Thursday, November 30, 2006

Overheard at the gas station

Chichimama: "Fill it up with regular please.*"

Gas station attendent: "We're out."

Chichimama: "Uh, OK. Fill it up with plus then."

C: "Mom, why are they out of 'fill it up with regular?' Why do we have to get 'fill it up with plus?'"

Chichimama: "Huh? Oh! It's not 'fill it up with regular,' it's just regular, really."

C: "Then why do you always say 'fill it up with regular?'"

Chichimama: "Well, because that's just how you order gas I guess."

C: "Huh. If you say so."

*Yes, I live in NJ in case you hadn't figured it out by now. I love that I don't have to pump my own gas. Love. It.

They know me by name now

Today I had no less than three trips to the grocery store. Because I kept leaving my list in the car, and then winging it instead of walking BACK out to the car to get it. You would think I would have learned after the first time. And I actually should go a fourth time, because I managed to break the eggs on the way from the car to the house, but I'm going to make M stop at 7-Eleven on the way home instead. Because it will take him three minutes to run in by himself while it will take me close to twenty with the kids in tow between the getting into the car, the getting out of the car, and the chasing around the store hassles.

Why can I not get a grip on the routine tasks that running a household entail? I was so not cut out to be a housewife. A parent, OK, I can handle that part, sometimes. But the keeping everything else running smoothly part? Not so much. They really need a "Housekeeper 911" show instead of "Nanny 911". I would sign up for that in a heartbeat. I so bet that there are many more people with housekeeping issues rather than parenting ones. Hmm. Perhaps I should pitch it someplace. Where oh where are my screen writing notes from college?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Just what I wanted to hear

C: "Hey! Mom! Guess what?! I remembered what happened today!"

Mommy: "What C?"

C: "Giggling Friend's mommy had to come pick her up before snack today! She had a tummy ache! And a fever!"

Mommy: "Oh God. Did you play with her today?"

C: "Yeah! All morning! We were playing secret message!"

Mommy: "Noooooo....."

Mars and Venus

Mommy: "C, what did you do at school today?"

C: "I dunno, I can't remember. Snack? Play?"

Mommy: (big sigh) "A, what did you do at school today?"

A: "First I played dress up. With New Friend. She was in pink. Then I did my project. We made green trees with sticks. Miss M helped me. Then I played with the babies. They were hungry, so I gave them bottles. We had crackers AND pretzels for snack. Three of each. We put on coats and went outside. Miss P pushed me on the swing. Then I pooped, but I didn't tell Miss M. I slide down the slide and poop got everywhere. It was a big mess. Miss M changed me, and I got to wear New Friend's socks. Because you didn't put any in my cubby. Then some kids went home, and I went in to have lunch. Except I didn't eat much because I wanted to play with the train. Then you picked me up! Can I have my lunch now?"

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Hamsters are the ones that run round and round on little wheels, never getting anyplace, right? Or is the the guinea pig? I can never keep them straight. Well, whichever creature it is, that's me right now, except instead of getting exercise on a wheel, I am moving from chair to couch and back again, trying to figure out which of the many holiday related tasks I need to tackle first. And so I am tackling none of them.

But today I DID clean the downstairs of the house. Vacuuming and mopping and the whole nine yards. And then when I walked into the house after taking the kids out to dinner (one shouldn't have to clean AND cook in the same day in my opinion), I couldn't figure out why it smelled so funny. I checked the furnace, the stove, and then realized it was the smell of Murphy's Oil Soap. How sad is that that I didn't recognize the smell of clean...

Anywho, back to my hamster habits. Do I keep knitting, knowing that I probably won't finish the scarf by Sunday? Or do I instead turn to the holiday cards? Or do I wrap the presents that have to get shipped and dig around to find a big enough box to fit them all? Right now I have chosen to sit on the couch and watch a Charlie Brown Christmas on TV. Because that's productive. But I really should be combining it with something. Like the holiday cards. But I don't have stamps. Or M's address list. So how far could I really get?

Did I mention the cookies I need to bake for the cookie exchange? And the ones for gifts for the teachers and such? Oh, and I need to plan a menu for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. And figure out stocking stuffers. Because Christmas is all about the stockings in my opinion. Somehow I judge the success of the holiday on how much people like their stocking stuffers. I know. I know. But I LOVE stocking stuffers. I am sure I spend more on the stocking stuffers than the actual under the tree presents.

Maybe I should keep knitting. I can knit and watch Charlie Brown. But I need to throw the bread for playgroup tomorrow into the breadmaker....Wheel. Spin. Wheee....

I owe it all to Susan Wagner

I have my holiday outfit. And it all cost less than $40. At Target today I bought this jacket,

which Susan over at Friday Playdate had been praising a few weeks ago. When I saw it in her post I thought "God, short and boxy. It would look look horrific on me," and didn't give it another thought. But today, in the clearance racks of Target, there it sat in just my size. "What do I have to lose?" I thought, and trotted off to the dressing room (yes, you heard me, I went into the dressing room at Target because I so sure it wouldn't look right that it wasn't even worth leaving the store with it). And, it looked good! But not with the wide-leg flowy pants I have at home.

So I headed next door to Old Navy to try and find another Susan recommendation, these pants. And guess what? On sale and in my size! Add a pair of black heels and a chunky necklace, and I actually look put together! Can you see the dance of joy I am doing right now? Thank you, thank you Susan! And thank you everyone for your moral support during this shopping crisis. I now return you to your regularly scheduled blogging.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Fashionista I am not

I just had the unfortunate experience of spending the afternoon at the mall with two children in tow, trying on clothes that are office holiday party appropriate. For the first time in five years, a sitter had been lined up and I will be attending M's office party, assuming no major illnesses befell us.

Since it has been five years since I have spent the holiday season doing anything besides putting together toys, when I went shopping in my closet I found nothing that both fit and didn't scream "bought in 1996!" So to the mall I went. First I headed to Ann Taylor Loft. "Cheap and trendy! I love Ann Taylor Loft" I thought. I tried on this...and it was clearly not made for boobs that have nursed two children. Then I tried this...but I am just not a shrug type of gal. Other than that, nothing looked even remotely appropriate.

Next I headed to JCrew. Everything there was $200 and up, and we moved on to Talbots. Yes, you heard me. Talbots. I came very close to buying this. It was comfortable. It had an elastic waist. It hid my belly roll and hips. But I just couldn't quite do it. C told me it looked like pajamas. And if my almost five year old thinks it looks like pajamas...well, it probably does. I tried on four pair of pants. Three blouses. Apparently, short shirts are in again which is just unfortunate. After two children, I want to hide my tummy. As I'm not about to start doing sit ups.

