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


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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


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.