Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Knitters in The House

The White House, that is. This is a photo of FDR and Eleanor as newlyweds. I love historic photos, and it was fun to see a former president picking up the sticks.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hands Are Not For Hurting

Tonight after I made a yum-o dinner of sauteed brocolli and carrots tossed in whole wheat pasta, olive oil and parmesan cheese with a side of whole wheat breadsticks that I made my own little self (I! know! Carbs with a side of carbs; the best kind of dinner) I transferred wallet, gloss, cell and palm from diaper bag to purse and got ready to jet out the door. Only to realize my meeting didn't start for another hour and a half. Why was I so antsy to get out the door?

As I started to calculate, I realized that I had not left the house without both children in tow since the evening of MAY TWELFTH, when I left them with a baby-sitter after putting them to bed, so you never feel like you can stay out as long as when your spouse is home. Yes, that is almost two solid weeks of having children soldered to my person. No wonder I was ready to get the heck out of dodge!

I buzzed by the post office to drop the invites for Charlie's first birthday party next week and the birthday gift for my sister...whose birthday was March 6th. Yes, I'm wicked lame. On to CVS to brood over Golden or Double Stuffed? Cakesters or Double Stuffed? Obligitory package of cookies for the meeting purchased I had run out of errands and decided to just sit in the lobby of the meeting site and work on a pair of socks.

Oh, did I mention that we meet at a nursing home? With an alzheimer unit? I felt like I fit right in, knitting my socks and rockin' the "Baby, Baby" and "El Shaddai" (which, coincidentally my mother has made known she must have played at her funeral...whatev'.)

It was about halfway through the album as I was singing along (in my head) that I wondered why I knew all the words so well. Oh yeah! It's because my older sister went through a freaky sign language phase where she and one of her girlfriends would translate killer songs like Richard Marx' Hold On To The Night (with tres dramatic hand gestures, naturellement) and an equally cool Amy Grant song. Because you have to play snippets of the song over, and over, and over, ahahahahand over again in order to get the 'choreography' right, we all got to Hold On a little longer. She even performed them as a 'talent'. Probably in her Wham! shirt.

Kind of like when you'd get the tape that didn't have the lyrics printed inside so you'd hit play, pause (scribble), rewind a little; repeat as necessary.

I called Sherri from the old folks' home to remind her of this phase in her life, but had to be content with leaving a message. When I called back later, she said she was ignoring it. Whatev'. And this is the same sister who chided me for learning German in college because it "wasn't applicable." Yeah, because non-deaf people use sign language to talk to each other all the time! Guess Baby A will have a jump start on "All Done!" and "More" because Mommy used to be in Happy Hands.

If you're not laughing, I guess it's just an in-joke. Or you just need to get a sense of humor.

Jon and Kate Plus Hate

Last night, I salaciously tuned into the Season 5 opener of Jon and Kate Plus 8 on TLC. While I'd occasionally watched the show before, I never could watch an entire season just because I'm not great lately at following weekly shows. With the current tabloid frenzy over the did he/she or didn't they, I couldn't resist.

I shudder to think what people would say about me were cameras in my home to capture all my parenting moments from the fab to the flubs, but you'll note that the airwaves are void of the hit show J and Sally Plus 2, so I felt relative comfort in my urge to judge.

