Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Her-shey is...

We took our annual trip to Hershey Park Candy Lane and had a blast. I got the idea from a friend who lives in CT who came down a few years ago with her family and raved about her visit, so we decided to try it last year with a lot of success.
The girls enjoyed themselves a bunch as did Andy and I. We even got a visit with Santa though no one was intersted in sitting on Mr Claus's lap this year... Better luck next year.
It will be great next year when Annika AND Alexandra can ride together. She still needed supervision on this trip.
Well, here are some photos of our adventure. Enjoy!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Naughty or Nice?

Hmmmmm. We've been having a few little issues with behaviour in recent days. Christmas is coming awful quick and so we're going to have to be on our best behaviour from now until Christmas now!

Let's see what Santa has to say about Miss Alexandra today...
Click to view Santa's List!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Two Wolves

(Thanks, Drew.)
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, "My son, the battle is between two 'wolves' inside us all.

One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied,
"The one you feed."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My First (real) Haircut!

Alexandra turned four recently and in her four years she's never had a haircut. I know, sounds crazy but i really am partial to long hair, as is she. I have done the occasional snipping of bangs to get the hair out of her eyes, and i must say i did that with lackluster results. The combination of me not at all being a professional stylist with dull scissors did not produce pretty results. Thankfully hair grows pretty quickly!

I always have found so much joy in putting her hair in different styles and she's enjoyed it as well. Well, the time had come when her hair was just looking, well, drab no matter what we tried to do with it. So it was time for a snip.
She took to the idea much better than expected and was a real trooper. I think she actually liked being primped! Though we only had a few inches snipped, she now has a lovely long-layered cut which she can spot up or down. :)Here are a few pictures from her first hair cut, and yes i did keep her hair!

Tis the season...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Happy Birthday to My Big Girl!!!

To My Unborn Baby
I love you already although we haven't met. I know I'm only me but I'll be the best mother yet. I'll tuck you in to bed at night. I'll wipe away your tears. I help you learn life lessons and overcome you fears. I'll watch you grow up and be proud of you everyday. I'll always be there for you in each and every way. You need to know I've loved you from the start. Ever since the first time I heard the beating of your heart.
I love you already although we haven't met. I know I'm only me but I'll be the best mother yet.


Happy Birthday to my big girl Alexandra! Where have four years gone? It truly feels like yesterday that you surprised me on this day. I thought I still had a month before you'd come! And we've been enjoying watching you grow up and transform from a baby to a big girl!
I like to take my annual walk down memory lane to revisit that special day so that as the years pass I should never forget any detail. With that, i read my journal entry for the day you were born and here is what it said... Enjoy! I LOVE YOU MORE WITH EACH PASSING DAY, BABY!

Wednesday, November 17, 2004--Happy Birth-day!!!
Doctor Wilson held you up at 4:01 a.m. and yelled, "it's a girl!" I felt my heart race and felt completely overtaken by emotions! Your dad and I narrowed down your name earlier that night. Annika, if you had light hair and looked more Swedish, and Alexandra if you had darker hair. He came running over to you and back to me and told me that you looked more like an Alexandra, and so that was the name you were given. Alexandra Lee. Lee after your Aunt Jennifer whose middle name also is Lee. You were 6lbs 7 oz, and were 20 1/4 inches long. You are beautiful and I have fallen in love all over again!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

"Change has come to America!" Congrats, Barack Obama!

“They said this day would never come”
--Barack Obama, January 2008

In an unprecedented win, Barack Obama has been named the 44th President of the United States earning 52% of votes at a total of 62,680,702 and an amazing 349 electoral votes. McCain earned 46% of votes and 147 electoral votes.
Though many argue over how the war should be handled, and how they should be taxed, the bottom line is that the American people paid attention-- Attention to what matters most to them. People turned up at the polls in drove. For some it was their first time, and for others it was the first time in a long time.

The other exciting adventure of this election is that history was made. For the first time in American history a black man has been elected as the county’s chief executive. To me, that is the most exciting aspect of this campaign.

To think that just 40 years ago blacks and whites were segregated but now coming together under one union is what makes this country so great and why I am proud to be an American. Further, I am excited to see what the world will hold for my children. For it is their future.

So, Barack, good luck. We know you’ll have your challenges set in front of you but as American’s we’re behind you every step of the way as you paint this chapter in history.

If you missed it, here is Obama’s acceptance speech from last night.! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jll5baCAaQU (Video)http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/05/AR2008110500013.html (Transcript)

Also, here is a terrific article (though there are many out there today!) that outline just what hurdles Obama will face come January 20. As I read this article I couldn’t help to add “thank to George W. Bush” to the end of many sentences. Try it. I think you’ll agree!!

President-elect Obama inherits a world of troubles
President-elect Barack Obama will face some of the most daunting challenges that any new president has confronted since at least 1981, when America tumbled into a severe recession with its prestige ebbing around the world.

He faces the immediate task of leading a nation that's reeling from its most serious economic downturn in a generation, one whose government is saddled with a federal deficit that's heading for $1 trillion this year.

He'll take the reins of a country with more than 183,000 of its sons and daughters fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan , conflicts that won't end simply because a new president wants to end them.

He also inherits a global war on terrorism against shadowy enemies who remain intent on doing America harm, not to mention hostile foreign capitals from Tehran to Moscow .

Yet Obama may be able to claim a mandate from the American people. He appeared poised to win by more than any Democrat since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. Like LBJ, Obama will take office with solid Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress .

Even so, he'll face significant political challenges in Washington . His victory will release "a lot of pent-up demand" among Democrats eager to see long-sought policies adopted, said Robert Loevy , a professor of political science at Colorado College .

Satisfying that demand won't be easy. For one thing, 50 to 60 moderate to conservative "Blue Dog" Democrats in the House of Representatives are expected to continue their push for strict limits on spending. Combined with Republican opposition and still-powerful lobbies on behalf of the status quo, some Obama initiatives could be stymied.

New crises, both foreign and domestic, are also likely to pop up in this rapidly changing world. Times have changed dramatically since Labor Day . The global financial crisis has greatly expanded Washington's role in the economy, even under a conservative Republican president. That lame-duck president will host a gathering of world leaders on Nov. 15 in Washington to discuss overhauling the architecture of global economic governance, another challenge that Obama will inherit.

Meanwhile, the U.S. economy shrank in the third quarter, the first contraction in seven years, and every sign suggests that it will worsen in coming months.

That may force Obama, like most new presidents, to trim his wish list in the face of changing circumstances. Presidents-elect often realize quickly that programs developed months before are now obsolete, said former Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Frenzel of Minnesota .

Yet the new, young president who ran on hope and a vision of change has some cards to play.
"There will be a honeymoon period. He'll have 100 days, maybe as long as four to six months," historian Robert Dallek said. "But that will all end pretty quickly if he doesn't create some sense of forward motion," for the nation and for himself.

The prognosis:

The Bush administration's key 2001 and 2003 income-tax cuts will expire on Jan. 1, 2011 . Obama wants to end only the breaks that benefit individuals who earn more than $200,000 a year and families that earn more than $250,000 .

He faces at least two hurdles: Most Republicans are dead set against his plan, and his proposed tax changes would cost the Treasury $2.95 trillion over 10 years, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. That may be unaffordable.

Still, his tax policy is too crucial a Democratic centerpiece to abandon, so look for it to be sold as a new economic stimulus, said Maya MacGuineas , the president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan research group.

"The game next year is, 'How much can you get done and call it "stimulus"?' " she asked.

Obama has a long list of priorities he wants to spend more on, including $60 billion for highways and other projects over 10 years, more money for college student grants, elementary and secondary education and a host of alternative energy projects.

He vows that spending cuts would offset his increases, with some of the money coming from higher taxes on the wealthy and savings from Iraq troop withdrawals. But US Budget Watch, a nonpartisan group, estimated that Obama's spending plans and tax reductions would add as much as $316 billion to the deficit in 2013 if they took full effect.

History says that presidents typically get one big promise fulfilled during their honeymoon periods, and since Obama is expected to push an economic relief package, it's unlikely that health-care revisions would move down a parallel track that fast.

