Sunday, September 27, 2009

I'm Still a Rock Star

One of my current favorite songs is Pink's "So What". What can I say? I loves me a song with some attitude. (Please, get thee to YouTube and check out the video, if you haven't seen it already.)

Well when Mama listens to a song eleventy billion times, the little ones are bound to pick up on some of the lyrics....which is exactly what happened around here.

So I have a 2 year old who walks around singing:
"So what...I'm still a Rock Star...
I got my Rock Moves...
And I don't neeeed you
And guess what
I'm havin' more fun"
And that's all she knows of the song.


She has a lisp.

So this kick-ass song sounds more like:
"Tho what....I'm thtill a Rock Thtar...
I got ma Rock Moovth...
And I don't neeeeed you
And gueth what
I'm having more fun"

Yeah. We think it's pretty funny, too.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

I Finally Found the Love of a Lifetime


Isn't she lovely?
Isn't she won-der-ful?
Isn't she precious?
Less than one minute ........

Wait, what am I talking about? Oh yeah, my shiny new camera. (Sorry about the plagiarism there, Stevie Wonder. My bad.)

This pic doesn't do it was taken with our other slightly less lovely, wonderful, precious camera. Our first foray into the world of digital photography was with a little Samsung pocket-style camera. The pics were okay....a couple of them were really good. My main beef, from day one, was the AA batteries that died after about 15 shots. When I used that camera, I made sure to have an extra pair of batteries in my pocket at all times. Note to self: Future camera MUST have rechargeable batteries OR the purchase price MUST include a lifetime supply of double As. My second beef was the fact that there was no view-finder. In order to take a photo, I had to look at the little 2 inch screen and I haaaaaate that feature. Hello? I need a viewfinder!

Anyway, this particular camera (a digital Canon Rebel EOS XS....more power to you if you actually know what all of that means) has been on the market for several years. When I first spotted it, I think it was priced around $1200. Yikes. Why a Canon, you ask? Our first SLR camera, purchased way back in 1996, was a Canon Rebel. It was easy to use, even for a beginner like me, and took fantastic pictures. It was my faithful companion until we took it on a trip to North Dakota in the spring of 2005, where it abruptly died. I was forced to use our "backup" camera, a little pocket size Canon Elph (do you see a pattern of loyalty here?), until Christmas. Nick bought me a new camera body (my 2 lenses were still in good condition, so he saved money by purchasing just the body). It was still a film camera....the digitals hadn't come down to a good price yet.

I would have been fine with that camera, but using film is becoming more and more of an inconvenience. It's becoming harder to find film to purchase. Harder to find places to develop the film. And harder to justify the cost of the film and developing. Plus, I happen to love taking pictures, so the digital is much more cost effective for me. I can take 20 pictures of the same scene and just delete the ones I don't want.

We had been watching the prices steadily drop on the digital SLR cameras....Eventually, I came to the decision that I'd be happy with Canon or Nikon. As it happened, I opened up the Best Buy flyer on Sunday to see My Beloved on the back was a reasonably priced package that included a second rechargeable battery and a 75-300mm zoom lens. WHOOPEE!! Nick promptly drove to Best Buy to bring her home.

The kids are starting to think the paparazzi are stalking them (and with the awesome zoom lens, I'm free to take shots of their every nose hair). I've probably taken over 100 pics already. Once I get the software installed, I'll download my pics to share with you. I'm still learning and I'm debating if I should take a photography class to expand my knowledge. So far, I'm very happy with my new toy. The photos are color, quick response, rechargeable batteries, AND a viewfinder!

I'm in heaven.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What did you think I would do at this moment

This isn't exactly the greatest photograph in my portfolio (better known as my "albums"...maybe one day I'll be talented enough to have a portfolio). Perhaps my shiny new camera will take a better closeup photo of my most prized possession.

I know...I know. The camera story I promised you. I'll get there soon. Patience is a virtue, remember?

Anyway, back to the bling.

What you see is a pic of my wedding ring. Actually, it's not. Are you confused yet? Good. I have you just where I want you.

Let me start from the beginning.

On May 29, 1994, My Guy took me out for dinner to celebrate our one year dating anniversary. At some point during the dinner, he might have mentioned something about getting married. I humored him, thinking he'd had a couple glasses of wine and was a bit delirious and no he didn't seriously just propose to me cuz that is just be too good to be true. After we finished our meal, we went outside where he said, "You know, I was serious. Will you marry me?" Whoa. Really?!


There was no ring...for one simple reason. The proposal wasn't planned. It was really something that developed as we sat over dinner doing what we have always done best....talking. Looking back, I realize that our proposal was so perfectly fitting for us. Low key, un-fancy (there I go making up words again), drama-free, and sweet.

