3PM

Dad Marvullo came for a week visit last week to celebrate the Christening of my nephew Michael Joseph.  While here for a week Dad really got to see the day to day operations in the Alexander home.  One of his greatest observations was – “wow you must really hate 3PM.” and the answer is yes I really hate 3PM.  My son’s Christian and Daniel are bright 9 and 10 year old boys.  They are not easily frustrated by school work.  They may not want to do it but they are not generally rattled to the core with frustration as they have been this year with Common Core Math.  This week Chrissy Mac as reduced to tears, crying hysterically in frustration because he could  not remember what he told me was – the pattern for 2×2 multiplication using the FOIL method.  He asked me I had no idea what he was talking about.  I called my sister who was not available at the moment to help.  He begged me to call the school and ask the teacher, he even picked up his iPod and asked Siri for help.  His frustration was mounting…. and so was mine.

here is his question – 95×94 =________

90×90 + 90×4 + 90×5 + 5×4

8100 + 360 + 450 + 20 =

While this seems as if its not so difficult he is 9!  AND he was thrown onto common core in the middle of his elementary school career.  How can we as parents help this mounting frustration.  The night ended up in a therapy session.  He cried and cried and said he was so stupid, he does not want to ask the teacher anymore questions because his friends must think he is dumb.  He “hates this life in school.” and he wants to use everyone of his homework passes to skip math.  Christian happens to have one of the most talented and patient teachers I have seen.  I can only imagine her frustration in this new math world.

I hope that with his teacher’s guidance, he will  make the adjustments he needs to make in order to regain his confidence in understanding the math concepts that he was already beginning to understand before the new standards and their worksheets came along.

Donald and I will  just keep reassuring him that the problem isn’t his ability to understand math; the problem is how he’s being asked to understand math. The problem is the experimental “big idea” that he unknowingly become part of.  Became a part of somewhere in between his 3rd and 4th grades leaving him with a different though process he was taught from K-2nd grade.   I really think what they are really ensuring is a generation of anxious robotic children.  Beginning to wonder if the motivation behind common core is education?

Stress levels are at an all time high at 3PM.

Amish and the Alexander’s

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Took a trip to  Lancaster County in Pennsylvania.  Lancaster is the home of a large Amish Community.  I find the Amish people are one of the most interesting and rare communities that exist today. Their group is unique because they refuse to use modern technologies.

I really am not sure how nail salons and hair salons even need to exist in Lancaster.  These woman don’t ever wear shoes!  They certainly don’t go for any sort or waxing of any kind and they do not have manicures and pedicures EVER.    The woman and girls wear very plain no print clothing that is made at home.  No need for Lord and Taylor in Lancaster either these woman only have a few colors of the same dress.  Amish woman do not wear jewelry, not gonna find a Lia Sofia advisor among them.   No makeup, none at all – No AVON knockin on those barn doors.  Amish woman believe the more children they have the more they have been blessed by God.  I have been only half blessed I suppose.

What is that smell?

I am the owner of THREE BOYS. Something smells – Bad.
This seems to be an everyday statement in my house these days.  Growing boys and growing smells.  There are so many days I am thankful that I have been blessed with this brood of little men.  There are other days I would happily trade them in for a dozen hormonal girls. Boys eat constantly and are incapable of noticing the mess they create while they do it and the smell created by leaving the mess all around.
Honestly, I spend my days trying to find one odor or another that is lingering in my home.  I seriously hope they grow out of this stage or they will never going to find a wife and move out of my house!  Please – you other mothers of boys – don’t hold out on me – please tell me where you discovered that boy smell hiding so that I can go and clean it and make it go away.  It’s not in the  bedding, the closet or in their bath robe’s I have washed all of them.  I’m thinking of cleaning the carpet in their room this week to see if it is hiding there – or under the beds.  Danny’s baseball uniform is clean, so that can’t be it either.  It has to be somewhere I haven’t thought of yet. Please tell me where you found it hiding and how you got rid of it.  I almost can’t stand to go in there to deliver laundry!

Anyone with boys will know what I mean. Boy smell is a smell like no other. Plus, mine haven’t even got to the proper deodorant requiring stage yet. And while I do provide them with deodorant they never use it anyway.  So I welcome any tips from you Mom’s out there as how to remove the boy smell from my home.

