Tag Archives: Little Ones

They Coulda’ Been Great: May-June 2015

Had to take the blog offline for a couple of months – but now that we’re back up and running… Here is a DOUBLE “They Coulda’ Been Great” for May-June! (What is this? All answers are HERE.)

 

May 1

5:10 p.m.

Just got this birthday card and I LOVE it!

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One birthday cake candle for “First Wife.” (Of course I am!) — with Cathy McCarthy Trocchia and Diane Cooper Gould

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May 3

9:47 a.m.

Told the kids that I’ll be gone all day for my show (Listen to Your Mother DC) and Oliver keeps referring to it as my “Magic Act.” I think he understands this producer job more than anyone else… #‎LTYM‬

 

May 4

8:23 p.m.

Motherhood is checking and re-checking the crispness of crinkle cut fries in the oven so they don’t come out too “potato-y”

 

May 7

5:12 p.m.

Eleanor is trying to show me dance moves she learned at school, and the dog is losing her mind. Alice cannot abide dancing. There will be no “walk it out like granny” on her watch… It’s like freaking Footloose around here.

 

May 11

5:00 p.m.

Doing homework with a 6 year old…

Me: Okay – #1. What is a word that starts with the sound /sh/?

6yo: Can it be a curse word?

Only in my head, buddy…

 

May 12

6:38 p.m.

George: I’m more of an indoor person than an outdoor person.

First of all – that’s not even true, let alone healthy for an eight year old. And second of all…what are we, CATS?

 

May 13

4:41 p.m.

Earlier this morning:

Me: Do you want a bagel?

Chris: No.

Me: No thank you….?

#‎MothertoAll

*I should note that he was distracted – looking for one of his shoes at the time. But still – manners, please!

6:45 p.m.

The responsible picky eater remembers to wear safety glasses for dismantling a piece of bread.

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May 14

1:42 p.m.

Earlier this morning, Eleanor asked why there are never any female composers featured on Little Einsteins (disclaimer on her behalf: she does NOT actually like Little Einsteins – it just happened to be on TV). I explained that it was rare for women from Mozart’s time to be given the the same opportunities as men, and that they were generally expected to stay home and look after their families. Her expression was solemn and disapproving, so I continued that things are very different for women now.

Eleanor: Yeah. I mean you get to do all kinds of great things now.

Me: [thinking – yes! I used to work full time and I now produce an annual stage show…] You think so?

Eleanor: Oh sure – you can take us all kinds of places. Well…maybe just on the weekends…except for when you took me to get my ears pierced. That was during the week and THAT was awesome.

Me: ….true.

Then about twenty minutes later she comes over to me flipping her hair around and says, “hey Mom – I think this is the best high ponytail you’ve ever given me”

Ooooh – a personal best! She really needs to stop before my head gets too big. If there is anyone in this world who can keep me humble (albeit unwittingly) it’s my daughter.

 

May 15

6:50 p.m.

“Sorry I peed on your shoe.”

Filed under things my boys have said to me in the bathroom.

 

May 16

6:16 p.m.

Since this won’t last long…I’ll just enjoy it. At any rate, it takes my mind off the 1,387 Angry Birds stickers I’ll eventually have to scrape off the door.

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May 19

6:43 p.m.

“No taping people into boxes.” … Just added to the ever growing list of Hood family rules.

8:02 p.m.

Our neighbors just adopted the cutest kitten on the planet. So of course…

Eleanor: Mom, can we get a kitten?

Me: No. Only one full sized animal at a time in this house [circumventing the inevitable “BUT” by allowing for the wretched hermit crabs that continue to live despite a high degree of unintentional neglect].

Eleanor: What about when Alice [who is only three] dies?

Me: Eleanor! That’s terrible! And besides – you guys might not even be living here anymore when Alice dies.

Eleanor: What?! Don’t dogs live for 20 years?

My daughter is eight…

 

May 20

6:56 p.m.

“Mom! Don’t throw them away!”

Oliver’s loyalty to inanimate objects is OUTOFCONTROL. We have this conversation about every pair of shoes he destroys. He never wants to throw anything away. I’m STILL hearing about the old black truck and giant 80’s TV we got rid of last year. #FutureHoarder #NoManLeftBehind

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May 21

8:32 a.m.

You know when your child comes home from school with a little Dixie cup filled with dirt and a tiny sprig of green, and begs to plant it in the yard (and in our case, there is only a FRONT yard)? Well – meet our new GINORMOUS ornamental cabbage plant. #We‘reAllAbouttheCurbAppeal #Don’tMindtheWeeds

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Sometimes I think that growing older is a gift. And sometimes I look in a mirror and wish I had a gift receipt because this age does NOT fit!

10:29 p.m.

Chris just referred to Matt Dillon as “that Rumble Fish guy.” I don’t even know what to do with that.

 

May 22

11:37 a.m.

Great Moments In Parenting!

That time I stepped on something sharp and realized it was a tooth I had stuck in my back pocket the night before, while playing tooth fairy. The best part? I actually stuck TWO teeth in my back pocket so tooth #2 is still at large.

And no – I don’t immediately transfer teeth to plastic bags carefully labeled with my children’s names. Because I just can’t bring myself to own “bags of teeth.” Aside from the fact that I forget that I put them in pockets, of course…

 

May 23

1:50 p.m.

Oliver: That sounds like music to my ears Mom.

Me: What sounds like music?

Oliver: The music.

Me: Where is the music?

Oliver: On the radio.

Me: Where is the radio?

Oliver: In my brain.

Duh!

 

May 24

8:35 a.m.

Eleanor just picked up my 21-Day Fix DVD and as she was looking at it, Chris joked, “that’s what Mom is going to look like in 21 days.”

Me: No – Eleanor and I have already discussed the fact that people who look like that exercise for a living. I’m not not making exercise my job – I just want to feel healthy and strong. Expecting to look like that after 21 days would be an unrealistic expectation for me.

Eleanor: Yeah – and at your age…

I love her.

 

May 27

8:48 a.m.

Oliver is suddenly very anxious about summer (transitions are hard for him – but this is unusual…) I asked him why he was suddenly so worried about summer. His response: “Because I don’t like the season of the summer.”

While I’m endlessly charmed by his ESL-esque patois, I’m also keenly reminded of something his first special needs preschool teacher said to me: “sometimes it’s hard to be Oliver.” This kind of applies to everyone, right?

To Do List:
*Be more patient with Oliver. Sometimes it’s hard to be him.
*Be more patient with everyone else. Sometimes it’s hard to be them.
*Be more patient with myself. Sometimes it’s hard to be me.

8:48 p.m.

While standing at the mirror, brushing teeth…

George: Mom – want to see my nose hair?

Me: I don’t see any.

George: No – look. See it in there?

Me: Oh – way back in there…I see it. But I wouldn’t have if you didn’t point it out. I don’t think children have visible nose hair.

George: I can see yours really well.

Good to know.

 

May 28

4:57 p.m.

