Friday, October 31, 2008

arts and crafts WOULD be easier

I was up until almost 2 AM this morning preparing for my very first deposition.

I was reviewing documents, printing various information from my computer, and making sure that I had everything that I would need. This morning was rather rushed as I tried to pack up a box full of reports that I needed to provide to the attorneys, while also helping Charlie get the children prepared for school.

Charlie's birthday is in less than two weeks and because it has been 14 years since he has had a photo taken for his driver's license, he is required to have a new picture taken and a vision test administered. But since the only appointment that he could schedule to renew his license would be after his license expired, and he needs a photo ID for the trip he'll be taking to Washington, DC in a few weeks, and he still hasn't located his passport, my husband was planning to spend an entire morning at the DMV, today.

So while Charlie took Henry and left for the DMV, I loaded the children up for school.

Now, because I was going to be spending an entire day sitting in an upscale attorney's office where I was questioned on everything I've ever done in my professional life, as opposed to sitting at our dining room table electronically approving invoices ... I decided I'd swap my exercise apparel for business attire.

On the way to school, Elizabeth, who is sitting in the seat directly behind me, sneezes. It seems that she's battling another cold, thus allowing her to sustain a nearly perfect record of sickness ever since she has been in school. When I hear her yell "OH NO MOMMY!" I glance in the rear view mirror and see that she is coated from her nostrils to her chin in mucus.

O
f course there are no tissues in the car.

Or paper.

Or anything that weighs less than a floor mat.

And of course I don't think about my fancy business attire ... or where I am going ... before I lean back and using the sleeve of my blouse, wipe my daughter's nose.

(Thanks, Mom. I owe you one!)

The kids are dropped off to school and I continue driving to the attorney's office. I arrive 10 minutes early and try to find a parking space in the underground garage for the monstrosity that is Charlie's Toyota Tundra truck. The only place I can find is a spot that would be tight for a Miata so I climb out the 2x2 back window and make my way to the elevators.

I take the elevator to the very top floor of a very tall building. On my way up, I notice that the entire building is constructed of granite. The floors. The walls. There are sweeping views of the bay and ocean. Just before I step out of the elevator, I check my reflection in the mirrored doors. I fix my hair, straighten my shirt and smile. As my teeth are bared, I see that my Revlon Lipstain is coating my top teeth.

My teeth are blushing mauve.

And it is barely coming off.

When I step out of the elevator, I am hit with the smell of subtle potpourri. In the lobby, there are pots of fresh brewed coffee, pitchers of fresh squeezed orange juice and packets of imported tea. There are fresh pastries. Donuts. Croissants. Muffins.

On opposing walls, there are 50-inch wall mounted plasma televisions, tuned to CNN. As I am escorted to the conference room, I spot that there are identical plasma mounted televisions - at least two - in every office.

I am introduced to the people who will be participating in the deposition. The court reporter, paralegal and attorneys. I am doing my best to smile with my lips hiding my teeth so I don't reveal the flecks of blushing mauve that are adhered to my enamel.

I extend my hand to shake the opposing council's hand and I notice that the entire fore arm of my moss green shirt is coated in boogies. Noticeably coated. Like someone took a hot Krispy Kreme and smeared it all over my sleeve.

He smiles warmly and asks if I had the box of documents that I needed to produce for trial.

OF COURSE NOT.

They are still on my dining room table.

So I call Charlie, who had just arrived at the DMV and ask if he could please go home, get the box of information I had forgotten, drive to downtown San Diego and drop it off.

And of course he said yes, no problem.

And of course he'll bring me a new shirt.

And a toothbrush.

And again I am reminded that my Charlie is the best man alive and if not for him, I would be nothing more than a boogie coated expert witness with pink teeth.

And of course, tonight, when I'm mentally drained from a full day of being grilled by attorneys, Charlie selected the new i-Pod winner. This was no easy task for my husband. While I sat on the couch savoring a bowl full of Peppermint Stick ice cream, Charlie read through the past month and a half of Wednesdays, narrowed it down to four and then asked for my opinion.

My opinion was that we giveaway four.

But of course that opinion was rejected.

So please give it up for KATHY!!

The thing that stands out from all of Kathy's comments is that she is trying so hard to lose weight and get off a CPAP. She seems to get on a good path and then, have a set back. It is my (our) hope that in winning this iPod, Kathy will remain inspired and achieve her goal of improved health. You can totally do it Kathy!! We're rooting for you and we want to be kept apprised of your progress!!

This will not be the last giveaway, nor will it conclude the weekly weigh-in. The next iPod giveaway will be at the end of December. With the wonderful holidays bearing down on us with the candy and carbs and tendency to over indulge and cold(er) weather that may inhibit getting outside ... having a physical goal to strive towards will make a BIG difference for me. And really, how awesome would it be, if I could START out the New Year without having one of my top resolutions be "GET IN SHAPE!"?

Kathy, please send me an e-mail with your address and I will get your engraved Product Red i-Pod off to you, post haste. Unfortunately, your new iPod won't be pre-loaded with songs since it will be shipping out directly from the Apple Store, but according to Charlie, uploading is easy.

Although I don't know how to upload music, of course my husband does.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

wednesday weigh in

I have done so much, but so very little this week.

There hasn't been much exercise. But there has been lots of Halloween candy and cupcake eating. Why it is that I buy several bags of candy several weeks before Halloween is both a mystery and a crime. In a fit of desperation, I signed up for two more races. We'll be running in a 5K Turkey Trot for a local homeless shelter on Thanksgiving and another 5K associated with the Holiday Bowl in late December.

Every night, early in to the morning, when I'm not searching the depths of my soul for the meaning of the Universe, I've been preparing for birthday parties.

Three classroom birthday parties in less than seven days time.

After bringing donuts to Elizabeth's party on Wednesday ...

And Carolyn's party on Thursday ...


And then eating the leftover donuts at home on Friday... I vowed to never spend money on Krispy Kreme donuts again.

Those things are scary good.

Especially when they are hot.

All it takes is warming up one donut and before you know it, you've inhaled four donuts and catch a glimpse of yourself licking the box while making guttural sounds.

By the time William's party rolled around on Tuesday, I was back to making cupcakes.

This took a lot more time for me, but knowing that the children were only consuming 4 grams of fat as opposed to 12, gave me a hint of satisfaction.

Much like the satisfaction that has come from the recent overhaul of our diets that has included eliminating almost all red meat. We now obtain the majority of protein from peanuts coated in chocolate. And tofu.


Of important note, the children started full-time school this week so we could "try it on" for size. Ultimately, we had to make the decision as to whether we should place them in school for the full day, or pull them out of school altogether because the part-time schedule was making us loopy. I really struggled with the "right" thing to do.

But then on Saturday, something happened.

I decided to "home school" the kids. We were going to make a craft. A small American flag made out of red, white and blue construction paper. The kids could cut red and white strips, punch white stars and glue them on a blue square. Everything was going fine, until we STARTED.

