Tag Archives: Alice

They Coulda’ Been Great – January 2015

Well that was fast. What happened to January?  Guess time flies when you’re having fun…or sitting at home with your kids on ANOTHER snow day… Here are the Facebook highlights. (What is this? All answers are HERE.)

 

January 1

11:05 a.m.

January 1, 2015: the day that felt like a Sunday but mocked parents everywhere by only being THURSDAY. #‎countdowntoschool‬ ‪#‎it‬‘snotfestiveanymore ‪#‎sotired‬

2:03 p.m.

Just sat down at Adventure Theater to see “Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol” and as soon as we’re settled, George asks, “mom, can I take my shoes off now?”

“Now,” as opposed to….

Then he looks around at the set and loudly complains, “hey – I thought you said this was going to be a light show!”

Because with a title like “Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol”….

 

January 3

10:18 a.m.

George is looking particularly anime this morning. (Pictures don’t do the hair justice.)

anime hair

 

January 4

12:31 p.m.

George: Hey Mom! When I was a baby it was my past, and right now while I’m a kid, it’s my present, and when I’m a grownup it will be my future.

Me: That’s right!

George: So Mom – right now, you are in your future.

Guess that’s it for me…

 

January 5

10:00 p.m.

Starting to work on Listen to Your Mother DC always makes me think about the amazing women in my life who taught me how to be a mother. Primarily MY OWN mother who just turned 70 a couple of days ago. Love this (b-day) picture of her in front of a portrait from her 30s that an artist friend painted (now THERE’S something to add to my bucket list!)

Mom at 70 #2

 

January 8

9:08 a.m.

“I will find a school that’s open and drop you off THERE if you can’t stop fighting and entertain yourselves!”

The first of today’s empty threats…

#‎YAYSnowDays‬

 

January 9

10:57 a.m.

Rainbow endorsement for this morning’s coffee.

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January 11

2:51 p.m.

Eleanor is playing a kind of magic show game with a friend and Oliver where she changes them into different animals. She just abracadabra’d Oliver into a shark. His first point of business? Say hello to mermaids. The shark is not his spirit animal…

 

January 14

4:56 p.m.

On our way to the dentist and I glance back to notice Oliver isn’t wearing a coat.

Me: Where is your coat? Why aren’t you wearing a coat?!

Oliver: I put on another shirt. Two shirts keep me warm.

Dear boys everywhere: two t-shirts do not a coat make..

6:59 p.m.

We noticed that the E at Target was out (TARG T). George feels very strongly that we alert everyone there to this malfunction. Because of course he does.

7:25 p.m.

Every time we go to Target. EVERY TIME. He starts at the back. It’s like birth.

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January 15

8:20 p.m.

Totally applying for this if a program becomes available for 43-45 year old women… In the meantime – forward this to anyone who has an adventurous 16-18 girl. Sadly, I was not adventurous at that age and spent more time eating cookies and talking on the phone than going on adventures with glaciologists (which is apparently a thing!) in Alaska. ‪#‎latebloomer‬

Also – I was just explaining to my kids what this was and when I said “on a twelve week expedition,” I had to restrain myself from singing “met the greatest earthquake ever known…” ‪#‎landofthelost‬ ‪#‎wouldhavefalleninacreviceorsomething‬

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January 17

3:28 p.m.

For that special nun in your life?

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I just handed George some tacos. He said, “thanks mom…but that’s way too much hot sauce…also the cheese isn’t shredded the right way.”

And for the first time ever, I looked at that boy and thought, “he’s just like me!” #‎twinsies‬

 

January 18

1:32 p.m.

So this is happening… Christmas present to myself: seeing my favorite musical at the Kennedy Center with my favorite girl. Also just got reprimanded for taking this picture. As if I was going to be snapping away during the performance! So no selfies from our seats I guess…

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Gigi was fantastic. My only knowledge of Vanessa Hudgens is from US Weekly pictures (my kids are young enough that we missed the High School Musical dynasty). But I thought she was adorable. Loved the entire cast and the costumes were gorgeous. Eleanor’s favorite scene? The Night They Invented Champagne (mais oui!) Once I explained I Remember It Well to her – she thought that was super cute too. Two thumbs up from us. We laughed…we cried…it was better than Cats (disclaimer: we’ve never actually seen Cats). Here is our obligatory awkward picture taken by a stranger.

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January 19

10:00 a.m.

George: Hey mom – want to have a not breathing contest?

Me: What? No – I like breathing.

George: Actually, it’s pretty dangerous.

Me: Yes it is – so no thanks.

George: Want to see how long I can not breathe?

Me: Okay…

George: [holds breath for about 30 seconds then lets out a huge breath]

Me: Wow – that was a long time.

