Friday, September 29, 2006

The Boys

A lot of people don't peg me as a dog lover, but that's probably because, as of yet, we don't own a dog. But I grew up having dogs. Lots of them, and they were a big part of my life. There were four in all during my childhood, the first, Hershey, entering the scene on Christmas of 1985. The other three followed quickly and the dog gang, which didn't lose its first member until 1997, was affectionatly referred to as "the boys."

My bother posted a sweet picture of the boys taken in the kitchen of my childhood home. I have lots of terrific memories of each one and hope that, someday, my kids will have fond memories of a childhood dog too (hint, hint, Joe!).

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Coffee, Six-Year-Old Style

Look who joined Joe and me for our morning coffee!

Madeleine ended up in bed with us for about half the night so when we woke for our routine morning coffee (usually sans kids) Madeleine got up with us.

She is well aware of the wonders of coffee and foamy milk and, being so informed, appreciates a warm mug of foamy milk.

Although it was well earlier than her usual rising time, Madeleine snuggled in on the sofa with Joe and me, drank her foamy milk and chattered on ceaselessly about school, friends and whatever else came into her head.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Chad Vadar

This is not the sort of thing I typically post, but this is just too funny not to share.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Our Morning, in Pictures

I'm up, Joe's gone, Elisabeth is in her crib cooing and playing, and here, oblivious to it all, are the kids that need to be awake for school.

First the bottom bunk occupant:

Now the top:

No, I don't want to get up!

Half awake, but at least out of bed:

Sitting up, she forces a smile...

And grudgingly climbs down from her cozy retreat:

"Hi-hi-hi-hi-hi-hi-hi-hi-hi-hi-hi!!!!!" they hear from their baby sister's room. They join her:

Brushing teeth is always thrilling:

Elisabeth occupies herself in her big siblings' room while Madeleine and Hank ready themselves:

Yum! Breakfast is always the favorite meal of the day for these two:

Bye, Madeleine!

Walking to our neighbor's house, who will walk her to school:

Bye, Hank!

We have to drive to Hank's school:

Argh! Construction! The road we normally drive on is a pile of dirt. Going all the way around the ripped up road on narrow, residential streets adds ten minutes to our trip:

Hank approaches the gate that leads to the front playground, where his class meets on Tuesdays:

First, though, we head inside for a potty break:

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Birthday Celebration

Saturday we celebrated Joe’s birthday with his parents, his aunt and my dad, stepmom and sister. Fun day!

We started the day with some simple appetizers.

A cheese plate with the following options: baked Brie, Gouda and Stilton with some basic whole wheat crackers and tart apples.

Joe’s birthday meal request was chili. I did oblige with my mom’s recipe, the only traditional chili recipe I’ve ever made and, as far as I know, the only chili recipe she ever made.

Mom’s Chili

1 lb. ground beef (Joe loves it with ground venison)
1 large onion, chopped
1 or 2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped (optional)
6 or 7 fresh tomatoes (or 2 large cans)
2 cans red beans
1 12 oz. can tomato paste
2 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
4 tbsp. vinegar
5 or 6 tbsp. cumin
5 or 6 tbsp. chili powder

I couldn’t stomach traditional chili once again since Joe’s requested it a lot lately. I satiated my cravings with this excellent white bean chili recipe. I did add a lot more cumin than the recipe suggested; about double, actually, and I also used fresh green chili peppers opposed to canned. It wasn’t quite as thick as I imagined it might be, but I think adding a bit less chicken broth might help. It had some kick to it and I really enjoyed it.

Diana, my stepmom, contributed some delicious cornbread that she made and some tasty whole grain bread from our newly opened Whole Foods.

I also threw together a tossed green salad with balsamic vinaigrette and some fresh cucumbers from Joe’s aunt’s garden.

Here’s what my dining room table looked like. Yes, that’s me in the first one and the birthday boy in the second.

Here’s the gang:

Joe’s cake request was an apple upside down cake, which is pictured here:

I made the apple topping part of the cake with a recipe featured in an old issue of Gourmet and used the Joy of Cooking’s basic upside down cake recipe for the cake part.

I topped it with whipped cream and crystallized ginger. Yum!

