Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The boy becomes my teacher

Rachel:  Momma, what are you having?

Me:  I'm having the last of my soda.  And then I'm not having any more soda ever again.

Ben:  Why?

Nicholas:  Because it's not healthy.

Me:  Yep.  Because soda is unhealthy and gross and it's making me fat.

Ben:  ???  You're not fat.

Me:  Well I feel gross and fat.

Ben:  ?!?!  But you're not gross and fat.

And the look on his face was one I couldn't capture on film....and I don't have words to describe it.  But it stopped me.

Thank you, my boy.  Thank you for reminding me how that it feels when someone you love is engaged in self-trash-talk.

Because what, really, is the purpose?  Do I want him to agree?

"Yeah, Mommy.  You really ARE fat and gross."

Do I want him to learn first-hand about the joys of low self esteem?

"Mom, I don't think I should have any more cookies.  I'm getting really fat and gross."

Would I ever call my kids fat and gross?  No?  Would I say that to my husband?  Or a sibling, friend, or total stranger?  No.  Then why would I say that about their mother?


He and his siblings didn't gain any nutritional insight from the conversation.  Handled differently, they might have learned how much it stinks to have a bad habit and how nail-bitingly hard it can be to make a change for the better.  I might have used it as an example of why I'm so vigilant about the things they eat.  I might have reinforced the idea that it's good to start healthy habits now...instead of waiting until they are overweight adults.  I could have told them how Daddy was a smoker when I met him, but he found the strength to quit 16 years ago and how inspired I am by that.  I might have explained to them how I want to be a runner, but my body isn't getting the right kind of fuel.  They could have learned that being a healthy person means making the right choices...even if they're tough choices.  They could have learned about moderation. 

Instead they learned that Mommy sometimes says things that are hurtful and untrue...about herself.

And if I could build a time machine and relive the moment, my answer would be something like this:

"I'm going to stop drinking soda because it's unhealthy.  It will cause cavities and diabetes and extra weight.  I'm going to stop because it's the right thing to do for my health."

And I promise, my son, to think twice before I bad-mouth your mother ever again.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Parenting shortcuts....Vol. 3

My kids love their vitamins.  They loooooove them like they love Skittles or M&Ms.  This is a good thing....and a bad thing.  I found myself involved in too many conversations that sounded like this:

Kid:  Can I take my vitamin now?

Me:  You took it this morning.

Kid:  No I didn't!

Me:  Yes you did.

Kid:  NO I DIDN'T!  Can I have my vitamin nooooooowwwwwwwww??????

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

It's unlikely that any of them were in danger a of Flinstone overdose.  But I really wasn't in the mood to entertain this conversation every. friggin'. morning. of my life.  PLUS, the pediatrician has each of them on prescription vitamins with different doses of fluoride so I can't just grab one bottle and dole them out.  Four separate kids = four separate vitamin bottles.  Grrrrr.

So, I trotted over to my local drugstore and picked up these nifty little pill boxes.  Each one is labeled with an initial.  Each day holds one vitamin with plenty of room to spare in the event of an illness requiring antibiotics or some such thing.

Problem solved.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Even better than the real thing

Sorry for my silence this past week.  My mother is visiting us for 2 weeks and I haven't found much time to sit at my computer.  In the interest of buying some time, I'm posting pics of a quilt I refurbished and delivered back in December.

This quilt was originally made in 1999 for a baby cousin's baptism gift.  It was only my 3rd attempt...and it showed.  My seams weren't properly aligned and I hadn't top-stitched enough to keep the fabric protected from wear and tear.

In December of 2006, the quilt was given back to me with the request to "please fix it."  It had been the recipient of much love and was starting to show it's age.  I couldn't have been happier.  My quilts are not not NOT meant to be heirlooms....tucked away in a closet for a special occasion.  They are meant to be hugged and loved and used and abused.  These days, I take certain measures to ensure each creation can withstand the grabby fingers of a toddler and the swish-swish of a washing machine.  So nothing thrilled me more than to see the frayed edges....the faded blue squares....the threadbare fabric.

It was fascinating to see how far I've come and how much I've learned since those first few projects.  And I realized how important it is to take those few extra steps to protect the fabric.

It took some time to figure out the strategy.  Eventually, I realized my only option was to completely take it apart and start fresh.  I removed the backing and batting and cut up the top into usable pieces.  This is a pic of one original section.