I expected a great show full of juicy stuff to blog about, but turns out; it was just sad. When it's a real couple, divorce is just not entertaining. We're not talking about Jerry Springer quality foibles; just a couple who've had five (well, really, almost ten counting the twins but two kids is not eight) looooong years of raising two sets of multiples.
The episode was centered around the sextuplets fifth birthday. Kate, as usual, treated Jon like a ninth child which had always really made me angry before. Unfortunately, this time it came hot on the heels of me wanting to crawl out of my skin because J was doing the kids' bath and bed routine...and he failed to do it in my order! Hmmm...multiply that annoyance by 4, and add in an even more type-A personality and I'm not so far from Kate after all.
I remember once when I was getting ready to go somewhere and I was, in detail, telling J the kids' routine. He said to me "Why don't you just type up a little folio like you would for a baby-sitter?" Totally missing the sarcasm, I brightly said "Okay!" Forgetting that each parent has their own style is just too easy.
Kate has been on the road a lot lately due to book tours and speaking engagements, which led to Jon quitting his job to stay at home with the kids full-time about two years ago. As he said in the show last night, he feels like choices were made for him. Kate has made statements that make it obvious that she feels guilt about being gone so much, which I'm sure is exacerbated by her perfectionist tendencies when she knows that things are being done just so.
She made the best statement last night that I think all working moms, or moms in general really, should take to heart; Are my kids happy, healthy, safe and loved? If all four of those are a yes, then things are good (not a direct quote, but just how I can remember her saying it.)
For a long time, Kate has sat in the love seat clutching the side away from Jon as if mass destruction would result from her falling into the center and touching him, so the tension in their marriage has obviously been a-brewin'.
Back to the crux, though. I remember watching last night and thinking...Five. Five! They'll be in Kindergarten this year, or maybe next depending on how their birthdays fall. That means half or full-days with ALL EIGHT children in school.
Surely they've got royalty money and other savings that would allow them to just use the first year to take care of themselves? I set out to write a biting post, but really it was just too sad to see these two people in such a bad place. I hope that they can seek private counseling or whatever will help take them back (or forward, since you can't really ever go back) to a place where they can love and appreciate each other. Most likely this will not happen while they are being filmed in their home. I hope that some exec at TLC sees that they're marriage is more important than ratings and they don't offer the family a Sixth Season after they fulfill their contractually obligated fifth.
One thing, though. I swear that if that smarmy-ass Dr. Phil comes onto their show to have an even more public three-ring circus of a therapy session, I will boycott TLC. Sadly, I know I'm helping to fuel the dilemma of ratings, as I'll be tuning in for sure this season. Who can turn their eyes away from a 10 person pile-up? Especially when eight of them are children?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Salem Falls Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
I really enjoyed this book. I've read several Jodi Picoult books, and my favorites have been Nineteen Minutes, Salem Falls, Harvesting the Heart and My Sister's Keeper.

I had read Nineteen Minutes as my first intro to Ms. Picoult, so was excited to see the return (or origination of) Jordan McCafferty and Selena.

In this book Jack is a Columbia educated History PhD who was teaching and coaching soccer at an all-girls prep school when he's falsely accused of having a sexual relationship with one of his players after her father finds a diary full of sexually explicit entries featuring Jack, and a package of birth control pills. Excited by the idea that they could be true, she quickly falls into the role of victim, and it's too late to turn back.

The book opens as Jack is released from his eight-month jail sentence and vows to start over again. When he reaches the sleepy town of Salem Falls, things fall into place for him, and he tried to do everything right, including notifying the Detective of his residence in accordance with his obligation to report as a sex offender.

From there, word spreads and a modern-day witch hunt ensues. Throw in four teen-aged Wiccan girls, and the half-truths, mis-representations and false accusations build. It was really interesting to me to see how easily a false allegation can get out of control, but I thought she also did a very good job of not minimalizing the trauma or rape, or of making it sound like there were a large percentage of allegations that ended up being false.


There was one relationship dynamic which was really not addressed that I picked up on right away (between Gilly and her father, Pharmaceutical giant Amos Duncan). I don't know if it's because of my former job, or if there was just some really obvious foreshadowing, but I was a little disappointed that the "could be a relative" DNA issue wasn't picked up on by the defense attorney, the DA's office or any of the law enforcement. I know that in that line of work, we're all cynical enough to explore that angle if things don't fit. I don't like including spoilers in my review, but I had to include this because I kept waiting for that to be the answer of the missing DNA link, and it never happened. The "dynamic" (Read: ABUSE) isn't out-right identified until the last line of the book, so all you cheaters who like to read the last page or last chapter first, you'll already know.

View all my reviews.

Hey! That's My Trike!

There's a Facebook group dedicated to a cyclist in Boston. Tri-cyclist Louie Evans to be exact. He rides his trike all around Boston and you can hear him coming from a ways away...why? Because he's constantly yelling. There's speculation that he's saying "move" or just making a siren noise to warn others that he won't be stopping.

In late 2006, his trike got stolen and a group of college students and a bike store got together a benefit called "Hey! That's My Trike!" (a cover of Ethan Hawke's band Hey, that's my bike! in Reality Bites?) in order to replace his trike so he could keep on truckin'.

(In the first video, the poster said that the 'shooter' is Louie's room-mate)

And here's an article from The Boston Globe about the fundraiser, and Louie with comments by members of the community:

Local cyclist Mike Lewis, reflecting as he stopped by the bike shop on a recent afternoon, said even his headphones could not drown out the warning cry of the iconic tricyclist as he was walking on Newbury Street last month.
"All of the sudden, I saw a pair of orange flags sticking out over the heads of the people walking and everybody kind of leaning back and getting out of the way, and here he comes," he said. "It makes you smile and it makes you laugh, because it's Louie."