Finally I headed to JJill. By this point, the troops were whining "I'm hungry. I'm tired of walking. I want to see the penguins." I whipped through the store and walked out with this. I know. Not very chic. But comfortable! And useful, as I can wear it with jeans after the fact. Do you think with a pair of dressy black pants, heels and a cami I can pull it off? Or does it too scream frumpy mom?

Gah. Have I mentioned that I really, really hate to shop?

Ah, it is good to be average

As seen at Charlotte's Web. I am proud to be a...

C-List Blogger

Head over to Kineda to get your own great little doo-dad!

Do you think I could get a better table at the dinner downtown now? Because they always put me and the kids in the corner near the kitchen, or by the door in the winter. But if I tell them I am a C-List blogger and I'm going to blog about it....hmmm.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Thanksgiving Roundup, Brought to You by the National Bullet Association

Still doing laundry. The problem with going to my dads place Thanksgiving weekend is that they are getting ready to close up the house for the winter, so things like the washing machine, which is not critical for most grownups who don't have to change children's outfits every five minutes, are turned off. So, in between loads, I'll give you an abbreviated version of our trip.

  • We managed to avoid traffic both directions. It made the whole trip that much more enjoyable.
  • Disappointingly, we could not find a Starbucks on the trip up or back. Next time I will need to do my homework and plot them in advance. Except somehow I doubt that where my dad lives is a hotbed of the Starbucks demographic.
  • My youngest aunt and her kids didn't make it for Thanksgiving, which made for a somewhat quieter Thanksgiving than years past.
  • In fact, there were so few of us in attendance that I finally graduated to the grownup table, as did my kids.
  • The food was delicious, M spent several hours groaning on the couch after the meal was over.
  • I, however, paced myself and was able to have a turkey sandwich before bed. The best part of Thanksgiving is the turkey sandwich before bed.
  • C wouldn't know how good the food was, he spent the meal whining about how he doesn't like new things, even thought he used to eat everything on the table with gusto.
  • A got brownie points for eating up a storm, although I have a sneaking suspicion that my Uncle ate most of her meal for her. At least she pretended to like it.
  • My grandmother was sprung from her nursing home for the day, and held court around the veggies and dip and cupcakes.
  • Except she kept turning off her hearing aid, so I don't think she heard much.
  • But she seemed to be doing as well as anyone could be at age 96.
  • Because my youngest aunt was missing, M and I got to sleep in the part of the house with heat. It made it so much more enjoyable. Especially since my dad keeps the thermostat at a much higher setting than we do at home. It was almost decadent.
  • The kids had a blast, despite the constant whining about food options. There were sticks to pick up, ice cream to be had, and grandparents to lead them in the making of a gingerbread house.
  • Thanks to heroic kid watching efforts on the part of M and my dad and step-mom, I actually completed three Christmas knitting projects while I was up there. I probably could have done more, but I ran out of yarn and was too lazy to head downtown and buy some more.
  • Now I need to decide how many more gifts I am making. The temptation is there to keep going, but I am afraid that I'll be pulling all nighters the week before Christmas if I don't think this through.
  • And on that note, I am off to buy some size 9 needles so I can start on the scarf for M's grandma. Because she is arriving on Friday and I want to send it back home with her. One less thing to ship don't you know.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The problem with coming home

The problem with coming home after a long weekend away is the laundry. Well, that and the cat puke that covered every surface in our house. Which only adds to the laundry issue. I'm off to be one with the washer and dryer, as the hand-me down cupcake pajamas must be clean by bedtime or there will be no sleep for anyone.

Friday, November 24, 2006

There was turkey and it was good

Still visiting with my dad. I'm using a slow dial up and seem to have some sort of virus on my computer, so this will brief. No movies were seen, but I did beat my family (including M) in a game of Scrabble. Victory is sweet. So is the leftover turkey calling my name.

Hope everyone had a happy Turkey Day, and I'll catch up upon our return, assuming my computer hasn't imploded.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Tra la la

It is 8:30am, and I have yet to start packing. We were supposed to be on the road by 9. Can you say holy procrastination Batman?

Now I am really off to pack. Except there is still laundry in the dryer...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Overheard in the kitchen

Mommy: "A, do you need to use the bathroom?"

A: "Hop, hop hop."

Mommy: "A, do you need to pee?"

A: "I'm not A, I'm a bunny! And bunnies don't pee."


Clearly, I am missing something

So has anyone seen Borat? I was planning on trying to sneak away and see it this weekend because it has been so wildly popular, and if I am going to see a movie I might as well see the one that everyone is seeing. But after actually reading a synopsis instead of just going on the fact that the rest of America seems to love it, I have no interest. It sounds just awful. Am I missing something? Is it just me? Right now the animated one with the dancing penguins is looking pretty good.

NaBloPoMo No Mo

Tomorrow we are off to the wilds of lower New England to spend Thanksgiving with my dad and his family. His house is located in the middle of nowhere so I am fairly confident there won't be a wireless signal and the wireless card M uses for work is not currently in residence. So I respectfully bow out. I could use one of those emailer services, but that feels sort of like cheating, and, it's not like I really have anything interesting to say. In fact, I'm sort of relieved about the whole thing.

Now I just have to figure out which holiday projects I am shleping up with me. Perhaps if I use the time I was spending blogging to knit I'll be able to finish up some of them. Although between that and the bread baking, my relatives are going to have serious flashbacks to what it was like to have my mother in residence. Perhaps I'll just buy the store-bought rolls and call it a day.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The time has come, the mommy said

To speak of many things. Of pee and poop and bathrooms, of accidents and potty rings.

Yes folks, we have hit the great brick wall of potty training. A insists on underpants, but yet refuses to use a potty. A catch 22 indeed. Do you know how many times I have cleaned up pee off of the floor, carpet, bed, couch, insert place other than the toilet here? Do you know how much laundry I have been doing? Do you? A lot. A whole lot.

I'm at a loss. The pediatrician is at a loss. But she IS thrilled with A's growth. Three inches! Three pounds! In only six months! Who cares if she pees on the floor? A strong wind isn't going to blow her over anymore! But as I pointed out, while growth is all fine and good, the more she eats and drinks, the more she pees and poops. I'm just saying.

