Tuesday, December 17, 2013

My letter to Santa this year.

Dear Santa,

Dude. I need your help. This past year has really, seriously sucked. I can’t remember what I asked you for last Christmas, but unless it was death, anxiety, injury and drama, your account got hacked and the devil made your deliveries for you.

So, bygones, right? Are we past all that? Can you be in charge of my Christmas presents this year?

(Oh, and Caroline may NOT have a MacBook Pro and Jack may NOT have a puppy to replace poor departed Bo. Okay? I miss my dog every day but the only silver lining here is that I don’t have dog poop in my back yard for the first time in fourteen years. So let me enjoy the break.)

Ready? Here are the top things I really, really want:

1. Hair that is naturally blonde. I’m so sick and tired of spending exorbitant amounts of time and money on my hair, and I’m not sure I can keep saying the gray that’s coming in is a new and trendy shade of highlights.

2. Magic Santa dust that will instantly vaporize bad moods. Like almost-12-year-old-girl bad moods. Which are constant. And potent. And tiring.

3. I’d really, really, really like to be able to run an eight-minute mile in one of my long races. (I know. That seems a little superficial when we’ve got serious global problems, but I don’t usually ask for much and I’m being indulgent here. Plus, my husband is asking for a mountain house, a truck and a winning lottery ticket, so my list has gotta be easier on the old Claus cash.)

4. Okay, this is silly, but I’d like a Disney Fastpass that works in grocery store lines. Or drugstore lines. Or DMV lines. I’m a terrible waiter and it makes me crabby. And my children find more things to buy when I wait in line, and that makes me crabby too.

5. I would like for calories to not count. I know how many calories are in a glass of wine and that makes me sad, because it can, just a tiny bit, take the joy out of drinking wine. Calories also take the joy out of Cool Ranch Doritos, which I love. And they flat-out ruin eating chocolate truffles. Or bagels, or getting butter on my popcorn. Or eating anything other than salad.

6. A boob job. That should be self-explanatory.

7. Lastly, please find every single person who has been kind to me this year and get them the biggest thing on their list. I’ve needed every hug, every email, every smile, even the people who’ve let me in their lane during traffic. I’d like to know you’ve got their backs.

In return, I’ll make you my kids’ favorite chocolate chip cookies and I’ll leave those big leafy carrots for the reindeer. I’d appreciate it if they didn’t poop (see paragraph above about how dead dog = clean yard). We’ll continue to fervently believe in the magic of Christmas, and I promise to NOT brag about my half-marathon time on Facebook. That’ll be our little secret.

XOXO and safe travels,


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Can you hear me now?

If you’re reading this, you probably know that my elderly dad lives with us. You might also know he’s a rather frail 78 and that his hearing isn’t so great.

We got home from a beach vacation late Saturday night. When my neighbor called to ask for a couple of eggs Sunday morning, I still hadn’t been to the store. (And yes, a public thanks to my sister, who had the fridge stocked with dinner for the weary travelers. Oh, and she had picked up the dog. And taken care of my dad. And sorted the mail. So yeah, she’s kind of a saint.)

Anyway, my daughter answered the phone, and told my neighbor that we didn’t have eggs but that my dad did. So she went down to his apartment, and I could hear the conversation.

Caroline (shouting): Hi, Grumpy. Can I please have two eggs?

My dad: Of course, Caroline. They're right here. Come with me.

Caroline: Oh, Grumpy, don’t get up. But...they’re in your bedroom?

My dad: Yes, in my top dresser drawer.

Caroline: Eggs, Grumpy? You keep eggs in your dresser?

My dad: Yes. Here you go.

And he gave Caroline two double A batteries.

Caroline: Um, thanks, Grumpy.

My dad, beaming: So happy I had them!

Caroline: Me too, Grumpy. Me too.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Some things suck.

You know what sucks?


When you’re 43 years old.

Down a flight of stairs.


That all sucks.

Wearing your pink pajamas to an emergency room in the middle of the night sucks.

