Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Burning Bright

The zoo had tigers.

The tigers were interesting to me right now because I'm listening to a recorded version of Yann Martel's Life of Pi, in which a teen boy is trapped in a lifeboat at sea with a tiger.

I tried to take a picture of the boys standing in front of the tiger, but Nick refused to stand in front of the fence because he had seen a bee there. Here's a picture of Nate. He looks funny, but really he just didn't want to turn his back on the tiger.

Monday, August 30, 2010

More Zoo, Less... other stuff.

We went to a zoo last week.

This time it was the Southwick Zoo. This zoo is a little bit different. It's heavy on the monkeys, which is good, in my book. It's also heavy on the mechanical kiddie rides that go around in circles, which is not as great, in my book, but which the kids really seemed to like. It also has things like lions and tigers, which not all zoos these days are able to have. And it also has not only pony rides, but camel rides, and elephant rides!
The elephant rides were closed that day, as was the elephant show. Apparently the elephants were a little tired. The camel rides were going, but the only one that seemed excited about those (besides me) was Andrew, and once we got there the sign said You Must Be 3 Years Old To Ride Camel! I told him he was too little, and he screamed such a scream that I quickly whisked us away to the ponies.
Nick rolled his eyes at the ponies and said he didn't want to didn't want to didn't want to how BORING! But once he went around and around riding BY HIMSELF oh a pony named Brownie, and got to pat the pony afterward, he declared the pony ride the best part of the zoo.

I don't have a photo of the pony ride, because I was walking next to Andy, riding a small pony named Winnie, and trying to keep him from pitching off sideways. Apparently the up-down motion of a pony ride is hilarious and had him in giggles the whole time, but he kept letting himself get jiggled sideways. Good thing it wasn't a camel.
Since I have no Pony Picture, here's a kind of fuzzy shot of the boys in front of some giant tortoises.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Roll Of The Dice

My kids like to roll dice. They aren't playing a game, they're just throwing the dice and letting them skitter across the kitchen floor in that noisy, clinky, really annoying way. They are going to grow up to be gamblers, I know it.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Last night we went to Nate and Andy's school.

Here's the thing about me: I hate change. I like things to be predictable. I hate it when the reorganize the shelves at the grocery store. Which, by the way, happens a little too often.

When I signed the boys up for school, I expected things to be more or less like last year. Andy would have Nate's old teacher, a woman I grew to love. Nate would be in the room next door. Or across the hall, depending on which Pre-K class he was put in.

But I had no way of suspecting the success of the school.

See, last year was it's first year, and it ended up with all classes filled, and so many Pre-K kids they had to create an extra class. This year, they not only had enough kids for two Pre-K classes, but enough for two Early Pre-K classes, and that means two classes of kids Andy's age.

There are twice as many teachers, and I'm still confused about which rooms are being used for which classes. Andy's teacher looks like she's twelve, and Nate's teacher looks pretty elderly. I don't want to judge what kind of teachers they are, but I'm wondering what's going to happen the first time Nathan gets frustrated. How is this woman going to wrestle him down?

I think every year starts like this, for me. I question the teacher and the school. I guess there's only one way to find out if this is going to work.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Antici.... pation

Tonight we're going to visit the preschool to meet Nate and Andy's new teachers. They are pretty excited to go. Especially Andy, who has made me read the classic "Llama Llama Misses Mama," a book about a little Llama going to his first day of school, every single night for the past week.

Every. Single. Night.

I'm excited for the first day of school. Not just for the free time, although that is an obvious plus. But because school is exciting, and fun, and the boys will learn a lot and have fun... I wish I could go to watch them.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Rain Rain

It's been raining for three days.

It's hard to know what to do on rainy days. I get frustrated because these are the last few days of summer vacation, and going out in the winter is much harder. Or at least colder.

So today, waking up to a day do overcast I had to drag myself out of bed, and finding myself almost thankful that Andy discovered the thermostat and turned it up to 95, I declared it a movie day.

