05 January 2011

Project 2011.... yeah ... I'm serious this time.....

I stopped doing my blog on Halloween, my absolute favorite holiday, in 2010. Seemed an appropriate denouement for about two years of, first, kvetching and rambling into the abyss – once every two weeks mostly to… finally, hitting my stride and becoming the voice of a school, a neighborhood, a life lived … well….. like yours. Nice to meet you. Anyway, the very next day, I was standing in my kitchen, knee-deep in groceries just lugged in from the car, perusing my dry erase board for the exact time of my three year old’s well check-up the next day, and…. deciding what to make with the acorn squashes from our last CSA, which I had just spied in the refrigerator. I was listening to my preschooler and kindergartner ask for just one more piece of Halloween candy, I could smell the paint from where my hubby was painting our bedroom (long-awaited occurrence, so… I was NOT complaining), and I was trying to answer my teen, who was yelling down the stairs, asking if I had downloaded her homecoming dance photos yet. I absorbed all of this, sighed, and…. immediately wanted to tell someone about my plight, ask advice, write it all out and analyze it with jokes and reminders of how rewarding it all truly is – this daily business of looking forward to baby well check-ups and deciding what exciting recipe to make with an acorn squash. But… I couldn’t. I wasn’t blogging anymore.

This internal monologue continued well into the evening. Is it OK / normal to be baking chocolate chip cookies and fixing my preschooler’s bloody pinky toe at the same time? Is it OK to let the kindergartner miss a day of school for a cough AND slack on homework as well? Did I have time to try the new stain remover on the carpet AND go out for a beer with my hubby? AND was THAT fair to the high school freshman diligently plowing through homework? I mean, would the “just turned three year old” flip out if we left – or , worse, would she not sleep at all? Hmmm … who to ask. Not my blog readers, for sure. Again, I couldn’t. Yeah – you can bet I was questioning my decision to stop for a while.

I pondered into the night – thinking of how my one friend cracked me up with stories of her son under twilight anesthesia before his tonsillectomy talking to the “guy with two heads” – another friend threatening me with photos of my teenage ballerina / budding modern dance self – another friend’s fashion advice – still another’s sympathetic ear and family advice. Would I have it again?

And, so, you all know the end to this story…. I started blogging again. NOW, however, I have come to another crossroads, and I am, once again, pondering why I do this AND why I haven’t launched my new super cool helpful site. THAT is precisely what I will be doing soon. So… please excuse my brief hiatus (seriously – I will take a break this time – no more jumping out of the woodwork to say hello for no reason, right?) while I attend to the "bizness" like ASAP. Seems a good project for the first month of 2011, don’t you think? See ya!

Staying occupied....

Not me, that is. I have no problem in that area - busy, busy evening last night - even busier day today. I am still in the throes of redesigning and reconcepting this blog space PLUS a new, VERY interesting writing project has entered my radar - loooong selection process and I am actually anticipating heavy competition, so.... we'll see.

Anyway - stay busy, y'all (and, SL, stay true to you - do not let anyone stray you from your path :-).

Photo: Milo, staying busy with his new indoor ring toss ;-). We did "My Little Outback" in Squirrel Hill yesterday (thanks for invite, E) - have done it before, and I do have photos to share, but.... I am also way pressed for time today. Details, endorsements and recommendations to follow shortly :-).

Oh... and EVERYONE slept soundly through the night last night! Are we back on track? I think we are :-). Off to a workout then to help at school then to run some birthday errands then.... well - you get the picture... Enjoy your "busy" today, everyone...

04 January 2011

School drop-off, a Blogher response

Currently, we have icy pavement, muddy grass, chilly air, and a lot of mittens, hats and coats to track on our way to school. Post-holiday, we are a little slower with lunches, back packs and gym shoes, but... both my boys, the preschooler and the kindergartner, head off cheerfully and ready to start their days. My high school freshman is a little more reluctant, leggings under her uniform skirt, back pack so heavy with homework that I don't know how she makes it into the school, she does head out, encouraged by her involvement with youth group, class council, and indoor lacrosse :-) later in the day. Of course, the three year old is with me - happy to have her one on one time, though full of warm weather memories - days on which she would "help" me get the boys to school (daddy having driven the teen). Way back when school first started, it WAS sunny and warm - everyone still tanned and rested from summer. Back then, it was light and people chatted and played on the playground, walked the neighborhood, met for coffee - love that our little school in an urban neighborhood has that feel to it. Now, it is so dark - streets stained with salt (but the snow all melted ;-(, so we all head back home, like hermits, to our fires and our coffee ;-).

