Tag Archives: Me Myself and I

They Coulda’ Been Great: February-March 2014

You may have noticed that I updated my site. It looks different AND I finally figured out (after a mere nine months – cringe) WHY I couldn’t get any of my images to show up in posts. For a long time, I tried to enlist the help of designers, but they either wanted to charge me hundreds of dollars to fix a blog which already went through an expensive redesign two years ago OR they just never returned my e-mails.

Finally, I got over my fear of breaking this blog “even more” and channeled some of my 2008 new blogger pioneer spirit. I KNOW how to set up a basic (free) blog design in Blogger – so why not just start from scratch in WordPress. And here it is! A generic theme with very few bells and whistles. And? I actually prefer it like this.

AND…now that my blog is fixed and images show up, I can start posting my “They Coulda’ Been Great” features again! I’ve had these sitting in drafts, and will be posting them every few days in about five installments. Then we should be caught up through October, and I’ll go back to the monthly installments. As it should be.

Here is #1: my February and March on Facebook… (Wondering what exactly this is? All answers are HERE.)

February 1

10:07 a.m.

This means two things in my life: #1 Spring is coming! and #2 binging on my favorite candy at Listen to Your Mother auditions!

IMG_7822

 

February 2

1:32 p.m.

House is freezing. Wearing layered t-shirts, a cardigan and a scarf. Will now commence jumping jacks. #SOCOLD

 

February 5

8:44 a.m.

Of course it’s only AFTER I rip the tags off that I realize I accidentally purchased a nursing bra…

5:09 p.m.

Doing homework with Oliver…

Me: (very proud of something he figured out) You are SO smart!

Oliver: (very serious) No. I am so cute.

Yeah – that too.

 

February 8

9:30 p.m.

Earlier this evening, Eleanor was looking through Netflix options…

“Mom? What is this Breaking Bad show about?”

Now, I’m no expert on developmental readiness for mature themes such as drug use, violence and crime rings…but seven is probably too young, right?

 

February 9

11:22 a.m.

In a movie theater waiting to see The Lego Movie. Since I worried about finding four seats together opening weekend, we arrived 30 minutes early. Everyone is already eating candy and George just asked, “can I explore this place?” This should end well…

5:52 p.m.

Watching ice skating in the Olympics…

Me: Wow that’s pretty amazing, huh? You guys have been ice skating – can you IMAGINE being able to do THAT?!

George: Yeah.

Of course he can.

7:55 p.m.

Why can’t wine, Diet Coke and ice cream be good for me? It would make my life so much happier…

 

February 10

2:56 p.m.

I love how whenever Oliver wants me out of his way, he says, “why don’t you go work on your computer?” We are SO on the same page!

 

February 11

11:27 a.m.

If I ever talk about books I’m reading, you can assume I’m referring to recorded books. Seems like the only time I feel like I’m allowed to just sit and read is when I get onto bed. I get 10 minutes in and zzzzzz.

On a not entirely related note, I have to say that that while Anita Shreve is an wonderful writer, her books are torture to read. THE TRAGEDY! I’m listening to Testimony and I’m surprised I didn’t drive off the side of the road earlier from a sudden lack of the will to go on. She brings a whole new meaning to the saying “life isn’t fair.”

 

February 12

3:16 p.m.

It’s not like I’m going to eat a WHOLE BAG of Cadbury Mini Eggs!” Famous last words…

6:31 p.m.

Want to know what it’s like to be a mom? I’m supposed to be having surgery in the morning, and now that the weather may make this impossible, the #1 thing that’s pissing me off is that I was really looking forward to being allowed to sleep all day.

7:55 p.m.

Continuation of my last post… Looks like surgery is off. SO I will now drink several glasses of wine, drench myself in perfume, eat a huge midnight snack and wear every piece of jewelry I own for the duration of the morning. What else is a surgery no no? I’m doing it!!

 

February 13

3:37 p.m.

It takes a village to entertain children on a snow day.

 

February 14

7:38 p.m.

Are we the only lamos who have no Valentine’s Day dinner plans? Not even a sweet family dinner. Eleanor is having tacos next door, George ate two English Muffins and Oliver is still working on a bowl of popcorn he made a few hours ago. I could say that we’re boycotting the Hallmark holiday…but it would be more accurate to say that we’re lazy. xoxoxoxoxo from the Hoods!

 

February 16

6:02 p.m.

While it seems like a good parenting move to have your child vacuum their OWN popcorn mess, you do need the patience to coach them through it: “No – just the popcorn…not your face…not the dog…not your brother…not your butt…”

 

February 17

7:45 a.m.

George just made me a new Rainbow Loom bracelet. As he handed it to me, he said, “you can treasure that it you want to.” Think I will.

12:57 p.m.

I can’t tell you how many times I hear people say stuff like, “I HAVE to run,” or “I HAVE to write,” as if they are utterly driven to to do these things. Like it’s beyond their control at this point – they just can’t exist without “running” and “writing.” I have done both off and on for years and feel like I should relate more to this NEED and DRIVE. And I kind of do…off and on. But someday, SOMEONE is going to say, “I HAVE to eat the cupcakes,” and only THEN will I have found my true soul mate.

 

February 18

8:20 a.m.

This morning’s two hour delay is brought to you by Sponge Bob and yesterday’s Valentine’s Day party candy. We put the fun in Fun Dip.

 

February 19

11:22 p.m.

Watching Olympic skating. Call me old fashioned, but I’m not into these flesh-toned stocking/skate covers. I like a white skate on a woman.

skates

 

February 20

11:55 a.m.

Making the wait for car repairs (and the dreaded bill) a bit more bearable…

IMG_785110:49 p.m.

It just occurred to me that setting up an Evite after several glasses of wine may not be a super idea… At least not when you are literally cracking yourself up. Taking things down a notch…

 

February 22

2:50 p.m.

Today’s gift from the radio-option-only car: Madness!! They really capture how I feel about my own house much of the time… “there’s always something happening and it’s usually quite loud.

 

February 23

7:50 p.m.

I picked up Eleanor’s Girl Scout cookies today and Chris is taking her around to make deliveries. George desperately wants to help…

George: I want to come too.

Eleanor: No.

George: I can help carry the boxes.

Eleanor: [overly dramatic sigh of exasperation] No-wah!

Me: Eleanor, he just wants to help. Let him carry some boxes.

Eleanor: [to George] Okay fine. But you CAN’T SAY ANYTHING.

What a little B. Though in all fairness…she does know her brother…

 

February 24

3:45 p.m.

Home from surgery! And I have tampons in my nose!

7:39 p.m.

Oh my god you guys – I’ve been looking in the mirror and I think I look JUST like Jennifer Aniston….if she had plastic surgery to look just like me! Also – I just took a Vicodin.

10:55 p.m.

Don’t cross the streams. It would be bad.”

RIP Harold Ramis. I think of you every time my boys decide to “make an X.”

 

 

February 28

8:52 p.m.

Here is the great thing about Vicodin: it makes the ouchies less ouchy. Here is the bad thing about Vicodin: it makes you THE MOST BORING PERSON on the planet. I can barely muster up the energy to finish a sentence, let alone conduct a conversation. But I guess I wasn’t much of a firecracker to begin with – so I’ve gone from mellow to meh. Thinking it’s time to wean myself off the sleepy pills…

 

March 1

5:19 p.m.

How to get rid of Oliver: “Do you want to work on some homework?”

How to get rid of George: “Want to grab a book and come sit with me?

