They Coulda’ Been Great: February-March 2014

You may have noticed that I updated my site. It looks different AND I finally figured out (after a mere nine months – cringe) WHY I couldn’t get any of my images to show up in posts. For a long time, I tried to enlist the help of designers, but they either wanted to charge me hundreds of dollars to fix a blog which already went through an expensive redesign two years ago OR they just never returned my e-mails.

Finally, I got over my fear of breaking this blog “even more” and channeled some of my 2008 new blogger pioneer spirit. I KNOW how to set up a basic (free) blog design in Blogger – so why not just start from scratch in WordPress. And here it is! A generic theme with very few bells and whistles. And? I actually prefer it like this.

AND…now that my blog is fixed and images show up, I can start posting my “They Coulda’ Been Great” features again! I’ve had these sitting in drafts, and will be posting them every few days in about five installments. Then we should be caught up through October, and I’ll go back to the monthly installments. As it should be.

Here is #1: my February and March on Facebook… (Wondering what exactly this is? All answers are HERE.)

February 1

10:07 a.m.

This means two things in my life: #1 Spring is coming! and #2 binging on my favorite candy at Listen to Your Mother auditions!

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February 2

1:32 p.m.

House is freezing. Wearing layered t-shirts, a cardigan and a scarf. Will now commence jumping jacks. #SOCOLD

 

February 5

8:44 a.m.

Of course it’s only AFTER I rip the tags off that I realize I accidentally purchased a nursing bra…

5:09 p.m.

Doing homework with Oliver…

Me: (very proud of something he figured out) You are SO smart!

Oliver: (very serious) No. I am so cute.

Yeah – that too.

 

February 8

9:30 p.m.

Earlier this evening, Eleanor was looking through Netflix options…

“Mom? What is this Breaking Bad show about?”

Now, I’m no expert on developmental readiness for mature themes such as drug use, violence and crime rings…but seven is probably too young, right?

 

February 9

11:22 a.m.

In a movie theater waiting to see The Lego Movie. Since I worried about finding four seats together opening weekend, we arrived 30 minutes early. Everyone is already eating candy and George just asked, “can I explore this place?” This should end well…

5:52 p.m.

Watching ice skating in the Olympics…

Me: Wow that’s pretty amazing, huh? You guys have been ice skating – can you IMAGINE being able to do THAT?!

George: Yeah.

Of course he can.

7:55 p.m.

Why can’t wine, Diet Coke and ice cream be good for me? It would make my life so much happier…

 

February 10

2:56 p.m.

I love how whenever Oliver wants me out of his way, he says, “why don’t you go work on your computer?” We are SO on the same page!

 

February 11

11:27 a.m.

If I ever talk about books I’m reading, you can assume I’m referring to recorded books. Seems like the only time I feel like I’m allowed to just sit and read is when I get onto bed. I get 10 minutes in and zzzzzz.

On a not entirely related note, I have to say that that while Anita Shreve is an wonderful writer, her books are torture to read. THE TRAGEDY! I’m listening to Testimony and I’m surprised I didn’t drive off the side of the road earlier from a sudden lack of the will to go on. She brings a whole new meaning to the saying “life isn’t fair.”

 

February 12

3:16 p.m.

It’s not like I’m going to eat a WHOLE BAG of Cadbury Mini Eggs!” Famous last words…

6:31 p.m.

Want to know what it’s like to be a mom? I’m supposed to be having surgery in the morning, and now that the weather may make this impossible, the #1 thing that’s pissing me off is that I was really looking forward to being allowed to sleep all day.

7:55 p.m.

Continuation of my last post… Looks like surgery is off. SO I will now drink several glasses of wine, drench myself in perfume, eat a huge midnight snack and wear every piece of jewelry I own for the duration of the morning. What else is a surgery no no? I’m doing it!!

 

February 13

3:37 p.m.

It takes a village to entertain children on a snow day.

 

February 14

7:38 p.m.

Are we the only lamos who have no Valentine’s Day dinner plans? Not even a sweet family dinner. Eleanor is having tacos next door, George ate two English Muffins and Oliver is still working on a bowl of popcorn he made a few hours ago. I could say that we’re boycotting the Hallmark holiday…but it would be more accurate to say that we’re lazy. xoxoxoxoxo from the Hoods!

 

February 16

6:02 p.m.

While it seems like a good parenting move to have your child vacuum their OWN popcorn mess, you do need the patience to coach them through it: “No – just the popcorn…not your face…not the dog…not your brother…not your butt…”

 

February 17

7:45 a.m.

George just made me a new Rainbow Loom bracelet. As he handed it to me, he said, “you can treasure that it you want to.” Think I will.

12:57 p.m.

I can’t tell you how many times I hear people say stuff like, “I HAVE to run,” or “I HAVE to write,” as if they are utterly driven to to do these things. Like it’s beyond their control at this point – they just can’t exist without “running” and “writing.” I have done both off and on for years and feel like I should relate more to this NEED and DRIVE. And I kind of do…off and on. But someday, SOMEONE is going to say, “I HAVE to eat the cupcakes,” and only THEN will I have found my true soul mate.

 

February 18

8:20 a.m.

This morning’s two hour delay is brought to you by Sponge Bob and yesterday’s Valentine’s Day party candy. We put the fun in Fun Dip.

 

February 19

11:22 p.m.

Watching Olympic skating. Call me old fashioned, but I’m not into these flesh-toned stocking/skate covers. I like a white skate on a woman.

skates

 

February 20

11:55 a.m.

Making the wait for car repairs (and the dreaded bill) a bit more bearable…

IMG_785110:49 p.m.

It just occurred to me that setting up an Evite after several glasses of wine may not be a super idea… At least not when you are literally cracking yourself up. Taking things down a notch…

 

February 22

2:50 p.m.

Today’s gift from the radio-option-only car: Madness!! They really capture how I feel about my own house much of the time… “there’s always something happening and it’s usually quite loud.

 

February 23

7:50 p.m.

I picked up Eleanor’s Girl Scout cookies today and Chris is taking her around to make deliveries. George desperately wants to help…

George: I want to come too.

Eleanor: No.

George: I can help carry the boxes.

Eleanor: [overly dramatic sigh of exasperation] No-wah!

Me: Eleanor, he just wants to help. Let him carry some boxes.

Eleanor: [to George] Okay fine. But you CAN’T SAY ANYTHING.

What a little B. Though in all fairness…she does know her brother…

 

February 24

3:45 p.m.

Home from surgery! And I have tampons in my nose!

7:39 p.m.

Oh my god you guys – I’ve been looking in the mirror and I think I look JUST like Jennifer Aniston….if she had plastic surgery to look just like me! Also – I just took a Vicodin.

10:55 p.m.

Don’t cross the streams. It would be bad.”

RIP Harold Ramis. I think of you every time my boys decide to “make an X.”

 

 

February 28

8:52 p.m.

Here is the great thing about Vicodin: it makes the ouchies less ouchy. Here is the bad thing about Vicodin: it makes you THE MOST BORING PERSON on the planet. I can barely muster up the energy to finish a sentence, let alone conduct a conversation. But I guess I wasn’t much of a firecracker to begin with – so I’ve gone from mellow to meh. Thinking it’s time to wean myself off the sleepy pills…

 

March 1

5:19 p.m.

