Tuesday, March 31

The Quiet Days Of Yesteryear

Before Jack was in school full time the days seemed to drag by interminably. Each day was like the day before. It didn't matter if it was a Tuesday or a Saturday, the day was filled with the same old, same old. Now I look back on those years and wonder if I appreciated them enough. We used to go on fun field trips in the middle of the week, in the middle of the day. Everyone else was at school and we had zoos, parks, libraries, museums, all to ourselves. It completely spoiled me. Now when we join the masses on the weekends or school vacations to go somewhere I am constantly reminded of the way things used to be. Even though Abbey is not in school full time yet, it never seems like we get away during the week to do anything fun. She has gymnastics, we have to go to the grocery store, 3 zillion loads of laundry have to be washed. And there is always that get Jack off the bus 3 pm deadline hanging over my head, making me feel anxious and stressed. Now we have Taekwondo added to the mix, baseball starts up this week, scouting ends. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind bringing the kids to activities that I know they enjoy. I like having a schedule to keep me sane and busy. I just wonder, did I enjoy those former years enough? As the saying goes, did I stop to smell the roses? I'm not sure I did. But I am fondly looking back on them now, and just wishing for one random Tuesday where we can head off to a small children's museum an hour away to just hang out and play. Just play. With nothing to rush home for.

Sunday, March 29

Me, Bad Blogger

Wow, I have been a pitiful blogger lately. Days have gone by with nothing new to share. Sad really. And I still don't have anything to share, but I didn't want to wait another day before posting something. I will share with you that although my house seemed quite GIANT after moving back into it from the trailer, it is now shrinking ever so slightly again with all our our stuff. I place most of the blame on shoes and chargers. I swear, a few short years ago we had NO chargers at all. Now we have a whole drawer full. Camera battery charger. 2 cell phone chargers. Blackberry charger. Game boy charger. Chargers chargers chargers. And the shoes. Don't get me started. We are not even "shoe" people (OK, maybe Abbey is. No, I know she is). Boots, slip on shoes, sneakers. Dennis' boots alone take up the entire "boot" mat. I'm tripping over them and feel like I am always picking up someones shoes. Suzy came over on Friday to see the house in all its new glory, and informed me that I am still holding onto too much shit. Can I say shit here? Well, I am. We have a lot of shit. Sorry. She made me throw out even more glasses, and even forced me to chuck this handy item.
What? You don't know what this is? Why it's a spinning condiment dispenser of course. Don't we all need one of these? For those summer days when you have lots of people over for hot dogs and hamburgers you just pull out your handy dandy spinning condiment dispenser and viola! Mustard, ketchup, relish. Just spin and there you go. What are you saying? That I had this in my cupboard for YEARS (and yes people, actually moved this item from our first house 6 years ago to here) taking up a huge amount of space and I am pretty sure I never actually used it. But I thought I might . . . . one day. I might have. Maybe. You know, for that really big cookout I always thought I would have.

Wednesday, March 25

Dental Anxiety

The kids had a dentist appointment yesterday. Just a cleaning, but I was a complete nervous nelly inside. For the past two weeks I have been anxiously watching their appointment loom closer and closer. Once we got there and they were both sitting in their respective chairs with their respective hygienists I casually asked, "Oh, is Dr. Dentistman not in today?" Obviously I have changed his name, although if that was your last name you would SO have to be a dentist when you grew up, right? When I heard he was out I heaved a sigh of relief. I realized that I wasn't nervous about the kids being uncomfortable or not cooperative at their appointment, but having to talk to the dentist about their teeth. This is the same dentist that I have been going to since I was 5. Dennis has been going to him since he was 5. My entire family. He's not a mean man or anything, although my father would complete disagree and dislikes him with a passion. (So much so that he took his and my mothers dental records from the last 25 years and got the hell out of there.) Its more that he is a dental snob. It seems as if he likes to work on teeth that are well, perfect. If you have bad teeth or multiple problems, then you kind of get the impression that you have somehow committed a mortal sin. When it comes to the kids he just makes me feel . . . . inadequate somehow. Like I don't give their oral health nearly the attention it rightly deserves.

"Who has been flossing these children's teeth?" he asked me last time.

