Saturday, October 16, 2010

What We're Reading

I love holidays. And one of our family traditions is to curve our reading list to go along with the season. Whether it be Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter, we have books that we bring out to help us celebrate the occasion. So, here are some of our favorites for Halloween. I'd love to hear if you have any. I'm always on the lookout for a great children's book. Please feel free to share your favorites in comments. Here's to curling up with some hot cider and your favorite little goblins. Happy spooking to everyone!


Our number one favorite is I'm Not Afraid of This Haunted House by Laurie Friedman and Teresa Murfin.

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Who could resist the lovely rhyme of Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler?

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The seasons books by Jimmy Pickering are delightful in their illustrations. Right now, we are reading It's Fall.

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Mouse's First Halloween by Lauren Thompson and Buket Erdogan is one of R's favorites. She loves to make the Eeekkk noise.

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A Very Brave Witch by Allison McGhee and Harry Bliss.

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R loves to turn the flaps in the pop up book, I'm Going to Eat You by Matt Miter and Jimmy Pickering.

I'm Going to Eat You, A Spooky Pop-Up Book (A Pop-Up Flap Book)

Of course, B and A now read some holiday chapter books by themselves. Some of these include The Best Halloween Ever by Barbara Robinson.

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And Magic Tree House's A Good Night for Ghosts. (They won't give this series up even though they've been reading it since first grade. What can I say?)

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There are a few more, but these are the favorites for now. Can't wait to hear yours!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Here

He is out on the field with his new team. The A team. The team he was moved up to this year. The team that was ranked number one in the top bracket of boys U9 travel soccer teams in this area. The competition is fierce. Everyone at this level wants to win.

He was a leader on his old team. He had unending confidence in his abilities.

Here, he doubts himself. You can see it in his play. On his face.

Here, he is wondering where he fits in.

As he told me yesterday, here, he feels the need to impress someone. I asked him whom he needed to impress. He is not sure. But, he feels the pressure still.

On this team, the boys will turn on each other for errors.

He misses a defensive opportunity.

Damn.

He is off his game today.

His little round face. It looks over to me on the sideline. Reassurance?

He looks little and big all at the same time. It’s what eight and a half looks like. That place right in between.

I want to yell that it’s just a game. Something to be played for fun. But, I know how important it is to him. How hard he works. How much he loves it.

He is a good athlete. He will settle in eventually.

It’s one of those hard moments when there is little we can do as parents to secure them any more. He is out in the world now. He has to face his successes and his failures. But, as his mother, it is hard to see him out there struggling. Trying.

The season has just started. There is plenty of time to adjust.

His life has just started. And there are many mountains ahead of him.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Boiling Point

Pressure.

It’s everywhere when it comes to raising children these days.

Both of my eight year olds play travel soccer. They each practice twice a week and have games on the weekend. Yet, some of the children on their teams are now attending extra practices. Just to try and improve. Some more. It is not mandated by the coaches or requested by the children. But, their parents are taking them. Sometimes, B and A will make a comment about it. I tell them not to worry about it. They get loads of practice in already.

Pressure.

Every one of the boys on my son’s soccer team is also playing fall baseball or football. That’s in addition to the travel soccer. This year, we told B that he had to take the fall off from baseball because his sister started playing and traveling also. Our family (me) needed to see if we could manage this new schedule. Travel tryouts for baseball are this year for him. Will he be behind the curve now? I’m not sure.

Pressure.

We attended their school curriculum night on Tuesday. Most of the other mothers that I talked to the next day were not pleased with how things went. People are disappointed in the pace for this year’s learning. They are hoping for more of a private school experience at a public institution. There was lots of discussion regarding the extra work that will have to be done at home to get the desired results. In order for them to be competitive when it comes to college enrollment. They are currently eight.

Pressure.

When we were young, we did an activity because it sounded like fun. Because we were interested in it. Maybe we did one thing at a time. Throughout my childhood, I took ballet lessons, played softball, swam on the swim team, participated in girl scouts and was in cheerleading. I loved these activities. They were fun. But, I never had more than one going at any given time. We did not come home from school and race around from one thing to the next. We never ate dinner in the car. I just wonder if these kids are going to burn out before they even get to high school. It’s my sneaking suspicion that they might.

So, I try to place limits. Let some of the steam out of the pan. I refuse to drive them crazy at this early of an age about these things. Thus, why we opt out of the extra practices and the extra sport for now. Thus, why A had to let girl scouts go this year when she chose travel soccer and orchestra. Give and take. I’m not sure where everyone is heading with all of this. The constant push. The constant quest for more. They want the superstar athlete on multiple teams. They want the A+ student that is Harvard bound. They want it all. I just wonder. What do these children want?

No pressure.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Here and Gone

This summer was a bit different from those in the past. I was disappointed at the start of it in June. We had a few camps to participate in. We were still adhering to our sports schedules as they wrapped up for the season. It didn’t feel all that different from how busy we were during the school year.

I longed for a little escape. I wanted a way to pare things down. I yearned for my children to have an old fashioned summer.

You know the type. I’m sure you had them yourselves. I wanted them to discover nature and what it had to offer. I wanted their toes to touch sand and run through grass. I wanted them to fish and swim and enjoy lakes or oceans. I hoped for them to be active on bicycles and water skis. I wanted long, lazy days figuring out what came next. If we could do all that with almost abandoning technology, that would be great.

And so we did.

We had to leave our house and travel for over a month to do it. But, we made it all happen for ourselves and for them.

Our first trip was out east. We headed to Cape Cod for a little over two weeks. The children swam in the ocean and in pools. They ran on beaches with nets catching hermit crabs and discovering seashells.


We were out on the water discovering these beautiful creatures.


They ate seafood until they were about to bust. We saw a great Cape League baseball game (go Chatham A’s!) where you did not need a ticket to attend and a hat was passed for a small donation. All great stuff.