Warning: when you ask your very large 10 year old for a “big hug,” you may be body slammed and crushed within an inch of your life. #lovehurts

 

May 29

5:01 p.m.

On the way to the pool…

Me: IN GENERAL keep arms and legs…and hands and feet…and heads IN the car!

George: What about butts?

 

May 30

2:09 p.m.

Standing in line at Dairy Queen with Oliver, it occurs to me that he’s still wearing the shirt he had on yesterday. It’s 2:00 pm. Even better? What tipped me off was the dried Cheeto crumbs stuck to his sleeve. #raisedbywolves

 

June 1

9:55 a.m.

Chris and Oliver made bread yesterday. Oliver felt it prudent to wear protective head gear. #SafetyFirst

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Over the weekend, a friend invited George to come with his family to the father’s work event on a lake. They kayaked and canoed and George had the time of his life. In fact, my son had SUCH good time that he just invited all of us to come with him next year.

And that pretty much says it all about George.

 

June 2

8:23 a.m.

“And no pretend swearing either!”

It’s a thing.

 

June 3

9:07 a.m.

Exercise instructor is all, “yeah baby – it’s LEG DAY!!!” And I’m all “I miss ice cream.” #notsoulmates

 

June 4

4:35 p.m.

Why was George in the Quiet Zone today?

“At art I was jking arand and being on the flore.”

Sounds about right.

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June 9

9:19 a.m.

So when the kids got up at the crack of dawn this morning, I noticed that Oliver was wearing the same orange shirt and tan shorts he had on yesterday. I put a a clean outfit on a chair and told him that he needed to change. Two hours of breakfast serving, lunch packing, homework finishing, trash removing, teeth brushing, justalittlebitofworkonthecomputer sneaking, kitchen cleaning, bed making, schoolbus rushing and dog walking later…I walk into the house and notice this. Good job mom! The tone of the day has officially been set. “But I tried” is truly the theme of my life.

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June 10

8:24 a.m.

Chasing the recycling truck with two bags of glass bottles counts as exercise for the day, right?

 

June 16

6:43 p.m.

George just got a haircut that seems to have involved A LOT of gel. Fingers crossed that it looks like what I asked for when un-sculpted… Here is a picture of him holding up his “hair sample.” What? Doesn’t everyone request hair sample keepsakes?

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June 20

12:52 p.m.

Heading to the beach for the afternoon with Chris, the kids and my in laws. Made sure to pack my book. Because it’s a nice fantasy…

 

June 24

10:07 a.m.

In the car…

George: Look – another “port-ee-potty”!

Eleanor: It’s “port-AH-potty.”

George: Don’t correct me Eleanor – it’s cute!

Eleanor: It’s CUTE??

George: Yeah – that’s what mom always says.

Damn straight G.

 

June 28

4:20 p.m.

And I thought I wasn’t a boat person…

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5:09 p.m.

When I give no fucks about my wrinkles in pictures.

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*****

Those last two pictures were taken in San Diego. I didn’t want to post about being “in California” while our house was empty for 10 days…so no fun vacation pictures on Facebook. But don’t worry – we have about 5,000 of them for our own personal enjoyment. And thanks to selfies – I am in approximately four.

They Coulda’ Been Great: April 2015

Maybe it was all of the Listen to Your Mother Show madness (DON’T worry – I will not include all one million posts related to that here) but April was a blur. Good thing I have Facebook to remind me of what I actually did last month…here are the highlights! (What is this? All answers are HERE.)

April 2

1:37 p.m.

Perfect day to vacuum the car.

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April 3

7:43 p.m.

You know what’s really fun? Trying to do a new exercise video while your eight year old son watches:

“Wow – you’re really sweaty.”

“Why does it look so easy for them and you’re all [huffing puffing]”

“I just heard something crack.”

 

April 9

6:48 p.m.

If stopping to grab a coffee on my way to pick my daughter up at gymnastics WHILE WEARING SLIPPERS is wrong…I don’t want to be right. The suburbs have officially won.

 

April 11

2:08 p.m.

Put some lilac fragrance on in the car a little while ago. Oliver asked, “what’s that smell?” I told him it was me, “I just put on a little perfume – do you like it?” He said, “yeah – you smell like the mall.” Exactly what I was going for…

 

April 12

2:44 p.m.

Took the kids to the farm to see baby animals. Here is my main complaint about the farm: it smells like the farm. ‪#‎StillACityPerson‬

 

April 15

3:07 p.m.

Who me? Oh…just bending the universe to my will. You know – the usual. Now I have to go steam clean a carpet that smells like dog pee. Some things cannot be accomplished by will alone…

6:56 p.m.

Oliver just walked past wearing his Dracula cape…

Me: Oliver – why are you wearing a cape?

Oliver: So I’ll look like a moray eel.

Obviously.

 

April 18

12:11 p.m.

Thank god for spray bottle sun block. There is NO WAY Oliver’s hair will get sunburned today.

 

April 19

12:23 p.m.

George: Mom – I think it’s hard to be you.

Me: Why?

George: Oh – you know…all the stuff you have to do…driving…serving us…

So I guess George really “gets” parenthood.

4:45 p.m.

Eleanor and I are talking about presidents (which – if you know me – is HILARIOUS) and the possibility of our next president being a woman. We agreed that it would be pretty cool. Then she told me that some girls in her class still want a “boy president.” I have no idea how this ever came up (or what that hell is wrong with those girls), but Eleanor has a very practical attitude: “I don’t care about gesture – I just want a good president.” With that settled…now we just have to work on her vocabulary…

 

April 21

5:56 p.m.

I don’t know what it is about me doing an exercise video that makes my children want to “keep me company.” I already told you about my experience with George’s observations (“wow – you’re really sweaty,” etc….)

Then the next week, Oliver decided to watch. I don’t know what was worse – George’s critique or Oliver’s hysterical laughter. I’m going to say Oliver wins since he also insisted on periodically wiping the sweat from my brow with a dish towel that (from the smell of it) I’d been using to wipe kitchen counters all week.

I have to say though – the rock bottom moment of humiliation came courtesy of Eleanor. She graced me with HER presence yesterday. And when Jillian Michaels assured, “if you stay with this, you’ll REALLY start to see results,” my daughter looked at me, wrinkled her pert little nose and asked, “do you think you’re seeing results?”

Well – no one ever told me that having kids would be good for my ego…

 

April 23

9:02 p.m.

Earlier today in the car we saw a minor accident by the side of the road…

George: Uh oh. Looks like a bumper accident.

Me: You mean a fender bender?

George: Yeah – that’s what I meant – a thunder bender.

Life must be so much more interesting when viewed from inside George’s brain…

 

April 24

10:34 a.m.

At my local 7-11 making note that if I ever need a last minute cowgirl hat, they have me covered.

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April 25

2:40 p.m.

How we’re accessorizing the living room coffee table these days…

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4:48 p.m.

A fairly accurate representation of what I’m like (at least on the inside) the week prior to Listen to Your Mother DC. “I’ve got a medical condition alright – it’s called CARING TOO MUCH!” Everyone going to my 25th high school reunion tonight should be afraid. Very afraid.

