I just finished the book "H". I'm not sure what I think about it...

It was a very quick read (I started it late last night and have already finished). The story follows a young boy who appears to have autistic tendencies and relatively severe emotional/psychological issues through a trip to summer camp and to a psychiatric hospital. I say "story" but really the book is full of letters from this young man to his imaginary "friend" (and his "friend's'" letters back), letters from his mother and his doctors.

There was no real ending...books like that tend to disturb me. I hate being left with unanswered questions...much like why I hated The Abstinence Teacher.

Two IEP/Progress meetings and gratitude.

Yesterday Kirby and I headed to the school for two IEP/Progress meetings. One for Zachary and one for Andrew - back to back. I'll be honest, if this had happened a year ago with Andrew's old "team" I would not have made it through both meetings.

However, this year is so different! We have a GREAT team of teachers working with both our kids.

Zachary is easy enough, he doesn't qualify for special education services and most of his stuff is attention and social. We just meet with his regular teacher, his guidance counselor and the woman who organizes the IEP meetings and the principal (who attends all IEP meetings).

We were told that Zachary is the worst child they have ever worked with, he talks back, is unruly, not very bright and, overall, they just don't like him...JUST KIDDING! It was the exact opposite, actually. They are very happy with him! His teacher has made some "accommodations" for him (seating, etc) and he has done incredibly well with finishing up his work and keeping organized. Socially he is blossoming. He has made, at least, one good friend whom he talks on the phone with for hours and gets together with almost every weekend. He is still struggling with writing and Mrs. Tierney doesn't think it has anything to do with an inability to write - more like an inability to get his thoughts down as quickly as he needs to (in other words, he has so many thoughts in his head that his hand can't keep up with him). We are talking about teaching him some keyboarding skills to make it a little easier for him (I'll be honest, that is one of my biggest problems with writing, thoughts come faster than I can write them - this is why I love blogging). Overall, Zach is doing very well. We were very happy with the outcome of his meeting.

On to Andrew. Andrew's meeting consists of two OTs, one speech path, one special ed instructor, his regular teacher, the IEP lady and the principal. It is a big table with lots of people who have lots to say. Fortunately, they do a great job at organizing everything.

His teacher says that he is doing very well in the classroom. He is READING (I'm SO EXCITED) and she is very impressed with that. He is still having some troubles with math due to his lack of attention/focus, but he is still moving along. She said that it is still evident that he needs an aide with him at all times, mostly for safety reasons (taking off, putting inappropriate things in his mouth). He is also getting along well with the other kids and playing with them at a, mostly, age appropriate level.

His OTs are working with both fine and gross motor skills. Tracing shapes and writing his name are both big goals and his is getting there - although he is easily frustrated by the task. Riding a tricycle has been a HUGE accomplishment this year! We tried all summer to get him to ride his trike and it was too hard for him - now he is riding all around the gym and even maneuvering around cones!

His speech therapist is working on a lot of social stories and he is learning about "nice words" and "look with our eyes". He is also learning how to hold an appropriate conversation with turn taking and such. Andrew's vocabulary is off the chart but he doesn't always use it appropriately and he doesn't always have the ability to have spontaneous conversation. She will also be starting a social story about Mommy walking Andrew to school. I will start walking him one day a week rather than the 2 minute bus ride everyday. We are going to slowly try to wean him off the bus ride.

I think, at one moment in time or another, just about every person sitting at the table during Andrew's meeting, had tears in their eyes. Tears of joy, of course. This was huge for Kirby and I. Everyone at that table just LOVES working with Andrew and they have all remarked on what a wonderful kid he is, how polite he is and how many strides and gains he has made these past 6 months.

To have a group of people that really want what is best for your child is amazing! In the past we have had people on his team that want nothing but what is least expensive for the school district. We had to fight for every thing that he got and I always left those meetings not knowing exactly what was decided and feeling about 2 inches tall. This year is so different. They all love him, that is evident and, most importantly, they all want him to do well and they work to ensure that it happens!

Last night this lead to Kirby and I talking about how grateful we are to have Andrew's pediatrician.

Andrew started receiving early intervention (EI) services at 9 months (I fought and fought and fought with his GP and finally told her that if she didn't do something I would find somebody that would - we found his pediatrician Dr. Heath who did something). By age 3 he didn't qualify for EI anymore (because the testing is so black and white - while he could speak it wasn't appropriate language). I KNEW he needed more, but there was no way to get anything else without a diagnosis. I went to his pediatrician crying, begging for help. He recognized that Andrew needed more and diagnosed him PDD-NOS. Essentially, he told me that before I left his office that day, Andrew would qualify - and he did.

Had Andrew not continued his services at that time I don't know where we would be. He continues to make strides because he has an amazing foundation. He has that foundation because I fought for it and Dr. Heath fought for it. I can't imagine where he would be today if we didn't get those things...

Andrew is exactly where he is suppose to be. He is learning exactly what he is suppose to learn. He is exactly the little boy that God intended for him to be. We are so blessed!


The Wedding

Beautiful. If you have read The Notebook, read The Wedding. If you haven't read The Notebook - what are you waiting for? Do it! Then read The Wedding.

Nicholas Sparks is an amazing writer. I don't know how he does it but I am able to fall in love with each of his characters in every book I have ever read.

While his books tend to concentrate on relationships, they are far from romances. They are about the ups and downs of relationships, the depth of relationships and true love. At least that's my opinion.

When Nicki recommended The Wedding I wasn't aware that some of the characters in The Notebook were in it. I wasn't sure how I felt about that when I started reading it, but it was perfect.

Take a few days, read it!

Mommy is sick - or Mommy's Intuition.

I came across this news story today:

"Autistic child dies after leaving center

Updated: 01/28/2008 06:47

AMBy: Aaron Mesmer

CABARRUS COUNTY -- A child missing from a care center was found
Sunday, and after being rushed to the Intensive Care Unit of CMC-University, is
now dead.
According to the Cabarrus County Sheriff’s Office, the 10-year old
“disabled, autism child resident of the [Howell Care Center] walked away from
the facility.”
After a ground search that included members of the facility,
the Sheriff’s Office other departments, the child was discovered “in a small
branch feeding into a pond on property adjacent to the center.”

The child
was found in a creek leading to a pond. CPR was administered to the child, who
was then transported to the hospital. He died a few hours later.
internal review is underway, and we are making all the required notifications of
this tragic event,” said Sam Hedrick, president of Howell Care Centers. “Our
efforts are also focused on supporting this individual’s family, and the staff
at the center who have become his second family.”

From: http://news14.com/content/headlines/592234/autistic-child-dies-after-leaving-center/Default.aspx

I post this here because I have a story that I want to share about autistic children wandering.

First off, autistic kids are typically drawn to water but do not know how to swim. Oftentimes ASD kids are found in pools of neighbors or (as happened to a friend of ours) climbing out onto a covered boat docked on the lake.

When Extreme Makeover was in NH Kirby wanted me to go see the site. Late one night, after we put the little ones to bed, we left Tom in charge and headed over to Manchester (about 75 -90 minutes from here). We got there around 10 or 10:30pm.

It was neat to be there, a bit surreal with all the lights and the cameras and the big equipment. There were no "stars" on set, so I didn't get to see Ty or Paul (my favorite, but I met him in Wells before). And there wasn't a whole lot for me to do.

Around 11:30 or so I really started not feeling well. I had an awful stomachache and didn't want to be there anymore. I told Kirby that I wanted to go home. He was pissed. We had only been there a little more then an hour, we hadn't got to do much, he was pissed. I told him he could drop me at Alex's (my brother who lives in Manchester) or Alex could come get me - he refused but I knew that it was going to be a long ride home.

