Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Trick-or-Treating Without Sidewalks

I had a lot of reasons for enjoying Halloween as a kid. Of course I loved the candy overload and dressing up, but one of my favorite things was getting to walk outside at night. After all, we normally didn't get to go around after dark.

When we moved to MA, I was initially surprised by the lack of sidewalks, but I didn't think much about it until it was time to take my older son (OS) trick-or-treating. I take that back. I actually heard a great deal about it from my husband, who spoke passionately about the extra lawn that he got to mow in the absence of a sidewalk. Anyhow, I found it scary, but not in a spooky Halloween way to walk down dark streets with a little kid. Halloween or not, it's still hard to see people when it's dark.

The next year, one of my friends suggested going to the mall for trick-or-treating. Initially I shuddered at the thought. Wasn't part of the fun going outside? This didn't sound like fun to me. And it wasn't...for me. It was, however, a lot of fun for my son. He loved it. He got to run around getting candy and was able to see all the other kids in their costumes. He also enjoyed the frenzied excitement in the climate-controlled air. Since Halloween is about my kids and not about me, which of course does not mean that I won't eat a lot piece or two of candy, I was really grateful that the mall had this program. Since my boys have never had the experience of spending hours walking outside at night trick-or-treating, they don't know what they're missing!

Happy Halloween!

Halloween Dividers



Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Nothing Is Better than Something

So. Hi there. How's it goin'? Me? Oh, I'm fine. We all are. Nothing going on around these parts. And, actually, that's pretty cool.

Sweetie had a fever this weekend, which I assumed would result in major health-related drama. But, no. She's good. She's got a sniffle and a cough, but she's a trooper and is handling it well, as is her usual Sweetie way.

Sweetie's also been pretty well behaved recently. Yesterday was a bit trying - not a very good Listening Day for her. But overall, s'all right. She's been on a plateau of politeness and good attitude for, oh, at least a month or so now. No major complaints here. So much nicer than constant fights, raised voices, and high-stress-level-parenting.

Then, personally, well - things there are good too. Sure, after several unsuccessful attempts to get my in-home wine tastings business going, I've finally decided to call that quits at the end of next month. I thought it would be a fun and interesting way to earn some extra income. Instead, it was a fun and interesting way to lose money. But, you know - oh well. It was exciting while it lasted and I did learn a lot. It's just, when it comes right down to it, I'd much rather spend that time with my family than keep on with the parties. No more parties = less stress and more financial security. I'm glad I figured out that equation as quickly as I did.

Yeah, so - there you go. Life is good. For Hubby and I, who are oh-so-familiar with the Go! Go! Go!, high-stakes/high drama world of parenting and life in general, this current state of being is certainly a refreshing change of course.

Now, please excuse me as I go bask in the glow of nothingness while I have it. After all, I'm afraid the holiday season (ugh!) is about to get in our way.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Red Sox Nation - You're welcome

It took 86 years for the Red Sox to win a World Series. Until 2004, I come along, get pregnant and *Wham*...

World Series Champions.

Three years later, 2007. All of Red Sox Nation barely dared to dream that another title could be ours again so soon. I get pregnant again and *Wham*...

Another World Series Championship.

And did I mention the winners of Super Bowl XXXVIII and XXXIX, in 2004 and 2005, were the New England Patriots? And that the very same Patriots are currently undefeated?

Coincidence???

Probably. But I'm considering putting my uterus up for sale on Ebay once I deliver T.B. Wams, just in case. I'm not going through another pregnancy again and it really would be a shame for our beloved sports teams to go decades without another title.

Celtics and Bruins fans should start considering paying me for the privilege to rub my belly. Rubs start at 25 bucks a pop. Cash only.

(Cross posted at Chicky Chicky Baby)

Good thing we didn't have to wait 86 years again...

Have you heard that the Red Sox won the World Series?

Oh yeah, baby.

Thanks to the Sox (well, really Fox) I haven't gotten much sleep in the past couple of weeks. I mean, really... can't the West coast just suck it up and watch a game at 4 PM? The 8:30 PM game time for us is ridiculous.

But besides that, all I can say is WOW. What a post-season!

Seriously, that's all I can say right now because I am so exhausted from staying up too late to watch the Red Sox win the WORLD SERIES!

WHOOOT, WHOOOT!

- Jane

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Got your brooms ready, Red Sox fans?

I'm posting very late tonight because I wanted to talk about the World Series. Yes, the World Series. Like we have anything else on our collective minds these days.

This has been, as of tonight, an amazing series for us Red Sox fans. More than we ever imagined, especially with the Rockies recent win loss record of 22-1, we're just creaming those Rockie Mountain boys. I thought that they might win a game or two, but it looks as if they might not win anything at all. We're out pitching them, our defense is better, and overall we're just a better, stronger team.

I've never been a fan of the national league. I like the designated hitter, I love that pitchers don't have to hit. I don't quite get why the two leagues can't seem to come to a compromise on those two playing points, but evidentally they can't. And, if they can't even decide how to play the game uniformly throughout both leagues, they certainly can't make every playing field uniform as well. Baseball is the only game where every playing field is different, not only in size but in shape as well.

Watching the Sox play in Coors Field (I HATE THAT NAME!) tonight was amazing. DiceK? Could he have been better? I don't think so. His pitching was fabulous. He actually got a base hit. Did you see him running the bases in his jacket? Then he walked to 1st carrying his bat with him. How cute is he? It's like watching a big giant little league player that's incredibly talented.

One thing we noticed watching the game tonight was the number of shattered bats. Do you think that has something to do with the dry air in Colorado? I've never seen so many split bats in one game.

How about our Rookies? Jacoby Ellesbury? What a fabulous player. Dustin Pedroia? How cute is he, and what a huge boon to our team. He was a real find. DiceK? Who would have thunk, after watching him last spring, that he would end up as such a powerful pitcher in October?

Tomorrow, Jon Lester is pitching. He's come back from cancer last year. What an amazing story he is for our Red Sox. I'm counting on him to sweep the series. I just cannot wait for the parade. I went in 2004 and end up sobbing I was so excited and relieved. My whole life I've been a Sox fan. I'm a third generation fan, my kids are 4th generation fans. My father lived his entire life never having seen his team win the series. It took 52 years for me to see that win in 2004. My kids, they have always seen the Red Sox on top. They've never experienced years and years of being in the basement. They're going to see another World Series before they're even 16.

It doesn't seem quite fair.

I do have a hint for all you watching tomorrow. Turn the sound way down so you don't have to hear Joe Buck and Tim McMoron chattering on about nothing nonstop. The game is so much more enjoyable without them.

See you tomorrow night!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

You know you're in a rough spot when a middle aged librarian hands you money to shut your kids up.

I was *that* mom last week when my children, Sybil and L.Blair, threw award winning tantrums at, of all places, the town library.

In my defense, we are newbies in this suburb and I truly did not know that video check-out requires cold cash. And so as we were checking out and the librarian said "that will be two dollars", I'm sure the blank look on my face didn't help what was about to come next.

After being lectured on the library's policies (why do librarians like to do this?), I reached around for my purse only to find that I left it in the car. Afterall, one usually does not need money at the library, no?

On most days this would be no big deal. My kids would understand. They would reluctantly, but peacefully, put the Backyardigans and Pokeman dvds back onto the counter and we would come back and get them during our next visit. But today I made the mistake even veteran moms fall prey to: I took the kids out in the (gasp!) afternoon at (double gasp!) nap time. I know, crazy.

When I explained that I forgot my wallet and that we would come back and get the movies later on, well, all hell broke loose.

