“Don’t blink”

One of the things that has always bothered me about parenting is that weird pressure to love every second of every day. “Don’t blink!” say parents of older kids. “Some day you’ll look back and wish you could do this again!” they admonish; if a parent dares to complain about some parental chore, another parent is apt to tell them. “You’ll miss this some day!”

My God. Enough.

My experience is that parenting, like every other part of life, is sometimes great and sometimes hard and sometimes tedious. And always changing. I remember being awake for 35-hour stretches; because Cameron was up either nursing or screaming all night long, and then I had to go to work the next day. I don’t miss that. Gabby was also up a lot at night- Dave and I spent many middle-of-the-night hours driving her around when that was the only way she would sleep. I would gladly have blinked those nights away. And actually, Addie J was a dream baby and my memories of her infancy are colored with sunshine and happiness… and I don’t miss those days either. I do remember fiercely loving them and being proud of every little thing they did… and those things are still part of my life. What is this insistence that we be grateful for everything, even colic and tantrums and diaper blowouts in Target? Why can’t I acknowledge that some aspects of parenthood kind of suck, and it’s okay to be glad when they’re over?

I love being their mother. I LOVE it. Watching them grow into their own people is such a joy and a privilege, and I am in it for the whole process, not just the fleeting years where I get to buy hair bows and Hot Wheels. I don’t miss what it was like to be their mother then. Why would I? I am still their mother now. And, just like when they were tiny, sometimes it’s great and sometimes it’s hard and sometimes it’s tedious. They will continue to change and grow, and so will I.

So quit telling me not to blink. Don’t insinuate that I should feel guilty because I hated pushing the kids on swings then, and sometimes I just don’t feel like driving them to their activities now. I’m not going to tap out when they turn 18. I’m their mother forever. It’s okay if sometimes I blink.


    Happy birthday, Sniffy!

    jilljuI was really lucky, growing up. I had one of everything: an older sister, an older brother, a younger sister, AND a younger brother. I know that my siblings and I, and my mom, are always there for each other. I know that-  like it or not- I will never have to go through anything alone. Because I have these people. Today, though, I want to talk about Jill. Jill is the one who gave my mom the most grey hairs as a kid. She is fun and funny, irreverent and firmly grounded… and she will gladly make sure you are grounded, as well.

    A few years ago, Jill and her family moved– from a place where they had deep roots to a place where they knew no one and nothing. Jill showed remarkable insight: choosing just the right neighborhood, in just the right town, to set down new roots. Then she set aside any uncertainties and just embraced their family’s new life– the good, the bad, the unknown. She put the girls into activities, she found out where to go and what to do. She didn’t just make new friends– she put herself right into the center of her new world. I have realized that, in addition to being fun and funny, Jill is also courageous and strong.

    I came home yesterday from a quick four-day visit with Jill and her family. Everyone is asking, “What did you do?” …Well: we made salmon-orange salad one day, and we went to lunch another day. I braided the girls’ hair. We watched Passengers and binged Mad Dogs. My niece had an awards ceremony, we went to Girls’ Night at Jill’s friend’s house, and on Saturday night all of us had an impromptu dance party in the kitchen. But what I tell people is, “Not much. We just hung out.”

    Today is Jill’s birthday, and we should celebrate that the world is brighter because of her light. I call her Sniffy although I no longer remember why– and so I would encourage you to contact Sniffy today, and wish her a happy birthday.


      Et tu, Guinness?

      They’re probably all about to start sneezing.

      Okay, when I was a kid I did not have allergies, except to cats. As an adult I do not have allergies, except to cats. Then I married Dave, who- for all his physical strength and toughness- is a total Milhouse in terms of seasonal allergies. Which season, you ask? –All of them.

      Enter our three children: Cam got the brunt of his dad’s allergies- hilariously, this seems to be the only physical trait passed down from Dave. Many years of shots and one surgery later, we seem to have a handle on them… however, the girls also inherited a tendency to seasonal allergies, both indoor and outdoor, like their brother. Their allergies are milder and guess what keeps them at bay?

