Wednesday, October 31, 2007


He stands on the grassy verge, just outside the perimeter of the grocery store parking lot. Tall and skeletal in stature, his dirty clothes literally hanging on his bony frame.

His hair is long and matted, his beard equally so. What is visible of his face is weathered, leathered and brown.

He stands here in all weathers, in the light and in the dark. Sometimes he holds a card which I've never been able to read, but I already know that it says 'Homeless, please help, God Bless'.

When I see him, my stomach tightens, gripped with a mixture of confusing feelings. How did he get to be this way? And, what is my responsibility towards him?

I have never reached out to this man and for that I feel guilty, but my fear outweighs the feelings of guilt most days.

He is one of many panhandlers I see, in various situations, regularly at busy intersections. Some I want to cry for. Others I want to scream at to go look for a job because they look plenty healthy and fit to me. Others still I want to call the cops on because before my very eyes they straighten up from their half naked, bent over position, set down their sign which says 'please help, disabled Vet.',pull on a shirt, walk when they'd previously hobbled, to their bicycle and cycle off when their 'begging shift' is over.

I struggle with the question 'what am I supposed to do for these people?' Are we not taught that we should help those less fortunate than ourselves? But, this is America - and while drug and alcohol abuse is not unknown in Ireland - it's not as prevalent, nor as obvious as it sometimes is here. And so, afraid that these people could be hopped up on any combination of substances, or that any assistance I offer will be used to procure more of said substances, I keep my windows closed, my gaze straight ahead and I do nothing. I contribute to the collection each week at Mass, and that is the only way I have salved my conscience thus far, on the understanding that that donation will be used in some way to help those less fortunate.

The grocery store beggar makes me think much more than any other I've seen. Perhaps because it's not that far from our cosy home in our nice neighbourhood with the great golf club across the road. Maybe it's because I pass him in a big comfortable car with my well fed children safely cocooned in the back. I find myself wondering if he has, or had a family. Is he a victim of a series of unhappy circumstances that have led him to this? If he's brought this on himself? Is he an alcoholic, or a drug addict? If he had a job, a home, people who cared. He looks so lonely, beaten, pathetic and absolutely destitute.

I have been thinking of him almost constantly since yesterday afternoon when I saw him again. This time he was standing a little way away from his grocery store post, on another grassy verge. Surrounded by two Sherrif's cruisers, he was handcuffed, and a lady Deputy was donning latex gloves, presumably to search him. I don't know what he did. If he had an altercation with passersby? Was this part of their attempt to 'move him along'. Was he high on something?

All I know is that my stomach is again tight with those confusing and uncomfortable feelings. I am afraid to reach out to panhandlers. I don't know what kind of reaction I'll get, I don't want to feed an already destructive habit by helping fund it but I know I must do SOMETHING. And, I will - I just need to figure out how.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Why the Whys?

Dear Internet,

This is an earnest plea for help. My sanity, and possibly my daughter's safety, (well, not really) depend on it!

Why the whys? Why when a child hits three does this magically increase the frequency of the question 'why?', and how does this explosion of curiosity on topics to which the whys refer, occur?

These, surely, are not difficult questions? No more difficult than say,

'Mommy, why is there fire?',

'but why does it burn?',

'why did the fire light?',

'Mommy why did you stop?',

'but why is the light red?'

'but why can you not go when the light is red?'

'but why do the other cars come the other way?'

'Mommy, why are we going to the Mall?' (can you believe I have a daughter who asks this?)

'Why do we need to go shopping?'

'Why are the clouds in the sky?'

'Why are the clouds that shape?'

'Why can't I walk and not go in the stroller?'

'But why?' 'Why? 'WHY?'

WHY WHY WHY ad infinitum!

It's driving me NUTSO! So, dear internet, if you have any good solid answer that would head the incessant interrogation off at the pass I would appreciate it if you would kindly share.

Yours, holding my breath in anticipation,

Annie, on the bring of stark raving madness.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Britney's got nothing on me!

Today, while my back was turned, Baby J fell out of his highchair.

To all those people who asked when the media went to town on Britney Spears for this very thing, 'How can a mother let this happen?' Let me tell you.

She can let it happen when she's stupid.

When she carelessly and complacently assumes that her baby will be fine for the few moments her back is turned.

