Thursday, January 31, 2013

...a snow day the Great White North?

What can I say except the kids enjoyed their 'free' day off!

Woo hoo!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 help #4

...enroll in an art class


Apparently, she needs some guidance with respect to: how-to-draw-portraits?

You be the judge....

Here is a portrait she drew of me this evening (while I was minding my own business, reading to the big kids):

Our conversation:

Audrey:  Hey mommy look at the picture I drew for you!  It is yooouu!  (spoken most             joyfully!) 
Me:  Oh? (long pause)  It is? 
Audrey:  Well here are your eyes.  To help you see better.  Four of them.
               And a rainbow head 'cause it's pretty. 
Me:  Oh?  That is my head? 
Audrey:  No.  Ooops.  Soorrrry.  (all in the tone of a slightly bemused sorority girl)   I mean its your big, giant belly.


My whiny thoughts:

Did she have to use so many adjectives?

Does she really think I have green fuzz in my belly button?

Perhaps I should have accepted her description as my head; and hoped she made it so large in order to accommodate all of my brains...

Tuesday, January 29, 2013 continue interviewing

...for our soon-to-be-new-nanny/babysitter

I wrote about the search last week and how I had just begun the process.

I wrote about how complicated the semantics are.


I gave my opinion about how Audrey might react to the new sitter.


Well, I was correct about dreading it, the semantics of the job description, and how Audrey is handling the news.

Audrey was sitting next to me on the couch last week while I was compiling a list of potential applicants from the websites and  Many of the applicants post their photos alongside their job descriptions.

Audrey was commenting while I was clicking on the possibilities....
"Not that one."
"I don't like her".
"I don't like ANY".
"I think Heather can just stay with us".
Did I mention Audrey is 3?  Not 13....


I am not a fan of interviews.

My palms get sweaty.  My stomach does flip-flops.  My breathing rate increases.

Yup...even when I am the interviewER.

I feel like I am trying to convince them to work for me.
I want you to play quietly with my preschool daughters for nine hours.  Do fun things: pretend play, practice their writing, color in one of their million coloring books.  I want you to feed them a healthy lunch.  Did I mention you have to convince them to eat it...without threatening them?  I am the only one allowed to threaten them.  No TV.  It distracts my patients.  You can't let them cry because it distracts my patients.  And you definitely can't let The Queen have one of her notorious temper tantrums (it would distract my patients).  Can you also make sure the dishwasher is emptied, the house is tidy (you know...the patients), and snacks are ready for the big kids when they get home from school?
Geez...I need convincing to work for me.

I completed four interviews Friday and Saturday.
I did one phone interview over the weekend.
I completed two more interviews today and I still have two more to do later in the week.

The good news is I had so much interest in the job that I pulled it off of the nanny sites by Saturday afternoon.

The bad news is, of the seven interviews I have completed I have only ruled-out two girls.

The great news is any of the other candidates would be great choices.

I wish I could give each of them a job.

I want to make each of them happy.

They were each so sweet.

I think I will I narrow the field down to three candidates....

and then I will let Mark decide.

Friday, January 25, 2013 share more interesting articles

...that I read this week.  We'll call this take 2.

These are the articles I read this week that I was so impressed by I emailed them to myself so I could read them again.

1.  If it wasn't obvious to you before, it will be now...I am a grammar nerd.  I think in a previous life I must have been a linguist.

I find the discussion on the use of commas fascinating.  Over the years Mark and I have had conversations about the use of commas with conjunctions and lists.  I was taught and believe that the IPA system is correct.  In other words...use the comma.

You can judge for yourself.  The arguments pro and con are provided in this intriguing article.

The Comma...Use or Not Use??

2.  I found the next article endearing and sweet.  It makes me want to donate my girls' dolls to small town local libraries when they grow out of them (although, secretly I hope they'll always love dolls).

A beautiful life for a doll.

