Tag Archives: Me Before Kids

They Coulda’ Been Great: February-April 2016

THREE months later…we have a lot of catching up to do. (What is this? All answers are HERE.)

 

February 4

3:00 p.m.

Eleanor on choosing valentines for her class:

“I have to find some with candy so I don’t disappoint people with tattoos or something…”

‪#‎toughcrowd

 

February 5

4:41 p.m.

Epic fail on cross country skiing today. We drove almost 3 hours to WV and 20 minutes into the trail, we had to admit defeat. It was like a sheet of ice – terrible for kids learning how (not to mention their mom who was a novice the last time she skied over 10 years ago). Even Chris who loves it, fell on an easy hill. I actually spent an inordinate amount of time lying next to Oliver in the snow trying to teach him how to get up without letting his skis slide forward. On the upside, think I could now easily teach an advanced “getting up clinic.”

The rest was 100% damage control. George believes us that it will be better when there is more snow on the ground. Eleanor manages an unenthusiastic “skeptical.” Oliver thinks we’re full of it.

I took this picture right after we gave up, jokingly telling everyone to smile and say, “we love skiing!” Oliver refused to play and his face pretty much sums up the day.

‪#‎OneMoreRunNOT‬

pic ski fail

7:40 p.m.

George: So Dad – Spanish is written in English. It just means different things.

Me: Yes – Spanish and English are written with the same alphabet.

I speak fluent George.

 

February 11

6:18 p.m.

Oliver is working on valentines for his class, and every time he looks up the next name on the list it goes something like this…

“Okay…’Christopher’…hey! I know him!”

Every single time.

For Oliver, life is one long string of delightful surprises.

 

February 13

8:39 a.m.

8:30 a.m., nowhere to go and it’s freezing outside…

Me: Why are you putting on your coat?

Oliver: So I can be a mysterious figure.

Me: A mysterious figure?

Oliver: With gloves.

Well, obviously with gloves…

 

February 14

10:46 p.m.

Alex Tudor: I’m starting to notice lines on my forehead.

Me: I don’t see them.

Alex: Really?

Me: No – but this is when you start to get “fine lines”. I mean, before the they get really deep and obvious.

Eleanor: Yeah – like Mom’s.

And she’s not even being a smart ass! Trying really hard not to feel like an old hag… Also – Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

February 17

7:14 p.m.

Chris just sent me this picture. Takeaways:

1. If Chris stays home from work and I am out for the day, the bed will never be made.

2. Alice really knows how to make herself comfortable in an unmade bed.

3. Alice may be possessed.

pic alice

 

February 19

8:42 p.m.

“You guys – we should start a band.”

-overheard in the next room #‎9YearOldGirlRiteOfPassage

 

February 28

7:58 a.m.

Me: Look! There’s a cardinal outside!

Eleanor: I see it.

Me: Oh wait – that’s not the one I saw. That’s a female. The males are bright red. There was a bright red one there a second ago. I guess there are two of them.

Eleanor: Maybe they’re…

Me: …a couple.

Eleanor: Or just mating.

Well – HELLO, Miss Sophisticated!

‪#‎CardinalsAndChill

 

February 28

8:58 a.m.

George: Mom – did you know that your stomach is the most powerful organ in your body?

Me: It is?

George: Yes. Because it produces acid, and acid can destroy anything.

#‎boybrain‬

 

March 1

12:05 p.m.

What a gorgeous day to get out and vote! Since the kids were home, Diane Cooper Gould and I took turns watching them outside. I had serious deja vu watching them play “throw the shoe” and realized that they did the same thing last time we voted. Also realized that I never actually asked them if they were throwing one of THEIR OWN shoes….and that they would make excellent child settlers out on the prairie. Who needs electronics when you can play catch with shoes or pig bladders or whatever.

 

March 4

5:58 p.m.

Friday happy hour at Diane Cooper Gould’s house and we (okay – Cathy Trocchia and I) just had a very animated (and completely serious) 20 minute discussion about vacuum cleaners. ‪#‎ThisIsMiddleAge‬ ‪#‎RetractableCords4Ever‬

 

March 7

8:25 a.m.

Look what I just found in George’s backpack….

How was he not “respecting each other and our teachers” and “controlling our bodies and our voices”?

“Slideing around the floor.”

What are some things he plans to do to make sure he continues to follow the “5 school rules”?

“Stop slide across the floor.”

My takeaway: how the hell does he know how to spell across?? It took me 10 years and auto-correct to master that particular C and S combination. Oh – and I’ll believe it when I see it.

pic school note

 

March 8

4:25 p.m.

Me: Sorry Oliver. I didn’t mean to snap at you. I’m just feeling frustrated.

Oliver: Don’t be frustrated. Be cheerful.

I’ve said it before…Oliver IS Buddy the Elf.

 

March 13

5:56 p.m.

My kind of party. And yes – it actually WAS a cat’s birthday party. Better yet? It wasn’t THAT cat’s birthday. It was a joint party for two other cats. Suburban night life is no joke. There has to be an Awkward Family Photos card in there…#‎HappyBirthdaytoSpike‬ ‪#‎HappyBirthdaytoHector‬ 

pic cat party

 

March 15

6:53 p.m.

George is in the corner watching YouTube videos…

George: “Kids react to Clash of Clans”??

Me: Is that an inappropriate video?

George: No Mom. It’s KIDS watching Clash of Clans. Not teenagers or adults or elders.

This put my mind at ease, as you know how inappropriate those “elders” can be…

 

March 17

12:49 p.m.

Finished watching the third season of House of Cards earlier this week, and haven’t been able to get the theme music out of my head. On the upside, it does add an element of drama to grocery shopping…

 

March 19

8:18 p.m.

If I had to write a book about my life right now, it would be titled, “I Don’t Love My New Vacuum – And Other First World Problems”.

 

March 20

11:10 a.m.

I really want to put away the snow pants, but the minute I do, we’ll get 3 feet of snow. ‪#‎NotTemptingFate

 

March 21

8:29 a.m.

Discussion while Eleanor and our five year old neighbor, Mary are making Easter cards…

Mary: When my brother was in my mother’s tummy, I wasn’t even invented yet.

Eleanor: Well, the name Mary was invented.

Mary: Yes! By the mother of God!

Me: That’s right! [Because in my house anything “cute” that comes out of a child’s mouth is automatically deemed true.]

Mary: Yeah – and a long time ago I used to talk to God every night.

Me: That’s nice.

Mary: Because I love him!

Me: Awwww.

Mary: Because he made cotton candy!

Not that this dialog is at all related our family’s heathen idolatry practice of worshiping chocolate bunnies….or wait – maybe it is…

9:32 a.m.

I’m trying to get some work done, but Mary (the five year old hanging out at my house) is bored. Eleanor is no help as she is now doing something very important on an electronic device…

Mary: I have nothing to do!

Me: [glancing up from the computer] Why don’t you practice sliding down the stairs on your tummy?

Eleanor: She’s already perfected that.

Mary: The rug burns on my stomach hurt.

Clearly, I missed my calling as a daycare service provider…

 

March 22

7:46 p.m.

George: Mom – can I ask you a question?

Me: Sure.

George: …No – wait. I’ll just tell you the answer.

I’m basically superfluous to our conversations.

 

March 26

1:13 p.m.

“Well – I’m not going to play into the drama…”

Things I say to nine year olds when I just don’t have the energy to come up with something age appropriate.

 

4:37 p.m.

Uncle Steve’s barn apartment/painting studio. AKA: one of the many living spaces I’m NOT responsible for cleaning this weekend. I love being a house guest…

pic barn

7:46 p.m.

My boys.

pic boys
8:42 p.m.

Uncle Steve gave the twins a painting lesson, but George had more answers than questions…

“French people use these.”

pic G painting

 

March 27

12:19 p.m.

Today after an Easter egg hunt in Uncle Steve’s barn apartment/painting studio I was looking at the art with George. I told him that I thought these two paintings (that happen to be in gold frames) are my favorites. So immediately, he exclaimed, “OH! Because they’re framed in GOLD.”

