16 December 2007

For Aunt Sherry

These pics are for my Aunt Sherry, who hosted a wonderful Thanksgiving this year, and who has been waiting patiently to see them.

And yes, that bear was once living.

Not only was the food delicious (especially the duck, which I had to ask for on the sly), but the games, conversation and company that followed was, of course, the best.

15 December 2007

Are those matching aprons?

So corny, it's cute....

05 December 2007

"I Demand a Cupcake"

In the weeks leading up to our trip to the North Pole, I talked the event up to the little man. "We're going on a train ride. It's going to take us to the North Pole, where Santa lives. Santa's going to get on board and say hello. And so will Rudolph and Frosty and some elves. There will be a treat."

"What kind of treat, Mommy?" was all he asked.

"I don't know. Probably a cupcake."

"Yeah. I want a cupcake!" He was grinning from ear to ear.

This past Saturday, after waiting in line in arctic temperatures, we boarded the train in Newburyport, and we weren't sitting down for more than a minute before our son started yelling for his cupcake. For a toddler, the wait for a promised treat must seem like an eternity. But we got through the reading of Chris Van Allsburg's story and singing some Christmas songs. And we weren't half-way to the North Pole (aka the Beverly MBTA stop) before the chefs started to bring out the snack.

When one of them handed my son a chocolate brownie, he looked at it, handed it back to me with a look of disdain in his eyes, and said, "I want a cupcake."

"Oh, but it's a delicious brownie," I said, biting into my own, and exaggerating my chew.

"No. I want a cupcake. I would like a cupcake, PLEASE!"

"Just try it. Take a bite."

Finally, he succumbed, and bit into it.

"I like it!" he said.

He spent the rest of the train ride - a visit from Santa and his elves, Frosty and Rudolph and some more caroling - with chocolate smeared across his lips, and ringing the silver bell, handed to him by one of Santa's helpers as the first gift of Christmas

Two years ago on the Polar Express, when I was handed the silver bell for our son, then only an infant, I shook it for him. But it didn't make a sound. If you know the story, you know what that means. But this year, the bell rang loud and clear.

"It's from Santa's sleigh!" Braedan yelled to Rich and I.

"It is," we said. "It is."

26 November 2007

It was the triptipan

I have just woken from my post Turkey-day slumber.

I will have details about the meal, apres-party and the real, stuffed black bear at my aunt's house (with pics), tomorrow.

Hope everyone had a great holiday.

19 November 2007

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Yes. It's early. But nonetheless we made a holiday season pilgrimage to the Yankee Candle flagship store in South Deerfield, MA on Saturday. Just like Clark Griswold, I build things up in my mind, and so it wasn't nearly as exciting as I thought it would be.

However, they have the BEST Santa Claus you could imagine. Even though it was early in the season, I still waited in line for 20 minutes while the troops entertained the little man at the train table. I wasn't sure how he'd react to the man in the red suit considering last year he cried and arched his back as we tried to put him on his lap.

This year though, he marched right up to Santa, climbed up into the oversized velvet chair set next to him and said matter-of-factly, "Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas, Santa. I want a car."

Santa took a few minutes to talk to him about the kind of cars he likes, and rolled the car he had brought with him back and forth across the table. And my son said, "Where's my car?"

Very difficult to explain to a 2 1/2 year old that he has to wait 38 more days to get what he asked for.

13 November 2007

Hey! He's not a policeman

A trip to the fire station - what little boy wouldn't like that?

My son (pictured in the red cap) could barely contain his excitement when we walked into the station and he was able to climb inside the big red engine. "I am in a BIG firetruck" he would shout to anyone who would listen. He didn't want to come out. But I finally made him. And when the fireman was showing the kids how he puts on all his equipment before heading into a fire, my son, turned to me, dejected, and yelled, "I want to see a policeman." "Shhh," I whispered into his ear. "We're at the fire station."
"But where's the policeman?" he asked.

And being 2 1/2, he was more enthralled with the fire engine than with the fireman, who was explaining to this group of toddlers how he can breathe clean air through his mask that made him sound like Darth Vader. Finally I gave in and let my son play around on the truck while the fireman wrapped up his demonstration. But a big hit for all the kids was watching Fireman Chris slide down the fire pole. "Again," they chanted.

But the actual firefighters had more of an impact on him than I thought. Because he wore his little plastic fire chief hat and carried around his "fireman" crayons and eraser - handed out to the kids by one of the firemen after the tour - all day long. He brought them to the store. He brought them to his friend's house. He put them on the table in plain sight as he ate his dinner.

09 November 2007

3,579 down, 46,421 to go

By the end of the day today, I should have 15,000 words of a 50,000 word novel written.

As part of National Novel Writing Month, I am joining thousands of people across the country who are attempting the ridiculous and idiotic task of completing a novel in a month. The idea is just to sit down and write, without thinking, without self-editing - something that is very hard for me to do. You're talking about a person who will take an hour to write a perfect lede before I can complete a freelance assignment. It makes the money per hour ratio very low.

So I am only about 12,000 words behind so far. And I met up with some friends the other night at a local coffee shop for a "write-in" to try and boost my word count. But there was this couple sitting directly behind us, and it was painfully obvious that they were on a first date. A lot of that get-to-know-you type conversation was happening.

But when I heard the guy talking, very loudly, about how much better he was at his job than any of his co-workers, how he has had three wives and 8 kids with 7 different women, and how his doctors tried to persuade him to go on meds for his ADD, we all wanted to turn around and tell her to run, run as fast as she could and never look back.

But what broke the camel's back for me was when I heard the term "beastiality" mentioned. Seriously. I'm not lying. After that, I couldn't concentrate on anything else but their conversation, which was very anti-climactic after that.

31 October 2007

Halloween Quizzilla (Stolen)

These questions are ripped off from fellow blogger KJ.

1.What are your plans for Halloween Night?

Trick-or-treating by 5:30. Last year, my neighbor hauled the kids around in a wagon. This year they can walk! Most likely pizza and beers with the neighbors after. (Or during, last year some of the parents in our neighborhood were sporting beers as they trudged around begging for candy.)

2. What are your top three favorite Halloween costumes of all time? (Doesn't have to be one of your own)

1. Cindy Lauper in the mid 80s. (Me.) Actually I wasn't intending to be Cindy Lauper, more just like a punk rocker, but when my mother took us to Halloween at the mall, and a passer-by asked me if I was Cindy Lauper, I decided I'd better say yes.

2. My son's scarecrow costume last year, though some commented that he looked more like a tree. But others thought it was an incredibly well-made homemade costume, and I didn't tell them otherwise.

3. When Rich dressed up as Lenny Kravitz a few years back. He spent a sh*tload of money on that get-up and it was worth it.

3.Have you "boo-ed" or been "boo-ed?"

Both. The other day I was taking a much-needed nap when the doorbell rang. I got up in a fog and looked out the front door. No one. Then the back. Again. No one. I thought maybe I'd dreamed it. About 10 minutes later though I opened up the front door and there was a bag of treats on my front step. I cautiously opened the bag and was pleasantly surprised to find it full of things for my little man. Crayons, cookies, Thomas the Tank Engine flash cards.

The accompanying note said I must "boo" two other neighbors within 48 hours and hang the enclosed ghost sign on my front door so others would know I'd already been boo-ed. The next day I went to Walgreens and bought a bunch of crap, intending to boo two of my neighbors with toddlers. I put the bag on my friend and next-door neighbor's step and ran like a bat out of hell. I still haven't boo-ed the other one.

