Monday, June 30, 2008

Nature's fireworks

There is a magic time of year here - a sweet spot at the end of June when thousands of flickering fireflies light up our yard. We have no street lights and our home is surrounded by dark woods on three sides. The lack of manmade light enhances that of the fireflies into something extraordinary and for several nights at the end of June, our yard is transformed into a light show unparalleled in beauty.

There is no way to describe it in a way that does it justice. Everywhere you look - up, down, left, right - your eyes are dazzled by hundreds of pops of bioluminescence that rival even the most elegant of Christmas displays. Last night in a fit of insomnia, I sat in the chair by my bedroom window and watched, transfixed, marveling the beauty before me.

This is the seventh year that I've lived here. The seventh year that I've seen this incredible spectacle and I've come to anticipate it, eagerly counting down the days starting in early spring when the show returns. This year, I was especially anxious to share it with the girls.

firefly night

The fireflies are just about at their peak this week. Soon, they'll be gone, so tonight before bed, I took both girls by the hand and lead them out into the inky night. They are afraid of the dark and were skeptical, but I gently insisted. They gripped my hand tightly as we crossed the threshold, but within seconds all was forgotten.

Even in the dark I could see the wonder in their eyes. I could hear the awe in their voices as they oohed and aahed. They squeezed my hands tighter, not of fear but in fits of excited joy. They squealed and laughed and hopped with glee. We walked carefully through the yard. At one point, Peanut even forgot her fear and let go of my hand, chasing a nearby firefly through the grass.

They did not want to come in. They were hooked, mesmerized, fascinated, spellbound. "Five more minutes?" they begged.

When we got inside, they both wanted to leave their blinds open so they could stare out the window for a bit longer. How could I, the woman who sat in her own window gazing at the firefly dance just last night, refuse?

I'm not sure if we'll be in this house next summer. We constantly question if it's the right one for us, and there is always a chance that we'll move at some point. I only hope that where ever we end up, we can enjoy the same spectacle. If not, I won't be the only disappointed member of this household.

(Edit: I can't take credit for the picture. I've tried many times to photograph the fireflies in my yard, but clearly don't have the right photographic equipment or skills. This photo was taken by rougewriter3 and posted on Photobucket. There are others - go check them out!)

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Movie madness

Today, I did something very, very brave. I took both girls to the movies for the first time. Alone. Just me and them.

The film? The new Pixar flick Wall-E.

It all started when Peanut spotted a full-page ad in the newspaper last weekend.

"Oooooh, what's that?" she asked, tracing her fingers around the robot's sad little eyes.

"That's an ad for a new movie about a robot who falls in love. What do you think?"

"I think he is adorable. Can we rent it?"

I explained that it was only in the theaters right now, but we could rent it in a few months. But the Wall-E talk persisted, and soon Loaf joined in.

"Aw, look at dat little robot, Mom!" Loaf cooed, leaning over the ad to plant a smooshy kiss on Wall-E. "I wuv him."

Then all the five-star reviews started coming out, and my interest level went up quite a bit. They hadn't gone to the theater yet, and they can sit through a movie at home (mostly) so I figured why not? I searched the local theaters for a showing in the early afternoon, after lunch, figuring a matinee is bound to be full of kids and they'd do better on a nice, full tummy.

We reviewed movie rules:
1. No talking, and if you do talk, it has to be important and it has to be a whisper. We practiced whispering for good measure.
2. You must sit in your seat. No standing, no getting up and running around, no musical chairs. You sit. You watch.

"No talking, Mommy. Got it," Loaf proclaimed.

"We'll be good," promised Peanut.

So how'd it go? Let my lessons learned tell the rest of the story:

1. Perhaps, just perhaps, a movie about a robot with little to no dialogue and a sophisticated plot is not the best choice for the under five set. Next time, look for something with talking animals. Or princesses. Or both.

2. There is no way to entertain bored preschoolers in a dark theater. Except for snacks. But once they're gone? You're screwed.

3. Pointing to the screen and saying enthusiastically, "WOW! Look what Wall-E is doing!" only works once or twice. Especially when all Wall-E ever really does is roll around and squeak. After that, you start to take on a bit of the-boy-who-cried-wolf syndrome. And they know it.

4. A small three-year-old girl is not heavy enough to prevent a standard theater seat from folding up. Your right arm will cramp up and fall asleep holding the corner of it down for over two hours.