We pulled into our parking space around 1am. I looked up at the house to see all the lights on...then I heard a child's voice. I looked out front and there was Andrew, walking down the front steps, wearing only his pull-up and heading down the street.

Kirby grabbed him and threw him at me (while he ran upstairs to find out what the hell was going on) and I squeezed him so hard he told me I was hurting him. "Where were you going" I asked him, "to find you" he answered.

Come to find out, Tom had gone to bed and when he was woken up by Andrew going through the kitchen (turning on lights, getting into cabinets) he was disoriented (as teenagers often are when they are sleeping), he assumed we were home and locked and shut his door. Not his fault...

Who knows where Andrew was going or what would have happened had I not felt sick and asked to come home. Who knows where he would have gone when he didn't find us outside...

We don't live very far from the water and he is more then capable of walking there from here and he can not swim. In Wolfeboro the streets roll up at 9pm...who knows when someone would have found him...

It is incredibly terrifying to think about the "what ifs". I can't dwell on those. We have now installed child proof door knobs and if we leave for the evening both those and the chain are put on the door, Tom sleeps on the couch (where Andrew would have to walk past him) with the phone (so we can call and have him take the chain off when we are coming home).

Thank GOD we came home when we did. Thank GOD I felt sick and Kirby didn't bring me to Alex's. Thank GOD we came home EXACTLY when we did!

The news story just reminded me of our story and how scary it could have been. This is one of the many reasons we need to raise awareness and train our emergency people on how to deal with these situations. You can help me too by joining our Buddy Bear project :)



Last night the Manchester, NH Extreme Makeover Home Edition aired. It was a very exciting night in our household since Kirby had worked very hard on the project alongside the stars including Ty Pennington.

Kirby and I had worked together on the last Extreme Makeover site in the area a few years ago when they came to Wells, ME. It was a pretty neat experience. This time, however, Kirby was there from beginning to end.

Here are some great shots Kirby got of the process:

The outside of the house:


And again:


Look up on that ladder! That is Ty Pennington!


The family finally seeing their house:


Ty practicing his lines before he heads back into the house:


Needless to say, Kirby was very proud of his involvement in this project. It was a very cool experience and he was excited to be able to share it with us last night when the show finally was aired.

Unfortunately, Zachary wasn't able to watch it with us. I'll give you an idea why...see below:








Zachary's room is a constant source of argument around here. Zachy takes after his parents. We have not been very good role models in the area of organization.

But Zach was given plenty of time to get his room clean. I told him at noon that he needed to have it done before he could watch the show. Knowing how important the show was to him I really thought it would be incentive to get it done...I was wrong.

7 hours and plenty of arguing later his room still looked like the pictures about (actually, those pictures were taken this morning). I had fought with him for about 4 hours, coaxing him (okay, now pick up the dirty clothes...done? okay, now the books...done? okay, now the...), begging him, hollering at him - finally I gave up. I told him that I was done, it was his decision. Needless to say, he chose not to watch the show - let me rephrase - he chose to not clean his room and it was totally "not fair" that he couldn't watch the show because of it.

It was heartbreaking not letting him watch the show. He kept coming out of his room saying, "it should be family time" and "can't we just make up" and "it's not fair". I had to explain to him that he wasn't there because I was angry with him, he was there because he made a choice to not clean his room. He cried and he cried...I wanted to give in, but I knew I couldn't.

This morning I decided I was sick and tired of it. I decided that, with my day off, I would take care of his room. **I need to say here that this is something I do not do. I will not be responsible for cleaning his room, he needs to learn to be responsible for his own things.** However, I wanted before and after pictures, I wanted a day without a fight and I wanted it to be done and done right.

I realized today why he couldn't do it. Even I was overwhelmed. The room was disgusting (so disgusting I can't even say some of the things I found in there here for fear that he will one day realize that this can be read by the entire world and he will either disown me or kill me). There were dirty clothes mixed in with clean, CDs all over the floor, tiny legos everywhere, a toy box full of old school work and crumpled papers, books in with the toys and ROCKS EVERYWHERE (Zachary is an avid rock collector).

I worked from noon to 6 cleaning like I have never cleaned before and it is still not completely done (all I have left to do is vacuum). I made it through Janet Jackson, Rascal Flatts, Anna Nalick and Shakira, two cups of coffee, two bags of trash, half a bottle of Spic-n-Span and nearly a half a bottle of Windex.

The end results:



Inside the toy box - amazingly enough it only has TOYS in it:




I have also labeled EVERYTHING. I went as far as labeling the book shelf with "BOOKS", should there be any question as to what goes there. The dresser drawers are labeled, the toy box and all the tupperware containers. There will never be another question about where anything goes. I will also be posting the "after" pictures in his room so he knows exactly how it is suppose to look when he is done.

He has also been told that I have taken possession of his room and all its contents. He will be working to earn his room back this week. Presently, I have given him permission to borrow it so he can sleep in it.

I am exhausted. It is had been a long day...

Part of me feels like an evil mother, part of me feels like I have done something for him that I shouldn't have...but most of all, a large part of me knows that I have made it easier for him to clean it from now on and MOST IMPORTANTLY, I know that I won't have this fight again for, at least, another week :)


To make coffee or not to make coffee - that is the question

I love my coffee. However, over the past 5 years I have become, what I call, a coffee snob. I only drink it from certain places and it has to be done just right. It really isn't that hard, I drink iced coffee black from Dunkin Donuts. That's it, that's all.

I have run into some problems, however. Number one, different Dunkin Donuts can taste differently. Even my home shop tastes awful if the right people aren't working.

Number two, a large iced coffee a day costs me $2.69!! Nearly three dollars for coffee? Is that reasonable?

Number three, if I go to Dunkin Donuts with Andrew that means he needs to get something as well. The women from DDs have fallen in love with him. They buy him Christmas presents, take him on trips (or attempt, we tried to do the Mt. Washington this year in a rain storm) and come to his Christmas concerts! So, now we are running about $4 per day.

And lastly, if I go without my coffee I get a migraine to kill all migraines. Seriously, I end up on the couch crying, pulling my hair out (literally, did you know that pulling on your hair when you have a headache feels good and releases pressure). I suppose I could cut down slowly and deal with the migraines for a few days...but who wants a life without coffee?

For Christmas Kirby bought me two pounds of DDs coffee. I don't know why, I don't make coffee at home. But these past few weeks I decided it was time to start. Mind you, iced coffee can be tough to perfect. You can't just make a cup of coffee and pour it over ice - it doesn't work that way.

So, I've worked my best to perfect a cup of iced coffee at home. I have had coffee too strong and coffee not nearly strong enough. Since no one else in my house drinks coffee I have a small coffee maker. To make iced coffee you need to double the grounds and sometimes they spill over out of the paper and into my coffee...yuck!

Three weeks strong and I have figured it out! I am so proud. I can't remember the last time I had to go to DDs to buy my coffee. This saves me, at least, $21 each week! $21 is a half a tank of gas!

So why did I decide to blog about this? Why is this important enough to share it with all of you, my faithful readers?

Well, because the second I figured out how to make the perfect cup of iced coffee Andrew decided he likes to dump the pitcher into the bathroom sink. Meaning I lose my iced coffee and this is starting to make less sense economically.

Sometimes I believe that Andrew spends more time in the refrigerator than he does in bed. He takes bologna and cheese from the deli bags and takes bites - not bites from one slice he takes a bite from the entire pound, one single bite through every slice. He takes handfuls of peas (cooked and cold) and shoves them in his mouth, leaving stray peas along the floor. He drinks from the milk jug and runs through the house with strawberry jelly. And the worst of it? Lately he has started dumping my perfect iced coffee down the bathroom sink. Ugh!

