Sunday, December 30, 2007

Too much time

Okay, I know it's my second post today--I do have too much time on my hands. It's sleeting and Rob is visiting his grandmother, so I'm stuck at home with the kids. Plus it's Sunday, and the places I'm interested in visiting are closed on Sunday...and I just went to the grocery store yesterday, so I don't need to go to these places just yet...

because "these places" are farms! That sell grass-fed beef and chickens that actually lived like God intended chickens to live--not stuffed six to a crate to lay eggs.

Let me backtrack. I just finished reading "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollen. Boy, if ever there were a book that made you want to live off the grid, this is it. Now, I live in a development, and thanks to the previous owners, I don't even have a back yard to speak of (although I have a lovely koi pond and a huge patio). I did take a strip of land behind the garage and grow tomatoes and peppers on it last summer, and that's about all the garden space I'm going to have for a while.

My husband grew up on a farm of sorts--as much of a farm as one can have in suburban New Jersey. They had laying hens, goats, pigs, even a cow or two. I think Rob is somewhat amused that I'm moving in this direction. It wasn't that long ago that I was saying I had no interest whatsoever in the renaissance of the Evans family farm. That baton has been passed to my sister-in-law Cori. And she actually has the property to do it.

It's cold and sleety today, so I've been on the internet way too much, but I've found a farmhouse on 1.5 acres around the corner from here! The house has been renovated in the important places (kitchen and bathrooms), and an acre and a half should be enough for a decent size garden and some laying hens. And did you know that you could just buy some laying hens for like $2 each?! Think Rob would go for it? Hmmmm? Just put this palace up for sale (in this soft cushy market!) and buy an acre and a half. Ha! We haven't used our lawn mower in two years. I realize my daydreaming about hormone and antibiotic free eggs is getting out of hand. I guess this is just aspirational for now. Although it would be nice to have some semblance of a yard so the kids could go outside and play--or pick vegetables for dinner.

Since I realize my farmstead dream (for this week anyway) is unlikely to happen, I've been looking online for places where I can buy grass-fed beef and chicken and eggs. I've found a couple of places that are about 15 miles away. Better to start small than not to start at all.

Catching my breath

It's been a crazy week or so around here. My whole family (mom, dad, brother) was under one roof for several days for the first time in years...that was interesting! Everyone was able to stay sweet, so maybe that's the Christmas miracle! The kids had a blast on Christmas day. They're slowly working their way through all their presents. I don't think anything is broken yet (yet being the operative word--it's all a matter of time). Here are a few pictures!
Mike instructs Bobby on how to strike the right pose.
The kids decorate the gingerbread house.
Caroline waits patiently to open more presents at Aunt Cori's house.
And Caitlin and Molly go for a ride on Buttercup.

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas, and may you have a happy and healthy New Year!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Second Time Around the Tree

I've received most of the ornaments from the swap and I wanted to show them off! I'm very glad I participated, and I look forward to doing it again next year. I'm definitely gonna raise my game, though!

This was what I sent out.
Here's a little tree. All the patterns are great.
A pretty snowflake.
This is a "tuffet." It's so cute--wish I had taken a better picture.
Caitlin named this one Twinkle.

And this, of course, is Frosty!

This one is just awesome. I don't know how she made it. It's hard to tell from the picture, but it's a map of my area. My town is in the center!

This was the first one I received. So simple, and yet so nice. It looked a lot nicer before one of the children got hold of it--I had to try to put it back as best as I could. Yet another reminder to keep children far away from ornaments!

I think this one is my favorite. I love dragonflies, and the colors on this are great. This girl actually makes decorative pillows, and I may be adding a dragonfly pillow to my household soon!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Surrounded by clouds of flour

This time of year is what I call the baking season, and it is in full swing! Yesterday I pulled out the stand mixer and got to work. Actually, the baking season kicked off on Friday when I made a Sour Cream Bundt Cake, but I didn't bring out the stand mixer for that one (and boy was my mixer arm sore). Sunday, I made White Chocolate-Coffee Cashew Biscotti. Then I followed up with another batch of tasty cheese straws. Yum! Rob burned his fingers and mouth because he went right for the cheese straws as soon as they came out of the oven. I did remind him that they were 250 degrees... Next on my list is my candy-covered pretzels. Then I have to search the grocery stores for one ingredient so I can try the Asian-spiced pecans. Did I mention that I'm putting some of these things in gifts? We're not just sitting around and eating all of this (well, maybe the cheese straws, if Rob has his way!).

Happy Baking Season!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

'Tis the Season

Christmas is less than two weeks away, and the kids are frenzied. Ever since about a week before Thanksgiving, they've been nightmares to take out in public. They whine for toys, candy, anything--and they don't (really) do this any other time of year. Bobby just falls apart in Target--he can't handle looking at any toys. He freaks out if I say something like, "Christmas is in a couple of weeks, maybe Santa will bring you that toy you want." It sends him over the edge.

They can't concentrate at school. The sing-alongs and the Christmas crafts just add to the slowly building pressure and excitement. Caroline has forgotten her homework two days in a row.

And they won't go to bed! Caroline and Bobby at least require ten to eleven hours a night. Caitlin is my night owl who can get by on less, but Bobby has been up until after nine for the last couple of nights. And Bobby is going through this phase where he's scared of the dark or doesn't want to sleep in his room by himself--it's always something new. I got him a nightlight a few weeks ago, but lately we're finding him in all sorts of places other than his bed. One night he was on the floor in the girls' room--in between their beds. One night he was sleeping on Caitlin's bed down at the foot of it. One night he was in the hallway. And last night, we found this:

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Tour around the Tree

Here is our tree in all its glory!

