Wordless Wednesday

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Hello me, welcome back!

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve taken a bit of a social media detox the past 4 months. There have been many changes here at MTO so let me bring you up to speed. I started a new job. Best. Job. Ever. It’s less than two miles from my house which is great. But even better is the fact that the company is fantastic and growing even more fantastic by the day, with yours truly managing its PR. So, you’d think that after giving up the Worst. Commute. Ever. I’d have more time to blog, right? Nope. Yes, I’ve had lots more time – but I’m applying it towards something novel – actually being a mom instead of using my time to write about being a mom. My other Best. Job. Ever. So that’s all been pretty exciting stuff.

But, since 4 months worth of life is just way too much to summarize in a blog post (thank goodness or that would be pretty pathetic) I’ll hit you with a ‘top 10’ instead:

  1. Orthodontics is expensive and scary.  All the things I hated about it as a kid are even worse as a parent because you actually have to pay for the torture that is bestowed upon your child.  Enter Exhibit A: The Expander. This is a lovely contraption that was inserted into Jake’s palate two weeks ago to help stretch his palate to allow him to have a proper and symmetrical bite. Each night, we get to take a metal spear that they call a ‘key’ and poke it in a hole the size of a pin head and crank it back towards his throat thereby widening the expansion device in incremental amounts. So that’s been fun.
  2. Turns out Addison is really good at rock climbing. No surprises there.
  3. Turns out Mathew is not so interested in talking. Early Intervention is becoming part of our summer routine. We’re still waiting for a first word but I suspect that with the amount of Mary Poppins airings in our household, he’s storing it all up so his first word can be, ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’
  4. Back-to-school shopping is in full swing. I highly recommend my favorite system for making morning routines even easier. Kids Hanging Organizer 7 Day Shelf - Girls Pink Floral, Stripes & Dots I got one for Jake before Kindergarten and just found this one for Addison which I love. On ‘laundry-day Sunday’ I line up their outfits for the week then in the mornings they can just grab and go. All other suggestions and products for back-to-school are gratefully accepted for reviews. LL Bean: you know where to find me.
  5. The McDonald’s mango pineapple smoothie is my favorite summer splurge.  Way better than anything that mosquito-infested DQ serves up. And anyone that  knows me well knows that if you can purchase it at a drive-through, it automatically moves up at least 10 spots on my ‘MTO favorites’ list. (A top 100 listing to be announced as a future post).
  6. My ‘I’ll-never-leash-a-child, that’s-just-barbaric’ stance (which I boldly claimed to iParenting in an interview a few years ago) is softening significantly since Matthew has pretty much learned how to scale small buildings. Seriously, the child is unstoppable.
  7. South Beach. Chris and I. August, 2011. Thank you IBM. And Camp Passo.
  8.  I will not be a hockey mom. I repeat: I will not be a hockey mom.  (But while I’m on the subject, if anyone has any hand-me-down equipment, we’ll be needing some come September)
  9. Why doesn’t North Reading have a farmers market!? We’ve eaten our weight in strawberries, corn and peaches this summer and I’d much rather support local farms! I’m totally doing CSA next summer.
  10. Best part about summer 2011? It’s only half over!

What’s been your best highlight of the summer so far?

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Coffee Talk

First and foremost, you might have noticed a bit of a drought in my posts. This is because big changes are underway here at the MTO Headquarters. More to come on that front in the coming weeks…

But first,

Like every Saturday morning this winter, the routine is that I take Addison to gymnastics and TaekwonDo with Matthew in tow while the boys (Chris and Jake) head to skating lessons.  And on our way, my car practically stops on autopilot at Dunkin’ Donuts for my first caffeine fix of the day.  Just as I have each week, this past weekend I had to remind Addison only 12 times that this was a coffee only pit stop because Dunkin’ Donuts only sells doughnuts after 10 a.m. And anyways, a belly full of munchkins minutes prior to hours of tumbling and chopping is a recipe for disaster.  This time however, Addison must have decided that enough was enough with my patronizing lies.  This week, she decided to take matters into her own hands.

As we pull to the order window, I roll down my window and routinely order my medium french vanilla regular. As always, the speaker shouts back at me with the the usual,

“Will that be all?”

