Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Molly and I are still going strong with our Molly and Mommy Mega Mania Miraculous Magical Read Aloud streak. Today is the 206th day of the streak and we have read 13 books together and I don't see it stopping any time soon. Last night we started the fourth Mary Poppins book, Mary Poppins in the Park and then Molly wants me to read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  She has a plan.

The last book we finished was A Snicker of Magic and I do have to say, I really love this book. 

Here is the book description on Natalie Lloyd's website.

Midnight Gulch used to be a magical place, a town where people could sing up thunderstorms and dance up sunflowers. But that was long ago, before a curse drove the magic away. Twelve-year-old Felicity knows all about things like that; her nomadic mother is cursed with a wandering heart.

But when she arrives in Midnight Gulch, Felicity thinks her luck's about to change. A "word collector," Felicity sees words everywhere---shining above strangers, tucked into church eves, and tangled up her dog's floppy ears---but Midnight Gulch is the first place she's ever seen the word "home." And then there's Jonah, a mysterious, spiky-haired do-gooder who shimmers with words Felicity's never seen before, words that make Felicity's heart beat a little faster.

Felicity wants to stay in Midnight Gulch more than anything, but first, she'll need to figure out how to bring back the magic, breaking the spell that's been cast over the town . . . and her mother's broken heart.

It's a great story with lots of colorful characters. One that stood out to me though was Florentine. Florentine carries around her heavy burdens, literally. She walks with a heavy bag that holds all her burdens. In chapter 14 we learn Florentine's story, how when she was a kid the only place she wanted to be was up in a tree and read herself a good story. The story words were the only things that steadied her soul. But then she had to go out into the big wide world to find her own story. But the family had burdens. Florentine's grandmother kept these burdens in a cupboard. She said that the burdens kept the family safe but they also make you heavyhearted. 

Women in this family been carrying those burdens for years. They'll surely keep you safe, that I know. But they make you so heavyhearted that you won't even want to open your eyes some mornings. That's strange magic you're taking with you. Sad magic.

The burdens will keep you safe, but they will make you heavyhearted. 

This idea stayed with me. In the story, the burdens kept them safe when a tornado came through and everything around them was destroyed except for their house. They said it was the magic of the burdens in the cupboard. But then as I continued to read the story to Molly. I kept thinking about why people hold on to their burdens. Do we think they keep us safe in some strange way? Do we use our burdens as an excuse to not move forward? To not find new adventures? To not open our hearts to new people? 

We all have "stuff" that happens to us. And when it does, good or bad, it's how we handle it that counts. We can drag that bag of burdens around with us, slowing us down, making us tired, draining our energy, and making us feel heavyhearted. Or we can chose to look at things differently. 

Chris and Ryan were in a car accident this past weekend. We had driven the day before for 15 hours from Florida on our way home from spring break. The next day we slept in, but if we got the pups from the kennel before 12:00 noon, we didn't have to pay for the next day. Chris left at 11:25. At 11:30, I got a phone call from him to come and get him and Ryan. They had gotten in an accident not even half a mile away from our house. 

"Come and get us. We were in an accident. A pretty bad one, but we are okay. The car is not."

I was there in a heartbeat. Three cars were involved. One of the cars was just sitting at a red light. The woman wasn't even moving when another car came smashing into her. After Chris and Ryan were taken to the hospital in the ambulance, I waited at the corner of the accident. I emptied any important stuff from the van before it was towed away. I waited for the police officer to finish his report. And I processed what just happened and how lucky everyone in the accident was. 

Yesterday a friend sent me a podcast from the Easter sermon from her church. In it, he talks about the challenge flag in football and how this gives a team an opportunity to have the officials review the video of a play from different angles. They take time to review. Different angles give us different perspectives. What one person perceives from where he or she stands, may not be the same from a different angle. After the officials review the video, they usually make an announcement starting with the words, "Upon further review…" 

When Chris had his accident, there were witnesses. Each person had there own perception of what happened. The police officer talked to everyone, gathered their accounts and "upon further review" decided what had happened.

