31 July 2010


... just a night out to eat fried stuff, listen to cheesey music, have a few beers, see a silly movie and do some painless impulse buying at Puma and Urban Outfitters is enough (and speaking of retail therapy - my new fashion fascination is Carine Roitfeld, editor in chief of French Vogue - super cool style - let's see, craggy features, long stringy hair, olive-ish coloring and dark eyes..... hmmm... if I just lost half my body weight, I might look a little like her ;-). That's what hubby and I did last night, and it was totally rejuvenating. Olivia and three friends watched the little ones for us (AND ate pizza and Facebooked and bought a FIOS movie and made silly videos, etc.).

Today - we have a birthday party, last minute camp shopping, a care package to three sweet kids who just lost someone close to them, dinner out to say bye-bye to Olivia for a week, home improvement purchases, the pool and more. Already we've had a pancake breakfast for 9? 10? - cleaned a portion of the basement and hosted some of the neighbor kids for a Disney cartoon fest this am :-). Seems like a good day. Thoughts and prayers are, however, with a family in our circle of friends grieving over the loss of a wonderful husband and father today.

Safe and happy weekend, all!

30 July 2010

Taking a quick break.

Enjoy your day, all.

And... thanks for comments, emails and, yes, comments in person regarding my query the other day (what to do with downtime ;-). Really - thank you - helps me to hear what others do to rejuvenate, stay on top of things, etc. It all gets overwhelming sometimes, doesn't it? As much as we hate to admit it....

29 July 2010

Oh ... just some stuff....

So ... a vote in Spain just outlawed bullfighting. Read here.

Pop City is doing a series on Pitt bloggers. Read the latest installment (along with some other suggestions) here.

And here's an encouraging update on the BP oil spill.

If you're not a member, you should join, cuz .... Gilt Groupe has some cool stuff for men on sale today. Imagine that.

Finally, here's something funny... a Jib Jab thing from Christmas that one of Olivia's friends did (she was perusing old wall posts on Facebook :-). Enjoy. Couldn't resist posting even if it is out of season....

High School

I don't actually have a lot to say on this topic. It''s just that I have Olivia's orientation tonight at Oakland Catholic, so... the idea of "high school" is on my mind. She is being flippant about this particular event - not as interested in the school tour, language selection and uniform "fashion show" as she has been in her sports boot camp, her honors testing and, of course, her first shawdowing day at the school way back during 8th grade. The only thing that concerns her tonight is that she wants her school ID photo to look good, and that will be taken tonight, so... I'm sure she'll be primped and ready to go. I have heard other mothers mention daughters worried about break-outs on their faces the day of ID photos or the fact that their photo was cropped strangely. Of course, once we view the "proper" way to wear the uniform, we will have to stock up on all the appropriate outfit pieces at Schoolbelles as well. Again, I have no thoughts on this "passage" and, as you know, I am usually full of musings, memories, reflections...

For me, starting high school remains, to this day, a pretty bad memory. I had been told in May of my 8th grade year that we were moving - this after my own high school tour, class selection and cheerleading try-outs (yeah - I'm admitting to it yet again). Of course, I cried. I shared a birthday party that year with my brother (no time for anything else) - I had my dance recital but had to back out of a summer ballet workshop audition (moving and all). I went from a school of around 1,000 people to one with over 3,000 people in it. I moved in the summer - met no one - was only permitted one pair of designer jeans, one shirt and "school shoes" on my back to school shopping outing - my Mom was frugal (despite my Dad's fancy new position in the company, complete with country club membership, a big car and a house in one of the nicest 'burbs of Detroit), and she liked to pick out the rest (for the record, a pleated cinched skirt, a plaid blouse with bows at the sleeves, topsider shoes, powder blue "dress pants" with a rainbow belt - keep in mind, this was the 80s and I was 14 - not the 70s and, no, I wasn't 8 - you can imagine what everyone else thought of my outfits ;-) . I was not allowed to shower everyday - deemed too young for such nonsense so my hair was always dirty and ugly - I usually ballet-bunned it, and... I had just gotten my new braces complete with rubber bands and head gear. I was NOT at the top of my game. After months of eating my lunch alone in the hall outside the doorway of my first afternoon class and walking to school alone, I did bite the bullet and try out for cheerleading again (no gymnastics team here), I got to know some of the girls in my dance classes (some of them "popular"), I figured out how to fix my hair, got my braces off, and.... hit my stride. Of course, a year and a half later, we moved again. Ah ... memories.

For me, my social success has been quite a roller coaster, and... let's face it, social stuff is a big deal during our formative years. As a kid, I was the petite, tanned tomboy with long sunstreaked hair who could do back handsprings across the backyard and was a star swimmer on the swim team. All the boys liked me because I could hit the baseball really hard, and I played in bare feet like a tough girl plus I was kinda pretty :-). All the girls wanted to be my friend because I was adventurous and funny, and I had a lot of old dance costumes and other stuff in my purple bedroom to play dress-up with AND my mom let us try on lipstick and powder. In middle school, I was sort of an underdeveloped kid - I clearly remember my gymnastics team physical during which I discovered that I was only 4'11" tall and weighed 92 lbs. We gymnasts were all tiny, though, so I didn't care that I still wore a child's size in clothing or that my Levi's jeans were a tiny 25 in. waist size - barely noticed that the other girls wore bras and were starting to like boys. I still had a lot of confidence back then - wore my hair in a short choppy haircut, maintained my sense of humor and made a lot of friends - "cool" friends who appreciated me for my underdeveloped, silly self. Plus, I was smart and took accelerated classes with almost straight A's every semester AND I had recently gone on pointe, so... I was a "certified" ballerina ;-) and I think that was rather interesting. Of course, you now know part of my high school story and it is not pretty :-). There's that ebb and flow again, right? AND on the bright side, being near a bigger city did wonders for my dance career in terms of connections, instruction and direction - my eyes opened to a whole new world (not to mention the fascinating older sisters and brothers of friends into punk rock, other music, art and theater - awesome, right?). Long story short, my chest grew to a DD, I was finally allowed daily showers so my hair was fab, and... I rekindled with a group of cool chickies who gave me some semblance of a social life aside from my dance and theater world. All good :-). All part of me.

So... as we, mother and daughter, embark on our on first foray into this new world of high school tonight, I guess I DO have memories - I DO have some thoughts on all this. I think I just want Olivia to find nice people, give some discipline to her classes, do her best in all her sports, find other activities that she enjoys.... just, basically, find herself and hit her own stride. It's different for her, though, because she and her friends already seem to be so complete - so together or at least determined in who they want to be - what they want to become, and... I'm sure it will change, but... for now .... I am proud, and I am enthusiastic for her.

