Sunday, December 13, 2009

Chef Rocco and Other Topics

So last night, ok well...only a few hours ago, I came home to bed down with my husband after a friend's annual Christmas party. Like every year, it is the one time that we can actually spend time out together, without the children - as "grown-ups!" Also, it is probably one of the few times during the year, that I actually have a few drinks and "let loose." As a mom who (appears) to "have it all together" most of the time, this is SO much fun! Nothing was off limits in the evening's topics and the wine tasting did not end until long after midnight. Chef Rocco's latest pick (Avacado Relish) in the Costco holiday recipe book, was up for chatting and review. The verdict was - spectacular! ...Just add a few teaspoons of minced garlic. Men's underware choices and what women really want to see on their man, was another topic covered in our circle of silliness. After several full glasses of wine, this particular subject empassioned me to speak up and "advise" the "tighty-whity" wearing friend (can't believe he admitted it), that this practice should cease immediately and the drawers of his undergarments cleansed! lol ...Last year's party and the "ass-grabbing" aunt came up, bringing barrells of laughs that just wouldn't stop... And amongst all the merriment and good people, we agreed that next year (with the addition of "boy M & Ms and "Jello Shots"), will be even more fun! ...Oh the way I'm paying for it now though!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Till' You Drop


Have you ever wondered why they call Black Friday, Black Friday? I was wondering this very thing as I stood in line waiting for my turn at the checkout early this morning (before any sane human being would think of rolling out of bed). Clearly I do not place myself in the catagory of sane because I too was there. If you find yourself in this situation and you are lucky enough to a) secure parking location, b) find a cart and c) grab everything on your list before it has been hoarded by the mob (while not getting trampled), than you have to know that karma is automatically going to place you in the longest line possible or one where the person just in front of you has selected many items for which there is no price tag and delays ensue. In my case, the line was so long that it began on the other side of the enourmous store and was being maintained by a giant roll of "caution" tape. Caution is something all Black Friday goers seem to need a lesson in. For one thing, we are all up and driving around in the darkness before we've even gotten the turkey & wine out of our system...before we are even really awake. As if that is not scary enough, we pair this state of grogginess and poor judgement with a general irritation I like to call the "Holiday Ho-Hums" and my kid's call "The Bah-Hum-Bugs." Before the sun came up today, I witnessed many an' Ebaneezer Scrooges in my midst. It is so unfair that our children ask Santa for so many things that we cannot even pronounce and have never seen, nevermind pay for! They peacefully sleep in bed, dreaming up happy little elves peicing everything together in The North Pole's magical workshop. Meanwhile, mom is down at Target wrangling the competition to the ground over the last shelved treasure bearing the 50% off doorbuster tag. This is not a sport for the rational, or weak of heart - it is a fierce and brave sisterhood. Fare well my wild-eyed, crazy-haired, minivan-driving, profanity-screaming, sale-loving mamma's. I am headed home for a well deserved nap-er-roo!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Down Time


Most days I love my life. Today though, I am weakened from this week-long flu that won’t go away, a schedule of “to do” that won’t let up, and kids that seem to never lack energy. They are finally off to school. I am sitting in my room, doubled over and rocking from side to side to see if I can get more sleep upright than laying down. I know this is possible because I have (on more than one occasion) witnessed my husband sleeping peacefully while sitting upright in a chair. The clock is reading 9:27am – this leaves me with approximately 2 hours to attempt some rest and recovery. Glancing now across the room at the heap of laundry laying on my bed, I close my eyes. Breathing in…out…in…out…eyes open again. The phone is ringing and the washing machine alarm just went off. That was a nice little break. Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

50 Things


20 Things that have become normal:

1. Not sleeping – ever
2. Not eating – very much and not usually while sitting for long
3. Feeling like there are never enough hours in the day and never completing my (very unrealistic) “to do” list
4. Being tired of the sound of my own voice
5. Wearing PJs all day
6. Being surrounded by spontaneous tantrums and outrageous drama
7. Being late and anxious for any social function or errand I must attend
8. Never dropping my guard and advocating for these children every moment of every day, in any situation; never fully “relaxing”
9. Laughing and crying interchangeably and with no commitment to either one
10. Expecting the unexpected at all times
11. Not being grossed out by anything
12. Letting chaos reign and being okay for lack of control over things I cannot change or help
13. Seeing old things and things I hadn’t noticed in new and exciting ways
14. Have more to loose, but being stronger and braver than ever before
15. Placing more value on my time, feeling like I can always find a better way to be efficient and yet spending more time “in the moment”
16. Cooking (said I never would) and concentrating on healthy meal planning
17. Having (a lot of) extra people in my bed at night
18. Thinking that cuddling on the couch and watching a family movie together is the best “wild night out” I could ever want and the most fun ever.
19. (acknowledgement of) the awesomeness of God and appreciation of the spiritual journey
20. Feeling like no reward in life can compete with a healthy & happy family


20 Things that have become strangely unfamiliar:

1. Religion
2. Bathroom privacy or privacy of any kind
3. Sleep
4. Having a voice or sense of myself
5. Compensation for a day of hard labor
6. Hobbies and reading for pleasure
7. Relaxation and letting everything go once in awhile; being irresponsible
8. Feeling invincible and having nothing of value to loose
9. Being on time and seemingly “having it all together”
10. Expecting that things should go “according to plan” (and for the most part, having them do so)
11. Eating meals sitting down, with foods I enjoy and until I am full
12. Social outings for fun and close female friendships
13. Date nights & Vacations
14. Spending money on things I/we do not “need”
15. Living in a tidy home
16. Going somewhere without an military-style briefing and pre-packed bag
17. Life without doctor’s appointments, school meetings, pharmacy visits, weekly Costco runs, dance, gymnastics and sports classes, scheduled repairs and household maintenance.
18. Talking on the phone (other than to coordinate the above)
19. Being in a car alone; being in a car other than a mini van
20. Quiet