 But as I was waiting for the police officer to give me back my registration and Chris' drivers license, I was talking to the woman who was sitting at the red light when her car was hit. She wasn't even moving when her car got hit. She reminded me of Florentine from A Snicker of Magic. I could almost see her bag of burdens that she was carrying around. I could see it weighing her down. She told me that she was a single mom. That her car was paid off. That she couldn't afford to buy another one. That she didn't go away with her boys on break and that they were going to spend the last two days together but then this happened. I could feel her burdens and I just wanted to help her with them.

 At first review of that day, it sucked! Really! But if you throw the challenge flag out, and ask to take the time to review the situation, it's not that bad.

Upon further review:

1. No one was hurt! I could stop right here on this one, but really, amazingly, no one was hurt.

Upon further review: 

2. Chris could have been driving his new car which would have sucked for him but also, the nose of my van is much lower to the ground than his Jeep and that might of been a lot worse for the guy in the other car. 

Upon further review:

3. Shannon could have been in the car and with her spleen being enlarged from having mono, that could have caused it to rupture.

Upon further review:

4. No one was sitting in the passenger seat of the car Chris hit.

Upon further review:

5. We could have had an accident the day before on our 15 hour trip home from Florida and got stuck somewhere far away from home.

Upon further review:

6. Chris could have been on his way back from getting the dogs instead of on his way to getting them and they would have been thrown around the car and gotten hurt.

We all have our burdens, some of us have more than others. But if we just pause once in a while and look at the situation from different angles, then maybe all those burdens that we are carrying around really aren't so heavy. 

Upon further review…

I'll always think of these words now when I watch a football game with new meaning.

You can listen to the podcast of the sermon here. It's the one from Easter.

And did Florentine ever lay her bag burdens down? Well, I guess you'll just have to read the book.

Molly and I read Because of Winn Dixie right before we read A Snicker of Magic. Dave Matthews is in the movie and at the end of the movie, they are all singing this song. Here's Dave Matthews singing it at a concert.

Monday, April 21, 2014



The power to influence or direct people's behavior or the course of events.
synonyms: sway, power, authority, command, dominance, government, mastery, leadership, rule, influence, supremacy, 

Determine the behavior or supervise the running of.
synonyms: be in charge of, run, manage, direct, administer, head, preside over, supervise, superintend, steer.

I'm sitting here this morning on our last day of vacation thinking about this word. I think control is a bit like money, no matter how much you have, you always want more. But the reality of it all is that no matter how much we plan, no matter how much we think about the nitty gritty details of life, things just happen beyond our control. 

At the beginning of this Lenten season, I came across a group on my Facebook newsfeed called 40 bags in 40 days. The goal of the group is to declutter your house during lent; to give up the clutter, if you will, by donating things that you don't use anymore or simply throwing them away. 

I loved this idea. I am one for to-do lists. I get satisfaction in crossing things off the list and tackling the next item right away to get that one crossed off. I wouldn't define myself as a control freak. I have been in other people's houses that no matter the time of day or the day of the week, their houses are always picked up and pristine. That is not my house. It can get pretty messy at times. The worst time of day is when the kids come home from school and the shoes get kicked off and the backpacks get dropped and the sweatshirts are hanging over the banister and the empty juice boxes are left on the counter and oh, those little wrappers for the straws are ALL! OVER! MY! HOUSE! One day, my kids will all be gone and I will still find those little clear straw wrappers in my couch and behind tables and under rugs. Then you add soccer bags and basketball bags and dance bags. But to keep this happy chaos of a life under "control" I do like to have a plan. So I thought this was a good motivator. 40 bags, 40 messes, 40 tasks that needed my attention. I started off strong. I was motivated. I had big messes and little messes around the house. I was still in the middle of painting Ryan's room. All of his stuff was in my room. Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, says that outer order produces inner calm. I believe that. Whenever I'm surrounded by clutter, I can feel myself getting irritable, my patience declines, I am not at my best.