And so, over the next several months, My Guy scrimped and saved (without ever mentioning it to me). On Christmas morning, he surprised me with an engagement ring. Just like the proposal, it was perfect. More so because he had picked it out for me. It was gorgeous, with one diamond in the middle and three tiny diamonds on each side. It was set in white gold. And the best part? It fit! There was no need to have it sized. I don't have a clue how he worked that out.

We shopped for our wedding bands in the spring. He picked out a simple gold band with some design around the edges that give it a nice shine. I picked out a plain white gold piece to sit next to my beautiful engagement ring. It was a near-perfect match to my mother's wedding band and I'd always admired the simplicity of it.

* * * * * * *

Fast forward to September of 2002. We were invited to a picnic in the park area at Belmont race track with My Guy's family...brothers, cousins, wives, kids, etc. It was a warm day that quickly turned into a hot day. Luckily, we were mostly in the shade and that kept us cool enough.

When I dressed that morning, I put on a watch, a bracelet that My Guy had given me, my engagement ring, and my wedding ring. I briefly thought, "It's a little warm today. Maybe I should leave all of this at home." Apparently, I ignored that thought. Damn.

Over the course of the previous years, my jewelry had been frequently neglected. During my first pregnancy, my fingers swelled up to the size of kielbasa, making it impossible to wear anything. And once the baby arrived in 2000, I had no intention of scratching him with my diamond ring. Ditto for the second baby, who arrived in 2002. For a couple years, my rings sat in a box in my drawer and My Guy got accustomed to seeing my hands bare. So on that warm September day, I'm not sure what possessed me to break out the bling, but I did it.

After the family picnic was over, we packed up the truck (My Guy's work truck), and headed home. I vividly remember driving down Hempstead Turnpike when I decided I was suddenly so overheated and sticky that the jewelry needed to come off NOW. I took off the watch first. Then the bracelet. Then the two rings. I used the watch to hook everything together in a neat little package. I put this bundle of bling into the truck's center console, closed the lid, and that was the last time I ever saw any of it.

We got home, unpacked everyone, unpacked everything, and I forgot about the jewelry. (Have you heard? I have the memory of a sieve.) Over the course of the following week, I occasionally thought to myself, "Tonight I need to get my stuff out of his truck." I don't remember how many days it took for me to finally go out there, but it was all gone. Without telling My Guy, I looked in every nook, cranny, and crevice of that truck. Five times.

It was all gone.

It took me nearly 2 years to tell him.

I was angry, embarrased, sad, ashamed, and just a tiny little bit afraid of what his reaction would be. Finally, someone I confided in said to me, "What do you really think he's going to do or say when you tell him?" I had no answer.

When I told My Guy this horrible news, he said, "That's it? Holy s@@@....I thought it was something serious!" He was genuinely offended that I had been so afraid to tell him. He was more upset by that than the actual loss. "It's just a ring! It can be replaced! What exactly did you think I would say?" The more I tried to explain my position, the more offended he became.

* * * * * * *

Before I lost my rings, my attitude was very casual. They're just material things. The marriage is important...the jewelry is not. My attitude changed completely once they were gone. It didn't take long for me to decide that I needed to replace the wedding band. Together, we picked out a new ring....the one I wear every single day. It is simple and beautiful and there's not a diamond to be found. Just the way I like it.

Yes, at the end of the day, it is just a material object and it has no value to anyone but me. But that's all that matters, right? Every time I look at it (about 50 times a day), I'm reminded that there's someone on my team. Someone cheering for me. Someone who still makes my heart skip a beat.

Someone who couldn't care less about some lost long as he still has me.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Breathe, Part 2

I'm breathing again.

Three more mammograms and one sonogram later, it has been declared that the Girl On The Right is perfectly healthy.

Oh yeah, and as it turns out, first timers are VERY likely to be called in for followup visits simply because there are no previous films to compare to. Grrrr. Could the technician from last week have told me that?! Of course she could have. And she would have saved me from a good 24 hours of panic.

Just so you know, the worst part of my day was walking into the mammo room. There on the computer screen was a giant picture of the Girl On The Right...with a white spot clearly circled. I couldn't pull my eyes away.

"Is that mine?"

"Yes. It is."

"And that's what they found?"

"Yes." And that's when she explained, in detail, how it's possible to see "something" that's really nothing at all.

I am thrilled that it's nothing. And I'm eternally grateful to that technician. She clearly saw the terror on my face and did everything she could to help.

And to all of you? Thanks for the kind words, my really did help.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I'm sitting here talking to myself.

Stop holding your breath! Breathe deeeeep. Holding your breath won't make the time pass any quicker.

