Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tomorrows promise.

My Olivia turned 9 last week. I am really still in a little bit of disbelief about it. I still have a diaper bag tucked in a closet around here, that has remnants of her babyhood in it, along with beach sand, an old swim diaper, and a very expired lip balm. I swear. I just found it the other day. There was a pacifier in the inside pocket of the bag. I laughed when I saw it. I tried so hard to get her to take one, and she never did. Ever. Every time we drove out of state with her to see family, her screaming, torturous shrieks literally had me crying right along with her. I jammed that pacifier in her little rosebud mouth, only to make her more angry. I never learned. She was the boss. Some days, I still feel like she is.

My mom and dad came for her birthday. They have always been there, for every mile stone for all of my girls, but a little bit more for Olivia. They were there the second she entered this world. I remember my mom telling me, "This baby will never go without. Anything she ever needs, she will have". And really, they have been amazing like that. For all of my girls. Just really present in their lives. And in mine.

We sat and watched the girls play in the neighbors driveway, where their best friend lives. They were running in the sprinkler, and eating ice pops, stopping now and then to write in chalk. They laughed and sang at the top of their lungs. It was sweet to watch them, but even more so to listen to. They were free, and just being kids. Enjoying the first real sweet summer days, of many to come.

My Dad looked sad. He is going to be 72. He shook his head and said that he doesn't envy us, and worries even more for those girls. He said he is glad to be where he is. Done. Kids raised. College tuition's, including his own, paid for. We all agreed that we, David and I, are part of a generation that might not do as well as they did. And the girls seems not promised. It doesn't seem like the world will be their oyster. It seems, things have really shifted. I am afraid they will continue to go like that, for a long time to come.

9 years ago, when I had Olivia, I was a newlywed, and a new Mom, and a new homeowner. I felt that the world was our oyster. That life seemed to just be continuing on an upward climb. Things were only going to get better, and what we did today, would promise an even better day for my new baby. I believed that my own life's possibilities always seemed endless. Obstacle free. I never doubted this to be untrue for my own children.

I watched my girls run through the sprinkler the other day, and never felt more unsure of that possibility.

 I could barely hold back my tears.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Scenes from a very long weekend...

9 happened fast.

So unbelievably fast.

Requested birthday gift. That and feather earrings.
(not a fan of the earrings)

She was just blowing out an Elmo cake.

Memorial Day weekend always reminds me of being a new Mom.

So much between now and then.

Sweet summer is here.

And I have begun to paint.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

They call it a vacation?

Thanks to a wonderfully merciful winter, that was warmer than normal, and kept our snow shovel firmly hung on the wall, in it's place, and a giant bag of salt next to my front door, unopened, we are now poised for the end of the school year. It is coming. Sooner than most realized. And earlier than ever. I talk to wide eyed mothers daily who are half in denial about it, and half filled with dread. I am the latter.

I love my girls. I really do. I am amazed that they are even part of the universe. That I had something to do with their very presence is mind blowing some days. It truly is. I am amazed that they walk, and talk, and get sarcasm. Charlotte tells jokes. Actual jokes that she made up, and 3 out of 10 times, are actually funny. Olivia has a singing voice that blows me away. I hear her, when she doesn't think I am listening, and I can usually be found with tears in my eyes. To me, her voice is like an angels. Lovely.

Molly, the baby, is pretty groovy too. She is little, and cute, and still thinks that I am so cool when I slice strawberries, and put them on her peanut butter sandwich. She will get it soon enough, and slowly begin to think that I don't know what I am talking about, just like the rest of them, but while she thinks that I have something to do with the sky getting dark at night, I will eat up her adoration.

But, and it's a BIG but...3 months. 3 months of being together. CONSTANTLY. I am literally at a loss when I think about the enormous stretch of time before us. Together. Day and night. For 3 long months. It makes my heart beat speed up a little bit.

I try to convince myself that I am that Mom. The Mom who doesn't mind them coming in and out of the front door fifty times in ten minutes. That the mud prints are cute, and a beautiful ingredient of childhood. Hand written notes of love written in steam on the bathroom mirror are adorable. They really are, and I should...SHOULD....just sit back and love it all, and soak it in, because I already know all of this is fleeting.

But three months of it. It's a lot. I am more of a creature of habit than I ever thought I would be. Interruption of my daily grind is a bit....what's the word I am looking for...annoying? My girls fight. All day. Weekends are spent breaking them up, sending them to their opposite corners, and sometimes, well lots of times actually, plenty of yelling on my end.

