Monday, January 31, 2011


The Museum of Science has an exhibit which explains that an ant can walk on the ceiling because it is so small, but if it were 300 time bigger it wouldn't be structurally able to live.

Just as Andy, or someone his size, can remain suspended on the crusty lower level of older snow, while I need snowshoes to take three steps.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Evolution of snow

Remember that photo I posted of the chair on our deck covered in snow? This one:

Well this is what happened:

And then this:
The chair is still facing the shot. You can also see the back of a second chair facing the lump that used to be our grill.

If it has to snow, fine. But then the snow should move on. Melt. Discover other waterly forms and explore the world of soil and evaporation. It shouldn't be allowed to sit there and invite it's relatives.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Insanity For Youth?

This morning it snowed. Not a lot, just a little.

Snow can mess up my whole day. If you only have one thing to do, such as make it to school, or make it to work, then you don't know what I'm talking about.

But I had to get Nick on the school bus in the morning, and then head on over to the Library for Story Hour sign-ups. This is time sensitive because the library opens at 9am, but parents begin standing in line as early as 8:15 for the limited spaces (and because a few of them need to get to work and want to get out as early as possible.) Then I had to get Andy and Nate to their Gymnastics class at a little after 10am.

My car made it up the driveway, which was nice, because our driveway is steep, and even if it snows a little I can get stuck.

But I made it out, so I figured the rest of the morning would go smoothly.

It didn't.

I think of traffic jams as things that happen to Other People. People crazy enough to live or work in or near big cities. I do neither of those things. And yet, as I pulled out onto the major road in our little town, I realized it was full of cars. And those cars were not moving.

The highway had backed up traffic for miles. After ten minutes of waiting and then trying to reach the library via an alternate route, I found out the back roads leading to the one road that takes you to the highway were also backed up. It took me 45 minutes to get to the Library.

As I sat in traffic, watching drivers move slowly so they wouldn't slide into other cars, knowing that most of the people were running late for work, I thought "I must be crazy! Why as I sitting in the traffic just for a stupid Story Hour? I should turn around and go home."

Then I thought, "All of the other parents heading to Story Hour registration have probably turned around and gone home. Or they are also running late."

And then I thought, "Maybe that means I can still get a good number!"

Stubborn, crazy me. I did it.

There was traffic, and everyone was caught in it. I managed to register for Story Hour and get the boys to Gymnastics with no problem. (Except my car wouldn't make it up the driveway the second time, so I had to put the car seat in Steve's car and drive that.) Yes, it would have been easier and probably safer to just stay home. Chalk it up to my insanity.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

More about the Grocery Store

I believe I may have mentioned my experiences in grocery shopping.

Well, something happened last week. Because of the snow and the school schedules, I was forced to put my grocery shopping off by one day. One little day. 24 hours. Which brought me to the grocery store on a Saturday.

My mother refuses to grocery shop on a Monday during the summer. Apparently that is the day all the summer people shop, because they show up on Sunday and then food shop the following day.

Well... My old grocery store gets a little more crowded on the weekends. Most people work, you see. But I have never, ever seen anything as crazy as this "cheap" grocery store on Saturday.

See, in addition to being a Saturday, it had been a stormy and snowy week. So people were less likely to stop off for a few items on their way home, and came on Saturday instead.

It was a madhouse. I have never seen a store like this. Not during storms, not on sale days. Not in France. Not at Whole Foods in NY the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The lines for checkout went clear back into the produce section. After over two hours of pushing my way through the aisles, I spend a final hour waiting to be checked out and watching a teenage boy back items without the use of his brain.

So... from now on, I refuse to go to that store on a Saturday. I like it for weekdays, but in the rare case that I need to shop Weekends? I'm going back to My Old place.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Anywhere On The Map

Andy: Mom, will you show me where we live on this?

Me: But that's not a map, it's an Etch-a-Sketch.

Andy: Oh. Well, maybe I will draw a land!

Me: OK, you can do that!

Andy: Now show me where we live on this.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


It' is cold.

We've had a bunch of snow, and it's still out there, sitting there, waiting to be melted by the warm sun. Only that isn't happening, because it is too cold.

This morning, driving the boys to school, the car thermometer said it was -4 outside. It's bad when you've given up on double digits and just want them to be positive ones. On the good side of the Zero.

It's so cold that none of the kids are playing outside. The air bites through coats and hats. It hurts to breathe.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday Blues

I'm back.
I took a couple of days off from posting. Time got away from me, I had nothing to write about, you know the drill. I just... needed a couple of days.