Despite spiraling health costs and lots of campaign talk, he's likely to find that comprehensive change is too costly, too complicated and too dependent on a delicate consensus, one that would be hard to craft in a few months.

Many, however, expect at least small steps.

"You want to get a foot in the door," said Dean Baker , the co-director of the Center for Economic Policy and Research , a liberal research group. For example, Obama could push for a mandate that all children be insured.

Obama also faces the entitlements time bomb. Medicare faces insolvency by 2019, and Social Security will start costing more than it's collecting in 2017. Left unchanged, the programs will require much higher taxes in the not-distant future. Changing them is extremely difficult politically, however, as seniors don't want their benefits cut and no one wants his taxes raised.

Obama wants to remove one to two combat brigades a month from Iraq , meaning that all combat troops would be out by the middle of 2010. He's been vague about how many troops would remain, however, and has said he'd deploy more forces to Afghanistan .

He faces a dilemma on Iraq . The public increasingly thinks that the war is going well, so tampering with current policy could be politically dangerous, said Michael Franc , an analyst at the Heritage Foundation , a conservative research center in Washington .
A dramatic change in policy, Franc said, would make it Obama's war, "so he has to decide to what extent he wants to be seen as Bush 3."

If violence expands as U.S. troops withdraw and chaos threatens, would Obama still leave Iraq and risk being blamed for its collapse? If he stayed to avoid such a result, would he forfeit the loyalty of the end-the-war voters who elected him?

Finally, experts said — not to mention Vice President-elect Joe Biden — the chances are good that Obama will be tested by a foreign crisis early in his presidency.
President Bush confronted China three months after he took office, when the Chinese captured the crew of a downed U.S. surveillance plane. President Clinton suffered a setback in his first year when American troops were killed in Somalia.

In 1961, John F. Kennedy presided over the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in his third month in office; met with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev two months later in Vienna, Austria , where he was shaken by his rival's belligerence; and two months later the Soviets built the Berlin Wall.

In 2009, Colorado College's Loevy said, Obama also could be tested quickly. "If he has a rough start it would be because of mostly economic events," he said, "a series of worldwide economic events."

There also could be security challenges.

Iran is eager to expand its influence throughout the Islamic world. North Korea's nuclear program remains problematic. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has haunted every administration since Eisenhower's. China's growing global influence requires deft diplomacy, and Russia's summer invasion of Georgia reminds that Moscow can upset the geopolitical balance whenever Vladimir Putin sees an opening.

Obama will have his hands full.

David Lightman
McClatchy Newspapers

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Welcome, Election Day!

I, of course, voted today. As an Independent I don’t get to do this often. As an Independent you don't get a vote in the primary, and as i've discovered there sure aren’t a whole lot of Independents in PA!

I pondered my strategy on how best to vote in this election. My husband went at 6 a.m. He was number 11. By 6:30 the line was wrapped around the building. By 7 a.m. there was at least a two hour drive. I drove past at 8:30 and saw it was 150+ deep. My friend, who was doing a babysitting swap (brilliant idea when having to vote!), and I phoned each other a couple of times during the day to give each other the 411 on what the lines looked like. I decided to wait until 2 p.m. I figured the a.m. work rush would be there until about 10, then there was the lunch crowd from roughly 10:30-2 so I showed up a little after 2 p.m. I waited about 30 minutes, luckily I got into the building just before it started to rain. And also on a positive note it was very warm out. All of this was much improved over the Kerry v. Bush 04 race when I was pregnant with Alexandra and stood in line for nearly three hours, starving and wearing heels…. I ended up delivering 15 days after that election!

Upon entering the voting area I followed the herds of people as they filed into the church building and stood in front of folding tables and chairs eagerly waiting for someone to take my name and for me to leave behind my John Hancock. Then I hear my first and last name shouted across two people to the left where a woman is recording it into a small binder that resembles a Little Black Book and assingns me a number. I am then handed a folder with an instruction sheet and voting ballot. You are then assigned a vacant “privacy booth” where you darken in ovals. I really felt as if I was taking the SAT exam than voting for a new president! Isn’t it 2008? Why isn’t any thing electronic anyway?

I later learned from my sister in CT that they had the same system. I always remember voting there in a booth that had levers and you were in, out and on your way. Wonder why the change. Guess I’ll have to research that one…

Anyway, I left with my ballot stub which was number 1411. Andy and I saved our stubs to share with the girls because after all, regardless of how this ends, it is a history-making event—the first African American President, or the first female Vice President. Exciting times, I’ll say.

So now I am glued to the TV to learn of the outcome. I don’t really know how much longer I will be able to stay away but I am eager to learn the outcome. Guess I may just have to tune in a few hours to learn the fate of our country. Cant get much worse that Bush, right! Ahaha!
Till then…

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Trick-or-Treat 2008

Happy Halloween!

This Halloween was especially fun because we had both of the girls mobile! We loaded the wagon full of our Tinker Bells and headed off to about a dozen houses. For the past few years we've been to only half of that.

The terrific weather coupled with the euphoria Philadelphians were experiencing after many headed home from the World Series Parade made for a fun-filled Halloween night!

Here are a few photos of our girls in their costumes! Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008


I must admit, i am not a huge baseball fan--or a fan of Philadelphia sports-- but now having lived here in a subset of this great city for more than 10 years and married to a man whom i believe is one of THE biggest Philadelphia sports fans, I have to say that I actually understand how big this World Series win is for Philadelphia. This was realized after looking into the glistening eyes of my husband as he watched game five, part two and the final swing and miss that lead to Philadelphia winning the 2008 World Series, ending a 28 year drought.

Andy retraced his steps to me noting that his move to Philadelphia happened just months before the city won its last world championship in 1980. It truly is a once in a lifetime experience, and proudly we can say that our Philadelphia born children can share in this celebration. And for that I, too, am proud!

Congratulations, Philadelphia!
Phillies end championship drought with Game 5 defeat of Rays
Philadelphia Daily News
IT ENDED as it should have, with a perfect closer dropping to his knees and lifting his arms to the heavens, with a bat making contact with nothing but air, with 46,000 people waving and jumping and screaming in front of seats they never had a chance to use.
It ended after 25 years, plus 48 hours, at 9:58 on a frigid October evening.
It ended with camera bulbs popping and police lights flashing and all of it melting into a beautiful technicolor bliss as a sea of white jerseys spilled out of the dugout and onto the mound.
A sentence that has been 28 years in the making can now be written.
The Phillies are world champions.

"It's not easy in Philadelphia," veteran lefthander Jamie Moyer said as the Phillies celebrated a 4-3 victory over Tampa Bay that gave the city its first major sports championship in 25 years. "But when you win, it makes it that much sweeter."

It came at the end of one of the most calamitous 48-hour periods in the history of the World Series, one in which Game 5 was suspended in the middle of the sixth inning Monday night during a downpour. But it could not have finished more appropriately, with a double by 9-year veteran Pat Burrell setting up the winning run in the seventh and closer Brad Lidge shutting down the ninth to record his 48th consecutive save of the season.

The final out came at just before 10, on a slider that has carried Lidge to greatness, one that Rays hitter Eric Hinske did not come close to hitting.

"It's honestly very hard to control my emotions right now," said Lidge, who saved his seventh game of the postseason. "This is so incredible. I'm so happy to be here. I thank God, Jesus Christ, my family. These fans are amazing. I couldn't be happier right now."
Said backup catcher Chris Coste: "You couldn't write it up much better."

The previous 24 hours had been a study in patience, one last unforseen challenge for a team that has spent all season overcoming them. When they took the field late Monday afternoon for what was supposed to be the crowning moment of their careers, destiny seemed at hand. They had won their first two games at home, taking a 3-1 lead and putting themselves in position to become just the second team in the wild-card era to win the World Series while going undefeated at home. The only other squad in their company was the Yankees, an organization with a history far different than the one the Phillies were trying to erase. Their ace lefthander was on the mound, a 24-year-old superstar with a chance to set a postseason record for wins.

Then came the wind, and then the rain, and then the tarp, and then the sudden realization that if they were indeed to take the final step to championdom, they would do so in a fashion never before seen.