I started to reply, “well no – but now that you mention it…the frames do kind of confine them in a way that directs your focus to…” And he was already standing next to another painting, saying, “yeah – THIS baby needs a gold frame.”

George has this whole art thing figured out…#‎ItNeedsSomeBowsOrSomethin‬

pic gold frame 1

pic gold frame 2

1:56 p.m.

It’s after 1:00 on Easter and my boys are still in sweat pants. I assume there will be bribes/threats happening 10 minutes before company is due to arrive… Even then, Oliver will do something weird like insist on buttoning his polo shirt all the way up and George will still have THAT HAIR he has… It’s not easy being a girly, twirly-party-dress-wearing little girl at heart in this family.

pic boys easter

3:52 p.m.

First fancy Easter party in about 11 years!

pic kate

 

March 29

5:50 p.m.

Feeling very smug about not only remembering to take pictures this weekend, but actually handing the camera to someone else so I could be in a couple as well!

Did the Hood girls represent at the Fancy Easter Party?‪ #OHITHINKSO‬

pic girls

 

March 30

9:01 p.m.

Last week we were at some good friends’ house for their daughter’s birthday. There was ice cream cake and Oliver’s only complaint was that I wouldn’t let him have a second piece.

Eleanor was supposed to spend the night, but after a long day in DC, decided she wasn’t up to it. Her friend (also exhausted after a long day in DC) was crushed and needed some consoling. Oliver happened to be in the room where her mom brought her to talk. He asked what was wrong and the mom said, “well things aren’t turning out as she expected and she’s feeling a little sad.” My son said, “me too! I didn’t get another piece of cake.” From the other room I could hear low murmurs, and while the tears seemed to be slowing down, they hadn’t actually stopped. Then, during quiet pause, I heard Oliver offer some words of comfort: “well…I hope you get a pinata.”

If there are two things that boy loves on a birthday, it’s ice cream cake and a pinata. So that’s just what we did today after school for HIS ELEVENTH (someone pass the smelling salts) birthday. The kids on our block came over, and as soon as everyone scraped the last of the Carvel chocolate cookie crumbs from their plates, we pulled out the pinata.

Tonight after dinner, I let Oliver have a second piece of cake and decided that if I ever write a self help book, it will be titled, “I Hope You Get a Pinata.”

Happy birthday to my very first baby!

pic oliver

 

April 3

3:12 p.m.

This may be premature… But I’m starting to think that I MIGHT not win the 1 million dollars… #sadtrombone

pic mon

7:50 p.m.

This evening I got distracted by Facebook and burned the roast. To be categorized under “If social media existed in 1950’s sitcoms.”

 

April 5

7:46 a.m.

Some days, it’s hard to wake up. Other days, it’s hard to rise from the dead. Today would be the latter. No wonder zombies are so slow.

 

April 7

12:00 p.m.

Women my age look at pictures of ourselves from 25 years ago and say, “Oh my god! Look at how young I was! I was so pretty! Why did I think I was fat? I only wish I had that skin now…” Then other people look at those same pictures of us and say, “Oh my god! Look at your eyebrows!”

It’s all about the lens.

 

7:02 p.m.

Earlier today…

5 year old neighbor: Are you allergic to flowers?

Me: No. Why?

5 year old neighbor: [hands me a dandelion]

That kid says “your house smells bad,” to me on the regular…but she sure can be sweet sometimes.

8:00 p.m.

Eleanor is working on her math homework and it seems to involve figuring out patterns of numbers and placing them in boxes (it’s called “Magic Squares”)…

Chris: Hey that’s Sudoku.

Me: It is?

Chris: Yeah.

Me: So Sudoku is just math?

Chris: Yes.

Me: No wonder I never wanted to try Sudoku.

I fully embrace my gender stereotype…

 

April 13

10:38 a.m.

When something bad is about to happen in a book or movie you love, and every single time, you irrationally hope it won’t happen this time.

 

April 17

5:13 p.m.

Chris coaches George’s soccer team and they lost an important game today…

Eleanor: How was the game?

Chris: We lost.

Eleanor: What was the score?

Chris: 3:0

Eleanor: Eh. Pretty close.

THAT’S MY GIRL!

6:52 p.m.

“So Mom…if I wasn’t in this body…then someone else would be controlling this body.”

-Existential conversations with George

9:02 p.m.

Earlier when the kids were brushing their teeth, I overheard Eleanor say, “remember to floss, boys.”

She’s raisin’ ’em right!

 

April 19

8:48 a.m.

Once George’s hair gets aerodynamic, I know it’s time to cut it.

pic G

 

April 20

6:39 p.m.

“We’re NOT late – you still have one minute to change.”

Another leisurely arrival at swim class! Hey – just doing my part. These kids’ anxiety issues aren’t going to create themselves…

6:53 p.m.

2 bottles of wine, a bag of Smart Food popcorn, a reusable water bottle (hidden) and a package of straws. In case you wanted to know what happens when I go shopping without a list…

pic shopping

 

April 22

8:46 a.m.

Since we’re all sharing Prince stories… I was once lucky enough to score two tickets to the Purple Rain concert. Meaning MY FATHER who worked in advertising and had radio station clients was able to score two tickets to the Purple Rain concert. Meaning, HE had to take me – a seventh grader at the time – to the Purple Rain concert. I’m sure he too has fond memories of the concert…especially that part where Sheila E., who opened for Prince pulled a man from the audience and simulated oral sex on him while singing Next Time Wipe the Lipstick Off Your Collar. #‎MagicalChildhoodMemories‬

pic prince

 

April 26

7:47 a.m.

Eleanor: Mom – do you think when I grow up, I’ll have E.T. hands like you?

It may be time to dial back the self deprecatory humor around my kids…

 

April 28

10:58 p.m.

Someday when it’s not relevant anymore, I will master emojis. But for now I just think, “why so much produce?” Is there really ever a text that calls for corn?

 

They Coulda’ Been Great: December 2015-January 2016

Running a little late with the TCBG…like a month late! At any rate, here is December/January! (What is this? All answers are HERE.)

 

December 1

6:17 p.m.

George: Mom – did you know that you can eat cardboard?

Me: What? No you can’t. Never eat cardboard.

George: No – Mom – it’s edible.

Me: Who told you that?

George: Mom! It really is – you can eat it. It’s made of fat.

Me: First of all – you can eat anything if you put it in your mouth and swallow it. But eating cardboard would probably make you very sick. Second – it’s not made of fat (which is totally gross as far as eating goes anyway). Cardboard is made of the same stuff as paper.

George: So you can eat it – but it will make you sick. BUT you CAN’T eat a raccoon.

Me: Well – technically, I guess you can if you cook it…

George: But you DEFINITELY can’t eat a live raccoon.

So glad we cleared this up.

 

December 2

9:16 p.m.

“So I believe in Santa and all that…but I don’t believe thw part about kids having to be good to get presents. I think that’s something parents made up.”

-George Hood – as cynical as it suits him

 

December 3

8:57 a.m.

Invention idea! Locks for coat zippers. Parents would pay big money for this…

4:31 p.m.

5 year old neighbor to other kids outside: Santa’s not real!

Me: [5yo’s name]! Don’t say that!

5yo: But he’s NOT real.

Me: Well – I’ll tell you something [5yo’s name]…when you stop believing in Santa? That’s when he stops bringing you presents.

5yo: Okay – I believe in Santa.

#‎StayGoldPonyboy‬

 

December 4

7:27 a.m.

George: Mom – do I have the brownest eyes in our family?

Me: Yes – actually, you do.

George: Yeah – because they’re REALLY dark brown. Maybe I could win the world record for dark eyes. Or MAYBE there isn’t one and I can start it!

All roads lead to the Guinness Book of World Records. If the brown eyes thing doesn’t work out, he’s told me about one involving putting 70 post it notes on his face. ‪#‎It‬‘sOn

 

December 6

4:23 p.m.

Weekend trip to see family with a day trip to NYC to check out the holiday sparkle. For the most part it was a lot of getting crushed in crowds – but I still loved being in my favorite city…

You can’t see the ice skaters in Rockefeller Center (and two of us are rocking the double chin look big time) but we’re ALL in the picture! #miracle

First actual train ride (NJ to NYC).

