Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Is that a carrot in your pocket or are you happy to see me?

The FurReal horse has struck - she has officially offended and aroused my husband all at the same time.

See...Santa brought this for our daughter this year:


And in case you can't tell from the picture, it stands about 3 feet high and it's mouth moves. And it eats carrots. Not real carrots, but this big, fake carrot that you put in it's mouth and it begins to chomp. And make noises. Like chomping noises. And it will also turn it's head in your direction if you speak and will try to nuzzle with you.

Combine all of those elements with hubby, who was a bit too close to the horse (and minus the carrot) and, well, "Princess (as she's known in our house), decided it wanted to chomp on something else...which wasn't a carrot and was luckily secured behind a pair of sweatpants.

Thus, red-faced hubby showed up in our bedroom exclaiming,

"I've just been violated by a fake horse."

True Story. The End.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Starlight, star bright

While at a friend's house the other night we were formally introduced to the Elf on the Shelf. I had seen the boxes at Hallmark and even the kids pediatrician asked me if we had one, but I hadn't paid much mind to it. That was until my friends told me how magical it was at making kids behave before Christmas! Then, I decided I must have one!

Sunday morning, in the midst of an apparent Nor'easter, I drove myself to the local Hallmark store and purchased an elf on the shelf. I paid more than was necessary, but I had to have the behavior-modification-elf. As I snuck back in the house, I perched him on the hanging light in the kitchen, and then took the accompanying book upstairs to place in the hallway between the kids bedrooms. Then I waited. And waited. And waited. When would the kids notice him? How would I explain his sudden appearance 4 days before Christmas? They were consumed with Handy Manny on TV so there was no shot they'd come into the kitchen. Ah, ha! A plan.


Me: "Hey, guys. You didn't open up your advent calendar."


There is always chocolate inside so I knew that would do the trick! They scurried into the kitchen, opened their calendar and were still oblivious to my little miracle sitting on the light. That was it, I had to draw attention to him.


Me: "Oh my. What is on the light??" Do you see it?"


Abby: "What is it?"


Alex, looking everywhere but at the light: "What? What? What are you looking at?"


Now both kids are clinging to my legs out of fear of some large bug or spider about to descend on their heads.


Me: "Do you see him? I think it's an elf! He must have jumped in my pocket book at Brendan's house and followed us home."


Abby: "I think it's a girl."


Alex: "What? Where? Where?" He was still spinning trying to locate our little friend.


After a few minutes of some searching, Alex finally got a glimpse and then the questions began.


Alex: "Can you hear us? Is he real? What is he doing?"


I didn't want to try and explain the whole purpose of his visit since it was outlined in the cute book upstairs, so I happily convinced them their feet were cold being barefoot so we all needed socks. This Christmas miracle was turning out to be more work than I had thought but once we read the book all would be revealed.


After finding the book at the top of the stairs, we read it together so they would know he can't speak but only listens and watches, and you can't touch him or he'll lose his magic, that he flies to the North Pole each night to tell Santa what good things they've done and then returns to a new spot each morning, and that we had to name him.


They decided on the name Starlight. Abby still insists he's a girl, which is fine. And Alex has stood beneath him and asked him a million questions,


"Do you speak Spanish? Do you go to school? Can you fly up the chimney? Why won't you talk to me?"


Every morning since Sunday, the first thing they do is run through the house searching for him/her. I think hubby is enjoying finding new places for him to hide each night as much as the kids enjoy searching for him. Abby waves to him/her every time she finds herself in the same room as the elf. Alex is still freaked out that the elf's eyes don't move or blink, yet everyone he meets he shouts with glee, "We have an elf in our house!"


I love that I can use Starlight for leverage when the bickering begins. That elf will definitely be making an earlier appearance in our house next year! Thanks for the introduction, Brendan - better late than never :)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

My butt has finally defrosted

At the time we booked our adventure in November, a horse drawn ride through the woods of NH seemed like the perfect way to kick off the official Christmas week. And then a snowstorm arrived the night before our adventure. And the temps dropped to the teens. And the snow didn't want to let up the day of the "sleigh ride" so we drove slowly up to NH. And the sleigh ended up being a wagon full of hay - with no seats - and little hay - and mostly snow - on which I sat my butt upon (in only jeans) that caused the snow to melt and subsequently freeze my ass in the temperatures that hovered around 12 degrees.

So, while festive, the "sleigh ride" was a real pain in the ass.

It was decided that this will be our last trek through the NH woods - until next year when I get the email with the discount code for the holiday lighted hayride and I'll think "it wasn't that bad" - sort of like childbirth - and we'll do it all again.



But the Santa Claus at the end was fantastic, as were the reindeer. But my favorite moment was the characters that were along the pathway, waving to the kids, including a giant gingerbread man to whom my son screamed:

"Hey! Hey! Do you know the muffin man?"

which made everyone forget the frigid temps and hard, hay strewn wagon we were in and laugh at his curiosity. But, he was serious. He really wanted to know if he knew the muffin man - but the gingerbread man just kept waving so we'll never know.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The "bad" word

I rarely, if ever, swear in front of my parents. It's just something we never did in our house. I remember one Christmas morning getting a "boom box" and it came with a ton of batteries and I must have said, "Jesus Christ, do you think you got enough batteries?" That brought Christmas morning to a standstill. Vivid memory.

I'm trying to control the potty mouth in my own family now. There is an occasional outburst, but usually I do okay, so I was surprised when we were out to dinner recently and my son blurted out,

"Go ahead, Mommy. Say the bad word you say when you get mad."

I had no idea what he was talking about.

My daughter chimed in with,

"You mean Cucka?"

(Hey, it's better than "shit", right?)

Him: "Nope. The other words!"

Me: "You mean, Darn?"

Him: "Nope, it's in my head. It's going to come out."

Me: "What is it?"

Him: "Shut up."

Phew! I'm not doing so bad controlling the potty mouth after all.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Excuse me while I dodge this pine tree

I had to head to the office in Western Mass yesterday for two meetings. How did they go? Oh, they were both cancelled by the time I arrived after 2 hours and 15 mins of dodging pine trees and birch remains on the road from the now famous Ice Storm of '08.

We were very fortunate because we never lost power at our house, but only 5 miles up the road in NH there are still homes in the dark, trees in the road, and power lines scattered about. We lost a tree in our backyard, but now we have some extra firewood this season. Anyone know how long wood needs to dry out before you can burn it?


But what amazed me on the drive West was that so many areas looked like they had been cleared to build new homes - the fact that mother nature could spin her fury and snap huge branches like twigs was amazing. Of course my state-of-the-art Blackberry doesn't have a camera so I couldn't grab any pictures on the way out, but imagine the Jolly Green Giant came to town and just started plucking the heads of trees off like the ends of green beans. It was amazing.

My heart goes out to all the families in hotel rooms or cold homes right before the holidays. If you drive South a few miles you'd never know we had trees covered in ice, touching the ground from the weight - but take my word for it - it is quite a mess up here in the Merrimack Valley and Southern NH.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Here's what I'm thinking

Imagine if everything you thought inside your head came out of your mouth? What if it does and you just can't hear it? Wouldn't that be a hoot?

Children tend to say what they think. Two cases in point recently:

Son: "WOW! She's a super, super, skinny, skinny person."

He was absolutely right. She was. And so skinny it looked like an illness and was hard not to notice. She was also our cashier and I had to stand there in horror as she continued to ring up our items after he shouted out his thoughts about her tiny frame.

Daughter: "Mommy...is that...?"

Me: "No honey, it's not."

I knew what she was going to say because every young, fair-skinned black man in a suit is now Barack Obama in her eyes. Every one. He's everywhere.

But it got me thinking about the innocence of my children and the fact that it is up to me to teach them what is appropriate to say and what is not. We've talked alot about how the world is made up of different ages, shapes, sizes and colors and how cool that is - because if we were all the same it would be realllly boring in our world.

But what if you could live your life without ever having those skewed thoughts in the first place, so you never had to worry about what was going to come out of your mouth? I don't think enough of us remember, or care to remember, that we all share this small planet and a human being is a human being regardless of the external factors that set us apart.

I think this holiday season brings to mind how fortunate I feel to have been raised to accept any and all that enter my world. And I may not become best friends or even lasting acquaintances with many of the people I meet, but nowadays it's nice to have a light conversation and smile with all shapes and sizes, colors and genders, fortunate and less fortunate - because the way our world is changing lately the only thing that can keep us moving forward is the fact that we need each other to overcome. Villages can't be rebuilt and strengthened by just one person.

So, instead of keeping your head down while you are out and about this holiday season, be sure to keep it up and say "Hello" to the cashiers working long hours. Your neighbors whose names you may not know. The strangers at the gym, at the mall, at the grocery store. The mailman, UPS driver, FedEx guy. The police officer, small child, tired Mommy or Daddy at daycare. The high school kid at Starbucks pouring coffee, the waitress and the waiter. The teachers, firemen, and co-worker you hardly know. Say "Hello" to an old friend, new friend, or best friend. To the young man collecting grocery carts in the parking lot, or the delivering that pizza after a long day of your own. Just say "Hello" this time of year and don't ignore the human beings that surround you. But remember, if you have an inappropriate thought, keep it to yourself.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The morning after

The kid's family birthday party went over with only minor injuries and two very tired children on Saturday night. They succeeded in getting new crayons, some warm clothes, PJ's, coloring books, movies and a variety of fun toys. However, the most baffling gift for my son was his huge bucket of peanut butter filled pretzels from his Grampy.



