Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Gift for Every Child

Even the furry ones.

Who doesn't like catnip?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Four Gifts

1 - a state of tranquility or quiet
2 - freedom from oppressive thoughts or emotions
3 - harmony in personal relations
5 - a pact or agreement to end hostilities beween those at war or in a state of enmity

1 - a desire accompanied by an expectation or belief of fulfillment
2 - to expect with confidence

1 - a strong affection for another
2 - unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another

1 - a state of happiness or felicity

I wish you a healthy dose of each. For tonight, for tomorrow, for all of 2013. Forever.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Magical Thinking

My kids believe in Santa Clause.

I'm putting that out there because I know there is a time in every child's life when they stop believing, and I know that this may happen before I am ready.

One of my Facebook friends, someone I knew in high school, posted a query. Why do so many people lie to their children about Santa instead of simply promoting the giving of gifts as a good thing? I asked if we could do both, but what he wanted to know was, why lie at all? Why perpetuate the myth? (He grew up jewish, so he had no experience of it himself.)

My children are extremely sheltered. For all the garbage they pick up on their DS things, for all the chatter they hear on the bus, there is a major source on input they do not receive. TV.  Oh, they watch the TV. They watch DVD's and stream movies and watch episodes of all sorts of shows, not all given the MOM seal of approval.

But we do not watch network TV with our children.

This Christmas, the boys did not come to me with lists and lists of items because they didn't see the commercials so carefully crafted to make every child want, no NEED, every item on the face of the earth.

Last week, when a crazy person barged into a school and shot twenty children Nathan's age, my kids were not subjected to hours upon hours of the news. They were blissfully unaware that anything had happened at all. In fact, it occurred to me that I should probably bring it up, as they would pick up details from other kids, from overhearing the adults, and from the well meaning folk who keep walking in to various classrooms in order to "help the kids sort out their feelings."

I told Nick and Nate that a bad person came into a school and hurt lots of kids and teachers. "But not our school," Nick said. I agreed. And then I told him it was scaring a lot of people, but that to make the school safer, they were going to change a few things. (They are now locking the doors and added the security measure of placing an adult at the front door at all times. I've also been sent the link so that I can volunteer to be one of these adults, a measure which made me roll my eyes in exasperation, but that's a different issue.)

So my children are children. They are young, and they think young. This is something I am so, so grateful for. I have a sneaking suspicion that Nick suspects something about the Santa issue, but goes along with it because he is not yet ready to be "old enough" to not believe. He wants to stay a kid, and I'm going to let him for as long as he wants to be.

I told my friend that, yes, I did lie to my kids, although I don't really consider it lying. I did it not as a behavioral technique, to threaten them with coal when they don't behave, but so that my children can have those moments of magical thinking, those moments of wonder. We balance it out with gifts for each other, for our family. We give to the giving tree at the library and to food pantries and soup kitchens. And when they are old enough to want to stop believing, they'll stop. But I hope they will still remember the feeling of magic. I hope they will still find joy in the act of giving.

And finally, for the record, I want you to know that I misspelled the word "Believe" every single time I typed it in this post. That i-e thing gets me every single time.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

This Crazy Garbage

Something happened Thursday night.

The phone must have rung, because I found myself listening to a message. It was one of those messages the schools have started using, they call you with a recorded message and it usually says something like "There is a 90 minute delay this morning due to snow / ice / the power outage." Or sometimes "busses 23, 17, and 8 are running twenty minutes late."

But it was 11:30 at night. and it was not, as far as I knew, snowing.

It was a message from a school district official who was rambling on about some threat to the schools in our town. He had heard about it from some people, and at first they thought it was for same-name town in CT, but then it turned out that no, it was for our town here in NH. And then he went to the police and it turns out the police didn't even KNOW about the threat, so now the town police knew and the state police too, and also the FBI, but don't worry, there would be a police presence at every single one of our schools the next morning.

I know we have to take threat seriously, but this message angered me.

Perhaps it angered me because, moments before getting into bed, I received an "invitation" from the PTA to all PTA volunteers to "man the doors" during school hours. See, after the school shooting last week, they have started locking the doors to the schools, and now they need people standing there opening them. This is called "increased security."

So if you're wondering what that looks like, take a look my way. It's people like me, with no training, with no special skills, just opening doors for however many hours. Forgive me my candor, and my possible coldness. I don't want to be insensitive or rude, but just how is this supposed to stop a crazed killer armed to the gills? I am not a maniac, have never held a gun, get nervous when I think a police officer is carrying when we're in the same room. But even I could figure out how to get past a couple of moms and two school secretaries. Except for the fact that there are only 7 parking spots in a school of over 700, and everyone has to walk a half mile. THAT's your security right there.

Anyway, Steve and I both listened to the message and decided that this threat seemed unfounded. It was... vague. We decided to send our kids in to school.

Actually, the next morning I asked the boys if they wanted to go. It was the last day of school before break, the day of parties and games and crafts. Of course they wanted to go.

So I sent them.

Many, many people kept their kids home. Why chance it? parents asked.  I could kind of see how that would work - last day, not missing anything academic. But hey, my kids complain about school so often that any day they want to go I will cling onto, Right?

Besides, I was supposed to be at Nate's party. And I could make Nick's library time.

It was pouring rain. I had to park a half mile away. I was lugging Nate's forgotten library books from earlier that week. When I got to the building, I was met by two police officials and the usual hallway greeter. They asked me for ID. I had forgotten mine in the car. The rain immediately picked up. My bag fell in a puddle. I wasn't wearing a coat. I arrived at the library dripping and freezing cold. I was snippy to the police and the sign in guy and had to apologize when I left.

Half of the kids in Nick's class were missing.

On the flip side, almost all the kids were in Nate's class.