Joe received a lot of really nice presents and all around a really nice birthday week, which began on Thursday.

Friday, September 22, 2006

'Tis the Season?

Apparently some people are already Christmas shopping. Clearly Pottery Barn, Land's End and a whole host of other stores and catalog chains want to seduce me into the idea of buying presents three months in advance. Look at all the catalogs that have been found in my mailbox in just the past week.

Well I won't do it. The leaves are still green here, people! My winter coat is still in storage. It's September! Stop the madness!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Mark Your Calendars!

Tonight's the night!

Happy Birthday, Joe!

Today, the world's greatest husband (I mean mine, of course) is celebrating his birthday!

To celebrate he had to fast this morning for an insurance physical, get poked at prodded at said physical, stop and buy a treat for the work (an unwritten office rule) and go to work.

Tonight he gets to race home somewhat early from work and take Madeleine to her swimming lesson.

Never fear, though, my stepdad is bringing up pizza after that and he'll have a real celebration with cake and presents on Saturday.

Happy Birthday, sweetie! *smooch*

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Space Bag

When I first saw a commercial for the Space Bag I was amazed; the before and after pictures were dazzling and for someone who lives in a small house with minimal storage, like I do, truly mouth-watering.

I bought a set, which contained a variety of sizes. I watched the UPS deliveryman come and go daily until, at long last, my Space Bags appeared.

My first thought was disappointment. Only the extra large size was truly capable of actually containing anything of substance. The large size appeared only minimally capable of holding anything (certainly no big, bulky blankets or anything useful) and the medium size even more useless.

I set about filling my two extra large bags. I filled only to the fill line, carefully sealed the top of the bag tightly, per the instructions, and sucked the air out. Impressive! There, flat as a pancake, were two down comforters, a duvet cover and a thin blanket. With the Space Bag slightly redeemed in my eyes, I contentedly stored the package away in Elisabeth’s closet.

That impressiveness soon ended. The next day my flat package was… puffy! Air seeped in. Where, I know not. So, I carefully sealed it up again and vacuumed. Again, the air somehow trickled in.

I’ve repeated this process numerous times and although I have, on rare occasions, been lucky enough to actually have the Space Bag work as it’s supposed to, it’s been a rare occurrence.

The seal at the top is just plain cheap and it’s easy to see even with my untrained eye why the closure doesn’t seal well. I’ve seen Ziploc sandwich bags constructed with more care.

The point of my post is this:

1) Avoid the Space Bag. The idea is great, but the bags are cheap and don’t work well.

2) I’m seeking a product that performs the same task, but is well constructed. Is there such a product?


Today is going to be great, I can just feel it. After grudgingly getting out of bed we were all off to a slow start. Everyone was moving slowly; you name it, it happened. All of a sudden the epiphany hit: today Madeleine starts school at 9:15, not 8:15! Oh happy day!

Now, instead of tearing around the house trying to feed everybody and gather lunches, backpacks and everything else in a span of fifteen minutes we are now peacefully lazing over hot French toast with some especially delicious maple syrup and the kids are watching Tom and Jerry, a treat unheard of on school days.

And I get to blog while drinking my morning coffee which, incidentally, is actually still hot!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Save on Groceries

Not only do I like to save money at the grocery store, but I also love the challenge of seeing of how much I can purchase for the least amount of money.

I always appreciate new and interesting tips, and hopefully other people will too.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Lazy Sunday Afternoon

Today was supposed to be relaxing. Peaceful. Routine. Things were on track; church, Sunday School and home just before lunchtime. I was standing in the kitchen contemplating our lunch menu and basking in the promise of the nothingness the day ahead held when the tranquility of the day was disrupted.

“Hank has to go to the doctor!” Joe proclaimed as he rushed into the kitchen.

“What?!” was my incredulous reply. Ten minutes earlier a perfectly healthy three- year- old boy had bounded into the house.

Well, I hadn’t counted on my angelic little Hanker-buddy sticking a bead up his nose. Yep, he took one of his sister’s beads from her necklace making kit, stuck it in his right nostril and sucked. Hard.

No amount of blowing, massaging or pleading could coax the tiny, silver bead from its cozy spot near the nasion of the nose.