I just went on a website that was titled "60 things to keep your kids busy all summer". The first project was making cork stamps. You can dip the corks in paint, and make all kinds of fruit and vegetable pictures. One big cork print was red, and a top was drawn on it to look like a beet.

3 months.

 I am going to need a lot of corks.

Monday, May 21, 2012


Sickness has been creeping though the house. The stomach virus is the pits. I had it alongside of Molly last week, and felt so helpless not being able to take care of her. I heard her crying in fear, and it killed me. Slowly, it is making the rounds in the house. Nasty thing.

Yesterday, we just sat on the deck. All day. I literally had coffee, lunch, and finally came in from the fire at 10:00. It was beautiful. The weather was beyond dreamy.

Yet, I have that awful, panging stress hanging over me. When I want to be relaxing, I am tallying numbers in my head. There is so much more that needs to go out this month than is coming in, and I am scared. Really scared. I just don't know how we are going to do it. I really don't. I am used to it being like this. And normally, it is what it is. But this month has been just plain awful. I am home here, with limited gas, and even more limited food, and I am worrying about everything. My nails are bitten down to nothing. I am working on the cuticles currently.

Olivia is home from school today. Stomach pain, and fever. And there is rain. Gone is that really vibrant blue sky.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Pecking order

When David and I were engaged, and living on nothing but love, we got a dog. Of course we got a dog! That is what you do before you get the baby. The "test" child.

We picked her out of a big litter of little squirmy, Jack Russel puppies. She had a brown circle right on her backside, which stood out on her white fur. I remember asking the woman whose dog had the litter, if they shed. She looked away, and said "no". HA! Small white needles of hair have become my daily cleaning chore here. Liar!

We took Sophie home, and she ate her way through her puppy hood. Lost were pillows, and beloved shoes, that I spent too much money on in my frivolous single days. We took her everywhere with us. We even gave her a Christmas stocking. In the winter, she had a red jacket we put her in...after all...she was our baby. (She ran like the wind each time we broke that jacket out)

After we got married, (and seriously considered Sophie being involved in the wedding) we still babied her. When I went to the hospital in labor with Olivia, I even took a photo of her along with me, to concentrate on through the excruciating pain. (Didn't work!) I even called my newborn baby Sophie a few times on accident. She was my first little commitment to caring for something.

But then suddenly, the baby came home, and Sophie, who had been our baby, became the dog. She had never been the dog. Suddenly, she was banished from rooms. Walks became less frequent. She got yelled at when the baby slept, and she decided to go nuts when the UPS truck barreled down the street. Treats, and runs at the park weren't a daily event anymore. Now when we went for a walk, it was with our new shiny baby, in her stroller. Sophie left at home.

That is how it has gone for the last decade or so. And now, Sophie, with her whiter snout, and rounder belly, and inability to jump like she used to, is really turning a corner. This week, she was very sick. So sick, that David and I didn't think she would make it through the day. Even worse, was that a trip to the vet was just something we couldn't afford this week. It made me so sad. I sat and pet her, and felt just awful. Awful. I made a wish she would hang on.

So far, so good. She has returned back to her old, crabby self. Snarling at the girls if they come too close, and barking at every deer and chipmunk, like she has never seen one before. Her appetite is back, and she is back to her post, standing underfoot, while I prepare meals.

 I feel relief that she is OK, but frustrated that if it comes down to groceries to feed the girls, or a canine blood test, the choice is not good for Sophie.

 I hate that more than I can say.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


I have so much to write about, that I am actually shaking here, at my keyboard. Mostly a combination of too much coffee, which causes me mental confusion, and a complete inability to organise a thought.

I have become a little obsessed with politics lately, and find myself becoming angry, so many times a day. I post non-stop about this on Facebook, and really, am quite sure I have lost friends because of it. I would de-friend me too, actually. I just can't understand all of this bull shit with people sticking their noses in others business. From the bedroom, to fertility, to breast feeding. Everyone has an opinion on how everyone else should live their lives, and I think everyone should just mind their own business.

Here is a confession. One that I have hid, because I knew what people would think. Molly just turned 3 last week. Do you know I breast fed her up until only about two months ago? Horrifying right? I didn't think it was. We only nursed at night. At bed time. It was quiet. And beyond peaceful. I could see how happy, and secure Molly felt, as she drifted off. Believe me, I really did want it to end. And it has. She is done. But it worked for us. It worked for all of my girls. And I hid it. I almost feel ashamed to admit, that it made me feel ashamed. Like if people knew, they would think I was strange.