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Rock Center tree.

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You can’t see the ice skaters in Rockefeller Center – but we’re ALL in the picture.

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Rock climbing in Central Park.

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Q: Kids – what was your favorite thing about NYC today?

A: The rocks!

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Naked Cowboy siting in Times Square.

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Photo op on the walk back to Penn Station.

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December 9

8:00 p.m.

I’ve decided that 85% of parenting involves explaining things that I barely understand myself.

 

December 10

6:15 p.m.

Some families treat a power outage as an opportunity to disconnect from electronics and social media and do fun group activities like playing board games by candlelight. My family panics and considers eating each other. So I guess we’re somewhat prepared for the zombie apocalypse…

 

December 12

10:13 a.m.

Power is out again – so obviously it’s time to play with the lantern. #‎HeIsET

IMG_3616

 

December 14

8:24 p.m.

Epic #‎vantler fail. The twins and I bought them while Oliver was at his swim lesson and had them all set up for the ride home. While in the car, I noticed a whistling noise (they attach to the car windows) and pressed the button to make sure our front windows were as “up” as they could get. But I DIDN’T make them go up. I somehow made them GO DOWN [because I am a giant dork with no sense of direction, even when it comes to automatic windows]. At this moment our vantlers are lying in the road somewhere on Fairfax County Parkway. So of course I had to promise to buy a new set tomorrow. If you are at the Sterling Party City and see a white car with a big red Rudolf nose and no antlers, make sure to say hello.

No idea what vantlers are? Watch this.

 

December 15

4:13 p.m.

Back in business. #‎vantlers‬

IMG_3621

 

December 16

10:54 a.m.

“I don’t want to jinx us, but this is the easiest tree we’ve ever had…no branch sawing…no hours of trying to make it look straight in the stand…” Then Chris said, “SHUT UP!”

But no – I could not be quiet in my own head. I marveled over how letting the kids help this year was far less painful than I expected (yes – they are 9-10 years old and I have never let them help before). I mean – it was a little panic inducing to see them putting the nicest, most breakable ornaments at the bottom and placing the heaviest ornaments at the veeeeery tippy tip of a branch. But I was able to stay on top of damage control and was so focused on maintaining some semblance of order that it seemed to take a lot less time than it usually does.

And it’s really a PERFECT tree. I was about to post about it earlier this morning, but then I heard, “um mom – look at the tree…” Of course, half the lights had blown out. Of course. Because of my Christmas tree hubris. Luckily, the kids had to leave for school shortly after that, so I only had to do deep breathing exercises for 15-20 minutes while they whirled around me in the usual morning frenzy. I found the problem strand and replaced it (after removing all of the ornaments in that section of the tree because I wrap the shit out of those branches!)

The world can now un-pause since our tree is back to it’s original glory. In fact – it’s even better! Here is a picture. Expect me to post about 500 more over the next week. Also – if you are into anthologies, I have an essay about my Christmas tree travails in Mom for the Holidays. Check it out if you like humorous stories about grinchy tree-hoarding mothers who are paid back big time with pretty much anything that could possibly go wrong with a Christmas tree…except fire. We’ve never experienced fire. Of course, now that I’ve said it…

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December 18

2:20 p.m.

Two things people in Safeway heard me say to my three kids plus two friends:

“No wrestling in the wine aisle!”

“Why does everything have to be a penis?”

Then in response to the cashier who asked if they are all mine:

“Just this one and the two on the floor.”

We’re like a walking birth control ad.

 

December 21

9:38 a.m.

“Wait! So you don’t have to kiss ABOVE the mistletoe…”

-George Hood, always looking for loopholes

3:37 p.m.

I may actually be DONE with any and all holiday shopping. This is unprecedented. It’s also probably a cruel illusion that will be shattered December 24th when I realize I forgot something… In the meantime – happy holidays everyone!

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December 24

1:17 p.m.

If being controlling about about how presents are placed under the tree and hiding the messy looking ones in the back is wrong…I don’t want to be right.

 

December 25

8:05 a.m.

Aging perk: Christmas is no longer about wanting things and looking for MY presents under the tree. It’s about making magic for my family. And eating my feelings.

Merry Christmas!

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8:14 a.m.

George: Mom – what if you got a baby for Christmas?

Me: I don’t think it works that way, George. You have to be pregnant for a while first.

George: Okay – what if you were, but then during the night, Santa gave you surgery?

#‎AlienAbductionChristmas‬

 

December 26

10:40 a.m.

I had two errands to run this morning: bring a silk blouse to the dry cleaner and exchange a defective talking Yoda head at Target. Ran into the dry cleaner first, but when when I tried to put my silk blouse on the counter, I found I was holding a talking Yoda head. #‎ChristmasHangover‬

12:57 p.m.

Just figured out how to get the ringer to work on this dinosaur for my Dad. Am genius.

IMG_3645

 

December 30

10:04 p.m.

If the tree wasn’t a complete fire hazard by January 1…HELLSYEAH!

Mary

 

December 31

10:26 a.m.

For dogs, every day is Sunday.

IMG_3652

10:20 p.m.

“Stop running!”
“Stop bumping into each other!”
“Stop pretending to be ‘fancy waiters’!”

-Things I yell at my sons when they carry plates of cookies to a neighborhood New Year’s party.

 

January 2

11:23 a.m.

Bye holiday season. Sniff sniff.

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January 3

3:51 p.m.

Happy birthday to my amazing Mom! If there were a pageant for “Prettiest Pilgrim,” the 1972 crown surely would have been hers…

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January 5

7:12 p.m.

“Mom! I made up a constellation. It’s a horse – but the feet are missing. I also made up a little face.”

-George Hood, stargazing

 

January 10

8:27 a.m.

“Hey! Let’s do human dominoes!”

-Things I overhear five minutes before bus pick up on Monday mornings…

 

January 11

8:53 p.m.

Being on social media means that you might be late for a doctor’s appointment because your friend tagged you in a post involving Liam Neeson and you had to google him to double check how old he was in Rob Roy so you could reply…or something.

 

January 13

7:20 p.m.

I’m not completely sure, but I think my laptop battery just died. OR my laptop just died. Either way – it’s my only home computer, so I guess work won’t be possible this evening [opens bottle of wine…]

 

January 14

6:10 p.m.

Leaving in three minutes for the Twins’ third grade strings concert. Oliver keeps calling it “the violin contest.” I keep picturing The Devil Went Down to Georgia.

If only…

 

January 21

3:49 p.m.

Some people get excited about big snow storms with school cancellations and fun filled days of sledding and baking cookies with their kids. I am not one of those people.

7:49 p.m.

Okay – I am coming to terms with this whole being buried under snow thing – but now I’m hearing about expected power outages. Seriously considering packing up the kids and checking into a hotel. I am not cut out for apocalyptic conditions…forget about zombies – once the power is gone, I’m out.

 

January 22

2:44 p.m.

Experiencing nostalgia for last weekend when not only were we not expecting to be trapped in our house for days, we actually skipped up to NJ to spend the long weekend with Aunt Jan. Liberty Science Center on Sunday and then NYC on Monday (American Museum of Natural History and then Central Park rocks – of course). Helps me not feel guilty for the last two days of depressive sloth. I’m now resigned to the idea of a snow storm – but for the next 48 hours I will be somewhat preoccupied, bending the universe to my will that we NOT LOSE POWER. As I have mentioned a time or 20, I’m not made for apocalyptic living. But back to my fond memories of last weekend…

Liberty Science Center

Wow! Fish! So exciting – almost like we’re at Petco or something!

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This turtle was 100 times better at posing for photos than my children.

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Rock walls are hard. For me. Not so much for Eleanor.

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“Oliver – take off your hood!” “George – put on your coat!” “Eleanor – stop acting so grumpy!” No one ever listens to me…but this one was pretty cute. (In Eleanor’s defense – she claimed to have a cracker in her mouth and couldn’t smile. I’ll take it.)

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Museum of Natural History

Night at the Museum star sighting. You can’t walk 10 feet in NYC without bumping into a celebrity…. — at American Museum of Natural History.

