Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Code Orange

David is angry with me this morning. This is how I can tell:

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Divide and Conquer

My children are driving me crazy.

No, that's not right.

My children are driving me fucking crazy.

We've been keeping fairly busy, with soccer and swimming lessons and dance and friends and outings. It's just so hot. It seems to bring out the best in all of us. And Kate wants to be constantly entertained. And David wants to sit in front of the tv. And we are all home, so there's a constant mess that we are tripping over and stepping over.

Yesterday, I had had enough. David and Kate spent all morning fighting and bickering.

Mike decided that he wanted to go to Buffalo to see the Mets farm team play. I did not. So, we divided and conquered. The boys went to the game, the girls stayed home.

Kate and I ordered a pizza, watched So You Think You Can Dance, had our own dance party, watched Tom Jerry. And giggled, lots and lots of giggling.

Kate: Girls night is awesome.

And, it was.

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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Your songs remind me of swimming

Our summer so far has been a mixture of bangs and whimpers, the unexpected and the monotonous.

The first week was a bit of catch up - filing, cleaning.

That first Saturday, we had planned to go see the movie Brave, starting our summer off with a bang. Kate cried the whole morning, refusing to go. The boys finally decided to go by themselves.

As they were getting ready to go, Kate whispered: Okay, mommy. When they go, we are going to go too and meet them there.

Me: Um, what?
Kate: We are going to surprise the boys at the movie.
Me: Um, what?

We rushed around the house after they left and were able to meet them there.

David: What the?

That was unexpected. And a good surprise.

My brother, sister-in-law and niece were visiting last week from Washington (the state, not the capital). We spent some time with them in Albany with my mother and Long Island with my father. My brother Conor and his girlfriend Meredith joined us on Long Island. There's something so comforting about being around family. It had been the first time we had ALL been together in about 2 years. We swam almost every day. And barbecued. And laughed, harder than I've laughed in a long time.

This week feels like catch up again - cleaning and laundry, some napping and reading, soccer and swimming lessons.

We are all home together this summer, all summer. Some days work, some don't. The trick is finding a good balance between family time and alone time.

And, hopefully figuring that out before August.

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Sunday, June 24, 2012


Mike was having the kids pick up the basement. It's a disaster. And the two of us are a bit sick of tripping over all the kids toys.

Kate came up from the basement stomping her feet.

Kate: It's not fair. You're the boss, but daddy's acting like it. Tell him that I don't want to pick up.

Oh, the things Kate will say to get out of cleaning.

I have nightmares about what her teenage years will be like.

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Same point, different view

Our house is a cape, which simply means that the kids bedrooms are downstairs, ours is upstairs.

It's nice and not nice. It's nice having some kid free space, but I miss having us all on one floor.

Our first summer in the house, David was just a couple months old. And he would wake up so early in the mornings. We would get him from downstairs and sit him between the two in front of a window at the head of our bed. And he would sit there, content looking up at the trees, while we motivated ourselves to get out of bed.

This morning, David woke up really early. Well, early for me. I told him to get a bit more sleep. He came back about 15 minutes later and climbed into bed with me.

Me: Just 10 more minutes, okay David.
David: okay

He was laying and looking up through the window at the trees. It reminded me of that first summer.

I don't know that a picture would ever really do it justice. The quiet of the moment, the light reflecting off his eyes, the branches of the trees creating a shadow across his face.

But, it's those moments as a parent that you can always recall.

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Saturday, June 9, 2012

This door is always open

"Logic will get you from A to Z; Imagination will get you every where else." - Albert Einstein

I'm not sure if you know this or not. And, I fear I may be warning some of you too late.
To think of the danger (danger!) lurking in the most unexpected, surprising of places!

There are sharks that inhabit the river that separates the children's room from the rest of the library.

Now, thankfully, there is a bridge and stepping stones to help one cross. I have seen many an adult though forgo these safe routes and venture across the river.

Kate and I were at the library the other day and came to the crossing in question.

Kate: Mom! Wait! The sharks!
Me: Should I take the bridge?
Kate: No, I brought my magic wand. When I do this (waves wand around) it will make our shoes magic and we can walk across the water without the sharks getting us.
Me: I'm a little nervous. Are you sure I won't sink into the water?
Kate: Watch. (waves her wand and steps out onto the water). See?
Me: Thanks Kate.

