Sunday, June 29, 2008

Fourth of July Massacre

This is why I work in the medium of paint and wood.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Fun With Phonics

Corinne's speech therapist has a bunch of flash cards depicting a word and a picture that symbolizes the word (for example a ghost for "boo"). Some of the words are a little bit obscure, as they are aimed more at teaching the child a certain sound combination than at the vocabulary itself. Because Corinne is so visual and so bright, I usually try to give her an explanation of what the thing is, and how it relates to her, whenever possible (although I was hard pressed to make "Abe", as in the president, meaningful to her). She is surprisingly good at remembering these explanations and then using the word later on in a completely appropriate context (like when she said "horsie 'nipped' me", or when she yells "Fussy baby" at crying children).

So this week one of the words was "naughty", and the picture was of a puppy chewing on a shoe. Corinne is certainly familiar (and quite delighted) with this word and its meaning, so she spent some extra time studying it thoughtfully. She then said "that doggie maybe ate all his dog food and then ate the shoe". We praised this original thought and then went on with the cards. A few minutes later we came to "noisy", which was represented by a man with a jackhammer. For some reason the man's head was not included in the picture, probably to not detract from the real focus, the noise. Once again Corinne studied the picture for a long time before concluding that "maybe that naughty doggie ate that dadda's head".

Awesome. That girl is 100% her mother's (and father's) daughter.

And then there was today's speech therapy session. The word was "sucker" and the pictorial representation for this rather humorous word was something to this effect:

Corinne got very excited and I expected her to say that she wanted that sucker or that we see those type of suckers at the candy store at "Dumma's beach home". Instead she said that she has a "boo-die sucker" upstairs in her room.

The therapist said, "oh, you have a birthday sucker?" and Corinne adamantly said no to this. She kept repeating "boo-die sucker". A game of 20 questions ensued. "You have something round like this?" ; "you have a birdie?"; "can you go get it and show us?". No, no and no. She began to cry with frustration so we quickly diverted her attention to something else. After the session I asked her about it again, the curiosity killing me at this point, and this time had her take me upstairs to show me. She went straight for her room, looked around for a minute, and then pulled open her dresser drawer but couldn't find what she was looking for. She then said "it's on the door" and "it's light blue". Suddenly I knew. I opened her closet door and retrieved from the bag with all her medicines and supplies, this item:

Her face lit up with excitement and relief that the connection was finally made. A boogie sucker. Jeeze momma, get with the program.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Strawberry rhubarb pie

Five years ago when we moved into this house I got it into my head that we needed to plant rhubarb because I had memories from my childhood (I know, what a shocker) of having a couple plants in our backyard. Pete mocked me for this because, let's face it, rhubarb is kind of a pointless fruit (or I guess technically a vegetable). I swore that I'd make strawberry rhubarb pie with it, and for the next four years it grew and sprouted and rotted in the fall with nary a pie to be had. I'd forgotten about the part where I hate to cook. Well, damn it, this year I cut those stalks and made that strawberry rhubarb pie, and here's a picture to prove it.

Take that, Pete. You nay sayer!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Not so Loserish

We had a funny flash rain storm this afternoon, the kind where the quality of light says that there just has to be a rainbow somewhere. I went outside and looked up in the sky to see if I could find one. Turns out it wasn't up in the sky, it was right in my own backyard. Boy, if that isn't some sort of a metaphor or symbolism or cliche or something, I don't know what is!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


One of Corinne's favorite play themes is of being safe. It started after we watched "A Bug's Life", where she took an instant fascination with the ants running and hiding in their ant hill to escape the evil grasshoppers. She likes to build "homes" for her animals. These can be out of blocks or legos or rocks (if you're lucky) or more difficult to work with mediums such as play-doh or sand or leaves. She is a demanding perfectionist of a foreman with a few non-negotiable requirements for these homes. They must have a roof, they must have no visible openings (i.e. windows) and they must have a door that can be closed completely. Once the home is built to her specifications (which often result in high levels of frustration on the part of everyone involved), she fills the home with her favorite animal friends du jour, declares that "so and so is nice and safe in here now", and squinks* herself silly. Then that's pretty much it for the game. The friends don't come out of the home and no one else is allowed in, no matter how much they knock. That feeling of safety is really all she was going for, and now she has attained that, she can just sit back and revel in it.

