Sunday, October 31, 2010

Haunted Happenings

Happy Halloween to all of you!

The past few days have been a frenzy of decorating, carving, costuming, and consuming sugary treats. The culmination is, of course, trick-or-treating tonight.

Here are some pictures for those who can't wait:

Our front hall decked with lights and bats I made for a party in the year 2000:Andy and Nathan's Pumpkins:

Nick's pumpkin, the first he ever carved (with those little saw thingies, not a big scary knife):

My annual jack 'o lantern of horrifying somethingness (I went sideways this year! Go me!):

Dan the Bakugan Brawer, Woody the cowboy, and a random scary and loud ghost:

I wish you all much chocolate and candy!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Car Clutter

I keep an ongoing list of "odd jobs" that I get to do in order. These are things that need doing, but are not urgent, such as cleaning out the hall closet or organizing the junk drawer. The list keeps me from feeling overwhelmed at the number of things I need to do - I have permission to forget about a task once it's on my list. It also keeps me from putting jobs off for too long, since I have to do it before I can move on to other jobs.

If it weren't on my list, I might have put off cleaning out my car for a few more weeks. But once I did, I loved it. I underestimate the time I spend in my car, and having a clean space can make all the difference in terms of smiling and relaxing. Once clean, I promised myself I would do better. From now on, I thought, I will keep my car this clean All The Time!

The thing is, I am not the only one in my car. There are little boys in the back who bring things into the car, leave them in the car, and eat things in the car. And as my brother Winston once said, as I handed him some crackers to feed to a toddler in the back seat, "Should I give them to Nick, or just crumble them right onto the floor?"

I started Wednesday morning with a clean car, but that day the boys had school, we had library story hour, and Nick had his piano lesson. By the time we got home that afternoon I had to make several trips to bring in the backpacks, art projects, the container of leftover food from lunch, the juice boxes from snack, a bag of library books, the trick-or-treat bags Nate made at story-hour, the halloween costume Nate brought with him to Story-hour, Nick's piano music, Nick's jacket, and the toys the kids took with them to Nick's Piano lesson, and the bag that I keep my wallet and keys in.

No wonder the car gets so cluttered.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

When Andy's not looking, Nate wears the Woody hat.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I went to the dentist last week.

It was all messed up. First off, I had to take Nick with me, because he had a fever higher than 100 less than 24 hours earlier.

And then there was the fact that it was a new dentist. You may recall me posting about my old dentist. It was this guy with a beard and a pony tail who lived in the middle of nowhere, worked out of a home office, and had no receptionist or hygienist, just him. And he was great, my appointments always began on time, lasted twenty minutes, and had no copay. But his equipment was old, he sent the bill to the insurance company 6 months late, and he didn't call to remind me about my next appointment. Before I knew it, it had been a year and I hadn't seen him, so I figured I'd try the place I take the kids.

It took forever, and it wasn't even a cleaning, just x-rays. Which were the really cool new ones that just show right up of the computer... My last dentist didn't even have a computer to record appointments, he used a big calendar and a pencil. But it turns out I have two cavities. My whole life I've only ever had one. So I guess I'm due. But still... yuck.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fashion Sense

Here is a great action shot of Nathan on a day he dressed himself. This is why he is never allowed to dress himself. Yes, those are PJ bottoms. And I don't know if he's wearing socks.

Monday, October 25, 2010

New England

Living in New England, the sticky buggy summers and the cold, freezing dreary winters, is worth it for the fall.Fall here lasts about a week. It starts with a blush of color in the leaves, and suddenly the color just pops out. It lasts until the first heavy wind or rain, and then we have dead leaves clogging or gutters and cluttering our lawns and naked trees letting us see right into our neighbors' yard.

But the leaves... in some places, the sun shines right through them, and the air itself turns. Driving home, I caught Andrew chanting softly, "yellow yellow yellow yellow orange orange yellow..."

I only have pictures of our backyard, though.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Here's The Deal

We are sick. Again.

It started Monday, when the school nurse called and reported that Nick had a headache and a fever. This happened to be a week Steve was away on business All Week.

Poor Nick had a headache, fever, body aches, and a sore throat. I took him to the doctor Tuesday, and again Friday. He seems better today, meaning he has no fever, but his throat is still sore. You can hear it when he talks. He pronounces things differently. His speech is muffled.

It's amazing how one sick kid can throw off a schedule. We couldn't do anything. Andy and Nate couldn't do anything because I couldn't bring Nick and there was no one I could leave him with. The TV went on and the kids watched it and that's about all that happened All Week.

I was looking forward to next week. Steve is back, and Nick may be better for school on Monday. But now Andy and Nate are both sick. They both have headaches and fevers and are tired and cold. Based on how long it took Nick to recover, chances are good that we'll all end up at home Monday. Which is too bad, because it's my volunteer-at-school day.

