Monday, June 30, 2008

Our Anniversary

Rob and I were married 7 years ago today. Crazy. Seven years ago today I walked down the aisle. In this time, I have welcomed two daughters, lost a father, lived in three different houses and in two different states. Fortunately, I have done all of this with a great husband and a best friend by my side. Happy anniversary to me!


I realized the other day that I have been exercising for 20 years. I began going to aerobics classes in high school. I was a very dedicated gym rat for years. Before the girls were born, I would go almost everyday. For nearly five years now, I have struggled to get back in the routine. I will be good for awhile and then... I kept saying I didn't have time, and then I heard this great quote- "A lack of time is a lack of priority." Interesting thought...

I decided that I would truly prioritize exercise this summer and see if I could get it to stick. I know that it is only July but I think it is working. I have discovered the most wonderful place- they teach a class called Body Blend- yoga, pilates, Lotte Berk and the Barre method combined. I am hooked. I swear they must pipe addictive chemicals through the vents because I can't stay away from the place. I feel stronger and I swear the shape of my body has changed- in a month.

And then the running. I used to run- again, pre-kids. I have tried over the years to get back to it. Frankly, if you run 'sometimes', it is not fun. Every run is as painful as the last. I just couldn't get over the 20 minute mark. And then we went to Nantucket with our marathon running friend. Rob and I went running with him one morning on what he called a "short run". Needless to say, within three minutes I knew I had to stay with the guys- I had no idea where I was and we finally returned home after 35 minutes. The amazing part was that I did fine. I felt fine. I could walk and breathe. And I was hooked again. If I could do that, then I could find a way to get running back into my life. I have run a bunch since we returned and am feeling like it is actually getting easier.

I will cross my fingers that my love of exercise is finally back... For now, I'm off to change into running clothes...

Sunday, June 29, 2008


We're back from our wonderful vacation. We met friends from Richmond at their family home in Nantucket and we just couldn't have had a better time. We were 9 people in pretty tight quarters- four grown ups and five children- all under the age of 6. And you know when it just works? The kids all played well together. Friendships between the bigger kids were strenghened and friendships between the little guys were formed. The grown ups all pitched in and carried their weight. We folded each others laundry, bathed each others kids, washed each others dishes. We went to the beach and the bay. We dug mountains and tunnels out of sand. We jumped in big waves and splashed in calm waters. We went crabbing, we fed snapping turtles, we collected shells. We ate lots of yummy food- some home cooked, some not. We watched beautiful sunrises and sunsets. We watched fire works from our couch. We went on long runs. We walked through town and window shopped. We talked and we laughed. It was what summer is all about...

Monday, June 23, 2008



We are off for our first vacation of the summer... Will be back to blogging next weekend... hopefully...There is high speed internet access where we are going but I am going to do the best my internet addicted self can do, to not use it!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Good Instincts


Rob calls the other mothers and writers that I have met through on-line classes and blogging, my imaginary friends. I think he finds the whole thing a tad bit strange. I try not to remind him about all of his fantasy sports leagues and the imaginary games he plays every week with his imaginary squads but anyway... One of my imaginary friends, Caroline Grant, is now the editor of a new anthology called Mama PhD - a real, live book! What is doubly exciting about is that I have actually met this friend in the real world. As our small world would have it, while Caroline lives in California, her sister lives in Richmond. We met while she was visiting last spring. And my Caroline was also able to meet Caroline's little boys...

All of this is the long back story to the interesting story (I swear!) of last week. Caroline's (Grant not mine!)book arrived in the mail late last week. As it was a package from the UPS man, the girls were very excited to see what was inside. I tore open the package and showed the girls the books I had ordered. Mama PhD and another fantastic anthology that I will have more to say about in future posts- The Maternal is Political. Caroline's first reaction was "Oh, Mommy books." but her face lit up as I reminded her of our meeting with this book's author.

She was so excited to begin reading. I tried to explain that it was a book about the challenges of being a mom while working in academia but my explanation fell on deaf ears. She knew the author of this book and she was going to read it.

She leafed through one page after another as I bathed Katherine. She placed it on her pillow while she showered. And I read half of the introduction aloud as she lay in her bed. When her interest clearly waned, I began to close the book. "Bookmark it Mommy! So that we can read more tomorrow... " And I swear, she pulled it back out the next night.

When I sent Caroline an e-mail describing my Caroline's excitement over knowing the author of a "real" book, Caroline's response was "She has good instincts."

