I am home with four kids - two girls, two boys - ages 14, 6, 5 and 3 (and when I started this blog, just a little over two years ago, I had an infant, a 2yr old, 3yr old and 12yr old - feels like a lifetime ago, but it wasn't ;-). Until about four or five years ago, I worked in marketing. I have been and done many things - dancer, magazine "multi-tasker", advertising copywriter, gymnastics coach, resort town waitress, grad student, etc. Now my areas of expertise are different and diverse. I am savvy, efficient, patient and earthy (like it or not). I am a better cook, an Ok herb gardener, an impressive artist to my kids, an active and prolific photographer, a childrens' clothing stylist (in my head), a manager of all things "household" and a news enthusiast (from politics to celebrity). I am more cynical though less of a worrier / hypochondriac than I used to be. I am increasingly proud of what I do with kids, family and home, but I do still present myself as a "freelance writer".
It has been a rough couple of years - economically, etc. Lots of new hope this year... last too - with the election of a new president, a supposed "comeback" for the retail and other vital financial worlds. I've heard from others, too, that the decade in review is not faring well - 9-11, the war, all sorts of scandals and other sad situations. You know - I think all decades would read like that, though, wouldn't they? This isn't the first of morose retrospective New Years (remember the Y2K panic???). Anyway - yeah so Tavern on the Green is yet another goner in a long list of such closures and good-byes (granted, it is a "back in the day" type place - where my Mom and her ladies that lunch would go when visiting NYC, but still...). Ugh - where to begin - where to stop. I supposed I'll START with a list of 10 things to be thankful for from the past decade a la one of the very cool bloggers that I follow - Amy at Callapitter (and, btw - when I say that blog title, I cannot, for the life of me, say the word the "correct" way :-):
1. My kids. 2. My husband. 3. Friends and family (especially Barb - who comes to mind as I write this because she took my wonderful Dad to see my Olivia play basketball -which was totally HIS game - back when I was in the hospital with Milo - I knew my Dad was terminal and my Olivia played starting Point Guard like a champ - AND, she even lost a tooth at the game - baby tooth - no worries - and brought it over to Grandpa in the stands while the ref stopped the game - what a moment! Turns out was the only time he would see her play because he died two months later. Also warrants mentioning here that I am eternally grateful for all the "signs" that made it OK for me to come back to OH from VA - waaaay back - hang with some of my friends, some of whom are no longer with us - eat pasta, see bands, have ethereal retail experiences, etc. ;-) 4. My old, drafty, eclectic house (my kids consider it Mecca - except for Olivia who feels the size when all the babies are running about ;-). 5. All my "food / chef channels" like Food Network, Bravo (seriously - I mean it - at least today - might not make the list tomorrow - ???) - for inspiring me to create and comforting me with some trivial, totally media-focused background "noise" and support (it's a stay at home mom thing - deal with it :-). 6. The failed, stressful design studio job that took me to Ohio (to spend time with my Dad, who, at the time, did not know his time was limited) - allowed me to buy a house - caused me stress - gave my daughter a great all-girls school experience in which to thrive - took us back to Pitt where we bought bigger house - allowed Olivia to go back to her beloved first grade school, whereby teaching her to appreciate what she has (in a way) - where we eventually had our wedding, our kids, etc. - all the better for the experience ;-). 7. Our decisions and ability to travel over the years (tremendous bonding and adventure potential tapped!!!). 8. My blog (because I've "met" so many open, fantastic people). 9. Dance (because it has been me since I was two - and always will be part of who I am - AND allows me to be quite limber and energetic - such agility comes in handy for my current "job"....). 10. My decision to leave my last marketing position because... though I have often lamented no longer having a career - not contributing to household income - not having interaction with adults, etc.... it has allowed me to tap into my affectionate, creative, patient, hopeful, sentimental, productive, optimistic, etc. "sides" / "angles" - facets to my personality - whatever...... In a nutshell, made me a better person - taught me not to stagnate - to keep growing....
Two year old who wants to examine my face closely with a magnifying glass beckons... If I don't see y'all before - see you in 2010!
So ... year in review... it's been pretty good. Brought to closure some things just this week that had been hanging over my head - my husband's - or Olivia's (the little ones have no worries :-). The guy who hit us just before Christmas has been found at fault - Olivia had been struggling with an odd situation in which she had the opportunity to take a fabulous trip, but... would miss school at a vital time (upsetting some teachers this important last year at her beloved school). Anyway, long story short - I gave the whole decision to her and she decided not to go (proud that she put school, etc. first - sorry that she might miss a fun trip... Anyway - she made the best choice). I'm still struggling with how to "fix" the corrupted videos of my kids. Of course, when we downloaded in our year-end attempt to organize, the only corrupted bits of filming were both Enzo and Milo's Christmas pageants this year - unbelievable - just kills me :-(. Anyway....
I was sort of dreamily looking at our little collection of water globes from our many trips, travels yesterday ... thinking about what I want to do, where I want to go, what I want my kids to see this year .... My husband, from the other room, not realizing what I was doing, called to me that in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, there was a story about our kids' (yes, all of them) favorite exhibit at the museum - the glassed-in scene of a tiger attacking a camel and his rider - both horrifying and fascinating, at the same time. Anyway, they are going to make it into a water globe - complete with sand that flies when you shake it. So.... think maybe we'll go to the museum today :-).
