Writings of a teachermom, choosing to stay home with her kids, while loathing all domestic responsibilities! In late Aug. 2008, I was diagnosed with Triple Negative breast cancer. After surgery, chemo and radiation, I was given theall clear. However, in the late summer of 2008, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which metasticized to other areas.

Monday, October 31, 2005

The costumes

With daylight savings time bringing on the darkness so early today, I didn't get home in time from my class to take my Star Wars boys trick-or-treating. But I did get to see them in their costumes, and we did hang out across the street with the neighbors for a while. I'm so lucky ot have a babysitter willing to do anything with the boys. Actually, I'm kinda glad I didn't have to walk around the neighborhood in the cold weather.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Magnetic Music

Have I ever mentioned how wonderful it is to have a husband who can play the piano AND sing!!!! We finally had our piano tuned this weekend, and my husband actually took some time out of his busy schedule to just play and perform. It was wonderful background music as I typed away at my weekly grad school reflections.

Me, well, I have NO "beauty pagent" talent. Although, in 3rd grade I was in a talent show..as a magician's assistant. My best friend, the magician, didn't cut me in half or anything. I just wore some silly dance-type outfit and handed her the needed supplies. I even got to hold the balloon, as she poked a pin through it (which waited to pop the moment we stepped off stage).

Since I lack such talent, I am in complete awe of those who are so musically inclined. I used to tell my male students who moaned about having to take lessons, that playing the piano was a true "chick magnet." It worked for my husband.

On a totally different subject, here's an interaction between my husband and son in the car today.

After I just told Cameron take his finger out of his nose.
"Cameron, why do you always pick your nose?" my husband asks in disgust.
"Because there are a lot of boogers up there," my son replies matter-of-factly.
Some questions you just shouldn't ask.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

"I can read!"

Cameron read his first book last night. It was so exciting. Granted, it was one of those small, phonics readers with only a handful of words used over and over, but he read it nonetheless. And he didn't memorize it; he actually sounded out the words. This summer we started a book called, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. It's part of the DiStar program. I'm not a fan of canned "programs," but since I'm not an elementary teacher, I didn't really know how to transition Cameron from knowing sounds to reading words. With all that has been going on lately, we've only been through Lesson 2o. I find the lessons quite boring, but Cameron just recently has taken an interest in them, and so far, it's actually working. I'm quite proud of him.

Max's latest endeavor has been in the bathtub. He has perfected splashing. Now he doesn't just splash around a little. Oh no, he pounds in the water as hard and as fast as he can for as long as he can. You can just see his little devious mind going when he gets in that water. He looks at me, gets this big grin, and then just starts splashing. Yesterday it was to the point where I managed to get his hair lathered up, but I just had to get him out of the splash pool he was creating. So I just had to assume that he managed to get his body clean with all the swishing of the water. For goodness sake, there was water dripping down the wall that was 5 feet away from all of his commotion. No matter how many times I grabbed his hands and said a firm, "No" he just laughed and did it harder. Of course it didn't help that Cameron, who was also in the tub, just laughed and laughed at Max's actions.

Looks like we might be just sticking to showers for a while.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Just the Girls

My "Mom's Spiritual Spa" group from church came over tonight. It was our first get together outside of our weekly studies.

What a wonderful time we had. Who else but with a bunch of girls can you sit around and talk about vaginal vericose veins, little boys' obsession with their penises and painful episiodomies? Of course we talked about other things too...trips, halloween costumes, 10 pound babies.

When deciding when to meet again, one of the women expressed all of our sentiments by saying,
"This was great, we should do it every week. I mean, I can't really talk about my vagina with my husband!"

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Weekend Away

I was out of town this past weekend, with no kids in tow. It was wonderful! I visited my brilliant friend Lauren Liang, who is a professor at the University of Utah. She and her husband live just minutes from a mountain, but considering the fact that I'm into my 8th month of pregnancy, we didn't do any hiking. What we did do was go to this zen-style spa and had our nails and toes done...which was lovely. We also hung out at her house and did a lot of girl talk. It was so nice to get to just sit for long periods of time. Took a lot of the baby pressure off that had been causing a lot of pain in the past weeks. The only reason I had to get up was to let her cutie pie dogs out, and of course to take my many trips to the bathroom.

When I got home, Cameron asked me, "Did you and Lauren play?"
"What do you mean by play?"
"You know, like play cards and stuff like that."
"No Cameron, we didn't play. We did a lot of talking."
"Well, that's not even fun," he said, in quite disbelief.