How to get rid of Eleanor: There is NO getting rid of Eleanor. And as inconvenient as that may be sometimes, I consider myself to be a VERY lucky mother and will take it as long as it’s on offer!

 

March 2

6:49 p.m.

While I no longer need those post surgery straws I bought, my children are now straw obsessed. Each of the 587 glasses of water they request per day must have a straw. The new soundtrack of my day is kids blowing bubbles in their drinks. I feel like I live in a fish tank.

9:00 p.m.

Is it weird that I think winning academy awards for costume design sounds 100 times cooler than anything else on the Oscars?

9:08 p.m.

Chris: Harrison Ford has never won an Oscar??

Me: They said “nominated.”

Chris: But he’s HAN SOLO!

If regular guys were in charge…

 

March 3

8:31 p.m.

Snow days are exhausting. Now get out of my bed.

IMG_7888

 

March 4

7:45 p.m.

No more running around with dog bones!

Directives that make sense to the people in my house.

7:58 p.m.

I have now seen several pictures of people discovering “the baby” in their piece of King Cake today. And each one looks like birth moment to me: “Breech!” “I see the head…!” Hope all those office kitchens were equipped with forceps…

10:08 p.m.

Watching that guy on Bizarre Foods eat blow fish eggs that are so incredibly poisonous that they have to be brined for two years, and thinking about how I can’t even handle blue cheese.

 

March 5

9:32 a.m.

So when you happen upon a school library book that you thought you returned months ago, and have said as much in response to every overdue notice that has been sent home…the best course of action is to just plant it somewhere in the school next time you’re there. Right?

3:17 p.m.

I really have to get to the store. But – you know – it’s like winter and stuff outside. I am currently on frowny face terms with Mother Nature.

5:36 p.m.

Friends don’t let friends wear tight yoga pants out in public. Unfortunately, none of my friends saw me today.

6:44 p.m.

Chris just walked in with ashes on his forehead (Ash Wednesday) and Oliver asked him if he was in an explosion. Chris tried to explain, but now Oliver thinks he tried to burn down a palm tree.

I love my little heathens.

7:35 p.m.

As soon as we opened this on Christmas, I knew its true destiny…

IMG_7892

 

March 6

8:40 a.m.

Favorite book character day at school! We’re reading The Wizard of Oz so Eleanor wanted to be Dorothy. Because WHO DOESN’T have a blue gingham dress lying around their house? Luckily my neighbor did. Of course, her daughter is two years younger than Eleanor, so length required leggings. Wondering why no ruby slippers? In the book, Dorothy wears silver shoes (fun fact for the morning!)

IMG_7902

 

March 8

3:54 p.m.

Hooray for spring daylight savings! That time of year when the clock in my car is no longer one hour ahead.

 

March 10

6:19 p.m.

I’m cutting vegetables and Oliver is standing next to me, doing a voice over of screaming noises. Sometimes he takes the personification too far.

 

March 12

2:34 p.m.

“Where is my [insert object that someone in my family cannot find here]?”

There are two constants to every incarnation of this scenario:
1. They haven’t actually looked for it.
2. I know where it is.

Hard to complain when I do myself no favors…

7:25 p.m.

George’s 1st grade homework required that he find similarities and differences between two books. So obviously…

IMG_7908

 

March 13

10:30 p.m.

Chris and I have finally started watching House of Cards. And yes – it is amazing. But I just have to get this out of my system. HOLLYWOOD! Fortheloveofgod PLEASE stop putting brownstones in DC. We have brick townhouses painted in a rainbow of different colors. Bay windows abound. Lots of uneven brick sidewalks. Build a set or something. This shouldn’t be so hard.

 

March 15

3:34 p.m.

About to revisit my youth. Taking Eleanor to a roller skating party.

 

March 16

3:28 p.m.

Dear every hair stylist and barber to have ever touched George’s head… PLEASE explain WHY all the hair gel? He is my only child to ALWAYS leave haircuts with fistfuls of styling gel in his bangs. The main problem with this is that product is inevitably applied when my attention is diverted, and it’s only later at home that I discover he now has Buster Brown bangs. Never thought I’d have to add “no styling gel” to instructions for a seven year old boy’s haircut…

IMG_7927

 

March 19

11:48 a.m.

A couple of weeks ago, I told Winter that I thought it would be best if we took a break – had some time apart from each other. Maybe a year. To get some perspective on the relationship. This week, Winter came back and asked if I would consider trying one more time to make this work. Just one more try. Oh Winter…just – no. No, I really can’t. I can’t…

yuck3:56 p.m.

In the car…

George: Mom do the front wheels steer?

Me: Of the car? Why?

George: Because if you want to shoot at the car you should shoot the wheels in the front because it will make the car go out of control.

Me: Why are we shooting at cars?

George: Because of the bad guys. And you know – some people are scared of robbers. But I’m not.

Me: You’re not?

George: Nah. They just take money and stuff from stores. Taking things isn’t scary.

Me: You have a point. We can discuss that further when you’re older.

George: You mean when I’m a teenager?

Me: That sounds about right. Why all the talk about shooting and bad guys and robbers?

George: Because there are a lot of bad guys. There are a lot of bad guys in PHILLY!

Me: Who told you that? Ben?

George: Ben’s dad.

Me: Well he’s from Philly – so he would know.

George: Yeah – there’s a lot of guys with guns there.

Me: There’s a lot of guys with guns in lots of places… But OUR neighborhood is very safe [of course I did].

George: Except for when we had the villain.

Me: The VILLAIN?

George: Yeah – that time all the helicopters were flying around looking for the villain. Hey – you know what’s really good about boys?

Me: What?

George: If we have to pee and there’s snow, we can just pee in the snow and even WRITE OUR NAME. We have very good aim.

Me: Well, that IS convenient…

George: Yeah – we’re the best pee-ers.

And I ASSURE YOU, the conversation DID NOT stop there.

#boys

7:51 p.m.

Eleanor: Is it, “I came in like a rainbow,” or “I came in like a rag ball?

First – I LIKE “I came in like a rainbow.” Also – NEVER come in like a rag ball. Rag balls always finish last.

 

March 20

5:43 p.m.

Sometimes I wonder if the people who design these homework assignments are just messing with us…

ants7:35 p.m.

George: Hey Mom! We got a new bus driver today. So I won’t get in trouble all the time now.

This says so many things about my son….

 

March 22

9:04 a.m.

If Sponge Bob laughs on the TV and no one is around to hear him, does he make an annoying sound?

 

March 25

6:30 p.m.

Eleanor’s birthday card for Chris. Are those HIP HIP HOORAY arms or WHAT?

IMG_8037

 

March 26

1:59 p.m.

At the dentist with Oliver, and he’s cracking me up. Last time we were here, there was an unfortunate incident involving the removal of a spacer that got embedded in one of his gums. Very traumatic. So from the minute we arrived, he’s been adamantly informing everyone (front desk, dental hygienist, dentist, other parents, babies…) that there will be “no silver teeth today!” I think this bodes well for self advocating in his future!

2:49 p.m.

Abomination.

abomination7:30 p.m.

Eleanor: Mom…do you ever feel like crying but you don’t know why?

Um – once a month…for a week straight. Jesus! She’s only seven. Far too young to be so melancholy…or hormonal.

 

March 28

7:37 a.m.

Impromptu morning Rainbow Loom lesson requested by Oliver. George shared, Eleanor taught and Oliver actually made a bracelet! Stuff of miracles…

IMG_8049

 

March 31

9:23 p.m.

This one turned nine yesterday. Though he’s pretty adamant that birthday aside, he’s still eight. As 42 looms, I can’t say I don’t understand…

DSC_0444BCheck back in a few days for April/May!

