Sunday, December 26, 2010

Vocabulary Builder Sunday

It isn't every day I learn two new and impressive words. Mark this one on your calendars, folks.

It started out with a weather forecast this morning. I don't usually tune in, but there had been some mention of a blizzard, and I wanted to see whether that was still on the menu.



I then heard the TV weather guy say a fancypants word that was totally new to me: bombogenesis.

The meteorologist explained that it had to do with a rapid decrease in barometric pressure, which, under certain conditions, could make for some very nasty weather, indeed. We're experiencing the result of the process embodied by that fancy word today. The snow is coming down thick and fast, with no end in sight tonight.

The other word, unrelated to the storm, is Zimbelstern. I had been surprised on Christmas Eve by a tinkly bell sound during the final refrain of the Gloria. I heard it again this morning during one of the hymns, and I asked the music director about it after mass. I am now enlightened, and will be looking for ways to work this wonderful word into a column or article in the near future (it isn't likely, but I can try.)

***
Not a new word, but a new concept that also came into my life today is the USB lamp. My sister and brother-in-law gave this to me as a Christmas gift, and it is the greatest little thing, especially for those of us whose eyesight isn't what it used to be. It definitely falls into the category of "things I didn't know I needed."

***
Here ends the vocabulary lesson for today.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Today's Milton Musings had me reflecting on the family history on my Christmas tree. Hope your holiday was merry and bright, too.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Merry Christmas from the Fays!

Earl and I are pleased to offer our third annual "green" Christmas card for your viewing pleasure. Featured this year: the Fay Jingle Choir. From left, Brian, Abby, Timmy. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mom's pumpkin bread

My December 18 column for GateHouse references my mother's pumpkin bread recipe, which I am pleased to share, below.

Mom's Pumpkin Bread

2/3 c shortening (Mom is very specific: NOT butter, NOT margarine)
2 2/3 c sugar
4 eggs
1 16-oz. can pumpkin
2/3 c water
3 1/3 c flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
2/3 c chopped nuts
2/3 c raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix shortening and sugar thoroughly with an electric mixer. Add eggs, pumpkin and water and mix. Add flour, soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and cloves and mix. Stir in nuts and raisins. Pour into 2 well-greased, 9" loaf pans. Bake 65-70 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

***
These breads are REALLY sweet. If you like them that way, go for it. I've been experimenting with a little less sugar, but I do like them sweet, too! I also use double the amount of nuts and raisins (Mom uses walnuts; I used pecans the last time and they were delish! I also like to use golden raisins, which do not turn bitter when they're baked. Of course, you can make the breads without either, which is how I bake them for my children, who are fussy that way.)

Like all nut breads, these taste best the day after they're made, once the nuts have released some of their oils. Mmmmmm.

These breads freeze well, and make nice little gifts when baked in mini-loaf pans (for less time...I usually just watch them so I don't have a baking time for that!)

***
I plan to do my second pumpkin-bread baking extravaganza this weekend, and will post a picture when I've got some finished breads to show. Enjoy!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Good news

I'm very pleased to share that I'm the new children's choir director at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Norwood, Mass.! This is the good news I was hoping to be able to write about in a previous blog post.

I'm excited to begin this job. Choir directing has always been my favorite aspect of any music teaching position I've had, including my current job at St. Mary of the Hills School. I'm jumping in with both feet, as I'll be preparing the choir at St. Catherine's to sing at a mass on Christmas Eve, two weeks from tonight. I'm not easing into this one! The first rehearsal is a week from today, with two more packed into the following few days.

I am amazed at the opportunities that have come my way in the last few months, beginning with the St. Mary's position in September, followed by my daily column for Milton Patch in October, and now this. To be able to earn a living doing what one truly loves is a blessing, and for me, that's music, teaching and writing. The chance to be a positive force through my words and my teaching is also a profound blessing as well as a serious responsibility.

I am looking forward to working with the children and families of St. Catherine's, as well as the parish staff. God is good.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Family column

Last weekend's "Just a Minute" ran only in the print version of the Ledger. Here it is, for readers who didn't get a paper copy. Enjoy!

On the road with Justin Bieber

Like millions of Americans, I packed up my family and made the traditional over-the-river-and-through-the-woods trip for Thanksgiving this year. When the alarm sounded on Wednesday, I didn’t moan and slap the snooze button, as I usually do. No, I jumped up, threw on my comfiest clothes, roused three sleeping children, poured two travel mugs of coffee, and took my place in the copilot’s seat of the van, while the nearly-full moon shone down through the darkness.

When we drive to visit my family, 400 miles away, we like to make an early start to beat the traffic, especially on the busiest travel day of the year. We left on Wednesday morning at 5:00, and imposed a “no-talking-until-6:30” rule in the car, so Earl and I could enjoy our coffee in peace. The youngest kiddo actually fell back to sleep, the oldest contented herself looking out the window, and the middle child stared at the clock for an hour and a half.

Of course, at 6:30, the conversation exploded. Where are we? Is it time for breakfast? What time will we get to Grammy’s house? How far have we gone? Are we in New York yet? Then Timmy woke up and had to share a song he learned in kindergarten, complete with interpretive motions.

Before long, we were exiting the highway at our favorite bagel shop. We stormed the bathrooms and then ordered breakfast. Classic rock thumped from the overhead speakers. Normally, George Thoroughgood would be a little much for me at that hour, but having traveled 120 miles by 7:30 a.m., I was feeling pretty bad to the bone, myself.

After we’d broken our fast, gotten some gas and filled up our travel mugs again, we were back on the highway. I announced that it was music time, and broke out the iPods. The kids looked so cute with their little headphones on, but they needed help remembering to sing along inside their heads instead of out loud. When we reached New York at 8:30, there was general rejoicing in the car, but Timmy was disappointed.

“I don’t see the Statue of Liberty,” he complained.

“That’s because we’re in Albany,” I said.

Miffed, he turned back to the iPod and squeezed his teddy bear for comfort.

We’d made hotel reservations, as the entire extended family was spending Thanksgiving at the old homestead. Abby asked if the hotel would be in England, but we assured her that it would be in Rochester, just like Grammy’s house. Snippets of songs floated through the van: "Do you do you do you do you wanna dance?”…”Hot potato hot potato”…”Baby baby baby oh…”

“Uggghhhhhh,” Timmy moaned. I started looking for a plastic bag, sure that he was about to be carsick. Justin Bieber has that effect on me, too.

“What?” Earl asked him.

“Yankees fan,” Timmy answered, wrinkling his nose in the direction of an SUV with a Yankees logo stuck to the tinted window.

“I was just thinking the same thing,” Earl said with a smile, as we passed the offending car.

We arrived at my mother’s house just after noon, quite possibly a new speed record for travel with three children. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that getting there was half the fun, but for our one and only holiday trip this year, it wasn’t bad, even if we had to bring Justin Bieber along for the ride.

Copyright 2010 GateHouse Media, Inc. Some rights reserved.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Blog dropout

I feel like a blog dropout. What used to be a wonderful outlet and a fun way to jot down news and thoughts about life in the Fay family has now become a billboard for my writing that is published elsewhere. I didn't mean for that to happen. It just did.

Part of the reason I haven't been writing here is that my life has risen to new levels of busy-ness. I thought when Timmy started full day kindergarten in September, that I would have oodles of time to write. It hasn't turned out that way, as two part-time job opportunities came my way, and I grabbed them. These jobs take time, and a lot of it.

It's been very good for me to have new commitments this fall, and it's also been a challenge. My "organizer" personality has gotten a serious workout, trying to fit everything in. I've had to accept help with tasks and responsibilities I'm not able to keep up with any more (thank goodness I have a husband who doesn't mind vacuuming.) I've had to just put my head down and go, go, go.

On balance, I've done pretty well. It's only this past week that I've gotten what I call my "stress bumps" on my hands and feet -- painful little blisters that bubble up when I'm under stress for a long time. I chalk them up to the self-imposed pressure for my upcoming Christmas Concert at school, which I know will be fine, but I'm still stressed about. That, plus Christmas in general; last year at this time, I had a serious plan for shopping. I knew what I wanted to get for people, and had a plan to accomplish all the necessary ordering and trips to stores. This year, I don't have a plan yet, and very little free time to think about it, let alone get out to stores. My wonderful husband has volunteered to help, which is great, but I know I'll feel better once I at least have the plan in place.

I don't even know what the kids want for Christmas. I guess that will be a good topic for breakfast conversation.

I can't promise I'll do much more blogging than I have recently, except maybe during Christmas vacation (when I'll have monumental lesson planning to do, in addition to finally tackling the disorganized mess that is my home office.) I'll take a break from planning music classes and organizing more music downstairs to tell all you in blogland about my lesson planning and organizing!

