Friday, April 30, 2010

theme-y dinners

I know I am a stay-at-home Mom and all, but the other night we were seriously hurting for dinner.  It was just me and the girls because Alex was working and little Alex had a late soccer game, so I really had nothing planned, and nothing all that exciting in the cupboards.  If it were just me, I'd have had a bowl of cereal and called it a night.


After a quick assessment of what we had kicking around, I decided to tell the girls we were going to do an "N" themed dinner night, just for fun.  We rounded up some nuggets, noodles and "nanners."  We had Neapolitan ice-cream for dessert, but had to get a little creative for drinks -- Megan came up with "New juice boxes," which worked fine enough.  Megan and Brooke made up menus while I was whipping up the feast, so that kept them busy and happy. 



They were so excited with the theme-y dinner night, you would have thought I was taking them to Chuck E. Cheese or something.  They chattered away about what other themes we could have in the future, deciding the next theme would be red.


I love when simple things make my kids happy.  I especially love when they remind me that we don't need to go nuts to have fun.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

mlk

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."  MLK Jr.

I do so love this quote.


If you know me at all, you know that certain quotes speak to me.  I don't go around actually quoting my favorite quotes like a weirdo, but I like to write them down and keep them close.  This, to me,  is one of those powerful quotes that just make me feel like the pit of my stomach is up in my throat.


What I love about this quote is its simple truth.  It's not flowery and flowy and long and poetic.  But it is strong and simple and true.

And being silenced or feeling silenced about things that mean something to me is just an awful feeling.  I truly believe that I would just eventually fold into myself and fade away if I wasn't able to be heard.

I will never let my children feel like they don't have a voice.   From as far back as I can remember, I have told my kids that they have every right in the world to speak their minds, as long as they do it respectfully.  I remember Kara at about 3 or 4, saying to me, "Mom, freedom of speech, it's in the Constitution!" when I admonished her about saying something.  And I thought to myself, "Well, there you have it."  It's true.

I do feel that we need to remind ourselves that our voice, however valid and important it is to us, is just one.  We can't just jam our thoughts and beliefs down other's throats.  Don't get me wrong, I love a good heated debate, but only as long as we remain respectful of the equal rights of other people's opinions.

Anyway, just wanted to share some written words that make me feel.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

the little voting poll thing

So I decided to post this little voting poll thing on the blog to see if I really have any readers.  It's funny.  In many respects, I don't really think that I write for who might be reading, but I am curious to see if anyone actually stops by and reads.  So I put it up for about a month, just to see what happens. 

I am not much into promoting this blog -- I'm not even sure how I would go about doing that, besides throwing the link out there on the occasional facebook post.  I can't help but wonder how certain blogs get so many followers!  It seems like the general theme is to have a general theme.  Maybe I need to focus on one single thing here, if I want to get a big pile of loyal readers.  If I look back though, I kind of do think I have a general theme -- and that theme is basically the average happenings of an average family on an average day.  In my perspective of course.

I mean, maybe I could get a bunch of readers if I just posted recipes, or photo tutorials, or book reviews or something.  But man -- no offense, I think that would be kind of boring.  Or a touch more boring maybe than the random musings of an average mom on an average day.  Maybe not so much boring, but LIMITING.  I guess I could have little off shoot blogs that are on one topic and one topic only.  I think plenty of people do that.  And really, it's nice to know there are sites to go to that you don't have to wade through all of the every day stuff to find that cool recipe on the cornbread you remember seeing.   Or I just stumbled across a site on hand making furniture for the beginner that looked SO GREAT, and easy and cool... it really only had a snippet or two about life mixed in with the furniture talk -- that was nice.

Well, so the point is, if you could kindly just click a yes, no or just passing through it would give me a little idea of who's out there.  If you feel like becoming a follower -- that would be awesome, because I think that's what everyone sort of strives for on the blog world, right?  And if you feel like commenting, please feel free to do that too!  Because I love a comment, even if we don't agree on something -- it's sort of validating.  And last but CERTAINLY LEAST (as my kids say), by all means feel free to forward my link on to any other average moms or dads or families who have lots of average days out there, we might very well have some average experiences in common!