George: Yeah. I can do that for another 10 minutes.

Sorry about the humble brag – but my kids are CRAZY talented. Investigating scholarships for not breathing…

2:18 p.m.

George: Mom? I love you more than your phone.

Good to know.

 

January 20

12:28 p.m.

Meeting a friend in my hometown (DC) for a real grown up lunch with TABLE SERVICE and NO KIDS’ MENU and HELL YES I ordered a glass of wine.

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January 22

5:11 p.m.

Co-pilot

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January 25

5:06 p.m.

The day always seems a little brighter when I see a massive spill at the grocery store and I know that this time, my children didn’t do it.

 

January 26

11:13 p.m.

So after binge watching the first four seasons of Parks & Recreation, I’ve decided that I’m totally a Leslie when it comes to internal enthusiasm and expectations for everything to work out…but I’m sure I come across as more of an Ann to most since I’m not as confident as Leslie. I know – most of you probably identify with Donna…I wish. Wait – are we still doing this? Sex & the City made this a thing, right? (For the record, I’ve always been a Carrie/Charlotte – but as I get older, I’m definitely feeling Miranda. Never Samantha though. Much to my husband’s chagrin…never.) #‎ForeverLatetotheTVParty

 

January 28

4:32 p.m.

When navigating a path home from the school bus – one must take extra care to walk through every snow drift.

-Oliver’s brain

IMG_13064:36 p.m.

“Okay – let’s not use the Roku as a wrecking ball.”

#‎LifeWithBoys‬

 

January 30

10:08 a.m.

Oliver and I are currently having a standoff about him wanting to make popcorn this morning. I said he had to wait until afternoon and he is relentlessly nagging me to change my mind (please, please, please, please…) After more “no’s” than I can count, he decided that I am no longer allowed to say “no.” Every time I say no, he makes a scooping motion by my head and claims that he’s “taking my no’s away.” “No more no’s…say goodbye to your no’s…look out the window – there go your no’s…” So he’s now gone from annoying nine year old to Tony Robbinson-esque personal life coach. I’m feeling a strange combination of irritated/motivated….

 

January 31

5:37 p.m.

Motherhood is picking someone else’s underwear up from the floor. Then smelling it to see if it’s clean.

 

Goodnight January!

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!

Having a Dog is like Having a Baby!

NO – I am not comparing my dog to your baby. I’ve had three of my own babies and I’m not even a “dog person” (or much of an animal lover, truth be told). So you will never hear me chiming in on your potty training complaints with stories about my dog’s recent regression and the resulting carpet cleaning bills.

Please.

I’m just saying is that this whole puppy thing seems all too familiar for someone who hasn’t owned a dog since the ’80s. Every day brings a new moment of déjà vu. Because there are so many parallels to my not so distant past with babies and toddlers.

So of course I made a list:

Things That New Dog Owners Can Expect to Have in Common With New Parents

  1. You will get inordinately excited about your puppy’s poop and pee being deposited in the appropriate places. Rewards will be involved.
  2. You will actually have serious conversations about your puppy’s poop and pee. Often.
  3. You won’t be able to take your puppy for a walk without being stopped by at least one stranger who wants to talk to you about about your puppy.
  4. You will get a wealth of unsolicited advice from these strangers (some helpful – some not) about the best way to raise your puppy. This covers discipline, schedules, co-sleeping, breastfeeding…
    *OHMYGOD I’m totally kidding about the breastfeeding. And while we’re at it, I would like to invite all new dog owners to join me in a moment of silent gratitude for the fact that this is ONE issue we do not have in common with new parents.
  5. You will find yourself feeling shamefully smug about how much cuter and/or more well behaved your puppy is than other puppies you see.
  6. You will find yourself feeling horribly embarrassed by how much more poorly behaved your puppy is than other puppies you see.
  7. You will ALWAYS think your puppy is cuter than the other puppies (of course!)
  8. You will have a difficult time finding people who are willing and/or able to watch your puppy so you can go on vacation.
  9. You will no longer be able to afford vacations (puppies are expensive!)
  10. You will have a hard time remembering what life was like without your puppy.

And I have a bonus #11 for the stay at home moms out there who have a puppy because their working partner desperately wanted a dog and agreed to be 100% in charge of all things dog-related when not at work: YOU will still be the one to get up early on weekend mornings to walk the puppy and YOU will be in charge of figuring out how to best dispose of the rancid little poo bags that your puppy produces.

Enjoy!