We bought this ornament in Cape May--we usually try to get one from our vacation each year.

And this commemorates our trip to Seattle last June.

This is our star--I just love it! When I was a toddler, I used to call stars, "dars." With a story that cute, you have to put a dar on top!

I have several Snoopy ornaments. This one is the nicest. The children have managed to break several of my other Snoopy ornaments. After the second or third one went down last year, I called an abrupt halt to tree decorating. Then I ran out to Target in search of plastic ornaments. That's pretty much all I'll let the kids do now. I put up the breakables.

This is the last Snoopy I have from a set of three--the other two crashed to the tile floor last year. I still have them, they just have to be glued back together.

Here is a soft one that I'll let the kids hang up.
And here is my other childhood idol.

If you've ever lived in or visited Chattanooga--or even driven through Eastern Tennessee and seen "See Rock City" painted on a barn.

This is engraved "Christmas 2002." I bought it to commemorate Caitlin's birth. It does ring, and I want Caitlin to learn the line from "It's a Wonderful Life" about "every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings." She would sound exactly like the girl in the movie!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Off to the Post Office

Here are my creations for the ornament swap I'm participating in. I have to mail them out tomorrow. This has been a real self-esteem rollercoaster for me! I mean, how hard can it be to make a Christmas tree ornament? Oh, boy, was I not prepared for the answer!

First, I thought I'd stuff them--make them into three dimensional barn stars. The stitching looked awful, and I couldn't get the fabric to go smoothly through my sewing machine. Then, I wanted to embellish them with pretty silver beads. That was comical--beads all over the place. My fingers were too fat to manipulate the beads easily, half of the beads wouldn't fit over the needle, then my own stitching was not even. Then it was on to fabric glue, followed by sewing through the glued fabric. Not easy. I have stabbed my fingertips with a needle too many times to count!
Then, for the self-esteem part, many of the other ladies in my swap group are artists--not amateur pseudo-crafty moms like myself--but real artists! Wow, am I going to have a gorgeous tree! And don't I feel like my ornaments don't represent! I will say, they look cute in the picture--it's on close up that their flaws become apparent. It has been an humbling experience, but shouldn't we try to remember to be humble in this season of excess? That's the lesson I'm taking from this experience--that, and gratitude to these other ladies.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Happy Holidays

Here's our Christmas card for ths year. I did use the red-eye reduction on Caitlin before I ordered the card--those edits were made at Snapfish and this copy is unedited. Anyway, they will arrive in a couple of days, so once those go out, I'll really feel like the season is underway. Next weekend we'll get our tree, and then we'll be getting really excited!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Do you see a Christmas card here?

Neither do I!

My friend Veronica surprised me yesterday with the first Christmas card of the season. I'm usually on top of this, and with Snapfish, I can have the cards in my house within a couple of days and mailed out within a week. But, good grief, it's not even December!

So, this morning, with everyone dressed for school and looking pretty good, I grabbed the Santa hats and told them to go stand in front of their stockings. (See--I do have the hallway decorated and the stockings hung! I'm not totally losing it.) I subscribe to the stealth theory of photography. That is, slap a hat on the kids and shoot the picture before they know what's happening. I've learned the hard way that going to the trouble of getting them dressed up and posed just does not work! Sorry, Sears, but we're done!

And you can see the results. Caroline was really not into it--can you tell? And Caitlin and Bobby are obviously yelling "cheese" or whatever I told them to say.

Since it's not even December yet, I have a little more time to get a suitable picture. Wish me luck.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Pilgrim Caitlin at her feast.
Pilgrim Bobby sings a Thanksgiving song.
Bobby steals a kiss from cousin Sarah.
And Friday night, Caitlin lost her first tooth!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Eve

I do have cute pictures from Caitlin's and Bobby's feasts, but I don't have the time to upload them and post them right now. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed right now, and I'm not sure why. All I'm really responsible for tomorrow is cooking the bird and the stuffing. And the mashed potatoes. And yet I feel like there are a million things I need to be doing. I got up at 3:00 this morning to make a list...and right now I should be shredding cheddar cheese for my cheese straws. Okay, I decided to make appetizers. But it really won't take that long--the shredding is the most time-consuming part!

I really feel stressed that I have to take all the kids with me this afternoon to pick up the turkey. And the wine. Imagine my kids in a store where everything is in a glass bottle! Makes my BP go up just thinking about it. Time to breathe. And shred.

Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I'm about to jinx myself

because right now Caitlin and Bobby are keeping themselves quietly entertained, and nobody is asking me for anything and nobody is screaming or crying or whining. Aaaaaahhhhhh....

The last couple of days have been stressful. Wednesdays are tough because there's so much running around. Caitlin doesn't handle all the transitions well and I end up getting frustrated with her. I feel like we're always running late and Wednesdays really leave no margin for error. I've had children (or at least one child) for the last seven years--you think I'd get a handle on this by now. But no, we're always rushing to get out the door, and somehow we lose five to seven minutes in the time it takes us to go out the door and get in the car. Sometimes we're early--like thirty minutes early. Usually we're about two minutes late, and it frustrates the hell out of me.