When she has the fabric cover and the straps of the highchair off, to be washed, so her baby is hemmed in only by the tray of the chair.

When she thinks the tray is enough to keep him safe.

When she takes a chance that no mother should ever take - especially when she knows what a climber her baby is turning out to be. They don't put the straps on there for no reason!

He seems fine, after a lot of crying and repeated head to toe examinations of him for lumps and bumps I'm satisfied that he did not hit his head (on the ceramic tile floor!). All his limbs are fine and he brightened up not long after this happened and was his usual happy self. I did not take him to the ER - but of course I'm second guessing that and I'm worried sick, 'what if he's hurt something I can't see?'

I feel like a completely neglectful mother. I take him to all these tests for his hearing to make sure we are on top of it and I can't adequately supervise him and protect him from danger right under my nose?

You think you're a candidate for 'Mommy of the Year' Megan?

I think I've trumped you. If it's 'Crap Mommy of the Year' we're going for, that is.

A Princess Cake and a Reality Check!

Hmmm - so you remembered about the Cinderella carriage cake then eh?

Yeah, I kind of wimped out on that one. To list my excuses:

•A trial run on Baby J's birthday cake revealed that I had rather over estimated my cake decorating skills!

•I have two kids aged 3 and 1 that require lots of supervision to keep them out of toilets, dishwashers, pot drawers, and you-name-it-dangerous-places.

•For the month of October we've been on the medical merry-go-round with Baby J with doctors visits.

•I couldn't find a ball shaped cake tin in time (*snort* this would be because I didn't really look that hard!)

•Did I mention I have two kids - aged 3 and 1?

Who was I kidding?

I humbly recognise that Jane Asher can make beautiful cakes like that because she's well practiced in the art of cake decorating and I may have cheerfully paid her or anyone else over $800 to deliver a beautiful cake here on Sunday as I was trying to assemble the cake that Miss E ended up with.

She wanted a Princess Cake, and some pink icing and creative work with some scrapbooking stickers, a Princess Cake she got!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Happy Three, Miss E!

Today is your third birthday. My baby is becoming a little girl (although you regularly argue with me that you are a BIG girl!)

You've known your birthday was on the horizon for over two weeks as you watched all the parcels arrive for your brother's first birthday, and helped us prepare for his party. Each time you insisted that all of this was for you, we carefully explained that it would be your turn, soon.

You showed remarkable patience, accepting each day when we would tell you how many more days until your birthday. I was delighted to be able to answer your excitement this morning as you ran into my room breathlessly asking 'Is it my birthday NOW?' - Yes it IS! 'Let's get organized and get dressed before my birthday guests come' you said to me, and I'm still scratching my head, wondering did you just turn 13, and not 3?

You watched me prepare your cake yesterday evening, tempted regularly to stick your fingers in the frosting, and were placated only when I gave you the mixing beater to lick. Your Daddy wasn't impressed with me allowing you to do this on the brink of bedtime, but we can make special allowances for birthday girls.

You have been positively fizzy with excitement each time you heard the doorbell ring over the last few days, and that tell tale thud of a big box being dropped at the door by the UPS guy! My plans of surreptitiously removing these parcels and keeping them until today, thwarted by your adorable dancing around the living room chanting 'I got a parcel, I got a parcel'. I knew we'd have mass devastation on our hands if I made you wait to open the boxes, and so you were showered with wonderful early presents thanks to all your family in Ireland.

Three years ago today you made me a mother. Daddy carried you over to me all wrapped up in a blanket with your chubby little face peeking out from under a little hat. Your face wasn't the only chubby part of your 9lb 6oz self!

You have grown in leaps and bounds since then. Talking up a storm from a very early age, and now I believe are destined for a career in Law with your uncanny ability to present an argument, and redirect Mummy or Daddy's attention so as to avoid trouble for yourself!

You make me laugh every day, (and sometimes cry, too!). You are a fierce, fiesty, energetic, comical and loving little lady.

You are growing to be protective of your brother (a welcome change since you were at times the one he needed protection from!). You love him with all your heart and are so crestfallen when he has to take a nap and he isn't there to play with you.

Daddy and I were in love with you from the very first instant we saw you. You've changed our world, you rock our world and you make us very happy, and proud to be your parents.