Off to Urgent Care Hank and I went. We were almost immediately escorted into an exam room and a doctor greeted us promptly. She set right to work, using various tools of the trade. Initially we were laughing; joking about kids and what they put up their noses. But the bead wouldn’t budge.

Our joking lessoned. The doctor got more serious. Hank was sitting on my lap, his previously semi-permanent ear-to-ear grin becoming somewhat less ear-to-ear.

A few tears were shed as a long, plastic stick with a small loop on the end was stuck up and used to dig around in Hank’s nose.

But that darned bead just wouldn’t budge. I started to shake. Hank wasn’t smiling anymore. We’d been in that room poking and prodding for ten, twenty minutes now. The plastic stick was replaced with a metal tool, similarly shaped. Then a vacuum. The bead wouldn’t budge.

The doctor started to mumble about alternatives and my nervousness increased. What are the alternatives I queried. There was mumbling and nervousness as a response. I knew the alternatives, whatever they were, were very, very bad and probably involved a hospital and surgery. All for a stupid, teensy-tiny bead.

I started to feel sick, firstly because my baby boy who being as good as gold was in pain. A lot. When the doctor was digging around in his nose his crying was pitiful and mournful. So I was feeling pretty sorry for my poor Hanker-buddy yet, shamefully, irritated too since it was his fault we were there in the first place. But I also started to feel sick envisioning medical bills reaching stratospheric amounts all because Hank thought it would be what, fun? interesting? to stick a little, silver bead up his nose.

After a long while the doctor, armed with her metal loopy-stick thing, was finally able to make some progress. Hank, cradled on my lap with my arms quieting his flailing body, began to cry; a cry that shook his entire frame. Then, it happened, his doctor proclaimed, “It’s moving!” so I held on tighter as his sobs continued to convulse his poor little three-year-old body and the doctor’s face grew more and more determined and then, at long last, the offending bead was held in the doctor’s fingers. A loud cheer erupted in the exam room: the doctor, her nurse and me. I don’t know whose was louder or who was most excited. Hank was smiling again, hugging me and cheering along with the rest of us.

We are home now and the patient has all but forgotten the excitement of the day. Joe and I chuckle now; our banter jovial as we consider the trials our children put us through. My hand still isn’t quite steady but I know that this too will be forgotten in time and my children will, once again, lull me into a false hope that a quiet, lazy afternoon is possible.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Bath Time!

What could possibly be cuter than one sweet eleven-month old baby splashing in the bathtub?

Her big brother joining her, of course!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

King Vincent Libretti

This guy is so full of himself it just doesn't seem right to merely refer to him by his given name. You Project Runway fans know what I'm talking about, right? He's so bad that this interview is really very funny.

Among the designers who are left on the show, which one do you think is worthy of winning?

Myself. I love the truth, and I'll say this: If you look at the show and you know anything about design, you can see clearly who the designer was. They are amateurs. This show is full of amateur designers. I think one was way, way above and alone on the show. But I don't do the ego thing. It's not my style. But I love the truth.

Riiiiiight... truth. Not ego. Gottcha.

Oh, and I love this:

What was your favorite part of the Paris trip?

The boat was fun. There was a cute girl with red shoes and a tattoo. I have a lovely wife, but I was getting a little bit nosy with her. Catherine was a little bit too old for me. The other one wasn't. We wanted to meet later for a drink — Jeffrey and I and she and her girlfriend. We invited them to our room just to have a nice bottle of champagne, but unfortunately they canceled on us.

Hey, married guys, listen up. If you ever, ever consider inviting an attractive model type up to your hotel room for champagne...well, I'm guessing you may as well ask if that hotel has a bulk rate because you won't be staying at home with your wife anytime soon.

Yep, this guy is all class. Can't wait to start scouring boutiques nationwide for his crappy designs.

Trip Downtown

I don't make it downtown a lot. There's no reason for me to go; schools, shopping and most activities are in the suburbs. But last night Joe forgot to bring home copies of a letter I absolutely need to distribute to parents after school today, so after dropping Hank off at preschool, downtown to Joe's office Elisabeth and I went.