Top Ten List of Reasons Why Women Should Embrace Being in Their 40’s

I’ve been thinking about this list for a while now (approximately two years, five months and twenty seven days…) But in honor of my good friend, Diane’s birthday last weekend, I thought I’d post it here.

#10 You can set aside all of those unrealistic expectations about looking perfect. Because if it hasn’t happened by now…

#9 If you want to buy an embarrassing YA novel or boy band CD out in public, people will assume it’s for your daughter.

#8 You can lord your “older and wiser” status over all of your friends who are still in their 30s.

#7 After more than two decades,  you (hopefully) have the maturity and experience to understand all of that advice older people gave you in high school AND apply it to your current life (because no matter how old you are, everything ends up being just like high school).

#6  You can try to get out of speeding tickets by flirting OR playing the “sweet older lady” card. Options! (Full disclosure: neither has ever actually worked for me…)

#5 People are 100% more impressed by the challenges you take on now than they were when you were in your 20s – like training for marathons or making it to midnight on New Years Eve.

#4 You can blame everything on perimenopause.

#3 It’s likely that you’ve finally perfected a southern accent (and if you are from the south, it’s likely that you’ve finally perfected your southern accent). What? Doesn’t everyone like speaking in a southern accent? Okay – maybe that one is just me…

(take two) #3 It’s likely that you’ve finally stopped obsessing over the number you see on the scale every morning (of course, this is because you’re too busy counting new wrinkles…)

#2 You no longer have to be offended when people call you ma’am because COME ON.

#1 When you are in your 50s, you’ll think this was young.

Feel free to add any other perks in comments!

Me, but Better

*This post is brought to you by Kiran who pointed out that my husband is on a 10 day business trip and I should be blogging every night, right?

So it looks like I may not be having my nose job next week. Oh – I didn’t mention that I’m getting a nose job? I’m pretty sure I did on Facebook… Well, don’t feel bad for not knowing, because it’s not actually THAT big of a deal. This isn’t the kind of thing that will make people do a double take, thinking, “why does Kate look SO GORGEOUS today? Did she do something different with her hair? Did she drop some weight? WHAT is her secret!?

Nope. None of that will happen. I’m just having my deviated septum repaired, and once the swelling and bruising subside, I should look exactly the same. More symmetrical perhaps…but nothing anyone will notice. Unless of course, my nose ends up looking EVEN BIGGER once it’s not smushed to the side anymore… And wouldn’t THAT be my luck?

I was just getting used to the idea of spending weeks looking like someone bashed my face into a brick wall (even fearing that it would be more like months…), and NOW I’ve come to find out that it may not even happen due to a miscommunication.

This last minute glitch came up because not only do I have a deviated septum (don’t you love how I keep saying that, like I actually understand what it means?), the bridge of my nose is somewhat shifted to the left, dragging the whole shebang with it. So the only way to truly “fix” my nose is to break it. And THAT is automatically coded as “cosmetic.”

I can promise you that at age 41, with my three children, middle aged body and husband who actually likes the way I look, having a delicate Grace Kelly nose has long since fallen off my personal wish list. I don’t even want to look different anymore. It would change literally NOTHING in my life. So why bother?

The only reason that I’ve finally succumbed to the lure of facial symmetry is that I’m tired of sinus infections…and having to sleep propped up on four pillows…and the Breathe Right strips that don’t even work that well… And okay, fine – I do kind of wonder what else a straighter nose might mean for me. Maybe that slight nasal quality of my voice will disappear. Maybe I’ll be a better singer! Maybe I’ll finally be able to part my hair in the middle without looking like bad cubist painting. Maybe I really will look better.

So I guess a little curious vanity (or vain curiosity) figures into this surgery. The surgery that might not happen.

What is particularly infuriating is that it has taken me over 10 years to muster up enough courage to just do it already. When I was 30 and having the worst sinus infection of my life, an ENT told me that surgery could help. But I was TERRIFIED. I never had surgery before. Once I got the meds I needed, I never called back to follow up on his suggestion.

It didn’t help that as he walked into the examination room where I was waiting, the first thing that came out of his mouth was, “so when did you break your nose?” The answer was “never” and I was ready to explode from indignation. I was convinced that he was just another A-hole who thought all women wanted to look like Barbie. It was easier to dismiss him with that assumption than my ridiculous fear of going under the knife.

Since then, I gave birth to a 9 lb. baby, had a c-section for my twins, and cruised through a hernia repair surgery. I have suffered pain, fear and numerous indignities that made this deviated septum thing look like a joke. The c-section alone put everything into perspective. I mean, I had major abdominal surgery while awake forgodssake. I decided that I could probably handle a nose job.

So I found a surgeon in my insurance network and set up an appointment. The waiting room of the practice was my first indication that this was not going to be treated as a strictly medical procedure. The sleek furniture, flat screen TV display of very attractive people becoming even MORE attractive, and subtly placed photo books of before and after noses, lips and cheekbones made it quite clear that I would be getting the full plastic surgery appointment experience.

I was in my usual get up of a semi-clean tank top and jeans and only hoped that my frizzy summer hair and sweaty, make-up free face didn’t ruin the effect of the lovely reception area. I left that to the six year old twins I had in tow. I undoubtedly looked like a worn down suburban housewife in need of a chrysalis. So I guess I fit right in.

I explained to the doctor that my goal was better breathing, and he winked and said, “suuuurrre it is.” KIDDING! But he did say that he would take pictures to give me ideas for some small changes I could make. Just something to consider.

The plan was to send me computer generated before and after images, and then have another appointment to discuss the plan for moving forward.

KathrynH0

KathrynH1

Is it me – or do these look almost exactly the same!? Well – on my phone they did… It’s a little easier to see changes on a bigger screen. But STILL – not a huge change, right?

My doctor’s e-mail stated, “Here are the computer images I created to show you my cosmetic goals for your nose.” So it was pretty clear that we were having that conversation no matter what my better breathing goals were.

And really – I didn’t mind. I had long since gotten over taking offense when people who fix noses for a living think that I could use a little help with mine. It’s kind of their job right?

In our follow up appointment he gave me the “you but better” pitch. This was only marginally demoralizing since he felt I just needed a little bit of work to slim the tip of my nose (the word “bulbous” came up several times) and trim off the slight bump that is visible in my profile. It wasn’t all that different from the times my hair stylist has tried to talk me into layers.

I listened – and even found the presentation rather compelling – but in the end, I confessed that unless insurance wanted to pay for “me but better,” I was most likely going to have to settle for “me.”

I explained that I really just needed to get this breathing issue fixed. He seemed pretty understanding, but encouraged me to discuss their payment plan options with his coordinator who would be submitting everything to insurance.

Honestly? I was just being polite. There is NO WAY were can spend $6,000 to make my nose look slightly better – payment plan or not. When I relayed the story to Chris he agreed – said it was a complete waste money and if we were spending $6,000 on any part of my body it was going to be bigger boobs. Yay men!

I called the coordinator the next day to confirm that “me but better” wasn’t happening – just the medical repairs, please. Then I said I’d call in November to set up an early 2014 surgery date, as I’m just vain enough to not want a swollen face for the holidays.

All was going according to plan until my pre-op appointment last week. Apparently, my doctor was under the impression that we were doing the full me-but-better surgery since that was “what we last discussed” and the coordinator didn’t inform him of the update. This shouldn’t have been a big deal (just a frowny face on his part since he couldn’t make me prettier) – but it actually means that my insurance company didn’t get all of the information that THEY need.

