Thursday, April 30, 2009

Travel Plans

I am not what you would call and avid traveler.  But when I was younger, my parents took us on some significant trips - mostly cruises.  They seemed to be a big fan of hitting the open waters on a luxury cruiser.  These days I would be less inclined with the threat of dysentery and the rise of missing newlyweds, but again, not really my point. 

I believe it was a cruise along the west coast of Mexico that is now infamous for my father's kelly green pants.  As it would turn out, our luggage never made it from the tarmac to the cruise ship.  Being that we were headed to somewhere "tropical", my father was dressed to the nines in kelly green pants, pants which he would be stuck wearing for a few days.  After that trip, the Dattoli's made a point of always packing essentials in our carry-on.  This included all important toiletries, a change of clothing, underwear, et al., and a bathing suit, so that we would never be stuck in kelly green again.

It was years later that my luggage was once again lost.  Fortunately, it was on the way home from my honeymoon in Barabados.  If your luggage is going to be lost, this is the time to lose it - I was going home to all my other, non-tropical clothing that I left behind in my closet.  As my husband and I waited to see what the deal was from the (insert tone of sarcasm) fully capable airport employees, we learned that our luggage was held up in Philadelphia.  A connection, by the way, that had us literally sprinting from our connection flight (insert sarcasm) while fully capable airport employees assured us our luggage was all set.  From the back of the crowd we heard a woman's voice, "Oh No!  There is fish in my luggage!"  

As I am preparing to head to Florida for seven days with my children, I am living on the edge and not packing very much in my small carry on (diaper bag) but diapers, and necessities to keep Natalie occupied for the two and a half hour trip.  I know that this is incredibly risky, but since my luggage has not been lost in seven years, I am willing to take the chance.  And we are going to Disney World, the American symbol of commercialism.

While I may not be prepared with anything other than a Visa, there are two things that are certain:

1.  None of my family will be dressed in bright green clothing.
2.  Any fish we purchase will be shipped to the house directly.

10 Things

Before my daughter was born and we were trying to pick out a name, my husband's cousin told me to stand at the kitchen sink and yell both the first name and middle name to get in here right now.  I did this and it is incredibly effective.  It is amazing  how there are some things that are just innately "mommy".

Ten things I never thought I'd say

  1. Because I said so
  2. Because I'm the mommy that's why
  3. Period.  End of discussion
  4. Because I asked you to
  5. Don't make me come down there
  6. We can do this the easy way or the hard way, which do you want?
  7. Do me a favor and just try to go potty...
  8. Well, this what we are having for dinner.
  9. You asked for it, you are going to eat it.
  10. NATALIE GABRIELLE, get your little tushie  in here RIGHT NOW!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

You Know You're Old When...

It would seem that once you realize you are getting older, life throws things in your face to make it all the more obvious.  Like when you get a new car and suddenly you see that car everywhere you go.

Yesterday, we travelled to Holly's house to celebrate her son's third birthday.  If being with your college roommates and the five children among the three of you doesn't let you know how old you are, the sixteen-year-olds who are all over each other for seven hours will.   But that isn't really my point.

In between "tubbies" and diaper changes, Holly brought me into her room to show her the box of high-end-hand-me-downs from her twenty-something cousin.  The box included, but was not limited to, a really nice pair of camel leather boots, which will never be worn, because they are not at all functional for running after children.  A cropped sweater, the kind that just covers the boobs, and some sort of black/sparkly silver striped strapless top, which I immediately judged (shocking, I know) and told Holly she could never wear unless she were attending some form of Pimp and Ho party.  And consequently, if she is attending such party, I hope, for her sake that she doesn't tell me, as she will be ridiculed mercilessly.  We had a good laugh over this box of too revealing clothing and ultimately at ourselves.  I shared with her how I went out the other night looking for "practical" there such a thing?  But there I was in the store trying on Born sandals and looking for something that had a little more cushion to them then my trusty J. Crew ones.

