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Monday, October 31, 2011


I am the Halloween Grinch. Halloween used to be finding a costume and being excited to reveal it the day of the class party. Even when I was teaching, it was this way. Kids dressed up, had the school parade, had the class party and went home to trick or treat with their families. The next day you talked about the houses you hit that had the best candy and what kind of candy you got. I remember running into friends trick or treating with their families and being excited. We'd show each other how much candy we had gotten and then say good bye and be on our merry ways. It wasn't until I was a freshman or sophomore that a friend of mine and I decided to go trick or treating in a wealthier neighborhood. We joked that maybe they'd give out keys to cars and while they didn't, we did score a lot of candy...buckets full of candy because no one thought to trick or treat over there. That was the only time I went with a friend.

Halloween is not like that today. It is just another way for kids to feel left out. It started a few weeks ago when kids started talking about what they were dressing up as. Everyone was pairing up or finding a group to dress together. I saw a mad dash from the twins on finding someone to dress up with. Isabella cried at Target because all of her friends were being babies but she was a baby last year and didn't want to be it again. I told her I was a baby every year because I put Coca Cola in a baby bottle and drank it at the party while everyone else had juice. She was sold. Problem number one solved. Tommy was asked by one of his friends to dress together and after the ban from the masks was lifted, they are going as Jabbawokeez from the hip hop group. The carpool rides were the worst with the girls all talking and about who was being who and with who and who was trick or treating with who. I kept trying to change the subject but once you get girls talking, nothing stops them. The boy carpool was even worse (or better depending on how you look at it) because two of the boys were dressing together and the other was dressing with different friends. Boys don't seem to care as much so their conversations didn't seem like anyone's feelings were getting hurt but I still changed the subject every time it came up. With boys that was a lot easier to do. Trick or treating is the other way kids get left out. Now, they do it with their friends. I tried overruling this a few years back. We took my kids to my sister's and while the twins and my nephew were young enough not to care, my nieces and Nico cared a lot and walked around with scowls on their faces. Actually, I think my nieces were good sports and Nico had the scowl. I miss the days when Leo would walk around with the kids and I would stay and hand out candy. Now when kids run into friends from school, instead of being excited to see them, they feel bad because they see who is trick or treating with who and wonder why they didn't get asked to go with. It has really become a very difficult event to navigate through and it causes a gigantic headache (mine started about two weeks ago).

Candy is the other reason I am the Halloween Grinch. No matter how many rules I state about eating candy, they always whine for more. I get tired of being the candy police. Plus, it is my weakness so any diet I might be on, flies right out the window.

This is Gia's first Halloween where she can walk up to the door and say, "Trick or Treat" and it is just going to be the two of us going unless Leo gets home early. Isabella and Tommy are walking home with friends and going trick or treating with them. Nico has basketball practice and then football practice because both boys won their football games yesterday so both are in the Superbowl on Saturday. Tommy's coach called off practice. Nico's coach did not.

In a nutshell, I am hating this holiday because, Isabella was crying this morning because I forgot to buy Coke to put in her bottle so she had to take apple juice. Tommy cried because his eye holes were hurting his eyes so I had to cut them bigger but not too big. Nico was whining because he is sore from last night's game and while he understands is bummed that he has no Halloween and most of his friends do. Gia...well...candy is turning Gia into the devil. By the time I have to drag her to the kids' costume parade, instead of a cute little ladybug, she might be an evil ,scary one screaming for "more candy, PLEASE!"

Once again...good times.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Thoughts on Why I'm Stuck

The brick pavers are fixed (thanks, J.J. and Leo) and the dog run is cleaned out (thanks K.J.). We are on our way. I have to get through this day of football to see where we stand and then either next weekend or the weekend after, the dumpster will be ordered and the deck will come down. Things are getting done. I am so close to being organized, I can feel the weight being lifted off my shoulders.

 If I was brave, I'd ask for help because I still long for bare tables, counters and shelves (except for pictures of the family) but I am not brave enough yet. A wise person once said that there is a reason why we have blocks in our life (clutter and disorganization are examples...losing weight is another one). If my house was spotless with everything in its place and nothing to work on or the novel I am working on was finished and sent off to publishers or I was at the weight I wanted to be at, what would occupy my brain instead? The answer to that scares me a little. I think there are things I don't want to think about so it is easier to think of all the things I have to do instead. Asking for help is allowing someone to come into your life and judge you. Now, don't get me wrong, I joke but my house is not that bad. However, I think I have a lot more space than I think I do but it's being used up by things I have saved because they carry with them an emotional attachment. That's why I am stuck.

I am cleaning out my room and making room for a treadmill. I am cleaning out the basement to make room for a place for the kids to go (though they go now with nothing down there so maybe I'll just keep it that way and just throw out all the junk), I am grouping things (all the books in one place, all the meds in another, all the sports stuff in another) and finding a home for it all. Operation organization has begun. The goal: to have everything in this house have its own space so that it is easier for everyone to put things back where they belong. Don't worry, even when that is done, I'll still be the Queen of Chaos. My life and children will not allow for anything less.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


I was on the fence with the whole Twitter thing. I am not sure I am using it right and not sure who I should follow but really want a lot of followers because all I really "tweet" (I really don't like saying that) are posts of my blog so if someone follows me, does that mean they are reading the blog? It makes me feel good to think that so that is what I will continue to think. Anyway, in the last few days, I had an explosion in my email inbox of people that are now following me. I posted awhile back that nothing hurts the confidence like only having one follower. Well...on the flip side, it makes me squeal with joy to get a message that someone is following me. I went from having 11 followers two days ago to 42 followers this morning. Squeal, squeal, squeal! The best part is that there is an editor and a publisher following me. I don't know if they are editors or publishers of the kind of writing I do but it sure feels good. The other thing that made me feel good was that two bloggers that I read and think are hilarious are now following me. It was like a huge compliment when I saw that in my inbox because I enjoy their writing so much and they seem to have a huge following. I guess it really hit me that I really like writing the blog. I mean, I have always known that but the thought of the blog being more than just me writing and friends and family reading is exciting. I still would like to get paid to do it or to do any writing. The fantasy that someone in the writing world (or at least someone with the ability to pay me) will read it and say, "I really like your writing, I want to...publish it, pay you for it, have you come work for me"...any of those is a nice finish to that sentence. I just read somewhere that "if opportunity doesn't come knocking, you have to go find it." That's probably more realistic than the fantasy I just wrote.

Quick question: Has anyone used the "Follow by email" box in the upper right corner of my blog? Does that work? Do you get an email update when I post something new? People have told me that they have tried to follow me but don't get a notice when I write something new and now I am wondering if it even works.
On the agenda today is (I'm so excited...that's why I am sharing): Leo is going to fix the brick pavers, cut down the weeds in the dog run and move the bins in the store room. (Wonder if he really knows how happy this is going to make me.) He is taking the kids to his mom's to say goodbye before they leave for the winter and I will have a few hours all to myself!

Hope everyone else is having an enjoyable Saturday!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Some Random Thoughts

Does anyone else ever feel like their house is like Humpty Dumpty and needs to be put back together again? I feel this way every time the kids leave for school and on Monday mornings after the weekend chaos. At this point, all the king's horses and all the king's men can't even put my house back together again. I am hoping to do that today after I go to Panera and Barnes and Noble which I am doing this morning. Sending up a little prayer that Gia cooperates.

Dum Dum suckers are the greatest tool in the world for taking a toddler out in public. I am aware that I just used the word sucker and toddler in the same sentence and maybe shouldn't have with the age of this toddler but it is the 4th child syndrome...she should be watching rated R movies at 5 at this rate. That being said, candy is turning my sweet baby into a child whose head spins and screams like no other (again, wrong). It did get her to eat a lot of pepper steak which in turn helped her sleep through the night so it can't all be bad, right?

I am trying to go to bed before 10. I think maybe that would solve some major issues I have going on with insomnia, energy, crabbiness and trying to lose weight. I am trying but I am failing. Putting my house back together again after everyone comes home and eats after practice or helping the twins with their homework is not conducive to going to bed early. I will say that I can't wait for the World Series to be over (sorry baseball fans) so that I can once again fall asleep to Project Runway or Top Chef. I want my TV back (guess it is no fun watching sporting events on a half-screened television).

This morning I am riding high on the wave of getting stuff done. I switched over the kids' clothes for the season. I put away all of their shorts and tank tops and light pajamas. I love checking that off my "to do" list. The problem now is that I have the XL Ziploc bags everywhere because I am still afraid of going in the basement. Right now, Leo is still enjoying being the hunter and hasn't closed up the two holes under the porch where I know the mice are coming in. We haven't seen any in awhile so I am hoping that word got out in the land of mice that this is NOT a mouse-friendly house. I still want the sand and rocks to fill those holes so I'm going to have to call my friends (who are freakishly strong and seem to know a lot about fixing things) to come help me.

Pardon me while I do a side vent here but...Leo, if you are reading this (and you will be because I am emailing it to you), GO TO THE DOCTOR!!! Does anyone else do this or have a husband that does this: walks around the house complaining that they don't feel good...coughing up a lung...dragging themselves around and every once in awhile saying, "I'm not well"?  Leo was doing this before his trip to Vegas and is still doing it. He is self-medicating himself and it is obviously not working. I get not wanting to go to the doctor. I don't like going either but enough is enough. Suck it up and go get checked out. Our life is not one that allows for a lot of relaxing...oh, wait...Friday nights could be for relaxing but someone is busy playing poker or going to high school football games. Anyway, my patience is wearing very thin for someone that keeps saying they are sick while not seeing a doctor or taking care of himself.