* * * *

I had my first mammogram last week. Whoopee, that was fun. And by fun, I mean, it sucked quite a bit. At my annual Lady Bits Checkup last fall, I was informed that turning 35 meant I would need to start having mammograms. My appointment was on Thursday. I got there early, filled out the paperwork, and sat in the waiting room. Oddly enough, it was the same waiting room I'd sat in when I was pregnant and waiting to find out the baby's gender. As I sat there, I couldn't shake the feeling that I wished Jack were there so we could talk and so I could think about anything but mammograms.

The nurse called me in. She kept staring at my chest. Occupational hazard? She asked me what size I am. Apparently there are 2 for Big Girls and one for Little Girls. The Big Girls machine was broken. I had to decide if I wanted to reschedule for another day or have my Big Girls squeezed into the Little Girls machine. I decided to go ahead and get it done since I was already there and prepped. And just so you know...the entire time we were having this conversation, she was staring at my Girls. Apparently she was trying to use her x-ray vision to see if I was lying about their size.

ow. ow. ow. Ow. OW. OOOWWW!

Was it the most uncomfortable thing in the world? No. Scratching the skin off my body while the c-section meds wore off? That was much more uncomfortable.

It was quick and fairly easy and I went home. I would be hearing from my doctor when the results were ready.

* * * * *

Breathe deep. In. And out. In. And out.

* * * * *

Dr. SS, my favorite physician ever, called yesterday. (Seriously, she should give lessons to other doctors on how to BE a good doctor.) Everything looks good so far, but they need some more pictures of the Girl On The Right. Apparently, they might not have squeezed her hard enough (I beg to differ) and they want to try again. Oh what fun.

As I was walking around Target this morning, my cell phone rang. It was the radiology office calling to schedule my second appointment. She mentioned something about having appointments available this week at one of the offices. What's the rush? Why is she trying so hard to fit me into the schedule? "The appointment will take an hour to an hour and a half. We'll do a mammogram and a sonogram. You'll get the results immediately." What is that knot in my stomach?! Why the hell am I short of breath?! "I'll have to call you back so I can find out if my husband can take time off work for the appointment." STOP holding your breath!

I called her back when I got home. Jack is taking tomorrow off, or just going into work late. My appointment is at 9am. And until then, I'm talking to myself.

* * * * * *

In 24 hours, you'll have your answer. Everything is fine.

Keep breathing. In. Out. In. Out.

They didn't do the mammo the right way so they just need to see it again.

It's nothing. Breathe!

In. Out. In. Out.

It has to be nothing.

Please, someone tell me it's nothing.

To Everything There is a Season

Welcome, Autumn! We always look forward to your arrival. Please, kick off your shoes and jacket....stay awhile. Linger with us. We're not yet ready for Winter. Allow us to enjoy your warm sun and cool breezes. Give us a few more weeks to wear our short sleeve shirts. We don't mind if the winter coats stay packed away....we'll see them soon enough.

Just in case you're feeling under-appreciated, Old Friend, I'll take a minute to list some of the things I love best about you.

My faded, tattered jeans and soft, well-worn sweater.

The first bowl of chili....piled with cheese...using a tortilla chip to scoop it up.

Homework, lunchboxes, parent-teacher conferences.

Fresh pencils and crisp notebooks.

Split pea soup (with bits of ham) in the crock-pot.

Color! The grass, the leaves, the sky.

The smell of the neighbor's outdoor fire pit.

"Trick or Treat!"

Raking the leaves.

Putting away the air conditioners and enjoying the newly unobstructed views from my windows.

Sparkling clean windows.

"We get to go shopping for our costumes today?! YAHOO!"

Remembering a summer that passed a little too quickly....but enjoying the memories all the same.

A beautiful new camera to capture the sights and colors and happy faces.

"When we go pick out our pumpkins, can we go on a hayride like last year?"

So you see, Miss Autumn....we do love the sun, the beach, the pool, and the carefree existence of summer. But, truth be told, I love you even more than all that. I don't mind putting away the beach chairs, shaking the sand out of our buckets, and putting the pool to rest. The time will come again for all of that. For now, I'm going to enjoy what you have to offer. I'm going to hug that sweater close to me, watch the leaves change, and cross my fingers that Mr. Winter gets stuck in traffic on his way here.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

All Apologies

Hello, Homies! My allergies are kicking my butt this weekend, so I'm not posting anything too Earth-shattering tonight. Hopefully I'll get back to you tomorrow. I know you're's okay. Absence makes the heart grow fonder....remember? For now, I'm sharing some random photos with you.

The first one is a quilting project I finally completed this summer. I worked so feverishly on this one that my carpal tunnel crippled me for about a month and sent me to an orthopedist to see if my hands were permanently messed up (luckily, they just needed some rest).

The second photo was taken this summer when we visited the aquarium. It's a great photo....of course it would be even better if there weren't a lady sitting behind the kids with a cigarette in her hand. It appears that she's digging in her purse for a lighter. Oh well.

