30 May 2008

The Pool Is Open. The Pool Is Closed.

The Sholem Aquatic Center opened for the season last Sat., though I doubt many people braved the cold water temps, despite the Champaign Park District's cheerful note, "don't forget the pool is heated." I don't think they could make the water that warm. At least, for me - I am not a polar bear. Anyway, since Unit 4 schools are in session until next week, the pool's only open after 4 p.m., which kinda stinks but is understandable.

I hemmed and hawed over taking the kids this afternoon. The weather was great all day - sunny, warm, a bit breezy - perfect swimming weather. So around 3:30 we put on our suits and sunscreen, gathered our towels and headed out the door.

By the time we arrived at the pool, there was a small mass of people but the line for pool pass holders was blissfully short (I got ours last Friday). We were through the door and into the water by 4:03.

The kids were over-the-moon happy. Both of them are like fish and could live at the pool. Flynn kept giggling and jumping up and down, though they were a teeny bit bummed when they realized they are too big for the kiddie pool. They recovered with a quick shoulder shrug and took off for the "big pool." They played, we took a trip down the lazy river and then Evan worked a little on his breast stroke.

I, however, kept one eye on my kids and one on the sky, with its darkening clouds.

After spotting lightning in the area, the guards cleared the pool. The time was 4:35.

We dried off and went home, rather than hang around and wait for them to actually close the pool due to bad weather.

30 minutes. I'm so glad we have pool passes. I would've hated to have paid admission.

29 May 2008

Turning It Up A Notch

Once in a blue moon I get the opportunity to watch a little day-time TV, usually BBC America. Today after cleaning up the house, the kids and I sat down to view You Are What You Eat, hosted by England's resident health-nut, holistic nutritionist Gillian McKeith. She ambushes heavy-weight people and bullies them into a healthier life-style, one that includes ditching a diet comprised mainly of take-aways and lots of sugar, caffeine, and refined everything. Not a fruit or veg in sight. Exercise? Fugeddaboutit.

One of her little tricks is to lay out a week's worth of food and confront the guilty party. Each table's offerings are very, well, brown and rather disgusting. Then she shows the person a table full of what their diet will be for the next two months, a veritable rainbow of vibrantly colored fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, lean proteins and whole grains.

In 8 weeks she turns their life around, every person's a success story - they eat a healthy diet and start exercising, loosing lots of weight in the process (30 pounds seems to be the average).

But she's not very nice about it. The best I can describe her is she's a steely-gazed, sharp-tongued school marm. She has the tenacity of a pit bull or rat terrier. She tears into the poor slob, ripping him or her a new one; scolding them for their poor eating and exercise habits, nipping at their heels or biting them in the butt until they change.
After the program was over Evan said, "She's pretty aggressive. That woman needs to turn up the nice a few notches." He's an observant young man, my son. Flynn chimed in with, "Yeah, she's a meanie."

I agree. But it makes good TV.

28 May 2008

He'll Make An Excellent Husband Someday

For years Evan's been bugging me and bugging me to let him use the sewing machine. He's pretty crafty with a needle and thread - he sewed a Christmas ornament for me last December, and mostly completed a blanket for his teddy.

After showing him the basics of the machine, I let him at it with a scrap of flannel I'd had left over from the latest baby blanket (made with this fabric) and showed him what to do.

Now he wants to make a blanket for his bed. I have had the pieces cut for a year or so with the intention of making a quilt for him, so now all I have to do is dig them out and we're off, a slightly different version of my own summers spent sitting by my mother while she made clothes for me and my sister. When I was a little older than Evan, my mom would let me pick a pattern (something very easy) and fabric and she'd teach me, something we did pretty much every summer until I went away to school. Those sewing lessons helped pay my rent in college; I worked in the theatre department's costume shop making all kinds of stuff.

Sarah made the cutest robot pajama's for her daughter and inspired me, as she so often does. I spent the better part of today working on a pair for Evan. The top is finished and while Evan says the sleeves are "fine, Mom. They'll do," I'm not very happy with them (I couldn't get the cuffs right and ended up just hemming them and they look a little fluttery). I'll finish the bottoms tomorrow, then I'll have a pix to post.

