Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Brother Abroad

This weekend not only saw me enjoying a girls' night out on Friday night, but also a weekend with my most awesome brother, Pentagon Mike, who decided to head up the Beltway to visit his niece, nephew, and favorite (albeit only) sister.

We've been hanging out, eating too much, throwing back a few, and rehashing the best of times. All of this causes the obvious evaluations on the cycle of siblings: Paul, Mike, and I began as automatic playmates, eventual antagonizers, and, after adulthood and children of our own, friends at last.

I love my brothers.

This is Day 60.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Brother Abroad

So, I am writing this in the final minutes of Day 59, having just returned home from my monthly Girls Night Out with three of my favorite people: Debbie, Stacey, and Susan. As usual, we ate, imbibed, and talked on and on before we realized it might be difficult to wake up with the little ones tomorrow morning.

It is a sisterhood of sorts. A shared bond between young mothers who are all finding their way through early childhood rearing, as well as a bunch of other challenges that equal in their own unique surprises.

We are sisters of the heart.

Of course, saying that seems completely natural since we found each other, shared similar perspectives on the important stuff, and just enjoyed each other's company all the same.

My brother Paul, however, shares his own brotherhood with entirely different credentials.

He serves his time abroad, shoulder to shoulder with men he might not normal socialize with. Who he may not normally seek out, share stories, or even like a whole lot. Their brotherhood is entirely different than my little sisterhood, though no less important in its purpose, and far more significant in its endeavors.

They are sons of their country, brothers in service, and eternally linked by time trodden boots and the burden of battle.

This is Day 59.

Week In Review

The Top 5 Things I Learned This Week:

5) Even if you cannot begin to understand it, rallying behind a love one's excitement over something is always a good thing.

4) My daughter is so much like me it's funny....and scary, and remarkable, and scary.

3) Nothing creates a more visceral, emotional reaction in me than the thought of something happening to any member of my family. It takes my breath away.

2) Nothing makes Joseph laugh harder than when O pretends to fall. He's clearly a fan of slap-stick and she's clearly learning some moves from her father.

1) Even if we weren't in a recession, I would never spend $182 on jeans.

Almost never.

Changes in Me

When it comes to raising my children, I have always considered myself someone of mild temperment who tries to avoid yelling (even if it does result in bad singing), remain ever firm and consistent (my greatest struggle), and always remember that these little people are actually people, no matter how irrational, stubborn, and onery.

This constitution is tested daily, with some situations working out like a textbook and others leaving me wondering if I'm the worst mom ever. No matter the test, I also try to end each day by focusing on what went right and beginning each new day hoping for the best.

There are those times, however, when all of that pragmatism gets thrown right out the window.

Whether it's a mean kid on the playground, an adult that focuses on the negatives, or even a family member dispensing recurrent criticism, something inside me begins to rage. I don't care if there is merit in the actions or words, if it in someone seems disparaging to my child, I lash out.

I become a lioness who pounces in defense of her cubs.

Where does this come from? I am a rational person. I understand that kids can be mean and my children will learn that adults are too. I understand that not everyone thinks my kids are the greatest people on the planet (actually, I don't understand it....but I understand they might not be able to see it).

So why do I become so enraged?

Does anyone else feel the urge to tell off a snotty little kid who shoved your child on the slide? Does anyone else feel the urge to tell off an adult who says something negative about your child?

Am I alone? Or, does being a parent also mean all sense of stoicism and control goes out the window?

Quote of the Day

“One of the most obvious facts about grown-ups to a child is that they have forgotten what it is like to be a child.” - Randall Jarrell

Picture of the Day


Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Brother Abroad

For whatever reason, this kept becoming "disabled" and so I'm giving it one more shot. This little 6 year old girl, Heather Martin, sings a song that her mother wrote for her brother Shaun who is serving in Iraq. The song is written from Heather's point of view.

This is Day 58.

Headline of the Day

"Wall Street Extended its Rally into a Third Day"


Lessons From O

My daughter is a bit of a know-it-all (now where could she have gotten that??) and has taken to dispensing little lessons to anyone who will listen. I figured, like any good mother, I'd give them a forum.

I'm also now completely convinced she'll be a teacher or game show host when she's older. If you know her, you probably know exactly what I'm talking about.

O Lesson of the day: "Mommy, if you're driving your car, don't make dinner."

Truer words were never spoken.

Perhaps we should all take a moment to let this sit in?

