It is said, at least in the business world, that no one is irreplaceable. I don't disagree with this statement. As much an asset as one maybe to a company, there is always someone that can step in and assume responsbility. Perhaps it's not quite the same. They may do the job differently, but, the job does get done.

My former boss was a very big believer in this theory.

It's been two months since I left.

The req to fill my former job is still open. The tasks I did are piece-mealed out to various invididuals...some of them high priced consultants from the outside world.

I got an urgent call late last week. They want a quote from me - a price - to take on specific project work because they simply can't go any further without getting it done.

The irony, of course, is had they left me alone in my little cocoon of part-time employment this work would have been completed already and at less cost. I must now, to be fair to myself, as well as other clients I've taken on from time to time, charge fair market price for the services they seek. And frankly, that equates to more than what they'd have paid me in hourly rate wages to do the same work three months ago.

Is it wrong that this makes me giggle?


Holding Court

Megan's aunt got her a small chest of princess shoes (complete with crown) for her birthday. It arrived on our door step this evening along with the Disney Princess Memory game. Logan likes playing the Memory game even if it is with the "Silly Girlie Princesses." Megan, however, didn't even notice it was there. She was all about the shoes. We made the mistake of telling her the wing chair in the corner of the living room was her throne. Logan explained that princesses get to make the rules. Megan demanded her "magic wand" (although I never did find the right one - oh come on, you know all good princesses have at least three!) and her "fetters." She then held court right through bath time.

Logan, on the other hand quite frustrated that Her Royal Highness kept switching shoes, asked, "Why doesn't she just wear ONE pair?!"

I said simply, "Honey, she's a girl. She needs variety."

He's still quite perplexed.



I had a few things swirling in my brain but frankly they are all pretty much drowned out by the fuzz of cold medicine. I really hate the whole sore throat clogged up nose thing.

Instead of an attempt at wit or insightful banter, I give you the chance to be witty and insightful for me. Come on, humor the girl clinging to the box of Tyelnol Severe Head Cold and the steamy cup of tea.

I took this picture on our walk this weekend. So, tell me, where does the door lead?

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

(this photo is here care of PhotoBucket because Blogger is being a pain in...well never mind.)



The boys in our house our fasincated by lighthouses. It's how they often spend their special "Father-Son" time -- touring lighthouses. Sometimes they let Megan and I tag along. Yesterday was one of those days.

Living at the coast it's easy to find a lighthouse or two within a relatively short drive. This time our mission was to tour Twin Lights of Navesink. A deep brown monster of an edifice with two lit towers. One is square, the other is octoganal.

In the base of the building lies a small museum. Megan was quickly fascinated by the reflective lense on display. (As you can see in the photo.) She looked at the way it made small rainbows. She admired the faint image of herself. She seemed to even listen to the volunteer guide that explained how the lense helped magnify the light. She ran, gleefully, with her brother to see the larger than life full-sized lense in the small annexed building. They both admired it's glowing magic.

From there we headed out around the bend in the road to Sandy Hook. Near the end of this sliver of island that houses both a State Park beach and a decommissioned military base (Fort Hood), stands the oldest working lighthouse in the country. It's magestic and awe-inspiring...and closed to visitors under 48 inches tall. Logan is still bemoaning this fact. Yet they had fun inspite of it. We toured bunker remains and batteries. We walked in the cool shade of old trees and hard concrete slab walls. Above all else, we simply enjoyed the silliness of bad knock knock jokes and the constant chatter of two young kids.

It was growing late in the afternoon. Time to move home. We had two options for our drive - the big road with tolls but no traffic lights or the slightly smaller road with lights and beach traffic that ran along the coast. We opted for the scenic route. We stopped at one last lighthouse, a small brick house with a light a top .

This small house is only open for visits on a limited basis. This, was not one of those occasions. Instead we took time out to walk along the boards. There were no games at this particular spot. No rides or arcades. Just fresh ocean breezes and plenty of room to run. And run they did.

We took a break along the walk way in a little gazebo boasting two park benches - one sitting just ahead of the other. The kids scrambled up on the back bench with Dad. I quietly moved to the bench ahead of them. It made for a better spot to take their photo than sitting next to them.

