I am home with four kids - two girls, two boys - ages 14, 6, 5 and 3 (and when I started this blog, just a little over two years ago, I had an infant, a 2yr old, 3yr old and 12yr old - feels like a lifetime ago, but it wasn't ;-). Until about four or five years ago, I worked in marketing. I have been and done many things - dancer, magazine "multi-tasker", advertising copywriter, gymnastics coach, resort town waitress, grad student, etc. Now my areas of expertise are different and diverse. I am savvy, efficient, patient and earthy (like it or not). I am a better cook, an Ok herb gardener, an impressive artist to my kids, an active and prolific photographer, a childrens' clothing stylist (in my head), a manager of all things "household" and a news enthusiast (from politics to celebrity). I am more cynical though less of a worrier / hypochondriac than I used to be. I am increasingly proud of what I do with kids, family and home, but I do still present myself as a "freelance writer".
Pizza Lil delivers! Guess what we had for dinner? Slackin' Friday night (hits the spot after running through the sprinklers with the neighbor kids - AND getting the middle schooler off to a b-day party AND making some yummy iced green tea - perfect for sitting on the deck....)!
It is 80 degrees outside today - it was 35 degrees outside a day ago. My two year old just counted to ten with no problem - then went to find her brother in a game of hide n seek (the first of my kids to actually count THEN "get" the hide n seek concept so young - kudos to Lil). Mad Milo sat through his cousin, Sofia's, theater performance this morning without freaking out - listened to the singing, wanted to be put higher so he could see, recognized Horton from Horton Hears a Who (in the Seussical portion of the show :-) - ALL before "one of those" tantrums (Olivia had to help me carry him out to the parking lot) when the show ended. I actually drank an entire Starbucks drink today without spillage - without disruption - not just amazing, but a true miracle.
Photo: Enzo emerges from a box - because we all know there is nothing amazing about the fact that a box is the BEST place for a hideout ;-).
Quick trip to doctor last night for a little sty on Enzo's eye - actually turned out fun - we picked up his prescription - shopped for chocolate ice cream - had a nice time together. Dinner was chaos because I had to leave it on the stove - Olivia turned it off at appropriate time - Hubby sliced the pot roast, but.... they really liked it - ate a lot(including veggies) - complimented it all. Milo was my "super special helper" all day, but.... did almost get us kicked out of the library while looking for Olivia's research books because he was running like a crazy person (until I calmed him by reading a book to him :-). Lilliana woke up this morning with chocolate ice cream still on her face (yes, she partook of last night's treat too). She is in the bath this am before we head to gymnastics. Glad everyone is out the door - tears from Enzo because he wants to ride the bus and not go to tennis plus he has a "sight word" quiz today - Milo happy but would not even eat one of his beloved granola bars or wear a coat despite chilly temps - Olivia in tears because she says the boys make her late everyday and she has to get a pass from the office (plus her uniform skirt zipper required pinning today - all the 8th grade girls have skirts on their last legs, but... with only a few weeks left, they HAVE to last - sorry girls :-). My freelance project is back on track but.... just requires hours of work a day (my poor kiddies). The 8th grade dinner I'm planning is coming together (fantastic parents in that room), and... my other fundraising event is getting an early start. Fingers crossed. It's looking OK today.....(though I did just take a cold shower - so got in warm tub with baby Lil who is playing with Olivia's old Mermaid Barbie - that's right - Mermaid Barbie, and.... the doll still has a sparkly ponytail holder in her hair that I remember putting in with Olivia YEARS ago - sniff. Oh well - Lil currently refusing gymnastics, so... I'm kinda all dressed up, nowhere to go right now....)
Milo has begun demands this am but is also singing (Down by the Bay.... where the watermelons grow....Back to my home...) - Lil so tired she is sleeping in - Enzo so allergy-ridden that he has no appetite (though is happy that he is snack helper and is looking forward to after school, so... that should help) - Olivia has a big run in school today (the gym teacher is allowing a run in the park as opposed to laps around the gym, which, I think, is just great) - happy for Sandra Bullock and her new adopted baby boy - concerned for the giant oil slick headed for shore (and sad for the families of the accident victims) - happy with the American Apparel thermal long-sleeve t's I bought my boys - psyched to be through some work / freelance stuff and moving forward - calm, for once, about an upcoming fundraising project - concerned about some bullying I've seen lately..... All that and I still have that laundry to put away, toilets to clean, gymnastics to attend, summer activities to plan, planting to get on - more. All good :-).
Oh - and check out some of these free trade products as described in Real Simple.
I've attached some footage of Milo exhibiting kinda how I feel today (yes, it's a tantrum ;-).
Today, Enzo and friends perform for the incoming kindergarten class. I remember doing this a year ago. I love kindergarten. I love the snack and being "snack helper", the newness of the back packs and "Friday Folders", the packed lunches and the excitement of "hot lunch", the artwork, the homework that they tackle with such confidence as the year progresses, show and tell weekly, the valued library books that come home and are treated like treasure, the opportunity to come into the room to help, the fun of first field trips, hearing about the museum pieces that visit, talking about the animals they study, listening to new words from Italian class, dirty jackets from recess where they run like crazy people :-) - all of it!
So - off he'll go in a "silly costume" (plaid, stripes and a tie - wacky ;-)!) - big sis, Olivia, will be giving tours to new students as a member of Student Council (so she'll be all dressed up) - I will pop my head in to get a look at next year's class (in case we decide to keep him in kindergarten another year - ugh -that decision - breaks my heart - very difficult). I made cupcakes for the big event, so... my kiddos will get treats in their lunch - I have to be in the school coordinating my own fundraising and other projects, so... will be there with Lil (Milo safely hanging out in P3).
A year? Really?
Photos: My little guy in his soldier costume "back stage" at the Christmas play this year. What a night that was :-)! Plus - Enzo with Mommy and Daddy - last year on this day. He really does look a lot older now (sniff)!
