Tag Archives: That Man of Mine

They Coulda’ Been Great: September-December 2016

It’s been a long time since I’ve added an update here…Like A YEAR. I’ll start with the rest of 2016. (What is this? All answers are HERE.)

September 2

9:17 p.m.

“So Mom, what was your favorite ride to watch today?”

Right there, Eleanor summed up my day at the amusement park.

 

September 6

3:48 p.m.

I took 5 pictures of the kids on their first day of school before noticing that the bus had already arrived (9 minutes early). I’m sure they felt nothing but relief as they ran off to catch it. They loathe my forced photo shoots. Then again, George will have to live with this as his first day of 4th grade picture for the rest of his life… And don’t even get me started on Oliver’s refusal to give up the backpack we bought him in first grade. He looks like a trendy girl from the 1990’s with one of those ridiculous mini-backpack purses. Otherwise – YAY SCHOOL!

pic 1

4:46 p.m.

Big surprise when Oliver got off the bus today… For years, he’s been telling me he wants to be a safety patrol. Look at that proud smile! As soon as we got home he told the neighbor’s cat all about it. He’s now polishing his badge. Obviously.

pic 2

 

September 13

9:07 a.m.

Walking to school this morning…

George: Mom look! Alice’s pee is going in the same direction as another dog’s pee.

Me: It is?

George: Yeah, she’s peeing on the same spot so the tracks match up.

Me: Well, dogs like to do that.

George: I think she’s leaving that other dog a message.

Me: That would make sense since dogs like to pee in the same places everyday, leaving messages.

George: Yeah, and they always check their mail.

…we’ve talked about dogs “leaving messages” since the twins were in preschool. When we first got Alice, George asked why she always sniffed places where other dogs had peed. I explained that Alice could tell a lot about those other dogs through what she smelled, their age, gender, breed… Later that night after he had used the bathroom, he saw Alice sniffing the toilet, “look Mom. She’s smelling my messages.” Thankfully, George has never been interested in checking his mail.

pic 2

4:46 p.m.

Oliver’s teacher had the kids fill each other’s “buckets” (yes that’s a bucket) with notes that (hopefully) say something complimentary. There was a lot of the generic “nice”, “awesome” and (inexplicably) “hi” notes. But this one made me smile. Also – I wholeheartedly agree

sept bucket

 

September 15

5:35 p.m.

If I was ever asked to encapsulate my twins’ personalities on paper…

“I [Eleanor] started 4th grade today. It was pretty exciting. I think my favorite part will be starting band.”

“George started 4th grade today. he doesn’t like school. but he mite have adHd.”

sept 4th grade times

6:16 p.m.

Me: Eleanor – do you want to do the running program at school?

Eleanor: Yeah! That sounds really fun and I’m good at running.

Enjoyment of physical exertion AND self confidence? Clearly there was some switched at birth situation at the hospital…

 

September 16

2:30 p.m.

It MAY be possible to not sing along when Whitney comes on the radio with “How Will I Know” … But I really don’t want anything to do with that world.

#I’mAskingYouWhatYouKnowAboutTheseThings

 

September 21

7:45 a.m.

Walking your son and his friends to school provides unexpected learning opportunities. For instance, I learned from them that if you are stranded without water, the best means of hydration is drinking your own urine. They have of yet to learn anything from me. #boys

sept walk

 

September 22

7:33 p.m.

How is everyone doing this three fictional characters thing!? At first I thought it was another buzzfeed quiz. Is there some kind of fictional character encyclopedia I can reference? This could easily be a week long research project for me… Suggestions?

Also – I haven’t seen one Sex and the City character. Is that so 10 years ago? You people are digging deep!

 

September 23

5:13 p.m.

I think this is about as close as I’m going to get for 3 fictional characters. A little expected…but the most accurate. My short list also included Leslie Knope (for her oblivious optimism – but ultimately too energetic), Monica Geller (for her Christmas tree – but I could never attain that level of perfectionism), Elinor Dashwood (but I can’t include her AND Lady Grantham), Sansa Stark (pointed out to me a while back by Diane Cooper Gould), Nancy from Thirtysomething (but that made me sad), Angela from My So Called Life (but that was just high school me) and “every TV mom ever.” And if you don’t get Bob Newhart, then you’ve never met my family.

3 fictional characters 3

10:17 p.m.

“Wash your face! With soap! But not too much soap… And use water!”

Bedtime routine directives require a high level of precision in this house.

 

September 24

12:56 p.m.

Oh, just sitting at Dunkin Donuts, using the wifi and surreptitiously lip syncing to Mariah’s “Always Be My Baby.” You?

#boydonchaknowyoucantescapeme

9:18 p.m.

Best tweet: “This is what America is! We disagree but we don’t hate.”

No one enters the Oval Office without a certain level of ego…but hate is unproductive and destructive. Any campaign that features hate and fear mongering does not get my vote.

 

October 3

10:43 p.m.

Mammogram perk: no one asks you to step on a scale.

Has it been a year? Don’t forget to schedule your annual appointment!

7:51 p.m.

Chris: you smell lotion-y.

Me: I just put on my moisturizer. I do it early so I’m not all, “I’m too tired…I don’t feel like it…” at bedtime.

Chris: Why don’t you just do it in the morning.

Me: I have morning AND evening skincare routines.

Chris: You do?

Me: YES!

Chris: I don’t know! I’m not a girl!

Clearly!

 

October 4

5:34 p.m.

Baby Andrew and I decided to rock stripes today. Nailed it.

Also – is that the cutest baby you’ve ever seen OR WHAT? Everyone at Target thought so.

Thank you for the baby love today Anna Donaldson!

baby andrew

7:28 p.m.

“Inexplicable aches and pains are just part of the human condition.”

One of my fancy answers for “I don’t know.”

I have no idea why my children bother asking me questions…

9:00 p.m.

Someday my children will look through old family photos and talk about what a creep their mother was taking all of those pictures while they were sleeping but COME ON!

oct sleep

 

October 7

10:44 a.m.

Me: What are you wearing?

Visiting 6 year old: I’m going on summer vacation.

Me: Okay…

V6YO: She [Eleanor] said we were never friends.

George: That’s what she said.

Me: Don’t say “that’s what she said.”

V6YO: But THAT’S what she said.

Me: That’s not what he meant…

Eleanor: I was just kidding.

V6YO: Well, I’m still going on summer vacation.

As long as we all know where we stand.

mc

 

October 9

7:16 p.m.

This is turning 10:

1. Dressing yourself in the morning and wearing the same mismatched clothes to your party.

2. Letting your parents buy ANOTHER pinata which they think you still like…because they’re right.

3. Convincing your mother to replace original oil paintings with Halloween decorations you received as presents.

When did the party end? When George came inside and said, “Mom! Ask Armando’s parents if he’s had his tetanus shot!”

Happy birthday George and Eleanor!

hb 1

hb 2

hb 3

hb 4

 

October 10

4:00 p.m.

“Mom! Where are my gloves?” Because that’s not creepy enough…. Things I didn’t consider when I said, “yes – you can buy a Minecraft sweatshirt.”

oct sweatshirt

 

October 22

7:52 p.m.

Oliver (playing some kind of roughhousing game with Eleanor): Okay Eleanor – that’s one strike. Four more and you’re out!