But by the time the Phillies took the field last night and the crowd took their seats and Geoff Jenkins led off the game (er, sixth inning) with a monster pinch-hit double off the wall in centerfield, all the events of the previous 2 days - and, for that matter, the previous 2 1/2 decades - faded into the background.

The wind chill in the 30s, the upstart Rays, the 2-day layoff between innings - gone.
"It was so cold, and once we got out here, we didn't feel cold anymore," Coste said. "It was like the energy of the stadium brought it from feeling like the 30s to feeling like it was 75. That's what it felt like when we got out here. It was incredible. Our crowd basically warmed us up."
Even after Rays outfielder Rocco Baldelli negated the run Jenkins ultimately scored with a solo home run in the top of the seventh, the emotion refused to run dry.

Burrell, whose performance and imperfections have cemented himself into Philadelphia lore, led off the seventh with a double to the deepest part of the ballpark. After exiting the game for pinch-runner Eric Bruntlett, who later scored the winning run on Pedro Feliz' single, he was met with a thunderous roar.

"To be able to help this team and to give this championship to this city, this is a dream come true," said Burrell, who first broke into the big leagues as a 23-year-old outfielder playing for a Phillies team that finished 69-93. "I don't have the words to express it."
Afterward, they partied. Bill Giles, the Phillies' longtime chairman. David Montgomery, the team's longtime president. As beers popped and champagne flowed in the clubhouse afterward, Burrell stood in the middle of it all, gazing at nothing in particular with a towel covering his mouth.

The journey that started in 1980 came to its much-anticipated conclusion last night. It did so thanks to a cast of homegrown talent and castoffs. Bruntlett, the "other guy" in the trade that brought Lidge to Philadelphia in the offseason, scored the winning run. Outfielder Jayson Werth, signed as a little-known free agent in 2007 coming off a potentially career-ending wrist injury, hit .444 for the series.

And then there was Cole Hamels, the young lefthander, the one-time top prospect, who earned the series MVP despite watching his stellar, six-inning outing cut short due to Monday's rain.
"We're losers no more," first baseman Ryan Howard said. "The organziation, we're winners. Nobody can take that away from the city of Philadelphia, and nobody can take that away from us."

High above it all, the wind still blowing, the city lights still shining in the background, a solitary red banner hovered silently, enjoying its final few moments alone.



"This is for Philadelphia," Charlie Manuel said as he was presented with the Commissioner's Trophy.

Never before has a manager been so right. *

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Mother's Right to Ask Questions Creates the End to a Friendship

I have experienced a whirlwind of emotions these past couple of weeks. For starters, our nanny, who I will call B, is newly pregnant, which we are thrilled about. She will make an amazing mother. She has loved our children as if they were her own for nearly two years now. She has always come up with terrific new and exciting games, spoke to them in a soft voice, instilled in them manners and independence, letters, numbers and how to care for others. She greatly helped potty train Alexandra. She was an amazing nanny, and a terrific friend. I use "was" because she’s decided to quit—with no notice which has since sent our lives into a tailspin. Not because of any inconvenience, but because of the snapped friendship now in disrepair.

B announced her pregnancy to me on a Tuesday as she knew we were having our kitchen remodeled and so there are quite a few chemical fumes from the various projects being performed and didn’t want to jeopardize her health and that of the baby, which I completely understand. She asked if she could keep the kids at her house while the work is being done. Fine, not a problem. So Wednesday was the first day this would occur and she would collect the children in the morning and take them to her house for the day. I would get them in the afternoon.

When she arrived that morning she informed me that she also was concerned about the cats that we have and the possibility that she could be exposed to toxicities that some cats carry as well as her asthma. Again, I thought this was fair even if it wasn’t my ideal situation. I would be concerned as well and would in no way want to jeopardize the life of myself or especially my unborn. She noted that she was having some tests performed by her doctor and that if they showed that she should steer clear that she would have to either keep the kids at her house until I find someone else to replace her or that I would have to replace her immediately. I agreed although I haven’t ever been to her home and thus I don’t know what kind of conditions they will be in though I trust B, I mean she’s been with us for a long time. She says this might all be of no concern and that she would let me know when her doctors calls sometime that day or the day following.

So, I pick the kids up in the afternoon from her house and for the first time have an opportunity to view her home’s interior. This is, after all, the place where they may be playing, sleeping, and eating for the time being until I can find a replacement. I have expressed my concerns about how I feel homes should have gates on their stairs to minimize any possibility of a toddler t take a tumble and asked if she needed any gates and that I have plenty for her to borrow while the kids are in her care under her roof. She assured me that she had plenty and that it was of no concern. So when I get to her house there is not a gate in place. There are no toys shown. I asked where the kids play and she tells me “right here in the family room” and the basement, which I did not see. So I ask where Annika will sleep. She says her spare room. Again, I have not seen this room. I did, however spot a plateful of coins in her kitchen on a low lying shelf which was in clear sight of my toddler. I was sort of speechless and felt terribly uncomfortable at that moment. The only comment I made was to remark on a beautiful oversized coffee table that she has. She noted that it was selected because of its soft edges.

So we work our way to the car and I place the kids in their seats. As I am ready to leave she tells me that her doctor has in fact advised her not to be in the house with the cats and would I be ok with the kids coming to her house until I find a replacement, which I will have to anyway because she’s pregnant and I will not have her forever anyway, right?

We have this back and forth about how it would be beneficial for me to find someone new but she agreed to watch the kids until then and for however long it took. I then express my concerns with how I didn’t see any toys, or the spaces where the kids would be playing (basement) or where they would be sleeping (spare room) and that she didn’t have any gates. Her reply was that the gates were not up because she was “one foot away from Annika” and that the toys were already put away in the giant coffee table which I had commented on. At no time, however, had she mentioned that while we were in the house. To this she says, “ now it sounds like you don’t trust me.” To that I replied that if these were her kids she would be asking the same questions. I just know she would. What mother in her right mind would not??

Needless to say the rest of the conversation was awkward but I reluctantly agreed to the kids going to her house Friday though I left crying to my friend Usha on the phone noting my concerns.

No more than three hours later, I get a phone call-- from B’s HUSBAND telling me that he’s concerned with her health and the current state of her pregnancy and that we should sever our ties effective immediately. He’d personally deliver my car seats and house key in the coming days. B couldn’t even call me herself, and worse, she didn’t say goodbye to my children whom she cared about so dearly.

I feel terrible. I feel hurt, sad. I resent her for leaving me in a lurch, and for caring so little for the friendship we forged over the past year and a half, and for my children. I feel like the bad guy. But why??

As a mother I am entitled (do you hear me? ENTITLED) to ask as many questions about the care my children are receiving, where they are to play, with what toys, in what rooms, etc, etc, etc, and that in no way should I make any excuses for doing so. These are my kids!!! I also have the right to call however many times I want, and to ask where my kids are throughout the day. I also have the right to know exactly what they ate, what time they slept, what game and toys they played with, when the took a poop, EVERYTHING!

I attribute her naïveté to her not having any children of her own just yet and KNOW that she will feel very differently when she has her own. I, too, thought I knew everything there was to know about kids before I had my own...

Maybe my strong feelings for my children were too much for her. Maybe I was too forward. Whatever the reason I'm not sure I ever will understand what happened and why. What i do know is that I never will compromise the health, safety, happiness and well being of my children. Never.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Friday, October 3, 2008

What An Outrage: Tainted Candy and Infant Formula. You wont believe how it got there!

Can someone tell me why we even do business with China???

With Halloween fast approaching it sickens me to think that once again we’re faced with having to dodge purchasing items for our children because of the negligence of certain government agencies to keep tabs on the manufacturing of consumer goods within their counties and others. This time it’s candy manufactured in China.

Wasn’t it nearly a year ago that we were having yet this same conversation about the toy industry and the lead that was coating the surfaces of hundreds of thousands of toys manufactured in, you guessed it, China that were eventually pulled from the market? At that time, parents all over the country were turning in now recalled toys and refraining from purchasing anything for their kids at the holidays.