I'm doing a little research for my writing that involves reading a lot of young adult fiction (still trying to decide where my writing fits in or whether I want to actively write YA fiction) and let me just say...these are not the same books I read as a kid. It's freaking me out a little to know that Nico is going to be in high school next year.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Moment of Success...and Then it Was Gone

I had was fleeting but last night after Nico came home from practice, I had that moment where I felt like the best mom in the world. First, let me say that he has Charles Lindbergh for his person that he studied. When he told me he needed pilot stuff, I didn't even know what he was talking about. It's probably the ONLY nice thing about junior high. I don't have to know everything so that it all gets done. He is solely responsible. Anyway, it dawned on me after I left my sister's (Thanks, Lee! You look great and loved seeing you and the boys!), that I didn't have to wait and take Nico and three of his friends to the store with me right when we should be eating dinner. Since I already had Gia in the car and could run in and out of stores quickly, I went to a Halloween store and scored the aviation goggles on the first stop. Then on a whim, I went to the Target that was a strip mall down and scored again with the aviation hat (one that someone in this house will end up wearing in the winter). I looked in our closet and sure enough Leo had a black and brown jacket that could pass for an aviation jacket but it wasn't the best. After talking to my best friend, Rochelle, she said she had a brown leather jacket of her husband's. Nico came home from practice, tried it all on and looked perfect! He was so excited and so appreciative that I felt it...what it feels like to be a good mom. a's possible! Nico worked on his project all night, painstakingly putting together some video. He was so proud of himself that it looked good and it wasn't even due until next Wednesday. The costume part is due tomorrow. This morning he asked me to send it to his teacher. He was a little nervous because he wasn't sure if doing a video was allowed but this gave him enough time to do something else if the teacher said no (watching how excited Nico was and how great it turned out, it would be a shame). He was feeling so good and asked me to watch it and I got through a third of it and had to stop. The teacher in me was struggling with the mistakes. They weren't so much mistakes as they were typos but I know how hard he worked on it and didn't know if I should say anything. This is the reason I don't like seeing what he does in school. I get caught up in the "right" way to do things and he still gets "A's" so who cares? He asked me all excited if I saw it, saw that it was paused and asked why I wasn't watching the rest of it? He looked more disappointed that I wasn't watching it so I told him I was but paused it for a second to go wake up the twins. I asked him if he knew there were a few mistakes in it and...moment of success was gone. His face fell and he said, "What?! I already edited it twice and I just sent it to my teacher." I told him to tell his teacher that he was sending it to make sure that it was okay to do and that he was still working on it. I felt horrible. No, it's not the worst thing but if you saw his face, you'd understand. He went from feeling so proud to so deflated. I'm not in the camp that kids should never be disappointed. I get it. It's a part of life but maybe I should have just not said anything. Maybe his teacher would have said something and he could have been the bad guy and I could, for just one moment, been the person that says, "It's perfect! You did awesome!" In my defense, I did say it was awesome but I followed up with "...but it needs to be fixed." He'll probably come home forgetting how disappointed he left today but it's one of those things that I'll keep feeling bad about. I know what that is work on something for a long time (cleaning the house, cooking dinner, Christmas shopping) and have someone **** all over it. It doesn't feel good.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Life With a Teen and a Small Update

I would say that at this point, Nico is harder than Gia. Maybe normally they are tied but on this day, he is harder. He has an orthodontist appointment today at 2:20 that I have to pull him from school for. Then I have to take him back to school for basketball practice. I was supposed to have my doctor's appointment and since it is Wednesday, my big night out at Barnes and Noble. Leo drops a bomb on me that he has to go to Boston for the day and won't be back until late. Nico tells me last night at 9:00 that either I have to give him cash (which I don't have on me right now) or take him and two of his friends to Party City to find props for his Social Studies project. So I have to cancel my doctor's appointment to take him. Then, I am thinking it is a few things that will be inexpensive and easy to find but brainiac child with his self-absorbed teen brain tells me, "It's no big deal. I just need a pilot hat, pilot goggles and a pilot jacket." What?! I asked him what he was going to do when Party City didn't have that stuff and he said, "Find a store that does." So in that self-absorbed brain of his, he thought it was perfectly normal to drag his little sister to as many stores as it takes to find stuff for his project during the time she normally eats dinner and gets ready for bed, knowing she hates the car. Wow. I told him to wear swimming goggles and he said, "Are you serious? I'll look ridiculous." I, feeling the vein in my head start to bulge, asked him how long he has known he needed this stuff and he said since last week. I was furious. I explained how this would have been a lot easier to do over the weekend when his dad could have watched Gia or I had cash then and he could have gone with another mom and I love that he thinks I am willing to spend however much it costs to buy all of those props. I told him that this was unacceptable and that for one, he was paying for this stuff with the money he was going to ask for this coming weekend and two, his social life is about to take a dive depending on how tonight goes.

This is the part of parenting that sucks and it is especially the part of being a mom that sucks. Do you think Leo, on his way to Boston right now, is thinking about how to help Nico find props for his Social Studies class? No (and if you are saying to yourself, have him ask the pilot for some stuff...haha) but I am not thinking about the meeting that he has in Boston either so I don't begrudge him for it. Call me a bad mom but I don't care about this project that he is working on (from the sounds of it, for a day) and I don't want to drive all over the place looking for things that he will never use again (maybe I'll make him go trick-or-treating as a pilot as punishment). I am irritated that I have to cancel my doctor's appointment and am afraid that they are going to charge me for it anyway in which case, I'll have to try and make it and then take the kids after which means it will be Gia in a store past her bedtime where her little head will turn all the way around while screaming at the top of her lungs. Oh, and did I mention that Tommy has football practice and Belle has cheerleading?

Update on the switching classes: I am so impressed with the way Isabella's teacher handled it. I sent both teachers an email expressing my concerns stating very clearly that I didn't expect them not to do it just because my kid was upset but that this was what was going on and maybe not just with my kid. We exchanged many emails (I never heard from Tommy's teacher) discussing both viewpoints. I said I appreciated his taking the time to discuss it and he said he appreciated the "behind the scenes view." He said he was going to, along with Tommy's teacher, talk to both classes to resolve some of the things going on. He told the kids that it wasn't about skill level. It was about practice and that each of the classes were practicing different things. I still don't like the switching but Tommy and Isabella were okay with that explanation and hopefully the other kids that were feeling bad were, too. Tommy no longer felt like he was "dumb at math" and I appreciated that it was handled without it being a big production. After dealing with some of the teachers I have had to deal with lately, it was refreshing to deal with a teacher with an open-mind.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

An Issue as Old as When I Was Teaching

As a teacher, I see the advantage of splitting kids in groups for math according to how well they test on a pretest. It makes it easier to target the students' needs and makes it easier to teach. I know there are many advantages but even as a mom whose kids have been in the high group (and the low group and the average group), I think it is damaging to do it too early. I think kids reach a level when it won't damage their self esteems and I feel strongly that 4th grade is too young. Even as a teacher, I refused to do it. I taught second grade so it really wasn't a big deal to refuse to do it. When Nico was in fifth grade, they did this and I had a huge issue with it. He ended up in the middle group and came home crying because at the time math was "his thing" and he couldn't understand why he wasn't in the high group. I told him to ask his teacher why and what he had to do to move groups and she said not to worry about it. One of the kids told him he was in the dumb group. Another kid said, "Nico, I thought you were smart. Why are you in that group?" I saw his confidence in math deflating right in front of my eyes. He asked me, "Can I be in the NFL if I am dumb at math?" I couldn't sit back anymore so I asked the teacher about it and she said he tested on the border so she put him in the lower group. I told her what was going on and said next time he tests on the border, can you put him in the higher group and see what happens? What do you know? He flourished. He rose to the occasion. I want to be crystal clear here: Even when Nico was in the high group, I was completely against this practice. I think a lot of success in math comes from having confidence in doing it. Some would argue that being in the lower group will give the child more success which in turn will give them confidence. In a perfect, very isolated world, I would agree. On the playground and right before the children switch classes, I completely disagree. A child that has to answer the question, "Which group are you in?" or has to move classes to the average group (if he wants to be in the high group) or the low group (if he wants to be in the average group) is not feeling all charged up about math. From my own experience in teaching, the kids did so much better when they were taught in their own classes and were given challenge work if they tested high on a pretest and were given extra reinforcement if they tested low. That way, I could see if the pretest was a fluke or if they actually tested to where their knowledge was. We all know that tests aren't the best measure of a child's ability. Some kids are really good test takers and some aren't. Some people would argue that, "Oh, it's fun for the kids to get up and move classes or have different teachers." I'd bet it's only fun for the kids in the high group or the ones that aren't aware that the groups are split by high/average/low.

I know this because having twins, this issue is a gigantic pain in my butt. My house was like a battle zone from the time the twins came home until they went to bed. Even when they went to cheer (where the talk in the car was, "What group are you in?") and football (Tommy came home upset because there was talk there too) there was no reprieve for them. One child is in a higher group than the other and the one that is in the lower one, math is "his thing" so there were a lot of tears shed last night. Every single conversation with Tommy and Belle was about how the classes were split up and who is in what class and why and then more tears. Belle walked around like a proud peacock and then struggled with her math homework all night. If you ask me, that is exactly what I was talking about. She obviously tested well and now is in over her head. Then she started crying, "What if I'm not supposed to be in this group?" What if I do bad and I get moved to the lower group?" So while the teachers are thinking this is a great idea and everyone's needs are getting met, I wonder if they really know the fall out from teaching this way? I highly doubt we are the only ones going through it.

