Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve has never been my favorite holiday. The only time that I can remember being excited about it was when I was fifteen and stayed up to watch MTV's top videos of the year. I've often thought that it was a forced holiday. You are supposed to have the time of your life, live it up, party hard. I have never been able to do those things.

When we were first together, Rob and I tried going out a few times, but it was always too loud and too crowded. We started enjoying the evening more once we decided to start staying home and watching movies. Low key works best for us. We watch movies until 11:55, switch to watch the ball drop, and then toast with sparkling grape juice (it tastes better and is cheaper).

This year is no exception. I am sitting here in my holiday finest, the red and white polka dot pjs Rob bought me for Christmas. So soft, so cozy. I pity the fools out there freezing their butts off in little black dresses.

Today was a great day. My favorite mommy friend came over with her three girls. I taught them the fine art of making Saltine candy,161,156162-242200,00.html and pretzel turtles (put a Rollo on a pretzel square, put it in the oven for a few minutes to soften, top with a pecan half and pig out). The kids played and squealed, we laughed at the antics of her two year old, and shared families stories, and book and movie recommendations (all in two minutes clip between chaos). We realized that it was dark and dinner time, so Caroline helped make mac and cheese for the kids and the grown ups had hot bean soup. Later I let the kids toast with sparkling grape juice (general opinion: too spicy!). They ended the evening watching Sponge Bob like exhausted zombies.

As for the rest of tonight, I'll try to find a good movie on TV and hang out with Caroline and Rob. Relaxing, lying like broccoli, chillaxing! Happy New Year! Wishing you all peace, love, safety, health, and happiness!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Rob's People He'd Like to Meet List

Here's Rob's list. His only criteria is that they'd met a lot of people and would have good stories to tell. He also liked the idea of ground breakers. He's a factoid man:)

Johnny Carson
Bill Murray
Dean Martin
Jimmy Stuart
Groucho Marx
Howard Cossell
Bob Hope
Lucille Ball
George Washington
Woodrow Wilson
Jack Benny
Lou Gehrig
Steve Martin
Neil Armstrong
Mel Brooks
George H.W. Bush (not his son)
Joe D'Maggio
George Halas
Amelia Earhart

Yes, this is how we spend our evenings, unless we are looking up trivia.

Monday, December 28, 2009

I'd Like To Meet

Redbook (I really do like this magazine) had an article about sparking creativity. One of the suggestions was to write lists, but not to do lists. Well, I love lists so here is the first in whatever series of lists I can come up with.

People I'd Like to Meet (subject to change, in no certian order, with no regard to status as living or dead)

Pete Seeger
Ina Garten
Paula Dean
Barbara Kingsolver
Elizabeth Berg
Both Bronte sisters
Jane Austen
Flannery O'Connor
Martin Luther King Jr.
Mother Teresa
Jim Henson
Kevin Clash
Elenor Roosevelt (she can bring Franklin along)
Jimmy Carter
David Robinson
Marion Davies
Lousia May Alcott
Lauren Child
Jack Johnson
The Bare Naked Ladies (the band, get your mind out of the gutter)
Robert Fulghum
Lucille Ball
George Washington
Amelia Earhart
(the last three were edited in after writng Rob's list)

That's all I can think of right now. I didn't include many of my favorite authors or musicians because I honestly thought they'd be pompous asses or terribly tortured and artisitc and well been there delt with that.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Another Parenting List Down the Drain

Do you remember that list you made in your twenties after an exhausting mall trip listening to someone's screaming child? You know the one entitled "When I Have Children They Will Never..."? The very same list that you completely broke after the first two months of your child's life? Well if after throwing out that you list, you were stupid enough (like me) to make another version entitled " My Teenager Will/Will Not...", I'm here to enlighten you.

Here is my list dissected and analyzed:

The myth: My teenager will not wear a sweat shirt as a coat in 30 degree weather.

The reality: After a 20 minute yelling match you realize that she'll deal with being cold and you are going to be late. You let her wear the damn sweatshirt and don't say a word when she tries to convince you her teeth are chattering because it's a fun thing to do and she is not cold. Same rules apply to hats, gloves, scarves, and socks.

The myth: We don't need unlimited texting. We have boundaries and limits.

The reality: Other kids don't have the same boundaries and limits. Your child dutifully doesn't text, but you end up paying for the texts her friends send. Just get unlimited texting and try not to choke the smug a holes who said "Oh Honey, texting is the only way these kids communicate. You won't last without it." Yeah, well it's their darn fault we're in this pickle.

The myth: My teenager will not wander through the store texting.

The reality: It is the only way to get a moments relief from the nonstop litany of smart ass remarks and bitching.

The myth: My teenager will openly communicate with me in a reasonable manner. I will not be one of those "hated" mothers.

The reality: Yes I am mean. I don't care if you hate me. Slam that damn door one more time and I am going to take it off the hinges. There is no reason.

The myth: My child is so sweet. I won't have any problems with hormones at all.

The reality: OMG, my child has turned into Sybil. I never know which mood I'm going to encounter. I just duck, try not to laugh and ground, hug, ground, hug, ground, hug.

The myth: I will engage my teenager in stimulating conversations. There will be no need for TV, pop radio, computers, cell phones etc.

The reality: If they don't have those things, how do you ground them? The entire point of technology is to use it as a bargaining chip. Google provides info for stimulating (and uncomfortable/shocking) conversations. If your child has no knowledge of pop culture then they are the "weird kid." It is hard enough to be a teenager, at least give them the proper tools to navigate the minefield of middle school.

The myth: My teenager will listen to interesting and eclectic music.

The reality: Yes, someday they will. First they need to go through their pop phase. Listen with them. Some of the songs are kind of good and you can answer many questions (it's a great way to teach innuendo).

One final reality: Yes this phase is more difficult than the terrible twos, but you will make it through (I hope). It is really very short and the rewards along the way are many. You are growing an adult. How awesome is that?

Random Thoughts from a Stuffy Head

I should not have complained about gaining weight from sitting around with a sinus infection. I got hit with a two day stomach virus. the upside is I lost the weight I'd gained. Anyway, I am sick of being sick. I make a terrible and grouchy paitinet. Today I decided enough was enough and dragged my scik self out for a few errands and to shovel the walk. A little fresh air and movement helped quiet a bit.

I also went back to the ENT. He scheduled me for sinus surgery on Jan 12. I reacted like I'd been given a gift from Santa. I will be so glad to be able to breath and live without sinus headaches.I got to look at my CAT scan with him and it was very cool. He had a nifty feature that "sliced" the image in different directions. It was like my own personal version of the Discovery Channel.

I just read a great article in Redbook that gave some guilt free ways to be healthy. I am going to get this author's book as soon as possible. I am so guilty of trying to do all and be all. No wonder I get sick.

I am at a funny age right now. I fell like I am going in a million directions and never stopping. I look at Rob's and my life and really we never slow down. We bounce from project to chore to driving a kid somewhere to calling relatives to check on them, all the while quickly sending each other messages. We are more like partners in the bussiness of marriage than a couple. I don't regret or object to it though. This is what you do in middle age. Really it is more of an extended servatuide that anything else. I know this time will pass so quickly, though.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Ready for My Solo

It has been rough going around here. My cold has morphed into a nasty sinus infection. I have tried medicaton, but nothing works. I went to an ENT and had a Cat scan done. Hopefully, he can figure out how to remove the blockage. I am pretty tired and overwhelmed. Add to that the storm of the century (we had 22 inches). I am slowly losing my holiday spirit. Which stinks because I live for Christmas and snow! I am not able to go out in the snow at all because the cold air causes my head to hurt 10 times more. Oh well, I just need to put on my big girl panties and deal with it (this expression makes my friend giggle everytime I say it becasue of the visual image).

