31 August 2010

Iron for my iron-willed boy.

OK - so, as you know, I am a worrier. My latest addition to the worry queue is Milo's low iron. We've dealt with this before - as his diet is pretty much bacon, apples, chicken nuggets and peanut butter with an occasional granola bar thrown in for good measure (and this is my optimistic list - the other, closer to the truth version, reads as such: chips, chocolate, popcorn, gummy bears, Coca Cola - oh... and milk..... lots and lots of milk, which causes anemia in young children due to the slight intestinal irritation and bleeding that it can cause in ... well.... all humans, really - awesome). He has the minor kidney issue I've alluded to before, so... gets his blood tested often. Most kids this age do not have to do that - I'm told by the doctors that low iron for this age group (toddlers, preschoolers and adolescent girls most common) is relatively normal, but... goes untreated because blood tests are not standard for well visits past infancy. His kidney specialist, who has 6 kids of his own (or is it 7? - usually we confer on such things each visit, but... geez Dr. M, I've lost count ;-), even reassures me that his own kids indulge in the "white diet" - the bagels and cream cheese, pasta with butter, white bread, etc., and... that it is maddening.

Anyway - we did deal with this before - and... he had to go on an iron supplement (which, when he was wee little, he did not taste in his foods or drinks - now... he detects it right away and spits it out - and, trust me, it is horrible stuff - like sucking on a piece of metal - or worse, drinking it - blah :-p). At the time, however, I also had low iron (have had the tendency my whole life too - former vegetarian - tend to overwork myself - got so low with my last pregnancy, I almost needed a transfusion prior to my c-section) because I was pregnant with Lil so was pushing iron in all foods in the house - PLUS Milo liked raisins, iron fortified cereals and did not mind the fortified pasta that I bought (now, he calls it the "flat pasta" for some reason and refuses it). So ... now - because his iron level did not improve at all in a 3 week period, his pediatrician, a man I trust implicitly, told me that, if he does not improve in this next 3 week period, we will have to get hematologists involved. I don't want to do this. The poor kid has already had a lifetime of tests far more intrusive than any adult should have to endure - plus a surgery before he was even a month old. This is his year to shine - to have fun - eat lunch with his friends at school - spend time with mommy on off days - and go back to his beloved gymnastics. It is not a time of repeated blood tests and frequent trips to Childrens' (as much as I love them ;-). I won't allow it.

So..... I have my old list of iron-rich foods up in the kitchen. I am back to letting him drink Coke in the morning because it is the only thing in which he MAY not taste the offensive dropper of liquid iron (a suggestion from a nurse who said that other parents have done this - thinking it might be the tinny, bitterish finish on Coke that hides it). I have little bowls of this fruit-sweetened iron-rich cereal all over the house that he MUST take a bite of before he has any sort of "real" treat (yeah - I know - weird - but... he likes it, so... I'm goin' with what I've got, know what I mean?). I get him chicken nuggets or waffle fries on command now (chicken and potatoes are both iron sources), I "cut" his regular milk with soy milk (another iron source), I bought iron-rich multi-grain crackers and let him have that with peanut butter for dinner (he is not a red meat or veggie kind of kid - nor does he eat mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, hot dogs or other kid-friendly foods) - I am thisclose to buying iron-rich baby formula to put in his ice cream and milk (though ice cream is now super-sweetened tofutti - the extra sugar so he won't detect a difference - Milo does not like to be trifled with ;-) - and I probably will get a multi-vitamin - gummy, of course and let him eat them all day long - a no no for any length of time, obviously, especially a child with kidney issues, but... we HAVE to "pass" this blood test on or around 17 Sept. I will feel horrible if my failings as mom who supposedly feeds her kids well but... nonetheless... still causes him further medical interventions. Though in my defense - I made a chicken dish, using blackstrap molasses which is another iron source, last night - plus I dug into our CSA veggies and roasted beets and made a field greens, goat cheese, onion, pepper and beet salad. I often make homemade meatballs, whip up a marinade for steaks - we do burgers constantly - BIG fave with everyone else in the house - and I do a pretty good occasional pot roast or boeuf bourgignon (sp? like really sp, I think - but I am anxious to post and get input) - love spinach - insist on veggies with every meal - oh you all know me.....

I know my pediatrician, Dr. K, means well. He loves Milo - really - is so sweet to my little Viking. He knows, though, that ... unlike other kids - even spirited ones - Milo can superhuman kick anyone trying to dose him with iron, stick him with any sort of shot or get him to eat something he doesn't like - he can even pull a Houdini and make it down the hall and out of the building before even the fastest of doctors, nurses, office staff and well-intentioned parents can reach him. He KNOWS that, if Milo doesn't want iron, Milo won't take iron. I think he was impressing on me to accomplish this ANY WAY I can ... a tall order indeed. It drives me nuts to watch Lil pop green, iron-rich peas into her mouth one after the other - eat dried apricots like they're candy - or watch Olivia gobble up the different kinds of hummus I have in the house while Enzo eats his giant plate full of eggs - all of these iron-rich foods, and .... Milo refuses it all or nibbles at those I do give him.

So .... I'll do all this. I will be encouraged by the following: Milo has taken steps just this past year by learning to eat something nutritious before he snacks, but... again.... for Milo, this is yogurt, apples, granola, angel hair pasta with parmesan, orange juice - none of them iron sources - though citrus does help with the absorption... I'm grasping here..... bear with me - oh.... and wish me luck. This is killing me. Suggestions?

30 August 2010

That chill is in the air again :-).

And it is a welcome one. Really. I'm ready for the change.

I drove the neighborhood today (quite like taking Olivia to the bus stop) - my regular path. Down to the end of the street - drop Olivia with the rest of the Oakland and Central kids then turn the corner and head into our neighborhood the back way - past houses I usually don't see - up and around the corner where we do know some kids. Up the street, past all the familiar haunts to our familiar "green house", as the boys say.

Of course, I do then let my mind wander to how the boys would run down the street to play on the neighbor's swingset all summer - how they would play with water squirters up and down the sidewalk - how they would snack on the front porch, reluctant to miss out on anything. We went through boxes and boxes of juice pops, we made lemonade, we picked tomatoes on the deck, we took late evening walks with Lil in the wagon and, of course, the long days at the pool with packed lunch, goggles and treat money to last us all day. Lil would bring her mermaid Barbie for the baby pool - the boys would find school friends for the "big pool". I think we have a few summers left of the baby pool - plus some tentative diving board lessons from mommy and daddy - tennis in the morning before it gets too hot. They're still so little :-).

Last night, Olivia went on a walk with a couple friends - one starts school at Shadyside Academy today, so he was, noticeably, not at the same bus stop today - and ... for years, he was. Earlier in the day, she went shopping with another friend, starting at the same school - probably a little nervous - definitely going to miss her besties ;-). Now all that, I have to admit, is a passage (and going to high school isn't like starting grade school with years and years ahead of you - it has a very real, close, potentially scary, "might leave home" end ... in just a couple of years!). They are young, but they are growing up and, once they get to high school, it seems to go rather fast. I see kids I remember as the "big kids" in 7th or 8th grade now driving or hear that they have boyfriends / girlfriends or that they are spending part of the summer in Nicaragua or New York City. Doesn't seem possible - any of it ;-).