Forgetting to wear shoes because you’re in so much pain makes you feel like a homeless person, and that sucks.

(Remembering to put on a bra makes you feel like a put-together, albeit injured, homeless person. That doesn’t suck.)

A couple of concussions suck.

A twisted neck and back suck.

A black eye and bruised face suck.

A thumb with...wait for it...TWO!!!! very unusual and identical fractures that may or may not need surgery sucks.

A hot pink cast does not suck.

A stitched up knee that split open like a melon sucks.

Black and blue and pretty surely broken toes suck.

Putting those toes through an enthusiastic pedicure sucks.

It sucks that the pedicure is the most pressing task post-ER, because your toes are more embarrassing than your pajamas.

Having your kid tell you your body looks like Frankenstein sucks.

Having your husband spout forth an unending stream of battered wife jokes should suck...

...but the fact that laughing makes your face hurt sucks more.

Painkillers that make you feel sick suck.

A very comfortable bed does not suck.

Good night.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

With friends like these...

This past week was a WEEK. I was stressed, I was crabby, I was overwhelmed. I was forgetting things I never forget, like showing up in my son’s classroom to help. I had so many balls in the air I kept waiting for a biggie to drop.

At 3 a.m. Thursday, I woke with a start. We're Catholic, and I realized Jack’s First Communion was Saturday. I was supposed to have a luncheon for 25 people. And my Thursday and Friday were so packed with cemented to-dos I knew I didn’t have a minute to plan a menu, shop for groceries or make a single dish.

By 7 a.m., I was on the phone with one of my best friends from forever. We go way back – almost 30 years – and her family business is catering, so she was the 911 call I needed to make.

I explained my problem, and she yawned, and said, “I'm on it. I’ll handle it. By the way, the chef is going to kill you for always being last-minute with this stuff. You drive him nuts.”

“I know, I know. But I thought I could do it. And I can’t. And I’m the teacher for the second grade, so I’ve got to worry about getting all these kids through the mass. I can’t stress about the party.”

I knew the wheels were spinning in her head when she said, “Hmmm, I’ll tell him it won’t happen again.”

“Okay. Whatever. Thanks for saving me.”

Now, this particular friend of mine is Jewish. This has little bearing on anything, until she texted me the morning of the party.

“Did you invite the priest?” No.

“Don’t show your dad the cake. He’ll have a heart attack.” Okaaay…

“You love me, right?” Uh oh.

I ran over and opened the box.

She got the last laugh.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Love & Marriage & Metro

I don’t love public transportation. This is not some elitist bent of mine; I just think it’s more straightforward to drive somewhere. However, occasionally even I agree that a train zipping you around a crowded city is preferable to parallel parking and one-way streets inevitably shut down by construction.

On Caroline’s 11th birthday, the kids and I planned a day with friends that included multiple stops all over the city. My husband insisted that the metro was the most logical way to get around, and I agreed. Until he said,

“But then you need smart cards because there’s a surcharge for paper tickets. So here are two, but one is bent. So exchange the bent one and ask them to transfer the balance, then go to the yellow kiosk and find the balance on the second one, then look at the chart and calculate the total amount of money you need given each leg of the trip and whether it’s peak or non-peak pricing, then go to the blue kiosk and add however much you need to each of these so you have enough. Then go to the regular kiosk and buy two more with the right amount of money but just don’t forget to wave the cards in front of the sensors or none of the money will load. Got it?”

Whit gets the metro system. I do not. But I was not going to let him think he, the southern transplant, had a superior understanding of the city in which I had been born and raised. So, as he looked at me expectantly, I just said, “Got it” and walked out the door.

Well, shit.

I didn’t have it. Not even a little.

So there I was, stuck in the windy train station, staring at a bent card and a card of unknown value, trying desperately to remember everything he said. I asked my friend and I asked the kids and I asked the homeless man camped out in the tunnel and finally I asked a metro employee and I pushed a lot of buttons on various machines and we got around the city just fine.

