Gabby the Style Consultant

Dave was showing the girls a bunch of photos from my childhood, from my early twenties, etc. Here are some assorted comments made by Gabby:
“Ohhhhh, Mom, now THAT’S a style!”
“Is- is that whole thing one person’s hair?”
“You really had a lot of turtlenecks back in the day.”
“What did people think of you at that time, Mom? Like, was that considered cool back then?”
At the end, Gabby summed it up like this: “Mom… you really went through a lot of bad looks before you found the right hair.”
I’m a little surprised she doesn’t have any concerns about my current hair, to be honest.

    Parse this:

    Over the weekend, Gabby scored a huge milestone in dance– finally breaking past her plateau of an entire season and qualifying for Oireachtas this fall. At the next day’s competition, she earned third place in her set dance, which was awesome (and a sign that we should just skip the very last, for-fun-only competition of the day and head home).

    As I fell asleep last night, I was thinking over the weird vagaries of Irish dance scoring: three judges score each round and place each dancer individually. Then, those scores are combined and turned into new numbers, which establish the overall placement for each dancer. Individually, one judge placed Gabby 4th and the other two placed her 5th. Yet somehow, when it all shook out, she came in at 6th place. I fell asleep trying to figure out how that works. And I immediately dreamed about the rabbit that lives behind our back yard: in my dream, we were headed to a competition but the rabbit had grown huge and was stomping around the yard on its hind legs. I was like, “…back in the house. Everyone, get back in the house.” And then we tried to figure out how to get her to her competition when the rabbit was still around.

    ..What does that even mean? Any ideas?

      The Plagiarism Question

      “93% of the speech is completely different than Michelle Obama’s speech.” -Chris Christie, discussing Melania Trump’s speech to the RNC last night

      It’s details like this which really make my brain bleed. Donald Trump is popular with many people, despite his lack of thoughtful details: he makes sweeping predictions about what his administration will do (destroy ISIS, for example) without ever explaining how he will do it (read Ezra Klein’s take on Trump’s 60 Minutes interview). The Trump team has big ideas, but has not explained how their ideas will be accomplished. We’re just continuously assured that it will happen, and it will be great.

      This plagiarism– and make no mistake, that is exactly what it is-– in a speech given last night by Melania Trump is a great example of what happens when no one pays attention to detail. First, she told Matt Lauer that she wrote it herself, “with as little help as possible.” Then, when the plagiarism from Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech was exposed, the first reaction from the Trump camp was to deny. The next reaction, when proof was produced, was to blame Hillary Clinton. Finally, they acknowledged that Mrs. Trump had had speechwriters– now she looks stupid for claiming she wrote it herself– and that they had taken “fragments” of the speech from other sources. And then Chris Christie, everyone’s favorite bumbling idiot, chimed in and said that the speech was 93% hers. (Mr. Christie, I invite you to contact your seventh-grade math teacher, and ask if it’s okay to provide only 93% of your own answers on a test. AND THAT’S A SEVENTH GRADE MATH TEST.)

      First of all, when you take someone else’s words or ideas and present them as your own, that is plagiarism. As I tell my students: if you’re ever the slightest bit concerned that your writing might be too close to someone else’s, the solution is to either use a different idea– or cite your source. They didn’t do either. Rookie mistake. Then they played an embarrassing game of Hot Potato over it, and you know why? -Because no one is looking at the details in Trump’s campaign. They’re caught up by the details, every time.

      Trump and his people lack the sophistication and nuance to properly vet a few lines in a speech, and they can’t properly handle the fallout from that either. Can you imagine what would happen if they were in charge of the most powerful country in the world?

        Summer Projects: Kid Edition

        Perhaps modeling themselves after their parents– who try to take on at least one major home renovation each summer (this summer was about the dining room and office)– the kids like to use their summer for projects too. This is fine and more than fine: I enjoy their creativity and I encourage all their ideas. I even go out and buy whatever they need to complete their projects, pretty much on demand.

        Yesterday, in the service of a project involving pillows made from Irish dance socks, the girls spilled several dozen pins and needles onto our living room carpet.

        I just want to emphasize what happened: they had a basket with an undetermined number of pins and needles. They ignored my warnings to treat said basket with care. They upended it over our chocolate brown living room carpet like a terrible Easter egg hunt. We went over the carpet multiple times, both with our hands and then with magnets- but I’m certain pins continue to lurk. And because we don’t know exactly how many were in the basket to begin with, there’s really no way of knowing (until I feel one slide into the sole of my foot, of course).

        I was furious. FURIOUS. Generally speaking I don’t go too crazy over an accident– but this was an easily preventable accident, and they ignored my instructions about how to avoid it, and then it happened. I know: kids do that. Doesn’t make me feel any better about the prospect of hunting through Guinness’ fur for the head of a pin, though. So I had to remind myself: regardless of my expectations for them, these are kids. They will do things that suck. And hopefully they will learn from those things, and do better the next time.

        “You’ll miss these days,” they say. And I dislike when someone says that to me because it’s like being admonished that 1. I’m not appreciating these days enough, and 2. the days to come will somehow be lesser. I disagree with both: I am fifteen years into my life as a parent, and so far, I have loved every season of family life. So far, I continue to look forward to the future and what it brings us. Don’t blink, you say? The day will come when you’ll wish that’s the only trouble they get into, you say? Well, none of that makes this incident into a magical fairyland memory.