How to get rid of Oliver: “Do you want to work on some homework?”

How to get rid of George: “Want to grab a book and come sit with me?

How to get rid of Eleanor: There is NO getting rid of Eleanor. And as inconvenient as that may be sometimes, I consider myself to be a VERY lucky mother and will take it as long as it’s on offer!

 

March 2

6:49 p.m.

While I no longer need those post surgery straws I bought, my children are now straw obsessed. Each of the 587 glasses of water they request per day must have a straw. The new soundtrack of my day is kids blowing bubbles in their drinks. I feel like I live in a fish tank.

9:00 p.m.

Is it weird that I think winning academy awards for costume design sounds 100 times cooler than anything else on the Oscars?

9:08 p.m.

Chris: Harrison Ford has never won an Oscar??

Me: They said “nominated.”

Chris: But he’s HAN SOLO!

If regular guys were in charge…

 

March 3

8:31 p.m.

Snow days are exhausting. Now get out of my bed.

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March 4

7:45 p.m.

No more running around with dog bones!

Directives that make sense to the people in my house.

7:58 p.m.

I have now seen several pictures of people discovering “the baby” in their piece of King Cake today. And each one looks like birth moment to me: “Breech!” “I see the head…!” Hope all those office kitchens were equipped with forceps…

10:08 p.m.

Watching that guy on Bizarre Foods eat blow fish eggs that are so incredibly poisonous that they have to be brined for two years, and thinking about how I can’t even handle blue cheese.

 

March 5

9:32 a.m.

So when you happen upon a school library book that you thought you returned months ago, and have said as much in response to every overdue notice that has been sent home…the best course of action is to just plant it somewhere in the school next time you’re there. Right?

3:17 p.m.

I really have to get to the store. But – you know – it’s like winter and stuff outside. I am currently on frowny face terms with Mother Nature.

5:36 p.m.

Friends don’t let friends wear tight yoga pants out in public. Unfortunately, none of my friends saw me today.

6:44 p.m.

Chris just walked in with ashes on his forehead (Ash Wednesday) and Oliver asked him if he was in an explosion. Chris tried to explain, but now Oliver thinks he tried to burn down a palm tree.

I love my little heathens.

7:35 p.m.

As soon as we opened this on Christmas, I knew its true destiny…

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March 6

8:40 a.m.

Favorite book character day at school! We’re reading The Wizard of Oz so Eleanor wanted to be Dorothy. Because WHO DOESN’T have a blue gingham dress lying around their house? Luckily my neighbor did. Of course, her daughter is two years younger than Eleanor, so length required leggings. Wondering why no ruby slippers? In the book, Dorothy wears silver shoes (fun fact for the morning!)

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March 8

3:54 p.m.

Hooray for spring daylight savings! That time of year when the clock in my car is no longer one hour ahead.

 

March 10

6:19 p.m.

I’m cutting vegetables and Oliver is standing next to me, doing a voice over of screaming noises. Sometimes he takes the personification too far.

 

March 12

2:34 p.m.

“Where is my [insert object that someone in my family cannot find here]?”

There are two constants to every incarnation of this scenario:
1. They haven’t actually looked for it.
2. I know where it is.

Hard to complain when I do myself no favors…

7:25 p.m.

George’s 1st grade homework required that he find similarities and differences between two books. So obviously…

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March 13

10:30 p.m.

Chris and I have finally started watching House of Cards. And yes – it is amazing. But I just have to get this out of my system. HOLLYWOOD! Fortheloveofgod PLEASE stop putting brownstones in DC. We have brick townhouses painted in a rainbow of different colors. Bay windows abound. Lots of uneven brick sidewalks. Build a set or something. This shouldn’t be so hard.

 

March 15

3:34 p.m.

About to revisit my youth. Taking Eleanor to a roller skating party.

 

March 16

3:28 p.m.

Dear every hair stylist and barber to have ever touched George’s head… PLEASE explain WHY all the hair gel? He is my only child to ALWAYS leave haircuts with fistfuls of styling gel in his bangs. The main problem with this is that product is inevitably applied when my attention is diverted, and it’s only later at home that I discover he now has Buster Brown bangs. Never thought I’d have to add “no styling gel” to instructions for a seven year old boy’s haircut…

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March 19

11:48 a.m.

A couple of weeks ago, I told Winter that I thought it would be best if we took a break – had some time apart from each other. Maybe a year. To get some perspective on the relationship. This week, Winter came back and asked if I would consider trying one more time to make this work. Just one more try. Oh Winter…just – no. No, I really can’t. I can’t…

yuck3:56 p.m.

In the car…

George: Mom do the front wheels steer?

Me: Of the car? Why?

George: Because if you want to shoot at the car you should shoot the wheels in the front because it will make the car go out of control.

Me: Why are we shooting at cars?

George: Because of the bad guys. And you know – some people are scared of robbers. But I’m not.

Me: You’re not?

George: Nah. They just take money and stuff from stores. Taking things isn’t scary.

Me: You have a point. We can discuss that further when you’re older.

George: You mean when I’m a teenager?

Me: That sounds about right. Why all the talk about shooting and bad guys and robbers?

George: Because there are a lot of bad guys. There are a lot of bad guys in PHILLY!

Me: Who told you that? Ben?

George: Ben’s dad.

Me: Well he’s from Philly – so he would know.

George: Yeah – there’s a lot of guys with guns there.

Me: There’s a lot of guys with guns in lots of places… But OUR neighborhood is very safe [of course I did].

George: Except for when we had the villain.

Me: The VILLAIN?

George: Yeah – that time all the helicopters were flying around looking for the villain. Hey – you know what’s really good about boys?

Me: What?

George: If we have to pee and there’s snow, we can just pee in the snow and even WRITE OUR NAME. We have very good aim.

Me: Well, that IS convenient…

George: Yeah – we’re the best pee-ers.

And I ASSURE YOU, the conversation DID NOT stop there.

#boys

7:51 p.m.

Eleanor: Is it, “I came in like a rainbow,” or “I came in like a rag ball?

First – I LIKE “I came in like a rainbow.” Also – NEVER come in like a rag ball. Rag balls always finish last.

 

March 20

5:43 p.m.

Sometimes I wonder if the people who design these homework assignments are just messing with us…

ants7:35 p.m.

George: Hey Mom! We got a new bus driver today. So I won’t get in trouble all the time now.

This says so many things about my son….

 

March 22

9:04 a.m.

If Sponge Bob laughs on the TV and no one is around to hear him, does he make an annoying sound?

 

March 25

6:30 p.m.

Eleanor’s birthday card for Chris. Are those HIP HIP HOORAY arms or WHAT?

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March 26

1:59 p.m.

At the dentist with Oliver, and he’s cracking me up. Last time we were here, there was an unfortunate incident involving the removal of a spacer that got embedded in one of his gums. Very traumatic. So from the minute we arrived, he’s been adamantly informing everyone (front desk, dental hygienist, dentist, other parents, babies…) that there will be “no silver teeth today!” I think this bodes well for self advocating in his future!