I think this is why I like musicals. When faced with a daunting situation, the plucky heroine bursts into an uplifting song and dance with apporpriatlly placed props. I need to sing, but I can't move. The best that I can do is break each task into small parts and go from there. Today's job: wrap presents! Tomorrow: bake cookies!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

You May Think It's Funny, but It's Snot

Caroline caught a nasty cold over Thanksgiving, then Lily caught it last week. After two nights of no sleep and holding feverish Lily, now it is my turn. It sucks! I blow my nose, which is raw, so I use the marginally better lotionized tissues, which smear all over my glasses. I look like Rudolph's "rode hard and put away wet mother." Add to that I can't hear crap and my students are taking full advantage. if one more little six year old asks me why my nose is red, I'm going to scream. Any idea how hard it is to get little guys to listen when you have to stop and sneeze mid-lecute then blow your nose feriousiouly five times? Seriously, I'm just a disgusting mess. I'm just going to go sit and nurse a cup of tea. I did write a new song: "I'm dreaming of a snot-free Christmas, with every runny nose I wipe."

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Dining Room Update

So far, so good. Painting is finished for the most part. We just need to do the trim and touch us some spots. We went out today and got an estimate for hardwood flooring and bought a new chandelier. It's been kind of fun!

Thursday, December 3, 2009


My kids are quirky. Not in the way you'd think, though. I am raising decidedly suburban children who love all the things that good suburban children love. There are no amazing mind blowing theoretical conversations going on here, no extended huge Picasso-esque craft projects, no scarves and beads and artistic names like Willow. My kids, like me are in disguise. For all intent and purposes they look and sound like every other kid, but every once in awhile something comes out of their mouths that makes you do a double take.

Case in point, at the age of four Caroline was a Van Gogh expert. She would delight in telling people that "he cut off part of his ear because his brain wasn't thinking right." Flash forward to now. You know she's a drummer, but I wouldn't call her a prodigy. She drums on everything (and I'm developing a nervous tick), but it isn't her passion. Her passion is food. While, most teens leaf through gossip magazines, Caroline is ogling "food porn." She loves Paula Dean's magazine and made Paula's pumpkin bars for Thanksgiving (they over shadowed my famous rum pumpkin pie, dammit). This week, she talked Rob into buying her one of those glossy dessert magazines. I think that if I was able to take her to meet Duff from Ace of Cakes or Paula Dean or the queen of cooking, herself Ina Garten, it would be like meeting a rock star.

The only exception to this would be if she could meet that guy who is Owl City, you know the one who sings Fireflies? Yeah, you don't unless you spend all of your time with preteen girls. Anyway, this song is her other obsession. It is very dreamy and sweet and preteen girls the country over can sing every word with passion and joy (a side note, thank you to the kid who gave her the Fireflies ring tone, the one that goes off every time one of you texts her, which always seems to be during homework, which always prompts Rob to mutter we don't have unlimited texting).

Now to the other kid, there's no denying that this one is quirky. She's my logical scientist with the killer sense of humor. Awhile back I wrote about her being an alien http://http//
It's worse now than ever. She is just baffled by the ways of mere mortals. She also questions everything they do http://http// Lily still loves her babies (and all of their accessories), but she is developing a new love of theater. Makes sense, her Grandude works at one and we see lots of shows. It stands to reason that I thought she'd love to see my first graders' Thanksgiving play. I missed the mark on that one. She politely watched the show, but on the way home, stated that that really wasn't a play. They had costumes, but they didn't act. She wanted to know why the kids just sat there or went up to the microphone and talked. That's not acting. I thought the show was a hit. It's a good thing she doesn't write reviews for the school paper. My stepfather thought this was hilarious. I heard him telling it with pride at Thanksgiving dinner.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

In My Opinion

Right after Caroline was born there was a show on TV that listed the greatest inventions of all time. It was broadcast over a few nights and Rob and I eagerly awaited each episode. We are suckers for lists and made bets on what would be number one. It was the printing press. I agree whole heartily with that one, even thought that wasn't my guess. I now humbly submit my list of the greatest inventions, concepts, stuff that make my life better. These are in no specific order and subject to change on any day at any time:)

DVR- My favorite shows, any time without commercials? Awesome! The ability to say "Guys we have to go just DVR it"? Priceless.

The computer and all of it's time suck activities that draw in a techo -peasant such as myself- Email great, but Facebook with the chance to catch up with friends and see their pictures? That's even better. Just don't send me quizzes or ask me for crap for Farmville or Mafia Wars.

Blogging- I know, this falls under computer, but it deserves it's own category. I get to write, which I love and see what other parents are up to. I have found so many people like me through blogging. I am not alone! My life isn't as crazy as I thought either.

Diet Coke with Lime- What's in this stuff? Crack? Holy cannoli it's the best tasting thing in the world (well, next to a nice cup of tea). Like some sort of addict, I limit myself to one and slowly nurse it through the afternoon.

Cookies! -I don't need to say anything else.

Pumpkin pancakes- I think that I am hungry.

GPS- I can now travel without the fear of getting lost of rear ending someone because I am fumbling with a map. Plus, when I inevitably make a wrong turn, it helps me find my way.

Birkenstocks- Oh my happy feet!

Polar fleece- Warmth without itchy wool.

J Jill- God, I wish I could afford these clothes. Our outlet is closed and I think the entire chain is in trouble. This could be a fleeting love.

Slings- Couldn't have survived "Velcro Baby" without one.

Noggin- Appropriate shows for Lily anytime.

Netflicks- So many movies, so many choices, so many surprises when I forget to update my que and random forgotten movies stream into my mailbox.

Artistic-ish reality shows- Project Runway, So You Think You Can Dance, Top Chef, Iron Chef, Cake Challenge, Ace Of Cakes.... I love them and so do the girls. Fun for all!

Well, this list could go on, but I'll end with one final item....

The printing press! Without books I would loose my mind and I think we'd loose civilized society. Screw the Kindle, give me a real book and a library any day!


I've figured out why I hate cleaning the house so much. It's not the dirt or the toilets; it the random project generated by each attempt to clean something. This morning, I was throwing clothes in the dryer when I noticed that a plastic bag was sucked into the filter. I don't want to risk a fire, so I get out the screw driver and take apart the lint filter to dig it out. All of the sudden a five minute job has morphed into a thirty minute one. This type of thing is constant. I've seen it referred to as "stream of consciousness cleaning" and parodied in a If You Give A Mouse a Cookie type of email, so I know that I am not alone. Do all women clean this way? Am I the only one who has started to put towels in the linen closet only to be shaken back to reality by my husband yelling "What the heck are you doing up there?" Well, I saw the old medicine that I keep at the top of the closet and decide to clear out the old pill bottles. Studies have shown that multitasking is inefficient, yet I can't help myself.

Rob's method is to start a project, get almost finished, get pissed off, and leave it for weeks, months, years.

We are going to combine our styles and try to go against type by redoing the dining room. We are going to stick to it from start to finish. We'll paint, buy furniture, arrange furniture, and install lighting. All without stopping or moving onto something else. Do you know how hard it is to keep painting when the closets are calling to be reorganized and the laundry wants to be folded.

This will be a challenge and we are up to it! I'll let you know how it goes when we finish it in a year.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Adolescent Boys?

Somewhere, up in heaven, my dad and papa have fallen off of their celestial bar stools and are laughing their butts off. Why? Because they sent us Lily. Lily, who is one Wacka, Wacka short of Fozzie bear. Lily, who has started channelling Beevus and/or Butthead. Lily who makes me laugh so hard my stomach hurts.

Lily is going through what I refer to as a growth spurt of the mind. She asks at least 20 whys a day. She will not be satisfied with my tried and true strategies of a silly answer and then Woodie Gurthie's Why Song. She wants her answers "for real, for true." She wants a google search and Discovery channel to back you up. She is quiet honestly simultaneously thrilling and exhausting. She is running around explaining how an asteroid will kill the Earth (thanks Daddy) and why it is better to let our pumpkin decompose outside so it doesn't stink.

