Category Archives: Uncategorized

Listen to Your Mother DC Videos are Now Online!

I am so incredibly proud of the 2013 cast. Their April 28 performance was nothing short of spectacular. I would LOVE for you to watch the show (and the other 23 LTYM shows) – which can be found on the LTYM YouTube Channel. But in the meantime, here is my reading, “Turn Signals.”


Wow. That still of me is AWESOME.

Hope to see you at the show in 2014!

They Coulda’ Been Great! May-June 2013

Hi Mom, Chris, Nancy and the other 98% of my family (and a few of my best friends who aren’t on Facebook)! You know how you never check my blog anymore because I NEVER post anything anymore? And how I always say it’s because I’m so busy and that’s only 50% true because the other half of the reason is that so many of what would have once been great blog posts ended up as Facebook one-liners instead? Well this is for you. And also for me so I can still call myself a blogger.

For further explanation, click HERE.

Heeeere’s May and June!

May 1

8:20 a.m.

The twins are watching the Disney Channel and something regarding a hot air balloon race must be happening on TV…

Eleanor: That’s not true!

Me: What?

Eleanor: George said that when people go on a honeymoon they get into a balloon and float into space.

Me: Daddy and I went to Spain.

George: OR Greenland! You could go to Greenland.

Me: Well, that’s another option…

6:30 p.m.

Exactly who decided that “dinner” has to be a thing? If I could just have wine and cheese every night, I’d be so happy…

May 3

3:30 p.m.

I think I just replaced about 80% of the light bulbs in our house. It was getting very Little House on the Prairie around here… On the upside, I have now decided that I may survive an additional 3 weeks in a post apocalyptic world.

May 5

3:00 p.m.

Thankfully, it didn’t break. [Note: they were wearing helmets because they were riding bikes at the time – NOT for the horse.]

May 5

May 6

5:50 p.m.

This may be my favorite picture anyone has taken of me EVER. And yes I did notice that it’s not a close up. I’m 41 yo. Thank you Amanda!

show 15

May 7

11:30 p.m.

I love it when a “regular guy” gets to be the hero. Just hanging out, eatin’ his McDonald’s and BAM! – suddenly he’s saving women being held captive in his neighbor’s house. LOVE IT.


May 9

7:25 a.m.

I think Eleanor has a Man Cold. Is that even possible?

5:15 p.m.

Oliver does this stuttering thing a lot, and every time he says, “because, because, because,” I want to sing, “because, BECAUSE! Because of the wonderful things he does!” But I don’t because (because, because, because, BECAUSE) none of my kids have seen The Wizard of Oz yet (scary flying monkeys) and my husband hates musicals. So no one would get it. And the dog would attack me because she can’t handle singing and dancing. YAY – life is fun! By the way, I’m drinking wine – CHEERS!

May 10

8:00 a.m.

George: Is it Mother’s Day on Sunday?

Me: YES! And Daddy is going to clean the whole house as my present!

Eleanor: [SNORT!]

I love my daughter.

May 12

11:00 a.m.

Because everyone should have a picture of her daughter on a stripper pole. HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

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12:50 p.m.

My friend Diane and I are getting Mother’s Day pedicures. Our color choices say a lot about our personalities…

pedicure with Diane

May 14

6:50 p.m.

Every night we have a variation of this conversation:

Oliver: Mom, can I have some ice cream?

Me: No honey – it’s a little early for dessert. We’ll do that in 15 minutes.

George: I’M SOOOOO HUNGRY for ice cream!

Me: There is no such thing as being “hungry” for ice cream – just “wanting” ice cream, and you can wait 15 minutes.

Eleanor: But that’s a LONG time.

George: I’m SOOOOO HUNGRY!

Oliver: Can I have some ice cream?

Me: If you are hungry, I’m happy to to whip up some vegetables. And THEN, after you eat them, you can have some ice cream. Or you can wait 15 minutes.

And every night they make the same decision.

May 18

11:35 a.m.

Apparently, there is no direction, explanation, or threat that will make Oliver understand that he may NOT point to people with gray or balding hair and say, “Look! An old man!” (or when applicable “An old woman!”)