The 3rd and 5th pics are the boys on St. Patrick's Day. The school encourages everyone to dress in green, just for fun. We don't own a lot of green clothing since green might be one of my least favorite the kids asked me to spray paint their hair (with washable hair spray paints). Yes, I do keep that stuff in the house for just such an occasion.

The 4th pic is the girls playing dress-up in the backyard. I love the "Don't mess with us" attitude!

Well, the benadryl is starting to kick in so I should head off to bed before I accidentally type something I might regret. When I come back, though, remind me to tell you about the dreamy new Canon camera the Hubs bought me today.

Mama Cas....out!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Just Find a Place to Make Your Stand and Take it Easy

"Mom, would it be okay if I sent an e-mail?"

Really? At 9 years old, is e-mail necessary? I'm inclined to say no, but that's generally my first instinct in any given situation.

"Well, I have my own e-mail address but I never get to use it. Please?"

"Uh, no. I don't think you need to send e-mail."

So is this me being a bit old-fashioned or behind-the-times? I don't know. What I do know is that these kids need to come with an instruction manual and a clearly defined timeline for things like this. I also know that, last summer, I accidentally fried our old computer with a virus and I'm a little nervous about my son opening e-mails from unknown sources. And, most importantly, I'm well aware of all the creepy-pervies on the internet and how easily a 9 year old could end up communicating with one of them (which is why my computer is on the dining room table where I can see every. single. thing. the kids are doing).

We seem to be in a transitional time here with James. I feel a nearly imperceptible shifting. The kid who used to fall asleep easily by 8pm is now the kid who can't close his eyes before 9:30 on most nights. After school, while the 3 younger siblings are running around the school yard, James hangs out by my side....wanting to take part in the grownup conversations. As if he's becoming bored by the playground antics. He's also the first to ask if we can leave. He's pushing for a little more responsibility and freedom. I'm sitting here deciding how much to give.

Luckily, the important stuff is still the same. He's still kind, friendly, helpful, loving, hard-working, funny, and polite. He still asks if I need help making dinner. He still showers his sisters with hugs and kisses. He is still fiercely protective of his little brother.

So this e-mail question is very simple for James. "Can I or can't I?" For me, it's one more item in a laundry list of parental decisions. And I'm discovering that sometimes the simple questions are the hardest. "When is it okay to __________?" "When is he old enough to ____________?" Fill in the blank with whatever quandary came up this week. For right now, I think the e-mailing is unnecessary for him. He sees his friends during the day and if there's any homework questions, he can just call someone on the phone. I just don't see the purpose of it.

So what do you think? Am I being silly? Am I being the crotchety old "Back in MY day, we didn't have computers" lady?

Cuz, really? I'm not old enough to be crotchety.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Lessons in Classy...Part 2

Camille just ran past me, announcing, "I gotta go poop."

I answered, "Okay. Let me know when you're done." (She's not even 4 yet, so she needs some cleanup assistance.)

A few moments later, I hear, "I'm done!"

Not sure if I heard her correctly, I asked, "You're done?"

She yelled, "YEAH! I DROPPED A TURD!"


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Yummy Yummy Yummy I Got Love in My Tummy

Another short post today...I'm still recovering from my 3 mile walk/run/wheeze. (Actually my workout went much better than expected after my Summer of Eternal Laziness.)

Anyway, I wanted to share what we had for dinner last night because it was just too good (and it was my very own creation!).

In a huge skillet, I heated up:
Leftover whole wheat pasta (rotini, in case you REALLY want me to be specific),
chopped plum tomatoes,
and kalamata olives.
When this was steaming hot, I shut off the flame, put a bunch of feta cheese in the pan, and gave it a good mix. No salt, pepper, or oil needed.

Ooooo that was good! In fact (*smacking my lips*) the leftovers were even better!

No, the kids wouldn't have touched this with a 10 foot pole. They had plain pasta with pecorino cheese grated on top.

Monday, September 14, 2009

All My Rowdy Friends Are Comin' Over Tonight

** Editor's Note ** (Yeah, like I really have an editor. HA HA HA!) This pic has absolutely nothing to do with the post. It's just so funny that I had to share it. This would be Monkey #2 (Joseph) goofing around in our backyard last summer.

** ** ** ** **

So this blog is just over a week old and it's coming along smashingly! (Why yes, I do like to make up my own words...thanks for asking.) As a matter of fact, my throngs (okay, so it's only, like, 13 people) of adoring fans (read: people who had nothing better to do than throw me a bone and read my writing) are DYING (well, maybe they're just a little curious) to know a few things about me and my endlessly fascinating life (no translation here cuz my life really is endlessly fascinating).

Before I launch into my very first Q & A, let me just say a HUGE thank you to everyone who has taken the time to check out my blog. I had no idea that this project would be so much fun.