Also, if I don't get some serious running in soon, I'm going to turn into a giant muffin.

And I refuse to get sick myself. Not gonna happen.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hours In The Day

On one hand, I have a list of things I need to do more of. Play with my children. Put laundry away right away. Not let clutter build up on the kitchen counter. Put away summer clothes.

On the other hand, I go from day to day with hardly five minutes to myself. I consider it a break if I get to use the bathroom uninterrupted. So when, exactly, am I supposed to fit these things in?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Heat Is On

Yes it is.

In our house, at least. It's been cold, and mornings have been unbearable. So I broke down and turned everything up to sixty.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Groceries - An Update

So I went back to The Cheap Grocery Store.

It's not really that bad, once you get over the bananas in the plastic bags. It has a modest selection of organic produce, most of which I ignored because I'm still trying to get my bearings. I managed to find a number of products I missed the last time, such as my tikka simmer sauce and 7th generation laundry detergent. And other products that I couldn't find in the right packaging, such as the kitty litter I like in the big cardboard boxes instead of the bags or the plastic jugs, I found alternative brands of. And other items, like the greenworks stuff I like to get to clean my floors, I realized I hadn't been finding at my Old Store anyway.

People were friendly and helpful. The deli folks, though not half as comforting as the lady I know at my old store, was three times quicker. This times I bought more of the things I usually do, so the cost was higher, but it was still much less expensive than it would have been.

I still get bothered, though, by the way they have the store laid out. There are frozen foods next to the produce, where they stock frozen pizzas and vegetables and waffles. But all other breakfast items are, inexplicably, clear at the other end of the store with the chicken nuggets and frozen lasagnas. I don't understand why they bothered to split these things up, or why they grouped them together like they did. Shouldn't all breakfast items be together? And the french fries, I think, should be closer to the chicken nuggets.

Steve pointed out that I've been shopping at the same store for six years. So yes, I am used to things being a certain way. I don't want to miss out on something because I'm set in my ways.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Make Up!

I am putting on Andy's shoes, a process that involves running him down and then distracting him long enough to get him to sit on my knee or stand while I wrestle his foot into his shoes. This brings our faces pretty close together, and I am never surprised when he reaches out and grabs my face to contort my features into funnier versions.

But today Andy looks at me and asks "Mom, what's on your face?"

And my heart sinks. "It's make up," I reply.



Yes, I have started wearing make-up.

I have never been a make-up person. AS a teenager, I was always VERY aware of make-up on my face, so I never wore it. And I never really needed to. In my twenties, make-up was restricted to fancy events, and even then it was usually just a little eye-liner and lip stick. I guess I felt that one day I would begin making my face up every day, but that day seemed far, far off in the future.

The other day I caught sight of myself in the mirror in the middle of the day, and I was very surprised at what I saw. This reflection, it wasn't mine. The hair was wild and frizzy (ok, that could be me) but the eyes were just so tired and poofy. No, not me. That person was old. That person needed to do something with herself because she was falling apart.

And it really made me sad. Because I'm really careful about washing my face and moisturizing, and that was supposed to keep my skin looking youthful forever. So I tried applying make-up, but I ran into another problem: I don't know how. Oh, sure I have a technique, but it's the one I learned when I was thirteen and my friend Larissa sat me down with an article I think she got in Cosmo and we practiced applying. I've been doing it the same way ever since. And quite honestly, it doesn't do much to hide old poofy wrinkled and emerging laugh lines.

I acknowledge that I am at a point where I need to decide if I'm going to be a make-up person or not. I need to figure out if I'm going to do my face each day, or be the woman who doesn't. When I'm feeling down and think I need a little pick-me-up, I've been doing my best. But usually, the choice is made for me. Like when I step out of the shower after my run, glance at the clock, and realize I was supposed to pick up Andrew five minutes ago, so I pull clothing over my still wet body, pull back my soaking hair with a hair band, and grab my keys on the way out.

That's how my kids are used to seeing me. Which is why Andy gets so confused when I look half-way decent.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Who's The Best Mom In The Whole Wide World?

My mother never bought us sweet cereals. Nothing with too much sugar or marshmallows. Naturally, I then ate nothing but Lucky Charms my entire freshman year at college.

I don't deprive my children of cereals like these. They are allowed to request sugary cereals, but they count as a treat. Like ice cream. And they are not allowed at breakfast.