And just as I’m about to pull forward – much to my surprise, I hear a voice chime in from the  depths of the backseat of the minivan, loud and clear,

“Nope. We’ll also have 5 sprinkle munchkins please!”

Turning around I see Addison unbuckled (clear sign of premeditation) hanging out the back window which she rolled down on her own, to place her strategically timed addition to my order.  Trumping her order with my supernatural mom powers, I chime in,

“No doughnuts – just the coffee please – sorry about that.”

And that was that. Or so I thought.

But as we pull to the next window, I’m waiting with my window open and my money in-hand for my morning elixir and the worker seems very distracted by some activity behind me. Sure enough, Addison is hanging out the back window yet again speaking in a controlled whisper with her pointer finger darting back and fourth at the worker saying,

“Hey, you. Yeah. I’m over here. Shhhh – can you just give me a  doughnut. Just a couple sprinkle munchkins please. C’mon. Just grab one for me – shhhhhh.”

Much to her dismay and despite her best efforts – no doughnuts were exchanged that day. But a little piece of me still felt totally and utterly defeated in the thought that my 5 year old had almost outsmarted me for the first of what I’m sure will be many times over.  And it was only 9:30 a.m. And I hadn’t even had my coffee yet.

Have you ever been duped yet by your kids? If so, I’d love to hear it. Somehow, your shame will probably help make mine more palatable.

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Happy New Year!

As we all do each year, I’ve made my top 10 list of New Year’s Resolutions. I’m hoping that posting them online for all to see will help me keep to them for fear of public humiliation otherwise.  So here goes:

1.  As cliche as it sounds my number one resolution is to eat healthier and exercise more. My husband so lovingly stuffed my stocking this year with the P90X disks and I have no excuse not to start them. Okay, I did ask for them – even after he offered to get me a million other things this year – but still somehow it was disappointing to actually find it there in my stocking. But this New Year marks the one year anniversary where my extra poundage can no longer officially be excused as baby fat. In fact, we brought Matthew home from the hospital exactly one year ago on New Years Eve. So no more excuses.  (please insert motivational comments below) Of course, this also means eating and cooking healthier not just for myself but for my family as well.  All recipe suggestions are welcome as comments!

2. More reading, less television. For the whole family.

3. I will at some point in 2011 have organized closets. I started this past weekend with Jake’s closet and my goal is to tackle one closet per month for the year including the toy closet, the linen closet and the arts and crafts closet.  Suggestions for easy organizing tips are welcome.

4. I will not try cheesy new gimmicks on my blog like making it fake snow.  Ooops – too late.

5. I will try harder to like red wine. It might take lots of practice.

6. I will finish the scrapbook I started.  I left off at Jake’s first haircut….

7. I will say no. I will no longer over-commit myself which last month resulted in baking gingerbread men until 2 AM because “it’ll be a snap” to whip them up for the school holiday party. (partially because I procrastinated baking them until the night before)

8. I will no longer procrastinate important projects.  Please note: closet organization and scrapbooking  are not classified as important.

9. We will volunteer as a family together at a soup kitchen.

10. I will get my vegetable garden to actually grow this summer.

So, there you have it – my New Year’s Resolutions for 2011.  What are yours?

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Merry Hanukah, Happy Christmas

Being raised in a modern Orthodox Jewish home, showing any signs of Christmas spirit was considered taboo.  The movies, the music, the decorations in every store was like a cruel reminder that I could spectate but never partake. When I was little, I would hang my actual argyle knee socks from the mantle in hopes that Santa might be feeling a little generous even for the Jewish boys and girls.  My dad even let me put cookies out one year for Santa because I thought for sure he might come. And he did – with a random assortment of office supplies that my dad probably grabbed on his way out the door including “Passo Insurance” calendars, memo-paper and a “Void,” “Draft” and “Paid” stamp set. Just what every little girl dreams of.  They tried, my good parents – but as much as I hoped the Christmas Miracle would bless our home, a part of me always knew there was no Santa.

For that reason, it is even more important for me to protect that pure and innocent belief in my own children. Every night their excitement builds as they ask how many more days until Santa comes. Jake, the inquisitive boy that he is needs to know every detail of Santa Clause.

How does he know what toys I already have?

How does he get to every single house in one night?

Will he still come even though he knows I’m Jewish?

What happens if someone is making a fire when he comes down the chimney?

