Sunday, March 29, 2009

At a loss

I was writing a blog post in my head last night on my way home from a writing assignment. It was going to be a clever and witty account of the amazing variety I heard on the car radio between Plymouth and home. The most notable selection was Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire, which I have never heard on any radio in my life. That could be a blog post unto itself.

But this morning, I learned of a terrible tragedy in my town, and all the steam has gone out of me. You can read about it here. Be forewarned; it's a horrifying story.

Saraphina Revelus is in Abby's class at school. She survived the attack by her brother, thanks to the quick response and incredible bravery of the Milton Police. But her older and younger sisters died, and Saraphina herself is in the hospital.

We have talked with Abby about it, but it is so hard to help a child understand that which is incomprehensible. For now, Saraphina, her family and their friends are in my thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Friday, March 27, 2009

Back on track

I've changed my weigh-in day to Friday, and am happy to report that I'm down about a pound and a half since I last officially weighed myself at the beginning of the month. This brings my total loss since January to (drum roll, please...) 5.8 pounds.

Considering my stops and starts since January, I'm pretty happy with my progress. This week I've been counting points a la Weight Watchers AND exercising, instead of doing one or the other. The exercise is simply a question of time management, and I've made it a priority this week so it's gotten done. Easy.

I've also been nurturing myself more, spiritually, and that has helped all around. I'm feeling much more in balance again and need to remember that to stay that way, I just need to keep doing what I'm doing -- prioritizing the important things and not getting sucked into time-wasters too much.

A full day ahead, but a trip to the gym is scheduled. Off I go.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Chipped, then chipper

One of our ongoing projects is teaching Abby how to ride a bike. This takes some effort, for a few reasons. Aside from her reluctance, coordination difficulties, strength issues and fear, there's the issue of where to ride. Our driveway isn't suitable, as it's very short and in dire need of repaving.

The neighborhood sidewalks are very bumpy, and we live on a somewhat busy street about halfway down a hill. Someday, when she's more confident, she may want to ride around the neighborhood, but for now, we load her bike, Brian's trike and Timmy's big wheel in the van and take them to a quiet parking lot nearby to ride.

Earl and his parents took the kids a couple of weeks ago, when I had a busy Sunday. They all had fun, but Abby did fall and cut her lip (this, with training wheels on the bike.) Earl said she got right back on and was fine for the rest of the afternoon, and I didn't see any evidence of injury.

Then, about a week ago, I noticed that one of her teeth had a chip in it. It was small, and I spent a couple of days trying to look without letting Abby know what I was doing. I compared it against recent photos, and finally, last Wednesday night, I felt the tooth with my finger. It felt rough, and any doubts were erased from my mind. She had broken off the corner of one of her permanent teeth.

She asked me what I was doing, and I told her that it looked like she'd chipped her tooth. Immediately she started crying, saying she was sorry and saying she didn't mean to do it. I asked her when it happened, and she said, "When I fell off my bike."

Ah, I thought. This explained why she was so reluctant to ride her bike this past weekend.

I asked her why she didn't say anything about it when it happened. She said, "I didn't know until I looked in the mirror," and dissolved into more tears. By this time, I was nearly crying, myself.

I told her I'd call the dentist and we'd get her tooth fixed. It took a good 15 minutes to calm her down, and I had to assure her multiple times that no one was mad at her, that accidents happen and that it could be fixed pretty easily. She finally settled down.

We usually take the kids to the dental clinic at Children's Hospital, so that's where we went. Dr. Carrie fixed Abby's tooth beautifully, and Abby handled the appointment, the drilling and the filling like a champ. The break only involved the enamel, so she didn't have to have her tooth numbed for the procedure, which certainly helped.

Now her smile is back to normal, and she's smiling more again. Hopefully we'll be able to get her back on the bike again soon, and she'll be able to keep herself on it. That will give us all something to smile about.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hop hop

Back to "family fun" time yesterday. Easy-peasy little bunny ears craft project. Note Brian's Faberge egg. Abby didn't want hers in the photo, but she's the only one with her eyes fully open, so I'll let it go this time.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Rusalka preview

The Patriot Ledger ran my preview of the Boston Lyric Opera's production of Dvorak's Rusalka today.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


I had my annual physical today. Blood pressure is still low; weight is still high. I needed a tetanus shot and they threw in diphtheria and pertussis for good measure. My autism-mama self didn't like the idea of three vaccines in one shot, but I figured my immune system is probably well-developed by now and could handle it.

My doctor, an exceedingly mild-mannered and lovely woman, gently broached the weight topic.

"You've gained some weight..." she began, gently.

"I know, I know, and I hate it," I said. "I'm working on it."

We discussed medical reasons that could be at least partly responsible for the weight gain, and tossed around some ideas, like increased exercise and possibly consulting with the on-staff nutritionist, that could help. I left the office full of resolve.

