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.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Calling in the bloodhounds

In case you didn’t know…..If your 2 year old son decides not to drink his full sippy cup of milk while lying in your room watching TV, and instead, unbeknownst to you, decides to hide it , after about a week, the entire upstairs of your house will suddenly begin smelling like fresh vomit, and you’ll spend the much of the morning and afternoon shoving your nose into everything trying to sniff out the culprit, until you find the now cottage cheese-like substance resting behind the armoire on top of the heating vent.

Just thought you needed to know.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007


My kids know just how to tug at my heart strings.

This morning, Cameron was up at 5:30, and Max was up at 5:45. Groggily, I boiled some water for their instant oatmeal, with all intentions of crashing on the couch while they ate. Instead, as soon as I started to lie down, Cameron came over to me with the sweetest voice, handing me the dinosaur book I bought him yesterday and asked so sweetly, “Mommy, can I read this book to you?” He KNOWS that I LOVE when he reads to me…not at 6 AM, but I’ll take it whenever I can get it. So I didn’t even hesistate with an “Of course.” And for the next 30 minutes, I struggled to keep my eyes open while learning all about baby dinosaurs.

After dinner, while Cameron and Max were working on a Dora puzzle together, I really needed to get some of their lasagna mess cleaned up, but Ella wouldn’t let me. She crawled over to me, nestled herself in my lap, and then kept turning around to push her forehead against mine, smiling and laughing. Then she started clapping and “singing.” The dishes had to wait.

Later, we were watching Happy Feet in the movie room. I really wanted to just settle in and watch it, but the family room had toys strewn all over it, the dinner dishes were still on the table, and 2 loads of laundry needed to be put away. I managed to sneak away for a little bit, but kept coming downstairs to check on the kiddos. One of the times I peeked in for a moment and was about to head back upstairs to do some work when Cameron wandered over to me and asked in that sweet little voice again, “Mommy, can I sit on your lap?” Again, I couldn’t resist, and we snuggled together, watching the penguins dance and sing (until Max joined us and insisted on wedging himself between Cameron and me so that he too could sit on my lap).

And right now…after ten o’clock, I have Max sitting next to me. He had a long nap today, which means going to bed is nothing but a chore. Usually I do the up and down routine…bringing him back up to his bed, lying down with him for a little bit, getting him something to drink, threatening him, etc. But tonight he stopped in the toy room, brought his Whack A Mole game over to where I was working and asked, “Can you please play game wif me?” Again, my heart melted, and we proceed to clobber the little moles, and also play a little fishing game, and punched numbers in on a calculator.

So I’m very tired, my reviews are not done, the kitchen is not clean, the laundry is not put away and my 2 year old is still awake, yawning, but awake with his head resting on my arm. But really, what’s more important? I put my kids off enough to do all the stuff I feel I need to do. But today, their needs came first.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007


I’m TRYING to be a better housewife. Even though the term housewife makes my skin crawl, and it’s something I said I’d never be, I decided to just throw in the towel, admit that’s what I am and try to fulfill some of my duties. So I began the whole “make real meals” initiative. And so far, my Sandra Lee semi-homemade cookbook has produced some delicious dinners. I’m actually somewhat enjoying it.

And I’ve been TRYING to keep things cleaned up better….at least having the kitchen clean by the time Melvin gets home at night. In order to do this I have to have the kids out of the way. So tonight while Cameron was watching Scooby Doo, Max and Ella went down the basement to play while I cleaned the kitchen. I must admit, I did hear a lot of noise and banging, but since I didn’t hear screaming from either of my little munchkins, I ignored the clatter so that I could finish cleaning without having anyone try to empty my dirty dishwasher or pull food out of the pantry, etc. Instead of checking, I just yelled down to Max and asked if Ella was okay. She let out a squeal of delight, and he hollered back, “She okay!” And the noise continued.

When I was done, I made my way down the basement. And this is what I found:

He had been throwing every toy he could find in one big pile. When I asked Max why he made such a mess, his ingenious response was, “’Cause.”

