Looking back :: The Entertaining House's Humble Beginnings

I'm feeling nostalgic... A lot has happened in the past couple of weeks and so I find myself looking back - at memories, photographs and things. I was looking for a specific photograph that I thought was buried someplace in this blog. It was a photograph of the home we just sold. I never came across the picture, but I did come across my very first blog entry on June 20th, 7 years ago. I read it and smiled. The Entertaining House has come a long way and has morphed into something very different. But I like my attitude and my snarkiness and reliving some of those good ol' days has been a good thing. Boy my kids were little... and pretty cute back then too! ;)

The blog, back then, was called Our Crazy Crowded Home... because it was crazy and it was crowded and we were in the midst of selling it and about to move into the "new" home - The "new" home was the house we sold last week. After the move, and because our home was so much larger, I thought I needed a new name... it was my friend Lorraine who came up with The Entertaining House. And, well, as they say, the rest is history.

The following post was my very first.

"Nothing to Do."

Meet the youngest members of our crazy crowded home







I have nothing to do... nothing whatsoever to do, so I thought I would kill a little time and start my own blog. Why not, everyone's doing it, right? I have no laudry to sort, wash, fold and put away? I have no kids who need and deserve my attention? I have no house I am desperately trying to put on the market? Nope not me -- I have nothing to do!

My cute little button nose (ok crooked and not so little) will magically twinkle and everything in this crazy crowded house will miraculously fall into place!

Instead of actually getting things done I will sit and wish they were done. I will watch my 21 month old son sleep soundly on the couch next to me. This is the (THE) only place he will nap so therefore the world around us must stop so he can get his much needed nap and I can get my much needed break. My two other children have been banished. My 8 year old daughter is in the (gasp) living room watching (gasp) TV... Well, it's not all that bad... she's listening to Radio Disney on TV and dancing. So yes, technically the TV is baby sitting, but she is up and dancing and not sitting and being a couch potato. So all's not completely lost. Now my other son, 6, is upstairs and he probably is being a couch potato and he is probably (gasp) lying on my bed watching some stupid cartoon and most likely he has not taken off his pajamas as I have asked him to do... many times!

It's Wednesday and my older two are on summer vacation. (Why they are calling this a vacation is beyond me. Maybe because it makes me, more than ever, want to vacate the premises!) It's raining and I am delighted. I had promised them we'd go to the beach today, but I am just too lazy and now I do not have to disappoint them nor do I have to go to all the effort that going to the beach with three kids entails. I got off the hook today... wahoo! Instead I shall pay the price with constant bickering and bantering over toys and who gets what and where and when.... Ugh, don't get me started on those danmed things called toys...

My lovely husband and I bought this house before we had any children. It was a charming New England Colonial with a little fence and 4 BR so we could plan for kids and entertain guests for overnight, or longer. Nine years later the antiques have found a new home in the attic and these brightly colored plastic items of all shapes and sizes have invaded our turf! We have been taken over by toys. Our family room used to be a haven of sorts -- big comfy couches, a large wide screen television set, a nice stereo system ... what else could you ask for? The couches are no longer comfy or cozy or overstuffed. To our chagrin they have become bouncy castles, playgrounds and trampolines. Ah yes, the children are so imaginative and their creativity will get them far in life... my ass... my children are disruptive noisy beasts, albeit cute disruptive, noisy beasts. My hi def TV is not for viewing movies, it's been taken over by Sponges and Dinosaurs and red muppets and egads, Bob Saget. Yes, that's right... my older two have recently discovered the tall skinny geek I had hoped to leave behind with my paisley prints, shoulder pads and stirrup pants. How many episodes of Full House will I have to endure? None without a nice alcoholic beverage in hand!

So here we are all cooped up in my crazy crowded lounge. I have a 2200 sq ft house and they all want to be in here, on top of me 24/7... add Bob Saget to that and now I am really desperate to move!

My dreamhouse would have a secret, hidden room with four padded walls.... I will, if I must, settle for a finished basement where Mr. Saget and the kids can play, scream, shout, jump, run, kick and bite and never ever pick up their toys!

2 Ingredient Strawberry Ice Cream :: No machines required!



This was totally Martha Stewart's idea. And I stole it. She used peaches. She called it Sherbet. I used strawberries. We think it tastes more like ice cream than Sherbet. No matter what you call it, it's a fun quick, and easy frozen treat. We loved this for it's simplicity and ease. We loved it because you don't need a fancy ice cream maker. We liked it because it was relatively quick and well, we're an impatient lot. We like instant gratification. And come on, admit it, you do too!

Ingredients
4 cups strawberries, frozen, stems removed
1 can sweetened condensed milk

That's it. Crazy, right? We know!

