31 January 2010

Gone Fishin'

Not really. Just going to take a short break. Maybe a few days - maybe longer - will have to see.

If you can't say something nice - don't say anything at all. This is where I find myself lately.

Feeling a little sad too. The one true champion in my life is no longer here. My Dad. He really thought I was special. He was a great person. I try to live everyday in his example, and I don't do a very good job. It will be almost 4 years now since he died. He died 10 Feb - A Friday. We buried him on Valentine's Day. I have so much I want to say; I just don't know how to say it.

Bye for now - for a while.

Photo: My parents, just before my Dad got sick, with my Olivia and my Enzo. I wish I had more digital pictures (have others from my old Nikon - need to get that scanner out :-) of my healthy Dad - the runner, the cigar smoker, the big International executive, the down to earth friend, neighbor, father, husband - the loving grandfather (he and Olivia had such a special relationship - and, now, as she prepares to make her confirmation this week, it is a little sad because, while his family will be here and while she's taken his mother's name - Veronica - as her confirmation name, he won't be here, and it would have been important to him. Of course, I'll wear his ruby ring - I do when I want to feel his presence - and I'll look for signs that he's watching....:-).

29 January 2010

JD Salinger and a melancholy post

So - JD Salinger, beloved author of several books and many unfinished manuscripts, has died. Of course, we mostly know him as our Catcher in the Rye. And... while his presence will be missed, it's odd because we hardly knew him - reclusive, private, most people who aren't given to pay attention to the literary world probably thought he was already dead. But - isn't it like Holden Caulfield has died? And - doesn't that upset you? He reached old age (91!)- no longer that youthful rebellious soul for whom we all felt... well.. something... Shocking that Holden - JD - with all those profound, brave and unusual thoughts is no longer here - he's gone.

I mean, we've all read The Catcher in the Rye (if you haven't - I don't want to know - can't imagine it really). So... obviously, Holden will ALWAYS be with us. On those days when you don't know what is expected of you in terms of how you fit in the world, with other people, etc. - think of that beautiful moment in the book when he tells us what he wants to do or be - the one who catches the kids as they play and run in the rye - sort of the one who keeps the child safe - away from the world beyond the rye - in the simplest form of the idea.... There's more....but for now, I guess we just say "good-bye" to Jerome David Salinger. Those of us who often feel that we don't belong - even though we're no longer teenagers :-) like Holden - will really miss him.

How's this for a memorable line from the book?: "Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody."

27 January 2010

Olivia's Birthday Tomorrow

She is officially 14. Usually, we take a picture at around 10 am - or at least in the morning sometime - one of her and then the two of us together. It is approximately the time she was born. I have a booklet filled of such photos - have tapered off over the years as have the little bits of life that year that I cut and paste to these photo-filled pages (the word Gerber - a piece of her first dance recital program - a label from one of her favorite foods - can't help it- it's the OCD in me).

So - tomorrow will be the last time we send in cupcakes for the class - the last time we donate a book to her beloved school's library in honor of her b-day. An era has passed :-).

Her friends will still scrapbook for her - she'll get her gifts - we'll order special (as she says, "designer") red velvet cupcakes with pink and green glittery sprinkles from Vanilla Pastry Studio for the candles that her little brothers and sisters will surely want her to blow out (after her favorite - PF Chang's takeout, of course). We have designer bags and perfume (lovingly carried through the store by Milo and Lil) and accessories for her iPod and Enzo picked out a special "diamond" ring for her - spending money, movies, etc. - all stuff that will make her happy.

But - she is growing up.

Photos: The three Olivias - friends for life, I think :-).

26 January 2010

"Simple Pleasures" in action

A Starbucks latte this morning - wore a favorite sweater (and my hair looked OK) - money to school for Haiti fundraiser - a get to know you chat with Enzo's kindergarten teacher over steamy mugs on the chilly playground while the class played - Milo had a good day at preschool - Lilliana ("i had fun, mommy") enjoyed play group (and has begun drinking her juice and eating all her "good eater" foods again after a lull) - a friendly, chatty, helpful trip to Whole Foods (came home and like... became a fan on Facebook immediately - I'm such a loser) - spent time midday with hubby - talked exciting gift ideas for Olivia's b-day - had a fun chat with Olivia after school (she is usually proud when I am enmeshed in such projects as teacher breakfast organization, lunch for confirmation class, help with school pasta dinner, etc.) - had hot soup and crusty baguette for an early dinner - Enzo knocked my socks off with his "spelling" exercise tonight (and, of course, Olivia is on honor roll - makes her happy so makes me happy) - fed little ones waffles, bacon and juice on trays fireside late pm (actually got a "hip, hip hooray for mommy!") - and.... looking forward to an actual warm, steamy shower (instead of the 60 sec. wash self quickly types reminiscent of either prison or when I used to swim in high school and had 5 min. to shower, dress and get to class).

When you start counting the good... it is easy to forget the bad (the finger cut while making waffles - sure saw hubby midday but he's got a meeting over beers and hotdogs at Ds tonight and I'll probably just watch Food Network after the "dinner, bed, bathtime" routine on my own :-) - Lilliana is currently engaged in some maddening water play that leaves dangerous puddles throughout the house - Yin and Yang, right? - but.... I digress ;-).

Photo: My laid back Enzo found two eggs on his Easter egg hunt last year and he was so proud. He didn't realize that everyone else had like 2o or 30 in their baskets. Simple pleasures...