We have tried everything. When me moved in the fridge was new and we switched the way the door opened - that worked for a few days - he was so confused. We have put locks on the fridge (he figured them out within two weeks - they were some of the best two weeks of my life). We have placed barricades in front of the fridge, we have threatened...nothing works.

Alas, I have figured out the perfect cup of coffee and I can't even enjoy it. I worry that it may be dumped within hours of making it...

So now I must decide if the $21 each week is worth my sanity...to make coffee or to not make coffee...that is the question.


The Abstinence Teacher

Two words: BOR-RING! I mentioned in one of my previous blogs that this book was slow to start. Well, slow to start and even slower to end! I was left with a million unanswered questions and no real tie to any of the characters.

The title would lead you to believe that the story was about the teacher - wrong. While the teacher has a part in the story it more or less follows Tim, the born again Christian who coaches the teacher's daughter in soccer and "forces" her to pray. Ugh!

Ah well, nothing lost is nothing gained, right? Moving on to The Wedding as recommended by Nicki. I have always loved Nicholas Sparks' books so I am looking forward to this one. If you haven't read The Notebook it is too good to pass us. And if you have seen the movie, that doesn't count.

Back to the Abstinence Teacher though. As the title suggests, part of the story deals with a teacher teaching abstinence. It leads me into wondering what I do and do not want my children learning in school.

Of course, my little ones are still very young, abstinence isn't something I have to worry about quite yet. Although, kids are growing up quicker and quicker now. I know that it will be something I have to deal with soon enough.

We had a typical Health class in school. We were taught most everything. It was there that I saw my first condom and learned how to put it on a broomstick. I watched a movie that showed conception - from beginning to end. We learned about STDs and how to recognize and prevent them. And we learned abstinence and celibacy. I don't know that anything I learned in that class (full of people I didn't really associate with and pretty embarrassing the whole time) encouraged or discouraged me in one way or the other. I think this is what I want my kids to learn. Extremes are never a good thing. You can't teach all sex and you can't teach all abstinence - you need to meet in the middle.

My parents tell me that they had the "birds and the bees" talk with me and I have no reason to disbelieve them except that I have absolutely no knowledge of it whatsoever. I guess it was that mortifying. I must have blocked out every second of it (not the only kid who did, my younger brother Alex has no recollection either).

My mother, at least, was very open about sexuality. Well, open enough. We knew were never taught that sex was bad or dirty. However, abstinence was never taught either. Not that it would have changed this much had it been (or at least I don't believe it would have). And I'm not sure the word masturbation was ever discussed in my household. And I know that there was more than once I had to go to an older friend to find out what certain words meant (condom, virgin, etc).

During my first "serious" relationship my parents were going through their divorce. I found a legal pad on my father's desk on day with a list of things that he needed to talk to my mother about. One of those things was "talk to Erica about birth control". Little did they know that I didn't need to be talked to about it, I had already taken care of it on my own - not that it mattered much, that boy ended up being gay and, although he didn't reveal that until we were grown up, everything leading up to his coming out should have been a clue.

Nonetheless, my mother had that talk with me too. This one, much to my dismay, I remember. I remember feeling embarrassed and lying, through my teeth, telling her it wasn't necessary. I didn't have the heart to tell her I had a friend drive me to the local clinic over a month earlier to get the prescription. She had that same talk with me a little later in my life, when I was pregnant with Zachary...too late...not that she knew that either.

Once upon a time, Zachary asked me where babies came from. He was much younger, 4 or 5 and I didn't feel the need to get into all the nitty gritty. So, I told him that when a Mommy and Daddy loved each other very much their love created a baby. That satisfied him for the moment...I am bracing myself for the next time it comes up.

Recently Zachary giggled at the word sex. I don't know where he heard it (television I'm sure). I asked him what was so funny. I got the typical 7 year old boy answer: shoulder shrug, and a red faced "I don't know". So I asked him what he thought sex was and after a lot of prying I got "kissing and stuff". Good enough, I thought, but I wondered where he would get that. Television, I'm sure, again.

When Allyson was about 14 we talked about sex. Again at 15 and 16 and 17. It was always a little embarrassing for both of us, but it was important, so I kept doing it. I'm not sure how much of a difference it made since at 18 she is now a Mommy herself...

Abstinence is a funny thing. While I think that most parents want their children to be abstinent for their teenager years, how many of us believe it to be true? How many of us were abstinent through our teenage years?

I guess I would much rather that my children know the truth of the matter. Sex happens. Sex should be reserved for two people who love each other and when that happens it is a beautiful thing. Sex can lead to many things both scary and wonderful. Of course, STDs and pregnancy are always issues - not to mention the emotional havoc it can create with both parties.

I want my kids to wait. I want them to wait until they are old enough to accept the responsibilities that sex creates and to wait until they are in love. This is what my parents asked of me. Then I think: how does a child know these things? How does anyone know these things?

I remember talking to my guidance counselor about sex, saying I was thinking about it. He told me I shouldn't have sex until I could accept all the responsibilities. I told him that I could, except I wasn't ready to be a parent. He told me then I wasn't really ready. He was right.

So what's a parent to do? I can't lock them up until they are 30...or can I? I can't follow them on every date they have until they are married...although I believe that does happen in some cultures. I can't decide when they will get married (and to whom) and not allow any "courting" until then (although it seems to work well for some Muslims). I guess I just teach them what I believe, keep it honest and encourage them to "save themselves" for the right person.

Again with the handbook...where is mine? I think they forgot it when I took them from the hospital.

I guess it comes down to faith, and not the religious kind of faith. Faith that my children are going to make the right decisions. Faith that I have done a good job in raising them. Faith that they have a conscience and that they will follow it into most situations. Faith that they have a God of their own and that their God will watch over them.

No matter what "mistakes" I have made in my lifetime (sexual or otherwise) they have made me who I am today. My children will make mistakes and I will continue to make mistakes in raising them. All I can do is my best and pray for the rest to iron itself out.

Oy, it gets scarier everyday!


Can you help?

A new Autism Awareness project has started. Buddy Bear will be traveling the world to raise Autism Awareness. This summer he will be visiting Milton, NH. I have been asked to help organize an event to raise Autism Awareness and I am looking for help!

We will be looking for help in every aspect like marketing (getting the word out), sponsors (free stuff and helping raise money), location (we are currently thinking the Commons), etc. Any type of help that you can give, whether you have experience or not, will be incredilby helpful!

If any of you are able to volunteer some time over the next few months to help us organize I would love your help and your ideas!



A note from Buddy's "Mum":

"This project developed from my son's recent interest in maps and learning about new places really. However, it's becoming something so much more. This isn't just for my son, but rather for the one in every 150 diagnosed with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder. As a parent, the most difficult obstacle to overcome is the lack of awareness in others within society. Outings that most of us take for granted can become quite challenging for those with Autism. It is my hope that as people become of aware of Buddy and his travels, they will also take the time to do a little research on Autism and perhaps become involved with one of the many organizations supporting Autism research. But most importantly, the next time you're out in a public place, the grocery store, the bank, post office, or wherever it may be when you witness a child acting out in a manner that may seem "unruly" or "inappropriate" to you, take the time and understand this child may have Autism. And please, don't hesitate to offer that parent a compassionate glance, a kind word, or even a gentle touch upon the shoulder. Never underestimate the power of human compassion. Autism affects us all."