There was crying, whining, screaming, hitting, fists pounding, heads spinning, blood spewing (ok, not really, but there could have been).

I tried to pretend they weren't my kids. I tried to walk away and ask whoever was in charge to please remove these demon children immediately. But it was too late of course. Everyone had already seen me. My only choice was to rip the movies from their tight little clutches and get out of there as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, that wasn't happening either. I would have had to saw off their hands in order to get the dvd's back onto the counter. They were not leaving that library without the movies.

Oh, those ever helpful librarians did try to "override" the system so that we could pay the two freakin' dollars the next time we came back. But due to new accounting practices enforced by the town that was not possible.

Rules will be rules. Especially in small town government.

Finally. FINALLY, a librarian reached into her own purse, handed me the two bucks and pretty much told me to leave and take my hysterical kids with me.

I thanked her profusely and left embarassed and humiliated that a 50-something librarian adorned in a polyester jumpsuit had to bail me out.

So much for making a good impression in our new little town.

Friday, October 26, 2007

One K-razy Ride!

The World Series. Three incredible words.

But combine these words with "The Red Sox" and you've got yourselves one wild and K-razy ride! And oh yeah... curses, broken curses, rivalries and a bit o' history.

So as a child of a Boston-born-and-bred girl (my Mom, Mary Rita Burke Klaczynski, who married a dashingly handsome sailor from Detroit-by-way-of-Chicago. You still with me?), and never became a Detroit fan as my two brothers and I did. Until 1967, when the three kids of Mary Rita, and even my Dad, God rest his Tiger soul, switched over to Boston.

OK. So I marry this die-hahd Boston Saux fan from Rhode Island and we embahk on a journey of summah joys (I am not going to even say "heartache" because the Sox are my entertainment, conversation, and love... 'cuz ya gotta love 'em even when they're down). Yeah, cry into your bloody red sock. We're season ticket holdahs.

Now, I missed the 2004 Series games in Boston because my darling daughter Jane was in the midst of wedding prep... and her bridal shower and bachelorette pahty were on the same days as my beloved Sox's games. Yes, my daughter DOES come first.

So fast-forward to Wednesday evening, October 24, 2007. My first World Series game, never mind at my own Fenway Pahk. And as we entah Yawkee Way, who is there to greet the fans but Tom Warner. John Henry. Larry Lucchino.

And they were graciously shaking hands, patting backs, slapping 5 to all who entered the hallowed turnstyles. "Thanks for coming!" they were saying.

Thanks for coming? I've been dreaming of this for decades!

OK, I know these guys are multi-millionaires from the likes of people like me, but they still were gracious. And, I mean, it IS their house.

My husband was in Sox Heaven.

Then once inside (after stopping at the souvenir shops and furthering the millionaire status of our Sox-heads), my husband spotted Johnny Pesky.

How did I know this?

"Hey, Honey. HONEY! THERE'S JOHNNY PESKY. HEY, JOHNNY! CAN I GET A PHOTO?"

What a player. What a legend. What a gentleman Johnny is.

So here, New England Mamas, are a few momentoes of one of the most memorable evenings of my life. My husband's life. And we're up two games!

GO SOX! Even you transplanted New England Mamas can give a shout out at this electric time for New Englandahs everywhere!

(as an aside, I do have a photo of my husband with Tom Warner too. But that photo is on my digital camera. The camera that flew from my hands and crashed to the cement and is no longer working do to my husband's exuberance. The photos shown are from his cell phone camera!)

John and Barry (they're on a first-name basis now... at least in Barry's head!):


Larry Lucchino and his best bud Barry:


Mr. Johnny Pesky (respect for my husband's childhood hero) and Barry:

Thursday, October 25, 2007

How To Really Scare Me At Halloween

Given that a nine-year-old can work a stripper pole like a pro, a school for 11-13 year old kids feels the need to provide birth control to its students and pre-pubescent girls are posting suggestive photos of themselves on the social networking sites, I shouldn't really be surprised by the sexualization of Halloween costumes for young girls.

But, I am surprised.

For years, I have lived in the land of "toddler sizes" at Halloween and have not faced anything more daunting than "Snow White" vs. "Pooh Bear". But, my six-year-old daughter is now big enough for a "girl" size, which apparently means she is maturing much faster than I ever conceived.

First, I'm not talking about mini skirts or even "belly dancer" costumes that really show a belly button. Nor am I talking about those character costumes from Wonder Woman to High School Musical or American Idol. I'm talking about costumes that seems too provocative for young girls; this bothers me especially when there is no need for them to be provocative (and, I'm not even going near the costumes marketed to teens. Check out this excellent article by Creative-Type Dad for more on that subject).

(All the costumes below are or were available at large national chains. I apologize for the dreadful reproduction of one of them).

Let's start with the devil costume. Let's see: red dress, horns, tail and spear, right? Well, somehow that isn't enough:






Or, how about a witch? You know, black dress, pointy hat, broom, and wart on nose?







Fairy? A wand, gossamer wings and pixie dust?


Oh dear lord, how about a bunny? Fluffy tail, big floppy ears, socks on hands for paws. . .


Ok, that is cute, but how many bunnies wear a bow tie? Oh wait, I know which bunnies wear a bow tie:


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A Correlation Between Preschoolers and Cooking

While I haven't collected any specific data yet on it to run through SPSS or another similar statistics software package, there seems to be an inverse correlation between the amount of time I spend cooking food and the amount of that food that my older son who is 4 will eat. Tonight I made pasta with a tasty low-fat homemade creamy walnut sauce. This took under 10 minutes. My son ate a couple of bites. Yet, a couple of nights ago when it took a half hour to make a Shepard's pie with ground turkey and sweet potatoes, he refused to try it. I am pretty sure that if I served him food from the gas station he would snarf it down. There also seems to be a correlation between the amount of time I spend cooking a meal and the amount of food that he eats the next morning at breakfast. I don't think it requires any great scientific study to know that if you don't eat dinner you'll be extra hungry at breakfast.

Fall Comes to New England

Here is a wonderful slideshow of Autumn in New England. My favorite time of year. I THINK it'll finally start feeling like Autumn soon!


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Brainless

Isn't it amazing how a few small misunderstandings, a handful of bad behavior, and a smattering of passive-aggressive can turn work from a reasonably survivable experience into a head-banging jaw-clenching ear-bleeding nightmare in a matter of days?

Two weeks ago, I liked my job. I really enjoy the actual work - I'm a mostly-psychologist and do crisis assessments in the local emergency rooms - and I can put up with the paperwork and politics that come alongside it all. Two days ago, I hated it, dreaded the mere thought of going in, and alternated between obsessing and whining only because I didn't want to be a total one-trick pony.

And now, tonight, I'm wrung out and brainlessly emotionally tired, but ready to go back and deal with the work itself again, now that the latest round of mind-numbingly immature drama has faded. I won't assault you with details. Just, it was knotty and yucky, and I had to take the horrifying and unenviable step of being the adult and addressing the situation before it escalated. And guess what? Being a grown-up works sometimes, and a resolution to the idiocy is in sight. Or, at the very least, it will be taken underground and hidden from me. This would be equally acceptable; I don't demand actual maturity among my coworkers, just the surface appearance.

Don't ever let anyone tell you that those who work in the mental health field are one tiny bit more mentally healthy than your average serial killer.

Taking a break from writing "Mrs. Mike Lowell" on my notebook long enough to say...

Holy crap, we're going to the World Series. Time to grab your favorite tot, pet, spouse, stuffed animal (really, anyone within grabbing distance), crank up the sound and savor the flavor, enjoy the joyous noise, sing and dance wherever you happen to be.

