Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Stranger Danger - Aptly Explained

Know what one of the hardest things about parenting a young - outgoing! - child is? At least for me - it's getting her to understand about Stranger Danger. The old definition of "anyone who you don't know" just doesn't quite work in our day and age. At least not completely. It's all quite frustrating.

So when I came across this article (click on that link, then scroll down to the 5th article - Who's a Stranger?) while waiting at my doctor's office today, I was pretty dang excited.

Bill Marquis, Program Director for Lil' Iguana Children's Safety Foundation, lays it out straight, defining a stranger as, simply, anyone you don't have permission to go with - whether you know that person or not. I'm paraphrasing here, but he goes on to say that it doesn't even matter if it's grandpa or the neighbor lady (whom you say hi to and casually chat with almost every day) - if anyone asks your child to go somewhere with them, your child MUST get your permission to go. Every. Single. Time.

Marquis even goes so far as to define "permission", saying that your child must look you straight in the eyes while asking, so she knows she has your full attention. And then she must wait for the answer. None of this sticking-her-head-in-the-door-and-yelling-that-she's-going-to-so-and-so's-house, and-then-she's-gone stuff. Uh-uh. Full-on, interactive understanding and communication between the parent and child is key. This way, everyone - including the the person your child will now be with - is completely aware that you as the parent know exactly where, and with whom, your child is going to be for the next little while.

I really loved this article and fully intend to have a family discussion at dinnertime tonight about what all three of us needs to know about strangers, responsibility, and accountability. We all need to be on the same page to not only keep Sweetie as safe as possible, but also help Hubby and I stay in agreement about what is expected from our growing little girl.

Unfortunately, the world is not as safe as it once was. Even the seemingly kindly elderly neighbor lady or the "responsible" school teacher your child has come to love can easily end up causing harm to a child they've made to gain their trust. Because of these all-too-frequently-documented unfortunate circumstances, Stranger Danger a very tricky concept to ingrain into our childrens' heads. We want them to be safe and take all sorts of (possibly) extreme precautions. But at the same time, we don't want to altogether squash our kids' innocent, youthful ideals.

Marquis has done a fantastic job of simply summing up what every child needs to know about strangers in an easy way for parents to explain and kids to understand. Bravo! Job well done. I - and I imagine many other parents - are extremely grateful for your well written article. 

Monday, October 27, 2008

Mama Monday #46.1

Theme: Wise

I think I'll most likely keep up with my Sweetie Saturday posts after all. But instead of restricting myself to the funnier things Sweetie says, I'll now most likely delve into the wiser, more "worldly" offerings she has to share. She's at an age where she's rapidly discovering so much about the world around her and her own thoughts and feelings that she's coming up with some real gems.

For instance, the other day a gift catalog arrived in our mailbox. Sweetie sat on my lap as we flipped through the pages - each one filled with very interesting and colorful items. 

One of the things for sale was a plaque for your wall. On it was written the phrase - "Let go, Let God". Sweetie easily read it aloud, but I didn't know if she knew the meaning of the words.

Who's God, Sweetie? - I asked, not quite sure of the answer she'd give.

However, without so much as 2 second's delay, she said - God is love, future, nature and love.

Wow! Love, future, nature and love. That sounds great! Did you learn that in church school?  (me, thinking how impressed I was with what's actually coming across to her during Circle time at church).

No. I just made it up myself.

Hmmm.... Whatever. Sounds just about right to me.


Another instance had me putting Sweetie to bed one night. We'd recently moved our new whole room heater up to her bedroom. It works well, but it's awfully quiet. Sweetie is used to having a fan going for background noise to help her fall to sleep. (In the winter, she still uses the fan, just pointed outside of her room so she doesn't get too cool). But this night Sweetie asked if I could please leave the fan off.

I don't mind hearing you work downstairs, Mama. Hearing you actually helps me to have sweet dreams. You don't have to stay quiet for me.

Huh. I repeated her request back to her, just so that I was clear on which fan she wanted me to keep on and which she wanted off. When I finished - getting her words just about right - she proudly answered: Exactly!

She's been good with the white-noise-making-fan staying off from then on.


I've been very proud of Sweetie in terms how she's thinking about her unique Halloween costume. The idea to be a stick of butter was entirely her own - a creative idea she's been so excited to claim. 

However, I thought that once she learned that several other girls in her class were dressing as Hannah Montana, fairies, or whatever other popular girlie character, that Sweetie would start to feel left out of the crowd. I also was concerned, while at the Pumpkin Festival this weekend, that Sweetie would take on her typically dramatic and grumpy attitude when faced with people who weren't able to figure out what she was dressed as.

