Friday, December 24, 2010

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Randomness

  • I don't know how I could possibly forget Mad Men in my favorite TV show post! Seriously, I lurve that show a ton. Colbert Report, too.
  • Obviously, my sporadic posting has driven the Chinese spammers away. Hah! Now, the question is...is anyone else out there? (Hi, Lorraine!)
  • How was your Thanksgiving? We had a lovely time here with family. I love hosting the Holidays, mostly because I'm a control freak. But, I'm also (let me blow my own horn here) really pretty good at it. I love the controlled chaos, the baking, the time management of trying to serve everything hot...I just love it all. This year, I used a probe thermometer for the first time and it was fabulous! It made knowing when the turkey was done a hell of a lot easier. Also, J discovered a new talent for making gravy. I will gladly hand that task over to him, since I've always been a bit intimidated by making gravy (really, it's not that difficult, but I think that, by that point in the meal prep, I'm just over it already).
  • I need to find my passport. It's going to expire soon, but I need to apply for a renewal. Eldest Niece found a killer deal to go to Iceland and I really, really, really want to go. It's on my list of top 3 places I want to see and the deal is fantabulous. We're kind of crazy and thinking of only going for a weekend, but I don't care. She's been twice and says that should be plenty of time. Plus, we're looking at going in January; a Northern Lights tour would be included in the package. How awesome is that?!
  • I think I've settled on a program for graduate school. It's a program that I've been thinking about for years and most likely should have done waaay back in the day (you know, before kids). I had been conflicted between choosing a program/path that spoke to my heart and one that was more practical. In the end, practicality won out but I'm happy with my decision.
  • Miss Ella needs to have her bangs trimmed. I'm taking her to our hair stylist on Saturday. The part I'm a little antsy about is that I think I'm going to let Linda take a couple of inches off of E's hair in the back. I'm still on the fence about it, but I think it needs to be done. Her first "real" haircut...eek!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Postus Interruptus


This break in the 30 days of posting has been unintentional, I promise. Or has it? Maybe I want to keep you on your toes. When will I post? Will I ever return? Do I know you care?

Actually, it really has. I've been crazy busy with Christmas Fairs and other Pampered Chef related things and I turned 35 last Wednesday. An occasion I saw fit to mark as though it were my 21st. Let's just say it was a rockin' good night. The above picture is from Wednesday night. Pictured are Jeeps, Eldest Niece, Friend Katie, Cait, my brother, P, me and J. I love these people so much and it was fabulous to celebrate with them.

I'm not lying when I say it by far the best birthday ever and one of the best nights of my life.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Day 11 - Favorite TV Shows

Ah, well, this could be long, but I'll try to keep it brief-ish.

I adore a fair amount of reality TV. I love Top Chef, Top Chef Just Desserts (crazy drama there!), House Hunters, Survivor, Dancing with the Stars (although I don't always keep up with this one), any of the Food Network Challenges and, up until the most recent season, Project Runway (seriously, I am so disappointed by the winner that I may give the show up).

Last year, through the wonder that is netflix, I fell in love with Bones. For fiction, I can also easily get sucked into an episode of Law & Order (pretty much any incarnation, but I tend to watch SVU most often), and this summer discovered Rizzoli & Isles, which is based on characters created by of one of my favorite authors, Tess Gerritson. In trying to figure out what I watch, I'm realizing that I don't want much that's not reality. At least, I don't have the DVR set to record much that isn't kid programming or reality.

And, speaking of kid programming (which you might imagine there's quite a bit of around here, and you'd be right), I'm partial to the Imagination Movers and Phineas and Ferb. In fact, I love Phineas and Ferb.

On a side, but very important, note, we waited far too long to get DVR - the best invention ever - we should have gotten it before the kids were born, but instead we waited until last year. It has made a huge difference in how we watch TV and how we unwind.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Day 10 - Something I'm Afraid Of

On a serious note, I'm afraid of something happening to the kids, J or anyone in my family (in particular, Mom).

On a completely irrational note, I have a bizarre, inexplicable fear of people in gorilla suits and black holes. Seriously. Once, in high school, I went to a haunted house type of event at my school (it was a haunted tunnel, but you get the picture) and, at the end of the tunnel a freakin' giant in a gorilla suit jumped out and scared the living crap out of me. I kid you not. Turns out, it was my history teacher (who was well over 6 feet tall), but that didn't stop me from bawling like a newborn and freaking the hell out. But, my fear of people in gorilla suits was established long before that event. I just don't know where it comes from. The black hole thing I don't really understand, either. Ever since I was a kid, though, I've been terrified of being sucked into a black hole. I know that it's not possible, but it's this stupid little fear that I have. And now I've put it out there for you all the make fun of me.

Knowledge is power, people, and now you know my weak points.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Day 9 - A Picture of My Friends


Short of ripping off all of my friend's facebook profile pictures or photos, I don't really have a lot of photos of my friends. This one, however, is from just last week. Halloween to be exact.

Katie and I have known each other practically our entire lives, but we've only really become amazing friends over the past couple of years. When we were younger, our mothers tried to force friendship on us, but it didn't really work. Thanks to facebook, however, we reconnected and have been practically inseparable. Now, I can't imagine not having Katie in my life. Our friendship is easy and comfortable, as though we've known each other for, well, ever and FILLED with laughter. Katie is seriously one of the funniest people I've ever known. Liam and Ella adore her, and she them. J thinks she's hilarious and Katie's a perfect fit in our family; we're routinely asked if we're sisters. When Katie had spinal surgery in August, it was a no-brainer to me that she would come here to recuperate and we all loved every minute of having her around and taking care of her.

I'm very, very lucky to have such an amazing friend.

Day 8 - A Place I've Traveled

I've traveled much of the Eastern Seaboard, been to Canada a few times and J and I took a cruise to the Caribbean in January of 2001. The longer list is of the places I'd like to travel to, but I won't bore you with that.

The Caribbean trip is by far the biggest trip I've ever taken. To this day, though, I'm still not sure why I chose the Caribbean as I'm not a fan of the heat AT ALL. We'd never been on a cruise and I thought it'd be fun. Suffice it to say that I don't ever really think I'll feel the need to go on another one (although, I could be persuaded to go on an Alaskan cruise).

We took off in a blizzard from Logan Airport in Boston and flew down to Aruba where we set sail for a week. It was hot, hot, HOT. Even in January. I will say, though, that I've never slept as well as I did on the ship. There was something so lulling about the waves that was conducive to fabulous sleep.

From Aruba, we sailed to St. Thomas, where we spent the day on an excursion to St. John - which was truly one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen in my life. Our next port of call was St. Kitts, which was a bit depressing. We didn't opt for any of the offered excursions and instead spent the day walking around the island, exploring little nooks. The poverty was almost unbearable to witness and it was by far the part of our trip that made us hyperaware of the privilege and ease of our lives that we take for granted. I did, however, purchase some lovely handmade glass coasters that I cherish to this day and they remind me of the beauty of the island. From St. Kitts, we traveled on to St. Lucia, which tied with our last port of call, Barbados, as our favorite place. In St. Lucia, we swam in the sea and enjoyed our of the best days ever. Everything was so breathtakingly beautiful. The water. Oh, the water! You truly cannot believe that it's real until you stare down into it, absolutely mesmerized. Our last port of call was Barbados. We enjoyed a tour of a rum distillery (yum!) and a fabulous tour of the island. We wrapped up our time there by shopping in a sweet market, where I purchased a fabulous homemade tea pot that I still love to this day. Of all of our stops, J and I agreed that, should we ever travel to the Caribbean again, we'd most likely choose an all-inclusive resort on either St. Lucia or Barbados. St. Lucia may win by a hair.

Overall, it was a nice trip, but I was happy to come home to snowy, cold New Hampshire.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Day 7 - My Favorite Movies

Compiling a list of my favorite movies has actually been tougher than I thought it'd be. A couple spring to mind immediately, but then I think to myself that surely I must have more than two favorite movies? So I asked J to help me think of some of my favorite movies. It was interesting hearing what I like from someone else.