The morning after the party he was still perplexed, yet devouring, this unusual gift. When my kids visit my parents in Maine, they run to the cabinet to eat some of Grampy's peanut butter filled pretzels. So, after pulling the large container out of the birthday bag, he ran over to his Grampy and gave him a hug, then pointing his finger at him he said,

"Grampy! You're not supposed to give me food for my birthday. You're supposed to give me TOYS!"

The next morning he looked at me and very cautiously said,

"Mommy, I don't think I like it when people give me food and clothes for my birthday."

To which I responded,

"Of course you like it. It keeps your belly full and your body warm. It would be no fun to play with toys if you were hungry and cold."

"Oh yeah. I do like those presents."

It's so easy to sway the mind of a 4 year old. The 6 year old - that's a whole other story!

Friday, December 5, 2008

My December promise

Finally! The moment I have been anticipating has happened. In 4 days my daughter will turn 6 years old but she just couldn't wait to be *that much older* before she told me that the reason I was sending her to her bed early last night was, "Because you HATE ME!"

It's out of the way, now. She tried her best to play off my inner insecurity that my children won't know how much I love them but it didn't work. I replied with, "I could never hate you. I will always love you. Now get to your room because you are going to bed early for your behavior tonight." The reason I kept my cool as she screeched, grunted and stomped on the way upstairs was because I promised my children that I would not yell a them this month.

The idea came to me when I was driving around and listening to Christmas music and remembering how much I loved the month of December as a kid. All the lights on the houses. The decorations in the stores. Sitting in my living room with all the lights off except the Christmas tree lights. And I decided that I would try my best to not be the raging lunatic I felt like I was becoming lately - job stress, money stress, holiday stress had me all in knots and it came out as shouting 24/7.

By not "yelling" I am referring to the moments when I raise my voice so loud that the neighbors can clearly hear me shouting - for the 800th time - "This is the last time I am going to tell you to pick up all those toys before I throw them in the trash. Do you understand me??" Of course they understand me. Or the moments in the car when my hands are waving erratically and I'm screaming because I can't handle hearing "Stop copying me, Alex" one more time - and the guy in the car next to me can't see the kids through the tinted windows in the back so he just thinks I'm belting out an 80's tune with the radio or that I may need medical attention.

So far, so good on this journey to just talk in a firm voice, issue warnings and then follow through on timeouts, early bed times, or confiscating objects that are creating strife. And they seem to be reacting better to my requests - unless of course if you think your mother hating you is an inappropriate reaction. I think it's quite normal for an almost-6-year-old who wants to be 12.

If all goes well, I may make it my new years resolution, too!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

When crafty isn't so crafty

It's official. I'm a craft-disaster. What started out as a random idea in my head as a great way to use some toilet paper rolls that I had saved for a rainy day, ended up being not.so.fun.or.crafty for anyone. I even dragged hubby into the disaster.

After the first application of glue to keep the felt suits on, my son decided he didn't want to make Santa Claus anymore. Which means - basically - two adults made one of these. I won't tell you which one - but really - can you tell the difference? My daughter went along with it, but kept telling me what she'd rather be doing...which wasn't making my toilet paper roll Santas.

I'll stick to hugs and kisses cuz it's obvious glue and felt just don't do me justice in the Mom department:

My cat hates me

I've always been a dog person. We had a big, furry, fluffy mutt that was part Husky, Collie and God knows what else when I was growing up. So it was only natural that before we gave kids a shot, Hubby and I opted for a "condo size" dog (since we lived in a condo at the time). Then, we proceeded to infuse him with our neurotic behavior to see if he would survive - which he did - so we gave kids a try. And then came a couple of fish, only 1 of which we could keep alive (and it's actually not an original but don't tell Abby) and finally the cat.

Yes, the cat. The cat that would rather not be here in our house, but roaming the woods looking for the next hot kitty daddy to impregnate her (she arrived at the MSPCA pregnant and it never occurred to me that she enjoyed being an outdoor cat). She does resurface on occasion to roam around the house and try to escape through the garage, and then at night she retreats to my daughters bed, curls up in a ball, and sleeps soundly.

So, when I went downstairs to the basement the other day to the playroom where we keep her litter box, I was a little peeved that she didn't seem to keep her tinkles in the box and she didn't bother to cover it up. Damn cat. So I told hubby, cuz cleaning the litter box isn't my thing. He cleaned up her mess, added some litter, and went about the day. Later that night my husband noticed there was more liquid around the litter box and on top of the litter box cover. What the??...it had to be something else.

Him: "Kids! Did you pour water on top of the cat's litter box?"

Daughter: "No! No!"

Son: "No! But I peed in it."

Me: "What??? You peed in the litter box? You don't pee in the cat's litter box. That's her only place to pee..." And I'm sure he heard, "Womp womp, womp, womp".

Apparently, twice that day when he was playing in the basement he thought he'd ignore the fact that we have three bathrooms and just let it go in the litter box, on it's cover, and on our floor. Super. No wonder the cat hates me...I blame her for everything.

But today we seemed to round the corner - and as I sat on the couch, doing some surfing on the 'net, with the kids out at a movie with Dad (2 hours ALONE today), she made her way towards me with a funny look in her eye. Almost like she wanted to hang for a bit. And before I knew it, she was next to me on the couch - not curled too close - but resting close enough so I could hear her purrr...perhaps to say "Thanks for keeping your kids pee out of my box."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

For this, I am thankful...

Happy Thanksgiving.

It seems like forever ago when our efforts to have a baby were futile. We were engaged in 1999 and I immediately went off birth control. I was hitting my early 30's and we decided the commitment was already there so if Baby came before wedding, so what?

Then it was years later and there was no baby - the wedding had come and gone. After research and hesitation we began the process of insemination. And that included the pills, and blood work and early, early mornings in the fertility center. A couple of months later and there was still no baby. So we moved on to shots, and pills and early, early mornings doing blood work at the clinic and still no baby. I remember Thanksgiving Day of 2001 and eagerly awaiting the phone call from the fertility center with the news - was I or wasn't I?

I tried to distract myself the night before learning how Mom made her homemade pie crust. I catalogued the steps to making homemade stuffing and custard pie. I hosted dinner that year and went into the center at 6:30 a.m. for my blood work. The roads were empty and my thoughts were full of hope. And then we waited. And waited. And the call finally came around 1:00 p.m. and the results, again, were negative. And I remember the tears and the hugs on my Mom's shoulder. I was tired. And the strength it took to shake it off and feel thankful that day was overwhelming. Still, I counted my blessings and continued on.

It was 3 months and 1 surgery later before I would conceive my precious girl, only to have her brother conceived NATURALLY almost 2 years later to the date - and with the miracle of God, we have two healthy children, born on the same day, 2 years apart. And now, almost 6 years later, I am forever thankful!

video
video

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Who's afraid of the big bad wolf?

And afraid of the flu mist nasal spray. And of having her teeth cleaned. And washing her hair at Snip-Its. And trying new foods. And bumble bees (ok, I'll give her that one since one got stuck in her curly locks this summer). But I'm at my wits end on trying to find ways to convince my daughter that everything will be OKAY and Dr's and dentists and hair stylists aren't out to hurt her!

We went to the Dr's the other day for the flu shot. They offered us the nose spray. Fantastic! Nope. It's new. Wasn't going to do it. So I asked her if she wanted a shot instead. Nope. Not having any of it. So we flipped a coin to see if she would go first or her brother. Little man won (or lost?) and so he went first. Spritz up one nostril. Spritz up the other. Done.

Her turn. Hands over face. Tears. Screaming. Hiding her head in my arm pit. Kicking. More tears. No matter how hard we tried to tell her the nasal spray was better than the shot, she wasn't doing it. So, after 10 mins of pleading, begging and trying to bribe her, we had to hold her down. It's exhausting and it's ridiculous.

Then, today was another attempt at a teeth cleaning. We went to the dentist all cheery and ready to go. I told her she had to have her teeth counted so they could let the tooth fairy know how many teeth she had. OK, counting went great. Hygienist introduces the cool, spinning toothbrush and that was it. Tears. I asked if she wanted to hold my hand. Nope. Do you want me in the room? Nope. I leave. I listen. Hygienist is sweet as pie. She would not sit back in the chair and give it a try. I come back in and she's done. She won't get her fingers out of her mouth and she's not going to cooperate. I just don't get it.

Her brother hops up next. Counts teeth. Gets plaque removed. Gets brushed, flossed and fluoride treatment. Off he goes with a big grin and a new toothbrush and prize. We asked her if she wanted a new toothbrush and she said,

"No. Because I didn't let her clean my teeth."

So she understand consequence, I'll give her that. I am going to try again in Feb since they won't charge us for her visit today but I really need to understand where the anxiety comes from, and how I can get her past it. It hurts me on all levels, and then it just pisses me off. Then, there are things like the first day at a new school that I think are going to devastate her and after the 3rd day she's telling my husband just to drop her off and stop hanging out in the parking lot with her. Is this my kid??