However, in each case? Nope! She's fine. She knows that 3 of her friends at school will be Hannah Montana at her class party. And she has another friend who'll be a fairy. But she's still giggling over the fact that she'll be the only one there dressed as butter! And as for the very few people who didn't know what she was dressed as this past weekend? She just laughed and told her Daddy - those boys thought I'm dressed as Sponge Bob and they don't know that I'm a stick of butter. They just can't see my measurements on my back. They're so silly.


Finally - Sweetie was flipping through the T.V. channels yesterday when she happened upon the PBS movie Anne of Green Gables. I stopped her and said -

Oh! Anne of Green Gables! I love this movie and the books. I think you'll really like this too, Sweetie. Anne is just like you! She's....

Why? Is she curious too?

Yes! That's what I was going to say! She's curious and smart and creative and outgoing. I think you'll really like to watch this.

But, uh..... no. Not quite. I think she gave it about 30 second's attention before deciding it wasn't for her.

Soon, though. Give her a few years. She'll absolutely eat it up!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sweetie Saturday #129 - Pumpkin Fest Edition


Just in time for the Pumpkin Festival... with our pumpkins: Jake, Jackie and Gordon. :)


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Choose Your Own Post

I'm sitting here staring at the computer with absolutely nothing "bloggable" coming to mind. Sorry. I got nothin'.

I will tell you, though, that I've been thinking a lot about the upcoming holidays - not to mention a certain little Sweetie's yuletide birthday. We have some great, free, ideas on what to give her for both special occasions. But I keep coming up with other ideas too.

For instance, she's always been very "into" maps. This year I'd love to get her a globe. She's also requested a couple of toys she's seen via T.V. commercials. And, since she herself loves to read - and Hubby and I always read her bedtime stories - I'm of course coming up with lots of different titles I'd like her to have.

More books in The Magic Treehouse series (she only has the first 4). And some more chapter books for nighttime reading. I've especially been thinking about the Choose Your Own Adventure books from my childhood. Sweetie, I think, would SOOO love those! Excellent bedtime stories where she gets to be in charge of what happens.

I've Googled these books and do see that there are several titles available. But most of them seem more directed to the young male audience. Aren't there any options more appropriate for girls?

Not that Sweetie is at all what I'd call "girlie." She much prefers to play with Legos or a simple rope or empty box than to play house with her dolls. She's completely happy to spend hours working in her activity and workbooks than to dress her dollies. She loves running around outside just as much as she enjoys playing at different kids' sites on the computer. She's all about playing Super (Sweetie) or Detective (Sweetie) - never, ever Mommy or even Princess Sweetie. Ha! I can't even picture her doing that!

So, given all that, there are certainly some Choose Your Own Adventure books that would engage her imagination and sense of adventure. Stories that talk of discoveries and magical lands and mystery. Still - I keep thinking there must be more options out there.

Now it's your turn. What do you know of this? Have you read or seen any great books for small girls along the lines of Choose Your Own Adventure? Or maybe not even - just simply great stories that would engage an outgoing, creative, smart little girl such as our Sweetie? 

I'm "listening"! I've got my Super Mama Eyes all ready to read your plethora of great gifting suggestions. 

Now, get to the ideas!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Static Post... Fluid Future

Thank you, Universe/World/God, for conspiring in my favor.

Mama Monday #45.1

Theme: Learn

As I'm going through this job hunting experience, I'm still surprised by how much I continue learning. I feel I still haven't "learned my lesson" in so many different situations. 

I still find myself "slacking off" a bit on the hunt when a potentially promising opportunity pops up. Only to have that scenario not pan out, and now I've lost a week or so of serious searching and applying time.

I still know that I sometimes speak too soon. For instance, when I feel quite certain that a certain potential employer will surely be contacting me for an interview. And then they don't. Or they take longer to get in touch with me than I initially announced they would. 

This is my situation today. I had a brief phone interview with a company early last week, at the end of which I was told I'd hear from them soon to schedule an in-office interview. By Thursday afternoon I still hadn't heard anything, so I emailed my contact to inquire. She assured me I'd be hearing from her the next day to schedule something. Then I didn't get that Friday call or email. I told people I would. I didn't. I wonder if I'll hear from them today.

However, things are still on an upswing for me. I'm happy to announce that I am now employed with two different tutoring companies. One is Brainfuse - an online tutoring company. The other is a local branch of Club Z! In Home Tutoring. For Club Z! I will soon be able to tutor children in their schools, after school hours, who need help through the No Child Left Behind program. 