I watched them for a few minutes before speaking. The beach always makes me a bit introspective - maybe it's the sound of the pounding waves or the smell of the salt air. Something about it tends to turn my thoughts inward than outward like a spiritual revival.

I thought about those lighthouses. I looked at my children. A conversation I had had earlier in the week came back to me in bits and pieces. How does one effectively grow a child with strong values and deep rooted beliefs? How does one create a good citizen? I had shrugged a little. I have ideas. I have notions put to practice but I have no live proof that it sticks for a lifetime. My two, will giving, caring, compassionate souls today are still so young. Who knows what really comes tomorrow.

I said something to that effect only a bit more vaguely, or succiently depending on your interpretation. I had it and then I replied - you need to model it. You need to "live" it. You need to BE it. You have to speak it, you have to tell them sure. But most importantly you need to be that beacon, that lighthouse in the dark, to show them the way.

This came to me again, the comparison between large lighted tower on the shore to parenting, when I saw that photo of Megan peering deep into the lense. Her reflection is so faint. Almost an aberration. You need to look close to see her small face in the large glass.

That's parenting. When a child leaves our pervue and starts to live life on their own, we are that reflection. As a child cleaves tight to their own self - defining their lives as they see fit, there is still that reflection we've left behind in their hearts, in their souls, in the back of their minds. It's always there and hopefully it's illuminating.


The shame of it (aka Not that I'm Bitter)

It happened a week or two ago. See, I'm so heartbroken I can't even bear to remember the details.

Last year, or maybe it's even longer than that now, yes, it might be closer to a year and a half, I left a local mom's group. It's a long story with oodles of sordid details. Let's just say this - those gals were nuts. Logan was getting ready to start school at the time. Meg was too young to care if she had play dates or not. I had no 'need' for the constant catty bickering and backstabbing. (And THAT was just the moms!)

Recently, however, I've been thinking that Megan could stand a few fellow toddlers in her world. Something outside the realm of our once-a-week-paid-for Mom and me class and her new Sunday School class. I headed back to the web site where I had found my old group. I looked for one like it but not it. I found one. I joined.

I found half the fruit-loops that caused me to leave the original group entrenched in this new one. I considered running as fast as possible.

But I didn't.

One day I open my mailbox to find the new group was shut down without notice. I had an invite to join yet another new group -- one formed as a way to purge itself of members that engaged in catty infighting. I had high hopes the fruit-loops had been let go. I joined (again) and shared insights about local pizza joints and whether or not we'd make it to the story time at the library next week.

My hopes were dashed. Fruit Loops showed up.

And then suddenly, as quickly as I had been invited, I was unsubbed.

Now, unless people found offense to my suggestion that the Pizza Joint was better than Carlos, I have no idea what happened. Ok, I take that back. I do have an idea.

Fruit loops.

One of them is mad at me because I refused to gossip with her about a friend of mine. Our girls are in the same Gymboree class. She has yet to admit I'm there. Another is still mad at me for telling the old group that I didn't think we were the appropriate format for constant advertising of home businesses (just as she was widing up a pitch for her new at-home business) and a third is riding along with Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.

So there you have it. I have offically been booted out of a mom's group. I am a playgroup pariah.

I'm not sure if I should be ashamed or proud. What do you think?



Happy Birthday little girl. Oh, wait, I'm sorry. That is "Big Girl." She's quite insistant lately. Although, according to her brother she does not meet the basic requirements of 'big.'

We don't always agree with Logan's pronouncement however. Megan Rose is a BIG spitfire. She's quite big in feistiness. She's got a large amount of love to share and a bucket full of giggles.

She's stubborn. We have no idea where this comes from.

She's a bit bossy. Ok a lot bossy. Again - big question mark. (See me be facetious?)

She's incredibly compassionate and innately mothering. All her brother needs to do is stub his toe and she's all over him with hugs and "That's ok Woden. I here."

She's got a great sense of humor. Her eyes literally twinkle as she teases us...for real.

She's confident and yet she's shy at times.

She's got a memory that gets us in trouble and a set of smarts that gets us into even more.