Parks & Rec: Crazy Craig [sorry – no embedding allowed]

 

April 26

5:47 p.m.

Some of my closest friends from high school right there – and I swear, not one of us has aged a day. Right now six inner 18-year-olds are screaming in revulsion because, “Eewwww! So old!” But screw them. We look fab.

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10:16 p.m.

Listening to my 20-something (I could have been her teen mom) honorary daughter, Alex Tudor explain to Chris what a “crop top” is. I have no idea what he was doing in the 80s… We’ve come full circle in fashion trends and he’s still clueless? (disclaimer: Alex does not wear crop tops)

 

April 27

4:17 p.m.

George: Mom! Jack and I just did science!

Me: [with great trepidation] What…?

George: We tested bouncing – which bed is bouncier: mine, Oliver’s, Eleanor’s, yours or the mattress [air mattress]!

Me: Which was bounciest?

George: MINE!

Of course it was.

 

April 28

9:05 p.m.

Thank you for all of the birthday wishes! It made “a regular Monday” feel a lot more festive.

The kids were horrified that I made them go to swim lessons even though it was my birthday (I mean – it wasn’t THEIR birthday) but forgave me when I asked Chris to have an ice cream cake waiting at home. Before I blew out my big #3 candle (the only candle he could find) I opened my present. It was a pretty summer dress that Chris spent “at least 15 minutes” picking out for me at Ann Taylor. When I held it up and asked Eleanor what what she thought, Miss Honesty said, “looks a little small.” You know I love that stuff – best laugh of the day. Her backpedaling made it even funnier. I never got any cake since we actually WENT OUT (thank you Alex Tudor!) for a lovely dinner. When we came home, Alex was like, “you’re already back??” because she is in her early twenties and doesn’t understand that people in their forties eat a lovely dinner and then come home. I think I was asleep by 10:00. And it was glorious.

Now I’m back to the reality of OMG I have SO much to do for Listen to Your Mother on Sunday! Are you local and want to give me the BEST belated birthday present ever? Then you will forgive me for these last few days of blatant self promotion AND come see me at the show – and afterward at Edgar Bar at the Mayflower where I will probably drink A LOT.

 

April 29

7:33 p.m.

Right now, Oliver is playing outside and wearing what looks to be a large sheet of dry cleaner plastic, poncho-style because obviously he’s a jellyfish. And yes it did occur to me that my child is running around the neighborhood wearing garbage…

Whatever. You do you, Oliver. You just do you.

 

They Coulda’ Been Great: March 2015

Almost three weeks later…here are the Facebook highlights  from March! (What is this? All answers are HERE.)

March 1

10:26 a.m.

Eleanor: So yeah – Jade got her ears pierced.

Me: I guess YOU want to get your ears pierced?

Eleanor: [rolls eyes] Uh – yeah. ALL of my friends have pierced ears…except for Lucy…and Lily.

Me: Well – we had originally talked about waiting until you’re 12…

Eleanor: That’s when YOU got your ears pierced.

Me: I know – back in “the olden days…”

Eleanor: MOM! I don’t call it “olden.”

Me: What do you call it?

Eleanor: “Old.”

Of course. Also? George still tells me that I’m “in my future.”

11:18 a.m.

I just let my kids buy what looks to be ALL seasons of Sponge Bob On Demand. Not sure if this makes me the best mom in the world, the worst mom in the world or the most desperate mom in the world…

March 2

10:30 a.m.

“Mom – there are three people on your world.”

-Eleanor telling me I have three Facebook notifications.

10:39 a.m.

“Emory boards are for nails, not crayons!”

So that’s how our snow day is going so far…

2:29 p.m.

Visiting 10 year old boy: Can I use your phone?

Me: My cell phone?

V10YOB: Yeah.

Me: Why do you want to use my phone?

V10YOB: To call my mom.

Me: Why do you need to call her?

V10YOB: [whispers] It’s personal.

Me: OH. Well – okay, you can use my phone to call her.

V10YOB: [walking away] I hope she lets me get YouTube on my DS…

Epilogue: He is not using my phone.

7:00 p.m.

So we were driving to swim lessons and there was a commercial on the radio telling us to CALL NOW for a chance be on Austin & Ally or Dog with a Blog or some other Disney Programs and we lost our chance because I was driving and couldn’t make phone calls. This was hugely disappointing of course, and a very dejected George declared that he would “never be one of those people who get famous.”

I told him I’d try to help him figure something out. We’re leaning toward YouTube channel (my suggestion of a Twitter account was deemed “weird”). But he can’t get past the idea of being a video gamer YouTube sensation which I keep telling him is so DONE at this point (he totally missed his window). Time to crowd source ideas. So tell me Facebook – what would you like to see George do/discuss on YouTube? He could dispense advice? Give commentary on what is going on in the world? Thoughts?

8:12 p.m.

The Voice is on and when I expressed relief that a singer wasn’t left unchosen by anyone, Chris said, “you’re one of those people who makes everyone get a trophy at the end of the season.”

I’m sorry – is this news?

March 4

6:06 p.m.

You know what gets more depressing with each new year? Scrolling through a drop down box for the year you were born. Scrolling…scrolling…aaaaany minute now…

7:02 p.m.

Several years ago when I had hernia repair surgery (filed under: things your grandpa and I have in common!) the kids created little cut out drawings and designs to tape to my bedroom door. Since then, the paper creations have fallen off or been torn in half by wild small people hurtling past. Tonight the twins are playing with the old school spirographs I bought them for Christmas. George asked if he could tape their work to my bedroom walls “for decoration.” I suggested that they tape them to the door instead, as replacements for their fallen predecessors. They thought this was a great idea, but George said it might be better if I did the decorating myself: “because it’s your door – and you can do it with style.” This may be the first time anyone in my house has ever acknowledged that I do anything with style. But just so you know…I do ALL THE THINGS with style.

March 5

2:53 p.m.

Oliver just ate THREE rice cakes with peanut butter (and I’m not talking mini rice cakes here…) So I wasn’t surprised when he asked me for a glass of milk. Since we are running low (because SNOW DAY), I told him he’d have to settle for water. His response: “then can I have some Cheetos?” It’s like living with Andy from Parks and Rec.

3:37 p.m.

Eleanor: You know, we’ve basically been having winter break.

Me: Yes Eleanor – I NOTICED THAT TOO.

#‎missivesfromsnowdayhell‬

March 6

12:14 p.m.

George and I are having a heated debate. I believe we saw some men setting up flares on the street. George thinks dynamite. #‎AtAnImpasse‬

March 8

10:04 p.m.

I remembered to be the Tooth Fairy twice in three days. So I’m basically KILLING IT at parenting.

March 8

7:39 p.m.

Currently covered in dust. Why? Because my kids are changing after swim class and I just had to jump two feet in the air to retrieve George’s underwear from a dusty ledge. Obviously.

March 10

6:05 p.m.