Doesn’t Santa have his own children?

Who will buy Santa his presents?

Of course I answer as best I can, having no experience in really knowing what to say but still he believes. To me, none of this is about the toys or the gifts or what we spend – it’s about protecting that sweet innocence that they have, in believing that there is something magical that happens one night a year.  Knowing they believe makes it all worth it.

This year, we lit our Menorah every night with pride and celebrated for 8 straight nights with various friends, family and of course presents. I do everything I can to make Hanukah exciting, special, eventful and festive for my family but I feel Christmas is just as special. To me, it’s not about the religious meaning (obviously).  It’s about celebrating the magic of childhood.

Whatever you celebrate this year – I hope that it is filled with magical family memories your children will cherish for years to come.

In that, we can all believe.

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Wordless Wednesday

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Observations of a Road Warrior

I spend on average nearly 3 1/2 hours a day, three days a week in my car commuting to and from work.  Here are a few of my most recent observations as a Road Warrior:

  1. Why do people driving minivans feel the need to promote the members of their family in stick figure caricatures on a bumper sticker? If you’re already driving a minivan, I don’t think any further clarification is necessary. Plus, you are giving all of us other really cool minivan drivers a bad rap. Just sayin.
  2. If you text while driving near me I will roll down my window and publicly humiliate you.
  3. Are you really saving money when you wait in a line at the pump that is 15 cars deep with your engine running just because it’s 5-cents-off Thursday?
  4. The hash browns at Dunkin Donuts are surprisingly delicious.
  5. If anyone knows how to adapt a car plug for my crock pot, I could simmer beef stew while sitting in bumper to bumper traffic on 93 North and have a hot dinner on the table when I walk in.  I’m not kidding. If you know an electrician that can help me pull this off, I might let you in on the patent when this thing hits QVC this holiday season.
  6. When the gaslight in my car goes on, I find the challenge exhilarating to see just how far I can make it.  And with my 5 for 5 record of never once running out, I think I’ve really got it down.
  7. I’m thinking of trying books on tape.  Any suggestions?
  8. Attention Verizon: There is one spot in the tunnel at the end of Storrow Drive where I always drop my calls. If you could have that resolved, I’d greatly appreciate it.
  9. I always give a courtesy wave when someone lets me merge in front of them.  It really pisses me off when other drivers don’t abide by the same etiquette.
  10. Is it gross that I sometimes finish my morning coffee that is still sitting in the cup holder, on my commute home?

Commuting sucks. There is no doubt about it. I sit in my car every day and think about the millions of other things I could be doing if only I had that extra 3 hours. But, as much as I complain about my horrific commute, I’m still the one that feels guilty. Because  let’s face it, while I have a few quiet hours to gab on the phone and listen to music, my poor husband is left getting all three kids dressed, fed and off to daycare, school, etc.  then does it all over again in reverse that night.

Chris, you are the real Warrior.

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Waiting for perfect

I consider myself a ‘Patriots widow’ because my husband has seasons tickets.  This means that at minimum – 8 Sundays a year I am left to fend for myself from about 8 a.m. until well after bedtime with all three kids. As if working full time, three kids, volunteering at the school, doing a half ass job at writing a kick ass blog, etc. isn’t enough – I get to add Single Parent Sundays to the list starting each September. Last year, I was in my third trimester during football season. I remember Sunday afternoons when I would literally stick the kids in the bathtub for two hours straight just to kill time and keep them contained to one place while I sat on the floor, read magazines and stuffed myself with Smartfood.

At least this year I’m not pregnant.  But that means that the baby that was once so nicely contained in my womb is now on the loose as a fully functioning 9 month old. So, as usual I was expecting this past Sunday to be a rough one. For starters, it was drizzling out which automatically killed any hopes for inducing outdoor exhaustion. And, said 9 month old is teething so badly he actually drew blood from gnawing at his fist – poor thing. So there I was –  with all three kids to myself, an empty fridge, a laundry pile that gives my dish rack a run for its money and a bad hair day to top things off. Yep. Bring on Sunday Funday.