Well, the other day Denise, her service coordinator, playgroup aid, and developmental specialist extraordinaire was trying to build upon this theme a bit in the spirit of DIR/ Floortime, and asked Corinne what made her feel safe. Corinne responded enthusiastically and without even a moments hesitation, "Momma!"

Momma makes her feel safe. I mean, does this seem like a fairly abstract concept for a three year old? We all know that it's what is at the root of a young child's love for a parent, but how many kids actually realize this? I don't know, maybe it's just me thinking my kid is the smartest, most clever kid ever. Either way, it made my day.

* If you don't know what a squink is, you must not have met Corinne yet. Some call this type of behavior "posturing", "stimming", "flapping" or "stereotypic behavior". But Corinne, in her infinitely unique way, has her own version of it where she clenches both fists, arms rigid, and makes a strange facial grimace. She does it when she is very stimulated, excited or has accomplished something. She's been doing it since she was a baby, long before any diagnosis, which is when we gave it its innocent name. Squinking is so much a part of who she is that all her providers and doctors now refer to it as squinking also, like it is some sort of official medical term. We're kind of proud of that, in a strange sort of way, like maybe we should patent it.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Anniversary Reflections

This weekend was our 6th wedding anniversary. Dumma and Dumpa were gracious enough to take our little darling for the weekend allowing us to celebrate in our usual way: Take-out sushi, cake and a movie. I know, not all that glamorous, but it's what we've done for the past 6 years and it suits us just fine. We could have gone out for the sushi, but we find that we enjoy it more when we can wear our fat pants, take our time eating (in Pete's case, anyway. He can linger over a few rolls for the entire duration of a movie. He likes to savor. Me, I use my hands to eat sushi and pretty much stuff it in as fast as I can chew), and then collapse on the couch in a food coma. In fact, we even have a unit of measure for how much one has eaten: "sushi-full", as in, "are you just full, or are you sushi full?" This term was coined after eating at an all you can eat sushi place off the strip in Vegas. We had planned to drive for two hours to our next camping destination but instead drove about 10 minutes from the city, pulled over on the side of the road and painfully crawled into the back of Groucho, moaning all the way, to sleep it off like a pride of lions after the kill. It was the fullest I have ever been.