So .... meditating on the photo of warm weather fun - laughing (again) at the sweet little paper and marker "friends" hanging on the wall welcoming us back during "back to school season" - AND looking forward, in this new year :-), to helping kindergarten with some winter crafts, my teen's birthday, a skiing outing on the horizon, my three year old's return to her "morning out" program, and a big gymnastic party for the preschooler this coming weekend. All good. All school stuff :-).

SNAPPED, a post-holiday "story" from the "comfort" of my home.

Yeah - so total rant alert right now.... And, I do realize how I've been pontificating on how things have been going so well lately - sunshine, flowers, sushi and Christmas cheer, right? Well.... check this:

I have been awakened for... um... three? four? nights in a row now - Last night, it peaked at 9!!!!! times. 9. 9 times. And how? why? I'm sure you are riveted, right? Just waiting for my reply. Well ... here it is.... and it is NO surprise.... My kids. They wake me aaaaallllll night long.

Last night, my boys' requests ranged from some milk to getting rid of a scary noise to replacing the covers, which had - gasp!!!! - fallen off their legs. These requests came at midnight - at approximately 1 am and around 3 am-ish. They were awake and ready to go by around 5:20 am, requesting movies, yelling for me to bring them breakfast and / or fighting and wanting me to break it all up. Wait.... or was that 4:20 am? Can't remember; all my days and nights are beginning to blend together. Within all this craziness (and, if I ignore them, btw, they begin to yell - scream even - top of their lungs, wide awake, in the middle of the night - 5 and 6 years old! WTF?), my 3 year old wakes and calls out in her sleep, sometimes cries and cries for nearly 15 min, wailing, slapping at me, half-asleep, and I have to soothe her or risk the entire house waking or even just her waking fully, which would leave me with a cranky little one in the am, and one who wants to nap for 4 hours midday at that (and then, of course, would not go to bed until midnight). I am, apparently, the only one who hears all this (and, again, last night, I counted - I was up doing something for someone 9X!!!), so... I do not sleep - or I might get a full hour here and there only to stay awake tense and stressed for another hour or more, waiting for the next summons up the stairs. Usually, as soon as I fall asleep, I am awakened almost right away.

When 6:15 am comes, and it is time to wake the teen, who actually woke me at 11 pm last night (I was so tired, I was actually nauseous and had to lay down around 9pm, leaving a sinkfull of dishes that are still there as I speak - or type, rather - as is the giant load of laundry that I put in yesterday evening and the basket I was in the process of folding - good times ;-) to say that she was finally going to bed after her piles of homework, I am, once again, the only one ready to move the day forward (those teens ;-), a heavy burden when one is sleep-deprived and not feeling well. So ... although the teen did sleep soundly through the night, she is, apparently, not lucid enough to tell me what she wants for breakfast, and so I stand at the door, having all my food suggestions shot down as my boys yell (read: scream) for me from the third floor. Frustrated, I decide to move on to something else - locating her lunch money. Hubby said he had some for her last night. Cannot find cash. He sleepily tells me from the warm bed that he does not have any - was going to give her some quarters (and, in his defense, he was ALSO up during the night dealing with wee ones and their demands). Quarters. A hot lunch plus extras is $5 or more and she is supposed to put like $10 in change in her already heavy back pack. Embarrassing, to say the least. So... I pull on my UGGs, bundle up in my puffy jacket and go 'round the corner to the cash machine. It is not even 6:30 am, and I still have lunches to make, ALL the beds to make, laundry to finish, the dishes to finish..... I could cry. In fact, I did. I also yelled.... at the teen - at hubby - at the boys - at the three year old.... And I swear. A lot. In the middle of the night as I change wet pull-ups and bring milk and water to ranting little ones AND in the morning as I pull everyone's sh** together while my "important" tasks go unfinished and sit with the promise of tormenting me into the late evening hours again. On top of all this, I have discovered that my poltergeist (does anyone else have a stealth 3 year old out there?) has dismantled a couple of family games and has lost a scratchy distorted Barney tape that I remember my oldest listening to with my beloved late father. No one could have stopped my tears mid-morning today.