2:49 p.m.

Abomination.

abomination7:30 p.m.

Eleanor: Mom…do you ever feel like crying but you don’t know why?

Um – once a month…for a week straight. Jesus! She’s only seven. Far too young to be so melancholy…or hormonal.

 

March 28

7:37 a.m.

Impromptu morning Rainbow Loom lesson requested by Oliver. George shared, Eleanor taught and Oliver actually made a bracelet! Stuff of miracles…

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March 31

9:23 p.m.

This one turned nine yesterday. Though he’s pretty adamant that birthday aside, he’s still eight. As 42 looms, I can’t say I don’t understand…

DSC_0444BCheck back in a few days for April/May!

Top Ten List of Reasons Why Women Should Embrace Being in Their 40’s

I’ve been thinking about this list for a while now (approximately two years, five months and twenty seven days…) But in honor of my good friend, Diane’s birthday last weekend, I thought I’d post it here.

#10 You can set aside all of those unrealistic expectations about looking perfect. Because if it hasn’t happened by now…

#9 If you want to buy an embarrassing YA novel or boy band CD out in public, people will assume it’s for your daughter.

#8 You can lord your “older and wiser” status over all of your friends who are still in their 30s.

#7 After more than two decades,  you (hopefully) have the maturity and experience to understand all of that advice older people gave you in high school AND apply it to your current life (because no matter how old you are, everything ends up being just like high school).

#6  You can try to get out of speeding tickets by flirting OR playing the “sweet older lady” card. Options! (Full disclosure: neither has ever actually worked for me…)

#5 People are 100% more impressed by the challenges you take on now than they were when you were in your 20s – like training for marathons or making it to midnight on New Years Eve.

#4 You can blame everything on perimenopause.

#3 It’s likely that you’ve finally perfected a southern accent (and if you are from the south, it’s likely that you’ve finally perfected your southern accent). What? Doesn’t everyone like speaking in a southern accent? Okay – maybe that one is just me…

(take two) #3 It’s likely that you’ve finally stopped obsessing over the number you see on the scale every morning (of course, this is because you’re too busy counting new wrinkles…)

#2 You no longer have to be offended when people call you ma’am because COME ON.

#1 When you are in your 50s, you’ll think this was young.

Feel free to add any other perks in comments!

Rare Bird Review: Anything of Importance…

The morning of September 9, 2011, I was in a pretty good mood considering the night I had. I just survived a basement flood without significant damage to anything of importance. In fact, I didn’t just survive, I handled the entire disaster completely on my own. Chris wouldn’t be home from work for a while, the kids were more hindrance than help, and as I watched the water rising over the blockade of towels I had constructed, it was clear that waiting for assistance wasn’t an option. I transferred a room-full of both family heirlooms and random crap to a safer – drier – location, while simultaneously shoring up the dam of towels and holding my children at bay with television and junk food. All by myself. It took hours and I felt fairly heroic about the whole experience.

I had a lot of clean up work to do and by mid morning, I realized that it had been close to 24 hours since I had checked my e-mail or done anything online. Saving my heirlooms and crap had commanded all of my attention, and I had no idea that DC area flooding had destroyed more than just boxes of photo albums and antique furniture – that people had actually died. I didn’t know that 15 minutes away from me, an entire neighborhood had mobilized in a search for a 12 year old boy carried away by a flash flood. And I could never have imagined that the 12 year old boy would be my friend’s son.

When I finally picked up my cell phone, I saw that I had missed texts from early in the morning asking me if I had heard that, “Anna’s son died last night.” Assuming this must be a mistake, I turned on the computer and checked Anna’s Facebook page to see what she last posted. From what I remembered, it was a picture of her kids doing homework by candlelight after school due to a power outage. Instead I found a list of condolences so long that I finally gave up on scrolling to figure out WHAT had happened.

After that, my story is more or less the same one that you’ll hear from anyone else. Absolute horror. Terrible sadness. Inability to process the reality of the situation.

You will hear these stories from people who have never actually met Anna because of her blog, An Inch of Gray. Before the flood, many of her posts included sweet, funny stories about her children. Readers grew to know Jack and Margaret through Anna’s eyes, and I think they – we – grieved the loss of that little boy just as much as we would the child of a life long friend.

One of the reasons I first started reading Anna’s blog is that she’s a wonderful writer. She has a way of offering her own stories and thoughts without alienating those who are different. I could relate to her even though my children were toddlers and hers were in elementary school – even though I don’t identify with a specific religion and she often writes about her faith in God. While many of our life experiences have been different, she shares her own in such a welcoming way, without judgement of others.

I learned a lot about grief from my friend that year. Both online and off. She used her blog as a place to be brutally honest about Jack’s death and her life without him. As a writer, she was able to think things through on the page…and as a blogger she found community in sharing her story with others. While I was fortunate in proximity, and could talk to my friend in person, I found her blog posts to be just as disarming. The same open spirit was there, and comment after comment thanked her for everything from making people feel less alone in their own grief to just offering some enlightenment about what a grieving friend may be experiencing.

A year later when Anna told me that she had been approached to write a memoir, I could only think, “of course.” There was no question that if anyone could tell a personal story that would resonate with others, it would be Anna.

Two years after that, I was gifted with an advance copy of Rare Bird – and when I turned the last page, my immediate reaction was that I wanted EVERYONE to read it.

This woman wrote a book in which one of the main characters is God with a capital G, but I think that even the most ardent of atheists would find wisdom there. It’s a book about faith and we all have faith in something, whether it’s God or love or science. None of these are exempt from questions or cynicism, yet we have to believe – have faith – to keep going each day.

As a book about early grief, Rare Bird doesn’t preach or pontificate. It simply tells one mother’s story about a universal experience. Everyone eventually grapples with loss. No two stories are the same, but at their core, all hold hurt, anger and disappointment. They also include love, learning and hope. And life. In telling her own story without any claim to have all the answers or to even know what comes next, Anna has extended an invitation to acknowledge this and bear witness to a crucial facet of the human condition.

I won’t go too deeply into the details of what you will find in this book or why I think it’s so incredibly unique as a memoir (my own verbose style would require a thesis for that).  There are so many wonderful reviews that have accomplished this far better than I ever could – all of which can be found as links on the Facebook Page for An Inch of Gray. Though as far as details and quotes go, I really loved this one: Rare Bird, Indeed.

The only thing that I’d like to add to the rest is that “this is NOT a scary book.” Anna has mentioned in interviews that she doesn’t want anyone to fear the actual subject matter of her story. There are no awful surprises or anything written for shock value. It can be hard to read at times, but the overall message is one of hope.

When I heard this concern, I was immediately reminded of a childhood favorite: There’s a Monster at the End of This Book. Grover from Sesame Street finds out that when you get to the last page of the book, a monster will be waiting. He implores the reader to stop turning pages, employing rope and brick walls – none of which work. And of course, there is a monster at the end of the book. But it’s just him. I had a similar experience in reading Rare Bird. It’s hard to read something sad. It’s scary to think about losing a child. But not reading a story doesn’t make those fears and feelings go away. There definitely is something at the end of Anna’s book. But it’s just you.