And I think that would be cool.

Monday, April 26, 2010

things i love part 2

Sharpies

Avocados


Goat cheese

Salt and pepper grinders

Keurig

Balsamic vinegar

Banana peppers


Depression Glass



Carnival glass
Burts Bees

California Rolls



Old Books


Green Tea Perfume


Friday, April 23, 2010

first quarter review

Since we're soon to be wrapping up the first quarter of this new decade we are in, I thought I would revisit my New Years Resolutions,  to see how I am doing!  My brother-in-law John religiously writes his yearly goals and posts them in his bathroom.  He actually frames them.  True story.  I think he read a study that said if you read your goals every day you are x% more likely to achieve them.  If I had less of a headache, I would google it so x actually = something real.  But John definitely seems to achieve many of his goals, so it works for him.  He did once actually create and frame my sister's yearly goals FOR HER as a Christmas present (how thoughtful!), but she didn't really appreciate his humor.  I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't have either.


But anyway... let's revisit.  What have I actually done that I wanted to do...

(1)  I HAVE blogged a lot more, and a lot more regularly! (yay me!)

(2) I HAVE NOT continued working on my book.  So far I am stuck where I was in January.  I panic.  I have to re-read the book and get cracking on it.

(3) I HAVE played more games with the kids! (Yay again!)  I went out and bought a few more games, and we've been in full on game mode for quite a bit now.  I feel so accomplished!

(4) I HAVE been cooking dinner more regularly.  Cooked-in-store rotisserie chicken, where have you been all my life??!  I love you!  I am actually proud of this one -- I really wanted to quit/reduce take out (I do not consider pre-cooked Rotisserie chicken to be take-out.  It's from the grocery store people!). I think we have been doing a great job reducing.  Haven't quit yet, exactly, but definitely reduced.

(5) Not sure about enjoying the small stuff more... that's a hard one for me.

(6) We HAVE been saving more money.  We HAVE started an actual plan. (Yee Haw!)

(7) I guess I HAVE NOT taken MORE time to read, but it seems pretty equal.  Currently I am bookless with nothing to read but blogs and the news.  I'll work on it.  I have to read the Harry Potter series.  I have been putting it off for years, and it is getting ridiculous. 

(8) I HAVE gotten a regular exercise plan in place.  I have actually been executing this (fairly unexciting) plan for a full week now.  I guess it is a start...

(9) I HAVE NOT reduced my TV time.  I may have done the exact opposite of this.  I love my TV time.  Maybe this isn't such a good resolution.

(10) I HAVE Swapped Meg's room and the guest room out.  It was a great idea -- so glad we did it!

(11) I HAVE NOT used the sewing machine.  But I DID prepare to use it.  I am actually staring at a sewing project as I type this.

(12)  Pretty sure I HAVE been ignoring the old biological clock.

(13) I HAVE NOT accomplished any house goals -- maybe we will tackle those particular jobs over the coming winter.  I really really want to!

(14) I HAVE been pursuing photography.  And I have been loving it.

(15) I HAVE NOT gone near the damn old computer to manage several years worth of photos.  I'm scared.  It's a really freaking huge job.

(16) I HAVE NOT been so great about sending cards on time.  January did NOT start out with a bang, since I managed to forget my husband's grandmother's 80th birthday, and his MOTHER's birthday, all in one fell swoop.  Now that is shameful.  But starting this month, April (no wait , let's start in May)-- I am ON IT, and will definitely try hard to do a better job with this.

(17) I AM NOT currently fit at forty.  Yet.  But I have a plan.  And I still have another 3/4 of a year to make it right.

(18) I HAVE been sort of using cash for groceries a lot more.  I haven't been planning my shopping yet though, and I still want to do that.  I want to be like that lady who goes in and buys $80 worth of groceries with $1 because she shops the flyers and uses coupons.  She is my hero.

(19) I definitely HAVE NOT down deep and dirty cleaned the whole house.  Sorry.  My bad.

