Monday, December 31, 2007

Relentless Part II

We just returned last night from my family's Christmas party in NJ where the boys had a fantastic time running around with all the cousins and being spoiled by the aunties & uncles. I still haven't moved all the furniture back from hosting Christmas dinner for D's family. There are some new toys mixed with the old ones, a lot still in their packages and I think P. hasn't even seen everything in the bag of gifts Santa left him. I just put together the walls of our gingerbread house so we can decorate it (with leftover Halloween candy) later this afternoon. When I go down to the basement to start the mountain of laundry we somehow accumulated in 2 days, I'll get out the horns and party hats for our little New Year's Eve celebration before the boys go to bed. I'm wondering what I can turn leftover ham into that will still be festive and more importantly, get eaten. You know, general mid- and post-holiday mayhem. You've probably got it at your house too.

And then it happened:

M. came over and asked "don't we have any Valentine decorations we can bring up? How about Easter then?"


Monday, November 26, 2007

I Should Listen to Oprah More Often

For the past few months, my boobs have been feeling different. Not painful, no lumps or bumps or visible changes, but just... there. You know how suddenly you're very conscious of a body part that was "invisible" before? Still, I was considering moving my mammogram appointment up because clearly something was not right. (You've made your appointment, haven't you?)

Then at the gym, I'm flipping through an old issue of "O" in an effort to trick my mind into thinking that I'm not really exercising but am home in my pajamas reading a magazine, when I come across this article that says 8 out of 10 women are wearing the wrong size bra. Hmmmm. Might that be my problem? When I get home I take a look at my under garments. And I have to say, they look pretty sad. I can't tell what size they are because all the writing has been rubbed off the tags, but the few sports bras I have say 36B (I don't wear those that much). Come to think of it, I don't remember the last time I went bra shopping. It's entirely possible that I purchased these before I got pregnant. That's rather sad and pathetic, isn't it? Maybe there needs to be an article about how old your bras are! So I go and get myself measured and I'm a 38C! I had to go to Target anyway and found some nice comfy cotton ones (and I got some new underwear too, since I figure I haven't shopped for those in 6 years either). I'm happy to say that after a week of wearing new bras, my boobs have gone back to invisible status.

Yeah. That Oprah knows what she's talking about.

Friday, November 23, 2007


M. has been talking about Christmas since August but with the start of kindergarten, Halloween and various other events, we have been able to distract him. The requests to bring up the decorations, the videos, the books, anything Christmas have been becoming more frequent as stores turn red & green and people start putting up their outdoor lights and decorations before the snow and ice arrive.

Last night driving home from Thanksgiving dinner, there was considerable excitement in the back seat. An unmistakable feeling of "Thanksgiving is over. Come on Christmas!" We declined to empty the Christmas Closet right then and there, but allowed that the books and videos (of which we have a considerable collection) could come out of storage. Each boy got to pick one video to watch before bed and we parents held firm to our resolve of "no more!" This morning M's eyes were barely open when he was lobbying for the tree to come up. Over breakfast he argued that the tree would look sad without the lights. Now it's lunchtime and he's begging for ornaments. This child is relentless when there is something he wants. I will have every sympathy for his future wife (but no advice, I'm afraid!). P. is more subtle. He doesn't ask, but he's been quietly going into the family room and festooning the tree with potholders, the batman cape, a book, and a pink feather boa. Otherwise he's watching "Barney's Night Before Christmas" and doing his own version of the 12 days of Christmas dance. (I really do need to get a battery for the video camera!)

We've never begun decorating this early before. The rest of the downstairs is total chaos as I continue to strip wallpaper and will try valiantly to get the painting done before we host Christmas dinner. I would have preferred not to introduce decorations into the mess right at this moment, but I do have to admit that Thanksgiving is over...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


A few new things I'm loving:

These have been heavily advertised in the scrapping magazines for months and I have been anxious to get a look at them. Finally, they are available and oh so cute! I've got a few of the "Believe" ones for Christmas projects but I can't tell you any more in case the recipients are listening...

How can a magazine junkie and organizing freak not love this?All kinds of tips, tricks, storage containers and interviews with organized people I aspire to be like. I'm putting a subscription on my wish list for Santa.

The two classes I'm taking at Big Picture Scrapbooking. One is gift projects that can be made in two hours or less. Lots of inspiration, doable projects and gifts that people will actually use! Just what I needed to get the holiday gift giving season rolling. The other class is on wellness. More inspiration, tips on exercise and nutrition, and the knowledge that lots of other women are struggling with the same things I am. I've renewed my commitment to getting healthy. My classmates are very inspiring and giving ladies, I am getting so much from visiting the galleries and message boards every day -- I've done more layouts this past two weeks than I've done in 6 months. Gotta love it when creativity and practicality merge. Thanks Kolette & Lisa!