  • Terms of Endearment: I love, love, love this movie. My sister took me to it when I spent my entire first grade Christmas vacation visiting her in Boston. It's the first movie I ever cried during (I thought it wasn't OK to cry in public for some silly reason, so I kept trying to conceal my tears form the kid who kept coming into the theatre to check the thermostat). To this day, it's my go-to movie if I want or need a good cry. Which is ironic, because I DO NOT like to let people see me cry. The scene in the hospital where Shirley MacLaine yells to get pain medication for her daughter? Heartbreaking!
  • Shadowlands: I'm apparently a Debra Winger fan. I just love this story of C.S. Lewis and his relationship with American poet Joy Gresham. This is one movie that always gets to me, too. Anthony Hopkins performance as the tight-laced Lewis is so charming that it makes me grin like a goofball.
  • Braveheart: Ah, well I have a fondness for anything related to Scotland and I think Mel Gibson just did a spectacular job with this film. I caught a fair amount of it on TV the other night and it made me happy.
  • Gone With the Wind: This used to air every New Year's Day and I would just be transfixed. It's one of those movies that I would never watch if I actually owned it, but if I happen to catch it on TV I have to sit and watch. Actually, I tend to not watch any of the movies I own, which is an odd little bit about me.
  • Up: Lest you think I only have a thing for downers and epics, I discovered this movie last year and fell in love with it. Fortunately, the kids love it, too. The relationship between Carl and Russell is so sweet and adorable that it just makes my heart melt a little every time I watch the movie (thank you, Netflix on Roku!).
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou?: I LOVE this movie. I think it's hilarious and the soundtrack is AWESOME. This modern retelling of The Odyssey is one I could watch time and again. And, the cast is just fabuolous.
  • Pulp Fiction: This is just plain awesome. Again, a killer soundtrack (no pun intended).
  • Fargo: Yep, there's some pretty fabulous black humor for you. I first saw this movie right before J and I boarded a plane to fly out to Minnesota for a job opportunity for him. Imagine my shock when we got off the plane to discover that the accent was not fake! The Coen brothers are just fabulous. I'll watch anything that they make.
I think I'll leave it at that. I'm sure there are other films that I love or that make me happy, but the above list is a pretty good sampling and gives you a fair idea of my tastes. However, I do have a wicked sense of humor, and it's pretty black at that. I've been known to laugh inappropriately at some pretty gruesome death scenes and dialogue.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day 6 - A Picture That Makes Me Happy

I bet you thought I'd post a picture of the kids, right? Well, of course I have a ton of photos of them that make me happy, but I opted for a picture that, for me at least, encompasses my family and more.

A couple of weeks ago, J decided that we needed to have a family day. He took a day off from work and we went to a local farm/zoo. It was a gorgeous day, there was hardly anyone there and the kids had a wonderful time running around, feeding the goats and seeing all of the different animals. It was a beautiful Fall day and I'll treasure the memories for a long, long time to come.

The berries (?) in the picture above I discovered quite by accident, as we were over near the wolves' area. I've never seen these before and I was taken by the color. I love the little leaf that fell into the bush, and I love the blurred fence in the background.

This picture most definitely makes me happy :)

More Day 5 - My Siblings, Part 2

Alright...so we've gone over the 5 oldest. Now, for the next 4. You might expect that I have more of a relationship with them, and for the most part you'd be correct.

My sister, M, is next. She turned 50 earlier this year. Growing up, she was my absolute favorite sibling and I would do anything to spend time with her. Over the years, though, her life has taken twists and turns that I don't necessarily agree with and our relationship has been somewhat strained at times. But, she's my sister and I love her. She lives here in Concord and adores Liam and Ella, but doesn't get to see them as often as she'd like. Of all of us, she's the most "alternative," I guess you could say. M is Cait's mother, so there's been a little bit of tension at times since Cait and I are so close (after all, she lived with us for 5 years), but we've learned to negotiate those waters.

My sister, K, is next. She and I have the same father. We don't really have a close relationship, though, and that makes me sad. Growing up, I think she was jealous of me because her childhood was more difficult than mine. When my parents got together, Mom showed my father a new world of love and warmth that he hadn't really known before (his parents were pretty strict and his first marriage, which is where my other 5 siblings come from, ended badly). Because of this, I think he was able to be more affectionate with me (even though I was scared of him) and K saw this and was envious. Also, K and my sister, N, are only separated by not quite 3 months, so there was a LOT of sibling rivalry between them when I was little. It was stressful. To this day, there's some underlying tension between the two of them that I don't really get. However, K and N's daughters adore each other, so the adults have been forced to work around/through their issues for the sake of the girls. I really, really wish that K and I were closer. Aside from the fact that she's really the only link to our father that I have, I love her children very much and would love to be more a part of their lives. Basically, though, we're pretty much polar opposites. As warm and gregarious as I am, K is buttoned up and kind of a cold fish. I think that we're both just kind of alien to the other and, as much as I reach out to her, she just doesn't know how to handle it. K is an awesome cook and baker and she also loves, love, loves her pets.

N's next. N and K are both not quite 10 years older than I. Growing up, N was my second favorite sibling. She was the cool older sister who didn't mind the kid sister tagging along. One of my fondest memories of N is when she was a cheerleader in high school and I was in awe of her. She taught me the dance routine to the half-time number, which was Beat It. We spent hours in the driveway practicing and I was so excited to see her perform the routine at P's football game. N's husband is the one who committed suicide last year. N has two children and a step-daughter. I love N very much, but she's one of those people who can be nasty mean, but in a way that makes you feel sorry for her because she can just be so unrelenting. I thought she may have mellowed with Mark's death, but sometimes I don't know. We're not overly close these days, although we do live pretty much right around the corner from each other. I'll always be there for her, though, so I suppose that's more a measure of our relationship than anything else.

And now for my brother, P. He and I have a crazy relationship. He's 8 years older than I and I adore him, but he infuriates me at the same time. P is the reason I wanted to have a boy first, because I felt that every little girl should have a big brother. When I was a little girl, there was a Holiday auction at P's high school and he really wanted to win the Cabbage Patch Koosa for me (the pets of the Cabbage Patch Kids, who I will readily admit having an obsession with). P spent $50 on tickets and was pretty confident that he might win. When a teacher won instead, he went to her and asked if he could buy the Koosa from her because he "really wanted to give it to [his] little sister for Christmas." The teacher agreed and there was definitely some big brother worship come Christmas morning. When he received his first computer, P quickly wrote a program to help me learn all of the state capitals. This pretty much illustrates our relationship. He's very much one of those people for whom actions speak louder than words. P's going through a difficult time. His 20 year marriage is ending and it's a sad time. I've been having him over to dinner and it's been a good thing. I don't think he knows exactly how to handle it that Little Sister is in a position to take care of him, but so far he's come to dinner and talked and enjoyed the time, so that makes me happy. P is Liam and Ella's Godfather and he adores the kids. They make him very, very happy. Now, if only P could let go of the sarcasm as a defense mechanism, I'd be thrilled. Plus, he better come to my birthday dinner next week. Otherwise, I'll be pissed. I think he knows better, but I'll keep you posted.

So there you have it. My 9 siblings in a fairly large nutshell. I would love to have some sort of relationship, or at least meet, the remaining 4 from my father's side. Cyndee and I shared a nice connection when we met last year, but I think life has just conspired to keep us too busy to maintain anything. I hope to remedy that soon. From what I understand, the others don't really want to know about me, save one (gasp! How could they not I'm so damn fabulous!) and that's OK.

Despite all of our differences, I love my family dearly. I love being a part of the insanity that is a large family and I love when we're all together. There's nothing that quite like it.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Day 5 - My Siblings, Part 1

This could be a long and complicated post, so I'll direct you here to read about my siblings in a general sense.

I grew up the youngest of 10 children. Turns out, I actually have 15 siblings, but the other six don't really have a relationship with me (aside from Cyndee, but we've lost touch to some extent and I feel guilty about that). However you look at it, I am most definitely a youngest child (hello, Adler!).

There is a 23 year age difference between the oldest of my mother's children and myself. Growing up, it was never weird to me that half of my brothers and sisters were technically old enough to be my parents or that I had nieces and nephews who were around my age. It wasn't until I was in middle school that I realized my family was kind of unique. We're all very different, but we're all in New England and do see each other several times a year. There are obvious cliques, for lack of a better word, amongst my siblings, but I think that's bound to happen when there's a massive age difference and when there are so many people/different personalities. We really know how to rally as a family, though. Unfortunately, we've had a good deal of experience with this when it comes to death.

Here's the rundown on the 5 oldest, to some extent I'll most likely define my relationship to/with them in respect to my relationship with their children:

Eldest Sister is 58 and currently lives in Maine (though very near the NH border), where she runs a battered women's shelter. Because the majority of her life is consumed with sadness and drama and helping people solve their problems, she tries to live a drama free life. She subscribes to several Buddhist tenets and I don't think it would be going out on a limb to say that she considers herself a Buddhist for the most part. Eldest Sister has 3 children, the oldest of which are also boy/girl twins, who are 28 years older than Liam and Ella (I'm fond of calling both sets of twins "the book ends"). Her youngest was a surprise baby and he was born on Eldest Sister's birthday 26 years ago. He is one of the happiest people I've ever met. Seriously, nothing gets the kid down and just being around him is a joy. Eldest Sister has a very strong personality, but we get along well and she's funny as hell. Growing up, I spent a fair amount of time at her house playing with my niece and nephew and I have many fond childhood memories that include times at Eldest Sister's home.

