Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pumpkin Patch Play

Over the weekend we did the obligatory pumpkin patch fall farm day. This year we picked Souther Belle Farms. A great farm with a pumpkin patch, huge corn maze, cow train, peda carts, corn cannons, hay slides, pig races, and more. We went with my sister Tara and her kids Savahhah (10), Shelby (8), John (6), and Landon (3).

The kids were immediately impressed with the pumpkin patch and wanted to spend all of their time there. But we convinced
them there was more to see.

That would include the cow train...

(Shelby was particularly impressed)...

A litle time in the kiddie corral with horse swings made from recycled tires...

Several runs down the fastest slide on any farm for 100 miles..

And then on to the corn maze

But not just any little dinky corn maze. This one was massive and divided into three mazes of escalating length and difficulty.

Maze #1. We all went in together. We got a little separated. Bill and I got turned around and exited out the entrance, but within 10 minutes everyone was out and all was good.

Maze #2. Potty break for the little ones so John went into the maze followed by Savannah and Shelby hand in hand with Bailey.

Five minutes later John came running out and we figured the girls would be right behind...

But it wasn't so. The minutes pass and we start to worry. We start asking others coming out if they saw the girls and no one had. So Bill and I head into the maze to see if we can find them, no luck. At about the 20 minute mark, Savannah calls on her cell phone. Thank goodness for a 10 year old having a cell phone. They somehow got separated from Shelby. Shelby was somewhere lost and alone and Savannah was with Bailey lost, scared and crying. I had Savannah yell at the top of the lungs and we couldn't hear her. The maze was that big. I was running through the maze in my new practical high heeled crocs yelling for them. I finally came across a lookout bridge and climbed it and low and behold I found Savannah on a lookout bridge in maze three. Only problem was none of the workers knew how to get to that bridge. It was off of the trail. We finally found one guy who knew exactly how to get to her. He ran through to get Savannah and Bailey and in the meantime Shelby had been found by a passerby in Maze 2. She was crying, distraught, and just happy to be back with everyone. About 30 minutes after the girls had gone in the maze, Savannah and Bailey were escorted out. Here's our hero...

That was enough corn maze fun for one day so on to release some anxiety by shooting corn husks from a pressurized cannon....

And playing in the maize...

By this time it was near closing time. Just enough time to pick our pumpkins...

And call it a day in our adventures at the farm.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What no parent wants to hear

Last night Reagan and I had a conversation:

Reagan: I don't have any friends
Me: What are you talking about? You have lots of friends. Everyone likes you.
Reagan: Then why won't they play with me?

Ugh! Just crush me. Spear my heart and take it out with a fork. This was something I hoped I'd never have to hear. No parent wants to hear that their child is being picked on, doesn't belong, or doesn't have any friends.

This bothered me all night. I couldn't wait to get to school in the morning to talk to her teacher and see what was going on. She's only been at her school a few weeks but as far as I could tell she was transitioning just fine.

When I got to school I told her teacher what Reagan said. Her teacher almost laughed and said, "Reagan? Reagan clicked with everyone immediately. She's always playing with someone. She's got lots of friends here."

It turns out Reagan was just getting a little homesick for her old friends and was missing them. I feel bad that she misses her old friends, but drew a heavy sigh of relief that all is well in her new school.

Let's hope it is a very long time before we have that conversation again. In fact, how about never?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sick baby

Bailey came down with the flu recently. Not one to cry, she just sat still in her most pitiful pout that she could muster. She missed her entire first week at her new school as her temperature reached as high as 103.7 at one point.

Poor baby!

Changing Times

We recently made a decision to change schools with the girls. We've loved where they have been but we haven't loved the hefty monthly bill and the long commute. So the girls have started at a new school that is just minutes from the house. So far, they are quite happy and that makes us happy.

Reagan's favorite part about her new school? She doesn't have to wear uniforms anymore. She's been picking out her clothes every morning and loves the opportunity to do so.

Here are the girls in their last day of uniforms. Here's to new schools, new friends, and new memories.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

It All Started With Two Pink Lines and a Computer

Four years ago, I found out I was pregnant with Reagan. Daunted at the news and some ensuing complications, I did what many modern women do-- I took to the internet. I thought I was just looking for the answers to "morning sickness cures." While I never did find the answers to curing morning sickness, I found something much greater--friends.