This time the culprit is a chemical substance called melamine which is high in nitrogen, is used to make plastics and fertilizers and experts say some amount of the chemical may be transferred from the environment during food processing. But in China's case, suppliers trying to boost output are believed to have diluted their milk, adding melamine because its nitrogen content can fool tests aimed at verifying protein.

Melamine has been associated with contaminated infant formula and other Chinese products containing milk protein. INFANT FORMULA! This is a complete outrage! How can they do this!!
The contamination has been blamed for the deaths of four children and kidney ailments among 54,000 others. More than 13,000 children have been hospitalized and 27 people arrested in connection with the tainting.

Melamine can cause kidney stones, leading to kidney failure. Infants are particularly vulnerable.
On Wednesday, the Chinese government identified 15 more Chinese dairy companies as producing milk products contaminated with melamine, bringing the total to 20 companies. At least 100 batches of milk powder have been found to contain the chemical, according to data on the food safety administration's website.

Last week, California health officials announced it discovered traces of melamine in White Rabbit candy it tested. Queensway Foods Company Inc. of California distributed the candy and says it is recalling it.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is working with state and local governments to check for and test products that could possibly be contaminated with melamine. Last Friday, the FDA warned consumers not to consume White Rabbit Candy and Mr. Brown coffee products because of possible melamine contamination.

The vanilla-flavored candy has also been pulled from shelves in Hawaii, Asia and Britain, and tests in Singapore and New Zealand last week found White Rabbit sweets tainted with melamine. The Shanghai-based maker of the candy, Guan Sheng Yuan Co., said last week it was halting production of the sticky, taffy-like confection, an iconic brand beloved by generations of Chinese.

The candy is sold in more than 50 countries throughout Asia and the world, including most of the Chinatowns in the United States. Overseas sales have reached $160 million over the past five years.

Friday, September 19, 2008

No Room for Error in a Child's Life

My head is on a swivel. I know, you’re thinking ‘ok, yeah, and what mother’s head isn’t,’ right? I guess I am just starting to feel the effects now of just how exhausting it can be.

Nearly every vehicle pulling into Alexandra’s preschool is an SUV or minivan. For nearly 20 minutes at arrival and dismissal you can see the fleet of hig-off-the-ground cars pulling in and backing up one after the other, and in many cases in unison. The parking lot happens to be adjacent to the lovely playground that sports two exit/entry ways, a peeve of mine for sure.

The rules at her school are that children must be escorted by parents and caregivers into school, but brought out by teachers to waiting caregivers and parents at dismissal. I have to say, I like the latter a lot because I can park next to the sidewalk, hop out of the car and collect my waiting child.

I try to get to school early so that she and Annika can play on the playground before school starts-- considering I have to get Annika out of the car anyway and why not save myself the screaming fit which is to come if I don’t allow the baby to stretch her legs instead of tossing her in and out of the car like a bag of sand. The benefit to arriving early also is that there are three times fewer people than at dismissal and the same goes for the lesser activity in the parking lot. The luxury of arriving early doesn’t always bode well with me, so i am now faced with having to allow them playtime at dismissal.

This means I am dodging book bags that are strewn about on the playground floor, trading pleasantries with the other moms whom I just know are judging me already because not only do I appear totally frazzled in my attempt to locate both girls, but also that someone else does drop off and pick up on most days, and trying to keep an eye on Annika hoping she doesn’t get walloped in the head by someone swinging, or fall off one of the many playground structures; and Alexandra who is typically on the other end of the playground intertwined with about four dozen other kids the same height. This coupled with the barrage of cars pulling in and out like soldiers going off to war.

Today was one of the days I did manage to get there early. Both of the girls had the chance to play for a few minutes: Alexandra on the swing and Annika in one of the wooden structures. Suddenly the doors pop open and the children begin filing into school. Within the split second it took me to bend down and lift Annika, the eight or so kids and their parents have disappeared. When I turn to find Alexandra, she’s gone. All that’s left is her blue Ariel backpack and an empty yellow swing moving back and forth like a scene from a horror movie. When I call for her there is no response. So my thought is that she’s filed in after the rest of the crew. When I go to her classroom, there is no Alexandra! Where is she? Luckily my friend Usha is there to grab Annika and I dart out the door in my search. There she is on the playground--alone, unfazed that she’s shaved 10 years from my life.

This has proven to be too much for me. Starting today, playtime after school is over. I just can’t handle it. I am in a constant state of panic anytime I have to take my eyes off one of the girls for just a second. I know I should give Alexandra more credit because she’s nearly four already, but I would be a complete hypocrite if I said she’ll be fine. I have quoted to many and most that “there is no room for error in a child’s life” and I take that as gospel. I can’t rely on my good teachings or better intentions to believe that she’ll do what I expected of her. She’s still too young in my opinion and I have to do what is right for us all. That’s the role of a parent, right?

I don’t know how other mother’s do it. God bless those of you who manage but I have discovered my limitations one by one, and this happens to be one.

I know that this phase too shall pass and soon things will get easier, but I need all of us here to witness that. So I am doing everything that I can to ensure the safety of my children and continue to live by my motto sited above because after all in my opinion, there is no room for error in a child’s life.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Teaching the "Wright" Way

In his quest to beat Friday afternoon rush hour traffic and to spend more time with the family, Andy was admittedly rushing out the door a little too briskly when he took a headed down a flight of stairs at his office. He is okay—bruised body and ego aside.

As he entered the house—generously limping—Alexandra rushed to his side asking for a recount of his occurrence. When he described what happened--he was walking down the steps with a few things in his hands when he tripped and luckily was able to catch himself before getting terribly hurt. She quickly felt it was her duty to teach him right from wrong.

“Daddy, you have to be more careful and hold the rail.”

His response was that he did, and that we always hold the rail when walking down the steps.

"But daddy, you have to walk slow down the steps and not rush."

We knew our teachings would later come back to bite us. This, I am sure, is only the start of what is to come!

Later she triaged his wounds and sauntered over to the bathroom to quickly fashion a bandage to his boo-boos. Princess Band-Aids or Ratatouille? Your choice. Ratatouille was the selection and he walked away with numerous colorful images across his legs admittedly feeling better than his doctor-in-training had adequately shown her early skills.

We both felt very proud of her and her caring ways. We’re hoping this spurs a real interest in her and if it pans out, moreover leading to a terrific scholarship to Penn!!! :)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembering 9-11

I couldn’t allow for the day to end without remembering 7th anniversary of the most tragic day in modern history: 9-11-01.

Of course we all can recount where we were and what we were doing on that day. The awful images are etched on our minds. The days and months that followed passed slowly, and I just felt hollow.

For me, each day following 9-11 meant living in fear. The rumors of what would be targeted next—an extremist carrying on board the subway a backpack filed with explosives, tainting of our water supply, Anthrax, and who can forget the red bar that scrolled across the television screen reminding us that we’re in a heightened state of alert.

I was married only a few months prior to 9-11-01. We purchased our first home together that same year, we were beginning our lives together, and yet in an instant we suddenly had to start thinking of our mortality--Set up life insurance should something happen, arrange for a will, remember to say I love you, and see you soon should you never see one another again, remember to breathe each breath as if it was your last.

The day for me started as usual. I was in my high-rise office when I received an email from Andy. I wish I had kept it but something tells me I probably deleted it immediately after receiving. Why? Because the message read something like this, “a plane just hit the World Trade Center.” Moments later, after I brushed it off what I imagined to be a small-craft Cesena that veered off course, I received a second message. “do you think it’s terrorism…?”

That is when I got off my chair, walked to my boss’s office (we are both former reporters so you one would have thought I’d already be on this) and found he was dragging a television down the hall. We watched in horror as the second plane hit.

It was as if time stood still and I went deaf.

I worked in public relations so we quickly had to put together our crisis communications plans—though we had none. Working with human resources, and building management we decided it would be best to shut down the building. It was, after all, a high rise in the path between NYC and DC.

I, like most of the city, scurried to the train station only to find them all full and on a standstill. People lined major streets holding signs scribbled on lined paper with anything they could find—for me it was eyeliner—noting their destination hoping to hitch a ride home, or close to it. There were no strangers that day.

