Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I sit here in the calm after the storm.

The kids are in bed, the wrapping paper in the recycle bin, the garbage is awaiting pick-up by the curb, the leftovers put away and dishes washed. I sit here with a glass of wine able to finally reflect on the day.

I love Christmas, I just hate the work that comes with it. It is a whirl-wind event beginning on Christmas eve that doesn't end until right about now!

We usually "go Catholic" on Christmas Eve and this year was no different. We did, however, manage to go to the early 4:00 family service to get a jump on things. It took quite a bit of coercion to get Megan dressed and out the door, but we did it. We then went to dinner at local Italian restaurant. Dinner was great and despite one spilled lemonade, the girls (baby Emma included) were well behaved. We got home with plenty of time for bath and for the big girls to wrap the presents they had bought each other. We allow them the opportunity to open one gift on Christmas Eve and they decided to open their gifts to one another. I read them the story of Jesus' birth and then Twas the Night Before Christmas, we set out cookies, carrots and milk and they were off to bed!

We waited a bit and then the mad dash to get all presents wrapped and under the tree began. I was paranoid this year that we would get caught, but we were able to get it all done and in bed before 10pm!

Sarah couldn't sleep well and ended up in our bed sometime around 1:30am. The dog wanted to eat around 6:30 so we were up. Megan continued to sleep and didn't join us in bed until after 7am. I went down first with the video camera to capture the moment. We spent the morning opening presents and having breakfast. As soon as I got Emma down for her morning nap, my preparations for dinner began. It was a meal I had made before, so it really didn't require a lot of work, so I went about things fairly relaxed.

My family arrived around 5 and it was so nice to spend time with them. I do feel like I spent way too much of the evening in the kitchen, but what can I do, dinner required my attention. We ate, then opened gifts during dessert. The kids had a great time, and I think the adults did too!

Despite the chaos, I think this was our best Christmas! The kids were well behaved and no one was disappointed with gifts. All were received with great joy and lots of thanks! I loved being able to spend a little time with my brother before he heads back to Dallas tomorrow. He is a great guy and my kids love him. My secret (not so secret anymore) wish for him is that he finds love again and can be happy (anyone know any super terrific, down to earth girls in the Dallas area, let me know)

Well, my wine is almost done and I have been left alone to watch the Christmas lights. It is time to drag my weary self to bed.

"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas cookies

Megan is decorating the Pillsbury sugar cookies out of a tube I bought since I had no time to bake this year. I watch her when she thinks no one is looking. She is looking up at the ceiling and talking in hushed tones. "Santa, I hope you like these cookies, I made them with my own hands. It was very hard work."

So adorable!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Just what I need

I was standing in my kitchen after work the other night having an actual conversation with my husband. He had taken the day off to recuperate from the Steelers' win on Sunday and had spent the morning on a search for our middle child's Christmas present (more on that later). Something caught my eye on the floor by the refrigerator. I looked closer and realized that it was a puddle. A small puddle, only 3 inches in diameter, right under the inside hinge of the freezer door. I quickly grabbed a towel and got to work. I opened the freezer door and more water was sitting at the bottom of the freezer. Nothing seemed defrosted so we began the search for cause of the leak. We pulled the whole unit out from the wall, and nothing. So we jacked up the dial to make things colder and got to work cleaning up the water and the dust and debris from under the fridge.

The hardwood floor in the kitchen was starting to warp already (the warping got even worse by the next morning...I love the look of hardwood, but so impractical for a kitchen). God knows how long this slow thaw had been happening. I sent Pat down to the unfinished basement to see if the water damage had seeped all the way through the floor. Luckily, it had not.

We knew that the fridge was on it's last legs and had already planned on using our tax refund in the spring to cover the cost of a new one. Now, I need to shop for one before Christmas...totally not what I want to be doing right now. I am so far behind in preparation for Christmas, that this is going to totally derail me!! We cannot put it off any longer; the last thing I need is for it to completely go while we are out of town visiting the in-laws.

So, I will be taking the day off tomorrow to finish my Christmas shopping so that on Saturday I can go buy a refrigerator. Merry Christmas to me!!

We did tell the girls that we were going to tell Santa to scrap the individual presents this year and just get the family a new refrigerator. She was such a trooper and faked like it was ok but I could see the disappointment on her face. When I told her I was kidding, she was extremely relieved!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Broken Memories

Last Christmas I was pregnant with our third child. It was hard to get the motivation to do much, but my then 3 and half year old was finally excited about Christmas and I was determined to enjoy it with her (and her 6 and a half year old sister). We went out as a family and selected a wonderful Douglas fir that met with everyone’s approval. That alone is a major accomplishment! My husband brought the tree in and it stood in the corner of the family room. After a great deal of twisting and turning, we finally agreed on which side of the tree looked best. Out came the ornaments and lights and we began the process of trimming the tree. The majority of the ornaments on this tree are either from my own childhood, special purchases for family milestones or vacations, gifts to the girls, or treasures handmade by them. I carefully took out each ornament one at a time and explained to the girls the significance of each one, its history and meaning. After about 15 minutes, they were done with the activity and I was left to finish the decorating myself. I enjoy it and love to reminisce when I come across the “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments or the one from the year we got engaged at my parents Christmas party.

Finally, the tree was done and I could sit back and enjoy my handiwork. We sat around the family room that night and ooh-ed and ah-ed over the beautiful tree.

At some point in the middle of the night, I awoke to a noise. I was pregnant at the time and wasn’t sleeping well, so I was not sure if it was the dog I heard, or if I was imagining things. My husband did not move a muscle, so I assumed I was imagining things.

I woke in the morning and began my routine to get ready for work. I fed the dog, started the coffee and began making lunches. It wasn’t until I went to turn on the morning news that my heart sank into the pit of my stomach. My husband heard my sharp inhale of surprise and came downstairs. We were both so shocked; it took a minute to process the sight before us. The tree had fallen over in the night. There were ornaments all over the floor. My dear husband picked up the tree and secured it back into place. I managed to find the missing Pointe shoe covered foot of the ballerina ornament from when Sarah and I went with her grandmother to see The Nutcracker when she was four. That one was repairable, but there were many others that were not. I struggled to fight back the tears as I picked up Sarah’s ceramic “Baby’s first Christmas” ornament that was in pieces.