Anyway, also a part of our anniversary tradition is to look through our wedding album while listening to our wedding CD and relive the event. It really was everything I'd always dreamed my wedding would be. We wanted it to be very unique, personalized, and memorable, and I think it was. Here's some things we'll never forget.
  • What a perfect spring day it was. Sunny and warm with a slight breeze- the Gods were smiling down on the Loser Family that day.
  • Our ceremony in a cemetary. It's not because we're ghoulish or anything. It's just that the town we lived in at the time had this beautiful chapel available for nondenominational weddings of 120 guests or so. And most importantly they allowed Seven on the premises to act in her roll as our flower puppy and ring bearer.
  • How amazing our string quartet sounded as they struck up those first few chords, and especially when they played Bach's "Air" as I came down the aisle.
  • Pete's brother's reading, a poem that he wrote himself, literally the morning of the wedding. We have a great picture of him at the chapel, pen and paper in hand, putting the final touches on it. It was about Pete's previous reluctance to committ and was unbelievably clever and funny, yet also very sweet.
  • Seven's stage fright during the ceremony. She forgot all the training we had done to have her pick up a basket and bring it up the aisle to us. Instead she ran up there in a submissive posture and planted a nice big paw print on the train of my dress as she hid behind us. After the ceremony she threw up (outside, thank God).
  • Crying like a baby when presenting a rose to each of our parents (who also cried like babies) to thank them for a job well done.
  • Having one of our groomsmen, Mark, help bustle up my dress with his giant contractor-grade hands because my dear sister, the maid of honor, was nowhere to be found.
  • mmmm, oyster bar
  • Trying to cut the cake for what felt like 20 minutes, not realizing that there was a layer of cardboard between the layers, while appropriately playing Blue Man Group's "Tension". No face smashing.
  • Our semi-choreographed first dance to the Beatles "When I'm Sixty Four"
  • Fulfilling my father's dream of dancing to "Sunrise, Sunset" from Fiddler on the Roof.
  • Pete's hilarious performance during the garter retrieval to the tune of Propellorhead's "Spy Break" (think James Bond action music)
  • My cousin Dan's girlfriend, Michele, and my cousin Eric's girlfriend, Mary, practically knocking each other down in their quest to catch the bouquet. Michele won, and was indeed the next one married. Come to think of it, groomsman Mark caught the garter and went on to meet his future wife within a month or two of the wedding.
  • Dancing, dancing, dancing. I'm normally not one for dancing, but never have I had so much energy to burn off. And it helps to have all your own handpicked songs, too. We gave our DJ some "must play" songs and then vowed that whenever they came on throughout the evening, we would pause long enough to take it all in and enjoy the moment, 'cause it really does all go by in a blur. My mom also earned the title of "Dancing Queen" that night.
  • My poor dad, so disappointed that the bar closed before he got a chance to do his toast (he is a bit of a procrastinator), which was lovely nonetheless.
  • Slow dancing alone in a mostly empty room for our last song, Tom Wait's "Little Trip to Heaven", and realizing that we're really, really married.
  • Walking back to our house (it was just a couple blocks away) at midnight in wedding gown and tux to pack for the honeymoon, and waving to the cars honking at us.
  • Thinking the next day that it was a good idea to eat the peanut butter torte that had sat out all day and night. I spent the first day of my honeymoon (and most of the plane ride there) puking my guts out with food poisoning. And when we got home I actually considered taking it out of the freezer and eating it again, on the off chance that the torte wasn't the culprit.

The best part of all, besides finally marrying my soul mate after six years of friendship and dating, was spending the best day of my life with family and friends. It is as close as I'll ever get to that little jar I mentioned previously, and my version of heaven on earth.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Loser Book

We actually have a book where we document our most Loser-ish experiences. Pete gave it to me as a Christmas gift one year in the early days of our relationship, before marriage or Corinne. The intro that he wrote for it goes something like this:

"The Loser Book- Dedicated to the good times when you get to laugh at someone else's expense. This book is devoted to recording the worst and stupidest moments in life. Whether dumb or just plain unlucky, it will have been recorded here. This book will be an ongoing legacy of the two dumbest and unlucky people on earth." He goes on to quote: "It takes a big man to cry. It takes a bigger man to laugh at him."

It's sort of like a competition, where the goal is to be featured in the book as little as possible. We have coined the phrase "that's one for the Loser Book" whenever the figurative anvil falls on someone's head. We also try to get a picture of the event and then the non-loser writes the entry. There's even a page at the end for keeping score. I won't say who is in the lead (we've gotten bad about keeping it updated the past few years), but suffice it to say we are both featured prominently, sometimes even as a not-so-dynamic duo. The picture at right is actually the award that we trade back and forth for being the Loser-du-jour. Anyway, I thought it might be amusing to include some of these entries in this blog (when I'm short on material like I am right now). I should also mention that, ironically, we lost the Loser Book for close to a year. I got "extra special super fantastic terrific mention for insisting that I had checked " 'that area' before" when we finally found it in a desk drawer. We both had to write "I promise not to lose the Loser Book" 100 times.

