Tuesday, September 29, 2009

10 Things Right Now about Us

  1. We're 10 days away from leaving for Disney! We're all getting very excited and I love that Robby has started to understand the countdown chart I made -- he looks forward to moving "Mickey Robby" and "Mickey Joey" every day now.
  2. Robby is wanting to know how to spell everything lately. I've had to spell words like: in, out, wizard, Professor McGonagall, yes -- your typical starter words and totally random Robby words. He's trying to read things now too. He can spell: no, stop, out, Robby, Joey, Mommy, Daddy, Nana, big.
  3. Joey is doing great with his vocabulary, pronunciation and expanding sentences and putting sentences together. He gets most talkative at night when he's tired. It's like he winds down by talking up a storm. Very funny.
  4. We had a broken valve on our furnace last night and had to get a plumber over here at 9:30 p.m. Fortunately it was a relatively minor expense ($190) -- we had feared some really big expense that would be hitting right before Disney.
  5. Joey likes to request "For Boston" as a lullabye lately. He'll even sing it himself. It goes something like this: Hmm. For Boston. Hmm. For Boston. Hmmmm. Sing. Hmm. For Boston College. Robby on the other hand actually knows the whole song, which is more than I can say for myself, though some of his words are a little mispronounced. But that just makes it cuter.
  6. I still can't get them (or more specifically Robby) to narrow down a Halloween costume decision.
  7. I'm already starting to feel the holidays/end-of-year panic and stress. With this Disney trip in the middle of October, we'll be returning and getting ready for Halloween, and before you know it, it'll be Thanksgiving and Christmas. Aside from the baking, shopping and cleaning, there's all the projects to wrap up for the end of the year at work. Every year I promise myself I'll be organized and prepared but every year I'm running into the last minute on everything. Maybe this year will be different - haha.
  8. We had a wonderful time at Devon and Derek's graduation party on Sunday, even if Bob was slightly hung over the wedding the night before. The DeMios are a very friendly bunch. It's still amazing to see Bob around people who really look like him. In a glance, I often mistake him for Doug or Richard. Doug and Bob agreed that the boys would call Doug "Grandpa Doug." Finally a big question answered and it takes some awkwardness away. It's fairly simple on the surface, but I think it represents a more clear definition of the whole relationship. It's clear Doug wants us to be part of his family and that Bob is comfortable with it. At the party, he was pointing out the boys to his friends/family as "my grandkids" and introduced Bob as his oldest. No more uncertainly about is he okay with us being part of his life now or is this was just a little get to know you, send a card at Christmas thing. I can't stop marveling at this whole story. I feel we are so very fortunate to have been readily accepted and welcomed. Fortunate that there is another group of people out there to love Bob and the boys. I have trouble even putting together the words to explain this. I can not look at this whole experience without seeing the hand of God in it someplace. We are truly blessed. The best way I can describe it is in the saying that when God closes a door, He always opens a window. I am very thankful for this window.
  9. Planes, and specifically Doug's plane, are a big topic of conversation around here lately now that they boys had their first plane ride with Doug the other weekend. Joey says things like: Me pilot. Me ride plane. Me drive plane. Robby wants to know if he can ride in the front seat next time, if he can drive the plane (because he's "really good at driving") and is also interested in Doug's motor home.
  10. Hmm... #10.... Did I mention Disney? It probably deserves 2 items -- there's the whole excitement and anticipation aspect and then the packing, lists and shopping that has to get done. We're driving (yes, I've been on Doug's plane too and the boys think they're mini-pilots, but I'm still not flying to FL yet), so I have to clean out the car, figure out how to fit everything, pack assorted entertainment for the boys and refreshments for all of us. Still, I think the excitement side wins. :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lunches Packed with Love

Three nights a week I have to pack lunches for the boys. I order them hot lunches Monday and Tuesday, but send them our own food for the remainder of the week. It's not one of my favorite tasks. I don't have a particularly inspired list of lunch options for them, despite the fact that I always read the "think outside the sandwich in the lunchbox" articles that appear in magazines and on the web, especially during back to school season. But many of those would be better suited to older children who could assemble foods on their own. Things like fruit kebobs and whatnot.

Then there are the rules and the fact that the teachers see the lunches, which makes me feel like they probably judge. You can't send peanut butter (this is annoying since I could probably send Robby a PB sandwich every day without fuss). You can't send cookies; I'm not entirely sure what the teachers define as "healthy" -- fruit juices are not allowed, but those fruit chewy snacks are. Cookies aren't allowed, but I've sent chocolate chip mini muffins with no problems. Since I'm too unsure and don't want anyone thinking I don't send a good "square" meal, I stick to fruits, cheese and crackers, and pretzels or goldfish.