        And yet: today the girls plan to make stuffed owls out of the sock remnants, a project that I greenlit without hesitation. So, instead of guilting me into pretending this is a fun memory, how about you just grab a magnet and help me look for pins.

          Gabbyism of the Day

          Gabby, walking up to me at the library with two very different books in her hand: “Look Mom– my two favorite things: alternative medicine and ghost hunting.”

          There is no emoji to properly express my reaction.

          There is no emoji to properly express my reaction.

            How Lacrosse Turned Me Into a Willing Spectator

            We spent last weekend out of town at a lacrosse tournament. Our team won their bracket, and it was amazing– I have come to believe that lacrosse is one of the most exciting sports I have ever watched. Maybe because the game moves so fast, and is big enough to cover the entire field, and because momentum can change at any second? –“Or maybe,” you’re thinking, “because your son plays.” Fair point. However, my son also played baseball, and basketball, and soccer, and volleyball– and I never felt totally and intensely caught up in those games the way I do when watching lacrosse. Yes, even when my son is not on the field… and although I love participating in sports, I have never loved being a spectator until Cam discovered lacrosse for all of us. Our family’s life is richer for the experience of attending these out-of-town tournaments: hanging out at the hotel with the other players’ families, cheering on our boys from the sidelines, and watching what they work to accomplish together. All the parenting experts say that it’s important to tell your kids that you love to watch them pursue their chosen activities, and so I do tell my kids that. With lacrosse, it is especially true: I love that Cammy’s love of lacrosse has transformed him into a sprinting machine. I love all the lacrosse gear all over the house and permanently set up in the back yard. I love the life lessons about teamwork. I love the friends he has made, and above everything else: I really, really, really love to watch Cam play.

            Cam is spending this week across the country from us, attending lacrosse camp. I’m so excited for him and proud of him. However….if you’ll remember, recently Gabby spent a week across the country at my sister’s house and I barely survived that. Therefore I fully expect to spend this entire week like this:

            I’m going to be terrible at dealing with them going away to college.


              Distance Sucks.

              We said goodbye to my sister’s family last night. We had spent a week at their house, and then Gabby stayed with them for a week before they came here to spend a week. It’s been a great month of extra time with family.

              We said goodbye at my mom’s house. I took this photo of the girls, not wanting to let go of each other:



              When we came home, everyone was quiet and subdued. Gabby, who got the most time with her aunt, uncle, and cousins, came and snuggled up against me (like her mother, Gabby needs a lot of personal space– so this is somewhat unusual). I put my arm around her, and we sat in silence for awhile. I heard her sniffle.

              “It’s hard when they leave, isn’t it?” I said. She nodded and put her arms around me.



                Missing Gabbilicious

                Gabby's approach to life

                Gabby’s approach to life

                Cam brought his friend on our recent trip to see my sister. When we came back, we stood in our driveway while Hunter told his dad that he had been invited back next summer. “We’ll see, buddy,” said his dad. “This week without you was tough.” I thought, oh, how sweet, they really missed him- and that was the end of my thought process.

                Gabby stayed with my sister after the rest of us left. She returns tomorrow and I cannot wait. I miss her silly jokes and her crazy-fun ideas. I miss the way we do a synchronized routine to The Three R’s by Jack Johnson at bedtime. The house sounds really silent without her infectious giggle every ten minutes. Binge-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer is no fun without her (We’re in season 5). She’s sending me hilarious texts every day– many including facts about the corn snake she is still not getting for her birthday– but I miss her beautiful sweet face and her crazy hair and the fact that she eats all the fruit in the house within 36 hours of purchase. I miss the happy tornado that touched down in our family on August 8, 2003, and has only spun tighter and faster as time goes by.

                I picked up Hunter for lacrosse practice tonight and said to his dad, “I totally understand what you meant about next summer.”

                  Addie J

                  The J is quite literal. If you say, for example, “That’s as clean as a whistle,” she’ll reply, “Whistles aren’t clean. They have spit on them.” If Dave is around, he usually replies with this:

                  This morning, “America’s Sweetheart” was playing and Addie put down her real spoon. “Mom, I’ve put a lot of thought into this,” she said. “She can’t be America’s Sweetheart. That’s one of President Obama’s daughters.”

                  Follow that logic and let me know how it works.


                    We have been traveling, as I’m sure you guessed. Cam had an out-of-state tournament and then we went on to visit my sister for a week. Here is a list of stuff that happened, in no particular order:

                    • Addie J turned 10 years old. (What???)
                    • Continuing my grand tradition of always forgetting something, I forgot my hairbrush.
                    • Is it possible for a person’s hair to get curlier over time? -Because Gabby’s hair curls up more every second.
                    • Mom and Jill and I spent one gorgeous and perfect afternoon together at a winery.
                    • I trapped a live bee within the hollow underside of a bomber shot glass.
                    • Cam brought his friend Hunter on this trip, and together they devised a game wherein you use a lacrosse stick and ball on a basketball court. It’s surprisingly fun.
                    • Continuing our tradition of doing something new every time we visit, we did a rope adventure climb and why are canvas harnesses so freaking uncomfortable?
                    • Jill and I were able to run together twice during this trip.
                    • Seriously. Go back and read about the bee again. I feel like this achievement should be getting more coverage.

                    So basically, it was our usual fun and easygoing time. Now we’re back at home, regrouping a bit before the next thing. This photo of Gabby, performing an Irish dance jump, is a perfect visual for what our summer has been like so far:

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