25 January 2010

The short order cook visits a confessional, raids the "attic" and more

A short story by Sherri? Not really. So - like any other day, I made dinner (after making a surreal appointment with a boarding school for my daughter... yeah...:-0) - twice-baked potatoes for Olivia, pasta for Enzo, bacon for Milo, cereal and apples for Lilliana - Marcello poked around and found pasta, garlic bread, tea, ice cream.... I was in a hurry....

I had to attend a prayer and reflection ceremony for Olivia's upcoming confirmation this evening. As the honored stand-in sponsor (this is cool for me - I've never been maid of honor - never a Godparent... this is a first - albeit a "stand-in" first) for a friend of hers, I sat with the confirmation class. As a result... and....after watching other sponsors go to "confession" (we Catholics know it as the sacrament of Reconciliation - nerve-racking meetings with priests in which we confess our sins), I decided to go. I've never actually thought it was that bad - AND, oddly, I prefer face to face with the priest - none of this behind the screen nonsense. I've had some interesting conversations in my day - a brief encounter with becoming a complete non-believer as a teenager trying to come to terms with a horrific plane crash that took the lives of people we knew - kids who rode my school bus - resulted in a long, warm, enlightening conversation with an elderly Irish priest who did make me feel better. There have been other moments - a referral to a feminist writer from another priest, sorry that I felt so bad (read: angry) that my mother discounted the good grades and independence of girls (you'll just end up doing what your husband tells you - brains or not - and, please, this is how my college-age self heard all that my mom, my aunts, etc. were trying to impart on me - I'm sure it wasn't REALLY that harsh). Anyway, this time, I had to say it had been a long time - as I put it, before my father died. I talked honestly, as I always do, about impatience, my frustration and subsequent anger over the fact that some close to the family appear to intensely dislike me. Hurts. My penance was to think about my fears and my desires. What I want / don't want - basically. I shouldn't be talking about this.... I CAN say that I felt very vulnerable - and I think I needed to.

At home, I began the ugly business of signing the paperwork to declare my poor Jetta a goner. I had to find the title, and .... in the process, stumbled onto Olivia's baby ultrasound pictures; the guy in the Kinko's I took them to got so excited when he saw them that he turned them into a laminated like poster thing - which was fine because, at the time, I was in a lonely relationship, and I was the only one who cared - and he made me happy, photo negatives from a long ago trip to Europe (I have one of a field of endless sunflowers in the Loire Valley), my college diploma, some old journals with sappy, sappy thoughts in them, a booklet from my beautiful friend, Audrey's, memorial service. She died way too young - of breast cancer. I found the invitation to my baby shower when I was pregnant with Enzo; my sister-in-laws didn't want my name on it - Lilliana's social security card that is currently incorrect and... I've been meaning to change it for almost two years..... Wow... the juxtaposition of all these "THINGS".

I have this little key that opens my "safe" - have had it for years - a little beaded girl on a chain (I love beads - oh and colored stones) - and... I lost her today, after having her for years (did I say that?) - lost the keeper to all my secrets - still have the key - the little beaded girl is gone. Anyway, weirded me out enough to make me wary of everything. Like... the cap on the milk that I bought on the way home cracked and made the milk spill a bit tonight. Right away - I thought - should I check it for poison? Yeah - weird. Like my world turned upside down due to a series of inconsequential occurrences. Gotta get my bearings.

The photo? Lil turning her camera on us for once :-). Should help me get my bearings. I can tell you this - the fact that my little guys missed me helps too. When I got home, my Milo was full of stories of how his stuffed tiger, Rintu, from Cai-lan, makes him sleep better - and Enzo hugged me and told me how he loves watching Shrek with me and how the bird blows up while he's singing and we all laugh. I did laugh a lot with Olivia tonight too.

News of the World - News of the Home

Today, another plane load of Haitian orphans arrived in Florida - encouraging that they are getting some of the children out of the country (hold ups frustrating - though movement is good). Sad, of course, that the effort has become a recovery mission, at this point. Little hope of any additional survivors... awful. I am proud to report that a mission of 80+ doctors is being dispatched from Pittsburgh with massive amounts of medical supplies. I am also relieved to report that most of my close acquaintances, friends and family have donated or offered help in some way - which means that the same must be true across our country and the world, right? We can only hope. The response has been massive. Of course, during this awful time, we hear reports of a plane crash ... Ethiopia Air off the coast of Lebanon. More "he said / she said" kinda talk with the Republicans and Democrats - silly stuff like the Pitt-Jolies breaking up. Head swimming, I remain hopeful that everyone will stay vigilant on "tasks at hand" - help Haiti - open your eyes to the world - focus on your community - allow the President to do his job (Democrats are more sensitive to all the road blocks when our prez is in - likewise for Republicans, I'm sure).

One of those days.... had a freelance client call this morning - handled while playing the Wii with Milo - feeding Lil cereal. Need to talk outside web site project as well as important family finance opportunity with hubby - have school thing with Olivia tonight - additional homework practice with Enzo after school - need to stay somewhat in "provide clean clothes and environment as well as food to gang" mode while doing clean-up of newly painted boys room - invitations for Olivia's confirmation and applications and forms to all of her high school choices (not to mention planning for her big 14th birthday coming up this week, and... satisfying a REAL need for some new dressy shoes :-) - coordination of teacher breakfast at school and help in kindergarten tomorrow, etc. Shoveling in some food to stay "carbed up" - no shower - just changed into workout clothes to stay limber and agile :-), and.... well - handlin' it, right? As is sadly the case these past few weeks, more thoughts going out to friends and loved ones with news of illness, loss and other hardship - too many stories to detail this month.