And I'm very excited about these returning favorites:

I was a late convert to Project Runway since we don't have regular tv (long story). But once I found the DVDs on Netflix, I was hooked and having fashion marathons after the boys went to bed. (Isn't it every girl's dream at some point to be a fashion designer? It seems to be the natural evolution from ballerina.) The Season 3 DVD just came out last week and I'm halfway through (don't tell me who won). Season 4 starts tonight and I need to find someone with cable to go watch with because no way am I waiting a year to see it. D. doesn't get the whole attraction and keeps telling me to go to bed and get some sleep already. But then, but he's not a woman or a gay man (thank goodness). :-D May I say how much I adore Tim Gunn? I can?Ok. I absolutely adore Tim Gunn.
Victoria has returned! What a surprise that was at the magazine section of Wegman's. Oh, did I mourn this magazine's passing. I loved everything about it: the photography, the articles, the recipes, the gentility, the Victoria of it all. Now it's back and it looks exactly the same. It's like being in a time warp, but in a really good way. Maybe this should go on my Santa wish list too.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Recognizing a Kindred Spirit

Last night we were at a Halloween party. Another of the guests was a 7-year-old boy with Down syndrome. P. ran by him, stopped, and came back. He looked up into the boy's eyes, smiled and patted him on the chest. The other little boy smiled back. Then they ran off in separate directions. Once, walking through a mall at Christmas time when the boys were toddlers, an adult man with Down syndrome gave P. that same kind of smile.

Witnessing exchanges like this remind me that some cultures believe that people with Down syndrome are the closest beings to angels here on earth. They recognize that in each other. I wish we all could.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Command Central

M. stayed home from school today with a fever, so my plans of stripping wallpaper were pretty much shot (I was really heartbroken). As anyone with a sick child knows, they don't want you too far out of range. So we snuggled on the couch and watched a movie (Dreamer - really good!) and later we did some art projects.

I found this quiz the other day on one of my favorite organizing websites. Fun, but a bit disconcerting when I realized that I am essentially all of these except The Rebel. Hoarder - yup, that's my craft area(s)! Deferrer - yup, I can procrastinate with the best of 'em. Perfectionist - well, I am a Virgo. And the blog title says it all. Sentimentalist - uh huh!

So with that in mind, and since I wasn't going to get much done today otherwise, I decided to tidy up and reorganize the "command central" area of the kitchen. There was so much stuff stuck to the refrigerator I had no idea what any of it was anymore and every time you walked by something would fall off it. I took everything off and organized the papers into folders: M's school handbook and papers, P's school handbook and papers (they go to different schools in different districts), separate homework folders for both boys, appointments and events (that little pocket on the calendar wasn't big enough), & all the papers I need for Room Mom duties. That all got organized in a nifty super-strong magnetic holder next to the calendar. Then I redid two little photo calendars: one for P. so he knows whether today is a school day or a pajama-weekend day and one so we can remember what to bring to school on what day (library book, show & tell, etc).

I had revamped my Tea Towel Cleaning Schedule a bit and printed it onto cardstock last week, so I made that into little cards for each day, as well as lists of monthly and seasonal cleaning chores (with input from the same organizing site and this one. I lost my shopping lists when the old hard drive croaked so I redid those too. And my menu lists. I put all of it in plastic envelopes that I put sticky magnets on and dressed up with some stickers from my scrapbooking stash.

Why yes, I do have too much time on my hands, why do you ask?

Monday, October 15, 2007

We Only Get One Planet

Today is Blog Action Day. What are you doing lately to protect and preserve the environment? You don't have to make big sacrifices to help the environment (though those are good!). Even little things will help.

Around here we clean with a lot of natural stuff, like vinegar & baking soda. There are a lot of books available with "recipes" so you can do the same thing. Vinegar kill 99% of household germs, so I wash the floors and other surfaces with it. It smells nicer than some of the chemical products and I always want to eat a salad afterward, which since we buy organic produce, also helps sustain the earth. Two for one!

If we ever have serious money for a new car or the government gets their energy act together, I totally want to buy a hybrid vehicle. I can't ride a bike to work like my niece H. does (Hi H!) because here in Western New York there is snow. And I'm not working outside the home at the moment. But today I did park my car at one end of the strip mall parking lot and walk all the way to the other end and back (with packages!) instead of driving from store to store. So I cut down on emissions and got my exercise too. Another two for one!

In the spring we are going to start a garden in the space where the broken down shed used to be and attempt to grow veggies and maybe some berries. As I said above, we buy organic as much as possible, both for our health and the health of the earth.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. We've all heard it, but we need to do it. We recycle a lot around here, even the boys know not to throw out a piece of paper or cardboard in the regular trash. And M. is always going through the recycling bin looking for stuff to make art projects with. We send outgrown clothes to friends with younger kids or take them to Goodwill. I'm still working on the Reduce part, in many ways.

We only get one planet. Don't leave your kids a sick one.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Little Things Are the Big Things

We realized the other day that life around here seems a lot easier and calmer. A lot of that is due to the fact that P. has shown a lot of progress since school started.

He is starting to tell us when he has to use the potty, often getting out of the bath or bed to go again before he goes to sleep. This week he kept his pants dry for a 40 hour stretch! And I don't really want to count the accident, since he was sitting on the potty at the time, he just forgot to take his pants off first.