Who says cities are cold, impersonal places?

Friday, May 22, 2009

In Memorium

Today we were at Stop-n-Shop picking up a few things for dinner and our produce for the week and, upon exiting, I saw an elderly VFW member handing out the paper poppies I remember getting in grade school when our neighbor (and VFW member) Jim Kauffman used to visit our classroom prior to Memorial Day weekend.

This man saw me with my two boys in the cart, heading back to the car and asked if they'd gotten their flower yet. I politely declined for Charlie, as he'd just choke on it, but said that H would love one. I slipped my donation into the plastic canister and H palmed his flower as the man explained that they were made by wounded soldiers at the VA Hospitals. Almost as an afterthought, he said "Our country doesn't ever really learn from our past. These little boys you've got here...someday they'll grow up..." he didn't have to finish the sentence.

I thanked him for the flower and for his service to our country and headed out into the sticky New England heat. While the comment made a bit of a lump in the pit of my stomach, the flower and what it symbolizes were a great opportunity for me to give a basic explanation of Memorial Day to H, and to remember for myself that it's not just bar-b-ques and beaches.

I hope you'll take the time to thank someone in the Armed Forces, no matter your politics, as you enjoy the extra day of R and R the weekend.
In Flander's Field
by Col. John McCrae
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow,
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky,
The larks, still bravely singing, fly,
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved and now we lie,
In Flanders Fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw,
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us, who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow,
In Flanders Fields.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Toys For Your Tots

If you've ever wandered up and down, up and down, and up and down the toy aisles again at Target or other department stores, you know what I mean when I talk about the agony that is selection. Considering everything from age-approriateness (is 3+ really okay for a 2 year old, or too boring for a 5 year old?) to whether or not it will foster development, it's a jungle out there

There are tons of books and websites out there to help you on your way, but the most foolproof ones I've found are The Baby Gizmo (which I've posted about before) and Ebeanstalk.

Ebeanstalk is dedicated to a baby's development. And we select the best baby toys matched to a baby's development. To see great information on how a baby grows up, check out the info on our baby toys page.

Because I've got a slew of showers, new babies and, of course, C's first birthday, I thought I'd post some pointers found on their site.

Picking toys for a baby is not as simple as it sounds. Here are some quick baby facts:

  • Toys for a newborn baby: A newborn baby is briefly looking at objects and attempting to imitate facial expressions. They can follow objects with their eyes and usually quiet down, when they are picked up.

  • Toys for a three month old: They will enjoy ‘frolic play', reaching for objects and will repeat enjoyable activities. Believe it or not, they will respond to ‘no' (about half the time) and will start babbling.

  • Toys for a six month old: They'll search for hidden objects (object permanence). They'll reach for themselves in the mirror, play peekaboo, crumple paper, roll from their stomach to their back and even respond to their name.

  • Toys for a nine month old: They are pushing toy cars, playing pat-a-cake and looking for hidden sounds. The baby toys they are playing with are also getting more fun.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Oh, No You Di-ahn't!

Today I got the following email from my pals at "As someone who has shown an interest in "Twilight"-related items, you might be interested in our Amazon-exclusive "Twilight" limited-edition trading card set. Quantities are limited, so pre-order your set today!"

Not only are there playing cards, but you can order your very own music box that plays "Bella's Lullaby"...OMG are you FKM?! (I think I made up FKM, but it may actually be an acronym already in existence to mean just what I wanted it to...use your imaginations...)

I'm so glad that Amazon is able to discern between the late-twenties women who just want to enjoy their first fantasy/vampire series even though they know it's written for tweens and have to broach the topic tentatively with other moms at the playground in case they are seen as pervy or silly for liking them and freaks that would order playing cards and music boxes inspired by said tomes!