Oh if he only knew how much fun it really was.

Some of you were wondering how Melvin made out with the boys. Except for his interesting timing with lunch and dinner (8:30 on Sat night for dinner, 4:00 Sunday afternoon for lunch), it seemed that things went well. Although I'm happy they had a good weekend together, part of me wanted it to be disasterous. I was hoping to come home to a husband who expressed nothing but appreciation for what I do on a daily basis. I was hoping that a weekend with the boys would convince him that with the onset of a 3rd child, we'd need some help around the house (in the form of an au pair!). I was at the very least hoping for some sort of relief that I had come home and relieved him of his kid watching "duties."

But instead, he said, "It wasn't that hard. And the house is even pretty clean."

Maybe he should be a stay-at-home dad then. We'd be poor as church mice, but hey, the kids would be happy, and apparently the house would stay clean!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Halloween nightmare

I know I need to write about my wonderful weekend in Utah and how Melvin did with the kids, but that will have to wait until tomorrow.

Right now I have something else pestering me that I have to write about. I just realized as I was sitting in my grad class tonight that Halloween falls on a Monday, which means that I won't be able to take the kids trick-or-treating. My grad class is that night, and I already missed one class for my grandmother's funeral. If I miss another one, I can't get any higher than a B in the class. I feel just horrible.

Melvin is already moonlighting that night, so he can't take them either. The babysitter said she'd do it, but I still feel like a horrible mother. This is Max's first time trick-or-treating. And to think that I spent all that time and money searching for the Darth Vader / Yoda costume combination so I could take my Star Wars darlings around as a "matching pair." Damn!

Well, at least I'll be able to dress them up together this Thursday night, as their school has a Fall Harvest Festival where they are encouraged to come in costume. Still, it won't be the same as Halloween night.

I'm sure my kids will be scarred. They can just add this to the list of things I'm sure they'll create when they're older of why I'm such a horrible mother. ;)

Friday, October 21, 2005

Boys' Weekend

Don't all my boys look so happy together in this picture. I'm going away this weekend (sans kids) to visit my friend Lauren in Utah. Melvin will be home with the boys. I wonder if he'll still be smiling when I return.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Oh yeah...the baby.

Tonight the family went out to dinner, and miraculously, Max just sat and ate. We had to constantly shovel food onto his plate, and he insisted on dipping the crab alfredo pasta into the ketchup..but hey, he wasn't crying, he wasn't on our laps grabbing at everything...so whatever works.

During our dinner, Melvin and I were discussing a trip we wanted to take in about 3 weeks. He has the weekend off, we have some airline tickets we had previously cancelled and had to use, and we wanted one last "hurrah" before the baby came.

After sorting through several warm options, we thought back to our Disney Cruise we went on last year. Figured that we could do a 3 or 4 day cruise. Cameron would love to go to the kids place, and Max has been doing much better in daycare situations, so we could actually enjoy ourselves...alone. We were quite excited.

But then it suddenly dawned on me. Oh, I'm pregnant...very pregnant. Will be about 35 weeks pregnant when we're out on a boat in the middle of the Caribbean. Probably not the best place to be at such a stage in the baby game.

Silly us.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Adulthood 101

Cameron has been very "testy" lately, excerting his independence with every decision I make for him (bedtime, what to eat, etc.). Although I understand that it's good he's being an independent thinker, sometimes it just gets to be too trying for my patience.

So yesterday we had the whole, "Who's in charge" conversation. He wanted to know when he got to be in charge. I told him when he had kids, he could be in charge of them....or at least until he's in college. Cameron whined that that was too long. I went on to explain that I'm an adult, and adults know a lot things that will keep kids safe, so they are in charge. blah, blah blah.

A few minutes later Cameron was getting ready for bed, and he was complaining about having to go to bed so early. I explained that he had school the next day, so he had to get up early. Here's the conversation that occured:

"Why do I even have to go to school? We don't learn anything."
"What are you talking about? Of course you learn things."
"No we don't. We just play and do projects. We don't learn anything about how to be an adult," Cameron affirmed, with quite an angry tone.
"What?" I asked, not sure I heard him correctly.
"They're not teaching us how to be an adult. We just play and do projects. When are they gonna teach us how to be an adult?" he asked, quite serious and quite annoyed.

I'm not even sure what I said to this. Something along the lines of in school you learn to read and write and do math.....that you have lots of time to learn to be an adult.