We returned home for 3 days and then my sister and I headed to the opposite coast and took all six children to California. There, we stayed for a few quick days at a family members beach house. Pretty cool experience to see both oceans in one month! But, the majority of our trip took place at a lake house in Lake Arrowhead. We rode in the boat all day long. The kids swam in the lake. All but the two youngest learned how to wake board.

They were so brave and willing to try. The adults had great conversations on the deck at night, which included lots of wine and no mosquitoes! The children had two weeks that were one big sleepover with their cousins. Does it get any better than that? I don’t think so.

I know escaping is not going to be possible every summer. And it makes me a little sad that I feel like I have to run away from our life in order to get things to settle down a little. However, I was actually looking forward to seeing people when we got back. I didn’t mind the activities as they started up or the calls for play dates quite as much. We needed to recharge. And any time that I can spend just enjoying my children being children is worth the time and effort.

They started school at the end of last week. So, while it was great to be away and while we packed a lifetime into one summer, it really made time fly by. We did not do the summer things we typically do at home. In a sense, it felt all the more fleeting. I guess when you are spending time with people you love, whether at home or away, you can never get enough. It escapes us before we are ready to let it go. Just their presence each day made me happy. And the ability for me to be present was worth every effort.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

100 Things About Me

Time to celebrate! This is officially my 100th post. One of the reasons I have not posted in a while is that I wanted to do a 100 Things About Me list that is somewhat of a blogging tradition. And to be honest, I am also disappointed that it took me over a year to get to 100 posts. I should have reached this deadline somewhere around, oh, month four. Oh well, real life has a way of butting in to the best laid plans. So, without further ado, here is my list. Raise your glass with me now... Here is a toast to small accomplishments and to posting on a more regular basis from here forth!