Seriously. Maybe I should return my Megan McCafferty books to the library? I think I'm being profiled for my literature selections of late. I may have walked around NYC muttering quotes from SATC at every turn when a real-life image brought them to mind, but I don't wear a replica of Carrie's horseshoe necklaces, so I sure as heck will not be wearing an 'Edward's Wristcuff' replica either!
Unlike the time I went crimson after baggin on (pun intended) the New England phenomenon that is Vera Bradley to a friend that, unbeknownst to me, owned several I will not hesitate to mock you endlessly if you purchase any above-mentioned items outside the context of a bad practical joke.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

After about four years of pouring over (obsessing is a touch strong) the lives of Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha I had my first chance to visit the Homeland. That's right, SallyHP Goes to NY-ington. There were a couple hitches in my I'm-going-to-NYC-to-be-glam-and-have-glam-times fantasy, and their names are H and Charlie.

Yep, I ventured into the city for my first time, and decided to do it solo with both kids. I wish I could say that hilarity ensued and there were so many misadventures I have to break it into multiple posts but sadly, for a city with such a reputation for crazies and congestion, my day-trip went off without a hitch. I was frankly far more impressed by the purple mowhawk-sporting punk rocker that was walking a rooster on a leash in Eugene, OR when I was 12, but that's just me. This could have a lot to do with the fact that we were on the Upper East Side, too, though.

I was helped greatly by Alex's husband who basically created a tailored list of directions for me to drive to Yonkers and then take the train to Grand Central Station; complete with a list of terms that would 'immediately and irrevocably alienate me from all New Yorkers', and a brief but concise explanation of the street/avenue orientation of Manhattan that came in handy more than once.

I was meeting my sister-in-law LuLu, who was visiting "the city" (should that be spelled like a proper name, as in discussing Him?) from Oregon and had joked that I should get in the car with the kids and meet her for lunch. "Umm...okay." I think she thought I'd just laugh it off, but people don't quite get the level of my unrequited "NYC as seen on SATC" obsession.

The utter lack of freaky people, wall-to-wall noisy pedestrians and situations in which I felt uncomfortable was a little disappointing, but I got over it. H was a trouper as we walked for almost four hours, which is really about twenty-four in pre-schooler time. I borrowed an Ergo carrier (definitely going to invest in one now!) from a friend and had H on the red-neck backpack leash, so we were footloose and stroller-free.

We ate lunch outside near Grand Central, then got on the subway and explored Central Park, capping off our stay with Tasti D-Lite which I have to say, as a soft-serve fan, was mighty tasty indeed.

Seriously, the biggest people watching shocker I have to report was when I deduced that the lovely girl sitting across from us on the train back to Yonkers was quite possibly a "dancer/entertainer"...and I don't mean at the Met.

What first appeared to be dewy, glowing skin under the harsh lights of the tunnel was revealed in the sunlight of Harlem to be body glitter over a fake-n-bake tan. The phone conversation in which she proclaimed to a friend to have "went in, made some money, and bounced" and that her plans for the rest of the day were "Heading to Westchester...but don't worry, I'm bringing us back some 'presents''ll see tomorrow..." as she smiled coyly and sipped from the pink straw in her clear plastic cup. The cup she'd filled with wine from a small bottle in her purse after wryly proclaiming to me while flouncing in the seat "Long day!" further served to prove my suspicion. But she was nice to, and tolerant of, my kids and I really don't ask for much more than that.

Saving the best for last, I debated about this one's retelling but in the spirit of fairness here goes...I didn't want Charlie to feel left out in later tales of humiliation, so I decided to get uncontrollable diarrhea about an hour and a half into the trip(what?! I'm an anxious driver when the destination is unfamiliar, so I can't have breakfast and consume lots of caffeine!), during which he had to be on my lap in the bathroom, as I was without aforementioned stroller. (note to self; okay to still bring stroller in the car).

Yep, same thing that happened with H when he Charlie's age...only that time, I was at the sketchville rest area at Dead Man's Pass, not a clean and comfy gas station in Connecticut. But, Potayto Potahto.

Now that I've got my first city-bound trip under my belt, I'm thirsty for more. Going with a 'non-tourist attraction' agenda probably helped in the stress-level, as there were no rushes or deadlines (other than just leaving the city by mid-afternoon, which turned into early evening; read: rush-hour). Also, a trip sans kids and into Greenwich Village may up the SJP sighting quotient, no? And they really do strut around the city in those fabulous shoes!

Friday, May 15, 2009

They Might Be Giants

Yesterday as I fastened H's car seat, he said "I have small boobs." Yes, yes you do. As do all 3 year-old boys...hopefully.

Of course, that wasn't the end, it was followed up by "What kind of boobs do you have, Mom?" "Um, I don't know, what kind of boobs do you think I have?" Yes, I understand that open-ended questions of this nature are just an opening for an answer you don't want to hear, but I'm just trying to prep myself for a lifetime of questions by my sons that may get awkward.