I eventually found a bus route home. Three hours later, and many attempts to reach Andy by phone with no luck—remember there was no cell service—I arrived a few miles from home where he found me wandering around twisting my head toward the sky for any signs of planes in the air. It was eerily silent.

For the hours following the attack I attempted to get it touch through downed phone lines with old co-workers in NYC and friends and family in Connecticut who could see the smoke billowing from the towers, and those who I knew were traveling that day, to hear their voices and calm my fear that something tragic may have happened to them.

These were not good times for anyone, me included. In the weeks following I missed the mortgage payment and spent most of my waking hours while not at work glued to the television for days on end watching over and over the planes hitting the towers. I was just flat out depressed.

Now seven years later I think we all can say we live our lives just a little differently. For me, 9-11 changed everything. It’s probably one of the biggest reasons why I left my job after having children. Traveling is no longer a longed-after activity for me. And the thought of one less day with my family is forever frightening.

Maybe 9-11 has shown us a lot of lessons. Lesson in love and life, and what to cherish and how not to sweat the small stuff.

For every replay of those planes hitting the Towers or Pentagon, I hear a whisper from God reminding us to slow down, be still and cherish every day, for you never know when it will be your last.

Up in the Morning and Out to School...

"Whose child is this?" I asked one day Seeing a little one out at play
"Mine", said the parent with a tender smile" Mine to keep a little while
To bathe his hands and comb his hair
To tell him what he is to wear
To prepare him that he may always be good
And each day do the things he should"
"Whose child is this?" I asked again
As the door opened and someone came in
"Mine", said the teacher with the same tender smile
"Mine, to keep just for a little while
To teach him how to be gentle and kind
To train and direct his dear little mind
To help him live by every rule
And get the best he can from school"
"Whose child is this?" I ask once more
Just as the little one entered the door
"Ours" said the parent and the teacher as they smiled
And each took the hand of the little child

"Ours to love and train together
Ours this blessed task forever."
(Author unknown)

As I snapped the final photo of Alexandra with bookbag in hand and a hard grin on her face I felt the lump forming in my throat.

I was totally surprised by my reaction, really. I mean, Alexandra has been the care of others since she was a mere 14 weeks old so why would I be overcome by this emotional wave?

I guess It all has to do with seeing her grow up.

There stood my once premature baby girl completely consumed with the idea that she was going to school to meet friends and play and have a grand old time. She was ready to get her first set of big-girl wings and fly without a second’s hesitation to look back at me-- Her weepy mother saddened by the fact that her baby is a baby girl no more.

I really shouldn’t be surprised. She loves being in the company of others. She’s also physically and emotionally ready to take on some new and interesting challenges, for starters being in a more structured environment.

In addition to pre-school, she is taking soccer and has entered a more advanced Sunday school program. More advanced in that she is with older children who have had much more interaction with others in a school involvement. All of this, I believe, will be great for her. Stepping stones to the next chapter ladened with an exciting journey ahead.

I just hope I learn to hold it together for when I pick up her!!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Comic Relief

I found this comic (For Better or For Worse, Sept. 7, 2008. Click on the above image for a readable version) to speak volumes about moms in general and the unsolicited advice that is constantly thrown our way.

On any given day I feel like I am on the defense. It may come from family or friends, or worse, complete strangers. The kids are acting up, I am losing my temper—feeling frazzled—and grasping at any and all straws to make my and the girls’ situation more tolerable. And in many cases that means simply giving in.

I have read numerous articles and books, and heard the suggestions from multiple professionals about what not to do, and in my opinion, it’s a heck a lot easier to give advice when you’re not the one on the receiving end.

This I know first hand because I’ve been there. I was a self professed know it all about children. Keep in mind this was before I even had kids. Words uttered from my lips were filled with quips such as “if I were their mother I would…” or “if that was my kid…”

I quickly learned that I was wrong and have since vowed never to pass judgment on another mother again. No way, no how, particularly since I haven’t the slightest clue what one day or the next will bring to my already crazed life.

So what is a mother to do?

Laugh, I guess. Cry sometime, but generally acknowledge and move on. Accept and tackle the task at hand and remember to take the advice you’re being given from those who are not on the inside with a grain of salt. After all, “you can’t be the referee if you don’t know the game!”

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Mean Girls

Recently I found myself crying inside for the way Lex had been treated by her older cousin.

Now I understand fully that older kids at an early time in their lives reach a point when playing with their younger counterparts is just not cool. I get it, but I couldn’t help recently feeling myself breaking inside when Lex was shafted by her older cousin. I felt like it was a school-age me years ago trying too hard to be friends with the most popular girl and being brushed off.

Lex’s five-year-old cousin hadn’t been feeling well that particular day and so was a bit less interested in playing than normal. Under normal circumstances Alexandra and her older cousin typically play well, but as her cousin has gotten older and more interested in “looking up” to other kids her interest in Lex has diminished. I expect I’ll see the same with Lex and other younger children in the coming months and years.

At any rate, Lex approached her cousin a little too excitedly on this day and complimented her on her Ariel swimsuit with no response. Unphased, Lex then went ahead and attempted to approach her cousin repeatedly to play with her and issued a barrage of questions: Wanna play Barbie’s with me? Here you can have this one. Do you like my dress? It has ladybugs on it. Can I play with that too? This ultimately created an unsettling feeling with her older cousin and the response was “leave me alone. I don’t like you. Stop looking at me, you’re so annoying!”

My heart broke.

I warned Lex on our drive that her cousin hadn’t been feeling well and that she may not want to play. And I felt really bad for her mother who admittedly noted how embarrassing it is when kids do that to one other. I agreed, and know that my time with my own children is soon coming.
Later that night I recounted the story to my husband and found tears coming to my eyes. It wasn’t that long ago when I was a preadolescent riding the bus home and felt kids snickering in the back about my pimpled face. Or when I was that kid in high school who was being passed over by friends because I didn’t have the latest handbag, or shoes or cool new jeans or the hottest party at my house. Or when I gained a few too many pounds in college and came home for the summer to have comment said about me.

It was interesting to me that I even recounted this. It doesn’t seem to phase me now as an adult but in times like these, they are brought to mind. And to tell you the truth, I think it makes me a stronger, better person for having learned these early lessons.

Like I said, I know kids are kids and will do what they will. I guess my biggest lesson will be to separate my emotions from those of my children and realize that these experiences will only strengthen their character and in the long-run and not make much of a difference later in life. After all, I’m certain we’ll go through many iterations of this very act. For me it will be two-times over because after all, girls will be girls, and I have two!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Reflection on the Past Leads to Visions of the Future

I recently joined LinkedIn, a social networking website used mostly for business connections, to see just what’s out there in the big bad world of corporate American, and surprisingly I have come across a ton of lost classmates and former colleagues whom I have not seen or heard from in years.
It’s exciting to see the paths that many have taken, and to share my own story along the way. It has helped me to reflect on just how much has been accomplished already in my short life. People seem genuinely excited to hear about our girls and are quick to send out photos of their own children. It’s so fun to see just how much in many cases there is a resemblance. It’s also exciting to see the kinds of career paths that many have chosen, and to see just how some of those young-and-eager-to-climb-the-corporate-ladder friends who I enjoyed one-too-many parties with have matured.

It wasn’t that long ago that life was all about cocktail parties, black tie affairs and networking event, followed by conferences and dinners and meetings upon meetings, Friday happy hours, and stumbling onto the late train home. It’s fun to look back on, but even more fun to ponder on where we’re going.

With life’s quirky twists and turns, it seems that all of our stories mold us into what we are today. And while now those meetings and events happen a little less frequently-- and as I always say I still have 30 more hard working years ahead of me so I’ll get where I want to be, eventually-- there’s nothing that beats a couple of cut up hot dogs and ketchup-covered faces to make my day complete!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Rock On Giveaway!