4. What is your Halloween candy personality?

Click Here to find out.

I bought like 5 different kinds of candy. Only two of which made the above list. Reese's and Twizzlers. Reese's = generous soul. Twizzlers = a truly demented sicko. Sounds about right. (In my defense, the Twizzler's were bought after the fact, for fear I might run out of candy and be persecuted by the neighborhood kids.)

5. What was the last Halloween party you attended?

Four days ago. A friend hosted a party for the kiddies and went all out. Halloween parade. Decorate your own pumpkin and cookies. A reading of a spooky Halloween story. Personalized gift bags for the guests. Truly a Martha Stewart affair.

Thank goodness for the local loony

Tomorrow, I will embark on a month-long novel-writing journey. For years I have been saying I was going to write the next great American novel. This month, I am aiming just for 50,000 words as part of National Novel Writing Month .

I'm not going to overthink it. I don't have an outline. Only an opening sentence. "The porch light had been shining for four days." Or something like that. My loose idea stems from a local neighborhood eccentric, who leaves food out for the raccoons, (they WERE here before us, after all).

The plan is to write something like 1,667 words per day, and end up with a rough novel by Nov. 30.

We'll see how it goes. One day at a time.

26 October 2007

Knock on wood

Is this going to be a repeat of the 2004 WS sweep?

What's happening in Boston? Sox leading it 2-0 in the World Series. Pats undefeated. Also undefeated BC beats Virginia Tech in a dramatic fourth-quarter win. Celtics on the cover of Sports Illustrated, touted as a "brand new green machine."

Oh, and we can't forget that this guy here earned everyone in America a free taco last night.

22 October 2007

The Red Sox Win! The Red Sox Win!

(Pics from Boston.com)

As most Red Sox fans, I am walking around today with a perma-grin and bags under my eyes.

What a night! Bring on Colorado!

17 October 2007

Oh nuts! Again

No, it's not alright.

If I see another white towel, or hear the phrase "tribe time" again, I think I'll go mental.

But still, in the land of a dejected Nation, there's still hope. Beckett's up tomorrow.

16 October 2007

What a day!

Sunday was truly a "Norman Rockwell" day in suburbia - dads (and some moms) playing flag football, hot wings on the field, the kiddies running free through the cool, fall air. Then a Pats party (and glorious win!) at the Davis abode.

Fun was had by all, even if the guys couldn't move the next day.

Oh nuts! Part deux

$100 million-plus?

It's alright Dice-K. After THIS loss, it should be all good, right? Right?

14 October 2007

Oh nuts!

We all feel the same way, Kevin.

I am just thankful I didn't stay up to see the extra-inning massacre.

But we're back to square one and now that we've got that out of our systems, it should be all good.

11 October 2007

Funny story

Sometimes, I let my worries get the best of me, and so my mom suggested I practice a form of quick meditation in the mornings. So yesterday morning, while the little man and I were eating breakfast, I took a few deep breaths, closed my eyes, and repeated, "Today, I will control my thoughts. I will control them. I will control them. I will control them."

Then, bang, it was over, and my two-year-old continued happily eating his Rice Krispies.

Later that night, all hell broke loose, as my over-tired son ripped up and tossed his turkey and cheese sandwich in every direction. When I held his arm, and sternly told him that he was, under no circumstances to throw his food, he wriggled free of my grasp, but his palms flat on the table, closed his eyes and repeated, "I will control them. I will control them. I will control them."

There was nothing else I could do but burst out laughing.

Like mother, like son.

Pure joy

What is it that changes from the time when you're a kid and can't get high enough, to when you're an adult? When I attempt to do this over on the "big kid" swings, I just feel sick.

04 October 2007

Just when I thought it was fall

Last weekend, we were out frolicking in the pumpkin patch, enjoying the cool September air at Applecrest Farm. This weekend, we'll most likely be hitting the beach on PI.

The forecast is calling for near 80 degree temperatures.

And though today my son was dressed in t-shirt and shorts, we continued to ring in the spirit of fall by purchasing his Halloween costume (the subject of a future blog). And, during a spontaneous trip to Marshall's, we perused the already burgeoning Christmas isles and picked up a (gasp!) silver bell-encrusted hanger for our wreath.

I know, I know, the holidays are nearly three months away. And even though I plan to "green" my White Christmas this year by giving myself the permission to wipe out all the excess nonsense, I am STILL such a sucker for commercialism.

01 October 2007

A story of strength

Please read WCVB reporter Kelley Tuthill's story of strength as written by yours truly.

Personally, I think it's amazing how people can respond when faced with something like breast cancer.

28 September 2007

Your brain on trash TV

This is your brain on trash TV

Yesterday I did something I haven't done in a long, long time.

I spent my son's nap watching trash tv.


Dr. Phil: The episode was about a hobo named "Jerry" who up and left his wife and two kids for a life spent roaming the Mississippi, paddling downstream and staying in various camps with other like-minded individuals along the River's banks. A couple of documentary filmmakers decide to make a movie about this "free spirit." The daughter, now in her 20s, catches wind of her deadbeat dad's screen debut and contacts Dr. Phil, who then reaches Jerry through the movie's producers. Jerry agrees to appear on the show to confront his daughter, who blames him, at least in part, for the fact that her brother, who spent his youth smoking weed with his dad, committed suicide. Chaos ensues. Nothing's resolved. Jerry thinks he's done nothing wrong.

Montel: Young girl at age 11 starts abusing drugs, becoming sexually active, and prostituting herself to older men for drug money. Now substance-free, the teenager smiles and chuckles as she explains her past to an appalled Montel, who vows to catch the man - whom she met while working out at the gym - who started her turning tricks. This episode left me with several questions. 1.Why did the girl think this all was so funny? 2. Where in THE HELL were her parents? 3. What 13 year old works out at a gym?

Steve Wilkos: You probably never heard of him. Neither had I. He's a former Marine, Chicago police officer and former "head of security" on the Jerry Springer show. Interesting combo. His new talk show just started airing this month and yesterday's episode was a white-trash smorgesbourg of people in bad situations. A drug-happy teenage girl who refuses to give up her baby. A toothless father who lands himself in jail more often than he changes diapers. Wilkos is relentless and badgers his "guests" until they agree to get help. This Springer protege is right on track. Today's episode is about a young girl who is in a cycle of consistently birthing children, then giving them away.

I can feel myself getting dumber.

27 September 2007

A mom's William Tell overture

I don't say all of these things yet, but know they will soon come.

25 September 2007

Adventures in Hip Hop

Monday was lesson two of my quest to become Kanye West's new backup dancer. They way I figure it, the most talented man in Hip Hop should have the most talented female dancer appearing by his side.

Two friends and I decided a few weeks ago that we would take a Hip Hop dance class at a local dance studio. It was my idea actually, as I have always fancied myself a hip-hopper, ever since the day, oh so many years ago, I made up a routine to TLC's "Hat to da back." I still remember it to this day.

We're in the "advanced" class, not because of our exploding talent so much, but because the time worked out for us. I'm proud to say we are keeping up and are giving Beyonce a run for her money. Ok, not so much. But the instructor, who is extremely talented, hasn't kicked us out yet.