And I do remember those late night walks with friends - the things we talked about - the way the dim light of dusk sort of made us imagine our own futures living in houses in similar neighborhoods with our own kids - and all the things that would have brought us to that point - college, boyfriends, new jobs. It was all in front of us. Amazes me sometimes - that I didn't realize that then - I thought I was already there - on that pre-set path to wherever I would go, whatever I would do.

Yesterday - I lay on my bed for a minute, having dumped a basket of laundry next to the dresser and feeling that I needed a quick breather. I stretched, feeling my calves sore from our morning run the day before - feeling the familiar cool air of the ceiling fan. I listened to the boys playing downstairs - I heard the water from the hose hitting the side of the van outside, knowing that Lil was helping Daddy wash the cars - I heard Olivia banging around in her room, filing school papers, taping her schedule to her planner, figuring out her new graphing calculator. When I stretched, my fingers touched some of the NEW paperwork :-) that I have to read and sign for our new high school experience. I thought then and feel it even more so now - we are lucky. LUCKY.

I noticed the finger painting pictured here in the corner, next to my armoire, behind some summer debris ;-), and.... it really hit me how important these years are - these years growing up with our kids. See - I did the finger painting - years ago, in first or second grade, and I remember clearly doing it - sponge painting then realizing that my fingers were paint-covered so I just went ahead and started with the finger stuff, eventually moving to hand prints. I was always the kid who would volunteer for like the art teacher's project to get kids of all grades to step in the cold October mud outside the school and put our footprints on a piece of paper that would hang the length of the hall (I went to Kent State University's lab school - with a Montessori philosophy). On this day, I remember being told that I should have signed up for finger painting instead of the sponging but that my work was fabulous. I mean, my mom even framed it, and she never framed anything. I remember the Dixie cup of juice and the animal crackers after that class - so clearly, I can almost remember how they taste together like that - when you're hungry - when it's special sitdown time with your friends. I do not want to lose those memories - I don't want them to fade, and... want them all for my kids.

Happy day, all. The season is a changin' ;-).

29 August 2010


Yesterday was Community Day in Edgewood. Here are Enzo, Milo and Olivia enjoying them with Daddy on Koenig Field (Lil was home asleep - tired from her big day of racing, shopping and playing - Mommy enjoying some quiet time :-) - having decided to forgo the Sprout Fund fundraiser in lieu of more family time).

28 August 2010

Queen of the Race

Scenes from the Run Around the Square - Regent Sq. this morning..... My little ones ran the 1.5 mile with me and hubby (Olivia ran last year - this year was with friends for a birthday sleepover). Enzo ran way ahead of me - Milo had a leg cramp but showed incredible stamina - would not stop - kept on a nice running pace (they were tiring me out at first ;-). Lil actually walked quite a bit with Daddy - only got in and out of stroller a couple of times.

27 August 2010

Reminders (i.e. picture me with Post-it notes stuck all over me :-).

Tomorrow morning - Run Around the Square

Tomorrow Night - Hothouse, the Sprout Fund's annual fundraiser

Sunday - Crafts n'at (100 artists total this year, I hear) - at Soldiers and Sailors Hall, Pitt - 12 - 5

I think I'll do all three this weekend :-).

Open House and Orientation

Milo has his P4 open house today. He'll have, pretty much, the same teachers - one new to him. We'll go - get coffee - take all the little ones. It's nice every year (we've done this with Enzo and Milo now for both P3 and now P4) - they play in the toy house there, set up dinosaurs, talk to their teachers - in Milo's case - alternately "loud talk" and act coy ;-). Enzo likes to show him the ropes - tell him how it is :-). Lil just likes to mix with the other kids (I should find opportunities for her to do that more often - she currently reports big sis, Olivia, as her "best friend").

This morning is cool - back door open - Lil playing with Barbies on the deck in her cute little hoodie sweater (thanks to April at Vanilla Pastry Studio for delivering the missing "mouse dolls" yesterday to our door last night - they were waiting on the mailbox this morning :-) - Enzo watching cartoons and eating cereal. Hubby home and working on his laptop - Milo still asleep.

I drove Olivia to the bus stop this morning again - this time had hot lunch packed for her - still fretting that her skirt is too short (recently hemmed to OC standards) - happy to see she and her friends, Molly and Olivia B - some of the boys from Central Catholic - all standing and chatting - in ties, vests, khakis, plaid skirts.... One mother kept turning in her car to mouth "OMG" at me with wide, smiling eyes. They look so grown up - hard to believe.

So... we're happy with Olivia's report of her first day. She met a girl from Nigeria who was very shy - another exchange student from Korea in her homeroom. The school had assigned seats at lunch so that girls could get to know one another. Most of the day was really just what they said it would be - an orientation. Hubby and I both went to public high schools - albeit supposedly the best in our respective areas, but....did not get any special treatment. Both of us new our first day, we had to fend for ourselves. We were kind of amazed to see that she came home with handbooks for us to read and sign - welcome pamphlets from the youth group and student council and other items. It was interesting to hear, as I drove them all to field hockey (after having a favorite pasta meal and baked cookies ready for her end of first day :-), all their impressions of friends, new acquaintances and teachers.

And so the day starts - dappled morning light - cool air - hot chocolate on the stove - quiet sounds of cartoons in the background (totally reminiscent of my childhood). I'm watching dog walkers and runners out my window - checking email (disappointed to see that one of my brothers is not interested in the night out to Michael Symon's restaurant, Lola, in Cleveland with the rest of us, but.... will keep trying to reach him as my Dad would have wanted - besides, you never know what is going on in others' lives to make them stand-offish, right?) - getting some notes out to people for an end of summer catch-up of sorts (cards to cousins starting school - notes from Olivia to her school buddy, a second grader who has just lost her father - so... an aside - but thoughts and prayers there if you can spare as this little one and her siblings make their new school year transition this year).

Photos: The marks on the wall where Olivia used to measure Enzo and Milo on our third floor. Seriously - look at how they've grown!

26 August 2010

Um .... yeah - this is how my day REALLY went....

Got up 6 am - made lunch (out of carrots - out of white bread - uh ohs for Olivia), took requisite first day of school photos (love those) - drove to bus stop (yes, drove) - waved good-bye - truly wishing I had a photo of Olivia and Olivia B together on that fated first day of high school.

Back to house - hubby off to work - got my self ready - others kids up and dressed. Notice that 3 of 4 fish are now dead - two tomato plants as well, and.... early morning makes the place look really dusty.

Gather sippy cups of milk, extra pull-ups, etc. for day of errands. Ask what they all want for breakfast - then... notice that the cookies I baked for Olivia's lunch are all gone. Guess they handled breakfast on their own.

Get in car .... have to change Lil's poopy pants - during ride to Children's (where Milo will get his blood test - so .... you can bet I'm nervous about that endeavor), Enzo and Milo get out of seats - think it is funny - careen about in the way back until I stop and relock them in - firmly.

