31 January 2009

To Quote The Fairport Convention, "Who knows where the time goes?"

In the span of eight short years he's gone from this:
To this:Frankly, I look at these pictures with disbelief and awe.

How did he get to be so big? He was so tiny, weighing a mere 6 pounds, 4 ounces at his birth, to this beanpole boy who will be taller than his mother by the time he's 10.

Right now he's pouring over his birthday loot, putting together Lego sets and making plans for the Pokemon figures, Playmobil pirates and dinosaurs. And if he had his way, he'd be zooming around the house in his new roller skates.

My first born, my little baby boy, is eight years old today.

Happy Birthday, Evan!

30 January 2009

This Time 8 Years Ago

I was sitting on a hospital bed waiting. Three hours previously, I had been waiting in my OB's examination room. I'd been confined to bed the week before due to high blood pressure. Medication had failed to bring it down so I'd had to go on maternity leave two weeks early, leaving my students with an incredibly idiotic sub (I wouldn't know how stupid this man was until I returned 3 months later to finish out the school year), and succumbed to doctor's orders to lie on my left side. All the time.

I am a naturally fidgety person. I cannot sit still. And, as most of you know, a woman close to her due date is a busy lady; the desire to nest, to insure that everything is ready to welcome the new baby, is strong and hard to ignore.

"You're having this baby tomorrow. I'm admitting you now," my doctor told me.

"Um, OK, can I call my husband?" Frank had dropped me off and gone back to work, planning on returning to take me home after my appointment.

"Sure. Dial 9 to get an outside line."

"Hi," I said, "Guess what? We're having Evan tomorrow. She's inducing me in the morning. You need to come get me and take me to the hospital. Now."

"Uh, OK. I'll be right there," came my startled husband's reply.

Once we had been admitted and I had been installed in our room, I called my sister. Frank and I were woefully unprepared to go to the hospital. I mean, we both thought we had more time since Evan wasn't due to arrive for another three weeks. I had not packed the proverbial bag, the car seat was still sitting in the guest room, the house was a mess.

Katy, God bless her, drove to our home, packed a bag for both of us and clothes for the baby and brought it to us. She would also be with us in the delivery room throughout my labor.

I remember being too anxious to really sleep. Plus, the hospital is no place for restful relaxation.

And so I waited to meet my boy.

My beautiful, beautiful, beautiful boy.

My Evan.

28 January 2009

A Realization

I just came in from shoveling the driveway. Normally, Frank handles these things but since I'm a 'can do' kind of girl and the kids wanted to go out and play I thought I'd tackle the task at hand.

Boy, was that a dumb idea. The act of shoveling was not difficult (I sent my "helpers" on an expedition to find the sidewalk, otherwise they'd help me like they help their dad; Evan throws snowballs and Flynn makes snow angels. Apparently they found dinosaur bones in the snow), but I came to realize the following:

1. I need some serious snow boots. What passes for snow boots for me are really just glorified rain boots and have no insulation whatsoever. Any suggestions?

2. Some snow pants would be nice. My bum is freezing.

3. Our snow shovel is an absolute piece of rubbish. I cleared most of the driveway with a small shovel meant for a child because the end of our adult-sized shovel is pretty much non-existent. Seriously, it looks like it's been held over a fire; it's all ragged and melted, worn away from scraping against the concrete of the driveway.

After about an hour of this, Evan and I had cleared the majority of the driveway (Flynn came in after being out for about 45 minutes). Frank can handle the rest.

Now I sit here, typing away, listening to a song mix for a friend, nursing a well-earned mug of hot cocoa (with lots of tiny marshmallows).

But at least I can pull the van into the garage without getting stuck in the driveway.

27 January 2009

Less Talk, More Rokk

How is it I've lived this long and not heard of the band Freezepop until 3 weeks ago? I was listening to NPR's Weekend Edition, heard their interview and knew I had to have some of their music. I came home and downloaded their 2007 album, Future Future Future Perfect. Smart, occasionally funny lyrics paired with groovy, danceable synth-pop. I am of a mind that the members of this band are around my age and were teenagers in the '80's and, like me, loved The Thompson Twins , Book of Love, and Howard Jones. They're not as dark as Depeche Mode or New Order, or over the top like Erasure but I do hear strains of those seminal bands.