Ideas? Suggestions? Because someone isn't going to make it through this process mentally unscathed. And I have a feeling that that someone is going to be me.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Ahead of the game

I ordered my holiday cards tonight. Yeah for me! Of course, in my hurry to get them out the door I uploaded the wrong picture, and realized right after I hit the send button. The price to be paid for efficiency I suppose. Gah. I guess only I will know. Well, me and the many of you who I have addresses for.... Just think, the card could have been that.much.more.cuter.

Unlike last year, I won't be posting the picture for all to see since I was able to get a picture with both kids smiling. It took 210 shots, but I did it. Oh, how I love thee digital camera. So you'll have to take my word when I say I bought myself another year in the holiday card department. I have had two inspired years in a row, and apparently now people are waiting to see what I came up with this year. The pressure was huge, and I don't think it was quite as fabulous, but it should suffice.

I am just so excited not to be rushing on December 22nd to get the cards out, that I could care less about the quality....

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Must. Blog.

Thought I was going to miss a day, didn't ya? Well, it is not going to be much of a post as I am done. D-O-N-E - Done. We had a fun filled morning at the local children's museum and then this afternoon C and I attended a friend's birthday party where somehow I ended up in charge of several children as their moms had errands to run and I wasn't quick enough on my feet to invent some. Which was fine, but my head was whipping around with requests for bathrooms and juice boxes and snacks and did I mention the bathroom trips?

Tomorrow I teach A's Sunday School class again, and then I am off of Sunday School duty until February I think. It's fun, in a "I have so much more respect for preschool teachers who have to do this every. single. day" sort of way. So I am off to prepare snacks and arts and crafts projects for an undetermined number of two and three year olds. I'm thinking biblical coloring pages and maybe some popsicle stick picture frames? The picture frames, not so religious, but we're talking about two and three year olds here. If we make it through the service without me having to duck through pews trying to find a parent because of a major meltdown, it's been a pretty good day.

So there you have it. Children's museum, birthday party, Sunday school. A well rounded, child-centric weekend. What else could a parent ask for?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Cause I promised so very long ago

Rebecca put me to shame, giving everyone a virtual tour of her home long after I promised pics of our house. And since y'all lived through the move with me, and Rebecca and family have never seen the new homestead with furniture, I thought I would finally get around to them.

I'll skip the entry as that was covered in the previous photo tour.* It hasn't changed much, the dry clean only covers are still on the benches, and probably will stay there until they get so gross that I cave and make some more practical ones. I did get most of the tools moved down te basement though.

So from the entry, you can go straight up the stairs...

(note the coat closet the size of a pea and the banister that M installed over the summer), left into the living room or right into the dining room. We'll go right into the dining room so everyone can oooh and ahh over the paint job.

Oooh, ahh. It doesn't match the rug as well as I thought (the rug picture didn't come out) but I'm not going to repaint it anytime soon. Maybe the rug will fade now that it sees the light of day.

But enough about the paint, let's continue on to the kitchen, which is through a door to the left of the dining room table.

Lots and lots of white cabinets. Great for storage, not so great for keeping free of paint, mud, and food fingerprints and smudges.

There is a lot of stuff on the counters. I know. But I can't quite seem to get the kitchen organized right. I think I just have to take everything out and start all over again in the organization department (M is rolling his eyes right now).

And look, the kitchen table did fit! As you can see, C and A are in the middle of making a castle out of tin foil and paper. Because we are all about castles now that Julia and Evan live near the queen. Off to the right there, you can see the door to M's office...

and proof that my husband does indeed love me.

Bookshelves! In the kitchen! For my cookbooks! I've chosen to ignore the fact that the only reason they got put up was because he didn't want the cookbooks in his office. It was because he loves me I tell you. But I digress...

Behind the kitchen table is what we choose to call the odd place.

We have no idea why it is there, since the family room is not even two steps away. For now, it is the train room. If anyone else has any suggestions on what we can do with it once the train stage is over, I'm all ears. The angle looks a little odd because I am standing at the top of two steps that lead down into the room.

Speaking of the family room, here it is. The picture is taken from the top of the stairs to the odd space. Just so you know how close we are talking here.

Do you see the sunlight? Do you see it? Do you see how happy all this sun makes me? Happy happy happy. So happy that I only yelled for a little bit right now when C decided to cut a hole in the only pair of sweatpants that still fit him. Hmm, I wonder where I put that Carter's Outlet coupon....

Anyway, here is the chair in which I blog and knit.

Lazy cat is snoozing on top. It seems to be her favorite place to sleep in this house. So as I type there are generally kitty snores and purrs in my ear. It makes knitting a bit challenging though, as she likes to bat at the yarn.

Finally, to complete our tour, the living room, shot from the family room. If you look closely, you can see dumb cat snoozing. Clearly not catching mice. The diet hasn't worked out so well.

The living room is the dumping ground for everything that hasn't found a home. And very dark because all of the lights are still over at the old house lighting that in hopes that someone buys it. So if you are coming anytime soon (or not so soon, let's be realistic here) don't expect to sit in the living room, 'kay?

Next week we'll head upstairs, much less exciting. Bedrooms. A small hallway. A pink bathroom.

*And if you check out the photo tour, you can see where all the furniture was in the the old house. Fun fun and more fun for all those interior decorators out there who are rolling their eyes right now and saying "NO! Don't put the couch against the wall! It's rule number one!" But where else are you supposed to put them?

For soon it will be Thanksgiving Day

The rapid approach of Thanksgiving means that one of my all time favorite preschool songs is being sung by my two favorite preschoolers. All the freaking time. But yet, I still love the song, and a friend even caught me singing it in the middle of the grocery store the other day. "What song?" those of you without small children might ask. "I didn't KNOW there were Thanksgiving songs!" Trust me, there are songs for every holiday known to man. I am just waiting until C comes home with one for Administrative Assistant day.

Anyway, without further ado, here are the words to my favorite Thanksgiving song, as best I can tell anyway.

Five little turkeys playing by the door. One ran away and then there were four.
Run turkey run turkey, run far away as soon it will be Thanksgiving Day!

Four little turkeys sitting by a tree. One ran away and then there were three.
Run turkey run turkey, run far away as soon it will be Thanksgiving Day!

Three little turkeys playing skip-to-my-lou. One ran away and then there were two.
Run turkey run turkey, run far away as soon it will be Thanksgiving Day!

Two little turkeys resting in the sun. One ran away and then there was one.
Run turkey run turkey, run far away as soon it will be Thanksgiving Day!

One little turkey, not having any fun. He ran away and then there were none.
Run turkey run turkey, run far away as soon it will be Thanksgiving Day!

How to they know?