So just this past weekend we had a Loser Book-worthy incident. I shall call it:

"The Eyes Have It"

On our way to Ithaca for the above mentioned reunion, Pete was struck by the Loser arrow once again. We were driving in the Family Dorkster with Corinne in the back seat. She had been pretty good during the long drive, but was beginning to lose patience with being strapped in her car seat and was starting to become demanding. She wanted a drink of seltzer, and handed her sippy cup to Pete, who was in the passenger seat. There was a little bit of juice or something still in it so Pete wanted to dump the contents out the window. Given that the Family Dorkster was new (to us) and still nice and clean, Pete didn't want the juice to splatter all down the side of the van, so he leaned out a bit. I saw him scrambling and grabbing and assumed he had dropped the sippy cup. Turns out his glasses had flown off. We tried to find them (well, I tried. Pete was too blind without them to even be able to see the car, much less a pair of tiny wire rimmed glasses.) to no avail. They must have bounced into the grass and our search radius encompassed a half mile area due to my initial panic when he told me he lost them (instead of just stopping I chose to go to the next exit and turn around). I kept hoping that they might magnify and direct a ray of sunlight and set the grass around them on fire so I could find them (like in that episode of Little House on the Prairie where Mary and Adam get into a carriage accident on the way to... oh never mind. Nobody will get that obscure reference except Debbie). On the bright side I did see a deer drinking from a lovely babbling brook as I walked along the highway, so that was delightful. Also, twenty minutes later we passed an A&W with the little drive through stalls, so Pete was able to get a hot dog, which in his mind negated the entire unfortunate incident. Also lucky for Pete, I wear contacts and have an extra pair of glasses and we happen to have almost the exact same terrible vision (doesn't bode well for Corinne's vision), so he was able to make do with those for the weekend. And they aren't even too girlie. It would have been awesome if they had been tortoise shell and horn rimmed with rhinestones or something. It sucked for me because I had to wear my contacts for about sixteen hours a day, long past the point around 8 pm or so when I just want to gouge them out of my eyes for their dryness. I kept telling him to go to bed so I could have the glasses, which reminded me of Clash of the Titans, with the three blind witches who shared a single glass eye.

(Anyone with me on this one? No? Oh well.)

Along the lines of this most recent of Loser Incidences, there was the time that we were staying overnight at my mom's house for my Grandmother's 90th birthday party. I realized as I was taking my contacts out for the night that I had forgotten to bring a contact lens case, so I put them, with saline, into a small cup for the night. Come morning I went to put them back in and lo and behold, the cup was empty. It seems Pete woke up at some point, no doubt parched from too much alcohol consumption, and got himself a drink using my cup, which in hindsight I guess I shouldn't have left on the bathroom sink. He drank my eyesight. (For our wedding the following year one of my cousins sent me a twelve pack of contact lens cases.)

Are you starting to understand the whole "Loser Family" thing yet?

Sunday, June 1, 2008


This weekend was my five year... OK, my fifteen year... college reunion. Honestly, I feel like I just graduated 5 years ago. I know it's such a cliche, but it seems like just yesterday. Oh, don't get me wrong, I feel old. And there's definitely been a lot of proverbial water under the proverbial bridge since leaving Ithaca College in 1993. Little things like marriages and divorces and death and kids. It's just that emotionally and maturity-wise, I feel like I'm just out of college. I feel like the other parents I see are, like, grown-up, experienced parents, and Pete and I are poser parents; two people just kind of playing house and impersonating real adults.

