From The Home Office

Yea, Frank!

We spent a lazy weekend together plotting our summer vacation. Thank heaven for MapQuest! It was quite a trick to plan a 5500-mile trip that includes online access at every stop. We were somewhat successful, with the exception of a national park where we'll be so far out in the boonies that we won't even have cell phone access that night. But, we'll have someone else monitoring the sites, so we're not worried about it. Gosh, we may even feel like we're on vacation that night! …

Look Out, America. Here We Come!

Last week, I told you all that we were considering trading in our pop-up camper for a bigger one. Well, we did it. We traded in our little pop-up camper for a 24-foot RV! Yeehaw!!! Look out, America, here we come! …

A Horrible Case of Cabin Fever

We had a horrible case of cabin fever last week, so we took a day trip on Sunday to a small island off the coast of Maine. With the sky clear and blue and the snow-covered mountains in the distance, the drive was beautiful! In Bangor, all the rivers and streams are completely iced over. However, south of Freeport, the rivers are running freely, but still have icy banks. We stopped at a couple of large antique malls along the way. One had ramps leading from one room to another, and each time we pushed the stroller down a ramp, Max would yell... …

Reeling From Our Psychic Moment

Last week, we decided to cut down on the family's carb consumption, and man-oh-man you should hear the whining at dinnertime! "Salmon again?!" "Where's the bread? Has anyone seen the bread?" "What is soy flour?" And, my personal favorite, "Unsweetened chocolate? This stuff tastes AWFUL!" (And you should have seen Ali's face when she took a big bite of it!) …

Dreams of a Fictitious Childhood

Last night I dreamed I was at Richard's mother's house watching old videotapes from when I was a little girl. The videotape I was watching was of when I was a little girl at summer camp. In the video, I was on a boat, going down a river, videotaping the boys' side of the camp (ah, ask my mother about the stress I caused her in those years!). In one scene in the video, I zoomed in on one boy who was sleeping peacefully in his bunk. And, that little boy was Richard! I was shocked and jumped up (in my dream), yelling for Richard to come into his mom's living room so I could show him that we had actually attended summer camp at the same time when we were quite young. …

Sticky Purple Slushy Goop…

What started as a few dropped green beans at dinnertime has grown to a problem of monstrously messy proportions. Yesterday, Max stood right in front of me and turned his fruit punch upside down. His eyes widened with glee and mine widened with horror as we both watched 12 ounces of red punch splatter onto our baby blue carpet. …

Looking UP at Your Younger Sister

I realized last night that I no longer have to crawl up on the counter to put the serving dishes away! Now, I can call Ali to put them up there for me! She's the tallest one in the family, even taller than her older brother, Zach. And, he is NOT happy about that, let me tell you! …

Cough, Hack, Wheez…

We're having one of those weeks. Max has been very ill. Frank has started coughing again (he's been sick for a couple of weeks now), and I'm coming down with my third bug since Christmas. This morning it was 9 below zero, his morning it was 9 below zero. Frank missed the bus, Percy (the dog) threw up on the carpet, and then van wouldn't start... …

Frozen Nose Hairs

Well, during basketball practice last week, Ali somehow managed to dislocate her basketball coach's finger. However, he was much kinder than my old gymnastics coach, and even "set" his finger behind his back so as not to further upset Ali. Apparently it's something that happens to him a lot, but Ali was still quite distraught. …

In Memory of Bob

Several months ago, I was approached by Bob Freiday, a highly successful freelance journalist, about a book idea. I liked his idea and, in record time, his book was complete and we published it as a trade paperback and as an ebook. Bob admitted during our myriad of emails that he was often under the weather, suffering from "Cat Scratch Fever." The emails we exchanged after that included humorous recipes that he could test on his mother's cat (the one that scratched him). Bob got really ill in October and I received a cryptic email from him one day, asking me to send... …

Not As Clean As You Thought…

We spent New Year's Eve eating cheese and crackers and playing charades with friends...which means we must be getting old. I've always hated New Year's Eve. Being married to an alcoholic (my ex) for 12 1/2 years will do that to you. We left by 9:30, picked up one of Frank's friends, and went in search of a burger. For some odd reason, every burger and fast food joint in town was closed. So, we had a late night, quickie dinner at Olive Garden and drove home to watch movies and eat popcorn. It was, by far, the best New Year's Eve ever! When we flipped the channel to watch the ball drop in New York City, I wasn't dreaming about what I'll be doing next year. I was reflecting on how much better life is for the children and me since marrying Richard more than four years ago. We are truly blessed! Last night, Zach had a friend over for dinner. I'd cooked up a fun kabob dish and we were all having a nice time eating and chatting about the children's Christmas vacation. Out of the blue, Max put his fork down and said, quite loudly... …

Aaaah! What a Relief!