To top it off, Tommy wanted to be a Jabbawockee for Halloween (hip hop dancer with a white face mask). I had to talk him down from a gazillion other costumes that I thought were inappropriate or too gory. For years, kids have worn masks for the Halloween parade. Two years ago, Tommy was a gorilla with a full mask. It was fine. Last year, he was Scream with a full mask and it was fine. This year, the new principal has decided to ban all masks. I see the safety issue but there is no vision issue with Tommy's mask. So it took me two weeks of painstakingly talking him and his friend into being this because everything else they wanted to be wasn't okay and now this isn't okay. It's a week before Halloween and we have to come up with another costume which means it will end up costing me twice as much as the original costume. I told him we could just paint his face white and he replied, "Then I'll look like a stupid mime." (Sorry if that is offensive to any mimes that might be reading this.) Tommy said yesterday was the "worst school day of my life."

The irony is that we bought this house because of the house (which we have outgrown) and the school district and between the running for flags, teaching based on a pretest and ruining Halloween, I wonder how they got the upstanding reputation that they have...oh wait...I remember now. It was based on kids' test scores.

Monday, October 24, 2011

My Week at a Glance and Some Thoughts

After surviving the weekend we just had, I need a few days to recover. I don't think I'm going to get them this week. Today Nico has football from 6-8, Tommy has it from 6-7:30 and Belle has cheer from 5:30-7 and I am the carpool mom taking to practice. Tomorrow, Nico has basketball practice until 4:30 and then football from 6-8. Belle, Tommy, Gia and me are all going for our flu shots at 4 and there might be a chance Tommy has basketball practice. Wednesday, Nico and Tommy have an orthodontist appointment at 2:30, Nico has basketball until 4:30, Tommy has football from 6-7:30, Belle has cheer from 5:30-7, and I have a doctor's appointment at 5:20 (and Leo has a day business trip where he won't be back until Weds. night). Thursday, Tommy has football from 6-7:30, Nico has football from 6-8 and Belle has off. I am the carpool mom for Tommy. Friday, I am sure that all of my kids will want to have plans and by then, I will want to crawl under a rock and hide.

The funniest part of reading what I just wrote is that Leo and I just discussed me looking into going back to school for a masters in counseling. He wants me to wait until Gia is in school but I said if I start now and take a night class, I'll be that much closer to working once she is in school. He agreed and told me to look into programs. Now that I wrote what my week is like, how in the world am I going to fit a class in there? My dream is to make money writing but another dream is to be a counselor with my own practice (or join a practice where I can make my own hours).

After all that I said about not wanting to miss Nico's games, he scored a touchdown and I missed it! I can't even blame Gia. I was gabbing with my friends and though he plays full back sometimes, he doesn't run the ball as much as he blocks so after he came out after playing defense, I didn't hear them put him in for offense and I missed it. He said afterwards he looked to see if I saw (that alone kills me) and then came over and made fun of me that I missed it. Thank God (and B.B.) for the game tape and highlight video (thanks B.B. for putting that in) so I saw it but I'll be feeling bad about that for awhile. Good news and bad news about football this weekend. Good news is that both boys won their games and are a game away from playing in their superbowl. Bad news is that now we are dealing with overlap for both boys with basketball. That means racing from one practice to the next or missing practices and having coaches mad.

I am really frustrated with Blogger. It won't let me comment on my own blog or any other ones. It says I don't have a google account that will let me and then when I do an OpenID and try and do it from the blogs URL, it says I am not a member of that site. How can I not be a member of the site my blog is on. I have to put that I am a follower of my own blog?? How dumb is that? I am not going to do that just because of the sheer stupidity of it. Why do the simplest things have to be so complicated.

So...I am thinking of switching to Word Press and I am thinking of putting up a survey to see how often people would like to see new posts. I know I said this before but no one said anything so maybe if I do an anonymous survey, I'll get some feedback. I am a member of a few blogs and I know that I can't wait for new posts but I wonder if every day is overkill. I'm thinking of cutting back to every other day. Maybe not writing every day will leave readers wanting more. I'm not sure. I was always looking at it from the writing aspect. Not the reading one. After I write the blog, it inspires me and drives me to write in my books. It's kind of like exercising. If I don't just start, I won't do it but once I start, I go with it. Even as I wrote that, I laughed. Exercise has been the first thing off the "to do" list because either I am tired or busy...there is no "just starting" going on.

Because our weekend was so crazy, we are at the bottom of the barrel of food over here so I have to go grocery shopping. Here's hoping that Gia has turned a corner on her dislike for shopping and that most of it won't be spent with her screaming.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunny Acres and Busiest Sunday Ever

I love Sunny Acres. It is a tradition like most other families to go once a year. We went yesterday. I looked forward to it all week. Finally we were going to do something as a family that didn't include going to a sporting event or eating after a sporting event. I knew it was going to be colder than when we usually go but with football, we couldn't get there on the days when it was warmer. I thought maybe that would mean no bees but I was wrong. They were awful. I'll give you the shortenened version of how it went. Keep in mind that we were meeting good friends of ours that we don't get to see very often (Leo and I pretty much grew up with the other couple...started dating at the same married at the same time...) at 2:00 and Leo was still dragging his behind from not feeling well, coming home from a business trip and playing poker (in the stupid poker club) on Friday.

Leo and I fought to get out of the house to be there by 2:00.
I fought with the kids.
Leo fought with the kids.
The kids fought with each other.
Gia cried.

That was just in the car on the way over. Once we got there:

We took the yearly picture.
Nico went off with his friends who met him there (because God forbid he ever just hangs out with his family). Tommy cried because I wouldn't let him go with Nico and his friends.
We found our friends.
Gia didn't know what to do first.
I ran around like a maniac swatting the stupid bees that for some reason love Gia and me.
Tommy cried some more.
Nico found us and said, "Moooom. I look around and what am I doing here? This place is for little kids. I get it is for family time but can't we do something more fun?" (This from someone who was with us for all of 30 seconds of "family time")
Tommy cried and then argued using my own argument to be able to go with Nico in the Haunted Barn. He said, "You said this is family time and Nico is my family and I want to go with him in the Haunted Barn because I never did before." He won but only on the condition that he went in the Barn and then came back to us. Our friends have a second grade daughter and son that is in preschool so I wanted Tommy and Belle to stay with them.
Isabella doesn't like scary things so she complained that there was nothing to do
Nico left.
Gia went on the ponies and OMG, if I could buy her a pony just to see the glee in her face and hear those giggles, I would. She LOVED the pony ride.
More bee swatting.
Rock climbing for the twins.
Gia had a meltdown in the Kiddie Koral and then she was done with Sunny Acres.
Good times.

The best part besides seeing Gia on the ponies was seeing our friends. The four of us were always close and being with them guarantees a lot of laughs. You know how after you have kids, you drift apart from friends that don't have kids? Well it was never like that with them. It only got hard to see them when our kids got older and into travel sports. Then it was hard for us to see anyone other than the other parents of the kids on the team. It was so good to catch up and be with people that knew you before all the craziness. It was also a reminder that they are definitely lifetime friends.

Today is one of those days when no matter what I do, it isn't the right thing. I went to Tommy's game and left Nico and Belle with Gia. She's not feeling that great so I worried the whole time. Tommy had a nice run for a touchdown so I was so happy I finally got to see one in person instead of on the game tape. Belle is cheering at 2:00 (on the same field that I once cheered at which will bring back a flood of memories) and that is right when Gia naps so I got a babysitter but maybe I should have gotten a babysitter for Nico's game at 4:00. I had a few back up plans but they all fell through so now I have to bring her to Nico's game with her not feeling well and hating being at the games. I have this weird thing about Nico's games. I don't want to miss any of them right now because I don't know when it will be his last game. We are in the playoffs so if he loses, he is done. I know he is going to play next year but who knows how much field time he'll see so I just want to enjoy every minute that he is still playing. After today's game, I have to drive Nico to basketball tryouts for his high school feeder team. On the long drive to Hinsdale, I thought about the future and wondered if someday I'd miss all this craziness. Right now I think that is hard to believe but I bet I will.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

"I'm Sorry. What was that?"

I feel like that is pretty much my catch phrase these days. Sometimes I'll change it up and it will be, "Excuse me. What did you say?" Then there is the I'm just flighty response of, "Wait...what?" All of these to hide the fact that I can't hear very well. This part of getting older is not fun (I know there are parts of getting older that are but I still haven't found them yet). What makes the problem worse is that I married a mumbler. I gave birth to two mumblers. It's true that most times Leo does try to have a conversation with me while we are at opposite sides of the house but really, even when we are in the same room, if my back is to him, I can't hear a word he says. If he ever tries to tell me something in the middle of the night, forget it...he sounds like the teacher from Charlie Brown. Nico and Tommy are the other two mumblers. They have raspy voices to begin with but add in the mumbling and I can't understand a word they are saying. I went once after the twins were born to have a doctor look at my ears. I thought I couldn't hear very well because of wax but no such luck. He said they were clean as a whistle and wanted me to have my hearing checked. I did and absolutely HATED the test. He said I had some minor loss that was more significant with background noise. He gave me some information on hearing aids and I never went back. I don't know why. Maybe it was because with all the CF stuff and all the doctors, I just didn't want to add one more thing that didn't work like it was supposed to. I went through a really bad time where I hated my body for not working. It was carried a defective gene...I just didn't want to accept another reason it failed me.

