Tag Archives: World’s Best Mom

They Coulda’ Been Great: February-April 2016

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

 

February 4

3:00 p.m.

Eleanor on choosing valentines for her class:

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

‪#‎toughcrowd

 

February 5

4:41 p.m.

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

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

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

‪#‎OneMoreRunNOT‬

pic ski fail

7:40 p.m.

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

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

I speak fluent George.

 

February 11

6:18 p.m.

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

“Okay…’Christopher’…hey! I know him!”

Every single time.

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

 

February 13

8:39 a.m.

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

Me: Why are you putting on your coat?

Oliver: So I can be a mysterious figure.

Me: A mysterious figure?

Oliver: With gloves.

Well, obviously with gloves…

 

February 14

10:46 p.m.

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

Me: I don’t see them.

Alex: Really?

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

Eleanor: Yeah – like Mom’s.

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

 

February 17

7:14 p.m.

Chris just sent me this picture. Takeaways:

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

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

3. Alice may be possessed.

pic alice

 

February 19

8:42 p.m.

“You guys – we should start a band.”

-overheard in the next room #‎9YearOldGirlRiteOfPassage

 

February 28

7:58 a.m.

Me: Look! There’s a cardinal outside!

Eleanor: I see it.

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

Eleanor: Maybe they’re…

Me: …a couple.

Eleanor: Or just mating.

Well – HELLO, Miss Sophisticated!

‪#‎CardinalsAndChill

 

February 28

8:58 a.m.

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

Me: It is?

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

#‎boybrain‬

 

March 1

12:05 p.m.

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

 

March 4

5:58 p.m.

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

 

March 7

8:25 a.m.

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

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

“Slideing around the floor.”

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

“Stop slide across the floor.”

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

pic school note

 

March 8

4:25 p.m.

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

Oliver: Don’t be frustrated. Be cheerful.

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

 

March 13

5:56 p.m.

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

pic cat party

 

March 15

6:53 p.m.

George is in the corner watching YouTube videos…

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

Me: Is that an inappropriate video?

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

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

 

March 17

12:49 p.m.

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

 

March 19

8:18 p.m.

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

 

March 20

11:10 a.m.

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

 

March 21

8:29 a.m.

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

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

Eleanor: Well, the name Mary was invented.

Mary: Yes! By the mother of God!

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

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

Me: That’s nice.

Mary: Because I love him!

Me: Awwww.

Mary: Because he made cotton candy!

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

9:32 a.m.

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

Mary: I have nothing to do!

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

Eleanor: She’s already perfected that.

Mary: The rug burns on my stomach hurt.

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

 

March 22

7:46 p.m.

George: Mom – can I ask you a question?

Me: Sure.

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

I’m basically superfluous to our conversations.

 

March 26

1:13 p.m.

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

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

 

4:37 p.m.

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

pic barn

7:46 p.m.

My boys.

pic boys
8:42 p.m.

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

“French people use these.”

pic G painting

 

March 27

12:19 p.m.

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

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

George has this whole art thing figured out…#‎ItNeedsSomeBowsOrSomethin‬

pic gold frame 1

pic gold frame 2

1:56 p.m.

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

pic boys easter

3:52 p.m.

First fancy Easter party in about 11 years!

pic kate

 

March 29

5:50 p.m.

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

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

pic girls

 

March 30

9:01 p.m.

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

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

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

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

Happy birthday to my very first baby!

pic oliver

 

April 3

3:12 p.m.

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

pic mon

7:50 p.m.

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

 

April 5

7:46 a.m.

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

 

April 7

12:00 p.m.

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

It’s all about the lens.

 

7:02 p.m.

Earlier today…

5 year old neighbor: Are you allergic to flowers?

Me: No. Why?

5 year old neighbor: [hands me a dandelion]

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

8:00 p.m.

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

Chris: Hey that’s Sudoku.

Me: It is?

Chris: Yeah.

Me: So Sudoku is just math?

Chris: Yes.

Me: No wonder I never wanted to try Sudoku.

I fully embrace my gender stereotype…

 

April 13

10:38 a.m.

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

 

April 17

5:13 p.m.

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

Eleanor: How was the game?