My Shelfari bookshelf at the top of the blog looks like I knocked over the parenting section of the local store. I've been reading all of those books, and while they've been enlightening, I feel like I need a period of relative calm so that I can come up with strategies to deal with our pitfalls. We've been in constant crisis mode, and that is not a good time to try to figure out the root of the problem.

Moment's over. I can hear the dog finishing the kids' lunches.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


So, I've signed up to participate in an ornament swap. This entails my creating and mailing ornaments to complete strangers in the hopes that they will respond in like fashion. I went to the fabric store yesterday to purchase supplies (a really bad idea--Caitlin and Bobby nearly wrecked the place) and I began sewing yesterday because I was just so excited!

Sigh. It's not coming out as nicely as I had hoped. I think I need to re-think how I'm going to stitch the whole thing together. Plus, this morning I got an email from the swap organizers. Two more people have been added to my group! I'm sure everything will turn out fine, I just need some time to work on it. And that has been hard to come by lately. I'm running around like a crazy person, it seems. And we have a kindergarten feast tomorrow, followed by the preschool feast on Friday. Sunday, we'll be in New Jersey for Alex's birthday, then the kids are off all next week. And we're hosting Thanksgiving. Where am I going to get this time? I guess I'll have to give up a few nights of watching Heroes...and I'm really loving watching Heroes.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Christmas bug

It's starting to bite. I'm getting the urge to Christmas shop. It never strikes this early...Rob has been feeling it too. Here's the funny part: we actually bought Christmas gifts today. For the children. While the children were with us. I have a very strong feeling they're going to figure us out soon. After all, all those gifts can't be for their cousins--and as Bobby told us, Alex already has Lincoln Logs. It was pretty funny. I hope they forget in six weeks' time.

We saw Bee Movie today. I'd give it a B, I guess. Better than Shrek 3. I'm looking forward to taking the girls to Enchanted in a couple of weeks.

Time to go watch Heroes. We got Season one on DVD, and I'm loving it. We watched three episodes on Friday night, and if it hadn't been so late, I could have watched more.

Friday, November 9, 2007

A Message by George Carlin:

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways , but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbour. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things.

We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill.

It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete...

Remember; spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.

Remember, to say, 'I love you' to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

AND ALWAYS REMEMBER: Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

can't think of a title

I feel like I need to check in--with myself, I guess, since readership is low (or nonexistent). [note to Mike: post a comment!]

Anyway, this morning I'm trying to focus on putting the house back together. That means starting with laundry. Mad props to Caitlin for jump-starting the whole laundry pile by wetting the bed last night!

I have piles of paper all over the house, and I can't seem to get rid of them. Some of the piles are the kids' school work--stuff that can be tossed, but I want Rob to see them, or the kids like them and aren't ready to part with yet. Some piles are old magazines or catalogs. We're taking in catalogs by the pound lately, so that stuff has got to go ASAP. Some piles are books--kids' library books, kids' books we own. They need to be put away, but the kids are constantly moving the books around.

I also have piles of laundry--unwashed, washed but not folded, washed and folded, out of season, etc. I could spend days getting the laundry to its proper location.

Lastly, because I wanted something fun to do, I have signed up to participate in an ornament swap. I'm not sure what I'm going to make, but I'm feeling a creative urge that I need to indulge. Don't know when exactly I'm going to find the time to make 10 ornaments, but it's a good problem. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


It's Tuesday, and I've sent Caroline off to school for the second day. How nice. In the irony department, today is a half-day for her! It's okay because she could use the rest. She was wiped out yesterday--between the week off from school and the time change, she had no stamina for a full day of school. The nurse found two nits on her yesterday, but they were far down the strand of hair, so she could attend school. Needless to say, I still hot-water washed her sheets (again) and washed her hair with tea tree oil shampoo last night. Head lice sucks.

Now it's November, and just looking at my calendar makes my heart rate pick up. It seems like there's something almost every week, and each week will go faster and faster until coming to an abrupt screeching halt on January 2. I do love this time of year.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Things I have learned this week:

  1. My washing machine makes a beeping sound to indicate that it has finished the wash cycle. This beeping sound is like fingernails on a blackboard to me. It. has. to. stop. Now.
  2. The lice killing shampoo, Rid, is a waste of money.
  3. Ditto for the "Robi-comb."
  4. If your child contracts head lice, expect her to be out of school for at least four days.
  5. Mine was out all week.
  6. There is no shortage of lice removal advice on the internet.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Louse-y day

Yesterday, I washed Caroline's hair, combed out lice and what I hoped were nits. I washed (in hot water) her sheets, her blanket, her quilt, two pillows, about seven towels, all of our towels, the bath mats, her jacket and hat. I also vacuumed her mattress and the couch. In the middle of all that I had to take apart the vacuum cleaner to remove a sock that had gotten sucked in and stuck.

Because I did so much non-clothing laundry, I was out of casual, comfortable pants this morning. I woke up at 6:30 and hit the shower because I had to take Caroline to be checked at the school nurse's office and I had a GYN appointment later in the morning. We went to school, and damn if they didn' t find one nit about a quarter of an inch from her scalp. No school for Caroline today! Then they checked Bobby; he was clean. Then they checked me--one nit. F#$%^. Deep sigh. Time to go to the gynecologist, and what better way to make it really fun than to take two children along with me.