So while one room was cleaned….another was ruined.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

She can't walk, but she can reach.

One more inch, and we're in trouble.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Traveling through pages

When I’m flying, and I don’t have portable DVDs I have to arrange, snacks I have to distribute, cups of juice I have to fill up, feet I have to keep pushing off the seat in front of them, and screams I need to tone down….

I can actually READ (and even sleep a little).

I finished 2 books on my flight to and from Philadelphia without the kids. They’re Young Adult books to review for my grad project, and they both were wonderful.

Laurie Halse Anderson is back at the top of her game with her newest novel Twisted. If you loved Speak (and I don’t know anyone who didn’t), then you will enjoy this story of a high school boy just as much. She writes it in the same sarcastic style and does not try to sugar-coat what actually goes on with boys in high schools today.

Cynthia Lord's book Rules is a well-crafted story of what it is like to live with an autistic sibling. The main character struggles to be a "normal" teenager, while also trying to protect her brother who most kids just think is "strange."

And this book wasn’t one I read this weekend, but one I read recently that was beautifully written, but hard to “digest.” Sold, by Patricia McCormick details one young girl's experience as she becomes the victim of sexual exploitation in India. It’s absolutely heartbreaking, but important to read.

If you haven’t discovered Young Adult literature for your adolescent or yourself…I highly suggest you pick up one of these texts and (re)discover the joy of a good book!

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Saturday, March 24, 2007


Look what I found:

An adult juice box!
The only thing that's missing is the straw.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Racing out the door

It's almost 10 PM. At 5:30 AM tomorrow, I'm supposed to leave here to catch an airplane to the East Coast. I haven't even begun to pack yet. But I'm only packing for one!

I'm running a half-marathon with my friend Lanette in Central Park. Being the slacker that I am, I've hardly trained and am not really prepared. But I figure once you've run 26.2 miles, 13.1 should be a piece of cake.....right?

Of course the race is just an excuse for us to talk for a few hours without interruptions. And a couple chocolate martini's afterwards....but only a couple this time!

I wonder if it will be harder for me to run this half marathon, or harder for my husband to take care of all three kids all weekend by himself. Hmmmm. I guess it will depend on whether the screamfests occur with him as much as they do with me. What do you think?

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Here’s the problem with my hair "spalon."

Everyone who works there is incredibly skinny. They have flawless skin. They of course all have perfect, trendy hair styles. Their clothes are super stylish. And they’re all unbelievably gorgeous.

So despite how much time and money I spent there having my eyebrows waxed and my hair cut and highlighted…..

I always leave the beauty salon feeling nothing but UGLY!!!!


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

When I grow up...

Let me begin with the disclaimer that my kids can be whatever they want to be, as long as they’re happy. My husband would prefer (insist) that they all be doctors….OB-GYNs of course…all part of his practice. And that would be marvelous. But if their behaviors and interests as children indicate anything, it might take more convincing than his insistence. If I had to base their careers on how they act today, this is how it would all work out.

Ella – She will be a director. She likes for anyone to hold her, and then she points to what she wants, directing us where to go, expecting us to follow her every need and desire.

Cameron – Cameron is smart. He has so many questions and really wants to understand things. And he remembers everything. All the makings of a doctor of course. But he also loves to show Max how to do things. If he’s looking at a book with him, he’ll ask him questions, in this high-pitched teacher voice. “Max, how many animals do you see on this page? And what colors are they?” The other day when I was (unsuccessfully) trying to show Max how to write some letters, Cameron sensed my frustration. He independently pulled out a piece of paper and made direction steps for how to write each letter. And today, when Max and I were counting, Cameron made number cards for him. He gets more excited than I do when Max gets something right. He definitely has the makings of a teacher.

Max – Well, this is an interesting case. The boy likes to eat, and he’ll try anything. So food critic could be one choice. But he also likes to work in his “kitchen,” and will spend an hour pretending to make food. So he could be a chef one day. But he’s also very stubborn, won’t accept no for an answer, is very good about telling (as opposed to asking) you what he’s going to do and is very confident about his decisions. He also keeps late hours, often up until after ten o’clock (lying in his bed just talking to himself or continually coming down to check on what I’m doing), up a few times through the night, and then still awake when everyone else gets up in the morning. Max….yeah, he’ll definitely be the doctor…and an OB-GYN at that!