Chris: We lost.

Eleanor: What was the score?

Chris: 3:0

Eleanor: Eh. Pretty close.

THAT’S MY GIRL!

6:52 p.m.

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

-Existential conversations with George

9:02 p.m.

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

She’s raisin’ ’em right!

 

April 19

8:48 a.m.

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

pic G

 

April 20

6:39 p.m.

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

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

6:53 p.m.

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

pic shopping

 

April 22

8:46 a.m.

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

pic prince

 

April 26

7:47 a.m.

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

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

 

April 28

10:58 p.m.

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

 

They Coulda’ Been Great: 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.

IMG_3498

 

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

12278675_10206871302075905_144237161224630606_n


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.

12240098_10206879728046549_2997014178323380302_n


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

12310706_10206917568952548_534474265294871718_n

12274500_10206917602553388_1948473869723136460_n

They Coulda’ Been Great: October 2015

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

 

October 2

7:18 p.m.

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

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

Me: You did?

George: Except for one thing.

Me: What’s that?

George: Getting an iPad.

Oliver: And I want a big bag of Cheetos.

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

We are simple folk with simple dreams…

 

October 3

10:14 p.m.

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

Me: That was a pretty long day.

Eleanor: Yeah – but it was fun.

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

Eleanor: Eh.

Me: You don’t think so?

Eleanor: Oh Mom…you make it all happen.

Well Eleanor – that’s because I’m…

12079805_10206622514536372_1348120544923183465_o

 

October 4

7:42 a.m.

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

Epilogue – It ended up being something about Minecraft.

6:08 p.m.

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

IMG_33166:49 p.m.

Okay ONE more picture. #‎flowergirl‬

IMG_33206:56 p.m.

Not 100% about the tie…

IMG_3325

 

October 5

12:45 p.m.

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

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

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

IMG_3350

 

October 6

2:05 p.m.

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

12074626_10206635856909923_7126963775829462721_nIMG_3348

 

October 10

1:43 p.m.

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

12122512_10206657594493349_7355514978396780555_n

 

October 12

5:35 p.m.

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

 

October 14

10:37 p.m.

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

 

October 15

6:26 p.m.

George is doing a geography homework sheet on hemispheres…

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

Me: Why?

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

Eleanor: Everyone knows about the North Pole George.

George: NO. Not everyone celebrates the same religions!

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

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

 

October 18

5:43 p.m.

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

1505452_10206701705396094_4570354126453708500_n

 

October 19

11:30 a.m.

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

-George Hood, future realtor

8:27 p.m.

Eleanor got a microscope for her birthday…

Eleanor: Mom – what’s a paramysiam?

Me: What? Oh! You mean a paramecium?

Eleanor: Yeah! What is it?

Me: …um…something from Science?

So I’m basically worthless. #‎AskDaddy‬

 

October 20

12:24 p.m.

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

12107049_10206712593948301_8044938428505835291_nThe resemblance is eerie…

12096284_10206712602708520_1353894722220645132_n7:07 p.m.

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

IMG_3388

 

October 22

9:03 a.m.

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

7:04 p.m.

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

12063871_10206724494125798_3706875024334608997_n

 

October 23

11:12 a.m.

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

 

October 24

1:36 p.m.

Me: Oliver – what are you doing?

Oliver: Oh – just talking to the chocolate.

Obviously.

12032053_10206733854959813_6933498796728508768_n

 

October 27

8:59 p.m.

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

 

October 30

4:57 p.m.

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

12065877_10206766533416754_6782008480115942156_n

 

October 31

9:58 a.m.

Me: Oliver – what are you doing?

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

Never a dull moment, shopping with that one…

12115638_10206769964582531_4283789644141861244_n4:57 p.m.

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

12189144_10206771895790810_7900730473156325675_n8:25 p.m.

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

DSC_1420DSC_1417DSC_14218:27 p.m.

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

DSC_1426DSC_14278:29 p.m.

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

DSC_1390DSC_1395DSC_1401DSC_1410DSC_1411DSC_1422DSC_1425DSC_1428DSC_1432DSC_1436DSC_1443DSC_1446DSC_14508:31 p.m.

