27 February 2010

Inside Play and some B-ball

Today .... watched pretty snowflakes fall and did some dress-up, more baking, even more gaming and supported our beloved oldest in her last basketball game :-) - and... yes, they did win (my Dad would have been so proud of her in this sport).

Olympics almost over. I know everyone is excited for the US vs. Canada hockey game tomorrow (though I am appalled to hear that tickets for the game are going for almost $5,000 - could that REALLY be true?!?!). And congrats to the US bobsled team for winning gold after - what? - 60+ years of not winning in that event!? Anyway..... will miss Vancouver ;-).

All in all, surviving the weekend... High point: hubby's fish and chips (he even bought malt vinegar) Friday night - he got nice cod - mixed up some Bisquick and some beer (I'm not kidding - made a beautiful crust).... filled two deep pans with oil and fried away (chips or french fries too) - deep pots didn't splatter, so... lovin' that. Low point: Due to busy schedule, missed out on a salsa lesson and night to mix with other couples opportunity.... Next time. Admittedly, I am feeling a little stressed these days.... Rant for another day, right? Stay warm..... Thoughts and prayers to Chile, of course.

26 February 2010

The day the storm hit....

Just a little snow....

Kinda like hitting a "replay" button....

So - another snow day. This time, we are semi-prepared - have all the board games out - batteries in the handheld games for when boredom sets in - dug the sleds, etc. out of the latest snowfall - have soup, cookies, hot chocolate on deck and ready to go - possible plans to ski later in the weekend (have to get "Mad Milo" on a board and curious Enzo BACK on skis plus Olivia and her friends are into it lately) - tentative plans to run out for a quick and close late lunch today..... It'll be fine :-) - though I am sensing some cranky / antsy - and it's not just the kids :-(. And, by the way - we've already done some glitter (like A LOT of glitter - all over the front hall glitter) and glue - painted some dinosaurs (and, yes, Milo did ruin his brand new very cool stripey retro shirt that I bought him for v-day - I am not shocked or saddened - merely ready to check it off as the "thing" that got ruined TODAY - there will be another tomorrow - I'm just kicking myself because I did not make it into the room in time to undress him for the craft :-) - and we've all pummeled each other with snowballs from the front yard onto the porch (and through the door!!!)... and MORE :-). The down side thus far? Lilliana has become obsessed with Oreos - Milo, now shirtless, will not redress for the day and will look like "jungle boy" until bathtime - and Enzo had a meltdown, feeling like he was being judged for not wanting to touch snow. Also, poor Olivia has homework - and I HAVE to mention here that I am exceedingly proud of her mature voice, incredible insights and great use of vocabulary in her latest book report (Bridge to Terabithia - sniff - I know there is a movie, but I remember reading it when I was O's age - maybe younger - and here I am proofing my middle schooler's book report....).

Olympic watch continues... though, there is so much going on - DQs for the strangest offenses - odd things like alternates not showing up for races - crashes - surprise medals - world records..... I can't keep up with the details - though I still love watching :-).

Stay safe - I see the same slippery slush that caused our pre-Christmas accident out my window. Enjoy time with family because, if anything, that's what snow-ins allow us to savor :-). Unfortunately, I am, again, sending positive thoughts to more friends and family experiencing loss or pain this season..... Many good things to celebrate too, but let's think of others less fortunate when we can....

Photos: Someone just sent us this photo of me and my Milo at a volunteer luncheon last year. I didn't know it existed - happy that it does, so... am posting it. Evidence that Milo really can stay calm - especially with Mommy (who was just like him as a kid ;-). And ... a pre-snowstorm(s) photo of Olivia and her confirmation class.

23 February 2010

Shamrock Shakes and Arizona Kids' Jeans....

And these are a few of my favorite things lately :-).

I have been meaning to rave about the very cool brown corduroy kinda / sorta skinny leg with flare-ish boys pants (sizes 5 & 6 / 7 respectively - for E & M :-) that my Mom got my boys for Christmas for some time now. I am such label girl - such a jeans snob (currently eyeing some Seven jeans for myself now) - though, don't get me wrong - I have plenty of Gap 1969 jeans and Old Navy garb in mine, hubby's and kids' closets, that... I didn't even know about Arizona jeans - available at JCPenney apparently. Very cool on my little guys - they look like trendy, hipster, ready to play, ready to attend posh kindergartner's b-day - I mean easy to clasp, modern, go with anything pants - and affordable too. Love'em!

And cracking up at the Serious Eats blog on my page (see blog list). There is a lengthy commentary on the cult following of the McDonald's Shamrock Shake along with a disappointed review of this year's offering (complete with a comparison to the 1983 version - ah - a memory from when I was a kid). Anyway, I DIG the Shamrock Shake - YUMMEEEE - but, apparently, it falls short lately. Bummer. I did find this fake Shamrock Shake recipe, however. Have not yet tested it.... but worth a try. Happy early St. Patty's Day, I guess!

And.. in a food-related note, my favorite food show host, Padma Lakshmi of Bravo's Top chef, had her baby. Sincere congrats to her!

Finally - one of my favorite local museums, The Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, has received a prestigious national award for, basically, improving the lives of children and adults in their community (green-related improvements, type of exhibits, etc.). Sincere congrats here too!

I love rainy days.

They make me reflective but they also make me productive. I have this tendency to want to drink coffee and look at old pictures, but I also get ALL the laundry done - usually cook something new for dinner - spend a lot of hang time with my little ones, etc. Today - I'm going to ignore the dirty, melty snow piles - I'm going forget that, in addition to the big gash on our front bumper, the van also smells musty (apparently, while the kids were waiting on us to get the van out of the driveway the other day, they sat in the snow, soaking their pants and, therefore, their car seats :-) - and I'm going to look on the bright side regarding Milo and his refusal to go to preschool today, having decided to pick my battles with him and forgo the screaming, kicking, yelling, etc. that almost always results in an injury for me and my Lil running from him (and me) or getting caught "in the crossfire", so to speak. Sure, I want him to go, but... the tears (mine, usually ;-), sweat, bloody noses (he has given me two, I believe, with his thrashing) and stares from other preschool parents make it SO not worth it. It's just P3. So... the bright side... (aside from just not dealing with the tantrum and, instead, staying home to play board games and "chef's restaurant" in the toy kitchen with L & M :-) - Enzo has been weepy before school for the past few days, thinking that we are able to make a call to the school and tell them we're not coming because of snow, so he wants to stay home and color, bake cookies, play trains, Wii with Milo, etc. and he went happily today - basking in the glow of his first phone call from a friend - Ben - last night - PLUS, Olivia is settled and happy, having received some good news in the way of acceptance letters from high schools (and is flying so high that last night's basketball game against shockingly unsportsmanlike St. Thomas More, my husband's alma mater :-( didn't sway her mood) - and the weather is better so Lil will go to her beloved "morning out" program tomorrow - all is good :-). In fact, as soon as I clean up the pee pee sheets from Lilliana's room - vacuum up all the popcorn from last night - and get the little ones to eat something more nutritious than marshmellows and Chips Ahoy ... we are outta here! Play area - library - museum - SOMETHING :-).

