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tyler scan 3I remember being very worried before Tyler was born, how was I possibly going to love this new baby as much as I loved my first. Seems silly now, looking back, but at the time I was genuinely concerned. The second that I saw him though, I fell in love hard and it became instantly apparent how a mom’s heart grows to love each and every one of her kids as if he or she was the only one. Today, 22 years later, it’s hard to imagine what my life was life before he was a part of it.

tyler scan 1When one says that time flies, the young scoff. As you get older though you realize that it really does fly by in the blink of an eye. In my mind, I see the adorable kid with the infectious smile in these pictures. Before me, stands a young man that I am proud to call my son. He is intelligent, funny, kind, thoughtful, quiet and sincere. In many wonderful ways he reminds me of his dad, particularly when they both gang up to pick on my lack of musical recall. (The Red Hot Chili Peppers are seared into my brain thanks to him). He is my forever date to go to a Tracy Chapman concert with (if and when she ever tours again) and to see the Northern lights. The partner who gets to spend her life with him will be one lucky girl because he gives his heart fully and completely. He will be a wonderful champion for our environment as he embarks on his career upon graduation.

tyler scan 2My wish for his 22nd birthday is that he realizes just how special and talented he is goes out into the world. The world is lucky to have him, as am I.

Happy birthday Tyler, love you!


PS – Yes, I get to post the toddler pictures, it’s part of the reward for going through the birthing process. 🙂




Tomorrow will be the last day of school for Tim. It will also be the last day of school for this mom, and this family, marking the end of an era. Tomorrow I will get up, make my last school breakfast and pack my last school lunch. I will send my (not so) little one off for his last day of high school. A week ago, we watched his last choral concert and celebrated our last music awards. Next week, we will sit through our final academic awards ceremony and we will enjoy our last high school graduation ceremony, with all its smiles and tears. It is but one of the many “lasts” that one experiences as the parent of the baby of the family who is growing up and heading off to college in the fall. Not much is written about the “lasts”, particularly when one considers exactly how saturated the media is with a child’s “firsts”– the first smile, the first steps, the first birthday, the first day of school. You can hardly throw a rock without coming across an article either making parents feel guilty or worried about those “firsts” – will you miss them, will you do the right thing when they happen, will you be there to preserve that first for all eternity?

Hardly anyone talks about the “lasts” associated with parenthood, but they are just as important. For many of us they signify a parental transition from moms and dads of school age children to empty nesters with kids off in the real world. I won’t lie, there is sadness in seeing 18 years of a set pattern of child raising ending and a comfortable routine coming to an end. Despite my occasional grumblings, for this mom, there will be no more high school concerts, no awards ceremonies, no prepping school lunches, signing homework or permission slips, baking for bake sales, and writing absence notes. No more need to juggle school, music and social calendars along with work obligations and meetings. Those days come to a screeching halt with the last day of school. It is sad, it is hard and it can make you cry (and it has for this mom).

However, in my effort to see things in a positive light, the “lasts” are also a celebration. These “lasts” have their own story to tell. It is a beautiful story. The “firsts” speak of the foray into parenthood; they speak of the newness, the anxiety, the unknown and the awkwardness of being a first time parent with all the worry and sleepless nights that are yet to come.

The “lasts” though, they celebrate a job well done. The lasts signify that we are survivors. We have endured our children’s friendships, broken bones, illnesses, academic challenges, teenage angst, stresses and broken hearts. We have survived the teenage years (for the most part) without strangling anyone, especially our children. We have lived through our children learning to drive and stayed up waiting on curfews and the sound of a car pulling into a driveway, signifying a safe arrival home. We have laughed, cried, worried, yelled, fought and smiled through all those years of being a parent. All those years between the “firsts” and the present. We have come out the other side of high school with young men and young women we can be so very proud of as human beings. We can sit back (just for a bit) and be amazed that these wonderful, kind, thoughtful, beautiful, giving, intelligent creatures came from our wombs. We can beam as our babies walk down the aisle for graduation. We can enjoy the felling of having our hearts swell 100x their size with pride and know that we have played a most instrumental part in shaping the young men and women that our children have become. We can send them off into the world knowing that we have done our best.

These “lasts” are wonderful memories of accomplishments and memories. They should be reveled in and celebrated as we embark on a new era in our, and our children’s, lives. Happy “lasts” to all of you and yours!