It started when I stumbled across a "mommy board" where all of the women were expecting babies at the same time as me. Many were experiencing the same problems as me. Many had the same questions as me. I can't pinpoint the moment where this mommy board turned. Turned from being a resource of anonymous women providing answers, to being a conglomeration of wonderful friends providing support and comfort. But it did happen. And over the course of four years the desire to go from being friends through a network of fibre cables to being friends in the flesh became quite great. So much so, that some of us finally decided to meet.

Over the weekend, six of us from across the country converged in New York City to meet in person for the first time. I wasn't the least bit nervous. Through the boards and then through blogs, I felt as though I had gotten to know these women quite well. They were at a distinct disadvantage with me, however. I hadn't blogged all year so they didn't really know what had been going on with me and over time I'm sure the memory of me had faded a bit. After all, I was still only pixels and memories to them at this point. Nonetheless, they still wanted to meet me and I them.

In short, it was a fabulous weekend. The trip was everything I had hoped it would be and more. The women were everything I had come to know them to be and more.

I don't want to take away from the great posts that my new "real life" friends have already written, so let me point you their way so you can check out their take on the trips in first person view. It's interesting to me that all of them wrote very different posts about the same weekend. They all wrote their posts with focuses from their own strengths and their personality. Had I not have met them in person and been part of the weekend, why they each wrote with a different slant would have been totally lost on me. I love that I've now been able to delve into that aspect of them and see even more into their posts.
  • Joanna wrote a fabulous post about the trip and the good, human side of the internet and summed it up beautifully as "Jelly Bellies for the soul." It was a fitting post coming from a woman who is even smarter and wittier than her posts allow her to be, and that is saying much.
  • Lindsay wrote a great post about where we went, what we did, and how we ate, shopped, and twittered ourselves across the city. Lindsay is a planner and an organizer. She sent out spreadsheets and Word documents about our trip plans and emergency contacts. Can I just say just how much I love that?
  • Laura is the photographer I hope to be one day. She took some great pictures and applied some skillful editing to make us all look good. Her post is loaded with some of those great photos.
  • London wrote of our "shenanigans" and conversations. London has a flair for writing and words and it was only fitting that she would focus on that aspect.
  • Rita wrote--well I'm sure Rita has written her post in her head a dozen times (As she says she often does, and I admit to doing too. I intend to rectify this I swear!). Since Rita hasn't published her post, I'll speculate on what Rita has swimming in her head. I'm guessing Rita would write a post focusing more on people's character and personality. Rita herself is a person booming with character and personality, as are the other women. But in Rita's case, it seems to come easiest for her to know exactly who she is and to be precisely that.
I think the descriptions of each person in the above posts were quite accurate so I won't repeat those. Allow me to sum up how I feel about all of these women by saying that although we have different political, ideological, and whatever views, we still have much in common. They are all women I greatly respect and admire. They are all smart, friendly, compassionate, funny women. I laughed this weekend and let go like I hadn't in ages. It was like meeting old friends from school and just picking up where we left off years ago. They are all women I would choose to have in my circle of friends if they lived close to me. But since they don't, I'll have to continue to know them through Facebook, Twitter, and their blogs. Then, when we meet again next year, we'll just once again pick up where we left off.

It was such a wonderful experience that I hope to meet more of my online friends in the future. It's truly amazing to me that this whole weekend started its making four years ago as nothing more than a search for answers after seeing two little pink lines on a pregnancy test. And know I have the pleasure of calling five amazing women...friends.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

My 9/11 Story

I appreciate the many emails, comments, and concerns I've received over the last several months regarding my absence here. Please know that I appreciated every one of them. You all made me feel loved. I will be back to posting VERY, VERY soon, I promise. But first, let me retell my story I published last year of my 9/11 experience.

May we always remember.

It was September 10, 2001. As the plane made its approach into the Newark airport, I did my usual routine. Looking out the window, I looked for the Twin towers of the World Trade Center. They were always so easy to spot on the edge of the skyline. From there, it was a straight shot down to find the little green spot that was the Statue of Liberty. I never got used to how tiny Lady Liberty was against the massive skyscrapers. The pictures and stories of her always seemed to make her seem much bigger in proportion than she really is.

I found my Twin Towers, found the Statue of Liberty. Check, and check, my ritual was done and I could go back to my latest James Patterson book. It was never really worth the time, but it was the only thing left in the newsstand selection of 20 books I hadn't read.

I picked up my rental car, drove to my hotel and checked in. I considered going into the city for dinner. I was just across the river from Manhattan and had nothing to do until I started teaching my class the following morning. But I decided I was tired of the city and same old same old and ordered room service and worked on reading my book.