Apparently we work on a five strike system now. #givingALLofthechances

[Then George – who isn’t playing – passes through the room, saying “it’s fun having a brother like Oliver.” I should think so.]

 

October 23

10:04 p.m.

I’ve always loved this 1970’s picture of a very tiny me, back when all you needed for family fun was a rope, a board and a frighteningly close tree trunk.

swing

 

October 24

4:49 p.m.

8 year old neighbor to George after going home to ask his mother something:

“She said no in a way that means she won’t change her mind even if we keep asking.”

My kids should take lessons from that boy…

7:30 p.m.

You guys! We should totally start a band. (No – I really couldn’t tell you why George isn’t wearing a shirt.) #twins #pleasedontstartaband

oct band

 

October 27

4:22 p.m.

4th grade art project (aquatic theme?) Which is Eleanor’s and which is George’s? Hint: we fully live up to gender role expectations around here… #twins

fish

 

October 29

12:00 p.m.

Such a beautiful, sunny day! Perfect for a stroll outside…a bank robbery or two…

oct mask

2:45 p.m.

“Halloween Brownies isn’t a thing.” …and other things I say to my kids at Target. Epilogue: we’re making brownies this weekend.

4:35 p.m.

It’s like the weather KNEW my shirt would arrive in the mail today.

nasty woman

6:30 p.m.

2 pumpkins down!

oct pumpkins

 

October 31

5:30 p.m.

When you wait until the last minute to decide what you want to be…you get to wear last year’s ninja costume.

oct george

You would think that after 4 years of being a vampire, he would want to try something else. You would be wrong.

oct oliver

And the winner for Most Animated Demon is…

oct eleanor

 

November 1

6:13 p.m.

8 Year Old Neighbor: I have to tell my mom the scores I got on my tests today.

Me: Were they good?

8YON: Yes! On the first one, I got 22 out of 27 and on the shorter one I got 22 out of 22.

Me: That’s great! On the shorter one you got a perfect score!

8YON: And I got almost all of the answers right on the longer one.

Me: That’s true – very impressive.

8YON: Yeah – and they were almost all wild guesses.

Good to know all of that hard work is paying off.

 

November 4

4:08 p.m.

Today, I got an e-mail from Oliver’s science teacher. As he advances through grades (now in 5th), he spends more and more time outside of the classroom working in small group and one-on-one academic pullouts. It’s necessary since he is working at a different grade level than his classmates, and luckily, he’s a good sport about it. From what his teachers tell me, he never complains or seems to see it as a negative reflection on him as a student. BUT he does get to stay with the class for “specials”, science, etc. Back to the e-mail…His teacher summed up so much of Oliver’s personality in a few lines. Kids who have academic challenges are often insecure in school and don’t seek the spotlight – and I am so grateful for my son’s confidence and positive sense of self. Here is what she wrote:

“I just wanted to share these pictures from science with you. Today Oliver had another great class! We were playing “echolocation tag” and he volunteered to be blindfolded and act as our “bat” who had to use just his sense of hearing to find his bug dinner. He was great! Then, knowing his love of butterflies, I let him hold one of them on his finger as we released it. He was so gentle and so sweet with it. When we went back inside, he said, “I’m gonna miss my little buddy.” It made my day! He is such a great kid!”

I can’t imagine life without MY little buddy. Though at 5′ 2″, he’s not exactly little anymore…

butterfly

 

November 8

11:44 p.m.

Voted.

voted

IMG_3630

 

November 9

10:47 a.m.

This morning, I sent my kids off to school with one directive: prioritize kindness.

They’ve watched silly videos and made Trump jokes…and on a more serious level, they’ve expressed outrage that a presidential candidate would publicly mimic a reporter with a disability, call women pigs and slobs, say Mexican immigrants are rapists and killers, suggest that a Black Lives Matter protestor DESERVED to be beaten up…and every child with access to YouTube has heard the “grab them by the pussy…when you’re a star you can do anything” brag. So I don’t blame my kids for believing that someone who could behave like that would never be elected as president. If I had their level of life experience, I would have had the same confidence.

So today they get their first taste of the real world. They see that much of our country is willing to brush aside racism and misogyny, and to take flat out lies at face value – simply because they want “change.” Apparently, at any price.

But that’s MY perspective. They’re just kids. And today they will be in school with other kids who are celebrating. And all of those kids have one thing in common – they are just reflecting the ideals of their parents. They do not have the life experience or intellectual capacity to truly engage in intelligent debate. So they shouldn’t be debating or arguing with each other. At all. Every single one of them should feel safe at school. They should not be berated for supporting “a racist” and they should not jeered at because their “corrupt” candidate lost. No child should be bullied for the decisions their parents have made.

So I told my three elementary school students to be kind. And to accept nothing less than kindness from others. Teachers will need to police this carefully, but I hope that when no one is looking, my own children choose to be kind. Today, they will have an early life lesson in balancing anger with graciousness. Something that doesn’t come easily to anyone.

We already talk a lot about how people need time and space to “feel their feelings.” I will continue that conversation so they understand that moving forward doesn’t require leaving those feelings behind. And that they will have to give the same courtesy to others. The fact that our country needs to be healed is a given – but that will never happen unless people are allowed to grieve and feel fury on their own timetable.

And probably the most important lesson that my white, middle class, extraordinarily privileged children can learn today is what it feels like to be a minority. Especially since this experience is but whisper of what people of color face on a day to day basis. I would love to spare them this fear of an uncertain future…but maybe allowing them to truly acknowledge those feelings will plant a seed for future empathy and understanding.

And all of this is on me as the parent. It’s on all of us. As our country spends the day crying, celebrating, hoping, despairing and planning, we also need to think about our children and what we want them to learn.

Children respond best to clear, uncomplicated messages. And I think kindness is an excellent place to start.

1:00 p.m.

Yesterday’s choice was easy. Today’s is much harder…

IMG_3632

 

November 13

4:58 p.m.

Just arrived at the grocery store and realized I’m still wearing my slippers. #suburbsrepresent

IMG_3643

 

November 14

5:58 p.m.

I used to think I was a really patient mother. Then math homework happened.

6:15 p.m.

Me: What is 11 minus 4?

Oliver: Give me one of your fingers.

#teamwork #MathHomeworkHostage

IMG_3648

 

November 18

8:42 a.m.

6 year old girl walking to school with us today…

“My name is NO! My number is NO! …”

Practicing? #attagirl #theygottaletitgo

9:45 a.m.

Eleanor has been very concerned about me forgetting that she needs a costume for the 4th grade’s Colonial Day at school (what is she trying to say?). Proved her wrong with an 11th hour Pilgrim costume from Party City. A little off from a historical standpoint…but we said “good enough!” Apparently it pays to keep the bar low. I asked George if he wanted to dress up but he said, “no way – that’s so embarrassing!” The gender role conformity continues…

pilgrim

 

November 24

10:29 a.m.

Eleanor: On The first Thanksgiving, they didn’t dress up. They just gave thanks.

Excellent argument for not putting on fancy clothes today….

 

November 27

10:52 a.m.