So ... I was going to write about my laundry room today or lack thereof ... not in a 50's housewife kind of way, but... more in a "I'm neat and clean and really envy the beautiful laundry rooms I see on HGTV with new cool appliances in funky colors and little baskets full of sorts of fresh smelling laundry ecoutrements" way. Living in a house that is 100+ years old, a lot has been redone - to the point that a house we lived in once that had been built in the '60's wasn't as updated as our current much older house - but... still, we have a grimy sandstone basement with exposed walls - we have layers of paint on some areas of the house - our porch is in disrepair - our roof is still slate and expensive to fix -that kind of stuff. So.... I realized - it's not just the lovely first floor (no running the stairs), pristine laundry room that I long to have - it is a house free of worries - OR - more realistically, a house that doesn't add to the obstacles in my day.
Everyday, I have a number of obstacles. First, getting school uniforms upstairs to sleepy kids, waking up over their cereal, eggs and granola bars. Hubby showers while I dig through drawers (today, for example, we had all the shirts, pants, skirts, etc., but... of the socks in my daughter's drawer, none of them were going to work with her shoes today - did I mention they wear uniforms??? - same %$#@!* shoes everyday!), make lunches, dress the little ones, fill back packs with gym shoes - piano books - checks for fundraisers and field trips, make the beds (no one, but me, it appears, has time), etc. I've been through all this before. On top of all that, I have a high maintenance client right now making constant demands and maddening revisions to a project already in progress. I like the client - I really like my designer "go between", but... I am stressed. Another obstacle. My mind is not on what it should be.
I find that I have this tendency to panic a bit. OK - everybody out the door (though, today, I hear reports that my 5 year old is now saying he's not feeling well - must remain on deck for pick-up) - now.... I can work... Wait! Little ones who weren't hungry 10 min. ago now want breakfast. They want honey, peanut butter and whole grain crackers. This is sticky and needs to be assembled. While I am assembling, I remember that I have had an important school RSVP filled out for days now, but... have missed the deadline for turn-in. I also notice out of the corner of my eye that my kindergartner (remember - young for his class, so... does extra handwriting, cutting and other number, phonics practice to keep up - enjoys it - but hard for me to find a quiet moment to spend with him working) has brought home his extra work folder and, in it, is a bunch of extra cutting practice (great - it appears I have allowed him to fall behind - and why? Because I hide our kid scissors from the two year old then cannot find them myself, so... buy more... only to lose them again .... only to forget to practice...ugh). Hmmm .... gotta get ALL that organized.
PLUS ... this is an odd time of year... winter coats accompany spring jackets in our entry way - winter boots have been retired, but... rain boots, running shoes, sports cleats, etc. litter the floor in the hall. I need to make the house liveable (put away these shoes and ALL the baskets of laundry, filling bedrooms, hallways, laundry area IN ADDITION TO getting new blinds on critical windows currently without - like boys' bedroom, kitchen, upstairs bathroom - hello neighbors! Another ugh). I really just want to listen to Lilliana sing songs - play board games with Milo - take Enzo grocery shopping for yummy recipe items - see ALL of Olivia's lacrosse games - even get my own hair cut or go for a walk (haven't done either in a loooong time - I envy the runners and walkers I see going by my house - I get embarrassed about my appearance), but.... I'm trying to hurdle all these obstacles.
Suggestions anyone? I may just be venting, but... the more I write, the better I feel. Odd? Anyway.... I'm sure a lot of you know what I'm trying to say here.
In closing, here's a story to put it all in perspective. My Olivia made me aware of this months ago (all over YouTube), and... maybe you've heard about it too, but... it's the story of baby Eliot, born with a rare genetic disease with a low survival rate, and his family, and... their wonderful celebration of his short life - 99 days. When he died, they released 99 balloons in his memory and started a foundation of the same name (99 Balloons) to help families with special needs kids. Amazing. The family has since had two healthy kids (ages 18 mos. and 3 mos. - the youngest another boy), and they have two blogs - here and here.
Photo: My grown-up, sensitive Olivia and friends before a school dance. Beautiful.
Ok - so I promised to include a sort of Moroccan / Mediterranean-inspired chicken dish that I tried and loved earlier this week. It is actually a garlic-lime chicken with olives, dates - a sweet and salty marinade, so... like I said, a Moroccan shortcut of sorts. Anyway - good with rice. Here goes:
1 - 3 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts 1 cup diced onion 2 to 3 gloves minced garlic 2 t bsp fresh lime juice 1 tbsp molasses 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin 1 tsp oregano 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 tsp ground pepper 1/2 cup sliced pitted Kalamata olives 1/4 cup sliced dates (optional) Cooking spray or light swash of cooking oil (optional)
As you can see (above), this chicken can be made ahead of time for later use in salads, etc. - in a rolled pita - also one of those meals that tastes better next day (this was all communicated to me in this recipe exchange where I got it, and it is all true :-) - which.... is why you can use 3 lbs. chicken or just 1 lb. I actually found that if you make the smaller portion, the marinade barely coats it, so... you made need to add to marinade for the 3 lbs. Also, the molasses really makes it sweet, so... I would watch the amt. on that and, instead, pump up the lime a bit or the saltiness in some way.
Anyway - combine the first 10 ingredients in a bowl (yes, that includes the chicken) - toss it up to coat - then, transfer to a large roasting pan (and you can coat it up with oil - I didn't to lower the fat a bit, and it didn't stick at all - though I did use a Pyrex lasagne pan instead for the reason) - go ahead and pour remaining marinade on top (if there is any), sprinkle top with olives and dates, and pop in the oven - cook 30 - 35 min. at 400 degrees (though, I always cook chicken a little longer to be sure it is done, and this marinade really keeps the chicken moist - and... because of the sweet, salty, peppery mix going on - you could experiment with some coriander, cinnamon, etc.). Easy and really good.
So ... today, Enzo has a pirate / princess birthday party. I will be accompanying him since hubby threatened to dress as a Somali pirate and go in a pair of tattered shorts, no shirt, sunglasses and machine gun (tad inappropriate, Dear - and, while these guys are not funny - poverty - stricken drugged up dangerous teenagers, I did find it amusing that they had tried to overtake a US Navy ship a few weeks back. We happened to be in an area heavily populated with military at the time, and the headline on the paper read something like, "Pirates - What Were You Thinking?" Hmmm..... :-). Afterwards, I'll need some down time - might HuluJamie Oliver's Food Revolution and relax :-). Tired these days - lots of work, lots of kid activity ... just "lots", Anyway, I will be going (and I do love my time with Enzo - he responds so well to one on one time with a parent -though I love all my one on one time with ALL my kids - so rare :-), and Enzo will look something like the photo (from last year) that I've included (since that is the shirt he has chosen to wear - with sash, hat and dagger, of course :-).