The coordinator didn’t realize that my nose is so completely fucked up that the little septum repair codes she submitted to wouldn’t cover the procedure required to move my bridge back into alignment. So she now had only two weeks to submit ANOTHER code that is generally used for cosmetic work and almost always gets a big NOPE, and requires that they make a case for the medical side of things, blah blah blah.

Are you still with me? If not, I don’t blame you… Even I find the whole thing incredibly tedious. If I had $6,000 on hand I would probably say, “here – do what you have to do, I just really need to get to that vacuuming today…”

Please don’t think I’m upset about this or anything… I know everyone meant well. The doctor just wants me to be the best me possible. And the coordinator just isn’t a doctor. And I just really want some ice cream – but that is largely unrelated to this story. The real problem is that the doctor and I had different “goals” and assumed that “ours” would be the final decision.

I listened to him talk thinking, “okay – I’ll nod and look interested to be polite, but I think I made it clear that I’m not paying out of pocket for anything.” And he listened to himself talk thinking, “I know you don’t want to spend the money, but after looking at these fancy pictures you’ll HAVE to change your mind ‘cause obvs – you’re hideous.”

Whatever – we’re all on the same page now. We agreed to see what happens with insurance. Then we each went our separate ways to have a good ol’ eye roll at the others’ expense.

Do I want this surgery to work out? To be honest, it’s kind of a HUGE pain in the ass and I wouldn’t mind not having to deal with it… I HAVE been living with this nose for over 10 years… On the other hand, I was starting to like the idea of a better me. Breathing better would be nice and having a straighter nose would most likely mean looking better too… I guess I’m not such a grownup now that I don’t fall into that shallow trap of thinking a change in my appearance might make me happier.

I don’t have an end for this story. It’s very much “to be continued.” But at some point this year, I will have a straighter nose (bulbous tip notwithstanding). I will be able to breathe better. And I will definitely be mindful of the fact that any trips to the plastic surgeon should include the disclaimer that our family will not be paying out of pocket for cosmetic procedures…though, bigger boobs aren’t completely off the table.

2/17/14 UPDATE:

I did not end up having surgery last week. Funny enough, it had nothing to do with insurance which we were able to sort out. It was just that it started snowing. And didn’t stop.

Surgery got cancelled and is now rescheduled for the 24th. As for what the surgery will be… Insurance won’t cover the nose breaking. Even if it’s for medical purposes. Apparently, it is specifically written into our policy that there will be no breaking of noses on their dime – better breathing goals or not! They probably used more professional terminology, but this came to me second hand from the coordinator.

Yes – it’s somewhat disappointing since my breathing won’t be 100% better (and when I have surgery, I’m generally in it to win it) – BUT my surgeon feels confident that I will notice a significant improvement with just the septoplasty (there! a medical term!) And the recovery time will be better. So that’s a perk.

The only risk to not doing the full face bashing is that a septoplasty-only procedure MAY create a small bump on the top of my nose (or a bigger one than I already have).

In summary: surgery will happen but my nose will not be broken, and this may or may not make me look a little different – possibly with a slightly larger bump on my nose. So while I definitely won’t look like Me but Better, there is a fair chance I will look like Me but Bumpier. Wish me luck!

The Twelve Days of Binging

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HAPPY HOLIDAY BINGING from The Big Piece of Cake!

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.

They Coulda’ Been Great… February 2013 Facebook Upates

I have a few half written posts that I swear I will finish one of these days (except for the Christmas one – that shelf life has long since expired…) But I don’t seem to have time for more than the odd Facebook update here and there. So I guess I’ll just continue with my “this could have been a blog post” series on Facebook updates that…well, could have been blog posts. For an explanation of this foolishness, click HERE. Otherwise, heeeeeeere’s FEBRUARY!


February 3

9:30 a.m.

Our poor black dog, Alice looks like she has dandruff on her head. Oliver decided to give her a toothpaste shampoo. Obviously.


February 4

6:30 p.m.

Arrived in a box amidst a jumble of memorabilia from Chris’ parents’ house (they are moving: i.e. unloading boxes of crap on their kids). I’m calling it The Ring of Power.


February 4

9:30 p.m.

Some people may call eating dinner at 9:30 not being able to get your act together…I like to call it “being European.”


February 5

4:35 p.m.

I don’t think I will ever in my life spell ocassion correctly the FIRST time. I mean occassion. Occasion?

7:20 p.m.

If George takes 2 hours to eat four chicken nuggets AGAIN, I may lose my mind… I mean, seriously. How many issues with breading can one person have?!


February 6

9:00 p.m.

If I end up dying young, it will undoubtedly be the result of our dog, Alice tripping me on the stairs. She LIVES directly under my feet!


February 7

5:35 p.m.

“No! Toothpaste is not soap. It is for teeth. Not washing hands…or dogs.”

I actually say these things.


February 10

7:50 p.m.

Major quandary about Downton Abbey and The Walking Dead being on at the same time… What does this say about me?

Though in my defense, my husband does figure in. I would prefer watch Downton and catch TWD later… Marriage is all about compromise!


February 11

8:10 p.m.

“NOT UNTIL YOU STAY IN YOUR OWN SQUARE AND STOP TOUCHING OTHER PEOPLE!”

Only people with kids will think this statement sounds remotely normal.

9:30 p.m.

I always know that my dog Alice’s water bowl is empty when I hear her drinking out of the toilet. One would think that this would make me more vigilant about checking her supply. One would be wrong.

Related: my children are inconsistent flushers.

We’re all about the class.


February 12

7:5o p.m.

“We never throw our underwear at someone’s face!”

So many teachable moments…


February 13

6:30 p.m.

One of my children to another one of my children: “Stop playing with my nails!”

Me: “The fact that he had to ask that is weird enough. Please stop doing it.”


February 14

2:30 p.m.

Sometimes I open my e-mail and think, “why did I subscribe to Goop.com?” I mean – when do I ever actually open those e-mails? So instead of unsubscribing, I just delete the message and reenact this scene again the following day…


February 17

9:30 a.m.

Me (to our dog): Alice – why do you always want to play with ME? You know I’m not fun!

Eleanor: Well…sometimes you are.

Gee thanks.


February 19

8:05 a.m.

He returned from his business trip over 3 weeks ago…But on the upside, someone is finally using that hideous dog bed.

IMG_6152

February 19

7:00 p.m.

No idea what this is all about – but I’m IN.

IMG_6154


February 21

5:00 p.m.

Trying to get something rather time sensitive done on the computer and the kids won’t leave me alone. Hello! I’ve given you all snacks, drinks, suggestions for entertainment, TELEVISION… Giving serious thought to tossing a bag of unopened candy downstairs and telling them that they’re not allowed to eat it. That should keep them busy (and quiet) for a good hour…

8:20 p.m.

Me: Hey – now that Eleanor’s cast is off, you can all start taking the bus again.

George: Yay! I love the bus. You can find candy under the seats.

Me: Why are you telling me this?

George: It’s like a scavenger hunt!


February 26

2:10 p.m.

Holding this in mine today…

IMG_6178

5:20 p.m.

They put one on EVERY DOOR in the house. And on a couple of chairs. And a lamp.

IMG_6180


February 28

6:00 p.m.

Eleanor: Isn’t it weird how babies are always born on their birthday?

Uh….

*****

That’s it! Check back in a few weeks for March updates (spoiler: I throw a party because The Mindy Project is renewed by Fox for another season).

