The Biggest Book Evah

So...if I look out the window to my left I can see endless rows of chairs, a stage, video screens and other AV equipment.  All this was set-up in preparation for the commencement exercises taking place on the Harbor Campus tomorrow.  I was invited to attend the ceremonies since I will be completing my MBA in just three months time. 

I will be attending the ceremony tomorrow.  Sarah & I have been discussing whether to take the girls or not, however.  It will be crazy here tomorrow.  And crowded.  There will be the main ceremony followed by multiple separate ceremonies for each college.  Parking will be a challenge.  Navigating the crowds will be a challenge.  Navigating the campus with the mass of people will be even more challenging (for Sarah and Sheila).  PLUS the girls have school tomorrow - this means time will be tight.

I didn't attend my undergraduate graduation ceremony.  Many years ago.  On this same campus.

Grad school, although not quite over yet, has been a challenge for EVERYONE.  More work for Sarah at home.  More work for Sheila.  LONG days (and nights) for me.

We should celebrate as a family.  Right?

The girls will only be five once.  Maybe they will remember this day when they get older...maybe they will some day understand the sacrifices their mommy & daddy make for them.  For the family.

I am taking three classes in the first (of two) summer sessions.  They are Advanced Corporate Finance, Strategic Management, and Intermediate Accounting.  I bought the Intermediate Accounting book today - BIGGEST BOOK EVAH!  Over 1,500 pages...ya, we will not be covering everything in that book!

100 Word Character

Aria approached her father with a look of disgust removing the empty bottles from his feet as he sat head tipped back snoring loudly.  She shook her head examining his slack face, knowing that something her mother and she herself had once loved was hiding there.  Like this she could almost reconcile the kind man she recalled from her childhood with the broken, angry drunk now before her.   With the anger drawn away by sleep his face softened, his dark hair and brows framed a face that would still be handsome if it weren’t for the pallor of his skin.  

Picture day - Rain Puddles

With a full week of heavy rains and cool temperatures there seems to be an awful lot of water everywhere I go. The forest path on which I walk each morning has become a series of interconnected puddles.  The ground is soggy and the trees are still dripping wet. The rain has finally stopped and today the puddles reflect back the morning sun and the surrounding trees and I find myself singing "Here Comes The Sun".

Take-out Tuesday.

As it goes, Sarah & I get take-out for dinner once a week, on average.  Some weeks no take-out...others maybe more than once.  Just Sarah & I - not for the girls, as they generally eat at a normal dinner time.  Sarah & I usually eat at about 7:30 - 8:00.

So... if you eliminate local pizza joints or restaurants and keep the list to typical "chain-type" restaurants, I came up with a Top Ten take-out list.  The list is based on how often we get take-out from the establishment and I used three factors:

(1) Service (did they get the order right and was it ready when they said it would be?)
(2) Quality of food and menu selection.
(3) Convenience - where are they located in proximity to our house?

10. Cracker Barrel - very predictable service and food quality.  A bit of a drive from our house, however.
9. Olive Garden - great food but poor location for us.

8. Outback - we have found that for take-out purposes, quality, quantity and accuracy are lacking.
7. 99 Restaurant - not a great menu and they have a "service charge" for take-out.
6. Five Guys Burgers - great burgers and fries, but location and selection not as good.
5. Friday's - convenient to us, but difficult for Sarah & me to find something on the menu we crave. Also, I always have to wait for our order (it seems).
4. Longhorn - another convenient take-out spot. I like their seven-pepper steak salad and they also have a chicken sandwich Sarah & I like.
3. Bertucci's - good overall take-out service (and selection).  A bit pricey, though.
2. Applebee's - the proximity to us keeps them from the very top of the list.
1. Chili's - most consistent all-around, by far.

Fever

She opened her eyes to find she had grown six feet, ten feet possibly even more.  She towered over everything except her bed which seemed to have grown right along with her dwarfing everything else in the room. As she sat up feet dangling over the edge she instantly shrank.
Once again she matched the rest of the room in size and yet the bed that she now so desperately wanted to escape hadn’t shrunk down with her and the leap to the floor had become enormous. It was now a giant chasm, the distance widening between her feet and the floor. In a panic she withdrew her feet back up to the mattress unable to leap. 
Her breath caught as she watched in surprise and amazement as all of the other furniture and objects suddenly skewed appearing to shrink down once again.  It felt as if she was in a room no bigger than a room in the dollhouse which sat on her bedroom floor.  It was cramped and the walls seemed to be closing in. It was quite impossible for her to fit into such a small space.  
She closed her eyes tightly and swaying slightly where she sat counted to ten. She slowly opened her eyes to find that now she was small and all the objects and furniture in her room were much bigger than her.  In her bed she seemed to have grown impossibly tiny, now it was if she was no bigger than the doll which lived in the dollhouse.
She pulled her blankets tight and her eyes slammed shut once again.  This time she counted backwards. Her eyes opened on a world returned to normal and she leapt from her bed running to another bed not so far away and said “I’m scared everything is small, it’s all the wrong size!”
She was pulled into this bed and into a warm embrace that was just the right size “Climb in with me” said her mother.  She scrambled into the big bed and watched as her mommy disappeared for a moment to return with two pink pills and a cool glass of water.  
A few moments later with her mommy’s arms wrapped around her she began to feel big again, but mommy grew with her and so she was safe.  Eyes closed she drifted for a few moments and the next time she opened her eyes she saw everything back to normal and whispered “the pink pills made everything right again.”
Her mother brushed her hair back from her forehead, kissed her gently on her still warm temple and whispered back ”just try to sleep now”, and so she did.  


This was prompted by the real life words of "I'm scared everything is small, it's all the wrong size!" and "the pink pills made everything right again." which were spoken by my little one during the night while she had a raging high fever. I seem to recall having a similar experience as a child myself as does my husband, in fact he recalls having said the first sentence word for word at about the same age.  

Memorial Day 2012

A day to remember all those who have served our great country, especially those who have given their lives. 

THANK YOU.

Procrastination is The Name of The Day.

