Monday, March 15, 2010

Heard at the Brunch Table

Took the kids out for lunch/brunch yesterday. It was kind of a long, lazy weekend, and it was pretty rainy, and Jonathan was getting over an ear infection, so we laid low. But by lunchtime yesterday, we were ready to head out, check out the river (there was a flood warning) and grab some lunch. The place we selected had those paper placemats - the kind where local businesses can advertise. One of the ads was for a local gun shop. Jonathan noticed this one immediately. He told me that the ad shouldn't be on there. I tried to explain to him that guns aren't bad - it's the people that misuse them that are bad. Guns, I explained can be used to protect people, and so people can hunt their food, or can be collector's items. Only when guns fall into the wrong hands can they be used for bad things. Well, he said, maybe they should take these guns "up 95 and into Massachusetts, where they have tougher gun laws." I kid you not, that is what came out of the kid's mouth. I said "What?" And he replies "Yes, I heard that on the news....CNN. They have the best news." OHHHHH-Kay. Perhaps Daddy should change the channel in the mornings after he's done his coffee and before he gets Jonathan up for school! Or next Jonathan will be enlightening us on his own healthcare plan....

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Jonathan is 6

Where, oh where did time go? Jonathan turned 6 years old yesterday. I have a 6 year old. Unbelievable. I remember the days when he was a baby - and a difficult one at that - the days that I would say to myself "someday he'll be old enough to go to school..." and now those days are here; HAVE been here. And now he's 6. He's so tall. He's got this quality about him that makes him seem older than his years, but he's still very much a little boy. Because he is so into maps and highways and atlases, I made him a United States cake. I got the pan last year on Ebay and had it hidden until yesterday. I used one of his little maps as a reference and free-handed the state outlines, then marked each state that he has been to so far. I had some leftover batter, so I made a smaller cake and turned that into Alaska and Hawaii. No, he hasn't actually been to Alaska, but was conceived there, so we thought it deserved special recognition!

And although you can't really tell here, the poor little guy had a fever and the beginnings of an ear infection. He's home from school today on antibiotics and playing with all his birthday loot.

Happy Birthday, Jonathan!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Everyday Dilemmas

I guess once you start having kids, you begin to realize that all the decisions you make don't just affect you anymore. Getting married isn't so much of an issue since presumably there are two like-minded adults involved with all the decisions. But throw in a couple of kids, and watch them grow, and all the sudden, you've got another opinion (or 2 or 3) running around the house. Where to go for dinner? A little voice pipes up from the backseat: McDonalds! Hmmmm, didn't exactly have that in mind for tonight, kiddo. Or you're on your way home from wherever, and another little guy requests we take the "highway". After all, thank you Rascal Flatts, life is a highway, and that song will forever be stuck in my head. (Yes, we own the Cars video.)

And yet these, and the many, many like them seem like trite decisions. We promise McDonald's for lunch the next day if they'll just come to Mommy and Daddy's choice of restaurant for dinner. And we just take the highway - after all, it's only a LITTLE out of the way, and they enjoy it so much. But what about the bigger decisions?

It's Jonathan's birthday week - he'll be 6 (heaven help me) in two days. I pondered over whether to have a party for him. But then the invitations started to arrive. All from his kindergarten friends, first one at the local ice cream parlor, then one at a restaurant, then one at the skating rink. A careful look at his class snack calendar confirmed what I already suspected: 5 birthdays in the month of March, with 4 of them coming within 5 days of each other, Jonathan's being one of those. Now, I'm sure that parents don't want to spend an entire month of Saturdays running their kids to parties. I don't mind taking Jonathan to a few (he missed the ice cream one, but we went to the restaurant one so far), but you've got to draw the line somewhere. So for this year, I opted to not have a party for him, after all, we celebrate at home, and often the grandparents come up.

But oh my. Jonathan comes to me and says: "Mommy, my party will be from noon until 7". Sigh. What to say, what to say? So I said something like, Ummmmmm, well, we're having you a nice party with just us and maybe your grandparents this year. Commence tears. I guess it is a bit much for an almost 6 year old to understand why he wasn't having a party and all his little friends were. Well, almost all of his friends. As a parent, I feel like I'm derpiving my child of something he feels like he should have, but on the other hand, maybe it's teaching him a good lesson; a lesson that says he's not going to have what everybody else has all the time in life. Best get used to it now, right? But tell that to a teary-eyed kindergartner.

So maybe we'll have him a party next year. Maybe. I'd like to have a better reason to give him other than - gee, how many parties can we stand in one month? Or the silent reason - hmmmm, if we invite all 24 of his classmates, does that mean 24 more toys/presents/clutter will enter this house? They have so much stuff already! Guess we'll just take this one year at a time.

Then there's Matthew. His birthday is in June, and we have a pool. How easy it would be to throw him a party.... And then Nicholas, his birthday 5 days before Christmas. Sigh. I guess THEY were all right when they said parenting was never easy....

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Little History

Maybe it's the recent birth of Nicholas, the scary notion that I'm going to be 40 in a few weeks, or the fact that I'm facing what is probably the end of my reproductive years, but I sort of feel the need, finally, after several years of blogging, to share a story. It happened almost 10 years ago, and we've long since put it behind us in more than one way (actually, 3 ways!), I'm going to put it out there, mostly because it's a big part of our history as a family, but also because there are others facing this every day, and maybe I can be a help if they can find me.

The story goes like this: after almost a year of marriage, Mark and I decided to go ahead and start a family. We both wanted kids. And our first pregnancy happened really quickly. We were all smiles and wonderment and happy glows, but it wasn't long before things started to go downhill. 6 weeks into my pregnancy, we found out that the fetus wasn't viable, and at 8 weeks I had to have a D&C. And two weeks after that, we found out I had had a condition known as a molar pregnancy.

Without going into too much detail, a molar pregnancy, and in my case, a complete molar pregnancy is one where the chromosomes get all out of whack, and instead of a fetus, you grow a tumor. Fortunately, my tumor stayed confined to my uterus. Some don't. Some grow outside of the uterus, and the nature of a tumor is to metastasize, and these sometimes do, to brain, liver, lungs. I escaped that. But after the D&C, my tumor decided to come back and start growing again, turning my molar pregnancy into something called Gestational Trophoblastic Disease. All the sudden, the word "cancer" was being floated around, even though at this stage, it was only a possibility, an as yet to occur additional complication if the tumor was allowed to get any bigger.

So I had to go on a regiment of chemotherapy. For 6 weeks I got weekly injections and my blood was monitored. The disappointment and sorrow over losing what we thought was our first child was quickly replaced by the fear for my own health, and the nagging thought that we might not ever be able to have children.

But finally, the chemotherapy worked, and I was declared healthy, but only if I didn't go into a relapse, or if the tumor wasn't really gone...just hiding. My doctors prescribed another year of blood tests, all the while we would not be allowed to try to conceive again. After that year, if all was well, we could try again.

The rest, they say, is history. We survived that year, somehow. We traveled a lot. We got a puppy. Seemed like everywhere I looked I saw a pregnant woman, or a little baby. I cried a lot. I lived with more than a shadow of doubt; I lived with a black cloud hanging over my head. Wondering.

But soon the year was over. It was March, and we had already booked a June trip to Alaska. We put off our family for another few months, and in June, set out for our Alaskan adventure. Little did we know that by the time we returned home, our little family was already growing. Jonathan Denali Eanes was born 9 months later. My pregnancy with him wasn't without it's own issues, but none of them were related to my past problems, and none turned out to be a threat to my health or to Jonathan's.

The rest, they say, is history. First Matthew, then Nicholas. And now, facing the closure of a chapter in our lives. Would we have more children by now if we hadn't been set back 2 years? Hard to say. Are we done with the reproductive stage of our lives? Probably. More than likely. I was okay with 2 children, or as I used to say, I was "at peace" with 2 children. Mark says that sounded like I was "settling." I probably was. I always thought I'd have at least 3, but as my 40's approached with only 2, I was more than okay with it.