So, after a couple months, or so, of blogging here, I am just realizing that Nicki and I have the same exact page layout. Well, not anymore, baby!

In some strange way Nicki and I are, somehow, cosmically connected. I can't quite explain it. While we knew each other in high school we were never very close. We "re met" planning our 5 year reunion and have been, essentially, inseparable every since. In fact, since Kirby has been home more lately, he realizes how often we talk. I got a little snide comment about the hours I spend on the phone with her...if he only knew. I'm not sure what it is, but we always seem to understand each other. She and I have so many similarities in our lives and yet many vast differences. I can't explain how blessed I am to have Nicki in my life - the things she has helped me through! But do we need to share the same layout? I think not! :)

Enjoy the redesign!

Two more for the list...

I finished two more books over the past couple days. I am a reading fool! I'm telling you, this writer's strike is killing my obsession with TV and that may not be such a bad thing.

I started Love In Another Town first but left it at work one evening and started A Thousand Splendid Suns which I ended up finishing first. The latter is more the kind of book that I read. It was written by the same author as The Kite Runner and it was, once again, amazing! I can't give that author enough credit.

Love In Another Town was more of a romance, pretty cheesy, a little predictable and silly...not my type of book. But it was there to keep my attention and it didn't use the "N" word.

I am now working on The Abstinence Teacher, tough to start, but I am sure I will get into it.

One of the bonuses in all of my reading: It is now 9:30, Zachary can't sleep and he is in his bed...reading! He started and finished one book this evening and now he is working on his second. While I would prefer he would sleep at this hour (and I know that I will regret this in the morning) it is better than playing his Game Boy in his bed or wandering downstairs for "just one more drink" or to "go potty" or to tell me all about the blisters he got ice skating today...

My point? He loves to read! His father has only once, in our 8+ years of being together, finished a book. It isn't that Kirby isn't brilliant (because he is) but he doesn't enjoy reading. Tom doesn't either. It is a fight to get him to read for 20 minutes a night.

But Zachary - oh man, I LOVE that he LOVES to read!



And then we have Andrew. Most everything in Andrew's life has been a struggle. The majority of his motor skills (find and gross) are behind his peers (and always have been), he struggles with math and with language (while he can speak just about any word you ask he had very little pragmatic speech until recently). HOWEVER, THIS KID CAN READ! He is at age level for his pre-reading skills and, with his memory, he is able to pick up a book and read it right way. Of course, we are talking about Dick and Jane type books, but age level! He recognizes words all the time! HE IS AMAZING!

I started reading with them as soon as they were born. They have always seen me read. The library is an outing for us. They were taught that books are fun and they love them. Ah, I did something right :)

Oh and few bonus pics of my littlest man...this is what happens when Daddy has bath time duty!



Before I finished typing this post...Zachary informed me that he has finished his second book...I can't keep up!


A quicky...

Five For Fighting will be donating $.40 to Autism Speaks every time this video is viewed.


They are aiming for 10,000 hits, but I know that we can surpass this goal!

Take a minute and watch this video and then PLEASE pass it to your friends. If nothing else, you will raise awareness by passing this message along.

1 in 150 children are diagnosed with Autism. We have all been touched by Autism in some way, shape or form. Autism Speaks researches causes and treatments and raises awareness every day.

Help raise awareness, help fund research and treatment for children like my little man Andrew and the girl featured in this video, Claudia. Please help us surpass this goal and don't forget to pass this to your friends!



Hatred and the "N" word...

I started a new book. I hate my new book.

For some reason I feel the, unnecessary, need to finish this book. See it through till the end. No matter how horrible - I WILL GET THROUGH...at least I keep thinking that.

Then every time I pick it back up to make my way through another few (horrible) pages I think about all the good books this crappy one could be keeping me from.

This was another one of my finds from the Street Fair. I should have known by the title that it wasn't my style. I don't read trashy romance novels. This is a trashy romance novel that tries it's best to appear as something more intelligent by using lengthy paragraphs and lots of adjectives. In the end it just appears as wordy, boring and a bit disgusting.

I am not a prude by any sorts of the imagination (well, I am sure by some sorts...but not my sorts) and this book makes me uncomfortable. Not so much by describing things (or events) but more about the entire situation.

I keep thinking, "who does that", "that will never work", "oh, give me a break - they are actually going to go through with that"....

On top of it, this book was written by an African American man who, it seems, INSISTS on representing stereotypical African American relationships - complete with the "N" word. Nothing disgusts me much more than a human being, black or white, using that word. Even Wikipedia refers to that word as "pejorative" - and, in my eyes, it is.

Growing up I had no idea what that word meant. When I was about 8 years old we started getting "Fresh Air" kids. These are kids from the inner city that come to the "country" for a couple weeks or so during the summers. One year, one of the neighbor girls called one of our kids that name. I still had no idea what it meant until he bursts into tears and my father told us we couldn't play with her anymore.

James, our first and best Fresh Air kid, started coming when I was 8 and he was 10. To this day he comes to visit us during the summers. Now he brings his kids. I call him my brother, he calls me his sister. My parents are his, his kids are my nephews. It may seem that we are world apart (him living in the Bronx and me in Wolfeboro) but he is a part of me.

This past summer I downloaded a popular song of the internet and the "N" word was in it. Not once or twice but over and over and over. I loved that song and still do...but that word makes me so uncomfortable. Even hearing it makes me cringe.

I asked James and Nicole if it was ever appropriate for a white person to use that word - "NO"! I immediately felt so uncomfortable for even bringing it up I didn't get to ask why it was okay for a black person to use that word.

Don't they understand what a derogatory term it is? Why do young children grow up hearing their older brothers calling their "boys" that word? Don't they understand it is a slave term?

Thinking back about the neighbor girl...it just proves how hatred it taught. I never would have known that word because my parents NEVER said anything like that - especially not around us kids.

My boys amaze me. Andrew is SO blunt sometimes and just doesn't understand what things are and are not appropriate to say (once at Dunkin Donuts he asked, loudly, why the girl behind the counter had purple hair). However, neither Zachary or Andrew has EVER mentioned James and his family having a different skin color. It brings tears to my eyes to think about how openly they accept people that look so differently from us.

Now Zachary may know better. He knows that you don't point out people that are different than you. Andrew, however, doesn't. Andrew may never understand that. Andrew is the first to point out differences and he doesn't. It amazes me.

One of my very closest friends from high school is gay (for his privacy I will refer to him as "J"). Over the past year or two J and I have reconnected and started spending a whole lot of time together. When we hiked Mt. Major this fall he and Zachary became fast friends and hiked together the whole time.

Zachary never had any reason to question that J was different, he didn't bring boyfriends to the house. But recently Zachary and I had a talk about what being gay meant. He giggled and thought it was a little funny, I told him J was gay, he said "well, if he changed..." and I had to explain that gay people can't change. And then it was over. Not once since then has he mentioned it. He has seen J a number of times since then and never once acted or felt uncomfortable.

Hatred it taught. Sometimes you don't even realize that you are teaching it. Telling a joke that may be a bit off color, referring to someone as a "f#%" or the "N" word or calling a Muslim a "towel head" is taken by your children and stored for use at a later time.

I wonder what Dr. King would think about our men using that word so nonchalantly now...I wonder if he realized, during his "I Have a Dream" speech what he would be doing for, not only African Americans but every minority in our country.

The Civil Rights bill of 1964 states that "all persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin or sex". Thanks, in large part, to Dr. King, all races, religions and sexes are entitled to the same treatment and privilege.

While it took a long time to get here...now I have to really think if I want to support this man's use of the word by continuing to read this book....