10 Things that I know for sure:

1. No one could ever deeply love and fully understand our children the way my husband and I do (for now, but we welcome the day when family is added)
2. Our bodies cannot be taken forgranted; that good health should be a way of living, and that our focus should be on balance, not rigid restrictions.
3. Disrespect, Discrimination, Bigotry, and Cruelty are Evil and should not be tolerated in ourselves or others, but countered with open love and kindness.
4. There is joy in every day of life and that every tiny gift should be celebrated.
5. Swearing is sometimes very necessary – even if only privately.
6. “Time outs” are more for the parent than the child.
7. That educating oneself, exploring, reading, adventuring…should continue on to the very last breath.
8. Nothing anyone can ever say to you, will be as profound as what they do not, that words really do hurt and that forgiveness is freedom
9. There is humor in almost any situation and that laughing allows the soul to be renewed.
10. Dr Merry’s Potty Pal is the best family-friendly potty training device that ever was invented

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Caught By Surprise


My “to do” list for today was simple. Okay, it was supposed to be simple. This morning was designated for the usual things: basic clean up, deep cleaning, two loads of laundry, lunches for tomorrow, prepare tonight's dinner, and catch up on ebay sales. Why is it then, that I am still staring at an un-made bed and lounging in my pajamas? Gotta’ admit, it feels really good! And in all fairness, Mr Adorable (aka Jim) did drop in un-announced for lunch and dessert while the kids were at school, lol…That is worth a re-shuffle of priorities any afternoon! I feel so lucky to have him and for us to have a sense of humor about things. I feel very, very grateful.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Mile In My Shoes


Going Back to “almost the beginning” I can see why my feet have never been able to firmly plant in the ground, and why it takes so many peeled layers just to see my face. Five years ago we moved into this house and that is one story. Five years before that, Jim and I became engaged and started our life together. And in another story altogether is the person I was in my first life.

The first twenty years went by slowly while I was moving through them but now seem like a blurry array of photographs scattered on the floor or an old video that cuts out in the middle of scenes and features a cast of actors you have never seen before. I had so many dreams and ideas as a young girl. I knew I was destined to be a mother, an artist, a teacher, a writer, a person that deeply cares for others. I did not know how difficult it was going to be to get there.

Time passes though. Love and knowledge find a way of moving around obstacles, meeting resolve, closure, peace, hopefulness…

After nearly ten years of “just saying no,” I am ashamed to say that I fantasized about lighting up today. What made me stop back then in the first place? - New hope. When I found out I was pregnant with our first child, everything changed - E-V-E-R-Y- T-H-I-N-G! For a moment, as I glanced down at the double-lined results of my HPT, time froze like it does for Hiro Nakamura on ABC’s “Heroes.”

Though I was not rescuing the entire world during that stand still, I was making a crucial decision to rescue myself. Just like then, there is always new hope and a thousand reasons not to return to the past but instead, to move forward with renewed hope that everything happens for a reason and that there is always a blessing in unexpected changes.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sky is Falling


Variations of this same scenario have played out in my head a thousand times since Jim was hospitalized a few years back. We have heard whispers of lay-offs many times before, but not like this. Jim thinks it will be just before Christmas, maybe sooner.
Meanwhile, we have to get the closets, flooring and trim completed to bring closure and meaning to all of our hard work so far and for the “what ifs” around the corner. And somewhere in all of this chaos, we have to keep pushing around school, state, and managed care to keep our oldest on track – find some answers. We have to protect and maintain normalcy for all three of our children and keep up with the “routines.” The clouds above are letting loose and as I hold up my umbrella, I wonder how long it can stand up against this relentless downpour. Fearful of the unknown future, I comfort myself with this thought:
In every one of my scenarios and possible outcomes, I still have this family. That is a ground zero we can certainly build up from despite any devastating collapse. That is the only truly important “thing.”

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Jeans & The “Bootay”


Yesterday I was catching up on my Oprah when I witnessed her revelation to the world, of “the best jean” by CJ. Okay, they might very well be “the best” and who am I to argue with Oprah…but for the price tag of one to two hundred dollars, they had better be so damn sexy that my husband takes one good look and is satisfied for the whole night! Later on that show, a “more affordable” jean was also announced. This one was a Lee brand sold at JC Penny stores for around $40. Here again I am thinking…I do not think I have ever paid over $20 for a pair of jeans…and that included tax! …What are those jeans going to do for me for that kind of money? I can tell you that no matter how great they are, my butt will still be right here taunting me in the mirror. To the ladies struggling to make ends meet and still searching for that perfect jean (at a price that you can actually afford), I have some suggestions of my own for the (as she put it) “bootay.”

There is a jean called “1.8” by YMI that is 82% cotton, 16% poly and 2% spandex, higher in the back, snuggles around base of hips in the front, and manages to hide everything you don’t want seen while making you look sexy and feel like you never took your pajamas off! This jean does not have any big fancy pockets or buttons but is streamlined and does not wrinkle! To shop at YMI Jeans Direct, visit their blog (yup they have their own), store locator & such, click on the link here http://www.ymijeans.com/ I found my great deal on these jeans at Dots. Dots stores sell them anywhere from $12.99-18.99 and for that price - you can afford a top or accessories to go with! Find Dots store near you at http://www.dots.com/
So good luck on your search for that perfect jean. I have found mine ...Now if I could only find the perfect work out routine!