But now I've got 3. I wouldn't trade Nicholas for the world. And I hope my story reaches those who need it. Over the years I've "met", mostly online, a ton of great women who have gone through a similar ordeal, and I'm proud and honored to call them my true friends. And if there's one huge advantage I have, having gone through this, I think it has made me appreciate my children just a little more. There are days when I could run screaming for the hills. There are days I want to swat their little stubborn backsides and lock them in their rooms until the next morning. But more often than not, I have stopped and reminded myself how much I wanted them, and how sad I was when I was afraid I wouldn't be able to have any, and it helps. And it reminds me over and over again what little treasures they are.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My Three Sons

Not sure where I heard this, probably a friend of a friend of a friend, but someone had asked this person, who had 4 children, was it more difficult going from 1 to 2, 2 to 3 or 3 to 4 children. After a moment's thought, the person supposedly said that the most difficult transition was from having no children at all to having 1 child! Well, back when I heard that, I only had one child at the time, and it was pretty darn believable. Jonathan was not an easy baby, certainly our most difficult, but not knowing too many other babies, not sure where he fits in the grand spectrum of difficult infants, but I'm willing to bet he wavered along fairly difficult and really difficult. Little did we know that it was a big part of his personality, and it was there to stay...but I digress.

Anyway. Now that I have three kids, I'm starting to see where people fall into the idea that once you have a couple of kids, a few more won't make a difference. Dare I say even, that 3, having seemed to time it better this time around, is a bit easier than just the two? I say this for a few reasons. First of all, there was only 27 months between number 1 and number 2. I had two in diapers at once, no family nearby to help out, and re-read paragraph 1 about what Jonathan was all about. Now that number 3 is here, I've got an almost-6 year old (8 more days!) and a 3 1/2 year old. Huge difference. Huge. Yes, having an infant is always a stress and a strain, but NOT having a small toddler in the mix is making all the difference in the least so far.

A few weeks ago, Nicholas had RSV and had to be hospitalized. Because we don't have family nearby and I was forced to live at the hospital for the duration since I'm breastfeeding, we sent the two older boys down to my mom and dad's house to stay with them for a few days. Nicholas was discharged on a Friday, and Mark went to get the big boys on Sunday. So from Friday until Sunday afternoon, we were back to one kid again. An infant, a SICK infant, no less. And let me tell you how EASY it was. Yes, we were pretty exhausted, and worn out physically and emotionally, but we had one kid between two people. And this infant is nothing like his biggest brother was. This one only cries when he really needs something, and then once you meet that need, he's happy again.

But you can't rubber-stamp everything...the timing of the children makes all the difference in the world - I have a friend who had 3 in less than 3 years. Oy. And their personalities make a big difference. And simply the fact that we have one full-time in school makes a difference, I think. On school days, the needs and schedule of the school child come first, and the others must adhere.

So far, since Nicholas was born, I've had Mark home or Jonathan in school most days. We've had a LOT of snow days with everyone here, and when Mark does work, it's a short day, at least for a few more weeks (FMLA leave, thank you!). But yesterday and today, I've had all three at home all day and Mark at work all day...and I've survived. Guess it's giving me a little taste of what summer's going to be like around here. Jonathan has a bad cold, so he's home from school. It's not the best situation; today it took me about 2 hours to finish my lunch, and most of the time we're not all dressed until 9 or 10 am. Not a whole lot gets done around the house. And by the time Mark gets home I'm ready for the spa. But I think all this crappy weather we've been having, all the snow on the ground and the fact that we've hardly seen the sun for 2 months contributes a bit, too. Once I can throw the windows open, hang my laundry outside, and grab the boys and go for a walk on the trail or to the farmer's market, I think things will improve. At least that's what I'm hoping. I have a lot of hesitancy about how I'm going to handle 3 boys all by myself this summer while Mark works! But I'm a mom, I'll adjust. I hope.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Can We Put Winter Behind Us Yet?

March 1st. Been looking forward to this day for a few months, lemme tell ya. And although it's spitting snow, cold, gray and damp again, there's a promise. The other day, I went outside to shake something out while I was doing a bit of cleaning, and the sun was out, it was in the 40's, (which felt balmy), the birds were singing and the slant of the sun suggested that winter was behind us. Let's hope. It can still snow something awful in the month of March, so we may not be out of the woods yet. But by April, which is just 4 short weeks and a few days away, things should definitely be looking warmer and brighter!

In all honesty, I haven't minded this weather too much this year, mostly because I've been pretty much house-bound anyway, with the new baby, the other kids being sick off and on, and most recently Nicholas with a bout of RSV that landed him in the hospital. I guess if I had to go out every day to do the school run (Mark's been doing that!) and bundling everyone up in coats and hats and mittens, myself included, I'd be minding the weather more. So now all I have is a very bad case of cabin fever, which will hopefully be cured as soon as the sun comes out for good, and the temperature hits the 60's!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Nicholas' Birth Story

When I first learned I was pregnant with Nicholas, I was actually fairly surprised at how laid back I was. I mean, yes, it was a shock and I wasn't sure I was ready for a third...ever...but at that point, there was no going back. One thing I wasn't really truly concerned about was the actual birth - after all, I'd already done that twice with no real problems, so other than having to go to yet another OB (I had a different one for every child), I didn't give it too much thought.

My official due date was 12/31/09. Everyone who knew this told me how exciting a due date that was - I could have the year's first baby! Well, they were excited about it...but I wasn't. And as November rolled into December, I got less and less excited as my belly got more and more bigger! Getting ready for Christmas was kind of tough, and the unknown was killing me - would I have the baby early? Would my water break on Christmas morning?

Time was growing short, and I had most of my Christmas preparations ready about a week early. Around that same time, Mark had a Christmas office party and I had my weekly appointment the same day. I was up very early that day, preparing our contribution to the party, getting Jonathan off to school, getting Matthew dressed for a big morning, and getting all of it out of the house. By the time I arrived at my doctor's office, my blood pressure was a bit elevated, and it wouldn't come down. I tried to tell the doctor it was all the melee of the day, and all the Christmas excitement, but he didn't like it. This was a Thursday - the Thursday before Christmas. He told me to come to the hospital early Saturday morning to get my blood pressure checked again and to get a non-stress test on the baby.

Well, Saturday morning arrived along with a blizzard. Snow was piling up faster than an inch an hour, and it wasn't going to stop all day. I called the hospital, and asked if I still needed to come in - and my doctor was there! He'd been there all night as well, and he said I did indeed have to come in, if I could make it. So Mark, me and my mom piled into the 4 wheel drive and took off.

When we got there, my blood pressure was a bit elevated, but the baby looked okay. They kept me on the monitors for about 2 hours, all the while snow still coming down outside, and it was getting toward 4pm. I had also started to have some irregular contractions. Finally, the doctor came in and decided to check and see where my cervix was and where the baby was. I was dilated to 3cm, almost completely effaced, and the baby was down low and engaged. He quickly decided to go ahead and induce labor - after all, if I were to head back home in that weather, I may have had to turn around several hours later and come back in even worse weather.

So at 5pm, they got my IV and the pitocin started. It took over an hour to start really feeling the contractions, but once they started it was pretty intense. By around 6:30, I was in a lot of pain, and asked for an epidural...but I couldn't get one until the whole bag of IV fluid had drained in! Wait another 10 minutes. Then go find the anesthesiologists. Wait another 15-20 minutes. Contractions still coming, and now coming hard. Cervix to 5. FINALLY, they located the anesthesiologists and they finally got the epidural set around 8pm. Lovely. Except it really didn't work all that well. I had some numbness, but I could still feel much of the contractions.

Within 25 minutes, I was at 10 cm and ready to push, but the epidural still wasn't working! But at that point, there wasn't much they could do. So I pushed. All I can say is OUCH. It took 14 minutes of pushing, and probably only would've been half that much if it hadn't hurt so much! I felt everything, including the doctor sewing me up afterward.

But Nicholas was here. 6lbs, 13oz, 21 inches long with lots of dark hair. It's funny how once you have a healthy little baby in your arms after nine months of waiting and wondering, you kind of forget all else that's going on, and the fact that the epidural was crap, and the fact that there was a blizzard raging just outside the window, and the fact that Christmas was a few days away, and the fact that life as we know it will never be the same.

