Tag Archives: World’s Best Mom

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:

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

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

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

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

Chris: You are a psycho about the lights.

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

Happy holidays!

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

They Coulda’ Been Great: August-September 2014

Almost caught up on “They Coulda’ Been Great.” Here is our August and September on Facebook… (What is this? All answers are HERE.)

 

August 1

9:24 a.m.

“Hey Mom! Is it time to check my planters warts?”

#TheGlamorousLife

9:45 a.m.

I’m now on Day 3 of putting on exercise clothes with the intention of exercising. Fingers crossed for Day 1 of actually exercising…

4:19 p.m.

The amount of time I spend texting with other mothers about where our children are in the neighborhood (“just left my house on bikes – are they at your house now?“) brings me back to my conference planner days spent running around an exhibit hall with a radio glued to my ear. I’m THISCLOSE to texting them stuff like, “Cathy – what’s your 20?

6:05 p.m.

Scene: Three mothers are talking while children play upstairs.

They hear dramatic shrieks.

Conversation stops as all freeze and tilt their heads prairie dog style to assess the quality of shrieks and what that might mean.

Mother #1: Sounds joyous…but possibly dangerous…

Mother #2 and #3: [Get up and go to check it out.]

Mother #1: Continues to drink wine.

End scene.

Pop quiz: Which mother am I?

 

August 2

12:43 p.m.

A few minutes ago, anyone who saw me in my car would assume that I was rocking out. Probably wondered why they couldn’t hear me through the window. Given the chance, I’d explain that I was actually whispering lyrics since “the singing police” in the back seat (Oliver) was ruining Jesse’s Girl for me with his complaints. WHO doesn’t sing along to Jesse’s Girl? I MEAN…

 

August 4

5:29 p.m.

Anyone ever deal with a missing hermit crab? A few hours ago, we noticed that Mr. Krabs escaped. Searched…but as of yet – he is still at large. Suggestions?

 

August 5

8:35 a.m.

Groupon keeps sending me e-mails about laser hair removal. It’s nice to know that someone out there really gets me…

6:15 p.m.

Q: What is, “what is approximately 10.”

A: The Jeopardy answer to, “the number of times each day Kate Googles something she sees on social media because she’s never heard of it before.”

Q: What is, “what is approximately 5.”

A: The Jeopardy answer to, “the number of times Kate tries to type ‘Jeopardy’ correctly before she finally gives up and consults Google.”

6:54 p.m.

So our dog, Alice has been having some stomach issues since we got back from the beach. The accidents have made me want to move, and what she does when we take her on walks make me vow to NEVER walk barefoot on grass again.

I was JUST thinking that it may be time for a visit to the vet, when Eleanor told me that she thought we should move a Costco-size bag of cheap dog food we bought a while back and then put in the basement when after two days we decided it made dog walks…unpleasant for those of us holding the plastic bag.

Eleanor told me that she saw Alice sniffing the discarded dog food bag earlier that day. So I picked it up and….LIGHT AS A FEATHER. Mystery Solved! And GROSS.

 

August 6

1:31 p.m.

Bumped into a friend I haven’t seen in a while at the YMCA. I told her she looked great and asked when her baby was due. She told me I look great and said she could tell I had been working out a lot this summer. I then explained that I haven’t been working out much at all this summer, it’s just that when you are 8 months pregnant, EVERYONE looks thin. #truth

3:54 p.m.

GOOD GOD but whenever George is talking it sounds like he’s holding a live grenade… #intensechild

 

August 8

11:24 p.m.

A few hours ago, the kids and I were walking home from “party night” at our neighbors’ house. Oliver was in front, and I could hear him saying something about a frog. But somehow my ears hearing “frog” and my eyes seeing the shadow in front of my feet just wasn’t enough to make the connection. Then a big bullfrog hopped across my feet. Then I jumped up and down, screaming, “OHMYGODOHMYGODJESUSCHRISTOHMYGOD!” Then my kids laughed at me, and it actually was pretty funny and I thought sometimes life isn’t so hard. Sometimes.

 

August 10

8:59 a.m.

Don’t forget to flush.
Don’t forget to wash your hands.
Don’t forget to put your underwear back on BEFORE you leave the bathroom.”

I’m thinking of having a plaque made… #boys

4:42 p.m.

Okay, let’s talk about Outlander. Just watched the premiere while folding laundry today. I decided to NOT compare the book and the mini-series too much because it’s impossible to recreate anything with that much detail. But I have to say, I thought it was REALLY good. Loved the actress who played Claire (and LOVED her wardrobe). In fact – I thought the casting worked really well if you didn’t get too caught up in how they looked…Jamie was just a little too pretty, Jack Randall wasn’t nearly pretty enough and WTF DOUGAL!?! Not nearly hot enough (but maybe that improves as the show goes on and he channels some Sean Connery older guy hotness? We’ll see…) Didn’t bother me at all that Jamie doesn’t show up until the last 20 minutes. The background of “present day” was necessary and well done. Who else laughed out lout at the Scots’ reaction when Claire asked for alcohol to dress a wound? Definitely a fun watch. Can’t wait for the next one!

 

August 11

2:16 p.m.

This may be my favorite picture of the summer. And whenever they are screaming at each other or crying about the injustice of him getting that or her having more, I will pull this up on my phone and stroke the screen saying, “pretty…so pretty…”

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Is it just me, or does anyone else sometimes move their ships while playing Battleship so the kid can get more hits and the game will end faster?

7:03 p.m.

Playing Clue with Oliver is entertaining but not exactly fast paced. He’s far more interested in making the game pieces talk to each other than guessing “whodunit.”

 

August 13

8:12 a.m.

This morning – not for the first time – I noticed that my vitamin D pills come in a bottle that looks exactly like the Melatonin bottle. The actual tablets are also identical. This could end very badly for me one day…

9:21 a.m.

Eleanor has officially perfected her five syllable “Sto-o-o-o-op.” Flawless. I’m so proud.

11:26 a.m.

We’ve only been at the farm for ten minutes and I’ve already cleaned up an epic sunblock explosion in my backpack and retrieved George’s shoe from a gazebo roof. Auspicious beginnings…

 

August 15

9:18 a.m.

Just when we had given up hope, Mr. Krabs came back! Guess our crumb strewn floor provided whatever nourishment he needed. Finally – my slovenly housekeeping pays off!

1:18 p.m.

Today I have five kids at a farm with miniature golf. After 20 minutes of MY TURN! And YOU CHEATED! I think it’s safe to say that I have never in my life been so excited to feed goats.

 

August 16

1:15 p.m.

Doing something to the demolition derby track. I have no idea – but George sure is excited. The things I do for my children… #boys

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Juuuuust cleared that height requirement.

 

 

August 17

9:32 a.m.

Just ate my weight in cheese grits. So I’m now ready for anything…that involves sleeping for 10 hours…

6:00 p.m.

George: Mom – can Ben and I have a play date?

Me: Weren’t you JUST telling me that he was being mean to you and telling you to go away when you were trying to talk to him and he WASN’T doing it in the kidding around voice?

George: Yeah. But then I did the right thing and apologized for being overly dramatic.

I doubt he will continue to “do the right thing” EVERY time he’s being overly dramatic… But this is a huge step forward for my INTENSE little boy.

 

August 18

8:59 p.m.

Me: Ready for bed?

George: [YAWN] No.

Eleanor: We’re never gonna “be ready for bed.”

Yes. I noticed.

10:07 p.m.

Earlier today, while trying to get the kids to stop running around the post office, I pointed out the track for a partition wall and asked them what they thought it was for….

George: I KNOW. They pull that out when there’s a tornado. Then everyone can stand behind it and not get caught in the twister.

Me: That’s an interesting idea…

Eleanor: Or maybe it’s for when they’re closed.

Me: Or that.

#MarsVenus

 

August 21

1:47 p.m.

On the way to the pool, George kept talking about all of the “swimming stuff” he was going to teach his younger friend. It was clear that the friend wasn’t liking this line of conversation so I intervened – suggesting that maybe his friend wasn’t interested in “learning stuff” today. George was having none of that…

George: [practically screaming with excitement] But I’m going to teach him how to jump off the diving board and swim to the side!

Friend: [mumbling] I want to go on the slide…

Me: [to a STILL talking, George] GEORGE! Maybe he doesn’t want a teacher. MAYBE he just wants a friend.

George: I could be a friendly teacher?

 

August 22

12:38 p.m.

One day late for #TBT. I think George was four… Decided to try out Oliver’s new bike.

 

 

August 22

5:05 p.m.

It was only a matter of time…

 

 

August 23

5:52 p.m.

Earlier today, our favorite babysitter (who is visiting for the weekend) was telling me a story about how her iphone was stolen. It began: “Well, it was my friend’s graduation party, and she was crying in her room – so you know, I had to take care of her…”

My first reaction was that it’s been a long time since I was at a party where the host was locked in her bedroom crying or where any of the guests had valuables stolen… Could not relate at all anymore.

My second (delayed) reaction, was that I could probably tell the exact same story, but it would begin: “Well, it was my daughter’s birthday party, and she was crying in her room – so you know, I had to take care of her…” And the iphone wouldn’t be stolen – it would be broken by children fighting over who had the next turn playing games on it. While none of this actually happened to me…it totally could.

So really, we’re practically leading parallel lives… #20something40somethingworldproblems

 

August 24

3:58 p.m.

Ren Fair baby!

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August 25

10:03 a.m.

Flying our freak flag high at the grocery store today…

tail

 

August 26

6:58 p.m.

Oliver was calling me from the other room. He needed HELP because he couldn’t find the TV channel he had been watching. The Home Shopping Network was on and I made him wait another five minutes before I found Sam & Cat because TRISH MCEVOY was on HSN. TRISH MCEVOY! Facial lines were being blurred with magic powder. There was SHIMMER. It was mesmerizing. I miss department store makeup…

 

August 28

3:13 p.m.

Walking past a garden on a street with no sidewalk…

Me: Hey guys – be careful not to step on the flowers.

George: Because they’re poisonous?

Me: No! Because they’re beautiful.

#boys

8:26 p.m.

It was open house (meet the teachers) at the kids’ Elementary school today and I’m really happy with placements. This will be the first year that all three have new teachers (George and Eleanor were in K-1 so they had the same teacher/classroom for the past two years). Both of their second grade teachers are great. I could just barely pry Eleanor out of her new classroom. George got Oliver’s teacher from last year (the strict one – as it should be); and when we left the classroom he said, “Mom, THIS year, I’m not going to be bad.” Fingers crossed for fewer trips to the principal’s office… The only downer was how SAD Oliver was that he had to leave his second grade teacher (when I told George he would have Mrs. T, Oliver said, “OH – George will be in MY class?!“) There were tears. He tried to barter with his new teacher for a “trade” which seemed to involve him doing a week in the new classroom and then switching back to his old one. I have no doubt that he’ll be FINE after a day or two. But that one just breaks my heart with his loyalty and desire to be “little” forever.

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August 31

10:30 a.m.

Just BARELY managed to put back a K.C. and the Sunshine Band’s Greatest Hits CD after initially dropping it into my basket at Target. This perfectly exemplifies the dangerous level of my impulse shopper mentality…and my taste is music…

 

September 2

10:20 a.m.

The amount of time I am allotted for first day of school picture taking is well represented by the “best” shots from this morning. Oliver was practically jumping out of his skin with anxiety over his new classroom, so I’m surprised he isn’t a blur between his brother and sister…

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September 3

11:23 a.m.