Someone's trying to cut their clothes. Someone's trying to eat glue. Someone's got a hold of the glitter and dumped it all over the baby's head. Someone's climbing on the counter and pulling down the tape dispenser. Someone's cutting the strips of red and white that I had put out as a demonstration.

Fiddle. Faddle. Mess with this. Mess with that. Tease each other. Relentlessly.

I'm calmly and lovingly saying, "Please don't touch. OK, OK, listen to me. This is how you glue the stars. No, no, glue doesn't go in our hair - it only goes on paper. OK, OK, let's not cut our hair, let's use the scissors to cut paper. Elizabeth, those are William's scissors. William, those are Gracie's stripes. Gracie, that is William's glue. Come back here. Come back, come back! Where did the baby find my checkbook? Why does he have my credit cards? NO, YOU MAY NOT CUT THEM. What is that noise? Is that the toilet?!"

No more than three minutes had lapsed and I am desperately shooing every one outside while rejoicing that I don't have to do that everyday.

I know that at this age ... it is really important for our children to go to school.

I know that at this age ... if I was left home with them all day, I would LOSE MY MIND.

Sure, I'd go to the library and the zoo and parks. But there would be large chunks of time I would need to be home and during those times, I'd be teetering on the brink of collapse. I'm sure my experiences would make for some great blog entries, but what a bummer if I was trying to write those blog entries from the confines of a straight jacket.

Another deciding factor to send the children full-time, was the rushing I was doing to pick them up from school at noon (which was disrupting Henry's nap and eating schedule) just so I could rush them home and put them down for a nap which they absolutely need at this age but which they wouldn't take. Because they usually caught a cat nap in the car on the short drive home and were partially recharged.


"Partially" because they weren't fully rested and were no fun to be around. They were cranky and over tired and looked a lot like piranhas.

Yet, by leaving them at school for the full day, they are having the opportunity to play for an hour and then, take a nap (which they absolutely need at this age, did I say that already?) so when I pick them up at 2:45, they are fed, rested and their brains are full with knowledge.

Best of all, I haven't once yelled at them.

Or, threatened to feed them to a pack of hungry wolves.

Now, I have to run and do some work for an important meeting that I have tomorrow. For another important meeting that I will have in two weeks. In which there will a judge, a jury and an assorted team of high-powered lawyers who will do their best to shake me to my core and make me question my status as an "expert".

I've never been to court before and oddly, I'm not the least bit nervous. I find it hard to believe that sitting in air conditioned courtroom with attorneys will be any scarier than sitting outdoors at a picnic table with four-year-old triplets wielding scissors and glue when it's 109 degrees.


************
Please leave a comment telling me how you have done with the goals that you have established for yourself, how far you have come, any new goals you have, and why you should win an awesome new iPod shuffle. And then, tell me your favorite work out song.

I'll post the winner tomorrow night.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

courage and confessions

I talk to God everyday.

And everyday, God talks back to me.


Sometimes, when I don't know what to do ... when I feel completely immobilized by the ability to make a decision, or I am struck with fear ... God will guide me. His is a voice that I can actually hear in my head. His is a gentle hand, guiding my heart.

For the most part, I really care what people think about me.

I care what my family thinks about me.

My friends. My neighbors. My parishioners. My co-workers.

People that I've never met before that read this blog (even you, the one that lurks but has never commented), I even care what they think about me.

It is very hard to state an honest opinion when you know that you will be judged based on your beliefs.

When I told the Montessori school that I was opposed to our children receiving any processed foods and I wanted them to stop handing out sugary treats to our children - that was difficult for me because I felt like I was challenging authority.


When I told my boss that I wanted to remain working part-time and ultimately relinquish my job to my husband so I could stay home and home school our children - that was difficult for me because I felt like I was disclosing that my once paramount career was no longer as important as my family.

My goal in life is to be a good person.

I try to be honest.

I try to work hard.

I try to be kind, gentle and compassionate.

I try to treat others as I would like to be treated.

I try to give and support to those less fortunate than myself.

I try to be someone that my husband, my mother and my children would be proud of.

I try to be someone that I am proud of.


I go to church and read my Bible - although not as frequently as I would like - and I do my best to absorb and follow the teachings of Christ.

I go to church and I strive to be a good person each and every day, not because I am attempting to improve my shots at getting in to Heaven, but because I am attempting to live each and every day of my life as intentionally good as possible.

Because I fear what people may think of me, it takes a lot of courage to admit that I don't embrace everything that I hear in church or that I read in the Bible. Sometimes, often times (at least once every time), I sit in on a Bible Study - there is a part of me that feels like an absolute phony for being there. Whenever I receive communion and accept the Holy Host, I beat myself up that I am unworthy and I anxiously wait for acid indigestion.

For starters, I don't believe in Creation.


Sure, I believe that God created the universe and all of the life forms in it ... but I don't believe that it happened in seven days. I don't believe in the Great Flood. I don't believe that Jonah was swallowed by a great fish and while in the gut of this great fish, he prayed for three days and nights and was finally spit on to dry land and promptly rushed off to tell the people of Nineveh that they needed to stop doing bad things.

I know it says that happened in the Bible. But in my heart, I don't believe it and considering the acceptance of these ideas may dictate my eternal salvation ... that's some heady stuff.

Up until we bought our minivan when the triplets were born, our car had a Darwin evolution fish on the back bumper. Whenever we would pull in to the church parking lot, we would smile and nod at those who stared at us, as though we were lost. Because surely no member of the Christian church would have an emblem of a fish sprouting legs on the back of their car.

But I did.

Hi there, how do you do? Potluck at our house next Sunday. See you there?

Sometimes, I wonder who I am and where my place should be. I grew up in the Catholic and later, Unitarian church. My best fit is probably with a Unitarian church and I would still be attending a Unitarian church if it wasn't located 45-minutes one-way from our home. Most of the time, if not all of the time, I feel like I'm an impostor in a Christian church because I don't believe everything that I read in the Bible.

Yet whenever I am in church, I am truly moved by the Holy Spirit and it feels like I am home. But then, when I sit down with fellow parishioners and read my Bible and contemplate that the only way to get to Heaven is to accept Jesus Christ as my Savior, I take pause.

Jesus kicks ass. It's true.

But what about people whose lives are never touched by Christ?

What about those that live in the jungles of South America?

What about Jewish people?

What about those that practice Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Spiritism, Scientology?

Even though the teachings of these religions may be good and pure, are they blaspheme?

It seems to me that if everyone loves each other and does their best to contribute to a good world, that is living a Godly life. Is that not enough?

I want to believe. I want to believe so badly at times that it hurts. I've asked to be saved. I've begged to be saved. But it hasn't happened - at least not in the way that I would expect. Does this mean I am not worthy? Does this mean that I am not trying hard enough?

But. But. But.

But.

Damn that I question anything and do not simply follow.

Has the devil got a strong hold on my mind, not allowing me to believe, completely?

So instead, I am guided by the gentle hand on my heart. The voice in my head that tells me to Breathe. Relax. Enjoy. Savor. Rejoice. Love. Accept. Question.