This is a huge source of embarrassment for me lately and I have to be vigilant about who he interacts with when we are out in public.

Unfortunately, I sometimes lose him in a crowd. As we left Costco five minutes ago, I saw him chatting with someone “not young;” and when I caught up with him, he delightedly pointed and said, “Look mom! An old man!” The best part? It was an old woman.

Awesome.

May 20

3:00 p.m.

First dripping ice cream cone seems like an official start of summer.

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May 22

10:20 a.m.

If you are sitting in bumper to bumper traffic and Oh What a Night comes on the radio, do you sing along at the top of your lungs without any regard for what the other drivers think? Keep in mind that you get extra points for posting about it on FB…

11:05 a.m.

So first it was Oh What a Night. Then it was Glamorous Life and THEN it was You Are the Sun, You Are the Rain. And THAT is why I listen to the radio.

2:50 p.m.

Just drove down M street in G-town traffic ON PURPOSE so I could see what’s changed and what’s stayed the same (a lot and not much) and miss living in DC (’cause I’m a masochist like that).

5:40 p.m.

Go get your underwear, and then we’re going home.” I just said that to one of my children. At the playground.

6:20 p.m.

I was so happy with my chin length haircut until it got humid. Now I just look like one of Marge Simpson’s sisters…

May 23

12:00 p.m.

So if you are me, and you’re in need of a totally humiliating experience, I highly recommend trying on skinny jeans. Trust me – it will NOT disappoint.

May 25

3:45 p.m.

Went shopping today and my kids BEGGED for Trix in the cereal aisle (because they’re “for kids” of course – the obsession with commercials continues…) Then at home, they BEGGED to try some since they’ve NEVER had it before. They HAD to see what that silly rabbit was going on about. Eleanor popped one in her mouth and then huffed, “they just taste like Fruit Loops.” Very disappointing moment. So young and so unimpressed. Sad to see my worldly daughter peak at the tender age of six.

May 26

7:45 p.m.

Anyone else get one of those sponsored posts about a pharmaceutical lawsuit including a drug called YAZ, and immediately think “looking from the window above, it’s like a story of love…” ?

 May 27

1:00 p.m.

70 degrees, overcast and a freezing-cold, just-opened-for-the-season pool. These two are in it to win it. George and I are conscientious objectors.

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2:50 p.m.

Me: Eleanor, you have the best eyelashes.

Eleanor: I do?

Me: Yes! They’re so long, and they actually curl.

Eleanor: Don’t all eyelashes curl?

Me: Mine don’t.

Eleanor: [looking at me] You’re right, they don’t…and they’re really short.

Me: Thanks.

Eleanor: Do you cut them?

There is such a thing as too much honesty…

eyelashes

May 29

9:30 a.m.

After catching an unwelcome glimpse upper arm skin “jiggle” a moment ago, it occurred to me that getting old is much like mountain climbing: as a general rule of thumb, it’s always best to not look down.

June 4

5:00 p.m.

I took Alice to the vet today and was informed that she is overweight. Then I ate an entire Toblerone in indignation on her behalf.

June 6

8:50 a.m.

This morning, George crawled into bed with me. We talked about this and that and suddenly, it was long past time to get up. I said to him, “okay buddy – we need to go get our day started.” So he hopped down, and in his odd little George patois, said, “that’s what what I gon’ do.” Then he purposefully walked out the door muttering, “gon’ go get my day started.” I wish I could start every day like that.

June 9

3:20 p.m.

So Justin Timberlake just came on the radio, and George says, “this is Alvin and the Chipmunks!” Did the Chipmunks do a JT cover? So out of touch with the rock scene…

June 12

9:30 a.m.

Guess we won’t be hauling that broken grill to the dump this summer…

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June 13

2:05 p.m.

Exactly when did I become the “go to” person for things people can’t find around here? They don’t even LOOK – they just ask, “where is my…?

I swear if the dog could talk, she’d be all, “where is my bone? No, the RAWHIDE bone. No, not THAT rawhide bone – the one that’s half chewed. No, the one that’s HALF chewed – not the one that’s 3/4 chewed. I DID check my room [lie] – it isn’t there...”