Sigh. Pinot Grigio, take me away....

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Warning! Dirty house ahead.

G-R-O-S-S! That is the only way to describe my house lately. Dirty. Smelly. Cluttered and Crowded. I knew I had two missions today - get the family to church for the 50th anniversary of my daughter's school and CLEAN MY HOUSE. We did the church mission and it went well. Except Alex cried when I told him he couldn't go receive the "cookie" because he wasn't old enough. Cleaning the house was a whole other adventure. Here is what I discovered in my house today:

1. The scatter rug, by the door, that leads to the garage, that we use to go in and out of the house, could have passed as a new beach there was so much sand in it!

2. As I was crouching down in my small bathroom off the kitchen, it became apparent, boys have really bad aim. Nuff said.

3. I neglect everything below my knees. If it requires me to bend down, I apparently don't clean it. Lower section of the dishwasher door, oven door and floorboards would scare even the roaches away!

4. Dust reappears 30 seconds after you dust. I timed it today.

5. Piles never find homes...they just move to different areas of the house. And get taller. And taller.

6. Hmmm...never thought of cleaning the wood railing leading to the second floor. Even my son was impressed with the "dirt print" on the Lysol wipe I used to run up the railing.

7. French doors are lovely to look at, but more than 2 in your house is cleaning suicide. I have 6 :(

8. Kitchen islands aren't islands, they're landfills.

Friday, November 21, 2008

How to stump Santa Claus

It's official - my Christmas season is underway. Sorry Turkey Day - but since I'm not hosting at my house, I can move right onto Christmas. We met with our jolly St. Nick last night to avoid lines, meltdowns and public drinking (on my part). Too cute (except for Santa's nicotine stained beard):



And our visit didn't come without a million questions for the big guy!

Alex: "How did you get here?"

Santa: "(Missed most of it as he was a low talker)...and then 2 of the older reindeer took me with 6 new ones to help them practice. The rest of the team is resting for the big day."

Abby: "Which two were they?"

Santa: "Cupid and Dancer."

Abby: "I like Dasher and Rudolph. But what was Rudolph's Dad's name again?"

Silence. More Silence. Come on, Mom, you know this one. Spit it out! Poor Santa doesn't have a clue. Chirp, chirp, chirp - crickets. DAMN!!

Santa: "Oh, Rudolph's Dad is busy helping Rudolph get ready to pull my sleigh." Decent recovery - just ignore the question. Very Palin-esque.

Me: "Yup, Let's smile big for the camera so the other kids have time with Santa." Wipe sweat from brow and notice there are no kids in line behind us.

As we meandered through the mall, the questions continued throughout the night:

Abby: "I want to go back because I forgot to ask Santa what the new reindeer's names are. I bet they are Bo, Sean, Mary and Belle."

Me: "Yes, I bet you are right."

Abby: "Oh, and I think he would like chocolate cookies this year. Do you think?"

The magic of Christmas - I love it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tale of two stories

On the way out to take pictures with Santa tonight - cross that off my list - my daughter turned to me and said,

"Oh Mommy, guess what? Ken at school has a brother Sam and a step-brother Aaron. I did not know that you can have step-brothers - so we should get a step-brother, too!"

What I wanted to say was, "If your father keeps pulling the covers off of Mommy at night, there's a good chance you might have a step-brother some day" but I refrained.

=================================================
After our visit with Santa I noticed my son's bottom lip area is getting really chapped. I told him we'd have to put some lotion or chapstick on it when we get home. He said,

"It's okay Mommy. Miss Jenn puts gas on it at school."

Me: "Gas?"

Him: "Yup. Gasoline."

You guessed it - his interpretation of Vaseline.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

PTOhhhhhh

Phhheeeewwwwwwww. Can you hear me letting out the world's longest sigh? I did it. I went to my first PTO meeting. Say, what? I know. Crazy. School has been in session since Sept but it seems all the other meetings fell on nights when I had to travel 2 hours back and forth to my office. But tonight I promised myself I'd go. I'd walk into the school with a smile and listen. Just listen.

I spoke. I spoke. Why would I speak? Ugh. First off I walk in and the school's assistant shouts out,

"Oh hey! It's Abigail's Mother. You know Abigail. The girl who's always in the office."

Principal: "Oh, Abigail. Yes, she spends a lot of time with us, doesn't she? She was telling me today that if you get two check marks on the board in class then 'you're outta there'"

Before you start judging her, she sits in the office every afternoon waiting for the bus to take her to the after school program!!

Then they started talking about the items on the fundraising horizon and the PTO President kept talking to me. Like, right at me. As if no one else was in the room. How could I sit and be quiet?? I felt like I was in second grade and I couldn't see the chalkboard and Mrs. Brown used to keep talking and I couldn't see what was on the board so I didn't know what she was talking about and I would panic and suddenly someone realized I needed glasses!! Sorry - elementary school flashback.

So, I started talking back - since she was only talking to me. I didn't want to be rude! She was looking right at me the whole time. And since now everyone knows I'm Abby's Mom, I couldn't let her down.

Thanks to our intimate back and forth, I have to now convince my new neighbor who owns an Edible Arrangements store to come to our Christmas Fair and somehow I think I'm going to be called upon to wrap Christmas gifts at the Mall to raise money - I am the world's WORST PRESENT WRAPPER!!!! My edges all bunch up and I just slap a bunch of tape on it to keep it from flopping open. I've decided I'm going to volunteer hubby for that one, he does good wrapping.

So, I survived the panic attack on the way over. I was surprised, and pleased, with how well they've done with recent fundraisers - and now, in my mind and in my heart, I *feel* like I'm an active mother for my school age daughter. Working full-time has kept me from some of the things in her school life, but I can overcome my own insecurities and nervousness to get more involved. But I think next time when they ask for suggestions, I may suggest serving cheese and crackers and wine - that might help with the attendance!!

A winning weight

Him: "Mommy, what's this called again?"

Me: "A scale, honey."

Him: "How do you work it?"

Me: "Just step on it and it will show you your weight."

He jumps on and the numbers spin before delivering 35.5

Him: "What does it say?"

Me: "Thirty-five point five."

He is airborne, fists in the air.

Him: "YES! YES! I won!"

Hmmm...wished I liked the numbers that much when I stepped on it!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Twas 39 days before Christmas

When all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The dog was asleep on his dog bed with care,

In hopes that a scooby-snack soon would appear;

The parents were nestled all snug on the couch,

Their bodies relaxed and had started to slouch;

With dad in his sweat pants, and I near the tap,

We had just settled down for a long evening's nap;

When in the back of my mind there arose a sad thought,

We spent the day at the stores and lots of presents had been bought.

It was time to unload all the goods from the trunk,

The kids were asleep and I was getting quite drunk.

So before I dozed off I put down the glass,

And off from the the couch I moved my numb ass.

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a tornado warning, in November, oh dear.

With a flash of the screen and a scrolling red warning,

I knew in a moment it must be global warming.


More exhausted than ever with feet that were aching,

I called to my hubby and said "let's get to taking

in board Games, and kids toys, the movies and gifts!

The big ones! The small ones! The ones we can't lift!

From the back of the trunk to the rooms down below!

Now hide it all! hide it all! hide it all - go!"


As the memories came back from the day on the town,

And the traffic on streets that had gotten me down,

I stopped for a moment and eye-balled the goods,

What the hell was I thinking buying more than I should?



And then, in an instant, I remembered my reason

Christmas time is truly my favorite season.

All the songs and the lights and the tree decorating,

It brings back great memories I want to keep recreating.


And while this year will be a little tighter than most,

I thought it'd be cleaver to share this fun post.

But as the night wears away, and so does my buzz,

I think I will go now and figure what was

in the shopping carts and bags and thrown in the truck

cuz next comes the wrapping and that will just suck.


But before I sign off I'll leave you this thought,

When I look at these bills I think, "That's all I got?"

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Guest blog: A stroll on the beach

My Mom sent this to me today so I thought I'd use her as my guest blogger tonight. I think she's got a future! You never know what fun item you'll find when you stroll the beach:


Every day as I walk the beach I look around hoping to find something interesting, praying in the back of my mind that I never find a body part!!!! Today is no exception and as I was ending my hour long walk on the beach I noticed a round orange object with what looked like writing on it. Thinking of course it was a ball someone had been throwing to their dog I started to continue on and then changed my mind and thought, okay not a body part, I can investigate this further. What it turned out to be was an orange which had been thrown into the Saco River as part of a research project that the 8th grade students at Biddeford Middle School had conducted in partnership with the University of New England's physics department.

My orange, which had been traveling the ocean for a month, hadn't really gotten too far, nor did it land at some exotic shoreline, but at least I was able to email them, as requested, and let them know where it was found. Who knows, I could be on TV (NOT). It was fun finding it and it sure beats finding the things I dread the most. The funny thing is that we remember seeing the coverage on the local news channel. I am attaching the website just in case you want to read it.

http://www.une.edu/ur/news/orangedrifters08.asp

=======================================================

Thanks Mom. The moral: Stop and take a look around in your daily travels. Chances are it's probably not a human bone under your step ;)

If I were a rock star..