Get to Children's - kids happy - beeline for fish tanks and train area, apparently not worried about pending blood test. I check us in - then... notice that Milo has a new bag of M & Ms. Hmmm........ I am so shocked that he has them (still don't know where he got them), I don't even notice when he dumps them out all over the table in the waiting area. I DO notice when he tries to steal another child's oxygen tank. Luckily, she thinks it's funny and gives him an eye roll like only an older child can - then gives me the sympathy smile ;-). Enzo is having tantrum next to me because we are not waiting near the "frog computers" (and a middle schooler has taken over the one in our area).

Blood test goes well. Milo sniffs a little (some big warm tears hit my arm, but... all OK) -but holds still and allows it - poor kid, must be so used to them by now. Enzo interested but says watching makes him feel "itchy" (better than "faint-y", I suppose). All kids are treated to lollipops and Beanie Baby animals. So enamored of these gifts, Lilliana forgets her beloved Minnie and Mickey Mouse "little people" somewhere, so.... after one trip down the elevator and back up again.... Enzo finds them in the waiting area, untouched (thankfully, she has played with them for days and held them close all morning). Fab people at Children's :-).

Kids beg me to stay and have popcorn, pizza and Cokes in the cafeteria (that's right - they like to eat there - AND I did promise Milo Coke if he was good for the test). We go. I buy pizza (and taste it - pretty good), but now.... no one is hungry - they only want Coke. Inappropriate lunch talk about pee and poop gets a dirty look from one passerby - though another tells me I have a beautiful family. I try to text Marcello that all is well. No service. Must be hospital. Try again once I have wrangled running kids through the parking garage. Nothing. Brilliant, disorganized me has forgotten to pay the bill. I pay. Call to get fees removed. Apologize (a lot on my mind - don't have the heart to tell them that next month the same will be true ;-). Text. All OK.

We go to bakery to pick up birthday cupcakes for our Olivia B - basically, our fifth child - AND some for the family who just had the baby. I also want to get diapers and some essentials for the baby house (would be what I would want if in that position again :-). Get the diapers and a card. Kids want toys in the CVS. I say NO!!! I get three full on tantrums. I scold - I pay - we check to make sure that we have little mouse toys - and we leave.....

Head to bakery. Know the owner so chat a bit. Cupcakes beautiful. Milo and Lil want one of their own - so pick out one red velvet that I am looking to share - and another with lovely pink icing. Milo hangs from counter, presses face on glass, does a somersault - then.... asks to carry the little box. Enzo is acting like he's sleeping in a corner chair - Lil is on the floor doing like a snow angel or something. While I hold big boxes and navigate traffic with wee ones, Milo, apparently, tosses the little box, flips it, squeezes it. We get to van - anxiously open it for our treats and they are a smashed, crumbled nasty mess. Lil cries. Wants her cupcake. Wants her mouse toys. They are gone, and I am NOT going back to look. Milo tells me his Coke cup has inexplicably gotten a hole in it, spewing water, Coke and ice all over the back seat. Great.

Head to store. Milo wants new flashlight (I bought all three flashlights for their bedside tables the other day when I got Olivia's calculator - Milo broke his within 5 min). We stop to get new flashlight - are reprimanded for using wrong check-out lane - head to grocery.

Once there, they all want to ride in cart. Milo is fascinated with his flashlight - as a result, he slams face-first into the cart, leaving a big purple mark above his eye. They all run like crazy kids - I get many dirty looks - one mean comment. On the way out, all three kids stop by the gumball machine. I am securing wallet, coupons, etc. so look up to find them actually feeding machine quarters from Lil's pocket (so that's where that leftover lemonade stand money went).

Still food and coffee-free, I am feeling the beginnings of a headache - kids don't want to get out of car - no parking near Starbucks, so... I do the McD's drive thru - only to get the nastiness, most watery, foamy, gross, iced latte I have ever had (and I tasted one from there once that wasn't bad, so... off day?). Sipping it actually makes me queasy - can't return it - we are on our way home - kids start asking for drive-thru chicken at a fever pitch that prompts another grumpy "NO!!!" from me. Notice on clock that we need to hurry, hurry OR will actually miss Olivia getting home (have we been gone FIVE hours already?!?!).

Home to the pile of laundry I left late last night after long field hockey scrimmage and slapped together dinner - still on the stairs - next to the back to school clothes, etc. that need to be.... um.... taken out of their bags ..... and one floor up from the chaos that is the kitchen.

Time to unload groceries... clean the van AGAIN (which includes finding the shoes that Enzo and Milo say accidentally got put in the trunk) .... figure out field hockey carpool..... help Lil diaper Bitty Baby ... fight the Wii and / or wipe "clubhouse dirt" off kitchen floor (and as I banged this out on the computer, Olivia did come home - I DID get that photo of the two Olivias together, and... they headed up the street - cupcakes, gifts and all - brief description of day sounded good :-)....ALL good ;-).

First day of high school!

6 am came early today. It actually does feel like summer should be over - to me, anyway. We swam, we stayed up late, we barbequed on the deck. It seems ages ago that we were doing swim team and the long days at the pool with packed lunches and gear to last us hours.

Today's transition, thus far, seems easy. Olivia had her first Oakland Catholic field hockey game last night (a scrimmage against Winchester Thurston), and she did fantastic. Also, it has been fun and interesting meeting new parents - seeing familiar faces that we haven't seen since the daycare / preschool days - learning the ropes somewhere new. It brings back all the old excitement - the old days of firsts - first preschool - first day of kindergarten, etc. We were in a comfortable pattern for a while, and now, we are revisiting our "adventure years" - back when Olivia was the first and only and... everything was new and exciting. Well.... here we go again. I quite like it.

So... easy transition year for me :-). Lil still home BUT now old enough for dance class and other fun activities - Milo still in preschool but going three days a week instead of just two - Enzo doing kindergarten again. Easy. Happy. No tears here.

So.... off I go - to pack a lunch - make breakfast. Today will be a good day. I wish Olivia friends and fun and new opportunities. Of course, I will report back later ;-).

25 August 2010

Boots, boots and more boots....


I mean... show me a link that says "utilitarian boots for all", and I am THERE (please note harsh motorcycle boots in pristine family photo - shown here). Big, buckle-y, thick, lace up, dramatic BOOTS!!! Gotta love 'em....

Now.... for today's pat on the back (and you know me - I am not at all close to being sweet and sunshine-y.... so there will be a public self-flogging as well) .....

Five reasons I am awesome (and this encompasses some of you as well):

1. With all the muddy clothes changes the boys go through (the clubhouse is great but sits in an area that is pure loose dirt and mulch) - paint, peanut butter and Plah-doh on toddler shirts emergencies - athletic shin guards, field hockey shirts and shorts that get sweaty daily - all of hubby's work shirts and pants - my own workout clothes, work in the dirt clothes and splatter myself with dinner in the works clothes - all the accidents in underwear, spilled milk on sheets, dumped buttered popcorn on blankets, etc., I do at least two loads of laundry a day - and I do it efficiently - and that means folding, putting away, pressing if necessary.

2. I make dinner almost every night (and on those nights that I don't, I do provide pizza, sandwiches, soup or another option for hungry family members - six total). I make nutritious, filling, wholesome food - veggies, lean protein, yummy sides - even dessert. I do all the hand-washing (pots, etc. - while hubby works - Olivia does her honors reading or attends sports practice - if they're not here, you can't ask for or force help), and I load and unload the dishwasher (with the summer breakfast, lunch and snack dishes, this can often be twice a day).

