Sometimes it works

Truth? I've not yet met a cookbook that can compel me to reach for it often. It's not that I don't like the recipes I find in the books I own. It's that I don't like them enough to overcome the laziness. Yes, laziness. I just can't be bothered digging out the books, locating the right recipe and following along step by step.

Don't get me wrong. I will cook from a recipe. I love my subscription to Cooking Light. In fact, I've sitting here ear-marking recipes I want to attempt for Christmas breakfast and dinner. I just don't like to use recipes on a regular basis. Too much work in it for me. Instead I fall back on dishes I've gotten memorized - memorized to the point I also end up skipping formal measuring cups and spoons. Its all eyeball.

I don't bake like this. No, breads, cookies, cakes, pies - all of that stuff is a science. Meals however are an art.

Sometimes I get bored of my old standbys and so I experiment. I stare at what's in the cabinet and start to pull things I think might go nicely together. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. I've at least yet to make anything inedible.

Tonight, I'll have you know, it not only worked, it worked very, very well.

Logan is a picky eater. Our only rule at dinner is he has to sit at the table when we do and he must at least try what we offer him. If he's not willing to eat it after that he gets a choice or two from a list of things that don't require me to cook a second meal. More often than not, that's what he ends up with.

Seafood - never touches his lips. Veggies - he'll eat peas and carrots, not much else. Pasta - we're good with but only if it's not heavy with sauce.

Yet tonight, he pushed back from the nevers and devoured dinner. Yeah, tonight my experimental cooking worked well.

I had planned on making spaghetti with shrimp and pesto sauce. Yet I was out of everything I needed to make pesto - something I didn't realize until I had water boiling and shrimp pinking up in the skillet.

I didn't panic. This is par for the course.

I poured some OJ over my shrimp. It started to bubble. I wondered what else might work with this combination. I located the box of Lipton Vegetable soup/dip mix that I forget to use to make spinach dip the last time we entertained. Maybe. Well the box does say "Pasta Primavera." Ok, what the hell. In went the dip.

I removed the shrimp to keep it from getting too tough. I let the juice and soup mix combo simmer. Pasta in to cook. I poured the sauce back over the shrimp and let Logan stir it up. We added in the pasta.

It was fantastic.

I've been asked to make it again - not just by my husband who is now used to my methods and madness - but by my picky eater.

Yup, it worked out nicely.

The grand experiment

A several years ago I subscribed to Martha Stuart Living. With my first subscription I recieved a cookie press. It's sat in a box in the cabinet over the fridge since then. It's not that I have a thing against cookie presses. It's that I can't reach anything over the fridge easily enough to motivate me to attempt such a feat. When the cookie press found a home up there it entered the black hole of my kitchen.

I put Meg down for her nap and was greeted by a chipper young man announcing he had a great idea.

"I know! Let's make cookies!" he said, still trying to work his away around the roadblock I threw him when he wanted a cookie to eat - simply, we don't have any in the house.

I asked him what kind he wanted to make. He threw out some ideas:

Vanilla? - "You mean sugar cookies?" I said. "That dough needs to rest overnight we couldn't make them until you got home from school tomorrow if we made that dough and besides we don't have all the ingredients."

Chocolate chip! - "Honey, we need to go food shopping remember. I don't have chips."

Peanut butter?! - I almost gave in on that one. Yes, I love a good peanut butter cookie. My challenge? Megan loves to nibble at the cookies Logan bakes. And at one year old, she's still on the parental imposed peanut ban. I wasn't sure I wanted to lay the temptation before her when we were short so many other options in the house.

I pulled up FoodTV's web site to hunt for some ideas. I found the cookie press receipe. Cookie Press. Hmmm, I have one of those, maybe, I think, hidden somewhere.

I found it.

And now we will attempt it. The directions to work this contraption don't seem as easy now that I really want to use it. I'm fearing one of those messes you get when you try to push Play-Dough though a cheap generic dough squishing toy.

Wish us luck.


5 Lessons of Digital Cable

When it comes to broadcast innovations, my household is behind the times. Our screen is neither flat, nor Hi-Def. Our feed is just plain old boring cable. We don't Tivo or DVR - I've got a VCR and a DVD player. We considered digital cable when we converted to the cable modem from standard phone line access. We decided we didn't watch enough television to make it worth the extra money each month.

My sisters-in-law, however, are both caught up with the technical revolution. I spent a weekend privy to a peak at the 'new age.' A test drive, if you will, that taught me a few important lessons:

1. It is entirely possible to have over 1000 channels to click through and STILL have nothing to watch.

2. "What Not To Wear" is not more thrilling in Hi-Def than in plain old vanilla. The only perk if having access to both flavors of TLC is not having to flip back through a few hundred channels to find the program once you've gotten the happy clicker finger moving.

3. Having access to a handful each of HBOs, Showtimes and other premium channels still did not entice Bruce, nor I, to pay the extra money each month just for one of each premium channel. I am likely the only person in America who has still not watched an episode of the Sopranos, Sex in the City and Six Feet Under. I am so very deprived, yet too ignorant to care.

4. Fancy digital cable means having a clicker that confuses even me....yet not my 1 year old.

5. Utilizing the perk of "Kids on Demand" channel, I learned that the programs I adored as a child were violent and snotty. I excitedly selected the Smurfs for my 3 year old to watch in one of those "Here, let's find something on TV so you'll actually sit still for more than 10 seconds!" moments. Seriously, it's the Smurfs. When I was a kid, that was quality cartoon-programming. Yet, watching it now, it's one of those shows I'd not put on in favor of the "less smurf hunting, limited name-calling" options of Clifford the Big Red Dog and Dora the Explorer.

"Why is that guy trying to eat the Smurf?" Logan asked as he stared at Gargamel and Ariel the cat with disgust.

I shared my epiphany with Bruce.

"Maybe we should just scar him for life with a good episode of Bugs Bunny?" he offered.

Point taken.

Since entering preschool, my child has been asking to watch Spongebob. Nope. He protests. I tell him that I don't like the show. I tell him I don't think it's appropriate for a three-year old. I don't tell him Mommy watched Tom try to bash Jerry. How did I survive watching the Roadrunner have anvils thrown at his head?


My own River Jordan

As referenced in the post that now follows this one, we have the Little People Nativity set. It was something Logan got as a gift three years ago. We put it up as our only Nativity the previous two years and Logan played with it relentlessly. I pulled the pieces out of the toy box where it's been buried under a lot of other ignored items since January.

I handed Logan the edifice first. "Stable" he said and tossed it down waiting for the next piece.

I handed him what he assumed was a Shepard - at least he was no longer calling Joseph Moses. I corrected him and handed him a cow and a camel. I dug out one wiseman.

Logan added Sarah from Megan's amusement park set. We found a sheep from the farm and another Sarah dressed in a pink bunny suit. I headed to the toy chest in Logan's room. In it we found another wise man and Mary. A mad search and some upturning of other items in various rooms produced the fair-haired angel.

We found everything BUT the one thing that actually made this the Nativity -- the Baby Jesus.

I turned more stuff over. I looked in all the places I had looked in previously. I told Bruce that we were going to Hell. Baby Jesus was MIA.

"I remember seeing him somewhere," he said without worry. He thought a moment and then said "Did you check the bathroom?"

"The bathroom?" I said with as much disbelief and sarcasm as I could muster with two kids pulling on my leg.

"Seriously, I think I remember him being used as a bath toy after last Christmas," he replied without taking his eyes off his football game.

"What? Were y'all performing baptisms or something?" I asked him. He just laughed told me to look in that linen closet next to the tub where I'd been shoving the toys that threatened to take over our bathroom.