Bobby and Caroline spilled their snacks, bickered and shouted at each other the whole time at the doctor's office. I had arrived 15 minutes early. By 10:45, I still hadn't seen the doctor, and I was getting stressed because Caitlin gets out at 11:10. Add to that I had some concerns I wanted to discuss with the doctor (and I wasn't thrilled to have an audience) and it's getting dangerously close to that time of the month, and you end up with me in tears as the doctor finally comes into the exam room. Not exactly my finest moment. She was very nice about it and she worked quickly and thoroughly to allay my concerns. Then we had to sprint to get Caitlin.

After we got Caitlin, we made two stops (well, three if you count the brief potty break at home) for more lice paraphenalia. At Walgreen's I scored the Robi-comb. It's a fine-tooth comb that is supposed to zap the nits, and I'm hoping it works because I'd much rather do that than apply 16 ounces of Cetaphil to Caroline's head, comb that through and blow it dry. I do have to sanitize her sheets and pillows again, and mine too. And I did wash my comfy pants this morning, but all this extra laundry is putting me behind on the clothing.

I did find out that another kid in Caroline's class was sent home yesterday. The nurse told me they checked about 80 kids yesterday! What fun.

So, wish me luck as I try to get everything cleaned...again.

Here's hoping Caroline will be nit-free tomorrow. I would hate for her to miss the Halloween parade and the class party.

Monday, October 29, 2007

In case you were wondering...

where does the phrase "nit picking" come from? I can tell you. I have been trying to pick nits out of my daughter's hair this morning! It's nearly impossible since the nits are microscopic. Yes, we have head lice today. Awesome! Caroline came home last week with a note from the school nurse--someone in the class had them. I didn't really think about it until last night when I was drying Caroline's hair. I had seen what I thought was a flea. I suppose I should be relieved that my daughter doesn't have fleas. Somehow that seems worse than lice. Rob would disagree. He is completely skeeved by the whole thing. Of course, he didn't have to spend half an hour trying to pull a ridiculous comb through Caroline's hair while trying to find specks of dust to remove. In addition to applying the lice-killing shampoo, I've been washing everything Caroline ever touched in hot water. (Actually, just her sheets, blanket, quilt, pillows, and towels.) I didn't have anything planned today--nothing major that I wanted to accomplish, and now lice removal has become my day's project.

And on a much happier note, the Red Sox swept the Rockies!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thursday thoughts

Where has the week gone? It's Thursday already? Time flies when you're walking back and forth to's the latest:

  • The Red Sox took Game One of the World Series. I gave up around 10:00--these games run so late! Why can't they start at 7:30 instead of 8:30?

  • My feet have been killing me--and I mean, I've been taking ibuprofen because they hurt so bad. I iced my heels last night. I don't recommend it, although it did help with the pain. I am suffering from Plantar Fasciitis, btw. It sucks. I feel like a wuss. My gigantic Sasquatch feet are actually delicate instruments which apparently require all sorts of additional arch support! So at some point today I'm off in search of foot gear.

  • And today, I am, yet again, off to the grocery store. We can't seem to keep food in this house! That and I keep forgetting to buy key ingredients like half-and-half (for my coffee) and diced tomatoes (to make the gravy for spaghetti) and ground beef (to make the meatballs). See what happens when I try to make a mental list? Not good.
  • Don't you love the picture above? My mom was trying to take a picture of us on Sunday, and she had us standing facing the sun...this is what happened.

Monday, October 22, 2007

And here are the pictures!

I couldn't get the pictures to upload last night, so here are some highlights from Longwood Gardens.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Longwood Gardens in the Fall

My mom is up visiting this weekend, and today we went to Longwood Gardens. It was a perfect day to walk around the grounds and enjoy the scenery. Too bad the kids did not share this sentiment. I think they'll sleep very well tonight--we made them walk a LOT. And we capped off the day with dinner at P.F. Chang's, so I'm happy!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Odds and Ends

As I started typing "odds and ends," I found myself thinking "odds and evens." This goes back to the college days, where we had an odd/even rivalry (based on your year of graduation). I was an even--I guess I am an even--my graduation year never changed. Ever since last fall, thoughts of my alma mater just stir up a whole hornet's nest of emotions. I could dedicate a whole blog just to the drama of what has happened to Randolph-Macon Woman's College. Go to for more information--and to donate to the cause!

But back to my odds and ends: Wednesday is usually one of our crazier days. I should have known that something was up with Caitlin this morning when I went in the girls' room and found her still in bed. She's usually the first one up. Then, when I opened the blinds, she still didn't stir. It was no surprise twenty minutes later when she asked me to feel her forehead. She is running a low-grade fever and her cheeks are flushed. I kept her home. I guess this means she'll miss dance class this afternoon, so our afternoon just got a lot less crazy. Although I don't want to have to drag her out to Caroline's lesson if she's still not feeling well. Since we're basically stuck at home until 3:15, might as well do laundry! And I should finish cleaning the guest room.

Also, I could use some of this downtime to continue re-reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I know, it's the third time I've read it, and I probably need some kind of help. It's just such an exciting story and such a wonderful final chapter to the whole saga. I'm getting ready to hand it over to my mom (she's on Book 5 right now), and I couldn't bear to part with it without reading it one more time...

On to other heartbreak: the baseball playoffs. We're pulling for the Red Sox. They are killing me. And I'm trying to keep the faith. I know it's not over, no matter how bad it looks. That's the thing about baseball--you cannot give up on your team. But I sure do wish they were playing at Fenway. The crowd in Cleveland got right into that game last night, and having the crowd behind you is very powerful. I've gotta breathe, I'm getting worked up thinking about it. Maybe I should go tell Bobby to put on his Red Sox hat for the rest of the day. We need some good mojo out there!

