In which Dave buys me lots of cake.

Yesterday was a long day for me. Busy and at times kind of difficult. On my way to my Monday evening yoga class, I sent Dave a text, listing all of the things which were following me into class despite my best intentions. He responded, “Sounds like the universe is trying to figure out how much you can carry. [Middle finger emoji], universe! Let’s have cake!”

Then I came home and discovered that Dave had gone out, after our quick text exchange, and bought a slice of every kind of cake he could get his hands on at 8pm on a Monday night: white layer cake. Italian wedding cake. Chocolate cream cheese. Red velvet (my perennial favorite). Even carrot cake.

I was recently discussing someone’s new beau and remarked that he seemed like he would be fun out at a bar, but didn’t seem like a guy I’d be comfortable sharing a mortgage with. My friend laughed her butt off, and said that was true but it was also not exactly the kind of yardstick I used to measure by when I was single. I mean, she’s not wrong: I was 24 when I met Dave, and I went out with him because I thought he was fun. I didn’t know that, twenty years later, he was the kind of guy who would buy me 6 pieces of cake to help me flip off the universe- but I am so grateful that he is.

Love you, buddy. Thanks for being awesome.


    Gabby, our Happy Tornado, graduated from 8th grade this week (so she gets one more entry dedicated to her. Then I’ll probably move on to other big news I’ve been holding back for about a month now. Stay tuned). I could tell you about her two years of straights As in her accelerated classes, or that she recently placed in an Irish dance competition while dancing on a sprained knee. I could tell you that she asked me to reserve A Tale of Two Cities at the library this week, so that she could read it for pleasure now that school is out. I could tell you how she has the most amazing thick cloud of hair- half curly and half straight- and the most beautiful hazel-green eyes. I could tell you about her confidence or her determination; that she is a fierce competitor; how she is, and has always been, joyfully and exuberantly open to what the world brings. Any of those things tells you a piece of who she is- but maybe just a piece.

    Earlier this evening, I told her not to leave her shoes downstairs. Gabby- who had been crossing through the entryway- stopped, turned to me, and stood very still. Her expression was all imperious disdain. She looked me in the eye and said, “What I do is not up to you.”

    Then she exploded into giggles, picked up her shoes, and said, “I’ve been waiting for TWO HOURS for the opportunity to say that!”

    It’s a quote from the new Wonder Woman movie. That sums her up pretty nicely.


      Gabby is graduating eighth grade.

      This is from preschool; I used a photo from this series on Gabby's graduation party invitations. She still makes that exact face.

      This is from Gabby’s preschool graduation. She still makes that exact face when she’s plotting something.

      Gabby saw that photo while I was typing. About ten minutes later, she texted me this.

      Gabby saw that photo while I was typing. About ten minutes later, she texted me this.

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

      Next week, Gabby will graduate and move up to the high school with her brother. I’ll be interested to see how that goes… not because I worry about Gabby, but because she has been a whirlwind of Gabbulosity her entire life. Good luck, high school. Here are some facts about Gabby, which you might be interested in learning before she walks your halls:

      1. People tend to get swept quickly into her orbit. Example: Gabby went to her very first haunted house last fall. During the thirty minutes she stood in line, the cast fell in love with her, nicknamed her “Gabbulous the Fabulous,” and invited her to work there- a reaction to Gabby which is actually not that unusual.
      2. She founded a Creative Writing Club at her school this year, and wrote a poem which was accepted for publication in a student work collection. (Come over and ask me about it- the book is currently on my entryway table.) Needless to say, Gabby intends to join the CWC in high school, and possibly take it over.
      3. Yesterday, we were walking to the car with the scent of lilacs in the breeze. Suddenly Gabby remarked, “It smells like pollen and allergies out here.” She tosses off one-liners like this all. the. time. Be ready for that.
      4. Gabby has no patience for anyone’s BS. Last summer, she confronted a girl about things she had been saying about Gabby. Please note: Gabby wasn’t so much upset about the content of what was said; she was angry that anything had been said about her at all. Anyway that other kid- maybe overcome with guilt, or maybe trying to gain sympathy, who knows- started to cry. This did not work on Gabs. She told me later, “I was enraged at the first tear. I was like, ‘You did something to me. Why are you crying?’ ” –Which is an excellent question, if you think about it.
      5. You may think that Gabby has grown out of her habit of Irish dancing everywhere she goes. This is inaccurate. Good luck with that too, high school.

      Gabby is a bright, talented, happy, confident tornado of a person, and every day the world is richer (and a little crazier) because she is in it. She is looking forward to high school and fully intends to make that school her own. I can’t wait to watch.