Funny Kids

I'm addicted to these Trigon commercials....the looks this little boy gives the little girl are priceless.

Yummy and Healthy

If your kids love popsicles and water ice as mine do, I learned of a healthy alternative thanks to my daughter's new favorite show, Sid the Science Kid.

Using a dixie cup, place a cut of banana about 1 inch long in the bottom of the cup and stick it with a popsicle stick/tonsil ticklers thing. (This keeps the pop vertical). Fill the cup with orange juice (or any other juice that your child enjoys) and teach your child what is involved in freezing.

It's a great little science experiment for the littlest learners and the results are yummy.

In other news, Sid the Science Kid also provides the most annoying character on television in May, the glasses wearing annoy-bot. She's worse than Jillian Barbieri.....and that's bad.

I'll find some video of her soon.......

American Idol Results

I'm officially 1 for 1 as the first week of American Idol comes to a close. Both Jorge and Jasmine deserved to go, the former because she just lacked anything remotely interesting and the latetr because J Lo was rooting for him.

I'm happy Anoop was spared, though he better come up with something great for next week or else I will officially quit him.

In other news, I cannot believe I was ever a fan of Kanye.

Quote of the Day

"But the hearts of small children are delicate organs. A cruel beginning in this world can twist them into curious shapes." ~ Carson McCullers

Picture of the Day

Monkey Business

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Brother Abroad

Those Who Fell in February:

28-Feb: Cpl. Donte J. Whitworth, 21, of Noblesville, Ind., died Feb. 28 as a result of a non-hostile vehicle accident in Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to Combat Logistics Regiment 15, 1st Marine Logistics Group, Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz.

26-Feb: Spc. Brian M. Connelly, 26, of Union Beach, N.J., died Feb. 26 in Adhamiya, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle was struck by an explosive device. He was assigned to the 40th Engineer Battalion, Task Force 1-6, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Baumholder, Germany.

24-Feb: 1st Lt. William E. Emmert, 36, of Lincoln, Tenn., died Feb. 24 in Mosul, Iraq, of wounds suffered when he was shot while participating in a local Iraqi Police function.

23-Feb: Cpl. Michael L. Mayne, 21, of Burlington Flats, N.Y.,Cpl. Micheal B. Alleman, 31, of Logan, Utah, andCpl. Zachary R. Nordmeyer, 21, of Indianapolis, Ind. died Feb. 23 in Balad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked their unit using small arms fire. They were assigned to the 5th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Wainwright, Alaska.

21-Feb: Staff Sgt. Mark C. Baum, 32, of Telford, Pa., died Feb. 21 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered earlier that day when enemy forces attacked his unit using small arms fire in Mushada, Iraq. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 111th Infantry Regiment, 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.

19-Feb: PFC Cwislyn K. Walter, 19, of Honolulu died Feb. 19 in Kuwait City, Kuwait, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident. She was assigned to the 29th Special Troops Battalion, 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Hawaii National Guard.

15-Feb: Staff Sgt. Sean D. Diamond, 41, of Dublin, Calif., died Feb. 15 in As Salam, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to the 610th Engineer Support Company, 14th Engineer Battalion, 555th Engineer Brigade, Fort Lewis, Wash.

14-Feb: Cpl. Stephen S. Thompson, 23, of Tulsa, Okla., died Feb. 14 in Baghdad of injuries sustained from a gunshot wound. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

9-Feb: Lt. Col. Garnet R. Derby, 44, of Missoula, Mont. ,Sgt. Joshua A. Ward, 30, of Scottsville, Ky.,Pfc. Albert R. Jex, 23, of Phoenix, Ariz., and Pfc. Jonathan R. Roberge, 22, of Leominster, Mass. died Feb. 9 in Mosul, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle. They were assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

8-Feb: Sgt. James M. Dorsey, 23, of Beardstown, Ill., died Feb. 8 in Kamaliyah, Iraq, in a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

6-Feb: Spc. Christopher P. Sweet, 28, of Kahului, Hawaii, died Feb. 6 in Kirkush, Iraq, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 172d Separate Infantry Brigade, Grafenwoehr, Germany.

This is Day 57.

I Watch American Idol: Feel Free to Hate on Me

I have to say that, in all the years I've watched this show, this was the first opening night that had no awful performances. I usually pride myself on my predictions, but I am at a lost on this one.....


My favorites belong to Danny Gokey, Lil rounds, and Allison Iraheta

My prediction for the two who will not return: Jasmine Murray and Megan Joy

Biggest Letdown: Anoop (I like him, but he didn't do it for me....)