For the past few weeks, it's seemed like I could either watch my diet or exercise regularly. Today I decided I have to do both. I did mostly OK with it -- fitting in a quick workout before my doctor's appointment and managing the intake pretty well. I haven't stepped on the scale in a couple of weeks because I've been afraid to, but I will definitely get on it next week, no matter how painful it might be.

This is my last-ditch effort to do this on my own. Next stop: the nutritionist's office.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Make mine a double

I wish I could just hop in the van and pull up to the writers' inspiration joint drive-thru.

"I'll take an inspiration value meal, heavy on the humor, please."

"Anything to drink?"

"No, but I'll take a side of resonance and I'll need extra napkins, please. This could get messy."

I often joke that I can write about anything, once I have a topic. Music, kids, heirloom-quality furniture, books, rare diseases, Christmas-tree recycling, real estate, basement waterproofing, you name it, I can write about it. There are lots of topics I haven't tried, of course, but if I understand something, I can write about it so that others can, too.

And yet, sometimes, when faced with a column deadline about the one topic I know better than anyone else -- my family -- sometimes I come up empty. I have a deadline on Friday, and as my sister would say, I got nothin'.

It's not that nothing has been going on; it's just that I'm having a hard time picking any one thing and expanding it to 500 words. Lots of little things: Abby is home sick from school today; I've started practicing again with all three kids; the kids are so excited about their new baby cousin; Timmy had a bit of a toilet-training relapse a couple of weeks ago; we had a mouse in the house last week (eek!); Abby told me that we have chicken for dinner too much. But while a potpourri approach can work for a blog post, I can't see it in a column.

I suppose the thing to do is just to pick something and try. And if that doesn't work, try something else.

Either that, or maybe I could call the fire department again.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Time warp

It's been more than a week since we turned the clocks ahead for daylight savings time, and I'm still stuck on standard time. The dark mornings that made me feel so virtuous in January, for getting up so early, now just feel dark. It's too early to be up.

It's not that I haven't tried to adjust. I went to bed early almost every night last week, sometimes as early as 8:30. And yet, when the alarm went off in the morning, I couldn't find the snooze button fast enough.

The time changes in the fall and the spring never used to bother me. I'd just get up at the new time and go about my day an hour earlier or later than before. But as I get older, it's getting harder to make the adjustment. I don't bounce like I used to.

The boys seem to have adjusted pretty well. Brian and Timmy are sleeping a little later than they had been before the change, and that's okay. It just means we have to move a little faster on school mornings.

Abby, however, has gone into hyper-time. For the past few mornings, she's woken up long before anyone else in the house. Today at 4:30, I heard her poking around in her room, and went upstairs to find her wide awake and reading a Junie B. Jones book.

"Abby, what are you doing up?" I asked her.

"Reading," she answered. (Ask a silly question....)

"It's 4:30!" I exclaimed in a whisper.

"I looked at the clock," she replied calmly, innocently.

I tried again. "Abby, it's 4:30 in the morning. It's too early to be up. Get in bed and go back to sleep."

"Okay," she said.

I don't know if she slept, but she was quiet for an hour or so; an hour in which Earl informed me that he thinks Abby needs a later bedtime and then promptly resumed his snoring. The other highlight of the hour was my hitting the snooze button at least three times before I gave up and got up, myself.

Now, after coffee, I'm feeling a little less sluggish. Maybe this early-morning time warp will be what helps me finally adjust to daylight savings time. Or maybe I'll just take a nap.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Today's family column

Here's this weekend's family column, from the Patriot Ledger. Two weeks after the fact, one of my neighbors finally asked me, "What was with the fire trucks?"

And she didn't even mention the gas company, the chimney sweeps, or the plumber....

(Shout-out to Milton Engine #4: you guys were great. Thank you for not making me feel any sillier than I already did!)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Meet my new nephew!

Elijah Asher Moore
Born March 11, 2009
8 pounds, 8 ounces; 21.5 inches
Happy and healthy and a blessing to us all

Monday, March 9, 2009

Monday morning update

A few things:

Earl found a copy of South Shore Living magazine for me yesterday. (What a guy!) The article looks good, although it has fewer photos than I thought it might. What a thrill to see my byline in a new place!

I do need to think about getting a new headshot, though. For the contributors page, I gave them the last singer photo I had done, and while it's a gorgeous picture, it was taken about 10 years ago, and doesn't reflect current reality. I'll get on that. Right after I lose these last 25 pounds or so.

Yesterday was a glorious, glorious day. Warm sunshine, temperatures in the 60s, a perfect day for a walk, so that is what we did. My sister brought over her boxer and we and the kids all took the dog for a walk. A long one; poor Brian was really tired by the end of it. We walked around the neighborhood for a while and ended up on a little trail near Pine Tree Brook. In retrospect, it wasn't the greatest idea I've ever had. The trail was a boggy, muddy mess in spots, and Timmy and Brian did more splashing than careful treading. Hopefully their sneakers are dried out for today.