      Washing their bedding weekly in hot water. Washing the dog’s bedding weekly in hot water. Washing their towels several times each week. Vacuuming the floors regularly. Cleaning the fresh air returns. Cleaning the ceiling fan blades. Never allowing laundry to pile up, either in their rooms or anywhere else in the house. Wiping the blinds. Dusting. Mopping. Scrubbing…. as we learned, the best way to keep allergies from overwhelming the kids is to keep an ironclad lid on the allergens that come into the house. (When they sleep elsewhere, it’s a crapshoot: sometimes they’re fine, other times…. not.)

      And then, recently, we looked at the dog and said, “Why is his eye almost swollen shut?” Yep: now the dog has uncontrollable allergies. A month of steroids later– that’s a month of steroids for the dog— and Guinness is okay, as long as he gets a bath every week in prescription dog shampoo. And irritatingly enough: last month when we missed a week, Guinness spent that week scratching.

      ALL I EVER HAVE TO DO IS NOT TOUCH ANY CATS AND I AM FINE FOREVER. HOW AM I SURROUNDED BY THESE SNEEZING, SNIFFLING LIVING CREATURES WHO REQUIRE SO MUCH HOUSECLEANING.


        I am so easily grossed out.

        This is just a note that I saw that article which is currently making the rounds, about Asian beetles (otherwise known as “those orange ladybugs”) infesting the roof of a dog’s mouth– and then I had nightmares all night and am now about 16% convinced that they’re also embedded in the heel of my left hand. Even though there are none there- but then I keep remembering how they were there in my dream and then I have to check AND WHY WOULD I BE CHECKING IF AT LEAST 16% OF ME DIDN’T THINK THEY MIGHT BE THERE THIS TIME? #fakenews

        If I could see gross things and not immediately figure out horrifying ways they might affect me personally, that would be great.


          Sixteen Things About Cam

          cammyI didn’t know whether I was having a boy or a girl when I was pregnant with Cameron- but with all my heart I was hoping for a boy. I think it’s because I wanted this boy- this handsome, strong, determined kid who makes our house livelier, happier, and has draped the place in lacrosse gear (but that’s another story). Today he is sixteen and I can’t believe it. Here are sixteen things to know about Cammy:

          1. He plays midfielder and he also likes to face off. This is a really, really important part of who he is.
          2. He retains that easy ability to relate to anyone and everyone he meets. This kid has never had an awkward conversation in his life.
          3. It is very important to him that he does the right thing in a given situation.
          4. He’s kind to his sisters in moments that no one sees except them.
          5. After years of trying to rein in his unbelievable hair, Cam is letting it grow. Starting from fairly high and tight this fall, it’s probably 6-7 inches long now. I’m surprised by how well it suits him.
          6. Also: it’s wavy. We had no idea.
          7. This is the kind of person he is: Cam was having some friction with a peer, and it got pretty heated on both sides. Cam has to work with this peer, though- so he did something that many adults can’t do: he directly approached the person with an open and forward-thinking attitude, and he created a space where they could move past the friction. It didn’t work the first time, or the second; but Cam just kept working at it until he succeeded.
          8. When we were in NOLA for Mardi Gras, an Elvis on a motorcycle told him he looked like he needed sunglasses and handed him a pair with Elvis sideburns attached. He wore them like a rock star for the rest of the day.
          9. With the exception of leaving plates in his room until he was no longer allowed to eat upstairs: Cam keeps his room really clean. (If you overlook the aforementioned lacrosse gear.)
          10. Cam and his friend Doug listen to old-school rock.
          11. We’re going to the DMV to get his license this week. For the record: Cam is a good driver.
          12. He and I spent a couple of hours on Friday, starting on a project he’s doing for chemistry class. He makes those things fun, just by being himself.
          13. You know how Dave is physically super, super strong? …And how my dad was also incredibly strong? -Well, Cam got a double dose of that. He’ll come home and casually mention the weight he lifted in Human Performance that day and my first reaction is always, “By yourself??”
          14. At our urging, Cameron chose to take French so that I could help him with the class. To my delight, he is able to have short conversations in French and is taking Honors French 3 in the fall.
          15. Know what he does after dinner? -He says, “Thanks, Mom.” Almost every time.
          16. I wanted a son of my own with all my heart– I didn’t need a houseful, I only needed one. When he was born, the doctor said, “It’s a beautiful boy!”