Tag, I'm it. This comes from Margaret at Whirlwind. Here you go. Play along, if you'd like - it's fun!


1. ROCK STAR NAME (first pet, current car): Lucky Lexus

2. GANGSTA NAME (fave ice cream flavor, favorite type of shoe): Oreo Ugg

3. NATIVE AMERICAN NAME (favorite color, favorite animal): Yellow Dog

4 SUPERHERO NAME (2nd favorite color, favorite drink): Blue Diet Coke

5. NASCAR NAME (the first names of your grandfathers): Wesley Donald

6. STRIPPER NAME (the name of your favorite perfume/cologne/scent, favorite candy): Peony Reeses

7. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME (your fifth grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter): Haskell Honolulu

8. SPY NAME (your favorite season/holiday, flower): Christmas Hydrangea

9. CARTOON NAME (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now): Watermelon Jeans

10. HIPPIE NAME (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree): Muffin Birch

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wolf in sheep's clothing

I'm not sure if I'm using the right analogy or not, because I'm not really a wolf, but if *they* knew I was blogging right now, their mouths might drop and eyes shift in confusion.

See, I'm at a conference in Boston - an IT conference - and I'm not sure why except my boss wanted me to go - and it's filled with lots and lots and lots of Venture Capitalists - who don't blog - who probably don't really know what blogging is - and just want to find companies to invest in...Pick me! Pick me! Oh, right, I'm not a company.

Anyway, my most recent conference took me to Foxboro to Gillette Stadium, which was a REALLLY cool place to have a conference. And it was FILLED with people on Twitter and typepad and blogger. Boston is cool, but this venue, not so much. Unless you consider the temperature which is FREEZING in here. But what I quickly noticed is that this conference, compared to the last conference, if full of suits. Male suits to be exact. Old Male suits, really. And I am amazingly out of place. I am wearing a beaded necklace...gasp.

Also, I decided to step out for lunch instead of making small talk with suits. As I sat at the bar at a nice establishment in Fanueil Hall, I noticed something: All the patrons there were suits, too! White men in suits!! Cookie cutter versions of each other. How boring?

My saving grace is the glass of wine with friends after this is all done. Excuse me while I go blog on my company site about how fantastic this conference is...hence, the disguise. Living like a sheep is really hard!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Things I learned in Driver's Ed

Dear Random Driver,

Here are a few things I learned in my Driver's Ed class that I wanted to share with you because obviously you got jipped from the place you went since you don't seem to know any of this:

1. When you see a sign that shows the right lane ending, and then the right lane ends, that means you no longer have a lane and you should probably look in your side mirror to see if I'm next to you on the left before you come on over. I'll repeat: YOUR lane ended, not mine. I've been there the whole time.

2. There's a little stick attached to your driving column (that's the steering wheel) and it makes those little lights on the front and back of your car flash so I know when you want to move from side to side. In fact, this little stick can be put on and off with your left hand pinkie - genius. You don't even need to take your hands off the steering wheel, assuming you have them on your steering wheel and not on your iPod, cell phone, CD player, Blackberry or waving aimlessly at the person on the other end of the cell phone! Use the little stick!

3. When you find yourself on the highway and you see me coming up on the left, if you decide to pull out in front of me, you are going to want to be sure you are going FASTER than me. It's funny, but things in motion, stay in motion, so if you suddenly pull out in front of me and go SLOWER than me, there is a good chance I'll be up your ass in no time. Things in motion...nevermind.

4. Red means stop. Red means stop. Red means stop.

Thanks,
The other driver on the road

He's so smart

Last evening I asked my son to try and go potty before bed. He said he didn't have to go. This is our nightly ritual and if we stray from it, we get a wet bed.

Me: "Please try to go potty. You just had yogurt so you'll have to pee."

Him: "Why, Momma? Does Yogurt make you pee."

Me: "Yup. Anything in your belly will make you pee, especially yogurt."

A little silence in the bathroom.

Him: "Mommy! You were right. I am peeing."

Me: "See. I'm brilliant."

Him: "Yes you are. But, I'm really smart."

And we all know "really smart" beats "brilliant" in our house any day!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Over the river and through the woods

Ok, there wasn't a river, but there were woods - and that was what I used to walk through in order to catch my bus to elementary school. This memory came back to me recently with the news of a 9 year old who was told to get off her bus and was left at an unfamiliar bus stop. The bus driver was fired. Thankfully, another students parent was able to get her home, but it got me to thinking about my own "busing" experience.

I didn't have to take the bus until I was in 2nd grade - ironically, I walked the same route to my first school, but at the end of the path it was clamoring with parents and students and a crossing guard. Sadly, it closed down after 1st grade. The bus stop to my new school was now across the street from my old abandoned school, in an empty parking lot, across from a bowling alley and on the edge of "the woods".

Each morning, my girlfriend Tammy and I would walk down our street, around the corner and down a woody slope covered in tree roots that would serve as stairs. I can actually see/feel myself walking down them now. From there, we'd walk about 25 or 30 feet through some woods, out to an open "field", and then down another hill that didn't have any trees or roots to steady our decent. So, in the winter that usually meant we had to slide down the hill like we were qualifying for the luge. I have vivid memories of sending our books down first, and we'd follow at 100 mph. At the end of the hill was the parking lot.

On the way home, that same slippery slope could be muddy or icy and on an occasion felt like Mt. Everest. But that was the commute - and it wasn't a convenient stop at the end of our street, and it wasn't even around the corner, and it wasn't well lit or monitored.

Today, that walk would be unheard of and unimaginable, but we did it, parent-free, every morning. And I when I think of that walk to the bus, I automatically think what has changed in the world? That's a loaded question, right? I watch parents in my hometown gather at the end of streets waiting for the bus to unload their kids. Few of them walk to their houses - most of them jump into a car or get a nice escort home. Through mud, ice, snow or sleet I never expected to be greeted at the bus stop and when I did get picked up, it was a special treat, and probably a blizzard or tropical storm brewing.

My daughter takes the bus now from her school to her after school program and she loves it. It makes her feel independent and grown up. And I don't mind because there is someone to help her get on and someone to greet her getting off the bus - no mysterious woods in between!

Friday, November 7, 2008

I'm constantly thinking in "Blog"

Come on bloggers, admit it. You can't stop thinking in Blog, too. I have always talked to myself, in my head, without vocal words (ok, out loud on occasion) but I've noticed myself thinking in Blog a lot lately. For example, my mind used to think,

"I wonder if the shower is hot."

but now I think,

"As I walked into the shower, I wondered if the water had warmed up to the perfect temperature or if I was going to be scalding myself for the third time this week."

Or when I make dinner I used to think,

"Hmm. Wonder if I have chicken in the freezer."

Now, I think,

"After a long day at work, I was hopeful there was chicken in the freezer that I could quickly defrost and surprise my family with a nutritious meal for a change. They are all starting to look a little round from the processed food binge we've been on."

Laugh...but you know you do it, too!! There is a blog for every occasion and every occasion deserves a blog, even if it's just in your head.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The other man in my life

For over 8 1/2 years we've seen each other almost every day. And every morning, without fail, he gets all excited when I walk downstairs to start my day. It's almost like he's amazed I'm still with him. He sleeps outside the bathroom when I take a shower. He follows me when I go to get something to drink in the kitchen.

And now that the kids are in school and hubby works days, and I'm alone in this house working on marketing plans and press opportunities for hours at a time, he still manages to come running to me when I emerge from my office. You don't get that kind of love in any corporate setting, that's for sure. Most people run away from you when you emerge from your office!

So, I thought it was about time this little guy got noticed. Seems all the glory and the fame goes to my birth children in this blog, but this little man was really the first child I ever took care of. And yes, that's him getting caught up on the furniture - just like the kids - he has two comfy beds in that room but he pushes the limits when he's told he can't do something. Thanks for hanging out with me, Coach! Enjoy the chair today.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I could never be a drug addict

Coming down from the high is just too painful.

After floating until 12:30 a.m. watching the election - after I promised myself to call it quits well before 11:15 a.m. - I awoke to the painful reminder that I stayed up well past my bed time on an adrenaline rush.

So, at noon I am still in my PJ's and slippers. I've tried two cups of CAFFEINE-FREE tea to soothe my election hangover. I've focused lots of energy on work tasks. And then I ate a cupcake with purple frosting and orange and black sprinkles because if I can't kick myself into gear today then I'll let the sugar step in to replace the electoral count high!

At least it looks like there won't be a Super Bowl to worry about this year with the Pats - that would be the next event that would have me sweating, cheering and swearing in front of the TV.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Private Election Party

With a sore throat and a hot cup of tea I planted myself in front of the TV at 8:00 tonight to watch history in the making.

But I wasn't alone. I had my own private election party through the wonders of social media. I joined my Facebook friends and Twitter "tweeters" for hours and laughed, joked, celebrated and shared stories.

For those that thought this was a historic election year because of the candidates, I believe it was historic for several reasons in the way it brought this country together to communicate no matter the medium. I'm still waiting to hear about Nevada's results and then I'll use that phone to call my sister-in-law. Some things need to happen voice-to-voice.

Sleigh rides in Candia, NH

I will be getting a promotional code for 50% off tickets purchased THIS THURSDAY ONLY, NOV 6 for sleigh rides in December at Charmingfare Farm in Candia, NH - right outside Manchester.