The very first question came from Inquiring Mind best friend from high school, Nellie. After checking out my info, she posted on my Facebook page with this: "First of all, I loved what you wrote. I couldn't help but notice Pretty Woman was not listed as one of your favorite movies nor was Culture Club listed as one of your favorite bands. I will have to keep reading the blog just to make sure you haven't changed so much I don't know you! Lastly, wasn't Mama Cas in the band The Mama's and The Papa's? All kidding aside you are a great writer and your material is always interesting."

Nellie loooooves to torture me with my high school nerdiness. At least once a year she reminds me that I once thought Chynna (pronounced China) was the coolest name EVER for a baby girl. I was 16 at the time and, apparently, a complete moron who adored Wilson Phillips. So lets all bow our heads and take a moment to be thankful I didn't have a daughter when I was 16 cuz she would hate my guts right about now for naming her CHYNNA.

As for Pretty Woman and Culture Club? Well, Pretty Woman is about as cheese-tastic as it gets. I have a hard time watching it now and keeping a straight face. Back in the day, however, I saw it TWICE in the movie theater and about eleventy billion times on video and I could probably quote it line for line. Culture Club stands the test of time (stop laughing!!) and I still know every single word to "Karma Chameleon" (are you really rolling on the floor and laughing? Well NOW you're just being mean). I even saw them in concert out here about 10 years ago and it was fantastic (I think you just blew snot on your keyboard from laughing so hard).

Yes, Mama Cass (with two "s") was one of the four members of The Mamas and The Papas. She died of a heart attack in 1974 after performing two sold out concerts at the Palladium in London. No, I'm not some idiot savant with endless knowledge of Mama Cass...I checked her out on Wikipedia. Anywhoooo. I did not name myself after her (nor do I aspire to perform two sold out shows at the do NOT want to hear me sing). My girls happen to call me Mama and our last name begins with Cas, so I put the two together and TA-DA! A name for my shiny new blog.

Now on to Inquiring Mind #2....My other BFF from high school, Brewster, pointed out "You seem to have an '80s music theme in your blog titles (first Whitesnake, then Scorpions "Winds of Change"). Incidentally, "Like a Drifter" not "Like a Twister", or maybe that was intentional?"

The song title thing wasn't intentional, but it's kinda funny now that I've done it a few times. Plus, trying to think of new song references gives me something to do in the shower besides lather, rinse, and repeat. And, HOLY CRAP, I've been singing the wrong Whitesnake lyrics for 20 years?! Wait, what about that Hendrix song....Is it "Excuse me while I kiss this guy" or did I get THAT wrong, too. And I bet you're going to tell me that Credence wasn't singing "there's a bathroom on the right"?? (I'm kidding, of course. Only a total ass would post a lyric on the web without checking first that it's correct. Duh.)

Inquiring Mind #3 is Mrs. Brewster (that would be the Brewster's wife, in case you are trying to follow along) and she asked if I call my kids by their initials in real life. No, I don't. I'm just not sure how much info I want to reveal about my kids. Rumor has it, the internet is full of pervies and I'd rather not feed them information if I can avoid it. (No matter how adorable my daughter is when she's diaper-free, you will NOT see a picture of it here.) The initials are starting to annoy me, though, so I might need to come up with an alternative name for each of them.

Inquiring Mind #4, KFS, had a statement rather than a question. "I never told you that I think you have the perfect sized family. I've always thought that 2 boys and 2 girls is just perfect, because then everybody knows what it's like to have both a sister and a brother. I'm not sure that I'll make it that far, as I'm already overwhelmed with 2." Thanks, KFS....although, honestly, I'm not sure if I should be taking credit for this particular accomplishment. Yes, we decided to have 4 kids but it was through sheer luck that we got 2 of each. Trust me, not a day goes by that we don't look at our kids and say, "How on Earth did we get so lucky?"

After my "Old MacDonald" story, KFS commented, "Funny stuff! My mother also hates the word fart, and as a result, so do I. I teach my kids to say "toot" instead. We'll see how long that lasts when they get into the Real World."

See, KFS, that shows how you are so much more mature than I am. I still get a huge kick out of doing things just to irritate my mother. Cuz apparently I'm still 16.

And on the same post, Brewster wrote, "Best. Post. Ever. Why do kids love saying "butt" and "fart" so much? Also, where would they get an idea for a song like that?"

Well, to answer the first question: They're kids. It's their way of being outrageous and rebellious, but not so much as to garner a timeout. Nearly everything they talk about is related to butts and farts. (You should have been here when I taught them "penis" and "vagina". The hubs went white as a ghost that day.)(Actually, Camille calls it a "magina" and Julia just calls it a "gina.")