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

DSC_1437

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

IMG_2574

1:33 p.m.

Show is about to start!

IMG_2577

1:37 p.m.

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

IMG_2578

 

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.

IMG_2587

 

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!

IMG_2692

IMG_2694

 

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.

IMG_2757B

Sleepy boys

IMG_2759

Got my passed out roomie into bed.

IMG_2761B

 

August 12

12:24 p.m.

IMG_9925

 

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

IMG_2772

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

IMG_2782

 

August 15

10:19 p.m.

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

IMG_2805

 

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.

IMG_2862

 

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: May-June 2015

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

 

May 1

5:10 p.m.

Just got this birthday card and I LOVE it!

card 5:21 p.m.

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

IMG_1739

May 3

9:47 a.m.

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

 

May 4

8:23 p.m.

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

 

May 7

5:12 p.m.

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

 

May 11

5:00 p.m.

Doing homework with a 6 year old…

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

6yo: Can it be a curse word?

Only in my head, buddy…

 

May 12

6:38 p.m.

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

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

 

May 13

4:41 p.m.

Earlier this morning:

Me: Do you want a bagel?

Chris: No.

Me: No thank you….?

#‎MothertoAll

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

6:45 p.m.

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

goggles

May 14

1:42 p.m.

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

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

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

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

Me: ….true.

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

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

 

May 15

6:50 p.m.

“Sorry I peed on your shoe.”

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

 

May 16

6:16 p.m.

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

IMG_1767

May 19

6:43 p.m.

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

8:02 p.m.

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

Eleanor: Mom, can we get a kitten?

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

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

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

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

My daughter is eight…

 

May 20

6:56 p.m.

“Mom! Don’t throw them away!”

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

11231268_10205649368528330_3997673197570879393_n

May 21

8:32 a.m.

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

cabbage5:43 p.m.

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

10:29 p.m.

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

 

May 22

11:37 a.m.

Great Moments In Parenting!

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

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

 

May 23

1:50 p.m.

Oliver: That sounds like music to my ears Mom.

Me: What sounds like music?

Oliver: The music.

Me: Where is the music?

Oliver: On the radio.

Me: Where is the radio?

Oliver: In my brain.

Duh!

 

May 24

8:35 a.m.

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

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

Eleanor: Yeah – and at your age…

I love her.

 

May 27

8:48 a.m.

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

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

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

8:48 p.m.

While standing at the mirror, brushing teeth…

George: Mom – want to see my nose hair?

Me: I don’t see any.

George: No – look. See it in there?

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

George: I can see yours really well.

Good to know.

 

May 28

4:57 p.m.

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

 

May 29

5:01 p.m.

On the way to the pool…

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

George: What about butts?

 

May 30

2:09 p.m.

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

 

June 1

9:55 a.m.

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

11024794_10205772958177994_8198718031973867779_n6:21 p.m.

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

And that pretty much says it all about George.

 

June 2

8:23 a.m.

“And no pretend swearing either!”

It’s a thing.

 

June 3

9:07 a.m.

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

 

June 4

4:35 p.m.

Why was George in the Quiet Zone today?

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

Sounds about right.

11393259_10205790103406614_2648744720953686173_n

June 9

9:19 a.m.

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

10371922_10205819711066787_5988198945409238532_n

June 10

8:24 a.m.

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

 

June 16

6:43 p.m.

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

IMG_1825

 

June 20

12:52 p.m.

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

 

June 24

10:07 a.m.

In the car…

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

Eleanor: It’s “port-AH-potty.”

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

Eleanor: It’s CUTE??

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

Damn straight G.

 

June 28

4:20 p.m.

And I thought I wasn’t a boat person…

IMG_2169

5:09 p.m.

When I give no fucks about my wrinkles in pictures.

IMG_2290

*****

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

They Coulda’ Been Great: April 2015

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

April 2

1:37 p.m.

Perfect day to vacuum the car.

11046428_10205316351403110_227350291823592065_n

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.

11193242_10205472434465089_8981476929903498593_n

 

April 25

2:40 p.m.

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

1470064_10205480600789242_3816664601379316775_n

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.

10440233_10205159410919610_797036331450598346_n

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!