5. The rule about standing up and moving around will be quickly abandoned. The effectiveness of reminders and threats is inversely proportional to the child's boredom level. In other words, give it up and just be happy they're not talking. Or screaming.

6. Bored children like to sit in your lap.

7. Two children on your lap means you will not see large sections of the movie.

8. No matter how bad your kids are, someone else's will undoubtedly be worse. (I'm looking at you Mr. "NOOO MOMMY I HATE YOU YOU BIG TURD" from the back of theater. Thank you very much. You made me feel like Mom of The Year.)

9. Regardless of how bored your kids were, they will come home and tell you they loved the movie and ask if they can go see it again. (I think they just liked the snacks).

So have you seen it? Thoughts? I actually thought it was great. What I saw of it anyway.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thankful Thursday: A return home

We rescued BadCat from an alley in Weehawken, NJ in 2000. She was just a kitten then - only a few months old. Scraggly and skinny, she lived in an alley between our house and another with a host of nearly identical black and white siblings. The others were all feral and terrified of people, but one night she was sitting on our steps so I leaned over and picked her up. She cocked her head, bumping the top of it against my cheek and started to instantly purr. I carried her up the steps and she's been with us ever since.

But living the first few months of her life outdoors made an impression on her. She has a bit of a wild streak. She is smart and savvy. And she simply cannot - will not - live the life of an indoor cat. Denied the outdoors, she sits in a window and yowls - loudly and incessantly. Which is why she has been allowed outdoors since we moved to our current house in the 'burbs. Though she is safe from the dangers of a busy city street, she faces others. Primarily fox, but also coyote, and possibly large birds of prey. She knows this. Like I said, she's smart. And each night at dusk she sits at the door anxious to come inside where it is safe and warm.

The day we went to the Pearl Jam concert, Mark left in the afternoon to pick me up. Knowing we would not come home that night, he called and called for her, but she did not come home. He propped open the door on the back porch so she'd have a safe place that night.

When we came home on Wednesday morning, I called for her again, but she was no where to be found. All day long I'd walk outside and call her name. Later, Mark walked the street calling for her. He then got in the car and drove through the neighborhood, calling her name.

It got dark and still nothing.

I made up "Lost Cat" flyers and hung them on our mailbox. I emailed them to everyone I knew in the neighborhood. I prepared to hang them up in town and drop them at the local vet's office the next morning.

I wept.

Then, around 10 p.m., I heard her. The familiar meow and jingle of the bell on her collar. I opened the front door squealing with joy and she sauntered in with a look of "what's all the fuss about?" on her face.

So today, I am happy and thankful that my little BadCat is home. I'm not sure where she was, but I hope she won't go doing that again.

BadCat near the garden

What are you thankful for today?

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Pearl Jam!

Live from Madison Square Garden

Live from MSG . . . Pearl Jam!

Two VERY drunk guys a couple of rows in front of us. Heh.

Drunken buddies at the Pearl Jam concert

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Profile of a girl

Last night, I got caught up in looking at Peanut’s baby pictures. I sat for a long time studying the photos of her smiling baby face – the toothless grins, the small smattering of downy hair on her head. Her face smeared in sweet potatoes. Standing in her exer-saucer carefully studying a rattle.

Staring at them brought back a flood of memories initially, but the longer I looked the harder it became to find in them the girl I know today – the one who talks non-stop to her kitten, plays elaborate role-play games with her sister and only slows down to eat and sleep.

The not-so-long ago face in those pictures seemed unfamiliar – as if the baby in them was one I only knew casually, which struck fear deep into my heart. If I was having trouble remembering the baby she was now, what will it be like when she’s 10, or 16, or 25? I switched off the computer and went to bed, feeling unsettled and restless.

This morning I woke early to get ready for work. As I dried my hair in the bathroom, Peanut pushed the door open.

“Well good morning,” I said to her, leaning over to place a kiss on her forehead. “Come on in.”

A sleepy haze still surrounded her and without a word she zombie walked over to thick bathmat and lay down. She covered herself with her blanket and stared off into space.

When I finished, I knelt down beside her. She was lying on her side. I sat above her studying her profile and there I saw it – the baby girl I remembered. She was there after all – in the soft curve of her forehead, the gentle protrusion of her nose, the bud of her lips and the roundness of her chin. It was a profile I remembered intimately from my days of nursing her.

I’d spent many hours staring down at her – in the beginning days obsessing about whether or not she was getting enough to eat and then later just enjoying her, loving the way she’d gaze up at me with a satisfied, languid look about her.