Aaaah! What a relief! I love the holidays, but I sure am happy when they're finally over. No more shopping, no more wrapping, no more rushing, hustle and bustle. Aaaah, now we can just relax. We did have one unfortunately incident this week. Ali turned 13... …

Stuck In The Subway Turnstile

Our mini-holiday vacation by train to Boston was super! We ate gobs of good food, froze our rear ends off while walking everywhere, and collapsed in a fit of giggles when Ali got her suitcase handle stuck in the subway turnstile... …

Meteor and Snow Showers!

Well, we had quite a magical, celestial evening on Friday night! On the way home from dinner, with a wind chill below zero outside and Christmas music piping through the speakers in the van inside, Frank suddenly yelled from the backseat, "I just saw a white light shoot through the sky!" We all got excited and started looking out all the windows, but we didn't see anything else...yet. A few minutes later, Richard and I were sitting in the front and, out of space (literally), a green ball of light shot out of the sky and appeared to travel... …

The 8 Worst Gifts You Can Buy for Children (and 8 alternatives!)

Last weekend, while buying Frank a pair of shoes, I overheard an elderly couple shopping for a gift for their grandson. They were going to buy him snow boots for Christmas. I immediately thought, "How will they know the right size?" Geez, I can't even get shoe sizes right when my children are right there with me and I have to seek professional help (the store clerk). How was this couple going to get the size right on a child who, obviously, lived in another town? Each year, relatives write asking us what the children want for Christmas. I'm happy to give them hints on what the children would like, but also ask them to avoid certain popular toys and other items we've had personal experience with. I'm sure many of you parents know exactly what I'm talking about. So, today I'm sharing my list of the worst presents to buy for children, along with alternatives that will make them very happy... …

Buying Gifts for People Who Have Everything…

I got really depressed over the weekend when I opened up my Christmas gift list from last year, and realized that most of the gifts we bought for the children and our relatives are no longer in use. Frank's gigantic lego plane? Gone (Percy chewed up most of the small pieces). Ali's "I HAVE to have it!" sweater with the fake-fur collar? Gone. (The washing machine ate all the fur within 24 hours). Zach's video game system? Obsolete. (They only make games for the higher edition now.) …

When Naughty Children Peek at Their Presents!

Well, I did it. I installed a heavy-duty combination lock on our bedroom closet door. You see, Frank (age 11) peeks at his presents every year, and always has. And, it doesn't appear to bother him each Christmas morning when there are no surprises left. His …

Max-Speak

Max (age 26 months) has an ever-expanding vocabulary. To preserve his hilarious "Max Speak", I write Max…

Cold Wind A Whistling

I woke up on Saturday morning to Max (26-months-old) forcibly opening my left eyelid and whispering, "Way up, Mom! Way up, Mom!" I opened my eyes and smiled and he said, "Wissen!" So, I cocked my ear up and opened my eyes wide, rolling them around to make him laugh while trying to make out the sound he was listening to (he just learned the word "noise"). A cold front had blown through overnight and I realized a cold wind was whistling around the windows. I opened my mouth wide and said, "Oooh!" And Max replied, "I hear noise! I hear wind! I like wind!" I scooped him into my arms and said, "I like wind, too!" …

Witness to the Aurora borealis

Well, we had an interesting week, to say the least. For the first time ever, we were blessed to be witness to the Aurora borealis! It was one of the most spectacular, beautiful and majestic phenomena we've ever seen! I've seen pictures of it my entire life, and knew, while growing up, that I'd never see it in Texas. But, after moving to Maine, I somehow assumed I'd see it each year. That wasn't to be as we've been here for three years and haven’t been blessed with this event before now. But, after that large solar storm last week, my neighbor, Rita, called and excitedly said, "I'm outside and you're missin' it!" …