"I think your boobs are the GIANT kind." Well, had I been in 8th 12th grade still, this would have been extremely flattering. But at this point in my life, I'm just glad he didn't say "the really saggy, deflated kind."

The other day, he was asking J when he would be able to drink beer. J answered that it was only for adults. Without missing a beat H replied "When I get hair on my penis?" J is very modest, so this caused deep blushing on his part while I laughed out loud.

H is obsessed with "being a Mommy", which I can't really fault since I'm the one he's around all the time, and he doesn't yet quite understand the gender assigned to the role (oh yeah, and I'm wicked cool.) After establishing the development needed for him to drink beer, H said "I'm going to streeeeeeeeeetch really big and get hair on my penis to be a grown-up Daddy, and then I'm gonna streeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeetch again and turn into a Mommy!" is this a commentary on my size relative to J's? He is more trim, but we're not exactly Jack Sprat and his wife. Maybe it's just that my presence is very large and in-charge?

Confused about whether or not the sentiment should hurt my feelings, I still couldn't help but laugh so I'm sure there will be loads more inappropriate conversations. The presenter from Planned Parenthood talked to us about being open about sex from an early age with kids, but there's no way I'm broaching puberty with H yet. Oi, I don't know if I'm ready for all this boy talk. I was ready for pads, periods and hormonal rages, but what do I do with these little Y chromosomes running all around me? I guess I have a few years to keep figuring it out...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Truth, Lies and VideoPoker

I realize I'm several years behind the times, but last night I finally watched the Al Gore documentary An Inconvenient Truth, just a few days after watching Who Killed the Electric Car?. While I still feel like Gore has a little 'smarmy politician' in his presentation, I really liked the simplicity of it. It was really the first time I'd been given, okay the first time I'd wanted to be given, an explanation of what global warming really is, how it works and, finally, what we can do in our daily life, and through small choices to help stem our planet's rising temperature.

I think that I felt good that I'm already doing a lot of the things they suggested to do my part, although there is so much more I could be doing, I feel good at what I currently am.

Example: I no longer drive an extra 20-30 minutes so that H will fall asleep in the car on our way home from the morning's activities...I just go home and cross my fingers that he'll take a nap there. So far, it's just resulted in an earlier bedtime. Progress, no?

I think the thing that struck me the most is that of all of our technological advances, why don't we have cars that are able to get the gas mileage of almost every other developed nation? I think the thing that will have to happen is to start giving tax penalties to people who purchase a huge vehicles without having an actual function for it. I'm not talking about the family of 4+ that has a full or mid-size SUV or van, or the rural person who owns a truck. I'm thinking of the more egregious craziness known as The Hummer (which, incidentally came out at the same time GM pulled the electric car and the State of California was sued for demanding higher efficiency cars). It always makes me chuckle a little to see the 'off-road' demo section at a Hummer dealership because, really, when do these guys ever take their Hummers off-road? But I digress...

When I see the tiny little hybrid or electric cars, all I can think of is "They wouldn't stand a chance (in an accident)." Until the majority of the cars on the road are smaller, I don't think I'd feel safe in a tiny little car whose parts are made of lighter and lighter materials in order to boost gas mileage with reduced environmental impact. I know that's talking out both sides of my mouth, but the tiny hybrid car will most likely be my last step in eco-friendliness. Reduce the number of miles I drive that aren't 'necessary'? Sure. Reduce my safety and that of my children on the thanks.

The sad thing is, I know that I'm not the only person who feels that way, but who's going to take the first steps to downsizing their space on the road? It's like we're all just eighth-grade boys kind of waiting for the other person to make the first move...put your arm around her already!

In Who Killed the Electric Car, one of the interviewees made a great statement rebutting the concerns that the Electric cars were so much more expensive, stating that there are no boundaries in the air from a poor community to a rich one. So, even if the more affluent people are the ones able to afford the cars, it will have a positive effect on everyone.

Hey, all you Richie Riches...would you mind buying a Prius instead of a Hummer? Thanks! Okay, problem solved. So, can I can keep driving the Freestyle guilt-free now?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Alma Mater We Love You, Old Union High!