I know on a scale of loudness, I am not the loudest person but I am probably louder than the average person. There are several reasons for this: I blame the teacher/cheerleader...two things where you have to be loud. I blame the fact that my kids only listen to one voice level and that is any octave higher than talking. I could blame it on being Italian and they are notorious for being loud. I blame it on being one of five daughters growing up...if you weren't loud, you didn't get heard. Or...I could blame it on that I don't hear very well so if I talk loud, the person I'm with might talk loud and then I won't look like an idiot when they've asked me a question and I stare at them blankly and have to say, "I'm sorry. What was that?"

My ears have always been a source of embarrassment for me. I have my dad's ears and they are not small. I wear long hair and will be the 80 year old woman with the long, scary witch hair for a reason. They have an odd shape to them as well. I am not just being self deprecating here. I'll give you an example: We had taken the kids to see the one of the Santa Clause movies with Tim Allen and at the end of the movie there is scene where you see elves among regular people but they have elf ears. I was putting my hair up in a ponytail when Tommy gasped. He said, "Mommy, you're an elf."

I am afraid that people are going to start thinking I am rude. I can't tell you how many times a neighbor will yell something to me as they are walking by or I'll be at a game or at one of the schools and someone will say something from far away and I can't hear what they said. I could yell, "What?" but odds are I wouldn't hear them the second time. So if you see me out and you say something to me and I don't answer you, I am not ignoring you or being rude...I probably didn't hear you. It's funny...I'll be able to tell who actually reads this when I run into people and suddenly they are talking louder around me.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Short Post

I am tired. Wind blowing the branches to scratch at the window=no sleep. Everyone but Belle and me are on meds and I have so much sinus pressure and head pain that if I could pull my eyes out to relieve it, I would.

Nico made his school's basketball team. Nothing like adding to the chaos. Basketball is now overlapping with football. Good times.

I caught up on some TV while not sleeping: I watched the Real Housewives of New Jersey reunion and I cannot believe Teresa has made me like Melissa and Kathy. I am embarrassed that I ever said I liked her. Can't stand her.

I miss Elliot from Law and Order SVU.

The new housewife on RHOBeverly Hills is making Camille look good. Can't stand her either.

Question to ponder: How many friends do you have that are your friends for a reason, season or lifetime? Knowing the difference can save a lot of heartache. Think back to the last friend you drifted apart from...reason or season? Think of the friend that you can be your true self with and he/she still accepts you (and wants to be around you)...lifetime?

Which reminds me, if you are reading, KG, I miss you.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Am I On Candid Camera?

My day yesterday was CRAZY! I had every intention of going through the kids' clothes and put away the shorts (leaving out one or two because I do live in Chicago where one day it is 40 degrees and the next it is 75). Gia became more and more miserable as the day went on and I could tell she was moving from "bad cold" to full blown sick. I called the doctor at 1:00 when I couldn't take one more minute of her miserableness. The nurse called back at 1:30 and said she'd talk to the doctor and call me back to tell me if he wanted to see her or just call in meds. I didn't hear back until 5:30 that he thought what I thought and that was that she was battling a sinus infection. He said he was going to call in meds for her. I know how lucky I am that my doctor knows my kids that well where he calls meds in. I will stay with him forever because I know how lucky I am. That being said, the events that followed could have been on a sitcom. Maybe in another world there was a studio audience laughing their behinds off but I was not. I went to Target to pick up the meds a half hour after the doctor called me. I had a roast in the oven that was due to be out by 6:30. I had to leave Gia with Nico and Tommy: one brother that is easily distracted by Facebook, his phone and Madden on Xbox and another who loves to aggravate her until she screams. I went to the counter and asked if it was ready. The guy said he hadn't gotten anything. I didn't panic. I said I had some shopping to do and would check back. I checked back 10 minutes later and still nothing. I got myself a hot chocolate and tried not to worry about the kids and the roast (isn't that how some bad Lifetime movies start?). I went back and the guy said he just got it and give them 20 minutes. I called Nico, asked how everything was going and told him to take the roast out of the oven. He asked if he could put Gia to bed meaning she was really crabby (the answer was no). I ended up spending about $50 more than I should have, went back and the pharmacist told me there was a mistake (of course there was) and that they needed to page the doctor. She told me to go home and she'd call when it was ready. Complete (expensive) waste of time.

I went back home to find that Nico did not take the roast out of the oven (anyone need a catcher's mitt), gave Gia a bath and got ready to put her to bed without her medicine. I did my fair share of yelling because in the short time I was gone, the boys destroyed the kitchen and family room. Belle came home from practice, Target called and said the meds were ready so back out into the rain I went. I got the meds and bought pizza from the Pizza Hut cafe in Target and back home I went. I was able to get a dose into Gia but I came home to more mess (even though I said I wanted it clean before I came home) and Tommy coughing like an old man who has smoked two packs a day. How does someone have CF and not know how to cough? It is the most annoying bark/yell cough that I have ever heard and he was up all night with it so now I'll have to call the CF doctor and have his antibiotic refilled. No one is well here. Everyone has sinus issues going on. Leo keeps texting me that he is not well and I want to say, "At least you are not well by yourself. I am not well with 4 other people, all of whose needs come before mine." It was 11:30 before I fell into bed. The laundry was done, the house was put back together and everyone was asleep. At least I thought. It was 11:45 when Tommy woke up, did a treatment and crawled into my bed. Luckily, Gia slept through the night.

This morning has been a "Yelling" morning. I have woken everyone up at least 5 times (I really hate that), yelled to get out of the shower, yelled to get downstairs, yelled that it is too cold for shorts, yelled that I am sick of having to remind everyone to take their pills that are right in front of them and yelled, "Goodbye! Have a GREAT day!"

I was checking  my email when I got an email from my sister that I don't get to see or talk to very often and opened it. We are always talking about ways to make money or advancements in CF so I didn't think anything of the email that said, "Ann, you need to check this out and get back to me." It was a link to a news reports so that is what I thought it was. It was and I replied to her that my brain was mush and I'd send it to Leo to look at. Two minutes later, another one came with the same link and a "See you around." That was odd. Now I think it was a virus and I sent her a reply so if you get anything funny from me, don't open it. I hate mornings that start this way.

On a separate note, I am on a hunt for Power Bars: Cookies and Creme. Nico and Tommy love them and they are a great way for them to add extra calories. I can only find them at Jewel and they are pretty expensive (almost $2 a bar). I found them online but shipping is steep. If anyone sees them anywhere, can you drop me a note? I am also looking to rent a dumpster to get rid of my deck and everything in my store room. If anyone knows of a cheap one, let me know.

Cleaning lady is coming and again, I should be less stressed...but am not. Does anyone else feel like somewhere someone is watching them and laughing? Like I am my own Truman Show or Stranger Than Fiction? There are too many moments to count when I fully expect someone to jump out and say, "You are on Candid Camera!"

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Two Completely Separate Thoughts

The only thing these things have in common is that they are on my mind at the same time.

Nico is getting a C in gym. He is getting all A's and B's but a C in gym. I, of course, jumped the gun and reminded him that he gets grounded if he gets a C in a class I know he is capable of doing better (for example, the last two years, I was thrilled when he got a C in math because he was struggling so much). He very calmly (but was on his way to being upset) asked if he could tell me his thoughts on the subject. Priding myself on being fair, I said yes. He said, "I can't believe I am going to get grounded for getting a C in gym when I am as active as I am outside of school. It's because of the flags. I can't run them. I jog them and don't goof around. I try to get as many as I can but I still get an F for the day." I said I'd talk to Leo and when I did, his response was, "I don't really care that he is getting a C. It's a joke." I looked at the grade report again and saw that he was telling the truth. You have to get 30-33 flags to get an A (which in the beginning of the year, Nico did once). Since then he is battling injury after injury from football practice (nothing major...just a little beat up and his knee has been an issue on and off). On average, he jogs and gets 19 flags and it is an F.  They made them run on the hottest day of the year, he got 12 flags (it is ridiculous that they even had to run). There are only two ways to get grades in this gym class. Test/Quizzes (he is getting all A's) and the runs which are weighted the same as tests and quizzes which he is getting all F's. Am I the only one that thinks this is a ridiculous way to grade kids? For the last three weeks, Nico has been getting up at 6:00 to go to basketball intramurals, goes to school, comes home and then goes to football practice. It doesn't feel right to ground him for not getting more flags. I don't even know where he would pull the energy from at that time of day (last period) to even run faster. The other thing is why are we only hearing about this now? There isn't that much time to bring up their grades and we are only hearing about it now? I know there are other parents upset and I want them to be the ones that brings up these issues. I don't want to always be the PITA parent always complaining so this time I am staying mum until conference time. It's pretty sad that Nico would rather go to the sinus doctor where he will most likely say he needs surgery instead of go to gym this Friday.

The second thought is that I really, really need a girls' weekend. I know Leo is gone for work but I am guessing that he is eating good meals, sleeping through the night and fitting in a poker game here and there. That makes me want to eat good meals, sleep through the night and write in my books or read a book while sitting in the sun drinking a margarita. I tried to go to breakfast with friends of mine and Gia was terrible so I had to leave. I want some uninterrupted time with my friends. I want my stomach to ache from laughing so hard. I want to commiserate and check in and make sure that we are still on the same page. I don't want a girls' night. I want a whole weekend. I think it might bring some sanity back to the crazies that have taken up residence over here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Happy Birthday Tommy and Isabella!!