I moved my face just inches from hers and ran my index finger along her profile, studying it, tracing it into my memory. Making sure I won’t ever forget.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Little taupe houses

”Oh but aint that America for you and me
Aint that America were someting to see baby
Aint that America, home of the free
Little pink houses for you and me.”

—John Mellencamp

We bought our house in March 2001 – a ‘50s ranch on a pretty, park-like piece of property.

Problem? The house was the color of baked salmon – a light peachy pink with a turquoise green door. This is a fine combination if you live in Boca or Bermuda, but we live in suburban New Jersey. Just. No.

Little pink house

We were going to paint right away, but you know? Life happened. September 11 and then trouble at both my job and Mark’s. Two babies. Tight finances. The years passed and our little pink house stayed that way.

But not anymore!!

I am proud to announce that we are now the proud owners of a little taupe house with brick red doors. It’s not as catchy as a certain song lyric, but it sure is easier on the eyes.

Better, no?


Saturday, June 21, 2008

She what? Wait. WHAT?

Scene: Our house. Yesterday afternoon. Loaf and Peanut are playing happily in Peanut's room. The peace is suddenly shattered by shrieking followed by fast moving footsteps down the hall toward me. It's Peanut.

Me: Peanut what happened? What's wrong?

Peanut: (sobbing) Loaf. Loaf flipped me off.

:::long pause:::

Me: Wait a minute. She what?

Peanut: She flipped me off, Mom.

:::second long pause:::

Me: OK. Tell me exactly what happened. What did she do?

Peanut: (exasperated) She flipped me off, Mom. I was sitting on the chair in my room and she FLIPPED ME OFF IT.

Me: (sighing with relief) Oh, OK. Let's go have a talk with Loaf about that.

Kind of reminds me of another time we miscommunicated.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

It's Thursday! Tell us why things don't suck for you today

The fabulous Mrs. Fussypants is starting a new group blogging effort called, well, it doesn't have an official name yet, but it's likely to be something along the lines of "Things-Don't-Suck-As-Much-As-I-Thought-Thursdays," and the general idea is to post something for which you are thankful.

Today, I am thankful that the sun is shining. It is gorgeous here. In 10 minutes, I'll be out in my yard digging in the dirt and that always makes me happy.

I am also thankful that my kids were so well behaved in the drugstore this morning, even though they were both starving.

But I am really, really, REALLY thankful that I am getting a haircut tonight, because I am starting to resemble the Muppet Show's Animal. (Hey, I even have glasses kind of like that).

Muppet Show

Want to play along? Just stop by Mrs. Fussypant's site and leave your linky love.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Six months with no TV

Could you do it?

The Gav household is giving it a try.

In fairness, we don’t watch tons of TV now. The television is off all day long unless there is some incredibly important breaking news story that we simply must know about. We have a DVR so if there was something we really wanted to watch in the afternoon, we’d just record it and watch it later after the kids are in bed.

The girls are allowed an hour of TV each evening before bed and they get to watch a movie of their choice on the weekend. Otherwise, they are TV free.

Of the four of us, Mark watches the most television, and I say this with the caveat that even he only watches maybe two hours most nights after 8:30 or 9 p.m. Being TV-free is his idea -he’s been nudging for a while now to turn off the satellite.

I’ve been reading at night, unless it’s Thursday because on Thursdays I watch Lost. That is it. No calls. No talking. No reading. No email. No blogging. Lost and only Lost. But Lost is over now until January, so this is the perfect time to pull the plug.

As of last Friday, we no longer have TV. We will still watch movies and we'll keep a cache of kids’ shows recorded so they can continue to watch at night, but no new shows. No summer replacements. No more reruns of The Sopranos. No premieres in September. We’re off the grid so to speak until at least January.

I think it will be good for us. We had a nice time the other night in a house devoid of not only TV, but lights too. I’m not saying I want to return to the Little House on the Prairie days, but I really don’t think I’m going to miss the boob-tube.

At least not when there are no new episodes of Lost.

Anyone else want to join us?


Wordless Wednesday: Say CHEESE!


And then say it again. Really enthusiastically.


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Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Driving home on the highway last night, I knew the storm was at my heels. The lightning seemed to be everywhere except directly over me. A flash to the right, a flash to the left, a flash behind me. The rain splattered on my windshield but the rain sensor never had to launch into full speed.

