Thursday, January 29, 2009

It's That Time Again

It's finally arrived. The weekend I look forward to every year. It's SCBWI's Annual Writer's Conference. Each year hundreds of children's writers gather in New York City to meet, discuss and learn all there is to know about children's books.

There are always interesting keynote speakers. Generally they will talk about how they got into the business and why they decided to stay.

I myself began writing for children about two years ago. Now before you go rushing out to your local bookstore to find my book, I must warn you, I don't have one. Although writing is high on my priority list, like most SAHM's, my children still supersede everything on the list. I'm always amazed to meet those women who manage to run a household and publish a book (you're incredible!)

Until that day arrives I will continue to blog about the ordinary, extraordinary, the highs, the lows, and the status quoes.

This will be my last post until I arrive back in town (hopefully in time for the Superbowl). I look forward to sharing my experiences with all of you. Get ready to hear about the best of the best books for kids this year.

It will be a brisk 29 degrees in New York City this weekend. Hopefully Punxsutawney Phil will not see his shadow....Hello Spring!!!!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Difference Between Boulders, Rocks and Pebbles

We've all heard the saying: "She's my rock." But what does that actually mean?

The rocks in my life are my truest friends. I had five rocks (bridesmaids) in my wedding. Each one of them is precious in their own way. To me, the rock symbolizes something solid. They come in different shapes and sizes. Some roll or move to other places during your life, while others seem to be a permanent fixture in your landscape.

Boulders however, symbolize the family. For the most part, they are here to stay. It generally takes catastrophic occurrences to move boulders. At times their weight is felt by the others in the group, and it requires a little shifting of weight. Sometimes the shift is a healthy chance to air out toxins, especially for those boulders who see change as intolerant.

Lastly, pebbles are acquaintances. They sometimes graduate to rocks and even boulders but mainly stay amongst their peers. Pebbles are a necessity in life. In many instances they offer solid ground or an unbiased opinion that cannot easily be given by a rock or boulder.

So what does this have to do with anything? The way I see it, especially now more than ever, we live in a time of uncertainty. What about tomorrow? What about next week? Where will I be in a month? We spend so much time worrying that we forget about the now.

So here are your directions. Turn off your computer. Whether you hug your rock, call your boulder, or thank your pebble.....embrace the moment.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Filling My Shoes

How much can one get done in a day? I often wonder.

Every now and again I'm forced (like every other Mom) to take on that impossible day. The type of day that consist of a pad of sticky notes scribbled with endless reminders of places you need to visit and people who want just a little piece of you. So many pieces in fact that by the end of the day you have become a human jigsaw puzzle.

Today started pretty innocently. I awoke at my normal time 5:45am. I like to get up and get ready before I awake the kids at 7am. Before I woke them up, I stripped my bed and began a load of wash. The plates were lined up, eggs ready to be fried, lunch packed, paper brought in from outside, and dog let out for a morning relief.

I dressed the kids, help brush teeth and hair and we all marched down to the breakfast table. My inner Rachel Ray then broke out as I began preparing breakfast at record speed: 2 eggs, 2 english muffins, 2 slices of cheese, 2 Flinstone Vitamins, 1 One a Day, 2 cups of chocolate milk, and 1 well deserved piping hot coffee (with backup).