It's hard to believe that it was ten years ago, I was giving birth (by c-section) to the twins. I've already written about the day they were born and even today, I can remember the relief of holding them in my arms. They were so healthy. So unlike Nico's birth. Having them proved I was willing to go through Hell to get them and I still can't believe that we went through all that we did. I thought I'd instead do a paragraph telling what I love about each of them.

Since Tommy was born first, I'll start with him. It's impossible not to fall in love with Tommy. He is funny without knowing he is funny. He is passionate about football, basketball and baseball but mostly football. I am amazed at every game by how tough he is. It can't possibly be the same kid on the field that asks me, "Mom, can we cuddle?" He loves to bust a move and has been making me laugh since he was 6 months old. He is a self proclaimed "ladies man" and I love to hear moms (and teachers) tell me that they want their daughters to marry Tommy. There is a light in Tommy's green eyes that I can't he is an old soul. Like he is part of this wonderful joke or secret that he can't help but laugh at. A funny story about Tommy and there are many: We went to the kids' conferences two years ago (he was in 2nd grade) and first we went to Nico's and we heard all about how he struggled in Math. We went to Belle's and she got a wonderful report with the only thing to improve on was math. I thought, Great! They got my math genes. I was dreading Tommy's conference because he gets marked down for being the class clown and not listening attentively (he told me he listens with his ears, not his eyes) and no parent wants to sit and listen to that at a conference. We didn't hear any of that. The teachers went on and on about what a joy he was in class and then...we knew it was coming..."the only concern is math..." I knew it! "He is advanced and needs to be challenged. He excels in all the subjects but we really need to make sure we give him some accelerated work in math." Leo and I walked out of there dumbfounded. I looked at Leo and said, "Is it possible..." and he finished, "that Tommy is our smartest kid?" Who would have thought it with his blank stares or instead of answering me when I ask him a question, he busts out into hip hop moves? Tommy is a fighter through and through. He is so different from the other kids in that he rarely needs help and is a self starter in every aspect of his life (Nico is a self starter...when he wants to be). He is also by far our most stubborn kid. When he sets his mind that he wants something, he doesn't stop until he gets it. I want to say that he only uses this when he is on a court or a field but I can't. He asks me every single day when he can get drums and I answer, "When you have your own place." Drums and a baby don't really mix. Another funny story about Tommy was when he was in first grade and a little girl in his class called him on the phone. She was pretty forward and asked him if he was still her boyfriend. He said yes really quietly and she must have said she couldn't hear him because he yelled, "Yes, I am still your boyfriend!" He hung up and after I got over my shock of a girl calling him, I asked him how the call made him feel and he said, "all warm in my stomach." I hope Tommy stays as sweet as he is. I hope that if he has to battle all that he has to, that it doesn't dull his love of life. He tells me all the time that when he goes pro and is in the NFL, he is going to have so much money that he is going to fly me out to all of his games so I never have to miss one. Now, c' can you not fall in love with that?

I can say this because she looks nothing like me. People tell me all the time that she does but I think they are just trying to make me feel like more than the pod that carried her. She is beautiful and looks like a real live angel. When she was little she had Shirley Temple blond curls and now, I'd kill to have her hair. She has a blond (though it is getting darker than the white blond that it once was) sometimes curly and sometimes straight mane and pretty green eyes...see, total opposite of my brown hair/brown eyes combo. She is a people-pleaser through and through. She is so amazing with Gia that someday, some child is going to be very lucky to have her as a mom (someday in the very far future). Gia absolutely adores her. I would be lost without Belle and my life would be a whole lot more chaotic because she helps me so much. I went to Barnes and Noble one night and when I came home, she had cleaned the whole house. I am harder on Belle than I am on the boys and I know that isn't fair. The mother/daughter relationship is a tangled web. She is most like me and I see in her things I would have liked to have been different in myself. She has a short fuse and is quick to get mad. She holds a grudge and she is so sensitive that the smallest things hurt her feelings (once a girl told her that her desk was big and she was so upset she didn't ask the girl over for months). I have newfound respect for my parents since they never let on that I was bugging them when I would say, "Can I show you this dance I made up or read you this story I wrote?" She asks me about 20 times a day if she can "sing me the song she wrote or show me the cheer she made up?" I hope to God my face isn't registering what my mind is thinking. For the record, her songs for awhile disturbed me. Some of the lines were, "We broke up and I don't know why" or "I loved you but you didn't love me back" and my personal favorite, "You cheated on me and I'll never forgive you." Obviously her little crush in 3rd grade spilled over into her songwriting and we had a long talk about the way a boy should treat a girl and how about pepping it up a bit (I made a mental more Taylor Swift songs for awhile)? I never worry about Belle's report cards or taking her out in public. She holds herself to a higher standard than I ever could. I have already talked about her passion for cheerleading and she does sparkle when she is on that floor or field or sideline but she has another passion and that is drawing. I love to watch her draw because she gets lost in it. She amazes me at how good she is. At first, I thought she was going to be shy but she enjoys being center stage in the things she loves to do. When she was little, she was okay letting Tommy have the spotlight but not anymore. She loves it just as much as he does and it is often the source of fights. One of Belle's best traits is her loyalty. If you win her over, she will fight for you and defend you even if you are wrong. I know this because she takes my side no matter what the issue is. Another story that shows how mothering Belle is was that when she and Tommy were in Kindergarten, they had the same teacher. She was the better reader but Tommy was at a higher level. Can you guess why? She was so concerned that he was doing what he was supposed to that she fell behind. I separated them the following year. I hope Belle never stops being loving and affectionate. I hope that when life gets rough, she'll try and find the humor in it. I hope she never loses her drive and passion for the things she loves. I hope she gains confidence in her abilities and talents to trust herself to try new things and not be so afraid to fail (I think that is another thing I passed down to her...hmmm...still don't have anything published...might be a pattern). I love when she says, "Mom, you are my biggest fan" because I am. She is beautiful inside and out and I hope that she gives the world the chance to know it.

It goes without saying that I love them with all my heart. Having twins is definitely double trouble but it is also double blessings and I wouldn't have it any other way.

(And if I had my computer, I'd be able to put more recent pictures in.)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Orkin: Here to Save the Day or Not

So I called Orkin. I was afraid of a lot of things when I called. I was afraid he was going to come and say that we had the worst problem he had ever seen. I was afraid he was going to say he couldn't help us. There was a lot of anxiety before he came. He showed up and he looked like he was Nico's age. What is worse is that every time I said something, he would answer with, "Oh, my mom says the same thing." I would tell him what I was doing and he'd say, "That's the same thing my mom does." I felt ancient. I think I appreciated the old guy who told me about how his son was being carted off to jail for drug possession that fixed our washing machine more than the super young guy who kept referencing his mom.

Jimmy, the Orkin guy, set 10 glue traps (boxes where they get stuck in them and die) and said we have to empty out that room so he can check behind the insulation to see if that is where they are coming in the house. This made me really mad because I don't even want the baby clothes or Nico's old clothes for Tommy anymore. I just want the stuff out of there but Leo is a saver to a fault and thinks we are going to save a ton of money by keeping the clothes. The funny thing was he kept saying, "We'll have to go through the stuff" and I guess he didn't get the memo that I am never going down there again. Jimmy closed up two holes on the outside, told us to fill the holes in the bottom of our porch with sand or rocks (I think that is where they are coming in) and cut down all the weeds in our horror scene of a dog run. He checked and said the problem isn't that bad and that they are only in the basement (Thank God) and there is no sign of them in any of the usual places he sees them. He sprayed his magic stuff that keeps everything away and I was feeling pretty good.

Then, that night Nico and about six other boys were down in the basement. A mouse came out, looked at them, walked around the glue trap and walked back into the storage room. What the Hell??? Right after I told Nico and his friends not to touch anything, one of the boys stuck a Guitar Hero guitar in one of the traps and got it stuck. Another one got it out but got the glue on his hands. It's not good. It's hard to be at war with the mice when you have teenagers sabotaging you at every corner. One of Nico's friends who obviously doesn't know me very well kept yelling, "I saw a mouse!" when he didn't.

It was a huge step for me to even call someone to take care of the problem and I really had to talk Leo into being okay with spending the money on it. I keep thinking that this had better work and right now...I'm not so sure. If it doesn't get better when Leo has to go out of town for work, I might consider the unnecessary spending of staying in the neighborhood Howard Johnson's.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


In case you were walking by my house today at about 7:30am and heard the screaming, I swear, I wasn't beating my children. I was just combing Isabella's hair for her cheer competition that was today. Or maybe you missed those screams and heard the cries and the fit about her liner being too tight. All of that being said, Belle LOVES cheerleading. She amazes me with cheers she makes up and how serious she is about it. She was devastated when she hurt her wrist because she couldn't go to her tumbling class and was afraid of where she'd end up in the formation. I want to encourage her because she loves it but I have the hardest time doing so. See, Leo loved his years playing football so going to the games is fun for him. I don't have the same memories from when I was a cheerleader. I cheered in elementary school. In 5th grade I was a cheerleader but had to be the mascot and so I had to wear some Indian head dress thing. I had fun and some guy from Reskin came up and told me I was cute so it was fine. In 6th grade I was a regular cheerleader and then in 7th grade, I broke my arm so I couldn't go out for it and then 8th grade, I thought I'd try my hand at volleyball. I made that team and thought that was the path I wanted to go down. Freshman year I played volleyball but my heart really was wanting to cheer again. Even when I was little I wanted to cheer or take dance but with 5 kids and a mom that stayed home and only one car for the family, it wasn't a priority (rightfully so). If one of us took a class then how could my parents say no when one of the other kids wanted to?