Morning came and my day started just like the other 600 classes I had started before. I greeted students, made sure the computers were setup properly, familiarized myself with the facility, and made sure I knew who my contact was if an issue arose. At 8:30 the class promptly began and I started my introduction that at this point was a memorized speech.

Around 8:45, a student's phone rang. I made a mental note to make sure I moved up my "please silence your phones, put pagers on stun, etc." speech and glared at the student as she took the call in the middle of the class. I was hoping she saw my evil eye. Only as I was giving her the evil eye, I was noticing something in her eye--tears and panic. I was caught off guard and paused to look at this student and tried to imagine what sort of family emergency has just happened. She put down her phone and with a trembling voice and trying to hold back her tears said, "Something has happened. There was an explosion or something at the World Trade Center."

With the vast numbers of people that work at the WTC and being just across the river, I don't believe there was a single student that didn't also panic. No one in that classroom was without a loved one, a neighbor, or a friend that didn't work there and was immediately concerned for their safety. We stopped class while everyone started making phone calls, getting on the internet, going outside to see if we could see anything. Details were sketchy but it was clear that something big had happened. Then we find out it was a plane that crashed through. What a terrible accident, how could that have happened? Wait! There's a second plane! It just crashed into the other tower! This wasn't an accident! Our nation is being attacked and I'm sitting 10 miles from the epicenter.

We dismiss class and tell people to go home and try to find out what has happened to all of their loved ones. The phones were completely overloaded and everyone was having trouble getting through. My sister, Tara, was the first to get a message to me. Her message was, "Hey! I was just checking to make sure you are ok. I don't know where in the world your are today, but given your history of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, I'm guessing you are in NY. Call us and let us know." I was finally able to get through to her and to Mom to say yes, I was in NY, but I was fine. That didn't stop my Mom from being near hysterical but I assured her I was ok and not in danger. Was I in danger? I didn't really know. I still didn't know entirely what was going on. My statement meant I was alive and ok at the moment but I wasn't going to tell her that distinction.

In my stupor I go back to my hotel to watch the news and surf the net to figure out what is going on. On the way I could see the smoke pouring from the towers. I wasn't close enough to see the towers. I couldn't handle looking at them yet anyway. I learn the Pentagon was also attacked and there's word of potentially some heroes that ensured a fourth plane wouldn't take another target. Then, right there on my TV, it happened. I watched the first building buckle like a house of cards. I began sobbing thinking of all of my students and their loved ones. There were husbands, wives, sisters, even children in the daycare. How many were lost? Shortly after I see the second building collapse and I can no longer sit in my room.

I got into my car. I drove down towards the towers. When they were in clear view of the massive black pouring of smoke, I pulled over. Right there on the interstate I pulled over to the emergency lane and with everyone else and got out of my car and stood along the wall. There were no more towers to see, only smoke. I wish I had paid more attention to them yesterday. I wish I had known that would be the last time I would set site to the grand buildings. I would have looked longer, I would have gone into the city and taken another tour of them, I would have done a lot of things different.

I don't know how long I stood there crying just watching, sobbing, being numb. Emergency vehicles were constantly roaring down the interstate behind me, heading for the scene. Every time I heard their siren it jolted me out of my trance for just a second. Finally I put my thoughts together and decided I would do the only thing I could do, I would go donate blood. Surely there were many injured survivors that would need blood. I could do that. I found out a location of a Red Cross. Apparently half the city had the same idea. I was turned away as they couldn't handle any more donations. Defeated and unable to help in any way I could fathom, I went back to my hotel.

When I got to my hotel, the scene had changed. They were using the lobby as a makeshift treatment facility for emergency workers suffering from smoke inhalation and other minor injuries. Camera crews from neighboring cities had checked in and set up shop. I went to my room and cried again. I had never felt so alone. It was too far to drive home and the airports were shut down tight. I was stuck. I had no one I knew, no one who loved me to hug me and tell me everything would be ok. I cried myself to sleep.

A few hours later I woke with a start. Had I left the iron on this morning? What is that burning smell? I checked the iron. It was unplugged and put away thanks to the housekeeping service. Was it my curling iron? No, it was off too. I stepped out of my room and still smelled that wretched smell that burned my nose. My heart was heavy as I finally processed what that smell was. It wasn't the curling iron, or the iron, or the air system. It was the smell of the burning of two giant skyscrapers, two planes, and all of the people for whom it became a tomb. It was the smell of death. It is a smell that didn't escape me the rest of the time I was there and a smell that still plagues me to this day. This was the most vivid of my memories.