Happy Birthday Dr. King!


Sledding at The Nick

Today was a perfect sledding day! It was warm and sunny, Zachary had a friend coming over so we decided to head out The Nick and take the boys sledding.

I worked this morning until 11:30. After my last client, as I was changing out of my work clothes, she came back in and asked if I could help her...she had gotten stuck. My office had a large U driveway. This time of year we only plow half of it. She didn't realize that and, somehow, got her H3 stuck. After a LOT of shoveling, some pushing and very little luck, two young men drove by and offered a "pull". Thankfully she got out quickly but it put me behind in our day.

We picked up Zachy's friend and finally got to The Nick at 1:30. The Nick is the local rec park. The fields are set in a valley of sorts. On the outer edge of the park are some HUGE hills. The only downfall is that it is a heck of a hike in this time of year, falling through the few feet of snow every step. The kids were also pretty worn out from climbing the hill to the top.

Some pictures:





Another family decided it was the perfect day to sled too and joined us at the top of the hill. In no time we had a great path heading down - the kids were flying! Zach even got a little sick to his stomach he was going so fast.

At 3:30, two hours and, at least one freezing butt later, it was time to head out. Every single one of us was scraped up because the snow was a little crusty, every one was freezing and every one was ready for hot cocoa!

One thing off our "things to do" list - though I hope it isn't the last time we go this winter!


The Kite Runner

I just finished another book. WOW!

The Kite Runner was recently released as a movie and I am not sure that I will watch it. I worry it may tarnish the wonderful thoughts I have as movies often do...

The story starts in Afghanistan in the 1970s and runs through present time. It is narrated by a man remembering his youth and telling the story of his life. Through his eyes you learn to love Afghanistan, their customs and their people.

The story is a mixture between a coming of age story, a story about a young man and his relationship with his father, a love story, a story of longing for a homeland that you knew and a heartbreaking tale of friendship and loss.

While it is a work of fiction, I learned so much! Until 9/11 what I knew of Afghanistan consisted of the National Geographic cover picture of the young Afghan woman - her eyes were, and still are, mesmerizing. But that issue was published in 1985 - I was 7 years old. While we were subscribers to the National Geographic, I wasn't old enough to read and/or comprehend...I just looked at pictures. I will remember that picture for the rest of my life.


After 9/11 what I knew of Afghanistan was not more than that...except what the media told us. When I heard the name Afghanistan I automatically thought Taliban, men with beards, dust, war, women in veils, fighting...now I will think of this young man and his story.

If you haven't read it, you MUST! If you have a desire to learn more about Afghanistan, it's people, their culture, you MUST read this book. This book was so amazing on so many levels!

Update on Sue

First off, thank you all for your thoughts and prayers! It means the world to me to have so many people that love and care about our family.

Sue is doing alright, though things have taken a turn since last I blogged...

On Wednesday January 9th Sue went in for a single mastectomy. They removed the sentinel node (essentially the first lymph node) during her mastectomy with the understanding that if the cancer had spread they would continue removing lymph nodes till they came out clear. Sue's sentinel node was clear, so they didn't have to go any further.

On Tuesday January 15th she went back to her doctor for test results from the surgery on the 9th. She was informed that the sentinel node was, in fact, not clean. She would have to go back into surgery the next day for lymph node removal. She was also informed that the test results have shown that she will, more than likely, need chemotherapy.

Wednesday the 16th Sue went back in for surgery. Once again they ran behind and she was just getting out of surgery around 7pm. While it is considered a day surgery, since it started so late and because she was having a really hard time managing the pain, Sue wasn't able to come home until yesterday afternoon.

I spoke with Sue this morning and she is still, amazingly enough, in good spirits. She said that this time was much harder on her pain wise, either that or the whole ordeal is finally catching up with her. She has an appointment with the oncologist on Tuesday the 29th at which point in time a plan of attack will be decided.

I know that both she and Dad are drained - emotionally and physically. I know it is killing Dad to see Sue in so much pain and I know it is killing Sue to know that she is putting Dad through the pain. What a vicious circle!

Thankfully, Sue's father and sisters are coming into town today (as long as the flight can land in Boston). I think this will be so helpful for everyone. Her family is as strong knit as mine. They rely heavily on each other. It will be good for Sue and Dad to have some more support and it will be good for Sue's father and sisters to be there with her.

Prayers are still in order. Healing green energy is needed. There is a long road ahead but I know that we can get through it.


Pedicures and afternoons to myself

My pedicurist hates me. Okay, she doesn't hate me, but she doesn't charge me nearly enough for the works she puts in on a monthly basis.

Let's back up a bit here....

About a year ago I started bartering with a local hairdresser. I give her a massage, she cuts my hair - no money exchanged. Unfortunately (or fortunately, as the case may be) her prices and mine don't jive. I charge a whole lot more than she does for her services.

Now I get my haircut every 3 1/2 weeks, a color every 7, I get a monthly pedicure (with paraffin), she waxes my eyebrows (yowch!) and she does all the boys hair as well. In turn, she gets a massage on a weekly basis.

I have my father's feet, meaning, my heels crack, the look awful and they are dry and disgusting. I never really paid much attention 'cause they look great from the top, just if you look at the bottom :) Then I started getting monthly pedicures. THEN I realized - this is what it is like to have nice feet.

Every month my poor pedicurist soaks my feet and gets out the file...after about 15 minutes she is breaking a sweat, asking someone to turn down the heat and I feel about 2 inches tall. She offered me a file to keep in the shower to do maintenance between appointments, here in which lies my dilemma...

I am a mother AND I work outside the house! When I am not chasing kids out of the refrigerator (or off of the refrigerator as the case may be) or away from the running washing machine ('"ooohhhh, Mommy, there's water going in" - seriously, if it didn't have so much potential to cause such a mess I might be able to stick him in front of it like the television) I am flying to work!!

My shower routine:
1) strip as quickly as possible, while turning on the water and searching for a towel, all the while screaming "Please, watch TV for 10 minutes, STAY OUT OF THE REFRIGERATOR and put the milk back...I SWEAR"
2) jump in, pray it isn't freezing or scalding, grab a bar of soap (if the child who was last in the shower didn't shove it down the drain) and lather and rinse as quickly as possible
3) grab the shower curtain to keep water off the floor "Andrew, get out, go watch TV, I am almost done, SERIOUSLY, YOU ARE NOT GOING TO DUNKIN DONUTS TODAY"
4) grab the 2 in 1 shampoo/conditioner (my hairdresser hates me, I know) lather, rinse
5) jump out, wrap a towel around me
6) put milk back in the fridge, close fridge door, scrape cooked macaroni off floor and throw it in the trash, find Andrew and PRAY he hasn't found a marker or his way outside.

If you think I exaggerate, I invite you to spend a morning in my household. I love my kids, I SWEAR I do. I chose to stay home with them (and it wasn't because I knew that any other human being would consider self mutilation after spending a day with them). I know these are the qualms of motherhood - and I really am okay with that. Am I asking too much, however, to have a normal shower routine?

About two months ago I had Kirby install a lock on the bathroom door. I think I have used it during a shower twice - and only when he is home (although it doesn't stop him from coming in and gracing me with his presence - meaning he comes in to use the toilet). 20 minutes, that is all I want! Argh!

Today I have a slow day. I don't have clients until this evening. Today I chose to have the nice, long, relaxing shower that I have been longing for all week. I got Andrew on the bus at 11:30 and hopped in. I think I was done by quarter of, heels and all. I have lost the ability to relax in the shower...

Ah, well. Some mothers lose the ability to see their toes (well, me too) others must lose the ability to relax in the shower...disappointing, but true.