Directions:

Freeze 4 cups of strawberries and place in a Ziplock bag in your freezer. Lay flat so they don't freeze together. Freeze for about 2 hours or overnight. We always have frozen strawberries on hand for smoothies, and baking. 

In a blender pour in the condensed milk and then add the strawberries. Bend until smooth. When smooth pour mixture into a metal loaf pan. Place in freezer for about an hour. 

After remove and serve!

Note, this is delicious but very sweet. You may want to cut down on the sweetness by adding a little bit of while milk to the mixture, say, about 1/3 of a cup. Test to taste. Kids might like it sweeter than the adults.

If you go strawberry (or any berry or fresh fruit) picking, this is a great way to use up a ton of berries. Fresh berries tend to go soft and start to turn fairly quickly. This is a great and fun summertime activity to do with kids of all ages. 




In the blender, always add the liquid to the blender first!
Otherwise the frozen berries will merge and freeze together and blending will be tough!



Pretty in pink!


Ready to scoop...



Ready to eat!

For a perfectly red, white and blue treat add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and top with fresh blueberry!




On children, and summer... and fall



Today's piece is inspired by a touching post on my friend's Facebook page... As the summer ends, chapters of many of our books are ending as well. Some of our little ones are starting school for the first time while many of our older children will be leaving the nest and heading off to college. This time of year brings with it mixed emotions. As we say goodbye to summer and send our children off to be in the care of others we must learn to let go. Our children will be fine. They will be in great hands. They will grow and thrive and become more of who they are destined to become. We have given them love, affection and strong foundations. We now need to let them learn to become their own people. As summer ends and autumn approaches we have so many wonderful things to look forward to. We can still take advantage of these last warm days and yet we can all look forward to all of the wonderful things that fall has to offer... Cooler temperatures that allow us to put on our cashmere sweaters and toss warm blankets over our shoulders... beautiful foliage, apple picking and pumpkin picking... Large mugs of warm spiced cider or mulled wine... Our days will become shorter and we din't have to put down those delicious sink-your-teeth-into paperbacks, instead we will move from beach blankets to warm crackling fireplaces, or outdoor fire pits... To summer we will soon bid adieu, but we know, as with our children, young and old you will return to us before we know it!


.
via Tumblr



On Children
Kahlil Gibran


Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.


You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.


You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.



Have a wonderful, wonderful weekend and I hope you are all able to get out there and take advantage of these wonderful last days of summer!



XOXO




Jessica

my trail of inspiration...


I have this large black frame that I salvaged from a dumpster death nearly 17 years ago in Greenwich, Connecticut. (I got it before it went to the dumpster as opposed to actually diving into the dumpster for it!) It's been in several of my homes. In one home she showcased a Van Gogh poster of sunflowers. In my last home she sat in the basement collecting cobwebs and dust. I dusted and polished her off and now here she sits against the wall. As you can see she's quite generous in stature. I've been thinking of having the children collaborate on a project. I'd like nothing more than to have have something created by my children together in my new home next to my work space. My children range in ages from 13 to 6.5 and their talents and abilities are equally as varied. So, I really need to come up with an idea that is suitable to all levels and abilities.

in advance... pardon the mess in the photo below!





And then it struck me. It was my "AHA!" moment, if you will.

I had been perusing LuLu de Kwiatkowski's blog, A Trail of Inspiration, that I somehow stumbled across a few months ago. LuLu is LuLu DK, the fabulous creator of the line of fabrics bearing her name. I found her fabrics a few years ago, the younger sister of a classmate who was a good friend in elementary school. I remembered her, adorable, with her blonde pony tails. And here she was gorgeous, grown up, fabulously talented and now fabulously famous. I still saw the adorable little girl with the blonde pony tails.

If you are not familiar with her products, you should be... If you are not familiar with her blog, you should be!

I came across this magnificent entry. Talented decorator, party planner and host, Eddie Ross, had used Lulu's fabric as a table cloth to create a wonderful table setting for a luncheon.

Pinned Image
image via Trail of Inspiration, Lulu DK


ERTravTableSaltPepper
image via Trail of Inspiration, Lulu DK

Isn't that fabric fantastic? It reminds me of the ocean... it reminds me of sea glass and it reminds me of Henri Matisse, famous for his bright colors and collage. And it reminded me of a project that Alexander did when he was no more than 3 years old...


collage, crafting with children, The Entertaining House

Surely we could recreate this to fit a much larger sheet of paper using torn bits of colorful paper!

And so this is what we'll do!
Thank you Lulu for the wonderful idea... and for inspiring!

I'll be sure to show you the final project!
Meanwhile, please check out Lulu's fabulous video for more inspiration!

XOXO


Jessica

Bullying. Something to think about.

Pinned Image


As many of you know bullying has hit close to our home.
I was incredibly taken with this. Touched. Moved. Practically to tears.
I copied the photo and the text below from Pinterest.