Thanks to everyone for family updates and news of your kids, plans, travels (good and bad - just life...). I'm still thinking of those of you really struggling with difficult situations or trying to get through a trying holiday season. I'm trying to keep it all in perspective ;-). And I keep hoping that we all find a little bit of joy somewhere - once a day - once a week - whatever - wherever. With that - thanks for sharing all those bits of joy with me and others :-) - and thanks, too, for confiding your trials, worries and deep, dark thoughts too ;-). Here's my little bit of trivial joy to share.... Went to Tamari in Lawrenceville last night - drank a good Pinot Noir - ate ceviche, Peking Duck quesdillas, tasty orzo and pan-roasted chicken, chocolate ganache with cayenne pepper.... Talked to hubby - met other nice people - watched huge snowflakes fall.... Fun.
... to grab even 15 min. of "me time". So far.... not doing so well in that area....
Life has returned to "normal" here on Dewey Street. Olivia shopping, doing sleepovers, working on her hair ;-)... Marcello at a Steelers' game.... three little ones hanging with me while I do the "routine" - dishwasher, laundry, pick up crap..... Like I said... trying to grab a "me moment" AND trying to savor the fact that little ones are thrilled with gifts and want to serve me food from play kitchen or play chess with me (?? :-).
Hope everyone is reflecting, refreshing and resting!!! :-).
Almost time for New Year's resolutions.....Start thinking...;-)...
Should be a good couple of days. Marcello has gone to get my Mom. The boys are a little stirred up, having done Santa letters with Daddy last night. Olivia is sure she has seen some gifts, and... I just got a vital package for Lilliana about which I had actually forgotten.
A little icy for snow play, but... baking continues. I am late getting some new and old toys to Good Will, Salvation Army, and... some treat bags to some older people who may be alone-ish this season have not gone out yet (will brave icy sidewalks later for delivery).
Anyway - welcome friends and family. We're ready! Sending positive thoughts a million different directions this season to people having a hard time getting through it all.
So I hit Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and Giant Eagle today - gathering a comprehensive list of holiday prep food. I was nervous - always a little freaked by crowds, but... today.... tried to go with the flow, so to speak. I ended up feeling "browsy" and stocked up on some fun stuff to snack on, cook with, etc.
In my bags were sweet little clementines, breads, meats, sugars and chocolates for baking... I have very distinct memories of when my parents lived in Europe - Christmas there meant the clementines from Spain, the sugared gingerbread cookies from Germany and other tasty treats (hmmm... remembering the jet lag now too ;-) - my Mom's Villeroy Boch Holly dishes (which I now have and have washed off - ready to serve on) - the Christmas Markts (popular in Luxembourg too - where they lived for a time) with the bright lights strung between hot food stands, oompah bands playing - just fun. We often had guests so would take the train to Paris for the week between Christmas and New Year's - or to Rothenberg, Germany, a charming little walled in village that just screams "Christmas!" :-). On New Year's one year, my Dad and I stood in my parents' rooftop garden in Luxembourg City and watched people set fireworks and sparklers off on all the hilltops around the city at midnight while he smoked a cigar. I do miss him.
BTW - tonight was Christmas dance party in our house as I baked. Neighbors stopped in with gifts - we sent cookies and fudge door to door - everyone seemed to have their Christmas lights on - it was... well...festive. Even cleaning and prepping for my Mom's visit was fun - everyone excited.
We did "ring around the rosie" to the '80's "Feed the World" (can you name all the soloists? we can ;-), which I always thought was a short song until I had to wait until the chorus, circling and circling, to fall down. Weezer does a great "O Holy Night", btw - from a Christmas album from a few years ago??? It was always my Dad's favorite song of the season; I think he would like this newer version.
Finally got a chunk of time to download photos. Olivia and her fellow eighth grade divas sing - Enzo and the soldiers say their BIG LINE - Milo and his reindeer "ears" (antlers - his sweet little hands :-) - and Lilliana covers her ears while the band plays (just loud - not bad ;-) - and... of course... I got a photo of big sis and little bro, their last year performing together (sniff).
Starting to feel a bit of the "retail strain" that comes with the season. Needed a diversion.... Maybe you do too??? :-)
Olivia still asleep - she has a holiday party and gift exchange with her friends tonight - will probably need to bake some cookies for her to take. Have already experimented with a peanut butter / pecan cookie recipe this morning (E, M & L got into peanut butter and fruit leather - so... threw some bacon in oven and breakfast was ready! - easy :-). Marcello getting the van's rearview mirror fixed - Enterprise called this morning re: rental since Jetta is "not well". Trying to decide on what to check off "to do" list today - more baking with kids - last minute shopping run - finish Christmas cards (probably should be on top) - play in snow (too cold??). Currently - everyone occupied with markers and paper (Lilliana has done a very thorough job of coloring her face and hands a deep purple).
So far so good.
Have received news of new babies, new illnesses and more holiday losses of loved ones this season. Thinking of everyone - wishing happiness to all - those with newborns up all night and those missing people or battling illness - everyone.
OK - so one gingerbread house decorated - two types of cookies decided upon for baking - and well .... third time is a charm regarding shopping. Third family outing this season was actually successful.