I was hoping something would happen during this time, something interesting, that would generate dozens of post topics. But... no. It has been cold. It has been snowy. The kids have been crazy. I have been running behind on laundry and the house is a mess of cardboard boxes, wires I will need if I throw them away, and tiny wads of paper.

My goal this week is to catch up. To do that I will need total cooperation from whoever programs the weather and our health.

Friday, January 21, 2011

School's Out

The school called tonight. It is closed tomorrow. Because we are supposed to get snow. More snow. Because we already have more than we can use.

Remember last week when I posted a few photographs of snow on the deck? It was Wednesday of last week. Then we had the long Martin Luther King weekend with Monday off.

Tuesday it snowed again and the schools closed.

That night it rained. Schools were open on Wednesday, and I was kind of excited for some kid-free time. I made cookies for Nate's School Birthday celebration early in the morning. I packed up everyone's snow pants and boots and extra socks and hats and mittens. I packed Nick and Andy a snack. I made sure both Nate and Andy had show-and-tell items starting with the correct letters of the alphabet.

But the driveway was a skating rink. An uphill skating rink. I managed to get Nick to the top to wait for the bus, and he promptly sat down and slid down to the bottom on his behind. Even Steve's car wouldn't make it up. So then my head exploded, and I had to spend all day picking up little bits of brain out of the carpet.

See, none of the snow ever melted. It's as deep as it ever has been.

School is closed today. They called last night to let us know. More snow. On top of what we already have. Ugh.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Having Faith and Flexibility

When I was a kid, I used to bite my toenails.

This sounds really gross, and I can't dispute the hygiene trouble there. But my point isn't the nail-biting issue. It's the fact that I used to bring my foot to my face.

Not front ways, but from behind. It was just easier for me, I guess. And other than a few people making faces at me, I never really thought much about it.

I am now in my mid-thirties. And I am not flexible. At all.

It never really has been a strong point. I could never do a split. I was never double jointed. And in High School I was always the one who had trouble reaching her toes during stretches. I had trouble grabbing my ankles.

It never occurred to me that I could change this. I guess I just assumed that some people were not flexible, and I was one of them. The stretching that I have done over the years, even when I started working out, has been around stretching out a muscle just so I could work with it. Not increasing flexibility in any way.

I have started doing yoga. Basic yoga. Very basic yoga. In fact, the more I do it, the more basic it becomes, as I admit to myself that I have trouble doing a straight leg forward bend.

But I'm doing it almost every day. And, being mindful not to hurt myself, I am pushing myself a little bit. Because I have decided I want my body to be a little more flexible, and have decided that I can be, as long as I give it a try. It's not too late. All I have to do is have a little faith in myself, and the discipline to follow through.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

White Out

New England in the winter is all white.

The leftover snow on the ground is a dull white. If there is no snow, the ground with it's winter grass is gray. The sky is white overcast with cold clouds. The trees are bare, gray. If there are leaves, they are a dull brown. Even the evergreens are more gray and black than bright green.

It makes me want to wear bright colors, pink and bright blue and purple. Maybe even orange, if I had anything that was orange. I don't, Thank Goodness. It doesn't suit my complexion.

But it made me think of some story I heard when I was a kid - I don't think it was Frosty. But it had something to do with colored snow and ice - the either build a snowman out of colored snow, or the snowman melted into colors... neither of those makes much sense, I guess.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to Easter Eggs, with vibrant colors. I kind of want to go out and start decorating this second.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Today is another Snow Day.

You would think this might give me some extra time to write a few insightful and interesting blog posts.

But you you be thinking incorrectly.

See, snow days mean vacation only for the children. And the teachers. It means a day of no school, a day of TV and play and maybe of tromping through the snow.

If you are a working parent, it means trying to work from home, yelling into the phone and covering your other ear in an attempt to block out the sounds of your children throwing legos at each other and making loud, shooting-exploding noises at each other. Or, if you can't work from home and don't wish to call in sick, it means scrambling to try and find childcare at the very last minute, knowing that all over every other parent is also trying to find last minute childcare, and that it isn't safe to go anywhere anyway.

If you are not a working parent, a snow day means extra work. It means having to change kids in and out snowgear, finding a place to store the soggy snow gear, making lunch, doling out an endless supply of snacks, moderating arguments, monitoring the time each child spends with the coolest toys, enforcing forgotten rules, all while trying to do the housework you usually cram into a two-hour window of freedom, but instead it takes you all day because everything seems to undo itself each time you turn your head. It's not a day off. It's overtime. Unpaid overtime.