My husband was very impressed that he hadn’t gotten a frustrated and confused call from me. I flipped my hair and said, “Well, it’s not like I’m stupid.”

Fast forward a few days, when I’m looking at all the receipts I had stuffed into my wallet that day.

“Um, we have a problem.”

Whit raised his eyebrow.

Me: So apparently I bought many, many $15 one-day passes when I was getting all those cards. Can you please call and get them refunded?

Whit: You. Did. What?

Me, defensive: Apparently I made a mistake. Can you please get them refunded?

Whit, taking a deep breath: No, I cannot get them refunded. Those passes expire the day you buy them. You can’t prove you didn’t use them. How much money did you spend?

Me: A lot.

Whit (not yelling but not happy): What were you thinking? I made it all perfectly clear. I walked you through every step!

Me: You walked me through it in a “I’m a man and I’m smarter than you” way and it was offensive.

Whit, kind of yelling: Well, couldn’t you have told me it was offensive before you screwed it up??

Me, yelling right back: I did not screw it up, I made a mistake! I’ll fix it! Give me the cards! Because at least I’ll try to fix it, unlike you...you're willing to throw hundreds of dollars away without even making a phone call!

Whit: Hundreds of dollars? WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO???

He threw the cards down and stormed off. Fighting furious yet girly tears, I got online and looked up all the customer service numbers I could find. I spent about 30 minutes being transferred around, and finally spoke to someone who could help me. I had her on speaker phone in the kitchen as I laid out all the receipts, squinted at the serial numbers on the cards, typed away on a calculator and figured out how many cards I had, how much money I had spent on them and how they matched the receipts.

Finally, the lady said, “Well, Mrs. Kennon, you’re in luck. The four cards you have were purchased with exactly the right amount of money on them. It looks like all those other receipts were from a school group that used the machines before you. None of those charges were yours; you just grabbed the receipts they left behind.”

I thanked her.

I put my head down on the table.

I felt completely vindicated.

I thought my husband would feel like a jerk.

From behind me, I heard the incredulous question: “You don’t look at your receipts when you get them??”

Mars and Venus, baby. Mars and Venus.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


I could tell you about our spring break.

I could tell you that Whit’s father and his wife, with whom we spend very little time, begged us to allow them to take us on an "all expenses paid" cruise.

I could tell you I hate cruises.

I could tell you they forgot to mention the Ft. Lauderdale hotel. If I say the nicest thing about it was the iceberg lettuce at the all-you-can-eat buffet, will you catch my drift?

I could tell you that "Jack, please don’t play with the hotel room safe, as it contains our passports, your birth certificates, our wallets and my jewelry” turned into Caroline screaming at us that “He made a MISTAKE! So he forgot the combination! Big deal! You’re making him feel bad!"

I could tell you that it’s hard to find a reputable locksmith by looking through the yellow pages.

I could tell you that we were the tourists who went to "Butterfly World," where we were told to cover all moles and freckles because the birds think they’re seeds and peck at them. (Yes. We did spend some time on this memorable vacation dodging carnivorous birds. And we paid $22 a person to do it.)

I could tell you that the cruise was free for our hosts, paid for in a mere four and a half agonizing hours of our family being dragged around Florida by a Botoxed blonde who tried to sell us a time share.

I could tell you Caroline tried to buy a time share. And that a full two hours of our time was spent with the blonde attached to Caroline’s side, as if my daughter had $28,000 in her piggy bank.

I could tell you that once we got on the ship, it became apparent that I’d have fit in better if I had gotten heavily tattooed, gained forty pounds or enjoyed licking Whit’s tonsils while balancing a 15” margarita and a lit cigarette.

I could reiterate that I hate cruises. Oh, and sketchy hotels. And all-you-can-eat buffets. And most of Florida. And...never mind. I'd better not name names.

I could tell you the cruise tried to leave the harbor and ran aground. I could tell you it takes four tugboats to unstick a cruise ship.

I could tell you I do not know how to do the Cupid Shuffle, and I do not care to learn. But many, many people take those moves very seriously.