It turned out not to be a viable threat. Because it was all so, "I heard from these people who heard from someone who read on this website" and junior high "he said that she said that SHE  said" and it turned out that the threat was, indeed, made for schools in CT. Also, there was some kind of threat tweeting making riot today that was somehow linked to the Mayan calendar actually HAVING AN END instead of, what, going on indefinitely? Don't people think that would be stranger? And I am just so ANGRY at the school district guy for feeling the need to leave a convoluted message RIGHT AWAY, spreading hysteria and causing panic. I'm angry at people for letting themselves be panicked and angry at the stupid stupid thoughtless and heartless people who think this is a laugh a minute and I hope they get what's coming to them, whatever that may be. Preferably life with no electronic devices EVER AGAIN.

I'm glad school is over. I'm glad we are at home for the next couple of weeks. I'm so happy to get to deal with family, but so angry at society and it's stupid rules and stupid laws that says I can't buy too much cough medicine for my kids but hey - I can walk into a Wall MArt and purchase rounds of ammo no problem.

My vacation is from society. I'm out.

Friday, December 21, 2012


It's when the earth has tilted as far as it will go in one direction, and starts tilting back to the other side. Days will start getting longer again, which is great because these "days" are not even 8 hours long. You could literally sleep through the day without half trying.

This is my reason to celebrate. The renewal of light and life.

AS long as we're all still here tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Busy Season

What Christmas Looks Like

This year, for teacher gifts, I decided to make tins of cookies.

I used to do this every year I was in HIgh School, for my teachers and my friends, thanks to Larissa. Larissa was very organized - in fact, she managed the whole thing. Which was great, because at the time I had the organizational skills of... someone with no organizational skills.

Even so, each year I would have a meltdown in the kitchen over making the madeleines, which require clarified butter, and always stuck to the pan. So this year, I remembered the chaos and decided to stick to four simple kids of cookies. None of which were the pre-made pillsbury kind, which tend to do this:

I spent all afternoon Monday making cookie dough. I baked on Monday night and Tuesday. I decorated the rest of Tuesday and into Tuesday night.  I over did it, actually. We now have enough cookies to pass out to another 10 teachers. But I don't care. We have them on hand, I can throw together a nice plate for emergency situations.

And during all of this,  the Elf had to remember to move itself every night. And the Tooth Fairy had to pay us a visit. And this morning Nate had to remember to wear green for Grinch Day, and Andy had to remember to wear red for his holiday concert. And Nicholas's teacher requested that we please make our child a special lunch for today, and put in a little gift, wrapped please, and the things our child love the most to eat, and then wrap the box itself, and them label it so there are no mix-ups as to who gets which wrapped lunch. Which is great because every morning I am in a rush just t pack my kids snack, forget lunch, which they usually get from school. I don't have time to make a special lunch in secret and then wrap it. So instead I make it the night before, and I was kind of in a panic about what to pack that would be OK to be packed 16 hours ahead of time. Also, Nick hates all packed school lunches except leftover tacos, and we didn't have any. And when the other two find  out Nick got a special gift I'm never to hear the end of it!

But now it's all done. 1 more teacher gift to deliver, and I'm all good. I just need to rush to the vet to pick up insulin needles, and then I can.... start wrapping gifts.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Time!

... kind of. We're getting ready.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Happy 5th Birthday Andrew

Happy Birthday to my amazing little boy! I love you so much, and I'm so glad you're you!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Hurt in the Heart

Yesterday I overdid it.

Andy was still out of school, but I had to drive there anyway to drop off the puzzle he was giving for the holiday puzzle swap. Then I went grocery shopping, because we had to eat. After that I drove to the school, for Nick's Library Time.

I'm comfortable at that school. I had to use the copier - I'm comfortable with the copier. I managed to create 200 double sided copies. My biggest concern that morning was not chopping my fingers off with the paper cutter. I know the library well, too. I can comfortably shelve books, find books, help kids choose books...

I must have overdone it. When I got home I was tired. I didn't fel sick. I felt tired.

And then I checked the internet. And read about the shooting.

I have to say, I didn't have an immediate reaction. I was getting snippets of information, nothing whole, and I had Andy to make lunch for and I was hungry myself.

And then I decided we would take a nap.

And then I started feeling really sick.

And then my head started pounding behind my eye. I had one of my headaches. I don't get them a lot. Usually I get them when I'm really stressed out about something. They are really bad. It hurts to move. It hurts to open my eyes. The light actually creeps through my eyelids and I have to bury my hed under a pillow, or in my case, pull my nightshirt, usually stored under my pillow, and wrap it around my head like a blindfold.

I blame the news.

I still had no grasp on what had actually happened. I kept asking "why would a person do this?" I wasn't dwelling on it, but it kept coming back to my mind. As if it mattered. As if there were ever a real reason for taking someone's life. Especially the life of a child. Let alone twenty. At a school, for God's sake.

I spent three hours in bed. I would stay motionless until I couldn't stand it anymore. Then I would check the internet for updates. Then I would cry some more, and then I would have to turn the computer off again because my head was pounding.

I have my own ideas about how such a tragedy happened. I have my own ideas about what should be done in response. No everyone shares those ideas. Some people feel the exact opposite should be done. I do not understand those people. All that I can hope for, now that my head is better and my mind has been able to wrap itself around the event, is that we as a society learn something from this. Maybe a few somethings.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Hitting My Head With A Hammer

After feeling sick for so very long, I've started to feel better.

It feels awesome, actually. I'm tired, and I still have a temperature over 99, but my body is not hurting. I'm congested, but my head doesn't ache each time I turn my head. It's not so much that I feel GOOD. It's just that I've felt so horribly horrible for what seems like so long, that just not being in pain anymore is euphoric.

Like that thing about hitting your head with a hammer. It feels so good when it stops.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

From Here To Eternity

You know what eternity is?

You get a glimpse of it when you're really sick. I've felt it before, when I had food poisoning, and then when I had that stomach bug. And then, now.

It's that feeling of not remembering exactly what it was like to feel well. It's forgetting that there ever was a time I didn't have this congested head, a headache. Forgetting that I ever could take a deep breath without hacking coughing, or sneeze without severe pain in my throat.

