30 September 2010

How do you feel about rainy days?

I like them. However, today is REALLY soggy - I am soaked from a morning of gymnastics and errands with my Milo. And I'm cold - like to the bone cold.

Have some vegetarian recipes here to warm us all up (Olivia always says I'm half "veg-head" - hubby says I am "barely a carnivore" - and... I take it all as compliments, having a long vegan past - now abandoned, of course - but will take veggie over meat anyday - still feel that animal rights activist fighting to get out - so does that make me a hypocrite or just sensitive? Hmmm.... food for thought ;-).

And... locals.... Spoon is now open in East Liberty (why do I think food when it is cold and rainy out?).

Photos: Me and Milo EXACTLY one week ago having coffee and treats at a sidewalk cafe while we drew pictures and filled out Enzo's birthday party invitations - breezy and warm. And.... Milo and Lil today at noon "morning out" pick up. Rainy, rainy, rainy (and cold).

Oh - and, hey - is anyone watching Top Chef Just Desserts? I am.

29 September 2010

Don't be fooled - I'm still "on a break".

Here's what I've got: The girls last night at Winchester Thurston's field after the JV field hockey game was cancelled because it got too dark (can't the alumni there afford to install some field lights?) - Lil, also last night, creating some sort of sidewalk art while Varsity played (and we waited - and waited - and waited for Olivia's team to take the field) - Enzo and his camping lantern, which he would sleep with if he could - Milo at lunch today in his preschool classroom - And... finally - my last conversation of substance: "Hey Milo - can we take some of these masterpieces down now?" No!" "Ok. Hey Lil - can you stop scribbling on the dining room wall?" "No!"

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to pick up my high schooler who has a student council meeting - and.... my kindergartner who requested "after school" again today (this while I was helping with fingerpainting in his room). Takes me a while to get all the wee ones in the car (Milo fresh from P4 lunch and Lil fresh from "morning out" AND hangin' with Mommy).

I'm actually going to squeeze a workout in between dinner and carpool tonight (cuz that's how I roll - somehow got a roast chicken, mashed potatoes and fresh corn off the cob with butter and pepper to my family before Oakland open house last week - patting self on back now) - It appears I've discovered leftovers in my current state of back to school frugality (not to mention that whole "the happy return of the pumpkin spice latte" thing Starbucks is pushing), and... I mean it's like - "Oh the kids didn't eat this pizza - better eat a slice" - "Oh - the casserole from last night is still in fridge, better have some of that" - "Hmmm... need to buy the kids' favorite salad dressing, ice cream, snack du jour"...... And... obviously, none of this is going to look good on my ass.

Happy, happy, all - As my aunt always says (my Dad's feisty younger sister), "This is the time of your life, Sherri." And it is.

28 September 2010

Blogging into the abyss...

I am a little over the "staying on top of it all" thing lately. On Saturday, I did ballet with a cranky, tired two year old ballerina - soccer photos with one boy happy to play, another reluctant and surly (ran from me AGAIN), and.... in my stressed out state (think we were all tired from school movie night and a web site that hubby worked on until 3 in the morning - literally from bed the night before), I drove to the wrong school for my high schooler's field hockey tournament, missing ALL the games. I had visions of going to lunch with her - spending a sunny morning watching her play while my two little ones (the happy soccer player still playing with Coach Daddy) ran about and had fun. Instead, I drove way out of my way - had to get my two fighting wee ones a fast food lunch and keep them appeased with crap like potato chips and ginger ale, and.... what's worse is... I didn't care... Let them eat crap!

As I was driving and trying to grab some semblance of calm by taking in the fact that the leaves are changing (yay, Mommy - the leaves have color! did cheer me from the back seat), I began thinking of ALL the things I do that create more chaos in life - or take more time from what I really need to be doing. Blogging is one of those things. While I like to write and connect, etc., I am not doing a great job at either, so.... may take a little break to rethink, redesign, regroup (and, yes, I know I've said this before). As always, feedback appreciated.

Anyway, enjoy the photo montage of chaos :-). And... check Halloween out here at Pottery Barn Kids - free shipping and an iPhone app that lets you put costumes on photos of your kids to see what they would look like. Also, Phipps Conservatory has an autumn flowers show among the gargoyles, which may be a bit festive (and NieNie on my blog list has some cool Halloween decorating ideas). Also, Amy at Callapitter has an update on Kate and Peter's treehouse, so... if you are available on 2 Oct, there is another meeting (see my blog list).

OK - so in the last 10 min, Milo peed on our new carpet (and last night, was upset to the point of tears that I would be doing bedtime as usual with he and Enzo and not Daddy - totally hurt my feelings - what a baby, huh? I was shocked - still am :-( and hubby just got a flat tire in front of the school (though Jettas have a full size spare in the trunk and he is a speedy "changer"), so...I'm off. All in a day, a week, a year, a life - right? :-) - Plus, to "restart" the morning, Milo and I are indulging in our new favorite drinking chocolate - Allegro Coffee Company Organic Peruvian 68 from Whole Foods (delicious - tastes of dark chocolate AND is free trade certified - though, for kiddies, probably needs to be sweetened a bit). AND.... hubby and I just cracked up about HOW the tire was popped (on one of those awful Pittsburgh metal curbs) and how it made a swooshing sound right away.... Oh - if I had time to tell it ;-).....

I do have time to end on a positive note and give you this quick chicken enchilada recipe - Preheat oven to 325 degrees - Mix 2 - 3 cups bite-sized chicken (sauted with olive oil and salt and pepper), 1/ 2 cup sour cream, 1/4 cup cream cheese, splash of milk, 1 cup chicken stock, salt, pepper, i cup chopped green chiles, cumin and chili powder (both to taste) in large bowl. Take baking dish - put down some green or red enchilada sauce - corn tortillas on top - chicken mixture, shredded cheese of your choice (I did lowfat for all the dairy and low sodium for anything store-bought like the enchilada sauce or the chicken stock) and more enchilada sauce - layer like that one more time - Bake for 45 min and serve with rice and salad. Yum - worth trying.

