Changes in Lattitude Changes in Attitude

My dining room and my bloggy… both experiencing a make-over
I just love Jimmy Buffet, don’t you? But I’m not here to talk about him or Juicyfruit, or Cheeseburgers in Paradise… not until the summertime that is! Now is the season for giving Thanks and giving and hanging ornaments and drinking warm seasonal lattes in beautiful red ups and listening to bells jingling and children singing. As I sit upstairs at my computer listening to the paint rollers rolling and strange Spanish music blaring from below… as I wait (im)patiently for my dining room to transform herself… worriedly, excitedly… as I wait for the clock to tell me it’s time to go to get Alexander and meet Rebecca and her 4th grade class as well as the Kindergarten class in front of the Stop & Shop grocery store in Westport, CT so that they can donate all the food the school has collected to donate to Operation Hope and hear them all sing their Thanksgiving Song… and wait to bring Andy the Guinea Pig back for another long weekend… I am fiddling with my bloggy… It’s a mishmash at the moment but it is headed in the right direction. You’ll notice some changes around here. I’m selling myself out, heading toward Madison Avenue and Main Street. I’m entering the advertising biz promoting the items I love and use regularly both here and on my food blog. You’ll see some bigger changes around here. I’m trying to have this site serve as a better reflection of me. And why not try to make a few $$ as well. And, not to worry my friends there’s something in it for you too! My first ever give-away. It won’t be too large but it’ll be a little something that I really, truly love… a little something that puts an extra spring in my step… I’ll post about it in the very near future.If you can’t wait for my little giveaway you can head over to my buddy Jen at ListPlanIt… she’s giving away some Christmas music. Perfect! It will accompany mine perfectly! Have you any idea what I am plotting?

Oh boy…

I might need another run to the paint store… the dining room is blue. Really blue. Too blue. Too light blue. The paint swatch seemed a more masculine tone and yet when you place the swatch on the wall it does match up. But I’m not loving it. The stripes still need to get painted and maybe that will help. It is a darker blue. But I am afraid it is still too blue. Oye. Even Don agreed… It looks like Christopher’s room in the old house… all that’s missing are the Pottery Barn Wall Paper cut outs on the walls… Aye Carumba!

These pictures were taken earlier… now there is now blue below the chair rail as well. The room needs to dry overnight and then the painters will come back and work on the shadow striping… but I am afraid! I am very afraid!

(Below is Christopher’s old room … looks remarkably like the new dining room! Oh someone please tell me it will all be OK!!!!)


I do my best to update this daily… sometimes I am too busy. Or too boring. No more parties to plan and wrapping paper drives to chair. Now it’s time to redirect focus to me and us and our home. The painters started this week. HURRAH! My living room and dining room should be done by the end of the week! Yahoo! Remember my plaid panelled walls? Well they are no more!

They are gone gone gone and the dizzying pattern will no longer cause my stomach to churn! Instead I look into a room of clean, pure white primer! But it will be like that for not much longer! The dining room will be blue… Benjamin Moore San Fransisco Bay blue with shadow stripes above the chair rail and solid below

This is Benjamin Moore’s San Fransisco Bay (802) which we’ll have in a semi-gloss next to

Blue Bayou (801) which will be a matte stripe and Ivory Tusk (OC91) below for our trim in both the dining and living rooms.

This is Benjamin Moore’s Lenox Tan (HC44) which also happens to be a Pottery Barn select color and will be on the walls of the living room. For a little drama and color the ceiling will be Mediterranean Breeze (799) which is in the same color family (pictured below)as the two in the dining room. I want the two rooms to have separate feels and yet flow.

The living room is right now being stripped of equally hideous wallpaper (I’m sorry I never got around to taking a picture of it) I am so excited! The final thing we need to do is to get a big comfy sectional for the family room so that we can put the couch back into the living room… in another couple of weeks we’ll be there and we’ll be able to entertain and have dinner parties and this Entertaining Mom is so very excited about that! I need to start planning some meals and appetizers and cocktails of course!

My holiday season has already started and our weekends are filling up. Cheer is in the air. I can’t wait to break out my Christmas decor and get the house smelling like the holiday season with balsam and fir and baking!

