Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Menu 2009
Cider Brined Roast Turkey
Sausage Stuffing
Macaroon-Sweet Potato Bake
Fontina Stuffed Potatoes
Glazed Carrots w/Pistachios
Green Bean Casserole
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Apple-Cranberry Pie w/Crumbled Walnut Topping
Pumpkin Vanilla Bourbon Tart
In school on Tuesday, Jack’s teacher asked them each to say something about Thanksgiving and something for which they are thankful and she wrote it down. Jack told her, “We are having a big turkey for Thanksgiving. It’s in the fridge to cool down.” On Sunday morning I told him I had to go take the turkey out of the freezer and put it in the fridge. I believe that’s why he thinks it is cooling down.
He then told his teacher that he is thankful for Emily. The teacher told me she thought it was so cute that Jack was thankful for his sister. At which point I had to explain – “Oh, no, her name is Casey. Emily is a train from Thomas and Friends and Jack’s Nana is going to bring him that train for Thanksgiving so they can play trains while I cook dinner.”
Happy Thanksgiving!

How hungry are you?

Yesterday afternoon.

Jack: Mommy, I’m starving.
Me: You can have some apple slices. I just cut them up.
Jack: No thanks. I’m think I’m going to be starving in a little bit when the muffins are done. I’m not starving now.
I never cease to be amazed by his eating habits. There are many things he claims he doesn’t like, but I don’t think I believe him any more. It appears to be more of a matter of preference.
For months and months, he’s claimed not to like milk anymore. I offer water or milk with dinner and he picks water. Actually a lot of times he picks juice, but gets water. On Friday night though, he asked for milk and it has been his new favorite drink. He just asked why he couldn’t have some up in his room for bedtime. Go figure.

The Most Fearful Time of Year

On Wednesday, Jenn and I went to the mall with the kids so she could do some shopping. I spent about 2.5 seconds shopping and the children in the stroller started whining and crying to go play. Luckily I had done some online research prior to entering the stores and within that 2.5 seconds I actually found a dress for a Christmas party. (I was like Superman in the changing room.)

The mall was already in its Christmas splendor and I happened to see Santa Claus down one level. I excitedly mentioned it to Jack and he said, “Why is he here so early? I don’t want Santa to be here yet. I don’t want to go see him.”
As we walked around he kept asking why Santa was here already. I tried giving him various reasons as to why Santa was here so darn early…so kids can tell them what they want and he can get the elves working on it…so kids can get their pictures taken with him for Christmas cards…because it’s a lot warmer here than the North Pole and Santa was tired of the snow. Nothing seemed to satisfy his insatiable curiosity.
While I was telling all these tall tales, Jack was doing a little thinking on his own and he finally decided that “it must be Christmastime for someone else Mommy – that’s why Santa is here already.”
Every year since his first Christmas, Jack has gotten more scared of Santa. He didn’t even want to see the guy when I mentioned he was at the mall already. I believe we will forgo the $25 to get a picture of crying kids with Santa this year. I think it would be a physical struggle to get Jack anywhere near Jolly Old Saint Nick.
There is a benefit to this fear though. He may not want to get up close and personal with Santa, but he does want to get some gifts from him. Lest he see Santa on Christmas Eve, Jack has informed us that he wants to be in his bed and asleep with his door closed all the way when Santa brings the presents. I couldn’t ask for anything more on Christmas Eve. And hopefully that means he will stay in his bed until his normal waking hour. I fear the day that they are so excited they can’t fall asleep and they wake up really early.

Curious about Christmas

Jack has started requesting Christmas songs for his bedtime songs. Tonight he found a Christmas book on his shelves and said we must have forgotten to put it away last Christmas but then he said, “But it’s almost Christmas so I guess we can read it now.” So we read it and sang some songs.

Just before I was leaving his room, he said, “Do we have a timsy?”
“A what?”
And then I thought he said it was something that Nana had.
“No, Mommy, a chimsey that Santa comes down.”
“Oh, yes, we have a chimney. It goes down into our fireplace.” Even though we really don’t have one because it’s just a gas fireplace.
“And Santa comes down that?”
“Yes, he is special and can come down the chimney to deliver gifts.”
“But isn’t there a fire in there?”
“Well we’ll make sure there is no fire on Christmas so Santa doesn’t get hurt.”
“Oh. Yeah because we haven’t had a fire in a long long time. There used to be a little fire in the logs but it’s not there anymore because Daddy hasn’t turned it on yet. It was a long time ago, three days ago, when we had a little fire but we’re not going to have one until after Christmas now.”
“Okay, Jack, Good Night.”
He tends to ramble on about things when he is tired…and it’s a lot of fun to listen.