27 September 2010

He's six!

For some reason, the BIG talk in kindergarten -this year and last - was / is who is five and who is six. Well.... after what seems like years.... Enzo can finally say he's six. This sweet little, semi-sleepy face greeted me Sunday morning as he came through the front door, having slept all night in a tent with Daddy and Milo. "Guess what, Mommy? I'm six!" And... of course, I know that - am acutely aware of it .... remember his birth like it was yesterday - remember the days afterwards - my Mom talking to me again - my Dad thrilled with little Enzo - holding him, putting him on swings.... just loving him. And, of course, grade schooler, Olivia, so happy with her little brother, kissing him, holding him - Hubby shopping for all sorts of baby accessories, getting the house ready. Enzo changed our family dynamic - for the better and.... permanently. It is a different life we lead now - fuller and busier. He is such a happy, wholesome boy. The other night, I went upstairs to tuck the boys into bed, and Enzo had set he and Milo up with their cookies and milk on the bedside table and made sure they both had books to read. He had turned on the bedside light, turned down the covers and propped the pillows. Milo looked a little bewildered (why am I reading?), and Enzo was just beaming - so proud that he had created this cozy little scenario. That is just how he is.

Yesterday, we kept it lowkey - we baked his cake together in the morning - we opened gifts - we had a light lunch - he talked to grandma (two of his uncles left voice mails) - he had pizza with cousins later - bis sis, Olivia, made him a card - he played all afternoon and into the evening with neighbors next door and down the street.....

So glad you had a happy day yesterday, my sweet boy :-).

25 September 2010

On the eve of Enzo's 6th birthday ....

... here is my little man camping with Daddy and his little bro, Milo, as I blog this very minute .... and spend a girls night in with Lil (Olivia at a movie with friends). Beautiful, breezy night. I hope all my kiddos have fun tonight. Now ... off to bake a cake!

24 September 2010

Hey ....

... is it fall yet? Definitely doesn't feel like it - a bit hot. Shopped b-day gifts for Enzo's big day on Sunday (6 years old - CANNOT believe it) - he'll do a movie night at school tonight (first time for this so we'll see how it goes) - Olivia and friends will go to a football game (after visiting good old St. Bede today on their day off) - BIG Woodland Hills / Central rivalry - we will miss Penn Brewery's Oktoberfest (but you don't have to ... info here - they happen to be an old client of mine) - Lil has worked her Kate Mack tutu bathing suit all day (she thinks she's a ballerina) - Milo has kept pace, continuing to delight and amaze with his new sense of responsibility and gentle behavior (and yeah - I'm serious about that -that's the news from his teachers anyway :-) - hubby working on a tricky web site that needs to launch before the weekend so playing evening plans by ear.

Love the breeze today, though .... and the light. Beautiful, memory-invoking, warm, strong and full of shadows and passing clouds. This is how I like it :-).

Photos: My little ones have the mums and pumpkins ready - Is fall here or what? And... Go Central! Obviously, they are blue and white, judging from these spirited girls and their outfits :-) - all of them out the door 5 min ago (Wow - I love this iPhone - immediate photo satisfaction with no hassle :-).

23 September 2010

"Stakeholder's Meeting" - a.k.a: another Open House

So ... went to Oakland Catholic tonight - went through Olivia's schedule like it was mine - late bells - awkward seat-finding moments - glancing around the cafeteria looking for familiar faces and all. I waved to people I knew across the room - convinced one person NOT to skip class - got in trouble for texting in class - the works :-). Oh yeah .... and I met some of her teachers - got to know the school a little better - took notes on what to expect in certain courses.... What I was supposed to do ;-).

Photos: The school directory (we are officially in there - high school parents ;-) - and.... all my homework (syllabuses - or is that syllabi :-)?

Happy thoughts to K, my friend and fellow blogger, whose son is home from the hospital tonight - healthy after a bout with some upper respiratory awfulness, and..... congrats to Olivia B for making the play at school (my Olivia wanted me to wall write her on Facebook - I'm givin' her a blog mention :-).

Tomorrow (and birthday brownies and school movie night and the gym, etc.) beckons.

My cupcakes are the best!

And by cupcakes .... I mean my kids. The cupcakes I bake are... admittedly.... so so :-), which reminds me to get ON that birthday treat for Enzo's class - a couple dozen brownies, actually, for tomorrow (aaaaallllll good), BUT my kids are super cool!

Olivia DID get secretary (and Olivia B got prez - that's my girls! ;-) - Milo's bloodwork came back much improved (one more "pinch" in a few weeks and we may be scott free!) - got Enzo's birthday invitations rolling - and, Lil.... well - she is super cute in her morning out program now :-).

Happy, happy. Joy, joy.

Photo: The cupcakes, of course (late summer - a couple of weeks ago)!

I have Olivia's Open House tonight (or, as her school puts it, the "Stakeholder's Night", which.... seems appropriate... all that tuition.....;-). Anyway, I get to walk her schedule. Yikes - I got a lot of detentions for being late back in the day - hope I make her proud tonight :-). And.... send some good karma to her field hockey team.... playing yet another game tonight :-).

Open House

Went to Open House last night. Enjoyed a misty fall evening under a full moon - the school brightly lit - kids swinging and running around the playground, lit only by the bright classroom windows that face the courtyard - parents chatting and walking about the school - the familiar teachers and well-worn but cheerful halls reminding me, yet again, of years ago when I was a new parent there, my high schooler only a kindergartner at the time. We went that night - excited for the year and hoping to make new friends.

