Wednesday, December 29, 2010

just for chatty cricket

I thought of Chatty Cricket when I took this! Also when it ate my 40 pence today while I was trying to make a phone call and I called it a "stupid bugger." Just because it sounded cooler.

I'm also going to say "rubbish" from now on instead of garbage. Additionally, I shall be going to the bathroom in the loo from now on. I asked for a restroom and they looked at me like I had two heads. Oh, and a skim coffee is a skinny- don't you love it!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Big Ben! Parliament! Westminster Abbey! Buckingham Palace! The National Gallery! Hyde Park! It's all been stunning and fabulous and we are having the best time.

For now, though, I'm here to wish my beautiful sweet boy the happiest birthday ever! Worst mother ever, right? I went back and forth on whether or not we should be traveling over Gabe's birthday, and although I'd love to be with him today, truth be told, he doesn't even know today is his birthday. We celebrated it a few days early with cake and gifts and lots of hugs, and we'll celebrate it again on Friday, and then again in school, and then again with a small party in January. I think he'll get plenty of birthday fun, and a happy mom and dad is probably more important to him, so for now, I'll push my mother's guilt to the side.

So... onto more important things (written the night before I left for London)...

To My Dear Sweet Gabriel,

Happy Birthday!

Four years old! How is that possible? How can you be growing up so fast? I can almost believe it, though, because I see and hear the ways you are changing. Your speech is more complex, your mannerisms are more grown-up, you're getting taller, stronger, more coordinated
every day. You're wonderful and amazing and funny and the sweetest son we could ever wish for.

My favorite part of the day is when you come down the hall in the morning and climb into my bed. You snuggle up against my side and whisper, "Mama..." into my ear, and I just melt. For now, at least, you are so affectionate, so loving, so ridiculous disgustingly adorable, it just kills me. You hug and kiss me constantly, and want to climb onto my lap to snuggle with me. You love to be "comfy cozy" and we'll get under blankets and watch movies or read books, and
sometimes Josie will come and sit with us and you'll kiss her and say, "Hello baby girl!"

You love your sister to death, although since you two are interacting and playing together all the time now, there are also many moments where your screams and complaints drive me crazy. You love to run and laugh and tackle each other, and you are such an excellent big brother, teaching her, sharing with her, being (mostly) patient with her. You tell her you love her and get upset at bedtime if she won't give you your nightly besito and abrazo.

You adore your daddy too, and seeing him play with you and enjoy your company is such a treat. Last night you asked him if he missed you while he was at work, and when he said of course he did, you said, "yeah, I miss you too." You tickle each other and laugh until you can barely breathe, and you tell him stories about your day and of course, Buzz Lightyear.

What would we do without Buzz Lightyear? He is your one true obsession these days, and shopping for you has become the easiest thing ever because all you want is Toy Story All The Time. You're hilarious because you tell us complete stories about what Buzz said or did or what you think Buzz might do if he were here. You are growing up so fast and gaining this amazing imagination, it is such a pleasure to watch.

You are the most amazing blessing to us, Gabe, and I thank God every day that you're my son. You are so sweet and easy-going and happy, and I pray you stay this innocent and content forever. You are perfect and wonderful and gorgeous and brilliant. The things you learn every day astound me.

Tonight I told you that you were the most perfect Gabe to me, and I was so thankful that you were mine, and you told me you didn't want anyone else to be the same Gabe as you. You don't have to worry, my sweet boy, no one could ever be you. No one could ever take your place in my heart, and forever and ever and ever, you will be my baby.

I love you,

Saturday, December 25, 2010

happy chrismukkah!

Happy Holidays everyone!

We're off tomorrow morning, well, this morning actually, and I'm proceeding to freak out over planes going down and terrorist threats and well, pretty much everything.

I know I shouldn't be thinking about all of this, but since it's my first time leaving the kids for longer than 48 hours. And definitely my first time leaving them on an overseas flight with Josh on the same plane, I am giving myself a bit of leeway to have a little breakdown. I even wrote them each letters, morbidly, just in case.

I figure if I really plan for every possibility, then it won't happen. Right? That's totally the way it works, isn't it?