If he needs medicine, he drinks it right out of the little cup, no more holding him and forcing it down with the little dropper.

This morning he insisted on eating his yogurt all by himself. This doesn't sound like a big deal unless you know that all his vitamins, ginko, fish oil, iodine and flaxseed are mixed in there. (Would you eat it on your own?) He can help himself to a snack or drink if he wants one, though I have to check to make sure the refrigerator door gets closed. He's trying new foods voluntarily. All the fruit in the drawer has little bite marks. More food is going in his mouth than on his shirt, lap, or the floor. Last week he got the step stool out of the bathroom to get the cup he wanted from the back of the counter. Then he got a drink of water from the refrigerator door dispenser and put the cup in the sink when he was done.

He puts his dirty clothes in the hamper or down the laundry chute. He tries really hard to get dressed and brush his teeth by himself.

He knows how to use the remote to turn on the tv and the DVD/VCR and get the movie he wants to watch in the right slot.

He gave M. a hug and kiss this morning when M. was upset over a bad dream. He says thank you to the bus driver when she brings him home and yesterday he attempted to say "good weekend."

When we go to the store I don't have to put him in the cart as a means of keeping him with me. He stays next to me and half the time I don't even have to hold his hand. If we're taking a walk, I don't have to hold his hand to keep him out of the road. And if he gets too far ahead, he stops and waits when we ask him to.

The past few weeks he's been spontaneously running around the house pointing at things and naming them. He's much more willing to attempt new words. He's not snorting all that much at school. He knows about 20 sight words.

He's making good progress at coloring in one area rather than all over the page and he can say all the colors (orange is his favorite).

In swimming class he is moving to the belt with only 1 floaty and the instructor says he doesn't even really need that but they have to follow all the levels.

Yup. Things are going good here.

Things Best Filed Under "You're Better Off Not Knowing"

  • What are those little crusty things are on the sheets when you go to make the bed?
  • What is scrapple anyway?
  • Where did the giant millipede in the basement go?
  • What is that noise/smell/stain?

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Real Reason We Trick or Treat at Night

It's traditional to trick or treat after dark. If you took a man-on-the-street poll you'd hear a variety of reasons for this: it's spookier that way, people are home from work to give out treats, it gets darker earlier at that time of year. But if you take a mom-on-the-street poll you'll hear the real reason. Trick or treating in darkness does not show the wear and tear on the costume. Every mom who has been costume shopping already is experiencing the same thing: kids who refuse to take off the new costume. M & P have had their costumes about 30 hours and so far apple juice has been spilled, ice pops dripped, cheeseburgers sat on (don't ask), and ripped hems narrowly avoided. By the time Halloween comes around I can only hope that these beauties don't look as wrecked as the rest of the stuff in the dressup box. But even if they do, it will be dark, no one will notice. Except another mom maybe...

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Reason #786 to love Danny Wegman

As I was driving through the parking lot last week thinking "what are they giving away?" I saw this sign at the very end of the parking lot. At first I thought it was for employee of the month or something. Then I got close enough to read it and laughed. Ever since then, I have this insane compulsion to park there! If somebody else has beaten me to it I smile and say "good for you!"

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Naked Superheroes

Awhile back M. and I were talking about Superheroes. Stuff like who would beat who if they weren't both good guys, who has the cooler powers, whose powers we'd like to have, etc. At some point in the conversation, I mentioned Clark Kent using a phone booth to change into his Superman clothes. "What's a phone booth?" my little one asked, perplexed. What do you mean, what's a phone booth? Those little places that have public phones. "What's a public phone?" Thanks to technology my children have never seen a phone booth and, even more scary, they have no concept of one.

To say this freaked me out just a tad is an understatement. What else from my personal history is totally gone from their world? What will their children be giving them blank looks about someday? I took it upon myself to search for a phone booth so M. could see one. And you know what? There aren't any. They just disappeared when we weren't looking. You'd think there would have been some notice in the papers or a few signs posted. Sure, there are little kiosk-type things at Thruway exits and at a few gas stations, but all true, Superman-approved phone booths have been wiped off the face of the earth. The closest I could come was to show him a photo online of a red telephone box in London with the caveat that ours weren't as pretty as that. Even after all that, he still doesn't get it.

So, the official story is that the Justice League is up there orbiting earth in the Watchtower to keep a better eye on things and protect us as a team. But the real reason is that they just had no place to change clothes.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Autumn Has Arrived

How do you gauge the arrival of autumn? Back-to-school? Football? Halloween and Thanksgiving advertisements? Do you wait for the calendar's proclamation of "first day of"? Perhaps you check the trees for color changes or the temperatures for sweater weather.
Those are all good, but in our house (ok, it's really just me) this is how I know autumn has finally arrived. I did a little dance right there in Wegman's this morning. Happy happy happy. Since it's a seasonal item, I have this undeniable urge to stock up. What if they stop making it and I'm ciderless all winter? I did manage to stop myself at 3 boxes this week. D. even laughed when he helped me bring in the bags, "oh, it must be fall! You've got your fix again!" Sometimes it's those little things that make all the difference.