And there he was - in all his Little People glory - the Baby in the manger hiding in my linen closet.

The only thing missing now is the last wiseman, and no, apparently he wasn't baptized yet.

Fa la la la

Being the weekend following Thanksgiving, it is, as family tradition would have it, time to start pulling out all the Christmas decorations. I started with the intent of putting up one or two things and it's ended up with most everything in our collection short of the tree itself.

Logan was all about Christmas a year ago, but being merely 2 at the time, he's been unable to retain memory of most of it. He's still arguing with me, hours later, about whether or it was him that made the little clothes pin reindeer last year. (He says no, by the way. He's wrong.)

I always loved decorating as a kid and that's not something I've outgrown. I love decking the halls and that goes with it. This year, with a three year old under foot to help, I've enjoyed it even more if for no other reason his questions and interest are humoring me.

Having said three year old AND a one year old around, however, have also caused me to utter phrases I never thought I'd hear myself say. For example, when pulling out the Little People nativity set this afternoon, I had to break up a sibling battle that included me saying rather loudly, "Logan! You have to share the Baby Jesus! Baby Jesus is for everyone!"

Decorating has also meant taking risk. I opted to go ahead and put out the breakable (what am I thinking?!) nativity set this season. It sits up on our bay window shelf that Megan can't reach...but Logan can. I decided he's old enough and has enough maturity/self-control to not torment the breakables if told to leave it alone. I let him hold the small set of people in his palm hoping that if it wasn't totally off limits it'd loose any attraction. He stared at it, studying it carefully. Running a little finger over the figures as he cupped it gently in the other hand. I asked him if he knew who those people were. He nodded.

"Mary," he said tapping the kneeling woman on the head. I nodded yes.

"Baby Jesus," he said as he stroked the infant laying in hay. Yes, yes, I nodded.

"And Moses," he finished up as he poked at Joseph.

Hmmm, well at least I know he's being paying attention to this autumn's lessons in Sunday School, sort of.


A little pre-thanks

We leave in two days. The trip will take over six hours that will feel like six days if her highness holds true to car-seat hating form. The visit will last five-ish days, which will feel like...oh never mind.

Perhaps I'll get time to blog. Perhaps I won't. Tomorrow night I expect to come home from work and pack clothes for three - Bruce can handle his own bag thankfully. Wednesday morning we'll load up the car with suitcases, booster seats, strollers, various kid items, toys and family. We'll hope the few hand-held games and magnadoodles entertain the imps long enough to stave off the screeches of "Out! Want out!" that I expect will comingle with the whine "Are we there?! Are we now? I want to get out!" (Or even worse, the last time we had Logan in the car for a stretch of time he announced that he no longer liked Daddy about 2 and half hours into the three hour ride because it was Daddy that was driving the car.)

Since I don't know if I'll get to express my thankfulness on Thanksgiving, I figure I ought to do it now. Of course I'm thankful for the things you'd expect - my family, my friends, our health and so on. Who wouldn't be. Those things are a given. I think at this time of year, as important as it is to be thankful for the easy stuff, we ought to dig deeper and tap into gratitude we hadn't realized we had.

So here goes in no particular order. I am thankful for:

1. My children's strong will - when I'm the one running head first into the stone wall that can be either of my children, it's hard to see this for the gift that it is. I want my children to be strong adults that stand for what they believe in and so I am thankful they seem headed in that direction.

2. Megan's independence - one of her most favorite new phrases is "I do!" A fourteen month old can't do nearly as much as she thinks she can, but it doesn't stop her from trying. And that, let's be honest, can try one's nerves. However, I am thankful that she's in possession of this independent streak. It will serve her well someday.

3. Logan's curiosity - the endless stream of questions can become overbearing if not impossible to keep up with. As humans, however, it's curiosity that drives us forward to learn and to grow. I am thankful that his thirst for understanding and knowledge continue to drive him forward.

4. The bad/tough times - one of the first things they taught us in my very first quilting class was how to mix light and dark fabrics when creating quilts. The general rule of thumb (although not always followed) is to select three colors for a basic quilt - one white/cream, one light and one dark. The instructor tied those fabrics to life by saying, ". . .if there was no dark, the light wouldn't shine nearly as bright. If we never struggled, we wouldn't realize how good the good times were."

5. Those that take on jobs I could never do - from our soldiers to our public servants and everything else I couldn't or wouldn't do. It could be teaching children or researching cures. These are the people that make the world a better place. Like the individuals or not, you have to admit they're pretty awesome for taking on these tasks with the goal of building a better tomorrow.

6. The guy I make fun of for putting out his Christmas decorations in mid-November - he has provided my children with several nights worth of glee. Meg may not *know* what Santa is about, but she loves him anyway, and heck, I think Logan just likes getting to go for walks at night.

7. To the snotty man that laid me off a job and half ago (don't ask about the half) -if it weren't for him I'd not be where I am today. I don't know many places that would have let me quit a full-time position in order to hire me back as a part-time consultant just so I could have the best of both worlds.

8. For the one that never called me - if he had, I might not have asked a particular man to go to a certain wedding with me and well, the rest is history.


Photo Challenge

I am addicted to my camera. Anyone with regular invites to our online photo-album knows that I take more photos than one has a right to be taking. There are some that think this habit of mine started when we had kids.

Not true.

I have more photos of my Siberian husky in the snow, autumn leaves, flowers, various landscapes and so on than you can imagine. Vacations? I need a roll per day. I am truly a candidate for a digital camera. I've been holding out until we can afford a digital SLR. Today at the movies we watched an ad for one such camera. Bruce leaned over and "Next you'll be wanting one of those huh?"

I whispered back "It'd sure be cheaper?" It took him a minute to realize I was speaking about film and development costs for my addiction.

All that, just to say it seemed natural to play along when Carmi issued a challenge of sorts (maybe "encouragement" is more appropriate?) to
"Please walk through a neighborhood - your own or a new one - with a camera and post an image to your blog. Feel free to share in words what you were thinking as you took the shot."

This is a photo I took when we brought the kids to see the lighthouse last weekend. We were walking together on the long spanse of beach when I saw the surf breaking over a smattering of rocks beaten smooth by the pulsing tides.

I grew up at the shore. My childhood home and now my children's childhood home is about 2 hours from the lighthouse/beach in this photo. Yet this beach is not all that different than the one we frequent quite often - the one that is less than 5 miles from our house.

Certainly one's childhood home does not always resonate. Some can't wait to escape theirs. For me, though, it's very comfortably and completely home. When I saw the water rolling over the rocks last week I had to take the photo. It just called to me on so many levels.

I remember the first time I was laid off. It sucked. I was heartbroken and steeped in self-pity. Everyone in my little world had headed off to work and I was left alone, unemployed and bummed. My car seemed to just know where to go - to the beach. The particular beach I stopped at was dotted with jetties. I climbed up on one of the huge rocks and walked out far enough to be surrounded on three sides by water.

It was the first time it really sank in - the power the ocean had over me. I closed my eyes and I suddenly felt so connected. Not just to the water, but to the God that sometimes seemed a bit abstract to me when I sat in church. Here, surrounded by this awesome raw power that could give life and take life, I felt at peace. I felt whole. I felt connected to the One that created it. That peace stayed with me when I left that beach.

Last week I watched the surf roll in and out over those rocks a few times. I bent down and retrieved a few of the nicer stones for my son's growing rock collection. I held one of those stones in my hand, rubbing a finger over it's smooth surface still glossy with salt water. I started to feel a bit introspective, even, dare I saw, a bit philosophical. This water was like life. Those rocks were like us. The surf could beat the living daylights out of those rocks - pounding it, brutalizing it, wearing it down. But, and it's a big but, at the end of the day, those rocks were beautiful. These once simple, unimpressive stones shone with a unique beauty when the pounding was done.