Nothing makes you feel more attractive than an annual visit to the dermatologist. Unless of course, “photo damage” and “acne scarring” don’t do it for you…

7:49 p.m.

I’m not good at explaining sciencey things.”

And other embarrassing answers I give my children when I’m tired…

 

September 4

8:49 a.m.

Eleanor: Hey Jonas! I got George!

George: No you didn’t! That was my thumb! Thumbs don’t count!

Me: Yes they do! Thumbs DO count.

Not that I have any idea what they’re talking about… But George is in second grade now, and it’s long since time he learned that thumbs totally count.

7:45 p.m.

Eleanor just went outside with Chris to walk the dog…

Eleanor: [running in the door] GEORGE! You HAVE to see this!

Me: What is it?

Eleanor: A SNAKE SKIN!

George: On our steps?!

Me: [horrified expression]

Eleanor: No.

Me: [relieved expression]

Chris: Well, almost on the steps.

Me: [Thinking, “time to move.”]

Eleanor: I touched it!

Me: [THISCLOSE to passing out.]

I miss the city.

 

September 5

7:11 p.m.

His lesbian friend totally wrote this for him.”

-Diane Cooper Gould’s cynical take on a Hey Cupid profile our single friend found promising… #HoorayforFridayNight

 

September 7

5:36 p.m.

I’m not much of an activist (unless having opinions and really caring counts…okay, so I’m not much of an activist). But I WILL say this. For men who feel like it’s only natural that they would want to see stolen pictures of female celebrities (or any women, really) in the nude simply because they are sexually attracted to women and would OBVIOUSLY want to get a peek…consider this: That may be someone else’s wife or girlfriend. What if it was your wife or girlfriend? That may be someone else’s MOTHER. What if it was your mother? That IS someone else’s daughter. Do I need to ask the obvious question?

 

September 11

9:50 p.m.

Arnebya, you had no idea that by not coming tonight, you’d be missing out on drinks at a Bayou Sports bar called Chasin’ Tails (get it?!) where they have both “red AND white” wine. My glass of “red” arrived in a brandy snifter.

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September 12

8:11 a.m.

Me: Oliver, do you need underwear?

Oliver: No thanks.

Me: Let me rephrase that. Are you WEARING underwear?

Oliver: Uh….

That’s what I thought.

4:52 p.m.

Mulch is like the ground beef of wood. WHO KNOWS what’s in there. Also – my children are burying themselves in mulch.

 

September 15

9:06 a.m.

Those mornings I have to ask, “exactly WHO are the people in MY neighborhood?#‎SweetRide‬

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September 15

6:42 p.m.

“We’ve built up enough immunities. It’s time to start hand washing.”

#‎MomFail‬

8:39 p.m.

Chris and I are out to dinner for our anniversary, and it was only when we were walking into the restaurant that I realized I forgot to put on my earrings. My hair is pulled back of course. We may as well just go home now. Night ruined.

 

September 17

6:56 p.m.

Eleanor: I have Ms. Gutierrez for Music – who do you have?

George: Mr. Robinson

Me: You have Mr. Robinson again?

Eleanor: Who do you like better – Mr. Robinson or Ms. Gutierrez?

George: Mr. Robinson!

Me: Why do you like Mr. Robinson better?

George: Because Ms. Gutierrez only gives two warnings and Mr. Robinson gives four.

Obviously.

 

September 18

10:01 a.m.

#TBT 2010

DSCN22267:37 p.m.

Eleanor is reading a book about horses…

Eleanor: It says, “Genghis Khan conquered Asia and eastern Europe with an army of a quarter of a million horsemen.” There used to be HORSEMEN?

Me: Yes…?

Eleanor: So they were half horse/half man?!

#1 – OF COURSE she didn’t know how to pronounce Genghis Khan! (Or “quarter”)

#2 – I kind of wish I could’ve said yes…because GEEK.

 

September 23

7:24 p.m.

Just now – George came inside after playing next door, hollering, “Mom! The moon is bleeding and strange things are happening!

Where does he hear about this stuff? Stuff I need to google…

moon7:53 p.m.

George: By the way – aliens aren’t even real. Only on other planets. Like Saturn. And Mercury.

So that’s good news…

 

September 24

6:42 p.m.

G-E-O-R-G-E stands for:

Grat (Great)
Emeralb (Emerald)
Osum (Awesome)
Roking (Rocking)
Gelles (Jealous – because “sometimes I’m jealous”)
Efletik (Athletic)

list

 

September 25

8:20 a.m.

#‎TBT October 2008 with my first true blogging BFF. Yesterday was my turn to write a review for ‪Rare Bird‬. This would be the blog that is covered with dust due to perpetual html woes… So you won’t find any pictures there (damn broken blog) but I made up for it with an alarming number of words.

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As I told my almost eight year old daughter that not only did I read her new library book when I was a kid, but that we also have OUR OWN copy of Where The Sidewalk Ends right here at home…it occurred to me that she is doing an excellent job of raising herself.

7:34

MAGIC

Sandra’s seen a leprechaun,Eddie touched a troll,
Laurie danced with witches once,
Charlie found some goblin’s gold.
Donald heard a mermaid sing,
Susy spied an elf,
But all the magic I have known
I’ve had to make myself.

-Shel Silverstein

 

September 27

10:08 a.m.

And then I realized that all of those reminders from school that the 29th is a student holiday means that my children will ALL BE HOME, ALL DAY on Monday. I’m not mentally prepared for this…

3:31 p.m.

George: Mom! No one ever listens to me! And I’m mostly right.

Preaching to the choir, George…

3:49 p.m.

George: Mom? Should I get State Farm or Nationwide on your side?

Me: What?

George: When I grow up. What do you think? State Farm or Nationwide?

I think someone’s been watching too much TV…

 

I’ll post October this week and then we’ll be back to monthly posts. Then maybe I’ll start writing actual blog posts again…

They Coulda’ Been Great: June-July 2014

And suddenly – it was summer… Our June and July on Facebook… (What is this? All answers are HERE.)

 

June 1

9:21 a.m.

Waiting for kids at the Bike/Walkathon finish line, and happy mine are referred to as bikers not “walkers.” #‎TheWalkingDead

5:54 p.m.

It’s not summer until someone loses a toenail running for the ice cream truck. Poor Eleanor! #‎itsnotevensummeryet!

toe

 

June 2

8:42 p.m.

When someone is going to be in a show, you don’t say ‘good luck’ because that’s actually bad luck. You say ‘break a leg.’ …Or something French.”

-Eleanor Hood, Age 7 on “acting”

So the BIG SHOW was today! Our last acting class (for the kids who were enrolled: Oliver, George, Eleanor, and the rest of the K-2 crew; and the grownup who had to “shadow” her oldest who refused to participate: me) was a performance of “Happy Fairy Godmother’s Day.”

Eleanor was Merryweather (one of the three godmothers) and LOVED being in a play. Even with her injured toe, she gave it 150%. Remembered her lines and did an excellent job projecting her voice.

George was Jombo (one of the two guys who announces each of the “supplicants” as they come in). He’s actually a good little actor and got some laughs when he really hammed it up. It goes without saying that he had no problem projecting his voice… Mainly I was just thrilled that he behaved and didn’t spend the performance rolling on the floor (with the exception of one or two superfluous break dancing moves at the end that I could have done without).

But the the real break out role was “The Big Bad Wolf” played by Oliver Hood. That conscientious objector who required his mother’s stern presence to even mumble through his lines, not only projected his voice…he stomped and roared and broke off into improv, telling the audience that he would blow ALL their houses down. Then he didn’t stop ad libbing and I had to make frantic gestures at him, hissing “THAT’S ENOUGH. GO SIT DOWN.” Someone needed to give him the hook. It was beyond my “participation” expectations. I asked Eleanor if she thought it was funny or embarrassing. She said it was “a little embarrassing” but she laughed along with everyone else. I agreed it was kind of embarrassing. In the best way possible.

I’m SO proud of ALL of them. And SO glad that I don’t have to sit in a gym watching boys roll on floor and practice their armpit farts next Monday.

Aaaaaand….SCENE.

 

June 3

1:15 p.m.

Just reached for a Diet Coke at Target. Have never seen this #‎ShareaCoke thing before and the the first time I do, it’s MY NAME. #‎ShouldHaveBoughtaLotteryTicketInstead‬

DC

 

June 4

12:12 a.m.

Catching up on last season’s Bones, and Curtis Armstrong’s guest appearance made us decide that it is impossible to see him on TV and not say, “hey it’s Booger!” ‪#‎childrenofthe80s‬ (Also have serious Moonlighting nostalgia. AND Risky Business: “Sometimes you just have to say ‘What the Fu….’“)

booger

 

June 5

10:10 a.m.

#TBT My solution to the twins taking off their diapers and peeing everywhere at nap time. I called them “the silver belts.” #‎ThisIsWhatDesperationLooksLike

This is also a bit of a time capsule with the old kids table, plastic plates AND R2D2 before he met his end on our basement stairs.

silver belts4:39 p.m.

Sitting on my front steps enjoying the beautiful weather, when I noticed the five year old boy next door singing Let it Go while scootering. When he spotted me, he said, “I can hear Eleanor [who was biking on the other side of the house] all the way over here.” I asked, “was she just singing Let it Go?” He nodded, yes.

Smooth move.

6:41 p.m.

Ah – the K-1 Movement Performance. The most painfully boring 60 minutes of the school year.

Just saying what everyone else is thinking….

9:07 p.m.

Anyone out there swaddle their elementary school age children at night? Because I’m seriously considering it. #‎GOTOSLEEPALREADY‬

 

June 6

11:06 p.m.

Orange is the New Black season 2 is now online! Had it streaming while I got stuff done around the house all day. Which means I’m halfway through the season, but haven’t gotten anything done around the house today.

 

June 7

10:03 a.m.

One great thing about having three kids is that at any given time, I can generally count on at least one of them to be delightful company. One not so great thing about having three kids is that at any given time, I can generally count on at least one of them to be a miserable human being. So apparently they take it in shifts.

8:56 p.m.

Eleanor: Mom, do you know why I cried so much today?

Me: Why?

Eleanor: Because my life is very hard for me.

Sing it sister.

 

June 9

5:57 p.m.

On a whim, I decided to pull out the old Free to Be You and Me CD I bought for my kids when they were toddlers. It’s been a while (like OVER three years) and I was feeling nostalgic. So I subjected four children between the ages of five and nine to Seventies gender equality sing-alongs for about 45 minutes in the car today. Not sure how into it they were, but I almost burst into tears when When We Grow Up started… (original and superior version by Diana Ross) ‪#‎Bornin72‬ ‪#‎AndYouAndMeAreFreeToBeYouAndMe‬

June 10

6:06 p.m.

A couple of days ago, Oliver dropped a box of cereal on the floor sending Lucky Charms flying in an explosion of Hearts, Stars and Horseshoes – Clovers and Blue Moons… Now I’m afraid that the dog will give herself a concussion bashing her head into counter crevices searching for strays.

6:32 p.m.

My husband isn’t the best about getting stuff done around the house. But if I tell him we’re out of wine? He is AT THE STORE before I can blink. SO important to have common interests…

 

June 12

12:07 a.m.

After watching several episodes of Girls and indulging in a few glasses of wine, I’ve decided that I want to be the voice of my generation. Totally doable right?

8:24 a.m.

