Thursday, February 25, 2010

Living Inside a Snowglobe

This is what it looks like outside my house right now...

And this is what it looks like inside my house right now...

We are living in a snowglobe. A noisy, messy, too-many-snow-cancelled-school-days kind of snowglobe. All shook up.
(By the way, those aren't snowflakes. They are patch marks. Brad started his fix-it-up kick and left polka dots all over the house. Then he left town. The effect of so many polka dots on the mocha family room walls is unsettling. My feng shui is definitely off.)

Yesterday, talking to Emmie via cell phone about the upcoming storm, my mom wondered how our little family would survive. She knew Brad was gone and asked Emily what we would do if we lost power or some other emergency.
Em's answer was matter-of-fact. "Well, we DO have Jake."
And it is remarkable how safe an eleven year old boy can make me feel. Jake built, lit and tended this fire all afternoon. He is quite manly is his woodpile duties and very strict if Sam and Luke get too close to the flame.

Emily and her best friend spent the afternoon building an obstacle course in the basement. It involved every single toy we own and a lot of yelling "not to come down yet!"

For some reason, clean-up isn't nearly as exciting.

Before leaving town, Brad made a SnowDad on the back patio so I wouldn't miss him so much. I enjoy looking at SnowDad through the kitchen window.

But, I think, if we lose power tonight, I just might go knock him over.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Letting the Cat Out

The first, last and only time a kitty picture will ever be featured.

We are moving.

Not just across town. We are moving across the country, people. Trading Northeast for Southwest. Snow boots for flip flops. Longjohns for SPF. Green for brown. Wet for dry. You get the idea.

Because, for the past six months, we've been asking ourselves the following:
  • If Brad's new job can be done any place with a major airport and high speed internet, then why are we living hundreds of miles away from our closest relatives?
  • Do we love our current house enough to sink a boatload of cash into bathroom and kitchen remodeling? Or do we just want to start over with a newer house? In a place with lower taxes?
  • When exactly is the least-pyschologically-damaging window for uprooting children? Before, during or after middle school?
  • Can we just count moving cross-country as our joint midlife crisis and get it over with?

After letting the answers simmer for awhile, and giving the whole thing a lot of thought and prayer, we feel like we're doing the right thing. Gulp.

So, that is the February excitement around here.

Please, feel free to share your advice and opinions.

I would particularly appreciate suggestions regarding:

  • Blitzkrieg cleaning strategies.
  • Staging a home to sell quickly.
  • Keeping a house "realtor ready" with four active children.
  • And a traveling husband.
  • Without abusing refined carbohydrates.


  • Finding the best homes/schools/neighborhoods.
  • Helping kids cope with a cross-country move.
  • Living in the same town as the in-laws. (Just kiddin', Nana!)
  • Making new friends at age 39.
  • Camouflaging figure flaws in 110-degree heat.

And, please. Don't ask how I am going to survive without cheesesteaks, water ice, historic charm, spring blossoms, fall foliage, trainrides into New York, day trips to the beach, and thirteen years' worth of the absolute best friends a girl could ask for. I can't go there.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Truly Amazing

I love that the twinks are learning to read.

Years ago, when I was a reading teacher, I worked with kids who struggled. I went to all kinds of training conferences and read loads of books on the subject and came away feeling truly amazed that anyone, anywhere EVER learned to read.

Phonemic awareness, one-to-one matching, concepts of print. So much had to be in place before the average kindergartener or first-grader could even begin to decode Cat in the Hat or Mrs. Wishy-Washy.

Of course, this was during my baby hungry years. So when I wasn't studying up on Reading Recovery strategies, I was poring over Conception and You and Getting Pregnant Naturally. I learned words like motility, injectables and basal body temperature. I came away feeling truly amazed that anyone, anywhere EVER had a baby.

Babies are a miracle. Reading is too. Having four kids who can find meaning from letters on a page is a wonder I do not take for granted.

I told Brad long before our kids came along that I was confident I could teach all of our kids to read before they started kindergarten. I had lots of experience and tricks up my sleeve.

Of course, that was before potty-training destroyed my self-esteem.

So, I got smart. I let the teachers do the teaching and I do the fun stuff. Trips to the library and bedtime stories and reading Wizard of Oz one chapter at a time. It's a whole lot better that way.

Anyway. I love my kids. I love to read. I love having kids who love to read. It may not seem like a huge accomplishment to anyone else. But, for me, it's truly amazing.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I Know Why It's Called Fat Tuesday

Things I do not want to eat when it's cold, snowy and my kids have been home from school for six days:
cottage cheese
high fiber cereal
hard boiled eggs
rice cakes
baked chicken breasts with a squeeze of lemon over a bed of salad greens
Things I want to eat when it's cold, snowy and my kids have been home from school for six days:
Mountains of spaghetti with homemade sauce, accompanied by garlic bread that's crusty outside and bleeds butter when you bite into it.
Chocolate pudding. The kind you cook on the stove and top with real whipped cream.
Beef stew and my mother-in-law's buttermilk cornbread -so sweet it could be birthday cake- slathered with satiny honey butter.
Giant bowls of spicy taco soup topped with an inch of melted cheese and a hearty dollop of full-fat sour cream. A generous fistful of cornchips crumbled on top.
Basically anything warm, creamy or dripping with butter.
Thank heavens for baggy sweaters and puffy vests.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Few Parenting Truths I've Discovered This Week

  1. The best way to get kids to play with something is tell them to clean it up.
  2. If you only serve whole wheat bread and then buy Wonder White in a moment of nutritional weakness, your kids will eat it by the glorious fistful and think you are the best thing since...well, sliced bread.
  3. The best way to get kids to listen to something is whisper it to your husband.
  4. Gambit is a much more enjoyable than Candyland.
  5. Black Sharpie pens have magical power. They can draw on dining room walls. All by themselves.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

You Are...

an island of pink in my sea of blue

Scout + Ramona + Harriet the Spy

not afraid of boys


beautiful, but completely oblivious to the fact

going to be a very popular babysitter someday


the original Ms. Independence

confident, capable and competitive

sort of messy, in a creative way


the best valentine I ever got


Happy Birthday, Squeege! I love you.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

So Much Snow

"It snowed last night! It snowed last night! The angels had a pillow fight!"

