Category Archives: Note to self…

update on the past month, part 2

Other things we’ve been up to this month…

(1)  Exploring!

Here we are at NC State’s “farm day”.  Note to self: pack vegetarian lunches next year.  Otherwise, S may look at the animals walking around in their pens and ask questions like, “Is that turkey like the turkey I just ate for lunch?” and you will have to field panicked looks from nearby families until you say something misleading like “NO ONE is going to eat THAT turkey!!!”  (and at least one mother will mouth the words “thank you” as you’re leaving.)

S milking a pretend cow. There were also bunnies to pet, calf statues to lasso, and free ice cream. I thought T would like the “touch a tractor” section, but he just yelled “Big Scary Truck!” as we moved away.  I guess he’s used to the matchbox versions.

We also visited the big museum about 40 minutes away (a special outing for us!).  Friends gave us passes they weren’t using (thank you!), and we had an absolute blast.  T fed his train obsession in this exhibit.

T could have happily played here for the entire day.

And how about this sign at the exit of that exhibit?

It’s like they knew T was coming…

(2)  Celebrating!

Our cousins had lots of birthdays, so we have been to their house for a “Tangled”-themed treasure hunt, to a park near their house for their one-year-old’s cake smashing soiree, and to a pasture within that park to just admire the horses and views.  (Thank you, cousins!)  One photo, from my brother, who is by far my favorite photographer (as long as he’s not taking “work photos” of my children, i.e. “X-rays”…)  Can you believe this photo was taken by someone who just plays around with the camera during the off-time from his Orthopedic Surgery practice?

S in the white, E in the green, cousin G with the long ponytail and cousin E in his superman cape.  Childhood captured in photo.

(3)  Hanging around

Check out E on the swing in our backyard.  Photo credit to my brother again.  How much about spring and childhood and E is captured in this one photo of her muddy feet?  Volumes, I tell you.

(4)  Fishing!

Nana got the kids a fishing pole AND managed to disassemble the pole and fix it after I broke it (thank you, Nana!).  Since I clearly don’t know how to handle a rod, dad took over the casting lessons, and the kids had a blast.

Noteworthy: the kids will spend an hour catching minnows and tadpoles in their nets at the local pond and collecting them in a water filled bowl that we pour back into the pond before we leave.  Here are E & T inspecting their catches with Nana…

Also noteworthy: the girls “fished” for an hour with dad with a plastic stopper on the end of the reel (i.e. no bait or hook) and were thrilled with the experience.  I can’t imagine what they will do when we actually introduce the idea that you could use the pole to catch a fish.

(5)  Trying to keep our heads above water in terms of housework

With this much fun going on, mom has had to work overtime to simply keep our familial feet underneath us.  Exhibit A: every few weeks I have to go through a pile that looks like this to pull any artwork or projects we want to save.

This process deserves a post of its own.  Stay tuned.  Then there’s the normal stuff.  I mentioned before that I lost the battle with the laundry.  I fared only slightly better in the kitchen.  And Nana saved me with regards to everything else.  (see below)

(6)  Spent time with Nana!

Nana’s visit was devoted to catching up, hanging out, and pitching in. In addition to fishing, playing, taking the kids to several museums (T was adorable riding the train at the local science museum and still asks to “go ride James” again at least every other day), Nana just rolled up her sleeves and help me get some things done.

More detail?   I am just out of the first trimester of pregnancy, which means I am still exhausted, but also feeling my version of a nesting instinct.  Much to my husband’s dismay, I have no desire to clean, but an overwhelming urge to organize and declutter (my normal instinct, but taken to a fever-pitch during pregnancy).  The end result: During pregnancy, I am desperate to get organized but too tired to actually do it, which leaves me very frustrated.  While she was here, Nana helped me sort through the kids outgrown clothes and she watched the kids and took care of lots of everyday things (the kitchen! the laundry!) while I tackled the attic, my desk, the bankbook, and several projects that have been languishing on my “to-do” list literally for years.  Thank you, Nana!  We loved playing with you and are so appreciative of all the help.  (I haven’t listed everything you helped me catch up on because I am embarrassed that I was that far behind!)