Speaking of Bobby, I may as well rename the kid "Pigpen." My son is sweet; he is gorgeous; he can't eat a meal without spreading half of it on the table and the other half all over his face, hands and clothing. He is single-handedly trying to raise the stock price of the stain stick company. And now he's sitting on the couch picking his nose. I suppose this will all be funny when he grows up to be a neat-freak germophobe. God bless his little pointed head!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


So very sleepy! I'm debating whether to make a cup of coffee. I usually only have one per day because I get nasty headaches when I tweak my caffeine intake, but I didn't get to finish my cup from this morning, and, as I said already, I'm really tired!

I have spent today going through my closet. My shelf was in complete disarray. Now I have organized my sweaters and sweatshirts and I've removed the collection of bathing suits that had somehow found their way into my closet--not just my bathing suits, but every member of the family had a bathing suit up there. Now I just have to move all of the children's clothing from the guest room so my mom will have a place to sleep when she arrives on Thursday...I know I should be grateful that we get so many hand-me-downs, but it is insane! And changing seasons makes me crazy--it's never a smooth process. I have plastic garbage bags to put all the clothes in--the categories go something like this: clothes to hand down to cousin Casey; clothes to hand down to cousin Sarah; clothes to hold onto for two years for Caitlin; clothes that might fit next summer; clothes that are stained beyond belief; clothes that never got worn.

And as if I'm not having enough fun with clothes, I could probably stand to run a load of laundry while I'm at it! I'm going to make some coffee before we have to get Caroline.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Pumpkin fun

It finally feels like fall, and we went over to New Jersey for our annual pumpkin picking on Saturday. It was a beautiful day--clear and breezy. The kids had fun, and we came home with three pumpkins.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I'm still here

But we've been having computer problems, so posting hasn't been a priority lately! We're going pumpkin picking this weekend, and the weather is supposed to be beautiful, so I should have some good pictures to put up next week. I've taken a couple great ones of Bobby at the pumpkin patch over the years, as you can see above.

Friday, October 5, 2007

And breathe...

So it's Friday, and Caitlin is home from school. She threw up right as I'm trying to get them dressed and out the door. No school for you! (imagine the Soup Nazi voice here) And no gym for me. Guess I'll get my sweat on another day. Oh, well, I'm sure there's some laundry I could be doing right about now.

I'm still worn out from yesterday--I know it's not a full moon, but everyone was in rare form. I felt like I spent most of the afternoon yelling. And yelling at children only makes them yell at each other (and sometimes back at me). It's a bad cycle to get into, and it's hard as hell to break once I'm into it. I hate days like that--I just need to go cool off in another room, but I know that if I leave the room, I'll just come back to an even bigger mess, or the kids will be jumping off the table or something crazy. I can see now that maybe a divide and conquer strategy would probably be helpful--see how just a night of sleep can help? Just a little bit of distance from the madness is helpful. I really don't want to be a yelling mom. I often wish I could re-wire myself to be more laid back.

So, Caroline's first Brownie troop meeting of the year is tonight. That should be fun for her, I hope. You never can tell--last year she loved taking dance, and this year, she's complained every week. And she's really good at it. That's the thing that kills me. I'm working with the dance teacher to build up her confidence. One of the things Caroline dislikes is that she feels like she's the youngest one in her class, which isn't true. There are a couple of other seven year olds, but there are some ten year olds, too, and they're about a full head taller than her. But the teacher thought she was ready to move up a level, so there you have it.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Here's one to think about

Today I skipped yoga because I decided I could better achieve inner peace by attending to some tasks that I've been putting off. One of these tasks was to sew some patches onto Caroline's Brownie vest. The sewing machine lives in the basement, and I have to bring it upstairs to use it, the cord runs across the kitchen floor, you get the picture, right? Not a fun thing to do with three kids around. Anyway, I was sewing (or trying to--my brown thread ran out) and it got me to thinking about the only known picture of me in my Brownie uniform. I remember exactly what it looks like--it was taken the day I officially became a Brownie. I was in second grade, I even had on the lovely beanie. The kitchen wallpaper in the background was an awesome late-seventies orange and yellow pattern. The thing is, I know I have this picture somewhere. I am certain that I took it from my parents at some point.

Cut to me in the basement going through a rubbermaid box of almost every picture, card and letter I ever received in my life. And no, I didn't find the picture. Damn, I keep a lot of stuff! I mean, there were some treasures in there--ribbons from my swim team days and the first letter my brother ever wrote me while I was at Girl Scout camp in 1979. That letter is so old I'm afraid it will fall apart if I try to open it, but I remember thinking even back then that it was so sweet. But about 80% of the box was cards and letters. And here is where my sentimental, scrapbooking side does battle with my pragmatic, recycle-or-die side. Do I really need to keep every high school graduation card I ever received? Do I need to keep any of them? If I keep them (and every Christmas card, every birthday card, every "Congrats on yet another baby" card), won't they eventually get tossed when I'm old and gray? Or dead, for that matter? (hopefully I'll have reached old and gray by then)

When my grandfather passed away, we spent what seemed like hours going through memorabilia of his (granted, he was a college basketball coach, so his stuff was cooler and of slight historical value). And then I think we tossed a great deal of it. Do I want to burden my children and grandchildren with having to go through all this stuff? Maybe they'll just take one look and dump it all.

