Thursday, Jul 16, 2009

Universal Balance

I am a firm believer that you have to remove all of the negative forces in your life to make room for the really good stuff. It’s not some weird metaphysical thing, either. It’s simple. If you’re wasting energy on negative things, you don’t have it to reach for the positive things. And, if you’re wasting energy on negative people and feelings, you don’t have room for the wonderful people and friendships.

For the past way-too-many months, I have been dealing with negative energy in my life. In the meantime, I was chasing a dream that wasn’t really what I wanted. I got caught up in the hype or what-have-you and was prancing down the wrong path. It wasn’t a bad path, but it also wasn’t the path I wanted to be focused on.

So, in the past few weeks, the negativity is gone and everything has aligned in my life. We got some really amazing news from Big Guy’s family and I’ve had some great opportunities. I’ve also made some lovely new friends. Every once and awhile you need a reminder to get back on track so I’m feeling very thankful about that.




Monday, Jul 13, 2009

This is the Perfect Post

As you may know, I blog on QuirkyFusion.com and, of course, on Family Computing @ About.com. It’s a lot of blogging for a mom with two little kids and a shortage of day care. But that’s not my biggest problem. My big roadblock to blogging is my vision of a perfect post. It has a beginning, middle and end. It says something intelligent, witty or profound. It makes people think and maybe even comment. It’s… perfect.

Perfect posts take time to write. They take editing and spell-checking. They take brain power. They may even have an accompanying photo. I don’t have time for that. And I sometimes forget that it is just that drive for the perfect post that led me to start Quirky Fusion in the first place. It frees me up to say whatever jumbled mess is in my mind on here. This is the me you’d find if you showed up at my door unannounced. Well, not really, since I don’t typically answer the door if I don’t know who’s knocking. You get the point, though. It’s the imperfect and honest me. Sometimes, it’s the angry me or the tired or the PMS-y me.  Just me. Only lightly edited.

So, I’m going to try to post more (but probably won’t) and try to let go of perfection. Not that I reach that even when I try. But don’t expect things to totally drag downhill either. One of my many pet peeves is a blog that’s sloppily written and not proofed at all. I still believe in treating my readers with some respect.

Yeah, so that’s it. The perfect post about imperfection. Sigh. I’m going to have to work on this one.




Saturday, Jul 4, 2009

What a Difference a Day Makes

LadyBug has always been a spirited child. Where the rest of us sit and read books or watch TV, she jumps on the couch. While we snuggle together and talk quietly, she squirms and flips and screeches. We’re not quite sure where she came from, but she certainly adds some spice to our lives!

I knew, when she was just a year-and-a-half and already taunting her older brother by stealing toys and running away, that she was going to be a bit of a handful. And so it was no surprise that her second birthday gift to us was learning how to emphatically use the word, “no.” Bug went through this phase at the same age, but she’s given it her own special twist. No matter what you ask her, she answers with a sharp and unpleasant, “NO!” It is often followed up by a whiny request for whatever it is you just offered. For example, “Would you like some ice cream?” “NO!!! I want some ice cream…”

One of the delights and challenges of this particular age is how quickly they change. One day, they’re holding your hand and sighing, “Mama” when they see you. They next, they’re pulling away and screaming, “Noooooooo!” The one upside to all of this change is that when things get really ugly, you can be sure that it won’t last for long.

I’m not going to miss LadyBug’s snarky behavior when she (fingers crossed) moves on to the next phase of her development. But there are things I am going to miss. I love the way she tells her brother to calm down when he’s upset. Or reminds him, “Daddy’s at work!” over and over again as Bug complains that he misses his father. I love that when she’s tired or sad and I pick her up, she drapes onto my shoulder and wraps her arms around me. I love the way her face lights up when she smiles and how sweet she looks when she’s sleeping. I don’t like to admit it, but I love the impish look she gets when she’s being mischievous and that she is such a free spirit. And I love the way she pronounces things in her little-girl, just-learning-to-talk voice. She still says, “I need-a help!” She’s got an intense look of concentration when she’s “reading” her books and her face reveals every fleeting emotion that’s going on inside.  My little girl knows how to try my patience in a way I can’t even begin to describe, but she does it all with positive energy, sunlight and a lot of personality.

I hope that last bit never changes.




Sunday, Jun 21, 2009

A Letter to My Husband on Father’s Day

Dear Hubby,

Our kids are too young to be able to appreciate what a wonderful father they have, so I’m going to write you a note on their behalf.