Nicholas was here. All the other stuff didn't matter anymore, not at that moment, anyway.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Back in the Blogging Game

Wow - it has been awhile. Too long. And although I really feel like I don't have time for this, I am going to make an attempt to resurrect my blog and post to it with some regularity. After all, I started this blog as a journal of sorts to remember things we've done, places we've been, cute things the kids do or say and in the absence of all that, just to record everyday occurrences. Not sure if it'll work out, but I'll never know unless I try.

I'll begin by doing the bi-annual update I started 3 years ago. For the record, I used to do a "family status" entry every six months to update milestones, what we're up to, how old the boys are and what's going on at that moment in our lives. Used to be November and April, but looks now like I'll be switching to February, and let's see.....ummm....August? Sounds about right.

So where are we? Well, let's start with Jonathan. He's two weeks or so shy of his 6th birthday. He's in kindergarten and does stuff like read on a third grade level, reads atlases, takes pictures with our digital camera, plays computer games and sometimes gets a higher score than me, and loves to mess around with Google maps and Mapquest and loves to watch Dr. G, Medical Examiner (much to our horror). Sound like a kindergartner to you? Yeah, not to me, either. On the other hand, he fights with his brother, doesn't like to share his toys and gets out of bed 16 times after we've tucked him in and before he finally falls asleep. Oh yeah, and he sleeps in on school days, and is up at the crack of dawn (or usually well before) on the weekends. NOW we're sounding more like a kindergartner! Seriously, though, he's a bright little guy who loves to hang out with us wherever we are, often getting in the middle of things that are definitely not his business (like adult conversations), but overall, is a true joy to be around, and a huge help around the house, if you can stand the non-stop commentary.

Then there's Matthew. Matthew was exactly 3 1/2 around Christmas, and is finally, finally, finally potty-trained. At first, we were pretty sure he'd graduate high school in Depends. But somehow, and fairly quickly, we went from extremely frustrated to "don't breathe, but he's sitting on the potty!" He's even dry overnight, all at once. The only thing we can't get him to do yet is wear his big boy underwear, so for now, we're letting him go commando until he decides that it is time. If there's one thing we've learned, sometimes these little guys like to do things on their own pace and without any suggestions from us. So when he chooses to give them a try, we'll be right there to help him. Matthew is a robust little guy, strong and sturdy. He loves cars and trucks and balls and animals and loves to play outside. He will be starting pre-k this fall, going to school with Jonathan. He's got a bit of a stubborn streak, but we're working on that!

And we welcome Nicholas. Full name is Nicholas Gabriel, born on December 19th. Nicholas was a bit of a surprise, not exactly planned. When we realized a third baby was on the way, and subsequently a third boy, we took a deep breath, moved Jonathan and Matthew in the same room, brought the crib up from storage and hoped for the best. And what we got was the sweetest little angel ever. Perhaps it's because we're third-time parents, or maybe because we're a bit older, and a bit more seasoned, but Nicholas is just a true joy. Yes, we're back on the diaper train, after JUST getting off, and then there's the sleepless nights, the endless interruptions of meals by WAAHHHHHHH, and the fact that our children now outnumber us, but we wouldn't trade him back in for the world. Not too much more to say about Nicholas at the moment. He smiles, he gurgles, he steals our hearts. He's starting to sleep slightly better at night. And, he just got out of the hospital after a nasty bout with RSV. But I'm sure we'll have a lot more to say about him in the months and years to come!

Mark and me? In a holding pattern for the moment. Life with a newborn is tough enough, but throw in several feet of snow...twice...along with a particularly cold winter, we're just hanging on, waiting for Spring. Of course, we realize with spring comes the extra work of lawn, gardens, pool, etc..., but at least we can open up the windows, let the sunshine in and start enjoying the great outdoors again. But until then, we'll just wait out this weather, count the days as they go by and maybe fill up some time doing blog entries!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Neat Freak Central

Call in hormones, nesting instinct, anything you want, but here lately, I have been on an ever-increasing cleaning streak. I've been doing closets, one by one. Tossing. Airing out. Giving away. Wiping down shelving and walls, organizing. Yesterday, I cleaned the car. Wow - what a humbling experience that was. I mean, I vacuum the car out with a bit of regularity, but I usually don't pull up the stow-and-go seating panels or go over all the carpets and upholstery with my upholstery attachment on my vacuum, and wipe down all the plastics with cleanser. Despite about 2 or 3 years worth of crumb accumulation, I managed to get the thing looking pretty good - but paid for it with a stiff back for the rest of the day.

Today I'm cleaning out our bathroom storage cabinetry. Everything from medications, hair stuff, lotions, sunscreen, cottonballs, extra toothbrushes, you name it. And already, I've got three bags of stuff to throw away. Not sure if I'm going to regret this about a year from now, but the way I see it, if I haven't used it in over a year, sometimes 2, 3 or even 5, then I probably won't use it now, right? At least that's my rationale for the moment, and seeing all the nice SPACE I have now, it makes it that much easier. No more fumbling around, knocking down bottles and jars trying to reach a Q-tip.

So without further ado, it's back to the bathroom to finish up this little task this morning.

Friday, September 11, 2009

What Is It About Fall?

I say 'Fall', but I guess really, I mean late summer since it's not QUITE Fall yet. But I'm talking about the way the whole earth seems to start to slow down all the sudden. The sun is lazy, not quite making it up as high in the sky. The animals seem quieter, all except the crickets which seem to chirp all day, rather than just at night. The nights get crisp and cool, and it gets dark so early, and stays dark later and later every day.

I don't know why it is, but I get this crazy desire this time of year to cook and bake. Maybe it's the warmth of the oven and stove, or the good smells from the baking, or the fact that the kids are back in school and making homemade snacks and cookies for lunches and classroom activities is such a joy. But it goes beyond all that, even. I bought a chicken last night, and I can't wait to roast it tomorrow. I haven't thought of that all summer, but bring me one cool night, and I'm off to the market! I made an apple cake yesterday and filled the house with that apple-cinnamony smell. And I'm thinking, tonight might be a good time to do my first batch of overnight crock-pot oatmeal so we can wake up to hot, steaming bowls of oatmeal first thing in the morning - who needs an alarm when the odor of cinnamon and nutmeg waft into the bedroom?

I really love the change of season - we live in an area that sees a lot of change seasonally, so it stands to reason I associate different cooking ideas with different times of year - all summer long it's all about fresh produce - corn and beans and melons, tomatoes, summer squash, salads. Dinners focus on that, with whatever summery thing I can throw on the grill as the main dish - hot dogs, hamburgers, sausages, grilled chicken. But as soon as Fall gets near, I find myself a little tired out with all the shelling and peeling and paring and preparing, and just want to stick a chicken in the over, boil up some potatoes to mash, turn on the kitchen light that hasn't been on all summer, and sit down to a cozy meal. It won't last, I know myself. Usually by around March, I'm dying for some fresh stuff, bright greens and yellows and reds on my table again. And summer brings it's own kind of baking - pies and cobblers and fruit muffins, you name it. But for now, I'm ready to move into Fall. Looking forward to that first apple pie I'll make soon, and the smell of homemade bread wafting through at least once a week!

Call me crazy - but I tend to follow my natural urges. Not sure what it's all about, but as long as I'm pulling the fleeces out of the back of the closet, I'll start pulling out the baking dishes as well, and look forward to the season I love best!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


With the new babe coming in 3 1/2 months (EEK!), we've been doing some rearranging around here. Lately, I've been tearing apart closets, cleaning, tossing, straightening, sorting. So far three are done, and two (or maybe 3) remain. But they are the biggies. Jonathan's closet has a curious mixture of his clothes, Matthew's clothes, the new baby's clothes, OUR clothes, toys, clothes he's grown out of, blankets, old shoes, new shoes....well, you get the picture. Today, I may tackle some of that. Believe it or not, I have sorted bins downstairs with age-appropriate clothing for little boys, and there's a bin in Jonathan's room that needs to be sorted and dealt with. That's my plan for this morning, along with the usual laundry and household chores. If I get past that in a reasonable amount of time, I may start on another section of it.

