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.

They Coulda’ Been Great – December 2013

Our December sound bites, etc. via Facebook… (What is this? All answers are HERE.)


December 2

8:59 a.m.

Santa doesn’t like it when kids are late for school!

Seriously – I just went there.

3:40 p.m.

Oliver: Mom, can I have some ice cream?

Me: Oliver! You JUST had popcorn, and in a couple of hours it will be…

Oliver: CHRISTMAS?!

Me: NO – dinner!

And then suddenly, it was all so clear. Oliver IS Buddy the Elf.


December 3

7:12 p.m.

George: Mom? What does L-I-K-E spell?

Me: George – I think we need to do some more reading practice together. Let’s spend some extra time on that tomorrow, okay?

George: Okay! OR something else.

Not really getting my point…but I’m just happy that he’s still young enough to like the idea of spending time with me.


December 4

8:18 a.m.

It just occurred to me that while George is constantly losing his lunch bag and water bottle, those Pokemon cards make it home EVERYDAMNDAY. Think we need to discuss his priorities…


December 5

8:19 a.m.

Chris has gotten Easter and the Elf on the Shelf confused. It was his turn to move Charlie last night, and when Eleanor asked me to help her find him I COULDN’T. Finally, George found him wedged between the piano and the wall, behind a picture frame. Not at 6 a.m. Chris…let’s stick to the top of cabinets and chandeliers, okay?

4:38 p.m.

George: Mom! I got a dreidel at school today! And it’s yellow!

Me: Cool! [starts singing an inaccurate version of the dreidel song with great enthusiasm]

George: But DON’T LOOK! Because it’s your Christmas present.

Me: Oh – okay.

Then our five-year-old neighbor came over with the red dreidel he got at school and all of the kids played a rousing dreidel game that requires screaming, “ONE. TWO. THREE. LET ‘ER RIP!!

Also? I had to google how to spell dreidel.

#goyim

5:57 p.m.

Career aspirations

career aspirations

6:44 p.m.

And NOW they are playing a game where one person throws the dreidel and the other tries to catch it in a half empty Kleenex box. Is this creative or blasphemous? Jewish friends – please let me know if I need to shut that down. Either way, I’m not allowed to watch since the dreidel is my Christmas present and they don’t want to “spoil the surprise.”


December 7

6:51 p.m.

If I had to guess, I’d say George “fake falls” approximately 125 times a day. #boys


December 8

5:57 p.m.

“I give up” moment of the past week… Hearing suspicious shrieks of laughter over something that George was apparently doing in the basement, I decided to go inquire.

Me: George! What are you doing down there?

George: I’m just pretending that I have a giant penis.

Of course.

#boys


December 10

9:36 a.m.

Another snow day…

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4:47 p.m.

Oliver has officially earned his “helpful male” merit badge. I asked him if he could grab a pair of pants for Eleanor before coming downstairs. Two seconds later, he handed me her ballet leotard from two years ago.

Apparently, he’s learned “if you don’t do it right the first time, they probably won’t ask you to do it again.” And he’s ONLY EIGHT! #soproud


December 11

7:59 p.m.

Eleanor is going to be selling Girl Scout cookies and asked George to help her practice…

Eleanor: [pretends to knock on door]

George: Hello?

Eleanor: Hello. My name is Eleanor. I am in Troop 237 and I am selling Girl Scout cookies. Would you like to buy some?

George: YES!

He’s really making her work for this… Epilogue: He purchased 100 boxes.


December 15

1:00 p.m.

You either get over it and go to Dairy Queen, or you can stay home and cry. You can’t do both.”

This applies to about 99% of my parenting strategies. Including the Dairy Queen part.

4:18 p.m.

When you stare daggers at your dog, and Desperate Housewives gasp, “you….BITCH.” I don’t even want to talk about what she did in my basement while we were out…


December 16

1:23 p.m.

Surprise gift from my fab jewelry designer friend, Kiran Kairab Ferrandino. Love Simply Om.

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4:33 p.m.

My fitness plan in haiku form:

Put on workout clothes
They weren’t very flattering
Made nachos instead

9:47 p.m.

Stealth decorating “my tree” while the kids sleep and just came up with a great excuse for not letting them help: OUR ELF did it! They can’t take issue with the guy who reports to Santa…[villainous cackle of victory] Totally worth the coal in my stocking.

