again.

So I went through the storage bins and took out everything my kids are too big to wear. Back when the kids were little I separated everything because no one told me it didn't matter. I had dozens of smaller zip-loc bags with different types of outfits. These days it's much simpler. "3T Winter" is what you get, and it will probably have some 2T and some 4T and probably some T-shirts.

Anyway, I tried not to look at what I was getting rid of. Little outfits, little newborn T-shirts. The things my babies wore when they were soft and milky and would grab my nose. Little footie things they learned to roll over and crawl in, waving the little feet around in the air. I took it all out and replaced it with dirty T-shirts stained with ketchup and jeans with holes in the knees.

The baby stuff made it as far as the Pool Table, which is where a stack of toys is still sitting, waiting for Goodwill. Some day in the next couple of weeks I'll make a trip and bring it all. I'm sure someone will appreciate the fact that it's all clearly marked and organized.

And me? I'm fine. I just have a little dust in my eye from the storage closet.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I Feel Like...

Sometimes Summer can make you so Happy!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summer Activity

The Saturday after the last day of school I found myself in the house with the three boys and no activities planned. Oh, there is plenty on MY To-Do list, but the boys had nothing but this wide stretch of open time. And there's nothing wrong with that, really. Except that, without being handed an activity or an outing the boys get wild, start climbing the walls, scream at the TV until it turns on, and I end up spending the day yelling and screaming and nothing gets done. Ever.

So, as the day was sunny and the forecast was for HOT, I smeared the boys with sunscreen, piled them in the car and took them to a playground.
Remember how playgrounds were when you were a kid? They were just plain dangerous. I mean, there were swings, right? Maybe planted in concrete. There was probably a merry-go-round, one of those disc things that kids cling to while another kid runs around and spins it so fast that everyone gets thrown off. Maybe a see-saw, which one kid would get off and the other would go crashing down to earth. And probably a jungle gym, made of metal bars. And at some point a girl would forget and swing upside down on one bar, and bang her head on the bar below, and now she doesn't understand simple things like imaginary numbers or past participles or the stock market. (just sayin')
None of those things can be found at the newer playgrounds. Swings, yes, but on woodchips or that soft, foamy material. And as for play structures... well, I've been to a lot of parks where they LOOK fun, but once you get past the bright colors and irregular shapes, it's really just a staircase and a slide.
Or you get places that look like this:

Wait, you have to see how BIG it really is. Here's a picture of Nick on it:

Yes, that structure is three stories high, and there are two Very Big Slides that start there. Even Andy went down both of them. Not only are there ladders to get up there, but stairs and a climbing wall lead to the second story and two smaller slides. And each level has small seats and wheels and levers and whatever for kids to mess with. There's also a smaller structure with rings and monkey bars. And swings so high that I can sit on them and my feet don't brush the ground.

The best thing about this park is that there's a sprinkler park there. Big, bright colored spinny things squirt water. It bursts from the ground and from the sky and kids run around and splash and scream. It's great!
Last year we only made it a couple of times. And each time I go I wonder why we don't go more. This is a free activity. We should do this more!

Monday, June 21, 2010

End of an Era

After Andrew was born I realized that I had a long New England winter in front of me, and two toddlers who were very, very active. Bundling them up and towing them outdoors was going to be next to impossible, and at the very least impractical. So I signed both Nick and Nate up for gymnastics classes, where they could jump around and climb on things at least once a week.
And two and a half years later, here we are. Nicholas has just finished his last year of gymnastics, having decided not to keep it up next year when he goes to school full time. This was his choice. In some ways, letting him choose was kind of scary. Signing him up for new activities is scary. Not because of the activities themselves, but because I have three kids, and in a few years I can just see myself driving all over creation toting them each to an array of individual classes and activities.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Real Men Play Candy Land

Today is Father's Day.

Today is the day to celebrate not the traditional, pipe smoking, sit-there-with-paper-and-drink-while-you-make-the-pot-roast Dad, but the New Dad. The one who changes diapers and puts hair in pigtails and makes time for school concerts. The one who will give the kids a bath while Mom does the dishes. Because, when you think about it, which is the harder job? Anyone can sit there and read the paper. It takes a real man to play Candy Land three times in a row.

Here's to fathers everywhere, especially mine, and especially my kids'. We love them. Today they get the big piece of chicken.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Something Squirrely

We have a problem around here. No one closes the doors.

I remember my mother yelling at us when we were kids and would all tumble out of the car, leaving all the doors open behind us. "Who do you think you are, The President?" And we would roll our eyes because, well, NO, as far as we knew The President didn't have to eat broccoli, let alone attend class and practice the violin. But we got the point about the car doors.