It's always an intriguing drive. This yard always makes me gawk:

I can't decide if I love it or hate it. Weird and tacky yes, but also strangely interesting.

We make it downtown and miraculously find street parking, which will save me the $5 to $10 it would cost to park in Joe's firm's garage. This irritates me. Jeez, we only pay $135 a month to park in that garage already, of course it should be impossible to me to park there for free for my once in a blue moon trips downtown.

Uh-oh, the spot is two blocks away and is pretty clearly marked fifteen minutes only.

I throw my last $.25 in the meter and rush. Carrying Elisabeth and my second travel mug full of coffee, I race down Water Street, dash into Joe's building and curse the elevator for the slow trip up thirty-three stories. I chat with the receptionist as she giggles with Elisabeth and hands me the stack of letters Joe thankfully remembered to leave with her.

Back down the elevator, through the revolving door and up Water Street. I pass City Hall and notice how they're displaying their American Flag.

I wonder if it's been there since the construction began eighteen million years ago (the scaffolding has been on there forever) or if it's put there in honor of 9/11.

No time to think about that, I've got to get back to my van before the parking nazi's discover my meter is expired (I haven't been timing myself, but no way I've been gone less than fifteen minutes).

There it is. An expired meter, but no ticket. With a sigh of relief I buckle Elisabeth in her carseat and head north, back to the safety of parking lots and residential neighborhoods.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Jessica Simpson, Part II

It seems entirely possible I was being way too generous in suggesting that Jessica Simpson and John Mayer's relationship might make it 'til New Years 2007.

Seems they're already cooling off.

Anyone surprised?

A Favorite Illustrator

I have always appreciated a finely illustrated children's book. Even a story geared towards a child has the ability to transport you to a far off place with magical creatures and fantastic tales if the illustrations are excellent.

One of my favorite children's illustrators is Ruth Sanderson, who also writes or re-tells the stories.

I recently purchased The Snow Princess for Elisabeth as a gift for her birthday next month and it's completely gorgeous and fabulous.

I have yet to see it in person yet, but from what I've seen on-line, I'm in love with her edition of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. As a child, I loved the lesser-known fairy tale and Sanderson's illustrations seem positively enchanting. Unfortunately it's out of print so I suppose I need to scour eBay for a hardcover copy. Here's an example from the book:

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Equality of Adulthood

In the eyes of a child an adult can just as easily be twenty-five as sixty-five. If you're six the two ages may as well be the same.

This afternoon, in my basement, the following conversation took place between Madeleine and her friend B___:

Madeleine (while waiting for her She-Ra video to start): This is a really great movie.

B___: She-Ra is really pretty.

Madeleine: Yes, she is. And she's also really, really old. My mom used to watch this what she was a kid! (Her eyes are bugging out as she says this, as if she herself can't quite believe it).

B___: Whoa, that IS old!


Remembering September 11

Everyone has his or her own 9/11 story. Each story is unique and each is important because the day impacted us all in so many different ways. But each story, including my own, isn't necessarily interesting. Thankfully my 9/11 experiences took place very far away from any action and any views I had of the day's shocking horror took place with the aide of my television.

But I do want to remember the day. It was an important and historic day and one I'd feel remiss in not acknowledging.

God bless us all.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The First Signs of Fall

The crisp, sixty-three degree air, kids in their sweatshirts and chrysanthemums blooming on my front porch. Fall is on its way!

Lun Lun Gives Birth

Awwwwww, how cute!

After seven years of trying and hoping, Zoo Atlanta officials announced a rare giant panda birth Wednesday, one of only a few in the United States.

Lun Lun, a 9-year-old giant panda, gave birth just before 5 p.m. after 35 hours of labor.

The cub is hairless, weighs about 4 ounces and is the size of stick of butter. The sex will not be known for weeks.

Friday, September 08, 2006

This Week's Wrap Up

It's over. The week I anticipated with excitement and dread all summer has come and gone. It's been busy, it's been exciting and, most of all, it's been exhausting.

Madeleine is less than thrilled with first grade. "Mom," she says to me the other day, "all we do at school is sit at our desks and learn, learn, learn, learn. It's boring."

