30 March 2010


Taking a few days off to color eggs, eat chocolate and plan a little get together for family on Sunday. My kids are off - we have some day "adventures" to tackle this week (not to mention the home improvement list :-).....

You know me, though.... I'll be back before the holiday even if I say I won't ...... See ya in few days....

In the meantime, enjoy the footage of the boys at their baseball camp. Kinda funny...

Happy spring, all!

Dragons and other fun stuff ...

Random bits of sharing today. Enzo has a "buddy" egg hunt at school this morning - Milo will be bringing home his expertly woven Easter basket from preschool ;-) - I had a fun shopping outing with the girls yesterday, me, Olivia and Lil - today, we're allowing Olivia a vacation day of sorts (after all, she did make HIGH Honor roll this semester :-), maybe get her nails done, go out for a decadent frozen coffee drink or ice cream, pack for our grand hotel excursion (kinda getting close to sticking a pin in a map here to choose destination :-) - and... I've been playing "elephants" and "horsies" with Lil lately (actually, I'm not included in the play when one little orange horsey and a pink monkey play together, but... otherwise... I'm in :-).

Still organizing (sending photos out to family, etc.) - still dying to try a recipe I saw on a BBC America show, "Gordon Ramsay's F Word" (that would be "food") for a poached chicken then pan sauteed in a morel mushroom sauce - still finding new household projects to handle daily (latest, a five foot long scribble of brown crayon on a prominent dining room wall that needs to be... um ... erased).

Family rundown this holiday season - my brother, Don, his girlfriend and her young son are going to do some spring skiing in Colorado this Easter - my Mom has plans for lunch out with my brother, David, and his family on the holiday (we have a gift going to his son, Rhys Evan, who will turn one in a few weeks) - we may visit Tio Manuel in DC later this week - saw Matt and Chiara and their kids this weekend (may see them on the holiday too along with Clara). We are planning our day trip adventure but will definitely be back on Saturday to hide eggs, fill baskets with candy, and... I usually add a little spring gift (this year a Kate Spade wallet for the big girl - and.... goggles and other swim gear for little ones - GOTTA learn to swim this season - I insist). We'll do the church egg hunt and then.... do something easy for an Easter buffet for friends, family and whoever wants to stop by - probably hit Whole Foods for some fun and tasty treats.

Thoughts and prayers to the people suffering loss in Moscow due to the subway bombing - as well as to others in the world feeling pain. Saw a tragic story this morning about a high school girl being bullied. Worth a read, and... worth thinking about a little in order to stay vigilant and avoid such tragedies in our lives, neighborhoods, schools....

Can recommend How to Train your Dragon to families looking for a holiday movie this week. Saw it and did enjoy it - though the 3D thing freaks me out a little - my peripheral vision gets weird (seemed to be the consensus with others I was with - and... the little ones sometimes won't wear the glasses - BUT.... I do like dragons - have dragon earrings - used to be fascinated by how cartographers in the middle ages would write "Here Be Dragons" over sections of the map about which they knew nothing... but I digress... as usual).

Can ALSO recommend these cool salt water sandals from Olive Juice. Getting a pair for Lil - had a pair myself as a kid - one of my favorite shoes of all time (remember like LOVING certain things you wore as a kid - like purple Toughskin jeans - a Scooby Doo t-shirt... well these were some of my favorite summer shoes - when I wore shoes, that is - could never find a pair for Olivia, but... Olivie Juice does such retro feel clothes - not surprised I found them there). Cute. Worth a look among other adorable kid clothes there.

Photo: My lovelies last year at this time.

29 March 2010

Two BIG bags to Goodwill....

... plus this is how we spent our anniversary.... Yes - that's right - Blue Slide Park here on Beechwood Ave. in Pittsburgh. I think we did manage a hour or so together later in the day, but... I'm thinking "Mission Organization" + "Keeping Kiddies Constantly Active and Happy" = "Some Time Off for Mommy and Daddy" :-). Thinking new cool restaurants, really fun day trip, shopping, nice hotel with room service and indoor pool..... Some family relaxation this week. Hmmmm.... now what to do.... where to go....

28 March 2010

Weekend Cousins

Thankful this weekend that my kids have their cousins - especially as the Easter holiday approaches. Olivia did a sleepover with 10 year old Sofia last night after a pleasant evening at the Latin American and Caribbean Festival held at Pitt's Student Union each year (sponsored, in part, by the Center for Latin American Studies and The Latin American Cultural Union). The boys played with cousin, Oscar, and Lilliana kept friends Maria and Carmensa entertained (and dragged us to all of the colorful booths in the meeting rooms).

There were many dance performance, speeches, informational booths and food. My mother-in-law read a poem for her friend, Salome Gutierrez, a Latin American leader and popular Pitt professor who was killed by a negligent driver just before Christmas 2009. My mother-in-law, Clara, read her poem in Quechua, a native Peruvian language, which was one of the classes Ms. Gutierrez taught, and a language they both learned to speak as children growing up in Peru. It was very nice - very sad, but... a celebration of culture and life, nonetheless.

Photos: The kids eating Latin American chicken, rice and empanadas and drinking Inca Cola and mango juice (and a zesty Caribbean punch with ginger in it that Milo discovered).

27 March 2010

Conversations from the Trenches

Get in the car. Get in the car. Get in the car. I mean it - get in the car. Please get in the car. We're late. Get in the car. Don't hit your sister. Are those crackers? What are those? Get in your seat. Not that seat. You're going to step on the... are those crackers? Get in your seat. Did you lose your shoe or is it in the car? What is THAT? Stop. Don't hit your brother. Get in your seat. Please. We're late. Why is she outside? Is that a puddle? No. Get in your seat. Is that a new milk or an old one? Wait - don't drink it. We're late...

And off we go... to our respective preschool baseball training camp at Pitt - East End Lacrosse practice - story hour at Joseph Best Booksellers. Kids fueled by french toast, Cheerios, juice and bacon - Mom and Dad fueled by the Illy coffee that brewed all morning.

I do love the activity of Saturdays. The simple possibilities. Maybe we'll meet for lunch later. Maybe we'll run some errands. Maybe we'll see a movie. Silly, huh? ;-).

26 March 2010

Lessons Learned

Today, after wrestling my little ones into their clothes - prepared to attend and enjoy the school mass, I sort of marveled that, this morning, they all happily ate nutritious breakfasts, wanted to get dressed and, moreover, cheerfully waved good-bye to one another - in fact, maintained an odd morning calm that I have not felt in a while. I mean, I still had to rush and manipulate and act more "down to business" than warm and fuzzy in order to get out the door, but... all in all... OK.

In church, I saw Enzo's big eyes looking at me over the church pew - his dimples when he smiled. I could tell he was trying to exhibit a combination of the calm reverence that he was told he should and the excitement that this honor - carrying the prayer box with big sis, his principal and a valued teacher - up to the priest - on his 5oth anniversary!!! - made him feel. An honor, he told me :-). Big sis, Olivia, sat enjoying her friends as usual, and she seemed to have a little sense of pride in being responsible for Enzo, directing him where to go, making him feel comfortable. It was so sweet. I was sitting with a friend, and she even got a lump in her throat. Enzo looked so small, and Olivia has grown up so much.

The whole mass was really a celebration of children, relationships and community. The priest, handing out communion to the masses, looked right at home - his little pilgrims filing to greet him, as they had for so many years. The little ones first - then ... the big kids - even those leaving the school after so long. It was really touching.

I did feel a sense of tradition today. A sense of families long committed to church, community, school, friends. The trying with the triumphant - the sad with the happy. It felt good and ... reminded me to take more deep breaths - to pause more - to focus on what I have and that what I have is good.

I wore my Dad's ring today - I'll call my Mom to tell her all about it. It's a truly satisfying feeling.

25 March 2010

Another (sigh....) Day.

Spoiler alert: This one has a semi-happy ending :-).

I coerced Enzo into going to tennis today only to discover that tennis was canceled. I had to find he and Olivia to tell them that they had to take the bus home today. I walked the whole school with Lilliana screaming like a crazed monkey on my shoulder - even when we had to actually enter Olivia's art class.

Lilliana head-butted me in gymnastics and both her nose and my nose bled.

I bought new eye shadow (oooo - exciting), but Lilliana smashed it on the pavement when we got home.

Milo broke our bathroom sink (like snapped the pipe off - apparently, playing hide n seek - and not the first time he's done it - doesn't matter - our kitchen ceiling is wet and stained anyway due to years of my boys flooding the bathroom at bathtime).

Lilliana broke my laundry basket - another one no longer useable.

All this in a two to three hour period with constant supervision.