What’s Your Status? (Alternatively Titled: They Coulda’ Been Great) – January 2013 Facebook Upates

Remember when we used to write regularly in our blogs and people would even READ what we wrote and possibly COMMENT? And we would read other blogs and comment and stuff too. And there would be this whole communication thing going on…what did we call it back then? OH YEAH – blogging.

Now we do this on Facebook and Twitter.

Recently, it occurred to me that half (if not most) of what I post on Facebook constitutes the beginnings of a blog post. Back in the good ol’ days I mean. Each of these little one liners or bits of dialogue could have been worked into an entire story on my blog. They could have been whole posts. They coulda’ been great! Not to mention the fact that only 10% of my family is actually on Facebook. That’s right, Chris, Mom, etc. are missing ALL of this stuff.

So I’m starting a new monthly feature: “What’s Your Status?” I will do somewhat of a round up of all of my original Facebook posts (original meaning no link shares or the ever prolific someecards).

So here they are – all of the late-to-the-gamers. They could have been something. They coulda’ been a contender!

I think that covers it. Feel free to join in on this. Here is my January “could have been’s”:


January 1

6:00 p.m.

George: MOM! There are three steps to reading. FIRST! You open the book. SECOND! You look at the letters….oh yeah, there are TWO steps to reading.

11:15 p.m.

Just looked in the mirror, and I have to say – there is NOTHING sexier than a woman wearing a men’s t-shirt, voluminous fleece pajama bottoms and a Breathe Right strip. And MY husband gets to climb into bed with that EV-RY NIGHT. That lucky devil.


January 5

4:20 p.m.

Just got back from the ER. My ankle swelled up for no apparent reason and I decided that it must be a blood clot. Such an alarmist…of course I was wrong, but the doctors are just as clueless as I am. Nothing showed up in x-rays – so they are going to treat for infection. My diagnosis is “cellulitis.” Sadly, unlike the well known appendicitis scenario, treatment for cellulitis will not involve the removal of my cellulite. BUT I did get a prescription for Vicodin and orders to stay off my feet for a couple of days so I’LL TAKE IT.


January 6

5:30 p.m.

It’s Alice’s birthday! She’s really excited about this…

6:45 p.m.

“Okay – I don’t know who started it, but I want you both to STOP.” (If you ever doubted that you would turn into your parents…)

9:45 p.m.

If I have to get old, I want to be just like the Downton matriarchs. Can’t decide which one…


January 8

10:40 p.m.

Should I be embarrassed that when I looked an actor up online to see why he looked SO familiar to me, it was because he was in Hot Tub Time Machine? Related: Hot Tub Time Machine was HILARIOUS.


January 9

3:15 p.m.

Volunteered in my daughter’s K-1 art class today and found out that there actually IS a teenage boy lurking inside me. It happened when the teacher said (without ANY hint of irony), “now remember to be careful with those black markers…because once you use black, it’s hard to go back.”

I’m not kidding.


January 12

3:15 p.m.

Just drove somewhere with Oliver – and when I looked in the rear view mirror, I saw him sitting there with a lollipop.

Me: Oliver – where do you get that lollipop?

Oliver: from the car.

Me: [not really wanting to hear the answer] Was it wrapped?

Oliver: No.

Of course not…


January 15

10:30 a.m.

For some reason I am freezing today. Actually changed back into my fleece pajama bottoms! But then again, isn’t wearing fleece pajama bottoms one of the primary incentives for working from home?


January 16

5:15 p.m.

Never ceases to amaze me how quickly I can clear a room by asking, “hey – who wants to do homework?” Useful.


January 17

8:05 a.m.

Everyone knows that Martin Luther King received a Nobel Peace Prize. BUT did you also know that he once modeled Maybelline’s new Spring line of lipsticks?


January 18

9:30 a.m.

I just identified a new milestone in the gradual submission to suburban life. When you realize you have both indoor AND outdoor slippers. Deadly when combined with “still wearing your fleece pajama bottoms when you walk the dog at 7 a.m.”


January 20

2:30 p.m.

This morning Oliver and I were chatting, and he (obviously quoting something he heard on TV) said in a cartoon voice, “listen jerk!” I gasped and asked, “WHO said that?”

His response? “I did.”

Of course, so silly of me…


January 21

8:30 p.m.

Should I be embarrassed that I’m watching The Carrie Diaries? Probably…right?


January 22

12:15 p.m.

You know when it’s SO COLD outside that your house feels like an icebox and there aren’t enough sweaters in THE WORLD…so you decide to take a hot shower, but then you have to get out (because – you know, you ran out of hot water) and then it’s a bajillion times worse because now you are cold AND wet? All I have to say is thank the blessed mother of Thomas Edison for hair dryers. And heating pads! Off to look for our heating pad…

6:45 p.m.

You know the evening has degenerated when you have to yell “no touching butts!” more than once.


January 23

11:10 a.m.

Time to call animal control…full story on The Big Piece of Cake today.

2:30 p.m.

Bat update: Animal control feels no connection to my bat – said I should call an exterminator. Exterminators are not concerned about the bat devouring us in our sleep – will come tomorrow to “see if they can do anything for us.” Will report back on whether the bat makes its move and we join the Cullen Family. Please pray for us, as I am emphatically Team Jacob.


January 26

1:45 p.m.

In case you were wondering – I’m getting used to the bat in my window. Not that I’ll cry if the promised 60 degree weather inspires him to leave us…

6:05 p.m.

Eleanor just said, “Mom guess what animal I love even MORE than horses now? Dolphins!”

She is such a girl…bracing myself for puffy letter writing and unicorn pictures.


January 27

10:45 a.m.

One of these days, those “be a secret shopper” people are going to wear me down with their incessant e-mails…

1:05 p.m.

So this morning on Sid the Science Kid, the preschool has a day off and Sid is bummed that he won’t see his friends. But SURPRISE – his mom invited all of his friends over for the day (as if!). Then all of the kids lament how much they miss their teacher. But SURPRISE – Sid’s Mom ALSO invited their teacher! Because that’s exactly what teachers want to do on their day off – hang out with their students.

7:45 p.m.

George: Ahhh! Ahhh!
Me: What?! What’s wrong?!
George: My eye! My eye!
Me: What’s wrong with your eye?!
George: Towel! I need a [wet] towel!
Me: [running from kitchen with wet paper towel] Here! What happened?!
George: Wait…it doesn’t hurt anymore.
Me: Oh.
George: Wait…Ahhh! Ahhh! My eye!
Me: [handing him the wet paper towel] HERE!
George: Okay – that’s better….[then looks at the towel and sees a pink splotch – part of the print on the cheap Viva I buy) Ahhh! Ahhh! Blood!
Me: That’s not blood! It’s just the pattern on the paper towel.
George: Oh. Heh.

Someone seems to have inherited his father’s flair for the drama…and his ability to laugh at the ridiculousness of it. Though it really does take something as indisputable as “the pattern on the paper towel”…


January 28

8:25 a.m.

E: Bats are like people. They have 5 fingers. Me: How do you know that? E: Because I counted. #science Also? That’s his tail. #eeewww!


January 31

10:55 a.m.

So – we lost our bat yesterday. If you’ve been following along, you can read the final installment here (scroll to the bottom).
********

Okay – I cheated.  I did write about the bat here… It just felt like such a BIG part of my January Facebook chit chat… But everything else is 100% wasted time on social media!

I’ll put February up in a couple of weeks. But in the meantime – what’s YOUR status?

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.

They Coulda’ Been Great: 2012

8/21/13

I know… A “They Coulda’ Been Great” post for ALL of 2012. ALLOFIT. Oh – there’s not that much of it – I was a sporadic poster that year.