(20) I HAVE been spending more quality time with my kids, which is great, and sort of my husband. He is kind of out of my control because of the old work schedule.  I try.  This weekend we got a sitter and went off together for a few hours, and it was so nice and relaxing. 

(21)  I HAVE been more green.  We have been recycling like crazy.  Next step is to lose the plastic bags.  That's my green goal. 

Well there you have it.  It looks like it is kind of equal at this point, with what I have and have not accomplished so far.  Which in reality really isn't that bad!  I still have some decent time to get moving on some of the things I have not been doing. 

Don't you worry.  I am all over it.

 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

earth day


**4/27: I have added to this post on the bottom**

I remember driving in a sweaty car with no air-conditioning down to Central Park in New York City.  I was nervous, because even though I am a New Yorker, I had never driven in the city myself.  It was my sweaty car, and it was 1990.  The car was packed.  The destination was the 20th Earth Day Celebrations that were being held throughout the city.  The goal was to make it to Central Park.  We weren't activists, we just wanted to see the bands.

Sad.  I know. 

But I was 20 years old, going to spend the weekend in a sweet little apartment in Manhatten with my sister and a few friends.  (and one jerky guy who happened to join us)  I won't mention any names.  The apartment belonged to my grandparents, who used to weekend in the city.  While the city people were all flocking upstate on the weekends, my grandparents were taking the train from upstate to NYC.  Perfect tiny little place with a bed that pulled out of the wall.  A Murphy bed.  Cool.  The kitchen was smaller than my bathroom, the bathroom was smaller than my closet, but it worked.  It was perfect, and Grammy and Grampy gave us the keys to it for the weekend!

We all had our tye-died shirts, and denim cut off shorts, Birkenstock-ish sandals and long streaky hair.  We were just flying by the seat of our pants, following the crowd, with no real idea how to even get ourselves to Central Park.  To the music.

I remember drinking a little too much that day.  The air was charged with hundreds of thousands of people clustered together - mostly peaceful.  There were definitely illegal substances floating around (it wasn't me Mom, I swear!).  We were psyched to see the B-52's, Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians, Peter Gabriel - for free!  It was so crowded and so hot.  I don't remember how we ended up with drinks, because I'm pretty sure we were all underage.  I actually don't remember how we made it back to the apartment, and how we "lost" the jerky guy.  Some how, he made his way back to us before the weekend wrapped up and we headed home.  These were the days before cell phones, so don't ask me how.  All I remember is that he was pissed.  And he sure didn't hide that fact.

The ride home was a little less fun because the excitement of the get-away was over, and of course the jerky guy was mad that we ditched him.  We all kinda thought he deserved it, if I remember correctly.  That was probably the last time I saw that guy for years.  Now he lives in the city, somehow he has morphed himself into a successful "city person." We've run into each other here and there over the years, because we always sort of traveled in the same circles, coming from the same town. 
I still think he's a jerk.

That is my earliest memory of doing anything for Earth Day.  But after that impromptu weekend excursion, I definitely remember caring a little bit more about this world we all share - our environment, how we can change things and how we can actually help.  Something was sparked for me, and I made a little bit more of an effort to do some things differently.  I do think in some ways, one person really can make a difference.

It was 40 years ago today since the first celebration in April, the year I was born.  It all started with a handfull of budding ecologists who were tired of the pollution, smog, unsafe drinking water and animals faced with extinction due to carelessness and pollutants.  There was an estimation that one in 10 American's actively participated in the first Earth Day in 1970, which is incredible if it's true.  People really banded together and made stuff happen.  The Environmental Protection Agency was founded and Congress passed several landmark laws over the next few years, including the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Oh, I know there are still a multitude of people who are involved, who care and tirelessly struggle to keep the momentum that began forty years ago going, but it just doesn't seem important enough to the average person anymore.  I think I read a news report somewhere that said American's are less concerned now than ever before. 

Why??
  
It seems to me that we are really on the cusp of some serious turning points with energy efficiency, renewable energy and green living.
 
