Saturday, June 21, 2008

Quote For My Son

"You don't raise heroes, you raise sons. And if you treat them like sons, they'll turn out to be heroes, even if it's just in your own eyes." - Walter Schirra Sr.

To My Little Man

Happy 1st Birthday

to my favorite little boy

in the whole wide world!!!

We love you, Joseph!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Once Again...

Beckee has correctly identified this week's Guess Who? as Scott Valentine, better known as Nick on Family Ties. This marks two consecutive wins for Beckee, who has now secured her credibility as a viable candidate for VH1's World Of Series of Pop Culture.

For those of you who are not familiar with this dynamic actor's resume, he actually was headed for stardom well before Family Ties, when he was cast to play a lead role in the 1981 film Lords of Discipline. Unfortunately, he was hit by a truck that put his career on hold for three years.

I suspect, however, that the accident may have enhanced his performance as the ever articulate Nick, Mallory's counterpart in intelligence and wit.

He has since appeared sporadically in various television shows (CSI and JAG), but has yet to comparable success since the 80s.

Guess Who?

If I may be so bold: NO ONE is going to get this one without some pretty obvious clues.

Quote of the Day

"Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family." ~Anthony Brandt

Picture of the Day

While some of us smile at the command of "Say cheese!",
others just get hungry.
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Thursday, June 19, 2008

In Memoriam

The following clip was done by some random contributor, and I am including it on the blog, not because it is any better or worse than any of the thousand other tributes floating around, but simply because it shows the rainbow that appeared over Washington as mourners left Tim Russert's memorial service. The actual song "Over the Rainbow" was played moments earlier as part of the service.

Another of Mother Nature.

Not So Sure

I was alerted to the following story by the ever fabulous Liz. According to the AP report:

NEW YORK - They may not know how famous she is, but the students at a Staten Island elementary school for autistic children sure like the way Jennifer Lopez moves.The Bronx-born singer and actress visited P.S. 37
Tuesday to perform her song "Let's Get Loud" for a group of eight
10-and-11-year-olds at their graduation ceremony. Teacher Kathy Amati says the children "really like her singing and dancing."Amati and a paraprofessional had shown the video for "Let's Get Loud" to the students. They loved it so much they wanted to watch it every day and learned the lyrics and dance moves from the video.With their teacher's encouragement, the boys wrote Lopez, hoping for pictures or an autograph. Instead, Lopez asked to come to their graduation.

**As I have previously reported/fumed/chastised, Jennifer Lopez graduated from an all-girls Catholic high school in the Bronx and, despite trumpeting herself as "Jenny from the Block", has never so much as sent a note (let alone a scholarship fund or even a measly donation through the annual fund drive), to the school. The school also has a very large population of Puerto Rican-American girls who not only idolize her, but also identify with her background and garner inspiration from her rise. The littlest thing could do so much.

But nothing. Which is why the above move has me surprised. Ever the cynic, I smell a PR move. More than that, however, is one really unsettling fact revealed in the article:

Two teachers of autistic children felt that daily viewings of "Let's Get Loud" made for effective instruction. I was an English teacher, not a teacher of special education, but does this seem odd to anyone else?

I'm all for music in the classroom (I actually played REM and Bob Dylan for two very specific lesson plans each year), but J. Lo? Really?



The First Frog Encounter

In Memoriam

Quite a legacy to leave your son; quite a gift to live each day.

Quote of the Day

"When grandparents enter the door, discipline flies out the window." ~Ogden Nash

Picture of the Day

Brotherhood: An eternal struggle between a hug and a headlock

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

For the Doubters

I am sure there may be a few of you doubt the veracity of my previous posting related to a toy that actually find penguins dancing to "Jump Around" by House of Pain.

Though I have no idea how I found this.....enjoy.