As for my ongoing Olympic watch.... I loved watching the Canadian and the American ice dancers last night (beautiful leg extensions and displays of athleticism on some of those girls - though some couples were a little too campy, over the top for me - thought the Canadians and Americans did beautifully) AND, of course, the crazy aerial skiing (little soft spot for them - heard many had gymnastics backgrounds like I do :-). I do prefer the big grand skiing and snowboarding events to the ice skating, etc., but... last night's ceremony in which the Canadian team so completely embodied the emotions of a country - of all the competitors - It was so sweet, singing their anthem - just their moment - one they'll never forget or duplicate. Really pulling for Canadian Joannie Rochette tonight in the women's skating short program. She is, first of all, a beautiful, conditioned athlete - great to watch, AND the poor girl - in just an unbelievably tragic turn of events - lost her mother to a heart attack on Sunday - terrible story. I think she is doing the right thing by competing; I'm SURE her mother would have wanted that. There are, in fact, a lot of tragic but triumphant stories from this Olympics.

Today's Diversion: Here's an interesting bit of pop culture news.

Today's Photo: Like I said - rainy days bring reminiscing, and... this is us in 2005 - on the banks of the Seine in Paris - Enzo only 6 months old - Olivia, 9. Isn't that Notre Dame in the background? I believe, on this day, we had just visited there with friends.

22 February 2010

My thoughts today.... for what it's worth...

Interesting. (produce and pesticides)

Appalling. (Toyota)

Empowering. (Pregnant Olympians :-)

Photo of the day: A blank wall.... what to do with this area of my wee Lil's room - ???? Paint for sure... what color? Add reading corner..... ? Play kitchen?

21 February 2010

What a day!

Do you ever have one of those weekends that starts off with a headache so bad you end up nursing a "Cup a Soup" and curled up and napping on a pile of clean laundry with your two year old? Not that I would do anything like that, mind you.....

Anyway, Sat. was uneventful - big pancake breakfast for 5 kids (Olivia had another sleepover - so we had one of our "regular extras" over :-) - basketball practice - shopping at Whole Foods - play date for Enzo and Milo - a nice dinner of honey, ancho chile, mustard - glazed salmon, asparagus, rice... new recipe cooked with hubby - then out late night for an hour or so to see a friend's band play... drank beer from plastic cups, listened to loud music....

Today was like "bad luck Sunday". And... we had the best of intentions - shopping for Olivia and cousin, Sofia, with Lil tagging along - and a play date for Enzo and Milo with cousin, Oscar. HOWEVER...... First, a big hunk of ice fell from our house, knocked our van off course and into the side of the house as we tried to pull out of the driveway, leaving giant gash in front bumper. While packing up my diaper bag, etc., I discovered that, for the first time ever (I think - and I'm serious), we lost a bottle vital to the care, soothing and happiness of one of my kids (looked everywhere - totally missing somewhere in the house, but... for our purposes - GONE). On the way to shop after dropping off the boys, Lil screamed and cried so loudly, no one in the car could talk and she almost threw up. Once in the mall, we went to eat and get money - wanted to give the girls some $$$ to go off on their own, but... all cash machines were broken. After hubby ate the worst sandwich of his life, we went to The Picture People (last year, we realized that we did not have an "official" one year old pic of Lil so... rushed to Picture People before Olivia had her braces put on and the boys' once a year haircuts grew out.... and had some photos taken - After some failed attempts to order prints with black and white and / or sepia tints along with wallets, etc. for grandparents online, we had to check in at the actual store... ;-) I, of course, digress....) only to find out that, despite paying like $50 for some "membership" that allowed us access to prints for an unlimited amt. of time, most of the photos we had taken were, mysteriously, gone from our folder - they are investigating - will call us tomorrow (some were cute if I remember correctly :-(.

Lesson learned today: I always enjoy my slap back to reality (usually pulls me out of my sulk). Today - got in the car - piled in the shopping bags - got my niece and my girlies all settled - smiled at hubby, then ... listened to a heartbreaking story about ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) on the radio. Man... am I lucky or what? How many times do I say this??? Appreciate what you have, and I'm not preaching... just sayin'...

Anyway..... hope everyone is having fun watching all the Olympic skiing - Super G and Giant Slalom!!! And... is it just me or is this "Ski Cross" new to these games??? Enjoy...

19 February 2010

A great cause / event ...

I follow the "Grady's Allstars" blog (see my blog list this page), which is part of Valerie Grady's web site celebrating the lives of her two boys who have Batten Disease and helping to educate and raise funds for the fight against this degenerative ailment. A while ago, they were highlighted in the media with a story and segment on a local TV station, and one of my fellow bloggers, Amy at Callapitter (also see my blog list - Amy is interesting, big-hearted and courageous), made a number of people aware of the story (and one of the mothers from my kids' school actually did the story as a member of the media). Valerie Grady keeps the community aware of events that will benefit her cause and her boys, and.... there is one coming up that I would like to share with everyone. Here are the details from Valerie:

"The Bethel Park Varsity Hockey team is hosting a benefit game against Meadville on February 27th, 7 p.m. at the Bethel Park Bladerunner's to benefit Grady's All Stars.

Tickets will be sold at the door. Adults - $5, Children 6-11 - $3, Children under 6 free.

This should be a great night for Drew and Trent since they LOVE hockey.

Thanks to everyone for all of your support!"

Please spread the word!!!

Recipe Follow-up

From the other snow day....

Banana Bread (moist and tasty - favorite after years of trial and error):

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp finely shredded orange peel
2 ripe bananas cut and mashed
2 tbsps milk
OPTIONAL: 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts and / or splash of vanilla (watch that batter doesn't get too "soupy" - needs to be pretty stiff and not too sweet).

Grease your loaf pan - preheat oven to 350 degrees (will take 45 min. to an hour to bake - keep checking / inserting toothpick or fork - middle should stay moist - don't overbrown it).

Mix dry ingredients in one bowl - wet in the other. New bowl: add wet and dry mixes alternately, stirring to blend. Nuts would go in last. Watch the orange zest - a little goes a long way :-).

And.... a chocolate cookie recipe - this one not mine but good and from Food Network. You don't have to, but you CAN add some frosting or creme filling. Yum!