Good Grief

I am an addict. There are few things in my life that I enjoy that I haven't been addicted to at some point in time or another. This ranges from food to online games to MySpace to the Presidential campaign to coffee to cigarettes to television to laundry even and most everything in between. Very rarely am I ever addicted to anything that is good for me (exercising, meditation or housekeeping).

No matter the addiction, it means there is a lack of balance. I know this and work hard at keeping myself in balance. Sometimes are better than others.

With the writer's strike I have been spending more time on the computer. Last night I decided it was time to get lost in a book rather than being lost online.

Around 8pm I grabbed a book I took out from the library back in December (yes, I have renewed it) and decided it was time to start reading it. At 3am I finished and now I can't wait to get back to the library and grab another one.

There was nothing spectacular about this book but I love getting lost in someone else's world. Sometimes it is so I can look and see that my life isn't all that bad, other times it is to get lost in the fairytale that other seem to live.

Last night was about feeling better about my life.

Sophie is a 36 year-old widow. This book, Good Grief, is about her journey through the year following the loss of her husband. She wants to be a good widow but instead goes to work in her bathrobe, had anxiety attacks and breaks dishes in her back yard.

As I said, it wasn't spectacular but it certainly made me recognize how lucky I am to have my family. To be raising these children with their father. To have Kirby here.

I love to go to the library and find books that haven't, necessarily, been recommended to me, things that I haven't heard about on Oprah. I feel like I am discovering something that is unknown to the rest of the world.

Tomorrow will be a snow day...Tuesday I will make it to the library again and hope to make a new discovery.


Planning the BIG "0-8"

In less than a month my baby, Zachary, will be turning the BIG Oh, Eight. It is exciting and terrifying all at the same time.

Zachary has had a hard time making (and keeping) friends since kindergarten. For his birthday in kindergarten the whole class was invited (NEVER AGAIN) - most came, but there were no bonds between he and any of the other kids.

He doesn't get invited very many places and when friends come over they tend to fight about what to do the whole time. I thought part of it was the "first born" complex (while Zachary isn't technically a first born, there is such an age difference between he and his older siblings it can seem like it). Or maybe even the "only child" complex - once again, there is a huge age difference between he and his older siblings and with Andrew the dynamics of the sibling relationship are so different. Many of the kids in his age group up here are only children or first born.

I also think that some of it has to do with he and his friends being left to their own devices. When we plan things out and they have structured activities there is a whole lot less fighting - they know what they are doing, there are fewer choices to get hung up on. But I also don't want to be the parent that is overly involved with her kid's life - I need to find a happy medium.

Then I thought it might be a boy thing - boys tend not to make as many lasting friendships as girls do and when they do it is later in life (at least this is what the school guidance counselor tells me). And I do remember that my brothers were very much the same way at that age (but I also remember it being heart breaking for me to watch my brothers not playing with other kids - and Alex tells me it was heartbreaking for him too).

None of these thoughts make it any easier on me when my little boy comes home and tell me that he played alone on the playground. It breaks my heart to think of my baby wandering around the playground all alone every day. His teachers tell me that they don't see any problems and that he seemed to be getting along with other kids just fine, but he tells me otherwise.

Anyway, over the past few months Zachary seems to have built a pretty good friendship with a boy in his class. They would talk on the phone for hours if I let them. Most every weekend they get together. While there are aspects of this relationship that I am not fond of (and will not discuss here) I push them all aside because my kid had a friend and that is all I care about.

On February 8th my little man is turning 8. I have been thinking very hard about what we can do with a couple/few kids that is inexpensive but still a lot of fun. Last year we took he and two friends bowling and out to lunch - it ended up costing us over $100 - I am not interested in spending that much. When we invited the class over in kindergarten we did tie-dye shirts which was a lot of fun but there were too many kids (and it is February so this is all indoors).

This year I am hoping for lots and lots and lots of snow so we can go sledding, we will do personal pizzas with English muffins, and we will do tie-dye. Since we are doing tie-dye and I want the kids to be able to go home with completed shirts it will have to be a sleep over. Have to? Well...I guess we will "have to" see about that one.

I told him he could invite two friends...then I remember that it was once told to me that a friendship of three isn't easy. You end up triangulating the friendship and, often times, two kids are getting along just fine and, accidentally, leaving the third out. But fours kids seems like a lot to me and now that I have told him two I can't go back on that and have only one...

I think that I may be over thinking all this...this is just a kid's birthday party, right? When does parenting get easier? When will I stop over thinking things and just do it?

I remember when a friend of mine was pregnant. She is a vegetarian and was feeling guilty about maybe not getting enough protein for the baby. I told her, "Welcome to motherhood. The guilt starts now and it never ends."

Why is it that we never feel that anything we do is enough? I think that may be a rhetorical question. I don't think there are really any answers for that.


Vigilance and advocacy! **UPDATED AGAIN**

I wanted to add one more thing...I know I am going a little blog crazy today, but this is SO important!

Today, my father's wife, is having a single mastectomy. Thankfully, the breast cancer was caught early and this should be a good sign. She was vigilant about her care since her sister was diagnosed with breast cancer about 2 years ago.

There is a chance she could come home today after the surgery but most likely tomorrow. After that she will be waiting for test results to see what the plan of attack is. Hopefully nothing more will need to be done and she can just take a few weeks to recoup!

For the past two years I have organized a team to hike Mount Major with a group called Expedition Inspiration to raise money for breast cancer research. In two years my group has raised over $2000! While this is amazing, and we all were so proud to have done it, I never thought it would hit this close to home.

Please keep her in your prayers over the next few days, send waves of healing green light, donate a few dollars to breast cancer research and be vigilant about YOUR care! You are your best advocate and had she not pushed for better care, it would not have been found as early as it was! While doctors may have best of intentions, you know your body better than anyone. You are the only person who can advocate for your care so be the best advocate you can!

**Updated 1/9/08**

Dad called to let me know that Sue was going in for surgery around 2:30. It was later than planned and expected to last about 2 hours. He called again around 4:30 or so to let me know that she had come out of surgery and was doing well. Since everything got started later they did not expect her to come home this evening.

Thanks for all your prayers!!

**Second Update 1/10/08**

I spoke with Dad this morning and Sue was still at the hospital. They were working on discharge papers since she had accomplished all her "goals".

Sue called me this evening to let me know that she was home. She sounded in, amazingly, good spirits. I'm not sure if it was just her and her amazing personality or if the vicatin really is that good :) She is looking forward to seeing the boys and we hope to bring them down this weekend. Her sisters and father will also be up from Florida next weekend and I think that will be really good for her.

I haven't spoken much about Sue here, but she really is an amazing woman. She has traveled all over the world (including Antarctica and Alaska), she was in the Air National Guard until last year when she retired, the year before she was overseas in Iraq. She is great with the kids and they absolutely love their "Nana Sue". And most importantly, she makes my father incredibly happy. She has accepted his family - crazy as we are - with open arms and has made every effort to ensure that we have been included in everything from her tour in Iraq to their beautiful wedding and everything in between.

Thank you, again, for all your thoughts and prayers! Keep praying! We expect test results on Tuesday that will determine the next course of action.


I am not a huge fan of country, but listen every once in a while. Today seems like a good country day. Spirits are a bit down in the Wolfeboro camp and besides all that, it is a rainy dreary day.