I serve, I eat, I clean, I clear, and before I know it, the preparation has taken much longer than the feast. Laundry is loaded and unloaded while children get a small amount of playtime. Before I know it were off to school. I wait patiently in the driver's dropoff, blow kisses, release one child to the world and retrace my steps via mini van.
I sprayed the upstairs bathrooms with bleach prior to leaving in hopes that all the weekly muck would somehow disappear before I was forced to scrub (No such luck). Scooter keeps himself busy in front of a PBS special while I finish cleaning two bathrooms, vaccuum the upstairs, make beds, empty trash, and try to relocate child after all is done.
We return downstairs around 10am. Phone rings. My mother wants to go get her dress for my brothers wedding. OK I say (frantically searching for Scooter once more). "I'll be there in ten minutes she replies."
I fold laundry, pour cleaner into downstairs toilet, wrap Scooter in coat, mittens and hat. Return to bathroom and wash floor, run upstairs, squirt self with perfume to mask bleach smell, take a swig of mouthwash to hide pot of coffee breath, relieve myself, have Scooter relieve himself, and put out dog to relieve herself. "What a relief!"
Horn Beeps. Mother is in driveway (has it been ten minutes?) Off to David's Bridal.
I sit and watch graciously while Mom tries on her favorite dress in every color. I don't mind this part. In fact it has been so far the most relaxing part of my day. My son takes this time to show the other brides to be his love for dance. The bridal store's thermostat is set at a comfortable 90 degrees, or so I believe. I feel sweat puddles around my wrist. I know, how gross. In the back of my mind I'm saying I'm too young for "the change." I convince myself that it's just an overdose of bleach and house work that has me looking like a rainy day. After an hour and a half, mom leaves with a new dress, I pick out my heels (yes, I'm in the wedding too) and we head out to the comfortable 40 degrees weather (How nice!)

We stop at a diner for a bite to eat then head back to my house. I continue the laundry ritual while Grandma gives hugs and kisses to Scooter.

Well, look at that, it's time to pick Potter up from school. I repeat morning routine with less vigor now. And once again all 3 of us are back at the house.

I empty a bookbag, read teachers notices, worksheets, volunteer requirements, and of course another fund raiser. What is it this time? So far we've sold Christmas wrap, a coupon book, bingo tickets, poker night tickets (legal, I think not), and now a lotto. The carnival should be coming up soon. Not to mention everything that falls in between then and now. Add all they want you to sell plus the tuition and it turns out it only cost a cool million per child to go to school each year. Why we have not relied on public education is still a mystery.

I supervise homework, play with Scooter, begin dinner, and try to watch Oprah with my one free eye. Well look at that: Oprah is discussing "the change." Fancy how I may have needed this advice only three hours ago.

Fast forward an hour. We sit to eat, pray (for a successful new presidency, no more school fundraisers, mini vans that are reliable, end to recession, toys with volume controls, novels that get written, and of course world peace). I clear, rinse, and wash.

Time for baths. Another time consumer, but indeed a necessity. The kids and I then retreat to the basement for a mini workout (like I haven't already gotten one today).

Hubby arrives home from work around 7pm. Its snack time, then stories, then time to tuck the kids in for the night.

I curl up on the couch with a cup of hot tea, trying ever so delicately not to spill it due to exhaustion.

I was recently asked when was I going to go back to work. I try not to get upset at this question. I just smile and politely reply: "Sure I'll go back, just as soon as you find someone to fill my shoes."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Arrival of "Freddy Kreuger"

As adults we've come to realize that we don't always get what we want, wish, or ask for. Case in point was this past Christmas. Dear Hubby wanted the Sony Bravia 46 inch HDTV. Every Sunday the newspaper would be thrown about in order to find the big box ads for his special wish. He watched anxiously as the economical turmoil forced these stores to continue to reduce the price on the TV. Around 10am every Sunday I was reminded just how low the price was getting. I encouraged him to wait the recession out, hoping that a liquidator may offer a better price.

The TV was no different than any other gift. It wasn't just the price that was hard to swallow. It was the fact that we would also need a new piece of furniture to accommodate this monster contraption. Additional wiring and mounting kits would also have to be purchased. Ka Ching, Ka Ching! We needed other things for the house, so unfortunately the TV was going to have to wait.

And so there we were in Atlantic City, 3 days after Christmas with our kids and my parents. The trip was planned when the casinos were gracious enough (because of the economy again) to give us a room for practically nothing. The trip was wonderful, we all had a great time, especially Hubby. No, he didn't hit the jackpot, but he made it clear as he walked into the room with a smile ear to ear that he had won enough to buy his new TV. Wonderful!

It's great to see your spouse so happy. I of course had nothing to do with this happiness, but none the less, it was nice.