Finally giving in and letting Eleanor get her ears pierced. And after some extensive crowd sourcing/research, I decided to take her to a tattoo parlor where the employees are certified and follow strict regulations for equipment sterilization. When I told the boys where we were going, their responses were…

Oliver: Do they have candy?

George: I want a tattoo!

So predictable…

9:22 p.m.

We (she) did it!

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10:31 p.m.

Oh I’m sorry. Are you trying to watch that?

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March 11

8:29 p.m.

Earlier, I told Oliver he could play a game on my phone. Then promptly forgot all about it. An embarrassingly long time later he showed up with a dead phone asking me to charge it for him. I said I thought that was enough electronics for the day. This news was not well received.

He informed me that if I didn’t let him use my phone, he would have to leave. I asked him where he would go. He said “New York.” I asked him who he would stay with there. He said “somebody else.”

Not only did this seem poorly planned…it was possibly first time my oldest son has ever expressed a desire to live somewhere without me (let alone with anyone else BUT me…in New York). I kissed him, then told him I loved him and would be so sad if he ever ran away to live in New York.

Ten minutes later, I heard the distinctive sound of a lightly packed carry on suitcase bumping down the stairs. Inside the suitcase? All of his stuffed animals. ‪#‎NewYorkorBust‬

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March 12

9:30 a.m.

Earlier this morning…

Me: George – you’re flossing! Nice work.

George: Yeah – I did it all this morning…brushed my teeth, used mouth wash, flossed, ran in circles…

#‎thorough

7:17 p.m.

Eleanor declining a snack I brought for her to eat in the car after gymnastics:

“I’m sorry Mom – I don’t really feel like eating now…just drinking.”

Twinsies!

March 14

8:42 p.m.

Harlem Globe Trotters!

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March 17

5:45 p.m.

Me: Oliver – how did your back get so wet?

Oliver: I ran into a snow drift.

With his back?

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March 18

8:26 p.m.

George: Mom – are you bored?

Me: No! I’m with you. I’m never bored when I’m with my kids (minor lie).

George: It’s your first favorite thing?

Me: Yes – it’s my first favorite thing.

George: What’s your second favorite thing?

Me: Hanging out with Daddy? [sorry Chris – I was put on the spot]

George: What’s your third favorite thing?

Me: Oh I don’t know! I just like being with my family.

George: I know what your last favorite thing is.

Me: What is it?

George: Leaving us.

There aren’t enough hugs for that one.

March 19

5:27 p.m.

A good co-pilot always sleeps with one eye open.

11073397_10205210724562505_3478249783596976670_nMarch 20

12:09 p.m.

The hubris of buying a cute new doormat for spring…

20720_10205217690576651_6857116212456317947_nMarch 21

8:46 p.m.

Someone who has never really considered herself to be a “dog person” (or even an animal lover for that matter) realizes she’s a fully entrenched “dog owner” when she sees the dog lying on her bed and, in her best baby voice coos, “who’s a lazy dog? Are you a big old lazy dog? Yes you are! You good girl…you’re just a lazy doggie dog.” Or so I’ve heard….

March 22

5:14 p.m.

After a frustrating struggle with our can opener, Chris tossed it in the garbage and told me to buy a new one, “and buy an expensive one this time.”

We’re so fancy.

March 23

11:02 a.m.

Yesterday, I took the kids out with their bikes and suggested we go to the nearby Nature Center. When George heard the destination, he balked, “but that’s too far, and I’ll end up crying a lot.” While I did admire this self awareness and ability to identify his limits…I was pretty sure he could do it. With a little encouragement (i.e. “too bad so sad that’s what we’re doing), I was able to get him on board. And as it turned out – there was NO crying at all. He was always in the lead and informed me on the way back that his legs weren’t at all tired. I recognized a bit of a life lesson here: never underestimate yourself. You never know what you can accomplish until you try!

This morning on the walk to school, George complained that his eye hurt, then that it was too cold for the sweatshirt that he chose to wear, and finally that his legs hurt. And he cried the ENTIRE TIME. As I waved to him from the entrance with an ironic, “have a great day!” it occurred to me that my little boy just offered me another life lesson: everything tends to even out in the end.

7:27 p.m.

Waiting for swim lessons to start, I walked up to find Eleanor chatting with the front desk lady about the Easter decorations…

Lady: Oh yeah – we decorate for everything. Did you see all the shamrocks last week…and the hearts for Valentine’s Day?

Eleanor: Well, we couldn’t a come last week, but I remember the hearts. What do you put up for Fourth of July?

Lady: What do you think?

Eleanor: Pictures of fireworks?

Lady: No…what do we celebrate on July Fourth?

Eleanor: Jesus?

It’s true…my children are vaguely aware that when it comes to Christmas and Easter, Jesus is the reason for the season… But those little heathens are forever finding ways to call me out for lack of religious instruction when we’re in public.

March 25

11:46 a.m.

Happy birthday to my wonderful husband Chris Hood, who will never be on Facebook because he thinks it’s THISCLOSE to being Match.com for married people. So those of you who love him will just have to text. **throws confetti/blows party horn***

2:07 p.m.

Between the kids and the dog, I find the weirdest things on my bed. I’m calling that tennis ball Alice’s “Wilson.” A very angry Wilson…

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March 26

5:50 p.m.

George and Oliver are in the back seat laughing and cheering. Finally turned around to see what they’re doing: placing popcorn on top of the window glass and pressing “up.” Who says kids need videos and gaming devices to stay entertained in the car!

March 29

5:54 p.m.

Cleaning out some shelves and just found a “brand new” 90-minute cassette tape (still in original packaging!) Any takers? Actually – I may let the kids play with it (because OF COURSE we still have a boom box with a “record” button). And yes – that is the infamous book my mother used to scar me for life when I was six. Why do I keep all the things?! #‎hoarders‬

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7:52 p.m.

First concert! Just found the program from Prince’s Purple Rain tour. I was in 7th grade and my Dad took me. Sheila E. opened and he got to stand next to me as we watched her simulate oral sex on one of the men in the audience. You know – typical Norman Rockwell stuff.

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March 30

9:27 a.m.

Ten years ago today, I was sitting in the hospital waiting to be induced with my one-week-late first born, Oliver. And all I could think was, “I wish it was tomorrow.” I wasn’t particularly psyched about the day of childbirth ahead… And sure enough, when I was holding my newborn baby and my mom asked what I thought of the experience, I said, “well…it wasn’t my *favorite* day…” I may not be fond of delivering 9 lb. babies with huge heads – but I sure am crazy about this boy with his big heart and and open mind. I often joke that he’s Buddy the Elf – and I’m pretty sure that he’ll believe in Santa forever. He never ceases to put life into perspective for me. I think I want to be Oliver when I grow up.

baby oliver

boy Oliver

2:47 p.m.

We invited some neighbors over for a last minute birthday party. And Oliver just informed me that he wants to go outside so we can all “surprise” him. I love that kid.

March 31

4:27 p.m.

Good thing they kept their helmets on – because sidewalk chalk is no joke.