Most people have anxiety dreams BEFORE they have to be on stage. I, on the other hand, have mine a month later. Last night, the cast of Listen to Your Mother DC waited for me on stage as I frantically searched the dressing room for a button. Then when I finally did join them, I took time to ask everyone if my leopard print suit looked vintage – because that’s what I was going for. Also, the little bow embellishment at the collar kept drooping on one side. It was driving me crazy. Don’t even get me started on how I managed to leave the script in my car…

2:06 p.m.

Walking into Comcast to drop off my cable box and terminate service. I’m so bad at ending things. Feels like I’m about to dump a nice enough boyfriend I’m just not into anymore. Formulating my, “it’s not you, it’s me,” speech…

6:13 p.m.

George: Mo-o-om! Oliver keeps throwing the pee towel at me!

Me: Well George, since it was YOUR pee, I want YOU to pick it up and bring it to the laundry room. And Oliver – don’t throw pee towels at people!

So many teachable moments…

[Note because I got questions about this: a pee towel is what I usually call the towel I use to soak up our dog’s “bad girl” moments. In this case it was George who peed on the floor, and no – I have no idea why he thought that would be funny.]

 

June 13

11:36 a.m.

From Oliver’s social skills group report from Saturday: “When we went to the playground, I was really impressed with his ability to accept ‘no’ for an answer when I told him he couldn’t pretend to be a sloth any more. He said ‘ok,’ participated in the activities, and didn’t ask about it again!

I love this on so many levels.

12:22 p.m.

OMG it’s Friday the 13th! Why didn’t anyone tell me? Actually I’m not really all that superstitious…but those terrible movies scared me to death and bad luck or not, I’m very susceptible to bad connotations. I usually luck out and don’t not notice the date until it’s passed. Not sure how to proceed with the day… Maybe no Target?

5:49 p.m.

Me: Oliver, I love you to death.

Oliver: Yeah – like the death to me.

Me: What? No – I mean I love you more than anything.

Oliver: More than anything like death.

Me: Yes – I love you more than anything like death.

I love my little Balki Bartokomous more than anything. To death.

7:06 p.m.

Message from the universe (at my friend’s house) that yes, I SHOULD have spent this week watching the first three seasons of Girls.

time

 

June 14

8:14 a.m.

I want you to go into the bathroom right now and wash your hands and face…and arms…and knees.”

Said to Oliver, who just ate a chocolate doughnut.

3:36 p.m.

So tomorrow is Father’s Day. As I think about what to do for Chris, I’m reminded of Eleanor’s school journal entry about Mother’s Day. Something tells me he’s not going to clean our room…

mothers day

 

June 15

6:15 p.m.

Check out the level of description in Oliver’s recent school journal entry regarding his bike! I can’t wait for the novel…

IMG_8538

 

June 17

8:38 p.m.

No problem, Chris. Work as late as you need to…

IMG_8540

 

June 18

1:59 p.m.

You know when you haven’t taken an exercise class in years, and when you finally do, the instructor says, “lift your right index finger,” and it hurts so much you think you might cry? Well – I didn’t cry, but after taking two steps down the stairs when the class ended, I seriously considered turning back and using the elevator.

3:38 p.m.

My kids write each other the sweetest love notes!

IMG_8542

 

June 19

7:19 p.m.

I think I’ve mentioned before that Oliver likes to give inanimate objects voices (his pencils talk to each other…vegetables scream while I’m chopping them…) And only today, did I finally notice that they ALL sound exactly like Mr. T.

 

June 23

5:04 p.m.

I think you guys need a safe word.”

Said to my children. No irony.

6:35 p.m.

I just had to have a talk with George after a friend informed me that he was walking around with a box of fireworks, inviting all the neighborhood kids to our house AND promising that afterward, Chris would buy everyone ice cream.

So vacations without him when he’s a teenager are OUT…

 

June 24

4:27 p.m.

I got so excited about this until I asked if she wanted to be a writer, and she said,”no – I just do it because I have to.” Guess I’ll take it.

IMG_86104:36 p.m.

Hey! NO ONE discovered it. You can’t “claim” a dead turtle.”

#bizarrestatementoftheday

 

June 25

6:23 p.m.

School is officially OUT and suddenly my decision to forgo camps or childcare of any kind this summer feels like I decided to go skydiving…

JUST KIDDING! Skydiving only takes up one afternoon.

9:23 p.m.

summer

 

June 28

3:03 p.m.

The other week at our community yard sale, Eleanor picked up a huge bag of crafting supplies for a dollar. SCORE! One item included in her haul was a package of decorative cardinals (those semi-lifelike ones that people attach to wreaths and such). Thrilled with this procurement, she decided to display them all over her room (one on a doll’s lap, three on her dresser, two on her bedside table, a few resting on baskets…). It’s like a fake cardinal convention. Unfortunately, they aren’t really designed to stand up on their own and keep falling on their sides. Now her room looks less like a festive aviary, and more like there was a gas leak in the mine. Puts a rather macabre twist on the shabby chic decor. I think it’s really going to catch on…

 

June 30

3:50 p.m.

Any Everybody Loves Raymond fans out there? Chris got back from a business trip on Saturday. Wonder how long his suitcase will live in our dining room if I don’t touch it. I’m designating this as Day Two. #SuitcaseStandoff

suitcase

 

July 1

8:54 a.m.

George: Mom, you know it’s very easy to get lost in Asia and the African forest.

Me: Really?

George: Yeah – because there are lots of trees and it’s very narrow.

#Geography

11:20 a.m.

How fun is this? My friend, Sarah Rosemary Bagley asked me to be a guest on her “recovering perfectionist’s guide to a B+ life” weekly podcast. We had to reschedule several times when I got my dates mixed up and then when we finally did the taping I spent approximately 1/3 of the podcast telling the twins’ birth story…so it’s clear that I’m living more of a C- life… BUT I really enjoyed doing it and we do cover a lot of other interesting topics like producing the DC Listen to Your Mother show and our own brand of imperfect parenting. If you like the sound of my voice as much as I seem to…I highly recommend giving this a listen.

podcast image
10:01 p.m.

Watching Sunday’s episode of 24: Live Another Day

Chris: Benjamin Bratt is dick.

Me: I hate you Benjamin Bratt! No wonder you couldn’t make it work with America’s sweetheart.

Chris: Who is America’s sweetheart?

Me: Julia Roberts. What generation are you from?

YES – that was well over 10 years ago. But we are old and still fully entrenched in our “glory days”. Also? Why do I watch TV with boys?

 

July 2

5:43 a.m.

Life with an intense child…

My boys are both struggling with reading. So I signed them up for a free trial with an online program someone suggested to me (silly cartoons teaching phonics). THEY LOVE IT! But after two lessons, Oliver was all, “it was real, it was fun, but it wasn’t real fun.” He would like to pick up where he left off tomorrow. NO problem considering you’re only really supposed to do one lesson per day. George on the other hand, is STILL at it (just checked, and he’s on lesson five). At this rate, I expect him to finish all 80 lessons in the two week trial period. Which my type A evil twin is totally rooting for…

 

July 3

12:14 p.m.

Me: Don’t eat your shoes!

Oliver: I’m not eating my shoes! … They’re flip flops.

OH – well, carry on then.

 

July 4

1:49 p.m

It’s SO great that L.L. Bean replaces backpacks when they break. UNLESS your child is so attached to his discontinued backpack that he has a nervous breakdown when none of the current options look like it. Apparently, “Oliver the Backpack” is still perfectly functional without a working zipper, and abandoning him at the store was an act of unconscionable cruelty. I don’t know if he’ll ever forgive me… It’s like trading in “Oliver the Car” ALL OVER AGAIN.

 

July 5

7:47 a.m.

Fourth of July is over, but but my husband’s suitcase is still feeling festive. I have seen Chris both step over it and walk around it this week. Day Seven and the #suitcasestandoff continues…

IMG_88401:34 p.m.

Me: So what was your favorite firework last night.

Eleanor: I liked the ones that went up in the air…but not the loud part – that was scary.

George: I liked the one Dad messed up that exploded down and went everywhere and was really dangerous.

We are fully embracing our gender roles today…

4:31 p.m.

Neighbors must have teased non-facebooking Chris about the standoff. Earlier when I was out with the kids, he texted me “standoff over,” with this picture.

IMG_8845Of course, a couple of hours later, I found this in our bedroom. So we seem to have a miscommunication about the exact terms of this standoff…

IMG_88447:52 p.m.

Oliver just looked horrified at the suggestion that he help his father with the hamburger patties. He’ll touch a dead chipmunk…but not raw ground beef. Earlier, I found him chewing paper…but GODFORBID I suggest he try a noodle. Well, he is entertaining.

 

July 7

12:13 p.m.

Lavender picking! But the (end of season) pickins are slim…

IMG_88918:51 p.m.

Every day my dog, Alice does something disgusting (today it was wake me up by loudly puking under my bed) and I give her my “why are you being so gross?” face. Then she gives me her, “I’m sorry, have you not met me?” face. This isn’t evolving…. #NOTSoulmates.

 

July 8

3:44 p.m.

I think I may finally be okay with being a 42 year old woman in a one piece bathing suit… Of course, I’ve looked like a 42 year old woman in a one piece bathing suit since I was 24…so that probably helps.

6:46 p.m.

The twins had a dentist appointment today and came home with shiny new toothbrushes. George is particularly taken with his, and keeps referring to it as his “Oral B.” #MrEnthusiasm

11:26 p.m.

Just when I think Chris and I are totally on the same page, I say something like, “aww – it’s the one where Ross and Rachael do laundry together,” and he has no idea what I’m talking about.” #NotSoulmates #EverythingLooksLikeJammiesNow

 

July 10

7:06 a.m.

Look who has returned to us (from Ebay)! Oliver and Oliver the Backpack had a joyous reunion yesterday. Now working on my own “brand new L.L. Bean backpack for sale” listing…

IMG_89211:36 p.m.

It’s only 1:30 and, I’ve already lost count of all the fart and burp contests I’ve been asked to judge (all declined of course). I’ve also heard the word “penis” approximately five BILLION times. #summer

8:17 p.m.

Earlier at Target…

Me: Okay you guys – this is going to be a very quick shopping trip. We’re only buying a couple of things we need. Milk and…what else…?

Oliver: Toys?

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present Oliver Hood – single handedly keeping hope alive since 2005.

8:36 p.m.

“I’m not tattling! I’m reporting what’s happening!”

-George Hood, age 7

 

July 11

12:40 p.m.

Next time I say, “hey – who wants to take a quick walk up to Dunkin Donuts to get a treat?” we’ll all know that what I REALLY mean is, “who wants to participate in a miserable 30 minute exercise in conflict resolution/social skills development?” #summerfun

But it was all good once we got the doughnuts. [Disclaimer: the misery was 100% George and Eleanor – not their friends.]

IMG_8937

 

July 15

3:25 p.m.

George: MOM! You know what I just saw on the soap in the bathroom?

Me: On the SOAP?

George: Yeah! On the soap. Seasoned salt!

Me: (of course – turning to Oliver) You put seasoned salt on the soap?

Oliver: Uh….

Epilogue – I checked it out, and in Oliver’s defense, it’s clear that he must have gotten the seasoned salt on the bar of soap while washing his hands. Which isn’t at all weird since seasoned salt is “a thing” in Oliver’s world (which IS weird). So much so that my other children can identify seasoned salt residue on a bar of soap. Also – he is now acting as a ventriloquist and making the vegetables that I’m cutting scream in pain.

Never a dull moment…

 

July 16

5:18 p.m.

George’s friend: Hey Eleanor! Want to play manhunt?