A teacher in New York was teaching her class about bullying and gave them the following exercise to perform. She had the children take a piece of paper and told them to crumple it up, stamp on it and really mess it up but do not rip it. Then she had them unfold the paper, smooth it out and look at how scarred and dirty is was. She then told them to tell it they’re sorry. Now even though they said they were sorry and tried to fix the paper, she pointed out all the scars they left behind. And that those scars will never go away no matter how hard they tried to fix it. That is what happens when a child bullies another child, they may say they’re sorry but the scars are there forever. The looks on the faces of the children in the classroom told her the message hit home. Pass it on or better yet, if you're a parent or a teacher, do it with your child/children.

I just love this.

XOXO

Jessica

Give the ol' weather the boot!

Many schools here in Southern Connecticut have decided to delay their opening by an hour and a half to two hours. Now, you may think this insignificant... a great excuse to sleep in... a perfect opportunity to let the kids sleep in... make a hearty, warm breakfast, relax a bit and not have to rush out the door. None of this is the case. When school is delayed the phone rings. Early. When school is delayed the children are up. Early. When school is delayed you still don't feel like cooking a full bacon, eggs and toast breakfast. When school is delayed someone still manages to forget something only to remember theveryminute you pull out of the driveway. When school is delayed the children are happy. Read hyper. When school is delayed mothers are in pissy, foul moods. We are easily annoyed. Especially when these 2-hour delays come after a very long (indeed) 4 day weekend. We want to resume our lives. We have work that we want and need to get done. We want our children as far away from us as possible. We even consider dropping them off at the school's front door at the regular start time. We want to enjoy our coffee in peace. We want to go to the gym...

We know a little dusting of snow isn't going to hurt us. We are creating soft children. We are creating lazy children. A little snow, rain and sleet never stopped us as kids. We had to go to school... uphill, without a car... in bare feet! We're tough and our kids are going to be wimps! Offices don't close because there's a dusting of snow on the ground. Can you imagine? Let me tell you some of the conditions in which I had to drive... in my non 4-wheel drive-slip-sliding-cherry-red Red Volkswagen Jetta. Puhleeze! Can you imagine if they did this in Canada?

Seriously, this is insane. I am starting to think that all these school delays and cancellations are the true causes behind the sudden rise in peanut allergies!

I'll quit bitchin'... I'm lucky I do have 4 wheel drive. I feel safe and comfortable in my car... But I'd love to ride in the one below... I'd say it's probably as comfortable as an old pair of boots!



***



And to the kindness of the wonderful and stylish Suze Stephenson of Well To Do You for sharing this picture with me... and to you Suze, cheers to Bubbles in a Boot!



Photo: L.L. Bean, Lincoln Benedict / AP.

Stay warm and dry... and if your kids have a delayed start too, Stay Sane!!!


XOXO

Jessica

Genius use for really stupid toy!

There are certain toys, that over the years, have caused me more angst than joy. The thought of these mere toys sets my pulse racing, my heart pumping and causes me to break out into hives. I've hurled a few words at these certain little pieces that seem to find themselves not properly put away in tidy boxes or baskets but hiding where you'd never look for them, causing you to scream like a holymotherfckuer when you bare foot accidentally and unwillingly steps down upon it with full force. Simply put there are certain toys I hate.

I love Legos for their sheer creative brilliance but the soles of my feet hate them with unbridled passion.

I dislike everything about those super-sized automated Nerf guns. Everything. But more specifically I hate the tens of thousands of orange foam darts that take hours to pick up and put away and somehow magically reappear theverymoment you leave the room.

I hate the markers that are found without their tops. (Especially when they are mine!)

I hate Polly Pocket. I want to go over and personally slap the person silly who came up with those tiny dolls and tiny dresses, and ohmygodthoseeffingtinyshoes! Ten years later I am still finding random shoes and wigs and purses in my daughter's hot pink flokati rug. Just when you think you've found the last one... Perhaps the dumbest items by far that I have ever come across have also gotten lost and tangled up in that hot pink flokati.

I hate to think of the hundreds of dollars wasted on some stupid pieces of rubber shaped like flowers or cars or animals that my kids just had to have. I curse myself for the wasted dollars. I should have gotten them a rubber band ball instead. I should have told them to be leaders, not followers. I should have told them to start a new trend. Rubber bands come in fab colors as well. Rubber bands look great as bracelets. They're rockin'! I should have told them. But, if I had, someone wouldn't have come up with a most genius idea... and I wouldn't have carried it one step further...







I found this on Pinterest. I thought it was brilliant. I thought I could do better!




Because everything's better with bubbly, right?!




I definitely like the green turtle better! And as I was playing Alexander walked in. He wanted to know what I was doing. So I told him. And he offered a helping hand!




