Saturday, February 14, 2009

My Funny Valentine

Like many couples I know, we decided as a couple to forego the fleeting flowers and evil chocolate for something small and recession mindful.

Turns out, I got the best gift ever (even better than the puppet).
My husband let me sleep in, which I kind of did despite a lot of mayhem occurring downstairs. Dishes were banging, children were shouting, and O was even sent up at one point to make sure I was staying in bed.

Before I knew it, an army of apron-clad redheads entered my room equipped with croissants, coffee, steak and eggs, banana, and the best Mimosa I have ever had.

Even better, the next hour we spent together curled up in the covers was perfection.

The traditional overtures of romance may have changed, but the feelings of love have compounded.

I hope everyone enjoys their day in their own perfect way as well.

A Brother Abroad

Does it seem like I've been posting about my brother forever?

Paul has only just finished his first month in Iraq, which means he not only has eleven months to go, but you'll be seeing these deployment driven posts for another 334 days.

This is Day 32.

Oh, and he did manage to send his lovely wife a Valentine present. Check out the details HERE.

Happy Valentine's Day

I wonder why her lips are glistening?

Perhaps the pounds and pounds of sugar needed to make this toothache had something to do with it?

That may also explain the sugar coma eyes....

Friday, February 13, 2009

Sadness All Around

I debated for a while today over whether or not to blog about this, but I'm a strong believer in the power of prayer and so, if you are too, perhaps you could send a few much needed ones by way of my sister-in-law Julie, and her wonderful family.

As you have no doubt heard, a small commuter plane went down over Buffalo, killing all 49 people on board and one person inside the house where the plane crashed. It appears to have been as sudden as it was horrific and, like most tragedies of this sort, it causes us to pause and shudder, imagining those on board and their now grieving families.

Matilda Quintero, Julie's cousin, was a flight attendant on the plane.

Matilda left behind two adult daughters, her 90 year old mother, and an amazing extended family who will no doubt struggle to come to terms with something so unimaginable.

I don't know what else to say.

There are no words.
This is a very difficult Day 31.

A Valentine List

I know this is just asking for trouble, but here it is anyway.

If you are a husband still without a Valentine gift for your wife, please avoid the following:

5) Anything that must be plugged in. Yes, there are exceptions, but we need to play it safe.

4) A Gym membership. Again, some women may love this, but knowing for sure if the message will overshoot the membership is a gamble no man should take.

3) Any kind of make-up, cream, or apparel that is intended to improve upon your wife. Examples of this would include an anti-wrinkle cream, Cellulite Be-Gone, Strivectin, Spanx, Botox, etc. If she asks for it, just give it to her on a random Wednesday....not a day to say I love you just the way you are.

2) Buying the same thing you bought your mom.

1) An IOU, or else you will. You really will.

Mommy Tantrums

Yesterday I proposed compiling a soundtrack for mothers in crisis: songs to survive the daily tantrums, whining, and hair pulling accidents that drive us to the brink of insanity before we quickly forgive and forget after a sweet "I love you" or any other adorable gesture that forgives all.

I had planned to compile the list throughout the day, expecting inspiration from the inevitable fight over the day's wardrobe, especially picked for a certain Valentine's party.

We didn't even get that far.

A restless night and mild cold meant a fight over breakfast, a fight to go upstairs, a fight to brush both hair and teeth, and a final fight over getting dressed.

By the time we got in the car, I was done with songs, and done with fights. I rarely engage in them (she's three and I'm almost 33....), but after the same struggles every morning, I finally found myself exhausted, frustrated, and running out of options.

I know I need a new approach, but I just can't figure out what it should be. I lay out clothes the night before, I give lots of time to get ready so we can move along at an easy pace, and I never overreact. I just set up basic consequences and I try to follow through without anger. I am firm.

And that used to work very well.

But not so much anymore.

And the thing is, she is such a wonderful little girl....I can't say enough.

And I guess that's why these recent morning struggles are so frustrating.

Feel free to pass along any ideas.

Guess Who?

Video of the Day

Soul Lifter of the Day

The firefighter crawled on his stomach through the pitch-black apartment, the smoke so thick he couldn't see his hand in front of his face. Somewhere inside was a baby and he had to find her.