I've been listening to FFFP lately and truly dig it. This song, "Less Talk More Rokk," is the first track and certainly sets the tone for the album. Two of my favorite songs on FFFP are "Pop Music Is Not A Crime" and "Thought Balloon", a beautiful little ballad which sounds like it could be in either Sixteen Candles or The Breakfast Club. "Ninja of Love" is a good one, too, and "Brainpower."

OK, so you can't go wrong with this album. At all.

I'm anticipating more great music from Freezepop.

26 January 2009

An Oldie But A Goodie or The Baby Jerk

This is my favorite Flynn story and has reached legend status in our family. And it's all true.

We had just dropped my mom off after an afternoon of errands. Nana had given Evan, then 4, and Flynn, 2, each a dollar which was burning a hole in their respective pockets. As we drove to the dollar store, the driver in front of me pulled into traffic without signaling.

"Nice turn signal, jerk.", I muttered.

"Mommy? What's a jerk?", Evan asked.

"Well," I said trying to think how I could relate what "jerk" meant in terms a 4-year-old could understand, "a jerk is a person who acts before thinking, they don't think how their actions will effect other people." Or something like that.

All was quiet for a moment, only the musical warbling of The Wiggles heard in the car ("Toot, toot/Chugga, chugga/Big red car...").

Then, Evan said, "Sometimes, I'm a jerk."

I thought this was pretty self-aware for a preschooler.

"Well, sometimes everyone's a jerk," was my reply.

"Flynn's a baby jerk."

Flynn, as indignant as a 2-year-old can be said (because at that point the worst thing Evan could call her was a baby), "I NOT a baby! I a BIG jerk."

25 January 2009

My Big Date

"Mom, remember when Flynn stayed home and you and I went to lunch by ourselves?", asked Evan.

"Yes, I do."

"Can we do that again?"


"Pinky promise?"

"Pinky promise."

This afternoon my son and I ditched my husband and daughter for some quality mom-and-son time. We dined on salad and soup at the Olive Garden, then since it was so close we toured Toys R Us. Evan is a member of their Birthday Club, so he received a $3 coupon, a paper crown and a balloon. The manager even made a special announcement over the store-wide intercom, "Attention Toys R Us guests, we have a very special boy celebrating his 8th birthday with us today. So, if you happen to see Evan walking around with his crown and balloon, wish him a 'Happy Birthday.'" Evan was tickled pink. Of course he walked out of there with a new Pokemon to add to the collection.

Our next stop was a local bookstore where we munched on animal cookies and sipped hot chocolate while perusing the kids' section.

We also ran one brief errand, ordering his ice cream cake for our party with family next week.

In the car Evan said, "Mom, I am so happy I got to spend the day with just you. You're the best mom in the world, even the universe. I love you."

"I love you, too, Evan and it makes me happy that you're happy. I love spending time with you, too."

And I so totally do.

24 January 2009

The Reconciling

Today my son received the Sacrament of Reconciliation, otherwise known as confession, for the first time.

If you aren't Catholic let me clue you in on what this entails: first, you go into the confessional (at our church it's a little room) and then you tell the priest your sins. He forgives you and gives you some sort of penance to do usually involving praying so many "Our Father"s and/or "Hail Mary"s and another prayer called "The Act of Contrition".

Evan took his first confession quite seriously, as did most of the kids in his class. He and his fellow second graders had been preparing for this for well over a month. "I'm not going to tell you what I'm going to tell Father," he told me last week. I said that's fine, that's between him and our priest. "I only want to tell him my mortal sins." For those of you not in the know, mortal sins are super duper bad, like committing murder. Which makes me wonder what Evan considers a mortal sin. He's not even eight years old (yet).