But I can't talk to you anymore because the microwave is beeping...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Obsession, you are my Obsession...

I just got the way fun issue of Scrapbook Play. One of the prompts is to do a page about one of your obsessions. Great idea! But which one? Over the years, there have been the celebrity obsessions (Shaun Cassidy, Adrian Paul), the food obsessions (Oregon Chai Cider, Nutella, Cadbury Dairy Milk -- why haven't I got an exercise obsession to go with this?), the tv show obsessions (Highlander, Dark Knight, Days of our Lives), the book/author obsessions (Margaret George, Maeve Binchy, Diana Gabaldon), the hobby obsession (cross stitch, crazy quilting, scrapbooking), the shoe obsession, and so on and so forth. But I think I have to go with the big one, the one that started it all:

When I was 11 or 12 I had a huge crush on the Bay City Rollers. They were five guys from Scotland doing remakes of "Bye Bye Baby" and "Saturday Night" (though I didn't know they were remakes at the time). I loved to hear them talk even though I only understood about one word in ten. I subscribed to Tiger Beat magazine to read all about them. I bought all their albums, including the special order European releases. I hung posters (from Tiger Beat) on every square inch of my half of the bedroom even though my sister said that she couldn’t get dressed in there because of all the eyes looking down at her (love ya, D!). I knew all the words to the “B” side songs. My friends and I would stay up 'til 1:00 a.m. to see them on the music show that came on after Saturday Night Live (what was the name of that show?) And most embarrassing of all, I convinced Mom to sew me an outfit like theirs. It consisted of white denim capris (before capris existed, when they were called "highwaters" or "flood pants") hemmed in red plaid with a jacket to match. Completing this lovely ensemble were striped socks, high-top sneakers and a scarf in a contrasting green plaid. I actually walked around town like that. I’m surprised I didn’t cause car accidents.

Alan Longmuir was my favorite Roller. He was the oldest in the band, 26. Besides being very cute, he had that older man allure and as I said, there was the accent thing. I remember thinking that when we were older no one would even mention the 14 years age difference. As if. This crush/obsession lasted much longer for me than it did for my classmates. I think I finally realized they were uncool in ninth grade. By then I was into Shaun Cassidy and fighting my brother for the tv on Sunday nights to watch Hardy Boys. (Are you starting to see a pattern here?) I remember overhearing my grandmother ask Mom when I was going to grow out of all this and thinking “Grow out of it? I will feel this way FOREVER.” Well, thank god that particular forever was short-lived.

So now on the far far far end of that obsession, I wonder how it must have felt for them? Was it hard to walk around in those bizarre clothes, belting out songs to screaming 12 year olds? As men in their mid-20's I have to think (hope!) it was just a little too creepifying. Or were they just riding the gravy train as long as possible so they had enough money to do what they *really* wanted to do? My beloved Alan would be about 58 now and I was right: no one would comment on the age difference at all. I wonder if he still has all his hair?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Is it just me?

Please tell me that this phenomena happens to you too:

  • I can hear much better with my glasses on. D. or the kids start talking first thing in the morning and it's sounds like the grownups on Peanuts: blah blah blah until I put my glasses on.
  • I experience hearing loss in the evenings. I just turned on the tv and it's incredibly LOUD! I'm talking LOUD like my hair is blowing back like that guy in the speaker advertisement. Did the tv gremlins come in while we were sleeping and adjust all the settings? Because no way could I not have noticed that last night.
  • I continue to make menus and grocery shop according to that list but when it comes time to actually cook? Nah, I don't feel like making any of those much less eating any of it or telling the boys how good it is so they'll eat it.
  • I wouldn't say I'm a hypochondriac at all, but once I read about the symptoms of something or other, they magically appear, causing several sleepless nights.
  • Despite many prayers to St. Anthony I never find lost stuff until after I've thrown out the things that went with it. I think he's messing with me on purpose.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Advancing Dragon Armies

defeated by the arrival of the school bus.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Other Ways to Use a Clean Train Table

Now if only it would stay this way

When we moved into this house we came from a small apartment and didn't have much furniture. So instead of a formal living room, we have a big play area. We recently added a computer area and I'm moving my supplies for scrapbooking in here too. We watch tv in the adjacent "dining room." The family room off the kitchen is a toy-free, tv-free reading zone or a place to just visit with friends and family. Some people are surprised when they come to visit, but hey, this is what works for us.

I spent the last two days reorganizing and tidying up most of the play area. Over the summer we got some new stuff from cousin G., some new things during dollar store expeditions and last week I stole, uh, I mean repurposed some of the bookcases to organize my scrapbooking supplies. This is what it used to look like.

So after a trip to buy more shelving (can you tell I love these foldup bookcases?), lots of piles, lots of sorting, and putting some things into temporary retirement in the basement, this is what it looks like now. Ta da!

