Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mommy camp bites. Unless it's for Mommy.

My kids are anti-camp. They’ve done them; Jack’s done sports camps and Caroline has gone to a day camp at my old high school and they’ve liked them, but never loved them. So this spring, when I asked about camps, I got an emphatic “No!”

I never liked camp, either, so I can relate. It seemed like school to me, which means my school rocked or my camp sucked…never did figure it out.

Anyway, school got out and we did the amusement park for a day. Then we left for eight days of vacation. That means we are officially only on the fifth day of summer at home.

In those five days, Whit has played golf twice. Whit thinks summer is wonderful.

Me? Well…I’ve been with the kids. At Mommy Camp.

We’ve done snow-cone stands and made cookies. We’ve picked blueberries and gotten super soakers. We’ve been to the pool. Caroline got braces on her teeth. We’ve gone to the farmer’s market. We’ve had a zillion (not an exaggeration) kids over here for a mud obstacle course (don’t ask). We’ve played Set and Operation and Life and tic-tac-toe. We’ve read books and gone to parks and played kickball and soccer. We’ve watched movies and made pancakes and run errands. We’ve hosted a neighborhood slip-n-slide event.


I’m exhausted.

On Facebook, friends keep posting things about sewing labels in clothes and dropping kids at sleepaway camp and getting all their errands done by noon and having cocktails at 5:00.

What could I post? Here’s a sample: “Didn’t sleep more than 45 minutes at a time last night because of Whit’s snoring, Jack’s idea that sleeping is boring, Caroline’s nightmare and subsequent refusal to go back in her room and the diarrhea that struck the dog every hour. Finally pried tired and crabby children away from inappropriate television program this morning. Offered three fun activities that they hated. Listened to an hour-long litany on how this is the worst summer ever (since vacation, they note). Dragged them to the pool, got sunscreen in their eyes, watched them belly flop off the diving board and cry. Came home, made dinner, argued over bedtime and television and watched the clock until I could have a glass of wine. Punched my husband when he asked how my day was.”

Isn’t there a mommy camp FOR mommies? With pedicures and lunch and wine and good books and massages and friends? Can’t they drop me off somewhere at 9 and pick me up at 4?

A working friend said yesterday, “I’m too mean to be a stay-at-home mom.”

I hear you, sister.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Who needs enemies?

This is the email I received from a very funny friend in response to yesterday's post:

"Yo fat ass...I like big butts and I cannot lie....

Laughing hysterically over your blog piece today. Whit doesn't stand a chance.

'Thick' what a great word. Thick, I love it.

Okay, have I just buried myself as well???

Hugs (but my arms don't go all the way around)."

I told her I would punish her publicly. She told me she had never before had the opportunity to type the words "fat ass" and couldn't resist.

Oh, sometimes a good email will stay with you for a while. This one still has me laughing. At least I was decent enough to omit her (very unique) name.

(But not decent enough to not tell you it's a spice you use to make houses during the holidays. So there!)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The moment of truth. And despair.

If you start reading this and think, “Wow, I just can’t relate,” then please stop reading it. Because I hate you. Seriously.

That means you, skinny sister of mine. That means you, friend who got a boob job so her waist would look smaller.

Yo-yo friend who has gained a little weight since last summer? Keep reading. You’re okay.

This is the thing. I have said it before – I am not fat, I am not skinny. I am healthy. I’m pretty strong, I’m a pretty fast runner, my cholesterol is excellent. (Weirdly excellent; my doctor always hugs me and gets teary over my lipid profile, and this isn’t the doctor friend of mine. It would even be weird if my friend got teary over just about anything physical with me.) I’ve been built the same way for a long time, and yes, I can gain or lose some weight, but basically I always look pretty much the same. And I’ve never been fat.

Or so I thought.

Until my (ridiculously skinny, bikini-wearing-all-the-time-probably-even-to-church) sister–in-law (not the good hugger. This one is nicer than the good hugger but her hugs, frankly, are a little lacking) sent some pictures from the beach. Out of 300, most are really great. Cute pictures of the kids, some good family pictures. And one picture of me, standing on the beach, from behind.

Well, damnit, why didn’t anyone ever TELL me I have a fat ass?

How am I supposed to know that if no one tells me? I don’t have a hall of mirrors in my house. I know I have big boobs, because I can SEE them. But that gigantic butt? Wow. Never knew.

(Thanks for the stupid picture. I thought I was getting over my midlife crisis and you plunged me right back into it. Skinny stinker.)

So I asked Whit.

“Am I fat?”

Wary look as he gauged where I was going.

“No.” (Okay, decisive enough, quick enough, I believe him.)

“Do I look fatter than normal?”

(I can see him thinking, “Oh, shit, don’t I have to get to work?”)

Deep breath. “You’re not fat, and you don’t look fatter than normal.”

“Have the body pump classes at the gym made me thick?”

Enthusiastic, encouraged that he might be almost done, looking as hopeful as a kid who just knows he has the right answer in math class:

“Not at all!”

Good boy.

“You know, you’ve always been a little thick through your hips and thighs. Body pump has nothing to do with it.”