On a more personal note…

Some of you may not want to read this… or may want to shield your eyes. Some of you will think such discussion, like politics, it is all too personal. (Though clearly we have seen just how personal politics no longer is.) Some of you will pour yourselves a nice hot cup of coffee or tea, and others, like my friend Line will bring over a glass of wine… this is one topic she looooves to talk about!
My question is this, for those of you who may have some advice, is when do you find the time to… well… ehem…. you know… do what the Birds and the Bees do? Seriously? This is not a laughing matter. Ok, it is… but still I want to know! More importantly I want to hear from you moms of many children and you moms of children of various ages.
You see Don and I hardly ever see one another at all. He’s off gallivanting on business trips staying at the Hotel del Corronado in warm, sunny San Diego for the week while I stay home is cold, rainy Connecticut schlepping my Trio of Terrible Trouble all over the place… to soccer and Girl Scouts and ice skating and here, there and everywhere. Always, there is someone doesn’t want to be dragged. Always, at least two are whining. Now tell me where would you rather be?!
Don came home at 1:30 on Friday morning. (Flight got in at Hartford at 11:30 then by the time he got his suitcases and drove home it was 1:30.) I did not wait up for him! Not when I wake at 4:30 daily! We were both up early but he had to scamper off to the hospital (after 4 hours of sleep) and I had to hustle the kids off to school.
We texted each other a few times that day. Sometimes this is the only way we can really communicate… cell phones can not be used in the ORs and so we don’t often get to talk on the phone either. On the few occasions we try to have a discussion together we are certain to be interrupted by any one, or all three, of our Terrible Trio of Trouble. It’s maddening and infuriating. We live in a 4500 sq. ft. house and we can’t get away from them…
And so that brings us to our Issue at Hand… the celebration of the Birds and the Bees. With the youngest up before the sun rears her head and my middle child up so late into the night there is no peace and quiet in the house. Alexander crawls into bed at various points in the middle of the night and stays there until he wakes… and wakes me and the day begins. The rule in this house is that all children (older two) must be in their beds by 8:30 pm — the only exception being when we are home from activities too late and there is still homework to be done. On the weekends and holidays we let them stay up until 9:00, sometimes 9:30. Don is out of the house from 6:00 am until 6:00 or 7:00 pm. Then it’s dinnertime (if I am not out schlepping) and then bedtime for the kiddos… and seeing how early my days starts bedtime for me too. Unless it’s not. But then there is still Christopher, my little insomniac to deal with. He often comes wandering in (several times) because he can’t sleep and he’s miserable.
Then come the weekends we think we can get some time alone. We are seriously mistaken. While the kids seem to play well for the moment, as soon as our absence is felt all hell breaks loose… there are screams, fights, tears, or else something really, really, really important… like can they have a juice box, or a cheese stick or can they play with Play Doh or paint. Never fails. We would love to get away for the weekend but have no one to watch them… and they are just a little too young to be home by their selves!
And as I wonder how I will get some time alone with my husband before Alexander hits high school I wonder how the heck the Duggars can make so many kids in a house over-run with them!
On a final note not really related to this post I was perusing my list of readers and visitors… some use Google as their means to get here by plugging in certain words. One visitor from Lillehamher Googled “don’t get caught with your hands in her pants.” I think that visitor was rather disappointed with this blog!

The Red Cups are Here! The Red Cups are Here!

