Thursday, December 30, 2010

The truest spirit of Christmas....

I'd love to be all original and witty today, but it appears that my brain is on vacation.  You're likely to see it on an upcoming "Brains Gone Wild" video....topless, drunk, and holding a margarita.  I just hope it doesn't get arrested.

I digress.

Until my brain gets itself back to work, I'm linking you to another blog with a post that I'm begging you to read.  Really.  Especially if you're in one of those "the world is full of selfish, heartless slobs who wouldn't know kindness if it bit them on the butt" kind of moods.  Please, please, please click over and read this amazing post.  You won't be sorry.  You'll be inspired.

Happy New Year, friends and family!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Tis the season to be whiny...fa la la

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year...the kids get so excited about every little thing and I love to see the neighborhood all lit up.  Even the cold weather doesn't kill my joy to the world.  There's really only one thing that gets my shorts in a wad every December.  No, it's not fruitcake and garishly decorated sweaters.  It's something far more ridiculous and sinister.

Right around this time, every year, the I WANT YOU TO SAY MERRY CHRISTMAS...NOT HAPPY HOLIDAYS whiners come out of the woodwork.  And for some reason, I'm shocked by it every. single. year.  I guess I expect these people to find better things to complain about...sadly, they never do.

(I'm quite sure I'll offend someone with this post.  As luck would have it, I don't care.  The whole thing is pathetic.  So here goes.....)

An open memo to Christmas Whiners:

Grow up and find a different cause to dedicate your energy to.

First and foremost, lets take a look-see at the calendar.....What do you find?  LOTS OF HOLIDAYS.  In just 3 months, we have Columbus Day, Halloween, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Years.  So from a purely practical standpoint, "Happy Holidays" is a handy way to cover the bases, no?

Secondly, I don't remember where it's written that Christmas-celebrating persons have dibs on December.  Believe it or not, there are oodles of people who celebrate something besides Christmas.  *GASP*  Shocking, I know.  Demanding "Merry Christmas" smacks of self-importance and an overly-inflated sense of entitlement.

Third?  Grow up.

Fourth?  No, really.  GROW UP.  Someone wished you Happy Holidays.  Boo hoo.  Put on your big girl pants (or big boy pants) and get on with your life.

Fifth.....I'm not Jewish.  But I have been wished a Happy Passover and a Happy New Year and a Happy Hanukkah on several occasions.  Do you know what I did?  Kick them in the shins and run away crying?  No.  I smiled.  And I said, "Thanks!  Same to you!"  Do you know why?  Because THEY WERE BEING POLITE AND FRIENDLY and I was being polite and friendly IN RETURN.  It's a novel concept, I agree.

And one last thing....the most important point of them all:  If you're one of the Christmas Whiners, then you should be on your knees, every single morning, thanking your lucky stars that this is the biggest issue you're facing in life.  You're not battling foreclosure, job loss, illness, divorce, death?  Then you are blessed.  I can guarantee there are millions of people who only WISH they had problems this petty.

So lets all use 2011 to mature our wee li'l brains, okay?  Lets expand our horizons and embrace the fact that we are a diverse population and we are free to celebrate (or not celebrate) anything we wish.


Sunday, November 14, 2010


She's been his mother for just 14 years.

Not so long ago, she probably rubbed her round belly and said, "I can't wait to meet you, my baby boy."  Maybe she dreamed of what he would look like, but I bet she never guessed he'd have such beautiful dimples.

Not so long ago, she probably cried when the doctors placed him...wailing and her arms and said, "It's a boy!"  Maybe she counted his fingers and kissed his toes and quietly said a prayer of thanks for his safe delivery.

Not so long ago, she probably bit her nails nervously as she watched him learn to walk.  She probably moved anything and everything that might cause him harm.  Maybe she flinched when he stumbled and fell, but she stayed in her seat....knowing that he had to learn by trial and error. 

Not so long ago, when he had a nasty cold, she probably stood over him one night to be sure that he was sleeping soundly.  Maybe she touched his head to see if the fever had subsided.

Not so long ago, she probably slapped her forehead and asked, "How can those pants be too small already?!  I just bought them last month!"  Maybe she wondered if his growth spurts could slow down just a little bit because it's so expensive to buy new clothes every month!

Not so long ago, she probably kissed his knee to make it "all better" and offered a band-aid to cover the fresh boo-boo.  Maybe she dried his tears with the extra tissue that every Mom carries in her pocket.

Not so long ago, she probably rubbed his back while a stomach virus wreaked it's havoc.  Maybe she repeatedly offered him something bland to eat, in the hopes that he would finally be able to hold it down.  And maybe she held her nose and gritted her teeth in frustration as she washed the 5th set of barf-covered sheets in one day.

Not so long ago, she probably softly touched his dimples and told him, "You'll always be my baby."  Maybe he rolled his eyes and heaved an embarrassed sigh.

Not so long ago, the doctors said, "It's cancer."  Maybe she kept up a brave face for him that day...and maybe she sobbed and screamed and cursed into her pillow that night while her heart broke in half.

And........someday soon, she'll probably rub his back when the chemo causes his stomach to lurch.  She'll probably kiss his hand to make it "all better" after the IV has been put in.  She'll probably hold a cool washcloth to his forehead because she wants to do make him feel better.  She'll probably watch him sleep and beg for the medications to do their job.  Maybe she'll secretly count how many bites of food he eats and be ecstatic to discover that he took in 3 more bites than yesterday.  Maybe she'll tell her husband, "I promise to never get upset when he outgrows his clothes because it only means that he's healthy and growing and strong."  Maybe she'll find love, friendship, and support in unexpected places.  Maybe her strong faith will be tested as she angrily asks, "Why?!" 

Hopefully, someday soon, the doctors will say, "It's in remission."  Maybe she'll bite her nails nervously when he's finally well enough to return to school, but she'll say nothing because she is overjoyed that this day finally arrived.  And before he leaves the house, maybe she'll softly touch his dimples and say, "Whether you're 14 or 34 or 64, you'll always be my baby."

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

If you're a person who believes in prayer, there is a family who could use your help.  If you believe in good vibes, please send them.  If you want to cross your fingers and think good, healing thoughts...go right ahead.  They need all of it.  They're now part of a club that no parent should ever have to be in.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Why are we talking about CHRISTMAS already?!

Alright, y'all....I'm having a very large discussion in my head right now and I was hoping you might be able to help me clear it up.  Isn't this just your lucky day?

PS...I've never used the term "y'all" in my life.  Yet it fits so nicely right up there.  Don'tcha think?

Aaaaanyway.  My kids are ages 10, 8, 4, and 3.  They all still believe in Santa.

Yes, I did say ALL of them.  As of yet, no one has spilled the beans to my 10-year-old son.  And if they have, I've been able to contradict whatever was said so effectively that my little dude buys it hook, line, and sinker.  (I can be very convincing.  Especially if I stare deeeeplyyyyy into your eyyyyyyyyyyyes.)

Ask me any Santa-related question and I can b.s. my way right through it.  With a straight face!

"When we went to the breakfast with Santa, was that the REAL Santa?"  Answer...."No way!  Real Santa is far too busy to hang out here!  The Santas that you see here or at the mall are pretend.  They are the helpers who step in when Real Santa is very busy or when he has a hangover from date night with the Missus.  Isn't it nice that they help him out?"

"Mommy, why can't Santa bring me all of the things I want?"  Answer....."Because Santa has rules that are just like Mommy's rules.  You don't always get everything you ask for.  Do I buy you every single toy that you want?  No?  Well neither does Santa."

