Saturday, December 25, 2010

Over a month.

I'm sorry.  I owe you all the "yous" out there who had been reading my blog more and better than that.  And with that I ask for your forgiveness and promise to try to do better in the future.  And I truly hope and expect many of you will forgive me and we will move on.

That really seems so easy doesn't it?  It seems so easy to just ask for forgiveness and promise to try to do better.  And most of us would be (and are) offended when we are expected just to grant forgiveness.  And yet we are.  We --those of us who are Christians-- are called upon to grant forgiveness.  Just like Jesus does for us everyday.

My husband often tells my children I am the most faithful and blessed person he knows.  I tell my children in spite of their father's blindness, I sin at least once before I get out of bed every morning.  I'm not perfect, and neither are they.  Nobody in this world is.  We all sin and fall short of the Glory of God.  That's why he gave us Jesus.  Jesus paid the price for every one of the sins I have committed and will commit yet.

And every day I wake up, usually sin first, then pray that God forgives my sins from the day before and helps me to sin less than I did yesterday.  And everyday I probably sin about the same as I did the day before.  (For the curious my in the bed sin is usually thinking bad thoughts about the makers of alarm clocks, and other things that wake me from my sleep)

So if we are all supposed to expect God to forgive us and we are supposed to forgive each other, why do we get so bent out of shape when someone asks for forgiveness and expects it?

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Is supposed to be good for the soul.

Is supposed to be something we embrace.

Is supposed to be a gift from God.

Is not something I am good at.

On Tuesday November 2, I hit a pothole on my way home from work.  This caused my airbag to deploy.  This caused my car to be in the shop until today.  This caused me to be in a loaner car.  The loaner car was the same model as my car, only newer.  I was not comfortable in the loaner.

It wasn't my car.  It didn't drive the same. It didn't feel the same.  It didn't even look the same.  It was different.  

Not bad different actually in many ways better (than my car) different.  But still it was change.  Change I did  not predict, change I was not prepared for and change I did not want.

I hoped to be back in my car the week the pothole happened.  I knew I was starting a new job which was going to be more change and I needed some consistency.  I was right.  I have been completely overwhelmed the past few weeks.  I am not sleeping.  I am not eating.  I am short tempered, frustrated and on the verge of tears.

Someone out there has to be thinking "all this over a car?"  But it's not just a car.  This car was a gift to me from my husband.  And it was the consistency in a swirling, changing world.  Since he bought me my car, my daughter has gone from age 2 to age 5.  My oldest son has gone from his first year in high school to a Junior.  My second oldest son has gone from a 7th grader to High school.  And my youngest son has gone from 2nd grade to his last year in Elementary school.

I have left what I believed (when I took it) was my dream job, I have spent time at home not working, I went from being a smoker to a non-smoker, we have completed 4 of our home renovation projects -- in a nutshell, in nearly 3 years, Life (with a capital "L") has happened.  And yet my car except for a ding and dirty carpets has remained the same.  It's still the beautiful, thoughtful, loving, considerate Valentine's Day Gift my husband gave in 2008 and every time I get in, I am reminded in a very concrete, tangible way that he is a beautiful, thoughtful, loving, considerate human being.  And I am the love of his life.

Maybe not so much has changed after all.

Friday, November 5, 2010

30 Days of Thanksgiving Day 5

Today I as I prepare to leave my old job to start my new one on Monday, I am Thankful for so many things.

1- I have a job in an economy where so many don't.
2- I have had the joy of working with fantastic people.
3- My new job is exciting and a slightly new field for me.

I am just so thankful that I have the opportunity to begin a new exciting job on Monday.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

30 days of Thankful

I am thankful for my husband.  Specifically his ability to remodel houses.

Last night we were watching Renovation Realities and two guys were creating a "man cave" except they didn't even know how to hang a window.  Even I know how to hang a window, theoretically speaking of course.  As in I could instruct someone who would use a level and a tape measure to hang it straight and all, but I know what needs to happen.  Like that you have to frame it and all.  (More than the apparent jackasses on the show)

I also knew that you don't put little 12x12 linoleum squares on a concrete floor of a garage.  For three really apparent reasons:

A) It's gonna be one flipping cold floor.
B) If you don't care about A because you never go barefoot, get rolls of linoleum, not 12x12 squares.
C) When you convert a garage to "living space" you have to level out the floor.  Garages are made to drain run off from your car out to the driveway, so they are sloped.

Now of course my husband has know this for a long time.  He poured the floor of our 3-car garage himself.  Complete with slope.  HE also has as his first job in the old garage conversion to ........ you guessed it ..... level out the floor.

On top of his clearly superior building knowledge, his renovations provide me hours of entertainment.

Tonight as he was painting over some spackling he had put to fix cracks in the walls a la teenaged boys, my daughter and he have the following conversation.

Daddy, why are you painting that?
I had to fix the walls from your brothers Bug-Bug.
Well, you did a really great job on the white, I'm proud of you, Daddy.

Me: cracking up.

30 days of Thankful

Tuesday on my way home from work I had a small accident.  Honestly I didn't even consider it an accident at the time.  And if I did not have airbags, I wouldn't have called it an accident.  I would have said what it was, I hit a pot hole on I-80 and blew out a tire.  No biggie, happens everyday.

However, because of the aforementioned airbags a simple blown out tire becomes an accident.  Something hit a sensor on the underside of my car and deployed the driver's side airbags.  I drive a 2008 Acura TL, The driver's side airbags deploying cause the headliner to rip out of the ceiling of the car and the driver's seat to split open.  So a simple tire blow out causes major car repair (estimated $6K+).

But I am Thankful for airbags, which do save lives.  I am also thankful that my husband took care of everything.  I am most thankful that other than soreness from the seatbelt I am unharmed.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

30 days of Thankful Vote

If you are educated on the issues and the candidates. Vote.

If you believe you owe it to those who fought and died for your freedom.  Vote.

If you believe your one vote can make a difference. Vote.

If you believe what sets our country apart from virtually every other country in the history of the World is Freedom.  Vote.

At every opportunity, whenever you are educated, always in all ways make your voice heard.  Vote.

I am thankful to live in a country where my voice can be heard through peaceful voting.

Monday, November 1, 2010

30 days of Thanksgiving

If you want to have a meaningful November, try thankfulness. I got the info from Lisa at Lisa Notes.

For the 5th year in a row, Rebecca at RebeccaWrites is hosting 30 days of giving thanks at her “November of Thanksgiving” celebration.

So for my first day:

This past Saturday, my husband and I celebrated 11 years of marriage.

And by celebrated I mean we demolished the interior of the "old" garage to prepare for converting it to a Great Room.  After that the kids and I shopped for last minute costume accessories for Halloween the next day.

And I went to bed early with a Sinus infection.

It's a long way from some of our more grand Anniversaries.

There's absolutely no doubt we love eachother.  And we show it in little ways everyday.  He brings me my coffe in bed.  I pack his lunch.  He stops in the middle of the day to text me that he loves me.  I call him on the way home to tell him that I love him.

The children in the house know the quickest way to get on Dad's bad side is to disrespect me.  More than once they have been corrected for not saying "Yes Ma'am."  And God help them if they are more disrespectful than that.

I recently read a book by Andy Stanley, about half way through he talks about his children and how he expects they will respect their mother.  And then he makes a statement something to the tune of "What you value the most, you protect the most."

Until I read that line, I never realized that by training our sons (and daughter) to respect me, he was in fact expressing a whole hearted, fully overflowing deep down love that will last a lifetime.  And this is perhpas the most important and treasured gift he has ever given me.

I am thankful for the comfortable, devoted love we have for eachother.

Friday, October 29, 2010

It was a good run....

While it lasted.

The Staying on Green thing.  It lasted 14 days.  And then on Tuesday bam!  She skated right past yellow straight to red.  Then the following day she got stuck on yellow.  Which means she timed her poor behavior late enough in the day she was unable to come back from it or (much more likely) she was a total pill and made no attempt to recover.

Apparently The Princess was telling her friends at lunch that Vampires were going to eat them.  Makes me so proud.  She made a little boy cry.  Good times. Yes, this will surely go down in my proud memories journal.

Yeah, no not so much.  Her big brother is however beamingly proud of her, following in his footsteps and all.