But seriously – puppies are super. Most of the time. At least 50%…

Six Pack

Hi! My name is Alice and I’m (supposedly) five months old. I’m a rescue dog but I’m (mostly) house broken and only puke once a day. I can’t tell you why I puke every day, but man is it fun to see my owner, Kate freak out over it. Apparently this puke thing is gross. But I have no barometer for gross since I chew on pig ears (yes ACTUAL dried pig ears that are sold at Target in the pet section – isn’t that AWESOME?) I don’t chew shoes, but I strongly suggest that you hide your Hungry Hungry Hippos marbles when I’m around. When I’m not attacking my leash, I enjoy long walks in the woods, stalking the neighbors’ cat and whining at the door for no apparent reason.

So yeah – we have a dog. And up until a few months ago, I would never have expected that this would happen. Our house is not very big, we have three small children, my oldest son has numerous therapy appointments each week and I feel like I spend half my life in the car… But here we are. And it’s okay. Alice is actually a VERY good dog.

I took the twins to a wedding in NYC over the weekend and came home to this new family member. I received the following pictures on my drive home along with the announcement that we are now dog owners.

Chris and Oliver had plans to “look” at dogs, but immediate adoption was not something we discussed. In fact, we were talking about doing this in July when everyone was out of school and the noisiest day of the year (July 4th) was over. But Chris said that he knew Alice was the perfect dog for us. And I guess we couldn’t just put her on a two month hold.

Like everything else in my life, things didn’t happen exactly as I had planned. And as usual, it’s fine – maybe even better this way.

I haven’t owned a dog since the ’80s; and even then, we were terrible pet owners with inconsistent rules and training (hey – sounds a lot like my parenting!) So I’ve been relying heavily on Chris to tell me what I’m supposed to be doing with this animal. And I’m not that bad at it. I can make her sit and stay (most of the time), and when Chris isn’t around, she definitely knows I’m the boss in our house.

With Chris at work and Oliver at school most of the week, the twins and I have been with Alice the most. And they are just as clueless as I am. This is all new to them and I’ve discovered that they think ANYTHING is possible with dogs.

The other day in the car, I said “Alice is the PERFECT dog for our family.” And George agreed, “yes! We should buy her AGAIN!” I’m still not sure how he thinks that would work…

Then later in the day, when I was talking about the various treats that Chris has been putting in her food bowl, I told them “Alice ate an egg last night.” And Eleanor gasped, “Alice LAID AN EGG last night?!

So they’re pretty much ready for anything.

I am too. And I’m taking it day by day. But mainly I’m happy. I love seeing Oliver playing with Alice. He’s the only one of kids brave enough to let her tackle him and gnaw on him with her giant puppy teeth. And Chris has never seemed so relaxed and content. Whether he’s wrestling with Alice or lying on the floor next to her – I swear, she just drains the stress and intensity right out of him.

Also, my house looks great since my mild OCD tendencies make it impossible for me to abide BOTH a dog and a dirty floor. And of course, I’m constantly scrubbing tables and counters to discourage Alice from jumping up to lick them. So that alone helps with my own stress and anxiety.

While the kids already more or less destroyed any sense of perfectionism that I may have harbored in the past, Alice is systematically locating all remaining shreds and grinding them into dust. Even those long walks on the wooded trails behind our house that should be fun for EVERYONE have included numerous bouts of complaining, crying and whining (OH the whining) – with Eleanor in the lead for most annoying participant (which is saying a lot since Alice starts tug of war battles for leash dominance every time I stop for more than two seconds).

Things truly peaked on Wednesday when Eleanor cried and refused to walk any further because her legs hurt. After several minutes of good parenting discussions about behavior and consequences, I gave in and told her to climb on my back. The minute her muddy shoes started staining my khaki pants, Alice lost her mind and lunged at us in an attempt to climb on top of me as well. As we turned the corner in a staggering whirlwind of wailing, yelling, barking, lunging and muddy shoes and paws, we narrowly missed tripping over a turtle that was almost as big as Alice. Perhaps you heard my scream? It was loud. It also stopped the madness and everyone WALKED home without further incident.

And what about Alice? How does she feel about her new home and family?

She seems happy. But I do wonder what she thinks about us – particularly from her own pack animal perspective. Here is my best guess:

Chris: Alpha who likes to play.

Kate: Alpha alternate who likes to take away all smells with spray bottles.

Oliver: Beta #1 who likes to play.

Eleanor: Beta #2 who DOES NOT like to play [Eleanor prefers Alice when she’s calm and not so “bitey”].

George: Beta #3 who likes to think he is Alpha.

So that’s our pack now. A family of five plus one. A pack of six. And as I sit here writing in my blog for the first time in weeks, with Oliver at school, Chris as work, the twins playing quietly and Alice snoozing next to my feet, I think that’s pretty perfect.

But feel free to get my opinion on this later when I’m picking up her poop in a plastic bag.