I woke up too early this morning. As usual. Much too early. And I was up too late last night. Much too late. But I was mesmerized by the images on the television screen. America is changing and there’s a whole new world out there. I hope we can all walk arm in arm and work together. I hope there is no anger and resentment and no ill will. I hope we can all put our differences aside and focus on our similarities.
When the bright red numbers on the cable box shouted out to me that it was 6:00 am I switched over to MSNBC and Morning Joe. There was a clam on the set, an unusually calm. And I was unusually calm until I saw it. In Mika’s hand. I saw not the tell-tale white and green Starbucks cup(Venti?) in her hand. Today I saw something else, a red one! I rubbed my eyes in disbelief to make sure that I was not half asleep. But there it was, plain as day, clear as the last night’s election results… The Red Cup! I nearly jumped up and bolted out of bed to run down to my local Starbucks to get one. But the kids were all asleep. I would have to wait a while.
This afternoon, after dropping Alexander off at preschool I set off to run my many errands. I had to return some books to the library, exchange some jeans for Christopher, drop some coats off at the dry cleaners, pick up some bread from the bakery, get a few items at the grocery store… After I dropped the jeans off I decided to head over to Starbucks. I just had to see if the Red Cup was really there. I just had to!
I walked in and there it was, a vision before my eyes! I was happy. My day would be good. My day would be great. I had reason to be happy. Those red cups make me happy. There was a menu of holiday drinks on the wall. I chose the Gingerbread Latte. Dare to be wild! Live on the edge. I ordered one. A grande, 1% with no whip. And, because I am impulsive. Because I cannot look temptation in the face I bought a Christmas CD. I was now really happy. Really, really happy. As I was waiting for my drink the barista asked if I didn’t want some whip. No. No whip, thanks, I told her. Then she told me that they were doing something special this year. The gingerbread lattes were being dressed up with some crystalized ginger. Real crystalized ginger she assured me. And because I am impulsive. (Read sucker!) And because I can not look temptation in the face I agreed to have the whip and the crystalized ginger. And hot damn it was good!
So I walked, Okay bounded, out of the store with my CD and coffee in hand. I was happy. The holidays make me happy. Holiday music makes me happy. And my little Red Cup was making me happy. The only thing that was slightly unfortunate was that it was 70 and humid out. I would have preferred a crisper, cooler day. But I was having a perfect moment. So perfect it was that I raced right to the car to play the CD and it was not until I got home that I had completely forgotten about all the rest of my errands!


Proud to be an American

Well, the day is here. The day is finally here. We’ve been waiting. And waiting. And waiting. And in my opinion, too damn long. Everyone is so charged up. There are cheers and jeers all around. We’ve become a nation divided. And you know what? That makes me sad? Of course we all have different views, needs, desires and interests but that’s what makes us what we are. That’s what makes us American. I have never seen such a bunch of Nervous Nellies out there. Okay, well maybe 4 years ago. And 8 years ago. And so on and so on and so on. And maybe my candidate will win. And maybe yours will. But I know this. I know we are a country that celebrates freedom and hope. And if Obama wins we will not implode. And if McCain wins we will not implode. The President may run our country but He alone can not rule it. Our Constitution and our Government were created for the people by the people. Let’s have some faith in our people that whatever happens He (and They) can do the right thing. I am sick of all this McCain bashing. I am sick of all the Obama bashing. What happens happens and we should not go home feeling sad or sorry for ourselves if our candidate doesn’t win. I do not like all this negativity that is surrounding this election. I do not like the negativity that my children are hearing that is surrounding this election. We need to remember that we should be so very grateful that we indeed can go out and cast a vote and make a change. And we should never ever forget this and we should never ever take this privilege for granted. So, may the Best Man win… and even if he doesn’t, the winner will have my support because I am an American and we all are Americans and we will stand taller and freer and prouder if we all band together.
So go cast your vote then head over to the local Starbucks and get your free coffee!

Disaster Averted!

We went out last night to see the fabulous Pumpkin Spectacular. Afterwards we were all invited to a friend’s house for dessert. The children were all downstairs and the adults were upstairs enjoying a little dessert, glass of wine and uninterrupted (for the most-part) adult conversation. Suddenly I heard screams. Alexander screams. I listened for a second or two and decided they were a decibel or two above the girls-not-leaving-him-alone screams. I rushed to the stairs as he was being carried up by Jennee and Sid. Apparently he tried to copy Margaret by jumping off of one couch and onto another. Margaret is 7 and Alexander is 3. And while Alexander knows fully well that we do not jump on any type of furniture at home or anywhere, he must have gotten caught up in the action. Well his small body did not make it all the way to the other side. His head made it to the coffee table. That would explain the sheer screams. Flashback to 4 years ago when Christopher tried this same dumb stunt in our family room and he too smacked the back of his head on the corner of the coffee table… blood splattering everywhere. Not good for a squeamish girl like me.
I took Alexander from Jenee and held him in my arms. I could see no visible damage on his head (Thank God!) but when he opened his mouth to cry I saw bright red. Inside. On the left. I called to Don in my calm panicked mode (as opposed to my panic-panicked mode!) and told him to come over to where I was… now. I passed the baby (I still call him that sometimes) and told him that there was blood in his mouth. In the back. On the left. I could not tell whether he had bitten his tongue or his cheek. Don went to find a brighter spot so he could take a good look. I tried to tell myself that a lot of blood didn’t necessarily mean a lot of damage. Mouth and head wounds often bleed badly even if the injury is minimal. Don couldn’t get a good look so we went in to the bathroom. We sat him on the sink and got him to open his mouth really wide. And there I saw it the bright red…………………………………………………….Jujyfruit stuck in his tooth!