So ... we got our family photos taken today. Went well... considering..... Milo was only "Mad Milo" part of the time (though I think his antics probably shot down any chances of us getting all four kids together willingly) - Enzo was an angel (will Photoshop where he had a chafed face from chewing on his shirt - a habit, I'm told, I had as a kid - only I chewed hair and my tongue - yes, my tongue - eewwwww) - Lilliana did not want her picture taken and would NOT put on the cute brown Converse sneakers I brought - instead.... wore her beloved too tight black patent leathers and remained coy throughout - Olivia looked great and had some fantastic photos taken against the backdrop of the city (though Big Daddy M definitely balked at her skinny jeans and her heels - funky, cool rainboots ended up being the shoe du jour, however). Me and hubby even had some cute shots taken together :-). We had perfect overcast light - rescheduled to miss the rain - enjoyed some wind and a smattering of raindrops way up on a bridge overlooking the city. Cool. Hopefully, we look urban and edgy as opposed to frazzled and minivan-ish :-). Grabbed some spaghetti and meatballs and Peroni at some crazy, kid-friendly place afterwards and headed home to fireplace, pjs, and tea (though Olivia has a high school play to attend - and... come to think of it, maybe I drank iced tea and only dreamed about an adult bevie to take the edge off - the afternoon, as always, is a blur :-).
Anyway.... Libby Jones, photographer with talent, patience and a fun attitude, saved our family portrait lives :-). We are sad that she's relocating from Pittsburgh to Phoenix, but.... it was nice working with her.
My Lilliana is on our deck, playing with her sister, Olivia's, old Barbies. The air is cool - it is quiet & sunny - pine branches hang over our railing (we have a BIG hemlock next to us that provides such a pretty backdrop to all our dinners on the deck, late nights with the chiminea and toasty marshmallows, etc.). I don't feel bad today - do have to get some writing / editing done, but... I'm glad she has this alone time - in the morning - outside.
I have a lot of outdoor memories as a kid - dirty feet, voices on the air after dark as we play hide n seek, etc., but... today - I'm remembering a day when it seemed my mom was preoccupied with my brothers, and... I had to be young because I think one of them was still a baby - the other too young to come out and play with me, so... she let me go into the back yard - early morning - much earlier than usual. Our backyard was full of old apple trees (our house was built on the grounds of an old orchard), and we had a patio, so .... I remember taking off my brown sandals, and walking on the cold ground in my bare feet - so cold it made my shins ache :-). There was dew on the ground - apples - and.... because I wasn't used to being out so early, the shadows the tree branches made looked different. I was a little cold in this shade, so I ventured into the yard just a little bit - tempted by the woods and a field just beyond our backyard - because even the birds and other animals sounded different to me, and... of course, I was curious.
I'm wondering if Lil is feeling the same thing - a lot of birds singing (we have babies perched on a nearby house porch) - no tree branch trimming today - very little traffic, so.... on this cool morning, with toys she's never seen before, the backyard familiar but different.... today.... does she feel something special in the air. Spring? Comfort of Mom and big brother nearby? Does she smell coffee from the house, basil from the herb pots - what? Hard to tell...;-).
Good cause: I saw this boy on a commercial (and, now, apparently, there is a story on him); he has Muscular Dystrophy, and his family has a local peanut butter business to raise money for the disease. Check it out.
Good point: For women, the fact that Nike consistently backs their misbehaving athletes is a problem. Read here.
Good clothes: To get the retro brown sandals (and I've touted these before), the little white button-up sweater I had on the day of my above story (and I know you all probably had one too) and more, go here.
Misc. Mother's Day and Spring "Stuff" to remember: Pittsburghers (and others, of course), don't forget to register for "The Race for the Cure" - can do so here. Also, kinda cute idea for a Mother's Day photo shoot (for those of you - A. pregnant and B. so inclined to travel to Chicago - or - C. able to find a similar solution in your own area) from Belly Dance Maternity. And... time to get on those CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture); our local pick is Harvest Valley Farms.
One quick rant (as I close): Yesterday, we went to the park and were ACCOSTED by a bunch of much bigger, much older, very rough kids - all from a nearby school, celebrating Earth Day (school has no playground). I do appreciate kids being kids, and I think everyone should enjoy the city parks, but .... it is not appropriate for 140 + lb. kids to jump on baby swings while babies are swinging - it is not appropriate to knock a little boy backwards down the slide (which happened) - it is not appropriate to use abusive language to tell a 3 year old girl to get out of a tunnel (which also happened). Some of the teachers were paying attention - some were not. Some were VERY aware that the kids were being too wild with all the little ones in the park - also celebrating Earth Day on a beautiful sunny morning / afternoon. I left with a group of parents and kids, some threatening to call the school - some just upset - ALL the little kids intimidated. I think, as warm / outside play weather really gets going, we should all try to be kind, accommodating and gentle with each other (and this from the mother of some very spirited, tough kids). Again... my two cents... for what it's worth....
And, with that.... I've begun following a blog on "free range parenting" on my page - sort of an experimental thing for me because I do not condone hovering, but... I also think that sometimes "letting nature take it's course", etc. can be a bit cruel (bullying and all that), but... it came up twice this week with two of my friends (you guys know who you are - so thanks for the links, heads up), so... I thought - enough thinking about it - time to post / follow :-). Let me know what you think - opinions REALLY appreciated, as always.
Photo: Lil playing alone in her room - something she seems to like to do.
That Lilliana is mad at me this morning for not allowing her to go to school with the boys.
That this has been SOME week - Olivia served 7 am mass everyday - I have 8th grade graduation stuff to coordinate - I chaperoned an ALL DAY field trip for kindergarten (GREAT to spend time with my Enzo - just the sweetest little boy) - I contributed to a teacher breakfast - need to assist with a book fair - I have had two mommy and me gymnastics classes - two well dr. visits - one missed ortho appointment (calling to apologize and reschedule this am) - I have my editing project to continue - hubby has been working late - the lacrosse schedule is strange this week - ugh - I have to stop...
