|One of my kids favorite things this summer was camping out at the local minor league stadium with the Cub Scouts.|
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Monday, August 29, 2011
I turned 39 for the second time today. I’m not going to lie, when I woke up I seriously considered hiding under the covers for the better part of the day. The air was cool after Mother Nature’s tantrum yesterday so I pulled an extra quilt over myself to go back to sleep. When my husband came in to kiss me goodbye, my elderly cat snuck into the room and curled up with me. My kids were up and watching TV downstairs. I suspect they had been warned to let Mommy sleep in on her birthday.
But I could hear a lot of activity in the neighborhood. The morning after Hurricane Irene the neighborhood was alive with the sound of chainsaws from people clearing away downed trees and branches. We were very fortunate—no major damage, no power loss on my street and no flooding in the basement. I could hear transformers blowing throughout the day yesterday but we never had more than a few seconds without electricity.
I realized that lying there was just making my back stiff—you have to worry about stuff like that when you get old. So I got up and went to my computer. There were a couple dozen messages wishing me a happy birthday on Facebook. It’s so strange and wonderful to get messages from people I haven’t seen since the days of Aqua Net and Duran Duran.
|This was delivered to our table as the violinist played "Happy Birthday"|
Since my birthday fell on a Monday this year, I did the bulk of my celebrating on Saturday. My marvelous friend Kate Sterling took me into Boston to have high tea at the Raj Hotel (formerly The Ritz). We spent and elegant afternoon overlooking Newbury Street while sipping Champagne and tea and nibbling on tiny sandwiches and pastries. Afterwards, we headed back to my place, changed into jeans and flip-flops, grabbed my husband and headed out for Mexican food. Our good friend Claire had graciously agreed to baby-sit my little guys as we indulged in Carne Asada and margaritas. The evening was just as enjoyable as the afternoon in a completely different way.
I had every intention of sitting down and writing a piece about turning forty. But I have nothing very enlightening to say. The world did not stop turning. I feel exactly like I did yesterday. I am thrilled we didn’t lose power during the hurricane. I’m mentally kicking myself in the butt to get to the gym. The breakfast dishes still won’t wash themselves. My kids are still loud, energetic and adorable. My marriage is still pretty awesome. I’m still spending far too much time checking Facebook and not enough time actually writing. Do I feel smarter? Stronger? More capable? Yes. Not more so than yesterday, but a lot more so than I did when I was in my 20’s. In other words, 40 is a lot like 30… with a few more gray hairs.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
The lovely Jessica over at Four Plus an Angel recently posted about a luxurious trip to the grocery store—luxurious because she took it without her children. Yet, despite her momentary child-lessness she felt as if she had the word “Mommy” tattooed on her forehead. The theme of her post was running through my head this week as I prepared to retire my stereotypical mommy-mobile—a beige 2002 Ford Windstar.
The van has been less and less reliable lately. It even broke down while we were on vacation in Virginia. I had to put $800 dollars into it this summer and I swore I wouldn’t put one more dime into it. I’ve even been stingy about gas and haven’t put more than $25 worth at a time—which isn’t much in a car that big. I’ve been on the lookout for a replacement. We really don’t need a car that big and after last winter I’m anxious to get something that handles better in the snow than the Windstar. Of course a skateboard would handle better in the snow, but that’s another discussion altogether.
So this week I went car shopping and brought home a small SUV. Thursday morning I started clearing out all the stuff that has accumulated in my mommy-mobile:
- Six empty juice pouches
- Two rolls of paper towels
- Broken crayons—some melted
- One smashed box of tissues
- A bottle of Resolve Carpet Cleaner (we have carsickness issues)
- Approximately 800 plastic grocery bags (see above)
- Six reusable grocery bags (which are mysteriously not in the car when I’m actually grocery shopping)
- A collection of CD’s that includes the soundtracks to Curious George and Cars
- At least one pound of dropped Goldfish, pretzels, Cheerios, cartoon-themed gummies, and Teddy Grahams
- Various cords to hook up a DVD player or computer to the van’s semi-functional entertainment system
- Bits of forgotten Happy Meal toys
- The “coolest sticker ever” from the dentist office
I realized that even if I weren’t driving something so typically “mommy-ish”, the contents of the vehicle would give away its mommy-mobile status. I wonder how long it will take before my snappy new vehicle will take on the state of the mommy-mobile. At the moment only things on the floor of my SUV are floor mats. The only things in the back seat are booster seats. I wonder how long it be before I arrive at a destination with Jack Johnson’s “Three is a Magic Number” blasting from the speakers and an avalanche of discarded candy wrappers and forgotten matchbox cars pour out when we open the door.