I often think of the ways that Caroline and I are alike. In these thoughts, though, I tend to focus on the negative. In this example, though, I had not thought of our similarity because it was so obvious. I did not find it noteworthy that my 4 year old was awed by knowing an author. To me, authors are like celebrities. I would sooner meet Anne Lamott than Brad Pitt.

Now that I am thinking though, I am so lucky to have a little girl who loves books. I am so lucky to have a little girl that is so impressed by someone's ability to write a book that she will read a book even if she can't relate to it. I am so lucky to have a little reader.


Yesterday we visited Rob's sister's family. They have recently moved into a beautiful new home. Not only is the house pretty but it is 10 minutes from the beach...

After spending some time investigating the new house, we went to the beach. Knowing Caroline's relationship with sand (not a positive one!), I was anxious to see how Katherine would react this year. She seemed to enjoy it last summer but she was so young that I wasn't sure...

She dug. She buried. She poured. She even threw. She covered her hands, her feet, her head. And she smiled and smiled and smiled.

As we left, she looked up at me and said in a hopeful tone, "We go to another beach, Mommy?"

I guess I have my answer.

Friday, June 20, 2008


So we are five days into summer vacation and we have added an extra week of camp to our schedule. Both money (or lack their of...)and a sense of 'adventure', convinced me to schedule only 4 weeks of our summer. We will be vacationing for two of those weeks- one in June and one in August- so I decided I could handle the rest.

The general sense of anxiety that has been running rampant in this house since school ended on Friday has been crazy. Caroline and I (the tree from which the apple does not fall far from...) and I really love our schedule. We are both really off without it. I truly admire those people who are able to relax, go slow, stay in their pajamas for hours. I have admitted to myself though that we are not of that stock.

When we return from our first summer trip, Caroline will be going to the most wonderful sounding camp ever- instead of spending that week waiting for her time at camp to begin the following week. Someday we will find the balance between scheduling and not. This just might not be the summer for that discovery.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Another great book...

With school out for the summer, I really have stocked up on library books. The library really is a fascinating place- tons of books for free- as many as you want... We love it! But enough of my dorkiness on display...

We found another great book whose message I really needed today. With our schedule changing, Caroline is off, off, off. We have been having major meltdowns over seemingly, silly things... As she was crying, screaming and generally carrying on, I tried, tried, tried to remember the message of the book we had finished reading moments before.

Woolbur by Leslie Helakoski. This is a story of a sheep who marches to his own drummer, who doesn't follow his flock. His behaviors are very frustrating to his parents- must be given that they are sheep and all... In the end, though, they realize that he is a good guy, a leader even among the herd.

This morning I find myself hoping that my own little Woolbur will find her way. And I find myself hoping that I will let her.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Writing Motherhood

Today is a big day for me in the blogosphere. Two important parts of my world are colliding- Writing Motherhood and New Jersey Moms Blog.

Today, the New Jersey Moms Blog will be hosting a Blog Book Bonanza with Lisa Garrigue's book, Writing Motherhood, at it's center. I began taking the Writing Motherhood class last September and as cliche as this will sound, it was life changing. Lisa, the class and the book Writing Motherhood, invited me to write down all the feelings, the good, the bad and the ugly, that I had been carrying since I became a mom.

With the paperback release of Lisa's book, 50 bloggers from Silicon Valley Moms Blog, the big umbrella under which New Jersey Moms Blog falls, were invited to read her book and respond to a writing invitation from Lisa. The one I chose is...

Rules! Rules! Rules! The first thing Lisa tells her students is to throw away the rules of writing because rules bind our imagination, constrain our creativity, and muffle our voices. Our children, however, live much of their lives according to rules-rules that are imposed in the classroom, in the cafeteria, on the playing field. Think about the way rules function in your household. Which rules are non-negotiable? How have the rules changed as your children have grown older?

Your writing invitation: Write about a time your child broke the rules.

Caroline has a sensory processing disorder. This has meant many things in our lives. It has meant terror and screams during hair brushing and tooth brushing because of tactile sensitivities, broken bones and stitches because of motor planning issues, multiple bathing suit changes at the beach because of scratching and itching and “yuck!”

It has also meant a decrease in proprioceptive abilities and poor vestibular modulation. In English this means that Caroline’s body wants to be in motion all the time, her body rarely understands where it is in space and she is impulsive. In Mother this means an impulsivity that makes following the rules nearly impossible. Over the years we have learned that our “No” has to be limited to true safety concerns. Even with this as our guiding principle, I probably say “no” hundreds of times a day- no joke.

I think about the time we had gathered our dinner club together for a family BBQ. A friend was watching the little ones in the front yard. One of our rules is “Never run into the street.” Pretty simple, right? That day something got to Caroline. We never found out what. But in the middle of a game, she darted right into the street.