3.  Finally, while it might be impressive I am citing an article from the Harvard Business Review (HBR), please don't be fooled.  If only I had the luxury of serenely perusing intellectual periodicals such at the New York Times or the HBR...

In fact, I get most of my article and blog links from a handy little app on my phone that delivers topics of interest to me.  And each night I read until my eyes can no longer remain open.  Yes, I fall asleep each night to the soft glow of my phone.

I wonder if sleeping with my phone is detrimental to my health?

Sitting is terrible for your health!

This article certainly validates our intent to teach our kids to be active, but even more importantly presents the idea that activity can be built into everyday routines.

Perhaps we should start studying spelling words and math facts while jumping on the trampoline?

Thursday, January 24, 2013 enjoy the day in Syracuse the new addition at the mall.

What once was the Carousel now Destiny USA.  This is THE place for entertainment if you live around the area.

The primary reason for our visit was that Isabella wanted to do the Canyon Climb for her birthday celebration with her friends.  The children had the day off of school two of her friends and their siblings and their moms and our convenient these ladies are my friends...joined us for a super fun outing.

First we enjoyed Wonder Works.  A hands-on children's museum like place.  There were so many displays and activities for each of the children (3-12) and they all found something they enjoyed.

Mind games:

Ball games:

Bed of nails:

Future astronaut training:

Bubble blowing:

And these weren't even the highlights of the place!

It was the climbing the kids thought was the BEST!  Here's the 'birthday girl' in her climbing finery.

And all of the other climbers...

Friend 1...a rock start climber!

Friend 2, a.k.a. Isabella's sister, or so they are asked ALL the time.
Jolene and B

The boys.
Next time, maybe I'll try it.

Instead today, the little girls and I enjoyed several rounds on the carousel...

And a quiet stroll through the mall...

My pirates:

Ahoy! There!  Out there!"

What a day!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013 begin the search

...for a new nanny.


What is the difference?

I don't exactly need someone full time (babysitter).

My hours are usually fixed although flexible (nanny).

Yet this individual has to feed my children (babysitter), transport my big ones to activities (nanny), and run errands as needed (nanny).

I pay hourly (babysitter).

I need someone to do light housekeeping such as empty the dishwasher and keep the house tidy (nanny and babysitter).

As I was writing the advertisement for new nanny/babysitter I realized that I have a lot of demands.

This is the applicant I am looking for:

Too bad she lives in Chicago.

Friend of mine or not...this poster describes Audrey's reaction to our sitter-to-be:


This process is no fun.

And I have barely begun to look through the applicants...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 try to make rice


We eat plenty of rice in this house.

And I am TERRIBLE at making it.

Sometimes its too dry.  Often its too sticky.  Occasionally I burn it.  Many times I undercook it.

Over and over.

I have asked for advice from my good friend who is a chef, from friends whom have had us over for dinner, even from acquaintances who are native to Mexico and Spain.

I am hopeless.

My family agrees.

Thus, typically I resort to Minute Rice.

While Minute Rice IS timely, and usually turns out nearly perfect, I always feel as if I am slightly cheating my way to a good meal.

I continue to persevere.

Last week I even busted out my rice cooker.  Again.


While we were home over the holidays, my Aunt gave each of the children a book.  And Isabella's was the lovely children's cookbook:

I love cookbooks.

We also have several children's cookbooks.  Most always, I find cookbooks for children have typical 'kid food' in them.  Things like chicken fingers, pizza, pancakes, or desserts.

Not this treasure.  This cookbook for children has meals you would want your children to eat.  There are also beautiful photos AND a few recipes for rice.

Abbey and I tried a new one this afternoon.

Arroz Blanco.

Looks pretty good doesn't it!

I was super pleased.

Even the peanut gallery expressed their pleasant surprise at supper this evening.

A great improvement.

Not perfect.  My rice was still probably a little too moist and a tad too sticky.

But it wasn't gluey or crunchy.

I'll keep trying though.

And maybe, someday, I'll even be able to serve it at a dinner party.