Usual lunch options:
  • turkey sandwich
  • leftovers (usually a rice or pasta with veggies and chicken)
  • chicken nuggets
  • leftover pizza slices (this is a recent addition that Robby has especially liked)
  • mac and cheese (cold)
  • sometimes a cream cheese and strawberry slices sandwich or a regular cheese sandwich
accompanied by any of the following alone or in combination, depending what's on hand:
  • strawberries
  • grapes
  • blueberries
  • sliced apples
  • bananas
  • pre-packed pineapple bits
  • pretzels
  • goldfish
  • mini muffins
  • yogurt drinks
  • cheese and crackers
  • cheez it crackers
  • watermelon
  • corn
  • broccoli
  • zucchini

As much as I usually dread making lunch -- especially if I already had to make dinner -- when I do it, I usually experience a small sense of satisfaction, like I really have packed a little bit of love for them. I carefully wash all the fruit, then slice it. Grapes are a choking hazard so I slice them in half for Robby and in quarters for Joey. I cut off the tops and core strawberries, then slice into thin slices or quarters. Sometimes I do a little trick so the thin slices look like hearts. I have been known to cut slices of cheese with tiny cookie cutters into animal or alphabet shapes and sandwiches into a star shape. Occasionally I draw hearts or write Robby's name on the napkins or send a leftover party theme napkin in their box. Then everything goes into the fridge organized so Bob can tell who gets what.

When I make this kind of lunch, which surprisingly is the norm, I do feel like I did it right. Like I would actually deserve a few "good-Mom points." And I look forward to them eating what I have prepared for them with love.

Someday I'll figure out how to start incorporating all those great magazine lunch ideas with soups and breadsticks or smiley face sandwiches the kids make or salads they shake in a tube, but for now, I think I have something that works.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Birthday Moments

Favorite moment during Joey's birthday celebrations: at the family party Saturday night when we started to sing Happy Birthday to him. Beth sat Robby down in the chair with Joey, and Joey looked back, saw it was Robby, and smiled a huge smile and even leaned in to Robby a little. Then went back to his serious face looking at the cake. But there was this great flash of smile at his big brother where it was so obvious that he liked having Robby there with him. Love when they are showing their brotherly love.

The minute we finished singing and clapping, Joey would yell, "Cut it Mommy!" pointing at the cake. Waste no time getting to the cake that one. (We did this at school on Aug. 14, at home on Aug. 14, then twice the next day at the parties.)

This is the face of someone who is loving his birthday cake:
Afterall, when we'd ask him what kind of party did he want, he'd say, "Cake!" There you are little man, 4 cake/singing sessions in all -- 24 store-bought cupcakes, a small ice cream cake, 48 home-baked cupcakes, a large ice cream cake printed with Brown Bear, and 1 home-baked bear cake.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Today I...

  1. Am marveling at the fact that Joey will turn 2 on Friday. Looking at a pic from his party last year, I can't believe how quickly a year has passed and how much Joey has grown up.
  2. Had a "dude" that needed a "wife" (Joey-speak for "food" that needed a "knife").
  3. Enjoyed a lunch break at work with my friend Danielle (as we usually do).
  4. Finally launched a project at work that I have procrastinating on because it's not one of my favorites. (A bi-weekly publication for posting in the restrooms -- yeah, not exactly what I thought I'd be writing when I dreamed of being a writer some day, and not exactly something I \ see myself bringing in my portfolio for a job interview either.)
  5. Watched the boys play in the tent together, then move on to the play food and then end with the Lego pirates. I spent a lot of time gathering tiny Lego pieces off the floor and trying to put pieces back in place.
  6. Went grocery shopping, mostly for lunch stuff and some things to get us through till the party on Saturday. I bought sandwich bread and then forgot the deli turkey, which was my main item in my plan for the kids' lunches. Isn't that usually the way?
  7. Still have to do the shopping for the party food and the favors.
  8. Watched Robby enjoy the movie Peter Pan. At the end, he was acting out the sword fight between Peter and Captain Hook with his sword and enthusiastically striking his sword against our bedroom wall in his imaginary battle. He usually pretends to be Captain Hook. Can't wait to see Robby at Disney with Peter and Hook!
Overall, just an ordinary day, but nonetheless special.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Things I Am Grateful for

Just a random list, in no particular order, of the things I am thankful for right now (Bob and the boys are a given).

