Sunday, March 29, 2009

Devin's bad dream

I heard Devin screaming in her room last night. It was the unmistakable "terror" scream. She was calling for me between her screams and I found her standing in the middle of her room, shaking. When I picked her up, she wrapped her pudgy arms around my neck and buried her head in my shoulder. When she was finally calm enough to speak, she told me she dreamed that a tiny bug landed on her hand. This had just happened to her the day before as we were driving to a birthday party. Apparently, the experience was more traumatic for her than I thought. She wanted me to stay with her in her bed for a while and I happily agreed, especially since night feedings and interrupted sleep are distant memories. We climbed into bed and she clutched my arm and pressed her forehead against my shoulder. She was asleep within seconds. I stared at her silhouette and inhaled the scent of her curls and I was happy. I like knowing that when my children are hurt or sick or have a bad dream, just being with Todd or me makes it all better, or at least tolerable. Devin's dream was one of the scariest events she's ever experienced in her three and a half years on this planet, yet as long as she was in Mommy's arms, she would be OK. I hope that a bug dream is the worst any of the girls will ever have to experience, at least for many, many years. Each of my four girls fills a chamber of my heart and if any of them is in any kind of pain, my heart hurts and doesn't beat properly. I wish I could shrink myself and fit into their pockets or ride on their shoulders for the rest of their lives. I want to be there for them when they experience unfamiliar or unnerving situations. I want to whisper in their ears, "it will be OK. We will be here for you." I want to be there when they face challenges. I want to whisper words of encouragement. "You can do it. You can do anything. Just try."
I eventually drifted off to sleep and awoke 4 hours later with Devin still attached to my arm. I slowly slithered out of her bed and back into my own room. When I asked Devin today if she remembered me sleeping in her bed with her, she had absolutely no recollection, but I did. I still do, and I will tomorrow...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Unanswered questions

There are some unanswerable questions in this life. Why does Anderson Cooper squint all the time? Does he equate squinting with deep thought? The tighter the squint, the closer to enlightenment? Another one that really bothers me is why don't the CSIs ever turn the lights on? The crime scenes are dark and even the lab, which should be as bright as day due to the fluorescent lights, is dimly lit. Sometimes it frustrates me so much I can't watch.

The question that has been gnawing at me for years, however, is this one: Although we have a "shoe shelf" with enough openings for 11 pairs of shoes.....

why does the floor around the shoe shelf inevitably look like this at the end of every single day while the shelf remains virtually empty?

There are no easy answers to these questions. Until there are, I guess I'll have to continue to endure Anderson's squinting, the CSIs fumbling around in the dark, and the nightly ritual of shoe scooping.


a youngster between 10 and 12 years of age, considered too old to be a child and too young to be a teenager.
Here's my tween. There was something about this moment that made me want to capture it. Maybe it's because she usually wears her hair in a ponytail and today it was free-flowing, or maybe it was because she was using the laptop, but she looked different to me today. I can't explain it, but when I walked into the living room and saw her lying on the rug, she took my breath away for a split second.
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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Who wants tea?

I don’t intend to turn this into a political blog, but to quote the Declaration of Independence, “When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary…” . You probably haven’t heard because the main stream media, including the NY Times and Boston Globe won’t tell you, but over the last month or so, Tea Party protest rallies have been held all over the country. Orlando - 3,000 people. Cincinnati – 5,000 people. Click here for pictures and stories. People are protesting the grotesque swelling of government and momentum is gathering. The spark was lit when the taxpayer bailouts were handed out, but the flame was fanned by Rick Santelli’s rant on the floor of the Chicago stock exchange. If you haven’t seen it, click here. April 15, tax day, is a day of nationwide protest. Click here for the web site to find an event near you. Events are planned all over the country. I can’t be a person who complains and never does anything, so for the first time, I’m going to do something. My friend and I are each taking our 2 youngest kiddos to the Providence Tea Party. The picture shows what the girls will wear. Both are Thomas Jefferson quotes. Tori’s says, “ The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not" and Devin’s says, “A government big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything you have". Do I have a t shirt too? Of course! Mine has a picture of Jefferson and a quote that reads, “ When the people fear their government there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty" . I’ll post pictures after the rally.

If I won the lottery...