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Dinosaurs!

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MORE dinosaurs! Travel tip: when you go to a museum, specifically to see dinosaur bones, make sure to see everything else first so that by the time you get to the bones, everyone is over it and wants to leave.

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No really, Mom – can we leave now?
Also – I think George is giving me the finger.

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Central Park

We found the bridge where the pigeon lady lived in Home Alone 2! It doesn’t get any more glamorous than this. #NYCBaby

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Pigeon lady bridge take 2.

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Race to the rocks! George got there first (top of the world, Ma!)

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There is no such thing as too many rocks to climb…

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She NEVER poses for me anymore (willingly)! Central Park bring out the best in us I guess. Also – where the f*#k are we? #intothewoods

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Right before we realized we were on the wrong side of Central Park. #NoInternalGPS .

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It’s getting darker (and colder) and it’s really time to leave the park. It will probably be a 20 minute walk across…so obviously time to wrestle and give piggy back rides.

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January 23

10:57 a.m.

Thigh high snow and it’s not stopping until tonight…

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11:19 a.m.

First thing you do when you go outside to play in the snow right? Epilogue: two seconds later, the snow plow arrived and sent them scrambling for the sidewalk (or where the sidewalk usually is).

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11:24 a.m.

Alice waded out, but decided this was a bit beyond her frolicking abilities. #‎NoIditarodDreamsForThisMutt‬

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4:44 p.m.

“Before you walk one step further, shake the snow off of your coat, pants and head!” #‎AbominableSnowOliver‬

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January 29

10:51 a.m.

Oliver: Mom – I need some explosive materials.

Me: No more YouTube

Also – I really need them to go back to school…

 

January 30

8:08 p.m.

George: Eleanor – give me a scale of how many times you’ve coughed. 1:1 [one to one].

#‎statistics‬ ‪#‎somehowthismakessensetohim‬

They Coulda’ Been Great: October 2015

October was a pretty big month for us – started with a road trip to Rhode Island for a wedding and ended with Halloween. Here is this, that, and everything in between. (What is this? All answers are HERE.)

 

October 2

7:18 p.m.

Leaving town with the kids for a road trip. Five minutes in, the subject of bucket lists comes up and I have to explain what they are…

George: Oh yeah – I have one of those. But I pretty much completed it.

Me: You did?

George: Except for one thing.

Me: What’s that?

George: Getting an iPad.

Oliver: And I want a big bag of Cheetos.

George: OH! And can I add going to Orlando? There is a Harry Potter roller coaster there that’s the best roller coaster in the world. Orlando: Home of the Best Roller Coasters.

We are simple folk with simple dreams…

 

October 3

10:14 p.m.

Settling in at our hotel after a rehearsal dinner (just the kids and me in RI this weekend)…

Me: That was a pretty long day.

Eleanor: Yeah – but it was fun.

Me: We all make a pretty good team, huh?

Eleanor: Eh.

Me: You don’t think so?

Eleanor: Oh Mom…you make it all happen.

Well Eleanor – that’s because I’m…

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October 4

7:42 a.m.

George: Mom. You know, when I was sleeping? I think I got a glimpse of the future…

Epilogue – It ended up being something about Minecraft.

6:08 p.m.

“Am I holding this right?” We’re all fancy at weddings.

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Okay ONE more picture. #‎flowergirl‬

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Not 100% about the tie…

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October 5

12:45 p.m.

Was running low on gas and when I looked to see what exit was coming up, it was New Rochelle and Pelham. So obviously…10 minutes later…

Where I lived in Pelham from age 2 to 8 (edited to mute the hideous blue/green color – used to be so much prettier!)

IMG_3348Our old pizza place around the corner from the Pelham house.

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October 6

2:05 p.m.

Then and now (my old Pelham house). Sorry – feeling nostalgic.

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October 10

1:43 p.m.

Dear whomever invented these festive 3-D foam crafts: there is a very special corner made of flimsy foam that collapses every five seconds reserved for you in HELL.

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October 12

5:35 p.m.

I think I’m finally mastering emojis. It now takes me no more than 3 minutes to find one that applies to what I want to say. 😀 If you do not understand emojis – that one means “happy”. I think. Yay emojis!

 

October 14

10:37 p.m.

If you are not watching American Horror Story – Hotel, you should know that “skinny jeans are out, fringe is in and ponchos are forever.” New season is pretty good so far…

 

October 15

6:26 p.m.

George is doing a geography homework sheet on hemispheres…

George: Mom! Some people in my class aren’t going to be able to do this worksheet. It’s going to be too hard for them. Even their parents won’t be able to figure it out!

Me: Why?

George: Because they celebrate Hanukkah and other stuff and they don’t know about the North Pole!

Eleanor: Everyone knows about the North Pole George.

George: NO. Not everyone celebrates the same religions!

I tried to explain that just because Santa lives at the North Pole, it doesn’t mean that other people in the world who don’t celebrate Christmas wouldn’t know where it is. He’s still not buying it.

Also – it seems that Christmas is our heathen family’s “religion.” Please don’t judge.

 

October 18

5:43 p.m.

I just realized that the twins turned nine on October 9th and I said NOTHING about it on Facebook. That’s like the social media equivalent of disowning them, right? I’d post a picture from the day, but I DIDN’T TAKE ANY. Worst mom ever. Also guilty, so a belated happy birthday to my babies! I couldn’t adore them more.

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October 19

11:30 a.m.

“Mom. This is my tactic for buying a house: not too good, because then you won’t have enough money. But not too bad, because then you won’t have a happy life.”

-George Hood, future realtor

8:27 p.m.

Eleanor got a microscope for her birthday…

Eleanor: Mom – what’s a paramysiam?

Me: What? Oh! You mean a paramecium?

Eleanor: Yeah! What is it?

Me: …um…something from Science?

So I’m basically worthless. #‎AskDaddy‬

 

October 20

12:24 p.m.

My Alex sent me this cropped image and begged (yes – actually begged) me to make it my profile. First I said, “hahaha. no.” But since I look like Tom Cruise from Risky Business, I’m going to take his friend, Booger’s advice (okay – that guy was Booger in Revenge of the Nerds – can’t remember his name in Risky Business) and say “What the F…”

12107049_10206712593948301_8044938428505835291_nThe resemblance is eerie…

12096284_10206712602708520_1353894722220645132_n7:07 p.m.

Waiting his turn for the barber. Oliver has “Lego hair” and tomorrow is picture day!

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October 22

9:03 a.m.

It must be really annoying to be named Stan. People would always be saying “what’s the plan Stan?” to you. Feeling grateful to be named Kate. #‎blessed‬

7:04 p.m.

George is on my computer doing school stuff for fun! Chris looks over his shoulder and says, “cool map!” George says, “yeah – I’m working on a project with my friends.” Chris asks, “really? What about?” George says, “horrible disasters in the world.” Should I assume this is the precursor to his “goth phase”? Also – how talented is he, multi-tasking with that ice cream cone??

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October 23

11:12 a.m.

Just looked at my phone, and realized that I’ve been wandering the aisles at Target for over an hour. Clearly, I have experienced lost time. What aliens put all of this crap in my cart??

 

October 24

1:36 p.m.

Me: Oliver – what are you doing?

Oliver: Oh – just talking to the chocolate.

Obviously.

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October 27

8:59 p.m.

So cold that I’m wearing my matching fleece pajama bottoms and robe. I call it my winter tuxedo. Never goes out of style.

 

October 30

4:57 p.m.

At the advanced age of 43, I just carved my first pumpkin! Felt this level of smugness called for an Instagram post. ‪#‎instabrag‬

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October 31

9:58 a.m.

Me: Oliver – what are you doing?

Oliver: I’m teaching my class. [see candy lined up on the left]

Never a dull moment, shopping with that one…

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Day of The Dead sugar skull twins have started to put on their faces. Countdown to candy time!

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Now that trick or treating is over, I have time to post a few pictures! First Oliver – who doesn’t look anything like himself with vampire makeup and fangs. Also – he’s a ridiculous ham.