Today brought back memories of my first confession: I was ten and my mom, sister and I were in the process of converting to Catholicism to appease my mom's second husband (whom I will forever refer to as That Drunken Bastard). I don't know why it was so important to him that we convert considering the only time he ever went to Mass was on Easter and Christmas Eve.


Father Wallner, our hometown parish priest was a kindly man. He walked me through the process of First Confession after school one day. I prayed for a while, then entered the confessional which offered the option of a screen between the priest and penitent or face-to-face. I chose to sit across from Fr. W and chat. The area behind the screen was like the set of a 1970's-era TV talk show: a raised platform covered in burnt orange shag carpeting, a little round table covered in various pamphlets between two bucket-style chairs, a wicker lamp suspended overhead, casting a yellow glow over the proceedings. I don't recall the particulars of my confession (it probably involved the average, every day sins kids commit: not being nice to a sibling/friend/parent, not praying, lying to my mom, etc.), but I do know I didn't tell him how much I hated my mother's husband. That was something I knew not to talk about. To anyone, priest or no.

But even though my initial experience was a good one, I've never really liked going to confession. The last time I went was the day before Frank and I were married. And I don't feel guilty for that. Just because I'm Catholic, doesn't mean I believe the Church lock, stock and barrel. I've always felt strange talking to a priest who was supposed to be a stand-in for God, even those priests I've been very close to. I believe that God knows my heart of hearts: knows what I am truly sorry for and loves me regardless. We're squared away, me and God.

But I'm happy Evan feels comfortable enough with our parish priests that he can go to them, confess whatever sins he feels he's committed, and feel better for it. He said he'd go again.

And then we went bowling.

23 January 2009


I've not done such a great job of updating here lately. It's not that I've been super busy or anything, just haven't had much to write about. I've been listening to some good music, not sure if I'm going to finish the book I'm reading, have tons of laundry that needs to be put away.

And I've just felt pretty meh.

Although, the kids (well, Evan) came up with a pretty good one last night.

Here's the set up: When Frank gives the kids a bath he will put his bare feet in the tub and the kids will wash his feet. You can draw whatever Biblical analogies you wish (I'm sure that will give Frank quite an ego boost). It keeps the kids occupied and Frank gets a pedicure in the process.


Last night as the kids were washing Daddy's feet, I hear the following:

Frank: Don't pour the water so high on my leg. I don't want my pants to get wet.

Evan: OK, Daddy Precious Pants.

"Daddy Precious Pants." It still makes me giggle.

18 January 2009

Play List for 8-Year-Olds

For the past couple of years I've made mix discs as party favors for my kids' birthday parties. The play lists usually revolve around the party theme. Past offerings include outer space, science, princesses (including the song "I Wish I Were A Princess" from the original Hairspray movie soundtrack, resulting in a friend silently cursing me as his kids played it over and over and over), and beach music.

This year kinda threw me for a loop. Evan's having a Lego-themed party.

Today he and I put together a play list that incorporates Lego songs (who knew they existed, but a search of MP3's on Amazon revealed 4) with other songs he likes, including several Pokemon songs. Evan's calling it, Music for Legos.

Here's what we came up with:

1. Hey Sandy - Polaris
2. Action Packed - Jonathan Richman
3. The Amazing Spider-Man (the definitive theme to the 60's cartoon)
4. Mach 5 - The Presidents of the USA
5. Pokerap (yes, a rap using ALL of the Pokemon)
6. Awesome Forces - The Aquabats
7. When Worlds Collide (from SpongeBob Goes Prehistoric)
8. Lego Next Level - Oleg Kostrow
9. Intergalactic - The Beastie Boys
10. Star Wars Main Title mix (Evan did his Black Belt musical form to this)
11. I Like To Move It - Sasha Baron Cohen (from Madagascar)
12. 2BA Master
13. Move Any Mountain - The Shamen
14. Lego Boogie - Oleg Kostrow
15. Down Under - Men at Work (because Evan wants to live in Australia)
16. Leave It All To Me - Miranda Cosgrove (theme to iCarly)
17. Energy - Apples In Stereo
18. Pop Muzik - M
19. Buildings & Mountains - The Republic Tigers
20. Mighty Little Man - Steven Burns
21. Pokemon theme (yeah, Evan's into Pokemon big time)
22. Ripped Pants - SpongeBob
23. Underdog theme
24. Spider - They Might Be Giants
25. Speed Racer theme
26. Lego for the Countryside - Oleg Kostrow
27. Got My Own Thing Now - Squirrel Nut Zippers
28 Breakfast Machine (from Pee Wee's Big Adventure)