Hank loves his preschool. He attends a preschool associated with a nature center so the curriculum is centered around being outside and being active. After his first day he explained to me why he hadn't wanted to go. He said he thought he'd have to sit and be quiet and, gosh forbid, listen to someone else talk. He's happy to know he was wrong and can't wait to go back.

I learned that Hank is much more forthcoming about the details of his day than his older sister. All Madeleine will tell me is who got in trouble at school; Hank tells me everything.

I found out I am M's room parent at school. I had my orientation with Ms. K this week and I feel like I was handed a full-time job chasing up volunteers, making copies, creating bulletin boards; you name it, the room parent does it. I'm leery, but I'm excited to have the opportunity to get involved so completely in M's classroom.

Poor Elisabeth really is the forgotten third child sometimes. This week has been all about Madeleine and Hank and I was snapping pictures left and right of the older kids but, somehow, Elisabeth hardly made it into any of them.

I'm still a single mom. Joe goes to trial next week though so I'm hopeful by this time next week I'll actually be able to remember what my husband looks like. Don't feel bad for me though, save the sympathy for poor Joe who has to be beyond exhausted with the hours he's been putting in and, frankly, bored to tears since the subject matter of this case is, in my opinion, BOOORRR-ing.

There's more, but nothing exciting and I meant to keep this short and already it's long. So, good night.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Put Your Eggs on Ice

Something about it just seems way too complex; motherhood shouldn't have to be this complicated.

Women in their 30s who delay motherhood should freeze their eggs before they
leave it too late to have children, a fertility expert has warned.

Dr Gillian Lockwood said the "Bridget Jones" generation of single women should consider putting their eggs "on ice" for future use.

Otherwise they may reach an age when they find that their best childbearing years have already passed them by.

First Day of Preschool

Today Hank started preschool. I truly thought it would be no big deal. I remember Madeleine starting preschool. She was fine, I was fine; it was no big deal. I should have realized she was my oldest. I seem to expect her to grow up. Hank leaving this morning was harder. Much harder.

6:12 a.m. I’m asleep. Joe nudges me. “Why don’t you get up and take a shower first,” he suggests. I grunt and roll back over.

"You get up and go first,” I fire back. I fall back to sleep.

6:36 a.m. I wake up and look at the clock. I realize I’m already a few minutes behind schedule and kick myself for not getting up just after six.

6:50 a.m. We’re all crammed in the bathroom, Madeleine, Hank and me in our pajamas, Joe in his suit, all ready for work. I tell the kids for the third time to get dressed.

Hank is dawdling. He knows it’s his first day of preschool and he’s acting like he’s going to stay in his pajamas all day.

Madeleine is acting snotty. Very snotty. “It’s your first day of school!” I say to Hank, in a big, excited voice. Madeleine gives me a withering look and says to Hank, “Preschool Hank, not real school.”

7:00 a.m. I tell the kids to get dressed. Again. I think I’ve said it forty times now. I’m starting to get very annoyed.

7:30 a.m. We’re downstairs. Hank is still acting out of sorts, but at least he has his clothes on. Madeleine is still acting snotty. She says school is boring and that it’s not exciting at all that Hank is starting school. Hank has had enough. He shoves her. Not hard, but hard enough that Madeleine runs up to her room crying. I feel like yelling, “Serenity now!” at the top of my lungs like George Castanza in Seinfeld.

7:35 a.m. We’re just sitting down for breakfast. Madeleine is getting picked up shortly. She’s jabbering and eating slowly. I tell her to focus. Hank is nervous, but that doesn’t stop him from eating an entire bowl and asking (and eating) another half a bowl.

7:45 a.m. The kids are outside. Madeleine walks down to our neighbor’s house to pick up her friend O____. Hank throws on his backpack and runs over O____’s house, where his friend A____ lives also and yells, “A____, it’s my first day of school today!!!” He is ignored, as the smaller kids in our neighborhood always are. Hank tries to tell O___ and her brother M____. They’re busy talking to Madeleine. When Madeleine deigns to acknowledge her brother it’s to explain to O___ and M___ that it’s just preschool that Hank is starting.