3. I occupy my kids 80% of the time with outside play, the pool (and guilt here because I have been promising poor Milo a pool outing, but... grew tired of it / freaked out by it weeks ago when he started with the diving board - a middle schooler who ignores me - a preschooler going off the board - a kindergartner attempting to swim in the middle of the pool and a feisty two year old in the baby pool leaves me spread way too thin by myself - now that I feel that I should attempt it - the cloudy, rainy weather is not cooperating), art projects, movies, baking projects, dollhouse play, the water table, riding toys, etc. The rest of the time, I have to allow Wii (at which time, they jump in one place so much in the TV room, they are wearing out the carpet - unbelievably so) or endless lone Barbie play on the deck (feeling bad about endless "Mommy - will you play with me?" requests) while I TRY to get stuff done.

4. I get all school forms and fees in on time - I get all uniforms together - all carpools settled - and more - DESPITE constant complaints from a snarky middle schooler - make that high schooler - that I am behind (What about my Spanish class? Did you buy my book? So and so says that we need to do blah blah blah, and YOU didn't - I did not get her shin guards clean - one of the glasses from the dishwasher is still dirty - she doesn't like what I've cooked for dinner again - NOT good for the old self-esteem :-).

5. I manage to pull myself together somewhat. And... at one time, I did not. I went out in the sweat pants I slept in - I never got my hair cut - I didn't even have time to buy over the counter acne medication for my horrific post-pregnancy breakouts. I was fat - I had dark circles under my eyes, and... as a result, I was afraid to attempt new friendships or engage in activities I once liked. All that is a'changin' ;-)!

And... the flogging? Well.... let's just say that today - amid errands to pick up photos for Olivia - amid constant calls from home and requests for a Chick Fil-A lunch - amid well-intentioned shopping trips for cards to send to our snarky sibs and kids for back to school - WITHOUT coffee or food in my system - coming off a sleepless night because my preschooler and my toddler were up and down into the wee hours - attempting to call in an order for cupcakes to give to a friend for a b-day and another for a new baby, I lost my bank card - frantically called to cancel it - then.... found it on the floor of the van (after learning that PNC Bank now charges $7.50 for each new card - screw them).

Yesterday, I bought the boys new Crocs - only to find that one pair was two different sizes - so, since they were already excited about them and wanted to wear them, I had to run out for the exchange... only Lil wouldn't leave my side, so.... I took her - while there, Olivia's straightening iron died so I was summoned to get a new one (forgetting, in the chaos, my own blow dryer, which died a while ago - so much for styling my new haircut) - AND... I still had to grab items for dinner - still had to run to the post office - still had to wash the inside of the van.....

NO WONDER I keep forgetting things. The flogging part? I need to either slow down OR get it together!!! I am, once again, fried. Kudos to those of you who are able to multitask and / or delegate and / or gain support from others and / or blow it all off :-). Also - I need to stop swearing under my breath - stop yelling - wait - make that screaming - I need to stick to my plans to force the kids to play outside - to make them sit at lunch and respect one another's space instead of retreating to my own room to count to 10 again and again before I either start to cry or threaten heinous punishments. In my defense, I write this on the heels of being hit with a Wii remote when I did turn it off (my wrist still stings and that child is still in timeout) - one kid has been crying ALL morning for no reason - every little thing sets him off and the tattling and loss of temper is REALLY starting to get to me - my high schooler (as of tomorrow) is no help, feeling the need to prepare her books and finish her honors reading - hubby has just informed me that he will be traveling next week for a couple of days - I have yet to take Milo for his follow up blood test - I have missed working out for days now - I may have to take all little ones to preschool open house this week - I still need to buy school shoes and gym shoes for kindergarten - my coffeemaker is still broken - we have some sort of woodland creature living in our basement...... Oi.

Bright side? Walked to a lemonade stand yesterday - kids used own change - got along - played with neighbors - I talked to people I hadn't seen in a while. Went to Paris 66 the other day for lunch with hubby - yummy (service somewhat better). Took the brood to Mineo's the other night after parent meeting for field hockey - marginally successful - also yummy.

I have no words - only .... find your own zen today :-). I need sleep..... Oh - and Top Chef :-).

24 August 2010

Weary ....

And ... I'm not sure why. BUT - everything - literally EVERYTHING makes me tired, sore or creates such a brain fry, I can't even think straight lately. Is it the constant - "Mommy - why can't we stay downstairs with you?" - "Can I have juice - no, vanilla milk - no, lemonade - no water - wait, what is there to drink?" - "Hey - where's my sandwich and pizza (yeah - Enzo the eater often has two lunches)?" "Can we knock on the neighbor's door?" "Can we get (insert name of toy) for Christmas?" - "Is tomorrow another no school day?" - Or - the latest - as of 5 min ago ..."Mommy, Orangey (pet goldfish - or as Lillliana says, "Rangey") is stuck in the filter; is he dead?" Probably, right? What do I say, though??? "Wait until Daddy gets home; he'll coax him out." Sigh.

MAYBE - just maybe - it is also the fact that I was just shown a blog that this professional writer uses as part of her bio, and... it is .... well.... insincere. I think I was really struck by that because she is... um .... for lack of a much better word - a "mom blogger" - like me, I suppose. I mean, if I were grading her for sincerity, I would all kinds of mark it up. She cites some good publications as clients or some of her regular byline haunts, but....hmmm.... I am so wondering about her motivation.... though I do know that she does have an assignment that seems pretty visible - at least this week (sneaky colleagues - thank you). And.... I'm amazed - just AMAZED that some of you guys - my friends and / or fellow bloggers do NOT have a bunch of professional bylines behind you because... you're all awesome - really - jealousy-inspiring writers - DUE TO the fact that we are honest and confessional and attempt to be supportive of one another, and... though some of us are interested in writing features .... as supermom or otherwise - you know, helpful, timely articles ..... it does not appear that we have as much logged in on our pro resume as this chick (some of you do - and congrats for that - you are my inspiration - seriously). Plus - she has what she calls a "crunchy / green" area that is the premise of her blog, and.... it is 6 months - yes - 6 MONTHS!!!! behind. I'm not interested in evaluating anybody - in fact, I love the fact that we can all love one another and appreciate one another - grammatical errors, differing opinions, cheesey family photos, stolen recipes and all. I just find it odd that her "community of moms" is being leveraged for her byline resume - her lengthy, 5 paragraph (yeah - I know..... I KNOW - I am far longer-winded ;-), highly structured, "I've written this for a magazine editor" posts are not sincere at all - seem more "I am a member of the mainstream media" than "I am your objective, direct, honest blogger." I would direct you there, and I'm SURE you would agree, but... that is not how I roll.... can't do that.... I'm not here to "out" anybody, but I am here to tell you guys... well... how I feel.... and I fully expect you to reprimand me OR offer an opinion or explanation OR just nod and write me something silly :-).