That I get peeved when I leave a specific note for a babysitter and this person ignores the note - feeds my kids crap - lets them watch Spongebob Squarepants marathons - lets them rummage through the junk we pulled out of storage unit and are organizing for Good Will - dresses them in their pajama tops and a semi-suitable bottom for the day - leaves the house a mess - let's the two year old play with real lacrosse balls - let's the four year old litter the deck and backyard with granola bar and lollipop wrappers - lets both of them dig up our newly mulched and planted perennial garden... More. Family members are, apparently, the worst offenders (disclaimers: Writer is aware that she needs to "let things slide" a little more AND deal with her own OCD ;-). Offender has long history of pushing writer and others to the end of the tolerance rope and is enjoying a "bite your tongue" comeback with this particular writer / "kvetcher" :-).
That I am really looking forward to planting, sitting in the sun, taking the boys to swimming lessons, hanging out on balmy, warm mornings with Lil, having Olivia around more often - just... summer, I guess.
That I am trying to "live in the moment" more.
I know all this as I walk the garbage to the curb, wearing my baggy yoga pants, lacy red pj top, William and Mary hoodie, Adidas flip flops - smelling of coffee and baby lotion, my diaper-clad toddler tags along, the Jetta holding all my boys takes off for school, The Today Show glows through the front window of my house - a bunch of really PINK old Barbie stuff (was Olivia's) sits on my deck, waiting to be played with again after years in storage (and Lilliana is obliging :-). Any house in any neighborhood on any street - same scene. Only this is my life. Some days it seems remarkable - other days just ordinary. I like the up and down. It soothes me - makes me think something exciting is just around the corner - but something comfortable is mine now.
Since I just had a bit of a temper tantrum, thought I'd share this very good review of the Green Day (if you're my age, you do have a soft spot for them - whether you want to or not)-inspired musical, "American Idiot" (presumably named after the album - am I being obvious here? brain fry this week.... see above) - in which, I believe, words like "punk" and "temper" are peppered throughout... Anyway.... here it is.
How's your week going? Oh - and happy Earth Day :-).
... on which to meditate. Gotta get off my treadmill of laundry, kitchen clean-up, play squeezed in between making school lunches, doing carpools and making beds - Need to enjoy my kids more - need to get back in touch with me. Will have a wee bit of time this morning - to breathe - do some yoga (I need to fix my sore right hamstring, causing me all kinds of pain - need to stop my TMJ jaw from hurting), just trying to, make a list of "me projects" (not being selfish with "me time" - just trying to get back on track)- maybe visit hubby - will continue to plan a week with each individual child in mind....
Photos: Like I said.... moments on which to meditate.... my kids at their happiest (I am encouraged this morning by ALL the family photos I have - so much fun - so many experiences - despite some, obviously, trying days - I think we've all been there....;-).
Oh - and one last bit of "zen" (discovered this at "ex hot girl" - see my blog list) - Christina Hendricks has been voted - well... whatever Esquire does each year - hottest woman alive - something like that - and she is a big, curvy girl. I've always had some wild curves... had women tell me that my big boobs made me look fat my whole life. Take that, people!
And... how 'bout that Icelandic volcanic dust cloud stopping travel all over the world? Hey - at least we're not traveling Europe right now, right? So on the bright side with that because I ALWAYS want to be traveling Europe :-).
I do my best, and that is all I can do, right? Here's to all you hard-working moms, sisters, daughters, wives, grandmothers, etc. out there (dads, husbands, etc. too, of course) - I'm just in a gender snit again today (so.... I guess "cheers" is in order ;-). Seriously - and I know I sound like a cheesey bumper sticker - but be KIND to someone today - hold the door, say hello, smile - beyond that, allow someone into your group that meets for coffee - or - help someone with a project (fund-raising, yard work ...) - invite one who may appear lonely or over-worked or both or someone going through a hard time or having medical issues (of any kind - surprise or difficult pregnancy, cancer in the family, horrible allergies - whatever) to a movie or lunch. And, above all, have a nice day :-).
Oh - and check out this good deed.... I'm fascinated by surfers anyway (would secretly like to be one), and... well this chick did something nice at a pretty young age. Remarkable? Or - just a selfless good deed, one that we could all mimic. Read and let me know what you think ;-).
Lastly (cuz part of my "do-gooder / doing the best I can" mentality today involves staying vigilant on keeping the kiddos healthy :-) - important tips regarding what to avoid in terms of REALLY bad food additives here.
I just read an article about adoptive parents sympathizing with other parents who "give the child back" to the orphanage - agency - whatever - and even relaying stories in which they, themselves, have done the same thing or thought about doing the same thing. In most cases, the children are unruly and have problems - also, they are normally international adoptions - a large number of them Russian adoptions (with severe behavioral issues, fetal alcohol syndrome, etc.), like the little boy in the news who was put on a plane by his adoptive mother and sent back to Russia with a note saying that she no longer wanted him.
I want to know, as an adopted person AND as a parent, why these people who do this - abandon their adopted children - are not held accountable in the same way a biological parent would be?! They are parents (and these "monsters" they describe are KIDS) - they signed up for the joy and the challenges - professing to accept the difficult with the smooth sailing - just like any new parents who are expecting a child. They legally adopt the child - bring him or her into their homes and then.... decide not to keep him / her - ???? So much for being "mommy and daddy". What does this mean / imply for any of us adoptees who consider ourselves no different than our non-adopted brothers and sisters? Are we really NOT part of the family? Are we easier to discard? Is it true what so many ignorant people have implied over the years - that we are not our parents' "real" children - that we belong with someone else - that we have no background - that any argument or misunderstanding with our parents is because "we are adopted" - that only the "blood family" matters - blah blah blah. I KNOW there have probably been some difficulties - kids who need therapy - kids who are violent, etc., but... again - you signed up for it.... and wouldn't you stick it out with your biological child? You wouldn't have a choice. If they need psych help, they need psych help - very sad - very scary - but YOUR responsibility - the hand you were dealt...