The rocks in the photo are at various stages of life. Some are still rather insignificant and unassuming. Others are starting to glean in the sunlight. Then there are those, perhaps not quite done justice in this image, that make a young rock collector want to grab them up as a prize - simple, pure, delightful beauty.


No show for me!

So big bossman finally made a partial decision on who has to/gets to go to this show in two weeks. Basically it's this. My sort-of-kinda-but-not-really boss is going down on Tuesday but must leave on Wednesday. *IF* I want to I can go down Wednesday afternoon and stay through Thursday to take her place. But, I don't have to.

And since going means I miss my friend I've not seen in ages and it means my kids miss a birthday lunch with their good pal and since it means Grandma misses a meeting with her new boss for the part-time freelance work she's picked up...I'm not going.

In other late afternoon stories - I had some work to do on this show. The co-worker that was inputting registration information for the folks that are going was having trouble locating the right registration page. I helped her and offered to do half her list for her while we worked through the first form together. I get paid for the hours I put in so the stuff like this is worth it for the extra cash. Logan was getting worked up. He wanted to play a game. He wanted my attention. I let him up on my lap.

I pulled up my next registration form. "Logan, here, you type what I tell you." I started to feed him letters. He filled out three of the four forms I had volunteered to take on.

When we were done, I said foolishly "You know what happens when you work, don't you?"

"You get paid!" he screeched with glee. I asked him what his rate was.

"I get $20," he said. Geez, that kid makes more per hour than I do. I offered him a quarter.

"How about a quarter and a penny," he bargained.

The office is still IM'ing me. The other person doing the registrations can't confirm they were processed. I may do them later. Logan has come to the office/playroom/porch door and is yelling at me.

"MOM! Clifford is on, so you should come to watch and I need my money! Don't forget to pay me."

Overhead in my house

Just moments ago, as I procrastinated checking my work email by blogging, my 14-month old slid her way down the single step into the office/sunroom/playroom. She's still clad in her footy-pajamas and the corduroy jacket she's been insisting on the last few days. She padded over to the bookshelf we keep art supplies and toys on. She rifled through.


"Oh no," says the little sprite in a soft voice.

I turn my head to find her seated on the floor putting pre-cut foam stickers back into their bucket one at a time. It's as if she hopes I won't notice if she can get them back in there. Of course, she'd be making more progress with her clean up if she didn't stop to examine each one carefully and try to pull back the white paper covering the sticky side before putting in the bucket. And of course, removing each piece to check it out a second time isn't helping matters either.

She caught me watching her. She smiled as she held a foam sticker shaped like a dump truck.

"Mess," she said and returned to her clean-up.

Well, at least she's honest.

Why it's home

I grew up at the shore. As a "local" I developed a general apathy to the beach during the summer months. Too crowded. Too hot. Not enough room to enjoy the space with all those bodies stuffed into swimsuits too small for them. The week after Labor Day through the week before Memorial Day became "my" beach time. It didn't need to be warm enough to go in the Atlantic - just comfortable enough to run and dig and laugh as I breathed in deep to let the salty sea air fill my lungs.

As a mother, I don't feel much differently. We head over a few times during the summer to take the kids on the rides at one of the boardwalks. We drive into the beach at the state park to let them fill up buckets of watery sand as the waves roll in. But for the most part, we still tend to be "off-season" beach goers.

And maybe a glimpse of what it's like will help you understand why:


Mars and Venus - the preschool years

Out of almost no where, Logan said softly, "I think A is mad at me."

I looked at him and rubbed his little red head. The little girl he was talking about is in his class and one of two kids he's attached himself to. I asked him why he thought she was mad.

"I told her she was my girlfriend and she said she wasn't." He sniffed a little.

"Sweetheart," I said before I remembered we weren't to call him that anymore. "What if you just say she's your friend?" I resist the urge to say "You're three, kid, no girlfriends yet."

That wasn't good enough for him, had to be girlfriend. I asked him what did he think 'girlfriend' meant.

"Well," he said slowly. "She's a girl and she's my friend, so she's a girlfriend."

"Ok, but couldn't you just tell her she's your friend and leave it at that?" I asked him.

"But she's a girl," said my little Mars.


Bullet Point Kind of Day

- There is still a chance I'll get to meet up with my dear old friend. The big boss, apparently, has not decided who is actually going to this shin-dig in DC the end of this month. That means I may not have to go. I know bossman. My chances of skipping the event are fairly good. We've got a dozen employees in the Metro DC area. They won't require hotel rooms. I don't expect he has the inclination to book many hotel rooms.

- My daughter went 9 full months without sprouting a single tooth. She's now 14 months old. A full 5 months have passed since her first and only two teeth arrived. Today the little tiny pointy edge of her third tooth poked through. We're putting a hold on the toddler dentures.

- Said daughter, always a chatterbox in some form, is starting to use two word phrases. Happily she's another Elmo devotee that has avoided picking up his distaste for common pronouns. Her latest verbal accomplishments (all used at appropriate moments): "Oh no!", "I know", "I do!" and "Wan dat!" (The last phrase being "want that!") She is also asking for help ("hep!"), trying hard to say thank you ("tangoo") and generally bossing us all around with phrases like "Tajah door" ("Tasha is at the door! Go let her in!") The biggest word grouping thus far came last night in pure frustration. She appeared in the doorway to our living room holding her Cabbage Patch Kid by its hair. She was teary eyed and clearly frustrated. She held the doll out to me and said "Mama. Hep doll. Mama. doler." I took that to mean "Mommy help put my doll in the stroller." So I did. And she happily trotted off pushing her baby around the house.

- We've taken a lazy approach to teaching the 3-year old time. He's learned that bath time starts roughly around 7pm. He knows he's out of the tub at 7:30 and that when the clock says "eight-oh-oh" he's supposed to be lights out. (He's also begun to understand the whole "Little hand-big hand" on his new alarm clock.) When he's balking about getting dressed in the morning we give him a time we're aiming for. "Logan, when the clock says 8:00, it's time to get dressed for school." He dutifully keeps an eye on the clock.

This morning as I walked out the door for work, I gave him such a directive. Not too much later, Grandma, not realizing Logan was all about "exact" time when given his deadlines, saw it was 7:53. "Logan, time to get ready," she said.

He glanced at the clock before speaking. "No Grandma. Mommy said eight-oh-oh," he informed her. "I still have seven minutes."

Grandma called me after dropping him off at preschool. "Did you know he could subtract minutes from his deadline?" she asked before telling me the story.

"What are you talking about? No," I replied.

Really, I should stop being shocked by him.


So bummed

I have not had to attend a trade show or otherwise travel for business in over 4 years. FOUR. YEARS. Today my sort-of-kinda-maybe-one-day-if-they-go-on-and-promote-her-boss-but-for-now-just-a-peer wants me at the event we're exhibiting at the end of this month. She asked me again today if I could do it. I checked with Bruce's travel schedule. He has another overseas trip that week, but he leaves on Saturday. I'd be home by Thursday. I checked with my mom to see if she could watch the kids during the days when I was gone. She could. No out. Ok, fine. I'll go. Great!

Tonight I flip on my PC. I pull up my email. First message waiting for me in my inbox is from my best friend - as in the one I've known for the last 27 years. She moved to New England about 4 years ago. She has a beautiful 2 year old daughter I've never met. She hasn't seen my three year old since he was 8 weeks old. She's never met my 1 year old. This wasn't a total surprise. We maintain our friendship via email. Long, long written correspondence sent off when we have a moment to sit and think. I had sent off mail last and so seeing a reply from her in the inbox wasn't a shock.