If you are interested, let me know via email at "bonnerclb at comcast dot net" and I can email you the code. Normal cost is $20pp and we did it last year and had a great time with the kids.

Happy Holidays!! (I think I just had a little panic attack writing that!!)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Can't you leave it alone?

Little boys and their pee-pees...I guess if I had easy access to an appendage at 4 years old I probably would have felt compelled to play with it constantly, too.

We had a great time with friends yesterday - 8 adults, 9 children and lots and lots of matchbox cars!!! As I uploaded and disseminated the pictures I took from the festivities I noticed (AFTER THE FACT) that my son was caught on camera with his hands down pants, thankfully keeping said pee-pee out of view...but we aren't always so fortunate in places like the supermarket, park or playground.

Little boys and their pee-pees...

Friday, October 31, 2008

When a nugget is not a nugget

Served the beloved chicken nuggets for dinner. Depending on the spend for the month I will rotate between the Perdue Dinosaurs or the supermarket variety. This month I had a coupon for the whole grain breaded Perdue version. I couldn't imagine there would be any difference - just another marketing gimmick to help us Moms pass off chicken nuggets as healthy food.

My daughter took one bite and exclaimed,

"THESE ARE DIFFERENT! I don't like them!"

Are you kidding me? They look, smell, and heat up exactly the same way in the microwave! This was supposed to be my guaranteed night that food would be consumed and there would be no complaining. Apparently almost 6yo can taste the different between completely processed and completely processed in whole grain breading nuggets. I give up.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Language barrier

It's round two of the language barrier - my daughter had this going on a couple of years ago and now it has resurfaced with my son.

Daddy: "Hey buddy. What did you have for snacks at your Halloween party today?"

Him: "I had a got."

Daddy: "A what?"

Him: "I had a got."

Me: "You had a got? What's that?"

Him: "You know. When you don't remember something."

Us: "Ahhhh...you forgot."

Season's savings

Let me know if you have access to a Christmas Tree Shop at "bonnerclb at comcast dot net" or leave a comment with your email and I'll send it along. I have coupons for 20 percent off your entire purchase Nov 10 - 16. Enjoy.

Play by the rules

Ugh. I always play by the rules. One time, my husband and I had pit passes for a NASCAR race in Richmond, VA and they told us to stay together as a group and, with much anxiety, we decided to break the rules and venture off on our own. Nothing bad happened in our travels, but being a rules-addict I obviously remember this moment and must be scarred by it or else I wouldn't have shared it with you.

So when Abby's school sent home the notice that today was picture day and to follow the "Dress Down" section of the student handbook, I rushed to find our copy to read what is said:

Students should use discretion and dress appropriately for "dress down" days. Jeans or docker type pants are allowed. Students may wear ankle length non-baggy pants. Capris are allowed in warm weather...No sweatpants, windpants or skin tight, form fitting capris, jeans or other pants.

Her: "I don't want to wear jeans today. I want to wear a dress."

Me: "It's sort of chilly for a dress plus the handbook said jeans or dockers."

Her: "Awwwww...I don't like pants."

Me: "You have a pretty sweater on for your pictures today and we won't even see your jeans. You look beautiful."

I was on drop-off duty this morning since hubby had an early meeting at work. All the girls in her class were wearing dresses.

I suck at being a Mom.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Turning hate to love

Late last night I wrote a draft blog about what I see as the resurgence of hate in our country. 7 year old murdered. Anchorwoman murdered. Neo-nazi's planning assassinations. Then I tried to sleep last night. And I couldn't. I not only had a bad day at work but I had a bad feeling about our nation. And then it occurred to me...turn the focus from hate to love.

So, today I decided to trash my post and write about the lovely things that happened yesterday. Like how my daughter has her first set of rosary beads from school and at night she wants to do her prayers and always starts with,

"I Pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America."

I tried to explain it's not a prayer, but since that is how they start their prayers each morning at school, I was told I am wrong. Quietly, I listened to her run through her prayers and I smiled. She only sees the good in this world.

And how my son was getting a candy out of his candy jar of Halloween candy from our fall festival this weekend and quietly he exclaims, "Mamacita" as he was digging to the bottom for his favorite taffy. I asked him what he said and he had a big grin on his face and explained,

"At my new school, Miss Karen says 'Mamacita' when we don't take our naps."

It was his soft, innocent voice exclaiming Mamacita that had all of us laughing around the dinner table.

And then when we carved our pumpkin for Halloween, my son put his hands inside the pumpkin and quickly pulled out his hands.

Him: "Mommy. I think I need gloves. Can I have gloves?"

Me: "Absolutely not. Get your hands inside and pull out that pumpkin spaghetti."

Within minutes his arms and elbows were covered in pumpkin.



Life will get me down. My kids will always bring me back up.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Welcome to the jungle

When we bought our current home we were pretty excited that they had completed the basement as a play room. My husband had worked tirelessly one summer at our other house to finish the basement and we really didn't want to let that extra space go when we moved.

So yesterday when the kids were overtired, overextended and over-juiced from a busy day at the local fall festival, I sent them to the basement.

I explained, again, that it is their room and if they want to play horses, fix pretend doors or play house, that they had a whole room downstairs in which to explore their inner child.

About an hour later, when I went downstairs to retrieve them for dinner, my mouth dropped. Not only was there a pile of misc. train track pieces at the end of the stairs but when I peeked around the corner into the room, it looked like an earthquake had hit our home. Every bucket, basket, dollhouse, train table, couch cushion, book, pipecleaner, art supply, dress-up outfit and toy had been dumped out and was scattered (or piled!) all over the floor.

I saw red. Then black. Then red again. I was furious! I felt my blood pressure rise, I got hot and then I was finally able to speak. I don't know exactly what I said, but I know it was loud and my husband came running down behind me. After threatening to take trick-or-treating privileges away, the clean up began.

I say this alot to friends and family, but I just go so sick when I see how much "stuff" my kids have. I'm totally to blame, but when we have clean up exercises like this it just makes me feel like there is no sense of appreciation or respect for gifts - nor do they understand what it could be like without all that "stuff". It's an internal battle I have with myself, but on this particular night at least I was able to vet out the Burger King and Happy Meal toys and throw them away. There was some satisfaction in that. If I never see another digi-toy or Disney movie character made of hard plastic, I'll be thrilled.

The basement looks great now. I think if this happens again, EVERYTHING will go in the trash and I'll have a nice little entertainment room downstairs with a full bar and wide screen TV - for adults only!!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Republicans beware

If you aren't enjoying the SNL skits at the expense of McCain/Palin, then you won't enjoy this - I found it hysterical:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Only $3 a week

Ahhh...layaway. I saw a TV ad last night for layaway services at Wal-Mart**. It showed a happy woman picking out a bunch of toys, giving them to the layaway agent and then picking them up before Christmas with snowflakes flying in the air. Seriously...an ad for layaway.

I vividly remember using layaway as a teenager in the 80's. I'd go pick out that perfect pair of Calvin Klein jeans (that were overpriced then, too) give the store $5 to hold them on layaway for a month, work extra shifts at the restaurant to get enough tips to release my dream jeans to my closet, and marvel at my purchase that only took 30 days to accomplish. It was the American way. If you couldn't afford something, you put it on hold until you had the cash in hand, then it was yours. Very motivating.

So after this ad I thought about why I hadn't used layaway in my adult life. Seems brilliant when you think about it. And then I realized why - because I now have credit cards. And I could take home the goods right away. And pay $5 a week over time without having to visit my jeans every week because they'd be in my closet. But when I think about it, I don't own some of the things in my house - Chase Bank and Capital One does.

No wonder our country is in such a economic crisis - if only we all stuck to layaway - thanks Wal-Mart for the reality check!!!

**just saw it again...it was K-Mart, not Wal-Mart...oops.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Shopping directory

I'm going to make pea soup tonight. That might excite or gross some of you out, but it is a childhood meal that my Mom would make with the leftovers of a boiled dinner - which if you aren't part Irish and a fan of boiled meats you probably wouldn't understand. However, I made one on Sunday and now I have lots of left over ham.

This will be my first endeavor with a homemade soup other than chicken noodle/rice/tortellini and the chili variations. At the store today I had no idea where to find my split peas for my soup. I sort of stood in the middle of the supermarket with a blank stare that blatantly shouted "Out of her element!"

Then, I noticed an elderly woman at the end of an aisle holding a laminated, yellow list hanging from a chain in her hand. What was that thing? By God it was a directory of everything in that aisle!! An index of what could be found on the left and right. They were at the end of every aisle. I have been shopping there for 7 years and have never seen (noticed) that little gift at the end of each aisle. I usually walk slowly up and down, turning my head slowly, and hoping the big, green sign that lists 6 things like "Hot/Cold Cereal - Coffee - Tea - Canned Fruits" will be enough to trigger my memory of what I needed.

Just then I remembered where they moved the Goya beans to and off I went. Who has time to read a laminated list, anyway?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

This was supposed to be MY sick day!

Nothing like following a week of endless business travel with a week that starts with the stomach bug. Last night at approximately 9:30 I felt like my insides were going to explode - funny, cuz that is sort of what happened. I actually slept great, once I fell asleep, but had decided in the morning that I was either going to sleep in late after the kids left for school or "call" in sick.