Have a good day, all.

23 January 2010

Looks like fun

I joined a new recipe and food blog site called The Mixing Bowl.

Looks like fun....

Simple Pleasures

Although I do write about my day to day most of the time, AND most of the time that does include a search for my peace - my zen - albeit through all the chaos and activity I endure (cue violins, right?), I sometimes really do not notice that within these celebrations of the mundane - the regular - the comfortable - is a real pure enjoyment of the simple pleasures - AND it is where many of us connect. A friend and reader (a dance friend from years ago with whom I am SO glad to have reconnected) has just relayed, in passing - a simple note to me - that she read a Dec post - felt I lived her life day to day - appreciated the snow falling in my "night out" post and was enjoying her own moment watching her husband shovel snow through the window in her PJs. I just love it. I valued her friendship back when we sweated through ballet and jazz together, and I am so thrilled to hear about her life now - miles away - after many years - through photos - messages now and then - comments on my musings and family albums :-).

Similarly, I wrote a short blurb about my Lilliana turning two back on a leafy, windy Oct evening. I rambled on for a couple lines - lamenting the loss of the baby in her - fascinated by the little girl emerging - a little melancholy about the walk I didn't take with her. I left it - incomplete, hanging there - sorta like my emotions, ya know :-) (tear), and... a member of the mother's group I referenced briefly sent me a quick, succinct but heartfelt message that I had touched her and she felt the same about her little one. I didn't know her, but I really appreciated that she reached out, and I just had this incredible soft spot for what she was feeling at the same time I was. I consciously thought - I LOVE these connections.

It occurs to me now that it would be a real honor to hear some stories - some pieces of daily life. I would love to see some here, and I just don't know how to begin gathering or prompting some sharing :-).

Anyway, thanks, Tracey, for letting me steal your words (didn't you say "simple pleasures"). In the spirit of that phrase - my posting title - I will say that I had the best time last night just eating Oreos and reading books with Enzo. I recall a late, late night doing funky dance moves and engaging in some silly girl talk with Olivia and a friend in our kitchen as we ate something yukky but good like gooey cookies or something. My husband and I actually went to a movie this weekend and shared a milkshake. Don't dig too deep, everyone - just share. I would love a dialogue befitting a trendy cafe ;-).

22 January 2010

Talk to a famous person....

Hope for Haiti - on TV - many channels to choose from.... 1-877-99-HAITI

Also - www.hopeforhaitinow.org

A Parenting Question

Does anyone else feel guilty and / or confused when your kids appear to be occupying themselves - albeit a bit passively - and you find yourself milling about trying to be "productive"?

Here's a scenario : Today, I don't feel good - stuffy head, stomach a little queasy, sore throat, headache, etc. I am also sleep-deprived and woozy. So.... I have been very slowly going about my daily routine - hang with kids, clean up a little something, make a little lunch, tie up some school or freelance business loose ends, etc. Currently, my Milo is in full Indiana Jones costume (hat, shirt, whip - you name it) - kinda talking to himself - every now and then strikes a martial arts pose of some kind - wandering the house - somersaulting, etc. (also - on occasion - like if I offer a snack or something, "Indiana Jones" shows me how strong and smart he is in some "helpful" way :-). Lilliana has kinda / sorta joined him - is wearing the super hero cape (odd cuz Milo usually wears that with everything) - wanders to the dinosaurs & attempts to alternately growl at or nurture the plastic T-Rexes & Brontos -then she'll like growl at me and be on her way. All my attempts at puzzles, cookie baking, sitting on my lap to watch a movie, etc. are being rebuffed BUT... they don't want me to go upstairs and finish organizing the newly painted boys' room - or they don't want me to be in the kitchen unloading the dishwasher YET AGAIN (family of 6 - the dirty dish thing is killing me!) - I can't answer email - It appears they want me to watch them or stay close in case I'm "needed". I'm like in limbo (of course - it could have been all that cold medicine I took - kidding - I do NOT take cold medication - me and antihistamines, etc. do NOT mix - feel all that stuff overmedicates with no real results anyway. Digressing - sorry ....). So - what to do? My big fear / guilt thing right now is that he's waiting for big bro, Enzo, to play, and... Enzo is going to a friend's after school. I really wish I had a Plan B today... or a Plan A, for that matter. Help?

Some notes amid the morning chaos.

Need some laughs this morning - thought you might too.

After a short car ride to school yesterday, Marcello dropped out boys off - Enzo to kindergarten - Milo to preschool - only to hear Milo, all the way down the hall, singing "Pants on the Ground" to his entire class and teachers. Now, if you are not familiar with this 60+ yr old guy who auditioned for American Idol and the ensuing remixes and subsequent radio play of his original audition song, you simply must go to U-Tube for the full effect and search. I have a feeling "Pants on the Ground" will deliver many search results. OK - then... picture a 4 year old performing it at top volume to the class :-).

Also, later in the day, I watched part of Enzo's tennis class. He ran over to me, asked me if I liked bananas then proudly gave me a banana sticker he had been saving for me. Big smile. This didn't give me a laugh, but... it sure was sweet.

In closing, while I appreciate that Trader Joe's lollipops are organic and made with real fruit juice, I am disheartened by the fact that my two youngests are OBSESSED with them and treat them like meal replacements. It's like they can smell them in the house or something....