Red Sox Nation, Patriots Nation, these are the good old days.

In My Shoes

Last night I was making dinner when I looked over my shoulder and thought to myself, “Who is that little girl stomping through the kitchen in my shoes?”

I wasn’t so much questioning her identity as I was marveling at her very existence. In that moment, as I diced an onion for the horseradish pasta salad I was craving, the October air was abnormally warm in its gentle push through the windows, and the waning daylight was natural and calm. It wasn’t unlike other occasions over the past thirty years when I felt relaxed and unattached to time. The difference between last night and the rest of my life was the girl with tiny feet passing through my periphery in very, very big shoes.

A year ago*, she was just learning to walk . A year before that, she mostly laid there, sleeping, slurping, burping and pooping. Twelve months prior, I had just discovered that The Partner and I would be having a baby. My notions about what it meant to be a parent were so hazy as to be completely opaque. I had no idea that there would be…

A little girl, at home in my kitchen, at home in my shoes. A girl who got none of my looks except my big forehead and my thin hair. A girl with her own ideas, fears, taste and motivation. Three years ago, I couldn’t have known how the setting sun in a dim room would spotlight this relative newcomer on her halting trip across the tile, and how she’d stop in the middle and look at me from a perch made much higher by my stacked heels.

“Hug, mom,” she called out, her arms extended, beseeching both me and balance.

I laid down my utensils on the cutting board and made my way over to her. I kneeled down, wrapping my arms around her mid-section. She leaned into the hug. Her hands rested on my shoulder blades.

“I love you,” I said.

“I love you, mom.”



*It was exactly one year ago. To the day. I just realized that now as I copied the link to my blog post about her first steps and saw the date. Isn’t it funny how the subconscious can push through the crowded calendar of daily living and help keep priorities in check?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Darned Motivation. Danged Sun!

What I wouldn’t give for today to be cold and rainy.

Depressed? No.

Blue? No.

At a loss of what to do? No.

My problem? I am feeling motivated!

What’s worse, it’s 75 degrees and sunny. On an October (my favorite month) day in Vermont (my favorite state). Well, shoot!

And I? And my daughter? My biggest fear as a stay-at-home-mom has been realized.

We had a great weekend. Traveling to the Keene Pumpkin Festival (alas, despite the contribution of our four pumpkins, we didn’t break a record);barbecuing homemade bratwurst in the woods at a friend's quintessential Vermont cabin (I even ate BEAR(!!!) for the first (and likely, last, time); visiting with Georgia’s Grammie in New Hampshire.


It was a glorious weekend.

And today’s Monday. I am like Garfield in regards to Mondays--I don't like 'em. The hubby is back to work and Georgia and I are left to fend on our own.

What's worst is today I was feeling motivated!

We were going to go to the library to check out board books, go to the store to buy formula (thank goodness I didn’t let it slide TOO long and we still have some in the cubboard). I was even thinking of bringing Georgia to her dad’s campus for lunch, and a walk around the lake.

But alas. My biggest fear as a stay-at-home-mom has been realized.

The car seat base? The strollers (both of them)? In my husband’s car. A half-hour away up the highway. Grrrrrrrrrr.....

It’s time to get creative. Re-reading board books we already have. Strapping on the chest carrier. Maybe a walk to the cider mill, and a trip to the swing.


But darn it, I was feeling motivated!

And we have rain in the forecast for the next two days!

Maybe this will merit a trip to the aquarium tomorrow.

Raindrop or Snowflake?

This morning, my 3-year-old grandson asked, "Grandma, if you could be a raindrop or a snowflake, which one would you choose?"

I thought for a moment (or ten), and then made a case for each.

As a raindrop, of course, I would feed the grass and the beautiful flowers in his yard. I would fill the birdbath that the visiting cardinal seems to love so much. I would make super-neat puddles to jump in (with my sneakers off, mind you), especially when Mommy is not looking! I would make the rocks in his yard glisten when the sun comes out again. I would make great noises as I bump against the windows. I would clean the toys and balls that he left in the yard. And I would try to land on his tongue if he stuck it out at me.

As a snowflake, I would fall slowly and gracefully so he could see my unique and perfect shape. I would pile up with my friends in a great big heap... perfect for sledding. I would land in the tree in his front yard and let Christmas lights dance around me. I would let him pack me into a tight ball and toss me at his Daddy during a snowball fight. I would jump into a plastic block and let him and his brothers make an igloo with me and my friends. I would try not to get his mittens too wet, but I think I would anyway. And I would try to land on his tongue if he stuck it out at me.

Oh, he listened so intently to my answers to his question.

Then he said, "Grandma, I want to be the wind. 'Cuz the wind is like wings to raindrops and snowflakes. Then I could take you with me wherever I go."

To which I, of course, completley and utterly melted.

And raindrops and snowflakes and wind have become for me much anticipated miracles.

- Sharon

Forty What?

I'm how old? Oh, yeah - it's my birthday! What with all the Red Sox fever in our house, it's easy to forget. I'm 42 today, which seems hard to believe, since I only feel about 27 or so. Don't get me wrong - I love being older. I'm happier within myself, and feel content with where I am in my life. I appreciate being free of the clouds of angst that followed me around through my 20's, and free of the sleep deprivation-induced inertia that fogged up my 30's.

Almost every woman I know in her late 30's or early 40's feels the same way. I've polled my friends and family, and short of those battling illness or in the midst of ugly divorces, we all agree that we are just so much more ourselves now, and that makes us happy. We have achieved a sense of contentment that we searched for all through our teens and 20's, watching movies and hoping for our soul mate to appear in a bar or a bus shelter, because didn't we need a mate to complete us? (Keep the snickering down, please.) We are successful, or not, but we know why (or why not) and we are okay with that.

And for those among us who aren't feeling great about our lives, there are a billion and a half magazines and books and television shows to help us figure it out. We have options, ladies. Sure, we all have our bad days, and our hormones are starting to get a little wonky, but heck - many of my older friends assure me that I'll looove saying goodbye to my periods. And one of these years, I plan to stop dying my hair and go gray. With the money I'll save from my every-5-weeks root-covering salon visits, I plan to go to Europe each summer. I hear Budapest is fabulous....

The only thing that bugs me is that feeling of being on the downhill side of my life, and that is ridiculous, since it's a purely mathematical supposition. In my head, I have this equation: if I hope to live to be at least 80, then 40 is halfway, right? Well, I've come up with a new mid-point for myself based on my own life experience. I've decided that the years of my life up to 20 don't count, since I was still learning how to be a person. That means that my new mid-life point is 50! I'm not going to stress about life goals and being on the downhill run towards death for another 8 years! Wahoo!

(Did I mention that my rationalization skills have improved with age as well?)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Here We Go Again!!!

I never thought I'd be thankful for JD Drew, but if it weren't for him, who knows where we'd be?

But now? We're going to the Big Show, baby! Again!!!!!

I'm so friggin' excited I can't stand it.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Standardized Tests

Sometimes I surprise myself. I'm not a big proponent of the standardized tests that are now required in order to graduate from high school in Massachusetts. I don't think that the test is a good one, nor do I think that the pressure to teach to the test is a great idea for curriculum. Lastly, I think it's horribly unfair to require every student to pass the test, regardless of special needs. But that's neither here nor there. They're required by law, the kids have to take them, and they have to pass them in order to get their high school diploma.

Recently, Massachusetts has added a new science portion to the test. Last week, when the MCAS results were released, the news was bad. A large percentage of the kids taking the science portion of the test, which won't be required for graduation until the class of 2010, didn't pass the test. My daughter is a proud member of the class of 2010, and passing the test is necessary for her to be granted a diploma, so we all waited for the test scores to arrive with a sense of dread.

