Wednesday, September 30

Storyland, Revisited

Some of you may remember that last year was our first annual trip to Storyland with all of my friends from college. If you feel so inclined you can read all about it here. Well, this last weekend was our second annual trip and the kids loved it just as much as last year, it held all the same magic. The Old Lady In The Shoe, The 3 Little Pigs, hanging out in the pumpkin and watching the dancing elf inside of the magic tree were just as exciting as before. The only downside's of the trip was that it was a 3 1/2 hour drive, and Dennis couldn't make it. My friend Pam and I rode together (due to a work issue she was also husband-less) so that helped. Dennis was sorely missed, but the weekend happened to coincide with his yearly boy's weekend at the trailer (much like my cousin/sister weekend of last). If I had asked he would have skipped it to ride in a whirling turtle and stand in line for 30 minutes to ride in an antique car, but I didn't ask him. After all, I have not 1 but 2 weekends a year away, so he does deserve his 1. All of my other friends were there and we banded together to keep an eye on all of the kids (13 in all!) and we had a great time. I must admit that 13 kids made for seriously not very controlled chaos, and damn! those kids get up E.A.R.L.Y. Sometimes on the weekends my kids will sleep until 9, which I realize is most unusual. But to start getting up at 5:57! 5:57 a.m.! Insanity! Jack said to me "what time is it?" and when I told him it was only about 6:15 in the morning he replied "These kids are crazy! What are they doing up at this hour?" Abbey simply grunted, dug deeper into her blanket and announced that we should all just go back to sleep. Sure, easier said than done. It sounded like a preschool downstairs by 6:30 a.m. and there was no more sleeping to be had (even though the adults had been up until 1 a.m. or so, ummm, talking). In all I ended the weekend exhausted, my face broken out from the foreign water, and fighting a nasty cold. But I wouldn't trade it for the world. Seeing everyone again is like traveling back 15 years in time, except now we look around and say to each other "where the hell did all these kids come from?"

Monday, September 21

Much Needed Me Time

This weekend I went away to the lake for my annual cousin/sister weekend (with me being the sole cousin to the 3 sisters). This year my aunt also drove up with a wonderful friend from Florida to surprise one of my cousin's who turns 40 today. (In reality she doesn't even look remotely near 40. She just did a triathlon and according to Craig, our sexy waiter at Margarita's, she looks 24. I think he was pushing it a little bit with that answer). So,

HAPPY BIRTHDAY KATHY - you don't look a day over 33!

Since my aunt was coming my mother was able to come up for a night too, turning it into the Annual Cousin/Sister/Aunt weekend. Anyhoo, we had a fabulous time getting manicures and pedicures, drinking and eating (and eating and eating and eating - must start diet!) and shopping. I found fabulously comfy gray pants from EMS at a consignment shop for $4 (yes! $4!) and I bought 4 pairs of shoes which pretty much doubled the amount of shoes I now have for winter wear. This weekend away from reality came at a perfect time, since I was still feeling sad after losing Max last week, and we were all worrying about my dear grandmother who took a bad fall and is in the hospital. She is doing good though, and on the mend. So away I went, and the kids were so happy to see me go, which is slightly disheartening. It's not that I want them to cry and scream and cling to my legs, but they don't need to be doing happy dances as I pull out of the driveway either. They LOVE having weekends just with Daddy. On Friday on the way to school I reminded Abbey that I was going away and she said "yay!" and I asked her why she was so happy about that. She answered "I can't tell you, it's a secret." To which I replied "is it that Daddy lets you eat lots of junk, doesn't make you brush your teeth and lets you stay up as late as you want?" to which she answered "awww, who told you?"