Thank you for:

  • Taking care of the kids when I go out… and not calling it “babysitting.”
  • Getting up at night with them and early in the morning.
  • Giving them baths.
  • Patiently putting together train track after train track for them.
  • Knowing their favorite foods, bedtime routines and other quirks of their day-to-day life.
  • Speaking of them with pride.
  • Missing them (at least a little) when you’re at work during the day.
  • Putting up pictures of them in your office.
  • Throwing them up in the air… and catching them.
  • Driving them to daycare.
  • Learning about their friends, their teachers and what they have done during the day.
  • Making them dinner that even occasionally includes vegetables.
  • Singing Happy Birthday to each of them once a year.
  • Hugging them as often as you can.

Giving them love, attention and plenty of affection, and showing them that Daddies can contribute just as much to your life as a Mom.

Happy Father’s Day!




Saturday, Jun 13, 2009

Mom’s Nite Out

A few weeks’ ago, I signed up with HouseParty.com to host a party promoting the new TNT drama, HawthoRNe with Jada Pinkett Smith. I was supposed to invite a few friends over to watch a preview of the series pilot and just have some fun. HouseParty provides some little gifts for guests (in this case, cute little first aid kits). The parties were supposed to take place the weekend of June 5th.

Our HawthoRNe Napkins and Coasters

Our HawthoRNe Napkins and Coasters

Now, June is a crazy-busy time around here. Many of my friends are teachers, so they’re all wrapping up their school years. We’ve got a bunch of birthdays (including our lovely LadyBug), anniversaries and so on. Since it’s hard to find the time to just relax at this time of year, I decided that I wanted to do something  a little more special for my friends and family. These women are fantastic. Most of them are in social service fields… nurses, teachers, social workers, etc. They’re moms. They spend a lot of their time and energy taking care of other people.

I was able to find some very generous sponsors to help create fun swag bags for the ladies in attendance. Before I tell you just how much fun we had, I want to give a heart-felt thank you to:

We started the night with a demo of my new EA Sports Active on the Wii. My cousin kindly did a short workout with a variety of sports activities and some strength activities as well. Everyone was impressed and they were excited to know that they had a chance to win one at the end of the evening. While my cousin got a workout, the rest of us chowed down on chocolate fondue, cupcakes and some little appetizers, all courtesy of Stop & Shop.

Even Divas Enjoy EA Sports Active

Even Divas Enjoy EA Sports Active

After that, we settled in to watch HawthoRNe. After almost an hour of tears, suspense and even some laughter, we all agreed that it’s a pretty good show. I’m looking forward to having some quality TV to watch over the summer! HouseParty had provided some quizzes, so we scored our results and shared our feedback on the TV show.

Then it was time for the goodie bags and giveaways! The Sports Active was in demand, but other guests were also excited to win Stop & Shop gift cards and an animal print for a child’s room. No one left the party empty-handed. Pogo.com supplied each guest with a swanky sling backpack, video game, card game, notebook/pen set and Club Pogo gift codes. We had shopping bags and more gift cards from Stop & Shop. The Children’s Museum of NH provided passes for each guest, and Karen from Story Time Felts sent us each a cute fairy-tale mask.

Enjoying the Swag!

Enjoying the Swag!

The evening ended with silliness as guests donned their felt masks and we broke out the Carnival Games disc for the Wii.

Despite my two kids’ refusal to sleep (thank goodness for Big Guy’s constant vigilance with that), we all had a lot of fun. It was nice to get together without kids and just be able to laugh and talk with one another. I’m hoping to make this an annual event to pamper the lovely ladies in my life.

I Always Buy Too Much Food!

I Always Buy Too Much Food!

Goodie Bags from Pogo.com & Stop & Shop

Goodie Bags from Pogo.com & Stop & Shop




Monday, Jun 8, 2009

Home Sweet Home

We bought our current house just about a month after we got married. I was in Australia for work for the closing and Big Guy had to do all of the paperwork himself. Poor thing! We moved in a month after that and the following month we were pregnant. It was a whirlwind process. For the next 20 months, I was either pregnant or dealing with a newborn/baby. And, just before Bug’s first birthday (he was nowhere near walking at that point), we found out we were pregnant again!

LadyBug turns two this week and I finally feel like we are able to do some projects around the house. We’ve been living here for almost four years! That’s not to say that we haven’t done projects, but we haven’t been able to work on them together without sending the kids far, far away. LadyBug is… uhm… spirited, so it’s still a challenge, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

And now I’d really just prefer a different house. There are things I love about this house… a fantastic kitchen (we’re talking about a really beautiful kitchen) and a lovely great room with a nice high ceiling. But the bathrooms are microscopic, and there’s no master suite/bath. I compromised on the garage (there is none) and the yard is smaller than I wanted to begin with. With the awful real estate market, we can’t afford to sell and so it’s all about making the best out of what you’ve got. I can’t really complain too much because we’ve got a house and it’s pretty nice, even if it’s not exactly what I want.