|Goodbye Mommy-mobile. We had some great times together.|
Thursday, August 25, 2011
This week's VERY short Friday fiction is brought to you by Write on Edge (formerly known as The Red Dress Club). The assignment? Let’s lighten it up around here. And when I say lighten, I mean REALLY lighten. This week’s assignment will require the fewest number of words ever: we want you to write a story – your choice of topic – as a tweet. That’s right. One hundred and forty characters. Not words. Characters. Make us laugh. Make us think. Make us want more. Mostly, have FUN with this. You’ve earned it. Come back Friday and link up.
(a story in 140 characters)
I saw him from a distance & called out. He didn’t hear me so I ran calling, “David!” I reached him and blushed as he turned. It wasn’t him.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Last week James had surgery at Children’s Hospital in Boston. He injured his hand six years ago (I’ve talked about it here and here) and needed some repair work done. I know plenty of grown adults who act like babies when they’re patients. It was impressive to see my baby act so brave.
|Little Monkey and Blue Monkey getting prepped.|
|All dressed up and ready to go into sedation.|
|James' first words when waking up from surgery, "I want to go home. I miss my brother."|
James had a little postoperative nausea and pain, but it’s been almost a week since the surgery and he’s doing really well. He’ll be in the cast until September 12th. Personally I’d be going bonkers if I was without my right hand for three weeks. He's been adapting and not slowing down at all!
Sunday, August 21, 2011
...maybe not the world. Just my garden...
No matter what we plant in our garden, the thing that grows most abundantly is zucchini. Zucchini is best when it is picked small—no more than 8 inches long. But it grows FAST. If you skip a day or two in the garden, your zucchini (which ironically is Italian for little squash) ends up looking like this…
|Last year's bumper crop.|
When zucchini gets that big it isn’t as tasty, the skin is tough and the seeds are really big and unpleasant to eat. But it doesn’t have to be destined for the compost pile. They can be used in recipes that call for grated zucchini. Be sure and slice the zucchinis lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with a spoon before grating. The King Arthur Flour Company has this wonderful recipe for zucchini pancakes. This version of the recipe calls to add oil to the pancake batter. Omit the oil from the batter and fry the pancakes in olive oil. It’s sort of like the Italian answer to the latke. I serve it with pasta and marinara sauce. I’d love to tell you they’re a great way to get kids to eat their vegetables, but some children I know (not mentioning any names) see the green and are automatically suspicious. Zucchini Pancakes freeze really well so you can make a big batch and put some aside for when zucchini is out of season.
I’ve mentioned before that I make muffins every Saturday (unless we have an 8:00 soccer game—I’m not Super Woman). This week I tinkered around with a few variations on zucchini muffins and came up with this recipe. Everyone in my house thought they were delicious—until someone noticed the green specks. I may start blind folding one of my children before he eats.
Zucchini Spice Muffins
2 cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
2 beaten eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
1.) Spray muffin tins with non-stick spray and set aside
2.) *Preheat oven to 500º
3.) Wisk dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
4.) Mix remaining ingredients together in another bowl.
5.) Gently stir the liquid ingredients into the dry. Do not over mix. Over mixing quick bread batter makes tough muffins.
6.) Fill muffin tins approximately 2/3 full.
7.) Put into oven and lower temperature to 375º
8.) Bake for about 20 minutes. Muffins will be golden in color and a toothpick inserted into one will come out clean.
9.) Let your muffins rest for a few minutes before removing them—they’ll come out of the tins more easily.
* Preheating your oven to 500 degrees then dropping the temperature helps the muffins rise.
Do you have an abundance of anything from your garden? What do you do with it? I’d love to hear your ideas.
Friday, August 19, 2011
Monday morning we were running right on schedule. I should have known the day was not going to go according to plan. I mean, how often are you on-time if you have children? We had to be at Vacation Bible School early because I’m a volunteer. I sent the kids upstairs to plug in their hand held games and I put their breakfast on the table. I heard a thunk and a loud shriek of pain.
I found Owen on the stairs crying and covering his face. He had dropped his PSP so I didn’t know if he was injured or simply in mourning for killing his brand-new game. He gets pretty dramatic about very minor bumps and bruises so I wasn’t concerned just yet. When he moved his hands away to talk to me I realized his shrieks were well earned. He had landed on stairs mouth first. He hadn’t broken or lost a tooth but there was a nasty cut inside his lip and lot of blood in his mouth. We thought his front tooth might be loose.