M&P are actually playing with the toys instead of stepping on them. They've realized they have new stuff and they've rediscovered some old favorites like the puppets. They can actually color or do art projects at the table instead of on the floor. (Though that is still M.'s preferred spot to create.) And who knows, we might even start using that train table for trains.
I need to put picture labels on the bins so they can tidy up for themselves and put everything back in its proper place. Actually, this is as much for D. as the boys. His idea of tidying up is putting it anywhere that is not the floor.

I also want to move the dressup area (which I am not picturing because it's stressful enough to show you one actual mess!) to another part of the room so I can move the computer there. I need to get some smaller bins for all that and break it down into categories. I also need some kind of unbreakable mirror so the boys can see themselves. Right now they climb up on the bathroom sink and give me heart palpitations.
Of course now that I have done all this, we will decide to paint the rooms...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Lunchbox Etiquette

How long does it take before we all get the hang of this lunchbox thing?

I have a big note taped to my cupboard door with all the ingredients for a lunch that I run through twice every morning, while the 2 diners in question feel free to add their own comments (M: I don't want that! Can I have this? I had that yesterday! P: No! No! Yeessssss!). main course? check. fruit? check. snack? check. drink? check. utensils? check. decorative napkin? check. note from Mom? check. Ice pack? check. I load them into the backpacks. Oh wait, M. needs a 2nd snack for the afternoon, separate from lunch and labeled with his name. That goes into the front pocket of the backpack. Whew. Now I can relax about nutrition for a little while until they arrive home and I see how much they did or didn't eat.

As for the boys, they are still learning what is ok to save for later and what is not. M. brought home a lunchbox leaking drinkable yogurt and brown apple slices in the front pocket of his backpack. Do you know what drinkable yogurt looks like after 4 hours in a warm classroom and 30 minutes on a hot bus? Gag. Gag. Gag. "But Mom, you said not to save juice boxes, you didn't say anything about yogurt!" Ok, buddy, let's make that anything that's been opened and involves liquid or is remotely slimey.

What's the cost of those lunch tickets again?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Halloween Comes Creeping

That most fun of kid-centered holidays is coming: Halloween. So my kids remind me every. single. day. When can we go look at costumes? When can we pick out candy? When can we have a party? When can we buy more decorations? When? When? When?

Here's what I love about Halloween:

  • Taking M. & P. around the neighborhood trick or treating in a costume of my own. It's the next best thing to being a kid again.
  • Running to the door to oooh & aaah over the fairy princesses, laugh at the clowns and shudder at the skeletons who shout "Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet." Oh no, wait, it's my brother who still says that.
  • Deciding what to hand out. Should you choose something you like or dislike? This is based on whether you want to enjoy the leftovers or shun them entirely, and if it's the latter, how big a bag do you want to carry in to the office the next day? How much of it do you want your own kids to eat beforehand? How healthy a treat is too healthy? After all, you don't want your house to be avoided as word spreads that you're giving out veggies. (We got great reactions to the juice boxes we gave out a few years ago, so that's become our de facto treat. Yay, one more thing crossed off the to-do list!)
  • Doing the candy check when we return home and bargaining over which bits my kids are willing to let me have.
  • Silly games like bobbing for apples and biting the donut on a string.

Here's what I don't love about Halloween:

  • The fact that stuff has been in the stores (and therefore on my kids' minds) since the end of August. We haven't got the budget for back-to-school and Halloween in the same month.
  • I know the grocery stores are counting on the fact that whatever candy we buy now will be eaten and replaced many times over. I'm struggling to get to the gym on a regular basis to work off all the old fat I'm already carrying around. I want to save any new incoming fat for Christmas cookies, thankyouverymuch. I won't even mention the cavity M. just had filled.
  • Why are all the boy costumes in my kids' size range scary, bloody, inappropriately not funny, or all three? Halloween is all about pretend and make-believe. I don't know about you, but I don't recall ever pretending to be an axe murderer, a corpse being eaten by rats or a fart meter. Sure, there are a few superheroes and Harry Potter is still popular, but you have to look really hard to find them. When I do finally consent to go costume shopping there's going to be at least one tantrum, I just know it. Personally, I'm going to push costumes like the ones appearing in Family Fun's latest issue or on their website.
  • Ditto for the decorations. Do I really need window clings that look like bloody hand and footprints or a shuddering skeleton chained in a cage to have a Happy Halloween?

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Here are some of the goofy things that make us unique:

  • M. prefers to sit under the couch cushions rather than on them.
  • P. asks to watch the tape that cleans the vcr heads. There's something about all those little red balls zooming around the screen that he really likes.
  • D. prefers his cereal with heavy cream and chocolate chips.
  • I only bite my nails during the winter months.
  • P. likes ranch dressing on his hot dogs.
  • M. likes to wear all one color: red shirt, red pants, and if we have them, red socks & underwear.
  • D. mixes up 5 different kinds of juice instead of just drinking just one.
  • If I do something that isn't on my "to do" list, I add it just so I can cross it off.