Only here it's not the car doors. Those close. Often with younger siblings still inside the vehicle. The doors to the house, though.... different story.

In all honesty, they probably get it from me. I'm in the habit of leaving the door open for a younger someone to make their way out. Or because I know I left the dry cleaning in the kitchen or a shopping bag in the trunk, but I'm lacking a third arm so I need to make multiple trips.

Anyway, the end result is that I often find myself pulling away from the house and noticing that the door is wide open and that both cats are sprinting across the lawn, one really fast and one in a slow "where am I?" kind of lope.

But today, something got in.

I was putting away the groceries and suddenly I see a small something scrambling along the corner of the back hall and rush into the bathroom. And predictably, I shrieked. Twice. And a third time when I thought it was gone ten minutes later and was helping Andy use the bathroom and it crawled out from under the door.

At the time I couldn't even decide what it was. It was too big to be a mouse, looked like a squirrel but was small, more the size of a fat chipmunk. But with a long tail. Steve thinks it was a Flying Squirrel.

Anyway, it was terrified. I opened all the doors to encourage it to leave, but it took refuge in the heating pipe thingy along the baseboard of the back hall and wouldn't leave. Even when I opened the door and then banged on the vent. And then poured water on it to encourage it to leave. It refused to leave, it's brown fur poking out ever so slightly from the vent, it's little pink mouth lapping up the water around it. "Thanks for the drink!"

I had to pick up Nick, and I couldn't leave it IN the house because we have cats and a dog. Steve came up when his call ended and somehow managed to get it out. He got it into a giant gift bag we had on hand, but it just jumped right out, ran up a sweatshirt hanging on a doorknob, across the windowsill, and somehow Steve managed to guide it through the open door. And Puck, who just happened to be outside, immediately noticed it and started chasing it in his crazy, not so fast way.

And I wasn't going to post this but it's too funny, then Steve, who had been working all morning and had yet to shower, ran out in his bathrobe and started chasing the cat.

I am nor seriously cracking down on the open-door situation.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Where's MY trophy?

This has been a busy week. Everything is ending, and each thing requires a celebration.

Yesterday was Nick's Kindergarten concert. They sang four songs and then a few of the kids recited lines from All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten. And I cried.

But I didn't have time to hang out and be emotional, even though I can't understand how it went by so fast. Because I had to rush Andrew to his gymnastics recital so he could get his trophy. Nick and Nate had their recital on Monday, and Andy was a little upset that he didn't get a prize and they did. Andrew was very excited during the ceremony, and kept trying to climb up on the pedestal before his name was called. (One little girl kept climbing up even after she got her trophy.) And yes, he got his trophy, and he was very proud of it. He showed it to Nathan when we picked him up from "Beach Day" at his school.

Then yesterday evening Nick had his very last T-ball game of the season. It took 90 minutes for them to play two innings, and then both teams walked over to the farm stand for ice-cream. Nick got a T-ball trophy.

And tomorrow is the very last day of school. After that it's mostly me. Part of me panics when I realize the kids will be with me most of the time. But then I think about how much easier it will be without all the running around and remembering who wears the swimsuit to class and who needs to return a library book and who's got story time and did I pay for the field trip stuff.

And another thing. I never did any sports. In my entire life I never got a trophy. Right now, even Andy's trophy collection is bigger than mine. Shouldn't I get a trophy for juggling all these schedules?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Rainy Day - part 2

After the Zooquarium, we still had a huge chunk of day in front of us. And thanks to our breakfast at The Pancake Man, none of us were really hungry. But thanks to one of those touristy magazines you can pick up at rest stops, I knew exactly where it was I wanted to go.
Part of me still thinks Edward Gorey lived in the early 1900's, but he didn't. He actually only died a decade ago (which makes a little more sense, when I think about it), after giving the world works such as The Doubtful Guest, and The Haunted Tea Cosy. And he lived in a house on Cape Cod, only a shirt drive from the place we were staying, actually. And that house has been turned into...Yes! A Museum!
The place is quite small - it's the kind of museum that has a lot behind glass, a lot of pages, and a lot of reading. But it also had a wonderful scavenger hunt based on The Gashlycrumb Tinies, which you should absolutely read, if you haven't already. And the place was decked out in the macabre and the cute, with fake headstones in the garden and a real cat wandering around the place.
I could have spent a lot of time in that museum. But alas, I didn't even finish the scavenger hunt (which I think the boys were supposed to do, but they just weren't into it.) I was alternating looking into the cases and reading about Gorey's artwork and searching for a clue to represent the one that died having fits when I realized that the children running around outside the window were mine. I guess it really isn't a hot spot for preschoolers, but I had a lot of fun.

