Saturday, October 31, 2009

Secret muumuu.

Tonight we observed that most sacred of childhood holidays. Halloween!

We had a bumblebee.

And Cleopatra.

I was a butterfly.

David was a civil war soldier, but I don't have a picture of him. He wasn't dressed yet when Lily and I headed out to meet up with Lily's friends.

David and Rebecca went out with the big kids in our neighborhood but we all met later at a friend's house for pizza.

You can't tell from the picture but I am wearing a bright orange satin prom dress. I got it at the junk store thinking it would be wonderful for halloween. And it was wonderful, except for the boning which started to dig into my ribs about half way through trick or treating. I was also wearing heeled boots. My feet may hurt for days.

My costume got me thinking about movie stars who flit about in high heels and skin tight clothes all the time. Don't they get exhausted from walking in those things all the time? I was so happy to come home and put on an old lady nightgown. Maybe movie stars have secret muumuu's for when they get home.

What were we talking about?

Halloween is also a big deal for us because it is the day after David's birthday!

The girls and I got him some new shirts and special gloves that work with his iphone.

That's all I've got today people because I am so tired. I promise I'll make it up to you tomorrow.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Today was one of those crazy hectic days that seem to go on forever and I was doing a great job of keeping it all together until I noticed that the milk in the refrigerator was warm.

Warm milk. In the fridge.

Then I noticed the silence that can only come from a fridge motor which has gone to meet its maker.

There was swearing, then there was chocolate and finally there was a call to the appliance repair man.

He came right over.

He looks like Tony Soprano but his name is Paul.

While his son replaced the motor, David and I got to chatting with Paul. He grew up in our town and told us some stories about our town 35 years ago.

Then he asked us where we were from and how we met.

It was lovely actually. I love being reminded of meeting David and falling in love with him.

We talked about kids and Halloween too.

Then he charged us $383 and left.

So that part wasn't great, but the unexpected memory of meeting David and a random chat with the repair man warmed me.

Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude.

The end.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The day the leaves fall.

Fall in New England is pure splendor. All of the heat of summer fades and leaves us with crisp blue skies and an explosion of color.

The maples go first, all fiery red. All of the other trees seem to take their cues from the maples and like dominoes they all begin to turn.

This morning we woke up to find that our street had turned gold over night. The leaves had begun to fall in earnest. With every cold damp breeze there were more on the car, the stairs- I found a few in the house having hitched a ride in Rebecca's hair and on my boot heels.

The day never seemed to brighten and the heat was turned on for the first time this season. It was a message from winter- "I am coming, prepare."

It was the right day to carve pumpkins.

So much planning goes into carving jack-o-lanterns. The children draw pictures of possible garish faces. Many are discarded.

Once the final choices are made the real work begins. The pumpkins must be gutted.

I gut mine in record time with Rebecca not far behind. Lily tarries knowing that eventually someone else will pull the sticky mess of seeds from the orange fruit.

Finally it is time to carve and this a job that falls to me. By now the children have wandered off, allowing the factory of mom to turn their designs into truth.

There are seeds on the floor and now bits of fallen carved pumpkin walls are gobbled by the dogs who wait beneath me.

One by one I complete the faces. In go the candles. Off go the lights.




Monday, October 26, 2009

A day of surprises!

I am very happy to announce that this is now a sty free blog. Rebecca was an absolute trooper today and handled her surgery with courage and grace. The procedure took about ten minutes and was completely without incident.

As if no longer carrying around a ball of pus on your eyelid is not reason enough to be happy, we were surprised twice today with goodies.

My dear cousin Cheryl sent us a wonderful souvenir from her vacation.


Rebecca sorted some and used others to make a necklace. I've put them in a glass jar with some beach sand at the bottom. Doesn't everyone just happen to have beach sand in their basement waiting for the right moment?

It was such a delight to go through the shells and imagine their life before they found their way to the beach, then a box and finally our home. Thank you Cheryl!

