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Well.. our little 2 bedroom apartment is looking a bit like a clown car at the moment.. but we're having a ton of fun.

My mom is up from Kentucky for a month-ish and is spending her first week up here in MA helping us out by watching Ben during the day. His daycare is closed this week and both Shiela and I are out of vacation and personal time because of all the time we took off early this year with his medical issues. Anywho.. along for the ride are my niece, Ashley (almost 14) and nephew, Adam (8). Adam and my mom are sleeping in Ben's room and Ashley is on an aerobed in the dining room. Whew! Everyone is in air-conditioning, so things are ok from a comfort standpoint!

Today the crew is down at the Arlington Reservoir swimming and playing. I'm jealous because I'd rather be outside playing too.. but I'm also relieved that things are going so smoothly at home. You'd think my mom had raised a kid or two in her past (and had a daycare for almost 20 years!).

I took this video last night. Adam was playing with my Wii Fit and Ben has started imitating.. they were having a blast. I'm pretty sure that my downstairs neighbors thought that the sky was falling or that we had a herd of elephants passing through our place.. but it was early in the evening.. so we just let them have fun.

This week will be a bit hectic as I have to wrap up a few things for a few different projects on top of it being a shortened week and my starting up my new schedule next week.. Today has been going pretty well though, so I'm hoping that the rest of the week will fall into place as well.

yes... ms pac man. i just played the motorcycle game.. but shiela wouldn't take a picture! when does our movie start? we're on our date. it has been a while. thankfully...our babysitter is very sweet and understanding. the movie that was playing LAST NIGHT at 10pm in burlington is no longer even playing at that theater. we hauled butt across town to woburn to try for the 9:15 show. we got here at 9:50. luckily..tingting rocks (the babysitter).. because she agreed to stay late so we could hit the 11:40 show. that's time in PM units. keep in mind that going to the 10pm show was wild and crazy for us.

we have had a "dinner" of a hot dog and slushie and are loitering in the theater lobby....

so much for the china cabinet being a "safe" place to hide things from benjamin!

grocery shoppin on a Friday nite... good times... good times....

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So it's official. As of July 1, I've changed my schedule at work to a part time basis. I'll be working a 4 day work week at 8 hours a day. It was a tough decision because part of me feels like our family needs two full-time working moms.. especially given our dreams of owning a home and keeping food on the table and in the cat dishes.

I'm not going to break my "i don't talk about work" rule, so I'll be very general. If you want details.. you must email me! Anyway.. the bottom line is that my moral has been below ground for the last year+. I'd say that about 90% of the time the thought of changing careers or quitting and getting a job at Jiffy Lube or committing some white collar crime to get into the same prison that Martha Stewart made homemade jam at would be fun. (that was a long and incredibly grammatically incorrect sentence.) I feel like I spent my days wishing the time away so that I can be with my family again and then I'm so stressed and exhausted by the time I'm home with my family, I find myself wishing for it to be time for bed. This isn't healthy. I then feel guilty for never feeling like I can get enough time for my son or for my wife.

The weekends are this joyous oasis that I wait all week for... and without fail, I end up "ruining" my Sundays because i'm so stressed about going back to work on Monday. As a result, I really feel like I've been drowning and that's not in line with what I want for my life or how I logically feel about how things are.

I like what I do (for work).. There are other fields that interest me -- but I truly enjoy my current work and almost all of the people that I work with. I haven't enjoyed what I do (for work) for too long now.

SOoooooooooo... part time. It's a financial hit.. but Shiela and I agree that quality of life is more important than HBO and some of the other frills we've been indulging in (like gas for the car). The next 6 months will be tough financially and it means that we'll have to scale back on just about everything.

The goal? A happy Jen. A happy Jen makes for a happy Shiela and a happy son and two happy cats and 7 happy fish. A happy Jen makes for a Jen that wakes up looking forward to going to work again and doesn't resent the hell out of every piece of paper in my office and every client phone call because dammit-- it just seems like a stupid reason to be away from my son.

We'll see. If this results in an increase of stress, then I'll take my salary back and do my best to make it work.. but I'm hoping that it will be a turning point.

ok... i warned you that i could post from ANYWHERE now!! geez... i totally need a weekend!

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I'm going on a date tonight. Alone... with my wife. Just us.