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Fague


Waking up this morning was like coming out of a fugue and realizing you had been unconscious during the event of something important, significant, body-altering. I was groggy and my body felt more tired than usual...just would not get up. Was I hit by a truck while sleeping in my bed? As I slowly proceeded to sit up, I experienced a deja vu of the night before, of being cozily tucked into the recesses of the couch while watching a recorded episode of the CBS program Crime Scene Investigation. Glancing downward, It was clear that I had missed something very important, something I always mark on the calendar to let me know how to “plan.” In the kitchen later, I was still rubbing my eyes as I searched all those crucial little squares that hold the details of our lives together. How could I have been so out of touch with myself this month? As a woman, some intuitions are so strong within us, I am irritated by my carelessness and the inconvenience. I am cramping and hunched over feeling like I should go back to bed. I pause for a moment and promise myself to take better care of me today. But first, I must cycle two loads of laundry, shower, dress, feed and clean up for three kids and get them onto a bus.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Chauffeur a’ la’ Mom


Trying desperately to keep my eyes from squinting closed under the pressure of this two day migraine. The oldest has begun going off on another tangent about the finger stick he will be having at his annual physical (almost six months away still) and how and why they need this information from his blood and why can’t they just scrape open one of his existing scabs, etc, etc... This is of course, is an ongoing theme for him. Earlier, as we were leaving dance class, it was a forty-five minute discourse on the fact that his mouth stings “so bad” from having bitten his inner lip. He bites his tongue and inner lip at least several times a week and as a young child, used to do it a few times a day, so it is not surprising that he could generate such a grand discussion on the topic. Also given his lack of tolerance to pain and discomfort, and the length of time he takes to discuss most things he is interested in, this is just an average evening drive. I am the lucky chauffeur a’ la mom.

Sitting slumped over against my seatbelt, I grip the wheel tighter, trying to not swerve into the oncoming traffic as the sounds of Gabe’s loud shrieking for his sister to “stop it Warren” and Loren’s intentionally annoying humming increasingly rises to meet the volume of his voice. Meanwhile Nate continues to ramble on as he stares blankly into the darkness through the window in front of him, so engrossed in his own thoughts, he is blissfully unaware of all else. Maybe If It was possible to hear some of his lecture, I could actually join him in his private world...but not tonight. Tonight the mission is just to “get home.” ...After that?...Who knows...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Drawing Blanks


After seeing another doctor with Nate this morning, I am more confused about our unique situation and how to explain it, but at least received confirmation that I am doing everything I can for now, and that there is no need to take things further than this (at this time) unless I’m willing to “experiment” with more meds, Nathan is no longer meeting academic standards, or there is a crisis.

Wish there was a way we could find the answers to our hearts questions without opening certain doorways and stepping on so many toes. All this psychological “muck” parents go through to help their children along in life, just cannot compare to what our souls instinctively tell us we have to do.

Nathan is beautiful and special. Nathan is well. Nathan just has more difficulty than most people getting on with a “normal” day. And that is okay. We are here to give him whatever advantages in life he needs and none of those he doesn’t. We may be drawing blanks when it comes to “concrete” information, but we have all the knowledge we need to be his parents.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lore of Yesteryear


There is a certain kind of wisdom and charm....a magnetism that our older generations carry with them in the later years of life. We are drawn to them ...to hear their lore of yesteryear, the grand stories, the accounts of lessons learned, their advice on future endeavors...We should all feel blessed to share these precious moments with them and to take away those valuable trinkets of knowledge and beauty.

This past weekend, we enjoyed a surprise and rare visit from my grandfather who was generous with what little time he had to share on his short traverse to Massachusetts for a 60th High School Reunion. I admire his bravery and ‘spunk’ to arrive here alone and to join us on such adventures

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Some Answers


Today I spoke with Nate’s pediatrician about adjusting meds again. She agreed we should make another appointment to get things right, weigh him and update the “game plan.” In the meantime, she asked that I make an appointment to see the one doctor we have been avoiding (for an evaluation). That makes three professional suggestions now - “to rule things out” of course...

Later I called the Parent Advisory Council in our state about some of the things I cannot get anyone else to answer for us - the things I must know first. They are an amazing resource for anyone with a child that has special needs and were extremely helpful. I feel much more confident and ready to move forward now....One day at a time.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

So Many Questions


Nathan is still loosing weight and as soon as we have spoken to his therapist tonight, I will be calling his pediatrician about this current medication he is on. The past week or so, he has still not wanted to eat anything. Adding complication to the matter, these new pills do not seem to have any of their “intended” effects. Translation: Nate is struggling again and so are we.
For the longest time, all we could see were the attention issues he had and the resulting behaviors that can often be associated with ADD-type struggles. Until we met a point with the previous medication (and therapy) where some of those behaviors had been lessened or eliminated, the deeper layer of Nate’s complexities, were obscured from our primary view. So clearly now, I see it…There is something more.

Everyone has one of those family members that you love just the same but maybe just seems odd, awkward, eccentric, peculiar, different …For most people that meet him, Nathan would never appear to be anything but completely “normal.” Whatever we have done or continue to do – it has been tremendously successful. Nate is a beautiful, kind-hearted, loving boy who is self-confident, social and out-going. He participates in many after-school activities and has many long-term friendships. We know though, there is something else…the “stuff” we hide so well but that is getting increasingly difficult to mask.

We have another function ahead and I am so nervous. Beyond ADD, I have no answers to explain why we feel like we have to be with him at all time, why we do not trust his interactions and behaviors to be appropriate and why he could construe a simple social interaction to be scary, hurtful, threatening and possibly take physical action. We cannot explain why he is so unnerved by the tiniest things or why everything must take a 500 page essay to explain and pick apart. It is exhausting, but for whatever reason...it is our “normal” right now.

Meanwhile…let us not forget the other complicated little people sketching out their own little ideas and personalities on the same “pad” …I suppose that if life is art and art is expression, we are always in a state of expressing our colorful bond with one another in unique and different ways ...but always with love and respect.
There is definitely something more going on with Nathan, but we need more answers to some initial questions before we can ask certain ‘other questions.’