Most Overhyped: Adam Lambert (Something about him.....)

My Newest Crush: Kris Allen (Adorable...even with John Mayer facial expressions)

Mama Fashionista: Trend Watch of the Week

I am really going to try to do this every week (as much as for myself as for anyone interested), and we'll see how it goes. I decided to go with denim since it's never a risky look (who doesn't wear jeans?) and simply knowing the latest label will also help you capture the latest styles.

Warning: These posts are an affront to the most significant trend in consumerism: Recession minded spending. Proceed with caution

Trend: 4Stroke Jeans

According to fashion editor Laura Demasi:

The label is inspired by Theodora Richards, the glam It-Girl, model and daughter of Rolling Stones legendary guitarist Keith Richards.

The rock'n'roll inpsired label stays true to its theme, naming styles after iconic rock'n'roll venues and taking wash names from classic rock'n'roll lyrics. The label has also thrown its weight behind the concept of eco-fashion, with the development of their pure denim range made from organic and eco-conscious fabrics with clean washes and styles that bring a refined look to the collection. This season's collection takes inspiration from the 1970’s and 1980’s, mixing classic retro styles with earth toned colors.

And they're only $182 a pair!!

I'll just wait for the coupon in this weekend's circulars.

Check them out at:

Snotty Doctors

Don't I know them.....

Question of the Day

A woman in Massachusetts was eight months pregnant when she gave very specific instructions to her OB. She told him that, since she had already delivered two children with the assistance of an epidural, she wanted her third baby to be born without the help of drugs. She wanted to truly experience a natural childbirth.

Her OB agreed and the countdown to the delivery began.

When the blessed event arrived, the mother labored through the pain until the time to push was almost upon her. Exhausted and in excruciating pain, she demanded an epidural because she could not continue. Unfortunately, the doctor told her it was entirely too late and that the best he could do for her would be a Valium mask to help her relax and get through.

She agreed and her healthy baby was quickly born without further incident.

Six weeks later, the woman returned for her post-partum follow-up and informed the doctor that she would be suing him. She had wanted a natural birth, he had not adhered to her wishes (despite agreeing in the throws of labor), and now he would have to answer to her lawyers.

When they went to court, she won.

He appealed, and he won.

It is now before the Massachusetts Supreme Court.

Who should win??

If I Were To Do It All Again.....

I would have made someone (preferrably a doctor) teach me how to exam a child's ears with the purpose of identifying ear infections.

Is it an ear infection? A tooth? The terrible twos? DNA?

If I just knew how and what to look for, the not knowing what might be ailing a little one would go a long way in easing a baby's pain and a mommy's frustration.

A New Reality

One of my daughter's favorite things to do is play with her doll house. We spend hours re-enacting every Disney movie scene, every scene from her favorite books, and every scene when she got in trouble (only this time she's the Mommy). It's fun to see her take on things, and what she absorbs in terms of behavioral roles and perspectives. Plus, she really just cracks me up (the Daddy is always causing accidents).

Our most recent role play is derived directly from Fire Safety day at her school (perhaps you remember her fear of the smoke detectors?). The scene goes pretty simply: I assemble all the people in their beds while she mans one of Joseph's fire trucks. An alarm then sounds, causing everyone to wake, run from the house, take a quick attendance, and then dial 911 (or 9111111, as O recalls).

After this, O pushes the fire truck onto the scene (driven by Princess Barbie) while announcing the "The Princess is here to save the day!"

She then proceeds to slowly promenade Barbie before the "burning house" so that the despairing family can take in her lovely dress.

I try to remind her that the fire will not wait for such pomp and circumstance, and she, in turn, glares at me while beginning Barbie's dance routine.

The family, now surrounded by falling, flaming timbers of wood that once framed their house, looks on as Barbie pirouettes, plies, releves, and brings the kind of flair that every fire company looks for.

Again, I try to remind her that time is of the essence and that maybe the Mommy can start with some of the hoses.

She responds: "Not until her song is over". Barbie then begins to sing a rousing rendition of "Aint' No Mountain High Enough" while the house is all but diminished to a smoldering pile of rubble.

Then, as if nothing happens, she whips out the hose and sprays what amounts to pink and cream colored ashes.

Barbie, however, still looks fabulous.

Quote of the Day

"My parents used to take me to the pet department and tell me it was the zoo." -Bill Connelly

Picture of the Day

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Brother Abroad

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." - George Orwell

This is Day 56.