I believe this may be the gateway to Easy Spirit sneakers and elastic waist jeans.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ignorance is Bliss

Tonight, at the dinner table, I couldn't mask some abdominal pain I was feeling.  I took a couple of deep breaths and bent over (to acheive what, I don't know).  Perhaps I thought if I moved around, I would somehow shift whatever internal organ was paining me at the moment.  Dan looked at me and asked if I was having a silent heart attack.  I think he was kidding, but the pain in my abdomen was quickly forgotten as I began to feel a tightening in my chest.  No, I was not having a heart attack, panic attack maybe - there is something new I need to worry about?  It wasn't enough that I worry about having a stroke, now I have to worry about a silent heart attack?  I added it to my list of things that could make any person go insane - another thing to fret over, should I be medicated?Does this makeup have SPF?Do these articles of clothing have SPF?Face, Arms, Speech, Time - am I having a stroke?Will this lower our cholesterol?Do I drink too much caffeine? Aspartame? Sucrolose? High fructose corn syrup?Partially hydrogenated oil?Fully hydrogenated oil?Low fat?Low carb?Sugar free?Glutten Free?Whole wheat?Whole grain?Multigrain?

My mind went into a complete paranoid tailspin.

Did June Cleaver ever serve skim milk rather than whole becuase Ward and the boys had high cholesterol? Was Carol Brady micromanaging- making sure that Alice's porkchops and applesauce were no sugar added and organic?  It all used to seem so simple.

I may not be having a heart attack at the moment, but my head hurts.  

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Joe Joe the Bro Bro

This morning, in the wee hours, I'm talking 3:30am, while I was up feeding Joey, I realized how much I cherish those quiet times that are not being dictated by his sister's schedule.  Poor Joe, although he doesn't now it yet,  he has the common misfortune of being born second.  I can totally empathize with him, being secong myself. 
But in the dark of his room, while it is just the two of us, I thought he needs a little spotlight to himself, and I began to think about all the little things in which I lose myself and fall in love with him over and over again.

  • His tiny little ear lobes that are so easy to kiss while his sleepy head is resting on my shoulder
  • His tiny little baby feet that still fit into my hands
  • The gummy little smile that he offers me when I take him out of his crib in the morning.
  • The way he brings his hands together, Montgomery Burns style, like he is plotting something wonderfully mischevious.
  • His baby smell
  • The way his his miniature fingers wrap around mine with a grip that feels as though he never wants to let me go
  • His dazed and confused stare-- the moment of calm just before he is going to fall asleep in his chair
  • Hearing his tiny little boy laugh which consequently makes the rest of us laugh
  • The way he looks, so lovingly,  at his big sister.
  • The fact that he will let me and appreciates that I want to kiss him all the time, and doesn't put a number limit on my kisses (like some other children in my house).

Friday, April 17, 2009

Holly Lee

As I checked my email this morning, I saw one titled "Birthdays"  from my dear friend, Holly.  I immediately assumed that this email would provide me with information about her son's upcoming party, you know, the time - minor details.  But instead, I found this amazingly well written realization of life, and I felt the need to share it with the eight of you.  Holly is one of my most important touchstones to reality and this email is one more testament to why she is so essential to my well being.  Another Jersey girl at heart she always tells me how it is - no sugar coating, no hugs and kisses, and for that I will always love her.  

What I have kept reminding myself is that hey, there are some advantages to being slightly over life's first real "hill": 

1. We know who we are and we know that who we are is exactly who we want to be. Always. If you don't like it go screw. I couldn't always say that.

2. How we look in a bathing suit is so much less important. Case in point "You look really good for having 2 kids". What the hell. I know that means "you're' a little flabby but you're a mom so no one's really looking & besides you're not  in your twenties anymore so what do you expect?" Why the hell did I used to think that everyone was always looking at me and rating me? They weren't. If I'd have known that I wouldn't have worried about sucking in my gut all the time and I would have relaxed at the beach since those days are over now. 