What's quirky about you?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Blogging for Justice

Please read this story. Spread the word if you choose. I don't know this family personally and I don't know any more details than what I have read here. I do, however, feel very strongly that their story should be told. Why would anyone believe that having a sibling with special needs would be detrimental to a typical child? I thought by now, in the 21st century, attitudes had caught up to legislation. I guess we still have some work to do. No family should be penalized because they choose to adopt a child with special needs. No child should be penalized because they have a sibling with special needs.

Before having children I worked briefly at a non-profit dedicated to publicizing the need for adoptive homes for children with special needs. The children ranged in age from newborns to teens. They had a variety of special needs such as Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorders, and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Some of them were considered hard to adopt because they were part of a minority group or had siblings they hoped to stay with. I remember wondering how caring for a newborn with special needs was somehow different from caring for a typical child who was later injured in an accident? What would make a parent ok with one situation but not another? Now, I want to make it very clear that I am not against adoption nor do I think people choosing to give their child up for adoption are doing the wrong thing. On the contrary, I think that is one of the bravest things a parent can do. Without adoption I wouldn't have a wonderful nephew. My husband and I talked a lot about adoption before we got married and we may still decide to add to our family in that way someday. But to me, making that choice only out of fear of the unknown or fear of a disability seems misguided. For a variety of reasons I eventually left that job, but I often wonder if God didn't bring me there to think about things like that knowing that P. was in my future.

When I talk about my kids and mention P.'s Down syndrome I often get what another mom referred to as "The Look." People don't know how to react. You see their interest slide away and they change the subject. Should I not mention something that is just as much a part of him as his hair color or his love of ice pops? If I'm not uncomfortable, why are they? If they stick with the conversation, many people comment that caring for a child with special needs must be difficult. It must be exhausting. Yes, it is those things sometimes. They sometimes say that God only gives special children to special parents. If that were the case, He surely would have chosen someone with more patience and more money. I'm not any more special than you are. In fact, if God had asked for volunteers to raise a child with special needs, I would not have been jumping up and down yelling "pick me! pick me!" What these folks cannot know unless they have lived it themselves, is how (for lack of a better word) special having a child like P. really is.

Before having P. we didn't know that much about Down syndrome. When he was diagnosed at one day old, we were frightened. Frightened of all the unknowns: what kind of medical issues would there be, what would he be able to do and not do, would he be able to live on his own, who would take care of him after we're gone? Some of those things are not issues anymore, some of them never were. And for the stuff that's still unknown, we've learned to wait for the answers and take them as they come.

Here is what we do know without a doubt: P. is a participating member of our family. He is not "less-than" his unaffected twin. He's different from his brother, just as he would be if he was a typical child, with different likes and dislikes and different abilities. He has taught us more about life than we can ever hope to teach him. Our marriage is stronger than it might have been otherwise. His brother is more compassionate and empathetic than he may have been otherwise. We all are. His enthusiasm for life and excitement to see what each day will bring are things I am trying very hard to emulate. He will be a contributing member to society in whatever capacity is right for him. He is loved by a large number of family, friends and caring professionals. He loves us all back. He is entitled to all the rights and privileges any other child enjoys, not the least of which is a loving, safe home.

Do I sometimes wish that P. was not disabled? Sure. Do I wish he was anyone else but exactly who he is and who he will be? No, not ever in a million years.


9/11/01 and all the heroes made that day.

We have not forgotten.

Thank you to all in the armed forces. Be safe and come home soon.

Monday, September 10, 2007

What Our Grandmothers Knew

Have you ever seen those "day of the week" tea towels? The ones who have Holly Hobby or kittens or dancing fruit doing domestic chores? Monday is wash day, Tuesday is ironing day, etc. One day I looked around at the disaster area that was my home and remembered these little towels. Could it be that our grandmothers and their predecessors had the right idea? They were forced to do one chore a day because washing clothes involved hauling water, building a fire to heat it, wringing it out by hand and having it dry all day outside. Never mind making their own lye soap. I had the advantage of modern conveniences but somehow my house didn't look it. Would having a schedule actually help me get more done? Was it too anal even for Virgo me? And most importantly, would I actually follow it?

It's not that I was a slob, exactly. There just never seemed to be enough hours in the day. When the boys were infants I was too exhausted to do more than necessary to keep the health department from the door. As they became mobile it was a never ending cycle of picking up one room while they trashed another. At some point the chaos and crap would become so overwhelming that I'd have to deal with it RIGHT NOW or go insane. So I'd stay up late or get up early and go on a cleaning frenzy. And end up more exhausted and crabby as well. But now with the boys in preschool for a full day, it was clear that I needed a plan.

I tried FlyLady but couldn't keep up with the email. Besides, there's just something odd about someone you've never met sending you an email telling you to shine your sink. If it was your mother emailing that would be different. I have a love-hate relationship with Martha. A cleaning lady wasn't practical -- I'm home all day, it's not in the budget, and it's creepy. If I don't want to clean my own toilet, why would anyone else, no matter how much I was paying her?