I tried out freshmen year and thought I had a pretty good tryout. One of the varsity cheerleaders was the daughter of a friend of my dad's and she told him that "I had it in the bag." Well, I didn't make it. She told my dad that the volleyball coach had something to do with it but now that I think about it, maybe I just wasn't good enough. Maybe she said that because she felt bad. People say whatever they need to in order to get out of an uncomfortable situation so I don't know. It sure did make me hate the coach of volleyball and though I went on to play another year of volleyball, I worked my butt off to be a better cheerleader. I tried out again and made the JV squad.
I made some great friends from that year. Some that I am still very close to today. There were many, many good times and a lot of laughs. There was a rule that for the first half of the game (football or basketball) the JV cheerleaders had to sit right in front of the Varsity cheerleaders and cheer with them as support. Fine, I did it. I didn't like it and saw no point but I did it. The second half, I sat with my boyfriend and watched the rest of the Varsity game. I got in trouble every single time. I couldn't stand our cheer coaches and probably shouldn't have argued with them about the rule but why did they tell us we only had to cheer for the first half if they were going to be mad when we didn't do it the second half. I was told I should "spend less time with my boyfriend and more time cheering if I was serious about cheering." At the time I couldn't see what was so wrong about wanting to sit with my boyfriend. I hated being told what to do to begin with but I was a rule follower and I was following the rule so I didn't see the problem. Then I got in trouble for wearing red nail polish. I was told it wasn't appropriate. I thought that was ridiculous and didn't take it off. Again...not sure why I dug my heels in with that one but I did. Tryouts came around for the following year and one of the cheerleaders was sick and wasn't able to try out. We all stupidly thought that would mean that there would be an extra spot open but nope. She was automatically on the team because she already cheered a year on Varsity. She was a good friend of mine so I never said how much that bothered me but it was my first encounter of the unfairness of organized sports and activities. I didn't make it that year and when I asked the coaches why not, here is what they told me: Choosing to sit with my boyfriend during the games instead of the cheerleaders and continuing to wear red nail polish showed them that cheering was what I did and not who I was and they wanted cheerleaders who put their squads first and held up the standards in which they saw appropriate. I swear, that was an almost exact quote from one of the coaches who was also one of my teachers the year before. I never liked her. She once told me during an assignment where we were supposed to write about what we wanted to do in the future that I should choose a different career when I said I wanted to be a writer (it's always bugged me that I never published anything just to prove her wrong). Again, now that I think about it, maybe I just wasn't good enough. Maybe she said those other things because she didn't know how to say, "You weren't good enough." Though, with her, I find it hard to believe that she wouldn't be able to say that.

One of the pon pom girls came up to me and told me all I had to do was try out and I'd be on their squad so I went to one of their clinics to learn the routine. I was excited about doing it until I realized I wouldn't be able to go to my boyfriend's games since I'd have to be at the wrestling meets. I was out. I never went back. I didn't want to miss his games. That's one of my regrets in life. I missed out on what was sure to be a lot of fun and something I loved to do. I let a boy influence a decision that should have been mine alone to make. Last time that ever happened.

So when Isabella came to me and said she wanted to be a cheerleader, I didn't know how I felt about it. It really wasn't a path I wanted her to go down but I have always said and I hold true to it: I don't pick what my kids play or do. She was so adamant about it that I signed her up and watching her on that floor today, I'm glad I did because she just sparkles when she is out there. You can tell how much she loves it and it makes me happy that she has found something to do that she loves. I just hope and pray the the world of cheerleading is kind to her. It isn't always so I am hoping she escapes with her self-esteem and love for it still in tact.

Our team took first but didn't qualify for state. We have another shot in November to try and qualify and if we do, I'll be excited for Belle and her squad for all of their hard work but if we don't, I'll be ready to put the uniform away until next year. I'm tired and I don't know how she does it. Tommy had a 30 yard run that landed him on the 1 yard line. He broke three tackles to get there and the next play the QB scored (I wasn't there but that was the text that Leo got). We still lost the game. This was a day where they learned the lesson that even if you are good, sometimes it's just not good enough and isn't that an important lesson to learn in life?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sister Wives and a Mini Update

I am really behind on this one. I don't know what it is about this show that draws me in and makes me care but I do. I felt bad for Hunter and clearly he is spiraling into a depression. I hope they stay on top of that. He seems like a sweet kid that is just having the toughest time adjusting to all the changes. The other kids seem to roll with the changes and I am most impressed with the oldest son of Janelle and Kody. When so many teenagers resist their parents, he seems to trust his. He also seems to be a big hit with the girls so maybe that is helping. When Mariah cried after finding out that Robyn was expecting because she was sad for her mom who has wanted another baby, it made me tear up. I really want Meri's story to end like mine and have a surprise miracle. See, it is a show and I am moved to pray for someone in it to have a baby. What is that? It is so interesting to me that some of the wives are liking being away from the big family. Leo sometimes watches it with me and I know what he is thinking when he scoffs at it: Having one wife is hard enough, 4 would probably kill him. I am fascinated by this lifestyle and sure, it would be nice to have other wives/moms to share the responsibility around here and maybe they would find Leo's laid back way of opening mail and paying bills, his way of fixing things around the house or love of all things sports adorable while I am getting a little tired of it but...I can't imagine sharing him and I would never be okay with coming in less than first in my husband's heart and mind. You can see that they are going to show the women struggle with that and I think it is going to be interesting to see how they get past it or if they do.  I watched the episode where they were each furnishing a new room and wondered the whole time, how can he afford that many families and enough cars for everyone to fit in or his own little sports car? I only have one family and we never seem to have the money to overhaul an entire room. Believe me, I have been trying for the last two years and I am I'm sure the show is paying them but Janelle seems really concerned about money all the time. Christine having a hard time makes the show more real. It would make sense for that to happen and I think it is either brave or stupid to let that play out on TV. Brave because they could end up like Kate and Jon or stupid for the same reason. I did laugh a little at how Kody was having to run from house to house looking for pants and tools. I wonder he wants them all in the same house and Meri...she is pulling away from everything. She likes living far. She doesn't want to commit to a family business because she wants to do her own thing. It is so interesting.

The other thing I can't imagine is having all the human emotions and feelings, raising my kids and working at my marriage through the ups and downs that all marriages have all on camera for the world to see. I'm glad it is them and not me and I will be glued to the TV to see it all played out.

Mini Update on The House Where Things Go to Break

The washing machine is fixed (that is a blog post all by itself with the story of the repair guy). Leo has caught two mice, went one day with no mouse in the trap and then last night Nico saw another one which Leo caught this morning. I am completely skeeved out by it and am calling an exterminator (I win but this was one that I would have been happy to not be in at all). Anyone have a trustworthy one? The new microwave is being installed on Wednesday. The printer and my computer are next or so I am told. See, the blog is a little like magic. You put things in writing and all of a sudden, they get done.

Random thoughts for the day:

People do what they want to do. People will go to great lengths in order to believe what they want.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Welcome, Marco Anzaldi!

My sister, LeeAnna had her baby last night and I was so happy that I got to go and see her and the baby (my brother-in-law, too)! He is so cute. He looks like the littlest, old, Italian man (and if my computer was working, I'd be able to insert his adorable scrunchy face right here). I didn't do a birthday post at the time of LeeAnna's birthday so I am going to do a post about her now. In our family, she is #4. I was 5 when she was born and all I remember is that she was mine. She was my baby. It was when she was born that my love for babies and my desire to be a mom was born. She was the most gorgeous baby. She had these enormous dark brown eyes and was so sweet. She is now a beautiful woman that is still so sweet. She is the peacemaker and doesn't ever want to make anyone mad. We (my other sisters and myself) are especially protective over her because she doesn't always stand up for herself so if anyone ever hurts her feelings, we have a tendency to go for the jugular. She never puts herself first and is always the first to offer help. It is always a running joke with my other sisters that even if she was in labor, if we needed a babysitter, she'd try and work having the baby around the time we needed her.

The rest of us sisters are pretty much homebodies and I love to travel but I am not as brave as LeeAnna. She went to Europe by herself. I can't remember if my cousin (who is the MOST adventurous of all our family) went with her or was already living in Ireland. In any case, I would love to go to Europe (this time knowing I was going so I could be better prepared) but not without Leo. It would be a great growing experience to go alone but I'd rather experience it with him. LeeAnna never thought twice about it. She wanted to go to Europe, she went to Europe. She wanted to be a nurse, she became a nurse. She is so smart and though she isn't working right now, our family keeps her busy enough with all of our medical issues. She is always a good sport about us calling her for the 100th time asking her how much Advil we can give our kids.

My kids absolutely adore her and before she was ever "Mommy," she was "Auntie LeeLee." She was the one that babysat my kids so Leo and I could go away for weekends (God, how I miss that!). I never worried for one second when I was away. She is that good. She used to come to my house after working a 12 hour shift, eat and play with the kids and then crash and take a nap or go home and go to bed. I cherish those memories.

One of the best things about having Gia when I did is that Lee and I got to have babies at the same time. Frankie and Gia are only 3 months apart and along with Chrissy's son Vinnie are best buds. To see their little faces get so excited at seeing one another warms my heart. I recently went to a play group at LeeAnna's house and though there were other kids there, Frankie and Gia just played with each other. I love that I get to experience motherhood (again) alongside of her. I'm raising the older three with my sister Gina and my youngest with my younger sisters. What could be better than that? She is a wonderful mother and her boys are lucky to have her! Leo's mom has graciously agreed to babysit Gia so I can go to the hospital and spend some time with LeeAnna and the baby and maybe give Santo a little break or visit with him too.