A window broke, light filled the room, and he saw her lying in her crib, dressed only in a diaper, unconscious. Soot covered her tiny nose. She wasn't breathing and had no pulse.
He grabbed her and breathed life into her as he ran from the apartment.
A newspaper photograph captured their image - a white firefighter from South Boston with his lips pressed to the mouth of a black baby from the Roxbury public housing development - at a time when riots sparked by racial tensions were burning down American cities.
-The Boston Globe
The above event happened 40 years ago, but the firefighter and the baby he saved only met yesterday: he long retired and moving much slower; she now a 40 year old woman with seven children of her own and a large thank you long overdue.
For the full story and the moving video piece click HERE.

Quote of the Day

"A little girl, asked where her home was, replied, 'where mother is'." ~Keith L. Brooks

Picture of the Day

Tender loving care?
Or, take down?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Preschool Valentine Party

Dear Parents of Students in My Daughter's Class:

Sorry about all the glitter.


The Maid

A Brother Abroad Meets Song of the Day

One of Paul's favorites...

This is Day 30.


I wasn't going to comment on the whole Rhianna - Chris Brown saga. As with any case like this, it's just awful and there really isn't anything else to say about it.

But then Terrance Howard went and said this.

Is he kidding?

She should know he loves her?

What the?

I've Got An Idea

Now when I say that, my friends and family usually head for the hills....I am a dreamer, which is probably why I married the most practical, grounded man on the planet and also why I keep my dad and my friend Susan close at hand.

But forget necessity, I'm beginning to think insanity is the true mother of invention (especially since the two so often go hand in hand).

As I posted a few days ago, when I spend the morning negotiating the consumption of breakfast, wrestling clothes on very fast children, and trying to keep my son out of EVERYTHING so I can just do something that makes me look less like a homeless woman, I am sometimes ready to have a tantrum of my own.

Instead of turning into THAT mom, however, I just remember someone telling me that it is all just a small moment in the day and I suddenly break into a quiet rendition of one of my least favorite songs, "One Moment in Time".

Nuts? Maybe.

But it distracts my children for a moment, allowimg me to regroup and prevents me from screaming like a banshee and accomplishing nothing aside from a great lesson in screaming.

So why not make a compilation?

What other songs would be good in the vein of "Mommy on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown"?

I can't stand "I Will Survive", though it may be fitting; but, there have to be other songs that fit a near meltdown moment.

I'll be brainstorming in the Comments section all day...with a frequency that may or may not depend on inspiration.

Will see if O agrees to the jean skirt.

I wouldn't say the romance in me is gone.....

But I keep forgetting Saturday is Valentine's Day.

And yes, I do think it's a silly, commercial holiday....but I love getting gifts.

I'd celebrate Arbor Day if it meant I could enhance my landscaping.

Does the make me shallow? Or can I get a witness?

Soooo Big

John bought these for Joseph when he turned one....and he just started sporting them.
Someone let Ms. Stacey know it's time for her to hit the Converse store.
They both have the same Nikes already.....

Quote of the Day

"Every mother generally hopes that her daughter will snag a better husband than she managed to do...but she's certain that her boy will never get as great a wife as his father did." -- Anonymous

Picture of the Day

This is the face of a man who unwittingly found himself amid a gaggle of women enjoying a mom's night.
Abort mission! Abort, abort!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Brother Abroad

Paul and I are six years apart, while Mike and I are only separated by three years.

How does this influence our relationships?

For Paul, I was the annoying little sister who often told on him and got tangled in his cross hairs at every opporunity (examples of which will provide future blogs).

With Mike, we tended to annoy each other, or team up in annoying Paul.

Long car rides were a blast.

So, it came as a complete shock when Paul, a senior in college, strode into our living room, actually noticed I existed (with my mouth full of braces) and said: "Let's go."

I rolled my eyes (as is a favorite past-time of 15 year olds), assuming he was demanding I help him with some chore or something. So, I just sat there and performed my second favorite past-time: ignoring him.

"Fine," he said, "Don't let me teach you how to drive."


I don't think my feet touched the ground as I tore down the stairs...disbelieving that the brother I had figured never gave much thought to me, had thought enough to do what no one else had dared.