The boys were thrilled when I turned on Batteries Not Included, a movie they love because of the tiny flying robots. And I got to have an extra cup of coffee at the computer, catching up on some overdue paperwork and sorting through the giant pile of paper that accumulates on the kitchen counter.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Words Of Encouragement

I have been pushing myself during my workouts. Since my time to run is shorter, I've been increasing the speed or the incline. Also, I've started to do.... push-ups.

I hate push ups. I have never been able to do them. Even now, I do fake half ones, on my knees, and I still have a hard time.

Today I had a hard time. Even though I've been able to do this much in the past, it was harder today, for whatever reason. At the end of the workout, I was almost in tears and my arms were shaking. I was whispering, "I can't do it. I can't do it. I need to stop."

And Andy reached out and patted my arm. "Don't worry, Mom. I LOVE you!"

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Things Forgotten

Sometimes, life gets so busy, that I forget to do things I usually do. Like fold the laundry, or change the cat box.

Other times, I don't notice that anything needs doing.

A few days ago I realized that Gunther's stitches were still in. I had expected them to dissolve or just fall out, but they hadn't. When I finally got around to calling the vet, I was told that I they were supposed to be taken out 10 to 12 days after the operation. It had been a month.

Fortunately, the vet's office let us come in right away and they were taken out immediately. And it was fine. But don't you think this was something I should have realized or remembered?

And why the heck didn't the vet's office have me make an appointment before we left the day the work was done?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Baby Baby

I dropped an entire carload of baby clothes off at Goodwill the other day.

I saved a number of items, the cutest, the ones I remember the boys wearing, the ones I might be able to pass along to someone else.

But most of them went. The cute tractor overalls. The purple footie pj's. The T-shirt with the lizard on it. Things I have had since Nick was a baby.

Driving away, I couldn't help but cry a little.

And then I looked back and saw Nick holding four stuffed animals he had rescued from the one box of stuffed animals I was giving away.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Change Already

Driving today I noticed more than a few patches of red and yellow leaves on the trees.

I think the leaves are pretty, but I haven't finished my summer yet.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Moms are not allowed

I skipped posting yesterday because I was having a bad day. By that I mean that evil was seeping out of my pores and I couldn't control my evil thoughts of world domination, hindered only by the fact that three short people kept asking me for juice and pinching each other.

It's a cycle. I am grumpy and in a bad mood, and that makes me irritable. I snap at my kids. I hate the way I sound when I snap at my kids. That makes me even more grumpy and irritable. And even though I just promised myself I wouldn't snap at my kids again, I do.

See, being grumpy and irritable are something moms are not supposed to do. Sure, they can get that way, but only after the kids have been really, really hard to deal with. You can't just wake up on the wrong side of the bed. It's like being sick: So what? Who cares? The kids want juice. Also, they are stabbing each other with legos.

It's really hard for me to get out of a rut on days like this. It's hard not to give into the urge to just turn on the television and eat goldfish crackers on the living room rug. And quite frankly, it's not fair. It's hard not to become resentful when the kids come crying because they have tripped over a toy in the middle of the kitchen floor, a toy they have been asked to put away many, many times. Yes, the kid may be bleeding and in pain, and the kid may need comfort, and it's the hardest thing in the world to stop folding laundry or making dinner and deal with the situation instead of yelling "It's your own darn fault! Now leave me alone!"

So... I'm still kind of in the rut. I'm still doing my best to climb out of it. I'm almost there. I should be out by the time school starts, I think.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dragging vs. Drowning

Today I took the boys to the pool. The hallway there has a huge mirrored wall, and I just happened to catch a glimpse of myself while I was ushering my three wet boys back to the car. You know what? I have HUGE circles under my eyes.

That's right. Whatever it is, I just don't feel like doing it today. That includes making dinner, or even eating dinner, or even walking upstairs to flop face down on my bed.

But I just had to share this: Nicholas can swim the length of the pool by himself with no flotation device of any kind!