Wednesday, September 16

Goodbye Good Dog

12 years, 2 months and 2 days. That is how old our dog Max was when we put him to sleep yesterday. The average life span for a dog his size is 8 - 10 years, so I have to say that the old boy had a good long life. As a family we were prepared for this day, and knew that it would be coming sooner rather than later, but still, when it actually happened, it brought me to my knees. He has been fine, really. Getting older and slower of course, but still running around. I knew something was wrong this weekend when I realized that he didn't seem to be drinking his water very much, but he was still eating good, so I was only mildly concerned. Monday night he came downstairs to greet me and the kids and when he hit the dining room his back legs just seemed to go out. He yelped and cried and laid down, and couldn't move. Couldn't walk. We took him to the vet yesterday and she said he probably had a stroke, or it could be a tumor pushing on his spine. We made the decision that the time had come to put him down. I'm sure we could have tried some medicine or surgery, but come on, he's 12. We knew anything we did would give him only a few extra months, if that. We had told the kids the night before that although the vet would try to fix the dog that it might not be possible. Jack took some extra time saying goodbye to him before school, and when Abbey knelt down to say goodbye before heading off to Oma's she whispered "bye Max, good luck at the vet, I hope you don't have to get a shot to get dead." When we told them yesterday afternoon that he was gone they were upset, although Abbey was quite quick to ask when we were going to get a puppy to play fetch with (ummm, NEVER!). They visited the grave Dennis had dug in the backyard (yes, we buried him in the yard, my husband weeping while digging the hole, me weeping inside vacuuming up all the dog hair). We put flowers on it and then the kids seemed OK. Being older, Jack took it harder than Abbey. She wanted to know when it was time to go to dance class, he said he was very sad and really needed to have a snack and watch some TV. Surprisingly, they actually seemed more upset last year when the fish died (which if you forgot about can read about here). I think they might be in a little bit of shock, and as time wears on they may miss him more. Or maybe not.

I think that Dennis will take losing him the hardest, since Max was primarily "his" dog. When we married almost 10 years ago Max was already a 2 year old, having spent his nights sleeping next to Dennis in a big bed with his head on the adjoining pillow. In comes me and swiftly puts an end to that ridiculousness. So he was delegated to the end of the bed, and then kids came along and after a while he reluctantly gave up trying to get comfortable with so many in the bed and moved to the floor. I used to joke that once the kids were born I thought he needed doggie prozac, since at times he seemed depressed that he had to share his Dennis with us. But he learned to adjust, and I believe he had a good life with us. He actually was quite lucky. Once when he was about 4 or so we were at my parents house for some sort of get together and had brought him along. We put him in my brother's room on the second floor and shut the door, and after a little while someone came to the door. "Should I let Max in" they asked. "What?" we said. "Max isn't outside, he's in Matt's room upstairs." But sure enough, there was Max standing outside, tail wagging, tounge panting. When we went upstairs to check the door was still closed. Going inside we realized that the window (which was at the same level as the bed he was laying on) was opened. We think he probably saw a squirell in the tree outside and jumped. He must have come down through the tree branches to break his fall, because he was FINE. Not hurt at all. Later on my poor grandmother admitted that she saw the dog go by through the window, but thought that perhaps she was having some sort of hallucination and didn't want to tell anyone!

So goodbye good boy. We are going to miss you. 12 years, 2 months and 2 days. Quite a nice long life for a dog. Yes indeed.

Monday, September 14

All Things Are Not Created Equal

Everyone knows that you love your children equally, of course you do. You love them exactly the same amount, but that is not to say that you always "like" them the same amount. I believe that the "liking" part sort of ebbs and flows over time. Sometimes they are pretty cool, other times, your worst nightmare, and still other times they are somewhere in between. Lately Jack has been accusing me of "hating" him. It breaks my heart to write that, hate is such a strong emotion and a strong word and to think my child feels that I feel that way about him is profoundly sad and wrong. But then I have to snap out of it and put his definition of the word "hate" into context. He routinely tells me he hates me, hates his sister, hates his father. He also hates vegetables, hates getting up for school. He hates bedtime, hates when his toys break, hates when he is cold, hates when he is hot. Basically he is a very black and white kid. I've mentioned before, for Jack it is either "the best day of his life" or "the worst day of his life" and there seems to be no middle ground. I have been working on explaining to him that hate is not a good word to use, that I know he doesn't actually hate us, even when he says he does (although some vegetables, like say, peas, yup, he really, really hates them).