More updates coming…have I mentioned that it’s been a busy month?!

Lots of Birds (and two chick-flicks)

Note to self and husband: Do not park under the tree at the northeast corner of the church parking lot.

If you can't see the image clearly, know that the car is covered in approximately 5 billion bird turds.

I decided to torture you with a close-up.

Additional note to self and husband: Next time, if the car looks like the pictures above, one of us should keep the children at a safe distance while the other moves the car to a safer space to load all the kids.  (Dibs on staying with the children, by the way.)

Note to dry cleaner: Our apologies.  Clearly, these were not healthy birds.

Note to Birds:  I believe my husband is in danger of going all “Steel Magnolias” on your tail feathers, should you leave the sanctuary of the church parking lot.

And a final note, to readers (because I can’t resist): When I asked my husband if he felt “going all ‘Steel Magnolia’ ” on the birds was too feminine a reference for his intended actions (despite the guns and firecrackers involved in that scene of the film), he said, “Isn’t ‘Steel Magnolias’ a movie?  The only part I’ve ever watched is the scene where Kathy Bates rams that convertible over and over again in the parking lot.  I didn’t even know about the birds.”  (Extra point to anyone who can name that non-Steel Magnolias movie!)

Clearly I can use whatever reference I like, as this man is in absolutely no danger of being too closely associated with chick-flicks.

These birds, on the other hand, are in more danger than they know.

Note to Self (re: Christmas errands)

Background: S collects pennies.  Santa is planning to bring her a roll of them on Christmas morning, and has asked me to help out by picking them up at the bank.

Note to self: Make this errand the top priority during your very brief window of time with no older children tomorrow.

Otherwise, you will end up at the bank tomorrow afternoon with all three children.  While there you will try to discretely purchase the roll of pennies.  This will likely involve (1) sliding a note to a bank teller asking for a roll of pennies, (2) alerting a security guard who has been trained to look for people who slide notes to bank tellers, and (3) being labeled the most pathetic bank robber in history by an evening newscaster who highlights the fact that your demands included 100 pennies and three suckers for the kids.

Some days the “to do” list is more pressure laden and excitement filled than others…

Merry Christmas everyone!

(Update: I wrote this a week ago, but neglected to post it…I am happy to report that I accomplished the errand while the girls were at school and was not arrested.  Happy holidays indeed!)

Note to self (re: navigational systems)

Note to self:

When the building you need is located on “Six Forks Road”, borrow your husband’s GPS.

Seriously.   Six Forks.   You’d think that would have been my first clue that I was in way over my head.

On the upside, I did find the building – and within it – a consignment sale where I struck gold by discovering, among other things, a pair of $1 ballet slippers for S (my budding ballerina) and an $8 Halloween costume for E (who is desperate to be Princess Jasmine this year).

So what if I spent approximately one-zillion-dollars on gas?!

Note to self (re: American Gothic)

Note to self:

Check the church calendar before volunteering to weed the church preschool’s playground on a random weekday evening.

Failure to check could result in weeding on the first night of formal church directory photos.

Of course, mid-weeding, the children will inevitably have to poop, which will require that the family enter the building bearing garden tools and covered in dirt and sand from the playground.

The end effect of this will be a moment in which fellow parishoners believe you have arrived for photos looking like Ma and Pa American Gothic with their three dust bowl children.

American Gothic, but in our version, you would have to picture me in a ratty T-shirt, my husband in a baseball hat, and three kids with tangled hair and faces covered in dirt

(and no, we did not, despite some ill-founded encouragement from some highly entertained friends, opt to sit for our photos…

…though maybe we should have…one of the things we love about our church is that you are encouraged to come as you are!)

Beach Vacation Recap!

We are back from our beach vacation!  It was fantastic!  And we are so grateful to some wonderful folks who made it possible.  They get the first shout-outs on this “beach vacation edition” of our traditional post-travel game.

That’s right.  It’s time for another edition of “shout-outs and boo-hiss”!


–       To our beloved “outlaws” (i.e. my sister’s inlaws) who loaned us their beach house.  Hello beautiful beach, wonderful pool, fantastic playground, amazing home, and a setting that inspires quantity and quality time with family.  Thank you, thank you, thank you outlaws.  Please take us up on our offer to host you anytime!