Well, my daughter beat me to the punch this morning by complaining about a sore ear before she even had breakfast, and I could tell by the way she was acting it wasn't something to ignore. She had been stuffy and clearing her throat for a week or so, and that normally indicates an ear infection is on the way. She has tubes and went ear infection-free for 3 years but this summer they seemed to kick back into gear.

So, I got my icky, growling, rumbling, gassy, uncomfortable stomach out of bed this morning, did a shot of Pepto-Bismal and shuffled her between Dr visits, the pharmacy and actually off to school (kindergartners don't want to stay home like 4th graders do). By the time I had a few minutes to relax for myself it was already mid-afternoon and just about time to go pick both her and her brother at daycare. To top it off, she seems to have contracted my stomach bug as she ran to the bathroom with stomach pains before bed and basically mimicked my evening last night. I'm sure she'll sleep great tonight but may not feel so great again in the morning.

So while I officially called in sick to work today, there was nothing about my day that constituted a sick day. They are supposed to be spent napping on the couch in between watching Ellen and heating up a bowl of soup for lunch. I'd try again tomorrow except I have one problem - I have to catch up on all the work I missed by being out sick today! Off to get the Pepto-Bismal...

Friday, October 17, 2008

How do you see yourself?

I'm having a blast being in kindergarten. Here is why:





This was an exercise in what my daughter likes about herself. A few things to note:

Item #2 says "play basketball" - she's never really played a day in her life. Not one game. There is a net in our neighborhood that she occasionally tries to shoot the ball into but that's it. Maybe that's a subtle hint I should find out if I can sign her up some place.

She took the time to put the roots on her tree. How funny!

Lastly, it's so colorful. Just like my little angel.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hello Blog, can you hear me?

I have been on the road all week. Long trip to Foxboro and long trip back. Then, this morning I was up before the sun driving my tired, aching buns to Amherst where our office is located (2 hour trip), stayed for 5 1/2 hours then had to drive back to pick up the kids at daycare - so that was 1 hour south, 1 hour north, 2 hours west, 2 hours east.

During all this quality "alone time", all I could do was observe my surroundings on the road and create a million blog posts in my head. And I would recite them out loud. Like my blog could hear me and take notes. Like it could magically post them for me. I'm going to invent that capability.

So, I'm sorry to say, I am too exhausted to tell you about the gorgeous fog that sat quietly on open fields with backdrops of red, yellow and orange that I saw out in Amherst this afternoon...or the amazing sound of the military cargo jets (planes, airboats) that were flying just above the clouds but were so loud you could have sworn they were landing on the roof of your car. And I'm ready to go to bed so I won't tell you about the most disgusting "big boy" wrap I had at lunch that included chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, feta cheese, ranch dressing and curly fries all wrapped up - yes, that's right - the fries were IN the wrap. And after the utterly exhausting week I've had, it was DELICIOUS!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I'm not so much into pastels

I left Monday night for a work trip and returned today at 3:00 and my neighbor's house went from a steel blue-gray color (albeit chipping and flaking) to Pink.

That's all. Just had to share that my neighbor's house is now pink. Abby will love it. Sigh.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Party like it's 1982

I'm at a conference at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA. What an amazing stadium. I haven't' been here since the 90's when I saw U2 in concert. There is now a Victoria's Secret and Aeropostale in what used to be the dirt parking lot!!

Back to the conference...it is all about how marketers, like myself, take advantage of "new marketing" which is loosely defined these days but includes bloggers, "tweeters", and anyone using anything besides TV or traditional means to advertise their message.

In the middle of my day had a wake-up call about the generation now known as Digital Natives, Millenials or Gen-Y. Anyone born between 1982-2002 now falls into that category. Anyone born before 1982 is known as a Digital Immigrant. I'm nauseous - and an immigrant. There were 4 "Digital Natives" that presented today. Let me regurgitate their presentation for you all:

  • they are self-centered

  • they are used to getting what they want

  • they are told they can be anything they want to be

  • 1 in 3 believe they will be famous

  • they don't remember life before the Internet

  • they expect instant gratification

  • if you are a phony online, they can tell and they resent you for it


  • When I realized I was on the cusp of being able to be the mother of one of these presenters, I became pretty depressed. Self-centered. Used to getting what they want. We can't blame the Internet or technology on that - we can only blame the upbringing these "kids" have had - if my generation and the generation before had provided realistic expectations to them when they were younger and had told them they could be anything they wanted IF THEY WORKED FOR IT then maybe I wouldn't have felt like slapping each of these 21 - 26 year olds that presented. It was an incredible wake up call. My parents always wanted life to be better for me than what they had, but they never instilled this sense of selfishness.

    I'm worried and wondering how we fix it. How do we stop the madness and remind our kids that they are worthy, but only if they respect, protect and appreciate the world they that have been raised in - because in all honestly we aren't on this earth that long and we don't 'own' it, we share it with everyone else on this planet?

    I challenge Moms to keep their kids grounded and humble. Life is too short to think you deserve only the best because sometimes life can, and should, disappoint you.

    Monday, October 13, 2008

    The grass is always greener: a true story

    I use blogging as an outlet to get the things that are stuck in my head OUT of my head. I only have so much space in there and I will relive moments over and over unless I share them. And since I don't work in an office where I can gather around the water cooler and chat, this blog has become that outlet. So here goes:

    We had a block party in our neighborhood this weekend. We've never attended one before because it's usually Labor Day weekend and we spend it up North at the beach as a wrap up to summer. Somewhere along the way, I convinced the neighbors to push it out a bit and we decided on Columbus Day weekend. It was a huge success. Food from every continent arrived - who knew our neighborhood was so ethnically diverse. And I shook hands of people that I normally only wave to as they drive by my house.

    What ruffled my feathers wasn't directly related to the block party but was a revelation that was made after a few beers later in the evening around a firepit long after the kids were asleep. Apparently, I come from money. Something I was unaware of. I wonder if my parents know?

    I'll fill you in...

    When hubby and I decided to sell, and buy, at the high end of the real estate market in 2004 there were lots of options for us. We were both working full time and doing quite fine - not great - but fine. We knew what our mortgage *could* be, but we also know what we *wanted* it to be. Since I was preggers with #2, we were trying to avoid anything outrageous and we were both raised in middle-class neighborhoods as kids and we wanted that for our children. He grew up in ranch home and I grew up in a cape. Certainly, not in a 5,000 sq. ft "mansion". And not by hot-shot executives at big firms in Boston who were never home (which I love about my parents, I might add).

    We liked the overall location of our town so we set out for that perfect neighborhood. Our chooses came down to two neighborhoods. The fantastic cul-de-sac we live in now, or a newer development with brand new homes and manicured lawns. Instantly, I thought of headlines in the paper about wealthy children left home alone while the parents trot about the globe and how heroin and Meth is the drug of choice in the basements of those large homes. How would my kids feel when we actually stayed home during February vacation and didn't head off to London to shop for a prom dress? I may be exaggerating a bit, but just the pressure of the landscaping had me running scared.

    I can honestly say that I love that our neighborhood is all different styles and sizes of houses. You can stand in your driveway and talk to your neighbor from your porch and the mailman stops at every house to chat. Here comes the ironic part...

    My SUV and sense of "style" has intimidated my neighbors and many of the other mom's shy away when I come around with the kids because they thought I came from money. I'm still digesting this information and really haven't decided how I feel. The kicker is, I don't shop on Newbury Street in Boston, but at Ann Taylor Loft and Marshalls up the street. I buy designer bags a huge discounts from TJ Maxx. I am afraid of malls and the prices of the things in them. And I've had my Lexus RX for 4.5 years and we'll probably run it to the ground at this point.

    So while I was afraid that we'd be unwelcome in a neighborhood of manicured lawns and sprinkler systems without a 24/7 landscaper, it ends up that the neighborhood I can relate to best has been just as judgemental.

    I think I cleared the air with the ladies. I was happy to hear that while many thought I was a bit unapproachable, not once was I ever categorized as snobbish or rude or condescending. In fact, everyone really likes me...I guess I have to keep comfort in knowing I'm not the spawn of the devil in their eyes, maybe just a little too confident. Go figure.

    I won't apologize for working hard and paying off thousands of dollars of student loans to be the first in my family to have a college degree. I won't apologize for working my way through a company during a time when jobs were just as hard, if not harder, to come by than in this market. And I certainly won't apologize for rewarding myself with a SAFE, reliable car for me and my kids.

    I can only be who I am and that's the best I can give. I think it's enough.

    Friday, October 10, 2008

    I refuse to over-commit

    I'm getting a quick lesson in formal education. It's called "notices". Every day my daughter announces she has more papers in her folder when I go to pick her up.

    Let's see. We've been offered 3 different ice skating programs, 2 gymnastics, 1 karate, several hockey clinics and soccer, soccer and more soccer.

    My husband looked at our kitchen calendar the other day and exclaimed,

    "Whoa. What's all this?"

    It looks like a ball point pen has thrown up all over our calendar with all the scribbles I've made trying to just keep up with "school" related things, forget any "out of school" things.