More board, ski and skate watch... kids back to school ....plus a Wii "rant"

Let me preface this with a mention of my need for downtime - hence, my "thing" with the Olympics this winter. Yesterday was an endless sea of unfinished errands, sloppy weather, dirty dishes and laundry (and even if I choose not to deal with it and play with kids, do our number or dinosaur puzzles - whatever - the piles are STILL THERE), dinner to be made, homework to deal with, no sleep (an old dance injury - which was aggravated by one of those "don't know what it is but many pregnant women experience such things" issues from Round 2 pregnancy years ago - is acting up in my leg -making me sleepless all hours), little food (I am watching fat and sugar - a "good Catholic" would say because of Lent - but I just feel lumpy and like Jello) - plus (and this is nothing serious - I am totally being whiny) feeling under the weather with a cough, congestion and headache. Today, I have soup and toast, movie time with Milo, down on the floor rug play with Lil - that kind of thing - on the agenda (oldests finally riding the bus today so no grueling / demolition derby pick up :-). I digress.... AGAIN ;-)....

So - was so excited for the women's half pipe competition, and... wasn't disappointed - Hannah Teter and Kelly Clark won silver and bronze, respectively, but my favorite, Gretchen Bleiler fell both runs as did another team mate. Interesting and fun to watch regardless - results and story here.

I try to watch the singles skating - last night, men, but.. have never been really enthralled by the event. I find the pairs exciting, but... the single skaters.... not so much. I mean, they are REALLY good, but... I just can't tell one jump from the other - find the programs a bit long... the costumes odd .... Anyway Evan Lysecek won gold - have a bit of a soft spot for him because he looks exactly like all the cousins on my Dad's side of the family. Truthfully, I don't know that much about men's skating, but I did think Johnny Weir put in a good performance last night... really good - entertaining - he has beautiful arm movement. I rather like him - despite hearing that he is "controversial". I find him to be a sincere competitor - attentive to his coach - and.... in his head shot that they use to introduce him on screen, I dig his fur coat and sunglasses :-).For some reason people don't like him....

That short track speed skating relay is CRAZY - the way they push eachother and remain all over the track as others skate... NUTS... need to focus on that more next time (though I think there are races coming up).

Enjoy this nice diversion from everything. The Olympics are great.

In closing (and a last sports-related note): Can Tiger Woods make a comback? Hopefully not. And... got an email from J.Crew, which I do love, that said "Give it up for Frank" - apparently, head of their men's design dept. So... I looked. I kinda like what he does (though am not crazy about the gingham for men new arrivals :-(. Anyway.. another diversion from J.Crew :-).

Have a good weekend. Taking a few days off to attend to some stuff for my kids. Enzo is having trouble getting back into a school routine (and, truthfully, my wee ones run around all day - Olivia watches movies and texts friends in her room - while Enzo sits and has lunch with me, asks me questions, enjoys going over his numbers and letters with me, etc. - so I miss him too :-) - Olivia is still applying to some high schools though has been accepted at her top pick so... more paperwork - Milo seems really adjusted and is enjoying school but needs to learn to go into a gymnastics class on his own.... shows talent but can't move into team trainer position until he will go in without me - Lilliana is craving lots of one on one play time lately and needs to get into a movement or dance program (so far - too young for most like Pittsburgh Ballet Theater so... looking for an outlet for her). All expected to be checked off my "to do list" this week (because, for the record, I HATE the Wii - find lately that my little ones are obsessed with it and, because it is in a common area of our house, I can't clean, read, write, eat, drink coffee, talk on the phone, pay bills - do ANYTHING in peace without being bothered by requests to play the Wii coupled with refusals to play with other toys, watch movies or do art projects - all because of the freakin' Wii - ready to pull my hair out and / or throw it into the backyard... Getting out is a huge challenge with all the slipping, car doors opening into snowbanks, having to let kids off in the middle of the street to get to the school, huge slush puddles, ice falling, etc......So... going to FIND those new outlets!!!).

Photos: Little pieces of my schoolkids' rooms.... all (even Lil goes to "morning out" like a big girl) back to school this week :-).

18 February 2010

QUICK fyi (s) ....

Remember to visit That's Church (again, see my blog list on this page) for more info. on how to help with the situation in Haiti - specifically, getting other orphans out ..... Power of the people type thing.... call, press politicians, lawmakers, etc. This is going to be a priority effort for a while. Please help.....

Also, have to mention our fantastic US snowboarders and skiers. Men's halfpipe yesterday was amazing - a must-watch sport, for sure. They are doing so much now - way beyond what you may have seen in the Olympics four years ago. Anyway, congrats to everyone but especially Shaun White who got gold and Scotty Lago who got bronze (nice show by teammate Vito, too). Go here for the remainder of the schedule (and some results) - both men and women. And, of course, congrats to our gold and silver medalists in the women's downhill - Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso. Hope all those poor women who crashed yesterday are still doing fine - disappointed, for sure - just hope they are not too banged up. Great show.

And.... ads on my page gone for now (happy, readers? - I am ;-). I'm not so sure about this Google AdSense......

For now... pure joy at watching my two year old read "Don't be Pesky, Little Monkey" - with lift up flaps and cool pictures and different textures.... Lovely - going to be a brilliant day.... WHICH reminds me.... need to mention AGAIN.... visit That's Church - support Haiti in their time of need. Kids need us!

And in closing.... hubby stumbled onto this bakery in Shadyside a while back (since our family trip to Paris a few years ago, we have been on the prowl for French bakeries.... have a few local ones in mind....more on that later :-), but - for now...).... but here it is in Pop City (which is odd because my Lil just pulled the business card out of who knows where in the house, and... then it appears on PC.. hmmm..)... The French Tart... (kitschy and not too original but I'm loving that name.... like in the movie "Run Fatboy Run", one of the main characters has a bakery called "Libby's Sweet Buns" or something... love that too :-)... Time to go play Indiana Jones with Milo..... All in a day's "work"....

17 February 2010

The Bake Shop is Open!

We have become quite the prolific bakers whilst inside these days :-). We have sweet and tangy lemon squares, creme-filled chocolate cookies, both glazed and chocolate donuts, iced cinnamon rolls and are preparing to make blueberry buckle and / or banana bread. Cupcakes are a favorite in this house, so... maybe later in the week - especially if we get more snow ;-).

Recipes to follow. Still one of those "pressed for time" days :-).

Oh - and check out the half pipe with Shaun White thus far in these Olympics ;-).... I have a tendency to get antsy when I'm pulling for certain athletes and, yeah, I "Google" results before the event actually airs in my area :-)... while I bake and hang with the kids, that is ;-).

A "to do list" of sorts

Pressed for time today but have lots to say

So - continue to stay safe and healthy. We did not have school again today as our school follows the Pitt Public Schools and, shockingly, they called off today - probably because of the bottle neck nightmares and children left at bus stops or on buses yesterday due to the piles and piles of snow, half lane roads, etc. Ventured out today and can report roads OK in Sq Hill - much better in Regent Sq area - better than yesterday, but... Also - stay healthy. We have this monster cough circulating our house now, and it is not going away anytime soon - seems to be a culmination of many ailments.

