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: " 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. 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 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 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 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!