We've been working on a routine to West's "Stronger," and when I practiced it in front of my son, (of course screaming toddler-appropriate words over West's profanities), he actually said, "That's great mommy," and walked away. He's two.

Anyway: The pros: hip-hop is a great workout and a good stress reliever, not to mention a way for me to retain my "streetness." The cons: There is a recital at the end of the year. And no, I will not be telling you when it is.

16 September 2007

And we danced...

Whoever said guys can't pole dance. Boy, were they wrong.

The seemingly quiet Derek proved that as I caught him with my camera mid swing around the pole holding up the tent at the annual Mother's Club Cocktail party.

The night began with a rendezvous at the The Black Cow and four glasses of pinot noir for me. (Thanks to Tommy for expensing our bill. Nice!) Then we headed over to the party, which takes place at the ridiculously gorgeous and enormous home of one of the Club's members. Its stellar setting right on the River made for an elegant evening, or as elegant as an evening can get when you have a gang of pole dancers hogging the patch of grass designated for groovin'.

It was a bit more sparsely populated than last year, but there was still plenty of food, drink and good laughs to go around. And feel-good music from Don't Call Me Shirley rounded out the night, which ended when we were the last people on the dance floor, scavenging at the hors d'oeuvres table in an attempt to stave off morning hangovers. It didn't work.

For us, thank goodness the little man was with Grammy and didn't arrive back home until this afternoon, giving us some much needed time to recuperate, which we did with a load of grease ordered from the local pizza shop.

Anyway, check us out. It was a night to remember....or not.

10 September 2007

Shorts- Drinking wine, sand dollars and a little boy in women's shoes

Sunday I took a trip down to Newport with my mom and aunt and a few other post-menopausal women for a wine tasting at Newport Vineyards.

It proved to be a great afternoon with a tour, the tasting and good company. I impressed the group with my vast knowledge of wine, i.e. that I knew the carafes of water at the tasting counter were for rinsing glasses after each taste and the ceramic canisters were for dumping said water. The tasting manager responded kindly to the intelligent questions I posed to him in my quest to raise my wine IQ and my mother lovingly complained that he filled my glass a little more than the others. He also responded very diplomatically when one of the women in our group told him that one of the wines stunk. When the others looked at her aghast, she said, "Well, it does. It has an awful odor!"

The woman conducting the tour taught us much about the wine-making process, including that you shouldn't look down on wines sealed with a screw cap. (If you are buying one sealed in such a way, test first to make sure that it does not wiggle.) Towards the end of September, the public is invited to watch Newport Vineyard's grape-crushing process, and I am thinking that wouldn't be a bad way to spend an early fall afternoon.

I left the winery with two bottles of white, including their delicious ice wine (the tasting manager described it as liquid creme brule), which is made from grapes picked frozen from the vine. Their reds, unfortunately, were a little under par.

Then after the tasting, we adjourned to the home of one of the women in our group, who prepared some delicious grilled chicken, all accoutrements supplied by the rest of the gang, (excluding me because I was rude and showed up empty handed). Fun was had by all, though I felt a little out of my element with all the talk about hot flashes.

My new obsession is sand dollars. I don't know why, but when I spotted a few others collecting them on the beach last week, I too decided I had to collect as many as possible. (Up until now, I have been obsessed with those little spirally shells, but this is a whole new ball game.) So I've been to Plum Island three out of the last four days. Today, in 65-degree weather, we drove down the 6 mile dirt road to get to Sandy Point Reservation. I dragged my toddler up and down the beach looking for the things, which I have decided I will make into Christmas ornaments for people. (If you get one, and don't want it, throw it back into the ocean.) It's not really a hobby befitting a 32-year-old, but nonetheless we spent two hours scouring the beach. When I saw an elderly couple cupping several of the purple-ly fragile shells in their hands, I inquired about them, and they skirted my questions and hustled down the beach, as if I had just asked where their buried treasure could be found. Who knew?

I found one (and I practically had to dive head first into the icy waters to retrieve it) and that brings my grand total up to 8 or so.

And this - well, this is a picture I felt I needed to share. Not something Rich would be thrilled to see. But they are very stylish shoes - even if they are worn with sweat pants!

03 September 2007

Summer's last hurrah

Labor Day - the unofficial end of summer. We decided to go out with a bang, and packed up the family car and made our way down to Falmouth early Friday morning. We were welcomed into the home of our best friend's dad with open arms. HIs accomodations were superb as he basically let us have the run of the hiz-ouse all weekend, a generous thing to start, and even more so when you are bringing along a two-year-old.

The weekend was filled with good eats and spirits, and even better company (including that of Golden Retriever Bailey, who had no shortage of slobbery kisses for all us guests). Upon arrival, we immediately set off for the British Beer Company for some lunch. Though our waitress was nearly deaf and messed up our orders, she was too grandmotherly to snub, so we left her the 20 percent tip and made for the beach across the street complete with a great view of Nantucket Sound.

Early mornings were spent lounging as the cool breeze blew through the trees and rustled the leaves that are too soon going to change and fall. The beach was just a short walk to the end of the street and the gusty wind did not deter us from relaxing, reading and exploring the shoreline where hermit crabs, fish and the odd shrimp-like creature crawled and darted around our feet.

On Saturday, DG and I played tennis, albeit a sub-par game and in the evening we all went to The Flying Bridge and enjoyed a mediocre meal (Native baked scrod sprinkled with Ritz cracker crumbs) but a spectacular view and walk along the boardwalk.

I, unfortunately, missed the no hitter thrown by Red Sox rookie Clay Buchholz on Saturday night, as I was upstairs for three hours trying to get an ornary toddler to fall asleep, which he never really did. But all other house guests assured me that it was very exciting.

Sunday morning we went to Moonakis Cafe for breakfast. Everyone else on the Cape seemed to have the same idea, as there were dozens of people milling around outside when we rolled up hungry and in need of caffeine. But once ushered inside, the food proved to be worth the wait. I stuck with my old standby of a cheese omelet, but ordered the little man some legendary blueberry pancakes so I could sneak a taste. Dee-Lish-Us.

The weekend was a great summer send off, and no traffic to or fro to boot.

Early Sunday afternoon, as we packed up our things, it was already sinking in. Back to life. Back to reality. No more beach at the end of the street. No more eating and drinking like there was no tomorrow. Work awaits. Deadlines loom before me. The chimney man is coming at the crack of dawn Tuesday morning. But then I remember the Cape and the breeze blowing through the trees.

And as we cross the Bourne, then head up 495, we notice that trees are already starting to change. Auburn reds pop through rows of green. Then there is talk of apple picking and halloween. A twinge of excitement runs through me as I entertain thoughts of Christmas. And I know that while the end of summer means the end of a lot of things, it also signifies the beginning of lots of others. And I am glad for it.

23 August 2007

A sign that birthdays are just not the same as when you were a kid

There were few responsibilities. Sure, if you're birthday fell on a weekday in any season but the summer, you had to go to school. But there was a party - cupcakes, ice cream, a song.

But being a grown up and a parent, birthdays aren't those carefree, it's all about me, days anymore. Here is how I spent my day.

At 8 a.m. I am already on the road dragging my toddler to the Registry of Motor Vehicles because I waited until the last possible second to renew my license. Fortunately, we were in and out. Unfortunately, my picture is still horrible.