What made it so great was that I had just been kicking myself that I should get the boys to the pool more often. I wasn't expecting it at all. He just... did it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Reach Out

Today I spoke to two people I hadn't spoken to in awhile.

One was my friend Miranda. She used to be my roommate, and at one point I couldn't imagine life without speaking to her every single day. Now months go by without touching base, and that's a crime.

The other was my sister Emily. Emily is probably one of the few people I speak to less than I speak to Miranda. She lives far, far away, in a different time zone, and in a world where they don't allow children or the kind of pants I wear - California. But I wish she loved next door.

One of my new resolutions is going to be to bother people on the phone more. Because I just shouldn't let so much time go by without touching base.

I'm going to use this as a quick opportunity to point out my new link to Secret Agent L's blog. She is a chronic do-gooder, fairy god-mother type. I don't know if I'd ever go so far as to become an official affiliated agent, but her blog has inspired me to plot certain Random Acts Of Kindness. I would encourage you to think about performing some yourselves. Make the world a better place, people.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Where The Heart Is

I have been gone for a few days. Not just from the internet, but from my home. I took a trip to Tennessee to visit my Aunt Betty and see how she's doing.

The trip away seemed like more than just a change of location. It was a trip to a different world. And yes, Tennessee is pretty different from New Hampshire in many ways. For one thing, it was a hundred degrees there. 100. Degrees. Hot. And humid. And sometimes, in the afternoon, it would rain, and the world would suddenly be under a huge waterfall. And when it stopped, it was not one bit cooler. Nope, not one little eensy weensy bit. It was just hot and wetter.

Sometimes I write about decisions Steve and I need to make about our children that have no right answer. Do we throw the child in the water screaming, or tell him it's fine if he never learns to swim? Neither answer feels right. Things like that.

Without going into too many details, Betty is currently living in a facility for elderly people suffering from memory loss. Visiting her was a shock to me, as her mind and body have both degenerated since I last saw her in April. I'm not sure if she couldn't find words to speak with me, or if she would lose her train of thought as soon as she started speaking. I spent a lot of time sitting, staring at walls or out of windows, and wondering if she knew I was me, her niece, or if she thought I was one of her caretakers.

I have visited assisted living facilities before, but none like this, that require a code to get in and out, and where the residents are so confused. There is no right choice to be made, here. Everything is wrong. I felt I couldn't leave Betty in such a place, but I also know she can't exist out of it. She needs someone sitting with her 24 hours a day. Worse than a toddler, because Betty still thinks she can drive. What do you do in a situation like this? Especially when she is far away from all her family?

Tough choices aside, the visit really made me cherish my mind and my physical abilities. I left determined to take better care of myself, to keep my mind sharp, to keep my body strong, and to take calcium supplements ALL THE TIME. So every night I went back to my hotel room, stuffed myself full of Kroger's brand cookies, and fell asleep at 8pm watching reruns of Law and Order without brushing my teeth.

And now I'm home. I'm glad to be here.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Take A Seat

This was the only empty bench at all of Clark's Trading Post..... hmmmm.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Best Photo Ever

I was trying to get a good photo of Andy while Steve and Nate were on the bumper boats. Two seconds after I took this picture I knocked down eleven people while sprinting to the restrooms with Andy in my arms.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Trading Post

The day after Santa's Village we went to Clark's Trading Post.

I had been there before, with just Steve. I remember this empty little lot, some ratty looking bears in a cage, and a gift shop where I could buy rocks.

But I can't remember everything perfectly, can I?

It turns out it's a Theme Park. (There are so many , remember?) And yes, there are bears. Including two baby bears. There is a bear show, which was very entertaining. There was a train ride, which Andrew was very excited about. And there were rides! Not a lot of rides, just a couple.

One was Merlin's Mystical Mansion. I didn't know what it was, but there was a sign out front saying not to ride if you were claustrophobic or a fraidy cat. I took the kids on it anyway. No one said I couldn't. We went on, and it was one of these illusion rides, where the room turns around while you're sitting in a chair, and it makes you a little dizzy... Nick LOVED it. He cried when we said he couldn't go on a second time.