Seeing another mother survive my own worst nightmare puts flooding basements into perspective. I often place a bit too much sentimental value on things – but it’s stories like this one that help me remember what is truly important in life. “Anything of importance” is a subjective concept, but I think everyone will agree that people matter most. The love we have for our family and friends is an incredible gift – but it comes with inevitable risk. One of my favorite quotes from Rare Bird is, “grieving is the price we pay for loving him so very much.” They would never trade their 12 years with Jack for a life without grief.

I will continue to be thingsy and want my kids to just go to bed already so I can catch up on Homeland… I will think I’m a super hero for clearing out a basement during a flood… And from time to time, I will be jealous and feel sorry for myself. But I know what is truly important. I will cherish the time I have with the people I love. I will be grateful for all of the love, wisdom and grace that comes my way. And I will tell everyone I know that they should read Rare Bird because it isn’t a scary book at all.

LTYM 2014 Videos Are Now Online!

The 2014 LTYM videos are finally here! This year’s DC show was fantastic and we couldn’t be more excited to share it with everyone who couldn’t be in the audience on May 4.

I would LOVE for you to watch our show (and the other LTYM shows held across the country) – which can be found on the LTYM YouTube Channel. But in the meantime, here is my reading, “The Care and Keeping of Magic.”


Already starting to think about 2015…hope to see you there!

The Care and Keeping of Magic

While my blog has been broken forever (or at least since February) some headway seems to have been made on fixing the font issues. Still can’t see images (hence no “They Coulda’ Been Great” monthly posts – expect a monster one as soon as everything is back to normal) – but that’s not required for this post!

As all of my Facebook friends know (to the point of muting me, I’m sure), the 2014 Listen to Your Mother DC took place on Sunday. It was our THIRD show and I couldn’t be more proud of our amazing cast. As usual, Stephanie and I joined them on stage (you’ll have to pry that microphone from my cold dead hands…) and I thought I’d share the essay I read this year.

While I did write it specifically for the show, it ended up being the closing piece, so I had to re-write a bit (to give it more of a “show ending” end). But this is the original essay – you’ll have to wait for the videos (sometime this summer!) to see what I changed.

THE CARE AND KEEPING OF MAGIC

One evening last December, my seven year old daughter, Eleanor lost a tooth. And as she triumphantly brandished the small white prize for my inspection, I had to feign enthusiasm.

It’s not that I begrudge my children these Tooth Fairy years. I LOVE that they are still so pure of heart and willing to believe in magic… But I’m just so disorganized. And sometimes I forget to perform my Tooth Fairy duties.

That evening last December was one of those nights. We were trying to get the house ready for the holidays. I had mountains of laundry to fold and a closet full of presents to wrap… I had teacher gifts to assemble… I had to MOVE THE ELF.

I had a lot on my “to do” list that night. And I got a lot of it done. But I forgot to be the Tooth Fairy.

Just before dawn, a very disappointed Eleanor came into my room. I told her she got up too early and tucked her back into my bed. Then I made up an excuse to run downstairs and find SOMETHING to put under her pillow. No time to search for shiny quarters… I would have to use whatever was in my wallet. Which ended up being a five dollar bill.

FIVE DOLLARS for ONE TOOTH.

Later, her brothers joined us for the big reveal. And three sets of eyes widened at the large sum. Before the boys could start decrying the unfairness of it all, I mentioned that it was mid-December… “maybe it’s like a Christmas bonus.” Then I cringed, as I saw the look on George’s face. He was undoubtedly plotting how to best rip out one of his own teeth before Santa arrived.

Being the Tooth Fairy exhausts me.

The next month at the dentist, we were told that Eleanor needed to have two teeth pulled. It was an awful, bloody business. She was brave but couldn’t hold back the tears that streamed down her face. Neither tooth was even close to being loose, and no matter how much Novocain they pumped into her, she could feel each excruciatingly slow extraction. Everyone assured her that the Tooth Fairy would be very good to her that night.

Call the Tooth Fairy Mommy…tell her she’d better hit the ATM…

When it was over, I carried my sobbing child to the car and promised ice cream, a small toy from Target, a day of television!…shhhhhhh…it’s all over now.

The rest of our busy day flew by, and as the evening light dimmed, Eleanor asked me, “will you – I mean, will SHE really bring something special tonight?” Two things occurred to me in this moment. The first was that she said “you” before correcting herself.

So. This is where it begins.  She knows – but she doesn’t want to know. She’s at that precarious moment of childhood where she has to actively CHOOSE to believe in the impossible. I remember when a friend told me the truth about Santa, but suggested that I could still believe if I wanted to. I said I thought I’d believe just a little bit longer.

Eleanor wants to believe just a little bit longer.

The second thing I thought was SHIT! I totally forgot to go to the ATM.

I grabbed my purse, but all could find was yet another five dollar bill. The same amount she received for just ONE tooth that didn’t cause her one second of pain or terror.

Moments later my husband, Chris arrived home from work, and I demanded, “how much money do you have in your wallet!?” He was only able to produce two crumpled singles.

I explained our predicament, but Chris was a bit more practical. “Look, seven dollars is a lot of money for a little girl. Don’t obsess over this.”

So I tried not to. But once the kids were asleep, I started obsessing. I rifled through junk drawers and change jars, trying to find more money. Again, Chris tried to reassure me. “Stop freaking out. Seven dollars is FINE.”

I assured him that he didn’t understand. “This morning was AWFUL. It was painful and scary. I had to help hold her down! She was promised something really special from the Tooth Fairy tonight and she is THISCLOSE to not believing anymore.”

He just sighed, “well…she’s going to have to figure it out at some point…”

As the grim truth of this statement washed over me, I thought, “but…TODAY? After that horrendous morning of blood and tears…after all of the promises I made just to get her through it…after she actually let slip that she IS starting to figure things out, but wants to believe in magic just a little bit longer? Today?? No. NOT TODAY.

Continuing my search, I found more wadded up bills and handfuls of tarnished coins. I placed them in an old marbleized paper box – now it was a treasure box. Then I dug through my jewelry and found a tiny amethyst charm – one that looked like it came from Fairyland. Finally, I wrapped everything in an emerald silk jewelry pouch that my Aunt sent me from one of her trips to Europe.

I tried to make something special out of old, dirty money and forgotten mementoes.

I did this because I am her mother, and I KNEW she needed it. I did it because she is so special and deserves to believe in magic as long as she wants to. I did it because it’s MY JOB.

I am the keeper of magic in my house.

I am a fairy with a tooth fetish and a willingness to trade in cold, hard cash. I am a fat, old man in a red suit who delivers toys you can buy at Target to homes all over the world in one night. I am a mythical bunny who fills baskets with candy and hides colorful hard boiled eggs that nobody ends up eating.

I will give my children as much time as they need to chase rainbows and pretend that shiny quarters come from pots of gold. Because they only get that kind of magic for a few short years.

Someday they will have to dig deep and believe in themselves against all odds. If they don’t believe in magic now? How will they do it then?