Wish us luck tonight :-).

Photos: A cool, dewey family evening by the fire pit (rare in these days of 100 degree heat :-).

You know.... I should have sub-headed this post: "The Story of a Dork" (that dork being me, of course - and... you should see some of the recent looks I've sported and / or interests I've entertained.... TOTAL dorkness).

28 July 2010

I have a question.

Last night, I found myself totally alone again. Hubby out to dinner with industry colleagues - one in town from Germany - others just a couple of area people he knows through various professional avenues, etc. I was not invited (and why would I be??? I am no longer part of that world which, at one time, so defined me and my day). Oh well. It would be fine - except I usually won't eat alone so end up with grumbly stomach - I mill about, not having anything to do - I start to worry (now I am convinced that one of my fillings that needs to be replaced has begun to hurt, but I really have to concentrate on it ;-) - my kids do their own thing... last night, the boys wanted a pre-bedtime movie instead of a story, Lil actually fell asleep early, and Olivia was still reading her honors English requirements and, of course, texting her friends all night. In fact, instead of reading or working on my photos or just relaxing with a cup of tea, I find myself doing laundry, picking up toys outside, checking myself in the mirror for exercise progress (today's unfortunate photo was a failed attempt to document such progress :-).... other just bizarre, a-productive stuff. Weird. And... I've always been this way. I am good alone - industrious, able to get through projects in a single day if left to my own devices, but... if I KNOW that I am supposed to be with someone else or doing something else, I'm at loose ends. In grad school, if my friends were supposed to meet me and were suddenly late or my roommate unexpectedly went to the library or something, I would mill and smoke and get on the phone and wander outside...... As a child, if my parents were supposed to be home from going out to dinner, I wouldn't eat popcorn with the babysitter and have her do my hair or something, I would pace and look out the window and chew my hair and fret. So..... my question is this: What do you guys do with your alone / downtime? Really. I need help (or a sedative ;-).

Thanks in advance for the emails, etc. I am sure to get (though, again, please post here - I have a few people interested in the responses - those of you who say you "were going to comment" again and again, go ahead and do it - help those of us in need of advice :-).

27 July 2010

Taking time today ...

... away from tuition bills and school supply lists ... away from the pajama bottoms so lost it's like they didn't exist ... away from the perennially cranky two year old .... away from dusty (actually, dirty) dining room floors and that ever-present laundry pile to think about others today who are suffering with illness and the loss of loved ones. There are a lot in my inner circle, and I'm sure, if we look around, we can think of or offer assistance to someone who needs support right now.

Remember the little things today and how lucky we all are in so many ways. Olivia and I were reminded today of how, when my Dad was sick, we all laughed and smiled and enjoyed each day... right up until the end.

The little things.... my preschooler, Milo, going off the diving board for the first time .... his little crush next door :-).... Lil wanting to have tea with me all the time..... Olivia excited about her upcoming camp week..... Enzo sharing coffee with me in the early morning, before anyone else is up..... All so important, and, at one time, things I would have looked right past. Knowing the pain of loss, however, changes you forever. Anyway, friends, I am thinking of a number of you and your families today.

26 July 2010

Can you relate?

Trying desperately tonight to tell myself that reading library books to my boys on our steamy third floor after making a creamy chicken casserole, powering through 2 or 3 loads of laundry, promising a sports physical AND a uniform shopping trip for my soon-to-be high schooler for tomorrow, and playing dollies with my two year old earlier warrants a full, productive day. And... I am having a hard time with that. Feeling very unprofessional, pointless, out of the loop and left behind. I do need this blog - even if no one is reading me this summer. I need it so much. It appears to be my only outlet for personal expression. I'm really NOT going to ask for input.... my headline was just a rant. I need a break.

Quite a mix.

Of "my stuff" today, that is. This will be quick and painless. I've been thinking a lot lately, which actually freezes my brain instead of getting it to work more productively. Go figure. Anyway... Lil and I joined the family on the baseball outing yesterday. The plan was to divide and conquer (cuz we had 4 REALLY good seats that would thrill the boys and impress Olivia - for a good time had by all ;-), but... Lil's feelings were going to get hurt, and, truthfully, I was NOT in the mood to do more laundry. So we went and Lil did run from me and go into full tantrum mode most of the time but ... everyone got hats (and it freaks me out that hubby will pay $75 in hat money, but.... will refuse to buy food there - told the boys they HAD to take care of these hats cuz I have a sneaking suspicion that we've bought and lost others - today, they came downstairs wearing them, then... dutifully put them back on their little pegs in their room - they LISTENED - wow. Digressing...) and everyone got to run around and sit and eat fries and act silly - and watch the balls come flying at them over by third base - and got cotton candy... Fun for all but sweaty, frazzled Mommy who indulged in a milkshake post-game when we stopped for ice cream (and, yeah - REAL ice cream for me this time :-).

Yesterday, we also tried to do a photo shoot for a personal venture that we have in the works. Instead, in the planning stages, hubby and I argued over what defines creative - who was more competitive - ridiculous stuff - then it rained and foiled our plans anyway. Now... I'm feeling self-conscious about all the photos I take. I photograph the house a lot for my blog - for my, for lack of a much better work, scrapbooks, photos collages, etc. (documenting a life well-lived, which is noble, I think). I'm also documenting my fitness progress (as young dancers and gymnasts, we used to photograph each other as we improved on technique, etc. - why not implement that same motivation now? Anyway....), so... prompted by a dumpy, can't seem to suck in that post-baby gut yet photo (yeah - I know - it's been two years - time flies, K?), I had to show off my new muscles and much flatter stomach (photos for me, of course, though I will share some of the sillier and / or motivational ones with you if need be ;-). Again, starting to think my camera has become an obsession with me (or - maybe has been for years.......).

So ... Olivia at sleepover (Olivia B) .... house cool and calm .... Lil up and down last night, which is maddening. I think her summer schedule is a bit off - plus, if we do something exciting during the day, she gets very wound up - ALL NIGHT - and I find myself giving her milk, rearranging her covers, changing her pull-up, allowing her bits of banana or graham cracker if she really gets up and needs a little sleepy time routine to get her back down... Makes me tired and then she sleeps in too late...Any advice? Any "been there done that" and / or "nipped that in the bud" advice?!?!

Photo: Was leafing through a drawing pad the boys found in one of Olivia's old art bins, and... had thought it devoid of anything but random scribbles and yellowed edges, but... did find a drawing that my Mom, Olivia and I had done way back in 1998. So... of course, I saved it, and... in its honor have posted a photo of my Mom and I AND my girlies - all together (from the 4th of July weekend).