Let's all just care again! 

"Be the changes that you wish to see in the world!"
Ghandi

**So I was just chatting with my sister Jenney and her (then boyfriend) husband about the Earth Day get-away, and they reminded me of a few things.  One thing in particular, that Jenney stomped off alone in Harlem at 4 am because I called her the B word.   (in my defense, I believe I said "you are acting like a B," not, "You are a B."  Also, she was definitely tipsy.)  Her now husband was so busy clubbing, he didn't even bother helping me try to find her.  That was scary.  Jenney also remembers very little about the weekend (first Long Island Ice Tea's we ever experienced, I imagine).  John distinctly remembers hanging out of a tree in Central Park.  Other than those few combined memories, our minds all seem to draw a blank. Hmmm...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

KK

My neice Kasey is going to be graduating from high school in a month or so.  I'm so looking forward to that ceremony.  It seems like just yesterday  she was a cute little raspy voiced, blue-eyed peanut, scared of everything.  Especially throwing up.

I actually remember Kasey's PRESCHOOL graduation!  Until her family moved away when she was in Kindergarten, I probably saw my niece on a daily basis.  That's when she loved Minnie Mouse, and Baby Bop and called me Aunt Tessee.

She grew up to be such a great kid, and now, as an almost 18 year old ADULT - seems absolutely fearless.  Four years ago, she was accepted at this prestigious boarding school in Connecticut, and enrolled as a day student.  She jumped in, as she always does, and made things happen for herself, by being herself. 


She is an amazing writer, when she was little, she wrote a minimum of a book a day - for a year straight.  Now she is the holder of an honorable writing award from Choate.  She just made the varsity lacrosse team at her school, and is a really tough Goalie.  She a blackbelt in Karate.  She's a world traveler, having spent a semester living with a host family in Spain. She's a humanitarian, a volunteer.  She has gone to Peru for the past few years to volunteer at an orphanage for deaf children, and will be going back again this year.  She would like to continue doing this as long as she can.
 

Kasey was accepted early admission to the Ivy League school, UPenn. She'll be a nursing major in the best nursing program in the country!  I couldn't be more proud of her.  I like watching her grow, learn, discover.  I like that the whole world is in front of her and it's all so exciting...

I just love her.

I can't wait to see what happens next.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

secret reader

I signed up to be the secret reader at Brooke's pre-k class today.  She was so pink when she saw me walk in the door early.  She ran over and buried her face in my coat and said, "I didn't know you were going to be the secret reader Mom!"  She looked mortified, but got over it.


I read My Monster Mama Loves Me, by Laura Leuck.  I figured it would be something the boys would like too.  All of my kids loved this book, and I made sure to keep it around.  Check it out... here.  It got 5 stars at Amazon.

 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

on being a parent

I think I am liking this part.

This morning, Alex got himself up and made his own lunch.  Megan came up on her own to shower after breakfast, and Brooke is showering her little self as I write.  I am no longer allowed to wash hair, because she "can do it!"   I sat on my bed and watched the Today Show til 8:15, thinking...

"I'm really liking this..."

Yesterday, after pre-k, Brooke informed me that she would be making her own lunch.  I told her to go for it, we just needed to make sure it included a fruit and veggie.  She dragged a big chair around the kitchen accumulating what she needed, got out some bread, carrots and a banana, bologna and cheese.  She made herself a bologna and cheese sandwich.  Poured herself a glass of milk.  I cut the crusts and she was good to go!  Wow.

When I started the whole parenting journey I remember thinking that my job was to teach these guys how to be independent and responsible, respectful adults.  Every day that is what I hope I am somehow contributing to. 

That's what I tell Alex while he is stamping around unloading the dishwasher, or huffing and puffing while emptying the garbages around the house mumbling that those are the "worst chores ever!"

It's really awesome watching my kids grow and gain independence, learn that they can do it themselves.  It's awesome and a little sad, because I somehow miss feeling needed I guess.  My babies are growing up...

me and my first baby, Kara

Last night I was reminded I was needed by my college girl, who called me from the parking lot of Wal-Mart with a car that wouldn't cooperate.  I spent an hour on the phone between AAA and her dad and her, and it was nice to know that at the end of the day, if there's a problem, it's me who she will still call.