Eleanor: What’s that?

George’s friend: Someone has to get to that tree without being tagged and everyone chases them.

George: Yeah! It’s really fun! Like soldiers vs. ninjas!

Eleanor can make her own decisions, but I can’t think of anything that sounds less appealing…

 

July 17

1:06 p.m.

Put on unflattering summer exercise clothes with the plan to run a few errands, then go to the YMCA. Errands took longer than expected and I had to run home to meet the summer school bus. Still have more errands to do – now with the kids. Still in my unflattering summer exercise clothes…And feeling very “People of Walmart.”

6:07 p.m.

#TBT Who else had one of these?? Bonus points for wearing a party dress made by Mom. And I have to say – the homemade party dress with a white eyelet apron was the quintessential 70’s look for Coveny girls. I would go so far as to say that it was OUR JAM.

Kate Christmas 27:58 p.m.

#TBT And how gorgeous was my MOM?! All 29 years old of her…

Kate Christmas 68:01 p.m.

#TBT And have we discussed this? My mother’s take on “outerwear.” The best part is that those were apparently my DAD’s pants. It’s a look…

Kate snow 3

 

July 18

8:15 a.m.

Leaving for the beach tomorrow and have of yet to do one of those bingo wing blaster exercises I looked up. I am my own worst enemy.

 

July 19

9:13 a.m.

Kicking off our drive to NC with a breakfast stop in Fredericksburg – where Oliver chose to make crayons talk to each other instead of eating and George wore his backpack full of Matchbox cars. Keepin’ it real. Keepin’ it fresh.

IMG_89879:30 a.m.

In Fredericksburg…

Chris: We’re going to a battlefield now.

George: YAY!

Me: We’ll walk around some fields to see some plaques and stuff.

George: And dead guys!

Me: No dead guys.

George: Explosions?

Me: No explosions

George: Michael Jackson’s leg?

Chris: Stonewall Jackson’s arm – and YES.

#boys

10:50 a.m.

On a boring Civil War walking tour, the resourceful man remembers to bring a yellow crayon.

IMG_90246:43 p.m.

Apparently he has my eyes AND my freckles. #minime

DSC_0789

 

July 20

7:51 a.m.

One hour into the road trip and my children are already fighting about which DVD to watch next. At which point I turn all old lady on them and say, “when I was your age we didn’t HAVE movies in the car. All we had were these books called Mad Libs. AND they weren’t even all that funny.”

12:51 p.m.

We made it to the beach! Now the kids just have to do that for 3.5 more hours until we can get into our house…

IMG_90401:05 p.m.

Dammit Shoshana Kohn! Because of you, I read We Were Liars. Now I’m wrecked. Also watching my two boys and girl play on the beach. It’s not a “tiny beach” – but still. Sniff.

3:17 p.m.

Arriving at the beach five hours before you can get into your rental sounds doable until one hour before you can get into your rental and Food Lion was so crowded and your kids are exhausted from playing in the surf and you are now just listening to them whine as you drive around playing DVDs for them and you actually yell into the back, “if you don’t eat your chocolate bars and watch TV RIGHT NOW…” #hindsight

4:09 p.m.

Exploring the beach house…

George: (Runs in the door, breathless) Mom! Dad! Good news!

Me: What?!

George: (Brandishes a small orange object that looks a little bit like a guitar pick)

Me: What is that?

George: I don’t know!

SCORE!

7:24 p.m.

OMG I’m IN a picture. My mother in law just took this in front of the beach house. Oliver was a doll and blocked my bingo wing for me.

IMG_9057

 

July 21

7:36 p.m.

IMG_9157

 

July 22

Yesterday I bought Oliver a hermit crab to help with his homesickness (he misses our dog, Alice and I thought he needed a little buddy to nurture). So NOW we have three hermit crabs (of course). Oliver named his “Mr. Krabs” (does this mean we watch too much Sponge Bob?), George named his “Cameron” (apparently he has two friends named Cameron, but I keep thinking of Cam in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off singing, “let my Cameron go”) and Eleanor named hers “Flower.” But I guess it didn’t take since she just ran in, and breathlessly announced, “Mommy! I changed Flower’s name!” I asked what the new name was – expecting something like a TV character or one of her friends’ names. Instead she beamed, “Sunshine!” #girls

 

July 25

8:12 p.m.

Me: Chris! Take a picture of me with the kids!

Chris: Sure! Just let me get this sweaty guy in the shot.

Also – looks like George is ready for prom.

IMG_1525

 

July 27

6:06 p.m.

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July 29

9:22 a.m.

It’s impossible to sustain a grumpy mood while walking your neighbor’s puppy (dog sitting this week!)

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July 30

10:54 p.m.

Chris was just telling me a story that involves a man going to jail for narcotics actually cleaning out the family bank account, saying he needs the money for jail. Then when Chris made a crack about why a guy going to jail needs money, I immediately launched into an explanation of how he would put it in his account so he could buy things to trade – probably for drugs… That’s right. I’ve watched two seasons of Orange is the New Black. So I’m basically an expert on prison life.

 

July 31

10:17 a.m.

Dear Eleanor,

Seven year old girls are not allowed to suffer from ennui. Especially when they have been enjoying DAILY afternoon play dates with friends. You have an amazing imagination. Use it!

With love from your Summer Vacation Cruise Director,
Mom

11:56 a.m.

Eleanor: When I got a filling, the Novocain made my lip feel like it was as big as Mom’s nose.

Me: That’s pretty big.

Eleanor: (wide eyed) Uh huh.

Love that guileless honesty… Stay gold Pony Girl.

 

Next up…August/September. Two more posts until we’re all caught up!

They Coulda’ Been Great: April-May 2014

Part two in catching up on this…Our April and May on Facebook… (What is They Coulda’ Been Great? All answers are HERE.)

 

April 1

8:30 a.m.

A minute ago, I heard a loud banging noise from the living room and called out, “what’s going on in there!?” Oliver answered, “we’re just playing chair banging.” Whew! And I thought they might be doing something destructive…

 

April 2

6:44 p.m.

I told George he could NOT put those rocks on my nice furniture. But apparently, these are “Truth Rocks” and “very special.” Also – the fourth one from the right is “Dragon Truth.” The “collections” are never ending…

IMG_8060

 

April 6

8:27 p.m.

Lately, George has been asking me to sing him a song when I tuck them in. But tonight, he said he didn’t want to hear one of their old favorites like Chicken Soup with Rice or Under a Shady Tree. Instead, this evening’s lullaby request was Roar by Katy Perry.

Nailed it.

 

April 7

10:11 a.m.

We had our full cast read through for Listen to Your Mother DC on Saturday night and I have to say, if you haven’t purchased your ticket yet – buy it NOW! Such an amazing group of story tellers…Can’t wait!

 

April 8

12:18 p.m.

A few years ago, my friend Nancy ruined my life. She was complaining about the flab on her upper arms – and my misinterpretation of “flab” meaning “fat” inspired her to explain (in great detail) how even people with thin arms develop loose skin in that area as they age. And now I can’t un-know that. I also can’t wave hello without cringing. THEN yesterday, Nancy informed me that this affliction has a name: Bingo Wings. BINGO WINGS. It’s like one indignity after another…

7:51 p.m.

Just finished this beautiful memoir by a friend. What a gift – to be able to immerse yourself in the history of someone you love. Everyone should write a memoir – like right now! I can’t wait to read yours…

IMG_8082

 

April 9

10:16 p.m.

Results say  I’m “Pretty Darn White.” Fair enough. Now I’m going to take this quiz for Chris. Incidentally, he thinks he’s a Samantha, but he’s SUCH a Miranda…

white

 

April 10

5:04 p.m.

Fact: there is no such thing as “simple” origami. Proof: the brain bleed I just developed…

brain bleed5:46 p.m.

I’ve never done a #TBT before… But I’ve been thinking about this little guy from my past a lot today. Possibly because he woke up at !TWO AM! last night and never went back to sleep.

exhaustion7:38 p.m.

Oh wait! I just saw that it’s “Sibling Day” and everyone is posting sweet pictures of their brothers and sisters. So obviously…

Matthew

 

April 13

11:58 a.m.

New bike! Just a leeetle too big. Also Daddy bought her one with ONLY hand brakes. So that’s been interesting…

E new bike

 

April 16

6:18 p.m.

Chris: Oliver – don’t be doing that when company comes over.

Me: Does he have underwear on his head again?

Just your average Wednesday night…

 

April 17

2:36 p.m.

What is that small blue fossil at the Natural History Museum? Dinosaur paci. Obviously.

IMG_81233:06 p.m.

While they are really enjoying the soon to be under construction dinosaur exhibit – the items they got most excited about in the displays were a blue pacifier, a scattering of Cheetos and a toddler sock. #TheWonderYears

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April 19

9:51 a.m.

I just have to make one little rainbow and then I’ll be right there.”

In OR out of context, I love my little girl…

 

April 22

6:47 p.m.

George: Mom! Guess what I did for the environment today?

Me: What?

George: I threw my trash in the trash can at school!

Wow – George is quite the activist this Earth Day. Now if only I could get him to extend this enthusiasm to our trash can at home….

7:16 p.m.

In honor of Earth Day, Alice got into someone’s leftover Easter candy and puked on my newly made bed so I could do a couple of extra loads of laundry this week. Yay pets!

And no – I have NO idea where she got it since I have been vigilant about keeping baskets “up high” and behind closed doors. I can only suspect that she’s just pretending to be a dumb dog without opposable thumbs. Time to install the nanny cams….

 

April 25

7:04 p.m.

Diane Cooper Gould just demoted me from sister-wife to sister-cousin. That’s cold.

— with Cathy McCarthy Trocchia.

 

April 27

9:32 a.m.

I just always call him Dude, since I can’t remember his name.”

Chris, upon hearing a neighbor’s name. Only my husband (at age 41) walks around the neighborhood calling people “Dude.”

1:24 p.m.

If a successful birthday involves drinking mimosas and inhaling half a tray of baked French toast, then WINNING.

 

April 28

2:41 p.m.

There’s no winner in going to the car. There’s just getting in the car.”

I’m such a buzz kill.

5:57 p.m

Me: [to Chris] You snooze you lose.

George: Yeah Dad – you snooze too much, so that’s what you get.

So I guess they’ve noticed his multiple weekend naps…

7:00 p.m.

I’ve been so busy today, I haven’t had a chance to thank everyone for the birthday wishes. I felt beyond fêted. It was a lovely, relaxing day and Chris invited some neighbors over for a surprise birthday brunch. He told me about it the day before since I don’t like surprises and I woke up and tidied the house since he doesn’t clean. It was all very seamless and you have every right to CRY over the AMAZING french toast bake you missed. But I have to give the biggest shout out to our neighbor Mary Catherine Trocchia (next to Eleanor) who gave me the best laugh I’ve had since her father got her that haircut. Yes – that’s a bathing suit – she’s awesome. Everyone needs a Mary Catherine next door.

MC7:05 p.m.

I didn’t mean to be so beautiful – it’s just the way I turned out to be.”

GODPLEASE let Eleanor always be so matter of fact about her loveliness (inside and out). Also – Don’t hate her because she’s beautiful. Pantene was on sale.

 

April 29

6:19 p.m.

Make sure to touch everything! And don’t forget to put your fingers in your mouth!

What I may as well say to my children whenever we go anywhere.

 

April 30

9:04 a.m.

This morning’s angst has been brought to you by the good people at I Have Nothing to Wear – making women crazy since the invention of textiles.