And I was able to cross without incident.

And we were able to pick out some books from the children's room.

On the way out of the children's room we encountered a bit of trouble.

Kate: Oh-oh.
Me: What's up?
Kate: I lost my wand. I thought I put it here (pats her skirt). But it's not there. Maybe it fell out.
Me: Oh-oh.
Kate: Did you bring a wand?
Me: I forgot mine.
Kate: We can't cross.
Me: Let's take the bridge.

We took the bridge and sort of had to leap from the end onto the purple and green squares.
Sometimes the sharks know when you forget your wand and wait at the end of the bridge for you to fall in.

I'm glad Kate was with me to help me see the sharks and get me across.

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

How to know you are clean enough

We recently replaced our hot water heater.

I don't think I realized how far gone our hot water heater had been -- until I took a shower. A nice, long, hot wonderful shower.

I usually try to sneak one in before the kids wake up, but I'm not a morning person and my first thought is "coffee", not "uninterrupted shower". So, showers end up being quick so we can get wherever it is we are going.

So, last week, with our glorious new hot water heater, I was probably taking my time a bit. And both children were awake. The door was open, and I could hear their whispers and giggles.

David came in the bathroom first laughing.

And threw cold water on me in the shower.
(editors note: I may have taught them this trick.)

Kate followed soon after and did the same.

Both missed, and I play acted being cold and appalled.


That might have been a mistake.

What followed next was a steady barrage of cold water.

I decided I was clean enough.

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Friday, May 4, 2012

The days are just packed

One day last week ...

7:45 am -- wake up to David saying, "Mom. Can I play video games?" Me: "No. I need five more minutes David ... "
8:10 am -- actually get out of bed.
8:10 - 9:00 am -- wake up Kate, eat, get dressed, drink copious amounts of coffee, somehow manage to leave the house with everyone in clean clothes and underwear.
9:00 - 10:00 am -- dance at the Little Gym for Kate.
10:15 am -- David's friend comes over, nice visit with friends mom, more coffee.
10:45 am - 12:45 pm -- boys (and Kate) play outside, lunch on the deck, try to catch butterflies, light saber battles, couple innings of baseball.
12:45 - 1:15pm -- boys go to school , quick visit with Mike.
1:30 - 3:30 pm -- Kate and I have a lovely afternoon with a friend and her daughter, drink more coffee.
3:30 - 4:30 pm -- David comes home, quick pick up of the house, mistakenly sit on the couch and don't want to move for the remainder of the night.
4:30 - 5:30pm -- watch baseball game at the high school.
5:30 - 6:00 pm -- pick up pizza, then David at game, then home.
6:00 - 6:30 pm -- eat dinner, discuss the highlights of the day.
David: Why do the days go by so quickly?
6:30 pm - chat with mom, pour large glass of wine.
7:00 pm - ? -- watch Mets game, Kate falls asleep snuggled beside me, David rewinds and replays highlights of the game as we watch tv.
(he's snuggled beside me, helping me write -- he doesn't want you to know he's stinky, but I made the mistake of sitting on the couch again so a bath will have to wait until tomorrow).
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I love video games.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Curiosity killed the cat, you know

We've lived in our house for almost 6 years now. It is also the first house Mike and I have ever owned.

We aren't super handy when it comes to home repairs. And all those years ago when we were looking for our first home, we didn't want a house that needed a lot of time, money, effort, labor, work in general.

The house we bought seemed to fit that criteria.

Funny thing about that, though:

1. Our house is old. Not 1880s old, but 1950s old. And things wear a bit over time and need to be replaced, fixed, etc.

2. The previous owners fancied themselves handy. Like super handy. But, alas, they were not. Not at all.

The previous owners daydreams of handiness has proven to be troublesome. There's a lot about our house that seems weird or oddly constructed. Usually when we look into fixing the oddity, we uncover something the previous owners "fixed!" or "made!"

A lot of it we fix as we go along, like the super glued molding.

A lot we ignore for the time being, like the sink in the basement bar that's missing pipes to drain it (it currently drains to a bucket. Why they would put in a really nice bar with a sink that doesn't drain sort of baffles me).