Hell, maybe Evan will finish his own jammies and that's just fine by me.

27 May 2008

Auf Wiedersehen, Mein Deutche Mama

The last week of April, the mother of one of my dearest friends was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer, which had spread to her liver and the surrounding lymph nodes. Her doctor gave her, at most, six months to live.

She died at 3:45 this a.m., surrounded by her children and loved ones. I'm told she went peacefully - no machines or condescending care givers, just birds singing outside her window, the sound of the wind in the trees, and the music she loved.

I've always called her my "Deutche Mama" because Martina was originally from Germany and she treated me like a member of her family from the moment her son, my friend, introduced us well over 20 years ago.

I will always remember her smiling face, her loving nature, her kindness and generosity, the strength of her faith. In my mind's eye I see her in the big kitchen of the retreat center where she lived and worked (for some reason she has flour on her hands). She's busy taking care of everyone around her, me included.

My life is that much richer for having had her gentle presence in my life and she will be greatly missed.

Baby Names

Always ones to plan ahead, my children had the following conversation, which I report verbatim:

Evan: What are we going to name our new baby?

Mom (thinking): What new baby?

Evan: We should come up with some names for when we have babies.

[I will clarify that my children know they can't have babies with each other. They've asked if they can marry each other. I told them "no" unless they live in Kentucky. Evan's had his heart set on a particular girl in his class, whom he adores.]

Flynn: Ummm, Sunshine?

Evan: That's good. What else?

Flynn: Treepod!

Evan: That's a great name, Sunshine Treepod! Hey, Mom, isn't that a great name?

Mom: Mmm-hmmm, yeah, that's a good one alright. (thinking to herself: maybe if it's 1967. Then: Good Lord, my children are hippies. What's a "treepod"?) Is this a boy's name or a girl's?

Evan: A boy.

Flynn: A girl.

No "Emma"'s or "Matthew"'s for my kids, apparently.


It's Sunshine Treepod, which has a certain panache, I guess.

23 May 2008

Is It August Yet?

My kids are officially on summer vacation as of today.

And I'm ready for them to go back.

After I picked up Evan this morning we had some time to kill before heading over to Flynn's Friday CPD preschool end-of-the-year get together. We were originally to be at Prairie Farm but since the weather was uncooperative we adjourned to the kitchen of the Springer building. Evan was in desperate need of a haircut so I took him in. The girl who cut his hair did a decent job. I've had a hard time finding a stylist for my son who won't cut his hair in either 1 of the 2 approved Boy Haircuts (the Buzz Cut, so the poor guy looks like he belongs in the army or the "Prince Valiant" which makes the boy look like he had a bowl on his head). The best barber we've ever taken him to is in Glenview and I don't know when we'll be up there next.

Anyhoo, We had an o.k. lunch with Flynn's class then headed out into the rain to run some errands.

First on the list was Target to get a birthday present for one of my six nieces (her birthday's next week). She wanted a copy of the new Alvin and The Chipmunks movie. While we were there, I had the kids check out the shoes. Flynn needed an new pair of sandals (she found a bejeweled pair of flip-flops) and Evan claimed to need new sneakers, of which Target has slim pickings for boys. We also perused the toys, like we normally do. Evan had his heart set on getting some kind of spy case, which I vetoed and he spent the rest of our time in the store in a sour funk.

In the car, Evan declared that he's going to read 50 picture books this summer and 3 novels. His reward, should he accomplish his goal, is lunch at McDonald's (that's what he decided). So, in order to help him along we went to Borders to check out their selection. He found 4 books, as did Flynn. I'm always happy to shell out dollars for books because I know they'll get read over and over. Flynn had a minor melt-down in the bookstore because her "legs [were] tired from walking" and I couldn't carry her. They were both super squirrelly at the check out, but once they had their new books in their hot little hands they were happy campers indeed.