If there is “something more,” how does it (hypothetically) affect his daily life and is there anything we can do to alleviate the symptoms or eliminate the issue? What does a label do for him? How can a label hurt him? We continue our quest for answers in tonight’s session.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sweeter Than Candy


Notorious for skipping school in my own time, I continue to make no reservation about pulling my own children out of school from time to time for a little “get-away,” “personal field trip,” and other such fun-seeking adventures. Sometimes that tiny little escape is sweeter than candy, keeps us from needing to take “actual sick days” and well worth the disruption of our over-scheduled lives. Today was the orchard and the baking of our first apple pie and crisp!...


Here Is What We Made:

The “YUMMIEST” Sugar Free Apple Pie
4 c Apple Slices (Peeled)
1 (small box) Sugar Free French Vanilla Pudding Mix
2 Tbsp Organic Smart Balance (Vegan Butter)
½ tsp Nutmeg
½ tsp Apple Pie Spice
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
½ tsp (pure) Lemon Juice
2 9” Round Pie Crusts (one for top and another for bottom)

Directions: Peel and Slice Apples, Set Aside. Next, preheat oven to 350 degrees and make your crusts; fold over and set aside. Then mix all other ingredients and apples until there is a sticky covering. Assemble your pies with bottom crust, apple filling and then top crust, making sure to pinch the sides closed and leave a few air pockets or slits in the very top. Bake at least 45 minutes/until golden brown.

The “SPECTACULAR” Sugar Free Apple Crisp
The Filling
½ c Splenda Brown Sugar
2 tbsp Unsweetened Minute Tapioca
½ tsp Ground Cinnamon
4 c Apple Slices (Peeled)
The Topping
1 ¼ c Quick Oats Oatmeal/Approx 5 Packets of Plain Instant Oatmeal
½ c Organic Whole Wheat Flour
¼ c Splenda Brown Sugar
½ c Organic Smart Balance (Vegan Butter)

Directions: Peel and Slice Apples, Set Aside. Preheat Oven to 350 Degrees. Spray 8 x 8” pan or similar bakeware with non-stick spray. Combine Filling Ingredients in One Bowl and Mix Topping Ingredients in Another. Once finished with both mixtures, pour the Filling into your pan first, followed by the Topping. Bake 45-50 Minutes until crumbled topping is brown and crispy.

ENJOY!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Feeling The Squeeze and Making Juice


Where it is often simple, life can also get very confusing. There are so many questions and answers, what couldaz,’ shouldaz’, and “may have beenz” or “might bees” dancing about.

The way I see it, the main problem is that there is no real instruction manual for how to go about things, make choices and face hardships. We can pray for guidance, listen to the spirit within us and hope that the choices we make are the right ones at that moment ...But in the end, we have to keep making lemonade out of the squeeze, changing the recipe a little each time, until the flavor is right.

The ingredients I am using this week: patience, humility, sadness, confidence, strength, perseverance, communication, respect, love and intellect.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Changes Big and Small, Smiles of Plenty


Li-lo grew several inches, gained several pounds and turned seven this year. She also increasingly became a more diverse and accomplished artist: took a more active interest in photography, began using several new mediums and techniques, exploring her sense of fashion and style, took a more active role in her hair colors and cosmetics, and developed an insatiable love for baking!

This amazing, passionate, sweet little person also gave up her big day to go grocery shopping and attend her brother’s soccer game with no fuss at all. She said that “between dinner at (her fave restaurant) and getting to bake cookies with her new birthday set, it was the best birthday ever.”

The next day she continued to shine when the sun wouldn’t. After a month of beautiful weather, our plans to go celebrate her birthday at a local amusement park with friends were foiled under a huge rain cloud. Loren said “That’s okay, we’ll just find something else to do.” That is her way, and that is only one of the countless reasons she is so very special.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The City


A Perfect time and place to remember and make new memories...

Ten years ago, Jim and I drove into Manhattan where he purposed on a romantic carriage ride through Central Park and we took in a day at the Met. This Fall we brought our children back to the city for an adventure filled with great memories from the past and many new ones we are sure to never forget.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Gratefully Moving Forward


Fall is creeping in and just like any other season, we are taking in all the fresh air we can, looking for adventure in unlikely places and stepping forward with renewed hope at a time when we need to be most thankful for all of our blessings & generous with what little gifts we can offer.

Together we always find ways to have an incredibly great time even when things get really tough. We remind ourselves that it is so good to be continually making a home and enjoying our family...the good, the bad and the otherwise...we still have one another.

As we continually work on many home projects and I stay on the “job hunt,”coordinating resulting/upcoming childcare, after-school activities and all the other nuances of daily life, Our Family is generally staying very, very busy.

Looking ahead we are gearing up for a productive season, finishing the interior walls, yard & outside projects & hoping to start laying out the floors and gutting our charming 60s style bathrooms this Winter. ...But we’ll have to see...

This is our family life - a crazy, fast pace, blessed and full life, complete with everyday struggles and surprises at every turn.

While we pioneer the unknown course ahead with all of you, we wish you health & happiness.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Happy Campers


The only thing better than spending a long relaxing day on the beach is a few days where no one has to drive home for dinner afterward. Instead? ...a short walk back to camp where we grilled up some burgers, roasted marshmellows and shared funny stories and cold brew around the campfire with friends.

We will never forget Labor Day Weekend 2009 - It will now be long-lived as our very “first family camping trip” and a super fantastic time!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A “Dapper” 41st


What a time we had! 

The day began with a pile of little munchkins bouncing on the bed, eager to give "daddy" their homemade gifts (hand-painted and fired ceramic mugs) and cards. This was followed by a large Southern breakfast, some quality family time, a movie cinema party for our son's friend, two sleepovers for the kids and one magically romantic evening alone together. Awesome!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Coming and Going: VIDEO

Watching them grow up so fast, trying to stretch further, work harder, hold on tighter, but letting them spread those wings and climb those steps... video

The First Day


Today is the day and we are ready. Still so sad to see them go and so happy when they return. No other way to say it but “mixed.”