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December 17

3:56 p.m.

I know there are far worse problems to have and I’ll figure it out… But I was just finishing up my tree when it came crashing down, smashing several ornaments (including a few that have been in my family since the 1940s). If I were a more emotive person, I’d scream. #notfestive

10:55 p.m.

Listening to holiday music as I redo the WHOLE EFFING TREE…

Me: Wouldn’t it be fun to be able to sing like Ella Fitzgerald?

Chris: Uh…yeah?

SOULMATES!


December 19

5:40 p.m.

Three weeks after seeing Frozen, Oliver is STILL talking about the part where the king and queen leave for a trip (and then never come back)…”Mom, you’ll stay with me? You won’t leave?

I doubt that boy will ever let me set foot on a boat. And to think my main worry about this movie was that he’d get bored with all the singing!

7:18 p.m.

George has a great deal of diversity in his class this year. So many holidays to celebrate… “Christmas…Kwanzaa…Diwali…Harmonica…”

9:32 p.m.

I’m writing a “12 Days of Binging” song and Chris isn’t supporting my use of “peppermint bark.” Some conservative nonsense about matching syllables…

NOT SOULMATES


December 21

10:07 a.m.

At what point do kids put 2 and 2 together, noticing that most of the stuff Santa brings is available at Target?


December 22

7:29 a.m.

Hark! Let’s do this thing.

angel

9:25 a.m.

Seriously. We are ready! And by “we” I mean three candy cane junkies who wake me up at the crack of dawn to search for an elf.

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December 23

8:04 a.m.

First round of presents! If you haven’t noticed…I’m not that into my tree…

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8:55 a.m.

Oliver likes to sneak up and give me surprise bear hugs. This would be cute if he wasn’t outlandishly strong. I’m not kidding – he could give a full grown man the Heimlich maneuver – no problem. Of course, he FEELS like a “little guy” and has no idea what damage he can do. I’m calling this new era, “the Lenny years.” Also? I think we need a safe word.

10:48 a.m.

I just had an entire conversation with a celebrity who was seated next to me on a plane. In my head. While I folded laundry. That’s a thing, right?

11:07 a.m.

Me to my 3 children and the 5 year old neighbor I’m watching: Who wants to get lunch at Chik-Fil-A? Actually…we might have to hit Target first…

5 year old: Yeah – I was going to try to get to Target later today.

11:16 a.m.

Okay – It was Matthew Perry. I had some questions about how his drug addiction affected his relationships with women (which never seemed very successful…) But really, I spent most of the flight talking about myself. What? You think I ever get seated next to major movie stars in my imagination? Girl, please. Though I’m pretty sure I did have the opportunity to personally declare myself Team Jennifer at some point…


December 24

8:03 a.m.

Blue isn’t exactly the most “Christmasy” of colors, but I love my wreaths this year.

wreaths

8:08 a.m.

Just waiting for Santa to add his… Would it be weird to have a year-round tree? I could decorate it with hearts on Valentines day…flags on Memorial day…

waiting for santa

10:30 a.m.

Officially changing, “that’s not an appropriate word,” to “that’s not an appropriate word for kids.” This is for the sake of my husband, as I may have to kill him if I hear, “but DAD says it,” one more time…

8:58 p.m.

Ah December 24th…the one night a year that children who celebrate Christmas WANT to fall asleep.


December 25

1:11 p.m.

No holiday card this year (didn’t pull it together LAST YEAR either!) Pretend you just received this “good enough” picture of all three kids NOT looking deranged in the mail with a big “HAPPY HOLIDAYS from the Hoods!” Chris would also like to add a note to all of our neighbors: “keep your blinds shut – George now has a telescope.”

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December 28

11:32 a.m.

Look what just came in the mail! This is MY Brave.

brave


December 29

5:08 p.m.

Apparently, there is much dissatisfaction in my house over the cheap toilet paper I bought. If I remember my scene props correctly, didn’t the Little House on the Prairie crowd use actual PAPER? And I’m fairly certain early man made do with leaves… When did we get so soft?! (Unlike the the toilet paper I bought.)

6:49 p.m.

I don’t want lighter fluid on mahogany!” I just said that to my husband about the can of lighter fluid he set on an end table.