Keep cheering - keep supporting...

All efforts in Haiti, that is. The situation is still "a desperate struggle to survive". Doctors without Borders is there setting up an inflatable hospital - People across the country have their eye on what to do to help (remember, it was rumblings from across the country who sparked the orphanage help when adoptive parents expressed concern about their adopted children - PA - Pittsburgh, specifically - jumped to action - as did others).

It is not time to sit back and pat ourselves on the back for pulling for the Bresma kids (though Jamie and Ali who run the orphanage deserve a hug pat on the back for what they do daily) ; it is time to keep donating, staying aware, helping when we can, supporting those doing great work there now - and thinking of those suffering so much. There are still many children there, some newly orphaned (just saw a year old infant, thin but bright-eyed - so sweet - lying on a blanket in a makeshift tent out in the open). Eyes and ears open, all. Now is the time to step out of your comfort zone and do something you've never done before. Donate more money than you ever have to a cause, think about volunteering somehow - never stop reading, watching, etc. for updates.

In fact, Pittsburgh (and other cities / people - just saw a celebrity involved with one - ???? - will reaearch and get back to you :-) has a shoe drive for Haiti going..... I'm looking for that url now... will post later... enmeshed in morning of chaos :-)...

21 January 2010

Another recipe

This is such an easy and tasty recipe, I have to share:

Chicken and Leek Pie (a variation of an original Jamie Oliver recipe - he uses wine, sausage, dark meat chicken - and... I don't - plus I add more leeks, carrots and celery and make the sauce a little thicker) -

1 lb diced white meat chicken
couple tbsps. extra virgin olive oil
a couple (I'll use Jamie's word here) knobs of butter
4 leeks (chopped - really washed carefully - can be gritty)
3 carrots (peeled, chopped - big pieces are tasty)
3 stalks of celery (a more fine chop on this)
handful fresh thyme (no stems!)
a few tbsps. flour
cup of milk
cup of water

Olive oil, butter, chicken, leeks, carrots, celery, thyme in pan. Saute for 15 min. on medium heat (let it cook - stir now and then, really). Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sprinkle flour - turn up heat - add water and milk - mix it up - taste (everything is fully cooked) - salt and pepper. Cook 30 min.or so on stovetop - give or take - chicken should be tender. Pour into pie dish - cover with ready-made puff pastry - egg wash it - pop in oven for 30 - 45 min. (watch top so it doesn't burn). Good with mashed potatoes. Kids will eat it - lots of veggies.... Great as leftoevers - can make two at a time. Need I say more?

Happy cooking / eating.

Guilty pleasures, and ... a bitchy note on NBC

Ok - so I'm late to this, but... I am now totally into Project Runway AND Launch my Line. I am so new to it all that I am having trouble determining what network airs the original new episodes and which one I'm viewing as "last season". Like - did I really watch Project Runway at midnight on Lifetime last night? Heidi, Tim and the gang (oh - that Michael Kors is bitchy. Am I stuck on that word or what today?)? Anyway - I am in awe of what these just aspiring designers can sew! Launch my Line is more up my alley (Bravo - Wed. at 10 pm??? - Man oh man - sorry, all - I need to be a better couch potato - will solidify my day and time recommendations asap ;-). These are everyday people who get an "expert" to help them sew, execute their fashion vision, even creatively concept a bit (of course, they have jobs like stylist, marketing vp, etc. so are established self-driven types anyway - still... kinda seeing myself in them :-). Because it is a team or partner effort - dare I say - the designs sometimes come out better than the prototypes on Project Runway (yikes, I know the latter has many fans - better watch my mouth).

And... in closing.... is the whole Conan / Jay NBC Tonight Show / not the Tonight Show - whatever a TOTAL MESS? What an embarassing, rotten, selfish, disloyal freakin' nightmare the "bosses" over there have created. I mean... in the midst of all the bad news in the world, the entertainment world can't keep it together. Come on! Can't blame Conan one bit. I know as sure as I know that "you're old, you're fat, you shouldn't have any more babies because you don't earn your keep" (or something to that effect) is an unkind comment in any context or environment (a little insight into why hubby and I often choose time alone with our own little blissful family instead of the whole "gang", by the way ;-) that he was WRONGED. Just caught my attention....

Photo: My fashion forward, trendsetting peanut, Olivia, several years ago.... Geez... probably when Enzo was born :-) - on her way to some hip grade school event ;-).

20 January 2010


Seems to be everyone today :-(.

19 January 2010

Bresma Mission Orphanage ... still room for help.

For those following the Bresma Mission story (and the subsequent delivery of the children here in Pittsburgh) - who are getting a little confused about how to help... you can contact the organizers directly: BRESMAMISSION@GMAIL.COM

At this point, it is difficult to tell whether or not they are going to be quarantined or placed into homes immediately. I know there is a Facebook page with over 11,000 members (from the past few days!) - pages of pages of people willing to foster. As I said before, I know a family on deck to help, etc. Anyway - thus far, it is unclear whether or not they will follow protocol regarding certification and licensing to foster (I'm sure they will). The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Catholic Charities is going to be handling placement here in the states. They are pretty speedy - provided the kids are healthy and ready to place. I believe, per the message that is sent when you do make direct email contact, that the children are not available for adoption (either already in progress or starting from square one, which, as someone familiar with the adoption process, I can understand), and they are all being eventually placed in group homes to stay together.