Then I have to acknowledge that I did bring this upon myself by always knowing where everything is. Even the bones.

June 14

9:40 a.m.

Just found out that my 2012 Listen to Your Mother DC reading, “Stupid” was featured on Upworthy.com yesterday! This kind of thing NEVER happens to me – so I’m just a teeny tiny (!!) bit excited about that.


June 15

10:10 a.m.

So I no longer have to worry about losing Oliver at Target. Now when we get separated, he just has me paged.

4:30 p.m.

Post “pool” party

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June 16

10:25 a.m.

Father’s Day at our house means that Dad gets to sleep as long as he likes, get served breakfast in bed with presents, and then spend the day relaxing – which generally involves a nap or two. So basically, it’s like any other Sunday with breakfast in bed and presents.

2:55 p.m.

Just heard Chris say something to Eleanor in Spanish and then explain what it means. Which is weird since he likes to speak to me in Spanish when he doesn’t want the kids to know what he’s saying – like it’s our secret code language. Which is also weird since I don’t speak Spanish…

8:00 p.m.

Patchwork pants and a Sonny Bono mustache…the quintessential ’70s man. Thinking about that Dad of mine on Father’s Day. And now thinking about that dress my Mom is wearing and questioning WHY she did not save it for me!

Kate mom and dad 2

June 17

9:00 a.m.

Me: Eleanor, do you want a doughnut?

E: No thanks.

Me: Really?

E: Yeah…I’m just not wild about doughnuts lately.

To be filed under “When 6 year old girls sound like their 41 year old mothers.”

June 18

8:30 p.m.

Today, Oliver and George commemorated the last day of school by giving each other Sharpie mustaches five minutes before we left to meet the bus. Luckily I saw this early enough to erase most of the damage with turpentine. KIDDING about the turpentine (we didn’t have any).

June 20

4:50 p.m.

What is more fun than cleaning? (I know AS IF!) Trying to clean while your dog viciously attacks the vacuum cleaner. YAY PETS!

June 21

8:20 a.m.

At the dermatologist for a weird rash on my ankle. But I really just want to talk about wrinkles.

June 22

4:40 p.m.

I’m almost 7.” Why the rush? You certainly won’t hear, “I’m almost 42,” from me next spring…

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June 23

2:50 p.m.

Switched Oliver from adapted soccer (which he loved) 20 minutes away to adapted basketball FIVE minutes away. How does he feel about this change? “Um, Mom…I think you’re fired.”

June 25

11:00 a.m.

You know when you take your family to one of those kids’ movie showings, and there is that one little boy who is SO LOUD and won’t stop talking and yelling out the “funny” lines he really likes, and you really don’t know if you can make it to the end of the movie without screaming SHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUP! …?

That would be George.

And we only just finished watching the previews.

June 26

8:30 p.m.

Chris: You always hide things!

Me: You mean put things away?

This explains so much about us…

June 27

4:10 p.m.

The vet put Alice on a pretty strict diet, and the weight has been melting off. Everyone keeps telling me how slim she looks. So I can now cross “feeling envious of my dog” off the bucket list…

June 28

8:00 a.m.

Alert to my neighbors: It is 8:00 a.m. and George is dressed and ready to start knocking on doors. Told him no way due to the early hour and the fact that WE DON’T knock on doors looking for play dates. So he’s just going outside to “check the weather.” Yeah right…

UPDATE: G just came in and I asked if anyone was outside. He said, “just a daddy was outside and he was NOT late for work.” Better sprint to the car this morning – or you may get caught in George’s web of questions and important information to impart.

4:20 p.m.

Of all of my friends, only Diane would (possibly) break her foot “doing a fan kick” while choreographing a routine for a pole dancing competition.

June 29

10:20 a.m.

Just made a New Year’s resolution (what? You don’t make these in June?) to go back to putting birthdays on my calendar. I can no longer rely on Facebook to remind me about birthdays, 1. because I don’t always remember to check for birthdays, and 2. because approximately 2% of my family members are on Facebook. Now I just need to develop a system for remembering if I remembered to wish people a happy birthday when I saw it on the calendar. Birthdays are complicated. Think Jehovah’s Witnesses may have the right idea about this one…

11:40 a.m.

