Monday, December 28, 2009


Dear Drew,

It's been five years since you came into this world, full of vim and vigor. I mean really, you were almost born without the doctor because you just couldn't wait to let everyone know you were here!

You are my little snuggle puppy. You proudly hold my hand, hug and kiss me and still want me to read to you. You love cars, trucks, construction vehicles, dogs, pirates, cats, hockey, Batman and books. Thank you for being so well rounded!

I hope you'll always remember to love your sisters, no matter how much they annoy you and wreck your block towers. I know it's hard to be the middle kid, surrounded by girls. They really do love you, even if they have a hard time showing it.

We love you so much and hope you have a wonderful 5th birthday.

Love, Mama and Daddy

December 28, 2004
December 28, 2005

December 28, 2006

December 28, 2007

December 28, 2008

(well, close enough. December 23, 2009)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I've lost that Christmas feeling

I've started to lose my Christmas cheer. Maybe it's because we've been listening to Christmas music since mid-November (yeah, not smart on my part at all). Maybe it's because the kids are bickering all damn day long and nothing I do gets them to stop. Maybe it's because to wrap Christmas presents I have to go into our frigid unfinished basement at night and quite frankly, I'm just too tired and I despise being cold. Maybe it's because Doug's Christmas vacation doesn't start until the 24th and I don't even get a vacation. Maybe it's because with all that we have to do, it stinks that Doug isn't home at all tonight as Meg has hockey and then HE has hockey and I've got kids by myself for 12 hours straight and no time to make Christmas cookies or wrap presents or even go pee without someone needing me.

But I'm going to suck it up and go about my business as I always do. There's laundry to be washed, dried and maybe even folded and possibly put away. There are snacks to be given, girls to potty train and little boys to kiss. There are books to read, a house to clean and Christmas cheer to be found. I think I'll start with some Christmas music.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Holiday Meme

I am totally stealing this from Swistle and Jess because my mind is mush from all the holiday cheer. Here goes.

Eggnog or hot chocolate? I love hot chocolate. And if I'm going to have eggnog, I have tiny little glasses of Hood Eggnog. I've never had it with the alcohol in it.

Does Santa wrap the presents or leave them open under the tree? Santa wraps presents in special Santa paper, and some gifts end up in the stockings, and then the larger gifts are placed under the tree. For the last few years Santa used the same special wrap but started to believe that Meg was going to figure that one out so switched to new wrap this year.

Colored lights on a tree or white? Ok, this a sore spot for me. I grew up with colored lights, then my parents switched to white, which I much prefer. However, Doug only likes colored lights. So, I relented with one condition~I have white lights outside. The kids like the colored lights so I can deal with it.

Do you hang mistletoe? No.

When do you put your decorations up? It has all depended on my pregnancies (I mean, really, I was pregnant at Christmas in 2000, 2004 and 2006). This year we put up our tree early, so that we've been enjoying it for almost 3 weeks now.

What is your favorite holiday dish? I don't have a favorite dish. I love Christmas cookies.

Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? We usually give the kids one gift to open on Christmas Eve (jammies) but that isn't happening this year as Meg and Drew still have their jammies from last year and quite frankly I'm behind the eight ball on this one.

How do you decorate your Christmas tree? It's a mish mash of ornaments that belong to me, Doug and the kids. We have some of the ornaments the kids have made at school, ornaments they've received, plus others that we've gotten over the years. We have a Winter Warlock at the top of our tree (that's what he totally looks like too!).

Snow: love it or hate it? Yeah, I live in Maine. I either love it or move.

Can you ice skate? You'd think being the wife of a hockey player and coach and the mother of two hockey players that I could skate, but you'd be so wrong. I lack grace. Enough said.

What is your favorite holiday dessert? Besides Christmas cookies, my mother-in-law makes a great Christmas cake (and if you want the recipe email me because it's so darn easy!).

What is your favorite holiday tradition? We like to take the kids to look at the Christmas lights around the neighborhoods. There is one neighborhood in the next town over that the neighbors must be in cahoots to compete for the biggest, loudest and brightest displays, and the kids love it.

Candy canes: yum or yuck? Yum, but within reason.

Favorite Christmas show? Charlie Brown Christmas and The Grinch (original cartoon version).

So, what about you? Want to play along?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

No, I haven't gotten into the eggnog

Christmas is just over a week away (eeek, ack, yikes!). I believe all my gifts are purchased. I haven't begun wrapping or baking. We do have our tree up and the house decorated inside and out, so kudos to us. I just started addressing my Christmas cards, which I usually have done and mailed at this point.

Instead of being on top of the whole Christmas thing, I'm in the throes of potty training. THE TWINS. Let me say that out loud again. I am potty training the twins. At Christmastime. No, I haven't gotten into the eggnog, although that sounds like a lovely thing at this point. I attempted potty training over the summer, but the girls just weren't feeling it. I decided to just let it slide instead of pushing them, because that worked out quite well with Drew. This past Saturday Doug offered them the opportunity to sit on the toilet instead of their little potties and they jumped at it. For the most part, they've done quite well with it all. I've been surprised at it all and quite proud of them.

But can I just say how absolutely exhausting it is to potty train two? It's like when I nursed them both as infants; I had to handle one first and then work with the second one. Back then, they didn't care who got fed first, but now it's sometimes a fight over who gets to pee first! While we happen to have several bathrooms in our home, it's not at all convenient to have them in separate bathrooms, so they have to learn to wait and be patient. Thank goodness for Dora Pull Ups and the fact that they girls can definitely take off their clothes by themselves!

For now we're rewarding them with stickers on a sticker chart (well, we were until I ran out of the stickers we purchased at Sesame Place over the summer. Oops.) and they LOVE that. I think as they get more adept at reading their bodies' cues, I can rely a little more on M&Ms here and there to help them out, but considering how often they're going now, I don't want little sugar junkies bouncing off the ceilings!