The response to foster and / or get them out of Haiti may currently be overwhelming to the organizers in terms of answering the calls to help. I know from a good source that the kids are being photographed for the possibility of a story in the New York Times. Granted, there has been a lot of media attention thus far, but... now that they are here, it could be wide open after the story and photos are out.

It might be worth a try to email directly and even offer help in the form of cribs, baby supplies, etc. (and I say that knowing that so many have offered monetary and other supply-related help). Again, per the message that you will receive when you make direct contact, they are not accepting money or supplies currently but are "not out of the woods yet" (which means, to me, to stay posted - the Facebook page is a good place to start.

Wow - so nice to see people pulling together.

Things I know for sure ... (today anyway :-)...

If you have an antique apothecary table instead of a regular bathroom sink and have taken the time to refinish the front of it with funky, cool crackle paint, your kids WILL eventually peel it off little by little until it looks really bad (similarly - if you have a circa 1930's radio that looks more like a little dresser with knobs and netting at toddler / preschool eye level, well, you get the picture....).

Clementines (are they oranges - are they tangerines??) are quite tasty, and they don't add fat, etc. like chocolate (I have denied similar thoughts on chocolate for a long time - prefer the anti-oxidant argument for cocoa - more than blueberries, right? ;-).

When my Milo doesn't want to go to preschool, there is no persuading him. We will be home today, making rice krispie treats and playing checkers. He is NOT going to go.

Watching the image of a little girl in Haiti, around my Lilliana's age, reach out to every woman who walks by, crying, because she's just lost her mother in the earthquake completely breaks my heart, as it should. Watching the look on my Milo's face as he tries to comprehend the tragedy and the help that is needed is... well... I don't have words right now. Let's just say I'm happy that he understands human compassion on some level. He's pretty sensitive. Sensing fear or that something is wrong gives him nightmares.

Realizing that I agree with this premise: forgiveness does not mean reconciliation. Forgiveness means letting go of toxic, negative feelings and moving on to live your best life and passing on / communicating that to others. It is often a hard decision whether or not to let someone back close to you or your children when they have caused pain. Will it happen again? Does it open the door for more difficulties? Is it the best decision? Do they need to move on and live their best life? Can closeness be limited? It is definitely not a black and white situation as it seems most people believe.

Happy Tuesday....

18 January 2010

Catholic Charities

It appears the orphans in Haiti will be boarding a plane for the US very soon. Catholic Charities will be handling placement of the children. I have to admit - I have a little soft spot for Catholic Charities. I, myself, was adopted through the organization YEARS ago :-). My Mom tells me that they had me all dressed up for my big arrival (the social worker and his daughter drove me to my new parents in their own car), but that they asked if my parents could change me into a new outfit because they needed what I was wearing for another baby. Shoestring budget, I guess. Donations to all these organizations go a long way :-).

A beach thought.... to brighten our Jan. mood....

An MLK moment

So my kindergartner knew we were off school today because "it was someone's birthday". He then proceeded to describe the person and his good deeds. The name occasionally escaped him - though he mostly knew he was talking about "Dr. King" - but the deeds seemed to definitely stick with him :-).

My middle schooler found her confirmation dress (Catholic school - Catholic responsibilities ;-). I attempted to help - drove to mall - embarrassed her in store after store until taking little ones to play area and to lunch then directly to car - in shame, as usual. Left her with wad of cash and time with her friends. Hopefully all good. Thank you to her friend, Olivia B's, mom for being there :-). Another MLK Day moment anyway....

Starbucks and more

Yet another place to make a donation to Haiti. Wyclef Jean's (remember the Fugees? Though he does his own work now. Lauren Hill - LOVED that girl - wish she would come back from la la land - and I mean that in the nicest possible way) message is now on the home page, and you don't have to buy anything to donate.


Also, a friend donated at the below link:


And, as promised, here is a Unicef donation page / form:


And... also... That's Church has an update on the orphanage situation at:


17 January 2010

Hopefully (semi) helpful Haiti update....

Regarding the earthquake in Haiti, I have been inundated with places to donate - where to help, etc. For example, I posted something about the Pittsburgh woman who has the orphanages in Haiti that were destroyed, and I think we all saw the PPG article on her; however, while the article was rich in info., I didn't give a lot of help regarding how to help - specifically. It's not that people are being negligent - it just appears that there is some holdup - particularly when it involves removing people from the area or reacting when not all info. is in (people located, not all relief money and supplies flowing yet....).

Now... back to my original statement that there are many places to donate, and... there are. Ask where, and you get conflicting (well-intentioned - don't get me wrong) opinions on where is best. Unicef is a good place to start (forgive me - I need to gather here - have a couple of donation options / pages / links) as are other groups that have a ground presence already established (our church / my kids' school has cited Catholic Relief as one of those). Anyway... I have received some recommendations from others and will post, as I said, ASAP. I figure you all checked out the first wave of recommendations - I will be part of the second :-), which.... as we learned with Hurricane Katrina - the aid needs to be ongoing (I mean - for that - we were sending school supplies in back packs well after the actual disaster - much to my daughter's chagrin - she wanted them to go out RIGHT AWAY, but... we had to wait). I'm listing this as "community" because, as we know, it is all part of our WORLD COMMUNITY, isn't it?

Thanks, all. I'm distracted but trying to help a bit.... Hope I sound helpful (even just lucid ;-).