A Sign of the Times

I'm sure many of you are familiar with any one of the many toy animals, dolls, and even flowers that, when a certain button is pushed, erupt into some silly wiggle of a dance to an equally silly song. I have seen flowers dancing to "Here Comes The Sun", Teddy Bears gyrating to "Jailhouse Rock" and even a groundhog strut to the entire soundtrack of Caddyshack. Most of these really annoy me, unless I am watching them through my daughter's eyes.

She absolutely cracks up at our little chicken that does, of course, the chicken dance. She howls as it shimmies, and then tries to mimic his moves. In any other situation, I would be heading for the nearest woodchipper with the smug little chicken tight in my grip after only a few plays. But watching her with it makes it a completely different experience....and that is the case with so many things that I get to enjoy through her eyes, in spite of myself.

While at a recent playgroup, another one of the these cacophonic toys presented itself. This particular one was a collection of penguins, poised and ready to harmonize. Before I could roll my eyes at its discovery, I saw the eager faces of the three toddlers ready to dance along with its music.

And then it happened. Someone pushed the button and a song I never expected to hear out of the mouths of penguins (thanks to Happy Feet, I do expect penguins to burst into song), let alone anything having to do with children.

My mind flashbacked to the late 90s when I donned flannel, I listened to music by groups other than Lori Burkner, and I danced in a club that didn't have brightly colored floor mats and cubbies for my shoes.

The song was "Jump Around" by House of Pain.

That's right. The same song that contains the line:
"I'll serve your a@* like John MacEnroe / If your girl steps up, I'm smacking the ho".

Poetry, I know. Of course, that particular lyric was omitted from this rendition, I simply could not compartamentalize these two worlds that suddenly found themselves colliding. What did this mean? How can I come to terms with my identity then versus now? How can I reinvent my musical history?

And then came the clear as day: I had to dance.

And dance I did.

Every move from my yesteryear came out. Amid a small sea of toddlers (and to the amusement of two adults who have become more than accustomed to my antics), I "cabbage patched" and "kid and played". Heavy D had nothing on me, nor did anyone who'd never admit to ever appearing on The Grind. I was in my element and my daughter could not have enjoyed it more.

And after five minutes, I was sweaty, breathless, and in need of water.

Father's Day

There's the tie! Not the egregiously offense, lobster flanked, trainwreck of a tie that I had hoped for, but a very, nice, conservative choice for her dad.

And, yes, he did get the Home Depot store credit from me, which he is also very excited about. He also received a little digital photo frame cube for his desk from his son, which is also very conservative for our favorite businessman.

Oh, and he also got to watch golf all day.

A Way With Words

Last week's "Way with Words" posting had to do with a woman passively criticizing the fact that my friend's son was very healthy in size. Clearly any comment on a child's development that comes from a stranger (or a strange family member) is unwelcome, but what if the comment were directed at an undersized baby? My own sister-in-law has encountered this, and so this juevenile fun is for her.

Comment: Oh, my gosh, I've never seen such a small 3 year old!

What You Want To Say: And I've never seen such a large 47 year old! (Be sure to add a decade to the speaker's apparent age)

What You Could Say: I know...he has an amazing metabolism, but the doctor said it will slow with you obviously know firsthand.

What You Should Say: Yep, he's our little athlete! I just hope he'll give the other kids a little chance to keep up.

Quote of the Day

"If you want your children to be brilliant, read them fairly tales. If you want them to be geniuses, read them more fairy tales." -Albert Einstein

Picture of the Day

Sick of waiting around for old Prince What's-His-Name,
Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty decided to high-tail it out of Fairytale Land
and find their own "once upon a time" adventures.
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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Sending our best birthday wishes to Andrew!

Happy 1st birthday to our son's first friend and future Little League competitor!


Happy Birthday, Shirley-

Wishing you another year of fabulousness!

I Almost Forgot

I almost forgot to mention that my own vote for the fantasy president was with the majority. However, my choice in Bill Gates is solely and completely because of THIS:

The Votes Are In....