OK, I might actually encourage the occasional marshmallow cereal. Honestly, the boys don't eat it. Nick doesn't like the marshmallows, and the others only like the marshmallows, not that anyone would split a bowl. I end up eating most of it. But I, too, enjoy an occasional Franken Berry fix.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Sometimes Nathan makes lunch for all his friends.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Playground Construction

Playgrounds these days are made of rubber and plastic. Monkey bars have been replaced with soft climbing trees. It's a little different in New York, where a few playgrounds still have climbing structures made out of cobblestones.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Nate in NY

He asked me to take his picture, so I did.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Carriage Ride

This photograph is proof that I am a terrible photographer. Nate is in the carriage somewhere.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


The boys really love Central Park. It's so much better than all the nature we have up here.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The City That Never Sleeps

I went to New York.

Usually, when I make weekend trips, I post in advance. But this time I didn't. I just didn't have the time.

I actually wasn't sure I was going to get to go until the last minute, with Nate being so sick. But I had packed, just in case, and when I told the boys we might not get to go, they started to cry.

But anyway, I'm back.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Wishful Thinking

Andy: More french fries please!

Me: No. I can't give you more. You never had any. We're not eating french fries. It's chicken.

Andy: Oh.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

And then... and then and then and thehhhhnnn.

I wasn't going to write a post for today. It's been a busy weekend, and I have a lot to do.So I thought I would sit a day out and let the Tuna Fish Lady post really sink in while I caught up on a few things, like cleaning my house and sleeping.

And then, this morning, I took Nate and Andy to gymnastics class.

To understand the full impact of what happened, you have to know a few things.

1 - The gym is a huge, open space, divided into different sections by the type of equipment that is in it. The parents stay in the upstairs section, and from there they can look out over the entire gym at once.

2 - There is a huge trampoline that runs the length of the gym sideways. If you are a parent, looking down, you can see the kids jump right past you. They then usually loop around, doing jumping or rolls to get back to the starting point.

3 - Nate had been moving slowly all morning, but I thought he was just tired.

4 - Gravity is the force that causes two objects to be drawn to one another, but on earth we see it mainly and the force that causes things to fall down.

So then... Nate's teacher was having the kids slide down this big wedge on their tummies. The wedge is like a big mat, but it's three feet on one side, and inclines down in a big triangle. It's supposed to help the kids learn to do rolls, with the help of gravity. But Nate's teacher was having them stretch out on their tummies and pushing their legs to get them to slide right down.

The three girls in Nate's class had just gone down, and they were waiting at a point further along, so all the focus was on Nate, who was at the top of the wedge, on his tummy. Right in front of all the parents. And Nate's teacher took a hold of his legs and lifted them up to give them a push...

... and Nate threw up.

It was like his legs were a switch. Bend them and he pukes! That's how immediate it was.

But the thing was, he was on his tummy, on the wedge. So, gravity doing what it does, all the puke ran down and headed for the floor, in a huge stream about five feet long.

By this time I had already screamed "OH MY GOD!" and slammed down my coffee mug and was dashing down the stairs.

Nathan is fine. I think. I hope. Because if this is something going around I'm going to sell all of us on ebay. Also, he wouldn't nap and now he's being his usual loud self.

But boy, am I embarrassed. And flustered. And upset that I didn't see it coming when he was acting so slow and sluggish. And occasionally convinced that this feeling in my gut isn't nerves but that I GOT IT and that I'm going to be up all night throwing up myself.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Crazy Tuna Fish Lady

People tease my brother Winston about being so nostalgic that he is allergic to any sort of change. Oh, maybe not to his face - sorry Winston, if you didn't know. But it's true. You want everything to be the way it was when you were seven years old. I feel a little bad saying, it, but not too bad, as I don't think you read this blog.

Anyway, it turns out that Winston is not the only one resistant to change. Read carefully. I am about to document a breakdown.

I have begun the long process of planning two separate vacations, to be taken over the next couple of years. And although both trips are still in the planning stages, it has become obvious that the biggest issue for both of them is money. Plane tickets are expensive, folks.

As are gymnastics lessons, piano lessons, karate memberships, and pre-school. None of which I am willing to give up. Yet.

And so I am forced to look at the other places we spend our money. We need a house. We need a car. The one place I consistently spend money is the grocery store. And although I realize I cannot expect my family to stop eating, I took a hard look at the way I was spending my money.

I buy my groceries at a specific store. I drive out of my way to do it. I simply like the store better than the others. But I do recognize that there may be other places I can buy our groceries more cheaply.

One of these grocery store, I shall call it The Cheap Store, is across the street from where I like to shop. (We'll call that: The Old Store.) I usually avoid The Cheap Store because, not only have I found the inside dirty and disorganized when I have gone in, but the people who shop there seem, somehow, to have fewer brain cells than a lot of society. I shouldn't say this - I don't mean it. I mean, Lillian sometimes shops there, the same store and different locations, and she has found it to work for her. And I know that I haven't met any of the people who push their carts directly in front of my moving vehicle. But for some reason, at this particular store, I assume everyone in the place is mentally deficient.

But I recognize that this is not real. This is a bias on my part.