When she took the test last spring, she didn't think she did well. Her particular test was in physics, and she got a great grade in the class and I know she learned all the salient points of the class, but she was worried she didn't pass. That's a lot of pressure on a kid, knowing that she's in the first class required to pass this section of the test as well as all the other sections.

The MCAS is a well-respected test. It has consistantly been rated as the best standardized test in the nation. For the most part, it does test what the state curriculum teaches. There are some oddities on this test, like the infamous 'stem and leaf plots' which are taught in 4th grade here in MA, but are not taught in many other places, leaving kids who move into the state post 4th grade in a pickles, but that's a problem with a non-standardized curriculum, one of the worst features of the NBLB statute.

Today in the mail we got the test results. I opened them with trepedation, thinking that she'll probably have scored in the 'needs improvement' segment. Imagine my shock when I saw that not only did she pass the test, she did so with a really great score, almost in the Advanced category. She was so surprised when I told her. She honestly was sure she had failed, and it was great to hear how surprised and proud she was. And I'm proud too, damn it. I hate standardized testing, but I have to admit I was thrilled to see she had passed when so many of the other kids in her class did not.

I still don't believe in requiring a test to be passed in order to graduate from high school, but I have to admit, I'm excited for my daughter to know she passed.

Now we wait for my son's scores. He has to pass everything this year for his diploma. I'm sure he passed everything, but the dread of waiting continues.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Waiting.

Waiting.


I hate it.

We are interviewing for new jobs next year. A job for Dr. Science that will take us far, far away from the life we know. Not as far as Nome, or the South Pacific, but far enough.


cows. 'nuff said.

The main drag.

farm stand. leave your money in the tin can.


the river that runs through it.

This, is Houlton.

Only two states away. Right on the border. So close to New Brunswick, in fact, that if one cares to look at the satellite image on google maps, one sees that half the town is a blur, but the side closest to the border, you can zoom down until you can look in the windows of the buildings. You could see people, if there had been anyone out on the street in the middle of the day. Border patrol has to keep vigilant with these guys. Guess that's whats up with the super focused satellites. So they can keep up with all those damn Canadians trying to sneak into our country over the Houlton border to...what?


Really, there is almost no one on the streets during the day. I noticed this, walking around the main drag with the Impling. She had her meltdown in the middle of the sidewalk and there was no one to cast mean looks in my direction. She freaked in peace. Where WAS everyone? Guess they are all at work, on the fields, in the hospital, or at home, drinking a cold frosty one over the classified. Or just drinking a cold frosty one.


Hell. Now I want a cold frosty one. May as well. It's not like I have a JOB or anything, right? Right. I want my $300,000 in SAHM back pay RIGHT now. 2 years. And 8 months.


Things are going to change. We will have a house. The Impling will have a new bed, as she has already outgrown her little toddler IKEA confection of a bed. I will have my own car. (Yes...I am actually getting my license). Shudder. New...everything.


IF we get a good offer. This is what we are waiting for. This is what has been absorbing my attention, distracting me from writing, and reading, and being, well, present. Wondering...where the HELL will we end up? Will...



Damn. I was all ready to go off on a major rant about the suckitudiness of waiting for shit, and we get


THE CALL.


THE OFFER.


Dudes. We are going to be TRIPLING our income. With benefits. And relocation help. And something else I can't remember because I am JUST SO GOBSMACKED.


I get wet just thinking about it.


I just taught the Impling how to scream into pillows. She thinks it's hysterical.


So...we know. Next year, this old MA resident will be posting from Houlton ME. The border lands. I have something solid to work towards now. A house. Preschool for the impling. A community. A neighborhood.


I could cry.


If I wasn't slightly drunk on cheap wine, I probably would be. The yoke is beginning to break away. By next June or July, it will be gone. A new life. A new home.


Possibly, a new yoke.


I welcome it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Practicing Our Accent

Dedicated to all of my New England friends! Enjoy!

It's Almost That Time

I know it sounds crazy, but next month I will have to sign up my older son for preschool. "Registering in November for the next fall is crazy," you might say because it seems so early, unless you have an older child, in which case you may be surprised that I didn't have to register him earlier.

A couple years ago when I started looking into preschools, I was surprised by how early registration occurs. I had certainly heard about it, but I thought that it was happening somewhere else. Fortunately although I registered my son in December since we were a new family (returning students register in November), there was no problem getting him a space. In fact for those fall babies like my son who just miss the cutoff, there didn't seem to be too much of a rush for registration. Things were different last year when we registered him for the 4 year old classroom. Fortunately none of the returning students seemed to have trouble getting a spot, even if it wasn't their first choice spot.

I was shocked by the irony of parents shelling out money to teach their kids basic life lessons like following directions, when they themselves insisted on lining up in the school before the official registration start time. Maybe there should be a refresher preschool course for parents. We can learn things like how to follow directions, say please and thank you, and be courteous to people in the grocery store! In the meantime, both years my son has been in preschool he's had kids join his class last minute. People move. As much weight as we put on ensuring the we register for the right school on-time (or in the case of those who don't follow instructions, early), it seems like our children still get into the classes they need even if they aren't the first choice ones.

Childless Dining

My husband and I didn't have a whole lot of time together without children. We dated through college, and then got married in the middle of grad school - I was 22 and he was 24. We got married six months after the whirlwind which is Emily touched down onto our lives.

I realize, now, that we squandered an awful lot of evenings out. Dinners at Pizza Hut or northern New York's answer to Red Lobster (and a weak, spineless answer it was, to be sure), a quick lunch at places that pronounced au jus "oh juss." We were living in the middle of nowhere and were far too casual about our dining-out choices.

Even after we moved to Salem, about a year before we had Emily, we didn't take adequate advantage of our quiet, childless evenings. A few nice dinners, but as a general rule we went out once a week to a mediocre place rather than saving our measly grad-school dimes to go to places with cloth napkins and wine lists.

And then we had a baby, and we realized our culinary mistake.

We lived hours and hours from any family at all, and knew very few people in the area; I still, seven-plus years later, don't know how people find sitters. Every once in a while we would hit the jackpot, and find someone willing and able and not scary to hold down the fort and let us go out by ourselves, but not often enough.

It's still not often enough. Last year, we had two reliable sitters that we could call on; then they had the gall to graduate and go away to college. Way to keep my priorities straight, girls. Education, schmeducation - you were my ticket to a dressy evening and uninterrupted sentences!

But we've managed, a time or two, to escape, now that my father lives with us and is occasionally willing to set us free, while our please-help-us ad grows ever yellower and lonelier at the high school's Early Childhood Education program. My dad has his faults, here and there, but he's a far sight better than our previous ideas, of setting the children at the curb with a sign reading "Dear Pedophiles, Come Spend Time With Us," or cramming them into a box in the closet with some Gatorade and a handful of Cheerios.

We've taken to skittering down to Portsmouth, about a 20-minute drive down the Spaulding, because that town has enough quaint to make up for the soulless genericness that is our town, and have had truly wonderful meals at The Library and Jumpin' Jay's Fish Cafe. And we'd love to do this more... we're just waiting to figure out how people get babysitters.

Globally Conscious/Locally Delicious Dining Experience

A couple weekends ago Hubby, Sweetie and I went to So. Western CT for a family wedding. It was a beautiful ceremony and a fun reception. Even the weather and perfect New England autumn landscape helped to make for one gorgeous event.

Hubby and I especially loved it all because the fall wedding theme reminded us of our own wedding day - which we celebrated just two days later with an 8th anniversary dinner out with Sweetie.