This winter, I participated in the MomCentral blog tour promoting awareness of the Kellogg' Frosted Flakes program Earn Your Stripes, which has a sub-section called Plant a Seed intended to help with field renovations across America. People were asked to submit a field in their community that needed renovation in order that the kids and community members in general could benefit from all that organized sports and fitness in general have to offer.

I was ecstatic when I saw that my High School's field (listed under Union High School-Old Field, Union, OR) had made the final cut and is now a contender for the final 30 that will be renovated! You can vote once a day, every single day until May 31st. Vote, and vote often! If a field in your community has not been selected, I would love for you to put your support toward my hometown.
From Fartleks to Burpies and everything in between, that track and field have helped many a student athlete while away the hours in a positive way. In a community where over 90% of the youth are involved in after-school athletics throughout the course of the year, it's easy to see why a well-maintained field is so important.
The track that you see in the picture is the old cinder track that was our one and only during my heyday at UHS. After I graduated, they wrote grant after grant and worked to have a regulation track (the cinder track is not regulation) and football field built down the road from the school.
The hope is to have the track at the old field removed so that the entire space can be returned to it's previous stat, irrigated and utilized as a large field for Little League and other activities. The town's Little League space is currently at the local Stock Show grounds, which is also used for parking and the annual carnival, so is not ideal.
I have so many great memories of my time at UHS, and would love to see the field get renovated so that the next generations can benefit from a safe place to be active and engaged after-school and during the summer months. Please visit the Frosted Flakes Plant a Seed website and cast your vote every day from now until May 31st!


Dedication Dedication by Emma McLaughlin

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I was so excited when I walked past the poster in the theatre that was advertising the new Emma McLaughlin/Nicola Krauss book. I loved The Nanny Diaries and Citizen Girl, and couldn't wait to see what their next joint venture would bring!

I picked it up at the library on Monday and by last night, it was done. They have such a spot-on way of describing everything from current society to 80's-90's culture, and their human interactions are so realistic you feel like you could be reading about someone you know. If you've not yet read their other books, do it. Now.

View all my reviews.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Thirty Going on Thirteen

Now that my third decade of life is drawing to a close, I've discovered a literary genre that has me absolutely hooked. Yep, youth lit. Why am I drawn into the high school drama of an angst-filled teen in love with a vampire? Because it's awesome, that's why! Once the Twilight series was devoured, I moved on to my more serious picks like The Abstinence Teacher and Revolutionary Road, but my teeny-bopper heart was searching for more.

My newest find was passed to me by my friend, Maggie; Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty.

Sloppy Firsts: A Novel Sloppy Firsts: A Novel by Megan McCafferty

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars

I didn't even have time to move this book from "to-read" to "currently reading" because I banged it out in a day. Then I immediately went online to request the next four from the library, in addition to her collection of essays 'Sweet Sixteen'. McCafferty has nailed the 'youth lit that will have every thirty year old woman reading the book start to finish in a day' genre, and I can't wait to follow the adventures of the "Notso" Darling, Jessica all the way to what will have to be her triumphant emergence into full-on womanhood.

I feel she could be talking about teens today, and was shocked when I stopped to calculate that Y2K was almost a DECADE ago! However, the time factor also allows me to more closely relate to the characters since I was only a sophomore in college then and high school was not quite so far removed.

For all you ladies that loved Sweet Valley High...get ready to fall in love with the series that kicks Francine Pascal's ass!

View all my reviews.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Eat Your Vegetables!

While I've never attempted vegetarianism, I do like to have several meatless options for meals for myself and the fam because I definitely go through phases where just the thought of chicken makes me want to barf and if I see it raw, forget about it! Something about the veins just ruins it. Interesting as I like steak with blood on the plate, but as my dad used to say as he choked down his chicken dinner, "They call it fowl (read: foul) for a reason!"

My weekly email from BabyCenter had a section with recommendations for family-friendly vegetarian cookbooks. I picked a couple that I'll be adding to my collection and listed them here for you. My sister, Sherri, is a huge fan of The Moosewood Cookbook, so I knew this one would be good. Even more, though, I like that it's designed to cook with your kids, adding in the math and science education that comes from culinary experience. Since H won't be going to pre-school, I'm always on the look-out for ways that I can 'home school' so he's ready for Kindergarten (I was shocked at the list of things kids need to demonstrate knowledge in for entry to K at a 'normal' level...aren't they supposed to learn to read in school?!) without feeling like I'm adding a bunch of new tasks to my plate; I've already got enough irons in the fire!