I’ve had so much fun looking back at the silliness evidenced in my 2013 Facebook status updates, that I decided to stroll down memory lane in 2012 (totally worth it if you post funny stories about your kids). Anyway – I dumped it all in a Word doc and decided to post the whole damn thing here.

Yes – I posted it retroactively for December 31, 2012… But I have a thing for chronological order. If this is the first time you are seeing anything about this, my first “They Coulda’ Been Great” post was for January 2013. It explains everything. The impact of social media on blogging, writing, community… Whatever – I write some funny stuff on Facebook and then I post it all on my blog. It’s my new thing. Hope you enjoy it.

Here is 2012 (yes – all of it – allofit, even)!


February 3

7:05 p.m.

Look what just arrived! Thank you to Eleanor who took the picture and suggested a little lip gloss (though she neglected to mention a much needed push up bra…) Stephanie Dulli and I are now READY for those Listen to Your Mother DC auditions. Should we wear our new shirts? Oh – I think so…

IMG_4432


February 4

12:00 p.m.

Eleanor just held something out for me to see, saying, “George thinks this is a tooth.” And…George is right. Half right…as it is HALF a tooth. Must be one of Oliver’s baby teeth that they all played with and LOST before it could be placed under a pillow for the Tooth Fairy. Eleanor’s reaction to this revelation: Gingerly handed it to me, and wrinkling her nose in an excellent “Mom” impersonation said, “well…I don’t think we need it anymore.”


February 16

4:55 p.m.

So….holiday binge eating lasts roughly from Thanksgiving through Valentine’s Day, right? Or is it St. Patrick’s Day? I can never remember…


March 19

1:50 p.m.

Great pictures from the St. Patrick’s Day celebration at the Reston Town Center! But this one reminds me of what a disaster Eleanor was last night… She was beside herself about her face paint washing off in the tub. Cried (SOBBED) for an hour straight. By the end, I was ready to take a permanent marker to her face and call it a day!

DSC_0154


April 9

5:00 p.m.

Out of all of my annoyed demands that they just smile for the camera, already!…of course, this is the kind of picture I like best.

DSC_0382


April 17

4:40 p.m.

First of all! That is NOT our trash can! Second of all – we NEVER play in trash cans! Life in the suburbs…


April 18

2:15 p.m.

I just spent the last hour mesmerized by the Saturday Night Fever Glee. I think I like Disco a little too much…


April 19

7:40 p.m.

I was totally congratulating myself on FINALLY having kids old enough that I don’t have to supervise them when they wake up at the crack of dawn. Then today, I noticed that Oliver has been getting into the ice cream… So much for sleeping in.


April 21

10:05 a.m.

I’m getting really excited for my 40th birthday next week since it means I will be biologically TOO OLD for teenager-like acne breakouts. Right? Right?!?!

6:50 p.m.

Eleanor lost her first tooth! This is always the most awkward shot…trying to see a gap in the BOTTOM teeth…

DSC_0903


April 22

8:30 a.m.

This is Eleanor’s new Barbie. She’s a “horse doctor.” Like a female James Herriott…in satin hot pants.

540010_3399938712063_1936921672_n


April 24

10:35 a.m.

Filed under things that happen when 5-year-olds in hospital gowns have to wait over 30 minutes for their doctor.

IMG_4844

11:15 a.m.

And in a shocking turn of events…We discovered that somewhere in the midst of all of the twins’ sick visits to the doctor, I forgot to schedule their 2011 well check. Mother of the year! Let’s celebrate with extra inoculations all around! I’m mortified…


April 29

4:20 p.m.

I have 3 children and the oldest just turned 7. How is it possible that today is FIRST day that I ever removed a splinter for one of them? Eleanor had one in her finger. Twenty minutes of wailing and running away from me – then a two-second removal with tweezers. With all of the screaming she did, I wonder if our neighbors thought I was removing her fingernail!


April 30

8:50 a.m.

Eleanor: Mama can I have some breakfast?

Me: Sure – what do you want?

Eleanor: I don’t know – what are the offers.

Let me check today’s circulars…


May 4

1:30 a.m.

A middle of the night thought: Is it still possible to invent a new emoticon? Or has every possible combination of symbols now been used?

Related: I hate emoticons.

Also: I now use ” :) ” regularly because I worry about people thinking I’m being serious when I’m kidding and assuming that I’m mad or just really bitchy.

Either way, I always feel like a sell out.

:)


May 5

12:45 p.m.

Know what’s awesome about my mother and mother in law? They come into my disorganized house with its layers of dust and grimy surfaces, and they don’t judge or pointedly scrub counters in front of me. The downside? No free cleaning services.


May 6

11:01 p.m.

I’m exhausted – and I can’t believe the show is over. Though I expect my friends will be thrilled to see my months of shameless self promotion come to an end… Anyway – I want to say thank you to our incandescent Director, Stephanie Dulli and our brave and beautiful Listen to Your Mother DC cast (listed below as “with” since even FB thinks my LTYM reign of terror needs to end and therefore refuses to let me tag more than a few people at a time…) Couldn’t include our first reader (and theme inspiration), Cindy Green since she has of yet to accept my friend request – humph! But seriously – I am in awe of these women and the stories they have to tell. It was an honor to share a stage with them.

11:40 p.m.

On last thing before I stagger off to bed, Stephanie’s husband Zach tweeted this picture of me at the podium during my reading. Is it me, or do I actually look like a giant Oscar award?

LTYM pic


May 7

2:45 p.m.

Eleanor is cracking me up! A relative gave her this paper doll fashion show thing, and after spending the morning coloring them all in, she’s now stationing the dolls around the house in their “homes.” One lives on the dining room table, one on the kitchen counter, one on a living room chair…

And now apparently, ALL the dolls are abuzz with news about a fashion show taking place in HERNDON. Every time I hear her gasp, “OH! You’re going to the fashion show in Herndon too?!” I die laughing. Then one of the dolls exclaimed, “Herndon? That’s really far for me – I’ll have to drive.” So I interjected, “really? Herndon is far for her?” To this Eleanor gave me a quizzical look and said, “well yes. She lives all the way at the refrigerator.”

Eleanor paper dolls

8:05 p.m.

Typical conversation pattern between Chris and me:

Chris: So Cathy Trocchia said she DID go to the show.

Me: Yes – she sent me a message. But I don’t know if Jamie Seifert made it.

Chris: No – Jamie didn’t go.

Me: Oh really? Why – did something come up?

Chris: [shrug - "why are you asking me insane questions" face] I don’t know.

Me: What do you mean, “I don’t know?”

Chris: [more "why the interrogation?" faces] I just don’t. WHY would I know that?

Me: Because you know that she didn’t come – which means either she or Cathy told you that she didn’t come or wasn’t going to be able to come. And women don’t just say “I’m not going” or “I didn’t go” – they give each other reasons. In my world, we tell each other “WHY” we do or don’t do things.

Chris: ["you are crazy" look]

The End

Editor’s note: This was a Mars/Venus anecdote about my incredulity over how Chris always reports “what” information and never “why.” Not about my friend Jamie who obviously had something come up yesterday. She is darling and always answers questions with WHY information, like a good female.


May 14

9:15 a.m.

So I just discovered a major perk to turning 40. I no longer agonize over what to call my mother in law’s friends in thank you notes. Paula or Mrs. Garlick? I’m freaking 40 years old – I think I can just go with Paula!

Now I’m looking forward to turning 50. Because THEN I will no longer feel required to write thank you notes.