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Art to Grow On

I almost never do sponsored posts anymore (in fact, I think it’s been years!) But this is one I couldn’t pass up. It also seemed like a great opportunity for a Wishing True post (again – I think it’s been years). SO let me tell you about one of my favorite online stationery stores, Minted!

I used them for holiday cards this year and they were gorgeous. Having spent a good amount of time checking out the website, I’m also very familiar with their line of art prints.  Now that my kids are older (ages 8-10), they’ve outgrown some of the “nursery” decor that I put so much time into arranging above cribs and changing tables… But in looking through Minted’s children’s wall art, I saw so many prints that could easily transition from nursery to “kid” bedroom.

My boys’ room is currently covered in maps. So I was immediately drawn to this one:

minted a

So cute for a nursery – and little ones can learn about different parts of the world through the animals featured.

This personalized print would be perfect for a new baby in a globe trotting family…

minted b

Have a little one born in England or France?

minted c

minted d

No babyish prints here!

Here is one for the camping family – personalize your own perfect campsite:

minted e

Do a lot of stargazing while camping (or in your own backyard)? Here is a print for kids who like to “look up.”

minted f

Finally – while this has nothing to do with geography, culture or travel of any kind… I have to say – I’d probably have had an easier time with the periodic table when I was in school if THIS was hanging on my bedroom wall!

minted g

And what about the prints I want to buy for Eleanor’s room? Don’t even get me started! Oh okay – if you insist…here are a few:

E 3

E 2

E 1

What about you? See any new favorites?

Wondering what I get for this sponsored post? Store credit! So the real question is, what will I choose…? Maybe I’ll invest in more holiday cards because these (you know you want to see them!) were fantastic!

2014 1

(I could even personalize the back!)

2014 2

My Life is a Mess

This morning I woke up full of anxiety.

This is not necessarily a new thing…the to do list is always long, and I feel like I can barely reach it past all of the laundry piling up in front of me…or the dog hair that needs to be vacuumed out of the corners…the dishes…the general grossness of cleaning up after children, pets and let’s face it – husbands (at least mine)…

But tomorrow is Easter. And we have family in town. And there is a hole in our living room ceiling that no handyman had time to fix last week. And I never did get much cleaning done over the past few days since SPRING BREAK. And…well, the house is just a mess. I’m kind of a mess. My life is extremely messy and it can feel so overwhelming…discouraging…

Then I remembered something my Dad wrote for me. I needed to read this today. And if you commiserated with my post title, then I’m guessing you do too…

Life As a Reflection of Its Priorities
by Terry Coveny

When I grow up…

I think I would most like to be like my daughter, Kate.

Kate, to me, best reflects the essence of a business conundrum that states your choices include good, fast and cheap. But you can choose only two.

As a mother of three young children, her choices are happy, tidy and timely. She chose happy and timely.

Think of it…something in life always has to be sacrificed. Even the rich have been known to sacrifice cheap.

As I sit in Kate’s living room at Christmas, I consciously stare at the beautifully decorated tree… ignoring the helter skelter chaos that surrounds me. But my ultimate pleasure is reflected in the eyes of my grandchildren who radiate the blessings of being well loved.

The crayon stains on the sofas may seem rather distressing (at least from an Archictectual Digest point of view)… but to me, here is the happiest place on earth.

Thinking back in time to my own immaculately maintained home, I wonder what sense of joie de vivre was sacrificed for the tidy perfection that was achieved. Thankfully, both children maintain only happy memories.

But…I wonder. What if I were as insightful as Kate? Would the happy memories have been happier?

What of your imperfect existence?

Which of your three choices are you sacrificing?

Choose wisely.

*****

I rarely feel like I have time to choose anything. But I guess that’s not really true. Everyone has priorities that influence their choices. And if I choose to let the house – my life – get overwhelmingly messy because I prioritize happy children over the neat and tidy existence I desperately want…well, then I guess I’m doing okay.

IMG_1515This picture was taken of Oliver and me at a neighborhood party well after midnight. I guarantee that there were piles of laundry to be folded and dog hair dust bunnies rolling through every room back at my house… But I have a happily exhausted child passed out on my lap (and yes I know he has one hand down his pants) and I’m holding a glass of wine (and yes I know that I’m wearing a captain’s hat). Don’t mind the mess. We’re all JUST FINE.

Whatever you are celebrating this weekend – I hope it’s the best kind of messy.

They Coulda’ Been Great: February 2015

Without a hint of spring in sight…at least we made it through February. Here are the Facebook highlights. (What is this? All answers are HERE.)

 

February 1

7:04 p.m.

“So do you want to say hi to my mom, or are we still talking?”

-Eleanor’s way of saying she’s ready to get off the phone.

7:58 p.m.

Me: So what exactly is the “Puppy Bowl”?

Chris: WHAT?!?

Me: I mean, I’ve heard about it, but I don’t know what it is… Is it kids playing football? Or puppies…?

Chris: IT’S PUPPIES!

Apparently, I’m fired. (In my defense, I don’t watch the Super Bowl.)

 

February 3

3:04 p.m.

“Hello Mrs. Hood, this is Emily from Hunters Woods Elementary. Everything is fine, but I just wanted to let you know that George was in the infirmary a little while ago. He said that a globe fell on his head in his classroom. There isn’t a cut or anything but there is a faint red mark at his hairline. He had his ice and went back to class – I just wanted to to tell you what happened.”

I could have stopped listening at “a globe fell on his head.” Of course he’s fine and of course HE will tell me aaaaallll about “what happened” when he gets home…

4:54 p.m.

Eleanor: Mom! My 3-dimensional fox is going to be in the art show!

Me: Wow!

Eleanor: When we go, don’t look at the names. Just tell me which one is your favorite. Then I’ll tell you which one is mine.

SUPER plan…

 

February 4

7:37 p.m.

I’m helping George with math and one of the problems was:

33 – 18 =

This is the first time I’ve had to deal with 3 – 8 and had no idea how they’re doing this now… George didn’t know the strategy either, so I ultimately just had to teach him the method I learned in school (borrow a 1…3 becomes 2…13 – 8…then 2 – 1…)

I’M SURE there is a new strategy for this…so I circled the question and told George to explain to his teacher that I only know one way to do it and that she’ll have to walk him through anything new.

George’s response: “I’ll just tell her you showed me the ‘classic’ way to do it.”

Feeling very vintage…

 

February 6

6:38 p.m.

I’ve decided that if I had to write a memoir based on the chronic state of my house it would be titled, “My Life In Dog Hair.”

 

February 7

4:22 p.m.

Back at the Kennedy Center, waiting in line to get our Gigi poster signed because OF COURSE WE ARE. (No – we did not see the show a second time. I wish!)

IMG_1350

IMG_1359

9:27 p.m.

George: Mom – what do think is better: my brain or my teeth?

Me: Uh… Well, I’d say they’re both exceptional… But your BRAIN is responsible for all of your fantastic ideas.

George: So you pick brain.

Me: Fine. If I HAD to pick, I’d say brain.