Somethings have to be dealt with immediately, like replacing the 1950s cloth wiring that they ran on the basement floor to provide electricity to the finished part of the basement. It was smoking. And sparking.

So, this should come as no surprise:

This is our hall closet that I put shelves into this weekend. The closet and front door to our house are in sort of awkward positions. And the floor slopes funny by the closet. And the front door never really seemed finished.

There's a large piece of particle board that's been screwed into the wall. I decided to unscrew and see, just for giggles, what was behind it.

It was a large, gaping hole filled with insulation.


I didn't get all the screws out, but it was pretty obvious that is was a large, gaping hole filled with insulation.

We think it must have been a window at one point. And the closet was and door were probably added on at some point. Which would explain a lot about that part of the house.

We firmly secured the large piece of particle board back into place.

That's going to be mentally filed under things I'm going to ignore for the time being.

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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Elephants and Existentialism

I'm not very religious. Well, that's not true. When you tell people you aren't religious, like I am telling you now, the first conclusion is usually that I am godless. Which isn't exactly true either.

I was brought up Catholic. And, while I learned many important lessons, the Catholic church is very rigid, very black and white. I tend to think of religion more in shades of gray.

David and Kate have had very limited exposure to God and religion. They have a sort of general idea of God and that some people go to church.

Lately, David has started to become more sensitive to death. There's a cemetery in town that we pass on occasion and it usually brings forth some sort of conversation or question, or even tears.

A recent conversation we had:

David: Oh. Mom. It's a cemetery. There's dead people there.
Me: That's right David.
David: I don't want to die.
Me: Well, you won't until your very old. You know how grandma and grandpa go to church -- they believe that after you die you go to heaven and live with God. And some people believe you get reincarnated -- which means you get reborn and live again - as a person, or cow or elephant, or whatever. And, I'm sure other people believe other things happen after you die.
David: I totally want that one. I want to play video games forever. (laughing) Not as an elephant though.

One thing that I've tried to explain to David is that when someone dies, it is sad. And, we will miss them.
But, the memories we have of that person don't ever die and we can always keep them with us.

As the kids have gotten older, somethings have gotten easier and some harder. I am no longer changing diapers, I can trust them to play together reasonably well, but our conversations, the questions they have, have become more complex. Sometimes the questions they ask, I don't know how to answer. And I stumble through the response. And wonder how I could have answered it differently. Because I know the answers I give them will effect how they view the world.

So, I try to keep an open mind.

And hope David and Kate learn to keep an open mind.

Because there is a lot of gray out there.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A very serious conversation about monsters

While listening to Pandora radio during dinner, a reoccurring ad for ADT home security comes on.

David: Kate, did you ...
Kate: Shhh.

Kate: Mom, I think we need to get ADT. I think that would keep the monsters out of David's room.

David: (nodding) Thats a good idea Kate. They are starting to get annoying.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Kate: Mom! Do you know what happens when batteries die? Theres these people. Little people. Really very little people who live in the batteries. And do stuff. Like work. And they turn these things like big wheels with their arms. Like this.

Me: Like a crank?

Kate: Yes! A crank. And sometimes they get tired. And then the batteries die.

Me: Oh. So, these batteries must be tired. Let's put them to bed.

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Monday, March 26, 2012

What rhymes with inappropriate?

It recently came to our attention that Kate couldn't rhyme.

Sitting at the table, often to keep David and Kate at the table with us while we are eating, we play alphabet games, letter games, rhyming games, etc.

One night while eating and rhyming:

Me: Kate, what rhymes with car?
Kate: Cat!
Me: No, what rhymes with car?
Kate: Um, dog!

Silence filled with David giggling. So, really not silent at all.

Me: Huh. Kate doesn't know how to rhyme.

We spent the remainder of the evening practicing. Sometimes it seemed like she understood, other times she didn't.

And then I did something that has forever changed rhyming in our house.

Me: Kate, what rhymes with moop.
David: Poop!
(Lots of giggling)
Me: What rhymes with me?
David and Kate: Pee!
David: What rhymes with wenis??
Kate: Penis!

Bagina, moobies, and (my personal favorite) put your winger in your what, have become some our favorite rhyming words.

