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Happy New Year!

It's been a while. Huh?

2009 got rolling way too fast and before I knew it I was ringing in 2010. BTW do we say "twenty-ten" or "two thousand ten"?

However you say it, 2010 is looking pretty good so far.

I have 30 pounds to lose. Not so bad considering that last year at this time I had 55 pounds to lose. And no, I didn't change my goal but trust me I haven't taken that option off the table. This "move more and shovel in less" thing is getting old. But apparently it does work - who knew?

I'm grateful for my blessings and have vowed to stop and take stock more often - kids, marriage, health, family, friends, job, laughter, sunsets, a good night's sleep. In 2010 I will appreciate it all and more.

At this very moment, I am admiring the long shadows thrown by the trees in my backyard as the morning sun sparkles off fresh snow. I am at my kitchen table with a steaming cup of coffee. I can hear the ticking of the wall clock, see the shine on the freshly cleaned counters and just... be ...still.

Stopped is the insanity of the holiday season. The purchasing and wrapping and eating and drinking and movement and noise. Stopped is the seemingly endless - "Where's the...?" "What are we going to do now?" "She won't give it back." "He hit me!" "She pushed me!" "Can I have...?" "Why does he get to ...?"

The first bus of the new year left two hours ago after 11 days of vacation. And while I love them like the very air I breathe I must say this stillness is pure heaven.

By two this afternoon, I know that I'll be anxiously awaiting the bus to hear all about their respective days and get my afternoon hug from my cuddler (the fact that he hasn't yet outgrown this is another thing I'm thankful for). But right now I am enjoying nature's beauty, a little caffeine and some divine peace.

In the words of Ferris Beuhler, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." Right now I am looking around; the laundry will have to wait. I do have all year after all.

Happy New Year!

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He did it again...

... ran the newspaper over with the snowblower. And I am blessed with the gift of shoveling in the new year.

Having learned from last year there was no call for a lighter. Because gasoline and flame don't mix too safely, do they? And if you were only going to take one lesson out of last year's "The Snow Blower and the Flame" then that would be the one to retain. Wouldn't it?

One might argue for the "look for a paper before tooling down the snow laden driveway with the snow blower" rule to take the top spot. But really, the gasoline and flame relationship can be applied so many other places. So he made the right choice don't you think?

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Holy Crap He Just Rode a Bike

OK he's seven so it isn't that remarkable in the greater scheme of "first time bike riders". But I kid you not that there is a tear in my eye right now and a relief that runs bone deep that only another parent of a bike-phobic kid can understand.

Night after night there were heatedly negotiated 10 minutes of "bike time". All of our neighbors were privy to the screams of terror as the bike rolled 1/2 inch without enough support. We took every one's how-to-teach-a-kid-to-ride-a-bike advice to no avail. As the bike toppled again and again to the ground amidst tears, my fears of "can my baby even do this?" constantly battled with my bad mommy thoughts of "man up, you baby!" It wasn't like this with his sister. A few falls and off she went.

He didn't want it. I did.

I mean it. He didn't care if he ever rode a bike or not. He was just terrified and that was enough to say "no bike, no way". But you can't give into your fears, can you? Can a parent let that happen? If he never rode a bike he might not ever rise to any challenge he meets in life. His whole future could hang on getting up on two wheels. Why couldn't he see this?

Bribery failed. Comparisons to friends and younger children failed. The following conversation/argument played out time and again. Like a CD set on continuous play.

"But whyyyyyy Mommy? Why do I have to ride a bike?!!" screamed through tears.

"Because you do."

"But why??"

A fair question met with an unfair answer. "Because I said so!"

It's for the best. Right? He'll learn and thank me one day. Right? When he's 35 and on his shrink's couch he'll understand why. He'll know it was in his best interest and not just to torture him. Won't he?

I met a girl once who was 17 years old and she couldn't ride a bike. Her mom said she tried when she was six. She fell off and said she wouldn't get back on. Now she was 17 and still couldn't ride a bike.

I judged that parent that day. How could any parent let a kid give into his fears? That of course was years before my kids were even out of diapers. At one point I had judged the parents of kids who kicked the back of airplane seats too. I had lived to regret those thoughts and become one of those parents.

I was wrong to judge the Bike Mom. Trust me I now understand how you can't stand to see the fear in their eyes anymore. How you begin to not see the blurry line between "best for them" and"something you want". Until you walk a mile in the shoes of a parent bent over holding the seat of their terrified kid learning to ride a bike you will never understand.

So today L rode a shaky line down the middle of the rode. We have a way to go but we have gotten over the "will he/won't-he" hump and can just coast down the other side to the "when" conclusion. And I can breathe a sigh of brief relief. I am not confident anymore that "you must ride a bike to live a fulfilled life" but I am thankful L won't have to test the theory either. Whew!

Now as for shoe tying ... will the shrink judge me when my 35 year old son is lying on his couch in velcro z-straps?

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The Most Stressful Day of the School Year

No I'm not talking about standardized tests. I talking Picture Day.