Happy Birthday Baby Girl! I love you to the moon, and back!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Serenity and Perspective

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

Reinhold Niebuhr

How many times have I worried until I felt physically sick about issues that are beyond my control? That they are beyond my control, a source of further anxiety.

How many times have people said to me 'Try not to worry', 'Think Positive', 'Put your trust in God'? How hard have I tried to listen to them, but still had that ball in the pit of my stomach, the tight jaw and the headaches because no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't let the stress and the worry go?

How many tears have I shed? How much anger have I felt?

Too many. Too much.

I have seen the Serenity Prayer many times. I understand its premise. I know the 'theory' of handing over the worry, but couldn't practice it. Until now.

I've written before about how it feels when doctors tell you that something is not 100% with your baby. An issue that has been present from birth and that needs careful monitoring. It hurts. As someone recently said to me 'it hurts a mother's heart', and it does.

Readers familiar with my blog will have read my stories before about our ongoing journey with Baby J and his hearing. A quick recap for those of you not familiar - a problem was detected with his hearing at birth and several hearing tests later confirmed mild hearing loss in his left ear. In August they were concerned that there was a change in his right ear. We are seeing a slew of specialists, and had a further hearing test this week to investigate the right ear further.

Since August I have been stressed out. I cried every time I told someone about what was going on. I felt frustrated that doctors were elusive, and tests weren't telling us anything. I was traipsing around to doctors appointments, my husband was taking time off work to come with me, and we had to trail Miss E with us a lot of the time (which anyone with a bored 3 year old will know, can add another stressful layer to the whole scenario). I literally was making myself physically sick.

Then, sometime before Baby J's first birthday 2 weeks ago something clicked. I essentially made a decision that I was not going to worry any more. I prayed the Serenity Prayer, but now I really meant it, and it helped. I have handed the worry over. I am powerless to influence how Baby J's hearing develops or does not develop. What I need to do is focus on the positive, and on the actions I need to do to make sure we stay on top of it and are ready to help him as soon as any 'extra' help is needed.

Going through the process of trying to first identify a suspected problem, quantify it in terms of severity and prognosis, and determine the cause is a daunting and stressful one. We deal with professionals with varying degrees of sympathy or compassion (never empathy, so far). But, while we are on this journey, I have learned, albeit the hard way, that there is nothing to be gained from worry.

Many people, the medical professionals, family and friends tried to tell me this, but I didn't listen because I was too caught up in what was basically a grief process. I look back now and I see how we (my husband and I) have gone through the denial, anger, bargaining, depression and have moved to acceptance.

We had two good appointments this week, and that sort of feels like a reward to me. The prize for finally 'letting it go'!

We saw a Genetics doctor on Monday. She was excellent and took time to answer all of our questions and concerns. She was able to rule out many genetic syndromes of which hearing loss is one element. She also pointed out that our understanding that J had inherited an autosomal recessive condition from us was inaccurate (thanks to the nurse in the ENT's office jumping to the wrong conclusion). J is a carrier of a gene that causes hearing loss, but at this point that is purely coincidental. So we still don't know the cause of the hearing loss. We may never know. For me though that is a secondary issue. My primary focus is Baby J and what his little ears are doing now and what will happen as he grows.

There are few more genetic syndromes that the doctor wants to rule out and so we will take Baby J for a renal ultrasound and an EKG on his heart. More tests! However, I am not worrying about these - I'm hanging on to that serenity!

Baby J had another sedated hearing test on Tuesday which brought the news that his left ear (the one with the originally identified problem) is still the same - so that's stable, no deterioration at all. Good news!

His right ear is showing a change, but it's a very subtle change, and not one that the audiologist is concerned about as of now. And neither am I. While it's not great that she confirmed this change in his right ear, this certainly wasn't gloomy news at all, I'll take it and will continue to pray that it stays stable and J's hearing will not get worse beyond this point.

As of now, Baby J's hearing is completely adequate for normal speech and language acquisition, which has been the primary concern regarding this hearing loss. If he does not hear all the speech sounds around him correctly, then of course he would never learn to reproduce them correctly without intervention.

No intervention is required at this point. We are happy about that, and remain cautiously optimistic for Baby J.

If he needs intervention at some point we'll get it for him. We are 100% on board with the ongoing monitoring. This is a 'happier' place to be than the denial and anger that had us questioning the diagnosis, and the need to be seen by all these specialists.