And then Steve took Nick and Nate on the bumper boats. He didn't know there were water squirters on the boats. Ha ha!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


These penguins were all over Santa's Village. I insisted on taking this picture. About an hour into our visit we realized they were actually trash bins. The hats were lids that flipped up.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ho Ho Ho!

This past weekend, we went to Santa's Village.

Northern New Hampshire grows theme parks like Idaho grows potatoes. Seriously, you find them all over the place. But Santa's Village is the one with Santa. Santa!
I come to these places prepared. We had sunscreen, hats, snacks, and a change of clothes for after the Ho Ho H2O section of the park, which was the water park. We had such a good time! The boys got to ride the flume, the peppermint twist, and Andy all but threw himself in front of the train that rode around the park. The kids got to the water, and even though it was overcast and cooler, they splashed and rolled around and Andy screamed and cried when I made him come out because his lips were blue.

About five minutes after we changed into dry clothes, it started raining. And I don't mean a harmless sprinkle. I mean the gates of heaven opened up and buckets of water poured out of the sky. The wind whipped the drops sideways. And we all got soaked, including my cell phone which no longer works. That was when we called it a day. It stopped raining a few minutes after we left, but not before Andy and Nate passed out in the car.

We all had a really great time, though. Even Nick. He's lying in this photo.

Monday, August 09, 2010

God Forbid

Have you ever seen Life After People? It's a History Channel show about what would happen on the planet if all the people in the world just disappeared suddenly. Each episode looks at different angles. One looked at house pets, another at works of art, another at bridges... you know.

Well, the other day it occurred to me that if anything should happen to Steve and myself, our kids would probably last about fifteen minutes. After that, they will stab each other to death with legos and the final surviving boy will do himself off by leaping off the roof of the house onto a sprinkler.

Sunday, August 08, 2010


I now have some photos of my in the horribly overpriced sunglasses I purchased. Go ahead, tell me what I fool I am and how ridiculous I look. I don't care. I am wearing these forever, in all weather, and at night.

Here is a picture I took myself.

But taking a picture of one's self is a little difficult. So I handed the camera to Nick and told him to take his best shot.

Of course, then I had to give Nate the same opportunity.

Friday, August 06, 2010

I Want To RIde My Bike

I thought it would be a nice idea if I took the boys to the park to ride their bikes.

We usually ride bikes in the driveway, but that leaves the boys riding in circles before they lose patience and just ride down the hill. When I was a kid we lived on a dead-end street and we'd just go riding out there. When we got older, we'd ride around the streets of suburbia, with neither destination nor helmets on our heads. It was wonderful. My kids aren't getting within ten feet of the street we live on. Not even as teenagers. It's a different place, and a different time. I wouldn't even ride a bike on this street unless I had to.

So I took them to the park. Nick chose his scooter, which was great. He could go fast, zip back and forth, and have a great time. Nate chose his "big bike" with the training wheels. He does very well. I watched them from behind, because I was busy with Andrew. Andy was on the tricycle. Andy refuses to use the pedals, but like to scoot himself with his feet. He also refuses to steer, which means he ends up in the grass or bumping into other people, people he didn't see because he's actually looking behind him.

I ended up with my hand on the handlebars, pushing him along. It's no wonder he doesn't like to pedal. We were going rather slowly, but the pedals were flying. He'd have to pedal at supersonic speed just to keep up with Nate.

It was fun, but I don't think we're quite ready for the full length bike ride yet. Maybe one day. When Andy's legs are longer.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

From The Heart

After much thought and careful consideration on behalf of Steve, myself, and Nick's Kindergarten teacher, we have decided that Nicholas will not go to first grade next year. Instead, he is going to take an in-between year in in a classroom set up for children who are old enough, but not ready for, the first grade.