Hope you have some clarity to your day. I am muddled, having forgotten to pay a camp balance - forgotten a hair appointment - more... I am OUT of it. I think I've been focusing on odd things like the leaky fish tank (had to get new one), the fact that the little ones picked all my green tomatoes - ALL of them, so... no yummy just picked from the vine tomatoes for me for a while - if at all... that kind of stuff. On the bright side, all my Oakland Catholic forms are in (and for those of you going down that road soon, there are a lot and in many different places... :-).

In closing, here is Julia Child's Poulet au Porto recipe, which is soooo good (in the movie, Julie and Julia, it is the chicken with mushrooms, cream and port that Julie references). Give it a try. I think I may do it today :-).

25 July 2010

Even more summer stuff...

House feels cleaner and more calm when it is cooler outside / inside - not sure why. We are dividing and conquering today - Hubby, boys and Olivia going to Pirates game..... Me and Lil will stay here to read, snack and play laundry and other catch-up a bit. Went to the pool last night where the water felt sooooo nice and cool in the heat. Lil and I swam together - Enzo showed me water tricks - Milo worked on practice for his deep water test with Daddy.... Came home and grilled corn, asparagus and steak (protein for Olivia the swimmer who was very tired after rising early and competing all day - she spent a quiet night in her room reading Lord of the Flies, a book for honors English in the fall - of course, she doesn't like it.... but is starting to "get it" - have to say, this is one book that left me quite disturbed, having read it in my own honors English class years ago - I think references to kids going wild as "Lord of the Flies" is a little off base - find it a commentary on all society - what horrors people are capable of.... Digressing....).

Photos: Just family :-).

24 July 2010

Nice job, Edgewood Eels!!!

Olivia and both of her relay teams made the FINALS at the swim team championships today. Here is Race 1. Congrats to everyone who did well today; I hear everyone had a great time (can hear Big Daddy M and others cheering in the background here :-).

Soooo hot....

So to beat the heat, we did partake in the swimming at the swim team banquet last night. Milo swam to our family friend, Olivia B, from the side of the pool to the middle for the first time (BIG deal - usually, it's the other way around... he is trying to make it to the side, but.... last night, felt confident enough to take off on his own and swim with the "big kids"). Enzo actually got brave and swam with the big kids too. I have this image in my head of his sweet little face, smiling and excited as our Olivia went to get him to play. Flattered for a while AND enjoying the fun, Enzo did soon decide to head back to shallow waters and did tell me that "the Olivias" did something "dangerous" - they threw him to deeper water. Such a cautious guy :-). By contrast, Milo noticed the diving board and wanted to go off (and, for some reason, I almost mentioned it to him last night, but, again, he noticed it on his own). So he jumped tentatively a few times to Daddy, who waited in the 10 ft. to make sure he could get to the side. Then, some kid did a flip, and... that was it... he did one too - then another - and another - and another (and, again, I am reminded of me as a kid... when he does stuff like this, my Mom always says he is the male version of me at that age, and..... I do remember being a bit daring ;-). Of course, for all of this, I did NOT have my video camera OR my Nikon. Trying to enjoy the evening, so..... all good.

Lil went in the water too, but she and I spent some time playing Mommy and Baby Duck at the baby pool (her invention). She ate well - enjoyed everyone's company.... In fact, we all did - nice to hang with friends again. Late night, it was steamy in this house, but it was fun anticipating the championship meet - coordinating rides with friends on the phone - hanging my wet stuff on the deck - listening for the familiar sound of the "swim team fairies" (teenagers in SUVs) who leave bags of treats for all the swimmers on porches late night before the big meet (listening to my friends tell me how their little ones were excited for the treat bags had me thinking back to Olivia's early days as well when such occurrences were like exciting magic - now, of course, no big deal). You know, usually such phone coordination is a drag - the wet stuff overwhelms me - the heat irritates me - but.... was feeling festive and part of a community again last night. A good feeling :-).

So ... Olivia off to championships. I will join her later. We have to squeeze in a b-day party, figure out why the fish tank is murky again and why it is leaking, hang some darker curtains in the boys' room.... all that "stuff".

Have a productive and fun weekend. Do something to stay out of the heat .... it's pretty sticky and nasty (yesterday, we went to the library, got ice cream and ran some errands - that seemed to help - saw many pool pals doing the same thing :-) - hubby and I trying to get away to just a simple movie at some point this weekend).

Photos: A swim meet a week or so ago. All the usual suspects.... AND got big sis giving lil' sis a hug. Awwwww....

Off I go to watch Sat am cartoons and eat cornflakes with Enzo (only one up - little ones up all night bothered by heat - will sleep FOREVER today).

23 July 2010

Summer Stuff

Swim team banquet tonight ... championships tomorrow... picked up our CSA basket yesterday (kids were thrilled we got corn - seems more special when it comes in the basket, I guess ;-).... hubby has returned from NYC with tentative plans for us to get together with another couple there and go to Wylie Dufresne's WD50 (Right. The kids can watch themselves - ??? Would love to, but...). We have one more birthday party this week (three total :-). I just realized that a couple of days ago would have been my childhood best friend's Dad's birthday. He passed away a couple of years after my Dad, so he hasn't been gone long. Great guy - funny, odd, warm - wore Santa ties in July, practiced golf in the neighbor's backyard, did a martini and limburger (sp? - know it's stinky - may not know how to spell it) cheese every night before dinner, Cornell guy but totally down to earth. I have a picture of him in a tux, holding a drink and a cigarette with a party going on behind him - totally him. I another "epitome of him"-type photo of my Dad - in his preppy shorts, holding a cigar, wearing his running shoes on their big wraparound porch - where Olivia and I would sit and play with the cat or talk to my Dad (Olivia like to pick slugs from my parents' impeccable garden much to my Mom's dismay :-).

Seems a lot of my friends have been reminiscing lately. I have too, but... then again.... I always do. One of my old dance friends is back in my world (many are, and... I love it!) - I'm thinking of my childhood a lot these days... Not sure why. It might be because Olivia is starting high school, and that triggers some memories. Might be, too, because my cousins have re-entered my world as well (for a while, it was hard for me to see my Dad's family - go back to the old house, etc. without getting really sad). Whatever reason.... I'm thinking a lot. Speaking of my best friend from childhood, I should mention her here. Paula. Funny, clumsy, adventurous, confident - difficult at times but totally her own person. We did EVERYTHING together - vacations, shopping, sleepovers - in fact, we used to write stories together, journal, create characters, practice pretend play (born actresses ;-).