I’m having one of those slow just not getting anything done days.   There are a plenty of things I could be doing and many more I probably should be doing yet my motivation seems to be somewhat lacking. It’s been raining off and on since last Wednesday evening and the sky is gloomy and gray. 
Between the 4 of us we have experienced a whole mess of unpleasant issues over the past week. A twisted ankle, skateboarding injuries, stomach illness, soccer in the pouring rain, having been bitten (don’t ask) and a funeral.  With everything going on, the whole family, rather understandably just hasn’t been in the greatest of moods over this past week.
This week we will be fairly busy with the Children’s Hospital soccer Tournament starting up Wednesday evening as well as our regular soccer commitments, a band concert and the day to day errands to round out the week.
I’m hoping that despite this being another busy week it will at least be a better busy. A not drinking ginger-ale by the case load kind of better, a few less tissues kind of better, a bandage-less blood-less and tear-less better.  
Even more hopefulyy a rain-less week, or at least a few days as the rain is predicted to end by tomorrow evening.  Hopeully at some point we actually do get a glimpse of the sun.
 Today though I’m procrastinating, taking a day off, everything that needs to get done will get done but besides that forget it, not today, maybe tomorrow.

A Nickel, Dime and a Penny

I just wanted to first say that if you like to see the girls in action via videos posted here, they will continue (at some point).  I am fairly certain my FLIP video camera is dead.  This is somewhat of a bummer because shooting, editing and posting FLIP video clips is simple and fast.  Especially in comparison to my back-up DVD recorder.  I have been shooting videos of the girls but because they are on my Hitachi, which records to mini-DVD discs, the edit and post process is more time consuming.

Well, I am glad there are still two days left to this weekend. The girls' shots they received on Thursday are still showing their affect with Emily missing out on a birthday party today because she spent the morning vomiting.  Huge bummer.  Everyone in the family was bummed because she couldn't return with her sisters to the "bouncy" place for a birthday party.

Sarah stayed home to care for Emily and I took Allie & Anna to the party.

The party was fairly uneventful.  I was telling Sarah, however, that it was interesting how Allie & Anna didn't jump right into the action at the start of the party.  The highlight (for me anyway) was going down the "big" slide with Anna.  TWICE.  Hey - she insisted.  I just had to.

I texted Sarah while at the party and she informed me Em was doing better.  That was news Sarah & I both needed.

Let's hope for good sleep tonight.  Last night was much better than the previous one.

Running log: Ran my normal @3.2 mile route today in extremely humid conditions.  Despite the heat and humidity, I felt strong and my time reflected that.  Oh...I found another 16 cents on my run.  Sarah & I hope to do a 5K next weekend.

Serenity Now

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

I have gotten away from the Serenity Prayer.  I haven't said it in a long time and that is not good.

Today was a day in which I should have utilized the Serenity Prayer.  Today was a very difficult day for Sarah & I.  For lack of a better word, Anna had a few "fits" today.

The ironic part about Anna's behavior today is that I discussed Anna with the girls' pediatrician at their 5 year wellness check-up yesterday.  The pedi made a few points.  Two things he said were:
  1. Is her behavior affecting relationships in the home? (He gave an example of a couple who were facing a split because of a child's behavior.)
  2. What is going on when she acts like this?  Is she hungry?  Tired?
So #2 first...Anna's behavior today could be (partly anyway) explained by the fact that she got two shots yesterday and was up a couple of times over night. She was tired, for sure.

#1..Anna's fits today (trust me, they were fits!) had a very bad affect on her sisters and her mommy and daddy.  It was ugly.

The key line of the Serenity Prayer, of course is Wisdom To Know The Difference

I need to pray for direction.

Thoughts Elsewhere Today

I wasn’t able to sleep last night and so I started doing some writing.  I meant to write for a short time to just get a few things floating around in my head on paper and before I knew it I’d run my pen dry and it was two in the morning. 
I also realize this morning that my not so neat writing at what must have been around one began to deteriorate.  This morning the combination of cursive and printing often in the same word is making some of what I wrote almost incomprehensible.  I can figure it out with some effort but I’d be hard pressed to find anyone else who could do the same.
Regardless of what my writing looks like it didn’t help me sleep either. Even after I decided that I really needed to try and sleep again and put down my pen it was at least another hour until I drifted off.  I miss my husband and I wish I was with him.  It’s never really bothered me when he goes away on business as he occasionally must do.  Yes I miss him then as well but I sleep fine.  I’m ok because I know that he’s ok.
It’s not going to be an easy day for him today, and I wish I was there.  Not only to be there for him but because saying goodbye to our friend today, from hundreds of kilometers away, doesn’t feel right.  It’s too late now to change that I’m here and not there so I’ll just try to make the best of it.
That’s all I’ve got for today.     

A Goodbye

I dropped my husband off this morning on his way to Ontario.  I sent my love and sorrow with him and his black suit.
We all know what the black suit signifies, a funeral and the loss of a loved one.  I wasn’t able to work things out to go with him but I know he will express my condolences.  This man was a dear friend, particularly to my husband and so it was without question that he should go.
My husband had known this man since he was a young teen and although I had met him in passing a few times we began to get together with him and his wife entirely by accident.  We had gone for a walk and had somehow gotten turned around and so we ended up taking a short cut through a condo’s parking lot.  It just so happened to be theirs. We ended up chatting for a few moments and made plans to get together again this time on purpose.
It was one of the best accidental meetings we have ever had.  My husband had never realized just how close we lived to them and from then on we began to see them fairly regularly. As our family grew and we spent more time with them I noticed a dynamic about my husband and our friend’s relationship.  There was something more to their friendship a sort of family dynamic.
I suppose in some ways having lost their son who was the same age as my husband to cancer our visits were a look into what could have been.  For a few moments it was as if they were playing with their own grandchildren, seeing a child they had once known become a man. For my husband it was a chance to connect with a father-figure who he could relate to something he had never really had before.
They were very similar men, in outlook, in humor, in attitude even in looks. In each other they found a part of themselves reflected back and he was without a shadow of a doubt more than just a friend but family.  
We will both miss him dearly.     

