Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The City

There are certain things I love about living out in central Connecticut. I love the cost of living, the scenery (it's alot like upstate NY which I looove), there is never any traffic unless there is construction or an accident. I feel like for the most part, you know what you are going to get up here. When I drove home from the city, I feel like once I pass the first sign on the Merritt for Greenwich I can sigh with relief and relax into the next hour and a half home. The schools are great, the homes are old and charming and you should see the trees in October.

That said, there are things that I miss about living in the "city". ((air quotes)) I grew up on Staten Island and loved it as a kid. I loved the train and the ferry, being from New York City. We lived in a big house with a yard and a pool. We had beaches and parks and ponds. It was a great place to grow up. Real neighborhoods, tree lined streets, and baseball fields. And there was something very special about being a part of something bigger. A self satisfaction and quiet smugness  that came with being from the best place in the world. We had the Yankees, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Empire State Building. Our class trips were to the Statue of Liberty and the Twin Towers. My 7th grade field trip was to Philadelphia and the Franklin Institute. I can remember thinking, "this is it?"

As I got into high school and college I started to realize that maybe it wasn't for me anymore. The stereotypical guidos, now made famous by shows like Jersey Shore, Jerseylicious, etc. were there, and in your face. I was a Gap sweater-wearing Catholic school girl with my eye on the Martha Stewart lifestyle. To me, all of Connecticut was Westport. Also the locals and the landscape was changing. Native Staten Islanders were moving to Jersey and the Brooklyn and Queens people were heading westward to the Island. Developers were knocking down centuries' old Victorians and putting up Soprano's style duplexes and mini mansions. Pale brick and stucco was the new topography. I met people in college who were from upstate and Westchester and Rockland county. I had always lumped all of "upstate" together and thought they were a bunch of hillbillies. Unsophisticated and rural. I learned the term "downstate" and wore it with pride.

After college I met my husband and moved to Texas, Virginia, Massachusetts, and finally Connecticut. It gave me so much perspective on the country, other people and myself. I had a hard time accepting that I was never going to live in NY again, but still consider myself a New Yorker. This Thanksgiving we went down to my parents' home that I grew up in on Staten Island. The next day we drove into Manhattan to visit my inlaws. I am still awed and amazed that with all the changes New York has gone through over the centuries, so much stayed the same. I love the idea of letting my kids keep a foot in both worlds. To learn to love the city and to gain a sense of culture and history that I feel is a little bit whitewashed out of their everyday.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Suburban Detox

I'm a sucker for marketing. I was at Ocean State Job Lot today and bought the Kinoki Cleansing Detox Foot Cloths. You know, the ones from the commercials, where it pulls all the toxins and heavy metals from your body, and is drawn out into those disgusting foot pads. Regularly $19.99. I got mine for $2.99. I'm giddily excited for my detox to begin. It's totally going to work. I can just tell.

Friday, November 26, 2010


I got a little job. I haven't worked for anyone but my kids for 9 years, and I finally got what appears to be the perfect job for me. I will be logging Legislative Bills into a database for a political consultant. I'm finally putting that masters degree to work by doing data entry. From home. For 1-2 hours a day. And the pay is good. Way more than I would make doing anything else without completely disrupting our day to day. It starts in January, I guess when Congress is in session. I'm a little nervous to give up the freedom I have gotten used to. This is the first year that I have all 3 kids in full day elementary school. I don't mind giving up those few hours. But I've already had to ask for a week in April and just realized today that my husband will need me to drive him to and from his Lasik surgery on January 6th. Ugh. I'm afraid to ask for that day off. It doesn't seem like a big deal, but the work is time sensitive and needs to be done by noon each day. Keeping my fingers crossed that the job doesn't start until the 8th.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Well Rested

I got a great night's sleep last night. A legit nine or so hours. No one woke up, no coughing, no accidents, no little kid noises that wake me up out of a sound sleep. I honestly feel like a different person when I have a full night's sleep. I would have thought that by the time my youngest was in kindergarten I'd be back to normal. Now it's 930. Chris is sneezing, Meg is coughing the kind of cough which will undoubtedly have me lying in my bed listening to her, while she sleeps right through it. I still have to do the nightly bathroom runs before I can turn in. And I haven't put sheets on my bed yet. Shit.