Last night, we went with the same hope, really. We are getting to know a whole new group of parents, we are experiencing a turnover of teachers, and we are looking forward the adventure that awaits us over the next few years as we add more kids to the school's roster. So .... we looked at artwork and photos and snuck at look at Enzo's journal - remarked on how Milo was so happy to be "line leader" earlier in the day - talked to Olivia's beloved former art teacher.... and we stole a bit of time to grab a drink, some chat time and a quick walk in Regent Square - all while ordering some take out cheesey fries for our poor little ones (well for the teen, actually - who happily babysat for us) - waiting at home with no power. See ... as usual in our neck of the woods, a storm blew in yesterday around 4 pm, and, at the first gust of wind, our power went out - for 7 hours! Olivia had to do homework by campfire lantern - the little ones watched a movie on the laptop - they snacked on chips and juice - we all made it work. And... believe me, it was tempting to stay on the little restaurant strip in our 'hood with neighbors for a bit, but... we opted to head home and soothe the little ones whose bedtime was soooo thrown off (and feed our Olivia, the aforementioned babysitter, some much-deserved decadent pub food :-).

Photos: Can you tell I took my iPhone (I still heart it so much) to Open House?

Quick fyi for you local readers. Info. on some robberies in Sq. Hill and Greenfield here.

And.... yeah - still on my Halloween kick - check out these costumes!

22 September 2010

Pullin' for the "teen".

So ... forgot to mention that Olivia is running for class secretary (and I am superstitious, so ... maybe did not forget - just did not speak aloud - though not afraid to admit defeat - neither is Olivia). She has a long history on class council (as do I - and, yeah, I know - does NOT necessarily fit the picture I paint from those days - aside from the cheerleading - damn, mentioned it again - enigmas, all of us ;-), and she knows a lot of girls in the school. This morning, when I stopped by her old school to prep paper apples and paint starry nights for display in the kindergarten (such a good feeling to be in the hall, toiling away with my paper and scissors and hear both my boys in their respective rooms just totally enjoying their days - same experience from when Olivia was little though then I remember doing scarecrows :-), her old principal was talking about how a lot of the girls from St. Bede are running - obviously proud :-). We'll see.... just did the text exchange to find out: No word on elections yet (and go, Olivia B, for prez too :-). I had forgotten to ask her how her speech went yesterday.... TOO MUCH going on, but... as I always say - would NOT have it any other way.

Enjoy this beautiful day, all. Oh - and... did I mention that, yeah - still lovin' this iPhone thing.....

Photo: The icy, sweet, tasty coffee break I mentioned the other day in recounting our shopping excursion..... Hi Olivia.

Errands and.... why, why, why???

Lately lovin' the day to day stuff - boys up and happy each day, ready to brush teeth, eat breakfast, head off to school - Olivia happy with new friends, enjoying her field hockey experience, getting good grades, joining youth group - Lil animated and sweet each day, spending one on one time with Mommy, playing with all her toys, taking walks, dressing up like a "prince-ness". Was just saying this very thing last night - that all was going so well. Granted, hubby has a time-consuming project at work - I have endless school forms, new freelance work and the new day to day school routine. We are tired, and... have little time for each other. It gets rough, BUT we haven't seen our kids this collectively settled and calm in a long time - going to bed willingly, sitting to eat dinner without fighting, dressing themselves, our teen even wanting to spend time with us :-).

This week, we still have to get through two school open houses, the second of two field hockey games AND an all-day tournament on Saturday, movie night at school, dance class, soccer, camp out, birthday treat for Enzo at school, "snack helper" day for Milo, quick b-day celebration / Steeler game on Sun (and party invitations for a movie party a week later) - aaahhhh!!! Seems like a lot, but we can handle it.

This morning, our stride was broken a bit. Enzo woke upset that Milo had gone downstairs without him - Milo wet the bed for the first time in, literally, a few years - Lil was up and down all night last night, restless, calling out - Olivia running a bit late today, almost missed the bus, clipped responses to everything I said to her. After Enzo's tears and Milo's reluctance to eat breakfast as a result of Enzo's tears (he thought he was angry with him) AND the time I took to soothe and alternately scold this morning, we were running late going out the door. Hubby was checking something on his laptop - in my eyes, ignoring my struggle to get Milo to wear certain shoes, run upstairs for socks, help Enzo with his backpack, put one last minute treat in Milo's lunch, etc. I was running out of time - my boys were ranting at me - and.... hubby did nothing UNTIL I had all shoes on, all back packs, etc. packed, THEN he bellowed - "What do you need?" - "Why are you freaking out?" "You know we're late, don't you?"- Actually bolted up the stairs and yelled past my sleeping toddler - "I'm up here now - what do you need?" Um ... nothing. I have it all. Needed it like 10 min ago - stop yelling at me - stop talking down to me - stop acting like I've done something wrong (and, yes, then I go into turbo bitch mode). I do appreciate that you had to handle something for work during this tight timeframe. I'm sure you had your reasons, BUT I was still dealing with crying kindergartner, dirty socks, stubborn preschooler....... Sometimes, we need to remind ourselves that lack of sleep on my end - too much work on his - a mean comment from his Mom on my end - a mean phone call from her on his - all that CRAP needs to be put in perspective. Ridiculous what adults will dwell on sometimes OR let get to them. Thankfully, one phone call later (school drop off went well), and we are straight - all good - business as usual (I suggested hubby go to gym :-).

Anyway - off to school to help with kindergarten this morning....

Photo: Milo and Lil shop Whole Foods yesterday. As you can see, they just had to buy pumpkins, gourds and mums - in honor of the first day of fall, I guess (yeah - it's here :-). And... oh yeah - still lovin' that iPhone!