So we have a run of 14 days, solid green and then she falls off the wagon and goes for broke?  Why?

I really don't get it.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Absolutely Horrified

So my followers should know by now I am starting a new job.  The process for starting this new job has been arduous, revealing and a little bit whole lotta undignified.  First, after multiple interviews, I had to take a personality test.  At the time I found that a bit off putting, however because of it, I will not be doing as a focus one of the things I really hate.  Thank you, weird little personality test for telling them I sooooooo would hate to time meetings and take minutes. as a full time job anyway.  But even though it worked out in my favor in the end I was very freaked about someone getting into my head.  I also spent more than a few moments worried I might fail.  How fun would that be to explain, "Yeah I failed a personality test -- turns out I have none."

So that hurdle behind me I thought, I'm in like Flynn.  And then there were two --more hurdles I mean.  Next came a very probing background check which I found very confusing.  It asked for other names I have used in the past seven years.  While I was pretty confident they did not mean like "Mommy" or "Snookie-Poo" I wasn't sure exactly what to put there.  I've been married for 11 years (almost) but the Social Security Administration did not change my maiden name until like 2005-ish.  So I was pretty sure that fell within the seven year rule.  But I hemmed and hawed over it and clicked the Continue button.  On the back page it summed everything up and showed no different name under "Names used in school".  Now seriously, is this test only for recent grads?  Am I the only who they hire who has been married more than seven years?  Really???  So I clicked back to page one and added my Maiden name.  I left out my first married name because I have been divorced more than seven years and quite frankly felt that was nobody's business -- Although to be fair most people guess it anyway because of the age difference between my oldest and youngest.. Once again I passed the background. Whew, now seriously I must be done with this whole process?  right?

Sorry, once again I was wrong.  The last and most undignified test was yet to come.  Yes, I had to take a drug test.  I have been on the internet a very long time and I've "met" many people who strike you as normal, upstanding, law abiding citizens until in one of the confessions threads they admit to smoking pot -- regularly.  So knowing this, you would think I would not have been surprised, nay creeped out at being asked to provide a sample.  Really?  Me?

So yesterday at lunch I went to this tiny Dr.'s office-like setting on my lunch hour to finally wrap up this hiring process.  And I felt dirty and cheap.  I've had to take drug tests before for employment.  And every time I've felt dirty and cheap.  It's who I am.  I am perhaps a transplant from another era.  I believe that person's word should count for something.  And generally I take people at their word.  This causes me to be burnt from time to time, and that does suck.  But the alternative is to live a cynical existence trusting no one and expecting everyone to get you when they can.  I can't live like that.

I don't want to.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What failure is not.

So I guess I'm kinda on a roll.  My post on Monday outlined what I am not.  And today I will explain why starting 3 jobs in one 365-day period is not failure.  Technically it's 356 days, but you get the idea....

As you can see this year has been a series of literal false starts.  I started just over a year ago desperate and lacking confidence.  I was coming off months of being unable to find a job.  This had never really happened to me. My occupation for the better part of the last decade has been in high demand.  I'm a person who understands FDA Regulations for the Pharmaceutical Industry and can communicate them in a way that doesn't always immediately piss people off.  I can in virtually any audience get at least one person who will at least reluctantly agree with me.  I communicate the neccessary evil. 

So I live in what is perhaps the Pharmaceutical Company Capital of the world, the state of New Jersey.  Everyone in New Jersey knows at least one person who is employed in the Pharmaceutical Industry.  I read a statistic that in 1997 according to census data roughly 7% of the entire population of the state is employed in the pharma industry.  I'm sure that number is higher once the numbers from the most recent census come out.  But in either case that's a lot of people.

So here I am in the best place in the country to be in my chosen profession and I can't find a job.  I can't even get an interview.  Month after month, job posting after job posting, nothing.  Then finally I get a call.

It wasn't ideal, it wasn't a great fit, it was a stretch, and even worse one of the hiring managers told me so at the interview.  The Client I was to be "managing" was difficult.  The contract had been in dispute for months.  The client flat out did not trust the company I was signing on with.  I was expected to turn it around, when the client felt I didn't know what I needed to know.

It was hell.  I was working all the time.  One day last February I was taking a day off.  I was supposed to go to Harrisburg to spend the weekend with a friend.  I couldn't get out of my house.  At one point I felt like I had Tourette's.  Every time I would start to pack, or get stuff together, my iPhone would ding I had mail.  And immediately I was pulling the phone out of the holster and clicking on the mailbox.  On a vacation day.

And yet I hung on.  I gave it all I had.  I went to Bulgaria twice in a 60 day period.  I just kept figuring I wasn't working hard enough.  So I was online 16 hours a day, even weekends.  To the point that my husband was frustrated.  I kept working, kept trying, kept learning.  I've never been one to quit until all other options are exhausted.

Finally in April, I was laid off.  I was on the one hand relieved, I couldn't have stood the pressure cooker much longer.  And on the other hand I was terrified.  I was barely 6 months past looking for a job.  I panicked.  As a result I took the first job I found.  It was also not a great fit, but much more in my comfort zone.  It was something I hated doing, but at least I knew I did it well.

Three months in I was bored to tears.  I went from a pressure cooker to a job where I was completely unproductive.  I did nothing all day.  I can't do this.  I feel like I'm taking advantage of people.  I feel like it's morally wrong.  I worked on a book I wanted to write, I blogged, I wrote book reviews, I searched for a new job, I did a lot of things that brought no value to the company paying for my time.  And I constantly told my Supervisor, I had nothing to do.

So I took my time, I really researched the third job.  I know this is a good fit for me and my abilities.  The Company seems really great, and I expect great things from them.  So while I am starting my third job in 356 days I do expect this will be my last for a very long time.  And for the first time in nearly a year I am excited about going to work.

And this is why even though I'm starting my thrid job in less than a year I am not a failure. No, not like Nixon was not a crook, either.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Good News and Bad News

So the Good News is I have a new job, I start November 8th.  I'm very excited, I think this company will grow exponentially and I'm getting in on the ground floor.  I will be doing what I do best, solving problems, selling ideas and working with people.  I'm very excited about the opportunity.  I feel like I've bounced a few times now since leaving Johnson and Johnson and during this time I have learned what I am definitely not good at.

1) I'm not good at being a stay at home mom.  I love my kids, and enjoy spending time with them, but I guess I have worked for too long, I need a packed schedule and a feeling of accomplishment.  Clean clothes does not give me a feeling of accomplishment.

2) I'm not good at turning around problem clients, when I'm not 100% knowledgeable.  My first job after my failed sahm experiment was a Client Manager for an outsourced Help desk.  The Client was brutal.  The Help Desk was in Bulgaria.  I was not a good peacemaker in that situation.

3) I'm not good at being a world traveller.  I don't like leaving my family for weeks at a time and being in a place that is 7 hours ahead of my family's time zone.  And right now with all that is going on in the world, I don't really enjoy flying internationally.

4) I'm not good at being oncall 24-hours-7 days a week.  When one is the Client Manager of a 24x7 help desk, one is on call that often.  I received a few too many 3:00AM calls on a Saturday.

5) I'm not good at uncertainty.  I was given a layoff notice one Tuesday and had an interview the following Wednesday.  I need predictability.

6) I'm not good at working a job that doesn't really need me.  I've been able to blog because I've had no work to do.  I don't do well with no work.

7) It IS about the money.  I always thought it wasn't about the money for me, and it probably isn't to the extent that it is for my husband as an example.  But while I was not getting paid, I realized it is at least in some small part about the money.

8) I'm not good about long commutes.  As I've spent over 2 hours a day/5 days a week in my car for the last 6 months, I realize that my time with my children is too precious for that.

9) I'm not good at sitting all day.  I've gained 20 pounds since starting the new job and I do not like it.

10) I can trust God and he will help my situation.  This is perhaps the most important lesson of them all.

And the Bad News....