How do kids just know when you are about to lose all. of. your. marbles. and either commit yourself to some institution or run as quickly as you can back to work? (Although as someone pointed out to me, running back to work wouldn't solve our sleep issues. And since the sleep issues seem to be the root of most (if not all) of my kids behavior issues, I guess I would just end up being a tired, unproductive and equally guilt-ridden employee. So institutionalization it is. Or maybe the circus.)

Last night, after what could be deemed a middle of the road bedtime (only five trips back upstairs, thanks for asking) everyone slept. Through the night. 7:30 to 6:30. That my friends, if I counted correctly, is eleven hours of blissful silence. And since I managed to get myself into bed by 10:30, that meant that I got eight hours. EIGHT HOURS OF SLEEP! I feel well, semi-human. Especially after my morning dose of caffeine. We have now been up for an hour, and no one has yet tried to strangle, push, or toy-steal. "Please," "thank you," and "you're welcome" have all been heard.

I can't imagine that the rest of my day will go so smoothly, but I'll take what I can get right now. I wonder if I should dare to brave some holiday shopping with the kids in tow this afternoon, or if that would be pushing my luck.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Less optimistic

The butermilk whole-wheat bread is rising, I think. I am less optimistic about this loaf. I was a bit distracted as I was mixing it because I was simultaneously trying to get lunch on the table, so I have a niggling feeling that I left something out. And I definitely didn't let the dough rest for five minutes after each half cup of flour I added.*

The dough didn't feel as nice as it did yesterday when I was done kneading, but then again I was using stone ground whole wheat so the texture should have been different. I'm reserving judgment at this point.

M has made a special request for cinnamon swirl bread, so I will be skipping around the book yet again. Probably tomorrow, as Saturday is too crazed this week to even attempt a bread. I've never tried a swirl bread before, so it will be interesting to see how closely I can replicate the swirls he is drooling over when thinking about the Pepperidge Farm loaf from the grocery store.

*Phantom was very right when she said baking bread in this manner is not so conducive to life with small children...

My public service announcement for the day

I just read this article about bottled water vs. tap water. While I have always known that bottled water wasn't any better for me than tap, I have continued to buy it (somewhat infrequently) because it is so convenient to grab a bottle as I am running out the door. But I didn't think about the environmental consequences. Did you know that it can take 1,000 years for a plastic water bottle to degrade? While I recycle at home, it is rare to find a bottle recycling can while out and about, so I tend to just toss it in a trash can. Again, lazy am I.

No more. Today I head out to buy some reusable water bottles and a decent filter. M will be thrilled, he will get his reusable seltzer maker too.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

And the verdict is...

good! The bread turned out almost perfectly. The crust was not nearly as crispy as I prefer, but it makes a fabulous sandwich bread, which is what it is supposed to be I suppose. And my first taste of white bread in ages, well, yum. Double yum. I forgot how great refined carbs taste. C and M seem to like the white bread, A is less of a fan.

The dough prior to the second rise.

The finished loaf.

Tomorrow I think I'll skip ahead a bit to the buttermilk whole wheat, as I have buttermilk in the fridge that will go bad if it doesn't get used soon.

Bread Update

Well, so far so good. Even though I ended up letting the bread rise for an extra hour because I didn't make it home on time from playgroup this morning. The dough looks nice and smooth, and it rose like it was supposed to. It is now doing the second rise in the pan, and then into the oven it goes!

I resisted the urge to stop kneading early as I usually do because I run out of time, and was rewarded by a much nicer dough than usual. I guess the cookbooks know what they are talking about after will be interesting to see what the difference is in the finished loaf.

This has been an odd loaf for me, just because it is an all white flour loaf. I resisted the urge to throw in some whole wheat as I said I was going to learn how to do this right. But it is so ingrained in me that white bread is bad, that it was a tough decision to make. And I cut the recipe in half so it only made one loaf. I wouldn't want the kids getting USED to white bread! The book told me to throw in the whole packet of yeast instead of cutting it in half even if halving the recipe, so I did.

That is why I love making bread. It is not nearly as precise a process as baking pastries or other such yummy items. I have always been a dismal failure at pastry making because I can't resist the urge to tweak and I tend not to be an obsessive measurer. Which one needs to be to bake well I have decided. M is a fabulous desert chef. The precision suits him.

Overheard way to early in the morning

C stomps downstairs and plops on the couch.

A: "What's wrong? Why are you acting like that?

C gives her a blank stare.

A: "C, answer me when I talk to you! I asked why are you acting like that? Are you OK?"

C: "Fine. I am tired and cranky and I want to go to back to bed. But I can't because now I am up."

A: "Oh. Do you want some coffee?"

Clearly, my children do in fact hang on my every word.

Just a minor little complaint

It's been awhile since I have subjected the blogsphere to a sleep complaint, so here it goes.

I am so, so, so sick of getting up at 5 am just to listen to A cry and whine until 7 am. If she can't wake up happy, she should go back to sleep. But she won't. And then she resists bedtime. "Not sleepy mommy! Want to play mommy! Want to read Mommy!" This has been going on for well over a year now. Clearly it isn't going away. Waaaah. What did I do to deserve this?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

And speaking of bread....

After my latest bread-making disaster, I have decided to really learn to bake bread. I have spent the last few years winging it with the help of my bread-maker and occasional consults with Nana, but I have never really figured out the mechanics of how it all works well enough to save a loaf that has the potential to be saved, or to know how to tweak a recipe to suit my needs. So, I am going to start at the beginning and work my way through. Unfortunately, I don't own Peter Reinhart's book as I borrow a copy from the library on an as needed basis. So I am going to start with the Bernard Clayton book, which I do own, and see how it goes.

Tomorrow, the first loaf.

For those with an interest in bread

Peter Reinhart has a blog, and apparently is using readers as testers for his books, although the list for the upcoming book is now closed. I stumbled upon it when trying to figure out if there was anyway to save my disaster of a bread when I tried tweaking the New York Times No-Knead recipe.

Note to self: don't try tweaking recipes until you have tried it once the "right" way. I wasted much time trying to decide if the dough was supposed to look as yucky as it did, or if my tweaking had led to a baking disaster. A loaf is in the oven, but I don't have much hope for it. It was pretty sorry looking when it went in there.

Monday, November 13, 2006


Tis that time of year in our church when the service is brought to you by the message of stewardship. When M and I were trying to find a congregation that suited us, we always seemed to venture in during a stewardship campaign. And as I was not very familiar with the Episcopal service at that point, I was fairly convinced that all services revolved around asking me for money, which didn't sit so well with the Unitarian gal from New England. Once we moved here and started attending one church regularly, I realized that stewardship was a once a year thing, and it bothered me less.