Chuck, my eldest brother, died of pneumonia when I was 19. He was out at his cabin in California for a little time off and was intending to come back to New Hampshire. His death was a major shock to Mom, who has not gotten over it to this day. Growing up, he was sort of on the periphery of my life. He was around, but never in any great detail. I have good memories of him, and we did grow closer as I got older, but we weren't particularly close. He did have a lovely daughter, my God-daughter, Monty, who is growing into a strong young woman of whom I am very proud. Chuck would be 57 if he were alive today.

I think I've referred to my next brother as Boston on here way back in the day. Boston is 55 and the most financially successful among us. I don't make note of that to be gauche, but it is a significant fact about him. He lives a good life that he has worked extremely hard for. He, uh, lives in Boston in case you were wondering how I so cleverly assigned his moniker, but bought a lovely second home on the coast of Maine last year and spends nearly all of his free time there with his partner, my fabulous brother-in-law, Bello. He is the father of my eldest niece (who is nearly 3 years older than I); Boston became the default patriarch of the family when my father died; we aren't particularly close but we have a strong mutual respect for each other and I know he approves of how my life has taken shape. He and Bello love to entertain and you can almost always find a party of some sort going on at their house.

My sister, A, and I have a wonderful relationship. She is 20 years older than I, having turned 54 earlier this year. A is an amazing person and, growing up, was a second mother to me. When I was pregnant with Liam and Ella, is was pretty much a no-brainer for me that I would ask her to be their Godmother. And a fabulous Godmother she it. A has 4 children and has raised them to be pretty awesome individuals. Nurse, her oldest (only 10 months separates us), is a nurse practitioner. She and her partner, I, recently relocated back to Vermont, after years of living in Philadelphia. Growing up, Nurse and I were pretty much best friends. Nearly all of my childhood memories involve her to some extent. A's youngest son is the nephew who has been very sick for the past year and has nearly died a couple of times. Now that they have a diagnosis (a very rare condition that has hit him particularly hard), they've had a long haul to recovery (which, really, isn't so much a recovery as it is a "new normal"), that includes monthly (sometimes weekly) trips down from Northern Vermont to Boston for medical testing and evaluations. My nephew has lost all of his peripheral vision, as well as his hearing, as a result of the Susac's. The hearing loss has been particularly difficult for A and my nephew to bear, but he'll be getting cochlear implants late next year and he's very much looking forward to that, which is a good thing. A is one of those people who keeps everything to herself, oftentimes to her detriment. All of us, my sisters and I in particular, have inherited a deep personal strength from Mom, but A sometimes has too great of a burden and I would love to help ease it for her, but it takes A LOT for her to ask for help. A and I totally get each other, though, and it's one of my personal joys that we have such a great relationship. I love her dearly.

I've written about my brother Danny here and here. The grief of his death hasn't really lessened with time and now I'm struck by the fact that I'm older than Danny was when he died. It was such a crazy time in our lives, in the history of the disease (so much paranoia and fear), and then bam! it was done. Danny died with grace and dignity and my family made that possible. The experience of his dying and death has left such an indelible mark on my being that I can honestly say that it has permanently affected how I treat people and how I value life and the opportunities we're presented in our daily goings-on. I loved my brother and, though Mom kept me on the periphery of his care and because I was so young, I am honored to have been there to witness the gift that is unconditional love, support and care - from my mother and siblings towards Danny as he died, from our church community who fed us and looked out for Mom, and from Danny himself. He accepted the care and love that we gave to him and, to this day, remains a brilliant example of grace and humility. Unlike Chuck's death, 7 years after Danny's, Danny's death, though heart wrenchingly sad, was a relief. Of course, we didn't want him to go, but he didn't have to suffer anymore and we knew that he died on his terms. Mom finds great comfort in that. And so do I.

Phew! So...that's the scoop on my 5 oldest siblings. I'll post later about the other 4.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Day 4 - My Parents

Ah...this should be interesting. There's really no way to cleanly separate this entry from the next, which is about siblings, but I'll do my best. The very short version is that I am the product of my mother's second marriage and my father's third. More on that later...

My parents are a funny thing. They met while Mom was working in admitting in the emergency room at a local hospital and my father's wife was a patient. My father's wife died and he was looking for someone to care for his daughter. My mother, being an amazingly generous person, had previously taken in a family of 13 from her church - this in addition to already having 8 children of her own at home - so the priest immediately thought of Mom when my father approached him looking for someone to care for my sister, K, for the remainder of the school year. (My father owned businesses in Massachusetts and needed to be down there during the week, only coming back to NH on the weekends, and he didn't want to uproot K during the school year.) My mother agreed to take K in and my father would visit every weekend.

My older siblings apparently were in favor of something happening between my parents, but everyone was shocked when something actually did. After months of visits, providing for K, and spending time with Mom and the rest of my siblings, my father asked Mom to go for a drive. After a while, he pulled over and quite seriously proposed marriage to my mother. She scoffed at the idea, but he very practically laid out the points that her children needed a father (since theirs had left them high and dry) and that his daughter needed a mother. He wanted to care for Mom and my siblings and asked her to consider. She said yes. Personally, I've always thought this story was rather romantic.

Somehow, my father had procured a marriage license and, upon Mom's acceptance of his proposal, he drove to a Justice of the Peace and they were married on the spot. I was born 13 months and 5 days later.

My father died when I was 6. He was a large man with a booming voice, strong and strong-willed, loud and opinionated. Quite frankly, I was scared of him. Since he worked in Massachusetts all week, I really didn't get that he was my father. When he died, I didn't really feel much of anything. That all came later on, in my teen years. I regret deeply that I was afraid of him. By all accounts, he was a puddle of mush whenever I was around and, much to most everyone's dismay, I had him wrapped around my little finger. He even named one of his companies after me. I miss my father every single day. My mother is very fond of saying that he was a bull in a china shop and that I'm pretty much the same way. I take it as a compliment. I'm strong and can hold my own and you always know where you stand with me. I get all of that from him and I'm grateful to be Clem Walker's daughter (now, if you remember the name of the blog post, you might be saying "Clem?" It was his middle name (more specifically, it was Clement). No one called him Francis).

My mother... Ah, Mom. Mom is the strongest woman I know. She has survived the abandonment of a husband, the death of another, the death of two sons and a son-in-law, as well as breast cancer. She is a gifted musician, playing the piano and pipe organ for more than 60 years now and being the church organist for the parish I grew up in for the past 33 years. She's still going strong with her music, too, and it is one of the joys of my life to sit in the house where I grew up and listen to her play the piano. Growing up, I have very fond memories of going to sleep at night and listening to her music throughout the house. Liam and Ella adore it when Nana sits down at her piano. I love seeing their appreciation of music deepen with the touch of her hands to the piano keys. Mom is a fierce and loyal Mumma Bear. She looks out for us still, even though we're all grown. She is beautiful and graceful and loves the English language. She instilled is us all a deep appreciation of reading and research. One of her passions is the daily crossword puzzle, or, as she calls it, "her therapy." I distinctly remember sitting at her knee - quite literally - as she taught me to read and write before I entered first grade. Above all else, though, Mom loves God and her family. She has a deep faith that has seen her through some seriously dark times and to witness it is a gift.

I'm often sad that my parents had such a short amount of time together. Mom likes to say that she's "had the worst of men (her first husband), and the best (my father) but that, without them, [she] wouldn't have [her] children so [she's] always grateful."

I am most definitely a strong combination of both of my parents and I am proud to be their child.

Oops!

The best laid plans....right?

I've had a crazy busy past couple of days and was at a church fair today as a vendor for the Pampered Chef. So, I'll pick back up with the 30 days of blogging tomorrow.

Please stay tuned.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Day 3 - My First Love

*Le sigh*

My first real love was in high school. I was 15 and he was 18. I was a sophomore and he was a junior. I was a day student at a private boarding school, he was a boarder. I was a local girl from the small town, he was from a posh town in New York (I refuse to call places that are only an hour or so away from NYC "upstate"). He was one of the popular guys and it was a small enough school that everyone knew everyone else to some extent, but I was what I like to describe as "second tier popular." He was a jock and I most definitely was not. Because I apparently had a penchant for science, I was in chemistry with a bunch of juniors and that's how we met. Then, he signed on to be in the winter musical . Since I was also cast in the musical, we started spending more time together.

On a freezing cold January day we went to a peace rally/march in the state's capital to oppose the Gulf War (what idealists we were!). We flirted mightily and, by the time the musical was in full swing - 42nd Street, in case you're wondering, I played Maggie - we were an item. Sam joined the a capella group that I sang in and we were pretty much inseparable. Our attire for a capella gigs was blue jeans, white button up shirts and ties. After I admired one of his ties, he gave it to me. (insert swoon here) His parents owned a summer camp for boys in Maine and we got to see each other fairly often outside of the school year. A series of events conspired to make it so that Sam couldn't return to Tilton for his senior year, and it ended up being for the best. He had some issues that he needed to sort through and it still means the world to me that he called to make amends as he sorted out his life. We dated off and on for 3 years and I loved him deeply.