“Can you find the elf? and 11 candy canes?” It’s not even December and we’re already talking about the damn elf. Decorations, Advent calendars and Elf placement begins on December 1 in my house. These kids need to slow their roll…

xmas

 

November 29

4:26 p.m.

Homework with 6 year old neighbor…

Me: What is that?

6YON: A pig.

Me: Write “pig” there.

6YON: [writing]

Me: That says “pike.”

6YON: Well at least I know how to spell “pike.”

#SilverLinings

8:42 p.m.

Eleanor asked if she could read a book to the boys tonight. Now she’s quizzing Oliver on reading comprehension. What is it with 10 year old girls making everything about school?

 

November 30

3:18 p.m.

I just bought one of those shatter resistant glass screen protectors…and shattered it while trying to put it on my phone. Sounds about right.

 

December 1

7:14 p.m.

Still life titled “Mom! We’re home!”

IMG_3724

 

December 2

3:00 p.m.

Love my new wrapping paper from The Container Store.

IMG_3761

 

December 6

7:14 p.m.

Me: Oliver…are those the same clothes you wore yesterday?

Oliver: Yup.

Things I notice at 7:00 pm. #RaisedByWolves

 

December 9

8:55 a.m.

“No! I said no detours, no climbing and no touching things. We are just walking to school. Let’s go!”

I totally bring the fun.

#HerdingBoys

 

December 11

6:57 p.m.

Oliver wants me to buy him a Santa suit because of course he does.

santa

 

December 13

8:29 p.m.

Eleanor is in the school play (Peter Pan) and her part is “Small Brave Girl” – one of Tiger Lily’s entourage. All of her songs involve lyrics like “ugh a wug” – so not at all offensive or anything… Anyway – everyone with more of a chorus role has been tasked with coming up with their own name and backstory. We were thinking of potential Indian names, and at the moment Soaring Sparrow (because she’s small, light and swift) seems to be the winner. Not set in stone, so if you have any other ideas, feel free to pass them on. But don’t even with Stands With A Fist. I already tried…

pp

3:30 p.m.

NOW it feels like The Christmas season.

IMG_3808

 

December 14

7:07 p.m.

For the first time ever – I’m not micromanaging how the gifts are positioned under the tree…yet. #PerfectBowsAREMoreFestive

IMG_3815

 

December 16

4:07 p.m.

Okay – so I don’t have a picture on my phone that really shows this off to full effect… But I never cease to be amazed by my prophetic consumerism. When I was pregnant with the twins, I bought these adorable prints titled, “Banditos” (which the kids called “Bendy Toes” when they were little) from The Black Apple Etsy shop. I mean – how did I know??

bt 2

 

December 19

7:20 p.m.

Oliver is doing word searches and needed help finding “CANDLES”. Eleanor is always ready to boss people around and was happy to assist. She found “CANDY” but Oliver was adamant that he had to find “CANDLES” first. I said, “Oliver likes to do things in order,” and channeling Buddy the Elf, he agreed, “I like order – it’s my favorite.” Then Alice padded over to sit on the workbook. #teamwork

IMG_3841

 

December 20

4:20 p.m.

Since I can’t send everyone a card… This picture was taken on our cross country trip this summer. If I had any idea that Sioux Falls would offer this kind of photo op, I would have dressed them in nicer clothes (which I guess would have required having packed nicer clothes…)

hh

 

December 24

6:13 p.m.

I just managed to make a double batch of cookies with one extra stick of butter. Now that the rage is subsiding, I’ve decided that there are worse problems to have in the way of cookies.

6:30 p.m.

Weird mix of proud and jealous. That’s my childhood right there – down to the casual yoga pose. Meanwhile I am cleaning the kitchen and icing cookies. #nostalgia

IMG_3861

 

December 25

6:30 a.m.

I don’t want to brag…but it’s December 25, and we remembered to move the elf every single night! Of course, a couple of those “nights” involved me waking up at 4:00 am in a cold sweat and running downstairs with a speed to rival those mornings that I hear the trash truck and realize that I didn’t put out the garbage. Whatever – it’s a personal best. #ElfMagic

IMG_3863

7:35 a.m.

We put the “crack” in crack of dawn crafts. With safety goggles. #sorryneighbors

xmas1

crack

 

December 31

2:30 p.m.

Oh little green ornament on the ground…we are on the same page. I think I’m ready for the holidays to be over now.

IMG_3899

My Favorite Day

My oldest son Oliver was born a week late. And I was pissed.

Because I’m a planner.

I like knowing exactly what is going to happen – because I scheduled it. I may not be the most organized planner in the world, but for the most part I very much like being master of my own destiny.

So pregnancy was super fun.

My husband, Chris and I decided to have a baby! It took a year. We thought we’d have two kids, two to three years apart. We had three…in 18 months. Don’t bother with math – there were twins.

The first time I got the thumbs up on a pregnancy test, I vowed to be more serious about healthy eating. I even bought a holistic pregnancy book complete with vegan recipes. From week eight to month seven my morning sickness was so bad that I existed on steady diet of cookies.

Even the thing I DIDN’T try to plan was a big joke on me. You see – I was terrified of the large needle involved in epidurals. So I decided that we’d just see how things went. Maybe I wouldn’t need it.

After giving birth, I decided there are two kinds of women who don’t get epidurals. The first are those who are deeply committed to a having a natural birth. With breathing techniques, special props and focal points. A partner who is ready to be there for all of it – the good, the bad and the ugly. Possibly with a doula.

And the second are women who give birth in the back of taxicabs.

I fit into neither of these scenarios. I arrived at the hospital with armed with a book and a husband so squeamish, he had to leave the room when I was getting an IV. We had no plan. And after about an hour of hard labor pains, I said, “fuck this. I will take that giant needle, thank you very much.”

So, no natural taxicab birth for me. Oliver was overdue, and I had had to be induced. Honestly, I was no rush. Pretty much nothing about birth sounded appealing to me.

The reason I was so pissed was that my mother, who was flying in from Florida, would have to leave the day he was born. She booked her arrival for the day after my due date, and a few days before my scheduled induction. But then my induction date got moved back. So instead of staying for a week to help me with my new baby, she spent all of her time walking up and down hills with me trying to kick start labor. Well – it wasn’t all walking… I eventually pulled a muscle and had to sit on the couch for a couple of days with a heating pad.

But I really tried to defy that new induction date. I even drank a castor oil and orange juice cocktail that several online sources claimed to be highly effective. No contractions…but I did lose about five pounds in one brief trip to the bathroom. On the upside, this made the weigh in at my final OB visit feel like a really successful Weight Watchers meeting.

So with Mom’s looming departure and the fact that I was absolutely terrified of giving birth, I started to feel rushed. I wasn’t excited – I just wanted to get it over with.

My mother’s sister, my Aunt Jan, drove down for the occasion. So the morning of the big day, all four of us headed out to the car together. Them, buzzing with anticipation while carrying my bags. And me with my pillow…the one week overdue version of dead man walking.

I vaguely remember a weepy moment where I announced to everyone, “I just wish it was tomorrow.”

I had no plan for this.

But I had my Mom. She had done this twice before and it was comforting to know she was there. I didn’t mention this previously, but my mom has always been my safe person. I could tell her anything – go to her with any problem – and she would always support me. On some level, I never stopped being that little girl who thought she could fix anything. And I have no doubt that if she could have given birth to that baby for me? She would.