May 17

8:00 p.m.

Typical almost-3:00 p.m. scene: I have to get to preschool pick up right now! But I can’t find my keys…where are they?…searching…searching…not in my purse…not in the kitchen…not on the bed…not in the bathroom…not in the refrigerator (yes – I’m checking everywhere)…where can they be?! Now I’m late! No more time to look…where is that spare key?…Excellent! Right where it should be. I’m not THAT late…just a few minutes. No one will even notice. Out the front door! Make sure it’s locked! Wait – what’s that? Oh. … The key.

Note to self: first place to look for my keys would be IN the front door.

Also? This happens frequently.


May 23

8:25 p.m.

I have been so much better about FB lately… But I’ve been offline for a few days due to THIS! Meet Alice – a 5 month old rescue puppy that Chris brought home while I was at Christy Wood’s wedding reception in NYC. Chris and Oliver picked her out and I have to admit – she’s perfect for our family. She doesn’t chew shoes – but keep an eye on your Hungry Hungry Hippos marbles….

IMG_5028


May 25

8:20 p.m.

I think I may be the dumbest person on the planet. Just today, I realized that some of the AMAZING photographers I see on Twitter and FB, are capturing those images of a crystal clear face amidst a blur of people, flowers, toys…what have you, using INSTAGRAM! Side note: I just started using Instagram!

8:28 p.m.

Also, remember when I wrote I’m Shy Every Day? WELL – today was the twins’ preschool graduation and all of the kids got up and said what they wanted to be when they grew up (George said sky diver and Eleanor said horse rider). But little miss “I’m shy every day” herself made my day/week/year when she faced the crowd and answered “Rock Star.” I almost cried – it was just that AWESOME.


May 27

7:35 p.m.

Am I a bad pet owner if I find his annoying? I am so tired… I would happily lie down on the floor if I thought I could get away with it. Now that it’s 7:30 p.m., I’m pretty sure that I missed the Sunday nap window. Yet Chris always manages to catch both (yes – there are two). And this dog…she mocks my fatigue with her spontaneous snoozing.

IMG_5089


June 2

5:00 p.m.

Eleanor: Mama – what should I draw?

Me: The sun.

Eleanor: And what?

Me: And….flowers growing.

Eleanor: OR! How about people sitting under mushrooms – GIANT mushrooms – because it’s so hot?

Why does she even ask me?


June 12

5:25 p.m.

Our boring, rainy day inside has just hit a new low. The twins are now taking turns whacking each other with a package of cookie dough (the old school roll kind).


July 8

10:55 a.m.

Between the kids and the puppy, I sometimes feel like my whole life smells like pee pee.

Unrelated: everything is always sticky.


July 9

8:10 p.m.

Me: Oliver – go downstairs and get your ice cream bowl.

Oliver: [coming back upstairs - without the bowl] Gross! Alice [the dog] was licking it!

Me: Are you serious? You have touched some of the most disgusting…YOU have touched AT LEAST five dead animals. Go get that bowl!

Epilogue: the dishwasher is running and the licked ice cream bowl is still downstairs.


July 13

4:45 p.m.

Favorite moment of the week: running down to the basement to get something and finding my tiny 5-year-old, George dancing his heart out to Just Dance II (which my kids call “Dance Party”). The song: It’s Raining Men.

5:00 p.m.

Actual conversation I just had with my five year old daughter:

[sound of kids playing a loud/rambunctious game involving stuffed animals.]

Eleanor: [enters the dining room looking very pouty and put out about something] Mommy, Oliver is only doing the other animals and he won’t do my hippo.

Me: [yelling into the other room] OLIVER! Do Eleanor’s hippo. Right now!

My life is weird.


July 14

11:45 a.m.

I love listening to Oliver’s chatter these days. The combination of his communication delays, fast growing vocabulary and exposure to television makes for many moments of hilarity.

Oliver: [telling me something about Cars 2] And then Professor Z told his fugs…

Me: Fugs?

Oliver: Yeah – fugs.

Me: What are fugs?

Oliver: [perplexed by my ignorance] They’re trouble making villains.


July 17

7:10 p.m.

When you open a bag of ramen noodles and little noodle shards fly everywhere.


July 18

11:10 a.m.

After watching many episodes of The Dog Whisperer, we’ve concluded that we really need to meet with a dog trainer to discuss Alice’s “issues.” So of course the kids keep referring to the guy coming on Saturday as “The Dog Whisperer.” Wonder how disappointed they’ll be when Cesar Millan doesn’t show up on our doorstep…


July 21

7:30 p.m.

Am I the only one who finds the FB default to “top stories” sort annoying? Who is deciding what is a top story? Is this some kind of Netflix-like, “based on your recent selections” thing? Just show me the most recent status updates so I’m not commenting on things that happened two days ago, okay? Or at least default to most recent because I’m FB-challenged and never remember to manually select that.

Guess I should check settings or something to see if I can change this.

Listed under “things I have in common with your parents.”


July 22

4:35 p.m.

My neighbor and I had a twinsies moment today when we both walked out wearing the same Target tank top. Same style – same color – probably the same size. Ah – suburbia… I would say it was all very Stepford wife – but you know…Target. Cathy – in our next life, let’s reenact that scene in something a bit more upmarket.


July 25

11:55 a.m.

So, fun drive to the twins’ first day of camp. Since parking would be feet away from check in, I went ahead and brought the dog. Halfway there, she jumped up next to me and I said, “PEE-YEW Alice. You smell like dog food.” Then George yelled, “Gross! Alice puked!” I looked back and sure enough – two huge piles – one on the back seat next to George and one of the floor. And then – THEN – she leaned over and puked on my leg.

Seriously. HOW do people live without pets.


August 1

2:30 p.m.

I had no idea that black and white hides wrinkles so well. I’ll never go back to color!

BW


August 9

8:45 p.m.

I see Oliver taking chalk down to the basement. And I ask “what are you doing with the chalk.” He says “I’m going to draw a picture,” as he scampers out of sight. Then I frantically yell after him, “on the chalkboard? ON THE CHALKBOARD?!

It’s a legitimate question…


August 16

5:50 p.m.

So Alice is a total money pit… I feel like I’m at the vet with her weekly. Today’s reason: tail biting. Seriously? Here is a pic of her cone head. A dog rite of passage she’s not enjoying one little bit.

IMG_5384


August 22

8:00 p.m.

Eleanor REALLY doesn’t like the movie Spy Kids. Her (dramatic) review: “It’s like a kid horror movie…it’s really scary…and pretty cruel.” I remember seeing previews…and that was not my take…but I guess we’re all entitled to our opinions.


August 24

5:50 p.m.

The twins had afternoon camp this week, so Oliver had me all to himself. Since this NEVER happens (he’s always getting pushed aside with all of their grabby neediness), I thought I’d do something fun with him every day. We went to the farm, the zoo…miniature golf…a WATER PARK. But here’s the problem: I’m intrinsically not very fun. And I would never choose to do any of those things without the incentive of making my son happy. It was taxing…but boy does he look happy, right?

IMG_5605


August 31

9:30 a.m.

Woods walk feather

IMG_5714

September 5

6:55 p.m.

George: The inside of my body is very hot, right?

Me: Yes, it’s warm inside our bodies.

George: But the outside of our bodies is very COLD!

Me: No…not cold. The outside of our bodies would be cooler than the inside though.

George: OH! so only when it’s WINDY.

Me: …

[five minutes later]

George: [holds up an arm] Mom – I’m not skinny anymore!