The last time we spoke was shortly before I was married. I had intended to send his tie back to him and tracked him down for his mailing address. Over the years, I thought of Sam and wondered how he was. I hoped that he was happy and his life was good.

As luck would have it, we reconnected a while ago on facebook. He's married now, has two beautiful daughters and, last I knew, was in law school. It's been great to see how well his life has turned out.

Sam'll always be my first love and I'll always have a couple of regrets about our relationship, but I'll never forget him and he'll always hold a special place in my heart.

I never did get around to sending his tie back to him.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Day 2 - Meaning Behind Name of Blog

I explained it back at the beginning, but I'm happy to do so again.

Flea is one of my nicknames. However, ONLY my mother calls me Flea. It's not that no one else is allowed to call me Flea, it's just that no one else ever has and, for some reason, I don't know as though I'd respond if someone other than Mom referred to me as Flea. Chalk it up to a mother-daughter thing.

OK, so the story is that I was quite the active child and would "bounce around from place to place...like a flea." Hence the nickname.

When asked why she called me Flea, she said "because it's her name." Huh? Alright...short story long:

When I was born my parents had no clue what to name me. I came this close to being Clementine (thank you, Dad), but my mother objected vigorously to that selection so it was off the table for discussion. I left the hospital as "Baby Girl Walker" and was summarily baptized within a week of my birth (go, Mom - I couldn't get it together to have Liam and Ella baptized until they were 7 months old). Needing a name for the baptism, my parents culled from their own names and I was baptized Lee Frances Walker. Lee being my mother's middle name and Frances being the female variation of my father's first name. My mother, however, didn't like Lee as a first name for a baby; she thought it was too adult (because, you know, babies don't grow up or anything) so that is not the name that went on my birth certificate.

Apparently, way back when, you had time to file birth certificates. None of this name your baby before you leave the hospital and you can pick up the birth certificate within 10 days business. So...after much consideration and debate, coupled with my mother's desire to have a name that "sounded good with Walker," I was finally, officially Heather Lee Walker, "Heather" being my sister, A's, suggestion. Frances was dropped and I never liked the spelling of Lee. Fast forward to high school: I changed the spelling of Lee to Leigh and, to honor my father who died when I was 6, I took Frances back. So, then I was Heather Leigh Frances Walker. Sometimes, I feel a pang of guilt about changing the spelling of Lee and I know it made Mom a little sad, but it's Leigh and I'm sticking with it.

OK, but where the hell does "Flea" come from? Well...apparently, my mother reversed the order of Lee and Frances and created "Flea." I'll admit, I like Frances Lee much more than Lee Frances, but still - when she said it was my name, I looked at her as though she had 4 heads...because didn't she remember the very name she had given me?! Granted, when you've got 10 kids, it's hard to keep everyone straight.

So, that's where the Flea part comes from...

When I was contemplating starting a blog, I wanted to play off of my nickname and also convey how I try to live my life with gratitude. I batted different ideas around, with the top contender being "Gratefulea," but I wasn't sure if worked. So, I eventually settled on A Grateful Flea.

Because, really, that's who and what I am. A grateful flea.

And now you know.

In Case You're Wondering...

...it is far easier to bang out an hour on the treadmill at 6:30 in the morning when you can watch a movie on closed captioning (as opposed to kids' programming) and have some great tunes on your work out playlist. The time passes more quickly and you're less tempted to peek at your progress. Just sayin'.

I try to pick a movie I've already seen at some point so that I don't have to pay close attention to it, but can still follow for the most part and also, because I only end up watching ~ 2/3 of any given movie, so I don't feel compelled to finish watching it once I'm off the 'mill. This morning's selection was The Rock and, although I already feel the need to create a new work out playlist, all of the songs that came up, save one, were just what I needed for some beats motivation.

Now, I need to shower. I stink.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Day 1 - Intro/Recent Pic/15 Interesting Facts


As promised, I'll follow right up with the first of the 30 day posts. Since I can't get the picture to post properly, it's right here at the beginning. Frankly, there aren't any recent pictures of me, so I took this one just now to make up for that. I'm usually the one behind the camera, so that's the way the cookie crumbles. Here, I'm laughing at something Miss Ella was doing.

So...well, since I've had this blog for a while now, there is an intro waaaay back in the beginning, but it can't hurt to "update" me, can it? On facebook, my "about me" section reads as follows:

"Mother. Wife. Daughter. Sister. Aunt. Friend. News junkie. Democrat. Wannabe quilter. Recovering Diet Coke addict. Gym rat. Reader. Fierce Trivial Pursuit player. All-around strong chick."

That's a pretty apt description. I might actually change the order of some of those descriptors, moving "Friend" higher up on the list. When I wrote it, though, I apparently felt the need to define myself in terms of my family relations first, so there you have it.

I'm a stay-at-home Mumma to 4 1/2 year-old twins - when did that happen? Age 35 is knocking on the door and will be here in a couple of weeks. The nearer I get to my birthday, the less bothered by the number I become - I'll admit to having some anxiety about the big 3-5 a few months ago, but I think it's mostly passed. If anything, I was more bothered by the fact that I was bothered to begin with, if that makes any sense. The real issue is that I just don't feel like I'm in my mid-30s, whatever that's supposed to feel like.

I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to be when I grow up. At some point, I think I would really like to go back to school and pursue a Master's in Social Work and work with sufferers of combat-induced PTSD. Let's just say that it's not a point people in my life can agree on. I wish I had more time to quilt and read. I really wish I had more time to work out. I joined a gym in January 2008 and quickly, and much to my surprise, became addicted to the endorphin high of a great work out. Sadly, over the past months, that aspect of my life has faded far into the background, but I'm beginning to reclaim it by working out at home and have definite plans to get back in the gym within the next month. I love my children more than I ever dreamed was imaginable, but will admit that motherhood is far more difficult than I thought it could be. It truly is the toughest job I'll ever love.

OK...15 "interesting" facts. I could be literal here and post any 15 facts, but I suppose I'll follow the intention of the post and make them facts about me. I just need to remember what I've already put out there, so as not to repeat myself.

  • The older I get, the more genuine confidence I develop.
  • My favorite cardio machine at the gym in the arc trainer. I love doing weights, though. I rock the leg press and smith squat.
  • I am in constant awe of my children.
  • My not-so-secret wish is to one day raise Liam and Ella in the house that I grew up in. It's a lovely old farmhouse on 20 acres of land.
  • I'd love to be a good gardener one day, and have a big garden. You know, at the house where I grew up.
  • I admit to owning Barbies when I was a little girl, but I am still confused as to how to raise such a girly daughter. Miss Ella is enamored of all things pink, Princess and sparkly. It confuses me.
  • I think intelligence is the most attractive quality in a man. That, and eyes.
  • It has been over a year since I've had a drop of Diet Coke. I spent more than 20 years of my life addicted to the stuff and then quit cold turkey one day last September. I thought it would be far more difficult than it was.
  • Now, my drinks of choice are unsweetened iced tea (light ice with lemon, of course!) and flavored seltzer water. Somehow, I learned to make it through the day without coffee.
  • I tend to be a night owl and routinely stay up until 1-2 AM. I'm working to change this, though, and am happy to say that I've actually made it to bed before 1 for the past few nights.
  • I miss my childhood best friend every day. Losing our friendship is one of the saddest experiences of my life. But, I guess that happens sometimes.
  • I have a thing for symmetry.
  • My son is better at using the Wii than I. Unless we're talking about the old school games. Then, I rule.
  • One of the most beautiful places on earth is Shaker Village. One day, I'd like to just go and be for a a while. Sitting in a chair overlooking the pond and just letting life pass me by as I soak in the natural beauty of the place.
  • Next year, preferably in the fall, I want to start a routine of taking the kids on hikes up north. I'm really looking forward to this.
Alright...that's it until tomorrow!

Back

I'm stealing this from Lorraine's blog. (Thanks for the idea, Lorraine!) I've been avoiding posting anything here for quite some time, partly because I haven't had the time to put up anything I felt worthy of your time, but mostly because I am beyond sick and tired of the Chinese spammers.

So....here we go, folks. I'm back!

At least for the next 30 days, this is what I'll be up to here...