On to Payless to checkout their selection of boys' tennis shoes. Flynn found a dressy pair of sandals to wear to church and Evan came up bupkus, which I don't think he minded because he was busy reading. So I told him we'd go to another shoe store, one sure to have shoes for him.

Off to Heel to Toe. My son was too busy reading one of his new books to really concentrate on trying on new shoes and I had to physically wrest the book from his hands to get him to pay attention to the task. The older gentleman who helped us was great and within 5 minutes found Evan a new pair of tennies that he ended up wearing out of the store because he didn't want to take them off. "These new shoes help me run faster," he exclaimed running to the car.

Next task: pool passes. Arrived at the Bresnan building around 3:30. The kids were running on empty by this time and starting to get more than just a little antsy. While we waited for our passes to print out, they were climbing on each other and spinning around and it was just a matter of time before they either pissed off the other one or they got hurt (or both). However, they are more than a little thrilled at having their very own pool pass with their name and picture on it. The pool opens tomorrow, as Evan reminded me as we drove out of the parking lot.

Last stop: the grocery store for a few things. My family goes through a metric ton's worth of Popsicles during the summer and we were out, so that was on the list. And cantaloupe (Flynn would probably eat her weight's worth every day if I let her). The cherries looked good, too, so we grabbed some of those. A couple more things then we were headed for the check-out, with very little bickering from the children. They asked if we could rent a movie, so on our way out the door we stopped at the Red Box and they picked out three movies.

Home by 4 p.m. *whew*

I can't fathom taking them on errands this summer as I'm so used to doing them by myself or at most having one of them with me, but I'll do it because I don't have any other choice and they are usually well-behaved. And, hooray, they have a couple camps in June and Flynn will attend a preschool summer session in July. My only salve and/or bribe will be the pool.

Until August comes and they will (blissfully) go off to school again.

22 May 2008

Two By Two

My good friend Gwen forwarded this to me, so I thought I'd make it my post for the day.

Two names you go by:
1. Mom
2. Miss Missy

Two things you are wearing right now:
1. Wedding/engagement rings
2. Jeans

Two of your favorite things to do:
1. Read
2. Explore new places

Two things you want very badly at the moment:
1. A live-in maid
2. A night out with my hubby

Two favorite pets:
1. My first dog, Cindy
2. My second dog, Molly

Two people who, I hope, will fill this out:
1. Stacy
2. The Fearless Freak

Two things you did last night:
1. Watched Loony Tunes cartoons with the kids
2. Finished my book and started a new one

Two things you ate today:
1. An amazing sushi rice roll at the preschool picnic (so, so delicious)
2. Watermelon

Two people (I'm amending this to "adults") you last talked too:
1. Audrey
2. Mrs. Chicken

Two things you're doing tomorrow:
1. Getting Evan a haircut
2. Getting our family's pool passes (the pool opens on Saturday and the kids can hardly wait)

Two longest car rides:
1. 12-hours straight from my grandmother's in PA (with a 4-year-old and 2 1/2-year-old who'd been potty-trained for 2 weeks).
2. Driving from the D.C. area home 3 days after 9/11 (with an 8-month-old Evan). That was about 16-hours almost straight through and we hit a traffic jam in Indy. Ever try nursing a child while he's a) screaming his head off and b) still strapped in the car seat because the car is barreling down the highway? Good times.

Two Favorite Holidays:
1. Halloween
2. Christmas

Two favorite beverages:
1. Skinny Green Tea Latte from Starbuck's
2. Starbucks' Light Iced Coffee (it's in a can, but it's soooo good)

21 May 2008

No Touching The Trucks

Today Flynn's preschool class went to the Park District's annual "Touch A Truck" extravaganza. This event has never been a favorite of either of my children (or me but I go), aside from the free ice cream and pop. It's usually hot (not this year - today it was downright chilly even standing in the sunshine), crowded with preschoolers in various stages of melt-down and noisy (what with all the honking and beeping of various car horns). The novelty of the day wears off in about 5 minutes. I volunteered to chaperon, as did most of the class's parents. I escorted my daughter and one of her best friends, the delightful and lovely Miss B.