I'm leaning toward tossing out much of it and maybe scrapbooking a few items. That way, I can indulge my need to organize and still recycle! It's win-win (-win, for you Office fans out there).

Monday, October 1, 2007

Trying to get into a groove

Sometimes it just sucks to be the first-born. I mean, for a little while (21 months in Caroline's case), Caroline was our only baby, and we hovered over and photographed and scrapbooked every second of it. Temperature at 98.8? Call the doctor! No bowel movement in 24 hours? Call the doctor! First time smiling, sitting up, crawling, standing up in her crib? Alert the media!

But once the siblings arrived, get in line. Granted, Caroline still gets to hit the milestones first--first day of preschool, first ride on the schoolbus, first lost tooth, etc. But now she's in second grade, and that's great, but it's not really newsworthy. It's more of the same. And then there's Caitlin, who has just started kindergarten--that's a big deal. It's different and exciting for her. And Caitlin has started reading all by herself--another very big deal. Of course, being the only boy is a big attention-getter for Bobby. I feel like Caroline is getting lost in the shuffle a little bit. And as all kids know, if you want attention, act really bad! It's a surefire way to get Mommy's attention!

I guess I need to carve out more time just for her--not easy to do, because there's never a time when it's just the two of us. We always have siblings in tow. Also I need to use more positive reinforcement. She's doing well and has been doing well for a while, so it's easy to forget that praise and encouragement are welcome and useful.

Since Caroline missed two days of school last week, she is behind in her school work. The teacher sent most of it home over the weekend, but we didn't get it finished. And then today, she came home with three more pages to make up! This is ridiculous! I'm not going to chain her to the table and force her to complete it all in one day. She did a couple of make-up assignments in addition to her new homework today. Maybe by Thursday she'll be all caught up. It's tough at homework time--the little ones always decide they need me just when I'm trying to work with her. It's frustrating. Deep breaths!

Friday, September 28, 2007

We made it!

It's Friday night and the kids are in bed! Another week done! Whew!

Truth be told, we are all supposed to be over at the elementary school for kindergarten family fun night right now, but a couple of things happened between 5 pm and now. First, Rob wanted to stay home to watch various baseball and football games, so he was going to keep Bobby at home and I was going to take the girls. Then, at 6:20, as I'm about to put dinner on the table, Caitlin shows up from somewhere in the house with a purple face (family fun night began at 7). She found some purple lip gloss (why must they make children's play make-up such revolting colors?) and decided to work it into her eyebrows and her forehead--while making sure to blend it into her hairline. I tried scrubbing her forehead while she was in the shower, but she's still a little purple. I do wish I had taken a picture. It was a sight.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Too much TV?

More like "not enough recording space." TV has returned from summer vacation. I'm excited--it's like getting to visit with old friends again and make some new ones. I'm having trouble establishing a reliable schedule, though. This may finally be the year that I have dedicated night of watching recorded shows. Only I'm running out of space on the DVR. Let's do a quick review of the week so far:

Sunday: Nothing going on. Maybe a little 60 Minutes. Now that Tony and the gang are done, we'll probably watch Rescue Me on DVD until we're caught up. I gave up on the ladies of Wisteria Lane back in Season 2.

Monday: At 8:00, I'm all about How I Met Your Mother. I found this show last year, and I just think it's so funny. I'm also slightly aware of being about five years too old for this show, but it's hilarious nonetheless. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I recorded Chuck. I still haven't watched it, although I saw the last ten minutes live that night. Then at 9:00, I watched Heroes, and I really enjoyed it. I think this will be a permanent addition for me, and I was tickled to see that one of the new characters had a small role on The Office last season as Jan's assistant, Hunter. At 10:00, Journeyman came on, and I went to bed. I have recorded it, but haven't found the time to watch. I'm interested in this one because it reminds me of the book The Time Traveler's Wife (which I loved), and because it has the actor from Rome.

Tuesdays: I got nothing! I suppose I should dedicate this night to Chuck and Journeyman, or I'm going to get hopelessly behind and give up on them. I do miss those Gilmore Girls...Doesn't House air on Tuesdays? I wanted to give that show a try as well. Time to clear out the DVR.

Wednesdays: A couple of weeks ago, I watched the pilot of Back to You. It was pretty funny, and I think it has potential. Of course, I promptly forgot about it and don't know if it has aired since. See, it takes a couple of weeks to get into a routine with watching shows. I also had forgotten until 9:50 that Private Practice was on. I caught the last ten minutes. I wasn't that thrilled. I didn't really care for the "pilot" last season--it just didn't flow well. I really liked Addison on Gray's Anatomy, I loved the way she could just stare holes in Karev. Do I care enough to start watching another "quirky" medical drama? Not sure--it feels like a David E. Kelley show (if that makes any sense). At 10:00, I caught the first few minutes of Dirty Sexy Money. Then I went to bed. It looked fairly interesting, and I read a good review of it over at TVSquad. But do I care enough to add yet another series recording to the old DVR? Not sure. That brings us to the Granddaddy of all TV nights, Thursdays!

Yay, it's Thursday! This is when my DVR skills are really going to be put to the test. The Office's first few episodes are going to be hour-long. And they're up against Gray's now. (I'm not all that pumped about Gray's--there weren't any huge cliff-hangers that I'm dying to see resolved. It just seemed like everyone was having a really bad time.) And now that I've decided to watch 30 Rock (it grew on me during re-runs this summer), I'm pretty much committed to NBC until 10. If ABC would replay Gray's on Friday nights, I'd be in good shape.