I called the pediatrician’s office and spoke to the nurse. I didn’t know if we should go to the emergency room, the doctor’s office or the dentist. She was marvelous and patient and advised me to call the dentist—apparently they don’t suture the inside of the mouth unless it’s really serious. My next call was to the dentist who was able to see us right away.
It turns out that there is a very minor crack in his front tooth—we could only see it when he shined an ultra violet light at it. The dentist said it probably won’t be an issue. He said in very rare cases it might mean a root canal down the line—but that was very unlikely. Owen doesn’t know what a root canal is, but the word made him burst into tears. Smart boy—maybe smarter than the dentist who said it in front of him.
When we got home I let the boys watch old episodes of Sponge Bob and fed them a variety of easy to eat foods—smoothies, popsicles, Ramen noodles. I spent most of the day trying to make Owen comfortable. I managed to send out the following Tweets:
My 9 year old took a face plant on the stairs this morning. Emergency dental visit & now Advil, popsicles & Sponge Bob marathon. #rainyday
Plan for the day-do something fun b/f James' surgery on Thursday. Reality: injured Owen, emergency dental, raining & bickering. #awesome
After feeding the boys and putting to them bed, Dan and I needed some time to chill out. We poured ourselves a drink and settled down to watch The Tudors—one of our favorite flavors of brain candy (did I mention how much I loved having Netflix instant view this week?). A little before 9:00 there was a quiet knock on the front door. It sounded like someone who didn’t want to wake the children.
My husband opened the door. My best friend was standing on our front steps. She is a private person so, I’m going to call her Kate Sterling*. Kate and I have been friends since we rode the bus together in elementary school.
“A little birdie told me you were having a bad day,” she said as she handed over a large shopping bag that contained a box of gourmet cupcakes, a bottle of really good bourbon, a bouquet of sunflowers, and cards for both of the boys. She had read about my day on my Twitter stream and came to cheer me up.
I have a lot of blessings in my life that I talk about on this blog. My kids are (usually) healthy, we have nice home and plenty of food to eat. I have a great extended family and a fabulous husband. One of my blessings doesn’t get mentioned on my blog as often is this friendship that has lasted for over thirty years. Kate is as close to me as a family member. When describing her, I often say, “If I called her at 3:00 in the morning to ask for help, she’d be on her way before I could tell her what the problem was.” This week, when I was having a rough time, I didn’t even need to ask for help and she was there. Kate Sterling, you are an amazing person. I’m so thankful you are in my life!
*Kate Sterling is a character we invented nearly a thousand years ago.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Today I’m linking up with the Red Dress Club’s Red Writing Hood Prompt. Which was a bit of a challenge for this nice Catholic girl turned soccer mom: “Let's get all steamy up in here and write about sex. But you know us. There's a twist. You can't write about the act. I don't want to read about any heaving bosoms or girded manhood (please tell me someone else giggled besides me). There are so many other possibilities. And I hope you have fun finding them.” I’ve been using these prompts to create a back-story for my character Michaela. You can read previous stories by clicking the tab above marked The Story of Michaela. Concrit is always welcome!
“Would you like to come in for coffee?” I asked him. The question sounded artificial. This was a new ritual for me. I hadn’t been on a date in a dozen years or so. “Or a drink?” I added as I fumbled with my key.
“I’d love to come in,” he said. A slow smile spread over his face. This was the first time Adam and I had spent alone. Our first few dates included my kids. Tonight my friend Laverne had offered to have a slumber party for the kids at her place.
The wine at dinner had taken the edge off my nerves. But it was also making me a little clumsy with the lock on the door.
“Would you like a hand with that?” he asked.
I shook off my embarrassment long enough to hand him the key. I’d rather not be standing on the doorstep all night. He opened the door and motioned for me to go ahead of him. I slipped off my high-heeled sandals and walked into the kitchen.
“Wine or coffee?” I asked.
He pulled me to him gently and held my face in his hands for a moment. “You are so beautiful,” he said as he leaned in to kiss me. We had kissed before, but not like this. This was a kiss meant to lead somewhere—somewhere I really wanted to go. His hands moved down to caress my back. Memories of Peter whirled unexpectedly in my mind. I felt a tear stream down my face ruining the moment. I pulled away.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “Was I reading the signals wrong?”