We managed to get it all cleaned up before the kids woke up, thankfully. We haven’t decorated our tree yet this year, but I know I will get all choked up when there are a few less ornaments to hang this year.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I was digging through a drawer the other day and stumbled across a birthday card my 7 year-old made for me when she was 2 and a half. The daycare provider had written on in for Sarah and it said, "My ov you Mommy". That was how Sarah said I love you. It was so cute at the time and I loved that the daycare lady included it on the card. It got me thinking of all the other cute things and mispronounced words my girls have said over the years:

My ov you..............................I love you (Sarah)
Pet the meow........................Pet the kitty (Sarah)
Ears appeared.......................Ears pierced (Sarah)
Wiper towels.........................Paper towels (Megan)
Panacake...............................Pancake (Megan)
Lello.......................................Yellow (Megan)
RaRa......................................Sarah (Megan)
With cream...........................Whipped cream (Megan)
Cocks.....................................Socks (Sarah)

I am sure that there are more, but that is what comes to mind. Sarah (at age 7) still asks to have her ears appeared! Megan still says some of hers, and I hope it doesn't stop!!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christmas Card Outtakes

One of my coworkers is really good at taking pictures. She volunteered to snap some shots of the girls for use in our Christmas card this year. Of course, I waited too long and the only time she could do it was Friday night at 6pm. Not the best time for the kids so that might account for the fact that there is about 3 good shots out of the 92 that she took!

Here are a few outtakes from a photo session Friday night. Once I pick the "good" ones, I'll come back and post the ones we chose for the card!

Emma was on the verge of crying and I kept trying to tickle her to get her to smile.

Sarah had been playing with Emma and she got a swift kick in the eye so her individual shots now look as if she's been crying or punched in the face.

Megan was a grump al night and rarely smiled for any pictures, typical!

Here are the girls together.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


November has been a quite a roller coaster of a month. I find myself feeling even more thankful for so many things this year, especially after going through number of crisis at school.

I am thankful that most of my students seem to be progressing in their grief over the loss of their classmate.

I am thankful that mt student D. is now recovering at home after being accidentally shot by a friend. I am thankful that he is one of the 1% doctors say that live after his aorta was severed by the bullet.

I am thankful that my sister and her husband were able to visit with my brother-in-law's mother before she passed away last week.

I am thankful that Pat's youngest brother is finally happy.

I am thankful for new life.

I am thankful that I have my three beautiful girls who are happy and healthy. They may frustrate me, but I love them dearly.

I am thankful that my children have all four grandparents active in their lives.

I am thankful that we have a roof over our heads and food on our table and steady jobs to keep it that way.

I am thankful that I have support from friends and family.

I am thankful for so much this year and I know that I am blessed.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Feel good moments

There are days when I don't enjoy my job. Lately, I have dreaded some of my responsibilities. I am a school counselor, and while I love working with my students, I do not enjoy having to provide grief counseling. This has been a rough couple of weeks that has tested my strength and that of my students. I had a student shot and killed on Nov 1, then on Nov 11 there was a stabbing in the school. Finally another one of my students was involved in an accidental shooting in his home on Nov 15. These three events have affected everyone in our school community greatly.

In the days after the last shooting incident, I was visiting the young man's classes discussing the situation with students and giving them the opportunity to process what had happened and try to de-stress, considering the last few weeks. Much to my surprise, it was a pleasant experience. I think the kids I spoke with were glad for the opportunity to speak up and ask questions. When I went to the young man's Government class, we got into a great discussion and I felt good about things. Then as I left, I got a round of applause! I was so touched. Teens are so hard to please these days and that applause meant more to me than I can express. I let the moment wash over me knowing full well I may never experience that again. The next day I visited his English class and received the same treatment! I could be misinterpreting the applause, but I don't care! It made me feel as though my visit mattered to them and during this crappy time, I will take what I can get!

On a final note, I have one more surprising moment to share. I have a parent who speaks little English and is feeling the ever widening cultural divide between her traditional Vietnamese upbringing and her 14 year old son's American ways. He doesn't share anything with her and that makes her nervous. She comes to see me every 2 weeks or so to check on how he is doing. I print out his current grades (which are always A's & B's) as well as his attendance (no absences or tardies) and let her know things are fine. Well yesterday, she came in again for an update. I gave her the print outs and tried to reassure her that her son is doing well. She then hands me a bag containing home made cookies as a thank you for my help. She wished me a Happy Thanksgiving and was on her way. Those cookies were delicious, but the "thank you" was even better!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Small Victories

Well, Emma slept through the night last night, and in her crib...well sort of. I'm probably jinxing myself by even mentioning it, but this is a banner day in my boring life!

I had trouble getting her to go down last night, so I snuggled/nursed with her in my bed. Around 10 PM she fell asleep. I let her lay there for a while and then successfully transferred her to the crib in her room around 10:30PM.

In the middle of the night I awoke to Megan standing in the middle of the bed looking to climb in bed with us. I looked at the clock and it was somewhere around 3 AM. Was pleased when I realized that Emma was still sleeping!

She did wake up around 4:15 and I went and got her. I was able to snuggle with her and she fell back asleep. So happy she didn't need to nurse, as that would mess me up for pumping before I go to work.