Perspective is also a wonderful thing, and something that helps me. The knowledge that what we're dealing with, while the fear of the unknown has definitely been there, it is relatively minor. We have been to a Children's Hospital a few times to see doctors, and specialty clinics with Baby J and it is an eye opener in terms of seeing the trials that other families must endure. I pray for all those families, those parents, and for all those mothers. I also pray in thanksgiving that my Baby J is so healthy and that we just have one area to which we need to pay special attention.

We now have a better understanding of why we've been putting Baby J through all these tests (reasons that were not immediately clear while we were undergoing them to be perfectly honest), and that helps give perspective to the journey we continue to move through, and the upcoming tests. While no-one has explicitly told us this, we believe that it is a by-product of the medical legal environment these days that doctors must disclose all the possibilities stemming from a hearing loss diagnosis and follow through with the appropriate tests to either confirm or rule them out. This 'disclosure' I could have done without because none of it ever came with any kind of statement on how likely or not it was that Baby J had any of the conditions to which they referred. Enter over active parental imagination and you have an explosion of panic, stress and fear.

With my new found serenity and perspective I will not give into the panic, stress or fear anymore. I will not be miserable with worry any longer, and I will continue to enjoy my child for the wonderful, happy, cheeky little guy he is!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Preschool, here we come!

I've been on the fence, a lot, about whether to send Miss E to preschool or not. If we lived in Ireland, she'd be off to nursery school at 3, and starting proper Primary School at 4, and this wouldn't cost me a second thought.

Living here however and understanding that some kids don't start formal education (Kindergarten) until they are almost 6 - I guess I bought into the idea that I shouldn't be sending her off to school too soon. She only turns 3 next week, and I do after all stay at home, why can't I just create the preschool environment for her here?

Well, let me chat about that last sentence first shall I? I can't create that environment for her because I have another child, one that lately has been dragged all around the medical place, and Miss E along with us because since we are so far from family, and most people I would trust, work, there are very few people I can leave her with. Secondly, my patience evapourates when Miss E loses interest in any particular activity (which is generally after a maximum of a minute and a half)and I give up. Add to this the fact that during the day the whining and the carrying on drives me nuts to the point that it's just a whole lot easier to let Big Bird teach her her letters!

We explored the option of preschool in the summer when all the schools were enrolling for the new school year. I limited my search to those providers within easy driving distance but was not impressed with either quality or cost. And so, I convinced myself, she didn't need it and I'd keep her home with me for another year before attempting 'school'.

Miss E is bright and she's energetic, and she's bossy. At her two year check up her doctor told me 'she's a smart kid, don't let her get bored or she will drive you crazy'. This is the point we are at right now. This combined with a not so great stay at my friends house the other day where she basically bullied my friend's twins, has left us confounded as to what to do and how best to help her mix and behave with other kids, her peers. Wise suggestions from my mother, a preschool educator in the past, and friends who've had their kids in preschool started to filter in and have us revisit the idea.

Miss E is a delight. She makes me laugh every single day. She amazes me with her speech and her topics of conversation. She is moving into a phase now where it is so much fun to see her and her brother interact and have fun, together. However, she can be challenging in other ways. She has a temper, and she has a hard time with the concept of 'no' regardless of whether she hears it from a peer or an adult. Disciplining her is hard, but we try to remain consistent and have constantly told her that hands are not for hitting, and that if she's frustrated she must use her words to explain how she feels, and not lash out. This has been frustrating for us because it seems like she takes none of it in. This leads to embarrassment on my part when she acts out in front of friends and their kids, or as happened at J's birthday weekend where she took it out on my cousin's kids.

I had an appointment with the director of a fantastic preschool this morning. It is a bit of a drive for us but we went to check it out. I told Miss E we were just going to have a look today and she stormily responded 'I don't want to just look! I want to stay and listen to the teacher!'. A promising sentiment of course, but the manner in which it was delivered had me worried about how this meeting would go.

I need not have worried.

From the instant we arrived at this school Miss E was beyond excited, and chomping at the bit to get inside and look around. We met with the director who showed us their VPK classrooms, and the other classrooms for the younger kids. The only spot that is available is in the 3.5 to 4 year old class. We were invited to check the place out today with the guarded condition that we see how Miss E reacted to this environment, and for the director to gauge if she would be ready for a class with slightly older kids.