I could tell you my 76 year old father-in-law beat the pants off a room of teens in a ping-pong tournament.

I could tell you Caroline won $65 in cash bingo.

I could tell you that ping pong and bingo were the highlights of the entertainment on the ship. Oh, except for the guy who climbed into a balloon after making highly inappropriate lubrication jokes that my kids still want me to explain.

I could tell you our hosts don’t drink and don’t like anyone around them to drink. As a corollary point, I could tell you that Whit became good friends with the bartender who could keep his mouth shut.

I could tell you the boat rocked so violently that the kids and I are still seasick. One night, I literally kept sliding to the bottom of my bed and then back to the top.

I could reiterate that I really, really hate cruises. And the rest of it.

But I won’t. Because that's so negative and boring.

Instead, I will tell you that I love tropical islands.

Even if there are dead lizards, cooked by the sun, in our hotel room.

Because we got this:

And this:

And this:

And, in the end, it was all almost worth it.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Birthday Boy

When my mom was alive, she and my dad would celebrate their birthdays in a very refined, elegant way. There was a beautiful place they’d go to dinner; it always had a live band and tuxedoed waiters. After dessert, the ceiling would be rolled back and they would dance under the stars.

Fast forward almost seven years and my dad lives with me. My ceilings don’t move and the only live music is Caroline practicing her recorder.

Yesterday my dad turned 78. I think he’d be the first to agree he’s not that thrilled to be celebrating yet another birthday. He seems perfectly happy, but he’s not a particularly young 78 and I think life, at this point, is tedious for him.

However, he’s got five kids. And we’ve all got kids. And we were going to celebrate his birthday, damnit, whether he liked it or not.

I tried to think of a dinner that would feed a ton of kids and adults, and I settled on spaghetti and meatballs. Which is fine, but I have a pathological fear of running out of food when I entertain, so I made 15 dozen meatballs. It took me all day. (Now, before my undiagnosed OCD gets blamed for me counting the meatballs, I only know how many there were because I lined them up in rows of 12 as I made them. Then I counted the rows. Yeah, maybe that’s a little OCD. Never mind.)

Mid-afternoon, I got a text from my dad.

"What’s the dress code for tonight?"

Oh, Dad. Dude, I’m making meatballs. Wear a smock.

Late afternoon, my brothers and sister and their families started showing up. It was instant chaos. Whit was trying to take business calls and kids were hiding under his desk in a game of hide and seek. The dog was barking, we temporarily lost a three year old, Nerf darts were flying past my father’s head. It was, to say the least, a far cry from the serenity of his birthdays past.

After dinner my father asked me for a finger bowl. I nearly choked on my wine.

(I hope he was kidding.)

Once dinner had been cleared (and by "cleared," I mean all the kids put their plates on the floor and let the dog lick them clean) (and yes, there’s a sanitizing feature to my dishwasher), we brought out the cake. My older brother had brought it, and he thought it would be really funny to put 78 candles on it.

So he did.

Without realizing my dad has ADVANCED LUNG DISEASE.

Clearly my father didn’t think it was a good idea, either.

So over my shouts of, "He has COPD! My house is going to burn down!" all the kids gathered around Grumpy and, with spit flying, blew out all 78 damn candles.

"Fire department’s here," called my husband.

(I hope he was kidding.)

Since copious amounts of wine are always involved in our family dinners (don’t judge; we’re Irish), another brother escorted my dad back down to his apartment (that was the blind leading the blind but I was looking for the three year old so I let it go).

Later that night, after my sister made everyone leave together so all the toddler meltdowns would occur at exactly the same time and no one would be able to whisper about her kids’ behavior, I got a text from my dad.

"Thanks for making my birthday so nice."

I know he meant, "But don’t you dare do it again next year."

Happy birthday, Dad.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Help wanted? Don't ask me.

So recently I started looking for a job. Not a capital-J job, with nice clothes and bonuses and vacation time and a hefty paycheck. I mean a little-j job, in that I want to sit in my office, in my house, and write. Which is what I already do, but I kind of wanted to see if I could get paid for it. So I hung out my shingle as a freelance writer.

