Monday, March 29, 2010

I Know They Call it Sin City, But it Felt Like Heaven to Me

Leaving three different hometowns, five wonderfully supportive husbands, and one dozen darling children behind, my sisters and mom and I met for a weekend in Vegas. It was sublime.

Why so celestial?

Well. It could've been the supernal suite, the glorious weather, the heavenly food or the supreme shopping. Could've been the bubble baths or dressing up for dinner or sleeping in. Could've been the sensational sights or the masseuse with the fingers of gold.

Could've been any of those things. But it wasn't.

The truth is, any place with these four is heaven on earth to me.

Thanks for a great trip, girls! You are truly my angels.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

An Open Letter to My Sisters

Dear Nim, Heed, Min & Mom,

Right now the entire contents of my kitchen and laundry room are stacked precariously in the dining room. There is a dumpster in my driveway and a jackhammer blasting away somewhere downstairs. I have a major case of early-morning-fatigue-syndrome. My husband's out of town, yet my kids still want dinner every night and clean clothes every morning.

I have a purple bathroom and an unfortunate new haircut.

Suffice it to say, the thought that I will soon be boarding a plane and sitting poolside with you is serving as my own personal drug-free mood stabilizer. I cannot wait.

Don't forget to bring: photos of your kids, your latest book recommendations, cast-off jewelry you think I will like, some really cheesy chick flix, self-tanner, nail polish and a big old Ziploc of Muddy Buddies.

Topics for group discussion: millennial mothering, spring fashion trends, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, improving spirituality, technology-pros, cons & how-to's, what to do with a purple bathroom & bad haircut.

Love you girls! See ya'll in 48 hours.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Never Mind

Hmmm...I'm having second thoughts about this whole moving thing...

First, all of our friends are being so nice and saying stuff that makes me cry.

Second, our house looks totally amazing now. Check out the beautiful new countertops! I love them.

And the kids' new-and-improved bathroom....

(By the way, please settle a little marital dispute...does this wall look purple or periwinkle to you? All I know is, it's NOT the sky blue I envisioned. Paint chips can be deceptive. Whatever.)

Third reason I am having second thoughts: spring.

Sure, moving sounds great during February blizzard season.

But now it's officially my favorite season. This weekend did not disappoint. Blue skies, sunshine, green, green, green.

Today we picnicked by the stream in our backyard. Heaven.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tuckered Out

This is how we've all been feeling around here.

Between the home improvement craziness, a quick-hitting stomach bug (Do I look skinnier yet?), the crazy Nor'easter storm and that ridiculous springing forward nonsense, everybody's been dragging a bit. Especially me.

Luke loves all the construction workers hanging around our place. He follows them constantly, hoping to impress them with his toys and acrobatic skills. Yesterday, he flashed a prized dollar bill at one of the guys who promptly asked, "D'you work for that money?"

Luke got all shy, but I wanted to pipe in from the other room, "Of course, he earned it. We're trying to raise hard workers around here." I was anxious that he not think my kids lazy or entitled or spoiled.

The truth is, the guy was right, of course. Anything kids work for or wait for means more to them. Same with me.

And that's why, tonight, when the sun streamed into the backyard and the kids were all bouncing and laughing and nobody needed a jacket or shoes and Brad was grilling burgers with Monterey Jack and nobody was throwing up, I just sat back with a smile.

And enjoyed the sunset.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Age Appropriate Reading

Whether it's the rash case of eye-rolling, distinct wardrobe preferences or the fact that entire bags of Doritos are disappearing at alarming rates around our house, I can tell I've got a tween on my hands.

Part of me is absolutely thrilled that Jake is right on schedule with his new 'tude. (Any development is good development, right?) The rest of me, however, is terrified at the thought of any hormones (aside from my own, of course) running amok in our household.

So, I've been doing some research. That's what I call it when I am stretched out on my bed with a parenting book. Mom Research is a vital part of my job. And so what if I do it in my pj's with a couple of Mint Milanos nearby?