Pay attention to That's Church (formerly PittGirl - remember her?) on my links list. Another plea for Haiti, which... I firmly feel that we should still be contributing to monthly to keep funds, supplies, support going and going (almost posted as much the other day then snow hit. My BAD in a big way :-). Have to throw in my two cents as usual - disagree, in part, that ONLY Pittsburgh would respond to the plea for help for the Bresma Orphanage in such a way as is posted on her blog. Thankfully, "'burghers" are very loyal to their native sons and daughters (Ali and Jamie are from the area). This country is full of "Pittsburghers" who still firmly believe that if it doesn't happen it Pittsburgh, it doesn't happen at all (I closely observe this group of "enlightened" Mt. Lebanon grads from years ago as an outsider and can report that they, in fact, will never "leave" Pittsburgh - some in body - some in spirit). Anyway, thankfully, these women were from the area, and Pittsburgh did, in fact, pull those orphans to safety. Having lived all over myself, I am hoping that other cities will follow suit.

Keep watching the Olympics. Sad for boarder Lindsey Jacobellis who missed a chance for gold redemption ....yesterday was it??? The men's skating is interesting - all emotional and talented guys... Nice diversion - these Winter Olympics - uplifting in a way :-).

15 February 2010

Up late with the Olympics

So I'm up, checking school closings, dipping whole grain pretzels in mustard and hanging on every little thing these skaters, skiers and boarders are doing. Happy for Bode Miller (and his bronze medal) who seems to have grown up - way past his flippant attitude in Torino (don't know if I feel that way because I heard he now has a two year old daughter, and I have a two year old daughter so feel an odd affinity for him OR if his interview and his comments really did seem more gracious and mature than a few years ago ... anyway, hubby feels that same way - first spotted him snapping his gum and winking at the camera - initial thought: still a jerk - changed after his great downhill performance and grateful interview following). Just watched the finals on Seth Westcott's amazing gold medal-winning snowboard run - came from way behind to pass EVERYBODY! Interesting guy - restaurant owner, etc. - saw a profile on him earlier today (before our power went out for a few hours... yeah - like I always say, a rant for another day....). All these "30 somethings" winning medals! You go, guys! Hanging on the pairs ice skating now. All those spins and throws are amazing. Pulling for the Chinese couple - married, retired, also 30 somethings :-) - highly favored for gold. Love the Russians and their beautiful extensions, and that German couple is amazing.... More on that later.... probably in recap mode. Congrats to Apolo Ohno too, of course (I don't hang on the speed skating as much - though my Olivia wanted to be a speed skater at one time :-).

14 February 2010

Happy Valentines Day

I'm not kidding - I was driving through Regent Square with the family, coming home from brunch, and... I saw four people - one guy, three girls - stripped down to their underwear - boxers, cute pink heart bras and like boyish panties - in running shoes like... well... running down the sidewalk. Of course, Marcello beeped - they laughed - others were staring - my boys laughed and laughed - Lilliana declared them "naked" - Olivia starting texting away to all her friends. Temp on our van gauge: 25 degrees! Funny.

Uneventful day - had my pink tissue paper-wrapped gifts ready for everyone when they woke bedside today - nothing big - PF Chang's gift certificates, Reeses Peanut Butter Hearts, monkey PJs, shirts...

Watching the Olympics - speed skating, moguls, ski jump ... Congrats to Hannah Kearney for winning the US's first gold medal of the games.... moguls (which just amaze me - I mean, have you EVER skied moguls??? Not easy). Anyway, congrats to Hannah and other medalists.....

Anyway, happy - happy....

13 February 2010

I made it out today!

A couple quick notes:

Watch cocky "I can drive in the snow / tackle this slush pile" drivers who are still going too fast for the width of the roads.

Also, everyone in the world is out! I was still able to choose from a wide array of school valentines at Target, which means NO ONE has been out until now.

People are acting odd - like they haven't seen other humans in a long time. Some guy in an SUV tried to make "eye contact" with me a la "how you doin'?" Either he has not seen anyone in a looooong time OR he actually likes 30 something-ish women with bad hair and a sallow, haven't slept in days or seen sun in weeks death pallor.

Enjoy the typical of Pittsburgh "chair to mark parking spot" behavior. Today, I saw lawn chairs, TV trays, picnic tables, a really nice dining room chair, and a piece of a couch - all marking freshly shoveled parking spots as I drove through the residential area of the city (where we live). And.. this is funny because a friend of mine just posted a note on her Facebook page saying that she had used a chair to mark a spot in her Ohio neighborhood, noting the "so Pittsburgh" behavior. Sometimes it's a stereotype because it is TRUE.

Stay safe - have fun!

Yeah - I think I've officially "had it"

OK - so the roads are snow-covered again - and that fine mist of snow is falling - the same type of mist that coated us these past few days... um... make that this past week. I like snow, and I am enjoying my kids. Enzo is more snuggly with me this week - happy to see me every morning ("mommy!") - Milo is looking older to me - like he got taller overnight (and I'm reminded that time IS passing and I should cherish more) - Lilliana is talking more clearly (and, of course, our video camera is broken so we've been breaking out the iPhone for filming A LOT lately), and I definitely have had a lot of time with her "helping me" around the house and all (we made some pretty sweet and tasty corn yesterday for a little taste of sunshine - flash frozen so it was nearly fresh) - and, of course, Olivia has had a great week - time with friends, a party in her honor, a great ski outing, etc. Marcello has a rekindled interest in skiing, and it has been nice having lunch with him or just laying low together, but.... I think it's time to get out (and I did get everyone out for a walk and snow play yesterday, but... I actually did not see another adult - just me and more kids :-). I mean, our life IS great, but we do have some hard days - particularly when our choices are limited by weather or other odd circumstances ..... life in the trenches with kids - a rant for another day, really.

Anyway - time to get out - school fundraiser tonight with hubby - maybe dinner before. Hey - that is SOMETHING. Looks like we may actually get our new second car today (though I am still mourning my Jetta - aka - Gwendolyn Delilah - and, btw, I'm not so odd - the other guy who's car was hit in the accident was talking to me about my poor smashed Jetta at the accident scene, and I told him her name & how I felt about her, and he said - "don't feel weird -that's how I feel about old Ally here" and patted his car on the hood :-).

Enjoy the Olympics everyone. And please keep the poor boy who was killed on the luge yesterday and his family and his teammates in your thoughts and prayers. Terrible, terrible incident.