What's my plan here? Well, by the end of the month, I hope to have Matthew's room re-done, and Jonathan moved in. We've ordered the carpet and a new bed for Matthew, so when they're ready, I'll move everything out of the room, clean it good, paint one wall that needs re-doing, and let the pros do their thing, then put all the new stuff in and have a grand "boys room" re-opening.

Yesterday, I spent a good part of the day getting Matthew's closet ready for all the new stuff - we bought and hung new shelving, bought and BUILT a different type of shelving and last night put together a new IKEA dresser for inside the closet to hold the overflow of clothes we don't think will fit in the one large dresser we've got that will go in the room itself. I think I'm about ready to move stuff into Matthew's closet, which, thank goodness, is huge and a walk-in.

So, without further ado, time to get dressed, feed the little sleepy 3 year old that just emerged from his bedroom, and get started!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Not To Be Forgotten

Yesterday, Matthew and I picked up Jonathan from school, and it was a little tough getting them in the car. Matthew was running up and down the hills by the football field, and Jonathan and his little friend Andy were playing tag and chase while I chatted with Andy's dad. Eventually, we got them all reigned in, but then Jonathan and Matthew started picking "flowers", or in this case, tasseled grass. When we finally got to the car and I was buckling everyone in, Jonathan hands me his little tasseled grass and says:

"Here Mommy, this if for you to remind you of the baby that's coming".

Now how sweet is that? Half the time I don't know if he even remembers that he'll have (another) little brother come Christmastime, but obviously, it stays very much on his mind!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Surprised? Not Really....

Well, Jonathan has his first cold of the school year. Big surprise, noting that the weather has been in the upper 40's/low 50's every morning when he leaves, and almost 80 when I pick him up. How in the world am I supposed to dress the kid? But I think it's more than that - last year he did the same thing - went to school one day and picked something up. Rite of passage, I guess. Last year he did well - after the first round, he was healthy for most of the rest of the year, even when we took him to Mexico for a week in February. I expected to come back to raging illness for weeks, but was pleasantly surprised.

So I sent him to school today - just sniffling a little, no fever, no other complaints, plus, he really wanted to go! Now to try and make sure nobody else gets it. Luckily, all 4 of us have a nice 4 day weekend coming up - Jonathan and Mark both have off on Friday and Monday, so we hope to get a lot of stuff done around here - cover the pool for one, and maybe going to pick out carpet for what I'm now calling the "boys" room - Matthew's room will be transformed and Matthew and Jonathan will share for a few years until Baby Boy 3 is big enough to share with Matthew....then Jonathan will get his room back as the oldest, if he wants it. Right now both of them are delighted at the prospect of sharing a room, so we're going with it!

And it seems that Fall is officially here - even though the days are quite sunny and warm, the nights have been very, very cool and the changes in nature are so evident now - trees starting to turn, migrant wildlife moving through. When I sit and realize I don't have THAT much time before Christmas and this baby coming, and all I have to do, I get kind of jittery. So right now, I'm trying to take one day at a time, get as much done as I can when I'm up to it, and not sweating the rest. If there's one thing I've learned in the last 5 years of being a mom, is that the kids come first. That's not something I knew, rather, something I've really had to learn the hard way. And for those who know my standards of housekeeping, or at least attempting to houseclean, you must know that this didn't come easy for me. But it's a process - and one I'd best to get more used too soon!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

How Is School Going, You Ask?

Well, let me tell far, so good! Jonathan started last week with 2 half days, and started yesterday with full days. And it looks like all systems are GO!

I had a few pauses - first of all we found out a week before school began that because there were so many kids to be in the kindergarten class, they decided to make two classes - and by some luck of the draw, Jonathan wound up in the class that didn't have the superstar teacher - the one that everyone loves, the one that he met in June, the one with 20+ years of experience and the one who gives out her home phone number so parents can call her anytime, day or night. Bummer. And as an added bonus, MOST of the kids he was in pre-k with were placed with Superstar Teacher! What's with that? But happily, after meeting his teacher, I am delighted to say that she is a true gem as well, and he loves her, and that's what matters. The second day I went to pick him up, he comes marching outside with his class, and he was holding her hand as they all walked toward the pick-up area. And I recall last year, when the solid-as-a-rock pre-k teacher left unexpectedly a week before school started, and the last-minute replacement turned out to be one of the nicest, most patient and kind people I've ever met. So, never judge a book, they say? They're right. Go with the flow, and you might be unexpectedly pleased. Very pleased.

So anyhow, although pick-ups are a bit hectic, and the parking lot is difficult to navigate with 100's of parents doing the same thing at the same time, and standing outside waiting for the kids gives me some fear about "what happens when it's 30 degrees with 40mph gusts" and I have Matthew and an infant, and oh, did I mention it was freezing rain as well? I know it will happen. Well, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it, I guess.

For now, I'm relishing my quiet mornings after Jonathan leaves with Daddy, and Matthew isn't awake yet, and I get my morning cup and some computer time (like right now!) or throw a load of laundry or two in, and plan my dinner and my day and don't have to worry about picking him up until 2:40. It's a good feeling, let's hope it lasts! Definitely good enough to get me up and get me moving at 6:30 am EVERY morning.

A few quotes heard recently:

"Mommy, I just LOVE that school!"

"Kindergarten was so GREAT today!"

"Mommy, I'm going to school today!"

Let's just hope THAT lasts!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I'm not even going to say it. Okay, just once. I neglect my blog. There it is, now I'm going to leave it alone.

I pick up this blog on a momentous day: the last day of summer vacation for Jonathan, who starts full-time kindergarten tomorrow morning, bright and early. We've already had the meeting, met the teacher, taken his supplies in. We've bought the clothes, we've colored the name tag. The letter to the teacher "Getting to Know Jonathan" has been written and printed and all the forms are filled out and ready to go. So all that's left, all that remains, is one sad Mommy watching her little boy go to school all day, every day.

I'll miss him. I'll never let HIM know that - he's too sensitive. He'd feel bad about it. He'd find a way to turn it into his fault. He'd cry. So, I tell him how wonderful it will be and how much fun he will have, which is the truth. He loves school - he loved his pre-k last year and I know he'll thrive in kindergarten. If they only do half the stuff they say they'll be doing, they'll be doing a LOT. And he tells me he can't wait. He dances around the kitchen, sticking the LAST sticker on the "countdown to school" calendar. He giggles and wiggles and he probably won't sleep much tonight. And that makes me happy, and that makes me proud. I guess if I had to watch my baby go off sad, it would be 1,000 times worse for both him and me - but if I can watch him go off happy, then that's all a mommy can ask for.

And then, as soon as he's gone for most of the day, it's mommy and Matthew time, at least until #3 arrives around Christmas! Mommy and Matthew have lots to do - potty training for one. Scouring the house down to the bare woodwork - a Fall-long project because I think I'll be extremely busy come 2010. Setting up the bedroom, buying new furniture, getting carpet installed, setting up the nursery...again. Going through baby clothes, cleaning out closets. It's a big list, so Matthew and I will be very, very busy, and I tell myself, time will go by so fast, I won't even notice my big boy isn't there. But I don't believe it. I'll notice. I'll miss him like crazy, and maybe it's a funny twist of fate that I wound up pregnant again - a distraction from the process of saying "don't grow up too fast" while actually watching them shoot up like little weeds, and disperse themselves to all corners of the world.

Yes, Jonathan, one day you'll read this, and find out how Mommy REALLY felt.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Algae Blooms and Bruschetta

The last few days around here? A little hectic. Monday afternoon, I was expecting my friend and her 5 boys to come over and swim with my little guys, so after lunch I went outside to take off the solar cover and give it a good vacuuming. Holy algae bloom, batman! Wow - that never happened before! Blame the combination of lots of rain so far this summer and a bit of lackadaisical pool management, but nevertheless, there it was. 2 hours later, I had the whole thing brushed down and shocked, but it was still very cloudy. The kids came over, everyone swam anyway. Not a horrible day.

Then yesterday, water was still cloudy, so we put in some chemical to help that - it helped a bit, but was still cloudy this morning. More kids over to swim yesterday afternoon. By the way, did I mention that Match Box cars sink VERY quickly to the bottom of the pool and are very difficult to fish out with a skimmer net?