Two things come to mind:

First - that I'm used to all this.... Our dining room table's finish has been ruined and it is covered in crayon - our leather chair has black pen all over it - our carpets in two of the bedrooms are stained with milk, chocolate and Coca Cola (and the one in the TV room has had full bowls of popcorn dumped on it so often, any time you walk on it, despite repeated attempts to vacuum thoroughly, little kernels skittle off onto the hard wood floor - which reminds me - that is on my list today too... for the third time this week) - most of our lamp shades are broken - the carpet in our entryway has been partially ripped up - our back door and new screen door are painted with supposedly washable kids paint - our antique radio is missing buttons and has the front ripped out of it - our antique toy box / bench has chunks of wood missing from it - two shelves in the refrigerator are broken because so many little ones have "helped" me get juice, etc. - OH MY - it hurts to go on. I can remember each of these accidents or incidents as vividly as if they occurred yesterday. So... anyway...

(Deep breath) Second - on the bright side (remember my resolve to always focus on this ;-).... Lilliana does work hard in gymnastics - executes all the tricks - loves her teacher - flies on the trampoline. Milo is fun-loving and physically active - talented kid - creative, silly. Enzo gets to ride his beloved bus today like a big boy (so proud of my kindergartner) - Olivia looked so happy sitting in her art class (the same room she's worked in for years :-), working on a fabulous portrait of Zooey Deschanel, in her uniform, all her friends & classmates around her laughing and enjoying one another - All of our splashy, soapy baths - all of our giggly, messy deck painting sessions - all of our family meals complete with customized mashed potatoes and write-on placemats are.... well... fabulous - just great - beautiful. Wouldn't trade it all for the world.

A LOT of tantrums this week - privileges taken away - hearing myself say with increasing frequency - "Do you think I'm kidding?" I feel intolerant, shrill and walked on. I'm Ok (only a few moments behind closed doors when, stomach aching, breathing shallow, I let the tears roll - only to be jolted back to reality, sometimes seconds into my 15 min of "walk away" time by - "you lost my skinny jeans!" or "i pulled one of your new glass knobs off your dresser, but ..... it wasn't my fault", followed by crying, crying, crying - which is, exactly, what brought me back today - onward....), but...um... does anybody have an aspirin or something ;-)?

The "Wild Ones" Report

So ... Lil and I had coffee before gymnastics this morning - just she and I and her toy chainsaw. We were the talk of Starbucks (you know... usually I bring my own chainsaw, but... she appeared to have it covered...).

Milo tells me that if you "love a girl", it actually means that you are allergic to her :-) - relayed to me with great reverence like it was some huge preschool secret.

Photos: The Scholar and The Enforcer.

Now it's time to go play that ever-popular game - why does my kitchen smell like garlic - why is the rug in the tv room wet - and where did public works throw my recycle bin today??? Equally gross and challenging daily, the game does stay interesting... (future mysteries to include - why did I just stick to the floor? - what is that on the ceiling? - and does anyone else hear like a high-pitched hum coming from the kids' room (a far cry better than "do you smell smoke again?)? :-).

24 March 2010


It was another exhausting day - mad shopping for a forgotten gift - refusal to go to gymnastics - all healthy food rejected at lunchtime - a couple of kicking and screaming time-outs - orthodontist after school - different dinners for all (though, with hubby traveling, ice cream and soup for ortho patient with sore teeth and burgers and popcorn for the rest of them sort of worked as dinner - particularly because homework went well, PJs went on without a fight, etc. - and, for the record, I often eat yogurt and raw snap peas for dinner when left to my own devices anyway :-) - garbage and recyclables had to go out - a disgusting and mysteriously clogged toilet had to be dealt with (Lilliana likes to play with toilet paper) - an entire utility shelf and all the contents was taken out by a foolish but well-intentioned multi-tasker (um... that's me) who took a double load of laundry and some new detergent (we go through milk, cereal, garbage bags, baby wipes, hair conditioner and laundry detergent like water and that is NOT an environmentally or financially sound situation) down the basement stairs - the whole "I own a house and have kids" drill (one HIGH point - had a friend refer me to a fabulous and reasonably priced photographer for the family - all sorts of problems and past injustices solved there - albeit temporarily since she is moving :-( - focusing now on the joy in finding her, though :-).

HOWEVER, on the VERY bright side - Lil did a whole number train puzzle on her own (with Mommy happily helping - LOVE that close contact - they smell so good :-), matching the animal characters and colors - all the way to 20! Milo said "I love you a million times" (and, I'm told by his preschool teachers that he is a fantastic Easter basket weaver and enjoys it!! :-), and... on Friday, Olivia and Enzo will be in a processional together at a school mass. My 8th grader in her last few months at the school, and my kindergartner embarking on his academic journey (and he is very excited to be participating in a church event like big sis). Joy.

There is A LOT to be said for a peaceful evening of bedtime stories, hot chocolate and "snuggle buggle" under the big comforter on the couch (besides, sucked into watching Noggin and Nick Jr. for a loooong time, I did hear the old Kermit the Frog song "Rainbow Connection" - gosh, so many '80's moments this week :-). Movies, pretend play (Indiana Jones to kitties), Calm. sigh. You know - I am so crabby lately, I'm going to have to highlight a new segment called "on the bright side" cuz ... I think, most times, we can find one.

Photo: Calm

It is definitely PEEP and chocolate season!

I just dropped almost $90 at Target on Easter candy, school buddy gifts, trinkets for egg hunts and other little family Easter greetings. I have no words..... but... I am aghast.

I do have a question: Are Marshmallow Peeps really better after a year - all stale and spongy? I've heard such tales. When I worked at a design studio years ago, our attempts to find out were foiled by the cleaning lady who wisely tossed out our nearly year-old stash of Peeps. Fateful day.....

I can dream, can't I?

Ok - I'm really having a Holden Caulfield moment (and, no, I don't want to be the one who catches the children as they play in the rye - I'm just going to voice an odd daydream that I have - I have a tendency to dwell on unusual ideas - outcast revelations that, given enough credence, could become reality)... I have this odd "dream" in which I have this group of friends and acquaintances - my cousins - new people now and then (always good to include others and expand your own horizons :-) - and we hang together all the time - various settings. After a long day with kids and the daily grind, they come over late evening - all of us with our respective families safe and asleep or upstairs quietly watching TV or doing homework - and we watch "chick movies" or talk over red wine and coffee. No one cares that my kids' artwork hangs in the dining room or that a toy pink kitchen sits in the front hall or even that the table linens my mother gave me have been sitting, folded and neat, but in the exact same spot for weeks now, waiting to be put away. We could light candles, have a fire, sit on cozy pillows - they would feel comfortable raiding my pantry or fridge for toffutti ice cream sandwiches or peanut butter-filled pretzels. Maybe we even have a daytime hang-out - kid-friendly - lots of coffee - healthy lunch options - music we like - occasional trunk shows for mom and kid-friendly clothes and accessories - fun stuff on the walls (or maybe we contribute the "art" on the walls - drawings - our own musings and poetry). Hmmmm.... maybe I should open such a place. I think it was the initial inspiration behind my "trendy mom cafe" here - and the restless descriptor I give my blog. Again... food for thought....

Photos: Just some funny stuff (need to laugh after yesterday :-) - Milo being Milo (and, by the way, the weird ball photo was taken because Milo went shopping with me alone and picked out bouncy balls for everyone in the family to play with - everyone got their own color - just sweet and funny) - Enzo looking sweet - athlete Olivia and her lacrosse goggle marks - funny baby Lil (and I think there's even an image of my late Jetta :-( in the background in one of them)....

Lastly - important recall information on some Infantino baby slings. Please give the link a look. Honestly, over 90 percent of the mothers I see using infant slings are using them the wrong way - have baby totally covered - have them deep in the sling - the baby is too curled up - the baby is waaay under 4 months old - or the baby is trying to nurse while mommy takes a walk or goes about her business WITH the infant's face firmly planted in her flesh - not good. Beware of emulating some these women, appropriately dressed in organic cottons with "namaste" or "mama for Obama" emblazoned across their chests (and I am a fan of both, btw - may have had one or both emblazoned across my own chest at one time, so... like I always say... grain of salt with me....) who think that just spouting breastfeeding, organic baby food and cloth diaper info. like they are experts makes them the perfect "earth mother" with knowledge on "how to" do it all right flowing from them like environmentally sound purified water.... they ... um ....may not have it right (again - apologies for the snarkiness, but... I was reprimanded by one of my "friends" for commenting that her baby was smashed up and facing in (thought I was helping - making her aware of a potentially dangerous situation) to which she responded that "they liked it like this" - "best to be that close to the mother - covered like in the womb" blah blah blah. I was pregnant at the time and dealing with a kid's b-day party, so ... let it go - wrote my appalled reaction off to hormones or whatever - but now... years later, feel that maybe I should have corrected her in front of some of these women - some who are now new mothers and... who knows... may have listened to all that - and mimicked a dangerous scenario).

