21 August 2009

Out with the old....

... and in with the new, right? Sometimes when a series of "unfortunate events" (this week - forgetting a story hour, forgetting an orthodontist appointment, a bad fall complete with dripping blood, a fight between preschoolers - worse than I've ever seen, an antique desk ruined, a Japanese mobile for our youngest's room chosen lovingly by her big sis and daddy - totally broken to bits, an envelope of cash lost - I know it's here somewhere - $100+ in "fun money", etc. etc.) befalls us :-), it is time to take a deep breath, regroup, reorganize and launch something "new and improved". In this spirit: I give you my new format:

recipe idea
retail tip of the week
photo gallery
new product highlight
great find
organization tip
something cool for kids
something cool for adults

Launch date: 7 Sept 2009
See you then!

20 August 2009


At the end of most days, despite being a bit of a prima donna thrown into fulltime SAHM status, I try to think on the little things I would miss - or -that I will forget if I don't - well, I think the old cliche fits here - stop and smell the roses a bit - the roses here being the little wonderful things that pop up daily in a life with children (of all ages).

Sure - the trip to the park or playground can get stressful with little ones running in different directions, potty-training going horribly wrong or tantrums erupting every half an hour, but... the little moments like filling a sippy cup for a thirsty toddler, watching a proud preschooler tackle the climbing wall or buying the kindergartner an ice cream at the corner hot dog stand can be so great.

Listening to your baby babble the three year old's name, and the three year old laughing in return - teaching the four year old to write his name or loving it when he asks to hear a book again.

I mean - these days won't last - so... savor the wonderful with the trying because in the end, it's all good. Just now - at midnight - after an evening of "I can't sleep", dirty dinner dishes that went on forever and endless requests from the middle schooler for merchandise and complaints about braces, my mind races thinking of the fun things I've done with all of them in the past few years - racing the 13 year old in the pool, freestyle, when I was 6 months pregnant then her saying (when I won :-), "when you have the baby, we're going to race butterfly!" - having coffee and treats with the three year old after his weekly gymnastics class - taking long walks with the now four year old back when he was only two or so; he would ride his "car car", and I would have his baby brother in the Baby Bjorn, and we would walk the whole neighborhood, looking at flowers, butterflies and doggies - playing dollies and tea party with my 22 mo. old, who is just discovering her interests and likes to put her dollies to bed or feed her stuffed kitty or just have a snack with Mommy :-).

I write a lot down, and I take a lot of pictures and videos. I do get bogged down worrying about the house, the yard, school, extended family craziness, money and just being organized, but I really do try to remind myself all the time of the beauty in this life of mine. It's not hard to do - just have some momentary lapses now and then.

So... pontification and soapbox performance behind me.... time to move into my new realm and share what I've learned as a SAHM who embraces her responsibilities. I am grateful each day for how I've been forced to grow in this role and for the options it has opened for me. Of course, I can become a better cook - learn about organic gardening - read other blogs and individual perspectives on life - write my thoughts on people and life down - impart my retail savvy on others - start a business - become a volunteer - explore new careers - whatever.......

Some Sunshine and Some Retail

First the sunshine - my beautiful kids at the beach!

Then - the retail (just a little bit - have been meaning to post some stuff in time for back to school but my brood is incredibly high maintenance these days)....

Requires some leg work but is a great community of helpful shoppers who post a lot and does have some good coupon-type assistance in the way of free shipping, some percentage off ,etc. - huge variety of retailers: http://www.retailmenot.com

Members only sites with some great trendy designer buys. Get on a waiting list and wait for the OK (a little obnoxious but worth it, I'm told - wouldn't know personally as I am still on list, but...). Endorsed / promoted by Real Simple mag: http://www.giltgroupe.com and http://www.giltfuse.com .

19 August 2009

I might not be perfect, but...