100 Things About Me

  1. I am not good at thinking about myself. So, this list is hard for me. Maybe that’s why it’s taken so long to write.
  2. I love to write. When I grow up, I want to be a published children’s author.
  3. I started off as a Journalism major in college and then moved on to Marketing.
  4. I was going to be a copywriter. However, I ended up on the account side and hated every non creative minute of it.
  5. I am now a stay at home mom and I love (almost) every minute of it.
  6. I have three children.
  7. I have twins (boy/girl) who are eight and a three-year-old girl.
  8. Somewhere, deep down, I have always known I would have twins.
  9. One of the things I am most proud of is taking care of them without any help from the beginning.
  10. I feel like I have parented my twins in the exact way I always envisioned and dreamed of mothering.
  11. I feel like I have done the opposite with my third and I can’t get over the guilt of that.
  12. I feel guilty about everything. Parenting, relationships, use of time you name it and I can get some guilt going.
  13. I have been with my husband since I was 16.
  14. We started dating in high school.
  15. I was married when I was 20 years old. When you know, you know.
  16. That makes us married for 15 years already.
  17. I hate that when I tell people how long we’ve been married, I think they’ll believe I’m at least 40.
  18. I have good hair. It’s very thick and takes about 20 minutes to blow dry, which I groan about all the time.
  19. My eyes are brown. Everyone in my extended family has the same brown eyes. None of my children have them. Not a one. I still can’t believe it.
  20. Both B and A have a chin dimple, just like me. At the hospital, it was how I felt I knew they were really mine. R has a cheek dimple. It’s absolutely adorable.
  21. Chocolate. Is there anything better? I don’t think so.
  22. I don’t drink soda or anything with caffeine in it.
  23. I absolutely hate coffee and never drink it.
  24. Hot tea is my morning drink. I also love the ritual of afternoon tea. My mom and sister and I have gone forever. We now bring our girls.
  25. I hate sushi and I don’t care if it’s trendy or not. Why eat something raw and slimy, squishy? This is me-gagging.
  26. Even at 35, I cannot drink orange juice with pulp. I’m embarrassed to admit that I will seriously freak out.
  27. I love to cook. I am actually pretty good at it. Perhaps it’s from watching the Food Network constantly.
  28. I hate reality TV with one exception, Real Housewives of New York. And I don’t know if we can really count that as reality. But, it’s trash and I love it.
  29. Books. I love books.
  30. I recently bought an e-reader and I don’t like it. The smell of the paper, the turning of the page between your fingers. the knowing how much you have left to go, the writing in the columns or highlighting something that is so moving you can’t lose it- it’s all gone.
  31. Technology and me do not always get along. However, try to pry my iPhone out of my hands and I might take you down.
  32. I crave structure and organization. Sometimes, if my house is a mess, I can’t think clearly until things are back in order.
  33. Since I’ve had children, I feel dumb. My mind is not the same and one of my biggest fears is that it’s not going to come back.
  34. Laundry sucks. I am bad at it. We have mounds that I avoid doing at all costs. Someone please tell it to go away and leave me alone…
  35. One of the things that freak me out most in this world is the stomach flu. I cannot deal with throw up. At. All.
  36. I am considered to be on the shorter side at 5’ 3”. In my head, I am at least 5’ 6”.
  37. I have needed glasses since I was in 2nd grade. However, you will only ever see me in them if I am dying. Thank God for who ever invented the contact lens.
  38. I have never in my life worn lipstick. I just can’t do it. The makeup trend I am most happy about is lip-gloss. One time I spent almost an hour at the makeup counter trying to find a lipstick that would work and the girl ended up saying “You know, you’re right. This doesn’t work on you.”
  39. In good makeup news, I look like I wear a pretty light brown eye shadow but it’s really just my eyelid color.
  40. I think the good coloring comes from my Croatian and Czech side of the family and not the French side.
  41. My parents have been married for 41 years. They are so close.
  42. My grandparents have been married for 65 years. They are not close.
  43. I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago.
  44. I am a city girl at heart.
  45. We have a perpetuance to move, but have lived in our current house for 4 years. I am antsy to move again. Damn recession and real estate market.
  46. The best time of my life was when we lived in NYC. Every day was exciting.
  47. I want to live in Europe at some point.
  48. I want to learn Italian so badly.
  49. I love music. I love the symphony. The first time I went, I almost cried it was so moving. However, I am not the least bit musically inclined. I am a poor singer and cannot read music at all. I think I may be tone deaf.
  50. On a similar note, I hate the opera. I just completely do not get it.
  51. Lately, we have begun to really learn about wine. I love red wine. The whites, I can do without. But nothing is better than opening a bottle of cabernet or pinot on a Friday and cooking and chatting with my husband about the week. Or sharing several bottles with friends on the patio.
  52. I like to entertain. I love having friends and family around us.
  53. My husband is my educator. He keeps me up to date on what is happening in the real world. Without him, I would be all Sesame Street and Sweet Life mumbo jumbo.
  54. We love to travel together.
  55. He is the keeper of my sanity.
  56. Right now, I can’t believe I am only a little over half way done with this list.
  57. In high school, I was a cheerleader and on prom court. How cheesy is that?
  58. I had a good high school experience. However, I only keep in touch with two friends from then.
  59. Most of my friends are from college and adulthood.
  60. When I was 10, my grandparents took a trip to the east coast. They were stopping in Boston. I begged them to get me a Harvard sweatshirt. It was my absolute dream at the time to go there. I wore that sweatshirt constantly for years. I wish I still had it.
  61. At that time, I also would tell grown ups that I wanted to be a Republican senator when I grew up. Who was this kid???
  62. My parents asked me to go to U of I in Champaign instead.
  63. My sophomore year, I withdrew from classes without telling them. I knew I did not want to be there. It is by far one of the single bravest things I have ever done. And one of the things I am most proud of.
  64. I ended up attending an art school in the city and loved every single minute of it. My only regret is that I did not start there as a freshman. You live and you learn. That’s what college is about. Finding your self.
  65. I feel guilty now that my parents paid for a college degree and I stay at home and am not using it.
  66. In similar news, I am completely jealous that my husband had the opportunity to go back to school for his MBA. Not jealous about the MBA, just the school thing.
  67. I am a complete math idiot. My 8 year old son, who is a math wiz like his daddy, can calculate faster in his head than I can. I, unfortunately, am not joking.
  68. I am artistically inclined. I can draw pretty well. I have a more difficult time painting. However, I would love to study it and improve. That’s the type of thing I would choose to go back to school to do.
  69. I hate thinking about money. I don’t manage ours at all.
  70. I am always trying to improve myself.
  71. I put everything I am into being a good mother. My most important goal in life is to raise good people.
  72. I hope I will always be close and have a good relationship with my children.
  73. I fear my heart will literally break the day they leave me to embark on their own lives.
  74. I love to take pictures. I wish I were better at it. I marvel at people that can take amazing photographs.
  75. I think everyone should give back to the universe in some way. I have tried to install philanthropy into my children.
  76. My favorite time of the day is early morning. I have always gotten up early and love to be downstairs by myself. I find it very calm and peaceful.
  77. I wish I could live by the ocean. It centers me and instills a sense a calm.
  78. I have anxiety issues. They suck.
  79. I drive a huge, honking SUV. I know it guzzles up gas by the mile etc. etc. Hate me if you want, but it works perfectly for us for now. One of the things I have resisted the most is driving a minivan. I just can’t make myself do it.
  80. I live in my car, but hardly put any miles on it. I just run around our little town constantly.
  81. I hate roller coasters and scary movies.
  82. I collect quotes.
  83. When I look at my children, I can’t believe how beautiful they are.
  84. When I listen to them, I can’t believe how funny they are.
  85. I am naturally pretty athletic. I get it from my dad. However, I am horribly out of shape right now.
  86. I have a knack for interior design. So, I have helped almost all of my friends and family do their houses for free. My husband believes I should open a business instead. He thinks about most things in terms of business opportunity. I do not.
  87. I have one sister. I love her dearly. We are almost complete opposites. I am the older sibling. I am totally the quintessential older sibling. I would like a chance to be the baby for once, but I don’t think I have it in me.
  88. I’ve always been unbelievable responsible and old for my age. My daughter, A, is the same exact way.
  89. I always wanted an older brother. How cool would that be?
  90. I love having a son. It’s fun to watch him. He is easy and laid back and so sweet.
  91. When I found out I was having twins, I just wanted one of them to be a girl. I couldn’t imagine not having a daughter.
  92. I am on a constant quest for happiness.
  93. I hate scrapbooking. Yet, I did one for my twins first year and feel obligated to do a book for R. She is almost four and I haven’t started it yet. It’s hanging over my head.
  94. I think one of the reasons I haven’t done it is that I have a hard time remembering any of R’s babyhood, not to mention the specifics of when she did what. I, of course, feel tremendous guilt about this.
  95. I have lost my wedding ring. I worried for a year and a half that this was a jinx.
  96. I did not vote for Obama.
  97. Blue is my favorite color and I do not have anything blue in my house.
  98. I never go for the bad boy or the dumb jock. The guy in the business suit turns me on every time.
  99. I am grateful for what I have.
  100. I live a blessed life.

Monday, July 19, 2010

MIA

Yes, I'll admit it. I have been MIA this summer so far. I can't even believe that my last post was over a month ago.

I was looking forward to the lazy days of summer. So far, they've been anything but that.

In June, it was all about wrapping up school, soccer, baseball, softball and a few camps that the kids were in.

July has been my escape. OUR escape from it all.

We took a two week family road trip out east to Cape Cod. It was fantastic. Relaxing. It finally felt like summer. I had my children and my husband for two weeks with limited interruptions.

We've been home for a few days now and are set to leave again tomorrow for 10 days on the other coast. This time, my sister and I are taking the kids to California. We have relatives out there and they've never been. It should be a blast. This will be my first vacation with just myself and the kids. Keep your fingers crossed that I can make it parenting by myself for 10 WHOLE days! I'm both really excited and very nervous all at the same time.

I think this is what it's come down to these days. We have to leave our home in order to get a break. Sad, but true. When I come back, it will be August. There have been good and bad points from spending the summer traveling. With the good comes time and focus. You can really pair down and refocus on what is important. No play dates. No activities. No DS. Little TV.

Just kids being kids.