This week's poll was devoted to a fantasy election of sorts, where the candidates ranged from two billionaires, two leading men, one funny lady, and a couple who is now responsible for 1/3 of the global population. If you had to pick one of these candidates to rule the free world, who would it be?

The clear winner, with a whopping 42% of the votes, goes to Bill Gates. As quirky as he is philanthropic, my favorite little Prius driving egghead would almost definitely never run for a political office, but his landslide victory in this poll evidences one, unmistakable fact: we're all a little nervous about the economy.

Coming in second with half of Bill Gates' votes is comedian Ellen DeGeneres. This actually surprised me a bit, but maybe we're all just looking for someone who can make us smile and dance her way through diplomacy. It seems we've been spending decades laughing at our elected officals' expense, maybe it's time they intentionally provide the humor? The only downside to a President DeGeneres is her apparent sincerity. Such antics in a public servant may be too unsettling for the population at large.

George Clooney and Oprah Winfrey tied for third. The former's efforts to incite action in Darfur, coupled with what would be the first president to have a "First Lady of the Week" in rotation make him an intriguing candidate. Moreover, the Oprah effect would not only ensure that Fireside Chats would be revived as "Full Circle Moments", but that the cabinet would clearly consist of Gail, Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, and the downfall of civilization as we know it.

Harrison Ford came in fourth with a single vote. A likeable guy whose heroics in rescuing a stranded, mountain hiker revealed both his helicopter skills, as well as further evidence that he isn't just playing Indiana Jones, he is Indiana Jones.

Finally, the nomadic tribe that knows no borders, Brangelina, garnered no votes and, therefore, restored my faith in blogkind.

NOW...let's see how this next one will go....this will mark the first of three times I run this poll, and we'll see how our results reflect the country at large.

***Oh, and the above picture is not some woodpile group of communists, it is the original Microsoft team. Forget Waldo, can you spot Bill?

Sesame Street Trivia

I stumbled upon this video about the man who has provided the voice of both Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch for over the last 40 years; and though he is an interesting man in the interview, more interesting is the fact that Big Bird is meant to be a six year old and Oscar the Grouch is based on a New York City cab driver.

Quote of the Day

"People are giving birth underwater now. They say it's less traumatic for the baby because it's in water. But certainly more traumatic for the other people in the pool." ~Elayne Boosler

Picture of the Day

The gang of pink ladies had extended their territory to the baby pool.
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Monday, June 16, 2008

Odd Balls

As I fed my son his daily serving of prunes mixed with oatmeal, my mind wandered to a recent posting I read on some celebrity blog that revealed the fact that the curious Olsen twins whisper the word "prunes" every time they pose for the paparazzi.

The intended effect is to appear cool, couture, and mysterious...I guess.

So, of course, I headed to the mirror to try the look on for size. As I stared at my reflection, that at the time bore no make-up and a frightful array of hair before a comb had tamed it, I whispered, "prunes".

The result: I looked likely someone who had experienced one of the more auditory effects of prunes, as opposed to any model-worthy expression.

Try it for yourself...and then add it to the list of items that evidence the Olsen twins' other worldliness.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

This morning, I said to my daughter, "Okay, it's time to put your bathing suit on."

She replied, "I'm sixteen years old. I'm not a child!"

This can mean only one thing: it is time to misplace our Little Mermaid DVD.

Profile of a Parent

If you have been a reader of this blog for a while, you may recall my mention of a very special friend, Susan, who has had the great misfortune of selling her soul to the devil. How do I know this? By 6 weeks postpartum, Susan was in better shape than I have ever been in my entire life (even that summer after 7th grade when I played soccer for 6 hours a day consecutively). Well, my fabulous friend is also this week's fabulous profile of a parent!

Name: Susan, Sue, Mommy, Ma Ma

Mother of: Abigail 3yrs, and Kyleigh 7 months, Ace (The Dog) 4yrs

What You Did Before You Were Someone’s Mommy: I was a mortgage loan officer for Chase Home Finance.