Neither company guarantees working hours. I'm employed part-time with both companies. I entered a "preferred schedule" of 25 hours/week with Brainfuse, but there's no guarantee that they will be able to regularly match what I prefer to what they need. And according to the Club Z! director, there's no end of NCLB children who need regular help. So I assume I'll be able to match up regularly with a number of students each week. But again - I'm still learning that to assume can end in very disappointing results.

Theoretically, through my work with both companies, I could potentially earn what I need to contribute to my family financially each week. But that depends on a good amount of "ifs" being successfully fulfilled. Plus, there's no guarantee when the tutoring jobs will begin to come in. Brainfuse tells me it could take up to  3+ weeks before they match a schedule for me to their students' needs. As for Club Z!, I'll be attending a meeting later this week that will prepare me to tutor the NCLB kids. Still - not all the area schools have their NCLB programs set up for the year. Most, I hear, get things started sometime in November. Some random districts may already be up and running, but I'm not sure which ones. I need to keep my driving distances in check with Club Z! - I don't want to be driving all over the state if I don't have to.

So, yes - I am employed. But, truth be told, it's a bit of an anticlimax. Not because of what I'll be doing - I've tutored off and on for over 15 years and absolutely love it! But because it's with 2 companies part time instead of 1 company full time. So no insurance benefits for me or my family. Not that we absolutely NEED those benefits, since we all are insured with 3 separate plans. But they're not the greatest plans in each case. Ideally, a full time job with proper benefits is what I still seek and still need.

On the other hand, like I said, I really do love tutoring. And the schedule I'll potentially have, even considering it's 2 different companies, will still work very nicely for me in terms of being here for Sweetie and taking care of her needs. I'm also scheduled to take my Praxis II exams in less than a month. Once I pass that, I will be that much more qualified to apply for any number of future teaching and/or tutoring positions. Yes, things are definitely looking up!

I'm still learning. And I'll soon be helping struggling kids to become better learners. There's nothing better, to me, than working one-on-one with students who are struggling or just don't care - helping them to look at subjects with a whole new view. A clearer view. A more meaningful view. A view to their future, where they are taking control of their accomplishments through the knowledge they gain via their studies. 

This is the path I'm meant to be on. All is good. That much, I know. Always learning, always teaching - I love it so. This feels right. Thank you, Universe, for conspiring in my favor to get me to this place.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sweetie Saturday #128 - The Final Edition


Hi. My name is Sweetie. I'm 5 years old and I drew this picture the other day at school, not today. When I was wearing these clothes. Which I'm not wearing today. Mama says she knows exactly what shirt I was wearing that day, cuz she can tell by my great drawing. I did a great job! Plus Daddy's really impressed with all the colors I used. I guess I usually just like to pick one color and only use that in my drawings. 

Mama says she's not going to write Sweetie Saturdays anymore. Unless I say something that's really very funny, that is. Then she'll write it down so she remembers it in time to write it here for everyone to read. 

I did something funny this week, but I didn't say anything funny, I guess. But I don't think what I did was funny, but Mama and Nana really thought it was funny! I fell backwards into a bird bath at my Nana's house. And then I decided that I had to take off all my clothes right that minute because I don't like spills! I was crying and very sad and angry. But Mama and Nana were laughing a lot. My 18 year old cousin, who's a boy, was there too (we were getting ready to play baseball together) and either thought it was very funny or was very concerned that I was naked in Nana's backyard - I couldn't tell. I was too upset.

I'll try to come up with some funny things to say soon. I'm a clever kid, so it shouldn't be too hard to do. Anyway, I'm dressing up next weekend in my butter costume, so I'm sure Mama will post some funny pictures of that! 

Have a great weekend, everyone! I gotta go play Super (Sweetie) now!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Greater Good

I've recently discovered a new quarterly magazine - Greater Good - that seems to be so very in-step with my beliefs and values. The magazine strives to connect science with the roots of compassion and altruism, relating research, articles and stories of compassionate action to its readers in an inspiring and educational format. Hubby and I are both looking forward to regularly receiving and reading this wonderful new publication.

Not to belabor the point (and since this is only the second time I'm bring it up, I hardly consider it "belaboring" anyway), but I wanted to talk again about how much we're enjoying our new church - and how clearly I see the greater good playing out through the church's actions, beliefs and community.

We've been going to this church for a month now (save for one week where we had previous plans) and are quite used to our new Sunday morning routine. Sweetie continues to look forward to and have fun at her "church school" and Hubby and I feel very welcome and comfortable among the many friendly members.

The sermons are inspiring, informational, even sometimes humorous in nature. Always different, always interesting. 