I couldn’t shake that feeling of shame, embarrassment and guilt. I couldn’t stop thinking all the thoughts that were running through all the other mother’s heads. I wanted desperately to sit them all down, tell them my tale of woe, tell them that Caroline’s little brain, neurologically, is programmed differently than their little bundle’s. I do all the things the other mothers do. It just doesn’t always work.

Instead of doing this, though, I try instead to switch my own thinking. When I see behaviors in other children that seem off, that seem ‘correctable’, I try to imagine the stories that exist in these families. Their mother’s tale of woe. Rules are rules but they are not always black and white. There is almost always a story filled with grey.

Monday, June 16, 2008


Talk Icon

I always felt like Caroline started talking the second she was born. Not entirely true of course but she was awfully verbal, awfully early. Katherine, on the other hand, was much slower to get going. Perhaps that's why it's so fascinating hearing her talk these days.

Just yesterday, Rob asked the age old question, "Do you think she's always had these thoughts and can just get them out now?" Who knows but she sure is cute. As is her personality, most of her comments are funny, light hearted and to the point. Even when upset, she seems to state the fact and provide a solution. Here's a smattering of some recent and funny comments- especially funny when you remember that she is just two...

While climbing onto my lap with a book: I love this book, Mommy!

After hearing a loud clap of unexpected thunder, looking up at Rob who was sitting on the couch: Uh, oh. I don't like that noise. Sit on couch.

Leaving the pool: I like this day, Mommy.

It really is wonderful when they leave that world of constantly labeling- truck, book, red and can actually give you their opinion, their thoughts, their actual emotions.

Remind me of this when the "NO!" phase starts...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Time, time, time...

In my on going struggle with time, I have written another post with time as it's theme over at New Jersey Moms Blog. Check it out here.

Tim Russert

Tim Russert

When David Bloom died over five years ago I was inconsolable. I was also pregnant so I attributed my sadness to hormones. Yesterday and today I can't stop thinking about Tim Russert's death. I think, I cry, I watch MSNBC whenever little eyes are otherwise distracted. And I am not pregnant. Somehow I connect to these news guys and I feel like I have lost a friend. I am wondering along with many others how we will sort out this election year without Tim Russert's guidance and trusty white board.

This morning I chose four things to take from his death. Many people on air have been talking about what a wonderful teacher Tim was. I think he wants us all to learn from his life so here are my lessons- big and small.

1. Find time for more cardiovascular exercise. I have always exercised a lot but over the past couple of years, if I am honest with myself, I am not exercising nearly enough. I have allowed fitness to take a back burner to all the other stuff. I have not prioritized or forced it into my tight schedule. I love to exercise and it is good for me. There is no reason not to do it and every reason to do it.

2. Stop being so stressed all the time. Last night, Tom Brokaw said that he and Tim had a bet going over who could loose the most weight. Tom said that he was comfortable talking to Tim about his weight issue but they had never talked about stress. Tom talked about how Tim burned the candle at both ends, working tons while always fitting in his family. Tom admitted that looking back on it, there was ample stress in Tim's life. I find small things to be stressed about all the time- the mess in the living room, the hundreth why question before 8am, what to serve for dinner. I need to let it go. I need to find a way to allow some calm into my body.

3. Love what I do. Excel at it. As I listened and listened and listened, Tim was described over and over again as being the best at his game. The absolute best. People said that he loved what he did and man, did it show. He loved it so much that he put in the time, put in the hours of homework to excel at it. I need to do this. I need to love what I am doing now. I need to find a way to be the best at whatever else I choose to do.

4. Cliche but... Love the ones your with. I think this is what makes Tim's passing so tragic. The shock of it, the suddeness of it, the 'he's there one moment and not the next' of it. We can all go like this. At any minute. Life really is short. It really is sweet. I need to hug all those I love. And I need to do it now.

Friday, June 13, 2008



Books seem to be my theme this week but I am so darn excited. As a reading specialist and more importantly, a life long book lover, I just couldn't be happier. Both of my girls just love to read- to themselves, to each other, with me and Rob.

I knew that Caroline would love to read- I read to her in uetero. As the second child, I wasn't sure where Katherine was going to fall on the spectrum. She heard books when she was little bitty but they were more the books that she overheard me reading to Caroline. Somehow, books just weren't the focus of her young, young months the way they were of Caroline's.