i drove past the old house today. we've been here for a little over 2 years now and almost every day i drive past our previous home. it was SUCH a hard move. my beautiful brick colonial, set back from the road with the long sweeping lawn on the BUSIEST street in my town. that's the house i brought 2 of my babies home to, and put in a ton of sweat equity to make it look and feel exactly the way i wanted. we renovated the kitchen and put in beadboard cabinets and granite countertops. my dad installed everything and helped us out with so many projects.

the closing of that house went very poorly, with the new owner trying to fleece us for every penney we put in escrow, having her lawyer find archaic state laws to screw us over. for example, did you know that in connecticut, if you remove the nails from your walls you are required to repaint the room? i thought i was doing her a favor by not leaving nails all over the walls. she wanted $3K to repaint the entire house. it took me a while to not get sad about the memories of my home and to try not to feel vindictive toward the woman who bought it. and it usually doesn't bother me anymore. she doesn't do a great job with the upkeep, and all of my hydrangeas (one for each mother's day that i lived there) looked overgrown and sloppy this summer. sometimes i make a snarky comment to a friend about the crap that she leaves on the porch and her tacky holiday decorations or feel superior about what a better job i did when it was MY house.

it's definitely harder for me to walk past it, as i did with meghan when we did our red wagon food drive last week, or if i see the woman or her son outside, which is almost never. today her son was hauling leaves in a wheelbarrow down to the curb for leaf vacuuming. i felt a little bitter. i don't know why.

Here's our current home. I love it.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Baby Girl

Oh, my Meghan Rose with your tantrums and your Polly Pockets and sparkly eye makeup.... you are a dichotomy of all things little girl. Your crazy hair, which I flatiron (I know... She's only 5 and we only do it on special occasions) and your scratchy baby voice and your hot pink faux fur coat. You pack a wallop when your brother gets in your business and you are the most sensitive little monkey if someone says something marginally hurtful. You get it. You always have. I think that's part of being the youngest of three.

When you were 2, you were pointing at the cd player, getting so frustrated at me asking over and over for "sanna tanna". I popped in about seven different holiday cds thinking you wanted Santa music. You balled up your fists and stomped you feet and finally made it clear to me that you wanted Hannah Montana, not Santa Santa.  Another time when you were about 3, we were at the library where there is a stuffed, life size Big Bird in the children's section. You asked me "Momma, who is that big bird?" "Ummmm. That's Big Bird." Nope, you had no idea, you missed the Sesame Street years, but you were still a baby.

Typical.. you are blowing out your sister's birthday candles.

My Boy

So up til now, I've really only talked about Erin. She's my oldest and alot like me in personality and unfortunately probably the one who will be carrying most of my baggage as an adult. I haven't said much about Christopher. He's 7 and smart and funny and handsome. He started reading when he was 4. He barely had any words until he was 2, but one of the first complete thoughts I remember him having (out loud, aloud, whatever) was when he was 26 months old. It was December and it was supposed to snow. We were looking out our picture window and I commented on how it may not snow after all, since I didn't see any flakes. He replied "aaaand there's no condensation." What?????? We had been watching Magic School Bus alot on tv in those days, but that was more than even I could have gathered from Ms. Frizzle and the gang.