This is one tiny section that I wanted to keep in the new quilt, so I repaired it with some red top-stitching.  I was quite happy with the rustic look of it.

This is another original section.

The entire quilt is now large enough for a twin size bed.  I attached the new top to some fresh batting and a new back...then I hand-quilted like a mad woman.  That fabric should be well protected if it ever gets put into a washing machine.

This is what the final product looks like.  It has 9 sections from the original quilt...the rest is new fabric.  (I consider it a small miracle that I still had the leftovers from the first quilt in my fabric stash.)

PS.....In case you're wondering, it doesn't ordinarily take me THREE YEARS to complete a quilt.  It just so happens that when I was asked to start the project, I was pregnant with my 4th munchkin and herding around my other 3 kids who happened to be ages 6 1/2, 4 1/2, and 1.  Suffice to say that for the first 18 months that the quilt was in my possession, it was safely tucked in a bin in my sewing room.  I brought it out when some of my brain cells came back to life.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

It might not be cheaper than therapy, but it's a LOT more fun

I've been sitting on my hands for a couple days....I wanted to post pictures of my last quilt project, but I hadn't delivered it yet (I'm not entirely sure if the Mom who bought the quilt reads the blog or not).  Well, I got up bright and early this morning to deliver it and now I can share it with you!  Yay!

Mom C. has an adorable, happy, 1-year-old boy.  When he was born last March, she picked out some very colorful bedding for his crib.  Months later, she happened to find a second set of the bedding on e-bay.  She gave me the second set in December with instructions and measurements for a quilted wall hanging.  While the project took much longer than I had planned, I'm thrilled with the results....Mom C. loved it as well.

This is the final product:

Mom C. will be hanging it on the wall behind the baby's crib.

The brown satin loops were taken from the crib bumpers.  They were the ties that would hold the bumpers to the crib.  She had so many of them left over, I set them out in a woven pattern and thought, "pillow!"  I mentioned that idea to Mom C. and she seemed interested in it.  Hopefully she'll give me a call....that's a project I've never done before, but I'd love to try!

And, yes, the little red stitching you see is all done by hand.  The separate squares are stitched together on my machine.  Cuz, hello?  I do not have the time or desire to do all of THAT by hand.  Plus?  In case you haven't heard, I'm an anal retentive freak and I have to have my seams exactly perfect.

Once I have the 3 layers together, however, I do my quilting by hand.  This, quite frankly, is my favorite step.  It gives the project an old-fashioned touch.  I also find the repetitive in-and-out motion of the needle and thread to be very calming.

I've tried machine quilting....not only is it very bulky to push all of that fabric through a machine, it's nearly impossible to get a consistent stitch.  And when it comes to my projects, I am ALL about consistency.  My little red stitches are uniform, yet imperfect enough to lend a homemade look to the final product.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
And last, but not least....I had to include this shot.  I nearly fell on the floor laughing when I pulled it up on my computer.  See if you can figure out why.

I can't be expected to hold the quilt AND take the picture, can I?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Shirley, Shirley, bo Birley....The Name Game!

It's a good thing we decided not to have any more kids.

I don't know if our marriage could have survived another rousing "What Should We Name The Baby" debate.

By the time we entered pregnancy #4, I had a list of Naming Rules as long as my arm.  With every child, I became pickier and more determined to not burden my kid with a bad name.  The Husband had some very clear ideas, too, but I was the crazier and more hormonal half of the couple.  I vividly remember the following conversation:

Fat, Crazy, Hormonal Wife:  "Let's talk about names."

The Husband Who Should Have Been Nominated For Sainthood:  "Okay.  What about Lara?"

FCHW:  "WHAT?!  You mean as in Lara Flynn Boyle?!  So our daughter can grow up to look like an anorexic?!"

THWSHBNFS:  "You're insane."

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Yeah.  Aren't you glad you didn't have to live with me?  Feel free to send him your condolences.

Anywhoooo.....I know you're on the edge of your seat and DYING to hear the list, right?  No?  WhatEVER. 

ITEM #1 - There shall be no repeating of the first initial.  Exception to this rule:  Nicholas is named after his father.  But by the time we got to baby #4, the initials N, C, B, and A were officially off the table.

ITEM #2 - All baby names shall be gender specific and easy to spell.  I absolutely adored the name Ryley, but The Husband felt like it could be a boy OR girl name (I was intending to use it for a girl).  Plus, there are about 10 different ways that name could be spelled.  So I lost that fight.