Just in case you were appears the trick in making good rice is to let it soak first.

Thank you Aunt Debbie!  Abbey and I had fun trying a new recipe this evening.

Monday, January 21, 2013 wonder how

...the weekend could have slipped away so quickly!

Oh My.

We were so excited to have my brother and my sister-in-law visit this weekend with our niece and nephew.

They endured a tortuous trip with their barely-nine-month-old and their nearly three year old way up here to Northern New York.

Eva dressed herself for the trip:

Evidently...she forgot to check the weather forecast.

Today's high was 9.  

Who would leave VA for NY in the winter??  Did I mention they had to drive through DC on Inagural weekend?

Long.  Trip.

They made it and we ALL had a great time.

somersaults on the stairs of course

indoor play-land time...for the kids

a captured moment

how cute it she!

undercover agent?  builder?
Abbey followed Liam around all weekend in order to hold him at ANY given opportunity.
Thank you for making the trip!

The time together was priceless.  We built so many memories for our little ones this weekend.

We love you...
Aunt Titi and Uncle Kyle

Thursday, January 17, 2013 share some of the interesting things

...that I have read this week

To keep me honest about reading more, I thought it might be fun to share some articles and tidbits that I come across once a week or so that really peak my interest.

Maybe someday, when my kids read all these blog entries I write, they'll appreciate knowing what piques my interests.

1.  I found this article both comforting and interesting.  Comforting because we chose not to send Audrey to preschool this year.  And interesting well validating may be a better word, because I often get strange looks from acquaintances when they find out she isn't in preschool.

2.  This is a gem...I am sort-of a grammar nerd.  Truly.  And I love to re-aloud.  But sadly, yes, I actually was mispronouncing most of these words incorrectly.

3.  This article caught my interest because of my own inner-conflict with wasting time.  In fact, I held off joining the FB world for so long because I knew that it would suck precious moments of my free time away from me.  I fooled myself into believing that just because I never wrapped myself up into 'looking at the pages of old high-school classmates' or 'stalking potential new friends' that it was just a way to be connected.

However, I have found myself in recent months checking my 'news-feed' several times a day.


I. Have. No. Idea.

The updates in my newsfeed are not even that interesting.

So, while I am not going to the extreme of breaking up with FB, I have deleted the app on my phone and now will only check once a day or so on my computer.

Happy reading...

Note:  If you only read ONE of the above articles, choose the grammar one.  Just for kicks, to give yourself a little quiz about the words and how you pronounce them.

Bonus:  It is the shortest article.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 let Abbey ride her scooter


Abbey got a new 'lectric scooter for Christmas.

However, we had several inches of snow before Christmas and came home from our trip to Michigan to several FEET of snow.

Hence, there has been no opportunity for scooter-riding since she received this grand gift from the fat, jolly, old man.

But we have had an unusual warm front sweep the great-white-north.

Not bust-out-the-flip-flops warm but soggy-wet-mess heat wave-esque.  Warm enough to melt nearly all of our snow.  And unfortunately for Abbey, leave the roads a gross, salty, wet mess.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday...the conditions were prime.

The roads were dry.  The sun was out.  And it was a balmy 28 degrees.

Scooter time!

Does she look cold to you?
Concentrating.  This is harder than it looks!



gone...the car that is.

Sadly, the snow is back.  And the scooter has been put away again.

But it is charged and ready for the next, balmy winter day.

Monday, January 14, 2013 work on tongue twisters

...with my children.

After all I am a speech-pathologist.

My kids should be great at these...right?

Take 1:

Take 2:

Perhaps we need a little more practice?

Or maybe I shouldn't market my services based on the performance of my offspring?

Disclaimer:  I do not practice tongue-twisters with the children.  They happen to have a Little People CD with the Peter Piper rhyme that we listen to often enough.  When we were driving home this evening, Audrey started reciting this rhyme.  I thought it was pretty cute how close she was to reciting it correctly.  And, of course, I thought the grandparents would think it adorable as well.