A little later in the day the doorbell rang which caused my dogs to completely lose their minds. I went to the door to assure whomever it was that I would not be releasing the hounds when I saw our pal Charlie hurrying back to his mom's car after making a super secret delivery.

Look at all the goodies they brought us!

Each item had a note.

This one was on the flowers.

We know who these are for!

There were also these books for Rebecca.

And this one for Lily.

Charlie made David a beautiful thank you note for inviting him to the set last weekend.

Graham crackers which Lily wasted no time getting into.

Guess who this is for?

I know they meant to write "This belongs to Sara and if you value your life you'll keep your mitts off it."

Thank you so much to Amy, Sean, Charlie and Theo for all the goodies. You guys made us blush.

It was so lovely to find ourselves in the thoughts of others today.

I find myself saying it all the time, but must say it again. We are so lucky and I am so grateful.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The sty that would not die.

I'm sure that I have mentioned to you before that the official burden upon my family is pus.

Sometimes the pus arrives via a quaint and timeless abscess. Other times it emerges in the more menacing form of a sty.

I am going to trust that my clever readers know what a sty is. Feel free to google it. DO NOT GOOGLE IMAGES! I cannot stress this point strongly enough!

Rebecca began being plagued with a herd of sties this summer. Treating her sties was a bit like playing whack a mole with antibiotic ointment. One would clear up and another would appear. Victory was always fleeting. Finally it seemed that we were winning. They all disappeared except for one stubborn sty.

This particular pustule did not respond to the first line of antibiotic ointment. A trip to the doctor gave us new ammunition in the form of super duper mega antibiotic.

We smugly began applying it, already savoring the defeat of our viscous villain.

The sty snickered. I swear it.

And to prove its point it began to grow its own blood vessels.

Back to the pediatrician we went. She put up her white flag and sent us to a specialist.

By now Rebecca and I were battered, but not hopeless. Our dream of a sty-free eye seemed more tangible than ever when our new doctor prescribed an antibiotic with a steroid- that's right a steroid!

We began our new regimen with the devotion of the desperate. The warm compresses were applied, the sty lanced and the ointment slathered.

The sty grew bigger. The vessels expanded. It mocked us with its virility.

Tomorrow our war against the sty will end. Rebecca will be having it surgically removed. While medicine was no match for the sty, the mighty scalpel will bring us certain victory.

She is nervous, but she is also incredibly eager to be rid of what is slowly becoming an appendage on her eyelid.

Please keep us in your thoughts tomorrow morning for an effective removal of the sty and a speedy recovery- and as always, send chocolate.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Shiny Red Winner and Pictures of my living room!

Pictures of my new living room set up!

Isn't it amazing what rearranging furniture can do for a room?

This room never felt right but it is so inviting now. When David came home from Science Camp with Rebecca he gushed over it!

On to more important things- the giveaway!

I love a good giveaway and this one was particularly important because I learned that many of you believe in ghosts! Who knew? Just the idea of ghosts scare me to death because I am a child of the 80's who watched Poltergeist on HBO when we first got cable. I am not over it. Stay away from the light Carolann!

Sorry. Where were we?

The give away! I use a random number generator for my giveaways and I could not have been more tickled when I realized that the winner is none other than Marisol, Superstar Mom and Lawyer, wearer of Chuck Taylors and all around rebel babe! Also, I went to high school with her- how cool is that?

Marisol honey, you are the winner, so email me about so we can get you your prize!

Everybody else- stay away from the light!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

How do you spell trouble?

In my house trouble is spelled "t a p e m e a s u r e".

Today I spent the day teaching Lily, ferrying her to activities and cleaning up my rat hole of a house.

I'm not kidding. It was a horror.

Luckily Lily was invited to a friend's house for three hours this afternoon so I had enough time to do a mega cleaning blitz before I needed to pick her up.

I finished all of my cleaning with ten minutes to spare.

All day long I have been gnawing on the idea of moving my couch. It would be a pretty radical move and as I toiled I kept imagining how it might work.