You know how I know I'm really really sick? I have stopped even trying to keep up with the housework. I mean, the clean laundry is piled up on the laundry room floor, and I haven't cleaned the cat box in days, and there is cat litter getting all over it, and I don't care.

I know I'm sick because I don't even finish my first cup of coffee in the morning.

I know I'm sick because I would rather turn the TV on and let the boys watch it for the 6th day straight, even if I did find out they were watching Baby Bratz.

I know I'm sick because I'm spending my third day in this bed, and I'm not even trying to move. I will probably spend the rest of my life here, in this bed. I'm too tired to get out of it. Even when I get so thirsty my mouth feels like rubber.

Of course it really isn't eternity. And I can't imagine what it feels like to be really, really sick. To be on bedrest for months, to fight with chemo, or to live with a terminal illness. Then forever might actually be forever,  until the end.

I know, in my head, it won't always be this way. I know it's just for now, and that, at some point, maybe tomorrow, I'll wake up from one of these odd dreams I've been having, and the fist thing I feel won't be muscle aches or my head throbbing. It will be peace. I will be relaxed.

I'm just being a little dramatic at the moment.

This is karmic payback for sneering at those clorox wipes commercials, isn't it?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cold Or Flu?

Today's episode of Medical Mystery: Is it a cold, or is it the flu?

We've been sick. I think I've mentioned that.

I can't tell you when I wrote the post about us being sick. I've lost track of the days. All I know is that I've been miserable for about... well, for about forever.

For a long time I thought that "The Flu" meant vomiting. A stomach bug. But I was wrong. "The Flu" is actually a lot more like a cold. In fact, the CDC website says it's almost impossible to tell the difference between cold and flu without special tests. The WebMD site says there is a slight difference in fever and muscle aches.

I usually let the indicator be the fever. If there is no fever, it's just a cold. Also, colds are much more common than the dreaded flu, no matter what panicked parents and doctors waiting to jab you with needles say. However...

I've been wondering if what we have could be the flu. I was sticking with Bad Cold, but then my fever spiked at over 101, and I'm the type that commonly registers in at 96.8.  It's very high for me, is what I'm getting at. That, and the boys have existed in three states of being: cranky and fighting, zombie, or asleep. Nathan slept for fifteen hours straight this weekend. And even when I thought it was over and sent everyone back to school, I was there 3 hours later picking everyone up again.

So... yeas, I have fever and muscle aches, which makes me think it's the flu. But then again, I'm sneezing and congested, which makes me think it could possibly be a cold. Of course, I'm a bit paranoid, and so I spent a little too much time on the internet researching the sound of the whooping cough, comparing them to the coughs that punctuate our daily lives.

Another thing - Steve is also sick. And a little over a week ago he received his first flu shot in years. So that reduces the chances that it's flu, right?

Except no, it doesn't because every flu virus is different, and the flu shot is merely the prediction of which strain of flu will be most rampant in the population, so if another strain of flu wins out or attacks, you could still get the flu, right? At least, this was what I understood.

In the end, I guess it makes no difference. Except that I like to know. If I can tell people "We all had the flu" they might be more inclined to let us off the hook and not worry about the homework we had to do.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Same Old Story

Blogger tells me I'm once again out of space.

I deleted a number of old photographs from old posts, but I can't seem to add as many as I delete. Probably because the cameras are getting more and more sophisticated and it takes more and more memory to store a picture.

At the same time, it should be simpler to store larger digital items.

I get 1 GB of space.

If I paid $2.50 a month I would get 25 GB of space.

And I could just upload tons of pictures and not have to worry about blabbing on and on...

Also, its faster. By now I'd have had most of the week pre-posted.

Instead, I'm tired and sick and wondering if paying for this would be the worst thing on the world, of if I should scrap it, or just write words, or keep deleting photos one after another until I can only keep a weeks worth of photos up there at a time...

What should I do, universe? Send me a sign!

What's that? You say I should just stop typing and think about this tomorrow?

OK. That's what I'll do, then.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Not as good as yesterday

We are all sick.

Thursday Nate cam home from school all droopy and quiet. I caught him sitting against the wall not doing or saying anything, which is very unusual for him. He had a temp of 101.

The next morning, Nick had a temp of 102, and Nate's had skyrocketed to 103,  so I called them in sick.

And I went about my business as bet I could, trying to do secret holiday things, go grocery shopping, etc, but with the boys at home.

Saturday, the older boys seemed better.Nate was still a bit sluggish, so Steve took him to get the Christmas tree while I took the other two to karate. Then I took all boys with me on an errand, and we arrived back hom just in time to make it to a Birthday Party Andy had to go to when... he told me he felt sick. And he had a fever.

At this point I was convinced - 100% sure - that Nick and Nate were better and that Andy was just getting the illness, but that by Monday, today, it would be history.

Sunday morning Nate's fever had returned and he was coughing. Andy was feverish and coughing. But the worst, the very worst thing, is that I was also not feeling well. I was feeling so unwell, in fact, that I chose not to go to church. I never don't go to church. I love church and I sing in the choir and I go to rehearsal and practice the choir songs so by golly I usually move heaven and earth to get myself to church just so I can sing. I've gone there with colds and with half a voice.

But not yesterday.

As the day went on, things got worse. We put on movie after movie for the boys. I took some Nyquil and gave Nate some cough syrup, which knocked him out. He slept from 2pm to 3pm in the living room, then we put on a movie that I slept through, then I climbed into be at 5pm and NAte climbed in with me. And we both slept. I woke up to eat and to change into PJ's, but Nate said no. He stayed in that bed until 7am.

Yesterday I took it easy. I didn't do anything I didn't have to. I let Steve make lunch and dinner for the boys.

When I got up this morning I figured it would be the same. I'd just take it easy.

 But the things is, everything I didn't do yesterday is still waiting for me. The trash is grossly full and it stinks. The dishwasher needs emptying and the dishes need doing. The laundry needs folding and putting away, and I really need to get another load in before Nate runs out of pants. And Steve is sick now, too, so he will be no help.

So really...I'm not going to get to rest today, am I?

