#AuntTina’sLOVES

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I believe it was 2006 when I found out the news that my first Niece was to be born in early 2007.  My sister in law, Kim, told us and I jumped so high I nearly hit the fan as it spun in my kitchen.  All I could think of was all the fun times I had with my aunts and uncles as a little girl and how I could not wait to share that same experience with my nieces and nephews.  The most beautiful little girl was the first to join the bunch; Ava followed by the equally beautiful ,Ella, a few short years later. Amazing to me how the genes work.  To me, Ava is a mirror of her father and Ella her mother.  Ava is feisty and has tons of spunk.  Ella is softer spoken and is more shy.  Mothers always wish the worst of their children’s qualities someday get to bite you in the ass and I suppose Ava is giving Stephen a run for his money much like John does to me.  All we can do is wish the same on them and hope we live to see it.

Prince Michael Joseph joined the gang in 2014 and is almost a year old now.  I am not sure where that year went.  MJ, as I call him, has been walking since 9.5 months and is the light of my life.  We are BFFs and my boys and Ava and Ella totally adore him.  Just this past week on May 22nd, Prince Nicholas James has entered the bunch and my heart is so filled with Joy.  You always think that you love these babies so much how can there be room for more.  Well, the heart stretches and makes room for more, because this little man has stolen my heart at 4 days old.

 

Today I decided I wanted to let Suzanne rest, so I would take Nicholas to my house with Michael and I would make my dinner, a dinner for her and Jimmy, and do some laundry.  I clearly was not thinking straight, as I had two babies under the age of one in my custody.  Michael went in for a nap and I had some snuggle time with Nicholas.  I got dinner started and then my boys got off the bus.  Michael woke up and I put him in his chair for some lunch and then placed Nicholas next to him for the picture above.  MJ looked over the high chair and gave Nicky a look like who the hell are you in my Aunt Tina’s house????  I can tell already they will be BFFs and poor Ava and Ella just can’t get a girl in the bunch!  After a busy afternoon of diaper changing, bottle feeding, watermelon in the hair, cereal crushed on the floor, cooking my dinner, cooking Suey’s dinner, more diaper changing, quick baby showering to get said watermelon out of hair, do-your-homework fighting, eat your green beans fighting, you-really-need-a-shower fighting, an “oh crap I think I put bleach in the color load of laundry” panic attack, making lunches, unclogging the toilet, and a trip on a baseball bat just now… I would not change anything in the world.  A hectic life is a full life.  

These four babies make me the happiest girl in the world… Oh and my three too.  Most times.

 

 

Cools ~ The Boop ~ Joe Fatz

Recently my father Joe has learned how to use FaceBook.  You know him he is the guy THAT WRITES IN ALL CAPS-POP.  He is enjoying catching up with the day to day Alexander Adventures as well as catching up with old friends.  He recently found his old friend John Swift on FaceBook and a few weeks ago John found me through a thread my father had started on motorcycles.

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Me and my Aunt Annie Marvullo-Himmler 1982 ish.

John writes on the thread “Hey Cools” and I was instantly transported to 8 Maple Street in Glenwood Landing.  Cools that was my name my father gave me as a little girl.  Mostly because I apparently enjoyed running around in my diaper or with nothing on and my “coolie” was hanging out.  I have no idea how he could have even remembered that but boy did it bring a smile to my face.  John or “Jackie” as I remember was the son Mr. and Mrs. Swift who lived a few houses away.  He would be often found at my house visiting on his motorcycle and chatting with Mom and Dad while they were outside doing yard work.  After I closed my computer for the night after hearing from Jackie I began to tell the boys stories of my child hood at 8 Maple and the great times that we had with our neighbors and friends.

The boys asked me more about why my name was Cools and I explained to them how we all got names from Dad.  Dad and I were best buds for years, I was his fishing buddy, his gardening buddy, his lets watched a baseball game buddy and lets go to the store for a pack of cigarettes and drink a six pack at the beach parking lot buddy.  Laura was the most girly of girls “The Boop” she was nicknamed after the sassy Betty Boop.  I can just see little Laura running around all dressed up in Mom’s heals flipping her hair all around and putting on Moms makeup.  She was always a girly girl and me not so much.   Then came the Prince, the apple of my Fathers and Mothers eye Joseph Christian.  Well Joey was dubbed  “Joe Fatz” cause till this day the kid is so filled with hot air and gas.  He stunk up a room then and can clear a room now.