Oh, no.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. Should’ve quit while you were still alive.

I wheeled around. Shouting. (Okay, fine, just in my head.)

“Hips and thighs, Whit? Well, hmm, guess those thick hips came in handy when I was BIRTHING YOUR CHILDREN. Think that nine-pounder could have survived in a waif’s womb? No siree. Jerk.”

Then I thought, “Oh my God, is my only defense that I have good CHILDBEARING hips? That’s supposed to make me feel better? Perhaps if I was still bearing children, but I’m not, so now they’re just wide.”

Total despair. Even if the picture lied, Whit didn’t. And giant Jack’s healthy existence doesn’t.

Now I’m depressed about my thickness. But I didn’t eat breakfast before I got depressed, so now I’m hungry.


Today’s not off to a great start.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Can I get some fried Pepto Bismol with that?

There is a vacation memory that won’t leave me, in a physical, sensory way.

Is it the feeling of careening over the waves, practically experiencing flight (and death) when Whit made me try the boogie board for the first time in an insanely wild ocean?


Is it the memory of the oddly excellent goodbye hug from one of my sisters-in-law? (Odd because she doesn’t really like me, or anyone, but she gives these great, enveloping hugs. Maybe she’s saying, “That’s it; that’s all you’ll ever get from me.” Or maybe she’s saying, “Thank God I don’t have to see you for a full year.” But whatever the reason, they’re lovely hugs.)


You want to know what it is?

It’s the dinner we had the last night on the island.

At a steam bar.

Where nothing was steamed.

Want to know what was on our table? This is a totally accurate list:

Fried hush puppies
Fried calamari
Fried onion rings
Fried flounder
Fried cod
Fried shrimp
Fried oysters
French fries


Not yuck then, but yuck ever since then.

Maybe there was a salad on the menu, but I didn’t see it. The only healthy option I can remember is that I could have sucked on the lemon that came with the shrimp.

I didn’t even do that.

And, don’t get me wrong, it tasted g-o-o-d. Really good. Maybe because I never, ever eat fried food, unless I’m stealing a French fry from the kids. And maybe because we had pretty healthy food the rest of the week: our grill was fired up regularly. Or maybe because my body knew it was the last night of vacation and was saying, “Woo hoo, we don’t have to wear a bathing suit tomorrow!”

Regardless. That was Friday night. It’s Monday. It’s still with me.

Literally, people, I am burping fried shrimp, three days later.

I have tried to undo it all. I have tried drinking water and milk (and just a tiny bit of wine). I have tried eating salads; I have tried eating apples; I have tried eating nothing.

I have taken vitamins and laxatives. I have gone for runs and walked the dog and have a 5:45 am body pump class on my schedule for tomorrow. It’s just not working. I am at a complete loss when it comes to getting rid of the fried city that has taken up residence in my stomach.

Would it be sacrilegious to call a priest and schedule an exorcism?

Would it be asking her to break the Hippocratic Oath if I offered my doctor friend a really good bottle of wine to operate on me?

Would it be a little too bulimic if I made myself barf?

Would it be weird if I googled Wiccan remedies for upset stomachs? (Really; I tried it – you can do that.) (Who knew?)

I guess since I’m not sacrilegious or unethical or bulimic or Wiccan, I just have to keep plodding along with my water and my grapes and my running and maybe add in a little deep breathing.

And remember to bring my own side salad if we go back to that place next year.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


It won't shock anyone who knows me (or who doesn't but who reads this blog and avoids meeting me because they've decided I'm nuts) that, after making Jack "hold it" for a good twenty miles so we could get home, I jumped out of the car, keys in hand to let him in the house, and got completely absorbed in my garden on the way. I ooohed and aaahed and PICKED A CHERRY TOMATO TO EAT (...and the crowd goes wild! Victory!) and noted the climbing cucumbers and was so absorbed that the child almost wet his pants and was practically crying. Finally, Whit, who drove for hours and hours and hours and was very nudgy, screamed (a little aggressively), "HONEY! LET HIM IN THE HOUSE BEFORE HE PEES ON YOUR TOMATOES!!!"

Not nice, but he definitely fought fire with fire. And gave Jack a dangerous, dangerous idea.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

We are family, and then some

Last night my sister-in-law and I were watching all the kids on the beach. We remarked that it was great to see my little barnacle jumping in and playing soccer (playing well; thanks, coach Whit!) with his uber-athletic sixteen-year-old cousin from California. We talked about how Caroline was really able to hang out with the "big kids" in the big waves for the first time this year, and about how we had watched these kids grow up, year upon year, at the same time (now) and in the same place (here).

I was sitting on this same beach ten years ago, blissfully reading, uninterrupted, when parents would be dragged in for nap time and they'd look at unencumbered me with envy. Then I was here with baby Caroline, and then here pregnant with Jack, and various people have been here without a child one year and then a newborn the next, and we've all been exhausted and not drinking wine and up all night with kids, and then we all had front row seats as newborns turned into toddlers and all the joy and frustration of those years came with them. We saw the screaming when the now (calm and happy) 11 year old gave up her pacifier, or the darker years when one (incredibly brilliant and successful) now college student was filled with teenage angst. It's all unfolded in their lives, and we've seen it as it's happened, here.