Oh and for good measure we picked up a second toddler bed through Craigslist last night for $10 and hopefully over Christmas break we'll be transitioning them to toddler beds. WHAT AM I THINKING? Send chocolate, rum and a padded room.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Great Holiday Bloggy Card Exchange

Meghan at AMomTwoBoys is hosting the Great Holiday Bloggy Card Exchange and it sounded like fun, so I'm joining. CAVEAT~this is my ACTUAL holiday card, so it might look familiar to those of you who know you'll be getting one. If you want to participate, head on over to see Meghan and add your blog to Mr. Linky.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house we go

(Alternate title to this post: Alzheimer's sucks~a visit to see my grandmother)

Yesterday we packed up the kids and took them to the nursing home to visit my grandmother. This may seem unremarkable to some, except that it's been TWO YEARS since I've seen my grandmother. The last time I saw her was here at my home on Thanksgiving, two years ago. On that day, her mind wasn't terribly sharp, and she repeated the same questions over and over, but she walked into my house of her own accord and had a lovely time watching the kids play and enjoying family. After that Thanksgiving, she fell and broke her hip and for awhile, we thought she'd never recover. But recover she did, and while her mind continued to fail her, her body healed.

My grandmother is the only grandmother I've ever known. We rarely saw eye to eye, but I know that she loved me and I loved her. She lacked what we would call a "filter"; she'd say things like "if you only lost a little weight, you'd be such a pretty girl" and while she meant well, those kind of words hurt. Eventually though, I learned to just take what she said with a grain of salt.

Several years ago Alzheimer's came calling. Alzheimer's is an awful disease. Alzheimer's takes the person you know and love and replaces them with someone who doesn't have any idea who you are. For a long time, she'd have moments of real clarity and be able to carry on a conversation. Now, she doesn't always know my dad (her son), rarely knows my mother and speaks in a jumbled sort of way. But let's give her credit~she will be 91 next month!

So yesterday I thought we should go visit. I arranged with my parents to have them meet us there. I had very low expectations of how the visit would go. We had prepared the kids that she's in a wheelchair now and that she might not say too much to us. I think I was preparing myself as well; I wasn't expecting her to remember me at all. But G.G.(short for grammy-great) surprised us all. She called my mother by her full name, something my mom says she never does. And when my father mentioned my name to her, she repeated it back to him with a flicker of recognition. You can better believe that I cried, a lot. She was more animated than usual, according to my parents, because of the kids being there. It was a visit that was so much more than I had hoped for and I am so glad that we went.

As we were getting back into our cars yesterday, my mom said something to me that was so true that I wished it had been said to me sooner. She told me that while she may not be the grammy (or mother) that we once knew, she is the grammy that we have. She may not know me the next time we go, but we certainly aren't going to wait so long to go visit again. I was proud of how well the kids did while we were there (of course having a 5 foot singing Santa in the lobby helped as well!), considering that only Megan remembers her G.G. at all.

Do I wish I'd gone to visit her sooner? Of course I do. It's not like I was sitting around doing nothing the last two years; taking care of four kids takes the majority of my time. That's not an excuse, just reality. I will also fully admit that a part of me, a big part, misses the old grammy and that I find it hard to see her the way she is now. That part of me wants to remember how she was the last time she was here because it reminds me of how she used to be. I wanted the kids, especially Megan, to remember her from that last visit. But yesterday's visit was good for us all. I think I did a little healing and can only hope that she knows me again the next time we go.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My Grownup Christmas List

My family has always been a Christmas list making family. We had no family nearby when I was growing up, so lists were the way to help out my grandparents and aunt. Lists helped them know us a little better since we didn't see them often enough during the year.

I'm at the point in my life that if someone asks me what I'd like for Christmas, I don't have a good answer. Don't get me wrong; there are things that I'd like to have. Some things just can't be purchased and some I need to acquire on my own. So here's my Grownup Christmas List.

1. Patience. See, can't really shop for patience. With four children, my supply of patience is rather limited. But I want more patience. I want to be able to tolerate the noise level of my house without feeling like the Grinch ("oh the noise, noise, noise, noise, NOISE!"). I want to be able to tie that knot at the end of my frazzled rope instead of falling to the ground, defeated by my own lack of patience.

2. Time for myself. I've never been good at taking time for myself and really enjoying it. There has always been that nagging in the back of my mind that I'm taking time away from my family. In all honesty, that is pretty dumb on my part since everything I do every day is for my family and I spent 99.5% of my time with them. So I'd like to do things for myself without the guilt.

3. A vacation with my husband. Doug and I haven't been alone together for more than one night in over 6 years. I don't even think we've had 24 hours alone together in over 6 years. Marriages, especially ones that include children, need TLC. We've been a part of each others lives for almost 20 years, but in the last 9, we've mostly been parents and not much of Doug and Kristin. Eventually our kids will grow up and move out and start their own lives, and it would be nice if he and I remembered why we fell in love in the first place so that we can enjoy our lives together. I don't want to wake up one day in the future and find out that the only thing we had going for us was our kids.

4. Financial stability. That pretty much speaks for itself. I think everyone I know would wish for this, especially in these unsure times. Enough said.

So there you have it. My Grownup Christmas List. What's yours?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

It's the Holiday Season!

While I was feeling under the weather, December arrived! I knew it was coming, since we'd been listening to Christmas music on the Music Choice channel on tv since mid-November, but STILL, it's December!

I love Christmas. I love putting up the lights outside (ok, I love for Doug to put up the lights because a) I don't like ladders and b) it's too damn cold for me to deal with), getting out the window clings for the kids to plaster all over the windows and doors, putting up and decorating the tree. I love to look at all the ornaments that are special to me, like my angel-in-an-egg that I made in 2nd grade, or my very special Santa who plays a white flute covered with holly that Auntie Nettie got for me many years ago. I love putting ornaments that Meg and now Drew have made at school, mostly because I remember doing that as a kid and being so proud of seeing my handiwork on our tree. I love the feel of Christmas. There is something quiet and lovely, especially at night with just the tree lights on, that is calming (our tree is not up yet so can you tell I'm yearning for the calm?).

The holiday season also brings our annual trek to see Maine State Ballet's Nutcracker. Doug and I have gone every year since 2000, but this is our last year attending. You see, we've always gone because our niece and nephew have been dancers in the Nutcracker since 2000, but Cindy graduated from high school in June and no longer performs with MSB and Nick is graduating this year, so we're heading Saturday to see his final show. This year we're bringing Drew for the first time (Meg always attends with us). It's quite the end of a era for us all, as we love getting dressed up and enjoying the gorgeous scenery, the beautiful music and of course our wonderful dancers.