"Ummm, that would be me." Sure, its true that sometimes the whole flossing thing falls by the wayside. I mean, as mothers we have so many millions of things to take care of, the daily flossing/fluoride rinsing routine many times gets pushed to the back burner. To be honest I pretty much let them floss and brush their own teeth. I supervise, kind of. Most of the time. OK, sometimes not at all. OK, and sometimes they don't floss. Or forget the rinse. Or its late and I'm tired and they're whining and I don't even make them brush. You caught me. It's true! There have been whole weekends gone by when I don't think they've picked up a brush. There at the dental office I sometimes want to scream at him "don't I have enough to feel guilty about, do you have to add the threat of impending cavities due to lack of flossing to my list!"

But Jack and Abbey thus far have great teeth. No cavities. So get off my back Dr. Dentistman. And even if they didn't, even if their teeth were filled with cavities, it still wouldn't make me a bad mother, dammit!

The only real reason we still go there is because of the dental hygienists. The women who do the actual cleaning of your teeth. The two that work on their teeth are so great and wonderful and fabulous with them that my kids actually look forward to going to the dentist, which is just insane. Who likes to go to the dentist? Since they haven't had any cavities or needed any work done, the only time they see the actual dentist is when he pops in at the end of their cleanings to say hello, commiserate with the hygienist, and to show me how I should be properly flossing their teeth, because obviously I'm doing it wrong.

Monday, March 23

The Invisible Mother

You may have read this before, but it was just sent to me again and I thought it was perfect timing and wanted to share. How often do you feel invisible?

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask me a question. Inside I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'm on the phone?" Obviously, not. No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, What time is it? I'm a satellite guide to answer, What number is the Disney Channel? I'm a car to order, Right around 5:30, please.

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated sum a cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going; she's going; she is gone! One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, "I brought you this." It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: To Charlotte , with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees. In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything. A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it." And the workman replied, "Because God sees." I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become." At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree. When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, "My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table." That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, "you're gonna love it there." As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Thursday, March 19

Once Upon A Time

Jack and Abbey love to read books before bed, and although I won't lie to you all and claim to read to them every single night at bedtime, we do it most of the time. They each usually get to pick out one book, or one story, or lately 2 chapters of one of Jack's "now he's growing up and reading chapter books" books. Some nights Jack will even read to Abbey himself, letting me off the hook so to speak. One of their favorite books is this collection of Fairy Tales by Usborne Books (fabulous books by the way). It has 6 stories in it, and they can usually choose 1. Last night they chose Rumpelstiltskin. I have to tell you, I am starting to not be able to stand these stories, and they are getting harder and harder to read with a straight face. I had to wonder aloud why in the hell Rumpelstiltskin would trade his gold spinning abilities with the poor millers daughter for her measly necklace? I mean, if you can spin straw into gold, wouldn't you just buy your own necklace? Next he takes her ring, and then wants her first born baby. I can see wanting a baby, maybe. But if you have so much money from all that gold that was formerly straw, you would be able to buy pretty much anything, and I'm sure in this poor village that would include a baby. And this girl? First the King locks her into rooms with piles of straw, telling her "spin it into gold by morning or you'll die!" Die. Actually he will kill her. Then when she does it (supposedly) he decides to marry her. And she DOES! Would you really marry someone who threatened your life? She's a fool.

A lot of the time I just simply change parts of stories that I don't like. So many of these old fairy tales have such odd messages. Goldilocks commits breaking and entering in the 3 bears house, and comes off like a tormented little angel. Jack steals from the giant and then kills him by cutting down the beanstalk and he is a little hero living it up with riches. One of the only good ones is Hansel and Gretel. Two little kids get lost in the woods and go into a strangers house for "safety". Hello? So unsafe. Of course she ends up being evil and wanting to eat them. A good lesson about not talking to strangers, no matter how much they look like a nice old lady. Then there's the three little pigs, whose mother decides that they are what? Too big? Too old to live with her anymore? She proceeds to just kick them out to the street to make their own way while this wolf stalks them the whole time. When I read this particular story I always make the first 2 pigs boy pigs, and the third a girl. The first two, the boys, foolishly make their houses shoddily out of dumb sticks and straw. As if those materials are going to keep the wolf out. Then the very smart and clever girl sister pig makes her house sturdy and strong out of bricks and saves the day by letting her brothers hide out in there with her. Then she boils a pot of water and burns that wolf up. Hero pig girl!