I know that most of the ridiculous, uninformed comments I have been subjected to over the years don't bother me. I'm secure in my relationships, AND I am aware of those family members who didn't accept me (they also have a long list of racial biases, don't like "yankees" and have been divorced numerous times - oh -I'm so hurt - and, remember, I NEVER use sarcasm ;-) were vocal about it, and... were chastised and looked down upon for their comments. Most of the time, my cousins - my siblings forget that I'm adopted - I've even begun filling out medical history on forms before and... then catch myself. I forget to disclaim why I am Italian, and my family is not.... No worries - totally second nature to me.
It does bug me, though. This type of article makes me think that it's not only idiot comedians or cheap jokesters in crappy comedies or movies that say things like "you're adopted - your parents don't even love you" like it's the mother of all insults. Give me a break; you just made yourself look like an ass - not to mention insulted a large number of the population. It's not funny to joke about the Pitt-Jolies and which kids are "theirs" or not - it's not appropriate to make a big deal out of a biological child when you don't of an adopted child (still give a baby shower - still give presents - offer congrats - send food - same schtick as if the couple went through a 9 mo. pregnancy).
... I go to get ready, prepared to pick Olivia and friends up from movie - deposit them at the boys East End lacrosse game held at Central Catholic and then hit Whole Foods myself for ingredients to make a Moroccan chicken recipe that sounded good (sort of a short cut version - I'll share later :-). I'm all zipped up and ready to go - though did notice that my Lil had gone upstairs, as soon as I indicated a car outing, to get her shiny shoes and a couple of purses. I thought nothing of it - though she did seem to want to follow me. So ... I'm ready - winter coat on again since it is FREEZING here - fuzzy UGGS on too, and I tell her good-bye. I get this sweet open-mouthed look - like she was speechless. Her eyes and her mouth kind of turn down at the ends anyway, and she just looked so cute but so disappointed, so I asked, "Do you want to go?" - Baby talk back - "Yeah, I wanna go" (sweet little high-pitched soft voice). Then, I did notice that she had put her little knit purse on over her head, across her body like Mommy and Olivia wear some of their bags - she was holding a very special shiny, lunch pail-ish bag with a strawberry on it, and... her too tight but very shiny patent leather pointy dress-up shoes. She had gotten all dolled up to go out with Mommy and Olivia - one of the girls! Anyway, hubby got some photos of this. Lil (with messy hair - she still won't let me fix it) - and Mommy, looking schlumpy, but.. happy to be going on a "girls outing" (and, for the record, we had to act like we were looking at birds to get her to look at Daddy's camera - hence the odd postures and expressions - she is SO fickle - sometimes a ham - sometimes coy). Later, Lil fell asleep in the car, which was good because she would have cried when she realized that she wasn't going to the lacrosse game with the big girls. When we came out of the store, she did look all over the minivan for them - like - hey, what did you do with my peeps? We have places to go, people to see.....
Quick note: Finally saw The Blind Side last night - good movie - "feel good" type - BUT... the big news is - Olivia watched it WITH us - a nice treat now that she's an aloof middle schooler ;-) - though... today, we are going out to breakfast with our whole wild bunch, and... it irritates her when we go to "the smiley cookie place" and not one of our trendier haunts - oh well - some other time...
LAST note: Top Chef Masters is back on Bravo - I like it better this time around... Worth a watch :-).
I feel like I haven't slept through the night, eaten a meal sitting, showered or spoken to an adult without shouting, crying, whining or fighting going on in the background for DAYS!!!!!! Rough patch ... one of those weeks... this, too, shall pass.
1. My kids' school and its close, nurturing environment (8th grader spent some industrious time on a science project last night - kindergartner has spring show practice today and a play date this afternoon - preschooler looking forward to a puppet making workshop and show next week....).
2. My gross, ugly, muddy, messy big pile of dirt out back because it will help us build our vegetable garden, plant our new cherry tree, and grow our grass on our play area.
3. Coffee - because it will get me through a busy morning with my toddler and preschooler, allow me to focus on my writing project, help me with my quick but now daily workout and keep going throughout the afternoon of play, laundry, yard work, letter writing, play room pick-up, photo organization, dinner making, etc.
4. Today - hate to admit it, but... Noggin and PBS - for giving my kids something educational to watch while I tackle my editing.
5. My health - and my family's health - because, despite aches and pains from overdoing it daily and wooziness from sleepness nights, I am healthy and strong and, aside from little things with the kids, etc., they are strong and healthy too. Too many times, we take this simple fact for granted.
Enzo - WILLINGLY - gets a professional haircut! A banner day indeed! Enzo's first haircut was a piece of cake.... after that, it was touch and go - occasionally he would love it and let them brush and wet his hair - other times, he would flinch and wince until they couldn't do anything. We had one great haircut - layered, trendy, cool boy :-). We've had several that make him look like Dora the Explorer, and ... others that are just uneven. Mostly, we let it grow loooong...
Anyway, he looks happy here. Daddy picked him up from school - they had some one on one time together, and... planned to get father / son haircuts. Fun. In fact, he's getting his beautiful hair cut as we speak - or blog, rather.
1. Friends who will help me wrangle my wild Lil and Milo without judging - making sure we get off the school grounds safely and with some sanity left when they act up and run from me after P3 pick-up (thank you, ALL - you know who you are :-).
2. My lovely, friendly neighbors without whom we would not have half the fun we have on summer evenings, during snow-ins, at block parties...
3. All of our interesting friends who assist us in enjoying bands, food, conversation, etc.
4. Our crazy families (kids, weird uncles, sisters in a snit and all)... our late fathers (both mine and Marcello's) would love to hear us say that, so... to honor them :-).
5. My Trader Joe's Chocolate organic yogurt... I'm not kidding..... I have work to do, kids to chase and errands to run - good on the go... like a treat :-).
Another earthquake - this time in a remote area of China, affecting rural farmers - near Tibet. Just awful. Scary.