Here's to a wonderful holiday season for each of you! And a happy new year too! (although I plan to update before the new year) And here is to a safe and happy trip for Josh and I! At least London has called off the snow long enough for us to arrive! Hurray! Wish us luck!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

seriously Josh, go away

London! London! London!

That is pretty much what the inside of my head is looking like these days! London! London! London! I forget, and then I remember, and I'm bursting with excitement all over again.

If I manage to keep this a legitimate secret until Saturday, it'll be a freaking miracle. I was relatively safe because Josh was in Germany for his company's holiday party all this week, but still, I've already slipped on so many occasions because I want to talk about it all the time. I've already accidentally said that we are going on a non-stop flight, which totally narrows down the field. Then yesterday, he called me from Frankfurt because he was concerned his flight was going to be canceled due to snow, "Yes, I said, as a matter of fact... oh... nothing." "What?" he said. "No seriously, never mind," I insisted. "Were you going to say that the place where we're going is also closed due to snow?" he asked. "No, not at all," and then I changed the subject because that is EXACTLY what I was about to say. Ugh. Idiot.

I am very concerned about the snow situation, not because I care about being in London with snow. In fact, snow would make London more magical and beautiful, in my mind, but all London airports were closed for most of this weekend, and THAT, my friends, is alarming. I wouldn't mind being stuck in London once we're there, but I do not want to be delayed. I have pubs to be visited, changing of the guards to watch, teas to be drunk, markets to be explored, accents to be imitated.

I've rented a flat for us in an area not too far from the center of London. We rented an apartment in Prague and it worked out beautifully, so I'm trying it out again. Hopefully the apartment is as described, and the transportation is as easy as promised. I'm scouring the guidebooks for an itinerary that will work for us, and besides the must-sees, I plan on us spending lots of time people watching, relaxing, and enjoying the city.

London! London! London! Off to re-watch Notting Hill, Love Actually, and maybe The Holiday. Can I throw in any more movies set in England? Set in England at Christmas time, even better! Ack!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

josh, if you're reading this, step away from the computer

I don't need to tell you that being a parent is sometimes hard. Often times, draining, even frustrating. Staying connected to your spouse can be difficult. As one of my friends keeps reminding me, "those little suckers will take it all, if you let them!" Josh and I are not immune to that strain, although we both do our best to make our relationship a priority. Still, newborns and infants and toddlers are REALLY FREAKING DEMANDING, in case you didn't know.

Florida was great, warm, exciting, and I have so many stories to tell you about Disney World, and cute children, and of course, what vacation of ours would be complete without a trip to the Emergency Room? We're working on hospital "Platinum Status." After our 10th visit, the 11th co-pay is free. While it was crazy fun, it was crazy stressful too. Remember, we went to Sarasota for 4 days, Orlando for 5 days, Sarasota for 2 days, Orlando for 2 days, Sarasota for 2 days, and Fort Lauderdale for 3 days. Oh, and except for Thanksgiving day, and the two days we spent at Disney World, Josh worked sometimes from 7am until 9pm at night. I was ready to tear my hair out by the end, and I think the kids are still adjusting to life at home and regular schedules.

Josh and I were bickering, a lot. Spending the little bit of time we spent together not speaking because we didn't want to continue arguing in front of my in-laws or the kids. It stunk, in many ways. By the end of the trip, I felt so exhausted by the whole situation, I started counting the hours until I was back in my house. Thankfully, THANKFULLY, things have been great since we've been home. Back in our own environment, we reverted back to our regular non-stressed selves and things are fabulous. Everyone is thrilled to be home.

But, all that bickering reminded me that we need to spend time together, sans children, just us, staying connected as a couple, enjoying each other's company. So... I asked my parents if they would watch the kids for us if I could find a deal for us to get away for a couple of days. Even better, my mom said, I'll fund the whole thing if you two will get away. And so we are.


I know! I know! I'm jumping up and down over here!!!!! I've always, always, always wanted to go to London. Always, seriously, it is on my "Life List" of things to do before I die (which reminds me I need to post my incomplete list and maybe you all can give me suggestions). Anyway, I spent 2 straight days researching packages and found an impossible to refuse, ridiculously inexpensive flight to London, and so WE'RE GOING!