Unfortunately that was not an option.

I had to do a lot of things that day that I wouldn’t classify as “pleasant.” But nothing was all that bad. The IV…the monitors…the epidural…the restless boredom of waiting. It was almost a shock when twelve hours later, my nurse announced that it was time.  Chris and I hadn’t planned to have other family members with us for the delivery, but after spending the whole day in that room together? Why not?

My mom and my aunt each held a leg so Chris could watch. He would regret this decision later. But I was always very clear about my own disinterest. The nurses kept asking me if I wanted them to grab a mirror so I could see what was happening. I declined. “You know…I’ve got a lot on my plate right now…I don’t think I need a visual…”

The nurses also informed me at one point that I wasn’t really pushing and suggested that I use the same muscles that I would for a bowel movement. I understood this logic, but was a little concerned. “What if something else comes out?” They said, “then we’ll know you’re doing it right.”

And with that, I said goodbye to my last shred of dignity.

The pushing was hard, but within an hour I was holding a healthy baby boy.

After he was weighed and swaddled and pictures were taken, my Mom sat next to me and with a gaze that held every hour in that room, waiting, worrying, laughing, complaining…pushing…she asked, “so Kate, what did you think?”

I looked down at my son – this entirely new person who belonged to me and said, “well….It wasn’t my favorite day…”

Pushing a nine pound baby out of your body makes you very honest.

But that’s okay. If there was anyone in the world with whom I could be so unapologetically honest and know that I wouldn’t be judged…it was my Mom. She knew what I meant. As much as that day really did kind of suck…it ended with me holding a miracle.

And while I didn’t quite get it at the time, it’s obvious to me now. I was ready. For everything that came next. That was my introduction to motherhood. It’s complicated and scary, and kind of gross. But if you can just relax and not worry about plans, it’ll be okay. Because it’s also full of miracles.

I have been a mother for over twelve years. And I’ve decided that there is no such thing as a favorite day. They all are.  Because they’re mine.

They Coulda’ Been Great: November 2015

November was a blur – thank goodness I can look to Facebook for confirmation that it actually happened. Here are our recorded happenings… (What is this? All answers are HERE.)

 

November 3

10:58 a.m.

The other day, I tried to buy this lamp at Target. I need two but couldn’t find another. Figured I could pick #2 up at another Target or online – so I put it in my cart. At check out I was informed that I couldn’t purchase it because it was the floor model. They checked other stores and found one in Sterling, but nope – that’s also a floor model. None online either. So now there are two lamps I want within driving distance of my home, but I’m not allowed to buy either of them. And the Reston Target floor model continues to mock me every time I am there (pretty much every day). #‎ConsumerWorldProblems‬

12112068_10206788554567269_9172776658578968239_n

7:47 p.m.

“No – you may not use a knife on an M&M.” And other bizarre things I hear myself saying to Oliver. It is time for the Halloween candy to BEGONE!

 

November 5

8:20 p.m.

The candy entitlement in this house is OUTOFCONTROL. At any moment, I expect to walk into a room and find them freebasing Kit Kats. Mass quantities are going to be disappeared tomorrow when the junkies are at school…and work (I’m looking at you Chris Hood). #‎HalloweenIsOvah‬

 

November 6

4:36 p.m.

When you drop your child off at an after school activity, and just as you slip into your car and open the windows to enjoy the early evening autumn air, every light in the parking lot illuminates as The Heat of the Moment starts on the radio.

Rock on suburbia.

 

November 7

5:41 p.m.

One week after Halloween and my dog is still pooping candy wrappers. #‎FunWithKidsAndDogs‬

 

November 12

4:40 p.m.

I both love and fear George’s self portrait.

IMG_3452


November 13

8:29 p.m.

Just caught Oliver trying to put this in his backpack. Guess you never know when you’ll need a homemade water balloon…

11041578_10206839475960272_6976035370060497177_n10:16 p.m.

Feeling grateful for a boring night at home with children safe in their beds…wearing stuffed animal night caps.

IMG_3456


November 14

3:31 p.m.

At George’s soccer game and only registered the sound of a car alarm when he yelled, “Mom! That’s OUR car!” from the field.

Worst sports mom ever.

 

November 16

9:09 p.m.

We were killing time at Party City earlier and the twins found those antlers people out on their cars. While we don’t have a minivan, I’ve called them “vantlers” since Stephanie Stearns Dulli’s hilarious Listen to Your Mother 2015 performance. And of course the “PLEASEMOMPLEASEPLEASEPLEASE” was deafening. Luckily, we had no time, as we had to dash off to pick up Oliver at his swim lesson. But sure enough – as soon as we all got back into our car…

George: Mom – can we PLEASE get the vantlers?

Me: Oh…you REALLY want the vantlers for Christmas?

Eleanor: YES! Wait..FOR Christmas?

Me: I mean for the Christmas season.

Oliver: We’re having FOUR Christmases??

It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, but we already have the holiday spirit…times four.

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November 19

3:18 p.m.

Just found this little package wrapped with homemade holiday paper. Eleanor is getting an early start on her gifts this year… ‪#‎girls‬

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November 20

8:25 a.m.

Just reminded Eleanor that it will be time to head out to the a school bus in 10 minutes and she still needs to get dressed and brush her hair.

So obviously, it’s time to practice the recorder.

#‎morningsarefun‬

5:23 p.m.

Me: I have to take Eleanor to acting.

Oliver: I can’t go to acting.

Me: No?

Oliver: Nah. I have a magic appointment.

Of course.

 

November 21

8:08 a.m.

Just another Saturday morning at Safeway.

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November 23

9:03 a.m.

I know that book fairs are school fundraisers (so no regrets) but sometimes I wonder how I got suckered into spending $500 on Diary of a Wimpy Kid Mad Libs.

 

November 23

11:53 a.m.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the have to’s and didn’t have time to’s today… I’m going to take a moment to just feel thankful for…

My husband, who actually likes cooking and doesn’t expect me to produce an entire Thanksgiving meal by myself while he drinks beer and watches football. He even bakes bread!

My daughter, who wants to help me clean when everyone else disappears. She is everything I wished I was when I was her age, and she doesn’t (usually) sweat the small stuff. On Saturday, Eleanor was in a play and told me later that she forgot one of her lines, “but it was okay” – and it was. No one noticed. At her age – hell, at MY age – this would have plagued me for years (“why, why, WHY did I forget that line???”). She hasn’t mentioned it since. I’m taking note and trying to let the disappointments and failures (big and small) go.

My oldest son, who also likes to help sometimes. Particularly when it comes to cooking. He got up at the crack of dawn (which admittedly, he would have done anyway) and helped Chris bake bread. Then, while I was making an onion and cheese casserole, he stood next to me making screaming noises as I sliced the onions. Then he helped me grate the cheese. And made more screaming noises. His imagination is beyond anything I’ve ever seen. After Eleanor’s play about fairy tale characters, I asked if he thought she was a good “Dopey.” He said, “yes! And I was the evil king in the audience.” Yes you were, Oliver. I need to leave the sidelines and put myself in the story more often – thank you for the reminder.