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Home In Progress


Always Changing & Improving...

Five years in this home ...five years, three children, their grandfather ...their grandfather, the construction of a 1,200sq ft in-law apartment, the removal of over 50 trees and creation of a lawn and play area, removal and/or repair/replacement of windows, roof, heating system, a/c systems, electrical, plumbing, water pump, ceilings, walls, stairs, doors, ...and reuse of everything imaginable!

The journey continues...

The Last Day


Sun was shining, the air was hot, the sky was blue and the waves beckoned us for a nice long hike on the shore. Great day...great way to end the Summer and make way for new beginnings (like the Fall crab hatchlings and harbor seals return). Oh...I meant to say “like school.” ;-)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Open House


The elementary school hallways were crammed full of little people and their families this afternoon. I don’t think it has really sunken in for any of us. Backpacks are packed, classrooms have been identified and teachers have been met. Two days left! ...So tomorrow...where else would we spend the last day of Summer but the beach!!!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Goodbye to Summer


Just around the corner, the kids begin classes. It is with very mixed feelings. Sad to see the Summer go and exciting to begin the Fall.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Speed Bumps


Our dinner plans for the evening?...The emergency room! In one of his worst tantrums yet, our oldest punched his hand through a glass window earlier today, leaving behind huge shards of it in his right palm and fingers. It began over another one of his "issues" with my not disciplining another child sufficiently or forcing them to "follow the rules" of the game. He was outraged at the other child (and me) for allowing them to "get away with it." I tried to explain that the child was not my child to provide consequences for, and that he would be leaving very shortly when his mother arrived. Things escalated quickly from there. He is so rigid and there is no room for "exceptions." So (without my knowing why and just knowing it needed to be done), I removed him from the pool area to calm down while I watched the children still swimming outside. Because I did not stay to "hear him out" - the screaming began, then banging, then a frightening smashing sound from the back door window.

Nate is struggling and we are with him. Each day presents new challenges for this big-hearted sweet boy and we pray that the upcoming school year isn’t as “bumpy” as the last but we are cautiously optimistic.

While his early summer therapy sessions and testing went well, discovering he has ADHD, in addition to some mood “stuff” that happens from time to time, we came out of things with the “plan” of transferring to a local therapist after diagnosis was made and taking things one step at a time.

I guess even top professionals, fall short of best laid “plans.” School begins next week and we still have not properly adjusted Nate’s meds through his pediatrician and no records have yet been sent to the new therapist’s office despite my many phone calls, emails and letters of request.

We have a PPT meeting scheduled with the school (which are difficult to get and even harder to re-schedule) on the first week that I’m not sure I will be able to attend (not knowing about job call backs or start dates), and have no documentation of Nate’s IQ, Academic Placement, and Psychological tests from the countless hours spent across the state in sessions that we cannot prove took place until the records are sent (and as a result), have no formal recommendations yet for advocating on our son’s behalf.

The medication (while helping tremendously during the early part of their long-acting application), is no use after about 4-5 hours and cannot possibly help throughout and entire school day and afternoon activities as it is currently prescribed. I am deeply concerned as we titrate upward for the maximum effectiveness and Nathan gets sick to his stomach, looses appetite, and continues to drop in weight. We are watching him closely through tears and frustration.

This is a neurologically-based, proven chemical deficiency that can complicate every facet of one’s life if not treated. We have done everything in our power that we can do through diet, activity level, social, and sleep cycle modifications, love, support, provision of safe places and a communicative vocabulary. Still, how do you help when you feel helpless?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Our Home Away from Home: VIDEO

No place else we’d rather be but together and on the beach. video

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sunkissed In August


There is never a better time to seize the day than right now. Although I have never been one of those spontaneous people, I am also not the “planner” everyone thinks of me as being. Somewhere in the very balanced middle, I find myself enjoying each moment “not knowing” the outcome, but appreciating it as it comes more and more. Jim has taught me to slow down while ‘working’ faster. The kids have afforded me the gift of never being able to predict the outcome of any given situation and the knowledge that anything that can go “differently than planned”- inevitably will do just that. So I embrace the everyday, the broad outline of a plan paired with the open flexibility for un-scheduled fun, laughs and cries. I make a point to find positives and lessons where I would have never guessed. I let myself soak up all the beauty around me and find pleasure in simple things.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

“The Skinny Dipper:” VIDEO

Few things make us laugh as heartily as these silly munchkins and all their crazy antics. Yup, you know....”the shannanigans” that life would be colorless without. video

Monday, August 3, 2009

Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama & Home


This past week zoomed past us similarly to the entire year. Our one week Summer vacation became a scramble of getting down to Tennessee, a ton of fun-filled activities spread between 3 states, and then a hurried trek back home here in the Northeast for a Friday morning interview.

The interview went great after studying the whole way there and back. While I felt extremely well prepared, I have not had much experience and it was difficult anticipating what questions I would be asked by the two directors and HR officer. Still, I am very happy with the end result and know that I gave it my best.
Now I wait for an answer and research childcare availabilities as we prepare for school and Fall activities in two and a half weeks.

After the awesome time we had visiting family and friends in the south, the drive home & interview, we really soaked up every last minute we had as a family over the weekend. We hit a great new disney movie, and took in a long sunny day at A Local Amusement Park. As we passed the huge lines into the park, we remembered that we’d never be able to do this without the generous gift Memere gave us for Christmas and how much we have been blessed all year.

Despite all the uncertainty ahead, we are positive and grateful for all so far.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Possibilities


An interview at last! Cannot wait to finally have the opportunity to sell my strong points and just go for it!

Looks like it will happen the week we get back but no final date and time yet - they are scheduling right now. I will have alot to think over while we are away and much to prepare - so exciting!