OK - so - you're right - that can't be it. An insincere, highly suspect mom blog can't be so detrimental to my health and well-being that it causes my old gymnastics tendonitis injury to act up - or my lower back pain to persist - or my lack of caffeine headache to get worse..... ALL THAT is me worrying about school starting - about missing my kids - about not doing enough this summer - about my future as a writer, entrepreneur, wife and mother, sister.... whatever. I have high expectations for myself. I want a family that comes home to my warm, loving house on holidays and eats turkey and sits around the fire and goes skiing together - I want a business that will give me a creative outlet but allow me to be the best mom I can be to my kids - I want my sloppy joes and chicken soup and brownies to be appreciated now while I am focusing on the home and my family - I don't want my head to be turned by people who are shamelessly promoting themselves under false pretenses. I, like you, want to be happy.

So .... maybe all this input sometimes overwhelms me - makes me think I'm on the wrong track - trusting the wrong people - ignoring my intuitions...... BUT I think I'm OK - I think I'm right where I need to be. I am not all sunshine and roses, but I am all kinds of happy about my current role - my decisions to date..... ALL good. I just need to chat now and then, ya know? You guys ever feel the same way?

Breezy, sunny day ....

Enjoy it!

Photos: All the result of some beach reminiscing (and - yeah - that's me in the handstand - last year ...).... Olivia had these photos open in iPhoto yesterday - couldn't resist a look...

23 August 2010

Still some summer left!

Yesterday, I ventured out with Olivia to get new running shoes for her, food for dinner, etc. - basically, we just ran some errands. I have to say - I have NEVER seen the stores so crowded - filled with college students shopping for dorms and apartments - parents helping gather items for the semester - high schoolers and grade schoolers alike snatching up uniform khakis, buying folders, trying on shoes, etc. It was nuts - but, admittedly, a little fun since we did see some people we know - quite a few actually. Olivia chose to sit in the car while I "ran" into the grocery store (I have no words to describe the lines). At one point, I found myself conferring with two women I know in produce, at which time, we all discovered that our respective family members were sitting in cars waiting for us :-). In fact, my Olivia was sitting behind one of her BFFs, Olivia Z, the whole time and... didn't know it (despite the fact that they were texting away ;-).

Speaking of the Olivias..... once home, we hosted all three for dinner before they happily headed up to an "end of summer party" up the street given by a boy we all know. And... speaking of dinner, hubby did a marinated pork roast that was quite tasty - lemon, olive oil, oregano and garlic - only marinated for an hour - grilled it - very nice. Anyway, it was funny listening to them as they dipped shrimp and drank lemonade and Coca Cola, chatting up a storm before heading out.

So .... yeah..... summer seems to be coming to a close. We have a play date coming over today. One of the people I ran into yesterday was Enzo's kindergarten teacher who said she would be putting the kids repeating this year together (three total for sure). This boy coming over is one of them - fast friends, truly - I couldn't be happier that he will be with Enzo again (both of them very young last year). Shopping for new Crocs later (Milo actually tore the toes out of his - !!!) - AND Olivia's high tech "graphing calculator". Had to wake Olivia B, who slept over AGAIN :-), for high school tennis practice this am. And so it begins.....

Photos: More summer "stuff" :-).

Oh - and my reason of the day to join zulily :-)??? Pluie Pluie rain gear for kids on sale - cute boots, etc. See.... it's that time of year (speaking of school clothes....;-).

OC field hockey parents (you know who you are :-), remember the parent meeting today at 6:05 pm (????) - Winchester Thurston. AND - all OC parents, we can pick up schedules today (fingers crossed for Spanish class for Olivia - we hear it fills up...).

I know I'm not a retiree, but... saw this, naming Pittsburgh as consistently ranked a top "quality of life" city to live in :-).

And.... in low-end Pittsburgh news, here is an example of someone who just doesn't get the whole "civil disobedience" thing (a G20 protestor - if you can't do it right - don't do it - vandalism on hard-working businesses is NOT cool).

Also, take a quick look at Burgh Baby (see my blog list) for the world's best popcorn idea (truly - AND a really helpful fact that I had NOT heard of - can't believe I didn't! You'll see....).

And... finally.... latest toy and other product recalls courtesy of Parents Mag (mostly applies to wee ones like my Lil, but... worth a look for all).

Happy day, all.

22 August 2010

Block Party

Reminisced about Olivia, a few short years ago, riding scooters with friends - decorating bikes - getting excited about the dog parade - eating chicken wings, meatballs and brownies off of folding tables while the adults chatted, had drinks, played guitar (one year, Olivia and hubby were featured in the paper for urban block parties :-). This year, watched the boys ride tricycles and big wheels down the street, lead friends to the club house, eat rice krispie treats and play tag in the street. Lilliana ate her weight in watermelon, played hopscotch with the big girls and giggled at all the dogs in costumes. This year, too - no bike parade - no trinket gifts for the kids - Olivia and hubby off doing their own thing while I hung with the little ones, but... I met some new people, took some cute photos, ate some finger food, drank soda and beer and enjoyed my own unique "walk down the middle of the street / feel the light rain on my face / sit on folding chairs and watch the kids race" kinda night.... ;-).

Watch Aarti Paarti on Food Network today - noonish (so get movin'!).... Cute party girl who cooks up Indian comfort food - winner of this season's Next Food Network Star....

21 August 2010

Random summer photo montage...

Enjoy your day! Still time to swim, eat popsicles, catch lightening bugs, stay up late, wear flip flops, bbq on the deck, lay in the sun....

Me? I will be getting my hair cut, dyed, highlighted - i.e. I will be relaxing and pampering (for the morning anyway) - thanks hubby!

20 August 2010

Purpose? And tattoos?

As you all know, this has been a BIG question with me lately. Big one. Like ... all-consuming big one. I sit in my house this am - in my funky flannels and my tacky purple skull and crossbones shirt - poking at my cherry clafoutis, which didn't set properly but tastes OK (see recipe - earlier post)and does so because hubby brought me the world's tastiest cherries from Whole Foods the other night (attempting to encourage something that interests me, I think :-) - gazing sadly at my dead coffeemaker and sulkily drinking my sub-par English breakfast tea (I'm low on tea bags too - and made this batch too weak - ugh - my sweet Dad bought me that coffeemaker complete with cappuccino capabilities back when my recently departed ex had taken the one my friends had given me, and my Dad noticed that it made me sad :-) - sniff - those days are gone) - and.... I'm trying to figure out JUST what it is that I do well.

This morning, as hubby was off to work and I was.... well... still gazing about the kitchen, he attempted to cheer me up, saying, "You take care of this house of 6 so well - I mean... um... look... everything in its place... clean... kids happy." And... I can't help but let my mind wander to the fact that.... well - they won't be happy for long; they'll fight (and props to Olivia for helping a great deal yesterday with the chaos as well as breaking up a particularly nasty and fierce knockdown / drag-out on the landing this am as I attempted a shower with no luck). And... this laundry, dusting, vacuuming thing? Boring. And guess what's for dinner AGAIN tonight? Chicken and mashed potatoes and glazed carrots and... what's that? You're losing interest? Drifting a bit? Yeah.... me too.