Today in school they were learning about community members and different jobs. Teacher was one of the jobs they discussed. When asked what a teacher does, Cameron apparently responded, "Teaches you how to be a kid."

If only there really was a class entitled, "Adulthood 101" I wonder what they'd teach you.

Monday, October 17, 2005

A kid's movie?

For those of you who have not seen a kids movie in the last few years, you may not know this, but often times there are a lot of adult inuendos included to keep us parents entertained. The movie Robots was no exception.

Our cable wasn't working for a few days, so Cameron watched the Robots movie several times during this period. Here is what he remembered the most from the film.

"Mommy, you know what was the funniest part? When the robot said,
'Get off my foot you mother-'
'Hey I'm not your mother!'

Cameron repeats this over and over. Thank goodness he doesn't understand thereal humor there. But I do wish he'd find a funnier part to recall to everyone.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The power of drugs

Tonight I was at Borders doing some reading for my grad class while a babysitter was at home with the boys. Next to me I overheard a conversation between a man and a female classmate of his. He was explaining to this psych major that he was bi-polar. Apparently he was taking medication for it.
"I don't miss the suicidal stuff and all that. But I do miss the highs."
"Oh really?" she responded.
"Yeah, it's tough being normal," he laughed.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Inmate # ???

These past few days, Max has had a fascination with finding the bread bag in the pantry and sneaking some pieces out to chew on. Actually, he doesn't sneak it, but rather he pulls out the whole bag, dumps all the bread on the ground and grabs two handfuls to stuff in his mouth.

So he likes bread...and he likes water...and he looks good in orange. I hope it's not a sign of the future. He isn't a fan of being "prisoned" in his crib, so I think we're okay.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Costume Search

Last year, my then 3 yearold decided he wanted to be Spiderman for Halloween. I wasn't too thrilled about his sudden jump from the cute animal costumes (had had been a zebra and a lion the previous years) into older boy superhero mode. But it wasn't really about what I wanted. So about a month before Halloween, I was in Toys R Us, and spotted the perfect Spiderman costume, with built in muscles and all. Fearing they would run out, I bought the costume at the hefty price of $29.95, shaking my head in shame as I was at the register forking out such dough for a silly costume.

However, it turns out that every store seemed to have several racks of that same Spiderman costume, and it was even on sale for half of what I paid. I was kicking myself!

Of course this year, I was going to learn from my past mistake and not purchase the first costume I came across. Cameron decided this year he would be Darth Vader. If I didn't like the Spiderman idea last year, can you imagine my disappointment in hearing his costume choice! For goodness sake, the boy has never even seen Star Wars! When asked why he wants to be Darth Vader, his matter-of-fact response is, "Because I get to wear a scary mask." Thinking it would be at least cute to have him as Darth Vader and Max as Yoda (I sorta think he has a Yoda-like face), I agreed to his costume choice. And I was really fortunate that the Target ad this week had Darth Vader on sale for a mere $12.95.

But as luck would have it, when we went to purchase the costume, they didn't have his size. We then went to Toys R Us, and again, only large DV costumes were available. I checked on line..only the almost $50 deluxe ones are available...and the baby yoda ones are all sold out.

So tomorrow, after my doctor's appt, while my boys are in school and I'm supposed to take the time to do some school work, I will be hitting every Target within 30 minute driving distance until I find that costume in a size small or medium. Feel free to check your local Target for me. Again...it's a Darth Vader, size small or medium...and a Yoda, size 1-2T. THANKS FOR YOUR HELP!!!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Today I felt like a new person. Why you might ask? Max started "school." So that I could do my required tutoring for my grad class, and to allow me to do shopping, homework, appointments, etc., we decided to have Max attend "school" where Cameron goes 3 mornings a week. It was wonderful! I walked into Starbucks, dressed up in a sweater, skirt and black boots, WITHOUT any kids in tow. I fit in with all the professionals getting their coffee for the day. For once, I didn't feel like a dumpy mom. And it felt good to be back in a school building. I certainly felt refreshed and enjoyed my kids more when I was with them in the afternoon.

Max did okay at daycare. He cried and such as expected, but the teacher said that being his first day, he did pretty well. He even layed down on a cot and went right to sleep at nap time (he NEVER lays down at home unless he's confined to a crib). When I picked him up, Cameron's class wasn't back from their trip yet. So Max and I waited with some other Mom's for our preschoolers to return. Strangely, Max continually walked over to this other mom who he had never seen before, sat on her lap and gave her big hugs. At one point, he almost fell asleep on her shoulder. He always came back to me, but I think he was trying to repay me for abandoning him this morning. "Look Mom, I can leave you, too!"