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George allowed me to drag him outside for a quick photo. Didn’t realize about the socks until after the fact. Pictures where you can’t see kids’ faces are always kind of weird.

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Eleanor gets a gallery because the makeup Alex did was AMAZING. Love my Sugar Skill Twins!

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And as usual – a group photo fail. But I’m posting it anyway. Goodnight Halloween!

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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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They Coulda’ Been Great: July 2013

Another month has passed and exactly 0 blog posts have been written. Some good Facebook activity of course! So here are the “coulda’ been’s” (no idea what I’m talking about? Explanation HERE.)

July 1

3:30 p.m.

Earlier at the pediatrician, Eleanor suggested that doctors look in your ears so they could see your brain. I explained that they wanted to see your eardrums and the other parts that helped you hear. George enthusiastically agreed, “yeah – that’s why they’re called HEARdrums, because they help you HEAR!” then he asked me when they would take us to the teleportation room. What?!

July 3

9:00 a.m.

For everyone who asked about what I got at Zoe Boutique yesterday… Alice & Trixie top (on sale!) and Red Engine boot cut jeans. Necklace and earrings from my own “collection” (i.e. junk).

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July 3

6:50 p.m.

Diane Cooper Gould just explained the difference between pole dancer outfits and stripper outfits to me.

Uh huh.


July 4

9:10 a.m.

Eleanor on her fear of fireworks: “I wish there was a different way to celebrate the earth!”

She thinks the Fourth of July is Earth Day. Another nail in the coffin of my homeschooling potential…

5:32 p.m.

Inconvenient? Yes. Frustrating? Totally. Yet. There is something very freeing about the camera battery dying.


July 6

3:50 p.m.

First French braid! Obviously by a mother who doesn’t “do hair…”

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8:10 p.m.

Did you know that in “Swimbabwe” Africa, there are giant spiders? This is true. George told me.


July 7

4:40 p.m.

Me: No running! You can run in the gym, but not in the hallway.

Eleanor: Can we skip?

I love kids.


July 8

8:25 a.m.

Poor Oliver starts summer school today. We’re calling it “camp school.” He’s not buying what we’re selling…

3:20 p.m.

If your daughter gets a bloody nose in the car, and you don’t have any tissues, napkins or any other forms of paper products, what do you hand her as an emergency substitute? A tampon. Obviously.

10:10 p.m.

Reading the first book of Game of Thrones and it makes me feel like I’m a teenager who has hours to lie on my stomach on my bed, ankles crossed, until I feel like rolling onto my back and reaching for a chocolate chip cookie. To think that I used to consider that time, “being bored.” I miss 14.


July 9

7:30 p.m.

My kids just got their first official chain letter in the mail. I know – the mail?! Who the hell communicates via U.S. Postal Service anymore (other than lawyers and grandma of course)? Well if the chain letter involves mailing stickers to friends, then snail mail it is! And if I was thinking of possibly stashing the letter in in the trash before the kids had a chance to see it…here is the last line: “Please take the time for this quick project. It is worth it to see the smile on your child’s face when they open their mail.” Thanks for the emotional black[chain]mail [letter] Lita! Enjoy neighbors!

7:43 p.m.

Also – I had to explain chain mail that doesn’t happen via e-mail to my 21 year old babysitter. Feeling old…


July 11

9:55 a.m.

Just caught a vicious mosquito in my bare hand. Torn between revulsion and triumph.


July 14

4:45 p.m.

Nothing like listening to your six year old daughter singing Daft Punk in the back seat: “We’re up all night to get lucky…”

8:45 p.m.

Oliver: I’m going upstairs to play with my string.

Did I mention my son is a kitty cat?


July 16

7:57 p.m.

“Just keep on doing it! Then you’ll did it!”

Wise words from George.


July 17

8:22 p.m.

It just occurred to me that Danny, Uncle Jessie and Uncle Joey in season one of Full House are probably a full decade younger than I am now.

That’s depressing…


July 21

8:02 a.m.

Went to the Simply Om launch party last night and have now picked out birthday presents for the next 10 years. Wonder if Kiran does registries…

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simply om necklace

11:19 a.m.

Woods walk with a friend. And jazz hands…

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2:43 p.m.

Just hurt my back vacuuming. Officially old.


July 23

9:17 a.m.

On the walk to camp this morning…

George: This used to be England right?

Me: No – England “claimed” this land but this was never actually England.

George: OH right – so the English guys had a war and then they won and then they had freedom.

Me: Hmmm. That’s mixing a few things up… But you know who was here first?

George: Who?

Me: The Indians. Remember? England “discovered” this land and claimed it, but there were already people living here and THEY thought it was THEIR land. And in all honesty, they were right.

Eleanor: But that was a long time ago – so it’s not our fault. We can’t do anything about it now.

Me: Nope. We just have to live with the aftermath.

George: And the CURSE.

Where does he get this stuff?! Though he’s probably right…


July 24

9:51 a.m.

Just heard a Cranberries song on the radio and thought, “wow it’s been almost 10 years since that came out.” THEN I thought, “no – wait…it’s been almost TWENTY years since that came out.”

Feeling ancient.

And I don’t want to even talk about the Tracy Chapman song that’s on now…

8:13 p.m.

As I sat on the front steps “furminating” Alice:

George: Look at all of the mosquitoes!

Me: You’re right – can you run inside and get the bug spray for me? It’s in the pool bag.

George: Okay – I’ll get it right now!

[five minutes later…]

George: Mom! I can’t find the bug spray! It’s not in the pool bag!

Me: [resigned to a night of itching] That’s okay – I’ll live.

George: Yeah! You’ll live! Because you’ve got millions of blood!

Epilogue: I lived. But just barely.


July 25

6:29 p.m.

George: Mom! In Minecraft – when zombies eat the villager babies…

Me: WAIT! You play a game where zombies eat villager babies?

George: Yeah. In Minecraft. And when the zombies eat the villager babies…

Well – no one ever called me a Helicopter Mom.


July 27

3:57 p.m.

DON’T eat things off the floor! It’s like a grocery store RULE.

I can’t believe I actually have to say these things.


July 28

9:30 p.m.

The last two times we’ve grilled, Oliver has “helped” Chris by lighting the match. And now he LOVES lighting matches.

So I’ll basically never sleep again.

Dads.


July 29

8:36 a.m.

George: There are a lot of dead bugs in the world.

Eleanor: Especially at the pool.

Morning observations.


July 30

8:18 p.m.

The kids are watching Full House.

Chris: I wonder how much they drank on that set… Especially THAT one (Uncle Joey).


July 31

8:19 p.m.

Again – the kids are watching Full House. Some young intern at Danny’s TV station guessed that he “must be 27 or 28.”

Eleanor looks at me and says, “he’s younger than you.”

So I clarified, “he’s not really 28. He’s in his thirties.”

Eleanor: But you’re in your forties. So you’re still older.

Me: Yes – thank you for pointing that out.

Eleanor: But…the thirties are NEXT TO the forties…so I guess it’s not that bad.

Me: We can stop talking about this now.

Saying Grace

I’m not a particularly religious person. We stopped going to church when I was very little, and while I was baptized, I can’t even tell you the exact denomination. Protestant? Episcopalian? Something like that.

Then when we moved to DC, my parents made the incongruous decision to enroll my brother and me in private Catholic school. Though as a parent myself now, I think it’s safe to assume this was less random whimsy than the result of research involving tuition, academic ranking and proximity to our new home.

Nevertheless, at age eight I had to learn the Lord’s Prayer, which was recited each morning right after the Pledge of Allegiance. My mother, a lapsed Catholic, anticipated that we might have trouble understanding the exact words of the prayer with its lack of colloquial phrasing. So she made sure to explain that we were to say, “our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name,” not “Harold be thy name.” Apparently, this caused much confusion in her own childhood.

Outside of school, I spent quite a bit of time in the homes of friends where religious attitudes ranged from well-meaning to strictly devout. Almost all, unlike my own family, bowed their heads to say grace at the dinner table. This is where I learned how to recite another prayer that began, “bless us, oh Lord, for these thy gifts,” and even pop off a nonchalant sign of the cross finale move.