21 September 2010

Brave Boy

So ... the blood test at Children's went well. Milo is a brave boy - unfortunately used to such injustices given his medical history. Recently released from urology AND given a two year reprieve from nephrology, we now have to work on his iron saturation in his blood. It is going Ok. Since he's still not a great eater, we've had to resort to vitamins and fitness bars with citrus over and over again for maximum absorption (though suggestions to add Nutella, etc. to his diet are great ones - and... maybe I can get him back on raisins and other dried fruit).

So ... these trips bring back memories of surgery in the NICU and monthly visits to the hospital with Milo as an infant - tests in radiology when he was toddler (and looked so cute in his hospital issue pjs - though felt just horrible when the tears would flow :-) - I mean, we know the old hospital and the beautiful new one inside and out - total veterans used to the crowds, the waits, scheduling issues that leave you there all day - eating in the cafeteria - paying for parking - the WHOLE drill. It is familiar, and it is life-affirming in that so many families and children, either sick or with chronic conditions like Milo, just take it all in stride - accept their situation as normal - and remain grateful that they are not one of those so sick they may never leave - or grateful that they do have something manageable - of course, feeling for and thinking of those who do have something more serious or who do not lead normal lives.

For now, we are happy that our blood work is over AND that it is all we had to do today. My brave boy - who I am watching from my window as he throws a pumpkin (that he just HAD to buy at Whole Foods) like a shotput, smashing it again and again on the ground with his brute force. Looks like I need to intervene for the poor pumpkin (and looks like I need to be thankful that I do have a tough boy who can handle so much again and again when he needs to :-).

Going totally suburban!

Or went, rather. This weekend. With "the teens", as I've said - which is how I will now refer to them. And - and it was actually QUITE a weekend with the teens. They sat and had Thai food with us Friday night (Green Mango in Regent Square - yum - lemongrass beef, spicy king chicken - pad thai....) - they did a sleepover that night (Lil and I returned from ballet in the morning - fresh from a soccer tantrum with Milo that required assistance in getting off the field - to find "the teens" lolling about in blankets in the tv room while the kitchen looked like there had been some sort of "pancake accident" with batter, dirty plates, bits of bacon, empty juice glasses, etc. all over) - there was a Central / Oakland mixer on Sat. night - and... we went homecoming dress shopping on Sunday - which.... brings me to the suburbs part - we went to Ross Park Mall so they could hit Juicy, Lucky, Louis Vuitton (yeah, right - on the latter ;-). All about the girls this weekend.

So .... we hit Gap, Ann Taylor, Nordstrom, Macy's - all the usual suspects - had pizza, lo mein and gelatto in the food court - grabbed sweet, steamy coffee drinks on a "break" - looked at jewelry and make-up we don't need - the whole mall experience. I have actually NOT done that in years!!! Years. I'm not kidding. Felt good, actually. Fun.

Anyway - big scores for both Olivia and Olivia B on dresses and shoes - my Olivia got a metallic-ish, simple swingy strapless dress with a tasteful gather / rose in the front - strappy silver sparkle sandals with a little heel to match, and.... Olivia B got a strapless black dress with pretty, textured flower detail on the full skirt and a pair of retro bright blue suede pumps to go with it. Super cool dresses AND shoes. Lil had a great time trying on shoes in Nordstrom. All the sales girls thought she was the cutest. She kept saying, "Look" and pulling her little leg to the side so that everyone could see the giant adult size 7 red patent high-heeled shoe she was proudly clomping around the store wearing (Mommy's size, but... like I said - all about the girls this weekend :-) - though we did LOOK at some awesome boots right up "Mommy's" alley - red ankle boots with a heel - high brown and black leather ones, lace-up and zip - new UGGS with buttons and straps - retro Frye - chunky boots with buckles - aahhhh... boots ;-).

Anyway ... some fun stuff:

Found this site after seeing the logo / label on the cocoa I use to make hot chocolate. My extended family has some diabetes and other health issues (I'm adopted so have no medical history - but my Mom's Dad was Native American and diabetes is an issue - my Dad's family had gluten allergies and other stomach issues, etc.) as does hubby and other people I know, so... worth a look. It is a site spawned by Oprah - HOW did I miss that all this time?

And here's a scary email headline: Vince Neil in your local Borders. AAAHHH!! Signing a book called Tattoos and Tequila no less. Wasn't he in Motley Crue? Right? I often block frightening childhood memories so .... may have that wrong ;-). Anyway .... some new books, etc. coming out - holiday deals on the horizon - worth a look.

And.... has anyone seen the M. Night Shyamalan movie, Devil? I love a scary movie - found the Sixth Sense brilliant, but... nothing from him since then has proven very good. Reviews seem mixed thus far...

Think of my little Milo today. He has his iron test today (blood drawn at Children's - good times :-(.

20 September 2010

Lunch with hubby and Lil ... in and out of the chaos ;-).

Had to sign some stuff in front of a notary today, so... had Chinese food on the Southside with hubby and Lil before entering the inertia of school pick-up and field hockey carpooling.

Good Morning

I'm trying the new iPhone for a 30 day trial period. So far - LOVE it. Have a couple of apps on it now - Epicurious, Style.com, Whole Foods, Facebook - hubby loaded stuff on that he thought I would like - along with the latest Arcade Fire, Interpol and The National from iTunes. Soon - I will need to begin doing all of this myself - soon I will need to let go of Verizon Wireless - soon I will need to embrace that space inside me, which I know exists - that persona just waiting to get out that wants me to know everything and to be everywhere all the time. I think I may need to reign that in a bit....

Prayers for this boy's family on this day. He's a high school football player who collapsed and died on the field - similar to something that happened here locally a year or so ago (a Central football player collapsed as well).

Photo: Yeah - I'm already going crazy with the camera. This is my coffee (and my new coffeemaker) like 2 min ago :-).