28 songs clocking in at around 75 minutes. Evan's very happy with it and we hope his friends will be, too.

14 January 2009

It's Below Freezing Out But...

As we passed the big sledding hill on the way home from school this afternoon, Evan got really sulky and pouty saying, "I've been waiting all year to go sledding! Why can't we go sledding? It's not fair those other kids get to go sledding and we're going home."

The kids were desperate to go out and play in the snow; school had been canceled for the following day and they were practically giddy with the prospect of an entire Thursday with nothing to do. So I bundled them up and sent them out. Flynn wore Evan's old snowsuit and even though it's a little big on her, it did the job nicely. She looked so cute in her purple boots, Barbie hat, hot pink mittens and black/red/white/blue snowsuit.

Evan and Flynn had a blast sledding down the little hill in our backyard. I let them stay out a little over 30 minutes then had them come in. The wind was picking up and with the wind chill in the negative degrees, I didn't want them out for very long.

They were all pink cheeks and smiles.
Here's to tomorrow's snow day. Flynn wants to set up a movie theater for her dolls and Evan and I are going to play some Lego Star Wars on the 360.

But we are not going outside.

On a tangential note, Evan wants me to mention that his birthday is coming up. On the 31st. He just wants you all to know. (He's sitting next to me, reading over my shoulder)

10 January 2009

I'm The Mutha' Flippin'

I've had this song, Hiphopotamus vs. Rhymnoceros, by Flight Of The Choncords going through my head lately. It helped pass the time with the 12-year-olds.

Flippin' hilarious.

09 January 2009

Survival Of The Fittest

If Darwin has anything to say about it, most of the kids I taught this week will not reproduce.

At least that's the prayer.

I gave out two detentions today: two boys were being stupid. They left the classroom without asking permission and then proceeded to wrestle over one of the kids' shoes in the hallway. I mean, what the hell? Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

And during the last 10 minutes of the day, the 7th grade science teacher, taking time out of her prep period, popped in to explain some of the extra credit and got nothing but disrespect from this pack of overly-caffeinated 12-year-olds. She finally told them in plain English to shut up (I'm pretty sure she was thinking, "Will you little fuckers just shut the hell up? What is wrong with you?" Or maybe that was just me). I would've cheered for her or at the very least offered up an "Amen, sister!", but I wanted to set a good example for the kiddies.

I have survived the week.

And I want a drink of alcoholic nature the size of a large baby.

08 January 2009

My Heart Goes Out To Middle School Teachers Everywhere

Give me 90 15-17-year-olds over 40 12-year-olds any old day.


I loved teaching high school.

My students, with very few exceptions, were excellent and I'm not just saying that because some of them might be reading this. What I enjoyed about "my" kids was that they were (and still are) incredibly smart, creative individuals. They could (and did) discuss college-level material, asking and answering insightful questions.

But, 7th graders are different animals altogether.

Granted, I'm only with this group of kids for a week. And they are good kids (for the most part), just more prone to fidgeting, straying off track, and just having poor(er) impulse control. I know this is because they are twelve and their brains are still developing.

I KNOW this.

But I am more tired and cranky after a day with this group of kids than I ever was after a full day with high school juniors and seniors, even when I was eight months pregnant.

And one other thing. In all the years I taught high school I never handed out a detention. Never. Not one. Did I give a zero to a senior who cheated on an exam right in front of me? Oh, yeah. Did I turn in a kid who plagiarized an entire research paper (he copied the whole thing from the introduction in the textbook)? You bet your sweet bippy I did. But I never had to give a detention.