       

       


        It’s not the Stanley Cup.

        Cam was refereeing youth lacrosse games all day yesterday. He’s learning a lot from this experience, I think- sometimes all goes well and it’s a civilized game, and other times it doesn’t go as well and he has to deal with angry players or coaches or parents. He gets the opportunity to develop his already-impressive people skills, is what I tell myself when someone on the sidelines yells, “THAT WAS A TRIP!!!!!!!” (Otherwise I might walk over to that parent and say something like, “That’s my son, and he is doing his best to keep your player safe on the field. So I would appreciate it if you would gain some perspective and quit screaming like an asshole.” Also in one case yesterday I might have added, “And put out that cigarette.”) But most of the time, it’s fine. Parents and coaches and players are just there to watch the kids play. One exception from yesterday stands out for me, though, and I’m still uncomfortable about it.

        At Cam’s last game of the day- with a group of 10-11 year olds- one of the coaches was loud and blustery. This doesn’t bother me; in fact, at first I laughed a little at his, “Do you guys realize you’re playing a game right now?” As the game went on and his team racked up more and more points, winning handily, his angry behavior only increased. “LAZY!! YOU’RE LAZY!!!!! WHY ARE YOU EVEN HERE?!” he screamed when the other team scored their first goal. One of his players slipped and lost the ball; he yelled, “GET OFF THE FIELD!!” and the player subbed out, guilty of slipping on the wet grass. When the halftime whistle blew he screamed, “GET OVER HERE RIGHT NOW!!” The boys trudged to the sidelines, where I could occasionally hear his angry tones from where I stood. He went on and on, berating and belittling the boys as the halftime clock ticked on. One of the parents nearby said mildly, “I don’t think my son would be allowed to play for this guy.”

        At that point, this coach’s team was winning by 4 goals.

        During the second half, one of their players slid in the mud and hurt himself. Cam and the other ref stopped play and spoke to him for a second, and then both referees walked him toward the sidelines. Cam had his arm around the boy’s shoulders, which is very unusual. The coach stomped onto the field and met them before they could get to the sidelines. The adult referee paired with Cam said something to the coach, and he responded to the boy: “SUCK IT UP!” They had another few moments of conversation, and then the coach steered the kid right back into place, and play continued.

        Then I understood: Cam had his arm around the player because the boy was afraid to tell his coach he was hurt. This poor kid knew he would not be allowed to leave the field.

        They won the game by something like 8 goals. I guess you’d call it a success.


          Happy Mother’s Day!

          Knuckleheads.

          Knuckleheads.

          We have had a busy weekend! On Friday we celebrated my niece Emily’s 21st birthday- but not too late into the night, because we left the house at 5:30am the next morning for Cameron’s lacrosse tournament. Which his team won with ease- the championship game score was 10-1. Dave and I attended a work event when we got home, and brought back food for the kids (including cake. This makes us heroes).

          This morning I got up around 5:20, in order to make breakfast for Cam before he went off to caddy. There is a row of tiny animals, made out of clay, on the kitchen countertop- as well as the phrase “Happy Mother’s Day!” on the kitchen chalkboard. Everyone else is still asleep, the dog included. It’s going to be a gorgeous sunny day and I’ll see my mom and my family today. Today, I am grateful for all these people, my favorite people in the world. Also for the sign on the chalkboard, and the little clay octopus and snake and puppy on the countertop (the octopus in particular is pretty bomb). But mostly for this amazing boy and these amazing girls- three gorgeous fireworks who light up every day of my life. Thanks for being the best, guys. I am a better person because of the three of you.


            Happy Easter!

            Run, kid. Bunnies don't have tentacles.

            Run, kid. Bunnies don’t have tentacles.

            In a few minutes, the kids and I are headed to my mom’s to color Easter eggs, and I cannot stand the Easter holiday. I know I’ve told you that before; there’s just something lame about it and this tradition is one of my least favorites. So, in an attempt to not be such a crank, I”m listing a few things that make me happy:

            1. Dave just reloaded my Starbucks card.
            2. Gabby let me cut about 6″ off her hair.
            3. Cam is in the top 5 on his team for offensive points.
            4. The J and her friend won a spot in the talent show.
            5. Cadbury Mini-Eggs. (Not Creme Eggs, those are gross.)

            May you not spend tomorrow in a state of, “Ugh, I don’t like ham or jelly beans and I can’t remember where I hid all these damn eggs” like I probably will. Have a good weekend!

             


              “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.


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