... there are definitely some things I feel certain I will never do to my children. I mean, there are days that I feel unhinged - upset - at the end of my rope, and I may over-react to the tenth slap fight of the day between the toddler and the preschooler - I may get sarcastic when I view the daily pile of dirty dishes and recyclable cans from my middle schooler's room sitting, yet again, on the sink for me to dispose of - I may vent a bit to my husband when I've been alone all day cleaning poopy pants, wiping spilled food, picking up piles of toys and, again, breaking up those awful, awful fights. I may even sulk when I have the luxury of sitting at the pool and tennis club we belong too, but.... find myself unable to pry my little ones from the baby pool and have to sit and bake in the hot sun - no drink - no conversation - no friends in sight willing to hang out with me. And I know I've immersed myself in self-pity before over the fact that I've found boots, jeans, a cool bag, funky shoes - something I "love" online but can't buy because my allotted spending for the month went elsewhere (yes - probably the kids) and had gone elsewhere for over a year prior to that (and, of course, I should be happy to have any disposable income AT ALL).

To be fair - today was a hard day, so.... I'm mopey... and feeling ridiculous. I have my health - I have a beautiful family - I have a great life, but... I also have to admit that, yes, when I broke up at least five slugfest fights, didn't eat anything but the scraps I got off the kids' lunch and dinner plates, didn't shower and had to wear my husband's jeans again because mine don't fit, had every single phone call or conversation with the neighbors interrupted with shrill screaming or crying and then, when I thought the day had ended, had to mop up two inches of water after a particularly animated bath, had to throw away a beloved toy found broken upstairs and had to rematch all the DVDs with their covers because the baby had separated them all and thrown them all over her brothers' room - all knowing that I was missing my only favorite show, that my husband wasn't coming home until late, that my 13 year old had a more active social life than I do and that, on top of it all, I looked terrible and had a migraine coming on with no sign of Tylenol or Motrin in the house ... that, yes, I cried - I sat and cried - and I didn't / couldn't hide it from the kids - had to wipe the tears, pull myself together and say - "Mommy is just tired. Now who wants a brownie and let's pick out a book to read for bedtime in a bit."

So that's what I do - the mistakes I make on occasion ... but here's what I KNOW I won't do:

I won't ever make a child feel like his / her best effort wasn't good enough (it is OK to color outside the lines) - I will not encourage one or more in the family to laugh at another, prompting them to notice how he / she is sooooo sensitive.

I won't ever ostentatiously apologize for having a "favorite" because I find the favorite game appalling and strange and only for those looking for faults in others (and their children - tsk tsk) - in other words, I won't have a favorite.

I won't ever make any of my children feel that his / her opinion is not valid because he / she shares different political, social or other views than I do.

I will never tell one of my children that he / she has become "too independent".

I will never make any of them feel excluded because of proximity - you live far away so you are no longer welcome at my table for dinner - or you'll just have to understand that your brothers and sisters aren't going to invite you for parties or holidays anymore - I mean they live near ME, right? Wrong - it shouldn't matter.

I will never deprive any of them of the memories, the comforts, the important pieces of their lives and pasts (from posters and photos to memories of glory days on the basketball court or dance studio) that they will cherish as adults.

I will never make one feel like the "sole heir", the more loyal daughter, the oldest male, the coddled youngest, the one with the cutest grandchildren, etc. - i.e. I don't do the selfish and directed distribution of heirlooms to the worthy, and I don't deliberately make anyone feel excluded or like the proverbial "black sheep" (so many people LOVE that game - particularly with family members).

I will not turn my back on their pain. I may not understand how they feel - what they are saying to me or why they feel / need to disclose either. I will at least validate it by listening.

I will not turn my back on their love. I will try to understand that sometimes people show it in different ways. Asking to hear how much someone is like his or her father is not competing with siblings but, rather, a way to find his / her place in the family - a way to validate an intense closeness he or she might still feel even if that parent is no longer around. Trying to look on the bright side, cheerfully chiding brothers, mediating hurt feelings and misunderstandings is sometimes not pushy and "know it all" but, rather loving and / or an awkward way to show solidarity or feelings.

I will not make secret plans behind someone's back - including one sibling but not another nor will I gossip about a child and his or her spouse or children - I may discuss someone out of concern or voice an opinion, but I will not kvetch and complain until one or more people are, effectively, ostracized. The pain of feeling unwelcome when you so desperately want to belong is just terrible.