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Monday, March 19, 2007

I wish.

Each day Cameron has a writing workshop time at school where he draws a picture and writes 2 to 3 sentences. I usually ask him each day what he writes about. It’s often about how “node” (naughty) Max and Ella are, some even that’s happening in the house or about some robot he’s drawing. I knew that he would write about my birthday, so I prompted him on what he should say. How does this sound:

Today is my mom’s birthday. She is 34 years old. But I think she looks 24.

Think his teacher will know I told him to write that?

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Irish Eyes are....confused

Ever try to explain one’s heritage to a five year old? Don’t bother.

“Hey Cameron, today is St. Patrick’s Day.”

“I know.”

“Did you know that you’re part Irish. You’re one eighth Irish.”

“I’m the 8th Irish person?” he asked a little excited.

“No Cameron, one eighth; that means you’re part Irish.”

“I don’t understand. When I’m eight I’m Irish?”

At this point I considered just dropping it, but thought I’d attempt to explain fractions using the prop they always use in school.

“No. No. No. Think of it as a pizza. We’re all pizzas made up of different slices that come from our parents. Like my dad’s mom’s family is from Ireland, so her pizza is all Irish. But my dad’s dad was German, so my dad’s pizza is half German and half Irish. And then my mom’s pizza is all Polish, so then my pizza is ½ Polish, ¼ German and ¼ Irish. So then your pizza has slices from my pizza and Daddy’s pizza. And one slice of all your 8 slices is Irish.”

At this point, I did realize that my explanation was going no where.

He looked at me completely puzzled. “You mean it’s all about pizza?”

“Never mind.”

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Friday, March 16, 2007

My light source

Yesterday morning Max was joking around with me telling me that he was my brother, or he was my sister, or he was my mother, etc.

I looked at him and said, “You’re not my mother, silly. You’re my son!”

He smiled back and responded, “I’m not your son, I’m your MOON!”

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Not my genes

Ever wish you could take something about your young child and just freeze it…hoping it will stay with them forever?

Today I just want to capture this moment.

When my two sons were begging me to let them clean. Mind you, it was their bedtime so they might have just been stalling, and they seem to have no desire to clean up their toy room. But give them a wet rag, a broom and a dustpan, and are in their glory in my kitchen, wiping the table, the cabinets, Ella’s high chair, sweeping the floor, etc.

I figure this excitement to clean up will not last very long, so I just want to treasure it today.

The only thing that would make this moment even better is if Max's vacuum, which makes all the noise of the real appliance, actually worked.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Good enough to eat?

Today Ella was feeling well enough to play. She even fiddled around with the Play-doh while Max was using it to make “noodles” and “bacon” and “sausage.” After about 20 minutes she became bored with it and started to eat it instead. Not just lick it, but chew on it!

“No Ella!” I told her over and over, as she proceeded to smile and quickly try to sneak some in her mouth before I grabbed it from her.

Max tried to come to her defense. “Mommy, it’s okay!” he informed me. “She can eat it. I gave her food.”

Ugh. Please don’t tell me my child actually thinks he’s making real noodles with the play-doh.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

As if Ella did not have a miserable enough weekend with her vomiting and diarrhea....Right after I finished my blog last night, she was playing with her brother’s new tricycle and it tipped over, smashing her face into the corner of the shelf in our family room.

She had a scrape on her cheek, and blood oozing from her upper and lower lip and inside her mouth. The poor thing was in so much pain and screamed for quite some time.

Today she was a little swollen, but not as bad as I thought. But she felt the pain, and I had to load her up with Motrin and Tylenol all day.

Over night she had also developed a runny nose, was sneezing, and a had horrible cough. She looked so pathetic and was extremely lethargic; I finally took her to the pediatrician.