Saturday, December 08, 2012


Andy, looking like an Elf.

For my birthday last year, someone gave me an Elf-On-The-Shelf.

When I was a kid, Santa knew who was naughty or nice because he Just Knew. He was always watching. like Big Brother. Like the yet unformed Homeland Security. All knowing and all powerful, and you better think twice before wonking your brother over the head with that doll, even if he DID chew her fingers off.

These days, despite the advances in technology, Santa relies on a team of tiny and terrifying looking elves. Elfs? Elves? What's the plural here? Anyway, Santa uses them.

You get this Elf, which is supposed to sit on your shelf and keep a watch on your kids. The elf looks like a little doll, in that it doesn't move, and it's got a frozen expression. In this case, the expression is eerie and more than a little frightening.

To make matters worse, the elf MOVES IN THE NIGHT. YES! At night it travels back to the North Pole, fast as lightening, and then reappears at dawn in a different location, to see how the kids act from different angles, I suppose. One morning he's on the bookshelf, the next morning he's hanging from the light fixture. And the next he's perched on top of the piano.

I mean, it really moves! All by itself! It would have to. Otherwise, that would mean that a large number of well meaning but most likely misguided parents are actually sneaking around and changing the location of this inanimate object in order to fool their children into thinking their every move is being monitored and judged.

I'm not sure which is creepier.

You also get to name your elf. My kids chose our elf's name. It's Ooshykablob. I was hoping for something cute, like Snowflake, or Crinkle. But Ooshykablob won out.

Ooshykablob is quite lazy. He doesn't do mischief, like the elves in some of our friends' houses. He also doesn't always move. I tell the kids this is because he wasn't sure, or just couldn't be bothered to take the trip all the way back to the North Pole... I mean, Every NIght? He's got to rest sometimes.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Doing Things

A couple of Sundays ago, we did an exercise at church. They passed out paper and pencils and we were asked to write down everything we had to do between then and Christmas.

People laughed, and sniggered, and a few people like me started scribbling like crazy because there was no way I would have time to put everything down, but I remembered most things from when I'd made this list for myself the day before...

And then afterwards, we were asked to think of these things in a different way. Instead of thinking about the list as things we HAD to do, we should think of them as things we GOT to do.

And then this past Sunday we had a sermon at church about the season and reminding us to take time to feel the wonder, to enjoy it instead of just being busy busy busy.

I guess I tend to get introspective about some church sermons.

Anyway, I have decided to apply these things to this holiday season. I'm not going to worry so much about the shopping and the wrapping. Instead, I'm going to just enjoy things. I'm going to take my kids to the cookie swap. I'm going to decorate the Christmas tree with my kids next weekend. I'm going to listen to The Christmas Can-Can 10 times a day because my kids keep asking to hear it. I'm taking Andy to The Nutcracker.

The point is, I'm planning on enjoying Christmas this year. Less to dos, and more get tos. I want it to be Christmas like when I was a kid, all lights and ornaments, very little stress.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Candles In The Window

This is what Christmas looks like.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Piano Recital #2

Before the 2012 Christmas Piano Recital
We declared the event a success.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Getting To Look A Lot Like Christmas "Round Here

Nicholas - 2011

I bought new electric candles for our windows.
I ordered hanging bells for an inside door.
I've hung the paper chain in the dining room.
The gold ornaments are hanging from the light fixtures in the dining room. 
The kids holiday projects are hung in the hall.
The holiday card ribbon is hanging and ornaments and cards are already on it.

Christmas is coming, ready or not.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Cause and Effect

"Of COURSE it's snowing outside!" Nathan just said to him brothers.

"It's December today! The first day in December. That's why!"

Friday, November 30, 2012


The kids had a friend ove on Sunday.

Well, the kid's dad wanted to watch the football game, and we have a good setup for it. So his little boy came, too.

The kids were all playing with swords, jumping around yelling, generally being loud and rambunctious. And of course, that leads us to the part where one kid emerged in tears because someone actually HIT HIM with the sword, the swords they have been swinging around like mad men, aiming at each other, poking at each other, and ignoring warnings about.

So I went onto the porch, which was where the boys were, and the boy's father and I removed the swords from the boys, and told the boys to find something else to do.

There was a good deal of grumbling, but eventually all of the boys left the porch, and we closed the door.

And about twenty minutes later,  heard the dog barking to be let in.

So I went to the door to the deck, only Gunther wasn't there. I was confused. He barked again. The bark was coming from the porch.

The dog had been shut in the porch for twenty minutes.

This is the part where I remind / tell you that the porch was where we had been storing the leftover thanksgiving turkey.

HAD been.

Because if you give Gunther 20 minutes, apparently, he can work out how to nudge off the top cover of the deep roasting pan, and he will then eat the top half of the turkey until, for some reason, he wants to distance himself from it.

He ran away from me as soon as I made the discovery, and I assumed that would be the end of it, more or less.

Only it turned out to be less.

Because even though nothing bad happened all that night, the next morning Gunther began to throw up.

And he kept throwing up.

All day.

On every rug we own.

Spreading the joy.




With a kid you can say "Get in bed, here's a bucket to throw up in." You can say "try and make it to the bathroom."

With a cat, it's not enough mess to make it that much of a pain.

With a dog, there is no logic and no warning. He'll be walking along and suddenly he makes a noise like "ARCK." Gunther is a big dog. When he pukes, he pukes a LOT.

And he's old and it's cold out, so I couldn't leave him outside.

And when I tried shutting him in the bathroom, he just barked and barked and barked.

He's fine now. By the way. Which I guess is lucky, because he was the one stupid enough to eat half a turkey, and I was the one stuck cleaning up puke all day. I wasn't feeling very sorry for him.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

You Had To Ask?

Andy's sitting at lunch, eating a ham sandwich, and looking out at the nasty New England weather.

"Mom?" he asked. "What is that white stuff falling from the sky?"

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Is It Christmas Yet?

This morning I got the first Christmas card of the season. In November. And it was from my sister, Emily.