I firmly believe that life is created at conception. I believe that terminating life while in-utero is wrong and immoral. I know that if I had become pregnant with sextuplets after I transferred six embryos to my womb during my third in-vitro fertilization attempt, I would have done everything in my power to carry six babies for as long as possible.

I had no choice but to deliver our triplets almost 10 weeks prematurely. If I had waited a single day longer, I was told that my body would go in to shock and I would die.

How lucky I was that my babies were at a gestational age where they would survive outside of my body. But what if I had developed toxemia a few weeks earlier - where the viability of my children would not have been as favorable? What if it was against the law for the doctors to deliver my pre-term babies, even at risk of their mother's life?

Would I be here today?

Most definitely not. I would have died and my babies would have died.

Rape. Incest. Birth defects. Failed contraception.

In my opinion, those are not reasons to terminate a pregnancy.

Only God knows the wonderful life that is possible from a deformed child. Or, the greatness that an unplanned child resulting from an ugly conception is capable of creating.

Even though I am vehemently opposed to abortion, I support a woman's right to choice. I also support research, counseling and regulation. Although I believe that the unborn are sacred and must be protected, I know that if someone wants an abortion badly enough, they will terminate their pregnancy regardless of the legality. Several years before Roe versus Wade, my very own aunt performed an abortion on herself with a coat hanger. She risked her life because she was terrified that her parents would find out.

They never did.

If abortion was illegal, and I was faced with a desperate woman who had received counseling and presented with various options, and yet she still stood before me with a rusty coat hanger, or was verging on soliciting the "services" of a back alley specialist, with tears in my eyes, I would take her by the hand and lovingly guide her to a clinic where her pregnancy could be terminated, safely.

In my life, I know this much: Just because something is against the law, if people want it badly enough, they will get it.

Totally unrelated, but I do not understand why marijuana is illegal.

I tried to smoke pot once but I honestly do not know how to inhale, so I just sat there puffing and trying to look cool. And then, once when I was in graduate school, someone came to one of our parties and brought some "special" brownies. I eagerly placed the brownies on a plate and was ignorantly prepared to serve them to all of our guests when my friend whispered in my ear that these were brownies Charlie and I should put aside and enjoy later.

They were tucked in the seldom-used butter compartment of our refrigerator and promptly forgotten about until a year later when we moved. But by that point they were stale and I would have broken teeth trying to eat them.

But marijuana? It's a plant, right?

It's a natural growing substance that has medicinal purposes?

How is it any worse for you than tobacco?

Or alcohol?

Or 200 apple pies that you can order from McDonald's at the drive-thru?

Why are we wasting valuable resources on arresting people that grow, sell and smoke marijuana when the drug war should be focused on heroine, crack, cocaine, methamphetamine and any other synthetic street drug that could actually kill someone?

Why don't we have squads of nutritionists set up at fast food restaurants or along aisles in grocery stores educating consumers on the dangers of overeating, food additives and cholesterol?

Seriously, I do not know. If you can, please enlighten me.

Every person that lives in the United States of America is guaranteed the right to life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness. This great country was founded on religious freedom and the separation of church from state. So where does it say that marriage must be between a man and a woman? The Bible?

What if you don't subscribe to the Bible?

What if you subscribe to parts of the Bible?

I really appreciated all of the intelligent discussion on my last post. I particularly appreciated Karla's comment that, "[God] didn't send us to earth to just have a good time and do whatever we want. He wants us to learn, grow, overcome our challenges whatever they may be and become more like Him. Marriage between a man an a woman is the biggest step in this process. Men and women are meant to compliment each other physically and spiritually. Becoming parents in this union is the ultimate in learning compassion, charity, and unconditional love. I don't deny that people are born gay. I don't deny that people are born with other genetic predispositions that bring challenge, heartache, and prejudice to them throughout their lives. I believe that gays are meant to find happiness, but not through challenging something that is so important to the fabric of society."

I fully understand what Karla is saying.

But much like abortions will be performed whether or not they are legal, homosexuals will build relationships and families regardless of whether or not gay marriage is legal. So why not offer rights to those people that are trying to live their lives as well as they can? Why not offer rights to protect those homosexual families that perhaps have children and are trying to raise conscientious individuals that will strengthen and enhance the fabric of society?

Ultimately, I believe that everyone deserves the right to enjoy love in their life and to not suppress the person that they were born to be. I believe that everyone is entitled to life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness, regardless of who their God may be.


(If you are looking for a good rental, pick up Loggerheads. It is probably one of the best movies I've ever seen and touches on several subjects presented in this post).

Ultimately, I believe that it is important to stand up for those things that you believe in. I believe that it is important to defend those who cannot defend themselves. Even if defending something you believe in, means that you may lose the respect of people you know - and perhaps those you do not know.

As much as I firmly believe that life begins at conception, I firmly believe that homosexuals are entitled to the same civil rights as heterosexuals. I believe that homosexuality is not a choice. And regardless of what any one tells me, that little voice inside my head - the gentle hand guiding my heart tells me that people are born good and they are wired by God to grow in to the people that they are meant to be.

Tonight, I asked my husband to go in to Hillcrest, an area with the largest concentration of homosexual people in all of San Diego (quite possibly, all of Southern California), to pick up signs for our front yard that declare "NO on Prop 8!" We are surrounded by houses with "Yes on Prop 8!" signs, and within the past few days, I have become really agitated. I have felt like there is discrimination all around us. I have never been much of a political activist, but currently, we are the only house in our entire neighborhood with signs supporting what I consider to be the civil rights of homosexuals.

It took a lot of courage for us to post a sign supporting homosexual rights smack dab in our front yard. But not nearly as much courage as it took my athletic husband to go in to the Gay and Lesbian Rights headquarters in Hillcrest.

By himself.

Monday, October 27, 2008

what's the buzz

One day last week, I took the children shopping at Target.

The plan was to pick up some diapers. The reality was that I bought diapers, a few gallons of Mums for our garden, six bags of 90-piece Halloween candy and three of the exact same, cheaply made Halloween costume.

William spotted the costume first. And although I tried desperately to convince the girls that they wouldn't want to be Buzz Lightyear on Halloween, they wouldn't listen.

For a solid 20 minutes I tried to persuade William to be a big bad wolf and the girls could be little red riding hood. Or, William could be a prince, the girls could be princesses and Henry could be a frog. Or, they could all be bees. Or they could all be something - anything - other than dressing up in the most pathetically cheap costumes I've ever seen.

With a last ditch suggestion that the children all dress up as monkeys, William smiled and said "Hey Mom, I have a good idea. Why don't YOU be a monkey?"

So, Buzz it is.


All the way around.


A few weeks ago while at the doctor's office, I got carried away in conversation with the receptionist while I was waiting. She was one of those people that was very easy to talk with and in 20 minutes, we covered topics ranging from the busy life of parenthood to favorite family recipes.

At one point, she indicated that she would be fasting and praying for the next 40 days that Proposition 8 would pass. I gave her a puzzled look because at the time, I hadn't received my voter pamphlet and wasn't familiar with Proposition 8. I feigned understanding and privately vowed to go home and get caught up on the ballot.