So ... good news for hubby - a web site that he worked on was randomly chosen by Crain's Business as one of their top 10 for 2010. He is being interviewed on Tuesday along with his content person and account manager (and, btw, I "Freudingly" typed "we worked on..." instead of "he worked on..." earlier before correcting - See, I often feel these PR chicks are doing my job - we did, after all, work together for years.... YEARS!). He also has little kid soccer draft this evening - beers after with his coaching friends.... Olivia has a birthday dinner with a friend (not to mention a pool party hosted by one of her camp friends at her house in Sewickley tomorrow night - a community I highly covet - wish I would have known Pittsburgh better when I first moved here). I am doing nothing - literally nothing. I had a few tentative plans fall through for the weekend - plus have not scheduled a hair appointment yet and now hubby wants to take the boys fishing tomorrow. All good. I'll find something.

I'm feeling restless, I think. My arms are sore from a really good workout yesterday (yeah - I kicked my own ass - thinking about doing it again today - one positive that occurs when I get bored is my urge to exercise more... so... gotta work that, I think ;-), and.... I have to say... last evening .... as I mixed and baked and Lil sat on the floor and cut (and ate) little orange cherry tomatoes with her plastic IKEA knife and we unpacked our CSA basket and I could hear my boys and the neighbors playing in the "clubhouse" through the screen door - that whole laughter on the air bit - being called into dinner - just great retro "play in the neighborhood" stuff (hi, free rangers :-), life was GOOD - like goooooood.

Now, I can't say that I didn't have a restless moment yesterday. In fact, I had a big one. On our way to the "concussion test" at Oakland Catholic (and, no, they don't smack them in the head and then ask a series of questions - we know they don't - we asked ;-) with my Olivia and her two friends, Molly and Caroline, in the car.... ANOTHER friend texted a photo of her cartilege piercing from a tattoo parlor on the Southside (hi, Olivia B). Now... I have to digress a bit.... A few weeks before, when this friend expressed her desire to have this piercing, my Olivia showed her my ear - two holes through the cartilege - way up high, and.... I HAD to tell her the equivalent of our parents "walked 10 miles in the snow to school" story - my piercing story. How I got it done like at the mall - and it was awful and didn't work - and I had pain and yukiness - and then..... my friend got another tattoo and I went along and this super cool piercing artist said to me, "I can fix that", and he did - with a big long hollow needle - left it in - told me to keep a certain kind of jewelry in it, etc. Another digression..... I DID develop a little crush on him (remember that, mina? ;-), BUT he did fix it. I let it close when EVERYONE started to pierce EVERYTHING. Now, however, I often gaze longingly at tattoos. Cool ones - like the bright, pastel-y, flowery sleeves that look so great on some people (I'm looking at you, Jamie, on last season's Top Chef). Immediately, I engaged poor Molly in a conversation about tattoos (hey - she was willing :-) - and Kat Von D and LA Ink (oh Kat, do you remember the days after Lil was born in the hospital and I watched you on TLC all night? - limited viewing there - but I got sucked in - like a soap opera). Anyway, I did get this urge to floor it - and speed my minivan to the Southside to check out the piercing and to peruse tattoos. I didn't. I went straight to the "concussion test" :-).

So .... what's up with y'all today? I found this cereal - Cascadian Farm (Kids), organic, Fruitful O's - as we shopped organics in the Market District at Giant Eagle yesterday ... whole grain, sweetened with fruit juice AND iron-fortified. Good news as Milo needs a follow up blood test for his iron saturation problem in the next few days, and HE was the one who picked it out - go figure. Also - I made my flu shot appointments (poor Milo needs the shot as he was admitted to the hospital for Croup last year - the others, including my two year old, can do the mist). They are NOT doing separate flu and H1N1 this year, so that's good. Also, I go to a busy practice, and they are scheduling two dates in Sept. They left their message for me the other day, but... the appointments aren't even close to filling up yet - also good news. So - if you are flu shot people, gotta think about getting that scheduled already.

Photos: Yep - more that my kids took of me...;-).

Gotta go - planning to throw the Wii into the backyard for good today :-), but... legos are grabbing some interest now, and... Lil is full of "secrets" today, whispered in my ear (and totally enamored of her fancy new hair clips - we should all take a lesson on the bright side from Lil :-), so.... something good is a brewin'..... and I will meditate on that as I head off to re-wash the kitchen floor, bleach a load of whites and Olivia's grease-stained shorts, fill out some more school paperwork and clean out the produce drawers in the fridge. Good times.

19 August 2010

Day 1 trying to grab this elusive confidence thing...

... and I'm really not going to pontificate for long today. Really. I have far too much to say - far too much going on in my head - and, of course, far too much going on already in the house this morning.

Suffice to say that I am struggling with the insomnia again. I have been working on it. One long ago friend did give me a great "cure" recently in that it also provided me my much-needed pre-sleep downtime and forced me to implement some me time and some nightly disciplines (well - if tea and wine are disciplines ;-). He had suggested working out in the evening to clear my head - and... while I kept to an earlier day workout (just kids' schedules right now), I did do the no food after a certain hour, chamomile tea (though substituted hot chocolate one night when my daughter wanted some -and - fyi - despite the extra fat to digest and the bits of sugar and caffeine - it worked too - must be the warm milk thing), red wine (had a few bottles started at recent dinners or whatever and were sitting around and made it through them - little sips at a time - in fact, need more (and can say that this component also seemed to alleviate my back pain a bit as did the workout). Anyway.... it was working - IS working, really.... I watched my Top Chef last night (and, btw, Angelo is lucky that Alex is so incompentent or he may have been gone for his store-bought puff pastry choice) - did part of the "routine" and feel asleep, but... when something wakes me at 4 am or so, I'm up.

Anyway - on LinkedIn, my hubby enjoys great success, but I have actually had people view my profile and turn me away. Less than half of the "people I might know" have responded to me. Failure. I suspected as much. Also, revamping my resume for feedback has brought feedback that is just beyond me right now - more bullet points under positions that I would rather forget - drop things that I feel might lead me into my dream jobs of fashion or the arts (don't pay, right? :-( and, therefore, I want to keep! Ugh.... worries for another day. Can say this, though - looks like my position as CEO of the Home is impressing NO ONE right now.

Yesterday, I took Olivia's uniform skirts to be hemmed - after pinning and measuring part of the morning away. I shopped b-day presents for some of her friends - one on her way to Shadyside Academy while Olivia goes to Oakland Catholic (they are writing one another long sentimental letters and, I'm sure, will still stay close) - we also shopped bras and underwear at Target (where I found Enzo and Milo trying on bras and saying they had "lady boobs" - I have no words....), food for dinner (does hummus count?).... did lunch in the mall food court while picking up photos - just a day of errands, which I suspect I will continue today. On the weight loss front... I did NOT make it to the gym :-(, but... I did miss dinner (just got too late... field hockey carpool complete with uniform deposits and other forms to turn in - rearranging Lil's room to create new play areas while I go through my own paperwork, photos, etc. .... think I forgot until I woke with grumbly stomach - ever do that?).

So ... long story short, I wish I could find a way to boost my confidence - with job search, etc. Just not in the cards right now. I'm kinda in a holding pattern, and... that's fine. Anyone else feeling this way?

Photo: The stairs to the "clubhouse". Think we'll go there today too :-).