The Weekend Escape Part 2: A Tale of Two Weekends

To describe what I was doing last weekend at the Manic Mommies Escape, I thought I’d compare this weekend to last weekend.

This Friday, I went to the gym and the post office and otherwise stayed home and played with the kids. I made grilled cheese and sweet potatoes for dinner.
Last Friday, I spent the day traveling. I flew out of Philadelphia airport enroute to San Francisco airport at 7:45am. On what was kind of a non-stop flight, we stopped in Chicago to drop off a sick flight attendant, we stopped in Denver to pick up some more passengers and we finally landed in LA where I was able to deplane. At least I met two wonderful ladies on the flight. I can’t think of a time when I’ve chatted for a whole flight with strangers.
I caught another flight into SF that was delayed by fog. I finally landed about an hour and a half later than scheduled and picked up my rental car. Luckily, I was just in time to get stuck in rush hour traffic on the Oakland Bay Bridge en route to Napa.
By the time I got to Napa, I had been traveling for 16 hours. I was apprehensive about getting there late and not knowing anybody when I finally arrived. However, I was quickly directed to the free drinks and then out to check in and get my badge. I just sat myself down with a few ladies who were waiting in the lounge, introduced myself and had instant friends.
The highlight of Friday was the comedy show. The show was called One Funny Mother by Dena Blizzard. I was laughing so hard that tears were coming down my face. I also appreciated the huge array of Dove Chocolate we could just dig into and the fruits and veggie hors d’oeurves. There were also choco’tinis which were the signature drink of the night. It was good but a little rich once I’d already inhaled a lot more chocolate.
Now on to Saturday. This Saturday was another day in the house. We got the dog out for a desperately needed walk, even walking the long loop around the lake in windy, misty weather. I checked out damage from the storm. It was mostly limited to trampolines (3 of them!) and a few pieces of fencing. In the afternoon, I got crazy and rearranged toys! Dinner consisted of yogurt, pasta, peanut butter crackers and fresh from the oven french fries. (By the time the fries were ready, the kids didn’t even want any, so they were purely my guilty pleasure. But they weren’t even that good.)
Last Saturday was a little different. I attempted to sleep in but sleeping in these days is 8am and that’s 5am on the west coast. I managed to lounge in bed for another few hours. Hotel breakfast came along with another moment of introducing myself to random strangers and making some new friends.
Amy Nobile & Trisha Ashworth, the authors of “I’d Trade My Husband for a Housekeeper” and “I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids” had a seminar that was amusing and interesting. Then I went to book club with the author of “The Wednesday Sisters,” Meg Waite Clayton.
The afternoon was a wine tour of the valley with stops at two wineries. We boarded plush coaches and I got my first views of the Napa Valley’s wineries and beautiful scenery. We had lunch at the first winery, Flora Springs and got to tour their caves and taste a 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon out of two different barrels – one American Oak and the other French Oak. I was impressed that I could actually taste the difference. At our second winery, Rutherford, we got a more in-depth look at how they actually make the wine and gorgeous views while we tasted.
For dinner, I met up with a group of 7 new ladies that I had never met and we had a great time at Farm. It was a delicious meal with great company.
On Sunday in Napa, there were a few seminars in the morning that I wanted to go to. I was sitting in the first one when I got a headache and started feeling nauseous. I ran back to my room and was sick. I felt pretty miserable for a couple of hours and finally felt better after lying in bed. I don’t know if it was a touch of food poisoning or what. I was very relieved that I was feeling well enough to check out and drive back to San Francisco but I was upset at missing the last few sessions. I didn’t have to be in SF at any particular time, so I did some outlet shopping on the way back. I wasn’t feeling the greatest but when you don’t have many opportunities to shop by yourself, you go anyway.
I was on a plane back to Philly on Monday morning, super early. It was a great weekend away and everyone was very friendly and fun to meet. I think traveling to the west coast for only a weekend might have been a bit much and required a lot more planning than I had intended but overall, I’m glad I went. I can’t wait to hear where it’s going to be next year and I’ll definitely recruit some of my friends to go.