–       To my beloved inlaws, who joined us for the vacation and unexpectedly extended our trip several days by renting a nearby condo.  (How fantastic is that?!)  Thank you for that, and for everything else, including making the trip from NY, the wonderful meals, fun art supplies and such great time with the kids.  In case you are wondering whether they felt the love, while we were floating out in the ocean with E & S (while you were graciously listening out for the napping T in our house), S told me “I saved you and dad from that wave, mom.  But you know, if you and dad had floated away, I know Grammy and Grandpa would take care of us.”  That is a grandkid who feels secure with her extended family (although clearly not completely secure in the ocean).  And don’t worry, we would never float away (for more than 2 weeks… to a tropical island… with at least one pay phone… where you might be able to reach us… what was I talking about again?)

–       To the kids.  Have I mentioned recently how much I love this age?  They are up for anything.  On this trip: kites, sandcastles, swimming, a game of “Pretty Princess”, several card games (some high intensity “Ursala” – the Disney version of “old Maid” – from this crew) and Jenga.  We also carried our dramatic productions seaside, with many presentations of the little mermaid movie.  (Script includes covering legs with sand, having mom play the mean witch who traps the mermaids voice in a seashell during a mermaid song, and a dramatic moment where the legs emerge from the sand as Ariel becomes human).  Note to self: Beach is not the place for reproducing the Tinkerbelle movie, since although pixie dust in the face equals flying fairy, sand in the face equals crying sibling. 

–       To the local surfer who let our girls touch his surfboard.  They had just spent 10 minutes watching surfers ride the waves and then got to meet “a real surfer!” and feel a real board.  You’re cool with us, man.

–       To Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help, for reminding me that a book is the ultimate escape (well, right next to a beach vacation).

–       And finally, to the Turtle rescue center we visited with the kids.  Totally volunteer run.  Totally important.  Totally amazing.  What a great thing for the animals.  And what a great thing for the kids . . . I just love it when they get an opportunity to meet people who are actually working every day to make the world better in a way that they can – at their young ages – really understand.  We are now all about turtles, by the way.  (Well, turtles, surfers, mermaids, and of course still princesses and cowgirls.  What can I say…with 2 minute attention spans, we have time for a little bit of everything…but turtles are an important addition to the list.)


–       Boo-hiss to the fisherman who accidentally caught “Lennie” the Sea Turtle in his net and reacted by smacking Lennie in the head, permanently blinding him.  Lennie is now a lifetime resident of the rescue center and the favorite patient of E & S.  We’ll tell you what we told the girls: that the fisherman (who we did not meet, but heard about when listening to Lennie’s story) made a mistake and has hopefully learned a better way to react if it happens again.  Still… he earns a boo-hiss, and S delivered the ultimate punishment as we left the building.  “I am not inviting that fisherman to my birthday party.”  Sorry, man.  Her birthday is in February.  That gives you 6+ months to make some serious amends.

–       To the worst ice cream man in history.  This guy earns his own blog post.  Stay tuned.

–       To the end of summer vacation.  I just love long summer days with the kids, and I have especially enjoyed these special months knowing that E starts Kindergarten this week.  Can you believe she is big enough to go to Kindergarten?  Wasn’t she born, like, two weeks ago?!

But . . . we still have a few days of summer left to enjoy, so I’m off to enjoy them. More vacation details coming soon!

Note to self (re: beach vacations)

When discussing our upcoming vacation with the children (we can’t wait!), refer to it as “a trip to a beach”, not “a trip to the beach”.

Otherwise, your 5 year old daughter will assume that her two close friends – who are also going to “the beach” this weekend – will be there to fly kites and build sand castles with us.  This could mean a half-hour conversation about how we’re going to all going to have a great time!  Just at different places…

Of course, while attempting to correct the misunderstanding, I managed to convince E that everyone would be scattered on different beaches around the globe.  This was devastating, as she had been so looking forward to being at “the beach” with Grammy and Grandpa.

Egads. Can we start all conversations about this beach vacation over?  Where’s the reset button?

Deep breath.