Sunday, January 13, 2013 make dinner miserable for my children as I could.

What was on the menu you ask?

Spaghetti.  With Meatballs.

Most children would love this meal.  Not mine.

Spaghetti.  Sauce.  Meatballs.

Nothing unusual...although I will admit I do use whole wheat noodles.  Yes, they are probably not the tastiest.  But I do buy the 'extra thin' version so that you can't taste the difference quite as much.

And of course we sprinkle on some freshly grated parmesan cheese.

And yes.  The meatballs were homemade.  (Oh.  The horror.)

Getting them to eat their meals tonight resulted in the usual threats from us...
"If you don't empty your bowl you will not have any dessert."  
"You won't get any dessert today or tomorrow.  Or ever!"
"You will not get any snacks either.  No snacks after school". 
"We will never feed you again...." (just kidding but that is what we would like to say; if only it would get them to eat a square meal.)
Followed by this conversation:

Abbey asked:  "Well what is for dinner tomorrow night?" She likes to contemplate whether or not the stakes are such that she'll eat that meal...or whether she'll lose dessert anyhow.

Me:  "Something you probably aren't going to like."

To which Isabella's response was:  "Well it's not like it can get any worse."


It can't get any worse than spaghetti and meatballs?


Try me.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013 post my 2013

...New Year's resolutions.

I wanted to take a moment to reflect on how I did with last year's resolutions.

So many thoughts went through my head as I re-read what I wrote about this time last year.

-Missing so many many people.
-It was written about a time that seems so long ago.

2012 was a very different year than 2011.

Mark was home.
Fort Drum has become our home.
Augustinian has become 'our' school.
Our family was together.
Mark was here to share my worries with, temper my crazy ideas, and take over when I needed a break.

What a difference his presence has made.

As for my 2012 resolutions I had stated that:

I will not make excuses for myself, my children, or the state of my home.

I am going to try to make better, healthy choices.
Epic Fail.  This one needs to become a priority.  I am not getting any younger folks.  The wrinkles are wrinkling on (taking off make-up consistently), the teeth are getting older (flossing), the toxins are building up (drinking more water).  Make this number one this year.

I am going to try to not volunteer for things.
Moderate Success.  I have a few things that I like to do.  Make a meal for a family.  Coordinate the book fair.  Attend unit activities.  My mantra for all of the other things that arise....sign-up last...and the task will probably be volunteered for by someone else.

I am going to try to read more.
Minimal Success.  I am reading.  Always more blogs than books.  And often more magazines than newspapers.  But I am reading.  Reading while I wait for the kids at their activities, reading while I run on my treadmill, and reading till my eyelids droop shut at night.  I say minimal success, because I wanted to read more 'substantial' reading material.  For now...I will remain content with light-reading-material.


Without further adieu....

My 2013 Resolutions

1.  Healthier choices.  Drive safer.  Drink more water.  Sleep more.  Lift weights.  Exercise with a plan.  Better meal planning.  Blah, blah, blah.  Don't we all try to work on this same resolution to some degree?

2.  Facilitate better relationships between our kids.  The little girls are two peas in a pod.  Will floats easily amongst all of the girls...teasing them, wrestling with them, enjoying their company.  For the most part all of them 'get along'.  However, I sense there is this competition amongst them all in which they are vying for our attention.  I would really like to see them enjoy each other's company more, and rely on 'winning my attention' less.  In about 18 months we'll move again and they'll only have one another...

3.  Learn how to use my new camera.  Wow.  This thing is complicated.  I have always enjoyed good quality photo and I often take pretty good pictures.  But I want to really learn how to use the features my camera has to offer.

4.  Enjoy the quiet days at home.  I found I would run errands just to run errands.  To get out of the house.  To stop at Starbucks.  To run to Target.  To waste a morning.  Especially while Mark was gone.  I want to stay home on those mornings without plans to take the time to stop...and smell my roses.  My third little rose will head to Kindergarten in the fall and I'd like to enjoy my time with her.