Help for Haiti

I do plan to post some donation and information links that I have been made aware of over the past few days, but... in the meantime, check out two blogs on my page - Amy at Callapitter and That's Church (right up top - a new addition). Both are providing much better updates as well as donation information. Late-breaking details involve a Pittsburgh woman and her orphanage that was destroyed. Late last night, I received word that a friend may be fostering a child from Haiti (from an infant to a teenager - not sure yet), and I'm wondering if this is related (i.e. this is some way to help with that particular facet of this HUGE trajedy). When I get more details, I will post.

15 January 2010

A New "Thang"...

It's the simplest of premises - really, but... for me - pretty "nouveau". Prompted by a preschool play date for Milo and faced with a bedroom being painted / in progress - whatever, I brought dinosaurs, cars, a song mat, games, art stuff, musical instruments, etc. downstairs - spread them about - turned the TV OFF, and... let my little ones go. I had to "demonstrate" a bit - cut out some Play-doh "cookies" & put them in the toy oven - set up the dinosaurs on a makeshift "mountain", etc. I'm not worried about clean-up - I'm not worried about toys being out of place - I'm not worried about occupying and / or engaging my kids. Guilt-free, I had lunch sitting down instead of running today - plus I actually started to organize my own personal 2010 business (and, as "CEO" of the home - that "personal" business is really more family-oriented - have been missing doctor's appointments, school events, etc. lately, and it has to stop - I mean, I am an efficient person - enough is enough!). I got them outside for fresh air by throwing on coats and boots (no hats - no snow pants, etc.) - did not worry about mud or water - just took magnifying glasses and went for a walk. I snuck a nutritious snack in with the warm cookies we baked - left the plates with some sippy cups full of milk on a tray amidst the play, and.. they ate it all - then put cups back in kitchen. Am I being lazy or teaching self-sufficiency?? You decide ;-).

I mean - think for a minute - how many of you have been up since before 6 am - packed lunches, distributed coats, school fees, notes and other "turn-in-ables", picked up the morning's wet shower towels, made the beds, put away snack dishes and other night time "stuff" from the evening before, cleaned up the breakfast dishes and other discarded bits of clothing or rejected items from back packs on the run - worked as a chaffeur and short order cook most of the day - missed your own lunch - took a lukewarm 5 min. shower just to wake yourself up - ignored the fact that you're operating on less than 5 hours of sleep - taken way too much Tylenol - broken up way too many fights - somehow engaged in numerous art projects - endless games of hide n seek - endless encounters with poopy pants, wet pull-ups (or worse, underwear :-), mess after mess after mess (the cereal the baby threw - the rice that dumped out of the fridge when preschooler grabbed a cup - peanut butter hands on the wall again!!) - managed to get some clothes washed, dishwasher unloaded, a couple of dust bunnies wiped up, kids picked up from various activities, dinner on deck to be made, and..... you look at the clock and it's not even 3 pm. Busy, busy nine hour day and still probably a few more hours left on the clock in addition to the homework, dinner, bed, bath, etc. routine - ??????

Photo: Hmmm..... I now remember putting the above mentioned technique into practice over the holidays. Here are some ready made cut-out cookies and some sprinkles - now go - have fun! Piles of crayons - markers - colored pencils dumped on dining room table with piles of printer paper - have fun! Just taped the "masterpieces" to the dining room wall so that I could free up time to cook, rest, smile, etc. Later.... I would feel refreshed enough to concentrate on kid-focused activities (i.e. actually enjoy pretend tea with Lil - really listen to one of Olivia's middle school stories or relax for books and movies at bedtime with the boys). It's too much to ask of mothers to be attentive and think of others first 24 / 7. It is not possible. Play-based development so important, but.. so is creating nourishing meals for the family - having clean clothes for them to wear, and.... still.... having time to clear your own head to be the best you can be for your family. Got that straight? I sure don't. Working on it.... And... oh no - I appear to be on my soap box again ;-).

13 January 2010

Happily deluded :-)

Quick - think of your top five "I'm kidding myself" moments from 2009. Here are mine:

1. Beginning to believe that I'm not losing baby weight due to "hormones".
2. Convincing myself that I CARE what negative people think of me.
3. Refusing to believe that my little Olivia is really going to be in high school.
4. Thinking "I don't think my nose looks any bigger than when I was a kid."
5. Hearing that Mario Batali, Michael Stipe and Gwyneth Paltrow were going on a culinary tour of Spain and immediately being miffed that NONE OF THEM HAD CALLED ME! Seriously...

12 January 2010

A Violet in the Snow

My Enzo was singing A Violet in the Snow this morning. They sing it each year in the kindergarten Christmas show, and it just makes me tear up each time. Those sweet, clear, honest little voices singing such poignant lyrics - "And God said my people need a friend." A friend. It just gets me - such a pure, simple thing to wish or to say. "So many years ago - in Bethlehem, a baby came.... like a violet in the snow." Or - is it savior? Nevertheless - beautiful. :-). Enzo was singing so softly - lying by the fire - ready for school - his little boy voice - his "l's" like "w's"... won't sound like that forever - though, hopefully, he'll carry such sentiments with him forever.

After we realized that our film of the boys' Christmas performances didn't turn out, we taped each of them singing some of their songs in the house. I'm glad. As a group, I forget what each little angel sounds like by himself. Anyway.... thanks to all who have offered help with new footage of the show.