But then Shannon got sick, and the tasks did not get tackled, Ryan room came to a stand still, he continued to sleep on the couch, and his stuff was all over the floor in my room. Things happen beyond our control.

The other day I was sitting on the beach and there is this immense, vast sky all around me. The beach is one of those places that you get to see so much sky. There are no obstructions of your view, there is only sea and sky in front of you and I find it to be a great place to think. And as I was sitting and thinking and taking in my surroundings, my thoughts start to feel like the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.  I noticed that there were no planes in the sky. This reminded me of the days that followed 9/11 when the skies were blue and there were no planes flying for days. This reminded me of all those air traffic controllers that day and how they were able to land thousands of planes in a matter of hours safely. This is one job I wouldn't even want on a good day. The responsibility of thousands of lives in their hands each day to get all those planes off the ground and then back down again is overwhelming to think about. And then this reminded me again of the idea of "control" and how moms are like air traffic controllers. We have to be paying attention all the time. We cannot let down our guard for a moment. We may have a schedule of who's flying in at what time from soccer and who's flying out for basketball and who has a connecting flight from one activity to another and who is flying on a different airline than mine because they got a flight with another mama. The control tower never closes, it is always open. Most days go smoothly. My kids fly in and out and everything is uneventful. But then there are those days that there are mechanical failures; my car needing to be brought in for a second time because it wasn't fixed the first time right before we were traveling 1000+ miles. Or planes that need to land because of a medical emergency; Shannon getting mono. And sometimes there are weather emergencies.

As a mom, I try to set a good example for my children to balance what we can control with planning but also be prepared for the unexpected. Life always gives us things that we didn't plan for, sometimes they are big things, and sometimes they are small things like a change in the weather.

After many hours of planning this trip, researching places to go, trying to figure out our budget and what we could afford, we decided on Seaside, Florida. We've never been here. But we were looking for clear blue waters and warm temperatures. We even looked up the water temperatures for April and found that it was on average a few degrees higher than the Atlantic coast of Florida. 

But it has been a chilly week in Florida. Don't get me wrong, the kids got in the water, we sat on the beach, I read my book, the boys threw the football around, fun was had…but they wanted it to be warmer.

Social media can be used for good, but it can also be bad. Sometimes too much information of what other people are doing can put us in a funk. We start to compare. We had one cold day that we really couldn't go in the water. We still had fun. The kids went rock wall climbing, did a laser tag game, and ran around in blow-up balloons like hamsters. But my kids had there phones in their hands and were telling me of all the places their friends were on break that were so much warmer than where we were. "Mom, (insert friend's name) says its 85 degrees in (everyplace not Seaside)."

Control…we can only control so much in our lives, but we need to be grateful for the things that we have. This is a lesson as an adult that I am constantly aware of as I try to be a good example for my children. At one point, a number of members of my family were sitting on the couch, googling all the other places that were warmer than where we were. While they were doing this though, they were missing out on where they were…we aren't at home, where it is colder, we are in a beautiful house right on the beach with magnificent water to see out any window you look through. They are not living in the moment! 

I was upset by this, after all the preparation and planning to come on this trip, in that moment, I felt that they were ungrateful for the things that they had, but I also thought, all I can do is be the best example to them and hope that with each event, each incident, or happening in our lives, it will eventually sink in that we can plan for some things, but it is how we handle the unexpected things, the things that can throw you off, that that is when our true character shines through. As much as I cannot control the weather, I cannot control how my children feel. Or can I? Control…the power to influence or direct people's behavior. Moms are definitely controller tower operators, I just need to remember to be a positive influence. Most of the time we have sunny, uneventful days that run smoothly and all the planes land safely at the end of the day, but it is those bad weather days that truly test our skills as moms. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Before and Afters