Right at 10:00 we were headed to the bouncy houses, where I happened to see 3/4 of the Freak Family, a nice surprise. Miss B was in and out of the bouncy castle in about a minute flat and Flynn didn't bother. Then we were on to the ice cream, this year provided by the delicious Cold Stone Creamery, the Pepsi truck for a drink and then a quick tour of the Champaign library's bookmobile. The girls walked around with their fingers in their ears.

At least this year the CPD seemed to have figured out a good placement for all the cars and trucks involved. In previous years (and this is my 4th or 5th year at TAT) a semi or street sweeper was parked near the parking lot and horn-happy kids would laying on that LOUD and OBNOXIOUS thing like there was no tomorrow, blowing out the eardrums of the unfortunate souls standing within a 10 yard radius. This year those trucks were, thankfully, parked on the opposite side of the park. We didn't go over there.

The girls had had enough of the honking, the beeping, the insanely loud Kidz Bop treacly noise blaring from the CPD's stage. For my charges, the police department's bomb squad robot was blase. There was no desire to honk a car horn or crawl around a monster truck tire or sit on a tricked-out motorcycle. The only truck Flynn had a remote interest in was the USPS's and that was only because they were giving away plastic bags and a coloring book (that girl cannot resist the siren call of anything resembling a shopping bag). These are the girliest of girls, Miss B's Pokemon obsession aside.

We were back at my car in a record 15 minutes.

Flynn and Miss B spent the next hour watching an episode of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends then switching to Flushed Away, coloring and playing in my car since the playground at Centennial Park is currently under construction. Speaking of which, the image of about 15 4- and 5-year-olds standing on top of a mound of dirt looking forlornly at the nearly finished, but roped off, playground is quite haunting. Poor things.

Our last "Touch A Truck."

Thank God.

20 May 2008

Slightly Disgruntled

OK, here's the back story: about 9 years ago one of my best friends, who I've known for over half my life, who introduced me to the man who became my husband, moved Out West. It had always been her dream to live there and when she finished grad school she packed up her then-9-year-old daughter, 2 dogs, 2 cats and a houseful of stuff and moved, driving across the country. When she first arrived we talked frequently on the phone, sent letters regularly, e-mailed, helped her out financially.

In the years she's been gone, I finished my schooling, moved into my teaching career, had kids and became a stay-at-home mom. I try to keep in touch - sending an e-mail or letter with pictures of the kids, birthday and Christmas cards and gifts, various and sundry notes/little "thought you'd like this" gifts. Before I was pregnant with child #1 I flew out and spent a few days before Christmas seeing their new city and hanging out and they've spent the holidays with us a couple of times.

Now here's my quandary: I've heard nothing out of her other than mass e-mails about her new dog or the house she finally bought. I assume her daughter's recently finished her first year of college (!), but don't know where (her dream school was Berkeley).

I know lives get busy, but when the person you've listed in your will as the guardian for your minor child sends you a "hello, how are you" note, wouldn't it be kind to send a note back even if it's along the lines of, "sorry, can't write more - terribly busy"? She didn't even send me a Christmas card this past December. I've sent e-mails kind-of-sort-of-but-not-really jokingly asking, "Are you still alive?" No "hey, good to hear from you" or "thanks for thinking of me" or even "drop dead." I haven't heard a peep.

Part of me is deeply hurt by this. If she doesn't want to be my friend any more why not tell me, rather than ignore me and leave me to guess, like a former college boyfriend did (he assumed that since I'm a smart girl I would get the hint if he didn't answer my letters or return my phone calls. He figured wrong. I tracked him down and demanded some closure.)? But I can't just fly off Out West. I know she hates confrontation as much as I do. Maybe that's the reason for the silence. The thing is I try to be a good friend. Is it too much to ask that it be reciprocated?