ANYWAY, this morning, we still weren't happy with the water clarity, so I was going to re-treat with the clarifier, but when I went out there, I noticed that the dead algae had settled on the walls. I vacuumed again, then brushed down the sides, and immediately, the whole pool started to clear out. Good, good sign. Back in business, almost. I added a maintenance dose of the clarifier instead of the heavy-duty dose, and was putting away my hoses and equipment, when I notice a small child submerged in the shallow end....ummm....that would've been Matthew! Fully clothed and with no flotation, he somehow fell in - and I never heard a sound - splash or anything. Thank God he was bobbing himself to the surface and never even seemed to swallow any water...I fished out the poor little guy and thanked my lucky stars it wasn't any worse.

But enough about pool mishaps - and onto the bruschetta I'm about to make! We have some fresh tomatoes in, and it's way too many for salad - so I'm giving bruschetta a try. Crushed tomatoes, basil, garlic, salt and pepper. Smeared over some nice bread brushed with olive oil and toasted. And if I have enough leftover, might heat it a little and put it over angel hair for dinner with some grated cheese on top. Yum - is it dinnertime yet?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Breaking the News to the 5 Year Old

So with all the talk about "#3", and all the doctors appointments, and all the discussion about baby items, etc..., you'd think Jonathan would've caught on by now. But he hadn't said anything, so we weren't sure. The other night at the dinner table, Mark and I were going to say something, but he got distracted and ran off. We tried to call him back and told him we had something to tell him, but no dice. We gave up. Save it for another day, we said.

Well, that other day came last night. Mark and I happened to both be tucking him into bed last night, and I was still wearing my swimsuit from the day's activities, and my sarong tied like a skirt had dipped below my growing belly. Jonathan was rubbing my belly for whatever reason, and then started patting it. Mark, ever the eloquent, says something like - "isn't Mommy's belly getting big?" To which Jonathan responded by patting it more. Then I said "Careful, you don't want to beat on the baby...." He stopped. He paused. He looked up slowly and shyly, and with wonderment in his little eyes and a huge smile on his face, he says "Mommy, are you going to have a baby?" Despite me wondering how on earth this got by him the last few months, I almost melted with the charm of the whole thing - he was so intrigued, so delighted.

A few minutes later, Mark had kissed him and left, and I turned out his light and said prayers with him, then snuggled a bit and asked him if there was anything he wanted to talk to me about. Yes, he says. "What is the name of that fishing boat on Deadliest Catch?" I'm serious - that's the question he had for me. So we talked about names of fishing boats for awhile - and for those of you not initiated - Deadliest Catch is the cable show on Discovery about the Alaskan King Crab fishermen. Jonathan loves the show, is addicted to it. It can be a little rough around the edges, but we let him watch it anyway. So we continue to discuss fishing and crabbing for a bit, when he reaches out a tentative little hand and pats my belly again and says "I can't wait to see it." I told him it would be awhile, but he would eventually have a new little brother or sister. Then he reaches down, pulls up his pajama shirt and pats his own belly and says "Someday, I'll have a baby in my belly, too."

Oh my. Well, I hope not! I'll spare you the rest of the details of THAT conversation, but all in all, I think the news breakage went well. Now lets hope he responds even half as well when we tell him he'll have to share a room with Matthew to make room for whatever's in Mommy's growing belly!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Summer of Freedom

Okay, so the 4th of July is over, which usually means to me that summer is half over. Yes, I know, technically it's only a 1/3 over, but after the 4th, summer seems to fly by. And with Jonathan starting full-time kindergarten on Aug. 27th (!), there's not that much time left to enjoy all the things we thought we'd enjoy.

First of all, the weather has been pure crap so far! One week of hot weather where we've been able to swim. Then it went back to cool-ish days and downright chilly nights, making the pool water colder, making it not even worth it to pull off the solar cover and go for a swim. It's finally looking like we'll be getting some warmer weather now, so we're counting on that!

And of course, there's vacations (upcoming) and long, long weekends at Grandma and Poppy's house (already did one, still more to come) and day trips and hikes and visits to the zoo and maybe even a baseball game or two. We still have lots of stuff planned for the summer!

But then what? Jonathan starts full-time school. Is that the end of our freedom, our autonomy? Whereas before, we were used to just picking ourselves up and heading anywhere we wanted at anytime. Cancun in February? No problem, just find a cheap flight! Long weekend in Pittsburgh for some shopping, some micro-brews and a visit to the Carnegie museums? Go for it. An overnight at Grandma's, just...because? Just pack an overnight bag and get in the car. Vacations anytime we want, and not when the rest of the world takes vacations? You betcha.

Eek. So now what? 5 days a week. Get up early, pack lunch, get him off to school, pick him up sometime in the afternoon, do it all over again the next day. Sure, we did it last year - for pre-k, but for one, it was only 3 days a week and 1/2 days at that, and he missed quite a few days because we had things to do and places to be! And it really didn't matter much. But kindergarten is mandated. And I believe the school's policy on kids missing days is "strongly discouraged." Meaning, you might get away with it once a year or so, but anything more than that could be troublesome. He may not be allowed to make work up or make up tests (in later years). And although I could certainly write a note saying "Jonathan was 'under the weather'", well, that's like, lying, right? And besides, once we have Matthew in school (the same school) and perhaps #3 in later years...well, they all can't be sick at once, now can they? :-)

Now, granted, being in private school has some advantages - long breaks for the religious holidays for one, and even for Thanksgiving they get a longer break than most. So I guess we'll have to take advantage of these when we can, and if something comes up we just can't say no to, he'll just have to miss a day or two. I'm of the mindset that family excursions and life experience is just as important, if not moreso, than classroom learning anyway, so we'll go with that.

In the meantime, we're going to milk the summer, or at least what's left of it and hope we can get a lot squeezed in over the next few weeks. School is looming - I have a feeling the stores are going to be putting all those picnic supplies on clearance and dragging out the crayons and pencils very shortly.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Little Announcement

Well, we had a nice visit with the in-laws - they left yesterday afternoon, and I think our whirlwind of houseguests has settled down for a bit! Not that I mind - I love having people come to visit, but with being pregnant and all...oh, wait, didn't I blog about that yet? NO? Snort. Well, yeah, #3 is on board, so to speak.

I hesitate to call it Baby OOPS in print. After all, blogs will exist in all posterity, right? But technically, it was a little...let's just say...unplanned. After all, I'm 39 years old, and this baby is due on December 31st!! Do you actually think that if it WAS planned, we would've worked out even the POSSIBILITY of having that for a due date?

So anyhow - these things happen, and it will be fine. That's the way life works sometimes. There's a lot of uncertainty - how will Christmas be? How in the world will the boys share a room? THREE kids in private school? What about Mommy's nice job? Can we handle three?

All to be answered at a later date. For now, one day at a time. I just started the second trimester, so I have more time to anguish over everything, oh, did I say anguish? I MEANT "consider", yeah, that's it!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Sunday in June

Well, it doesn't FEEL like June, being cloudy and only about 70 degrees - this summer has been very cool so far. But at least we did get some warm days in this past week. Jonathan had soccer camp and seemed to enjoy it and do well, and we finally managed to get in the pool. I took the boys out swimming 4 days in a row! Makes an un-airconditioned house bearable, when you can spend half the afternoon in the pool, come in, get everyone into dry clothes and then start preparing dinner - even if the house is 85 degrees inside, your body temp is lower from the swimming and the cool water, and I manage to stay cool throughout dinner, same with the kids.

Today? We're waiting for Grammy and Grandpa to arrive for a couple of days. Not sure what time they're planning on arriving, but in the meantime, I think I'll mop a floor or two and maybe go out for a little brunch and hit the market for a few last minute things.

Then, I'm going to make a chocolate angel food cake with a raspberry topping - we got some fresh raspberries at the Farmer's Market yesterday.

And MAYBE, we'll get a little sunshine in the next few days so we can enjoy the pool with the grandparents!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Too Long of an Absence

Wow - almost a whole month gone by with no blog entries. Which is really disappointing to me because I really want to keep up with it for no other reason than to have it as a record of our lives, a journal of sorts to view our lives over the years.