I am writing this during nap time, which means I am in my bed with Andy's head under my armpit. Nate and Nick are having "quiet time" downstairs, which means they play kind of quietly, gradually getting louder until I break down and shout "QUIET TIME!" from up here on the bed. The shouting causes Andy to wake up a little more. The older boys are silent for a minute, then begin playing softly again, starting the slow crescendo over.

given all that's going on, I just can't think of anything proper to write.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Life On Hold

I was sitting in my bed with Andrew. We were both reading, but I was really trying to get him to take a nap. It's how we do things - read until we pass out. We're alike that way. And at nap time, it's kind of like a competition to see who can stay awake the longest. Some days I win. Some days he wins.

We'd been sitting there for awhile, and I noticed that he wasn't settling. In fact, he was shifting around in a funny kind of way.

"Andy, do you need to use the potty?" I asked.

Andy nodded. Then he handed me the book he was reading as he climbed off the bed. "Here," he said. "Pause this."



Because otherwise the book would just keep on reading itself, I guess, and might end before he got back?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Happy 5th Birthday, Nathan!

Happy Birthday To You!

Happy Birthday To You!

Happy Birthday, Dear Nathan!

Happy Birthday To You!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Organized My Links

I have reorganized my Links.

You know, those things on the left side of the text? When you click on them, they take you places? Not physically, but virtually?

Anyway, until now they have all been clumped together. But over the past few weeks I discovered a couple of new sites that I find so funny I laugh until I cry when I go to them. They are White Whine and (especially) DamnYouAutocorrect. And I wanted to include links to them on this blog. But somehow it felt wrong to include them with links to other, tamer blogs that I like, especially as the blogs can be so different.

I like some blogs that include strong language, as well as others that feature mainly photographs of babies. So I divided the links like this:

People I Know: these are mainly blogs by people I know. Many of them I have actually met in person. But not all. I might have just been following their blog for so long that the line has been blurred.

Places To Go: these are sites that I think are funny. They are supposed to make you laugh. If they don't, please don't go there.

Inspirational: This doesn't really need an explanation, does it?

The lines may blur. People I Know may inspire me, or may be funny, and sometimes I just dont' know where to put people. This is why I hate boxes. Because we all fit into more than one box, right? But I hope this helps, and if nothing else, it gave me something to do.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Wee Little Mousie

Just before Christmas I found evidence of a mouse in my kitchen cabinets.

We have cats and a dog, so I was a little surprised. I cleaned up, washing everything in the drawers, wiping down the shelves and the insides. I called a halt to composting until spring. I started packing food more tightly, even though there was no evidence of mice in the places I actually keep food. Only utensils. I think it's because the mice live in the walls, and they would have to cross the kitchen floor to get to the cabinets we keep food in. Anyway, long story short, I hoped that the mice would just, you know, go away.

But they didn't. I decided I would have to try to get rid of it myself. So I went out to buy a mousetrap.

There are many kinds of mousetraps. You can get the old-fashioned kind, like in Tom & Jerry, with the snapping wire. This will harm the mouse, but might not kill it, and then you have to dispose of a dead or a live-but-hurt mouse. Or you can get a glue trap, a big square covered with glue, which keeps the mouse glued to it, again, not killing it. Although I've heard stories about mice gnawing off limbs to escape. And then you have to dispose of a trapped live mouse who is going to die, or dispose of gnawed off limbs.

There are also box traps. These lure mice into them and then either kill them, or leave them unharmed to be set free outside the house.

I stood in the grocery store aisle weighing all the information, taking into account gnawed off limbs, dead mice in my drawers, etc. And I made my decision,

I purchased two traps and set them up that night, one on a drawer, one in a cabinet.

The next morning, before feeding the boys, I opened the drawer. I immediately started shouting, "OH my God! There's a mouse in the drawer! There's a mouse in the drawer!"

The boys, naturally flocked over to see the mouse.

"Well, " I explained, "you can't see it because it's in that box. At least I think it's in that box. Maybe the door shut all on it's own last night. Or maybe there's a mouse in there. Nate, pick up the trap and tell me if it's heavy and there's a mouse in there. No, don't shake it!"

"Is it dead?"

"I don't think so. It's supposed to be alive, and I have to set it free. We have to take it away from the house. Maybe we could drive...."

But we couldn't drive anywhere, because this was the morning of the big snowstorm, and there was a foot of snow in our driveway. Nor could I just let the mouse out at our doorstep, because it would just run back inside.

"I need to take the mouse to the bushes up near the street," I said.

"Can we come?"


I put on my tall yellow rain boots and my long winter coat over my pajamas. Then I realized the mousetrap was still on the counter, and my boots were leaving clumps of dirt on the floor.