As if I needed any more proof that the world was spinning off it's axis.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Happening...

I used to sit down and try and write a bunch of blog posts at one time.

When my brain or memory would fail me, I would put up a bunch of photographs. I didn't always have any, but I often did, and if I didn't I'd pull out the camera and take pictures of the boys eating or playing with their DS things, or sometimes my backyard.

So there I was, right after Thanksgiving, ready to put up a bunch pf photos of smiling and eating relatives, and everything seemed to be going according to plan, when...

I got an error message.

It was upbeat. It began with "whoops!"

When I was tracking my running, RunKeeper sometimes gave me error message s that began "Oh Noes!" when their server wasn't functioning properly. And I would get doubly irritated because not only was the server not working, but I'm in no mood for computers trying to act all cute. This time I kind of felt the same way.

Only Blogger wasn't taking any of the blame. Oh no.

The "whoops!" messgae went on to explain that I had reached my free 1GB of free storage space for photos in my online Picasa web album, the one that stores my photos, and that I would have to purchase additional space if I wanted to go on. Or perhaps order some photos or something?

Quite honestly, I don't remember the exact wording of the message. I was upset. And as I am not inclined to pay for web storage nor am I ready to order photos (I just ordered 300 prints from iphoto) I was in kind of a lurch.

So now I'm doing a bit of shuffling around. I'm trying to transfer photos from the Picasa web albums to iPhoto, so I don't lose them (I'll end up having to back them up again, I know. Then, I can go and delete them, one by one. off the Picasa albums.

The downside to this, and it is a real downside, is that when I delete a photo from Picasa, it is no longer available on this blog.

Go back. Take a moment and go back to the earliest of the posts I did, way back in 2006. You'll see that the earliest photos are gone and unviewable. You should view all of them, all of the pictures of Nick as a toddler and Nate as a chubby cheeked baby, go back and see them all now. While you still can.

From this point on it's like some horror film, Back To The Future, maybe, but to me more like Steven King's Langoliers, or The Nothing from The Neverending Story. It has begin, and now, little by little, those old photographs will disappear, gradually picking up speed, until today, too, is eaten by the no-more-photos monster...

Anyway, one of the reasons things have slowed down is that all this shuffling around takes time. Photos will arrive before too long. I appreciate your patience.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Dear Santa

Circumstances this year have postponed this letter until the day after Thanksgiving once again. If you ask me, this is when Christmas belongs: after Thanksgiving. Not before, and certainly not before Halloween. The people who disagree with me are thinking in marketing terms. This year, I've even waited until after Black Friday.

This year I ask, as I always do, for gifts to remain modest. We are trying to avoid excess, so we can have room for our favorite things. Things that can be used up - art supplies or soaps , or things that can be read or worm - books or clothing - are very much appreciated. Also, special gifts of trips to movies, zoos, playgrounds, or parks, can be coordinated and the boys will love them.

Andrew - age 5 on Dec. 17th
Shirt size: 5
Pants size: 5 (has a lot of these, some hardly worn because Nate grew out of them so quickly.)
Shoe size: 12 (needs these, also needs socks!)
Asking for: a nutcracker doll, a slingshot (don't get him one), Books, anything that is not girlish, or babyish.
Likes: learning to read

Nathan - age 7 on Jan. 16th
Shirt size: 7/8
Pants size: 7
Shoes size: 2
needs all sorts of clothing - he wears things out quickly
Asking for: DSXL (no), gloves that have mitten tops that fold back to fingerless gloves
Likes: Harry Potter, Books, Video Games, puzzles.

Nicholas - age 8
Shirt size: 7/8
Pants size: 7
Shoe size: 2.5
needs all sorts of clothing - he wears things out quickly
Asking for: an owl (again, no)
Likes: Harry Potter, Legos, Pokemon, Cooking. He likes Rick Riordan books, and might enjoy the 39 Clues book.

I will add to this list as the toy catalogues come pouring in, and I will delete anything that gets purchased. I'll also put a link to this letter at the top of the blog (see where it says "Dear Santa?" Yep, that's it!) , so anyone can access it as we get closer to the actual holiday!

Love, Kathleen

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Let Us Be Together Tonight

I am horrible  at taking pictures.

I've gotten better, now that I have children and now that cameras have gone digital. I can take as many as I want, and don't have to pay for film development.  It's just, when I'm standing there clicking away with my camera I'm always thinking "Why am I taking a picture of this? What di I think I'm capturing?"

And then, years later, when I'm rifling through photo albums with the shot arrange according to whimsey instead of by subject or chronologically, I'm metaphorically kicking myself in the head for not taking more pictures than I did.

Thanksgiving is a time to count our blessings. Let us try to remember them the whole year through.

This song has been running through my head lately.  If I had time, I would have put together a slide show of old Thanksgiving photographs to go with this song, and maybe someday I will. For now, please give the song a listen (watching the YouTube slideshow is up to you, I don't care for it much.) You can look at these four photos I managed to scan while you listen.

And we can be Thankful and Grateful for what we have.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving Game Plan

We have a guest list of 27 people.

I've ordered 2 turkeys.

I have written out the menu, composed a shopping list, and created a cooking schedule.

Now we simply need to purchase a table and make sure someone bring up some folding chairs.

And hope all the guests make it up.

For now, all I have to do is clean the house.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Older They Get

My kids have stopped being so funny.

No, seriously, I rely on them for material. They say something funny and I make a mental note so that I can write it up for this blog. "Ah! How funny little Nathan is! Isn't Nicholas so humorously observant? And Andy is just adorable! Ha ha ha! How Charming!"


Except that then I sit down to write something, knowing full well how charming and hilarious my kids are, and.... nothing. I have either forgotten everything they've said over the past week, or...  they are no longer funny.

I'm thinking this is because they're older. Or maybe because I've put too much pressure on them? (Be funnier, Darn it! Say something to make me laugh! NOT the interrupting caw joke!)

Whatever the reason, it's going to cause some problems.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

It comes and goes.

I lost my voice.