Day 1-Introduce, recent picture, 15 interesting facts
Day 2-Meaning behind your blog name
Day 3-Your first love
Day 4-Your parents
Day 5-Your siblings
Day 6-A picture of something that makes you happy
Day 7-Favorite movies
Day 8-A place you've traveled to
Day 9-A picture of your friends
Day 10-Something you're afraid of
Day 11-Favorite TV shows
Day 12-What you believe
Day 13-Goals
Day 14-A picture you love
Day 15-Bible verse
Day 16-Dream house
Day 17-Something you're looking forward to
Day 18-Something you regret
Day 19-Something you miss
Day 20-Nicknames
Day 21-Picture of yourself
Day 22-Favorite city
Day 23-Favorite vacation
Day 24-Something you've learned
Day 25-Put your MP3 player on shuffle, first 10 songs
Day 26-Picture of your family
Day 27-Pets
Day 28-Something that stresses you out
Day 29-3 Wishes
Day 30-a picture

Monday, July 5, 2010

Another One

Ella's been into telling (really bad) knock-knock jokes lately. The other day, from the back seat, her brother decided he didn't want to play along any longer. This is what I heard:

Ella: Knock-knock!
*silence*
Ella: Knock-knock, Liam!
*silence*
Ella: Liam! KNOCK-KNOCK!
Liam: No one's home!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Answers To Questions I Still Get Asked

  • Yes, my oldest sister also has twins. Yep, a set of boy/girl twins, too. The age difference is 23 years between my sister and me and 28 years between my niece and nephew and Liam and Ella.
  • Yes, I always had a feeling that I was going to have twins. Ever since I was about 10.
  • Nope, you're right, I don't know what it's like to "just have one."
  • No, it's not quite like "just doing everything twice."
  • I haven't had a solid night's sleep since sometime in 2005.
  • Technically Liam is a minute older, but who's counting?
  • Uhm, nope, they're not identical.
  • Nope, they're not "maternal" or "paternal," either.
  • Yep, they're fraternal.
  • Yes, as a matter of fact they do keep us on our toes.
  • Yes, I can tell them apart.
  • Well, I don't subscribe to the "one and done" philosophy, although if that's what works for you great! We'll see what the universe has in store for us.
  • Yes, I would love more children. See above.
  • Yes, even another set of twins. (This is my not so secret wish, actually.)
  • Well, double trouble *polite grin* sort of, but more so double blessing (not technically a question, I know, but a statement I hear a lot...still).

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Recently Overheard

The kids have been taking separate baths for a while now. Not because of any Victorian sense of propriety, but more out of necessity. They're just too big - and too rambunctious - to put in the bathtub together if I don't want my bathroom to get soaked.

The other night, while Ella was in the tub and Liam was waiting not-so-patiently for his bath, I happen to hear the following exchange:

Liam: "I want to get in the bath with you, Ella."
Ella: "No!"
Liam: "YES! I want to get in the bath RIGHT NOW!"
Ella: "No! I don't like your penis!"
Liam, very calmly and rationally: "Well, you don't have to look at it."

To which I couldn't help but laugh. You would have, too.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sandwich

Sometimes I wonder if my father hadn't died so early in my life - I was 6 - if I would be as acutely aware of my mother's mortality. The truth is, though, that even though my father's death did provoke a steady level of anxiety about Mom's health and eventual death (I think I held my breath on some level until my 18th birthday because I was very nervous about where I'd end up in the event that she died before I was of legal age), I was always hyperaware of my parents' age and the fact that some of my friends had grandparents who were the same age as my parents (it didn't help that my mother actually did come to grandparents' day at school one year, either).

What I'm getting at is that, even though I always knew it was inevitable, I'm living smack-dab in the middle of my own personal sandwich and finding some semblance of balance is more than a little tricky. I'm a stay-at-home Mom, and Josh is absolutely fabulous about being involved pretty much from the moment he walks the through the door at the end of the day, but Mom needs more and more consideration, for lack of a better word. She has enough nagging, nuisance health problems that can knock her out of commission at any given time - nothing that in and of itself is fatal or even life threatening, but issues that are constant and keep her functioning at less than 100%. And, really, at almost 77 years-old I'm not quite sure what "100%" would really mean. Lately, I've found myself describing it to others as "85% would be her 100%," but I might be being generous even with that.

Mom has Meniere's Disease, a condition of the inner ear that can cause her to lose her balance, have intense vertigo and nausea. Unfortunately, the attacks are random and increasing in severity as she ages. She can be confined to bed for up to a week or more when hit with symptoms - seriously, bending over to pick something up from the floor can land her in bed for days. Afterwards, it can take up to another week for her to really feel "normal." Her most recent attack, only a couple of weeks ago, brought her to tears (not the first time, but perhaps the most poignant) and made her realize that she shouldn't be living alone. Additionally, Mom suffers from intense postherpetic neuralgia following a nasty bout of shingles in late 2001/early 2002. She seems to have won the lottery for nuisance conditions, because this one really takes the cake when she has an attack. Rather than break out in another case of shingles, she develops severe pain on the left side of her head, radiating down her scalp and over her left eye. Again, another condition that can render her bed-ridden. Fortunately, these attacks seem to be brought on by stress, so she can try to prevent them but isn't always successful. The constant unknown of when another Meniere's attack will happen is something that provokes a great deal of constant anxiety for her and, coupled with the stressors of everyday life as the matriarch of a large family (some of which are greater than others - ranging from the death of a husband, two sons and a son-in-law to somewhat petty, though justified at the time, squabbles amongst us kids) and she can develop a case at any time. On top of all of this, Mom's got Type II diabetes, but really we don't worry all that much about this one. Her numbers aren't so out of whack that it requires major intervention but it is one more thing to always keep in mind.

We do have some health victories, too. This past January, Mom marked 5 years free of invasive breast cancer that, fortunately, did not require chemo or radiation following, her partial mastectomy (not that it wasn't recommended, she just refused both options). And, the fact that her diabetes is pretty much under control is a good thing.

So...Mom's constantly on my mind. Constantly. As J and I try to navigate the waters of preschool parenting (yes, still planning to homeschool but to also enroll the kids in activities this coming fall...dance, gymanstics and some sort of martial arts are high on the list right now), we (read: mostly me) are also trying to negotiate the path our lives should take as a family with the increasing demands of parenthood and parent care. Granted, I have other siblings who are not out of the picture when it comes to Mom's care, but it's more than a silent understanding among us that I am the one who'll be her primary caretaker.

Take today for instance, Mom had an appointment to have what she described as "a little something" removed from the side of her right breast. Well, turns out it was a rather large sebaceous cyst that required 8 stitches to close up and was "deeper and much larger" than even her surgeon realized upon first examination (Mom is a deeply private person, so, even though she understands the importance of maintaining good health, for her to even allow someone to look at "a little something" on her body is a Big Deal).

Late last night, Mom decided she didn't want to go to the appointment alone and asked me to take her. First stop: can J work from home? Nope. He had a meeting that he had to attend in person. Second stop: verify that Cait's working on Friday and therefore can't watch the kids. Yep, Cait's working and there's a special event at the store, so not able to call in. Third stop: see if my sister, N - the sibling who lives closest to me, and her kids are around and open to the idea of having L & E over. Success!

After a round of phone calls to figure out if I'd bring the kids to N's or she and the kids would come here (we settled on my bringing the kids to her house), the plan was set. She'd asked that I leave car seats when I dropped the kids off, so J dutifully removed the seats from his car. Fast forward ~ an hour later: J calls from work to relay that his meeting had been cancelled and he can come home to be with kids and work from home the rest of the day. Cue another flurry of phone calls to figure out what to do - ultimate decision was made to just have J come home and that Liam and Ella could play at N's another day.

Today went fine enough. The doctor removed all of the cyst and she didn't have too much discomfort. I picked up some groceries, visited for a while and got Mom settled comfortably before I left. Right now, everything's A OK. But, there'll be something else, more likely than not in the near future, and I need to figure out how to best be available to my family and Mom. Lately, J and I have been toying with the idea of moving, but we can't go too far because we're already 20 minutes away from Mom and, in the event of an emergency, getting to her could take anywhere from 30 to God-knows-how-long, depending on any number of factors.

Add to all of this the fact that, though J's parents are currently in central New York (a 5 hour trip), a few serious health scares over the past 5 or so years have really made their situation uncertain, too. And, we'll most likely end up being their caretakers, too.

So...how to find balance? How to make our own life, raising our children the way we like (we'd like to simplify our life - hence talk of moving, but that's an entirely different post), while simultaneously being available to Mom and J's parent (if/when needed)? I'm not complaining about this situation at all. Just trying to find my (our) way.

How do we build this ever-changing sandwich?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Then & Now


January 1, 2009



May 16, 2010

Congratulations!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cheers!

What a GORGEOUS day for a wedding! It was sunny and bright, not a cloud in the sky. The temperature was perfect and there was even a great (strong at times) breeze.

Cait and Jeeps were married Sunday and it was perfect. Of course, I cried walking down the aisle, and when they exchanged vows. My shoes could have been used as an implement of torture (true story: I ended up taking them off half way through the Mass because I was going to fall over in pain if I didn't), but my solo went off quite well and the reception was a VERY good time (I cried a LOT during my toast, but my waterproof mascara stayed in place!). Alas, I couldn't find my camera (because Cait had to take it away from Ella while we were getting ready and I had no clue where she put it) so I'm relying on others' photos but trust me when I say it was just beautiful.

All of her hard work paid off and I hope they enjoy their little get away to Maine.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Of Course...