George: So it’s okay if I never brush my teeth again.

Nice try.

 

February 8

7:34 p.m.

Working on what just may be the most repulsive “Valentimes” I’ve ever seen (gummy Krabby Patties – shudder).

IMG_13668:04 p.m.

I got to cuddle this today. (I mean the baby – not the sign.)

LTYM baby

February 17

8:55 a.m.

George: Mom! I just saw this commercial that said there are these cell phones that can save you a million dollars and I just don’t think that’s true.

Me: I don’t think so either.

George: Yeah. Because there’s ONLY a thousand dollars in the state.

Me: The state?

George: Of Virginia.

Me: Where did you come up with that number?

George: I researched it. In my brain.

Can’t imagine working with THAT card catalog. Assuming there is no Dewey Decimal System involved…

10:47 a.m.

Just saw the following subject line in my e-mail box:

“Blog Idea: Why Dirt is Critical to our Kid’s Health!”

Grammatical errors aside, I feel very validated. I KNEW there was a reason why Oliver is my healthiest child.

 

February 18

7:36 a.m.

Sometimes it really annoys me how these kids don’t get my Grease II references…

9:42 a.m.

George: Mom! You want to know what the C word means in a bad way?

Me: No.

George: No – I mean in a “bad way.”

Me: Still no.

George: But MOM…

Me: Fine – what does it mean?

George: Fart.

Me: What is the C word?

George: C-R-A-…

I really keep overestimating their knowledge of “bad words.”

1:53 p.m.

Eleanor has never heard the song, “I Got You Babe” before so I showed her this Sonny & Cher video on YouTube. Her response: “Can I watch All About that Base now?” #‎kidstoday‬


10:06 p.m.

The only thing that makes me feel older than witnessing the 40th anniversary of Saturday Night Live is remembering that I used to have the 15th recorded on a VHS tape.

 

February 19

5:21 p.m.

Current favorite thing: my kids singing, “this is that ice cold Michelle Pfeiffer that white gold.”

5:51 p.m.

George: Mom is there such a thing as cloud constellations?

Me: you mean cloud formations?

George: No – constellations. I see one out the window.

Me: You do?

George: Yes! It’s a crown. A girl wearing a crown on her head.

Me: That sounds pretty.

George: Yeah – but now it looks like a donkey chasing an egg.”

#‎traffictalk‬

 

February 20

9:23 a.m.

This may just be the snow day cabin fever talking…but those Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies are pretty funny.

11:21 a.m.

There are boys running around my house playing some kind of hide and seek/chase game that I can’t figure out. Just heard the youngest yell, “I’m going to aim for the middle of the neck!”

I don’t even want to know…

11:53 a.m.

Officially beyond empty threats. Just halfheartedly yelling things like, “if I hear screaming, I’m going to be mad…” – then ignoring the screams. I’m pretty sure they know I’ve given up.

3:18 p.m.

Then I got this e-mail and decided to drastically limit the time George has access to my phone…

minecrap

February 22

10:42 a.m.

Stephanie Stearns Dulli and I are so incredibly excited to announce the 2015 Listen to Your Mother DC cast! Mark your calendars for May 3rd!

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February 24

12:45 p.m.

Co-pilot courtesy of Eleanor. #‎ThisCloseToSettingItFree‬

10991163_10205037202664566_2425962767072193292_n5:07 p.m.

Me: Eleanor – why don’t you start your homework?

Eleanor: I have a math worksheet, but I don’t think you’ll understand it. So I’m just going to do it with Ms. Edwards.

Me: I could look at it. I might understand it.

Eleanor: No – you definitely won’t understand it.

So I guess we’ll all in the know regarding my lack of math skillz…

 

February 26

8:10 a.m.

Oliver: Mom, can I have Girl Scout cookies?

Me: Oh…sure. It’s a snow day.

Oliver: Can I have two?

Me: Yes. [then seeing what he actually has in his hands…] Wait – no! Not two BOXES!

#‎PleaseGoToSchool‬

12:52 p.m.

In honor of the snow day, I’m having a glass of wine with my lunch. And by “lunch,” I mean cheese.

 

February 28

8:10 a.m.

Sometimes I wonder if the hermit crabs are happy. Sometimes I wonder when they’ll just die already. Mixed feelings about our hermit crabs…

3:55 p.m.

Making the bed, I can’t decide which annoys me more…Alice’s dirty paw prints on the coverlet or Chris’ sock lumps. #‎livingwithanimals‬

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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.

IMG_1169

 

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.

IMG_1192

 

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

1

 

January 17

3:28 p.m.

For that special nun in your life?

IMG_11996:00 p.m.

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…

IMG_12116:33 p.m.

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.

IMG_1212

 

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.

IMG_1257

 

January 22

5:11 p.m.

Co-pilot

IMG_1275

 

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!

They Coulda’ Been Great – December 2014

Happy New Year! I’m hoping to write a bit more this year – but for now, here is a look back at our December on Facebook. (What is this? All answers are HERE.)

 

December 2

8:28 a.m.

All I have to say is THANKGOD “Movember” is over! Oliver looked ridiculous.

IMG_0837

 

December 5

7:34 a.m.

I just had to explain what rubber cement is to my kids. Is that still a thing?

 

December 7

6:06 pm

This one may kill me.

IMG_0940

 

December 11

10:14 p.m.

I’m only hyperventilating a little bit…

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December 14

6:57 p.m.

Twins are playing Uno in the other room…

What I heard: “You’re a honkey…[a minute later] Cracker!”

What they actually said [disclosed upon inquiry]: “You’re a donkey…[a minute later] Cracker! [as in Nutcracker]

#‎redneckchristmas‬?

 

December 15

5:23 p.m.

Eleanor, in the midst of a rare but epic tantrum:

“I hate homework! I hate school! I hate EVERYTHING! …well not really everything, but mostly.”

Even when she’s being unreasonable, she defaults to practical.

7:08 p.m.

Chris thought this was hilarious. The kids agreed. I’m just looking forward to having my powder room back tomorrow…

IMG_09987:17 p.m.

Forgot to post my tree “after” (and no filter!). The kids tried to help for a while, but George and his friend complained that Eleanor was too bossy (just like her Mom!), Eleanor tripped on a floor grate and sustained enough scrapes and bruising to be benched for the evening (karma?), Oliver was oblivious to me rearranging all of his precarious ornament placements (just like his Dad!) and I handled damage control the next day while they were at school. As it should be.

tree after

 

December 16

8:08 a.m.

George: Okay! Who wants to hear my nose fart?

#‎morningbanter‬ ‪#‎boys‬

5:48 p.m.

One of my sister wives, Cathy Trocchia asked if I could pick her four year old up at preschool today. Since it was my first time there, I attracted a bit of attention from the other kids. Most just stared, but one bold little gal marched over and asked, “Mary Catherine, is that your grandma?”

Of course, I thought this was hysterical. So later I told MY children that I had the funniest story to tell them. When I finished, no one laughed.

Kids are fun.

 

December 17

8:33 p.m.