All were rote words and actions for me. I knew that saying grace was a form of giving thanks and asking for continued guidance in the whole “being a good Christian” thing… But I never gave the ritual any serious thought. I chalked it up to one of the many inexplicable have to’s that plagued any given family.

Grace was a nebulous concept for me. In school it was used in religious terminology. In the novels I read, it alluded to fluidity of movement or an innate sense of peacefully navigating the world. Perhaps it was this lack of definition commitment that put grace in the category of words that didn’t hold much power in my life. Too formal or lofty in its religious use and too precious and feminine in everyday conversation – it just didn’t resonate with me.

And quite honestly, it’s not a word that seemed to resonate with the people around me either. Sixteen year old Catholic school girls don’t talk about grace; they talk about boys and clothes and favorite books. I never once heard one of my college friends refer to grace while we were studying for exams or ordering pitchers of beer at the local dive bar. And in our twenties, my Catholic friends were still lying to their parents about going to church every Sunday.

It was almost inappropriate to refer to religion out of context. As if using words like faith or grace would push you into the territory of proselytizing bible thumpers. It just wasn’t done.

Grace, faith, church…just a bunch of have to’s that no one chose to discuss let alone prioritize.

Now at age 41, I can talk about pretty much anything with anyone. And I have a far more diverse assortment of friends and acquaintances. Some of my friends like me, don’t attend church. Others have grown more devout over the years. And no, they’re not all Catholic.

I have friends who feel comfortable referring to God in casual conversation. And that’s fine with me. Because I understand that they consider their faith to be one of the best and most beautiful things in their lives. So if they want to tell me that Jesus was there for them in a time of need, I don’t feel mildly embarrassed and unsure of how to respond. I just accept the words in the spirit they are given – with the best of intentions. By sharing these thoughts with me, they are showing me the best of themselves. They are giving me the best of themselves. How could that be inappropriate?

So it was completely natural for me to sit with a grieving friend and listen to her thoughts about God’s plan in her life. And in the midst of this heartbreaking conversation, she said something that changed everything for me.

She was talking about her feelings of responsibility. How she believed things would have happened differently if her husband had been there to change the course of events. And how grateful she was for the grace he showed her by not looking for someone to blame. She speculated that she may not have been strong enough to do the same.

After a moment of incredulity that she would think blame had any place in such a tragic accident, this one simple word – grace – filled the room. If you think about it, everyone makes this choice on any number of levels, every day. And for a while now, I’ve been giving considerable thought to what I choose. I just never had a name for it. Suddenly, I did, and I could say without hesitation that if put in the same position as her husband, I would choose to show grace.

Not because I’m such a fantastic person of course, but because I’m hopelessly flawed and so often in need of the forgiveness and understanding of others. Aren’t we all… How can she be so selfish? How can he be so cruel? WHY would anyone say something so insensitive? Every day there is a reason to be hurt or insulted or outraged by the words and actions of others. But the concept of other people is subjective. And I remind myself that I have often been the one unintentionally hurting, insulting and causing outrage. Who am I to assume intentions? Why not offer others the benefit of the doubt instead?

Now I don’t have to run through the complicated reasoning behind choosing to forgive or understand or assume good intentions. I just say “grace.” Maybe not with my outside voice…but that one word is a definitive reminder. A declaration. An incantation.

We put up with a lot of have to’s in life and I know that this concept is very much in that category for some. Turn the other cheek…take the high road…give it up to God. There are unlimited personal versions of what is largely considered a trite platitude. But giving it a name and seeing it as a choice has put it in a new context for me. What was once a sigh inducing “have to” is what I now consider to be the best part of me. The best I can give anyone. I can show them grace.

Sure, I get mad or feel offended sometimes. I lash out in anger. I even place blame. But it’s momentary, because at the end of the day, I don’t like feeling that way. I hate the idea of someone carrying the weight of guilt on their shoulders. Life is hard enough – why not cut each other a little slack?

Initial perceptions don’t always match true intentions. And people usually have good intentions. That should count for something, right? Destination notwithstanding, they do make excellent paving stones…. And maybe my choice to see things this way – my grace – can help to reroute that descending road. I’d rather believe the angel on one shoulder than the devil on the other. What the hell – it helps me sleep at night.

One of my favorite movie quotes is in The Big Lebowski. The Dude says, “You’re not wrong Walter. You’re just an asshole.” Sometimes we can get so wrapped up in ideas and principle, that we forget about people. We forget that it’s so easy to stumble over that line we’re so quick to draw in the sand. So easy to say the wrong thing – to do something so incredibly stupid. And to not even be aware of it. Why is it so hard to forgive or understand or just assume that no harm was meant?

Why not be more mindful of this choice? Why not choose to not be an asshole? Give the benefit of the doubt and assume good intentions. Choose kindness over principle and forgiveness over justice. Let people give you the best of themselves, regardless of your personal beliefs or habits. Consider the perspective of others. Consider the fact that to everyone else, you are “other people.”

I’ve always been a bit of a late bloomer, but I don’t think it’s too late to choose happiness. For me, being happy doesn’t come easily. I fight for it. I choose to look for the best in others. I stumble and fall short sometimes, but I choose to get up and try again. I choose to let go of the past. To give second chances. To keep moving forward. To see possibility in the future. To say that today was a good day.

I choose to accept that sometimes I will be an asshole. And to not judge others who make the same mistakes. I choose to say I’m sorry or I forgive you. To say that it’s okayI’ve been there. I understand.

To say that just meaning well still counts. That just being here is a miracle.

To say that I couldn’t do any of this without other people. To say thank you.

To say grace.

The Good in Goodbye

I went to a funeral last Friday.

And I’ve been thinking a lot about it over the past week. About all funerals, really.

What is it that they say about funerals? That they’re for the living? It makes sense. Only the living would really need a funeral. Because it offers a means of saying goodbye.

This public acknowledgement of – this bearing witness to – an ending is sometimes the only thing that allows us to move on. Forward. Possibly, to even see that as an option. A funeral honors this ending/beginning, and gives us permission to grieve, hope and continue to live.

At age 40, I’ve been to many funerals. And as far as religious rituals and rites go, I wouldn’t say that I personally need them. I don’t need a ceremony to say goodbye. I don’t need to commune with black garbed strangers I’ll probably never see again. I don’t need a gathering.

But I could never say that I don’t need people.

Which is an ironic statement coming from me since I love having time to myself. I actually like being alone. I could spend an entire week without seeing another person and never feel lonely. But this is exactly why I need people. Because for me, being alone is easy. And there is nothing to be learned from an easy life.

I need to feel the press of humanity around me. To bump into their sharp edges and feel a little uncomfortable. I need to be jostled and forced to participate. To stay awake. And alive.

Funerals are taxing for an introvert. All of those people…

And ultimately – I think that’s all a funeral is. Just people bumping into each other. Taking what they need and giving what they can. From family and friends supporting each other to strangers sharing a moment of companionship. It’s just a bunch of people standing around, feeling.

We are surrounded by people every day. On the bus…standing in line at the grocery store…sitting in a movie theater. So many experiences we remember are actually moments in time shared with strangers. But how often do we acknowledge that? That indirect togetherness?

Ceremony aside, a funeral is an ideal occasion to recognize how connected we all are. Saying goodbye is a terrible thing to have in common – but it makes us actually look at each other.

The blond woman who puts her head on the shoulder of the man next to her. So tender. They must be close. I wonder if they are part of the family…maybe work friends.

The two women walking down the aisle. Mother and daughter? The older one looks very sad. The younger one holds her elbow. The small smiles they give me as they pass don’t reach their eyes.

A toddler in the front row wails and is quickly whisked to the back of the church. Her boots are spangled with sequins. A granddaughter?

As far as people watching goes, it’s not all that different from an afternoon at Whole Foods. Everyone has a story. Most of us are here alone. Alone in a crowd that’s only different in its singular purpose of saying goodbye.

But the goodbyes that truly bring us all together come from the people in the front row. Especially those who stand up to tell stories about the loved one who died. They are not just sharing anecdotes that we may or may not already know – they’re handing us pieces of themselves.