As far as I'm concerned 10PM to 4:15AM is sleeping through the night...especially when I wake up for the day at 4:45!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Pillow Talk

My husband worked late last night and came home after I had gone to bed (which, by the way, I was in alone until 11:40 when the baby woke up. Just in case you were wondering from last night's post). At 2:30 AM I am awakened to the sounds of him preparing for bed. When I asked him if he had just gotten home, he informed that he had been home for a few hours. He often needs to decompress after work and will stay up watching TV, but not last night. No, last night my dear wonderful husband heard a rumor that someone he works with is on a porn website. That SOB spent over an hour online trying to find it. Then comes to bed and has the audacity to tell me about it and to tell me that I need to try and find it for him today! I was half-asleep at the time with a baby lying next to me so I knew that it wasn't the time for a "discussion", so I held my tongue.

This morning, I sat down to check emails and take care of business (read that as hook myself up to the good old Medela pump). I open the laptop and what do you think is staring me in the face?! The website he had been on last night had frozen the computer and I was stuck staring at a bunch of "twigs and berries"! I had to shut the computer down and restart to get it to work. Thank goodness one of the girls didn't decide to play Webkinz!

He looked very tired this morning. Served him right for staying up late surfing porn sites!! Now, am I slightly curious as to who this coworker is and what's online? Just a little, but I won't admit that to him!

Thursday, November 13, 2008


You would think by the third child that I would have figured this sleep thing out by now.

Clearly, I am doing something wrong. Emma has been in a horrible sleep pattern for, oh about 6 months! She has never been a good sleeper. Always has been a good eater, though! She started our as a cat napper until I finally got her to let me swaddle her. After that, we got to a point where she was actually sleeping for stretches of 4 or 5 hours at a time...I was in heaven!

Then she got too big to swaddle and we went back to her waking up every 2 hours. The only way I could get her back to sleep was to nurse her. I started back at work and then I began the slow descent into crazy.

Now, she refuses to go to sleep on her own. She will fall asleep nursing in my arms and as soon as I try to lay her down in the crib, she is wide awake. In a desperate attempt to get some sleep, I pulled her into bed with me. That crazy baby, as soon as she snuggled right up next to me, she was out like a light. When I try and transfer her back to her bed, wide awake. So back in the bed with me she goes. I know that I am creating bad habits, but I don't know what else to do. When I don't get at least a little sleep, I end up flipping out on my kids and acting like a zombie at work.

Tonight, I laid her down for a repeat performance. Unfortunately, I had bottles to wash and things to do that required two hands. I decided to let her cry it out for a while. So, while I washed bottles, she cried. While I picked up toys, she cried. While I caught the last few minutes of The Office, she cried. She has finally petered out and is sleeping. I wish I could say that she will now sleep for a while, but I am sure that she will be awake before the end of ER.

Someday we will both sleep through the night.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Age is just a number, right?

Yesterday I turned 37. I don't necessarily feel 37, but I am beginning to wonder how old I do look. I must admit, there are some pretty good genes in my family that gives me hope that I will age gracefully. However, my experience at the hairdresser last week gives me pause.

After I had Emma, I let my hair grow. Not really on purpose, but it was pretty much impossible to get out to the hairdresser. At the start of the school year I went for the first time in probably 6 months for a hair cut. My hairdresser felt that we ought to try out the longer length. Normally I trust her, so I went along with it. I couldn't wait to go back this time and get it chopped. The length was just annoying me and I was ready to go back to collar length again.

Last weekend I told all of this to the young shampoo girl at the salon while she was washing my hair. She then began to ask me all the obligatory questions:

Shampoo Girl: When was your baby born?

Me: In April

SG: April what?

Me: April 20

SG: Oh, my birthday is April 17

Me: That's actually my anniversary.

SG: Wow, how long have you been married?

Me: It will be 10 years this coming April?

SG: How long were you together before you got married?

Me: About 4 or 5 years

SG: Is this your first marriage?

WHAT!?!?! How the hell is that your next question? How old do I look that I could have been in a 15 year relationship AFTER my first marriage.

I'm just hoping she really wasn't paying attention to what I was saying and that I don't look 47 instead of 37!!

Monday, November 10, 2008


Can someone have PMS 7-8 years before puberty?

I ask this only because my four year old has mood swings of hormonal proportion. I love her to death, but there are moments when I would be happy to sell her for a song!

Megan was in rare form this weekend. With soccer season over, I thought that she would be a happy camper on Saturday when we didn't have to rush out of the house for an early appointment with the OBGC field. Instead, I woke to sounds of arguing and fighting before 7am. I heard Pat trying to shush both girls saying that I was still sleeping (with baby next to me). The girls had already managed to be banned from TV by 7:30AM and were supposed to be picking up the family room.

Megan HATES to do anything you ask her to do. She is one of those people who will swear the sky is pink, if you tell them it is actually blue. She will then screech at the top of her lungs declaring how pink the sky is and that you are MEAN for saying otherwise. I tried to give her the incentive of going with me to run errands if she straightened up and was "good". It worked, briefly and with constant reminders.

The girls and I headed out to run errands at the market where I pick up my "milk medicine" and then to Target. As soon as we walked into the store, Megan flipped out because she couldn't ride in the cart while the baby's car seat was there. She actually wanted me to leave Emma in the car so that she could ride in the cart. I had to pick her up off of the floor and offer a distraction of free grapes to get her to cooperate (thank God for food samples). Three grapes, two mini cups of some organic cereal with raisins, and 2 tortilla chips later, we were out of the store and on our way to Target. I thought we were over our hurdle of craziness, little did I know that it had barely started. Megan had a full-on, writhing-on-the-floor tantrum because I wouldn't let her ride the escalator by herself. Nothing like arguing with a pre-schooler in the middle of Target on a crowded Saturday afternoon. Normally, I would just pick her up and leave the store. unfortunately, with Sarah & Emma in tow, I couldn't easily do that. Somehow we managed to buy what we needed and I did not have to resort to bribery to do it.

As an early birthday celebration, Pat and I thought we would all go out to dinner. Megan was sure to let us know that she was not happy with our selection of restaurant and kept complaining, even as we started driving there. Sarah had her own unrelated issues going on. With both girls in tears, I realized it would be pure torture to go out. As I turned the car around to go home, the crying got worse. I had had it. Somehow it became my fault that my own birthday dinner was ruined.