At first it was fun. Wine dinners with fellow writer friends who gave me encouragement and advice. Emails to old colleagues who were excited to hear from me. One post on Facebook that got me in touch with an old sorority sister and a guy who went to my school’s brother school in high school (say that five times fast).

Then someone asked me for my corporate résumé.

Um, okay.

I looked at my résumé, which was last updated when my wardrobe was last updated, which was when I needed a wardrobe for a job.

Which was 11 years ago. Trust me, look in my closet and you’ll see.

So, while back then I could stand behind my prowess as a Director of Corporate Communications who regularly jetted places and could offhandedly say with authority, "The bond offering is totally on track" or "This merger is a done deal" and could tell the CEO I had him scheduled for a Time Magazine photo shoot, I’ve become a little different over the past 11 years.

And I didn’t know that my most recent job would fit in with my impressive, yet thoroughly outdated, corporate résumé.

Well, fine, I thought, undaunted. I’ll do what I always did when adding a new job: I’ll think of the position I held, and of the unique skills and knowledge I had gained. Easy peasy. Lemon squeezy.

Mom (March 2002 to present)

Very good at finding the source of a poop smell, whether it’s from the dog, a diaper, or an unflushed toilet on another floor.

Excellent writer of MOMS Club agendas, snarky passed notes during PTA meetings, school excuse notes and a sometimes inappropriate and/or sporadic blog.

Pure genius at sneaking fruits and vegetables into the diets of unsuspecting diners.

Able to diagnose strep throat with a flashlight, appendicitis with some jumping jacks and a fever with a kiss on the forehead.

Fabulous at making a single income stretch...and stretch...and stretch...but never quite break.

Consistently able to prove the existence of the infamous "eyes in the back of my head."

Demonstrates unending patience when faced with children who want to sing a song/show a dance/read a book/tell a story…over and over and over.

Possesses amazing internal clock that instinctively knows when screen time is up.

Gifted at calming irrational fears, turning bad moods around and healing injuries on the spot (particularly when the right graphic band-aids are available).

Able to spontaneously join a soccer game, jump on a trampoline or play hopscotch, even when unprepared and not wearing a sports bra.

Adept at most household tasks, including snaking a toilet, fixing a garbage disposal and installing a doorbell. Not capable of any tasks involving rodents or spiders.

I could go on and on, but you get the point.

I’ve got nothin’.

I didn’t have a résumé to send.

But, on the bright side, I’ve got happy, well-loved kids.

And a husband who will agree we both married pretty darn well.

And fully snaked toilets.

So what did I do about the guy interested in the corporate me?


I made him brownies, checked him for a fever, and came home to get back to my blog.

After all, this is where I can fully utilize all the skills that really matter, like how to stay sane all the way up until cocktail hour.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A good party gone bad

Okay, so we’ve all done it, and we’ve probably mostly liked it. At least we’ve gotten stuff and had a few drinks with some friends, right? You know I’m talking about those quintessential suburban parties, in which you gather some friends and let a cute little clothes/makeup/jewelry/kitchen products rep come in and tell you why her products are the must-haves.

(Now. In the spirit of full disclosure, I actually love these parties. I have CAbi clothes that are staples of my wardrobe, Silpada pieces that are staples of my jewelry box, and Pampered Chef covered mixing bowls I couldn’t live without. I also spent a few years as an Arbonne consultant. I still use and love the products, but realized the job was not for me as I was sitting in a ballroom at the MGM Grand in Vegas and watched a heavily made-up woman weep in orgasmic ecstasy over the launch of the SeaSource Spa line. Her tears proved to me I’d just never have the right amount of passion to sell bladderwrack and sea lettuce to my friends.)

Usually, the most interesting thing I have to report about one of those parties is what I bought. Maybe who I saw. But I’ve never had a story to tell like the one I experienced a few weeks ago, when a good friend invited me for drinks and a clothing show.