The beautiful summer weather -- 80s, no humidity and cool evenings -- you couldn't ask for better.
A boss who is flexible about letting me work from home.
An appointment for a much-needed haircut tomorrow.
An extended family that is very fun and close, and especially my Mom, Dad and brother.
Good health for myself and my loved ones.
Digital cameras so I can take limitless photos.
Books -- they can be an adventure, an escape, a stress-reducer -- all this and more.
The way Robby and Joey generally get along so well together, playing together, looking out for eac other and sharing.
Starbucks and caffeine in general.

Hmm, not particularly deep or inspiring, but of the moment.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ten on Tuesday

Ten random facts about our current lives...

1. We finally picked out glasses for Robby tonight. They're on order and should arrive in the next 2 weeks. It still bothers me to think of him wearing them, but he's unfazed and even noted that he'll have glasses like me.

2. Joey is picking up so many more words now and really getting the hang of stringing them together. Love his sentences and some of the unusual words he can correctly use, like "empty." Big sentence this past weekend -- Indy. Bite. Dor. (Indy bite dinosaur.) He's still telling this story 3 days later.

3. We handed out the invitations to Robby and Desi's pirates and mermaids birthday party today. I think this is going to be such a cute and fun party. Looking forward starting to shop for the party favors tomorrow with Robby.

4. Bought Joey his own pair of flip flops today so he can stop stealing Robby's and having a meltdown when we take them away. For some reason, he loves them. Is obsessed in fact. And he happily chants "flip flops" (which he pronounces very much like the way he says ketchup, which he is also obsessed with). His chubby little toes look so cute in them too.

5. I'm reading the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and really enjoying it. Not sure how much is fiction and how much is based on the facts of German occupation, but it's fascinating. I have a passion for Depression and WWII history (as seen in my choice of History classes in college and my senior thesis topic). I can't read this book fast enough and may have to find some follow up books on this subject.

6. Finished re-reading Persausion a few days ago. That book is almost tied with Pride and Prejudice as my all-time favorite, but alas, it is just not P&P. Anne does not have the spirit of Elizabeth. Anne is so good and patient; Elizabeth more lively and sharp-witted. And something about Mr. Darcy's haughtiness and misunderstood nature is so attractive. I am well able to fall in love with Captain Wentworth, but I think Mr. Darcy's character, set off by Elizabeth, perhaps make for more tension/friction in the story. Or perhaps it's my favorite because it was my first Jane Austen.

Bob and I have agreed to try a new plan for getting our house cleaned up -- 15 minutes of clean-up work every night. I made a nerdy chart in Excel to give ourselves checks for completing our 15 minutes. I guess it's the grown-up version of the star chart.

8. In preparation for our Disney trip, I need to do some major shopping to stock up on some summer clothes for all of us. Otherwise, by the time I'm ready to shop, there will only be sweaters and cordouroys in the stores. Good luck finding a bathing suit then! Looking for lots of bright t-shirts for the boys so it'll be easier to spot them.

9. We've had 3 weeks (more??) of more rainy days than sunny days. It's like Ireland's weather (and meanwhile, they are enjoying hot, sunny, summer weather there). Barely a day goes by without some rain. Everything's been so wet that even when we get a sunny day, the ground is so soaked that we can't really go to the park and such. And ugh, being inside so much and this dreary gray weather is dampening my mood.

10. I am a bit tense about how much of our summer is already booked. The weekend of Robby's party, we have 2 other parties and the weekend after is Krista's baby shower. Then I need to schedule Joey's party. It makes me feel like September will be here much too fast, followed quickly by our Disney trip in October. I need to find a few extra hours (or weekends) to slow things down a little!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Signs of Summer

Couple of things that make me realize summer is here:

1. Watermelon: yum, sweet and cool and the mess makes them ideal for eating outside

2. Ice cream cones (ok, we eat these even in freezing, snowy weather, but still, ice cream cones really say summer)

3. Cool little dudes in sunglasses

4. The sound of lawn mowers: the open windows make it easier to hear the mowers and this noise always sounds like summer to me. Then the smell of freshly cut grass enhances it.

5. The Greek Fair: always around the last week of May/first week of June, and just as the weather starts to heat up. I love that from our open bedroom windows you can hear the shouts and screams of people on the rides.
Happy summer!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Such a Sweet Big Brother

I had to take Joey for shots at the pediatrician's office today. I was trying to pick up only Joey at school, knowing I didn't want to bring Robby along for the trauma of shots. But Robby was worried about having to go in the sprinkler with his class, so he ultimately just followed out the gate after me. I tried to warn him the whole drive over that shots were involved and Joey would cry, but it would only hurt a few seconds and then he'd be fine. I tried to tell him to be brave for Joey and not cry, since that would upset Joey more.