So the four-year-old wants desperately to do it herself, and the eight-year-old is totally liking doing it herself, the twelve-year-old doesn't want to do it himself, and the 20-year-old can do it, but still needs a little reassurance....

I do like this part.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Chuck E Cheese

Brooke was invited to a birthday party for one of her friends this weekend at Chuck E. Cheese.  What a racket cool place they have going on there.  My husband took the ride to drop Brookie off with me, and the whole way, he went on and on about how he looooooooved going to Chuck E. Cheese when he was little (never stepped foot in one myself), and all he and his brothers did was play in the ball pit.

Ball pit.

So I was thinking, oh gross.  A pit of germs that my kid is going to be rolling around in for an hour and a half.   Because we all know that ball pits are just primary colored germ havens.  GREAT. I guess we'll be making a pit stop at Wal-Mart for some antibacterial handi-wipes for the ride home, and some Tylenol Cold medicine for the sickness that's sure to come.

So anyway, we walked in and Brooke was so excited.  Very cute and a little shy.  When we got in the door, there was a guard lady.  She had to stamp a unique invisible number on Brooke and the same invisible number on me and Alex before we all went inside.  That way, no bad guys could steal her.  Love it.  Thought that was actually pretty cool and kind of thought it would be a neat thing to do at amusement parks and stuff.  Just mainly to keep the freak mom's like myself from thinking bad guys are trying to steal our babies out from under our watchful noses.

So after we made it past the guard lady, we walked into the coolest place ever!  I felt that I was done a serious childhood diservice by never having been to a Chuck E. Cheese before - "where a kid can be a kid!"  There were climbing gyms and games and video-type interactive things.  Everything was super clean and shiny!  There were even Purell handwash machines placed strategically around the place (for my fellow germophobe moms, of course).  I spotted a little kid on a (pretty big) realistic horse, and she was trotting along in front of a video screen that  made it look like she was trotting in a field.  Very cool.  Then after each game, the machine would spit out a bunch of coupons that you turn in at the end of the day for cheapie little prizes.  The kids all got a cupful of tokens to use on whatever games they wanted, so once Brooke saw a friend or two, she was like, "Are you guys leaving now, Mom?" trying to get rid of us.

The staff had six party tables set up -- there were six pretty sizeable kid parties going on in that 1.5 hour time period.  They have it all under control and totally timed perfectly, to take up the tableware and start all over when the next party group comes in.  Someone is definitely raking in the dough hand over fist in that place.

I can't wait to have a party there.  Or even a rainy day few hours.  There's pizza and a salad bar, drinks, entertainment -- and of course guards at the door so parents can relax while their kids are milling about.  And really, I thought it was pretty affordable - cheaper than taking my kids to a movie at the theater anyway.

Brooke left with a party bag, a fancy ring from the prize counter, and BIG smiles. I left with an invisible stamp and a fantastic cupcake that the party Mom slipped me as I was dragging my kid out. 

SUCCESS!


Friday, April 9, 2010

i spy?


INT. MOMMY'S BEDROOM - VERY EARLY MORNING

MOM and DAD are sleeping soundly.  BROOKE is wedged snugly between MOM and DAD.

RUSTLE OF BEDDING AND IRRITATING SQUEEK OF BEDSPRINGS.

Brooke sits straight up out of the blue.

BROOKE
(Highly energetic and with intensity.) Hey Mom!  Wanna play I Spy??  I Spy with my little eye something blue!  It's my Nanny!  And my blue eyes!  

MOM
(Opens one eye partially.)huh?

DISSOLVE

Thursday, April 8, 2010

oh!

The bell just rang and it was FedEx.
For me!
That was kinda quick.
It's my new Blackberry.
I'm scared.
I quite like my old reliable Blackberry.
But I want to be cool like all of the other cool Blackberry Smartphone kids I know.
I hope I like it.