Diagnosis: Ear infection in each ear!

Poor thing….she seems to have it all right now.

As Cameron would say with his new-found vocabulary he learned from the older kids on his bus….. It sucks!

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Sunday, March 11, 2007


2 to 5 – The hours Ella was awake Saturday morning vomiting.

10 – The total number of times she vomited on Saturday.

6 – Number of PJ changes for Ella.

3 – Number of shirt changes for me.

4 – Loads of laundry done to clean all the sheets, comforters, towels, etc. Ella threw up on. (Plus a down comforter I need to take to the dry cleaner).

#? – Too many to keep track – The number of diarrhea diapers changed on Sunday.

3 – Number of baths Ella had today on Sunday due to diarrhea leaking.

0 – Number of showers I took this entire weekend.

50+ -- The degrees it was outside.

0 – Number of hours I got to spend enjoying the warmer weather.

I hope next weekend produces more positive stats.

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Friday, March 09, 2007


“So Cameron, who was your sub yesterday?”

“Mrs. Hanson.”

“Did you like her?”

“Yeah, she was pretty.”

I had never heard him use that word to describe someone else except Ella and myself before.

“Did you say she looked pretty?”


“What does she look like?”

“She has long blonde hair. She looks like Mrs. Hoel.” (his regular teacher)

“And do you think Mrs. Hoel is pretty?”

A brief pause. “Yeah.”

“And do you think I am pretty?”

LONG pause.

“Hello! I’m asking you a question here. Do you think your mommy’s pretty?”

More of a pause. “Well, when you wear sparkly clothes you are.”

“What about right now?”

Silence. “Not really with that hat. I think you look funny.”

Cameron used to say he wanted to marry me….but I think he’s moved on to better and younger things.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

If only they could always be like this.

Here's a rare moment when Cameron is not teasing Max and Max is not screaming for whatever Cameron has in his possession.

Whoever said watching TV isn't quality family time has never been to my house.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


During Max’s “After Hours” time, (that’s what I call it when he decides to make a visit after I already put him to bed), he often wants to do whatever I’m doing. Tonight, when I was drinking my wine, he wanted some grape Kool-aid. When he sees me typing on my laptop, he wants his Barney “computer” When I’m reading a text for my grad project, he, too, wants to be turning the pages of a novel…not one of his books, but one of MY books.

The other night he seemed quite interested in this year's Newbery Award winner, The Higher Power of Lucky. Despite the hastened ending, it's a heart-warming story.

Oh, gasp, some of you may be thinking. If you read the New York Times or have any interest or connection whatsoever with middle level readers, then you know that my son is reading a very controversial book.

This novel, which received the highest honor for books for young readers has the word SCROTUM in it……Gasp! Oh, wait, there’s more…because the word SCROTUM is in the book not just once, not just twice, but THREE times!

Goodness, if this is what my children will be reading, I might need to start burning my whole library! Wouldn’t want to corrupt them with realistic terms for parts of their body. What a travesty.

(For an interesting and more realistic portrayal of this book, read Young Adult author Scott Westerfeld's response to the NY Times article here...scroll down to Feb. 19th).

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Oh Max.

I guess I don't need to teach Max table manners.......

He prefers the floor.

I wonder if his cereal tastes better down there. Never a dull moment....never.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

A change...I hope

Today I had a life changing moment……

I stepped on a scale.

Because ours has been broken (thanks to Max of course), I haven’t stepped on one in a couple weeks, and somehow, in the past 2 weeks, I’ve gained 8 pounds!!!! Now how does one do this? Especially when one has been working out more, semi-training for a ½ marathon on March 25th?

Oh yeah, I’m getting older, I eat like total crap, and I’ve been drinking red wine every night, accompanied with a whole bunch of salty munchies…like last night I had an entire bag of Orville Reddenbachers Movie Theater Butter popcorn. Yeah, that might all be contributing to my sudden weight gain. The strange thing is, I sorta felt my jeans were getting tighter, but I honestly was thinking that they had shrunk a little. Funny how ones mind can do that.