Sunday seemed to be ok until after dinner. Pat took Sarah to swimming and I stayed home with the younger two. Megan immediately lost it. She wanted Daddy because "Daddy is her buddy". Things escalated, especially during bath time. Lots of tearful words about how she wants to be a baby, and how she wishes she was an only child. Being a middle child myself, this just ripped me to the core. I know exactly what she is going through, I went through it all 33 years ago. Despite a degree in psychology and a masters in counseling, despite all the preparation and personal attention I/we showered on her when the baby was born, despite my own memories, despite all my hard efforts to prevent this from happening, my Megan became my "tortured middle child". I don't know what more I could have done, but clearly it wasn't enough. there may not have been anything more that I can/could have done. However, I can't help feeling as though I failed her as a mom and fellow middle child.

After her bath, I occupied Emma with a toy, and got down on the floor with Megan. I scooped her into my lap and spoke to her softly, closely and genuinely. I wanted to be sure to tell her in terms a four year old can grasp easily, that there was no way I could ever love Emma more than her. I talked to her about some of the special things that only she and I share. We both cried and laughed and I felt good about it. I MUST find time to spend with each girl independent of the others. I am not sure where I am going to find the time to make it work, but it is an absolute must, for my sanity and theirs.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Yo Vote

I voted!!
Took the girls with me for the first time. Probably not the best time to have done so, especially since we had to wait in a 30 minute line. But, it was great to show them the process and actually have them help.
Megan kept asking me who I was voting for when we were in line waiting to be taken to our voting machine. I told her that I wasn't supposed to say it since we were in the official voting room. She kept bugging me so I whispered into her ear "Oback Barama" (which is exactly how she says his name). Sarah was convinced I broke the law and decided to tell Megan that she hated her because she made me break the law.
Megan took great pride in holding my "Apple Ballot" (The paper that my union puts out detailing who the teachers support for local races) for me. They LOVED that they each got an "I voted" sticker.

Must be sure to hit Starbucks later for my free coffee!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Senseless Tragedy

Today has been the single worst day in my 13 years as a school counselor. I found out last night that one of my 9th grade students was shot and killed late Saturday evening. I have lost former students before, but never a current student. Considering the population that I work with, I knew that this day might eventually come. It is still devastating. Thankfully, today is a teacher work day (end of the quarter grades are due) so we have time to put a plan of action into place.

This young man, according to reports, was not a kid doing bad, he was riding public transportation home with friends. They were on the bus when a group of young adults (twenty somethings) entered the bus and excitedly spoke to one another (not in English) that they were just waiting for someone to do something so they could have a reason to take action. This conversation was translated to my student and the others by a friend with them on the bus. They did nothing. They tried to stay under the radar hoping to avoid an altercation. The bus stopped and the group of men went to get off the bus. As they exited, one held the door open and another reached in and started shooting. My student died on the scene in his older brother's arms.

I just got back to work from visiting with the family. It was hard. There was an altar set up in his honor and we were urged to light sticks of incense. His mother broke down in my arms more than once. I was honored when she asked me to go and see his room with her. His clothes were laid on the bed and candles were lit. It was very emotional.

Funeral arrangements have not been finalized, but of course the family cannot afford it. The school is setting up a fund to help defray the costs. As a mother, my heart aches for this woman- a single mom working to support her kids as a nail technician. I found out she gives all her tips to her kids so that they can buy their clothes at the outlets. She is a good woman, and he was a typical 9th grade student trying to make his way through the transition to 9th grade. He was a very popular student, nominated for homecoming court.

This will be a difficult week for all of us.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I know that I am a girl and girls are supposed to love to go shopping. I hate shopping.

Maybe I would enjoy shopping more if it weren't for a number of factors.

1. Things cost money.

I probably wouldn't mind shopping if I knew that I didn't have to pay the bill that came later. I was raised to be thrifty (my husband's word for cheap) and it is very hard for me to spend money on myself. I have friends that are not so financially encumbered as I am and I find myself on occasion wishing I were them.

2. Nothing ever fits.

I have a weird shaped body (read that as fat) where the clothes I want to wear just don't look right on me. Trying clothes on in a dressing room with the extremely flattering florescent lights just enhances the experience.

3. I have no time.

I don't live super-close to any mall and have to battle traffic and/or miles in order to do decent shopping. Very hard to squeeze in shopping when I work and have 3 young kids. I'm sure if numbers 1 & 2 were not a problem, I would probably find the time.

4. I have 3 young kids.

Last night I went to the mall with all three kids. I clearly am in need of a lobotomy, or heavy drugs! Sarah is fine (behaviorally), it is just that she is now in the tween (can it be-she is only 7.5) I like to be pretty & fashionable stage. I spend much of last night telling her that she can't get things. Megan is getting better, but it is hard to keep a 4.5 year old's attention when there are so many distractions. The baby just is too needy at this point. Try maneuvering through stores with a full size stroller, it is impossible! I knocked half of everything on the floor. It is so not worth it.

The main goal of this shopping excursion was to get Sarah her Halloween costume and to get outfits for our upcoming family picture. The outfits were easy; I had already scoped out
what I wanted at Gap Kids (the only time I have purchased anything at this store other than things on clearance). I wanted nice outfits, but did not want to go for the typical "holiday look". The girls will be dressed in outfits with similar colors of white, pink, orange and black. the look is based on this dress that Megan will be wearing.