"Andy, can you bring me that trap?"

Andy reached up and picked it up, but let it fall sideways. "Carry it straight, Honey, OK? There's a mouse in there."

Andy suddenly screamed, startled (maybe the mouse moved?), dropped the trap on the floor, and ran away, shouting and flapping his little arms. Nathan screamed "a mouse! a mouse!" and ran away from the trap, but the opposite way around the kitchen island from Andy, so that they both met halfway around and stood there, shouting and dancing on their toes. I stomped across the kitchen in my big yellow boots and winter getup to see the trap lying on the floor on the far side of the kitchen island. The door was still closed.

"Did the mouse run away?" I asked.

"No. We didn't SEE the mouse..."

I picked up the trap, very carefully. It seemed heavier than I remembered.

"Watch me from the window, OK?" I said. And I headed outside.

This is a good time to mention that Steve was away on a business trip. Or else he would have been appointed mouse-disposal duty.

The snow was very high at that point. I wasn't sure where to go, only that I didn't want to just dump the little thing out onto the snow, if it was, indeed, alive. Or even if it was dead. Because then I would have to stare at it's little frozen corpse, or else the boys would discover it when they came out to play and make a snowman. So I walked it over to the farthest corner of our front yard, next to some bushes. My reasoning was that, if it did indeed make it back to a house, at least it would have others to choose from instead of ours.

I turned the trap so the door faced down and opened the door. Nothing happened, and the door slipped shut. I opened it a second time and shook the trap a little. Again, nothing happened right away, and I wondered if it had just shut all on it's own after all - maybe the cat on the counter had set it off? Maybe I had just trudged through the snow with an empty plastic box? I was just about to flip the the trap and look inside it to confirm when the mouse jumped out.

It was a big fat mouse. Not huge, but a lot bigger than I had anticipated. I didn't get a great look because it ran right under the bush, and I was busy shouting and moving away as fast as I could.

And then I stomped back to the house and promptly set the trap up again. Steve said the thing will just make it's way back in, and that might be the case, but at least now I know how to get rid of it. And the next time I can drive it somewhere else. Like down the street.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Chair is Still A Chair...

...even when it's covered in snow.

These were taken just before noon on Wednesday.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


We are having a snowstorm.

I's the biggest one so far this season. The one we got after Christmas was a few inches, but nothing as serious for us as it was for New York or D.C.

And the last time they predicted a snowstorm we got all of half an inch. One. Half. Inch.

Right now there is a foot of snow outside my door. All activities have been cancelled. All schools closed. My only worry now is how to clear the snow out of my driveway once it stops (ask neighbor with snowplow) and letting the boys watch too much TV once they get too cold and wet.

Right now, before I start to hate it for being cold and wet and keeping me indoors, I have to say the snow is beautiful. Really. As long as it's viewed through a window.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Dalai Lama

I watched a documentary about the Dalai Lama yesterday.

In this documentary, he said something about it being better to be poor. I can't remember the exact quote, but it was along the lines of people who are wealthy worrying about losing their weath. As soon as a person has something, they try for a little bit more. They want a little bit extra, they worry about losing their money, or their house, or their car... But poor people, people who are poor and have nothing beyond the most basic necessities, do not have these worries. They are glad for what they have, and don't worry about losing anything.

Now, I'm not so sure about this. It made sense when I heard it, but now, thinking about it, I wonder about bitterness setting in. I mean for the poor people. Or maybe His Holiness was speaking about people who are so poor they do not own a TV?

In any case, I bring this up because of the first part. The part about our worries being connected to wealth and material things.

See, I tend to yell a lot. I don't mean to, I keep promising myself that I'm going to calm down, to speak softly but firmly, whatever... but I always end up screaming my head off, steam pouring out my ears.

And it occurred to me this morning that I mostly yelled about material things. Toys, mostly. All over the floor. Broken. Stepped on. Boys play with toys instead of dressing in the morning. They bring them to the table and spill their milk. They leave their bathrobes - something I consider a luxury for a 6-year-old - on the floor. They argue over who gets to give the pets a treat.

I worry about taking my car in to get serviced. I worry about driving it in the snow. Steve worries about his boat during storms.

Seriously - I worry that we won't find the flights we need to go on vacation. I worry about what to bring on those vacations. I worry about finding food my family will eat on vacations.

I worry about throwing away too much food.

I guess there is something to be said about removing clutter from one's life.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Best Pet Yet

"I'm not scary, Mom. I'm just cute!"