Storm Footage

I have to interrupt the story of the weekend getaway to put up some pictures of the Never-Ending November Nor’easter that we’re having. (I added the Never-Ending part myself.) Sure, I could probably write two posts tonight, but there are a lot of shows just waiting for me in the DVR and I have to cook popcorn.
Anyway, it has been rainy and windy since Wednesday. I don’t know how many inches of rain we’ve gotten, but it’s a lot. There is a pond across the street that is several feet higher than it normally is. Sorry I don’t have any actual numbers on that either.
After pouring for 2 days straight, the storm drains were starting to back up last night. At one point our street was a river although it only lasted a couple hours. I didn’t even have time to get the canoe out. However, I did think water might start coming up the driveway and eventually into the garage. I wondered at what point I should do something. If it was going to flood, I probably would have been asleep anyway. So, I started worrying about all the things that were on the garage floor and I went out to be proactive and move some things. I brought Jack’s painting easel inside and moved Tugger’s dog food up on the steps. And then I decided that I would just take pictures of the rest of the things and let insurance take care of it if anything happened. Apparently the dog food and easel are my most prized possessions in the garage. Even I find it a strange couple of items that I decided to rescue. I just figured there was no need to let that easel get wet when we normally store it in the house anyway. And the dog food would have made a big mess. And the dog would have been hungry.
Speaking of the dog, she hasn’t enjoyed this rain/wind quarantine and was running around the house trying to get energy out. I even played tug of war with her today to burn some of her energy.
We were able to get out of the house today and went to the gym and post office. Apparently a lot of people had mail to get out. It bothers me that going to the post office has to become a stressful event because there are two children in tow. There are so many things they want to touch and so many things I have to tell them not to touch. Finally they found a couple of chairs and that is pretty good entertainment for them.
On the way home we went the “back way” which was covered with water. I turned around and took another back way…which was also covered with water in spots but not as much. I could have just taken the DRY (ie no standing water) main road but I didn’t want to bother the kind police man who was directing traffic at the light to let him know I was just going to my development and wasn’t going to try to cross the bridge that’s been shut down for days. The kids enjoyed watching the water splash up the side of the car. In fact, Jack said we were just like a duck going through the water. In my head, I kept hearing the voice of a woman I overheard while showering at the gym – “Don’t put the brakes on. Just keep moving. People don’t know that, but you have to keep moving.” Excellent advice. I believe that’s what ducks do.
Anyway, here are some pictures. If you’ve never seen these ponds in the first place, then it probably doesn’t look much different for you. These are for Pat, who is out to sea and in his own water world.
The little pond near the entrance to our community. Don’t worry, the fountain is still going strong in the middle of this pond.
This trampoline used to be in the yard across the street. It blew over a fence to get here.
The pond nearest our house. That fence normally isn’t under water. The ducks were having a great time here today.
The nearest house just put up a little retaining wall in the spring. It’s about 3 feet under water now. There is a little sign in the water near the middle house – that’s where the big drainage pipe is…it’s completely submerged.
I’m very lucky to be living where we do. Many other people in this area have had a lot of damage from the water. It’s been quite the storm.

The Weekend Escape Part 1

Last weekend, I hopped on a plane and jetted out to Napa Valley, California for a getaway weekend with 150 other moms…that I didn’t know. I went to Manic Mommies Escape ’09. The Manic Mommies are Erin and Kristen, a couple of ladies from Massachusetts who produce a podcast every week about raising their kids and the “joys” of parenting. Sometimes they have guests on their show, from pediatricians to authors of parenting books to other moms. Other times they just sit and chat. Either way, it is a great show and they always make me laugh.