The Halloween store was pure torture. The aisles were ridiculously small and crammed with crap. Sarah went into the store wanting to be a "Army girl". When she saw the soldier costumes and they were too "boyish", she changed her mind. We then had to spend the next 30 min trying to find something that was appropriate for a 7 year old to wear. (Don't even get me started on the state of Halloween costumes these days- everything is way to revealing and "mature"). We finally settled on a costume that looks like a cross between a witch and a vampire. Megan has been telling us for weeks that she wanted to be a cheerleader (or "cheater leader" as she says). I was thrilled because that is a costume we already own! Of course, while in the store she changed her mind. I did all I could to get her back on the cheerleader bandwagon, but she was having no parts of it. At least she chose to be Belle from Beauty and the Beast. We already own a dress, so I only caved in and bought the tiara and shoes to match!
This painful experience was capped off by Megan's tantrum when leaving the mall because I didn't let her play in the germ-infested kiddie play space. I got an odd look from a female security guard as I told Megan, who was laying on the floor, that I was leaving whether she was coming or not. I made it about 10 feet from the doors to the parking lot before she yelled after me to stop. I did have to listen to a chorus of "I hate Mommy; Mommy is a meanie" the whole way home, but at least we all survived.

Monday, October 6, 2008


While cleaning out the van this weekend I found the following items:

7 pre-school projects (5 of which were done in some medium that left debris in the car- the evil person who invented glitter needs to die a long and painful death)
3 socks (not pairs, but individual socks)
1 Empty snack-sized Doritos bag shoved into an arm rest
1 pair of flip-flops
Assorted hair bands and pony tail holders (I swear they reproduce on their own but the minute you actually need one, they are impossible to find)
1 amazing dream jacket

This last item was a product of pre-school Sunday school. Megan walks out of her Sunday school class last week so excited. She is carrying a paper grocery bag and promptly shows me where she had colored it on the back. I asked what it was. She replied matter of factly, "a jacket". Intrigued, I asked what they learned about. She proudly said, "Jophus and his dream jacket".

Too cute!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Before the butt crack of dawn

Ok, I have officially become one of those employees. You know, the one that ducks in the back entrance just so you might not notice how horribly late I am. We are five weeks into the school year and I have been back to work for the past 8 weeks. I think I can count on one hand the number of times I have been on-time for work. It doesn't help that "duty-time" is the ungodly time of 7:10 AM. It is just wrong!

I guess the only option I have is to get up even earlier than I do now. Tomorrow the alarm will be set for 4:45. Of course, I need to NOT hit the snooze!!

Monday, September 22, 2008

My mom has a jungle gym in her bedroom

Megan has a boyfriend. Actually she has lots of boyfriends. When she tells me that Matty, the boy across the street is her boyfriend, I have absolutely no problem with their 4 year-old love. It is when she tells me that the banister pole, upright vacuum or the broom is her boyfriend, that I begin to worry.

I am not sure where she got this from, but she actually stands there and pretends to kiss, french kiss, the item. It is disturbing on so many levels. We are obviously encouraging this behavior in some way, because I CAN'T GET HER TO STOP.

Yesterday, after an afternoon of dress up and "make-overs" with the 12 year old neighbor girls, Megan was outside playing in a cheerleader costume and tons of blue sparkle eye shadow. The Cul-de-sac was filled with kids and parents playing and we all catch Megan hanging on the light post hugging and kissing it. It was a bad stripper joke just waiting to happen! The outstanding parent that I am, I had to make the joke myself!

Coincidentally, Pat came home from a late night at work with a related story. He was talking with a co worker's wife when she announced "***** just got me a pink stripper pole for my birthday!" I'm not quite sure how that comes into conversation and why she felt the need to tell my husband this information. When I started to think about it, I remembered that they have two elementary-aged children. How on earth do you explain that to your kids? I would love to be a fly on the wall when one of those kids announces in class, "my mom has a jungle gym in her bedroom!"

Friday, September 19, 2008

Back to School Night

Last night was the back to school night for Sarah's Elementary school. As an educator, I tend to see these types of events from a different perspective than a lot of my fellow parents. I always get a kick out of the "dog and pony show" that it usually is. For me there is rarely any new information disseminated that is earth shattering, but it is almost always informative.

Since I did not get a chance to attend the pre-school open house, this would have been my first meeting with the teacher. My Dad watched the older girls (bless him) and I decided to take Emma with me (see earlier post regarding supply issues). She decided to sleep through the Principal's presentation as well as the introduction of all the teachers and the PTA. Not the most exciting part of the night. If I could have gotten away with sleeping through it, I would have too!

After commiserating with another new mother about lack of sleep, I headed down to the classroom. Emma was happily sitting on my lap until about half way through the teacher's presentation. She started to fuss and the pacifier wasn't helping too much. I spent the last 10 minutes hiding in the coatroom trying to listen but not disturb too much. I eventually had to head into the hallway, but managed to get the gist of everything. I like the fact that Sarah has a young teacher who is enthusiastic about teaching. They spend a great deal of time on reading and math, but unfortunately only 30 minutes a day to devote to either science or social studies.

During the question and answer portion of his talk, the teacher was questioned about parent volunteers. The culture at the school is that parents sign up to volunteer in the classroom on a regular basis (every Monday morning for math groups, etc). It always made me feel guilty since I couldn't commit to a schedule like that. Well, this particular teacher did not put out a request for volunteers, nor did he have a sign-up sheet out at the open house or back to school night. Many of the SAHM's were expressing their concern and listing all the help they gave previous teachers. Even from the coatroom, I could sense the teacher's frustration. He is one of those teachers that likes to have his stuff together, he gets to school two hours early to make sure he has everything worked out. Sometimes it is easier to do things yourself than to explain it and put it in other's hands. Plus, I get the feeling he realizes that these parents aren't necessarily volunteering out of the goodness of their hearts. By being in the classroom they have the inside scoop on what is going on with their child as well as everyone else's. As I listened to the discussion, I couldn't help but laugh inside. Some of these parents need to have such control over what goes on in their kid's lives, it just makes me sick. I often just want to shake them and say, "let the teachers do their job"!!

My level of respect for this teacher totally jumped a notch or two.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Ok, I totally had a meltdown today. I feel as though I am totally coming unravelled. I am barely keeping my head above water at work. My house is a mess, My kids are living on spaghetti and chicken nuggets. And I have turned into the white trash neighbor that lets her kids run around unsupervised.