Smarter Than a Pre-Schooler

Sarah nor I have ever doubted that our girls are actually learning something at preschool.  It's not just playtime, snacktime and making friends for them.

Case in point. Emily today as we were getting ready to leave for school:

"Daddy, did you pack me apple juice for snack today at school?" 

No, Emily, you have lemonade in your backpack.

"Oh shucks.  I wanted to have apple juice so it would be a pattern.  Lemonade then apple juice, then lemonade.  A pattern."

That's right, Emily!  A pattern!

I am impressed.

Studio Sidekick - Internship 2012

Here's some of the artwork I did during my internship at Studio Sidekick. I had the best time learning from some of my fav characters designers in the whole world;Torsten Schrank and Stephan Meyer, worked on some cool productions and projects, it was an amazing experience. Thanks to everybody at the studio for everything! I learned a lot!




First Flowers

The first plantings of a new season are potted or planted and in full  bloom. The gardens are full of seedlings and any day now the countless flower buds will turn into a riot of colour. The roses are just about ready to start blooming and even the raspberries are starting to flower.

I love to get my hands in the dirt and make something beautiful come out of the mess. Last year was very hard gardening with no rain and blazing hot temperatures.  Many of my flowers wilted or were eaten by hungry deer and other wildlife when the forest couldn't produce enough without rain.

There are only two things that bother me when it comes to gardening, a lack of time and the deer. The last few years have been particularly busy and so I've had to look for little time savers and resign myself to a few weeds amongst the flowers. 

The deer however are another problem entirely.  I've learnt a few tricks, I'm careful what I plant and when I do plant something I know deer enjoy I surround it by things they don't like.

The two biggest deterrents are marigolds and herbs and so my garden every year has a rather disproportionate number of them. Fresh herbs do make for tasty dinners however.

The garden season has kicked off perfectly with warm wet weather so fingers crossed that the rest of summer goes as well.

Giggly Emily

Today's video is follow-up to yesterday's post on giggly Emily.  I found this clip today - it pretty much proves my point.


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100 word story

They used to dream that they could escape the bonds placed upon them, that someday they would once again live freely. As time went on that dream died out and the dream of seeing another day and another after that is all that mattered. The dream, the only hope was that they would simply survive.
Even then when survival was all that mattered to them, the dream of a free life remained, not for themselves but for a future generation. If they could fulfill their own dreams of survival then perhaps their children would be able to dream of more.   

Eenie Meenie Minee Moe

My daughter Emily's version:

Eenie meenie minee moe
Catch the tiger to the toe
Eenie
Meenie
Minee
Moe

Emily has been using this rhyme as a decision-making tool lately.  A LOT. 

Will it be Dora, Spongebob or Sparkle toothpaste?

Which cookie will she choose?

And....I will say....that no matter how tired or short on patience I am while I await her decision, I smile. 

I smile because Emily smiles.  She cracks herself up.  She walks on her toes or skips around the house.  A LOT. 

Emily giggles.  Her teacher nick-named her Giggly Emily.

She loves telling funny stories.  I couldn't keep track of the number of times today that Emily started a sentence today with: "Daddy, it was so funny at school when...." or "Do you remember that time...that was soooo silly....!"

Emily can say eenie meenie minee moe all day.  As long as she continues to giggle and SMILE.

Somebody's Watching Me

The end of a busy but nice weekend is here. The weather was fantastic both days, which always helps spirits too!

I spent most of Saturday with my brothers for a post-wedding bachelor party (of sorts). We played golf at Wayland Country Club in the morning and then met later for dinner at an Italian restaurant similar to Vinny Testa's. We had two foursomes for golf (six of my brothers)and fourteen guys for dinner. I was hoping everyone would have a good time, especially my brother Chris, and I think a good time was had by all.  Plenty of laughs is always a good indication of a good day.  A lot of laughs, for sure.

The girls had two birthday parties to attend so Sarah had Allie, Anna Emily for the day. Based on what Sarah told me, after she got through the gift purchasing part of the day in the morning (Anna was being Anna), it sounds like the girls had a good time at the parties.

Today we went as a family to participate in a local Great Strides Walk. Great Strides are walks to find a cure for cystic fibrosis (CF). My niece passed away from complications from cystic fibrosis in 2002. She was only 13. Money raised by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF) from these walks go directly to treatment of CF patients and toward finding a cure. It was nice to be with my sister, her daughter, and some other members of my family to remember my niece and raise money for CFF.

Today's Video

This is a clip of Allie, Anna & Emily dancing to Rockwell's Somebody's Watching Me.  Sarah's mom pulled a CD out of somewhere with a couple of 80's hits and the girls have been repeatedly requesting to have it played.  Allie is especially sassy in this one!

My characters on billboards!

My character staring in a new animated TV commercial + Facebook app + gigantic posters all over Israel =)


Massage Envy

Today went as planned for the girls with a picnic lunch and playground fun after school with Grandma G (my mother).  It was Grandma G's idea to have the picnic lunch at a park near her house that has, among other things, a playground and views of the Prudential and John Hancock towers.

Before I picked the girls up from school, I cashed in my birthday gift and got a one hour massage.  My first massage in YEARS was great.  I used to get a massage regularly before the girls were born.  And, before that, I got massages MUCH more frequently.  I was a Certified Massage Therapist back in the day.  While in school, I would sometimes get treatments 3-4 times in a week.  Simply awesome.  Anyway...it was nice to have an hour of pure relaxation this morning.

I had a lunch packed for everyone when I picked them up from school so we headed straight to Grandma's.  Upon arrival, I cathed Anna while Emily & Allie hung out in Grandma's backyard swing seat. 

The weather was great - mid to high 70's.

I had been to this park in the past but hadn't taken notice of the playground areas.  They were perfect for the girls.  With the exception of a sliding pole and monkey bars, the girls could play on everything without adult help.