And of course the holiday season brings about another change for us~the kids' birthdays. Poor Drew gets the shaft with a birthday 3 days after Christmas. Annie's and Izzie's birthday follows 2 weeks later, and then Meg's birthday is two week after the twins' birthday. I can't believe that by the end of January I'll have a 9 year old, a 5 year old and two 3 year olds. Someone hold me.

This past weekend, before I was felled by this strep throat that has me quite incapacitated, Doug and I went Christmas shopping with my parents. They needed ideas for what to get the younger kids, and we needed to shop, so it worked out quite well and we had lots of fun. We had our Christmas idea sheet (done up in Excel by my totally geeky husband) which made walking the aisles at Toys R Us so much easier. My parents got ideas for the kids, we got what we needed and we picked up gifts for my in-laws to give the kids. Other than a couple of other items, we are done Christmas shopping. It's a strange feeling to be done so early in the holiday season, but I rather enjoy it knowing that I have time to wrap the gifts this year.

I'm hoping that we stay healthy for the rest of this month (you know, after Meg and I get over strep. The kids already had the flu; what else is there? Don't answer that.) and can enjoy cookie making, tree decorating and maybe a visit with Santa just like last year. I want to revel in the fact that my eldest still believes in Santa and try to savor these little bits of childhood that go by so quickly.

Do you like the holiday season or does it stress you out? Do you like to listen to Christmas music ad nauseum like we do or does it make you crazy?

Monday, November 30, 2009

What do you write about when you have nothing to say?

I have opened up Blogger many, many times since I last posted earlier this month. I promptly closed out again because in all honesty, I don't have anything to say. My life is a constant cycle of Bill Murray's Groundhog Day. It's a lot of lather, rinse, and repeat around here. Nothing exciting happens. So what the heck do I need to write about?

I could write about how Meg and Drew are doing fantastic at hockey this season. Meg is on a team and LOVING it. She has two other girls on the team with her and they are like the Three Amigos. Earlier this month her team got to play a 5 minute game during the Portland Pirates home game. They also got to be on the ice and make a tunnel for the Pirates when they were announced. We all went and the kids had a good time. And Drew is a completely different kid on the ice this time around. He is quicker, pays more attention and seems to really be loving being out there. I've taken a zillion photos of them both on the ice.

I could write about how Izzie has turned into a mini Meg with her behavior and how much that troubles me. It troubles me because I still don't have any idea how to deal with Meg when she acts up, and that's after two different therapists, timeouts and the like, and now there is Izzie repeating Meg's behavior exactly to a T. Izzie doesn't like her food? She throws it on the floor. Izzie wants that same food back? She screams for it, then throws it on the floor when you give it back to her. Lather, rinse, repeat. I am well aware it's all about control but let me tell you, it's damn frustrating to have to deal with this with yet another child. Thank goodness I drink at mealtimes (ok, just dinner, but I think about drinking at other meals).

But instead of writing about these and other things, I've been living them and dealing with them and occasionally Tweeting about them. I'm not sure I want to keep blogging. I've missed the interaction with people, and Facebook and Twitter don't really do it all for me, but I'm not sure I've missed blogging. I may have to try it out again to see. I don't know if it will change how I feel about but I guess it can't hurt to try.

Monday, November 2, 2009


Halloween was so much fun for the kids this year, despite a very early (and very busy) day for the two older kids with hockey practices. They ALL got to work on their pumpkins and this was the first year that Annie and Izzie got to trick-or-treat. It was unseasonably warm here and while everyone else was comfortable in their costumes, Izzie got a little overheated, poor thing. We went to a neighborhood that some of our kids' friends live in and it was CROWDED! And DARK (no street lights at all)! But we saw friends, got some candy and had a really great time. Meg was Hermoine Granger, Drew was Captain Jack Sparrow (the early years!), Annie was Abby Cadabby and Izzie was of course, Elmo.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fall fun in photos

Saturday after Meg and Drew had hockey (oh yes, it's THAT time of year again) we went on a quest for pumpkins. I was hoping to find a pumpkin patch to avoid going to Pumpkin Land but even in the middle of farm country there were no pumpkin patches to be found. So we ended up at Pumpkin Land. It has moved from its previous location since we went two years ago and I was pleasantly surprised. The new location is bigger, so even though there were a gazillion people there on a gorgeous, mild Saturday afternoon, it didn't feel that crowded.

Before I post the photos, let me tell you about Izzie and her little photo spread. Izzie LOVES lambs and sheep. She sleeps with two pink "shaky" lambies, one of which is a little more loved than the other (so thank goodness she has two). She cries when she sees a sheep in a book. Her addiction is a bit much, but she's 2 1/2 so we'll just go with it. Annie and I came upon the sheep first in the barn, and she immediately whirled around and asked "where Izzie?" She KNEW that we had to get Izzie into the barn to see the sheep. You'll see why as you scroll down.

(I love this silo)
(I know it's blurry but she's so happy!)
(Yup, she KISSED it!)
(We rode a tractor pulled wagon down to the pumpkin patch)

My photos are unedited. If I had a good few hours, I'd upload them to my editing program, Memory Manager (it's a Creative Memories program) and really heighten the colors.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Let's talk about money, shall we?

You won't often see me write about money on this blog. Especially my money. We are a one income family, originally by choice/necessity due to daycare costs, and we have to be careful with what we spend our money on. We are also a large family, which means that our expenses are on the high side. We don't eat out much, we buy in bulk to save in the long run and we ask our families to help with the big expenses for the kids like hockey (thank you grandparents!!!). We are working hard to pay down debt; I am still paying on law school loans and will be for some time. Having to pay mortgages on two homes for 2 years did not help our financial situation and set us back. But we're trying to get out from under our debt.

I can't say that we were always financially savvy. We are quite guilty of using the equity in our home to consolidate debt, thinking that we were doing the right thing by paying off higher rate credit cards (hence why we had to sell our house for such a loss this year; owed more to the bank than the home was worth). We've consolidated several credit cards into a single credit card at a lower rate, which was supposed to stop the flow of money out of our bank account. We try to pay more to our higher rate card each month, but that isn't always possible. Our kids need clothes, food and shelter and those things cost money.