For me, THIS is summer. Which may greatly contribute to the 10 lbs I usually gain by fall…

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June 30

10:00 a.m.

Swim instructor told me that when she said, “Hi Handsome!” to Oliver, he countered, “I’m not Handsome, I’m Crazy Pants.” I’d say more like “Crazy Handsome,” but Crazy Pants suits him well enough.

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Brace Face

Remember how fun it was to be a pre-teen with braces? Yeah – I have no recollection of that either. Though I do remember being a pre-teen, that the awkward period of time that we now call “tween.” And BOY was I awkward. Shy, generally unsure of myself and several inches taller than the other girls in my class (and some of the boys) – adding braces to the equation just gave me one more tiny cross to bear: I never liked smiling.

And that’s just sad. Buddy the Elf wouldn’t understand (“I love smiling, it’s my favorite!”) Sorry – with Christmas fast-approaching, the Elf quotes are flying fast and furious around here. But back to braces – I did have them. And I was not best pleased about it.

We saw the writing on the wall when my grownup teeth started coming in, big gappy spaces and some “twisting.” So it was no surprise when I was sent to the orthodontist.

Here is a fairly decent representation:

Why the duck? I have no idea. We must have been at a lake. But within a couple of years when my teeth had fully grown in, those smiles would become few and far between.

I remember sitting in that chair for an hour as they cemented each tiny piece of metal to my teeth. And then the tightening of the wire (ouch!) Not to mention the fact that this was the ’80s and no one in the dental profession wore face masks, so I got to breathe in the aroma of everyone’s afternoon coffee.

I think this picture best expresses my feeling on the matter:

There are braces behind those unsmiling lips. And no, I have NO pictures where you can see my braces. I either refused to show teeth or I disposed of the incriminating photos when I was teenager. Vain much? Oh – and please don’t judge the caked on makeup. My mother let me experiment to my heart’s content and was rewarded with a teenager who wore little more than dab of lip gloss.

Those terrible brace face years were all worth it in the end. By the time I was in high school, the braces were gone and I could smile to my heart’s content:

Just look at those beautiful pearly whites! But avert your eyes from the bushy brows (what? I did say it was the ’80s).

Pre-teen Kate definitely would have preferred to use Invisalign and been part of the “2 Million Smilestone” (as mentioned above, they’ve straightened two million smiles and counting). Not having a mouth full of silver would have been a good reason to smile. I’ve known about this “new alternative to braces” for a while now – and if I ever need to fix dental issues again, I’m going wireless!

(If you’re curious, check out the Invisalign Cost Calculator: http://clvr.li/QUpqO3)

For more information, please visit Invisalign. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

The Listen to Your Mother DC Videos are now online!

Did you hear the news? The Listen to Your Mother DC show is now online!

It’s been a long week of back to school transitions (my kids) and recovery from a nasty virus (me) and some other stuff I’ll write about later.

For now, I’d love for you to check out the fantastic readings from our show. Each one holds a warm and fuzzy corner in my heart. They’ll make you laugh, cry and think – and possibly even consider auditioning for a show (or – gasp – hosting one in your own city)!

Presenting, Listen to Your Mother DC 2012!

Cindy Green – The Mother Warrior

Kate Coveny Hood – Stupid

Sue Wagner – Baby Girl

Monica Sakala – Occupy Parents: Oppression by Toddler

Chrissy Boylan – The Apple of My Eye

Elena Sonnino – I Am Grateful…That Had Cancer

Sarah Braesch – White Belt

Anna Whiston-Donaldson – Why B Normal?

Nicole Crowley – Any Given Sunday

Lindsay Felix – The Door to Insanity

Devra Gordon Renner – We Caved and Went to Hooters for Our Son’s Birthday

Jean Winegardner – Not Even Wrong

Lis Fogt – Rescue

Stephanie Stearns Dulli – She Always Comes Back

We would love to do it again in 2013…so fingers crossed!