My friend Stacey has this inexplicable magnet hidden somewhere in her body that tells all the crazies in the world to seek her out and tell her their life story.

I'm not kidding.

She has so many wacky encounters, I have been trying to convince her to install a purse-cam and document these shenanigans....she'd get an Oscar for "Travels With Stacey" or something. Needless to say, she is never without a good story or an important one.

For example:

Years ago, Stacey was on a plane flying from somewhere back to Philly when a woman took a seat beside her (actually, she did that before the plane was actually flying....but that's just a techinicality). They exchanged a smile greeting before returning to their quiet thoughts for the long flight home.

Suddenly, however, the woman burst into tears.

Stacey, who would consider this familiar territory, asked the woman if she was okay and if she could help in any way. The woman shared her story with Stacey.

That day was the anniversary of her son's passing. At age five, the two were sitting in the kitchen having a great kid conversation as she prepared their lunch. Her son chatted away about everything while she sliced up his hot dog, ignoring the voice in her head that told her the slices were too big. You can guess how this story ends.

Needless to say, the woman's grief had been almost insurmountable, but somehow she had managed to find her way through the darkness and accept the road her life had taken. She was now pregnant again, preparing to welcome a child into her life again. She was excited about her pregnancy, but a day had yet to go by when she didn't think of him and feel tremendous guilt.

I think of this secondhand story every time I cut food for my kids.

A Mild Trauma

Yesterday, after spending a good deal of the morning on our swing set, my daughter shared a new discovery with me over lunch: a splinter.

She presented it simply enough, with little fanfare or emotion. It wasn't until I said, "Oh, that's a splinter. I'll take it out right after lunch," that things got tricky.

That's all I said. She doesn't even know what a splinter is, but that didn't stop the waterworks.

I tried to explain what it was and reassured her that it wouldn't hurt at all, but she would hear none of it.

I explained that if she didn't let me, we'd have to go to a doctor. It didn't work.

I decided to let it drop and decided to wait for my husband's help later at night. Letting it drop, however, proved most difficult.

Every hour brings questions: Mommy, am I going to the doctor? Mommy, are you going to take it out? Please don't take it out.

My heart was breaking right along with my sanity.

As bath time approached, I tried to remember all the childhood tricks for removing a splinter, knowing that burned needles and any kind of sharp utensil would launch my little damsel into further distress.

And then it hit me.

Stashed away in the far reaches of the pantry was a package of candy necklaces I'd picked up as emergency Valentines. Having forgotten about them proved to be a blessing as I designed my plan.

Boo boo bunny (to ice the area), an expensive and exact tweezers, and a candy necklace to bite on. I also included a promise to stop if it really hurt and unlimited bites of the necklace.

Thankfully, the splinter was not stubborn and the candy was just sweet enough.

I'd love to claim it was a stroke of genius; but really, it was just a stroke of luck. Much like biting knuckles, the candy necklace was much tastier and distracting.

The remaining seven has been returned to the pantry for future traumas.

Questions: Food

1) Why does my daughter eat things at other people's homes that she won't eat at mine? (And they don't even have stickers!)

2) Why will my son eat an entire piece of fruit, waffle, or burger if it is "whole", but stick up his nose in disdain if I present the food in slices?

3) Why will my daughter eat a mountain of french fries, but simulate choking with anything else in other potato form?

Something New...

Olivia has always been pre-occupied with anything related to the bathroom and her involvement in it. Not only that, she loves to share.

Recently, she likes to evaluate any "substantial" bathroom visits she has, and compare any "substance's" likeness to a letter of the alphabet. Odd, but very accurate.

Common letters include "L", "I", "C", and the occasional "T"...and, of course, they're always capitalized (of course!).

Then, the other day, O marched out of the bathroom and declared that she had produced an "F". No longer amused by my daughter's scattalogical similes, I rolled my eyes and began another discussion about flushing and washing hands should come before anything else after a poop.

Just as I was about to repeat my message, my eyes caught sight of something completely unexpected: a perfectly formed, unimaginable letter "F". I'm not sure if it was my audible gasp or the subsequent laughter that alerted my husband's attention, but the next thing I knew, he was standing next to me in shared amazement.

"Wow, that sure is an "F". Now, wash your hands, please." I couldn't conceal my surprise, but also wanted to avoid actively encouraging her latest hobby.

Her father, on the other hand, was giving out high fives.