So imagine my horror yesterday when I got a letter from one of our credit card companies (Citibank) yesterday telling us that our nice, low interest rate was going up to 29.99% effective November 30th. TWENTY NINE POINT NINE NINE PERCENT! Of course this is our card with the highest balance, by far. Now of course under the new federal regulations Citibank is required to allow us to opt-out of this rate change. What their letter doesn't tell us, but what I know from doing my research, is that 1) if you opt-out, you have to pay your balance in full within 5 years, 2)when you opt-out and your card is canceled, it can effect your credit score (go here if you want to read the article).

I'm pissed. I'm pissed because we made stupid money mistakes. I'm pissed because as we're trying to get things right financially, the credit card companies are making it HARDER for us. I've done my calculations and I know what it will take to pay off our card in five years. It's more than we're currently paying for our minimum payment, which then puts us further in the hole instead of gaining any ground. Someone needs to explain to me how we can get out of the recession if people can't get out of debt because the credit card companies are putting the screws to us.

I am well aware that if we we were a two income family, I might not be writing this post. At the time I decide to retire from the practice of law five years ago, the cost of putting two kids into daycare was almost as much as my weekly salary. Add in my work costs (gas, clothes, travel, etc) and I wasn't going to have much of a paycheck left. We've talked about me trying to go back to work (NOT in the practice of law thank you very much), and quite frankly, it isn't a scenario that works for us right now with so many small children at home and this economy.

I know we've made our bed (financially speaking) and have to lie in it. But I also know that we are trying hard to rectify our past money mistakes and that having the credit card companies raise our rates isn't helping. We're trying to take steps forward and they are pulling us back. Is that the new American way? Quite frankly, it sucks.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Smiling through the gray

It's a gray, gloomy day here in Maine, so I started thinking about the things that make me smile through the gray:

  • I love the twins in footy pajamas. I dug them out the other night because it's gotten COLD and they don't sleep under their blankets very well. They just look so warm and snug.
  • I love watching the kids color. We have a ton of coloring books and the kids just pull them out, grab our outrageously large bucket of crayons and go to town.
  • I love seeing the kids with books. Meg just finished reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Drew has stacks of books beside his bed and the girls are constantly sitting down with books. We got out our Halloween books the other day and I've just been reading them over and over to them (my favorite is Angelina's Halloween, but the kids like Ten Trick or Treaters best).
  • Coffee. What's not to love about coffee? Granted, a coffee delivery service as AndreAnna is often pining for would be great, but I'll take it hot and fresh from the pot each day.
  • Fall weather. Despite today's rain and bone chilling cold, I love fall. I love the changing colors around our house. Doug put up dried cornstalks from our garden on the posts on either side of front steps this weekend and now all we need are pots of mums and some pumpkins to finish the look.
  • Warmer clothes. Socks, sweaters, slippers all make me very happy.

So, indulge me. What is making you smile today?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Yes, Big Families CAN Go Out to Dinner

We don't often go out to dinner as a family. The main reason we don't go out is we're a family of 6~dining out is expensive for us. While I've heard rumblings that the economy is improving, the State of Maine is always last to experience such joys. We may get the first sunrise, but we always get the last of everything else. If we do go out, we stick to restaurants that we know won't break the bank, are places that the kids like to eat (obviously) and aren't just fast food. I mean, I can make mac and cheese and cheese quesadillas for a LOT less than it would cost at a restaurant.

With that said, we do take the kids out as special treats at times. Saturday we told the kids that if they cleaned their rooms with minimal fuss, we'd take them out for Mexican. We are not above bribing our kids with food for a change of scenery for us all (oh, and of course food we don't have to prepare and dishes someone else cleans up). We got to our favorite place and the wait was literally 2 minutes. If that's not a sign of the economy, I don't know what is (sometimes the wait there is 30 minutes). Anyway, as we were brought to our table, I was listening to another patron count how many kids we have. I'm sure we look like an armada coming into the restaurant, but the kids were being very well behaved. And they remained well behaved for our entire meal. Only Drew couldn't sit still in his seat; he was fascinated with a table of older boys seated behind us and kept turning to watch them. Other than that, no one yelled, spilled their drinks, threw food or any other tantrum that we often see at home. I was quite proud of them.

We get that "look" a lot when we go out to eat. That look of disdain from people, especially older people, that we've brought our kids out to eat. Last I checked, there wasn't a law against a big family eating out. If our children do have a bad behavior moment, they are removed from the table and brought to a quieter area to calm the heck down. But those moments are rare; for the most part, they're thrilled to be out somewhere else to eat and try hard to be on their best behavior. I'm not sure why people feel the need to judge. I suppose we all judge someone else at some point in time, but it really annoys me that people do that to my kids. We may be a big family, but we do have manners and they are expected to be used in public (at home, well, that's a post for another day). So to those to give us the "look"~buzz off. Big families can, and will, go out to eat.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Saturday Doug and I traveled down to Boston. It was a gorgeous day, similar to our wedding day exactly eleven years earlier. Again, we were dressed in finery, off to celebrate another union. The union of my brother Eric and his new bride Alyssa.

Eric and Alyssa said their "I Dos" twice; once in August, surrounded by my parents and her parents, and then again earlier this month in Paris. Saturday night was the family and friend gathering at Mistral and it was such a lovely time. I got to meet all her family, some of whom I'm friends with on Facebook but hadn't met in person. I got to hear how much her family adores my brother. And I got to remind people how happy I am that Eric has Alyssa in his life.

It was a great night. We got to celebrate our anniversary while celebrating their wedding. Eric and Alyssa are just so perfect for each other and we're so happy she's part of our family.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Change of Heart

I started writing a post yesterday about my failings as a mother. About how no matter what I do, my kids don't listen to a damn thing I say. About how the kids fight me every.step.of.the.way all day long. About how I feel like I'm failing my kids by not setting rules that they can actually follow. Or some such drivel.

Then I got this on Twitter:

MicheleDan@kristins4kids Remember--none of us are perfect parents. Think how hard it would be on our kids if we were. We just have to be good enough

Monday, September 14, 2009

All Aboard the Bullet Train

Um, so it's been a couple of weeks since I blogged. Whoops. So, hop aboard the bullet train if you'd like to play catch up.