So, when Twitter Moms asked us to share what home means to us, it forced me to think about things in a different way. Our home is where we came after we vowed to spend our lives together. We brought our kids home from the hospital here (Bug came home on Halloween and we had trick-or-treaters banging on the door!). They’ve learned to walk, talk and give hugs here. It has become my office and my kids’ perpetual playground. We’ve had friends and family come for celebrations and holiday dinners. Despite the physical flaws I see, it is a place that holds our most treasured memories.

What does home mean to you? Drop by TwitterMoms and let them know. You could win an “Away We Go” Prize Pack.




Thursday, May 28, 2009

Loss, Love and Eveny Knees

We buried my grandmother yesterday. She passed away late last week and I’ve been trying to figure out how to explain what I was feeling at the time. She was 92 and a true matriarch, leaving behind 6 children, 17 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren. We called her Memere (MEH-may), which is French (or French Canadian, in her case) for “Grandma.” Her husband, our Pepere, passed away just over two years ago and she had sorely missed him. She was sort of waiting to go for a long time, but a couple of weeks ago she stopped eating anything but ice cream. Memere loved ice cream! I hope that when it’s time for me to go that I leave behind a loving family and many good memories and that my last meal is something as decadent as a bowl of ice cream.

My relationship with Memere was somewhat complex. She became my grandmother when my mom remarried when I was 7 or 8 years old. Although she always treated me the same way she treated my sisters (her biological grandchildren), we were missing some important early history that most kids have with their grandparents and I always felt one step removed. Still, she was the closest thing I had to that vision I hold of a traditional grandmother. She cooked for us and always had a variety of cookies, chocolates and other treats on hand. I remember her laughing a lot and how quickly she gave out hugs and praise to the grandkids. I know that she also had a strong opinion and a sharp tongue available, but as a child I don’t remember seeing that side so much as the warm and loving grandmother. Despite the complexities of our relationship, I loved her very much and knew that she loved me as well.

By the time she passed away, I feel like I had said most of my goodbyes. Over the years her health had deteriorated. She had lost most of her eyesight and was suffering from Parkinson’s disease. For a long time, my grandparents had refused to move to a nursing home and my grandmother suffered from a lack of proper care. My grandfather had lost his short-term memory – and most of his appetite – and she wasn’t getting the nutrition or health care that she really needed. By the time they did move into the home, we thought she only had a matter of weeks to live. In the end, she rallied and lived on for several more years. But, as a result of nearly losing her, I always left her side with closure that I may not see her again. It made it almost more difficult to visit because I felt like I was already at peace with her moving on. It’s a feeling that’s hard to describe.

Her wake and funeral were emotional for everyone in the family, but we also knew that she had lived a full life and was more than ready to move on. As a result, I think we were also able to truly enjoy each other’s company and I thought it was nice to spend time with my cousins who I rarely see. The family has grown so large that it’s nearly impossible to coordinate a get together. All of the children were there and most of the grandchildren (I believe we were only missing 2 out of 17). I’m sure that if she was looking down, she was happy to see her family come together.

On an aside, I was asked to do a reading at the funeral. My mom had given me the passage in advance, but I only took a moment to skim it and make sure there was nothing I couldn’t pronounce. Normally I would have memorized most of it, but I just couldn’t quite get it together to do that this time. Anyway, as I was reading I was trying to decipher the meaning, so I could give proper inflection where needed. And then I got to a phrase that said,”As I live, says the Lord, eveny knee shall bend before me.” Huh? Eveny knee. So I read it as it was written, pronouncing it “even-ee knee.” Of course, the moment I said it, I knew that it was supposed to be “every knee” and thought that perhaps one of my grandparents might have played some final joke on my behalf. I corrected myself, but then had to fight against a wave of giggles that would have been highly inappropriate during a funeral mass.

I could probably go on forever about my grandparents and the things they lived through and the lessons they passed on to successive generations. Instead, I’m just going to keep those stories in my heart and send my love to Memere Jeanne Matte and Pepere Raymond Matte. Rest in peace.




Friday, May 8, 2009

No New Members in the Food Allergy Club!