Photos: A portion of our extensive "self-portrait series" - ME and toothless Lil, ME and Olivia last year (who informs me, btw, that my comments in my previous post about the latte and driver are more me than her - puhleez... I haven't had a driver since my parents lived in Europe and no lattes since last week - trying to sound, deliberately hypocritical and, therefore, funny ;-) - may just sound spoiled), ME and Enzaboo on his first day of preschool??, and ME and crazy "Mad Milo" one summer day last year?? - and then... just ME feeling a little crazed and cooped up, I believe, last year at this time (See a theme emerging? I'm celebrating all my "me time" with the gang ;-) - plus one of beloved hubby swinging one of the boys (??) - have always cracked up at the amount of "air" this particular photo shows off.... that kid is flying!!

12 February 2010

Need to make a Trader Joe's run -

- among other things. Need to do SOMETHING about my recyclables (I'm aghast at how much milk my kids drink - that and the frozen pizzas we've powered through this last week - hubby actually said he's beginning to "feel bad" about the bacon "situation"). Today, Lil chose an outfit of a two-small cardigan (bare belly underneath) and a pair of Old Navy sweatpants that are so short, they are pretty much ONLY sleeping pants lately. Not today. Today, we are embracing our "not going to see other people so - oh well..." selves (oh crap - my boys aren't even dressed - and I can't remember if I am - did I sleep in this? Is Milo wearing hot pants? Does usually impeccable Enzo have mismatched prints on?). Oh - I've got some weird and lovely photos to share when my computer time is increased to more than 5 min. a pop.

And like I said... I really need to go to Trader Joe's. Like most families, we have certain favorite things that we buy from TJ's, and... now.... after a week of doing without these highly coveted items.... we are feelin' it. Time to make a list - salty cheese that Olivia likes - check... Enzo's favorite organic corn flakes - check ... decadent mini peanut butter cups that we all like - check..... actual dinner items like pasta, mac n cheese or fun salad dressings - check (if I have to ;-).

No productive posts today (aside from giving equal props to any retail mentioned :-).... just a quick rant..... So... Olivia's friend, Olivia (that's right - another one), slept over last night. This morning, as we made beds and started the day, I saw the purple sort of gingham fitted sheet (Land of Nod - so nice - but from Olivia's old "Paris" little girl bedroom - have now graduated to trendy dotted Pottery Barn stuff) lying in the hallway. I said, "Why don't you leave this on one more sleepover (having JUST washed it) because, for sure, it will be Olivia up the street who sleeps on it again." And... my Olivia said, "Like - when did you last wash it?" That coupled with "we really need thank you notes - I feel bad that I haven't sent thank you notes" (btw - I have to like tie her to her desk to write thank yous - usually, they go out WEEKS - even months after she receives gifts - so now.... when I'm snowed in with preschoolers, I get kicked when I'm down - and it hasn't even been ONE week since she received gifts) - and the sniffing of glasses fresh from the dishwasher because she's convinced they are dirty - not eating my dinners to the point that I have to have a dinner party just to see people happy with my food (thank you, too, Marcello, who loves my food :-)... What IS it with teenagers?!?! I work, work, work, and... you don't notice AT ALL? Anyway.... I'm more than a laundress and dish washing expert, so..... TAKE THAT! Oh.... and btw - how was your elaborate steak dinner last night and fully stocked freezer / pantry full of tasty treats and totally updated iPhoto for your Facebooking pleasure - and no problem - you can borrow my new UGGS - and, btw, I like your Coach bag, new yoga pants, brand new ski gear (complete with goggles more expensive than my whole outfit) - and don't worry, we'll get you safely to the ISEE tomorrow to complete your application to Shadyside Academy and Oakland Catholic (wait - I don't really remember having a CHOICE in my high school).... OK - I think I'm done, and.... if not, I'll rant to my coffee mug (coffee was goooood today - hot, strong, sweetened a little too much - perfect.... and hey - I just found my bright side - and I'm actually laughing - these teens KILL me ;-). Uh oh - hubby going to work off site... OK ... so like, go enjoy your breakfast burrito and kid-free time.... I totally don't care (I'm kidding - really....).....

Today's photo: Um... like where's my latte and driver???? Love you, Olivia ;-).

11 February 2010

OH - and no school again Friday...

Here's how we all look / feel .... Um... that would be losin' it / crazed :-).

My Lil spent time outdoors today - Olivia yesterday - may force the boys tomorrow (they love it when the snow is falling - can't wait to get out - entirely different when it looks gray and cold). I think snow day memories aren't appreciated until later.... seems the boredom sets in before reflection begins :-). Like... I remember summer evenings so fondly now - the light just right - golden with blue sky and clouds - you could swear that you could hear every kid you knew in the neighborhood at some point yelling to one another - or all the parents calling kids for dinner - faded voices in the distance, on the wind - whatever. We'd wait for my Dad to drive by on his way home from work - my feet would be dirty - we'd be cooking up a sleepover or a way to stay out past dark like playing that Ghost in the Graveyard game or something. At the time, we could be some bored, antsy kids - prone to sneaking off in the woods, wrecking each other's forts, begging past the point of appropriate to go to the pool or starting that whole "ring and running" thing with the doorbells. Now... I would love a moment with those old friends - that light.... As a kid, you don't realize that such days are numbered ;-). So... back to these snow days.... ;-)

Is this Day 5 or Day 6 of "snow-in"?

Regardless, we are getting a little loosey goosey - gave in to the Wii two days in a row - did manage some yummy comfort food for dinner last night and remained a cheerful short order cook, churning out eggs benedict, twice baked potatoes, grilled cheese and soup, french toast :-). This morning, however... the kids wanted to pop popcorn, and... that was breakfast (add a little apple juice and - voila - nutrition! ;-). I have practiced math again and again with my kindergartner - done numerous art projects - become bored with Play-doh, dragged out the wooden trains for a diversion from the Star Wars stuff currently on our train table, had tea and played restaurant with Lilliana again and again. Olivia had a day of snow play and checkers with friends yesterday - some of her friends walked the neighborhood looking for walkways to shovel.... It is cold again today, though - sledding and building snow forts are a little more painful on these days.

Ok - so.... we'll see what happens (aside from the kids deciding that running in a circle is a good way to occupy themselves - and... truthfully, I've had a bad cough all week and am beginning to lose my voice from trying to talk over the commotion again and again... AND commotion it IS - we just had one of those disasters that's not a disaster happen - the broken shelf in the fridge finally fell (broken cuz little ones tried to sneak some soda way back) - and like Thai fish sauce and Williams Sonoma margarita mix from, obviously, the summer went ALL OVER the floor - creating that awful, shattered glass "sawdust" that lingers and stabs little feet again and again (and we are barefoot / flip flops people all year) - plus even though the kitchen floor is now SPOTLESS, I'm still getting that sticky "wheek wheek wheek" sound when I walk - good times ;-). We got a great start on our taxes, I have all the kids' hair conditioned and nails cut - gave them all "clear the head" vapor-baths (California Baby, all the way!), caught up on laundry (though now dishes are piling from all the baking and such). Hey - every little accomplishment is something, right?