Whoppers and Kit-Kats and Twix… Oh My!

I haven’t had any Halloween candy in the house. In the past I’ve bought bags and bags and bags ahead of time. Not such a good idea. Because when that monthly sweet-chocolate-I-must-have-something-and-have-it-now craving comes by those bags become dust in the wind. Maybe you can have just one or two of those (puny) Fun Sized candies. But I can not. To me, it ain’t Fun Sized until the whole damn bag is gone and I am hunched over writhing in pain. Now that’s fun! Well, not really…
I decided that this year we would have no candy in this house until Halloween. So I went out to run my errands this morning and dropped off a script for Christopher at our local CVS and decided to pick up our candy. I stood there in the center of the aisle, lost, dazed and way, way, way, too confused. First I started grabbing all the stuff I don’t like. I don’t want to be left with gobs of ooey gooey goodness. I’m not good with temptation. So I grabbed some icky stuff. Then I got disappointed in myself. I can’t do that. We’re new to the ‘hood. We want people to come to our house, not run right by it. So I tossed all the icky stuff back onto the shelves. Besides, I know myself and I would end up eating the icky stuff too. Just because. It’s there.
Up and down the aisle I paced, wandering, querying, picking up packages and putting them back. I should have sent Don. This was one decision I was finding particularly difficult. And it continued for about 15 minutes. Bags go in the cart. Bags come out of the cart. In and out. In and out. Finally, I said to hell with it and just walked away with a few bags of really good stuff. I have m&ms, both regular and peanut. I have Reese’s cups and Whoppers and Milk Duds. I have Junior Mints. I have Nestle Crunch bars and something else. I have $50 worth of candy. $50 worth of friggin‘ candy! How absolutely ridiculous is that? But I want to be prepared. I want to have enough candy to pass out. Maybe we won’t get any Trick or Treaters at all… maybe we will run out of candy… I have no idea what will happen but I would rather have enough than not enough. I just don’t want any leftovers. At all.
Which brings me to another topic. My scale. It’s broke. Really is broken. I have this fancy digital thing I got when I first got pregnant with Rebecca eons ago. Well, I stepped on it the other day and the reading was off. Way off 10 pounds off. Of course I would love say I weigh what the numbers said I did but I would be lying and fooling myself. So I got on the scale and it said the same thing. I did this a few times. And then when I got on the 26th time it added 20 pounds! Just like that! I jumped off the scale and screamed! Yessir I screamed. Like I had seen a tarantula crawling by. And then I got back on 20 more times and the numbers wouldn’t budge. But they budged when I stepped on the 51st time. Back to that original reading. I know it’s all wrong but I like it! Damn, stupid, @^%#! scale!
I’ve hit middle age, that’s what I am thinking. I may never see the waistline I had in my early 30s. I haven’t seen it since Alexander was born. The kid destroyed me I’m telling you! I’m sure my midsection is what it is because I bore three children. But I have more excess skin on me than a Sharpei puppy. And I am blaming it on Alexander. And because I am getting old. (And, according to my husband, crotchety to boot!) But I have friends who have 6 pack abs and they are my age! Ok, well maybe the fact that my treadmill has more dust on it that in my bagless vacuum… and maybe my running shoes have been missing since Clinton left office… and maybe those m&ms aren’t really helping… but still!
So you know what I am going to do? I am going to shimmy into a pair of Spanx and grab myself a bag of Twix and eat them on my broken scale!