Aside from a sleepless night, "things" after the trauma of our car accident have returned to normal. No matter how upset or sore you might be, you still have to get up - scramble the eggs - do the laundry - move the day forward.
Photos are Christmas morning candids from last year. Remembering the fun - looking forward to more this year.
PAST 3 am - cheese and crackers & weak tea for me - goldfish and juice for Lilliana who just woke up (sleep pattern still WAY off from bout with stomach virus - going to bed early - waking for short time wee hours). Funny little game of hide and seek while sitting on couch (counting with hands over eyes - then "I got you, Mommy!") - rundown of body parts (hands, eyes, etc.). Time now to sit on her little toddler couch and look at Christmas ornaments. Sex and the City movie is background noise. Quiet this hour. My sweet little one is helping erase all the stress I feel lately.
Pancake breakfast for seven (Olivia had a friend sleep over) - wet snowpants and boots now sit next to gifts under / near the Christmas tree - batches of hot chocolate all day (actually - Enzo only drinks cocoa - Milo hot chocolate - same stuff - wink wink - I tell them they are custom batches) - melty sandwiches - talk of middle schooler shopping outing - Olivia's basketball game - phone call from Mom - hanging paper preschool angels on the tree.
ANY OTHER DAY (with snow :-).
Except - my husband and I were in a pretty bad car accident. We're OK -sore ribs, big red slash where the seatbelt was (through my freakin' coat!) - I've iced a big sore knot on my knee - a little nauseous and sore..... My poor little black 2000 VW Jetta (Olivia and I named her Gwendolyn Delilah) might not make it, though I hope so -don't need another expense - not ready to let her go (they told us to take some of our personal stuff - I took the carseat and this little paper "cell phone" that Olivia made for me years ago and that I kept in the car on the door - Marcello took paperwork and an umbrella - we felt crappy / shaky.... probably should have taken more - feeling weird - we had such a close call - the first car I ever bought on my own - if it would have hit us another way, what would have happened - ??? Thoughts racing, obviously). Anyway - some careless idiot was going (per witnesses) like 60 - 70 mph coming towards us - hit slush on a curve (that's when I saw him coming right at us) - and almost hit us head on (officers said we could have flipped) - instead hit side and knocked us head-on into a stone overpass (then hit another car). We're lucky. All I could think of was - what IF the kids were with us. Enzo and Olivia ride to school in that car with Marcello all the time. Enzo is little - looks small for his booster (though it is "regulation") - Olivia would have been where I was - Little Milo almost rode in it the other day - someone would have been near the door / window. Scary. The impact was awful - several hard impacts.
Anyway - trying to count blessings. Hard right now. Feeling an odd mix of blessed and cursed (one more thing in a long list - sappy, feel sorry for self stuff). Currently right back on the dinner, laundry, games and books with kids (between refereeing their fights), etc. Have not had time to think. Everything - insurance, Enterprise, police, attention to minor injuries, etc. - OVER in like three hours. Right now, lamenting our shopping / lunch outing that never was. In an hour will realize how much could have been lost.
Marcello keeps telling me how much worse it could have been - how I should not have lost my temper with the guy who caused it, acting like a victim. Very grateful to our lovely neighbor who came to get us (and his family who lost him for an afternoon) - the nice guy who's car was also hit and who was very supportive - the very helpful and kind policemen. Anyway... I'm not being terribly gracious right now, but I'm trying :-).
As always... thinking of those who have lost so much and are hurting now. Maybe more so today....
A holiday movie tradition in our house. Memories of sitting up with my infant Enzo - who is now 5 - fussy at 5 in the morning - Christmas tree lights - hot chocolate - big blanket - movie on...... Love it.
Watched it tonight for the first time this season. "I feel it in my fingers... I feel it in my toes..."
Those of you who know and love it like I do... know what I'm talking about. Great movie - a must see.
Several bad omens loomed as this day - this highly anticipated performance approached. First, we were all sick -then - day of - I wrenched my shoulder - and got in to start van and rearview mirror fell off. Oh well. As a former performer,these things spook me but... I forge on...
A little background. My kids go to a little private Catholic school with a long tradition of the kindergarten class doing this wonderful interpretation of the Christmas story every year. Years, ago, Olivia was one of the soloist angels. It was a surprise. Memories of chills and my mouth dropping open still reign - although now, coming back to me is the fact that I thought my videotape was going to end so missed taping some of the rest of the show - was snapping photos at the same time so they are not great quality, etc. (though she is a ham and we have some big cheesey, right at the camera smiles :-). Anyway - kids look at these highly coveted videos of their class and the Christmas Story for years.