It's corny but to know LeeAnna really is to love her. I don't know anyone that meets her that doesn't instantly fall in love with her.

So, Lee, when you read this, know that I love you and am happy to be on this part of the roller coaster with you!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Things I am Grateful For

Finally, I can write this one. On this day I am grateful for:

1. YouTube: This has saved me when Gia is crabby or when I am in a funk. I can find a video that makes her happy (animal sounds) or me happy (Tim Riggins, the Notebook or Lost set to my favorite songs).

2. Barnes and Noble time...just walking in and finding a spot to write relaxes me. Love the smell of new books.

3. Hot Chocolate made from someone that really knows how to make it.

4. Skinny mirror days.

5. The TV in my bedroom...a whole screen the whole time.

6. Warm weather with a cool breeze to watch football in.

7. Hard work that pays off.

8. CF appointments where they tell you that everything is fine or better than fine.

9. Torn down decks...oh wait...can't be grateful for that one yet.

10. A roof over my head even though it might sometimes leak or have appliances that don't work.

11. 22 years and he still makes me laugh.

12. Phone calls from teachers that say, "You've got a great kid" and are not followed by "...but"

13. The friends I have that are raising their kids along side of me raising mine.

14. The friends I have that aren't so that I can just be me without being me + my kids.

15. My family: sometimes we are so close that we know when we blow our noses but I wouldn't want it any other way.

16. The knowledge that though it might be wonderful right now or horrible right now, it won't always be this way so either embrace it or hang tight, because it won't last and change either for the good or bad is around the corner.

17. That I am an "older" mom that belly laughs every single day at Gia and her little personality and that I am lucky enough to be able to stay home with her (although once in awhile...luck would not be the word I'd use).

18. Nights of uninterrupted sleep with dreams that inspire new chapters written.

19. October apples....yum!

20. So grateful that Leo was home (in town) when Nico saw the mouse.

21. The time between taking Nico to basketball and when the rest of the house wakes up. Having a cup of tea (nowhere near the computer) in peace is nice way to ease into the chaos that hits when the twins wake up.

22. That I am about to be an aunt again...praying for you, Lee...that the delivery goes smoothly and that you are holding your little guy soon!

My blog hit 20,000 views! I missesd it because though I knew I was inching near that number, I was busy refereeing fights between the kids. I think that is pretty fitting. I am so grateful for the readers that take time out of their day to read about this rollercoaster of marriage and parenting and life in general. I love getting feedback that I am not alone in it or that I bring up a topic that bugs you but no one else is talking about it. It's not always rainbows and bunnies but it is always honest and if that means it is sometimes a week of rants, then so be it. So if you are reading this right now, THANK YOU!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I Love Mickey but Not in My House

I was all set to write a "Things I am Grateful For" post when this happened:

Just when I thought things couldn't really get worse in this house (while watching the Bears game on a half screen), Nico ran upstairs yelling that he saw a mouse in the basement. He was watching his game tape that had no sound so it was quiet when the mouse came out of the back storage room (there are two holes for the cable to run through), looked at Nico and then ran back in the storage room. If you know me (not sure how adequately I have expressed on here), you know that my biggest fear is rodents (especially mice and rats). I even talked one of my Ecology partners into doing the whole rat unit by himself because I was terrified to go near the rat. Why can't we just have a no see/no know policy with them? That's how it was in college. I am pretty sure living on the 3rd floor, we had mice but I never saw them so I didn't know they existed so I was good. Needless to say, I freaked out and thought that now there were three rooms in this house that I was not going to go into (family room with half a TV, mudroom with no washer and now basement with mice) and how someone, somewhere doesn't want me to exercise because the only working DVD player is in the basement. I sent Leo a not-so-nice text saying that I was going to stay somewhere else until everything in this ****hole was fixed and he came home and set a trap.

I do have some good news. Well some of the news is good for me and not so good for the mouse. He is no longer with us. He was obviously a hungry mouse and now he is a dead mouse. I want to get an exterminator but Leo feels he can take care of this himself. With him going away next week, if we catch one more (because where there is one, there is usually more), I am calling or I am going to wait until he leaves and call then. They are getting in from somewhere and even if we catch ten, if they can still get in, what is the point. I'm not in it for the hunt. I don't want them in at all! I HATE the idea of mice running around here and now wonder if that is what I heard on those nights I couldn't sleep.

More good news: I have my old, old computer back and all of my documents are still on there so my three finished books are safe! I still want my stuff off of my hard drive on my new computer because it would be devastating to lose all of the pictures and videos from the last year but all of my writings and pictures from the last seven years are saved! I am getting one of those back up thingies for this computer.

The bad news is that I got a new computer for a reason. My old one is terrible. It is slow and I can't browse the internet so I am still stuck with Leo's for most everything I want to do online.

The good news is that Christmas is only two months away and that is usually when all things broken get fixed...makes perfect gifts.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Am I Doing it Wrong?

Pardon the crabby tone. I had to do three loads of laundry today at my sister's and it's hard to stay upbeat when you are lugging dirty clothes and then wet clothes (I didn't have time for the last load to dry) back and forth between houses. I realized that a broken washer and homemade meals don't really go together so dinner was a scramble to put together. I hope Leo enjoys watching game tape and the Bears game tonight. I am seriously considering not washing his clothes until we get the washer fixed or get a new one to speed along the process.

We had a family party Saturday and I was crabby for most of it. I know...shocking. The thing is that it was a strange mix of people. People that should have been there weren't and people that shouldn't have been there were. That is only my opinion and it was what it was. That is what started the crabbiness but it was my kids that really pushed me into that frame of mine. Nico was asking about going to a haunted house that I couldn't wrap my brain around him going to (the Sunday before he was in the ER with a severe asthma attack and I was afraid it was going to happen again), Belle was asking for a sleepover that I didn't want to have to think about (I didn't want to think about how I was going to get her the next day) and Tommy was just wanting to open his gifts. Gia was fine (she was mostly with my mom) until my mom left and then was clingy. My kids have THE most annoying habit of asking, "Why do you hate me?" when I say no or get aggravated that they have asked me to do something 100x's after I've already said no. They also like to tell people, "My mom doesn't think I do anything right." I'm sure I thought the same thing with my parents but I see now that they were just wanting other people to see what they saw in me. That's all I want for my kids. I think it is better to tell Isabella to sit like a lady instead of yelling, "Close your legs! You're showing the whole world your underwear!" Wouldn't that be worse? When Tommy is acting strange, isn't it my job to say, "Don't ever do that in public"?

At the party there was talk of going to Sunny Acres (a pumpkin farm) or apple picking. I felt myself coming out of the bad mood at the thought of actually doing something as a family. Leo immediately made a face and said, "Um...I want to relax so I don't think so." Nico right away said, "I was going to hang out with my friends." Isabella got her way and was going to sleep over at my sister's because she played the "I'm not getting a party for my birthday" card so images of the pumpkin farm or apple picking were slowly fading. The next morning (Sunday), I woke up and went for a walk by myself. I want to start exercising so I thought that was the perfect time to go. I walked in my neighborhood, down the prairie path and into another neighborhood. I only went for a half hour but my legs were burning and my back was beginning to hurt. I am tired and I am old and out of shape and though it was a beautiful day with all the gorgeous colors of fall as my backdrop for my walk, all I could think about was how doing family stuff other than watching sports escapes me. I got home to an awake household and what do you know...Leo wanted to go for a run. He wanted to go for a "family walk" with him running for some of it. I didn't understand how that was a family walk but said okay. Even that was not easy. Nico was taking forever to get out of the house. Tommy was consumed with the remote control car he got from my mom and I put Gia in the stroller too early because Leo decided that before we went, he needed to put out a few Halloween decorations. I walked up and down the same stretch of sidewalk waiting for everyone to come outside or start walking and it never happened. I walked ahead with Gia. Leo and Nico caught up but Tommy was nowhere to be found. I walked back to find Tommy, leaving Nico to deal with Gia in the stroller. I found Tommy outside our house crying because his car wasn't working. I finally got him to follow me to the prairie path, found Nico and we all started walking. We walked ten steps on the prairie path when the boys started fighting and Gia started crying that she wanted to get out of the stroller. I had already walked for a half hour so I turned around and walked back not wanting to deal with it all. family walk.

Everything family-related has been so difficult. Don't get me wrong. It's not all bad but vacationing, church, going for a walk, having a movie night, playing board family makes all of these things so hard. Even the smallest things like making Christmas cookies ends up with the kids throwing dough at each other. Getting ready for family parties ends up with me yelling, "Just get in the car!" Am I doing it wrong? The only expectation I have is that they get along and it always falls short. I don't expect Stepford children or even some sort of Norman Rockwell painting. It would just be nice to BE as a family. I waited my whole life to have my own family and I'd love to spend time with them but I must be doing it wrong. When we are spending time together, it is usually with them asking me for things I don't want them to do or have (sleepovers and drums) or fighting with each other to the point where all their voices are nails on a chalkboard. Nico actually made Belle scream at a pitch that I swear only dogs hear. When I asked what was going on, Nico said he wasn't doing anything wrong because she only told him to stop touching her one knee and not the one he was touching. I know this time goes so fast so I WANT embrace it and enjoy it. I'd love to know if the people that are going on and on about great family experiences are just leaving out the crazy stuff. Is it just that no one is talking about how hard doing this stuff really is in order to give the illusion of a Norman Rockwell painting or am I really doing something wrong? I don't enjoy being wrong so if that is the case, this will be the last post on this topic. :)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The House Where Things Go to Break

I live in that house. I am going to email Leo this post so that maybe, if he sees it in writing, he'll make an effort to fix things or get them fixed. So far, this is what we have going on:

1. Our family room television. It still goes to half screen with one side all black. Our remote doesn't work again so watching TV there is a pain in the butt. I can't get Mickey's Clubhouse very easily so mornings have become even more chaotic with Gia not being occupied by her favorite show.