I started listening to Manic Mommies when Jack was about 5 months old. He had decided that I was the only one who could hold him before bedtime and that he needed to be held until he fell asleep. This would seem to take for – ever. I would have to wait until he started twitching and relaxing and then I’d wait until that was all done and then I’d wait a little longer, just in case. (A few long months later we let him cry it out and after a couple tough nights, he became very easy to put to bed. A different story these days.)
After many nights of being frustrated with how long I had to hold Jack, Pat suggested that I listen to my iPod while I was holding him. My nice, new, expensive iPod that had barely been used in the year that I’d owned it. It turned out to be a great idea. I went to iTunes and searched for podcasts about moms and stumbled across Manic Mommies. I have been listening to them ever since.
They started holding a yearly Manic Mommies Escape for listeners to get away and meet other moms without their children. The first one was in 2007 in Newport, RI. I would have loved to have gone to that one, but we were just getting ready to move up there a month later. Last year it was a cruise in the Caribbean and we had to commit in June, before Pat showed up to his ship and had any idea of his schedule. Now that I think about it, I would have had a broken foot anyway and would have had to cancel.
This year, I decided I was going, no matter what I had to do to get there and where it was. It turned out to be in Napa Valley and I was very excited since I’d never been there.
To be continued…

How a 3 year old plays hide and seek

First he plays in the pantry and manages to wedge himself in there and shut the door completely.

Then he comes out and says that he wants to play hide and seek and asks if Mommy could count. It’s quite possible that instead of asking, he demands that Mommy count, depending on how whether he’s remembered his manners or not.
Mommy starts counting (while in the kitchen making dinner) and he proceeds to go into the pantry and shut the door.
When Mommy is done counting, she pretends that she can’t find him. (An option here is to have a 21 month child clinging to the Mommy while she is trying to make dinner AND look for hidden 3 year old.) Mommy pretends to look in various rooms and asks like she can’t find the child. Meanwhile, 3 year old is in the pantry saying, “I’m in here, Mommy!”
Finally Mommy opens the door and pretends she can’t see him and he jumps out to tell her where he was hiding the whole time, quite proud of himself.
The options are endless…
– he could hide in the same spot three times in a row
– he could move to a different closet and hide in there three times in a row
– he could find a great hiding place but then play with a loud game while hiding there
– he could hide in the same spot you just left
Mommies should also get a turn at hiding (with or without clingy sibling in her arms). Mommies preparing to hide should find a good magazine and a good hiding place and expect to hear, “Where are you Mommy?” dozens of times. You can either call out clues or let him look for long periods of time while you catch up on US Weekly or the Target Christmas catalog.
3 year old hide-and-seek – a great game for a rainy afternoon!

Monkey See Monkey Cough

On the way home from the Little Gym last night, Jack was making funny coughing noises in the backseat. I believe he was trying to be a coughing monkey because it sounded like “ooh ooh aah aah” but he coughed it out. Not one to miss out on any opportunity to imitate, especially when it’s fun sounds, Casey also joined in with some monkey coughing.

Then, Jack said, “I guess the monkey is getting sick, Mommy.” After a long pause he then said, “I’m just falling apart.” At which point I started laughing. It was a good note to end the day on. I’m not sure where he came up with that, but it was funny.
Tonight, I opened the mail at the table and Tugger’s city registration tag was in one of the envelopes. Jack was curious about it and asked what it was. I said, “It’s Tugger’s registration tag. She’s legal now.”
And from that, Jack came up with the following statements…
“Can I see Tugger’s legal now, Mommy?”
“Oh no Mommy, Tugger’s legal just fell on the floor. Can you get it?”
“Tugger, this is your legal. You have to wear it.”

What’s Cute and What’s Not

After further consideration, I realized that Nerds are probably exactly the same as they were 20 years ago – it’s just that I no longer find tiny clumps of purple sugar called Nerds all that appealing. And that’s about all I have to say about that.

Anyway, I thought I’d write a few things about Casey tonight –
What’s cute – she copies every single thing that Jack says in her cute little voice. If Jack says, “I’m hungry” then Casey says, “I’m hungry.” If Jack says he wants to go on the potty, the Casey says she wants to go on the potty despite the fact that she doesn’t.
What’s not cute – her new obsession with ripping things apart, specifically anything cardboard that she can peel the layers apart. So far she’s gotten two library books, some board game pieces, and several of her own books. She also peeled the picture off of one of Jack’s wooden puzzle pieces. Jack is also not a big fan of this phase.
What’s cute – how excited she is to jump on Jack’s bike and ride down the driveway. She can’t reach the pedals yet, but she just uses her feel to propel herself. As soon as the garage door opens, she heads for the bike and takes off.
What’s not cute – the fact that she heads for the street once she gets on the bike. She really likes the little hill at the end of the driveway and she’s not one for staying up by the garage.
And that concludes my first installment of “What’s Cute and What’s Not.”