BK...before kids...I thought it was strange too. Like a hippie thing to do. But I made the decision when those girls were born to nurse, and I really only thought I would do it for a few months. But I didn't. I nursed them, after being horrified by the price of formula, out of both convenience,being cheap, and that it worked for us. It really did. I nursed Olivia until she was 14 months. I nursed Charlotte until she was 2 1/2. Molly was the longest.

I felt embarrassed with all of them, because I heard all the comments other moms made. And I knew what society "felt" about it. So I told no one. Just David and I. But I feel terrible for feeling ashamed. I feel really sad that it has to come to that. With everything. Whether you nurse, or not. Who you love. All of it.

I am not going to be ashamed about it. I feel proud. I saw that Time magazine cover, and I got it. Shock value. But it also made breast feeding seem sexual. And that has really bothered me, because anyone who has nursed a child knows there is NOTHING sexy about it.

Some expert said that nursing an older child was mental molestation. I have a real problem with that. What I experienced was nothing short of love, and warmth, and safety, and has made my girls healthy, and strong.

There was nothing terrible about it. Not a second of it.

I try hard, every day, to impress upon my daughters not to give a hoot about what other people think, and do what makes them happy. I made a terrible mistake not following that.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I get it now

In Junior High School, you weren't as wowed about my newest, greatest friend. I thought you were being mean. But you were right. She was a terrible girl.

You said I couldn't stay out past 10:00 in High School. All of my friends had no curfew. I hated you for that, but I was home safe, and not getting into trouble, and I thank you for that now.

I wasn't allowed in cars with boys. And even worse, you made every one come to the door, come in the house, and subjected them to a full interview. I swear I caught you sniffing one or two friends. I realize now what you were doing.

If I slept over a friends house, you actually called the Mom, and called to make sure I was still there! Mortifying! But I get it now.

You didn't let me stay at the Albatross Motel, in Montauk with my boyfriend prom weekend. I was the only one not allowed! I would laugh in one of my girls faces if they ever asked to do the same, now.

You forced me to do what I was good at. You nurtured my love of art, and any and all things creative. You even insist I apply for a scholarship, and I went through the motions to shut you up, and when they announced my name, I was stunned, but you looked like you already knew I was getting it.

You hated my boyfriend. And I thought you were just cruel for that. But I was suffering all that time, and you knew there was something better for me out there. You knew I deserved more. And you were right.

You have changed my diapers, sewed me my first communion dress. Tied my shoe laces, braided my hair, adjusted my cap and gown, and buttoned my wedding dress. You saw my babies when they were fresh and new, and held my hand as I was losing one. You knew me before I knew me. You have relished in my accomplishments, been really hard on me, my worst critic, and my biggest fan. Some days, I wish I knew you better. Some days, I know you so well.

I watch you now, weaker, and older. I don't like how tired your eyes look, and how one arm trembles. You don't want to talk about that, but I want you to be OK. Because I know there is so much more good stuff, and bad stuff too, that I need you here for.

I have a memory of you. Sitting out on our front lawn. Your blond hair in a Jackie O flip. Big, round, dark brown sunglasses on. A coat, with gold round buttons. You have a berry color lipstick on. You smell like your perfume, Je Reviens. I needed a tissue, and you had one in your pocket. The tissue smells like you. Your hair is blowing, and you toss your head back, and laugh.

 It is burned into my memory.

I love you Mom. Happy Mothers Day. I get it now.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


So...back in the day, I literally set no limits on my spending. If it sparkled, and was pretty, I purchased it. Vintage clothes were my weakness. Specifically, Pucci. Anything Pucci. And bags. I totally dig old bags. I scored an ancient Gucci at a garage sale in Southampton that was tossed aside a table. I suspect someone was hiding it, but you snooze, you lose.

Hermes scarves also dazzled me. I found on once, at a resale shop on the Upper East Side, in a basket on the counter, by the cash register. It was mixed in with old Pierre Cardin scarves, and old lady hankies. Fifteen bucks, thank you very much!

So, today, with my limited; no money for anything but the basics....I have adjusted to window shopping. I wear the same two bras. OK, one now, as the under wire gave way from one of them, so now I appear lopsided. I have two pairs of jeans. One actually, that I wear mostly everyday, as the other pair is just a little too snug than I like. I refuse to purchase clothes for my post 3 baby girls body, and still think that there is a way to shimmy my way down to a respectable 6. Anyhoo...I digress.