I have to be very careful what I say here, because the words are forever. I want to make it clear that I love my son, and I think he is a wonderful, bright, and intelligent child. He is extremely articulate, and observant in ways many other people are not.

I was not surprised when Nick's kindergarten teacher brought this up. I know my son, I see what he does, and I had a feeling. Nevertheless, this was a very difficult decision to make. Every parent likes to think they would make the right informed decision, but when faced with the reality it becomes more complicated. We all want what is best for our children. The question is, what exactly IS the right decision. Should I fight for my child and insist that he go into first grade, even though it might be harder for him? Should I keep him back a year? What if he still doesn't get better and he ends up being older than everyone and still has trouble? What if I push him forward and he starts thinking he's dumb? Will he feel humiliated when he's older than everyone? Will he feel humiliated when he's in third grade and struggling academically?

Any decision made is one that I will go back to when he gets to be a teenager and things get harder, as they inevitably will. Whatever I choose, I will insist that our problems would have been averted if only I had chosen the other road.

Steve asked me not to talk about this on the blog. I think this was his way of protecting his son, so that what should be a private issue remains a private one, and not get blown out of proportion, making it more stressful for the little guy. I commend him for that. While the decision was being made, I did not post about it. I waited until now, when it's time to start thinking about school clothes and school supplies. After all, school is starting soon, and I wanted to talk about it, just a little bit, so that there would be no confusion. Really, if it isn't a big deal, then why shouldn't I be able to mention it, just to inform family and friends? And it isn't a big deal. It's an extra year. It's a year for him to get older and used to learning, an extra year before prom and having him leave for college.

We are excited to start school. OK, maybe not the kids, but I can tell you that I am very excited for the kids to be starting school. I can't wait. And I think this is going to be a great year for every single one of my kids! And for me. And for Nick.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Naptime News

Despite being allowed to sleep in until about 6am every morning, I tend to become exhausted by noon. I've always hot a bit of a slump in the afternoons, even before I had children. But now I'm very used to there being a naptime to depend on.

The trouble is, the kids outgrow naptime. Parents do not. My own parents, in fact, are avid nappers. Steve crashes on the couch frequently. And I curl up with the boys and steal sleep when they go down. Or used to, because these days when I say "we are having lunch, and then we are taking a nap!" the older boys shout "not me! I'm not tired!" And then I have to try to convince them to just stay in bed for a few hours while Andy sings and repeats conversations from earlier in the day and finally settles down.

Seriously, if I curl up with them, I will fall asleep before they will.

Once Andy's asleep, whoever is still awake is staying awake. Sometimes Nick and Nate will already be asleep, and when that happens I have to clamp my hand over my mouth to keep my gleeful cackling from leaking out and waking the lot of them.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

$$$$$$$ and shopping and such.

When I was 22, I purchased my first coat.

No, not the first coat I ever had, silly. I'm talking about the first coat I ever purchased myself, by myself, for myself, with my own money.

I remember this coat. I wanted it so badly. I found it at the Burlington Coat Factory. It was a full length John Weitz men's coat. It was soft. It was also $200.

I don't know how much a coat should cost. I suppose a coat is like a t-shirt. There are $4 shirts and $100 shirts, and how much you pay is how much you can afford. So some readers might be confused as to why a $200 coat is such an issue for a pre-school teacher earning $14,000 a year. But let me tell you, it WAS.

But I saw this coat, and I couldn't stop thinking about it. I thought about it all the time. I visited it more than once. And then, finally, I went ahead and made the purchase.

Almost before I left the store I broke out in a sweat. My heart was beating so fast I could hardly believe it. In the car, on the way home, I was shaking. I actually made myself physically ill because I had just spent so much on something to wear.

And this was my very first case of buyers remorse.

Oh, I loved that coat. I wore it to shreds. I still have it, but I can't wear it because my arm keeps going through the holes in the lining instead of the sleeve. I kept that coat and wore it the way I use all of my things. I buy things and I use them until they fall apart on me.