(Videos were also launched for Austin, Northwest Arkansas, New York City and Spokane today. Chicago, Madison, Northwest Indiana, Philadelphia and San Francisco shows will launch on Monday!)

So I have this idea…

…and it’s totally ridiculous. Okay – maybe just 60% ridiculous. For me. For someone else it would only be 30% ridiculous. BUT for others it could be like 99% ridiculous (I can’t damn someone to 100% ridiculous – I mean I’m not DEAD inside). So I’m not too far gone for this semi-ridiculous idea.

I want to reinvent myself.

Of course, I’ve been talking about this long enough that it’s not exactly news. Or maybe I’ve just been talking to the voices in my head (who incidentally, are super negative sometimes and totally gave me a 90% ridiculous…they better start paying rent soon, or I may have to evict them for good!)

Either way – I know I’ve at least mentioned that I feel like I took several wrong turns when it comes to career and finding my true calling. And that’s okay. I can’t have any serious regrets since I am a VERY lucky girl right now. I have a wonderful family (including a new dog who is only 30% annoying and 25% gross – but she IS a dog for goodness sake) and exceptional friends. And I live in a nice house in a nice neighborhood and have found fantastic services and teachers for my special needs son (who is 100% miraculous). So if I’m a little late to the party career-wise, I think I’ll survive.

But the fact remains that I’m no longer young and cute. No one is going to discover me. Any redefining that happens in my life will require hard work. 100% of which will be for me alone. Bottom line, I’m not exactly ingenue material here.

Seriously. I’m 40.

Newly-so in fact. My birthday was April 27th.

Don’t bother scrolling down. There was no “it’s my birthday!” post. I was one week out from Listen to Your Mother DC and so busy updating that website every day, that I never made it over here to put on my birthday girl hat. The confetti packages remain unopened. The party horns silent. I had a lovely day with friends and family, but I didn’t get around to even a quick mention HERE on my personal website (which may actually be blog sacrilege or something…)

So yeah. I’m 40.

Now, I’m not going to make a big deal about how old 40 is. I know it’s not. But it’s different.

Definitely different from turning 30. At 30, I was working and didn’t have kids yet. My life was still all about me. And let’s face it – as much as the twenty-somethings cower in the face of their own fast-approaching decade change, 30 isn’t quite the same as FORTY.

Like I said, the birthday itself was great – as all birthdays should be. Your own little VIP holiday. Pick up some wine at the grocery store and you’re an instant celebrity! “May I see your ID? Well – hey now – HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” Loved ones check in to wish you well. Your FaceBook wall posts runneth over. You may even get a present or two. I don’t care about getting older on my birthday. Birthdays are fab.

But then it’s the day after your birthday…

You know that old joke that newly married women make: “Yesterday I was a bride! Now I’m just a wife…” Oh – that shift from YOURBIGSPECIALDAY to every day life. A month ago, it was my fortieth birthday! Now I’m just 40.

And it’s fine. No different from any other age really. Except for the cougar jokes, maybe… They make my head explode. I mean, a “cougar” is an older woman actively seeking the attentions of much younger men. NOT a woman who is 40+ years old. Think about it. Is your mom a cougar? I didn’t think so (and if she is…I’m sorry OR Good for her! or whatever the appropriate response would be).

But cougars aside, my only true aversion to this birthday is that I’m officially in the age group that I always assumed had its shit together. When I think of 40 year old women, I picture established careers whether they are outside of the home or family focused. Forty year old women are supposed to be honing skills and expanding knowledge that they already have.

I’m just starting to wonder what I’m going to  be when I grow up.

I have some ideas of what I’d like to be. But how do you start at 40?

I guess I’ll figure it out. I’m feeling pretty confident at the moment. The odds aren’t THAT bad (and will definitely improve when all three of my children are in full time elementary school this fall).

But it will be hard. And I have always preferred easy… Oh well.

I’m not really going anywhere with this. Just felt like putting it out there in black and white. Almost like a dare to myself. Okay old lady. Time to get serious. DO something already – or do MORE. 

I really think I can. Reinvent myself, I mean.