Since we considered the weekend away as our special anniversary trip, our dinner out on the actual day was considerably simpler - but still very delicious and fun.

So where'd we go? To the Flatbread Company in Bedford, MA.

The Flatbread Company is a pizzeria at heart, but that's not all. It's a pizzeria with heart. They use only local, organic produce and free range, clean meats and poultry. They truly care about the world around us and, because of this, they reward their patrons with out-of-this world pizzas.

Tuesday nights at the Flatbread are fund-raising nights - and that's another reason we were there on Tuesday, Oct. 9th. We were there to support my uncle's new company, GWEN, which works to educate the public about the effects of global warming on the environment. What a worthy cause to get out of the house for and enjoy some yummy pizza too!

The Flatbread Company is also a great place to take the kids. Sweetie thoroughly enjoyed playing with her complimentary ball of raw dough as we awaited the arrival of our pies. And with all the fun, colorful artwork around and the kitchen right in front of you where you can watch as your pizza cooks in the open flame oven - there's never a wont for something to entertain both the little ones and yourself.

Alas, we didn't sample anything from their seemingly large wine or dessert lists, but that's definitely in the plans for next time. And believe you-me - there will be a next time.

See, the Flatbread Company is just about two minutes from Whole Foods - Hubby's grocery store Mecca. Admittedly, a trip to Bedford MA for us, a family in So. Western NH, is quite a journey. But now we'll more happily make the trek as we have two reasons to head on out in that direction.

You better believe that, forevermore, our grocery trips to Whole Foods will include a lunch or dinner stop at the Flatbread Company.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Hangin' at the ALCS

My husband and I went to the first two games of the ALCS.

(For those of you with Internet access under your rocks, it's the Boston Red Sox vs. the Cleveland Indians.)

Game 1 was fabulous. And had the desired outcome for Sox fans.

We stayed overnight in Boston and spent the day being "tourists" (after a delicious all-you-can-eat breakfast at the hotel!) before going to Fenway for Game 2.

As you can imagine, Beantown was abuzz with Sox excitement. And we were totally part of it.

My husband was thrilled about running into Alex Cora - and getting to take a picture with him:


And he was more than excited about his photo op with NESN's Tina Cervasio:


As for me? Yeah, I got this guy:


And on top of that, well... you know the outcome Game 2.

Come on, Sox. Let's get 'em tonight!

- Sharon

Pay Day


No one can deny that payday is their favorite day of the week. But what happens when you are no longer the employee –but rather the boss? And just how much do you pay these micro employees? And just what do their job descriptions entail?

At Casa Del Whirlwind, pay is at an all time low. All work is done on a volunteer basis. So far, there has been no mutiny, but I feel those days are numbered. With a growing affection to all things Pokémon and knowledge gleamed from communicating with peers*, it's only a matter of time before they demand an allowence.

So far, it’s been accepted that it is their job to help set the table, clear their plates when finished, help make their beds and pick up toys when they are finished playing with them. Einey has even started helping with the laundry, if she’s with me, she’ll try to mate socks and fold the washcloths. Moe feels it’s her duty to clean the lint filter and will fight for that job. All three of the girls take turns making sure the dog is fed and has clean water. Come time to feed the lizard, they take turns going to the pet store and “paying” for the crickets and then carrying them back home. Other than that, their other responsibilities are finishing their homework when they come home from school and being nice to their siblings. Now granted, not every task is carried out without complaint, but they usually get most of it done.

During the summer months, they help outside by raking, planting, and carrying sticks to new locations. They pull weeds and pick the vegetables. None of this is required of them, they just think its fun to help. When does it go from being fun to being a chore?

Apparently I should be paying them for these tasks. Or so it's been mentioned. Just when should they get an allowance? And for what tasks? Is it too much to just expect them to do basic household help without expecting money for it? Or should I have to pay them to do things that should be their responsibility to do in the first place?


*Daughter goes to a private school where not only is it apparent that many kids get allowances, but also the Tooth Fairy leaves $5.00 per tooth.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A Scary Time of Year

I've always enjoyed Halloween. My husband and I met at a Halloween party, and my birthday is about a week before the 31st, so I get a lot of festive fun at the end of October. I've always enjoyed coming up with unique costumes, something that started in the 5th grade, when I borrowed a neighbor's antique hoop skirt and created a kick ass princess costume that garnered a lot of attention and admiration for my budding artistic skills. It also taught me the necessity of wearing shorts under skirts any time I might inadvertently flash someone, but that's another story.

Over the years, I've fashioned costumes ranging from simple to elaborate. Some of my favorites were the last minute ones, like the year I wasn't planning on going out until a last minute party invitation became irresistable. Instant costume: take an egg and blow it out, crumple up a paper bag into a nest shape, hot glue the egg to the nest and the nest to a barrette, throw on a green tunic and brown tights and voila! You're a tree!

Obviously, I've always had fun with the costume part of Halloween, but since becoming a mother I've had other issues. Halloween can be very scary for kids, and that is something we are dealing with this year. There have been umpteen discussions about different varieties of monsters, and lots of whining about costumes and begging to watch Halloween-themed television shows. We went searching for a costume at a party store and my son reacted to some of the way-too-adult decorations I tried to hustle him past with a catatonic deer-in-the-headlights gaze.

For our family, though, there is an extra level of scary on Halloween. When my son was 18 months old, he had an allergic reaction to a cracker that had traces of peanut butter on it. When your child is diagnosed with a severe food allergy, it's a frightening shift in the level of responsibility for what goes into your child's mouth to realize that every bite of food - heck, even the smell of peanut butter sets off some allergic reactions - is potentially dangerous. My first thought after getting confirmation of his allergy was, "Oh no! Now I'm going to be That Mom! The one who won't let you bring cupcakes to school to celebrate your kid's birthday! The one who pesters you at the party about the ingredients in the cake! Dammit!"

These days, I try to take the kids out trick or treating and enjoy it instead of freaking out. I just never thought that the scariest part of Halloween would be the candy.
____________________

The best place I've found for information and support for the families of children with food allergies is FAAN - The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network.

This is what Autumn is all about

'Tis the season... for Fall Festivals. Oktoberfests. Autumn Festivals. They go by many names.

And when the weather is as perfect as it was here in Rhode Island yesterday, nothing beats 'em.

Yesterday Jane and I took William and Benjamin (Alexander was home taking a nap) to a fall festival hosted by Prudential Gammons Realty to benefit A.D.O.P.T., a not-for-profit volunteer organization dedicated to helping stray, abandoned, homeless and injured animals in our area.

They had face painting and pumpkin painting.



A "pin the face on the pumpkin" game.



"Find the quarter in the haystack."



And, of course, the standard fall festival food and refreshments. Including the mother of all candy apples. (Trust me, this thing was huge. The picture doesn't do it any justice.)



Fall Festivals. They're a perfect way to spend time outdoors... after the summer heat and before the bitter cold of winter.

And yesterday was a fun, exhilarating time for all.



Well, for most of us.

- Audrey

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Blame It On The Rain

I sit down at my beloved Dell keyboard ready to write something genius. Mind blowing. Artful. Insightful. Inspirational.

Today will be my day.

My fingers freeze. I see the letters and keys in front of me, but my hands are stuck. They tremble over the laptop buttons, but can't find their way through the maze of letters.

Paralyzed.

I have no choice but to force my fingers to type. Something. Anything.

Tap Tap Tippity Tap

But all that appears on the screen is crap crap crappity crap.

Backspace. Backspace. Backspace. Backspace. Backspace. Backspace.

Start again.

Click clack clack click.

Still crap.