This is all to explain how ten minutes before I needed to leave to get Lily I pulled out this.

Once I take out the tape measure it means that the idea has moved past the "Hmmmm. That could be interesting but I am not interested in committing to fully exploring it." to "Must. Move. Couch. Now."

I have several tape measure's strategically placed around my house for when inspiration strikes. Some people preposition booze. I preposition tools. It's just how I roll.

I conferred with my tape measure and we agreed. I had just enough time to move the couch and get an idea of how it would look.

Reader, I love it. No I don't have any pictures yet. I also have no idea how anyone will be able to use the TV, DVD player or Wii.


Sorry about that little outburst.

Anyway, now the couch faces the fireplace and that my friends was the goal of the day.

That and eliminate the dust bunnies. If that isn't cause for chocolate, then I don't know what is.

PS. Tomorrow my Shiny Red Giveaway ends! Leave a comment!

PPS. The bat was not rabid, may he rest in sweet bat peace.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mr. Battypants

Some days I have no idea what to blog about.

Then other days a subject is just hanging from the molding waiting to be discovered.

Today Lily and I were on the Cape visiting my dad and stepmom. Nana is a dollhouse artist and was showing us her latest creation, a spooky halloween house complete with spooky black tree with bats hanging from its gnarled branches. We were still looking at it when she left the room to make lunch. Lily and I were sitting on the bench snuggling when I noticed a bat decoration hanging from the molding at the ceiling.

"Look Lily! A spooky bat!" We giggled and pointed and pretended to be scared.

When Nana walked back into the room we continued, "Oh Nana, that bat is so scary!"

Then Nana's face got funny. It went from "Oh, aren't you two funny?" to "What the hell is that?" to "Dear God, there's a bat in the house!"

There was some shrieking.

We ran to tell my dad who was painting the trim on the house.

"There's a bat in the house!" We yelled, not even bothering to mask our hysteria.

"Bat! In! The! House!" we yelled.

Pepere was unperturbed. "I need to finish painting."

It quickly became apparent that Nana and I were on our own.

Where did Lily go?

Lily ran outside as fast as her little feet would carry her.

Nana and I devised a plan. She fetched a net.

She was not enjoying the bat. She wanted to put him in the Lord and Taylor bag, but we decided that a garbage bag that could be sealed might be better.

We studied our adversary.

He was asleep.

Also, he was pretty cute.

I know. But he's so furry! And he has cute ears!

I carefully put the net over his body and slowly pulled the net down.

He started to squeak and flap his wings and reader, I screamed like a girl. I'm not proud.

Our next maneuver required complete agility and perfect timing. We had to get the bat into the bag without letting him fly all over the house.

Using all of my grace I swooped Mr. Battypants into the garbage bag and taped up the end.

Some of my readers may be confused. Why the hell is she saving the bat? Just get it out of the house!

I'll tell you why. Because we needed to capture him and send him off to get his brain tested for rabies. If you can't capture the bat, or say you just shoo him outside, you end up like my dear friend Karen who spent the summer getting rabies shots with her family.

Once Mr. Battypants was captured, Nana got on the phone with the Department of Health who told her that they would send someone right away to fetch him.

That left me free to take pictures. And try to coax Lily back into the house.

Look at him.

I think the toes are adorable though the claw kind of freaks me out.

Then the nice Department of Health lady came by to take away Mr. Battypants. She left us this helpful information. Information about bat brains.

We hope to find out if he's rabid or not by tomorrow. And people, I really would prefer not to get rabies shots, so please send whatever non-rabies vibes you can or just send chocolate. Either one will do.

PS. You know what it bizarre? This is by second post about someone in our family possibly needing rabies shots. What are the odds?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dear Miss Twinkle Toes,

Please welcome our Agony Aunt and my very dear Friend Miss Twinkle Toes to Shiny Red Houses where she solves the most vexing problems of our most troubled readers.