And earlier, I told my kids, “no one is allowed to say ‘penis’ when we’re in Target.”

I should have one of those “Family Rules” samplers made for our wall. Send me your favorite needlepoint artists on Etsy!


December 30

10:24 a.m.

Nothing has changed. He’s still David Larabee and you’re still the chauffeur’s daughter. And you’re still reaching for the moon.

No father. The moon is reaching for me.

Sabrina, 1954

This is the opening quote in my Dad’s book. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present Terry Coveny, the ONLY straight man in America who quotes from SABRINA!

10:35 a.m.

The light bulb in our microwave is out and I’m at a total loss. I have to keep opening the door to see if the cheese on my nachos is melting. How did Fred Flinstone live like this?!

5;47 p.m.

George is fascinated by Eleanor’s girl scout cookie sales. Especially how, “everyone wants THINAMINS.”


December 31

6:01 p.m.

Do you have a girl scout in your house? Are you hosting a New Year’s Eve party? WELL. This would be an excellent time to put that cookie order sheet on the counter… Drunk people are always happy to put their names on lists and buy stuff. As a general rule, drunk people are “joiners.” Unfortunately for Eleanor, we are not having a party. She’ll just have to count on tomorrow’s hangovers to boost her sales.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Boughs of Folly

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The holidays are all about extremes. Peace on earth! Goodwill to men! Black Friday mobs! Road Rage over hour-long back ups!

But that’s life, right? Every high is balanced by a low. And over the holidays, I combine the two like that last cocktail you didn’t really need…shaken or stirred…mixed or mingled…blended or beaten within an inch of its life… While I love this season-long celebration, I’ve never been very good at knowing when to leave the party.

When we were first together, Chris and I would host an annual holiday party AND attend many others as guests – often several in one night! Now, we are lucky if we can take turns dropping by a “grownup” party held within our own neighborhood. Holiday parties are fun and festive (HIGH!)…but beware the corresponding low… At one such event last year, holiday cheer (and far too many Moscow Mules) moved me to sing along with my favorite tunes on the host’s playlist. Really – you haven’t lived until you’ve heard me sing Little Feat at the top of my lungs. If you’ll be my Dixie Chicken, I will BE your Tennessee Lamb.

You know you have arrived as an adult when your day-after memories of a super fun-night out are less “SUPER FUN!” and more “I did WHAT?

Then, of course there are the annual photos in front of the Christmas tree. Each year I line up my children, marvel at how beautiful they are – how much they’ve grown – and then start barking at them like a Hollywood director about to lose the evening light. “Look happy!” “Move closer!” “Stop making that face!” “You’re DOING it wrong!” …All things that have come out of my mouth while arranging a joyous holiday tableau.

Both of this year’s attempts – first in front of the kids’ tree the day after Thanksgiving, and then in front of my tree on Christmas eve – ended in either tears or injury. Actually, the latter ended in both.

There was a lot of this going on…

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…and everyone was having a great time…

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…then I finally got this shot…

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…which was okay… But I thought I could do better. Sadly, three seconds later, Oliver decided to squeeze the twins to his chest and accidentally gave them an impressive head knock. Poor kid – he really doesn’t understand how strong he is and was more surprised and upset than they were. Though it was hard to tell with all of the wailing and “Oliver did that ON PURPOSE!” accusations. It’s clear that we have officially entered “The Lenny Years” and will have to keep a more serious eye on the roughhousing.

But don’t worry! Everyone was fine ten minutes later when I announced that they could all open a present. And I was only mildly thrown by the unexpected drama since I’m currently walking through life in a constant state of damage control.

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A more recent addition to our holiday traditions is Charlie, our Elf on the Shelf. The kids love that elf and charge out of bed the second they wake up to see WHERE he will be today!

As someone who regularly forgets to follow up on Tooth Fairy duties, I’m a bit less enthused about the elf. Sure, it’s very convenient to point out that “Charlie is watching,” when someone (George) is being particularly bad. But that in no way compensates for those mornings when I have to use my best roller derby moves to elbow past my kids on the stairs before they find the elf we forgot to move.