Yet, as I sat listening to the stewardship messages yesterday, and the week before, and the week before that, I found myself getting more and more testy. Last night I sat and tried to figure out why. It is not because I don't want to give away money, I happily write checks right and left to schools and non-profits and political candidates. And it is not because I am opposed to giving to religion, I was all ready to step up our contribution this year. It was the way in which I was asked.

Instead of pointing out all of the things that the funds being requested would be used (Sunday School, outreach projects, increased salaries for underpaid clergy, hiring a curate, fixing the leaks in the roof), the speakers tried to guilt me into giving. I should give because I don't, or I don't give enough. I should give more because I am selfish. I should give because the Church says I should tithe. I found the entire process offensive.

I give because I think a cause is worthy. I give as much of our income as I deem fiscally responsible. I think carefully about how I give, where I give, and why I give. To tell me that I don't give enough implies that I am immature in my decision making. To tell me that I am selfish upsets me. To tell me that I should give because the Church demands it just annoys me.

I recognize that we attend church in a wealthy community. And I understand that a large percentage of the congregation does not pledge, or pledges small amounts. I was horrified when I heard what the average contribution was. It was much, much less than I expected. I understand the frustration that the vestry and clergy must feel. But I truly believe that trying to guilt or shame people into giving will only lead to reduced giving in the long run. It may work in the short term, for a certain sub-set of people, but to increase and sustain a donor base, you need to build trust and foster communication.

People give because they want to. They give because they feel good about an organization, its staff, and its mission. They give what they want to give, but that amount is usually negotiable, if done in an appropriate manner. If you want people to give to your organization, make them want to give. Convince them that your organization is worthy, that it can accomplish its mission.

If you want my money, don't tell me to give until it hurts. I give because it makes me feel good. I give because I want to make the world a better place. And yes, I give because I feel guilty about having so much when so many have so little. But I am not going to give to your organization just because you tell me I should feel guilty. Instead, tell me how my money will help you make the world a better place.

I am so proud I could cry

C: "Mom! Guess what I played with A and G today at school!"

Mommy: "What?"

C: "We played VOTING! It was so cool! I can't wait to play voting again tomorrow!"

It's official

I will not be returning to the new grocery store. Just in case you hadn't guessed. Last night I went to make dinner, and discovered that the meat I had bought had expired in October sometimes. It is a brand new grocery store. How could something have expired before the place even opened? And don't you think they should have checked such things as they were stocking the shelves?

This is why I am not a fan of cooking meat. There are so many things that could go wrong with it. And no, I didn't take it back even though I should have. It was 6pm. And I am lazy.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

In my next life I should design grocery stores

Is being able to purchase decent organic produce, specialty flours and grains, and Diet Coke all in the same location too much to ask? Because it seems to be all or nothing. I can head to Whole Foods or Trader Joe's to buy the organic stuff and the funky flours and the soybean butter, or I can head to the regular grocery store and buy Diet Coke and other crappy food. I can't be the ONLY health conscious consumer who makes an exception for Diet Coke, right?

In case you couldn't guess, the new best thing to hit the grocery store scene in my neck of the woods was a serious disappointment. Rebecca, when you get back there is NO NEED to ever set foot in the place. Even if they send you $5 off your order coupons. The aisles are narrow, narrow, narrow, the food is very oddly placed (baby food and the Mexican selections side by side. It never would occur to me to look in the baby aisle for salsa.) It took me 45 minutes to get out of the produce section because they made you walk all the way around each section to find the produce bags. It was like they took every single rule of how to get the consumer to buy more and implemented them times seven. Candy in the cold cereal aisle. Chips in the paper towels aisle. Bread right next to the cookie selections. It was so blatantly obvious that I refused to buy many things on principle.

I recognize that I am a picky grocery shopper. Not everyone needs to buy organic rye flour and soybean butter on a weekly basis. And not everyone insists on buying low-sodium everything because they can't stand the taste of salt. But can't someone make a few concessions? Like offering up a low-sodium option on a few choice items, like vegetable broth and canned beans?

Sigh. I had such high hopes for the new store. And there wasn't even a shrink wrap chicken in sight.

Hickory Dickory Dock

This morning during breakfast, a little gray furry thing ran across my floor. "A mouse! A mouse! There is a mouse in my house!" I squeaked as I jumped out of my chair and ran to the other room. Nana yelled at me not to impart my fear of small rodents onto my children, and M suddenly remembered that he had forgotten to get those mouse traps we had talked about last week.

I quickly raced upstairs to get Dumb Cat, who was snoozing upstairs after a hard night prowling the neighborhood. Upon being presented with an easy snack, Dumb Cat looked at the mouse, looked at us, and tried to head back to bed. We pointed him at the mouse again, and you could see the big sigh as he half heartedly launched himself towards the mouse. As the mouse took off, Dumb Cat sat and watched. M and Grampa S finally corralled both cat and mouse in a small room, and Dumb Cat spent a few minutes putting on a show and then decided to take a bath and head back to bed. Lazy Cat never even bothered to move from her sunny spot. Grampa S finally had to do the deed and put "Mouskins" out of his misery.

My cats are clearly getting spoiled and old. Next week I am putting Dumb Cat on a diet in hopes of stimulating his hunting instincts. If I am going to spend my day letting him in and out of the house, the least he can do is take care of the rodent population.

Menu - week of 11/12

Sunday - Butternut Squash Risotto

Monday - Spinach Quiche and salad

Tuesday - Potato-Crusted Tilapia and roasted winter squash

Wednesday - Curried Chicken with Apples and Mango Chutney

Thursday - M traveling (Pizza Night!)

Friday - Chili

Saturday - Tofu Enchiladas

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The pace is killing me

I thought this post a day thing would be cake. I mean, I generally post once a day. But the days I don't post? I have realized that it is because I have absolutely nothing to say. I mean nothing. I could talk about how putting A and C to bed is getting to be a royal pain in the you know what with the "one more song/book/drink of water/kiss/hug" nonsense, and that if I really want them in bed by seven, we have to start at six. Five-thirty even. Or I could wax on about how I over-committed myself in the making of holiday gifts department and I am going to be burning the midnight oil between now and December 25th. Or about how it has taken me half-an-hour just to write this small paragraph because I have been up and downstairs 40 billion times over the "one more song/book/drink of water/kiss/hug" nonsense.