I like to describe him as "fact based." He's a good boy, mostly well behaved at other people's homes. He's been picked to be a "peer mentor" in kindergarten and first grade friendship groups at school. I guess that's a good thing. He's not perfect, loves to toss out a few age appropriate expletives (idiot, pathetic, stupid) which I don't love. He thinks bad breath and stinky armpits are cool. He only wears sweatpants, which posed a problem until I was able to find a pair of elastic waist, lined khakis at the Gap, so at least he won't look like George Costanza on Thanksgiving Day. He loves Legos and Star Wars, and especially when those two worlds collide in Lego Star Wars. He's a great little brother and a marginal big brother. I'm hoping he comes around on that, but he's had more practice with the former than the latter. He takes things personally and carries a wicked grudge. He's funny and has a quick sense of humor. He laughs at his own jokes and sisters call him out on it. I like him as a person. Obviously everyone loves their kids, but I value the fact that I also like him, and think he's turning into a pretty neat kid.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Today I am going to invent a new paint color. I have half a can of Revere Platinum and a few Restoration Hardware samples in the Silver Sage family. Throw in some white primer and voila. I think I will use it to paint my pantry and maybe my back hall. Pictures to follow.

Friday, November 19, 2010

These are a few of my favorite things:

Oprah has her list; here's mine.

  1. Taking my kids to Disney and to Scituate and the Cape.
  2. Fried eggs with sour dough toast. And bacon. Definitely bacon.
  3. Shopping at Whole Foods instead of dealing with regular supermarkets even though it's more expensive and the bread sucks.
  4. Hydrangeas, Black Eyed Susans and Peonies.
  5. Doing Coast Guard Academy stuff with my husband Tom and the kids.
  6. Going back to Staten Island and Oneonta and visiting with the people that shaped my personality. 
  7. Boston and New York. It's a tie. Fortunately now I live right in the middle.
  8. My Uggs.
  9. Charcoal Grey Sweaters and Little Black Shirts.
  10. Sparkly eyeshadow and black liquid eyeliner when wearing LBS.. see above.
  11. Red Shoes.
  12. Gnocchi a la Gorgonzola from Trader Joe's.
  13. Fresh mozzerella with tomatos and pesto.
  14. Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel.
  15. White sheets and all white bedding.
  16. Modern Family, Cougar Town, Parenthood and MTV Challenges.

Grown Up

I spent the morning at Toys R Us getting a gift for my friend's little girl who has been in the hospital with Kawasaki disease. Not to be confused with Coxsackie, or hand, foot, mouth that all of our kids have had. It's a little understood disease that attacks the blood and can ultimately attack the heart. She has been in and out of the hospital for a couple of weeks having blood transfusions and developing other health problems like some kind of auto immune disease that she is also battling. I got her a "surf girl" jewelry making kit and some fun shaped markers and sketch pad, because that's the only way I can help. I don't know how they do it, the parents, that is. We had sinus infections and strep this week and it was more than I can handle.

Last weekend I went into Manhattan for a benefit for the little boy of a guy I knew in college who recently was diagnosed with brain cancer. I don't know if he's even 3 yet. He's had aggressive chemo and surgeries that don't seem to be helping. So I paid my $75 and had a few drinks at the open bar and chatted with some old friends that I haven't seen since college. It was all very light and a lovely evening with one of my best friends.

This shouldn't be happening to my friends' kids. I shouldn't have two good friends with brain tumors. It makes me mad and sad. I don't know if I like this over 35 demographic that I'm in. I remember being a kid and my parents were probably my age. It seemed like they were always going to a wake and/or funeral. I actually had the audacity to ask my mom, rolling my clueless eyes, "don't you have anything more fun to do than go to wakes?" As if that was their nightlife of choice. But their parents were getting old, and their friends parents were getting old and the "grown ups" in their lives were dying.

I don't remember any sick kids really, when I was little. I don't know if we were sheltered from it or if we were just lucky. Because as much as it sucks being a grown up and going to your friends' parents' funerals, watching your friends deal with sick kids is unbearable. So for now I guess I'll buy toys, drop off casseroles and sit down at the open bar and raise a glass to these brave parents who are shouldering their children's pain.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