We spent the next hour driving around Governor's Island, trying to get a feel for "my lane", and even laughing a bit.

I'll never forget it. It was the first time I looked at him as someone other than my grumpy older brother.

This is Day 29.

Silly Groundhog

It is GLORIOUS outside.

We went to the park, we got by with sweatshirts, and we opened the windows again.....

It will not snow again, it will not snow again, it will not snow again.....

It's Come to This

We have officially arrived at early adolesence.

My daughter brought home a box of 52 evil candy bars with a letter heralding the onset of this year's fundraising drive for school supplies.

I lasted 45 minutes.

Really, it would have been sooner, but I waited until the children were sleeping so that they would not be subjected to the image of their mother inhaling a Kit Kat (or kitty kat, as Grandpa Mahony fondly calls it), in a fashion that emulates Cookie Monster.

Today the candy went to work with my husband.

Maybe that'll stimulate some economy.....over-sugared brokers could really get something started.

Stimulating Your Package

Since I am no economist, and the very thought of finance causes my eyes to glaze over, I often go to the most capable financial analyst I have ever met.

He also happens to sit across from me at the dinner table each night.

So, when the conversation came to the deficit, the stimilus package, and how much money we really need to stimulate this terrifying economy, I asked my husband what a trillion really was.

Recognizing that his wife's mathematic comfort zone does not go beyond counting the metric verse in a line of poetry, he put it to me like this:

Let's pretend we all live at the time of Jesus Christ. If at that time, we put aside one million dollars a day.....we still wouldn't have a trillion dollars in savings by the time we reached today's date.

But I probably would have a deck.

Groundbreaking: Doctors Aren't Gods

One of the first things I learned as a new mother was that doctors don't have all the answers, but you should certainly ask everything that occurs to you, never apologize for feeling bothersome, and keep their office on speed dial.

Nothing is more important than your child and, if they have children of their own, they should understand the occasion for first timers to be especially nervous and paranoid.

Since O had me at the pediatrician's more than most kids, I learned all of the above quickly and without apology. As a result, when I had my little guy, I figured myself a pro when it came to dealing with doctors and the always unexpected symptom.

However, as the horror that was 2008 came to an end, my son had his 18 month check-up on New Year's Eve, replete with Polio, Hep A, and Tetanus vaccinations.

Happy as I was to welcome in a new, hopefully better year, I had to have known that 2008 would give me a big kick in the butt on its way out. And it did, thanks to Joseph getting hold of a razor from my travel bag and nearly slicing the tip of his finger off right as we were trying to get the kids in the bath.

The blood poured out like something out of a cartoon and it took calling our angel neighbors/volunteer paramedics to finally stop the bloodworks.

Needless to say, he never got his bath....which would also be the occasion I would normally check on the vaccination spots.

The next morning, after I checked his wound, I began the process of getting him ready for the day when I discovered that he had apparently been lifting weights all night.

His bicep was ENORMOUS.

Still reeling from the previous night, I panicked when I realized that it was a holiday and that I'd have to resort to calling the on call doctor. Just as I was about to pick up the phone, however, my husband suddenly remembered that one of the doctors, the nice young man who had first inspected Joseph in the hospital, had actually given us his cell phone with the invitation to "call anytime".

I had completely forgotten about the offer, though we had brought Joseph to see him every check-up after, as I like to have a doctor know us as a family.

I quickly dialed his number as I watched Joseph wince from his tender, swollen arm.

And here's what happened:

Doctor: Hello?

Me: Hi, Doctor..., this is One Maid a Milking and you see my son Joseph through the practice. I'm sorry to bother you on the holiday, but I think he's had a reaction to his vaccination.....

Doctor: How did you get this number?? (hiss, hiss)

Me: (Immediately recognizing I'd made a mistake) Oh, I apologize. I should have called the on call....

Doctor: Yes, yes! You call the on call doctor....I'm at the hospital. (hiss, bark, growl)

Me: Right. Again, I apologize. My mistake.

Doctor: Yes. And don't call this number again.


Car Thievery

As I suspected, yesterday's forward about car stealing through VIN numbers wasn't exactly the most accurate.....