3.  Our husbands are also over the hill, & so are our friends. I couldn't be friends with a person in thier 20's...another case in point: my sisters. Love 'em but jeez,, the drama of the egocentric years of 24-26!

4.  This is it. This is the time that we will look back on as the time that we met with success. We run the house, take care of kids and babies, make sure everyone has everything that they could possibly need and want, settle every conflict, remember to pack every important item, feed our families healthy dinners, feed the dogs, occasionally vaccuum, bring in firewood, pay the bills, wake up to find the missing blankie or stuffed giraffey at 2 a.m., 3 a.m., & 5 a.m., know how to hold everyone just right, and sometimes, just sometimes, have a moment to breathe.  AND we do it all while looking pretty damned good.

5. I think if I had to pick I would freeze us right now. I just might stay 31 forever. At 29 I was pretty pregnant for the 1st time and not so sure what was up with  so many things.  This is soooo much better.

So, I guess what I am saying is that you can be sure that with every bit of blah-ness that goes along with the realization that after 30 it is theoretically all downhill from here there is the silver lining- downhill is the easy part. Maybe we will be able to relax and enjoy our lives and the people we love now that we are done setting everything up. 

By the way, good job on the trip to Jersey.  I for one know the anxiety that goes along with that.  There are no mall parking lots or rest areas that I have not stopped at to breast feed a baby, let someone sprinkle the parking lot, or clean up puke. All to visit family. Gotta love it. I love that you get it too.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Today I turn 31.  That number seems to sink like a cement block when I say it-- it has to be the most anticlimactic age.  It falls after a milestone like turning 19 or 22, but even then, I was  young and there were super exciting aspects of life ahead of me.

Last year, I was so sad that my twenties were ending because they were so, so good.  But the girls and I celebrated our thirtieth birthdays for three months straight-- celebrations from which we should still be hung over, and that seemed to sufficiently numb the pain of entering my thirties.  Now we are turning 31 and there are no parties; it is a quick phone call between running errands.  "I wanted to wish you a happy birthday before I forgot..."  How depressing. 

So, originally I thought I would research and find 31 fun facts about 31...I found two.  Baskin-Robbins of course has 31 flavors and 31 is a prime number. Woo hoo.

Then I thought 31 fun facts about me.  I stared at the number 1 for about 31 minutes before I moved on to a new thought.  Even more depressing than turning 31 is that I couldn't even think of 1 interesting thing about myself.  So sad.

It is a new decade that I need to embrace and I know there are many exciting things before me, so I will start a new trend... 31 is the new 22.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Solo Flight

I have made the journey from MA to NJ countless times.  But Friday marked the first time I have traveled on my own for three hours with two children.  This doesn't seem like it should be an issue, but the underlying anxieties take hold and make everything that much more difficult for me.  First, I have to worry if Joe Joe the Bro Bro is going to make it the whole trip.  Will he sleep the entire time?  Will he wail intolerably?  In an effort to control something, I tried to limit Natalie's liquid intake in the morning, in hopes that we would not have to stop at some random, filthy restroom or that she would have to "tinkle" while we were in one of those stretches of fifteen miles between rest stops.  Normally, fifteen miles would be nothing, but with two young children and the three hours ahead of us...well, think about the Gilligan's Island crew, they expected things to go better too.

It is never good to start off with worries because it inevitably creates a problem.  I left the house at 9:30 which was between my 9 and 10 planned time.  Good.  495 no traffic, Mass Pike, no traffic.  As I continued on the Pike, I realized it has actually been a long time since I have done this on my own.  Dan always takes 290 through Worcester, which I don't particularly care for, and as I was driving I started to question my surroundings.  West, yes I want to go west - not towards Boston.  Needless to say, anxiety got the better of me and I missed my exit for 84.  How does one miss an over sized green sign with a reflective 84 painted on it?  I am not really sure, but I did and as I entered Palmer, MA I knew something wasn't right.  We were forty miles in, twenty of which headed deeper west into MA than necessary, when Natalie innocently asked from the back seat, "How much longer?"
"Two and a half hours," I replied, silently cursing myself for not paying attention to clearly marked road signs.