My youngest son, who throws himself wholeheartedly into EVERYTHING. The other weekend, he was in a soccer tournament, and the coach gave them a pep talk before the first game. He said, “I want you all to remember that you are the best – it doesn’t matter if you start or not – I’m not putting the best players in first, because you are ALL the best. Now do you understand what I just said to you?” George answered, “yes – you said I’m the best.” This is hilarious – but that attitude takes him so far… When he started soccer last spring, he and Chris (who is an assistant coach) were talking about who their best players were. George listed the four he thought were at the top of the list – himself included of course. I looked at Chris and he discreetly shook his head, no. But two seasons in, he worked hard and made it to the all stars tournament. He reminds me that I need to just think I’m the best more often – because that’s the only way it’s ever going to happen.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

 

November 27

4:06 p.m.

At Target with Oliver getting supplies for gingerbread houses…

Me: I think that’s everything. Let’s go check out.

Oliver: Wait! What about my Santa hat?

Duh! I always forget something…

12301468_10206916341241856_5760499588060043876_n10:07 p.m.

Nightcap. #‎ChristmasIsComing‬

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They Coulda’ Been Great: August 2015

Hard to believe summer is over… “But it is!” I shout joyously as I wave goodbye to that sparkling, golden school bus. Seriously though – I do kind of miss those little rascals. Here is what we did in August. (What is this? All answers are HERE.)

 

August 2

10:02 a.m.

What? You DON’T wear a jaunty eye patch to the grocery store? #‎ArrrMatey‬

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1:33 p.m.

Show is about to start!

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1:37 p.m.

Obligatory selfie with Diane and Mickie! Time to turn off the phone and put on my glasses… ‪#‎BookofMormon‬

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August 4

2:35 p.m.

Me: George! You can’t always be the victim!

George: I’m NOT being the victim! Oliver’s MAKING me the victim!

I think he just broke my brain.

8:32 p.m.

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this here – but I’m not overly fond of being touched. Not much of a hugger… Please don’t play with my hair… Your “getting a massage” is my “getting manhandled.” Apparently Oliver takes after me. Chris (who loves being manhandled) just asked him if he’d like a back scratch. Oliver gave him a wary look, scooted a few inches away and said, “I have no itch.” Exactly Oliver! I have no itch. Ever. There is a reason why I feel so comfortable socializing online… #‎MaintainthePerimeter‬

 

August 5

1:15 p.m.

George (about the cover of the Chasing Fireflies catalog): Those are the creepiest dolls I’ve ever seen!

Eleanor: they’re real people.

George: Well they’re really creepy as dolls.

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August 6

10:37 a.m.

In the doctor’s waiting room (after the nurse handed the kids paper gowns to bring in when the exam room is ready)…

Eleanor: Why do we have to wear a paper gown at our check up?

Oliver: I don’t want to wear this. Can I keep my shirt on under this?

Me: (to Oliver) No. (to Eleanor) it’s for your personal comfort, so you don’t have to sit around naked.

George: I like like being naked!

Eleanor: Yeah – and I don’t wear pajamas to bed.

George: I sit in the window naked every morning.

Now Eleanor is practicing the splits, George is shredding the paper gown he’s holding and Oliver is trying to flag down everyone who passes to ask if he can keep his shirt on.

‪#‎travelingcircus

 

August 7

3:29 p.m.

“All I’m saying is that I don’t want to see ANY body parts in the drain pipe!”

#‎GreatExpectations‬

 

August 8

1:39 p.m.

Kids and I are on our way to Oregon to visit my parents. Made it to our gate at Dulles with just enough time to buy some water bottles. Flight to Denver was bad. A lot of turbulence. At one point George thought we were going down. Other passengers were made aware of his distress. Arrived in Denver for a 40 minute layover. Just enough time to procure more water bottles and candy (because okayfineyoucanhaveit) AND with 15 minutes before boarding I figured we had JUUUSSST enough time to drop by the wine bar for MY nerve calming treat. During that time, my three kids got turned away from the bar (their first choice seats while I was selecting my glass of St. Francis Cabernet – did I mention that I’m a nervous flyer?) and were directed to the “restaurant” seating five inches from the bar; George announced our home address to everyone there when the bartender asked us “where we’re from in VA”; I took a phone call from Chris who is SUPER bummed to be left behind for a week; two women came over to tell me how great they think it is that I dragged three children into a wine bar at 11:30 am (said I looked like I needed it); and I was able drink a lovely glass of red and reflect upon my questionable parenting choices. When I saw that boarding had been in full swing for close to 10 minutes, I signed the check and hustled my group to the gate…where they appeared to be closing the doors. WHAT?! Upon our hasty arrival, I was informed the they close the gate “10 minutes before departure” (HELLO! It was way more than 10 min before departure but I don’t argue when positioned in front of a half closed door…). Apparently we were lucky that “the pilot had to use the bathroom.” (Chalking this up to small planes….) When we finally arrived at our seats (which had changed due to our tardiness) and sat down, agreeing that we were pretty lucky to have made it, George admonished me in his best public speaking voice, “yeah Mom! You shouldn’t have stopped for wine!”

#‎motheroftheyear‬

4:29 p.m.

We arrived in Medford! Got our checked bag (after standing directly in front of where they come out so George could say “no…no…no…” as each suitcase that wasn’t ours emerged), met Grandpa and are on our way to Klamath Falls! Ten minutes in, Eleanor gasps, “where’s my backpack!?” Aaaaand back to baggage claim….

 

August 9

12:51 p.m.

Our sweet ride for a tour of the Running Y. Kids had never been on a convertible before!

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August 11

3:34 p.m.

George: Hey Mom – I I have a really good idea.

Me: What’s that?

George: Well. If you give me your phone, I can take it into the boys’ bathroom and take pictures so you can see what it looks like.

Me: Why would I want to see the boys’ bathroom?

George: Oh – you know. So you can see what a urinal looks like.

Eleanor: We’ve already seen a urinal before.

George: Well you could see what some other ones look like, and all the other stuff in the boys’ bathroom. So Mom – do you want me to do that?

Me: You know – that’s a good plan, but the truth is, I’ve never been all that curious about the boys’ bathroom.

Eleanor: I have.

One more reason to say no when Eleanor asks for a cell phone…

9:30 p.m.

Big day.

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Sleepy boys

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Got my passed out roomie into bed.

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August 12

12:24 p.m.

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August 13

10:13 a.m.

If this isn’t the definition of “Grandpa of the Year” then I don’t know what is. #‎ButI’mStillLittle‬

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3:46 p.m.

That moment when you realize that the “potentially decent” radio station you found is Christian rock.

 

August 14

4:40 p.m.

When the Klondike bar becomes a handful of ice cream. ‪#‎August‬

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August 15

10:19 p.m.

Portrait of three children who have been waiting in baggage claim for over 30 minutes. #‎WhereIsOurSuitcase‬

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August 19

10:42 a.m.

Me to five year old neighbor I’m babysitting: Hey – for our morning walk, we could take bikes and scooters up to Dunkin’ Donuts as a special treat. What do you think?

Five year old neighbor: YAY!!!! Well actually – could we drive?

#‎missingthepoint‬

8:03 p.m.

“So Mom. There are three different kinds of smoking that can kill you: cigarettes, cigars and smokeweed.”