Five for The Road


Today was the first day of preparations towards our upcoming drive to Tennessee for a week long pilgrimage. Amidst the stacks of laundry the kids kept piling onto my bed from the dryer, we discovered just how excited we were. Then it hit me! Very soon, Jim & I are going to be trapped in one small space with all three of our children for almost 20 hours solid! What was I thinking!

Funny thing is, it has not yet occurred to our children that they will be trapped in the car with one another for that amount of time. Thank goodness for that.

Packing will commence immediately & cease on friday afternoon when we take off on this insanely long journey but until then you can be sure I’ll be charging up those game systems, bringing plenty of snacks and planning to drive through the night!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

“Cheesy” Italian Specialty


On my mind today as I head to the grocery store....food! Such a struggle to stay creative with one diabetic and three very “spirited” children...Must keep everyone’s health in mind while splurging where we can. Last-night’s dinner was one of our favorite splurges because on Friday’s we have a bit more time and it is a celebration of the weekend ahead. Here is the meal I created to be fun and tasty while not making you feel overly guilty. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!


You will need:
• 1 box of Dreamfields: Healthy Carb Living Whole Grain Lasagna (13oz) or other
• ½ lb 97-99% lean all natural ground turkey
• 6oz – 1 Container of Athenos Traditional Feta Cheese (Reduced Fat) or other
• 15oz – I lb (small) container of part skim ricotta cheese
• 6-8oz Uncooked broccoli and/or spinach (chopped fine)
• 3-4 cloves of fresh garlic (chopped fine) or 1 generous tbsp of pre-minced
• ½ cup of mozzarella cheese (shredded) – for leanest meal, leave this one out
• 2 tbs of fresh grated parmesan cheese
• Seasonings: Goya’s “Adobo,” Sea Salt, Cayenne Pepper, Italian Seasoning, Fresh Parsley
• Jar of favorite red sauce
• Olive Oil (mine is the darker extra virgin, lol)

Prep Work:

Lasagna must be boiled, rinsed, lightly dipped in olive oil, and laid out flat on wax paper or clean counter in parallel rows.
Simultaneously…

• Ground turkey must be browned over high heat and seasoned well with the Adobo seasoning (above), then rinsed with cold water, strained and set aside.
• Large ceramic or other baking container must be lined with red sauce of choice (my pick is an organic chunky tomato garlic)
• All ingredients above must be laid out in easy to reach manner and any chopping or grating must be done ahead.



Putting It All Together:

In medium to large mixing bowl, add:

Ground turkey, Feta Cheese, Ricotta Cheese, Finely Chopped Veggies, Garlic, Mozzarella Cheese, and seasonings (above) to taste. Mix well with spatula or kneed with clean hands.

Set aside the grated Parmesan and parsley as garnishes.

Once mixture has become a thickened paste and passes the taste test, begin taking serving-spoon size portions and globbing them onto the end of each piece of lasagna. Then roll them up just like an oriental rug, lol, tucking the filling in at the side as you go. Be willing to overstuff – this is not Manicotti ;-)

After you have run out of lasagna or mixture, start placing the rolls tightly against one another in your baking pan or dish (on top of the red sauce).

When your dish is filled with neat little rows, packed in close together, add the remaining red sauce around the sides and fill all gaps, spreading over the top last.

Add freshly grated Parmesan cheese and parsley garnishes & cover!

Now you can bake for 30-40 minutes at 300 degrees or store in fridge for later that day or the next. If freezing this meal, make sure you let the bakeware sit at room temperature before placing in oven and plan to bake 20-30 minutes longer at same temp. (Serves 5-10 Depending on Side Dishes Such as Large Vegetable Salad)

Bon Appétit!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Dirty Laundry





Sometimes It feels like no matter how many loads of laundry I do in a day, I will somehow never get ahead of the game. We finally have the business of cycling it through, washing and drying down solid, but loose momentum somewhere between the transport from the dryer and the return to drawers and closets.

As my children lament over the same tedious chores with me, we look at the upside (for them). In addition to earning allowance now, they will be one of the few and coveted in the college world for their savvy and knowledge of household function...perhaps even trade this need-to-know info for “favors?”

Won’t ponder on that one for too long but suffice to say, that we do our share to keep the fashion a’ flow’n round’ here.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Chores n “Stuff"






You asked and I’m pondering...God knows we moms are always doing the best we can and that none of us are perfect. Somehow though, we keep trying for it and feel that we should always be better than we are. In the meantime, while beating ourselves up, we seem to isolate ourselves from one another, criticizing, judging, and pulling back when we should be reaching out. For those of you that have asked what it is that I’m doing to keep my three on task, I say: be tenacious, be full of heart, be well intentioned, be willing to be imperfect and flawed, be consistent, be flexible, be amused, delighted, sad and joyful, but never give up. We would like to think that we have given our children the best start in life possible, but the truth is, we will all have to wait another 15-20 or more to find out from them. For now, each day is a new day…
It used to be that when the kids were very young, everything in the house had to have “picture labels on it.” Everywhere we looked there was a laminated photo of something with the printed word underneath. This just made sense to me – If I wanted them to start being responsible for their world, I had to give everything a place and a name. In turn, it helped me A LOT!
Later as they became “little people,” we progressed to actual “chores” and we started with a basic chart that was poster-size and filled with colors to get their attention. Put-off by all those mini-charts that seemed to “old” for my little ones, I bought some supplies and got to making my own.

What we did was this: We took the poster and divided it up into daily activities they needed to do or learn. We found clip art and took photos of them doing those things and then placed them on a line in the left column with the printed words beside them. It was a natural transition to the labels they had already become used to. This time though, they could see the things on the left column that they needed to do IN ORDER , from wake up and make my bed, all the way down to bedtime. And what we did on the right is have one column for each child (headed by their name) going downward, parallel to the chores. Then on each coordinating square, we placed adhesive Velcro patches/circles (Walmart or other craft store) and stuck the opposite Velcro patch onto the back of little laminated photos of each child’s face. In this way, they could move down to the end of the day by themselves, knowing what to count on and what to expect. For incentives, I highlighted in bright colors, certain squares along the way, that represented a reward. The rewards were simple ones and part of the reward was just getting to choose: A special 15 minutes alone with mom, 30 minutes of TV viewing, 30 minutes of crafting time, or select something from a prize bin. (I collected these from dollar stores and from http://www.orientaltrading.com).