The songs are beautiful, uplifting, joyful and fun. Last week we sang Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee. Ode To Joy is my most favorite piece of classical music, so that was a real treat for me. This week we sang This Little Light of Mine. Such a simple, wonderful song that Sweetie recognized, could easily read along with and sing!

I love how Sweetie stands on the pew between Hubby and I, puts her arms around each of our shoulders/necks, and tries to follow along with the words of the songs in the hymnal. She does pretty well, softly sings along, and never gets frustrated by not being able to keep up with everyone else. 

I love how there's always a story for the kids - where the children of the congregation get to go up to the altar area to gather 'round to listen - about a 1/2 hour into the service. Then we all "sing the children out" to go off to their various Circles. Sweetie eagerly skips off to the Kindergarten Circle where they listen to a story, do crafts, have a snack, and talk about things like dreams, friends and family. 

I love how each sermon feels more like a lesson in humanity, compassion and respect rather than strictly religious rites and doctrine. Respect, compassion, acceptance and community are key components of the church's teaching. We learn, from week to week, little bits of knowledge from all different customs and cultures - yet each always come back to these same basic principles.

I love that Sweetie's Circle usually seems to end a few minutes after our service ends - encouraging Hubby and I to partake in the coffee hour in the community room downstairs. Since Hubby and I are usually so quiet, we'd not be terribly likely to strike up a conversation with other church members of our own accord. But now that we've done that, while waiting for Sweetie, we've had the pleasure of meeting some really personable people and look forward each week to seeing them again.

I love the church itself - a beautiful stone building close to the town's main square. The rooms are each named for prominent Unitarian Universalists of the past - Henry David Thoreau, Loisa May Alcott and P.T. Barnum to name just a few. Some of these historical figures' framed pictures adorn the walls as well.

And I love arriving home from church, asking Sweetie what she did and/or learned during her Circle time, then having Sweetie ask me - "And what did you and Daddy learn in your church class this week, Mama?" This past week's sermon happened to discuss Faith and Politics - specifically, how to reckon being fellow church members and friends with others who may or may not support the same presidential candidate or political party as yourself. So I was happy to get a chance to explain this to Sweetie in terms she'd understand - that it's important to realize you can still get along with and be friends with someone who feels differently than you do about certain things. It's important to respect others' opinions and ideas while still holding on to your own beliefs. Everyone is different and that's okay. In fact, it's encouraged!

I love learning what Sweetie's doing in her Circle time. She knows at least part of the usual greeting each child (and attending adult) extends to each other every week. She loves that her picture is now hanging on the room's wall with those of her peers. And she's making friends with the other kids, enjoying sharing time together and having fun.

Hubby and I are both happy to expose her to as much social interaction among kids her age as she can get. The more practice she gets at being part of a sharing group, the better!

I am actually saddened that we'll not be attending church this coming Sunday. I go to my book club's meeting approximately once a month - something I of course previously recognized and felt fine in maintaining, thus foregoing one trip to church every so often. But according to this past week's church bulletin, I see that this next sermon is dedicated to the children of the church and will focus on special issues just for them. In this case, I imagine children won't be going off to their Circles but will stay for the entire service. Knowing we'll be missing this special gathering disappoints me. Almost makes me want to ditch book club. But I won't - because I know book club is actually going to be something special this month as well (a call-in from the author of the book we've just read. Very exciting!).

Hubby and Sweetie could still go on their own, but I'm rather confident they won't. Not because Hubby only agrees to go to church because of my wishes. He's liking church just as much as I am. But more so because I know Hubby also enjoys his Sunday mornings at home, where he gets to chill out, get up a little bit later, watch Sunday Morning, and relax a bit. Especially with Sweetie. It will be nice for the two of them to have a Daddy and Sweetie morning at home. 

But there's also a couple gatherings after church this weekend - one in the early afternoon and one in the evening. One to discuss the future of the church and where/how we want to focus our energies, monies, etc. And one to welcome newcomers. We three will definitely attend the newcomers' gathering. And - depending on when I get home from book club - we may also be able to attend the other meeting as well. It would be nice to be a part of some decision-making. We'll see what we can do.

At any rate - we are happy to be among some great, like-minded, open-minded people. We feel like we are connecting more with each other, with our own selves, and with our community. We are happy that Sweetie is getting social, cultural and spiritual exposure - vast exposure to so many different ideas and beliefs. She will become an even more accepting and open human being than she already is. 

We all will. Continuing on our unique paths to fulfilling our Greater Good - helping, as individuals within a larger community, to make ourselves and our world a greater place to be.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Mama Monday #44.1

Theme: Swing


This past weekend was breathtakingly gorgeous here in New England. Crystal clear blue skies, not too cold or too hot. Surrounded by good friends and loving family. Time enough to relax and enjoy it all. Just perfect.