Hoping to be able to expound upon some good news soon...will keep you posted. Happy second Sunday of Advent!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Today's Milton Musings

It's not a funny one, but here's today's Milton Musings. Back to lightheartedness next time.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Catchup

I don't remember the last time I really blogged, when I wasn't posting links for stuff I'd written that had been published elsewhere. I've got 12 minutes before I have do something else, so here goes. I think it's going to be a data dump.
  • My pink Dell laptop died two weeks ago. Actually, the screen burned out. Computer was fine. Would have cost $400 to replace the screen. Got a new laptop for $300. It's a bargain brand (emachines) but it works, and it works fast. I'm getting used to it, but I'm making lots of typos. The keys are absolutely flat on top, not with ergonomic little indentations, like my Dell. Maybe that's why the Dell cost 4x as much? That, plus I bought it 2 1/2 years ago. Prices have come down on electronics (but I think that's the only thing!)
  • I am in manic Christmas Concert mode at school. I rehearse for this concert all day long, every day I'm there. The kids are working hard and sounding better all the time. My mania has an end date of December 14, after which Christmas-shopping mania will take over.
  • The boys finished soccer last weekend, and Abby finished her music theatre class yesterday. I'm looking forward to some more relaxed Saturday mornings.
  • Earl is replacing all the fasciaboard all around our house. His dad has helped, too. This, in anticipation of the roofers finally coming and giving us a new roof -- hopefully one that will not leak -- right after Thanksgiving. Maybe it will hold for more than 10 years this time.
  • I have more or less been holding steady with weight since September. I'm not thrilled about it, but have been pretty busy with my new jobs. I'm glad I haven't gained. I've slacked off on exercise for the past two weeks, though. This is not good, but I don't see myself getting back to it until after Thanksgiving weekend. Ah well.
  • The cold season has arrived. I spent three hours in a freezing cold church this morning where I was filling in for the music director. I am sure the heat was on, but from November through May I'm pretty much an ice block, and I need to remember that whenever I venture anywhere out of my electric-mattress-pad-warmed bed, and dress for it.
  • The exception to the above is my classroom at school, where I've had the windows open since August.

And on that note, I'm off into the freezing cold to pick up Abby. Cheerio!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Column Double Feature

This is the week for my family column, Just a Minute, which runs in the Patriot Ledger, and often times in other GateHouse papers around the country. Although it's not a Thanksiving column, per se, I'm so thankful for my dear family, near and far.

It's supposed to be an off week for my Milton Musings column, but as I was writing it this week, I got my dates confused. It wouldn't have been as timely if it had run next week, as scheduled, so my editor, bless him, ran it early. Now I just have to come up with another one for next week!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pumpkin column

Our front-step pumpkin played a starring role in a situation that unfolded on Halloween night. Milton Musings has the story.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Family column

Here's my family column for GateHouse this weekend. Enjoy!
***

Abby was finishing her breakfast the other day when she asked, “Mom, do you have some kind of disease that always puts you in a bad mood?”

I stopped in my rush to get ready for work, one shoe on and hairbrush in hand.

“Well,” I said. “I have been kind of stressed out lately, but I don’t think I’m always in a bad mood.”

Abby considered this. “Oh,” she said. “I guess it’s more of a temperament thing.”

“Temperament?” I asked.

“Yeah, you know,” she continued, “like Rottweilers are aggressive. Temperament. They can’t help it. It’s just the way they are.”

I’m not sure which made me feel worse: that my fourth-grader thinks I’m always in a bad mood, or that she compared me to an aggressive dog.

I spent much of the next day ruminating on Abby’s comment. Am I really that grouchy? I certainly have my ups and downs, but overall, things are pretty good. Why would she think I’m always in a bad mood?

Since school started a couple of months ago, we’ve been on a pretty tight schedule. I began a new job, too, so I’m out the door before the kids are some mornings. Evenings are for dinner, homework, showers and bedtime. Even the weekends are busy, with soccer for the boys, a theatre class for Abby, church, chores, and everything else that doesn’t get done during the week.

As I thought about it, I realized that most of the time we’re together, I’m telling Abby to do something. Finish breakfast, get ready for school, start your homework – all geared toward keeping the day running smoothly, staying on schedule and on task. And, I admit, when people aren’t moving quickly enough for me, whether it’s in traffic or in my home, I get irate.

Abby, by contrast, never hurries. She marches to her own beat, and her tempo is considerably slower than mine. I’m constantly trying to move her along at my speed. No wonder the poor kid thinks I’m always in a bad mood. I am.

I’m at a loss about how to improve the situation. My typical strategy is to analyze, categorize, organize and schedule a problem into submission. It’s not the best approach, though, when scheduling is actually the problem.

Maybe I just need to work on my patience. Lighten up a little, stop and smell the roses, let Abby get things done in her own timeframe.

Next time I’m feeling impatient with Abby, I’ll try counting to 10. Well, no, that takes too long; maybe to 5. Then I’ll take a few deep breaths – I think I can squeeze in three.

Patience is a virtue, but it takes so darned long to develop.

Copyright 2010 The Patriot Ledger. Some rights reserved.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Even verse, Mwaaaa-haaaa-haaaaaa!

This was my very first poem about Halloween:

Jack-o'-lanterns, bright and gleaming,
Like a big flashlight beaming.
And always on this spooky night,
Everyone is shaking with fright.

Do you know what night it is?
Halloween! BOO!

***
No, that wasn't the first draft of yesterday's column for Milton Patch. I wrote that poem in second grade, in Mrs. Goodbow's class at Barnard School in Greece, N.Y.

Mrs. Goodbow had a reputation as a mean teacher, but she and I got along just fine. She copied my poem in big, black lettering on a bright orange construction-paper pumpkin and displayed it in the hallway. I was so proud.

Years later, I shared my poem with a boyfriend in college. He laughed at the literary attempts of a seven-year-old. Laughed! I should have known right then that the relationship wouldn't work out. This was the same boyfriend, incidentally, who used to get angry with me for harmonizing along with songs on the radio or CD player. "Sing what's there!" he'd admonish me.

It feels pretty good, now, to write the occasional poem and get paid for it. And I never discourage my students, kids or friends from singing what isn't there.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

It's not Indian Summer if there hasn't been a frost.

Last weekend I noticed 'twas deep into fall;
My summer clothes weren't that useful at all.
I boxed up my tank tops, my shorts and capris.
Today, in my back yard, it's eighty degrees.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Take a hike

Earl and I took the kids on a little hike in the Blue Hills on Columbus Day. Fall is my favorite time of year, and the day didn't disappoint. Read about our hike in this weekend's family column for the Patriot Ledger.

While I'm here, a brief update: Abby's still in a tough place, although thankfully, the scratching has been kept to a minimum. Timmy and Brian are burning up the piano keyboard; Timmy has just started "Lightly Row," and Brian is putting "Allegretto 1" hands together. Earl has been up on the roof, repointing the chimney before we get our roof replaced (again.) I'm losing and gaining the same 3 pounds over and over, and keeping busy with all my various jobs.

Speaking of which, I've got a week's worth of About Town entries to write. Off I go.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Latest column and aspie update

I've had an on-again, off-again relationship with the library in my town. It's the subject of today's Milton Musings column.

In other news: I'm fighting a cold, and am glad I'm playing for church this weekend instead of singing (piano again.) I'm also fighting the urge to drown my child-rearing sorrows in a giant chocolate milkshake. Abby is in a tough, tough place lately, and battling with her over every single thing gets tiresome. Homework, practicing, getting dressed, brushing teeth, brushing hair, getting ready to leave -- just about everything she has to do in a day, she's totally disinclined to do, and she's vocal about it, and sometimes violent. She's also expanding her dog obsession into cats, and spending a lot of time hissing and scratching. It's no fun.

I am fervently hoping that this tough time means that a growth spurt -- in understanding, in capabilities, in empathy -- is coming. Sometimes things work that way. I'll be looking for the silver lining, and staying out of scratching distance in the meantime.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A nice weekend

It's Columbus Day, the end of it. It's been a good weekend.

I've already written about the new column. The only other thing I'll say about that is that I worked pretty intensely on it for 4 days last week, putting the final touches on this week's entries yesterday. I'm not even thinking about next week's entries right now. Well, no, that's not true. I'm just not actively working on them until Wednesday afternoon.

I subbed for the music director at my church this past weekend, playing piano for four masses. I'm also on deck for this coming weekend. I enjoy it, although I'm a little disappointed with myself that, after making a big push in September to try and get myself ready to play the organ these two weekends, I decided I wasn't ready. I'm only a little disappointed, though, since my practice time was eaten up by the new column. Priorities, and besides, piano worked just fine. I'll keep plugging away as I can on the organ, and will do it, eventually. Better to be fully prepared than to practice in public. Also, I'm not fully convinced that looking in the mirror to see what's going on in the sanctuary (since I'd be backwards in the loft) won't give me vertigo and make me fall over the railing. Better to sit solidly on a piano bench at ground level, for now. Safety first.

We didn't really do anything remarkable this weekend. The boys had soccer on Saturday and Abby had her musical theatre class. Oh, I did take the kids to see Casper the Friendly Ghost at the library on Friday, which was fun. Earl and I rented a movie -- The Last Station -- on Saturday, and enjoyed it immensely. I really thought I would hate it, but I didn't, and I've been thinking about it, off and on, since we watched it. It wasn't a typical, snowy, depressing Russian movie. Much to think about and to enjoy, including some fantastic performances by Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer.

The weather was glorious all weekend, and we spent some time outside, too, most notably this afternoon, when we took a short hike in the Blue Hills. We really should do that more often. It's so wonderful to get out and enjoy the golden leaves and light.