We've got a babysitter coming over at 9pm (after Ben goes to bed... we don't want to be TOO wild and crazy) and we're going to the movie's to see Night's new movie "The Happening". It's gotten mixed review, but so have his last two movies.. and I enjoyed them both.. albeit not as much as "The Sixth Sense" or "Signs". He really can do no wrong in my book (aside from "Unbreakable" which was unwatchable).. don't get me started on how many scenes in his movies are directly related in some way to classic Speilberg movies. Anyone who can find a way to integrate a mirror representation of a scene from both Poltergeist and Jaws into a movie is top notch in my book.


yes.. i officially have too much time on my hands. i sent this via my cell phone.. so now I can blog from ANYWHERE at ANYTIME!!! BWA-HA-HA-ha-ha...

So after a long day of no naps at daycare and a full evening of fun at the town reservoir AND a relatively late bedtime (9:30pm).. Benjamin woke up screaming at 4am. I suspect based on the cry that he had a bad dream. I went and brought him out to the living room and rocked him for a bit before attempting to put him back down. More screams. I then went and got him a cup of milk. By this time, Shiela had retrieved him from his baby-jail and had him in our bed. He drank most of the milk.. had a bit of tylenol "just in case" and then chilled out in our room for a while. Shiela tried to move him back once and he resisted by practically crawling UNDER me. About a half hour later, she successfully moved him back to his bed and he slept peacefully for the remainder of the early morning.

That left me at about 8:30AM with a sleeping baby and a work agenda that wasn't going to wait for him to sleep in. It's not uncommon for him to wake up either after hearing my shower or morning activities or at the latest, when I rub his back to wake him up.

This morning.. he slept straight through a diaper change and getting dressed. Here is a picture of him still sleeping with his jammies on... yes.. his blanket is over his head.

Now he's dressed... still asleep...

Finally... starting to wake up...

Now fully awake and being a goof-ball...

About 6 minutes after waking him up, we were in the car on our way to daycare. We arrived at daycare about 10 minutes after he woke up. Here he is on his way in...

You may not see him at first.. look for the fuzzy red head behind the plastic bench.. Ben wanted to play outside. It took quite some time to talk him closer to the door (without chasing him around the yard.. which I *HAVE* done before.


Ok.. so I'm currently battling with the wireless connection on my laptop at home and my challenge of uploading photos to flickr. URGH. I *STILL* do not have all of my pics updated, but I have managed to get a few more up that I wanted to share.

Here is THE picture of me.. your faithful blogger.. on a teeter-tooter. The following day I spent laying on my back after pulling lord knows what muscle.

Ben at the farm

Ben had a great time at the farm. We actually went again this past weekend.. but alas, those pictures haven't uploaded yet.. so these pics are still from last week.

Between running toward the nearest road..

and throwing wood chips..

Ben needed to be carried to the car.. this was almost as fun as the train ride!

Here is a picture of Ben with one of the goats. Look how peaceful and nice this goat looks. This was from our first trip to the farm. This past weekend was a different story.. the dumb thing sneezed all over my back.. grossest thing EVER.

This goat was also very nice.. luckily.. otherwise we'd have a son without a nose. I was torn between pulling Ben away from the goat and trying to catch it on film. The goat was going for ben's Binky. THAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN THE WAY TO STOP THE BINKY MADNESS!!!

Changing subjects comPLETELY; Here is a pic of Ben at the pediatrician's office on Friday with his Elmo sticker on his belly. He ended up wearing it on his belly all day because we forgot about it after putting his shirt on after his shot.

This is a blackmail shot for later in life; edited for television. The funny thing was that this was over at a friend's house with boy/girl twins.. post swimming when all three kids were walking around naked. They will be mortified when they are older and find out that they had a whole discussion about who had a p.en!s (sorry for the code.. i'm taking the lead from another friend who was wise enough to duck hits from pervs at google.. of course, i'll probably get hits for having the word perv in the post).

The next two pictures are from a year ago today... I can't believe how our little boy has grown! Last year at this time he was just starting on rice cereal and yesterday he polished off an avocado and a corn and black bean wrap..

This last pic was taken by Shiela's mom. Our cats love each other.. they just pretend to hate one another when we're home.

This pic was taken (not by me) at the Boston Pride Parade last weekend. True to form, we skipped the event because the boys slept in. We opted for a trip to the farm to pick strawberries instead. I LOVE the Basketball Argument.. too funny...