Thus, my own version of the Tea Towel Cleaning Schedule:

Daily: laundry, dishes, make beds, toy pickup, vacuum downstairs, kitchen maintenance & bathroom maintenance. (feed the fish used to be here too until he went belly up)

Sunday: plan menus & make grocery list, outdoor chores, check calendar & get ready for coming week

Monday: grocery shop & filing

Tuesday: Clean upstairs bathroom, dust & vacuum upstairs, run errands

Wednesday: Clean kitchen, clean downstairs bathroom, dust downstairs

Thursday: Mending/ironing, put garbage out in evening

Friday: Organizing (pick project each week)

Saturday: Change sheets, wash towels, dust & vacuum upstairs, outdoor chores

I typed it up on a nice neat list and hung it prominently on a kitchen cabinet. Partly to remind myself of the schedule and partly in the hopes that the other people who live here and are able to read might pitch in of their own accord.

After eight months I can say that it does work. For the most part, the house is cleaner and is staying that way longer. I am less stressed because I can think to myself "yes the kitchen floor is a mess, but I will take care of it on Wednesday." The kids have some developmentally appropriate chores that they can handle and enjoy doing (their future wives will thank me someday). When hubby asks what he can do to help I tell him to check the list.

I have also learned a few things: don't post anything on your cabinets that you don't want party guests to read and ask questions about, it doesn't really bother me if the beds are unmade but if there are dishes in the sink the whole house is dirty, clean both bathrooms on the same day, I still forget to dust, and somehow allowing either the ironing or the filing to slide causes the whole system to collapse (these are the two tasks I actually enjoy the most but are the easiest to ignore).

I now have time to work out, pursue hobbies, and those big jobs like organizing closets, painting the kitchen and going through unpacked moving boxes are actually getting done. Slowly, that's true, but progress is being made.

Thanks Grandma.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Here's to Cary & Ingrid

For the past couple of days P. has been bringing me a video to put on: Indiscreet with Cary Grant & Ingrid Bergman. I'd explain that it was a grownup movie and then put in Kipper, Barney or something else he likes. Finally after the 50th time, I gave in.

Now, Indiscreet is my favorite movie of all time so I'm perfectly happy to find an excuse to watch it. To me, it's the quintessential romantic comedy. How can you not enjoy looking at two of the most gorgeous people in the universe? Not to mention all those Dior clothes that Ingrid and Phyllis Calvert get to wear. Swoon!

But rock-'em-sock-'em boy movie material it's not. I thought the boys would disappear before the opening credits finished. Amazingly enough, they sat through the entire thing without a peep! P. didn't even snort. M. said he liked the piano music that played throughout.

So whether it was Cary, Ingrid or the clothes they liked, my guys certainly have good taste. It must be hereditary :-D It'll be awhile before they're mature enough for Highlander, but maybe they'll enjoy My Fair Lady or the Sound of Music. Or how about those Beauty & the Beast episodes with Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman...

Happy Happy

All is good in the kindergarten world. The boys got off the buses the same way they got on, all smiles. M. actually ate his lunch and spent the evening chattering about his new friends. P. didn't eat much but answered "Yes!" (with arms raised) to all questions of "did you like school?" "did you have fun?" "do you want to go back tomorrow?" The teacher's note says he settled in just fine. It sounds like they had an equally good day today. Whew.

I didn't get much accomplished the past 2 days, it feels too strange to be in a quiet house. I'm sure I'll get used to it though :-D We're going down to NJ tomorrow evening to a family wedding (I can't wait to see everyone!) so tomorrow is dedicated to cleaning out the car, laundry & packing, filling the cooler with snacks and all the other stuff you have to do to prepare to sit in a car for 6 hours with two little kids. Hmmm. Better run to the dollar store for a few new entertainment items.

Then in the coming weeks there will be some serious home decor projects, organization and cleanup going on! I'm excited just thinking about it...

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

A New Chapter Begins

My little boys, the ones who were born yesterday, started kindergarten today. How is it possible that they are 5 already when I've only just done the pregnancy test and don't even know they are twins yet? I guess that old saying about time flying really *is* true...

P. was at first puzzled why we weren't getting in the car to go to school. When he realized we were going to wait in the driveway (the bus stop is in front of our house, yay for us!) with the big kids, well! His bus was a bit late but when it appeared he started jumping up and down in excitement. He climbed on without hesitation, wearing his now-trademark top hat and his new Batman backpack. He is attending a self-contained (13:1:1) classroom and just by chance knows a lot of the kids in his class already. Two of them were already on the bus this morning. We said hi to them, met the driver and the aide and then I had to convince hubby D. to get off the bus as cars were lining up. Let them get to school already!

M. was totally thrilled to be getting on the bus with his buddy from next door. He's been watching the bus pull up for 2 years now, waiting for his turn. Our neighbor volunteered to be M.'s "bus buddy" and walk him to his classroom, such a sweetheart. M. decided to wear his favorite blue soccer shirt and proudly showed off his camoflauge backpack (with matching lunchbox). I tried to get a few photos but no one really wanted to stand still for very long. He can be a motor mouth and a bossy boots as well, so I hope his teacher can help him tame those habits but not crush his imagination and leadership skills. When his bus arrived, he actually elbowed his way to the front of the line and strode to an empty seat like a pro. He never looked back, never waved, never even acknowledged us, the little stinker.