And after this self pep talk, I’m feeling like it’s a little less ridiculous. Maybe just 40%.

Horse Hell

You know those girls who are obsessed with horses when they’re young? They pretend jump ropes are reigns and run around the playground neighing and whinnying with their other horse-crazed friends? They inhale books on horses and collect plastic replicas to display on shelves?

I was NEVER one of those girls. I never took a riding lesson. I thought barns were stinky. When I looked at a particularly majestic specimen of equine beauty, I mainly focused on the huge teeth that could take off a finger or two. And possibly the flies buzzing around its rear end.

National Velvet? Never saw it. Black Beauty? Never read it.

I just never understood the the girls and horses thing.

This doesn’t mean that I dislike horses, of course. I just don’t really think about them.

I grew up in the city. I’m not much of an animal person. And this is totally fine with me.

But now – NOW – I have a daughter. And she IS one of those girls who is obsessed with horses.

Woe to the librarian who asks if she can help us… How could she know that a whip cracking pre-reader will have her searching the stacks for the infuriatingly few picture books featuring a horse on the cover. At least she doesn’t have to come home with us and sit with Eleanor as she goes through her check out pile, discussing each page in minute detail.

I’m just about as interested in this now as I was in third grade when my horse crazy best friend would make me learn terminology for horse anatomy and paraphernalia, and THEN quiz me on it. Hey – don’t judge. I was the new girl and thrilled that someone was actually talking to me. Whinnying across the playground with a jump rope around my waist was a small price to pay.

Back to Eleanor though… As much as I don’t share her fervor for equestrian life, I do feel a little sad for her. Because we live in horse farm HEAVEN and it would be easy to find a place for her to take riding lessons. She would LOVE it. And it’s never going to happen.

Yes – I’m aware that it’s not just a fun activity – it’s also wonderful exercise. In fact, it would be fabulous for all of my children. Especially Oliver. I know this because my old friend who force marched me through Horses 101 lessons in third grade is now a pediatric physical therapist in Hippotherapy (a practice of integrated intervention for various disabilities, utilizing “equine movement” in physical, occupational, and speech-language therapies). There are so many reasons for us to get our kids in to riding: easy accessibility, health benefits, fairy godmother-like wish granting for our daughter…

But it’s too expensive. Maybe if we only had one child. We have three, though. And we already spend more money than we have on therapies for Oliver.

I’m not poor mouthing or saying anyone should feel sorry for me. Nothing more than stating facts. Riding lessons just aren’t in the budget.

Luckily – Eleanor is still young enough to think that a pony ride is actual horseback riding. So I don’t think she’ll lament her lot in life with the non-equestrian family too much… And she IS only five. Next year, she could be into theater. Or soccer. Or Wicca. Whatever – as long as we can afford the associated fees, we’ll do the best we can for her.

Unless it’s Wicca. Didn’t I mention that I’m a city girl? I’m not driving her out to the woods to collect lichen and mouse skulls.

It’s one of the less fun aspects of responsible parenting…knowing when you have to draw the line.

Autism Camp for Eric

I never do this kind of thing here, but a friend asked to pass along the information for his brother in law. And at the end of the day, I only wish I was the kind of person who would do this. Make this kind of difference in a life. It’s heart warming and humbling and I feel like a cut and paste post is the least I can do to help him be that kind of person. We need more people like him in the world.

If you have time, please read the following. Thanks!

I have, since August of 2010, been working with a 16 year old named Eric.  Eric has a higher functioning autism, Tourette syndrome, depression, very low self-esteem, and an array of other mental problems as well.

I have been working with Eric very diligently and have tried very hard over the past few weeks to send him to camp.  The camp that I am trying to send him to is Camp Easter Seals.  The date of the camp is June 26th to July 1st.  For those of you who don’t know, Camp Easter Seals is a camp for children with special needs.

The camp helps them with their social skills and focuses on their needs through different strategies.  There is hiking, canoeing, fishing, swimming, basketball, arts and crafts, and a few other activities that the children will be participating in.  The reason that I am sending out this email is because the camp fee for one person is $750.  There is also a $50 application fee to see if the child qualifies for the camp.  I am going to be accompanying Eric to camp and will be acting as a volunteer while I am there.  The trip down there are back is going to take about 8 hours of driving.  All in all, there is a total of at least $850 that is needed for this camp.