We are going to a beach with Grammy and Grandpa.  Your two friends are each going to their own, different beaches (i.e. not with us and not with each other).  We will not see them at “our” beach, but we will see them when we get back home.  Once at home, we will tell them all about the sand castles you built at a beach with Grammy and Grandpa.  (This, finally, made E smile.)

Whew.  I need a vacation . . .

Oh, right!  I’m getting one!

(That means a break from blogging for a week or so, but I’ll be online again when we get home!)

Notes to self . . . re: travel

– When traveling on a budget, the plan to stay at Marriott and pay with points is a good one.

– When on a 12+ hour drive with three children (i.e. with passengers who prevent any sort of accurate prediction of (a) how far you will get within a given timeframe or (b) what sort of timeframe you have before people melt down), the plan to “drive until we’re about to drop” then calling customer service to find the nearest Marriott is a good one.  (Hey, there are over 3,000 Marriotts in the US alone).

Despite this, a new note to self:

Self, when your trip is through hills of West Virginia, “just stopping at the next closest Marriott” is not the best plan.

It turns out that…

– only 13 of the 3000 Marriotts are in West Virginia

– only 2 of these are on the route from New York to home

– and (despite our eagerness to stop and the need to shower after being in the smelliest rest-area restroom ever with 2 children asking – at full volume – why the person in the next stall is making such a loud and stinky poop) the closest Marriott on our route will be over 100 miles away.

On the upside (for me), it was my husband who took the girls to the restroom (sorry for laughing at you, hon!), we made excellent time leaving the rest area (as you can imagine, with my horrified husband driving), and the hotel was lovely once we arrived.

Still lovin’ ya’, Marriott!  and our sincere apologies to whoever was having those GI issues in that West Virginia rest-stop restroom stall . . .

Dance recital! (& a neglected “note to self”)

E & S had their first dance recital yesterday!  They – and their ballerina friends – were all adorable and amazing, and everyone had a fabulous time.

With kids this young (the 3-5 year old class), they do the rehearsal immediately before the recital.  This gives the tiny dancers a fighting chance at remembering which way they should twirl at any given moment.  It also gave proud parents two chances to film the festivities.  I must say, we are very happy that my husband decided to hold – and use – the video camera during the rehearsal, because during the actual recital he was holding S.

I guess we hyped her recital so much that she wanted to see it!

Or maybe she just wanted to snuggle her dad, who had made a special effort to be there.  How cute is that?

While S warmed her daddy’s heart, E charmed us all with her twirls and a rendition of the chicken-dance that involved hula hoops.  Simply fantastic.

Such an event can only be improved by an impressive after-party, which we achieved by traveling to the Wendy’s across the street with another ballerina’s family to order junior frosties en-mass.

Even T got a frosty; he earned it after 6 weeks of being awakened during every Monday nap to accompany his sisters to ballet lessons.  So much for sleepy summer days, T!  Oh well, this kid wakes me up enough at night that he deserves at least a little payback, and if you had seen him eating the frosty, you would know that for T, all-is-well-that-ends-well.

Before I conclude, I must insert a ballet-related “note to self” that I wrote two weeks ago but neglected to post:



Note to self:

If a child seems to be falling more than usual during ballet class, do not assume she is simply the unlucky one who has inherited your “natural grace” and “impressive balance” (the quotes imply sarcasm).

Instead recall that today is the day she put on her own tutu, with no assistance from mommy (!).  This likely means that both of her legs are in the same leg-hole of the tutu, making it difficult to stand, walk or dance.


Returning to the recital blog…

I would like to thank you for inviting us to your dance recital, E & S!  We’re thrilled you enjoyed your summer ballet class.  May you always dance through life just as you danced through the recital:  happily and with the knowledge that if you need a break or a just a snuggle, you can come to your parents for hugs anytime.


Note to self… (re: T & toilet paper)

Note to self:

T’s obsession with unrolling toilet paper in our house bathrooms does not mean that giving him a roll to play with on our 25+ hour road trip is a good idea.

This is especially true if at any point during the previous hour, he has enjoyed a ring pop, since sticky baby + charmin extra soft = an infant who appears to have been tarred and feathered.