Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Boldly Going Where A Lot of People Have Gone Before…

I am going to Williamsburg, VA to meet up with some Braces Bunch Gals that I have known on-line and through the Postal Service for over three years.

Here is what I posted about this some place else:

“The end of September I am going to be going to Williamsburg, VA. Alone on an airplane, to meet people I have never met. But, I have something in common with them. I am going to meet up with some women, some of whom I have known online for over three years, who are or who have struggled through infertility. We met online through our various blogs and created a group that supported each other through cards and gifts through the regular mail. In the past three years, I have gotten cards, "lucky socks", letters, chocolates when I was down and other gifts. I have sent words of encouragement and little gifts to cheer to various women from various parts of this country. We are going to meet for the first time. And yet...we already know what is in our hearts.

Please remember that many of you are struggling--but you are NOT alone. There are women out there facing the same difficulties. Support them when you can; be supported when you are in need.”

However, I have had a little bit of anxiety about this trip. I am leaving my comfort zone. I am going somewhere I have never been to meet people I have never seen. And I am leaving my family behind for the first time ever. As I have gotten older, I have noticed this tendency I have in wanting to stay “safe” and “comfortable” and the panic attacks that I have when I am trying something new. I think it is partially age, partially some bad experiences, partially because my life in general is pretty damn good.**

But whatever the reasons, I know that those feelings can hold me back. So, last year when I turned 40, I decided I would try not to let those feelings take hold in me. That I would grasp at opportunities that I may have not taken before or have shied away from, either because of fear or more often, lack of time or motivation.. Move outside my comfort zones. Not that I have ever been one not to try something new…I actually have always enjoyed having many different experiences and trying new things (one of my favorite things about living in this region of the country is the myriad of things to do around here).

But I am talking about more subtle things. Like trying to define myself. Not as a wife or mother or employee. But as a human being with needs and wants that may or may not be the same as those titles.

So here I find myself worrying about a plane trip, anxious about leaving my son and daughter for the first time, worrying about the added stress that my husband gladly took on to let me do this trip…and leaving on Thursday to meet some wonderful people.

**Actually, like many people in these times, we are actually pretty highly stressed and anxious, but we are better off than most and we do have each other.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A busy Saturday

This morning we got up early, I made waffles for everyone, Willow got yogurt all over herself and the kitchen table...after a quick bath...

We went to a Lego Convention in Boston with my brother and his wife and cousins. I think this was the first one, and it was interesting for the things it had and did not have (I was looking for more Lego representatives walking around--maybe costumed characters, maybe some bands playing..I think I have been spoiled from Halloweentown). Oh, not to say it wasn't fun...it definitely was fun!** Here are some pictures...

Willow kissing a Lego Guy...

Michael and Willow inside a lion's mouth...

They had a LOT of Star Wars Models...

Another Lego Guy...and you'll note that Michael is wearing a Lego Star Wars shirt (yeah, him and 100 other kids!)

One of my favorite heroes...

One of Michael's.

Michael used to LOVE these guys!

So, after Le.goFe.st, we all went to Fudd.Ruck.ers and had a nice lunch. And then we went to a Halloween store and Michael got a great Halloween Costume (Willow is going to be the kangaroo again--that costume still is a little big for her).

This is an awesome costume. And it was well worth having to go back home to get the coupon for 20% off and driving back there and picking it up (it was the last one on the shelf). Then, we came back home...I changed a nasty diaper.

Then we watched Ast.ro Bo.y. After the movie, Willow and I played--she offered to make me a triple cheese hamburger sandwich (without a bun) and Michael disappeared several times. And re-appeared as General Grievous. He REALLY likes this costume...he thanked me many, many times. I jokingly said, well, its not just for the costume I hope--and he went through a litany of things I do for him (feed him, shelter him, give birth to him(!)). So, yeah he likes the costume. (Oh, and then I changed nasty diaper #2)

So, finally, I keep getting around to talking to them on what to do for dinner..and I change nasty diaper #3 (she obviously ate something that her stomach did not like) and so after her second bath of the day...we have dinner.

And then after a 1/2 of a cartoon show, the struggle for bed begins and finally ends...at 9:15 p.m.

Oh, and yeah...my husband was doing a guys day today...so this was my single mommy day.

It was packed. It was fun. I am done. (I will be on the couch vegging now...)