I declared yesterday a diet holiday, and also rolled my way into a diet holiday extension today. Back on it tomorrow, though. I also blew off going to the gym in favor or changing over the kids' wardrobes from summer to winter. So it wasn't the healthiest weekend ever, but it's okay. The clothing changeover needed to be done, and the hike probably burned a couple hundred calories, anyway.

Back to school tomorrow, for everyone. Back to healthy eating, too, which would be easier if I didn't like Oreos so much.

New column premieres today!

This is it! The new job opportunity I blogged about is being launched today!

I'm writing a new column for Milton Patch called "About Town." This daily (M-F) column is essentially a hyperlocal blog about news and events in Milton. The plan is to update it twice daily, around 6:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. The first installment is up on the site now.

I was a little worried about whether I'd be able to find enough information for the column, especially in the beginning. I've been reaching out to local people and organizations and asking to be put on their press release distribution list. I also spent a lot of time during this past week combing local websites. Happily, there's a lot going on and it was pretty easy to write a week's worth of entries. (Let's hope that continues!)

"About Town" is different from my other two columns ("Milton Musings," also for Milton Patch, and "Just a Minute," for the Patriot Ledger.) I didn't ever see myself as a local reporter, but what can I say? God works in mysterious ways. And I'm making it my personal challenge to make the 35-or-so blurbs a week interesting, fun reading -- hopefully more than just conveying information.

"About Town" has a very narrow focus, and for that reason, I won't be posting here every time it updates. I hope that local readers will check in on the site frequently to stay abreast of what's happening in town.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Family column: iPod love

The iPod is the greatest invention in the history of the world. Well, maybe the wheel, then the iPod. It's certainly working miracles in my family.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Milton Musings column

It's Milton Musings weekend! I found Paradise, just a couple of miles from my house. Read all about it.

Friday, October 1, 2010

On time management and unexpected blessings (which shouldn't be all that unexpected, really)

Last year, when Earl and I went on a Marriage Encounter weekend (which I highly recommend) we did a personality profile. Not surprisingly, I was found to be an "organizer" that weekend. Having kept a daily calendar and to-do list for the past 20+ years, that came as no surprise. I'm happiest when I'm efficiently busy.

Based on that statement, I should be delirious with joy, and in many ways, I am. This fall has brought me to a new level of busy-ness, and now that I'm settling into my new teaching job, I'm feeling very pleased with it all. I love the teaching, and also love that it's part time. I'm thrilled to be back to my regular private teaching schedule. I enjoy singing my masses (although there's one fewer to sing each week, with the recent closing of Star of the Sea Chapel) and, of course, there's a column to write every week (one for The Patriot Ledger and the other for Milton Patch.) We've had a couple of evenings where the amount and/or intensity of Abby's homework have posed some timing challenges, but overall, I'm cheerfully busy.

Well.

I can't say too much about it just yet, but I've been offered another part time job. It sounds like it will fit perfectly into my schedule and interests, and it can be done on my time and at home. I've decided to take it, and am just waiting for the details to be worked out. I'm nearly levitating with excitement.

The best part is that it came to me. I wasn't looking for the opportunity; someone approached me with it (and no, it's not one of those "make 6 gazillion dollars a week working at home" ads one sees along highway exit ramps.)

The other best part is that our family can really, really use the income right now. I have been praying, and praying hard, about our financial situation, for months. God is good. Suddenly, I'm teaching school, and then just as suddenly, I'm presented with an additional opportunity. I felt so blessed that I actually started singing a psalm after discussing this new job on the phone today.

More info on my new endeavor as we get closer to my start date. For now: if you need something, pray, pray, and keep praying. You may be surprised at what happens.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Family column

My Patriot Ledger column wasn't posted on the website, so here it is. Enjoy.

***
Little Liar

My family was regrouping around the dinner table one night. Abby said pizza for lunch was a major highlight of her fourth-grade day. Brian, my first-grader, concurred, and added that he played with his friends at recess. Then the kindergartner spoke up.

“Kevin punched me in the face,” Timmy said calmly.

That got my attention. “He did?” I asked, alarmed.

“Yeah,” he went on. “He wanted the Legos and I was using them so he punched me in the face.”

I looked at the little face in question. No marks, no blotches. A milk mustache, and that was all.

“What did you do then?” I asked.

“Nothing,” he said, staring at his chicken nuggets.

“Well, what did your teacher do?” I pressed.

“She didn’t see,” he quickly said.

“Well, I think I’d better call and talk with her about this,” I answered. “We can’t have kids fighting at school.”

“Noooo, don’t call her,” he wailed.

I squinted at him. “Timmy, did Kevin really punch you?”

“Yeeeessss,” he said slowly.

“Because I didn’t get a call from the nurse about your being hurt, either,” I continued.

He studied his plate.

I took a breath. “Timmy,” I said, “Do you want to start over and tell me what really happened?”

“Okay,” he said grudgingly. “Kevin didn’t punch me.”

“Then why did you tell me he did?” I asked.

He shrugged.

I explained to him that he mustn’t say things that aren’t true, and left it at that. We had smooth sailing until the next week, when we were again at the dinner table, reviewing our days.

“I got in trouble today,” Timmy piped up. This was the first I’d heard of it.

“Uh-oh,” I said. “Tell me about it.”

“I was yelling and I got all the way on the red and I had to go to the principal’s office,” he said excitedly.

“What’s the red?” I asked.

“It’s a behavior chart,” explained Brian, my savvy informant.

“And you were on the red?” I asked Timmy.

“Yes,” he giggled.

“Timmy, getting sent to the principal’s office is a very serious thing,” I said, sternly. “I think a kindergartner would have to be very, very naughty to be sent there. I certainly hope you’re not being naughty in school.”

“Are you going to call my teacher?” he asked.

“Should I?”

“No!” he answered.

“Timmy,” I warned.

“Okay,” he said, exasperatedly. “I didn’t get sent to the principal’s office.”

“Timmy, you can’t be telling me things that aren’t true,” I said. “That’s called lying.”

“I know,” he said, eyes on his plate. “I didn’t even get on the red.” He sounded disappointed.

Why a five-year-old feels the need to exaggerate his escapades for dinnertime dialogue is beyond me. One would think that his first taste of all-day school would be filled with enough real adventure to provide ample conversational fodder. I hope it’s developmental, not pathological.

For now, I’m rooting out the deceit and squelching the embellishment as best I can. Concerns about dishonesty aside, however, I do admit one thing: I’d much rather hear false reports about fights and visits to the principal than confirmed ones.

Copyright 2010 GateHouse Media, Inc.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Article and column

My feature article about Ashley Bernard, a local teenager who just released her first CD to benefit the National Braille Press, ran in this weekend's Patriot Ledger.

My bi-weekly column for Milton Patch ran today, as well. My sons have started playing soccer and it's having a small but noticeable effect, as I transform into a soccer mom.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Almost Friday

It's Thursday afternoon, and literally the first time I've had to sit down and take a breather all week. Wow. I like to be busy, but holy moly, this is more than I bargained for.

It's been my first full school teaching week. Now, my teaching week is all day Monday and Tuesday, and two classes on Wednesday morning. A good schedule, and I'm really enjoying being in the classroom again.

This has also been my first week of teaching my private students after the lighter schedule of the summer. I really enjoy that, too.

Doing both on the same day, however -- which is the case for all three of my school days -- is a lot. I'm relieved that I only teach my private lessons today.

As if those two teaching jobs, plus my writing and cantoring weren't enough, I've also decided now is the time to learn to play the organ, so I've carved out a little practice time on my non-school days for that. I actually wanted to work on it during the summer, but didn't have the time with the kids home from school. Little did I know when I put it off that I'd have even less time in the fall!

Learning a new instrument is fun, in a maddening kind of way. Thank goodness my hands more or less know what to do, leaving most of my brain cells to think about my feet. Hopefully tackling this complex new skill will keep my brain sharp for years, and I won't ever have to resort to torturing myself with Sudoku in an effort to stave off age-related dementia.

Oh, there's also the writing to help keep the gray matter intact, which reminds me that I have a column due pretty soon. I've got an hour before my first student arrives. Ready, set, go!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Last weekend's column

Been so busy, teachin' my classes
I ain't got time to blog!

But here's last week's family column from the Ledger. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Busy time

I've been spending my time in the classroom, or thinking about the classroom, or preparing to be in the classroom, and haven't had time to reflect or write much beyond my ongoing column commitments. It's been a busy time.

Many years ago, a friend helped clarify things for me at a time like this, when I was talking about the many things I had to do and I said that I was so stressed. My wise friend asked if I was really stressed, or just busy.

So far, this busy time has been simply that -- busy, not stressful. I've been surprised how un-stressed I've been, actually. Going back into classroom teaching has been a big change for me, but I guess I did all my worrying about it before school actually started.

And now, my classroom teaching is finished for the week. I'll be putting the writer hat back on tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Today's Milton Patch column

On Thursday, I actually managed to drive to downtown Boston without first going to the airport. This was a milestone for me. Read why in today's column for Milton Patch.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Back from mini-vaca, new column

Ahhhhh. I just returned from a lovely weekend away. Perfect weather, good kids, and I even slept until 8:00 yesterday! Amazing.