First things first, I decided a trip to the grocery store was in order. If I can’t let them tucker themselves out by playing outside then I still have the old faithful,  stuff-their bellies-into-a-food-induced-nap option.  Into the minivan we went. Matthew still in his sleeper, Jake in his favorite Star Wars T-shirt, Addison in her Cozy Pants (anything fleece material automatically bestows the title Cozy)  and rain boots.   We sludge into Market Basket, which on a rainy Sunday Morning is probably about as packed as the parking lot that my carefree, child-less husband is currently tailgating at with a cold beer in hand.  The only difference is that the grocery store is filled with wet frazzled women with crying babies and the parking lot is filled with celebratory child-free, cold beer drinking guys. But I digress…

Naturally I hit the free coffee station in the bakery first to give myself the liquid strength to go on, and grab a few sugary donuts to muzzle the kids for the next few isles.  Next I grab a couple of rotisserie chickens, multiple forms of wheat bread, snack foods, three variations of yogurt, Dinosaur chicken nuggets (a freezer staple) and other such sundries.  And before you know it, one cart is full and I still have half a list to go.  In hindsight, putting a 6 year old in charge of grocery cart navigation was probably not the best option but it was the only option at the time.  And he seemed to really enjoy bumper carts.  Two cart fulls later, we finish our shopping and lo and behold, the line is so long that there is literally a store manager charged with keeping rows of shoppers and their carts in single files.  Struck by a very temporary moment of genius, I grab a bag of party balloons from the isle end cap and let each kid pick which color they want me to blow up for them.  As Jake circles his sister, they burst out giggling at the giant “tail” he creates when he sticks the 12 inch banana shaped balloon between his legs. I proceed to pay, being careful not to make eye contact with any of the onlookers as he and Addison are now doubled over in hysterics at their new found inflatable body parts. Just another day at the grocery store.

Back at home, I kill the next hour letting the kids “help” unload groceries as Matthew crawls amidst a Mount Everest of plastic grocery bags in the middle of my kitchen floor.  As they help unpack bags asking where each item goes, I continue to stuff them further with slices of deli meat, yogurt tubes and juice boxes.

After settling Matthew down for his nap, I declare “It’s Movie Time” and make a big deal of getting them in their seats, dimming the lights and preparing them each a surprise snack tray of goodies. As I queue the movie, I notice eyelids are starting to droop. This is all part of my master plan.

Three sleeping children for three hours straight.  I’ve never hit the lottery but this must be what it feels like.

With a spotless house, an empty hamper and homemade matzo ball soup simmering on the stove they each wake up all sweet smelling and groggy.  We gather at the table over what tastes like home sweet home if it were a food, laugh at each other taking turns at making funny slurpy noises with our soup and eventually make our way to the family room for a game of Sorry together. Later that night when Chris got home, I followed him into the kids’ rooms to tuck them in one last time together, and with Jake still barely awake, Chris said to him,

“Hey buddy! How was your day?”

To which Jake responded,

“Perfect.”

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Wordless Wednesday

Oh how I love this boy

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Live. Laugh. Love.

I’m pretty sick of this expression too.  I feel like every home in America has this saying on a wooden plaque somewhere in their house.  It’s so overused that somewhere along the way it has totally lost its meaning and is now just a trendy expression.  But yet, I can’t think of a better way to describe what this past weekend was for us. We spent the weekend with good friends and their two amazing kids, Sabrina and Noah at our family’s lake house.  And we lived. And we laughed.  And we loved.

  • We dined outside on lobsters and Filet Mignon at sunset overlooking the lake
  • We enjoyed a boat ride while the kids marveled at the sites, like Turtle Rock

  • We belly laughed at Addison’s literal portrayal of Chirades
  • We quietly observed the sweet beginnings of friendship, as Sabrina whispered to Jake, “I think we might be becoming a little bit best friends.”

  • We bounced ourselves dizzy on the trampoline

  • We witnessed an important milestone in Sabrina’s childhood – fishing for the very first time!

  • We enjoyed many cocktails without needing a designated driver
  • We staged an impromptu photo shoot. Because we could
  • We went tubing with our kids off the JetSki and relished in their squeals of delight
  • Not once did we check email, use a cell phone or plug anything in that starts with a lowercase “i”
  • I actually beat my husband at something for the first time in 8 years
  • Matthew cut his two front teeth without so much as a whimper

  • We lasted an entire weekend without ever needing to utter the words “time out”
  • We made a bonfire, roasted marshmallows and enjoyed a starry, starry night
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