The new job will actually be work.  I'm trying to work on blogging at night when I get home, and hopefully I will be able to, with some regularity, but I don't think it will be 5 days/week. :(

Thursday, October 21, 2010

All about Boo

Boo is my third son.  He's not part of the twosome that is D and J, by the mere fact that they are two years apart and he is 6 years younger.  He is also left out of a huge part of the family history.  We had a house fire.  The fire destroyed our home.  D was 7, J was 5 and Boo was in utero.  The big boys clearly remember the fire, they remember the house, they remember the temporary house, they remember staying at Grammy and Freepa's, they remember their Aunts and Uncles bringing clothes and toys and books.  And they remember D's school taking up a collection and presenting them with all kinds of toys and books and stuff shortly after the fire.

Boo has no recollection of this major family event, except the part that has become part of family lore.  Boo surely doesn't remember living in PA, in the house we rebuilt.  And he probably  doesn't remember moving to New Jersey, he was barely two at the time.  All he remembers is our house in New Jersey on two acres and this school he attends now and these things he knows.  And for this and many other reasons, Boo doesn't have the bond that D & J do.

And for that reason Boo thinks he is not as good.  D has the whole creative, literary, studious brother identity locked up.  J is our athlete and hardworker.  Boo thinks he offers nothing.  Nearly every adult around Boo sees his talents, his gifts, his offerings.  But Boo does not.  Boo is definitely a glass half empty kind of kid.  Most kids Boo's age don't get him.  This doesn't help.  He is too old for fourth grade.

Any chance he's given, he does this "politican thing" as I call it.  He gladhands.  He says "Hello, how are you doing?"  He tells the preacher on Sunday mornings "Great Sermon today Pastor, you really got to me."  He refers to God as "The Lord God Almighty".  What nine year old talks like that?  He's developed quite a reputation at church.  He's been assigned the Lead in the Christmas Pageant, he's our go-to prayer leader in Sunday School, there are adults who expect him to replace the Pastor, maybe soon.  One of the other members last week said "I no longer worry about what he's going to say during Children's time, instead I listen, because I usually learn something."  My response, "His Father and I still worry about what he's going to say." and I'm not really kidding.

How can I get Boo to see himself the way so many adults in his life see him?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Fifteen years ago right about now I was holding my little bald baby boy. 

Clearly from the picture you can see he had a face only a mother could love.  And love him I did.  He was bald and wall eyed and skinny for a very long time.

But even during his "not-so-cute" period he was full of life.  Even as we had him tested for multiple serious diseases, including Lymphoma, Cystic Fibrosis and Leukemia he was happy and bubbly.  Thank God, and because of God, all of those tests came back negative, but it sure was a long road to get there.  Even as I worried about how much he slept --and he slept a lot, he was a joy.  Out of all my four children, Jay-bone was the easiest baby.  He was happy and contented.  He didn't get upset, and just went with the flow.  He was the perfect baby for that time in my life.

His brother already demanded everyone's attention and resented Jason's mere existence.  In short his brother was a very typical two year old who wanted to be an only child.  The marriage between his father and I was already all but finished by the time he was born.  And would end shortly after his birth.

And he did eventually outgrow the "not-so-cute" period.  He was downright adorable for a long time.

But he was special.     He is amazing. 
He was and is a good heart.
He is my special blond boy.
He is exactly what this family needed.  


He loves his sister. 

He has been her favorite big brother 

since before she could talk.

He is an amazing athlete. 

He doesn't realize his talent, 

but one day he will.

 And yes, he is also an evil genius. 
He loves to get his brothers going.  
Especially Boo. 
They definitely have a love-hate relationship.

God sent him to keep his older brother in reality, 
his younger brother grounded and 

his sister on her pedestal.

And now he's 15.
Fifteen years ago I was holding a baby.
And now I hold the heart of an almost-man.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Vegetables and growing up

Sorry I wasn't here yesterday.  We took The Princess to see Veggie Tales Live.  It was all I expected and more.  And she had a blast.  She danced, she played, she ran about.  And as we were walking out she said "When I grow up I want to be a singer on stage."  Her father and I said "Uh huh" in a mindless absent way.

We had just sat through two hours of eight foot tall dancing Vegetables.  After driving two and a half hours to the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania.

When she said it again two and a half hours later, as we were almost home, we didn't really remember the first time.  But the statement that got me the second time was this.

"I want to be a singer and dancer on stage when I'm grown up, like ten."

Now from her vantage point of five, ten is double that --twice her current lifetime and gosh, that's gotta be old, right?

From his and my vantage points, No, not so much.

We explained to her that 10 was NOT grown up and Daddy even got her to agree to forty five.  But I think she just agreed to get us to shut up.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Invasion of the 5 year old body snatchers

Let me Preface this by saying nearly ALL my parenting/nanny/babysitting experience is of the masculine gender.  I took stock of all the children I've babysat over the years and yep, most of those  rug rats  treasures from above were of the male variety.  There were a couple of older sisters thrown in for good measure, but for the most part it was all boy.  And then I proceeded to have 3 of my very own.  And then finally God (probably tired of my pleading) blessed me with my own darling daughter.

Prior to my pregnancy with The Princess, I had sworn off red meat for 20 years.  I existed solely on fish and fowl.  And then about 3 months pregnant I went on the bacon cheeseburger diet.  At work I'd have a bacon, egg and cheese croissant and for lunch it was a bacon cheeseburger. I bought steaks and asked my husband to cook them.  He could not bring himself to do it.  This was one of my defining characteristics.  He was convinced an alien had invaded my body.  No clearly it was just my daughter.

Then she was born.  She delivered with her hand over her head, a mere four years after I delivered a 10 lb 9 ounce bouncing baby boy.  He was easier than her.  Apparently at one point I screamed (at the not-yet-born baby) "Get Out."  She wasn't keen on leaving the womb.

Finally we had her, our beautiful daughter (with a purple arm because it was bruised when she delivered WITH HER HAND OVER HER HEAD!!!).  And that was the last time we slept for 15 months.  Well actually that's not true.  We were known to rent a hotel room at the Hampton Inn down the road from our house while the kids were with a babysitter so we could reconnect as husband and wife catch a few hours of uninterrupted sleep.

And at three months old while I tried to get her used to the formula the daycare was going to provide when she started, she proceeded to go on a hunger strike.  Hunger strike you say?  Yes, for 3 days she refused to eat. At 11 weeks old.  She did not like this new formula.  So we switched her back and provided the Formula to the daycare at our expense.  Thank you Miss Princess.

So now, the Princess is 5.  I have no idea what the heck is going on.  She came up to me the other day just bawling.  She and I were the only ones home so I know her minions ahem brothers didn't do anything.  So I asked, "What's wrong Beautiful?"  her response "I don't know."

Uh what?  Now I am feminine, but not girly.  I don't cry, really at all.  But if I do cry, you can bet I absolutely know why.  Most of my friends call my husband my "Wifey" because he's more sensitive than I am.  So I ask you all who have girls, What the heck?  What does one do when one's daughter cries and doesn't even know why?  While you're working on that one, I've got another scenario you can help me decode.

This morning she finally found her Twinkle Toes shoe that was missing.  So clearly she wants to wear the pair.  She gets dressed, and then insists on tying the shoe.  She does know how to tie, but since the Twinkle Toe has been missing it's been all Mary Janes all the time.  So her shoe tying is a bit rusty.  She was having trouble.  She starts crying --huh?  No there's no crying in shoe tying.  So with the boys I would have said something very sexist like "what are you -- a little girl?"  But clearly this doesn't have the same effect on a little girl as it does on say a little boy.

So please tell me this is going to improve, a lot and quickly.  If it's not then please lie like a rug.  Seriously.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Best non-Announcement Day Ever

So we all have those expected-to-be-important days in life, or what I call the "Announcement days".  Those are the days like births, marriages, parties, etc. where you send out either an announcement or an invite.  One way or another the card industry is getting some money for those days.  There's also generally a camera some where capturing the event for posterity.  We all live for the Announcement Days and our photo albums (physical or virtual) are filled with them.

Then there's a day like yesterday.  It began as just an ordinary Sunday.  We did plan to get pumpkins and while that's a tradition, it's definitely not Announcement worthy.  And then, it all changed.  It all started at Sunday School, one of the Pastors asked if the children were interested in participating in the Christmas Pageant.  I found this slightly odd, but I guess when you have 4 children, the powers that be want to know either you're in or you're out.  Four children in a Christmas Pageant in a small-ish Rural church can really change the make up.  I confirmed 75% participation, Mr. Cool (the ninth grader) wants no part of a Christmas Pageant.  The Pastor noted she wanted to speak to me later and off she went.