**Okay, I do have one kinda big issue with the convention. It was a pain in the butt because they did not allow strollers. They did not say this before hand, but when we got there, we had to put the stroller away. And the place was PACKED with people (we did not get to go to all the things because of the long lines). So, yeah..trying to keep track of a toddler in that mess, or try carrying her 30lbs of deadweight around...uh, not as fun. I am sure they had their reasons...but I am just saying, some of my exhaustion is from that issue!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"Old" Friends

The other night I got to finally meet up with Susan and her husband Ike. It was a wonderfully mild Tuesday night in Davis Square and we ate at one of our favorite Indian restaurants (Suzy & Ike love Sushi and Indian probably about as much as we do!)

It was amazing how quickly everyone was comfortable with each other. Hugging Susan was like hugging an old friend and we all fell easily into conversation.

Susan and I had Willow between us, and Willow had no problems whatsoever in “Beeping” Suzy (lately she has been poking in various parts of our bodies and saying “beep”, its her variation of “got your nose”—which she also does to no end). My usually shy-to-strangers toddler was immediately best buds with Susan. And then she crawled under the table to play. Yep, my toddler’s table manners are not the best at the moment. She did share a Mango Lassi with me, tho.

Suzy was a good sport while Willow attacked her personal space again and again--which is something since she had just had a day of air travel to boot!

Suzy and Ike were also able to get my son out of his shell. I was impressed how quickly they were able to draw him out and get him to open up about his summer camp/after school camp. Michael is usually very quiet around strangers, usually tending to talk exclusively to his dad or me while at dinner with someone he does not know. But he was quite animated in discussing things once they drew him out. And, he even used one of his French vocabulary words during discussion!

We all had a great time and wished it could have been longer. Brad and I thought Susan and Ike were very fun to be around and wish them all the best and we offer up an open invitation to come by and visit anytime –next time SUSHI!

Enjoy the rest of your vacation, Suzy!

And now, the pictures -- let me apologize for the quality of photos—my compact video/camera is great and all, but it doesn’t have a flash…and we were having such a great time that by the time we got to photos it was a bit dark out. So we parked ourselves outside a different restaurant that had better, not totally adequate, light. (I am sure Suzy’s pics will be better!)

Ike, Suzy, Michael and Willow. I really feel this captures everyone's personality the best.

Michael, Suzy and Ike (do you see a pig somewhere?)

Cute couple!

Yep, that is me in the shadows...and Suzy in the light!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Perfect Moment Monday

Perfect Moment Monday is about noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between. Once a week we engage in mindfulness about something that is right with our world. Everyone is welcome to join.

This weekend was not perfect. It was hectic and anxiety ridden and chaotic and annoying and so full of things happening that I don't feel like I had a weekend, per say. There was good things too, but there was an overriding feeling of exhaustion and anxiousness...throw in a sick kid, a rambunctious toddler, exhausted and overworked parents...ya got us this weekend.

So, the perfect moments were the little things--

Laying down with my head-achy son, holding him and looking at him while he tried to sleep in my arms.

Noticing her length and colors of her hair as I rock her to sleep. Hearing her say "Sing to me mommy"--as I struggle to find words to sing to this wonderful child.

Hanging out on a Saturday night, watching a silly movie (Date Night) and holding hands on the couch. Talking as we watch Pop Up Videos and remember our college years together.

Being awoken by a furry mouth nuzzling my mouth at 4 a.m. on a SATURDAY.

As I write this, I look at my hand and see traces of blue ink and I am reminded of my daughter--who destroyed a blue pen yesterday and had it ALL over herself. (At the time, not perfect--but now, I grin)

Fixing a cowlick on my son (who feels better) this morning before he goes to school, noticing how thick his hair is.

To see more Perfect Moments, click HERE.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

King Richard's

Last Saturday we went to our traditional fall outing -- to King Richard's Faire. Usually we go in October, but I was able to get a great discount if we went either last weekend or this weekend. So, with our friend John along, we went and had a good time.

I think the person who had the best time was Willow:

Taking her this year showed me how much she has grown and how much more fun she can have when we go do things. She is "on" as it were.

Also, lately, my children are Food Pirahna's....look what they do to this Turkey Leg!!

Michael wanted to eat almost as soon as we got there, so before we even had lunch, he had pre-lunch...yes, my son is becoming a Hobbit..

Willow, of course wanted some, so Michael shared...

Whereupon she stripped it pretty bare...after having some Apple Jacks too...