This evening, I decided to be all June Cleaverlike. The boys and I went to Target and bought a bunch of Halloween decorations.

Here is a picture of the tacky ghosts Cameron and I made that we'll hang on our trees out front.

Here is what Max was doing while Cameron and I were making ghosts. (This was after I had just put everything back into the correct drawers and cabinets). A clean house? I give up.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Home Sweet Home

We finally made it back to Minnesota last night. Somehow I survived the trip home, although it was interesting how many people around us, in the airport and on the airplane, conveniently moved themselves away from my 7 month pregnant self and my sick 15 month old and bored 4 year old. Even on the airplane, the lady next to me who had the aisle seat, managed to find a middle seat to occupy instead of the one next to Max and I. That was perfectly fine with me...gave me more room and I felt less stressed. I only had to worry about Max kicking the seat in front of us, and no longer was concerned about him kicking the lady next to us. I have no problem with people who move away from me. I do have a problem with people who comment, "Boy, you have your hands full." Really? Wow, glad you pointed that out to me.

At one point, when we were waiting in the hot airport, with my 2 very tired children, one with a stinking diaper, I lugged everyone and our stuff into the bathroom for a diaper change, only to discover that there was no changing table. I almost broke down and cried. That's what I REALLY wanted to do. But what good would that have done? So I dragged everything and everyone into the last handicapped stall, and somehow managed to change Max's diaper while he was standing up, both kids putting their hands all over everything they shouldn't have their hands on in the bathroom. But like I said, we survived, and made it home safely.

Now I knew Cameron would have a bit of an adjustment when we came home. After all, he spent the past 2 weeks watching TV and playing on the computer for way too many hours in the day. With no school to attend in NJ, our routine was definitely altered, and yet, I still had a need for some "alone time" to do my homework for my grad class. Mixed with having Max sick and the few days where there was constant rain, the computer and TV were really the only options I gave him. Of course, he didn't complain.

So today, of course, he only wanted to watch TV. Absolutely not! I told him. Why not? was his reply. I finally made him go outside with his dad to help him plant some bushes, while Max napped and I did finished up some homework. After an hour or so, he was back inside.

"Daddy told me to come inside and watch TV," he proclaimed.
"Oh, he did? Now why would he do that?"I asked.
"I don't know," he answered.
"Cameron, why did he tell you to come inside to watch TV?" I persisted.
"Oh, probably so I wouldn't bother him anymore," he responded, "Now can I watch Dragontales?"

And so my four year old son is learning the ways of the world. Irritate someone long enough, and you might just get your way after all.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Dinner Delight

Last night my mom was a saint. Despite the fact that my monsters were sick and cranky, she offered to watch them while I went out to dinner with my cousin, Jen.

I sat there at dinner, feeling somewhat odd. I was actually able to eat. I could taste and enjoy my food. I didn' t have to cut up anyone else's meal, or put away all the shakers, or balance a baby around while trying to stuff food in his mouth, and protect my food at the same time. I could just sit, relax, and enjoy my meal and company. It was heavenly. I honestly can't remember the last time I was able to do that.

Family is great. Too bad I live 1000 miles away from them.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

When It Rains, It Pours

Despite his recovery yesteday, Cameron woke up with a fever again. Max also had a fever. I gave them both medicine, and it seemed to help. I had all intention of taking them down to the beach to at least play in the sand a little bit...get them out of this house and into some fresh air. Except it was raining...almost pouring really.

Then once the rain finally settled down, Max woke up from a nap burning up again. So much for outdoor time.

Tomorrow is another day.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Ocean Air...from inside

Right now I'm stuck in Ocean City, New Jersey. Normally, I would never use the word "stuck" when referring to this island. With the wonderful beaches, the breezy boardwalk, the quaint downtown stores, it's paradise (except that it's a dry town...but go over the bridge and the first place you come to is a liquor store!).

But I'm here with my little monsters in my parent's small condo....which is perfect for them, but disasterous for us. Max is constantly opening every drawer and door he can get his hands on, pulling out all sorts of breakables! So I spend most of my time following him around, picking up after his mess, and hearing him yelp. Yes, I said yelp. He still doesn't say words, but he communicates with this horrible high pitched scream...making him sound like a monkey, or puppy. I can't seem to break him of this habit....even sounds like I'm trying to train a dog doesn't it?