Do I get up and do something else? Do I make myself write even though nothing of substance comes out?

Why is it that on some days the words flow so effortlessly it's as if my mind has been storing up creative thoughts for an eternity. The thoughts pour out of my head and onto the screen like warm honey. So sweet and delicious are my words. MY words. They fit together perfectly. I see my voice on these days.

But there are Other Days too.

Oh, are there Other Days.

Other Days where my mind is blank.

Where the most interesting thing that I write is my grocery list.

Milk, Juice, Cold Cuts, Bread, Cheerios, Yogurt, Pancake Mix, Chicken nuggets.

Yep, that pretty much sums up my daily existence on Other Days.

As frustrating as they are, I try my best to wait out those Days. Hope they pass quickly. Pray that the Warm Honey days out number the Grocery List Days.

If I wait long enough and pretend that I don't care (but, oh, how I DO care!) the Grocery List Days usually come to an end. Which makes the honey all the more sweeter.

Unfortunately, I've been having a Grocery List Day for the better part of two weeks.

I blame the rain. Damn, New England weather.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Don't take me to the River

You know when you have a song stuck on repeat in your head?

But the song is one that makes you want to poke your ear drums with sharp knives?

That is my problem today. All because I heard this song on television this morning.

I'm assuming that most of you New Englanders (at least those of you in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts) have heard it on the radio or seen the commercial.

I don't know where to even begin with why the song bothers me so much.

Maybe it's that the singer just sounds horribly off-key. Maybe it's that I'm so turned off by the commercial, what with the woman flailing her arms about with no rhythm whatsoever dancing and just the overall "low-budget" feel for what's marketed as a "high class" establishment.

Maybe it just offends me that Twin River markets itself as a "gaming" facility and not a casino. But to me, slots machines + restaurants + entertainment = a casino.

Mostly, though, I hate the dog racing.

It's just interesting to me that Twin River was originally called Lincoln Greyhound Park.

Then it was changed to just Lincoln Park. (But the greyhound racing was still a major draw.)

Now it's Twin River. Investors have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into making it the third-largest slot machine facility in the country. And the dog racing is spun to be part of the "entertainment."

So no, I won't be taking myself to the River, thankyouverymuch.

And the song on repeat in my head is only serving to further solidify that vow.

- Jane

Mums the Word


Last weekend we hopped in the car and meandered down the windy, hilly roads of north-western Connecticut. We brought a picnic lunch to Lake Waramaug in Litchfield County, and lounged on a small sandy beach watching brave people in bathing suits wade into the water. The sun warmed our backs as we nibbled on assorted delicacies and took in the stunning views: glassy still water; brilliant foliage dotting the hills; and cows. (Yes - cows. There is a cow pasture that sits on the northern edge of the lake.)

Who knows what awaits us this weekend. Will it be more leaf-peeping and country driving? Will we hit some farmstands and load up on apples, gourds, pumpkins and cider? Maybe it's time for hayride? A visit to a winery?

Welcome back, Autumn. So glad you're here.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Concord

Nope, not the town, although it is lovely. I'm talking grapes. The Concord grape was actually developed in Concord, by one Ephraim Wales Bull. He planted seeds on his farm, located next to Bronson Alcott's farm, from the wild grape varietal Vitis labrusca. In 1843, he started evaluating his seedlings. Over 20,000 seedlings and six years later, he settled on the perfect one. That vine still grows at his former home. Bull never saw much profit from his grapes after selling the vines for $5 a piece to competing growers.

One Dr. Thomas Bramwell Welch, a New Jersey dentist, developed and pasteurized the first Concord grape juice, in 1869, to be used in communion in his church. And of course, peanut butter and jelly wouldn't be peanut butter and jelly without Concord Grape Jelly.

But it's as a table grape that it really shines. Yes, they have seeds. So what? Have you ever eaten a Concord grape? They are one of the few types of produce that is truly seasonal. You can buy red or green grapes year round. Apples, even, get imported from New Zealand (New Zealand!!) or shipped in from Washington, but a Concord grape is only around for a month or so. We're nearing the end of the season now.

Oh, they're good. They pop in your mouth, the skin, a bit thick, pulling away from the tangy sweetness of the pulp inside. Mmm. Go down to your local market now and buy some. Come February, when you're picking over strawberries that look like styrofoam and wincing at the $3 a pound apples, you'll remember those grapes and smile, looking forward to next September and October, when you can indulge once again.

'scuse me. I have to run to Stop & Shop and get some more, before somebody else hogs 'em all up. Better wash my purple fingers first....

Hey, Who's the New Guy?

...that would be me.

I'm Kate. Sarah, of the Trenches variety, and Ms. Chicky herself, have graced my inbox with their vaulted words, and I'm dipping my toe into the world of group blogging.

Can you lean just a little closer for a minute? Just... pull in a little... yeah, c'mere. Okay, listen. It's kind of a secret. Ready? I'm not a real New Englander.

It's a little sad, I know. I'm just a transplant, and will never be a true Yankee. I pronounce R's at the end of words that end in R, and can allow names that end in vowels to go R-less. I could not - seriously, I've tried - care less about sports. I live in New Hampshire and don't own a gun.

But I like it here. I consider myself a permanent transplant; after we've survived two or eight more years of my husband as grad student at UNH, we plan on moving closer to Boston. I don't get nearly enough opportunities for road rage up here on the Seacoast.

What else, what else? I never know whether my interests are interesting or merely another set of lists. I knit, I travel, I have children (Emily is 7 and Jacob is 3) with the option for more in a year or two. I blog. I'm a sort-of psychologist, doing crisis assessments in the emergency room. I, I, I... you get the idea.

I hope this is fun. I hope to get to know some fabulous new people, because that gives me more chances to gossip about the unfabulous ones out there. I hope not to be boring.

Finding the Catskill Mountain House

We were staying at a small bed & breakfast in the mid-Hudson River Valley this week when we found out--on our last day there, of course--about a nearby site that was heralded as just the balm for sore eyes. Needing no convincing, and not daunted in the least by unfavorable weather conditions, we headed out in the direction of the Catskill Mountains toward what James Fenimore Cooper called the “greatest wonder of all creation.”

In the moist gray-blue air, this is what we got:


Then the clouds below us became a cloud around us. I could see and feel its movement as the fog crept around a corner and took over not only the land on which we stood, but also the invisible vastness in front of us.

The voice in the guidebook we’d consulted told us the view from the site of the old Catskill Mountain House was “so lovely that it transcends mere description to become a symbol of the profoundest yearnings within the soul of the beholder.” I was prepared to believe it; even in absence—the absence of the house, which was burnt down almost 50 years ago, and the absence of the view, which was hidden by all the weightless wetness of a levitating pond—there was something transcendental. And I thought, for sure, I’d be returning. I hadn’t seen what I’d hoped to, but I’d seen something.


It’s not the manifestation that keeps us coming back. It’s the promise.

De Plane! De Plane!

This summer, we discovered Castle Island in South Boston. Remarkably, I have lived most of my 40 years in Massachusetts, but never visited this place until a few months ago. After talking to other suburban mamas, I realized I wasn't the only one who had overlooked this place.

From a historical standpoint, Castle Island is significant as the home of Fort Independence, an imposing granite fort built in the mid-1800's. We have yet to actually be there when tours are being held, but even walking around the Fort is interesting to little kids.

Besides Fort Independence, there are several things that my kids & I loved about our two trips to Castle Island.

First, there is the location. I have no hangups about driving in Boston, but the traffic and the expense of parking can make me less-than-anxious about returning. Fortunately, Castle Island is an easy drive up Route 93 (we live south of the city) to exit 15; signs point the way from there. The main road, William J Day Boulevard, runs alongside the beach and literally ends at the Castle Island parking lot. And, get this, the parking is free. Free!