Every year the night before Pictures I make sure the kids have chosen what they want to wear and have it all laid out. Granted it makes for a late night of fashion shows and "what do you mean I can't wear the [wrinkled, sweaty] shirt I wore to bed last night?" But for a peaceful ,easy morning it is worth it. Right????

Why, oh why, do we end up in a mad dash the next morning?

Because the Duncans can never actually be prepared. We must change our clothes at the last minute searching for that "you know the shirt from last spring with the thingies on it". No, I don't know!

We must insist on eating breakfast fully dressed only to smear cream cheese on the only shirt in the world that can be considered acceptable for Picture Day then cry when I insist on a change.

We must remember that "oops I did have math homework last night". A particular favorite of mine especially when combined with tears and "my teacher is going to kill me". She won't but I wouldn't count me out right now, Missy!

We must complain that "we hate our hair". Which BTW is G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S! Or worse yet go with the "its fine" when it is clearly a "rat's nest". Yes, I have one of each. Jealous?

We must spend precious "the-school-bus-is-coming" minutes deciding on the perfect pose for our Picture. And the perfect smile - teeth or no teeth?

One more last minute change. Another "God I hate my hair". Then as the bus rumbles up the road my cherubs dash to the bus as I chase them down with payment envelopes in hand. BTW I'm in my pj's and sporting my own rat's nest!

All for what? I don't scrap book. We don't even use school pictures on our walls. We're more partial to candid snapshots. We're talking hours of angst over a picture that will be thrown in a drawer.

Can't wait until next year!

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We decided to Hold - Just Deal With It

My youngest was born 7 years ago August 15. Hours after delivery my sister-in-law asked me "Are you going to send him to Kindergarten or hold him when he is five?' I looked at her like she was crazy and rolled my eyes. As the years passed in a blink though I began to grasp the enormity of the question.

L makes the school age cutoff by a mere 16 days. Depending on what we decided he would either be the oldest or youngest in his grade. Our decision "to send" or "not" and the repercussions of both could affect his self-esteem and school success for years, maybe for life. For a while it felt like L's whole life would be defined by what we decided. Total stress!

We finally decided to hold him and begin kindergarten late. At 7 and 2 weeks he just started first grade. Which BTW is the cause of an untold number of unsolicited opinions from friends, family and oddly enough complete strangers. It seems like everyone has a strongly held opinion on the subject of "to-hold-or-not-to-hold" and I apparently look like I want to hear it. I don't.

"We sent our daughter and she has done just fantastic. She is president of her class and is getting all straight A's....." - This comes from parents who decided to send their children even though they fall very close to the cutoff. Somehow our holding L is a challenge to their decision. If it worked for them then we should assume it would have worked for us and we are doing L a dis-service by holding him.

"So your kid is 1 year older than everyone?" - This typically comes from parents who have children in the later half of the year and feel we are giving our son some sort of unfair advantage thereby directly making their kid's journey through school more difficult.

"We didn't hold our son in kindergarten and now in middle school he is struggling socially. We're seeing behavior issues as he tries to keep up with an older crowd. You are totally doing the right thing." - This comes from parents who decided to send their children even though they fall very close to the cutoff and for whatever reason they think they made the wrong decision.

"He's so smart. He'll be bored." - This typically comes from grandparents, relatives and friends who think today's parents over-protect our children. Back in their day you played the hand you were dealt. We are therefore coddling L.

Right or wrong we held him. That was our decision. I know it seems crazy but your child did not come into our decision making process. We did research and based OUR decision on OUR child, OUR circumstances and OUR values.

Not that it matters but we're talking 16 days. I have no way of knowing where the other path would have taken us. I am tired of having to justify the path we're on. It has been three years can we just move on? I truly and sincerely wish you the best on your path but stay the hell off of ours.

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Miss Me?

A million apologies for not updating this site in FOREVER!

Here are my excuses:

  1. It's summer and those short people are around 24x7. Apparently I didn't read the "Mommy Contract" fine print because "they're bored". And I guess I am supposed to do something about it or they have the right to whine until I go completely crazy. Let's just say I am in the market for a snazzy looking straight-jacket.

  2. Hubby hasn't done anything completely and mind-numbingly "male". Apologies to 50.24% of the world's population but really I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the pie in the trunk.

  3. I've started this other website for fun. And while I am having fun it is taking a lot of time.

So when will I be back?

Honestly on a regular basis probably not until September and the glorious return of the school bus.

However, if something insanely "me" happens I will find the time to blog this summer.

Short of that I'll see you in the Fall. Have a superb summer!!

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Is it ok to swear in front of your kids?

Have you ever been following someone on a highway to a place you have never been and lost them at a toll because you forgot to bring your speed pass? So you sit at that toll for 15 minutes jockeying for position in a sea of hundreds of cars funneling through three very slow toll booths. As the 15 minutes eek by you try to call the people you were following but they don't answer their phone.

You, BTW, have no clue how to get where you are going. Because you are the only people on the planet without a GPS and didn't think to Mapquest your destination before you left.

Tick. Tick. Tick. Time is creeping by. You will be late assuming you even get there.