So that made me think about traditions, and how important they are in our family. This beach vacation is a tradition for five families and not one of them/us could do without it. It is so heavily laden with memories (both Caroline and Jack learned to swim in the pool here) that we can't take one, single step in the sand without a story or a memory rushing in.

Beyond this, we have other traditions that aren't so dramatic but that are still important. Our children have never had a Christmas Eve without a big party at our house, and it stresses me out and costs a fortune and every year I say I'll never do it again and that's all part of the tradition that probably won't end until I'm dead.

Whit plays snapping turtle with the kids at least a few times a week…it's some crazy/hilarious/probably dangerous game they made up years and years and years ago. I make a really special treat we share with our neighbors every year, on the first day of school. The Easter Bunny winds a labyrinth of colored string throughout our entire house while we sleep unaware, so the kids have to complete a veritable obstacle course to find their baskets. The fourth of July means the same event every year. And, if you've read this for a while, you know all about St. Patrick's Day and those crazy leprechauns. We share many traditions with friends and family, but they're pretty much all about Jack and Caroline and making their lives magical.

When Jack and Caroline grow up and look back at their childhoods, I hope at least one chapter is devoted to our family traditions. The lot of them is uniquely ours: others may do pajamas on Valentine's Day or get doughnuts after church or walk the dog together on summer nights, but when you take our million little threads and our million little traditions and our million little stories and just the way we do things as a family, and you weave them together, you get a totally unique, totally quirky, totally weird family. And I guess that's what we all do, in different ways.

Even my friend who revels in the fact that the most consistent thing in her parenting is its absolutely predictable inconsistency has a family so tightly woven together it's as if they move as a single unit. She may not do the same things year after year after year, but her nutty, go-with-the-wind parenting style is exactly the thread that holds her family together and gives it substance. My favorite single mom has two boys who will be absolutely devastated to someday learn that the Birthday Monster is a very tired single mom trying to hang streamers from a very high ceiling at a very late hour two times a year. It never looks the same, from family to family.

It's not a bad exercise, you know. Just to take a moment and list your family traditions, or list the touchstones that matter so much to your family. No matter what your family looks like, you have those touchstones, and shining a light on them, even just in your own mind, gives them weight and strength. And reminds you that yes, you're doing it right.

Which is why we're leaving now…twilight cookout. Yup, you guessed it, it's a tradition. And I wouldn't miss it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

33°51′43″N 77°59′24″W

Today we did something really fun and totally different. Yes, we were on the beach, and yes, we've seen countless families of deer mommies and babies, both of which have made today interesting. But after lunch, the kids and Whit and my MIL and I piled into the golf cart, picked up a pre-loaded GPS and followed the coordinates of the GPS to answer trivia questions. We drove all over the island for two hours and answered 12 questions: some serious, some quirky and fun, and some silly. Finding the answers led us way, way out on a pier over translucent blue waters, hiking through a literal jungle to find out what a Quercus virginiana was, spotting alligators trying to eat yellow-bellied sliders (trying to avoid the pintail fish feeding on the algae of the turtles), and climbing to the top of a lighthouse for nine birds-eye views of the island. We were limited to four hours, and when we finished, we returned to the store so they could check our answers. Imagine the thrill for the kids when they got all twelve answers right and were rewarded with a shiny trophy proclaiming them "2011 GPS champions."

Now we're just taking a quick break at the pool and then we're headed out for cocktails on the beach with The Cousins -- our house and the other house, which is filled with two of Whit's four sisters and all their kids. We all get dressed nicely, bring cocktails and appetizers on the beach, take some nice family pictures (and hopefully get at least one good Christmas-card picture), and then feign horror as all of our well-dressed, showered children plunge back into the ocean in their clothes. The whole event is a great tradition, though I admit to some public discomfort when my children tell people one of their favorite things to do on vacation is have cocktails on the beach!

Monday, June 20, 2011

It all started with the fish

Okay, so here I am, on vacation. Well, literally, I'm sitting in a clubhouse with a glass of wine and an Internet connection, which is a little harder to come by on an island than you'd think. Or maybe it's exactly as hard as you'd think. And my sister's laptop, that she really, really nicely lent me after I accidentally spent the money I was saving for an iPad. Which turns out to be a good thing because I wasn't going to get the 3G one, and if I got the lesser of the two I'd still be sitting here in the clubhouse because that thing wouldn't have gotten a connection, either. Anyway, I digress.

Because this blog serves dual purposes (almost a diary for me and hopefully occasionally some entertainment for you), I thought I'd give you my top-five-list-so-far. You know how it is on vacation; a million little things happen, and it's almost sensory overload to process all of them. So this is me processing the first few days at the beach.

1. Jack went fishing with Whit and caught a gigantic flounder. Literally; I think we can eat it for dinner. That little boy was so proud of himself that he's been beaming for four hours. (And trash talking his dad, who's never caught a flounder. Or much of anything. So it's an ongoing source of amusement for me to listen to them.)