When she isn't a little scientist, she's a teenage boy. "Do you smell my stink?" she bellows from the bathroom. "I hold your family responsible for that gene." replies her embarrassed father. The more uncomfortable it makes us, the more likely Lily will do it or say it. She was placed here to remove the proverbial stick from our asses.

Last week I was reading to her from the most beautiful book about babies. You could tell this illustrator was a mommy. It was full of lovely drawings of parents doing what real parents do; parents passed out next to a cradle rocking it, daddies holding babies on their knees and gazing at them, and my favorite: a mother nursing in a rocking chair holding a book, head rolled back in exhaustion. The baby had her shirt clutched in his hand in that sweet gesture that I miss so much. The picture was enough to make me want to start it all over again, until:

"She's not feeding that baby! What's going on there?!" First I wondered why the hell I suffered through a year in a half of breast feeding when she doesn't even remember it. Then I started to explain (scientifically of course) about breast feeding. I got no further than breast when Lily stated to snort "Breast is a funny word." I explain that breast is a part of our body that is normal and plunge forth with my explanation. I am all ready for a bizarre response. When I explained breast feeding to four year old Caroline, she first asked why I didn't just give her milk from the fridge. After I explained that her milk came from my breast she looked at me in awe and asked how it opened up (yes folks, I'm a cooler).

After my explanation, Lily looked puzzled for a minute and then her face clouded over in horror. "You mean I drank BLOOD!?" Of course this makes sense in Lily world, she only knows of one liquid that comes from people (besides pee) and that's blood. I assured her that she wasn't a vampire and that mommies could make milk. Then I explained about cows and baby cows, mommy dogs and puppies etc. As she snuggled down under the covers she looked up at me with an angelic smile "Mom? Breast is still a funny word." As I told her to go to sleep and kissed her sweet little head, she whispered "Guess what Mom? Poop is funny, too."

Wild Child

Caroline and I finally saw Where the Wild Things Are. All along, I had no intention of taking Lily. Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers does not a children's film make. At least not for little ones. Caroline and I loved it. Are you all surprised? I was especially thrilled with Caroline, my Indie Kid in the making. We went with a friend who really didn't care for it and Caroline had no problem telling an adult that she liked it and wasn't at all embarrassed or awkward.

The movie was exactly what I expected (Well,the monsters were a little chatty/whiny/self-absorbed. At times they reminded me of my art school friends. All they were missing was a couple of lattes.). The movie was filmed beautifully. Especially the opening. It reminded me so much of being a child, especially my brother (whom I believe Max was modeled after.) I knew it would completely tap into my feelings about the primal-ness of children.

In this movie, Max had every right to be angry. The issue with Max was how he chose to deal with that anger. Kids are not angelic beings. I think they are awesome, but they are people in the making, trying to find their place. The rest of the movie is how Max works through this in his imagination (my favorite way to cope). The movie is violent. As much as I don't like to think about it, kids are violent. I had to eliminate the table point system in my classroom because I was afraid one of my kids would "shank" another with a sharp pencil because he wasn't quiet enough to earn them points. Now we have a very peaceful new age policy where we all work in harmony to earn a group activity. I also know these guys aren't leaving the school singing "Free to Be You and Me" everyday. There is still aggression. Hopefully, I can help them find better ways to deal with it (my current plan is basketball and running). I am going to close now. There is primal screaming coming form within my house. Hopefully, no one sails aways for a day and another day.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Through a Child's Eyes

Note: If you ever want to get over an addiction to reading and posting blogs, teach first grade. It is the ultimate and most rewarding time suck ever.

This weekend, my mother and I took Lily to see Peter and the Wolf at the local performing arts center where my step father works. It was a ballet put on my a teen dance troop and Lily loved it! I love watching my kids see something that thrills them. Her face was glowing and she would pause every once in a while to give me the thumbs up. Thumbs up is Lily's highest form of praise.

She got to get autographs after and as we left she paused to hug and kiss the sculpture that is outside of the theater. She does this every time. This theater has come to be the symbol of Grandude for her. She loves it and everything she gets to see there. When my mom shared this with Chris he was touched and chuckled. As adults we often forget that what is mundane and drudgery to us is magic to a kid. I bet he looked at the statue differently on Monday morning.

I think that is why I choose to spend so much of my time with children. They take you out of your head and show you the world in a different way. Sometimes it's magical and moving. Sometimes it is a grim reality that you had chosen to gloss over as you bustle through your day. Both are valuable.

Caroline gets such a charge out of helping me stuff homework folders. She babbles away about what her first grade class room will be like if she teaches first grade. Now I look forward to what is a very boring task. On the flip side I work with children everyday who face hardships that I could never imagine. I had one little boy bring in school supplies a month late. It was obvious that they had been gently used and donated, but he was as happy as if it were Christmas. I helped him carefully unpack everything and exclaimed over his new crayons and pink eraser. That joy carried me all day. I have another student who is an amazing artist, but had never seen water colors. When I showed him how to use them and explained that he had his own set just for him he was in awe. I'll admit, I teared up that time.

It isn't always a Hallmark moment. Both my students and children are quick to call me on bullshit. When Lily was asking about how our dog died, I started explaining with the circle of life loving spirit info that I gave Caroline at four. Lily's response was "no, Mom, tell me for real." Rob took over and gave her the scientific details down to cremation and showed her Sierra's urn. Lily was satisfied. I'll send her to Rob next time.

I really can't imagine a time in my life without kids around. People are quick to praise me for patience or sainthood when I tell them I teach, especially when they find out that I often work with kids with special needs. Sainthood should not be awarded for doing something that I love. If you want to nominate me, do it for trying to stop swearing, especially when driving in traffic.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I am looking back and realize how pitiful my September blogging has been. It's been a busy, but producitve month. First grade has completely drained my energy, time, sanity. I wouldn't change a thing.

And the Beat Goes On

I feel like I am living a tween version of fame around here. Caroline has tapped into her inner artsy side. I couldn't be happier or prouder. The long awaited garage band concert was a couple of weekends ago. I was very impressed. She was so nervous, she looked like she was going to her execution. All she could focus on was her mistakes, but all I could see was a very brave, all be it shy, eleven year old drumming in front of strangers. I couldn't do that even now.

This week she tried out for drama club. They are putting on High School Musical, not her favorite show, but she's game for it. She signed up for either a part on stage or stage crew (her cousin Luke has convinced her that the coolest kids do stage crew).

It is amazing to see her blossom into her own person. I watch as she walks to the bus each morning, all tall and lanky, dragging her drum case behind her, and it feels like I am watching her leave me forever. When I get home she pounces on me and chatters away with the stories and adventures of the day. She is making a life in which she is the star and I am no longer the director, but the stage crew. I am here behind the scenes, but she is out there in the spot light without me, thriving. I feel the strangest combination of pride and sadness. It is a beautiful emotion.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Happiness Is.....

The lazy days of summer are over and now we are back to the break neck dash through insanity that is our daily life. Both of the girls are in different spaces away from me for the first time. I am loving teaching first grade, but feel a bit like a kid myself. I keep joking that I am always running behind my teammates yelling guys wait up. I forget to do something everyday, but my students are happy, I am happy, and no one is hurt. What else could you want from the first week?

This summer started out so promising (I read at least sixteen books, we went to the pool, watched ridiculous amounts of Food Network, and generally just enjoyed each other), then came the end of July. By August we'd had two ER visits, a dead car, a new car (quite lovely, actually), a broken sink, a flooded basement and a strung out mother. Oh well, crap happens and life still goes on.

Despite all of the drama, I am happy. Sometimes I wonder about the basic simplicity of my life. Should I have done something more exciting and worthwhile? Should I have traveled? Have I met my full potential? Should I be living a higher/better life? I am a stereotype without a doubt. Look up suburban mother and there I am. Sure, I like to think that I am slightly more exotic than the rest. I wear flowy clothes, I listen to the Ramones while I power walk through the neighborhood, I'm a Unitarian, but really what does that have to do with anything? I am rushing around carting kids from place to place, packing lunches, washing dishes and laundry, the same things as every other mom. We are more alike than not. There is nothing that I would change.