Wait...where was I? Oh yeah....butts and farts. So the second question can be answered by the fact that they have 2 older brothers who LOVE to fill their little heads with these silly things. And then Mama reinforces said silly things by giggling like a 12-year-old. (I never said I was Mother of the Year.)

I hope that answers some of your most burning questions (or things you were just mildly curious about). Again, a huge THANK YOU to everyone taking time from their busy lives to visit here. There's been lots of hopping and squealing and clapping every time I find a new "follower" or comment. Which is awesome, cuz I normally save that behavior for when I see a 2 liter bottle of Mountain Dew.

Peace out, homies.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

You should absolutely bring your children here so we can give them lessons on being Classy People.

Hello, my peeps! We're headed to a block party today (PAAAAR-TAY!), so I don't have time for anything lengthy. Plus, after yesterday's heavy topic, some toddler silliness is in order. Please enjoy:

Overheard today while my daughters were playing...Camille is 3 1/2 and Julia is 2.

Camille (singing): "Old MacDonald had a butt...."

Julia (chimes in): "E, I, E, I, Fart...."

All together now: "With a fart, fart, fart and a fart, fart, fart...."

The bad news is they would have given my mother a heart attack with this one because she HATES the word fart.

The good news is they were playing nicely together and practicing their choral skills.

Friday, September 11, 2009

In a New York State of Mind

Has it really been 8 years already? Such a long time and such a short time....either way, the shock hasn't faded.

8 years ago today, we were brand new homeowners having moved into our home less than 2 months prior. James was with us and he was an affectionate, chubby cheeked, 17 month old toddler. Joseph was "in the works" while Camille and Julia weren't even thoughts in my head. We had Ruso the Cat, Page the Bulldog, very little furniture, and we drove a trusty little 4-door Saturn. Our first big purchases were a gas grill, a backyard table, and chairs to match. We were grin-from-ear-to-ear proud of our little home....despite the overgrown shrubs that surrounded the property...despite the orangey-brown shag carpet that covered the living room floor....despite the peel and stick linoleum tiles in the dining room. It was our home.

Once we moved in, I became entirely focused on one purpose...making this OUR home. While Jack was at work, I spent my entire day taking care of James and righting the wrongs of the previous house owner. Make breakfast, trim a shrub, put baby down for his nap, rip out the carpet, make lunch, trim a shrub, make supper, put baby to bed, bag up the dirty old carpet, fall into bed. That might be the longest span of time I've ever gone without watching tv. For background noise, I listened to the radio. It stayed on all day to keep us company and provide some distraction from the dirty work at hand.

So that's how I heard the news.

I vaguely remember standing in my bedroom and folding clothes when I heard the man on the radio mention an airplane. It hit a building in the city. A small airplane? 2 or 3 people on a charter flight? Oh that's terrible...maybe the pilot had a heart attack and lost control. I might have gone back to my folding while making a mental note to watch the news later and find out what happened. And then he said there was another one. And they weren't charter flights, they were full size passenger jets carrying hundreds of people.

And they hit the Towers.

Then there was the Pentagon.

And an open field in Pennsylvania.

The frantic phone calls started. I don't know how long it took to finally hear Jack's voice on the other end of the line, but it seemed like an eternity. The cell phone signals were having difficulty, so I know it took repeated calls. I desperately wanted to keep him on the line until he was safe at home, but that wasn't possible. Please please come home. Please. I'm begging you. As soon as we hung up, my phone rang. What's going on?! Where are you?! Is Jack okay?! Are you okay?! JD, my sister in California, and I were on the phone when the first tower fell. Oh my god. It's gone. It's gone. All those people are gone!!! We still might have been on the phone when the second one went down...I don't exactly know.

The following days are somewhat of a blur. I do remember sitting in the living room, in the brown recliner, for hours on end....unable to tear my eyes away from the tv. My heart broke every day when I opened the newspaper and saw those faces staring back at me...the faces of people who would never again make it home. The tears fell when I watched the news and saw friends and family members walking the streets, posting "Missing" flyers. Their desperation was palpable. Maybe she was injured and she's in the hospital and can't tell anyone her name! Maybe he lost his cell phone and can't remember how to contact us! Sadly, most of those people kept searching until the coroner finally called to deliver the news.