I'm going to try to keep such simple and sincere sentiments with me all day. People need friends. It is best to be kind to someone - even if the mood doesn't fit at the moment. Honesty doesn't hurt either - just wish people wouldn't take things so personally. Anyway... have a good day :-), all. Sending good thoughts and energy to all middle school midterm test takers today!

11 January 2010

Happy Birthday, MF

It's my husband's birthday, today. He is 38. I've known him for almost a decade and a half now - doesn't seem possible. We have had an interesting go of it - many surprises - a couple hurdles - continued scrutiny - ongoing challenges - a lot of fun.

10 January 2010

Go Olivia!

Go St. Bede Girls Varsity B Team! What a shot. That's my girl :-). Just a little something from yesterday's game. Another today...

09 January 2010

A New Look!

What do you think? I'm experimenting.... making good on a resolution to upgrade some things on my blog a bit - may section some "stuff" off like food or retail (now onto resolution #133 or something, right?). Project ideas are great, but it is most important to stay readable, so... input very much appreciated (emailers - go ahead and comment right on the blog :-). I have fixed some links - got rid of strange header (all in a blogger's journey :-).

Now what to do? Probably tea in Lilliana's PINK room (with the pumpkin on the door that Enzo brought me when I had her two years ago. One of his first preschool art projects - he was so proud. It was next to her bassinet in the hospital - next to my bed at night while I recovered, nursed her, etc. - now on her door - like it's supposed to be there no matter the season or holiday :-). Looking forward to "tea" - "sit, Mommy." - then we stir and pour and chat and serve cookies that are really little multi-colored pick-up jax - the ball for the game long lost ;-).

08 January 2010

A trip to Costco

Just cracks me up. You would think it was Christmas again! Milo is carrying around the new Wii (the old one is "sick" - broken during a couple of post-Halloween shelf accidents - the first was a dramatic crash complete with crying kids, scraped nose, etc. - just minutes before costuming and trick or treating ON Halloween - shelf was not the same after that and has since been disposed of - thankfully. Anyway...) - Lilliana has a large package of croissants - Enzo has a throw rug and peanut butter.... Apparently, the best "stuff" ever!

Oh - I SO needed a laugh (got my first hostile comment on the blog today - I mean, I know people who block comments or don't accept them, but... I would rather see what people think, so.... can't complain. Besides, I think I know who it is now ;-). Moving on ... I see a trend emerging for 2010 in this house - intolerance for any kind of meanness. Sounds noble to me :-).

Photo is proof that everyone was OK post-crash (see aforementioned story :-) - two bump and bruise-free Indiana Jones', and... a few pals.

07 January 2010


The snow. Really enjoying my tea- my view from the window. Actually, just enjoyed a short walk in the very lightly - but very steadily falling snow. High 20's feels almost balmy given the low temps we've had lately. Just beautiful. Makes me think ski weekend :-).

Making a favorite family meal of mashed potatoes, bbq beef sandwiches, glazed carrots - chopping, stirring - smells so good. Very cozy in here - don't mind at all that our Christmas tree is still up - colored lights still glow through window. We can take care of all that this weekend. Time, now, to settle down and enjoy some quiet, cozy winter weather.

Kids doing homework and / or watching Curious George so I have a minute to think. The quiet and harmonious sibling interaction really makes up for Milo's familiar but horrible post-preschool tantrum earlier - along with a completely inappropriate and ridiculous snub from a mother's group I have dabbled in for almost two years now immediately following.

I harp on this all the time, but... stay safe. Snow is pretty but slippery ;-).

05 January 2010

Grand Plans...

... dashed today. No commitment to exercise or a new recipe or household organization or one on one time with kiddies.... NO - it was all forgotten lunches, school delays, broken hair dryers, emergency runs to the store, wet snow clothes, remnants of Christmas that won't go away (wait - I need to PUT that away :-) - Lilliana even head-butted Milo, knocking his tooth loose and making it bleed (averted trip to dentist after checking to see if it "tightened up", stopped bleeding, etc.). Excuses, excuses, right? As if in agreement with the tedious workload, my overloaded bulletin board crashed to the ground. I suppose I can always exercise, cook and organize late night.... Ingenuity, right?

Anyway - Milo is in love with a Care Bears DVD that my Mom found, so... I feel like I'm having a flashback (thoughts of old friends calling me "Sher-Bear" makes me smile), and... Enzo just told me that his small and large intestines hurt - either he's showing off his science knowledge or some kind of trouble is brewing.....

04 January 2010

Shocked, amazed and school lunches :-)...

Today is Christmas clean-up, a couple games of Trouble with the "babies" (also some pretend play - Casper the Ghost - dollhouse stuff - old Halloween artwork - have a baby doll wrapped up, Indiana Jones' whip out and a teaset :-), an attempt at a new chicken recipe and photo organization 101!!!!

On my mind: how dismayed and shocked I am (again) at some family members' hostile and dishonest behaviors BUT am happily joyful and amazed at almost all of our friends and acquaintances and their warm, helpful, supportive behaviors.... Just random thoughts.... sad in one respect (and actually not worth my breath, time or space - almost embarrassed for mentioning such family members - but, you know, if I can't "spank" then I need to vent :-) - unbelievably encouraging and great in the other.... And - have to say - watching Jack Black in a tight jumpsuit, dancing around on Yo Gabba Gabba (Noggin / Nick Jr. anyone?) is funny and disturbing enough to make me kinda / sorta forget aforementioned hostile family members :-).