Part of me just wants to shrug it off - let it go. Let her go since it seems obvious that she's cut her ties here.

I am well aware of the transience of relationships, as much as I hate it. I dunno. Maybe she's just done with the Midwest and everyone associated with it, including me (ouch, that smarts).

This woman was like a sister to me and it's like she vanished off the face of the planet.

What do I do? I need some guidance here since this has been gnawing at me for a number of months. Alright, a year.

What would you do? Seriously.

19 May 2008

Really Need The Happy Today

I really, really, really needed a good laugh today. The past couple of weeks have been a wee bit rough (the 6th anniversary of my dad's death, Cynthia's dad died, one of Frank's co-workers died, Katherine's grandfather passed away, a lovely woman I've known for a long time was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer - in other words, lots of sadness).

Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry never fail to cheer me up. Hope they make you laugh, too.

15 May 2008

A Still Life By A Busy Boy

Evan came home with this from school the other day and I fell in love with it. I love the graphic quality of his heavy black crayon lines. This seems very German Expressionistic to me - reminds me of one of my favorite painters, Max Beckmann. Maybe it's because of the freshness and exuberance and energy in the lines - the drawing is unencumbered by pretension (I don't know what artistic pretense a 7-year-old can have anyway).

Whatever. Enough "art speak". I love this drawing by my boy.

14 May 2008

Codename: Applesauce!

The Aquabats' Super Rad! has been raging through my mind for about a week now. I just can't get enough of this song - it's so happy and bouncy and goofy.

Of all the Aquabats videos on You Tube, this was the one that offered the best combination of sound and picture quality. It's an amalgam of live concert footage and the band's actual video for this song and you can ignore the first minute.

Flynn loves the little dog dressed up as a super hero. We've watched this many times just for the brief glimpses of the "cute little puppy."

A Call to Action

Last night was my last official act as president of our preschool's Board of Directors - the last meeting of the school year. I've really loved my time, all 4 years of it, with our preschool and my family and I will miss it.

Usually, I leave the kinder at home with either their dad or a babysitter. This time neither were available as Frank's working 14-hour days until his game's done and the babysitter went home for the summer so I had to take Evan and Flynn with me.

On the way there Evan says, "So, you talk about nothing?"

Me: What do you mean?

Evan: What do you do at these meetings?

Me: We discuss the business of the school.

Evan: That sounds pretty boring. There should be more action.

Flynn: Yeah. More action, like karate.

13 May 2008

My Little Artiste

Stacy, a friend of mine since our college days at EIU, is a fantastic artist/actor/singer and all-around cool chick. Her site, Oliveloaf Design, showcases not only her work but artwork that inspires her.

Her featured artist for today is my daughter, Flynn.

Thanks, Stacy!

Say No More

10 May 2008

One Bad-Ass Mutha

The kids' karate school held a "Mommy & Me" class this morning in honor of the Mother's Day weekend. I didn't hit the gym this morning mainly because I just felt so tired and a bit out of sorts - this weekend does it to me every year. I needed distraction - to keep busy otherwise I'd focus on why this particular weekend is so crummy (for clarification see my May 9 post).

So we went.

And we had a blast.

The kids and their instructor showed me how to punch and kick and I'll tell you that 30 seconds squatting in a middle stance while throwing punches is one heckuva quad workout. Remember wall sits during P.E. class? Yeah, it's like that only with no wall.

Evan and Flynn each broke a plastic board using a side kick (they use them in class - the boards snap together kind of like Legos).

Then it was my turn.

Only the moms used a palm heel strike and broke a real piece of wood.

I went first and broke that board like it was an egg. Uh-huh. That's right. My kids looked at me, jaws gaping, and I could almost hear their thoughts, "Holy crap! Did you just see what Mommy did? We better be good."

This is my board:
Not too shabby for a mom with no karate experience. For now.

I start classes on Monday with Flynn and continue with each child, which means I'll have tae kwondo lessons four days a week. For free (the school's policy is that if 2 members are attending classes, the rest of the family can participate free of charge). Master N also gave the moms free uniforms.