i feel like a poseur. i remember in college when i was taking my comp 100 and comp 200 classes that i could never read anyone else's material, because it immediately tainted my thought process, and i feared that i would somehow, accidentally copy it. i've started blogging recently and am trying to find my voice. people think i'm funny. i get feedback from people i haven't seen in 15 or 20 years that tell me my facebook posts crack them up. but that's a matter of sentence fragments and thoughts that pop into my head. before i started my blog i thought, i could have a pretty decent, fairly entertaining blog, if i just had a running log of my facebook posts. also, i'm nice to people, and i care what they think. so i have this other blog persona if you will that has her own voice. when i read my friend erin's blog, which is a sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking, but always brutally honest voice, i feel like, ok, that's the voice i have running in my head. and then i start to write my stories and they feel forced and trite. that's the word i've always felt about my writing. it's C- material. i don't want to be trite. oh and then good lordy do i find these gorgeous decorating blogs where these people seem to have taken so many  pictures of what i want my home to look like. and instead of just cutting out magazine pictures, and talking about buying paint, or thinking about taking a tiling class at home depot, they do it and the results are amazing. all doable things. the last thing that has been jacking me up with this blog is that i don't use much in the way of capitalization or punctuation. i know how to. i was an english major and i also have a masters degree. but it slows me down. and to be honest i think i speak in lower case too. a modern day ee cummings. so suck it grammar, i'm not letting you slow me down anymore.

Beach House

There are some projects that I need to do around the house. I am totally motivated by a new blog I started reading called Houzz Eye Candy or something cute like that and she's got this Just Beachy themed way of decorating. I love a beach house. We were within inches of buying a beach house at the end of the summer in our beloved Scituate, MA. We had looked at a house 15 years ago on a marsh, with distant,  but unobstructed water views, but it was just out of our budget. It was the first home we looked at and it was perfect. Open floor plan, 3 bedroom,  2 bath ranch with a deck on the back. But it sold and we always kind of considered it "our house", the one that got away.

We ended up buying a much cheaper (I can't even say more affordable because we had to put so much cash into it to make it livible) little cottage that became our first real home. It was .4 miles from the beach, .2 miles from the harbor and a half mile from the downtown. We put in a new Home Depot kitchen, painted the walls a sunny yellow and tiled the kitchen floor ourselves. The best thing about that kitchen was that there was a washer and dryer at the end of the counter. We took out a partial wall in the tiny living/dining area and made more of a great room, if 11x16 can be considered great. We painted it a soothing green "Blarney Bridge" and painted all the trim white. You walk in the front door, BAM! you are in the living room. We had to keep Tom's chest of drawers in the living room as an accent piece because the tiny stairs were too narrow to carry it up. Upstairs was our bedroom. I almost called the master, but had to stop myself. Our queen bed and a tall dresser that I purchased and stained from the unfinished furniture store were all that fit. I constantly had a bruise on my outer thigh from walking into the sleigh bed on my way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. My dresser was stored in my in-laws garage. You had to pass through our bedroom to use the only full bath in the house, which had a funny little window that sat halfway in the shower. And completing the floor plan was a smallish guest room with a closet that was built in the wall measuring about 3x3 feet square.  The entire place measured 800 square feet. Eventually my husband built a deck outside, giving us a little more space when the weather was nice. But it was all ours. I loved our house and our pretty little beach town. I loved to walk into town on the weekends and walk in the little boutiques and shops, and then we would eat out on the patio at TK O'Malley's, always getting the steak tips sandwich or the buffalo chicken watching the sailboats and fishing boats go by.

But I was always looking elsewhere. I was forever a "grass is always greener" person. My family is in New York, Tom's was in Connecticut. What about Westchester? How about Fairfield? Maybe we should move back to DC? I was never content to just enjoy what I had. I would get angry at Tom for not giving into my constant barrage of requests to move elsewhere. He loved it there. He is an extremely positive person, who makes the best of wherever he is. But he truly loved it in Scituate. And still I pushed. Eventually a job opportunity came up for us in central Connecticut. We were interested, slightly reluctant to leave, but also excited for a new opportunity. So after only 3 and a half years in our little home, we were moving, to start over closer to family, but still not close enough for a casual visit. We love it here now, and this is most likely going to be our forever home, although it's not the first house we bought when we moved here. It's what our realtor called an old lady special. It needed tons of work that we've been doing a little at a time. If we bought that house, we'd be house-poor in every way possible. Stretched too thin to enjoy either one. Or buy groceries for that matter. It's time for me to settle in and make this my Beach House in the middle of Connecticut, 80 miles from the closest beach.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dancing Shoes