I admit to being a bit teary, more from the wonder of it all than any real concern about putting them on a bus. I know they'll both be fine and will have a wonderful time at school. I trust their teachers and their own instinct for learning. I'm more stressed about what to pack them for lunch!

Off you go, My Angel Boys. Spread your wings and fly. Have many adventures. Make new friends. Just remember to come home for dinner.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Calling All Inventors

Have you ever thought of a great idea for a product, a million dollar idea, and then in the next week or so you see exactly what you were wishing for in the store? It's like you put your request out into the universe and your wish is granted. Or more likely, the universe is granting the wishes of people who thought of the same thing 2 years ago, or however long it takes to put stuff into production. So in the spirit of disposable toilet brushes and cleaning wipes (thank you SO much whoever wished first!) here are some things that I think would come in handy and would pay big $$ for:

Magnetic socks and shoes. They hold together with super-strong magnets so that your kids can't kick their shoes off anywhere and everywhere. Eventually you graduate to lesser strength and then none so they get their shoes on and off independently, but not before they've outgrown the "let's take off our shoe in the grocery store and make Mommy go look for it while the ice cream melts" stage.

Toy vacuum. This vacuum will not only suck up all the toys on your playroom floor, it will sort them into categories. That way when you open the vacuum to empty the chamber, you can just dump all the knights in their bin, the blocks in theirs, the cars in theirs, etc.

Nightlight that flashes colors and sounds an alarm when your child is in imminent danger of wetting the bed. Particularly if it's *your* bed.

Box that somehow expands to hold a huge quantity of stuff but doesn't take up any more room on your shelf. This would come in handy for hand-me-downs that are waiting to be grown into and all the art projects that come home from school. I could also stuff all my crafts supplies in there and my husband wouldn't be any the wiser. Come to think of it, he'll probably want one too.

Self-cleaning toilet. And if you could somehow include the floor and walls in the immediate vicinity (I have little boys remember) that would be ever so helpful. Well if I'm already wishing...

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Happy New Year

Don't you think the new year should begin in September rather than January? I've always thought so.

September is the start of a new season, my very favorite: autumn. January is already the middle of cold winter, just when we're starting to long for it to be over. September is looking ahead to Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. January is tired out from all of those festivities. September is days still warm enough to spend outside and evenings full of sunlight; time to feel like celebrating. January is dark, cold, snowy and a longing to hibernate for awhile.

Maybe it's because my birthday is in September and the month is the start of a personal new year. Maybe it's because of back-to-school and starting a new grade, eager to learn new things. The possibility of all those unused notebooks and the promise in the big box of still-pointy and unbroken crayons. And let's not forget new shoes!

If Julius Caesar and Pope Gregory XIII can change the calendar, why can't I?

Friday, August 31, 2007

Murphy's Law of Parenthood

1. The instant any freshly washed floor dries, your child will immediately (a) spill something sticky, (b) throw up, or (c) pee on it. If that doesn't happen, you or your spouse will spill something.

2. If, while in the car, your child has a mammoth sneeze and green goupy snot is running down his neck, he will be in the car seat behind you rather than across from you, there will no tissues in the car or in your bag, there will be no place to pull over and all the traffic lights will be green. His brother will be chanting "Snot! Snot!" throughout.

3. Just after you remove the childproof devices on your stove because your child has never once attempted to touch it in five years they will develop a sudden interest in fire and cooking. Ditto for the doorknob locks and a love of the great outdoors.

4. Your child will always repeat the inappropriate word he learned from you at the inappropriate time.

5. The day you forego restocking your bag with emergency clothes (because you never use them) both of your kids will have serious potty accidents.

6. The day you forget to bring snacks, a toy or a book, the 15 minute stop will stretch to 2 hours.

7. Your child will consistently sleep in until you have to drag them out of bed kicking and screaming to get to school and time, but on the weekends when YOU are looking forward to sleeping an extra hour, they will be up at 5:30 a.m.

8. Your child will not meet a developmental milestone until the day AFTER you have told the pediatrician "no, he can't do that yet."

9. Your child will always eat food at school or Grandma's or a friend's house that they would never eat at home. And they will still refuse to eat it after you stock up because "they ate it at so-and-so's house."

10. Your child's desperation for a particular toy will be in direct proportion to how difficult it is to find and/or how expensive it is.

11. Your child will lose interest in said toy the minute you have purchased it for an upcoming birthday or holiday.

12. Your child will have a dirty diaper or need to poop when it is most inconvenient, i.e. at the community wading pool with no bathroom facilities or at the park with the grodiest port-a-potty.

13. Your children will be angels all day until you have to make or take an important phone call. Then WWIII will break out.

14. Somebody will always throw up the evening before you are all scheduled to fly across the country.

Parenthood will never be how you imagine it to be before the children actually arrive. It will be more of everything -- more messy, more stressful, more spontaneous, and INFINITELY more rewarding!