9 a.m. Enter Brooks Pharmacy for a pregnancy test.

9:30 a.m. Home. Conducting said pregnancy test. I am surprisingly disappointed when only one pink line appears in the little window.

10:00 a.m. Off to the playground. Enjoyable. But if I had my choice (I mean it WAS my birthday) I would have been sipping a mimosa somewhere where there weren't seashorse shaped ride-on toys.

11:45 a.m. We are having lunch at a favorite haunt of ours, Fowle's. We order the same as usual. A Turkey Havarti sandwich. It's so good it's too hard to pass up. We have a very pleasant time. I nearly cry because I am able to have a conversation with my two-year-old.

1 p.m. Naptime. Ahhhh. Sweet. Sweet naptime.

1:30 p.m. I discover another bird in our woodstove pipe. He's flapping his wings like crazy, poor thing. This sends me into a worrying frenzy for the rest of the afternoon about what else can get into our house.

3 p.m. Go out and get mail. Open b-day cards from mom and friends. Listen to messages from friends and family members who have called to send me their best wishes.

4:15 p.m. Naptime over.

4:30 Off to the gym. I watch the end of Oprah while on the treadmill. It's an episode about inspirational guests. A woman with terminal cancer. Another woman hit by a drunk driver. A little boy with a terminal illness who still manages to write poetry about the beauty of life. I feel like a jerk because I am worried about a bird.

6 p.m. Home from gym. Son will not eat dinner. We enlist Grammy's help via telephone. He eats when I promise him one of the cupcakes left inside my door by a well-meaning, but damned friend. He does. Then he stuffs the cupcake into his mouth, chews, and spits it all out onto the table. Apparently I have the only toddler who doesn't like chocolate.

6:30 p.m. I am counting down the seconds until Rich gets home. I am tired, smelly and hungry.

7 p.m. Rich arrives home with a pastry box from Cafe Di Sienna. I am both excited and pissed at the prospect of eating a 1,000 calorie dessert.

7:15 p.m. Rich goes to pick up our Thai food (a special birthday request). I read bedtime books to our son and nearly fall asleep in the middle of the Adventures of Max the Minnow.

7:30 p.m. Rich comes home. We put our son to bed.

7:45 p.m. We unpack said Thai food and eat our Tofu Pad Thai while our son screams bloody murder from his room.

7:48 p.m. I go into his room.
7:50 p.m. Rich goes into his room
8 p.m We decide to let him scream.

8:15 We engage in our well-developed method of getting birds out of the wood stove.

9:15 p.m. Bird still in woodstove. Rich and I are tired and pissed. We sit down to eat dessert. Rich sings Happy Birthday. We laugh and dig in. I feel myself getting fatter, but enjoy every minute of it.

9:30 Take a shower.

10 p.m. I read in bed, and fall asleep.

All in all a good day.

22 August 2007

This day in history

On this day in history 1975, I was born.

Yup. That makes me 32 freakin' years old.

I'm not going to get all reflective and sappy. But turning another year older does make me think about the things I haven't yet accomplished that I thought I would have at a much younger age. Most notably, writing a book. When I was 25, I said by the time I turned 28, I would have penned the next great American novel. But 4 years after my deadline expired, here I am, with a computer full of good starts, but no finished product. Oh well.

On the other hand, I definitely don't feel that old. In fact, sometimes I still don't feel old enough to be a wife and mother. Hell, I was like 23 before I finally realized that I could actually purchase alcohol myself.

I am a true believer that age is only in the mind. I still laugh at fart jokes, watch Christmas Vacation at least 10 times over the holidays and drink sometimes just for the buzz, though I have seriously upgraded on the method.

17 August 2007

Lori McKenna rocks

It's been three days, but the euphoria from attending Lori McKenna's CD release party has not yet worn off, though her CD, which I received a week early from Warner Brothers, has worn thin. I have been listening to the thing nonstop.

McKenna's story is one that has been told over and over. The plumber's wife and Stoughton mother of five, long a staple on the Boston folk scene, is discovered by country music star Faith Hill, who covers three of McKenna's songs. The pair appear together on Oprah. McKenna goes on tour with Hill and husband Tim McGraw, who co-produces her new album, Unglamorous. People might think McKenna is lucky that Hill found her. As for me - who has never been a fan of country music - I think it's the other way around.

I had the pleasure of interviewing McKenna for a piece that will appear in the September issue of Bay State Parent Magazine. She's humble, pleasant, down-to-earth and makes great music to boot.

I must admit that I'd never heard of McKenna until about a year ago when best pal DG told me she'd seen her at Club Passim in Cambridge, an institution in the local folk scene. And even then, I had not heard her music. But when I popped in Unglamorous, I was hooked. And for those fans who were worried about McKenna's transition to a major Nashville label, it's not straight country. Yes, it has a certain twang about it, but it just rocks.

Seeing her live at her CD release party was even better. She's personable, weaving family tales in between songs, and sounds better than she does on disc. She performed most of the tracks from her new album, and didn't waiver when the ship rocked in the wake of a passing boat.

(Lori McKenna rocks the house during her CD release party on the Boston Harbor.)

She was even gracious enough to take a picture with me and DG, who came along for the ride.

(Me, Lori McKenna and my best pal DG)

After a couple of glasses of Merlot, I began to take pics of the characters on board, including a Jesus look-a-like and a man resembling Melvin from the movie Office Space who attempted to pick me up. It didn't work, and DG was horrified. A woman sitting near us glared at me as DG and I guffawed and in general had a great time. The best part of the night? Me and DG get to wear really pretty shoes.

(DG and I get to wear pretty shoes. That's my foot on the right.)

Another highlight: At the end of the night, just after the boat docked and one of the security guards shouted that unless you were family or with the band, you needed to disembark, now! I looked at him, with balls made of Merlot, and asked, "But what if you're just a really cool person?" Not thinking I was very funny, he looked me square in the eye, a scowl on his face, and said, "I can't go home until you do."

But of course, the REAL highlight of the night was the music. Check out some of it and find out more about Lori McKenna here.

I promise. You won't be disappointed.

12 August 2007

It's a zoo out there

Saturday morning, we packed up and headed down to Little Rhody for a trip to Roger Williams Park Zoo.

The prospect of viewing creatures you rarely get to see in nature is always a little exciting, especially with an inquisitive toddler in tow. However, I always seem to come away a bit disappointed because, well, animals like zebras, anteaters, giraffes and bald eagles aren't really meant to be kept in captivity and so they punish us humans by hiding or remaining so still as to almost be invisible to the intruding eye. The elephants would only show their behinds. The kangaroos lay flat in the tall grass. And the penguins huddled together in a corner where there was no glass window through which to steal an optimal view.

And while it was difficult to imagine the bison on the "Marco Polo Trail" in the middle of Providence, RI, and we only caught glimpses of the more interesting species, the day was not without its highlights:

- The giraffe exhibit was the most popular by far, given one male's uncomfortably obvious and incessant quest to make another baby giraffe, and the female giraffe version of, "Now now, I have a headache. And besides, do you really NEED an audience." People were drawn to this like they are to a horrific traffic accident. My mom could be heard saying, "Did you see the size of his....?" as could numerous other onlookers.

(The giraffe that would not give up.)