Today we celebrate Shannon's 16th birthday. The day will not exactly look like the one I had planned in my head. For a while I tried to think of what to do to celebrate this day. Sweet Sixteen should be remembered. Her cousins up in New York had parties, but that wasn't Shannon. She told me that she had friends that got cars for their birthday. That wasn't happening. And then something triggered an idea. It could have been the TV that always gets left on ESPN in the morning as the boys get all their sport updates while they eat breakfast or it could have been something in my newsfeed on Facebook about Yankee spring training, but the idea to have Chris take her to Tampa for the weekend to watch a couple of Yankee games came to me. I searched for her birthday weekend, she had no soccer tournaments, regular soccer season didn't start until the following week, and there were Yankee games being played in Tampa. Warm Tampa! Sunny Tampa! Snow-free Tampa! It was the perfect surprise. The thing is, she hadn't been feeling well for a while. She had on-again off-again fevers for weeks. I had brought her to the doctor numerous times and she was tested for mono, flu, and strep numerous times and they all came back negative. So it was concluded that she just had a nasty bug that had a hard time letting go of her. 

Tampa sunshine was just what this girl needed! Sunshine! Warmth! We have had such a cold, snowy, icy winter and even though Shannon loves the snow and a good snow day, it was taking it's toll on her. Shannon is a huge Yankees fan and an even bigger Derek Jeter fan. He announced that he will be retiring this year. It will be her last chance to see him play. It was the perfect birthday gift…Yankees, Florida sunshine, and a free weekend. So we planned it all.

By the end of February, we thought she was on the road to recovery. After being home for eleven days, she returned to school and to soccer try-outs. It wasn't the best scenario, but she got through her school days, worked with all her teachers to come up with a schedule to get caught up, and then went to soccer try-outs. It wasn't easy, but she did it and it paid off. She made the team, she was starting to feel better, things were looking good.

But everything started to unravel again. She was feeling sick, again. She had fevers, again. But this time she was congested. We went back to the doctors again and with a negative mono test and flu test and strep test, she was given an antibiotic for a sinus infection. It turns out, this was not the answer. She started to feel a bit better for the first couple of days. She went to Virginia Beach with her travel soccer team for a tournament, but Chris would text me that we would probably be heading back to the doctor's on Monday…and we did.

Monday, we ended up in the ER, Tuesday we ended up in the ER, Wednesday we ended up in the ER…and was admitted and we finally got a positive mono test. 

Two things that I have learned from all this is positive always means positive but negative doesn't always means negative. Negative mono test results still mean you can have mono and if given an antibiotic when you have mono, then this happens.

Mono doesn't like antibiotics and it reacts with this terrible rash all over your body. Shannon was miserable to say the least.

So instead of pulling Shannon out of school early on Friday so she could fly to Tampa for her birthday weekend, we were deciding with the doctor if she should be discharged from the hospital or give her one more day. 

Shannon is, I think, finally on the mend. The rash is starting to subside. Her throat isn't quite so swollen and she is finally eating and drinking again.

As I write this, she is upstairs in her bed on her birthday. She will remember her 16th birthday, but not the way I had planned for her to remember it. As a mom, we hate to see our kids sick. I am blessed that I have four pretty health kids for the most part. None of them have allergies, whether it be food or medicine or even outdoor allergies. None of them have ongoing conditions that have to be monitored. I am a blessed mom. But in the past week, watching my kid suffer, to struggle to breathe, to be in pain and to finally know it was one of these childhood illnesses that seems to hit teenagers the most, I thought back to my own grandmother and her generation. When my mom was a kid, she had all the childhood illnesses, measles, mumps, chicken pox, and I'm sure a few more. My grandmother had four kids, two girls and two boys, just like me and I can't imagine having to go through all those illnesses four times and watching your kids suffer. When someone you love gets sick, everything stops. I was in the middle of a declutter challenge of 40 bags in 40 days for lent. I started off pretty strong, I was focused and determined to get things in order, but my house is worse now than it was before because it doesn't take a priority when a loved one takes ill. 

At 4:54 in the afternoon, 16 years ago, a little girl came into this world and changed my life. There are monumental moments in a person's life that you can think of as befores and afters. You know, your life before that moment and life after that moment. Sometimes they are sad, like your life before a loved one dies and your life after. Sometimes they are collective before and afters, like 9/11. But sometimes they are good…like your life before and after graduating from college or before and after getting your first real job. And sometimes they are more than good, they are great, they are splendiferous, like before and after you meet the love of your life, before and after you marry that person, or before and after a child is born.