Down on the Farm and a nice encounter with the Marlboro Man

Alexander had a field trip today to a farm in Oxford, Connecticut. This was my third time to the farm (I’d been with both Becca and Christopher when they were in Pre-K 3) and, truth be told, I was not looking forward to it. Not even a little bit. Not at all. Outside the skies were grey and the winds blustery. The grounds were heavy with wet leaves from yesterday’s rains. I have learned from my past that it’s always a good 10 degrees colder at the farm than it is here. And even here they were predicting wind chills in the 30s!
This time I was prepared bundled up in my black turtleneck sweater, black leggings, long, white quilted North Face coat and my super warm ULU boots. I was dressed for the farm. Or the Alps. Or Mt. Everest!
I was secretly hoping for rain, but when I got up this morning I saw that was not happening. I dragged my unwilling self out of bed and rose the troops. As miserably disappointed I was in the sun’s appearance, I knew Alexander was thrilled. He’d been talking non-stop about the cows and the hay ride and Old Mac Donald. So instead of sulking and whining I decided to put on my big girl panties and suck it up.
I did not, however, go on the school bus. Alexander was upset. Both with me and the fact that he couldn’t ride with the other kids on the bus. He’ll have his chance one day. But he’s only 3 and now I want him with me, strapped safely in his car seat. I feel better that way.
Because I was driving (instead of being all cooped up in a stuffy nasea-making school bus) I was able to see and appreciate the breathtaking beauty of rural Connecticut. As we hit the “mountains” of Oxford the sun hid behind the clouds and the skies had a menacing look. Then we drove through the valleys and the sun came back out with the rain. But wait, that wasn’t rain; It was snow! Real snow… October snow! It wasn’t sticking but it was flurrying and white. I was as giddy as Alexander in the back. Maybe this wasn’t going to be such an awful day after all!
Not long after we got there the other driving (mean) moms arrived followed by the school bus. We were met by a wonderful gentleman who would guide us and drive the tractor that pulled our hay covered wagons. I nicknamed this fellow The Marlboro Man. He had that gruff, tough exterior. He was rugged and strong. And he was so gentle and wonderful with the children. The only thing missing was a smoke and a Clydesdale.
Alexander and the children delighted in the snow and pumpkins and feeding the cows! It was a truly wonderful day after all! The air, while chilly, lent itself wonderfully to the spectacular skylines and views. Because I was bundled up like the Abominable Snowman I had as wonderful a time as Alexander did.

(The Marlboro Man!)

(I think my camera took a liking to him!)

The many and varied colors of the day were absolutely spectacular!

The cows were gentle and loving!

It’s what’s for dinner!

Warm Tootsies!
Alexander trying to catch snow on his tongue!

It’s almost that time of year…

to set the clocks back and replace all of our batteries in our smoke detectors (if they are not hardwired into your electrical system/alarm systems) AND you Carbon Monoxide/Gas Detectors. If you do not have one, I IMPLORE you to get one now. They save lives. I am now living proof (and thank God not a statistic) that ours saved our lives. Put this on the top of your to do list. Do it NOW. And tell everyone you know, parents, siblings, friends, co-workers… EVERYONE.
We were running late to school on Friday morning. Nothing unusual there. Christopher mentioned that the number on the CO detector box was unusually high. (Admittedly I have never paid much (any) attention to the small white box plugged into the wall in the front entryway. I shushed him and told him to finish getting ready. There was a lot of yelling going on that morning. The kids couldn’t get their acts together. Couldn’t get dressed. Couldn’t pick up their toys, clothes, messes. Admittedly, I am pretty anal about leaving the house tidy in the morning. But I knew this was not going to happen. I thought I would drop the kids off at school and come back and tidy up. Then I remembered that I had a meeting at the Audubon Center for the wine tasting I am organizing. With an hour to kill I decided to head to Starbucks with my friends instead of going home. There would not have been much time for tidying anyhow.
When all was said and done we left the Audubon at about 11:30. Alexander passed out in the car shortly there after. I was looking forward to a nice nap. It had been a long time since he had had one. When we got home I went in to unlock the house so I could transfer my sleeping babe. I hear the shrill of the smoke detector but I saw and smelled no smoke. That is because it was not the smoke detector but the CO (Carbon Monoxide)/Gas Detector. And then I remembered how Christopher remarked how high the numbers had been. The red numbers glared angrily at me. 44. (Normal is 0) The light indicating I needed TO GET THE HELL OUT OF THE HOUSE ASAP was on as well. It had already been a long week. I was already stressed and overworked and overtired. All I could think of at that very moment was that a) this was indeed a crisis and b) I was not going to get a break that day. I was more annoyed by that, truth be told.
I texted Don and asked him what to do as I stood in the kitchen smelling the foul, rotten-egg odor that I had not smelled that morning. Seeing my kitchen counters covered, sink filled sky-high with dishes and the dishwasher that begged emptying, I actually contemplated tidying up. Alexander was safely in the car at the bottom of the driveway. Just then Don texted back (cell phones are not allowed on in the ORs but he can text me on his Blackberry) and told me to call the fire department and get out!