"How does Santa know if we've been bad?"  Answer...."I send him a monthly e-mail that contains a detailed list of your recent transgressions."  ???  "Mommy, what does 'transgressions' mean?"  Answer...."It means that you're evil sometimes and you make Mommy cry."

"MOM!  We took down the fireplace!!  OMG HOW WILL SANTA GET IN THE HOUSE?!?!?!?!"  Answer....."Santa has a magical set of keys that he can use to get into the houses that don't have fireplaces.  You know all of those people who live in apartment buildings?  They don't have fireplaces!  So Santa uses his magical keys to commit multiple misdemeanors on Christmas."  ???  "What's a misdemeanor?"  Answer...."It's when Santa breaks into your house just politely enough so as to avoid a felony."

"My friend at school today said that there's no Santa and that it's your mom and dad who buy the gifts."  Answer....."Pfffft!  That's a good one!!  We TOTALLY can't afford to buy gifts for y'all!  That's SANTA'S job!"

You get the idea?  I'm just FULL of the answers.

But here's the problems.  Kids can be mean.  Really mean.  I'm imagining a scenario in January that goes something like this:

Little 5th grade hoodlums:  "Hey, Nick!  What's up?  How was your vacation?"
My sweet baby boy:  "Christmas vacation was great!  Santa brought me a new DS!"
My sweet baby boy:  " was just joking."

Do you see my quandary?!  I want to keep up with the Santa fantasy....but I don't want my son getting wedgied on the playground during recess.  AND CHRISTMAS IS ONLY 2 MONTHS AWAY, PEOPLE!  My boys spent an hour this evening studying every page of the Toys R Us gift catalog and making careful notes on every item they might want.  I could hear their very serious conversation from the kitchen.

Ben:  "Ooo!  That's cool!"
Nicholas:  "Yeah, but it's $300.  Santa doesn't bring things that are so expensive."
Ben:  "Oh yeah.  I remember."
Nicholas:  "We have to ask Mom if it's okay to put the expensive things on our list.  And don't forget, Ben.  If the thing you ask for is, like, $150 or something, that's the only thing you'll get."
Ben:  "Yep.  I remember that, too."

And the cherry on top of this mess?  I get a little teary every time I think about it cuz I'm a giant sentimental SAP who cries at the drop of a hat.  (I wish I were joking.  It gets old sometimes.) 

I think I have to tell them.  But do I tell them before Christmas?  Or do I enjoy one final Santa-filled extravaganza and tell them the truth before they head back to school?

Crap.  I do not want to tell them.  I don't want to have this conversation.

Maybe I'll distract them by explaining sex instead.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Once again....thank you

I know that, as a blogger, it's very "uncool" to care about things like blog stats and how many followers are listed over there on the right.  All the cool kids say, "Oh I don't care....I only write for ME and it doesn't matter if anyone reads it."

Apparently I'm not one of the cool kids.  Never have been.  And that's okay with me.

Yes....first and foremost, I write for myself.  This wee li'l brain of mine is swimming with thoughts and ideas and stories and I'm thankful that there's a place for me to vent or celebrate or laugh or cry (for free!).  I like the idea that someday I'll have all of these pieces to re-read and remember these days that are passing far too quickly.  I like knowing that my kids might read this someday and realize that I'm not just their momma....I'm a human being with thoughts and feelings that don't always revolve around them.

And yet.  My tummy does a little flip when I see the stats go up or when I get a comment on a post or when I see that there's another follower.  Do you know why?  It's not because I consider this to be a popularity contest.  "Whee!  I have 100 followers so that makes ME better than YOU!  BAHAHAHA!"

It's because I know that you have far better things to do with your time than to sit at your computer and read the various ramblings of yet another Mom who is trying to be witty and charming and heartfelt.  I know that.  You know that.  But here you are....taking time from your very busy life to read what I've written.  You made a conscious decision to spend a precious 10 minutes here.  And sometimes, you're inspired enough to leave a comment!  I can't tell you how happy that makes me.

My own big brother visited here to read the story about the liver and made my day by leaving a comment for the very first time.  Trust me when I say that he has more important matters on his plate right now....but he stopped by anyway.  He put a smile on my face and it has been there ever since.

Maybe, in 5 years, if I'm still blogging, the stats and followers and comments won't be so important.  Maybe I'll be totally committed to the "I blog for me" mantra.  For now, though, I'm thankful for every one of you.  I'm thankful for the opportunity to show you my side of, perhaps, make you think of things in a different share with you the things that are important to me.

Thank you...for spending your time here.

Parenting shortcuts...Vol. 5

When I hit "publish" on these shortcut posts, I generally feel the tiniest bit douchy.  After all, you're probably a very intelligent adult who is perfectly capable of surviving this life without my uber-helpful, know-it-all 2 cents.  But, I see it like this.....why should any of us have to re-invent the wheel?  Know what I'm sayin'?  If I've banged my head into a wall long enough to come up with a spiffy shortcut that might save you some time or money or aggravation, why not share it with my oodles handful of adoring patient and tolerant fans friends and family who are humoring me???  Right?

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

We live in a house that's large on character, charm, and cozy details but very short on closet space.  Near the front door, we have a coat closet that's the size of a coffin.  It's just about big enough to hold 3 coats, an umbrella, and 2 pairs of shoes.  I wish I were exaggerating.

So a problem arises when it's winter time and I have to stock this closet with enough hats, gloves, coats, scarves, boots and snow pants to outfit 6 people.  The second problem is accessibility.  I need everything available for my kids to help themselves.  In the morning, I want to be able to say, "Get out your hat, gloves, and coat."  The older boys can completely dress themselves AND help their little sisters whenever necessary.

My solution?  Check it out......

I tried using those plastic $9.99 shoe bags for the door, but my kids aren't exactly "gentle".  Those things were generally destroyed within a few months.  So I sewed my own with some scraps from my fabric stash.  Please don't ask me to give you specific measurements and instructions.  I'm a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of chick.....I make this stuff up as I go along.

Some of the pockets are smaller than others, which makes them perfect for holding a few pairs of tiny gloves.  At the top, there are 2 very large pockets for the adult hats and gloves and miscellaneous.

The bottom pockets are large enough to hold some less-frequently used shoes.  The shoes that get used on a daily basis are kept in a large wicker basket near the front door.  Snowboots are kept in the basement since they take up so much space.  I also keep the snow pants down there on a hanger so they can dry after a rousing romp in the snow.

As for the bulky coats....I built this insert, which takes up about half of the closet.  This isn't exactly the finest piece of furniture ever created (it's unlikely that Norm will be knocking on my door and asking for woodworking pointers), but I'm absolutely thrilled with it's function.  (Again, please don't ask me for the details.  I can't remember what I ate for breakfast yesterday, much less remember the dimensions and materials for a piece I built nearly a year ago.)  Each child has a cubby that they can easily reach, so each child can be responsible for putting their own coat away.  There are 2 spare cubbies....the bottom one holds shoes for Nick and me.  The top one holds baseball gloves or hats or my coat.  I put hooks on the side of the unit to hold backpacks and umbrellas.  There is enough room left in the closet for the grownup coats to hang on hangers.

Each cubby is labeled.

I don't care if the coats are crammed in and unfolded.  I especially don't care when it's 8:15am and OMG DO YOU HAVE LEAD IN YOUR UNDERWEAR?!  GET YOUR FRIGGIN' COAT ON ALREADY SO WE CAN LEAVE!

PS.......I found another problem that occurred every morning.  When I said, "Everyone get your stuff out and get ready to go!", there was a 15 minute traffic jam at the closet which normally ended with a fistfight, a black eye, and crying. 