As soon as Miss E saw the open door of the VPK classroom she waltzed right in like she was born to it. Her confident, enthusiastic attitude literally gave me goose pimples, not least because she is the polar opposite of the shy child I remember myself being. It was as if she was saying to the world 'Hey, it's school, here I am - I'm READY!' On seeing this, the director immediately said 'I think someone is ready for school' I could have hugged her. The director has no reservations whatsoever about Miss E slotting into the group with the slightly older kids.

All the kids from the various classrooms were moving outside for some playground time so Miss E happily went along with them so I could fill in the paperwork inside. The director was careful to explain to Miss E where the teachers were, and showed her the window through which she could see Mommy - Miss E could have cared less where I was, and while I can pretend that this hurt me, it didn't because I am genuinely thrilled that she is excited about this place, and that the director and the teachers were so welcoming. I chatted some more with the director and the teachers about how things go and I am more than delighted that we've got Miss E in here. This preschool is annexed to a Church, and they have such a loving, safe and caring environment and they strive above all to make learning fun, and make it a place where the kids want to be. Who could ask for more?

Starting the first week in November, my big girl is headed to preschool. Three days a week, three hours each day. One day a month I will volunteer and help out in her class so I'll get to see what their routine is and the kinds of activities she's doing.

Can you tell I'm excited about this? I'm excited for Miss E first and foremost I have a gut feeling that this will be very, very good for her. I'm excited for Baby J because he'll get to have me to himself for a while, something that at 12 months he has yet to experience. And, I am excited for me, too and I don't feel guilty anymore for saying that.

Preschool! Here. We. Come!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

One is FUN!

A few dozen new toys, and a million calories later, we survived the big First Birthday weekend. Baby J was in top form, and loved having all the attention, even if he did get a little overwhelmed and cry when we sang Happy Birthday! Ooops!

With all the worry that we've been through over his hearing lately, we decided that we had to have a big party to celebrate his birthday and focus on all the positives with him, and there are many. I want to look back on this stage in his life and remember it as a happy time, not an anxious time. A time full of the changes we're seeing in Baby J, and the excitement of each new milestone he reaches.

This little man is such a bundle of fun, and is really starting to come out of his shell and hold his own against his sister. Before now, due to Miss E being much more vocal and demanding of our attention, Baby J tended to be a bit of a passive observer really. I feel guilty periodically that I don't seem to give him the same amount of attention as Miss E got at that stage, and that I take advantage of his easy going nature and let him amuse himself perhaps too much. People assure me that this is the normal dynamic in a home with more than one child, but I still feel guilty.

These days, he's getting very vocal. Babbling away, and having full scale 'conversations' with himself every morning in his crib - I hear him over the monitor. I am focusing on these as very good signs that as of now his hearing is plenty good enough, and that he is definitely in line with normal speech development. He is even attempting 'Bye Bye' which sounds more like 'Buh Ba' accompanied by his waving arm.

Several people have asked for updates on our ongoing journey to get to the bottom of J's hearing tests. So far we have had CT scans come back clear, and blood testing reveal that he has a genetic cause for the already identified hearing loss. What we still do not know at this point is what exactly this means in practical terms for J, and what the prognosis is. He has to go through another sedated hearing test next week which will reveal if we are now dealing with hearing loss in his right ear, too. If this is the case it will be a very worrying development and I'm pretty anxious about it. We also meet with clinical geneticists and a pediatric neurologist this month. What exactly they will do, I have no idea. We are just going through with all of the audiologists recommendations in the hope that we get to the bottom of it, determine exactly what we are dealing with and we ask God for the grace to deal with the outcomes along the way. To be honest, I have no idea whether these visits with all these 'ologists' (count them - pediatric neurologist, audiologist, otolaryngologist, speech and language pathologist), is standard protocol following the diagnosis of sensorineuro hearing loss, or if they really suspect that J has issues in all of these areas! It's been a little overwhelming to say the least - but I am now armed with a folder, written questions for each doctor and a determination to leave no stone unturned in terms of finding out what's wrong and what we can do about it.