What You Do For Yourself Now: Going to school for personal training and nutritional consultanting.

What is your favorite thing about being a mother: Seeing your children smile with a sparkle in their eyes that says they love life!

What is the one thing you wish you’d known before you had children? How much sleep I should have stored in a sleep bank…I would definitely be making some withdraws lately!

What would you do with an extra free hour in your day? Read or work out…maybe sleep. Can I have two hours????

Who are your go-to people when you have parenting questions? My Mother.

What is the one thing your child(ren) do that always makes you smile? When Abigail sings "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", and when Kyleigh does the raspberries and spit goes everywhere.

Who is your favorite fictional mother? Caroline Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie .

If you could be someone you know for a day, who would it be? Oprah…just to see how it would feel for everyone to take my views as if they were God’s.

If you could ban people from doing something, what would it be? Ban the truck drivers to stop driving their tractor trailers on the NJ Turnpike or anywhere in the state…they cause so many accidents.

If you could make one mixed CD that would be the only music you could listen to for the rest of your life, what songs would you put on it? “Streetcorner Symphony” Rob Thomas, “Everyday” Dave Matthews Band, “Pink” Aerosmith, “Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” Aerosmith, “You Were Meant for Me” Jewel, “Bent” Matchbox Twenty, “Back to Good” Matchbox Twenty, “Billy Jean” Michael Jackson, “No One”, Alicia Keys, “Paralyzer” Finger Eleven, “Angel” Sarah McLachlan,…… and to keep me laughing “Holiday Road” from National Lampoons Vacation.

Send in your own profile by answering the questions above and forwarding them (along with a picture) to:

Monday's Meal

The following recipe is one of my "Old Faithfuls" in that it is very easy to make, serves 5-6 people, and is the perfect salad to serve for lunch, or with any number of favorite Mexican sides. Oh, and this recipe (along with 95% of my recipes), comes by way of my fabulous mother.

Taco Salad


1 lb lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 packet of taco seasoning
1 head of lettuce, shredded for salad pieces
1 cup (or more, depending on taste) of crushed tortilla chips
1 cup of onion, chopped
4 roma/plum tomatoes, chopped
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup of Thousand Island dressing


1) Prepare ground beef and taco seasoning according to package, allow to cool
2) Combine remaining ingredients with the taco meat to create the salad


Quote of the Day

"When I was a kid, I said to my father one afternoon, 'Daddy, will you take me to the zoo?' He answered, 'If the zoo wants you, let them come and get you.'"" -- Jerry Lewis

Picture of the Day

Beyond all belief to the contrary,

apparently grilled cheese can lose its excitement.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

One of my favorite parts of the day is my husband's return home from work.

Of course it signifies the relinquishing of complete parental responsibility, but it is also the moment when my children stop whatever it is that they are doing and lose their minds with excitement.

My daughter runs to him and jumps into his arms as if he's been gone long on some distant trek, while my little man flails his arms about and shouts, "Ah Da".

Seeing his face is also part of the daily joy. No matter what the market did, no matter how long the commute, here is a moment in the day when nothing else really matters all that much.

It is life at its best.

My husband and I met in college where the world of courtship entailed meeting up at the same places and Saturday dates at Friendly's. Sequestered in the cloistered world of classes, parties, and more parties, there is little thought of the future beyond the worry of securing a job post-graduation. Marriage, real responsibility, and certainly children are something far from anyone's minds.

And so I certainly wasn't choosing my dates by their potential to be a good father, which is why I consider myself to be one of the luckiest people around.

Even at its toughest, being a father is his greatest success. He loves what he does, he loves his family, but more than anything, he loves his children.

And they love him right back.

Happy Father's Day, John.

Happy Father's Day!

It is fair to say that I spend every waking moment (at least those moments when I am not worrying about my children, thinking about my husband, and obsessing about my Circus Peanuts addiction), trying to figure out a way to convince my father that he and my mother should move to New Jersey.