Cheers! And I know you'll all drink happier knowing that you won't need to worry about finding those silly little wine glass markers ever again!

XOXO
Jessica

finding Joy...


                                                                              Source: bhg.com via Jessica on Pinterest



It's a busy and hectic time of year. The pressure to create a perfect holiday season, perfect holiday memories, and perfect holiday decor can see overwhelming and often the joy and merriment of what the holidays should be get lost in the process. Sometimes we lose ourselves and sense of what's truly important this time of year. It's not about perfection. It's not about creating the greatest anything, it's about taking time to enjoy all of what the holiday season has to offer... it's about listening to the music... it's about getting your home ready for the season, but not about trying to strive for perfection because that will take the joy out of the very thing that should cause joy. I've recently let my kids help me and while it may not be to my style or to my taste, it's theirs and it makes them happy and proud. In turn that brings me much happiness. We'll bake our gingerbread and our sugar cookies. And some may be lopsided or perhaps even a little browner than they should be, but we'll fix our mistakes with frosting. The frosting will make it all better, and with frosting I say the more the merrier! I've learned something important over the years. It's ok to strive for perfection with some things, but sometimes we just have to let it go. The best memories are made when things don't necessarily go according to plan. Sometimes mistakes end up being our best gifts.

It's a season of giving. I've had a very hard time this year trying to get into the Holiday Spirit and there are days I have been more Grinch-like than jolly. I am the first to admit this. But I have three children and this holiday means so very much to them. I cannot let them down. I cannot disappoint. This season means the world to them and it's what's at the back of their minds all year long. I simply cannot let them down.

Our home is now almost all dressed in her holiday best. I keep the Christmas music on the radio at all times. The advent calendars come out tonight. The eggnog has been bought.

Tomorrow my children have no school. We'll bake and decorate ornaments and no matter how perfect or imperfect they are, we'll create memories... we'll have fun... we'll experience the joy that is meant to be experienced this time of year!

And I want to thank Wenderly's post on Joy... It was exactly what I needed this morning!

I'm headed out now to buy the rest of the ingredients for my fabulous Eggnog Pound Cake, candy canes, hot cocoa, glass ornaments that we will decorate, and whatever else I find that will bring Joy to everyone tomorrow!

XOXO

Jessica



Amid life....




I have decided to start a new blog (as though I really have the time to do so!) where I can chronicle my life, freely and as I wish. I am completely blown away by your words, love and support. And while I have not been able to thank you all, I want you all to know just how much you and your support and love has meant to me. I will be removing all my pieces about divorce from The Entertaining House. I want this to be a happy, fun, inspiring place. I need to keep the two blogs separate. For those of you who wish to follow my personal journey, please feel free to visit me over at Amid Life, for the rest of you, I hope you continue to come to be entertained here at The Entertaining House!

Take it easy...



(This, to me, is the ultimate summer song. It evokes the happiest memories of my 10 summers at camp in the Adirondack Mountains.)

The boys and I return to Newport this afternoon. Older sister is currently en route to Maine. It will be quieter, much quieter with just the boys. You see, take any one individual out of the mix and the decibel level decreases dramatically. Yes, I know the girl has left and you might wonder, boys, quiet? Yes indeed. Girls can be loud too. Very loud! And two, I have learned over the years, is so very much less work than three. It's less than half of the work that three requires. I mean seriously, whatever was I thinking to go ahead and have that third kid? (Just kidding Alexander, although you alone exhaust me!)

The boy girl thing and the age differences makes finding things to do that entertain and interest all three like very difficult. impossible. The boys play well together and the older two entertain themselves well together, but when it comes to entertaining the troops en masse there is simply no pleasing everyone and someone usually gets let down or left out. The oldest, my girl, always has to be goinggoingoing. She gets bored at home. Cannot stand to be at home. The boys will entertain themselves anywhere and can always find something to do. This may be an age thing. At 12, the oldest girl wants nothing to do with playgrounds or anything remotely child like and fun. Middle boy, as I said, is happy to do anything.

I seem to have a great deal of trouble lately shifting from complete laziness - inability to drag my old tired self out of bed - to my warp speed trying to do and see and get everything done. This weekend will be about finding that happy middle place. This weekend will be about slowing down. This weekend will be about pausing to listen to the sea in that pretty shell.

So this weekend will be about me and the boys. While I will miss my daughter incredibly - She will be away from me for two weeks - I will spend this weekend focusing on my boys. We will slow down. We will slow down almost till we stop. We will go to the beach and to as many playgrounds as we can finds. We will eat ice cream and swim in the pool. We may do nothing at all. We may go for long nature walks. We may go bird watching. We will relax and take it easy. After all, that's what summer is all about!












Wishing you all a slow and take it easy weekend and very Happy Fourth of July!