Need to get crackin' this week. Do I have everything in for Olivia's camp? When should I expect the kindergarten stuff to arrive? Should Enzo take another camp? Should we think about extending Milo's preschool day at all? Is Lil still going to PBT with me for dance class? When can we set aside time to get new Oakland uniforms? Do we need another sports physical? It is part of summer, isn't it? The transition to and from school - a new grade - a new year.

Last "thing".... I am a boxing fan (not sure why - could give you a list of odd reasons, but... have been since high school), and... this triumphant story caught my eye. Sad at first... but has a happy ending. Don't know the fighter, but.... will be pulling for him next time I see his name - Robert Guerrero.

Anyway... have some silly photos. Is your house looking a little like this lately? Enjoy.

22 July 2010

My night house... my day house....

At night - alone - whether hubby is home or away - or he and kids just asleep and I'm wandering, trying to get sleepy.... I do reflect on the day. A lifelong writer, I have to replay, record and / or analyze my thoughts - constantly. In grade school, I wrote little books that I would staple or tape together - in high school, I journaled - in college, I drank coffee and smoked cigarettes and talked and talked into the wee hours with my roommates - and.... since those formative years, have written, journaled, blogged, analyzed in person or over the phone, etc. the events of the day, the week, the month, the year. I can type four big paragraphs in like 10 min. - as you know ;-).

So ... last night, I reflected again on trying to be more patient - how to offset the escalating fighting and / or yelling and chaos that sometimes occurs at day's end. Olivia is trying to make plans with friends, asking me for spending money, complaining about not being able to find clothes in the clean laundry and always unable to find something she likes to eat in the house. Enzo and Milo fight - cry because I won't let them play Wii for hours - bake but then eat ALL the cookies - refuse to take showers or baths - and Lil - well Lil is two, and she is very, very TWO, tantrums, high drama and all.

I decided to try to focus on how the other night, after the swim meet, I drove Olivia and her friends (the other two Olivias - pictured earlier :-) around a bit. We joked about how we were going to cruise until 3 am in the minivan, but... really ended up getting waffle fries and depositing them back at a house that had some more interesting friends hanging out until the wee hours. I focused on, too, how one on one, the little ones are quiet and cuddly. Last night, Lil and I snacked and watched TV while the boys were in their room, watching the pre-bedtime movie. Enzo and Lil fell asleep while feisty Milo actually came down the stairs and ended up showing me a late night finger puppet show, singing, then eventually dozing off on the couch next to me. This morning, my early riser, Enzo, is cuddling with me on the big chair, watching Spiderman and eating toast, cuz, see... we always have our morning time when he is fresh and talkative and excited for the day (and one morning, we scored a tv-adapted version of Harold and the Purple Crayon while Enzo stole sips of my milky, sugared coffee).

Good to reflect like this. I feel calm .... listening to the birds sing - albeit while I take the garbage out, intercept email bills and note areas of the kitchen that need to be scrubbed, but...I can do this. I can bring order back to this house - underschedule the kids for even just today, and.... try to relax a bit. This is why I started this blog - to share my day - to hear from others in my situation - and to learn....

Anyway - have you seen both Garnet Hill and Tea Collection this month? GREAT kids fall stuff in both (always good "go tos"). Worth a look. Also, did NOT see Top Chef last night - DVRed it, so.... no spoilers... Here's something fun... I've always liked to do photo self-portraits (funny - interesting to look at later, etc.) - hubby and I have many - I do them with the kids - had many with friends in high school and college (until my Mom and brother boxed up my room in grad school, and I never saw those photos again :-( - and... it seems to be becoming a trend with the ease of the iPhone photos and all, so.... here's one spot with self-portrait tips - though there are MANY others (hello Google). And - did you read the Ramona (by Beverly Cleary) books as a kid? I did. I LOVED them, so... am excited to see Ramona and Beezus, which, I believe, opens this weekend. Lastly, hubby just bought some Marvel comic books for the boys the other day on his way home from a local photo shoot, and... I thought they would not be interested in them, BUT ... they are! And.... superhero violence aside, it seems to have inspired some urges to draw and document some their little character pretend play, which is interesting and... productive / creative, I think. Now and then, I get a "why did (insert female superhero here) kiss Spiderman on the lips?" but.... all in all, a good purchase and ensuing activity (need to mention here - waaay late - that gra[hic novel / comic book artist / author and Clevelander, Harvey Pekar, who visited my alma mater, Ohio U, years ago, recently passed away. RIP.).

Happy day, all.

21 July 2010

Speaking of duty...

This is awfully late notice, but... you can attend a "walk in the woods" and get more info. on Kate and Peter's Treehouse tonight at 6:30 (run!) at the Frick Environmental Center. The group will meet at 6:30 and meet on the latest developments before embarking on the regularly scheduled walk. See Amy at Callapitter (my blog list!!!) for more info.

And... don't forget about Haiti. We have friends who are volunteering to help with clean-up down there now - one through a corporation - one through a non-profit AND I know two photographers who have been down there to document the horror. It is still awful and they still need donations - cities in ruin - orphans with nowhere to sleep.... You can always try here or my "go to", Unicef - though, there are other initiatives - like if you go to the band, The Arcade Fire's, fan site and donate, they will duplicate up to one million dollars in fan donations. Not too shabby. Google it all - I am in a hurry to post.

And ... see the chuckleheads pictured above (you've seen these girlies before)? They have decided that, tonight, they want to have a sleepover and get chinese food and eat it out of the containers like they do in the movies (and laugh, of course, and do Facebook Photo Booth AND talk about boys...). Know what I mean? Actually, that doesn't sound like such a bad idea....;-). Wish I was going :-).


We don't iron in this house unless we have to. In fact, this morning, as hubby took off for New York, I found myself in the basement ironing a pair of khakis, a crisp blue striped shirt and an old Ralph Lauren gingham check that is so old - and so soft and nice - that I remember borrowing it and wearing it a lot when Enzo was first born - kudos to Ralph cuz it still looks good :-).