Willow also got to ride the ponies--not once, but twice...

And the kids played in the kids corner of the faire.

I have video of this...she is burying her baby doll that she brought with us...saying that she is putting the baby asleep...hmmm...(it was kinda creepy cuz the baby's face was being buried with sand...

A little medieval knight in the kids corner..

We actually did not stay this year for the jousting, but there is always next year!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Thoughtful Tuesdays

JJ has a wonderful idea for posts on Tuesdays expressing either something that you are thankful for, something that you have witnessed that was an act of kindness or something that you have done to "pay it forward".

My husband has recently thought up something that I not only thought was thoughtful, but that I am also thankful for.

With his hours, the two kids and the general daily choas around us, we don't always get to "talk" like we used to. Sometimes we get snatches here or there, but none of the intellectual stuff (or geeky stuff) that we are used to.

So, for the past month or so, we have been doing Link Thursday. We gather up 5-6 links of articles of things we are interested in that we want to share. And then on Thursday we send those links in an email to each other. It has helped to jump start our conversations at home, or at the very least, we have shared information with each other that we find stimulating that would have otherwise been lost in the shuffle. I find myself enjoying hunting for links that I know are interesting and unusual and I look forward to seeing what links my husband sends.

We have sent each other links on Virtual Brains, Charlie Chan, Bruce Campbell, various NPR stories and comics. Sometimes they are little nothings, sometimes they begin huge discussions.

There are many ways to communicate, and I am thankful that we have started this tradition.

Read more Thoughtful Tuesday Posts HERE.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Perfect Moment Monday

Perfect Moment Monday is about noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between. Once a week we engage in mindfulness about something that is right with our world. Everyone is welcome to join.

Moment #1: She is meowing like a kitten. Crawling and meowing. It is fascinating to see her imagination start to really take off. We try to videotape her escapades, but as soon as the camera is pointed at her, she stops acting like a kitten. We put the camera away...and then she merrily goes ahead and purrs like a kitten, crawls up to the kitchen chair to rub against it. And then she trys to eat food off the floor.

Moment #2: His feelings hurt, I comfort him. It is near bedtime, but he says "I can't really go to bed after crying." I agree with him and we decide to watch something funny on television first. We watch a program, sitting next to each other. Then I take him up to bed and he is fine...well, not fine, but not upset and is able to go to bed. The next morning, he is not pouting, not disagreeble, even though he has every right to be all those things. I wonder if he has forgotten the hurt--and then I understand that it is not that that he has forgotten it--that he is mature enough to deal with hurts and slights like we all have to.

To see more Perfect Moments, click HERE.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

S&T - Back to School/New School - Middle School!

Please stop over to participate!

Michael started 6th Grade this year--which is Middle School(!) (For me, I went to grade school from K-6, then Jr. High School 7-8, so this is something a bit new to me).

Every school year I have a set of poses that I always get photos of, and there are some I have added throughout the years...

All packed the night before.

This morning, all ready dressed and ready to go! Normally, I would have gotten a photo of him in his bed, as I woke him up--but my Middle Schooler has his own alarm clock now--and he was already up and dressed!

Breakfast time! It seems First Day of school is always scrambled eggs and some type of melon (usually cantalope).

Kif wants some too!! And lately, the cats always have to invade the pictures...

Ready to go...

Middle School awaits!

Blowing a kiss, as he goes to school. (This photo was taken from the car window...he did not need us to get out and walk him there, we just dropped him off--and watched him go...and then I cried).

Happy First Day of Middle School, Michael!

Oh, and to compare, here is Kindergarten and Third Grade...it goes by fast!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Back to School Anxiety (Mine)

Tomorrow is it. Michael will be going to Middle School. A new school, a new schedule, a new set of teachers. A new routine for the whole family.

And then there are the anxieties of a mom of a Quirky Kid (good book). To keep Michael focused, he has to take ADHD medication. Which not only focuses him, but also focuses him so much that he gets OCD about various things. He tends to think in black and white terms, while the world around him is gray. He is funny and intelligent--sometimes qualities that get him in trouble, since he doesn't always understand appropriateness in situations.

Back to school time for me involves thinking about strategies for keeping my son on track and focused on his homework at night after he has spent all day staying focused. It includes every other Tuesday night taking him to behavioral therapy. Note writing to teachers explaining how my son thinks/works--helping them try to understand him and help him learn. Meetings with teachers, phone calls in the middle of the day concerning behavioral issues. Worries about teasing and fitting in and friendships.