By December 15th we’re usually scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to identifying new perching spots. One night Chris actually suggested doing something creative with props and I thought my head would explode, “What are you thinking!? Then they’ll start expecting ANOTHER one of those scenes the next day…and the next. Don’t raise the bar! NEVER raise the bar!” It’s like a universal truth of parenthood – always consider how your actions will impact the future. Charlie sticks to high cabinets and chandeliers – end of story.

I breathed a sigh of relief on Christmas eve when it was time for our elf to fly back to the North Pole. Though Alice seemed a little reluctant to let him go.

Charlie and Alice

Sorry Charlie!

But anyone who has been reading this blog long enough knows where things really get ugly. I’m a horrible person when it comes to “my tree.”

I have written at length about my Christmas trees and the difficulty I’ve had in relinquishing sole custody of the decorating process. First, I imagined an unpleasant future of haphazard ornament placement, heavy on the preschool projects. The following year, I compromised and gave the kids their own tree. Then the pressure was on, and I had to be very strategic about keeping “my tree” to myself.

Last year, I had a love/hate relationship with our tree. As soon as it was set up, we could see that it was undeniably crooked. This is a risk that accompanies Chris’ tradition of taking one of our children to pick out a tree each year – I have NO control over the selection (just a long list of requirements and deal breakers).

And I had such high hopes for Eleanor! My color-within-the-lines girl was the perfect candidate to find a “perfect” tree. At first glance, it seemed she did. But no matter how many times we tried to fix the obvious leaning, there was always something off.

Eventually, I just put on the lights since that takes at least an hour (well, for ME it does). Then after getting the kids to bed, I decided there must be a way to make it appear straighter. Obviously, I assumed Chris would be 100% on board with this additional adjusting – so imagine my surprise when he announced that it was “good enough” and turned in for the night. I would have agreed if good enough meant leaning at a 45 degree angle…but I felt his perception of Christmas tree adequacy was a few notches lower than mine.

He may have been willing to concede symmetrical defeat, but I stayed up to fight the good fight. And I only spent a few minutes feeling annoyed with him. The truth is, he was holding me back anyway.

That tree almost fell on me at least three times. And it’s a miracle that my children didn’t find me trapped underneath it the next morning. But I couldn’t let that happen. I mean, SOMEONE had to move the elf to a new location.

After I got the tree looking marginally better than it did when Chris gave up, I decided that I had reached my own “good enough.” The secret to my success involved stuffing the tree stand with some plastic cups and emptied prescription bottles (which make surprisingly good wedges!) Feel free to pin that tip.

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Before tidying up, I went into the kitchen to wash my hands (both of sap and the entire fiasco), and when I returned, I found that half the lights had blown out.

Then I dragged the damn thing outside and beat it to death with a snow shovel.

Of course I didn’t do that! For one thing, we don’t own a snow shovel. But more importantly, I had put way too much time into that tree to give up. Instead, I took a deep breath and set about checking each strand. Luckily, there were only two that had to be removed and I was able to replace them with a couple of spares. TOTALLY worth another 30 minutes of time that could be spent sleeping.

In the end, we had a lovely, only slightly crooked tree.

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This year, it was George who picked out the tree, and he surprised us all by selecting a SMALL one. Well – not exactly small, but much smaller than the six to eight foot trees his siblings were bringing home. Apparently, he told the tree guy that “size doesn’t matter as long as it’s fat.” Oh George…

So small and fat arrived, and most decidedly did not fit into our tree stand. The trunk was too short, so I sent Chris out to get a smaller stand.

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And starting right there, the smallest tree we’ve ever had became the BIGGEST pain in the ass.

It was next to impossible to get it to stay up straight in the new stand. And beyond that, it was never really secure regardless of how much we tightened the screws. This should have been the first sign of impending calamity. But Chris declared it good enough, and I could at least adjust it to look straight… So on went the lights!

This all happened after the kids were in bed and it was pretty late when I finished, but I decided to try to power through and do the ornaments too. That way the tree would be done before little, grasping hands had a chance to manhandle the boxes of holiday decor. I could even tell them that Charlie did it! How could they object to Santa’s snitch not letting them help? You better not pout indeed!

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It was a good idea, but a bit ambitious. I gave up around midnight and went to bed. So the following morning was flooded with enthusiastic offers of help and ornament retrieval assembly lines. I have never been so happy to see the school bus.