It doesn't help that Cameron is sick...was up at 3 AM with a fever and an odd cough. So any soltice that I'd take today having the kids play at the beach in a "giant sandbox" wasn't going to happen. So we're stuck inside. Thankfully Max is napping now. I think I'll go sit on the front porch and just enjoy the silence...while it lasts.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

In Loving Memory

Helen Mary was born on July 12, 1919 to Polish immigrants John & Marya Eva Dziubczynski. She grew up in Camden, New Jersey with her 8 brothers and sisters (Ed, Paul, Johnny, Stas, Judy, Catherine, Dodie and Lorraine). Helen loved attending Catholic school, and she often played dress-up by wrapping a cloth diaper on her head, pretending to be a nun. She also had a competitive spirit being the best at jacks and jumping rope. Helen was quite the mathematician, and upon her father’s request, she would review his paycheck for accuracy.

Later in life, Helen joined the US Navy. She felt it was her duty like many citizens during that time of War. Helen was a Pharmacist Mate 2-C and even though she had the opportunity to be stationed in many different parts of the country, she chose the Marine Depot in Philadelphia so she could be close to family and friends.

She met the love of her life, Edmund Zbikowski in the neighborhood. Ed was a softie for this woman in uniform, as she walked off the bus to return home from work and passed by the bar each day. Small talk eventually evolved into social weekend gatherings in the town of Dorothy with friends, for a good time laughing, eating and (Helen’s and Ed’s favorite past time) dancing.

Helen and Ed then married on May 11, 1947. To keep that day and memory alive, they had a movie camera that captured many details of that day for their family to enjoy. They honeymooned in our nation’s capital.

On August 30, 1948, Helen and Ed had their first child, James Edmund, who was quite an active child. Then on November 25th, 1951 they were doubly blessed with surprise twins, Robert Edward and Mary Beth. The thought that God does not give you more than you can handle probably crossed her mind a few times during some sleepless nights. Their fourth child, Nancy Beth was born on September 4, 1957, evening out the family now with 2 boys and 2 girls.

There was never a doubt that Helen loved her role as Mother. She was active as Room Mother in school, brownie leader, and Whitman Park snack bar helper. In the snowy winter days, you could see her pulling the sled down Chase Street with the kids in tow. And in the summer, the highlight for the family was the seasonal vacation to Ocean City, which continues on even today.

As her own children grew older and were married, Helen welcomed into her family her sons-in-law (Tom and Mark) and daughters-in-law (Sally and Maria) as her own children. Helen was blessed with many grandchildren (Dana, Cari, Michelle, Jennifer, Heather, Scott, Bobby, Jill, Kim, Justin, Kristen, and Deanna), and several great grandchildren (Chelsea, Brielle, Jared, Kyle, Cameron, Michael, Brody, Krista, and Max). She showered each of her grands and great-grands with the love and affection only a grandmother could provide. Each great-grand child could look forward to a beautiful blanket crocheted by Helen’s own hands.

Although she was 86 years old, Helen took great pride in appearing much younger. Going to aerobics at the Senior Center, walking 4 miles a day (very quickly!), waltzing around the dance floor at weddings, eating healthy foods and wearing stylish fashions, Helen was an inspiration of youthful spirit to everyone.

She was also a wonderful cook—from the traditional Polish dishes of Pierogies, Golabki and Easter Barszcz, to the cookie “traditions” she created in her home of nut cups, butter cookies, and crispy chocolate chips. Besides cooking wonderful meals for her husband every night, she was often calling her children to have them pick up a meal she also made for their family.

Helen also had a canny way with words. Whether it was completing the Cryptogram or the Crosswords, Helen could be found late into the night “doing the puzzles” in the newspaper. She was unbeatable at Boggle, unstoppable at Scrabble, and a whiz at Wheel of Fortune. Her way with words also brought about some fun poetry to read. Each special occasion, a wedding, a birthday, or even a dance recital, was often accompanied by rhyming verses penned by Helen.

But Helen’s greatest attribute was her big heart. Everyone always knew that they were welcome in her home for a wonderful meal, a quick snack or just to chat. And you never left empty handed, usually toting some dessert for later.

Helen truly was an angel here on earth. God placed her here to graciously touch each one of us with so much love and compassion. But He knew her job was complete and was ready to give her a golden place in Heaven. However, she is not truly gone. For she lives on in each of our hearts and through our daily lives. For it is by her example that we know true generosity, pure kindness and nothing but love.