Present day: My shy boy, Enzo, is a soldier in the play (he wanted to be the donkey - oh well). Small part - no big deal - he's excited - it'll be fun - no worries. Right. Harried afternoon of me with kids - mac n cheese - changing into appropriate clothes - readying camera bag - packing snacks, diapers, etc. for little one - gaming stuff for preschooler (gotta have them happy). Get there early - good seats - right up front - packed with people, though - so some filming must be done off to side (church has since been redone - "old" church - all will agree - much better for K Christmas play - though - renovation much better in general ;-). We get almost ALL of Olivia's songs (she was excited about some of the pretty songs the now "queens of the school" 8th grade girls would be doing) - though photos just OK because we are close, but... still making Milo and Lil happy on our laps - difficult to stand, frame shots. Anyway - Kindergarten comes out. Hubby gets great footage of our little guy entering and saying the BIG lines- I get some "fine" photos. So cute - performance going well. We film and snap more photos, knowing Enzo will want to see his friends too (and Olivia will reprimand us if we don't). SUDDENLY - Lilliana starts to shriek. Desperate not to ruin another parent's experience with his / her daughter's soloist angel performance, I run with her. Enzo not on stage so I have time. "Excuse me - excuse me" - I run to back of church (along the way friends and acquaintances, knowing I have a kindergartner, are offering to take her. I don't want to ruin their experience, however, so I keep moving). I find one of my daughter's friends - another Olivia. Lilliana acts like cat - wants to go to her. Olivia B (as we call her) has to get back but can hold Lil while I snap some photos of Enzo, who is about to come back on. I run to front where the teachers have told me he'll be when he comes back out. His back is to me - though I do get to see him enter. I have some nice conversation with our little 4 year old neighbor (yes, Jesus does die and rise again but we're not doing that today). Loved it. She was so sweet and really liked watching her pal, Enzo. I almost snapped a picture of her to capture the moment but... thought the backwards flash would freak people out. So.... gotta go find Olivia B. Back of church. She's gone! So's Lil! I circle -back and forth - back to front. Later - I hear they were getting a drink. I also hear that Olivia B was a runner and was late getting back to her class so.... the whole 8th grade was confused about where to go. I also hear the principal was looking for me. I find Lil with Olivia B's parents. I get back to my seat in time to step on some first grader's toes. Luckily, they didn't have candles this year - just glow sticks - or my hair (or someone else's) would be on fire, for sure - given the fact that I was, basically, blocking the aisle and now part of the show. Find out hubby thinks video camera acting weird - only filming little snippets before turning self off with error msg. This always happens to us - at Disney - at Christmas, etc. - whatever camera we have breaks. Good times.
OK - so I'm still having fun. Sweating - adrenaline release has made my shoulder feel better - a little confused - but... fun. Show ends. We pack screaming toddler Lil into stroller - preschooler Milo wants a glow stick so is also crying. I gather coats, cameras, bags, etc. - like a pack mule (cool - I get to be the donkey) - send hubby to car - and... I'm off. Mission 2 - find Enzo and Olivia - take more pics with pals - navigate massive crowds in school - back to car. We make it. Unbelievable.
Ate big, sloppy take-out meal at home (even those of us still a little sick were so starving, we ate like piggies) - Looked lovingly at the photos of sweet Milo's perfect performance earlier in day (he's been practicing his "little elf" song all week - LOVED it - PLUS, he got to wear the reindeer "ears" he's always seen big brother, Enzo, wear in his preschool shows - and we all got to eat the most fab cranberry, white chocolate oatmeal cookies - thanks to the knitting pal I've mentioned on my blog before, who is also a classroom parent).
Lots of photos to come. I have like millions (ha ha) to download from my camera. And - we certainly created some memories last night. Pheww.....
Once again, my angst and over-thinking has given way to happy thoughts - the zen for which I so often search :-)....
Sick kids better - dispensing mint ice cream, peanut butter and chicken soup as I type. I got the little ones to eat items of nutritional value - Milo an apple and Lilliana a piece of cheese and some juice. I'm even finally eyeing some food myself - definitely Olivias's ice cream - possibly Enzo's soup - thinking some spiced cider later (though may wait for hubby to get home in a few days and make it a treat).We're back in action!
Jealous that Marcello is having the cheesey retail experience I so long for - fattening coffees, total giant King of Prussia mall, dinner out at a crowded cafe (just a break from a day of meetings, though so not "all that", I guess ;-). Sounds wonderful and awful at the same time. I haven't done that in years.
Anyway - currently relishing the fact that my kids were singing Christmas carols earlier - Milo can really belt it out (though keeps tune like most 4 year olds) - Enzo is singing the same songs big sis Olivia did in her pageant years ago (she even had a semi-solo!!!). Enjoyed Christmas lights on my way to replenish our supply of sick people food (ginger ale, soup, etc.). Even into the pie baking contest on one of my favorite Food Network shows - Food Network Challenge (I'm a pastry competition fan :-) and waiting for Mary Poppins to be on ABC (or HBO??) Family later (I have memories of seeing this movie in a theater, but... have only JUST realized that it was made way before I was born - ??? - Anyway - my boys want me to be magic so I can pick up the toys & clean their room like she does :-). Absorbing what I can (and trying to forget that Milo just ran headfirst into the Christmas tree wearing his froggy pjs, one of Olivia's UGGs on one foot and Enzo's jingly Christmas stocking on the other foot - Merry, Merry!!!).
Some favorite photos from last year's season are making me appreciate the time that passes and the moments we have with those close to us...
We're all sick here - really sick -throwing up all night - lethargic all day - yukky stuff. I had it the night before last so have had no food for nearly 48 hours - but... my two oldest kids got it one right after the other last night (so no school today) - so we're all on like an hour or two of sleep too (hubby out of town starting this am, and he had to drive a few hours - yikes). The two youngests had it last week and over the weekend, so... they are now on the strangest diet in the world. I let them eat what they wanted as they recovered, but... they still insist on a steady diet of crackers and ginger ale ....