I will never administer "the silent treatment". No matter who it is - you never know how long you have with that person. Cherish all of your moments with ALL of your friends and family. Play, laugh, argue, cry - whatever - nothing will ever replace that unique relationship or that special person when it or he / she is gone.

I will never tell any of them that they or a life decision is "stupid". And - yes - people do that. On a similar note, I will never make their spouses, significant others or anyone important to them feel unworthy, unwelcome or excluded.

I will never lie to them ... though who knows what lengths I will go to to protect them....

Not everyday can be perfect, but... in the scheme of things.... they can all be pretty great. I mean, it may be maddening that our preschoolers end up in the "big bed" with Daddy and the baby ends up on the couch with me, but... I always tell my husband... someday we'll miss that cuddling and safe closeness. Mommy and Daddy make it all better.

04 August 2009

The beauty of random musings...

In this spirit, I think I have to go back to my old "schedule". While I appreciate daily disciplines, I have to accept the fact that I am a random thinker - more prone to thinking, info gathering and analyzing before recording. I mean, my boys and I did a book this summer (early) and were successful in the endeavor because I had a distant hard deadline but.. within that... did not stress over who did what or what got done. The older one told the story - the younger one interpreted it in drawings - and I wrote it all down. The girls added finishing signatures and binding ideas (well - the older one did anyway - the youngest just scribbled a little and loved it).

So... one last "photo of the day" (which, hopefully, illustrates how when you're outside - doing, absorbing, experiencing people, nature - whatever - life is good - happy, wholesome, open, etc. - it's really just a ski photo but a very good day / memory) - after that, it will occur when the mood hits me. And... one last musing for the day :-). Former PETA girl that I am... I cannot bring myself to condone killing the mice that plague the right (or left - depending on how you look at it) side of our house (basement stairs, kitchen pantry, deck, etc.). They seem so intelligent, feisty and, yes, comfortable. How can I ruin that? I can't even bring myself to throw out the bucket of shells that has filled with water and now seems to be home to some tadpoles.

Anyway - off to get my little ones outside - play in our attic room - read some new books we've discovered.....

03 August 2009


OK - so my two oldests are doing camp this week - one the "magical" Sheldon Calvary Camp on the lake in Conneaut, Ohio - the other the kindergarten prep week at St. Bede School. I'm home with the two youngests all week, and... believe me... it will be interesting.

The older two (a boy and a girl) are self-directed, focused, independent kids. The younger (a boy and a girl) two are prone to tantrums, like to fight and enjoy getting into trouble (i.e. throwing toys as opposed to playing with them - the three year old is an amazing little artist yet he would rather scribble on both he and his little sister's arms, legs, etc. with a marker - and... usually, I would laugh, but their collective lightening speed in getting into these situations is alarming!!!;-).

Anyway..... have been looking at the camp web site off and on to check in on the 13 year old (looks likes she's having a great time - we are, incidentally, not allowed to contact them while there), and... I've been preparing myself for the inevitable hole that the 4 (soon to be 5) year old will leave when he's gone all day (my sweet little guy - for the past two years, I have been anxiously racing to get him midday when preschool ends - his presence is a calming one - and, for some reason, he feels like my baby - we waited so long to have another baby after the first - almost 8 yrs, and we were all so excited for him - and he is so gentle - I don't know - I think even my 13 year old feels that way - that our little guy is growing up - leaving the two wild ones to handle :-). I'll miss having all 4 around, I guess (won't miss the piles of laundry, dishes and debris that having them all home all summer brings).

A transition week, I guess.....

01 August 2009

A broken glass...

... but it was more than just a glass. It was a little link to a perfect memory - years ago - "antiquing" with my parents and my oldest, who was only 4 at the time. I happened upon these cute little frosted juice glasses - coffee-colored with a little opaque white stem. It seemed I had seen or drank from glasses like that as a kid. I liked them - my Mom agreed (which was nice) - and my Dad (who I no longer have) bought them for me. Silly. Now... all but one are broken. Life in a house of kids, I guess. My Dad would approve. I can hear him now telling me that they are only material belongings.... and that... that is how life is... things broken... things fixed.... happy days....sad days....