Fridays: This is usually when I re-watch The Office. It's just something I do. I don't even check the listings for anything to watch.

Saturdays: It's football season. I don't get the remote back until Monday!

So, there you have it--entirely too much information about my viewing habits. I'll be sure to post tomorrow with my thoughts on The Office (and probably Earl, too. I do just love that show.). Am I missing any shows? Is there something I should check out?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Run and run

I hate that it's Wednesday--I have all these great things to write about and ponder, but I have no time today. I have 45 minutes to feed three people, get one dressed for dance lessons, load up the car with dance shoes, clothes to go to Goodwill, and children, and leave the house (with two kids in tow). Then, it's back and forth until 5:30, then time for dinner (no idea what I'm serving) and bedtime madness.

Ah, maybe on Thursday afternoon...oooh, and The Office premieres tomorrow night! Excitement!

Monday, September 24, 2007

And the antics continue

Caroline came home from school--with no more complaints about her tummy--with some hair missing. Apparently they did some activity with scissors today, and she decided to give herself a trim. Like I wouldn't notice! We're having a bad day...I just fired off a long email to the teacher. Breathe.


We'll get to the shenanigans in a minute, first there's some kiddie cuteness to report (sigh). We were walking to school this morning. We'd already said goodbye to Caroline at her door, and Bobby, Caitlin and I were walking around to her door. Caitlin saw a classmate and ran ahead. Bobby and I followed behind. As she approached the door, Bobby called out, "Have a good day, Caitie." So cute! Then I called out, "Bye, Caitlin!" She didn't even look back as she went through the door with her classmate. Then Bobby turned to me and said, "She blew ya off, Mommy."

Cut to an hour and half later. Bobby and I are getting in the car to drive home from the gym when I see a voice mail on my cell phone. It's the nurse's office at school. Caroline has come in complaining that she doesn't feel good. I call the nurse--apparently Caroline told them that she threw up at home (not true), and that she told me about the throwing up (also not true). She has no fever, but can cough and make it sound like she's gagging at the end of the cough (And the Oscar goes to...). Would I like to speak to her? Oh, hell yes!

Now, at times like this, I feel torn. I mean, my kid doesn't feel good, but she's also told some whoppers to an adult. Do I give sympathy or cold bust her on the lies? I went for the cold bust, as usual. I love that she reported vomiting as a symptom, because after repeated visits to the nurse's office last year, I told her that she could only go if she was bleeding or throwing up. At least she remembered what would get her in the door. I told her that she didn't feel good because she had stayed up too late last night, and that she had to go back to class. I also told the nurse that I'm a tough love mom with a child who loves to go to the nurse for a hangnail. She laughed and sent her back to class. I wonder if she'll go for the fever next--I swear last year she made her body temp go up to 100.0 just so she could come home.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sunday morning

I'm waiting for Rob to wake up so I can start breakfast, only I'm starving and the kids are hungry too. But I only want to cook once this morning...maybe it's time to roust him!

Of course, the kids are quiet right now and this is my only time to go online and post. The weekdays are so crazy with the constant dropping off and picking up. It's nice to be able to just sit. I do need to go to the store today to replenish the snacks--these kids would live on snacks. I know the Eagles play today at one, so hopefully if I go then, the line at the deli won't be too bad. Last week I went to take a number at the deli--I pulled number 30, they were now serving number 2. No cold cuts last week.

This week, television starts back up again! I'm very excited. I just have to work out what I'm going to record and what I'm going to watch live. I never watched Heroes last year, but I'm interested in Journeyman and Chuck, so I may start just because it's in between those two shows. Only Chuck is up against How I Met Your Mother--maybe tape Chuck and start watching it at 8:30. I don't think there's anything I'm excited about for Tuesdays--maybe I'll tape Journeyman and watch it on Tuesdays since it starts at my bedtime. I'm really the most excited about Thursdays. I just love The Office. And Jim asked Pam out on a date during the finale! This is very exciting for all the JAM fans out there. Grey's Anatomy is going to have to be taped and watched at a later date...too bad for them. I wish they'd stayed on Sundays.

So, that's enough rambling for one morning. Clearly I'm still uncaffeinated! Time to get the coffee maker going.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

September Stress

Now some you of, dear readers, may scratch your heads as you read this post. It reveals a side of me that doesn't get out much--not many people I interact with on a daily basis want to discuss this topic (mostly because I interact with moms in "mom mode" and children), but I am a baseball fan.

And it's September. And for the last few years, I've been without a team. Not completely without, more like in limbo. I was a die-hard Braves fan, but since we moved from Atlanta eight years ago, it's been hard to remain die-hard (especially now that TBS doesn't show any games and we don't get SportSouth--are they even on that channel anymore?). Plus, I was ready to give up on them once Glavine left. So for our six years in New Jersey, I kinda rooted for the Mets, because that was Rob's team when he was growing up, and because I think that the Yankees are just plain evil.

Now we're in the Philly suburbs, but I just can't get excited about the Phillies, even though they are doing well. Maybe it goes back to when they beat out the Braves in the NLCS that year (was it 1993?) with that long-haired freak of a pitcher (what was his name again? Mitch something?). The Phillies just don't do it for me.