23 March 2010

A Day

Deep breath (it's a long one - albeit elementary and, therefore, quick and easy)... and READ!

Slept well - albeit with Lil beside me on couch and hubby in bed with boys - better than night before when we were all up tossing and turning or, like me, with full-on insomnia - only an hour or two of sleep.

Open refrigerator to get more milk this morning - light bulb explodes in my face. Scares the @#%&* out of me. Refrigerator dark.

Email freelance clients with proposal info. and school with spring break info.

Get kids out the door a la one of my previous posts. In a perfect performance art-like commentary on the fickle weather situation, my preschooler left the house wearing no coat - my kindergartner all suited up in winter coat, hat and gloves (remember when I asked for advice on that earlier? Still need it.).

Lovely breakfast with friend at Square Cafe (though our planned walk is foiled by cold and rain -and to think that yesterday, we were dragging the water table out of the basement and taking the Radio Flyer for a spin around the neighborhood).

Lilliana won't leave S. Cafe - fights me for rights to toys and has poopy pants. I also just notice that she is covered in ketchup and has been playing with an orange slice dipped in sour cream.

Change poopy pants in van (after running through sleet-like rain and through giant puddles; it is, for the record, an extreme puddle day and my wild ones are champion puddle jumpers).

Take off to get Milo at preschool; Lil screams NONSTOP when I pass school to find parking place.

Have pleasant chat with other preschool mothers (though one informed me that one of her little ones has broken her arm. If I could make it better, I would :-( - poor little girl, and... poor mommy). Teachers inform me that I have not returned an important form. I just turned it in in the office - whoops.

Head out to run errands. Lil runs from me in front of school - another child's father has to chase her. Milo leaves through the front door, locking himself out and heading the wrong direction from the van (we were parked in the back to avoid such problems).

Milo rejects all "real food" for lunch and, instead, wants donuts. Chocolate donuts. So does Lil (and - you won't hear this from me again - but thank God for the Dunkin Donuts Drive-thru). Many baby wipes and some roadside stops later, we are clean and fed (albeit junk - he told me his stomach was "grumbly" - had to fill it with something - hopefully, preschool snack was nutritious - and Lil did have some ketchup at breakfast, right?).

We head to hubby's office on the Southside to complete errands. I get the "stink eye" from building patrons as I wait in a "no parking" area.

Hubby in car - off we go to check on a business venture we are launching. Arrive at destination. No one there. Do we have wrong day? Wrong building?

Head to next destination - print shop to pick up invitations he designed for church event. All should go well, being a church-thing and all ;-), and.... it does. Look great - no issues - all paid - will be delivered tomorrow.

Head around block. Hubby says we need to hit dry cleaners because he had to rush job some shirts - trip to NY and all. What trip to NY?? I foolishly ask. Argue, argue, argue, and BAM - we are hit from behind. Big Caddy - apologetic driver - not our fault. Hubby irritated - I am quickly shushed, trying to point out damage not that bad. Upon closer inspection, one sensor on back bumper is TOTALLY crushed. In hindsight, glad I was hushed and hubby actually looked. Insurance exchange - nasty looks from drivers trying to get around me.

Hubby back in car. Continue "discussion" on his trip and how I never hear anything correctly - argument moves to his d@#% iPhone and how it always cuts out during conversations (I heart u, AT&T).

Hubby says "rush" dry cleaning will never be done. I say it will. We go. It is done. Score.

Back to our new biz venture vendor. NOW someone is there. Meet with him despite Lil and Milo running the length of the warehouse and taking turns trying to "break" a mirror propped against the wall. When it's all said and done, Lil steals paper clips and "works" on our vendor's computer. Milo does a flip off the stairs ("I'm OK"!). We discuss orders, etc. All is well - though hubby tells me he was so stressed, he doesn't know what he ordered, but... he did leave a check. Great.

Hubby needs lunch. Drop him at Pizza Sola and circle block. Forget where Pizza Sola is - drive in circles for a bit. Arrive back at Pizza Sola - hubby already dialing phone looking for me (doesn't matter - I wouldn't be able to hear him anyway ;-).

Back to office. Bye. Mommy, we want to go home.

Drive home by way of Oakland (don't know WHY I took that exit). Traffic, traffic, traffic. Lil begins to scream that "she is stuck" halfway home -then that her boot is "gone".

Arrive home. Milo is sleeping (feepin, as he used to say), so... he'll never sleep tonight. Lil runs from car and hits huge, mucky, deep puddle in driveway (the coat on which she received compliments all day is now soaking wet and a deep brown color).

I clean out car - drag diaper bags and garbage into the house. Look fervently for sippy cups and bottles full of milk (it is milk so I HAVE to search or have nasty smelling little "bombs" all over the car) - apparently, my two wild ones have begun throwing their cups when they're done - like little Vikings.

Head inside - check email (had urgent VM from client) only to discover that a client has pointed out an oversight of mine. Have to leave door propped open (40 degrees and falling) because Lil wants to stand on stairs and I left Milo napping for a few more minutes (can see van from window - door 2 ft from me). Milo wakes and is "mad" - rages at me from the front yard. As I run to get him, he throws himself on the wet and muddy porch steps.

Everyone inside and warm - wet clothes removed - Noggin / Nick Jr. on - warm drinks distributed. I bake after school cookies for Olivia and Enzo (and wild ones - it's just.... the chocolate donuts earlier... um... how much chocolate can they take? Offer them whole wheat crackers. They bite.).

Currently sitting in a sea of back packs and lunchboxes (and Enzo's thumb hurts - Olivia wants to know if we can take a spring break vacation. Spring Break is next week). Literally seconds ago, a smoke detector began "peeping" like it has a dying battery - already getting annoying. The BBB just sent me an important message regarding a recent complaint I submitted - only there is no attachment. I just heard a crash in the kitchen AND I need to make dinner, send out yet another freelance proposal, get through two batches of homework and get the lacrosse carpool to practice by 6 pm (is anyone else thinking like Stouffer's lasagne and a quick salad, at this point? You have to admit those "let's fix dinner" commercials are appealing.). It is now 3:00 pm. Do you know where your sanity is (and ... we all just had an '80's moment - remember those commercials?)?

This is really my day. In fact, I think I left some things out(oh yeah - my one outing of the week on my own - CANCELED - in lieu of NY trip that I knew about for 100 years. Is that it? Might be it....).... Hmmm.... was the precedent set this morning by the "number one" and "number two" underwear accidents pre-bedtime last night - the cranky, cranky two year old who roamed the house for hours, inconsolable - the uninvited family member (though family members are always welcome, combative dispositions are not) with news that our kids were the only ones not invited to a recent family b-day party for no reason - the fact that the MUCH lower rate on a hotel we're researching for a weekend just disappeared from the web site - OR - was it just ONE OF THOSE DAYS???? Love my kids - appreciate my hard-working hubby - but today..... ugh. Ebb and flow. Ebb and flow.

21 March 2010

Happy Anniversary to Us!

Marcello's Sunday pancakes - some warm weather time with the little ones - shopping with Princess Olivia - then... maybe some one on one time with eachother at one of our favorite "quick stop" haunts - an hour at D's in Regent Square for hot dogs and beer (veggie for me - ALWAYS mustard and onion for hubby) - a walk around the neighborhood - maybe some coffee - definitely some time together ....

20 March 2010

Day out with Daddy

My boys - having a little lunchy-poo with Daddy. Lil with me - Olivia at lacrosse with big plans for a friend's birthday party tonight. Almost 70 degress out! All is good.

19 March 2010

Do THIS more... do THAT less ...

I need to GET OUT MORE. With friends, that is. When I'm invited to a book club, to breakfast, to a fundraiser, etc., I need TO GO. I always PLAN to go - and REALLY plan. If it's an evening outing, I do all the requisite "feed the kids" - "pull the beds down" - " get everyone in jammies" - Hopefully, have halfway done my hair (and by that, I mean washed and prepped for curling and / or straigtening iron or just applied some funky edgy product ;-) - put on some make-up - know what I'm going to wear. Morning outings are actually trickier because breakfast is always dicey - ongoing in that my kids are fickle and don't know what they want or if they're even hungry - getting dressed is like a wrestling match - and... well.... the kiddies expect to be entertained, so... I need to get them directed, and I need to touch base with Olivia on what she needs while I'm gone in the way of rides, money, support in any other way :-).