Anyway - stressed about shopping - Mom visiting for Christmas so have some major cleaning to do as well as some decisions on a menu.... Looking forward to school Christmas pageant, but... worried that the little ones will act up as well.... Think I need to relax a bit.
Sometimes, I think that I have such high expectations for the season - baking cookies, taking the kids skating downtown, holiday parties, shopping at the mall then stopping for yummy holiday coffee, and...... it just never turns out as I planned. I mean, it used to when I had only one child. With four, however, and three of them still pretty young, it is difficult to even go out for an occasional lunch with all of them - shopping is out of the question and... baking with them isn't as festive as it sounds (still fun but a little trying and usually only about 50% participation) - plus, we don't get invited to many holiday parties - sort of out of the party loop these days plus my husband's office only does a party for the employees - no spouses - definitely no kids and we don't really have a reliable babysitter (and... did I mention his office parties are in Philly or NY, so... would require a grandparent to watch the kiddies and we have not one willing to do so).
Anyway - tree is finally decorated - excited for school Christmas show (did I say that already? Olivia loves the songs her class is doing, and Enzo is a soldier in the annual kindergarten interpretation of The Christmas Story :-) - I do have some baking planned - am almost done with shopping - have all my wrapping paper - glad my Mom has decided to finally spend a Christmas with us - I'm pulling out of my funk.
Today, though....we're all just laying around (except for Milo who is on turbo, as usual - climbing walls, etc.).
Thinking, though - about people who have experienced loss or worry about money this season....IN fact, I think this season brings a lot of reflection and asking "why". I find myself lately wondering about people who have lost loved ones (my Dad was the most wonderful person, and he died three years ago of cancer - every Christmas I think what he is missing and what he would've enjoyed - and I had a few friends die very young a few years ago, one leaving behind twin toddlers - why? Others.... too many to mention. I watched CBS Sunday Morning yesterday and saw a segment on wealthy corporate leaders who have started this policy of handing out money at the holidays. They gave this one woman $400 and she thought it was the best thing ever. She had to use it to buy kerosene for her old broken down heater, though - just to stay warm - and she thought that was a true blessing. I couldn't help but think that this poor woman deserves a big, warm meal with family - a gift to open - a really nice day on Christmas, but... she was just grateful to be warm. Heartbreaking.
...this crazy chaotic holiday season! Hanukkah has started. The Christmas shopping traffic has gotten out of control. I hear the Salvation Army is low on toys this year. Donate new or gently used to your nearest warehouse. In Pittsburgh, it is in Greentree. Also, the Food Bank needs donation - money, food, time.
Today's photo: some pre-holiday chaos from ... last year?... year before? One of the two...;-). Me - holding baby (as usual) - Olivia looking cute - Enzo sort of hiding - and Milo smeared in icing or something.... Big Daddy Marcello must have taken the photo.
Milo wants a "bird speaker" for Christmas so he can talk to the birds. Enzo wants an actual "Knight's shield" to exactly match his new snow boots (which are from Land's End not medieval England :-). Hmmm..... makes Olivia's list of Prada, Juicy, Coach, UGG, etc. seem easier somehow......
Oh the simple things.... like the sunflower Enzo holds in today's picture. :-)!!! Longing for them, that is....
... but I do have unsettling Scrooge-like visions of my hubby with a cane - herding the kids around the tree to do his bidding (bah humbug - string those lights) - and I have all the Halloween trick or treat bags out (had to dig through those to get to the tree trimmings - I'm sure hubby and kids thought I was making good on my threat to make everyday Halloween so witches like me can live freely - Can anyone say "The Nightmare Before Christmas" film festival?) - and have just sent my two boys to bed with sugary cereal and a few sips of iced green tea for a "snack" (?!?!?!). Anyway.... sitting by the lighted (not ornamented) tree, having had a semi-peaceful, warm and close evening with all the kids (for Olivia, this means, hopefully, that she is sitting in her room loving the peppermint hot chocolate with mini marshmellows that I made for her, watching Glee and thinking it doesn't get any better than this ;-).
Photos: Rare phone glimpses of any one on one time that me and / or Marcello get with the gang....
Today, a giant tree-sized branch almost fell on my van with me and Lilliana and Milo in it. I mean, it came crashing down like it was meant for us - I had to swerve - the cars behind me freaked out and just stopped. I barely had time to react. I had been thinking about people I was missing this season as well as the way the universe - my world, anyway, is getting smaller. I chat with an old friend (who I haven't seen in over 15 years) in Dubai one night - I follow blogs of people who have become friends with other people from another area of my life - I blog, chat, friend - whatever - all over the world, and... experience the same great serendipity in my daily life. I can do without the disaster "wrong place at the wrong time" type.
Thought I'd share a little of the "chasing" thingies my boys have come up with lately.... I see a pattern emerging. Do you? Bacon chases pancakes. Colors chase the rainbow. Babies chase daddies.... There's more. Promise ;-).
Been dreaming of my Dad lately. In the dreams, he's healthy, young - happy. Wondering what they mean. I do need him lately .....