Before and after are just two ordinary words, but put them next to one of those monumental moments in your life and they become powerful. It's that moment that your whole way of thinking changes.

For me March 24, 1998, 4:54 pm is one of those splendiferous, monumental moments…life before and life after that moment has never been the same.

Happy 16th Birthday to my strong, kind-hearted, fun-loving, Shannon! We love you to the moon and back and twice again!

March 24, 1998…a monumental moment!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Birthdays, Snow Days, and 398.2

Saturday was Molly's 10th birthday. Every mom asks, "Where does the time go?" It doesn't seem to matter if you are celebrating your baby's first birthday, 10th birthday, sweet sixteen, or your baby just turned 21, you still ask that same question, "Where did the time go?"

I love looking back to when my kids were younger, what mother doesn't? I remember Molly's thick dark hair before it lighten up. I remember trying to keep it out of her eyes and by her first birthday, she didn't just have enough for a cute ponytail with bows, but it was touching her shoulders already.

But, when I'm 87 years old and rocking in my rocking chair, this is what I will see in my mind's eye of my Molly. She was three in these pictures. Hair long and light and full of personality. She still is! As a parent, I agonize over teaching my children well. I want them to be strong, independent, kind, compassionate, and passionate people. I want the world to be a bit better because they are in it. I tell them that they don't have to change the world, but just make their small, little piece of it a better place.

But the thing is, as I agonize over guiding them, teaching them, learning to let them make decisions on their own and when I should intervene, I have learned so many lessons from them. They have all taught me so much. 

Molly is my "go with the flow" kind of kid. She has spent a good part of her 10 years being dragged to Shannon's soccer games and the boys basketball games. But she was never a problem. When she was real little, she would sit in the stroller, good as gold, playing with few toys or eating her Cheerios and Goldfish. Parents would comment on how well behaved she was. When she got a little older, she would pack a bag to entertain herself because she really had no interest in watching a soccer or basketball game. Her bag was like a Mary Poppins bag, filled with books, markers drawing pads, juice boxes, snacks, once she even brought her microscope and binoculars. She also has a love of books and learning and has such a curiosity to learn about the world.

So this weekend we celebrated her "go with the flow" spirit. On Friday, I brought up a couple of slices of Sal's pizza for luck, her favorite. When lunch was over, she wanted me to see her desk. Whenever it's someone's birthday in the class, the teacher sends the birthday student on an errand and when they get back, their desk is all decorated with birthday stickers and a birthday sign. So cute!

Molly loved her owl birthday cake.

 When she was sleeping, I removed all the snowflakes from her room and decorated it with flowers in hopes to get some positive spring mojo going.

It didn't work. 

One of the things that Molly had on her birthday list was books. I went to Barnes and Noble and got a little bit carried away, but she was in her glory. We just finished reading Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library. We had such a fun time reading it. It is filled with references to other books. Some of them are obvious and some are a bit more subtle. 

"Everyone, please pay very close attention." cried Mr. Lemoncello through a squealing megaphone. "The Dewey decimal doors are now open and, unlike Tuck, this game will not be everlasting. Therefore, it is time to race upstairs like the rats of NIMH!"


"Of course." Mr. Lemoncello pointed to the smudge on Charle's shirt. "If you like, I will also have Al Capone do your shirts."
All Charles could do was nod, smile, and wonder when Al Capone had opened a laundry.

Molly was very excited when I read about Tuck Everlasting because we had just read it a couple of months ago and she just got Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh for her birthday.

What Molly will be reading. I had so much fun picking out her books.

Her favorite new necklace. 398.2 is the Dewey decimal call number for fairy tales. Molly and I saw this somewhere online and she thought it was the most clever thing. Of course, I made a mental note and then ordered it.