She shared a lot of family news. Replied to some of the items I had shared with her. And then she told me about how her family would be in my area and had some free time. We could actually get together in person. Really, seriously get to spend time together and let our kids play. I was so excited! And then I read the date.

December 1st.

December 1st being the last day of my trade show. The day I must work a show floor from 10 to 4pm and then breakdown the booth, pack it all up and drive the 5+ hour drive home.

It's the only day she has. She's only down here for a quick overnight. They leave for home around 5pm that day.

I am so bummed.


Thanks for the memories

It used to be, when November rolled around, that my front door sported a nice, tastful wreath with those "almost look real" silk autumn colored leaves. Today I've got two different Thanksgiving themed decorations hanging - both of the some foam craft kit product, glued together by a three-year old. As I taped up the brightly colored scarecrow, I started to think of my own history of Thanksgiving. The very ritual of the holiday melds each one together over the years, although there are a few that stand-out in my mind.

When I was young (as in grade school young) we used to trek to my Grandmother and Uncle's apartment for Thanksgiving. Nanny was the type of cook that only did one recipe well - and friends, turkey was not it. It wasn't until she and my uncle moved out of the apartment that I discovered I enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner components. Their move relocated the dinner to our house. My mom, she's a good cook. One year, my grandmother woke up late. She forgot she had a bird to roast. She was determined to get dinner on the table on time, however, because she wasn't one that wanted her company to linger any longer than they needed to. Her plan? Well she'd just cook the bird at a higher temp for the same amount of time. Please open your imaginations now and picture the dry meat lying beside the bones of a once edible turkey as she pulled it from the oven.
Living in the castle at my college was more than just a boost to your 'status' on campus. It was a boon for your fridge! The ballroom and gallery were often host to special meeting and banquets. Food services never got back in a timely manner to pick-up the leftovers. My fellow residents and I would sneak down and lay claim to whatever was left behind before it was removed. In fact, we went a few months with fresh flowers this way. We'd just return the old vase when we picked up the new one.

Every year the week before Thanksgiving, the commuter's club would have a pot luck banquet. The only thing the club contributed was the turkey. We never thought they'd leave their stuff behind for Food Services to clean up. On a whim my roommate and I decided to check things out. We smelled gravy and stuffing. We were hungry. The Dining Hall only featured good food when parents were around, or so it seemed.

Kath was harrassing me about going in. I kept hissing at her to just hush up and sneak. Yes, I was very much the instigator. What we found was a full-out bounty. Rolls, potatoes, pies, stuffing, veggies. . .you name it, it was left out there for us. We started filling plates with left-overs. We found a box of tin foil and began wrapping with glee. I came across a giant covered roasting pan.

"No way," said K, shaking her head. "You're nuts. There is no way."

She couldn't see what I saw when I first lifted the lid. I started to laugh. She snapped at me to be quiet unless I felt like telling her what was so funny.

"Kath," I said, using her name as a way to squelsh my giggles. I moved the lid so it was no longer in her way. "There is an entire friggin' turkey in here."

She collapsed into laughter. She sat crossed-legged on the floor holding her sides. I, on the other hand, began to carve. That week, before leaving for our short holiday break, well the eating was good.
When we were married about a year, my husband's aunt sold her shop and home (which was above said shop). She had decided to move permanently into her vacation home. She had no children of her own. She had two nephews and two neices...and their array of spouses and children. The gaggle of us (minus one of her nephews and his wife) begrudingly headed to her now former residence to help her move.

She didn't have room in the apartment portion of the building to serve dinner to us all. Instead she'd serve us in the store - the back of her convenience store/deli at an oversized wooden picnic table. We worked on packing and organizing most of Thanksgiving Day. In the process, the turkey was overcooked, no gravy was made, the potatoes were forgotten and the stuffing got burnt. The only good thing to eat was the fancy bread one of the teenagers had brought from work.

On top of that, we were dirty. We were sweaty and slightly dishelved. The store was to be closed, but there was never a sale Auntie passed up. When someone would call to see if was open because "Darn I forgot to buy the bread to make stuffing!" she'd cheerily agree to open the door, "just for you!" Those people would come in and stare at us in the corner. They'd throw us a look and then smile at her as if to say "You kind old woman taking in these poor people and feeding them on the holiday."

If they only knew her. . .


Hot lava

First let's get one thing out of the way. I am an idiot.

Now, now. Don't be kind and refute that point. It's true. It is. I went to spin class today. Why you ask? I have no clue why. I considered calling the gym and telling them to release my seat. I did not make such a call. Instead I hurriedly located my sneakers and grubby clothes and headed over thinking that maybe riding today would stretch out the knee.

I think it actually did - stretch out the knee that is. However, I still can't walk down stairs without wincing and now my calves are sore.

But that's all besides the point. . .

As has become our custom, the little guy goes with me each Saturday. He doesn't need to. My husband is home to play with him. My daughter stays home. They could all, you know, bond or something. He, however, this child that used to scream like we were yanking his fingernails off with tweezers if we dared leave him, he loves all sorts of child care now. He'll happily tot off to the gym's room as if we're handing him a dream vacation. He begs to go. He brings a snack and a water bottle then tells us all about how tired he is from excercising.

On our ride over this morning, Logan does something that is not uncommon for him to do. He started to ruminate on some out-of-the-blue topic that makes you pause and wonder what got him going on such a thing.

"Volcanos are only on islands," he informed me after sitting quietly in the middle row of our van for about a mile.

"What?" I asked. I am really such an eloquent parent at times. He repeated himself and I had to actually pause another minute to figure out if Mt. Saint Helen's was land-locked or not. I informed him that *some* islands are sleepy volcanos, but not all volcanos are islands.

"Can I go see one?" he said. I could see those little wheels turning. You come to anticipate it after a while. He got a far-off look as he calcuated what he'll toss into the raging inferno. I started to reply - no, we will not go see a volcano anytime soon although Mommy really would be quite happy to make a trip to Hawaii.

"Where is the volcano in New Jersey?" he asked.

"We don't have one honey," and before I could say more, he interrupted me.

"Yes we do. We have toy ones."

"Ok, that is true, I suppose," I replied trying to formulate the most tactful way to handle this. "Sweetheart those are toys though, not, you know, real volcanos."

"Oh Mommy!" For a three-year old he has perfected that "Geez, Ma, you're a dork!" tone of voice. "I'd really only want a toy volcano. If I had a real one I might get lava on me and then I'd be hot."



I'm fully aware that I am not in the greatest of shape. There are some spare pounds I've managed to locate over the years, pounds I'd rather see get lost. I get to the gym once a week lately, which isn't enough to do much of anything. However, that has little to do with the ache in my knee tonight. Or at least it is not the ONLY reason my knee aches tonight.

We had a great day. We left the house around Meg's nap time. Drove two hours south to the tip of New Jersey - stopping only when we reached our destination. The lighthouse.

Last year, when Megan arrived, we started searching out ways to spend some one on one quality time with Logan. Bruce took him to a lighthouse. He loved it. So Bruce took him again. And then they went to another. And now, Logan is a lighthouse junky -- just like his dad. When he had the chance to offer a suggestion of how we'd spend his father's vacation day the only thing he came up with a trip to his first lighthouse. So we offered another suggestion - a trip to a different one. He loved it.

Of course this time his sister and I were invited. Anyone with an active toddler knows, you don't easily watch a big brother begin his ascent of a staircase without tagging along. No, there is no entertaining her by letting her loiter around the base of the great behemouth. She won't be content hobbling around in her winter coat fighting to keep her arms down even though the fluff the jacket makes the task impossible. Up the lighthouse she must go.