One of the first things you may notice after parking is the low building at the far end of the lot. This is Sullivan's, a seasonal take-out restaurant that sells hamburgers, hot dogs, fries and other kid (and adult) favorites. It's cheap, greasy and crowded. . .in other words, perfect. There are outdoor tables or plenty of grass nearby for a picnic.

After eating (doesn't everyone eat first?), follow the path past the bath house to the playground.


The playground has two large play structures and swings for kids of varying ages. Park benches line the perimeter, so if you are lucky, you may actually be able to sit back and watch your kids play for a while.

Wait, what's that noise? Oh yeah, I didn't mention the aspect of Castle Island that made my son wild the first time we went. The planes. Planes from Logan zoom overhead every minute or so, and they are low and loud. My little guy channels this guy the entire time we are there, and I never get sick of it.

Besides the playground and the planes, there is the beach. When we visited in July, lifeguards in their chairs lined the beach all along the road leading to Castle Island. There were kids in the water everywhere we looked. On our last visit, it was hot, but the water had cooled significantly, so there were mostly just toes getting wet (one other thing is that it is windy here; pack accordingly. And your hair? Fuhgeddaboudit).



Walk along the beach a bit to the rocky part. Over here, my kids found the bodies of crabs, clams, mussels, and loads of shell fragments and cool rocks (bring a pail or deep pockets).


Although the warmth of summer is gone, Castle Island would still be a pretty great place to visit on a fall day. It bustles with dog walkers, moms with kids, runners and retirees---all out enjoying the neighborhood beach with the planes overhead.




Wednesday, October 10, 2007

All knocked up and nothing to eat

I recently announced over on my personal blog that my husband and I are expecting our second baby. I am beyond excited but despite the fact that it's only been two years, I am shocked at how much I have forgotten about being pregnant.

That said, I am looking for advice. What does a pregnant lady eat?

Let me explain. I am one of those women who don't suffer morning sickness. Or nausea. I KNOW. Genetics. My mother and sister were the same through all of their pregnancies as well. However, lately when it's been time to eat, I come up short. I either have no idea what to eat, or what I want to eat, so I usually end up waiting too long, over thinking the issue and eventually losing my appetite altogether.

The only things I can remember enjoying during my last pregnancy were nachos and ovaltine/banana/rice milk smoothies. Me thinks I need to expand the repertoire a bit beyond those two choices.

For the past three weeks I've been daydreaming about going to the grocery store with a fabulous list of healthy, appealing items to stock up on and for the past three weeks I've gone grocery shopping and come home with milk, bread, bananas and guacamole. Seriously.

Help a sister out, won't you?

10/10 @ 10:00

The New England Mamas support all mothers as they love and feed their babies. The League of Maternal Justice is hosting a virtual Breast Fest today. A member of the League says:

We'll be asking mothers across the blogosphere to whip out their weapons of mass nourishment and feed their babies live via web cam in a Virtual Nurse-In, or to send us pics of themselves in their past or present breastfeeding glory for a montage breastfeeding video footage that might just make Bill Maher fall off his chair. ...Not a breastfeeder? We love your boobs too -- but in case you don't feel like flashing them, write a post, or put up a snazzy boobalicious button. Boob-shy? Same goes for you - you don't have to bare your breasts to support the cause.

Whether you're a nurser or not, I think we can all agree that being a mom is tough enough without having to defend your choices to insensitive passers-by. Visit the League today or post a story of your own (like this one here) in support of all moms who just want to have the freedom to do right by their babies.

From Boston to Orlando

I'm currently in the Sunshine State for a family reunion. We are very fortunate that my aunt and uncle have saved their time share units for the past few years so that the whole family can use them this week. When I first heard that my aunt was hosting this reunion, I was really excited. An "excuse" to go to Disney World! However, slowly the other financial aspects of this trip started to set in. A big one was how were we going to get there.

We knew we wanted to fly. Although most family and friends from outside of New England assume that Logan is the best gateway to Massachusetts, we actually prefer to fly out of TF Green in Rhode Island. Our drive is about the same to either airport, but we find TF Green to just be a lot nicer. From the employees to the cleanliness of the airport, to the cost of parking, to the ease of getting to the terminal from long-term parking, TF Green is just a lot of better. Plus a lot of times the airfare is cheaper.

This time TF Green did not have the cheapest price. However, the airport in Manchester, New Hampshire did. (Yes, despite being called "Boston Regional," the Manchester airport is in New Hampshire.) We found amazingly cheap tickets from there to Orlando. The trip to the airport wasn't much longer. Plus we were able to do curbside check-in before my husband, the Big Giraffe, dropped us off and parked the car. The long-term parking was a tad more than TF Green but far less than Logan and the Big Giraffe was comfortable walking to the terminal from our space. For a family of four with a lot of stuff, it worked out really well. My only complaint about the trip actually has nothing to do with the airport itself, but rather the airlines. We flew Southwest which doesn't have assigned seats. The sounds great, right? Sure, except that I got stuck sitting next to someone else's kid because there weren't enough seats for his brother and him to sit next to their parents. In reality he was very polite and well-behaved, but it's bad enough trying to figure out ways to entertain my own kids without throwing an extra child into the mix. Fortunately he actually helped me entertain my older son; he had UNO cards which we all played for a while.

Alright, there was one other downside to the trip...while our super-cheap flight home is mid-day, our super-cheap flight to Orlando left at 6:25 AM! You can imagine that after a travel day that involved leaving our house at 3:30 in the morning, we slept very well on our first night in Orlando. And it was certainly worth it!

Day Trip to Rhode Island

The nice thing about living in New England is not having to drive far to find something totally different from your every day life. I grew up in spitting distance from Massachusetts and Rhode Island (although I never did try that) and was only a car ride from shopping at Quincy Market or sunbathing in the ocean sand. It's a glorious place to live.

After I got married, I moved out here to the Western Hills of Connecticut, and now I'm close to New York state, which adds another dimension to my travels. So much to see, so little time. Soon my family and I will take our annual drive up to Freeport, Maine, where we shop at the outlet stores and buy WAY too much at LLBean. I'm also getting excited to travel up thru the Berkshires to check out the fall colors next week.

This past weekend we took a van ride to Rhode Island. Hubby and I, and the 3 kids. My son is hours away from turning 6 and my girls are 4 and 3. We usually take a few summer trips over to the ocean to dig for clams and eat some great seafood, but our lives got hectic this year. And with the weather still summer-like, we thought a jaunt to the beach to get some good food and stick our toes in the sand would be a fun family trip.

And it was. We got to the beach and it was so foggy. Come to find out, it was just that little piece of land sticking out into the ocean that was foggy, that wonderful town called Point Judith. On our way home, the sun came back out as we traveled farther inland. The lobster and steamers were glorious; the kids LOVED to collect shells and dip their toes in the salty water. My son is all excited to bring his shells to show-and-tell at school tomorrow. And the ride was full of laughter, music and happy, content kids. Thank goodness my kids have always traveled well.

It was a wonderful family day trip. And it didn't take long to get there.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Next Summer I'll be picking out a Christmas Tree.

At first, it all started with the UBER chain stores. The holiday decorations popping up before Thanksgiving. The flyers showing up in my mailbox in time to make our Black Friday strategy a week or so in advance.

Now, I've never been one to shop too far in advance. Black Friday has always been my green light. I'd collect online discount codes, maybe pick up a rain check or two. Nothing too serious.