Joey got the shots. He cried about 30 seconds then stopped. By this time, Robby was hugging my leg and I probably had to hug him more than I did Joey. We got to the car and Robby told me he was scared and he wanted a hug. He told me, "But I always want Joey on Thursday and Friday." Which I think was meant to be something like, "But I don't like Joey to be so upset." I told him to give Joey a hug, and he leaned his head into Joey's chest for a hug -- I think Robby needed the hug more than Joey. What a sweet little heart Robby has. So compassionate. We kept telling Joey he did a good job (though by this time, Joey really didn't care any more) and I kept trying to make Robby see that Joey was fine now.

We all got ice cream cones to make us feel better, and of course they worked. No more tears. Just sticky ice cream hands and faces.
On Tuesday when we went to the playground, Robby helped Joey climb up, holding his foot and helping him find places to grab, just like I do. And tonight he let Joey have a toy they were fighting over. It's so wonderful to see how sweet and protective Robby is of Joey. Joey is very lucky to have such a caring big brother.

I told Robby today that I'm going to be in trouble when the Grande boys are in high school though. Those two get attention from girls - of all ages - wherever they go. Such little charmers, even without trying.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Joy of Kit Kats

I try to have a surprise for the boys when I pick them up each day from school. It started as a way to get Robby to head for the car faster (instead of all the socializing on the way out) and sometimes it was a snack, sometimes a toy he hadn't been able to find, or just a favorite one. Then as Joey become old enough to snack and to put up a fuss when I wanted to get him into the seat, I started to bring things for him too. Since food was usually the best distraction for Joe, it has pretty much become a daily snack routine. Sometimes I forget and have nothing and have to apologize. Sometimes I forget but find some interesting toys in the car. Sometimes I pack a snack from home. Sometimes I get something while I'm out.

Today I made an impulse purchase in the cafeteria and picked up a Kit Kat. Figured I'd have them share since I don't generally feed them candy bars. This was rough gist of our afternoon car conversation...

Me: I have a special surprise for you today -- a Kit Kat!
Robby: Mommy, do I like Kit Kats?
M: I think you will!
Hand the bar to Joey as the distraction to get him buckled in.
M: Joey, we're going to share.
Joey: No. Mine. (holding the bar to his chest)
Manage to give them each 2 sticks, though some complaining from Joey about sharing.
M to Joey: Look, see, two.
J: Tu
Driving along as they enjoy the Kit Kats....
M: So, do you like the Kit Kats, Robby?
R: Yes!
R: Where did you get the Kit Kats, Mommy?
M: At work.
R: How did you get them Mommy?
M: I went to the cafeteria and bought them.
J: Mes.
M, turning around to see him and laughing: Yes. Joe, you're a mess.
R: Did you think, "I will get these for Robby and Joey"?
M, laughing again: Yes, I thought, Robby and Joey will like these for a surprise.
J: Mes.
J: Mor.
M: More what Joey?
J: Mor.
M: More Kit Kat?
J: Kat!
J: Bobby. Mor.
R: More Kit Kat Mommy.

In the end, they were both covered in chocolate. But I bought another when we stopped at CVS and let them eat 1 more stick each on our outing. Daddy enjoyed some more Kit Kat with them later, after dinner. Such a novel treat. Somehow while Robby claimed he couldn't finish his mac+cheese, he managed to scoff down a Kit Kat stick pretty quickly. Funny thing about that.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

My Surreal Experience in the CVS Parking Lot

This is one of those strange occurrences that you can call random, but that I like to hold as a little treasure. Today I took a break from work to go get a frappucino at Starbucks down the road. I needed to pick up milk for the boys anyway, so I thought it a reasonable break. As I pulled into my parking space, I vaguely noticed a man with gray hair in a minivan talking on a cell phone. I don't know why, but he made me think of Grandpa Joe. The guy wasn't "grandpa old," just older and I don't think he sounded like Grandpa. I didn't really even see his face, so I have no idea why I made the connection. Anyway, for some reason I started to contemplate whether or not Nanny and Grandpa would have had a cell phone if they were still alive today, particularly if they still lived in the motor home. I sort of pictured them using a cell phone. Maybe they'd have one for motoring across country, but then again, they probably would have thought it too frivolous.