Now though, I know it is going to be ok. Just this week, Katherine climbed onto my lap, book in hand and said, "Mommy, I love this book." Yesterday, we couldn't stop reading that slightly off color but funny and appropriate title, "No David!" and this morning, she insisted that Caroline read "I Don't Like Gloria" to her while she ate her breakfast. I heard Caroline plead, "Can I just finish my breakfast first?" To which Katherine replied, "No, read!"
All is right with the world...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Fun New Blog

When we moved from Richmond last summer, I knew we would miss our friends, our house, Caroline's school. For the most part, we love living in Ridgewood. It is such a great town, filled with friendly people, fun things to do and family. We do find though that there are some surprising things we miss.

Our grocery store, Ukrops, being one of them. There seems to be no way to go to one grocery store here. I feel like I am living in France- one store is good for produce, one good for organic foods, another for the basics.

Another thing that seems so strange to be missing are my children's clothing stores. You would think being 15 miles from NYC, I would have taken a step up in the fashion world. It appears though, that Richmond really had something special in children's clothing- lots of small, privately owned stores- run by women I came to know who sold cute clothes that allowed my girls to look like girls, not miniature teenagers.

I was so glad last week when I received an e-mail from my friend Tracy who works at CWD- one of the stores I so miss. She was letting us know that CWD has started to write a fun new blog. You can find it here. Seems like a no brainer today- post a comment and be entered to win a $300 gift certificate. Maybe I can win a taste of Richmond fashion all the way up here in the Garden State!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I Love Children's Books

I have always been a fan of children's books. I loved them as a child, I loved them when I was a grown up but not yet a mom and boy, do I love them now. When you pick the right ones they can really work magic.

It's only 7:45am and I have two wonderful examples already today...

Caroline and I had another rough start of it. She was up at 5:15am. She tried her hardest to get back to sleep, to play on her own but she was done trying at 5:45am. I tried my hardest to be nice but I was pretty cranky by 6:05am. Things were rocky until Caroline pulled out the library bag.

She went right for Max's Bunny Business- another in the Max and Ruby series by Rosemary Wells. As she pulled the book out, she said, "I like Max because he gets into trouble." Hum, relating to the character- good, good. Then she said, "I like him better than Curious George because George's trouble is such big trouble." Caroline really hates the part in the original Curious George when he is put into jail. I am so glad that she has found a character who gets into mild trouble that she likes and relates to- I am equally glad that she can't see herself in a convicted felon!

Then we read a new book for us- The Three Questions by Jon Muth. Talk about a book coming around at just the right time.... In this story a boy asks three questions to various characters throughout the tale: When is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do? Awfully good questions and answers I was anxious to hear on this cranky morning. I hope I can carry this message with me today. The message the boy took away from his adventures was this:

"Remember then that there is only one important time, and that time is now. The most important one is always the one you are with. And the most important thing is to do good for the one who is standing at your side. For these, my dear boy, are the answers to what is most important in this world."

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Today I played dress up with Caroline. We both wore opera length gloves, fairy wings and flowy skirts. We even made tiaras out of paper, crayons and strings. This is what I always hoped to do with my little girl- imaginary play, not directed by a commercial Disney show. Just regular old play. Now, just so you don't all get jealous- here's the catch. It was 6:27am.

My visions of play never included a 6 on the clock. Sixes are for sleeping- for dreaming of fairies perhaps but not for actually pretending to be one.

Those of you have been reading for awhile, know that we have been fighting the early rising for as long as Caroline has been alive. We truly have tried everything. For awhile recently, I finally went back to the dreaded tv. I really don't want her to be a big tv watcher. I think it revs her up a bit and she has such a fantastic imagination- I just want her to use it as often as she can. But at 6am, I just don't make a fun mom so I tried again. Over the last few weeks, I allowed Caroline to watch tv in my bed. As has happened before, she woke earlier and earlier each day- I imagine in anticipation of what fun the morning program would be. So we are back to drawing board again.

And the drawing board requires playing the role of fairy princess at 6:27am... I guess these are those dreaded trade offs that everyone talks about. TV or not. Peace and quiet or not. Pretend play or not. Someday perhaps, I will have my cake and eat it too. Perhaps someday, there will be pretend play that begins at 8am...

Monday, June 9, 2008


I seem to be obsessed with time or really the lack there of. My recent post at New Jersey Moms Blog addresses this topic again. Check it out if you have the time :)

Sunday, June 8, 2008


"I love you Liney."

As the girls shared their traditional Sunday pancakes this morning, Katherine kept saying, "I love you Liney." She said it over and over again. Caroline, almost always the good big sister, kept saying, "I love you too Katherine." Of course, Katherine equally often would say, "Liney, eat more pancakes." but the love was still in the air.