Of course, these little changes of mine are getting harder and harder to pull off. Now that Jack can read.

Tuesday, March 17


On December 12th I threw some clothes and belongings for the four of us into random bags, not quite sure where we were going, or how long we would be gone. It was a strange packing experience. We had to go to my company Christmas party that night, so I had to find Dennis a tie, a dress shirt, his jacket. I remember shivering in the cold bedroom, looking for something that I could wear that fit me and would work for a party. In the end I didn't even care, but grabbed whatever and turned my attention to packing stuff for the kids. The house had that odd quiet quality it gets when there is no electric current running through it. Its true that even when you have everything turned off at your house, you can still "hear" the electricity. All you could hear outside was the buzzing sound of chainsaws, my husbands included, as he tried to clear us a path out of the driveway so that we could make our escape. It was surreal driving out of our driveway, in the minivan with the dented hood and the cracked windshield, all of the trees bent and broken, everything in our world covered in ice. I remember I kept saying to Jack and Abbey, "look around you, look at that, look at this. You've never seen anything like this." It was amazing, and I knew they may never (lets hope) see a storm like that again in their lifetimes.

I never could have imagined on that freezing cold Friday back in December that it would be 3 months before I slept in my bed. That we would sleep at my cousins house, my great-aunts, and spend 3 weeks at my parents, sleeping on blow-up beds and couches, displacing everyone there. I never imagined that we would actually have to live in a big trailer in the yard. But we did. We were gone for 3 months and 3 days to be exact. 3 months and 3 days before I would give my kids a bath in our tub. 3 months and 3 days before I would do laundry in my own house. 3 months and 3 days before I would run my dishwasher, cook a meal in my oven, grab some water from the door of the fridge. 3 months and 3 days before I would plop down on the couch after tucking the kids into bed in their snug rooms. 3 months and 3 days before we would be . . . Home. I never could have foreseen the damage that the Ice Storm was going to bestow on us, on so many people. Even though our house is at last fixed and put back together (better than before I might add), the yard is still a mess. Trees, branches, our broken dead animatronic Christmas deer still under a bit of snow and trees. There will be cleanup for weeks and weeks. The trees may never look the same, every time you look up you are reminded of that December day of last year when mother nature kicked our asses.

But it's all over now. We are home. Home. I tell ya, it is a mighty nice place to be.

Wednesday, March 11

The Octo-Mom, The Madness

Is it just me (don't answer that, I know it's not) but is the Octo-mom, Nadya Suleman, crazy? I'll admit, I haven't followed her sensationalized life that much. I have picked up bits and pieces. She is single, she has 6 other kids at home, she just had 8 babies, she lives in like a 2 bedroom house. The babies are still in the hospital, some of them still in the NICU. But I've SEEN these babies. On Entertainment Tonight, on Access Hollywood. On the Internet. In the paper. On the regular news. I shouldn't have seen any of these babies. I don't know them, they are not family. They are small and frail and defenseless and there is no way in the world anyone should be seeing them. They should be kept safe and secure and NOT BE ON TV. I'm sorry I keep yelling (a.k.a. screaming out in all CAPS) but it frustrates me. Each time I see something on this woman she is talking about how she just wants the madness to end, blah blah blah. How she is normal and not crazy and wishes the media would just leave her alone. Well honey, here's a hint, if you want the madness to end STOP INVITING THE MEDIA INTO YOUR LIVING ROOM! Stop letting Access Hollywood take their cameras and their crew and their germs into the hospital to tape footage of you stroking your 6 week old 3 lb babies. Stop it now. Just stop it. OK, I feel better.

Tuesday, March 10

Hello Spring, Can You Hear Me?