I have been working very hard to raise the money that I need for Eric to go to camp and to cover the other expenses as well.  While I am merely hoping to reach the $750 mark, the other expenses would be amazing to reach as well.  I have received many gracious payments via PayPal and one generous donation of $200. This donation has been taken back unfortunately due to some family complications on the donator’s side.

With this setback, I am very short of goal of the $750 and very short of the $850 mark.  If you or another friend or family member would like to donate, I would greatly appreciate it.  If you are unable to donate, I would really appreciate if you could pass this email along or just spread via word of mouth.  I am very hopeful in reaching the goal and would love to send Eric to camp.

For those of you who are familiar with PayPal, my address is alex.spangler@gmail.com and I know that Eric and his family would be extremely grateful for any donation.  I can also take a check written in my name. Once all of the money is reached, I am going to cash all of the checks and then send the money to Camp Easter Seals directly.  If for some lucky miracle I am above the donation mark of $850, I am going to send any extra money to the camp as a donation to them.  If there are any questions regarding the camp or donations, please feel free to email me or call me at 540-840-8878.  I would be more than happy to answer any questions that I am able to.  The website for the camp, in case you are interested, is www.campeastersealsucp.com.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this email and I hope that we are able to reach the donation goal.  Again, if you cannot donate, please forward this email to anyone that you feel may be willing to donate.

The absolute latest date the money is allowed to be sent to the camp is Friday, June 17th.  If the money is not there by that day, Eric will be ineligible for camp.  Thank you very much.

I hope to hear from some of you soon!  Thank you again.

– Alex Spangler

An Inside Job

Sometimes I think of my current life as being “on the inside.”

I am so completely immersed in my own family culture that I often have a hard time relating to the world at large. Sure – I can navigate a shopping mall or the grocery store as a seemingly “normal” person, but it’s a very Through the Looking Glass experience.

My true reality resides within the walls of my home, with its own set of rules…politics…priorities… All of which are dictated by the four and six year old inmates. I bark orders and shuttle people around town like I’m running the operation – but at the end of the day, I feel a bit like Patty Hearst with a loaded gun.

As I type this, I wonder if they’re asleep yet. Because I can make them stay in their room and keep quiet, but I can’t make them fall asleep. For some reason, this maddens me. I dragged those people up and down the streets of Key West and monitored their splashing in the pool for hours, and STILL at 10:30 p.m. they have the last word. Which is apparently three words: “we’re not tired.”

This is vaguely reminiscent of the first few months after my oldest was born. When people said, “get your sleep now – because you won’t get any after the baby comes,” I wasn’t too worried. Always an early riser, I never seemed to require the eight hours that everyone goes on about. I burned the midnight oil for years at work and earlier in school. What difference would a few nighttime feedings make?

Then I was introduced to Oliver, the baby who woke up every two hours for MONTHS. I have never felt so frazzled – so out of control. It’s such basic thing to control in life – your sleep. Even if you don’t need that much sleep, you still need it. And to have someone else demand that you wake up every two hours will eventually destroy any sense of time that you once had. It wears you down. Makes you feel like you’re losing your mind.

And then you just get used to it.

So it’s all very full circle. First, you decide when you wake up. And then you have kids and they decide when you wake up. Not because they want to ruin your sleep patterns, give you wrinkles and make you think you are going crazy – but because they are controlling their own sleep. It’s nothing personal against the parents – children can’t help it if we are required to feed them as newborns and monitor them as toddlers. Our sleep patterns are just innocent bystanders who were stupid enough to wander into the line of fire.

It’s the first step in a non-hostile takeover. Sleep becomes a privilege as opposed to a right. And you don’t even notice the shift take place. You simply assimilate.