"How many minutes is that?"

"190 minutes."

"190 minutes?  Oh.  I can handle that," she said and nonchalantly continued watching her DVD.

Deep breath.  If she can handle it, I suppose that I can too.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cut, Color, and Paste

I have always been a huge advocate in my classroom, when in doubt-- cut, color and paste. There is no age group above this activity.  With April rains making indoor days inevitable, I went back to my old standby to create some collage art.  I don't know what I am going to do with it now that it is made, but I can seem to stop myself from creating. 

~Tissue paper, card stock, yellow painted paper bag, corduroy

~Tissure paper, card stock, marker

~card stock, red felt, puffy paint

Friday, April 3, 2009

Natalie's Garden - A Work in Progress

I have made a major breakthrough regarding my issues with commitment and went ahead and painted away on Natalie's wall.  I took my pencil sketches and colored them, so I had a very clear and concrete image of what I wanted.  When I finally started to paint, I was at first I very careful to use my chalk outlines as a guide (which were there for over a week as I wavered whether or not to even complete this project).   With Joe Joe the Bro Bro as my cheerleader, cooing me into confidence and the soft lyrics from Rites of Passage, the irony of which was just noted now as I reflect, I went ahead and added more flowers.  These additions were totally freestyle, although they repeated flowers already designed.  It was liberating.  I mean obviously I knew that I could do it, otherwise I wouldn't have attempted it in the first place.  To undo what was done would be even more work.

Upon Natalie's arrival home, I told her to check out the flower garden I made for her.  

And with her four year old zest for everything she told me she loved it and then requested some ladybugs and a sunflower.  

This new found craft bravada has turned me into a creative tornado.  My craft to do list includes but is not limited to: knitting plastic bags, and I am feeling something regarding old baby clothes and canvas.

I will keep you posted on the progression.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Easter Basket

Having an almost-four-year-old daughter awards me the amazing priviledge of being able to relive my own childhood.  The beauty of being the parent in this relationship, is that I can provide all the fun "things" that I remember as well as try to offer "things" I wanted but didn't have.  

Today I was taking my weekly stroll through my local Target and was immediately sucked in by the dollar bins.  Now that Nat and I spend MUCH more time together, I am always looking for inexpensive ways to occupy the mind of a little girl and for a buck how can I say no?  Currently said bins are filled with materials to create Easter baskets.  Normally, I am not one to make a basket, Natalie+Candy=Frustrated Mommy,  but I thought maybe just a little bucket filled with some stickers, hairbands, and the like would be harmless, the little girl in me told me so.

So I find some stickers and hairbands and think to myself, Maybe I will just include one traditional piece of candy.  Jellybeans!  Mind you, I was looking for the tiniest bag of jellybeans I could find, the kind that is in the carrot-shaped plastic bag- one that is NOT attached to a stuffed animal or some other little toy; I just wanted the pure simple joy of jellybeans.  No luck.  Peeps!  Again, I want a little box with, like, two Peeps.  Not only could I not find anything but the bulk Peep - honestly, how many does a person need?  But where are the yellow Peeps?  Green, purple, bright pink...this is not the way I remember it.  Then I see it, PER-FECT...Pez.  It is a toy and a tiny little candy all at once.  I stared off in a daze as a montage of all my past Pez dispensers played in my head.  I am genius; she will LOVE it!  

I looked through the pile for one that was not too "eastery".  Something that would be less holiday and more just because everyone should experience the fun of Pez.  My eyes landed upon a little lamb, for my little lamb.  Then I saw it.  The tiny package of brown Pez. Huh?  Chocolate Pez?  (slow motion) Noooooooooooo!  Orange Pez, Strawberry Pez that it is the way it was meant to be.  THAT is the way it was when I was a kid! 

I did not buy this for her.  I refuse to taint the purity of Pez in a world where so many things are already wrong that I am unable to control.  And this, my friends, is why I shouldn't have made a basket to begin with.