Now I must bring up the next topic with extreme caution. For I'm unsure exactly how to tackle it. There is something so strange that happens to a man in the presence of electronics. They are immediately hypnotized after passing the threshold of the Sears security devices. They may ask your opinion, but let's be serious, are they really listening? Doubt it!

The entire process took over an hour (apparently this had more to do with the sale price that the register didn't recognize but the price my Hubby insisted their flyer advertised. Also the price he quoted to Wifey to seal the deal. He was not leaving without getting this price).

I filled the waiting time making wishes with the boys at the mall fountain, chugging a shared bottle of water, and sitting in a cozy Sears display watching what else? Yes, a giant screen TV.

The TV and furniture arrived about a week later. It's quite shocking how big the cardboard industry can make a box, but let me just tell you there are no limits. The unveiling took more than one man. Again, Super Mommy to the rescue. Luckily the new TV weighed only a quarter of what our old one did. The set-up brought me back to a not so long time ago as Hubby and I sat around staring at baby furniture. Despite diagrams, and a booklet filled with directions in no less than four languages, the entire process is still baffling.

It took a few hours before we finally saw our first picture on "Freddy Krueger." I use this title as a term of endearment. As a child my sister and I loved the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. Although the villain Freddy Krueger scared me half to death, he also intrigued me. So much so that I watched the entire series. Just like this new monster that has taken refuge in my living room, I find myself intrigued, but a little frightened by its power.

We have now acquired an additional 3 remotes. I'm really not above walking over to the television and changing a channel. That is until Hubby invested in the deluxe package through our cable company. After 300 clicks, the longing to find something to watch has lost its fervor.

It's Tuesday night and I'm again sitting in front of my lap top. I look over to my left. Hubby is relaxing in the recliner. His eyes are fixated on an episode of NCIS. He is enjoying his new present (even if he had to buy it for himself).

"Welcome home Freddy, Welcome Home!"

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Just a Dusting

As I'm getting my younger son's lunch ready, I usually do so with the sound of the local news playing in the background. It gives me a chance to catch up with the world that lies beyond our front door.

Scooter rarely pays attention to the news nor rarely shows interest in anything that isn't animated. But let him hear that one word, yes, that word of joy, that word he's been waiting for, that simple four letter word; and suddenly the excitement that comes from within Scooter is no longer containable.

Mommies everywhere know this word. To them it is defined as a day without breaks, a day where we have to look for our car even though we know it's still parked in the driveway, a day where every towel in the linen closet will be used to keep floors dry, provide an extra place for boots, and wipe noses. Today we will plead with our husbands not to go to work, not because it's too dangerous, but because we could use a little extra help on the home front.

That word, that awesome word is SNOW!

Scooter jumped from a four foot stool at the kitchen island before the weather man had a chance to pronounce the last syllable. He was so overwhelmed with excitement that even the dog was wondering what had gotten into him. He took pride in reminding me every five minutes not to forget that it was going to snow the next day. He begged me to dig out the new snow tube Santa had bought the boys for Christmas. "You have to blow it up Mom," he pleaded. "Do it now, do it now...please!"

We picked up Potter from school together. Scooter told him the good news right away. "It's going to snow tomorrow!" Potter lit up from ear to ear. He too reminded me of my motherly duty to blow up the new snow tube.

The weatherman predicted 3 to 6 inches. Normally a snow storm would be a burden, but this one was coming on a Saturday so I didn't have to worry about school and I would have Hubby home to help me shovel.

We decided to take the kids out to dinner that night. You can guess the topic of conversation. It's so nice to have finally arrived at that age where you can take the kids out to eat and you no longer have to worry about high chairs, diaper changes, feedings etc. Although we're still working through the temper tantrum stages, we avoided those as well.

As soon as we hit home the kids continued to remind us that the snow tube still needed to blown up. As I removed it from the box I swore angels were singing. The children were mesmerized by its sight. Frankly, the smell of plastic made me a bit lightheaded, but I unfolded the snow tube for two across my lap and began the long task of blowing 20 lbs. of air from my lungs. A quarter of the way through Hubby offered to finish while I took my bath (and regained consciousness).

By the time I returned the snow tube had completely taken over my living room. Both boys were practicing the different poses they would be using once they hit the snow.