After a tumultuous week of dealing with Sweetie's less-than-desirable school behavior (and wondering how the week ahead will play out), it sure was nice to swing the pendulum the other way for awhile - letting us all get a chance to play, be free, and appreciate the greatness in us all.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Sweetie Saturday #127 - Super (Sweetie) Edition

Have I told you?! Sweetie has made some great discoveries over the last 2 weeks or so. She now knows how to whistle, snap her fingers and zip her coat all by herself. She's very proud of her new abilities. What a big girl!

And even though this week started off rather iffy with her school/recess listening skills in need of much improvement, it seems that now - with the help of Sweetie's alter-ego, Super (Sweetie) - that even that is happening.

Now, Sweetie knows that as soon as she hears that end-of-recess whistle, that's the call for Super (Sweetie) to make her appearance, collect her backpack, and get herself to the line as soon as possible.

Does that sound like a good plan, Sweetie?

Yeah! But first, when I hear the whistle, I'll have to sing my song that turns me into Super (Sweetie)... Who's the Braviest, the Saviest, the Waviest?!... Super (Sweetie)!

You betcha! But you'll have to sing that at the same time that you're going to get your backpack and linng up, not before. Because stopping to sing will only slow you down.

Okay. I'll sing while I do the other things.


So (knock on wood) this seems to be working -  for the couple of days we've employed it, anyway. Each morning I remind Sweetie to be a Super (Sweetie) and put on her Super Ears and Eyes so she's aware of when that recess whistle blows.

Hopefully this is the answer we've needed to help Sweetie through this glitch. Thanks to my mom for suggesting it in the first place - helping me find a way to get Sweetie to follow the rules, not get herself in trouble, yet still keep her love of life and creativity alive.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Looking at the Bright Side

Today, as I continue to try to convince myself that, if Sweetie's biggest school-related issues revolve around recess likes and dislikes, than we're/she's doing okay - I will focus my writing on something really GREAT about Sweetie.

Sweetie loves words. Reading, being read to, learning about (and using) puns and expressions, word games and puzzles, you name it. Sweetie is a little wordsmith.

The other night she woke up sobbing at 10:30 p.m. from a nightmare. Hubby and I tried to console her and finally got her back in bed, only for her to come running to us shortly thereafter because she still couldn't stop thinking about the bad thing.

Then I got an idea.

I know, Sweetie. Why don't you come up with me to my bed. I'll do a crossword puzzle in my book and you can watch. Would that make you feel better?

Her face lit up! Yes! That's a great idea, Mama. Good thinking.

I know Sweetie has loved cuddling in bed with me on the occasional morning she catches me awake before either of us is "supposed to" be up. She snuggles in and rests her head on my shoulder as she silently watches me solve my puzzles. Recognizing words along the way that she knows, silently sounding out other more challenging words, or simply watching as I fill in all the empty spaces with letters that, in the end, make one united board. She is fascinated.

After she watched me do just one puzzle the other night, she felt much better and calmer. She and I came to a resolution about how she could stop thinking about her bad thoughts. And she went off to bed for the rest of the night. No problem at all.

Sweetie - much like her father, Uncle Rob, and other scattered family members - is quite the punster. Every day there are at least a few things she says that she follows up with, "Get it? I said _____ but I meant _____." She also loves to employ various expressions she's learned. I think she's fascinated how certain combinations of words literally sound like they should mean one thing, but they really mean another.

Sweetie was at my parents' house after school this Monday. When I went to pick her up, she had a couple of new (old) books to bring home with her. Both were books from my childhood (one was from when my mom was a little girl!), and one of the two Sweetie especially loves - The King Who Rained. This  happened to be one of my favorite childhood books as well. The play on words throughout the text, accompanied by the funny pictures, is really a treat for anyone. Especially our curious little girl who is learning so much about the various ways words can be used to express lots of different things.

Speaking of books, Sweetie always wants to read - mostly she wants to read to us. Her most favorite books these days are Fancy Nancy's Favorite Fancy Words and The Alphabet From A to Y with Bonus Letter Z. Both of these books are filled with long, complicated words that - I can tell - Sweetie is oh so proud to be able to read herself. She also likes her growing collection of Eloise books. Those books are a real chore to read aloud, because little Eloise sure does love to talk! No such thing as economy of words for that one, let me tell ya. Must be why Sweetie can relate so much - she can't economize her language either!