My thoughts moved on, I ordered my drink, I browsed CVS for milk and diapers. As I walked back to my car, within the very same block of spaces where I had been struck by the vision of my grandparents with cell phones, I saw a car with the license plate: MJVD. I actually stopped in my tracks to stare. Being a little dislexsic, I really had to concentrate on the letters to determine they were NOT the same plate Nanny and Grandpa had for years - MVJD - and which was still on the blue buick I drove in high school. Still, I was stunned.

I was pulling out my phone to take a pic for Mom when the elderly owner of the car was approaching, and rather than scare her that I was some sort of stalker, I gave up with the photo. I tried to explain why I was looking at her car, but even as I said it, I realized how silly it would sound to someone else. How she was probably thinking, well sure, there are a million license plates and some of them are bound to be similar to ones you've known. She could not have understood how this left me feeling suddenly so near to Nanny and Grandpa again. Like they had stopped by to say a quick hello. Like there was a strange vortex for a few seconds where we were somehow connecting.

I had to call Mom right away and tell her the story. Then we laughed to think about what they would have been like with a cell phone, how Grandpa would have enjoyed tasting Starbucks with me (though he would have been appalled at the prices), how he would have thought he could get Nanny to make them at home, how maybe he was trying to tell us to go play the lottery.

You can say random conincidence. But I say, "Hi Nanny and Grandpa. It's nice to know you're not too far."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

On Tea Parties, of a Different Kind

In addition to getting my conservative emotions riled up, all the recent talk of tea parties had me thinking of Nanny Sue and our tea parties at her kitchen table. I started drinking tea when I was probably about 4. Nanny made it with milk and plenty of sugar -- and I still like my tea this way. Her kitchen and pantry were a child's dessert heaven, stocked as they were with Ring Dings, Chips Ahoy, Pillsbury crescent rolls, Hostess cupcakes and Twinkies, not to mention Grandpa's supply of gumdrops and licorices. So there was no shortage of sweets to accompany the cup of tea.

Sometimes Nanny poured her tea into her saucer to cool faster and sipped it up. I always sat right by her side. Sometimes I drew pictures to be taped to her pale green kitchen wall. Sometimes I just listened to news and gossip she and my mom shared. She admired my long hair because her own hair never grew long after she had scarlet fever.

I can't say I really remember why we called them tea parties or what we may have done to make them special from a regular cup of tea. But tea parties are a big part of my memories of Nanny Sue. Whenever I make a cup of tea and stir in my two teaspoons of sugar (and sometimes three when I deem the cup "big" or just as a nod to Nanny and Grandpa), I remember Nanny Sue and Great Grandpa Tom and their old green house fondly.

Monday, April 20, 2009

And So I Begin...

Okay, I've been thinking about starting a blog for a while. I have lots of ideas, lots of pent-up writings, lots of opinions and ponderings, and plenty of photos. But no audience. So I have decided that's okay. For now, my blog will be for me, my own online journal until I have more of a purpose for sharing. If nothing else, it will serve as a record of parts of our lives.

So here's something I was thinking about today: how alike and how different my two boys are. Here's a comparison:

  • likes to eat crackers
  • wakes up early
  • slow eater, small appetite
  • likes to be neat and clean
  • is timid and cautious around water, even the bath
  • likes to sleep under his blankets and with his socks on
  • probably has a better vocabularly than some 6 year olds and can already spell (out, no, yes, Robby, Joey, Mommy, Daddy, Nana, stop)
  • likes to eat cheese
  • sleeps later
  • passionate eater
  • doesn't mind being messy (case in point: tonight he used his yogurt and oatmeal to paint his face during dinner!)
  • thoroughly enjoys the water, especially splashing in the bath!
  • likes to kick off any blankets and takes his socks off any chance he gets
  • makes his mind known with brief commands (mine!, stop!, wanit!)
In many ways, they are very similar too -- silly jumping monkeys who are quite the mama's boys -- but I think some of their differences are really perfect complements to each other. One likes cheese, the other crackers, and together they make the perfect snack, so to speak. Their differences also encourage each other to get out of their comfort zones. Robby sees Joey having fun splashing in the bath, so he starts splashing too. Joey sees Robby reading books all the time, and wants to try it out too.

It's fascinating watching them grow as individuals, and as brothers and companions. It makes me so happy to see them having so much fun together, being silly, Joey copying everything he sees Robby do, Robby trying to teach Joey things, an actual friendship growing. It's interesting to consider how much is related to birth order and how much to innate personality. And mostly it all just raises the question: what if we have a third child?