* * * * *

Fast forward to one year later. James was 2 1/2 years old and Joseph was 4 months old. I was also babysitting my friend's two little ones...ages 3 and 1. Thank heaven the kids were here. They kept me busy and kept the fear from choking me. Fear of what? I'm not entirely sure. The morning started out the same as always, except there was one difference. It was the first anniversary of the attacks. I couldn't shake the lump in my throat and the knot in my stomach. When Jack picked up his things to leave for work, I begged him, "Please stay home. What if it happens again?! Please call work and say you're staying home. Please!" He tried to comfort me....he said he had to go and that everything would be fine and he'd be home later. When the kids were occupied later in the morning, I called my parents while I hid in the bathroom and cried. My father was helpless and stunned. "I don't know what to say...I'm going to give the phone to your mother." Mom didn't know what to do, either. Where was this coming from? I still don't know. Had I spent too much time reading the stories...watching the reports? Was I just now experiencing the fear that so many had felt immediately? Was this the sort of panic that had caused some people to quit their jobs, pack up their lives, and move to other parts of the country? I haven't figured out what happened on that anniversary....other than I've never been that terrified in my whole life.

* * * * * * * *

Trust me, I know there will be no shortage of 9-11 news coverage, stories, editorials, memorials, and personal accounts. Living a short 30 minutes from Ground Zero means I've come to expect this barrage of information every year. I wonder if the rest of the country gets this much coverage every September. Are we saturated with it simply because all of the attacks happened here on the East coast? Better yet, do I need to add my 2 cents to the conversation? Probably not. But we all have a story related to that day....what's your story? Where were you?

Please don't take this to be a complaint. On the contrary, I'm thankful for the reminder....just in case the horror slipped my mind. For those of us who didn't lose anyone in the attacks, it's fairly easy to let the memory fade a bit. To pretend that life is normal. To carry on. The purpose of all this coverage is to jolt me out of my comfort zone. Somewhere nearby, there's a wife without a husband. And a closet full of clothes she can't part with. There's a boy without his mother. He's heartbroken to realize that as the years pass, his tenuous memories fade. There are elderly parents who lost their only daughter. And when she died, so did their dream of becoming grandparents. There's a group of friends without their "leader".....the one who always planned the get-togethers. There's a firefighter who was lucky enough to escape, but whose body is too broken to perform the job he loves. Maybe I didn't lose anyone important to me, but many people did. And for that single reason, I'm glad to be reminded that their life will never again be normal. I can afford to spend one day every year respecting the heartache and pain of others.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I Hate Myself for Loving You

Please point me to the nearest Soda Rehab Facility.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

And So It Begins Again

Another school year....
More homework....
More lunches packed.....
More conferences....
Joseph, above on the left, is headed to 2nd grade and James is off to 4th grade. As the kids made their way through the doors, the parents milled about. The kindergarten parents are easy to, weepy, and trying to hide their red-eyed weepiness. (Yeah, I'm aware that's probably not a real sue me.) I understand. The sadness creeps up on me, too. Can we go back in time? Just for a day? Can I hold that tiny infant body in my arms and kiss those wrinkly feet? Just once? I'm proud that they're growing up and proud of who they're becoming, but I miss my babies.

Jack (my husband) and I stood near the entrance, chatting with 2 of the other moms. One of them was discussing her daughter's transition into the high school. (In our district, there's no middle school. The kids attend K-6 in one school and 7-12 in another school. I can't tell you how this makes my stomach knot up.) I know that James will be making that transition before I take my next breath...or so it seems cuz, have you heard? Time flies. My first baby boy is already 9 and almost as tall as me. The silver lining in this cloud is that another mom is sharing her experience with us. Somehow, that insider information will make the process easier. I hope. Please tell me that will make it easier when the time comes. For now, I'm crossing my fingers that the first day goes well and that they love their new teachers and that they stay out of trouble and that they eat their lunch and that they wash their hands at least 24 times (shoo, shoo, swine flu!)...... You get the idea. I'm sure they'll be fine.

The girls, of course, cannot be left out of the picture taking. Camille is on the left and Julia is on the right. As we walked to school, Julia tripped over the sidewalk and fell. Camille looked down at her, threw her hands up in the air, and said, "Not my fault!"


Perhaps her compassion skills need some work.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Winds of Change....

Yeesh. I hate Unnecessary Drama, but that title summed up our recent days nicely. Over the Labor Day weekend, we tried to soak up the last few days of summer. School starts tomorrow. NC2 will be in 4th grade and BC will be in 2nd. The girls start next week. We spent Saturday at the beach....along with 4000 of our closest friends. I haven't seen the beach that crowded in a loooong time. On Sunday, we drove 50 miles out east to adopt this sweet little girl and, after much discussion, named her Fiona. She is a guinea pig...yeah, you read that correctly. I have a guinea pig. See, we've had a cat. Her name was Ruso and she lived to be 10 years old....she was a temperamental snot who hated everyone but me and peed on our bed while we were away on vacation one year.