          Cam is our oldest child. Every single day is a new parenting experience for us– including today, when he is sixteen (technically not until around 7:00pm though). He blazes the trail for his sisters, he leads us into brand new territory each day. Sometimes it’s really fun to be his mother… sometimes it’s really challenging. He is a sixteen-year-old boy for sure– and his heart is made of warm gold, big as the sky. Being his mother has made my own heart grow warmer, and I am so grateful to have Cameron, my beautiful boy.


            Know what I like about having kids?

            Image courtesy of Brandy Walsh Photography. www.brandywalshphotography.com

            Image courtesy of Brandy Walsh Photography. www.brandywalshphotography.com

            Thanks to the kids, there are so many things in our lives that Dave and I would never have had on our own. This month in particular it’s Irish dance shows for St. Patrick’s Day. You know how it’s fun to watch your kids do something they love? And it’s extra fun when your kids are good at that something? …For the first two weeks of March, we get to watch our daughter all lit up onstage, busy loving what she’s doing and being good at it…… while also drinking Guinness.

            It’s really pretty ideal.


              Mardi Gras!!!

              UPDATE: I believe I have fixed that awful issue where none of you could see the pics. Let me know if you are still having trouble.

              We had a great trip this year. On the way home, Dave and I agreed it was one of our best ever. Once again, some photos for you:

               

              Addie caught a shoe from Muses.

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              Jill hilariously texted me that, in every photo, “You look the happiest you’ve ever been in your life.”

              42

              While we were on the Tulane University campus, a female student approached Cameron and informed him that her friend thought he was cute. And, if Gabby, who was standing next to him, wasn’t his girlfriend: could she have Cam’s number? HOW CAN THIS HAPPEN WHAT IS GOING ON CAM IS STILL FIVE YEARS OLD IN MY HEAD. (ALSO, BALLSY MOVE, IF YOU THOUGHT HE WAS WITH HIS GIRLFRIEND.) Gabby had my back, though: from what I understand, she immediately replied in disbelief, “I’m his sister, and he’s in high school.”

               

              16938628_1635975693085402_2695191564986264717_nWe spent lots of time with our friends who live in the Garden District. Here’s an indicator of how happy we all were to see them: the kids and I arrived in NOLA last Wednesday, just in time to catch Wednesday’s parades- Dave was flying in from Atlanta and meeting us there. We got to the parade route and I said, “Now, we can hang out here for awhile and then go see Miss Novella, or we can go straight to Miss Novella right now.” And all three immediately chose to leave the parade and go see our friends.

              45

               

              Speaking of friends: we spent 90% of our time with our friends Shea and Maya and their daughters- something we had done 2 years ago. Shea and I realized that our birthdays fell during Mardi Gras week, and mine this year fell on Fat Tuesday itself- and we agreed that we all needed to be in NOLA together for that.

               

              37

              Okay, so then on Friday morning I was mulling over whether to go for a run in Audubon Park. Dave and Cam were gently discouraging me from leaving, I thought because they didn’t want to have to wait for me. So I took a shower instead and then Dave said, “Cam is outside on the porch swing, He wants to talk to you.” I thought, oh man what is this, and went outside to find my friends Sheri and Ann- who came all the way to NOLA for the weekend to surprise me for my birthday.

               

              56

              We had crawfish and poboys and crab cakes, and I was insufferably smug about it.

              53

               

              We had an amazing time.

              6

               

              This group of Star Wars aficionados was just walking down the street, so we got a pic. Please notice the wings Gabby is wearing, and also that Cam’s sunglasses have Elvis sideburns attached. Both caught at parades.

              86

               

              Seriously, could not have been more fun.

              66

               

              We were in an art gallery, and Cam and our friend’s daughter were having none of it.

              33

               

              Dave asked for the lacrosse game at this bar. Then, when the bartender couldn’t find the lacrosse game, Dave said, “Oh- it’s only Thursday. Sorry- we don’t know what day it is.” The bartender replied cheerfully, “Why would you?”

              28

               

              This was actually taken the first night, after Nyx. Look at their faces- that is pure joy, my friends.

              15

               

              Pure joy for the adults as well as the kids.