Without further ado, here's the list:

Pretend Soup and Other Real Recipes: A Cookbook for Preschoolers & Up
By Mollie Katzen and Ann L. Henderson (1994, Tricycle Press, $17. Reading level: Ages 4 to 8)

Vegetarian foodie Mollie Katzen (author of The Moosewood Cookbook) and educator Ann Henderson have teamed up to create a kid-friendly, nutritionally mindful, and parent-perfect book. Each of the 19 recipes starts with individual instructions for both the adult and child, is illustrated with cute animals, and includes insider reviews from kids who have tried the recipes. Children will love the easy-to-follow step-by-step illustrations, and parents will like that science and math lessons are covertly woven into assignments for mixing and measuring.

Feeding the Healthy Vegetarian Family
By Ken Haedrich (1998, Bantam Books, $16. Reading level: Adult)

Vegetarian father-of-four, Ken Haedrich dishes out more than 250 kid-tested, meat-free recipes that can be prepared in short order, taste good, use easy-to-find ingredients, and are healthy. The book is sprinkled with family anecdotes, sections just for the kids, and tips for enjoying vegetarian meals without feeling deprived.

Better Than Peanut Butter & Jelly: Quick Vegetarian Meals Your Kids Will Love!
By Wendy Muldawer (1997, McBrooks Press, $17. Reading level: Adult)

Yes, whipping up yet another pb&j is an easy way to keep the kids fed, but even the most change-averse child will get sick of the same old thing eventually. This book packs 150 low-fat, low-sugar, kid-friendly recipes, such as Brown Rice Fruit Salad and Cartwheel Carrots, that can be prepared without a lot of hassle. Snack and party ideas are included, as are vegan options.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

(Not So) Turbo Kick-Boxing

Juice Box Jungle recently had an article called 'The Real Soccer Moms' and it was all about carving out time to 'take care of yourself'; specifically by taking the time to exercise and ensure that you're healthy. Whether it's to fit into that great pair of jeans or to increase your energy and have time with other adults. They were talking about how a lot of women feel guilty about taking time 'away' from their kids by taking a class or doing some other form of exercise that doesn't include them. However, they and several of the contributors said over and over that when you come back refreshed and invigorated, it'll make you 'more able to handle your little monsters on your return.'

I know that my gym membership has been worth it's weight in gold. Even if it's a day that I'm not exercising, I've dropped my kids in the Child Watch while I read a book or knit in the lobby for my allotted 90 minutes. It's just as nice for them to get a break from me, I'm sure, as it is for me to get one from them.

On that note, yesterday I decided to try a new class at the Y. I deposited the kids in the child watch, crossing my fingers that I wouldn't be called out due to Charlie's new found love of crying when put down by the Child Watch folks who can't really sit and hold him the whole time or H's inability to keep his little paws to himself. Mind you, each of the above incident's has only happened once but I had always been very lucky in my kids' willingness to go to, and stay in, the Child Watch while I had my "me time", so I didn't want to be too confident.

I ran into the classroom after taking an extra 10 seconds to top off my water bottle and found that the room was filled with what looked like about 300 women, but was probably closer to 50. The music was already going and the instructor was not your average cute little nymph of a trim fitness guru. This woman was a powerhouse. She was very petite, but had visible muscle definition everywhere. I got into position and started mimicking her crosses and jabs paired with hip turns and heels popping off the floor. 'What's so hard about this? I could do this all day! This will be a great new class!' Because The Contender is probably my favorite reality TV show, I had created an unrealistic image in my mind of what I may look like while performing boxing moves.

"Okay, folks, let's take it up to tempo!" WHAT?! Suddenly it was like kick boxing on crack, which is, I guess, where the turbo part comes in. Once I got my hips to move with the correct arm, I felt like I was in business...but wait, it got harder. I looked around to see if I was the one who had a puddle of sweat (well, not quite literally) and was relieved to see that even the most fit were sporting large sweat stains down the backs of their shirts. And to think I used to look incredulously at J while watching boxing to say 'They're just standing there hugging each other!" Yeah. Because they're exhausted!

By the end when we were doing push-ups in a dozen different positions, I had to grip the edges of my mat in order to keep from sliding around. ewwww. I was so glad I'd taken time to fill up the bottle that I'd already sucked down, and I felt great! I waited out the thirty minutes of Child Watch I had left in order to ease back from Sweaty Betty mode and then went to their respective rooms to collect them.