And... this is a bit old.... a blog entry from a couple of months ago... in it, this writer muses about how it might be better to be a teen mom or younger mom at that - citing such reasons as (and I'm paraphrasing) - "you could have the kids - get it out of the way then focus on your wants, needs, career, etc." - She also claims that older women always have compromised fertility - more problems, etc. I do differ with this on many levels. First, I've been pregnant in my 20s, 30s - know MANY people having kids in their 40s. In my 2os, I have to say, I did know a number of people who had complications with pregnancies - and, it was my hardest c-section (the easiest were my last two). None of my older friends had trouble getting pregnant; if they did, it was a condition that existed in their teens and twenties as well - they just didn't realize until they went to have kids. One of doctors told me that many young mothers have problems in their pregnancies; they think it might be because they are still "adolescent" themselves, gaining weight, growing an inch or so, body shapes changing - well into their early 20s, leaving unborn babies vulnerable to other issues (and, most of the babies, when we were in the NICU with Milo's kidney issue, were children of very young mothers - though not all, obviously). And.... is this author really suggesting that we have to either have kids or a career? Since my slew of kids was born, I find myself getting more creative with career options as does my hubby - seems more opportunities present if you're active in your creative pursuits. Our kids are still our biggest priority. Anyway... read and weigh in if you'd like :-). But ... I urge you to view this before you do :-).
Have to confess something.... while waiting for Glee (yes, I love it), I watched Dancing with the Stars with my middle schooler (actually, was sucked in my a fantastic performance by The New York City Ballet - and, I feel bad, I forget the choreographer - and Nuttin but Stringz), and, man, is that funny or what? I have to say, the professional dancers are great to watch - very talented - some of the "stars" who join them are good too, but... when they are bad, they are BAD (Kate Gosselin ;-(. But I way digress......
Going to see The Hold Steady tonight.... should be fun. No photo today; just some ranting... ;-)
A lot of strange stuff in the news - murder - missing children - teenagers committing horrible acts of rage against each other - more..... I mean, we see it all the time, but... lately.... strange, shocking things - like serious crimes being committed over a misunderstanding in a text message - three year olds made to walk tightropes over tigers (and I am NOT kidding with that last one - look at this - child abuse, pure and simple) - that kind of thing (in our good deed for today, let's get familiar with the recently proposed Chelsea's Law, in honor of Chelsea King, the murdered teenager from San Diego, and meant to control child predators / rapists in our community - and.... while reading, for those who do get the power of prayer, say one for her little 13 year old brother suffering over the loss of what his parents say was "his best friend").
This morning, Milo was happy to go to preschool - got dressed - put on his back pack - ate a Rice Krispie Treat for breakfast (Milo is picky, so.. if that's how he wants his cereal, that's how he gets his cereal) - Enzo cried, thinking he was not going on a field trip with his friends (misunderstanding - they are all going next week - with either me or hubby as one of the chaperones) - though I am still basking in the glow of some one on one time with my Enzo last night, which is rare but so deserved (grabbed a burger & chocolate milk, shopped crafts at Michaels for big sis, Olivia - though got himself a "water squirter" - had fun in after school with his little buddies) - Olivia off to a great lacrosse season though rain may dampen practice today - had Terra Nova testing in school today so rushed out the door, extra snacks in hand (Balance Bars, peanut butter-filled pretzels, bottled water...). Sweet Lil is JUST up - teetering sleepily around the house, stuffed cats (her latest favorite companions) in her arms.
I'd like to share an easy, lowfat dinner recipe from last night - chicken quesadillas: Marinate chicken in lemon, salt, pepper, olive oil, garlic and cilantro (I do salt, pepper, citrus first then chop the garlic and cilantro into the olive oil before pouring over the chicken). Pan sear chicken (cook through). Put flour tortillas on baking sheet (oven preheated to 400 degrees) - sprinkle with lower fat cheddar or soy cheese - add sprinkle of balsamic vinegar, olive oil and Italian spices mix - add chicken (still warm)- more cheese - top with another tortilla- and... bake - flip a couple min. into baking time - DONE!
In closing, I just want to say that I think Ben Roethlisberger and Tiger Woods should go out - would make a great couple. Gross - I think I just made myself sick.....
Photo: As I go to embark on a necessary shopping outing today with little ones, I am reminded of the day of the Christmas shows a couple of months ago (seems so long ago and yet not - know what I mean?) when me and little ones had some fun shopping at the Waterfront.
Me to hubby this morning (as he perused our soon to be "hauled away crap from our under-garage storage" - we "know a guy" ;-) with 4 year old Milo): Do you want coffee? I just made some.
Hubby: crickets... silence (he never hears me)
Milo: Oh yes, Mommy, thank you. Will you put some sugar in it for me? This was followed by a brief preschool lesson on how "we need to tell our parents what we want - otherwise, they won't know what we need - that's what my teachers say - we have to say that..."
As an adopted person and a mother, I'm appalled by the story of the woman who abandoned her son, adopted from Russia, on an airplane - 7 years old - I don't care if he did have behavioral problems - you're a parent! Further, the poor boy describes abuse. Another one of those "worth a read in order to stay vigilant" things...
We just dragged the old toddler Little Tikes roller coaster out of storage, so... lots of fun for Milo and Lil this am (a little early and chilly, but... sunny and promising, so....I'll be on the deck, sipping coffee in a battered Harvard sweatshirt and ratty yoga pants, making sure they don't run over each other and / or that they take turns ...).
Enzo off to school with allergy eyes (poor guy) - hopefully, he'll do well in piano today (puffy eyes and all) - he has been practicing, after all :-).
I just noticed hubby walked up the stairs "to take a call" in muddy shoes - all the way to our bedroom (adding that clean-up to "to do" list now :-)....
And... check out the Serious Eats blog (again, see my list) - a little blurb on how to do a salt bake - or bake in a salt crust, rather, which has always looked intriguing to me.
Oh - and the "guy" we know for hauling (and I mean like pieces of heavy retro '60's desk that we never put back together - a heavy sleeper sofa, etc.)? www.chickenbrainhauling.com - and, no, I'm not kidding about the name ... nice guys - very thorough...
Video? Just funny toddler coaster fun. Check it out.... Wheeee!!
Happy spring (and speaking of.... there is some yummy veggie grilling stuff over at Kitchen Witch, another blog I've begun following - see list - do ya like veggies, feta, basil? Then... check it out...)!