I gave one out yesterday and the kid I gave it to practically asked for it by throwing a paper airplane not ten seconds after I told him that if he launched that airplane, he'd get a detention.

Today was a long day, especially the afternoon (I think all of my homeroom class had too much pop and/or sugar for lunch; they were nine kinds of crazy - worse than any preschool class). But I didn't have to hand out detentions, though one class was cruising that way until I started writing down names.

It's not that I don't like these kids. I do. Like I said, they are good kids.

But they are twelve.

TWELVE, I tell you.

Maddeningly so.

05 January 2009

Baby Tooth #2 "Bites" The Dust

About 15 minutes ago Flynn was flossing her teeth while I was drying her hair. All of a sudden, plink, formerly-wobbly baby tooth #2 lands in the sink.

After she brushed her remaining teeth Flynn remarked excitedly, "The toothpaste and my blood made green!"

She's very excited at the prospect of the Tooth Fairy making a return trip tonight.

Planning Ahead For The "Big Day"

My son, who will turn 8 at the end of the month, often has a difficult time falling asleep at night. Like his father and his father's father he has a hard time turning off his brain. Frank has no problem sleeping, but has a tendency to start ruminating on a specific topic and then worry about it, then worry about worrying about it.

The apple does not fall far from the tree.

Evan usually vocalizes his worries, which is good in a way. I'm glad he feels he can talk to us about what's on his mind.


When it's nearly 10:00 p.m. and he says, "Who will I take to Prom?" I have a hard time sympathizing.

Yes, this is what keeps my son awake at night: Prom.

He's worried the girl he's planning to ask will say no and nobody will dance with him.

I assured him that any girl would be thrilled to go to Prom with him; he's funny, smart, very kind and sweet, and cute as hell (I left the "as hell" part out).

Then I told him to go. to. sleep.

Prom is nine years away.

02 January 2009

She's Of A Certain Age

My 5-year-old lost her first tooth last night and while I've long been aware of the "wobbly teeth" it sort of surprised me that Flynn's at that age when her baby teeth will start falling out of her head, pushed out by the teeth that will (hopefully) remain with her for the rest of her life.

The bottom two front teeth have been wobbly for a while now, slowly but surely working their way out of her head. She was really working the wobblier of the two, prolonging the time when her head should have been resting on her "My Little Pony" pillow. About 9:00 (waaaaaay past her normal bed time) she sat up, reached for a tissue on her night stand to soak up "all the blood" (there was maybe a teeny, tiny bit of blood in her mouth but she's all drama all the time). Not long after she stuffed the Kleenex in her mouth, she got this surprised look on her face, spat out the tissue and along with it her tooth. After showing her daddy and brother her little tooth, she placed it on her dresser and finally fell asleep.The Tooth Fairy paid her a visit and left her four shiny quarters, which she is carrying around counting them over and over again.

I predict the next tooth will join its departed neighbor within a week, it's that loose.

01 January 2009

The Best Way To Ring In 2009

Yesterday after a fun-filled afternoon of bowling with my sister, her family and some friends, Frank decamped to the bedroom. He was sick, something he's been fighting since Christmas only this time it was intestinal (ewwww).

So the kids and I readied ourselves for a New Year's celebration that involved a picnic in the family room and Evan eating his weight in shrimp cocktail. After we changed into our jammies, we piled on the couch to watch the peerless Pee Wee's Big Adventure, one of my all-time favorite movies. The kids love the Pee Wee almost as much as I do and I can't think of a better way to welcome 2009 than watching Evan and Flynn dance along to this scene:

When the movie was over we adjourned to my bedroom for a family sleep over.

And I started my first book of the new year just before midnight.

Today we're continuing the celebration by watching the all-day Looney Tunes marathon on Cartoon Network. Frank's feeling much better and is currently building Legos with Evan. Flynn's playing with her new dolls.

So far 2009's turned out pretty good. Hope this bodes well for the other 364 days.