  • Meg is loving third grade. The homework is too easy for her right now so I'm hoping things pick up in that department here post haste. We haven't gotten a single newsletter home from the teacher which is a letdown after last year's teacher sending us DAILY emails with PHOTOS!
  • Drew started his last year of preschool last week (i.e. his THIRD year) and is really happy for the first time since he started there. He goes an extra day this year, and stays for lunch there each day. This year is all about kindergarten preparation. He's such a big boy (you know, except for the constant tantrums and lack of listening ears at home).

  • I went back to the spine doctor earlier this month. In a nutshell, my discs are going to continue to deteriorate and my herniated disc will always be herniated, but if I'm not in pain then I don't have to see her or go to PT. I haven't been on any pain meds for a month so the Prednisone did the trick. I think I can live with that.
  • The twins are on a nap boycott. To say that this sucks is an understatement. Izzie threw herself out of her crib AGAIN yesterday but at least she didn't break her collar bone again. Drew's new school schedule is a contributing factor as we're picking him up when they're usually going down for a nap, but even this weekend was the same~no nap. I may be turning to drinking earlier in the day if this keeps up.
  • Apparently H1N1 (aka the Swine Flu) is going through Megan's classroom. I say apparently because there's been no official word from the school and it's all hearsay from kids in the class, but not from my own child. All of my kids have stuffy noses at the present time and I'm watching them like a crazy person for any sign of a fever.
  • Doug and I are heading to Boston next Saturday to celebrate my brother's wedding. It will be fun to see him and his wife, as they've been in PARIS since September 1st. It's also our 11th anniversary that day so what a fun way to celebrate.
  • Fall is almost here. The leaves are beginning to change, and the twins and I are going apple picking with Drew's preschool on Friday. I can't say I'm sorry for this summer to get on out the door. It really wasn't one of our best.
What's new with everyone else? I've been trying to read blogs but commenting has gone out the window these days. Usually the kids are trying to kill each other when I'm trying to read, making coherent comments a thing of the past. I'll get back to everyone soon, I promise!

Monday, August 31, 2009


Somehow I survived a very long summer with four kids, a herniated disc and either torrential downpours or overwhelming heat and humidity.

Somehow I managed to smile most days, read some books, do eleventy bazillion loads of laundry and weed my garden.

Somehow we survived a long trip to Pennsylvania and awesome visits with friends.

Somehow I woke up this morning and realized that my little girl was going to third grade today and I was both thrilled and terrified at the prospect.

Somehow knowing all this means it's all going to be ok.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I am not a huge fan of "winging it". That doesn't mean that I don't do it, but rather that given the choice, I'd like to be well prepared for just about anything. Some days I'll take just being slightly prepared, but you get what I mean. I like knowing where I am supposed to be, when I'm supposed to be there, and what I need to bring with me. I'm not a Type A personality for nothing!

I haven't really spoken about my health issues since I was diagnosed a couple of weeks ago. Along with one herniated disc and two other angry discs, the official diagnosis is arthritis in my neck. My cervical spine is straight instead of curved. I have spent almost the entire last month on some sort of medicine~muscle relaxants, seriously strong pain meds, and finally steroids~in hopes that I'll feel better. I do feel better. But here's the thing~today is the first day since July 27th that I haven't taken any sort of medicine. I took my last steroid yesterday. I have no idea how long the effects of it will last and how I'll feel when it wears off. I don't like the unknown. I don't know what the next step is going to be in my recovery. It makes me twitch to think about it.

I've started physical therapy. It's interesting. I have muscle loss in my arm. I've been put in traction once and am going to be having it again tomorrow. It will be the first session when I'm not under the influence of some sort of medicine. Part of me is extremely nervous as to how my body will react and part of me is hoping that not being on the meds will give me a better idea of whether it's working. But it was disconcerting that the first thing my therapist asked was why surgery wasn't an option for me. Was she implying that no matter what she does I'll end up having surgery? Or was she just surprised that I was willing to try other options?

I go back to the spine specialist next week. I have no idea what she's looking for during that appointment. Will I need another MRI or another some other scan to determine if my disc is still herniated? There are too many unknowns in all of this. I want to be able to plan and prepare and I just can't. Relinquishing control is not my forte but I guess I don't have a choice. I'll take it one day at a time; it's all I can do.

Monday, August 24, 2009

I get by with a little help from my friends

I often lament to Doug that I hate living so far away from my friends. I left Maine to get away and spent seven years making new friends in New York and Boston, only to return to Maine to settle down and raise a family. It was especially hard leaving my college friends; there are some I haven't seen in 15 years. But everyone makes their choices and friendships either thrive or fade away.

Writing this blog for the last year and half has changed how I view friendships. While I may not always throw out everything that is going on in my life onto my blog, I can email those people who I hold close to me and vent/chat/commiserate. I trust that I can tell them what's going on without judgment. They aren't just people who leave a note on my blog; they are true friends.

Today my phone rang and because it was loud and insane here, I let it go to the machine. I was surprised to hear Cass's voice on my machine. When things settled down I dropped her a note and my phone rang almost instantly. She made me promise not to hate her and asked if I had left an Anonymous comment on AndreAnna's blog today. I said no but that I had just read the latest post but none of the comments yet. So I read the anonymous comment. It was sad and scary and I could totally see why she could have thought it was me. She was concerned enough to track Doug down (you need to be a PI Cass!) to make sure that he didn't think it was me either. Then I emailed AndreAnna to let her know that I didn't leave the comment. I think I heard her sigh with relief all the way from the Jersey shore.

I am truly blessed with wonderful friends. Friends concerned enough with my health and well-being to make sure that I'm not putting up a front on my blog about how I'm doing. Friends who would be willing to get in their cars and drive for hours to help me if I needed help. Cass's phone call really showed me that friendship can span miles, years, even the internet. There is something truly comforting in knowing that.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Open Letters

Here is my latest installment of open letters to my children. These will not make you all warm and fuzzy, but you may nod in agreement at times.