My bright spot today (aside from the fact that I am TRULY trying to enjoy this little break from the everyday with my family :-) - reminded of such by some West Coast friends who have mentioned they would welcome the down time - food for thought....).... a little segment on The Today Show done by the owner of Magnolia Bakery in New York. She iced some chocolate and some red velvet cupcakes. Took me right back to my sweet Lilliana's first birthday last year (a pink themed costume party - appropriate for this lucky duck's Oct b-day - always wanted mine near Halloween :-).... she destroyed a giant red velvet cupcake by our own local Vanilla Pastry Studio. Apparently, Magnolia in NY is also opening bakeries in Dubais and Los Angeles.... my only "valuable" fyi of the day ;-) - though... check out the appropriately entitled "Snowy Day Risotto" on the Serious Eats blog on my page - now where is my Arborio (sp?) rice??? Anyway.... enjoy the messy pic of my lil' Lil.

And... sad / weird bit of news (since I'm on this "fashion watch" kick these days): the fashion world lost Alexander McQueen today - just kinda caught my eye because it is just breaking news, awfully sudden (he's young!), and... I just read a great review about his latest runway offering.... odd coincidence...

10 February 2010

Still no school ...

... and Marcello's trip to Philly / NY area was canceled. He's working from home again today, which is not going so well - kids fighting (though Olivia did sleepover at a far more interesting house, I'm sure - no babies - just older kids :-) - bored because the movie we bought on Verizon Fios yesterday doesn't work - in fact, our FIOS is out entirely - like we can get a channel but we can't change the channel.... not good (though it was supposed to be resolved by 10 am, so I guess I should go "reset"). Baby Lil usually interferes with our games, and... inside for a whole week... she definitely wants to be included, so... I'm trying to figure out what to do that everyone can do together - know what I mean? Temp a little cold to play in snow. We'll probably bake again :-). Just as well cuz ... there is nothing good on the menu for dinner because the store was sold out of some of what we needed. Anyway .... on the bright side, we're resting, sleeping in, getting school projects done, hanging together a bit, getting organized (well - sort of - damage control on a house inhabited by bored, snowed in kids is a full time job)....

Anyway .... stay inside - stay warm...... all us East Coast leaning people :-). Let's see - on the bright side..... um..... did see, for all you Bravo Top Chef fans that Season 2 of "The Masters" starts soon - off the top of my head - I remember /recognize Wylie Defresne, Ludo Lefebvre, the chef from Tru in Chicago - anyway, check out the link to the SERIOUS EATS blog on my page - get all the info. there ....

And - finally - WPXI is showing that Pittsburgh Public Schools are off tomorrow too, so... if you follow their lead, like we do.... you are home AGAIN (hopefully, our kids will have the fond memories of snow days like we all do from back in the day :-). Others off too. Hmmm... maybe we should all start a little chat on what to do when all your creative play ideas have been exhausted - ??? ;-).

How's that for a little bit of a diversion?

09 February 2010

Random retail thoughts... and serenity gone...

Have already had to take away a candlestick, a little chair, markers and some Indiana Jones whips. Lilliana alternately coloring herself and wanting to endlessly "washa my hands".... Milo jumping on the couch and using aforementioned candlestick as musical instrument (HAD to have climbed onto the dining room table to get it) - Enzo attempting to power through some homework AND make up work from when he was sick (wow - do I wish we had some actual time to concentrate) - Olivia JUST getting up (hear her coughing upstairs - which means we're all on the road to "not healthy"). None of my little ones ate any of the different breakfasts they "ordered" (and sometimes the short order cook gets irritated and swears under her breath) - middle schooler now officially moving and wants one of my famous steamers (coffee, MILK, sugar) - Milo smells like mint and I just noticed that ALL the leftover candy canes are gone. ALSO - just noticed recycle bin is overflowing - we're out of garbage bags - the kids have discarded juice cups, etc. all over the house. NOT EVEN NOON! You know - I'm not sure if I've eaten OR showered in a while..... feeling a little woozy.... Sometimes when I feel woozy like this and I have the 5 min. required to post my blog thoughts, I also email or text my husband valid, important info. ;-), but... sign or lead into messages calling him "cupcake" or "love bun" to see if he notices and / or responds to it. Never. Anyway ....

Distraction: One of my friends, a Rachel Zoe fan, told me that I remind her of Rachel when I gesture with my hands and speak in my clipped tone. At first, I thought - and NO ONE has shot me yet?!?! Kidding - really - I just didn't KNOW her - plus I don't always like to acknowledge my inner intensity - PLUS I have been made to feel guilty for totally giving in to my fashion interests (good earth mothers don't do such things - gag). Deep breath... Now.... I'm OK with it - totally became a fan on Facebook (slipping.....). Oh - and check out these PRECIOUS chocolates (if my Olivia would let me do a b-day party for her this time of year, I could hook her UP with trendy baubles...;-). AND - Gilt Groupe (would link - but I think you have to be a member) has some nice Burberry on sale today at noon. Ooooo.... feeling like doing my silly "magazine" again.... I've got some ideas, all :-) including this "might be worth a look" coupons for the day in Pittsburgh.
And... geez.... while I'm at it - I have a soft spot for English preppy - check it out.

See ya - Milo is ON me for a drink -no a granola bar - no he peed himself - wait..... hopefully, I can entice him back to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (our big Fios movie purchase of the day) ...:-).

Still semi-snowed in...

... and more is coming.

Although we are experiencing a bit of cabin fever, we are also enjoying this reprieve from the daily grind a bit. For us, we had our fun dinner party and confirmation ceremony on Thurs. with family, snuck in a successful ski outing before the snow came on Friday and spent the weekend running in the snow, hanging out with the neighbors, sledding on our very cool makeshift snowboarder hill, tunneling in the snow, sitting fireside with soup and coffee, baking cookies. Marcello worked from home yesterday so we all had lunch together. We've watched a couple more movies as a family - sat down (all of us!) to a relatively quiet dinner yesterday. Last night, the boys dozed off in their beds watching a movie, cookies and milk on their bedside tables while Olivia watched her "night of shows" - Marcello and I relaxed and watched our silly kitchen / food shows and Lilliana went to bed early, I baked cinnamon bread. It's nice.

I have to say, laundry has been neglected in lieu of finding games for kids to play, putting endless wet snow gear in the dryer and trying to wrap up other family loose ends we wouldn't normally have time for... like filing paperwork, organizing photos, etc. But all in all, I've seen more creative pretend play with the kids (this morning, we've already been a doctor's office and a busy restaurant. For a bit, Milo and Lilliana were attended to by Dr. Enzo who had them covered up and was giving them sips of a carrot and orange juice mix - now, he is referring to one of them as "Chef").