XOXO

5 Rules for hitting the road to Newport so Mommie Dearest can go to the Jack Rogers Trunk Show at Angela Moore!

Ok, so that's not the main, reason I'm headed back to Newport, but it is one of the reasons I am headed back! This time I'm going with the kids. Wish me luck in the car. Wish me lots of luck. My kids are not good travelers. My friend JoAnna recently drove her 4 kids  ages 5 and under from Virginia to Massachusetts. Not only did she survive. But the kids were... gasp... well behaved!

Put my three in a car together for 5 minutes and let the battles begin! I separate my kids by rows. Seriously. My oldest is old enough to be up front. The boys battle for the 2nd and 3rd rows. I pack an arsenal of activities and food. We have videos to watch and play. (Only allowed on the highway portion of our journey.) We have beverages and snacks galore in case we break down in the tundra that exists between my home and Newport, 2 and a half hours away! We have blankets and stuffed animals to keep us warm. (It's 64 and rainy today) Most importantly I have Duct Tape. In Zebra pattern. I also keep a pair off garden shears in the car for those moments I see and must cut down beautiful flowers... The garden sheers can be used for the Duct Tape. The Duct Tape will promptly be applied to the mouths of those children who
a) don't stop talking
b) don't stop whining
c) don't stop asking "are we there yet?" or
d) any of the above

Rule #1 I drive and therefore I am in charge of all music. And when the good Country stations come in clear this is what I will listen to. I don't care if this makes you puke. If you are going to puke kindly do so in a garbage bag.

Rule #2 I am in charge of all snacks. This way there is no she had more or he had more.

Rule #3 Keep your hands to your selves. Hit hitting pinching pulling hair spit balls. No shouting shrieking wining crying screaming. Yes, I really have children and not wolves... though sometimes I am unsure of this myself.

Rule #4 Dispose of all garbage properly. My car is not a garbage can. Neither is it a closet for all your items your sorry asses are too lazy to drag in. If you suddenly realized that your animal or blankie has been left in the car and youabsolutelypostively cannot go to sleep without it you will go retrieve it yourself. In the dark. Alone. Yes there are coyotes and raccoons out there. Yes there are skunks. Plenty of skunks. Snakes too. I am sick of risking my lives for you lazy little children who could not be bothered to retrieve your items when you were asked. You'll have to be brave and go out into the wild alone or do without.

Rule #5. You will not go all animal-like on me the minute you get there. Treat your grandparent's house like a museum. Not like a zoo my precious little animals.

Should you follow all these rules you will be handsomely rewarded.
One more thing...

There is something I want to do. You will have to come with me. Exemplary behaviour is EXPECTED of you while in public. If you do one thing to embarrass me ... and I mean ONE THING I will ship you back to the place you all came from with all three receipts and demand a full refund. Oh I know you are all thinking "Ha Ha. Very funny Mom. Hospitals don't give receipts." And to you I will reply you are wrong. I have the bills from each and every one of you. I will be a very rich lady when I cash in my bills!"

And with the money I will make in return of each of  you precious gems I will head here!

Posted by Picasa

a note of a most personal nature...

I used to be impulsive.
I used to be the kind of girl who never walked but who ran full steam ahead.
Patience was not my virtue.
I used to be a free spirit.
Yet I sweated the small stuff every day.
I knew what I wanted but was too fearful or too intimidated to go after it.
Or perhaps was too afraid to fail.

And then I had children.
I had to slow down.
I had to learn to lead by example.
I had to learn to become more patient.
I had to learn to stop sweating the small stuff.
I had to learn to stop being intimidated or afraid.
I had to learn to accept failure from time to time.

As a mother I was still incredibly creative.
As a mother I was still incredibly passionate.
As a mother I was still incredibly appreciative
Of the beauty of life and all around me.
Perhaps even more so.
As a mother I saw things differently.
As a mother I started to see things from the eyes of a child.
As a mother I started to see things in a new light.

Even now I am still eternally optimistic.
(Some may call me a dreamer.
Some may say I have my head in the clouds.)
Even now I can still see the silver lining.
Even now I still see my glass as half full.

Motherhood has given me more confidence.
Motherhood has made me more determined.
Motherhood has made me stronger. Fiercer.
Motherhood has given me the courage to stand up for myself.
Motherhood has given me the strength to roll with the punches.
I have always had a powerful voice.
Motherhood has taught me how to use it.

I used to let life happen.
I have learned that in order to be really happy I must make life happen.