Well, we sprung ahead Sunday by an hour. That means that Spring is here, right? I think not. I think it only means that the sun sets later and the kids have huge difficulties falling asleep at a reasonable hour. Sunday night we started bedtime at 8, and they didn't go to sleep until 10 (10:20 for Jack). Last night they were exhausted and were out by 8:10 and it was lovely. Tonight, 9:30. We always start bedtime at the same time, but why some nights they have to be so stubborn is beyond me. Wait until it is still light out at 7:30 at night. I will be lucky to get them to sleep by midnight! Anyway, technically Spring begins on the 20th, but I am not buying it. I don't trust you Spring, you big liar. I find it hard to believe that in a mere 10 days it will be Springtime. My driveway and yard are still covered with snow. There is not a leaf to be seen. Not a bird to be heard. The cinder blocks and chunks of wood the trailer is perched on are still frozen into the ground. Wouldn't it be nice to wake up on the 20th, hear the birds chirping and see some sunshine? Sometimes I think, whatever Spring . . . I won't hold my breath.

I don't mean to sound cranky, I'm actually not. My house is being finished up, I have carpeting now in my bedroom and upstairs hall and this makes me happy. I know that we are at last in the final stages of "The Winter From Hell" and its only normal for it to try to hang on as long as possible, to try and give us one final gasp. Well gasp away Winter, your time is numbered. Spring may be a bit of a swaggering exaggerating tease, but it's there, it's gaining on you.

Sunday, March 8

Pizazz, Part Deux

OK, here is my new look. I am going to attempt to restrain myself from messing with it. I like it, it's springy. I now have to force myself to stop looking at it, because it's bedtime and I have things to do. Children to put to bed. Dishes to do. Backpacks to pack. Laundry to fold. We had yet another busy Sunday of NOT moving back into our house. . . grumble grumble . . . although we did get a lot done. Still, its so hard to stop staring at my new look. I just want to check myself out. It's so darn cute.


Don't fret, your not going crazy. My blog has a new look, but I'm not really thrilled with it. It's a bit . . . busy. . and maybe the cherries are odd? I was attempting to download and paste a "code" with a blog background from a website I found, and since I absolutely don't know what the hell I am doing it went completely awry and I lost my old look completely. At the time I was getting tired so I just glanced through the pre-made ones and decided on this a pinkish one, the lesser of all the icky pre-made blog backgrounds. Then I got this cherry background on, I' don't know. I'm confused. It's funny, almost a year ago when I started this blog I went through all of the layouts and backgrounds and thought they were just peachy, but as my blog has grown, my readership has grown and I have grown (plumper - ha ha) I am wishing for a better look. So in the coming days and weeks the blog may start to look a little schizophrenic. In fact, by the time you read this the cherries may already be gone. I'll probably just keep trying out different styles until I settle on something that I like. Kind of the way I do when I move furniture around. Let me know what you think. Cherries stay?

Speaking of furniture, we are NOT in our house yet. My bitterness at still living in this trailer is growing, and the thought of spending another week here is almost intolerable, but it has to be done. We have no beds yet. It will be fine. The house is close . . . so close to being complete. Today will be "operation put up more curtains and clean more dust". The first floor is just there, done, ready for us to live in. The upstairs on the other hand. . . what can I say . . . disarray, discombobulation, disorganization. I distaste it. Hmmm, apparently today's blog post was brought to you by the letter "D".

Thursday, March 5

Miss Crankypants and a Good Cause

I am feeling very cranky today. Actually, I felt pretty cranky yesterday as well. I am cranky because I can't seem to shake this damn cold I've had for 3 weeks. I am cranky because we are still living in a trailer in the yard. I am cranky because my dog who is now 12 is shedding even more hair than the usual 1,234,556 hairs every day and coating the entire small trailer we currently live in with hair, hair, hair. Dog hair on my bed. Dog hair on my clothes. Dog hair in my coffee. Dog hair on the kids. It's bad. I am cranky because I am tired and feel like I never get to just sleep in. I am cranky because it always feels like we have something to do, all the time. I am cranky because my pants are too tight and I don't have the desire, energy or will to do anything to change it. Sigh. I guess I am just cranky. Last night I had all these dreams (did you ever notice you dream more when you don't feel well? Maybe I had a fever.) The one I remember is that I was at the doctors office waiting to get checked out, but the doctor was running late. I kept staring at the clock, knowing that I had to leave in exactly 12 minutes in order to get home and get Jack off the bus. I watched the clock and felt tense and then when 12 minutes were up I had to leave. So I left. I never saw the doctor. Also I couldn't find my chapstick and emptied out every part of my purse, pockets and the entire doctors office looking and could not find chapstick. Well, you don't have to be a dream scientist to figure out what this meant. I am #1, feeling sick and #2, too busy to do anything about it. Oh, and my lips are really chapped.