(Caroline asked if the fish was dead or alive. It's sitting in a cooler in our house, so it's not alive, but Jack insisted it was. When the truth finally sank in, he looked at me with visible disappointment and said, "Ew, Mom, what am I going to do with a dead fish??" Obviously he doesn't get the whole circle of life thing.)

2. Caroline paddling out to her Uncle Steve on a boogie board, and then Steve lifting Caroline and the board over the crashing waves until they got to a good spot, and then watching as he gave her a good push at exactly the right moment and I could stand on the beach and watch her little face careening in with the surf. If I could bottle that joy and give it back to her when life really starts to suck, I would. It's pure happiness.

3. Whit mooning me. Really. It's his thing. He does it all the time, whether he beats me at a board game or wants to make me laugh when I'm on the's just some fraternity-boy part of him that was never completely exorcised. It's weird, but it's funny and he's not editing my blog posts so I can say it.

4. Sitting on the porch, looking at the ocean and the sunset and talking to my in-laws, who really defy the stereotype of meddling, boring, antiquated in-laws. They're funny and smart and they've known me for 17 years and they know my whole family and my whole life so it's just like visiting friends when we sit around and chat.

5. Stealing away before dinner last night and going for a walk on the beach with Whit. Yes, I love walking on the beach with him at any time, but last night was really great because I found two whole, perfect sand dollars. We've come here for 13 summers and only once before has anyone found a perfect sand dollar, and Caroline (who was four) broke it instantly. I found two, one for each kid, and I was hopping up and down and hooting like a monkey because I was so excited. (Yes, monkeys hoot. Go to the zoo and listen to them sometime.)

Okay, there's one more thing: the slow pace of life here. And I mean literally slow; the only motorized vehicles are golf carts, and you could be having a heart attack -- or a baby, or a stroke -- and you'd hit a hill and just automatically drop into some low gear and chug, chug, chug up the hill. There's no aggressive driving because no one can go faster than the mandated speed governors on the carts. There aren't even any speed limit signs (or any lifeguards, for that matter; it's pretty hard to find any rules to break around here). It's a vacation that forces you to slow down, take a look at the flowers and the ocean, wave at the golf cart people going in the other direction and just stop stressing. Because, really, you just can't go any faster, no matter how hurried you are. And I'm generally pretty hurried.

So that's it. Some crummy things have happened, too (I can't stand people who portray their lives as perfect at all times), some rejections of some things I've written, some funky family dynamics and some traffic that was so bad it made my hair itch, but those things pale in comparison to the five (six?) I've listed above.

Yup, my life will go back to its stressful self soon enough. But for now, I'll drink my wine, enjoy my family and count my blessings.

Friday, June 17, 2011

What was I thinking??

And by that I mean what the HELL was I thinking, on many occasions?

First of all, Caroline’s (bleeping) Brownie troop decided on a (bleeping) group trip to a (bleeping) amusement park today. I didn’t go to many as a kid (and have never stepped foot in Disney World) and don’t *love* amusement parks but enjoy them with the kids, so we said we’d go.

Even though the park is two hours away. Even though we need to wake up at 5 am tomorrow to go on our vacation. Even though we’re not packed.
(That’s “what the hell was I thinking” number one.)

So we get a late start but get about halfway there. When I remember I forgot the tickets. Which were part of the group sales so I can’t even prove I bought them so they can reprint them. Which means we have to turn around. Which means no one in the car will talk to me. (That’s “what the hell was I thinking” number two AND “how the hell could I be so stupid.”) (By the way, you’d already know this if you followed me on Twitter. I now love Twitter. And sometimes I say funny things on it.)

I let Jack go on a huge roller coaster with Caroline, Whit and Caroline's friend. I don't even think he knew he was going on it; he had his head down slurping an Icee and he just kept walking. Let's just say he is severely traumatized and tried to crawl in Whit's lap the whole time. (Number three. Really. What the hell was I thinking? He's scared of flies; how could I send him on a rickety roller coaster?? Dumb.)

Then the dog doesn’t get picked up by the kennel and is left out in our back yard for five hours (during which it thunderstorms) and I can’t answer the phone and tell the kennel people he’s in the back yard and they can take him because my stupid phone’s battery died because I was so busy texting so Caroline could find all her friends. (Yup, another “what the hell was I thinking.” Number three? Four? Even I lose count.)

So…we get home, deal with the dog’s PTSD, feed and bathe the children and start packing. It’s now almost ten p.m. And I realize that every time I’ve asked Caroline to come with me to get her hair cut, she’s said, “Not today.” But she looks like Rapunzel with really, really bad split ends. And now there’s no place to take her. So I decide I’m going to cut her hair. (That’s my last “what the hell was I thinking.” Because I’ve never cut hair before, unless you count twisting my bangs into a point and whacking at them with manicure scissors when I was in high school.)