Usually, I don't make it out. Either I get all my prep work done and look and feel like crap, so I pass. OR.... someone is not going to bed or has a tantrum or a potty accident, and... I'm stuck - have to spend another large amount of time on clean-up or consolation duty. Then.... of course..... I'm late.

It occurs to me.... that.... um... I need to delegate more. While I do get support from hubby and others on occasion, I realize that not everyone knows where I keep all the clean jammies - how the boys like their beds pulled down - how far we got in the library book read of the night the day before - what is allowed at snack time - who wears underwear and who wears a pull-up outside to play - where they are allowed to play on their own outside - what games do and do not work when the two year old is around - what leg we are on the lacrosse carpool - how much spending money is appropriate for a middle school shopping outing - does she need money for lunch when she plays tennis at the club or is the snack bar even open - ?????????? More. Obviously. AND - obviously, I need to let go a bit. AND - I need to begin sharing more detail-oriented directives, I guess. I'll get there. I just get so caught up in it all - CEO of the home and all :-).

I also NEED TO STOP asking people if they are upset and / or angry with me. My intentions are always good, and... it always seems to be the people close to me in the family who INTENSELY dislike this. Eyes narrowed, body language stiff and turned away, they tersely tell me "no" - they are not, in fact, angry, then.... proceed to become angry. I have a short list of two people, currently, who do this. Many times, they are frazzled by morning routine, screaming kids, too much homework, too much workday - whatever. I, too, am stressed. When my carefully prepared dinner, clean laundry, packed lunches or all forms and bills ready and waiting to go where they need to - not to mention my cheerful greetings or good-byes are ignored or totally fall flat, I don't sulk - I start investigating, and... as a result.... seem to upset those closest to me. I'm going to stop. I mean it. I'm done.

Off now to work on juice pops with my little ones (M & L). We are using the Zoku Quick Pop Maker - instantly (well - in five minutes or so) freezes what you pour into it. Today was an orange, banana, strawberry juice smoothie mix. Turned out great .... easy -though you can't use too much juice, and... we haven't gotten creative with fruit slices or anything yet .... but the warm weather juice pop season is just starting. We are on a roll!

While we're all still sharing - any idea how to get a kid to transition coats for the season when he doesn't want to? My kindergarten guy has been told all winter that if he doesn't have boots, hat, gloves and heavy coat, he can't go outside, so.... he STILL wants to wear that everyday now. He sweats. He is the only one in a ski jacket. Help. While we're on the kindergarten subject - today is "S" for show n tell, so... we sent in a shield (better than a sword), so... maybe I should start a segment called "concern of the day" :-). Yikes.

Two trivial bits of news as I close... my alma mater, Ohio University, beat Georgetown in basketball last night. Way to go, OU! And, apparently, Sandra Bullock's husband cheated on her and now says "he deserves every bad thing that is coming his way". How noble (and, of course, I NEVER use sarcasm).

Photo: A collection of photos taped to my bedroom mirror (the antique dresser that I've been working on for years - new knobs, etc.) - the top one is Marcello and I on our wedding day, and the other photos are, basically, what happened that following year - Enzo's birth (a polaroid I took from my Mom's house because I remember my Dad taking the picture - I mean, looking at my smile now, my newborn - I can still see my Dad standing there, smiling, with his camera :-) - our trip to Paris, the beach, NYC (all self-portraits, of course - it was funny, we were so used to squeezing three of us into the frame - me, Marcello, Olivia - that getting baby Enzo in was quite a feat - a new perspective ;-). Did I mention it is OUR ANNIVERSARY on Sunday :-)? 21 March - we got married on a Sunday - 6 years now. Going out tonight, and... we'll see what the rest of the weekend brings.

18 March 2010

Where we really want to be right now....

Sand. Surf. Beach. Soon....

Photos (such beautiful, fresh faces, eh?): Lilliana (aka - Stink), Enzo and Milo, Olivia B and Olivia K


Two noteworthy yukky things today - on my radar, anyway.

First, I am sort of disgusted and angry about this... Lately, I have gotten some really crappy, bad quality, gone bad, rotten stuff from my local Trader Joe's. As you know, I love them, but... twice recently, we got really stale bread and rolls. Most recently, stale cookies and meat that had gone bad - chemical smell on the burger meat - really gross (and I have kids - two who love cheeseburgers, so...). This would be the second time for the latter. First time a number of months ago, I thought was a fluke. Also - had gotten some bad produce around that time - lettuce, beans, asparagus, pineapple. Usually, I buy totally fresh, but sometimes, it is easy to grab pre-cut stuff to feed to kids in the car or whatever, and ... because I look closely at it - assess it - was a little freaked that it looked fine (so must have been deliberately packaged to look OK, obviously - granted, yesterday I was distracted, but that brings up another important point - should I REALLY have to look that closely to make sure my food is not rotten or dangerous in a nationally respected chain???). Not sure what to think. I know it happens. Got some nasty stuff from Giant Eagle before too - both produce and meat products (chicken, ground meat). Very scary on some levels, though. A friend did tell me that she noticed Trader Joe's packs and sells meat weeks apart - she, apparently, feels it should be taken off the shelf given the package date on it. Anyway... what do I know? Since we're in sharing mode, however, was wondering if anyone had similar issues. It does make me angry. It is a bad feeling to see, right in front of you, that our food supply for our families is not safe. Appalling in this country where we can do better. There are people in other countries who have no choice, which is sad and unfair, and... are we really the people going to help these other places if we can be this irresponsible on occasion? Again, I'm reminded of my Oscar post and the documentary on US food safety - Food, Inc.... many people do get sick or die each year because of this type of negligence.

And second in my short list of "gross" for the day... Rielle Hunter, John Edward's nasty mistress. What a crazy slut (I'm keeping it PG here despite what I want to say). Hubby was laughing the other day over her "sexy" photo shoot; he said she was trying to be all "come-hither" in a man's shirt and pearls (we watch The Today Show :-), but there were like Dora dolls and Kermit the Frog stuffed animals all around her. I saw them today (again, on the Today Show - not going to buy or pick up the rag she's in), and - yeah, they're funny (I'm a bit shocked that this was done by GQ Magazine). She's not very pretty anyway (and I don't care about looks, truly - I mean, have you seen the size of my nose? I have perspective), so... her face looks ridiculous - those thin, wrinkly lips pursed together like she's some sort of centerfold - that ugly yellow straw hair. THEN... she poses pants-less with her two year old daughter. Priceless - and... disgusting. And... I'm sure the "sexy" shots in the kid's room were supposed to imply the scandalous affair and, thereby, entice readers, but.. come on (and, apparently, Ms. Hunter is horrified by the photos herself - well.. then... why the @#%&#@ did you pose?!?!). We all knew when the story first broke that she was known for this type of behavior and was enamored of money and fame. This ridiculous woman had the nerve to question Elizabeth Edward's story about how she found out (John didn't tell her - it was another dramatic cell phone dispute a la Tiger Woods - puhleeeze....) - PLUS she disses her in her "interview", saying she has a mighty wrath Really? Some women would have come at you with a machete, so...um.... think about it, Ms. Cheesey Face / Ugly Hair (yeah - I just resorted to nonsensical playground name-calling - seems appropriate here). And ... truly ... I'm at a loss - I mean, Elizabeth was lied to, she has terminal cancer, she was publicly humiliated, her kids had to see it all - I think she handled it all really well. That poor little girl (Francis - Quinn ???)- crazy, crazy mother and disloyal, corrupt father. Normally, I don't pay attention to such crap, but... this is just TOO MUCH!

Day beckons (it is one on one with Lil today :-). No photo. Didn't want to post anything "gross", so... see you next time (and, as always, thanks for all the banter, all).

17 March 2010

She REALLY should make those kids behave!

I know there are a lot of sympathetic people out there, but when you've had to deal with the string of tantrums I have today, you do feel a bit shamed and ostracized. OK - please stop me if I begin to ramble (oh - I just made myself laugh - I know you couldn't stop me even if you were in front of me with a bat threatening to smash my computer - and, ladies from afar, that is not an invitation to do so - you know who you are ;-).... OK - so scratch that - let's go with "ramble alert"....