But life gets in the way, and when I only have a few minutes and can't think of anything earth-shattering to blog about, I don't bother. But then it occurs to me, must all my blog entries be earth shattering?

I'm thinking not. I'm thinking that I need to be a little less anxious about my blog, about it's content and continuity, and just write what's in my head from day to day, even if it's only a sentence here or a thought there.

In a way, Facebook has kind of taken over my blog time, but I think I'm going to try to pay a little more attention to my blog.

So I'm going to give it a try. The entries may be briefer and less concise and with less information, but at least I'll be keeping up with it, and at least I'll feel better about what I've been perceiving as our family journal, and what I've been seriously neglecting lately.

Friday, May 29, 2009

May, Schmay

So the month of May kinda stunk around here. The weather hasn't been great - lots of cool, rainy weather with a few nice breaks. We did get some nice warm sunshine for 3 or 4 days in a row at some point, but for the most part, we've been dodging showers, covering our new plantings to avoid frost all the way until THE 18th (!!!), and enduring the windows open, the windows shut, the windows open, the windows shut. One night the boys wear summer pj's to bed, the next night they're wearing long pants and long-sleeved flannel. One night we're shivering under an extra blanket, the next night we need the ceiling fan. Makes no sense, and probably contributed to the fact that all 4 of us have been...well...under the weather. Jonathan has finally stopped coughing. It lasted 4.5 weeks. He's on Zyrtec now, doing better, but I'm still not at all convinced it was only allergies. Matthew had his for just over 3 weeks. I don't think his was allergies at all - I think he had a respiratory infection the whole time. Which I believe he gave to me, which I gave to Mark. I've had it for 2.5 weeks now, Mark for about 2 weeks. Last night, we were still up at midnight, coughing our lungs out and sucking down Ricola's. I think, think, THINK we're all about out of the woods at this point.

So that's been our May. The usually beautiful month of May, and this year, it just hasn't been the greatest! But things are looking up. Today, for instance, is Jonathan's last day of school. They're having a little song presentation at 10:30, followed by a picnic lunch (if it doesn't RAIN!) and then he's done. We're looking forward to summer - vacations, trips to Grandma's, soccer camp, swimming, playdates, walks on the trail, bicycle rides, picnics. Lots of things planned, and I'm sure summer will go by WAY too fast for all of us!

The only other redeeming quality of this bedraggled month? The Farmer's Market started yesterday! Anyone who reads my blog knows how much I love the Farmer's market. Right now, in my fridge, I have fresh asparagus, spinach, onions, strawberries and lettuce, right out of the ground. Most was picked yesterday. There is nothing in the world better than food made with fresh produce, and seasoned with herbs right out of my own backyard. Last night, we had chicken florentine pasta seasoned with my own home-grown rosemary and chives. I know I have a long weekend of cooking and washing produce ahead of me - but that's okay - it brings me true joy to be able to use this great stuff and it's so good for you!

So I leave you with the Chicken Florentine recipe - partially absconded from a few websites, but mostly my own creation:

2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
olive oil
salt + pepper or garlic pepper salt

2-3 spring onions, scallions or 1/4 sliced yellow onion
handfull of fresh chives, snipped
nice sprig of fresh rosemary

1/2 c. white cooking wine
1/2 - 3/4 c. heavy whipping cream

a big colander full of washed, torn, fresh spinach
salt and pepper

pasta of your choice

Trim and cube the chicken breasts, season with salt and pepper or garlic pepper salt and saute in olive oil until cooked through - 5-8 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Add a little more olive oil, add the onions and saute for 3-4 minutes until they begin to turn translucent. Increase heat to medium-high, and add the cooking wine. Bring to a boil, and let about half the liquid boil off. Then add the whipping cream, bring to a boil again, stir until thickened and reduce heat. Add the chicken back in, and the rosemary and chives. Keep over low heat.

Meanwhile, cook pasta. Use another pan to wilt the spinach - add some olive oil, throw in the spinach and bring up the heat. Toss and stir the spinach until it begins to wilt a bit, then cover and reduce heat. Allow it to reduce and wilt, but don't let it go to far, and don't let it lose that bright green color.

When the pasta is done and the spinach is done, strain both and add it all together in the pot with the chicken/sauce mixture. Serve hot with freshly grated pecorino romano cheese.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Potty Training, Take One

When Jonathan was almost 3, we decided it was time for him to lose the diapers. About 5 days later, he was fully trained, even overnight. Not sure how that happened, the only explanation I have is that he basically trained himself. We were there to make sure he had the physiological ability to "hold it" and to "know" when he had to go, and once we knew that, a little encouragement here and a little firmness there, and he was done.

Then there's Matthew. He's about the same age as Jonathan was when he trained. He'll be 3 next month. So yesterday, starting the long weekend, we decided to give it a go. Let's just say: no such luck on this one! He'll sit on the potty. He'll sit on the potty for an hour. He'll read books, he'll giggle, he'll play with his toes, he'll point to all his body parts. But eliminate waste from his body he will NOT. No, he'll save that until we get him up, put on his new Elmo underwear and send him out to the kitchen for lunch. Talk about floodgates!

Back to the drawing board. We'll be sitting on the potty everyday. Just for fun. Just to read. And to play with our toes. But just wait, Matthew. The one day that you let your guard down and something comes out of either nether region, wait until you see that celebration! You will want to go again and again and again....we hope.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Gift From a Little Boy

Last night we ate dinner outside on the patio. We love to do that when the weather's nice, but the one problem is keeping the boys in their seats long enough to finish. There are too many things for them to look at outside, and the toys they left behind to come to the table are sitting there in the yard and in the driveway, beckoning to them all through the meal.

Last night was no exception. I think it was Matthew who escaped the table first, followed shortly thereafter by Jonathan, who had at least FINISHED his meal. In a way, it's not so bad. Mark and I get to enjoy the rest of our meal getting our words in edgewise, and switching the conversation to topics that sometimes shouldn't be covered with the little guys present.

So there they were, playing at the edge of the wooded area. More or less behaving. All the sudden, Jonathan seemed to find something incredibly interesting. He picked it up, and started running back to the table, a look of high excitement on his face. I had no idea what was coming. A baby turtle? A feather? Some icky bug? No, it was a rock. In fact, it was a heart-shaped rock. Nothing more spectacular about it, except it was about the size of his palm, and it was indeed, a very distinct heart shape. He held it out, his eyes bright and shining, and brought it to me - "look Mommy, a heart-shaped rock!" I marveled, more at his fascination than the rock itself, until he said "it's for you, Mommy." Awwwwwww. Melt my heart, man. I added it to my collection of "very special things" on my bookshelf, and told him I would cherish it for life.

And I will.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Hike at the Park

One of the reasons we even considered moving to this part of Maryland was the easy access to outdoor opportunities the area provides. All one needs to do is hop in the car and in less than 20 minutes, you can be at some great places to commune with nature. There's hiking and camping, picnic grounds, fishing, canoeing, kayaks, you name it. So when all the stars aligned last weekend bringing us a great weather day, minimal chores to get done and the boys were in relatively good moods, we decided to throw together an impromptu hike and picnic last Saturday.

And what a great day it was! We packed some lunch and some snacks and drinks, jumped in the car and headed for Rocky Gap State Park - a gorgeous area of Mountain Maryland about 15 minutes from our house. Rocky Gap has it all, a nice lake, a lodge, campgrounds, a beach, a mountain or two, golf course, and the requisite hiking trails. That's were we were headed. We haven't explored much of the park yet - most of our exploration had been limited to the Lakeside Loop Trail - a relatively flat, well-traveled trail that circles the lake, goes through the campground and begins and ends at the parking lot. Great for little kids, and lots of great views of the lake. But this time we wanted to check out something different, so at the trail heads, we consulted the map and saw a different trail - the Evitts Mountain Trail that connected to Lakeside Loop and would bring us back to the parking lot within a decent time for lunch. So off we went.