We hadn't been there long before Anna took the role of care-taker to a 22 month-old girl.  The girls were at one point battling over who would hold the little girl's hand!  When Anna got too close to another younger girl however, that girls was not as receptive and made it clear she wanted to play alone!

It was a good day, overall.  Allie, Anna & Emily provided a lot of laughs for Grandma.  I had meant to bring my video camera, but forgot.  That was the only bummer.

This Old House

We own an older home and while there are things I love about it there are also things I hate. Almost everything I hate about it ties directly into its age which is slightly over 60. The things we love outweigh the bad though so I don’t see us going anywhere anytime soon.
On days, like yesterday, when the humidity is climbing and the temperature is blazing hot though that the negatives rear their ugly little heads.  Namely no central air, by far it is our biggest complaint. Not only do we not have central air but we also have no possibility of adding it. We have radiant heat, which means a boiler, radiators and no ducting.
No ducting means no a/c and boy could we use it some days.  Instead we have a window unit in the back and a monster of unit in the living room.  They work well for the most part but they aren’t a perfect solution.
First of all they are loud and tend to give me a headache the other problem being that in order to keep the entire house at a reasonable temperature the two rooms which contain the a/c unit’s end up freezing cold.
Every year it is a war, our house tends to retain heat, which is great for the winter months, terrible for the summer.  If we falter and let it begin to heat up we can’t get it cool again. It’s as simple as turning off the units to get a break from the incessant noise for a short time, having someone forget to close the inside door, open a window when it’s cool but humid out. Any of these and we’re faced with a week of catch up to just get close to comfortable again.    
I love where we live, not only our neighborhood and community but our actual street, the forest, the big yards and the proximity to anything you could possibly be seeking.  So in the end the things I hate aren’t as great as the things I love but what I wouldn’t give for central air.  This old house and I do not get along at 30 above (mid 80’s for the Fahrenheit inclined) or higher.   

Roger Williams Zoo

As parents to triplets our concerns when visiting a zoo are probably no different than those of any other parent (of multiples, singleton, etc.), especially since our girls are more independent now.

The factors Sarah & I consider when we plan a trip to a zoo are location (how long will it take us to get there), cost, weather, crowds and time of day.

We visited the Roger Williams Zoo in Providence a couple of weeks ago for the third time (I believe) and this was by far the best visit we have had.

In terms of cost, this visit was free thanks to the family membership that we purchased last year for about $80.  For us, the family membership pretty much pays for itself the first visit and this was our second visit under this annual membership thank you very much.

Weather was great too with overcast skies but warm temperatures - @70 degrees.

Our Saturday morning arrival was perfect timing too.  We saw most of the zoo and were home before 2:00 (if I remember correctly).  As we were leaving, swarms of people were entering the zoo.

Although I would not call us zoo experts by any means, both Sarah & I agree Roger Williams Zoo is a good, all-around zoo.  There are a fair number of animals including all the "must-sees" such as giraffes and elephants.  The one exception is lions.  No lions.  The food is...well, it is zoo food and priced accordingly.  We don't go there for the food, nor do we expect to get a good value on our lunches there.  I consider it a way for the zoo to supplement their revenue and I am fine with that.

Sarah, as always, has some good pics from our trip to Roger Williams Zoo.  Check them out here if you haven't already.  Oh....the pictures Sarah took of the girls on the statue of the dog...it looks like I am posing but I am not!  I thought I was just there to ensure the girls didn't fall off the statue - I didn't think I was going to be in the pictures.  I look ridiculous!

Here's some video footage from our visit:

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100 Word Story

We watched as they destroyed themselves, had we opened our doors we would have been destroyed along with them.  What they gave us by being destroyed is the key to keeping our civilization stable.  Like countless other civilizations that we suspect fell in much the same way before them the signs were all there and some even suspected the end was near.  Of course those who suspected are our ancestors and it is why we know so well the history of what led to the demise of the greatest civilization on Earth and why we won’t make the same mistakes.

Brand New Day

What a difference a decent night of sleep can make in our house. Today was so much better than yesterday and I can guarantee it is because ALL three of the girls slept in their own beds ALL night without getting up (at all)!

It was a great night for sleeping with rain falling right at bedtime and there was no wind.  I swear our street acts as a wind tunnel and our house (because we are at the end of a cul de sac) gets the brunt of it!  Anyway...Sarah & I slept soundly also.   It all added up to a better day than yesterday and that is all I wanted. 

And Anna?  She was in such a better mood! All day.  Thank you God.  Yes, I still had to pour just the right amount of milk for her, but overall she was in much better spirits.  Anna & I even started to implement the "sit on the potty" routine - she was obviously proud.

This was week #1 of a two week break from school for me before I start summer session(s).  My goal is to savor these days - I may never have another two weeks like this again.

In the interest of restful sleep, I am cutting this post short.  Before I do that, take a peak at this picture from last week.  The girls all made a Kiss Box in preschool for Sarah.  It was so sweet watching their proud faces when each of them handed theirs to Sarah (they couldn't wait 'til Mother's Day)!


Picture Day - Spring Forest

The forest has gone from the little splash of green amongst the browns at the begining of last week to the oppossite at the begining of this one. It always seems to happen almost overnight this explosion of colours. The days are lasting longer, the world has turned green and spring is quickly turning into summer.

I walked by this fountain a few moments after my daughter did this and ended up doing a double take. I suppose it's what happens when you take a 7yr old to a greenhouse which has fountains everywhere. This was just the begining of happy faces on every single thing which spurted water.

Anna Banana

Today was a day in which I wished I could have crawled into my daughter Anna's body so that I could know what she was thinking.

Anna had a tough day today.  Sarah & I had a tough day with Anna today.

Not the whole day.  Not all day.  There were moments of pure frustration, though.

I just came down from Anna's bedroom where she is sleeping soundly.  She is exhausted, this I know.  Sarah & I are exhausted.  Last night's wake-up calls from Anna and Allie were killers.

You see...Anna met another doctor today.  Anna is 5.  True, there are plenty of children who have many, many more challenges than her. 