-For my two-year-old, the animals were slightly more interesting than last year (especially when they actually appeared to be alive. "Mommy, he's moving," he cried at the bison.) But the most interesting thing to him was the water fountain where kids were dunking their heads for relief from the heat. We stood there for several minutes while he first put in a tentative hand, then both his arms and finally his baseball-capped head. He stood there dancing his little toddler dance and screaming, "I like that!" The other thing that made said toddler incredibly happy was Grammy's visit to the zoo gift shop, where he was presented with a safari hat, two plastic animal drinking cups and the be-all, end-all - a safari truck with trailer and ATV.

(Left, the water fountain. Below, the safari hat and truck and trailer courtesy of Grammy.)

- The polar bears may no longer grace the rough grounds of Roger Williams Park Zoo, but the place did have their fair share of turtles - which made appearances in Tropical South America, Africa, the Reptile House and on the Marco Polo Trail. Rich and I failed to see the importance of the turtle in our geographical history until this point.

- Our son was most excited about seeing the farmyard animals. For some reason, in the days leading up to our trip, he could be repeatedly heard saying that he wanted to see a turkey and a chicken at the zoo. But when we got to this "farmyard," the pot-bellied pig lay sleeping (at least I think he was only sleeping) inside his miniature house, as did the goat. The cow hid behind a tall hay bale. And a rumored donkey was nowhere to be seen. Oh yeah, and the damn farmyard had no chickens! What kind of a farm has no chickens? However, there was this very cute photo opportunity with Fred the field mouse.

All in all, it was an enjoyable day. We spent some QT with Grammy and an impromptu trip to the movies to see Harry Potter topped it off for Rich and I. Fun was had by all.

09 August 2007

I'm not saying you have to be carbon-neutral...

We can't all be the Gore's. But I am really angered by people that don't recycle.

Case in point. My neighbors - a family of five that hauls their overflowing trash bins to the curb every week, launching renegade cheese wrappers onto lawns throughout the neighborhood.

Again, I am no environmental martyr - my obsessive fear of bugs sends me running to the phone to call the exterminator each Spring - but I do buy environmentally-friendly cleaning products, shut off lights in rooms that are not occupied, use the air conditioner only when the air is as thick and soupy as beef stew and find the time to put paper in one bin and glass and plastic in another. It's not hard.

I was actually giddy when I read in my local paper months ago that there would be a fine imposed to anyone found guilty of NOT recycling, but then I remembered that the garbage men, who are extremely friendly and indulge my vehicle-obsessed toddler by giving him a wave every Friday morning, graciously collected and quietly disposed of all of our unsold yard sale items (some which I'm guessing were prohibited curbside) this spring. They are not going to rat out anyone stuffing Coke bottles into a trash bag.

But seriously, recycling is the freakin' easiest thing you can do. I'm not sure if one family of five is going to clear landfills or hault global warming, but how can someone care so little about the environment that they would purposely send plastic to slowly breakdown in the ground?

If the Mayor will hire me, perhaps I can secretly drive around the city, toddler in tow, and get footage of all the people that don't recycle. They can call me Special Under Cover Environmental Investigator for the City. Of course, I might be spotted by someone from the Mother's Club, deemed a vagrant and be banned from the annual cocktail party held on the sprawling front lawn overlooking the Merrimack River. And THAT would be unacceptable.

08 August 2007

How I would look if I was a comic book character

Life's little inconveniences

Today was the third day in a row that the barrel of disinfectant wipes closest to the treadmills I work out on at the gym was empty.

They have a "rule" that everyone must wipe off their machines after use. And usually I adhere strictly to this social statute. But since they ran out of wipes (there must be some kind of strike at the disinfectant-wipe-making company) the next best thing they have to offer is a roll of paper towels and a bottle of disinfectant they've inconveniently placed all the way at the front of the gym.

Monday I was so tired, I couldn't bear to take the extra steps there and back, and at the risk of being labeled "that girl," I didn't give my treadmill a wipe down. Yesterday, conscious of onlookers around me and feeling a tad guilty for my lack of consideration the previous day, I went ahead and wiped. Today, annoyed that they had not yet filled the barrel, I bucked the system, and purposely did not wipe.

Then I realized that if other sweathogs at the gym were operating in the same manner, I was likely using a damn dirty machine. So I have instead decided that on my walk TO the treadmill, I will stop and grab a paper towel, spritz it with cleaner and wipe off my machine BEFORE I work out. Just like how John Cage in Ally McBeal wanted a fresh toilet bowl every time he peed, I feel I deserve a sweat-free machine before I work out.

It's every sweathog for herself.

07 August 2007

Talk about a waste of time

My "normal" business hours range from 12:30 to 2:30, anytime after 7 p.m. and sometimes into the wee hours of the night. On weekends, it's a free-for-all. I work during naptime, after bed, Saturday and Sunday when I can, and on those rare occasions when we have a babysitter, then too.

That's why I am sitting here fuming that I just wasted several of those precious hours searching for a tiny piece of paper with the contact info of a source I need for a story I am writing. I solicited this source while climbing the monkey bars at the playground with my son a couple of weeks ago, and now that I have been given the go-ahead for the story, it's nowhere to be found.

I calculated the time spent looking for this info, and if ever turns up, I am going to attempt to add two hours of my hourly rate to the peanuts I will make for writing the damn thing.

This scenario has caused me to think about how I spend my valuable "work" time. I could have been using this time to pitch other, more lucrative stories. Or to research stories I already have assigned and have contact info for.

My son is still asleep, so perhaps I could salvage what little time I have left. Wait! Who is that I hear harkening from his bedroom?

Murphy's Law strikes again.

29 July 2007


(If you haven't read HP and the Deathly Hallows yet and plan to, don't read this post.)

One week and several hours after purchasing it, I have finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

What a satisfying end to a tremendously entertaining series. Snape is good - mostly. Voldemort dies. Harry lives, though almost until the very end, J.K. Rowling wants you to think he's going to die, and she does a pretty good job of making you feel like it may happen. Dumbledore's actions, as they are revealed, were questionable, though I believe done for the right reasons. It just goes to show that even the most wise wizards are still human.

Those people we wanted to end up together, did. And in the epilogue, we get a glimpse of their lives after Hogwarts and youth. (If you are left wanting more, you can read an interview with Rowling here to find out more details about some of the characters' adult lives.) My one beef is that none of Harry's and Ginny's children are named after poor Fred Weasley.

Some of it was perhaps predictable, but had the book ended any other way, I would have been extrodinarily disappointed. Now that the story is complete, I look forward to starting over from book 1.

24 July 2007

I'm just wild about Harry

(Professor Trelawney reads the fortune of a Muggle present at a Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows release party Friday night.)

No. I am not done with the book. It's 759 pages and I have a toddler!

But I did purchase Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows shortly after midnight on Friday. And yes. I attended a book release party. But it was under the guise of reporting on it for my local paper. No. I didn't dress up. But yes. I thought it would be funny to go as Rita Skeeter, horribly annoying reporter for the Daily Prophet, a wizard paper.

It was incredible to see how much excitement a BOOK caused amongst readers both young and old. Nearly 1000 people showed to the party held at my local, independent bookstore, which featured games, crafts, fortune telling, animal demonstrations. treats and a costume contest. The only thing missing was a full-on Quidditch match.

I am about 400 pages into the book, and, well...it's incredible, and dark. As the owner of the bookstore told me, Deathly Hallows is "not something you would normally give your 7- or 8-year-old."