Megan, however, has not quite mastered the staircase. Yes, she can climb stairs. She crawls up them. Hands on a step as her knees scramble up another. Over and over. It's a slow, deliberate process. Not one conducive to 200 winding steps. Surely the preschooler could do it. Yet if he got half-way up and gave up, well let's be honest, carrying 23 pounds up the lighthouse was the more attractive option. So I did.

Bruce stayed behind Logan moving section by section at a time. They'd stop at each turn out and admire all they saw out the window. (I could hear the three-year voice of my child echo though the brick cylinder. "Wow, look at this view!") I started out faster than I meant to. I stopped a few times, but I found it easier to push upward and onward. When we got out at the top on the exterior walkway, I found myself thinking, "Well that wasn't so bad."

And it hadn't been really. It had been a work-out but it had been good. Megan wandered around the caged in balcony giggling and posing for pictures. Logan and Daddy appeared. They were going to take their time again. I started thinking about how the hell I was going to get down.

Very briefly I entertained the notion of switching places. Heck, the kid and walked all the way up on his own. That HAD to be the better deal! But down is different. Down is always different. Instead I started out before the boys were ready. We'd go slow. Except we got caught with a bunch of other walkers that weren't going to move as slowly. I toyed pausing at a turn-out to let them pass, but Megan was getting wiggely. She wanted down. My only choice was to move as quickly as I could before she wiggled herself free.




And then I remembered my years as a tennis player. My years that once sent me to the orthopedic and left me playing in a neophene knee-brace popping Ibruprophen. My left knee and I don't always get along. I remembered, about half-way down, that going down (hills or stairs), and even more so, going down with added weight, was more apt to set off my knee than most anything else.

We eased our way out of the lighthouse. The pain stopped. We played on the grass outside while we waited for them to emerge. Our guys were taking their time. Megan heard Logan before I did. She started to laugh and run back to the entry steps. I stopped her just as we saw them coming out - Dad was carrying the kid. I grinned. I made the right choice.

But then we started walking back to the car. The little emperor wanted to go on the beach. The princess didn't want to budge. I picked her up to carry her and it hit me. Or more accurately, it hit my knee. Crap.

As long as I wasn't doing stairs - or at least leading with my left down the step - and I wasn't carrying a child, I was fine. It wasn't debilitating bad. It was just annoying. We rode home and my leg started to calm. Sure, it still aches if I do the wrong thing, but it's not like it was. More importantly, it's not like the time I decided to take up jogging in college. Let's just say, I once worked an Open House on campus as a student volunteer while on crutches.

We also made the mistake of not packing lunch. It was 2pm when we left the Cape. We stopped at the first reststop we found. Our only choice was a Roy Rogers and the older woman that waited on us had as many teeth as Meg. (For those not keeping score of the little one's mouth, she's still hanging at 2 teeth. Two well-brushed, little lower center teeth.) Yet, despite the knee and despite the lunch experience, we had a tremendously wonderful time.

When I had children, I set a few fairly big goals for Bruce and I as parents. Our children would be loved unconditionally. They would be encouraged to pursue their interests and supported as they strove for their dreams. More importantly though, I wanted to make sure we peppered their childhood with little moments they'd cherish and remember always. At the time I had thought of things like holiday rituals and grand moments. Now that we're pretty much into the thick of it, I realize that it is not those things - or at least *just* those things. It is the little things.

At age 1 and 3, I'm not sure either child will remember the details of today. At least not without the roll worth of film I shot. They may not remember my knee or the toothless lady. They likely didn't even notice. They may not remember being carried down the stairs or even running after the seagulls. They will, however, remember that we took time as a family to just be. We took time to go to the places that weren't anything overly spectacular or amazing or expensive. We went for walks in parks. We dug our toes in the sand near our home. We walked up some stairs. We just enjoyed on another.

As I sit and ramble on about our day, it occurs to me that this very memory is the best gift we can give them, isn't it.


More years

Last night, when my head hit the pillow I had accounted for something that stood out in my memory from each year of my life. I had written up something from 1973 through 2005. I went to edit a grogglily made mistake - something done foolishly with a toddler on my lap. Poof! Gone. Meg hit the space bar just as I hit post. Gone. I was able to retrieve half of my old post. And so now I attempt to recreate:

May 23, 1973 - Birth. Now really, can there be a bigger event in one's life?

1974 - I don't recall much obviously, but surely it was a year peppered with milestone achievement.

1975 - I got a dog for my birthday. For a small puppy, Heidi could knock little me over. When I bought my first pet as an adult, I pinned all my expectations of dog ownship on the border collie I grew up with.

1976 - I remember living in a duplex. We lived on the left side of the mustard yellow edifice. My friend Tayna lived on the right. I'd walk over to her side to play and rush home to see Casper the Friendly Ghost on our color TV - even though it was a black and white cartoon. Go figure.

1977 - I became a big sister. I actually have very clear memories of climbing into my brother's playpen to hang-out with him. I remember the joints of my big toes getting cut up by the mesh I was scaling.

1978 - I turned 5 that May. We moved from our little duplex about 10-15 miles "up the road" to the house my parents live in now. I started Kindergarden that September. I rode on the school bus next to a little girl that wore navy blue lace-up shoes. I wore black patent leather Mary Janes. We never spoke.

1979 - Blue shoes and I were in the same 1st grade class. Alphabetical seating put our desks smack dab next to each other. We didn't want to face another year of silence. She's been my best friend ever since.

1980 - I met another very dear friend of mine. We were in Brownies together. Wave to her now, she's reading my blog.

1981 - My third grade teacher stunk. Seriously. That class bored me out of my mind. About half way into the year she figured it out. To keep me entertained she had me write out all the posters and signs she hung in the classroom. As a result I can print incredibly neat when I feel like it.

1982 - I was the flowergirl in my cousins wedding. I had a huge crush on the groom. I got Beveraly Clearly's book "Sister of the Bride" out of the school library completely on the premise that it had to do with a wedding and I was all about weddings for obvious girlie-girl pink-dress and flower basket reasons. I read a few pages and then decided I didn't like it. My 4th grade teacher was mean - she looked like a witch with her white hair pulled into a tight bun. She would quiz us on our books before we were allowed to return them to the library. I couldn't answer the questions she asked me. She made me renew it and read it for real. I hated that book, but I think it had more to do with Mrs. K than Clearly.

1983 - My fifth grade teacher is easily my favorite of any teacher throughout my school career. There are songs that trigger a smile on my face as I rememeber her humming them at the front of the classroom while she danced with our principal. She made school so much fun that we all hated being home sick. Every kid ought to be blessed with a teacher like her at least once in their life. My grandmother (paternal) died at the end of this year. It was the only Christmas we spent away from home as kids. The whole family converged on her little Florida retirement home. She died a week later.

1984 - My grandfather (paternal) came to live with us while undergoing treatment for lung cancer. He eventually moved out to Seattle (my uncle's house) and passed away from brain cancer.

1985 - I entered 7th grade and joined the student newspaper. It was the first time I dabbled in journalism. It set me on a career path I didn't diverge far from.

1986 - My mother used to drive my brother to school, pick up a friend or two of mine while she was there and then shuttle the gaggle of us to the Intermediate (what they call Junior High here.) Instead of hanging out with the crowd of other early arrivers at the end of one of the main hallways, we'd hustle in to the Orchestra room. Mr B would let us have at the various instruments - something we did while generating a fair amount of mayhem. We took such advantage of that man. He was a push-over that loved teaching, and we loved him for it.

1987 - I graduted 8th grade in June and entered High School in Septmber. Over the summer I started babysitting a 9-month old boy. He's now a freshman in High School. That makes me feel old.