ITEM #3 - The chosen baby name should not be overly-popular.  I obsessively studied the Social Security Administration's website which keeps track of the most common baby names every year.  Although I love love love the names Emily, Emma, Ava, and Sophia, they were all in the top 10 for the past few years, so those got scrapped.  In the year 2000, Nicholas was #6 on the list and it's been steadily dropping ever since.  Again, though, this rule didn't really apply to his name.  In 2002, Benjamin was #27.  In 2005, Alexa was #66 and in 2007, Rachel was #59.  Part of my thinking here was that a teacher's job is hard enough without having 5 girls named Ava in the same classroom.

ITEM #4 - Any name beginning with a K or a hard C were out.  Cassandra Casalo?  Carmen Casalo?  Kendra Casalo?  Ew.  No, there's nothing wrong with those names.....until you pair them with our last name.  We have some very good friends who named their first daughter Cassie.  I've already informed them that, in the very distant future, if one of my boys should marry Cassie, I will wholeheartedly encourage her to keep her maiden name.  Cassie Casalo?  I already feel sorry for her.

ITEM #5 - NO RHYMING.  Exhibit A:  Angelo Casalo.  Need I say more?

ITEM #6 - All names shall "fit" with our family.  For some time, we seriously considered the name Shea for our girls.  Shea Stadium is where the Mets used to play and we both had a sentimental attachment.  We eventually decided that it didn't fit us.  Casalo is an Italian name.....Shea is Irish.  It just didn't work.  Perhaps we'll use it if we ever get another dog.  (On a related note, I fought like crazy to use the name Zoey.  The Husband refused.  Don't be shocked if we get a dog and name it Zoey Shea.)

ITEM #7 - Beware of the nicknames.  Gabriella is a nice name.  Gabby is a horrible nickname....doubly so, considering how much my girls talk.  "Oh how cute!  Gabby is so gabby today!"  BLECH.

ITEM #8 - Beware of the initials.  Would you want your kid to have the name David Oliver Richard Kingsley?  His initials would spell DORK.  Or Zachary Isaac Thompson (ZIT)?  I didn't think so.  Which is why we scrapped the name Frances Uniqua Casalo.  (I'm joking.  Of COURSE.)

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Luckily, all of these heated discussions left us with four really fantastic names (if I do say so myself).  I've never looked at my kids and thought, "Gee.  I wish we'd picked something else."

Nicholas was, duh, a no-brainer.  First son...named after Daddy, Grandpa, and Great-Grandpa.  Benjamin was a name we just loved.  Alexa was named by her older brother. 

Nicholas had a friend in his kindergarten class named Alexa.  So one day, in the middle of a Naming Debate, he said, "What about Alexa?"  I don't remember what our immediate response was, but as I tried to fall asleep that night, I stared at the ceiling and said to Nick, "You know....I kinda like Alexa.  It's not bad."  He said, "I was thinking the same thing."

Rachel was another name we both loved.  Our only question was "Rachel OR Rachael?"  The A seemed completely unnecessary, so we left it out.  Except nearly EVERYONE assumes there's an A.


Have I mentioned how glad I am that our naming days are done?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Today was.....

Today was....
No hats.
No gloves.
No boots.
No bulky winter coats.
60 degrees.
Warm sun.
Windows open.
Doors open.
Garage open.
A silent television.
Bikes, helmets, scooters.
Little buckets filled with dirt.
"Can I go back outside after I eat?"

I think soon, it might be warm enough
for a Mud Party...
I sure hope so!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

I got all my sisters with me

I know this is blurry and not my finest shot,
but I had to share it. The chubby little hand? Gripping
her big sister's slender fingers? I can hardly stand the
sweetness of it.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Father of mine

He would have been 84 today.  But he's been gone for nearly 5 years.  I could write a bitter, rambling post about the cancer that took his life, but today was his birthday and he deserves better than that.

I want to remember who he was.  He was a low-maintenance guy who needed very little to be happy.  He loved his wife, his kids, and his grandkids.  He wanted a cold beer when he came in from the field.  He liked to have a nap after lunch.  His favorite snack was potato chips.  He only cursed when he was dealing with a stubborn cow.

He was funny.......

He was handsome......

He was a devoted Husband....

He was a proud Father....

He was a gentle, patient Grandpa....

He was an incredibly hard worker....

He loved to eat.  And he loved my son.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

I love you, Dad, and I miss you.  Happy 84th...wherever you are.