As an only child, I often wished for a sister (Mom, don't get upset!). Someone to share with, to play with and even at times to argue with. This week, I heard the most incredible sister story and wished again. An acquaintance of mine has recently moved. She told a group us about the family who bought their house. Their neighbor has a sister. The sister bought their house. Two sisters, who have always wanted to raise their families side by side, are going to do it. They are doing major yard renovations to connect their backyards. They will share back yards- their children walking seamlessly from one to the other. One would assume that their back doors would always be open, that their children would share desserts, share band aids and share childhoods.

This is what I wish for my girls. That thirty years from now, Katherine will still be saying, "I love you Liney." and they will pass the pancakes across their back yard fences.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

I have stumbled upon such a fun new site- Booking Through Thursday. There is a question about reading posted every Thursday just waiting to be answered... And yes, I know it is Friday!

This weeks question reads...

Have your book-tastes changed over the years? More fiction? Less? Books that are darker and more serious? Lighter and more frivolous? Challenging? Easy? How-to books over novels? Mysteries over Romance?

I have been reader for as long as I can remember. It has defined me always. When Caroline was born, nearly five years ago, I brought the most recently released Harry Potter with me to the hospital. I guess that shows how much I knew about reading and how little I knew about labor and delivery but anyway, I digress. I remember resting that huge book on my still puffy belly a few days later when I returned home. I still read every night before sleeping even when I was barely sleeping.

What I have found is that while I still read my beloved fiction, easy stories that are devoured more than read, I now read other things too. I read a lot more non-fiction- parenting books but also those about nutrition, religion, politics. My need to understand the world so that I can explain it to my girls has driven me to the library- the place I always go for help. I also read all the mommy lit that I can get my hands on... Not only the fun and frivolous fiction about life as a mom but also the meaningful accounts of what real mommy-hood, the down and dirty of it, is like. These books have made me laugh, cry and feel connected.

Off to read my latest mom lit selection right now!


A few weeks ago I began a nutrition program. This was really brand new for me. I have simply never really paid attention to what I have eaten. I have always been blessed with a speedy metabolism. This has given me free range to eat whatever seemed yummy. I always thought I was doing ok- I ate mostly organic foods, rarely ate tons in one sitting and didn't do a lot of fast food. I was fine, right?

Wrong! I had been doing a lot of reading lately into what foods can do to our moods. I have realized that five years into this sleep deprivation thing, I needed to find another way to deal with my crankiness. I started to think that Katherine was never going to stop teething. And I was pretty sure that Caroline was never going to be a late sleeper. I needed to find something else to help me boost my energy and my happiness. What I have discovered in reading and talking with Jen is that the answer is right in front of me and has been the whole time- no guilt though!

I've realized that I have been eating tons of refined sugar, lots of refined, white flour foods and no greens. My body has been on a constant roller coaster of cravings- sweet to salt, salt to sweet never finding a happy balance. I have also been depriving my body of the vitamins and minerals that are designed to give it energy.

In just two weeks, I have done a pretty good job at curbing my senseless snacking- the animals crackers and pretzels while organic, have not necessarily been my healthiest choice. I have also added in tons of greens- simple things like spinach and lettuce. I have made recipes incorporating greens. I have made my own salad dressings so my salads are yummy and I actually eat them.

So simple. So obvious. And so helpful. Two weeks later, I have ruled out the placebo effect. I feel better. The girls are still up to their night time antics so I am still tired but I am not exhausted. I do no crash in the early afternoon. I can stay up past 8:30. And most importantly, I am less cranky. I am happier to be with myself and I am sure the girls are happier to be with me.

More to come as I continue to eat my veggies!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Worrier

I am always on the look out for children's books about anxious little guys. Caroline is a big worrier and she responds well to books. Therefore...

Some of my favorites to date include the classic, Wemberly Worried and a relatively new title, Scaredy Squirrel. Today we read another great one. Rosemary Wells, of Ruby and Max fame, has written Felix and the Worrier. It tells the story of a critter (a hedgehog, I think) who seems to get along just fine during the day but is plagued by worry at night. His worries are represented by a little boy, who looks a bit like the gingerbread man. The Worrier taps on Felix's window at night and suggests things that might be worth worry.

As I was putting Caroline down tonight, she began listing things, just like the Worrier, that were concerning her about tomorrow. What would the weather be like, who would be at the playground in the afternoon, what if she was hot at night? I asked her if the Worrier was talking to her. She said, "There is no such thing as a Worrier, Mommy." Before I could even agree with her, she said, "Sometimes I am the Worrier."

Out of the mouths of babes...