A net to pull up the wonders of the sea, such as hermit crabs and shells.

A boat to watch the seals from.

An ocean to discover.

Long walks.

Long talks.

My idea of bliss.

The downside to all of this is that we have yet to go on a family bike ride here at home. The sidewalk chalk and bubbles have gotten limited use thus far. And all of those summer crafts are still waiting to be worked on.

And that's fine by me. While I love my time during the summer at home with the kids, I'll take their full time and attention any day over it. I'm excited for them that they have these opportunities to see the world.

So, hope you are all enjoying your summer thus far! I won't be posting again until Aug 1st. Please forgive me and hang in here with me if you can. I, like most of you, have little people to attend to and time to grab. And for that, I don't want to be MIA.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Breakfast Time

During the week, our mornings are tough. Some little ones are up at the crack of dawn. I am constantly urging them to sleep longer, come cuddle up. Others do not care to get up at all and would sleep the day away, wrapped up in their comforters and under their mounds of pillows lost in contentment. It’s a struggle to get up, get ready and get three children out of the door. Needless to say, my weekday morning breakfasts are not of a great caliber.

Typically, the children are served a bowl of cereal, a glass of orange juice, sometimes with a side of fruit (if I have my act together) or a bagel or toast if they are having carb overload cravings. That is it. Nothing hot. No protein. No requests. I just can’t manage it. I have friends that perform short order cook duty each weekday morning. They send their troops out of the house only after serving up pancakes, eggs, bacon, egg sandwiches, oatmeal, homemade muffins or whatever the request may be. Not here. I’m kind of a stickler about it. Never going to happen.

However, the weekend is almost the complete opposite. I cherish breakfast time on the weekends. Perhaps, it’s that my husband is home to share the duties and just to make me happy. Perhaps, it’s because we are not in as much of a rush.

We always play music. Calm, happy music. It sets the tone. It helps to establish the mood for the day. When B and A were little, we always danced in the kitchen on Sunday mornings. We still do sometimes.

T is our pancake man. He whips them up every weekend. Blueberry for me. Chocolate chip for the kids. I’m on egg duty. There is oatmeal, if requested. Toast. Bacon sometimes. We talk. We eat slowly. We dance. The paper is out. My son is now fighting my husband for the sports page. My daughters giggle over the comics. T and I have a second to discuss something interesting we may read about.

They are still in their pjs. Their hair is tussled and messy. They are sticky with syrup. Sweet on the inside and out. When I sort their clothes to pass on or save, it’s the jamies that I keep mostly. It’s what they are wearing on mornings like these. They are worn and tight sometimes. Their chubby feet poking out of the bottoms. Always looking a few inches short on my daughter’s long legs. R the only one still in those soft blanket sleepers. The sandpaper scruffy sound of the feet bottoms on the hardwood floors.

Long after everyone’s gone, it’s one of the things I think I will always remember about our children being at home. Those relaxed weekend mornings. The complete yin to the yang of the weekday.



Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Dash

Soccer practice twice a week for two children at different times.

Softball games three times a week.

Baseball practice twice a week.

Ballet practice once a week for the smallest child.

A recital upcoming. Pictures, dress rehearsal and a small gathering at our house afterwards.

Piano lessons for two children, plus practice time.

Girl Scouts every other week.

Gymnastics every Wednesday.

School pick up and drop off every day twice a day.

Preschool twice a week.

At least two and possibly up to four soccer games each weekend.

A tournament in two weeks that our soccer club is hosting and requiring each family to volunteer 6 hours working.

The art fair project at school that I volunteer for each year.

End of year teacher gifts to coordinate.

Field trip next week to chaperone.

The second grade sing at school.

Volunteer breakfast at school next week.

Girl's softball game with PE teachers after school next week.

It’s ok. I got this.


I look at this time of year, the hell that has become known as May, as a mad dash. If I can just hang in there and not have my legs give out, I can make it. Make it to the finish line. The end of the school year. I will promptly say goodbye and suck it to that horrid schedule. To the demands on our family’s time. To the running. To the craziness. And into the bliss of summer.

Carefree.

Sunshine.

Here we come.

Head down.

Finish line in sight…

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Remembering when...

Remember when we could sleep late?

Remember when we would go to restaurants that adults frequented? The ones without crayons or paper tablecloths.

Remember when we could cuddle in bed in the morning with no one in between us?

Remember when I could get dressed without dressing 3 other people at the same time?

Remember our conversations that lingered and dissected our life and our future?

Remember dreaming with the one you love?

Remember no interruptions?

Remember you and I?

Holding hands.

A glass of wine. And then another.

Truly seeing you for the first time in… too long.

Reconnecting with my friend. Being reintroduced to my boyfriend.

All these things and more are what leaving our three children behind and running away for a long weekend with you gave me. It also told me that it’s still you. It will always be you. Thank you for fifteen wonderful years. Happy Anniversary, T.

All of my love…

~L

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Teeter-Totter

Stress is like a teeter-totter. The more things pile on in one area, the closer you get to hitting rock bottom. The less you have on your side, the higher the ride. Most of us would like to be somewhere in the middle. To achieve balance. That is difficult on the teeter-totter. It’s hard to stay centered. A little twinge this way, a wiggle that way and the weight gets thrown off.

Up or down you go.

Riding through life.

Up and down.

Up and down.

Soaring. Failing. Exuberance. Defeat. Contentment. Resign. Where will the ride take me today? Perhaps, if I push a little harder, I can get some great air up there.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Cable Guy

We changed cable companies for the millionth time. After waiting 4 hours yesterday, the first guy came and set it all up incorrectly. He gave us the wrong type of boxes and didn’t set up the Internet. He told me that we requested it to be set up ourselves. I assured him that we would not normally make such a request-perhaps, because we are not technically savvy. He disagreed and said that must have been what my husband wanted. I said, well since I’m the one here with you, we’re going to override that thought and have you set it up. He informed me that would require another appointment. Proceed with deep breathing techniques…

On day two of the cable saga, I learn that Zac Efron is my new cable guy. No kidding. He walked up my driveway and it took all my restraint not to bust out with “hey, did anyone ever tell you that you look like…” I’m sure he gets it a lot.