Her next read is When Audrey Met Alice. Audrey is the First Kid, her mom is the President. Audrey is trying to get used to her new life in the White House. One night, while making tea in the kitchen, she wanders into a closet and finds a loose floor board and under it, is Alice Roosevelt's diary, the oldest daughter of Teddy Roosevelt.

I gave Molly this book to give her some background knowledge of Alice Roosevelt. 

We also went to Teddy Roosevelt's house on Long Island a few years ago but Molly doesn't really remember it. We might have to make another visit again this summer when we visit Grandma.

When I went searching for the pictures, they are dated summer of 2008. Molly was only four, no wonder she really doesn't remember.

That's when she wore a pink dress, every…single…day.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Are You the Glitter or the Glue?

My house is a mess right now. It seems that every room has a pile of stuff to be put away, sorted through, or in some way attended to. Yesterday after the boys' basketball games, I had intentions of cleaning the basement. I could have cleaned Molly's playroom because it looks like a tornado hit it. I could have cleaned the piles of stuff leftover from Timmy's room makeover from last weekend. I could have done laundry, cleaned the laundry room, the kitchen, my desk…you get the idea, the house is a mess. But instead, I laid down on the couch and read a book. 

I'm feeling under the weather. Shannon has been battling a nasty virus and now I can feel the back of my throat starting to get swollen, a few body aches, and a general feeling of I just want to lie down and take a rest. It really does amaze me how quickly things fall into disarray around here when I don't stay on top of everything. 

When I think about it, Chris and I have a traditional marriage…family. He gets up early, goes to work and works hard all day. He is good at what he does, responsible, dedicated, level headed, diplomatic, attentive to details…I'm his biggest fan. But while he is doing his thing, I am doing my thing…position, CEO of the Nealon Corporation. I stay at home. But it is this stay at home mama that checks her emails  for updates to basketball schedules, soccer schedules, dance performances, spring tryouts, school events, classroom updates, tests that are coming up. It is the mama that knows when it is cozy day in fourth grade and tells Molly to pick out which stuffed animal to bring. It is the mama that knows about a field change or time change for practice. It is the mama that knows when the next payment is due for spring soccer or a New York City dance performance. It is the mama that knows when there are school meetings and worries about course selection and making sure her kid isn't overwhelmed with classes that are too hard but also competitive enough for college. It is the mama that has magical eyesight and knows exactly where the syrup is in the pantry even from another room when her kid is standing right in front of it and can't see it. At any given moment there are 12,674 items floating around in a mama's head of things on her to-do list, mental notes she makes, appointments that need to be made, (note to self, make appointment for the dogs to get updated on shots…oh yeah, and Timmy needs an orthodontist appointment) and just "stuff" that needs to be DONE. 

With all this, at times there is a sense of being completely overwhelmed and many times I feel that I am the "bad guy" and Chris gets to be the "good guy" for lack of a better ways of putting it. Because with all this mama responsibility, it is me that makes the kids clean their rooms and makes their beds and do their chores. It is me that knows there is a test coming up and that they need to turn off the TV and go study. It is me that tries to teach them to budget their time between school work and basketball and if you have 11 pages of math homework due by Tuesday and basketball games and spring tryouts then you might have to get up early on a weekend day to get the work done BEFORE basketball. These are all things that they don't want to hear. Yep, mama always seems to be the bearer of bad news.

Now that's not to say that any of this is not important to Chris, it is. He hates when their rooms are a mess or he'll remind me that he his down to his last pair of boxers and that Timmy needs to get caught up on his chores. Chris may not know where basketball practice is, but when he's at a game he's the dad cheering not just for our kids but for all the kids on the team. Chris may not know that Timmy's letter to the Bishop is due this week for Confirmation, but he's the dad that calls up to Ryan who has already put himself to bed and says, "Hey, Ryan there's a funny movie on TV, you want to watch with me?" Chris leaves most mornings before my alarm even goes off and there are many nights that he makes it home just in time to give Molly a good night kiss before she goes to bed. His time is limited and so when he walks in the door, the kids are excited to see him. They are excited to share a funny story of something that happen at school, they are excited to share what happen at practice, they are excited to share a funny video that saw on youtube. The other day, Ryan out of the blue said to me in the car on the way to basketball, "Have you ever noticed that when one person from our family, doesn't matter which one, is missing from the dinner table, things just are not the same, you can tell there is a missing piece." 