Some of my favorite memories of 8 Maple was summers doing yard work as a family.  The front of our home had a brick wall at street level.  We lived on a very steep hill and our home was just at the top of the hill.  Boy that hill killed me and my friend Kelli so many times as we ran after baseballs down the hill scratched up our knees and went home bleeding from playing stickball.  The wall in front was a great place to hang out with your friends and share a homemade tupper wear ice pop made by Janice.  Dad had perfectly trimmed bushes along that wall and our job as kids would be to pick up all the trimmings when he would cut them several times a year.  We had a beautiful half wrap around porch on our home with beautiful old style spindles that Mom would paint what seemed like every year.  In front of the porch was a large patch of pachysandra a low growing groundcover plant that seemed to cover a large portion of the yard. The back yard was just beautiful, plant after plant filled the parameter of the rear yard.  Dad built a shed next to his garden but this was no normal shed.  Dad had running water in there, a telephone and cable TV.  He wanted his man cave to be a escape location from us crazy kids.  Dad built a railroad tie box next to his shed it had to be twenty feet long and fifteen feet wide for his beloved garden.  Summers were simply awesome with the fresh Roma, beefsteak  and cherry tomato’s, green beans, peppers (sweet and hot), basil, zucchini, eggplant, lettuce and the list goes on and on.  Mom would go out and pick fresh veggies for dinner every night.  In August all the neighbors were happy because there was simply too much and Mom was giving away what she could not freeze.  August was my favorite time also because with all the veggies Mom would make ciambotta an Italian vegetable stew, I can sill see the pot steaming and smell the garlic roasting.  Dad had a huge compost pile that we would bring the veggie scraps, coffee grinds, egg shells and newspaper too.  Dad would turn it every few days and he made the most amazing soil for his plants.  The plant’s that he began to grow in the winter in the basement under the lights in ice cube trays.

Mom and Dad made a good team, well at least most of the time they did.  Funny how I see DJ and I working together in the yard just like they did.  I have my little Town of North Hempstead composter and my little corner next to my Home Depot shed where today I grow a pretty good Roma and some killer cherry tomatoes.

Thanks Mr. Jackie Swift for remembering Cools, The Boop and Joe Fatz…. The memories will live in my heart forever.

 

6 to 40

August 20, 2005 my 30th birthday.  I can recall being VERY pregnant with Chrissy Mac and on complete bed rest.  DJ and Laura and the family had planned a super sized 30th surprise in my Father’s Glenwood home.  All to be cancelled because my feet resembled two large tree trunks. My blood pressure was off the charts and i was running after a 3.5 year old Johnny and a 15 month old Danny Boy.  As I spend my days these days with MJ I often wonder how the hell we did it.  Life was most hectic with three kids under 3.5 years of age.  However me and the old man we really liked each other back then and kept reproducing.

February 20, 2003 my half birthday i was 27.5 years old.   The day we lost my precious Mother Janice.  Suddenly and with out warning just a few weeks after her 50th birthday she was gone.  This past September I went the my friend Matt’s 50th birthday.  A lovely house party thrown by his wife Donna.  As we all stood and sang to him as he blew out his candles and hugged his three beautiful girls I began to sob.  Hysterical at one point I had to leave the house and sit outside and a friend came to me and asked what was wrong I was unable to speak.  I cleared my face of the tears and went back to the party.  On the way home I said to Donald 50 – THAT is what 50 looks like ????  Matt is 50 and that is the face of a FIFTY year old ??? My mother was so young and had missed out on so much life had ahead for her.

I can clearly remember Mom turning 40.  She and some friends were going to see Tom Jones at Westbury Music Fair.  She was all dressed and excited to go see one of her favorite heart throbs.       All I could remember was how dumb is that going to see some old guy sing.  Now I find myself bursting with excitement every time I have 64 year old Billy Joel tickets in my hands.  They would have a little house party a few days later Dad invited the neighbors and some friends to come celebrate.  They would dance around to disco music, drink beer and wine and laugh all night long.  Everyone smoked and the house was filled with the odor of Mom’s Virginia Slim Regulars.  There was a game of poker or some kind of card game in the dining room and a bunch of woman giggling in the living room.   What a silly way I thought to spend your birthday.  Just last week I celebrated my friends 40th at her house where we all had a glass of wine in hand giggling as we danced to disco music till 4am.  Wow who knew.