As Zac is walking into the house with me, the kids are standing there looking at him. I swear they were about to ask him themselves. He mutters hi to A. Then walks past B just as R jumps out from behind the door he was about to knock into her. He says, “Oh, there’s another one.” Yes sir, Zac. You have to watch it around here. These little kids are everywhere.

We are in the family room and I explain the problem to him. He begins fiddling with the cable box and graciously points out to me that something or another is not plugged into the right spot. I am not sure what yesterday’s cable guy did, so I say just go ahead and do whatever you need to. I walk into the chaos of the kitchen (we had just arrived home from school as he was pulling up) and begin trying to help B and A with homework before we have to leave for soccer practice. Zac gets a call on his phone from a friend. He just starts chatting away and at one point goes “Dude, I can’t even hear you it’s so loud in here.” Again, yes, children are noisy. Especially when they just get home from school.

So, he goes upstairs and starts working on the box up in the master bedroom. In the meantime, I am trying to get B and A into their soccer uniforms for practice. There was some confusion on where certain shirts and socks were located. I go up there to see if he’s almost finished and notice that someone had dumped the entire laundry basket out onto the floor of my bedroom. Perhaps a certain someone looking for a soccer jersey… So, scattered all over the floor were clothes and underwear and last, but not least, one of my bras spread out directly in front of the TV set where Zac was trying to hook up my DVR. I believe I said something intelligent when I walked into the room like “What the hell?” Zac just shrugged as I, with warp speed, picked up all of the laundry and deposited it back into the hamper.

I return downstairs and begin to get the kiddos into the car when I hear him calling “Miss? Miss?” He needed me to sign the paperwork. At least Zac threw me a bone and called me Miss instead of the dreaded Ma’am. For that, I could have kissed him. But, I figured Vanessa was surely waiting in the van. And I did have that soccer practice to run to and my youth and dignity to find somewhere…

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Little Snippets 5

R: Mommy, is it time to put my ballet-it-tard on now?

Me: What??

R: Time for the ballet-it-tard now? I want to go to ballet!

Me: Do you mean your leotard for ballet?

R: Yeah, my ballet-it-tard.

We had a book fair at school last week. They are kind enough to include books for small children in the fair so that siblings can have something to pick out also. So, we found a book about an iguana for R. All three children have been somewhat obsessed with iguanas after our February trip, where we were able to see lots of them up close and personal. In the car on the way home, R is reading her book. She starts calling it an ig-u-na-na. I think I must have corrected her about 12 times. No matter what, she either couldn’t or wouldn’t correct her pronunciation of it. I have to say, in that little voice the ig-u-na-na was hysterical. B, A and myself couldn’t stop the giggles.

R has reached the exact height of all counter tops, doorknobs, tables etc. Anything and everything that you could possibly run into, she is these days. I feel sorry for her little head. This weekend, she hit the granite in the kitchen and the post of a soccer goal on Sunday. She walked into the grill on the patio yesterday. Running into school to get B and A, she collided with the metal tab that sticks out from the handle on the door. I swear I am contemplating a helmet for her. As we are grocery shopping the other day, she turns and whacks her head onto the cart handle. I am consoling her when an older woman walks up to us. She tells R not to worry she just needs to grow two more inches and she’ll be fine-so, get on it! R and I sat and stared as she walked off.


I am coming up on my 100th post soon. (Yay! Cue the confetti and balloons!) This is a small milestone for lots of bloggers. So, I was wondering what you all did to celebrate your 100th post. I am contemplating the traditional 100 things you don't know about me list, but am open to other suggestions. Mainly because I don't know if I can come up with 100 things that are even remotely interesting. So, please, by all means suggest away.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dress Up

In May, B and A will make their First Communion. As many of you know, this usually entails a beautiful white dress for the girls and jacket and tie for the boys. So, a few weeks ago, we started looking for their attire.

There is a darling bridal store in the town next door to ours. Just the kind of place you’d dream about when planning a wedding. They carry the most exquisite dresses, jewelry and hair accessories. It almost makes you want to do it all over again. But this time with the elegant and refined taste that comes with your thirties and not your twenties. They also carry adorable flower girl dresses.

After striking out at the department stores with overly sequenced and tuelled dresses, we opted for a trip over there. I wanted something classic. Something simple. Something that suited A. And we found just that at this store. It is a beautiful dress with pretty lace over silk on top and the silk continues on the skirt below with a bow at the waist. Tiny pearl buttons close up the back. It is also not white. Gasp! It is more of an ivory color. I know, I know. We are going out on a limb here, but she is a brunette and looks really lovely in an off white versus pure white dress. The woman at the store wanted me to call our religious education director and to see if it would be all right. As her mother, I assured her it would be fine.

We tried on a few veils as well. And, I have to admit, that when she placed that on her head, I had to hold back a few tears. It all came rushing at me. I saw a glimpse of us twenty years from now buying another white dress and veil. I know that time will be here before I’m ready for it. So, for now, we said no to the veil. We are opting for fresh flowers on a barrette instead. I think it’s actually a lot prettier and holds off those wedding visions for me. She is going to look beautiful. Her brown hair and green eyes with the off white dress. So slight and so tiny-she is such a little lady. She will be very elegant on her special day.

While I was excited to shop for and buy A’s dress, I didn’t really think much about B’s outfit. He was supposed to wear the navy blazer that both of his cousins have worn for their First Communions. That means this would be the third time the blazer would be worn. Plus, I hate to admit it, but how many pairs of khaki pants can you buy someone in one lifetime? I feel like I have been buying him some in every size from three months to eight years. Boy’s clothes are just not that exciting.