 

May 2

9:59 p.m.

Diane Cooper Gould gave me this good luck card for the Listen to Your Mother DC show on Sunday. Reminds her of us? Of course she is the one with the rhinestone glasses and kicky beret.

IMG_8214

 

May 3

8:58 a.m.

Me: Eleanor? What are you doing?

Eleanor: Posing.

Of course. Happy Saturday!

 

May 4

6:54 a.m.

Today is THE DAY! What? No – not the day my Listen to Your Mother DC reign of terror ends. Well – that too – but more importantly TODAY is THE BIG SHOW. Can’t wait to see all of my local friends there. If you haven’t bought your ticket yet – we still have some seats available so you can get them onsite.

9:48 a.m.

So it probably wasn’t a good idea to open that bag of chocolate I bought for the Listen to Your Mother DC dressing room… Of course the kids at half of it! And by “the kids” I mean me. Epilogue – I just bought another bag at the store. Officially signing off of social media now. Time to figure out where I can get change for $20 bills on a Sunday… #‎poorplanning‬

 

May 5

6:04 p.m.

OMG – Sponge Bob is on and Mrs. Puff slammed a door in his face when he said he’d be in her drivers ed class for another year, and then he called out, “Okay – See you next Tuesday!” That was intentional, right? Also – I know I’ve seen that one several times before and never noticed that he actually said “SEE YOU NEXT TUESDAY!”

 

May 7

9:27 p.m.

Coming home to find your front doorknob coated in toothpaste is totally normal. At my house.

 

May 8

9:29 a.m.

Got a lot of compliments at the bus stop this morning on my new t-shirt (a gift from 2014 Listen to Your Mother DC cast member, Jessica Rapisarda). Then Eleanor asked, “haven’t you been wearing that shirt since yesterday?” And the answer is “OF COURSE – because I’m the…”

IMG_82217:40 p.m.

#‎TBT‬ George wanted me to post a picture of my newborn twins. When I said, “how about this one,” he said, “yeah – you look really young there.” Just goes to show what seven years with George will do to someone…

babies

 

May 11

If there was ever a cure for the baby fever… That was just a few days before my water broke at the hair salon and the twins arrived (luckily NOT at the hair salon). Happy Mother’s Day! I’m done.

preggers

 

May 12

10:27 a.m.

That Monday when three leftover cupcakes are sitting on your kitchen counter? Is the Monday you decide that “the diet starts Tuesday.”

 

May 13

3:56 p.m.

God save me from my facial expressions… As long as I’m not talking or gesturing, I am VERY good about smiling blandly when cameras are present (no chance of looking deranged in candids). But if I have to open my mouth for any reason – the crazy eyebrows and rictus grins are OUTOFCONTROL. And I don’t even consider myself to be an animated person…

14167977352_b03a388df2_o

 

May 14

10:04 a.m.

I just finished this incredible book and have thought of little else since I turned the last page. I read it because my friend wrote it. But even if I had never met Anna, I like to think that I’d still find my way to this story of grief and hope and faith and love and just flat out survival. While I’m not particularly religious, I find stories of faith and grace incredibly inspiring. We all need both in our daily lives and interactions with each other. Without them, we’d fall apart. Spoiler alert! This author did NOT fall apart – but she came pretty damn close. There really is something in this book for everyone… Whether they are grieving, trying to support others who have experienced loss, having a crisis of faith, love great writing and personal stories… This is a beautifully crafted memoir that is so raw and honest. It doesn’t preach or pontificate. It just tells one mother’s story – but you will absolutely carry that story with you as a touchstone for your own questions and moments of doubt. Also – in case it isn’t clear….I HIGHLY recommend this book! Pre-order now for the September 9 release!

Rare Bird Cover7:51 p.m.

My husband, Chris Hood (conscientious Facebook Objector, so no tagging) has been making fun of me for YEARS about how my family “always talks about musicals” (which is ridiculous – we may make references but we certainly don’t have full blown discussions about them). WELL. Just now, the self-proclaimed musicals hater made a little musicals-related joke. We were talking about the rainy weather and then about his RULLYBAD day and he said, “it’s okay. The sun will come out tomorrow…” AND NOW I will throw THAT in his face when he berates me for singing something like, “he’s in sixth grade, going on seventh grade…” [Which actually happened at a Coveny family dinner when we were first dating. QUITE proud of that one, thank you…]

 

May 15

7:39 p.m.

George: Hey mom – you know there is a YouTube video about how to tie a tie and it’s not inappropriate.

Me: Tie a tie?

George: Yeah – there are two ways to tie a tie.

Me: You mean like a bow tie?

George: No – there are TWO different ways to tie a tie.

Me: You mean like the ties Daddy wears to work?

George: …okay – so there are THREE different ways to tie a tie.

As usual – I have no idea what he’s talking about. But it’s endlessly entertaining.

 

May 18

9:29 a.m.

A conversation only two people who grew up in the ’80s could have…

Chris: Guess what I got sucked into last night?

Me: What?

Chris: Poltergeist.

Me: WHY would you watch that at night? How bad were your dreams?

Chris: I don’t know…I saw it and thought, “I haven’t seen this in years!” Then halfway through I realized it probably wasn’t a good idea, but couldn’t stop.

Me: The clown doll?!

Chris: [holds up hand in a “don’t even go there” gesture]

We’re all scarred for life.

 

May 20

8:14 p.m.

Still laughing about this. While “great” may technically be the most overused adjective…I think “awesome” is hot on its heels. At least in the context of social media. Either way, I’ve decided to drop both and overuse “solid” (when in person – with a fist bump for effect).

list

SOLID

 

May 24

1:26 p.m.

OMG it’s already 1 p.m.?? I’m going to be late for my acting class. Did you know that I’m in an acting class? It’s called “Acting A (K-2)” and held every Monday after early dismissal at the kids’ elementary school. I thought it would be a GREAT idea since I could sign all three of them up for the same group (the twins are in 1st and Oliver is in 2nd grade) and I would have an extra hour to myself on Mondays.

Eleanor LOVED it. George told me he wished I put him in “Wiz Kids” and Oliver decided to be a conscientious objector. I could have pulled Oliver out – but then George would want out too. And quite honestly, I don’t want them to think that (respectively) whining or spending the class time sitting in the corner dismantling new sneakers will make me give them their way. So Oliver has a new “shadow” in acting class: ME! I’m having flash backs of the ill fated “blast ball” experiment….

Luckily – there are only two classes left. Today (which is TWO HOURS to make up for missed classes on snow days) and the Monday after Memorial Day. I’m dreading the two hours…but it is kind of entertaining. The girls are all really into it – but the boys are a mess. George isn’t even the worst one! (which is very refreshing) At any given moment, “C” is rolling around on the floor while “S” and “J” (a brothers team!) practice their armpit/back of knee farts. Last week we didn’t even have time to talk about costumes since the class was so out of control. We got a MAJOR dressing down for that one…

But I think my favorite day was when I arrived to have Oliver inform me that his pants were ripped. I inspected his mesh shorts and could find no evidence of tears or holes. After sending him back to his place though, I noticed that he kept pulling his cotton boxer-briefs over his knees (???) and dragged him out to the hallway to figure out WTF was going on. I thought maybe the hole was in his underwear (ripped so that it was drooping down?). But when I pulled back the elastic of his shorts and saw his bare behind – it became clear that when he last used the bathroom, he pulled up his shorts but not his underwear. THAT is a new one for me. Then when we were finally settled back in class, George announced that he had to go to the bathroom. I told him to wait until the teachers were done giving us instructions. But he informed me in his best stage voice that it COULD NOT wait because he was in pain: “I have to go poop! And it’s pointy.”

If it were possible, I think Eleanor would pretend not to know them. Oh – and of course I was busy this weekend and didn’t make the boys practice their lines for today’s rehearsal. So this should be fun…

7:15 p.m.

George: Mom – I don’t like these [gourmet] jelly beans.

Me: Too fancy?

George: No.

Me: What don’t you like about them?

George: The taste.

Kind of a deal breaker.

 

May 25

1:00 p.m.

SUMMER

 

May 27

8:40 p.m.

In case it wasn’t clear what Listen to Your Mother “is about” – that would be “parents that have kids.” According to my seven year old, Eleanor in her first grade journal.

LTYM journal

 

May 28

7:22 p.m.

Thinking I might take my kids to a Renaissance Festival in VA and saw this on the website… “For all costumed patrons: You may carry costume weapons with you. However, all weapons must be peace-tied, preferably with zip ties.” Totally investing in a mock crossbow. Or if that’s too cumbersome perhaps a mace…

 

May 29

5:51 p.m.

#TBT Just me and my GIANT baby Oliver (seriously – he was only 6 weeks old). We went to San Francisco and 90% of my pictures were taken in the hotel room (also – check out my old cell phone! A lot has changed in nine years…).

San Fran Oliver

9:09 p.m.

One more #TBT: The most annoying picture in the history of pictures! Why annoying? Because I did this EVERY night with the twins for years, yet there is no visual documentation. Chris does it once and OF COURSE there is a photo. But it’s my own fault. In every relationship there is “the one who takes pictures.” That would be me. Too bad I didn’t embrace selfies back then…

Chris Twins

 

May 30

8:37 p.m.

Me: Oliver, I love you.

Oliver: Thanks.

Me: You’re welcome.

#termsofendearment

 

May 31

6:21 p.m.

Never question my knowledge of Kool and the Gang lyrics.”

Something I actually said to my kids today. Without irony.

 

Coming up next…June & July 2014!

They Coulda’ Been Great: February-March 2014

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

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

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

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

February 1

10:07 a.m.

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

IMG_7822

 

February 2

1:32 p.m.

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

 

February 5

8:44 a.m.

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

5:09 p.m.

Doing homework with Oliver…

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

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

Yeah – that too.

 

February 8

9:30 p.m.

Earlier this evening, Eleanor was looking through Netflix options…

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

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

 

February 9

11:22 a.m.

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

5:52 p.m.

Watching ice skating in the Olympics…

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

George: Yeah.

Of course he can.

7:55 p.m.

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

 

February 10

2:56 p.m.

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

 

February 11

11:27 a.m.

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

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

 

February 12

3:16 p.m.

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

6:31 p.m.

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

7:55 p.m.

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

 

February 13

3:37 p.m.

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

 

February 14

7:38 p.m.

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

 

February 16

6:02 p.m.

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

 

February 17

7:45 a.m.

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

12:57 p.m.

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

 

February 18

8:20 a.m.

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

 

February 19

11:22 p.m.

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

skates

 

February 20

11:55 a.m.

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

IMG_785110:49 p.m.

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

 

February 22

2:50 p.m.

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

 

February 23

7:50 p.m.

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

George: I want to come too.

Eleanor: No.

George: I can help carry the boxes.

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

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

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

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

 

February 24

3:45 p.m.

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

7:39 p.m.

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

10:55 p.m.

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

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

 

 

February 28

8:52 p.m.

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

 

March 1

5:19 p.m.

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

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

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

 

March 2

6:49 p.m.

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

9:00 p.m.

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

9:08 p.m.

Chris: Harrison Ford has never won an Oscar??

Me: They said “nominated.”

Chris: But he’s HAN SOLO!

If regular guys were in charge…

 

March 3

8:31 p.m.

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

IMG_7888

 

March 4

7:45 p.m.

No more running around with dog bones!

Directives that make sense to the people in my house.

7:58 p.m.

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

10:08 p.m.