I look forward to my one on one mornings with my kiddies. Today - was Milo's day. Not a great start... When we dropped Lil at her play group, he chased her into the bathroom, growling (I'm told she spent a good deal of the morning needing to be held and comforted - great - either she's traumatized or a future Oscar contender - of course, I prefer the latter). Gymnastics was a disaster. The teacher (his beloved Miss Beth) said "hello" and he dropped to the mat, face first and didn't move. Since I have to still do "Mommy and Me" with him (believe it or not, he will not go in on his own), I tried to pick him up, but he was, of course, limp. I got him to his feet, whispered something threatening in his ear (take the Wii away - no outside play on this beautiful day - something....) and tried to hoist him towards the other kids. No go. When it came time to do his favorite event - bars, he got happy for about 5 min. (one turn, basically), then.... I did something wrong when I spotted him (keep in mind, because I did coach his age, I do make him behave and do the trick properly - no one needs to get hurt) and the growling started again - the careening from side to side (he even does this awful like circus trick where he makes it look like, when I go to grab him, that I've somehow thrown him to the mat - those close to us are aware of this maneuver - those who don't know us... I mean who knows what they think, ya know?), so... to keep everyone involved safe and in good spirits, we left (besides, there was this poor kid trying to decide if he wanted to go in and do the class... and... I mean - probably not with the Tasmanian Devil careening about).

The post office went about the same (and I was DETERMINED to get done what I needed to - tired of going home and cowering) - DSW (I broke a pair of my cherished flip flops - needed new ones - STAT) was OK - he hid from me and did cartwheels - went through a security door looking for the bathroom - also "picked out" an armful of "beautiful" shoes "for Mommy", but... not bad (really - this is OK in my world because he's happy - active and spazzy, but happy - it's the "Mad Milo" that I find so upsetting). Trader Joe's. Ugh. By this time, we had Lil, and... I did that silly thing we all do (you know you do) whereby I bring in one bag in which I plan to put in my "items for dinner and maybe one treat" - of course, I come out 45 min. later with my one responsible, environmentally friendly bag and five other paper ones - FULL of who knows what.... Oh - and balloons (speaking of circus tricks). Anyway, I made the mistake of unhooking Lil from her carseat myself and... that did it. He could do it - he was a big boy - why do I always help him...... And it continued inside the store. In appropriately Milo / Jekyll and Hyde fashion, he would, helpfully, grab our bananas, organic apple juice (all my little ones know our "regular stuff" to buy), milk... then, he would flip out and run or lay down or yell - then.... Lil got into the act. I had to continually threaten to take away the highly coveted organic lollies - a trip to the playground - a turn feeding the fish when we got home - ANYTHING I could think of that was important enough to them so that if it was TAKEN AWAY, they would be prompted to good behavior (and this is almost always after sweet-talking them and asking them to be my "super special helpers" and offering all sorts of fun stuff when we get home - I really do try that first - the "what's wrong?" / reward system - I can be nice :-). Awful. Embarassing (and it didn't help that a former member from the Mother's Group I so miserably failed at... well... I don't really care.... but she was there, staring - AND, in gym class earlier, a similar situation had presented itself in the form of a chatty "I know her" - type acquaintance who likes to explain Milo to those who don't know me. Awesome).

I wouldn't feel so bad - I wouldn't be driven to tears IF.. I didn't have to admit that it does look like my kids don't have manners - that they walk all over me - that I don't care what people around me think - and worse.... ugh... much worse... that I'm a bad mother. I keep saying "haha - my two oldests are SO calm" (and they are, right?) OR - "naptime" (good God -these two haven't napped in MONTHS - one of them YEARS!!! Who am I kidding?). This is all karmic retribution from way back when I, then childless, would judge and judge and judge. I'm serious - I was terrible.

Anyway.... glad I'm home ... Coffee anyone?

Everybody is Irish today!

So ... have fun!

Spring-like activity planned for the day: a cookout for dinner (NO green burgers - maybe just the salad will be green OR a green-tinted bevie)

Favorite St. Patty's Day memory: Olivia went to an all-girls school in Ohio called Our Lady of the Elms. They made leprechaun traps there (she may have been in first grade ??)- lured the little fellas with some sort of green pudding. It worked so well (they caught one who left green dust behind) that she asked for the trap - took it home - kept it for years. The first year we were in our house here in Pittsburgh, we brought that sucker out again - I mean, this was a new house (to us, that is - it's really over 100 years old); we didn't know if there would be a leprechaun or not lurking about, so... we set it, and sure enough - the next day - it worked! We told her we caught one - and... as she went to check the trap for green dust or whatever, Marcello yelled, "look out, here he comes". I can still picture her in school uniform - all set for school, running out of the kitchen from the wild, just set free leprechaun. You think that's bad? The leprechaun across the street left their kitchen littered with beer caps ;-).

Get out - get moving!! Warm now, but I hear snow flurries are in store for Sunday...

Photo: This is actually last year... but I liked the huggy pic so much.... Milo did a leprechaun hat this year (again, watched Enzo make his holiday hats, etc. for years - Now, as big preschooler this year - he gets to himself!). Enzo and Olivia wore green to school today - Milo will do gymnastics today (but, alas, he is not feelin' the green today) plus maybe we'll make some frozen juice pops (he asked yesterday :-) so must oblige - maybe we can sneak in some green kiwi slices) - and.. well... Lil looks like a leprechaun, so... we're set!

16 March 2010

What a difference a visit makes!

So ... hubby and I don't get a lot of family visitors - never have. The whole genesis of our relationship, apparently, had some family members confused and wondering how two such offbeat creative types with such checkered pasts could EVER form a life together (lots of speculation on how we make our money or why we had so many kids - makes us giggle - Other confrontations leave us frustrated or baffled) - others are going through "stuff" on their own and they are inaccessible, for lack of a better word, most holidays, birthdays, family events (a shame because they will regret such absence) - others plan their own events and outings, often "forgetting" to notify us in the shuffle (and we're not too weirded out by it since this dynamic existed respectively for both of us since we were, at least, teenagers) - our fathers are no longer with us, sadly - so... we never know when support will come - when happy, fun family get-togethers will truly be just that... fun and happy - it is something that is always in the backs of our minds (a slight sadness - at times, an annoyance) - we are grateful when we do get our infrequent visitors (my brother and his girlfriend or hubby's sister and family are often with us for good times - my Dad's family is supportive as are hubby's cousins).

My kids adore my mother - Olivia has a long, close past with her - Enzo shares a similar temperament and affinity for order and organization - Milo likes the attention - and Lilliana is just always up for a new experience or friend (and she does bond with my Mom - one funny moment occurred in a bookstore when Lilliana vehemently shooed me away so that Grandma could sit next to her on a little story hour bench). They do love her. Over Christmas, my Mom was with us, and we were so happy about it. We had not spent a Christmas morning with her in years. She read to Enzo fireside, brought heirloom jewelry for Olivia (that meant a lot to her), held Milo a lot and talked to him softly (which he needs now and then), took short chilly walks outside with Lilliana, helped us bake all our cookies and prepare Christmas dinner - and she brought all sorts of fun stuff like a house that lights up and the story of The Night Before Christmas (epic poem, actually). We laid out cookies for Santa, we went shopping, we watched movies (Julie and Julia a favorite this particular season), we went to church, we sprinkled reindeer food on the front lawn Christmas Eve, we hosted other family members for wine, hot cider and snacks - we had fun! I know she gave up other invitations and defied others to focus on my kids for a bit, so we are very grateful for that. The kids showered her with gifts (many from Santa's Treasure Shop at school - proudly chosen and presented :-) and with attention. As another holiday approaches, we hope, as we extend invitations, etc., that a similar situation will present for us. If not, we still have us, right? Thank you, Mom - you'll never know how much your visits mean to me - to all of us.

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Tomorrow... that is... just don't know where the day / week will take me... so will say it when I can :-).

15 March 2010

My neighborhood Starbucks changed looks, and... I don't like it one bit.

Coffee, cozy fire - watching the rain fall. Milo set up with Monsters vs. Aliens downstairs in the big leather chair, the "big blanket" (hubby's comforter from high school :-), some sugarless bubblegum and vanilla milk. Lil upstairs with Bolt (yeah, Bolt - as she says), raisins, juice and some her favorite bath toys that she carries around the house (she slept in - time change working for us here). I hear birds singing. I feel organized today (and full of appreciation for ALL the comments I got in support of my last post ;-). All forms, lunches, etc. out the door earlier with my schoolkids. I hear Enzo had no tears today when Daddy left (classroom seat up front now) - Olivia had "dress down" (no uniform), so... all good.

Yeah - so the neighborhood Starbucks in Squirrel Hill (the old one, I call it, terrible parking, squeezed into a little corner lot in a busy intersection, tables outside have to deal with exhaust fumes) has redecorated. Walls are white - cabinets brown - furniture very nondescript a la cafe in a mall. And I don't like it. I want the old - read words off the walls, worn cushy chairs, cluttered counter area - back! Olivia and I used to meet Marcello there after her Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre class or her Pittsburgh Center for the Arts class, and we would sit - get her a steamer (she still drinks steamers in the morning to this day - homemade by Mommy ;-) - lattes for us - she went through a stage during which we had to draw mermaids for her constantly - like in different "scenes", so... we have many Starbucks napkins in old artwork bins with mermaids on them - dated - little notes about what we did that day - what she said. Anyway... memories. I'll get over it. Truthfully, we switched to the cleaner, calmer Shadyside Starbucks anyway (so much for supporting our local coffeeshop - for shame....) so we could shop Williams Sonoma and Gap on Saturdays and grab a quick, fun lunch somewhere like Pamela's or La Feria (see, I'm already over it :-) - and did I forget to mention that we went to Girasole a couple nights ago?? - nice time).