...I think the promise of Super Mario Galaxy 2 when he fully trains might have something to do with it, but, again, I'm not complaining!

Finally, A Glimmer of Hope!

Liam pooped on the toilet tonight!

I was working out downstairs at the time, but apparently it was a bit of a surprise to him. He was, however, VERY proud of himself and is (hopefully) looking forward to future trips to the bathroom.

Of course, he has to pick the wedding weekend to decide it's a good time to use the toilet on a regular basis, but I'm not complaining.

Keep your fingers crossed that he keeps it up!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Just Wondering...

The kids, well Liam in particular, have been crazy into Super Mario Galaxy lately. So...the other day, while going through instant queue selections from Netflix, I came across the Super Mario Bros. Super Show (which is pretty AWFUL, btw, but Ella loves it) and added it to the queue for our Roku.

Now, I used to be a pretty good Super Mario Bros. player back in the day, but I got to thinking...

Was Mario's name Mario Mario? If they're the Mario brothers and his first name is Mario, doesn't it follow that their last name is Mario? So then was his brother Luigi Mario?

Surely I'm giving this too much thought.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Random Commentary on DWTS

I think Team Madonna didn't have a fair shot at winning or tying the Cha-Cha-Challenge last night on DWTS. For starters, the song wasn't nearly as good to dance to as Team GaGa's. I do think Team Madonna worked together more as a team, though, and had a decent showing.

My prediction is that Pam or Niecy goes tonight.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Fortune Cookie Saying, Perhaps?

I put the title of the last post into translate.google.com and it came out as this...

Without reflecting on life is not worth living people


Saturday, May 1, 2010

沒有經過反省的人生,是不值得活的人

  • I have no idea what, if anything, the title of this post means, but the Chinese spammers are really beginning to bug me!
  • I picked up my shoes for the wedding tonight. They had to be dyed and, even though the color in the book matched my shrug EXACTLY, they came out a little more on the rose side than the cranberry side. They'll have to do, I suppose.
  • We did nearly three (3!) hours of yard work today, all of it in the back yard. Our neighbor told us that we apparently had an over 8-foot tall female moose in our back yard this morning! That's just crazy.
  • It feels good to have been outside and so productive. There's more to be done, but the yard's looking good.
  • I've been in a bit of a funk lately and I can't seem to shake it. I don't really know where it's coming from, either, and that bothers me. Ah, well.
  • T-minus 2 weeks until the wedding! I hope it's a beautiful day, but I'm fairly certain that I'm the not only one who will be relieved when it's over.
  • I think that I may have hit upon THE motivational tool for finally getting the boy child to fully potty train: tootsie rolls! He tried one the other day and LOVED it. Chocolate chips didn't work, m n ms didn't work, but I think (fingers crossed!) that tootsie rolls may do the trick. There's no real reason for him not to be trained. He admits it's pretty much sheer laziness and that the pull-ups are just "easier" than using the bathroom, but he REALLY loves those tootsie rolls and I'm hoping I've hit on potty training gold.
  • I'm trying to convince J that we need a new bed. I can't get comfortable in bed anymore and I wake up every morning with lower back pain. Our bed's 11 years old and in decent shape, but it's just not possible for me to get a good night's sleep anymore. J could sleep well on a bed of nails, and I admit that I can be a bit Princess and the Pea about my sleeping accommodations (must have fan for while noise and really, really can't tolerate the slightest bit of light creeping in), but something needs to be done and, hopefully, soon.
  • I'm having my hair cut Tuesday night and I can't wait. It's still short, but my bangs are rapidly getting out of control and, although the cut has held its shape well (my last cut was at the end of January and I went pretty short because my stylist was going out on maternity leave), I definitely need to clean it up.
  • I'm feeling the need to be creative. I think I may try to go back to the quilt studio. I used to go on a regular basis before the kids were born, but I've only managed to make it in there once in the last 4 years. I'm hoping to work something out with Mom where she'll watch the kids on a Thursday so I can go during the day. The studio is quite popular and it can be difficult to get a machine if you go in the evenings. I really miss quilting and am hoping that, if I make time for it regularly outside of home, then I'll be able to find a place for it at home, too. I have the physical space, but I need to find the time and emotional room for it at home. There's so much I want to do! I just need 20 of me to do it all...

Monday, April 26, 2010

Something New Leads to Brand Loyalty

I've always enjoyed Sun Chips, but I've never really gone out of my way to purchase them. Back when I was in school and, later, when I worked at the library, I would grab a bag from the vending machine when the mid-afternoon munchies hit because they were they best option in the machine.

After church yesterday, I hit the grocery store to pick up a few things and I saw the chips, in their new 100% compostable bag and I decided to grab a couple different flavors.

The bags are crazy loud, but the chips are delicious, good for you, and the packaging helps the planet (and the kids loved them, bonus!).

Now, I will definitely make it a point to purchase the chips to have on hand as a snack for my family.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day Play (& New Shoes, Too!)

During our walk last night, I promised the kids that we could go to the playground at the North End of town today if the weather was good. The weather cooperated, so I stuck to my word and we had a marathon session at the playground. There were a few sets of kids over the couple of hours that we were there and they were all fun to play with and the other mothers and I enjoyed talking (I'm still new-ish to negotiating parental playground etiquette). Towards the end of our play time, I noticed a man and young girl on the perimeter of the playground and park area, cleaning up. I thanked him to all of his hard work (he had several bags full of junk that had accumulated over the winter months) and it turns out that every year, on Earth Day, he takes his daughter to clean up the park and playground so that everyone can enjoy a clean place to play. How cool is that?! I thought that was just awesome...and what a fabulous for his daughter!

After our visit to the playground, I brought the kids up to the outlet mall in Tilton to check out some new shoes. Ella wore an older pair of shoes last night while we were out and ended up getting a couple of blisters (even though she swore that her feet "felt great" whenever I asked her how she was doing). Imagine how much of a schmucky mother I felt like when I found out that her feet were a full TWO SIZES larger than the sneakers she wore into the store (note: those are not the shoes she was wearing last night; for the record, we'd never had a problem getting her sneakers on and she'd never complained about the fit). Now, she and Liam are sporting some snazzy new sneaks that even glow in the dark that they were very excited to show off to Nana after we visited the shoe store.

Tonight, even though we'd had a good run around the playground for 2+ hours, I did a half hour of upper body weight training on my stability ball and then did a 2 mile Leslie DVD for the lower body. I feel very good.

More Bullet Points

  • Went out for a long family walk with the kids tonight, including visits to two different playgrounds. Ella completely inserted herself into a group of older girls at the first playground we went to. It was very interesting and cute to watch. The girls totally let her in and she ran around and played with them, and was very bummed when it came time for them to leave.
  • I'm loving how wiped out the kids are from playing outside...it makes for fabulous, restful sleep for them!
  • I'm thrilled, THRILLED that Kate is finally gone from DWTS. Yeah, yeah, yeah...she was making infinitesimal progress on the dance floor, but her being a contestant was a joke!
  • Cait, Ella and I went to our hair stylist last night to have our hair played with for the wedding. Oh my, did Miss Ella love it! She was so. damn. cute. I, on the other hand, have hair too short to be played with and will have to settle for flat ironing on the Big Day. *sigh*
  • The kids' birthday party went quite well on Sunday. I'm still pretty tired from the lack of sleep leading up to the day...my late nights are catching up with me, but I never learn. The perils of being a night owl. I was literally functioning on 3 hours and 15 minutes of sleep for all of Sunday, but it all went well. The sun even came out for a bit and Liam enjoyed walking his grandparents' dog several times (the highlight of the day for him, I'm sure).
  • Last Friday, Mom and I took the kids to Funspot for the first time ever. I was a little concerned about the trip, but it went very well. I'm not huge on the whole indoor arcade thing, but the place was totally dead and L & E stuck to the little kids' area, which was awesome. Again, I LOVE AGE 4! Funspot plays a pivotal role in some happy childhood memories for me, but that's before the place expanded and became ginormous. Still, though, it was a hoot to see the kids riding on the same little bumper cars that I used to ride when I was a kid. Ahhhh, memories.
  • This week is draaaaaaaaaging. Just sayin'.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Catching My Breath

Boy...you guys aren't really keeping me honest!

Actually, someone has been on my case for not blogging regularly...so here I am :)

Life has been going at a pretty breakneck pace lately, but it has also been filled with Leslie workouts and lots of outdoor play and yard work, so I've been doing a pretty good job of keeping my word when it comes to getting at least 30 minutes of exercise everyday.

I've had two Pampered Chef shows in the past week and they were both good fun. One was for a friend of mine and the other was for my sister. Next month is our fundraiser for the American Cancer Society with our Help Whip Cancer campaign and I'm hoping to book a few more shows. It's a cause very close to my heart, since Mom's a breast cancer survivor.