7:57 a.m. Hank, Elisabeth and I are back in the house. Madeleine is supposed to be down the block, walking to school with the gang of neighbor kids escorted today by B___’s mom. Lucky woman. Madeleine bursts through the door. She exclaims that her Daily Folder wasn’t in her backpack and she needs it. She does need it, but it’s already in there. She runs down the block. She’s now made the entire block have to rush or be late for school. I try and put it out of my mind. For today, it’s B___’s mom’s responsibility, not mine.

8:15 a.m. Hank is crying. He wants to play with A___ (the only other kid close to his age who isn’t in school). He doesn’t want to go to school. He’s obviously scared and nervous.

I decide that I need to bribe him to get pictures. I want the pictures so I offer candy. I feel no guilt. Two seconds later photogenic Hank is back and I snap some cute pictures. He is much more cooperative than Madeleine two days prior.

8:30 a.m. We’re en route. Hank is yelling that he hates school and doesn’t want to go. I try explaining how fun school will be in my most chipper, brave voice. He becomes more incensed.

I decide to throw a curve ball. I start singing the song from He-Man. Hank is flustered. He’s busy throwing a tantrum and doesn’t know how to respond. Thankfully he takes the bait and we spend the rest of the trip talking about He-Man and She-Ra. Not my favorite topic, but it beats the crying and yelling.

8:40 a.m. We’re parked. Hank doesn’t want to get out. He’s moving veeerrryyy sllllooooowwwlllly. I can see the door fifteen yards ahead of us.

8:41 a.m. We’re walking.

8:42 a.m. Still walking.

8:43 a.m. Walking. I’m trying not to feel antsy that a thirty-second walk has already taken three minutes.

8:44 a.m. Stalled. Hank wants to play on the playset.

8:45 a.m. In the building. Finally. Hank is clinging to me but smiling. His picture is taped up next to his hook and he’s curious about his picture on top of a table by the entrance to his classroom. He finds his laminated picture atop the table and anxiously searches the numerous pockets hanging on the classroom door for the one bearing his name. He finds it and carefully slips his picture in the pocket with his name written in bold, black letters.

When entering the classroom I observe two or three other kids glued to their parents’ sides scattered about the room. I see one of his teachers sitting on the floor next to a shelf of toys. Hank spies some Brio trains on the shelves. He tells Miss M that he has those trains at home. She takes them out and Hank “shows” her how to build a train track.

He’s smiling and more interested in the trains than he is in Elisabeth or me. I am expecting tears and clinging but all I get is a warm hug, kiss and a smile before Hank turns back around to play trains.

8:55 a.m. I lean back in the driver’s seat in the parking lot and shed a few tears. It was harder leaving Hank than I thought it would be.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

First Day of First Grade

Last night I set Madeleine's alarm clock for 7 a.m. and laid out her school clothes thinking that would leave me with plenty of time to get myself dressed and ready before the kids got up. Well, you know what they say about the best-laid plans...

6:40 a.m. I'm still in my pajamas but I'm up and moving. Slowly. I hear Madeleine in her bedroom declare in a sing-song voice aloft from her top bunk, "Good morning, Hank! Today is the first day of school. Not for you, but for me! Isn't that exciting?!" Hank grumbles. No sing-song excitement out of that boy, not this morning.

7:30 a.m. We're all dressed and ready. The kids have their cereal in front of them. Madeleine eats half a bowl in the time it takes Hank to eat a whole bowl and ask for more. He finishes hers.

7:45 a.m. We're outside. It's chilly and gloomy. Madeleine protests my plan of taking pictures outside saying it's not beautiful because the sun isn't out. I explain that if we take them outside we'll be able to remember that it was overcast on her first day of first grade. She's not impressed with the logic, but consents.

The pictures are, for the most part, awful. Madeleine doesn’t want to pay attention or hold still. The neighborhood is swarming with kids and Madeleine would rather be with them than with me. Her attention is waning and the pictures suffer.

8:06 a.m. We’re at school. Madeleine lines up in the back of the school now, just off the playground, where the Big Kids line up. I’m able to catch up with moms I haven’t seen since last June. It feels like forever, but of course it hasn’t been. I’m both impressed and dismayed at the number of moms crying. I’m surprised that I’ve been able to hold my tears in.

Madeleine proclaims she’s not nervous. But her hand wringing and posture suggest otherwise.