As I ironed, I remembered waaay back - when I was 15 years old or so... I was busy with ballet 6 days a week - I had recently tried out for and made cheerleading in order to make friends at my new, huge high school (no gymnastics team at this one), and I was in a number of Honors classes, including a French class in which I was the only one from my class - everyone else a year or two older. My Mom had begun rollerskating with the neighbors for exercise. When I look back, she was youthful for her age - and young - only in her forties - AND a much better skater than I could ever be; she went backwards, sideways, skated fast, stopped short.... Anyway, one day she fell and broke her wrist. After that, for a couple of months, while she healed, I picked up the slack on a lot of her household duties. I did the dishes (my Dad would help - but he traveled a lot) - I put away the laundry - I vacuumed - I cooked - and, most stand-out in my mind, is how I ironed. I ironed with my Mom standing over me to check my work. And this woman ironed EVERYTHING - from pocket "hankies" to sheets and jeans. Ever frugal, she never had my Dad's shirts laundered (and he wore a suit to work everyday), so I would spray and starch and iron over and over and over again. My brothers, who were not involved in sports or outside activities and took middle level or remedial classes at school, did nothing but watch TV and make fun of me. When I would get upset, my mother would remind them that I had no sense of humor so they should stop. I guess, in hindsight, being called a fat slave or having the dish towels snapped at me while they yelled "work - work!" and laughed is kinda funny... really a good time (and, remember, I have no sense of humor so any attempts at sarcasm here or hints at being funny are purely in your head ;-). I was so tired. I got a "D" on French test, my new cheerleading friends were mad at me and talking dumping me from the squad, AND I lost a lot of Saturdays trying to catch up on my ironing. It sucked (for the record, when my parents moved to Europe a few years later - and.... when my brothers returned to the states to attend college, they bought them a condo, filled a bank account for them and gave them ATM cards, hired a cleaning AND a laundry service for them - Are they better for it? NO. Joke is no longer on me - though, obviously, my irritation lingers).

So ... I do not iron. I see no point. We are a wash and wear family AND we do launder hubby's dress shirts AND anything lovely and designer that we purchase, we do NOT trust to our own unskilled hands - we dry clean - AND we look for good places. Today, however, I was happy to do it for hubby. He would do the same for me (scandalous in my Mom's eyes, I realize - but we have a scandalous past of hubby making lunch for my daughter because he had a home office and I traveled a lot and had to be downtown in my office everyday - HE drove her to the pool, filled out her school forms, etc. - even cooked - gasp).

As is the case with my serendipitous life, I have been thinking on this time in my life a lot recently. Don't know why. Maybe because I see Olivia and her friends as already pretty self-actualized young women - into sports - close friendships and their own personal style (Olivia does not believe me that my Mom really has told me to "not allow" her to use a straightening iron on her curly / wavy hair - and has even suggested taking it from her - AND, further, would have taken it from me and threatened counseling if I took it back or bought another - wait... I was never allowed to have my own money, so... scratch that last bit).

So... what is my duty these days? Not sure, truthfully. I just had an early morning conversation with hubby - wee hours really (still have the insomnia - though am implementing some "cures", as I said - give it time...). I often feel lost. Sometimes, I even compare myself to the other women with whom he works - an ex-dancer living the single life in NYC - an Italian model and Flash programmer who drives a motorcycle - two women who own and operate publications - more.... Seriously - I mean WHY would I make ANY of that up, right? And... here I am. STILL trying to find what I do best. Do you guys ever feel that way? I mean, we all do, but....

Photo: Some brightness on a cloudy day - my Olivia with Taylor Lautner (on her way to stalk him with friends - picture is for the autograph they were hoping to get - oh.... we'll find him. Don't you worry :-)... or a photo, rather. BTW - he was spotted at the Waterfront PF Chang's recently.... like... um.... eating. OMG.

20 July 2010

Redemption: An Update

This morning found me and my three little ones lying in a tangle of quilts and sheets on our "big bed". Enzo had wandered down first just after Daddy left for work. He woke Olivia for me - who needed to get up, grab a day old donut, find a clean towel and head to swim practice. With the two little ones still fast asleep, she got a ride from her "bestie" this am .. the pool is only a few minutes away. Tonight, Edgewood swims against old rival, Forest Hills, who is now in a different league, so... it's a fun meet. Just back from practice, Olivia tells me she is swimming the wet t-shirt relay and a combo of back and breast stroke in another event (other highlights will include an "underwater breast stroke" and a "corkscrew" event - should be fun). Anyway ..... The two little ones finally got up. Milo grabbed his milk and lay down next to me and Enzo... then... we saw Lil's messy head appear at the foot of the bed. We are calm today - eating toast and jelly - drinking juice and coffee - watching an old Harry Potter (and I LOVE Harry Potter and JK Rowling - that whole series has followed Olivia perfectly - saw the first one in kindergarten with her.... will keep watching as they come out) - will buy a book later for a friend's b-day party tomorrow.

Yesterday worked out OK. Olivia and a friend worked out with me at the gym - little ones loved the play area so much, they didn't want to leave. We did a fast food lunch, guilt-free (and, yes, I realize we are all about the junk food this week, AND, NO - I did not partake - while I am not going entirely low fat, I am not doing junk - but, M, if you're still reading this summer, I need some of your much-missed "monkey platters"!!) then just like totally tackled the afternoon. They helped me weed the vegetable garden - wash the van's dirty, dirty floor mats - straighten the basement a bit - clean the tv room... THEN, we made lemonade, popped popcorn and got a movie going. In that zen-like state of organization and cool calm, we decided to go outside and play. They like running around and attempting their version of tag with the neighbors OR a pretend play that I can't really follow (all good - I don't want to follow - quite like it when they find that imaginative, parent-free "zone"). On my mobile with my Mom, I ended up tailing Lilliana as she ran after the others down the street - to the neighbor's on the corner where the kids tackled the swingset then ran inside to play. I ended up getting to know my neighbors a little better over guacamole, wine and ice water. We were asked to dinner, but I didn't think Milo would eat salmon and pesto - though it looked yummy, yummy, yummy. I thought I was going to spend a long boring evening waiting for hubby who was working late, but, instead, I had conversation with a nice couple who I usually only see in passing or at our block party. Cool.

In hindsight, I think that using a firm hand (or voice, rather) in the morning DID establish some control. I find it interesting that the "hard labor" we engaged in as a family led to zen calm and an open demeanor that allowed for new experiences later in the day. As you know, I lean towards free-range - though, I am a worrier so will NOT, for example, let my two year run down the street after the older kids. I WILL go with her. My four year old often fashions dangerous looking toys out of rope and semi-sharp weapon-like objects from the house; points for ingenuity, but... I will NOT let him play with them (most of the time) - take a picture - choose a safe toy. I mean I don't get nuts with the worry, but... I do, for example, thoroughly wash the potential salmonella off Enzo's hands after he helps me make eggs - I let Milo push the coffee grinder button but then put it waaaay out of reach so the temptation to work on it himself does not present itself. Within reason, I let them explore. And.... if any of you have read some of my comments / posts on the free range blog, I do not mind indoor play (love the zip line at my kids' gymnastics studio - dig indoor climbing walls - do not see a problem with sand and water tables, etc.) like some "free-rangers" do. I also am not a fan of sending my little ones anywhere when they have to navigate dangerous streets. And, in my opinion, they are all dangerous. On my quiet little urban street, people regularly run the stop sign, so... Digressing. I feel a post for later a'comin' ;-). Stay tuned.