At this point, I am trying my best to focus on all these positives, and hope for the best - that is that this hearing issue remains as minor as it is now, and does not progressively deteriorate. At the same time, I have to try and prepare myself for news that I don't really want to hear in the hope that I can accept it and move forward positively for Baby J.

Above all, I do not want J to ever feel sad about this, or feel that he is or will be disadvantaged in any way. I want him to see me as a mother who will take on the world on his behalf, and later take it on with him, so that even later he can go out there and take it on himself!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Happy Birthday Little Man

Baby J has his First Birthday tomorrow.

We have lots of fun in store which means lots of baking, cooking and organizing for me today. I will get a proper birthday post up, but in the meantime enjoy these pictures of his first year. Hope they make you smile as much as they did me!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

A Bouquet of Blooming Blog Bling

I am the proud recipient of several prizes lately.

First of all, I won a little prize draw at Parent Product Reviews. This arrived in the mail for me yesterday - what a nice treat to open something that wasn't a bill! Erika has great reviews, and even greater giveaways going on over at Parent Product Reviews, so if you haven't checked her out, go do it - oh, and come right back here to read about my other prizes, okay?

On to the Blog Bling.

Janice at Twist and Skewer has very kindly awarded me this great blog award and I am very flattered to receive it.

According to the blurb, this award 'casts a spotlight on bloggers who are just beginning to draw lotsa attention — the equivalent of a song with a bullet on Billboard’s Top 100 chart. Lotsa good posts. Lotsa good buzz. These bloggers are going places in a hurry.'.

Thank you so much Janice! I started this blog in April, primarily as a brain dump, and as a vehicle to chronicle some improvements I wanted to make in various aspects of life. I have been so delighted to find that many other bloggers dump the same kind of brain junk as me, face similar parenting challenges and want to make the same improvements. The sense of community and support has been very inspiring. It tickles me pink to know that people actually enjoy reading what I have to say!

I am supposed to pass this award on to five other people, and I will - but I need to think about it for a while. There are many bloggers out there who've been at this a lot longer than me, and so I don't think they fit into the 'break out' category, as they have already broken out and are leading the posse at this point. I have come across several 'new to me' blogs, some of them new bloggers like myself and I will consider them for this award, soon.

Momchatter (I feel bad not using your name, but I don't know it!) has bestowed upon me, not one, but two lovely awards:

Thank you very, very much for these - I seriously am very flattered, and thank you for your kind words on your own blog.

Now I can pass these two awards on to some of my favourite bloggers without hesitation.

Velveteen Mind Most of my readers read Megan's blog I'm sure, so I don't need to explain why I'm giving her these awards. If you're not reading Velveteen Mind - you're missing a treat. Check her out, I guarantee you'll be back for more.

Playgroups are no place for children Jennifer has posted lately on a lot of issues that I have faced as a stay at home mum, and I feel her frustration, exhaustion and her exhilaration, often all at the same time.

Braveheart does the Maghreb Lady M's wonderful accounts of life in Morocco are hypnotic. Morocco isn't somewhere I thought I'd like to visit, but reading her stories makes me want to pack my bags and go there, now.

Not wrong, just different This is a British lady living in the States. She writes about some of the same adjustments I've had to make, and the oddities I've discovered here, and she does it with a great sense of humour, too.

Poot and Cubby Andi and I are living parallel lives and our daughters are eerily similar that I could literally cut and paste her posts as they apply to our lives.

Absolutely Bananas Jenny is one of the first bloggers I read regularly when I started and I still read every single post. She is absolutely bananas, and a whole lot of fun.

Up in the Night I don't remember how I came across this blog, but I love Shauna's accounts of the crazies of family life. Her blog is a nice mix of fun and serious stuff, of the lighthearted and not so lighthearted aspects of living in a modern family.

Flamenco Mom Flamenco Mom's is another blog I've read since I started, and she helped me with some of my novice blogger questions. Another inspiring mother and one that has her share of parenting challenges. She has also been great in encouraging me as we deal with the unknown on Baby J's hearing.

There you have it - my shiny new blog awards, my round up of awardees, and with that I have to split since I have a big birthday party coming up on Saturday, and guests arriving tomorrow and I am not in the least bit organized for it all. Ah, well - I laugh in the face of deadlines, and do my best work under pressure!

Me-me meh meh, doo doo de doo doo!