Here's what I've been reading:

A friend recommended this book to me years ago and I've read it several times. Each time I read with a whole new set of eyes and experiences and I devour each and every page. Dr. Latham perfectly combines scientific research with scriptural examples. He is completely positive and totally realistic.
Another friend recommended this one and I've loved it. Rosemond is no-nonsense, old-fashioned and empowering. His take: Teenagers probably won't like you sometimes. But did you like your parents when you were a teen? It makes me feel better.

Got teens? Grab these books, put on your pj's and start your research.

And don't forget the Mint Milanos!

Friday, March 12, 2010

I'm Making Plans and I Need Your Help

Although we're still in the throes of home improvement (Oh, the joys of sharing a bathroom with four children!) and weeks away from listing our house, Brad is visiting our soon-to-be-hometown this weekend and is going to start making the rounds with a realtor.

We've been surfing the net and looking at homes for sale. It's heady stuff. Pebbled swimming pools, custom media rooms, five-car garages, backyard putting greens. Everything looks so shiny and new. Of course, our eyes are bigger than our checkbook, but, still, it's fun to dream.

Over the years we've lived in nine different places. Basement apartments, third floor apartments, rentals, new construction, orange carpet, blue showers, crazy neighbors and amazing friends.

Each home has taught me something and I find that, this go-round, I have refined my priorities in home selection.

For example, front entrance versus back entrance. The first thing I fell for in our current house was the beautiful two-story entry with sweeping circular staircase and hardwood floors. Gorgeous. Somehow I pictured myself wearing evening gowns and making a lot of dramatic entrances.

Well. Reality is this: spectacular staircase+forty pound basket of dirty laundry=dramatic language not dramatic entrances. And, as beautiful as the front hall is, I NEVER WALK IN THE FRONT DOOR.

I wish I had paid a little more attention to the back door and the potential tight squeeze of carrying groceries/kids/drycleaning through a mightytight garage and mudroom space.

These days I am much more interested in the size of the laundry room sink than the size of the master bathroom Jacuzzi. We all know where moms really spend their soaking time, am I right?

So, this is where I need your help. What suggestions do you have? I am interested to hear what you all love about your houses, hate about your houses or wish you had known sooner. Do you love the central vac system? Wish you had more storage? Have a favorite home convenience that has dramatically improved your quality of life? Do tell.

I'll forward the list to Brad and he can pick a dream house for all of us.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Trendy? Who, Me?

Apparently, the latest trend is to have a kid with Aspergers Syndrome. It's hip. It's now. It's the millennial thing to do.

Is it just because I'm living in Aspergerland myself or is it really popping up everywhere as the disorder du jour?

Last night, I watched five minutes of Parenthood with Brad. The episode got our attention because it featured some parents with an Asperger child. Of course, they were stereotypically uptight and overeducated, with a card catalog of specialists and a whole bunch of psychoterms thrown into the conversation. Their kid was out of control and very very weird. It was funny and it wasn't.

Ninety-five percent of me was thinking, This is entertainment? Why should I watch this? I live this. But another little part of myself could not look away. It was like looking into a funhouse mirror. Wow. Is THAT what we look like? Is that what the rest of the world sees?

This is the book I'm into right now. The story of Jacob, a boy with Aspergers who is on trial for murder. I would've bought it even if I didn't have such a personal interest. I think Jodi Picoult is fun to read.

Although I'm not far into House Rules, I'm enjoying it. Picoult serves up her usual cast of characters--the overwhelmed and self-sacrificing mother, the resentful sibling and the big-hearted cop. I can identify with all the characters, which is the great thing about Picoult's writing. And maybe it's therapeutic to read something far-fetched with a heaping dose of my reality stirred in.