That Monday was “early dismissal day” so I only had a few hours alone. And right before my children were due home, I stepped back to bask in the glory of the sweetest little Christmas tree I had ever seen. George chose well – it was possibly my favorite tree yet. Absolutely perfect. Perfect and…moving? Just like that, everything switched to slow motion as I watched the stand sliiiiide forward and the angel drop back out of sight. CRASH! The entire thing hit the floor in a crunch of breakable ornaments (my favorite kind!)

If I were a more emotive person, I would have screamed. Instead, I stood frozen in horror. Wondering what I did wrong…was it possible that I overdid it on the ornaments?…or perhaps this was some kind of punishment for extreme Christmas tree hubris… Either way – I had children to collect from the bus and a play date to host. So I propped my now disheveled little tree up against the wall and resigned myself to figuring it out later.

Luckily, the damage was minimal and only a few of my heirloom ornaments were broken. And come on – even I knew there were FAR worse problems to have. I just practiced some deep breathing and tried to restrain my snarling when children came too close to my wounded baby.

Much later, when the kids were in bed, I came downstairs with the intention of getting Chris to help me figure out what happened and how we could fix it. But before I had a chance to ask, he informed me that, “the tree fell again.”

I must have blacked out at this point, as I have no memory of the next 20 minutes. BUT it all worked out in the end.

Just as I started collecting plastic cups and prescription pill bottles to wedge around the trunk, Chris decided that the top heavy tree really did need a sturdier stand. The solution was to saw off the lower branches (something I hadn’t even considered since the tree was already on the small side) and make it fit into our bigger stand.

Then there was sawing, lifting, near misses with pine needle blindings, multiple attempts at tree straightening and screw tightening…and  just a little bit of swearing.

Finally we stepped back to see a very straight, very secure, slightly smaller Christmas tree. We could also see that the branch removal effectively made what I decorated as “the front” of the tree a better candidate for “the back.” I employed more deep breathing and big picture priority checking to get myself to as serene a state of mind as I could manage…then I removed ALL of the ornaments and redid the WHOLE ‘EFFING TREE!

Done! Finished! No more lesson-learned moments thank-you-very-much! I had officially exceeded my limit for Christmas tree decorating mania.

Which of course, meant it was time for Christmas tree PHOTOGRAPHING mania!

PicMonkey Collage

I think I have more pictures of this tree than I do of my own children on Christmas… I’m not kidding. Wonder how many people unfriended/unfollowed me after the Christmas tree reign of terror I inflicted over social media…

Next year, we’re going as a family to pick out our tree. It’s time for a new tradition. The kids are old enough now to work as a group and compromise on something they ALL like. AND to know that from now on, we’re getting the tree that I want.

WISHING YOU ALL THE BEST IN 2014!

The Twelve Days of Binging

On the First Day of Binging
this Christmas gave to me:
Cabernet with Almonds and Brie

On the Second Day of Binging
this Christmas gave to me:
Two Candy Canes
and Cabernet with Almonds and Brie

On the Third Day of Binging
this Christmas gave to me:
Three French Pastries
Two Candy Canes
and Cabernet with Almonds and Brie

On the Fourth Day of Binging
this Christmas gave to me:
Four Second Helpings
Three French Pastries
Two Candy Canes
and Cabernet with Almonds and Brie

On the Fifth Day of Binging
this Christmas gave to me:
FIVE TINS OF PEPPERMINT BARK
Four Second Helpings
Three French Pastries
Two Candy Canes
and Cabernet with Almonds and Brie

On the Sixth Day of Binging
this Christmas gave to me:
Six Egg Nog Lattes
FIVE TINS OF PEPPERMINT BARK
Four Second Helpings
Three French Pastries
Two Candy Canes
and Cabernet with Almonds and Brie

On the Seventh Day of Binging
this Christmas gave to me:
Seven Festive Cocktails
Six Egg Nog Lattes
FIVE TINS OF PEPPERMINT BARK
Four Second Helpings
Three French Pastries
Two Candy Canes
and Cabernet with Almonds and Brie

On the Eighth Day of Binging
this Christmas gave to me:
Eight Champagne Truffles
Seven Festive Cocktails
Six Egg Nog Lattes
FIVE TINS OF PEPPERMINT BARK
Four Second Helpings
Three French Pastries
Two Candy Canes
and Cabernet with Almonds and Brie