As a whole, we work as a family, I am the one that attends to all the nitty gritty details of our everyday life. Chris is the one that adds some fun and laughter into the mix. If you were making a roast, I would be the meat and potatoes but Chris would be the spices and the garnish. He's the one that adds the flavor and flair to our everyday life. But, you can't just eat spices alone, you have to have something to put it on, a meal certainly would be bland without the added spices. You need both, the meat and potatoes, and the spices to make it a good meal. 

But there are times that I want to be the spice, I am tired of always being the bland, dependable meat and potatoes that gives nourishment but adds no flavor or flair. 

So back to yesterday, lying on the couch, reading Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan. 

I read both her other books The Middle Place and Lift. All these books are about being a mom. She puts those thoughts down on paper that all us moms think about and as you read it you think, "I know exactly what she's talking about. I have had those same exact thought!" On the book jacket, it says that her own mom used to always say, "Your father is the glitter and I am the glue." And I thought yes, EXACTLY! I am the glue! The glue that keeps everything together, if you didn't have glue everything would just fall apart. But sometimes I want to be the glitter! I want to sparkle! When you look at something sparkly and glittery, no one says, "Oh, look at that glue behind the glitter, you must have some really good glue! You must have used some really strong glue!" Nope, I don't think I've ever heard anyone say that. But reality is, you can't have all glitter and no glue. It doesn't work, you have to have glue...and that is me. 

But that doesn't mean that Chris and I can't trade places every once in a while. I don't have to be the glue ALL of the time. When my kids are all grown, and gone and have families of their own, I want them to remember the lessons that I have tried to teach them. I want my voice to be inside their heads. I want them to remember to eat their frog first thing in the morning. I want them to remember that people may not remember their words or their actions but will remember how they made them feel. I want them to go out each day and be the best person possible and that the only person they really need to be better than is the person that they were yesterday.

But I need to be a little less glue and a little more glitter. I want them to remember baking cookies and snow days and family movie nights and snuggling in bed reading and family dinners and catching fireflies and making smores…and…and…and...

Are you the glue or the glitter? I am definitely the glue with not enough glitter.

As I finish writing this, my computer dings letting me know that I have an incoming email. Basketball practice has changed time and location tonight. Fourth grade show date has changed, I think for the third time and the phone just rang and my credit card was just used this past weekend…not by me. Yep, I'm the glue.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Timmy's Room Makeover and a Not So Mundane Valentine's Day

It is Wednesday morning and my kids are at school…on time, no delay. Well, three of them are, one is sick in bed. The last time they had a full day of school was last Wednesday. That has been the theme of this winter. Since Christmas break, we have only had one full week of school with no holidays, no snow days and no delays. One week.

This last storm was a big one. We got 14 inches and if it had hit us earlier in the week, I'm sure we would have used more than just two snow days.

Sometimes we get snow days and I feel like I really didn't take advantage of the day off. But this last storm, I was prepared and I got things accomplished.

Wednesday Night

Thursday Morning 

Night Sledding

Snow Days are for building forts and reading books.

Friday was Valentine's Day and I woke up to a trail of hearts from my littlest one who thinks I'm cool.

Molly and I made cookies and cupcakes and lasagna for dinner. I had planned ahead because of the storm and I had little treats for each of them each in their chair.

But then Saturday came and it was time to work. Timmy and Ryan were sharing a room, until Timmy moved out. He moved into the basement and I didn't make him move back. I guess it was time for him to have his own room. So colors were picked and what was once my guest room, is now a teenage boy's room. 