2. The DVD player in the family room. This might work but I have no idea how to work it so it falls under the category of "things we have in the house that we can't use."

3. Our printer for our computer. This makes me crazy because the schools are doing more with the kids typing things at home and printing them out at home. I hate being the parent that has to email the teacher to print it out at school.

4. My computer. Still dead. Still sad about it.

5. The microwave above the stove. A big old's annoying.

6. The toilet upstairs in the master bathroom. Something is going on with the flush.

7. The jets in the hot tub in the master bath. We didn't use the hot tub very often but when we do want to, it would be nice if it worked.

8. Our backyard. This isn't really broken but it is not in usable condition so it fits. The dog run area is perfect for the Halloween season because it looks like a horror scene.

9. Our screen door even though it isn't a screen but I call it that in the hopes that someday it will be. It won't close without pulling it shut and even then, it's tough to close.

10. The last thing worth mentioning broke yesterday. Our washing machine. This is a huge one in this house. With four kids, their clothes alone keep that machine running all day. Add to that all the uniforms and a husband that feels the need to wear several shirts a day, I cannot be without a washing machine. I am not Caroline Ingalls. I don't have the time or the talent to wash clothes by hand. I mean, I have no choice at the moment but it won't last. Pretty soon, I'm going to buy enough underwear to last until we get this one fixed (Leo's way) or we get a new one (my way).

I'd like to chuck it all and pack it up and move but that isn't likely to happen so....I'm destined to live in the house where things go to break.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Short Post: Another Crazy Saturday

I am going to try and write tonight. We have football and practices and birthday parties today so I need to get off this computer (that I am thankful I have but hate so much). I don't know how Leo ever worked on this thing. It keeps freezing me out of whatever I am working on. I miss my computer. I feel like I am mourning the loss of...I'd say a friend but that is a little pathetic but it was my only contact with some of my friends. I feel very "out of the loop" and miss talking to the friends I would chat with on Yahoo or Facebook. I have my notebooks to write in but it isn't the same. I was in the middle of making playlists on my iTunes with new songs I bought and hadn't yet put them on my iPod and that bums me out too.

Anyway, there are a few things weighing heavy on my heart that I want to talk about so I'll try and write later when I have more time.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Update on CF Appointment

Before I get to the update, I have to say that I am still without a computer so I have to use and old one. It keeps booting me off of Facebook when I try and play Words With Friends. I'll keep trying but it isn't much fun. This computer also won't let me comment on blogs so I am reading. I just can't comment. Very frustrating.

A wonderful thing happened yesterday. Leo worked hard all morning so he could go with me to the appointment. Words do not even begin to describe the relief I felt when I got that text. If you are reading, Leo...a hundred thank yous! To give you an idea of what driving to those appointments are like, imagine being afraid of heights and being at the top of a 30 story building or being afraid of sharks and spotting one in the ocean. There is a chance that you will be okay or you could fall off the building or get attacked by the shark. We could go to the appointment and everything could be fine or we could go and the disease finally caught up with the boys.

It was a good appointment for the most part. Nico gained 11lbs. since June. Tommy gained 1. Nico and Tommy both grew a few inches. I like everyone on the CF team but the nutritionist and I really have this wall between us. I don't really enjoy when she is in the room. I want her to say, "Good job! Keep it up!" and she might say that but all I hear are the "tips" of what more we could/should be doing. I never was one that could hide how I felt so I feel bad that I can't just put on a smile and nod my head until she leaves. I have a feeling I give off the feeling that I don't like her. Mostly because my family says, "You can tell you don't like her." I know she is just doing her job but she has a way of making me feel like I am not doing enough. Nico gained 11lbs so I want to say, "Back off." I don't but I want to.

With the boys both being sick or having issues lately, we were nervous that their pulmonary function tests were going to be bad. The therapist said, "Instead of excellent/excellent, they were just excellent." I love that. Normally, their PFTs are off the chart normal for everyone, not just kids with CF. When you have CF, once those start going down, you can't reverse it. The good news is that the doctor said the boys aren't really CF involved at all. Their lungs sound clear and the x-rays are showing that they are clear so they are more asthma involved. With the PFTs going down because of asthma, that is reversible. He said once we get that under control, they will be back up to excellent/excellent. Being that they have sinus issues (that IS related to having CF), it makes controlling the asthma a little harder. He wants us to aggressively treat the sinuses (my ENT is going to be able to buy a new car with all the business he is about to get) in order to control the asthma. He feels that Nico was getting a sinus infection and on top of the weather changing, that is what caused the attack on Sunday. He said that though they aren't CF involved, we should continue with the CF meds (it didn't even cross our mind not to) and then he added a few meds to the list but nothing too bad. The relief from hearing that Nico's breathing trouble on Sunday was not CF related was enormous. The fear that it meant that his health was starting to decline was erased. We left the office with a mask and nebulizer meds in case Nico gets in trouble again and with the great feeling that the doctor was happy at how well they have been doing.

I have asthma and Leo has asthma and both are controlled without much thought. Once it is controlled, people live a full and long life with asthma. There is no life expectancy number hanging over someone with asthma. Sinus involvement is a nuisance but it isn't going to be the reason someone with CF dies. Like asthma, it can be controlled. The scariest part and the part that causes patients with CF the most trouble is lung involvement and our boys are not lung involved. That is another answered prayer. God is good and praying works!

By the way, I could have made this a post about the chaos before the appointment, the mishaps while driving to the appointment, and how I wanted to wring the boys' necks during the appointment but I chose to go the more positive route. :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

State of Chaos

I don't have time to write much. I have to take the boys out of school today to go to the CF doctor. It's not that I don't love our doctor or the nurses there. I do but I hate these appointments. They are in Park Ridge and I hate driving there. They are long and the boys both have football to get to and my dad is watching the girls and that is long for anyone to have to babysit. I don't like these appointments when the boys are doing well. With them having stuff going on, I am dreading it even more. Constant state of fear. Fear of what they are going to say is going on. Fear that there will be more to do to get them healthy. Fear that I didn't do enough and that is why they got sick. Fear of the disease rearing its ugly head. Just a lot of anxiety. The boys are anxious because they are never sure whether they are going to have to give blood. I'm sure they are supposed to get a flu shot and I don't know if they should. They've always gotten a little sick after it and we have a lot going on this weekend ending with Nico having the biggest game of this season. Sometimes I just get tired of making all the decisions.

I wanted Leo to go with me (I really wanted him to just take them but I know that is asking too much) but he can't. I'm jealous that he gets to be at work. I know there are different pressures and stress at work but I wish I had to deal with those today instead of go to this appointment. This is one of the only times I wish I wasn't a stay at home mom and maybe that is crappy to admit and even if I was working, it would probably be worse to have to take the afternoon off to bring them but it wouldn't automatically be assumed that I would be the one to take them. It's just hard. I keep wanting the boys to take a more responsible role in doing their treatments and taking their meds and they just don't. With all the stuff going on in my head and all the stuff to do, not asking the simple question, "Did you take your meds?" results in them not taking them. It never fails that when I am out and don't come back until after the kids have gone to bed (you know...when I am at my big night at Mejier) and I ask Leo, "Did the kids take their meds?" he answers with, "Um...I'm not sure." That would be no because we are raising two boys that can remember all the lyrics to the very inappropriate song on the radio these days but can't seem to remember taking a pill.

The cleaning lady is coming this morning so I have to be out of the house (and rush around like a mad woman getting ready for her) so I will most likely be at a restaurant and a store, two places Gia doesn't like. Why does having a cleaning lady lead to more chaos? Shouldn't it lead to less?

At the end of this day, there better be a a big, old margarita waiting for me (and maybe I'll go crazy and have some chocolate and strawberries).

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Lovely Evening

There is a tradition that started a few years ago that I enjoy thoroughly. Actually, it started when I was pregnant with the twins so that is how far back it goes. Leo and I go to dinner or lunch with my uncle and we catch up on our lives. He is my godfather and the only son of my grandma's sister (I know technically it makes him my cousin but where we come from, he is my uncle). I love going because I love my uncle but I also love going because it is a tie to my dad and my grandparents and all the memories that go with that. I remember Christmases of the past where we would spend the night talking. At the time, I didn't fully appreciate the deep thinking questions he would ask or the "on a scale of 1-10...." questions that he was famous for. Now I love them and the discussion that comes with them. Another reason is that I find our in depth conversations informative. It's fun to discuss our family (Leo and mine) and see where Leo and I stand on certain things. Of course, for the most part, we know but it is nice to hear once in awhile. Last night I got to hear what Leo thought when he first saw me. I've asked Leo that question before and I get a "I'm not sure. I don't remember. I am sure it was that you were cute." When my uncle asked him, I finally heard what he really thought: that he knew I was the one. I love that and don't think I would have heard it if my uncle hadn't asked him. My uncle said something to me that has stuck with me and I will probably elaborate on it at some point. He said, "You think these times will go on forever and they don't." All I can say right now is that I hope that our dinners continue. Hopefully more often than every two years. It was a lovely way to spend an evening so U.R., if you are reading, thank you!