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

 

March 5

9:32 a.m.

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

3:17 p.m.

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

5:36 p.m.

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

6:44 p.m.

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

I love my little heathens.

7:35 p.m.

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

IMG_7892

 

March 6

8:40 a.m.

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

IMG_7902

 

March 8

3:54 p.m.

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

 

March 10

6:19 p.m.

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

 

March 12

2:34 p.m.

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

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

Hard to complain when I do myself no favors…

7:25 p.m.

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

IMG_7908

 

March 13

10:30 p.m.

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

 

March 15

3:34 p.m.

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

 

March 16

3:28 p.m.

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

IMG_7927

 

March 19

11:48 a.m.

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

yuck3:56 p.m.

In the car…

George: Mom do the front wheels steer?

Me: Of the car? Why?

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

Me: Why are we shooting at cars?

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

Me: You’re not?

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

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

George: You mean when I’m a teenager?

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

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

Me: Who told you that? Ben?

George: Ben’s dad.

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

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

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

George: Except for when we had the villain.

Me: The VILLAIN?

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

Me: What?

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

Me: Well, that IS convenient…

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

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

#boys

7:51 p.m.

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

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

 

March 20

5:43 p.m.

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

ants7:35 p.m.

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

This says so many things about my son….

 

March 22

9:04 a.m.

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

 

March 25

6:30 p.m.

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

IMG_8037

 

March 26

1:59 p.m.

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

2:49 p.m.

Abomination.

abomination7:30 p.m.

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

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

 

March 28

7:37 a.m.

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

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March 31

9:23 p.m.

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

DSC_0444BCheck back in a few days for April/May!

LTYM 2014 Videos Are Now Online!

The 2014 LTYM videos are finally here! This year’s DC show was fantastic and we couldn’t be more excited to share it with everyone who couldn’t be in the audience on May 4.

I would LOVE for you to watch our show (and the other LTYM shows held across the country) – which can be found on the LTYM YouTube Channel. But in the meantime, here is my reading, “The Care and Keeping of Magic.”


Already starting to think about 2015…hope to see you there!

The Care and Keeping of Magic

While my blog has been broken forever (or at least since February) some headway seems to have been made on fixing the font issues. Still can’t see images (hence no “They Coulda’ Been Great” monthly posts – expect a monster one as soon as everything is back to normal) – but that’s not required for this post!

As all of my Facebook friends know (to the point of muting me, I’m sure), the 2014 Listen to Your Mother DC took place on Sunday. It was our THIRD show and I couldn’t be more proud of our amazing cast. As usual, Stephanie and I joined them on stage (you’ll have to pry that microphone from my cold dead hands…) and I thought I’d share the essay I read this year.

While I did write it specifically for the show, it ended up being the closing piece, so I had to re-write a bit (to give it more of a “show ending” end). But this is the original essay – you’ll have to wait for the videos (sometime this summer!) to see what I changed.

THE CARE AND KEEPING OF MAGIC

One evening last December, my seven year old daughter, Eleanor lost a tooth. And as she triumphantly brandished the small white prize for my inspection, I had to feign enthusiasm.

It’s not that I begrudge my children these Tooth Fairy years. I LOVE that they are still so pure of heart and willing to believe in magic… But I’m just so disorganized. And sometimes I forget to perform my Tooth Fairy duties.

That evening last December was one of those nights. We were trying to get the house ready for the holidays. I had mountains of laundry to fold and a closet full of presents to wrap… I had teacher gifts to assemble… I had to MOVE THE ELF.

I had a lot on my “to do” list that night. And I got a lot of it done. But I forgot to be the Tooth Fairy.

Just before dawn, a very disappointed Eleanor came into my room. I told her she got up too early and tucked her back into my bed. Then I made up an excuse to run downstairs and find SOMETHING to put under her pillow. No time to search for shiny quarters… I would have to use whatever was in my wallet. Which ended up being a five dollar bill.

FIVE DOLLARS for ONE TOOTH.

Later, her brothers joined us for the big reveal. And three sets of eyes widened at the large sum. Before the boys could start decrying the unfairness of it all, I mentioned that it was mid-December… “maybe it’s like a Christmas bonus.” Then I cringed, as I saw the look on George’s face. He was undoubtedly plotting how to best rip out one of his own teeth before Santa arrived.

Being the Tooth Fairy exhausts me.

The next month at the dentist, we were told that Eleanor needed to have two teeth pulled. It was an awful, bloody business. She was brave but couldn’t hold back the tears that streamed down her face. Neither tooth was even close to being loose, and no matter how much Novocain they pumped into her, she could feel each excruciatingly slow extraction. Everyone assured her that the Tooth Fairy would be very good to her that night.

Call the Tooth Fairy Mommy…tell her she’d better hit the ATM…

When it was over, I carried my sobbing child to the car and promised ice cream, a small toy from Target, a day of television!…shhhhhhh…it’s all over now.

The rest of our busy day flew by, and as the evening light dimmed, Eleanor asked me, “will you – I mean, will SHE really bring something special tonight?” Two things occurred to me in this moment. The first was that she said “you” before correcting herself.

So. This is where it begins.  She knows – but she doesn’t want to know. She’s at that precarious moment of childhood where she has to actively CHOOSE to believe in the impossible. I remember when a friend told me the truth about Santa, but suggested that I could still believe if I wanted to. I said I thought I’d believe just a little bit longer.

Eleanor wants to believe just a little bit longer.

The second thing I thought was SHIT! I totally forgot to go to the ATM.

I grabbed my purse, but all could find was yet another five dollar bill. The same amount she received for just ONE tooth that didn’t cause her one second of pain or terror.

Moments later my husband, Chris arrived home from work, and I demanded, “how much money do you have in your wallet!?” He was only able to produce two crumpled singles.

I explained our predicament, but Chris was a bit more practical. “Look, seven dollars is a lot of money for a little girl. Don’t obsess over this.”

So I tried not to. But once the kids were asleep, I started obsessing. I rifled through junk drawers and change jars, trying to find more money. Again, Chris tried to reassure me. “Stop freaking out. Seven dollars is FINE.”

I assured him that he didn’t understand. “This morning was AWFUL. It was painful and scary. I had to help hold her down! She was promised something really special from the Tooth Fairy tonight and she is THISCLOSE to not believing anymore.”

He just sighed, “well…she’s going to have to figure it out at some point…”

As the grim truth of this statement washed over me, I thought, “but…TODAY? After that horrendous morning of blood and tears…after all of the promises I made just to get her through it…after she actually let slip that she IS starting to figure things out, but wants to believe in magic just a little bit longer? Today?? No. NOT TODAY.

Continuing my search, I found more wadded up bills and handfuls of tarnished coins. I placed them in an old marbleized paper box – now it was a treasure box. Then I dug through my jewelry and found a tiny amethyst charm – one that looked like it came from Fairyland. Finally, I wrapped everything in an emerald silk jewelry pouch that my Aunt sent me from one of her trips to Europe.

I tried to make something special out of old, dirty money and forgotten mementoes.

I did this because I am her mother, and I KNEW she needed it. I did it because she is so special and deserves to believe in magic as long as she wants to. I did it because it’s MY JOB.

I am the keeper of magic in my house.

I am a fairy with a tooth fetish and a willingness to trade in cold, hard cash. I am a fat, old man in a red suit who delivers toys you can buy at Target to homes all over the world in one night. I am a mythical bunny who fills baskets with candy and hides colorful hard boiled eggs that nobody ends up eating.

I will give my children as much time as they need to chase rainbows and pretend that shiny quarters come from pots of gold. Because they only get that kind of magic for a few short years.

Someday they will have to dig deep and believe in themselves against all odds. If they don’t believe in magic now? How will they do it then?

Right now they are little and anything seems possible. Someday they will have to grow up. Someday they won’t be so full of wonder. Someday they’ll have to make their own magic without my intervention.

Someday.

But not today.

****

No idea what this Listen to Your Mother DC stuff is all about? Check out the videos!

Listen to Your Mother DC 2012

Listen to Your Mother DC 2013

Listen to Your Mother DC 2014

Coming soon…

 

They Coulda’ Been Great – January 2014

Our January bits and bobs via Facebook… (What is this? All answers are HERE.)


January 1

2:55 p.m.

A few days ago I expressed surprise at how violated my husband felt by my decision to purchase cheap toilet paper.

Well. I am currently sitting at an auto repair shop where the very unremarkable bathroom off the lobby offers super deluxe toilet paper, so soft that it that may possibly be made with woven unicorn hair. Not a woman in sight, my friends.

So it seems my first significant observation in 2014 is about toilet paper. [Champagne cork pops!]


January 2

2:00 p.m.

Sitting in a therapy waiting room. A little boy just walked out with his OT and announced to his father, “I did amazing.” This is the kind of thing that makes me LOVE kids. Next time I complete a task, I’m telling the first person I see, “I did amazing.” Okay – maybe I’ll just do that in my head…but they will be able to SEE IN MY EYES just how amazing I did.


January 3

2:29 p.m.

Seeing children with icicles poised at lips…

Did you pull those off the car? Never put anything you pull off the car IN YOUR MOUTH.”

Does motherhood automatically make you wise? Because I’m like a freaking sage around here…

9:00 p.m.

Eleanor is reading me her new Frozen book…

Eleanor: “In a grassy valley next to a deep f…” What is that word?

Me: Fjord

Eleanor: What’s a fjord?

Me: [Bluffs knowing the answer to this question without having to look it up.]

Eleanor: That’s hard to pronounce. I’ll just say “the F word” when I see it.

Me: [Tries to decide whether I should explain what “the F word” means or just assume that she won’t encounter the word “fjord” again in the next five years…]

10:20 p.m.

Continuation of last post…

Me: Tells Chris the funny story about Eleanor reading Frozen and asking what “fjord” means, and me not really knowing the definition, and her deciding to just call it “the F word” when she sees it.

Chris: [thinking…] “Fjord”…a sea-valley created by ice…

Me: [thinking: “Chris”…a giant know-it-all who would rather define “fjord” than laugh at my funny story… That’s hard to pronounce. I’ll just say “the A-word” when I see him.]

Seriously though – I’m super excited to know that it won’t be ME sitting up all night, helping them write their eighth grade geography reports.


January 4

8:29 p.m.

Right after taking a shower, I noticed that my forehead looked really smooth. I mean, the usual “fine lines” were still there…but just barely. As I stared in the mirror admiring myself, I wondered what I’ve been doing differently. I HAVE been better about applying the anti-aging cream every night and staying hydrated… Maybe consistency is the answer! Then I felt the towel on my head tugging at my hairline. And as soon as I removed it the lines were deeper. So apparently the ANSWER is just a good old fashioned facelift. OR? Really heavy turbans….

Liz Turban
January 6

8:27 a.m.

I thought having an appliance repair man come to fix our refrigerator was going to be today’s inconvenience. I was mistaken.

I can’t even believe that I’m saying this but there is a bat trapped in our storm window. AGAIN!

UPDATE #1 10:05 a.m.

Left a message for the bat lady!

UPDATE #2 11:59 a.m.

A volunteer is going to try to come to save the bat today…the bat lady reminded me that I should probably do something about that storm window…the bat is huddled in a ball in the corner of the window so [my bat-squeamish friends] do not have to fear pictures on my timeline…the bat lady confirmed that he is probably comfortable next to my warm window so my bat-loving friends don’t need to worry about him…AND yes – it’s most likely the same bat.

UPDATE #3 6:54 p.m.