Oh, that poor kid. I used my wrapping paper scissors, which are the only alternative to kiddie safety scissors and butcher knives in this house. I really tried to do it right. I’ve watched people cut my hair a zillion times. But I learned that a couple of clips scattered haphazardly over someone’s head does not make me a stylist. It looks like a rat chewed her hair. It’s not even, it’s not all actually cut (she got upset while there were still some long strands mixed in and I gave up) and, truth be told, it’s above her shoulders on the right side and below her shoulders on the left. She looks like Victoria Beckham if Victoria Beckham was a homeless person. A drunk homeless person.

Poor Caroline tried really hard to not be completely insulting, even though I clearly deserved it: “Mommy, it’s not that I don’t like it, it’s just that it’s really short and it’s really not even and it doesn’t even go into a ponytail and it really won’t grow back very fast…” And, because I am a smart-ass, I just said, “Well, the next time I suggest we go somewhere to get your hair cut professionally, I suggest you just agree with me.”

Oh, good Lord, this day has just got to end. But it won’t. Ever. Until maybe 5 am. Because I have to do laundry and pack and marinate shrimp and maybe take an online course in how to cut hair. And maybe buy Caroline a headband or two. Then I’ll rest.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Okay, bring it on.

I just said goodbye to a kindergartener and a third grader, and I have it on pretty good authority that they will pass those grades, so in a few hours I will say hello to a first grader and a fourth grader.

Does anyone else get melancholy on the last day of school?

I’m excited; don’t get me wrong. I love summer. I love the beach and the pool and the lemonade stands and the bike rides and the pancake breakfasts. I love traveling and playing with the kids. It’s a great time of year.

And I’m proud of those guys, and I’m thankful I have kids that are exactly the way they are. I think they each had an amazing year. They’re proud of themselves and are ready to move on.

But it’s the same thing I keep writing about. I want them to grow up and not grow up at the same time. Kindergarten will be in our family’s rear view mirror, and middle school is what we’ll be seeing out the front window.

That’s too fast. I’m not done with these guys being little. I’m not done being called “Mommy” and being hugged and kissed every day. I’m not done with those “scratch my back” requests; frankly; I’m not even totally done with kids jumping in our bed in the middle of the night because of a bad dream or they’re cold or, in Jack’s case, because “sleeping is boring.”

They change every day, I know that. I celebrate that. But today is concrete evidence they’re growing up. I celebrate that, too. But I get a little wistful that we’re all racing through their childhoods, not because we’re trying, but just because that’s the pace of our lives.

Well, now I’ve had my moment (thanks for indulging me) and I am prepared to greet summer with the same enthusiasm I’ll see from them when the school doors open this afternoon. So bring on the beach and the pool and (ooohhhh) the margaritas and the fun.

I’m ready.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Heaven in a little brown box

School gets out tomorrow and by Saturday we will be off on our annual beach vacation with Whit’s family. This trip, which is on a (what could be considered) remote island, requires lots of packing and planning, particularly if you’re committed to brands like I am and will insist on Charmin toilet paper or Bounty paper towels. Slim pickins on the island, so you get it here and haul it there.

Anyway, one big luxury for me on this annual trip is that I get to read. I like to read – a lot – and would rather read than watch television or even sometimes sit around and talk. There’s a bookwormy hermit buried deep inside my manically social self, and the beach is where I can abandon my happy children to their dad (who thinks it’s a treat to spend a week playing with them) and my in-laws (ditto). I play with them all the time, so it’s not as rare an occurrence for me, and I can enjoy a little bit of Julie time.

So another bookwormy hermit friend (hello, Chrissy!) gave a book five stars and an amazingly glowing review on I looked it up on Amazon, and all I saw was the length (576 pages) before my heart started palpitating and I was short of breath. YES!!! A TOME for the beach, and one that promises to be, if not five stars, at least interesting. She’s got good taste, so I don’t even care what it’s about. I ordered it.

And I just got it. That brown box…that shrink wrap… I am giddy with the promise it holds. I know when I turn those pages I’ll be sitting on the beach at one of my favorite places on the planet. I know I’ll be relaxed, I know I’ll be with my family and people I really love, I know I’ll have a glass of wine next to me and I know I’ll be completely engrossed, entertained and transported to a different place and time. I can’t wait.

On one level, it’s pretty pathetic that I am so over-the-top excited about a single book. But, those of you who get really excited to hear there’s a new Ann Patchett novel or love to peruse the NY Times Bestseller List will completely understand why this is a pretty exciting purchase for me.

Stay tuned. I'll let you know if it lives up to the hype.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The proof is in the toes

Dear Caroline,

By the time you find this blog in the obscure world of the Internet, I will have succumbed to some random cancer/been run over by a truck/been beaten down by the stress of daily living. Because never, in a million living years, do I want you to read this and be exposed to my bad language and inappropriate jokes. Or to the fact that I often throw you under the bus because it’s funny. At least not while I’m alive and can be riddled with guilt.

Anyway, sweetie, you often tell me that I’m a bad mom. The worst, in fact. You tell me that all your friends have nicer moms, and that I never pay attention to you, and that I only pay attention to Jack.