A year ago I started to realize that I was not really happy.
I started to realize that I was going through the motions of living but I wasn't really living. I was becoming a spectator and I wanted to be a player. I had all the wonderful "things" a person could want. But we all know that material possessions cannot buy happiness. I felt terribly for feeling and thinking the way I did. But these feelings started to grow and overwhelm. I could ignore them no longer. I was forced to take a good long look at everything around me and realized, although I had known (but not realized) for a long time, that my marriage was not working. We were failing. We were falling apart. A small crack had started in the foundation years earlier. Suddenly the entire home was crumbling. I felt sad and trapped and lonely.

I struggled for many months to figure out what to do. I couldn't possibly break up my family. I had three young children. This would devastate my husband. So I plugged along. But the more I knew that the marriage was broken the sadder and sadder I became. I could ignore the feelings I was having and just keep my unhappiness to myself and go through the motions for the rest of my life so that my family could stay together.

But deep down I knew this was not the right thing to do. I would be up nights crying. Many many nights. For months and months. The more I cried the more I knew I just couldn't go on. I sought help. I sought counseling. In some cases marriages can be fixed. In some cases they can't. They ought not to be. This is one of those cases.

I do not want my kids in a broken family, but more importantly I do not want them in a bad marriage. To stay together for the sake of the children is just wrong. I have been told this by numerous people and professionals. As much as I did not want to hurt my husband I knew, eventually, what had to be said. What had to be done.

I thought of my grandmother, La Jolie Grandmere, as I so often do when I need advice. She lived life. She lived it well. She lived it on her terms. Even from her wheelchair. She never would have settled. She never would have continued living in a manner that would have made her unhappy. She never would have settled. I really hate that word. I just can't think of another right now.

It's been almost a year now. It's no easier now than it was a year ago.
It takes two people to make a marriage. It takes two to cause it to fail. (For you all wondering, there was never an issue with betrayal or infidelity.) Our marriage simply stopped working. The love had been fading for years. My heart is still breaking over the pain this has caused. But in the end I know that my children will be happier and healthier. And in the end I think my husband will be too. He truly deserves someone who can love him madly, deeply. As do I.

I remember clearly in one therapy session. He said he had tried to give me everything. He wanted to give me the moon and the stars. I know he did. I know. I think about this daily. This still brings tears to my eyes.

I explained it well to the children, I think. You can have two people who are wonderful on their own. But together they are like water and oil. They do not mix. They do not compliment one another. We both love our children very, very much. Our children know this. We are sure to tell them as often as we can.

This was not an easy decision. This is certainly not the easiest path to take. There is pain daily. The tears are still there, almost daily.

I am not writing this to vent or air any dirty laundry. I am not writing this to hurt anyone. I do not want to be nasty. I am trying my best to handle my situation with grace and dignity. I am writing this for others to read partly to explain the reason behind some of my posts, and partly to give others some insight. And partly to inspire others by telling my story. The more I talk the more I know you are out there like me.

I do not advocate divorce. It is long and tough and grueling. But sometimes it truly is the answer. It is not something to be afraid nor is it something to be ashamed of. We all deserve the best and we all deserve happiness. My children do. My husband does. I do.

I wear many hats... er, wings!

The Tooth Fairy paid The Entertaining House an early visit last night. One day last week my Entertaining Kid told me that his tooth was loose. Being just five and a half and having just read Silverlicious no fewer than a half dozen times, I raised my eyebrow in doubt. After all, don't all five year old kids want loose teeth?

I asked Alexander to come over and show me. Lo and behold the tiny little tooth up front, on the bottom was loose indeed! My baby is growing up. This is a bittersweet moment for me. Too much is happening in my life now. As much as I want to fast forward certain aspects of my life, I also want to hit the rewind button. (Luckily we have thousands upon thousands of family photos which yield similar results.)  As hard as it has been to have Alexander so much younger than the other two (ages 10 and 12) it has been a blessing. His youth has given me one last chance to see the world from his young eyes -- to experience wonder and awe when new experiences come his way. There is nothing so wonderful as seeing the world around you from the perspective of your young children. I'm holding on to his babyhood for dear life. Clearly it has slipped away and his young years are slipping through my fingers second by second. It tears at my heart. It really does.

And then last night, it seemed so sudden, Alexander was on my bed watching a Handy Manny episode on On Demand. It was about a loose tooth! As he wiggled his own around with his tongue and fingers it popped out. It was not jagged, but smooth white and shiny. A perfect milk tooth! Alexander, after posing for me and the camera, ran to grab a Ziplock bag and asked his sister to write a note to the Tooth Fairy, kindly asking her to please leave the tooth behind.

Alexander's demand was not so much the money, but gold chocolate coins. I was thankful for the advance notice when last week he said that he hoped the Tooth Fairy might leave him some gold coins. Thankful because this is not the time of year where chocolate filled gold coins are easily found.

After much searching the Tooth Fairy was able to find just what she was looking for. She was thrilled that she did not have to disappoint. Mister Tooth Fairy also managed to find some gold coins as well. Those will be saved... just in case!