The worst part of this, aside from it being a Choir Day (Sunday), is that I am unable to yell at my children. Or even to calmly remind them not to poke each other with sticks or throw sneakers at each other's heads.

I may resort to carrying a whistle or a fog horn.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

One thing, Then another

The first thing that happened was that Andy got strep throat.

That actually happened almost two weeks ago, right after Halloween. So you'd think it wouldn't have anything to do with what's happening NOW, would it?

But you'd be wrong. Because Thursday Andy had a playdate, and when I wandered over to pick him up, his face was red and splotchy, and the mother of the other kids was wearing a look of near panic. "I swear, he didn't eat anything except PBJ and pineapple! I can give you a list!" She was mortified, and I had to explain to her that all he eats at home is PBJ, so it was most definitely not that.

I took him home and gave him a bath, thinking he might be itching because he had a haircut that morning, and that I could just wash away any little hairs making him itch. In the bath, I saw that he actually had huge raised welts all over his back and his tummy.

So I gave him an antihistamine. The bottle said ages 6 and up. But Andy's almost 5, so I gave him 3/4 of the recommended 1 tsp.

Andy passed out. I mean, he was awake one minute and then I turned around and he had fallen asleep in a dining room chair.

But the hives went away.

Until that night. After we gave him another dose of amoxicillin.

The next morning he still had hives. I called the pediatrician to ask what we should do, because we only had one day of antibiotics left.

I couldn't send Andy to school, because no school would take a kid so red and blotchy and itchy.

So I had to call the mother of the other kid Andy was supposed to go home with after school and let her know he wasn't going to be around.

And then I remembered I had a hair appointment. And I spent forty minutes bouncing off the walls, wondering if I should cancel my hair appointment or just leave, and why oh why I didn't give the pediatrician my cell phone number.

A nurse called back, but she didn't have any immediate answers, except to say that sometimes it DID take over a week for these kinds of reactions to medications to occur. She said she had to talk to the doctor. I left the phone with Steve and took off to get my hair done.

And when I came back, the office hadn't called back for the second time. When they did, they said to just stop the meds.

I was now much later to the grocery store than I had planned. I usually go in the morning. The store was crowded. When I got there I realized I didn't have my cell phone, so I couldn't listen to music. But the bigger deal was that I had somehow lost my list. I had to guess about what I needed for the few days before Thanksgiving shopping. I kept thinking I would call home and get Steve to tell me if the list was on the counter, and then I remembered I didn't have my phone.

When I got home, without a few key items, I didn't find my phone. It wasn't where I thought I'd left it. I had to walk around with the house phone listening for the ring, and I finally found it in my car, on the floor in the back under the passenger seat.

That afternoon I finally gave Andy a second dose of antihistamine, which knocked him out so much he couldn't do karate. Nate and Nick had a fight that resulted in someone pushing another someone off the bunk bed ladder, so I told them no karate. There were tears and screaming and wailing. And I still had errands that I had planned to do while they were in karate.

So I took Nate (who was wearing clothing) with me to pick up my milk and get the dry cleaning.

But I somehow forgot to go to the dump. I don't know how, the car was full of old boxes and recycling. By the time we got home, the dump was closed.

Then I had a glass of wine.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Curtains for me

For the life of me, I can't figure out why purchasing curtains is so complicated.

Actually, I wasn't even purchasing curtains. It was the hardware. The curtain rods. Oh, I went to Sears and found them. And I looked and selected one that was the right size. And I looked and saw the that the one behind it was also the same size.

And, silly me, since there were longer ones behind them, and shorter ones in from, I them made the assumption that I was selecting ALL THE SAME SIZE.

But I wasn't.

No, instead I have two the correct size, and two ridiculously long curtain rods.

I realized this, of course, only after I had removed our existing curtain rods, drilled new holes in our already very holy walls, and begun the process of hanging the actual curtains up.

I already opened one of the packages.

Now I have to go back tot he store tomorrow. I'm terrified they won't have the kind of curtain rods I need on the size I need, and I'm going to have to drive all over creation trying to find them.

Which is what happened the first time we tried putting curtains up in this room. We had to go to so many stores to find eight panels, and when we got them, one was too short. We hid it behind the TV.

Why is this so complicated? It seriously makes me want to beat someone with the actual curtain rod.

I spent all day on this, and it isn't done. And nothing else got done.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

And Then It Snowed

Actually, it was more like slush. Thank goodness it melted before nightfall.

The boys had snow pants and boots by 7am and went out to play before the school bus came. They were soaking wet in minutes.

I went out to try and do damage control and take out the trash. I saw Nathan slip and fall face first into the wet slush of the driveway.

For a moment he didn't move. Sometimes kids do that when they hurt themselves.

I called out and walked over to see if he was OK.

Nate got up, rolling every other dry spot into the slush in the process.

"I'm OK." he said. "Lucky I fell into the slush! This slush saved my life!"

Monday, November 12, 2012

A View

There are advantages to having a bigger window in my kitchen.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Birthday Gift

 For my birthday, Nathan dressed up.  His idea, he did it all by himself. (yes, those are sweatpants.)

He also made me this best birthday card.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Out Of Step

With the time change comes the inevitable onslaught of posts and comments from pet owners and parents of young children. My cat didn't get the time change and woke me at 5am. The baby refused to go to sleep and now is up at 3am. The dog was ready to go out at 4am.

The adults in these situations always seem to be fine with whatever time change there is. In this case, we were given an extra hour to sleep in. All grown peoples were supposed to simply enjoy their extra hour of sleeping in and then adjust, going to be when the clock's numbers seemed right, and waking at their usual waking time.

I know, I know, the time change was a week ago!
I am not most people.

I blame it on my routine. From day to day, or week to week, I am usually pretty certain of what I will be doing. If it's Wednesday morning I'm cleaning the house. Thursday I'm paying the bills. Friday I'm grocery shopping. After the boys come home we dash to do a quick homework, practice piano, off to karate or wherever, and then I throw dinner together. We eat, I clean up quickly, bathe the boys, read them books, and then to bed.