Dear Miss Twinkle Toes,

I have a very serious problem that I hope you can help me with. I live in a rural area which is home to many oak trees. I love the mighty oak and the shade it provides. Unfortunately the large oak next door to my house is also the home to a band of vicious ninja squirrels. Every morning when I leave my house they begin to throw acorns at my head. They come from different angles and some have been gnawed into the shape of throwing stars. I fear for my life. The police insist that the squirrels are cute and cuddly, but I know the truth.

Please help me Miss Twinkle Toes!


Acorn head

Dear Acorn Head,

I have had some encounters with the Vicious Ninja Squirrel myself. Few things can deter these wily creatures.

My first recommendation would be to acquire a good helmet. Not a bicycling helmet -- styrofoam will not protect you and there are too many holes in them. I'd go with a full face motorcycle helmet. Make sure you treat the visor with anti-fog solution as this will be a long battle.

Next, I recommend a high-powered water gun. I wouldn't go for anything less than this caliber: Hasbro 63648 Super Soaker Quick Blast Water Blaster.

Third...make sure you wear good body protection. You may even want to enlist backup. Just make sure everyone has their own protective clear plastic sheeting to take shelter behind. Also, it may be a good idea to do some cardio-training before you start your onslaught.

Be sure to fill the water gun(s) with icy cold water to shock their bodies and slow them down, making them more vulnerable to subsequent rounds.

I wish you luck... it's not easy thwarting these diligent rodents, but with dedication, teamwork and cunning, it can be done!

OH! I nearly forgot....captives can be bred to create your own undercover army of spy squirrels. Make sure they're dedicated before your release them!

- Miss TT

Sunday, October 18, 2009


The past week has seen a flurry of activity over at Mad Rush Pictures, David's production company. They have been making the final preparations for a film shoot. Usually when David shoots he is in Los Angeles or on location somewhere, but we were very lucky because this shoot was local.

Yesterday a farm in rural Massachusetts was transformed into Gettysburg as hundreds of re-enactors and an elite team of professional swordfighters converged to recreate Civil War battles. The girls and I went down to watch and admire David at his most handsomest. There is just something about that man with a bullhorn...

Naturally I took pictures!

This is Kristal. She works for David and was running the set.

This is Dan. Isn't he adorable? I'm pretty sure that he's single. He also works for David and was assisting Kristal.

This is David, Mr. Director. He loves that hat because unlike me he hates being cold.

Here he is directing. He can be a little bossy when he's working. Also, sometimes he swears.

This wise guy is Brian Danner. He is a professional swordfighter. Yes, you read that correctly. Professional Swordfighter. This may come as a relief to the mothers of sword obsessed boys everywhere. You can make a career as a swordfighter.

Check out the fake blood!

Here he is practicing being shot.

This is my new pool boy.

What? You can't have a pool boy without a pool?

There were horses on the set! Ree's not the only one who gets to post cowboy photos!

Here's a soldier tending his horses.

There were also cannons.


Check out the authentic smoke.

A lot of these guys are re-enactors.

They take this job seriously.

These guys know things about war.

This picture of the soldiers carrying their tattered flags across the field just gets to me.

It's not all fun and explosions of the set though.

Sometimes things don't go well on the set and David makes this face.

If he makes this face you should go hide in make-up. Just so you know.

This sweet boy is Charlie. He and his dad were on the set too. Charlie is one of our homeschooling buddies.

There are many many reasons to love Charlie, but the best reason is that he puts up with this.

Lily adores Charlie.

Would. Not. Leave. Him. Alone.

Charlie tolerated her devotion with such dignity.

She's an unusual child.

She found this roly-poly caterpillar.

I love her hands. They are so earnest.

All of the kids got a pony ride from Mr. Cowboy.

Rebecca loved to ride the horse and quickly began to plead for horseback riding lessons.

Rebecca found Onyx ravishing.

There were bison on the farm too, though none of the children begged for bison riding lessons.