So as I am being called yet again to open a door and shut a shade, I will put us all out of our misery and conclude today's post. Tomorrow is another day. One that will involve a trip to a new grocery store in town. Oh, the excitement. And actually, I really am rather excited. I have been told it is "just like Whole Foods, except 2o minutes closer." And that my friends, is no small thing.

Friday, November 10, 2006

It only took me two years...

I finally figured out how to get one of those cute little portraits for a profile pic! Thanks to abi-station, you can now see a cartoony version of me. Except it really doesn't looks all that much like me. But it is cute anyway, so I'm going with it :-).

Updated: This is a slightly (emphasis on slightly) more accurate picture, Rebecca? Your thoughts? And yes, I did try to find sunglasses to put on top of my head, but they didn't have that option. So for everyone who doesn't know me IRL, I use my sunglasses as a headband. Apparently it is my signature. Every small child I know puts a pair of sunglasses on their head and walks around saying "I am Chichimama!" when playing dress up.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Bullets of busyness

  • No school today. Yet, we were on the go all. day. long. because today is swim day. Thankfully, the pool had to be evacuated because of an "accident" during A's lesson this morning, which resulted in twelve hysterical toddlers and twelve grateful caregivers.
  • Unfortunately, they got the pool cleaned up in time for lessons this afternoon. C swam halfway across the pool with no flotation today, and could have gone much further. Yet, he refuses to put his face in the water. He is close to holding the pool record for longest amount of time in Pike II. I just don't get it.
  • My mom and step-dad arrive tonight, if they ever make it through NYC. Their late arrival and resulting grumpiness puts a serious wrench in my plan to dump the kids on them tomorrow morning so I could try to start my holiday shopping without two mini-consumers in tow.
  • I take back everything nasty I ever said about basement playrooms. While I still choose not to spend much time down there, I can send the kids there and they play happily by themselves for thirty to forty minutes at a clip. And if I don't want to clean up the toys, I can close the door and ignore the mess. Rebecca is laughing at me right now.
  • Somehow, we are now booked every weekend between now and Christmas. How does this happen? Every year I swear we won't over commit, and every year I end up scrambling through the holiday season.
  • Speaking of the holiday season, anyone have any good cookie recipes they feel like sharing? Preferably ones that freeze well. I bought 40 billion cookie tins on sale last year, but now I have to fill them....
  • I have nothing else for you. NaBloPoMo needs to happen in February next year. It is a short month, and doesn't interfere with any major holidays requiring preplanning...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Some life lessons courtesy of C and A

We've had an exciting week so far at Chez-J/E as apparently I had neglected to impart some key life lessons to my children.

Lesson #1: We do not throw things towards the stove. Even if we are pretending to be a great football player.

Lesson #2: When playing "pet" we do not climb into Tupperware bins and close the top. Even if it does seem more realistic.

Lesson #3: Objects that run on batteries (or electricity) do not get baths in the sink. Or the tub. Or the kidde pool. Or any type of water. Even if the trains are very, very dirty.

Lesson #4: When mommy is closing the door of the car, everyone must keep theirs hands, feet, and toys safely confined within the car seat. Even if we have just one more thing we want to say to our friends.

Lesson #5: We do not do jump up and down on top of the coffee table. Even if we are trying to reach up to the sky

Lesson #6: We do not try to put pigtails on the cat. Even if we want him to look bee-u-tiful.

Clearly, I'm not from around here

Dude! You're 100% from Massachusetts!

Dude! Me and Sully and Fitzie and Sean are gonna hit Landsdowne tonight after the game, hang out at the Beerworks. I'll pick you up at the Coop at 6.

How Massachusetts are you?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

As seen at Phantom Scribbler's. I bet that Nana is still doing a victory dance around the kitchen in celebration of the new governor. And rubbing her hands together with glee as she'll be able to debate politics with M all weekend. Meanwhile, M is still nursing his wounds as I don't think any of his favorite candidates made it through the GOP bloodbath last night. Nana, go easy on him, OK? I knew I was marrying a Republican, but I'm not quite sure he knew quite what he was getting into on my side...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Overheard at the Polls

C: (in a loud, loud voice) "Mommy! Who are you voting for?"

Mommy: "Shhh, we can't say who we voted for while we are in here."

C: "Oh! I can keep a secret!"

Poll Worker: "Ma'am? You're next. Have the kids voted before?"

C: "I have! I voted for brownies instead of cookies at school today!" (C quickly covers his mouth with his hands and looks around guilty.) "Oh no! I wasn't supposed to tell you that in here!"

Poll Worker: "It's OK son. I would have voted for the brownies too."

C: "Then you would have voted with the mag, mag, magority. The brownies won, 11 to 6."

A: "I want cookies."

C: "Then you are in the min-owity. There will only be brownies for snack next week."

Mommy: "Democracy at its finest. Come on guys, let's go vote for people instead of snacks."

C: "Remember! Don't tell!"

Overheard from the Attic

Exterminator Man: "Oh. My. God."

Chichimama: "That doesn't sound good. Not good at all."

Exterminator Man: "Come look at this."

Chichimama: "No, no, I think I'll pass."

Exterminator Man: (into his walkie talkie) "Hey, where are you? Yeah. I found a really large wasp nest in an attic and I'm afraid it is going to eat me alive. Can you come help?"

Chichimama: "I'm out of here."

Exterminator Man: (as I am fleeing the attic) "No worries! Really! We'll get them!"

Exterminator Man has now left the premises to try and round up additional support at "headquarters." Apparently his buddy on the walkie talkie decided he was going to pass on a closeup view of the man-eating wasp nest. The wasps, they are still residing happily in my attic.

Have I mentioned yet that I am deathly. afraid. of. bees/wasps/things that sting?

Updated to add: I love Exterminator Man. He will be getting a holiday card and cookies from us. A lot of cookies.

Early to Bed

We've been having some behavior issues with C. He hasn't been listening, he has been crying hysterically at the smallest disappointment, and apparently he has been acting out at school as well. His teachers pulled me aside yesterday to ask what was going on, and I had to shrug. "I honestly don't know," I told them. They reassured me that they would keep working with him, and suggested that we try to determine the root of the issue at home as he was "Just not the C we love."

C and I had the requisite talk, to no avail. "I don't know why I'm not listening mommy. I'm not angry or sad or anything. I just can't help it." was C's answer to the "Can you tell me why this is going on?" question. So I spent the rest of the day stewing. Was it because of the move? It shouldn't have taken this long to settle in, we only moved around the corner. Was is because M was traveling so much? But in reality, he has been home much more this fall than usual. Should we get C evaluated for, well, something? M looked at me like I had two heads. "Evaluated for what?" I don't know, something....