Last night, outside hide and seek with neighbors (debated on whether or not to go to school fundraiser - decided no in lieu of quiet - besides Big Daddy M took Olivia lacrosse shopping earlier and hit Costco, so... both needed wind-down) - misty, gray evening - my friend brought delicious chocolate cookies over for us (and earlier this week, we found cookies with a note at our door - I'm likin' this cookie week ;-)- I made wholesome dinner of veggies, potatoes and the easiest meatloaf in the world (ground beef - one onion - one piece of bread, torn - a couple eggs - ketchup - salt and pepper - glazed with Dijon mustard, brown sugar and ketchup mix - baked for hour at 350 - really tasty and moist - and if you put it in a loaf pan as opposed to shaping it on a baking sheet - you can use lower fat meat, and it is still moist and flavorful cuz it cooks in its own juices - a ha...). Watched Pulp Fiction again (gotta be in the mood for that... and we were). Bedtime was easy - Enzo likes to lay and gaze at his fish tank now (and I cut his hair so we can see his beautiful little face) - Milo is in the habit of dozing off after a snack in bed (and bedtime with him is always peppered with "I love yous" ;-)- Olivia is in a great homework, favorite shows, chat with friends routine - and Lil is going to bed early these days... All good.

Photo: Just milling around this am.....

14 March 2010

What DOESN'T Matter (a "mean" post)

In a previous post, I mention reaching out to others - even just to say "hi" - to hold the door, etc. From my perspective, I am a stay at home mom, who, for years, had limited interaction with people. I craved friendship. I was a little ashamed that I didn't have close friends nearby. I was happy in my world, but... I have to admit, I did get teary thinking about it all. So... truthfully, when someone asked how old my baby was - asked where I got my shirt - struck up a conversation at the baby pool - or talked to me at the library toddler story hour, I was eternally grateful - made me feel like I belonged in some way.

I get very tired of people judging and excluding others. I see it so often, I wonder if it is just part of insecure human nature to want to elevate yourself in this way. Before I begin my rant, let me disclaim it by saying, I'm not a grudge holder, but ... I do not forget what I've seen as part of a person's character - or lack thereof (I can already hear some people gearing up to blast me for being on my high horse - don't bother - I rarely feel "better than" someone else. Blast me, however, and you will become one of the lucky few firmly planted beneath me in terms of moral character for eternity ;-) - yeah - gasp). What I observe about someone, too, does not necessarily mean I don't like them. I realize we are all flawed (and that absolutely includes me... so... grain of salt, right?).

I have seen women viciously roll their eyes at pregnant neighbors or friends, trying to handle little kids or wrestle groceries from the car. Hand over mouth, they turn, lower their eyes and begin the gossip. "She's not that tired. Why does she act like she doesn't feel well? She looks terrible; how much weight has she gained? My husband had to help her with her laptop the other day. Are you going to her one year old's birthday party? I don't want to go - boring." Giggle. Giggle. A year later, these same women are bragging about their own big pregnant bellies, workin' that extra 50 pounds, acting so sick that they have to lay down for hours and their friends and neighbors bring them food, calling that same person about whom they snarked a bitch for not attending their kid's birthday party - More. Shocking? Not really.

I know women (and, yes, I'm picking on women today - Why? Because we should support one another - lend a hand - offer the "benefit of doubt" - NOT gossip about others or judge other females for how many kids they do or do not have - if they wear heels or Converse high tops and combat boots - whatever - my experience, given my current lot in life, is mostly women, so there - no apologies) who consider themselves artists, open-minded hipsters, liberal cool parents, music snobs, etc. YET immediately stereotype the women they meet who maybe did not choose to have their babies at the Midwife Center - or who enjoy buying expensive jeans and designer bags - who may send their kids to private or, worse, Catholic, schools (vocal self-proclaimed atheists rarely listen to other opinions OR notice other truly searching / I need an answer atheists - open your freakin' eyes, right? Reach out - use that alleged open mind of yours). Do you REALLY ask sincerely about what kind of music another person likes? Or - if he/she isn't wearing black and doesn't have any arm ink, do you just not bother.... Hmmmm... that looks like an expensive haircut, she probably doesn't know who The Pixies, Bad Brains, The Pogues, Metric or Passion Pit are? Funny - that was a random grouping of music, wasn't it? I'm expecting some snark on that as well. Why didn't you include blah blah blah (remember -that's what pontificating sounds like to me); they are true visionaries circa 2010.... WHATEVAH!!!

Here's a little something about me (and, again, don't feel sorry for me - don't be pissed - don't peg me a narcissist, I'm just talking...). I am a former vegan who has turned back to meat for health reasons (anemia, etc. - don't ask) - though I am still a HUGE animal rights person. I am also well-versed in nutrition, having had to watch my weight for years as a dancer (and, yeah - doesn't bother me - I needed to be fit - and I wanted a certain look - my decision, in part - but, it was also part of that world - you don't have to like it or approve - it is what it is). I raised my oldest vegetarian for years - though all my youngests eat meat. I disapprove of fat-laden, red meat heavy diets. I am a big raw foods, wheat germ and vegan yogurt, carrot juice and other vitamin-rich drinks that don't fizz fan to this day. I usually keep my mouth shut when other, all-knowing people tell me how they are foodies, nutrition fanatics, etc., implying that any of us within earshot are not. I am a good cook (not great) who can whip up the finest creamy casserole or sloppy joes as well... I'm not trying to be someone I'm not - I'm not trying to impress anyone.

Back to the dance thing ... I worked my ass off for years. I went to some pretty impressive auditions, studied with some fantastic teachers, performed in many capacities, taught all forms, LOVED IT with all my being for years. I was very good. I don't know why, but some people are surprised when they see photos of what I could do (can do ;-). You were on pointe? You're that flexible ( was a kick ass gymnast for years too - worked HARD on it)? Sometimes... and I'm going to shock some again - I get - "I'm better than you at yoga. Oh - I was in dance, but I quit because it wasn't cool. I can do that. You look too heavy to be a dancer (and / or your boobs are too big for a dancer's - and, yes, I do have some baby weight still on that needs to come off - totally my fault because I eat and I don't move enough, currently - soon...)." Again - these are adults!?!? And, again, I keep my mouth shut. I know they aren't dancers. I know they suck at yoga (though I would never say any of this - and wouldn't even think it until attacked, know what I mean?). I know they're angry for some reason. Maybe some of you who read me know what I'm talking about? Though... I'm SURE you're nicer - even in the private recesses of your brain - than I am. None of the people I'm pontificating on now read me (at least I don't think so... and, yeah, if pontificating sounds like "blah blah blah" to me, I can't even imagine what you guys are actually reading / hearing here :-) since I am, in fact, pontificating).

I walk barefoot all year - do yoga daily - raise my kids to respect all races, religions, etc. I also love fashion - Manolo Blahnik shoes - Seven jeans - crazy expensive tops and bags and accessories. Can't help myself. I deck my kids out too. So what. I also study Eastern religions - I am obsessed with the occult, ghosts, the afterlife, etc. - always have been (I checked a ghost story book out of the library so much as a kid, they gave it to me when it became really worn) - yet I support my daughter in all her Catholic sacraments, altar serving, etc. and even occasionally wear a little silver mini rosary in the shape of the symbol for "woman" looped on my thumb - Given to me by a nun during a difficult time in my life, it does give me some strength.

I send my kids to Catholic School because when I was a single mother and had no one in my family (except for my wonderful Dad) who I was close to (busy being judged by everyone from my youngest brother to my oldest childhood friend - some of this has changed - some hasn't), I sent my beloved Olivia to a school where I knew she would be safe and happy, knowing I would move a lot, I would work a lot, I would stress a lot. Also, my late father was Catholic, and I have fantastic memories of holidays with his family - my sweet aunts and uncles and fun cousins :-). I had a horrible public school experience (and I don't even have enough fingers and toes to count the people I currently know who are pro-public education and vocal and mean about the "fluffy" private schools I allow my daughter to explore for high school, etc., but... choose a charter school for their kids. Not entirely public, my friends - alternative a la private curriculum. Think about it - at least before you open your mouth, that is).