And, Kate has become an excellent rhymer.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Some things I've learned about 5am

1. It's dark. And cold. And dark. And cold.

2. No amount of caffeine can give 5 am any sort of rose colored tint. It's fucking 5 am.

3. David and Kate are chipper, excited, happy, ready and willing participants in all that 5 am has to offer.

I'm not sure that they are my children.

And, it might be a long day.

(the freaking sunrise)

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Things you don't want your car to say to you

So, I have a new car.

We've been working on our relationship.
He automatically locks the doors for me - a bit annoying, but we are working through it. I probably shut the doors a bit harder than needed. He'll have to deal.

Yesterday was our first real time driving in the snow together.

It wasn't the best experience for either of us.
A couple of turns that I sort of slid into, a couple of weird shimmies.

I noticed as I was sliding out of my driveway, that an "ESC" light pops up on my dashboard.

Um, what? Escape? Is that what "ESC" stands for?

Is the escape warning meant for me or my car?

Is it a command for my safety? An, "oh darling, please vacate the vehicle immediately for I fear I am unable to make this turn without sliding."

Or is it more of a plea for his own? "Escape! Escape! Please, please park me back in the garage where it is warm and safe."

Either way, my car is a wuss.

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Logical Conclusions

The boot on the left is one I bought for David for next year, the one on the right is mine.

They are the same size. I actually wore David's boots outside while shoveling the driveway today.

Two logical conclusions can be drawn from this surprising and unexpected phenomenon:

1. My son has freakishly large feet. Or maybe mine are freakishly small.

2. I am the size of a 6 year old boy.

I'm not really fond of either conclusion.

(but will probably buy myself a pair of the boots like David's anyway)

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Some unexpected wisdom from Elton John

Today is Kate's birthday.

I told her that we could do whatever she wanted today.

During breakfast she made her first proclamation:

Kids are in charge today

The conversation went something like this:
(David wanted to get up from the table, I wanted him to sit)

Kate: It's okay David. You can get up. I've decided that kids are in charge today because it's my birthday.
David: Hey! Yeah! You guys can't say "it's time to clean up now" today.
Kate: And, you two have to do all the cleaning.
David: Even the dishes.
Kate: Because we are in charge.
David: And, I'm going to play video games all day.

And so on.

Lots of whispering and giggling followed.

I've been reminded quite a few times already.

Kate: Remember mom. Kids are in charge today.

I think she likes being charge.

My dad tells me on my birthday every year how he remembers the day I was born like it was yesterday.

Seems hard to believe that Kate is already 4. We like to tease her that she started screaming before she was even really delivered. And then didn't really stop for a year or so.

My dad also tells me how my brothers and I are the best things he's done with his life.

Kate was pretty unexpected.
A world without Kate seems like a pretty sad place though.

I hope you don't mind
(I hope you don't mind)
That I put down in words
How wonderful life is while you're in the world
- actual wisdom from Elton John, Elton John - your song

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day

I had mentally decided this year that I wanted to try blogging every day. I try not to call these mental decisions that happen around the first of the new year resolutions - that's just too much pressure. And they just end up broken. Mental decisions is better.

I think every day for me is just overkill though.
I mean, one day talking about how I want to blog every day, but then there's still 364 entries left.

So, you would probably end up with this:

January 10, 2012: Pizza for dinner tonight.
January 11, 2012: Tired from a long day.
January 12, 2012: Stayed in our pajamas all day today.
January 13, 2012: Pizza again for dinner tonight.

Not really exciting.

The truth is that most of our days are spent going through the motions.

Today, Kate had dance in the morning. The library and a quick trip to the YMCA followed. The kids have been bickering all day. At one point, I politely explained that in no way, shape or form was I going to listen to the two of them fight all day. Kate burst into tears and said, "But mom, David has been mad to me all year."

Some days I long for *something* ...

But, all too soon David and Kate will be in school all day and I'll be left wondering where the time went.

So, that's life. At least for now anyways. Slightly dull, but always full.
And more often then not, pizza for dinner.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

A mothers art

Yesterday in the car on the way home from the grocery store:

Kate: mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy ....

.... and so on.

She didn't need anything. She was just saying mommy over and over and over again, in a sing-songy voice.