I should be upstairs filming Milo and Lil as they "play instruments" - I should be straightening their cluttered bedrooms and / or preparing them for painting - I should be doing another load of laundry - I should be looking up a dinner recipe - I should be exercising, doing my yoga - whatever.... Instead - I am drinking coffee and watching the Today Show - next up Food Network and some leftovers for "breakfast". Needed a breather....
The photo? My memories of summer and some freedom :-)...... Ahhh.... zen / my breather...
Oh - and... some fun stuff here....http://www.momblognetwork.com/directory
After my latest "bitch session" (see previous post), I went upstairs to "get ready" for the day (hmmmm...). I grabbed my stuff - ran to the shower for my 5 min. "get clean / get out" session, leaving door open for little ones to wander in or sit and play by door and talk to (daily thing :-). Anyway, the underwear I chose was a festive holiday-ish colored pair (bright green - pink - sorry for tmi) with the word "joy" on them. See, I have a series - "hope" and "love" are the other two, I believe - both equally festive in color - bought for me by my little Olivia years ago. I remember she was so proud - wanted me to keep the little box they came in. Now, they're the bottom of the laundry bin undies... but I've kept them, thinking every time I see them that she was proud to buy them on her own - thought they were so pretty for mommy - wanted to make sure I kept them neat and in a place of honor. She always did get me a sweet, sensitive mix of what I need (comfy jammies, undies, etc.) and frivolous, fun stuff (handmade chocolate kiss earrings, a box of wishes, dream bugs to keep the nightmares away :-).
Anyway - nice, fleeting memory - just like stumbling onto her old kids' guitar the other day, that Milo now plays all the time, and finding a remnant of tape from where she used to tape her "set list" in preschool. Oh - and btw - for the record, I have on the "uniform" - today's yoga pants are by Puma, the flip flops by Adidas, the hoodie something I bought in Iceland well over ten years ago.... Merry Merry!! It IS Friday, which in our house is "take out night" - hooray!!!
OK - so I'm sulking again. I think I've ranted on this before, but..... I have incredibly fond memories of antiquing with my parents. I know it sounds silly, but I grew up with a lot of antiques and heirloom stuff around (not a lot - but my Mom is good with great finds - regal, not trashy - have history but remain useful too - great armoires, benches, shaving chests, quilts, etc. - her house is pristine, but I digress AGAIN...). Also, my Dad is gone now, and I cherish some of the things he gave me - bought for my daughter - left behind. I mean, it even makes me sad that my wild ones have managed to break a cheap little water game that he bought for Olivia and they played together. Anyway....... Milo and Lil like to play with my antique (but not expensive) silver coffeepot with creamer and pitcher. It's sturdy, so... I let them. Today, however, they broke the coffeepot and the creamer - like snapped the metal in half on both. I do get frustrated.... all my little demi tasses, smoked glass retro '60's glasses, etc. - broken - gone forever. And... it's not just the items - it's the memory I had attached. I would pick up a glass -think of that day with my parents (no fights with my mom - my dad healthy and happy)..... Now, I sit here, trying to bang this out in 5 min. - I have some other quick work to do - but they have both heaped like a cookie monster flashlight, two cookie cutters, a ripped up post-it pad, diapers, baby wipes, etc. on my lap in the last few min. How do I think straight at all?!?!
One last bitch moment.... I'm having trouble with my blog template too - can't get "undefined" fields to disappear - links don't work, etc. Ugh - I think I need coffee....
On a bright note - 'tis the season, so... go out and get your Williams Sonoma Peppermint hot chocolate. This is a seasonal favorite for me and my Olivia (since she was little). Expensive - but no others out there like it (if so - I'd like to hear about them!!). And... Fantastic Mr. Fox supposedly great movie. My hubby took my boys to see it.... raved... so have other adults and kids.... Oh - and I would provide links to all this, but.... well - you know (see above "bitch moment").
Happy, happy, everyone :-). I'm still thankful for what I have... I suppose we all should be...
Milo had a great birthday. Ear infection temporarily forgotten, he opened some gifts (all he wanted was a "silver game" and some glitter to put on paper - he got a little more than that, though :-). blew out some candles on cupcakes and had a great time playing with brothers, sisters, Mommy, Daddy. He brought cookies in for his friends at school today (jammed them into a Cars lunchbox that he has been waiting and waiting to use since... he doesn't eat lunch at school ;-). Anyway.... feels good to have happy kids.
OK - so, while perusing our thousands of photos and our many, many videos (all taken from different sources - phones, HD cameras, old videotape cameras, etc. - all good for different reasons - I like to have a physical piece of tape in addition to the burned CD / DVD - just my preference - besides our HD camera is horrible in low light while the old-fashioned camera is great - very clear, but... I WAY digress....)...I happened upon a series of videos in which I am filming our baby (OK - now for clarity - and I don't know why I didn't do this before - my kids names are - Olivia, 13 - Enzo, 5 - Milo, 4 today!!! - and Lilliana, 2) and.... poor 2 1/2 yr. old Milo is trying to get my attention. This happened over and over in - like I said - a series of videos, and.... well, I just felt so bad. I mean, this sweet little guy was trying to show me what he could do, and I was just so wrapped up in capturing the, at the time, infant's first swinging experience, first word, first real food, etc. And... I think I noticed that I missed some precious footage - wee little Milo pushing his baby sister in the swing or telling a silly story that, I'm sure, at the time, was just more background noise in my crazy day.