Liam and Ella turned 4 last Friday and we didn't get to the Childrens' Museum, as I'd hoped, but we had a nice, relaxing day together as a family. We went out to lunch and Mom joined us, as a surprise to the kids; then we had a nice time visiting with Cait and Jeeps during the evening. I can't believe my monkeys are 4...where have my babies gone?! I will say, though, that what I've heard about Age 4 is true. It is SO MUCH BETTER than Age 3! We started to notice it early last week, as their birthday drew near, and have definitely seen a difference this week. Sure, they're still crazy bugs at some points, but I love Age 4! By this time last year, I was already none too happy with Age 3...funny that.

The kids' birthday party is this Sunday and I'm more than a little annoyed that I listened to a certain sister of mine who was a stress case months ago that I couldn't have the party on the Sunday after their birthday (which would have been last Sunday, when the weather was nice) because it would interfere with her plans for her birthday (which was last Monday). That sister and I are currently not speaking, but I went ahead and accommodated her and didn't plan the party for last Sunday and now I'm kicking myself because it's going to be rainy and dreary this Sunday. *grumble*grumble* I've been busy trying to clean and organize for the party and, since it looks like we'll be stuck inside, I really need to get on that some more. We did buy a new grill last night - it's so cute! - so I still may send J out to grill on Sunday, but other than that, I've got a bunch of stuff to do.

I bought a new Leslie DVD which I can't wait to try out. It's a 5-mile total workout, but you can break it down into 1-mile segments. Being a "go big or go home" kind of chick, though, I plan to do all 5 miles whenever I do it. It's my second 5-mile Leslie DVD and I really enjoy the other one, so I'm hoping this one is just as good. When I have the time, I want to go through the various workouts available On Demand and see what's there.

Now...I must find chocolate. I think it's time to make brownies on this cold, rainy, cruddy day.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Rediscovering

Whew! This week is half over and that's pretty fabulous. Tonight, I had dinner out with Friend Katie (which is what the kids, especially Ella, call her and I think it's an awesome nickname) and her mother. Her mom's going to be hosting a Pampered Chef show so we all got together to talk about it and plan for the show. We had a lovely dinner and visit and I'm very excited about the upcoming show.

Since I knew I was going to be home close to bedtime, I had to wait for the kids to be totally asleep before I could workout (if they'd heard me come home, there would have been serious demands for snuggling and then I most likely would have fallen asleep and not gotten out of there in time). So I was planning for tonight to be a shorter workout than I've been doing lately. I chose another Leslie DVD, Walk Strong. I haven't done it in a while and I forgot exactly what it entailed. It's a fast paced walk with intervals of strength training done with a resistance band. I boosted it by using a medium resistance band and then shortening it to really ramp up the level of resistance. I really like this workout.

By the way, someone needs to send a memo to Mother Nature. It's early April in New Hampshire and it's way too warm and humid already. Ugh!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Thunderstorms Are Brewing

What on earth made Kate Gosselin think she could be on Dancing With the Stars? I'm watching last night's episode on DVR and she is beyond awful. She better go next week! Poor Tony. Also, I'm not too thrilled with Brooke Burke as a co-host. Then again, I never liked Samantha Harris, either.

Today I was able to get outside for a bit before it started to rain and did an hour of yardwork. That's my workout for the day; the fresh air was great and I wanted to change up what I'm doing physically.

I don't know what's up lately, but the kids have been c-r-a-z-y. I'm hoping it's just that they're excited for their birthday, which is Friday. J's taking the day off and we're going to do what we do every year, which is spend the day together as a family and do something special and new. I'd like to go out for a nice birthday breakfast and then I'm thinking we might go to the Children's Museum of New Hampshire. We've not been and I think it'd make for a nice day.

Now...I just need to survive the next two days with my insane little monkeys.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Combo

It was already shaping up to be a hectic week, but last night's little drama with my sister just added to the insanity that will be. But, it all culminates in the Muffins' birthday on Friday, which is most definitely a good thing (though where is the time going?! 4 years already?! Where are my babies?)

It was a pretty ugh kind of day. Liam was a little maniac when I ventured to Lowe's to get some stuff to do yard work (yep, I was that mother with the crazy screaming, fit-throwing kid) and, prior to that, Liam and Ella spent a better part of the morning and early afternoon trying to kill each other. It was just one of those days.

Tonight, I decided to switch up the workouts for a little change of pace. I combined two DVDs: Biggest Loser Cardio Max*, which I did the warm-up and first segment of (which kind of makes me believe that Bob Harper might be a little evil, but it's a good 20 minute sweat fest) and then I did Leslie's Walk Off Even More Weight, which has 2 2-mile walks. I did the classic walk with the weight belt, and boosted it with the weighted gloves, too.

Now that all's said and done, I'm a sweaty stinky mess and am going to go take a shower.

*I like the intensity of the BL workouts, because Bob and Jillian are fabulous trainers (Kim's on the Cardio Max, too), but the DVDs are a bit chaotic and leave something to be desired. Yes, it's nice and, to some extent, inspiring that they use previous contestants in the workouts, but they definitely lack finesse and there are times when they're literally going in different directions - I guess it seems a bit cheesy at times.

Fail

We had a lovely Easter and then all hell broke loose this evening with some epic family drama (not within my nuclear family unit, with one of my sisters - all is seemingly OK now, so don't worry).

I wasn't able to workout tonight and I really, really needed it.

Suck.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Almost, But Not Quite, A Puker

My car needed a little servicing this morning, so J and the kids followed me down to Manchester and then we went out to lunch at one of our favorite places. I ran a few more errands (the Easter Bunny had to pick up a few last items at the best candy store around) and then came home to workout before heading to Easter Vigil Mass tonight (Cait and JP are coming into the church tonight and it's very exciting).

Apparently, my lunch was heavier than I thought. Today's workout was another Leslie DVD, Walk Away Your Hips and Thighs, which is a 2 mile walk with stretching and a 20 minute lower-body workout with resistance bands around your ankles. I made it through the walk and stretching just fine, but something in the lower body workout nearly did me in. I made it through, but came this close to losing my lunch.

Phew!

Tonight's Mass should be beautiful. Easter Vigil always begins in darkness and then everyone lights a candle...it's quite a magical sight. Once I get home, it'll be a mad dash to prep for tomorrow. Eggs to stuff, baskets to make up, a guest room to clean (because Cait and Jeeps asked to sleep over at the last minute), and food to make for tomorrow.

Have a very Happy Easter!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Another Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Today was spent mostly outside again. I even have a little v-neck shaped sunburn (since I never tan and am the palest person I know). We ended up going to the biggest park/playground in Concord with Jeeps' family, where the kids had a blast. Then, all of the kids played here while I was quasi domestic. I need to wade through my clothing and dig out my warm weather stuff. Not really something I look forward to.

Tonight's workout was another Leslie Sansone DVD. I really love her stuff and own quite a few of her DVDs so you'll most likely be seeing her titles a lot when I workout at home. So
I did the Punch Up Your Walk 4 mile walk with weighted gloves and boosted with the weighted belt, too.

It's going to be a busy, busy weekend, but I'm on a roll and intend to keep it up.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

This Is Just Too Funny...And Awesome

Let The Sun Shine In!

Today was gorgeous! We spent all afternoon outside playing and the kids and I went for a walk, too. Jeeps' brother and sister-in-law and their kids came up for the weekend to visit the 'rents (who live across the street). Liam and Ella adore the kids, so it was a great afternoon of playing and getting some much needed fresh air.

Tonight brought an unplanned trip to the gym. Mom's sick and asked me to pick up a prescription for her so I used it as a reason to head up to the gym, although my plan had been to workout at home. Generally, I try to avoid going to the gym on Thursday nights because the TVs are unavoidable and J and I DVR Survivor to watch after the kids are in bed. Needless to say, I know who gets voted off and I'm psyched about it (but J and I still need to watch the entire episode and I'm doing a fantastic job of not spilling the beans about the vote).

So...tonight I did 25 minutes on the arc trainer, my absolute favorite machine at the gym, and 25 more on the elliptical. Not too shabby. I cranked up the resistance on the arc and I did a cross training program on the elliptical, so I'm definitely feeling my workout.

I stopped by Mom's on my way home, gave her her medication and visited for a bit. Now, I'm relaxing with J and getting ready to settle in to watch Survivor.

A good day indeed.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Accountability

I'm going to do something new. Note that I didn't say "try." I'm totally going Yoda on this.

It's no secret that I love working out. With the damn pneumonia and bilateral ear infections of the past month, it should be painfully obvious that I haven't been working out steadily for quite a while. And it has sucked.

Now that the crazy winter of illness is hopefully (fingers so crossed!) behind us, I am vowing to workout EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I headed back into the gym last week for a few days and it felt great, but I slacked off over the weekend. Part of the logic in refinishing the basement last summer was so that I'd have a great workout space here at home, too. So I have no excuse for not working out. Fortunately, J found just the right way to guilt/persuade me that, even though it was after 9 pm, I could still squeeze a workout in tonight. I came up with this accountability plan while I was sweating in the basement. The irony is that I need to workout the most when I feel least like doing it.