Now I fully understand what the receptionist at my doctor's office was talking about. And honestly? It hurts my heart.

Several months ago, Charlie and I went out to dinner with some of our very good friends, and over dinner, we discussed a recent sermon we had heard at church. During the sermon, our minister indicated that homosexuality is a sin. If people have homosexual tendencies, they need to ignore them and live a pure heterosexual life. Or, they need to abstain from any relations.

See, the problem with all of this, in my opinion, is that people are born the way that they are meant to be. I believe that a person has about as much choice in selecting their sexual identity as they do in selecting their eye color. I believe that the reason so many people I know - who have been hurt by relationships in which their spouse discovered that they were gay - is because those people who were born with predominantly homosexual tendencies, attempted to mask their true identity.

What a painful and lonely row to hoe.

To know that you are gay, when every one around you is not? To be told that your very existence is sinful? To try and fit in to a situation by ignoring your true feelings, or living a life alone?

The way I see it ... people are born the way that they are meant to be born and in my opinion, everyone is a creation of God. I believe homosexuality has existed as long as humankind has existed even though I don't believe it is completely "normal" because a species would not survive if everyone was gay. Especially if sperm banks went out of business.

However.

I think that everyone should have the right to follow their heart and enjoy companionship while they walk through life. I think that if two women or two men would be happy together, than they should have the civil right to be together. What is their alternative? Live a life alone - or one in which they are not true to themself or their heterosexual partner?

All around my neighborhood are signs on front lawns advertising "Yes on Prop 8!" People that I've talked to have told me that voting "yes" will protect marriage and family values and make the world a more wholesome place.

Really?

I don't see it that way at all.

I don't think that overturning a law that will provide everyone the right to marry, is going to do anything to improve the state of our world or humanity. I think that it will only further the discrimination among people who are already discriminated against.

If people really want to make the world a better place and enhance family values, they ought to first go after television stations that air Maury Povich shows in the middle of the day, just when children are coming home from school, with episodes about paternity testing. It seems to me that programs regarding "I slept with four men and don't know who is my baby's daddy!" and "Your triplets ain't mine!" do a lot more to undermine the moral structure of society than allowing a same-sexed couple to form a union in which they are eligible to accept insurance or benefits.

The supporters of Prop 8 argue that our children will be taught about same sex marriages in school. The commercials that I've seen show a little girl coming home and telling her appalled mother that she learned how two princesses can get married.

I can't help but wonder if that family would be equally aghast to see a little boy dressed in ballerina garb, or answer the door on Halloween night only to find two little girls wearing a boys costume.

I guess I'll soon find out.


Because thus far, the children show no sign of wanting to be anything else.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

state of the union

Yes, the call I made yesterday was real.

As was the call that my 15-month old son made, moments later to my boss. I was so engrossed babbling on to an air pocket that I wouldn't have even realized he had made a call, if not for Henry's fit of laughter that caught my attention, when he heard my boss talking on the other end of the line. And then I heard a familiar voice. Who I can only assume, heard me - babbling on to an air pocket.

So, um.

Now what?

I don't foresee anything happening immediately, but once I called Charlie at work, and he stopped saying, "Oh no you didn't. OH! NO! YOU! DIDN'T!!" he calmly observed, "Well. I suppose that might be considered pulling the trigger, huh?"

It feels really good that the "truth" is out.

I certainly don't want to be a full-time career woman and I don't want anyone to think that I ever will be a full-time career woman, while I have children at home. Not just small children mind you, but children. So long as I have children at home, my schedule must retain enough flexibility so that I can attend to them first and foremost.

Currently, Part-time is fine!

Part-time is fun!

Part-time allows for supplemental income that helps to offset the cost of living. Part-time is necessary for me to have a break. Especially since none of the children in this house like to sleep very much anymore and although I am their mother and I love them, I'm not insane and I know that staying with them every minute of every day will drive me insane. Rapidly.

But. If we are to move back to the east coast, the expectation is for me to work full-time. And since I'm not willing to do that - perhaps Charlie would be in a better position to accept the opportunity that might be offered to me. And by that point, the children will be a little older and the call of full-time school will be on the radar. So that's when I'll stay home and teach them and sell handmade goods and my blog will be wallpapered in ads.

Although Charlie enjoys being home with the children, he has it in his blood to be a professional. And for the past few years, his career has been on a yo-yo track. He works full-time, he's out to help me recover from birthing triplets. He works full-time while I'm on maternity leave, he returns to part-time so I can work, he's out almost full-time to assist with the triplets while I work full-time and gestate baby four. He's out to help me recover from birthing a singleton, he's full-time while I'm on maternity leave. He's part-time when I return to work.

I think what makes all of this so difficult for me is that I spent so many years working hard to obtain my academic degrees, professional registrations and earn a reputable position with the largest petroleum company in the world. To walk away from it all seems scary and slightly irresponsible. In this day and age, women are accomplishing (almost) everything that men accomplish in the work force. But unlike men, it is in a woman's DNA (and conscience) to raise her children and that is why making the choice of what to do once baby arrives can be absolutely grueling.

People have been asking me, why would we change anything?

Life is great!

But the fact is, every so often, it's important to pick your head up and look around. You must take an inventory of where you are in life. Is it necessary to slightly adjust your compass heading? Or, perhaps throw the compass on the floor smashing the glass and breaking the dial?

For the past several months, I've oscillated between pure contentment and pure panic. There has been a gnawing at my heart that sometime soon, we'll need to make a change. We'll need a larger house and more elbow room. We'll need to be closer to family. We'll need to make the decision to either send our children to school full time, or home school them ourselves.

Regardless of how great life is, I think it's good to shake things up every so often. Even if after you shake things up you feel the need to sit down and stick your head between your knees because suddenly all the blood in your body has drained to your feet.

My mother called me this morning to say that she was up all night last night thinking about our situation and she has determined that I am manic and need to be medicated.

That came as a real surprise because I was up all night thinking that this is the most clear thinking I've had in a long time. Especially now that I've shaved everyone's heads and we chant Hare Hare Krishna.

Friday, October 24, 2008

what did i do?

I think I may have just called my boss and told him that my career was my passion until I had children. And now, my children are my passion and I can't be a really good mother and a really good employee. And then, I think I said that I want to home school our children. And then I might have said that I think my company should hire Charlie in my place. And then, I think I may have said that we need to be relocated to Virginia so we could be closer to family.

And then, I called my husband from our home line and told him what I did.

And then, while I was hyperventilating and talking out loud to my shadow over the repercussions of such communication with my husband and boss and our uncertain future, unbeknown to me, Henry picked up my cell phone and in the process of mashing buttons as only a one-year-old can do ... called the last number dialed and jabbered on the phone while I could hear my boss ask over the speakerphone, "Is this the baby?? Is this Henry??"