I actually had to tell him, "No, you will not take a picture."

We are great parenting partners, but some times our perspectives on how to raise a little lady are on opposite sides of the potty.

Quote of the Day

"Few things are more delightful than grandchildren fighting over your lap." ~Doug Larson

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Brother Abroad

My husband is spending the week as an Ivy man, taking part in a program at Penn's Wharton School of Business where he attends seminars presented by various bigwigs in the world of business.

To kickoff the week's seminars, Sunday night hosted billionaire oil and gas executive (and one of America's best known entrpreneurs), T. Boone Pickens.

At 80 years old, my husband was struck by both his vitality and his very simplistic and intelligent sense of direction in taking the US off foreign oil dependency. His ideas are fresh, reasonable, and compelling, which is also why he's been called upon by anyone working toward alternative fuel sources, most notably President Obama.

But here's what my husband enjoyed the most.

Every year, this Wharton conference donates a portion of its tuition to a program known as "Wall Street Warriors", which helps military veterens carve out a career in finance after their service is done. This year marked the first time that two beneficiaries were in attendance of the conferece. One man, a Marine had lost both legs in service, while the other had put his financial business on hold after he was called back to duty in Iraq.

These men were recognized and applauded before T. Boone took the stage.

When the billionaire did appear, he again sought to recognize the two men for their service. He thanked them before saying:

"Before you guys leave tonight, get my info to contact me in Texas. I'm in a position financially to help you with your business."

Not a bad client to have.....

This is Day 55.

To learn more about the "Pickens Plan", a real plan for America's energy crisis, click HERE.

Daylight Savings

As much as I bemoan the bi-annual disruption of my children's schedule, Daylight Savings also presents a new opportunity to reset their clocks so that maybe, just maybe, I can have those kids that sleep until 8.

Never happens.

We are a six o'clock, "hello world!", family.

I Love Warm Weather

Every year I am surprised by the effect those first beautiful days of the year have on me. The sudden burst of energy, the unexpected clarity, and the sudden motivation to clean, play outside, and (dare I say it?) exercise.

On Saturday, as the thermometer crept toward a balmy 70 degrees, the Maid and her family headed to the zoo where our year membership gives us an all day pass, free parking, and access to normally pay per use activities (shout out to Lawyer Beth for the referral). The highlights included O's declaring the hippo's "tush to be too big" and Joseph roaring at the lions, as well as other unsuspected toddlers near by.

The rest of the weekend involved grilling, putting the swings back on the now weathered swing set, and realizing how sedentary and dreary our days have been.

I usually believe March is the cruelest month, but with weather like this, it may be okay.

Having said that, I should probably plan for the next Nor'easter soon.

Guess Who?

Last week's Guess Who? proved to be the first that no one was able to identify, which completely shocked me since others (e.g. the girlfriend from Back to the Future and Jenny from Kate and Allie) were quickly picked out.

Anyway, the above little lady is none other than Alisan Porter, who's most known for her role in the 1991 James Belushi movie, Curly Sue. Alisan, now 28!, is a busy Broadway musical actor, starring in productions such as the A Chorus Line revival and Footloose.

She is also making me feel supremely old.

Quote of the Day

"When he came up two days short, he didn't get a dog. That was harsh. It was wise, but harsh."

-Chris Affleck, on how she dealt with her son Ben Affleck wanting a dog as a boy. (She made him walk an imaginary dog for seven days.)

Picture of the Day

If you were among the millions of people who
basked in this weekend's fabulous weather,
please direct your thank you letters to Zachary,
who effectively showed Mother Nature what to do with all her snow.

Please send your favorite kid pictures to:

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A Brother Abroad

PBS ran a series about "War Letters" and the American experience through war. The series features actually letters, galleries, and the follow-up with the letters' original authors.

It is powerful, compelling, and heart-wrenching. A history not left to lofty historians, but to the people who lived it, saw it, and even died amid it. Click HERE to view the site.

And now, an excerpt:

"Dear Sir,

For twenty-two years I have carried your picture in my wallet. I was only eighteen years old that day that we faced one another on that trail in Chu Lai, Vietnam. Why you did not take my life I'll never know...Forgive me for taking your life, I was reacting just the way I was trained..."

Resolution Luttrell wrote this letter and left it at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. along with the photograph he'd kept. In March 2000, Luttrell travelled to Vietnam to meet with the daughter of the man he met on the trail in Chu Lai.
This is Day 54.