Oh - and I think my Krups coffeemaker / cappuccino maker died today - after MANY years together. Anyone have a suggestion for a replacement or should I just go with the tried and true?

One last thing.... Do you watch Project Runway? OK - I do sometimes. Anyway, here's a story on judge, Nina Garcia, who is beautiful, stylish, successful (editor in chief of Marie Claire, right?), and... 45 years old..... and pregnant with her second child. So there, those who think 40 is the end of beauty and life choices and style.... blah blah blah...

18 August 2010

No more excuses.

I have this tendency to evaluate my appearance, my body, my style, etc. very harshly. I intensely dislike photos of myself and I am constantly striving to take at least one "pretty" one so my kids will remember me when I was young as fun and attractive (and this is anywhere - if I'm baking cookies and notice my hair looks good, I may prompt hubby to snap one - or if we're out and I feel like I actually like what I have on, I may ask for another quick candid - usually one of my eyes looks bigger than the other - you can see my gray streaked ugly ash brown roots or I have yet another breakout - Ooooo - worse, I look fat .... AGAIN). Vain? No. Silly? Probably. Deluded? Yes.

And... by deluded - I mean on both ends. There are days that I think I look fabulous and... in hindsight - I wonder how I did not manage to embarass Olivia - repulse hubby and / or make my little ones laugh at me. Other times, I look at a photo from just a few years ago when I was lamenting a bad haircut, feeling chubby and hating my outfit, AND... oddly.... now I think I look great - and so does hubby - and Olivia - and my Mom (now that's sayin' something).

I've been many things - lipsticked, dressed up dancer in my high-heeled Frye boots by day - my appropriately ripped up sweats and leg warmers by night - ballet bun and / or long, loose curls - nails were always done - eye shadow always 80s funky - and the jewelry - oh the rings and ear piercings... 7 total. I then went punk - hair long in the front, shaved in the back a la skate punk style (and skating those empty swimming pools and long, flat city steps WAS fun, wasn't it? As were the hardcore shows - alternative dance nights with my "Waver" friends....) - army jackets - pegged jeans - converse sneaks - black everything - shirts, skinny skirts, baggy sweats - Oh - and combat boots and Doc Martens (I still take my old buckled Docs out now and then and caress and care for them :-). I even entered a crunchy, hippy, granola stage - living at the oceanfront, I was all long, straight, sunstreaked hair - no makeup - sunglasses - flip flops - bells and braided bracelets on my ankles - back pack - hiking shorts (and, yes, I hiked and ran during this time - a 5K - an 8K - one scary Maine rock climbing trip - another scary white water adventure in WVA) - a little fairy wish bell around my neck - crystals.... In fact, I sometimes freak a little - thinking people still see me as the bohemian, gypsy type, and... I want a little more from my style than that. By contrast, those who knew me as the professional, remember a designer obsessed chick with short, choppy hair - chunky silver jewelry - lots of boots and heels - ALWAYS solid colors (no prints here), and... that's not really me either (I blame the ad, pr and marketing industry).

Now? I don't know. I suspect I may be all of those things. I wear old punk rock t-shirts to work out at the gym. For simplicity, I usually just grow my hair long - but end up hacking at my bangs or my layers myself - having expensive colorists add color that I end up hating. I do wear flip flops, long skirts and tie dyes in the summer - usually no make up - AND in the winter, I'm all scrunchy UGGS, clingy skirts or yoga pants, puffy jackets and funky scarves with bright lipstick and sunglasses. I am, admittedly, a little boring. Every now and then, I buy a cool pair of earrings that my long, stringy hair hides or I buy a new pair of shoes that I end up never wearing. I usually blame time - even lack of interest (house and kids making me crazy), but... I'm finding that I have no excuses.

I hang with some people at the pool who do their workout and show up, kids in tow, hair pushed back - requisite yoga pants or Athleta workout skirts over their faded bathing suits and they work it and they look good. I went to drop my Olivia at a friend's house to babysit the other night, and "the dad" showed up at the front door looking nothing like a dad but more like a teenager with his baseball hat on backwards - long baggy b-ball shorts on - bare feet. Could I pull that off? No. Can all these cute boys - my hubby included - who wear it all with confidence and bravado pull it off? Yes. My neighbor just shaved her head and it looks fabulous, so... there goes my "I can't have style because nothing is low maintenance" excuse (and, yes, M, I am shaking my fist at you right now - I know you're out picking peaches, but I'm shaking it - you just can't see me ;-). Another friend just dropped over 20 pounds in LESS THAN a summer, so.... again.... what's my excuse? I eat what the kids do.... blah blah blah - she has a kindergartner too!

I'm beginning to wonder if maybe confidence is what it takes to pull anything off AND that's precisely what I need to work on. Plus - I do need to get my hair cut every now and then - buy myself a lipstick or a shirt. I'm into this self-deprivation thing right now, and it is just NOT working for me.

Photos: Easter. A perfect example of what I mean. We took tons of photos. In each one, I look horrible for varying reasons. With Olivia - eyes closed (though, I am in heels - she in flats - so I look tall - I can't stand it when I look like a troll with all these middle school girls towering over me). With Lil - fat. Close up with Lil - fat - and what is UP with my hair?! Group photo... um.... look OK but why is everyone fighting and running from us? I included a "booty shot" - yes, my butt - in the mirror - a "before" photo for my workout progress. Need I say more? I often like the self-portraits that my kids take. I have a "witch" nose and chin, but... these photos look like ME - they capture my essence, I think - good or bad. And, yes - I included one of my famous self-portraits - ugly but I dig it (see my evaluation techniques are rather odd :-). And... finally... the family photo shoot - have said it before, will say it again - I look baaaad - everyone else looks fantastic. I think I tried to hide blemishes with too much make-up - had let someone put a "warm" red tone on my hair, and... well... yuck. Hubby looks cute, though.

OK - so here ya go.... A story here on salmonella and eggs. Just beware - does not seem to affect our region. And... here - what I'm been obsessing on lately.... how NOT to lose your temper (i.e. yell) when kids are acting up (perfect timing on this article - must be some summer angst a brewin' all over - and, on my end, I've already told them all to "shut up" this morning - and, at one time, my Olivia thought that was a swear word to give you ANY idea of how far my parenting skills have deteriorated with the addition of each wild child - and, today, hands shaking, stomach aching, I am LOSIN' IT). And... finally ... same mag - a story on "is your child a public menace?" Hmmm.... wonder who that applies to?

Top Chef tonight.... don't miss it!

17 August 2010

"Bucking up" a bit ...

So - yesterday was completely uneventful. I made it to the gym - kids in tow - now, everyone there knows them, which is nice. I did make Milo some manicotti with spinach AND some meatballs (after my iron-boosting conversation with the doctor yesterday morning) for dinner - he ate only plain pasta with a little cheese on it (everyone else ate what I made - a good thing). Baby steps - baby steps... We did field hockey carpool - baked a little - made popcorn and watched a movie - played in the "clubhouse". I abandoned a project to refinish a little apothecary cabinet that we found over the weekend - it is in bad shape - not worth a refinish. We did stay focused and on task, though - not as much milling (which leads to fighting, which leads to yelling). Olivia folded a bit of her laundry - cleaned her room a little (a good thing - because friends expecting a baby called us late night to have their daughter, Caroline - Olivia's friend, sleep over while they rushed off to the hospital - hoping, this time, it wasn't a false alarm - I will report back as soon as I hear this am :-) - though.... we did have three - yes, the ever-present Olivia B was here too - girls up until 2 am or so, giggling, etc.).