I love my job, I love my family, I like watching TV and reading chic lit. I find myself feeling the need to apologize for those things. My chic lit choices are more intellectual than fluffy, so that makes them better. I watch Bravo and Food Network, so therefore my TV viewing is not as vapid. I taught special ed, which was noble. Who was I trying to impress? Quite frankly, the voice in my head is a pompous ass and if it were a real person I would never hangout with it. Why should I judge myself?

I am who I am. I have not wasted my education or intelligence. I am happy. What else could you ask for?

Friday, August 28, 2009


We have an expression around here: "swimming in lake so and so." As in "swimming in lake Missy" when I dominate the conversation and turn it back to me. We all do it. I know I do it all the time. I have a blog for crying out loud, what's more self absorbed than that? It's funny how someone who prides herself on being so aware of others can be so blind. Well, I've vowed to pay attention from now on.

At our reunion I was talking my friend about a high school acquaintance who apparently had a terrible life. We never knew. How can you see someone day in and day out and not know they are in pain and suffering? Some days we seem to exhist in separate bubbles rolling along beside each other, but never seeing what's right there.

This idea really hit home when I read the news about the little girl who was abducted at age 11 and held captive for 18 years. I read that news report last night and just sat there and shook and cried. What if that was my beautiful girl? The thing that I don't understand (not being judgemental, here), but how did no one? They weren't out in the middle of nowhere. There were neighbors. I guess one even called the police, but they (the police) saw nothing. I think this is a case of seeing what you want to see, being too busy and too overloaded to stop and look. I can think of countless examples of this going on even in my town, my neighborhood, my school. I am not trying to start a dialogue about people's ideas about criminals and the horrific things they do. What I want us to do is pay attention.

When the kids get out of hand and we feel overwhelmed, Rob and I will pause and remind each other to watch out for the other parent. We've got each other's back. What if we applied that philosophy to our community? Instead of considering it to not be your problem, offer help. Don't be nosy, but take care of each other. I know that I am going to try harder, look outside of my daily grind and offer help. We all need it now more than ever.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Paging Dr. Green

I was always a big fan of the show ER, especially Mark Green. I'm starting to think that I am paying for my preoccupation with ER. We had our second ER visit last night and I am beginning to see a pattern.

We spent the day cleaning and nursing sore bodies after our reunion. I had just sat down at 8:30 to look at reunion pictures online when I heard a crash from the bathroom and screaming. My first thought was Lily's been playing in the sink and slipped (true); Rob's first thought was Lily's hurt (true again). Before I could even launch into the "don't play with water" lecture I saw the blood. She had hit the edge of the toilet seat and split open her chin. Rob looked at it and through gritted teeth muttered "Goddammit, stitches." Lily started crying and Caroline and I sprung into action. She ran to get Lily's shoes and the first aid kit. I covered her chin with gauze and tape running from temple to temple (I was so tried, I wasn't thinking).

All the way to the ER, Lily kept trying to yawn and got very annoyed that her face was taped together. Rob reminded me that exactly a month ago at this time we were headed to the ER in Illinois. I suggested bubble wrapping Lily on September 23. Lily thought this was not funny at all. As far as she was concerned this wasn't her fault. It was the hard toilet seat's fault. She suggested that we buy soft toilet seats like her aunt in Illinois has.

Overall, this ER experience was just as pleasant as the last. Our hospital has a pediatric section with rooms decorated like the beach. There are fish on the walls and ceiling, there was even a three dimensional seagull on a pier in the corner of the room. Of course Lily hopped down from Rob's laps and started crowing "Ca caw, ca caw!" while standing on one foot and flapping her hands. We both jumped at her as she slipped and breathlessly exclaimed "Be careful!"

Fortunately, she didn't need stitches, they were able to glue it back together. Lily happily explained to the nurse that her mommy had lots of bandages at home and tried to cheerfully fly off the table after the doctor was finished (a white faced Rob caught her).

I have a feeling that my time in the ER is only beginning. Lily lives life with gusto. She charges ahead and learns her lessons the hard way. Just yesterday I recorded the following "Lilyisms:"

Mommy: "Lily, go to timeout."
Lily: "You're not my loving Mama anymore."
Mommy: "I'll live, go, now."

The same situation was repeated later that day with Rob (you're not my favorite Daddy) and Caroline (you're not my best sister).

Gleefully sucking down "bug juice" "Hey this stuff has spiders in it? No wonder it's so sour." (this was followed by riotous belly laughing).

To Caroline "Give that back! I am deadly serious!"

"This hospital is boring and annoying."

As we waited in the ER, I turned to her stuffed Bear and asked him "What are we going to do with Lily and all her boo boos?" Lily made the bear reply in a deep voice "Whadda ya want me to get hurt?"

Are you surprised we ended the day in the ER? Caroline has remarked that we are raising Ramona Quimby. Yep.

All I know is I am going to keep a stock of gauze, tape, patience, and humor. Maybe, I'll add an emergency supply of wine and chocolate, too.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Oh To Be Old!

This weekend was my much anticipated 20 year reunion. After all of the waiting, it came and went in a blink. I had a wonderful time! My closest friends from school weren't able to make it, but I had such a nice time with all of the friends who were able to. It was so great to be able to hang out with each other without worrying about the silly things we used to (how we look, status etc.) We just cut loose and had fun. How wonderful the teen years would have been if we could have done this sooner. Honestly, everyone was just so nice (this was even before they started drinking).

I had spent so much time worrying about having gone "soft around the middle," but really it didn't matter. We were all a bunch of middle age people, softer, wrinklier, and some of us with a little less hair. This just seemed to even things out even more.

I believe Rob even had a good time. For some one who holds most people in disdain, he seemed to have spent a lot of time chatting and joking. He never had his senior picture taken and jokingly told the organizer (the most together and energetic person I've ever met) to use Mel Gibson's picture circa 1989. She did. Rob also danced his famous drunken chicken dance with me. Like I said, it was fun!

We toured the school on Friday night. The changes were amazing. It is so much bigger. Walking through there also brought up memories of clumsy events of year past, like the time I fell down the two flights of stair during morning rush. I went all the way down on my butt and luckily was only bruised. I guess mishaps have always followed me.

I can't wait until our 25th reunion.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Motherhood Does Not Equal Martyrdom

I have been lucky to have been able to spend a couple of afternoon with one of my closest friends and favorite fellow moms. She is my idea of the best kind of "natural" mom. She is raising her family organically without being preachy or making others (ie me) feel like neanderthals. She also has my respect because she is raising three young girls (six, four, and 19 months). If I think my days are chaotic, try three little ones.

We have such a good balance going. No judging, just sharing and support. It is so hard to find another mom who doesn't make motherhood a contest. She doesn't judge me because my kids eat artificial cheese snacks and watch too much TV and I don't look down my nose at her.

As much as I admire her, though, she has doubts about herself as a mother. That floored me. Seriously, you look up mother in the dictionary and there's her picture! I think as mothers we never seem to thin that we've done enough. We go back and analyze every situation like Monday morning quarterbacks. As she and I confessed the areas were we felt we'd fallen down on the job, our offenses seemed so minor. I told her that I didn't feel I challenged lily enough. She countered with "Is she happy?" Valid point.

We also discussed how far we've come. I let her come into my house with five baskets of overflowing clean laundry in the middle of the living room. The old me would have shoved them into the closet. As we sat in the kitchen eating the grapes the kids left behind from lunch, I looked out at my sun room/laundry drying area and saw my bras hanging like a colorful garden, oh well.

Part of what prompted these get together was her husband calling me and asking me to come get his wife. He said she was doing too much and needed a break. So we got together with the kids and then without. Last Sun. morning we went to the movies, the farmer's market, and lunch at a Thai place. It was awesome! At first I felt almost giddy, like I was playing hooky. Then, we started talking and sharing and giving advice. Even though most of our talk was about kids, it was productive. We were talking about them for lack of anything else to discuss. Being mother is who we are; it's our job, having help navigating it only makes it easier.