It was our turn (4th & 5th graders) to lead the group Sunday School Worship so we told the story of The Wall of Jericho and made it fall.  Hat tip to the King for the brick template and the red paint.  Boo was on cloud nine.  We had only 2 students show up so he was everything except the narrator.  He loved blowing the tin foil covered cardboard trumpet.

After Sunday School, the Pastor found us again and asked if Boo wanted to be the Lead in the Christmas Pageant.  And thus commences his acting career.  This is the most wonderful thing for him.  He loves to be the center of attention.  He's also the third boy in the family.  He's not really into athletics and couldn't compete with his older brother anyway. The role of bookworm son is already being played by his oldest brother.  But this -- be star of the show, oh yeah he's so got this.  And he walked on sunshine the rest of the day.  (literally singing the song -- let's hope there's no singing required)

With Church done we moved on to the pumpkin patch.  The kids love the pumpkin patch.  The boys try to pick the biggest pumpkins they can.  The Black Family rule is:  You can get the biggest pumpkin you can carry out of the patch and to the car.  Mr. Cool always pushes the envelope.  The princess picks out every pumpkin in the patch as hers before settling (usually) on the first one she spotted. And all six of us cut up and laugh throughout the patch.  The kids try to guess how much the biggest pumpkin weighs, and every year ask "Hey Dad could we get the big one this year?" The big one is usually 8 feet in diameter.  The answer is always no.

Back at home, the princess had been requesting to decorate the house for Halloween all week.  "We don't really do that, sweetie" was not a deterrent.  So yesterday afternoon we went out to buy Halloween decorations.  Again Mr. Cool declined, he and the King stayed home.  The three that came had very different visions of a yard/house for halloween.  Dino-man wanted spooky and scary. The Princess wanted goofy scary.  The Boo man wanted something in between.  We settled for spider webs, a furry spider, a goofy ghost and a few other things.  The hit for the Princess is a sparkly purple cat. The real cat, however is not a fan.

All done with the shopping we commenced pumpkin cleaning and carving.  Nobody likes cleaning out their pumpkin.

 I don't get why they can make seedless watermelons and still have stringy pumpkins. But I digress.

Once the pumpkins were cleaned, the King, pumpkin carver extraordinaire carves whatever their hearts desire.  We have a Princess, a Boo, a so goofy it's cool and a dinosaur lined up on our front porch.  Oh yeah and mine is "O" -- perhaps I yell too much.

It's really not about the finished product even though they are super cool jack-o-lanterns, it's really about the 4 or 5 hours that we joke and laugh in the kitchen.  It's about having a few precious hours to reconnect with the boys.  I am reminded all too often of the countdown that has begun.  Dino man has one more Halloween Pumpkin carving before college.  One more.  Sheesh.  How the heck did this happen?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I stayed on Green.

Is how the princess greeted me when I picked her up from school yesterday.  Do you know what that means?

She did it.  She stayed still during Circle Time.

And with those four simple words all the frustrations of the day floated off of my shoulders and out into the universe.

And Smug Mom tried to rear her smug little head and thoughts creeped into my head "Wow, that was easy.  Why didn't I think of this before?" until I realized,

I didn't know what I didn't think of. 

I didn't know why she stayed on green. 

I did not have any idea what made her behave in Circle Time.  I could not write a DIY book on how to make your child sit still and shut up and make a bazillion dollars, because every parent I know would want this secret.  After I played this scenario out in my head, I noticed that her pony tail with the braid was gone from her hair.

I asked what happened.  And the teacher from accross the room answered for her, "She wanted to look like Ava."

Huh?  What?  My independent, strong willed, free spirit wanted to look like someone else?  Huh?

And then as if sensing my confusion she clarified "Yeah Mommy, me and Ava were twins today."

When I realized my five year old daughter was diving into peer pressure head first, the stresses of the day slammed back down on my shoulders like the ton of bricks they were.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Things that made me smile September

The Princess yelling at the caterpillar eating her cherry tomatoes "Caterpillar stop eating my tomatoes, they are for my Dad's Ca-PRAY-zi salad." Daily, at the top of her lungs, for like 3 weeks.

My Jaybone asking me when I would make more Zucchini Bread.

My daughter's first Soccer Game. And the ghosts of my sons' childhoods on the field.

My Magpie and Sophums barking at me every time I walk in the door because they need to lick my face right then.

My Princess saying "My friend Emma is allergic to the leaves changing colors."

Kidding the Dino man about when the princess used to call him Da-woo.

Laughing about the apples we picked that I can't get rid of.

Watching the Dino Man spend two full Saturdays peeling apples.  And him saying he liked it.

Fighting with the sand that isn't holding the brick patio we laid in place.

The Princess trying to hide a bad note sent home from the teacher.

The Boo Man trying to convince me to sign his folder full of send home papers, without actually looking at the papers.

The Princess deciding to clean her room to earn a star for the chore chart, at 7:30 in the morning on a work/school day.

The never ending self-replenishing basket of yet-to-be matched socks that is permanently stuck in my living room.

Sharing my husband's birthday with him for the 12th time.

The 8th Circle Time of Hell

Subtitle: How my kids have declared war on criss cross applesauce and use Circle Time as their battlefield.

For the uninitiated, Circle Time in Preschool and Kindergarten is a lovely time of the day torturous invention where a teacher takes 10-20 children, puts them in a circle on a rug and goes over the calendar and weather and what not this usually takes about 15 minutes, but to my children you'd think it lasted 7 hours.  When I was growing up we were told to sit "Indian Style" however I think that term is frowned upon now and it has become "Criss Cross Applesauce".

Dante's Divine Comedy defines the 8th Circle of Hell as belonging to the Fraudulent.  In that circle Bowge IX belongs to sowers of discord.  Because of my children, well 3 of them anyway, I have been stuck in the 8th Circle of Hell for 11 years. 

My oldest son has his faults.  Behaving at school has never been one of them.  He has always gone to school, sat quietly and for the most part been the kid most teachers adore.  He's never been a stellar student.  And he is not studious, unless the topic really interests him.  But he has also never gotten into trouble.  The teachers in short have loved him.  I've had more than one teacher say, "If only I had a classful of D's.  He is an absolute joy."

After his 2nd year in Catholic school without so much as a demerit I began feeling smug.  I had this whole parenting thing down.  I was raising well-behaved wonderful children.  And I was delusional.  And my second son was about to show me just how delusional I was.

Preschool had been tough with J.  He pushed buttons teachers did not even know they had.  In his 3 year old class he had a friend named Jane.  J and Jane were kindred spirits.  The made quite an unlikely pair of leaders.  Jane was adopted from China, so she was this adorable, petite, dark haired, dark skinned doll.  J was half a foot taller than her, and he was fair skinned with platinum blonde curly hair.  And they ruled the roost.

They finally met their match in Miss Becky and she controlled them.  The teacher who had them as 2's I heard is institutionalized, but I can neither confirm or deny that report.  The school moved Miss Becky with them when they turned 4.  I think the other teachers were afraid of them, again a report I can neither confirm or deny.

After Pre-K J began the same Catholic School D was attending.  He had the same Kindergarten teacher.  A lovely woman who had been teaching for that Catholic School for 20-some odd years.  She and J did not mix well.  J was not fazed  by his clothespin being moved to yellow or red.  He did not care to do what she was asking.  And he certainly did not like circle time.

We spanked, threatened, grounded, took away privledges, rewarded -- in short everything we could think of.  Nothing worked.  Finally Kindergarten was over, and we moved the boys to the public school.  We chalked it up to J being a square peg in a round hole.  His first grade teacher was amazing.  He loved her and she him.  First grade was much easier than Kindergarten.

And my forays with Circle Time were reduced to nightmares involving teacher conferences where I was called a bad parent.  or so I thought.

Next came Boo.  He was so disruptive in circle time his 4-K teacher sent him to another room while she conducted circle time.  His Kindergarten teacher just allowed him not to participate.  He would get so frustrated with the other children because "Come on Madison, we did this yesterday. It's Monday, September 20, 2010.  Yesterday was Sunday, tomorrow is Tuesday.  The weather is cloudy. Are we done Miss Whoever?"