I think Anna is not happy with being "different" right now. And having to miss dance class with her sisters to sit in waiting rooms and listen to yet another doctor ask questions, check her tummy, and look at her spine added up to one very unhappy girl today.

Sarah and I decided that she would take Emily and Allie to dance class and I would take Anna to the doctor.  In the past, we had sometimes ALL taken the trek into Boston for Anna's appointments.  It made more sense for just Anna & I to go today, however.

It was a very quiet ride.  I do not have a problem with.  At all.  In hindsight, however, I wonder what Anna was thinking as we drove in.

So... the short story of the doctor visit is that we scheduled a consult with this GI doctor after so-so results from a different GI doctor previously.  Today's initial consult was productive.

Anna didn't say a word to the nurse, the doctor or the medical student who sat in on the consult.  Strictly head nods of "yes" and "no" from Anna.

At one point the doctor asked me how many times a day Anna goes #2.  I didn't know how to respond.  She just goes.  She has no control.  He recommended we put her on the potty twice a day after meals to see if she can go. 

The other big thing discussed was periodic enemas and a MACE procedure sometime in the future.  The MACE procedure is the direction we are heading.  Theoretically, the procedure would get Anna closer to a "normal" day with fewer (if not zero) accidents.

How much of this conversation I had with the doctor today did Anna take in?  How much did she understand?

Sarah and I think Anna knows exactly what is going on.  We just want her to talk to us rather than flip out over the fact that Daddy poured her milk rather than Mommy, for example.

Anna, we love you and just want you to be happy.  Please work with us.

A Happy Anniversary

You never really know what will come after saying “I do” it’s a leap of faith and it’s one me and my husband took on a day that doesn’t seem nearly as long ago as it really was. For us that leap of faith has paid itself back a thousand times over and I’m still as glad we took that leap today as the day we did.
We were warned not to take that leap, by family, by friends and even by perfect strangers.  We were too young, broke and pregnant to make such a decision. Well contrary to popular belief we did know what we were doing, we knew the decisions were right for us and that time would show everyone else what we already knew and it did.
Time has taken care of the youth, hard work has taken care of being broke and nature took care of being pregnant.  We have certainly faced our share of hard times over the years but we faced them together and never has a moment passed in which either of us wish we had made a different choice.
I suppose we’ve never had big problems in our marriage because we didn’t start it expecting perfection. We understood even then that perfection as a spouse, as a parent or as a person is an unattainable goal.  We have searched out happiness instead and yes an imperfect life can certainly be a happy one.  
We are after all two separate people who will occasionally clash, whose habits and ideas will drive the other nuts on occasion and that’s ok. We trust that despite arguments annoyances and moments of angst that we will still support and love the other without question.
Today marks the end of another year spent as husband and wife and the 14th one just begun.  I have high hopes that this year will be as happy as every other which has past.      

Gone Deaf

I went to see Van Halen in concert last night with my brother and my ears are still ringing.  Got home fairly late, a little after one and I’m admittedly having a bit of a hard time getting going this morning, or at least a harder time than I remember after going to concerts in my younger days. Coffee has become my best friend this morning although I can’t help think my bed would be even better.
I did enjoy the concert but it was a little different from past ones I’ve attended. I suppose the fact that Van Halen isn’t as young as it used to be nor are its fans had something to do with it.  The attendance wasn’t particularly high either and there were a lot of empty seats so the crowd was a little thin for the MTS centre.  It may have made for a better atmosphere in a smaller venue.       
I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the biggest Van Halen fan and that I may be a little grouchy from lack of sleep but it wasn’t the best concert I’ve been to.  Wasn’t the worst either and I am glad that I got the chance to go do something fun with my brother.  That alone made it worth the experience.     
I will also say that Eddie Van Halen has still got some amazing guitar skills. I think his 10 minute solo was by far the highlight of the show for me.  Diamond Dave wasn’t quite on the mark however and he reminded me of a cross between Liberace and Gary Busey.  I honestly couldn’t help but question a few times whether David Lee Roth is either certifiably insane, completely blitzed or both.  
I also just didn’t quite get how the opening act, a 70’s funk band was supposed to fit in. Don’t get me wrong there was nothing wrong with their music in fact they played quite well and I can’t deny they had a lot of energy and enthusiasm.  It did seem that they were a little out of place though.  At times during their set I couldn’t help but feel I’d stumbled into someone’s wedding reception rather than attending a rock concert.
Oh well it was fun, and I’m sure I’ll appreciate it more once the ringing in my ears dies down and I get some much needed sleep.

Random Thoughts

We attended a First Communion of Sarah's friend's daughter over the weekend.  Both the mass and the celebration at a a local restaurant afterward were nice. 

I told Sarah after the mass that it is sad that our 5 year-old daughters showed better manners than many of the "adults" during the church services.  Apparently chewing gum at church is not a big deal.  A loud belch from a twenty-something year-old is funny.  And ya let's let our preteen daughter wear daisy dukes to church.  Oh sure the butterfly tattoo on your shoulder blade is cool but couldn't you find a nice shawl or sweater to wear over the backless dress (at least during mass)?

I think my FLIP video camera may have seen its last days.  Bummer.  I've been using the back-up DVD camera until I come up with  a solution.  So...video posts may not be as frequent...temporarily anyway.

Watching The Big Chill as I write this...a classic - how 'bout that cast, eh?

I am so blessed to have Sarah as the mother of my children.  Happy Mother's Day, hon!

The respect and love I have for my mother has grown exponentially since my daughters were born.  Happy Mother's Day, Ma.

The food shopping billl was a tad high today - $182.55!  Included in the total was Sarah's Mother's Day gift and $20 for Pull-Ups, however.  I also bought a few freezer stock-up items too.  So..not THAT bad.  Plus, I SAVED $43.52!

Summer session I for grad school starts in just over two weeks - just when I would have de-compressed from the spring semester classes!

I am toast today - time to hit the rack.

Good night world.