So - thanks, all, for the advice you have provided over the past week or so, regarding kids and "chores". I did enlist some help from my boys yesterday to dust, pick up toys, wipe up in the kitchen, etc. They actually seem to enjoy it. Also - and I don't know if I'm alone in this (but I'm asking advice again :-), but I have been taking out the old kindergarten and Pre-K workbooks for them - having them do a few exercises - or sometimes, I just put out some paper and pens and have Enzo practice his name and some numbers - other words (he needs to practice his writing - had trouble with a pencil grip last year) - I have Milo write too (he knows how to do his name and the focus for just a couple of minutes seems to help him calm down). They can also color or work on their own projects. In fact, I have these little work stations set up in the dining room (which, I think I've mentioned before, has become sort of an art room for us :-). Does anyone else do this? Provide the extra school practice OR get them to focus on some drawing or writing or something creative for a bit - take a break from the wild stuff? Might be overkill, but... they seem to like it.

Anyway... Photo: Still reminiscing - especially talking to the friends on their way to the hospital with the baby last night. Feels like yesterday that I had contractions with Lil for days - had to have my mom come into town - had to step up the painting process in her room (which I did alone, btw). I like how I can see my reflection in her little glasses :-) in this photo - can remember taking it :-). Again - probably not last summer but summer before that. I also remember when our friends gave us that onesie for her, saying it looked like us - a little preppy, a little punk. Ah... memories :-).

Oh... and... my Linked In success is still pretty pathetic as is my job hunt thus far.... We'll see......

16 August 2010

Some yin and yang for ya ...

I am on borrowed time right now - kids fighting like crazy people - and I've already been told by my Milo that I am "not the best Mommy" because I reprimanded him and sent he and Enzo upstairs for tormenting Lil. Olivia was on MY computer (hello - I don't have a laptop in my room) Facebooking all morning. All of them are full of demands for sugary, crappy breakfast food and, truthfully, right now - I just don't care. For some reason, too, they seem to think they need the big, heavy comforter to lay under all the time - despite the fact that our house still feels like it has too much humidity in it due to the high, sticky temps outside - and they leave that and chip crumbs and little tiny toys and crayons and books ALL OVER my downstairs. I had to take Milo to the doctor today for a follow up to his anemia (he is a bad eater and... they only detect it because he gets blood tests so often due to his Stage 2 Chronic Kidney Disease - far better than the Stage 4 or 5 that he was born with - wish it would entirely go improve, but.... anyway - good news - doctor not concerned, saying most kids are a little borderline at this age - bad news - another follow up blood test, which will not be pretty ... kicking, fighting, yelling). So ... Milo was my buddy all morning for his early, early appointment and while we went to the store. Now, like I said, he is angry - and... while I typed this, has already emerged from upstairs to demand yet another sugary drink and report that Enzo hit him. Now, I hear Enzo's "whiny, I've been wronged voice". Great.

Yesterday WAS a fun day - my kids and the neighbors -even little ones down the street - played forever on the swingset / treehouse (they call it their "clubhouse") most of the day. Hubby and I were excavating our storage unit under our garage. We had a bunch of old furniture and Mac boxes and other random yard "stuff" hauled away months ago, but... now we have the boxes that belong to his brother (from high school, it appears - took a serious trip down 1980's lane while organizing that mess) - dishes that his Mom says are not hers (but are) and have now been hosed off on our back lawn, making it look like an archaeological dig out there - old wood from various projects - other boxes from hubby's own office - more..... Truthfully, it was a little interesting to see all this stuff - old albums - espresso cups bought on a long ago trip to Spain - stationary with hubby's late father's signature on them - a stamp that bore his MD signature :-). We sort of mused about how it was nice that we had these little bits of our Dads' professional lives to share with our kids - Olivia has many of my Dad's old office pens (of course, my brother, the scavenger, has hidden or taken many of the expensive ones) and other desk "stuff" (where she used to sit and color while he did bills, etc.) - a photo of Enzo Ferrari hangs in my boys' room - a gift from the Ferrari people back when my Dad used to deal with them a lot - had hung in his office for a long time (he gave it to Enzo, loving that they had the same name - my Dad was a "sportscar guy"). Just kinda nice...

End of day, we went to a friend's birthday celebration - a lowkey trip to see some jazz in the park among friends. Our little ones met a new friend (actually, they knew eachother as babies, but...) and had a great time visiting a new playground, dancing to music and walking back to the house for some food with her. At the house, grown ups (including Olivia who had a kindred Calvary camper spirit among them) ate and chatted over decadent food and drinks, joking an laughing while the kids played tag, make believe, monkey in the middle and more. Our friends are avid art collectors and some beautiful and interesting pieces in their house - among them a large metal sculpture in the backyard - a big bird that lights up - and it, of course, fascinated the kids. It was really nice to see people we had not seen in a while - talk with friends we do see often - and meet new people (not to mention that our other dear friends - angry baker and brood - left us some REALLY good chocolate cake while we were gone - MUST HAVE RECIPE - Olivia ate half of it before we could even taste it :-). Trite but true - the friends part, that is ;-).

OK - so it has taken a loooong time to write this post today due to disturbance after disturbance after... you get the picture. We have been through several iterations of our morning - the furious and fast to the dr, to the store, unpack the car, wrangle wild ones constantly asking me for food and drink while I work phase - the lay around, fight, complain, break the Wii (hooray!), whine, mill about, get into trouble phase - now, the industrious play in the "clubhouse", put Barbies in the water table, drag riding toys to the front phase (and, for all my complaining, I DO love the faded, beaten up riding toys in the garage - I love the yard littered with lacross sticks, bats, balls and moldy "under the sea" toys for the water table - I love the tacky, bright pink Barbie debris all over the deck - the herbs going to flower - the grill that we use ALL THE TIME - the owl to scare the squirrels that Lil thinks is her friend - and, now, the view of the "clubhouse" from the deck where I watch them swing and do the crossbars and hide out in the top. ALL our chaos makes me happy. Speaking of... they have invaded yet again - demanding water, lolling all over each other (so someone will soon be hurt), so.... must go.

Photo: On the way home from the doctor early this am, I called to check on everyone before heading to the store.... and Lil wanted to talk to me - and... she sounded so grown-up to me... I just HAD to come home and find some sweet baby pics of her. This looks like about this time of year - two short years ago - wow. Little aside here: I love how she says "tiss" instead of "kiss" - so cute. See.... she's still a baby :-).

OK - fighting and crying has hit an all time high..... NOT even noon. What to do with the rest of the day .....

Quickly - congrats to Aarti as winner of Next Food Network Star and Holli as winner on Hell's Kitchen - they were my favorites :-) - though... nice job, Herb, on NFNS. And.... sorry to see Kenny go on Top Chef - though looking forward to this week.... despite the fact that this might be the most boring season yet.