But I, for one, am enjoying it.

My biggest hope? That Draco Malfoy finally gets his.

19 July 2007


(Medium Maureen Wood, in the basement of The Windham restaurant in Windham, NH, channels the ghost of Jacob, an angry and violent man who haunts the place. Please note that the EMF meter in the bottom right hand corner is bright red, a sign a spirit is near. )

It's been 6 days, and still I am running on little sleep. Nights just haven't been the same since I went on the ghosthunting expedition with the New England Ghost Project. I am more scared now than I was in the deserted restaurant with no one but DG to protect me. I am afriad that every time I peek out from under the blankets I will see an orb, or, the holy grail of ghosthunting, a full body apparition, hovering above me. (Now I know why my mother BEGGED me not to go. You were right, mom.)

Besides the fact that my dashboard lights blew out on the way there, the night started out easy enough. The restaurant was full of people. Lights were blazing. And DG and I were putting Ray Parker, Jr. to shame with our rendition of the theme song to the movie Ghostbusters. (Rich, by the way, has been referring to me as Dr. Venkman since Friday.)

We hung around for a couple of hours, listened to the group's live radio show, talked to the techies who were busy setting up base camp with cameras and EMF readers and infrared video. At midnight, though, the real fun started. Contractual obligations prohibit me from telling you exactly what happened. (The full story will appear in Merrimack Valley Magazine in September.) But we were visited by Jacob and watched him attack the Project's lead investigator Ron Kolek when he didn't want to answer any more of his questions.

I suppose my continued fright could mean I believe in this stuff, but I was also scared after I watched the Blair Witch Project, a movie in the theater I thought was completely ridiculous. It's funny how the mind will grow an idea that is planted in it.

11 July 2007

I hope I don't see dead people

This Friday, I am going to be doing something that I know is going to scare the shit out of me.

For a magazine piece I am writing, I am going on a ghost hunt.

My guides will be the people at the New England Ghost Project , an outfit out of Dracut that investigates paranormal activity in peoples' homes and businesses.

My journey will take me to the Windham Restaurant long reported to be haunted. Windows open, chairs move, the ghost of Jacob roams the basement. Awesome.

The folks at the NEGP have been there before, and if you click on the pic on their home page, you can hear all about it. I listened, for about a minute, but Maureen Wood, a medium, channeling the ghost of Jacob, completely freaked me out. Heavy breathing. Gravelly voice. Eyes closed. I do not want to talk to dead people.

So why am I doing it?

Because as someone that loves to write, I think it will be fun to WRITE about this. I only wish I could do it without actually having to go in a dark basement with all sorts of sophisticated equipment, and potentially rub elbows with old dead eyes. Because I AM SCARED. Which is why I have enlisted the help of best pal D.G., who thinks the ghost stuff is just a bunch of bullshit. She will act as bodyguard against evil spirits.

What's worse, in case you haven't already checked the date, Friday is the 13th. Again. Awesome. To make it worse, we will be starting at 10 p.m. Double awesome. And if you are interested, the show will be broadcast live. Find the link on NEGP's Web site. And if you hear someone screaming like they've seen a ghost - it's me.

08 July 2007

There's no sorry in tennis

Despite the ominous clouds that hung in the sky much of the morning, when D.G. - up for a weekend visit - suggested we play a bit o' tennis this morning, I felt up to the challenge.

Having not played, for oh about 4 years, Rich and I dusted off our rackets, packed up the little man in the car, and, with D.G. talking a lot of smack about how she was going to open up a can of whoop-ass on us, we headed to Cashman Park, a perfect spot, complete with tennis court AND playground. Rich and I thought we could tag-team it, one getting his "ass whipped" while the other climbed the faux boat with the little man. But much to all our dismay, the court was taken by a mom and son duo who mostly seemed to be stopping for snacks at the net.

So, it was off to Atkinson Common.

Yes, two courts free! But as we approached the courts and I saw two women dressed in serious tennis gear, playing hard (complete with grunts), I panicked. I am not much of a tennis player, and often spent much of my playing time running over to the next court to retrieve ill-hit balls. But, we were here, and I was jazzed to play. So I let it slide.

I took first shift while Rich and the little man, dragging around his little red wagon, walked around the Common. I waited for my ass-whooping, but it never came. Me and D.G. are actually pretty on par when it comes to tennis. So the first few minutes were less like a tennis match and more like a warmup to an Abbott and Costello routine. But then we got our groove on and managed a few good volleys. I love the "thwack" of a well-hit ball.

Rich was up. I'm not exactly sure how it went because the little man was obsessed with the tiny bridge that spans the tiny manmade pond on the other side of the park. But when we returned for snack, there was a couple of good rallies, but again, no ass-whooping, as promised. My turn, again. It went something like this.

"Thwack." Sorry. "Thwack." Sorry. "Thwack." Sorry. And D.G. reminding herself and me, "There's no sorry in tennis."

That's my tough warrior princess.

All totaled, we played for about an hour and a half. We were tired, dripping with sweat and sore. But damn it felt good. Thanks D.G.

Next time, there will be an ass-whooping. Only, it will be all yours.

Traveling the marginal way with a toddler

The two men "hike" to the top of a rocky knoll in Ogunquit.

We three explorers set out Friday morning for Perkins Cove, a haven for fanny-pack wearing, tee-shirt buying tourists, but home to the scenic Marginal Way, a three-mile path that hugs the coastline of Ogunquit, ME, and offers spectacular views of wildlife, waves rolling into tiny inlets and a dilapidated, spooky house bearing a wigged skeleton head in it's large front window overlooking the ocean.

It was an enjoyable and pleasantly uneventful morning. We moved at a turtle's pace down the path, our son pausing to painstakingly pick out a special rock every few feet. He also insisted on growling every time he spotted a child a bit older than him, which we've determined means he's excited. We made it about a half-mile in a half-hour before we decided we'd better turn around and start heading back to reach the car by dark. Other than that, there's not too much to report, except that when spotted a few feet behind my family holding my son's sippy cup, two men holding hands accused me of having a drinking problem.

05 July 2007

How can this happen?

There are a lot of things I just don't understand. But at least many of them I can wrap my head around enough to know that.

This however, I just can't grasp, at all. Not only the sheer brutality of the physical attack, but also, how anyone, nevermind a mother, could knowingly conceal from police that this was happening to another human being. And the fact that the biological father places NO blame on the mother is also unfathomable and leads me to believe there was a VERY good reason for him being barred from seeing his 3-year-old daughter, who was so disfigured, Boston Childrens' Hospital doctors could not put her back together again.

When I read the report online, I stared at the two mugshots of Bryan M. James, 34, and Jessica Silveira, 26, and imagined all the punishments that would befit a crime of this magnitude. I don't think I should go into detail about those thoughts here. What really pisses me off though, is that SOMEONE, a friend, relative, neighbor, the DSS workers who had been working with the family for months, HAD to know something wasn't right.

All I know is that someone didn't do their job - legally and morally - and now an innocent, 3-year-old girl, is suffering, and will suffer all her life for it. And that makes me extremely sad.

28 June 2007

Shameless self promotion (again)

The summer issue of Merrimack Valley Magazine is out and each issue looks better than the last.