Craft Time

Today's Video

As a parent to a toddler or young child, you quickly learn the difference between good quality products and poor products for children.  We have found, for example, that just because something has the Disney name on it does not mean it is good quality.  We have been happy with Melissa & Doug products though.  Especially their crayons. 

Allie, Anna & Emily each received a Melissa & Doug decorate-your-own-mirror set for their birthdays.  I like this video because it captures each of them focused (and behaved!).

 

Time-Lapse Troubles

I began working on a time-lapse project this week and I’m finding it a little more difficult than expected. As I’ve mentioned before I love the area in which we live and one of the leading reasons for that is the forest across the road.   
Watching as it has slowly become greener and greener these past couple of weeks gave me the idea that I would love to see this change in a few moments and decided I’m going to do a picture a day for a year and then put it all together into one short video.
Well easier said than done.  The problem I’m having is that I would like to do this picture from somewhere along the walking path I use each morning.  I choose this area because it is my favorite place and somewhere in the forest that I am guaranteed to visit every day at about the same time even in winter.  The dog is always going to need his morning walk.
The problem with this is that I had hoped to find a branch that I could set the camera on and somehow mark so that I would get the same angle and location each day. Well I’ve yet to find a suitable branch.  The forest is made up of mostly ash trees which are very straight, very tall trees with very few low hanging branches.
I’ve never realized just how similar each little section is, although I can identify about where I last took a picture “about where” is not very helpful.  All the trees look exactly the same. What this means is although I’ve taken a picture each day I haven’t gotten the exact same spot twice.
Even when I pick the right tree first shot I can’t get the angle right. Despite my best efforts each one is a little bit further off than the previous one and so Monday’s picture is nowhere near the same angle and spot as Fridays.    
Now even if I could get the angle right after fiddling around for awhile eventually the seasons will change and I’m not going to be too willing to stand around outside for ten minutes with my camera trying to get te right shot.  Say sometime next January.
I know there has to be a reasonable solution and so that’s my goal for today.  Anyone got an idea? 

Happy Birthday Daddy

My daughters gave me the best birthday gift ever today. They showed me love.

There was nothing especially different about today. But I guess I was a bit more sensitive.

It was a somewhat regular Thursday. Hung out at the house in the morning before having lunch and taking the girls to gymnastics.

I think the girls were enjoying my company today, though. At one point I dropped onto the couch to rest my feet and the girls decided to cover me with their luvies!. It was pretty funny (Allie even volunteered to get the camera and take a picture).

All the girls made me a birthday card. And, as a parent, there is not much that tops a card made by your child. This is the card Allie made for me. She drew her hand on the left and then a picture of herself, Anna and Emily:

100 word character

One could not help but turn as Aria passed. She shone as if having spent endless days in the sun which was never even glimpsed in this place. It was as if she had an innate strength to survive in the darkness, her own light.  She walked straight with a slight upward tilt to her chin, determination in her gaze and when she spoke her voice while soft held a note of steely determination as if daring someone to challenge her.  Everything about her spoke of strength and confidence her eyes wise beyond the few years evident on her face.

A Five Year Old's Version of Jeopardy

Allie's, Emily's and Anna's imaginations have been very active as of late. They continue to invent new games and act out everything from going to the dentist to school to "can you guess what I am thinking of?". This is a clip of Emily playing the role of Alex Trebek. Her lovie, Little Lion, is the contestant:

Picture Day - Repeating Moose



One thing about doing a picture day once a week is that I often find myself looking back at past photos which often turns into a trip down memory lane. What doing this has brought to my attention however is the number of times I or my husband have taken the exact, or nearly exact, same picture time and time again.  There are a few places we visit at least once a year, the zoo, the gardens in the park, the conservatory, the forks and the museum  just to name a few. One of the biggest picture repeaters is this moose.  He's found in the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature in a large walk through diorama, and he appears in almost every single set of pictures from the museum. This is one of the oldest displays in the museum and so it has stood in this spot for somewhere around 30 years and I have at least one pictue a year of him for the past ten of those years.   He hasn't aged a day.....

45 before 46 List.

With another birthday fast approaching and the end of my MBA in sight,  I decided to put in writing some of the places I've been as well as some things I've done.  As it goes, this is in no particular order:

  1. Climbed Ayers Rock (in Australia).
  2. Got my picture taken with Larry Bird
  3. Ran the bases of Fenway Park (at night when the park was closed)
  4. Camped in the White Mountains
  5. Took a gondola ride through the canals of Venice
  6. Completed the Boston Marathon
  7. Married a beautiful woman
  8. Watched our beautiful daughter Abigail grow in Sarah's tummy
  9. Became the dad of a beautiful girl named Alicenne.
  10. Became the dad of a beautiful girl named Anna
  11. Became the dad of a beautiful girl named Emily
  12. Ran the Falmouth Road Race (many times)
  13. Ran a 5K road race in 21 minutes.
  14. Toured Australia with my younger brother Don
  15. Got drunk in King's Cross in Australia
  16. Received a BS with a concentration in Accounting.
  17. Got to watch my mother father dance...many times
  18. Became a godfather to one of my nephews
  19. Became a godfather to one my nieces.
  20. Completed the Disney Marathon
  21. Visited the Tower of Pisa.
  22. Got a sunburn while touring the ruins of Pompeii.
  23. Paid my way through undergraduate school.
  24. Visited many of the beaches of Cape Cod.
  25. Sat in the (old) Boston Garden and watched Larry Bird play basketball.
  26. Went to see the J. Giels Band play at the same Boston Garden.
  27. Saw Whitney Houston perform at the Berklee Performance Center (years before the movie Bodyguard).
  28. Snorkeled The Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
  29. Went to Augusta and watched The Masters.
  30. Lived in a one-bathroom house with my 9 brothers and 3 sisters.
  31. Honeymooned in Hawaii.
  32. Lied on the beaches of Aruba.
  33. Have never been admitted to a hospital overnight.
  34. Jumped out of an airplane.
  35. Witnessed my daughter Anna take her first steps
  36. Received many many squeeze hugs from my daughter Emily
  37. Told my father I loved him (even if it was over the phone!)
  38. Completed the Marine Corps Marathon (with humidity levels close to 80%)
  39. Came extremely close to shaking President Clinton's hand.
  40. Grew up in a two parent home.
  41. Visited Yellowstone National Park
  42. Took my daughters to Disney World
  43. Watched the sun set over Key West
  44. Became a Certified Massage Therapist
  45. Gambled in Vegas
This was a cool exercise even though I chose not to put down a couple of things near and dear to me.