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              Aunt Ann went against my firm “We don’t buy Mardi Gras trinkets because we get them thrown to us for free at parades” policy and bought Addie this squid hat. Addie J was thereafter known to all as “Squiddie J.”

              77

               

              After Saturday afternoon parades, Addie J took a nap in Miss Novella’s hammock while she was supposed to be chatting with Aunt Sheri.

              52

               

              And these are only a few of the pics I took, when I thought to take pics. Two more things: first of all, as is our tradition, one of our kids threw up. But it was at the very end of the very last night- so we almost got off without a single barfing incident! We can dream. And the second thing is this sign, which we found in the French Quarter. Enjoy!

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                Happy Valentine’s Day!

                Happy Valentine’s Day, Davey. Thanks for the following things, among others:

                • Still thinking my jokes are funny.
                • Making me breakfast every single morning.
                • That cute way you chew your gum when you’re focused on something.
                • Making yourself into a lacrosse guy from the ground up, in service of your son.
                • Getting up last night to find me some cough medicine.
                • Always filling the tank in my car every week.
                • Knowing that there is an inverse relationship between the amount of complaining I do about something, and how upset I actually am.
                • Not giving even one single fuck about the fact that the kids call you The Ginger.

                You’re my favorite. Thanks for being awesome.


                  Mattress update, update

                  Remember the new mattress? The one that came in a box? Dave and I have been giving that thing a chance ever since it showed up and slowly decompressed…. to a rather disappointing depth. Several of you sent me messages that the foam mattress would feel very different, and warned me that it might take some time to get used to it.

                  Um, it did take some time. The first week I could not, could NOT get comfortable. It was hard as a board and, instead of providing some give, the mattress felt like it was rejecting me. I was rolling around all night, trying to find a position where my bed was actively trying to push me off. I woke up every morning with tense muscles and a headache. But I got through that adjustment period…. and then: I just didn’t like it.

                  • Dave’s side was built with a different firmness than mine, and if I rolled too far in that direction it felt like lying on two different beds.
                  • As mattresses go, it was sort of shallow, so I would lie there feeling like I was on the ground.
                  • I missed the springiness of a regular mattress. This just didn’t feel soft and cushy.
                  • And most of all: I just felt like I was lying on a hard, flat, crappy surface every time I went to bed. I told Dave, “It’s like I’m sleeping on the concrete floor of a prison cell here.” I started referring to our bedroom as Cell Block H.

                  But!! As Dave predicted, I learned that I could, in fact, sleep on this mattress- I just didn’t like it. So if this had been good for Dave’s back I would have dealt with it. Lucky for me: Dave didn’t like it either. So yesterday, two new Luxury Plush Innerspring mattresses were delivered: a king for us and a full-size for Cam, who has been cramming his teenage self onto a twin for too long. They did not come in a box and in fact that would have been impossible; actual men came and delivered them. This thing is deeeeeep. It’s springy. I can sprawl all over it without encountering a different bed on Dave’s side. When I got up this morning, I actually slid down to the floor, it’s so thick and cushy.

                  This is what I’m freaking talking about. Bye-bye, Cell Block H.


                    We’re all weirdos.

                    I was just having a conversation about weird aversions that people have. I’m a treasure trove of germophobia- particularly surrounding food- and I’m famous for it which is embarrassing. I’m not proud of these aversions and it’s embarrassing to be at a party and have someone say, “Oh, try this- it’s so good!” And I have to try and politely decline, only to invariably have to explain that I CAN’T try it, I’m too much of a germ freak. (You guys are all really insistent that I taste your food!) I’m also very averse to the sound of metal scraping against metal or forks scraping on teeth. Oh, and I have a touch of misophonia too (I actually lead a pretty normal life, though, I swear). My family, though? My family is no better.

                    Gabby is horrified by the act of filing nails. She cannot stand to hear it or see it, so clearly she cannot file her own nails.

                    My brother Mike is afraid of lizards. Or as he calls them, “snakes with legs.”

                    My sister Betsy gets grossed out by the texture of cotton balls.

                    So, really: my thing where I push all elevator buttons with my keys.. -Sounds totally reasonable now, don’t you think?

                     


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