DSC_0003

DSC_0025

DSC_0026

DSC_0024

10:31 p.m.

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

IMG_1559

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

IMG_1569

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!

IMG_1614

IMG_1604

IMG_1602

IMG_1585

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?

IMG_1642

March 18

8:26 p.m.

George: Mom – are you bored?

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

George: It’s your first favorite thing?

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

George: What’s your second favorite thing?

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

George: What’s your third favorite thing?

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

George: I know what your last favorite thing is.

Me: What is it?

George: Leaving us.

There aren’t enough hugs for that one.

March 19

5:27 p.m.

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

11073397_10205210724562505_3478249783596976670_nMarch 20

12:09 p.m.

The hubris of buying a cute new doormat for spring…

20720_10205217690576651_6857116212456317947_nMarch 21

8:46 p.m.

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

March 22

5:14 p.m.

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

We’re so fancy.

March 23

11:02 a.m.

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

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

7:27 p.m.

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

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

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

Lady: What do you think?

Eleanor: Pictures of fireworks?

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

Eleanor: Jesus?

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

March 25

11:46 a.m.

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

2:07 p.m.

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

1947726_10205255763688455_1498115710669695937_n

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

11084258_10205283434500208_6466222278559860122_n

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.

10636055_10205283993434181_3808760824491631384_n

March 30

9:27 a.m.

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

baby oliver

boy Oliver

2:47 p.m.

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

March 31

4:27 p.m.

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

10390900_10204849495055560_2950969737383514530_n

My Life is a Mess

This morning I woke up full of anxiety.

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

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

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

Life As a Reflection of Its Priorities
by Terry Coveny

When I grow up…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What of your imperfect existence?

Which of your three choices are you sacrificing?

Choose wisely.

*****

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

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

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

They Coulda’ Been Great: February 2015

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

 

February 1

7:04 p.m.

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

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

7:58 p.m.

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

Chris: WHAT?!?

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

Chris: IT’S PUPPIES!

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

 

February 3

3:04 p.m.

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

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

4:54 p.m.

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

Me: Wow!

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

SUPER plan…

 

February 4

7:37 p.m.

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

33 – 18 =

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

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

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

Feeling very vintage…

 

February 6

6:38 p.m.

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

 

February 7

4:22 p.m.

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

IMG_1350

IMG_1359

9:27 p.m.

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

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

George: So you pick brain.

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

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

Nice try.

 

February 8

7:34 p.m.

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

IMG_13668:04 p.m.

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

LTYM baby

February 17

8:55 a.m.

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

Me: I don’t think so either.

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

Me: The state?

George: Of Virginia.

Me: Where did you come up with that number?

George: I researched it. In my brain.

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

10:47 a.m.

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

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

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

 

February 18

7:36 a.m.

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

9:42 a.m.

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

Me: No.

George: No – I mean in a “bad way.”

Me: Still no.

George: But MOM…

Me: Fine – what does it mean?

George: Fart.

Me: What is the C word?

George: C-R-A-…

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

1:53 p.m.

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


10:06 p.m.

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

 

February 19

5:21 p.m.

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

5:51 p.m.

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

Me: you mean cloud formations?

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

Me: You do?

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

Me: That sounds pretty.

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

#‎traffictalk‬

 

February 20

9:23 a.m.

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

11:21 a.m.

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

I don’t even want to know…

11:53 a.m.

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

3:18 p.m.

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

minecrap

February 22

10:42 a.m.

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

14170727414_c891befb30_o

February 24

12:45 p.m.

Co-pilot courtesy of Eleanor. #‎ThisCloseToSettingItFree‬

10991163_10205037202664566_2425962767072193292_n5:07 p.m.

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

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

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

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

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

 

February 26

8:10 a.m.

Oliver: Mom, can I have Girl Scout cookies?

Me: Oh…sure. It’s a snow day.

Oliver: Can I have two?

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

#‎PleaseGoToSchool‬

12:52 p.m.

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

 

February 28

8:10 a.m.

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

3:55 p.m.

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

11034315_10205068493086807_1347541573525077225_n

Boughs of Folly

tree - old

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:

IMG_0940

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.