When I got to Charlie's room they talked about his steps across the room. I pointed a surprised finger at him and said 'Charlie walked three steps?!" When the caretaker excitedly described how he's been holding onto the Exersaucer and then just let go and toddled three steps on his fat little legs before sitting down, all the power from the class left me like a deflating balloon. "Those were his first steps..." The words left my mouth and she looked stricken. I was mainly disappointed because so far I've missed every important milestone by literally being just in the next room.

He rolled over for the first time during the nanosecond that I was using the bathroom during his grandparent's visit in September. Then he crawled when J was home with him and I was blow-drying my he walks in Child Watch?! Seriously, the kid is taunting me. See, it doesn't matter if your work or stay at home full-time, you'll never be there for every moment. But before I started circling the want-ads, I called to commiserate with my friend Alex who reminded me 'But you're there for everything else.' Oh yeah.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sibling Rivalry

Charlie has been busting out teeth left and right and H has been having some 'natural consequences.' Today he cried out "Charlie bit my finger!" Um, did you have your finger in his mouth? "Yes." Okay, don't do that.

Other than that, Charlie's increased activity in general (read: he's long past the lump on the floor stage) is keeping me on my toes. During the times when they're good to each other, I can see the gift I've given them, but sometimes I just want to pull my hair out. Just when I think I'm at my wit's end, H will be patting Charlie's back as he's hysterical saying "It's okay Char!"

It's hard to enforce the concept of being gentle with H when Charlie will grab a fist full of H's cheek skin and all I can do is say "Gentle, Charlie!"...while telling H he didn't mean to. But I guess that's just the way it goes, and H will forgive us all someday.

We had a guest speaker at my mom's group that talked about sibling rivalry. It was actually a set of twins who are also moms and I was so pleased that they focused on the positives of having multiple children; hence having siblings. I know that I would not be the person I am today were it not for the other three people who were raised right along with me (and helped raise me).

Some of the statements they made really tapped into my homesickness. I've been having a hard time as I settle into life here and realize that I could really stay in New England were it not for that pesky my-whole-family-and-life-are-in-Oregon thing and I've come to the point where I no longer want to talk about going home ad nauseum.

I'm getting nervous about leaving because it will be hard to have H leave all that he knows...and Charlie knows nothing but New England. But we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Get Outside!

Have a great playspace that you love to visit with your kids? How about sharing it with other moms? KaBOOM has the goal of adding 100,000 playspaces to their site in the next 100 days. Help them out and enter the ones you love! Check it out on Knitty Reviews.

Just Another Manic Meet-Up

If you've not yet heard of, or used MeetUp, you're missing out on the next big social revolution. Unlike a lot of the 'social networking' tools out there these days, this one actually is designed to make folks meet in person. I know! What a concept! I'd begun to feel like the days between planned events for my mom's group lacked motivation to get out there and do, so I remembered the site that I'd found while living in Portland, and the knitting group I never made it to.

The first Meetup I joined here was the Hook and Needlers knitting group I talked about earlier...time for me. Then I joined Outdoorsy Families so that we would be forced to get out and be physical instead of solely going to the gym. Then I found a Foodie Meetup...right up my alley. My mother's group decided to host a Meetup page to attract new members so I joined that, and then I joined a second Mamas and Munchkins group so that I'd never have a dull moment!

I literally can look at the calender on any given day and between the groups I'm in and the friends I already have I can pick between multiple things to do every. single. day. Then, of course, the beauty of staying at home with the kids is that, if the fancy strikes me I can, well, stay at home.

H and I have been getting along a lot better for the most part because I think I've just exhausted the fight right out of him. Well, really, I think that he's just as social and busy as I am so I've finally started to fill up his little social butterfly and get out your wiggles cup. We've had something to do each morning this week, with afternoons set aside for nap and quiet time. Hmm. Quiet time. Now there's a joke. Seriously, what Stepford mommy made up that impossible standard to which all other mothers must keep their kids? I don't know about you guys, but H's idea of quiet is to play the xylophone not-quite-as-loudly as normal.

On a side note. I have the most exciting meet-up coming this summer. I got offered plane tickets by my aunt and sister so that I get to go home for the FamilyCircus Reunion and celebrate my, as H would say, Dirty Firty, at the local bars in the town where I grew up. With all my sisters, my childhood friends, and my best friend is coming from Ptown too! Looks like a Gin and Tonic Smack from Benchwarmers will be high on my list that night!