She's creative and daring. She's girlie right down to the feather boa she requested and the dress up shoes she scuffs around in. She's a tom-boy that can scale the slides with the best of them. She adventurous.

She's talktive. She's musical. She's not even quite in her sleep. She's rarely still. Always on the go and always exploring. She's a parrot with a big brother she follows around and worships. She's his shadow and he's usually happy to have her.

So are we.



Eight years ago I said something that seems so amazingly naive in retrospect.

I was working for a public relations firm at the time. The person I interfaced with at my largest client had become a friend of mine. Still is. She was born and raised in Idaho. She was currently living in Utah. She had never been to New York City. She was afraid of heights.

When you want to meet with members of the technology press, you can easily set up clusters of meetings by heading to three major US cities - San Francisco/San Jose, Boston and New York. We were in Manhattan for the New York leg of our press tour. Her and I in the "Big City" with time on our hands between appointments.

She had a list of places her grandmother told her she simply could not miss while in town. Grandma wanted her to see the Statue of Liberty. *That* we did not have time to do. We'd never make it over to the little island and back. Instead we agreed on seeing it from a far. We headed downtown.

When the cab dropped us off on Manhattan's southern tip, she decided she'd never get a good view of Lady Liberty unless she pushed down her fears and went somewhere high. We got online at the Trade Center - we'd go to the top. I didn't tell her of it's past. I simply rode the elevator up with her and held on to her hand for support as she stood next to the great windows on the upper level admiring the views.

She was happy to set her feet on the ground again. She stopped a moment in the courtyard between the two towers and did what I had told her earlier would make her look as much the part a tourist as she really was - she looked up and exhaled deeply in awe. I did too.

I told her then. "They tried to bring these down. Can you imagine?" I said softly.

"Here? That was here? Those bombs underground? That was here?" she said. I regretted saying something. She was clearly uneasy being there.

I didn't think much about my response. I felt it. I felt safe and secure and I told her why - "But they already tried. Don't you see. They already tried. They're not going to try it again. They'll try something new."

Three years later I heard a plane struck the Trade Center through the interoffice grapevine. I couldn't fathom it being on purpose. I rationalized it being a small prop plane with a novice pilot losing control. They told me of the second. That one somehow made more sense - a plane getting lost in the smoke caused by the fire of the first.

I couldn't get online. Every web site of any sort of news outlet was unaccessible - overloaded with people desperate for news. I couldn't get a phone line out. Lines were jammed. I finally pulled up a baseball bulletin board I sometimes frequented. A college student in Alabama and a former New Yorker living in New England began feeding the rest of us news. They'd transcribe reports from the television so we could feel not so in the dark.

When Alabama typed "commerical airline" into his update I began to feel sick to my stomach. When New England typed "hijacked" I wanted to throw up. I read "Pentagon hit" and I walked away from the computer.

My mind raced. My stomach churned. I wanted to call my friend in Utah and tell her I lied. Tell her I was so very ignorant of evil back then. Instead I went out back for fresh air - only the air was not fresh.

I was in an office building an hour and half south of New York by car yet you could see the skyline from the beach. The air to the northeast was filling with black smoke. You could smell the fires. I'm not sure that's something I'll ever forget.

My office mates and I headed back in - most of us. We left behind a group of women crying and praying off to the side of the building. The rest of us couldn't stand to see or smell the evidence. Somehow seeing the details on TV was bad but not quite the same as seeing the real thing somewhat removed.

One of our accounts was pushing a news feed into our customer support center. We all huddled in and around that space staring at the three screens broadcasting CNN. Tears flowed without inhibition. People muttered prayers. Our president walked around in a trance saying over and over, "I was supposed to be there today. I was supposed to be there. Oh. Oh Thank God they canceled. It could have been me."

I do not personally know anyone that died that day. I know lots of people that could have or should have been there. I do know lots of people that did lose a loved one. In fact I'm about to email one of them to let her know I'm thinking of her...and him. I know people that were injured - the effects of which still linger for some.

It's been 5 years since four planes erased my ignorance. Five years and yet to this day I can not drive up the New Jersey Turnpike without a lump in my throat because until September 11, 2001, the skyline I knew always had two giant Towers at the southern end of it. I always turn to my husband and say quietly, "It still doesn't look like New York to me."