I got to thinking the other night about how we as parents often put our mental junk on our kids and how it is like fighting an uphill battle not to. My daughter started Irish dance in September. She's nine, and was in the beginner group; four to seven year olds are generally in this group. But she's petite, so at least she didn't stick out like a sore thumb, and for once she was the oldest in her class. At school, she's always the youngest and smallest. She really excelled compared to the little girls and after only 6 weeks, the teacher pulled me aside and said that she wanted to move her up to the next group. Hooray! She was thrilled and I was so proud.

Then we all got strep, so, since last Wednesday I've had sick kids home. Literally could not leave the house except to take the kids to and from school. On Monday, the day of her first new class, she tested positive for strep. She was beside herself that she would miss the first class, but in spite of my better judgment, I allowed her to go to the class. (she didn't feel sick and had gone to school that day) Unfortunately I never got the chance to go to the dance shoe store and get her the real Irish shoes, Ghillies. She had her black ballet shoes and was feeling a bit nervous, but she sucked it up and went in. I could see how embarrassed she was that she didn't have the right shoes. My heart was breaking for her, because even as an adult wearing the wrong thing feels, well, wrong. I almost discouraged her from going because I knew the shoe thing would be an issue, but I didn't want to squash her enthusiasm and pride for starting in the next group. To make things worse, all of the girls in her class were also starting to wear "hard shoes" for the first time in this class. A little heads up from the teacher would have been great. Now, not only was she the only one wearing ballet shoes, but she was the only one not wearing noisy hard shoes. My stomach was in knots for her, and when I went in to watch the last 5 minutes of the class, my pale streppy girl had 2 big red splotches of embarrassment on her cheeks. The steps were new, the shoes were wrong and she was sick. The trifecta of a bad first experience.

I was wracking my brain, trying to come up with the lesson here. We walked out, with her on the outside of me so the cursed ballet slippers would be less visible to the other dancers, and when we got outside, she leaned into me sobbing. All I could tell her was that she was very brave and would never have to go through that first class again. Next time we would have the right shoes, the right warm up clothes, she would be healthy and she would have a week to practice with her tape to get caught up. In a way we were almost better off  because even if she had the right shoes, and was feeling better, her focus would have been on being the worst (her words) one in the class. In a way we were lucky to have the shoes to blame it on.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I make poor shopping decisions. I can want something so bad for like, 2 years, and never buy it. Just keep talking about it. But weird fabric? I'll take it. I barely sew. Uncomfortable shoes? Several pairs. I have had a problem for years at the Gap buying unflattering clothing off the sale rack.  And rest assured, after months of researching on Ebay, I will undoubtedly pay too much for the wrong size Pottery Barn Kids curtains. I'm also a brand whore, and it's taken me until this year to NOT buy something just because it's from J. Crew.

I have been wanting a good pair of rainboots for a couple of years now. I finally buckled a few years ago and bought myself a kids raincoat for $7. It gets the job done, and you can spot me from a mile away in a sea of oversized golf umbrellas at school pickup. And now onto rainboots. I bought myself a pair of uncomfortable adorable navy blue rainboots for $15. Well, they hurt. And my feet freeze in them. But they are navy blue and have these great little blue whales on them. I pictured myself wearing them at my summer house. Did I mention I don't have a summer house? And that they squeeze my feet? So I have been shopping good boots. Not Hunters, can't spend that kind of money on something that will surely make my feet sweat and paralyze my calves. But a nice, lined cozy pair, Maybe mid calf height. So I've been internet researching, going to Nordstrom, trying to figure it all out.

This morning I woke up, to the pitter patter of freezing rain hitting my window. Oh shit. I never did get those boots. I guess I'll just wear my winter boots to drop off the kids at school. Voila. My feet were dry and cozy. And I was ok with it, because it's November. So here's my issue.. I basically need a pair of October rain boots. But I guess I'll deal with that next year.