So now I assign tasks.  "Nicholas, please get out the coats.  Alexa, please line up all the shoes.  Ben, when Nicholas is done, please get the gloves.  Rachel, after Ben is done, please get the hats."  Generally, this works pretty well....except when Alexa decides to be the Little Mommy and do everyone's job FOR THEM. 

That's when things get ugly.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Story of The Liver (Alternate title: How I Battled My Gag Reflex and Won....Barely)

On September 19th, after two dog-free years, we added a sweet little 8 pound puppy to our family.  He grabbed our hearts immediately with his floppy ears and howling bark and big brown eyes.  He was 4 1/2 months old at the time and his name was Elvis.  After countless discussions (he was briefly named Fredo), we changed the name to Charlie.

I keep calling him Charlie Tuna.

Rachel calls him Charlie Tuna Casserole.

He is starting to have an identity crisis.  He might need therapy.

His transition was pretty smooth, other than the kennel cough that showed up during his first week at home.  After 2 weeks on antibiotics, he's happy and healthy again.

Our previous dog, Page, loved Daddy the most.  This little guy is a total Momma's boy.  Not that I'm complaining.  His presence is comforting....I love to hear the clink-clink of his ID tags as he follows me around the house.  He has a belly that begs to be scratched and his ears are so big that they nearly cover his eyes when he looks down at the floor.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Pagie died two years ago with a heart full of love but a tummy full of cancerous tumors.  Was there anything we could have done to prevent that?  Probably not.  Does that keep me from second-guessing every minute we spent with her?  No.  We were first-time dog owners and I'm sure we made more than a handful of mistakes.  Early in the morning, while Charlie and I walk the neighborhood, I find myself thinking of Page and silently promising to do better this time.

The thing is, I'm a little nutty and neurotic.  (STOP LAUGHING.)  Okay...I'm a LOT nutty and neurotic.  I have this undeniable urge to protect Charlie and do everything I can to keep him healthy and safe.

So I've decided to make my own dog food.

I'll give you a moment to compose yourself......

Seriously?  Holding your gut and falling to the floor?  Don'tcha think you're being a little dramatic?

I'll spare you the exhaustive details of my research.  Suffice to say that dog food consists of all the sh*t that's not fit for human consumption.  Plus lots of inexpensive fillers that have no nutritional value.  I know...I know....plenty of dogs eat commercial dog food and live to be happy, healthy, faithful, grey-haired companions.  I'm not saying that you're a terrible person if you use commercial food.  I'm not saying that you love your pet any less.  I'm not saying that I'm somehow better than you.  I'm just saying that we wanted to take a different road this time.  We knew that some of Charlie's diet would consist of dry food.  So, Nick and I did lots and lots (and lots and lots) of internet research to come up with a brand that was consistently top-rated and repeatedly recommended.  And the list of ingredients includes lots of things that are actual food!  Yay for food!  Yay for being able to pronounce and understand the ingredient list!  Yay for not feeding my dog cow brains!

Here's the problem.  It ain't cheap.  He's a little pup and he doesn't eat a LOT, but I thought, "Hmm.  I think I can cut costs AND give him some top quality grub all at once!"  So he'll be getting half homemade food and half dry food.  We're keeping the dry food simply because it contains some of the vitamins and minerals that dogs need and godhelpme I don't want to give him some kind of weird vitamin deficiency.

So here's where the story of The Liver comes in.  (I give you mad props if you've stayed with me this long.)

The very first batch of food was simmered for several hours in my hand-dandy crock pot.  It consisted of liver, chicken, carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, apples, rice, and onions (for flavor).  (Ya'll never be able to continue reading if you don't stop laughing.)

I have 2 points to make here.  Liver might be the nastiest thing I've ever brought into this house.  (I know I'm stepping on some toes here cuz I have several family members who think liver-and-onions is a delicacy  straight from heaven.  I happen to think it's a nightmare straight from somewhere else.  I digress.)  First, I put on rubber gloves because I was completely unhinged by the amount of BLOOD that was in the packaging.  I opened the plastic, slid the whole mess into the crock pot, and leaned over (I swear to you that I don't know what came over me) to take a whiff.




Liver will never again enter my home.


My second point?  ONIONS ARE TOXIC FOR DOGS.  Yep.  It contains something that causes their red blood cells to BURST which leads to anemia which can lead to DEATH.  I could just as easily have laced the whole mess with rat poison.  In my 3 weeks of research, WHY DIDN'T I SEE THAT BEFORE NOW?  So I lived with 10 hours of a rancid-smelling house for nothing. 

The bad news?  The entire batch of food went into the garbage.  The good news?  I was only out $15 (roughly).  The other bad news?  I'll be the butt of endless jokes that probably all start with, "HEY!  Remember the time Chris almost poisoned Charlie?  BAHAHAHA!"

So yesterday I made my second batch of food.  I stuck with the basics this time.  Chicken (which, thankfully, doesn't smell like 4-day-old baked on a highway in Death Valley roadkill), carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, apples, and rice.

When The Husband came home from work, I said, "I finished the second batch of dog food."


"I left out the poisonous onions this time."


"I also left out the liver."


Friday, September 17, 2010

The one where I drone on about a few of my favorite things...

A friend of mine is nearing her 20th week of pregnancy.  She and her husband recently found out they're expecting a now begins the arduous process of wading through millions of useless baby items to find the select few that are useful, affordable, reliable, and durable.  Today, she enlisted the help of family and friends via Facebook and her private blog.  She posed this question:

"What is your favorite baby item?  The one you can't live without."

Dude.  *shaking my head*

In light of my verbal diarrhea and endless opinions, you may live to regret that question.

I, on the other hand, am positively giddy over the blog fodder.  Thanks!

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

My first suggestion was to get thee an on-line Consumer Reports subscription.  In Yonkers, NY, there lives a laboratory filled with nerdy peeps beating the snot out of various everyday items.  They spend endless hours every day pushing, pulling, dropping, kicking, opening, closing, turning on, turning off, and just generally abusing the things we use all the time.  This is helpful because it prevents the Average Joe from spending wads of cash on products that are LAME and SUCKY.

My second suggestion is to give some serious thought to your needs.  Do you live in a ranch-style house with a big open floor plan?  Then you might not need baby gates.  Do you live in a warm, tropical climate?  You won't need many heavy blankets.  Love to run?  You'll find a jogging stroller to be helpful.  Expecting triplets?  Get a bigger vehicle.  Pronto. now I'm supposed to pick ONE item that I just couldn't live without?  Ummm.  That would be chapstick.  (Or would it be a good bra?  Dry lips or droopy girls?  I can't make up my mind!  Crap.  This is like asking me to pick a favorite child!)

Pardon?  What's that you said?  It needs to be a baby-related item?  Oh.  Thank god because my 32 remaining brain cells were getting an owie.

Without further ado, I present:

The List of Baby Gear I Couldn't Possibly Be Expected to Live Without

**A changing table, located in the living room.  When I was upstairs, I just used the bed for changing and clothing the baby.  Downstairs, I kept a changing table stocked to the gills with diapers, wipes, blankets, puke rags, and clothing.  Also?  When baby was reallllllly tiny (as in, not moving and wiggling too much), he/she napped on the changing table.  (It had rails on the sides to keep baby from falling.)

**Plain, white, cloth diapers.  For cleaning up pukies and keeping your shoulder well protected from said pukies.

**Exersaucer.  Priceless.  When we finally retired ours, I nearly shed a tear.  My babies spent countless hours hopping up and down gleefully.  This thing is exceptionally helpful when you need to tinkle and you'd really like to do it ALONE or without worrying "OMG.  WHERE DID THE BABY CRAWL TO NOW AND WHAT IS THAT NOISE?!"