A friend’s friend posted this on Facebook. I simultaneously was laughing and crying because it’s exactly what I would say and what moms want. I had to share.

Thanks, Mary Carpenter for the great words!

So I’ve decided to be proactive and tell my kids what I want for mother’s day. Here it is:

What I Want for Mother’s Day

Dear Children,

Mother’s Day is coming up, and I thought I should tell you what I want. This way there’s no guilty panic or last minute purchasing of flowers at the closest gas station. So, this is what I want, this year and every year after; it’s pretty simple really.

I want you to be a decent human being.

I want you to be who you are, but don’t be an asshole.

I want you to work hard at everything you do, because life is too short not to give it everything you’ve got.

I want you to ask for help when you need it.

I want you to help others when they need it.

I want you to learn how to cook, do your own laundry, pay your bills and know how to clean a bathroom.

When you screw up, and you will, more than once, I want you to own it, because it’s the screw-ups that make the victories sweeter.

I want you to travel, because the world is huge and you are one part of it.

I want you to know that even when we hate each other, I will never stop loving you.

I want you to play nicely with others.

I want you to feed your curiosity.

I want you to find a way to do what you love, and realize that that might look different than you originally thought.

I want you to respect every human being’s right to be who they are.

I want you to sometimes be more interested in someone else than in yourself.

I want you to know that you are flawed and you are extraordinary. There is no one else like you.

I want you to know that I would lay down my life for you in Lily Potter fashion any day of the week.

I want you to realize how lucky you are every once in awhile even if only for an instant.

I want you to know love, even if it means getting hurt.

I want you to relax and not feel guilty about it.

I want you to know life can be brutally hard sometimes.

I want you to know that you can choose happiness even when the dark side offers you cookies.

And I wouldn’t mind breakfast in bed.

See, simple.



Lioness and cubs / Felis leo

Image via Wikipedia

I am generally a pretty mild mannered person. I don’t much like confrontation so I do my best to avoid it. However sometimes, out of the blue, you get the hairs on the back on your neck to stand up and that weird feeling rising from the pit of your stomach. Your ire is raised.

This in particular happens when one of my kids gets hurt or disappointed. As a parent and particularly, a mom I don’t think that there is anything worse than seeing disappointment or pain register on one of your kids’ faces. There is some primordial response that rises from the depth of a mother’s very being when that happens. The desire to protect, to fix it, to make it all right and to see that those that caused the hurt or disappointment are punished. It’s strange, because you cannot understand why you are feeling this incredible fierceness, this overwhelming protectiveness. It can turn a mild mannered person into a bit of a crazy woman. Sometimes you know the person or persons who did it and sometimes you don’t — it’s a total stranger. In either event, I think other mothers would agree with me when I say that whoever they are, you can feel like you want to hurt them because they hurt your baby — even if your baby is a teenager and whatever happened was obviously a misunderstanding. Rational thought freezes somewhere in your brain when the mama lioness in you lifts her head to protect her cubs.  It’s odd that it happens automatically, without any warning or control.

Amazing how humans really don’t vary much from animals in some contexts. The desire to protect, to shield and to fix it are there in all of us — human or beast.

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It’s always challenging when the boys are off from school and I work from home. My schedule is thrown into a tizzy – attorney me collides with mom me and all sorts of guilt comes along for the ride. I remember when I used to complain (to myself mostly) about how crazy they made me when all they wanted was food and someone to play with them. Now, thinking back on that I realize that I did have all the power.

I could tell them when to eat, what to eat, what to wear, what we were doing and miraculously they listened and they did as they were told. These days, everyone has a mouth and an opinion. Even a simple thing like lunch or dinner takes on new levels of difficulty when everyone can actually voice an opinion about it. I honestly can’t really remember the last time I cooked something that I wanted – now almost every meal is to either conform to 1) a time schedule – it’s what we can make and eat in the allotted time between activities, pickups, drop offs and the like; or 2) who’s eating with us – they have friends and their friends have likes and dislikes – vegetarian – vegan – you name it and I am not the type of person to throw food on the table and demand the attendees to “take it or leave it” (mostly because I guess that they would just leave it and me with a load of uneaten food); or 3) dietary issues – different from likes and dislikes these are medically restricted things such as my one son’s allergies (no nuts, peanuts, sesame or white fish on the menu) or my husband’s avoidance of foods that trigger a painful gout attack (no tomato, no beans, no spinach, no shellfish and the list goes on). I adjust, I occasionally grumble and complain, but I deal.