I have heard this song before and I really like it. It really resonated with me today:

Toby Keith Love Me If You Can

Sometimes think that war is necessary
Every night I pray for peace on earth
I hand out my dollars to the homeless
But believe that every able soul should work

My father gave me my shotgun
That I’ll hand down, to my son
Try to teach him everything it means

I’m a man of my convictions
Call me wrong, call me right
But I bring my better angels to every fight
You may not like where I’m going
But you sure know where I stand
Hate me if you want to, love me if you can

I stand by my right to speak freely
But I worry about what kids learn on TV
And before all of the bedlam turn to angry words and hate
Sometimes we should just agree to disagree

And I believe that Jesus
Looks down here and sees us
And if you asked him he would say

I’m a man of my convictions
Call me wrong, call me right
But I bring my better angels to every fight
You may not like where I’m going
But you sure know where I stand
Hate me if you want to, love me if you can

I’m a man of my convictions
Call me wrong, call me right
But I bring my better angels to every fight
You may not like where I’m going
But you sure know where I stand
Hate me if you want to, love me if you can

Maybe a bit corny of me today, but I just love that. I am a woman of my convictions and you do know where I stand. I believe in freedom of speech but that doesn't mean that I want my children subjected to YOUR speech. And while we have the right to defend ourselves and sometimes it is necessary, I also know that sometimes we are too quick to decide what is necessary rather than agreeing to disagree.

"How To Be Really Alive"

After a VERY long night, ended with disappointment, I have decided to post something just for the occasion. I have been saving this post for a time I needed a little pick me up, and today is just that day!

The following hangs above our toilet at work. It is written by Sark:

How to Be Really Alive



I love this because it reminds me to take notice of the little things and to remember that miracles are all around us. All I need to do is open my eyes and see them....


I'm so excited and I just can't hide it!

I promised myself that I would keep my political thoughts out of this blog. They seem to have overtaken my other blog and I have a specific place that I can blog about my role in politics...


Obama just took Iowa! The results are in and all the hard work we have done has made a difference! According to the latest numbers he has taken Iowa by 6%!

This is SO huge and is going to make all the hard work my Wolfeboro group is doing this weekend SO MUCH EASIER and SO MUCH MORE FUN!

I am not out celebrating with my people...I have a migraine and I know I should be sleeping...I am just TO FREAKING EXCITED!!

Baby, its cold outside!

This morning the boys joined me in some "visibility" campaigning. We met a group of local supporters "uptown" and held signs and chanted and FROZE!

Andrew totally got into it. He started the chants and held the signs like a pro. He was so proud to be there!

Zachary is less than sure. Since Dad isn't sure who he is voting for Zachary has decided that he isn't either (not that they can actually vote, but they do come with us to the polls every year). He stood with us, but refused a sign.

We decided it was time to go when I could no longer feel my legs. On our trek back home Andrew kept screaming that his chin hurt - poor kid was frozen to the bone!

Monica would say I was brainwashing them and that is fine. More important than them voting the way I want them to vote is that they get out and vote period.

The following is from a blog I posted elsewhere:

In a 2002 study it was found the children whose parents take them to the polls are twice as likely to vote!

My father was involved in local politics when we were younger. He was on the school board for a number of terms and I remember him running for city council and holding a sign outside the polls at the ripe age of 13 (he wasn't elected - I still harbor resentment against the man that beat him...perhaps it is time to move on).

Before politicians paid to have professional signs made, he hand cut and painted enormous lawn signs for his friends that were running for office. In fact, he still has the "stencils" hanging on the wall in his barn.

He voted in the same building all 5 of us kids went to elementary school. Every election day he came and got one of us to head into the polls and vote with him. He never let me see who he was voting for, he told me it was "private". But he instilled in us how voting is a privilege that we are given and that as citizens it is our responsibility to get out and make an informed vote.

Each of us (my siblings and I) are registered voters. One of my brothers was a member or the "Young Democrats of America" - that same brother has been escorted from a city council meeting or two for voicing his opinions (or - as he says - the FACTS) a bit too loudly. My youngest brother (19) knows more about politics/government then all of us put together. He is a "hardcore" republican. He and I don't discuss politics much. We are both too opinionated and hardheaded. :)

Both of my young children come to the polls with me. I tend to alternate - although it is much easier to take my 7 year old since my 5 year old has the attention span of a mouse :)

Last year, at a local election, there were over 30 articles on the ballot. I was familiar with a few, but I had to read every single one to decide my vote. It took everything I had to keep my 5 year old out of the next booth :) But I know that when they are 18 they will be registered to vote.

So, you want your kids to vote? Take them to the poll! Talk to them about politics! Get them involved in any way you can! Show them you are informed and show them you care about your privilege to vote!


Grateful for 2007

Thinking about another year passed...many wonderful things happened in 2007 and I want to have a memory of them:

-Andrew "graduated" preschool and started kindergarten in a "typical" classroom.

-We FINALLY got an OFFICIAL PDD-NOS diagnosis for Andrew.

-Zachary played baseball and Kirby and I were able to help coach the team.

-Zach's team also won all but one game.

-We moved!!!!

-We LOVE Andrew's aide and his teacher.

-Zachary's teacher is a PERFECT match for him - she totally gets him - we are SO blessed to have her.

-Tommy took driver's ed.

-My sister and her husband have "passed" all their adoption paperwork/background checks and we are officially awaiting the arrival of a baby!

-Alex got engaged to Andrea - man, we have been waiting!

-We spent some great time with James (my "big brother" from NYC) and his family over the summer.

-Zachary raised over $200 for children's cancer research with his lemonade stand over the summer.

-Zachary, Josiah, Leana and I raised over $800 for breast cancer research.

-We have made it through an entire year without a single SERIOUS sick visit for either of the boys - and no hospital stays or surgeries!!

-We spent a great long weekend up at the family camp.

-Kirby and I met and shook hands with a presidential candidate.

-Zachary was able to meet and shake hands with a presidential candidate.

-We made it through a full year without Kirby having to go to the ER :)

-My business is thriving and I survived my first year!

-Although my father's wife, Sue, was diagnosed with breast cancer, it was found early and her chances of beating it are VERY high (we appreciated any prayers for her surgery on January 9th).

-I reconnected with old friends from high school.

-My grandfather celebrated his 80th birthday and is still in, relatively, good health.

-We have a WONDERFUL neighbor whom we will miss horribly when she moves in March!

-Allyson had a healthy baby girl.

-I have WONDERFUL, AMAZING friends, especially Nicki, who took our "mutt" when we moved to a "no dogs allowed" place. We were all so relieved to know he was going to a good home.

-Andrew has made some amazing friends around town from Dunkin Donuts to the bank to the post office and everywhere in between. We have met some truly wonderful and understanding people who love my little man.

-Kirby and I got to see Oprah!!

-I have made some great new friends.

-I have gotten involved in a political campaign and I am having a great time with it!

While I am sure there are a million more things, this is what I am able to come up with right now. I may continue adding to this as the week goes on.

It is bittersweet to see another year end. I heard some young women (VERY early 20s) talking about how time flies recently. I told them that until they have children, they have NO idea how fast time flies...it is bittersweet to watch them grow and to know that, soon enough, they will not want me around anymore. Soon enough, they will be having children of their own. Soon enough, I won't have anyone waking me in the middle of the night to say I love you. Bittersweet....


And a New Year's blog...

Two blogs in one day? I know, "crayz", huh?

We have some great family traditions. They are never anything truly spectacular, but the kids look forward to them every year and they expect them to happen.

Every 4th of July we watch the parade (always in front of Carpenter School) and we head down to Brewster Field around 5:30 (the fireworks don't start until 9), we sit in the same spot, eat dinner, play Frisbee and wait for the fireworks while every other family fills in around us.