**A good quality baby monitor.

**A Bundle-Me...for winter infants in chilly climates.  It completely eliminated any need for a coat or snowsuit when my daughter was born in December.  It's like a tiny sleeping bag for baby!

**The snap-n-go stroller, to be used as long as baby is in an infant car seat.  Seriously?  If I could turn back the clock, I would have purchased this stroller as soon as the stick said, "HEY!  YOU'RE GONNA GET FAT AND CRABBY!  CONGRATULATIONS!"

**The Peg Perego high chair.  Well worth the money.

**An unusual item for you...a waterproof underpad.  I got a couple of these from the hospital where my smidgets were born and I still use them all the time.  They are soft, durable, washable, waterproof, and priceless.  I've used them as changing pads on my bed or the floor.  I've used them between two crib sheets, to protect the sheet under it.  Stomach virus?  Put the pad on the floor to protect the carpet from "flying debris" that doesn't make it into the garbage can.  Putting up the Christmas tree?  Put one of these pads under the tree stand so your floor doesn't get scratched AND to catch the extra water when you fill the reservoir with too much water.  (Not that we've ever done that.  *ahem*)  Baby has a nasty diaper rash?  Put the pad on the floor, remove baby's diaper, and let that rump get some fresh air while the pad absorbs the wee-wee.

**Onesies, onesies, and more onesies.  All of them in white (so you don't have to purchase all new ones if your next child is a girl).  And all of them from Carter's (by far, the softest and most durable brand).

**And while we're on the topic of the next child?  Try to purchase gender-neutral items as much as possible (especially the big-ticket items.....Have you seen the pink strollers?  What a tremendously stupid idea.  If the next child is a BOY, will you be comfortable putting HIM in a PINK stroller?).  Instead of 28 baby blue sleepers adorned with dinosaurs and trucks, pick up a handful of sleepers that can be suitable for a boy or girl.  Admittedly, this might be hard to find, but you'll be thankful when the 2nd child is of the opposite sex and you don't have to raid a clothing store for a new wardrobe.

**Sandra Boynton's "Barnyard Dance" (or any other Sandra Boynton book, for that matter).  I will carry and cherish this book until I'm carted off to the graveyard.  It's funny...and cute...and not-too-short but not-too-long...and if you want to add some extra hilarity, you can read the book like you're calling a hoe-down.  "Stomp your feet!  Clap your hands!  Everybody ready for a barnyard dance!  Bow to the horse!  Bow to the cow!  Twirl with the pig if you know how!"  We've spent countless nights reading this book to our babies.  (Is it weird that I'm getting teary just writing about this???  What is WRONG with me?!)

**A couple of big plastic bins.  Keep one in your room or the baby's room at all times, with the lid off.  When baby outgrows an outfit, fold it neatly and put it in the bin.  When the bin is full, put the lid on and label it....."Boy clothes, 3 to 6 months."  Put the bin in the attic/basement/garage/backyard shanty.  Easy organization.

**The next installment of The Girlfriend's Guide.  Just as funny as the first one.

**Oh yeah!  You'll also need a sense of humor.  I can't tell you where to find that.  But I know that I really could have used one back in 2000 when I was crying and grumping my way through the baby blues for an entire friggin' year.  (Me?  Bitter?  No!  Well...maybe just a little.  Okay.  A WHOLE LOT.)

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Are you sleeping yet?  I know this was a lot to have my deepest apologies.  The thing is, if you want to, you can easily spend every last dime you have on silly baby gadgets and miscellaneous junk.  If I had to do it over again, there are several things I wouldn't buy (infant massage kit?  Never even opened it.) and a few things that I'm thankful I never succumbed to (those goofy shopping cart cover thingys?  Totally unnecessary.  The germs are good for building up their immune system!  Of course, I never ran that theory by my pediatrician, but, whatev.).

So how about you, my lovely homies......Was there something that you just couldn't have survived without during your parenting career?  (Besides a pound of dark chocolate and a large glass of wine at 8pm, that is.)  Please, oh please, share your hard-earned wisdom with us!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"And I cannot text you with a drink in my hand, eh"

The scene:  In my van on the way home from the girls' first day of preschool.

The actors:  Rachel, Alexa, and me


Rachel:  Mommy, can you turn on the music?  Can you turn on Barbie World?  (It's actually titled "Barbie Girl", but what do I know?)

Me:  No.  Not Barbie World....I'll turn on something else.  Listen and see if you know what it is.

My iPod:  "Hello hello baby.  You called?  I can't hear a thing.  I have got no service in the club you see see."

Rachel:  LADY GAGA!

Alexa:  I know that one!  It's TELEPHONE!

My iPod:  "Wha-wha-what did you say, huh?  You're breaking up on me."

All together now!  "Sorry, I cannot hear you, I'm kinda busy."

Louder now!  Ignore the other drivers who are now staring at the head-bopping loon in the minivan playing drums on her steering wheel!

"K-kinda busy.  K-kinda busy.  Sorry I cannot hear you.  I'm kinda busy."

If you listen closely, you can hear the sound of my husband dying a little inside.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Yeah.  She's nutty.  But we loves us some GAGA.  Well, "us" meaning everyone in the house 'cept The Husband.  He visibly cringes while the rest of us sing, "Stop callin' stop callin' I don' wanna think anymore."

I told him, "I bet after you hear it a few hundred more times, YOU'LL love it, TOO!"

He didn't look convinced.

Whatev.  He's the one who loves Kiss.  You know?  That group of middle-aged, spandex clad, platform-high-heel wearing, makeup slathering men?  Yeah.  Them.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Today is the 9th anniversary.  For a brief moment, I forgot.  Shame on me.  The block party we are attending today occupied my mind.

I don't have anything new to say and my feelings are no different than they were last year.  So I'm just going to direct you to the post I wrote last September 11th.

NOTE:  At this time last year, my blog was very new and I was still using fake names for my family members.  So when you'll be reading the names Jack, James, Joseph, Camille, and Julia when their real names are Nick, Nicholas, Benjamin, Alexa, and Rachel.  Confusing?  I know.  My apologies.

Anyway....last year's post can be found by clicking here.

Have a beautiful weekend....

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Oh, those wacky kids....

Hello, my lovelies....I'm sure you're still sitting on the edge of your seat and waiting for my long-ago-promised vacation post.  Right?  No?



It turns out having 4 kids home for summer vacation = a very busy Momma.  Perhaps when school starts I can, once again, stun you with my knee-slapping sense of humor and award winning writing ability.  In the meantime, you'll have to be satisfied with these little gems that keep coming from the mouths of my babes.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Rachel, Alexa, and I were standing near the fridge...contemplating our lunch choices.  Rachel spotted some left-over corn on the cob.  She announced, "I want corn!"

I said, "No."

She repeated, "I want corn."

This child....she does like to repeat herself.

Then, in a classic move that could only come from a child born into my tongue-bumbling gene pool, she said, "I want corn.  I"

When she saw that I was doubled over and laughing, she said it again.

"I want porn!"

And again...with FEELING.


And for added hilarity, she added a snazzy little dance.

"I want porn...I want la la I want porn!"

My cheeks still hurt from the laughing.

Thursday, August 12, 2010 the dark thide

I rolled up Rachel's blanket and said, "Rachie...take this up to your bed, please."


She walked to the stairs, then came back.

"It'th dark up there.  I'm not going to the dark thide."

Best laugh I've had all week.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Home again, home again, jiggity jig!