Oh, and we were given a flower, a cute little petunia to kill, I mean plant. Who am I trying to kid? I have a total black thumb. That poor little flower will be dead and in the garbage within a week.

But I can break a board with my bare hand.

Happy Mother's Day!

Exhibits Both Artistic And Scientific

Flynn had her preschool art exhibition this week. These are her submissions, which were culled from a school year's worth of art projects (not an easy feat, I can assure you):

Evan also had his First Grade science fair. The goal of the experiment was to answer a question. Initially, Evan wanted to build a robot from scratch. His dad and I talked him into something a little less time consuming. Evan's question was "Do tall buildings fall faster than shorter ones during and earthquake?" He and Frank made a shake table to simulate an earthquake, which was a big hit. What's not to love about making Lego towers fall?

Both kids were so proud of their work and I'm so incredibly proud of them.

09 May 2008

The Day I Stopped Writing

I've written more here in the last 6 months than I've written in the last 6 years.

That wasn't always the case.

I was always known as "the writer" in my family. My mom says that as soon as I could hold a pencil I was always writing. I wrote mainly poetry, a smattering of short stories, and one summer I wrote a play that my friends and I produced during my birthday party. It was no surprise I became an English major in college. Writing research papers, while labor intensive, never really bothered me. The words came easily. I continued to write poetry, finding that medium most fitting to my style. I love the way poets distill language down to its very essence - word choice and placement on the page is premium. A couple of my poems were published, one was used in a play. But I certainly did not think myself a poet by any stretch of the imagination. "The difference between you and Steve [a mutual friend], " a person I used to know said, "is that Steve writes because he wants to. You write because you need to." I did. I did need to write. A pen in my hand put to paper was a natural extension of myself. Lots of ideas would pop into my head or I'd hear a phrase or read something and I needed to get it on paper pronto.

This continued through college and beyond. My first job after school was with a local publishing company. Some of the editors had formed a writing group and I was asked to join. We'd take turns submitting works and spend our Wednesday evenings dissecting the submissions. I learned so much from those people and their writing.

Once I was married and started teaching, the desire to write creatively lessened. I had little time to contemplate and work on poems, plus I just didn't want to.

Then my son was born and life kicked into high gear. Evan was 16 months old when I decided to start journaling - my fingers were getting itchy. One late morning in early May, 2002 I picked up a notebook, settled into the rocker glider and while Evan napped on the floor, I wrote. I don't have that notebook anymore but I recall writing about how much I loved this little sleeping boy curled up on a blanket at my feet, clutching a Batman doll in his pudgy fist.

A week later I stopped writing.

Monday, May 11, the day after Mother's Day, was like any other day until about 4:00 in the afternoon.

Evan and I had been home from running errands for about 15 minutes when Frank came home. He walked in looking upset. He sat down on the couch next to me and didn't say anything. He couldn't talk. Then he said, "Have you heard about Tom and Jane?" I said no, I hadn't heard anything about my dad and his wife. Frank was very quiet and visibly shaken. I was starting to get a little frightened, thinking they were in a car accident or something, then he said, "They're dead."

I immediately went to the phone and called my dad's office number at the university. He'd retired from the small animal vet clinic the previous August after 31 years as a clinician and teacher. He was named a professor emeritus and still had an office in the building. I got his voicemail. I didn't leave a message.

When my mom showed up a couple minutes later, I knew something really bad had happened. I collapsed into her arms and started wailing, "NO!" When Evan started to cry, I realized I had to get it together - I was scaring him.

In a flurry of activity, I called the clinic's front desk and talked to one of the receptionists. She left a message for one of my dad's closest friends to call me back. My mom called the police department in the town where my dad lived. They couldn't give her any information. By this time, my sister, her husband and 8-week-old baby girl and my brother-in-law's parents and their minister were all ensconced in my house.