Life with boys.

IMG_1026

 

December 18

5:47 p.m.

Oliver’s new favorite game: wrapping himself in a blanket and lying on the front steps, pretending to be an orphaned baby left at our door.

It would be helpful if he let me know WHEN he’s going to do this…

 

December 20

8:33 a.m.

Oliver: Mom – can you put shirts in my drawer?

George: All that’s in my drawers is belts.

The current state of unfolded laundry in my house…

7:32 p.m.

Chris and I are having a drink at a bar before a party. He tried to take a selfie of us and blinded himself with the flash. #‎old‬

9:24 p.m.

Me: That is NOT how I remember it.

Chris: Well your memories are boring.

Me: I remember places we went and people we saw and things that happened.

Chris: Exactly.

 

December 21

1:57 p.m.

Hey – this is exciting! My 2014 reading is on the Listen to Your Mother site today! None of my 8-9 year olds are willing to give up the magic yet…neither am I.

 

December 23

5:31 p.m.

My father asked me if could figure out if his ringer was on. No dice, but I may have deleted his voice mail greeting in all the button pushing. You’d think I never owned one of these things before. Anyway – we finally decided that I could just call him to see if his phone rang. THEN after that mystery was solved, he said I’d better try Mom’s since they couldn’t remember if they had packed it. Thus concludes act one of “A Visit From My Parents.”

IMG_1037

 

December 24

9:47 a.m.

George drew me a game this morning. Full disclosure: his friend, Nathan showed it to him at school. Don’t want to be hit with any intellectual property lawsuits….

5:57 p.m.

Happy holidays Happy holidays28:31 p.m.

Just in case he isn’t sure…

IMG_1042

 

December 25

2:40 p.m.

We’re decorating gingerbread houses and I look over to see this going on with Oliver’s… When I ask him what happened to the snowman, he says, “I gave him angel wings.” Me: “Okay…I guess I can see that behind him…but, um…what is the red stuff?” Oliver: “He’s covered in tomato sauce!” — Of course. Like my little pacifist would ever think of killing a snowman. George is really liking this idea though, so I just made a new gingerbread decorating rule: no bloody snowmen.

IMG_10442:44 p.m.

George’s completed gingerbread house…

IMG_10452:47 p.m.

Thank god for Eleanor.

IMG_1048

 

December 26

12:46 p.m.

Every year I tell myself that I’m not going to overdo it with the Christmas candy. Then I remember the Hershey’s kisses in the kids’ stockings and how good they are when you put them in the freezer… Goddammit Santa!

 

December 29

7:26 p.m.

Eleanor got a kid’s karaoke machine for Christmas. It came with five free downloads, and it ONLY took me three days to figure out how to do this. We looked up her favorites, but her #1 choice, Roar, wasn’t available (what?!) Fortunately, we were able to find Pink’s So What and Raise Your Glass, Joan Jett’s I Love Rock n’ Roll, and Beyonce’s All the Single Ladies (thank you Chipettes for bringing your rendition into our lives four years ago). While we were perusing Beyonce, I spotted Irreplaceable and decided that we needed to pay for a 6th song. Now I just need everyone to go back to school… #‎EverythingYouOwnInTheBoxToTheLeft‬

9:06 p.m.

Some of my favorite pictures from the holiday. So hard to live on the other side of the country from as my parents.

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December 30

8:50 a.m.

Chris has a one-day work week. In on Monday and then home for the rest of the week. Which means my bed will remain unmade for the rest of the week. Because naps. ‪#‎sixdayweekend‬

10:47 a.m.

Annie, party of 12! Ran into neighbors at the concession stand. #‎suburbia‬

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No pictures were posted of our New Year’s Eve party with neighbors – we were having too much fun. Not EVERYTHING makes it onto Facebook, you know. Either way – December is over and we’re ready for the annual “do over” with resolutions galore. Wishing you and yours all the best in 2015 (both on AND off Facebook).

Boughs of Folly

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Isn’t that picture magical? It’s an old one – and one of my favorites.

We just got this year’s Christmas tree which looked like this for three days:

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It’s big. And it terrified me. Finally, last night I sucked it up and got some lights on it.

And it’s looking like I’m going to have to suck it up again and let the kids help me decorate it tonight. After nine and a half years of motherhood and never letting anyone (even my husband) help me decorate the tree, I think my time is officially up. Unless of course I want to ruin my daughter’s life and hear about it years from now in family therapy.

SO. A new chapter of my tree mania begins. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I actually combined several years’ worth of tree stories (all blog posts on TBPOC) in one essay that should at some point run in a holiday anthology (currently on hold). In the meantime, I thought I’d post it here to catch everyone up.

A little snippet of last night’s conversation to give you a taste of where this is going…

Chris: You are a psycho about the lights.

Me [lights wrapped around my neck like a Christmas version of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s…without the up do and cigarette]: No…I’m a psycho about the ornaments.

Happy holidays!

*****

Just so you know? I can decorate the hell out of a Christmas tree.

It’s one of my great talents in life, and every year my home is graced by yet another Christmas tree triumph. You are probably thinking that my family is very lucky to have this kind of genius on their side. But it’s unlikely that they would agree.

I take my tree very seriously. Maybe a little too seriously. Okay – maybe a lot too seriously. But you know how it is when someone has a problem…they need to want to get better before you can help them. And I have no interest in getting better. All I want is a perfect tree.

I have definite ideas about where the ornaments should be placed and how the various colors and styles should be distributed. I like things to be symmetrical. The only way to achieve the level of perfection I demand is to be very rigid and controlling, and even strategic about the tree decorating process. And believe me – I’ve got this covered.

Our family tree decorating tradition does not include the sound of laughter, storytelling and favorite Christmas carols. There are no childish squeals of delight when someone finds the perfect spot for that favorite ornament (okay – maybe a few, but only if I’m really excited). And there is no closing ceremony of a tiny hand placing our angel at the top.

Instead, there are two to three hours of lights detail with meticulous care taken to make the tree appear to glow from within. Unlimited time is devoted to the actual ornaments, though I do prefer to limit this to a 24 hour window. By then, I am ready for a final editing process, which if all goes well, takes less than an afternoon.

This is a strictly solo mission. Even my husband, Chris isn’t allowed to help. The first year we had a tree together, I had to linger behind him rearranging his bizarre ornament “clumps.” He may as well be one of the kids.

In our first few years as a family, it was easy enough to put babies in pack n’ plays and toss goldfish crackers at them as I pondered the finer points of mingling new ornaments with the antiques. But soon enough, I had talkers who watched holiday movies, and I was getting requests for tinsel and popcorn to string – neither of which would work with my own holiday aesthetic.

Finally, I just bought a fake tree from Target to suffer their enthusiastic pawing.

One complication to my new two-tree system was that my husband, Chris has a tradition of taking one child with him to the Christmas tree lot. And once they were old enough to want in on the decorating action, this practice began to cloud the whole “ownership issue.” Even after I thought I had appeased them with their very own “kids’ tree,” they’d saw mine come through the door and assumed they were on round two. Luckily, they have very short attention spans and after 10 minutes of watching me drape lights, everyone tends to get bored and wander off.