Right now they are little and anything seems possible. Someday they will have to grow up. Someday they won’t be so full of wonder. Someday they’ll have to make their own magic without my intervention.

Someday.

But not today.

****

No idea what this Listen to Your Mother DC stuff is all about? Check out the videos!

Listen to Your Mother DC 2012

Listen to Your Mother DC 2013

Listen to Your Mother DC 2014

Coming soon…

 

You Don’t Have My Permission

Okay – I’m just going to say it. I’m so tired of all of these overly dramatic, “YOU CAN DO IT!” calls to action from… Oh god – pretty much anyone who wants to give them, I guess. Oprah’s life gurus…blogging “celebrities”…the writer of today’s viral link… You name it – these people have THE ANSWERS.

It doesn’t really bother me that they have ideas for how to be a better person or live a better life. Truly, anyone can hand you unexpected wisdom. And because of this, I will always stop and listen when someone says, “this is important – please think about it.” Or even, “hey – you should do this.” Sure – I’ll think about it. And yes – I may actually do it. But not if you believe that it’s your job to give me permission. Psst! I know I can do it. If I want to – I will.

I’m a grown woman with three children and my own share of personal crap to deal with on a daily basis. It would be fair to say that I have been (somewhat) successfully navigating my life thus far. And I haven’t needed anyone’s permission to do so.

This may seem touchy, right? Nit picking even…not taking encouragement in the spirit with which it was given? But I’m being really specific about who’s getting on my nerves here. Not enthusiastic people with ideas and hope and a desire to help others. And definitely not people who are making a plea for kindness, understanding or acceptance. I’m talking about the self proclaimed experts who have decided that you NEED their ideas – their wisdom.

They’re not always so obvious about it. They claim to be struggling too – just as flawed as anyone else. But their life or work experience has given them wisdom and they have answers! The theme is always the same… They had a thought or experience, did some more thinking on it, had an epiphany, and are now sharing it with YOU. But no – not only that, they are INVITING YOU to join them on this journey of enlightenment. They are telling you that IT’S OKAY – you can do it too! And in all of this supportive We Are The Champions pontificating, they are giving you permission to make your life better.

The ideas they have may be solid gold. But I can’t see past the bedazzled cover of proselytizing. People set up big white tents in fields for this kind of thing.

These inspirational diatribes often include words like “real” and “honest” and “authentic.” You know who I find authentic? People who have a thought provoking story to tell or a really great idea, and then just tell you their story or explain their idea. I’m a pretty smart cookie. I can find the wisdom without any hand holding. I can think it through on my own and decide what I want to do with it. I don’t need a call to action. I don’t need permission.

I KNOW! Everyone is different. I personally, don’t seek out leaders. It’s not that I have any particular interest in being the leader, I just kind of resent being treated like a follower. On the other hand, someone else may appreciate the encouragement – the message that they are part of something bigger. We all like our wisdom served up in different ways…shaken, not stirred…straight up…with a flirty paper umbrella garnish… So in the midst of my grumpy huffing, I have to admit that I am really only speaking for myself.

Unless.

If those of you who find a leader’s call to action inspiring would be so kind as to lend ME your ear for minute… I have an idea.  Not looking to provide any guidance here…not even a story…just an idea. No bedazzling.

You don’t need a call to action. Or a leader.

Wisdom is everywhere. You don’t need a guru or a virtual life coach to find it. You just need wide open eyes and ears.

Listen to what other people have to say – their stories and ideas. Even the ones who desire to lead you (as annoying as they may be, their ideas are often pretty good). Watch the people you love strive and care and try. Observe the world around you at your own pace. Take time to form your own ideas and opinions.

Then, when you’re ready – do something. Or not. Whatever feels right.

That’s it. That’s my idea. That’s what I’m going to do.

And you can too.

But you don’t have my permission. Because you don’t need it.

Me, but Better

*This post is brought to you by Kiran who pointed out that my husband is on a 10 day business trip and I should be blogging every night, right?

So it looks like I may not be having my nose job next week. Oh – I didn’t mention that I’m getting a nose job? I’m pretty sure I did on Facebook… Well, don’t feel bad for not knowing, because it’s not actually THAT big of a deal. This isn’t the kind of thing that will make people do a double take, thinking, “why does Kate look SO GORGEOUS today? Did she do something different with her hair? Did she drop some weight? WHAT is her secret!?

Nope. None of that will happen. I’m just having my deviated septum repaired, and once the swelling and bruising subside, I should look exactly the same. More symmetrical perhaps…but nothing anyone will notice. Unless of course, my nose ends up looking EVEN BIGGER once it’s not smushed to the side anymore… And wouldn’t THAT be my luck?

I was just getting used to the idea of spending weeks looking like someone bashed my face into a brick wall (even fearing that it would be more like months…), and NOW I’ve come to find out that it may not even happen due to a miscommunication.

This last minute glitch came up because not only do I have a deviated septum (don’t you love how I keep saying that, like I actually understand what it means?), the bridge of my nose is somewhat shifted to the left, dragging the whole shebang with it. So the only way to truly “fix” my nose is to break it. And THAT is automatically coded as “cosmetic.”

I can promise you that at age 41, with my three children, middle aged body and husband who actually likes the way I look, having a delicate Grace Kelly nose has long since fallen off my personal wish list. I don’t even want to look different anymore. It would change literally NOTHING in my life. So why bother?

The only reason that I’ve finally succumbed to the lure of facial symmetry is that I’m tired of sinus infections…and having to sleep propped up on four pillows…and the Breathe Right strips that don’t even work that well… And okay, fine – I do kind of wonder what else a straighter nose might mean for me. Maybe that slight nasal quality of my voice will disappear. Maybe I’ll be a better singer! Maybe I’ll finally be able to part my hair in the middle without looking like bad cubist painting. Maybe I really will look better.

So I guess a little curious vanity (or vain curiosity) figures into this surgery. The surgery that might not happen.

What is particularly infuriating is that it has taken me over 10 years to muster up enough courage to just do it already. When I was 30 and having the worst sinus infection of my life, an ENT told me that surgery could help. But I was TERRIFIED. I never had surgery before. Once I got the meds I needed, I never called back to follow up on his suggestion.

It didn’t help that as he walked into the examination room where I was waiting, the first thing that came out of his mouth was, “so when did you break your nose?” The answer was “never” and I was ready to explode from indignation. I was convinced that he was just another A-hole who thought all women wanted to look like Barbie. It was easier to dismiss him with that assumption than my ridiculous fear of going under the knife.

Since then, I gave birth to a 9 lb. baby, had a c-section for my twins, and cruised through a hernia repair surgery. I have suffered pain, fear and numerous indignities that made this deviated septum thing look like a joke. The c-section alone put everything into perspective. I mean, I had major abdominal surgery while awake forgodssake. I decided that I could probably handle a nose job.

So I found a surgeon in my insurance network and set up an appointment. The waiting room of the practice was my first indication that this was not going to be treated as a strictly medical procedure. The sleek furniture, flat screen TV display of very attractive people becoming even MORE attractive, and subtly placed photo books of before and after noses, lips and cheekbones made it quite clear that I would be getting the full plastic surgery appointment experience.