MusingsofaHousewife.com is having an ultra fab giveaway this week by Swede at Heart (thanks for the tip, Shannon). Check out the site and select your favorite piece (my fav is pictured above), and leave a comment for a chance to win. Post the site on your blog for an extra chance to win. How much easier can that get? I like easy!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Shoe Fetish--Crocs Sassari

I came across the new Crocs Sassari wedge. I for a long time was not a big fan of Crocs on anything other than for a child. I think it was those holes on the Cayman that annoyed me. They were so reminiscent of a duckbill. There also is something about a grown man wearing bright purple Crocs to match his bright purple polo that doesn't appeal to me. Alexandra has a bright yellow pair of Cayman (her fav color, at least on the day they were chosen and I have to say the color makes it easy to spot her at the playground) with all of her favorite princess Jibbitz and wears them constantly. My mother gave me a pair this spring that are a maryjane style (Alice) and I wear that often. My feet do sweat—a trade off for comfort, however.

I have a wide Barney Rubble foot and so finding shoes that are cute and comfy is a struggle for me, and the Cayman was certainly not going to fit the bill there. I have been looking all summer long for a more stylish shoe that wasn’t short on comfort and at last, I think I hit the jackpot! Last night I was in the mall and this super cool pair of stylish Crocs caught my eye. I love how lightweight they are, and that they are stylish and have a heel to them (love anything with a heel, really.)
There are a few other “perks” to the shoe that you should know:
-- No leather materials used in construction.
-- The retro Sassari wedge from Crocs™ delivers style and versatility.
-- Two-tone upper with Crocs™ logo for a sleek look that catches the eye.
-- Made of croslite™ that softens with body heat and molds to the foot for a custom fit.
-- Comfy footbed conforms to the heel while circulation nubs stimulate blood flow. ----- Resistant to bacteria and fungus in order to help prevent odor and promote foot health.
-- Slip-resistant and non-marking outsole provides excellent traction for solid footing. -- 2 1/2" heel.
-- A lightweight 6.00 oz!!!

So, what do you think? Hit or Miss? Let me know! Would love to receive your comments…

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Busy Mommy + Bad Memory = ?

The moment that you have waited for has finally arrived: the day you bring your newborn baby home from the hospital. Like all other expectant parents you will have spent the last nine months preparing for this day. You will have a baby room full of everything a newborn could possibly want. You will have read book after book on a wide magnitude of baby topics from what to name your baby to when you can expect those first words. You will have walked and paced the length of baby's room, imagining your little bundle sleeping peacefully in her crib. Now the moment has arrived. In the crib lies your sleeping baby and the most exciting adventure of life is about to begin and you’re ready to record every waking moment, right? Wrong!

Many parents, myself included, have the greatest intention to document each burp, giggle and poop but unfortunately simply forget.

I noticed this only recently when I looked back at Alexandra’s baby “book” for comparison purposed to discover how she and Annika differ in their development.

For starters, the book isn’t much of a book at all, but rather a calendar of her first year. Sure it documents when her umbilical cord stump fell off, when she first slept through the night and her first taste of mashed peas, but much to my dismay it didn’t include many of the other milestone events that I wished I could recollect, particularly those that occurred after her first 365 days of life and for her, that means a lot. Particularly when she walked, or talked, formed sentences, scribbled her first few lines with a crayon, formed a blob with playdough, counted, recited the alphabet or song or poem. Oh the list goes on and how guilty I feel!

Many of these are documented in the margins and in open calendar spots to signify when one months starts and the other ends. Often we document the darndest things that kids say, but often they go unnoticed, particularly when you have other children who are in their own first year.

Many of those major milestones drift to an occasional this or that as children get older and somehow get seared into our minds, but what about those that don’t? Naturally I cannot reverse the clock so my only choice is to move forward--starting today. My first entry: Alexandra tells me about her first dream.

Upon waking this morning, Alexandra told me that she had a dream last night. Ariel-- that gorgeous mermaid with sweeping red hair, tiny waist and impeccably perky personality--and she were swimming together. I lit up! How wonderful! I have read that children start to form dreams—good or bad—at around age four. I always wondered what happened during those hours of slumber and now I guess I know!

I press on asking what else she saw in her dream. Flounder? Prince Eric? Scuttle? Yes, yes and more yes is what I got as a response. I walked away feeling so excited that my big girl has shared with me an exciting milestone in her development.

I don’t know why I left that conversation feeling so excited. It’s not like she hasn’t done some amazing things all along. I guess it’s because I feel like she’s growing so fast and experiencing something like this is incredible and a true testament that my big girl is, in fact, a big girl!

I now have a renewed energy and outlet, thus this blog, to jot things down as they happen so as not to ever forget.

This certainly will go down into the calendar, even if it does find it way crammed onto the back page. :)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Our New Addition…Welcome Carla Jenny Sunshine

We have a new addition. Her name (well, because we have two girls we automatically assume she’s a she) is Carla Jenny Sunshine, named by my lovely Alexandra. She’s a lovely betta fish who is purple and very beautiful.

The addition to our family all transpired when our nanny Beth bought one for her goddaughter last week. She brought the girls with her on her journey and selected the fish together. Then headed to the craft store to purchase a glass vase of sorts and topped it off with a nice plant (for the record, I would never have thought to do something that creative!). The fish looked very comfortable and Alexandra was extremely enamored by Sunshine swimming around her new confines. When it was time for Beth to take Ms. Sunshine away it was as if I was looking into the eyes of an abandoned puppy. Alexandra’s face just melted. I knew then that although we were very content with our two cats, two children and two adults that we just had to add some odd numbers into the mix and so Carla Jenny Sunshine was born.

Beth had the task of taking the girls once again on a new excursion to the pet store and came back equipped with all of the comforts a fish could wish for. Pretty hot pink rocks, dazzling blue crystals, mini trees and a surfing ladybug.

It’s Alexandra’s duty to each day feed Carla Jenny Sunshine just the right amount of food and to keep her company. Good training, we think, for that dreadful day when she asks for a dog…

Except for the fact that she’s not eating…we’ll keep up with Carla Jenny Sunshine’s progress and pray that we wont anytime soon need to purchase a skimmer. :)

Saturday, August 2, 2008

A Little Boy's Life Lives on with a Much Larger Legacy--Remembering Dylan

Today we remember Dylan James Manning (DJ) who died on this day two years ago from a rare generic disorder called Tay-Sachs Disease. He was three months shy of his 5th birthday.

Tay-Sachs is a preventable but fatal disease, historically found mostly in Ashkenazi Jews, however research has categorized French Canadians, Louisiana Cajun, Pennsylvania Dutch as high risk, and preliminary data suggests persons of British Isle and Italian decent are to be considered high-risk.

A simple blood test can determine if you are a carrier of the gene –both parties must be carriers and you then have a one in four chance of having a child with the disease.

Andy’s very good friend is Dylan’s dad. They were neighborhood friends who grew up together, playing basketball and acting as kids do. Andy has said time and again that you never think this could happen to someone you know. When I learned of Dylan's condition several years back I remember feeling absolutely heartbroken for the family. We tracked his progress daily and always had him and his family in our prayers. Then, as his days came near the end and finally we received news that Dylan was no longer alive, I broke down. My Alexandra was only 20 months old, and I couldn’t have imagined what their family was going through. How that mother will never hold her baby again.

Andy and I attended the services held by the family and I was amazed at the unbelievable strength the family displayed. They have said they live for Dylan-- His life carried with it a much larger purpose: To educate people about how the disease can be prevented.

Each year we vow to remember Dylan’s life and continue his legacy by spreading the word—Andy by wearing the blue “Just Believe” bracelet he hasn’t removed in nearly four years--and by having our children participate in a balloon launch in Dylan’s name. [Photos from last year’s balloon launch are above.]

For more information, please visit http://www.ntsad.org/. To learn about DJ and his life please see http://www.djsfoundation.org/ or http://www.caringbridge.org/cb/viewJournal.do?method=executeInit.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

If Moms Ruled the World There Would Be a Lot Less Bellyaching!

I came across and article yesterday about how a recent CareerBuilder.com poll showed that 78 percent of workers feel burned out at work, and it got me thinking.

The article notes that 46 percent of workers say their workload has increased over the last six months and approximately the same percentage describe their current workload as heavy or too heavy.

I’d argue that my workload has increase over the past six months since having another child.