8:15 a.m. The bell rings. The six first grade teachers make their appearances. Ms. K greets each of her students individually. Madeleine is fourth in line, maybe fifth. I confirm with Ms. K the pick-up location and time. Madeleine is glancing around for kids she knows. To a stranger she looks calm. I can tell she’s confident, but a bit apprehensive as well.

She likes Ms. K’s dress. Clothes are important to Madeleine so this is a good sign.

8:20 a.m. Off they go! Madeleine trudges up the stairs, dwarfed by her too-large, pink, Land’s End backpack.

2:32 p.m. I sit here and write my blog wondering what Madeleine has been doing since I left her. Did she get enough to eat? Does she like Ms. K? Is she happy? Nervous? What did she play at recess? Did she have gym? Art?

This is Madeleine’s first year at school going all day long. I predict the adjustment will be harder for me than for her.

Monday, September 04, 2006

First Grade

Tomorrow it starts. The chaos, the structure, the normalcy. I'm excited, sort of; Madeleine has been doing her best to push my buttons this week, but I'm also sad. Madeleine is starting first grade tomorrow! Now instead of only having her gone for a few hours a morning she will be gone all day long. She'll be with someone else more of her waking hours than with me.

I don't know if I'm ready for it. But, her Hello Kitty alarm clock is set, her new Gymboree dress has been chosen and laid out and her lunch is packed in her new pink (of course) lunchbox, so ready or not, first grade, here Madeleine comes!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Explorer Versus Mozilla

I have been, until this point, composing all my entries on my Mozilla browser. Joe arrived home tonight and asked me why I had weird html text all over my blog.

I told him there was no such thing. I pulled up Mozilla and pointed to my error-free blog.

He shrugged. "I dunno, it looked pretty messed up while I was at work."

I began to grow suspicious. I clicked on my rarely used Internet Explorer icon and I began to feel an impending sense of dread. I entered my blog's URL and there, sure enough, was weird html text infecting many of my posts. Some were fine, some weren't, and there seemed to be no rhyme or reason connecting the affected versus the non-affected.

I still don't get it so, if anyone does, I'd love some input. I hate Explorer and already am finding it really annoying inputting my blog with it versus the ease of composing, adding pictures and posting my blog with my Mozilla browser.

Anyway, it should all be fixed now (fingers and toes crossed) and I really hope whatever glitch exists within Mozilla creating weird errors when composed within its browser yet viewed with Explorer get fixed soon.


I love coffee. Not in a coffee press, slow-roasted, organic coffee bean sort of way, although I appreciate all of those things. No, I love coffee in such a way that is more about the caffeine content than the flavor. Don’t get me wrong; I won’t tolerate bad coffee. Instant coffee is useless (unless using it for baking) and most cheap brands earn a nose crinkle from me on a taste test.

I was raised using a coffee press. My mom maintained the coffee was better. I think she was right, but I’m not that much of a coffee connoisseur. I don’t use one; it’s too much work for me. I use a cheap-o, regular automatic, drip coffee maker. Why? I can set a timer. I wake up in the morning to that sweet, pungent smell of freshly brewed coffee and in those wee hours of the dawn that smell, coupled with the quiet of the house before it awakens, is sheer heaven on earth.

All coffee lovers need this, a milk frother.

Adding about a third to a half of a cup of foamy milk, after it’s been heated in the microwave, is as close to Starbucks as you’ll get at home. The milk ends up quite stiff and frothy and it mixes with the coffee so perfectly that the first sip is always a reminder of how perfect, or close to perfect, an excellent cup of coffee can taste.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Awwww; Tom and Brooke Make Nice

It's so bizarre to me that, for whatever reason, certain celebrities feature very predominantly on different peoples’ radars. I don't know why, I don't see the logic behind it and, frankly, I'm sort of embarrassed by the celebrities that interest me. But, nonetheless, certain celebrities and their strange antics fascinate me. Ever since Tom Cruise lost it last year (was it only last year!?) on Oprah's sofa he's been catching my attention all over the place.

Well, I'm sure you all will be thrilled to know that Cruise and Brooke Shields are no longer feuding. They've kissed and made up. Phew.