I was in my usual get up of a semi-clean tank top and jeans and only hoped that my frizzy summer hair and sweaty, make-up free face didn’t ruin the effect of the lovely reception area. I left that to the six year old twins I had in tow. I undoubtedly looked like a worn down suburban housewife in need of a chrysalis. So I guess I fit right in.

I explained to the doctor that my goal was better breathing, and he winked and said, “suuuurrre it is.” KIDDING! But he did say that he would take pictures to give me ideas for some small changes I could make. Just something to consider.

The plan was to send me computer generated before and after images, and then have another appointment to discuss the plan for moving forward.

KathrynH0

KathrynH1

Is it me – or do these look almost exactly the same!? Well – on my phone they did… It’s a little easier to see changes on a bigger screen. But STILL – not a huge change, right?

My doctor’s e-mail stated, “Here are the computer images I created to show you my cosmetic goals for your nose.” So it was pretty clear that we were having that conversation no matter what my better breathing goals were.

And really – I didn’t mind. I had long since gotten over taking offense when people who fix noses for a living think that I could use a little help with mine. It’s kind of their job right?

In our follow up appointment he gave me the “you but better” pitch. This was only marginally demoralizing since he felt I just needed a little bit of work to slim the tip of my nose (the word “bulbous” came up several times) and trim off the slight bump that is visible in my profile. It wasn’t all that different from the times my hair stylist has tried to talk me into layers.

I listened – and even found the presentation rather compelling – but in the end, I confessed that unless insurance wanted to pay for “me but better,” I was most likely going to have to settle for “me.”

I explained that I really just needed to get this breathing issue fixed. He seemed pretty understanding, but encouraged me to discuss their payment plan options with his coordinator who would be submitting everything to insurance.

Honestly? I was just being polite. There is NO WAY were can spend $6,000 to make my nose look slightly better – payment plan or not. When I relayed the story to Chris he agreed – said it was a complete waste money and if we were spending $6,000 on any part of my body it was going to be bigger boobs. Yay men!

I called the coordinator the next day to confirm that “me but better” wasn’t happening – just the medical repairs, please. Then I said I’d call in November to set up an early 2014 surgery date, as I’m just vain enough to not want a swollen face for the holidays.

All was going according to plan until my pre-op appointment last week. Apparently, my doctor was under the impression that we were doing the full me-but-better surgery since that was “what we last discussed” and the coordinator didn’t inform him of the update. This shouldn’t have been a big deal (just a frowny face on his part since he couldn’t make me prettier) – but it actually means that my insurance company didn’t get all of the information that THEY need.

The coordinator didn’t realize that my nose is so completely fucked up that the little septum repair codes she submitted to wouldn’t cover the procedure required to move my bridge back into alignment. So she now had only two weeks to submit ANOTHER code that is generally used for cosmetic work and almost always gets a big NOPE, and requires that they make a case for the medical side of things, blah blah blah.

Are you still with me? If not, I don’t blame you… Even I find the whole thing incredibly tedious. If I had $6,000 on hand I would probably say, “here – do what you have to do, I just really need to get to that vacuuming today…”

Please don’t think I’m upset about this or anything… I know everyone meant well. The doctor just wants me to be the best me possible. And the coordinator just isn’t a doctor. And I just really want some ice cream – but that is largely unrelated to this story. The real problem is that the doctor and I had different “goals” and assumed that “ours” would be the final decision.

I listened to him talk thinking, “okay – I’ll nod and look interested to be polite, but I think I made it clear that I’m not paying out of pocket for anything.” And he listened to himself talk thinking, “I know you don’t want to spend the money, but after looking at these fancy pictures you’ll HAVE to change your mind ‘cause obvs – you’re hideous.”

Whatever – we’re all on the same page now. We agreed to see what happens with insurance. Then we each went our separate ways to have a good ol’ eye roll at the others’ expense.

Do I want this surgery to work out? To be honest, it’s kind of a HUGE pain in the ass and I wouldn’t mind not having to deal with it… I HAVE been living with this nose for over 10 years… On the other hand, I was starting to like the idea of a better me. Breathing better would be nice and having a straighter nose would most likely mean looking better too… I guess I’m not such a grownup now that I don’t fall into that shallow trap of thinking a change in my appearance might make me happier.

I don’t have an end for this story. It’s very much “to be continued.” But at some point this year, I will have a straighter nose (bulbous tip notwithstanding). I will be able to breathe better. And I will definitely be mindful of the fact that any trips to the plastic surgeon should include the disclaimer that our family will not be paying out of pocket for cosmetic procedures…though, bigger boobs aren’t completely off the table.

2/17/14 UPDATE:

I did not end up having surgery last week. Funny enough, it had nothing to do with insurance which we were able to sort out. It was just that it started snowing. And didn’t stop.

Surgery got cancelled and is now rescheduled for the 24th. As for what the surgery will be… Insurance won’t cover the nose breaking. Even if it’s for medical purposes. Apparently, it is specifically written into our policy that there will be no breaking of noses on their dime – better breathing goals or not! They probably used more professional terminology, but this came to me second hand from the coordinator.

Yes – it’s somewhat disappointing since my breathing won’t be 100% better (and when I have surgery, I’m generally in it to win it) – BUT my surgeon feels confident that I will notice a significant improvement with just the septoplasty (there! a medical term!) And the recovery time will be better. So that’s a perk.

The only risk to not doing the full face bashing is that a septoplasty-only procedure MAY create a small bump on the top of my nose (or a bigger one than I already have).

In summary: surgery will happen but my nose will not be broken, and this may or may not make me look a little different – possibly with a slightly larger bump on my nose. So while I definitely won’t look like Me but Better, there is a fair chance I will look like Me but Bumpier. Wish me luck!

They Coulda’ Been Great – January 2014

Our January bits and bobs via Facebook… (What is this? All answers are HERE.)


January 1

2:55 p.m.

A few days ago I expressed surprise at how violated my husband felt by my decision to purchase cheap toilet paper.

Well. I am currently sitting at an auto repair shop where the very unremarkable bathroom off the lobby offers super deluxe toilet paper, so soft that it that may possibly be made with woven unicorn hair. Not a woman in sight, my friends.

So it seems my first significant observation in 2014 is about toilet paper. [Champagne cork pops!]


January 2

2:00 p.m.

Sitting in a therapy waiting room. A little boy just walked out with his OT and announced to his father, “I did amazing.” This is the kind of thing that makes me LOVE kids. Next time I complete a task, I’m telling the first person I see, “I did amazing.” Okay – maybe I’ll just do that in my head…but they will be able to SEE IN MY EYES just how amazing I did.


January 3

2:29 p.m.

Seeing children with icicles poised at lips…

Did you pull those off the car? Never put anything you pull off the car IN YOUR MOUTH.”

Does motherhood automatically make you wise? Because I’m like a freaking sage around here…

9:00 p.m.

Eleanor is reading me her new Frozen book…

Eleanor: “In a grassy valley next to a deep f…” What is that word?

Me: Fjord

Eleanor: What’s a fjord?

Me: [Bluffs knowing the answer to this question without having to look it up.]

Eleanor: That’s hard to pronounce. I’ll just say “the F word” when I see it.