18 September 2010

What's in your pocket?

Ok - so I love finding little bits of the past in unexpected places. I think I recently blogged about a drawing that my Mom, Olivia and I had done years ago when Olivia was a toddler or preschooler - dated it, put our names on it - and it was hiding in with some unused art supplies in Lilliana's room. Happy find. Most days, I can excavate something interesting from an area in our house. Last week, it was a shirt of Enzo's - one that he wore when he was only one or two years old or so - and it had fallen behind the drawers in his dresser and was just recently starting to cause a problem with one of the drawers shutting, so... I finally yanked it out - so cute. Another happy find. This week, it has been all about my pockets....

A couple of days ago, I grabbed a pair of yoga pants that I had discarded over the arm of the rocking chair in the corner of the bedroom. I had school drop off, and I just grabbed anything I could put on quickly. In that pocket was a little scrap of paper with the style number of Lilliana's Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre leotard scribbled on it (for her very first dance class) - and another scrap of paper with some hastily written directions to Olivia's first away field hockey game on it. Both of these would be fabulous finds for me in a year or so but, alas, yoga pants need to be washed often, so... no chance for that. Jackets are a different story, however. In my jean jacket pocket this morning, I scored big - I found the lamb's wool that Enzo handed me on a field trip last year - chilly spring day - surrounded by his friends and beloved teachers - out in the country - just Enzo and Mommy :-). I also found the folded up "agenda" from Olivia's freshman orientation this year - just a few weeks ago but, again, a big happy score for me!

So ... do I keep these things on purpose - these tokens or momentos of a moment or feeling so brief but so special, it hurts to throw it away? The moment passes - Enzo hands me the lamb's wool to eat his packed lunch with his friends on picnic tables and I, perusing the happy scene, take a mental picture and tuck it away for when I'll need a "warm, fuzzy" moment. I enter the high school cafeteria for the first and last time as a NEW PARENT - the first time I am actually the parent of a freshman, see Olivia with her friends, take the xeroxed agenda and... tuck it inside my pocket, keeping that split second in time close to me for as long as I want to? Probably. I think I do. And why not?

I mean, I have the dried flowers that my Milo has given me in past weeks on the driver side door to my van. Again, these sweet, spontaneous moments of "here, Mommy" - sticky little hand holding this tiny, weedlike flower up for me to take - so proud - a true, pure token of his love - in that moment. I have the capless acorn that Lilliana gave me in front of the school the other day, telling me it was "groken" - which is the way she says "broken", and... that's what hits me, I think. How long will she be baby-like - mispronouncing words, needing help down the steep cement stairs, wanting to hang with Mommy all day? Not long.

Today, at ballet, we added stickers to those already in Lil's little dance bag (we even added the parking receipt from our errands after class - I WANT to remember the day Lil just HAD to pay a dime to get her OWN parking receipt while we were rushing to get to soccer with snack for the kids - I want to dig that little slip of paper out someday and smile ;-). The dance bag, by the way, was Olivia's as a preschooler - the old stickers are hers. I love them. I will leave them there along with the little hair scrunchy I found - a sparkly one - inappropriate for our sedate ballet class right now, but... perfect for lil sis, Lilliana, to wear home when class is over - carrying on that tradition from years ago that... well .... feels like yesterday. Ya know?

17 September 2010

The dancer in the tutu is back!

... but without the tutu this time. Definitely some more dance and movie collaboration from Olivia and Lilliana. Enjoy :-).

Oh - and did you see what the storms late day yesterday did to New York City? 100 mph winds. Wow.

And, as you know... I love J.Crew. Check this weekend sale out.

Have a good day, all!

16 September 2010

Street lunch!

Hubby and I have a new area of interest.... and yes, it does involve kids and / or food .... the latter, actually. We have become interested in the whole premise of quick but good food - have been watching Food Network's show on food trucks (and I would pontificate on that a bit more, but... I don't have the relevant details aside from some fantastic looking Vietnamese sandwiches and a bunch of burger guys called "Grill'em All" - Metallica anyone?) - saw a fab dessert truck on "Bobby's Flay's "Throwdown" a while back - have fond memories of eating chicken skewers, gyros, veggie burritos, warn toasted bagels piled with cream cheese and jelly on our way back from big nights out in college - and, of course, Marcello has memories of drinking Inca Cola and eating Peruvian bbq chicken at the many pollo rios in Lima and surrounding areas - I have happy memories of Croque Monsieurs, toasted nuts, Nutella crepes and sauerkraut brats on the streets of France, Luxembourg and Germany. Screw fast food. Sick of it (except for McDs fries, right?). There is such a thing as good street vendor food (loaded up hot dogs, anyone? - diggin' that Conflict Kitchen in East Liberty.... new realm for the quick lunch, dinner, bite to eat). Anyway.... hubby indulged today. Looks yummy. He and I like to message, text, email photos, etc. all day - his iPhone is, of course, super cool for that. Today - our back and forth is food, and.... the kids' school experience (foremost on our minds these past few weeks).

And speaking of hubby, here is his Crain's B to B mention on a "top ten" site he designed in 2010.

Countdown to Halloween....

...can't wait. Some fun ideas here.

And ... a cool idea for those of you dealing with demanding teens with expensive taste (specifically in clothes :-).

Anyone surprised by the outcome of Top Chef last night? I was a little... creative guy... but made some mistakes in the past - and even last night (despite help from Michael V!) that I'm not sure were "Top Chef-worthy". Anyway.... no spoilers here - though weigh in if you want (and I know you will - text or email me, "cookie" ;-). I also started watching the new Top Chef: Just Desserts as well - immediately following (will take the former's timeslot at 10 pm next week) - wowee.... some divas on that show, eh?