So why such does he have such feelings of being disliked by me? Well, to put it simply, his sister is just generally better behaved than him. I'm not sure if this is true for all girls, or if it's just my kids. For example (and this is just 1 example of which there are dozens just like it), last Wednesday night after soccer practice, I let them have about 20 minutes in the playground. I warned them both before and during and over and over again that if they did not leave when I said it was time they would lose t.v. and computer privileges for the rest of that night (which after practice and a shower boils down to about 30 minutes). Although he is getting better, slightly better, Jack still has a tendency of, how shall I put it, not handling activities ending well. When he was younger the end of a play date was treated as if his entire world was crashing down. I've had to drag him kicking and screaming out of friends houses, movie theaters, toy stores, libraries, and of course the biggest culprit of them all, playgrounds. But he's 7 now. It should be getting better, right? Well it's not! This particular night I had to drag him, yes readers, DRAG this not very tiny 7 year old by his arm through the stones on the ground all the way out of the gate. On the other hand, Abbey walked out on her own after I said it was time to go. So do you know what happened? Well, he lost privileges and his sister didn't. This resulted in the never ending accusations that I love Abbey more, while I hate him and am always yelling at him. How can I not YELL at him when he doesn't listen to me? Should I try the "whispering" technique when you lower your voice and your kids miraculously quiet down to hear you? Well I've tried that too and it doesn't work! And how can I not give his sister praise when she does listen to me? Believe you me, he gets plenty praise when he listens too, probably more praise than I give Abbey because I sense he needs it more, but that is not what he focuses on. Nope, all he sees is that he gets in trouble while Abbey does not. What to do readers? What to do?

I suppose it doesn't help that Abbey tends to flit around with an angelic smile on her face, being extra helpful and extra sweet and extra good after Jack gets in trouble. Just in case he didn't realize that she was behaving better than him, she has a serious need to rub his nose in it.

Sunday, September 13

Free Wheelin'

Not even 5 yet, and off she goes. Into the big world on her 2 wheels. My baby, I can't believe it. This girl amazes me on a daily basis.

Friday, September 11

To Remember

Has it really been 8 years? Sometimes it feels like hardly any time has gone by at all, at other times it feels like the tragedy of that day and the days that followed feel like something that happened a lifetime ago, to another me. The one that had no children yet, a full time job, a different house, a much stronger sense of safety in our world.

Friday, September 4

Ahhh, Routine

I love the Fall. I mean I love love love the Fall. The air starts to get crisp and smell great and sweaters are on the way and you can wear more layers without sweating your you know what off. Best of all, with the Fall comes routine, and if there is something I love almost as much as Fall, it is routine. Getting the kids to bed at the same time, getting up at the same time, going to school, to work, to soccer, to taekwondo. Not to mention that all the good shows will be coming back soon, which for me is awesome because I really don't like reality t.v. Sure, we are going to be busy. Today alone we had back to back activities, but it was followed up with some pizza from the pizza place and a Bud Light with Lime. Ahhh, lovely.

In other Fall news, Jack started the second grade on Tuesday. Second grade! I can't believe it. Only one more year and we go into the dreaded . . . gulp . . . MCAS testing years. And he's like an honest to goodness boy now. Not like before he was Pinocchio or anything, but today he's zipping around on his bike and fooling around with his friends at the park, barely acknowledging my existence. Abbey had her very first soccer practice and she was so excited. In her pink shinguard's with her little ponytail swinging, she was A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E. It was so great to watch her practice while Jack was biking around with his friends. Unlike when he practices and she pulls on my arms and jumps on my back like a monkey and begs to be taken to the playground. Oh well, I'm sure that soon enough neither of them will want to be anywhere near me when we go to the fields, so for now I should probably appreciate their attention.

My new second grader (check out his spikey hair)

The Queen of Soccer

Wednesday, September 2

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

Still hands down one of the best commercials for back to school.

Happy Back To School Everyone!