So, I have this to say to you. Miss Caroline, was it the neighbor’s mom who grabbed you (not Jack) out of your (boring) music class for pre-beach manicures and pedicures today? I think not, missy. It was me. Super Mom, did you say? Why, thank you. I’ll take it.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Say it ain't so....

So the soccer season ended Saturday, mercifully. Or perhaps I should say "mercilessly" seeing as the girls didn't win one, single game. They tied quite a few, so Caroline chalked those up as wins, but they really ended the season with a big fat zero. To be fair, I am convinced our team was the only one raised on organic milk: every other girl on every other team looked like they had been held back and they really belonged in fifth grade. They towered over our girls.

But, if you read the Coach Dad post in which I predicted a "flaming, detonating disaster of gigantic proportions," you will suddenly label me a psychic. Because this is the picture that best sums up Whit's coaching experience:

It was bad.

My very mild-mannered, calm husband was a flippin' lunatic on the sidelines. He jogged back and forth, screamed plays and advice constantly (usually helpful, though I swear I once heard, "DO YOU EVEN KNOW HOW TO RUN????" screamed at one particularly immobile girl), grabbed his heart for effect often and hopped up and down like Tigger to convey his frustration and/or excitement. Now, to be fair, he also tied shoelaces, adjusted ponytails and poured cold water on sweaty heads when they requested it -- but mainly, he was like an NFL coach in a MyGym play session. His level of coaching was just, well, intense.

I am biased, but I think he did a fantastic job. They scored, just not enough to win. He taught them strategies that worked when they would implement them. (Jack would hang out with Whit and then go to his kindergarten games and yell, "Get wide! Man on!" to his very bewildered teammates.) But really, he almost gave himself a heart attack. And he never once experienced the thrill of third-grade victory. As I saw it, all he ever did was yell at these girls, get himself worked up and then get pissed. At everyone. Even me.

So when we were done with the last loss (ahem, I mean game), and we were eating bagels and doughnuts and Whit was handing out trophies, I finally breathed a sigh of relief.

It was over. No more girls complaining that they were too tired to run, no more Whit complaining that the girls wouldn't run/listen/execute/stay with the ball, no more buggy, sticky, humid games.

Whew. We had made it. Whit had coached, Caroline had loved it, Jack was the best player on his kindergarten team, and my friends were still speaking to me in spite of my husband yelling at their daughters. Over. Done. Never again.

Until Whit said to one girl, "Excellent offensive work this season. I know exactly where I'm putting you next season."


Not again.....

I can't take it. He can't take it. He'll detonate if he does it again. I'll detonate if he does it again. I can't take one more losing season of Whit acting possessed.

But I might just have to.

If you can't find me in the fall, look under my bed. I'll just hide until it's over.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

'Til death do us part. Really? Do we have to?

I have a friend whose husband lost his job about a month ago. It was a golden-parachute job loss, so nobody is a disaster over there…in fact, this guy now spends his day fixing things and doing yard work. Very, very happily.

This is the evolution of conversations with his peppy, optimistic wife:

Day 1: “It’s take-your-kids-to-work day. Boy, wouldn’t it have been funny if he did that on the day he got fired???” (Laugh laugh laugh laugh laugh.)

Day 5: “Yup, he’s doing a lot around the house. It’s great.” (Slightly forced smile.)

Day 10: “He’s still really busy, but always AROUND THE HOUSE. I kind of feel squeezed out of my normal routine.” (Yeah, getting edgy.)

Day 15: “I went on a really long run, just to be by myself. I couldn’t stop. I was gone for three hours. I can’t walk.” (Looking very pained.)

Day 18: “Know anybody looking for a CEO? I’ve got one. You can have him.” (Sort of a manic look in her eyes.)

Day 20: “Do you have any wine that’s already cold? I don’t want to wait for mine to chill.” (Pleading look.)

Day 25: “Vodka?” (Desperate look.)

And today…”Razor blade?” (Uh oh.)

Now, she’s funny. I don’t need to call a hotline.

But it made me realize the cycle.

We meet. We date. We fall in love. We are inseparable, because we will perish without each other.

We have kids. We have different lives. We compartmentalize each other.

Kids move away. We date again. Maybe.

We die. We are inseparable, because we did perish, and now we’re buried RIGHT NEXT TO EACH OTHER.

Well, shit.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

My soulmate

I'm at home, my husband is at work. At a busy, stressful job. But he just sent me an email, and this is all it said:

Here in Higglytown

Things all jump around

Just like the Higglytown heroes

(Our heroes)

They all work together

Making fun together

Come see the Higglytown heroes

Eubie Wayne Twinkle Kip and Fran

All hop and pop around

Soon they'll learn about real heroes

Who and why and how

Here in Higglytown

We'll all jump around

And meet the Higglytown heroes

(Our heroes)

We'll all work together

Having fun together

With all the Higglytown heroes

Let's all play together

Save the day together

Come join the Higglytown heroes

Gotta love that guy. Thanks for making me smile, honey.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Goodbye, Wayne, Eubie, Twinkle, Kip and Fran...