About 5 miles from home, my cell phone rang. It was Mark. He too was driving home, but from another direction, and near our home the storm was raging. He didn’t want to take the girls home and wondered if we could meet somewhere for dinner.

We have a lovely wooded lot speckled with ancient, towering ash trees. In the seven years we’ve lived there, six have fallen in large storms and seven more were removed by a tree expert because they were decaying from the inside out.

On a beautiful, sunny day, our yard is a little sliver of paradise, but when the rain teems and the wind whips, the leafed sentries that surround our little ranch house feel more threatening than peaceful and we’ve sat through many storms pacing the halls while large branches whack against the windows and roof.

So we met at a restaurant in town and ate a not-very-relaxing and not-very-enjoyable dinner, but at least we felt safe.

Driving the few miles back to our house, we encountered streets littered with branches and bark and we returned to a house without power. Daylight was in its last throes, so Mark quickly built a fire while I lighted a few candles, and we all curled up on the couches and watched the flames flicker in the fireplace. I stroked Peanut’s hair with one hand and rubbed Loaf’s back with the other. We sat like that until the outside was as dark as the inside and the girls’ tiny eyelids began to flutter and then finally, close completely.

The house was incredibly still – the only sound came from the crackle of the fire and an occasional sigh from one of the girls. Even the cats were silent.

They say there is a calm before the storm, but as it turns out, there is one after it too.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Thirtysomething . . . at least for now

Today is my 39th birthday.

Insert dramatic pause and/or audible gasp

All week I’ve been trying to muster up some bad feelings or dread about it, but I just can't. I'm completely unfazed. So, I'm wondering, have I finally come to accept aging as an inevitable and acceptable part of life? Have I gained some new wisdom or perspective recently?


It comes down to this my friends: I'm just really, really freaking happy that for at least one more year I am still an official "thirtysomething." Next year, it's a whole new ball game. The big four UH-OH. The start of a whole new decade and phase of life. The thirties - the decade in which I became a homeowner, got married and had children - will be in my past.


OK, so maybe I'm not feeling so fine after all?

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Chasing a dream

Nate, my brother, is a spry 25. He has lived the better part of his life in pursuit of one goal: A spot on the U.S. Olympic Judo team.

He started judo at the age of 5, his interest in martial arts spurred by the movie The Karate Kid. When my step-father tried to sign up for karate lessons, he was told that Nate was too young. But my step-father knew someone who owned a judo studio and he said to bring Nate by. If nothing else, he'd get to put on a gi and roll around on a mat.

Today, over 20 years later, he is standing - right at this very moment - in a stadium somewhere in Las Vegas about to compete for that illustrious spot on the U.S. Team. His match, literally, is beginning any second (1 p.m. eastern time).

I sit here typing with a knot in my stomach. He has worked so hard for this. He has won a great number of prestigious matches. He has traveled the world more than I can ever hope to. He has had some heartbreaking losses and numerous injuries. He had his morale damaged by a coach who is too arrogant and thought it better to spend his time berating his students vs. building them up. He overcame that and is a stonger, better person today.

Through it all, he has stuck with a sport that is virtually unknown and barely watched here in America. He has sacrificed and fought and pushed his body beyond the limit.

When he was just a boy of about 8, he told me he wanted to go to the Olympics and win a gold medal. I think my reaction not far off of patting him on the head and saying, "That's nice, dear." Who knew that 20 years later, he'd be where he was? Certainly not me, and I don't think my parents did either.

Regardless of what happens today in that stadium in Las Vegas, I will always look at him as an inspiration. He is someone who knew what he wanted at a very early age and went for it. How many of us can say that? I can't.

Good luck today, Nate. Your NJ fan club is here cheering for you.

EDIT: He won his first match!! Yay! He still has a tough fight ahead of him, but he's off to a great start! I'll keep you posted.

UPDATE: Well, he didn't make it, but he fought a great fight. Nate, you'll always be an Olympian in my book.



Tuesday afternoon. 100 degrees
Me: I’m going to put on my bathing suit and sit in your pool.
Peanut: You can’t do t hat! Your butt is too big and you’ll pop it.


Driving home from the gym on Wednesday.
Loaf: Oooo, look mom, a castle!
Me: That’s not a castle, that’s a church. It’s pretty though, isn’t it? Would you like to go to church?
Peanut: (Incredulously). Mom, you know we don’t have the patience to sit through church.