.... that it is spring. Our wagon is in the front yard - parked by the porch and filled with little tiny flower petals that flew on the wind the other day as the storm (that never was) blew by ... the riding toys are out on the patio (in fact, we've taken a lot of fun stuff outside - art easels, blocks, toy cars, water squirters - we are READY) ..... hubby and oldest shoveled a big pile of dirt for our garden this morning (I did duty yesterday :-)... my little one wanders in diapers or pjs - too anxious to get outside to get dressed - picking flowers (some of the neighbors wilted tulips lay on our steps - and dandelions, picked by all three little ones, sit in a little Villeroy and Boch vase full of water on the window sill) ... remnants of lunch outside - juice boxes, bits of cheese and fruit - are scattered about the deck ... my neighbor and I got rid of some crazy, out of control poison ivy yesterday, all suited up in gloves, rubber boots and long sleeves ... my tough lacrosse player's cleats lay with the odd mix of rain boots, winter boots, flip flops and Crocs in the front hall ... in the evening, I'm always sure I hear rain, and it is just the wind in the leaves - not used to hearing rustling leaves yet.....
Watching my oldest girlie push my youngest girlie in the tree swing out front right now. All is good ....
.. if that's possible. I dreamt that my camera broke and I couldn't get it fixed or take pictures and I was missing all these moments with my kids and other family members that I wanted to really remember. Hubby was telling me to be calm, but... I was frantic. It was very real. I mean, I have dreams about monsters, and I know they're not real - I dream of my Dad, and I know he's not here anymore - I dream that I'm 16 again and that, ugh, hopefully, is not real. This was bizarre, though - filled with all sorts of other implications - that time was moving quickly, that I was missing things with my kids, that other family members were mad at me, that I was too busy cleaning stuff and being stressed to notice the beauty of everyday life.... I feel like Scrooge... visited by menacing but helpful ghosts in the night.... and the message to me is clear - don't worry so much - enjoy my family - relax a bit - spend time with those I love - and, unfortunately, those with issues, will have to deal with their own "stuff". I edited a bunch of documents written on "faith" this week, and I think they rubbed off on me. Treat others as you want to be treated - forgive but move on - embrace your blessings ....
You know I used to have a dreamer's dictionary that I relied pretty heavily when I was younger - maybe I should dig it out....;-)>
My 14 year old needs new furniture and her room painted. She is in bad need of underwear and summer shorts that fit. My boys want more fishies in their tank, and their armoires and dresser drawers are full of clothes that do not fit. My little one currently shares a room with all of my scrapbook and photo stuff plus only half of her room is appropriately painted the "very Lil" raspberry pink that makes it so... well... Lil (it's early - I'm not clever yet).
But... I am too busy getting laundry done, keeping dust bunnies from interfering with floor play, throwing together a protein, a starch, a veggie for dinner every night (still not clever - my apologies :-), and... getting everyone to school, to sports practice, to their respective spring events - athletic banquets, school dances, baseball camps, etc. (not to mention playing the adventure game outside with Milo in which I am "Mary" and he is Indiana Jones - or Lil's pretend play with horseys and mermaids - or Enzo and his books - or Olivia and all her girl stuff :-) to even begin the fun stuff (what I'm calling the "to do" list above). Hubby swamped too as we both have a lot going on in our respective career corners - getting the house spring ready (it, too, needs to be painted - our room is a mess - our yard is yukky - garden needs to go in soon, etc.).
Sigh. Too much on the ol' calendar these days .... ;-). Though... you can see from the photo that we were at this pace way back in October AND had not tackled the above "list", which existed back then as well! Plus... I'm sleepy. Lil has been restless at night - telling me she's "scared" when she wakes. Usually, I end up fetching her milk, turning on the TV, sitting on the couch with her until she sleeps again. NOT ideal in terms of parenting tips (but, I ask you - what is IDEAL at 4 in the morning??? My eyebrows are raised here... you just can't see me ;-). I do have one good parenting tip, however.... Have always been a Cheerios fan, and... now have ventured out a bit and tried their "fruity" version as well as their chocolate offering. Pretty good - still nutritious (whole grain) - still low sugar (comparatively).....
Thankful for a couple of things - First and foremost that one of Enzo's kindergarten classmates, Catherine, who has been sick ... is on the mend and feeling better (the class created get well cards for her yesterday - which reminds me, I am thankful for his teachers - thinking now of Mrs. K, who sent my Olivia "we miss you" Easter greetings from the whole class when we had moved away and were feeling sad - always thinking how Mrs. W helps my boy this year, and... Mrs. E's good intentions :-). And... just to show that I'm still into spring, busy schedule and all, I'm thankful for raw sugar snap peas (you know how I love my raw food :-) - in fact, check out this upcoming local raw dinner event at J'eet Cafe - could be interesting...) because they taste like spring and I can eat them all day because they are non-fat and tasty. Thankful, too, for my cousin's new baby, Ellis; he was born earlier this week and is a welcome addition to my Dad's side of the family after a bit of a difficult run lately... knee injuries, surgeries - other annoying, nasty stuff.... Thankful, today, that my little ones have noticed all the flowers blooming - on our tree out front - as we drive on our way to do daily errands - want to read books with me, play in the rain together....
I feel a bit like Sesame Street.... today's post was brought to you by sugar snap peas and the color raspberry pink ;-).
OK - so I have a big editing project to get through this week... As a result, not feeling too prolific in the writing area..... I do have this story, though.... Enjoy :-).
Once, not too long ago, when I was discussing furnace and washing machine repair options with two different contractors (and holding my cranky infant) and my Enzo and Milo were around 2.5 and 3.5 years old, respectively, I left them to play with the cookie dough we had just mixed in the kitchen - I was five feet away from them and could see them, for the record ....(mommy - can we bake cookies? can we? can we bake cookies?). Finally, after a short time, Enzo, the responsible leader of the duo, emerged from the kitchen and announced, "We baked the cookies, Mommy." "Mmmm Hmmm", I responsibly replied (in my defense, I had just been told that our expensive high-end washing machine was dead and the furnace had not had a safety switch on it for the entire last year). Of course, I had left out the eggs in the batter should my darlings attempt to taste it. No Salmonella in this house. However, I did not realize that they knew how to work the oven dials. Once my contractors left, I went into the kitchen to find the cookie sheet in the oven - little balls of gooey, messy dough in each corner of the sheet - carefully placed by little hands, obviously, and... the gas was on. Can't wait for the cookies!