I always say that I need to do this more often, but the reality is it's hard to find the time. We don't mean to give up all of our time, our energy, ourselves to our kids it just happens. Having another fellow mom direct from the trenches to listen and bounce ideas off of really helps. The proof? Sunday night our kitchen sink sprung a leak and I didn't even feel the need to post an entire blog about the insanity. Thanks, buddy!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Don't You Forget About Me

The fact that it is hot as all get out and we can't go to the pool or even run through the sprinklers, has given me lots of thinking time. I've been thinking about high school (funny how every time I say the beginning of the phrase, I feel like Elmo). The combination of Caroline's impending teeness and my 20 year high school reunion has me thinking a lot about my teens. I really have no regrets. I was the same then as now, except I'm probably a little more confident and more of a smart ass.

I pretty much existed in my own realm in high school. I had friends, but didn't see them a lot outside of school because I lived out in the middle of no where. I read a lot, still do and really spent a lot of time inside my head or existing inside a book. At the time I thought I was missing something, but I don't think so now. I skirted the edges of things. I was friend with most of the honors/"nerd" kids, but not quite with them (don't get me started about the tracking system in education). I was kind of like a hippy dippy Doris Day (if you know me, that image works). Marching to the beat of your own drum is lonely, but leads to a strong adult. If you'd told me that then I wouldn't have believed you. I went through my own odd phases. There was the 50s revival with the long skirts, Keds, and pony tails with ribbons. There was my 60s phase which started with mini skirts and ended with jeans. I pretty much lived in a time warp.

I really think that I got as much out of high school as I possibly could. I am not sure what my friends think about it, but I think we lived it to the fullest. We did all of the silly spirit days with gusto, we closed the prom down, long after the more popular kids had gone on to parties to get so drunk they didn't remember anything. I found my voice in high school. I learned to write. I loved working on and editing the literary magazine. I was sad to find out that there isn't one at our high school anymore. A victim of technology, I guess. Truly, I loved high school. I wasn't exemplary, I was just me.

I was excited about our reunion. I joined Facebook and reconnected with so many of my classmates. The funny thing is the ground seems more equal now. At our 10 year reunion it seemed like the same cliques all over again, although is it cliques or just like with like? Do you just go towards those you have common ground with? Anyway, it seems like we have more common ground now. Adulthood, mortgages, recession, children. I think it is wonderful to see and hear about everyone's families.

It looks like Rob and I will be just about the only ones of our really close friends going (time, distance, finances all have been blocking stones). He is beyond thrilled. My husband really doesn't like most people outside of the kids and I. He didn't particularly like high school (hopefully except for the fact that he met me). His experience was the opposite of mine, mostly due to circumstance and partially due to stubbornness. I embraced it, he rejected it and yet we married. Maybe on some level we're both very optimistic.

I have a slimming polka dot dress with a twirly skirt (the summer diet plan was a bust) and am making sure to pack my optimism. Maybe it will be the same old same old, but hopefully I will get the chance to see people that I spent so many years with in a new light.

PS Hope this isn't too Pollyanna. I'm feeling very upbeat today:) Give it time cranky will return soon.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Life in the Fast Lane

I have often referred to my car as my mobile living room. We do everything in the car, eat, nap, sometimes change. My car is full of stuff for every possible event, sports gear, snacks, first aid kit, camping gear, scout stuff, gear for all sorts of weather...

My kids have grown up in that car. It showed. After eight years of steady loving use, road trips, and daily grind, it began to smell like sour milk and feet. The carpets and seats were stained. There was ground in food stuck under seats and in places that the vacuum couldn't reach. It was like a pair of comfortable old shoes. It might not have been pretty to others, but we loved it. Which is why it was so sad when it started to act funny on the way home from Illinois. We knew the end was coming, but thought we had at least another year.

I know it was just a car, but I think that it loved us. case in point, the transmission went the day before "Cash for Clunkers" was launched. My sweet Montero Sport sacrificed itself, so we could get decent financing on a Ford Escape. It wasn't quite the joyous event you'd imagine. First we had to clean all of our stuff out. It was like a time capsule of the life of a young family. I found vet bills for our dog Sierra (she died two years ago), a golden dollar with John Quincy Adams on the front, Rob's birth certificate, baby socks, hair bands etc. It is amazing how much one family can squirrel away in a car. The kids were sad about losing their car. Their eyes almost bugged out of their heads as the salesman explained that the car would be scrapped, the engine destroyed.. "and then the car gets to go live with the other SUVs on the SUV farm!" I yelled to drown out the rest of the explanation.

And then there was my reaction. I stood there in the lot like a petulant teenager and proclaimed everything too big, too different. I just wanted MY car. I really don't handle change well and between the ordeal of Lily's bite and the car, plus my new job and the kids new schools, I was very overwhelmed. Rob patiently took over and we took our new car home.

The next day I nervously loaded the kids in the car to go the doctor. We tried out the built in bluetooth. As my new car patiently asked my command I thought "Holy crap, it's Kit!" We tried out the satellite radio and discovered: RADIO DISNEY! I'm on the fence about this one. The girls love it. I also discovered a station called Coffeehouse: acoustic singer songwriters for slightly hippy dippy mothers who'd still like to believe they are cool and can change the world. I love it!

We happily cruised along listening quietly to Selena Gomez. After three blocks I was able to stop hunching over the wheel and breathe. As I pulled into the parking lots the girls cheered and Caroline pronounced "Congratulations, Mama, you have reached your first destination." I am "Dayrider, Suburban Mom" on the prowl or crawl, depends upon the traffic.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Be Still My Heart

Between the fact that my car died and we can't take Lily to the pool, we've been house bound. It's been nice to have some slow lazy days (it would be better to have a car to go to the library with, though).

Lily is doing surprisingly well. She should be able to get her stitches out next week. Trying to keep her still has been a little difficult. She doesn't seem to be at all afraid of dogs, but is nervous about going to the bathroom by herself. She also doesn't want to look at her stitches or have anyone except Rob and I look at them. I really think that she would like to erase this memory from her "memory box."

I am glad that she seems to have no residual fears. I am not having such luck. I have always had and loved dogs, but I am finding it hard not to throw myself between any dog and my children. When I was walking last night, I passed a boxer who put his ears back and stared at me. For the first time I was nervous around a dog. My tongue went dry and my heart started racing. Maybe it's because I was the one who got Lily away from the dog. I was the one who came around the corner and saw the dog pulling on my baby's arm through the trash. I still don't know how I got the dog to let go. By the time everyone (it is nice to have a big family) got to us, I was holding her tight.

Once we got to the ER, I tried to calm myself down by thinking up jokes about "dumpster diving with a Beagle" and "smelling like I'd been on a bender," but this time jokes didn't help. Seeing my amazingly brave little girl did. I really believe that my girls are gifts, I'd have another child in a heart beat if we could afford it. They make me strong and they keep me centered. Even at their worst, they are perfection in my eyes (just don't tell them I said that, I'd never hear the end of it).

I knew we were lucky, but didn't realize how until I saw the bruises on her face and belly. It could have been so much worse., but my heart still broken when I saw the marks on my baby's perfect skin. I lay there that first night and just stared at her. Her little arm propped on a pillow and her bruised face. When she turned her head, it looked like nothing at all had happened.

Serious doesn't last long around here. By the time we headed home, we were telling jokes again. I told Lily my favorite about the tomato who steps on the one who falls behind and yells "Ketchup!" Lily loved it, after she stopped belly laughing, she said "I get it, the concept is we eat squished tomato, ketchup." Rob looked at me in wonder and said "She's fine, huh?" Yeah, she is.