Wednesday afternoon
Me: Look at my two daughters! You two are the nicest, sweetest, smartest and most generous girls I know. I am such a lucky mommy.
Peanut: You forgot cute.
Me: Oh. Of course, cute too.
Peanut: And beautiful.
Me: And modest.


Yesterday morning Peanut woke up at 5 a.m.
Me: So why were you up so early this morning?
Peanut: I just woke up.
Me: And you thought it’d be good to wake me up too?
Peanut: Well, someone had to do it.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Happy Loving Day!

Did you know that today is Loving Day?

Loving Day marks the anniversary of the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Loving vs. Virginia, which officially legalized interracial marriage throughout the United States. Up until that historic decision, it was illegal for people of different races to marry in 16 states.

Isn't that crazy? Just 41 years ago, a number of states, stating that it was immoral and denigrated the sanctity of marriage, forbade consenting adults to enjoy the same rights and privileges others had simply because of the way they were born. Sound familiar?

::looking up and whistling::

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Sacked out

Sacked out

So peaceful

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Monday, June 09, 2008

Sexless and the city

Note, this my "review" of the Sex and the City movie, but I've been careful to reveal no major plot points for those who haven't seen it yet.

I loved Sex and the City.

Each episode served up a delicious little cocktail of men, drama, laughs, fashion and the Big Apple that I drank down heartily, always eager for the next installment. Above all, the show was about friends. Four smart, stylish women friends who stuck together through thick and thin, cried on each other's shoulders, stood by each other and celebrated milestones together. Through sickness and health, good times and bad, for better and worse, as long as they had each other, nothing else mattered.

Of course, the show was about sex and relationships too and each character had her ups and downs in her quest for love. When the series ended four years ago, each character had found love and happiness in her own way.

I had high hopes for the film version of this and while it was entertaining enough, something was missing. The Fab Four continued to hold each other up through some pretty tough times, which is what ultimately saved the movie in my eyes. But still, I couldn't help leaving the theater feeling a little void. It didn't quite fire on all cylinders and I've been trying to figure out why.

Some of the jokes felt a little forced. Charlotte poops her pants (really) and Samantha gains weight and gets a gut. Meanwhile, Big stomps on Carrie's heart yet AGAIN and Miranda is still working on opening up and embracing her emotional side.

Despite the title, the person having the most sex in the film is Samantha's male neighbor, who she watches through the window every night. Prudish Charlotte comes in second, but otherwise, the film could almost have been called Sexless in the City. The resident vamp, Samantha is reduced to a voyeur, she herself garnering only one sex scene in the entire two-and-a-half hour film (which quite frankly, was a bit too long).

There were happy moments for sure, but much of the movie is as depressing and dark as the hair color Carrie dons to hideout during a particularly tough spell. Fortunately, alls well that ends well and most people will find the ending - in which the major characters are shown sharing a meal, laughing and enjoying life - very satisfying.

Sex - C
Love - B
Fashion - A++
New York - A
Cocktail drinking - B
Fun moments - B
Hot men - A-
Friendships - A
Overall - B+

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Friday, June 06, 2008

Preschool graduation: The dress rehearsal

I posted a while back about not being sure if we should send Peanut to kindergarten next year or not.

In the end, it came down to this: she won't be 5 until August, and better than half of the kids in next year's kindergarten class will be 6, 6.5, and even a couple of nearly 7-year-olds. So we enrolled her in Transitional Kindergarten (a.k.a. Pre-K) in her preschool.

However, about half of her class is moving on to kindergarten. So you know what that means? Graduation. Complete with caps, gowns (mens shirts worn backwards), tassles and even the playing of Pomp and Circumstance.

So this year was practice graduation for her (and me. Yes, I got a little teary. Yes, I am a ridiculous sap.)

The very serious graduate


Loaf's class had a role too: singing about a turtle in the bathtub who eats the soap and gets sick. Which has to do with graduation . . . how? No idea. If you figure it out let me know.


Now the graduates get ready to sing a cute song about being really happy to be here.


Loaf, however, does not look too happy to be here. At. All.


Loaf is thinking, "When is this frickin' thing going to be over?? I want to go home."


Receiving her diploma


The class of 2008


The proud graduate after the ceremony


A very proud Mom and Dad (even though we'll be doing this all over again when she REALLY graduates next year). ::sigh::



Memories in the making

As a young girl, some of my best summer memories were the simplest ones.

Playing ring-around-the-rosy



Lying in the grass



Spinning and spinning and spinning . . .