Finally - quick question: Do you ever have someone NOT return an email or a call despite the subject matter / situation being VERY important? And, further, it appears that this person MAY be trying to gain an advantage by doing so? Appalling. Impolite. My two cents..... What do you think, though? I'm truly interested (and provide stories - you know I like to listen).

Photo: Last year - Halloween. I love my fall photos - especially Halloween - may revisit some from the past in the next few weeks ... post now and then. My zen.

15 September 2010

Can't even begin to describe the yin and yang of this day.....

Started off last night with our teen (I will begin to refer to her that way on occasion - much more descriptive in one word than her name, Olivia) gleefully texting us from a McDonalds stop on the way home from the field hockey game that she had not been taken out very much - a high compliment in our lacrosse and basketball days, but.... now that it appears that physical pressure is hers as an emerging player, once she got home she was all (get those fingers ready to wag) -"uh, mommy (and I wish I could I could phonetically show the full length, emphasis and exaggeration on that word :-) - that is sooooo not a good thing - I'm like so tired". Hubby and I exchanged knowing nods and tiny smiles (God forbid she would detect one on our lips) because we know it was a good thing - dehydration goosebumps and all :-).

This morning, school drop-off went well - Olivia got on her bus in a clean uniform with her homework done and breakfast in her stomach (quite a feat to hit all three sometimes) - the boys went off happily wearing back packs, carrying lunches and ready to be snack helper and / or bring in show n tell later in the week (Milo even got his school picture taken today without the fit he had last year). Lil went to morning out - wearing a jaunty new stripey, flowered, colorful (very Lil) poncho and carrying a Tinkerbell bag (basking in the glow of her fun hide and seek game with our neighbor last night - Lil had this big kindergarten girl all to herself for a while :-) while the boys were at soccer - making "ant houses" out of dirt, picking flowers, running around in the chilly evening air). I snuck in a workout and grabbed an iced coffee - scheduled a call with a freelance acquaintance of mine, which turned into an offer for a position as full-time writing and editing consultant for the new publishing arm of her company, so... to celebrate, I spent some of my long overdue birthday money in Anthropologie (though I AM boring - after perusing cute skirts and funky blouses, I bought my requisite faded, worn long-sleeved crew - yoga-ish pants and funky, sparkly earrings - staples for me - AND looked long and hard at some cool duvet covers - one a mosaic of print and script writing - interesting.....). When I spoke to hubby, his fried computer of the day before (email acting up) turned into a brand new laptop - he was making adjustments at the Apple Store - had also just enjoyed some coffee kid and worry-free in Shadyside. When I picked Lil up from her program, she was sitting in a sunny side yard with one of the teachers and a couple kids, playing with toys and enjoying this beautiful day. Milo was also happy and excited when I picked him up - retrieved his own back pack and everything - ran outside, cheerful, shouting hello to a couple of new friends (Milo has friends who aren't put off by his "loud-talking" - I am thrilled - and he even took direction at soccer practice last night... oh the joy).

I dragged the wee ones to Whole Foods, which, as you know, does NOT always go well for us. This time, however, we did well - aside from one flipped over and spilled container of cinnamon buns, which was met with a cheerful - "Don't be sorry - if this is the worst thing that happens to us today, we're good" (aren't they nice there? - even Milo came back from his "lap of rage" to make amends). We got back home to meet Olivia on time - I got the pot roast and potatoes on in a timely manner - Lil spent time with big sis - Milo got his lone Wii time, and... Enzo got to go to after school with friends from last year. When I arrived at Enzo's after school program, he was playing Star Wars with one of his old best friends (now a first grader) so I took that opportunity to do some phone coordination on his upcoming birthday party at a movie theater. All good, right?

No. It appears his friend had homework so play time was cut short. We had a cheerful ride home, but, once there, my little ones played nicely together for about 15 min. After that, it was screaming, fighting, crying, shrieking, hitting, slapping - pure nasty, cranky, mean defiance. Only half of my little ones ate the big dinner I prepared - hubby called, told me he was surprised earlier by an old high school friend in town, but... he was in town because his father is in the hospital so they were both on their way to visit him there (heart surgery -recovering nicely :-) - Olivia's field hockey friend got sick so I am now on late night pick up duty (which is fine, actually - I owe all my carpool buddies BIG) - plus I got a call from Lil's new dance class saying I forgot to pay on Sat (I did - whoops) AND I got an email from school saying I missed a tuition payment (another whoops - I did - PLUS I neglected to fill out a necessary form, so.... had to alert hubby, who was already cranky, harried and not in the mood to discuss mistakes and / or tuition while a 2 year old and 4 year old screamed in the background). Oh .... and Milo forgot his jacket at school, which he is still fretting about - AND the email regarding Enzo's birthday party arrived without the attachment I need - I did not get my consulting paperwork - our mailbox looks like it's going to break - somehow I got grease on a favorite shirt - there is a lazy but aggressive wasp flying around my kitchen - the headache I've had off and on for two days is back - and did I REALLY miss the magazine fundraiser at Olivia's school? - Did I REALLY cause her to miss an entire dress down WEEK?!?!...... Yeah. Ebb and flow - yin and yang. And - wow - my computer screen just went black. I think I need to sign off before .... well - who knows (plus we have the brilliant, peaceful Ponyo on, which is calming / soothing and it is now time for some pre-bedtime hot chocolate - yum)?

Photo: I'm going to ask Milo to borrow that superhero cape tomorrow. I may need it.

Good news today, though, all in all - along with some of the up and down that makes life worth living, right? Wishing you all the same - happy, happy!

14 September 2010

Free rangin' a bit.....