Max is Potty Trained

Well, after only a few weeks of frequent reminders (Need to potty, Max?! Huh? Huh??) and heaps of praise ("Yea! Big boy Max went potty! Let's do the potty dance! Yippee! Yahoo!!), Max (age 25 months) is potty trained! He never has accidents on the floor and is very proud of himself each time he "makes potty." So proud, in fact, that when he does "make potty", he goes through the entire house, clapping his hands, and telling everyone present (family, friends, and even the UPS guy), "I made potty! I made potty!! Do potty dance!! Do potty dance!!" And, of course, we all dance! I have to say that Max was, by far, the easiest of all the children to potty train. Shwew! And we're already counting how much money we're going to save on diapers! The amount will be significant! Max even insists on removing the little potty bowl himself and dumping it into the Big Boy Toilet (yes, he washes his hands). Yesterday, he made a big boy poopie in his potty and, much to Zach's horror, carried it into Zach's room to show Zach and his teenage friends his "Big Boy Poopie." Do you know what a toilet tattoo is? It's what Max gets when he sits on his little potty for an hour while watching cartoons. He sure loves his potty! Hugs to everybody! Ang …

The Grandmas

The in-laws are gone and life seems to be getting back to normal. My mommy-in-law completely redecorated the downstairs bathroom while she was here, including painting the walls. It looks really, really nice! Max had two grandmas here, so he kept calling them "The Grandmas." For the first time in a quarter century, Zach's high school golf team (Bangor High) won first place in the state tournament on Saturday! Zach was very proud of the medal he won (he was one of five players to represent the team) and Bangor High School will have a new trophy for the trophy case. Max has finally figured out how to say Frank's name. He calls him "Mank." It's really cute! Frank's Columbus Day play was last week and he made a fine, handsome sailor and remembered all his lines! (Funny...none of our children have stage fright.) During the performance, when Frank walked on-stage, Max waved his chubby arms and yelled, "Hi Mank!" Frank smiled, broke character, and waved back at Max. Max was happy. I met with all of Ali's teachers last week for parent/teacher day and her language arts teacher says she's "...quite the writer!" I hear that every year and it always makes my chest swell with pride. The leaves seem to be at their peak right now here in Bangor and, even after four years, the brightness and depth of the colors still take my breath away. So, on Monday, we went leaf-watching. A cold front had blown through on Sunday night, so the stiff, cold winds make it a perfect day to bundle up and enjoy God's art show. Hugs to everybody! Ang …

Bailey Meets Mr. Stinkie

Well, Autumn is certainly persistent! She and her dog, Bailey, have been staying with us for…

Blonde Pussy Cat

Some of you may remember last Christmas when I was searching for the Betsy Wetsy doll…

Fall Foliage Peaking

The fall foliage is going to peak in the next couple of weeks here in Bangor…

Fall is Gone

Well, it’s official. Fall is gone and summer has returned. It’s been in the upper 80’s…

Big Feet

Ah, school shopping. It's expensive and exhausting...but I've never really thought of it as humorous, until last week. Ali and I spent several hours at the mall together one evening. Because she attends private school, she's not allowed to wear any clothes that have brand names appearing on them (except shoes) and her clothes must be in neutral, earth-tone colors. Also, her collars must be at her collarbone and any skirts must be no shorter than her knees. You can see that finding clothes that meet all these criteria can take quite awhile. Frankly, I wish they'd just assign uniforms! …

Fall is on the Way

Well, I have good news for our old friends in Texas who have been suffering through 100+ degree temperatures most of the summer. Fall is on the way! On Friday night, the first true cold front of the season blew through Bangor, Maine, infusing us all with that crisp, refreshing Fall feeling...you know the one I'm talking about. When we woke up to 43-degree weather, Ali, Frank and I immediately rushed out to the craft store to pick up materials for three new comfy, cozy quilts. This year, Zach, Frank and Max are getting new quilts for their beds. Ali and I should have them finished by the end of September. There's nothing better than quilting by hand and watching old movies on chilly, windy autumn days! …

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