So, with you as my witnesses, I am pledging to do something every day. It's not always going to be a killer weight and cardio sweatfest at the gym, but I will do something for at least 30 minutes every day. And you must hold me accountable. I will post every day what I've done and, if I don't, you have my full permission to harass me...on here, on facebook, in real life, via text...seriously, any way you can think of to kick my ass into gear.

OK? OK.

So...tonight I did Leslie Sansone's Walk Away The Pounds Express 3 mile workout, boosted with a weight belt, weighted gloves and a medium resistance stretchie band.

It felt great.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

We're All Unique In Some Way, Right?

This winter has been a sucky one in terms of getting sick. The kids have only had a couple of minor colds, but since November, I've been battling my typical sore throat/sinus infection/bronchitis trifecta off and on every few weeks. I'd be sick for a couple of weeks and then feel alright for a few more and then get hit again. I know me and I know my body. Usually, I ride it out unless it gets unbearable. (And, you know, I'm a tough chick so "unbearable" means "pretty effing ridiculous and intolerable.")

Needless to say, I've been riding it out. I don't remember if I've blogged about this before or not, but I'm a bit of a "sickness eater." There was this movie a while back (yeah, now I think I've mentioned this before but I'm going to be lazy and not go back and find the link...sorry) in which a character offers absolution to a dying person by eating his/her sins, clearing the path to Heaven. Ever since I saw that movie, I've joked that I'm a sickness eater. I catch pretty much everything that's going around at any given time. Working out has been a major boost to my immune system, but I still get hit. Rarely, though, do I go to the doctor. I just suffer and wait. Usually, I'm down for 10-14 days and then I'm good as new. Now, the really weird part is that no one, I mean NO ONE, has ever gotten sick from me. In over 13 years of marriage, J has never once gotten sick from me. Sure, we've been sick with the same thing at the same time, but invariably he contracted it first. Throughout my entire life this is how it's worked for some odd reason. No one gets sick from me and I always get sick in the same way. I get a sore throat for 2-3 days, then I develop a sinus infection (I have sinus disease which sounds way worse than it is...basically, I have impacted sinuses so when I come down with something my sinuses get hit hard because there's always something going on up there), and, lastly, I develop bronchitis. This is how it's been ever since I can remember. The severity of the sore throats lessened after I had my tonsils out when I was in 8th grade, but still, that's how my body rolls with sickness. There's not much to do about it other than wait it out.

The last time I went to the doctor for being sick like this, I was 5 months pregnant and was beyond wrecked. Pregnancy complicates illness anyway, and I was crazy sick (I had to sleep sitting up for a long time and ended up moving down to the couch because there was no position in bed that worked for me...I stayed on the couch for the rest of the pregnancy and beyond). I've been sick now for over two weeks. Liam came down with it first and kindly shared with the rest of us, including Cait and Jeeps. I, of course, was hit the hardest. The kids must have killer immune systems because they were only out of it for a couple of days. J was hit a little harder and had one bad night of the chills and sweats. I thought I was getting better and then BOOM! It rebounded on me on Thursday. It hit me like a damn Mack truck and I finally relented and went to walk-in care today. Well...drum roll, please...I think I've been battling the same thing all winter, with it getting progressively worse over the months. Now, I have an ear infection and pneumonia on top of my usual (well, OK, substitute pneumonia for my usual bronchitis). (This on top of having my wisdom teeth removed on Monday - it's been quite the week!) The doctor, for his part, doesn't want to ever hear about how the pathology of my illness is always the same, nor does he care one whit that I'm never contagious...what the hell do I know? I've only been living in this body for nearly 35 (!) years. He just writes the scripts and tells me not to wait so long next time. Yeah, well, I don't really have time to be sick, sir. It doesn't usually turn into pneumonia.

*coughcough*. So...that's me, in the corner, curled up in a ball attempting to breathe without hacking up a lung and trying not be too doped up on my cough medication.

How are you?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My Bullet-Pointed Life

  • I switched the home location for my gym from Concord to Belmont. Ever since I switched gyms altogether last August, I've not been as thrilled with the new one. I loved working out at Gold's, but the owner was crazy and it was mighty expensive. Over the past couple of years, I've been lucky enough to work with some great trainers; I know my way around, feel confident in what I'm doing, and really, really love working out. So...when I wasn't as happy with the new gym, my motivation kind of went south. Now, though, I am loving my choice to switch. It's further away, but it's so worth it. I'm actually really enjoying the longer drive, because it's pretty much the only time I get to myself.
  • My nephew ended up back in the hospital late last week. His vision was beginning to go and he was directed to head back to Boston for immediate care. Fortunately, they were able to save his vision, but they've had to treat the Susac's more aggressively and it was a disheartening setback for my sister and nephew. Hopefully, the new regimen works better.
  • Cait and Jeeps have set their wedding date for May 16th. Originally, they were getting married on October 16th, but there's a chance that he may be deployed so the date's been moved up. It's a good thing that I've found my workout mojo again because this matron-of-honor needs to kick her butt into shape!
  • I hate the end of winter. We were supposed to get hit with a big storm today and though parts of New Hampshire did, all we got was rain. Boo! I love winter, but when we get to this time of year where everything is just grey and dirty and gross I just want to jump into nice spring weather (but don't get me wrong...fall and winter are BY FAR my favorite seasons; I am not a fan of the warmth). I don't like the yuck limbo that we're dealing with right now. In theory, we're getting another storm tomorrow. I'll keep my fingers crossed for one more big blast of snow before we're in the dregs of March.
  • It's shaping up to be a crazy Spring. I'm throwing Cait's shower, Easter, the kids' 4th birthday (and, of course, the party) and then the wedding. The next few months will most definitely be a whirlwind.
  • Back in November, I caught a rerun of an episode of Bones one afternoon at the gym. I decided that we should get it through netflix. We are so addicted! It used to be that we would sit on our netflix DVDs forEVER, but not anymore! We're going through nearly 2 discs a week and are nearly finished with the second season. I love the relationship between Bones and Booth.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Random Commentary On A Grammy Performance

I think Taylor Swift is cute and all, but I don't think she's all that great live.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Help

The earthquake in Haiti is beyond tragic.

Click on any organization's name to donate to:

Go. Help. Now!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Dx

My nephew was transferred from Vermont to Mass General late Wednesday night. After extensive testing that lasted all day yesterday, they've finally arrived at a diagnosis. Thankfully, they were able to make the diagnosis without having the perform the double brain biopsy which they'd been planning.

My nephew's undergoing heavy immuno-suppressant therapy to combat the symptoms, but at least his condition is not fatal. The extent of his recovery remains to be seen.

Thank you for your prayers and good wishes.

Am I Sexist?

I used my new GPS the other night (and totally loved it!). As I was heading out, though, it dawned on me very quickly that, although the female voice giving me directions was quite polite, I prefer taking directions from a man. (Really, this is ironic, because I am most definitely the alpha and, in terms of going anywhere, I'm the one in charge. J hates to drive...maybe that's why the preference for a male voice since he's usually my navigator?)

When I got home J and I went through the voice options and we found a lovely male voice with a British accent that I'll be more than happy to have direct me.

ps - The friction mount is awesome!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Five Years!

Today marks Mom's 5th anniversary of being cancer-free. I'm so proud to be her daughter. Below is a letter to the editor of a small local paper written by a member of Mom's choir and published on Christmas Eve. It captures perfectly how amazing Mom truly is and how lucky we are to have her.

*************

To the Editor:

Sometimes when we live among legends it is difficult to identify with their greatness. Legends capture our admiration, our respect, our faith, and our love. But when we see them week to week and share the common threads that are the odyssey of life, the joy of good fortune and new life, the despair of family tragedy and just plain bad luck, the presence of greatness is easily overlooked.

For decades the faith community in the Lakes Region and beyond, in particular St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Tilton, has been blessed with a powerful force of good transcended in the form of music. It exists through the continued development of a wonderful talent for piano and pipe organ, a feel for timing and mood, and an unwavering passion for the ministry of music.

There is one among us who has been there time and again all around the region providing the comfort of music at some of the most important times in people’s lives, has prodded and encouraged and rallied the troops, and helped build confidence in all who love to sing
and make music but are hindered by self-consciousness. And has set an awesome example through a strong sense of faith and dedication to her community. Rejoice, for there is a living legend among us: our very own Nancy Walker.

Kent Finemore
Northfield

Monday, January 4, 2010

Prayers Needed

My nephew is very sick. They still don't know what's going on and he's deteriorating quickly.

Please pray.

Thank you.

You Know You're From New England When...

... you step outside and 26* feels balmy. And, really, in January it is.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Before & After

The Kitchen Before:



And the AMAZING After!





Don't you just love it?!