 Loot!


 He had to sample just one!


 Looks more like Pirate Booty rather than Tooth Fairy loot!


And then dashed out to wake his sister to tell her that he was having a piece of chocolate...
in the morning... before school!!

You may think I have completely lost my marbles...

and that may be the case... but painting with them sure was fun!

We are on Spring break for 2 (verrrrrrrrrrrrrry long) weeks and I need to keep the kids busy and entertained. The snow made for a perfect excuse to lounge around in the morning in our PJs. (Well the kids did. Rebecca babysat while I went to the gym!) We watched Percy Jackson's The Lightning Thief and lunched on popcorn and rice crispy treats!

After the movie I sent the kids up to get dressed and brush their teeth. We started a 500 piece puzzle but didn't get very far. We made Flubber and I will post that tomorrow. So much fun! Then the kids were hungry again... What's new?! This time I insisted on clementines, strawberries, and veggies and dip. In between loads of laundry, emptying the dishwasher (does anyone loathe this as much as I do?!) and other generally boring and tedious household chores we decided to give marble painting a try.

We love to paint unconventionally around here. This was a blast and we were so pleased with the results! Even better was the fact that the mess was kept to a minimum!



Start by placing two marbles in paint... tilt to start to roll!

Alexander's final product!

My final product!
I found this project to be mesmerizing!

Rebecca decides she needs a little bit more color

Rebecca's finished product!

Ingredients:

Assorted washable tempera paints
2 marbles (though feel free to add more!)
White paper (we used copier paper)
Pencil and scissors, used to cut paper
Springform pan, or a large bowl with deep sides
Damp paper towels for wiping dirty little fingers!
2 (or more) small dishes in which to squeeze a dollop of paint.

Directions
Place your marbles in paint and carefully place the paint covered marbles in the center of the paper
Tilt the pan (or bowl) so that the marbles run all over the place.
If you need more paint place the marbles back in the paint and back onto the paper.
Repeat as often as desired
When painting is finished simply remove paper from Springform and place on a flat surface to dry.
Star over as many times as desired!

Now I know my ABC's... Won't you come and bid on me!

Our school's auction is on Saturday night. This year's theme is Denim, Diamonds and Disco. It's sure to be a great night with great items to bid on. As with every year the kids also participate. This is the Kindergarten class project. Isn't it darling? (Excuse the poor photo quality and the glare of the flash!)



The silent bid will start at $250. It's a fund raiser for the school folks! It's a charitable benefit! We live in Fairfield County... and my work is worth it! ;)

I told the auction heads that I would be willing to recreate the poster for those who want it providing they are willing to pay as much as the winning bid. (I'm hoping for a raging bidding war!)

Apologies Accepted!


Thank you all for your kind comments and emails. Your concern, appreciation and caring hearts mean the world to me!

I had a meeting with the Head of School and the Admissions Director early Monday morning. I told them of what I knew. I told them everything and sugar coated nothing and left no detail or stone unturned. Both were concerned and both took me seriously. They felt horribly for Rebecca, who after 9 years has a stellar record both academically and socially at the school. I was assured that the matter would be attended to promptly and that faculty and students would be spoken to.

Today the 6th graders met with the Director of Admissions as a Group. She was firm with them. She told them that this was not a matter to be taken lightly and that many in that group needed to better respect their teachers and their peers. She told them that she knew all about what was going on... the secret passwords, codes and hand signals. The meeting, according to her,went well.

After school today, as I waited in the gym for Christopher's basketball game to start, I asked Rebecca how her day was. Yesterday she told me that she had had a good day. I was hoping for more of the same news. What I was not expecting was "Mom, today was a great day!" The girls went up to Rebecca in the locker room and told her just how sorry they were that they had hurt her. She said that they seemed to be genuinely sorry and the apology really seemed to come from the heart.

I was thrilled to hear this for several reasons. Of course my daughter wants her friends back and I am glad that, for the time being at least, they are. I was also glad to hear of the apology as it confirms that they have taken responsibility and acknowledged that they behaved poorly and what they did was indeed wrong.

Now we all know that I was not born yesterday. I have been around the block and back a few times. I know that things can change at the drop of a hat. My eyes and ears are open and I am paying close attention. As is the school.

As I was leaving school this evening I caught the Director of Admissions in the hallway and I thanked her. Profusely!

Off topic... wouldn't the painting of the children's hands look lovely on a large platter as a school auction item?!

Today I am going to save the world! (At least my daughter's world!)

Or at the very least I am going to be my daughter's advocate. I'm going to take a stance. I am going to stand tall. And firm. With feet firmly planted on the ground. I have a no tolerance policy. The bullies that are hurting my daughter, and all the other daughters out there, need to be stopped. Need to learn a lesson and more importantly need to be punished. Now. I will not take no for an answer. I will not stop until the bullying is stopped. I will not. I will not...