Of course, now I am spending my days telling her to watch her stitches and coaxing her to take her medicine while she barrels through the house asking a million questions. She hasn't missed a beat. She really is pretty amazing.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Dog safety and bite prevention has been quite a topic around our house this year. It was a scout troops Bronze award and is something Caroline is quite well versed in. Part of the motivation was the fact that her cousin got bit pretty badly in the face three years ago by the family dog. It just happened. No one was at fault. Well, the same thing happened to us last night.

We are visiting the family in Illinois and last night Lily got bit by Rob's uncle's very old beagle. The dog had snuck into the house and was in the trash. Lily walked by, startled her , and got bit. Luckily, I was right behind her and got her before the dog got near her face or belly. She did get a nasty bite on her forearm. I really don't remember all of the details of what happened with the dog, I just know that I got her and screamed and Lily screamed. The entire family came running. Rob and I make a good team in an emergency. We stayed calm and got my first aid kit (don't ever tease me about always carrying it again) and wrapped her arm. The poor thing had wet her pants so I changed her and we took off for the ER. I feel bad that I forgot to say good bye to Caroline, but her aunt was there and took good care of her.

On the way, I started crying, but stopped the minute Lily started patting my cheek and telling me "It's ok Mama." This little girl never ceases to amaze me. Then she quietly told me that she had a memory box in her head and didn't want this memory in there. I told her she didn't have to keep it.

The Midwest is so different from Northern Virginia. We got in and out of the ER in 1 1/2 hour. That wait would have been at least 3 hours at home. They X rayed her arm, cleaned it out and gave her four stitches. Lily was amazing. She didn't cry and asked questions, like were do they learn to fix arms. The nurse has three children of his own and was so nice to her. He even called our prescription into the all night pharmacy for us.

I think that Lily will be fine, she didn't seem mad at the dog or overly scared. I feel really bad for Rob's aunt and uncle. They are the nicest people and I'm sure they're very upset. I also was worried for my niece. I thought this would bring back bad memories about her bite (which was so much worse), but she seems unfazed too.

I am so thankful that the dog only got her arm. It was so close to her face. I spent most of last night staring at the bruise on her temple and just being thankful.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Baa, Baa, Black Sheep

I am a straight arrow. As rule abiding and by the book as they come (even though half the time I'm trying to convince myself that I'm really a closet hippy). In our family there is a theory that kids come in twos. One straight arrow, one wild child. My father was the wild one, my uncle the by the book one; Rob's dad was the wild one, his uncle, by the book. Needless to say my brother was the wild one. I was looking at a picture of my brother and I from my college graduation. He had missed the ceremony and arrived late. The picture shows my brother, long haired, red eyed, and rumpled and me in my cap and gown chewing him out. That scene sums up the family to a tee. The straight arrow tows the lines, the wild child has fun. Our best stories are wild child driven. They are fun and lively and a constant source of worry. We straight arrows, when not full of righteous indignation are sticks in the mud, arriving safely at every destination with no tale to tell. Really, we need each other. It's a yin yang thing. By the way, my brother is now a steady as a rock. He's grown up.

Our family's wild children come with dangerous habits. Drinking too much, drugs, long wild nights, poor decision making, broken bones, hearts, and cars. I spent years dancing between self righteous worry and complete indifference (with hidden worry). I also envied the eases with which hey went through life. Never really as hurt as they could have been. They seemed charmed. Everywhere they went they made friends, had adventures, had a blast. I've ridden shotgun standing on the beach watching them crash through dangerous waves.

Our latest wild child is my 20 year old sister. Her life is her story to tell, so no details here. Her life is a continuing drama and she is the star. When she bursts into the house she leaves a wake behind her. It feels like a Bob Fosse number, we should all don sequins and snaps and twist behind her. Her ups and downs have been on going since she was 14. Before then she was my little buddy. She come stay with me every summer and we'd craft and adventure (tamely). Once she hit her teens, she wanted more and dropped out of my life. For the past 6 years we've seen her in fits and spurts. Her stories worry me more than entertain. Her stories frustrate me and I don't really want my children riding shotgun on these trips.

This last visit to CT, she was around more. She walked into the house and Lily looked at me and asked who's that? I explained she was my sister, her aunt. Lily's reply, you have a sister? They all had a nice time together (after getting reacquainted). We went to the beach and she took Caroline out kayaking. Of course, in true inattentive manner, she went out too far and for too long. My step mother got nervous and wanted to go look for them. I also started to get worried (I just saw Rachel Getting Married, watch and you'll know why). Of course, they came back happy and safe. Caroline looked a year older, proclaiming it was so cool, we found an island and explored it, we named it Bird Island! The rest of the day was just as nice, they made brownies and beaded bracelets, then watched movies. She was trying.

I am not stupid, I know this is probably a brief moment. Unreal expectations are dangerous and rarely fulfilled. I also know it starts with small amounts of trust. I look at my straight arrow oldest and my youngest. Will she be the next wild child? No need for pre-determination, just let it be.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Lie Like Broccoli

If it we had the summer schedule all year long, I think that I would be the most chill mama ever. Today Lily spilled yogurt all over the floor and instead of silently screaming in my head, I just handed her paper towels and taught her how to clean it up neatly. We have no schedule, no time constraints, the world really is our oyster!

I'd like to say that with this new found time, our house is immaculate, like something out of Good Housekeeping. Nope, I'm the same slacker housekeeper. There are about five baskets of unfolded laundry behind me as I type. I'd like to say that some major educatioanl enrichment is going on here. Nope, not really. We are all reading like crazy, but it's because that's what we like to do. We are still watching TV and have developed a fondness for silly obstacle course type shows (Wipeout, Super Stars). What we are doing is "lying like broccoli" or to use Caroline's term "chillaxin'".

But this chilled out state of mind makes it so much easier to manage my two alien children. One is morphing into a teen. This is a scary and frustrating process. Most sentences now begin with "God, Moomm," and end with an eye roll, teeth sucking or some sort of smart ass remark that secretly makes me proud of her budding humor level. I can simply look at her and calmly say "watch it" or "that's it you're grounded" without rising to her bait or engaging in a yelling contest. Boy, if only I could do this all year.

My other child, I can enjoy with minimal frustration. I don't mind chasing her down at the pool as she darts around wearing her towel like a cape and yelling "Super Lily! Falling ceases!" (guess what old timey phrase I tried to use to clam her down first?) I can catch her and put her in time out without running my hand frantically through my hair or deep breathing. I can even walk into the living room and watch her leap from the couch into an over turned rocking chair that she has laced through with shoe laces (she was making cargo netting). I can then calmly explain that obstacle courses are for outside and she could have crashed through the french door and been hurt. I can even answer her 50 questions about when each and everything was invented (her standard reply is the 1920's).

I have the time to pause and look at my leggy tanned girls and notice that all their baby fat is disappearing. I can breathe in the intoxicating smell of sunscreen, chlorine, and warm kid. All in all this is the best start to a summer in quite a while.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Summertime and the Livin's......

I took the girls to the pediatrician for check ups today. It's only four days into summer break and they both already look like the poster children for what not to do in the summer. Their shoulders are sunburned nice and pink (I used sunscreen!) and Lily's legs have been eaten alive by mosquitoes (I used bug spray!). I wanted to tell the doctor that at least it proves I've taken them outside. The doctor didn't mind their state. But while we were waiting in the office, I thought of some summer predictions.

This summer I will repeatedly say the following (to play along try to guess which remark goes to which kid, no Rob does not count as a kid):

Your shoes are on the wrong feet. Switch them.
Get off the phone. Get off the phone, now!
Get off the computer. No not in ten minutes, now!
Leave her alone!
Popsicles are not breakfast, even though there's a picture of fruit on the front.
Come get sunscreen!
No TV. Not even a minute.
It's summer, you can't wear that.
I know it's not raining, but when it thunders pool's closed.
Who took my MP3 player?!
No, you can't have money for the ice cream man. There are Popsicles in the fridge.
Get down from there!
Come back, that's too deep.
Share with your sister!