Let my little ones run off to the clubhouse after a quick dinner of pasta, apple slices, hot dogs and warm cookies for dessert. Unsupervised and totally self-sufficient, they put on their own sneaks or slip-ons and headed off to climb crossbars and swing - while Daddy and I discussed birthday party plans, new furniture, bedroom painting and other vital bits of info. before soccer practice. Texted my teen while I watched Weezer on Yo Gabba Gabba with Lil - discovered that the field hockey team wandered Oakland like college students - grabbed some Lu Lu's Noodles and boarded the team bus bound for Peters Twp for their games - ETD tonight: past 10 pm - though my girl and her responsible friends will be riding back with another parent in order to get homework done, etc. - She doesn't need me there - assures me she will play hard. Who ARE these kids and how did they get to be so.... um .... secure?!?! ;-).

This is my post for tomorrow - going to get back on gym schedule and stock up on school lunch stuff which is already running dangerously low PLUS continue my ongoing organization projects (can anyone say photos and seasonal clothing), so..... I will be MIA (should I hang a "Gone Fishin'" sign here? - Nah... I'm a "throw'em back" kinda girl anyway ;-). Happy Wed, all. Don't forget Top Chef on Bravo - 10 pm - finale!!!!!

Teenagers.... ugh....

So - after cleaning my teen's room for her (sooo much homework, Mommy) - fighting with her on meeting these boys she's going to the homecoming dances with before they go (we kinda / sorta know one - the family of the other) - dealing with her snarky / turn her nose up at ALL my dinners, lunches, etc. (the other day, she opened the refrigerator and told me that the herbs in the freezer "like, totally needed to be thrown away" - at which time, I firmly - like really firmly - let her know that, despite her dislike of all my food, I do cook daily with fresh herbs and have used and replaced the thyme numerous times, the dill was new, the basil was freshly picked and just frozen - same with the rosemary... blah blah blah - it was all FRESH - and that just because SHE didn't notice what I do and how I do it doesn't mean that I am a total slacker, bad housekeeper, give no attention to my kitchen type person - Sorry - waaaay digressing, but I know she is around families with children who are all older, and, therefore, self-sufficient and able to make their own mac and cheese, clean their rooms, etc. I have little ones and must seem harried and behind in everything all the time to her - pathetic as I schlump around in my sweats and flip flops, changing pull-ups, organizing kids clothes, giving baths to muddy preschoolers, slapping together tunafish sandwiches when I haven't had time to make dinner, ignoring my own haircuts, dentist appointments, etc. to make it all happen for them - her included. Oh well. BUT - I do feel bad when I snap like that.).

Anyway.... after having her ignore all our hiking, fishing and biking outings with family and having to hear about those her friends do participate in with their families or she participates in with their families - after taking special care to wash her uniform components to the point of hand washing, using delicate cycle and special detergent, staying up late to make sure I retrieve them in time to lay them flat all night, I have to hear that there is nothing to eat in the house (I keep a steady supply of her very specific food likes - deli meat and cheese, the buns she likes, frozen pizzas, her fave mac and cheese, salad dressing she likes, bell peppers or carrots that she does like and should eat more of, chocolate ice cream, fresh baked cookies, sesame sticks, hummus and pita, fitness bars and bottled water) and that she'll TRY to find something to eat (ignoring my pot roast, roast chicken, lasagne, etc.) - I also have to hear that I lost her uniform shirt and that she thinks it it like totally gross that she would have to wear the same one again tomorrow because the other is like totally gone (I found it in the laundry basket with the whites I did the other day and lugged up the stairs last night after everyone was in bed - having rotated another load out late evening) - and I have to get chastised and talked down to for suggesting a dress buying outing for homecoming later in the week because like they'll be totally gone by then and I wanted to go with my friend (who then ended up not going on Sat so my snarky teen lost interest - God forbid she should go with me alone - after all, I was the loser that no one EVER asked to a dance - I didn't even know that the corsage, guy's outfit, etc. had to be coordinated - embarrassing and sad but true - no one ever asked me to a dance aside from back in 7th grade when I wasn't allowed to go and little did I know that would be the first and last time - I have never worn a formal gown in my life - I have never been given a corsage or flowers for special event - again, in my life. Hang head in shame, fight those 20+ year old tears that have NEVER fallen for any of these injustices and never will, and... move on - though.... I would have loved it if my Mom wanted to shop with me - and she did sometimes, but... as a daughter, I was a disappointment despite trying so hard to be otherwise). Anyway .... I love my wee little kids - I love my teen - I love my hubby. I know they all return the sentiment, but... sometimes..... I feel like I'm letting them all down (though hubby - equally as tired these days and working like a dog lately himself) - running out of pizzas for quick pre-game dinners - folding but not getting to put away the laundry on a given day or even two - leaving some of the outside toys out when it rains, letting them get dirty or leaf-covered - NOT being able to make it to Target, the grocery store, the shoe store and Steak n Shake in less than an hour - daring to mention that I want to watch one show on TV a week without being interrupted. How dare I schedule flu shots for everyone - how dare I get tired - how dare I even suggest that the sneakers I just bought two months ago are fine for another sports season?!?! In my reasonable mind, I know that I am doing my best - in that part of my brain that suspects that I might be a sub-standard housekeeper, cook, chauffeur and all-around Mom, I let it get to me.

Tonight, I will wait for hubby to get home at 5 (way early for him) - I will have the boys dressed for soccer practice (and hubby will gladly take them there) - I will have everyone fed - I will have all bath components laid out for later when I might not be here later in the evening - I will have Lil suited up and ready to go (jacket, sippy cup, extra pull-ups, etc.) - I will have all school stuff ready for tomorrow for EVERYBODY (photo order forms, uniforms, back packs, etc.) - and I will drive nearly an hour to watch Olivia play field hockey (having sent money for lunch and dinner since she would be boarding the team bus again - carefully washed and folded everything she needed for today - had hubby drive her to the bus stop with school project in hand....), and I will bring her home early if she wants me to so that she can work done - or I will stay and watch her varsity team mates if that's what she wants me to do (and a quick thank you to those who help me get all this done - carpooling or whatever). I am proud of her - I want her to be happy and successful. And .... I am doing my "job" - I am mostly enjoying it - and, like many of you, I am also fighting the lack of confidence and / or the functioning in the vacuum that - A. prompted me to start this blog a few years ago, and B. allows me to vent and get advice from my peeps (you guys). Rock on, Moms - we do what we do well. Think on that today (and ignore my rantings OR use them to gain your own perspective.... ALL GOOD, right?).