And - seriously - school lunch ideas anyone? Here's what I've got: mac and cheese, pasta, spaghettios (sp?????), leftover shepherd's pie or soup in a thermos, carrots or sliced bell peppers with dip, salad, peanut butter or turkey on wheat, protein bars, pepperoni, string cheese, goldfish, Oreos or my freshly baked choc chip cookies, sun chips, crackers, Horizon organic choc milk, bottled water, pudding or yogurt, apples, grapes blueberries or bananas..... Need help (love it when Michelle at Natural Attachment - see link on my page - does her "Monkey Platters" - another " REALLY worth a look" endorsement from me ;-) - for what my opinion is worth, that is - another wink wink (seriously, I LOVE Michelle's monkey platters.... you'll see).

This is my 100th post, btw - can't believe it.... time flies...Thinking about renaming my blog cuz... it's not just moms that are in my "circle of people", so...

02 January 2010

This is good.

A Shepherd's Pie recipe.... easily executed as I wiped sticky candy cane hands (hmmm... reminds me - I am overdue for a "less than stellar parenting tip" ;-) and intercepted a series of family phone calls. Seems to taste pretty good....... going to be dinner tonight (I like these recipes that are fully cooked stovetop before they get the finishing bake in the oven - I get to taste away - add salt - veggies - whatever - customize to taste a bit). I used the recipe at below link - though, there are some other very good ones / links to access at Food Network - in hindsight, should have used one from a British chef (did substitute beef for lamb because I once heard both Gordon Ramsey and Jamie Oliver say to use any leftover ground meet or a combo meat, so.... took some liberties with Alton's recipe - his are always so easy, aren't they?). Oh - and I also made the potatoes a little more low-fat - no cream, no yolk (plus had to feed the mini masses some mashed potatoes as I worked, so.... had to be raw egg-free).


And .. I've done like a chili recipe with a meat substitute many times before - imagine it would work in a similar way with this recipe.

Wondering and probably wishing a bit...

I suppose for a good new year.... Wishing, that is. The wondering is just... well - plainly spoken - do you guys really do New Year's Resolutions (why do I feel the need to cap that phrase - like it has huge significance)? I've already seen some posts indicating that it, at least, crosses your minds, readers, to do so, so.... if you can / have time - whatever, let me know. I really am interested. I do know we're all getting back into our day to day lives, though, and business as usual will, once again, prevail. I've been pretty prolific in my posting lately, but... in truth.... probably won't be able to grab the 5 - 10 min. my quick posts require in the coming days (usually can't grab 30 sec. if I'm not on "vacation" ;-), so... in a nutshell... I understand if we're all too busy "living" to post anything :-).

Uneventful 2009 to 2010 transition in terms of celebrating in this house. Hubby and I did hot spiced cider (after a fab steak dinner that I orchestrated for my carnivores), conversation and did watch the one show that had Rihanna - Green Day... texted Olivia all night who was up the street hanging out with friends. Our boys were excited but did their regular bedtime routine as did Lilliana. I am superstitious and was glad to have quiet at midnight - means the rest of the year will follow suit. Yesterday was very pleasant - had planned to see what neighbors were doing for dinner, etc. but bitter cold outside and some household "brand new year"-type chores beckoned, so... just went with the organic flow of the day. Boys discovered new ways to play with new Batman and Leap Frog toys - occupied themselves happily - also watched 9 with Daddy (thought it would scare them, but... they liked it - when Tim Burton puts his name on something, we watch...;-). Olivia and pal, Olivia, worked on a social studies project - VERY diligently - good to see as they approach high school. I made them hot chocolate, carrot sticks ... helped with Google searches a bit. Lilliana did a lot of Mommy and Me time. Poor kid - I use her room for scrapbooking, so... we finally moved an obtrusive desk out - fixed up the rest of it a bit. She did a quiet movie with me - "helped" me organize a bit - "talked" to my Mom on the phone - "helped" me make chocolate peppermint whoopie pies.... We took funny pictures and snuggled in "the big bed" (she had helped me shop Whole Foods the day before and ran from me, so... nice change with the calm side of her :-). We picked up hot dogs and fries from a local place, D's in Regent's Sq. - gotta love it (veggie for me - though I am no longer a vegetarian -along with steak, I just can't do real hot dogs) - made pasta for boys - began painting their room with plans to put stars on the ceiling and an underwater scene over by their window seat.....watched a new Iron Chef ;-).... Boring but good.

Anyway... boys beckon - want to watch "the creepy movie" again (9?) .... We have basketball today - lunch with friends tomorrow. Thinking, thinking, thinking, as usual. Though we have family who has returned safely from holidays in Peru, we also have news of many losses this season - one experienced by a family who I have mentioned on my blog before for launching a new product. Anyway - sending good thoughts, positive feelings their way this 2010. Also - I follow a blog called the Nienie Dialogues. Nienie is famous, having blogged for a long time and survived a fiery plane crash. She chronicles life as mom and life recovering from her terrible injuries. It is a great blog. She has been on Oprah, the Today Show, etc. Anyway - she is launching a new project that should be interesting. She and a friend in Germany will be posting photos of their mornings all year. I LOVE photos - love to glimpse what other moms are doing around the world, in my backyard - wherever. Anyway - worth checking out (Nienie is enviably stylish - creative, adventurous) - follow link on my page for details.

Stay safe, all.

01 January 2010

Happy 2010

Just a couple recent hightlights / memories from 2009...