New Year's Eve is no exception. In years past, before Xander was born, we use to spend the evening with Nicki and Rich. We played games, acted silly and had a great "adult" night. Of course, Nicki and Rich have moved to neverneverland...so now it is a completely kid full evening (which is just as much fun).

Wolfeboro has one of the oldest "First Night" events in NH. While we have never bought the buttons to attend the festivities downtown, we do attend the parade and the fireworks every year (maybe next year). This year, being so close to town, it was nice to be able to walk down and back without fighting traffic.

This year we were also able to add some snowman making with all the snow. It was, really, the first good snowman snow. I didn't get any pictures and the guy who plows the sidewalks knocked him over this afternoon...we will have to try again soon.

The parade is great! Traffic stops (not because the police block it off, but because they don't have a choice, the crowds fill the streets). As the parade passes the bystanders join in and march with them down to the docks. They have HUGE "puppets" and dragons and noise makers and drums. It is so much fun!

As soon as the parade hits the docks the fireworks start. You CAN'T have a bad seat for the fireworks! They last about 15 minutes (not too long) and they are a GREAT show. Andrew, of course, cried when they ended "THEY AREN'T OVER" (he also referred to the Hispanic man standing behind us as Barack Obama - oh the horror!!).

We order Chinese food every year. I don't know why we don't learn. We always order AFTER the fireworks. Of course, everyone else in town is ordering at the same time so we have to wait for an hour.

After Chinese food we watched a movie, put Andrew to bed by 9pm and waited for the ball to drop. About 2 or 3 years ago Zachary decided he was old enough to wait up. While I am not sure this is true, I don't figure it is a big deal for him to stay up that late one night a year. So, he waits with us.

Last night, Tom was still with my dad in Rochester (Tom, Dad and Sue went to camp through the week). Zachary was bored, I was tired and Dad fell asleep on the floor for a while.

We played some UNO, watched Dick Clark (who makes me cry now...the man that NEVER changed in my life time has changed...).

Finally the ball dropped, we did our "champagne" toast (sparkling grape juice) and watched the midnight fireworks from the bedroom.

In bed by 12:30am for Zachy and 1am for Kirby and I.

Ah, the holidays have passed. It is always bittersweet. While I may be a Scrooge, I do look forward to the holidays. When they are over it seems like all we have to look forward to is a LONG, COLD winter.

We did go bowling this week (which we do rarely since it costs an arm and a leg for a family to go). Zachary won...Andrew and I tied (seriously, that is how bad I am). We had a great time, ate dinner at McDonald's and tried to wear them out in the playhouse (to no avail).

Last year we did some sledding at The Nick (which was GREAT) and Kirby started snowmobiling with the kids. We have a second snowmobile this year, which means they can go on longer trips together.

It takes some creative thinking, but we are learning how to enjoy the long winter months without spending too much money and without killing each other...

We do have birthdays coming up and Zachary is making some great friends at school so he has "play dates" nearly every weekend...I am sure that the winter will fly by just like this past year did!

The long awaited (?) Christmas blog

Another snow day here in the heart of downtown Wolfeboro. We have so much snow that there is no longer any place to put it. Yesterday we woke to nearly a foot and today we are expected to get at least that. We officially hit the snowiest December since they started recording snow fall. NH has gotten over 43 inches - we broke a record that was nearly 150 years old!

The boys (and I) are just starting to feel the effects of this winter break...one more day. They are grouchy and out of their routine, as am I.

But this blog is devoted to our Christmas! What a great day!

As I have previously mentioned, Kirby and I are both a bit Scroogy. We procrastinate with the decorating and the shopping, we wrap presents the night before and we both HATE spending the amount of money that we do each year.

However, this year was a bit of an exception. I had done a bit of shopping before our dreaded night out (we do ALL the shopping in one evening) and our wrapping (and cleaning up) was done by 12:30am (Christmas day).

We have a few family traditions every year. Aside from the traditions outside the house, every Christmas Eve we read The Night Before Christmas and The Polar Express. This year Zachary decided he was going to read The Night Before Christmas (if you haven't noticed before, it can be a hard book to read - not so much the words, but the language). He did a great job! I read them the Polar Express, we put out cookies and carrots (along with a note for Santa) and then it was bedtime (8pm).


Of course, with two incredibly excited boys, bedtime was an adventure to say the least. At 10pm, Zachary's 100th time from his room, he informed me "MOMMY, THIS IS SERIOUS"..."WHAT, Zachary"...."I just saw Rudolph's nose AND I heard sleigh bells"..."Cool Zachy, sounds like you better hurry up and fall asleep then, you know Santa skips past houses where the kids are awake"...."Well, you better go to bed too, Mommy"..."ZACHARY, BED".

Finally, around 10:30pm or so, both boys asleep, Daddy and I got to work. We wrapped and wrapped and wrapped and watched the marathon of "A Christmas Story" through the whole thing (I LOVE that movie). We were wrapped, cleaned up and in bed by 1am.

The results:



The boys were told that they were not allowed out of bed until 8am and that anyone caught sneaking would be in SERIOUS trouble. Of course, I woke up at 7ish to Zachary tiptoeing back INTO his room...he claims he was going potty. At 7:59 I told him he could wake Andrew up.

"Andrew, ANDREW"..."IS SANTA HERE????"...."Noooo, it's morning"..."PRESENTS!!!!!!" Andrew was SO excited that he could barely breath. He was SHAKING from head to toe! It was priceless! Of course, Kirby took his sweet time getting dressed to go downstairs....

By 8:05am everyone was in the living room ready to start opening presents. Zachary got the first gift of Christmas. And since he threw such a fit about it, we made sure it was a good one...a package of underwear :) He was less than impressed.

For the first 20 minutes Andrew cried with every present he opened. ALL he wanted for Christmas was a Tony Stewart car (those who don't follow, Tony Stewart is a NASCAR racer who is sponsored by Home Depot). With every present we heard "THIS IS NOT WHAT I WANTED". Finally, we caved and gave him the $4 gift...he was PSYCHED! Next year, I swear, that is all he is going to get...

Less than 30 minutes later, the living room completely trashed, every single present and all 5 stockings were opened.

A few pictures from the event - to forewarn you, though, Andrew is not a PJ wearer (they "bother" him) - you will have to excuse the near nudity:

Zachary with the book that Santa got late notice on...he was incredibly lucky that Santa was able to find a copy 5 minutes before the store closed.

Andrew with Tony Stewart...seriously $4 WITH SHIPPING!

Daddy with a gift card that somehow got put in the trash...there was an all out search for about an hour!

Zachary with his two favorite toys - Webkinz - they are all the rage, you know! Thanks, especially, to Xander for the reindeer!

We spent the rest of Christmas day lounging around, watching a few of the movies the kids got (Santa brought them some of the ORIGINAL "Herbie the Lovebug" movies) and watching "A Christmas Story" again and again. Oh, and, of course, figuring out those Webkinz...along with every other kid in the United States (their sites were down for a while).

I worked most of the day on Wednesday and that evening we went down to my mother's to celebrate. The kids, once again, were overloaded with toys, but incredibly happy (no pictures, waiting for Mom to send some).

The kids say that they had a great Christmas, they all got "everything" they wanted (aside from Zach who requested an IPod Nano which I consider to be a pretty extreme gift for a 7 year old). They have spent the week playing with their new toys, discovering old ones and enjoying our time with family.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday as well!

Also, a photo of Tom making his handprint for Alex's gift:


Happy New Year!

I hope you all have a wonderful, safe and happy new year! I am safe and happy now that it is 12:40am and I can go to bed :)

Updates tomorrow - I promise :)