Benjamin was "officially" 18 months old yesterday. I can't comprehend how quickly the time has passed yet I can hardly remember what life was like before he was part of our family. We celebrated the day by doing business as usual w/ work for moms and school for ben during the day.. but we did hit Mariachi Night at our favorite mexican restaurant after work. We met up with Stacey and the twins (who now call me "Jen".. i can't believe it!!!) for a bit and then stuck around for the band to play (they were 45 minutes late!.. but it was worth it.. Ben loved the music although he ignored the players when they were right close to us. Here is a pic I took with my cell phone.. a bit over-exposed, but you get the idea! We had a great time.

Ok... today Ben had his 18 month "well check" with Dr Pangburn. It was actually smooth sailing. We haven't had much concern about his development lately and haven't had a recent seizure.. so it really was just a matter of everything being "great".

Ben "clocked in" at 33.5" (80%) for height and at 26lbs 6oz (57%) for weight.. right on track! He also had his last booster shot -- no more shots until Kindergarten!!!

Now.. mark you calendars.. when Ben (and I) are sick in approximateley 7-10 days.. remind me that it was because I let him play with the toys in the pediatrician's waiting room.

I *WILL* post that teeter-totter pic.. I just haven't had two seconds to upload the pics from my laptop to flickr.. honest..

Ok... this message will be updated either later tonight or sometime tomorrow. I've only got about half of my photos from Saturday's adventures uploaded to flickr.. so I will add some more as soon as I can.

We went to Belkin Family Lookout Farm on Saturday afternoon to enjoy the beautiful day and pick some fresh strawberries.

We had an absolute Blast. Here are some pictures from our time spent in the strawberry fields. It was great fun for both boys.. Jaykin was skeptical at first, but quickly warmed to the event and Benjamin thought that the freedom was worth the minor disagreements that we would have over eating rocks instead of strawberries. I have to say that the strawberries were (and still are) absolutely DELICIOUS. They don't use pesticides or anything harmful at this place, so you can eat the fruit right from the plant. It was interesting because the strawberries were warm with the heat from the sun and so juicy you had to be careful not to splash it on you. We picked two pints but I probably ate another pint (not quite) on the field. Don't worry.. it's allowed. :)

The farm also had a petting zoo that was a HUGE hit. Benjamin loved petting the baby goats and was much braver than I anticipated when he went nose to nose with an adult goat who was interested in his binky. I have lots of pics.. but will have to upload those later.

There's also a picture of the "incident" (i.e. me on a teeter-totter that likely resulted in my back being thrown out..*laff*)

Hi all..

It's Monday.

Note to self: Riding on a teeter-totter as a 34 year old is not advisable. Picture to follow later tonight... check back.. it's not too often you get to see me on a teeter-totter.

The good news: Aside from spending most of Sunday in pain and flat on my back.. I seem to be doing better today.

The bad news: I'm getting my Wii Fit tonight as my favorite sister of the week is bringing it up to MA for me.. YAY. Bad news - My back is still thrown out so I'll have to be careful.

Warning: I have this horrible feeling that I'm going to not only videotape myself playing the Hula-hoop mini-game on the Fit.. but that I'm going to post it on my blog. Cover your eyes!

Mom.... this is a test of the emergency blogging system. So far you've managed to comment twice and have neither comment show up on my blog... This likely means that you're skipping a step or some other major mistake that would be hysterical if I had any clue how you could mess up leaving a comment on a blog. Even beck can do it! (of course.. she just leaves one word comments as "Anonymous" with no signature.. but i can tell it is her.. she just emotes personality in her writing... ESPECIALLY WHEN SHE TYPES IN ALL CAPS). Ok.. click on the "comments" link below this message.. it should bring you to another screen that has a little window on it. Type a comment.. given that this has backfired twice.. maybe you should just type "test" and see if that works before really pouring your soul into it. Then you'll see a garbled up mix of letters/numbers. Type what you see in the box.. this is to make sure that real humans are commenting on my blog. For the most part.. this works.. although it also seems to filter out comments from mothers. Then type in your google username (donna.illick) and your password and then click on whatever the "submit" button is (it may say "comment" or "publish" or something like that.. i can't remember). It should then reload the page and your comment should show up.. if it doesn't.. then you need to call Geek Squad because I officially give up. Or maybe you can just call June... she figured it out somehow and even has a username..

ok... back to our regularly scheduled program...

By a landslide.. my sister, Amy, comes through for her favorite older sister! This morning at 10AM, Amy was standing outside BestBuy ready to snatch up a brand new Wii Fit for her VERY gracious sister!

I'm friggin PSYCHED. This was after sending my mother on a wild goose chase yesterday afternoon when she (said mother) combed the greater Louisville area for Wii Fit games.