The good news is that I have seen Michael mature along the ardouous journey of elementary school. I know there are many obstacles in his way, not the least of which is puberty, peer pressure and PILES of homework. But I also know that he can meet those challenges, and that I am ready to help him in any way that I can.

Ok, Middle School...we are ready! (be gentle, please!)

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Thoughtful Tuesday

JJ has a wonderful idea for posts on Tuesdays expressing either something that you are thankful for, something that you have witnessed that was an act of kindness or something that you have done to "pay it forward".

I am thankful for my organizational skills. They served me well when I was in high school and college, meeting deadlines and keeping up with homework and tests. I am the type of person who loves nothing more than juggling several different jobs all at once, prioritizing them and being able to cross them off my list. Boy, I had no idea that these skills were not only PERFECT for having a family, but would be challenged and brought to new strengths through the various demands of said family.

I love technology's role in this--I just started an on-line calendar system--and I am actually excited by that (!) Yep, I am an Organizational Geek! I have excel spreadsheets for holiday gifts; I use reminders from Amazon for birthdays, etc...(and yeah, I STILL lose track of some things)

I am thankful that my skills are useful in my work environment, that often this is the major asset that I bring to the company I work for. I have whipped my current office into a much better working state that it was when I started there over a year ago. And I am proud of that.

But, I am especially thankful that because of my organizational skills, we as a family not only run pretty well (well, sometimes a bit chaotically, especially with the addition of Todd-lor, but still...our family runs), but also we often are exploring and adventuring with different activities and fun things to do and places to be. And we wouldn't be able to do as many of these things if I wasn't such an Organizational Nerd.

Read more Thoughtful Tuesday Posts HERE.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Perfect Moment Monday

Perfect Moment Monday is about noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between. Once a week we engage in mindfulness about something that is right with our world. Everyone is welcome to join.

Moment #1: It's 11:00 p.m. on Saturday. We are going to go to bed soon, but we hear a commotion upstairs in her room. My husband goes upstairs and then yells for me to help out. Her sippy cup leaked water ALL over her, her bedding...everything. We change her, change the bedding. But her hair is still wet. We bring her downstairs and turn down the lights, finish watching a little television while she snuggles against us, her hair drying. She is awake, but quiet (so unlike the active toddler we usually see in the day). It strikes me that in a few years time, it will be just us three on the couch watching television while my son is in college. I also remember times like these with my son when he was her age. The small unexpected moments in the last minutes of the day remind me yet again how much I love her.

Moment #2: Saturday during the day. We go to Salem to walk around and enjoy the day. We go to a wax museum that has Horror statues from various classic horror movies in it. Scary music is played and the atmosphere is very haunted house-like, but yet pretty tame (no one jumps out at you). My son LOVES classic horror movies and scary stories--but within his control. So, when we go there, he bulks. He is scared to go in, even though I say I will be right with him. We go in the lobby and see incredibly wonderful replicas of the Mummy and Frankenstein (one of his favorite characters) and the Phantom of the Opera. The museum's operator talks to him and explains that the rest of the exhibit is the same, just darkened (with spooky music and sounds, which are actually creeping me out a little). He still bulks. But then says he will do it if I go in with him. And then the owner and I spend about 10 minutes trying to get him to go inside the exhibit. And he starts to, then stops. Both the owner and I are very patient, but we can just tell--its not going to happen. My son and I leave...I am a bit tearful, because I know that he is letting his imagination stop him from enjoying something I know he would like, if only he would let himself try to overcome his fear. I tell him nothing of this, I feel that he tried his best and that is fine, I was willing to leave it at that. But he says to me "Mom, are you crying?...Let's go in again--I will do it this time."

And, after a little more hesitation, we do. At first he wants me to hold onto him. But, after a while, he becomes my son again--intrigued by the characters and the movies and the various artifacts. He points out that the music and sounds actually are the worst of it to him, and when he hears a skip in the music, it helps him to understand the artifice of it all. And then we go through the whole exhibit again.

And then he makes his father go with him a third time.

To see more Perfect Moments, click HERE.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Summer Assessment

As Labor Day approaches, its time for a look back at this summer.

Weather-wise, here in New England, it was better than last summer (last summer ALL of June was RAIN). We did have some heat waves, but generally speaking, the weather did not hamper our activities very often.