Me: [Tries to decide whether I should explain what "the F word" means or just assume that she won't encounter the word "fjord" again in the next five years...]

10:20 p.m.

Continuation of last post…

Me: Tells Chris the funny story about Eleanor reading Frozen and asking what “fjord” means, and me not really knowing the definition, and her deciding to just call it “the F word” when she sees it.

Chris: [thinking...] “Fjord”…a sea-valley created by ice…

Me: [thinking: "Chris"...a giant know-it-all who would rather define "fjord" than laugh at my funny story... That's hard to pronounce. I'll just say "the A-word" when I see him.]

Seriously though – I’m super excited to know that it won’t be ME sitting up all night, helping them write their eighth grade geography reports.


January 4

8:29 p.m.

Right after taking a shower, I noticed that my forehead looked really smooth. I mean, the usual “fine lines” were still there…but just barely. As I stared in the mirror admiring myself, I wondered what I’ve been doing differently. I HAVE been better about applying the anti-aging cream every night and staying hydrated… Maybe consistency is the answer! Then I felt the towel on my head tugging at my hairline. And as soon as I removed it the lines were deeper. So apparently the ANSWER is just a good old fashioned facelift. OR? Really heavy turbans….

Liz Turban
January 6

8:27 a.m.

I thought having an appliance repair man come to fix our refrigerator was going to be today’s inconvenience. I was mistaken.

I can’t even believe that I’m saying this but there is a bat trapped in our storm window. AGAIN!

UPDATE #1 10:05 a.m.

Left a message for the bat lady!

UPDATE #2 11:59 a.m.

A volunteer is going to try to come to save the bat today…the bat lady reminded me that I should probably do something about that storm window…the bat is huddled in a ball in the corner of the window so [my bat-squeamish friends] do not have to fear pictures on my timeline…the bat lady confirmed that he is probably comfortable next to my warm window so my bat-loving friends don’t need to worry about him…AND yes – it’s most likely the same bat.

UPDATE #3 6:54 p.m.

The bat lady (another bat lady) came to rescue our bat. He’s out! Amazing how UNdramatic today’s experience was in comparison to last year. Even took a couple of videos for posterity. The storm window is now firmly shut!

7:19 p.m.

Eleanor: [making lots of excited squawking noises about winning something in a "very hard" game she was playing on the computer]

Me: Wait – what?

Eleanor: [elaborate explanation about the game that I didn't actually hear because even though I asked, I wasn't listening]

Chris: What is this game?

Eleanor: It’s on americangirl.com.

Chris: You were playing an American Girl Doll video game?!

Me: What is it?

Eleanor: You know Temple Run?

Me: Isn’t that a game for grownups??

Eleanor: No [Chris nods his head, yes.]

Me: Is that like Tomb Raider?

Eleanor: What? [Chris nods his head, yes.]

Introducing the 2014 “Girl of the Year”: Laura Croft!

8:07 p.m.

Okay! This is for those of you who love bats. Everyone else – avert your eyes…. [PLEASE don't judge the filthy - and very old - windows...the inside of my house is not filthy or old.]

10:07 p.m.

Help – Wisconsin friends! Chris wanted a deep fryer for Christmas, so my first thought was FRIED CHEESE CURDS. I have always wanted to try this (I think ever since I saw a video Ann Imig and Amy Windsor made years ago called “The Wurst Mothers” – and I am NOT kidding). We now have a fryer! I found an actual bag of cheese curds from Wisconsin! We followed the recipe – put it in the fryer – and…big mess. WHO has a really good fried cheese curds recipe? I’m feeling very cheated and frowny face about this… [Epilogue: NO ONE I know in the Midwest has ever made fried cheese curds before. But all claim to really enjoy eating them at the Wisconsin State Fair. NOT helpful.]

10:18 p.m.

Chris is explaining the Rose Bowl to me and I think I now understand how he feels when I talk about musicals.


January 7

10:34 a.m.

Here’s the problem with kids: they don’t know how to lie to the dentist about flossing.


January 9

6:28 p.m.

You know you are a bad mom when most of your ideas about dinner for the kids involve peanut butter on a rice cake.

7:46 p.m.

Exactly what publishing company decided that I have a free subscription to Women’s Health?? As I type, Chris is reading up on how I can have “the best butt ever” and…OH NOW we’re perusing “The Hot-Sex Bucket List.” Like I need this in my life.


January 12

1:29 p.m.

“I am a grownup and I can sing of I want to!”

When will my children learn that I am immune to their wailing protests? And they’re gonna hear me Roar.

7:20 p.m.

“It’s dinner time not doughnut time!”

It’s hard to be a parent. You have to say so many things that you barely believe yourself.


January 15

7:18 p.m.

I just Marge Simpson growled at my children. I believe I have “arrived.”

7:51 p.m.

Helping George fill out his reading log for the week…

Me: You can also include Cowboy and Octopus. We read that all the time.

George: Did we read it this week?

Me: Sure – why not.

Never too early to start on resume writing skills…

8:13 p.m.

Oliver: Mom… I don’t want you to die…because I don’t want to grew up.

Me: I’m not going to die.

Oliver: And I’m not going to grew up.

Me: So that’s decided then.

Oliver: And you’ll never go on the boat…

Damn you Frozen!


January 17

11:38 p.m.

If it wasn’t for that Oscar Meyer song, I would never remember how to spell “bologna.” And yes, I do pause and sing B-O-L-O-G-N-A in my head before typing it. Every time.


January 18

6:10 p.m.

Recently read a tweet from @tomandlorenzo that said “Let It Go” from Frozen is a total drag queen song – which makes me like it EVEN MORE.


January 21

8:58 a.m.

Waiting for Godot – I MEAN the snow…


January 22

1:28 p.m.

Oh just make yourself at home Alice – it’s not like I’m picky about the pillow arrangement on my NEWLY MADE BED or anything…

Alice
January 22

5:48 p.m.

You know this one is sick when he falls asleep mid-popcorn…

Oliver sick
January 23

12:47 p.m.

MEMO

TO: Alice (my dog)
FROM: THE MANAGEMENT (me)

Effective immediately: Capering while on leash is no longer permitted. It is annoying and sometimes dangerous. While this family places great value on happiness and encourages both human AND canine expressions of such, every member MUST adhere to certain rules. This includes a zero tolerance policy regarding boisterous physical activity while tethered to another. Neglecting to comply will result in a behavioral assessment and possible termination. From the family, not life itself – we’re not monsters. We’re also not kidding. Thank you.

1012026_10202218872448072_779215483_n3:38 p.m.

The great thing about a big pile of unfolded clean laundry on your living room couch is that you don’t have to run upstairs to get clothes for your kids. You can easily find whatever you need by just shuffling through the pile! Except for the fact that this is never true…


January 24

10:43 a.m.

Having a radio-only option in your car means that you may find yourself in the school kiss-and-ride line with 4 kids aged 5-8 listening to Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On.


January 25

12:44 p.m.

Let’s Hear It For the Boy just came on the radio and Oliver is already telling me to stop singing. Like he thinks I have any control over that!


January 26

9:08 p.m.