So today I decided to do something about it.

Melvin said it is MY responsibility to make sure HE works out every other day. So I made the rule that WE canNOT have any wine until we work out. And I’m very serious about this!

I went to the gym, which I usually do on Mondays. I did my Boot Camp class and ran 3 miles afterwards. And then tonight, I even did a 10 minute abs workout from Comcast On-Demand. (and right now I’m sipping my wine!)

I bought only healthy snacks at the store today. Now I just have to figure out what to do with all these Girl Scout cookies we ordered from all those darlings who graced my doorstep.

I bought a couple cookbooks (Sandra Lee), so instead of Burger King, Tyson’s Honey-battered chicken fingers (SO GOOD), and hotdogs, I would start cooking better meals.

Now, as I completed this last step today, I was very motivated. But you know me…cook? Come on! That’s so domestic! So I tried to find a book that a.) would have recipes that my picky self and my kids would eat, b.) had pictures for every recipe so that I would want to cook it, and c.) had fairly quick recipes. Choosing the book wasn’t hard. But actually using the book…well today I was reminded yet again why I prefer take out to a home-cooked-by me meal.

1. Ingredients….I do NOT have most of the items needed for a particular recipe. So that means a trip to the store.
2. Once I’m at the store, then I need to actually find the ingredients. In fact, after looking at every single sign posted, I had to just break down and feel like a fool, asking a customer near me in the produce department what a scallion was. She quickly pointed to these weed-like things that looked like what I used to pull from our backyard when I was little. They said onions, not scallions…who knew! Then I had to find things like sesame seeds, and sesame seed oil. And I couldn’t find for the life of me Kikoman Asian Chicken salad dressing mix. I had to completely guess what this might be and find some alternative, since it seemed to be the main flavoring ingredient for the rice. It took me over an hour to shop for one dinner…plus a few extra things for the week.
3. The recipe itself could be very confusing for a noncook like me. For example, I had NO IDEA what it mean to bias slice the scallions, nor did I know what it meant to place something on a “prepared” baking sheet. But I had resources, and thanks to Sara’s friend Sheena, I learned that to bias slice something, you actually are cutting in an angle (yeah, but am I just cutting the green part, or the white onion looking thing at the bottom as well?)
4. The chicken recipe said it would take 20 minutes total….10 minutes to prepare it, and 10 to bake it. Baking it was fine. But 20 minutes to prepare it was a joke…yeah, maybe if all those ingredients were pre-measured in little glass bowls (like on TV), 10 minutes might have been a close estimate. But it took over 10 minutes just to chop up four cups of pretzels! Then I had to cut up chicken, brush it was mustard (except I had no brush), roll it around in the crushed pretzels and place it on that baking sheet that I “prepared” with foil and cooking spray. It took over 30 minutes to prepare the meal for the oven…and this was mostly with no kid interruptions since Sara was here.
5. I think what I hate most about cooking is the clean up. I HATE cleaning anything. Take out requires little if any cleaning…restaurants require none! So all the plates and bowls and utensils accumulating around me to make this dinner required cleaning time…uggh!
6. If it is turns out to be good, there will be no leftovers to force on anyone tomorrow, and I’ll have to figure out what to do for dinner again.
7. And if it is a hit, I will actually be expected to make it again…plus more from the same book! I’ll be expected to hang up my undomestic crown and possibly dawn an apron! I’m not sure what I think of that! Plus, I’ll actually have to plan out meals to make sure I get to the store for all the ingredients….oh I’m getting woozy just thinking about it.

The meal, Pretzel--Crusted Chicken with Honey Mustard Sauce and chicken with Sesame Brown Rice (from Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Cooking Made Light, p. 146 &199) and some broccoli was G—O—O—D! Max and Ella liked it, Cameron tolerated the chicken but didn’t like the rice (no surprise there), and Melvin really liked it…as did I. Usually when I cook something from a cookbook, it neither looks like the picture, nor does it seem to have any flavor. But I must say, I really enjoyed this meal.