Shooting Star

Writing Prompt - Wishing on a star.

A shooting star streaks across the midnight sky brightening the midnight sky for just a moment. I close my eyes and try to make a wish. Instead a single glistening tear squeezes past my tightly sealed eyes. A wish will not change the past what’s done is done.   I should leave wishing on shooting stars to those who still have some hope that this world holds a little bit of magic those who have even just a small shred of faith left in their heart.
Perhaps if they knew what a single strike of lightning could do they would not believe this world holds magic either.  That all it takes is one strike deep within your heart to end all hope. To change everything, to alter the course of one’s life beyond all recognition until what it could have been, perhaps should have been cannot even be glimpsed.

Pershey's (Hershey's) Kisses

Sarah and I will be the first to admit that our girls are not great eaters. They do not eat avocado on a regular basis nor do they eat vegetables with every meal. We are aware, however, that there are plenty of 5 year-olds who eat "better" than Allie, Anna and Emily and plenty that do NOT.

We work on it. Some days we are successful. Some days we are not.

One positive is that the girls are not candy junkies (yet). They look forward to getting candy on Halloween and Easter but they end up spending more time telling each other what they got and asking Sarah & me "what is this?" and "what does this taste like?" rather than chowing on the candy.

Sarah beat me the punch in her post yesterday regarding the way the girls pronounce "Hershey". What comes out of their mouth sounds more like "Perci"! Cute! Here is a clip of the girls at Easter counting their candy & coins:


Music Life

My oldest went to auditions for “Canada’s Next Star” this past weekend with a small group of her friends, as well as almost a thousand other kids.  Thankfully another parent had volunteered to take the girls so I didn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn with her or sit around the convention centre all day.
They arrived a little after seven and didn’t leave until nearly four in the afternoon. Quite a long day for what amounted to a 5 minute audition.  Not surprisingly none of them continued onto the next round but they clearly had a fun day. I don’t think any of them expected to be chosen they just wanted the experience of doing something new and interesting with friends.
In fact when I agreed to let her go I made sure she that this was why she was doing it, for fun and not an expectation of future stardom.  I’m not saying she’s as bad a singer as I am (which would be quite a feat) but she is neither spectacularly bad nor spectacularly good.   I didn’t want her to have high hopes only to have them dashed. As it was she went expecting nothing more than a fun day out of it and so that’s what she took from it.
I want her to have a love and appreciation for music and the arts and to feel free to explore what they mean to her. I looked at this as just another part of that exploration.  We like many others love music in many different shapes and forms.  From ragtime to swing, pop to rock, disco to punk we listen to and love it all. 
I may not always appreciate her music choices but I’ll always try to keep an open mind and support her exploration.  I’m already falling behind the times and don’t particularly care for much of the most popular music today.  We no longer have the same choices in radio stations but I think finding music your parents don’t relate too is just part of the discovery. The discovery of what makes music your very own thing.  

All Things China

All I can say is that I am glad my group project for my International Accounting class was completed on Wednesday.  We submitted our paper and presented (as did all groups) during class on Wednesday as well.  Just like the old Rolaids commercial - How do you spell RELIEF?  Done.  Over.  Finished.

Sitting through six group presentations on accounting practices in various countries was tough.  We did ours on China.  Even after all the reading and discussion on Chinese Accounting I did, I "got nothin". 

I was telling Sarah, however, that it amazes me that some of my fellow students are in graduate level classes.  Stop staring at the screen when you are presenting!  Stop reading from a script!  Look at your audience! 

Kind of related news:

I took the girls with me to an "unfinished" wood product store the other day.  It's called Mill Stores.  I was shopping for bookcases for Anna and Emily so I told the girls there may be something there for them to pick-out that they could paint.  After going back-and-forth on a couple of things they settled on butterfly nets!

Even before they had the long-handled nets in their hands, most eyes were on them as we shopped. The sight of Allie, Em and Anna walking out to the van carrying the butterfly nets was classic though.  I cannot wait for the butterflies to appear in our yard and the girls start their chase - THAT will be a sight.

Oh, the nets were made guess where ______?  CHINA. Yes.  MADE IN CHINA.

I Wish There Were Four

We had a perfect storm today.  It started last night with Allie, Anna and Emily all waking up and pulling some stunt with Sarah like "sleep with me Mommy" or "I'm scared".  Last night's "events" took a toll on both of us.  But Sarah was especially tired and on edge today from lack of sleep.  And the girls were ALL in form today.  All I can say is that thankfully the day is over.  I knew a guy who used to say that if you are having a bad day, make it a short day - go to bed early.  Well, Sarah & I may not be able to get to bed early but Allie, Anna & Emily were in bed before 7:00 pm tonight and I think they were asleep by 7:15.

The day started out great.  As Sarah & I have done the past few weeks, we dropped the girls at preschool, went to breakfast and then came home.  We each did our own things under the roof of an extremely peaceful roof.  It was nice.

But...with the exception of a few peaceful stretches, pretty much from the time we picked the girls up from preschool (11:00ish) until bedtime (7:00), it was one thing after another.  Anna was especially out of control.  Both Sarah & I lost it more than once today.  It was not pretty. It was every little thing.  We got everything from "I'm not eating that!" to "Anna took my _____!" to several flat-out responses of "NO!" from the girls when we told them to do something.

Like I said, I am just glad the day is over.  Hope for better sleep tonight and better behavior from the girls tomorrow.

We need to remember that today was not the norm.  It was The Perfect Storm of bad behavior. I understand some kids act this way every day.  We are lucky.