However, when we actually got the blazer and tried it on, we found it did not even come close to fitting B. His cousins are quite a bit bigger than he is. So, a new navy blazer, dress pants, shirt and tie were needed. We actually took an entire afternoon shopping for his outfit. And I will admit, it was more fun than I anticipated. For the boy who gives me a hard time about putting on a collared shirt at the holidays, he was quite into the process. And when he slipped on that navy jacket and tied the knot on his striped tie, I was misty again. He could not have looked any more like his Dad. The spitting image. So unbelievably handsome. I caught a glimpse of him as an adult. That beautiful face and that kind heart will make some lucky girl swoon someday.

They grow up so fast. I know that is an old cliché. But, I once read somewhere that parenthood makes all the old clichés true…

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Stretching Myself

Life is busy. Hectic. Crazy.

Typical mom stuff.

Typical chaotic pace.

Unfortunately, lately, my mind seems to be running at the same pace as my body. This is not a good thing. I need to find some quiet. Some peace. “Serenity now!” as Mr. Costanza used to say.

So, I’ve been on a quest for some Zen.

While on vacation six weeks ago, I enjoyed a very nice massage in a beautiful spa at our resort. I left feeling tranquil. I walked out into the sunlight and felt the ocean breeze on my face. This resort and spa had a labyrinth set on a cliff overlooking the ocean. I’ve read about idea behind a labyrinth and have always wanted to try one. So, I began walking it. Unfortunately, it rained the day before my spiritual escapade. Therefore, the labyrinth was a bit muddy and I fell walking in the spiral. Completely oiled up from the massage with mud up and down my legs and all over my white swim cover up, I walked to meet my family at the pool.

When I got there, T saw me and started laughing. “What happened?” he asked. “On my path to spirituality, I fell in a mud puddle.” I answered. He thought that would make a great title for a book. It would because it sums up my quest for peace perfectly.

For me, it’s just not that easy to attain calmness. I am a doer-not a sitter stiller. My mind works at warp speed compared to the rest of me. I can think twenty steps ahead of any given situation. This is a great quality when it comes to mothering by the way and an even better quality for a mother of multiples. Over the long term, however, it not a great quality for your well-being. The mind deserves to be quiet at times. Each of us should be able to turn it off for a while and rejuvenate when necessary. I have lost the ability to do this well.

So, even though I fell in some mud, I am trying again. Yesterday, I began an eight-week yoga course. Not the crazy Pilates or Bikram type of yoga. Just the regular- learn to breathe kind of yoga. Because damn it, I can be calm!! I swear.

My class is an hour and fifteen minutes long. We stretched. We held poses. We breathed. A lot. Towards the end of class, we lay on the floor with our palms out and breathed for a long time. I’m not sure of the minute count-she makes us take off our watches. But, it seemed like nearly an eternity on that floor trying not to focus on anything but my body, my breathing and “honoring this time for myself”. I tried hard to fight the to do list piling up in my head. I fought hard the urge to say why am I here when I could be doing ___________. I fought fidgeting. I fought myself. I fought hard. And yesterday, I’m not sure who won the battle. My body or my mind. This war is far from over. But to the victor shall come the rewards.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Spring Break

Ten to fifteen years ago, if you said spring break, it would conjure up images of iced drinks, tanning on the beach all day in a bikini and partying till the wee hours at night. To quote Max from Where the Wild Things Are, “Let the wild rumpus begin.”

It may be apparent by my choice of whom to quote, but things are a little different these days.

Our spring break is going to be marked this year by spring-cleaning projects. Sounds thrilling, no? It has to be done. Our house needs the weeding out. We have now lived here for four years (longest we’ve every lived anywhere!) and it is apparent by the amount of stuff we’ve accumulated.

The closets are bursting at the seams. What can I say? These children keep growing and needing new clothes every season. So, I am behind on my runs to drop off the outgrown to the local charity, boxing up those worth keeping for memories sake and passing on a few items to my niece. The clothing situation-quite a pain in the you know what.

The basement needs to be organized again. Our crafts area is out of control. My husband jokes that instead of Joanne’s or Michael’s, we have Laura’s. I really shouldn’t have to purchase anything until we use up everything we have. It’s a good philosophy that I think I’ll run with. And we so happen to have to turn those First Communion banners in at the end of this week. Yet another way I’ll be spending spring break. Gluing felt and beads onto a religious banner. My twenty something self could never have predicted that one.

The refrigerators have gotten cleaned out. Scrubbed from top to bottom. My china cabinet will be completely emptied and each piece washed and dusted. My mother terms this cleaning the breakfront. I have despised it since I was a child. But, now that I have my own, I realize that it gets dusty in there. Uggh. So, that will be conquered one afternoon.

A more pleasant spring task will be filling my flowerpots with some pansies and forsythia branches. What can I say? Flowers make me happy! They truly do symbolize the first signs of spring and the winter that we need the break from. So, we’ll end the to do list on a positive note. One of my favorite things is to take the kids to the garden center. They love it and so do I. Bring on the spring.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Fresh Perspective

So, it's official.

I have lost control of my iPhone to my three year old.

This girl has moves that you would not believe. She can pick pocket it from me and, I swear, I don't even feel it happening. I hope this is not indicative of a future career that will involve me posting bail.

I will admit, I give it up freely at doctor's offices, basketball, soccer and baseball games, school functions, checkout lines at stores. What can I say? The videos and all of those learning apps really come in handy for a mom in the year 2010.

My last iPhone was broken and I replaced it with this version a few months ago. While in the store, I had to have a discussion with our salesman about which case could provide maximum protection-just in case the device was dropped a time or two. He sold me a rubber like cover that actually has two shock absorbing bands that is proven to absorb the impact when dropped. He must have seen me coming. It cost more, but has been worth every bouncing penny. But, that's what I get for giving my phone to my three year old.

As we walk through stores, people will comment on the fact that R is whooshing her finger and tapping away on the glass front like a pro. She can find whatever you need on the phone. Set up a movie, play an app, take pictures, play music. You name it-there's an R for that. My husband, a huge apple fan, takes this as a testament to how simple these devices are to operate. As her mother, I of course, take it for the fact that she is a three year old genius. But, that's just me.