And I rarely buy things. Not too long ago Lillian watched the boys for me while I went shopping, and I got some really nice, and a few expensive and not entirely needed, things. AS well as some shorts that won't fall off and let the world see what color my underwear is. And after that spree I felt not a bit of guilt. No shakes. Nothing but glee at my wardrobe's new additions.

But then, last week, I went to the eye doctor. My eyes are fine. But the doctor suggested I use my eyeglass benefit to get some sunglasses. I hadn't thought about this. And I have never actually purchased sunglasses before. But suddenly it seemed like a good idea. And after trying on frame after frame, the sales guy Andy Dick look alike handing me pair after pair, I finally picked of a pair of huge glasses, the frames painted in a geometric pattern.

And the Andy Dick guy suddenly fell silent. Then he said, very quietly, "Those are a very stylish pair of glasses." Which I think was his way of saying "Not for you. You can't pull those off."

Of course I got them.

Guess what? It could have also been the drops from the eye exam, but I got the headache. I got the shakes. I got the remorse.

I'll let you know how I feel once I've picked up the glasses.

Monday, August 02, 2010


When I decided to have the boys sit down every day and do a little work at home, I thought I might be asking too much of myself. I have gotten the boys these workbooks in the past, and they never followed the directions. "I don't feel like writing this, so I'm just gonna color it red!"

But I made little homework charts, showing the boys where each sticker would go for the math book, letter book, etc. And then I told them that, once the chart was filed with stickers, they could trade it in for an ice-cream cone or a cupcake at the cupcake place.

So then, when I got the "I don't want to count how many, I'm just going to scribble on the page" I would say "OK, but then you won't get a sticker for the job, and you won't have enough for an ice-cream on Friday." And it worked!

We've now gotten to the point where Nate sometimes asks to do homework on the weekend and we don't always even remember to do the stickers. But the boys all sit and do a little work every morning.

Except Andy, who sometimes sits and scribbles, and sometimes practices with safety scissors, but also sometimes goes in the other room to play trains.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

A Stitch In Time

Last week Gunther had a lump on his back removed.

It was nothing serious, but the lump was kind of gross, and had a habit of bleeding and oozing goo everywhere, and in an effort to make my dog less disgusting, we had this procedure done. Gunther has spent the last few days with this frankensteinish hairless patch of skin on his back. He isn't wearing a cone, because he can't quite reach the spot, but it hasn't stopped him from trying to bend himself in half like a pretzel.

While Gunther was at the vet, I made a change that has been a long time coming. If you've been to our home, you know that we fed the pets at the end of this hallway-like pantry off the kitchen. The dog was fed on the floor, and the cats on the counter, so that Gunther wouldn't eat their food. Unfortunately, the dog would just wait until he thought we weren't looking, and then he'd jump up and eat the cats' food anyway. He learned how to push aside any barrier we put up, bread machine, hand held vacuum, you name it.

Last week I put a baby gate up to the pantry. I moved to dog's food bowl and the water bowl to just outside the baby gate. Then I move the cats' bowls to the floor on the far end of the pantry, where Gunther's bowl used to be, so they no longer need to jump up on the counter.

Problem solved, right?

But not quite. Because our pets have taken this opportunity to show us just how stupid they are. Yes, they can probably do more algebra than I can, but the cats can NOT figure out that I have moved their bowls. And now, every single time I feed them, they watch me put the food into their bowls on the floor, and then jump up on the counter and start meowing their heads off. "Where is my food? Where? Feed us! Feed us, you mean old lady! Meowwwww!" Stupid cats. I have to pick up each furball and plop his right in front of his bowl. Despite the fact that it's the same bowls they used before, and the same food, they don't get it. And they only eat about three bites before wandering off.

Gunther, on the other hand, eats his food right away. But when he sees the cats eating in the spot that used to be his, and realizes he can't get there to eat the food first, he goes bonkers. He'll bark at the cats, and then at me. "My Food! My Food! The cats are eating my FOOD!" Stupid dog.