The truth:

While this article validates that the VIN scheme has been successfully used, it also demonstrates why the scheme doesn't necessarily pose a threat to the average car owner. Using VINs to steal cars isn't nearly as easy as the warning quoted above makes it sound: the thieves have to case the cars they want to steal, record VINs, make trips to auto dealerships, present some form of registration or proof of title, wait for the dealers to contact the manufacturers and make up duplicate keys, then return to wherever they found the cars in the first place and use the duplicate keys to steal them.

But this is antithetical to the way car thieves generally work — they're creatures of opportunity who steal cars as they find them, quickly and anonymously. They don't want to have to go around recording VINs, forging documents, calling attention to themselves and risking exposure by showing their faces at auto dealerships, waiting around for keys to be made, and hoping the cased cars are still where they found them when they finally return with their duplicate keys.

Car thieves have plenty of other methods for stealing automobiles at their disposal, and most of them will gladly accept the slight damage those methods might cause to cars during the course of their thefts (especially if, as claimed above, the merchandise is destined for a "chop shop") than have to go through the delay and risks entailed by the rigamarole described above.

Thanks Lydia!

Quote of the Day

"Perfect love sometimes does not come until the first grandchild." ~Welsh Proverb

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Car Theft

My husband just sent me the following email, which I just cut and pasted. Like any forward, proceed with caution....

Here is info worth the price of your car....WHAT WILL the car thieves THINK OF NEXT?

The car thieves peer through the windshield of your car or truck, write down the VIN # from the label on the dash, go to the local car dealership and request a duplicate key based on the VIN #.

I didn't believe this e-mail, so I called Chrysler-Dodge and pretended I had lost my keys. They told me to just bring in the VIN #, and they would cut me one on the spot, and I could order the keyless device if I wanted.

The Car Dealer's Parts Department will make a duplicate key from the VIN#, and collect payment from the thief who will return to your car. He doesn't have to break in, do any damage to the vehicle, or draw attention to himself. All he has to do is walk up to your car, insert the key and off he goes to a local Chop Shop with your vehicle.

To avoid this from happening to you, simply put some tape (electrical tape, duct tape or medical tape) across the VIN Metal Label located on the dash board. By law, you cannot remove the VIN, but you CAN cover it so it can't beviewed through the windshield by a car thief. I urge you to forward thisto your friends before some other car thief steals another car or truck. I slipped a 3 x 5 card over the VIN NUMBER.

I was actually excited by this news. I think I am going to spray paint my VIN number across the side of my car and await the opportunity to get a new one.

Oh, and if you catch sight of my was a shark attack.

A Brother Abroad

The following picture is of my brother Paul enjoying a recent Iraqi sandstorm. According to him, everyone is "hacking up a lung".

This is Day 28.

Guess Who?

Last Friday's Guess Who? was correctly identified by Margaret as Kelly McGillis, the American actress who starred in such legendary films as Top Gun, Witness, and The Accused.

As much as I loved Top Gun, McGillis was at her best in The Accused. In 1982, McGillis and her roommate were assaulted and raped in their home by the escaped rapist Leroy Johnson after McGillis came home from work. This experience encouraged the actress to pursue her film role as the lawyer who supports Jodie Foster's character in The Accused.

McGillis was originally approached for the role of the rape victim in that film. She turned it down, feeling it would be too close to her real life ordeal. The part eventually went to Jodie Foster, who won an Oscar for her performance.

The Last Post on Crazy....I think.

The mother of the woman who used a fertility doctor to give birth to octuplets, despite already having six young children, called her daughter's actions "unconscionable" in an interview posted online.

Angela Suleman is caring for the six older children while her daughter is hospitalized after giving birth Jan. 26 to the octuplets.

"She already has six beautiful children, why would she do this?" Angela Suleman said in the videotaped interview with celebrity news Web site "I'm struggling to look after her six. We had to put in bunk beds, feed them in shifts and there's children's clothing piled all over the house."

The Web site posted photographs Sunday from inside Angela Suleman's disheveled three-bedroom home, where Nadya and her brood also live. Heaps of clothing pour from an open closet door and a carpeted bedroom, where a bedsheet serves as a curtain, is cluttered with cribs.