So... time now to figure out how to handle homework that is due, school projects that need to be handled this week, Valentine's Day parties that need to be coordinated and more - all not knowing if we're even going to go....

08 February 2010

Day 3 - snowed in

Ventured to the airport today (successfully) to drop off a visiting relative - hit the store for supplies (it is unbelievable how much milk, juice, diapers, pasta, bread and eggs or how many frozen pizzas, snacks and frozen veggies you can go through when the whole gang is homebound).

Feeling a little antsy - want to get my hair cut but don't want to get our "bad in the snow" van stuck anywhere - want the kids to get back into a school routine, but... like having them home too..... I guess we'll just see what the day brings .... Calling for more snow - See... I think I'm just freaked out that the whole time I've lived in Pitt, any threat of a snowstorm turned into a big disappointment. Not this time!

Anyway.... photo: more 8th grade skiers from Friday (my Olivia is in blue in the back, wearing goggles - and these are some of her bestest buddies :-)...

07 February 2010

Day 2 - snowed in

OK - so it was more like 21 inches that we got. Last night, I looked out my first floor window to see our little neighbor - goggles on, big snow boots balanced on our flat sled that looks like a snowboard, ski gear head to toe - taking off like lightening down our makeshift "hill". Despite the beach photos scrolling on my computer at that hour, my mind went right back to Vail (is it time to hit the pool-size hot tub with our hot toddies yet? :-).

Planning big wholesome family meal for tonight - of course, hubby has plans to watch SuperBowl - paid a couple kids to shovel out our very long driveway this am - trying to decide if I should watch what we've DVR'ed and drink coffee - or.... actually get stuff done - ???? No school tomorrow (Pittsburgh Public Schools and others already closed) so... definitely license to play another day....

Photo: Some of the St. Bede Hidden Valley skiers from Friday, 5 Feb... just a few days ago when ALL THIS SNOW was still on its way :-).

06 February 2010


At least 18 in!

I'm from a snowy climate - grew up with memories of blizzards - sledding - skiing - even tobogganing. I'm loving that, in our flat - not a hill in sight - front yard - we now have a little kid- worthy sledding hill that zips across our walkway and over to the driveway. Our kids and the neighbors have been using it all day. Our oldest, of course, had to head uphill (our street IS definitely a hill - in fact, good luck getting up it right now without 4WD) for a BIGGER hill - all suited up - ski pants - jacket - soggy UGGS.

Last night - huge flakes falling - neighbors and Olivia's sleepover friends (and me :-) out and about - running the empty streets - taking pictures - enjoying how the trees looked all covered in deep fluffy snow - until like midnight! Today - grilled cheese, hot dogs, soup and hot chocolate fireside after REALLY enjoying a beautiful, sparkly, sunny snowy day (and our sweet neighbor made the kids some snowflake cookies). I mean - they were sledding (safely) for HOURS - all my wee ones! And this snow is definitely just made for snowballs, forts and snowmen - we tested it at dinnertime last night as it was falling - felt almost balmy watching those flakes fly. All my skiers had a good time too :-) - not to mention their joy at hearing the Independent School Entrance Exam was cancelled until next Sat. :-).

Have fun. Stay safe.

05 February 2010

Ma Maison

First - I'll just say now - I am restless and spazzy - my brain goes a mile a minute. I'm sure most of you already know that. Anyway - therefore..... I am not good with "vacations", so... like it or not - I'm back.

Some musings "sur ma maison" (in a different vein from the other day - i.e. no rants - promise - and by "my house" - I mean even my familial house so to speak - my kids, hubby, etc. - how WE are .... not just the mortar and brick in which we live :-):

As you know, I love it when the house smells like bacon and coffee - just feels like "us" - whatever that means - our morning - our chaos - our familiar. The boys are watching Indiana Jones (again - and I'm OK with that) - Lilliana is silly and wants to hang with me (though it may just be because she is interested in my rippy, holey sweatshirt - playing with it as I type) - Olivia and Marcello have gone skiing despite the looming snowstorm (I'm sure we'll be fine ;-).

Dinner party last night in honor of Olivia. Buffet style - lots of conversation and fun - wine, food, coffee, treats, family and friends. I am now trapped without a car in a house full of yummy leftovers like casseroles, sweet french ham (giggles as I remember a photo of Marcello in front of the Maison du Jambon in Paris - during a trip with valued friends who we were lucky enough to see last night!), flourless chocolate cake, berries, roasted herbed veggies..... I even have some fresh pressed carrot juice with which I can make a favorite carrot, orange, apple, ginger, sparkling soda "cocktail" (yeah - I did a "juice bar" of sorts last night too).

I love wandering the house when the vases are filled with roses and tulips and the night lights are still on from the night before - remnants of a big event still hang around like Olivia's blue and white confirmation dress draped across her retro '60's chair in her bedroom - a pile of gloves and scarves (discarded in a rush to find proper ski gear) in front of our bedroom armoire - gift bags and cards on the hall table - wine glasses on the corner cafe table in the dining room.

Today, gathering clothes for the day for my 5, 4 and 2 yr olds - I lingered in their third floor bedrooms - sort of drinking in that early morning, covers still rumpled, humidifier still humming, morning light still dim - feeling. In Lil's room, Raggedy Ann doll was slumped in the corner - the Winnie the Pooh print with promises of 100 year friendship was a little crooked on the wall above the peaked window in the alcove (and I remember this from when Olivia was small) - lots of teacups and saucers were strewn about on the fuzzy white carpet... Similarly, in the boys' room, a red car night light was glowing - stuffed jungle animals lay on the floor next to both beds - one of Enzo's masterpieces was flopped over on his dresser - Milo's sea creatures were in position on his bedside table - and an Eric Carle book lay on the striped carpet. It occurs to me on these days that this is "it" - what I've always wanted. I mean, for most of my life, I didn't picture myself married OR with kids, but I did picture being somewhere safe - feeling love from someone special even if he wasn't in the room with me - I wanted to be surrounded with familiar, comfortable pieces of a life well-lived. This old house and these people in it really do it for me :-)! And I know we'll have some cranky today - we'll shiver outside watching snow long past the time we should - we'll probably argue over what book to read - I'll eat bananas and mac n cheese (again) just like the kiddies - we may attempt a fragmented game of checkers or chess ;-) or some not so meditative yoga, but... it'll be great.

Photo: A few years ago (2?) - a family portrait, pre-Lilliana (actually, on the way) - love how browsing my photos reminds me of our constant change and motion....:-).

03 February 2010

With a letter comes the sign I need ....

As we all prepare for Olivia's confirmation tomorrow, the pace seems to get more and more hectic. This is a big deal for the eighth grade class. I have family coming in so I'm cooking, shopping Whole Foods for baguettes and fruit tarts, ordering lunch for the class and baking them cookies for after their "practice" tomorrow, picking out just the perfect little diamond stud earrings as a remembrance gift for Olivia. Olivia is getting her nails done, fixing her hair again and again - Marcello took the day off..