My problems began instantly, when the hawkish woman sitting next to me tried to sit on my lap. I’m not kidding. It started with her arm, which was draped over the side of the sofa where I was sitting. It draped so drapily that I think she got to second base with me multiple times. She then kind of leaned her entire upper body against me, so that I was forced to practically sit on my friend’s lap to get away from her, all the while texting the hostess, "Who the hell is this creepy woman trying to molest me and why did you invite her?"

The problems continued with the very cute and frighteningly peppy saleslady, who insisted on pointing out that all the clothes worked on her frame, even though she was so so so so so tiny. Yes, I know. If I did not have these boobs or these thighs, or if I even had a mere two additional inches of height, all your damn clothes would fit me perfectly, too. But I’m not so lucky, and your so so so so so tiny frame is not helping you sell clothes. In fact, I would like you to take a short fat lady and stick all your clothes on her, so that I have a more accurate idea of what to try on.

Swallowing all my irritation (and more wine), I went into a dressing room with a friend to halfheartedly try on the clothes that looked good on a size zero. No sooner had I pulled the curtain closed than it was ripped open...by the hawkish woman, who seemed very excited to have found us. How do I know? Well, not because she talked. She never actually spoke, but either silently clapped when I emerged from the dressing room in something she liked, or frowned and shook her head if she disapproved. Even my hostess pulled me into the bathroom and hissed, "What the HELL? That woman is so disturbing. I don’t even know who she is." This, in case you’re wondering, did not make me feel better.

Finally, I gave up. The clothes that needed boobs also needed height. The outfits that were perfect for those without height needed hips with the same circumference as a tennis ball. Every part of my body was too short or too curvy for 90% of the clothes. (This, in case you’re wondering, also did not make me feel better.)

When the night ended, I snuck out the side door very elusively so as to escape my apparent stalker. I snuck out so as to stop looking at the peppy size zero rep on whom everything looked fabulous. I snuck out because they stopped serving wine.

Trust me, folks. Catalog shopping is much less stressful than a night like that.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

An explanation

Oh, guys, I have sat at this computer so many times in the past month (plus) – and I have written so many posts. But unlike my normal writings, I didn’t show them to my husband, and I didn’t post them. Rather, I left them open and unsaved in Word documents, so that I could sleep (or not) and wake up and read them again to see if there was anything worth saying.

Last year, one of my best friends from high school lost her two-year-old nephew in a drowning accident. My elderly neighbor, who I’d known for almost 30 years, died in his home. We buried my mother’s youngest brother, who was far too young and carried happiness with him wherever he went. Of course, being a parent with elementary-school children, the Sandy Hook tragedy rocked me in a way news seldom does. Very recently, there was a horrific and sudden loss that brought my entire neighborhood to its knees, children and all. It all just snowballed into a really, really sad event last week.

And there’s nothing to say about sadness. Everything I wrote just made me sadder. Then I couldn’t turn around and write something normal because I was too sad.

Life, in general, has been sort of tough lately, for so many reasons. And the other day, I offhandedly remarked to Whit that it was good I "don’t have the gene for depression."

Then I started to worry that I was, in fact, depressed, and that maybe I had been depressed my entire life and what I thought was normal was actually depression.

Then I remembered that I really, really want to get a job, because then I won’t get depressed when my children don’t need me anymore.

Then I remembered that no one is going to pay me to sit in my office and write, and occasionally go into an office to meet adults and go to happy hour, and so that’s a little depressing.

Then I remembered I don’t actually get depressed.

Then I remarked that my figure looks like the "after" picture in a Jenny Craig ad. You know, the ones where you say, "Eh, better than before, but she could still use a little work."

Then my husband looked at me and said, "Your brain is a scary place to visit."

So there we go. Tomorrow I'll tell tell you how I was stalked at a CAbi show and my little blog will be back to normal; probably still weird, but without a hint of depression. Today, I am going to harness the power of the Internet for a million wishes that sad events can stop happening. For a little bit. Just so we can catch our breath.