Neither Mark nor I checked the difficulty on the Evitt's Mountain trail. I mean, why bother, right? Our 2 year old and 5 year old could handle it. Right. Actually, it wasn't TOO bad. There were some areas that if someone would've fallen, it would've been disastrous. But what a gorgeous hike it turned out to be. A few minutes through the woods and the trail started going down, down, down, and finally wound up in a gorge with a rushing river at the bottom - we got to cross a neat wooden bridge and then start the major uphill. There were some huge rocks, some cliff-like topography, lots of birds and blooming spring vegetation. Matthew needed to be carried a bit, especially up the slopes, but for the most part, the boys did great and we made it back to the car in time to dig into lunch - well-deserved after a hike made for champions!

I'm ready to go again. So are the boys - all three of them! Nicest part? What we came to Western Maryland for - close to home, didn't cost us a dime, no fighting mass humanity to get where you're going and when you get there, not a soul in sight. We passed nothing but wildlife on that trail, and only started running into a few folks as we got closer to the more well-traveled areas. Lots to explore around these parts - and with the boys getting bigger, looks like a lot of adventures in the coming years!

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Oh where oh where have you gone, time? I look at my blog and just weeks have gone by. I'm afraid I'm going to have to resort to the deadly "bullet entries" just to get caught up....let's see....

- Three weeks. That's how long Jonathan's been coughing. And coughing. And coughing. Sometimes it's tight, sometimes it's loose (I know, TMI), sometimes it keeps him up half the night, other times he sleeps for 12 solid without a peep.

- Twice. That's how many times we've been to the doctor over this. No fever. No other symptoms. Doctors are thinking allergies.

- Two weeks. That's how long Matthew's been coughing. Did I mention the hoarseness? See above for the doctor schedule.

- Eye drops and Zyrtec. That's the solution for the moment. And riding out this horrible pollen wave this Spring. Maybe in a week or two, things will look better.

- Three days. That's how long I'VE been coughing. But unlike the kids - I have a bona fide cold. I think. Perhaps I'm in for three weeks of this myself. Sigh.

- 70's - 80's. No, not the era, the TEMPERATURE! Finally! Although it was in the 30's overnight two nights ago, it looks like we're finally over the hump, spring has sprung for good, bring on summer, we're ready!

- One brandy-new lawn mower to replace the one that....SOMEONE....broke.

- One very, very clean toolshed (thank you, Grammy and Grandpa for spending the weekend with us so we could get these chores done!) making room for said new lawn mower.

- Spring planting, courtesy of Mark? Getting there. Onions, tomatoes and squash are in the ground. Most perennials in. Annuals are getting there. Plans in the Fall to rip out a hillside or two for a large-scale terracing project that will become our NEW veggie garden next summer.

- Work, work, work. Thank, God, both jobs secure. Enough said.

- School? Jonathan only has 3 more days! Then, end of year picnic. Parent conferences (for pre-k?), kindergarten open-house, and then, in mid-June, soccer camp! If he likes it, he can join the local league in the Fall.

- Potty training? Commences this weekend in full glory. Have spent the last few months "getting to know the potty". Jonathan was so easy. Matthew seems a little...resistant. Wish us luck!

So that's about it right now, unless you want to hear about the "to-do" list. Trust me, you don't. Nice three-day weekend coming up with some nice weather...we're planning on sticking around to try and do this potty thing, so hopefully we'll get a lot of it done. And in between, throwing a large variety of food on the grill for three days in a row. VERY much looking forward to a nice weekend with the family! Happy Memorial Day!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Half-Year Update

Wow, where has time gone? Seems like just yesterday I was writing the November update, and here we are - 6 months later and ready for another one!

So where are we? Pretty much the same as we were in November, and sometimes, that's a good thing. Not to say that change isn't good, but occasionally, you need a little steadiness in your life, a little status quo to maintain sanity.

On that note, we'll start with Mark this time. He always winds up last on the list probably because he has the least change of all of us on a regular basis, but these days, he's busier than ever since Spring is finally here! Mark is busy planning and planting. He put in a ton of onion plants - enough that if they all come up and yield onions, we'll be selling them (or rather paying people to take them) on the street corners. He's also buying annuals and planning the vegetable beds, and already has a few veggies bought - we're just waiting for mid-May to put them in, because around here, that's usually when the threat of frost is officially gone. Add to that list cutting the grass, getting out the patio furniture, tearing out old landscaping and putting in new, mulching all the beds, everywhere, keeping the deer off the flowers, planning a windowsill scraping and painting "party" (with me as the only invited guest), and a shed-cleaning out party (again, a small party, at that), and add in the usual chores of helping out with the kids, keeping this place shipshape, and always, always, doing all our mail, financial stuff and bills, and you've got one busy guy, but one very appreciated guy. Really not sure what I'd do without him!

Next, we have Matthew. Matthew is almost 3 - he'll have his birthday in late June. My previous fears of him never talking were unfounded, and been replaced by the fear that no one will ever understand a word the kid says but maybe me, Mark and Grandma. He's the poster-child for garbled speech. But it's getting better, and we'll let the doctor decide when and if he needs some kind of help. Matthew is kind of a brute. He barrels his way through life, knocking over pretty much anything in his path, his path to whatever he has on his mind. He is also extremely vocal about his needs and wants, and these vocalizations tend to escalate rather obnoxiously until he figures out he's not going to get his way. Then he goes and has a tantrum or tosses a toy. And then he gets to see his friend the Naughty Corner. Did I say Terrible Two's back in November? I sure did. Still there. Waiting for three. Hope it magically changes! But what can I say - he's cute as a button and loves to snuggle, loves to read books and color and play with rocks - anywhere, anytime. He also loves animals and music and sports. He adores his big brother, follows him around, repeats everything Jonathan says, including sneezing and one time, he even mimicked Jonathan when Jonathan tripped and fell on the steps. If I hadn't been concerned for Jonathan's welfare, I think I would have wet myself laughing - he even made the same grunt noise as he fell as Jonathan involuntarily did.

Much to Jonathan's misery. Jonathan loves his little brother, no doubt, but Jonathan also loves his independence, his privacy, and his toys. And he particularly hates it when one of his toys gets broken or goes missing, courtesy of Matthew. But that's what little brothers are for, I guess. Anyway, Jonathan is now 5 years, 2 months, going on about 12. He is almost finished his first year of "school" - his pre-k ends at the end of May. He'll be off to kindergarten full-time in the Fall, and I'm not sure how I'm going to stand it. I said this about pre-k, too, but that was only 3 days a week for half a day. I can't imagine life without my big boy all day, everyday. If you ask me, schools get the best of your children. Early in the day when they're sharp and clever and happy and well-rested. Then, the school sends them home to you - tired, cranky, hungry...thanks a lot. Anyway, more in the Fall on that one I guess. Jonathan is a pretty studious one. Although he loves the great outdoors, riding his bike and going to the playground, his mind is always pre-occupied with some scientific or numerical notion - he counts things he sees, comments about shapes of leaves and the position of the sun in the sky, plays with a calculator in his spare time (Mommy, did you know that 45 plus 51 equals 96?!!!), and is obssessed with learning the states, their location, their capitals, their nicknames and their size ranking. He's really growing up - he can dress and undress himself (when he puts his mind to it!) although he sometimes needs help with a particularly difficult button or a shirt that's tough to get over his head. After most meals, he'll clear away his dishes, putting them in the dishwasher or sink, without even being asked. And saints preserve us, he is finally tasting and eating a wider variety of foods. Thanks to a little strong-arming from us, plus what seems to be a newfound curiousity (or maybe from just watching his school friends eat different foods at lunchtimes in school), he is finally coming around in that department. A few nights a week, I'll still make his favorite, noodles with butter, but other nights, he must at least try what we're eating, or if I truly don't think he'll like it, I'll make him a hot dog or a quesadilla or a peanut butter sandwich. I certainly don't expect him to eat tossed salads with chicken, feta and avocado, but that happens to be one of me and Mark's you gotta do what you gotta do!