On the Ninth Day of Binging
this Christmas gave to me:
Nine Short Bread Cookies
Eight Champagne Truffles
Seven Festive Cocktails
Six Egg Nog Lattes
FIVE TINS OF PEPPERMINT BARK
Four Second Helpings
Three French Pastries
Two Candy Canes
and Cabernet with Almonds and Brie

On the Tenth Day of Binging
this Christmas gave to me:
Ten Random Candies
Nine Short Bread Cookies
Eight Champagne Truffles
Seven Festive Cocktails
Six Egg Nog Lattes
FIVE TINS OF PEPPERMINT BARK
Four Second Helpings
Three French Pastries
Two Candy Canes
and Cabernet with Almonds and Brie

On the Eleventh Day of Binging
this Christmas gave to me:
Eleven Bowls of Ice Cream
Ten Random Candies
Nine Short Bread Cookies
Eight Champagne Truffles
Seven Festive Cocktails
Six Egg Nog Lattes
FIVE TINS OF PEPPERMINT BARK
Four Second Helpings
Three French Pastries
Two Candy Canes
and Cabernet with Almonds and Brie

On the Twelfth Day of Binging
this Christmas gave to me:
Twelve Chocolate Santas
Eleven Bowls of Ice Cream
Ten Random Candies
Nine Short Bread Cookies
Eight Champagne Truffles
Seven Festive Cocktails
Six Egg Nog Lattes
FIVE TINS OF PEPPERMINT BARK
Four Second Helpings
Three French Pastries
Two Candy Canes
and Cabernet with Almonds and Brie

HAPPY HOLIDAY BINGING from The Big Piece of Cake!

They Coulda’ Been Great: November 2013

November highlights via Facebook… (What is this? All answers are HERE.)


November 1

5:09 p.m.

Overheard at a play date…

Six year old: Mom! We need you to open our scooters!

Mother: Excuse me?

Six year old: WE NEED you to open our scooters!

Mother: What is missing from your request?

Six year old: I don’t know! Open our scooters!

Mother: What’s the magic word?

Six year old: DAD!

Exactly.


November 3

12:56 p.m.

Two kids out at friends’ houses and one playing happily by himself. The perfect time to get some cleaning done! So of course, I’m looking at Kate Spade bracelets on Ebay.

5:03 p.m.

Halloween is over – but if a child dropped a Jolly Rancher within a 2-mile radius, my dog will find it.

5:36 p.m.

George: [coming inside after his father went out to tell him it was getting dark and it’s time to come in] MOM! I was just about to do something fun and you RUINED it!

Me: [to Chris] I guess you told him that “Mom” said it was getting too dark for him to be outside? [to George] George – it’s too dark for you to be outside without a grownup.

Chris: People are still outside watching the game. [yes – my neighbors set up a TV and a fire pit]

Me: [to George] WELL, Daddy doesn’t want to watch football outside – so you have to come in now.

George: DAD!?!

Two can play that game.


November 4

7:14 p.m.

I’m obsessed with Paperless Post tonight (yes – looking up possibilities for the Simply Om trunk show). I’ve already found exactly what I need – but I CAN’T STOP looking at all of the pretty, pretty options. Chinese lanterns! What could I possibly do with this? No idea – but look at the pretty, pretty lanterns!

lanterns


November 5

2:55 p.m.

Eleanor: Pluto used to be a planet, but now it’s a star.

Me: I think Pluto was always a star – we just THOUGHT it was a planet.

Eleanor: No. It USED TO be a planet, but then scientists changed it into a star.

George: EVIL scientists!

Sometimes I think HE’S actually from Pluto…

*Yes – it has been pointed out to me that Pluto is not a star, but a plutoid or something…whatever – there’s a reason I don’t home school.


November 6

11:15 p.m.

When you can’t find your best tweezers. Forty-something world problems…


November 7

4:29 p.m.

Homework is hard. It makes my brain dizzy.”

Oliver on not wanting to do homework. I think he nailed it.

5:53 p.m.

Either I’m unusually irritable this evening or my children are unusually irritating. Most likely a combination of the two.


November 8

8:46 a.m.

Leaving the house to walk the kids to school and Eleanor just started singing, “I know a song that never ever ends – and this how it goooes!” So this should be fun.