Last night was just enough of a winter adventure to make us feel like real pioneers. We were without heat and power for almost 20 hours. Brad, truly, was in his element. Pa Ingalls, Bear Grylls and Jeff Probst all rolled together. He had the fire burning, the sidewalks cleared and spareribs sizzlin' in no time. I love that guy.
I had one Marmee moment warming the kids' winter clothes by the fire. I can see why there were so many references to hearth and home back then. We were hearthside a lot today. Dangerous.

My Lands' End investments paid off. I love when shopping works.

Real men aren't afraid of pink, sparkly accessories.

Even homework looks better by candlelight!

"Alone, snowflakes are weak and delicate...but look what they can do when they just stick together."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Power out for the past three hours. Candlelight dinner cooked on BBQ grill.Reading Jodi picoult by the fire. Two or more feet of fresh snow outside. Kids played flashlight tag until they dropped. Brad is taking a shower with the last of the hot water. I am doing my first ever post via thumbs are too chubby I think. All night long we've had texts from friends offering all kinds of help. But,supposedly, the power guys Are getting "right on it"...we'll see.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

New Shoes, Clean Teeth and a Tiger Named Bwad

Bwad is the newest member of our family. Named after our venerable patriarch, but with kindergarten pronunciation, Bwad sleeps in a Kleenex box and likes being stroked between the ears. He is my kind of pet and we've taken him everywhere today.

Even with a stuffed tiger tagalong, my day has been productive. I took the twinks shoe shopping and to the dentist. Both activities make me feel like a responsible parent. The Stride Rite man congratulated me on my strapping boys and the dentist (for once!) pronounced everyone cavity-free.

I headed back to the store for Snowmageddon Part II. This one's supposed to be a doozy. I loaded up on all the essentials. This time, I got wise, and bought the disposable hot chocolate cups WITH LIDS. I'm hoping this will drastically improve something. Snow days are a whole lotta fun, but can wreak havoc upon my clean kitchen.

Bracing for this second storm (we're supposed to get 12-20 inches!) reminds me of the day before surgery. I've done everything I can do get ready, I'm hoping for the best and prepared for the worst. We won't know til it's over, I guess.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


48 hours and 12 inches later, we are warm, safe and happy. We never lost power or heat. We didn't even run out of milk, toilet paper or Doritos. The kids' cheeks are pink and the fireplace is crackling. Three cheers for Mother Nature.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Hunkering Down

photo by captpiper

In case you haven't heard, there is supposed to be a massive blizzard on the East Coast. I hope you are ready.
There is no milk at the grocery store. There are no parking spots at Target. The weatherpeople on TV are giddy. It cracks me up.
Having grown up in a location where there was always lots of snow but never any national news coverage, I just think people get a little hyper about precipitation around here.
But it is kinda fun. Between the snowmania and the Superbowl, everyone has been rushing around for the past two days and it's all like we're getting ready for one big party together.
Personally, I cannot wait for my snow day tomorrow. Basketball, Pet Pals and all other extra-curriculars have been cancelled. Snacks have been purchased. Library books are piled near the fireplace. A fresh stack of dvd's wait expectantly.
I am envisioning myself sleeping til noon, reading peacefully by the fire and, perhaps, watching a romantic costume drama. Then taking a nap.
Reality will more likely involve muddy bootprints, spilled hot chocolate and two hundred of those teeny plastic Battleship pegs dotting my family room floor. Still, I'm trying to keep my dream alive.
What are you doing this weekend?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Overheard in the Kindergarten Classroom

Gap-toothed little boy, showing me a crayon rendering of his family home, "This is my room, this is the baby's room, this is my mom's room."

Then, pointing below the green spiky grass, "And this is my dad's room. He has his own room in the basement. It has a brown rug."


Me, helping a little cutie shop for valentines at the school store, "Ok. You have one for your mom, one for your dad and one for your aunt. Now, your list says you need to buy one more. For your grandpa."

Li'l Cutie: "I don't think he wants a valentine. He's dead."


Precocious kid wearing Star Wars tee, "My mom used to have a job. Now she is retired. She doesn't do anything."

Pink-Headband Girl sitting across table, "Yeah. My mom doesn't do anything either. Except go shopping."


Scary food for thought: What do the twins say when I'm not there?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The More Things Change

Two and half years ago, I posted the following entry entitled, "You Might Be Raising Boys If..."
(Weren't they teeny?!)

You might be raising boys if...

  1. You own a remote control tarantula.
  2. You sort your laundry into the following categories:
    denim, khaki, camouflage and Spiderman.
  3. Your blue bathroom always smells a little funky.
  4. You know the exquisite agony of stepping on Star Wars Legos with your bare feet.
  5. You go through a jumbo jar of peanut butter and four gallons of milk every week.
  6. You can tell the difference between Percy, Thomas and James.
  7. Flatulence is the highest form of humor in your home.
  8. You are voluntarily going to spend 5 days at Cub Scout Day Camp.
Today I have to add:
You might be raising boys if...
you have a rubber snake in your powder room, mud in your laundry room, Froot Loops in your pantry and BB's in your vacuum cleaner bag.
God bless little boys and the mothers who keep 'em.
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