When we woke up the next morning it was flurrying, and there was a a dusting of snow covering the ground. Apparently through the night the forecast had changed and we weren't going to receive a storm after all. What the heck? How do I explain this to the kids? Someone should grab that darn weatherman by the neck!

We patiently waited a few hours until around 10am. The kids were at the window when I finally said: "O.K. everyone find your boots, it's time to go outside!" The kids began screaming. "Can we use our sled Mom," they asked?

"No, but we're going to have some fun," I said.

Believe it or not, there were no fights. In fact, they actually forgot about the sled. And boy did we have fun. We spent the time throwing snow balls, running and laughing. We ended our playtime with a cup of hot chocolate topped with marshmallow.

Well, it wasn't the big snow storm we were all hoping for; it was something much much better!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Undressing of Christmas

So it is now January 6th, and my Christmas decorations are in the same place they've been for the past month. I always dread this process.

I can hardly wait each year when it's time to decorate, but mention the words "Time to put away" and I enter my Mommy cocoon.

From Black Friday until New Years there seems to be a constant celebration in our house. I kicked off the day after Thanksgiving with a shopping spree. Early December brought a Christmas Party with family and friends. Of course Christmas Day was wonderful as usual. And although Hubby and I fell asleep before the New Years Eve countdown, the night we spent with the kids was fabulous.

So here I sit with computer in hand, and my beautifully decorated Christmas Tree at my back. The poinsettia and berry swags hang nicely over the windows. Each cabinet in the kitchen is adorned with gold glittered bows, and the Disney stocking hangers (minus the one Hubby accidentally smashed on the floor) neatly align the fireplace mantle. The house resembles a Winter Wonderland.

I'm trying to hold out for the weekend, but as you know those two days seem to made for everything else we couldn't get done during the week (aside from the necessary undecorating).

So I guess I'll start the packing tomorrow. The boxes will be brought from the basement. They will be refilled to the brim with balls, trains, wreaths, and lights. Then one by one, each box will be marched back down to the basement and stacked nicely in the storage room. By this time tomorrow, computer will be hand, but my breakfast table will replace the missing Christmas tree.

While I'm in the storage room, I'll try looking for our Valentine's Day decorations. This should help me get out of my holiday stupor or at best, out of my Mommy cocoon. And if that doesn't do it, I'll just take a look at the calendar. In less than 350 days, I get to march those boxes right back upstairs!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

When the Lights Go Out!!!!

Hard to believe 2008 has finally come to an end. The celebration with our two boys Potter and Scooter consisted of viewing the movie Transformers, eating microwave popcorn, wearing funny hats compliments of Party City, blowing noise makers, and of course the power outage.

Of all the nights the power could have gone out, it happened New Years Eve. Luckily, one of my Christmas presents from Hubby consisted of candles for my bathroom. So we were more than prepared.

Despite Scooters initial apprehension (he's only 3), he soon came to enjoy our sudden lack of electricity. Although we had trouble explaining to him that everything he wanted to do required power; which at the time was not running through our house. Older brother Potter helped calm the situation with Dad and provided Scooter with a flashlight. Jackpot! Sometimes it's those little things in life that help diffuse situations quicker than any power surge was about to do.

We spent about 35 minutes in a dim lit living room. While the kids ran around the stairs with their flashlights, Hubby and I wondered if the New Years Eve Countdown would take place this year in the dark. There was even a moment when I wondered weather or not we would know it was New Years Eve. The T.V. was out, the lights were out, and none of our clocks were working.

Right around the time I decided to make myself a cup of hot tea with the help of a trusty candle lighter to ignite our gas stove, light from everywhere began to pour into our home. The electric had been restored. And I have to admit, it was a bit sad.

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, there often seems to be just a little too much noise. The kids are playing army men, the phone is ringing, the dog is barking, and the background of T.V. programming drowns out all of the above. "Calgon take me away."

But for those short 35 minutes, there was peace. Looks like I already got my News Years Resolution. To all who stop and read my blog this year, may you all enjoy a little peace.