-George Hood, age 8

(And yes – I made him repeat this several times to make sure I heard him right.)

‪#‎themoreyouknow‬

8:15 p.m.

Chris: So you guys – want to hear something cool? The U.S. and Japan are building robots that are going to fight each other.

Eleanor: Then what?

Chris: Then one of them will win.

Eleanor: Then what?

Chris: Then we’ll know which robot is better!

George: And we’ll win millions of dollars!

Chris: No – no one wins money.

George: Then what do they win?

Chris: Bragging rights!

Eleanor: It would be better to win money…

George: No… It would be better to BE THE ROBOT.

Clearly the these children take after their mother. Except for that being the robot part.

 

August 24

6:27 p.m.

Just hustled everyone into the car to race to swim class. And I think I actually SAID, “wow – looks like it’s about to pour.” Five minutes into a drive under ominous looking clouds…

Oliver: Mom – did you bring an umbrella?

Me: No. That would have been a good idea, wouldn’t it?

Another item to file under “things my children put up with.” Seriously – they’re lucky I finally stopped forgetting to bring towels (or – on that one humiliating occasion – bathing suits).

 

August 25

7:31 p.m.

My Alex just got back from her first day, interning at MtoM Consulting and she looks so cute and happy! I told her she should have thrown that hat in the air when she got outside. Obviously, she had no idea what I’m talking about. #‎WellItsYouGirlAndYouShouldKnowIt‬ ‪#‎YoureGonnaMakeItAfterAll‬

11898581_10206365935682061_7098892770725998312_nFor any of my friends under over 35 who didn’t own a TV growing up…

 

August 26

10:02 a.m.

Words I may need to ban from my 8-10 year olds’ conversations…

1. Actually: As in “ACTUALLY, Mom [insert contradiction of something I just said here].

2. Always: As in “but she ALWAYS [insert something he just did to her, prompting a reprimand from me].

3. Never: As in “but he NEVER [insert something that she failed to do, prompting a reprimand from me].

4. Fair: As in “it’s NOT FAIR.” [see #2-3 above]

5. Bored: As in, “I’m BORED.” [because, ACTUALLY, going to the pool, riding bikes outside, seeing plays, traveling to the west coast TWICE in the past two months and hanging out with neighborhood friends 24/7 isn’t any fun at all.]

Can summer end now?

11:06 a.m.

OH HELLO autumn.

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August 28

4:11 p.m.

George: Mom – can we please get Grand Theft Auto 5?

Me: No.

George: WHY?

Me: You don’t need a game about stealing cars.

George: But it’s not just about stealing cars!

Me: It’s not?

George: No! There’s also guns and shooting and stuff.

OH. Well in that case…

They Coulda’ Been Great: July 2015

Has it already been a month? Time for another “They Coulda’ Been Great”! (What is this? All answers are HERE.)

 

July 3

12:30 p.m.

Eleanor in the ladies bathroom at the Air and Space Museum: “25 cents for a napkin?!” #‎ripoff‬

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July 4

1:47 p.m.

Belated #TBT: California trip 2010 – That July, I put the white in “Red, White and Blue” (t-shirt purchased by my MIL to match hers and my SIL’s for our black-t-shirts-and-jeans family picture).

RWB

6:10 p.m.

There are two types of people in the world. Those who will make the attempt to load a dishwasher in a moderately reasonable fashion…and my husband. And don’t you DARE say “at least he tried” because COME ON.

Chris loading dishwasher


July 5

1:07 p.m.

WITH cotton candy, no less. If I hear “I’m bored” later today…

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2:37 p.m.

The fact that I’m actually IN this picture makes up for the woman who took it for us having no concept of composition. #CouldHaveBackedUpALittle

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3:33 p.m.

“He doesn’t want to grow up. Just like me.”
-Oliver Hood, age 10, on Peter Pan

“But grown ups have fun too, don’t they?”
-George Hood, age 8, who also thinks that, “to live would be an awfully big adventure.”

“I want to be in that show.”
-Eleanor Hood, age 8, whom I believe may do just that someday…

 

July 6

6:40 p.m.

George: Mom! Do you have your phone with you?

Me: Yes – why do you ask?

George: Well you may get a call – maybe today but probably tomorrow. But if you mysteriously hear from a stranger, it’s my new friend Gavin. We really want to have a play date. There’s two others but I don’t remember their names. One was really confusing.

First day of camp. Soon enough, everyone there will have access to my cell phone number…

 

July 10

11:25 a.m.

Get ready for 13 separate video posts from me… I do this every year because I’m always SO proud of our DC cast and their brave storytelling!

LTYM videos[click image for the list of show cities with video links]

[and I actually am including all 13 posts with video links below because WHY NOT?]

1:59 p.m.

Here we go! Video #1 of 13 from LTYM DC! Ashley Allen tells a story about growing up in a fanatical religious community where the devil was an ever present threat…and then taking a different approach to battling “evil” with her own children. This lady needs to write a memoir…

vid Ashley A

2:16 p.m.

LTYM DC video #2 (of 13)! Joan Hamilton tells a story about hearing your child’s truth and then giving them the support they need to fully embrace it.

vid Joan

2:19 p.m.

In LTYM DC video #3 (of 13) Lindsay Reed Maines talks about how having great adoptive parents and a happy childhood doesn’t necessarily mean that a child won’t grow up with questions and doubts about her birth mother. A heartwarming story about one woman’s search for closure and connection.

vid Lindsay

2:21 p.m.

#4 (of 13) in our LTYM DC lineup… Jennifer Oradat tells the story of her roller coaster ride of a pregnancy, and her quiet coming to terms with an unanticipated family dynamic.

vid Jennifer

2:24 p.m.

LTYM DC video #5 (of 13) features Shunnell T. Lewis. Things get pretty crazy at the FAA when she starts having contractions long before her due date and has to be rushed to the ER… (spoiler alert: expect to laugh out loud!)

vid Shunnell

2:28 p.m.

Tricia Mirchandani is featured in our 6th LTYM DC video (of 13) this year. Sometimes the intense nature of early intervention can be so all consuming for a family that there isn’t room to just be. This is her touching story about letting go for a day and just being in the moment.

vid Tricia

2:32 p.m.

In LTYM DC video #7 (of 13), Susan Fuller tells a unique story about how she fought for the natural birth experience she both wanted and – more importantly – needed. We can honestly say that you have probably never heard this particular birth story before…

vid Susan

2:37 p.m.

Not every nuclear family includes a mom. In LTYM DC video #8 (of 13), Brent Almond (one of two dads) reflects on the story of his son’s adoption and the woman who gave birth to him.

vid Brent

2:41 p.m.

Over halfway through the LTYM DC video posts! I keep saying “of 13” because I really don’t want you to miss any of them. So here is #9 OF THIRTEEN: the one and only Stephanie Stearns Dulli who both directs the show and has a tendency to steal it… She tells her story of going from carefree actress to suburban mom. This “LA Girl” comes to terms with trading one sweet ride for a new one.

vid Stephanie

2:45 p.m.

In LTYM DC video #10 (of 13), Sonya Spillmann struggles with the memory of knowing that her mother was dying when no once else did. A beautiful story of healing through memory and forgiveness.

vid Sonya

2:48 p.m.