And then I passed out.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

desperately searching for balance

Earlier this week, I started a post in which the very first paragraph read, "Here we go again ... me not sure what the heck I'm doing. Me wondering if sending the children to Montessori is the right decision. Me wondering if we should move. Me wondering what to do with my career. Me wondering how in the world I'm supposed to keep all of the balls that represent the various facets of our lives successfully in the air. Me realizing that although I'm getting through each and every day, it doesn't feel like I am doing any one thing particularly well."

Over the weekend, and almost all of this week, I have been in a stupor regarding what I "should" be doing. This most recent seizure and subsequent, immobilization of my psyche was prompted by two managers who cornered me on the last day of my meeting in Palm Springs, and asked point blank, "What do you want to do? You know you'll need to make a decision, soon. Right?"

My peaceful world wobbled and fell off it's axis.

Career. Opportunity. Relocation. A Decision.

I've known that I need to make a Decision soon. But this is the first time that I've been TOLD that I need to make a Decision soon.

I stink at making Decisions.

One of my bosses, the more senior of the two said, "You are very talented. We could really use you in a number of locations within our corporation. In fact, I think we could use Charlie, too. For the past several years, you have been leading a very eclectic life. And while that is admirable, you are living a mainstream life - while being out of the mainstream. Right now, you have the opportunity to give your family more stability."

Then for the swift kick that sent my peaceful world rolling out the door where it was run over by a semi-truck, "Do you want to move? Yes or no? Do you want to work full-time? Yes or no?"

I stuttered.

I couldn't make eye contact.

I was fixated on a bird sitting on the top frond of a palm tree outside of the pool. In a span of five seconds I tried to dig deep in to my soul and come up with the right answer.

What do I want to do?

What is the right choice for my family?

When it became clear that he wasn't going to move until I provided an answer, I blurted out, "Can I use one of my life lines? Uh. Maybe call a friend?"

It seems that there is a potential opportunity for me in Virginia in the middle of next year. Management wants me to consider this job. I have no idea what I want, even though the idea of living closer to family and in an area with changing seasons is appealing. My mind changes throughout the day. I ponder and pray at night and wake up with one decision, only to have my mind change five times before I've even climbed out of bed.

Add to that, the children's Montessori teacher pulled me aside today and said that they have three spaces available in the nap room. The option is available for us to leave the children at school for six hours a day as opposed to three. I can't believe I'm even considering this but the part-time schedule is pure torture.

The delusion I had of having three hours of "free" time to myself in the morning has yet to come to fruition. Not once have I jaunted off to the store - or to the gym. Usually, I'm trying to clean up from breakfast and lunch preparation, take the baby down from the table, make beds, get myself and the baby dressed, take the baby down from the table, play with the baby, throw in a load of laundry, take the baby down from the table, tidy up miscellaneous piles, and get Henry settled in for a nap.

I hardly have time to get anything else accomplished in those three hours during the morning, before it's time to go pick up the kids. And even then, I'm usually five minutes late. Twice in the past week, I've had to wake up a (finally) sleeping baby so I could go get his siblings from school. I'm sure it would be less painful to stab myself in the hand with dull scissors.

Was my life easier before school or is it easier now?

I really can't tell. It feels like I am constantly running around trying to get things accomplished. And even though I'm moving nonstop and sleeping very little - I'm not getting half the things done that need to get done.

Grocery shopping? If I'm lucky.

Laundry? Maybe but probably not.

My list for thank you notes is a mile long.

And the resulting guilt when I do something like blog or sit and stare at dirty grout, when I should be working or playing with the children or talking to my husband about "Oh my God, what should we DO?!" is debilitating.

People have been telling me that when the kids go to school, life will be easier. When I hire help and have people come clean the house, life will be easier. Currently, I have our children in school AND I have someone coming to clean the house. And thus far, life is not any easier. If anything, it is more complicated and I feel more driven to work so that we can afford all of these "conveniences."

Now, the option is there to send the kids to school full-time.

I feel like I'm on a slippery slope.

This isn't what I wanted to have happen, I think they're too young, but it seems so tempting.

Six hours a day.

The additional cost of full time school is so marginal, it's not even worth discussion. But since our children's energy stores are exploding, I've enrolled them in gymnastics one day a week and swimming lessons twice a week. At this point, our children's education and extracurricular activities is equivalent to our mortgage.

It's a fact.

Financially, I can't stay home and send our children to school. I also can't send our children to school full time on some days, and not on others. This particular program is five days a week so it's all or nothing. And although there are other preschool programs, I've already invested a lot in this particular one, so I don't want to make a change. Unless, that change is to terminate school altogether. But that seems wrong.

I think?

What really bothers me is that my patience with the children seems so slim.

Why is that? Wouldn't it make sense that if I was gone for them for longer stretches during the day, I would embrace them and all of their completely irrational four-year-old behavior when we were reunited? Why do they annoy me? I feel like I am spread so thin and the best that I have to give is subdivided upon far too many entities.

Although one might think that with all of my "free" time, the time I have with the children is focused. But it's not. I'm distracted by the next thing that needs to be done. Dinner preparation. Baths. Putting the mail away so that the kids don't open random bills, and cover them with scribbles from a purple crayon and pumpkin stickers.

Yet even though just one of our children, let alone all three, has the ability to drive fruit flies from a rotting banana, I really miss them. I miss our outings to the zoo and the library and play dates and various parks with picnics at random times throughout the day. Is it possible that the small window of opportunity for unstructured free time, before they were pulled away from me and in to a rigorous daily routine has already slammed shut closed?

On our current schedule - or proposed schedule - it certainly seems that way.

I feel like I have very little time with them anymore. Except for those days when they are home sick from the most recent virus they picked up at school. I have a bit of time in the morning during breakfast. A bit of time in the afternoon before I wrestle with them to take a nap. A bit of time in the evening when I'm trying to prepare dinner and keep them away from the hot stove because yes!! it! is! hot!! must you burn yourself again to know that your mother speaks the truth?!

I really want to be one of those women who have a passion about their career - or know in their heart that absolutely, they could give their children everything that they could learn at school and more. I want to be one of those women who knows the best and right thing to do. I want conviction. I am so afraid that if I stop working and pull the children out of school, the visions I have for success will not match our reality.

And then what?

I'll be unemployed during a dire economic time and the children under my tutelage will have glued their eyes closed with an adhesive stick that they thought was sunscreen.

wednesday weigh in

Up until I competed in my second triathlon on Sunday, I had not done any exercise for almost three weeks.

Since my race on Sunday, I have done nothing until tonight.

Tonight, while Charlie stayed home with the baby, I took the triplets and we dropped "Boo" bags off to several of our neighbors.

When I took off with three bags full of fun Halloween surprises for our unsuspecting neighbors, and three children who were dressed in matching Buzz Lightyear costumes (and whom happen to be sleeping in those very same costumes at this exact moment, but that's a whole 'nuther story), I didn't think for a moment I would be getting the most intense work out of my entire life.