Before school even ended, we kicked off our summer by going to a Weird Al concert. One of the best performances I have seen, it was so great to have our friend Tom along and to watch Michael mesmerized. Michael is actually pretty good at knowing the words to several songs—verbatim. Of course, that meant that on the long ride to the venue Tom and Michael had a musical singing war; it was an off-key rendering of many many Weird Al songs…at times the back seat seemed to have two 12 year olds back there!

Our week on Cape Cod was wonderful -- the weather was awesome, the beaches beautiful, yummy seafood and relaxation! We did some things we traditionally do, but we also did a few new things—a Pirate Adventure, science tour, catching hermit crabs…all fun!

Then July 4th at Canobie Lake, a tradition that keeps getting better. And my mom visited and got to enjoy her grandchildren. We introduced Willow to the Rainforest Café.

Usually I am the one desperately looking towards Autumn (one of my favorite times of year, especially here in NE). This is the first summer in a long time that I will very much miss. I think this is because we did a lot of fun things and enjoyed ourselves, but it’s more complex than that.

There is the passage of time that the change in seasons brings. Michael starts Middle School, with a locker and “Home Room” and “Gym Uniforms”. Willow has become more verbal than ever, often surprising me with the things she says and the concepts she has learned. She gives kisses (“tisses”) and hugs to people, she has started the slow march toward potty training.

However, I think the feeling that I have about summer is different this year. I think this is one of those rare summers where everything clicked and I was really able to enjoy being a parent and watching my children grow. I LOVED the fact that my children embraced summer. They have both went to the beach more times than I have this summer. Willow’s daycare provider has taken her to the local zoo and to playgrounds, the beach and to birthday parties. Michael went to a summer camp for Adventure Role Playing and then has spent the month of August at the YMCA Camp, where he passed his test to be able to go into the deep end of the pool to swim and got so filthy at a state park that I was reminded of Pig Pen from Charlie Brown. The kid’s hair has grown out, their bottoms of their feet toughened, tans glowing. There were sleep-overs, late nights, trips to ice cream stands, camping and playing in the dirt. There has been discovery and fun and smiles. And I have enjoyed it all.

Thank you summer 2010. You really were something to remember.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

S&T - A Cow Goes -- MOO!! (And poop, and all sorts of disgusting things!)

My friend Suzy has decided to revive one of my favorite things--Show & Tell!!

So, please stop over to her blog and participate!

This Sunday found us surprisingly unscheduled. So, in thinking of things to do, I decided on an old stand-by. We have been going there for years...

(oh my, really, he used to be THIS small?!)

(and yeah, I left my camera in the car, so no matching photos of Willow)

There are many interesting things about this dairy farm. First off, its a State Park with many nature trails, etc. Secondly, it has an actual family owned, working dairy farm. And Thirdly, there is an ice cream store at the farm--the ice cream is made fresh, and there is a window where you can look out at the cows!

But, the many times that we have been there, we have never taken the free Park Ranger tour of the farm. Until Sunday.

First off, being a working farm, being in the middle of a heat wave, meant that we could smell a not so sweet smell when we entered the farm. We thought it was manure--but it was actually Silage (feed for the cows). Our Ranger was really helpful in showing us the silage (YUM!--well for cows it is!).

We got to see the pregnant cows in their "maternity" ward and then we went into the barn and got to see the wonderful machines that cows are as they process that food (yeah, we saw some elimination action!). Michael was very astute and asked many interesting questions...and he even noticed that one of the cows (all of them are female) had a recent incision...and asked if she had had a C-Section (yes, she had).

The best part (for Willow, especially) was seeing the "baby cows". (Willow doesn't get the term "calf") There were about 10 calves housed outside the barn area and we were able to walk right up to them and while some of them were shading themselves inside their little houses, we were able to pet a couple of them. And I even let one suck my finger (cows don't bite as they only have teeth on the bottom). Boy, did that calf have a lot of suction!

We all learned a lot of neat things about the farm itself (they are using concrete silos on the ground level, and building a new barn with a robotic milking machine) and it was fun watching Michael and Willow each take in something different from the experience. (This is so WHY I love DOING activities with the kids!)

The other bestest part--ICE CREAM afterwards!! :-)

#Microblog Monday - New Who

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is?   Read the inaugural post   which explains the idea and how you can participate too .  Please check out ...