But shhhhhh! Josh doesn't know! I'm planning the whole thing as a surprise getaway, and all he knows is that he needs to take off of work and be ready to go. Today he told me it was "totally obvious we were going on a boat." Um, what? Apparently because I told him he couldn't work while on vacation, and that there wouldn't be wi-fi where we were going, we're going on a cruise. I guess it doesn't occur to him that I just don't want him to work while we're on a romantic vacation. Go figure.

So throw your advice at me! Have you been to London? Do you have must-see tips? Our housing isn't totally cemented, but I'm looking at the Notting Hill/Kensington area, because HELLO? I'm obsessed with the movie. Big Ben! Parliament! Double decker buses! Here we come!

Monday, December 13, 2010

happy birthday josie!

To My Sweet Baby Girl,

I find myself at a loss tonight, on the eve of your second birthday, trying to find the words to tell you what joy you have brought to our lives.

You are wonderful. Funny. Beautiful. Smart. Charming. Fierce. Stubborn. Loving. Joyful. And more, much much more. Several times every day, I wish I had a video camera to capture that look, your lilting little voice, the hilarious things you do. You are such a devil and so sweet, all wrapped up in one person.

Your brother loves you, even when you follow him around stealing toys from under his nose. He'll turn to you and say, "Oh baby girl, I love you!" just two minutes later.

Your father is utterly charmed by you, and I catch him sneaking hugs and kisses all the time.

And me, well, you make me crazy on a regular basis because you are so strong-willed and curious and busy, but I am so proud of you, it almost hurts. You are my little muffin, my Jo Jo, my Josephine Jellybean, my littlest monster, my love, my baby. I am so stinking lucky to be your mom.

You are amazing.

I love you with every fiber of my being. Remember that always.

[Pictures to Follow]

Sunday, December 12, 2010

even more of a gleek

I still walk around the house yelling "HIT IT!" to Josh, who still looks at me like I'm crazy when I bust into song.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, you should.

I also want those boots. And that skirt. And those legs. And maybe the hair too.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

on being thankful

Remember a year ago? When I admitted I hated our neighborhood and hated living here, and felt like the house was out to get me with the illnesses and the accidents and the breaking stuff? I forget, did I tell you that part? Let's pretend I didn't actually believe that. My husband, because he is a saint, told me that if I gave it a year and I was still miserable, we would move, even if it was a crazy thing to do.

Amazingly enough, just knowing that we could move in a year if I still felt awful was enough to make me feel better. Not perfect, but better. And then I gave it time, and effort, and patience, and things actually did start to get better. Gabe stopped going to school in our old town so I wasn't driving an hour every day to preschool, and I started spending time in our own community. Over the summer I walked around the neighborhood and took the kids to the park and the beach and met people and came out of my shell and made friends. I asked perfect strangers if they'd like to do a playdate or grab coffee, and with time, I found a little circle of friends. Josie and I joined a playgroup, I started a book club, I came to love our neighborhood. I came to be incredibly grateful for the move and the house and the changes we've made.

Don't get me wrong, I still occasionally go to our old neighborhood and look at the smaller houses, closer together, right on the subway line, with sushi and ice cream in walking distance, and I feel a tiny pang of sadness, but I am positive that this move was the right thing for our family. The right thing for my children, who already have so much more than I ever had in my life.

Just remind me of this the next time I sound like an ungrateful bitch, okay?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

maybe I should use the Hanukkah bush for kindling?

You guys. OH MY GOODNESS, you guys. Josh is going to kick. my. ass.

Yesterday, a friend called me to say she was ordering some firewood and it was far cheaper to just split it and pay one delivery fee, so did I want to go in on her firewood with her. Greenhouse dried, very reputable guy, popular in our town firewood, so I said, "um, sure!"

I love fires, but if I'm telling the honest to goodness truth, I only buy Duraflame-type logs. Or actually not even Duraflame, but some even more ridiculously expensive Whole Foods brand of coffee grounds compressed logs. Needless to say, these logs are so expensive, we don't burn a lot of fires.