I am trying to remain committed to breastfeeding Emma, but the lack of sleep and stress has reduced my supply drastically. I cannot pump enough at work to provide for her the next day. I will use up my freezer stash much sooner than I thought.

Thank God for good friends to help talk you down. I realize that I need to re-order my priorities and get a grip. If Emma has to get formula, it will not be the end of the world. I am going to start her on cereal soon and hopefully that will help as well.

Deep cleansing breath.....phew!

Monday, September 15, 2008


Who is this woman and how can I be like her?

I swear, I cannot get my $#!% together.

I knew that having a third child would be difficult. However, I didn't realize that I would have NO time to do anything for myself. I really figured that by now, I would have gotten our household into a solid routine and life would be pretty smooth. Suffice it to say, we're not there.

The past week has been the worst. With Pat's new promotion also came a new rotating schedule. Three weeks of day work, one week of midnights and one week of evenings. We are coming off of the midnight (6pm - 4am) shift and starting the evening shift (3pm- 11pm). It has been a few years since I had to deal with this type of a rotation and I am so out of practice.

Emma won't let me set her down for more than 10 minutes at a stretch, therefore, dinner has been a crap shoot all last week. And without Pat here in the evenings again this week, we are in for more of the same. Of course, if I were Supermom, I would have made meals in advance and all I'd have to do is heat it up.

My house is a wreck. I try to straighten up at night, but I'm exhausted. I try to get the kids to clean up their stuff, but end up "helping" which really means mom does it while they complain! The girls want to play outside with the neighbors, which is great! Part of me wants to just let them go out without me, but the other part of me realizes it is so not fair of me to always let the other parents watch my kids.

I now know why my parents drink coffee after dinner. If I brew myself a pot, I can actually stay awake through putting Emma to bed at 9!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Soccer Dad

Up until 4 years ago, I was pretty much solely responsible for any child-related duties. I fed them, clothed them, bathed them, dealt with daycare and doctors, went to playgroups, etc. It wasn't that Pat didn't want to do these things, he just couldn't. He worked rotating shift work and we often didn't see him.

When I made the decision to switch school districts and take a higher paying job, Pat was behind me 100%. unfortunately, the reporting time for staff at my new school is 7:10 AM. Pat had gained enough seniority that he was able to adjust his hours a bit and take the girls to school. It was tough, but he made it work.

Since then, Pat has been responsible for all morning duties (except for packing of lunches) and has bravely dealt with getting two very moody girls dressed and ready for school daily. During the last 3 years, we have enjoyed having him work a regular day work schedule and so the girls have really gotten used to having him around. When Sarah and Megan were babies, they often wouldn't go to him or let him put them to bed because he just wasn't around much. Things are different the third time around. He is a much more involved dad, to the point where he is the preferred bed-time parent.

Last Tuesday was my school's back to school night. A night where all staff is required to be here and parents follow their student's schedule into the wee hours of the night (9:00). It was just easier for me to stay at work than to go home and return by 6:30 (especially when parking it a bitch for a school of 2800 students). Therefore, Pat had single parent duty from 3:45 to 9:30 when I got home. Shouldn't have been that big of a deal, especially since he had the day off of work. However, it was also Sarah's first day of soccer practice.

Pat had to pick up all three girls and then start Sarah on her homework (thankfully Megan is only in Pre-K and doesn't do homework yet). By 5:00 they had to be at the soccer field in order to purchase shin-guards and a ball before the 5:15 practice. Sarah's practice lasted an hour and he had to occupy both Megan and 4.5 month old Emma. They then went home and Pat had prepared an actual dinner (meatloaf, mashed potatoes and mac & cheese). When I got home at 9:30 all three girls had been fed, bathed and two of them were in bed. I was so totally impressed! He was exhausted. I do think he now has a new found respect for what I (and other moms) do. I have to admit, I was a bit jealous that he was able to do it all and make a REAL dinner. Then I remembered, he did have the whole day off of work and no kids under foot!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

I hope so!

Sarah: Can I do yoderat after proobery?
Me: What?
Sarah: Can I do yoderat after proobery?
Me: What is proobery?
Sarah: You know, when you get boobs and stuff?
Me: oh, puberty?
Sarah: Yeah
Pat: Do you mean deoderant?
Sarah: Yeah, can I do deoderant when I have pubery?
Me and Pat: laughter...YES!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

first day of school

Well, the highly anticipated first day of school went fairly well for just about all of us!

Sarah was thrilled last week to find out that she had gotten the teacher that she wanted, Mr. Lohmeier. She had such a bad year in 1st grade that she went from loving school to hating it. Now that she has Mr. Lohmeier, the excitement for school has returned. She took him in a gift (coffee mug & Starbucks card). She reported back that he was pleased with the gift and gave her a big hug. I received a thank you email from the teacher later last night. In the email he commented on Sarah's humor and remarked that she needed to remember to raise her hand and not talk to friends. Let's hope she gets that in check soon so that she doesn't get in trouble the first week of school!

Megan (Pat reported) was pleasant and easy getting ready in the morning. All things changed when it was time to actually go in the building. Ever since Emma was born (and probably for a few months before) Megan has been telling us that she hates school. To be honest, I don't blame her a whole lot. She has had a revolving door of teachers and the substitutes have not been very pleasant. I often wonder why these people got into the profession of preschool teacher if they don't like kids? Well, Pat had to literally push her through the doors of the daycare and he left her crying. When I picked her up in the afternoon, she was fine (of course). I also had a chance to meet the new teacher that was hired as as a permanent fixture in the classroom for the 10:30 -6:30 shift. This woman actually has a BA in education and 20 yrs experience in childcare. Lets hope that she can get Megan back on track at school!

Emma did well for Pat on his first "gotta get out of the house on time" day. She fussed a little but was calmed down by sitting in her car seat with Sarah on the front porch. I hope she settles down before the weather turns cold!