Besides articles on colonial landscapes and a summer guide to the Merrimack Valley, I have FINALLY taken the plunge and done something that I have been talking about for years - publishing a short story. It's in the summer issue, and I find myself wanting everyone - and no one - to read it. But, it's out there now, and it is what it is. But it's done.

Also, thanks to the amazing KJ I have been fortunate enough to write for Bay State Parent Magazine as of late, and am really enjoying it.

Check out the July issue for a piece on the performers of Circus Smirkus a popular Vermont-based youth circus that makes its way to Mass this summer.

21 June 2007

My new Kenmore dishwasher is saving my life

I don't know quite where to start, so I guess I'll start at the very beginning.

I am a horribly annoying worrier. I won't go into details, except to say that my worrying (most often about household issues- mold is a favorite) many times reaches unreasonable and irrational levels. It is heightened even more when I begin to "research" concerns online.

So, when our dishwasher broke, I would say no less than 10 months ago, I decided we should NOT get a new one. "I just don't think our plumbing system can handle a new one," I told my husband.

This assertion, I believed, was based somewhat on fact. Again, I won't go into details, except to say that my "facts" are often based on assertions I actually have no business making.

Anyway, for those said 10 months, I was ALWAYS at the sink, cursing under my breath that my family had the audacity to use so many dishes. I considered converting to paper. But, after trying to calculate which was the lesser of two evils for the environment - using absurd amounts of water or chopping down trees - I decided I'd better stick with my dishware.

I was miserable. But I persevered. And I bought environmentally-friendly dishwashing soap.

But a few months ago, when we decided we would put our house on the market, we HAD to get a new dishwasher. So, we did. About two weeks ago. While it was being installed, I was a nervous wreck and I annoyed the plumber by sauntering into the kitchen every so often to ask if it was leaking yet. "Nope, not leaking," he told me.

When he left, I was afraid to test it. But I did. And guess what? No leaks!

My new Kenmore dishwasher is saving my life.

No more naptime dishwashing sessions. No more hour-long after dinner clean-ups. No longer am I a slave to the sponge (mold and bacteria!). And no longer do I glare at my husband when, how dare he, reaches for a second drinking glass. I feel as if I have gained my life back.

Plus, we got the warranty.

And now, we're not moving. And I am beginning to think that the whole relocating thing was a ruse for this new appliance.

04 June 2007

recalling early d&d days

So, this Sunday, while reading the Globe magazine, I was reminded of my donut-tree-dress wearing days. This article on
adolescent coffee drinking brought me back to the tender age of 14, when I took my first sip of the liquid energy I have come to rely so heavily on today.

I don't remember ever drinking coffee prior to slinging donuts at D&D, but then again, I still don't remember how I managed to wake up in said D&D dress on the morning after my 21st birthday, so that doesn't mean much.

What I do remember is working at the Dunk before they actually had iced coffee machines. In the summer, when demand was high, we would continuously brew pots of coffee and leave them out on the counter, uncovered, until the next day. We stored as many as we could in the mini refrigerator we kept behind the counter, but on Saturdays and Sundays, when the Warwick beach goers sporting their bikini tops and cutoffs streamed in for their large iced coffees with extra cream and 20 sugars, we poured the coffee from the pots on the counter over tall, full cups of ice, and hoped for the best. (As an aside, after multiple customers returned bearing iced coffees with dead flies floating near the top, our location finally invested in machines).

During my young, "health conscious" days, I used to drink my iced-coffee black, loaded with sweet & low. That is, I would drink this if I wasn't sipping a wine cooler provided for me by one of the shop's managers, a 40-something woman and parent to two adolescent girls, with whom I often worked evening shifts and who probably still works there today, not that there's anything wrong with that.

Anyway, I'd drink so much iced coffee, usually on an empty stomach- in those days I didn't eat - and I remember spending shifts calling a friend of mine who was transferred to a D&D about a mile away, and comparing notes as to how many coffees we drank and how "buzzed" we felt. Good times.

No wonder I am so high strung now.

Other things I remember about my d&d days:

- the old guy who every day used to order an extra-small coffee (no longer available now) and then complain that it was the size of a thimble.

- the time I got pissed at a customer, and spread horseradish sauce on his egg and cheese bagel.

- being challenged by a co-worker to take one bite of every treat that D&D offered, then, after meeting such challenge, attempting to drink a combination of mustard and raw eggs to throw it all up.

- crawling into work at 4 a.m. to make the donuts after a heavy night of drinking and mistakenly picking up the fresh-from-the-fryer rack with my bare hands.

-the day we shed the orange, pink and beige donut tree dresses for the more flattering and stylish gray polyester pants and maroon polos.

30 May 2007

Don't hate me 'cause I'm busy

Starting this weekend, I plan to revive Singuloso.

This whole getting your house ready to sell thing is for the birds. It's starting to look nicer now than it ever did, and it's making me want to stay - sometimes. I am living the nightmare known as "Design to Sell," only I don't have a fancy interior designer telling me what to do.

Ok. gotta go for now. My son is sleeping in his pack and play in his bare bedroom (new carpet being installed tomorrow) and he is bound to wake up at any time. So I better get some sleep.

Stay tuned.

23 May 2007

The Week of Season Finales

I never thought I would say it. But 24 stunk. I won't recap here, but at the end of the two-hour season finale Monday night, I did not, as I have at the end of all other seasons, feel depressed because it was over. In fact, I felt glad, because I will gain an hour of my life back each and every Monday night instead of watching a show which has sadly gone down the tubes. Of course, I will watch when the next season starts up in January, but I pray that the storyline will NOT involve Jack tryng to get locate his crazy girlfriend. And what was that ridiculous exchange between Jack and Audrey's father? That was perhaps some of the worst acting I have seen on the show.

Anyway, then last night, I watched most of the season of Dancing With the Stars, but shut it off an hour and a half into it without even finding out who won. I just couldn't take any more memory montages that included Lance Bass talking about Joey Fatone's cha-cha abilities.

And I will NOT be watching the two-hour Idol finale tonight 1) Because it's the season finale of LOST (insert excited shivers here) and 2) Because I refuse to watch that idiot Blake beat-box any longer than I have to. BLAKE, it's a s-i-n-g-i-n-g competition, dawg. One of the most fun things about watching Idol is how Rich and I are able to predict, just as easy as Jack Bauer going rogue at any given time, what Randy will say when it comes time to hand out judgements to the contestants. His repetoire consists of "So, yo yo yo," "You know what dawg," "So, you know what," and many variations on these three.

Also, it's too frustrating to try and figure out what's going on with Paula Abdul's lips. Straight up.

Speaking of Lost, I have no theories. It almost hurts my head when I try and figure out what the hell is going on. But in addition to finding out clues about all the mysteries of the Island, and why the hell they are there, I hope the writers will solve the love square going on between Jack, Sawyer, Kate and Juliet. Even though Jack has been pissing me off as of late, I am still hoping he ends up with Kate, though I know that it will have the same effect on the show as Rachel and Ross getting together on Friends, and Sam and Diane hooking up on Cheers.

One season finale of note which took place last week, The Office. That is one f'ing funny show. Michael gets back with Jan because of her boob job, but those bastards at NBC left us with the same clifhanger as last year - Pam and Jim - and I LOVE them for it.

14 May 2007

Birthday Boy

Well, another successful birthday has come and gone.

My son turned two on the 11th, as you know, and it was a weekend of birthday activities.

First, the butter.