Pairing Socks and Anxiety

Two things that are a huge problem in my life.  I suffer from horrible anxiety and the amount of socks I have to fold and pair just makes that anxiety worse.  One husband and three children equal a lot of socks.  Summer is over, back to school and this means more socks in the laundry.  To decrease my anxiety I really need answers that look into the depths of the sock-pairing quandary.

In the case of the mismatched socks you would think that making a pile for each color of socks and then you would divvy that up by pattern.  Yeah too much work.  How about this solution,   throwing out all of your socks and purchasing identical socks to avoid the problem entirely.  Yeah too expensive.  Leave it for your husband to do.  Well that does not work because he does not do it and now days go by and you have more socks to fold.  There is always that handy little gadget the sock saver that clips your socks together while in the laundry.  Well how the hell ya gonna get these kids to clip that on when I find most of the socks at the bottom of their bed sheets.  Yeah that’s not gonna work.

Then you have the issue of 1 man and 3 boys with similar socks.  Someone once told me to use a permanent marker and place a initial on the sock so you will know which socks is which.  So I tried it and here is how it worked.  J socks now fit D and D socks now fit C.  Big D socks now fit J and J and D fight over who is wearing who’s sock.  So if C is wearing a D sock D gets mad but D does not realize it does not fit him anymore it only fits C.  Then you have big D and little D confused over who’s is the owner of the D sock.  F this…..

Here is my solution:  Flip flops all year long – Your welcome

 

Happy Birthday Donald John

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I really can NOT believe that almost 20 years ago I fell crazy in love with my Donald John.  Today on his Birthday I would like to celebrate him.

Donald and I began our love affair when I joined the Port Washington Fire Department in July of 1994.  He had a girlfriend and I had a boyfriend.  With no interest in a new relationship I joined the Department and this skinny guy was always around.  There was a member of his Company David whom I knew from being a member of Glenwood Fire Company.  Dave introduced us and from that day DJ was always around the Firehouse when I was there.  From the time we started spending time together we laughed and had so much fun with each other.  He wore me down and my boyfriend and I broke up and we started dating in October of 1994.  I was Emergency Medical Technician and DJ a firefighter we were a perfect match.  He would become my Ambulance driver and I attending Fire Schools with him ended up spending a lot of time together.  He was working for a local fire equipment distributor and I for a local dry cleaner we were young and in love.  I was 19 and he was 21 years old, life was good.

I remember the first time we celebrated Valentine’s Day with the man who is now my husband. He took me to this super fancy bar restaurant in Port Washington where he took me on our first date, JT Bullets.  Bullets was a hole in the wall bar where all the locals hung out, but we were young and had no money so to me it was perfect.  Valentine’s Day came just after our four-month anniversary.  I still have every card he ever wrote me.  I have every letter, yes he did, DJ wrote me tons of letters.  I don’t remember what we ate, but I’m pretty sure the evening involved a bunch of locals drinking at the bar, no white table cloth or candlelight but what I do remember is that wonderful feeling, that lightness and giddiness and excitement, of finally being truly in love.

We stopped celebrating Valentine’s Day a few years later, as both of us did not like the idea that we single out one day each year to emphasize romance. We stopped celebrating our monthly anniversaries too, as months began to turn into years. August 20, 1998 with our family around he asked me to be his wife and on March 31, 2000 I married my love on a beautifully sunny sixty something degree day.  We’ve been married nearly fifteen years and we have three boys, so our lives are now measured by baseball games, playdates and when is your school project due.   I could never have predicted some of the changes we’ve experienced — Loosing my Mother so suddenly just one month before Johnny’s first birthday.  The many unfortunate medical issues I have had through the years or the difficulties of simple everyday life with three children.  The changes have surprised me, but I am equally surprised and delighted by the things that have stayed the same.

Ours is truly an easy marriage.  For some reason we have a gift of loving each other no matter what.  Sure we fight but we fight about things like – Please do not put the syrup in the fridge.  DJ hates cold syrup on his hot waffles.  There have been plenty of times I have had to forgive him for harsh words he may have used.  But there are equally as many times I have had to ask for forgiveness.  I adore him unconditionally even when he is not 100% adorable. No two people can live in the same house and not rub each other the wrong way at some point or another.  For us I think the key is balance.  Balancing being the best Mother and Father to our children and the best husband and wife to each other.