. . . until you fell over



Dancing with the sun on your shoulders




Running like the wind with nowhere to go


Getting the most out of life without even realizing you were doing it



Hope you get to enjoy some of these things this summer too!

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

What if . . . ??

(Warning: Shameless promotion ahead)

If you died today, would your family know what your wishes are? Would they know how you feel about burial vs. cremation? Would they know if you want to be embalmed? Would they think you want them to spend thousands of dollars on a top-of-the-line casket, or would they assume you’d rather the money be put to a different use? Would they know what your feelings are about organ donation or, if you were incapacitated, would they know how you feel about being kept alive on a respirator indefinitely?

Or would they be left to guess – and perhaps even fight – in the courts for years the way Terri Schaivo’s family did?

What about important documents? Does your family know where your safety deposit boxes or safes are? Do they know where to find your life insurance policies? Do they even have your social security number? Can they find the title to your car or your mortgage policy number or the key to the vacation home in the mountains? If you have pets or livestock, could they find the relevant vet and ownership records?

Would they know what you wanted done with your wedding band? Your great-grandmother’s china? The special Christmas ornaments you and your spouse have picked up on every single vacation together since you got married? Your baseball card collection or the tea towels you sewed with your mother when you were 10?

Would it bother you if any of the above items were given away to charity? Possessions don’t need to be valuable to be important to us.

And now turn it around. If someone in your close family died, would YOU know what he/she wants or where to find the critical pieces that help complete and close out that person’s life? And would you really want to be searching for them when you’re riddled with grief?

These are critical questions that few of us want to give thought to. No one really relishes the idea of his/her own death, but if you have any type of family—a parent, a spouse, a sibling, a grandparent—who would be left behind after your death, you need to answer these questions in an organized, easy-to-find way.

My husband Mark has put together a guide that pulls everything together in one cover. It’s called “The It’s All Right Here Life and Affairs Organizer.”

The idea for the organizer originated after his father died in 2003 leaving behind mountains of papers with no guidance on what was important and what wasn’t. He and is siblings spent many hours pouring through closets, rooms, files, boxes and shelves trying to organize, sort, code and distribute. It would have been a difficult task under the best of circumstances, but doing it while grief-stricken made it that much worse.

Had my father-in-law had access to a book like the one Mark’s written, his children would have been spared many difficult moments.

Because you are readers of this blog and I appreciate you stopping by now and then to say hello, we’re offering the book to you at a special discounted price of $29.99, a 40% discount off the $49.99 cover price. Email me ( for an order form. Click here to learn more about the book or take a peek inside.

I swear, even if he weren't my husband, I'd definitely buy this book. If it saves my family members even a little grief or anguish, it's well worth the price.


Wordless Wednesday: Silly, chocolate faces

Monday, June 02, 2008

Words alone

“The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food!”

That will go down as the first phrase Peanut read.

Yes, that’s right, read.

Last week before our trip to Massachusetts, I bought them each two new books to occupy them in the car. But they were angels the whole way up and the new books remained zipped in my bag. At my mom’s house on Friday, I found them there and dug them out.

“Here,” I said, handing them to Peanut. “Some new books for you. Give me two minutes and I’ll read them to you.”

Peanut sat on the couch studying the covers of each one. When I returned to the room she proudly held one up and said excitedly, “MOMMY! I know what the title is to this one: “The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food.”

While I am constantly impressed with her vocabulary and knew full well she was quickly catching on to spelling and reading random site words, this revelation shocked me. To the best of my knowledge, I’d never reviewed any of those words with her. Berenstain? Really?

“Have you read that book at school?” I asked somewhat skeptically.

“No, Mommy.”

“Have you ever seen that book before, anywhere?”


“How did you know what it said then?”

“I just looked at the words. See?” And then she proceeded to sound out each one for me. She also proceeded to sound out the words on the covers of the next three books: The Little Lamb, What is a Princess? and The Monster at the End of this Book.

I’m amazed – constantly – by the strides my children make. Not because they’re so exceptional or amazing, but because it’s unfathomable to me that they were babies only yesterday.

Now, they read and count and know a bunch of Spanish words. They run and leap and tell jokes that make no sense, but that are hilarious to them. They laugh and defy and pretend. They imagine and worry and throw giant hugs around my neck. They love and cry and do cartwheels (sort of) in the grass.

Come to think of it, they are exceptional and amazing, at least to me. I can’t wait until they come home from school, so I can tell them that.

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