The bat lady (another bat lady) came to rescue our bat. He’s out! Amazing how UNdramatic today’s experience was in comparison to last year. Even took a couple of videos for posterity. The storm window is now firmly shut!

7:19 p.m.

Eleanor: [making lots of excited squawking noises about winning something in a “very hard” game she was playing on the computer]

Me: Wait – what?

Eleanor: [elaborate explanation about the game that I didn’t actually hear because even though I asked, I wasn’t listening]

Chris: What is this game?

Eleanor: It’s on americangirl.com.

Chris: You were playing an American Girl Doll video game?!

Me: What is it?

Eleanor: You know Temple Run?

Me: Isn’t that a game for grownups??

Eleanor: No [Chris nods his head, yes.]

Me: Is that like Tomb Raider?

Eleanor: What? [Chris nods his head, yes.]

Introducing the 2014 “Girl of the Year”: Laura Croft!

8:07 p.m.

Okay! This is for those of you who love bats. Everyone else – avert your eyes…. [PLEASE don’t judge the filthy – and very old – windows…the inside of my house is not filthy or old.]

10:07 p.m.

Help – Wisconsin friends! Chris wanted a deep fryer for Christmas, so my first thought was FRIED CHEESE CURDS. I have always wanted to try this (I think ever since I saw a video Ann Imig and Amy Windsor made years ago called “The Wurst Mothers” – and I am NOT kidding). We now have a fryer! I found an actual bag of cheese curds from Wisconsin! We followed the recipe – put it in the fryer – and…big mess. WHO has a really good fried cheese curds recipe? I’m feeling very cheated and frowny face about this… [Epilogue: NO ONE I know in the Midwest has ever made fried cheese curds before. But all claim to really enjoy eating them at the Wisconsin State Fair. NOT helpful.]

10:18 p.m.

Chris is explaining the Rose Bowl to me and I think I now understand how he feels when I talk about musicals.


January 7

10:34 a.m.

Here’s the problem with kids: they don’t know how to lie to the dentist about flossing.


January 9

6:28 p.m.

You know you are a bad mom when most of your ideas about dinner for the kids involve peanut butter on a rice cake.

7:46 p.m.

Exactly what publishing company decided that I have a free subscription to Women’s Health?? As I type, Chris is reading up on how I can have “the best butt ever” and…OH NOW we’re perusing “The Hot-Sex Bucket List.” Like I need this in my life.


January 12

1:29 p.m.

“I am a grownup and I can sing of I want to!”

When will my children learn that I am immune to their wailing protests? And they’re gonna hear me Roar.

7:20 p.m.

“It’s dinner time not doughnut time!”

It’s hard to be a parent. You have to say so many things that you barely believe yourself.


January 15

7:18 p.m.

I just Marge Simpson growled at my children. I believe I have “arrived.”

7:51 p.m.

Helping George fill out his reading log for the week…

Me: You can also include Cowboy and Octopus. We read that all the time.

George: Did we read it this week?

Me: Sure – why not.

Never too early to start on resume writing skills…

8:13 p.m.

Oliver: Mom… I don’t want you to die…because I don’t want to grew up.

Me: I’m not going to die.

Oliver: And I’m not going to grew up.

Me: So that’s decided then.

Oliver: And you’ll never go on the boat…

Damn you Frozen!


January 17

11:38 p.m.

If it wasn’t for that Oscar Meyer song, I would never remember how to spell “bologna.” And yes, I do pause and sing B-O-L-O-G-N-A in my head before typing it. Every time.


January 18

6:10 p.m.

Recently read a tweet from @tomandlorenzo that said “Let It Go” from Frozen is a total drag queen song – which makes me like it EVEN MORE.


January 21

8:58 a.m.

Waiting for Godot – I MEAN the snow…


January 22

1:28 p.m.

Oh just make yourself at home Alice – it’s not like I’m picky about the pillow arrangement on my NEWLY MADE BED or anything…

Alice
January 22

5:48 p.m.

You know this one is sick when he falls asleep mid-popcorn…

Oliver sick
January 23

12:47 p.m.

MEMO

TO: Alice (my dog)
FROM: THE MANAGEMENT (me)

Effective immediately: Capering while on leash is no longer permitted. It is annoying and sometimes dangerous. While this family places great value on happiness and encourages both human AND canine expressions of such, every member MUST adhere to certain rules. This includes a zero tolerance policy regarding boisterous physical activity while tethered to another. Neglecting to comply will result in a behavioral assessment and possible termination. From the family, not life itself – we’re not monsters. We’re also not kidding. Thank you.

1012026_10202218872448072_779215483_n3:38 p.m.

The great thing about a big pile of unfolded clean laundry on your living room couch is that you don’t have to run upstairs to get clothes for your kids. You can easily find whatever you need by just shuffling through the pile! Except for the fact that this is never true…


January 24

10:43 a.m.

Having a radio-only option in your car means that you may find yourself in the school kiss-and-ride line with 4 kids aged 5-8 listening to Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On.


January 25

12:44 p.m.

Let’s Hear It For the Boy just came on the radio and Oliver is already telling me to stop singing. Like he thinks I have any control over that!


January 26

9:08 p.m.

I wish I started every day the way Cora Crawley does on Downton Abbey. With the same china service and dressing gown.

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January 28

8:21 p.m.

Reading a book in which most of the characters are prudes or snobs (or both) and feeling mildly uncomfortable by how strongly I identify with them…


January 31

12:11 p.m.

Eleanor: Mom! I can’t find my beads. Did you move them?

Me: I think I moved them into the living room – check next to the piano.

Eleanor: [after leaving for minute to go look] They’re not THERE!

Me: They weren’t next to the piano?

Eleanor: NOOO! Can you help me?

Me: Sigh. Why am I the only one who can ever find anything around here?

Eleanor: Because you’re the only one who actually looks.

Right before my head exploded, I appreciated this acknowledgment.

10:07 p.m.

Channel surfing score! Caught the last 20 minutes of Hot Tub Time Machine. Only regret is missing Craig Robinson singing Let’s Get it Started.

*****

So it seems my LAST significant observation in JANUARY 2014 is that I LOVE the movie, Hot Tub Time Machine. No secrets here my friends…loud and proud…

Boughs of Folly

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The holidays are all about extremes. Peace on earth! Goodwill to men! Black Friday mobs! Road Rage over hour-long back ups!

But that’s life, right? Every high is balanced by a low. And over the holidays, I combine the two like that last cocktail you didn’t really need…shaken or stirred…mixed or mingled…blended or beaten within an inch of its life… While I love this season-long celebration, I’ve never been very good at knowing when to leave the party.

When we were first together, Chris and I would host an annual holiday party AND attend many others as guests – often several in one night! Now, we are lucky if we can take turns dropping by a “grownup” party held within our own neighborhood. Holiday parties are fun and festive (HIGH!)…but beware the corresponding low… At one such event last year, holiday cheer (and far too many Moscow Mules) moved me to sing along with my favorite tunes on the host’s playlist. Really – you haven’t lived until you’ve heard me sing Little Feat at the top of my lungs. If you’ll be my Dixie Chicken, I will BE your Tennessee Lamb.

You know you have arrived as an adult when your day-after memories of a super fun-night out are less “SUPER FUN!” and more “I did WHAT?

Then, of course there are the annual photos in front of the Christmas tree. Each year I line up my children, marvel at how beautiful they are – how much they’ve grown – and then start barking at them like a Hollywood director about to lose the evening light. “Look happy!” “Move closer!” “Stop making that face!” “You’re DOING it wrong!” …All things that have come out of my mouth while arranging a joyous holiday tableau.

Both of this year’s attempts – first in front of the kids’ tree the day after Thanksgiving, and then in front of my tree on Christmas eve – ended in either tears or injury. Actually, the latter ended in both.

There was a lot of this going on…

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…and everyone was having a great time…

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…then I finally got this shot…

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…which was okay… But I thought I could do better. Sadly, three seconds later, Oliver decided to squeeze the twins to his chest and accidentally gave them an impressive head knock. Poor kid – he really doesn’t understand how strong he is and was more surprised and upset than they were. Though it was hard to tell with all of the wailing and “Oliver did that ON PURPOSE!” accusations. It’s clear that we have officially entered “The Lenny Years” and will have to keep a more serious eye on the roughhousing.

But don’t worry! Everyone was fine ten minutes later when I announced that they could all open a present. And I was only mildly thrown by the unexpected drama since I’m currently walking through life in a constant state of damage control.

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A more recent addition to our holiday traditions is Charlie, our Elf on the Shelf. The kids love that elf and charge out of bed the second they wake up to see WHERE he will be today!

As someone who regularly forgets to follow up on Tooth Fairy duties, I’m a bit less enthused about the elf. Sure, it’s very convenient to point out that “Charlie is watching,” when someone (George) is being particularly bad. But that in no way compensates for those mornings when I have to use my best roller derby moves to elbow past my kids on the stairs before they find the elf we forgot to move.

By December 15th we’re usually scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to identifying new perching spots. One night Chris actually suggested doing something creative with props and I thought my head would explode, “What are you thinking!? Then they’ll start expecting ANOTHER one of those scenes the next day…and the next. Don’t raise the bar! NEVER raise the bar!” It’s like a universal truth of parenthood – always consider how your actions will impact the future. Charlie sticks to high cabinets and chandeliers – end of story.

I breathed a sigh of relief on Christmas eve when it was time for our elf to fly back to the North Pole. Though Alice seemed a little reluctant to let him go.

Charlie and Alice

Sorry Charlie!

But anyone who has been reading this blog long enough knows where things really get ugly. I’m a horrible person when it comes to “my tree.”

I have written at length about my Christmas trees and the difficulty I’ve had in relinquishing sole custody of the decorating process. First, I imagined an unpleasant future of haphazard ornament placement, heavy on the preschool projects. The following year, I compromised and gave the kids their own tree. Then the pressure was on, and I had to be very strategic about keeping “my tree” to myself.

Last year, I had a love/hate relationship with our tree. As soon as it was set up, we could see that it was undeniably crooked. This is a risk that accompanies Chris’ tradition of taking one of our children to pick out a tree each year – I have NO control over the selection (just a long list of requirements and deal breakers).

And 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.

Eventually, I just put on the lights since that takes at least an hour (well, for ME it does). Then after getting the kids to bed, I decided there must be a way to make it appear straighter. Obviously, I assumed Chris would be 100% on board with this additional adjusting – so imagine my surprise when he announced that it was “good enough” and turned in for the night. I would have agreed if good enough meant leaning at a 45 degree angle…but I felt his perception of Christmas tree adequacy was a few notches lower than mine.

He may have been willing to concede symmetrical defeat, but I stayed up to fight the good fight. And I only spent a few minutes feeling annoyed with him. The truth is, he was holding me back anyway.

That tree almost fell on me at least three times. And it’s a miracle that my children didn’t find me trapped underneath it the next morning. But I couldn’t let that happen. I mean, SOMEONE had to move the elf to a new location.

After I got the tree looking marginally better than it did when Chris gave up, I decided that I had reached my own “good enough.” The secret to my success involved stuffing the tree stand with some plastic cups and emptied prescription bottles (which make surprisingly good wedges!) Feel free to pin that tip.

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Before tidying up, I went into the kitchen to wash my hands (both 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 don’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 removed and I was able to replace them with a couple of spares. TOTALLY worth another 30 minutes of time that could be spent sleeping.

In the end, we had a lovely, only slightly crooked tree.