I was alright with the hoopla starting in early November even. But this year takes the absolute cake. I had found some really fabulous deals for back to school shopping so I made my way into a BIG chain store. I snagged what I needed and made my way to the gardening section only to find that it had already been taken over with several sizes of pre-lit Christmas trees, blue and silver dreidel decor, ornaments, and a Christmas village that would blow your mind. My bulbs and mums were smooshed into some random corner. All before school had even started.

Last week, I was again lured to the BIG store. They accept our insurance for Busy Bee's inhalers, so not really lured there so much as forced by my wallet. To make a long story short, they had started removing the Halloween stuff. Yup, you guessed it, for the Holiday stuff.

Don't get me wrong. The Holidays are my favorite time of year. My house looks like a miniature North Pole. Our tree is up the weekend following Thanksgiving. But, do we really need to extend the Holidays all the way back into August?

Am I going to have to pick out our tree in July next year, just to keep up?

Monday, October 8, 2007

Traveling & Traditions

For me, holidays are synonymous with travel. It’s not unique. It’s a common-known phenomenon—highways congested, airports overloaded.

It’s my own fault. I’m the one who left home. For school, for work, for love. Because home felt elsewhere. Or because home didn’t feel like home. At different points, different places. I guess I shouldn’t complain, I brought it on myself.

Packing up clothes and packages, newspaper clippings I’d been meaning to send to my father, gifts and toiletries, that shirt I borrowed from my sister, it’s slow-going getting ready. Slower going loading the car. But luckily for me I live where most people go. For instance, this weekend, Columbus Day weekend, most people are heading to see the foliage. We are heading south on the highway, for the most part avoiding traffic, for a quick dinner with my father, my nephew’s football game, a visit with .

We used to stay with my sister, but three now, we have overgrown our welcome. Not that she wouldn’t let us stay, we’ve done it before. Her family upstairs, ours in the basement with the air bed and the pack-n-play. Now though, with Georgia growing, the need for routine and time away from stimulation is obvious. Last night alone after a day of visiting, at dinner, she got so slap happy I knew it was only matter of time before her giggles and smiles turned south into frowns and wails. But, blaming the baby entirely would be unfair, our need for a restful night’s sleep is palpable.

So here we sit, and here I write this. From a hotel room. Our day stretching full and loaded before us. Our luggage—multiplied 175 times now with baby—strewn around us. And I wonder: Could we do this if we had another baby? We’ve already decided that Thanksgiving will be too much this year. We have opted instead, to cook our own Turkey—our first one!!—and invite family up north. Not all of them will come, stuck in their own traditions. And so we start our own…

I am beginning to understand how families break off into smaller pods. As families expand, Thanksgiving, Christmas, the Forth of July evolve. I don’t take it lightly, these are the days my child will remember. These are the bonds that will mean the most. We are a family in transition. Traveling. Trying out new traditions.

(Check out my 31 for 21 blog challenge for Down syndrome awareness at my regular blog.)

Don't forget the zesty sauce

“They f*ck you at the drive-thru.”

I can’t recall the exact line that Joe Pesci delivered in the movie Lethal Weapon while sitting in the back seat of a car, driven by Mel Gibson, which had just left the drive-thru window.

But I do recall the dozens (no, hundreds) of times that I have uttered something very similar while digging through bags of stuff, trying to find what I did order, while exiting a drive-thru.

So call me crazy, but I have a new hero of sorts in a one Christopher M. Lavigne of North Kingstown, RI.

As reported in Saturday's Providence Journal, it seems that the “zesty sauce” was missing from Mr. Lavigne’s drive-thru order at a local Burger King.

But instead of driving away and uttering something like, “They f*ck you at the drive-thru,” Mr. Lavigne parked his car. Entered the Burger King. Let loose some major “F*s” of his own at the offending employee. Kicked in the door as he exited. Broke the glass. Drove away. Got caught by a North Kingstown police officer soon thereafter.

So now Mr. Lavigne finds himself in a tad bit more trouble than missing his zesty sauce. Yes, Mr. Lavigne has been charged with vandalism and disorderly conduct.

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t condone uncivil behavior. I have never (intentionally) broken any laws. I have certainly never been arrested. Charged. Or jailed.

But I could be.

Because I have “F*ck You'd” more Burger King, McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donut, Starbuck’s, Taco Bell, Wendy’s… and you name it…. drive-thru employees than I dare to mention.

Because yes, I DO expect to get Jane’s Mocha Coolata with skim milk. I DO expect my husband’s DD coffee to be dark with no sugar, not light with extra freakin’ sugar. I DO expect to get Audrey’s Soft Taco with no tomatoes. I DO expect to get my grandson’s burger with NO FREAKIN’ ONIONS.

NO, I AM NOT A VIOLENT MENOPAUSAL LADY.

OK, calm down.

And although I do understand that we live in a hurried, frazzled society of get-me-this QUICK and get-me-that DOUBLEQUICK…

…if all of you fast food companies are going to OFFER fast food at the drive-thru, just PLEASE get it right. Write my order correctly. Or enter it into your computer correctly. Take two seconds to repeat my order. Let me have a moment to actually check my order (and this also involves the guy or gal behind me, up my car’s ass, honking like there’s no tomorrow).

Hey, Mr. Lavigne. I feel your pain.

But maybe we should all take pause here and reassess what we, as a frenzied society (including the improperly trained employees), bring to the burger table.

Do I need help? Or should I just park my car and head on inside?

- Sharon

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Scorecard

Holy frijole! The stars must be in alignment, because we are having the best weekend! My hubby was up in Boston for a work conference Friday afternoon and Saturday, and he managed to score tickets for Friday night's Sox game. He and our brother-in-law, who lives in NYC and was up for the weekend, went to the game and stayed all the way to the totally-not-bitter end. Go Manny!

+ 10 points for tickets! + 79 points for nice weather! + 563 points for family bonding! Winning? Priceless - woo hoo!

So, he's all happy, right? The kids and I stayed home, and played "Dance Party," and ordered pizza, and stayed up late, and just had fun. On Saturday, the kids woke me up, and I was still tired, and for the first time ever, I just blew them off! I asked them to go get their own breakfast, and they DID!

Now, imagine me fanning myself and rolling my eyes and expressing a "Have mercy" kind of vibe... I got to sleep in almost 45 minutes!

+ 1,079 points!

And then we went to a birthday party, and they were NOT the worst behaved children, and then we went up to Boston, and I dropped them off with my in-laws, and they were happy to see me go!

At least + 1,230 points, dudes!

I KNOW! It's like a parallel universe or something!

But wait! It gets better! My hubby and I met up at the hotel, and then we chilled out, and scored reservations to a terrific restaurant at the last minute, and had a great dinner and an even better desert.

At least 55 points, there. Actually, did I say 55? How about 5500, which would be approximately the number of calories we actually consumed! Whew.

And then we went back to the room, and watched a silly movie, and slept like the dead, and then we woke up and, uhm, none of your business, and then he left and met friends and tailgated and went to the Patriots game. Me? I took a cue from weeks worth of "What Not To Wear," and spent about 3 hours trying on clothes at Lord & Taylor. I was driving past, and I remembered what a nice selection of plus-sized clothing they have, and for once I didn't have anywhere else to be.

Then, I did a few more errands, like finishing almost all my Christmas shopping for the kids. I KNOW! Finally, my hubby called me and said he was almost home, and we decided to meet for an early dinner, because NO KIDS! Now we are home, watching a movie that we could never ever watch with the kids around ("Shaun of the Dead").

Current scorecard for the weekend? +17,341!

(I hope everyone else is having a great holiday weekend!)