I had a really, really sad moment today.

And if you’re goopy/sappy/demented, you’ll get it. If you’re a tough cookie, you’ll roll your eyes.

But here it is.

I can’t remember the theme song to Higglytown Heroes.


For a million mornings, for a million years, I listened to the Higglytown Heroes theme song. I watched it with Caroline, then Caroline and Jack. We loved how everyone was a hero, even (God-please-tell-me-it’s-true) the strung-out, exhausted, sleep-deprived suburban mom.

I WAS a Higglytown Hero, damnit! I was! For years I identified with those little Chinese-doll-shaped characters that saved the world, one ordinary day at a time. The kid with the glasses? The chubby blonde one? I loved them all. They made me happy. They made the kids happy. They were sweet and innocent and so were my adorable kids.

And now we’re in a world of Phineas and Ferb and (God forbid) Zeke and Drake and Josh (and other pre-pubescent nerds) On Deck and farts are funny and everyone says “stupid” and "butt” and…

…ohhhhhh what I wouldn’t give for one innocent, preschool morning of those silly Higglytown Heroes.

Who meant so much to me.

Whose theme song I can’t even hum.

Sad, sad, sad.

No, I don’t want my kids so stunted that they love Higglytown Heroes when they’re twelve. But couldn’t those glory days of totally naive kids (and mothers) have lasted just a little, tiny bit longer? Couldn't we even remember the theme song, after all that?

No. Because farts are funny. And some things really are stupid. And saying “tushie” just isn’t the same as saying ”butt.” And I have the theme song to "Shake it Up" in my head now.

So goodbye, Wayne and Eubie, Twinkle and Kip, and the omnipresent squirrel Fran.

I’ll miss you guys as much as I miss my little girl in pigtails and my little boy in his Spiderman costume.

But we all have to grow up sometime.

Even me.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Getting kinky

I first started checking out the Psychology Today blog when Randi Epstein liked one of my posts and used it on her blog entry. So I added them to my blog roll, and nothing sounded funnier early this morning than clicking on the link that said, "Sexual Taboos: What's your flavor?"

Click on that link. Jen Kim's top ten list is absolutely hysterical to those of us with more, uh, mainstream ideas about sex.

Just a note: if you happen to have ever found yourself attracted to the stump of an amputee, you'll be so relieved to know you're not alone.

Monday, June 6, 2011

the artistic temperament

For a public school, our elementary school does a lot of fine arts stuff that I love. They have an opera singer come in and teach each grade a different opera that they perform, and they have an artist come in and help the kids paint giant murals that line the hallway. It's a great program and the kids look forward to it all year.

This is Caroline painting a flamingo.

The problem is that the artist doesn't seem to really like the kids.

They're KIDS. They smear the paint, they don't stay within the outlines, they think leaves on trees are sometimes hot pink to match the flamingos. And this artist alternately rolls her eyes, says, "Just step BACK and let it DRY so I can FIX it!" and practices deep breathing exercises with her eyes closed.

Perhaps she doesn't know that flamingos with knobby knees and pink leaves and smiling alligators with buck teeth are what make the third-grade mural a third grade mural. Anyone can commission fine art, but who can assemble a group of artists who mix colors that remind them of farts?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Yup, it's all in the genes. Whit's genes, that is.

So Caroline was tasked with creating an instrument. It had to produce a sound and the student had to be able to change the pitch, but other than that, the sky was the limit. Caroline's creativity led her to this:

In third grade it's called a trumpet.

By college they'll recognize it as a beer bong.

No wonder the kid got an A.

Kyle, continued

Do you guys remember Kyle, our family friend who has been battling cancer since he was ten? (Click here to read that entry. And when words are underlined and a different color, it means I'm linking them to another site or another post, and you can click on them. I'm very proud of myself for knowing how to do that, fyi.)

Kyle's parents have a page for Kyle, which is basically a blog to keep all of us updated on his progress. Whit and I read all the updates, but yesterday was the first time Kyle was the author of the post.

And I'm going to repost his entry here, so that you can see for yourself just what kind of kid Kyle is. When you read this, you'll see why everyone who meets this kid is touched to their core. He is incredible.

This is something I wrote and would like to share:

Cancer is a living Hell. But as u suffer through Hell u meet new people, that don't care what u look like or even were u come from. U earn a new perspective on life. U look at every moment of every day as it is your last. When u walk into a cancer clinic you do not see people suffering in misery, but u see normal smiling kids who life have been turned in an uncontrollable spiral. If u ask every cancer patient if they are scared if the cancer will come back, they do not face the subject with fear but with courage and a will to kick cancer in the ass again. If u ask me if I am mad I got cancer the answer is yes, but if u ask me if I would pass it off of me and onto another person I will say no. Cancer is Hell but it is a Hell that has made me a stronger and more driven individual.

I would have to say I am one of the lucky ones. I am still living on this Earth, still taking in deep breaths of air, and enjoying the company of my family. People keep saying how did u make it, all I can tell them is just kept thinking and realizing that I did not have it as bad as some of the kids.