My Dad was raised well - ethnic, working class - fantastic work ethic, religious, kind, giving, respectful of others. He did well in life (in many ways - but I am talking specifically financially here because so many people relate to that as a discussion point) so that when my parents lived in Europe, I was driven by a private chauffeur - I ate in the finest restaurants - I traveled extensively and stayed in the finest hotels, etc. - though... my family preferred to travel like Europeans, attempt the language, etc. (I can speak French, can understand Spanish, and my family reads / understands a combination of the following: German, Spanish, Luxembourghese, Polish). My parents went to the Grand Duke's Ball in Luxembourg - they had accounts at the finest stores in town - they belonged to a private supper club - a private men's club, etc. My Dad would have kicked my butt if I acted like I was better than anyone else. I never would. I keep my mouth shut when those close to me and my kids now (for whatever reason - family, marriage, etc.) tell me HOW to live well. My perspective has changed.... I have this - I have that - the past, present, future - I have what I believe.

I am not conservative by any stretch of the imagination (politically, personally, emotionally) - though may appear so or may lean that way on occasion because I am committed to my kids and my family. I am open-minded beyond most people's expectations when it comes to personal relationships - though my husband and I are definitely welded together now by commitment to the beautiful life we have created - the amazing places our kids and our relationships with them will take us. I am swelling with pride, tears in my eyes right now, because my Enzo said today that he loves that I "make a comfy home". I do everything for my kids. I have gone to extreme measures in the past for my Olivia (again, we were alone). There are / were adults who don't understand my motives - would prefer that their needs are met. I don't care. They are adults; they can suck it up - own up to their mistakes / shortcomings. I've had to do the same, and it is NOT pretty. I mean - ouch - but you'll be better for it.

I am multi-degreed but will wear a low-cut shirt if I feel like it or put some self-tanner on my legs (does not make me any less cerebral - heck - I may even over apply the lipsticky, which, for some reason, is only acceptable "in certain circles" if you're one of two extremes - wearing a Lily Pulitzer floral or happen to be a tough rockabilly, roller derby girl). I am moral and uphold ethics in my work, my family life and in how I deal with anyone I meet yet I might swear now and then - I might not worry so much if someone has a baby before marriage or chooses a relationship that suits him or her though not me or, for example, someone's opinionated conservative mother (to illustrate my point in a really strange but universal way). I garden and buy organic - nurse my babies past a year old and do not like medications that numb or sedate me or my baby in any way (personal preference - those who need to be sedated - you do what you need to do :-), but... I will always go to a hospital over a home birth or a midwife center (though love and respect midwives - albeit in a medical setting - I have lately been harshly judged for this revelation). Too many lives lost over the years to lack of medical intervention, in my opinion. My baby would have died during my first birth without medical intervention, and I would have died during my second - and, no, I will not be elaborating now. Part of my point is this: respect what you hear - what you see - what you feel. Know that others feel differently and are entitled to without explanation.

So... really -reach out - open your mind - accept others - TRY to make a new friend each week - not just for you but for others too. This world needs to be a kinder, gentler place right now, and I just don't see it heading that way. Maybe a little nudge .... (albeit a bitchy one from me)..... Everyone you meet will be (or should be) a sincere study in extremes.... don't try to figure it all out - maybe just try to absorb and listen. That's what I'm attempting these days.... though most often we all want to discuss and disclose (also human nature - and something to really enjoy - give and take, right?).

Photo: Me - laughing it all off....(holding one of my best friends - my camera ;-). And - again, hope this makes sense... I write pretty quickly and off the cuff, preferring to spend my time with my lovelies and my own personal interests (which is something we all share, right?). To all - I REALLY do appreciate your stories, your contributions to my blog via email, Facebook or whatever. Keep it all coming!

12 March 2010

NOTHING like warm cookies....or Parsley.....

Serene rainy morning (well as serene as it can be with all the old valentines spilled out on the dining room table - little ones wanting to feed fish, color with markers, play the Wii, help me unload dishwasher or get in the shower - all at the same time :-) - some yoga with the youngests - hanging out - organizing - playing - working on a number train puzzle - savoring moments - baking cookies, obviously (and preparing for Big Daddy M's Beer Batter Fish Fry again tonight - becoming sort of a Lenten family tradition) - painted my toenails black (cuz I am wearing my flip flops outside already - any warmer and I'm in bare feet!). Splashed A LOT outside yesterday - muddy, muddy, muddy but fun (looks like sun is out so maybe more of that today) - Lil started gymnastics (older gym intimidated her a bit... may try infant / toddler gym next week - though we did "have fun", as she says, jumping and dancing as she says it :-). Olivia starts lacrosse soon, and we've just signed the boys into baseball... a "training camp" that looks fun. Gotta stay active, right?

Saw a scary but "happy ending" segment on the Today Show this morning and would like to share an article (and then, of course, I'll pontificate a bit). Given the fact that Milo and Lil LOVE baths and both will take two a day or MORE if I let them (they like to play and swim ;-) - I found this story interesting. How many of us will leave the bathroom to check on a boiling pot downstairs for 60 sec. or go to the bedroom to lay out PJs? In that time, a toddler can drown - and they do so silently - no splashing - no crying.... Worth a read. See - that wasn't so bad.... no lecture here :-).

In fact, what does everyone have going on this weekend? I have a support event for Haiti tonight, play date for Enzo on Sat., chauffeuring a get together with Olivia's friends Sat. night, and...hopefully some outdoor stuff if it isn't too rainy and / or downtime with hubby (and... we missed out on the They Might Be Giants kids' show tickets... if anyone knows where to get any - ???). Thanks, all, for sharing your stories of tantrums (in response to mine :-) via email, Facebook, Blogger - whatever - ALWAYS appreciate the support. In fact, maybe I will get on a soapbox long enough to just say that it should probably become regular practice for all of us to continue reaching out to others. I know a few people expecting babies now, and it has made me sort of reminisce about that time in my life.I keep hearing people with little ones, new babies, etc. talking about how they're looking forward to the pool - or the summer, in general, and... I get a little sad. At that time, for me, I did not have a lot of support from family - quite the opposite. Also, I had so many babies so fast - right on the heels of working fulltime and during my Dad's battle with cancer that I often felt very alone. Milo was a high-maintenance baby, making play groups and Mommy and Me Yoga no longer possible (and I always felt bad for Enzo about that because he liked the interaction). I just remember going to the pool and sitting alone - or shopping with all the babies and no Mom or sister-in-law or anyone to bond with - I even did fundraisers for my daughter's school but did so alone because no one really knew me well or those who did, worked and couldn't help. Most of my new friends and acquaintances in the neighborhood had other better friends, and I ... well... just had a hard time reaching out or connecting. It's different now, but any connections I did manage to make or anytime someone reached out even just to help me with my stroller, well.... it all meant a lot to me :-). Food for thought....

My final word? Check out the Serious Eats blog (again - on my blog list below) - a little piece on parsley. Most of us think of it as a garnish or part of a recipe, but it is FULL of vitamins - literally like taking a multi-vitamin a day if you use it often.

10 March 2010

Plant some vegetables!

Think spring! A pretty user-friendly "all about a garden" exists here (I find some confusing - frost dates by region, weeks before and after.... this is info.-rich and full of relevant links).


Winter storm 2010 images. Seriously... here's what we were doing just a few short weeks ago. My kids are still adjusting to the schoolday after so much time off - I'm looking at some pretty big dirty piles of snow out my window now (though now I see birds picking through potential food on these piles, and I see melty puddles all over the street. Been sayin' it all week...spring?)... It happened - just seems a lifetime ago...

Photo 1 - The sledding / boarding "hill" in our normally flat front yard
Photo 2 - Olivia and friends waist-deep in snow - less than 24 hours after they headed off to ski on snow-free roads
Photo 3 - The view from our porch the morning after...
Photo 4 - Self-portrait outside, midnight-ish, the night the storm swirled

09 March 2010

Now We're Happy!

One Trader Joe's run (tantrum nonexistent EVEN when they were out of Milo's favorite organic fruit lollies and granola bars - in fact....check out this Trader Joe's chocolate chip granola bar recall) and a few errands later - eating chicken nuggets and fruit jellies (well... iced soy Chai and raw green beans for me) and listening to The Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in the car - AND we are fine. I am not frazzled. Milo is happy, happy, happy (great day at school). Lilliana is enjoying a day of "go with the flow" with Mommy. We took our jackets off - we splashed in a few puddles - we made "telescopes" out of recycled paper towel holders and went exploring - we bought stuff for dinner - we got green and white balloons - a life / day well-lived :-). Doesn't matter that the snow has melted to reveal a broken bird feeder (lovingly painted and hung by Enzo in the fall) - our Radio Flyer wagon that was somehow buried after use a few months ago - a dirty, deflated soccer ball (that still has some KICK in it - Lilliana scored a couple muddy goals) - Just matters that we are out enjoying the day (and each other).