I am the queen of nostalgia. In this regard, Pete and I are completely different. Pete lives in the here and now; he doesn't have a sentimental bone in his body. When his mom sold the family home of 20 some-odd-years, Pete said good riddance. Then there's me. We moved from my childhood home when I was in 10th grade and I still haven't gotten over it. It drives Pete crazy. Every time we go home (see- I still refer to the town I grew up in as home, even though I have lived in Massachusetts for the last 14 years) I want to drive through good ol' Robinhood Court, where Pete jokes that I had the world's most enchanted childhood of pine needle fort building and endless games of "pretend", and playing with my doll house and kitchen set way longer than I should have been (like in junior high). And whenever we drive though I lament about how much it has all changed and how you just can never go back. How the tree fort is now in someones back yard instead of buried deep in the woods, and how the pond is really nothing more than a puddle now (maybe that's all it ever was?) And how I don't approve of how many trees have been cut down, or that the "circle" (cul de sac) is now paved and has houses all the way around it. And how someday I'm going to buy my house back. Along with my grandparent's camp.

I just have such a hard time letting go. I want to keep the essence of everyone I've ever known (well, maybe just the good ones) and every place I've ever been in a little jar that I can take with me and open up whenever I want and relive everything down to the most minute detail (kind of like the penseive in Harry Potter). To me, that's what heaven will be. You get to go back and do all the best stuff again, and see all the people you knew, to go back to your old bedroom and pet your old dog and play "Star Wars" with your best friends until it gets dark and the fireflies come out and the parents start calling everyone home one by one.

I did have a really great childhood (except for high school, which I hold few fond memories of because, as you can probably surmise, I was a dork. And dorks just don't have a good time in high school.) My college years were even better. When I began in the fall of '89 I was a sheltered, naive, small town girl with a boyfriend back home and two best friends who I had known since I was five years old. I spent the first semester calling and writing home and just being homesick. But somewhere during those four years I changed. Things ended with the hometown boyfriend and I began to enjoy college life and being away from home. I found myself a core group of friends and those four years became some of the best in my life.

Going back to Ithaca always kicks my sentimental mode into overdrive. The drive there, with all the familiar landmarks I had forgotten about until I saw them again, the music of my college years, which I subjected my family to the entire way, the approach into town with the great view of the whole campus perched on the hill, and especially the campus itself (although, much like Robinhood Court, a lot has changed which of course bummed me out). It flooded me with memories and made me burst with excitement yet want to cry at the same time.
It was so great to see my "peeps" again. In college, much like in high school, I didn't have a ton of friends. But the friends that I did have were close ones. The gang was a few of us girls from school (Ithachicks) and a couple of misfit guys from Cornell, the neighboring school, along with some of their friends from Syracuse. It was a time of drinking and singing and grab-assing and frolicking (we actually called it that) and compiling a list of funny quotes, usually conceived while drinking, and then reusing those quotes ad nauseum and one upping each other with one liners and affectionate insults. I was "Red", one of the guys, able to hold her own with the best of them. Those friends helped shape who I am today. They gave me confidence and a sense of belonging.

After college, despite our best intentions, we drifted apart. We did pretty well at first. We got a place on the Cape for a week the first few summers and did some camping trips. And of course there were all the weddings. But we're spread out over four states and soon the kids started coming and it got harder to travel, harder to spare the limited vacation time from real jobs. They all attended, or were in, my wedding six years ago, and we did manage to come together for the ten year reunion, but then we all became incommunicado for the next five years. I'm so glad that we all managed to pull it together for this reunion, and while I won't say that nothing has changed, I still felt the same connection. And now there's the added bonus of seeing every one's kids. What a mind scrambler that is. It's so amazing to watch my friends, that irresponsible, immature bunch of misfits that we were, now being parents, and doing a pretty good job of it. What a great bunch of kids we've managed to create, and how very much like their parents they are in so many wonderful ways.

We all vowed to do a better job staying in touch from now on, and this blog is, in part, my commitment to do just that. We're planning to get together again in a year, maybe meeting somewhere in the middle for a long weekend, and I will personally make sure that happens because this group of people, for all that they are and all that they represent, mean the world to me.

The Ithachicks

The Ithakids

The Gang (most of them)


There are places I'll remember
All my life, though some have changed;
Some forever not for better,
Some have gone and some remain.
All these places have their moments,
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I've loved them all

"In my Life"- The Beatles