I've said it before. My feelings about media + autism are mixed. While I'm grateful for greater exposure and understanding, I'm also worried about stereotyping. And I don't want to look as if I'm just a trend-follower, grabbing at the latest excuse for poor parenting.

Anyway, I can't help it. Whether it's going through in vitro, having twins, or adopting, my millenial parenting experences aren't novel, they are the norm these days. And I guess I'm in good company.

But thinking about the whole thing makes me want to do something completely untrendy and nonmillennial.

You know, like blog...

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Latest Word

The latest word for Sam is "soulful." Usually my happy-go-lucky nonstop talker, Sam was uncharacteristically quiet and reflective this weekend thanks, in part, to a nasty flu bug. We know Sammy is sick when he turns down food. I am grateful to report that he has recovered fully and is currently eating a string cheese.

Jake's latest word is "accomplished." Not only a great ice-skater and skiier, Jake earned his Arrow of Light at Scouts last week and started DARE at school. I've been told this will keep him off drugs. Jake is taller than me when he wears skates.

Em's "reflective." These days she has taken to writing free verse in her journal. Also, she is working on a piano composition. It is entitled Despair and she works on it daily. (This is 100% fact. Anyone with three brothers knows despair on a deeply personal level. )

Luke ="diverse." When he's not building blanket forts, riding his scooter or playing with his beloved stuffed cat, Rainbow, Luke is on the lookout for money-making opportunities. Today he gathered up his sister's old Barbies and Little Ponies ("She never plays with them anymore, Mom!") and took them to the park to sell. His strategy was simple: approach unsuspecting girls and ask them if they have any money. Luke's net gain was $0, but his technique was priceless.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Construction Zone

I'm finally getting the home I always wanted.

Just in time to sell.


New kitchen floor, beautiful new bathroom for the kids, freshly painted walls in every room. That water stain on the ceiling? Gone. The basement shelves I'd given up on? Straight and sturdy.

It is exciting and annoying all at the same time.

There are at least eight strange men wandering through my house today. Moving things around. Switching things off and on. Making a lot of noise.

Come to think of it, they're not a whole lot different from my children. Just way more expensive.

I've always thought of this house as a grande dame. Once a great beauty, she still has excellent bone structure, but there has been some sagging and drooping over the years. The genteel shabbiness has been part of her charm.

But this week she's getting the face-lift she deserves. We're still in the messy and painful stage. I'm excited for the bandages to come off.

My only question, if she's the one having the work done, why am I feeling so sore and tired?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Male Bonding

Sam + Luke in 30 years?!

Just over twenty years ago, I was babysitting my little cousins for a week. I had a supercute new boyfriend who came over to play with the kids (a little) and watch sports on the big screen (a lot). There may or may not have been some lip action. My mom was very interested in this whole situation, of course, and sent my younger brother over to "bring us some donuts."

Mom's carefully crafted espionage may have thrown a wrench in the romance (as if five kids weren't chaperone enough!), but it was the start of a beautiful friendship. Brad and Josh shook hands manfully, grabbed a couple of chocolate-glazed, plopped down in front of ESPN and started a conversation that hasn't stopped since.

Sports, church, business, family, travel, politics, you name it. These guys talk and talk and talk. They solve the world's problems one free-throw at a time, with me watching, amused, on the sidelines. They see eye to eye and, yet somehow, they still look up to each other.

Together, their job is keeping me humble. Not hard to do. Especially when, like last night, I amble into their late-night bull session feeling the effects of my night-time cold remedy, wild-haired and ranting.

It's ok. They've both seen me looking (and acting) worse.

Josh came with an adorable, lanky sidekick for a weekend visit. There was bowling, building, eating, scary movie-making, scary-movie watching, sledding, Olympic-viewing, and, of course, lots of talking.

At the end of the weekend, it was hard to know who'd had a better time. The men. The boys. Or me, watching, amused, on the sidelines.

Love you, Chase! And, yes, you too, Uncle Bosh!

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