With just a few hours left before the new carpet arrives, we took advantage of the empty space one last time. Before school this morning we held a teddy bear throwing competition. We sent Honey, Gabriella, Lovey, and Hannah Montana cartwheeling through the air into into waiting arms below. I think that when I win the lottery I will have a room specifically for throwing things. The kids (and I) had a blast whipping the bears around, knowing that there were no furniture or light fixtures to smash. I would probably add padded walls for when Todd and his friends want to show off their diving skills to each other. I have other ideas too. I'd build the usual rooms, like a scrapbook room and a Pump it Up room. There would have to be an "all 5 of the women in my family have their period and I need to get the hell away from them before they rip my head off" room for Todd. That must be built with sound proof walls so that he couldn't hear the hormone driven emotional breakdowns that will undoubtedly occur each month. It would also need to seal itself and have its own oxygen system to protect the rest of us from the gas that seeps out of Todd and his friends on poker nights and fantasy hockey draft nights.

The outside would be a child's paradise. A pool is a must. With a twisty slide. And a waterfall. And a straight slide. And a hot tub. And a cabana with a full bathroom so all swimmers can keep their wrinkly, dripping bodies out of the house. There would be a tree house like this one...
but it would be better because Todd would build it. There would be swings that flew so high that the rider would feel his heart in his throat. Of course there would be a slide, a slide so tall that thighs would burn by the time the top of the ladder was reached. The ride down would be worth the climb. The entire play area would be surrounded by a track for racing bikes, scooters, roller blades, or running feet. Now that would be cool!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Running room

The living room is getting a make over! Todd spent last weekend taking down blinds, filling holes, sanding, washing walls, and painting. Tomorrow the new carpet arrives so the room needed to be cleared out. The open space is just the right venue for jumping, running, flipping, cartwheeling, and dancing.
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Two posters

The thermometer says winter, but the calendar says spring so Tori and Devin made a poster with fake flowers (the only kind I like) to welcome the season.

Tori is still mourning the loss of the Windstar, though not to the same degree as last week. She's not crying anymore, but she still misses it. I made this poster with the pictures I took of her the day we got rid of it traded it in and hung it on her wall next to her bed. When I tucked her in to bed the first night the poster was there, I noticed a basket of play food on her bed. I asked her why it was there and she said, "I was feeding Windstar." It's no longer the Windstar, it has a proper name like Jacey, Bryn, and Devin. And she feeds it. She holds pieces of plastic food to each picture to nourish it. Can this little girl possible be any more compassionate?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Heart melting in progress

Tori brought this heart eraser to me and asked me to kiss it 4 times. I obliged. I asked her why and she said that it's for when she's at her sleepover at Gramma's this weekend. She will kiss it "at night, in the morning, at lunch, and in the car." Then she added, for additional "awww" effect, "it will be like I'm kissing you." I'll miss you, Tori!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Winter memories

The boots have been packed away, the mittens and hats have been washed and also packed away. The heavy coats have been removed from the hooks in the kitchen and relegated to the hall closet, not to be seen for another 8 months. When I ordered my coffee at the DD drive through yesterday, I requested the iced variety. Winter is over (fingers crossed) and spring is officially just days away. The girls have been spending hours outside without wasting valuable time bundling up. It's funny how their view of snow changes as the winter months trudge on. When the first flakes fell waaaaay back in December, (or was it November?) they couldn't get their gear on fast enough and get out the door. They didn't care how cold it was or how much snow was in their boots, as long as there was hot chocolate waiting for them when they came inside, they were oblivious to the elements. Now that they've donned their Crocs and capris for the first time, any weather forecaster who even hints at snow is the viewed as the enemy. Before we say goodbye to winter for the last time, here are a few pictures of the girls having fun in the winter of '08/'09. The top picture shows the girls and their friends from the neighborhood with their snow fort. They painted it, Jackson Pollock style, with food coloring and water. It was a masterpiece!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Dancing Queen

I was at the sink washing dishes Saturday night listening to an ultimate 80s CD when one of my favorite songs began to play. As soon as she heard the first note, in pranced Devin, shouting ,"I know this song! This is Superfreak!" She began the uncoordinated twists and jumps of a three and a half year old, then suddenly froze and declared that she needed something. A shirt perhaps? A dress to cover her bare torso? No. In fact, she was completely oblivious to her bulging belly. She came back with her favorite hat and plopped it on her head and said, "I needed my Cheetah Girl hat. That's better. Now I can dance." My little Solid Gold dancer continued her performance, which also included belting out the only lyrics she (thankfully) knows, "She's a superfreak, superfreak. She's super freaky..." until the song ended. I adore this age. Devin's vocabulary and imagination are developed to a point that allow her to come up with some crazy antics, yet modesty has yet to appear, so she does and says exactly what she feels at any given moment. This is what I'll miss when my girls are older - the spontaneous dancing, the grabbing of props from the dress up bin, the "Mommy, hold me and dance", the squeals as we spin, and of course, the eruption of giggles when Todd joins in. A house full of girls and one goofball hubby is like nothing else in the world.