For starters, I now have to do at least one extra load of laundry each week. This includes sorting, folding and putting away. I have an extra bedroom to clean, I wash far more dishes now that we have four mouths eating at each meal, I have more places that I have to take my three-year-old to keep her busy which means more hauling of a 14-month-old, I have one more person who I have to make happy during each waking hour, I have more toys to clean up off the floor, I have double the kisses, hugs, stories and prayers to say each night, there are bigger boo-boos to kiss, more reasoning to be done on a daily basis with people who don’t want to listen to me, and more weight to carry on each arm when getting in and out of the car (36, and 20lbs, respectively).

So, do I get a vacation away from my “coworkers” or “employees”? Let me check my calendar. Oh why waste my time. The answer is no. Should I expect more pay? Oh, silly question. So, what does a burned out mom do to stay sane?

Actually, I have to admit that I think I am lucky to have an outlet by going to work a few days a week. Others may have differing opinions. When I go to work I get to dress in something other than my usual stained t-shirt and jeans, drink coffee in front of my computer without the fear of second- or third- degree burns occurring at the hand of a 14-month-old, see and speak to other like-minded adults and eat lunch without having to stop 12 times a minute to get a napkin for someone else, wipe their butt after using the potty, refill a sippy cup, cut up more grapes, or wipe up the spilled jelly on the floor.

But the bottom line is that I’m still a mom, and there is no escaping that. You get burned out and you have to deal with it. You “rise to the occasion,” do what you have to without complaint and manage as best as you can. We cant just quit. We’re moms and we’re truly blessed by the beautiful gift of of children.

The article does offer some advise, however, that applies to all working people; and we all know raising kids is one hell of a job! Here are a few tips which we all can apply to our daily lives:

* Learn to say no. Reduce your commitments both at work and home.

* Get organized. Create a checklist of things that need to be addressed for that day and focus on those tasks only.

* Get plenty of rest, eat a healthy diet and remember to exercise. Working out can significantly reduce stress levels.

* Finally, give yourself a break.

So, if life gives you lemons, make lemonade. And P.S. I won’t tell if you add a splash of vodka!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Here kitty, kitty!

Ok, so we have two cat-- although if visiting you’re almost certain to see only one. One is a little, let’s say, feisty. To say he’s not much for visitors would be an understatement.

Gunther came to us from a family of other kitties whose mom was a stray. A friend of my husband saw the mother cat struggling to carry her babies one-by-one across the street under a bush when the family came out and rescued the handful of kittens and finally the mother cat.

We had done some research and decided early on that the best fit would be to get a male cat, as our other cat, Flika, is a female. When we first visited Gunther he and his sister and brothers were resting comfortably in my husband’s friend’s basement weeks away from safely being adopted. We scooped all of the kittens up and placed them in our laps. Each cuddled up nuzzled into crevices of our arms, legs and neck—except for Gunther. After each placement back into our lap, he’d land on the floor, or climbing behind our heads or wherever he could get that was just enough out of reach that we’d have to get up and move to get him. “That’s the one I want!” exclaimed my husband. Great. Let’s settle on ADD cat!! That will go over real well with my charming little lady cat who’s as docile as docile can be.

Well a few weeks later we drove up to claim our new kitty. At first he was a sweetie. He’s nap with you, and cuddle. He and Flika had their moments until each got used to the other being a part of the family. Flika especially since this was her turf and now it was being invaded by ADD cat.

Fast forward six years and two children later. Gunther is less than amused by our girl’s chasing him down to pet him, which is a daily occurrence in our home.
This all started, and has now become a steady post-dinner ritual, when Alexandra was about two. Dad and she would run upstairs and announce “Let’s get Gunther.” Everyone lands on all fours with cocked heads to the side to get a glimpse of two scared cats under the bed. Gunther inevitably hisses and on occasion spits, but dad and the girls seem to think this is a real treat. Until today…

Alexandra has recently learned more about danger and now finds Gunther frightening if he’s a little too aggressive. As she lifts the bed skirt, Gunther lets out his usual barrage of hisses warding of the enemy. Cats do this as a warning, right, but no one here seems to heed that warning.

Annika now has gotten in on the act but has yet to learn danger. So Gunther is a little more feisty than usual today—what else is new, right. Well, Annika has now half of her miniscule cranium under the bed, arms sweeping back and forth, and until like a scene from Discovery, Gunther lunges at her and swats her chubby little arm as if he’s a lion after a gazelle.

She’s completely freaked by this incident, as is Alexadnra. Now I have two children in hysterics. After a long drawn out few mintes of wiping tears and calming fears, the girls quickly recover.

Bath and bedtime come and go, and as I exit the bedrooms after my last kiss goodnight, who’s looking at me purring? You guessed it. Gunther, the same cat who will cuddle up with me for eight hours each night and rest comfortably until a new day dawns; and the girls look for another day ofa cruel game of hide and seek.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Bringin' it real the New England way!

For my friends from the Main Line to Maine, enjoy!!!
Thanks for bringing me back "home,"Laurie!

Friday, July 25, 2008

His "last lecture"...

With equal parts humor and heart, Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch delivered a one-of-a-kind last lecture that moved audiences around the globe.

Randy died July 25 of complications from pancreatic cancer. He was 47.
If you've not seen his "The Last Lecture" do so today. It's an amazing display of love for his family, and his life.

Watch Randy's lecture on YouTube, download the transcript [.pdf]. (Due to heavy traffic, the transcript site may experiencing problems.)
***REPRISED VERSION given on Oprah. This is only 12 minutes long. If you see nothing else, please see this. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8577255250907450469

Learn more about Randy's book "The Last Lecture"

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Brains are 'a poppin'!

After watching this video you will question if you ever should talk on that phone again!


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Great minds sometimes forget--or get lost!!!

I used to boast a terrific memory. I also used to think I was a terrific planner. For whatever reason both of these have taken a back seat to my kids and thus forgetting is art of my nature now.
I always was the person who sent cards on birthdays, planned for various aspects of my life—daily ad future—and was always one step ahead. Gifts were wrapped the night before a party, bills were paid a week or more in advance, lists were checked and rechecked but now I am lucky to have anything done in advance. Every aspect of my life is late, worse, lost.

Does it have anything to do with age. Maybe. But moreover I think it has much more to do with the number of balls one has in the air at once. The juggling act could warrant addition to the circus, but I think those folks actually remember what they’re tasked with!

I really do have a lot of moving parts occurring right now. I start several days a week with kid undressing and dressing, feeding, changing, remembering to remind my big girl to use the potty, wash hands, prepare and eat breakfast, pick up toys, stop hitting your sisters, and on and on. Empty the dishwasher, add more dishes, clean up breakfast, dress myself, refill sippy cups, sweep up the floor, and then we get to 8:30 when the doorbell rings and Beth our trusty second set of hands arrives and off I go to manage a whole new set of responsibilities. I end my day with more changing of diapers, full family preparations for feeding dinner, changing of clothing, baths, snuggles, stories, a variety of songs and prayers before heading back to the kitchen to prepare more meals for the following day, opening the mail, loading the dishwasher, jotting down what I need to remember for tomorrow and finally working out, folding and putting away laundry returning calls, showering, checking my email messages for the last time that day, saying prayers and hitting the hay. Ultimately something is left undone,. But that’s life, right?

Recently, I have had yet another thing that been mind consuming. It’s that Beth will be driving the kids to and from activities. Maybe some would shrug and think this isn’t a big deal but for me it’s a battle of my conscious and has kept me up for far too many nights than I care to. It’s not that I don’t trust Beth, it’s that I don’t trust anyone else.

Take for example that Alexandra was driven once in her life by another person other than me or her dad. It was the day Annika was born and my step-MIL drove her to the hospital, and back home. That was it. So now I am supposed to take a deep breath and hand over the most important people in my life and I am freaking out. I mean boarder line schizo. Beth is totally stressed out--and it doesn’t help that my husband does not have a poker face and was stressing about the car seat not having a latch! –and I am stressing about her driving, and now everyone is uncomfortable! HELP! Am I crazy, for real? I think so. I just need to breathe, to let it all out and I guess this is my own way of expressing myself for now. So, deal with me as I rant and feel free to send along any encouraging notes you may have. I sure can use them! Because for now, I am really am “losing” my mind.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Where did all the good TV go?