So, because of her love of the iPhone, he are some shots from R. This is what she does when she's in charge of the phone and bored in stores or on errands. This is her perspective. It's interesting for me to get an inside view from there.


Furniture shopping with my parents, B and A.

Eggs at the grocery store.


Shopping at Target.

From her perspective atop the bleachers during a soccer game.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Spring Fever

Short sleeves. Zip up sweatshirts. Playing outside. Bike rides. Sunshine. The sunroof is open in the car. The tulips and the daffodils are two inches out of the soil.

It’s official; we have spring fever around here.

The past few days in the Chicago area have been full of blue skies, sunshine and 60 degrees. After close to four months of nothing but gray, freezing cold and snow, we couldn’t be happier.

The children are naive enough to think that this is it. Spring has officially arrived.

Suckers.

This is Chicago after all. That is why the weatherman has predicted snow and sleet for Sunday and Monday. But, I can’t bear to tell them what March is really all about. That lion and lamb nonsense. That they haven’t seen the last of the yuck yet. It’s still out there, on the horizon.

Just in time for outdoor soccer to begin. They’ll slosh through torrential rains. They’ll be covered in wet, goopy mud. At the same time, it’ll be freezing cold.

However, the air will smell different. Perhaps, it’s the trees blooming or the grass coming in. The rain will make everything green. It will wash away the drudgery of winter and usher in the true spring for which we are all longing.

What will this breath of fresh air carry with it?

The change that is eminent.

An end to the itch of winter.

The beginning of something.

I hope so. This fever is hot. Send in the rain of renewal.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Little Snippets 4

B: Hey A, did you know that Papa was in Vietnam?!?

A: (wearing Nikes) B, did you know my shoes are made in Vietnam?!?


R in the tub taking her bath.

R: Mommy, will you marry me?

Me: Well, I’m already married to Daddy.

R: But I wuv you sooo much! I wuv you and Daddy!

Me: We love you too.

R: Then can I marry both you and Daddy?

Me: Don’t you want to marry a boy you fall in love with?

R: (thinking for a while) No. I want to marry you and Daddy.

Me: Alright then, I’ll check back with you on that in a few years.


A: Mom are we going tonight to the Orthodontist?

Me: We are not going to the orthodontist. That is the doctor that puts braces on your teeth. We are going to the dermatologist to check on your rash. He is a skin doctor.

A: So we’re going to the dermathodontist tonight then?

Me: What did you call him?

A: The orthotologist?

Me: The dermatologist.

A: Yeah, that’s what I said.

Me: Not even close…

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Focus

Blank.

Empty.

It seems that lately, as I sit down to compose a blog post, my mind goes blank. I stare at my screen. I try to force my thoughts into something coherent-to string together a few words.

For the first time in a long time, it's difficult.

Things are jumbled. I stare at my screen and think only of the list of to dos. It's quite a long list these days. When things get busy in life, I have trouble focusing. Getting out of the mode of that thinking and taking time for myself to be productive in other ways.

I started this post at 5:00 am. My eyes were so tired, I couldn't focus on the screen for a good five minutes. Perhaps that's the problem. Am I giving myself the best opportunity to be successful at this? Or, is it just getting crammed on the to do list like everything else? The problem is, this is about the only thing on that huge list that is mine alone.

I don't want it to be like that. I walk around all day composing blog posts in my head. The children will do something funny. I'll have a little insight somewhere between soccer and the grocery store. But, life with three children happens and that thought gets lost along the way. I should fix the process. I know that. I should make the time for something that is important to me. I know that also.

I am aware of the changes and the focus shift that needs to be made. However, I am in a rut. I need someone to throw me a rope or lend me a hand to pull me out.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Just Another Manic Monday


Crazy morning today. Aren't they all? So, here's a photo from our vacation. This was last Monday. I'm sitting here daydreaming of that blue water and having my husband and children to myself...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Comfort Zone

Travel can bring forth so much emotion. It can fill you with excitement at the possibility of what lies ahead or dread at the unknown. At various times of my life and for various trips, I've fallen into each camp.

When I was 21, T and I went to Europe for the first time. It was thrilling. New cultures, new countries, new languages. Everything was unknown and I loved it. At the time, I was finishing up college and he was already working. So, we went together for 2 weeks and then he had to return to work. I stayed on for 2 more weeks by myself. I didn't mind roaming alone or the seven hour flight by myself home. I was elated at the sense of how much of the world there was to discover.

However, a mere 6 years later, it was a completely different story. T and I were to fly to New York City to check things out for our upcoming move. The flights were booked. The hotel was reserved. This was going to be our first trip alone since we had B and A. It was a tumultuous time in our lives. T was wrapping up graduate school. He was in process of changing careers and things were uncertain as to where we would be living. He was originally hired for the Chicago office, but things changed and we had to go to New York instead. The babies were just a year and we sold our house in four days. I was stressed and facing uncertainty. So, the night before the trip, I had a panic attack and was unable to make myself go. We ended up driving out east with our two babies a few weeks later. Not very rational. Not of sound mind at the time. My sense of adventure was all but quashed. I longed for stability.

Bike riding down the Blue Mountain and through the rain forest in Jamaica was thrilling and terrifying all at the same time. Snorkeling out in the Molokini Crater in Hawaii was breathtaking in it's beauty. Frightening was the mode of transportation that my husband chose for us to get out there. Picture a large inflatable tube boat with a super fast motor. We rode out to the crater straddling the inflated tube, holding onto a strap to keep us on at speeds of 40 mi/hour. We did stop to see that whale a mere 20 feet away. Two emotions-fear and exhilaration all at the same time.

Perhaps, that's what travel does for us. It takes us out of our comfort zones and shows us something new. Something we weren't aware of before that trip. It opens up the world. It introduces us to people and places we didn't even know we would fall in love with. It shows us that if we can get over our fears of the unknown, we may discover something that we were meant to experience. Something that will change who we are and what we can do. Our travels. Our experiences. They make up who we are once we return home.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Adventure Calling

Adventure.