I hated Circle time as much as he did.  This was child #2 failing at Circle Time.  I was no longer Super Mom.  I was failing at Circle Time.  How flipping hard could it be to teach a child to sit still and shut up?

My daughter is now failing at Circle Time.  And apparently she doesn't care.  She could care less if her clothespin gets moved from green to yellow to red.  At Back to School Night, the teacher assumed if a child doesn't care if the clothespin gets moved, there must be no consequences at home.  When she said that, smug supermom reared her head again and - as I imagined my sensitive child crying over her clothes pin getting moved - I thought, "Well, at least she's not talking about me.  The Princess has consequences at home and is certainly not blowing off her clothespin getting moved."

Ummmm yeah, not so much.  As I found out after the Curriculum Spiel, when I spoke to her privately.  I was told she just doesn't care and goes right back to doing what she was doing that got her moved in the first place.  Smug Supermom didn't completely die, because this teacher believed that 5 year olds don't lie. I shattered that belief by telling her the Princess tried to hide the second note home when she was moved to red.

I am now counting down the days to First grade which will end my days in the 8th Circle Time of Hell.  Circle Time does not go to First Grade.  A fact I could not be happier about.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Oh Hi! There you are.

It seems my blogs come in starts and stops.  What have I been doing since my last blog post?

Over the last week I've been working on what I believe may end up being my first book, we shall see.

I've also made my own granola.  No I am not a liberal tree hugger, I'm a cheap mom who likes granola in my chemically sweetened yogurt.  I also had to send in the oatmeal container for use at school by my 9 year old and have been storing my oatmeal in one of my large plastic containers for like a month.  I needed my plastic container.  Making granola seemed more humane easier than force-feeding an entire container of oatmeal to my kids.

I also made chocolate chip cookies.  I love chocolate chip cookies.  My kids love chocolate chip cookies.  My husband really loves chocolate chip cookies.  Chocolate chip cookies make my whole house smile.  Sadly a double batch lasts about a week, 5 days, okay 3 days around my house.

I also planted my mums.  They look nice.  I still need to plant my new bulbs.

You may remember I took the kids apple picking a few weeks ago.  (I never blogged about it, only posted it on FB) Despite 10 quarts of apple sauce.  Two apple pies, 24 apple muffins and two loaves of apple bread, I still have apples.  So I also made more apple muffins.  And more apple bread.  I still have apples.  I think they are reproducing when I'm not watching.

I also picked the last Zucchini of the season from my garden.  I made 24 Zucchini muffins and 9 mini loaves of zucchini bread.

Meanwhile The Princess's Elmo Cherry Tomato Plants are still producing like kudzu in a Southern Summer.  My Pumkins have stopped.  My Squash is pathetic. The watermelon plants which produced exactly 1.5 watermelons this past summer are laughing at me. My beautiful, lush, green Heirloom Tomato plants produced Tomatoes smaller than her Cherry Tomatoes, and even they have given up the ghost.  And the Elmo Cherry Tomatoes keep on going.  The Princess doesn't like tomatoes -- any tomatoes.  Even tomatoes she grew and nurtured.  She refuses to eat them.  I'm getting tired of Cherry Tomatoes.

The Princess informed me last week "My friend Emma is allergic to the leaves changing colors." After the doctor diagnosed her with a Sinus infection as a result of allergies. "I am like Emma, Momma"

God was faithful.  As always.  He promised me he would take care of things.  He did.  And in true God fashion, not at all like I had imagined.  The firm that has been slow in paying sent us a check a week ago Saturday.  That check bounced last Thursday.  My husband was furious and worried and stressed and kept it all inside until Friday after he spoke to the President and CFO of this company.  In true King-like fashion he kept the problem to himself until he could also offer a solution.

The CFO called on Friday morning, apologizing profusely.  Explaining all kinds of ways.  My husband probably not very magnamiously said simply "Pay us or we press charges."  The CFO agreed to wire the money to our account that day -- and he did.  He also agreed to pay the two oldest invoices every week until we are caught up -- I believe he will.  We went from finacial concerns ("how are we going to pay our bills that are already late?" kinda concerns) to all the bills are paid for the month.  Halleluiah God is good.

I think I'll end on that.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Note: I've been trying to write this post since Friday.  I wanted to make sure I truly I capture the spirit of these wonderful, beautiful women who have so influenced my life and those of my children.

There is a song sung by Kathy Mattea called "Sending me Angels" and I've always loved this song. My wonderful awesome all mighty God has always sent me angels. He knows what I need when I need it. Two of my favorite Angels in human form came through another angel but I'll get to her later.

The chorus is below:
He keep sending me angels From up on high
He keeps sending me angels To teach me to fly
He keeps sending me angels Sweet and true
He keeps sending me angels Just like you
(Jerry Lynn Williams/Frankie Miller)
I was new in Pottstown, PA and I was working in a real estate office. During this time I was also a divorced mother to my oldest two sons. I had not yet met my husband. As any mother can imagine working full time, raising 2 boys under age 4 and taking computer training left little time for keeping house. My mother decided after her first trip up from South Carolina I needed a housekeeper. God bless her.

The angel I worked for recommended this little tiny spit fire of a woman named Alice. Alice was a whirlwind. She worked the details out with my mother and came to my house 3 times a week. She cleaned everything, did all the laundry and just basically kept my home on the good side of DYFS standards (she didn't come everyday and I was exhausted).

About this time I got a new job. I became the Help Desk manager at Immaculata College. I also failed to notice a note at the boys' preschool alerting me they were going to be closed one day. Until I showed up that morning to a locked daycare. I went back home devastated. I had just started this job what was I going to do? Alice had the answer "I'll call my sister Hazel. She's raised half of Pottstown.". Hazel was free was was thrilled to keep D& J she had a special place in her heart for fatherless children.  And with that began a lifelong relationship.  She became their adopted grandmother of sorts. Grandmother you say, oh yeah did I forget to mention their ages?  Alice was the little sister at 72 when she entered my life and Hazel was the oldest at 78. 
Hazel had in fact raised more than half of Pottstown and she also raised more than half of my children.  She was our much-more-than-a-nanny Nanny for 8 years.  She kept the boys when I went to the hospital to deliver the Boo man.  She loved my little blonde J like he was the only kid she'd ever had.  He was her absolute favorite of all the probably hundreds of kids she did raise.  She came with me for the Boo man when my job took me to Groton, CT 5 days a week for 4 months.  She argued with D over the mere existence of dinosaurs, "That's a bunch of hooey." she said.  Which were (and are) fighting words to D.  She let nothing go to waste.  She would show up at the house with home made banana bread "Because I bought too many bananas."  I guess that's what one does when they live through the Great Depression.  She had one great love.  He was in Heaven waiting on her for over 30 years.  But he made sure she was taken care of.  And now she's been in Heaven for more than 4 years.  And I really do miss her, still.  I think she would have loved watching our Princess grow up.

When she was with our family, she was also much more than a Nanny to another fatherless child. She was truly an angel who helped me produce the wonderful teenaged sons I have now.

Friday, September 24, 2010

TV Rant Part 2

Last night The Big Bang Theory Premiered for the Fall Season on CBS at 8:00.  My sons have been huge fans of the Big Bang Theory for many years.  My nine year old can sing the song.

We really love this show.  It's funny, it's geeky, it's reminiscient of Frazier.  But lately it has taken a turn for the worse.  Last night's episode was undescribably crass.  Howard had stolen a robot hand from NASA, it was a hand he designed to complete work on the space station.  After he programmed it to give him a back massage -- actually I really can't even write what he did.  Let's just say it's not even remotely family friendly and it's not appropriate for my 9 year old.  And this was the focus of the show for at least half the time.

On a slightly less disturbing note, Sheldon figured out how many men Penny has dated during her dating life and from that number derived the number of her sexual partners.  She argued that number, but then also semi admitted being a sl-t. All of this sexual glory in the first half an hour of Prime Time TV.

Is it any wonder why my husband and I are seriously considering cancelling our Dish Network Subscription?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Three little prayers

1- I feel God is calling me to do more, be more. I'm not sure what He wants me to do, and I'm praying for His guidance. I'll keep you guys posted on this.