On another note altogether, I want to introduce you to another adorable little cancer warrior. I know, I know. No more! you say. I understand, and also understand if you just stop reading right now. I myself have purposely NOT clicked on links to new kids for this very reason. I just can't take any more right now. But for me, this one is a little different. Bryce Frebowitz is the son of my friend Suzy's really good friend from High School. This isn't some child I don't know. Although I've never met Bryce personally, I've met his mom and have been following their story since the beginning. He was diagnosed last April, when he was 13 months old. He is doing GREAT and the family is even as we speak enjoying themselves in Disneyworld. If you feel up to it, check out his site. Just go here to visit Bryce. Most of the updates are written by his father, Micheal, who quit his job to take care of Bryce full time. For most of us who's husbands can't even find the hamper to throw their dirty socks into, reading thoughtful and meaningful posts written by a man is enough to keep you going back to hear more. There is even a benefit in Bryce's name happening on March 20th. This is happening in PA (where they live) so if you happen to live in the area, will be coincidentally visiting on that date, or just want to check it out, click here. All proceeds benefit CureSearch.

So although it is all too easy to forget the good things in your life, especially when you've got on those damn tight crankypants, lets remember to always be thankful for our kids being healthy, being here.

Monday, March 2

About Mommy

This is a cute idea I got from a Facebook post that I figured I would do, since we are home today enjoying our 548th snow day of the year. The idea is to ask your child questions about YOU and see what is going on inside those adorable little heads of theirs. I decided to ask Jack (age almost 7), since Abbey is currently in the tub. First I had to convince him to pause his gameboy long enough to give me his answers. This was of course no easy task.

1. What is something mom always says to you? No

2. What makes mom happy? Us not bothering you

3. What makes mom sad? When our house got destroyed (that was quite sad)

4. How does your mom make you laugh? Tickling me

5. What was your mom like as a child? Not as lucky as I am

6. How old is your mom? 57 (OMG!!!!)

7. How tall is your mom? About 6

8. What is her favorite thing to do? Watch General Hospital (which I hardly EVER get a chance to watch by the way!)

9. What does your mom do when you're not around? Go to work

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for? Living in Chicago

11. What is your mom really good at? Helping us

12. What is your mom not very good at? Flying a plane

13. What does your mom do for her job? Sit in an office

14. What is your mom's favorite food? Chicken

15. What makes you proud of your mom? When you do something cool

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be? Yogi Bear

17. What do you and your mom do together? Play

18. How are you and your mom the same? We both love each other

19. How are you and your mom different? You like to go on the computer and I like to watch t.v.

20. How do you know your mom loves you? Because before I go to bed you kiss me

21. Where is your mom's favorite place to go? Swanzey Lake

Well, there you go. Now that Abbey (age 4) is out of the tub I will ask her and see what she says. Hopefully she doesn't think I am in my fifties!

1. What is something mom always says to you? I love you

2. What makes mom happy? Going on your treadmill

3. What makes mom sad? When I take away your blankets

4. How does your mom make you laugh? You tickle me

5. What was your mom like as a child? You liked to play with your mommy

6. How old is your mom? 14 (that's my girl)

7. How tall is your mom? 12

8. What is her favorite thing to do? Play Barbies with me

9. What does your mom do when you're not around? Wash the dishes

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for? You would know all the questions I told you

11. What is your mom really good at? Drawing

12. What is your mom not very good at? Playing stuff

13. What does your mom do for her job? Draw stuff on paper and put it in a book

14. What is your mom's favorite food? Green pointy beans (I think she's talking about snap peas)

15. What makes you proud of your mom? I'm proud that you're really good at drawing

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be? A mama bear

17. What do you and your mom do together? Snuggle in bed

18. How are you and your mom the same? Our eyes are the same color

19. How are you and your mom different? Your ears are bigger than mine

20. How do you know your mom loves you? Because you just love me (very true)

21. Where is your mom's favorite place to go? Disneyworld

Well, I have to tell you, Abbey was way more thoughtful with her answers, and they were much more accurate, except about that whole drawing thing. I am a little worried that Jack answered "No" to question number 1, while Abbey answered "I love you." Hmmmm, are they living in the same house?