But even though painting takes a lot of time, I don't mind it so much. I don't like it, but I don't mind it. Chris on the other hand, doesn't like doing household stuff like painting and maintenance. Actually, he hates it. Just a couple of weeks ago, I caught him scotch taping one of our blinds. Ryan was leaning back in a chair, the chair went over with him in it and broke a number of slates of the blind. He's lucky he didn't go through the window. Any way, I just didn't find the time to take it down from the window and make the trip to get it fixed. So one Saturday, Chris was scotch taping the wooden blind together. When I asked him what he was doing, I could hear the frustration in his voice, in me, because the blind had been broken for months and I hadn't fixed it. 

I then got frustrated with him and told him if he wanted it fix, to fix it and not with scotch tape. Sogot the step ladder, I took it down, and I then told him where the blind store was, told him about how much it would cost to replace the broken slates and then Chris dropped it off. No scotch tape. Home repair is just not his thing.

So that is why it means so much more on this Valentine's Day weekend that he helped me get Timmy room put together. I did most of the painting with a little help from Timmy, his first painting job, and it was Chris who put up Timmy's book shelves over his new desk. Chris may use scotch tape for blind repair but he does know how to put up an Elfa System from The Container Store. Every January they go on sale and every January I find something to organize. Chris is an expert and I love him for it because I know he hates putting it up but he does it any way for me.

Trying to figure out the spacing.

The final product. I should have taken picture of the room when it was still a guest room for a real before and after effect, but like I said, Timmy just moved out and there wasn't really a plan to do this.

There is now no excuse for this kid not to get his homework done. No Ryan to distract him and a beautiful work space.

And just incase there was any question as to who's room it was now.

This year Chris and I celebrated our 24th Valentine's Day together. We didn't go out to dinner, we didn't spend it alone.  We actually had two extra kids at the table for dinner that night because the kids had friends over. But it was still a great weekend spent together, side by side getting a job done. To keep in the Valentine's Day spirit while painting,  I played some romance movies on one of the kids portable DVD players. I really didn't watch them, but I could listen to them as I was hunched over on the floor painting trim. My favorites…When Harry Met Sally. My favorite part of this movie, when they show the old couples sitting next to each other talking about how they met. I love stories, and I love listening to all their different stories of how they met…yes, I know it's just a movie. But that seems to be a universal question about couples, "How did you meet?" 

Chris and I met in Stern's department store in New York. He was in men's shoes and I was in women's fragrances just across the aisle. Then he left for college, and then he was back.

My parents met on the Jersey shore. She was with a group of girl friends, he was with his friends and they all left together.

I can't remember the story about how Chris' parents met but I do remember his mom telling me about their first date. He had asked her to get ice cream and as they were sitting in the ice cream parlor eating, when in walked the parents of the boy she was dating. Well after that, she never heard from that boy again.

But even though we love these stories, it is the "after they met" stories that matter most. 

There is another movie, Shall We Dance, that I watched, listened to, as I painted. Richard Gere and Susan Saradan have been married for 19 years, he is an estate and will attorney and has been doing the same thing, year after year. Until one day, he decides to take dance lessons. But he doesn't tell his wife and she then suspects that her husband is having an affair. She hires a detective that tells her that he is just taking dance lessons and it doesn't seem to be anything more. They start talking about marriage and she asks the detective, "Why do people get married?" 

He replies, "Passion?"

And then Susan Saradan says,

"No, because we need a witness to our lives. There's a billion people on the planet. What does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you're promising to care about everything, the good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things,…all of it, all the time, everyday you're saying your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. You're life will not go unwitnessed because I will be your witness."

So, I have been a witness to this life for 24 years and with that, get to be a witness to our children's lives as well. Some days are good, some are bad, some days are snow-filled and some are sunny and 75. So even though I spent this weekend in the basement painting and doing mundane house stuff, I am so blessed to be a witness to it all.

We did book a spring break vacation though on Valentine's Day. I can't wait to be a witness to this beach!

There is another part in the movie when Richard Gere is narrating. He talks about his job as he neatly packages people's lives into a will...assets, debt, which kid gets what painting. He says when all the paperwork is done and everything is initialed and signed on the dotted line, people always ask the question, "Is that it?"

And he then replies, "As far as the paper work, the rest is up to you."