The next morning I showed up for class. I figured it had been canceled but no one was able to get through to tell me otherwise. I had nothing else to do anyway. To my surprise, six others showed up too. I learned that many in that class lost loved ones. It wasn't the news I wanted to hear. But there were six out of 24 that had shown up, that had all friends and family accounted for, and they wanted to learn. So I taught. I finally had a purpose in all this madness. I would teach my class and they would help me get through this.

Normally I teach a class by using humor. I skipped the jokes that week. I wasn't in a funny mood and it seemed inappropriate to laugh anyway. I bought them pizzas during lunch and held to every minute of class as precious time for me to have someone to talk to, people to listen to, people who would keep my mind off of what happened 10 miles away.

When the class ended that Friday, I was fortunate enough to be able to make the very first flight out of Newark when it reopened that day. It was times like these that I was glad I put in over 200,000 miles a year on Delta. They saw to it I was going home as soon as I could. My stepdad had been working in Princeton about 45 minutes away. My Mom begged and pleaded with me to drive home with him instead of getting on the plane. I calculated the amount of time I would have to spend with my stepdad in the car and decided I'd rather take my chances with the terrorists in the sky.

Although the airport was nearly empty, it took me four hours to get to my gate. They rifled through everything I owned while it was open on a table for any passerby to view my panties and my other contents. They took my tweezers, my favorite diamond chiseled tweezers that could search and pluck any stray eyebrow hair. They confiscated my water. They made me turn my computer off and on half a dozen times. But I wasn't complaining. I figured all of these precautions weren't going to stop another terrorist attack, but it still made me somehow feel safer nonetheless.

My plane left that Friday afternoon. Just four days after the world had changed. As the flight took off, it flew in the familiar pattern and over near the Twin Towers and Lady Liberty we go. Only this time there would be no towers to begin my ritual of finding The Statue. Instead, the smoke still billowed as black and strong as ever where the buildings once stood. No one spoke as the flight flew past. Tears glistened in everyone's eyes. I paid my respects, said a prayer, and wondered what life was going to be like after today.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Snow Day

Sunday we had snow. Ok, it was only about 1/2" and it never even stuck on the roads. But it was the first time either of the girls ever saw snow. Fortunately, they didn't seem to be too terribly anxious to go get out in it. They were content watching it fall from the warmth of inside the house.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Master of Manipulation

Reagan has long known how to work it to get out of trouble or to get what she wants. I have to admit to having been duped by a two year old many times. Here are some of her more recent attempts:

Last night in the car she got a package of fruit snacks. She was supposed to have shared with Bailey but scarfed them all down before she even handed the first one to her. When I heard Bailey mad, I told Reagan, "Reagan, give Bailey a fruit snack." Reagan said, "They are all gone." I shot her an evil eye. Then the dialog continues:

Reagan: I didn't give Bailey any fruit snack.
Me: I know
Reagan: Mom, I didn't give Bailey any fruit snack.
Me: Ok.
Reagan: Can you give me some fruit snack so I can give some to Bailey?
Me: Think I'm going to fall for that trick a fifth time?

Earlier in the week when Bill told Reagan to give Bailey a fruit snack, Reagan took the whole pack and shoved all of them in her mouth at once. She had fruit snacks falling out of her mouth while she said, "they are all gone" and holds up the empty package.

Then, this morning, Reagan acted out and I put her into timeout. She walked into the corner and stood there for about two seconds then turned around:

Reagan: I'm sorry momma (she starts to walk away to go play)
Me: Thank you for your apology, but you are still in timeout
Reagan: (fussing as she goes back into the corner, pause, pause, turns around)
Reagan: Momma, I need to come tell you something
Me: You can tell me when you are done with timeout. Turn around.
Reagan: Momma, may I come tell you something?
Me: What do you need to tell me?
Reagan: I need to tell you I'm sorry
Me: Ok, thank you
Reagan: May I go play now?
Me: No, you are still in timeout

I hope Bailey doesn't learn all of these tricks this early.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

I got this meme from Facebook but wanted to include it here...

This is probably meant for children a little older, but I asked these questions of my daughter Reagan, who is 2. She gave some interesting responses...

1. What is something mom always says to you?

2. What makes mom happy?
when i smile

3. What makes mom sad?
mommy is sick

4. How does your mom make you laugh?

5. What was your mom like as a child?
mommy's not a baby! bailey is a baby and i'm a big girl!

6. How old is your mom?
ummmm....2. no. i'm 2 and you're 5 and bailey is 1. daddy is 10.

7. How tall is your mom?

8. What is her favorite thing to do?
mermaid! (yeah, I don't know what that is either)

9. What does your mom do when you're not around?

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?