Then I did some quick math in my head. Well, C used to go to bed at 7, but for the last few weeks he has been fighting bedtime and in reality hasn't been falling asleep much before 8:30 or so. And since the clocks changed, he has been getting up at 6:30 instead of 7:30. So if my math is correct, we have been down two and a half hours of sleep a night. I know how I feel when I run a sleep deficit, I ca only imagine what one like that would do to a four (and a half!) year old.

So I put C into bed at 6:15pm. Don't laugh, I did. And he went right to bed. As I write this, it is 6:35am, and except for a brief wakeup at around 10:30, he has slept straight through and shows no sign of getting up. Apparently, we had a very tired little boy on our hands. I so hope this is our solution. Because I miss the agreeable child who used to live here.

Monday, November 06, 2006


Who knew that a furnace could make such a difference? Despite all of my moaning about the demise of our furnace a few weeks ago, M and I have spent the last few days reveling in the warmth that it our house. Right after the furnace guys had left, M dragged me from vent to vent saying "Feel this! Air flow! There is actually air flow coming from these vents!" And last night when I got cold, I bumped the temperature up a bit and low and behold, just a few minutes later the room was nice and toasty. And the best part is? The warmest room in the house is the family room. Oh, and all of this warmth is coming from a 96% efficient furnace, so hopefully our energy bills will actually go down.

I am starting to think that this winter may not be so horrid after all. If I can be warm and save money all at once, it will be well worth the financial inconvenience of it all.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

In for a penny...

So Adam's comment on my last post filled me with guilt. I didn't mean to sound ungrateful, or unappreciative of the fact that I am able to stay home with my kids. I know that many working parents out there would do anything to stay at home with their kids. And I wish there was something I could do to enable them to do so.

I was initially going to retract my post just to make it all go away, but I'm not going to do that. Being an at home parent is my job, and there are times that people don't like their jobs. Maybe I shouldn't think of staying at home with my kids as a job, but quite honestly, sometimes I do. It is a job that I wouldn't give up if the opportunity to do so presented itself, but it is still a job. For all intents and purposes, I am responsible for my children 24/7, with an hour or two off on a weekend if my husband doesn't have to work. And I find it overwhelming and infinitely more stressful than any job I had outside the home.

I wish that when I have that hour to myself, I could enjoy it without feeling guilty because there was laundry that still needed to be folded, or floors to be cleaned, or kids to be read to. I know that the guilt stems from my own issues with perfectionism, but it is there nonetheless. So forgive me if I came off sounding ungrateful, because I am not. I am grateful every day that my husband can support us without a second salary. But there are days that I wish that I could be the one who goes off to work. And I'm not going to pretend that I love every minute of staying at home, because I don't.


For almost five years now I have been a full-time, stay-at-home parent. I have never, ever held the same job for that long. I think my record in the workforce was 52 months. I have more than doubled that as a parent. And I have to tell you, it is getting a bit, well, repetitious.

I know that there are people out there who hold the same job for years, decades even. My father is one of those people. He has been with the same company for 34+ years. The company has been bought out multiple times, but he has stayed through it all. For all intents and purposes, he has done the same thing at the same desk for as long as I have been alive. I can't fathom.

But yet, here I am. And clearly there will be no job hopping. Day in and day out I do pretty much the same thing. I make one of three breakfasts, one of four lunches, and one of five dinners (for the kids anyway). I serve the same snacks, pick up the same toys, wash and fold the same laundry and empty the dishwasher over and over again. I vacuum and mop floors. I ignore the dust on the pictures. I drive to the same playdates and activities, read the same books and sing the same songs at bedtime. I feel like I have hit the great brick wall of parenting.

If I try to vary our activities, say go to the park with the blue car instead of the red, a massive meltdown occurs. If I serve a meal not pre-approved by the food critics, it gets returned to the kitchen with a extra serving of whine thrown in for good measure. If I suggest that we try to branch out in our TV show repertoire, hysteria ensues. "But we LOVE LOVE LOVE (Curious George, Dragon Tales, Dora). I know that children learn from repetition, but how many times do we have to watch the same Curious George episode to learn all that there is to learn from it? If there is anything to learn from it, which I somehow doubt.

I seem to go through this "woe is me" stage every fall. Fall marks the beginning of the cold. The months that we are trapped in the house for much of the day. The sunlight is limited, and the lack of color makes the landscape of the backyard a dismal view. Every trip out of the house requires the application of layer upon layer of clothing, and then the reapplication when we arrive at our destination. And since this is my fifth year of doing this, I can't really delude myself into thinking that this year will be different.

Nana is going to tell me that this will all get better. That once the kids start school full-time I will be able to branch out, challenge myself with new things. That they will be more flexible, more interested in doing different things. And I am sure she is correct. But right now, the repetition is mind-numbingly boring. The thought of doing another winter of this is almost more than I can bear.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Menu - week of 11/4

And I'm back to my menus. Without them, I found myself at the grocery store every. With both children. And yet, I still had to scramble at dinner time. So, without further ado, here is the weekly culinary plan for Chez J-E.

Saturday - Red Snapper over Spinach

Sunday - Cider Roasted Chicken and Spicy Sweet Potato Wedges

Monday - Leftovers

Tuesday - Enchilada Casserole in the Crockpot

Wednesday - Cuban Pork Loin and Roasted Red Potatoes, Caesar Salad

Thursday - Chili Cumin Stuffed Chicken Breasts, some veggie from the freezer graveyard

Friday - Sushi with Nana and Grampa S

Being a kid

Family Fun night was, well, fun(ish). The kids had a blast. Especially since mommy had to work for most of it, and daddy wasn't able to get there until later in the evening. So C and A got to romp around the room with a gaggle of similarly freed children. C was amazing, checking in before he headed off to a different area, and alerting me to any misdoings on the part of his sister. Which I generally discourage, but last night I applauded his tattletale tendencies when he announced that A was trying to feed the guinea pig or blow bubbles the fish tank.

I have to say, while watching them run around reveling in their perceived lack of supervision, it brought back memories of similar activities when I was a kid. Our town was small, and everyone knew me and my sister. A few times a year there were town wide events, like the Fireman's Barbecue, where the adults lounged on blankets and the children ran wild through the town green (and next door cemetery when we were slightly older). My sister and I ran with the same crowd of kids every time, consisting mainly of the boys from our childhood playgroup and my sister's best friend.