About half way home, I started laughing because I had finally tuned her back in and realized what she was doing -- which just made her sign it louder.

My brain occasionally goes on autopilot for a couple minutes. It just needs a couple minutes to process the day or get caught up, without the constant chatter and background noise from the kids.

But, then it's back.

... And listening to an encore rendition of "mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy."

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Shadow of a Thought

There's this great scene in American Gods, by Neil Gaiman, when the mysterious Mr. Wednesday asks Shadow for a snow storm to distract everyone while he robs a bank (or something like that -- it's been a bit since I've read the book). And Shadow creates a storm, just by thinking it.

I think might have done something like that.

This fall was hard for me.

Lots of changes and me scrambling to keep up and keep it all together.

I remember thinking that I just couldn't handle another winter like last winter -- gray, cold, white.

And so, I think I willed winter away this year.

The sun was shining today and melted most of the snow from this weekend. I didn't even wear a coat. It felt good. I feel good.

And, I just needed this. Not just today, but the past couple months. The snow feels suffocating at times. It becomes a chore to leave the house -- the hats and gloves and boots, brushing off my car, the cold that seeps into your bones. Even if it snows every day for the rest of winter, there's really only a month or so left.

So, the inevitable conclusion is that I am a god. Or at least god-like.

(don't worry, we can still be friends)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

a day in the life

Woke up, fell out of bed,
Dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup,
And looking up I noticed I was late
Found my coat and grabbed my hat ...

Except, where are your hats?
And gloves?
What do you mean you can't find your coat?
And shoes.

We have this weird room in our house next to the garage. We tried using it as an office, then a library, but it really works best as a mud room.

As you can see, the kids have their own coat hooks. And their own shoe rack. And we use the white bins for gloves and hats and scarves.

So organized.

In theory.

In practice, we spend an inconceivable amount of time looking for hats. and gloves. and shoes. and coats.

It is a bit frustrating.

And then once we find them, getting them actually put on is another chore.

Kate get your shoes on.
Kate why aren't your shoes on.
Kaaaatttteeeee. Shhhooooeeesss. Nnnnnooooowwww. Pppplllllease.
(that's meant to be sing-songy)

It's a wonder we ever leave the house.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The tale of reading

Being the story of two children, a book and bedtime

Before David could even really talk, he loved books.
We would put him down for a nap and he would say "more"
And we would stack his books up all around him
And he would look through them, carefully turning each page before finally falling asleep.

Kate hasn't always loved books as much as David, but lately I find her in her room "reading" through her princess books.

Sometimes at bedtime we read all together, sometimes Kate gets books read and then David does.

We have our favorites we read together and have gone through the natural progression of reading - board books, picture books, beginning readers.

This past fall we (and by we I mean I) decided to try some chapter books.

It's been hit or miss. The book has to catch their attention from the start since there aren't pictures to look at and keep them interested. Roald Dahl has worked fairly well. We've read The Fantastic Mr. Fox, George's Marvelous Medicine, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But, even with those Kate would be playing while listening, David would be banging his feet on the wall.

We've tried a bunch after we finished Charlie and just haven't had any luck.

We randomly picked up Bink and Gollie by Kate DiCamillo one day from the library. We all loved it. It's about 2 friends, Bink and Gollie, who are very different but still great friends. It was smart and funny.

So, I decided to try The Tale of Desperaux, also by Kate DiCamillo.
I had read it before and loved it, but wasn't quite sure what the kids would think.

Kate was concerned at first there weren't enough pictures. David didn't want to hear a story about a mouse.

I convinced them to just try it, and if they didn't like it we could stop.

So, I started reading.

And the two of them were mesmerized.

Last night we read how Desperaux, the mouse, fell in love with Pea, the human Princess.

David: (in a skeptical tone) What? He can't do that.
Kate: (giggling) A mouse and a princess?

The story continued:
"Reader, you may ask this question; in fact, you must ask this question: Is it ridiculous for a very small, sickly, big eared mouse to fall in love with a beautiful human princess named Pea.?"

They were both so still and so quiet, as we snuggled under the covers in Kate's bed, listening to the story to see what would happen.

I have no real point to this story, other than that I love moments like those, when the world seems to come together.

At least for a few, quiet minutes.

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