Then we went to lunch at The Optimist Cafe.

Boy, I wish we had been there for high tea, but we weren't. So the kids (even Steve) had burgers and I had a wonderful salad with gorgonzola and cranberries, and maybe it was the glass of white wine talking, but I think this day was one of the best I had at the Cape.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Rainy Day - part 1

What does one do when it rains at The Cape?
That's a big question. Because after going out for breakfast (at The Pancake Man!) we had the whole long rainy day in front of us.
So we herded the boys into the car and drove them The Zooquarium! motto: More Fun Than The Beach.

Now, I didn't have high hopes for this place. I pictured a couple of fish tanks and an owl with a broken wing. But guess what? It was more fun than the beach!

We saw a show where a woman showed off some box turtles and a skunk - which we got to pet! We saw tons and tons of fish, crabs, and rescued squirrels.
And then we went outside, where we could pet and feed deer, llamas, pigs, and sheep. There were peacocks and chickens and even turkeys, and those birds knew what was in those food dispensers. You'd turn around and the birds would be coming right for you.

The turkeys especially were the biggest ones I've ever seen. And they were not shy about demanding more food. Nathan clung to Steve's leg and wouldn't let go until the very end.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Happy Birthday To Steve!

He keeps forgetting about it. But I remember it's his birthday. Even if I can't remember what he asked me to pick up while I was at the store.

Happy Birthday, Steve!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Cape Cod

We just got back from Cape Cod.
It sounds odd saying that. I never pictured myself as the kind of person that went "to The Cape" or anything. Also, I may as well say something like "I went to New Jersey" because the Cape is actually HUGE. I mean, it would take you hours to drive to Provincetown from Woods Hole.

Anyway, we managed to walk away from a church auction with a week at this house in South Yarmouth. We had our choices of weeks in June or September, and I decided a week at the end of school was better than at the start, at least for these little guys.

And so there we were. I really didn't know what to expect, but I have to tell you, I had a fabulous time, overall. It was cold and rainy a lot, but we still got in some beach time. We did some really fun things, which I shall tell you about in future posts. We ate out a lot so I had very few dishes to do. I saved up all the laundry for when we got back.
And the house we stayed in... it wasn't on the beach, but had a dock by the river. It's one of these houses built in the 1800's, added on to over time. The staircases were steep and narrow. The bedrooms had sloped ceilings and you had to walk through bathrooms to get to them, or in some cases through one of the 7 bedrooms to get to the bathrooms. I grew up in a large house, but it was fairly simply laid out. You couldn't really get too lost or disoriented. But this house was very confusing, and more than once I found myself startled at not being where I thought I was when I got to the bottom of a staircase.

It was a beach house, and an old beach house at that, but the furniture was old and sturdy, and the screened porch wrapped around the side of the house. Even when we weren't doing anything, I felt like we were someplace really cool.

And now we're back.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Baggage Absurd

Last year we went to France, and I prided myself on how efficient I was at packing for our two week trip. A family of five, and I managed three medium checked bags and three carry-ons. Having been there so many times, and knowing what I can or can't buy there, I can pack only what we will use, wash, and use again.

This year, we are going to Cape Cod. It is only for a week, and close enough so that we could drive back home for anything we needed to, such as medication, a computer, or a child. And since we not only don't have to check bags but don't have to carry them anywhere, either, I have elected to pack our things in laundry baskets. Not knowing what the laundry situation will be like, I chose to bring our own sheets and towels rather than struggle with washing those at the house on our last day. I also wasn't sure how quickly we would find a grocery store, so I went shopping for non-perishables like cereal and cookies and bananas and bread. And soup and mac and cheese and raisins. Since we're driving and not flying, I just packed up our full sized bottles of shampoo and soap and toothpaste, makeup, mouthwash, vitamins. Rain is in the forcast, so besides the swimsuits and kickboards I packed crayons and board games and a larger handful of books. And the dog is coming with us so of course we needed his blanket and food for him, and treats, and his bowl, and two leashes - the short one and the long one.

So for one week at the Cape we have three times as much as for two weeks in France.


Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Extra Screen Time

Right now the boys are huddled on the couch, each playing a different handheld video game.

And I know I should put a stop to it, as it's not screen time.

But the quiet is so lovely.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Quick Quote

I was watching Modern Family and one of the characters said something I fell in love with.

"Honey, I'm a mother in Hawaii with her three children. This isn't a vacation, it's a business trip."

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Library Books

Today at the library, Nathan chose two books.

One was Il dinosauro.