Hello, blogging friends and family!  We're home today after a restful, fun, family-filled, 10 day vacation in North Dakota.  My trusty camera was my constant companion...I logged in around 1800 pictures.  I endured plenty of good natured teasing about my incessant click-click-click.

"Do you ever take just ONE picture?"

"Nope!  My rule is.....NEVER take just one."

And in the age of digital photography, I can take as many as I want without worrying about the cost of film and developing.

Besides...if I only took one, would I have ever been lucky enough to capture these?

I have so much to tell you all and so many more pictures to share....I promise I'll be back this week with a post about our vacation.

In the meantime...remember this:

Never take just one.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I'm in a fantastic mood this morning because the weather has given us a tiny break.  The sweltering heat and suffocating humidity have temporarily lifted.  There is a cool breeze blowing through my open windows as we speak.  I know it's going to be hot again this afternoon so I'm enjoying these few a/c free hours.

This is a quick note just to say that I won't be in the blog world for a little bit....I'm taking a break to enjoy some summer time fun with my family.  I'll be back in a couple weeks.

Happy Summer!!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

C'mon, people! Let your freak flag fly!

Once again, I have to share the wealth.......I read this blog post yesterday by Any Mommy and laughed my anal retentive little butt off.  Turns out, I'm not the only one with some...uh...quirks.

Her entire post is a list of her obsessive coping mechanisms and oddities.  You should know that she has 4 very young children...none of them are yet in kindergarten.  Yeah.  With kids as young as hers, she probably needs whatever tactics she can find to get through each day with a minimum of chaos.  I read her blog religiously and identify with her on so many levels.

In a show of motherly solidarity (and in an effort to entertain you with my lunacy), I'll list some of my oddities:

1 - When I watch tv, I can't just turn it on and watch whatever station comes up.  I have to start at channel 2 and go up the dial.  (Did I just age myself a bit by using the term "go up the dial?"  Is there a tv in existence that still has a dial?  I'm pretty sure my kids would stare blankly at it and then demand to see a remote.)

2 - The volume on the tv must be on an even number.  It cannot be on a must be on a 12 or 14.  This is exceptionally frustrating when the tv wants to jump 2 notches ALL BY ITSELF NO MATTER HOW LIGHTLY I PRESS THE VOLUME BUTTON OMG I'M GOING TO FLUSH THE REMOTE DOWN THE TOILET.

3 - I know that paper towels are a giant waste of money and that I should just use washable rags like my mother did.  But...I'm a teeny tiny bit of a germ freak and I like the disposable quality of a paper towel.  That being said, I reuse mine until I'm absolutely positively sure that I can't use them any more.  When I clean my countertops, I spray them with windex and wipe them down.  In my wee li'l brain, that paper towel isn't really I fold it ever so neatly and in just the right way and don't you dare try to crumple it up or fold it the wrong way or I will hunt. you. down. and I hang it over the windex bottle to dry.  Once that paper towel is thoroughly used and abused, I still use it to clean the bathroom floor or the toilet.

4 - My floor must be clean.  When Nicholas was a baby, we lived in a tiny apartment with our dog and cat.  I was crazy worried about him getting pet hair in his mouth (allow me a moment to chuckle about that New Mommy Neurosis) so I often vacuumed 3 times a day (don't fall off your chairs just yet....the apartment was the size of a VW Beetle and the vacuuming took all of 4 minutes).  To say that my standards have slipped since then is a gross understatement.  But I'm still irrationally annoyed by the sensation of dirt or grit under my bare feet.  Nothing lifts my mood faster than vacuuming and sweeping my floors.  All is right with my world if the floors are clean.

5 - I refuse to buy water bottles with straws.  I cannot figure out how to get the inside of the straw clean and I actually have visions of the germs that are colonizing there.  Also, our water bottles must be washed by hand with a bottle brush cuz I don't feel like the dishwasher is effective at cleaning the insides.  When my kids were still using sippee cups, I washed the valves with q-tips.

6 - My bedroom is mine.  M-I-N-E.  Mine!  If the children even wander in to grab a tissue, I twitch.  You wanna know how far I take this one?  I don't even allow pictures of my kids in my room.  Yep.  I'm THAT territorial.  None of their clothes or toys are in my room.  And the words "family bed" make me throw up a little in my mouth.  OMG that's so harsh!  No it isn't.  My kids have free reign over the whole house.....their toys litter every room and their school projects hang on every wall and I have countless photographs of them adorning my dining/living rooms.  I need one area in this house that's child-free.  The Husband is downright GIDDY over this policy.

7 - When I eat M&Ms, I have to have 2 at a time...not 1 and not 3.

8 - Kids who are big enough to sit on their butts but continue to sit on their knees?  Drives me apeshit crazy.  (Yeah.  I'm talkin' to YOU, Ben.)

9 - Feet are gross.  Keep them off my coffee table and couch pillows.

10 - I shave my legs.  A lot.  If the planets aligned and I happened to take 3 showers in one day?  I would shave my legs 3 times in that day.  Showering and not shaving is almost as ridiculous to me as showering and not using soap.  Again, The Husband is quite pleased with this policy.

WOW......that was therapeutic!  See, Any Mommy?  You're not alone!  We're ALL nutty in our own special ways.

Now it's your turn.  Think of your nuttiest, most anal retentive quality and share it here.  I promise I'll still love you!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sweet Tuesday morning

Normally, Rachel is the first one up.  Today, she slept in a bit.  She came down just in time to give Daddy his good-bye hugs and kisses.  I couldn't take my eyes off of her.  My head was swimming with one thought:  She's growing up.  She won't be 3 years and 3 months old forever.  After Daddy left for work, I grabbed my camera.  If I can't freeze time or keep her this way a bit longer, I can at least have some pictures to remind my future self of how she used to be.

Someday soon, her face will change.  She won't always have the squishy cheeks and the button nose.  Her hands will become longer and leaner.  They will lose the babyish chubbiness.

I want to remember these things when she's older.  I want to remember her messy "morning hair".....with yesterday's forgotten ponytails just barely hanging on.  I want to remember the goofy faces she likes to make at her brothers.  I want to remember her sweet profile and her dimply knuckles.

So I took some pictures....for remembering.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sippee be GONE

We're on Day 8 of the Great Sippee Cup Extermination.  I'm thoroughly sick of them.  Wash the cup...wash the lid...wash the valve (with a q-tip cuz, yes, I am THAT anal retentive about sippee cleanliness).  And don't even get me started on the cups that roll under the couch and aren't found until the contents resemble New England clam chowder.

The girls don't miss them.  They would rather be "big kids" like their brothers and drink out of regular cups.  And I only miss them when I have to clean up a spill from a regular cup (which are surprisingly rare).

Yes, there are plenty of times when I'm all, "WAH!  My babies are so grown up now!  WAH!  I miss my babies!"  But there are more times when I'm all, "YAY!  Less STUFF!"

We're done with maternity clothes, pacifiers, burp cloths, receiving blankets, bottles, diapers, giant boxes of wipes, bibs, sippee cups, baby gates, 5-point-harnesses, onesies, strollers, the exersaucer, the pack-n-play, and booster seats on the dining room chairs.  Also?  No more diaper bags.  For a general outing, I bring my wallet and cell phone.  (I keep certain things, like a first aid kit, stashed in the back of the van at all times.)  Leaving the house is becoming easier and easier.  (Not quicker....just easier.)  "Potty!  Wash your hands!  Brush your teeth!  Get your shoes on!  Get in the van!  Get buckled!"  They can do ALL of these things by themselves.  Excuse me while I do a brief Happy Dance.

I'm liking their independence....a LOT.