“No. No, you were reading them just right. Adam I’m so sorry. I wanted tonight to be special. When Laverne offered to take the kids I was so excited to be able to be alone with you. But when we kissed…”
“How long has it been?” He asked.
“Peter died almost two years ago.”
“Two years. And you haven’t…”
“There hasn’t been anyone else. It’s entirely possible I’ve turned back into virgin.”
He started to laugh and the tension eased up a little. “It doesn’t have to be tonight. We can still enjoy being alone without me tearing your clothes off.”
“So, you do want to tear my clothes off?”
He looked me straight in the eye, put his hands on my waist and said, “I can’t imagine what you’ve gone through. I’ve never lost someone like you have. You set the pace and I’ll stick with it. I’ve wanted to tear your clothes off since the first time I saw you out running in those little blue shorts of yours. But if you want to wait, I can wait.”
I reached up and kissed him, this time longer and slower. This time I didn’t remember Peter. This time I just thought about Adam—his hands on my body, his lips on mine. He said it didn’t have to be tonight, but as we kissed, I knew it would be.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
For today's Wordless Wednesday feature, I'm linking up with the fabulous Shell at Things I Can't Say for the Summer Fun Show Off. My whole family had a great time in Busch Gardens this summer. The teacup ride is always one of our favorites. Believe me, nothing says togetherness like vertigo!
Friday, August 5, 2011
Today I’m linking up with Jessica from Four Plus and Angel and Liz at A Belle, A Bean, and A Chicago Dog for the Summer Social Blog Hop. There were a variety of topics available to write about. It may seem strange that I chose to write from the “Advice for Others” category since I consider myself a novice blogger. There are a million things about blogging that I still don’t know. It’s tough to articulate exactly what advice I need at this point. So I’m enjoying reading everyone else’s tips in this category. However, I do read a lot of blogs (just ask my husband and sons!). So I’m answering this as a reader, rather than a writer.
If I stumble upon your blog and read a post or two, I will always check the “About Me” or biographical section. If there isn’t one, I’m disappointed. People are interesting. I love hearing about people who face challenges—starting a family earlier or later in life than they planned. You home school six kids? Heck, even the thought of home schooling two blows me away. You’ve lost 78 pounds? Amazing! How? You’ve struggled with infertility or loss? You are so brave to share your story and find a community and help others. Maybe you don’t think your life is very interesting. Maybe you think you’re just a mom (shudder!) Dig a little deeper. There is probably some little quirk you have that will get my attention.
I think of the “About Me” section as being like the bio or “Who’s Who” in the program of a play. They can be really boring like this:
Victoria KP (Director) Vickie has a BA in English from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY. She has studied voice under Dan Moore for five years. Victoria has appeared on stage with Hingham Civic Music Theatre productions of The Pajama Game, The Wizard of Oz, and An Evening of Song. Her favorite roles include Amy in Company, The Second Nun in The House of Blue Leaves, and Mary in Run for Your Wife. Victoria has directed productions of Oklahoma!, Death by Chocolate and Plaza Suite. She wishes to dedicate this production to her loving family.
Are you still awake? Sure, you know a lot about what I’ve done and maybe you’ve figured out why I look familiar. But I sound like every other actor in the world. You don’t know anything about who I am. Plus, I probably come across a little pretentious. Wouldn’t you rather read something like this:
Victoria KP (Director) Vickie has been longing to get back into theatre since directing Plaza Suite with Hingham Civic Music Theatre five years ago. When she isn’t directing, Vickie can be found chasing her sons, flirting with her husband, leading Cub Scouts and selling inexpensive Swedish furniture. She also writes about parenting, creativity, and other topics in her blog http://39forthefirsttime.blogspot.com/. In her free time, Vickie can usually be heard bragging about the fantastic cast and crew of The Secret Garden. Vickie could not have directed this show without the immeasurable love and support of Dan, Owen and James—thank you!
With this bio you can tell I’m a busy mom with a sense of humor. I love theatre and I’m secure enough in my credentials that I don’t need to list them all. Most importantly, you’re still awake!
So if you haven’t put much thought into your “About Me” section, I encourage you to do so. Shake things up a little. Are you hopelessly addicted to coffee? Have you been dreaming about singing backup for Duran Duran since the mid-80’s? Can you make the best marinara sauce on the block? Chances are, there is something interesting and unique about you. I for one would love to know what it is.