I should mention that Devin's purple fingers are not due to a circulation condition. She ate frozen blueberries with dinner.

Oh yeah, the cut on her nose happened when she missed a step in the garage and fell, face first, into the next one. Ouch!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Goodbye Old Friend

After 7 years and 105,000 miles, we traded in our 2000 Ford Windstar. The tempermental "automatic" sliding doors no longer opened. On the rare occasion they did open, they wouldn't close. Well, sometimes they closed, only to pop themselves right back open. When the steering wheel was turned to the left, a moan resonated from somewhere deep within. The tired engine rattled, hissed, and whistled as if protesting my waking it from its slumber. It was time to retire the old girl. Jacey, Bryn, and Devin were thrilled to get the new car, but Tori was so sad. Let's rephrase that. She was despondent, heartbroken, and completely shattered by the experience. She valiantly tried to hold in her tears, but once the deal was done, she crumbled and the tears began to flow. She wanted to spend time in the van , so while I cleaned out our CDs, maps, Chapstick , and other items, Tori said her goodbye. She rubbed the dashboard and kissed it. She told the van that she would miss it and thanked it for keeping us safe all these years. She asked me to take pictures of her in it and write a list of all the fun times we had in the van. We remember...

  • The drive to Maryland last summer
  • Riding in the back with our feet dangling from the Maryland house to the water, listening to OAR's Blackrock
  • Countless trips to NH for weekends of swimming and relaxation
  • Car dancing down our street
  • The drive home from Todd's mom's house on Christmas Eve. The magic of the lights and the season filled the car with joy and anticipation.

I promised to make her a collage of the pictures I took to hang in her room and she calmed down and was fine...until my husband opened his mouth. Tori, Devin, and I were reading on my bed when Todd came to kiss them goodnight. He said to Tori, "What do you think our van is doing right now? Do you think it's lonely? Do you think it's wondering where its family is"? Once again, she sunk into despair. After many more cuddles and reassurance that we would make lots more memories in the new car, she finally went to bed. She has never been one to willingly embrace change, but I never thought she would react like this about the car. My sweet, sensitive baby. Speaking of babies--here's my newest one...

It's a used '09 GMC Acadia with 15,000 miles. She's shiny, red, and oh-so pretty! Here's to making new memories!

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Pump it up

Who ever came up with this concept is a genius. I took Devin to Pump It Up for open play today. Even though she has a cold she had so much fun running, climbing, jumping, and sliding. We played Hide and Seek and pretended we were falling out of a boat into the ocean. We had to call on Prince Eric to rescue us damsels in distress. When we first walked into the space, she was a little overwhelmed and hesitant to try out the play structures wanted to sit on my lap on the slide. Within a few minutes she felt right at home and was having a blast. Unfortunately we had to leave after just 40 minutes in order to get back in time for Tori's bus. Devin was really sad and didn't want to go. On the drive home I was feeling completely guilty about the lack of quality time I spend with my youngest. I feel like she's always strapped into a car seat or shopping cart. If we're not driving to her sisters' dance and swimming lessons, we're stocking up on groceries. She does have a blast playing with Tori and she loves school, but it's just not the same as having Mommy all to yourself. Days like today are an "in your face" reminder of what's important. Listening to my daughter squeal with delight as I chase her through an inflatable maze is tremendously important. Scrubbing the dried toothpaste off the sink for the 10,000th time - not so much.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Tori turns six!

I have a six year old again. My Tori celebrated her birthday last week with her first ever friend party. She chose an under-the-sea theme and we spent a month deciding on crafts, games, food, decorations, and the guest list. She invited nine girls, including Devin and chose to have make your own sundaes instead of cake. The craft stations included making bracelets with ocean colored beads, sand art bottles, dolphin sun catchers, mini aquariums, and paper plate jelly fish. We played parachute games and whacked a pinata. They stuffed their little bellies with ice cream topped with chocolate sauce, Oreos, M & Ms, gummy sharks, Swedish fish, sprinkles, and cherries. Tori and her friends were absolutely precious and the party was so much fun.