I could tell them that we were going out and they would get their coats on and go.. no grumbling, no complaining. Instead these days my plans revolve around their plans. Don’t get me wrong, I am eternally grateful that they are healthy and I am forever reminding myself when I grumble or cry how much worse it could be and how lucky I am. Yet, school vacation is always a challenge – conflicting desires, emotions.


World AIDS Day Ribbon
Image via Wikipedia

December 1st is World Aids Awareness Day.

No matter where you stand on the issue remember that out of the 33.3 million people around the world infected with HIV (making it the world’s most destructive epidemic) 2.5 million of them are children. Children, people.

Wear red to raise awareness.

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This past week has been hectic – this weekend has been no exception. We have three boys and they all seem to be doing different things in different places. I feel like I spend the better part of my life lately in the car, driving someone to someplace or picking someone up from someplace or waiting for someone. In between there has been cooking and doing laundry for those same someones. I was just cooking dinner for those same kids (well, and us too) and grumbling about how this whole day has been spent either dropping kids off or picking kids up – or at least so it seems.

I came in here and picked up my computer to see a tweet that a boy from Colchester (a young man actually, he’s 24) who had bone cancer and was due to marry his high school sweetheart in a couple months, died from his cancer. A smack in the side of the head – God telling me to quit my griping and enjoy my children and my life. I thankfully have healthy children that can be pains in the butt, but the alternative – well is just unthinkable. I am grateful. I promise not to complaint – at least for the remainder of today.

That’s what my grandmother would often say when one of us was upset about something falling on the floor or hands being dirty or some such thing. Her answer was simply “don’t worry about it, you’ll eat a peck of dirt before you die”, this usually resulted in a shrug from us kids since we didn’t quite understand what she was talking about, since no one really “eats” dirt, right?

A new study from the University of California School of Medicine have found that keeping a child too clean inhibits the skin’s inability to heal itself. According to The Guardian, researchers found that the bacteria that normally live on our skin trigger a pathway that helps prevent inflammation. Staphylcocci bacteria which are nasty when they get under our skin are actually acting as good bacteria when they are on the outside of our bodies. They reduce the inflammation in cuts, scrapes and prevent rashes to the skin.

The argument was raised that given our recent craze with anti-bacterial everything, there is a correlation to increased allergies in children. Dirt and germs in normal exposure is said to give children’s a better immunological response later in life.

So, seems Nanny might have been right, dirt may just be what the doctor ordered.

The strangest thing happened to me. The boys are off from school in a couple weeks for a teacher conference. Thinking that it would be nice to surprise the boys, who have been asking to take a trip to Burlington, we decided to book a hotel and stay overnight. Give the boys a chance to enjoy “the big city” and bring the grandparents along for a little mini vacation. Since Tom’s parents have not been to Burlington before, we wanted to stay right in town, within walking distance of the Lake and Church Street. I went onto to the Hilton’s website to book our stay. Tom stays at Hiltons when he travels and it just seemed natural to book our stay with them, rather than someplace else. I put in my search request for 2 rooms, 4 adults and 3 children. I came up with no available rooms. Odd, I thought since the first time through when we were playing with the idea in our minds, we had a plethora of room choices in differing price ranges. I tried several more times, playing with different configurations and came up with this conclusion – Hilton must dislike children. I could book the same rooms that I was trying to book with my three boys without them with absolutely no difficulty. The second I included children in the mix, suddenly I got the message “Sorry  no rooms meet your criteria” (Criteria – I am looking for 2 rooms with double queen beds) I don’t think that my criteria is too high – all I want is a room to sleep in. Evidently, this is not a problem as long as I don’t bring my children along for the ride. If I want them to stay with me, suddenly that room and all the other rooms in the hotel are suddenly “not available”. So, what conclusion can you draw – other than Hilton does not like or want my children in their hotel. I am disturbed by this, since Hilton doesn’t apparently like my children, especially since they have never met my children. I am the mother of three teenage boys, 12, 13 and 14 who are well-behaved, polite boy scouts who hold doors open for adults and have manners. They have stayed with us in hotels on many occasions and we have never, ever had any type of problem with them, so I honestly cannot understand why Hilton hates them and won’t let us reserve a room with them. Here are screen shots of my Hilton website experience:

Trying to make reservations with the kids:

Screen shot 2009-10-07 at 4.00.33 PM

Same reservation request – minus the children:

Screen shot 2009-10-07 at 3.59.25 PM

Eliminate the kids and suddenly – a plethora of room choices –

Screen shot 2009-10-07 at 3.51.53 PM

The only logical conclusion that I can come to is that Hilton’s website for reservations must be out of whack, I certainly cannot believe that this major hotel chain dislikes children and won’t let me book a room online with my kids, whom it has never met and therefore cannot dislike. Is it just my kids or does Hilton dislike children in general.  That would be discriminatory and just plain wrong. Hilton, we are trying to give you our money and you just don’t seem to want it! Please, oh please Hilton, say it isn’t so.

There is a romantic notion to “vacation”. It bespeaks lazy days, lazier nights, no obligations, no schedules, no place to be, no things that have to be done. I daydream about vacation. The destination is romantic, the weather is perfect, there is no stress. We get out of bed when we want, we go to bed when we want. We eat, drink and play on our own schedule.  And then, there is vacation with children. More work, especially when they are young, since going anywhere requires you to basically pack up your house and take it with you. But still, the schedule is pretty much your own. The adults rule, the adults pick the restaurant, the time for dinner, the sights to be seen and best of all, little children go to sleep early and are content with very little in the way of entertainment. A pail and shovel at the beach can keep them busy for hours. Vacationing with older children and/or teens is a bit harder. Everyone now has an opinion and of course when they are teenagers, everyone seems to think that they have a right to speak it. It should be easier, one would think to travel with older children, but not always. They are self-entertaining, surely, but they are equally constantly bored, constantly wondering what’s next, whether it be the next activity or the next meal. Plus feeding them is akin to watching pirana feed, it is obscene amounts of food, a flurry of activity, and it is all gone. Scary stuff. This morning, my oldest son put away a raspberry turnover, two pancakes, two scrambled eggs, bacon, home fries, toast and some of his brother’s donut holes. Truly amazing to watch. I gain weight just looking at him.

We are enjoying our time together. DSCN4895Here’s the gang that I am traveling with. I am one woman with 5 teenage/pre-teen boys. Missing is the man of my life, he was hiding from the beach that day. We are also traveling with my husband’s parents.

When the boys were little, I used to tell them that if they didn’t listen and follow the rules, we would have “chaos”. Being young, “chaos” sounded horrific and whatever it was, they knew that they didn’t want chaos. This afternoon, in this house, it is chaos. We have the plumber and his helper here installing a water softener, three kids – 2 of which are trying to do homework and projects that require a constant “Mommy!”, one playing x-box and yelling into his headset so loudly that my brains are rattling and his brother closed the door to the den, two dogs that are always a pain in my bottom and me — trying to write. Hahahahahaha… trying to write. I should know better. I don’t even know if I can recite my own name right now, much less pen a very comprehensive and coherent jury verdict report.

Time to put away the writing and run out the door to take a child to piano lessons. Just as well….I’m not getting anything worthwhile done here anyway.

Mondays as a general rule get a bad rap. No one likes Monday, songs have even been written about how much people don’t like Mondays. I think this in part has to do with the fact that if you sleep in over the weekend, Mondays are just that much harder to get up and back into a routine for when they roll around. Mondays are picked on just because they are the first day of the work/school week. If the days were rearranged, we would be writing about how much we don’t like Tuesdays (or Wednesdays, etc.)

Personally I think that the success to not hating Mondays is just to not alter your schedule that much over the weekend. For those of you with children, you know where I am coming from with this. We started this ski lesson session that lasts for 10 weeks and requires us to be OUT OF THE HOUSE by 8:15 on Sunday. Not to mention that on Saturday morning guitar lessons have us out of the house by just about the same time. So, therefore, Monday is not that bad. I am up at 6-6:15 but hey, I got to sleep in until 7 on Saturday and Sunday — so, hey, I am GOOD.

For those of you without children — enjoy your weekend sleeping in and keep hating Mondays.  Just keep the Monday blues to yourself – we have no pity here for those of you who know what sleeping until 10 or – dare I say it? – 11 is like. The only time I am in bed until 10 or 11 a.m. is if I am vomiting or otherwise deadly ill.

Evilwife on the move

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