The phone rang just as one of the local T.V. stations showed footage of a body bag being taken from my dad's house. It was the county coroner calling to confirm what I already knew: that my dad was dead. This very nice, kind man with a horrible job then explained how my dad died.

He was murdered by his wife of 22 years, who then took her own life. He had been asleep - napping on the TV room floor. Jane shot him in the head 4 times, then wrote an 8-page note that was filled with nothing but hate for my dad. With my dad's blood on her feet she walked back to their bedroom and killed herself with a single bullet to the heart. My sister and I will never know what truly drove our step-mother to murder and we'll also never know exactly when they died. Unlike on TV, the coroner couldn't give us an exact time of death, just that they'd died sometime before their bodies were discovered by the dogsitter that Monday morning. Katy and I have pieced some things together and we feel that our dad died that previous Sat. evening.

The last thing I wrote of any length was for the program for my dad's memorial service, held at the Krannert Center. I wrote that we wanted his friends, clients and colleagues to know him as my sister and I knew him - a loving and devoted dad and doting grandpa. And I wrote mainly because I couldn't trust my voice or composure.

After that, the only writing I did was "thank you" notes and an occasional letter to out-of- state family and friends.

Life went on, we moved to a new house, had another baby, went on with our lives. Years passed.

Then a mom at preschool clued me into Mrs. Chicken's blog.

I read.

And read.

And read some more.

Little by little the hard little nugget of grief that had frozen my fingers started to melt and fall away. By last November, I felt, "my fingers are itchy." Mrs. Chicken, if you ever think your writing doesn't make a difference, read this.

So here I am.

Grieving still for my stolen father but able to put pen to paper, fingers to keys and that makes it better.

07 May 2008

The Best Thing To Come Out of Norway Since A-Ha

I've been a fan of Sondre Lerche's for a few years now. After I saw this video I promptly ordered the CD Two Way Monologue because I couldn't find it around here and I have yet to be disappointed with any of this young man's songwriting and musicianship. He's just a baby - maybe 25 but, man, is he talented; signed to Virgin/EMI before he was 16.

Hope you become a fan of Sondre Lerche, too. He deserves a bigger following here in the States. His albums can now be found at any of the better record stores in town (hint hint).

06 May 2008

Say A Prayer For My Future Son-In-Law Now

I shouldn't have asked Flynn what she wanted to wear to her kindergarten assessment tomorrow. She launched into this amazingly fanciful idea that the perfect outfit to wear would be, "a skirt with a jewels here and here and a shirt with jewels all over." She eventually settled for a flowered skirt and a shirt with a puppy on it. Then she asked, "Mommy? Can I wear one of your necklaces? And some earrings?"

Never mind that her ears aren't pierced and that she doesn't own a jeweled skirt.

I relented on the necklace and we went through my jewelry, the bulk of which is composed of costume pieces (I wear my "good stuff" every day - my engagement and wedding rings and diamond stud earrings that were a Christmas gift from my husband). No, she could not wear the Claddagh ring I bought in Galway, Ireland (my family's ancestral home and where the Claddah ring originated). It is precious to me and, besides, it's too big for her to wear. Maybe someday. Ditto on my class ring and my dad's wedding ring that I wear on a chain.

Flynn chose a rose quartz pendant necklace then said in a somewhat effected voice, "I
need to wear diamonds every day. Every. Day."

She wanted to sleep with the necklace under her pillow.

God help the man she marries.

04 May 2008

My Favorite Part In The New Iron Man Movie

Last night Frank and I escaped, leaving my blessed mother to care for our angelic children, so we could see the latest super hero flick, Iron Man.

The movie was excellent - funny, in line with the Iron Man comic book origin, great special effects. Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard and Jeff Daniels are all stellar and well directed by Jon Favreau.

But my favorite part came when Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.'s character) is in his basement lab/garage tooling around with what would become his Iron Man suit. This long lost gem from my adolescence was playing in the background.

"Institutionalized" by punk band Suicidal Tendencies was a song I listened to over and over with my friend Deanna, usually on headphones in the school library during study hall. We loved this band and this song in particular.