Imagine you've been away on an awesome vacation for 2 weeks (with the kids...and hello? that's not really a vacation anyway). You all fly back home, unpack, sort the mail, do a quick house cleaning (how exactly does a house get so dirty if NO ONE IS THERE?), eat supper, and get the kids to bed. By now it's about 11pm and you're dreaming of falling into your very own comfy bed with your very own comfy pillows except when you do exactly that, you discover that tell-tale ammonia smell. EEEWWWWW!!!! That friggin' cat PEED right between the pillows! Luckily for her, we were able to change the bedding and flip the mattress....and when we went on vacation the following year, we closed all of the bedroom doors and covered the furniture.

Now where was I? Oh yes....we've also had a dog. I don't really have words to describe Page or how much we miss her. She was a sweet, saintly bulldog who lived with us for 10 years before cancer took her away last August. We will never again see a dog as good and kind as she was. Although I have a serious case of doggie-fever, I know that we don't have the time to properly train and care for a dog. Plus? I can't imagine that there is any dog in existence that can measure up to our Pagie.

So we had the opportunity to piggysit a guniea pig this past month. Hmm...maybe this is an option? Small giant poopoo to pick urinating on the furniture. We did lots of research on the internet and discovered guinea pigs are pretty easy to care for. We then found a small animal rescue service here on Long Island named Katie's Critters. When I contacted them, Wendy (the owner of the rescue service) told me she had a couple of pigs in residence that might work for us....and that's how we got Fiona.

Wendy told us that she's a cuddly little girl but she's blind in one eye. When I saw her snuggle up on James' chest, I knew she was the one for us. She had a rough first day...I found myself hoping that she's also deaf. "CAN I HOLD HER?" "NO! YOU ALREADY GOT TO HOLD HER!" "OW! STOP PUSHING ME!" "YOU'RE THTUPID!" (Julia can't say her "s" yet.)

Once the kids went to bed, she came out of hiding several times to eat and investigate her surroundings. As of now, she's settling in nicely. I've instituted a 5-minute rule...they each get a turn holding her for 5 minutes. After they've all had a turn, she goes back into her cage to recover from all of the affection. I'm toying with the idea of putting a Xanax in her food dish...we'll see how things pan out. Once everyone is back in school, she'll have some peace and quiet during the day.

As for Monday, I spent a good part of the day setting up my blog. I'm still grinning from ear to ear about this endeavor. I grinned even harder when I discovered later in the day that I had a "follower". Assuming it was my friend, Krissy, I decided to check it out so I could thank her....turns out it wasn't Krissy. It was my hubs! Is it weird that I got a little teary? He is the king of being romantic without realizing that he's being romantic. A dozen roses? Never. It's been more than 10 years since I've seen that and I promise you that it's fine with me. Roses die but I will forever remember that he took the time to be my biggest fan. (Thanks, babe. Miles and miles...)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Like a Twister, I Was Born to Walk Alone I am


On my own

Goin' down the only road I've ever known

Oh, didn't I tell you this blog would be entirely devoted to the unmitigated awesomeness of Whitesnake? Sure. Why not. There have been blogs devoted to stranger things, right? Right?

* * * * * * *

Actually, I'm not yet sure of the direction this blog will take. My main intention is to write. My second intention is to get some feedback about my writing. See, it's one thing to THINK I'm a decent's another thing to have someone say, "That piece made me laugh/cry/smile/want to heal the ills of the world. I really enjoyed it." Hopefully, I'll avoid a comment like, "Dude, that sucks more than 3 day old sushi."

I'm not going to promise a post every single day. Try to contain your disappointment, please. Some of my entries will be short and sweet. Some of my entries will be long enough to require a nap at intermission. Either way, I'll try not to be too boring. The details haven't all been ironed out yet...some bloggers feel comfortable using real names and posting family photos....some don't. I haven't decided that yet.

Will my grammar always be perfect?
Probably not.

Will you always understand my point of view?
Probably not.

Will you sometimes find me entirely boring and self-absorbed?
Probably....but lucky for you, I'm not writing this 20 years ago when I was the 15-year-old Self-Absorbed Queen of the Universe. You really should count your blessings.

Will I do odd things like Capitalize For No Good Reason? Or use periods......a lot? Or start sentences with "or"? Or ask questions and then answer them?

Truth be told, I've been a stay-at-home mom for nine. whole. years. now. and I sense that my brain cells are beginning to atrophy. Shhh...listen carefully. Yep, there was another one leaping out my ear and falling to it's untimely death on the wood floor. My kids are ages 9, 7, 3 1/2, and 2, so going back to work is not a realistic option. I would need the income of a brain surgeon to pay for childcare. So believe it or not, I'm hoping this blog will help breathe new life into the few gimpy brain cells I have left. It's time for a change of pace.

* * * * * *

If you're reading this, I'd love to hear from you. I'm really looking forward to my first comment....not excited as in, "WE'RE PREGNANT!" More like, excited as in, "The baby learned how to wave goodbye!"

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go help the Hubs plant some shrubs in the backyard. Ooo what fun.