2- The Princess got moved to red again at school yesterday. She was throwing Cheerios at Snack time. This behavior concerns me. I'm beginning to think we may have made a mistake keeping her in this school for Kindergarten. The more I interact with many of the children the less I see the types of boundries we have. I'm not convinced that Sarah will finish her Kindergarten year here. I do need lots of prayers on this one.

4- Last night was Back to School night for the Boo Man. Boo's teacher seems to be very energetic and tolerant. These are 2 very good qualities for a teacher of Boo. Jay-bone had this same teacher for 4th grade. He is also energetic. I did not have any issues with this teacher and Jay, here's hoping Boo does just as well.

Sorry about the three posts today. I had somethings bouncing around in my head and at first I was just going to do one long post, but it became unmanageable.

TV Rant ahead.

Monday night my sons were very excited about the return of the CBS Monday night shows. My husband and I had discussed them over the summer and were not sure how we would handle it, we feel some of them are becoming a bit too mature for especially my 9 year old, but also the older 2. So with that thought in mind, we sat down on Monday Night.

The show on at 8PM "How I met your mother..." ended with an uncomfortably long make out session between two women. No I do not feel that is appropriate veiwing for my 9 year old. No I would not feel it was appropriate if it was a man and woman who were also not married. And yes I was uncomfortable sitting there watching it with my teenage sons. Quite frankly long drawn out sexual scenes are unnecessary especially in Prime Time TV.

The show at 8:30 PM "Rules of Engagement" features a dog of a man who beds every woman he comes into the most casual of contact with. Generally it isn't raunchy though and it relies more on innuendo than actual sex. And Russell is made out to be a not very nice human being. He's not a "good guy" clearly. In addition many other characters point out that his behavior is not acceptable.

Finally the show at 9PM is the one we felt the most cautious about. "Two and a half men" has gone completely raunchy. Charlie an alcoholic, womanizing, professional playboy is the successful one, the happy one, the one to be envied. His brother, Alan, who really just longs for a stable marriage is the pitied one, the doofus little brother, if you will. Our family has watched Jake, who is Alan's son grow up in a divorced situation living in a home part time with Alan and Charlie. Jake is 16 now and the show opened up to Alan crawling out a woman's bed so their kids would not find out they were "dating" because he really wasn't sure where it was going. He comes home to find Charlie passed out on his stairs in his underwear, and while discussing this 2 girls sneak out of Jake's room. Instead of stopping the girls, and pulling Jake out of bed, they (Alan & Charlie) discuss whether he was having a threesome or an orgy. At this point we turned off the TV for the night.

So if someone unfamilar with American culture was introduced to it by these 3 shows, they would be horribly confused. They would have to wonder how we as Americans get anything done, between our constant casual sex. And is this the message we want our children to see? Why do shows have to do this? Why can't we enjoy TV with our kids? Monday night has now become family game night for us. Thanks CBS.

It's about Communication -Stupid.

Yesterday morning, The King and I were talking about our inability to get every one moving in the right direction in the morning (see (Still) not back in the routine.) So we decided to get some things done at night; making lunches, laying out clothes, finding wayward shoes, etc. We also agreed if parent a made dinner parent b would take care of the morning prep stuff. So last night he had to work late. I made dinner, fed the kids and verified homework before heading out to BTS night. You can surely imagine my surprise when I came home at 7:45 to him sitting in the Living Room. So saying nothing (my mistake) I began taking care of the things that needed to get done, huffing and puffing all the way. Still not saying a word, just expecting his Jedi Mind powers to know why I was pissed. Finally after my lunch was packed, The Princess's lunch was packed, her clothes laid out on our bench, Boo's clothes on the Living Room table, Boo's snack packed, he has the nerve to ask if I need any help. "And what's wrong anyway?" Oh yeah, he asked what was wrong. So I told him and
him: "why didn't you say something when you walked in?"
me: "why should I have to say something?"
him: "because I can't read minds."
me: "Oh yeah that."

So I created my own problem. Yes, he should know. And yes I am justified for getting peeved that he didn't know or just didn't bother. But I allowed it to escalate. I clammed up and waited on him to decipher my huffing and puffing. I'm convicted -so is he. And this morning he brought me coffee in bed and I got to work before 8AM. :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The dream

11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV

Last night God woke me up to share that Bible Verse with me. I've read it before. The first part is a favorite of Karen Kingsbury's and she uses it in many of her novels. The first verse tells us all what God wants to do for us. The 2nd and 3rd verses tell us what we have to do to receive his promises. I've fallen away lately. Over the past 2 years, I have not been the Christian God has called me to be.

I have tried to control my own life. I have tried to manage my life. I was saying to God "Thanks for the offer but really, I've got this." Last night he woke me from the dead of sleep with a very simple message, "No, Elisabeth, I've got this." And with that simple statement I let it all go. All the worries, all the stresses, all the fears, I let it go. And I have a lightness of being I haven't felt in so many years.

I'm currently working a job. It's not a bad job, it's actually a pretty good job. It's definitely an easy job. So easy, in fact, I get bored. I wanted to quit. I wanted a challenge, I wanted to feel useful. Add to that I'm consulting and not getting paid regularly. The paying part was very frustrating. The company was being very difficult. The company was quite behind in paying me. I was worried. I was paying for all the associated costs of working but not getting paid. It was causing us finanancial strain.

I don't do well with financial strain. When I'm stressed, I shop. If I'm stressed and cannot shop, I get more stressed. And usually that manifests itself into a huge pounding migraine.

Yesterday morning I was at the breaking point. I was yelling at my husband and he was yelling back. We decided we had a plan. I was going to find another job, and he was going to find a lawyer to sue this company for breach of contract. He was going to call them and give them the what-for as soon as he got to work. He didn't have much on calendar yesterday anyway. The more we drove in seperate cars coming up with this plan the more my head hurt. But wait we had a plan now, my head shoul,d not have been hurting. I should have felt relief not stress. I should be feeling better not worse. I mean this company had it coming to them. They did not behave as Christians, they did not keep their word and I was suffering.

And then a funny thing happened. My headache got so bad I had to leave work and go home. No all out searching for a job for me. Meanwhile, my husband's "one little thing" on calendar took all day to resolve. He never got the chance to make that phone call. He was so busy he couldn't even take a call from the company when they called to let him know they were releasing another check.

Yesterday afternoon, we decided to wait it out. But next time we were definitely doing it. I mean after all they were still 9 weeks past due. Yeah they paid so what, they still owe. ALOT. But my headache finally began to ease up.

And so, God seeing that he had not gotten my attention decided to interrupt my sleep last night with a beautiful and comforting dream. And he decided to tell me, "I've got this." I still don't know what his plans are. But I do know he will reveal to me what I need to know when I need to know it. Even if it's in the dead of night.

I also know that he is the God of the Universe and he can handle anything. And he wants to. I just have to Let go and Let God.

Friday, September 17, 2010

(Still) Not back in the routine.

My first kid to go back to school started almost a month ago. My last kid to start back started over 2 weeks ago.

So why am I still dragging my butt into work at 9 AM every stinking morning? I'm that annoying co-worker who is usually there first. I'm usually there by 7:40. What's with the hour and a halftwenty minutes later I'm averaging these days?

Perhaps more specifically, why does it take me more than 2 hours to get out of my house?

This morning was a perfect example or not...
It all started yesterday...

I was stuck in traffic and got home late. I was tired and did not review her backpack. The Princess got to bed late. The Boo Man could not find his pants.

First we woke up late. Yes, very late almost 7 o'clock kinda late. So I slimmed the routine. The big boys got a quick "Eat Breakfast before you leave" instruction yelled from the bedroom instead of the tender moments in the morning where I sit with them over the hot breakfast of nutritious oatmeal I've slaved over.

Yeah, right -- my hat tip to nutrition is making sure their breakfast cereal doesn't have High Fructose Corn Syrup. But I do usually make eye contact when telling them to eat breakfast. As much eye contact as a teen aged boy is willing to make with his mother first thing in the morning (hint: not actually eye contact, more like eye to the top of their heads contact).

Healthy breakfast before boys get on bus. Check.