So .... like I said - apologies for the doom and gloom. To redeem myself, here is a link on how vaccines do not appear to lead to autism (increasing evidence as such has been mounting lately, as you know). Encouraging news. Little ones fighting - I just heard a crash - have been summoned for more food and drink despite just fetching the same 15 min ago - I am not dressed..... Gotta go.

Photo: Me - in Olivia's room (hey - I'm like totally in your room. Nah na na na NAH NAH).

13 September 2010

A preschool self-portrait (a necessary addendum to previous ;-)....

Just received this via highly coveted iPhone.... Milo's P4 self-portrait....

And so it REALLY begins....

Boys off this morning wearing jackets - both carrying back packs and lunchboxes - hubby in long-sleeves, cup of to go" coffee in his hand. There was a light drizzle falling - the light was dim and cloudy this morning, like a storm or heavy rain was on the way. The air was quiet and the street littered with the first of the leaves that have started dropping. I noticed the hint of color starting on the treetops when I drove out to Olivia's field hockey game on Saturday - way out there - rolling hills, winding roads - us city slickers start to get a little freaked when we can't spot the buildings from downtown from the main road (though, no need for bread crumbs to mark the trail in my case - having been a "way out there" suburbanite for years :-).

I actually have time this morning to sort school papers - hang snack lists - fill out school photo forms. I'm watching the news and thinking of so many people affected by tragedy this morning (the pipeline explosion in San Francisco, the attack on the kindergarten in China a few weeks ago as well as all the natural disaster recovery going on). I realize I did not comment on the 9/11 anniversary nor did I post anything at all yesterday (and my vow over a year ago to include reaching out / blogging as a daily discipline is still foremost in my mind - as are my plans to work out regularly again and to eat lighter...). Actually, so much goes through my mind thinking on 9/11. Odd day for me. Olivia had just started kindergarten - I had just become engaged to my now hubby - I had just suffered a personal trauma that was weighing heavily on my mind - I was in a stressful marketing position with a new technology start-up in the area, and..... that's where I was when it all started. I remember someone was listening to Elvis Costello while another person recounted the strange coincidence of two planes running into the World Trade Center. I remember the increasing worry as people began to realize that "something" was going on. With rogue planes flying overhead (and, at the time, those poor people were still alive), reports of a three year old on one of the planes that flew into the twin towers and pretty much... nothing else, we were streaming the BBC reports in our cubicles because they seemed to know more than our local people did at the time ( I'm sure the speculation and chaos had something to do with it as everyone was doing their best to communicate). I remember my direct supervisor saying that it was "probably nothing" - would "blow over" and that if we really felt we needed to, we "could go home" since the advice to evacuate downtown and / or retrieve kids from schools had already been quietly communicated to everyone. I opted to leave to get Olivia. I was told by another "higher up" to take some people with me, so I did..... dropped everyone at home - got Olivia at school - where they were laying low - definitely NOT business as usual - but they weren't alarming the kids at all. Very surreal on this little tree-lined street in a pretty urban neighborhood as parents - worried and confused - arrived midday in work clothes - suits, heels, computer bags in hand, cell phones to their ears - to get their kids. No tap class at the JCC that evening - lots of explaining to the kindergartner who was full of questions - phone calls to check on friends and family in Manhattan or overseas and stranded. Strange, scary, sad day. I mostly remember the aftermath and all the terrible stories and all the fear. And... we've lived that way now for almost a decade - new rules, precautions, etc. Sometimes doesn't seem that long.

So ... on a lighter note too - I just realized that I need to include "Steelers" as one of my tags - can't believe I haven't yet ;-). Hubby went to the game yesterday with my brother, David. My Dad left him his season ticket when he died - a meaningful gesture in this family ;-). So... Steelers will also be foremost on my mind this season (sorry, Dad, didn't mean to neglect your team ;-). More on that later. For now.... another sentimental summer photo montage (and, sorry if you're getting sick of them - these random photos from the past few weeks, cuz... I'm definitely not ....:-).

Oh - quick note - we watched The Young Victoria last night. Really good - love Emily Blunt. Worth a watch :-). And.... Ponyo has become a favorite in this house recently (and I realize most of you have already seen it - but... we don't get out much ;-). Definitely worth a watch - very "old school" animation - dreamy - soothing...

And... LAST note.... yesterday was Grandparents Day... and I know - I know - not truly an official holiday, but... just a reminder to remember someone close to you - an opportunity to contact a grandparent. My kids sent my Mom some "letters" (i.e. odd boxy - but cute - drawings) and a photo from the vain high schooler (kidding - she loves to see what the teens are up to ;-).

See ya!

11 September 2010

Another sentimental summer photo montage -)...

Enzo has begun to pay attention in soccer - less talking with school friends - more kicking the ball towards the goal. Lilliana was thrilled to be in a proper ballet class this morning - after one minor sashay collision and a couple of battement tendus and she was ready to go - loved the piano music - loved her teacher (and mommy can still sauter - go figure). Olivia played a fierce game of field hockey today - got coach's attention - was team captain for the game. Milo has a play date, which makes him SO happy, and... he's decided he might want to play soccer after all (much to Coach Daddy's delight.... a few weeks too late ;-).

Happy weekend!