We live in a small townhouse, and typically get a six foot tree. But one year, our oldest son, Oliver imprinted on an ENORMOUS tree. The six-year old had found his tree soul mate and was adamant that no other tree would do. So I ended up with two extra feet of branches to decorate.

This may not sound like a lot, but that was one beast of a tree trimming project. I swear it kept getting bigger as I circled around it arranging lights. Then several strands blew out and I had to search for connections to remove them. And full of joyous holiday spirit, I alternated between internally swearing like a sailor and glaring at an infuriatingly jocular Chris, who was puttering around the kitchen, singing Santa Baby.

The minute I decided that the lights done, the children sensed my hand moving toward the ornament box and came at me like a pack of Christmas-obsessed velociraptors. I was able to fend them off with some candy canes, but it was a close call. Clearly, I had to wait until they were in bed before I continued.

So I finished the tree later, listening to holiday music and sipping wine with Chris. For a second he forgot that he had met me before and tried to help. But I put an end to that. I mean – that random ceramic chili pepper on the front of the tree? Do you see what I’m dealing with here?

The following year, it was my daughter, Eleanor’s turn to accompany Chris. As soon as her tree of choice was set up, we could see that it was undeniably crooked. This of course, is an ever-present risk since I have no control over what is selected (just a long list of requirements and deal breakers). But 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.

Once the lights were on and the kids were in bed, I decided there must be a way to make it appear straighter. I assumed Chris would be 100% on board with this additional adjusting, but he announced that it was “good enough” and turned in for the night.

Whatever. He was holding me back anyway. I stayed up to fight the good fight.

That tree almost fell on top of me at least three times, and it’s a miracle that my children didn’t find me trapped underneath it the next morning. But a few hours (and several emptied prescription bottles wedged in the tree stand) later, it looked marginally better. I decided that I had reached my own “good enough.” Before tidying up, I went into the kitchen to wash my hands 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 didn’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 replaced; and 30 minutes later, we had a very lovely, slightly crooked tree.

This new system of decorating trees in dark of night was exhausting. You would think I’d just give up and let my perfect Christmas trees devolve into chaos like the rest of my house. Not so much.

Last year, it was Eleanor’s twin brother, George who picked out the tree. He surprised us all by selecting a rather small one. Well – not exactly small…but much smaller than the six to eight foot trees his siblings had brought home. Apparently, he told the guy at the tree lot 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 buy a smaller stand. 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 stand straight and 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 decided I could at least tilt it in such a way that it looked straight…

It was midnight by the time I was done stringing lights, and I had to give up any hope of finishing. Unsurprisingly, the following morning was flooded with high pitched offers of help and ornament retrieval assembly lines. I have never been so happy to see the school bus.

After a busy day of running errands, I didn’t have much time before the children were due home. Luckily, with minutes to spare, I was able to tie the last ribbon and 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. Was this some kind of punishment for extreme Christmas tree hubris? No time for self-flagellation – 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.

“Later” ended up being close to 9:00 p.m. when the kids were sleeping soundly. I came downstairs with the intention of getting Chris to help me fix my injured baby. But before I had a chance to ask, he informed me that, “the tree fell again.” I must have blacked out, as I have no memory of the next 20 minutes.

Eventually, I rallied since failure is not an option. And just as I started collecting 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 and make it fit into our original, bigger stand.

After an hour of sawing, lifting, near misses with pine needle-blindings and just a little bit of swearing, 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 some deep breathing exercises and big picture priority checks to get myself to as serene a state of mind as I could possibly 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! That was it. I had officially exceeded my limit for Christmas tree decorating mania.

Of course Christmas is only once a year… And I have every expectation that we will embark on systematically re-enacting the entire process as soon as our Thanksgiving table is cleared.

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

*****

Epilogue: Chris and Eleanor picked out the tree. George didn’t want to leave a friend’s house, I was baking 2,000 cookies and Oliver wouldn’t go without me. So I couldn’t complain too much (out loud) about size. As soon as it’s decorated, I’ll post visuals. Of course.

They Coulda’ Been Great: November 2014

After promising myself that I’d post more, I proceeded to write two essays that I can’t publish here and then picked up a day job for several weeks (and NO – I can’t just write at night – that’s when Chris is around and he doesn’t like being ignored)…SO instead, here’s a short Facebook roundup for November. (What is this? All answers are HERE.)

 

November 1

11:15 a.m.

Halloween candy. It’s what’s for breakfast.

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8:37 p.m.

Me: Hi Oliver! Do you want a little ice cream?

Oliver: No. I want a lot of ice cream.

He is so my son…

 

November 2

11:10 a.m.

Eleanor: You know what I want to do all day?

Me: What?

Eleanor: Kit Kats.

#‎HalloweenAftermath‬

 

November 6

1:16 p.m.

Walking around Target today, I got my first blast of holiday aisle fever. Though the season won’t be in full swing for me until I purchase yet another holiday CD I don’t need.

#‎StillInThe90sWhatsAPlayList‬? ‪#‎ILoveTheSmellOfCinnamonStickInTheMorning‬

 

November 10

3:19 p.m.

The hubris of pre-ordering school portraits… He’s a Monchhichi! Note to self: no more summer buzz cuts after July 1…

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November 11

12:54 p.m.

Question: Where was Alice BEFORE she heard me coming up the stairs?

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November 15

10:21 a.m.

Three months after our Outer Banks vacation, I’ve come to the alarming realization that the hermit crabs may never die…

 

November 17

8:12 p.m.

Worked on a spelling list with George tonight. He had to use each word in a sentence – so first, we discussed what each word meant. “Blemish” was confusing for him. I finally explained that one definition for blemish is “pimple.” Here is the sentence he wrote:

“Mom has a blemish on her face.”

Can’t wait for his memoir…

 

November 20

9:31 a.m.

Dear Gray Hair,

Not yet.

Sincerely,
The Woman with Really Good Tweezers

 

November 22

7:04 p.m.

“Pretend fire right? Not real fire…”

A legitimate clarification in my house.

 

November 26

2:44 p.m.

So I just got in my car (which I must have left unlocked – shame on me!) after a quick grocery store run and found a King “NJOY” premium electronic cigarette on my seat. Looks like someone has a secret admirer…

who left this in my car8:10 p.m.

Oliver’s OT sent me the best e-mail last week about his practice writing. She said, “we were talking about Thanksgiving and I asked him if he would like to make a turkey or write about his Thanksgiving, he chose write and what you see is my writing at the top which is 100% his words with me scribing.” Writing may not come easily to him but I value his kind heart more than good penmanship. I love my little cheese eater! Happy Thanksgiving!

Oliver writing sample

 

November 29

6:21 p.m.

And just when I thought my dork factor couldn’t get any higher… At the advanced age of 42, I discovered that I like puzzles.

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And now onto my most favorite of commercial seasons…bring on the Christmas!