Here is my family column from last weekend. Abby's iPod needed a charge on the way home today, and I didn't have my computer. She took the sudden lack of technology rather well, I must say.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Taking a breath

August is always hectic around here. We have three family birthdays and the parties that go along with them. Then there's Earl's and my anniversary, which we usually celebrate quietly. Abby had church choir camp, but all three kiddos have been home with me for the past two weeks. I'm gearing up for a new year of piano and voice teaching. My sister and I gave a recital, and had family visiting during that time. And on top of all that, I applied for, interviewed for, and got a new job.

My head is spinning even more than it usually does this month. It feels good to sit down and take a breather.

I documented Abby's birthday party in earlier posts. The weekend of the recital (last weekend but it seems like a year ago!) we also had a family party for Abby's and Timmy's birthdays. Mom and Dad were visiting for that, and my brother and his family also came for a few days. It was great to have everyone here for the recital and the party, and a little visit afterwards, too.

Yesterday was Timmy's birthday, and we had a friend party for him. Since the guest list was rather short (so many of his friends couldn't make it because of vacation plans) we decided to just go to the movies. We took our three kids and two friends to see Cats vs. Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore. I have to say, it was almost universally panned by the critics, but I didn't think it was that bad. I mean, yes, it was predictable, but it was a kid's version of a James Bond movie, and don't tell me Bond flicks aren't predictable! Anyway, the kids enjoyed it, and I didn't hate it, either.

Then we all came back home for pizza and cake. A nice, little, low-key party. And the best part is that was the LAST of the birthday parties until June!

Of course, our anniversary was also yesterday. Since Timmy was born, we have focused more on his birthday rather than our anniversary on the 21st. We do get each other cards, of course, and had a nice, kid-free conversation after they all went to bed. We'll go out to dinner on another day. In some ways, it seems like we've been together forever, but in others, the 17 years have gone so quickly.

Aside from the anniversary, Timmy's birthday and my birthday this week, the other big news is that I'll be returning to the classroom in the fall, for the first time since 1996. I'll be teaching at a Catholic school right in my town, and I'm really excited about it. It's a roughly .5 position, teaching general music for grades 1-8. I'll also be responsible for preparing two concerts.

I had a chance to see the music room this week, and it's lovely. It's in the former convent, right next to the school, and it feels more like a sitting room than a classroom. I need to get into the room this week to tidy up, and clean a bit. Then I can start arranging things how I want them.

I spent most of this past week being nervous about the job, but I'm feeling much calmer today. My mom found some of my old music teaching books at her house and is going to send them to me. I really have next to nothing in terms of teaching materials -- the former music teacher must have used a lot of his own resources. So I'll be very glad to get my hands on some books, music, etc. that I can use to plan.

I also have a few music teacher colleagues who have been very helpful and generous, sending me ideas and resources they use. I know it will be fine, and once I have the room set up and get a bit more organized, I'll be very excited to start.

When I left classroom music teaching 14 years ago, I never thought I would return. The way this opportunity came about, however, has left me with no doubt that this is what I am supposed to do right now. That, in and of itself, is very reassuring.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A lovely birthday

Today was my birthday, and it was a great day. There wasn't anything extraordinary about it, (well, besides extra-good kids, some lovely gifts and a delish dinner and cake, made and bought my my husband, respectively. So, on second thought, I guess there were several extraordinary things about it!)
***
Side note about the cake: Earl said the bakery called it the Chocolate Nightmare. I said I didn't think it was nightmarish at all, and asked Abby what she thought a better name might be. Her response: "Chocolate Daymare!" After the laughter subsided, she tried again, with more poetic results: "Chocolate Dream Come True!")
***
I guess I mean the day wasn't wildly extraordinary. I didn't go anywhere I don't usually go; I didn't do anything I don't usually do. Some time at the gym, a couple of errands, some work, some hooping. I'm fairly preoccupied with some things going on professionally, so that took a lot of brain energy and time, too.

But -- the awesome gift I received from the kids was a pair of organ-playing shoes. I am dying to learn to play the organ, and the shoes are a nice incentive to go practice. Once the kids go back to school, that is. No time now!

When my birthday rolls around, I know we're getting to the end of summer, and it makes me both happy and wistful. Happy for the cooler days of fall and the busy-ness of a regular schedule; wistful about the end of the relaxed pace and the cold days that come after the cooler days. It's a mixed bag, and sometimes I wish I could hold on to these last few days of August, with the chatter of the late-summer bugs after sunset and the barest hint of a chill in the air.

The Chocolate Dream Come True (along with the birthday-toast glass of Pinot Grigio) is making me mellow and sleepy. I wonder if Bill Clinton had as happy of a birthday as I did.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Last weekend's family column

My column for GateHouse never made it online last weekend. Here it is.

***
League of Maternal Justice

I had just finished getting the kids a snack when my four-year-old coyly asked, “Mom, do you know what kind of ice cream I have in my cup?”

Having just put the carton away, it wasn’t much of a challenge. “Chocolate chip?”

His eyes widened, clearly impressed. “Mom! Do you have x-ray vision?”

Little did he realize that, over the past nine years, I’ve developed a number of superpowers that are common to all mothers. X-ray vision is one of them, useful not only for identifying mystery ice cream flavors, but also for spotting contraband candy in pockets, as well as books secreted away under pillows for clandestine reading after lights-out.

While my near-distance vision isn’t what it used to be – zoom is now a favorite feature on my laptop – I’ve developed the amazing power of micro-vision. This power spots germs on unwashed hands, insufficiently crumpled tissues and shared toys with amazing accuracy, much to the little germ-monsters’ chagrin. When they ask me how I can see the germs, I smile knowingly, choosing to keep this superhuman ability a secret, for now, and tell them to go wash their hands.

Maternal superpowers aren’t confined to vision, however. When my firstborn learned to walk, the sudden ability of my arms to reach her at the very moment she was going to fall, or pull something down onto her head, was uncanny. As the kids have gotten older, this arm elasticity has increased, to cope with new threats posed by bicycles, baseball bats and poorly-tethered Christmas trees. It will be put to the ultimate test in a few years, when the little darlings want the car keys. I foresee some prophylactic key-snatching on my part.

While these powers constitute a formidable arsenal against the forces of evil encountered during childrearing, there are a few other abilities that would be useful, too. Take flying, for example. A little Superman-style cruising would really cut down on the time spent getting to a vacation destination. Parking hassles would be a dim memory, and those college campus visits in a few years would be a breeze.

I’d also like a pair of Wonder Woman bracelets. If they’re strong enough to repel bullets, I could certainly put them to good use deflecting criticism of my parenting skills or pleas to help out with the latest PTO project. And rude gestures and honking from that impatient driver behind me as I’m waiting to turn into the school parking lot? Talk to the bracelet, buddy.

My children don’t see the powers I don’t have, however. They’re in awe (although sometimes in denial) of my ability to foil their mischievous plans and keep them out of harm’s way.

It’s been said that with great power comes great responsibility. Thank goodness that for mothers, with great responsibility comes great power. We’ll keep on saving the day, just as our mother and grandmothers did before us. Ready, ladies? Up, up, and away!

Copyright 2010 GateHouse Media, Inc.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Happy talk

This is the last advertisement for my recital with my sister this evening. I promise! (7:30 p.m. at First Parish in Milton -- click here for more details.)

We had a great rehearsal yesterday. Tim Steele is such a wonderful pianist and accompanist, and even though it was our only rehearsal with him -- and with each other -- we're all feeling excited about tonight's performance. There's such a great variety of music, show characters and situations. It's going to be a lot of fun.

The weather has been cool, so no one will swelter in the church (can I get an amen?) My mom and dad are here, as are my brother and his whole family. I have a number of friends, students and their families who are planning to attend (but I want to see you there, too!) I just have to get the program copied this morning, and we truly will be all set.

Other good stuff going on, too, making for a happy recital day: Brian lost his first tooth last night and was thrilled with the tooth fairy's reward this morning. The kids and Earl had a great time at Old Sturbridge Village yesterday with my in-laws. It's sunny again, and did I mention it's cool? I've lost 16 pounds. We had the best roasted turkey and sweet corn-on-the-cob dinner last night. My sister sounds great, and I'm feeling good, too.

Happy talk makes for happy singing tonight. So come.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Recital story

The word is out! Here is a story on Milton Patch about this weekend's recital with my sister. There's also a notice in the Milton Times today.

It's going to be a beautiful weekend. Make it even lovelier by coming to hear us sing some American songbook classics, 7:30 on Saturday night. More details in the Patch article and here. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Abby's 9th birthday party

My girl turns 9 tomorrow, and we had her "friend" birthday party today. Abby loves dogs, so that was our theme (decided two days ago, seriously.) Our invitation with a closeup of a dog's nose (see image from Evite, left) but we didn't decide on actual party activities until Thursday. How does August always sneak up on me like this?

Abby invited six friends, five of whom could come. I decided on Thursday to do a puppy adoption theme, and was on the hunt yesterday for inexpensive stuffed dogs to use. I found tiny ones at the craft store and bought a variety of colors. Next, I decided what breed they looked like (labs, spaniels, beagles) and printed up a breed information sheet, with (real dog) photo and information like temperament, size, space requirements, life expectancy, etc. I laminated them (LOVE my laminator) and set them up on the porch.