What a rare and extraordinary experience. To be alone yet together in a crowd of friends and strangers, seeing a unique individual through the eyes the people who love them.

The first time I ever witnessed something like this was in high school. A new classmate (who would later in life become a dear friend) stood in front of hundreds of people to tell us about her twelve year old brother. She did this by reading a letter his friends wrote about him.

In college, I listened to my mother’s sister and cousin tell stories about their “Nana” who never married or had children, but instead poured all of her love into four little nieces. She let them try on her jewelry and made an event of watching the Miss America pageant.

When a good friend’s father died, I listened to her sister tell a hilarious story about his dedication to snapping great photos at the many weddings he attended. His scrappy hustle and willingness to elbow any professional photographer out of the way inspired his six children to call him, “Matty Kane, cub reporter.”

A few years later, I listened to that same sister’s husband talk about her valiant battle with breast cancer. When she received this diagnosis, her immediate response was, “thank god it’s not one of my babies.”

And in the fall of 2011, I sat in complete awe as one of my closest friends described the too short but incredibly full life of her twelve year old son. He had a sweet nature and a talent for making people feel special.

I think that two funerals for twelve year old boys has been entirely enough for me. I can only hope that there will never be a third.

But the funeral last week was not for a boy. It was for a man with thirteen grandchildren. A man who lived both a long and full life. One full of stories.

Some of these stories were told by his children who each took a turn to talk about the father they knew. It was especially moving for me to witness this since I practically lived in their house when I was a little girl.

Madeline was like the sister I never had, which made her siblings my extended network of big sisters and younger brothers. So the stories they told about what a character their father was…his irreverence…his tendency to bring home random “new friends” as if they were long lost family members…his constant supply of Lucky Strikes…they all brought back so many memories of that big family with their larger than life patriarch. But I was especially touched by their more serious, poignant insights.

Marjorie spoke first, explaining that she and her sister Gigi were tiny girls when their father came into their life. He fell in love with their mother and without hesitation, claimed them as his own. It takes quite a man to do something like that.

Oldest sister was followed by youngest brother, Reilly. Who is inexplicably no longer a ten year old boy. When did he become this man with SIX children of his own? But man he is, and so much like his father. He talked about the man who taught him how to be a man, starting with the value of a strong handshake. A lesson he’s passed down to his own sons.

My Madeline (I always think of her as “My Madeline”) went next. She was a Daddy’s Girl and never one to wear her heart anywhere BUT on her sleeve for the world to see (dry eyes beware). She shared her earliest memory of being at the beach, where her father would carry her out into the waves. She thought it was scary…and also exciting. But she always felt safe.

Gigi was the last to speak, and she said that she found herself at a loss for words. She has endured what could only be described as a mother’s nightmare over the past year. And the presence of supportive parents has contributed largely to her survival. She didn’t share memories, as no story or quote was required to express the depth of her love and grief. Instead she told us how much this support meant to her – just the simple act of “spending time with him.” Knowing that he was there.

One brother was not able to talk about the father he knew, but his presence filled the room. John died young, just barely a man himself. His Down Syndrome was never perceived as a disability in their house, but the health complications that so often accompany the condition were a constant worry. The loss of this much loved son and brother was a terrible blow to the family. And while this wasn’t John’s funeral, it did feel like a continuation of grief and gratitude for the time they all had together.

While I do not have a son with Down Syndrome, I do have one with special needs. And I think that I owe much to my friend and her family for my perception of him as being just perfect the way he is. This isn’t an easy thing to do. No one finds out they’re pregnant and wishes for a child with special needs. No one wants their son to struggle with the things that come so easily to others. But I grew up watching a family find the exceptional in a boy with special needs because of his differences. And I am so incredibly grateful for that.

I didn’t go to John’s funeral. I was in college, in another state and young enough to believe that my presence wouldn’t have been important. But 20 years later, I know this is far from true. There are no extraneous people when it comes to saying goodbye.

Whether we are there alone or in the front row, we are all part of something bigger than a rite or ritual. A funeral isn’t just a miscellaneous assortment of people in pews. It’s a shared moment of grief in loss, gratitude for life and the acknowledgement that that everyone – even an introvert like me – needs people.

Alone in a crowd or together around a family table, we are just people bumping into each other’s sharp edges, reminding each other to participate in life – to actually look at each other. We take what we need and give what we can. And we tell stories to help us remember.

And as long as there are stories, then we never really have to say goodbye.

Personal History (We Move to Pelham)

I’ve been pretty busy with Listen to Your Mother for the past couple of weeks, but I’ve been meaning to post another installment of that personal history I’m writing for our family “ancestor book.” If you’re interested, you can find the ealier posts under “About Me.” Since this would be “Part Three” and I’m barely four years old…I think we’ll skip the numbers – “Part 48” will sound ridiculous. Here’s were we last left off…

In anticipation of my brother’s birth, my parents moved our little family from a tiny Tudor house in Scarsdale to a larger one in Pelham, NY.

I loved that house with its wisteria covered, wrap-around patio. Set on an incline, the basement was full of light from large arched windows overlooking the backyard. And our hill was excellent for sledding.

We had a swing set, but the main attraction for the kids who visited was rope swing so long and so high, it’s miraculous that no one was ever brained on the tree trunk. You couldn’t pay me enough money to get on that thing now, but at the time it felt like flying.

On the other side of our yard was a house where one of my then four-year-old brother’s first friends lived. He was also named Matthew and had an older teenage brother who taught them to light firecrackers and took them for rides on his motorcycle. I’m not sure how my mother found out about that, but I do remember the waves of frantic anxiety I could feel in her presence whenever the other Matthew and his family were involved.

My best friend was my cousin, Amy. Dad’s older brother, Uncle Dick moved his family to Pelham first. And he and my Aunt Linda had three girls. Kelly was three years older than me, which at that stage of childhood, may as well have been decades. But Kristin and Amy were respectively one year older and younger.

Kristin was a tomboy, often spotted standing on the banana seat of her bike as she raced down the hill. I could never keep up with that. Amy, on the other hand was a more exuberant version of me. We were both giggly and full of imagination, but where I was reserved Amy was a love. Such an affectionate little girl – no one could resist her charms.

She was also a character. Much to my cousin’s dismay, my Aunt Linda insisted on keeping Amy’s wispy blond hair short (something I completely understand now that I have my own daughter with wispy blond hair…) But Amy desperately wanted long hair. So she would pretend to have waist-long tresses by wearing tights on her head. She’d swing the limp, two-legged pony tail from side to side, asking me what I thought of her beautiful new hairstyle. And as clearly as I can remember that part of the story, I have no recollection of what I said in response.

I loved Amy.

To be continued…

“Kids Can Be So Cruel…”

Thanks to The Bully Project for sponsoring my writing. Visit their website to join the movement and learn more.

When  was in fifth and sixth grade, there was a girl in my class named Lauren. She was small and slim, with black hair. Pretty. And for the life of me, I can’t imagine what it was that made her a target for bullies.

There were definitely “mean kids” in my small Catholic school class of 30. And Chip was the worst. He would push Lauren down on the playground. He was also fond of teasing Peggy, the overweight girl in our class. He called her “Piggy.” He was not quite as original as he was cruel.

I was just unimportant enough to escape Chip’s attention, but I hated what he did to the other kids. How he made them feel.

Lauren and Peggy couldn’t look more different. But they had one thing in common. Neither of them had close friends. Girls like me would be friendly enough – but we already had best friends. And we didn’t go out of our way to include them in any significant way.

We also didn’t take a stand on their behalf. We didn’t tell bullies like Chip to leave them alone. We thought our own kindness was enough.

It wasn’t.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know exactly why I didn’t try to help. Why I didn’t tell the mean kids to stop. It was because I felt powerless. And it wasn’t just being afraid that their terrible attention would be directed at me. It was because I knew how futile my efforts would be.

At that time, I was a nobody. While I had friends, I was not particularly pretty or popular. I had a bad hair cut. I was a little too tall. I wasn’t slim. The best things I had going for me were kindness and a good imagination. Neither of these qualities rate very highly  in fifth grade.