The video's not the greatest, but the song's a ton of fun.

Lovable Madness Times Two

I asked my kids, ages 7 and 4 and a half, what it takes to be a good mom to more than one kid.

The oldest answered, "A lot of love and patience."

His younger sister chimed in with, "And gum."

They have a bit more insight into this mommy gig than I thought.

Is it harder, more difficult, to mother more than one child at a time?

Yes, and no.

Yes, you will have to develop more (i.e., new and improved) "Mommy Tricks" for the new addition. You will learn the hard way (at least I did) that each child's energy and personality is different. While you may understand this intellectually and take it to heart, you'll just have to have that hands on experience that only parenting more than one can give. What works for your oldest may not on the next one. Case in point, my first born always needed help calming down. Whenever he worked himself up into a lather, it was impossible for him to come back down without help from me or his dad. What worked for Evan was holding his hands and doing a yoga breathing technique called "bunny breath".

You can imagine my consternation when this little trick failed to calm his sister. If fact, it had the opposite effect: it pissed her off even more. What I had to realize was that she needed time alone to cool off by herself. Now I know just to tell her to "get it together" and she will. The tears dry up, breathing returns to normal, sunny disposition is back, tantrum over.

There will be a period of adjustment. Oh yes. Our first night home with both children was a disaster, then it gradually got better, just as it did when our first was a newborn. Either it got better or we were just beaten down by lack of sleep and trying to keep up with a toddler as well. I tend to be optimistic so I'll say it got better.

But with the gloom (the nit-picky fights, the teasing, etc.) comes the glory. My kids have the ability to cheer one another up in an instant. They developed this system that if one is sad, the other pretends to be the other's favorite animal (a cat, dog, dinosaur, whatever) and lavish the sad child with love and affection. This never fails and they do it instinctively. They protect one another: they've got each other's back, "Flynn don't do that, Mom'll get mad." Sure, they'll rat each other out, that's one of the joys of sibling hood - extortion in the form of love (this is something I experience first-hand with my younger sister, "Don't tell Mom! Here, take this (insert whatever desirable object here)." But their bond is an amazing thing to witness and I give all the credit to them.

Also, make sure to incorporate your older child into the routine of caring for the baby. Give him/her a job to do, like entertaining the baby during diaper changes. And make sure your oldest gets one-on-one time with you. I used to leave Flynn with a sitter and take Evan out for a morning. We'd run errands, go to coffee (he likes a decaf with lots of milk), explore second-hand shops, and end up at Olive Garden for lunch. On the occasional day that he's off school and Flynn's not, we get a smoothie and head for the local nature center for a walk and to sit in the bird room.

So, my advice to soon-to-be-moms of two? I hope you like roller coaster rides, 'cause this one's a doozy (if having one kid's like the Whizzer at Great America [a starter coaster - not terribly thrill-inducing but fun], then the second's like the most terror-inducing coaster you can think of - you'll get puked on and probably puke yourself but it's one helluva adrenaline rush).

And remember to have lots of love, patience and gum (just remember you'll need at least 2 packs, each a different flavor). You'll do just fine. Enjoy the ride.

01 May 2008


When I picked Evan up from school today he said, "I'm really warm."

He looked it, too, all cherry-cheeked and damp hair. I chalked it up to him wearing a long-sleeved shirt and long pants and running around at "3rd recess" right before school was let out. Then he said, "I'm going to take a nap."

Uh-oh, I thought, something's up because Evan hasn't willingly taken a nap in over 5 years.

My mind immediately went to the trials over at the Chicken house. Please, dear God, let this just be some little 'ole virus and not strep. There are only 20-something more days left in the school year. He cannot get sick.

The thermometer doesn't lie: he has a fever. Low-grade but my boy's body regulates its temp like mine does - our regular body temps are not 98.6, but more like 97-ish, give or take a few tenths of a degree. So 99 degrees is a fever.

I'm going to play it by ear, dose him with Motrin, send him to bed early and see how he feels in the morning.