Sweetie also is becoming quite the Scrabble player. She and I can actually sit down and play a real game of Scrabble with each other (no scoring going on, though - no need to worry about placing your words in the most points-worthy spaces quite yet), without my having to help her make words with her tiles. She also enjoys watching me play games like Text Twirl and Word Twist on Facebook - games, like Scrabble, where you're given a number of scrambled letters to unscramble into as many different words as you can. She's often been able to point out words to me that I can make that I didn't see on my own.

Another thing Sweetie often asks me to do is to "quiz" her by placing down 4 or 5 Quiddler cards in front of her for her to make into a proper word (I, of course, always pick out cards I know can all be used to make one word). 

Sweetie is a natural lover of learning. At Nana's house you are most likely to find her at the table, working in one of several workbooks she has there. In fact, there have been a number of times when I drop her off there, leave for a few hours, and return - only to find her in the exact same seat she was in when I left, still working on more and more activity pages.

As Hubby and I are both active readers - as well as being curious people who are always interested in learning new things - we are, of course, ecstatic to see these same traits rubbing off on Sweetie. She's going to do well throughout her educational career, we have no doubt of that. She has already set herself a firm foundation for her future academic successes.

At the beginning of this school year, I had to fill out paperwork on Sweetie for her teacher, including information about Sweetie's strengths and weaknesses. I had to think a minute, as I realized that - for Sweetie - many of her traits could be put in both groups.

Strengths - very smart, loves to read, very outgoing, independent, imaginative, curious.

Weaknesses - stubborn, likes to play by her own made up rules, talks too much, overly dramatic, her ears are often "closed", bossy.

Today, as I'm preparing to pick Sweetie up from school - anxious to find out how she's handled her second day of consequences for not opening her ears or obeying her teacher's playground rules - I'm paying tribute to the great things about my sweet Sweetie. She's smart, she's a good "figurer-outerer", she's independent and creative. I'm sure she'll quickly realize how she can help herself create her own preferred outcomes and play by the established rules all at the same time. 

She's a smart one, that girl. She'll be okay.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Mama Monday #43.1

Theme: Harvest

Happy October! This week will see Hubby and my 9th wedding anniversary. We married during the most beautiful part of the year in New Hampshire - the trees red, orange and golden, blowing in the crisp autumn air.

We honeymooned in California, some of the time in the Napa Valley, during harvest time. Wineries bringing in their grapes to begin their major wine production for the year. As novices, at the time, in our ever increasing appreciation for wine, it really was the perfect time of year to visit the region and learn about the labor and love intensive wine making process.

This past weekend several of our friends attended Fall Harvest at some of our own NH wineries. Had we realized the timing, we would have loved to have gone as well.

Instead, we stayed home (mostly) and did some of our own harvesting...


Yummy carrots, scallions and tomatoes. From our own yard. Really - you can't get any better than that.

Happy harvest time, everyone. Appreciate all that you have sown.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Sunday Sundries

As I've recently mentioned, I've been fortunate enough to have visited the beautiful country of France. April in Paris was magical, and the week before, spent on the northern coast of Brittany (just west of Mt. St. Michel - a place I'd previously only dreamed of visiting) was amazing... like stepping back in time. 

Ever since, Hubby and I have promised each other that we will return, now along with Sweetie. But this time, I want to make it a longer trip combined with some time spent in Britain. As a true lover of all things literary - especially Victorian English literature - I would so love to do a Literary Tour of Great Britain. That, for me, is my current dream vacation.

But until the time comes when we can afford such a world wind trip (IF we could ever afford it, that is), I'll have to settle for surfing the 'net for all sorts of British fair. Hey, maybe I could trick myself into believing I'm a real Londoner if I "shop" around their stores and (at least in my mind) fill my home with English treasures and lovely finds.

LOMBOK home furnishings is just the right site to bring my dreams alive. Looking at their wide range of Eastern inspired items, I can't help but image spending misty English mornings snuggled up in my luxuriously cozy bed, one of their gorgeously plush throws wrapped around my shoulders as I glance toward my bookcase (chosen from among the many they offer in their large collection of bookcases) to decide which classic British novel I'll dive into. Dickens? Hardy? I love them all. Then, with the weather dreary yet romantic - rain tapping at my window - I'll light some candles, beautifully displayed in one of many candle holders I've purchased, to brighten my room and warm my soul. I know it will be a perfect day.

......Huh?.... Oh!... Sorry about that. See? I told you their site washes me away to a whole different place. LOMBOK's has everything from the grandest of furniture to the quaintest of tiny home accessories. Whether you are in the market for a four poster bed or some simply elegant coasters, you'll be able to easily find it - at great prices! - all right there at LOMBOK's.