Now for the mushy stuff. What can I say about Tori? She is pure joy. She fills my heart with light and love. Her exuberance and zest for life are contagious and never fail to make me smile. She is friendly, smart, empathetic, cheerful, and simply delightful. Tori has big dreams and plans on holding down many careers, from a dance teacher to a vet, as long as she "doesn't
have to stick her hand up animals' butts".
Here are a few of my favorite photos of my baby girl from the past 6 years...

Spring in the air, mud in the shoes

Six days ago, school was cancelled as a foot of snow fell to the ground. What a difference a week makes. The snow has melted and turned the yard into a soggy sponge. The sandy area where the pool will soon be, aka The Pit, is a child's paradise and a mommy's nemesis. It is 20 feet x 18 feet of puddle-filled sand, perfect for building castles and mud cookies. However, when the sun is shining, and the thermometer registers 60 degrees, there's no better place to play, especially after a long New England winter. Yesterday I took Jacey and Devin to Target to stock up on jump ropes, bubbles, chalk, a Skip-it, and a basketball - all the springtime necessities. We spent both days outside breathing in the fresh air. The windows were thrown open so that the house, too, could rid itself of the cold virus that has been ricocheting around here for the last couple of months. Todd and I were very impressed with Jacey's basketball skills and tried, unsuccessfully, to get her to agree to sign up for a team. Devin got a new helmet so she could learn how to ride her bike. She loved the helmet and wanted to wear it the entire time she was outside. Aside from her bike riding and scooter skills, she demonstrated her running and dancing skills, all while wearing the helmet. We all went for a walk around the neighborhood - Jacey rode her scooter, Bryn and Tori rode their bikes, I pushed Devin in the stroller, and Todd threw snowballs at everyone as he walked along. He was very proud that he managed to pummell everyone, including Devin, the child who was strapped to her stroller with no means of escape. After hours of playing, a big dinner, and long, hot showers, the exhausted girls went right to sleep.

A really great event took place today. As the girls and I dug through the boxes of summer clothes looking for our capris, I spied a pair of mine that I bought in England 9 years ago. I haven't fit into them since the birth of Bryn. I gained kind of a lot of weight while pregnant with Bryn. OK, I gained a ton of weight. From about the fifth month, Todd called me Akebono. If you are not familiar with Akebono, click here for a picture. Envision my head on that body for a visual you won't soon forget. The problem was that I was never weighed at any of my prenatal appointments. It's kind of like the philosophical question, "if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?" For me it went more like this, "if a pregnant woman eats vat after vat of Froot Loops (imported to the UK at $8.00 per box) and no one is there to monitor her, will she gain any weight?" The answer to both of those questions is a resounding "YES". I seem to have drifted off topic. What was I talking about? Oh yes, the capris. I held the British pair in one hand and my comfy, cotton pair in the other. I decided to try on the British pair.....and they fit! Months of worshiping at the Billy Blank's Temple of TaeBo has finally paid off.

The point of all of this is that we had a fantastic, fun-filled, family weekend.

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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Dance the night away

The last 2 Friday nights have been date nights for Todd. He put on his casual best and went dancing with 3 lovely ladies. I wasn't one of them. I happily planted myself on the couch with the laptop and played Goober's Lab on Webkinz. Anyway, Todd escorted J, B, and T to the Father-Daughter dances at the high school. Jacey's dance was for the third, fourth, and fifth graders. Jacey had a fabulous time doing the Cha Cha Slide, Macarena, and other dances with her friends. Todd's eardrums nearly burst when the drumsticks of a local band were raffled off and the high-pitch squeals of 200 tweens reverberated throughout the gym.
This year was Tori's first dance and she was a little nervous because she didn't know what to expect. Like the trusted big sister that she is, Bryn stuck by her side to ensure that Tori had a fun night. Todd reported that all was fine except for the 15 minutes that the girls were out of his sight. Just as he was beginning to panic, they both broke free from the pack of girls they were surrounded by and ran to his side. At one point Todd was holding Bryn to slow dance with her and he looked down to see Tori licking Bryn's knee because "she wanted to". What? Doesn't everyone do that?
In the days leading up to the dances, Todd showed the girls how he planned on dancing. He jumped, twirled, pumped his arms, and gyrated as the girls rolled their eyes and said, exasperated, "Oh Daddy". That will be a phrase that will be heard many times in the coming years.