Actually slept well last night. I have implemented some of the advice I was given (some involving chamomile tea and dealing with my worries WHILE I workout - both of which I did yesterday - which is probably why I reported tears on the treadmill during one of my responses to you all - and thanks for all that, btw, S & T - thanks, A, for showing me YOUR crazy eyes in person - thanks for supportive texts too - you know who you are :-) - AND... quick retail note here - I love, love, love my Bath and Body Works pillow spray in the Warm Milk and Honey scent - thanks, kiddies, from Mother's Day). Anyway.... starting to get my worries under control (and they range from the odd - like not finishing photo albums or thinking about a lost toy to irrational thoughts about camp, school uniform and other expenses that I know we can easily handle, but... I don't like how money flows out of the house like water at times....). This week, I may snap again since hubby is off to New York for a photo shoot, but... I'm working on it, as we all are, right?

So ... off I go - chocolate milk for Enzo, steamer for Olivia, apple for Milo and grapes for Lil. I need to buy a vat of laundry detergent to get through the piles of laundry in this house, and .... I'm OK with that :-). Ebb and flow... ebb and flow.....

Photos: More summer zen - all at grandma's house a week or so ago.

19 July 2010

If you can't say something nice...

... post a photo, AND.... attempt to be helpful by posting a couple of tips.

Yesterday, took Lil to lunch in Shadyside at the Walnut Grill while boys were at a gymnastics party and Olivia was at Longue Vue Country Club with friends (and speaking of country clubs and helpful tips, did you know that Churchill Country Club is offering, in addition to other dining and limited memberships, a GOLF membership? So.... any golfers - and I know my family is full of them - who want to save some money can check it out! :-). She was good - did not run from us or have a tantrum once. She sat and chatted and ate salad, chicken and fries. She drank orange juice and colored on the paper table cloth like a champ. My tip? The Walnut Grill now has a market salad option which allows you to make / customize your own salad. It was good. Nice option. Is it me or does the atmosphere always feel a little tense in there (and only OK food - come on)? Anyway, lunch was good - it was cool - close to where we needed to get our boys, etc.

American Vietnam Veterans picking up some furniture from us today (AMVETS and other organizations seemed to have their neighborhood trucks full for a couple of weeks, but... these guys were available). A lot of organizations no longer accept furniture or baby items, but they do, and...scheduling a pick-up is super easy. If you need to get rid of some stuff, check them out. I put out several IKEA beds and mattresses today with the pick-up slip that I printed myself taped to them. I have a pre-printed tax receipt. I'm set. Look into it.

Tired today - the humidity in the house keeps Lil and Milo up and restless all night - plus I had to get up super early, navigate rush hour traffic and drive to the other side of town to retrieve Olivia from a cousin sleepover. I rushed her to "mandatory" swim practice that others blew off (prepping for championships, which we are so proud she made again), but... she's conscientious, and I know she's glad she went. Had to hear more family craziness - had to put up with fighting little ones (who, in an odd twist, would have actually slept in today instead of getting up at 5:50 am on the dot - awesome). I'm done. Got the kiddies donuts - trying to grab coffee and sneak in a workout. Also trying to deal with a brand new broken curtain rod, a trail of broken toys, muddy footprints on a toilet seat and juice spilled all over the dining room table and floor. Good times.

Really - E, M & L are so stirred up today. Reluctant to play outside due to gray clouds, they are feisty, angry, grabby, argumentative. I mean, close to tears myself, I just yelled and sent them upstairs where they are now biding their time on the third floor stairs and, you guessed it, have begun fighting again. I'm not exaggerating - 30 seconds didn't go by this morning without tears, a complaint, a scream, an argument, a slap from one to the other. It's awful. I feel like a crazy person who has lost control. I always feel like they hate me and like I've ruined all their fun when I have to deal out semi-harsh punishments. I've tried to be positive this morning. I've tried to be gentle - offer things to do - read books - fix breakfast..... And... I know that some of us have discussed this at length before (you know who you are morning out and gymnastics pals - remember the one conversation that started... "oooo - I really yell - I mean really yell"? - and it wasn't me who started it, my beloved sisters in "end of the rope" frustration). In the throes of trying to provide food, cleanliness and warmth to our families of multiple little ones (three 5 and under in this house) with, in my case and others, a middle schooler / high schooler with specific needs thrown in AND a busy, hard to reach hubby (at times) AND my own maintenance like teeth brushing, dressing myself and eating now and then to sneak in, sometimes raising our voices to restore order becomes necessary (though, the guilt will linger and linger - THOUGH my last reminder yell, complete with "crazy eyes", really did get them playing peacefully together AND using time productively. Go figure.). So.... like the headline states.....

See ya. Hope you're all having better days than I am.

Oh yeah - photo: Me - looking pretty damn cheerful for the life I lead these days (snark, snark, snark). Actually, I was on my way out for the night. And.... you know I'm only half serious - was just telling y'all how lucky I am the other day.... Let's go revisit that post..... Oh wait - or here is me yesterday with some of my fave high schoolers and Lil ;-).... And... since we are glancing at photos, in a related note (and my last tip of the day), I am simultaneously testing acne and aging treatments for my skin. On the first leg of my anti-aging analysis, but... have gushed before about Neutrogena's "on the spot" acne treatment, and... still am. Cheap and effective; I love it! Will report back on other .... the "look and feel younger stuff". Can say now, however, that in informally "testing" toothpastes across the board regarding whitening, fighting tarter and strengthening the enamel (remember, I am anal about my teeth), I am having success with Colgate's sensitive / enamel strengthening item (I'm a teeth grinder at night - hmmmm. what gave me away? Can anyone say "high-strung"? ;-).

In closing... I have to ask... So do you yell? Do you? Does it help? Does anything else help? Can't believe I'm asking, but I am :-). And, for the record, to appease everyone, my first reaction was to cancel my workout - NOT cook the elaborate dinner I have planned... in lieu of stopping to play and / or find an activity to make them all "like" me again. BUT - isn't that a bad precedent to set? I mean, there are days for that BUT there are also days in which things need to get done or Mommy needs a bit of a break. Right? Please weigh-in :-).