Is that guy serious? Is he really going to try to cut me off? Is he f''n kidding me? Your sole goal in life is now whittled down to keeping that idiot from getting in front of you. Forgetting that just 5 minutes prior you sat there in the same wrong lane trying to cut off the poor sucker now behind you.

This is the scenario we found ourselves in yesterday. Hubby was driving, kids in the back seat and tempers rising. We were on our way to watch my nephew be the honorary captain for the New England Cannons, a professional lacrosse team, who play at Harvard University Stadium. Ooo la la!

The honor is all the more special because my nephew walks with great difficulty. He can't run or jump like his friends but he lets nothing hold him back. In his neighborhood he hangs with a group of boys who ride bikes as he whips along on a motorized scooter. He is just Noah to them. Just one of the guys. He'd kill me for saying so but he is adorable in that cool dude fourth grader way. Being honorary captain at the game on a night when most of his home town lacrosse players and their families would be in the audience was a big deal for him and our whole family.

And we are now late and lost. The Auntie of the Year Award is slipping through my fingers.

Through the tolls and back in phone contact with the group we were following things are looking better. Until....

"Do I go straight here or turn?? WELL..... DO I??" Hubby is asking. Print doesn't do justice to the tension and tone in his voice. Just trust me, pleasant it was not. I have no clue where to go and he is freaking out because the traffic is insane. We go straight. Guess what? We should have turned. No biggie. Right? Go down a block turn around and BAM! we are smack in dead stop traffic.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

We are now in and amongst Harvard University buildings. We can see the Charles River. The sun is splitting the rocks outside our car on a beautiful spring day. People are strolling hand-in-hand on a lovely Saturday afternoon. And inside our car all hell is breaking loose.

"He's touching me!"

"No! You're touching me!"

"Are we going to miss Noah?" Now tears and whining.

"We won't have any time to play!"

"Too frigging bad. Now shut the F up until we get out of this traffic." Yep, that is what we said. 'Frigging' , 'shut up' and 'f''. The whole package of no no's in parenthood and just outside the walls of Harvard.

Hubby hates driving in the city when he knows where he is going and has forever to get there; so being lost in dead stop traffic with the real premise of missing Noah's big moment and the kids annoying the crap out of him is not bringing out the Zen in him. Or in me either for that matter.

Eventually we get back to the road we need; but, go to the wrong parking lot.

Tick. Tick. TICK! TICK!!!!!!

Oh we get there. We even have some time to spare. However, being just out of traffic and a labyrinth of Cambridge roads, we are far from good company.

My pal, Laura, meets me at the tail gate with a vodka laden Cape Codder. What a girl!

Family, friends and neighbors cheer as Noah's name is announced and we see him on the jumbo tron. A great night. A stellar night for that matter! But...

...the question remains. Is it OK to swear in front of your kids?

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Set a goal

Setting a goal can be as simple as "I will not hit the snooze button this morning." Or as complex as "I will find a cure for cancer."

You can strive to exercise more or get a new job. Yell less at your kids. Call old friends more often. Run regularly. Stop swearing. Spend more time with your family. Spend less time on the phone. Eat healthy. Keep your house clean. Gossip less. Volunteer. Go green. Make a million dollars a year. Become famous. Or even win American Idol.

These are all great goals.

Experts say to start with small goals first then set day-to-day action steps to achieve your larger goals. Write it down. Check it off. Seeing your progress is what keeps you motivated.

I just found this totally cool site that helps you do your goal planning and action steps. It also has a social networking component that you can hook up with other people working toward similar goals. Look for me under "start to run regularly".

I tried to set a goal to keep the house cleaner but just couldn't seem to commit to it in writing. I physically couldn't press the enter key. Craziest thing. So I guess I'll get fit but live in squalor. Oh well.

What are your goals? Don't just think them in your head. See if you can commit them to writing. It is way more difficult than you think. Give it a try.

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What's in a label

For whatever reason M, the 9 year old, has taken an interest in reading every inch of a label. Yesterday she freaked out when she read "Causes substantial but temporary eye injury" on the label of Buzz Away Citronella Insect Repellent.

So started the education on label warnings and litigation. Yes it can cause "substantial but temporary eye injury" IF sprayed directly in the eye.

Why would you do that?

Good question. It could be an accident. Like a toddler gets ahold of the can. Or you could just be an idiot. Either way the label tells you what to do in the event you do spray it in your eye.

I then reminded her of the time when she was five and she sprayed Loves Baby Soft directly in her brother's eye. The label came in handy that day.

Since the door was open. We moved on to the concept of litigation. Companies can get in trouble for not letting consumers know of potential hazards with their product if someone gets hurt then sues them. Common sense does not play into the equation so companies must really stretch their imaginations to cover all their bases.

Here are a few other labels she found with seemingly idiotic advice on them. But none-the-less you can't argue their validity.

Our hair dryer says "Do not use while bathing." Duh!

Our curling iron say "For external use only." Really??!

In stitches she now turned to the Internet to keep the good times rolling. Check out for some great ones. My favorite on there is:

"Beware! To touch these wires is instant death. Anyone found doing so will be prosecuted." -- On a sign at a railroad station.

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