It was a beautiful day and I felt so lucky to be able to be with David while he was working. So much of David's job day to day consists of watching him talk on the phone and write emails. It's always a thrill to see him in his element. It's amazing to watch so many people all doing their part to make a scene come alive for the camera. It was a lot of work, but also a glorious amount of fun.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Between the lines...

I was all set to write a fabulous post all about being on the set of a show that David is working on, but Blogger is not uploading my photos. Sigh. I will try again tomorrow.

In the meantime, I was thinking a bit about something a friend mentioned yesterday. We were chatting about my blog and he asked how I make all of my stories come out "right"? At first I wasn't sure what he meant. He explained that my stories always end well, with humor or kindness or perhaps something learned.

I guess that I have a few different answers. One thing which I consider deeply before I post something is whether I am telling a story that I'd want my kids to read. Am I being unkind? Am I complaining? Am I telling a story that is not mine to tell?

The other thing which I consider, the thing which is honest and truly at the heart of this blog is that I firmly believe that we make our own happiness. I try to find joy in every single day. It is a choice, but the only one for me.

If I can laugh about my most difficult days, if I can find a small gem in a pile of misery, I will focus on it.

Because at the end of every day I can take an inventory of my life and know that I have all that a woman could ever need. The love of a good man, the sweet delights of mothering my girls, a warm house, chocolate. The perfect recipe for a grateful heart.

Only an idiot would complain about this life.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Letting the knots untie...

One of the reasons that I started homeschooling Rebecca is that her anxiety level for the last few years had become very high. Transitions, and especially standardized tests had begun to really stress her out. Stomachaches and headaches were a part of her daily life and really killing the joy of learning and trying new things.

One of the most vexing manifestations of this anxiety has been claustrophobia/agoraphobia in restaurants. Everything would start out fine, but once we placed our orders I could see her starting to panic. She'd be afraid she was going to be sick, her head would pound.

We stopped eating out.

She's been working on relaxation techniques which have been very helpful. I also think that getting out of the daily school grind and taking a less high stakes approach to learning has been amazing. Her stomach rarely hurts and her headaches are far less frequent.

The real test was today.

We went to Zaftigs for lunch.

Not only did we go out to lunch, we went to a noisy, crowded restaurant.

I didn't make a big deal of it. We just went. We brought books in case there was a wait and that seemed to calm her. Once we were seated she ordered and read a bit while Lily and I played tic-tac-toe. When our food came we oohed and ahhhed over everything and reader, she did great.

It was really remarkable and I was so relieved for her. I know that the more positive experiences she has, the more comfortable she will be in restaurants.

I've commented before about the sweet rush of emotional joy which is parental relief. Watching her knots loosen was wonderful and untied a few of my own.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Shiny Red Giveaway!

People, last night the temperature was in the low thirties!

This puts me in a very, very good mood. Some people do not understand my love of cold, but my god, I just adore it. I love sweaters and hot apple cider and my gas fireplace. Snuggling is much more pleasant in the cold than in the hot. The means of becoming warm are all so pleasant.

It gets dark early now, so we usually eat dinner by candle light. Even leftovers feel festive in the flickering glow. Evenings find the girls and I taking our baths a bit earlier, there seems little risk that someone will stop by unannounced.

I am so blissed out by this wonderful October chill that I am having a giveaway!

Everything I am giving away is shiny and red.

Okay, one down side of it getting dark early is that I ran out of time to take this picture in natural light.

This bag is called a Mag Bag. It's for carrying magazines in. And also chocolate.

The doll is a russian doll. Not to be confused with a russian bride. I'm just saying.

Coasters! Cute shiny red coasters! They come in a matching tin.

Look! She's on a set of dish towels as well!

Russian doll napkins. You know you want these.

Bath beds! So ooh' la la la!

Here are the rules: Post one comment about whether or not you believe in ghosts. Contest will end on Friday, October 23, 2009 5pm EST. Winner will be chosen at random.

Good luck!