Nadya Suleman's publicist Mike Furtney said that his client has been away for nearly two months, so shouldn't be held responsible for the home's current condition.

The Votes Are In.....

Last week's vote focused on the difficulties that we face in the early stages of parenting, and how much that may or may not affect the size of our family.

If we could somehow be given a guarantee that every baby was without colic, reflux, sleepless nights, tantrums, and whatever else may cause us to scream in a pillow, how many children would we have?

Or, does it really come down to carpool management and table availability at a restaurant?

The votes are clear: Most of us would choose to have three or four children.

From my own perspective, I always planned on having three children. It's what I had growing up, and it always felt perfect. The first born, the baby, and the middle child.

That perspective has since changed; partly because we had two reflux babies, and partly because I am ready to begin the next stage. I'm ready to explore the world as family of four, I'm ready to explore this whole professional writing thing, and I am ready to sleep through the night on a consistent basis.

When I shared this perspective with someone who has divergent views, they felt compelled to tell me that these early struggles in parenting were really just a moment in time, a flash in the pan. Getting through the ealry years would always be worth having a fuller family.

Though I remained unconvinced, I did take something from that conversation. Every time I am confronted with a meltdown, tantrum, or even endless whining, I start singing "One Moment in Time" to remind myself that it is just one moment in the day....and a lot better than yelling or throwing my own temper tantrum.

I'm not kidding. In the worst, most testing times, I bust out singing and even if it doesn't keep me completely sane, it certainly distracts the kiddos.

Shout out to Whitney and on to the next poll.....

Quote of the Day

"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 M. Schirra, Sr.

Picture of the Day

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Brother Abroad

Because you never stop being a mom....

This is Day 27.

The Grocery Store

What I love: My reusable bags that not only make for easier unloading, but also earn me fifty cents for each one I use. Oh yeah.....and the whole environmentally friendly part.

What I appreciate: The young manager girl with the spiky hair who is over-the-top helpful and makes it her goal in life to let no shopper stand in line longer than they have to.

What I am not in right relationship with: Any cheese that does not require refrigeration.

What makes me laugh: Overhearing the seafood guy trying to pick up one of the deli counter ladies. Love over a nice piece of should be a song.

What makes me smile: Watching my daughter teach her brother how to operate the ins and outs of the unmanageable police car shopping cart...horn included.

A Few of My Favorite Things.....

One of my favorite things to do with O, especially now that she's older, is read the books I distinctly remember loving as a child.

Amelia Bedelia

Grover Plays Hide and Seek

Ferdinand the Bull

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

and of course, the fairy tales.

And the best part?

She's been laughing at the same things I did......

I never knew that love could be so big.

My Little Raging Bull.....

When my little man gets really mad, he starts to breathe heavily through his nostrils.....

It's kind of funny.

But when I consider that he'll be 2 years old in five months, it's suddenly not so funny.

Let's Light A Little Fire.....

I figured that there's no better way to start a week than with a little controversy....

The following commercial was rejected by NBC as an acceptable advertisement for the Super Bowl and people have been up in arms about it ever since.


Quote of the Day

"Any astronomer can predict with absolute accuracy just where every star in the universe will be at 11.30 tonight. He can make no such prediction about his teenage daughter." ~James T. Adams

Picture of the Day

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Brother Abroad

Two US Soldiers Defusing Bomb Killed in Afghanistan

KABUL (AP) — Two American soldiers died in Afghanistan on Sunday when a roadside bomb they were trying to defuse exploded, a U.S. spokeswoman said. An Afghan interpreter and a policeman also died in the blast.
A group of American soldiers and Afghan officials had been traveling through the world's largest opium poppy producing region — the southern province of Helmand — when they discovered the roadside bomb and tried to defuse it, said Kamal Uddin, Helmand's deputy provincial police chief.

Two American soldiers died in the blast, said Capt. Elizabeth Mathias. Uddin said an Afghan translator and a police officer also died.

Helmand is a stronghold of Taliban militants, who control wide swaths of territory in the province. Helmand has long been the domain of British forces in the 40-nation fight against the Taliban, but the U.S. is expected to send thousands of troops there this year to help battle a militant movement that has grown in strength in the last three years.

This is Day 26.