18 July 2010

Today's Musings...

Paranormal Activity is one of the least scary, most laughable "horror" films I've seen in a long time. Along the lines of the pathetic Blair Witch Project years ago. The premise was great, but....

Butter makes a freakin' mess in the kitchen. Hubby and his Sunday pancakes are a comprehensive, greasy force to be reckoned with each week.

There are some people in life who, as much as you try to be gracious and polite to, will always rub you the wrong way.

Middle schoolers on the edge of high school, fresh from a late Sweet 16 birthday party for a friend ( a boy :-), will always stay up past 2 am and will always be loud (it is 10:30 ish - so shocked to see these girlies on the couch ready for the pancake mess - expected them up at noon ;-).

Found something cool at the artists market last night: Handmade kids clothes and cool hats and neck warmers for adults - check her out, Carla Morris - www.carlamorris.etsy.com - AND - discovered something kinda funny that's not supposed to be funny - the band Nobadjuju from Pitt - OMG - think bad '80s lounge music and / or hair band and classic rock covers.... only these people look like they're in their 30's. Hello?

Feelin' snarky, so... signing off. Though.... was thrilled to run into an old friend last night. Hi Leah :-).

Photos: My Olivia with two of her partners in crime from last night (and there are others... just no pics today :-).

17 July 2010

All over the place tonight....

First, let's start off with a few Milo quotes:

Regarding a frozen chicken in Trader Joe's: Hey - why does this dude have bone feet?

Regarding a potato bug on the sidewalk: I poked him and stepped on him; now he's sleeping.

Milo, Milo, Milo :-) - and I mean BIG smile here.

So ... Enzo wanted to make roast turkey today, but... we had to settle for chicken (another big smile). No matter... he helped me season and prep it. We chopped potatoes and veggies then... I had to take a break - from my sweet kiddies. I've been yelling a bit lately. Nothing dramatic, but... got mad at Milo yesterday, and he drew a picture for me and crawled up onto my lap all smiles in apology for being so cheeky earlier. I felt bad. Lil has picked up a sad little saying from being around too many dramatic teenagers - "You HATE me, Mommy" (said if I don't look down right away at her ballet tutu or her funny face - similarly, her siblings also "hate" her if they don't listen to her right away. Drama queen. Still - it's sad.). Anyway, Enzo wanted to talk... and talk and talk and talk. And... I wanted to listen, so I knew I needed time away then ... I could focus (on rainy days, it can be tricky to remember to be nice all day long - this goes for all of us). And I did (once de-stressed ;-) - as we sat at dinner - as he helped me get everything ready for the family - proud of his role - I listened and offered praise and hugs.

My helpful Olivia put the fire under the potatoes AND removed the foil tent from our bird WHILE I was at the gym texting and calling her during my workout (my brief, much-needed time away). And, for the record, I am SORE today, having pushed it the day before with the free weights (In fact - the photo today is a before photo of my nonexistent tricep. Self-portrait, obviously. My hubby downloaded them and asked why I took so many "naughty" photos of myself - coupled with so many dork photos (WHAATTT?!?!). I will post more dork photos later. They are pretty funny if you don't know what I'm doing ;-). Thank you, Olivia. AND... thank you for watching my friend's kiddos so we could hit that sale at Nordstrom I warned / told you all about the other day. Shoes, make-up and one cool jacket later (oh - and cheesecake), we are both a little more rested and focused, I think - me and friend, that is - again, thanks to Olivia :-) - cuz we rolled in well after 11pm.

Take a look at this post at my Free Range blog (see that list of mine again). My response is below. I get a little tired of the division between what is good - what is bad- what is free range - what is not. As is the case with any cause, belief, group - whatever - the tendency to get very single-minded - very fixated on a righteous tunnel vision at times - always looms. Anyway, my response is below (you'll see it if you read - think about responding yourselves - the different life perspectives are necessary here):

Isn’t there value in having outside and inside experiences? I have fond memories of collecting leaves to press inside at my Montessori school. I find waterplay indoors extremely fun; my kids wear their swim goggles in the bathtub – I join them in the waterplay at our local children’s museum. I was a gymnast and trained hard in what was basically an advanced large muscle room. I also ran barefoot and hiked and played in the mud outside, but… I wouldn’t trade my experience inside for anything. Why put restrictions on “free range”? Why deem one activity OK and another not OK? Just my two cents… I don’t think we should be so guarded, and I think we need to be careful not to tell our kids what is appropriately “free range” and what is not (i.e. steer clear of saying what you SHOULD be doing….).

In closing, hope you all have a great weekend. Maybe give this artist's market a look at Southside Works :-). I think we're going to.

16 July 2010

Morning House

So this post isn't done during the wee hours, though.... I was up again - just able to get back to sleep this time.... Again, thanks all - your suggestions are really hitting home in that I guess I often don't view insomnia as a big problem, having been sleepless and dragging with babies up all hours or toddlers teething, preschoolers putting off bedtime, etc. for the past few years - AND having dealt with insomnia my whole life off and on (albeit without a family to take care of). Now, however, with some additional "stuff" on my mind, I'm finding that I need my sleep to handle the kid-related nighttime surprises along with all the daily stuff - all our sports and activities - my new amped up workout schedule - my writing - my cooking - my new biz venture currently in the works, etc. I need to finally DO something about it. I think I'll try the "routine" sent to me by a long ago friend with whom I have recently reconnected. His plan seems to make the most sense and may be a longtime "cure". I'll implement then share with all of you (though, again, thanks for all the emails, FB msgs and face to face advice).

Anyway - sharing some images of my morning house today. I am foggy lately - feeling like the clean house we had ready for our houseguests a few days ago has gone way messy again and I am in desperate need of a grocery outing (I think two of my kids just had M & Ms for breakfast ;-)... PLUS I am so sleepy and shaky all the time that I'm spilling sugar, coffee, pasta, soup, etc. all over the floor and counter, breaking things like my favorite retro butter dish (I mean shattered it - along with a mug, a terra cotta pot, etc.).... gotta get back on track.

So... sleepless in Pitt is signing off again but not without mentioning that Men who Stare at Goats is a bizarre movie (love everyone in it, though - Jeff Bridges who really does have shaman-like qualities, Ewan MacGregor who I have loved forever and George Clooney who just cracks me up). Followed that last night by Weird Science. Gotta love that ;-).