I will be doing the following:

Traveling to both CT and IL with the kids. Visit will be fun, drive will be hell.
Chilling at the pool.
Using an entire bottle of red nail polish (girls need cute toe nails).
Using at least a bottle of sunscreen a week.
Using boxes and boxes of Aveeno oatmeal bath (poor itchy Lily).
Eating/passing out cases of Popsicles.
Spending countless hours at the library.
Reading a healthy balance of intellectual/brain candy.
Watching lots of Food Network.
Going through a gallon of bubbles.
Eating JoJo's ice cream at least three times.

Seems like a good start! Happy summer and wear sunscreen!

Alien Child

I'm sure that I'm not the first parent to think that their child is a visitor from another planet. Most days I look at Lily and think that she is just here collecting data on the daily habits of the suburban family. Navigating life as Lily's mom has been so different from Caroline. I understand Caroline because she is so like me. She wears her heart on her sleeve. Right or wrong, you always know where you stand (even if that's in earshot of screaming and crying).

Lily on the other hand seems so happy go lucky. Never upset, never worried. That couldn't be farther from the truth. It just shows in different ways, like rapid fire questions or bossing people around. I have quickly learned that I can avoid headaches and mess if I just answer her questions truthfully. Forget fairies and other magic stories, this kid wants the facts. That's not to say she doesn't have an imagination. She does, but make believe lives in it's own place (everything in her life has it's compartment), she will clearly tell you it's not real, it's just for fun. When people try to tease her and say things like "look there's a purple elephant!" Lily will chuckle knowingly and look at me, "Mom, that's not true! Elephants aren't purple."

She seems so fearless, but she is terrified of the dark. One night she started crying about monsters. I pulled out my tried and true tale of "Monster Spray" that kept them away. Lily's response was "That can't be true because I know monsters aren't real, they just live in my head!" The look of annoyance on her face when she called me on my lie, cured me of that forever.

She seems to know no fear, but once she understands the dangers, she is so cautious. Once she knows that "This is a rule," she is a tyrant about it. The trick is to explain it to her satisfaction or she'll figure it out the hard way. The old advice about avoiding "over explaining to your child" doesn't apply here. You can't over explain to this kid.

My biggest problem with her is the comedy aspect. She is a certified "laughter junky." If she thinks that it will get a laugh, she'll do it. Sometimes even at the expense of known safety rules. Lily does impersonations of all of the people in her life and TV characters. She hears a story once and recites it from memory with added voices and dialogue. Suddenly she has decided that she is too old for "little kid shows" and wants to watch Caroline's shows. That lasted only one day before I got hit with the biggest wall of preteen attitude from my pint sized four year old. Caroline's shows have been deemed "iappopriate" (her word) for Lily. It is so hard to politely whisper to strangers " I know she's funny, but please don't laugh, she'll never stop."

Once we set a rule, God help us if we veer at all away from it. Lily first let us know and then the next time inform us that we let her do it once so she should get to do it again.

I know she's smart. I'm not saying this in that bragging mommy way (My little angel can sing on tune while reading the encyclopedia, while painting a recreation of Starry Night). Lily can just figure things out without any help from us. Rob borrowed money from her any she knew how much she had and how much she had left. I feel a little bad about her having us for parents. We are both pretty smart people. The problem is that we a very quiet and independent in our intelligence. We don't sit around having lofty discussions. We sit around trading smart ass barbs. I never pushed Caroline to read. I figured it would happen on it's own and it did. I've never been a flash card Mom or a factoid Mom. I love TV and have no reservations about it. I love the computer, but also love books just as much. I just think that Lily would be better off with parents who could teach her to use her skills for good instead of mayhem.

I am wondering if I should try to teach her to read and write this summer, but honestly, I'm kind of enjoying the ride. I like her unbridled wackiness. I don't want to button her up into academia. The other night after a particularly episode of kookiness involving costume changes, dialogue in song, and air quotes, Rob looked at me and said that she reminded him of a friend of ours from high school. This guy was one of the brightest and wittiest people that I've ever met, but with absolutely no drive or regard for structured education. He was in the gifted program, but barely passed, yet he blew his SATs out of the water. My first response was a sarcastic "great!" Then Rob said, "I bet he's a very interesting adult. Besides, I doubt he had a hard assed mother like you. You'll keep her in line."

The more I think about it, I think she came here from Planet Silly to loosen us up. Otherwise we'd be sitting around exchanging sarcastic quips then going right back to our books or computer. Alone, but separate. Lily unites us in wacky sweetness. I laugh at least a dozen times a day. She is unleashed joy. Maybe we'll just work on the comedic chops. She already has bunny ears. What do you think of getting her an fake arrow through the head?

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Our lives are full of transition right now. Both girls and I getting ready to start brand new lives in the fall and are getting ready to end our old ones this week.

Next year I will be teaching first grade. I have taught special education for 15 years. So much of my identity is wrapped up in being a special education teacher. I am excited about the change, but will miss so much of my old position. I wrote my last IEP this week and teared up on the way home. I know there is a class of 23 children waiting for my love and attention and all will be fine. I'll just miss my LD kiddos. The thought of someone else working with them makes me sad.

In two days Caroline will graduate from 5th grade. I can't believe she'll be in sixth grade. i was looking at the middle school website and couldn't believe how old the eighth graders looked. That will be her in three short years. She's had a rough year and I know this is just the tip of the iceberg. I know how amazing she is, but for some reason, she is a teasing magnet. She is so much like me. The difference is I can stand by her and help her stay strong and true to who she is. It will be strange for her to be at a school where I don't know everyone, but it will be good for both of us. She signed up for band and is very excited. She also has a week long orientation. That should help too.

Lily will be going to a brand new daycare/preschool in August. She has been with the same sitter since she was 7 months old. My sitter won't be watching kids next year, so we had to find a new place. I love the place we chose. it is brand new and right down the street. I'm sure she'll love it and they will love her (it's kind of hard not to). Right now, she's very excited, but I'm sure they'll be some tears in August.

For the time being, we have an entire lazy summer to look forward to. Lots of pool and library. We have two whole months to get ready for a new adventure and rest up from this one.

Monday, June 1, 2009


I was all set to write an uplifting post about the beauty of spring, the moving towards peacefulness. Then I got a phone call from my girl scout co-leader. The three year old brother of one of our girls drown in their pool this weekend. My heart breaks for this family. It was simply an accident. How often around here have we narrowly avoided tragedy? Almost daily.

I was going to pontificate and philosophize more, but I'll leave it at this. Hug your children. I going to go sit in my favorite chair and listen to Lily tease her Daddy instead of going to sleep.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


I had a really bad week. Not my usual "I've over scheduled again and wacky high jinks abound" kind of week. It's been the kind of week that leaves you completely drained.

I've been spending a great deal of time at school on the receiving of the justifiable fury of a small child. It's not due to me, but I'm here to catch it. I'm mentally and physically sore. I'm also furious. I've encountered so many children this year who've had to deal with situations they are too young to understand. I feel like the adults in their lives have let them down. If I were these kids, I'd be pissed too. And confused. And scared.

Adults, all of them, have a responsibility to take care of those who are helpless (children, animals, the elderly, the mentally impaired). We have that responsibility because we are members of the human race and residents of the planet Earth. It's really that simple.

All I can do is listen to these kids and hold them, dodge blows, and help them learn to calm down. I have to keep emotion out of it, until I can go to my car and cry.

Then I go home and I'm Mom. I make sandwiches for the preschool picnic, help make a Narnia dioramas, take long walks with Caroline to the honeysuckle bush, referee petty fights and tantrums, do laundry, make dinner and take long showers. At night when everyone is asleep I slip into bed and cry some more.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Dear Everybody,

I am writing to gently request that you stop filling my daughter's head with conflicting and confusing information. I haven't met you yet, but I am sure that you are a very nice young lady. Nonetheless, I would like you to please keep your opinions to yourself.