I am a spiritual person - I'm always looking for signs of an after life - always looking for signs that those I love who are no longer here have somehow stayed in spirit or presence. I expect my kids to remain in service to others - their community and their earth for their entire lives. I want them to be kind, giving and respectful with everyone. I was raised Catholic and feel culturally and sentimentally attached to the faith -though am really not sure how I feel about organized religion, in general. I also often ask for my Dad to guide me. He was a devoted Catholic with a strong faith, in general. During our last spiritual journey as a family - Lilliana's Baptism, I was feeling particularly vulnerable, having endured a family member's wrath just before the big event and really .... just missing my Dad. I asked hard for my Dad's presence - point blank asked him to guide me that day - all day. Prayed - some would say. As a result, my phone rang all day - even unplugged, it would produce a shaky, odd ring - and when answered, a crackly line. The only other time it did this was the week after he died. He was there. I did feel him. And... I've been asking for a sign from him again as we approach this milestone. Olivia is taking his mother's name (Veronica) as her confirmation name, and he would want to be there.

Today, Olivia came home with an anonymous letter to the priest at church but with a little note to forward it to my Olivia. In the envelope was one of the prayer cards that had been handed out at church with the confirmation candidates' names on them. This one had her name on it - like the others. The letter - on plain white paper - detailed how this anonymous person had prayed for Olivia by name for months - how he / she had prayed for her family to be bestowed with blessings - how we should all remember to be kind to others and to endure the cruel - to pray for those less fortunate.... It was beautiful - and it was signed "a fellow pilgrim". It made her principal cry. It has Olivia, who never saves anything, folding it carefully and keeping it safe, an interesting phenomenon :-). I remarked that it was nice that people had done this for the confirmation class. Olivia told me that hers was the only letter - that no one had done this in recent years - that the priest was happily astounded - and it had come today. It was the ONLY letter - for years.

I have my sign. My Dad is watching.

02 February 2010

01 February 2010

OK - so "vacation" starts tomorrow.....

So - first - I have to acknowledge that I have not yet "gone fishin'" - I mean - sort of - I have begun prep for guests this Thurs. at the little dinner party I'm having for Olivia pre-confirmation, and.... I'm still fuming about some Facebook and other ridiculous interaction that has me actually reflecting and thinking - geez.... do you know HOW much you could get done NOT having to answer people or follow up on correspondence? I stress about thank you notes to gift givers - I stress about responding to those who take "social networking" very seriously (don't want to offend - though... it warrants mentioning here that I also stress over the constant offenses I see - do you really think you're that important - are you really that crass - and w(ho)tf do you think you are? I digress... as usual).

Second - I have to say that I finally enjoyed a shopping outing with Olivia - sans wee ones. Had coffee, shopped all her favorite stores, bought a way too expensive bra, found the perfect shoes....Fun.

Now - time to rant. Actually, I'm analyzing, I think. I have had three separate conversations over the past few days - all dancing around the same odd issue. Here's how it started.... A friend and I had a hectic lunch with babies and toddlers last week. As we were wrapping up, the topic turned to our suburban family members and their shock that we "live in the city where there is so much crime" - and the ensuing -did you hear about the shooting? should we drive through that neighborhood? most people move to the suburbs when they start "doing better" (um... have you seen some of the actual mansions that people live in here in the "scummy" city????) - what do you do with the kids in the city (um... what DON'T we do - you suburbanites come in for the zoo, museums, fountains, parks, arts festivals, etc. - though, I admit, I do head out of town for skiing and the pumpkin farms :-)?

THEN... a couple days later, I had a conversation with a family member who condescendingly asked me how we were all managing in our teeny, weeny, wittle (sorry for the baby talk), urban, old city house? I mean - seriously - I'm exaggerating the tone, but... it was pretty much - OMG, how do you manage ALL those kids in your dinky ugly urban house? I'm snarky - I realize - but this has gone on for a while with our area family (and outside the area too, really - constant references to our "fixer -upper" even though the kitchen is more modern than some of their suburban kitchens, having been updated a few years ago - and HELLO! - we love to cook so did invest in a stove worth a couple thousand - and, by God, it looks it - not to mention all of our original hardwood floors, beautiful stained glass, deliberate antiques and vintage bathtubs, fixtures, etc. - makes you want to scream in a really nasty, crass way - "they're not old - they're Restoration Hardware - go price them!" Oh, I feel dirty just saying that - rant, rant, rant). After a conversation with another friend today - who has similar frustrations (i.e. family members who decorate their suburban homes with whatever they can dig out at Tuesday Morning and serve wine from a box at parties who have the NERVE to judge her art and antiques-filled narrow Victorian city home with top vineyard wine served at parties - oh the snarkiness continues ;-), I am kinda / sorta musing about what might cause this phenomenon and... I'm pissed off too. I want to say - stop judging me and how I live - especially when I hold my tongue all the time when I view your lifestyle.

Here's a thought: We like our house. We love our lifestyle. OK - two thoughts. Alright... more: We have been through a lot in our relationship. Meant for one another, hubby and I had a hard time resolving issues in our lives to BE together. We value what we have; we want to ENJOY it - eachother. We've also had a bunch of kids in a short period of time. We are hunkered down and determined to enjoy our lovelies - our dinner table - our neighbors - the swim club - our block parties - DVRing 30 Rock and Iron Chef - sitting by the fire - watching our secure middle schooler LOVE her neighborhood and... while we do talk to realtors and think about upsizing, it is NOT a priority. Let's cut the chatter about - "you need a bigger house for your kids" - "what's your school district like?" - big breath - "ooo (condescending tone sound)... can you really afford the private schools?" (um... have for the last 10+ years... And... uh .... this last comment is a frequent one and may belie the REAL motivation behind such comments - pettiness, sibling rivalry - oh, it may be time to involve my other friend - A Princeton-educated family therapist - and, yeah - sorry- can't seem to stop "name dropping" and acting pretentious :-). You know.... if I am truly analyzing, I have to say, there are some folks who are literally having a STROKE trying to figure out how "rebellious, creative-types" like me and hubby can make such a good income and / or live the way we do. Gosh - I'm sure glad I missed the memo on how only the straight and narrow path leads you to the highly coveted cash award. Cuz... that's what we all want, right? Cough, cough - ahem. Ugh. OK - done... for a couple days anyway ;-).

Photo: Milo flipping in our beloved "neighbor-gathering, pumpkins on the porch, Christmas schmultz in the yard, baby swing on the tree, painted the porch ourselves, wave to friends as they drive by" FRONT YARD (which will continue as a tricycle thruway and the starting point for many acorn-gathering, winter or other lovely tree-lined walks for quite... um... a while :-).