The afternoon was a different story. We were all tired and cranky. Sarah was exhausted and Emma was recovering from her latest round of vaccinations. Pat had to work late, and it nearly killed me! My poor parents arrived at our house to drop off Megan's booster seat at 7pm and I still hadn't gotten dinner on the table, Emma was fussing, and the house looked like a disaster area!

I guess it will take us all a while to settle into a good routine. I just hope it doesn't kill me in the process!!

Sunday, August 17, 2008


While everyone in the country has been debating Obama vs McCain, there has been a different political discussion going on in my little slice of suburbia.

I happen to live under the fascist regime of a Homeowners Association (HOA). Actually, I am one of those people who see the merits of having a HOA that actually does something.

Two years ago we moved into our current development and were quickly ushered into the world of HOA's, covenants, architectural committees and the like. Evidently I hadn't read the rules and regulations thoroughly and we received a violation notice that we failed to get prior approval for our fence. We had put up the right style, but had not jumped through all the hoops.

Our neighborhood is small and most residents take great pride in maintaining the appearance of their home. Since the homes are starting to age, the HOA Board decided it was time for a "walk through" to see if all homes are in compliance with the rules and regulations. We didn't think much of it, knowing that we would probably get cited for our lawn (last year's drought and ant infestation wiped out most of the actual grass and left us with a yard full of weeds and bare spots).

Almost all the homeowners received some type of violation, including us. A number of homeowners took great offense with the violation notices that came out. Instead of discussing the violations with the board, or appealing the violation, one person in particular decided that it required taking action to actually re-call the board. She browbeat other neighbors into signing a petition and thus created a great deal of animosity among neighbors.

Being friends with the president of the board has given us a different view of the situation. I anxiously awaited the meeting where the vote would occur. I wanted to go and support the board, but I was also curious to hear the other side's argument. in the days leading up to the meeting, I watched as the leader of the disgruntled homeowners visited neighbors in an effort to sway them to her side. It even appeared as though she went door to door with proxies trying to round up votes in her favor (a clear violation of the bylaws). She even managed to corner Pat. She must have caught him on a good day since he was able to maintain composure and POLITELY tell her that though he was not pleased to receive our violations, he felt that she was going to extremes to kick out the current board. She ought to go through the process to appeal and/or get the rules changed. I guess she didn't like what he had to say since that was the last we saw of her.

The long awaited meeting was last week. The place was packed. More than one person commented that it was a shame that it took this issue to get so many bodies out to a meeting. The air in the room was warm and full of tension. Neighbor hesitating to talk to neighbor unless they were sure of what side the other was on. It was painful. It got ugly. The board managed to keep control, but at the expense of alienating a few (no one likes to have a gavel pounded to let you know your time is up, or that things are getting out of hand).

With the comment section over it was time for the vote. The board decided it would be an open vote where each household would declare their vote out loud, even all proxies would be read. This was akin to polling a jury to get a verdict. This angered the opposition greatly and only added to the tension in the room. the first task was to determine who could actually vote. Since there were about 3 proxies from people who were not in "good standing" (they owed some amount of money), their votes did not count. It was a close vote and it was not until the final count that it was determined that the vote to keep the board was 21 to 19.

Unfortunately it doesn't feel like a victory. It is clear that there is now a rift among the neighbors that is large. There is still talk of each side having played "dirty pool". There have been poor displays of behavior since, and speculation that the fight is not over.

We are supposed to have a neighborhood ice cream social to celebrate the start of school soon. I hope the hatchet can be buried, at least for the kid's sake.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


On Saturday we drove up to Breezewood, PA (the halfway point between home and the In-Law's in Pittsburgh) to pick up the girls. By the end of the week we were definately missing them and looking forward to seeing them.

We arrived at the meetup location (McDonald's, of course) and were greeted with big hugs and happy faces. We spent most of lunch catching up on their adventures. We transferred their stuff from one car to the next, said goodbyes and thank-yous and went on our way home.

The girls were happy to finally get home and see their friends, but were definately exhausted from a busy week with Grandma. Since it was Megan's first trip away from us, I was pleased to hear how much she had enjoyed it. When I asked her if she wanted to do the trip again next summer, she simply answered, "no".

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Vacation from chaos

Last Thursday we drove up to Pittsburgh to visit the in-laws. It was a lovely visit and all three girls behaved pretty well. We were to stay in Pittsburgh until Sunday when Pat, Emma and I would come home. Sarah and Megan were going to say a week at Camp Grandma! This will be Sarah's 3rd stay without us, but Megan's first.

I wasn't sure how Megan would do. She was eager to go and my mother-in-law was sure that it wouldn't be a problem. Both girls were excitedly planning their visit with Grandma. Sunday morning came and things were going well. The car was loaded, the dog was ready for the return trip and we were saying our goodbyes. Megan was quiet and looked sad. I told her she could come home with us, but she said she wanted to stay. She gave me a big "squeezy hug" and we said goodbye. I was a little apprehensive leaving her, but knew that she would be ok. She is my independent one, much less clingy than her big sister.

The ride home was quiet and calm. The dog settled down quickly and Emma fell asleep. It was nice to not have to break up fights and mediate arguments in the back seat. When we got home, it began to really sink into us that it was just us 3. Granted, Emma is a handful, but it has been so nice to actually be able to enjoy an adult conversation without one of the girls butting in for various reasons.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I hate you mom!

As the mother of three girls, I knew that I would hear these words regularly as my girls reach adolescence. Little did I know that adolescence now begins at age 4!

I love my children. I tell myself this all the time. I often need reassurance as we struggle through issues dealing with the birth of the new baby. My Megan, my middle child, my cuddle bunny, my squeezy-hug giver, is at times more moody than her big sister. When Sarah was born, we knew almost immediately that she would be the emotional and moody one (I have been told that she comes by it honestly). Megan was different, she was more independent, yet more affectionate. Things have now changed. She must have told me that she hated me at least 5 times yesterday. What is interesting is that in between these tantrums and name-calling, she will sit in my lap or tell me I'm beautiful.