Now approaching my 40th I can’t help but think back to those 10 years ago as I was turning 30.  Fearful of what middle age would bring.  Well middle age has brought me three amazing boys, an outstanding marriage and quite a few grey hairs.  Middle age has brought me two beautiful Nieces and a completely perfect Nephew with one on the way.  It has taught me to love deeply as tomorrow is never promised.  Middle age has brought me to know the meaning of true friend ship and the deep love and respect I have for those relationships.  Most specifically for my best friend Shannon who constantly reminds me that no matter the distance, the hectic life, the kids, the husbands whatever she loves me and always will.  She has walked though life always by my side.

Statistically I have lived half my life.  With 6 months to go till I am 40 I am looking forward not backwards.  My Mother only had 10 years left at this point I am determined to make the most of the years ahead.

 

Toothpaste In The Sink

4:45AM and the alarm sounds for the first try of the morning wake up for Donald.  My heart immediately starts to race as I know the morning madness will commence shortly.  I am a morning person, always have been.  Its a fresh start to a new day ahead but for the last 7-8 years mornings for me are why I have been placed on anti anxiety medication.

6:15 – a soft call up the stairs to Johnny for him to wake up.  6:17 – a light and calm “oh Johnny Boy time to get up.”  6:20 – Now get up and come down dressed.  He follows direction and half asleep gathers his books, lunch, water bottle, instrument etc. and gets ready for the day.  He is dressed, teeth brushed, hair combed, jacket on and ready for the 6:50 bus.  Always gives his mother a kiss says I love you and off he goes to the bus stop.

6:51 – I take a moment to think about what’s ahead and then I go in to the first floor bedroom of my two little ones Christian and Daniel with a smile and a song.  I usually sing some silly tune to start to wake them and before you know it out comes Christian from his covers.  He is usually only in underwear or sometimes just in a cape and his skinny little legs go hobbling to the couch for some spongbob square pants.

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7:00AM – DANIEL….. Trying to stay calm I try once again with my silly song and he is not amused. I instantly begin begging.  Please please please just get up – Don’t make me go to work all worked up – please just get up and get dressed….

Begging does not work.  I then rip the sheets off, I have no success other then finding several missing socks he must have removed stuck down at the bottom of the bed.  Poor Christian is looking for breakfast but I can’t help him because I am only on phase two of my wake up Danny plan.  Now the yelling begins but its a strange sort of quiet yell I do.  You know the one with the teeth clenched together… You are going to wake up your Grandmother who sleeps above you get the heck out of this bed now before I … There is ZERO movement and Christian is deep into his cartoon and has no idea what is happening around him.  I leave him for a moment, pack the lunches in their bags, make sure all their homework is in the bags, planner signed, permission slip signed, contract for good behavior at cultural studies signed, box tops placed in the bag, water bottles filled, snacks in bag, take a sip of coffee, pee, brush my teeth, get my lunch together, get my makeup on, get dressed and start phase three of the Daniel wake up.

7:20 – Now this is serious business no more Mrs. nice Mom.  Now I am lifting him out of bed.  And after some real good threats I get him up.  Standing up and looking at me as I was the devil he starts to undress.  But now comes the part where we fight about its -25 degrees outside and you want to wear what???? Shorts and a tee shirt???? Now we play the I can’t find my sneakers game and your the worst Mom ever because I only have one pair of sneakers.  I get a good ole “I hate my life!” and now its the brush your teeth fight.

7:35 – Let’s go boys we are leaving now… Christian gets his shoes on, brushes his teeth, jacket and backpack on and stands by the door.  I can’t find Daniel.  Where is he?  Playing xbox and wants me to wait cause he just got on and he wants to beat this level.  That teeth clenched yell starts again when I half scream to get the heck up here we are leaving.  Christian is now sitting on the floor because he knows this may take sometime.  Bags in hand I run to the basement to grab the game from him and he knows I mean business.  Up the stairs he come stomping he hates his life and that I am the worst Mom ever and grabs his backpack and we leave.  Get in the car and I ask did you brush your teeth and where is your jacket?  I grab him and bring him inside and watch as he brushes his teeth and then wont let him out without a jacket.  Off we go to school and he says Mom I have trumpet today.  Well guess where that his.  Back home we go….  I drop them off the car door slams in his anger and off to work I go.

This was my morning yesterday and pretty much my Morning today except for on Monday, Wednesday and Friday they need to be at school at 7:15 so all this starts just a little earlier on those days.  When I get home from work and am ready for the bus to drop them off I am reminded by the toothpaste that is left in the sink for me to clean that I will have to do this all again tomorrow.

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