So ... I guess I could ask for suggestions, but... I suspect the return to our pre-holiday routine will restore order in a few days. I also know that I need to enlist help from my able-bodied support system in the way of dishes, etc (and hubby does help - as does "the teen", so.... just need to get more organized, I suppose). And, it is important to note here that I did, somehow, manage to organize my bedroom and fill a large number of Good Will bags yesterday AND make a taco / quesadilla dinner while talking to a friend in need who has recently moved to California and is struggling a bit - DESPITE all this chaos. Sigh. Sigh - sigh - sigh.

Thanks for the vent. Anyone have any other crazy stories that will force me to count my blessings and / or refocus my narcissistic view of the world right now? Anyway.... take care. I really do need a break :-).

03 January 2011

So far - so good

Resolutions to stop and smell the roses more - do lunch with hubby - workout - stay engaged, organized and task-oriented (blowing through that old "to do" list ;-) are going rather well. Of course, it is pretty much officially day 1, but.... a good start, regardless.

So we did a morning in the Strip District (and, yes, locals, it was cold :-). Breakfast at Deluca's (eggs benedict for hubby - veggie breakfast burrito for me) - Steelers gear shopping (as hubby said.... gotta be ready for the play-offs) - a stinky stop in Wholey's fish market where Lil was fascinated by the live striped bass and lobsters - a fragrant stop in Penzey's spices where we only had the foresight to grab ready-made taco seasoning despite loads of tempting, lovely, exotic spices - then.... limited by time, we grabbed a coffee and headed off to get Milo at school (and, yes, the routine is in full swing - Olivia due home soon - Enzo next...). A nice day :-).

And, btw - I am on a personal quest for improvement, as many of you out there are. I do always appreciate your comments - and.... lately, they have come mostly via Facebook and Facebook messaging, which I love. I also appreciate all the blog comments and my emails (and texts :-) as well. I LOVE hearing your stories - rants about your challenges - quick notes about happy moments - bursts of ego-boosting comments - and even probing questions regarding what to do in difficult situations. I even like "nice photo", "I disagree with you" and other random-ish comments. So.... thanks, as always. I'm sorry that some of you have either stopped following me or just prefer not to interact on this blog - would love to have you back - know that all bloggers in this niche area do like the back and forth, but.... I do respect the fact that some people have chosen to move on. Remember, though, it NEVER hurts to lend support, a shoulder to cry on, or a bit of snarky, funny, or serious advice ;-).

See you later this week; I need a bit of a break.

A Blur

That's right. These past few weeks at home - with family - holiday festivities - crazy hours, etc. - has felt like a literal blur. Truly. I mean, we are "in it" on a daily basis, so... it gets past us, ya know? Museum one day - home baking cookies the next - trying to get out to see a movie without kids the next - family dinner after that.... and on and on. Well, today it all ended, and we went back to the bulk of the school year (that's right - NOT half over yet) with a new year on the calendar, feeling (hopefully) refreshed and ready to begin new projects (and, if you're me, finish way old ones ;-).

So ... as is the case with most new years, new starts or - who am I kidding?? - new weeks, in general, my brain is filled with a bunch of random stuff. Foremost in my mind? The happy fact that Hidden Valley ski resort now has care for the younger kids. When we went in previous years, any little ones under 4 (and I've had a few) had nowhere to go aside from a random craft or snack gathering in one of the rooms in the very small lodge there. Now.... kids 2 - 6 years old can stay all day in the "Powder Pups" room where they will do, presumably, fun indoor activities while the "big people" ski :-). I have Lil signed up for MLK weekend.

Next? The fact that REM has a new album coming out 8 March 2011. Not sure how I feel about it. LOVE REM,but... have not been overly impressed with recent releases. I hear Eddie Vedder (of Pearl Jam, of course) is on this one. At one time, I thought he was a bit of a cry baby, but... after seeing his great tribute to REM when they were inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame (Hi, Cleveland :-) a few years ago, his speech was just so great, and.... I decided to give him another chance ;-). Anyway.... we'll see.....

And.... this just in..... Applauding a mother I just saw on the Today Show who wrote the book My Princess Boy in response to her 4 (now 5) year old boy's love of dresses and anything pink or sparkly and... his conviction to actually wear such outfits, often to the dismay of his classmates, family and other peers. His mom, in a brave show of support, has written a book to help other kids struggling with acceptance and / or bullying for their individuality. A lesson for us all, I think. I just remember feeling total acceptance for all my quirks when I went to my Montessori school, but... as soon as I moved and went to public school.... not so much. I know kids, now, who have left the comfort of their smaller private grade and middle schools to go to larger high schools where bullying or teasing for all sorts of things exists - from the way people dress to the activities they do - if they are, at all, different than their peers. So.... like I said.... applauding her today.