The counselor in me knows that much of this is due to Emma's arrival. We have actually been working on her behavior all summer and it has improved. When adolescence does arrive, I have a feeling that I will realize that this is only the tip of the iceberg!

Beach Bum

Last week we went on a family vacation to Dewey Beach, Delaware.

Dewey Beach.
Where is that?
Just south of Rehoboth.
Oh, never heard of it.

This is the typical conversation I have with most people when I tell them where we usually go on vacation in the summer. Often I get, "isn't that a gay beach?" or "I used to party there when I was in college".

My family has been going to Dewey Beach since long before it was a popular party destination for the "college-age" or "got-my-first-real-job" crowd. I remember when there were only a handful of houses and condo buildings. I'm pretty sure the farm on the bay side was still there when we would go as a family in the mid-1970's. Now it is a housing development. The location we stayed at this year (we rarely stray far from the New Orleans Street location of my youth) actually stands on the spot where a little old lady's house used to be amongst the sand dunes. As children, my sister and I, along with family friends, would play games in those dunes and wonder about the woman inside the house.

Dewey has changed over the years, but yet it has stayed pretty much the same. It is a laid-back beach where the locals and regulars all seem to know one another. You are within walking distance to stores and restaurants. Yet there is no boardwalk crowd (a good thing for us, but a drawback for some). The same families have been running the businesses for decades and are very welcoming. My mother gets a kick out of her interaction with the man that runs Vavala's (the local newsstand/beachwear store/post office). He has been there for years and is probably in his 80's. This year, we took to calling him her boyfriend. The girls got a kick out of that one, especially Megan, who went with mom every morning to buy her copy of the Washington Post.

Poor Pat married into this family of beach goers. He is not a beach bum in any sense of the word. He tolerates it and enjoys playing with the girls, but he does not get upset if the forecast calls for cloudy skies. He would, however, love to swim in the surf. Unfortunately this year, and most years, the water was just too cold. He has put me on notice. Next year he would like to go south for our vacation where the water is clearer and much warmer. I have a feeling that the Outer Banks of North Carolina will be our destination. I will not enjoy the 7 hour drive as compared to our 3 hours to the Eastern Shore, but I am not sure I have a choice.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Backyard Battle

There are several battles being waged in our backyard at any given time. I get a kick out of watching the fights through my kitchen window.

The cause of most of the fighting is backyard bird feeder. Earlier this summer, after careful deliberation and discussion with a salesperson at a local store, The Backyard Naturalist , Pat decided to change our bird seed to all sunflower seeds. It took a while for all the birds to come around to it, but now the feeder is frequented by many birds, especially cardinals. As it turns out, our already greedy squirrels love it too. There is a constant power struggle for control of the feeder. The birds almost always win.

A happy beneficiary of this fight are the NUMEROUS rabbits in the neighborhood. Not only do they enjoy the vast amounts of clover in our yard, they are happy to munch on the fallen seed as well. I can tell these animals do not care for one another as the squirrels chase the rabbits away. Usually, the rabbits will not venture under the feeder, unless the squirrels are gone.

The other feeder that has generated quite a bit of interest this summer is the hummingbird feeder. We have at least two pairs of hummingbirds that frequent the feeder and there is often a great deal of buzzing going on as one of the pairs feels it is their turf. Unfortunately the birds now have to put up with the hoards of ants and wasps that have discovered it. We have always battled the ants, but the feeder has never attracted wasps and bees before. I feel bad for the hummingbirds because they are definitely skittish around the wasps and end up drinking only in short spurts.

I am not sure if I should intervene in these battles of nature, but there sure are interesting to watch.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Feeling Froggy

"It's not easy being green"...Kermit the Frog

I've always been a recycler. Ever since the City of Rockville dropped a recycling bin off at my parents house when I was in high school, I have dutifully put the glass, cans & paper where they belonged. However, I have never been one of the zealous crunchy green people.

I was thrilled (while there were news reports that others were terribly upset) when the county delivered the BIG BLUE BIN. This gigantic rolling bin was for all paper products. No longer did we have to break down cardboard boxes, put newspapers in paper grocery bags, or wait for a special pick up for glossy magazines and phone books. The county declared that they would take everything! I manage to fill that bin up every week with junk mail, shredded documents, newspapers and paper packaging for other household items.

I was vigilant in my plastic recycling as well, constantly checking the number on the bottom to see if it was recyclable. While surfing the county's recycling page on their website, I was upset to learn that I had been putting things in the recycle bin that were not recyclable. evidently, only narrow neck plastic containers were accepted. [This has recently been changed and now we can recycle margarine tubs, takout containers, yogurt cups, etc.]

My husband has always supported my recycling efforts, but was definitely not as into it as I was. That all changed when he begrudgingly went as a chaperon on our 7 year-old's class trip to the recycling center. As gross and loud as the place was, he came home with a wealth of information and has begun to get more involved in our efforts to be green-ish. We are now discussing plans to set up a compost bin in the backyard and have slowly started to replace appliances with more energy efficient models. Much of what we are doing to be even slightly green-tinted have come out of an effort to save money. As I look at some of the changes in our behaviors (rinsing out paper towels to reuse them to wipe down the counters, using dishwater to water the patio plants, etc) I realize that when I used to complain about my parents being cheap, they were really being green long before it was fashionable.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Naptime Conquered

Ever since Emma was born, 10 weeks ago, I have been trying to get her on to some type of a normal schedule. Her routine has been wake, nurse, sleep, wake, cry, scream, nurse. Repeat until mom goes crazy. I had tried everything to get her to take a decent nap. I was able to get her to sleep in her car seat for an hour or so at a time. But never in the crib. This past weekend I tried swaddling her (we do this at bedtime). I had tried this method weeks ago with no luck, but decided to give it a go one more time.


She has now taken decent naps since Saturday. It may be too soon to declare victory, but I am happy to be able to get a few hours a day to do something other than soothe a fussy baby. This may be a problem for our hectic summer schedule, however.