Dear Darling Eldest Daughter:

School starts soon. Please get a grip on your emotions. I cannot guarantee that you will like every child in your class. I know it's a new school with new kids. That is why we're going on the school tour and dragging the whole family to the insane event called the "ice cream social" next week. If you keep up with your crappy attitude toward me we'll never get your school supplies and you can damn well be sure that I'll not be getting you a Hannah Montana folder. You'll get boring old pink.

Love, your tired Mama

Dear Darling Son:

School starts soon, but not soon enough. You have to stop your 4 year old bullshit act of crying at EVERY.THING.I.SAY.TO.YOU. You cry if we ask your name, if we ask you to move, if we tell you to go eat. Cut the crap. It's annoying and doesn't get you very far now does it? Oh, and please stop telling me to "sshhh" with your finger up by your mouth. I am your Mama and you don't do that to me. You're lucky I haven't locked you in a trunk and sent you to Kazakhstan.

Love, your tired Mama

Dear Darling Twins:

Stop hitting/pinching/screaming/fighting over every single toy we own. Because there are two of you, we have two of just about every toy for you. Figure that out please. Izzie, that high pitched scream that you start with the minute you wake up annoys the ever loving crap out of me and it must be stopped. Otherwise you're ending up with your brother in the trunk. Annie, please stop with the gigantic crocodile tears every time someone looks at you/breathes near you/says hi to you. It's just plain tiring.

Love, your tired Mama


Dear Kristin:

Your body is crap right now. You are tired. You are irritable. Try so very hard not to yell at your children. You know that the medicine is making you irritable so try, try, try to keep it together. The children are worried about your health. Yes, you look smokin' hot in your hot pink Kiniseo tape on your neck and you know it. Don't flaunt it too much. Take deep breaths. School starts soon. The temps will drop below 90 here in a day or so. Life will get back into balance soon. Things will work themselves out.

Love, me

Friday, August 14, 2009

Eight year olds are the new 15 year olds

She throws a look of disdain in my direction more times a day than I can count.

When asked to help with laundry/put away shoes/grab the jug of milk/pick her nose, she huffs and puffs. When asked to clean, she throws herself on the floor, flailing and screaming, then runs to her room and slams her door, usually yelling how I've "ruined her life".

When one of her siblings is bothering her, she resorts to hitting instead of using her words. She reads at a 5th grade level for crying out loud; I think she knows a word or two.

She's beyond exhausted with summer and heat and rain and siblings and moms with bad necks who can't even drive her to pick out her school supplies. She wants order, structure, not the laid back chaos of no rules that envelopes my home like a cloud in the summer. I know this. She knows this. School is 2 weeks away and she can taste the freedom that comes with 7 hours away from twin two year olds who take her toys and a four year old who is struggling with his own need for structure and friends and preschool fun.

She is my first baby. I love her so much. Some days I loathe her so much that it hurts. It hurts to say that my child is so self centered that she can't see beyond the end of her nose at times. It hurts to think that she'll never grow out of it and we'll always be at odds. Sometimes, when she's not watching, I stare at her and look for where I went wrong. What did I do to her that makes her hate me so much? Then I see her freckles and beautiful brown eyes and know she's my baby girl and this too shall pass. I hope it will.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

No, no, not the knife! Oh, not yet? Ok.

So the verdict the other day was that I have a herniated disc in my neck. I was referred to the lovely people at the Neurosurgery and Spine office affiliated with Maine Medical Center. I went there this morning. This is what I found out.

I have "significant" cervical spondylosis. Cervical spondylosis is a general term for age-related wear and tear affecting the joints in your neck. Also known as cervical osteoarthritis, this condition usually appears in men and women older than 40 and progresses with age. Although cervical spondylosis affects both sexes equally, men usually develop it at an earlier age than women do (courtesy of The doctor's response after viewing my MRI (which is so kick-ass cool it's not even funny) was that I have a spine of a "much older person" (I'm not old, I'm 37). I have "black discs" and one herniated disc, with two other discs looking like they want to join the party. All in all, I'm a mess.

However, there is a bright side, for now. First off, I'm going off the Percocet tomorrow! I'm going on Prednisone for 10 days, and I get to reduce the muscle relaxant medicine to once a day. While I'm not thrilled with the side effects of Prednisone, I can DRIVE again!!!! With Meg starting school on the 31st and Drew the week after that, I NEED to be able to drive. I haven't driven since July 27th and that has sucked. I'm also starting physical therapy on Monday. We'll see how that all goes and I'll return to the neursurgeon's office in early September for a re-evaluation.

What this doesn't rule out is surgery. A couple of you asked what happens if they remove the herniated disc and I HAVE NO IDEA (maybe I'll become the Bionic Woman!)! For now I'm avoiding Googling, partially because with the degeneration, I don't know how much other work they'd want to do. I'll be asking those questions at my next appointment. So, no knife yet, but it's still a possibility.

What really blows about all of this is I'M NOT OLD! I'm 37! I shouldn't be in such sad shape. I already had a broken bone spur in my lower back a few years ago, and now this mess. What a wake up call this is becoming for me. Of course I don't know how much of this is hereditary as I know my mom has back/neck issues. But, I'm going to get well. I have to get well.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I'm not a doctor, I just play one on tv

My doctor called me yesterday afternoon. I do indeed have a herniated disc in my neck. My next step is to go see the spine specialists. He is working to finagle an appointment because he said "they only want to take patients who are almost dead". IF they take me, they'll evaluate my situation and try therapy. If therapy doesn't work, I get to meet with a neurosurgeon about having the herniated disc removed. In the meantime, I have to stay on my pain meds/muscle relaxants.

Here is the thing about the drugs that I think I've mentioned before~they make me light headed and dizzy. That is not conducive to driving. The drugs also don't work 100% of the time so I still end up suffering. Every day is different so I'm learning to manage my pain, but I'd rather be pain free. I've got kids starting school in 3 weeks, one of whom has to be driven to school and picked up. I can't be on drugs and not be able to take care of him.

So, for now I wait. No appointment scheduled yet. No idea how and when this will resolve itself. No alcohol allowed to make it all better (curse you Percocet!).

Monday, August 10, 2009


Doug and I went on a date Friday night. Well, he was more like my driver since I can't drive whilst taking the Percocet. I got my MRI! From what he and I can tell, and this is not at all confirmed by my doctor, it looks like I have two or three herniated discs in my neck. I don't know where things go from here, although I do hope my doctor calls me today to confirm and give me some direction.