So I'm now the proud owner of a Wii Fit!!! YAY.

The downfall. It is in Connecticut and gas costs $4.15/gallon. Is it worth the cost of the game to drive to CT to pick it up? *gasp* How am I going to wait?!?!?!

[Disclaimer: This message is in by no means intended to disrespect anyone from Kentucky or anyone who likes white bread.. and I'm not making any racial slurs here.. I literally mean white bread. As a "woman of size".. I am also not poking fun at fellow chub-chubs... this is just a blog about something I found funny.. you may not find it funny.. worst case.. try the recipe in the blog posted earlier.. you may forgive me...]

Ok.. so as I think you all know (at least those of you who know me either very well through the internet world or in real live person of which I pretend to be one.. sometimes).. my parents moved to Kentucky this year. The event was this whole big traumatic blah.. but my therapist is now telling me that he had it all planned from the start with my mom so that it would "move our progression" along a bit faster. Regardless.. I'm having a feeling that, much like when I moved from CT to Boston, her move will result in our seeing each other maybe not more frequently, but for longer durations that are more focused. I moved to Boston and everyone in CT was like "hey... Jen's in town.. let's do something with Jen".. where when I LIVED there.. it was like "oh well.. who are you?".

Anyway.. the move has a ton of positive aspects that far outweigh some of the cons.. things like how my mom and stepdad seem to like each other more now.. go figure! I think they both actually like the southern environment a bit too.. maybe Dan more than my mom.. but they seem to be fitting in quite nicely.. not exactly like when Shiela and I visit Lubbock, TX now... we stick out a bit.. we might as well drive around on a rainbow striped harley holding a banner for the HRC. Anyway.. they have an awesome new home that is BRAND new in a ritzy neighborhood where they are single-handedly destroying our environment by not allowing my mother to use a clothesline to dry her laundry. They have a new car and Dan likes his job and my mom comes for visits.. and each visit gets longer. :)

The first visit was a week.

The next visit will be a month.. she's starting to understand how it's sort of hard to "fit everyone in" over a short visit.

My guess is that she'll also be visiting for the year of 2009.

Anyway.. back to the subject at hand. Fat people in the south. Well.. I guess this is really the first time I've mentioned the subject of this post. Well there you go. If you haven't noticed.. people in the south tend to be a tad bit larger than people in the north (myself excluded obviously.. after a raucous loss of 70 lbs.. i've now gained back 3 and am shooting for 5).

My mom went to see her new liver doctor a few days ago. She has Primary Biliary Cirrhosis although she's one of the healthiest 60 year olds that I know. Her new doctor seems WAY cooler than her last doc in CT and after hearing about how attentive (and cute) he was and how closely he plans to monitor her.. I think I'll let her continue to see him. Now.. the two funny parts came during her visit. She would probably explain it better than I could ever do the story justice.. but she doesn't blog (yet) and hasn't figured out how to comment on my blog.

(she just calls me to ask me about things that i say on my blog that also say "i'm not sure what's going to happen but i'll talk about it when it does".. she likes to call and ask what i was talking about... hmmmm.. i told her about the work thing because it's been basically hammered out.. i'm still not giving up the TMI joke from a few weeks ago though)


1. Our family history. For those who haven't known me long.. I am an incredible medical specimin. Doctors are amazed that I am able to even talk. Well.. maybe not to that extreme. I like to "joke" that I don't get things that kill me.. I just get things that make me miserable. I have a long list of health problems and I'm just barely 34. Let's see.. Ulcerative Colitis, Hypothyroidism, PCOS, Dystonia, Essential Tremor, GERD and Type 2 Diabetes to name a few. The only two things that have come close to killing me have been childbirth (pre-eclampsia) and moving to boston (my mother was NOT happy with that choice.. yeah.. then she goes and moves to KenTUCKY). Her new liver doctor was in heaven.. he had a healthy patient.. which is rare in the liver/cirrhosis world.. and she has a wacked family medical history.. how much more interesting can it get!

2. She mentioned that she is "a bit overweight" (i still guffaw at this.. I don't think she's ever passed my "goal weight").. and that she's "working on it". He made some comment about how she's in Kentucky now and that she's NOT overweight. HA! it's all relative, eh? So she goes off on a rant about how she knows why everyone is overweight.. it's the BREAD. yes.. the bread. Not only do they sell booze in Rite Aid, but their bread aisle at the supermarket is "half white bread and half glazed". I was like uhh.... glazed? She went on to explain how they have glazed raisin bread there..