On the other hand, it's raining so hard this morning that they'll probably have to wear boots to school, anyway. The weatherman promised a "wintry mix" today. I say, nix on the mix. If it must precipitate, let's just have rain. Bring on the spring!

I noticed a few green shoots in the perennial garden yesterday, and a chive revival in my herb patch. Hooray! Other than those, the only green to be found was in the patches of moss that we saw on our walk. But what a beautiful green it was!

My family is holding its collective breath these days; my sister-in-law is scheduled to have her baby on Wednesday. She and the baby have been closely monitored throughout her pregnancy and, other than a breech presentation which will likely result in a c-section on Wednesday, everything looks good.

It's been a roller-coaster ride for my brother and sister-in-law, having lost a baby to stillbirth a little over two years ago. We are all hopeful that the story will have a happy ending -- really a happy beginning -- this time.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sourth Shore Living Magazine article

My first piece for South Shore Living Magazine is in the March/April issue. I wrote the Open House feature, a profile of Onabank, the mansion built by the Cabot family as a summer home in Cohasset, Mass.

The website doesn't put content online, unfortunately, but here is the link to the page. It's available on newsstands and by subscription only. If I ever get my hands on a copy, maybe I'll scan it and put it up here.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

T.T.T. Yippee!

Finally, some real success. The scale moved in the right direction, and I've lost 6 pounds since Sunday, when I started doing Weight Watchers (on my own) again. This brings my net weight loss since January 1st to...4 pounds. Sigh.

No matter. I'm on the wagon again, and successfully resisted a tray of cupcakes last night, although they were calling my name, and very sweetly, at that.

I have not been exercising this week, but am not beating myself up about it. I will get there. Baby steps. Things Take Time.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Writing, writing

I'm very excited about a couple of writing projects that have come my way. Both are off the radar in terms of byline; they're marketing materials and web copy, so my name won't be on them. Still, I'm very excited that this work is coming in. It's fun, it's relatively easy, the pay is generally better and I'm learning a lot.

Some of this is similar to some of the writing I did at a former full-time job, but there's a huge difference in perspective. I like being a consultant much, much better than being an employee. There are several reasons: I make my own schedule; I choose my own projects; and I don't have to jump through hoops to please a boss because it's really about the work, not about the personalities involved. One former boss forbade anyone in the office to wear purple, for example. Woe was me on the day I wore the color for the first time, not having been advised of the rule. It's that kind of nonsense I just cannot deal with, and I'm very glad to be writing on my terms and not having to put up with it any more.

And now, I must get ready to do one of my other jobs; my first piano student will be here shortly. I love teaching privately for many of the same reasons I love being an independent writer.

Thank goodness I figured out that I work best, and most happily, when I work for myself.

Monday, March 2, 2009

A musical weekend

We took the kids to not one, but two musical events this weekend. On Saturday, we attended "Green Eggs and Hamadeus," a program featuring Boston Musica Viva and Rob Kapilow performing selections from Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and Kapilow's own musical/theatrical setting of Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham.

It was a good program, and the kids enjoyed it, but we never would have gone if we hadn't been able to get free tickets through the boys' dance studio. Not that we wouldn't have wanted to go -- but with children's seats starting at $17, it's an expensive proposition for a family of five.

The kids liked it; Abby and Timmy more so than Brian, who seemed to disengage quite a bit during the performance. This surprised me; Brian is very musical and loves Dr. Seuss, so I thought he'd really be into it. He did pay attention but not to the extent that his siblings did.

On Sunday, we attended a family concert of the Plymouth Philharmonic. The big hit of the afternoon was the pre-concert instrument demonstration. The kids had a blast seeing -- and in some cases, playing -- the instruments.

Abby, trying to smile for the camera and bow the double bass simultaneously

Brian trying out the glockenspiel. The teddy bear on his head was visiting us from preschool for some weekend adventures.

Timmy the trombonist

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Forward, March

I haven't done a T.T.T. update in a while. That's because I've fallen off the wagon and have been flailing in a ditch filled with excess calories ever since.

From my dad's homemade cookies to Pontillo's pizza, I indulged in the best Rochester had to offer during my vacation last week, and never went to the Y once, although I had packed workout clothes. In fact, no exercise has been done in nearly two weeks. I was in survival mode this past week, with Earl in Florida, and also had lots of writing to do, so I didn't take the time.

Earl is back now, my deadlines are met, and I've at least been able to exercise some eating restraint since Wednesday, when Lent began. With today being March 1st, however, I've decided I need to create more structure for myself, since the freewheeling approach hasn't been working very well.

So, inspired by my plump arms and several pairs of pants that don't fit, I am officially counting points, a la Weight Watchers, starting today. It's a more drastic measure, but it's the only thing I have used recently that actually works.

With things back to normal in my house, or as close as they ever get, I'm going to get back to my exercise routine. I feel better when I'm exercising regularly, and it helps with managing my time, too, since I have to prioritize my exercise time and fit everything else in around that.

I'm feeling strong this morning, and hope my newly found resolve will carry me through the day, at least.