Allie said something today which puts things in perspective for us:

Allie & Emily had had enough of being outside late this afternoon and said they wanted to go in the house.  Anna wanted to stay out and play.  Anna made her point clear by crying and stomping her feet (like she had been doing most of the day).  Allie said to me:

"I wish there were four of us so two could stay out and play and two of us could go in the house.  I wish Abbey hadn't died.  There would be four of us.  Two could play outside while the other two could go in the house."

I know Allie.  We wish Abbey hadn't died either.

Blossoms

I love the days of May watching as everything comes back to life. Each morning when I go for a walk in the forest I see so many changes.  Every morning there are a few more buds, a few more leaves and a few more blossoms, until the whole forest is an absolute riot of fresh colour and scent.
I can’t explain the excitement of watching what seems to be the world coming to life, of course over the winter life was still there but was hidden away, in hibernation or dormancy.  It is not until spring that life is seen without searching it out.  I even enjoy seeing the deer which have come to be more nuisance than novelty in spring when the fawns first begin to appear.
It is such a gradual process but one you can see if you watch carefully.  By watching I’m rewarded with seeing just how big the changes are each day over and seeing how wonderful the whole process really is.    

Scooters, a hand-block and birds flying south

Remember I am a stay-at-home dad now part-time so I am entitled to post about "stay-at-home" topics. ha!

As mentioned in my post a few days ago, I cannot seem to do grocery shopping without spending $100.  So...today I took the girls with me to S&S to pick up some groceries after their gymnastics class.  A bit unusual to do shopping before the weekend, but given the not so great weather today I thought it would be good to get it out of the way.

The total was $120.53 net, after a savings of $20.80. And included in the total was @$20 for a large pack of Pull-Ups.  Not too shabby overall.

Today's Video Clip
I was going through some video clips from several weeks ago and came across a few clips of the girls playing outside with the scooters they got for Christmas.  They had been begging to use them.  We couldn't say no.

I love this video clip because it illustrates Anna's hand-block technique (yes Sarah, I get it too!).  And be sure to watch the entire video because I caught Emily doing the cutest thing - check it out:





10 x 100



Use all 10 words in exactly 100 words:
Saw, angle, emerald, fell, arrow, neck, sign, perch, sapling, fire




An emerald tipped arrow how poetic the killer thought as he sat on his perch awaiting the approaching target.  Her eyes darted around the forest searching for a sign of movement, she knew she was being hunted then. Her eyes fell upon the stump of the small sapling he had been forced to saw down to give him a clear angle and the killer cursed under his breath. She turned her head and the smooth skin of her neck was exposed for a moment as the killer drew back his bow.  She ran and the chance to fire slipped by.      

Narcisse Snake Pits - Picture Day




About an hours drive north of Winnipeg is a unique place called the Narcisse Snake Dens.  Each year tens of thousands of red sided garter snakes come out of their winter dens located here and for a few short weeks the ground is literally covered in them. Manitoba has a lot of limestone and as it turns out the subterranean caverns left behind as spring melt runs through the rock is the perfect place for these snakes to den in over the winter months.  No where else in the world that is home to such large numbers of these snakes and it is quite the sight to see.    

How do you tell them apart?

The girls spent some considerable time going through pictures we had in our basement office over the weekend and asking questions (of course).  Who is this Daddy?  Is that me Daddy?  Mommy, look at this picture!?  Isn't that cute, Mommy? And on some pictures they would do the descriptive, such as (when looking at a picture of the CASES of formula we had in house): This is a picture of the milk Mommy & Daddy had because we used to drink so much milk when we were babies.

Since they discovered the pictures over the weekend,  Anna has been bringing pictures up to me and repeatedly asking me who is in the picture - Allie, Anna or Emily?  And I will admit that, in most cases, unless Anna's shunt was noticeable, I cannot tell them apart in many of the older pictures.  Crazy.  It's funny because we still sometimes get the question from people: How do you tell them apart? Well, uh because we are their parents! And we are with them every day (for part of the day anyway) for over 5 years!  Hello!

So..in the spirit of pictures of the girls when they were younger - this is a picture taken by Sarah's mom (I think). I believe it was taken late summer or early fall 2008.  Identifying them in this picture is easier because Anna has her head turned and her shunt is noticeable.  They are also in birth order, which helps.



Save a few bucks category: ....Sarah is addicted to Diet Pepsi Cherry (flavored) and being value-minded folk like we are, we only purchase a 12 pack of the stuff when it is on sale. Yes we are a bit cheap, but hey $4.99 a 12-pack versus $4.00 a 12 pack is...well...a $1 dollar savings. PER 12-pack.

Sarah goes thru at least two 12-packs a week so it adds up! I saw that Stop & Shop had the Wild Cherry Diet Pepsi on sale at (3) 12-packs for $9. I bought six 12-packs (must buy 3 to get sale price) yesterday. Total savings $14.74. Thank you very much.

Having time to shop for sale items makes a difference, of course.  We usually don't have the luxury of time to be going store to store for bargains.

Trying Something New

I always enjoy trying out new things, both physical and otherwise.  Sometimes they turn out to be something I love to do, others I hate and then there are those that I'm not quite sure about.

This is my first attempt at rock wall climbing taken yesterday evening and as of today it's falling into the unsure category. While I really did have lots of fun I'm not so certain the pain is worth it. I have several dozen little bruises, abrasions, rope burns, and aches.  Not to mention the blisters.

The little scrapes and bruises aren't so bad I'm always scraping or bruising myself and the aches are actaully rather minor but the blisters are driving me nuts.  I can neither, or at least without pain, extend my fingers fully or make a fist today. This is making typing amongst everything else a little bit more difficult. 

It was quite the workout and a fun and interesting challenge so if it weren't for the stiffness in my hands it would firmly fall into the love to do category. I will try a few more times at least as I can't help think the problem may have simply been to much to fast. I'm hoping next time I'll remember the techniques I was taught to keep weight of my hands and I won't push myself quite so hard or for so long. 

Was worth the new experience regardless of if I end up loving it or not.