I am doing this for my daughter and your daughter and all the other daughters out there. We all need someone to lean on. I am there for my daughter. We are in this together. 100%. After all, if she cannot count on me to protect her, who can she count on?

Children fight and best friends come and go over the years. Yes that sucks and as painful as it is, it is all a part of growing up and learning who your true friends are. But bullying is something else altogether. I was reminded of this the other day as I was talking to a good friend of mine about the various incidents that have taken place in school over the past couple of years. Yes, this has been taking place for two years now. And my friend, a mother to a little boy (are they still little in the 6th grade?!) told me to stand up and be strong. "Jess," she reminded me. "Everyone is not what they seem. You know who your true friends are. They have your back. You can count on us." And so with that I will take my plan and run with it. My maternal instincts have kicked in full force. The only difference between this Momma Bear and the ones out in the wild is that I have learned to control my urge to destroy those who threaten my young... But the rage and the fury in me is strong and fierce and fiery and I would be lying to you if I told you it was not.

We'll get through this, together, arm in arm and hand in hand. I hope that soon the tears stop and the smile returns. But in this pain and despair I see already how you have grown and flourished. You said to me, just the other night, "I know now who my true friends are. I know who the nice people are." This my friend is huge. Trust your instincts. Rely on them... as well as the ones you know you really can trust as they will never leave you... they will never let you down. You know this. I know you do.

And remember everyone makes mistakes. Everyone does. And everyone deserves a second chance. Everyone. I firmly believe this. So if you ever get to this point and decided one day to forgive those who have hurt you, please do so. I believe everyone has a good heart deep down. Babies are not born mean. They are born full of love. Sometimes we need to remind people that they are loved. And you know, my darling, just how loved you are!

Don't let this destroy you. In the long-run it will make you stronger. I think it has already.





An open letter to my daughter and to all the good girls out there...

Dear Rebecca,

Don't ever let them get you down. You are funny, charming, and smart as a whip. Your laugh is infectious. You are creative, artistic and talented. You're a wonderful artist and a wonderful writer. You are generous, warm and loving. You are caring. You are wise beyond your years. You are beautiful. You'll do well in life and you'll go far. You have so much to offer. You amaze me.

As you're learning life is not easy. As we get older our obstacles get harder. Our challenges are never so large we cannot handle them though they can often seem that way. Girls can be mean. You know this and have known this for a long time. Mean girls are tough. Mean girls are mean. Mean girls stink. But mean girls never get far. For long -- at least.

Don't let them get you down. Don't be mean to them. If you think you're troubles are too large seek out help. Either a teacher or a parent. It's okay to lean on friends. It's okay to lean on teachers. It's okay to lean on me. Stand up. Be strong and proud. Words, though they may hurt are only words. And most likely they are untruths. Do not listen to what they are saying. Listen to yourself. To your inner voice. You know the truth.

I'll tell you this -  mean girls don't change. They never grow up. In the end they never get very far either. Mean girls suck. Yes, I said suck! You are better than they are. Don't ever let them get you down as hard, as that may seem. Walk tall and walk proud. Hold your head up high. As well as your chin. Stand up straight. (You'll look taller!) Do not give in to them or sink to their level. And those who do are just weak. They are confused. And lost.

But you are not.

Growing up is tough and no one ever said it was easy. You are learning to figure things out for yourself. You are learning to handle things on your own. Sometimes you'll get it and sometimes you won't. That's ok. We're here to help. You won't always have the right answers. We never do. You'll make mistakes. We all do. We'll never learn without our mistakes. Mistakes are important. They do lead us to the right answers. Make mistakes and make them often. But never so that they will hurt you or anyone around you.

You are caring and thoughtful and conscientious. This is the big sister in you. You respect others. We have taught you well. You respect yourself. Now you need to learn to believe in yourself. This is the hardest part of growing up. Sometimes we do not learn how to do this until we are much older. (I mean really, really old -- like my age!) But listen to what the good people have to say. They are right.

Let me tell you something about mean girls. They are jealous of you. They are insecure. They have not learned right from wrong. The only way they feel good is to make others feel badly about themselves. Mean girls are not cool and are not popular. They never will be. They will never be you. Open and honest and funny. And loved by everyone.

It seems unfair to say that this too shall pass. It will. But right now and in the moment it sucks and you wish that it would pass. I know another thing about you. With your large and warm and kind heart you are forgiving. While the pain of yesterday may seem unbearable... unsurmountable, today is a new day. It is a gift. That is why they call it the present.

I love you.

Love Mommy, XOXO

Ps. I saw this and thought of you. It made me laugh. I thought it would make you laugh. (There's a bad word in it though!)