I wish I started every day the way Cora Crawley does on Downton Abbey. With the same china service and dressing gown.

lady-cora-bedjpg

January 28

8:21 p.m.

Reading a book in which most of the characters are prudes or snobs (or both) and feeling mildly uncomfortable by how strongly I identify with them…


January 31

12:11 p.m.

Eleanor: Mom! I can’t find my beads. Did you move them?

Me: I think I moved them into the living room – check next to the piano.

Eleanor: [after leaving for minute to go look] They’re not THERE!

Me: They weren’t next to the piano?

Eleanor: NOOO! Can you help me?

Me: Sigh. Why am I the only one who can ever find anything around here?

Eleanor: Because you’re the only one who actually looks.

Right before my head exploded, I appreciated this acknowledgment.

10:07 p.m.

Channel surfing score! Caught the last 20 minutes of Hot Tub Time Machine. Only regret is missing Craig Robinson singing Let’s Get it Started.

*****

So it seems my LAST significant observation in JANUARY 2014 is that I LOVE the movie, Hot Tub Time Machine. No secrets here my friends…loud and proud…

Tune In Next Time… (Alternatively Titled: I Miss The Cosbys)

Scene: High school cafeteria  – Lunch

Nice group of sitcoms is sitting at a long table, eating.

Raucous group of reality TV arrives in a cloud of overpowering cologne.

Reality TV: Um… This is where WE eat lunch?

Sitcoms: But we’ve been eating lunch here for over 50 years.

Reality TV: Wow. You’re OLD.

Sitcoms: There’s plenty of room over there [gestures to empty tables].

Reality TV: I’m sorry – do you know who we are?

Sitcoms: Not really…

Reality TV: You TOTALLY have to watch our shows. We’re awesome! Pretend “real people” cry and embarrass themselves and make tons of money acting like complete assholes. What do you do?

Sitcoms: We make people laugh.

Reality TV: How?

Sitcoms: Being funny?

Reality TV: Have you ever even SEEN a tanning bed?

Sitcoms: Well, what do you do?

Reality TV: WE make people laugh.

Sitcoms: How?

Reality TV: Duh! By featuring pretend “real people” who cry and embarrass themselves. Did you know that you can make a ton of money acting like a complete asshole on TV? It’s awesome.

Sitcoms: So you’re really just scripted like us?

Reality TV: Totally!

Sitcoms: But you pretend to be “real?”

Reality TV: We’re bored. Can you move now?

Sitcoms: No.

Reality TV: Okay fine. A few of you can stay… You nerdy science guys over there – we can laugh at you. Aaaand…the really attractive families – we won’t mind looking at you while you’re “being funny.” Hmmm….just ONE more…  OH! The two men and the younger guy in that “family friendly” show with all of the sexual innuendo. You guys are actually pretty cool. So…yeah. The rest of you can go. Bye!

Sticoms: If you don’t leave us alone, we’re going on Facebook and telling everyone that you’re a big bunch of fakes!

Reality TV: Um… like – they already know that? And? They don’t care.

Sitcoms:

Reality TV: Yeah. So you can move now? And don’t forget your tagalong reruns. Nobody watches them anymore.

Sorry sitcoms… I’ll keep watching as long as you are around.  I’ll sign your petitions and attend your anti-bullying rallies. You have my vote for school president! But mean girls find power in numbers, and there are so many pretend real people acting like assholes on TV right now…  

The Game Plan

It’s no secret that my seven year old son, George has never been a big guy. His twin sister has outweighed him for years and people are starting to assume that he’s my “youngest.” In comparison to his GIANT brother (who is actually only 18 months older) this is understandable…but his TWIN SISTER?

Regardless, he makes up for his diminutive size with a larger than life personality. George does everything BIG. When he’s happy, he is ECSTATIC. When he’s sad, he is DESPONDENT. When he’s angry, he is FURY INCARNATE. No joke – his berserker-like reactions make me wonder if there is some recessive Norse warrior gene involved…

And he has recently decided that he wants to play football. Like, he thinks this is even a remote possibility. Oh yeah – he wants to play professionally. “On TV.”

When he first brought this up, I said, “Dad makes all sports-related decisions.” Just the thought of games makes me feel like I might slip into a coma. Seriously – I shut down. No Monopoly…no poker…forget about physical competition. I find the OLYMPICS stressful. PEOPLE FALL. PEOPLE LOSE. PEOPLE DON’T GET TO STAND ON PLATFORMS WEARING SHINY MEDALS AND WAVING TO ADORING CROWDS. It’s too much for me. I’m a big fan of the “participation trophy” trend.

Since my husband doesn’t want me to “ruin” any of his children who exhibit athletic inclinations, I just direct them to him regarding all things “my team-your team.” Chris is about 5′ 8″ and knows all too well what it’s like to be a great athlete who just isn’t big enough. He looks at his mini-me George and wants him to pick a sport where he can have fun and not be limited by size…and not get killed.

Chris said, “what about soccer?” George said, “I want to play football.Chris showed him videos of lacrosse – bought lacrosse sticks and looked up lacrosse leagues. George said,yay! I want to play lacrosse! And football.” Chris said “FINE – but you have to be BIG to play football. Maybe if you grow really big, you can play football in HIGH SCHOOL.”

So George is now on a mission to “get big” by the time he’s in high school.

He asked what he needs to do to make this happen, and Chris explained the importance of diet and exercise. Healthy food and a lot of it…building muscle…increasing endurance… They talked about how George may end up being a good kicker. It’s all very Friday Night Lights (my only solid touchstone for the concept of football).

Attention future football players at George’s high school… Please take a moment, and give it up for your FUTURE TEAM MANAGER! I’m just kidding. Maybe…

A lot of information there… So let’s break this down:

  • Football is “a wrestle game where you can get injuries and it’s good for you because it’s exercise.” Just so you know.
  • Oliver isn’t wearing pants. And he wants a “peanut butter rice cake.” This describes 99% of the time he is at home.
  • Football is fascinating.
  • There is entirely way too much crap on my dining room table. This describes 99% of the time that my family is at home.
  • George’s plan is to “keep on exercising and doing all kinds of stuff that’s good for him and doing too much laps for him and it’s way too good for him and he’s going to keep on doing it!” So there.
  • From now on George is going to eat healthy foods.
  • Eleanor thinks this includes vegetables.
  • George doesn’t acknowledge advice that includes vegetables.
  • Chris has a cold (he’s the one who keep sneezing).
  • George will eat fruit like strawberries. He likes strawberries.
  • Pepperoni is a protein – so George will eat that too.
  • George’s exercise plan is to do “a lot of exercise each and every day.”
  • More specifically, this exercise will consist of “10 slides and jumps and push ups and sit ups, and 13 running up and down the stairs, and running round the rooms until it starts having him eat healthy stuff.” Or something.
  • This is his plan to play football on TV. So he will just keep on doing it until dinner time.

Can’t lose!

Oh – I don’t know…maybe he really will play football. Or maybe next week, he’ll decide that art is his thing. The possibilities are endless. But I have no doubt that whatever he does, it will be done with great enthusiasm. Maybe even on TV.