Anyway, we have our new house which has two working fireplaces (which reminds me, I owe you some pictures) and I thought, now is the time to start buying real firewood. Our garage is also large enough to house the wood, so what the hell. We'll try it.

She said we would be splitting a cord of wood, and bless her heart, it turns out she similarly had no idea quite how much wood a cord of wood is but she assured me it wasn't much. Until 3:30pm today when she called and I answered and she said, "you're going to kill me." A cord of wood is a SHITLOAD of wood, it turns out. And half a cord of wood is really only marginally less than a shitload of wood, and we're back to the above- Josh is going to kick. my. ass. when he gets home and sees this insane amount of wood sitting in the middle of our garage. The pile literally comes up to my waist and takes up half the garage. Is this right? Is half a cord of wood really this much?

Anyway, the man who sold us the wood was lovely and kind and gave me several pointers on how to stack the wood and how to burn the wood and when I told him I'd planned to stack it on a tarp, he told me in exquisite detail why that was totally incorrect. And then we pulled out a wooden pallet from my basement and he cut it in half with his chainsaw (for free) so I'd have two firewood width pallets for the wood. I've spent 3 hours stacking it (so far) and we're still not even halfway done. I am in so much trouble. I actually considered going to my neighbors trying to get them to buy some wood from us, but it was too cold and I think I'm in denial.

I don't even know how to make a freaking fire with real firewood! I tried tonight, with the kids watching over my shoulder exclaiming over my every move, and it just puttered out pitifully. I even watched some instructional videos, and no luck. Anyone want to exchange firewood for fire-burning tips?

Thursday, December 02, 2010

some firsts

I know we've discussed before that Josh is Jewish and I'm Catholic, and not surprisingly, December is a tough time of year for us. Or well, a tough time of year for me. When we were dating and it became abundantly clear very early on that this relationship was for the long haul, we agreed we would pick one religion for our children rather than have the kids attempt to celebrate both Christianity and Judaism. For many different reasons, we ended up choosing Judaism, so the kids are being raised Jewish. Since Judaism passes through the mother, they were both converted when they were a few months old with a ceremony and a party and a dunking under water at a traditional Jewish bath.

It has worked out for us, and it turns out I am an excellent fake Jew. One of my friends works at a temple and she says regularly that I'm more Jewish than most of the Jews she knows, so my kids seem to be doing just fine. The real trouble is, however, you don't realize how much of your childhood memories are tied up in religion until you can't celebrate those things anymore. No Easter baskets, no references to Santa Claus, no Christmas trees, no advent wreaths, no midnight masses. When I was a practicing Catholic, I went to church every week, did youth group, was a lector at church, participated in tons of holiday events. It has been a huge change for me to raise children who aren't Catholic.

Last year, I found myself feeling particularly sad as the holidays approached. I felt as if none of my childhood rituals were being passed down to my kids, as if I had nothing to share. It was a difficult December, especially with the multiple hits of the stomach flu and ear infections. As December came to a close, I sat down with Josh and told him something had to change. I cannot feel this way for the rest of my life, and as we often do when issues come up, we talked about what changes we can make.

After much gnashing of teeth and discussion, we are going to incorporate some of my traditions and call them by different names. Last year we colored Passover eggs with the kids, and although I suspect Josh was a little uncomfortable, it worked, the kids had fun, and I was happy. This year, for the first time ever, we are trying out a "Hanukkah bush". We will be decorating a small tree with silver and blue Hanukkah ornaments, most of which I suspect we will make with the kids. Doing something like this is controversial, for sure, and I expect to hear some negative comments from our Jewish friends and family, but I feel strongly that everyone has to do what works for their family. We'll try it this year and see whether it works or not, and maybe do things differently next year.

We'll also be celebrating Hanukkah, of course, with songs and cookies and community events and latkes and stories. I'm not too worried about the kids, especially because that's why we're here. If there is ever any confusion, we'll explain it. And then we'll explain it again. And again, if we need to. Hopefully this year will be a happier year for everyone.