Edgewood Eels won their swim meet last night (and Olivia brought home two first place blue ribbons - one for individual - one for a relay - as did many of her friends / teammates). We took all the kids - I filmed Olivia swimming like a jet - got some footage of the wee ones in the baby pool with their funny goggles on (in fact, I missed a great end of the lane perspective video of Olivia to take the opportunity to show Enzo how she and other people he knows swim in "races", as he calls them - I think he wants to swim next year! Just like big sis Olivia, and... just like mommy years ago :-). The long walk around our little 'hood to get to our car - sitting outside the club, backpack on, kids all around me, waving to friends as they drove by on their way home, all of us happy after an evening eating bbq and pizza, watching our swimmers and chatting all night long was JUST GREAT. I do love my life.

OK - brain fry..... I'm beginning to not make sense plus I'm hearing "mommy" every five seconds from my wild bunch. Have a good day, all!

15 July 2010

Sleepy, but.... still thinking retail and "kid stuff".

Do you know this line of clothing? You should. Really cute for little ones.

Some good recipes for kids here.

An old favorite of mine .... some good ideas for kids' rooms, nurseries, etc. here. Floor coverings mostly, but... the new stuff is cool.

Back to school shopping has started (believe it or not), so... get started - I would start with shoes here - because they always sell out first (before uniforms, etc.).

Looking for stuff to do with your kids in Western PA this summer, AND running out of ideas? Check this out.... a couple of ideas (and a good resource all year round).

Photos: More summer "stuff" :-) - some "off to camp" photos - some "mill about the house" photos - sparklers from the 4th - all within the last few weeks....

Insomnia Day 2

UP again. For hours. Seems to be no end in sight. A lot on my mind lately. As you know, family "stuff" is bothering me. I may come off snarky and flippant, but... I'm sad ... AND concerned. More on that later ... a post for another day, as I like to say.

Thanks, all - who offered help / support regarding my last sleepless post. Anyway, thinking (and posting photos - Mt. Washington - here in Pitt) of my lovelies ....

Still not thrilled with Top Chef. See my blog list for a post better than I can produce at Serious Eats regarding the latest.

Olive Juice still doing their crazy clearance sale (again, $60 dresses for $15, etc. - cute kids' tennis stuff, retro looks, etc.). Nordstrom's anniversary sale starts tomorrow. And.... just got my Wishcraft (by Chasing Fireflies) Halloween catalog in the mail. I so love Halloween..... Can't wait (though am enjoying the pool, gym, lazy evenings on deck routine I have going on now. Fall is my favorite season, though).

Slackin' lately... I am TIRED.

14 July 2010

What do you do when you can't sleep?

Wander the dark, dewey backyard deck and look at the sky - listen to the rainwater drip from the trees?

Make some tea?

Watch a movie?

Write hypothetical letters to those you love - those you wish loved you?

Do some yoga?

Look at photos?

Wrap up the loose ends of the day?

Remember a very good day?


I kinda do it all.... Signed "sleepless in Pitt" :-).

Laughing here because, for me, that cheesey old movie (insert Seattle - see above "signature") plays over and over in head since it previews on one of the movies my boys (and Lil) love to watch in the car. Always influenced by Olivia, they often enjoy "chick flicks" ;-). And ... I just noticed that "shabu-shabu" is highlighted on Serious Eats this am (see that blog list again :-), and... years ago, for some reason.... that was one of Olivia's nicknames for Enzo as an infant (she and her friend, Eliza). Giggles. Maybe I will be able to go back to sleep after all....

13 July 2010

A few EASY summer recipes.

So .... here is an easy and tasty pasta salad: Elbow or rotini or other small pasta - peas (I use organic flash frozen - and I like a lot in my salad - though you can customize :-) - thinly sliced baby or pickling cucumbers - thinly sliced mild white onion (I'm thinking even a shallot) - your favorite homemade vinaigrette or, for store-bought, I like Brianna's New American (has a balsamic taste) with maybe a splash of mustard - and if you're not doing low fat (and your dressing will have fat, but it is the very necessary "good fat" if you get or make one with an olive oil base), go ahead and shred some sharp cheddar or parmesan cheese over the top (after you have appropriately boiled, drained, mixed, etc. - of course). Very tasty.

AND - this may sound a little odd, but... in an interesting twist on Sundaes (and this really only works with chocolate ice cream - not yogurt - not vanilla, so....) - go ahead and scoop your chocolate ice cream - drizzle some Extra Virgin Olive Oil on top - sprinkle some sea salt - then another little drizzle of maple syrup - OR go without the syrup and simply enjoy the fruity olive oil and the salty chocolate goodness. A friend of mine in California frequents a sundae shop where this is a favorite. VERY good.

And.... I can't believe I haven't talked this up before, but.... 4C green tea mix is the best. Higher in sugar, of course, than tea you make yourself - but quick and easy (like the above treats), which is what I am ALL ABOUT this summer.

Quick question: Are you guys like me and... if your little ones don't finish their PB & J sandwiches at lunch, YOU end up eating them - dipping them in chicken noodle soup or something - on the run - when calories and fat "don't count"? Totally undermines my diet plan. I just had a similar mac and cheese conversation with my friend in food and neighbor with whom I consult on many of these important issues ;-). So... do you commit such diet faux pas? I need to know :-).

More summer fun.

Had to pass on watching friends perform acoustically at Club Cafe last night because time just got too tight (and wish I would have remembered ahead of time to send some of you that way :-) - gym, boot camp, nothing to make for dinner, kids who wanted to play outside past bathtime..... Night before, we tried out our new fire pit (the kids insisted despite the humidity), and we strung some white lights on our deck for ambiance. Nice evening. We sat and sipped while the kids ran about catching lightening bugs.

Shopped T.J. Maxx with Olivia yesterday and, while at one time I was overwhelmed by it (loved it in high school - was over it quickly, though...), I quite like it now - found a cute shirt for Lil - saw some swimming stuff for the boys - closet organization stuff for Olivia - plus she found some cute shorts and shirts. We scored some gumballs for our retro gum machine that sits in Olivia's room (and has been empty for months). Now, however, Lil and Milo are obsessed with it - have been in her room non-stop (last night, we discovered Olivia's white communion cross missing, her candle "smooshed", her hair brush smeared with candle wax and more - and, Milo with candle wax in his hair... hmmm....). Anyway, they each have 12 cents to spend today. I'm sure it will be gone by noon.

Taylor Lautner at Hampton High School today to film Abduction (heads up from Olivia). I think I see a trip to Hampton High School in my very near future :-). Again, being commanded by the teens... But - fyi, all - I hear they are putting in extras on site.... so.....

Photos: Grilling, making lemonade and waking and finally ambling down the steps at noon. Ahhh.... summer.

12 July 2010