Today, I had to go to Target. Love it there. But the last few months, nothing has really dazzled me. After numerous visits for Christmas presents there, I developed a tunnel vision upon entering. Meaning, get in, get out. Today, I perused. And everything...EVERYTHING....was just so cute.

From stuff for the girls, to shoes. Backyard lanterns, and outdoor rugs. Purses, and hats. It was all lovely. Even the men's shorts, and button down shirts were all just perfect for David. I could have left with four carts today. Easy.

I left after I purchased some birthday stuff for Charlotte. I felt pissed off. Upset that I couldn't buy something shiny. Something pretty, just for me. A lacy bra, or that really great looking faux sapphire ring... I hate feeling like that. Like I want to have a tantrum. Like I suddenly understood how mad Charlotte gets when we tell her no for the umpteenth time at her desires for clothes, or toys. I got it. She said the other day that sometimes, she gets so mad, she just wants to squeeze someone. I understood!

Molly and I drove away, and went to the supermarket, and purchased all the things we needed to fill our new fridge, that was delivered yesterday. (ugh...hated having to make that purchase) Suddenly, I felt thankful that I now have something to keep my food cold. I don't have to go on the back deck in my robe in the morning to get my creamer for my morning coffee out of the cooler. David and I don't have to take turns picking up ice. I actually said yes to Molly when she asked if we could get ice cream. Yes! We have a freezer!

I know...I sound childish. I feel childish. For a minute, I remembered me, foolish me, spending like there was no tomorrow. But there was, and it's here. I sold my last Pucci shirt on eBay a few years back. Those things are insignificant now. And really, my refrigerator is pretty shiny.

And we have ice cream.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The unkindest cut

Cinco de Mayo. 5-5-05. That is my Charlottes birthday. Molly was born on 5-6, so this weekend, I am required to make two cakes, two special dinners, and put up streamers, and balloons, like I always do. May 28th is Olivia's birthday. Thank goodness we have a reprieve from cake for a few weeks.

 May is expensive around here. I laughed to myself the other day, when Charlotte handed me a list of things she wanted. I told her it wasn't Christmas, and she would most likely wind up disappointed on her birthday if she thought she was getting everything on her list. She shrugged and walked away. I really hope she got my message.

 We already cut out birthday parties. I'm all for birthday celebrations like the ones I had as a kid. A cake, (in my case it was lemon meringue pie) and one gift. I got to have soda on my birthday too. That was a pretty big deal on Tulip Grove Drive. My mom wouldn't even let us have American cheese. Anything with BHT, BHA, artificial coloring, or preservatives was banned from our house. I didn't have a Twinkie until 4th grade!

Cuts are necessary. We just cut cable and our home phone. Trimming the fat will definitely help out our monthly "budget". ( I use that term loosely) I find that when we make a cut, the gods of savings look down on us, and laugh, replacing it with a bigger expense, so really, we wind up still paying out the same, and never quite saving what we thought we were going to. It just gets moved around. Like a shell game. What coconut shell is that extra $100.00 under, and where will it need to disappear to this month?

Charlotte and Olivia love physical education at school. LOVE it. And they both adore art. Olivia came home with a painting of the Delaware Water Gap. It is breathtaking. Painted in the style of Vincent Van Gogh. Five or six swirling suns in a darkening sky of blue rippling clouds moved me when I saw it, and made me realize, more than ever, how very hard every teacher works.

This economy, for lack of a better word, sucks. They report improvement in it, but I have yet to see it on my end as of this writing. And most, if not all families that I know, have been rocked by it. Saying no to my girls is something that we have to do. We can't indulge them. That would be irresponsible, and what kind of adults would we be helping to form? But with this shell game that my family keeps playing, so to is the repetition of the word no. No to parties. No to dinners out, and clothes shopping. No to new sneakers this month, and sorry, I can't pay for you to order books. They'll live.

But how do I explain Physical Education being cut. Or tell Olivia, with her love of singing, that Music might be gone. My girls school, the Monroe County School District, is considering some pretty serious stuff, due to a reduction in funding. They are considering cutting teachers. Increasing class size. Half day kindergarten. Elimination of educational courses and extracurricular programs. Even school closings!

This is the unkindest cut. We cannot play a shell game with our kids future. It simply isn't responsible. Our children are our future. We cannot allow them to suffer. They deserve a quality education. Nothing less. So May 15th, and 16th, call or e-mail your legislators and the Governors office. Our legislators need to hear from their constituents that education is a priority to them!

No one ever beats the shell game.