Your information is often incorrect. For example, the swine flu was not caused by "Some dude from California who ate rotten pig in Mexico." This false information lead to an entire evening of researching and reassuring on our part. I'm sure that you can see how frustrating this would be.

I understand that your mother feels that stilettos and highlights are perfect accessories for an 11 year old. I on the other hand would like my daughter to be able to walk when she is in her 30's and don't want her to fall and break her neck now. How in the world do you play kick ball in those things? As for highlights, well relax you have years of messing with hair dye. Just let the sun do it now. While we are talking about fashion, are those skinny jeans really comfortable? isn't your belly cold from hanging out of that shirt?

I am sure that you think that Twilight is the best book ever written, but would you please let my daughter make up her own mind. Watching a movie does not make you an expert on a book. I like the fact that Caroline choosing her books based on what she likes and not what everyone wants to read.

I am sure that you don't think that I am the "meanest mother ever" (contrary to popular opinion). I would like to wish you all the best.

Thank you,
Mrs. Simpson

Friday, May 8, 2009

Of Two Minds

I have always been a great fan of childhood. I love children's literature, movies, music. All of it. I look back on the entertainment of my childhood with great fondness. I think we children of the 70's feel that we had the last era of technology-free/light entertainment. We lived before videos games and VCR, DVDs, well you get my drift.

I remember loving my records and playing them for hours. My children's lives are too filled with buzz to appreciate records. I have thought of getting rid of the TV and computer, but I like having those things. There are advantages to what they have available as well. Anyway, I'm getting off topic. My point is that I am able to introduce my kids to my records through the car. My step father transferred my records to CD and we have been having a ball. Lily is now in love with Really Rosie. She has the Nutshell collection and follows along with the songs (I used to do that!). We have been dancing all over singing Chicken Soup with Rice, Alligators All Around, Pierre, and One Was Johnny (boy can I relate to Johnny).

This led me to a computer search on Maurice Sendak (see, can't live without the computer). A great deal has been written about the gritty and violent themes in his books. Parents are horrified, but children love them. I often wonder if I shelter my girls too much. One time I heard Pete Seeger talking about the violence in some folk music. He explained that children are stronger than we think. They understand more and really don't need to be sheltered from things like death and sadness. Is letting my girls read Where The Wild Things worse than letting them play video games? Children seem to be drawn toward violence. They aren't always the sweet happy little things we think they are. They get mad, they think slightly evil thoughts ("I'll eat you up!") and they aren't wrong for that. Maybe if we acknowledge that and address it with them, they can learn to control it sooner.

Sometimes, when no one is watching I try out some of the odd things my kids and students do. Guess what? It feels pretty cool to spin in circle over and over. Shaking your head side to side really does seem to focus you (stop before you get a headache, though). Jumping up and down and yelling really does release a lot of tension. Maybe grown ups need tantrum rooms. Maybe I'm over thinking this. What I am going to do read Where the Wild Things Are to Lily tonight. She is after all so close to Max. I can't wait for the movie to come out. I think I may even look for In The Night Kitchen. Maybe we need to tap into our inner wild things a little more. ROAR!

Mother's Day

I have been thinking about my grandmothers a lot lately. Well, I pretty much think about them daily. It's been a little over two years since I lost them ( a month apart). I used to call them when I was making dinner and share all of my crazy Caroline stories (once upon a time she was a wild child too). I still find myself picking up the phone to share Lily stories. Maybe that is part of the reason that I started this blog. I don't know. It was such a comfort to talk to them while doing the mundane daily tasks of motherhood. It was also an ego boost. They both had very different personalities. My Gramma Runion was very down to earth and sweet with a sharp sense of humor. It didn't take much to tickle her and make her chuckle. My Gramma Hill was a little harder around the edges. She could have a sharp tongue and short temper, but not with me. She was also the best at sharing the latest gossip. Admit it, who doesn't love some gossip?Despite the differences, they both had this in common: they were proud of me.

They had both been stay at home mothers when their children were young and both of them always expressed amazement at my ability to juggle work and children. "I don't know how you young mothers do it now" I heard this often. Could they look through the phone and see me picking up a toy with me feet, while stirring something on the stove, while doing the dishes? All I know is that when I felt like I was losing my mind, I could call one of them and they'd always make me feel better.

I could tell them funny stories about the kids or share a new book title. They both loved to read and every time I came across a new really nice book, I'd recommend it. Although, they both weren't oppossed to a juicy romance novel (Gramma Hill said it spiced things up a bit), they shared my love of nice stories with happy endings. Right now I am reading the perfect book for them. Standing in the Rainbow by Fannie Flagg. I really wish that I could give them this book. Gramma Hill would love it and the stories and memories that it would spark. I can just picture us sitting on her porch sitting in her wicker chairs gossiping about when she was young and first in love. Gramma Runion would have loved it too, but I think she'd love Can't Wait for Heaven (Fannie Flagg again) more. The character grew up on a farm just like her and was just as strong in her faith.

I was very lucky to have my grandmothers for my best friends. I talk to my other friends about their grandmas and they don't seem to have the shared stories or interests. I really did enjoy sitting and chatting with them. Everyday I hear something on the news that would intrigue them, although honestly most of it would make them sad. I save up the motivating stories and tell them to Caroline. She usually agrees with me that they would love them too.

Most of what I learned about being a mother, I learned from them. They taught me to cook, bake, be patient, and have fun. I do wish they could be here to see how wonderful it all is. How beautiful Caroline is (inside and out) and how sharp and funny Lily is. I would love to have told them about Caroline's first heels or Lily's salty language (they weren't the kind of grammas to be offended by a little swearing).

Can they see it all? I don't know. Maybe this summer, while I'm sitting on the porch in my very own wicker chair (my Mother's Day present from Rob), they'll be listening in. Listeing while I tell my own tales and their tales to my girls. Listening to us joke around and "gossip" (tame stuff of course). Listening while I teach my girls everything they taught me.

Monday, May 4, 2009


I know that I've said this before, but some days Caroline leaves me in awe. She goes from gangling woman-child to complete goofball in minutes. When I am well rested and not too stressed it is a wonderful ride. Add a little stress and exhaustion and it feel like I fell down the rabbit hole to a place that makes no sense.

Last weekend she helped run a booth for her bronze award. The troop was teaching children how to be bite free. Caroline was in her element. She walked kids through the steps and explained everything to the parents like a pro. I always wanted to raise children who could speak coherently to adults. Yes!

This past Sat it was older scout skate night from 7:00-12:00 (am). I devoted mom and leader, stayed most of the night. My co leader and I were working on packets for our upcoming beach trip (we might be a little too involved with our troop, nah). I needed more envelopes and decide to run out to Target. As i was dashing through the rain to my car, I thought about how old Caroline is getting and how she really didn't need me around all the time. Of course, when I got back, she was standing by the snack bar crying. She'd fallen and couldn't find me (she really fell hard, her knees look like purple grapefruit). I could tell that she really wanted to go home, so I let her sit with me for awhile.

After she'd calmed down I offered to go out with her. I skated next to her as she slowly crept along the wall. As we skated under the disco ball listening to 80's tunes, I regaled her with embarrassing stories from my youth (there are enough to fill a book). I told her about how when I was eight, I fell on the ice and went across half the rink on my face. I made her laugh when I explained how my friend greeted my mom at the door and said "Don't worry Dene, it's not as bad as she looks.

I also told her about the time that I went roller skating with my best friend when I was 13. She'd done my makeup and I thought I looked perfect. When I was skating two boys tripped me and I fell into the wall. I cried so hard my mascara ran all down my face.

Caroline laughed and then was so surprised that I wasn't embarrassed. Before long she was skating slowly, but without holding onto the sides. Sometimes life really does work out like a Hallmark commercial. After three times around the rink, my arches were killing me and I decided to get off. Caroline spent the rest of the night skating with her friends. Toward the end I peeked out on the rink and saw her right in the middle, dancing and laughing with her friends.
She said that it was the best night. I'd have to agree.