There were a few older boys in the group, who seemed to lead the "daring" activities like hide and seek in the cemetery or the sneaking of extra deserts. At the time, we were convinced we were eluding parental supervision, and applauded ourselves on being oh so sneaky. We thought our parents were just. so. clueless. But as I watched from the soda table as C's chocolate covered hand reached oh so sneakily over to the plate of brownies for the third time, and held my breath as A took yet another flying leap off of the stage, I realized that they were just letting us be kids.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Lazy day

Or, rather, lazy morning. I thankfully signed C up for the four day a week class at preschool, so on Fridays we don't have to vacate the house at quite the hour we do the rest of the week. For the last eight weeks, I had signed C up for a sports sampler class at the Y, which he loved but not enough to want to get out of pajamas at 8:30. So I didn't sign him up again. Which of course led to tears, but when I pointed out that this meant he could stay in his pajamas, he perked up considerably.

I have some guilt, now the only real exercise he gets is swimming, the short recesses at school and our occasional trips to the playground. But the ability to lazy around the house one day a week for one last year was too appealing to pass up. So far this morning we have watched TV, had a breakfast picnic, and snuggled on my chair. Right now C is watching me finish this post, patiently waiting so he can send an email to his true love, Julia.

At some point we need to start our day as C has a flu shot scheduled and we need to make some sort of dessert for the Family Fun Night at preschool this evening. But for the next few hours, we can rest and recuperate.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

I swim, therefore I whine

Today is now swim day Chez J-E. This morning I had the pleasure of putting on a swimsuit and chasing A around a lukewarm at best swimming pool. Can you hear the joy? Can you? Because let me tell you, there wasn't much of it. I was cold, I neglected to shave the right side of my body so one leg was all hairy, and man, I look even worse in a swimsuit in November than I did in July. I would give M hours upon hours of get out of kiddie jail free cards if he could take this one back.

There was, however, much joy on A's side of things. She led me carefully by the hand to the pool, told me which bubble she wore, and showed me how to "safety slide" into the pool. When I wasn't paying much attention to the teacher because I was concentrating too hard on shivering, A took control and dragged me over to the edge for humpty dumpty time. She grinned from ear to ear, and announced to everyone she saw that "I swim with Mommy on Thursday now!" After our lesson, she got terribly excited about being able to go into the girls locker room instead of the family one, and even let me blow dry her hair because she was a "big girl now."

But, my day at the pool is not yet over. At dinnertime I get to shlep both kids back so C can have his lesson. Why I thought that a dinnertime swim class was a brilliant idea, I couldn't tell you. You know that both kids will whine the entire time about how hungry they are, and how tired they are, and are we there yet and are we home yet, and is it done yet. At least I don't actually have to get into the pool this time, I just have to give a thumbs up through the viewing window every time C does anything.

This is going to be a long, long eight week session. I'm going to appreciate this next summer when I can hopefully just sit on the edge of the kiddie pool, right? Right?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

What a difference a block makes

When I was of trick-or-treating age, I was living on a farm on the outskirts of a not very big town. I think at that point in time, the town had a population of 4,000 and my mom, being the gregarious talkative type, knew every single resident. Or at least if she didn't know them personally, she knew of them. There was a smallish downtown, really a short strip of Main Street that had the post office, a used book store, a dry cleaners, and a hardware store. There were no restaurants unless you counted the ice cream stand that served the worst burgers and fries known to man, and one small grocery store where if you were lucky you could find a cake mix and some icing.

Halloween was a middle of the road holiday in Not Very Big Town. Kids dressed up, and those who lived "in town" walked around, but the rest of us got driven by our parents from house to house. There was no Halloween parade and, to the best of my memory, we never wore costumes to school (although I only went to the public school there for three years). Costumes were always pulled together at the last minute from the dress-up box, and frequently recycled from year to year and sibling to sibling. I think my sister and I were gypsies for several years running.

We kept to the same route every year, we hit my sister's friends, then my friends, then my mom's friends. We always ended at the same house, the people who had bought our "in-town" house after we had moved to the farm. Hot chocolate was distributed, and my sister and I would quickly assess our haul and begin the bartering process. We would eventually head home and have our candy baskets confiscated and placed on top of the fridge for "safe keeping."

When M and I lived in the city, there were no kids on our floor, so we never got any trick or treaters. Which I was fine with as no one had ever made the shlep up our mile long driveway when I was a kid, except maybe the children of my mom's best friend on one particularly greedy occasion. But for M, the loss of the trick-or-treaters was devastating as he grew up in neighborhoods where the kids would spend hours going from house to house collecting gobs upon gobs of candy.

Our first year in the suburbs, we bought bags upon bags of candy. And got not a single trick-or-treater. The following year, we got one, and he slipped and fell on our front walk. By the third year, we didn't even bother to buy candy. Because our street was so busy, we would take the kids over to a friends house in a different neighborhood so I didn't panic about someone getting hit by a speeding car. The whole experience was not that different from that of my childhood.

As we prepared for trick-or treating this year, I began plotting out a route in my head. "First we'll head to Lovely Friend's, the Soccer Mom, then we can swing around to Rebecca's old neighborhood and say hi." M looked at me and said "Or, we could just walk out our front door." Duh. Of course. And out our front door was a world that was totally foreign to my Halloween experiences. Gaggles of children in costumes (many of them homemade!) ran up and down the street while grownups wandered around chatting and supervising. M and I quickly attracted a crowd as the "new neighbors" and the kids had a blast ringing doorbells and getting information on who was home and who was not. As an added bonus, almost all the kids who came to our door after C and A collapsed from the excitement of it all were polite and took one piece of candy each until I urged them to take more.

I've always been rather skeptical of the neighborhood experience, and I don't know that I will ever be the person that organizes a block party. But I found comfort in finally meeting the families that surround us, and knowing that if I want it, there is a community here to explore. Plus, there is a gaggle of teenage girls who are dying to babysit. And that is worth the several bags of candy we went through last night.


So I've decided to try the NaBloPoMo instead of the NaNoWriMo . I've decided that with everything else going on, I'm not going to start something I know I am going to fail at. But a post a day for a month? I think I can handle that. Although if we go to my dad's for Thanksgiving I might have to publish my posts upon our return as I'm pretty sure there isn't any wireless up there.

Anyway, while I post more days than not, sometimes my posts are, shall we say, uninteresting. So I am going to try and up my writing quality for a month. I'm not promising every post will be an award winner, or even that any of them will be. But hopefully some of them will be of a slightly higher caliber than those of the past several months.

So, go forth and blog!