When the girls arrived this afternoon, I had a foam cut-out craft for them to do, purchased months ago when I saw it at Ocean State Job Lot -- magnetic photo frames shaped like paw prints and doghouses. They did that as they arrived, and then I served hot dogs (of course) and "puppy chow" (a mixture of Cheerios, Kix, Chex, pretzels and popcorn) for lunch.

We then adjourned to the porch, where much oohing and aahing was heard (love that sound at a birthday party!) The girls quickly decided on their puppies. I then filled out an adoption certificate for each of them and took their photo with their pooch. Then I sent them off to the vet's office for a checkup (Brian and Timmy, with their toy doctor kit) and then to the grooming salon (self-serve with Abby's pet grooming toys.)
Then it was time for the girls to make collars and leashes for their puppies. I had already measured, cut and knotted beading string, so I got out the beads for them and they quickly got to work making jeweled collars and leashes for their pets. When they were all done, I suggested they go outside to the "dog park" (just our back yard) for a while, which they did readily on this beautiful day. Meanwhile, I downloaded, cropped, cut out and laminated each girl's photo with her puppy and taped them onto the picture frames they'd made.


Then it was time for cake. I had been planning on doing a dog bone-shaped cake for Abby, but then decided on pawprint cupcakes. I made them with a peppermint patty candy and three upside-down chocolate chips. The girls loved them!






After that, it was presents and goodie bag time. I like to use the paper shopping-bag style goodie bags, and had found sparkly bone stickers, so I decorated the bags with those. Inside the bags I put the girls' breed fact sheets, the adoption certificates and a Ziploc bag of "puppy chow." I had wanted to stick their frames in there, too, but they'd used glitter glue on them, which wasn't dry yet, so I left them out on paper plates for them to take home. And, of course, the girls also took home their puppies, collars and leashes.

It was a great success, very easy, quite inexpensive and a lot of fun, as you can see by the smiles on the girls' faces, below.

Baseball dictionary

Today's Milton Musings column is a local guide to baseball jargon. Enjoy!

And remember: a week from tonight is my duo recital with my sister. Hope you can come!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Recital Preview: Fashion Edition

I should be writing a column, but I'm just so excited that I have to get this out of my system, first.

You know how I'm doing a recital with my sister next weekend, right? You might have gathered from my blog post on the subject that I was searching for something to wear. Chris will look fabulous -- she always does -- but since I basically dropped out of the public eye as I focused more on teaching and writing over the past several years, I haven't updated my wardrobe with "singer clothes" in quite a while. Plus there's the little issue of being a couple sizes bigger than I used to be. But I digress.

Anyway -- I was gearing up for a dreaded visit to South Shore Plaza for a new frock when I decided I'd better look in the one closet where I used to keep my singing gowns, just in case. And I found a gown I bought a few years ago, for when I sang my one and only Elijah with the Quincy Choral Society in 2006. (I have fond memories of practicing "Hear ye, Israel" while walking around the living room with 8-month-old Timmy in my arms.)

I took the gown off the hanger and lo and behold, it fit! There isn't room for much of anything else in there with me, but that's OK. It zips, it looks good, and it saved me from going shopping, which is the best part of all.

I've lost almost 15 pounds since April, and as I said to Earl last night, it's a good thing I started SparkPeople when I did. Otherwise I'd be searching for a parking place at the Plaza right now.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sisters in Song

What are you doing on the evening of Saturday, August 14?

No plans? Well, come for a song!

My sister and I are putting on a recital of show tunes. The fabulous Timothy Steele will play piano. Assuming I find something appropriate to wear, it should be a good time!

The details:

Sisters in Song
Chris Faulkner and Julie Fay, sopranos
Music of Sondheim, Gershwin, Porter and Rodgers & Hammerstein

Saturday, August 14
7:30 p.m.
First Parish in Milton
535 Canton Avenue
Milton, MA 02186

Free. Yes, of course we'll accept donations to help with expenses, but really, just come for the music. I haven't done a recital since I was pregnant with Abby...and since she's turning 9 on August 8, that means it's been a while. It's time. So come.

Hope to see you there.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Loopy family column

I've been having great fun with my new hoop. What is a hoop, you ask? Read on.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Whoosh!

Just yesterday, the kids were getting out of school for the year. Then I blinked, and it's now the end of July. Amazing.

This particular bit of mystification at the passage of time is brought to you by the fact that tomorrow is the kids' last day of their summer enrichment program. It's been a great time for them, taking four different classes each day, from 8:00 a.m. until noon. They've really enjoyed it a lot.

It's been a great time for me, too. I've made good use of my time, doing a lot of writing, mostly. I've been pretty faithful about exercise, too, and I made time for coffee with a friend today, which was great and long overdue.

It all comes to an end tomorrow, boo-hoo. Abby has full-day camp next week, which will be good for her, and fun, too. I'm with the boys, though, from tomorrow at noon through the start of school in September.

August is a lovely month, but it's standing before me like a big, open pit. Aside from the lack of structured things for the kids to do, we have three family birthdays and Earl's and my anniversary (#17 this year.) Busy, busy, busy, as it always is every year. Lots of preparation to do, and very little kid-free time in which to do it.

This year will be even a little busier, as I'm stepping out of my comfort zone as a teacher to do a little performing. My sister and I are giving a recital of mostly show tunes on August 14. That is its own blog post, so I'll leave the details for another day. Suffice to say it's another layer of busy-ness in the month that is rivaled only by December in our household.

I'm going to milk the kids' four hours of enrichment tomorrow for all they're worth.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

New Milton Musings Column

This weekend's Milton Musings humor column is up. This summer's heat and humidity has made me a little crazy, and it's been affecting the whole town, too.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Living Well stories

The Patriot Ledger published its Living Well section yesterday. I have stories on pages 3, 6 and 11, on Laughter Yoga, Greek yogurt and hooping, respectively.

In related news, I'm now the owner of my very own hoop. My sister-in-law is a hooping instructor, and between her enthusiasm and my research for my article, I decided I wanted to give it a try. My brother made me a hoop, shipped it (you should have seen the look on the mailman's face!) and I tried it yesterday. Fun stuff! Hope no one sees me in the backyard, though.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Today's family column

Here is today's "Just a Minute" column. One of the best things about summer is summer camp.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Two music articles

I had two articles in today's Patriot Ledger. One is about Ron Vigue, the new executive director of the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra. He's got a lot of enthusiasm for what he does, and in the course of our conversation, we discovered we went to the same undergraduate school. Small world.

The other article is a preview of the Duxbury Music Festival, which opens this weekend. The festival will feature some lesser-performed chamber works, as well as musical events large and small.

Those were deadlines numbers 3 and 4 this week. Number 1 was a magazine feature that will come out in September, and number 2 is tomorrow's Just a Minute column. Still have number 5 ahead of me. Busy week, just how I like it.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Milton Patch Column

Here is my second column for Milton Patch. Hopefully it won't get my pool tags revoked.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Exhausted gratitude

After many years of commuting to work, first by train and then by car, I consider myself fortunate to work mostly at home. I'm not out there, fighting traffic every day. I'm not running to catch a train and then squeezing myself into a car just as the doors close. I don't miss it, either.

Then, every once in a while, I have to drive into Boston, like today. All three kids had dentist appointments, at the dental clinic at Children's Hospital.

The appointments were at 2:00, 2:30 and 3:00. We left the house at 1:00, and walked in the door to the clinic at 1:40. After waiting about 10 minutes to check in, we finally did, and had a seat in the unbelievably crowded waiting room for what I hoped would be a short wait.

Usually I totally forget to bring anything to do. Today, I remembered, and so I handed the kids their books, and opened up the Globe.

Twenty minutes later, I'd read all I wanted to read. (How about that potential spy exchange deal? Wow.) I attempted to keep the boys from climbing all over each other, but by 2:35, I'd had enough. Back to the reception desk. Did I miss it when our names were called? Because my first appointment was at 2:00.

Five minutes later, in came the hygienist. The rest of the appointments went more or less smoothly. Parking cost more than usual because of the delay, but I got an extra buck back from the change machine so it almost evened out.

Of course, by the time we got back to the van and out into the street from the parking garage, it was 4:00. The Longwood Medical Area is not the place to be at 4:00 on a weekday afternoon, at least not if you want to get OUT of the Longwood Medical Area any time soon.

Fifty-five minutes later, we finally got home. I am completely exhausted. To be sure, some of that is because in my zeal to get the kids to their appointments on time, I forgot my afternoon iced coffee. This means that instead of crashing at, say, 9:00 at night, I crashed around 5:00.

I'm still down. I have a lot to do this evening and somehow have to dig deep and find the energy to do it. I don't want to have a coffee now because I'll be up way too late. On the other hand, maybe I could finally conquer my ironing pile if I were conscious for a few hours more than usual.

Exhausted moms of the world, I'm right there with you today. And I'm not even sleep-deprived from an infant, or from waiting up all hours of the night for a teenager who missed curfew. Just low on caffeine and psychologically stressed from fighting traffic on the Boston city streets.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Star-Spangled Family Column

Here is today's Just a Minute column, inspired by Brian's love for our national anthem.