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This year, it was George who picked out the tree, and he surprised us all by selecting a SMALL one. Well – not exactly small, but much smaller than the six to eight foot trees his siblings were bringing home. Apparently, he told the tree guy 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 get a smaller stand.

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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 stay up straight in the new stand. And beyond that, 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 could at least adjust it to look straight… So on went the lights!

This all happened after the kids were in bed and it was pretty late when I finished, but I decided to try to power through and do the ornaments too. That way the tree would be done before little, grasping hands had a chance to manhandle the boxes of holiday decor. I could even tell them that Charlie did it! How could they object to Santa’s snitch not letting them help? You better not pout indeed!

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It was a good idea, but a bit ambitious. I gave up around midnight and went to bed. So the following morning was flooded with enthusiastic offers of help and ornament retrieval assembly lines. I have never been so happy to see the school bus.

That Monday was “early dismissal day” so I only had a few hours alone. And right before my children were due home, I stepped back to 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. Wondering what I did wrong…was it possible that I overdid it on the ornaments?…or perhaps this was some kind of punishment for extreme Christmas tree hubris… Either way – 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.

Luckily, the damage was minimal and only a few of my heirloom ornaments were broken. And come on – even I knew there were FAR worse problems to have. I just practiced some deep breathing and tried to restrain my snarling when children came too close to my wounded baby.

Much later, when the kids were in bed, I came downstairs with the intention of getting Chris to help me figure out what happened and how we could fix it. But before I had a chance to ask, he informed me that, “the tree fell again.”

I must have blacked out at this point, as I have no memory of the next 20 minutes. BUT it all worked out in the end.

Just as I started collecting plastic cups and 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 (something I hadn’t even considered since the tree was already on the small side) and make it fit into our bigger stand.

Then there was sawing, lifting, near misses with pine needle blindings, multiple attempts at tree straightening and screw tightening…and  just a little bit of swearing.

Finally 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 more deep breathing and big picture priority checking to get myself to as serene a state of mind as I could 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! I had officially exceeded my limit for Christmas tree decorating mania.

Which of course, meant it was time for Christmas tree PHOTOGRAPHING mania!

PicMonkey Collage

I think I have more pictures of this tree than I do of my own children on Christmas… I’m not kidding. Wonder how many people unfriended/unfollowed me after the Christmas tree reign of terror I inflicted over social media…

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

WISHING YOU ALL THE BEST IN 2014!

They Coulda’ Been Great: October 2013

October highlights via Facebook… (What is this? All answers are HERE.)

October 1

5:52 p.m.

Aaaaaand third verse, same as the first (or second, since it’s Mr. Robinson again). George wrote ANOTHER apology letter tonight: “Der Mistr Ropsin, I em sore fr beying rood ad idrubing [and interrupting]. I em going to be god [good]. Frum, George” I can’t even…

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October 4

8:06 a.m.

Last night when I got back from the Scary Mommy event…

Me: You know how this is one of my favorite tops?

Chris: No. When did you get that?

Me: I’ve had it for years – wear it all the time. Anyway – tonight when I put it on, I realized that it might be getting outdated… Have you ever put on a favorite shirt and thought it looked different?

Chris: No.

Me: Well it’s disconcerting. Normally, I put this on and think, “oh, I LOVE this top.” But tonight it was more like, “wow – that’s A LOT of ruffles.” Ruffles were really popular for a while, but now that they’re not, the ruffles on this collar seem less “pretty detail” and more “Queen Elizabeth’s Court.” Like even though I still LIKE this top, it doesn’t look the same to me anymore. Like something is off. I feel a little sad about that.

Chris: …..

It’s nice to have a partner in life with whom I can process these things…

10:00 a.m.

Just  few of my gorgeous new bracelets from Simply Om. My favorite is the pink jade.

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4:36 p.m.

My mother just had to get off the phone with me because my father can’t find Great Grandma Ruth’s leather-bound journal. He remembers packing it, but doesn’t remember UNpacking it when they moved into the new house and it’s very important that Mom helps him look for it THIS VERY MINUTE. #RetiredPeople or more accurately #MyParents


October 5

12:31 p.m.

So sitting in front of a rec center, waiting for a police officer so I can give him the KNIFE I just found on our neighborhood trail is not quite how I envisioned spending my Saturday afternoon…

8:10 p.m.

Conversation in the car on the way home from a dinner date with first grader Eleanor…

Eleanor: Mom – you want to hear something crazy?

Me: Sure.

Eleanor: Blake has a crush on someone!

Me: Is it you?

Eleanor: No!

Me: Is it someone at your table?

Eleanor: No.

Me: Is it someone in your class?

Eleanor: No.

Me: Is it someone I know?!

Eleanor: No – it’s a third grader.

Me: Really? Ambitious.

Eleanor: Well…Blake has a lot of dates.

Fast crowd at Yellow Table this year…


October 6

6:33 p.m.

Me: (following Eleanor outside) There’s George…can you find Oliver for me?

Eleanor: (looking down the block) He’s over there.

Me: (can’t see that far with my bad eyesight) Where?

Eleanor: Playing with the other kids.

Me: You mean George?

Eleanor: No – Oliver is there too.

Five year old neighbor: He’s making “chalk smoke.”

Me: Oh – then that’s definitely him.


October 8

2:58 p.m.

I think that the toy companies once had a big meeting with the paper product companies where they all went in on a profit sharing deal, stipulating that the toy companies would package toys in anything BUT a six-sided box as often as possible without raising suspicion. End game: parents would start spending THOUSANDS of dollars on $2.50+ gift bags and the required tissue paper. In popular Disney character prints of course (because you KNOW that group was in on it). They could feel fairly confident in their success since NO ONE in their right mind wants to waste time trying to wrap something with approximately 36 different angles!


October 10

5:03 p.m.

I have noticed a direct correlation between my children being really happy and really annoying. We all want our children to be “happy” but I’m wondering if “content” is an adequate compromise… Related: we are now leaving Target.

6:13 p.m.

So it sounds like George started his group for kids with impulse control issues at school today. I know this because when I asked if he was being good in class, he said: “yes – I’ve been ver’ good – ‘cept for once when someone mistracted me and I forgot.” [forgot to be good?] Then he went on to explain, “we talked about it in my new REpulse group. You know what REpulse means, mom?” His explanation was largely unintelligible, but I gleaned enough from it to confirm that he understands what an impulse is. Diction aside – I’m glad he’s getting help.

8:00 p.m.

I just e-mailed Oliver’s teachers my suggested “action plan” for picture day…the goal being that he NOT refuse to have his picture taken (which he has done for the past two years). Bribes will be involved. Even if he offers the photographer that rictus smile he gives me when I aim the camera at him, I’ll consider it a win. In fact, I’ll FRAME the damn thing. I’m on a mission…

8:12 p.m.

Remember that movie title, “There Will Be Blood”? I’ve decided that my parenting movie title would be, “There Will Be Bribes.”


October 12

10:23 a.m.

Pssst! All of my high school/college friends who excluded “year” from birth date in their FB profile… I know how old you are :)

7:03 p.m.

“Sniffing butts is NOT funny!” As far as ridiculous things I find myself saying to my children go… It’s up there.

7:21 p.m.

Highlights of college football are on TV and I overheard Chris telling the kids that the “Game Cocks” are South Carolina University’s mascot. Then George (who is operating on a particularly nasty combination of too much sugar and “stuck inside on a rainy day”) started chanting “Game focks! Game focks!”

Me: “It’s not ‘focks’ it’s…oh never mind…”

Feeling grateful that their school’s mascot is the “Mustang.”


October 13

12:58 p.m.

Eleanor: Just walk like a robot. Makes you feel better.

I like to think this would apply to pretty much any situation.


October 14

7:38 p.m.

Um – when did my eight year old turn 17? #BackFromTheBeach

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7:40 p.m.

Clearly George had a terrible time… #BackFromTheBeach

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7:42 p.m.

All cartwheels, all the time. #BackFromTheBeach

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7:46 p.m.

We even brought the dog! #BackFromTheBeach

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7:50 p.m.

One more! What DON’T I like about this picture? Oh – about 98 things… What DO I like about it? It looks exactly like me on a day with my kids – no makeup, hair pulled back, “practical clothes,” and all. More importantly, this is probably how my kids think of me, so when they see this picture, they’ll know “this is mom.” And Alice.

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October 15

7:58 p.m.

Me: I’m confused. Why is baseball on? Isn’t it football season?

Chris: It’s October!

Me: But isn’t baseball over?

Chris: Haven’t you heard the term “The Boys of October”?

Me: I’ve heard “The Boys of Summer”…

Chris: The World Series is ALWAYS in October. What is the ONLY team to have won the World Series in NOVEMBER?

Me: [blank stare]

Chris: The Diamondbacks!

When someone asks why baseball is still on in October, do you think they would be able to guess who won the World Series in November? Has he met me?!


October 16

4:51 p.m.

George just wowed our neighbors by demonstrating his best pole dancing moves on the corner sign post. Yes – he said “pole dancing.” Guess I’d better GET ON IT and sew those velocros into his new tear-away outifts… Thanks Diane Cooper Gould!

5:49 p.m.

Finally joining the rest of the human race in worshiping at the alter of Breaking Bad. And I have to say, the 30 minutes I spend doing second grade homework with Oliver each day is eerily similar to watching Walter try to explain chemistry to disinterested high school students…

7:00 p.m.

THIS is how much I believe Oliver WON’T refuse to have his picture taken OR make a face so bizarre that he’ll be “that kid” when his classmates look at their yearbooks 20 years from now. Please send prayers/good vibes/voodoo if you can.

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October 19

10:33 a.m.

Mah culuhs ah blush and bashful.

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11:37 a.m.

It never ceases to amaze me how seriously kids can take their bizarre little games. Like…say…taking turns whacking a pumpkin with a stick. Apparently, shit gets real when one of them steals someone else’s turn. NO CUTSIES!

1:45 p.m.

Three words a busy parent most dreads hearing from small children: “Can I help?

So laundry folding will take twice a long…

3:47 p.m.

Hawking popcorn at the school harvest festival. Total carnie now…sneering at all the norms…

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October 27

2:43 p.m.

Realized I forgot paper products for Eleanor’s birthday party. Asked Chris to run out to buy paper plates and napkins. For a SEVEN YEAR OLD GIRL’S PARTY. So obviously…

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October 28

7:26 p.m.

I kind of love the fact that Eleanor’s barometer for whether she’ll wear something or not is, “can I do a cartwheel in it?


October 31

4:56 p.m.

Just finished taking some Halloween pictures of the kids! You should DEFINITELY hire me as your family photographer…If you want me to yell a lot and tell everyone that they’re “DOING IT WRONG!” I’m all about the fun.

5:14 p.m.

Oliver has been talking about Halloween since June – so he is THRILLED to finally be a “scary vampire” tonight. THIS is the child who refused to wear a costume until he was six. I had to trick him by putting him in superhero pjs. We’ve come a long way baby!

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5:16 p.m.

Eleanor decided to be a witch again so I would only have to worry about costumes for TWO children this year. Okay – maybe that wasn’t her intention…but it didn’t go unappreciated.

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5:18 p.m.

George is going as Rick Grimes “after” – because, you know, it’s only a matter of time… Of course, he just thinks he’s a “Sheriff Zombie.” But the grownups will think it’s funny.

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Next up:
NOVEMBER when Oliver calls PETA on Thanksgiving and the twins make into the Guinness Book of World Records for the number of times they can say “penis” within a 24-hour period. Stay tuned…