    We have the Pie fundraiser money due, the stride for pride walk pledges due, we need to send in newspapers for 'make a scarecrow' day at school, we have the Friday night PTO movie night, the preschool Halloween party (need to remember to buy Cheese Puffs for that) and I think I'm supposed to crave BBQ ribs at Texas Roadhouse next week since a portion of the bill goes to the school.

    See what I mean? These are just school related things. How could I ever add more into the mix, especially when I just got hubby back on the weekends??

    I know kids love to be challenged and stimulated and all that "well-rounded child" stuff, but for right now, my almost 4 and almost 6 year old have more than enough going on in their lives. I'm sure I'll be at the soccer field, hockey rink or baseball park soon enough. But for this winter, I'm hanging onto a little free time to visit family and friends on the weekends. I just can't seem to give that up - and quite frankly, the kids enjoy it, too.

    Thursday, October 9, 2008

    Wall Street insight

    I'm not a financial advisor, expert or consultant but this article on TheStreet.com seemed to make a lot of sense to me - now if I only has some spare pennies to actual invest and retire a wealthy lady some day!

    Howl at the moon

    I'm so glad it's chilly out and the windows aren't open in our bedroom at night anymore, because I'm certain neighbors would have called 911 last night at approximately 12:25 a.m. citing the strange noises emerging from our room.

    Get your mind out of the gutter!

    Now that hubby isn't working nights I've been able to fall asleep without any problems - SOUND asleep - the kind of sleep that you wake up a few minutes before the alarm clock in the morning and think, "What a great night sleep!"

    However, last night at 12:25 a.m. that deep sleep contributed to that painful moment when you are having a nightmare and all you want to do is scream, only you can't get the noise out...unless you are me. Then the noise comes out. And it sounds like the most excruciating HOOOOOWWWWLLLL you ever heard. Only it wasn't a nightmare that triggered last night's vocal outburst, it was a picture in our bathroom smashing to the tile floor. The sound of shattering glass woke hubby and I straight up, only my mind (or mouth) wasn't in sync with my body and words were not to be had - only moans and screeches. And hubby's hands were flailing to try to get me to stop my outrageous outburst so I wouldn't wake the rest of the neighborhood - which created the most hysterical image in my head.

    Luckily, no small children or animals stirred during the chaos and I laugh about it now - and actually laughed hard last night - to the point of tears - as I replayed it in my head. The kind of laugh I also get after I smack hubby unknowingly in the middle of the night and apologize profusely, only to crack up 30 seconds later at the thought of what I just did.

    I think I'll be a werewolf for Halloween. I seem to have the voice for it.

    Wednesday, October 8, 2008

    250 pieces - just to be safe

    During a trip to BJ's today to fill up on super cheap gas (20 cents lower than the guy around the corner!) and grab a pound of American Cheese ($2 per pound lower than the supermarket up the street), I patted myself on the back for being so economically responsible during a time when responsibility rarely seems to be associated with anything economic - take the AIG buffoons for example. I digress.

    As I was loading up on the items on my list I couldn't help but feel the panic set in that if I didn't pick up Halloween candy NOW it would be gone on Oct 30. Does anyone else remember bare shelves the days before the doorbell started to ring and the rush of panic that you'd be handing out sandwich bags full of Lucky Charms because it is the only "candy-like" thing you have in the house? Maybe that's just my wacky world, but the first year we moved into our house there were kids by the carloads roaming the neighborhood. Forget the fact that it was about 65 degrees outside that night, it seemed like Halloween had once again become the best holiday next to Christmas. I was thrilled. There were a bunch of new neighbors that had moved in with small children and I had a tear in my eye as I waddled around 7 months pregnant with my almost 2 year old and enjoyed every moment of the festivities.

    Things seemed to have calmed down a bit over the past couple of years, but I still managed to grab two bags of 125 piece candy to have on hand. I doubt all of that will last to Halloween with my sweet-tooth husband in the house, but at least if I grab a smaller bag at the local pharmacy right before Halloween I know I'll be okay.

    Friday, October 3, 2008

    Hello my furry friends

    It's chilly. No, it's cold. Our house is cold today with the New England winds whipping and the clouds back in the sky. Sigh. So, I have succomb to the fact that it is that time of year when we put the shorts and t-shirts away, however hopeful I am for one or two more 80 degree days, and pull out the sweaters and long pants - and my new found love - my UGG slippers.

    Hello my soft, comfy, can-wear-them-as-shoes all season long, slippers! I don't usually splurge on shoes - although this summer I sort of got caught up in the madness at TJ Maxx - but this one investment last year has been my favorite by far. You won't catch me trying to pull off the Hollywood-UGG-boots-with-shorts look because, well, I think it looks ridiculous and I live in MA not CA - but you will catch me in these fabulous slippers that have a practical, and important, role in my life - to keep me nice and warm! And with heating prices the way they are I'm prepared for more cold days in our house. I'm just waiting for the UGG body suit to keep the rest of me warm - bring it on you Aussies!

    Thursday, October 2, 2008

    Blogging's not just for Mamas

    Got hold of a great site from a colleague who started Dadomatic to show that it's not just Mamas who can offer up some good parenting advice.

    Thanks Chris!

    Wednesday, October 1, 2008

    Spanning the decades

    In 2001 hubby and I left a very active lifestyle outside of Washington D.C. and moved to the suburbs of Boston. Jobs accommodated our move and we were happy to be closer to family.

    However, adjusting to living 25 miles outside of Boston, and with no friends in the immediate area, had its moments and while we found a nice little hole-in-the-wall in our neighborhood that served greasy food and cold beer, we still missed the social network we'd created "down South".

    Several months after the move, and in the midst of fertility treatment, I had had enough and decided to create a new social network of my own. I also decided that if I wasn't to have a child then my eyebrows shouldn't suffer and headed out to get an eyebrow wax - ok, that's not what I decided at all - but focusing on beauty worked as a distraction to my 6 a.m. blood work, bloating body and monthly shots.

    That's when I stumbled into a quaint little salon called Lavender's where I was greeted with a heart-warming "HELLO!" I proceeded to book appointments to care for my face and soon after was lured into regular manicures. And all the while I would listen, and sometimes talk, and found out where the best bakery, sub shop and Italian deli's were in the area and even found my kid's pediatrician and real estate agent there. It kept me sane to have those bi-monthly appointments and share in the laughs.

    Lavender's has since closed, and I went on to hire the owner at my last job, and over the course of 7 years I have created some great friendships with the people that frequented there. In fact, every month or so, 4 of us get together for dinner and drinks and laugh the night away. We are from different backgrounds and span 4 decades with a woman in her 20's, 30's (me), 40's and 50's. Tonight we will celebrate our 29 year old as she moves into the next chapter of her life as she hits 30 and I will soon hit the 40's club. But no matter our ages, I will always cherish how they opened their lives to me and have shared in not one, but two pregnancies, a move across town, 2 (or 3) new jobs and lots of fabulous moments in between. I love my Lavender ladies!

    Girlfriends are the best and hold dear the ones that keep you grounded, silly and certainly loved!

    Tuesday, September 30, 2008

    Economy in ruins is saving the planet

    I won't harp on this whole "bailout" thing, because quite frankly I could use a little less credit these days to keep me under control - Christmas season is approaching and my credit card companies love me this time of year!

    I will make one observation - I used to work in the Direct Marketing Industry and I would tell people junk mail was an indication that our world was getting more targeted and the right people were finding you through the mailbox instead of the inbox and I liked that - I loathe spam.

    Until one day I counted how many invitations by mail I got to apply for credit - whether it be credit cards, home equity loans, car loans, you-name-it. And then I realized I had more credit than I possibly needed and these people didn't know a thing about me! There were days when close to a dozen pieces of mail would arrive ready to consolidate all my bills by including the blank checks, along with pre-approved notices from American Express Blue, Green, Purple and Silver. But in the past few months I've noticed something. More catalogs are arriving (back to the Christmas season) but a lot less invitations.

    So, Thank You failed credit market for helping to both freeze up the banks offering loans and credit, and saving the trees by cutting down on the number of solicitations I get each day. If you continue to spiral downward, we may all have empty mailboxes some day and that would certainly be best for the planet.

    Monday, September 29, 2008

    Bye Bye Polka Dots

    I realized today that I seem fairly committed to this blog, so I decided to give it a facelift since I'm unable to step away from the computer, or work, to enjoy a Diet Coke break on my front porch due to the unshakable, autumn-ruining, inclement weather!

    So, bye bye polka dot template! They were giving me a headache, anyway. I love green and this seemed much more calming - but I doubt that will have any effect on my world outside of this blog.

    Happy Monday!

    Be 25 years younger in an instant

    Think this post is about some miracle drug or fountain of youth? It's even easier than that!

    Strap on a pair of quad skates and hit the rink! Yup, rollerskating under the disco ball with the Top 40 music blaring.

    My daughter's school had their first PTO sponsored event last night at the local rollerskating rink in Haverhill and boy was it a good time! I know hubby and I had a ton more fun than the kids, but I was amazed at how HARD it was to jump back into the laced up boots and make it around the shiny, wooden floor. I used to rollerskate religiously on Saturday mornings as a kid. Luckily, I only hit the floor once as I re-introduced myself to the wheels - and it wasn't really a hit so much as a "whoops, I'm losing-my-balance-put-knee-on-floor-so-as-not-to-knock-down-5-year-old-daughter-in-process-now-how-the-hell-do-I-stand-back-up-without-crawling-over-to-railing".