And, lastly, I am a little freaked that I just heard a comedian, Greg Giraldo, who I really like died like two months ago. I had no idea - have been laughing at him for years now. Anyway ... it was another prescription drug overdose, which just scares me. I mean, what are people thinking when they abuse themselves in such a way - taking drugs that are legal but can causes serious damage??? Sad.

So .... yeah - the New Year. Oh - and all those resolutions..... Hubby hitting the gym this am (all energetic,basking in the Steelers recent big win :-) - the teen asked me to pack her a healthy lunch today, and... me.... well..... I finally made a couple of silly, check up appointments that I have not had time for all year (the three little ones could care less - aside from resuming their regular routine). Time to check off that "to do" list and time to get healthy and stay active. We'll see how long that lasts for all of us, huh? ;-)

Speaking of such resolutions, I will be cleaning up Christmas for the rest of the day.... trying to get and stay organized along the way. Happy day to all of you, btw! 2011. Bring it!

Photo: Hubby and his band - circa 1995 (in the spirit of reminiscing over the holidays, this photo & an accompanying newspaper article emerged from somewhere).

02 January 2011

One person's New Year's Day is not another's.

So ... we spent the day doing a little shopping - using some gift cards, preparing for the barrage of January birthdays on the horizon and... just taking in the last bit of holiday without the crazy crowds. It was nice to have our teen with us, enjoying a lucrative and stress-free shopping outing. It was even fun to do the whole "mall experience" - the food court "Five Guys" burgers, pizza, chicken and sodas (a little junk to start off the New Year - good thing diet is not on our resolution list ;-).

A couple of highlights to the day? My teen saying, "Oh no - why are THEY in here?" as we shopped Victoria's Secret, and I turned in time to see hubby, with all three kids running around him, holding up a sweatshirt and saying, "Did you see that they have Steelers stuff?" in a loud voice. Too funny. Another highlight was the teen running from hubby when he tried on his new brimmed hat with warm side flaps and did a little shopper's dance of joy, '80s style, in Nordstrom. Again, way funny.

I sat with my wee ones a bit.... drank iced soy chai and watched Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph with them, allowing the other two to shop with their cards and have some downtime (where IS that hubby - where IS that teen?). My downtime came later when I got ALL kids in bed and hubby went to practice (jam session, right musician friends?) with his old bandmates; I did chick flicks and hot tea propped up in bed.

Even our family dinner went well :-).

Photos: Scenes from a mall.

01 January 2011

Welcome 2011

Not that 2010 was bad; it was actually quite good. I am just anxious to start a new year - I really am (I am also anxious for everyone's "winter break" to end - schlepping teenagers from shopping to movies to sleepovers is getting old as is trying to pick up the remnants of Christmas AND keep all three little ones fed and occupied and in clean clothes and on some semblance of a schedule - I mean, they wanted chips for breakfast today and I allowed it.... uh oh).

So what did you do to ring in the new year? Hubby and I went to the gym together yesterday (at which time, I carried my new Adidas by Stella McCartney gym bag :-) - browsed Anthropologie a bit - hit Whole Foods for some treats - and had lunch at BrGr (see photo - and, yes, that really is a side of gravy, friends, with my turkey burger, which tastes like Thanksgiving on a bun - yum - glad I strayed from my "tree hugger" veggie version for a day - and hubby is partaking of the Festivus ale, which was very mild and tasty...). Anyway - a nice day. We came home, fed our wee ones, sent the teen up the street to her annual get together, and... made ourselves some eggnog and a blackberry crumble with fresh whipped cream while we watched The American (which was OK)...... we are boring, but we know what we like ;-). Of course, there was the texting Happy New Year to Olivia at midnight - the countdown with hubby here - the quiet (aside from some neighbor's fireworks) otherwise :-).

So ... have a pleasant day, all. I know everyone's eyes are on the rain and the pending "Winter Classic" hockey game, so... good luck with all that ;-). We are off to dinner with family later - have a lot of laundry catch-up and Good Will bag packing to do (all those discarded and forgotten toys - tsk tsk).

2011. Wow.