The other was My First Guide to the Endocrine System.

He better learn to read soon, because these books are getting too difficult for me.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Pre Potty

In order to begin "school" in September, Andrew must be potty trained.

I am so emotionally torn about this.

On one hand, I think expecting a child to be potty trained by three is optimistic at best, especially a boy, and Andy is younger than that. I think, ideally, a child will start when he's ready and shouldn't be pressured.

On the other hand, Andrew knows what to do, and has done it on a few rare occasions. The diapers cost money, are bad for the environment, and quite honestly I am so tired of changing them because I have only had a handful of days of in the past SIX YEARS and I am SO READY for a day without a messy poop I could SCREAM!

Of course, with potty training, its really out of my hands. It's Andy who is going to have to take control and decide to do this. All I can do is encourage him and convince him it's in his best interest. I have resorted to bribery, offering m&m's and lollipops. I have explained that the classroom he loves so much is only for boys with no diapers. Or pull-ups. And he agrees with me and parrots these lines back to me while I'm changing him in the bathroom.

And some days it seems like we're so, so very close. As though it might happen by the end of the week and I'm going to be stuck with a cabinet full of Diego and Clifford pull-ups. And then other days I realize we could keep going on like this for another year. or forever. FOREVER. in DIAPERS FOREVER! AHHHHH!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Simple Taste

Last night I made tuna salad for dinner.

When I think back to my childhood, I seem to remember eating a lot of tuna salad. Especially in the summer. This makes sense to me. Tuna salad is easy to make. My mother could make a huge batch earlier in the day, and could pull it out of the fridge at dinner. And who doesn't like tuna?

OK, a lot of people don't like tuna. Including my kids. Not only do they not eat tuna, but they also refuse peanut butter. Even with jam. Even on Ritz crackers. I still have two half opened jars left over from who knows how long ago when they just turned off their liking of it, because up until then, they ate it just fine. I know this sounds odd, coming from a person who hasn't eaten a banana in over thirty years, but it baffles me. I really think the boys studied a list of foods that are easiest to prepare and agreed to dislike the top ten. Nicholas also refuses to eat any kind of cheese except block cheddar. Sliced cheddar apparently looks too much like American cheese for his taste. He doesn't even eat mac'n cheese unless it's drowned in salsa. All other cheeses are taboo.

Unless you count cottage cheese. Because Nick will, in fact, eat cottage cheese, an item which most people think should not even exist. When I asked him what he wanted for his birthday breakfast, hinting strongly that even chocolate chip pancakes might not be out of the question, he told me he wanted eggs Benedict. I prepared eggs Benedict for my six-year-old. The same six-year-old who, last night at dinner, announced that we haven't had Beef Wellington in the LONGEST TIME.

You know that list of easy to prepare foods? Nick studied the other list, too, and is determined to love everything that messes up half the kitchen.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Back To Square One

A few weeks before Nicholas was born I scrubbed the staircase banister. Since then I've dusted it, but that day I took soap and water and a cloth and I rubbed and scrubbed and polished. It took me hours.

And seriously, we don't have that many stairs.

But I was determined that my child would not live in a place that was sticky, grimy and dirty. What I didn't know was that children are the #2 cause of sticky grime and dirt, coming in just before dogs (#3) and a little behind hurricanes (#1).

I work hard to try and make this home as clean and inviting as it is. And it's hard. And still not very warm and inviting. No matter how much laundry I do, the hampers are always full and someone has no pants. Mopping the floor is an invitation for someone to throw-up all over it. It's very easy to get caught up and forget the whole point. The purpose of all this, of course, is the family. If I don't make the time to spend with them, everything else has lost it's point.

Can someone remind me of this, please, the next time I spend the day yelling?

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

No Ring To Bind Us All

I still haven't found my engagement ring.

Steve asked me to marry him just before a Halloween party. He was wearing his Karate outfit. I was wearing a dress and a cloak in some strange witches getup. And once I put it on... well, I actually took it off quite a bit. When I was cooking something messy, washing really grimy dishes, working in the yard... when I worked out or showered, or when I was going to the pool, or the beach...

I love that ring.

I have looked everywhere. Uncle George even hooked us up with a metal detector, and I went out and swept the yard, where I was working. I swept the grass. Part of it. I have looked inside, in every small box I own, in every drawer, in every shot glass, money jar, flower pot.

Steve and I were married eight years ago today. And as torn up as I am about that ring, and as sure as I am that I'll be peeking under furniture and under rugs for months to come, I just need to remember that I still have Steve. Which was the point of the ring, right? A symbol of our luuuuuv.

Wow, eight years. I love you, Steve.