So like I said, now I have to problem of having to keep this up. We’ll see how this goes. I always have the greatest of intentions…it’s the follow-through that I need to work on. Tomorrow night? What meal might I attempt?

None…Tuesday night is date night…whatever restaurant Melvin and I end up at. Or since we plan to see a movie…REAL movie theater popcorn, with extra butter will probably be my dinner….so much for my life-changing moment.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


Friday was my husband’s birthday….35 years young!

Because we were snow bound for a couple days prior, I had a lot of last minute shopping to do while he was at work…and I had the three kids.

At the grocery store, the kids were surprisingly good. They each picked out a birthday balloon for their daddy, which kept them quite happy going up and down the aisles of Cub Foods. Cameron chose the biggest one, Max chose a Dora one, and I chose one for Ella…it said “It’s not your age, it’s your attitude.” Cameron’s balloon ended up where most of our helium balloons ascend to, hovering at the top of our 20 foot ceilings in our family room (the last time this happened, the balloon remained there for over 3 months...I hope this one is not of such high quality).

For most of the day, the boys worked on making picture presents for their daddy.

Max made a really great picture with all kinds of paint, markers, googly eyes, and puffy balls….and then he decided to cut the whole thing up. Cameron told him he must be making a puzzle, and Max was very excited about getting to carry around a Ziploc baggie of paper shreds for his daddy. Cameron took a lot of time to make a miniature Melvin, complete with blue scrubs, and he wrote him a note that said, “Daddy you are the best daddy in the whole wide world 35 years old guy.” It was all very cute.

When Cameron wasn’t creating pictures for his dad’s presents, he was working on another present for him…..completing pages in his “math homework book” (a workbook Melvin bought him one time). I couldn’t even take a shower without that boy interrupting me to ask me how to do the next page…and the next page…and the next page. I think he completed about 20 pages in all.

Before Melvin and I snuck out for the evening, we lit all 35 candles, and the kids helped him blow them out. After singing happy birthday to his dad, Max managed to continually sing it to the rest of us as well.

Once Sara was able to brave the snowy streets and arrive at our house to watch the kids who were all strung out on cake sugar, Melvin and I headed to our destination for the evening.

Did we go to some fancy schmancy dinnery place? Or some chic new club? Or to some terrific bluesy concert? NOPE!

We went to the Waterpark of America! This may sound strange to some of you, but we go to water parks a lot (especially since we only live 2 ½ hours from Wisconsin Dells and we now own a condo there). However, we NEVER get to go on all the cool slides because of our kiddos. Even Cameron is still afraid of the bigger slides, and Max and Ella are way too small for them. So for his birthday, Melvin and I celebrated by slipping and sliding around the largest Indoor Waterpark in America.

It was very fun.

But I have to admit that I did feel a tinge of guilt because ever since this place has opened Cameron has been asking to go there. If he ever knew that we went without him that night…he’d really would probably break down in tears. But the guilt was not enough to keep us from going without him and enjoying ourselves.

So to end this post, I’ll do as I did last year for his birthday…with a cheesy acrostic poem.

M—Melt my heart
E—Everything I need
L—Living and Working for his family
V—Very fine
N—Needing his wine.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Digging Out

Snow has fallen.

I'm not sure how much, but enough to close schools 2 hours early and to cancel it tomorrow.

Enough to cancel Max & Ella's music class in the morning.

Enough for me to cancel Sara coming today (and you know it's got to be bad for me to do that).

Enough for my husband to have a quiet day on call....as no one will be going to the hospital for "emergencies" unless they are actually really having a baby.

Enough for me not to leave the house. Just the thought of driving in snow makes my stomach turn.

Enough for the boys of the house to go outside and shovel...although if you looked out there right now, so much more snow has fallen, you'd never know they had cleared the driveway.

Enough for the girls of the house to stay inside and keep warm.

I think total we're supposed to get about 18 inches. If we're really lucky, Melvin's clinic will be closed tomorrow, and he'll get to spend his birthday with us all day. Not sure if he'll consider that lucky, but we sure would.

So far, March has come in like a Lion.