Next up?  Getting rid of Rachel's crib, mattress, and crib sheets.  I'm counting the days.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

You were r....r....ri.....righ............RIGHT

I'm about to do something that I've never done before.  Something big.  HUGE, as a matter of fact!

Something that has caused me many sleepless nights and much hand wringing and more than a little bit of gastro-intestinal discomfort.

Something that will shake the very foundation of my marriage and my family....

I'm going to admit.....


...that I was.....................wrong.

YES.  I said it.  But WAIT.  There's more!  If you call within the next 10 minutes, you'll ALSO get to hear me admit this:

The Husband was right.

GAH!  I'm choking!  CPR?!  ANYONE?!  Can I at LEAST get a brown paper bag to breathe into?!  Maybe just rub my back in a comforting manner?


YOU are no help at ALL.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Since way back when water was invented, The Husband has wanted a pool.  "Wouldn't that be nice?"  He broached the subject at different times......when our friends bought a house with a pool in the yard.  When the thermometer rose past the 90 degree mark and we became prisoners of the air conditioner.  When we had kids.  When we started looking at buying a home of our own and one of the houses we toured had a pool.

I had three major reasons for not wanting to take that leap.  #1 - Safety.  #2 - Maintenance.  #3 - Cost.

Fast forward to the spring of 2007.  I looked down at the giant belly that was cooking our fourth child and I looked at the tax forms that said, "Hey!  Uncle Sam owes you more than you expected!"

My speech went something like this:  "Fine.  You win.  We have the money now so let's put in a pool.  With 4 kids under the age of 8, I won't be going anywhere for quite sometime, so we might as well bring the fun here.  BUT.  Just so you know.  I will have nothing to do with the upkeep.  If you leave the maintenance to me, we will be swimming in something resembling green jell-o.  I have too much other sh** to do without worrying about the chlorine levels in a giant bathtub."

We were at the pool store in under an hour....before I could change my mind.  True to form, The Husband picked out the biggest pool he could find.  And true to form, I asked WHY do we need a pool THAT big.  His answer?  "Because we CAN.  Have you SEEN the size of our yard?!  We could have TWO of these!"

The fact that we went with an above-ground pool with a removable ladder made me feel slightly better about the safety aspect.  Turn on the news during this time of year and you're almost guaranteed to hear a story about a kid falling into a pool.  Never say never, of course....but it takes a bit more effort, in my humble opinion, to drown in an above-ground pool.  But again....never say never.  As of now, the boys are both tall enough to be in the pool without life jackets.  The girls are firmly strapped into their vests at. all. times.

So, yes, I admit that I love love love our pool.  I admit that he was right and I was wrong.  I admit that it's amazing awesome cool incredible to see how my kids have become, without the benefit of ANY swim lessons, such masters of the water.  I admit that sometimes I allow the pool to be an adequate substitute for a shower for the kids.  (Okay...more than sometimes.  Quite a bit, actually.)  I admit that there's nothing better than lowering my overheated body into that cool water.  I admit that we would be lost without it.

But I still refuse to take part in the maintenance.

Cuz that's how I roll.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Don't pat yourself on the back. You might break your spine.

It was a busy 4th of July weekend....lots of time in the pool and lots of time ignoring sleep.  It caught up with Alexa today.  She's been a bear.  There's been plenty of whining and fighting and foot stomping.

I reached my limit.

She was sitting on her bed (for her 83rd time-out of the day) and repeatedly wailing, "I WANT DAAA-DYYYYYY."

Deeeeep breath.  In with the good....out with the bad.  In with the nap...out with the whiny.  In with the quiet time....out with the stomping feet.  Deeeep breath.

With all of the calm I could muster, I walked into her room. 

Pull down the shade. 
Put the air conditioner at 70 degrees. 
Shut off the light.
Walk to my daughter. 
"I don't like how you're behaving today so you're going to take a nap now." 
Walk out, ignoring her grunting objections.

And that was it.  No yelling, no mini-lecture, no swat on the backside, no threats.....just a deep breath and simple statement delivered in a voice so monotone that I barely recognized it as my own.

And you're thinking, "Um...okay?  What's the point of this story?"

The point is that and then....once in awhile....I get it right.  Sometimes I remember to act like a grownup, not a petulant 5-year-old.  Now and then I remember the phrase "don't add fuel to the fire."  Once in awhile I pretend to be a calm, level-headed person.

So I'm taking a few minutes to pat myself on the back....which goes against my every core value.  Maybe it's time to re-visit my "values?"  Ask me to list 100 of my faults, mistakes, failings, and royal f***ups and I'll respond with, "ONLY 100?!"  Bashing me has become a well-loved pastime of mine. 

Old habits die hard.

But this blog gives me a unique opportunity.  I'm putting it here in black and white...for the whole world (or for the handful of devoted friends and family who read here) to see.  I'm patting myself on the back.  Giving myself a hi-five.  Today I'm writing down my successful story so I can re-read it the next time I start a thought with, "Holy CRAP...I'm the WORST mother in history!"

Today, I got it right.

Today, I did a good job.

Do you hear that, Self?  You did a GOOD job.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

It occurred to me one day that I could get into mucho troublo (I failed Spanish...can you tell?) for using song lyrics in my titles and posts without properly crediting the artist.  So in order to keep my hide out of hot water, I'll be making notes from now on regarding the songs and artists.  Mama Cas doesn't look good in prison stripes.

"Don't pat yourself on the back. 
You might break your spine."
Green Day - "Nice Guys Finish Last"
Release date 03-23-99
Love love love this group.  Love love love this song....but my favorite line from the song HAS to be:  "I'm so f***in' happy I could cry."  Makes me laugh every. time. I hear it.

If you're not familiar with Green Day (hold on one second while I weep for you)...check out the "Know Your Enemy" video here or the "Minority" video here and you might very well become just as obsessed as I am.  PS....both of these songs are totally effective if you're out for a run and having that not-so-fresh "I'm gonna drop dead right here if I have to run another step" feeling.  They'll light a fire under your me.  Also?  They sound really great if you've just dropped ALL of the kids off at school and you have 2 1/2 uninterrupted hours to yourself and you crank the music up at top volume in your cute little minivan and you say a mental "screw you" to the people who stare at you while you're singing along to every. single. word. and drumming along on your steering wheel.

Or maybe that's just me.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Funniest hide and seek game EVER

Rachel:  "Ben, do you wanna play hide-and-theek?"

Ben:  "Sure."

Rachel:  "Okay!  I'll go hide in the clothet (closet)."

As she runs off, Ben looks up at me:  ???

I snickered.

Ben:  "1...2...3...4...5...Ready or I find you in the closet!"

Me:  "Pretend, Ben."

Ben:  "Here I come!  Hmmm...where are you???"

Rachel, giggling, flings open the closet door:  "Here I am!  I wath in the clothet!  Hehehehe!!"

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Irrational anger and blind rage.....Which stage of the grieving process would that be?

I keep trying to forget this day.  After all, it is one tiny speck in the span of his life.  I keep trying to forget the 3 years prior to this day, too.  I don't want to remember the cancer that tortured him.  Anger rises when I realize that I'm dwelling on his pain and illness.  His life was so much more than that.  He had 76 years of joy, love, family, friends, and good memories.  Why does my mind insist on holding these other memories?

I got an e-mail this week from my brother.  

"Everyone remember that Saturday is 5 years since Dad passed."

And suddenly....there it is again.  The knot in my stomach.  The lump in my throat.  The shaking in my hands.  The anger.  Not at my brother.  The Siblings and I often send e-mails back and forth about Dad....smiling and remembering and laughing.  We celebrated his birthday in this way.  E-mail memories.  It only makes perfect sense that my brother would send out this a way to spark more memories.  More laughing and remembering.  He had no knowledge of my anger and, most certainly, he didn't send the message as a way to open the wound again.