And he, who was a boy when those big monstrosities were erected nods, "I remember the city without them and then with them...and I agree."

I look at my children and I realize they'll never see the same hole in the skyline and pray it's something they only ever have to read in history books. Yet I'm not that naive any more.


The illustrated prattle

Don't you just love a mom with a camera?

Logan headed back to school this week. This makes me very happy because I finally stop answering the question, "Is it time yet? Can I go to school?" Now I can start answering, "How many more sleeps until I see Mrs. D?" I really hope he never loses this passion for the classroom. (If you're wondering, as Daddy had, what in the world Logan is doing with his hands - that'd be two thumbs up for school.)

The very next day we began life as a soccer family. Logan had a blast for the first 35 minutes - 30 of instruction and 5 of a game. Then the coach decided a few other kids needed a turn on the field and Logan had to wait on the sidelines until he was called back in. The first bench warming went well enough. The second? Not so much. Grandma is blaming the boy on the team that cried the entire hour we were there. She thinks he set the mood. Grandma's are fun.

Fresh (or not so fresh as the case may be) off of soccer, the family headed over to the party store. We had balloons to retrieve and a party to throw. Although her birthday is Tuesday, Meg is pretty much done with the whole 'year older' thing now that her little party and that pile of gifts is behind her. (We blame the rotten quality of the photo on the fact that someone - I'm not saying who - forget to tell the photographer he had to manually open the flash in order for it to go off inside.)

If you ask Megan how old she is you might be surprised. "I am eight," she could say with utter distain that you dare ask a lady her age.

One day, however, she surprised Grandma and told a lady at the store her real age. Grandma, in some bit of shock perhaps, said, "I thought you were eight? That's what you usually say."

Megan sighed and said, "No, I just two. I *want* to be eight."

I am so sunk when she's a teenager, aren't I?

The Uncle and Aunt-in-waiting gave Megan a certificate to Build-A-Bear. She's been there once before and she loved it. When we suggested a certificate to The Uncle he rolled his eyes. We reminded him he didn't have to go make a bear, just send Megan to do so.

It's apparently an immature male response. Logan wanted to buy Meg's Ribbit (the frog she made last time we went) an outfit as a birthday gift. Grandma took him in. He picked out exactly what would look good, helped pay and then handed Grandma the bag to carry.

"I can't be seen with this!" he said in horror. "THAT is a girl store."

About a month ago Megan started picking out outfits from a catalog for "Baby" - her American Girl Bitty Baby. She found the one she wanted and told her grandmother to buy that. After correcting the behavior that would have sent Miss Manners into convulsions, we created the "birthday list."

The list grew and included specifically assigned items. Grandma had two - Baby's outfit and a blue dress. Grandma, being a good spoiling sort of Grandma, looked high and low for a blue dress. Finding none she settled on a demin skirt and a shirt that honestly and perfectly described Megan.

We told her once what it said. Meg smiled. We dressed her in it today for her very first day of 'real' Sunday School. She walked into her two year-old class for crafts and stories. She came home carrying both her worksheet and her project in her hands. She refused to change out of her little outfit for our trip to make her dog (and get it's bed, and it's puppy...and it's bowl.) I stuck her in a tree out front to take her annual black-and-white photo.

"Do you know what that shirt says?" I asked her as she began to quip a series of humorous and yet twerpy remarks. I switched over to the digital camera for a few 'just because I can' photos.

"Yes," she said with a big smile. "My shirt says Cute and Sassy. That's me! I cute. I sassy."


The flu would have been better. . .

On Saturday Megan ate a peanut-butter chip or two as we baked.

A few moments later Megan threw up a peanut-butter chip or two. Then she emptied her stomach some more and sported a nice set of big red splotches all over her stomach and chest.

She got a special ride with Mommy to the doctor's office where they handed down the diagnosis: potential allergic reaction.

Today we got the referral. We called the allergist. We saw the allergist.

It *is* a peanut allergy.

Frankly, I would have preferred she had simply picked up the stomach virus her uncle and grandmother seem to be sharing lately.