Me: Well…you’re still pretty slim…

George: So just a little skinny.

Me: Just a little.

George: But Eleanor isn’t as skinny.

Me: She’s just a little skinny too.

George: Mom – do you know what your boobs are for?

Me: WHAT?!

George: Do you know what your…

Me: Yes – I heard you the first time. And I’m dying to know – what do YOU think they are for?

George: For breathing!

Of course.

This is George’s idea of pleasant dinner conversation. What did you discuss this evening?


September 13

3:00 p.m.

Just remembered something I meant to tell you yesterday… I was driving home from the store with the windows down since it was GORGEOUS outside. And as I’m driving 50 MPH down a fairly busy street something fell through the window and into my lap. My first thought was that it was an acorn since the local squirrels like to throw them down at people (why not cars?) But I wasn’t near any trees. So I then assumed it must have been some kind of debris blowing back off a truck that had just passed me. Either way – it had fallen right between my legs and rolled down, almost under me. I then had to reach, well…you know where, to try to retrieve this mystery object while keeping my eyes on the road. And as I brought it up in my cupped hand to take a look, I discovered that it was a GIANT BUMBLEBEE. So I screamed, threw it out the window and indulged in a moment of silent gratitude for not getting into an accident.

So how about you? How was your day?


September 19

9:05 p.m.

My son, Oliver is so weird…

IMG_5753


September 26

7:25 a.m.

An important reminder for my little girl who likes lunch notes and has so little confidence sometimes…

IMG_5776

7:50 a.m.

Are ladybugs lucky? And if so, does the luck increase with the number of spots? Let me know, because a ladybug with 20 spots is sitting on a kid-made vase on my bedside table. And I could really use some luck…

IMG_5778


October 7

2:55 p.m.

Group Effort

IMG_5790


October 24

9:15 p.m.

It’s the World Series and my poor husband is stuck watching it with ME. My level of interest is reflected by insights such as “that guy looks like Luke Wilson.” [Justin Verlander] I’ve also spotted players who remind me of Justin Timberlake and Antonio Banderas. Epilogue: I brought a book.


November 11

6:00 p.m.

Hierarchy

IMG_5952


November 7

10:25 a.m.

Post election morning banter at my house:

Me: George – get dressed. You have to wear pants to Kindergarten.

George: [slamming his tiny body into my legs for the 10th time in 10 seconds] I put my penis on you!

Me: Don’t put your penis on people. It’s not polite.

George: AND it’s no use.

Me: Usually.


November 13

5:20 p.m.

George: Mom – your self can control yourself, right?

Me: One would hope.


November 14

7:50 a.m.

Sometimes when I find myself battling the dog for bed space, I have to wonder how it came to this…


November 19

6:50 p.m.

Listening to Kung Fu Fighting, Car Wash, Fire, Flashlight… I have to say, that Pure Funk CD may have been my very best purchase of the ’90s


November 22

8:35 p.m.

Hand turkeys waving goodbye. See you next Thanksgiving!

IMG_5969


November 28

2:35 p.m.

What was life like before chocolate chips…? Leaner I think – but perhaps a bit soulless…


December 1

2:00 p.m.

Started a shopping list and had to stop when I suspected that I may currently be possessed by Buddy the Elf.

IMG_5978


December 2

11:50 p.m.

Is it just me – or do other people say “Pierce Brosnan” when they really mean “Bronson Pinchot”? Maybe it’s just me…


December 6

9:30 a.m.

Exciting morning! We were running late for the school bus – so I decided to drive the kids to school. George was ready first, so I told him to just get in the car. When the rest of us left the house several minutes later – he was nowhere to be found. Eleanor ran up to the bus stop to check and see if he was there (it’s happened before). Not there. Not in front of the house – not behind the house – not IN the house. Now I’m worried and drive the others (and the dog) up to the bus stop to look around there. Not there. Leave all in the locked car while I run back toward our house and call the school. They put me on hold to look for George and I continue to call his name, wondering if a neighbor could have thought he was left behind and taken him to school. Then a neighbor hears me and tells me that he GOT ON THE BUS (which must have been running late). Ran back to car to console crying siblings and drive them to school, where I stayed for a while to have a talk with Mr. George. Side note: this is about the 10th time I’ve spent more than 5 minutes running around my neighborhood calling frantically for one of my lost little boys. Epilogue: I am at Starbucks ordering coffee.


December 8

1:00 p.m.

George: Mom, remember a long, long time ago…we were demons.

Me: What?

George: No, I mean we were those guys from a long, long time ago and then we turned into Pilgrims.

Me: We did?

George: Yeah and then we turned into animals and then we turned into this place.

Me: What’s that?

George: Well, first we were in a tummy and then we got bigger and then we were two years old and then older and older and nine years old…

Me: So wait, first we were demons?

George: And you know what’s even badder than the devil?

Me: What?

George: DEMONS! Because they are huge.

I’m totally lost.


December 10

12:40 p.m.

Working on a database. Forgot how entertaining long lists of names can be. “Sarah Fawcett.” Subtle – but still cracks me up.


December 11

7:05 p.m.

I have now clocked enough hours in proximity of children’s shows on the TV that I can hear a character’s voice in an unknown cartoon and say, “hey that sounds like Quincy [Little Einsteins].” This is not the first time I’ve identified cartoon voice overs. If there was a game show for this I’d win big.


December 15

10:35 a.m.

It’s hard to not feel sad today… But I try to remind myself that everything is fine until it’s not. And when everything in your own life is fine, you have to go with it. Because when it’s not, you never really get fine back.

As much as my heart breaks for everyone who has ever lost a child, today I’m going to put all of my energy into making sure my own children who are so very HERE right now, know just how much they are loved. I’ll feel sad on my time – not theirs.


December 16

3:55 p.m.

Decided to take the dog out for a long walk. But only just now, one mile out did I remember letting Eleanor put makeup on me. Like an hour ago. And I should note that she’s not a light touch with the eye shadow…


December 17

6:05 p.m.

After a visit to the dentist…

Eleanor: Mom – look at my new toothbrush!

Me: Very nice. Why don’t you put it in the bathroom – we can get rid of your old one.

Eleanor: [back from the bathroom and showing me her old toothbrush] What should we do with it?

Me: Throw it out.

Eleanor: Gasp! Throw it out?? Why don’t we just sell it or something?

I don’t know…what do you guys think? Ebay or Craig’s List?

9:25 p.m.

By the way – if you have an Elf on the Shelf and hear the cynical observation: “he can’t be real – he has a TAG…like toys in the toy store.” Give your kids a conspiratorial look and say, “he’s in disguise. The tag is part of the whole ‘toy by day’ thing.” Makes your kids think they’re in on the subterfuge.


December 19

4:40 p.m.

Now THAT’S an old recipe!

IMG_5985

7:00 p.m.

George: Mom! Overblah in French means “bye!” Always fermember it!

Not sure how much of that is misunderstanding French or how much is misunderstanding English….

7:40 p.m.

Chris was explaining Hanukah to George, who is now talking about the big battle between the Cereals and the Macabeans.


December 21

3:40 p.m.

Yesterday, I discovered that my kids were wrapping random objects from our house as presents for their grandparents. As much as I know my mother would love her roll of silver wire ribbon from Michael’s…I had to shut that down before they got into the good china.


December 27

4:40 p.m.

PSA for future parents: As you are considering the number of children you hope to have in your family, figure in the number of shoes and coats you would like to have strewn across your floor at any given time. (Note to the ladies: include your husband’s coat and shoes in your calculations.)

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…