Then I turn my attention to the other son. Every mother of boys will understand this next one, and hopefully sympathize with me. My 9 year old is in the "It-doesn't-stink-and-there's-no-visible-dark-dirt-spots-surely-I-can-wear-it-one-more-time" phase of his life. I've tried organizing his clothes. I've put outfits together -- complete with socks and underwear hanging in his closet, I've really tried everything, and yet he comes downstairs morning after morning looking like refugee. The shirt is not just a tad too small -- it fit him when he was 4. The shorts are so dirty I am not sure what their natural color is. This morning his defense when I told him his shirt was dirty

Him: "But I got it out of the laundry, it's gotta be clean."
Me: "Then there's a big stain on the front and you can't wear it."
Him: "But it's brand new, it can't be stained."
Me: "I'm as shocked as you are."

I didn't even fight on the shorts, at least they were clean. I can only imagine what the teachers think of me. They must assume I am blind. (A myth I dispel at Back To School Night.) or negligent. (much more likely.) I always thought I would redeem myself with my daughter. She is so picky about her clothes and always looks so neat. I've recently realized it will probably create more disdain because they will believe I funneled all my time and care to her while the boys were left to raise themselves. --Ah but I digress.

The Boo Man dressed not like a refugee. Check.

Next on the list of to do items: The Princess. She is not a morning person. Hmmmmm, wonder where that comes from? I have to get her out of bed with Daddy, dressed in an outfit she's willing to wear, hair brushed, fed, lunch packed, backpack ready and out the door to school. Each one of those tasks takes approxiamately 20 minutes-- on a cooperative day.

This morning was not a cooperative day. Add to all the normal stuff, one VERY loose tooth that has been threatening to fall out all week and this morning it finally did. Yes, because I had so much time to show the proper amount of entusiasm for a lost tooth. But somewhere in the midst of crazy, we moms always find the time. Work be damned.

When I finally got around to reviewing her folder from school I found "Surprise" a note from the teacher. Apparently yesterday The Princess was moved to red. --SOOOOOOO not what I needed this morning.--- So then we add another 10 minute discussion about misbehaving at school

Finally it's time to eat breakfast and do her hair which I combine in a time saving effort. Then while she finishes I'm making lunch and sending Boo up to brush his teeth and hair.

Ahhhhhh, lunch made, backpack ready, the Princess dressed, hair brushed, teeth brushed, and we're walking out the door.

So I guess after all this I should really ask myself why I am able to get out before noon?
7:00 7:30

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I felt God calling

Late last Friday, on the occasion of my husband's 40-something-th birthday, I felt God calling. My technology use (computer, iPhone etc.) has long been an issue in my marriage and quite frankly my life. I seem to have a tendency towards OCD in this department. I can spend hours online when I meant only to pop in and look for a specific email. I know this is something many of us struggle with. Adding a blog to my "online vices" doesn't help the situation.

So my husband -- being my husband -- wanted nothing for his birthday. That is he did not want me to buy him anything. Except for maybe a new Honda cafe style motorcycle and since finances ruled that one out, I was back to square one.

Last Friday afternoon as I was surfing the web, yet again, I heard "Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)." Be still, hmmmm a mother of 4 commanded to be still? No really, God what is it that you want me to do? I believed God wanted my time. He wanted my attention, he wanted my thoughts.

So I gave it to him. All weekend no online. I wasn't still but my thoughts were. I was focused on the thing that I was doing at the moment. Those things were varied. At one moment I was watching my daughter play soccer, but I actually watched her. I didn't facebook, I didn't text -- I watched her. Another moment I was with her at a birthday party. Again with her. Wholly and completely with her.

Later I was reading a book I'm reviewing for Booksneeze "Seeds of turmoil". I wasn't flipping back and forth between the book and Drudge Report, I was reading. I was focused on whatever God needed me to hear.

Sunday afternoon, I was truly still for about 4 hours after I made dinner I was still. I laid on the couch, semi-reading, semi-cuddling the dogs, semi-listening to my children sing songs they heard in Sunday School that morning. And that has made all the difference.

I feel more at peace this week. I'm less frustrated. I am more here (where ever I am) than I feel like I've been in months. And yesterday, when my husband and I took the day off together, I barely looked at my facebook all day. I think he appreciated it.

I think I'm going off the grid every weekend from now on.

Rex the duck and other "aminals".

My 5 year old daughter has a duck. He is yellow and on wheels, a very typical non-descript child's pull toy. I got him for her before she was born.

She named him Rex. I expected her to ditch Rex long ago. He's not pink, he's not flashy and he does nothing -- except follow her when she pulls him. In her world, however, loyalty is rewarded. He isn't her favorite, but he is her longest lasting interest. He is also the first one she named and the longest to have the same name.

The other day when she went looking for her slippers she found her red cowgirl boots. So she put those on. She also found her pink Easter hat, so she put that on. And to complete the outfit, she pulled out Rex.

She began walking around the house in this get up and found the most willing playmate around -- Daddy.
"Hi, I'm Mary, it's very nice to meet you." she says to her Daddy. (her name isn't Mary, btw)
"Hi Mary, I'm the Daddy. And who do you have with you?"
"Hi, the Daddy, this is Rex. He's my guard duck." --Imagination is strong in this one.

Rex has had surgery over the years. His wheels have come off. He's also had a bath, and in spite of that he has a blue mark across his back from a run in with a dry erase marker. He has stood his ground with a 100-lb German Shepherd Dog and a 15-lb Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Maybe he is a guard duck after all.

On to the other aminals promised in this post. I say aminals because that's what The Princess calls them. It makes me smile to think of the words the children have used incorrectly. Jaybone always had "mennies" not money. And The Boo Man did not have dump trucks, but I can't write what he did have.
Jaybone had a Ty Ostrich named Stretch. Actually that's not entirely correct. Jaybone had multiple Ty Beanie baby Ostriches named Stretch and one large Stretch. Stretch was one of his favorites, because as you can see the neck makes a perfect handle for tossing it up in the air. Which brings us to why he had so many. He tossed them up in the air. They landed on roofs. The roofs of South Eastern PA are littered with Ty Ostriches.

I fully expected Stretch to be one of Jay's take to college Stuffed Aminals. Which is why I was surprised to find Stretch in a box in the garage. I passed Stretch on to The Princess. Stretch has survived so much, a cardboard box in the garage is not a fitting end to Stretch.
Last night during bedtime story time, she was holding Stretch, by the neck. I half expect to be told Stretch is on the roof. I also half expect Jay to retreive him for her.

When confronted about Stretch in the box, J explained that he kept his Meowth. Stretch is about 8 inches high, and 4-5 inches wide, when sitting. Meowth is 17 inches high and 12 inches wide and most of that is his head. I fully understand why he chose to keep Meowth -- okay not so much.

Meowth, for the uninitiated, is the cat that was the "pet" of the bad guys (Team Rocket) on the Pokemon Cartoon. J's version of Meowth no longer has fangs. I think he also has a mark from a run-in with a Dry Erase Marker. Meowth makes the cut every time we redecorate Jay's room. Meowth will be hated by his wife someday. And for the record --I don't blame her.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Where does it go?

I caught you last night playing in your play house when you were supposed to be in bed. You knew you were caught, and you flashed that anger melting smile. And I knew I was had. Your brothers did the same thing. But then they grew up.

The Boo Man said once when we were driving to my work and his daycare "I think God will make it snow tomorrow so we can stay home." Does he still have that connection with God? Does he still feel he can talk to him?

Jaybone had the most mischevious little smile when he was your age. He also had beautiful blonde curls all over his head. He could get away with murder. He loved to hug and loved to punch his brother even more. He still loves to punch his brother. Does he still love to hug?

I'll never forget as long as I live D sitting in the floor of the Dining room of the house on Evans Street and making up Halloween stories using his tape player with a microphone. I know he still loves writing stories and I know he still loves Halloween. But it isn't the same.

9, (almost) 15, and 16. Where did they go -- Those preschoolers with the "come on world" attitude? Are they lost forever like the Rugrats ski cap Jay insisted on wearing in July or the Yellow Pokemon Game Boy Color D learned to read playing? Or the Yellow shirt, black pants and black shoes (aka. Greg Wiggle Costume) Boo wore for 2 years?