1988 - I joined the JV Tennis team. I sucked. The little white wrap skirt sucked. Running sprints sucked. Don't be fooled though, I had a blast.

1989 - I disliked my sophomore English teacher and frankly, the feeling was fairly mutual. Mrs M was not a fan of mine. I'm not quite sure why. In the Spring of '89, she refused to endorse my application for Junior AP English. She told me I couldn't handle it. My dislike moved to teenaged-hate. I took the final exam and earned a 98. Mrs M checked my paper while I stood at her desk waiting for the results. She shook her head in disbelief when she realized how I'd done. She checked it two more times to be sure. When I walked out of the room I cracked to my friend "And I didn't even study." In September of '89 I continued my brief tennis career. I didn't suck as bad. Still JV but this time I was half of the "first" doubles pair. We kicked ass. Still hated those skirts and sprints though.

1990 - In May of 1990 I got my driver's lisence. I nearly broke up with my High School boyfriend over a battle about my junior prom. He was a year younger. It was so not up to his mom to dictate where we went before and after the dance. But hey, I'm over that now. Yet another English teacher doubts my ability to thrive in AP English. She tells me I have the grades to qualify for the class but she's wondering if I can handle just one kind of testing. She liked to give us both essays and multiple choice. I did well on both. AP was only essays and reports. My guidance counselor thinks my teacher is nuts. She puts me in AP English and AP History.

1991 - I take my AP exams. They are graded on a score of 1 to 5. My English teacher tells us, "A 1 translates to 'did you show up to class at all this year?' A 2 means you came but must have slept a lot. A 3 means you're about average. 4 indicates you clearly know your stuff. Great job. A 5 means you should have been teaching the class." I score a 4 on my AP History test and a 5 on the English. I stop by Mrs M's room the day the results came in to tell her. Yes, I did. I graduate in June of 1991. It rained that day. The ceremony takes place in the gym where the lights make everything yellow tinted. Blue Shoes and I have a ton of photos of us looking slightly jaundice with very big hair. I start college that September.

1992 - It occures to me, as I'm starting my 2nd semester of college, that I'm 16 credits ahead of where I ought to be thanks to my AP exams. That's a full semester. I briefly entertain a double major in Print Communications and Political Science. I figure it'll help me on my way to my destiny - being the next great Woodward. I settle for early graduation and a minor in Poli Sci.I get a call over the summer from a friend of mine. She had been on a waiting list to get a room in The Castle - yes my college has a castle on campus. A real, honest-to-goodness castle. Would my current roommate and I like to share a quad with her and her roommate. Hell yes.

1993 - I'm now scheduled to graduate a full year early but the way my credits are accrued, I'm ranked as a 2nd semester Junior when we start the year. I miss the Senior classification by 4 credits. This means I don't win the housing lotto. Another friend does, however. Five of us get to live in the best housing on campus - our suite in the Castle is coveted. It made my last year unforgetable.

1994 - I graduate college 3 days before my 21st birthday. I can't even drink the champagne toast at the reception the night before. A short time later I land my first "real" job as an associate editor for a trade publication in the oil industry. Yes, it is about as exciting as it sounds.

1995 - I leave 'excitement' behind to take on my first marketing job for a small pharmaceutical division. Actually I work for it's even smaller division. I'm the maid-of-honor in a friend's wedding. She, her mother and my mother harrass me into asking the "man in the basement" at work to be my date to the wedding. He's a really nice guy, a good looking guy, that happens to be older. Like over a decade over. They wear me down (it wasn't hard, I had a crush on him anyway and I knew he had one on me. He asked me out several times even though I had a zillion excuses not to go.) I ask. He agrees. He insists he never heard his phone ring while I was down in that basement office talking to him even though he had a voicemail message when I left. I heard the phone. We start dating the month before the wedding.

1996 - I get laid off. Take a new marketing job for a technology industry - I've not left the industry yet. I'm still dating the good looking older guy. He gets me hooked on baseball and golf. (I'm still a big baseball fan. I've not touched a golf club in 4 years.) He nags me into golfing one night after work even though I'm beyond exhausted. I wrench my back 6 holes into the 9 hole course. He makes a big fuss until I agree to play just one more hole. He makes another fuss until I, very pissily I must add, get my own damn ball out of the hole even though it'd be much more comfortable for my back to have someone else bend over and get it. I start to complain about how some idiot has left a box in the hole. He grins sheepishly as he's down on one knee. I open the box. I stop complaining. I call my mom from a payphone at the beach to tell her I'm now engaged. We buy ourselves a Siberian Husky as a gift to one another. We name her Tasha. She is spoiled rotten.

1997 - I marry my soulmate. It's like a rebirth. My life has not been the same since and I'd have it no other way.

1998 - We buy our house. We start thinking "family."

1999 - We realize we're not getting anywhere fast on the baby quest. We talk with the doctor. We start treatments. Clomid sucks.

2000 - Give up on Clomid. We go to the specialist. We attempt IVF. It fails miserably. We give up completely, sell stock options and head for a dream trip to French Polynesia. 10 days of tropical heaven -- Tahiti, Bora Bora, Moorea. To this day, the smell of coconut can whisk me back there.

2001 - Terror reigns in NYC. Buildings fall. Our lives carry the scar of knowing the skyline will always look forgein to us now. A few months later I head into Philadelphia for a fitting of a bridesmaid dress for a former college roommate's wedding. Two days later I take a home pregnancy test. I don't believe the double lines are true. I take four more tests. They can't all lie, can they?

2002 - My son is born on June 30th. I never knew someone so tiny and helpless can teach a person so much. He's changed my life in ways I've yet to even discover. I adore him. When he's 3 months old, I reach out to my boss to talk about how I'm returning to my job. My boss is demoted. I finally get to talk to the new boss. He's willing to take a chance. I quit my job and return as a freelance marketing consultant working 12 hours a week. It occurs to me that perhaps not having a child when we first wanted, leaving two failing companies and being laid off for the 2nd time might have all been for the best. I've lucked into a gift situation.

2003 - I add one extra day to my "in the office" schedule. I work two days a week. It's not often easy to juggle, but it's worth it. We start talking about trying for a second child.

2004 - My daughter is born on September 12th. From her first breath she's an absolute firecracker. She's a constant light and ball of energy in our world.

2005 - At 3 years and 1 year old, my children have reached the age where a real sibling bond is forming. This morning (before deleting an entire blog post for me), my daughter sat on her brother's bed bear hugging him and kissing him until he finally managed to squeak out "Meggie stop!" between his fit of giggles. The break lasted all of 30 seconds. At that point he looked at her, toussled her curls and said "I love you, silly baby sister." I'm not sure she understood all that, but she understood enough. She knocked him over again and bear hugged him.


By the years

The recent 24 hour meme Blonde Girl did and That Girl's postings on particular years/ages got my brain moving. I fell asleep the other night trying to identify at least one particular 'big' moment or at least coherent memory from each year of my life. It was actually easier than I had expected it to be - for the most part anyway. And in a way, it was rather gratifying. Taking the time to really plot out big moments in what starts to feel like a mudane existance forces you to see that even ordinary can be extraordinary. Shall I bore you some?

May 23, 1973 - Birth. Now really, can there be a bigger event in one's life?

1974 - I don't recall much obviously, but surely it was a year peppered with milestone achievement.

1975 - I got a dog for my birthday. For a small puppy, Heidi could knock little me over. When I bought my first pet as an adult, I pinned all my expectations of dog ownship on the border collie I grew up with.