Now, for those of you who don't know about the butter, and most of you probably don't, I can't really offer you much except that it has been a tradition in our family passed down from one generation to the next. On the morning of a birthday, you are supposed to wake up the birthday boy/girl by smearing a glob of greasy margarine, or, in my case, I Can't Believe It's Butter, on their nose. Last year, it was done to smiles. This year, as you can see from the picture above, the little man wasn't too thrilled. But still, when my mother asked on the day of his party if I had put butter on his nose the previous morning, I was able to give her a resounding yes!

During a family discussion, I was told once that it was for good luck. A little research comes up with this explanation from a birthday traditions around the world Web site.

Canada - Greasing the nose with butter or margarine. In Atlantic Canada (Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Newfoundland) the birthday child is ambushed and their nose is greased for good luck. The greased nose makes the child too slippery for bad luck to catch them. This tradition is reputed to be of Scottish decent.

I suppose this makes sense since I believe I am about 1/64th Scottish.

Anyhow, this year I forgot to grease Rich, whose birthday passed on the 8th with much less fanfare, I am afraid, than our son's. I suppose that means he is doomed for a year of bad luck. Perhaps if I get him on my birthday, I can reverse the curse.

Anyway, the party went off without a hitch. Last year, for his first birthday, I was worried about the fact that I didn't have fancy holders for the condiments. This year, we were smart and ordered pizza and bought four cases of beer. That way, people were too drunk to realize we did not have quite the spread as last year. But it certainly made for a stress-free partay. I was so relaxed, I didn't even vaccuum the welcome mat before guests started arriving.

Obviously, gifts were the highlight of the party. And I don't know if you can see from this pic, but my son was literally jumping for joy when we finally let him in the family room with all the presents.

It's hard to figure out yet which one is his favorite, but he certainly enjoyed playing on his sand and water table he got from Nani, which, by the way, took me two hours to put together!

(p.s. the little blond cutie in the pic is Braedan's main squeeze!)

10 May 2007

All growns up

To the 2 or 3 people who read this blog, I apologize for having been so lax in keeping my posts up to date.

My neglect is the result of being burnt out for the past week or so. And every time I sign into Blogger, all I end up doing is noticing how badly I need a manicure as I look at my still hands splayed out on the keyboard.

Anyway, my son turns 2 tomorrow and we went to the market this morning to order his Thomas birthday cake. It's all he's been talking about for the last month, and had I not gotten him one, there was sure to be mutiny. He kept repeating "Thomas cake, Thomas cake," over and over again to the bakery guy as he took our order.

It's amazing to me how in the last few weeks, his vocabulary had just ballooned, and all he does now is talk - and repeat. In fact, every once in a while, he comes out with "damn it" and I don't know where it's coming from, because I usually, and I stress the word usually, try to refrain from swearing in front of him, and I normally tend to choose a different four-letter word when I am angry. Every time I hear him say it, I think of that scene in "A Christmas Story" when Ralphie is helping his father change the tire, and he drops the bolts and says, "Fudge" only he doesn't say fudge. Then I think of the woman on the phone who says, "He probably heard it from his father." I'll have to ask Rich.

The other habit my son has gotten into is to hound people. At the grocery store the other day, while I was checking out the grapes, Braedan kept holding his animal cracker in some old guy's face and repeating, "animal cracker, animal cracker." He literally said it about 20 times (the grapes were not looking good that day). Either the old guy was deaf, or he was giving the best facial ever. Then today at the playground, he did the same thing to another old guy, except this time it was a munchkin, and my son was not parked in a grocery cart. Instead, he kept following the guy around. The man did not seem amused.

He's just getting too old too fast. He knows his ABC's, his numbers and his colors. We can actually have a conversation. Yesterday he let me know that a blueberry I dropped rolled underneath the oven. He's making up his own songs and talking on the phone. He knows how to ask for something so that I can't refuse.

My little baby is all growns up.

03 May 2007

I should be rich

According to Salary.com, if I were paid for the work I do as a stay-at-home mom, I would make over $145,000 per year - and that's if I was only a mediocre parent. The cap for my area on the North Shore tops $174,000. Now that's what I'm talking about.

Now I know that in today's world, being able to stay at home is a privilege - and I really do feel lucky for this luxury - but this is what I feel like I should get paid at the end of every day. And I only have one two-year-old son. Would the salary double if I had two?

The whole issue got me to thinking. Am I really a stay-at-home mom?

Yes, I physically am at home. I am here when he wakes at 6 a.m. in the morning. We go to the park, have play dates and sing and dance our butts off in music class each week, and can basically do whatever we want whenever we want. It is my most prized possession, being able to stay home and watch him grow and learn new things each and every day.

But I also work as a freelance writer. I write when he's napping, conduct interviews at night and on the weekends, and sometimes, when it's appropriate, I bring him with me to cover stories. What does this make me? Does it demote me to quasi stay-at-home-mom status? I don't know.

But what I do know is that the last few weeks it's really been wearing on me, this dual role I am trying to play day in and day out, switching gears by the hour and never slowing down. One minute I am sweeping crumbs from a soynut butter and jelly sandwich from the kitchen floor, and the next I am brainstorming ideas for an article on solar power I have been assigned for an environmental news Web site. Somehow, the two just don't seem to go together. But still I manage to persevere every week.

With bags under my eyes and caffeine running through my veins, I somehow (usually) meet my deadlines. I manage to write something coherent and printable. I'm just wondering when my luck is going to run out. And I am thinking about that $145,000 pay check. But would I want to be paid for something I truly love to do? I'm not so sure. But a mom can dream.

01 May 2007

Are you a Soccer Mom?

Read this article by yours truly, find out, and let me know.

29 April 2007

Rockin' the South Shore

No truer word has ever been spoken.

In our quest to scour the South Shore for a more convenient home base, we stopped at this unlikely jewel in Hanover for a bite to eat on Saturday afternoon in between house drive by's (not the shooting kind).

Though I am sure some out-of-town motorists driving down Washington Street pull into the parking lot expecting legs and eggs, apparently, The Squires has no connection to the Revere strip club of the same name. I don't know what kind of rep this place has on the South Shore, but don't let the somewhat shady exterior fool you. For $37, we ordered 3 Sam Adams, mozarella sticks, a burger and fries and the best grilled chicken salad I have ever had. At a place with white and red checked vinyl cloths on the tables, I expected iceburg lettuce and a slab of rubbery chicken, but what I got was real Mesclun greens and strips of char-grilled chicken sprinkled with cranberries, walnuts and feta cheese. Rich was equally impressed with his burger.

What the place lacks in atmosphere, (tired knotty pine walls with beer signs hung on much of the available wall space) it makes up for with its food.

"I know this place is so townie, but I like it," Rich said taking a swig of his Sam.

Anyway, it was a good start to our South Shore excursion, which, after four hours of house-gawking, continued with a trek to the City of Champions - Rich's old stomping grounds - to see the Sergi's, then an impromptu party at Stoneforge Grill in South Easton, where Rich was treated to a surprise visit by a couple of long-lost high school pals. His hyena-like laughter could be heard throughout the restaurant as he told stories with Serg and Wayne and sipped his Guinness. After, we were fortunate enough to be invited to crash at the North Warren Inn, especially after my five glasses of pinot noir.

Fun was had by all, and I hope we get to do it again very soon.