Will they find the innocence and confidence and joy God gives again? Can I keep you from losing it? Can I insulate you from the peer pressure and disappointments? Can your father and I grant you the faith and confidence only God can give?

How do I build your faith after Veggie Tales fade into your history?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

D-Day Part 2

My baby, the baby of the family, started Kindergarten yesterday. Of course she loved it. She’s like a fish in water at school. She loves the social; she loves the learning; she loves it all; except the nap time! I did not cry. I held it all together. You would think Kindergarten the 4th time would be easier, but it wasn’t. It was my final first day of Kindergarten.

Last night she brought her backpack to me -- her new, big girl backpack. Inside was the expected teacher letter, this month’s calendar and the “tell me about your child” paper. One of the questions was “What are your child’s likes?” the hardest part of that question was narrowing it down to fit in the blank. The other question was much harder. I realized there are very few things my child dislikes – other than the aforementioned naptime. She is for all intents and purposes a very happy-go-lucky child. She will play Barbies, Baby dolls and Matchbox cars. She loves rocks and lip gloss (both of which can be found in her purse at any given time). She plays soccer in the rain and loves ballet. And she’s not bad at either. She refuses to leave the house without a matching bow in her hair, but hates to have her hair brushed.

She has a favorite brother, and she will tell anyone who asks, “Jay is my favorite brother.” Her adoration of him is clear to even the most casual observer and he reciprocates. He has loved her since she was born. He has also protected her, cajoled her, made her laugh and tended to her. There is definitely a special bond between those two, and it is with a heavy heart I watch the two of them this year go on to open new chapters in their lives.

It really does seem like just yesterday it was him I was seeing off to Kindergarten. How then can it be now I’m seeing him off to High school? And even more important will the time go by so fast to when it’s time to see her off to high school?

When she goes off to high school, our house will be a much different place. She will be the only child still living with us. It is possible that D & J could have families of their own. Boo will be off in college and the house will be very quiet. And as much as we wish for “just a moment’s peace” right now, I know that kind of peace and quiet will come with a price.

I will see the “It’s 10 o’clock, do you know where your children are” reminder and not be able to say yes.

Thank goodness that is a long way off. Two years that’s like forever, right?

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Today my oldest sons headed off to High School together. It was hard but almost surreal when the oldest made this coming of age trek two years ago. It was heartbreakingly real to watch the two of them go off together this year. For some reason when my blonde boy joins the road travelled by his older brother it just becomes concrete and permanent.

When he was still getting on the bus with his younger brother that stops at the elementary & middle school, I could rationalize. Only a quarter of my children are growing up I could say. I've done it quite a few times now. Daniel turned 10 -- it was double digits, it was hard but not nearly as hard as Jason bringing the ratio of my children to 50% in the double digits. Then the same for the teen years and now High School. Jason's milestones also seem to coincide with Sarah's --the baby. As he heads off to High school she heads off to Kindergarten. This is a really bad year for me.

Next year will not be better. She will start the public school first grade and Benjamin will begin Middle school just after climbing into the double digits himself.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Walking Finn Road Park

My youngest had her first Soccer Practice yesterday. It brought me back to a few years ago. My middle son, played year after year for our Township Rec League. He’s not bad, and the League builds skills as well as confidence. He has since aged out of the program and so it was a bittersweet stroll down memory lane.

It seems like truly just yesterday, he was 7 and we were just barely in our new home in NJ and he was a skinny little boy with curly white blonde hair and all knees and elbows. He has always been athletic, and soccer was no exception. On top of raw talent he also has a competitive streak as long as the Mississippi, which probably comes from being the middle brother. Or maybe it’s as much a part of him as his curly blonde hair which he now hates and brushes straight.

It’s funny, the first time I walked on that field we had only 3 boys and no plans for this little girl I was escorting on the field yesterday. Now he’s 14 and starting high school later this week long gone is the blonde curly hair and the cherubic grin, and she’s playing soccer on the same field he played on those many years ago.

One tough Cookie

My youngest had her first Soccer Practice yesterday. I had my doubts about how well this was going to go, it was raining and she hadn’t really done much with a soccer ball before. Beyond that she was most worried about how she looked for soccer practice and less worried about the practice itself. But in true Sarah fashion, she was a trooper.

She marched out on the field a pink streak set to dazzle the world. She had her pink shirt, which she wasn’t happy with because it had no “shinies” on it, her pink cleats and her pink shin guards, which could not be seen under her grey sweatpants, which she was also none too thrilled with. And of course a pink bow in her hair which she insisted on.

To be fair, the only “activities” she participated in up to this point has been ballet and she does get all pretty for that. Hairbows are encouraged, nearly required. But once she got out there, fashion took a back seat to her zeal for running and competition.

She is a not too bad dribbler and kicker. She needs to work on passing, but I think that’s more about sharing than anything else. And she’s pretty darned good at stealing the ball – for a girl. She doesn’t seem to like being goalie, but in true “hogball” fashion very few of them do.

There were only 6 of them yesterday on the under-6 team and they were evenly split 3 boys/3 girls. Two of them were pretty sure they didn’t even want to be there, and the other 4 ran and played in the rain. The first one on one matchup was Sarah against a boy, I don’t think she understood what to do, but got really mad when he kicked the ball right away and headed down the field before she knew what was going on. That did not happen again. After that she seemed to go after that ball with uncommon ferocity. She does not like to lose.

So while I don’t see Mia Hamm in her, I do see a little girl who is very competitive and probably many more years of Finn Road Park in my future.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Have we as parents completely abdicated our roles?

First off, the following is a rant, it's rather political in nature, but it's also a rant.

It seems each day I read news about another law passed to protect our children. I must confess that I live in New Jersey, appropriately named the nanny state, and we have more laws "protecting" our children than most. For example, children in the state of New Jersey are required by law to wear helmets when they ride bikes and scooters. We also have one of the oldest minimum driving ages at 17. And a new law that imposes special restrictions on "teen drivers". In addition NJ tried (unsuccessfully) to make smoking in your car with a child present a crime.

I started wondering "How did we reach the point in this state that people are eager to allow the government to parent their children?" And then I found the answer in a most surprising place. I was attending a birthday party for one of my daughter's classmates. Another parent was bemoaning the fact that her child missed the public school cut off for Kindergarten and would be repeating Kindergarten with my daughter at their private Pre-School. Specifically she said "I really don't know what she is going to do, she already knows how to read." My response was "Yeah, Sarah knows how to read as well, I spoke to the teacher and they will give her more challenging books to read." Her response shocked me speechless "Oh wow you worked with her at home, I never considered that."

I literally could think of a thing to say. Because what I was thinking would have made me a pariah in the Mommy circle and perhaps given Sarah no attendees at her birthday party. Because what I was thinking followed along something like this:

"You never considered reading a bed time story to your child? You never had your child ask you how to spell something? You never had your child want to repeat the page you just read? Your child never made up their own story by looking at the pictures in a book?" I could obviously go on.

Because I believe that I am my child's first teacher and it doesn't stop when she learns to walk and talk. That's just when it starts to get interesting. It also doesn’t end when they start real school. My school, my community, my lawmakers are not raising my children, I am. I was responsible for bringing them into this world and I am responsible for producing responsible citizens. I look at the alternative and see how ridiculous it is. It’s like taking your dog to obedience school and then not training them at home. It’s like going to church on Sunday and lying the rest of the week. It’s like being elected to congress and then doling out favors to the people who helped your campaign or directly to your family members.

Wait a minute, I guess I’m starting to see the bigger issue. The citizens of this country are eager to give over their parental duties to the government because that also abdicates their responsibility. And we all know how every one in this country is so very eager to accept personal responsibility.

Our news cycle this morning was eye opening.
We started with the former Illinois Governor hoping for a hung jury in a corruption scandal where he was “just the fall guy.”
Then jumped to reports of Rangel partying last night a day after telling the House of Representatives he was not backing down, he just did not understand tax laws.
To Maxine Waters saying she did nothing wrong in steering finances to a bank her husband had stock in.
To finally a footnote to how long our political process has been corrupt Dan Rostenkowski & Ted Stevens deaths were announced, both of whom were charged with corruption, the former spending 17 months in jail.

Ironically, Rostenkowski thought he was the victim too.