Getting cancer is not a club that u would be happy to join but a change in your life that can make you a better person or drive you down in pain, I will admit I did have trouble at times to continue but, when ever I reached that point my family would encourage me to keep going. I realized that I will not let this hell take me out of this world and away from my family.

Every night when I lay in my bed and look at the ceiling I think of all the kids and families that are not as lucky as me and have gone through changes that will never be overcome. I pray for all the kids that I meet in the cancer clinic and all the kids that I have not had the privilege of meeting.

I do not look at cancer as a totally miserable experience, in some way I look at it in a way of a blessing.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Yesterday afternoon I was having a rough time. Jack flew an airplane into my head twice, so I snapped at him, so he started crying. (But come ON, Jack, if you stop trying to fly it OVER my head, chances are good it will stop flying INTO my head. Aim elsewhere.)

Caroline was mad at me because I picked her up from a playdate, right when the mom wanted her picked up. Somehow that was unfair and I was at fault. (Yes. It’s a fun age.)

I wasn’t hungry and I really, really, really did not feel like cooking dinner. Yes, I cook dinner, usually seven nights a week, largely due to the fact that I need to make something for my dad. But sometimes I just want to feed the kids mac and cheese and not worry about me or Whit or my dad.

And I was still mad about some things that had happened over the weekend, and I felt like the mad was bottled up inside. When I’m mad and can’t get over it, I need to rant and rave and then I will see what was funny about it and then, after the ranting and the laughing, I’ll be over it.

I needed intense therapy.

I’m serious – I’m not making fun of therapy. I totally get why people pay someone to listen to them rant and rave and purge themselves of all the built-up anger and emotion we all seem to carry at any given moment, just because we’re human.

But I can’t afford real therapy, and I don’t have the time to indulge in the luxury of regular appointments where I get to talk about myself.

So I called Whit and said, “Please just call my dad and ask him to meet you out for dinner.”

And I called a friend and said, “Get over here, stat.”

She said, “Pour me a glass of wine and I’ll be there in ten minutes.”

She walked in wearing a bikini top and shorts. I made a few WT jokes, and asked where the double-wide was parked, but she said, “I was IN THE POOL ten minutes ago.” Then I just appreciated the speed with which she drove to my house. She totally got it.

I was the anti-hostess, because she wasn’t there to be served. I just rooted through the fridge and pulled out leftovers from a Memorial Day cookout and threw them on the table. I didn’t even get her a plate; I figured she could fend for herself.

While she ate dinner and I fixed the kids their dinner, I stomped around the kitchen and complained and bitched and probably raised my voice and let all the mad out.

And then, yes indeed, I realized how funny the whole anger-inciting situation was. This friend has had a ringside seat to my life for almost ten years, and she marvels at how, as she puts it, there’s just never a dull moment. Looking at everything through her eyes makes it funnier.

Then I looked at the clock, and it was 7:00, and I had to get the kids moving toward showers and bed, so I hugged her and kicked her out.

I got my hour of therapy.

And I felt like a million bucks.

So if you’re the kind of friend who will drop everything and park your half-naked self in someone’s kitchen and eat leftovers and drink wine and listen to an hour of looney tunes complaining, then thank you, on behalf of all us crazy moms who need unconventional but highly effective friend therapy.

There's just nothing quite like it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The boys of summer

Someone in Whit’s office gave him some terrific baseball tickets for a home game last night. Rather than calling any of his friends, Whit took Jack.

Now this was fraught with possible failure:

The game started at 7:00, and Jack falls asleep like a narcoleptic at 7:30 every night.

Whit likes to have a beer or two watching any sporting event, and that’s forbidden when he’s driving either of the kids.

It was approximately 500 degrees outside.

No kindergarten child will be riveted to seven innings of a baseball game, which is, to Whit, the earliest one is allowed to leave a major-league ballpark.

The possibility was high that they would arrive, find their seats, eat a hotdog, and then Jack would/could say,”I’m hot/bored/tired and I want to go home.” Then Whit would get annoyed. Then I’d get mad at Whit.

(Yes, if you have ever read this blog before, you have correctly labeled me a worrier. Just in case that wasn’t perfectly clear.)

Now, Jack got out of the car at 10:00, and the kid looked like he was drunk. (No. Neither Whit nor Jack had any beer. As far as I know.) He could barely form words he was so tired. But he told me all about the giant tvs and the crack of the bat and the hotdog and the popcorn and the ice cream and the home runs (even if he said the score was 2 to 1 and it was really 6 to 2). He was sweaty and chocolatey and dirty. And had a stomach ache from all the junk food. But he did, in fact, last seven innings at a baseball game with his dad.

And then Whit showed me a picture. Of Jack. Sitting at his first major-league baseball game, eating an ice cream cone, his baseball cap askew, and the biggest smile I’ve ever seen in my life plastered across his little face.

And I knew that, though they’ll attend a million sporting events together, neither Whit nor Jack would ever forget a minute of that hot, sticky game.

That’s what summer is all about. That’s what being a dad is all about. And yes, that’s exactly what being a little boy is all about.