To some, it means climbing mountains or conquering beasts. While, to others, it could be as simple as trying to board an airplane bound for another country at 7 am with three small children in tow.

But, as they say, what is life without a little adventure?

Today, we leave for a remote island. We travel by plane. Flying above the clouds and over the seas. I am blessed with happy, easy going little travelers. We've taken them on trips from the time B and A were a year old. R was nursed at 3 months on board her first flight and has been excited about them ever since.

What awaits us at our destination? Seven bliss filled days of sun, warm weather, white sand beaches and nothing but time together. No must do or must take or must hurry. We are operating on our time. Time for our family to come together. Time for our children to see new things and to be exposed to new cultures.

Time away from the home and lives we love in order to refresh.

The thought is too appealing. I need this trip. The kids and T need this trip. I think everyone I know could use this trip right about now. Winter is hard. Hard on the mind, body and spirit. So, we shall rejuvenate. Leave the gray behind us.

I'm hoping for some great pictures. I'm hoping for even better memories to take back with us. The children are going to see a tropical rain forest for the first time. I have a sense of excitement in the pit of my stomach. It reverberates throughout the plane.

Oh, aren't we fortunate to have this opportunity? This chance for some adventure? Everyone needs a little in their life.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Pure Gold

I have a secret love affair. It makes my heart race. My adrenaline pumps a little harder when I hear that certain music. I feel a rush when I know it’s getting to be that time.

This clandestine affair is with the Olympics. More specifically, the winter Olympics.

During my childhood, I enjoyed watching the Olympics as much as anyone. Figure skating was my favorite. I grew up idolizing the dazzling Rosalynn Sumners. I thought she was just gorgeous! Not to mention the exotic Katarina Witt. My mother cut my hair in the seventies to look like Dorthy Hamil. Was there a little girl who escaped that look back then?

However, my true passion for the games came the winter that B and A were born. In February of 2002, I had my first babies. A week after we brought them home from the hospital, the 2002 games in Salt Lake City began.

As most of you are aware, when you have a brand new baby at home, you are up at all hours day and night. It was during this time that we discovered that they also happen to rebroadcast the Olympics beginning at 11:30 pm until about 4:00 am. This was very convenient for someone awake with newborn twins.

That year, we watched every morsel of Olympic coverage. We were stuck indoors and at home with our new babies. So, we’d start watching the broadcast at 7:00 pm, but would miss some things due to feedings, changings, pacing back and forth. (Did I mention they were colicky? That is surely another post.) Not to worry! We’d watch it all again throughout the night. I felt like Apolo Anton Ono and Sarah Hughes became personal friends.

We watched the opening ceremony and saw the flag from 911 paraded in. And I cried when we watched the closing ceremonies. I felt like I was losing something. What were we to do now? What would keep us awake and alert enough to take care of these two babies all night long? When I say that I cried, I mean real tears. My husband consoled me. He said it wouldn’t matter. We’d find our way without the games. Of course, not having crazy hormones pumping through him and not breastfeeding two babies, he was much more rational about it all. Somehow, we did get through it and the twins started sleeping through the night a month or so later.

I remember thinking that the next time the Olympics would be on; my new babies would be four years old. I laughed thinking about how far away that seemed.

It arrived in a flash.

During the games of 2006, I thought-we can’t be here already. How had four years gone by so quickly? My new babies were little people. Preschoolers. And I had just found out 2 weeks before the games began that I was pregnant again.

Each time the winter Olympics end, I think about B and A and the age they will be at the next games. This year, I realized that they will be twelve. Gulp. That was my heart dropping into my stomach. Twelve. Can that be possible? Having watched their progress throughout the last 3 games, I know how fast those next four years are going to go. In the blink of an eye, they will be twelve. And so on and so on. Twelve is close to being gone. Out of the house. Off to college. It’s much closer to that step than to having them home with me.

So, the Olympics this year have reminded me that at eight I am almost at the half way mark. Half way through them living at home. Half way through my time to teach, to lead, to help grow these people. Again, I question whether or not I am doing well enough. Am I doing all that I can for them? We are often given these opportunities. These touchstones. Something will come along and remind us to check in. To see the progress, the growth. To evaluate how we are doing. For me, the winter Olympics have become one of those touchstones.

But first and foremost, they will always remind me of how it feels to be deliriously happy and content with your arms full of new babies. At home, tucked away from the cold and snow with those that you love. Becoming a family. And that feeling… is pure gold.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Love From Me to You

Red heart doilies. Glitter. Pink, red and white construction paper. Ribbons. Candy conversation hearts.

Our Valentine’s Day was filled with all of the classics.

It’s our tradition that the kids make their valentines. So, this past week they were busy cutting, gluing, and glittering their little hearts out. They made cards for their grandparents and great-grandparents, aunts and uncles. And of course, T and I received one. So much love and thought was put into each one.

We exchanged a small gift. Books all around. Just a little something to say I was thinking of you and I love you.

That night, we made a chocolate fondue for a special Valentine’s dessert. They absolutely love this. What’s not to like? Melted chocolate that you can dip your favorite fruit, marshmallows and cake into. Sounds yummy, right? It sure was.

As we were dipping, we worked our way around the table telling each person one thing we love about them. Here are some of my favorites.

B: I love that dad is my guy.

Me: What do you mean by that?

B: Well Mom, it’s just him and I as the boys around here. So, you know. He’s my guy.

R: I wuv that I can cuddle with Mommy in her big bed. I no like my bed. It’s scary.

A: I love that Daddy is friendly and funny.

A: I love that B is my twin and he’s always there with me.

B: I love that Mommy has a kind heart.

Oh, these are just too good aren’t they? They warmed my heart. They made me happy. Sometimes, that’s the best part of these random little holidays. Yes, card companies and flower shops make them up. But, they can actually force you to slow down in the course of your hectic life and plan a little something with those you love. And remember what that feels like. It’s the reason you do what you do each day.

Because you love them.

It’s simple. Hope you enjoyed your little sweeties yesterday! Here’s to spreading some love…