I want to yell at someone.  Or hit something.  STOP REMINDING ME.  I know.....every. single. day. I know that he's not here.   I WANT MY FATHER BACK.  It's so damn unfair.  My arms and legs feel like lead....I don't want to move.  I want my bed to swallow me up.  I don't want to be a mom today.  I want to cry until my head hurts in the hopes that it will be enough and that I'll never have to cry again.  The simple act of taking a breath seems like too much work right now.  

I can't breathe.....

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

The last time I saw my dad was Father's Day weekend in 2005.  He was in the hospital.  My mother called me on Friday morning and asked me to come home because he was getting sicker by the minute.  I flew into North Dakota on Friday night.  We went to the hospital on Saturday morning and I remember silently wishing that it could be over.  It was painfully obvious that he would never get better.  The cancer had defeated his body and I just wanted his suffering to end....even though a peaceful end for him would mark a painful beginning for me.

His end came the following weekend.

My beginning came in the form of a funeral.....a funeral full of well-meaning people who were desperate to say something helpful.  Or at the very least, they didn't want to say anything that would be insensitive or hurtful.  And yet.....

"He's in a better place."

Really?  That's really what you think?  That's the story that helps you sleep at night?  Okay.  Well luckily, we live in America and you're entitled to your opinion.  But please, for the sake of my sanity, don't bring that theory over here.  Don't you tell me for one second that my father is in a better place.  There is no better place for him than right here....with his family and friends.  He should be here....traveling with his wife and celebrating their 50+ years together.  He should be watching his "Pete" graduate from high school.  He should be counting the days until we are all home together this summer.  He should be holding my daughter on his lap and sharing his cereal with her, just like he did with my boys when they were little.  Don't you dare tell me that there is a better place than that.  And don't you dare get preachy with me when my heart is breaking in half.  It's just so damn unfair.

Oh god...I can't breathe.....

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day Love....

Benjamin:  "I didn't get you a gift, Daddy."

Nick:  "That's okay."

Ben:  "I just made you that picture at school."

Nick:  "And that's exactly what I wanted, Buddy."

Happy Father's Day....We all love you to the moon and back.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

A crown made by Alexa to accompany a breakfast fit for a king....

A real man isn't afraid to walk around with an Abby Cadabby wand in his back pocket.....

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Accidental Racist

Tonight I served watermelon for dessert....the seedless kind.  Except there's always seeds.....the white kind.  And sometimes you find other seeds....the black kind.  I've explained to my kids that the little white seeds are soft and okay to eat.  They should use a fork to pick out the black ones.

So I was only listening with half an ear while my girls discussed their watermelon and the seeds.  And then I heard this from 3-year-old Rachel:

"I don't like the blacks.  Only the whites are good."

As I nearly choked on my own watermelon, all I could think was, "I'm so glad we're not out in public right now."

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Either I need to buy a belt OR make sure I'm wearing clean underwear at ALL times

Depending on the time of day and how much salt I've recently consumed, my weight can fluctuate pretty wildly.  Lately, however, I've noticed it sloooowwwlllyyy creeping down!  When I weighed myself yesterday morning, I discovered that I'm in a "new decade".  Let me explain.

You don't seriously think I'll be posting my weight on this here blog, do you?  No way, man.  Instead, I'll refer to my weight in decades.  In other words, let's say that my starting weight were in the 130s (ya know...when pigs fly) and I lost enough weight to put me into the 120s (ya know....when pigs fly AND when hell freezes over).  I would simply say that I'm in a new decade.  But I'll make a deal with you.  If pigs fly, hell freezes over, and I get down to the 130s or 120s.....THEN I'll share the good news with you.  Of course, that might be tough to do because achieving that weight would require the amputation of some limbs and, naturally, I'd give up my arms first because, HELLO, I need to walk and would not be able to part with my legs.

I know what you're thinking....."Sweet MOSES this girl can ramble on."

Anyway.  After stepping on the scale and picking my jaw up off the ground....I put on my favorite capris and went about my business.  Except that I spent most of the day yanking my pants back up.  And at one point, I realized that I could pull the pants down WITHOUT unbuttoning and unzipping them.  Hmm...that could be embarrassing, no?

I sure wish I could take all the credit for this.  That would be so COOL.  I'd love to ramble on and on about blah blah exercise blah blah fruits yada yada veggies blah blah stopped drinking soda.


All the credit goes to a new medication I started which has left me with a craptastic appetite.  I eat about half the breakfast that I used to, nibble my way through the rest of the day, and eat a child-size portion of my supper.  I'm just not hungry.

Now if I could shake this soda habit, I'd have the body of Jillian Michaels by the 4th of July.

BWAAAHAAAHAAA!!  Whew...I can't even say that with a straight face!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

June 1st.....14 years later

 Now you will feel no rain, for each of you
will be shelter to the other.
Now you will feel no cold, for each of you
will be warmth to the other.
Now there is no loneliness for you.
Now you are two persons,
but there is only one life before you.

Go now to your dwelling place,
to enter into the days of your togetherness,
And may your days be good and long together.
--Apache Prayer

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

In September of 1995, my husband's brother got married.  Nick was a best man and I was a bridesmaid.  Our own wedding was still 9 months away, but most of the planning had already been done.

They were married in a beautiful little garden ceremony...surrounded by family and friends and gorgeous flowers and perfect weather.  We stood near the bride and groom...listening to the officiant's words.  At one point, I was glancing down at my flowers when I heard, "Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter to the other."

I looked up.

Then I heard, "Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other."

Nick's eye caught mine and we smiled....

When we picked out our wedding invitations, we found a very simple one that we both loved.  The paper was the same off-white as my dress and had an Apache Prayer printed in small gold letters on the front.  We had never heard of this prayer before.  (Glancing through the Giant Book of Cheesy Invitations was an exercise in seemed that every invite was covered in over-played cliches or too-cutesy pictures or bible verses.  And, hello?  Those things are SO not us.)  So I nearly did cartwheels when we found one that seemed to fit us so well and had this simple yet profound inscription.

And now, here we were, listening to the very same prayer being read at this wedding.  I couldn't help but laugh.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *


Dear Husband,

14 years already?  I'm stunned...amazed...happy...proud.  Can you believe how young we were?  I was only 22 and you were 27.  There was so much I didn't know about marriage...and about life in general.

I didn't know that "for better" would bring us the births of 4 amazingly perfect babies and a sweet little house in the suburbs.

I didn't know that "for worse" would bring us the loss of our fathers and a year-long battle with postpartum depression.

I didn't know that "in sickness" would give us BOTH strep throat on Thanksgiving weekend, thus squashing any and all plans that we had.

I didn't know that "in health" would become more precious every day as we watched some of our family members suffer through illnesses.

I didn't know that "forsaking all others" would be the easiest thing I've ever done....because I only want you by my side.

I didn't know that we would spend many anniversaries at home....surrounded by our little ones.  Changing their diapers, feeding them bottles, drying their tears, giving them baths, and snuggling with their sleepy,  jammie-clad bodies.

I also didn't know that that would be fine with me.

But right now, 14 years later, I do know that I wouldn't change a thing.
You have all of my love...
Miles and miles...
The Wife

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day.
Thank you....
to those who have served
to those who have paid the highest price
for my freedom
to the families who have been left behind.
Thank you seems so inadequate,
yet it's all I have to offer.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Another excuse to spend large amounts of time with my computer

Thanks to a fantastic camera (the digital Canon Rebel new best friend) that I purchased last summer, I've amassed quite a collection of pictures.  Some of them are pretty good, if I do say so myself. 