I started thinking (for me - make that over-thinking), and I just felt worse and worse. I mean - Olivia is a lot older than the others, so... we have SO many photos, videos, etc. of JUST her - all framed - all over the house. We have very special vacations that just SHE went on. She got the benefit of some intense one on one activities - very expensive camps and schools, etc. Enzo was next, and... as the first boy, he enjoyed a HUGE welcome - baby shower, giant first birthday celebration, lots of clamoring around him for a look (Olivia's friends at the time - he was the first baby to be born to anyone in her class for a few years), a big Godfather-style baptism celebration, a family trip to Paris, etc. Then Milo came along, and he was our sweet NICU baby - enduring surgeries and other traumas before he was even a week old (he was born with a - turns out - minor kidney issue). We had all the boy baby stuff so no shopping for him (he was born little more than a year after Enzo) - my father died when Milo was only two months old, so, subsequently, his baptism was lowkey (I was so distracted, still grieving, etc. that he is the only one without a formal photo in the antique baptism gown all the kids wear) - my brother chose Milo's first birthday for his quickie courthouse wedding, so none of my family attended, I got pregnant with Lilliana right after his first birthday, etc. And... of course, as a girl, we had to "pink up" her room - get baby girl stuff - my family had recovered, in part, from my father passing so my Mom even came to stay for a while. I guess... in my long-winded way.... I'm trying to say that Milo is the victim of extreme "middle child syndrome". Add to that the fact that he is the volatile one - the tough one.
OH - man - I just don't know where this is going. It's funny, too. Milo is probably the most like me - volatile, unpredictable (read: can be the sweetest of all - very affectionate), intense - always climbing, doing flips and gymnastics - known as difficult or a trouble-maker. I really do have a rapport with him - an empathy - total recognition of myself in him. So - why do I feel like he gets neglected? Maybe because I was the one left to my own devices as a kid (self-sufficient people often are)???? Anyway - my hubby, Marcello ('bout time you learned his name too :-) went to the trouble to show me ALL the really funny videos, etc. that we do have of Milo. And, truthfully, we do have some great, unique photos too. I mean, he's a beautiful child. He reminded me that Milo is my buddy - the one who spends the most time with me - does Mommy and Me gymnastics, etc. So... I feel better....
Yesterday was Milo's day at preschool to bring in his birthday treat. Again, for a few years now, he's watched big brother, Enzo, come home with the highly coveted birthday crown, and... as is his way, just watched happily and silently and patiently waited his turn. This was his first year for the crown, and... he had to go home early with an ear infection - his class ate the sprinkle-coated donuts he brought without him. I guess he'll be snack helper on Thurs. I brought the crown home for him to wear today (on the actual big day :-). I stayed up wrapping presents, taping his favorite candy canes to the packages, getting big sis to make him a card, will go to Trader Joe's to get him his favorite yummy miniature vanilla cupcakes for some candles - he is really a low maintenance kid, for the most part :-), etc. We may even bite the bullet and take him to Chuck E Cheese (if he's feeling up to it). Insert sigh here....
Lesson for today? Or -rather - for me as I ponder this "it is what it is" birth order situation.... I guess, once again, cherish ALL your moments with all your loved ones. It is trite, but... it is true :-).
The photo is of my lovely boy last year on an Edgewood playground. Happy b-day, Milo!
So... have started the holiday by forgetting to thaw the turkey (Food Network said to go frozen, so... I listened - though will be riveted to Martha Stewart on Today this morning - not kidding - will really be riveted - need to figure out the perfect brine - like I don't have better things to do :-). Also - one kid home with scratchy throat and... as oldest of the babies and, therefore, "leader" / instigator - has pulled a bunch of glow sticks from.... somewhere????... and they are running through house glowing. Oldest going to ice skate downtown today - around the tree, I guess. I used to work downtown - saw the tree go up after Halloween - However - noticing this year that retailers on holding off - decorating for Christmas when appropriate, so... hopefully, the tree will be up (the one Christmas "thing" that I think should be in place before Thanksgiving - let the festivities begin!!). Anyway ..... happy, happy all. I am prolific in the blogging arena right now because, oddly, I have all these little snippets of time in my chaos.
Last thing before I go.... give to St. Jude's Hospital this year. I am watching a story now in which a family had given to the organization for years, and... is now depending on St. Jude to save their little girl's life. That hospital does amazing things....
And btw - any turkey cooking triumphs and / or horror stories?? If so - share :-).
I have a couple of local, new and / or super cool businesses and products to check out.
First, if you're looking for a new dessert idea for Thanksgiving or a yummy treat for your kids (or you...), check out http://www.ladorita.net for some La Dorita Dulce de Leche (great back story and history on this recipe / product) a natural, preservative-free milk spread brought to you by two Pittsburgh super moms - Josephine Caminos Oria and Amanda Montgomery Carvelli.
Second, for those admirably environmentally conscious washable diaper fans, check out local mom and businesswoman, Maggie Broderick's, site www.burghbabygear.com to get your custom-made soakers and more - handpainted yarn, woolies, custom-made, BEAUTIFUL baby clothing!