While doing research for this one, I found an online exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution about the anthem and the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key's poem. It's a fascinating read, and an interesting snapshot on this particular aspect of U.S. history. You can see the exhibit here.

Enjoy, and have a safe and happy Independence Day weekend!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Busy, busy, busy

This has been a great week. The kids started their half-day summer camp, and, after a few initial bumps related to drop-off and pick-up, they're enjoying it immensely.

So am I, as I am now the proud owner of four hours every morning to do kid-free stuff. It's nearly double the time I'm used to, and I feel like the kid in the proverbial candy store.

On Monday, I hit the gym bright and early and then came home and wrote an article for the upcoming Living Well section of the Ledger. Filed that.

On Tuesday, I took a walk and then prepared for an interview, which ended up being rescheduled. Wrote about half of my next column.

On Wednesday (this is starting to sound like The Very Hungry Caterpillar) I again hit the gym, then had my first practice session on the organ. It totally blew my mind, with the two manuals, the pedals, the feet looking laterally higher but sounding lower than the hands...a very humbling experience for this teacher, and a good reminder of how my piano students must feel when I'm asking them to do something new.

Today, I took the day off from working out, finished my column, wrote questions for my magazine feature interview tomorrow, set up a couple of other interviews for upcoming features, and had the rescheduled interview.

Tomorrow, the plan is to do that feature magazine interview, then hit the gym on the way home.

Having this time in the morning to work out and write has me over the moon. I no longer feel like I have to be in front of my computer, catch-as-catch-can, all day long and into the night, just to get my writing work done. I can work, and then be done with it for the day. What a gift!

Friday, June 25, 2010

New column, new publication

I blogged a few hours ago that things were picking up, writing-wise. I wasn't expecting them to actually do so until tomorrow, but the first of my columns for Milton Patch was published tonight, so here I am again.

Patch is an AOL-owned company that focuses on local news and events in towns and smaller cities. I'll be writing bi-weekly for Milton Patch, under the title, "Milton Musings." It's a hyperlocal slice-of-life column; something different from "Just a Minute," my family humor column for the Patriot Ledger that I've been privileged to write since 2008.

I'm thrilled to pick up this new opportunity for a few reasons:
  1. I'm really excited to double my frequency. Just a Minute is bi-weekly, as well, and the editor of Patch and I worked it out so that Milton Musings will run on the Just a Minute off-weeks. So I'll have a column every week. Hooray!
  2. It's a different type of writing, part one: It's slice-of-life, not family humor. I am sure my family will make an appearance now and again, since every slice of my life has them in it, but they're not the main focus.
  3. It's a different type of writing, part two: it's my first foray into hyperlocal writing. Just a Minute is picked up by other GateHouse papers across the country, and I write it with that in mind, generalizing settings so they will work from California to the Carolinas. Milton Musings, on the other hand, is for readers who live in or have another connection with this very specific town in Massachusetts. The settings and events in the column are inexorably tied to Milton.
  4. It's hyperlocal but available worldwide through the magic of the Internet. So even if a reader -- and I'm really thinking potential editor, here -- doesn't know Milton per se, it's an opportunity to read my work in a different style.

I'm pleased with the opportunity and hope readers enjoy both columns.

Read my first Milton Musings column, Lessons Learned While Biking Around Town, and watch for my next Just a Minute column next weekend.

Drive-by

Just zooming by with a few items:
  • Great visit with Mom and Dad this week. It's always wonderful to see them, and even better when they come to us.
  • Kids have been out of school since Monday. It seems like months ago. It's been a good week, but very busy. We're all looking forward to the start of camp on Monday.
  • Besides labor and delivery and dental work, the two things I hate doing the most are having my photo taken and having to speak for an audience. I did both of those (latter) things today and lived to tell the tale.
  • Writing is picking up. More on that soon.
  • A couple of musical opportunities may also be in the works. More on those soon, too, depending on how they work out.
  • Camp starts Monday! I think I may have mentioned that.

Off to the weekend. Enjoy yours.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Fathers' Day column

I don't often pay attention to the calendar when writing my column. I thought I would be remiss, however, in a column about my family, if I didn't acknowledge Fathers' Day. Hope it's a good one for all the fathers, daddies, dads and stepdads out there. Here it is.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Smiling at summer

Summer is coming. It's almost here.

For the first time in many, many years, I am not dreading the end of the school year, and am looking forward to a more relaxed schedule for a couple of months. The kids will be busy for about 6 weeks with various camps and activities, and they start soon, so that's probably why I'm feeling so calm. There won't be the usual 3-week hiatus between the end of school and the start of camp.

I'm also looking forward to teaching on my summer schedule (although I wouldn't mind if a few more people signed up for summer lessons!) Teaching one day a week will be a nice break, after the 4-day schedule I keep during the school year. Aaaahhh.

I have some projects to do, chief among them, to open up the porch. This is the latest in the year we've ever gone without having our screen porch open, and I miss it. The family schedule has been packed with non-stop end-of-the-year activities, and when I have found myself with time to work on the porch, the weather has been bad. I'll do it this weekend, for sure, if not before. I need my morning coffee with the birds.

Abby is having her usual end-of-the-school-year anxiety (EOTSYA), which is making things hard for her, and, consequently, for us. Her teachers are on top of it at school, and we're managing at home, for the most part. She is very much looking forward to picking out a new fish with Earl later this week, to replace the beloved Blueberry, who swam into the great beyond a few weeks ago.

Brian is all about moving up to first grade, and is also enjoying the fun and festive end-of-year events for kindergarten. Timmy will be out of school on Thursday, and for the first time in five years, we won't have any children enrolling in preschool for the fall. He's wearing his yellow "I'm going to kindergarten" shirt every chance he gets.

I'm enjoying my last couple of quiet mornings for a few weeks, but am not panicking. As many people have told me, but I didn't believe it until I started to see it: things really do get easier as the kids get older.

Until they get too old and end up being teenagers, people also tell me. But enough of that. I'll just take it one step, one year, one summer at a time.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Full Iris Gomez feature

Here is the full feature article on Iris Gomez, now running on the Ledger's Wicked Local Milton site.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Iris Gomez article

Here is my article on author Iris Gomez, whose debut novel, "Try to Remember," was released last month. Unfortunately, it's only the first few paragraphs. Apparently the Patriot Ledger isn't giving away all its content online any more. Good for them, less so for me.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

This week's column

Here's my latest column. Little did I know when I wrote it that it was only the preview for our Memorial Day weekend (which you can read about here.) Here's hoping that everyone stays healthy for a while.

Abby's recital performance

Click here to see a video of Abby's performance of Minuet 1 on my studio recital. She played beautifully, too!

Brian's recital performance

Click here to see Brian's performance of Au Clair de la Lune. It was his recital debut, and he played beautifully!

Recital photo


Here is a shot of the kids with Earl, before my studio recital a couple of weeks ago. From left: Abby, who played Minuet 1 on violin; Brian, who played Au Clair de la Lune on piano; Earl and Timmy. Fab photo credit to my sister!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Pennies from Canada

About a year and a half ago, I signed up with a website called Suite101.com to be one of their writers. Suite101.com is, essentially, the Canadian version of About.com. I ended up writing two articles and then cancelling my contract because of other writing commitments. (You can read the articles if you like: one about Suzuki piano, and the other about techniques to strengthen your marriage.)

I thought that was the end of it.

Imagine my surprise when I got a notification from Paypal yesterday that Suite101.com had deposited $10.27 in my account.

Apparently, enough people have been reading those two articles that the penny-per-click rate, or whatever it was, has added up to enough money to buy, say, two packages of Silly Bandz.

A Canadian windfall. Who'd-a thunk it?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Just call me Patsy

Crazy, I'm crazy from deadlines a-looming...
I'm crazy...crazy from kids through with school...(almost....)
I know I usually like to be busy,
But lately, I'm runnin' around like a fool.

Worry, why do I let myself worry?
Wondrin' how I got so much to do?
Crazy...with writing and teaching and children,
And then there's the diet; oh why did I try it
When I'm crazy with so much to do?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Ups and downs

We went to our petite maison in Quebec for the long weekend. In many ways, it was a great time. Long walks, campfires and roasting marshmallows, an awesome solo bike ride -- my first of any length in years -- and lots of fun family time.

Casting a pall over our time away, however -- besides the smoke from the Quebec forest fires -- was the fact that poor Abby was very sick. She had a stomach bug, and wasn't able to keep anything down from Friday afternoon through Monday evening. She had a slight fever, took three-hour naps both Saturday and Sunday, and suffered the effects of topsy-turvy digestion, dehydration and general malaise.

Earl and I were getting quite concerned on Sunday, so we called her pediatrician's office. We were given a strategy of offering her a sip of water every 1o minutes, and if that stayed down, to try a little bit of a popsicle. If they made her sick, we'd have to take her to the ER to get her some IV fluids.

Luckily, the sips and popsicle helped a lot. She still wasn't perky, but she slowly improved. Upon returning home last night, she was able to eat plain pasta and even a little bit of a meatball, against my better judgment. She went to school today and ate pizza, of all things, so she indeed is on the mend.