Here's to 2013...

Monday, January 7, 2013 have a smooth

...first day back at work.

I love my job.

However, I sometimes feel as if I complain about working 'too much'.

Sometimes with all of the responsibilities of our crazy home-life I think I would prefer to not have any work responsibilities.

But then I work and remember why I do....

12 appointments.
1 new evaluation.
Lots of new words.
Several mastered sounds.
One child learned to drink from a straw.
One adult reported he can make appointment for himself now over the phone.
One little girl has begun to string three words together.
Another adult has in one short session begun to improve the flow of his speech.
One parent reached out to a community service I put her in touch with.

As a therapist I don't pretend to have all of the answers.
Instead I offer only a big bag of tricks and a strong commitment to my families.

AND...I always wish I could do so much more for the families I work with.

I wish I could figure out the 'trick' that would compel the little boy to use his communication board.
I wish I could provide the young family a reliable vehicle to drive.
I wish I could give respite care to the mother who so desperately needs it.

But for today, I'll relish all of these small successes I saw.

And remember these small successes are a BIG deal for my families.

I love being able to help facilitate these accomplishments.

It certainly was a smooth day.

Sunday, January 6, 2013 ease back

...into our crazy life.

As you can see, I took a long little hiatus from blogging.  From reading blogs, writing blogs, and searching more projects for myself to do on blogs.

We enjoyed three pretty full weeks of family time.

The time leading up to Christmas was so exciting with the four little ones in the house.  And Christmas day was all we had hoped for.  The kids were excited, grateful, and kind to one another.

After Christmas, we traveled back to Michigan to spend time with our families.

I have reflected before that our children have a very different upbringing than Mark and I did with respect to the proximity of our extended family members.  However, I think our somewhat frequent visits home, certainly pay off.  Not only do our children look forward to seeing their Great-Aunts and Uncles and second-cousins, but they ask when (and by name) when they are going to see them.

Just this weekend the little girls were playing upstairs and Mark and I overhead them pretending to 'take a trip to visit Grandma Viele'.  Abbey was Grandma Viele.

This warms my heart.

Especially since there is never enough time to see everyone and spend the kind of quality time with each family that we would like to.

Nevertheless, we really appreciate all of the effort our parents, cousins, Aunts/Uncles, and grandmother's make to see us on our much-to-abbreviated timeline.

Mark and I spent the weekend relaxing, drinking coffee, enjoying space between ourselves and our young ones (10 days is a lot of constant family time), and preparing for the craze of our schedules to resume tomorrow.


In we eased back in.

Lunches are made.
The kids are showered.
They're in bed (and asleep) early.
Tomorrow's dinner is prepared.

We are about as ready for our return to our crazy we get.

On another are some pictures of our time back in MI.

Disclaimer:  I received a new camera for Christmas.  I took somewhere around 500 photos.  MANY did not turn out and I had to scrap them.  Some photos are better than others.  If we saw you when we were home, and I don't have a photo...I am sorry.

I have a lot to learn about taking photos.  Number 3 on my resolution list (I'll post this another day).

They are in no particular order.

Abbey and her second cousin, Liz.

So many Viele's showed up for an impromptu dinner Jean hosted for us! 

My Dad and the kids at the GWL.  Thanks Dad, it was an awesome visit!

My nephew Garrison and Audrey.

Our cherubs with their third cousin Mickey and their cousin G-man.

Great Aunt & Uncle and their third cousin Da vid.

Great-Grandma Viele remember Isabella's birthday...and made her, her signature cake!

Mimi, Richard, and the kids.

Grandma Viele, Aunt Debbie, and my cousins Emily and Brooke

Enjoying game time with Steph!

A number 9 candle plus a number 1 candle...equals 10.  Viele Math

Costumed and ready for the Magi Quest at the GWL.

Two very happy grandparents....all of their grandchildren at home at once.