1976 - I remember living in a duplex. We lived on the left side of the mustard yellow edifice. My friend Tayna lived on the right. I'd walk over to her side to play and rush home to see Casper the Friendly Ghost on our color TV - even though it was a black and white cartoon. Go figure.

1977 - I became a big sister. I actually have very clear memories of climbing into my brother's playpen to hang-out with him. I remember the joints of my big toes getting cut up by the mesh I was scaling.

1978 - I turned 5 that May. We moved from our little duplex about 10-15 miles "up the road" to the house my parents live in now. I started Kindergarden that September. I rode on the school bus next to a little girl that wore navy blue lace-up shoes. I wore black patent leather Mary Janes. We never spoke.

1979 - Blue shoes and I were in the same 1st grade class. Alphabetical seating put our desks smack dab next to each other. We didn't want to face another year of silence. She's been my best friend ever since.

1980 - I met another very dear friend of mine. We were in Brownies together. Wave to her now, she's reading my blog.

1981 - My third grade teacher stunk. Seriously. That class%2

Ok, so this was completely done through present year when i went to bed last night. Then the I was looking through my blog roll and noticed a word or two I had mis-typed in my sleepless state last night. I went to fix it and boom, the 1-year old on my lap hit the space bar. Poof goes my entire post. Ok, I'll attempt to recover my post via bloggers 'recover post' option...it works. But only on half my post.

Sometimes it's not fun being me. I'll repost the balance later. Right now I'm being paged to play.


Rudy called. . .

It's election season again. That means everyone with an itching to see their name on the ballot is advertising. I find myself longing for Election Day just to see the ads stop. Their predictibilty begins to bore me.

What humors me, however, are the phone calls. The pre-recorded messages that struggle to sound personable. The phone rings, you answer. Slight delay. The sound of dead air. Then the voice. The pitch. And before it can be over on their terms, my click. Hang up.

Moments ago it was Rudy. As in Guliani. I think he's a pretty neat person. I'd love to sit and chat with him one day - baseball, politics, life in general. But this wasn't that chat. I even entertained myself by pretending a bit "Oh, hi Rudy! So nice of you to call. Oh yes, yes, your friend Doug. Sure, ok. Well thanks." Click. I left Rudy talking.

I wonder if they have a way to record what people say back to them. Do they know we chatted? Rudy and I? Do they know when I hung up on him that it was nothing personal?


We interrupt this blog to bring you....kids

Tonight is Logan's Novemeber sleep-over with my parents. He loves these Friday's. Every ounce of adult attention is focused completely on him. He gets to pick dinner. He gets to do a "project" of some sort with his grandfather. He sleeps in the great big queen bed with the fluffy pillows with his grandmother. He gets to lie in that bed on Saturday morning watching a few cartoons before lazily making his way to breakfast.

It also means that this is our 'just Meg' time. She seems to enjoy it. There is no competition for our attention. She can plop herself on any lap she choices with a book in hand or she can raid Logan's toy bin without looking over her shoulder. Both are truly fantastic things in the life of a little girl.

These Fridays also give me a moment or two to catch up on my thoughts. Somehow caring for one small imp is incredibly easy after chasing down two on a regular basis. Being short a child gives me at least a minute or two to think and breathe. And as I do, I'm reminded that I've fallen behind in documenting a few cute or even mile-stoney things in my children's invidiual blogs.

I've been very conscious about making sure I get a ton of photos of Megan at every stage so she has a stack of pictures as high as Logan's. I've been trying to make sure we note somewhere when she first walked, what she first said, how she liked to be tickled under her arms and down her sides. The only area we've fallen into the "forgotten 2nd child" trap is video. Our camera needs to be replaced. The only way I can tape anything is if I can plug the camera in. This means Logan's first two years span two DVDs. Megan? I think she's lucky if she's on a complete tape --shared with Logan -- at this point.

But at least I have the first Friday night of the month and at least I have blogs. I can easily jot a few notes about how she asks us "How day?" without being prompted by a better spoken individual near her asking her or another "So? How's your day?" I can track in her little space on the web how she has her favorite board book memorized - turning the page and announcing "Row, row, bow" when she locates her favorite "Row, row, row your boat." I can jot down how Logan started making up nicknames for us - I'm Mommy-doodle and no, it has nothing to do with the Doodle bops. I can make a note now how at 3 he wanted to be a doctor when he grew up.

And maybe someday I'll remember to print out all the pages in both their cyber-baby-books so they can read them at their leisure when the mood strikes them.

Until then I'll try to figure out how to make the video camera work better and how to find time to get my zillion photos into a pseudo-scrapbook and how to find time to finish the memory quilts I started. Somehow documenting their young lives for them seemed like a grand idea before I had to help guide them through those lives!


Today, as a whole, is a good day. However, I just did a few calls for a church committee I'm on which tends to be amazingly frustrating more often than not. Namely a call to one particular old couple that insists on talking to me like I'm 12. I can feel the tension from that call in my shoulders. I'm dreading the idea that I have to work with this couple Sunday morning. I'm being a brat about it. I'm looking for someone else to take my place and suffer through them instead.

To ease my tension, I pull out pictures that make me smile. And then I go search the photo's subject out to get a hug and kiss from. Always works:


Tag I'm it

Blonde Girl has gotten brave. She's created her very own meme and she wants me to play along. Ok, I'm game. (Psst, it's the first one I've gotten hit with so how can I refuse.)

Here's how it works: List each hour of the day and then a reason why that hour (anytime in the 60 minute block) is significant. If you want to play long cut and paste the basic template and then fill in your own times. If you do play along just leave a comment here and tell us where to find your list. Want to see more sample time lines? Go to BG's blog - you can sneak a peak at her's and then everyone else she tagged:

12:00 a.m. - When in the midst of sleep deprivation there is little good about middle of the night feedings. When I look back however, sitting in a chair with your child, rocking gently, humming softly, there is something intensely sweet and wonderful about a bleary-eyed stolen moment. Seriously.

1:00 a.m. - Many a relatively recent October I've stumbled into bed at 1am having watched the Yankees in the playoffs. No amount of coffee could help de-fog my head the next day but I never regretted it.

2:00 a.m. - The only college party my roommates and I actually hosted broke up around this time. We were more the "go seek and find a place to hang out" then the "finance the bash" type. We had a few mishaps with blended drinks (note: if you're going to add the kahula to the base mix, please tell everyone else first so we don't over drug our guests.)

3:00 a.m. - On June 30th, 2002 my first of two incredible little blessings entered the world. Not much can top that.

4:00 a.m. - The time my head finally hit the pillow on June 30th 2002 after just few hours of sleep during the last 38 hours.

5:00 a.m. - Megan has a knack of waking between 5 and 6 most mornings lately. Sometimes she drifts back to sleep, sometimes she does not. This morning, amazingly she yelled out once and then snoozed again.

6:00 a.m. - If I'm not too exhausted and a child is not already milling around, I tend to get up sometime during the 6 o'clock hour to have a few minutes for me. Thus this blog entry began sometime then.

7:00 a.m. - Always children up by now. It's our time to play and giggle without the pressures of rushing out the door. Which is why this didn't get posted within the 6 o'clock hour.

8:00 a.m. - It's my rushing hour. I'm flying up the Parkway to the office on Monday or Tuesday. I'm shuttling two kids out the door on Thursday to get Logan to school. I'm chasing at least one kid down with "nice church" clothes on Sunday. I'm attempting to get to Spin class on time on Saturday. I'm convincing a kid that shoes aren't evil on Friday so we can get to a meeting or playgroup. What's with 8am?!

9:00 a.m. - It started to sink in at about this time on my wedding day that I was really going to be married. It wasn't just planning any more. My hair was being curled up and twisted around. My make-up was being applied. It was actually going to happen.