And since my grocery bills seem to be climbing higher, despite checking diapers off our list, I decided to give it a try.

Now, I need to explain here that part of the reason our grocery bills are higher have to do with the items I buy. I have, of late (but wherefore I know not?) started buying organic and naturally grown food items. I try to avoid plastic packaging. I make an effort to buy local. I buy more expensive soaps that are fragrance and paraben free. After more than an year of exploring and trying and getting used to, Steve and I had a heart to heart, and I decided to scale it back a bit. And I have. In certain places.

But still, I gave The Cheap Grocery Store a try.

I knew I would have trouble. I am a very organized person. I always use a list, and I make that list, without thinking about it, so that the items I need appear in the order I will run into them as I walk through The Old Grocery Store. I knew that The Cheap Store was laid out differently, and I also knew they might not have certain things I wanted or was used to getting.

Within ten minutes I was pacing the produce department, looking for the bananas that were not in plastic bags. Seriously, every single bunch was in a plastic bag for some reason. My Old Store has them in free bunches. I was more upset than I should have been over a plastic bag.

I had a hard time finding meat. I have started buying meat from animals never given antibiotics, a line My Old Store has under the store's natural food line, and at The Cheap Store only high priced meat packing brands were available for much more than even I was willing to spend.

They didn't have my cat litter in the big cardboard boxes, only the smaller plastic jugs.

They didn't have my Tikka simmer sauce at all.

Everything was laid out so differently I was so confused. The meat is all stretched out along a wall, so you need to walk around the store three times unless you know exactly where everything is.

I was unable to find any natural or earth friendly beauty products at all. Not even the Suave Fragrance Free stuff the kids use.

And before I knew it, I realized I was so upset I was almost crying. I was passing aisles of sugar cereal, cookies, bottle water - WATER, for crying out loud. It should be illegal to sell that stuff in plastic bottles. And the people I was passing.... this sounds awful, but the people in My Old Store, they look kind of like me. I look more like them. No, this isn't a race thing. It's... I want to say it's a health thing. There were a LOT of overweight people. A lot of people coughing with really bad complexions. Yes, I know it's the middle of the day and a lot of people are at work. But still.

So, I worked myself up to a tizzy, wondering why I was even here. It was cleaner than I remembered. They had fixed the store up, but was it worth it? I mean, I was in tears, and there were twenty people in the deli line. I was crying in the grocery store because I had to walk back and get the cheeze-its. (They are in the same aisle as the baby food for some reason.) I was like the Crazy Tuna Fish lady from that Christopher Durang monologue! You know the one, and if you don't, you probably have heard it because EVERYONE has heard that one. I mean, that lady is just so crazy and neurotic! Nobody is like that.

Except me.

I felt crazy. Honestly. That's as honest as I can be. It suddenly hit me that I was the odd one. I am the crazy lady who needs such strange items they don't even carry them in a normal grocery store. Who wants bananas, but not in a plastic bag! They must all think I am a lunatic. And I kind of feel like one.

When I checked out, it was $100 less than a good day at My Old Store. I bought pretty much the same stuff, only leaving out a few things. ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS. That's a lot of cash to not spend every week.

But I still feel wrong. I feel out of place. And it makes me so tired. It's just a GROCERY STORE for goodness sake! This is a tiny little thing. We ended up with most of the same items. And financially, it makes so much more sense. But there is a little voice in my head screaming "No! No!"

So... Sorry, Winston. I win.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

I know, I know

I need to pull out my camera and start taking a few more pictures.

It's just that we're not always in the mood.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Little Things

Sometimes I get so caught up in writing these posts, I forget to mention the little things that make the day so wonderful. I don't talk about how proud Nick was to play a song on the piano all by himself, or how Andrew's teachers were surprised at how clearly he suddenly started speaking.

And there are moments I can't put into words, like how Nathan tried to sing "Down By The Bay" to Steve during lunch, with his mouth full, and Andy then decided to sing his own song, something called "Firetruck" at the same time, so that muffled "fly with a polka-dot-tie" overlapped with "firetruck, firetruck, firetruck" and both of them staring at Steve and bouncing...

Friday, October 01, 2010


I've started volunteering at Nick's school.

It's only one morning every couple of weeks, but it's exciting because I get to help out, and also to stick my head in every once and awhile and see how he's doing. I do a few mundane tasks, like make copies and cut out whatever shapes the kindergarten classes need for their projects. But I also get to go to the Library with Nick's class. I help the kids check their books in and out, which is fun.

I'm glad I'm doing this. Not only because I feel good doing it, or because I get to interact with a few kids. But I'm going to be involved in this school system for years. After Nick I have Nathan and Andrew. I plan on getting to know this library very well. And the copy room. I can feel comfortable in the halls and in the office. And I can get to know the people that will be seeing my sons every day for the next few years.