So I said to myself, "Why are you being so selfish?!  You should TOTALLY share these so others can bask in their gloryosity!  I have 2 words for you, Self.....Photo blog!"

Yeah.  I talk to myself.  Possibly more than I should.

Anyway.  I stayed up waaay too late one night and created a photo blog.  If you're into that sort of thing (or if you'd just like to humor me a bit) you can check out The Mama Cas Photos.

Peace out, my loyal peeps!  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Parenting shortcuts....Vol. 4

Now that the weather is warming up, the time seems right to share my latest tip with you.

At your grocery store, pick up your favorite brand of yogurt cups.  My kids prefer Trix yogurt, which comes in little, plastic, 4 ounce cups.
 Also, pick up a small package of plastic cutlery.  I use the Hefty Zoo Pals because they're cute, sturdy, and chunky enough to be easy to hold.  (The knife isn't sharp enough to cut warm butter, but if it makes you nervous, I'll look the other way while you stash it in the junk drawer.)

Take the cup of yogurt 
and make a small slice in the foil with a knife.
Insert a plastic spoon/knife/fork.


When they are fully frozen, you'll peel off the foil top and run the bottom of the cup under some hot water.  This will loosen up the yogurt just enough to allow you to shimmy the plastic cup off.

Unless your kids eat quickly, these can become a bit drippy and messy.  My kids get to eat them outside so I can hose down whatever remnants hit the floor.

They're cold and yummy and healthier than sugar-in-a-tube (a.k.a. ice pops).

P.S.  I also freeze Go-Gurts.  Those are great for beach days...I can throw a whole box of those in the cooler and by the time the kids are ready to eat them, they're still cold, but softened just enough to make them easy to open and eat.

P.P.S.  I assume an adult might like these, too....if that adult was a fan of yogurt.  I am not.  Yogurt is on my list of Icky Foods That I Choose Not To Consume.

Happy Summer!!

Edited to add:  I was not, in any way, compensated by the companies for this post.  This was not meant to be a "review" or advertisement of any product in particular.  These are simply the brands that I use because the OMG How Much Did I Spend?! grocery store carries them.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Things that make you go hmmm....

After I deposited every child at their respective schools this morning, I went food shopping at my local OMG HOW much did I spend? grocery store.

Load the vehicle.
Drive home.

But on my drive home, I encountered a situation that had me scratching my head.  

I was in the left-turn-only lane (facing east) and my arrow turned green....meaning the only people allowed to drive were the ones in the left turn lane.  Same for the cars facing west.  All was moving smoothly.

Now...I don't know about you, but even when I have the right-of-way, I'm moving my eyes around to see what the other cars are doing.  I'm generally not in the mood to get hit by some nimrod who's too busy texting to watch the traffic lights...know what I'm sayin'?

So as I'm turning left, I notice that there's a police car in the west-facing lanes who is inching his way through the intersection to go straight.  Please note that his lights were NOT flashing and he wasn't honking or giving any other indication that he might be on his way to something urgent.  He was just driving.  It appeared that he assumed he had the right-of-way simply because he was driving a police cruiser.

When I see lights flashing or hear sirens blaring, I pull over.  Always.  Cuz....DUH.  So my immediate thought was to keep driving.  

No lights?  No emergency.  
No sirens?  No emergency.  
No honking horn?  No emergency.  

But then I thought...Did I just break a law?  Was I required to stop and let him through?  Is it simply a common courtesy to allow an officer the right-of-way?  In the absence of lights and sirens, I normally treat a police car as just another car on the road.

So I'll ask my loyal readers:
What do you think?  What would you have done?  Was I wrong?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

8 is Great!

There was a time when I scoffed at the parents of screaming children.  I don't mean crying...I mean full tilt OMG! MY ARM IS BEING AMPUTATED WITHOUT MY CONSENT! kind of screaming.

If, in the grocery store, I encountered a parent with an uber-screamy kid, I rolled my eyes and thought, "Pfft.  I will NEVER have a kid that does that."  I even joked with The Husband about it.  "If my kid ever screams like that in public, he'd better have a blood-spurting head wound to match."

The Universe must have laughed heartily.

On May 20th, 2002, I heard the first scream.  I don't mean crying....I mean full tilt OMG! WTF! I WAS SO WARM IN THAT WOMB AND NOW I'M NAKED AND COLD OUT HERE IN THE REAL WORLD! kind of screaming.  (Honestly?  I couldn't blame him.  That O.R. was colder than a meat locker.)

Surely I was hallucinating from the medications.  "What was THAT sound?"

The Husband said, "THAT was the baby."

And thus was our introduction to Benjamin Joseph.  The screamer.

He had silky sweet hair and warm, fat cheeks.  He had long, slender fingers and toes and the most itty-bitty tushie I'd ever seen on a baby.  He was crazy lucky to have been my second born child....he got a momma who was much more relaxed and comfortable.  He was spared my postpartum baby blues.

He was immediately adored by his older brother.

 (** Nicholas, 2 1/2 years
and Benjamin, 6 months **)

 (** First Birthday **)

Nicholas was independent, outgoing, and loved to hang out with his Daddy whenever possible.  Benjamin was more reserved and quiet.  His two favorite things in the whole world?  His thumb and his Momma.  He needed me and I happily played along.

(** Second Birthday **)

(** Third Birthday **)

Benjamin became a big brother when he was 3 1/2.  He joyfully accepted his new role in the family.  This new little girl fascinated him.  He picked out her clothes....marveling at all of the pink that had suddenly taken over our house.  He asked if she could "watch a show with me".  He didn't mind at all that she often slept on the floor next to him while he watched the show.  He just wanted her company.

I have wonderful memories of that time.  Nicholas was in kindergarten, so for part of the day I had Ben and Alexa all to myself.  When it was time to nurse Alexa, we all snuggled into a big, red rocking chair.  Ben sat next to me...watching his favorite tv shows, sucking his thumb, and playing with my hair.  Often, I fell asleep and got some desperately-needed rest.  On the luckiest days, all 3 of us fell asleep in that big, red chair.

(** 4 1/2 years old **)

 (** A fantastic older brother with his Baby Rachel **)
 (** 5 1/2 years old **)

He is my sweet little sensitive, affectionate, quiet little boy.  When the other kids want one hug and kiss, he wants two.  When he tires of running around at the playground, he comes to me and holds my hand.  When he laughs, he gets the I Can't Stop giggles.  In a group of people he doesn't know, he quietly observes.  He is a thinker.  He loves animals.  When he gets up in the morning, his first order of business is to cuddle with Fiona, our guinea pig.

A few months ago, I put on earrings for the first time in a million years.....Ben was the first to tell me how beautiful they were as he gently ran his fingers over the shiny silver.

(** Kindergarten graduation **)

Describing him is difficult.  You can never know him the way I do.  I only wish you could know him the way I do.  He has a heart of pure gold and his feelings can be hurt very easily.  I have to remember to carefully chose my words because he takes things very literally.  He also has a rough-and-tumble side, which often gets in his way.  We've been very lucky to have teachers who can see both of his sides.  They know that his "bad days" don't make him a bad kid.

(** 6 1/2 years old **)
Hands favorite photograph of my guy.

(** 7 1/2 years old **)

At Disneyworld...
Just days before Ben's 8th birthday.

He was born with one task in mind...
to teach his mother that no 2 children are alike.  

Mission accomplished.

Happy 8th Birthday, Benjamin Joseph.
You are loved and adored.

Don't ever forget that.