As for me - not much change here. Busy, as usual, busy at home, busy with the kids, busy with the part-time job, keeping up the house, busy with the flute and various choirs. Had an opportunity to join the local performance band, but had to turn that one down - just not enough hours in the day, and flute committments already take up enough family time; I just don't want to add any more right now. I'm looking forward to summer and the freedom it brings, the warm weather, the windows open, playing with the kids in the pool and summer hikes and bikes. Not to mention one of my absolute favorite things: the farmer's market! Fresh produce is coming, and I can't wait!

So that's us, for this half-year, anyway. Like I said, not much going on, but I'll take it. We have our jobs, we have our home and we have enough leftover to have fun. Right about now, that means the world to me!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Could I Live Without China?

Last week, Mark showed me an article he was reading about drywall that had been manufactured in China during the height of the housing boom here in the US a few years ago. Seems that they were manufacturing drywall so fast because demand was so high, that they weren't paying a whole lot of attention to the process (big surprise) and now the drywall which is in people's homes, is leeching all kinds of toxic crap and making people sick. Well, gee, China, thanks a lot. Not bad enough to hear about toxic dog food, excessive lead in children's toys, and whatever crap was in the baby formula. It got me thinking....first of all, I can't even begin to imagine the factories over there. Considering practically everything we buy is made in China, they must have factories from one end of the horizon to the other. And with however many billion people to work there, and how fast their production's surprising that more stuff isn't faulty, although, technically, it is. Every month I read magazines that tell about recalls on all kinds of stuff...lamps, toys, grills, you name it. It started me wondering...could I live without China-made goods? A quick inspection of everything around me, including the little toys I'd put in my kids' Easter baskets, the plastic eggs and even the basket itself was made in China. Half or probably well over more than half the stuff in my kitchen....well, I could've done a full-house inventory, but we all know what the outcome would've been. Wow.

So I said to Mark - what do you think? Could we do this? Could we put a moratorium on Chinese-manufactured goods coming into this house? Would we, COULD we survive? He was skeptical, and of course, so was I. But think about it. If enough American families did this, it would not only force China to reconsider their shoddy manufacturing, but maybe, just maybe it would expand other markets, like hmmmm, AMERICAN made products? Okay, that's a stretch.

Our first major purchase since then - shelving from IKEA. I'd had my eye on this shelving for about a year now. We did the research, we measured, we packed up the boys and found ourselves in the IKEA store. Never gave nary a thought to where this stuff was from. Just bought and loaded and transported home. Imagine my surprise (and DELIGHT) when we discovered that this particular shelving system was absolutely NOT manufactured in China, rather, it was from Canada, and it was made from sustainable wood products! Oh Happy Day! Gotta love IKEA! And then, yesterday. Here in Cumberland we have this great blanket outlet - Biederlack blankets and they have 50,000 in stock. And I had never been there! So with both little guys in tow, I checked it out yesterday, and bought a great American-made blanket/bedspread thing for our guest room for summer. I will definitely be doing more shopping there in the future - great blankets, even greater prices and local!

But then, a backslide. I've been doing great with the clothesline outside - loving going out, getting a breath of fresh air, hanging up the clothes, NOT using the dryer....but I needed a thing to hold my clothespins (Jonathan was working out for a while, but he tends to run off with my clothespins!) So at the grocery the other day, I found a little canvas pouch-thing on a hanger that was designed to do JUST what I wanted, so I threw it in the cart, no hesitation. Then, I picked it up again and turned it over. China. DOH! And I put it back in the cart. I NEEDED it! What am I supposed to do, go home, search the internet, pay three times as much plus shipping, wait two know the drill. Well, that's just great. That's like a vegetarian eating a cheeseburger and saying "But I was hungry."

So I made sort of a deal with myself for the future. I'm going to make an honest effort to find things not made in China. If I'm pressed for time and have no choice, well, what can I say. And I'm thinking something else might just come out of this. Maybe, just maybe, it will cut down on some impulse purchases. Did you ever think - hey, I want "xyz" so you ran out to buy it the very next day? But sometimes, you think - hey, I want "xyz" and you wait until say, the weekend to get it, and by the weekend, you discover you could live without it? Happens to me sometimes, so maybe if I told myself, I'll buy "xyz" if I can find one not made in China, I may just realize I don't need it after all, and save myself from bringing more stuff into the house.

So why not join me in my China-manufactured goods semi-boycott?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Hot Cross Buns

Man, it has been TOO LONG since I've blogged about food and the fun I have in the kitchen! Not to say the cooking has stopped, no indeed. Sometimes I think I spend half my life in this kitchen...somedays it feels like I never leave it. But in a way, that's okay. My kitchen's big and sunny with lots of big windows that overlook the yard, the gardens, and out to the mountains. If there was a room I'd pick to HAVE to be in, it'd be the kitchen.

And so it's with lots of happiness that I bring you: Hot Cross Buns for Good Friday. I was under the mistaken impression that these were traditionally for Easter Sunday. Wrong. Going back to pre-Anglican England, these were almost exclusively for Good Friday - with the cross on top to remind us of the crucifixion of Jesus. Well, why not I asked myself. I consulted a couple of recipe books, then searched online...then did what I always do - take the best parts of several recipes and conjure up my own.

I also learned a really neat new trick. I used to raise bread in my bathroom - don't laugh! There's a wonderful heater in there and the rest of the house is relatively cool - in winter that is. So it's hard to make sure my doughs are staying nice and toasty warm. I read online where a great place to raise dough is actually in the oven with just the light on. The heat from the incandescent bulb provides a nice warm environment, and the closed oven is free from drafts and from curious little fingers. Particularly curious little fingers that have ahem....been in the bathroom and it's environs.

So anyway, I did the first rise in my bread machine - just didn't feel like getting the big mixer with the dough hook out today! I know, I know, I SHOULD be kneading it by hand...but why? Mixer does it so well! Anyway, used the bread machine since it was still on the countertop from last night's pizza crust. Did the first rise in there. Left it in an additional hour. Then shaped the dough into balls, then stuck it in my "oven with the light on" for several hours. Cut some crosses in the top and baked, then glazed with sugary icing and there you have it! Yum. Almost too indulgent for Good Friday, but not really...they're not really all that sweet, and these turned out really light and fluffy. The raisins got a little shredded by my bread machine....darn, didn't think of THAT....but it turned out fine since they got all dispersed throughout the dough rather than just a raisin here, raisin there.

But now, who's going to eat all these buns?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

That's Just What Mommies Do

Yesterday, I think I went from room to room just carrying things around. I'd put something down in one room, pick up something else, trying to organize, trying to straighten the mess that is my house and my life. I walked into Jonathan's room and sighed. Somewhere around two dozen books were piled next to his bed, in his bed, on the floor next to the bed....the child likes to read himself to sleep at night, and while I can't fault him for that, he hasn't yet grasped the concept of returning the books to the bookshelf the next day!

So, guess who gets to do it? And I just can't put them back on the bookshelf. My OCD tendencies take over, and I must line them up by size and genre - that is, the two volume children's dictionary (yes, he reads dictionaries) must go together, and the Dr. Seuss collection must be grouped together. Call me crazy, but I'm a little anal about that stuff.....gee, ya think that's why I never get half the stuff done around the house I should - 'cause I'm too busy alphabetizing my spices? NAH!

Jonathan was at school, so this task actually only took a minute or two, and didn't get ripped apart immediately, because...he was at school! Fast forward to bedtime. I was in the kitchen putting away some groceries because I'd just returned from the market. In my absence, Mark had handled baths, bedtime snacks and teeth-brushings (love you, sweetie!) and Jonathan was ready to be tucked in. I THOUGHT he had already settled in when all the sudden he comes running out to the kitchen.

He says to me "Mommy, I have to thank you for something." I said "You do? What do you have to thank me for?" He tells me "Thank you for straightening my books, you did it beautifully!" Awwww. Well, shucks. He has this cute little smile on his face - the kid was actually really grateful! I hugged him and told him "you're welcome - that's what Mommies are for..." and then I stopped and thought to myself WHAT did I just tell him? Did I just tell him that Mommies are there to clean up everyone's mess and re-organize everyone's life and make things all pretty and neat again (of course, at our own expense)? Did I just say that?

I guess I did. And if it brings my little guy that much pleasure, I'd do it all over again.