Having a special needs child escalates this process since you already have to adapt to their personal quirks and deviations from the norm. How often have I felt the judging eyes on me as I carry my huge six year old out of a public place, attempting to sooth his agitation with murmured shushing, typically reserved for much smaller children… Like most other mothers I mentally give them all the finger and blink away traitorous tears. In convincing myself that the rest of the world can go to hell, I further descend into our own brand of normal.

And I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. But it’s somewhat isolating.

Sometimes you find other people with similar families though. You may look across a restaurant and lock sympathetic eyes with another mother who can’t seem to keep her children in their seats. Or you could meet them through school functions. Either way, these friends are absolute gold.

They don’t judge, but provide a line to the outside world. They entertain their own element of crazy – but the small differences remind you that you didn’t always threaten to throw out the Wii to get people’s attention.

Suddenly, you are reminded that the pretend world you walk through each day is in fact, real enough to the other pedestrians you pass. And that you may be able to rejoin that existence on some level. But it’s hard. You’ve been programmed – indoctrinated. You have way too many coping mechanisms in play.

But I do believe it’s possible. And it it’s probably inevitable over time. Children get older. They change – require you less – leave you to your own devices. Security becomes a bit lax and there are many more opportunities for escape. No one else will ever be able to break you out. But with planning, timing a even a little luck, you can orchestrate your own early release.

Exactly how do you do this? I’m sorry – do I sound like I have any idea? At the moment, I am living at ground zero of Crazy Town. It’s going to take a while for me to find a path out.

Besides – every family is different. So even if I did have a plan, it wouldn’t be of any use to others. We all have to find our own way.

When I first sat down to write this, I was feeling rather defeated. Taking children on vacation throws a bright spotlight on bad behavior, ineffectual parenting and general dissembling. Taking children on vacation by yourself is pure madness. And the hubris of it all just begs for a spiraling descent into self doubt. Who did I think I was, anyway? It’s one thing to take care of three children by yourself in the comfort of your own home – but when you’re on vacation, everyone is supposed to have FUN.

As far as my own little band of freaks is concerned, the current ratio of parent to child is achieving only a basic level of survival. Fun has been sporadic – and taken in turns. BUT there has been some fun. And that’s something.

Writing about life on the inside has helped. It’s made it all seem so commonplace – so obvious. And temporary.

Apparently, the children haven’t done ALL of the whining this vacation… I needed to peek out the window and see the rest of the world for what it really is. A mass of crazy families. Uncounted people who feel like they’re just surviving the day. Feeling defeated. But also having some fun.

I don’t put pressure on myself to make everyone have fun when we’re just moseying through our daily life. Why bother doing that on vacation?

As my children get older, I will slowly break out of our survival compound. There will be more breaks – more contact with the outside world – more fun. But in the meantime, I have to break out of my funk and just appreciate the smiles, the laughter and the ten minutes here and there that I can read a book while the kids play in the pool. I have to lighten up. And remember that there is more to life than arguing with picky eaters.

So I’ll start with sleep. Now that everyone is FINALLY (I checked) out. I think I’ll join them. And the only thing on my agenda for tomorrow is to step outside, feel the warm sun on my back and maybe even have a little fun.

For Japan With Love

You may have already seen this on The Big Piece of Cake…if so – no need to read any further, I’ve copied and pasted the whole thing. Seems a little silly to make it look like two completely different posts right? Or maybe I’m just lazy…you be the judge.

I really did mean to post more this week…but I’ve been a bit scattered. I’m blaming it on the drugs. Or the kids. Or both. Either way – people who have abdominal surgery have a full week to milk it for all it’s worth, right?

At any rate, I won’t be posting anything new this week…


Tomorrow I’m participating in a bloggers day of silence in support of the fundraising efforts of For Japan With Love which will be donating what’s raised to Shelterbox. Shelterboxes are given to disaster victims and contain many of the tools that they need to survive. Have you donated to the relief effort? Even if it’s just a small gesture, very dollar helps.

So, I’ll see you next week with no excuses (or really awesome drugs – sob) to fall back on.

Editor’s note: I changed one word. Just in case you noticed and thought, “wait a minute, I thought she copied/pasted. Now I’m all confused…” I don’t want you to lose any sleep over this. That’s just not my style.