As the kids grew even more mature and showed the ability, we added chores and changes around our daily schedule to meet their social demands and (eventually) my return to work, but essentially we all work off the same chore list now – a smaller one that they can all read and understand (without the colorful pictures). It is the same thing - just “grown up.”
What we are doing now is: The main chart or “master list” is placed in a clear acrylic frame that stays on the fridge with a Velcro attached Expo marker (that way we can write on the acrylic frame and wipe clean at the end of the day for re-use). The master list has two variations: Chore List I and Chore List II – We do two weeks on one than rotate two weeks on the other. The kids each carry their own laminated copies around the house as they do their chores (but their copies only have their individual tasks on them) and are two sided so they can switch to the chore list we are currently working on (I or II). Also, each child’s laminated copy has it’s own Expo marker Velcro attached so they can re-use at the start of each new day by wiping it clean. I keep the week’s “tally” of tasks completed on the fridge’s master list. Sounds complicated, but once established, is a very smooth, basic system and super easy for kids that are accustomed to a schedule or are in need of a drastic switch to one because it gives them a lot of independence.

For rewards in children older than 4 or 5, I have found that their “motivators” are easier to identify and utilize. All of my children have been TV and computer restricted since early age so that is a coveted special privilege that we can easily hold over them, particularly the boys. In addition, our daughter hates to be alone and craves attention, so exclusive time, or events with her friends are a strong playing card. In addition, they all love to earn money and spend it. Since we do not have a lot to give out, we keep allowance small, but realize that they must practice for the real world, sooner rather than later. Accounting for that, a calculated percentage of every earned allowance must go into the bank at the end of each week, the remainder of which, is theirs to spend or save at will, to make mistakes and learn from them, to feel good about wise spending, to feel disappointed with unwise spending and so on…

The Summers and Weekends are the toughest transition of all and I intentionally leave no “plan” on these occasions because they cannot be planned. That is right “expect the unexpected.” We like to use a variation of our school year "program" but with weekly goals rather than daily chores. Believe it or not - our kids demanded it after waking up and realizing there was no school and no more rewards to earn, LOL ...Go figure!

For Parents Just Starting Out & Looking For a “Non-Schedule” Routine To Stop the Baby-Craziness

We started a routine/schedule (in its basic form) when Nate was born. Even though I nursed "on demand" every day had a similar pattern with relative time frames for wake up, meals, nap, & bedtime.Whatever changes or spontaneous activities came up, we  always kept to this simplistic framework below.

For example:
-Wake up between 7-8am
-Errands, Playtime/Cleanup or Playdate-group Sometime Between 8-10am
-Snack around 10am (you too - healthy ones)
-Errands, Playtime/Cleanup or Playdate-group Sometime Between 10-Noon
-Lunch Between 12-1pm (you too - healthy one)
-Naptime 1-3pm (Have comfort "thing" just beforehand to signal naptime - Something you can do anywhere Like a Story You Can Keep With You or a Prayer)
-PM Snack Around 3-4pm (you too - healthy ones)
-Errands, Playtime/Cleanup or Playdate-group Sometime Between 3-6pm
-Dinner Around 6pm/No later than 7pm (everyone must help make, eat together and clean up as family)
-Make Bedtime Routine Between 7-8pm (Something You can Do Anywhere Like: Brush Teeth, Say Prayer/Sing Song with or without a Bath)
-Bedtime (No later than 8pm no Matter Where You Are)

...So you can move around this type of schedule easily wherever you are - always keeping in mind to have your car stocked with: Extra Pack n' Play or Sleeping Mat n' Blanket, Umbrella Stroller and "Go Bag." 

Your "Go Bag" Should always be by the door and include: 
-Diapers
-2 Changes of Clothes (one warm/one cold with small jacket)
-2-3 Comfort Items such as stuffed animal, blanket, favorite story, etc
-Extra Wipes
-Disposable Plastic Bags
-First Aid Kit with Dry Ice Cold Pack
-Sanitizing Spray
-Some Dry Snacks
-Bottled Water(s) and an Empty Sippy Cup
-(maybe extra baby monitor)
-(In Season) Swimsuit, Hat, Sunblock, Bug Spray

Once armed with this system, you can give the kids and you "something to count on" and for "daddy", the gift of your "date time" between 8-10pm (no little people, family or friends can visit during this two hour "date time" during the week unless one of you is working late and not home). Mom and Dad must be in bed together after that - It's "The Rule." It will be hard to hear the children cry for you so answer them, go to them, rub their heads and rock them, nurse them, but do not stay or lay down with them - just keep coming back all night for three nights until it is done. In this way, they still feel very loved and reassured while you remain firm and in control.

It may take awhile for your little ones to get used to this new set of restrictions but It will most likely be harder for you than them. The babies will do whatever they are used to and what becomes soothing to them, so the sooner you get on what we now refer to as "the program" , the sooner everyone will follow suit. Babies love a routine to count on too.