Given the absurdly high taxes, the ridiculous cost of auto insurance, and our poor gubernatorial track record I have before me quite a challenge. With each visit, I shower him with peanut M&Ms and root beer floats, I pepper his suite with mints, reading materials, and Southern New Jersey Living circulars, and I work to convince them him that there is no better place to retire than in a little rancher I build in our backyard.

So luck.

Despite my limited progress, my resolve has not waned. And here is why:

1) I am 32 years old and he still calls me "Muffet Marie".

2) My daughter lives to "zurbert" him and my son prefers his arms to mine when he has the option.

3) Their is no one's advice I would trust more.

4) Like his father before him, the man can pack a car with the precision of a neurosurgeon.

5) He has the greatest laugh.

6) He can still beat my brothers in a wrestling match; even when it is two against one.

7) Though I inherited none of his nuclear engineering genes, my father can figure out anything (whether it is some high tech device or assembling a Barbie car or the Millenium Falcon).

8) He believes in second chances.

9) He served his country for 27 years.

10) He loves my mother more with each passing year.

11) He loves his children through stumbles and success.

12) He made me promise to always stay five, and then loved me anyway when I continued to grow.

Wishing my father all the love "a sailor's only daughter" can send, by blog or by embrace.

Happy Father's Day!

(I am trying to convince John to put his Home Depot gift card toward the finishing of our basement a la in-law suite).

A Father By Law, And So Much More

Though in-laws in general tend to get a bad rap, my own happen to be pretty terrific. I guess that never should have come as a surprise since one of my first impressions of my husband was how sincere and valued he was.

He worked hard, he never followed the crowd, and he was already a young man filled with conviction, integrity, and faith. He was all of this while most of our peers were measuring their manhood by their ability to perform a three minute keg stand or wear unlaundered clothes for weeks at a time. He was unique.

And then I met his father.

John Sr. has a very strong and striking presence that quickly softens as soon as he speaks. Ever ready with a warm smile and a great joke (which I seem to appreciate more than most), I instantly felt a genuine fondness for the man who would eventually be my father-in-law. He laughs easily and often, he is generous and kind, he is intensely loyal and fair, and he is a man of his word.

He taught my husband to always keep his eye on the ball, the importance of honesty in business and in life, and what it means to be a good man.

For that, and for being a part of my life and the life of my family...eternal thanks.

Happy Father's Day, Poppy.

For Two of My Favorite Fathers

My mother, who was one of five children, once told me that her brothers did not treat her as anything other than their older sister until she had children of her own.
After years of chasing her on the beach with horseshoe crabs, listening in on her conversations with friends, and making her life one big headache, her two brothers finally began to see her as a real person when she became someone's mother. Suddenly they were eager to lend a hand, consider her feelings, and value her opinions. It was a transference of roles and a transformation of identities.
As the little annoying sister of two older brothers, I could never imagine serving any higher purpose than tormenting my own brothers. I'd tag along, I'd rat them out, and I would wait all day by the phone in the hopes of intercepting a call from a girl.
Flashforward two decades and two children, I am still my brothers' sister and I only occasionally have the opportunity to torment them. Part geography and part maturity, it isn't so much that I have changed tremendously in their eyes, as they have in mine.
As I struggle to manage my family and find my way through the every changing scape of Parentland, I now look to my brothers, fathers of four and three children respectively, as models of what to do.
These two people with whom I spent hours of my life wrestling for territory in the back seat of our cramped cars are now their children's greatest coaches, biggest fans, strongest advocates, and most loving guides.
I realize that this tribute is tending to paint them with perfection; but, of course they are not. They both have one inherent flaw that I simply cannot forgive despite all else.
They live entirely too far away.
Happy Father's Day to the fathers of seven of the luckiest kids I know.

Happy Father's Day!!

"A man never stands as tall as when he kneels to help a child." -Knights of Pythagoras