    My son made it around once and declared, "I want to give these back to the man" as he began un-velcroing his skates. That's okay buddy, I'm sweating from trying to hold your sister up after one go-around. Guess hockey isn't in his immediate future.

    In the end, Abby picked it up okay, minus a little frustration watching the inline skaters doing circles around us, but I think we'll add it to the list of family activities. Hubby and I each took a couple of laps by ourselves, reminiscing about our youth and trying hard to look cool and confident.

    My spirit felt 13 again, but my legs definitely felt 39!

    Sunday, September 28, 2008

    Honey! Your son has something to share

    It's official - my son is obsessed with his body parts. It's okay because he's only 3.9 years old and I'd rather he get it out of his system now, than in say 10 years when the therapy bills would drain our savings.

    Me: "Be sure to wash good in the shower. I'll be back in a minute."

    Him: "Mommy! Wait! Look," as he holds his wee-wee in one hand and his nuggets in the other, "look, there are little baby pee-pees waiting to grow."

    Me: "Yup, be sure to wash up good."

    I had no response ready for that one...where's my husband when I need him?

    Friday, September 26, 2008

    Twisting the night away

    Warning: it is a rainy, lousy weekend so I could be bloggin' for DAYS if this weather continues.

    Now that hubby is home on weekends I thought it would be a good idea to institute Friday Family Fun Nights - or Fun Friday Family Nights - or something like that because I can't really remember what I originally called it.

    So tonight was our first "FFFN" and I sent hubby to the store to buy Twister. FFFN has a few rules that need to be followed:

    1. The whole family (excluding animals) must be able to participate in the event.
    2. TELEVISION OFF - this is not FFF "movie" Night.
    3. If tears start, well then we've lost one of our F's and we stop to fix the problem instead of escalating it into "frustrated".
    4. Try with all our might to keep our Friday's open.

    I have to say, our first attempt was pretty fun. We didn't play by the rules - having a 3 year old who can't reach from Blue to Green because he's only 37" tall makes it tough - but even with our abridged version the kids laughed, we laughed and I think I actually got a little workout from it.

    I'm always open for ideas for our FFFN so if you have something to suggest, send it along. We have a list on our whiteboard of things we want to do. Abby is all about trying ice skating one Friday - wait until we do it and she realizes ice is slippery.

    I haven't slept in 3 years

    I'm afraid of the dark - sort of. I am pretty blind (and wore glasses JUST LIKE these when I was younger) so the fact that it's dark at night and I have to take my glasses off at bed time means that when my son enters my room at 2:30 a.m. to inform me he's peed the bed, again, I usually lunge at him in karate-chop mode, but he's gotten used to this.

    I also don't sleep on weekends. For the past 3 years or so, hubby has worked the 3rd shift on Sat/Sun/Mon nights which has left me with the two kids and my phobia for the dark every weekend. Usually by Tuesday night I am so exhausted I am in bed by 9:00 to catch up on my 3 sleepless nights.

    Every Saturday around 8 p.m. I begin the same conversation with myself,

    "Hi self. Tonight you are just going to go to bed and relax and fall asleep. No one is going to climb in the window and murder you. Burglars don't aim for houses with shining street lights in front of them..."


    Then around 9 p.m. I have a new conversation,

    "Hi self. Me again. I know...I have an idea. Go to bed now. That way you can lay awake for a little while and watch TV in bed. Yeah, that will work. Then you'll just drift off."

    And by 10 p.m. I am locking the house down like it's FBI headquarters, checking in the garage one more time to be sure no one is lurking under my car, staring out front for shadows and begging the dog to bark if he hears anything during the night so I can find my glasses and at least see my attacker heading towards me. Then I go upstairs and listen to every possible noise the house makes as it "settles" and convince myself someone is wandering around on the first floor ready to make their move.

    Am I nuts? Yes. But all I know is hubby is finally moving to the day shift next week and I CAN'T WAIT to sleep on the weekends again!!!! Turn off the lights and unplug the night lights!! I'm ready for the dark.

    Wednesday, September 24, 2008

    What's a puppet without all the parts?

    My son proudly removed his paper bag puppet he made in school today from his backpack. He had colored the arms, legs and face all black. And right in the middle of the bag was a red, oval like object that I assumed was a belly button gone awry.

    "Let me see your puppet. Wow, that is nice!", I said.

    "Yup. And that is my pee pee."

    So much for my belly button theory. An anatomically correct paper bag puppet. Excellent.

    Drunken Mom for hire

    I don't get out as much as I used to. In the mid-90's it seemed that I spent every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at some engagement or at some local bar immersed in lively conversations, interactions and reactions. Now...not so much.

    So last evening when my company (small company I might add) hosted dinner for some "blokes" visiting from the UK, I seemed to revert back to my pre-Mom ways. You know, the animated, energetic-type that isn't exhausted by 9:00 each night and actually gets a second wind at 10:00 instead of rushing to bed because it's "late". And after 3 (okay 4) glasses of wine, I was on a roll.

    Sad thing is, I'm not quite sure what I talked about. I think I just babbled and babbled and babbled endlessly for hours. I'm not big on awkward silence so I tend to fill it in - with useless comments. Let's review what I remember:

    Dinner - I spoke about my total ignorance of World History and learned some really fascinating tid-bits - all of which were lost on me as the wine consumption increased. I do remember learning where the "middle finger" form of expression originated from - France.

    After dinner - we headed to a cool bar inside an old tunnel (appropriately named The Tunnel Bar) and I remember talking about Rob Thomas - which often happens with this crowd because they find my unhealthy fascination with him amusing - and I also tried to convince a crowd of men from Nebraska to hang out and have a drink. They wanted nothing to do with the Tunnel Bar for some reason - claustrophobic perhaps?

    Lastly, I remember ending the evening talking about squirrels, chipmunks and gophers. By this time I believe we were grasping for conversation. Oh, and I must have asked my colleague to send me pictures from his trip to Poland this summer because the link just arrived in my email inbox.

    Here's the interesting part...when I arrived to the office this morning the first comment out of one of my colleague's mouth was,

    "You survived?"

    Excuse me? What exactly happened last night that I don't remember? I was trying to keep the conversation lively but I didn't think I was that entertaining. Others this morning have said they didn't know I could be so funny. Funny? Really? I think I just had a good buzz going.

    I think next time we have a corporate outing, I'm going to charge to be the comedic entertainment for the night. I'm off to a meeting now...perhaps I'll learn more about the material I used last night so I don't get caught using it again at the next function.

    Monday, September 22, 2008

    Look Mommy, the bags!

    At our house when we have the "big" TV on, it's normally set to Noggin so my kids can enjoy lots of fun, educational shows and I am assured that they have commercial-free time in front of the babysitter...I mean, TV. Noggin doesn't inundate them with ads for toys, fruit juices or sugary cereal.

    On occasion we move them to a smaller TV that is only hooked up to a DVD player so Mommy can sit in front of the big TV and watch something called the News (or Access Hollywood). Again, when the kids are in front of the "movie TV" there are no commercials.

    The other day I happened across a different channel on the big TV and my daughter stopped me in my tracks because it was The Fox and the Hound, which is one of her favorite movies. I thought it would be nice for them to see it on the big TV so I left it on and went about my business in the kitchen.

    Apparently, it only took about 2 hours in front of this "Disney" channel for her little mind to be stuffed full of infomercials! She started rattling off all the cool things she saw on TV. Globes that water your plants. Bags that keep your veggies fresh. Bags that store things under the bed. Liquid drops that turn into plastic art. Hair braiding machines. The list goes on and on.

    This weekend we ran to the local home good store and as we walked into the store Abby got all excited and shouted,

    "Mommy! Mommy! Look! I can not believe it! It's those bags for under the bed!! I did not know they sold those here!"

    That's just great. Almost 6 years of hard work to keep her shielded from the affects of TV commercials is now down the drain - or in this case - under the bed!!

    Friday, September 19, 2008

    Don't got bed with a headache

    My head was POUNDING last night when I retreated to bed at 9:30. I couldn't read the paper and the TV was too bright. I wasn't sure what was going on but closing my eyes was the only option.

    And that's when I started dreaming. Let me catch you up - I am a vivid dreamer. Oddly vivid and there are mornings I wake up confused and wondering if I actually did quit my job because I won the lottery.

    And last night was no exception - but I blame this on the headache:

    I started smoking again - Marlboro menthol - and the new man in my life, Kid Rock, ran to the store to get me a pack. I *think* I knew I was married with 2 kids because when he asked me to move to Georgia with him I remembering wondering how the family would feel about that. Then I realized they may like Georgia because they are warm weather people.

    Clear as day - Kid Rock was right there handing me the pack of butts. And then I also remember thinking why is he talking to me? I'm certainly no Pam Anderson look alike - not even in a dream.

    Moral of the story - pop several aspirin before going to bed with a headache or else you too may fall victim to packing up your belongings for the move to Georgia that isn't happening. I have to go unpack my suitcase - it appears Kid Rock isn't coming!