It's been a while, and I've done these memes before, but since I have some new readers, and have been asked so nicely, I'm going to do them again. I'll change the answers up a bit so as not to give anyone deja-vu.

Doodaddy has tagged me for this Ten Questions Meme.

1. What were you doing 10 years ago?

I was working in Marketing in a large bank and feeling surprised and not a little delighted that the guy I met on holidays a month ago was keeping in touch with me. This guy is now my husband.

2. What were you doing one year ago?

I was lumbering around, large and lovely, expecting Baby J to arrive any day. Countless bouts of contractions and two scares with premature labour had me believing he'd have been here by now. I was also feeling very sad for the Amish mothers in Lancaster, PA who were all over the news after a crazed gunman executed their children in their schoolroom. I thought of them a lot when I had Joseph, and talked with the nurses about them, and the scary world I'd brought my son into.

3. What are five snacks you enjoy?

Chocolate (is there anyone who doesn't enjoy this?)
Ice cream
Edamame (a very newly discovered snack for me and I'm thrilled that it's healthy!)
Chips and Salsa
More chocolate!

4. What are 5 songs you know the lyrics to?

Unless you count nursery rhymes, there are aren't many songs to which I know all the lyrics (well, at a pinch I could belt out all of Don Maclean's 'American Pie', but there has to be beer involved.)
I could also make a fair stab at the title of this blog post, a la The Muppet Show

5. Five things you'd do if you were a millionaire?

Pay off debt.
Share it with family.
Donate to charity.
Buy a new closet full of clothes (if I could borrow Stacey and Clinton from 'What not to Wear', all the better, again there might have to be beer involved to save me from hurt feelings - they're very blunt aren't they?)
Move house.

6. Five bad habits.

Blogging when I should be doing housework, or starting the dinner!
Letting clean laundry pile up so I have to iron it all (see first bad habit).
Getting to after 12pm and thinking about lunch, only to realise I have not yet eaten breakfast.
Dropping four letter words when I shouldn't!
Shouting at bad drivers (this involves some of those four letter words that I shouldn't be using).

7. Five things you like to do.

Walk around this beautiful lake.

Read with my children.
Read without my children (and preferably books without pictures.)
Welcome visitors to our home.
Make people happy.

8. Five things you would never wear.

Leggings - oh wait, too late - I wore them in the 80s, and bought them again in May when in Ireland - not sure what I was thinking, either time!
I'll probably never wear a bikini again.
A Celtic shirt at Ibrox (only a select few readers will get this!)
'Mom' Jeans.

9. Five favourite toys

My computer.
My ipod.
My new camera.
Miss E's lego and Miss E's puzzles.

10. Five things you hate to do.

Go to the GYN when I'm not pregnant. I'm overdue an annual, and hate the thought of going!
I hate doing the tax return. Each year I get better organized with the information and keep good records, but it is a hateful job.
I hate watching my husband's choice in TV shows - Cops?, World's Most Shocking Police Chases?, Dirty Jobs? Anything starring Clint Eastwood years ago?
I hate cleaning up after mealtimes these days since more food seems to land on the floor, than in little tummies than seems reasonable to me.
I hate running late for appointments, or playdates, yet we do, every.single.time!

Phew - that was harder than I thought. Now if you're still awake, I'd like to remedy that by presenting yet another list of oh not so fascinating facts about me. Momchatter tagged me for a 'Five interesting factoids about me' meme. She also awarded me some very nice blog awards which I'll post separately.

So Momchatter - here are your 5 facts about me, I hope you're not sorry you asked ha ha!

1. I was born in Zimbabwe (it was known as Rhodesia when I was born). - I've mentioned about being born in Africa, not sure if I've ever revealed exactly where. My parents lived in Zambia, and crossed the border into Zimbabwe where I was delivered by a doctor in his private clinic. Apparently this clinic wasn't far from here:

2. My Mum and Dad brought be back to Zambia when I was a day old. That was when I crossed my first international border. I lived there with them until I was almost 2 years old. I would love to travel back to Zambia and Zimbabwe some day - but not while Mugabe remains president of Zimbabwe.

3. At University I had no clear idea of what I wanted as a career. I took my career teacher at school's advice and chose subjects that interested me. This is why I graduated with a Major in Economic and Social History, and a Minor in Psychology. A bit of an odd mixture, but a perfect combination as I later found out, for a career in marketing.