11. What is your mom really good at?
i hear a birdie in a tree

12. What is your mom not very good at?

13. What does your mom do for a job?

14.What is your mom's favorite food?
celery (I hate celery, where did that come from?)

15.What makes you proud of your mom?

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?

17. What do you and your mom do together?
happy yoga

18. How are you and your mom the same?
two eyes

19. How are you and your mom different?

20. How do you know your mom loves you?
big hug and a little hug

21. What does your mom like most about your dad?

22. Where is your mom's favorite place to go? a castle. and target. can we go to the grocery store and get a cookie?

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Saturday afternoon Bill came down with the chills and then went downhill from there. Sunday was his turn to sleep in, so about 12:30pm I went to check on him. He was laying in bed surfing on the laptop. He said he felt just terrible and just wanted to lay in bed all day. Instead of laying in bed I strongly coerced him into getting up and doing a couple of errands with me and the girls. This is despite him saying he thought he had the flu.

I should say, I didn't doubt that Bill was as sick as he said he was. But in all honesty, I thought he was being a a bit of a big baby. Despite being sick, I thought he should still be well enough to be able to go with me on a couple of really small trips. Suck it up buttercup! I go do things when I'm sick too!

Fast forward to Monday, and Karma comes back and hits me in the butt, HARD. Bill is not 100%, but feeling much, much better. After doing a great workout, jogging/walking 3 miles, I was feeling great. But then, just a few hours later and I got the chills. I finally jumped in the shower as an attempt to warm up.

I cannot tell you how quickly I went downhill from there. Yesterday, I was so sick that I needed to go to the doctor and had to have Bill drive me. Today, my bronchitis symptoms are much better but the flu is hitting me so hard I can hardly move.

And what have I learned from all of this?
1) Bill really is a tough guy. The next time he says he's sick, I'm just going to close off the door for quarantine purposes and let him emerge when he's well.

2) Payback is a beyatch. Not only am I sicker and for longer, I get to have the kids all by myself tonight as Bill needs to be gone.

Karma is laughing furiously at me right now. And somewhere under Bill's outward sympathy for me is the smuggest expression of "I told you so" one has ever sported.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Nightime Attire

This is what you get when you let a two year old pick out her own pajamas and dress herself for bed. The photo is missing the red, blue and green knee socks she paired with the ensemble but I think it captured the mittens and panties on the outside of the pj's nicely. I think she's just missing a cape to complete the look. What do you think?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Posing on International Day

This week has been International Week at school. They study different cultures, they get special snacks from countries all over the world, they do a potluck dinner of international foods, and on Friday, they have international dress day.

Reagan's classroom had Italy. That was a bit challenging to find something specific to Italy. But then I had an idea to dress her as a Gondolier. I think we got pretty close with what we could find to work with.

Bailey's Chinese dress is a special dress. I bought it in Hong Kong for my niece many years ago. She was just a year and a half old had been crowned Baby Miss Macon. I brought back that dress and she wore it in the Macon Cherry Blossom parade. That niece is now ten.

Bailey's shoes were a gift from my mom. When I was pregnant with Reagan, I was working in NYC. My little brother was singing right across the street from where I worked at none other than Carnegie Hall. So my mom and Bill joined me in NYC so that they could attend my brother's concert. My mom made a trip to Chinatown and came back with the shoes. I don't know that she remembered we still had the Chinese dress, but the shoes matched perfectly. Reagan wore that outfit at about a year and now Bailey gets to wear it too.

Reagan was pretty excited to wear her costume today. You'll see she was quite the poser. Especially when we got to the steps. She would lay on a step and say, "take a picture of me now" and then she'd hop up and say, "hmm, let me try this..." or "how about I go here" and try a totally different pose. She even intentionally winked in one pose. She'd always want to see what the picture looked like after I took it so she knew how to adjust the next pose.

Bailey proved to be difficult to photograph this time as she just discovered that she could see herself on the back of the camera too. So she just kept coming at me and wanting to see the pictures on the camera.

So here are the girls, striking a pose, working it for the camera.

Bailey getting mad because I wouldn't let her have the camera...

Bailey looking wide eyed and innocent after being busted for trying to strangle Reagan with her hat cord...

Reagan in her first of many poses...

Here's looking at you kid. Perfecting "the wink"...

Bailey's wondering what is with all the posing...

Reagan kept jumping in front of the camera when I tried to take a picture of just Bailey...