But it seems that dropping off a Boo bag, ringing a doorbell, and RUNNING as fast as you can while your three children instantly and simultaneously lose all coordination and fall down, and you must RUN back and pick them all up and RUN away as fast as you can before your secret identity is revealed and then, you DIVE behind bushes and ROLL under a parked car and SSHH!!! your children because you hear your neighbors come out of their homes to investigate the origins of the goodwill doer who left a bag of surprises on their doorstep ... in the process of all that you will discover that you are straining muscles you didn't even realize you had.

You'll also realize that you might be getting a little carried away with spreading good cheer.

But oh, it's so much fun!!

Much like participating in a triathlon.

Also, so much fun!!

My race this past weekend was great. I had some serious reservations about participating because I hadn't been exercising and was still on antibiotics for strep. But it really surprised me that I was able to finish the whole thing. And unlike my previous triathlon, I was actually PASSING people.

In the water!

On the bike!

During the run!!

Sure, they were only nine years old, but it was like they were standing still.

I never did stop. Except for one point on the run when my iPod ceased operation.

See, during the first triathlon, Charlie convinced me not to bring my iPod. He said that it was against the rules and I wouldn't need it, because I would be so pumped by the crowd that was there, cheering me on. Based solely on my husband's description of the crowd enthusiasm, I fully expected to have unending energy. I fully expected that I would be inspired by the atmosphere and I would tap in to muscle and endurance reserves I didn't know existed. I fully expected that I would be so motivated by the crowd, I wouldn't even feel tired and I'd be accelerating forward, gracefully, magically, as if propelled on a moving sidewalk.

That didn't happen.

During my first triathlon, I was really tired. I was wicked pissah tired. And there was no way the crowd was going to pump me up, unless they broke in to the Village People's "Y-M-C-A" and shoulder carried me across the finish line. Or if someone morphed in to a giant Reese's peanut butter cup and took off running down the street.

But this time, I brought music and I cannot tell you how much of a difference it made. I felt totally energized. I ran the whole distance. Except for when "Mr. Blue Sky" spattered and went dead and I was instantly zapped of motivation and slowed from a jog to a walk while fumbling with my iPod. And then when I couldn't resolve the technical difficulty, I stopped, unclipped it - held it high over my head and shouted to the heavens "ARRGHHH WHY MUST YOU TORTURE ME SO?!" before seeing that my ear phones had fallen out.

I plugged them back in, felt immediately rejuvenated by music and ran wee-wee-wee, all the way home. Right now, I am overcome with happiness just thinking about how a lucky some one is going to WIN one of these awesome beauties, next week.

It will CHANGE your exercise life.

So come on. How are you doing with your goals?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

the road to hell is paved with krispy kreme

Tonight there was an open house at the children's Montessori school. It was great to walk through the classrooms and see all the various projects the children have completed and photos of them - busy at work - hanging on the wall.

I'm so glad that I went tonight. Just yesterday, I was rethinking my whole decision to send our children to school and was contemplating pulling all of them out and quitting my job so I could stay home and teach them, myself. Why yes, I am the model of instability. How it is that my husband hasn't taken off RUNNING for the mountains with all of my crazy talk and indecision is completely beyond me.

The open house didn't end until 9:30 PM and once it concluded, I quickly drove to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients necessary to bake the 24 banana muffins I'll need for the birthday party that they'll be holding in Elizabeth's class, tomorrow.

Carolyn's party is on Thursday. William's party is on Tuesday of next week.

I wasn't in the store tonight for more than thirty seconds when I decided that banana muffins would be too time consuming and instead, I'll just make cupcakes. But then, while I'm standing there in aisle seven, trying to pick out muffin liners, I started thinking about all the other things I need to do between that very moment and twelve hours later when I needed to show up at the school party with refreshments.

And really, who has time to bake cupcakes when there is stuff to do?

So before you know it, organic banana muffins turned in to Betty Crocker cupcakes turned in to donuts that I plan to pick up tomorrow, on my way to school. It turns out I'm a major slave to convenience and I will never judge anyone again for bringing two-dozen glazed to school. On the downside, there will be 24 children loaded high on sugar. But on the upside, the 75 gourds that we picked out almost three weeks ago have held up remarkably well and I plan to hand out floss.

Monday, October 20, 2008

i'm planning the next one

My second triathlon was yesterday. Thankfully, Henry's consistency with waking up at 4:55 AM is spot on, because otherwise I would have missed the race since my alarm clock malfunctioned.

(If you can consider having the volume turned down too low a legitimate malfunction).

While I sat on the couch nursing him, I kept thinking HOW NICE it would be to go back to bed. It was pitch dark and cold. Yet because I had already blogged about how I was going to participate in this race, I felt compelled to do it. Darn that computer and my conscience.


So I put the baby back in his crib, changed out of my warm jammies, got in to a freezing cold spandex triathlon suit, tucked all the kids in, gave my snoring husband a kiss goodbye, grabbed a bagel and slipped out the door.

Once I arrived at the race, I unloaded my bicycle and made my way over to the transition area to join 1,000 other women who had also climbed out of their warm beds and were questioning aloud WHY they were doing this, again. I kept checking my watch and was surprised that at 6:40 AM, there was still no sign of the sun. It seems that the only thing less appealing than jumping in to 62-degree water, is jumping in to 62-degree water in the dark.

Fortunately, by the time my "wave" started, the sun was poking through the dense marine layer and it was high tide. I could just make out the buoys that I needed to swim to, and could see the bike route that I had to ride twice, and the run loop that I had to complete once.

Or was it one and two?

Once again, I felt anxious when I looked around and noticed that I was standing in a literal sea of fit women who looked like they could be gracing the cover of a sports magazine. Just as I was starting to doubt my physical ability and wondering why I keep pushing myself to do these grandiose events - I saw that the woman standing directly in front of me, had her wetsuit on inside out.

Seriously.

All of the tags were facing out. The zipper was on the inside of the suit and there was even a little patch across the bum that read "this side in". Just then, she turned and asked me, "Do you have any idea where we are supposed to go?"

Oh, the relief to know that I'm not the only clueless one!

Although I'm not sure of my exact time, I'm fairly certain I made better time than I did during my first triathlon that I had actually prepared for. My transition this time around was a little slower, but unlike my first race, this time I got to experience the excitement of fumbling with a wet suit and in the process, knocking over 10 bicycles in the transition area.

The most notable event during the race was when I saw Charlie and the children during my bike ride. He woke everyone up at 6:30 AM, loaded them in to the car, gave them juice boxes and cinnamon rolls, and found a spot to set up a blanket on the course so that he would see me twice on the ride and once on the run.


It was so great to see my family. I'm already thinking about the awesome relay team I should be able to pull together within the next five years.


In other news.

To Red Sox Nation: I had been holding out hope that perhaps the Red Sox flag that I had flying at the front of our house would be enough to pull them through this year, but alas, it does in fact seem that winning the World Series Championship is entirely dependant upon my ability to reproduce. It's no mystery. 2004 = the triplets were born. 2007 = Henry. When I told Charlie that we needed to have a fifth in order to clinch the Championship again, he looked at me perplexed and asked, "A fifth of what?! BOURBON, I hope!!"