We don’t often get a  date night and if we do it is more  like a joint therapy session then a date.  Dating is expensive and for now the kids are in need of things like baseball equipment, new sneakers and cash!  But if we do have a date I am excited to apply copious amounts of makeup as I rarely do that anymore.  I wear my best spanx as my childbearing years have offered me extra pounds around my middle and my face extra lines around my eyes.    I put on my nice earrings and some jewelry he has bought me through the years. I trade my flip flops for nicer shoes and I wear perfume.  He still sees me as beautiful.  I can tell by the way he holds my hand as we leave the house.  I can also tell by the way he looks at me across the table, it make me smile inside – for the mirror shows my age, my excessive weight gain but his smile shows his love for all things me.  

A great gift we get to share with our boys is our loving marriage.  Donald is teaching them to marry someone with your whole heart, someone that excites you emotionally and intellectually.  He has taught them to marry your best friend – someone you want to be with till the end of each day, until you reach your last day.  Don’t get married because you think it is time to get married.  Get married because you found that person no matter how long it takes.  Strive everyday to be the best husband and father you can be.  Life can be chaotic and trying, if you can make your wife laugh then you got it made.

 I am still so in love with that boy I met in 1994. It is a feeling that has now been grounded in the real stuff like who is going to clean the bathroom cause three boys do not know how to aim in the toilet.  

I am so lucky to have this wonderful, whity, smart, handsome, caring, loving man.  But my favorite part is that he makes me laugh like crazy.  We laugh together like crazy – How lucky are we.

Happy 41st Birthday Donald John

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Birth Day

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Today is the day I celebrate my Mother and my Father.  They are the one’s who gave birth to me right?  They will forever share this day with me.  I often wonder why we as a society don’t celebrate our Mother’s and Father’s on this day.  We are forever intertwined, not for just the physical body she and my Dad created but for the many moments they have guided me and nurtured my spirit.

So today I choose to celebrate my Mother’s and my Father’s Birth Day not my birthday.  We should be bringing our parents a cake and gifts.  We should be saying thank you to her for pushing all those hours and for holding us in her womb for all those months.

Once you have children, you understand this want to celebrate the one who actually gave birth to you.  I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that by giving birth to another human – no one celebrates you. So today I will provide you with this guide to what I have learned about Birthdays.

1.  Husbands don’t plan.  Not just mine, all husbands do not make plans.  They just don’t have it in their blood.  I think I need to include in my summer home school lessons to my boys – How to plan nice things for your wife and give her a break from planning it all lessons.  While I am married to the greatest man on earth, my expectations are low for a planned celebration. Because we Mother’s are the official-birthday-gift-buyer for everyone you know – I will just buy my own gift and plan my own dinner and pay the bill after with his money.  Seems like a plan.  See there you go I made the plan.

2.  Kids – Its the thought that counts.  I really am looking forward to the homemade card made out of the back of the Cheerios box.  I also  must prepare myself to have a huge smile when I get the macaroni necklace.  I always made my Mother an ashtray in school art class.  She would be so very happy and kiss and hug me and make this huge deal about this beautiful piece of art.  I will do that same when I get the hand print decorated brown lunch bag.  I am prepared for the same response if I get the Popsicle stick picture frame.  Wait, I have not mentioned to them all week that my birthday is coming.  They might not even know. If they say Happy Birthday when I wake up, I say I have hit the jackpot.

3. Friends – specifically girlfriends.  They are the only ones to plan and actually remember this day. Even if it is a calendar reminder on their iPhone.  They  took the time to put this important information in their phone.  They will schedule a night out, a dinner or just simply send a card.  They know that being a Mother all you really want to do is drink wine and get away from your kids, so that is what they will plan.

Bottom line, Thanks Joseph and Janice today on my birthday as I embark on my 40th year here on this earth.  God has blessed me in infinite ways, and that is the ultimate plan.

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1981 – Janice so very pregnant with Joseph JR.  All cousins lined up for her classic backyard birthday celebrations.

IMG_1577[1]Not sure of the year, but this was the epic party with the ponies. Check out my cousin Kristen’s face.  I think she is still pissed about that party.  Little Laura Fran lookin’ all pretty at my party.

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My besties Shannon and Kelli enjoying my party.