Video #11 of 13! In this LTYM DC reading, Caron Garcia Martinez tells a story about family and the Latin culture, in which food is used to express love. Mother to daughter – daughter to sons – recipes are passed down and new ones are passed back through joy and grief – but always with love.

vid Caron

2:52 p.m.

In LTYM DC video #12 (of 13), Ashley Fuchs tells a hilarious (and I’m not kidding – you may need some tissues for the laughter-tears) story about starting a long anticipated family vacation with…LICE.

vid Ashley F

2:56 p.m.

Almost done! #13 (OF THIRTEEN LTYM DC videos) is ME. I tell a story about the women who raised me and taught me the secret of “how” in “I don’t know how you do it…”

vid Kate

5:13 p.m.

In the car…

George: Eleanor – who’s the oldest person you know?

Eleanor: Mom.

Me: What?!

George: For me it’s Old Bob.

Eleanor: Who’s Old Bob?

Me: He means the guy at the end of the street. Eleanor! He asked who the OLDEST person you know is. Don’t you know people older than me?!

George: Yeah! Like Old Bob.

I guess we’ve established my neighborhood peer group…

 

July 16

7:43 p.m.

George: Mom, remember when I said that night was longer than day?

Me: No – when did you say that?

George: A long time ago – maybe when I was five. But I was WRONG. And you told me I was right. Why would you do that?

Me: I don’t know… I guess the way you said was really cute so I just said “DARN TOOTIN’ night is longer than day!”

I’m starting to think that this kind of thing, along with all of the empty threats and statements like, “I’m sorry honey – they didn’t have any Cheetos at the grocery store,” may be giving my kids some serious trust issues…

 

July 17

2:02 a.m.

My (8yo) baby girl (who’s currently in my bed because our neighbors are fun and their backyard party was keeping her up) is leaving tomorrow for her first vacation away from us. Almost 35 years ago I was doing the same thing with my Madeline at her family’s beach house. As much as I will miss my girl, I can’t wait to see pictures of her at Rehoboth Beach – diving into waves, running around the boardwalk and going on rides at Fun Land. Wish I fit in her duffle bag… #‎stowaway‬

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July 19

11:10 p.m.

Last night at bedtime…

Oliver: I miss Eleanor.

George: The bathroom smells funny.

So I think we’ve established who the sentimental one is… Also I spent yesterday cleaning so George thinks his bad-aim-pee smells better my Method cleaning products. #boys

 

July 21

5:23 p.m.

GOODGOD George talksandtalksandtalksandtalks. It’s like a never-ending brain storming session.

 

July 25

5:10 p.m.

Coming home from the pool – UB40 on the radio…

Eleanor: Why are they singing about “red red wine”?

George: The song is about wine??

Me: Kind of…it’s what he’s drinking “to forget.”

George: I thought brewskis were for that.

So now he know he has options.

 

July 26

2:03 p.m.

Oliver waiting to see OLIVER! The Musical. Thank goodness we have assigned seats. We only had to rearrange ourselves four times. ‪#‎ICan‬’tSee!

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8:53 p.m.

Earlier in the car (where the [conversation] magic happens):

Eleanor: You know Cathy has a magazine at her house that says “Kate and George” on it.

Me: OH – that’s Kate Middleton. She married the next Prince of Wales and George is her baby. Since her husband will be King of England someday, she’s like a celebrity.

George: Wait! There’s a Prince of Wales?

Me: Yes.

George: A Prince of WALES??

Me: Yes – why?

George: So he can talk to WHALES??

Guess I should have clarified what Wales is… Probably would have been easier to just go with “someday King of England,” as I barely understand all those titles anyway.

 

July 27

7:42 p.m.

Me to Diane: Lucy has gotten taller!

Lucy: Look at how much taller I am than George.

Me: Even taller than before.

George: Yeah – that happens a lot!

‪#‎TinyBoyWorldProblems‬

 

July 30

5:14 p.m.

Eleanor’s inability to locate a flip flop two feet away from her simply because it’s under a backpack someone tossed on the floor leads me to believe that we can strike “detective” from her list of future career prospects…

They Coulda’ Been Great: April 2015

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

April 2

1:37 p.m.

Perfect day to vacuum the car.

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April 3

7:43 p.m.

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

“Wow – you’re really sweaty.”

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

“I just heard something crack.”

 

April 9

6:48 p.m.

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

 

April 11

2:08 p.m.

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

 

April 12

2:44 p.m.

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

 

April 15

3:07 p.m.

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

6:56 p.m.

Oliver just walked past wearing his Dracula cape…

Me: Oliver – why are you wearing a cape?

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

Obviously.

 

April 18

12:11 p.m.

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

 

April 19

12:23 p.m.

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

Me: Why?

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

So I guess George really “gets” parenthood.

4:45 p.m.

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

 

April 21

5:56 p.m.

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

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

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

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

 

April 23

9:02 p.m.

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

George: Uh oh. Looks like a bumper accident.

Me: You mean a fender bender?

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

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

 

April 24

10:34 a.m.

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

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April 25

2:40 p.m.

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

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4:48 p.m.

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

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

 

April 26

5:47 p.m.

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

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10:16 p.m.

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

 

April 27

4:17 p.m.

George: Mom! Jack and I just did science!

Me: [with great trepidation] What…?

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

Me: Which was bounciest?

George: MINE!

Of course it was.

 

April 28

9:05 p.m.

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

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

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

 

April 29

7:33 p.m.

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

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

 

They Coulda’ Been Great: March 2015

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

March 1

10:26 a.m.

Eleanor: So yeah – Jade got her ears pierced.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me: What do you call it?

Eleanor: “Old.”

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

11:18 a.m.

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

March 2

10:30 a.m.

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

-Eleanor telling me I have three Facebook notifications.

10:39 a.m.

“Emory boards are for nails, not crayons!”

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

2:29 p.m.

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

Me: My cell phone?

V10YOB: Yeah.

Me: Why do you want to use my phone?

V10YOB: To call my mom.

Me: Why do you need to call her?

V10YOB: [whispers] It’s personal.

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

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

Epilogue: He is not using my phone.

7:00 p.m.

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

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

8:12 p.m.

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

I’m sorry – is this news?

March 4

6:06 p.m.

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

7:02 p.m.

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

March 5

2:53 p.m.

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

3:37 p.m.

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

Me: Yes Eleanor – I NOTICED THAT TOO.

#‎missivesfromsnowdayhell‬

March 6

12:14 p.m.

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

March 8

10:04 p.m.

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

March 8

7:39 p.m.

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

March 10

6:05 p.m.

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

Oliver: Do they have candy?

George: I want a tattoo!

So predictable…

9:22 p.m.

We (she) did it!

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10:31 p.m.

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

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March 11

8:29 p.m.

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

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

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

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

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March 12

9:30 a.m.

Earlier this morning…

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

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

#‎thorough

7:17 p.m.

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

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

Twinsies!

March 14

8:42 p.m.

Harlem Globe Trotters!

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March 17

5:45 p.m.

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

Oliver: I ran into a snow drift.

With his back?

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March 18

8:26 p.m.

George: Mom – are you bored?

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

George: It’s your first favorite thing?

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

George: What’s your second favorite thing?

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

George: What’s your third favorite thing?