Seriously – I have no idea what is going on with that hair… 

If I had the nerve to stand up to a bully, they would just laugh at me. If I was lucky, that’s all they would do.

So I just watched, hating every second of the unprovoked attacks. And when the dust cleared I would make an extra effort to nice to the victims. And hoped my subtle disapproving looks would be enough.

They weren’t.

And bullying didn’t just take the form of playground taunts from the mean kids. Practical jokes were employed as well. Once a popular boy in our class walked Lauren home and asked her to be his girlfriend. He laughed about it later with another girl. I can’t remember how he told Lauren the truth – that it was all a joke… Maybe it was over the phone. But either way, I know it humiliated her. And I didn’t understand WHY. Why would anyone think that was funny? Why would Lauren believe it? Just WHY?

Neither the girl nor the boy mentioned above were mean people. She actually became a very close friend of mine in later years – and I KNOW that she is a good person. I seriously doubt that either of them considered their joke to be an act of bullying.

But it was.

And I wish that I had done more than not laugh. I wish that it never happened at all.

I have a lot of regrets about that time. But at the same time, I don’t know that I could have made a difference. Not like I could later.

Lauren left our school after sixth grade – moved away. But Peggy stayed. Chip also left the school and the overt bullying subsided. Maybe seventh graders – in such a small class – automatically matured a bit. Maybe the boys started to think it was wrong to be physically aggressive with girls. I don’t know…

It seemed to me that things got better. But if you asked Peggy, I doubt she’d agree.

I mentioned that I was able to make a difference later. This is something that makes me feel proud. And not just a little impressed by how observant I was at such a young age. By seventh and eighth grade, I became less awkward – prettier. I was one of the popular girls in my class and people cared more about what I had to say. Around this time, it became clear to me that the kids my age would believe pretty much anything presented to them in full confidence. Especially if it was true.

I noticed that Peggy spent a lot of time drawing in a notebook. Mostly fashion pictures – and they were pretty good. So I started making a fuss over her. Pointing out to people what a “good artist” Peggy was. After a while, others picked up on this and Peggy became known as one of the bests artists in the class. For once people had something nice to say about that quiet, unassuming girl.

Did this make a big difference – did it change her life – did she live happily ever after? Probably not – no – and if so, it had nothing to do with anything I ever did.

This was a nice gesture. But in all honesty, it wasn’t enough. And it was ultimately more for me than it was for her. It was so satisfying to trick people into being nice.

That same year, our class got a cassette tape in the mail from Lauren. Our teacher played it for us and later said that he thought a therapist probably suggested she do it. On the tape she told us how awful we were to her – how cruel. She asked us if we thought good people treated others like that. She said many things. It was long. It rambled. It broke my heart.

I was never anything but pleasant to Lauren, but I felt ashamed. If anything, I was horrified on behalf of our class – that we as a whole, could make one person so miserable.

I looked around expecting to see other contrite expressions. But I didn’t.

I saw smirks. They laughed. And I was furious. But of course I said nothing. Because even now that I was pretty and popular and people listened to me – it still wouldn’t have made a difference. They would rather laugh at “how weird” this girl was than face the truth of her words. To feel ashamed.

And of course I understand at age forty, that their reaction was probably a defense mechanism. The maturity level of an eighth grade classroom is not particularly high.

I didn’t miss my elementary school when I left for high school the next year. I had good memories and am still close to a number of my friends from that time. But I will always look back on those years as being harsh.

I chose well when I decided to go to an all girls high school. It wasn’t by any means a big love fest where everyone was nice to each other all the time. But it was a bit more forgiving. People found their niches. Teenage girls have different ways of torturing each other…gossip, drama, boyfriend stealing… So no one ever got pushed around between classes. No one pretended to be your friend as a joke.

The trite but true statement that “kids can be so cruel,” is exactly what makes me relieved to be done with that time of my life. And it also makes my heart clench to imagine my own children living through it in a few years.

Right now they are young, their classrooms are warm and welcoming places where they are learning to share and be considerate. Teachers intervene when there is pushing. Everyone has to say sorry. Classmates are called “friends.”

I was very lucky growing up. First, for not being in the direct line of fire when it came to school bullies, and then for going to a high school where kids didn’t get pushed into lockers. I even managed to benefit from some great learning experiences along the way.

But at the end of the day, I just wish none of it had ever happened. I wish that Lauren and Peggy didn’t have to be put through all of that. Because being told that you aren’t worthy of respect at such a young age…well, it has to take its toll. But it did happen. So instead of wasting time wishing for the impossible – to change the past – I just hope that it eventually worked out for those girls. That being bullied didn’t take away their futures.

For so many – it does.

I don’t like to think about it. None of us do – and maybe that’s why it’s so easy to turn a blind eye. We can allow the cycle of cruelty to continue because it’s easier to pretend that we don’t see it.

I can tell you right now that I DO NOT want to watch a movie about kids being bullied. About kids committing suicide because they were bullied.

But I will, because no matter how hard it will be for me to watch (no matter how hard it was for me to watch…) it must be a million times harder to experience it. And if they can live through it, then it is only right and fair that I muster up the courage to bear witness.

So when The Bully Project comes to my area, I will see it. And I will send links about it to the teachers I know. Especially my special needs son’s teacher. Children with disabilities are obvious targets for teasing…for bullying. It’s an unfortunate reality that will be part of my future. And if I felt powerless to stand up for the kids in my own class – what can I do for my son when I’m not even there?

Everything starts with awareness. And everything we teach our children is more effective while they are young. So I will watch something painful and I will think about it. I will talk to other parents about it and I will talk to my children about it. I will try to model the way I want them to treat others – and the ways they should expect to be treated. I will acknowledge the issue, not pretend it doesn’t exist.

This is huge – it’s not a problem that is easily solved…or ever solved, really. But people really can make a difference. I know that now. And this year, I will start by seeing a movie.


I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. Find showings in your area for The Bully Project and buy tickets here.

Personal History (Part Two)

You may already know this – but I’m going to be posting installments of a personal history I’m writing for our family “ancestor book.” This is a continuation of that. And to simplify things, I’m putting the whole thing under “About Me.” So if you want to read from the beginning – you can head over there! Here’s were we last left off…

I was the oldest child in my family, born on April 27, 1972. According to my mother, it was a typical first delivery with very little drama. That is, if you don’t count the fact that my father and the doctor were so caught up in a televised basketball game, they almost missed the actual birth. But Mom had a feeling it was time, so she put her lovely manners aside for a few minutes and demanded a little attention.

From what I understand, I was a baby who refused to sleep unless held by someone who was walking. So I take full credit for my mother losing all of her baby weight (and then some) within three weeks of my birth. I think you could call that exercise plan “constant cardio.” It’s amazing how many calories you burn when you never get to lie down.

But I made up for my difficult infancy when I became a little girl who liked to sit quietly and read. Finally – Mom could sit!

I think I inherited my love of reading from my mother. From my earliest memories, she was never without a book in hand or within reach. She has always been a calm and peaceful presence in our family – and this created an environment most conducive to quiet time for reading and reflection.

Not so much my father. Where Mom made space for others to be themselves, Dad’s larger than life presence filled the room. He wrote songs and played them on the piano for us. The Toe Song was our favorite and I can still remember the words, “holding hands is fun…holding feet is dumb.” He also played with us in a way that doesn’t come easily to anyone over the age of 13. He would throw himself heart and soul into games that really just boiled down to chasing us around the house.

And he can STILL play with wild abandon all these years later. I watch Oliver, George and Eleanor beside themselves with giggling as Grandpa pretends to be a monster, and gives them piggy back rides up and down the stairs. It’s like he never stopped being a kid, himself. And I relive my own childhood watching them – seeing my brother and me in the smiling faces of my children.

My brother and I are two years apart, so we played together a lot when we were little. I hear I wasn’t his biggest fan at first, but luckily there are no stories about us that involved harmful intent. I think the worst thing I did was stand in front of my mother while she was nursing Matthew and proceed to pee on the floor. I must say, for someone who has never been fond of the spotlight, I certainly did have a flair for making my disgruntled presence known.

More to come…