A couple of observations on this beautiful day:

First, I saw a beautiful white-haired older woman quite brilliantly turned out in a posh and tailored black coat (definite retro feel) and matching shoes, taking her walk near Frick Park. Just loved her look....

Second, Lilliana likes to grab flowers on our many Trader Joe's runs, and... today picked out some droopy sunflower-ish blooms that we will refresh in our many vases indoors. Good idea - I should listen to my kids more ;-).

Finally, if you are driving and have to slam on your brakes and stop short (groceries spilling everywhere) and then yell, "I can't freakin' believe this!", your two year old will do the same - intonation correct, gestures dead-on, but... "look" definitely much cuter. Let's hope she doesn't repeat anything...

Photo: Dancin'!!! What else?

Very Similar to a Public Flogging

So... this morning.... we're all set to go. I had that routine down again - breakfast orders as their eyes open, socks in boots, clothes laid out, back packs set to go, lunchboxes filled with soup, salad, chocolate milk, bottled water, peanut butter, etc. Everybody was having a great time, watching cartoons, running around, laughing, talking about their day at school (seriously, Enzo is going home with a friend so was excited and chatting about it, the little neighbor boy, Eli, was riding with us, so... again, everyone excited). I even had time to pack Marcello his beloved Peruvian Beef Saltado (family from Peru), which I stir-fried during that CRAZY dinner hour last night (and this one was a doozy - Lilliana lost a bottle of milk somewhere in the house, one of the fish died, I broke my shoe - I'm a barefoot / flip flop girl all year so not a real shoe, but... still, all the kids were fighting, no one wanted stir fry but me and hubby so I did breakfast for dinner - like in Coraline - for everyone else, though little ones wouldn't eat, I had to resort to putting the Wii on again....ugh...). Anyway, everyone zips up, grabs lunches, puts back packs on... heads out the door. I gave Milo his lemonade (that was his "breakfast" order) - Lilliana waves good-bye to him - Olivia starts to put him in his booster seat, then.... the "thunder cloud" face. He gets red - eyes fill with tears - he glares under his long, long bangs - he drops everything in his hands to the ground - he begins to growl -then he begins to rant (you didn't give me a cup - I don't like these little straws - no one listens....This is all a step up from when he used to point his crooked little finger at us and just say one word - "Never" - very menacing ;-) - then... he runs (the lap of rage, we call it). He takes off down the sidewalk - sharp left at the driveway - breakneck pace to the backyard, the whole time growling, ranting, yelling. Finally, his boots slow him down - hubby able to corner him - throw him over his shoulder and pin him into the car. Usually, he'll act like he's gone unconscious in the car - then whoever drives him that day will have to "fireman carry" him into the building (last week, he went into the school bathroom and sat in a corner, face to the wall, until hubby left - we are told AS SOON AS we leave, he is FINE - when I pick him up, he is excited and tells me he had a great day - AND this has only been going on since the "snow days". AND - 90 percent of the time, he is FINE by the time we get to school and wants to run in and "surprise" his teachers or takes his coat off running because he is so excited to get there - FICKLE FOUR YEAR OLD :-). Oh well - guess I know better than to give him the actual juice box - noted is the fact that I should put the liquid into another more acceptable container, which I did this morning, to avoid the "Mad Milo Syndrome". Pick your battles. Anyway... we'll manage - we always do.

Oh - and our "Winter Walk" yesterday turned into a springtime splashfest - great fun! Sipping coffee, I walked the sidewalk and HAD to have my sunglasses on - Milo and Lil splashed and climbed crunchy snow mountains. We all went inside to get dry and warm after quite a while out in the fresh air!

Photo: Would this angel face do ANYTHING like what I describe above? I think we all know the answer to that one.....

08 March 2010

A Winter Walk

Off we go!

An Oscar recap (of sorts) and... some new fish...

What a likable group of Oscar nominees last night! Seriously - love Jeff Bridges - love Sandra Bullock (Colin Firth, Morgan Freeman, George Clooney, Woody Harrelson - the whole lot of them, really) - completely happy that a woman won for Best Director and for such a good, purposeful movie. Precious grabbed my heart - what an adorable girl they found for their lead,Gabourey Sidibe and... Mo'Nique - just great - out on a limb with that role. I never really care if the person was deserving of the Oscar. A couple of times have felt that the nomination was a bit odd - even the win, but... for the most part... I like to see people have their moment - my analysis is usually pretty personal - I think they seem nice - they did a good job in this movie - whatever - I forgive past bad movies - all that. So... by "love", I usually mean I like the person, and... though some of these movies seem powerful and beyond Oscar -worthy (others not so much - District 9 ??? I mean I saw it - I love scary - I like aliens - I like the sense of justice in this movie - but Oscar-nominated - ????), of course, hubby and I rarely have time to breathe let alone see movies, so... have some catching up to do.

Speaking of catching up.... I almost attended an Oscar party last night :-). Sent hubby down the street with hot Oscar-themed hors d'oeuvres (mini ham and cheese quiches - get it? ;-), and... District 9 prawn and crab puffs...). He chatted with friends and neighbors for an hour or so, then.... per the plan laid out... headed home to relieve me of duty. Everyone bathed, fed and in pjs, I started to get ready, but... Milo would not stay in bed - was disrupting Enzo, who had school today AND Lilliana, who just needed to sleep given the fact that she was up for hours in the middle of the nght on Sat - and Olivia had a test to study for, so... she wasn't interested in a party at all. Anyway, we had to divide and conquer, and... I ended up with chicken salad, tomato soup and non-alcoholic Italian blood orange soda (i.e. no champagne cocktail for me :-) on the couch watching most of the show by myself (running upstairs now and then to confer with hubby, who was on "watch Milo" duty, on details :-). It was fine. I was able to privately get weepy over some emotional moments. For me - the documentary on unsafe food (Food, Inc.) with a quick reference to the sweet two year old boy who ate a hamburger and died 12 days later of e.coli - was a big cry moment for me - mentioned in passing, the image of the little angel eating his lunch on the home movie next to his tearful mom's interview saying he went from that to dead 12 days later was almost too much.... Oh - the things I notice. For the record, the dolphin documentary, The Cove, won that category, though I am certainly looking up Food, Inc. as well - gotta keep our kids' food supply safe. On the lighter side, I am shamelessly checking out all the fashion reviews from Oscar night today :-) - off the top of my head - loved Cameron Diaz's dress and Demi Moore's - among others like Jennifer Lopez, etc. (though, for example, love Charlize Theron, but... the dress? Not so much...). Also, enjoyed the fact that this year's hosts, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin, kept it kinda light.

My day? Enzo starts piano today to strengthen his little hands and improve his handwriting a bit (and his experience in class, in the longrun) - plus, he shows interest and my Olivia played for years (will have to dig out my sappy post when I lament the loss of our broken down piano to a couple of "guys who haul stuff"). Olivia has a couple big tests today. Milo is with me and so is Lil (and, lately, they are so BUSY, that I don't have five seconds to myself - food and drink demands, problems with games, fighting, wanting to take several baths during the day for water fun - more - makes the time I try to carve out for them more difficult to obtain - between readying the school uniforms and making dinner everyone will like and keeping "it" all organized - REALLY - a rant for another day..... trying to focus on my close time with them lately... LOVE IT :-), for the most part, despite the fact that I run the stairs 50X a day to the point that my muscles feel like I'm training for a marathon just to unlock the childproof gate that they "accidentally" shut again, to wipe up lemonade, to respond to shrieks that could be glee or pain, to find a lost toy - and another toy - and another.... AND I'm losing my voice because of a cough that, due to lack of downtime and CONSTANT talking - please eat your lunch, don't hit your sister, share with your brother, quiet for a sec so I can make your dr. aptmt., etc. - will NOT go away). We will, most likely, gaze at our new fish tank. Yes, we bought fish - Mr. T, Tom Tom, Sally and Jack. We also washed our van and discovered a whole buncha yukky scratches and pretty dramatic paint and other winter-ish issues, so... a trip to the body shop is in order this week. My two oldests need to have their passports renewed this week (the little ones need passports, I guess). All of Olivia's paperwork needs to be in for high school this week. I have a lot to remember. Better get crackin'....

Photo: Two divas - me and Olivia - take a couple weeks ago. I'm dressed for confirmation night; Diva Olivia prefers to dress down until the outfit is unveiled just before we leave (SUCH a diva - though look at my pose - WHAT am I trying to prove? ;-). Are we red carpet-worthy? Hmmmm......

Hope this makes sense.... I am A LOT fried lately... not a little... A LOT ;-).