The time change throws a wrench in everything. I am so habitual that I can't sleep in. This means I'm awake at 4:30, staring at the ceiling. I force myself to wait until 5 before finally creeping down to the basement to work out. I don't know why I'm creeping, The boys are awake.

 When I get up from my workout, it is now still pitch dark. By lunchtime I'm starving. By dinner the boys are tired and cranky and Nate is falling asleep at the table. I have a thing inside my head saying 'hurry hurry hurry!" like it's already 10pm, so we rush through baths and then rush through stories.

"You do know it's 7:18," Steve said the other day after I tucked the boys into bed.

I knew. But they were exhausted. And I was exhausted.

I have to say that I can understand the point of time change in olden times, before the light bulb, when people rarely rose before dawn or stayed up past dark. But these days we do both, come winter. Does it matter if the hours are int he morning or the evening? No. So what, I ask, is the point? I have yet to hear an argument that convinces me that this was a good idea.

Meanwhile, I'm just bumbling around, trying to make things more normal.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Downhill From Here

Steve was listening to his usual talk radio as he got dressed int he morning. I hate talk radio, I can't stand it, it drives me crazy. But what I hate most about it is how one sided most "hosts" can be, and how they love to hang up on or talk over anyone with an opposing view. It isn't "talk radio" that's "rant radio" and anyone who thinks they are actually getting information from such a medium is sadly deluded.

Anyway, Steve likes this particular program which isn't so bad, because it has both a conservative and a liberal, and the topics they talk about are serious things like chewing gum in meetings, or... I don't know... dress codes for restaurants.

When I walked in, the woman was talking about hormone replacement therapy. I can't remember exactly how it went word for word, but it went something like this:

radio: women who don't delay hormone replacement therapy, who begin it sooner, have a lower chance of getting Alzheimers. Those who wait have a higher chance. What do you blah blah blah blah blah

Steve: Kathleen, are you hearing this?

Me: Yeah. So?

Steve: Well... you should listen, You should start taking those hormones.

Me; Steve, they're talking about menopause.

Steve: ---

Me: I'm 37.

Steve: ---

Me: Do you even know what menopause is?

Steve: Well...

Me: And do you really want me taking MORE hormones right now?

And that said, it's my birthday today. I'm 38. One year closer to Hormone Replacement Therapy. Or not. Depending on whatever it was they said on that program.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Dark Suffer

I can't remember what we were talking about. I think it was Nate's Tick. Or maybe it was about the rats in New York city escaping the subway... But I think it was more likely about Nate's Tick....

Anyway, he suddenly started talking about The Dark Suffer.

"You know, The Dark Suffer. Nick knows about it, right Nick?"

I thought it must be some Pokemon battle thing, but then Nick said "You know, when the fleas from rats made people sick?"

"Wait," I said. "Are you talking about the Black Plague?"

Recognition lit up both boy's faces as they nodded. "The Black Plague? That was hundreds of years ago. You don't really have to worry about that anymore."

The Dark Suffer?

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

You Are Given A Right

In this country, you are given the right to select your government. As twisted and complicated as you believe this process to be, every vote counts.

Today I am casting my vote in favor of Marriage Equality, for the right to make decisions about my own body, and to any extent possible, for those who take Climate Change seriously.

You can agree with me, you can disagree with me, but today, do it in a voting booth.

Also, it's Lillian's Birthday. Happy Birthday, Lillian!

Monday, November 05, 2012


Here are some photos of the boat that used to be ours, Post Storm.

Done Dreamin' is just that.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

No Ticks On Me

After Trick-Or-Treating on the 31st, we still had to make the drive back home.

Both Nate and Andy fell asleep in the car, so when we got home, I had them skip baths so they could hop into bed, even though it wasn't even 8pm.

The next morning, at the breakfast table, there was a slight commotion. Then Nick and Nate were both shouting at me that there was a tick on Nate.

It was on his chest, high up enough so that he couldn't see it. It wasn't swollen, but it has sug itself in.

I called him over and got it out with a cotton ball, dish soap, and tweezers. (I've heard that if you cover it in soap or oil, it backs out, trying to breathe, and it makes it easier to pluck off. Don't know if it's true, but getting it off Nate was pretty easy.)

Nate sniffed a little, but the tick was off, and I figured it was forgotten.

That afternoon, however, he was poking at it during piano practice.

"I feel all funny about it," he said. And then he asked if it was true that you could catch a disease from ticks.

"Yes," I said, not really thinking about it. "You can, but you won't. We'll keep an eye on it just in case, but I'm sure you're fine. Now let's practice this."

Cut to Nate in Steve's Den, crying with worry about catching some illness from his tick bite.

By the way, he's fine. The area was red because he was poking it all day. Once we put a band-aid on the spot and he was able to see the reflection in the mirror, he was a lot calmer.

Saturday, November 03, 2012


Halloween was postponed here in our town. In Lillian's neighborhood, however, things looked good! So we headed down there on the 31st, and the boys trick or treated.

The boys have the little orange UNICEF boxes, handed out by the church. This year was the first year that Nathan understood the concept. People give you change for the boxes, and the boxes go to poor children.

This year, each of the boys remembered to bring their orange boxes to Lillian's, and all three of them carried them out into the night.

The first house we stopped, the guy gave them each a dollar.

The second place we stopped, some very nice young adults passed out candy, but didn't seem to notice the UNICEF boxes. I started backing away, Andy shouting out "Thank You!" and suddenly Nate froze.

"Wait!" he shouted at the nice young adults. "Aren't you forgetting something?" he waved his orange box in the air. "UNICEF?"

The kids told us they didn't have change, and I pulled Nate away, apologizing.

"Listen," I said. "Some people will notice the boxes and give you coins. Others won't have anything. But don't ask. It's a little touchy, and we don't want to be rude."

At the next house, a very nice lady placed candy bars in the boy's bags. Nate didn't say anything, but he raised the box over his head and waved it back and forth, making sure the lady would notice it.

After a few more houses I told him that if he didn't stop waving it around I would take it away.