Seriously.. it's one thing to make it as a treat for Thanksgiving (which I'm not sure they celebrate in Kentucky).. it's another thing to make your PB&J sandwiches with it.

Glazed Cinnamon-Raisin Tea Bread

For the batter

2 cups hot water
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

For the glaze

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons milk
2 teaspoons apple juice
2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted

Preheat oven to 350

To make the batter

In a medium bowl, add hot water and raisins - cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Drain well.

In a large bowl, whisk together buttermilk, sugar, oil, almond extract, egg and egg white. Mix in raisins.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, ground flaxseed, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Add dry ingredients into the wet and stir just until combined.

Scoop the mixture into an 8" x 4" loaf pan coated with nonstick spray. Bake until a toothpick placed in the center comes out mostly clean with a few moist crumbs attached, about 40 to 45 minutes. Remove and place pan on a rack for 10 minutes - remove bread from the pan to the rack and leave to cool completely.

To make the glaze

In a medium bowl, stir together confectioners' sugar, milk, and juice. Drizzle glaze evenly over bread and immediately sprinkle with almonds.

So this post is slightly off, chronologically. While we were waiting for Shiela to pick up Jaykin from the airport.. Ben and I hit Panera and had a bagel w/ cream cheese and ben had a full bowl of chicken/veggie/rice soup. Of course.. my "mother of the year" moment came as Ben was eating the cream cheese straight out of the plastic container with a butter knife. Go mom!

Once the cream cheese was gone.. he threw the knife and I decided that we were finished with dinner. We then went to a nearby park to kill a bit more time and run off some extra energy before bedtime. Aside from walking headfirst into a handrail twice.. we came away from that trip in one piece!

Ok... so these pictures and the video are really horrible quality. I was too tired to look for my camera, so these are off of my cell phone in low lighting...

So with that disclaimer aside...

Jaykin is here!!! YAY. ok... for those of you not in "the know".. Jaykin is shiela's ex's 11 year old son. He and his older sister (Emily, age 15) live in New Mexico with their mom and her partner. While shiela wasn't exactly given the title of a "mom" when she was with them, she was part of the family from when Jaykin was an infant and thinks of him and Emily as her kids. It's a bit challenging in that we need a special acronym to explain the relationship of the kids to us.. but the bottom line is that we love them and have the opportunity to have them visit us typically once per summer and then we visit them in NM or TX when we travel out there. Jaykin will be with us for a full month.

Ben wasn't too sure what to make of him at first. We were waiting for Shiela and Jaykin to arrive at the Alewife T station and when Jaykin got in the car, Ben couldn't take his eyes off of him, but he also had his hands up in a partial shield.. figuring that if he covered his eyes.. he'd be ok. The shyness didn't last long and by the time we were home, Jaykin had become Ben's new hero. Ben was showing off and having a blast. Here is a bad quality pic and a worse quality video from last night:

for some reason the sound doesn't work on my computer with the video connected by flickr... urgh.. the best part of the video is Ben squealing. I'll have to see if I can upload it to YouTube.

Ben is sharing his room with Jaykin.. so Jaykin gets the twin bed and with any luck, things will continue to go as smoothly as they did last night. Everyone slept well. Jaykin is at work with Shiela now.. having already watched a movie and listened to her ipod... Ben is at school.. and yes.. i brought not only his ear plugs, but also his hat and his bathing suit to daycare today.. plus a bunch of extra clothes for him since all of the clothes in his basket are too small for him again.. doh!

ok... so being a mom is a learning process. one thing that i have a fundamental stumbling block set up over is the fact that we need to put ear plugs in ben's ears when he swims/plays in water and it has to be in his right ear when he bathes. That said.. i dropped him off at daycare today with a swim diaper.. but no ear plugs. in fact.. they do not even know that he wears them.

We also played over at Snickollet's last night and the kids were swimming in the baby pool.. granted ben doesn't submerge his head yet.. but he still needs to wear the plugs.

where are the plugs?

they are under the fishtank.

i'm not sure why.


No Plugs:

My fiends WhataCard and Gio have shown me a new way to procrastinate...

Your Response is: Flight

You rather leave then deal with a dangerous or uncomfortable situation.

You can't deal with too much drama or stress. It's really hard for you to cope.

You are easily scared, freaked out, or intimidated.

And while it's good to be prudent, not everything may be as freaky as it seems!

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Seriously... I may need to talk to my therapist about this.