On Saturday though we did go on a real date. We split the kids up and left them with their grandparents and headed to New Hampshire for the day. If you're from around these parts, you know that North Conway has some great shopping, not to mention gorgeous scenery. We went here to buy school clothes for the kids. It's just about an hour drive from our home, so after delivering the kids to our parents, we headed out and arrived just at 12. We had a lovely lunch at Applebee's. It was so nice to eat HOT food and just chat. I got all confused and took a second dose of my Percocet when I was supposed to take the muscle relaxant so that made for some good laughs. We held hands, we picked out clothes for the kids, we laughed.

After a few hours of shopping, we left the shopping area and headed to our favorite restaurant, Flatbread Pizza. We always go to the one here in Portland, so we thought since we had a gift card we'd try out the one in North Conway. We got the WORST waitress in the world. Actually, she was quite pleasant but was definitely having a bad night. We were sitting close enough to the brick oven to watch the pizzas being made and could tell that ours wasn't cooking (it was a chicken BLT pizza with a small amount of ranch dressing). After awhile she came over and told us that she'd forgotten to put our order in, but that they were making it and we'd have it shortly. The pizza they delivered was NOT the pizza we ordered. They let us have it while they worked on making our correct pizza, and when they delivered the correct pizza, we got the wrong SIZE! Lucky for us, we weren't incredibly hungry, we didn't have kids to complain and we just had a good time laughing at the bumbling mess. We got our pizza for free! We saved our gift card and will use it another time.

Even though we spent our entire Saturday doing things for the kids, it was just so lovely to do it all without them. We get so hung up in being Mama and Dad that being Kristin and Doug gets shoved into the background more often than it should. It was so nice to reconnect and enjoy each other's company, when so often we're too tired to say more than "boo" to each other at night. A bonus for me was that I felt pretty decent most of the day so I was good company (I hope). I hope we can go on another date sooner rather than later. I really like his company.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I just want the MRI dammit! (now updated with more rant!)

I am fond of health insurance. It's covered the birth of my kids, their visits for broken bones, well-child check-ups and the like. Usually, it works in my favor. Right now though, my health insurance company is on my shit list and I'm going to vent about it.

I'm still on Percocet every three hours and a muscle relaxant four times a day for the pain in my neck and arm. I am still in pain. My doctor (who is a DO and can do all that fun stuff a chiropractor does) cannot get my back or neck to snap-crackle-pop into place. He fears hurting me even more by trying and wants the MRI to confirm his thoughts that I have a herniated disc. Last week he approached Harvard Pilgrim, my then-health insurance company, who denied the coverage essentially because we were changing insurance companies on Friday. Ok, I get that denial. Granted, it sucked, but I figured that once I got my new health insurance in place we'd be set. I couldn't be more wrong.

My new insurer (that would be Anthem Blue Cross Blue shield folks) has denied the MRI as well. Apparently they would rather I stay hopped up on drugs all day, not fully able to care for my kids, until maybe the pain just disappears, intead of finding out what is truly wrong with my body. I can't drive, as each of the drugs alone make me dizzy and tired and when taken together make me a woozy mess, so I haven't been out of the house unless accompanied by another adult, for over a week. My doctor isn't 100% certain that I have a herniated disc; it's just a suspicion that he needs the MRI to CONFIRM. I don't want to stay hopped up on drugs. I want to feel better. I want to do what needs to be done to feel better, but if we aren't exactly sure what is wrong, I can't do that. I want to sleep through the night without being awakened by pain and the need for more drugs. I want to be able to put my twins into their cribs without shooting pains in my shoulder. I just want to be whole again.

I know that my situation isn't different from many other people in the US who are continually denied coverage by their insurance companies. It just makes absolutely no sense to me why this needs to happen, why doctors aren't able to get requested services for their patients. Insurance companies need to rely on the expertise of the doctors, not on their bottom line. We pay for this insurance every month out of our paycheck and we deserve the coverage we're entitled to. Get it together insurance companies (that means YOU Anthem) and get people the care they need. I just want the MRI dammit!

Update: Not long after I hit "publish" my doctor himself called me to say that I got the approval from Anthem. He said that they told him that of course they couldn't deny the request (so WTF why did they?) and then proceeded to give him the runaround about giving him the authorization number. The MRI got scheduled for tomorrow night. The MRI place called me to ask a zillion questions and confirm my insurance, whereupon we determined that my doctor somehow got the approval from Harvard Pilgrim, not Anthem. I called the doctor's office back to say um, WTF I don't have Harvard Pilgrim anymore, that was the whole problem last week, how is it possible that they would approve a cervical spine MRI if I don't have COVERAGE with them anymore? So here is what it boils down to: Harvard Pilgrim DENIED me coverage last week because my insurance was going to expire with them, then APPROVED me coverage after I was with another company. My head is spinning, and not from the drugs. Holy crap what a country.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Lions, and Tigers and Pain Pills, Oh My!

My poor blog has been neglected for the last week or so. I've been meaning to write a post or twelve, but that hasn't been in the cards. I've spent the better part of the last week at my doctor's office trying to figure out what the hell I did to my neck and how to make it better.

I woke up about 10 days ago with a stiff neck, which isn't unusual for me. I carried on with my daily routines but after several days I was in more pain and having some horrible pains in my shoulder and all the way down my left arm. The pain was enough to send me to my doctor last Monday for what I thought would be an easy snap-crackle-pop and I would be feeling better. Alas, no snap, no crackle, no pop; my poor doctor couldn't get anything to happen with my neck or back. He prescribed some pain pills and a muscle relaxant and scheduled me to go back at the end of the week. Those meds did NOTHING at all to help, so I called him back on Tuesday and he schedule me to come in late Wednesday for a cortisone type shot. After no sleep on Tuesday night (and none Sunday or Monday either) I was back in Wednesday morning for the pain shot. It helped for about an hour, which was not what we were hoping for. My doctor's concern was that I had a herniated disc in my neck and that was the reason for all the throbbing nerve pain in my arm. He ordered a MRI and switched me to Percocet for the pain.