This does not mean that you cannot be spontaneous and go about whatever you need to do or work - just...
1) Insist that childcare provider understands & maintains your "schedule" wherever you are and have them journal everything so you can feel included at the end of the day and will also know what your children ate and when (so you can keep track of overall nutrition). It should only take the provider a few seconds to jot this stuff down and is not a strange request. 
2) When enjoying a day home, just follow the plan and be sure to always keep your "Go Bag" and car ready so you can tell your little ones "Now today we are doing this... so you will need to nap here in the car (or wherever) because it is naptime and we will be out ...Would you like to read our special story to you now? ...Can I lay your seat back and get your special blanket?" (you get the picture - can be switched to stroller, etc.) It is to be explained even to children too young to understand words and must be reinforced with "shhhhhh...it's naptime remember?...No talking now ...It's time for quiet until mommy says it's time to get up." They will get it soon enough if you stay consistent and believe me, mine have really tested that theory and still do. It seems like they have iron will during tantrums and it can be embarrassing but be strong.
3) Or alternatively, if you are out late and must do bedtime elsewhere, just stick to the routine and ask the host/hostess where you may put her down that is quiet and darker and either bring a monitor or ask them ahead of time if they have one you can borrow and set up so that after you have gone through the routine, you can enjoy the adult company without a sleepy baby(s).

It won't be long before everyone looks forward to the security of a routine they can all depend on and plan activities around. By the time you are ready to begin a "picture schedule" like the one above at top (age 2-3yrs), your little ones will only have the transition of seeing what they already do/are used to, will (hopefully) be showing initiative in helping with daily tasks, and very much will like the fun of controlling "it all" by moving their face photo(s) around the board to earn praise or rewards. (can also incorporate potty training into that one - yippeee!)


DISCLAIMER: These are just a few of the things that have worked for us and will not be appropriate for everyone. Further, we are not child psychologists or doctors and can only pass on what we know as parents, but those suggestions made here are non-professional opinions only.


Hope this is helpful and best wishes to all those hard-working parents I admire so much!

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Job Hunt & Thirty Years


Still hunting for a job this Spring as Summer begins and the prospects are bleak as applications go out. I think at times my degrees hurt more than they help and I am hoping for a break soon so that we can finish up the house, secure Fall childcare arrangements and get into a new routine that we can all count on before the next school year.

For all of you out there experiencing this same shift from the “at home zone” (i.e. career suicide path) - not taking forgranted the amazing blessing it has been - to now re-entering the work force, my best wishes for your success and that of myself.

It has certainly been a long, wonderful, and beautifully complicated road as I look at the week ahead and enter the next decade of my life - the big 3-0!!!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Looking Back, Looking Forward


Cannot believe how quickly time passes. I lament over the passage of time and how even without a formal “job” can never seem to find enough hours in one full day of work. As always, my thoughts are filled with my children - these precious babies, how much they have grown, how they continue to develop and the potential they carry forward. While enjoying every possible moment - I love to pause and glance back. So grateful that they still dish out those great big snuggles without care or reservation. That is all that a loving mommy & daddy need.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bye Bye Tiffany Blue


This house has yet to feel like a home - even after almost five years. It was cathartic to stucco over the last remaining patches of that infamous tiffany blue (the last layer of paint and paper found on our 1960s walls) and I wasn’t sad to see it go. The next and only time I’d ever like to see that color again is on a tiny little gift box, lol. Next step.....paint!!!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Rehab for the Soul


Few places in the planet restore and refresh us the way this place does. Does’ not matter whether the sand be soft or granular, super soft white powder or dark grey, gritty with rocks, does’ not matter if the water is warm like a spa or icey cold, brownish and dense, blue with white caps, green or crystal clear, has big swells or none - WE LOVE THE BEACH!!!

We love to hike and swim, splash, run, dig, roll, slide, jump, skip, float and giggle...we love to get dirty, sandy and soggy and to drive home with the small of salt air on our clothes and to feel the warmth of the sun on our cheeks!

This is our favorite place to just be together and forget all worries or cares and is our long standing reservation for all scheduled no school days. Luckily for us, school was out yesterday! Woooohoooo!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Back To Work


Well we are back to work and “in the thick of it,” quite literally with buckets of stucco, gallons of paint and ceiling popcorn, scrapers, sanders and such...a real mess all in the hopes of real progress. The kids were bummed as we held off all Spring sports (don’t feel too bad - they still have gymnastics and dance) to keep things going and get the job done at long last.

You see, we moved in about 5 years back, built a 1,200 sq ft in-law apartment from studs up for Jim’s dad and have been living upstairs on a plywood floor, with stripped walls for years while paying cash for each new project as we could afford it.

Now finally with the flooring stacked up and ready to lay down, 20 ft of center wall removed and engineered beams put into the ceiling, ceilings & walls patched, electrical and heating re-routed, and new ceiling texture in, we are now turning our attentions to walls and paint (hopefully before the yard starts to feel neglected and beyond repair).

Can’t really complain though. Out of our three homes so far, this one has been the most work, but also the most worthwhile.

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Perfect Fifth


Though our family may be like so many across our country right now and a great many are suffering in a much greater need, we are at the crossroads too, and grateful for every day that we still have this roof over our head, counting our daily blessings and never taking forgranted that without all this “stuff” we still have the precious gift of our family. While a common story, it not a simple one. Jim and I met at a precarious time in both of our lives where we had already lived two lifetimes in one and were not looking to “complicate things” any further with a relationship. Being that we were 11 years apart in age and coming from complete opposites ends of the spectrum compounded things further. We couldn’t afford not to have certain difficult conversations that couples usually wait years for.. We truly found our best friend in life and the answer to our prayers in a very unlikely place in time and space.. Just three months later, Jim proposed. At six, we discovered we were pregnant! Knowing that the only choice for us was to keep this tiny miracle, we changed course. After all, we never expected life would bring us one another and who were we to decide the order in which these gifts should come? A decade later, we stand united as a family of five, strong, beautiful, brave, creative, unique, good people. Still mourning the loss of a mother, we take in the span of our lives together so far; mending and selling of two homes and sharing a third with a disabled parent and all the nuances that brings, injuries, childbirths, child losses, illness and other ups and downs of life, two loving surrogacies and other struggles and joys. We are so humbled and appreciative for what we have and those that stand with us on this unpredictable journey.