As a fan of the game in general, I've always had a soft spot for the Boston Red Sox (how could you not?), and of course we rooted for them in 2004. That was a lot of late nights--those games against the Yankees were so long! I was thrilled for them when they won the Series. Since then, I've kinda followed them here and there. And then last year, we went to Boston for the weekend before going on to Martha's Vineyard, and we took the whole family on the tour of Fenway Park. (We couldn't get tickets to a game--Rob and I even tried sneaking in during the late innings one night, but no dice.) The Fenway tour was the high point of our Boston trip for me.

So last night, we're watching the scores on the crawler, and I see that the Red Sox have lost. And the Yankees are winning. My stomach just tied itself into knots, and I said to Rob, "I don't think I'm emotionally equipped to be a Red Sox fan!" They're killing me (as they've killed generations of Sox fans before me, I know)! The Yankees are only a game and a half out! The Sox have lost their last four games! There are nine games left! We were down to magic number time, people--what are you doing! Aaaaaggghhh!
Did I mention that I love September? Go Sox!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Just checking in

It's Monday, and that means back to the rugrat race! We've already walked to school twice, been to the gym and showered. In about ten minutes, I have to get the little ones out the door to drop off Bobby at school. Then Caitlin and I get to play for about two hours before starting the pick-up process.

Over the weekend (I'll explain one week why I laugh as I type those words), we planted 80 daffodil bulbs, put together our new end table and sofa table, moved our entertainment center/wall unit about 2 feet, and learned that our garage door opener is pretty much broken!

I had more to write, but time constraints prevent more rumination. I even had a new recipe to write about--I love it so much that I'll tell you go to and search for Chicken Taquitos. You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Here's one I forgot

Speaking of Caitlin, here's a funny episode from yesterday: She has started reading, so she's constantly spelling out words and trying to pronounce words, etc. She also looks for rhyming words. Yesterday, she started with "truck" and "duck." "Mommy, do those words rhyme?" "Yes, they do." And in my head, I'm thinking, "oh, please don't continue down this road--I know what's coming." Of course, she then reels off a list of four words that end in -uck, and you know what that first one was!

The really sad and/or funny part about this story is that I have had to discuss with her before that the -uck word beginning with f- is not a word that little children (or their extremely frustrated mothers) should use. And she nodded her head knowingly and that was the end of that. Sigh.

A Day Off

already! I'm not going to complain, though, for a couple of reasons. First, Caroline needed to sleep in, and second, after today, they go straight through until Thanksgiving.

Yesterday the girls had their first dance lessons of the year. They both loved it. On Tuesday, we had our first note home from the teacher for Caitlin. She was refusing to color something. Could you imagine? I would have loved to have been able to watch that. Like was she starting to grit her teeth and get angry? Or was she just calmly refusing, like, "no thanks, don't feel like it." The teacher said Caitlin was much improved yesterday. Thank goodness. I was kicking into worry overdrive, thinking "she's not cut out for traditional school and maybe I should be looking into Montessori for her..."

This whole incident has me thinking about the differences in my children, and I feel strongly that it's birth-order related. I feel like Caitlin is so much more of a free spirit than I ever was or Caroline is, for that matter, that just sitting down and following the teacher's directions doesn't come as easily to her as it does to me or her sister. Caroline and I are first-born, eager-to-please-by-following-the-rules people, so we do what we're told (and hope to get praised for doing so), whereas Caitlin sees the teacher's instructions as merely suggestions--just one item on the menu, and there are other more appetizing things out there. It makes for interesting parenting challenges. I know what will motivate Caroline; I have no idea what will motivate Caitlin. Maybe I need to talk to my brother and other second- or later- born children to see what drives them.

And of course, there's Bobby. I haven't really mentioned him in this post, but he hasn't really giving me any trouble! His first day of school was Monday--they love to coddle the kids at this preschool. He went for one hour with me on Monday, yesterday he was supposed to go for an hour by himself (but it conflicted with Caitlin's dance, so he missed it), and Friday is his first "real" day of school. He'll be fine. He is like a small animal--the boy needs to run and play for hours every day!

So today, we'll be starting at the gym, continuing on to the library, where I hope I don't offend too many people (since we'll be there after I'm good and sweaty), and then at some point we'll need to go to the grocery store. Terribly exciting stuff.

Monday, September 10, 2007


I feel like I need a weekend to recover from the weekend! We had our party on Saturday, and it went very well. I finally pulled it together menu-wise. We served kabobs--steak with peppers, onions and pineapple, and chicken with a soy-mirin marinade. Yesterday we did nothing.

Bobby started school today, and I can see that this year is going to be a long one--drop kids off, run to the gym, pick up Caitlin, eat lunch, drop off Bobby, run more errands, pick up Bobby, pick up Caroline, snack, homework, dinner, bath, bed. Catch breath and repeat! I think we'll be fine once we get into the routine. It hasn't even been a week yet.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

It's the First Day of School!

It's official. I have a second-grader and a kindergartner! The girls were so excited. Caitlin wanted to sleep in her dress last night, and I thought they were never going to fall asleep. It felt like Christmas Eve around our house!

After a yummy pancake breakfast and a last-minute check of the lunchboxes and backpacks, we walked to school. Caroline was the first in her class to arrive, and I got to meet her teacher. She's a Red Sox fan, so I think it's going to be a good year. Caitlin had been really talkative up until I dropped her off at her room. All the kindergarten classes were lining up in the hallway. I guess they were going to all walk into their rooms together. Anyway, she was really quiet when I said goodbye, but she didn't seem upset or scared. I'm sure she'll have lots to report on when she comes home.