If you happen to be reading this post from Great Britain, perhaps you've had the pleasure of visiting one of LOMBOK's many stores in the area. They've got 19 locations throughout the country - 10 within London alone! 

But even if you're reading me stateside or beyond - you can still indulge in a trinket or two for yourself. Now through October 8th, LOMBOK's is offering free shipping on all their stock. Everything! Hey - for a practical girl like myself (a girl who will spend for true beauty and quality when it's found) - you just can't beat a deal like that. Especially overseas! The savings right there is so worth it!

So do yourself a favor and check out the LOMBOK's website. Grab yourself a cuppa Earl Grey tea, and dream a little dream of England. Welcome some unique treasures into your home. Make your surroundings beautiful.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Sweetie Saturday #126 - Adaptable Edition

So - Sweetie's been doing pretty well with this whole "adapting" thing we've explained to her. I've heard myself tell her "That's not a toy - stop playing with it" (in regards to small pieces of furniture, blankets, kids scissors, etc...) much more often this week than I have brought up the whole "adapt" thing. Still - there have been a number of instances over the last several days where "adaptation" was a big deal...

Last weekend we had 2 kids birthday parties to attend - one for Sweetie's friend on Saturday, then the other for our young niece on Sunday. 

First the friend's glow bowling party - It was really cool! A ton of fun and Sweetie completely loved it. She can't wait to go back!

However, after the bowling and during the pizza-and-cake-eating party time, Sweetie was the only kid there (and it was a large gathering) who complained about her attached-to-the-table-seat not being able to scoot in closer, about not having a fork to eat her pizza with, about not seeing where the napkins were, and about wanting to use a straw (that was not readily available) so that her lips didn't get wet when she drank her juice. Of course my ears could have certainly been tuned out to the other kids, but - seriously - Sweetie was the big whiner of the day. 

But at least Hubby and I were a united front. We both kept repeating to Sweetie that she needed to "adapt". And in the end, for the most part, she was pretty dang good. Her one word cue to chill out seemed to at least tone down her problematic view of the world.


The next day, on the way to our niece's party, we reminded Sweetie that her cousins had 2 big dogs at their house. We don't have dogs, so Sweetie is not entirely comfortable around them. But we reminded her to be calm around them, let them sniff and greet her, and after a little while they'll leave her alone.

The more you freak and and run around, the more excited they'll get and they'll never leave you be. You must adapt.

So we got there and within 2 minutes, Sweetie was asking where the dogs were (they had been put in a separate part of the house while the party was going on). Somebody took Sweetie's question for actual interest/disappointment in not being able to see and play with them. So I explained that their not being around was actually good, because Sweetie isn't very comfortable around them - but that we had been talking about how to behave around the dogs, so that's why she was asking.

Then Sweetie added in...

Yeah. I wanted to adapt with them.

(She was then taken to see them and, apparently, did just fine. I heard no problems about it, anyway).


Sweetie and I had to go to the hardware store the other day to buy some new light bulbs for our multi-armed living room lamp. Once there, I asked a store employee for help in finding the type of bulb I needed. He found them, letting me know that each bulb came with an adaptor to fit into a different sized socket if need be.

This immediately caught Sweetie's attention.

Mama! He said "adapt"!

Yes he did.

I'd say we've got that girl's ear finely tuned...


All week long, as Sweetie and I wait in the school drop off line of cars, I remind her that she needs to behave, listen to her teachers, not be bossy and not be grumpy. I don't want to pick up a grumpy girl. 

You need to adapt.

I know. I already did that.

No. You learn to adapt everyday. There's always something new to get used to and adapt to. It's not something you do only once.

Oh. I didn't know that. Okay.

And so far, so good. Twice this week she was grumpy at pick up time, both times about recess (of course). But a stern reminder of what she needs to do and how she needs to adapt to the situation worked pretty well to quickly change her attitude for the better.


(FYI - come back tomorrow for a new post - a review of a cool website I've discovered. Reviews likes this may very well become a regular Sunday feature. Maybe. I'm just sayin'...)

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Finding Me, No?

Uhhh.... have you noticed lately?..... This blog has become one huge "Amy Becomes One With Herself" monologue? Yeah... It's cool, though. I'm discovering more and more about myself everyday.

(I guess that's what happens when your kid goes off to school, your husband off to work, and you're left to ponder your belly button all by yourself - just you, your cats, and the insurmountable job postings/house cleaning/Praxis studying/Christmas gift making responsibilities staring you in the face that you figure can be put off for just a little while longer while you figure out just exactly what you are destined to be doing in this exact moment in this exact location in the universe.)