November 9

12:49 p.m.

Yes – of course it’s okay to scratch your leg… Just not straight down the front of your pants, in public.”

Added to the list of things I’ve actually had to say to people. #motherhood

3:23 p.m.

Oliver won’t let me sing along with Taylor Swift on the radio. But dammit – I’m Feelin’ Twenty-Two. And I’m not letting some 8 year old take that away from me.

9:16 p.m.

Oliver: Mom – keep your eyes peeled!

Me: Will do!

Oliver: And keep your ears peeled.

Me: Ha! You got it.

Oliver: And keep your nose peeled.

Me: Um…sure.

Oliver: And keep your mouth peeled.

Me: …

Oliver: And keep your hair peeled.

Me: Hair?!?

Oliver: Yeah – and keep your HANDS peeled.

Me: OKAY! Let’s just assume that I’ve got it covered.

Wondering if this is somehow related to how I can never find my keys…


November 10

10:31 a.m.

Not doing the daily grateful thing this month – but VERY grateful for a friend’s #1 visitor rule: “you can always be late – but you can never be early.” #lateforbrunch

7:55 p.m.

Fun afternoon at a corn maze! It’s a thing.

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7:59 p.m.

Children of the Corn Maze.

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November 11

9:24 a.m.

There are two kinds of people in a corn maze. The ones who hit dead end after dead end and say, “I will find my way out of this if it kills me!” and the ones who make jokes and take family pictures as they follow behind. Apparently, I am in the latter group.

1:48 p.m.

This may just be one of my favorite things I’ve ever read. Oliver’s school OT sent me an e-mail telling me that he’s now officially able to tie his shoes (sent a pair in for them to practice a while back):

Good Morning, Kate!

Oliver is wearing his tie-shoes home today!!! Every time for the last 2 weeks he has been successful on the first attempt tying each shoe  :)

He got a little teary-eyed about his old sneakers…he said they are very sad. So, we wrote them a little note & you’ll find that note in the Ziploc Bag with the sneakers.

Oliver seemed to feel much better after writing the note & reading it to the sneakers – the sneakers felt better, too :) I am so happy with his commitment to this & the great progress he made…his efforts really paid off!

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November 12

4:14 p.m.

George just got off the school bus wearing his fleece pull over PULLED OVER his winter coat. Why? Because it’s “toasty.” Obviously.

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November 13

6:19 p.m.

Update on Oliver’s school picture. Just got this e-mail from his SPED teacher:

“Good Evening,

The school pictures are headed home tomorrow, but I wanted to give you a heads up. Oliver took a very nice picture!

Take Care!”

I take it this mean he smiled for the camera (in some fashion at least…) So I’m already thrilled.

9:35 p.m.

You know those “family style” portions they serve at Italian restaurants? Well – left to my own devices? I AM that family.


November 14

12:25 p.m.

While I do appreciate the lack of crowds at the mall during the week, I spend twice as much time finding stores in my efforts to avoid those Dead Sea skin care kiosks. The sales people terrify me. They are relentless and always manage to get me in their clutches. I’ve been complimented, shamed, and everything in between by them, and only manage to escape without purchase by the skin of my teeth. Once I was THISCLOSE to getting into line for Santa when no alternate routes were available. True story.

5:27 p.m.

Picture day miracle.

picture day miracle

6:11 p.m.

And just in case anyone who saw my last post thinks I’m acting like some picture day Tiger Mom…just take a look at this comparison between Oliver fake smiling through tears of fury in 2012 and Oliver actually smiling in anticipation of a VERY good bribe in 2013. Can you really blame me for throwing a little confetti?

2012-13


November 20

4:45 p.m.

Me: Oliver! Does it look like she just got hurt?

Oliver: Yes.

Me: Do you think it’s time for the black crayon to STOP talking to her?

Oliver: Okay

This makes complete sense to us….

5:34 p.m.

Oliver has decided to boycott the “th” sound while reading. Have you ever listened to someone who boycotts “th” read aloud for 20 minutes? Every time he reads the word “the” he mutters “hmph – I don’t want to say ‘the’…” EVERY time.

Unrelated: he spends an equal amount of time making pencils talk to each other as he does writing with them.

Also? I love Oliver.


November 21

12:54 p.m.