4. I had long labours with both my children and pushed for 3 hours with Miss E, and 2.5 hours with Baby J. My OB has no idea why it takes me so long, just lucky I guess! Baby J was born facing upwards and this combined with the length of time I was pushing left him with huge bruising on his wee head that took 2 weeks to disappear. His pediatrician suspected that it wasn't bruising, and it was instead permanent birthmarking - so you can imagine how upset I was at that - and how relieved I am that he was wrong.

5. When I moved here to Central Florida five years ago, I was itching to move to South Florida where my cousin lives, so that I would be closer to someone in my family. D had worked there before so I thought it would be an option - it wasn't. I've spent the last 5 years getting comfortable here, and now he wants to move to South Florida and I don't!

*ahem*, *AHEM*, you can stop snoring now, and wipe that dribble off your chin - it's over now, all finished!

Thanks to Doodaddy and Momchatter for the tags. I'm not going to pass on the meme, because the one time that I did tag others for a meme (when my standard MO was not to tag), nobody did it! [Sticking my bottom lip out as far as it will go in true Miss E style]!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Five reasons to curse myself for forgetting my camera

1. We took our walk around the lake again today (well, I walked, kids rolled!). It rained this morning and the gorgeous big lily pads at the water's edge were covered in rain droplets that would have made for fabulous photos. They looked like semi-spherical crystals floating atop their vibrant green platforms.

2. I don't have a picture to show you of Miss E and her traveling companion Miss Minnie Mouse, all strapped in, enjoying their stroll.

3. A mama duck, and her two babies walked right up to us as I stopped to give the kids their water bottles. Two gorgeous little ducklings and I couldn't take a snap of them (I'm really bummed about that, but fear that mama duck might have taken a snap at me perhaps if I'd gone shoving my camera at them, but still).

4. I missed capturing the looks on the faces of passersby as I sashayed my way along, pushing the stroller and humming to the beat of Michael Buble's 'Save the last dance for me' (I defy anyone to listen to that and not want to go all Dancing with the Stars right there on the spot!).

5. Video might have been more appropriate for this, but I missed getting Baby J's reactions to the sounds he can so clearly hear, the birds and the cars, and turning to the source of each noise as it happened.

And why did I forget my camera? Because I took it out of my ready prepared diaper bag to take a shot of this:

Miss E thinking she's ready for the off and saying 'Let's rock and roll, Mommy!'. I did of course change her out of her nightdress and put some clothes and shoes on her, but the rest of the outfit and accessories stayed the same!

There are some days when I question my sanity in deciding to stay at home, then there are others, like today when I know there's no place I'd rather be.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Florida Fall

It is here, at last! Some cooler weather. It's still hot, but the breeze we've had in the last few days has brought nothing short of ecstasy to those of us craving some outside time down here.

Summer in Florida is not a pleasant time for me - I can't stand to be outside for longer than it takes for me to get from the front door to the mailbox and back. The heat, the humidity, the sweating in the hot searing sun. All of it is disgusting.

But now? Ahhhhhhh!

This morning I took the kids on a walk around a local lake.

This is part of my jumping back on the Makeover Monday bandwagon. A commitment to walk around this lake at least 3 times a week. This is a beautiful time of year to do it and goodness knows after reading this, and this I know I am a big time slacker in the fitness department.

As a secondary goal, I think I should study up on some ornithology so that when Miss E asks me 'What's that bird Mommy?',

Or, 'What are those birds Mommy?',

I won't have to answer 'duck' and hope for the best!

Pushing these two*,

three miles around this lake three times a week in their trusty chariot will do wonders for our health and our appreciation of wildlife (unless a stinkin' 'gator comes outta that there water!**) With some great music and perhaps an audiobook loaded up on my ipod I'll be racking it up to five times a week in no time!

*I promise you I do fix my daughter's hair, but as much as I like to brush and style it, her standard procedure immediately thereafter is to wreck it. I didn't bother to battle with her before this photo, and I got a smile. Smiles, and pretty hair are generally mutually exclusive concepts in our experience.

** Let's hope this doesn't happen before I have built up the strength and stamina to actually run with that stroller at the sight of any emerging reptiles!