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

George: I know what your last favorite thing is.

Me: What is it?

George: Leaving us.

There aren’t enough hugs for that one.

March 19

5:27 p.m.

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

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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.

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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: February 2015

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

 

February 1

7:04 p.m.

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

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

7:58 p.m.

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

Chris: WHAT?!?

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

Chris: IT’S PUPPIES!

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

 

February 3

3:04 p.m.

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

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

4:54 p.m.

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

Me: Wow!

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

SUPER plan…

 

February 4

7:37 p.m.

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

33 – 18 =

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

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

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

Feeling very vintage…

 

February 6

6:38 p.m.

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

 

February 7

4:22 p.m.

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

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9:27 p.m.

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

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

George: So you pick brain.

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

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

Nice try.

 

February 8

7:34 p.m.

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

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

LTYM baby

February 17

8:55 a.m.

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

Me: I don’t think so either.

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

Me: The state?

George: Of Virginia.

Me: Where did you come up with that number?

George: I researched it. In my brain.

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

10:47 a.m.

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

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

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

 

February 18

7:36 a.m.

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

9:42 a.m.

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

Me: No.

George: No – I mean in a “bad way.”

Me: Still no.

George: But MOM…

Me: Fine – what does it mean?

George: Fart.

Me: What is the C word?

George: C-R-A-…

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

1:53 p.m.

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


10:06 p.m.

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

 

February 19

5:21 p.m.

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

5:51 p.m.

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

Me: you mean cloud formations?

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

Me: You do?

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

Me: That sounds pretty.

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

#‎traffictalk‬

 

February 20

9:23 a.m.

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

11:21 a.m.

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

I don’t even want to know…

11:53 a.m.

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

3:18 p.m.

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

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February 22

10:42 a.m.

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

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February 24

12:45 p.m.

Co-pilot courtesy of Eleanor. #‎ThisCloseToSettingItFree‬

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

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

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

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

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

 

February 26

8:10 a.m.

Oliver: Mom, can I have Girl Scout cookies?

Me: Oh…sure. It’s a snow day.

Oliver: Can I have two?

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

#‎PleaseGoToSchool‬

12:52 p.m.

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

 

February 28

8:10 a.m.

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

3:55 p.m.

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

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They Coulda’ Been Great – December 2014

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

 

December 2

8:28 a.m.

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

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December 5

7:34 a.m.

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

 

December 7

6:06 pm

This one may kill me.

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December 11

10:14 p.m.

I’m only hyperventilating a little bit…

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December 14

6:57 p.m.

Twins are playing Uno in the other room…

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

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

#‎redneckchristmas‬?

 

December 15

5:23 p.m.

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

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

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

7:08 p.m.

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

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

tree after

 

December 16

8:08 a.m.

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

#‎morningbanter‬ ‪#‎boys‬

5:48 p.m.

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

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

Kids are fun.

 

December 17

8:33 p.m.

Life with boys.

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December 18

5:47 p.m.

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

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

 

December 20

8:33 a.m.

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

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

The current state of unfolded laundry in my house…

7:32 p.m.

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

9:24 p.m.

Me: That is NOT how I remember it.

Chris: Well your memories are boring.

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

Chris: Exactly.

 

December 21

1:57 p.m.

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

 

December 23

5:31 p.m.

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

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December 24

9:47 a.m.

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

5:57 p.m.

Happy holidays Happy holidays28:31 p.m.

Just in case he isn’t sure…

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December 25

2:40 p.m.

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

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George’s completed gingerbread house…

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Thank god for Eleanor.

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December 26

12:46 p.m.

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

 

December 29

7:26 p.m.

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

9:06 p.m.

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

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December 30

8:50 a.m.

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

10:47 a.m.

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

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

Boughs of Folly

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chris: You are a psycho about the lights.

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

Happy holidays!

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The following year, it was my daughter, Eleanor’s turn to accompany Chris. As soon as her tree of choice was set up, we could see that it was undeniably crooked. This of course, is an ever-present risk since I have no control over what is selected (just a long list of requirements and deal breakers). But I had such high hopes for Eleanor! My color-within-the-lines girl was the perfect candidate to find a “perfect” tree. At first glance, it seemed she did. But no matter how many times we tried to fix the obvious leaning, there was always something off.

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

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

That tree almost fell on top of me at least three times, and it’s a miracle that my children didn’t find me trapped underneath it the next morning. But a few hours (and several emptied prescription bottles wedged in the tree stand) later, it looked marginally better. I decided that I had reached my own “good enough.” Before tidying up, I went into the kitchen to wash my hands of sap (and the entire fiasco), and when I returned, I found that half the lights had blown out.

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

Of course I didn’t do that! For one thing, we didn’t own a snow shovel. But more importantly, I had put way too much time into that tree to give up. Instead, I took a deep breath and set about checking each strand. Luckily, there were only two that had to be replaced; and 30 minutes later, we had a very lovely, slightly crooked tree.

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

Last year, it was Eleanor’s twin brother, George who picked out the tree. He surprised us all by selecting a rather small one. Well – not exactly small…but much smaller than the six to eight foot trees his siblings had brought home. Apparently, he told the guy at the tree lot that “size doesn’t matter as long as it’s fat.” Oh George…

So small and fat arrived, and most decidedly did not fit into our tree stand. The trunk was too short, so I sent Chris out to buy a smaller stand. And starting right there, the smallest tree we’ve ever had became the biggest pain in the ass.

It was next to impossible to get it to stand straight and it was never really secure, regardless of how much we tightened the screws. This should have been the first sign of impending calamity. But Chris declared it “good enough,” and I decided I could at least tilt it in such a way that it looked straight…

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

After a busy day of running errands, I didn’t have much time before the children were due home. Luckily, with minutes to spare, I was able to tie the last ribbon and bask in the glory of the sweetest little Christmas tree I had ever seen. George chose well – it was possibly my favorite tree yet. Absolutely perfect. Perfect and…moving? Just like that, everything switched to slow motion as I watched the stand sliiiiide forward and the angel drop back out of sight. CRASH! The entire thing hit the floor in a crunch of breakable ornaments (my favorite kind!)

If I were a more emotive person, I would have screamed. Instead, I stood frozen in horror. Was this some kind of punishment for extreme Christmas tree hubris? No time for self-flagellation – I had children to collect from the bus and a play date to host. So I propped my now disheveled little tree up against the wall and resigned myself to figuring it out later.

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

Eventually, I rallied since failure is not an option. And just as I started collecting prescription pill bottles to wedge around the trunk, Chris decided that the top heavy tree really did need a sturdier stand. The solution was to saw off the lower branches and make it fit into our original, bigger stand.

After an hour of sawing, lifting, near misses with pine needle-blindings and just a little bit of swearing, we stepped back to see a very straight, very secure, slightly smaller Christmas tree. We could also see that the branch removal effectively made what I decorated as “the front” of the tree a better candidate for “the back.”

I employed some deep breathing exercises and big picture priority checks to get myself to as serene a state of mind as I could possibly manage…then I removed all of the ornaments and redid the WHOLE EFFING TREE! Done! Finished! No more lesson-learned moments thank-you-very-much! That was it. I had officially exceeded my limit for Christmas tree decorating mania.

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

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

*****

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