But this time of year, I'm reminded he would be great at fundraising.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Storm Of The Century

They say things like this all the time. "Storm of the Century!" the headline will say. Or "Biggest snowfall of the decade!" or "Worst storm of the year." Usually Steve and I will glance at each other and then snort. "It's only January," we'll say. Or "it's 2010. The decade / century has just begun. HOW do they know?"

People seemed really hyped up about Sandy. There was a lot of giggling, a lot of eye rolling. People made jokes about not needing to stock up (I've still got all my stuff from Irene that I never used!) and people complained about the universe being out to ruin Halloween.

We braced for the storm. I expected a few downed branches. Maybe another fallen tree. We expected to lose power - I mean, let's face it, we lose power every few months. I got out all the flashlights. Steve bought gas for the generator. We charged up out electronic devices, our ipads, our computers, our phones.

I expected, in my self-centered, ego-centric world, that we would get the worst of the storm. We love in the country. There are trees. We always get the worst of the storm. At least compared to most of the people we knew.

It rained. The wind blew.

Facebook lit up with people updating the world on when they lost power.

And then the news sites started showing photographs of floating cars and waves hitting people.

A few daredevils I know posted pictures of an optimistic Atlantic Ocean. One picture was from a car that got soaked in salt water seconds later. One picture was of a plywood dam, taken from a second floor window which no longer exists.

Most of our town lost power. The kids were out of school for three days, and Halloween was postponed for the second year in a row. (The Universe Hates Halloween.)

We did not lose power.

Oh, there was a moment when the lights went out, and I called out "This is it, guys!" and then, twenty seconds later, the lights came back on. And they stayed on.

I wish I could say the same for my family.

My parents were evacuated out of their NYC apartment when a crane collapsed nearby. They don't know how to dismantle the crane (it was a tall one, building a lovely eyesore skyrise,) and everyone is afraid it will simply fall and crash into nearby buildings. The trouble is, in the hurry to get out, someone was left behind - a small, tail-less cat named Cinder.

The building is now padlocked. Jamie could not get in to retrieve the cat, and was told it would be 4-5 weeks before they'd be let back in. He led the  Save Cinder! movement until someone directed him to the back of the building, where they let people in small numbers (five) so that they might collect pets and other important items. Medication. Coats. Computers.

So my parents are refugees, as is my brother.

Areas have been flooded. Public transportation is broken, due to flood damage in the subway tunnels. Linda is without heat, running water, electricity. She says people are plugging cell phones into every outlet they can find - at banks, at the posts of some building (was it the library?)

Remember the boat? Steve's boat? Well, I don't think I ever posted about this, but Steve sold the boat, just a few weeks ago. Which turns out to be kind of lucky. Because the boat was totaled in the storm. Another boat broke from it's mooring and smashed into her. I feel bad, though, for the guy who bought her. He is from South Jersey, and although his insurance will more than cover the cost of the boat, he and his wife lost their home in the storm.

I'm getting all over the place, here. The thing is, there has been a major disruption. And so much damage. I feel horrible, and helpless, and wish I could do something.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that things get back to normal soon. I'm hoping that damage is easily repaired. I'm thinking of my family and of the so many many people who has lost so much. And reminding myself that we never know what this storm will bring, or the next.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

The End Is Nigh

Oh, Good Lord, It's November already.

The beginning. The beginning of the end. Of 2012.

Once Halloween is over, the ball has more than started rolling. It's mostly down the hill and is rolling at blur-vision speed.

First, the election. Lillian's Birthday.
My Birthday.
Veteran's Day, with no school.
Thanksgiving. Chez Moi.
December. Piano Recital. Parties.
Andy's Birthday.
New Year's Eve.

And just like that, it's 2013.
And I register Andrew for Kindergarten.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Jack 'O Lantern

As of right now, we have two pumpkins carved. One is still waiting for it's artist to create something outstanding.

When I was a kid, we got pumpkins, someone handed us a knife, and we cut out shapes to make scary faces. At least that's what I remember.

These days, they sell kits with stencils to make fancy lit lanterns. The boys want to make these, of course. So much more fun than triangle eyes. But they can't exactly handle the knives.

So I end up getting to do the bulk of the handywork, after the boys have poked holes in various locations.

But that's OK. The boys are proud, and the lanterns are cool.

Monday, October 29, 2012

See A Show!

I'm going to New York in a couple of days.

I am going to New York to see Josh Cohen. Not that Josh Cohen, The Other Josh Cohen.

When I told Steve, he was confused. He was all, "Who's Josh Cohen?"

Most readers will already know that The Other Josh Cohen is a show. It's a musical. If you're in NY and you know my brother, you'll probably already have heard about it. But if you're in NY and you haven't heard about it, go see it! By all accounts it's fabulous! I'm pretty excited myself.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


We're supposed to get another storm.

Last year we had a big storm before Halloween. Remember that storm? It looked like this:

We had two snow days before November, and they postponed Halloween a week.

This year, it's not supposed to snow. It's supposed to wind and rain. A lot. The only comfort I can take in it as that at least we see it coming, and that maybe it won't cause too too much damage. But I'm not holding my breath because we've already gotten an email from the police department on emergency procedures and storm preparation, and one from our lovely electric company telling us we are probably almost definitely going to lose power, and to please not call them and bug them on the phone when it happens.

Not to worry, though. The boys here are practicing their magic skills, and should be able to charm us right out of the worst of it. See, here they are, in glasses and ties, the magic kind. Not the muggle kind. In a day or two, they'll be experts.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Oven! Oven!

WIth a double oven, you can cook two things at the same time. I'm a little excited. Now I want to start cooking and baking. Thanksgiving is a go!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Ghosts of Halloween Past

Not the Long Past, mind you. The Recent But Still Hilarious And Often Adorable Past. Such as....




Thursday, October 25, 2012

New England Color

Not all the colors, but some of the colors.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Kitchen Sink

Here's a lovely view of my new window. And my new sink. And the clutter that has already accumulated.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012