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you know I haven't had the MRI yet. Wanna know why? My insurance company denied it. Wanna know the reason why? Because Doug's company changed insurance companies and my coverage with them expired at midnight on Friday night. So, they jerked us around sufficiently to avoid having to cover the MRI and now my doctor has to negotiate with my new insurance company. Love it.

So here I sit on Monday morning, thankful that today the Percocet is working a bit (it didn't even touch the pain yesterday), wondering if I'm going to get better anytime soon. I can tolerate some pain; after all I birthed 3 of the 4 kids without any drugs. But I cannot tolerate constant, throbbing pain that impairs my ability to care for my family. I have to call my doctor again today and maybe he'll get that MRI scheduled so I know what I'm up against.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


I used to be a bit of an overachiever. For example, I wrote a thesis my senior of year of college. It wasn't required; I did it for fun and got a B. I entered a music performance competition during my junior year of college. I won. I was the first non-music major in the history of the award to win. I gave a recital in college. Again~I was not a music major. I did it for fun. I pushed myself to the limits in high school and college (law school, um not so much). I strived and achieved.

I've been looking for that me lately. I find myself bogged down with laundry, dirty cat litter boxes, fighting children, filthy floors. I miss the younger, happier me. Granted, I don't miss ALL parts of being younger, but I think what I miss the most is how, even though I was pushing myself all the time, I felt lighter. Of course I wasn't concerning myself with money, kids' health, money (you get the picture) then. My focus was on me and what I wanted out of my life, instead of focusing on the needs of everyone else.

I think I've lost my sense of self. I suppose it was somewhat inevitable, having four children in the last eight years. Children need constant care, support, love. And there's my marriage of almost eleven years. That also needs constant care, support and love. I'm finding that the care of me gets pushed aside to care for everyone and everything.

So I'm taking baby steps. I've been reading more. I scheduled a pedicure with some friends. I have my niece coming to help with the kids once a week so I can take a step back. I know that I'll never be the old me again, nor would I want to. But I want to find pieces of the old me and bring them back and make them fit with the life the new me created. I want to feel lighter and happier. I don't want to be lost anymore.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Potty training con dos

Everything about having twins is uncharted territory. Fortunately we weren't new parents when we found out we were having twins so we had some semblance of an idea of what we were doing. I honestly can't imagine having twins as my first birth. The thought makes me shudder!

But now we're about to venture into new territory: potty training. The girls have been following me into the bathroom to "watch you mama?!?!?" for the last several months and are very well aware of the goings on. They know not to leave the bathroom until I've washed my hands and they fight over who will flush the toilet for me. When we were at Sesame Place I bought some small stickers to use for a potty chart for them. We have two potty chairs for them. We have the box of pull-ups to make life easier for them.

I am so hesitant to begin though. With potty training comes other issues that quite frankly, I'm not ready to deal with. They still sleep in cribs. Using the bathroom/potty chairs will inevitably lead to needing to sleep in BEDS. Sleeping in beds will lead to no naps. I can't live with the girls not napping. My sanity (what tiny shreds are left of it anyway) demand that they nap. By lunchtime they, and Drew, have had enough of each other and the silence that naptime brings recharges us all. The thought of it all makes me a bit twitchy.

I'm unsure how this new venture will go. Meg was trained before she was 2, and Drew wasn't even close to ready until he was just over 3. The girls seem excited about it, as the box of Dora pull-ups sits in the bedroom, waiting to be opened. My approach will be very laid back, as it was with Drew. I wonder though if those with twins have suggestions as to what worked for them, and what didn't. I'm pretty sure that when the time comes, I'll be throwing a "my house is diaper free" party though!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Light House

Because we hadn't spend enough quality time together last week (ahem, cough, cough, silly me) last night we gathered up the kids and took them to Portland Head Light for dinner. We are so fortunate to live in a state that has this on its shore:
Doug and I played paparazzi for a bit while the kids enjoyed watching the boaters.

Don't YOU just want to come visit me?

Monday, July 6, 2009

V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N in the summertime

We have returned from our vacation to Pennsylvania (which, coincidentally, the twins can say and it sounds so strange coming from the mouth of a 2 year old). On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd rank the vacation as a 6. For sanity sake, let's do this bullet style.

  • On the ride down Izzie barfed her lunch all over herself in her car seat. We were on Route 84 in CT, near West Hartford and had to pull off the road and into a business complex to strip her down, clean her car seat. The business' security guy drove up and thank goodness Doug has his Red Sox hat on or I don't think he would have let us stay! The rest of the ride was relatively uneventful.
  • Having four kids share a single bedroom is a very bad idea. I don't think I need to elaborate more.
  • Sesame Place was awesome! The twins were thrilled to meet their Sesame friends live and in person. Meg rode the Vapor Trails roller coaster probably a half dozen times in the two days we visited the park by herself and loved it. The water park was incredible.
  • We had dinner with Big Bird, Elmo, Zoe, Bert, Ernie and Cookie Monster on Monday night. The characters came to the table to visit. The kids LOVED that!
  • Sadly AndreAnna's family all came down with the barfies and didn't get to do SP with us, which made us sad.
  • However, Robyn had a BBQ on Friday and AndreAnna's family joined us. The kids (all 7 of them) played in the yard on the slip and slide and got along famously. It was quite relaxing. I seriously wish my friends didn't all live so far away.
  • While we were gone it rained almost the entire week here in Maine. We had great weather in PA. Apparently we brought some nice weather home with us.
I took a ton of photos, as usual. Here are just some of them.

  • We went to a neat place called Bushkill Falls, which was down the road from our timeshare. I got some cool photos of the falls. I am deathly afraid of heights, so I refused to go down the stairs to get closer to the falls. Still, I got good photos from where we were, right?

  • Our timeshare was on the Delaware River. Our unit overlooked the golf course, which was so pretty. We took a walk one day:

  • Crayola Factory was a cool place for the kids to play with modeling clay, color, paint and learn about how the crayons are made.

We're glad to be home. My awesome friend Julie and her son Benton took care of the cats and house for us (and survived the torrential rains) and that was a huge weight off my shoulders. I'm not ready to take the kids on another vacation again anytime soon. However, I could use a vacation from my vacation, if you know what I mean!