I do think that Abby had a true stomach illness, but I also believe that her anxiety about going to Canada, about being pulled out of school on Friday and about all the changes coming up with the close of the school year definitely made things worse. My thoughts aren't fully formulated on this, but I think if she had been home, her recovery would have been quicker.

As if being sick weren't enough for Abby, tragedy struck when we were in Canada. Blueberry, the betta fish, Abby's loyal companion since last July, didn't survive the weekend. Abby was sad, but has recovered, and is looking forward to getting another betta, probably once school is out.

I'm just looking forward to having my sweet daughter healthy for a while.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Top 10, Bottom 10

Top 10
  1. Sunny days
  2. Clean floors
  3. Healthy children
  4. Looking forward to an event
  5. Orange juice in the morning
  6. Iced coffee in the afternoon
  7. Cute summer clothes
  8. Sparkpeople.com
  9. Chic haircuts
  10. A/C in the car

Bottom 10

  1. 96-degree days
  2. Vacuuming
  3. Sick kid home from school
  4. Scrambling to get ready for an event
  5. Orange juice all over the floor
  6. Iced coffee condensation that drips everywhere
  7. Summer clothes that barely fit
  8. Being unable to access Sparkpeople for days on end
  9. Freaked-out fandide hair due to humidity
  10. No A/C in the house

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Article on VideoKin

The Ledger ran an article on my friend Janet Gilmore today. Through her business, VideoKin, she preserves family memories, and does other cool stuff like projects for the JFK Library in Boston.

I didn't write the article, as business isn't my beat. Read it anyway, and think about all those old photos, home movies or Kodak slides you have in a box somewhere. Now imagine them, neatly organized and preserved on DVDs. Janet can do that for you.

Janet also creates presentations for special events like birthday parties, retirement parties, graduations, and the like. And, with her background in film and the visual arts, she brings an artist's vision to your project. She's fast, friendly and funny, and you'll enjoy working with her.

Drop her a line, and tell her I sent you.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Music on a Sunday afternoon

My annual studio recitals were yesterday. They're always fun events, filled with music-making at many different stages: kindergartners through adults; beginners through students who have been with me for 8 years now. It's a nice way to wind down the academic year of lessons, and to celebrate the students' hard work and accomplishments.

Yesterday was different for me, as a teacher. Both Abby and Brian played in the recital, and I experienced firsthand the nerves, pride and joy of watching my own dear ones perform.

I'm not Abby's teacher; she's a budding violinist, and studies with a teacher through the applied lesson program at the local high school. I do practice with her at home, and put all those years of my own violin study to work, helping her with little things while leaving the big things to her teacher. I also accompany her on piano, and we played together at the recital yesterday.

She looked beautiful (she always does, of course!) and played confidently and musically. My sister commented on how in tune she played, which I often take for granted, but it's not a given with elementary string players, by any means. She's turning into quite a musician.

Yesterday was Brian's recital debut. He's been picking out tunes on the piano for years, but I only began tutoring him in earnest in September. He's a dedicated little pianist, practicing before school each morning (as does Abby.) He loves to play and was very excited about the recital.

The poor guy was very sick on Saturday, though, and I wasn't sure he would be able to play. He woke up with a fever, didn't eat breakfast or much of anything else, and basically moped around and cried intermittently all day. He was a mess. He woke up at 9:30 p.m., after he'd been asleep for an hour or so, crying from a bad dream, totally soaked with sweat. A change of pajamas and an inning or two of baseball on TV, plus a couple of cool facecloths on his forehead, and he willingly went back to bed.

Then, lo and behold, he woke up Sunday, perky as ever. He ate his customary two breakfasts, practiced his recital piece, went to church and generally was back to his cheerful self. Earl said he didn't eat much lunch, but I think that was pre-recital jitters.

He arrived at the recital all smiles and ready to play. When I called his name, he took the bench like a champ, played flawlessly, and bowed like a pro. My heart nearly burst, and I had to make an effort to subdue the tears of pride and happiness before I could announce the next performer.

I'm proud of all my students, of course. But watching one's own children perform is another experience entirely. I am sure the parents at the recital yesterday all felt the same way about their little (and big) musicians. You did us proud, kids.

***
My brother-in-law videoed the kids' performances for me, but somehow my camera accidentally went home with my mother-in-law. I'll post video when I get the camera back next weekend.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

This weekend's column

My column on a recent book-signing event I attended ran in today's Patriot Ledger.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Recent wellness stories

I had four wellness stories run in the special "Living Well" section of the Patriot Ledger yesterday. You can see the section here. My stories, on yoga for golfers, the health benefits of ginger, Sparkpeople.com and knockout salads are on pages 3, 8, 13 and 15.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A milestone for Brian

This morning, Brian was determined to be ineligible for special education services. My heart is singing today.

My sweet middle child will be six years old in three weeks. Our special needs journey with him began on March 4, 2006, at the Federation for Children with Special Needs conference. I had attended because Abby was recently diagnosed with PDD-NOS, and wanted to learn all I could about supporting her.

In one breakout session, the two presenters were talking about their autistic children. I had some concerns about Brian; at 18 months old, approximately three months prior to the conference, it had seemed that he had stopped adding new words to his vocabulary. I wasn't sure, though; Abby had been so precocious in her language development that I didn't know if what I was seeing in Brian was more typical. But then, in that breakout session, one of the presenters mimed her young son looking at the wheels of a toy train as he played with it on the floor. I immediately started shaking, recognizing Brian's behavior with his toy cars.

I felt like I was in a horror movie, having the autism monster claim yet another one of my children. The anguish in my heart over what I perceived to be another tragedy for my family was too much to bear. I slid into a deep depression for several months, even contemplating suicide at one point. It was the absolute low point of my life.

Although I was in many ways functioning very poorly during this time, I did spring into action immediately on Brian's behalf. He was evaluated for Early Intervention services, and began a robust program of individual play therapy, speech therapy and music therapy. That summer, he began attending play groups at the Early Intervention site, and when he was formally diagnosed later that fall, he began receiving several hours of ABA services each week.

I have often said that Early Intervention saved Brian from a full autism diagnosis, and I still believe that, today. In particular, his primary EI therapist, the incomparable Tricia Carroll, brought his level of social, emotional and language functioning an incredible distance prior to his diagnosis, and continued to help him make rapid progress until he aged out of EI on his 3rd birthday. The other therapies were invaluable, but Tricia's understanding of ASDs and her ability to connect with Brian and bring him out of himself -- teaching him to make eye contact, helping him learn to play with his brother, challenging him in different play and learning situations -- was a the most influential factor in his development for the 15 months or so he was in EI.

At age 3, Brian then enrolled in the Milton Integrated Preschool, where he was fortunate to have Mary Beth Callahan as his teacher every morning and for double-sessions two days a week. He received speech and ABA services, and continued to grow and develop under her care. When he was four, Sarah Richardson was his teacher at the Integrated Preschool, and we also enrolled him in afternoon sessions at the Adams Street Early Learning Center, with Kathleen Corliss as his teacher. He continued to make progress, and we had high hopes for kindergarten, as well as a very robust IEP to help him make the transition.

Those hopes have been more than fulfilled this year. In Soondarie Barker's incredible kindergarten classroom, Brian has become indistinguishable from his peers, which has been our goal for the past four years. Looking at him, one would never guess that he carries an ASD diagnosis. He is social, he is engaging and he is age-appropriate in all observable ways, including his tendency to get in trouble now and then. Academically, he continues to work and test well above age level, and will require differentiated instruction to keep him challenged as he goes on to first grade.

I feel like Brian has graduated, and I am so proud. I am also eternally grateful to those individuals who have helped Brian, and us, over the past four years. You have built my little star-shooter's launch pad, suited him up and tested all flight systems. Now, the sky's the limit.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Xiang Yu feature

My article on Xiang Yu, the winner of the 2010 Menuhin Competition, ran in yesterday's Patriot Ledger.

I really enjoyed talking with Yu. He has an unusual maturity and Zen-like attitude about the Competition, which I didn't expect at all. Perhaps that was due to remembering how competitive and driven I was in music school, myself. He's a genuinely nice kid, and I hope he achieves his dreams.

You can see video of his performances at the Competition here.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

This weekend's column

I had an unlucky streak a couple of weeks ago. Fortunately, today started with pancakes I didn't have to make, myself. Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there, and may good luck find you today and always.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A good week

Accomplishments this week:
  • Stuck to my nutrition and fitness programs every single day. Well, except for the m&m incident on Thursday.
  • Did not beat myself up for the m&m incident on Thursday.
  • Walked the kids to school one day. They've been wanting to try it, and although I wasn't sure they could walk the mile, they did. Next time we'll just have to leave earlier so we're not rushing the whole way.
  • Received a very nice email from the editor of one of the publications to which I regularly contribute, congratulating me on my Erma Bombeck award and saying various other nice things about my writing. It made my day.
  • Also had another very nice email exchange with another editor at the same publication, which turned into a mutual admiration society. It's nice to have that now and again.
  • Practiced with Abby and Brian most days, taught lessons, made good dinners and tried new recipes.
  • Taught Timmy how to play Pachisi, after my mom sent us a game in the mail (thanks, Mom!) We've each won one game.
  • Met a few little deadlines.
  • Made time to read, which is something I love to do but rarely take the time to do it.