Are you horrified? I'm actually laughing. I can't quite file this under "less than stellar parenting tip", but... maybe.... "clueless" or "pick your battles". I don't know - what do you think?
Photo: Part of my "self-serve" kitchen (ha ha). Lil's making the family some popcorn (wink wink).
My Olivia's favorite sport. Here she is in action (albeit from a bit of a distance) on Shadyside Academy's field. This game is still going on - footage emailed to me with the subject "penalty" - yikes. They do play hard, these girls ;-).
It's just remarkable these days - sunny, balmy, beautiful. And... jeez.... this will sound cliched, but.... this noisy, lazy, constant wind just seems full of possibilities, memories, life going on around us :-).
... and it is a beautiful day. Brand new buds on all the trees - wet, windy spring air - smells muddy, green and like whatever is on the wind is something you haven't felt in months.....
My kids are all off to school - except for lil Lil who was up coughing last night. Despite the frustration that waking in the night with a little one creates, I have to admit that I still love the opportunity to soothe and hold her - kissing her head, rubbing her back. It is definitely one of those moments to keep....
So... hubby and I up and watching silly shows and movie into the wee hours, drinking tea, talking, joking. Rare for us these days.
A lot on my mind today... Amy at Callapitter (see my blog list - especially today - and send good thoughts her way) and the loss of her beautiful kids a year ago - the poor people, in our neck of the woods really, who lost loved ones in the West Virginia coal mine accident - my Dad and how he would have been hanging on every last moment of the NCAA final game :-) - my little Enzo and how, as we struggle with our decision to either repeat kindergarten or let him move on first grade, youngest in his class (and young enough to miss the public school cut-off but just make the private school one for K) but smart and very eager to be challenged (THRIVES on it), he doesn't understand some of the questions we pose to him about moving on to a harder class or staying with his friends (wants to stay with his safe K teachers but keep his friends - "I don't understand, Mommy." - need to keep it our decision and support him either way :-) - my Olivia as she begins her last few months at her beloved St. Bede - my friend, Kim, and her sweet boy, Jake, who is sick right now and has been sick off and on for some time (she has incredible strength - and has asked for additional prayers for her little girl, Eliza, who is consumed with worry for her big brother).... and, of course, Easter makes me miss my childhood, my grandparents, my carefree runaround time with my cousins :-) all those years ago.
There is a lot I could focus on now that is self-directed (how I miss doctor and dentist appointments in order to get everyone else's scheduled - how I never get my hair cut or dyed anymore - how I can't shop even for kids' underwear without little ones hanging off of me - how me and hubby can't get a weekend or overnight babysitter to work out so we can just spend ONE night together, which we have not done in YEARS) - instead, I'm trying to focus all that energy towards others who need strength, and... I'm trying to honor the memory of those no longer with us by honing in on everything I have that is truly special. Worries be damned - it's time to get serious about positive thinking and feeling :-).
Happy spring, all. Let's try to improve the mood of at least one person today - let's try to hug our kids more than we usually do (so Tiger Woods' pathetic laments that he missed his son's first birthday couldn't be falling on deafer ears this morning) - and let's make a mental list of all we have that is good. Peace to all of you dealing with pain and loss today (and there is a lot around us despite all the greenery and beautiful blue skies - my Olivia is serving a funeral mass this morning...), and... I really mean that - through tears - REALLY mean that :-) because I know there are a lot of you out there, so dear to me, who have lost parents, spouses, sisters and brothers, and this time of year.... well, we just want them here with us, don't we?
Anyway - here's a scary but happy ending story (again, those of you with kids... take note!), and.... some retail therapy - a Pottery Barn Kids Spring Sale - to keep us on the positive side of things. And... a local "must do / must see" - Maggie, who I've highlighted before for her knitting prowess (and her business) will be at The "I Made It Market" at Southside Works this Saturday - check it out here. Because (and you know how I like to get on my soapbox), there is so much in life to celebrate - so much to get out and DO!
Please visit Callapitter and give Amy your support - look at the photos of her beautiful kids and just give it all a little bit of thought - today is a hard day for her. Maybe find a way to honor their memory in some way .... Kate and Peter, 6 and 4 when they died. Very sad. I have no words for such a tremendous, senseless loss.
As I've been saying lately... happy spring .... really.
To rest and enjoy one another, that is (then it's back to work!).
Easy breakfast of toast, bananas, granola bars and cold cereal this am - allowing the Wii for the boys (Super Mario Galaxy today - kid-oriented though requires some reading - on deck to get Boom Blox - thanks for the recommendation, Sue - and, of course, the boys' favorites - Lego Indiana Jones and Lego Batman) - Olivia at a sleepover - Lilliana set up with pretend play and her new (Easter gifts) mermaid fairy bath toys and plastic elephants (a Mommy and a baby). Hubby and I partaking of coffee and homemade nutroll on the deck (drinking from the big Maine mugs that always makes me think of my Mom and my Dad :-( and their trip to Maine right around when Enzo was born). Spring is here!
Some notes on Easter..... So nice to connect with friends and family by phone, holiday cards or in person (still have some people we need to see, but... it's warm now, so... travel and get-togethers are much easier now - plus entertaining outside FINALLY feels so good!). Too much food and A LOT going on - some tired, cranky kids (in fact, everyone looked beautiful in their Easter outfits - photos to come - but Milo would only wear a worn t-shirt, plaid shorts with palm trees on them and... his Easter tie - looked like the drummer in a punk band), but... tired and cranky because they did play with their beloved neighbor friends and cousins, and... saw school friends and other people at the church egg hunt and had a week of adventure and family time.... All good.
Have just returned from our driving adventure. Ate crab cakes, saw cherry blossoms, sat on a beach, swam in a pool, relaxed in a hot tub, attended an egg hunt, played on a really cool playground, shopped Crate and Barrel, saw friends and family.
I am filled with memories of sitting in a backseat with my brothers - my Dad driving - my Mom acting as navigator. We stopped for treats, took pictures of scenic views, drove early in the morning & late at night.... I miss it all - even the backseat fights and the long hours.
Am also filled with all sorts of mixed feelings tonight - good and bad (been thinking a lot). Have included some images from last year that I just love.