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Saturday, January 08, 2011

We Are Family

My cousin Charlotte came for a short visit the other night. It's been years since we've seen each other. She had never met Nate or Andy. It was just so good to see her again!

Friday, January 07, 2011

Tea for Me

I found this tea...

It's a Republic of Tea tea. Herbal. They have a line of "Get Some" teas. Actually, the formal name would be "Be Well Red Teas," but the teas are named "Get Clean" or "Get Gorgeous" or "Get Wellness." I happened to purchase a tin of "Get Some ZZZ's" back before Christmas, when I was having trouble sleeping through the night.

I love this tea.

It's not how it tastes, even though I really like it. It's not so bitter and I can drink it with the bag still in it and no sweetener. But no, what's great about this tea is the dreams.

See, I don't get knocked out like with a medication, like Advil PM or some cold meds. I get a little sleepy, but it just feels like I'm sleepy.

Once I'm asleep, though, my dreams get loopy. They have this busy quality, like a lot is happening in them, and I get really caught up in what's going on in them. It could just be me, but I love dreams, especially good ones. And these are good ones.

At some point I realize the effect is going to wear off, but I'm enjoying it while I can. Also, you should try some of these teas. This one worked for me, so maybe the others work, too? You can check them out here.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Get Around To It

I wanted to start working out again in earnest. But I can't seem to find the time. I'm taking the cat to the vet and driving the kids to and from school or the library or piano or gym. I can't even find time to take down the Christmas decorations.

I could do it if it weren't for the shower. I mean, I can find the time to run, I really could, but then I'd have to jump in the car and spend the rest of the day smelling like a locker room. Ewww. And there's no shortening the run. I mean, seriously, who runs for five minutes? Is it even worth putting on sneakers?

Well... maybe...

Wednesday, January 05, 2011


Yesterday Nick walked into the bedroom, where I was sorting laundry. "Mom," he said, "Can you sew my socks?" And he showed me the bottoms of his feet. The holes in his heels were as big as... well, his heels. He could have kept pulling and worn them as legwarmers.

"Nick, those socks are done," I said. "Throw them away when you take them off later."

Nick began to cry. "But I LOVE these socks! These are my FAVORITE socks!"

It doesn't matter that the socks are cheap Target socks. It doesn't matter that I tell him I will buy him more. It just matters that I'm Throwing Something Away!

Nick used to have the job of emptying the smaller trash cans from around the house. I took that job away from him, though, because half of the things I threw away ended up on Nick's nightstand. Once, I found an empty Listerine bottle there. Why is this special? So special he can't part with it?

That same afternoon I was doing parent stuff in his school classroom and found six empty yogurt squeeze tubes. He said he was keeping them for the jokes printed on the sides...

Should I worry?

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

No Doctor

This photo, one I took New Year's Eve, captures the beautiful table we ate at. It doesn't show the food, but it hints at the asparagus fettuccine, the carmelized pears in prosciutto, lobster ravioli... I have to stop because thinking about it is driving me nuts. Anyway, this photo hints at that, at at the wonderful company kept.

And it has nothing at all to do with what I wanted to post about today.

We did not see a doctor. I took temperatures this morning, and since everyone was normal and no one complained of sore throats or headaches or tummy troubles, I sent everyone to school. Then I volunteered at the school myself, picked up the younger two, made them lunch, registered Nate for kindergarten, put Andy down for a nap, rushed off to buy groceries, quickly cleaned out the fridge, gave the boys a snack, wrapped a birthday present, folded a load of laundry, took Andrew to an evening birthday party at a bounce house, drove him home, did the dishes, gave the boys a bath, read them stories, put them to bed, folded another load of laundry, and then inflated a super wonderful purple yoga ball.

Just another day in the life of Fleen. Back to normal.

Tomorrow I'm going to work out and make it to the party store, the book store, take the boys to gymnastics class, Nick to karate - oh! I have to sew on his patch! - and clean out the litter box. And start taking down these Christmas decorations. And call Lillian because I will need her help in a big way when Steve's job enters travel mode.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Brand New Year

I like the idea of starting off with a clean slate. Getting back into our routine should be seamless.

Unfortunately, it looks like we partied ourselves sick in New York. No, we aren't hung over. We're tired, we have sore throats, headaches, and a couple of us have low fevers. And also, looking at Andy's throat with a flashlight was a little like a B science fiction movie.

So we may begin the New Year with a small visit to the pediatrician. We've missed her, anyway.

But if all else goes well, I will post only interesting, engaging, thought provoking material every day from this point forward. Really. I promise. Sort of.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy New Year

Here's wishing everyone a wonderful 2011.