All in all, a good week.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Abby's bike camp

The Boston Globe ran a few photos of the Lose the Training Wheels program in yesterday's "Globe South" section. There was a much more in-depth pictorial online. A smiling, helmeted Abby is in the third photo. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Concert preview

Here's my preview of the Plymouth Philharmonic Celtic Pops concert, coming up this weekend. I didn't play up the Guinness as much as I would have liked to.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Better

It's been two days since I wrote my last post, and I'm feeling much better. It's been a good weekend, with some extra sleep and downtime for me, both of which I desperately needed.

I did my Sunday-morning yoga, and although it was hard (because I haven't done it in more than a week, almost two) I felt better for having done it. I got some household things done. The boys had two birthday parties yesterday and Abby had friends over today, so that kept them occupied and cut down on the regular cries of "Mom!"

I also lost almost two pounds in my second week of using SparkPeople, an online weight-loss/healthy lifestyle resource. When I started it two weeks ago, I was pretty overwhelmed by all the information on the website, plus just trying to find my way around. I told myself I'd give it two weeks and if I hated it, I'd stop using it.

I've lost just over 4 pounds in the two weeks, and am actually really loving the website. I'm writing a small article about it, so I'm not going to wax too poetic here, but there are a lot of features and functions that are just great for an introverted planner-type who loves data, like myself.

***
This is another unusual week, schedule-wise. Some lessons are rearranged; I need to teach some additional makeup lessons; I have a dentist appointment (boo!) and a hair appointment (yay!) I also have Timmy's preschool teacher conference, which is fine, but it means Timmy doesn't have school that day. I think I see a full morning of the gym and grocery shopping for us after the conference.

Last but not least, Abby has been in a much better frame of mind, which makes everything easier. She had a terrific day at school on Friday, and has continued to be chipper and mostly cooperative for much of the last two days. She isn't even too upset by the boil water order we're under here in the Boston area, because of a gigantic water main problem.

All in all, it's been a good weekend. I'd like it to carry over into the next 5 days.

Friday, April 30, 2010

A little reflection

I haven't been writing in this space too much. Some of that is due to being busy writing for other spaces. Most of it is that I just haven't had too much that I've wanted to share.

It's been a tough few weeks, frankly. I did feel a good energy and productivity bounce when the kids returned to school on Monday after a week-plus at home, but overall, I've been in a bit of a funk. Not feeling good about my mothering skills, my patience level, my home, my body, you name it, I'm funky about it.

My candidate lost my town's selectman's race (by 32 votes -- approximately 1%) and I've had a number of Charlie Brown-like experiences -- trying to do nice things and having them backfire; inadvertently inserting my car into the middle of a funeral procession to the annoyance of the mourners; being pestered by neighborhood dogs -- it just seems like it never ends.

I was talking with a friend today and realized, as I was explaining it to her, that a number of things in my usual schedule have been thrown off, too, sometimes with snowball effects. I didn't get to do my yoga last Sunday because the kids didn't all go to church with Earl. I didn't get to do my usual Wednesday-morning-paperwork extravaganza because I had an early medical appointment (which I was almost late for, because I didn't expect to have to pry open my frozen car doors or scrape the frost off my windshield on April 28, for crying out loud.) So the tension is building, as is the paper pile, which leads to more tension. But at the end of the long days of this week, all I've wanted to do is crawl into bed, paper pile or no paper pile.

Last night, the kids were awful, awful, and had an earlier-than-lately bedtime. Feeling relieved that they were in bed before I was dead tired, myself, I thought I'd watch a little TV. Everyone raves about Mad Men, so I picked an episode from the On-Demand menu, and was promptly disturbed by the opening titles, which showed an animated silhouette of a man falling next to a skyscraper. Instantly I was transported back to September 12, 2001, when Katie Couric held up the front page of The New York Times on the "Today" show. The photo was of a well-dressed businessman, free-falling to his certain death with the World Trade Center in the background.

Maybe it's more than a funk. I think I'm having a really tough time.

Now, if I go the raindrops-on-roses-and-whiskers-on-kittens route, I have many things to be cheerful, or at least un-funky, about. Overall good health. A wonderful husband; three great kids. A home, meaningful work I enjoy, a comfortable standard of living. I know all these things, and am so thankful for them. Really.

I think what I am is tired. Tired physically, from cutting out most sugar in my diet and pushing myself to exercise more, and never getting as much sleep as I really need. Tired of hearing "Mom!" 84 times a day; tired of the routine of work and caring for a family and a house. I wish we could go on a vacation, just Earl and me, and rest for a week. I think that would recharge me, more than anything.

Since I don't see that as a possibility in the near future, I think I'll go to bed early. Goodnight.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Today's column

Today is a day off from the kids' swimming lessons. A couple of weeks ago was a different story. Today's family column is here. Enjoy!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Ups and downs

It's Friday of school vacation week. In some ways it's been a really good time.

The best part of the week has been Abby's participation in the Lose the Training Wheels program. She has learned to ride a two-wheeler independently, and I am so, so proud of her. Watching her ride yesterday, I thought my heart would burst. I took photos and video, but was so far away that they're not very clear. I am hoping that today, on the last day of the program, I'll be able to get closer and take some good shots.

Learning to ride is a major accomplishment for Abby. She's proud of herself, and pleased with her progress. She's also really tired, both from the physical effort and the mental effort of trying to stay engaged with her program helpers, and also being aware of her surroundings as she rides. This has made for some difficult times at home, naturally. I do think that all that effort will pay off this summer, though, in giving her another activity she can enjoy, and that we can do together as a family.

Another highlight was that my mother was visiting. We had originally planned on making the trip to her home in western New York, but when the opportunity for Abby's bike camp came up, we changed our plans. I was so happy that Mom was here, and that she got home safely yesterday.

I also landed some writing work yesterday, and sold a couple of unwanted jewelery pieces at a gold party last night. I only made about $40, but there was another woman there who made $1300, and a couple of others who walked away with $700. I just didn't have that much gold that I wanted to part with, but some others really cashed in. It was fun.

The rest of the week has been a mixed bag. I've not been at my best in terms of mothering, which has been making me feel a little sad. I've been doing moderately successful with eating well, although I went a wild on the tortilla chips at the gold party last night. I've also been keeping to my exercise commitment, even hitting the gym first thing yesterday morning.

The most difficult thing has been hearing the kids say "Mom" every 15 seconds, for 14 hours a day. Today's cycle is starting now. Time to get the boys' breakfast.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A couple of articles

Goodness, it's been a long time since I've written here. Part of that is due to my working on a couple of pieces for the Ledger (links below). Another part is because it's school vacation week, and mommy time has supplanted writing time. And the time that's left has been spent with my Mom, who was visiting from Rochester.

No matter. Here is my preview of Sunday's pops concert by the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, and here is my review of the Milton Players' production of "Leading Ladies." It's column week, to, so I'll have that up in a couple of days.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Go with the flow

A friend lent me a Baron Baptiste yoga DVD a few months ago, which I've enjoyed. It's a beginner-level thing, and I can do most of the poses, even if not perfectly. Baron is good about reminding people that it's not about perfection, anyway. I really like it.

Mindful that I can't keep the DVD forever, I ordered "The Yoga Bootcamp Box," also by Baron. I peeked inside the box this week, and decided that, while sending myself away for a weekend to do nothing but practice yoga, meditate, walk and journal would be lovely, it's not really a possibility right now. But, knowing I'd have some time alone this morning, I listened to the guided meditation first thing, and then decided to attempt not the reasonable, 20-minute pose sequences, but to go for the big one, the 75-minute flow.

Let's just say that by the time we got to child's pose (or the "Thank God asana," as Baron put it) I was ready for it.

Even with many, many modifications, I discovered I have a long way to go. Power yoga is not for sissies. Or fatties. Eating a breakfast of chocolate-chip pancakes beforehand is not recommended, either.

But I survived, and, if I don't think about how stiff and weak I felt or how lumpy I looked, I realize I did enjoy it, sort of. It's more of a feeling of being intrigued and wanting to try again. Ommmm.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Surgery follow-up

Earl's surgery on Monday went very smoothly. He is healing nicely and being a very good patient. Best of all, the pathology report came back yesterday, and the cancer was completely removed. It's a load off all our minds.

Monday morning, Abby's stomach was still "squeezy," and I realized it was anxiety over Earl's surgery, not a stomach bug, that was causing her nausea. Poor girl! She barely held it together until she got to school, but then was fine for the rest of the day. She's still not eating as much as she normally would, and seems a little anxious, although she's not talking about it. She will probably feel much better when Earl resumes his normal schedule in a few days.

I've been feeling a little squeezy, myself, for a few different reasons. The surgery was on my mind, of course, and waiting for the lab results was tough, too. Then I had to call an editor to discuss a new project -- more exciting than anxiety-provoking, but I still got a little nervous. Then, of course, it was time to do taxes, which isn't nervewracking but it's not fun, either.

Thankfully, all that is behind me. Here's to cancer-free husbands, non-squeezy daughters, the end of tax season, and exciting writing projects to work on. Things are looking up.