I know that *we* can manage this. I know we can read labels and watch what we give her. I'm actually quite ok with that. I'm even ok with managing her non-allergic brother's disappointment in the asbsence of some of his old stand-bys. For the time being, anyway, he seems to understand the severity of it. I have every confidence that her grandparents will cooperate fully with the list of restrictions - the obvious and not so obvious. They've already begun to clear out certain potential threats.

It is, let me be honest, the other people I worry about. It's the relatives and aquaintences that are caviler and don't quite 'get' that "may contain peanuts" is as a bad as "Get your 100% nothing but peanut here." It's the other kids she'll run into when she's entering school. It's the young teacher she'll have beginning this week in Sunday School. It's the meal I didn't prepare.

There is a chance she could outgrow it. I'm not clinging to that possibility since it's a statisically low one. There's also a chance a future reaction from some potential accidental ingestion requires use of the EpiPen that now sits in my purse. There is that chance that we'll be rushing to the ER after I've stabbed her leg with that thing. That doesn't scare me for some reason. What scares me is that she'll have that reaction and someone that doesn't think fast enough to give her the injection will be there not reacting in time.

Shortly after picking Logan up at Grandma's I began to explain to him what Megan had to cope with.

He first said to me, "But pollen bothers me."

"Yes it does Logan, but the worst that happens is you get a runny nose and maybe you get a cold that medicine makes better."

He remembered Megan vomiting all over this weekend. He asked if peanuts made her belly sick. I told him it did but it might also make her throat swell up and make it hard to breathe. He thought a moment and then said very seriously, "But if she can’t breathe she could die."

I agreed with him. "Yes she could, but that's why we're going to get her some very special medicine to help her if she ever reacts that badly." We talked about all the things that could cause her problems. He nodded in earnest as he agreed to give up certain occasional treats and limit particular stables (the boy could LIVE on nothing but PB without the J sandwiches!)

When we walked into the pharmacy to pick up the Epi-pens, he walked a wide berth around the candy aisle. An older woman was at the register as we waited on line. She was buying these store brand bags of candy – buy one get one free. She asked Logan if he was getting any candy. He told her no. She said something about the sale and how he should.

He glared at her and said a bit more polietly that I wanted to at that moment, "I am not getting candy because I want to help my sister. She is allergic to peanuts and so I am helping her not want candy. Please don’t tell her about it."

I love that kid. I really do.


Another reason to love 'em

Logan's long been fascinated by the night sky. As an infant there would be nights he'd simply not settle down. The only thing that would settle his crying jag and eventually lull him to sleep would be bringing him outside. Hot night, cold night. Didn't matter. We'd be out there in our yard with a infant still softly sobbing until the momentum of his fit subsided. He'd tip back his fuzzy little head and just stare.

As the nights began to arrive earlier sometime after that first birthday we started to include the night sky into our bed time routine. Bath. PJs. Stories. Good Night Moon for real. New moon or cloudy nights really messed things up.

This ritual introduced astronomical words to Logan's vocabulary - he knew planets. He knew certain constellations. As he grew he expanded the depth of both his fascination and his knowledge. The point is, although he's only 4 years old, Logan has been quite attached to the idea of 9 planets for at least the last 3 years. Seriously. And quite frankly he loves Pluto.

When the vote came down and outer space changed recently we didn't tell him right away. "It'd confuse him," said Dad, "No need to break it to him now."

"This is Logan," I said. "He's going to fight with the first teacher that tells him there are only 8 planets. We need to start weaning him off Pluto now."

Days passed. Almost a week. We told him.

He said simply, "That's silly. Why'd they go and do that. When I grow up I'm going to be a space scientist first so I can change Pluto back into a planet."

Go right ahead young man. Knock your socks off.

Tonight, as we pulled up the covers and shut off the lights Logan started with his nightly routine of questions. "How long does it take light to get from the sun to the moon and then to Pluto?"

Really, this is not something Mommy knows. I, aching to sit down and relax, flippantly said, "A very long time." He glared at me through the darkness. I added, "How about we look it up tomorrow?"

It was my turn to ask a question. "If you discover a planet some day what would you name it?"

He didn't even think. "Pluto!" he said with conviction. "And then I'm going to tell those silly people Pluto's moon Charon is really a planet too."