Sure Charlie. Maybe the bourbon will come first...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

why yes, I am out of my mind

The birthday party today was fun.

(Thanks for the picture, Lorie. It seems that all of the photos "I" tried to take, the kids are either picking their noses or looking the other way. I think we have hit a point where anyone EXCEPT their own mother can take their picture.)

Charlie and I have both given the party a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10. The three point deduction was due primarily to the heat and large crowds. This is the third birthday we've celebrated at this particular pumpkin patch - but every time we've ever been before, it is overcast and cool and the crowds are lean. After today, I decided that I'd take overcast and lean to scorching and crowded any day.

Still, we had a good time.

The children especially appreciated that not a single attendee to their party paid any mind to the request I made on the invitation, "Your presence is our present. No gifts please!"

I had thought that maybe this year I could get away with the children not receiving presents at their party. But ever since I sent the invitations out three weeks ago, the kids have been asking me with routine frequency, "We get PRESENTS at our birthday party?!" This banter of course led me to feel like a huge pile of dung. What mother denies their four-year-old child birthday presents at their party?!

(The same kind of mother that detours from driving her children to their birthday party and then, makes them listen to a 20-minute pre race triathlon talk before dragging them around for another 20 minutes while she picks up her goody bag, swim cap, bib numbers, timing chip and free Accelerade sample.)

(William showing off his rally cap)

It's not that I don't want to see our children happy.

I just happen to believe it's a little overwhelming to be invited to a party where you have to buy for THREE kids. Unless, of course, you run in triplet circles and know that it is perfectly acceptable to buy ONE gift for the whole family. Besides, we live in a space that seems to be getting smaller by the minute and the thought of bringing MORE stuff in to this house makes me jittery.

So the kids loved all of the presents they received. You've never seen such happy kids. Until I told them that they couldn't rip every last gift open while we were at the pumpkin patch and instead, they needed to wait until we drove home. And then, you've never seen such sad kids.

Tonight, I am packed and ready to go tomorrow morning. I need to leave the house by 5:15 AM in order to get to the race with enough time to set up my bicycle in the transition area. My race doesn't start until 7:49 AM, but God only knows how long it will take me to get in to this wetsuit all by myself. It took almost 10 minutes tonight with Charlie standing on the bed over my shoulders and telling me to "JUMP!"

But I figure if the Red Sox can come back from a two game deficit to tie up the ALCS, anything is possible. Although, I might sleep in it tonight, to save myself the heart ache tomorrow. Truly, just putting that wetsuit on has been the most exercise I have accomplished in the past month.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

'twas the night before the party

It was only after we made and frosted and decorated 40 cupcakes that we recounted the number of people that will be attending the triplet's fourth birthday party tomorrow ... and realized that we had forgotten to include 10 people that will be in attendance. So at 10:30 PM, Charlie rushed off to the store before it closed, to purchase ingredients necessary to make an additional 20 cupcakes, for a grand total of 60 cupcakes. For 45 people.

While he baked and frosted and decorated, I worked on blowing up balloons. It took me three solid hours to blow up all these balloons. The picture doesn't do the volume of balloons justice. There really are about five times as many as what are shown, here.

We filled up three 50-gallon trash bags to the brink.

My lungs are now in good shape for Sunday but my fingers are blistered from all the knot ties. And yes, I definitely plan to compete in the triathlon. If for no other reason than to burn off a few hundred calories I'll surely ingest from consuming 15 leftover cupcakes that I'll eat with my elbows.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

wednesday weigh in

I think I forgot to mention that Charlie competed in his triathlon last weekend. He was able to carve a solid 30 minutes off the time it took him to complete his first triathlon.

Remember, the one he did with me?

Where he ran backwards for three miles so we could talk?

When he arrived home from his most recent race, he told me that he could have finished the race a little faster, but he was late crossing the start line. Apparently, the swimmers had a "water" start which means that they had to swim approximately 100 yards off shore to a buoy and listen for the starting gun. Charlie was approximately 50 yards from the start and was leisurely paddling along, wondering why there were so many "older" grey-haired men in the water near his start wave.

It dawned on my husband, just about the time that he heard the starting gun sound, he himself is an 'older' guy. While he was scrambling to get to the start line, he realized that within the past few years, he has graduated from the 30-something age range to the 40- and up.

This depression inspiration only intensified when he was riding along, and he heard a group of people that were going crazy cheering. He thought that maybe they were cheering for him, so he started to pedal a little stronger. But just then, he heard a voice yell "On your LEFT!" and he was passed by a 77-year old man.

He knew the age of the man because every triathlete's age is written on the back of their calf with black sharpie. So when Charlie was passed while running by a group of women that were in their 50's, he felt determined that he could do better. He's been swimming almost every day since and is currently running on the treadmill in the hotel exercise room.

Then, there's me.

I am scheduled to compete in my second triathlon this coming Sunday. With the exception of hiking up hill for two miles today while pushing two children in a stroller and carrying one child on my back ... I have done nothing to prepare for this race while I've been sick with strep throat for the past several weeks. Actually, I did go to the gym one day a few weeks ago and ride the stationary bike for 50 minutes, but if I'm being perfectly honest, I mostly sat and watched post-season baseball. (Joe Torre is the coach for the Dodgers? When did that happen?!)

It seems that the only thing that I can do to prepare for my race on Sunday at this point in time, is to convince myself that climbing out of a warm bed at 5:00 AM and jumping in to a 62-degree ocean at 7:00 AM, is a good idea.

*****
How are you doing with your goals? Please, inspire me!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

they will never be three again

Today, our amazing trips turned four-years-old.

All day today, I kept wondering, does it seem like four years ago I weighed 110 pounds more than I do at this moment? Does it seem like four years ago I was in a hospital bed certain that I was going to die, or worse yet, all three of my precious babies were going to die? Does it seem like four years ago I was hooked up to monitors and magnesium sulfate and watching the Red Sox lose game after game after game to the Yankees ... only to make the greatest come back in all of baseball history, rising like a Phoenix from the ashes?

These past four years have been the most incredible years of my life.

From watching our three tiny and vulnerable premature infants grow in to three curious toddlers and continue growth in to this current phase of adventurous (nonstop talking) preschoolers - there has never once been a dull moment since our children have arrived in our world.

If our lives up until this point had been a book, I think it could best be characterized as a love story, punctuated by comedy and horror.

Since I'm away on a business meeting using my work computer that has limited internet access (particularly as it pertains to accessing those sites where all of my photographic images are stored), I cannot include any pictures with this post. Unfortunately, the photos that I took of the children yesterday, when we scurried about town and they were dressed in their summer clothes while wearing their brightly colored matching hats from Patagonia, will have to wait.

The pictures that I most wanted to include with this post were of the children tossing pennies in to a fountain and making heartfelt wishes. And then, they would reach in to the fountain and do their best to scoop their pennies out so that they could throw them in and wish some more.

After they threw the equivalent of five dollars in coins in to the water, I rounded up all of the children so that they were close in my arms, and I cast a quarter in to the water. I hoped that this big coin would be large enough to cover all of the wishes that I have for my babies.