2014 Summer Lessons Learned

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So this is what our summer has looked like so far.  Countless Baseball games, Early morning swim meets and well Chrissy Mac on his iPod playing mind craft or whatever that crazy game is called.  Summer is my most favorite time of the year.  Some may say I am a sun addict and it’s true that the feel of the summer sun on my face simply makes me happy.  Well this summer I am DONE, DONE, DONE.  Just like I was at the end of this school year… but now I can not wait for school to begin.  I tried to provide them with an educational summer- we searched for sea shells and we discussed the importance of not littering in the ocean.  We visited family and we attend some outdoor concerts.  We visited the Inner Harbor in Baltimore and Danny went away to camp for two weeks.  I think all three kids had a great and productive summer.

No, I did not search pinterest or family circle magazine  for ideas on how to dye tee shirts using organic vegetables or make popsicle sticks out of fresh fruit.  I did not bring my kids to the library or any science museums.  NO -NO -NO- who the hell wants to pay entry fees for four people to watch the kids to  run all over the place?  I was determined to keep the summer simple while trying to fit a few lessons in as the days went by.  We watched TV, a lot of TV.  Shows  like Seinfeld were great for life lessons and  to instill in the kids the importance of nothing.  We watched extreme tree house building – a lesson in carpentry and nature. They played on the ipod and played a few board games.  Trying to explain to Daniel that you can’t spend all your money right away in Monopoly was quite the chore.  Wow!  I was doing it, really doing it,  little did I know I was teaching them Math over the summer – Monopoly was my math lesson!  We filled water balloons and had massive water balloon fights and when Donald came home from work we listened to him scream – “who is gonna pick up all those broken balloons?”  Water balloon filling was a science lesson!  Again  I was doing it, teaching them over the summer and I did not know it!

There were many  lessons learned at the Manorhaven pool where overstimulated kids and frazzled parents gathered to get relief from the heat.  Ahhh the smell of chlorine and sunscreen.  Here comes my science lesson again- The sun is hot you will need sunscreen. furthermore there will be sunburn if no sunscreen is used- it hurts and you may need aloe to feel some relief.  Another lesson in earth science, plants and such.  I was rocking this summer home schooling gig.   The kids learned the importance of not peeing in the pool, woman of a certain age should shave their legs and 250 pounds of shit can NOT fit into a 100 pound bag.  I was ready for more lessons over the summer what could be next, I know lets take them shopping and show them how much money it costs to feed our family of five (sometimes six.)  Off we go to the store.

Summertime is  when the refrigerator is always empty and kids complain that there is never anything to eat.  So why not teach them how much work it is to keep that fridge full and a lesson in how much money it costs to do so.  It’s a rite of passage that every parent has to experience, taking the kids shopping and experiencing the “supermarket shakedown.”  This unique shakedown is usually precipitated by the kids viewing all sorts of candy confections, promptly followed by the unequivocal “NO!”.

Off we go to Stop and Shop, grocery list in hand and we discuss in the car that we are only getting what is on the list.  We go to the fruits and veggies first then head for the meat and the dairy products.  All is going well and I send Johnny to the Deli line to get what I need.  Christian insists he go with John and I am left with Danny who is sneaking all sorts of useless electronic items and toys in the cart.  I hear over the loud speaker clean up in isle 6 and I run to see if this was one of my children breaking something.  Nope not mine thank god, some other mother is screaming cause her kid decided to shake the 6 pack of yoo-hoo glass bottles and it is all over the floor.  Chris comes back and I ask where John is and he lost him somewhere after the deli to the woman serving cheese and cracker samples.  We find John and we try to complete the trip but a fight inevitably breaks out over  who wants  waffles, who wants French toast sticks and what flavor ice cream to get.  Then comes the we are only buying the ice cream that’s on sale fight and why do we always have to get the store brand bread fight.  I am exhausted from this lesson and all I want to do is get home.  We check out and the kids are amazed on how much only one cart of groceries cost.  I slide my debit card through the machine and Danny wants to know where the money comes from to pay the bill.  I distract the question by saying “hey look the bank here is offering free lollipops”.  I am too tired for another Math lesson.

As we arrive home we being the fight of who is carrying in the groceries and who is helping mom put everything away.  I unload and stock up the mother load of groceries in the fridge and the cabinets.  Daniel invites all of the neighborhood kids over, they eat and drink most of my food and the kids say that same afternoon there is nothing in this house to eat.

Today I await the letter from the Port Washington School district announcing who my kids will have for teachers for this year.  So I can email them telling them how excited I am for school to start.  I am tired of being the teacher.

Off to target for school supplies, I will let you know how it goes.