Leaving the school book fair, I heard the unmistakable shrieks of 5th or 6th graders playing something like kickball. I then experienced what must have been a visceral sense memory of complete panic. It was only a second but extremely unpleasant. PE PTSD?

6:18 p.m.

Oliver had the hiccups during his 20 minutes of reading aloud to me this evening. Recently, he started doing this thing where he smacks his mouth each time he hiccups. So I got to sit there for 20 minutes listening to him say “I don’t want to say the” every time he read the word “the” and smacking his mouth every time he hiccuped.

Wonder what he’ll add tomorrow… Perhaps a little interpretive dance number every time he turns a page?

6:22 p.m.

I spend 85% of the time I’m with my children feeling like Bob Newhart.


November 22

10:13 a.m.

Rage reading the Sundance catalog with my friend Diane and actually had the opportunity to quote, “it’s not even leathah!” #WorkingGirl


November 24

4:08 p.m.

After a painful month of waiting (due to postponement as a “consequence” of general being-really-bad-ness in school this October), George FINALLY had his laser tag birthday party. And you know what that means… I have to come up with a new empty threat. Also – he’s about to lose a front tooth. The very last baby smile in my house bites the dust – sob.

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November 25

8:36 a.m.

I’m going to let this soak,” is Chris’ code for, “if I leave this dirty pan in the sink long enough, Kate will clean it.” I don’t know why I even bother with the dirty pan standoff…we all know how this ends.

10:35 a.m.

Clearly I am avoiding the ridiculous amount of house cleaning that must be done before my in-laws arrive tomorrow… But George lost that front tooth, and I think commemorating the end of the era of baby teeth smiles in my house on Facebook is far more important that scrubbing toilets. Yes?

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2:58 p.m.

George: MOM! My tooth is GONE! I DROPPED it. I LOST it!

Me: Well why were you playing with it? I told you that wasn’t a good idea…

George: [general flailing and unintelligible wailing]

Me: I’m sure we can find it. Where were you when you dropped it?

George: Over here on the couch!

Me: Okay – so you were right here when…

George: …it DROPPED and rolled down there in the back.

Me: So it’s probably just under the cushion [feeling around for it….still looking…] Huh. You were right HERE?

George: Yes.

Me: And you had it in your hand right HERE?

George: No.

Me: Then where were you holding it?

George: In my mouth.

Me: …

George: I was just “pretending.”

Remember how I said my kids make me feel like Bob Newhart? This was one of our “I’m Larry, this is my brother Darryl, and this is my other brother Darryl,” moments.

5:49 p.m.

Eleanor: Mom, how do you spell the letter A?

Me: The letter A?!?

George: Oh that’s EASY! Wait – do you mean in lowercase?

I walked away. Obviously, George had that one covered.

7:39 p.m.

Eleanor: [reading over my shoulder as I type]: “…entertained me for whores.”

What I actually typed: “…entertained me for hours.”

It’s like non-stop tonight. I need run mics through our house and just hit “record.”


November 30

3:48 p.m.

At Safeway…

Oliver: [coming out of the restroom] Mom! I need your help.

Me: With what?

Oliver: Finding the Mysterious Burglar.

Ah – shopping with Oliver… Epilogue: it turned out that I AM the Mysterious Burglar.

Also – going to the store for ice cream and wine is a thing, right?

6:07 p.m.

Traditional day-after-Thanksgiving “kids’ tree” decorating party. The real – I mean MY – tree decorating party will take place in a couple of weeks while THEY are at school. That is, if several hours alone, tying a thousand ornament ribbons and swearing over lights that short out counts as a party…I CAN’T WAIT! And yes – I did notice the FOUR Hello Kitty ornaments arranged above Eleanor’s head. There is a reason they aren’t invited to my party.

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8:45 p.m.

Eleanor: [literally CRAWLING up the stairs] MOM! I’m tired. Can I just go to bed without brushing my teeth?

Me: No honey – it’s important – I’ll help. [LYING! I totally let her go to bed without.]

George: MOM! My feet itch! Why do my feet itch?!

Me: Because you’ve been wearing those socks for the past three days?

Oliver: MOM! Can I use the electric?

Me: NO! Wait – you mean “toothbrush”? Then yes – yes you can.”

Goodnight November!