I wished for them patience and kindness and compassion and good health. I wished for them happiness and joy and the ability to share and the ability to eat a green vegetable every once in a while. I wished for them love. Unending, unconditional, uncomplicated love.

And then, I wished for me.

I wished that I would have the patience and kindess and compassion that will be required to raise these children in to the kind, patient and compassionate people I hope that they will become. I wished that I would continue to find joy in the small things that they do, and I wished that I will always have (or be able to find without too much wine), the ability to see the humor in just about every situation. I wished that I would enjoy them.

Each and every day, I wished that I would enjoy these little people that like a Phoenix, seem to be rising from the ashes before my very eyes.

And then, I thought about reaching in to the fountain so I could scoop my quarter out and wish on them some more.

Monday, October 13, 2008

yet another reason to grow all my own food

If there is one thing that really drives me mad, it's on that very rare occasion when I purchase some kind of food item without first checking the expiration date, only to bring that item home and discover that it had expired.

Food safety is very important to me.

I exercise extreme caution to thoroughly wash all of our fruits and vegetables, keep a clean food preparation area, promptly refrigerate leftovers, and clean out our refrigerator at least once every two weeks. Without exception, my mantra is, "When in doubt, throw it out!!"

It irks me to no end when I open a new bag of produce only to see that it has started to go bad. Or when a new loaf of bread sprouts mold spores after less than two days in our cupboards.

Last week, on the one day that I went out shopping, I purchased a 1/2 gallon of Naked All Natural Superfood. I only slightly balked at the $9.00 price tag for a 1/2 gallon of juice because I felt like my body needed green juice.

Yesterday, when I was out shopping at Target, I picked up a 1/2 gallon of orange juice. And why on earth I didn't check the expiration on either of these 1/2 gallons of juices before purchase - to this very moment eludes me because I am an expiration date checking QUEEN.

I'm always climbing reaching in the far back of the refrigerator section - or bread racks - to pull out the absolute freshest selection available.

So today?!

I pull out my Superfood green juice, and noticing that I still have 1/2 of a 1/2 gallon container remaining ... and remembering that we'll be gone for the next four days ... I decide that I need to drink ALL of this juice today. And then, I catch a quick glance at the expiration date and my mind reels for a moment when I see September 26, 2008.

SEPTEMBER??


Aren't we in OCTOBER?


I then look at the orange juice that I bought YESTERDAY and my mind reels more when I see that the expiration date is October 1, 2008. I look at the calendar, call my husband to confirm that I'm not caught in a time warp, and I fury hard.

Even though I bought these products at two different stores, and even though I have a laundry list of items to do before we head out of town for the next four days, I will be going back to both of the stores today ... with four small children in tow ... and tell them that although there is a responsibility on the consumer to check expiration dates and make an informed purchase, it is the ULTIMATE responsibility of the proprietor to insure that the food products that they have on their shelves are fresh and within date.

They certainly should not have food for sale that expired several weeks prior.


Then, once I'm really fired up, I plan to go by Trader Joe's on the way home and inquire why no one ever got back to me regarding the bug in my organic garbanzo beans.

Of course I don't have any of the receipts. But I'm hoping that the managers will figure anyone who comes in to their store with old juice and four small children is legitimate and not just looking for something to do.

Because there's always laundry.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

favorite thing friday

** Edit: Please read the comments on this post because there is more discussion regarding the apple corer and recipe!! **

We drove up to our local mountains and went apple picking last weekend.


Because we have three children that were very interested in picking apples, and wanted nothing more than to hold their very own bag, we picked enough apples to last us for the next four months. Or, to make apple pies for 60 families.


During the drive home, I was telling the children all of the magnificent things that we would do with our three overflowing bags worth of apples. We would make pies! cobbler! sauce! juice!

Heck, we would just pick them up and eat them, like an apple!

We weren't in the door for five minutes and I had three little helpers that were PUMPED to help me cook apples. So I set to work making one of my all-time favorite recipes and ultimate comfort foods ... apple crisp. And to make apple crisp, I called upon one of my all-time favorite kitchen utensils and ultimate fruit preparation gadget .. my apple corer.


I feel an apple corer is one of those items that probably everyone has in their kitchen. But maybe (like me up until about five years ago), you have never heard of an apple corer. And when you learn how this tool can slice apples (and pears) cleanly in to perfectly spaced wedges - with no risk of cutting fingers - you will want one.

And even if you know all about the glory that is an apple corer, I'll be you don't know all about the glory that is my family's ancient apple crisp recipe.

To make this food that to me, is the true embodiment of the fall season and represents everything that is good in the world ... you will need apples. Approximately eight if they are moderate to large in size.


Or, approximately ten if they are the approximate size of a pool ball.


You will also need:
  • 2 sticks of softened (not melted!) butter
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • ½ cup of brown sugar
  • 1 ½ cup of flour
  • Cinnamon
  • Lemon
  • Oatmeal
  • Almonds (optional)

First, you will peel and core your apples.

If you want to do an OCD screening test, you could then line all of the cores up and see if it troubles anyone that some of the stems are facing a different way.


You will then place all of your nice and evenly sliced apples in to a 9 x 13 baking dish.

And squeeze the juice of a lemon over them.


Then, you will evenly sprinkle approximately one cup of oatmeal over the apple slices.


And then, you will evenly sprinkle cinnamon over the apple, lemon, oatmeal concoction. You'll want to exercise caution that your cinnamon container is set to "sprinkle" and not "pour".

Oops.


If you have little helpers, this is a great time to call upon them because they will thoroughly enjoy dumping the various dry ingredients in to a big bowl.


In goes the sugar!

In goes the flour!

The brown sugar!

The softened butter!


This is the part your little helpers will especially enjoy, because once they have nice clean hands, they get to squish all of the ingredients together.


Sure, you could use a mixer if you have one - but I think that the consistency of the "crisp" is so much better if the ingredients are gently "merged" as opposed to "mixed."


You'll then evenly distribute the sugar, flour, brown sugar, softened butter concoction over the apple, cinnamon, oatmeal, lemon concoction. If you are feeling a little nutty, you can evenly sprinkle on top of that - some sliced almonds.


And another gentle sprinkling of cinnamon.


You will place the whole getup in to a pre-heated 350 degree oven and bake uncovered for one hour, or until the apples are soft and the top is lightly brown.

While the crisp bakes - bathe your helpers who will most likely be coated from head-to-toe with flour, sugar and butter. And because the lovely aroma of apples and cinnamon will be wafting through your house, you should have no trouble convincing your helpers to get out of the tub and in to their PJ's, which on any other night, might take every last bit of energy that you possess.

Before less than a minute has lapsed once you remove it from the oven, you will carve out a piece, place it in a bowl, throw on a huge dollop of vanilla ice cream, light a candle, reflect on all that is good in the universe, and prepare to experience pure joy.

But first you must decide whether you will eat this masterpiece with a spoon or a fork...


Or, perhaps you will opt for both a spoon AND a fork if you happen to be three-years-old.