10:00 a.m. - When I was in High School we started our day early. Of my four years there, I had 1st lunch three times. That meant 4th period lunch...which meant we headed to the cafeteria at 10:44am.

11:00 a.m. - Nap time for the little girl. She's migrated to one nap a day and it tends to come sometime during this hour unless she seeks it out sooner. And, being nap time, it is also one-on-one play time for Logan and I.

12:00 p.m. - Just a year ago, on 9/12/04, Megan was born. Somehow it's already hard to remember her being that tiny and helpless.

1:00 p.m. - On May 31, 1997 Bruce and I said "I do." Much picture taking would ensue. At least I think it was around 1pm. Drat, I am so bad at little details like this!

2:00 p.m. - Whether it's a good day or a bad, I tend to find myself looking at the clock sometime around now and think "Wow. It's only 2pm!" Somehow getting up at 6 makes for a long day.

3:00 p.m. - Even without kids in school and without BEING in school, the 3 o'clock hour always reminds me of the end of the school day. Our schools vary their hours here. Elementary starts at 9 and goes to 3-ish. Jr and Sr. High start at some ungodly hour and get out around 2. When I was younger 3 o'clock was always like the second start of a day. Now it means "Time to get in the house or the back yard before that annoying neighbor kid tries to join us out front."

4:00 p.m. - I honestly can't think of anything special about 4pm.

5:00 p.m. - Time to start dinner. At least if I feel energetic and inspiried enough to do so. If it's one of my work days though I'm just leaving the office and headed down the parkway for the 40 minute ride home.

6:00 p.m. - Monday and Tuesday I'm picking up the kids at my parents' house. Wed - Friday Bruce is coming home and we're sitting down to dinner together as a family before sneaking in some more play time.

7:00 p.m. - Bath time! Bed time routines start at our house. Bath. Dress. Stories. Bed. Every night. Same thing.

8:00 p.m. - The kids are in bed. Time to relax - once the dishwasher is unloaded/loaded and other bits of cleaning are taking care of.

9:00 p.m. - BK (before kids) Bruce and I had a New Year's Eve tradition. We'd go out to an early dinner - before the crowds. Then we'd go to the only non-matinee movie we'd see all year. Around this time we'd be leaving the theatre and headed home to munch on finger-picky food and debate whether it was worth staying up to watch the ball drop.

10:00 p.m. - Bed, usually. Unless it's a night I get drawn to the computer (more often than I should based on how much sleep I get lately) or discover something on TV I'd like to watch...or get wrapped tight into a book I can't put down.

11:00 p.m. - If I haven't already, I'm trotting down to bed by 11. Thunking my head down on the pillow and silently sending messages to my children that sleeping to 7am is a grand idea they should try out more often.

And that's 24 hours - spanned through my life. I don't think I'd find 24 people willing to cooperate. I'll just tag the ones I think might induldge me. Come on, you know you want to! And hey, even if I don't mention you, feel free to join in. Leave that comment here that you're doing it. Help Blonde Girl launch a tred!: Melessa, Zee, Cath, OCM, Mandy, Alyssa. I'd list a few others but I'm not sure this is the cup of tea. If I'm wrong, and I think you know who you are, then join in and share your 24!


This, that, the drive by, and the boycott

A few weeks ago I agreed to sit through an online demo of a public relations management tool. I sit and stare at a webconference while the sales rep talks at me over the phone. I got my reward in the mail on Monday -- a $50 gift card to Barnes and Noble. It's not often I get to blow $50 on myself at one of my favorite stores so I fretted over what selections to make. The only book I ended up buying was the one that we'll give Meg for Christmas. I managed to spend the rest on the Little House on the Prairie Season 1 DVD set. Now I can't wait until it arrives. I am planning on subjecting my family to it immediately.

How about you? If someone handed you $50 to one of your favorite places where would it be and what would you buy? Something to think about.


Today I did something I've not done in a long time. I made a Christmas list. I sent it off to those I knew would be most interested in knowing what my little heart desires. Now I will stew for two months waiting to see if I get the iPod, heart monitor, music, DVDs and collectibles I'm pining for.

Anything fun on your list?


I took Megan back to the doctor today. It was nothing, as it turns out, just me being cautious (read paranoid.) See, I'm allergic to penicillin. Bruce is allergic to penicillin. My mom, my brother - also allergic. Megan is on amoxicillin for the strep. As of this morning she has a pale pink collection of pinpoint sized spots on her trunk. Her little eyes are puffy too. I assumed allergic reaction. Doctor says nope, it is not. Apparently little ones with strep can develop a slight rash and the eyes are most likely because she's not feeling well.

We left the office within 5 minutes and less $20 worth of co-pay. Logan rushed into the elevator so he could have the duty of button pushing. I told him which number to hit. Before he can we hear the frantic voice of our soon to be co-rider "Wait for me!"

She climbs in and places herself right in front of the door, which happens to be Logan's favorite spot. He stands next to her. We settle onto the first floor and the woman, in her early 40s if that, panics. She shoves a hand in front of Logan and says "Wait a minute honey, stand back, you don't want to get squished by the door."

Logan stares at her like she's nuts, which apparently she is. He was no where near the door and hadn't even flinched a muscle to indicate he was bolting. He knows the drill and he was on his best behavior. I had no doubt he was about to do what was expected of him - grab my hand and walk out with me.

We trail behind her to the front door. She holds it for us and then stares at my two imps incredulously. "Honey?" she says to me as if she's a kindly saint out to save me from myself. "Where are their coats?"

"In the car," I fib. From the tone of her voice I figure she'd pass out if I told her the kids' jackets were at home.

"Oh my! It's cold out here. They really should have coats on!" she stops walking and stares at me. I'm sure she's trying to figure out where the ballot box for worst mother of the year is.

I stop myself from saying what I really want. The three-year will find the word "bitch" terribly amusing and the one-year old will discover it is a word she can clearly enunciate. Instead I quickly scan the memory banks trying to recall what the thermometer in the van had read just 15 minutes or so ago.

"Ahh, it's 60 degrees out. And our van is right here next to the door. They're fine in their long sleeves and pants," I tell her as sweetly as I can.

She wrinkles her nose and scrunches her mouth in a way that reminds me of the face I made this weekend when Bruce forgot to get sweetener in my coffee. She tosses her hair with a quick turn of her 'holier than thou' head and says "Well you're the mother, I guess."

And I give up being sweet. "Well thank you for noticing," I tell her. I drop Logan's hand and let him walk the remaining steps on the sidewalk to our van on his own. She humpfs slightly and walks away as if she's just witnessed neglect at its worst. I stare at her back and shake my head. I pray silently that neither child causes a scene over being confined to the car seat or not getting a toy in their hands in time. Prayers are answered.


The lady in the lot isn't the only one getting me riled up lately. I'm boycotting our local mall. Folks, they have Santa arriving this weekend. THIS WEEKEND! Three weeks before Thanksgiving. Not only that, but the halls of the mall were decked with holly in time for Halloween!

Seriously, I love Christmas. The Holiday season is my favorite time of year, but, as I wrote in my snotty letter to the mall administrator, I love it during the actual season - not a full fiscal quarter. Their early rush to Christmas cheer is nothing more than commercial greed. I said as much in my snotty letter.

So now, I'm boycotting the mall. I refuse to go there any time before Thanksgiving - if at all. It truly isn't a hardship. I've got other places to go for things I need and I've got the beautiful world of e-commerce. My Christmas shopping is already half-done. Still, I have a point to make.

Now I'm on a mission to convince everyone else I know to boycott. If I get bored, I may just start a campaign. So far though, not quite bored enough for that undertaking.