My hubby and I flipped through the dozens of TV channels last night to discover that MTV has yet another ridiculous, sleazy TV show--I Love Money. It's basically all of the leftovers from various seasons of I Love New York, Flavor of Love, Rock of Love, and others grotesque reality shows that feature men and women who make total fools of themselves as they try to win the "love" of a pseudo celeb. What ever happened to real TV, the goodies, the oldies?
On occasion we'll stumbled across a retro night special on a random station that feature programs like classic drama Law & Order, or funny Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, or, my hubby's fav Tool Time (don't ask me...) and get overjoyed starting with the singing of the theme songs and chiming in along with the audience laughter. We chat about how young they look, comment over the corny jokes and lighthearted dialogue, and wondered “Where did all the "good" TV go?”

One of our very favorite TV shows was American Dreams. It's a classic American tell-all dreamt up by Dick Clark and aired several years ago on NBC. It is set in the early- to mid-60s and features a middle class family in Philadelphia. Shows racial strife, political scenes of its time, teen, family and marriage struggles, and the effects of war on families. We bought the first season on DVD and luckily found the remaining seasons (three) on the web from some brilliant fellow in New Jersey who lucky for us Tivo'd the episodes. We happily bought them and enjoy them regularly.

It's certain to be a show we share with our girls, though they'll surely turn their head in disgust because of it's "old" feel. Heck, by the time they see it the show really will be old, but my thought is that it could actually serve as a lesson in history, and if nothing else, an excuse to get together in front of the TV to watch a program that where strippers are not shedding their clothing for a chance at $50!

Don't get me wrong, there are several reality TV shows that i actually do find entertaining but more that i wish would head for the hills. The Hills, isn't that one of them?

Until network execs find that reality TV has reached its hay day i suppose we'll watch reruns of American Dreams courtesy of our shady Jersey friend, and hope that our girls will enjoy it too.

Let's Hear it for this Mom!

Swimmer Dara Torres beat the odds and earned a fifth Olympic berth with a victory over the American-record holder Natalie Coughlin and coming within 0.02 of her best time ever. It is simply amazing to realize that Torres, now 40 and a mother of a two-year-old, competed at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, a time that many of her competitors weren't even born. The link below points to a pre-Olympic trials interview with Women's Health magazine where she drives home 3 points:
(1) your body can be rock-hard at 40;
(2) a baby doesn't have to slow you down; and
(3) when it comes to any goal, it's all about how bad you want it.
Let's hear it for this mommy!!!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Words to Live By...

Bigger Barns
"Bigger barns are what I need!" So a rich man said one day." From my worries I'll be free when my wealth is stored away."

"Fool!" God said, "Today you'll die! Will your wealth mean anything? All life's blessings really lie in my life that wealth can't bring."

"Bigger barns are what we need for our money, gadgets, more!" Lord, we're tempted to believe having wealth, we'll be secure!

Somewhere children cry for food or to have a doctor's care. Can our bigger barns be good when poor neighbors know despair?

God of love, we long to know what will make us truly blest. Jesus taught us long ago wealth won't give us peace or rest. You are our security! Safe in you, we serve, O Lord. May we find we're rich indeed when we're sharing with the poor.

My Story

Ok, so it’s been, what, a measly week since I started this blog and everything I think of that would be neat and interesting to write about--to keep readers coming back for more--when put on paper sounds so bland. So i thought I would start with my story. Don't get too excited. I am sure this is going to be as enticing as mashed peas but i'll let you be the judge...

I thought about what I wanted to achieve by blogging. Why do people blog? To tell a story--their story of live and love and the pursuit of somethingness. What that somethingness is I do not know, but I can write about the others because I am lucky enough to have experienced them in my life.

As I round the corner of my mid-30's [my 35th is a matter of days away (gasp!)] i find myself looking at things with a different set of lenses. Let me explain. Short of looking myself in the mirror and actually experiencing what other more mature women have said for years---that you really do take on a different look as you age--i have found it also takes on a whole new meaning too. Recently I learned that two people whom I am fortunate enough to have met during my life's journey are struggling in life. One—a high school classmate who was the funniest, best-looking, most popular and best overall athlete--has ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), and the other—an amazing mother of triplet three-year-old-girls and a boy six whom I worked with and have since become close to-- from multiple myeloma (cancer). When I first learned of these tragedies and the severity of them, I realized that we 30-somethings actually do have to be concerned with life and quality we give it. I never did think of it before, really. It is a true shock to my senses. And yet their lives are challenged each day yet they are living life to the fullest. We all should take their examples and start living today.

Far too often we bellyache that we’re not successful enough, or fit enough or smart enough. What I have learned from them is this:

“When we choose to place our lives on hold until we think we are good enough or attractive enough or thin enough or rich enough or wise enough, we quite often discover, to our dismay, that life simply isn’t long enough. You did not come here to wait. You came to live.”

I also have learned that at this phase in live we have to ask ourselves, where are you going and what kind of mark do you want to leave behind. There are three kinds of people: 1) Those who watch what happens 2) those who make things happen 3) those who wonder what happens. What kind of person do you want to be? Makes you think, huh?

So maybe I started my blog off a little too deep. But hey, it’s my story, right? And thus my life, so lets all start living.
Until tomorrow, God bless~

Thursday, July 3, 2008

To grandmother's house we go...and return

The girls and I just returned from our jaunt to the grandparents. We did a lot more running than I expected, and sadly I think the girls had spent more time in the mac truck—Oh, and did I mention that gas there is a whopping $4.80 per gallon!--in front of a video screen than I would have preferred, but it was well worth it. Got to see the family—all of them. Great-Grandparents (blessed that we have them), grandpa and grandma, Auntie Jen & Uncle James, great aunts and uncles, cousins and second cousins. Headed to the Cove to ride bikes, play in the water and sand and visit with the ocean life. I got my exercise in thanks to Alexandra and her quick wheels, and Annika just loved life getting pushed around in her buggy. More about my cove adventure to come...

My only sister who teaches first-grade is convinced after being around my crew that she’s a one and done kind of mom of the future, if she even decides to get there. Here’s one example: I’ll simply and clearly call it shopping at the mall—with kids.

So, Annika pretty much had to forgo her naps all week. She slept here and there in the car, and was surprisingly a real peach. I would never have expected the same from Alexandra at this age. Anyway, anyone with kids knows naps are a sacred act of sanity and should not be messed with—ever—but hey, I never said I was perfect. So, we fashioniesta are at the mall at nap time and quickly attempt to grab and go few items to spruce up the ‘ole summer wardrobe when I have to try on a few things. Normally I would just buy and try but I already have a car load of things to take home and was quickly running out of room so I go into the fitting room and take my shopper in training with me while my loving mother maneuvers a double stroller through the zig-zag pattern of the store. Anyway, Alexandra asks if she, too, can try stuff on. Sure, why not. This if fun, ad will buy me a few minutes of trying stuff on myself. Well, she’s got all of this stuff on and really does look adorable. She then decides it would be a great idea to limbo under the fitting room wall with the clothing on her back to my sister in the next room. The shop keepers are looking at me mortified that their stuff is being dragged across the floor being pulled and prodded, and I don’t blame them. She managed to get approval from my sister that she looked like a princess and agreed to release the merchandise before we all ended up being part owners of this store.

Meanwhile, I return to my mom to see that Annika is screaming bloody murder—she wants out of the stroller—and to top it all off, her finger gets caught in the sun shade.

So, off to the registers I go only to have the cashier ring and then re-ring my stuff (this was not my fault, mind you) while my baby is in hysterics, my preschooler is trying on jewelry, sunglasses and throwing handbags over her shoulder and nearly toppling the display! My sister looks mortified, my mom is laughing inside because as a mother I am now getting a dose of what her life was like when I was a kid, and when I apologize TWICE to the cashier, he doesn’t acknowledge me!

Looking back at this day, I think my sister may just stick to her guns after all!