I grabbed a house phone with me since we have no cell reception where we live. Of course I grabbed one that had been off the charger. Typical. I drove down to the main road where there is reception and called the fire department non-emergency number. They told me they were sending someone over but to hang up and call 911.

And that’s when fear and exhaustion consumed me. I drove home. Alexander was still sound asleep. I pulled in and waited beyond one of the stone pillars at the bottom of the driveway. I saw the fire engine come racing down followed by a police car. I followed them up the driveway and let them in, explaining the situation as I unlocked the front door.

The men were all suited up in their oxygen tanks and masks. Clearly they were not taking this lightly. As soon as we opened up the front door their super-sensitive CO/Gas detectors started sounding off frantically.

How could I have ignored Christopher? Why didn’t I take a closer look at the monitro that morning? Was my dream house going to blow up sending everything we owned in the air… photos, memorabilia, etc… favorite jeans, antique jewelry… was I going to be a statistic? Would my house be in the news… blown to smithereens? Remember we just moved here in May. We are still not fully decorated (by any stretch of the imagination.) All these thoughts started racing through my head. I knew in my heart something was very wrong and very dangerous. My older two were in school and Alexander was still sound asleep in his car seat oblivious to everything.
After a good half hour I decided to wake Alexander. My little boy who is all about fire engines and firemen shouldn’t sleep through all this excitement. So I woke him. He was very groggy until I mentioned the big red fire truck in the driveway. He perked up immediately. He was thoroughly impressed. I told him to stay seated on the hill, away from the truck and away from the men who needed to do their work. I explained, as best as I could to a 3 year old, what was going on. He was a doll. He was a gem. I was terrified and he was in his glory. And despite it all I was so happy for him.
Eventually one of the fire men came out and explained that there was leak coming from somewhere. They could not pinpoint the exact location, though they knew it to be in the basement. The reason the levels were so high throughout the house was because the CO was seeping through all the vents.

They opened up all the windows, doors, sliders, bulk head doors and brought these massive fans in to blow out the bad air and bring in fresh air. They did this until their readings dropped back down to 0. We would be allowed back in when all was safe and clear.

The fireman who came out to talk to us what completely taken by Alexander and his love for all firemen related things. He commented that the firemen noticed all his fire gear and apparel throughout the house and they loved his bedroom! Alexander delighted in that and was completely star-struck when the fireman talked to him. He had this wide, super-goofy grin on his face. It was precious!

Eventually we were told we could get back in safely. The furnaces had been shut off but not the hot water heater. I was instructed to keep my eye on the CO detector and if the numbers crept back up we would know it was the water heater. If the numbers did not creep back up, one of the furnaces would be to blame.
Our furnaces were inspected later that afternoon and indeed that was where the problem lay. There was a crack in the heat exchanger which was emitting gas and carbon monoxide. Had we not had our carbon monoxide detector we may have not gotten out of bed the following morning. Scary stuff. Luckily we have two furnaces and the broken one has been dismantled (and will be fixed for $4k!!) on Monday. The one that is operational is doing a great job keeping everything (except for the playroom over the garage) nice and toasty.
Our house is only 20 years old but the heating and air system are original to the time of construction. I hope the other furnace does not go as well. If it does we’ll be in the poorhouse! And, I really do not want to have to go through all that drama again any time soon.
Carbon Monoxide is a natural occurring by-product of all natural fossil burning fuel — gas and oil. So unless you have no gas or oil in your house I implore you to get a carbon monoxide detector in your house.
(getting oxygen tanks and masks on)
(suiting up for the gas chamber)

(getting super duper sized fan off the truck to flush toxic air out of
the house)