I used to be a very wishy washy person, and I do mean that in a very wishy washy way. I couldn't make up my mind about anything. I couldn't choose which side of any argument to come down on - whether important or not. I never felt like I had anything to add to most conversations because I didn't feel well informed enough about what was being said to be able to intelligently contribute anything. And because of all this, I felt less than. Insignificant. Not smart enough or concerned enough or informed enough to actively participate on so many levels.  I felt like an outsider looking in at all the cool kids who obviously were so much more exciting and worldly than myself. 

Today - I still do not always feel very well informed, especially on national or international topics such as politics, finances, business or what have you. I am still one of the quieter members of my family on both my side and Hubby's.

But I am now occasionally able to speak up with something funny, smart, thought provoking, or simply with my personal opinion(s) on whatever topic is at hand. I am able to think more clearly for myself these days. And I'm able to generally share my opinions without feeling like I'm permanently damaging my relationship(s) with friends or family who I know have different ideas than my own.

Yet I still do carry a bit of that "outsider" feeling. But, more and more, I'm not so much minding being seemingly "left out". Because I'm realizing more and more how much I don't want to be - or have never been - like the supposed "cool kids". That's not me. And that's okay. I'm still cool in my own right.

I am not a shopper or a partier. I was trying to remember the last piece of clothing I bought myself and I think it was a skirt I purchased while Hubby and I were on our cruise. Three years ago, wasn't it?

I do like to go out to nice restaurants every once in awhile. But with just Hubby or Hubby and Sweetie is my ideal. I don't need to go out with huge groups of friends or family to needlessly spend money or party at a loud and crazy location. I am a homebody. I like certain T.V. shows. I like to read. I like to do needlecrafts. I love spending time with family - immediate or extended, it's all great! But a simple gathering at someone's home where we can sprawl out and mingle amongst each other at our own pace is much preferable to me than an "outing" with events and activities to rush along to and feel overwhelmed by. Simplicity - that's my style.

I like to host and go to some parties - elegant home parties where fancy appetizers are served along with nice wines. Jazzy music playing softly in the background. With three to 5 other couples gathered to chat with, catch up with, maybe play fun party games with. Nothing crazy or that last well into the wee hours of the morning. Just a festive collection of some of my favorite friends all happily eating, drinking, talking and relaxing together.

I like certain things more than others. My favorite color is red. My favorite animal is the giraffe. I like Jack Johnson's music. I think snowmen are probably the cutest of the winter time decorations. 

But all this doesn't mean that I want my wardrobe to be solely comprised of red clothing. Or that I need to add to my giraffe collection (I have a sizable giraffe collection already, but of all that I have, I think I purchased exactly one of those giraffes for myself. And I don't feel any sort of desire for anyone - myself or others - to spend oodles of money to expand my collection just for expansion's sake. To me, that's needless spending). I'm not destined to love every single song that Jack Johnson - or Jack Johnson-like folks - ever puts out. I don't need to fill my home with more and more snowmen with each passing Christmas. 

See, I like what I like. But I like so many other things too. I don't like being put in a box. I'm not a materialistic person at all. As I've told Hubby for years, I'd much rather be gifted with experiences rather than things any day of the week. He and I haven't exchanged anniversary or Valentine's Day gifts - or cards! - for a very long time. But we do go out to dinner. Take me to the theater, give me a gift certificate for a massage, take me to eat at my favorite restaurant, or plan a family road trip during which Hubby, Sweetie and myself will all find personally thrilling activities in which to indulge. Those are my most favorite kinds of gifts. I couldn't care less if another giraffe or snowman enters this house. I'm happy when my favorite songs come on the radio - I don't necessarily need to hear the same CD over and over again. And when I do shop for clothing, I tend to buy colors I know I don't already have a ton of in my closet but that I know will go with much of what I already own. I guess this is all to say how practical I am. I do not need things just to have things. I love gifts. I appreciate true quality. But I value good memories more.

It's not my intention to have this post come off as an "I'm right, everyone else is wrong" statement. Nor to concentrate specifically on surface topics such as partying and spending. Everyone's different. Everyone has a different social comfort level. Everyone has different thoughts and feelings, not to mention abilities, for how they spend their money. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, behaviors, likes, dislikes, etc on all sorts of different things. We're all free to be you and me, after all. 

It's just that I'm happy to finally be comfortable with who I am. I no longer feel like I'm less than. I no longer feel like I have to live up to other peoples' ideals. I am confident now to realize my own standards, ideals and opinions on so many topics. They may very well be different than yours. But that's okay. In fact, that's wonderful! 

Let's talk about what each other believes, over a nice cup of coffee, perhaps. It will make for a lively discussion from which, hopefully, we both can learn and grow.