So, Bug has been breaking out in a rash around his mouth and we’re pretty sure it’s a mild dairy allergy. He had a dairy allergy as an infant and at his last test, it was still a low positive. The worrisome thing is that it wasn’t bothering him and now it is, which suggests that it’s getting worse.

I say, No. Go away, food allergies! We’ve got enough to handle without adding a dairy allergy, too.




Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009

Jon & Kate Plus 8 – Where Have all the Interesting Episodes Gone?

I am not going to badmouth Jon & Kate. I think there are a number of issues there, just like there are in most families, but they’re going to need to work those out for themselves. So,

Dear Jon & Kate Plus 8’s PR rep and TLC,

I have been a fan of the show for quite some time. I enjoyed it because, as I raise my own little kids, it’s interesting to see how other families handle tantrums, meals, and just the day-to-day work of raising kids. While I knew it wasn’t a full snapshot of their lives, I appreciated the realism that was there.

As the show gained popularity, we began to see more and more product placements, special outings and comped vacations. Although I couldn’t necessarily relate to having VIP treatment at DisneyWorld, it was fun to see the kids enjoy the magic of the parks. The trips they took felt reasonably genuine.

This season, however, has felt like one giant ad. The kids are trotted out in their matching outfits to sporting events, theater, day trips and even full vacations. We see them less and less at home, and even when they’re there, one or both parents seems to be missing. Mady and Cara might as well have moved out on their own for as much as we see them. Instead of watching the trials and joys of a “normal” family, it now feels like we’re watching Gene Simmons Family Jewels (with Kate starring as the entrepreneurial rock god himself).

I get that it’s a lucrative proposition. Getting “real” people (rather than true celebs) to mention your product/hotel/amusement park is appealing. But here’s the thing, the fans aren’t stupid. We know when you’ve snuck in a poorly placed Allstate “ad” (that was shameless, by the way) and we know that no matter how much the family raves about this resort or that, we won’t have nearly as grand an experience. And at some point, it just gets boring. And insulting. At some point, we start to feel that, by virtue of having so many kids, Kate has reached a height of popularity such that she doesn’t actually need to spend time with them. Now she can afford her non-nanny as she jets around the country doing another book signing or speaking engagement.

It is time that all of you realize that we’re losing interest. What was compelling about the show is nearly gone and we keep watching in the hopes that it will come back. Sure, the kids are still adorable, but we barely get to see their personalities between photo opportunities. Get it together, TLC. Work on your brand image, PR Agent.  Otherwise, you’re going to find yourself without an audience.

Sincerely,

A Past Fan.

Oh, and P.S. Can somebody PLEASE get Mady some counseling? The poor girl obviously is not ideally suited to be in such a large family and acts out as a result.




Monday, Mar 16, 2009

Sex Offender Be Gone!

About two years ago, shortly after Bug was born, we received a letter from the local police. It informed us that a convicted sex offender had moved into our neighborhood. Indeed, he had moved in a block away. To be clear, I can see his house from my yard. I freaked out a little bit at the time and decided to see if there were other offenders living in the neighborhood.

There are no other offenders living in our neighborhood, but our illustrious neighbor is a Level 3 sex offender, which is classified with a high likelihood of a repeat offense. He was convicted of a number of accounts of indecent battery and assault on a child under the age of 14, as well as rape and abuse of a child. I was rather hoping for some vague offense that I could write off in my mind as perhaps an 18 year old who had sex with his 16 year old girlfriend. Nope. Our neighbor is in his 40’s and there is just no justifying any of this away. My last bit of hope was that he had temporarily moved in with parents or a sibling while he got back on his feet.

Before I go on, I want to clarify something. I am not drowning in worry and stress over this situation. First of all, he has to live somewhere. And, most sex offenders have committed crimes against children they know and it would be foolish to believe my kids would be all that much safer without this guy around. Still, it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable walking by his house. What would I do if I actually SAW him?

Well, no need to wonder. Yesterday, as I was walking home with my son, he drove by us, smile and waved. I almost immediately recognized him, despite a change in hairstyle. If I had any doubts about his identity, they were quashed when I saw him pull into the familiar address. He waved to several people on the street, actually, and I thought it was a bit bold. I mean, anyone who knows his identity is probably not that thrilled that he lives in our neighborhood. We can’t do anything about it, but that doesn’t mean it’s wise to drive down the street waving and grinning like you’re in the Macy’s Day Parade. Show a little reserve or remorse or… I don’t know. But just don’t wave to me and my child.

Sex Offender be gone! At the very least, mind your business and keep your waves and grins to yourself. I am not interested in being neighborly.