Third - check out the Natural Attachment blog that I follow. Michelle, the author, provides a link and more info. on her unschooling blog, for which she has been nominated for an award. Definitely worth a look / read - whether or not you homeschool, unschool or public / private school. If you're a parent, you'll be interested.
And, lastly, I have to promote an old college friend's new show (he's producer) on Bravo - Chef Academy - 10 pm on Monday nights. Really fun - dreamy, delicious chocolate pots last night - tomato sauce (I'm told) next week - great, simple, tasty recipe - plus, there's some of that reality show drama that cracks me up (this time a cute French guy - with some culinary talent - was, apparently, a porn star in a past "professional life" - tune in next week... ;-).
Currently researching our local Pitt fashion scene... I'm told there are some new clothing lines out there.... being conceptualized, etc. right in our own back yards.... So.... I guess "stay tuned" is the theme for this post.
If you're not shoppers, go to your "happy place" this Friday and lay low (I've added a photo of my "happy place" - doing gymnastics on the beach with my daughter and her friend... fun, calming, invigorating ...). And, of course, Happy Thanksgiving!!!!
OK - and I don't mean the - "Oh yeah - I forgot to mention this kind" - I mean, leftovers - like - tonight's dinner is either the spaghetti from Sunday - the burgers from last night - soup and sandwich or breakfast for dinner - Place your order quick - the short order cook only remains in a good mood until.... oh - I'll give it until 7 pm tonight (I am basking in the warmth of knowing my little one had fun with me today - my preschooler made a funky little "Indian"(my part Cherokee mother would beat me with a stick - kidding) headband - my two oldests are happily at their school's Turkey Games). Anyway... I am thankful for my hard-working, understanding hubby - partner for life :-).
I actually don't truly understand that statement - seems to negate all the "and the meek shall inherit the earth" stuff. I mean - in my case, I feel like - shamefully - "bitch and ye shall receive" is more in line with my recent mood. I do need to be thankful, though, and, so... aside from the obvious, I am also thankful for harried trips to the mall with my 13 year old - my weekly donuts with preschooler - my kindergartner's endless questions (lately - What do lizards chase? Bugs - What do tigers chase? Everything - And even the existential - What do donuts chase? Coffee. What do teeth chase? Food. What does underwear chase? Bumbies.)- and my silly, silly two year old and her wild, unkept hair that she constantly brushes from her sweet, little face.
Anyway - I lamented not being able to spend time with friends and family - or really focus on people, situations ,etc. recently, and.... have to say - dinner with old work friends last night (have known them almost 10 years - been through many girlfriends, boyfriends, babies, jobs, etc. with them) - knitting class last week - shopping with daughter and friends - field trip with kindergartner - gymnastics with both youngests - hot dogs and beers with hubby's "band friends" over the weekend - big cousin sleepover coming up - a baptism to attend - dessert to host on Thanksgiving - breakfasts out with pals.... We have hit the mother lode of love :-). OK - I am even cracking myself up now. Expressions of love must make me "cheesey". All good.
OK - first of all - here's my fab, famously sought-after corn pudding recipe:
I use a large souffle dish (very deep so it needs to cook in moderate - not hot - oven - around 300 - 350 degrees - for a long time - up to an hour or more like a bread to make sure it gets done through but doesn't burn on top) - though you can use a 13 X 9 baking dish and make the oven more like 375 degrees. It will stay hot in the deep pan so can be made before other things that may need to cool before serving). Depending on the size of the pan and your preferred ratio of one ingredient to another, you may need to add more of one - scale back another :-). Two disclaimers: 1. This is a southern recipe so it is not going to be low-fat fare unless you customize it - AND 2. It would be ideal to use fresh corn and cream it yourself with whatever salt, pepper, sugar, heavy cream mix you use, but.... during this season, the corn is either not available or not sweet or tender enough to be good. When you do use canned corn, it will be a little sweeter, so the savory needs to be pumped up a bit and salt may need to be added (taste as you go). I suppose flash frozen organic corn may be a good option. Anyway ....
2 cups corn 2 cups creamed corn (corn, salt, pepper, sugar, heavy cream and either tapioca or corn starch to thicken - stir, stir, stir :-) and blanch corn first - OR - just use organic canned - still tastes good - just a bit sweeter. 2 eggs 1/2 cup melted butter 16 oz. sour cream 2 cups fine, sweet corn meal (in the latin american markets - the "massa", correct?? would be great) pinches of sugar, salt and pepper to taste (you can add eggs last if you're tasting) 1 cup cheddar cheese
Mix all the above - butter sides of dish - pour in and cook to specs above :-)!!
Not a lot of time this week, but I have a couple retail tips - specifically for the mall shoppers :-)... Nordstrom is doing one of their annual sales, and... I have to say.... things are going fast (major designer, mom-friendly bags on clearance :-). Lucky jeans has a huge percentage off all women's thermals and kids' stuff .... Janie and Jack has super cute stuff - practical, fun, retro play clothes on sale .... Juicy Couture has nothin' (yeah - shopping for my tween) - lots of bundled gifts, but... like boy boxer underwear or knee socks that are "over the top, can't wear them everyday" stuff and over $40 for like 3! Anyway.....
Happy Thanksgiving! I'm loving that my kids are telling me daily what they are thankful for..... which is great. But - of course, we also have Black Friday to deal with, so.... good luck there too!