Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Big Love

So the summer wasn't ALL THAT bad; we spent a couple of weeks at my parents' house in Connecticut with my sisters and all 8 cousins. Of course, after all my chatter to the girls about how cool it gets at night and how they needed to pack their fleeces, we arrived in the middle of the most oppressive heat wave I can remember in 27 summers there. "I thought you said it was going to be chilly." Sumner said to me wearing her new fleece in the 95 degree heat as sweat poured down her temples. When I suggested she remove her fleece she insisted on wearing it a.) because it was new b.) because I told her it was going to be chilly. At least she listened...

So here we are and for the first time it occurred to me on about my second day there as I walked in the house and paused as I glimpsed at a plaque that has always been hung by the back door that said, "On this site in 1897, nothing happened." Ha ha...except, at this house, there's always something happening. This house is the house where everyone with little kids loves to come and play because they know they will find the "Action." This house is the one that always has the yummy food, and there's generally a freshly baked cake from scratch sitting on the counter.

Within 24 hours of my arrival I had climbed a tree in pursuit of half the cousins, witnessed a mud fight, a pie eating contest, a ping pong tournament, watched a homemade Fashion show complete with towels strewn across the yard for a runway. Is there anything better than this? Where else would there be a pool party virtually every day, celebrations at the dinner table, and dance parties after dinner?

And it got me thinking that there's something to this "It takes a village" idea as my sisters and I traded off kids. I think maybe I need a wife...one of my kids is bugging me, so we trade. Meals are cooperative, with me generally distracting all the cousins so the other grown ups can have free reign in the kitchen to get the meal on the table. It's co-parenting at it's best. It helps that we have 4 big kids and 4 little kids, so they are usually divided between the bigs and littles or girls and boys. My stay at my parents' house got me thinking about how great it would be to live close to my sisters do...and I think that was why it was so hard when I got home. At the beach there was always someone to talk to..those people on Big Love might just have a good idea (except for the sharing a husband part.)

But isn't it amazing how we go home to our parents and immediately revert to our familial roles, no matter how old we are? So it was not surprising that about a week into the visit the sibling rivalry began. I had talked before about my parents asking us to make a list of 10 big things we want from their house in Connecticut so they can start giving us their paintings, furniture etc...so I make my list while I'm there, carefully considering what my sisters might want and trying not to be too demanding blah blah blah...

So at the top of my list was a painting that hangs in the foyer that I have loved for years. When I tell my Dad its on my list he responds with a quick, "Oh, Chis wants that..." Um, excuse me? My brother-in-law??? Yes, he is a true brother to and he's been in my life, listened to me and harassed me like an actual brother for almost 20 years...So I was furious (not truly, because I do realize these things are just things,..." but still. So I force my Dad away from his computer to help me get the painting off the wall when the house was empty and without another word said about it, I hid it in the attic.

It didn't take long for Chis to notice the missing painting and figure out what had happened. The next morning when I went to call Elliot, I realized that my cell phone was missing. I searched EVERYWHERE for the damn thing and as I storm through the house I hear my brother-in-law, not even looking away from the television, say, "I'll give you the phone back when the painting is back on the wall." And there you have it. So this went on for almost THREE days, until finally I could take it no longer and waved the white flag.

Well, whoever thinks our children don't watch and learn is sorely mistaken, as later that week, I woke before six one morning to Sumner standing over me, curly moustache drawn on her face; when I opened my eyes she said, "Who did this???" I gotta hand it to her, I generally expect her to not be a great sport, as she has a hard time laughing at herself, but she fought a smile because she knew just how funny it was. Her twin's punishment? She had to sit still as a stone while her sister drew a biker stache on her...

I guess I hadn't set the best example. I went in the girls bathroom recently and found that someone had written,"Marshall, you stink" ON the toilet paper roll. And so it goes on...but this kind of messing around seems harmless enough, right? Isn't it everyone's sisterly instinct to bug and pester 'till you hit your absolute limit. After your sister says, "Don't touch me." doesn't everyone get their finger as close to her arm as possible and say "I'm not touching you..." in a sing-songey voice even at age 35? Don't we all give extra bear hugs to our siblings who don't like to be touched and eat our corn on the cob extra loud next to those family members known to hate, "Eating noises." It could always be worse...at least they're keeping it interesting, and this rivalry seems to be universal...

So I came back to Charlotte and my house, which once seemed so crazy, was eerily quiet. That is, until the newness of being home wore off, and I went upstairs to find Goldfish crackers under CeCe's pillow and her piggy bank full of cheese- go figure...

When I grow up...

Just before our MLK weekend trip to Florida, Sumner and Marshall were assigned a first grade project about what they want to be when they grow up. They were to research it, write a report, and then present it to their class this past week. I wasn't totally sure what Sumner would choose, she tends to surprise us because she has always been such a unique thinker. But Marshall, I just knew she would choose teacher because she is forever shutting herself in the playroom and playing school while wearing my highest heels, not sure why she thinks this is what teachers wear, she sees me go off to teach school in flat shoes every day, "Are those the kind of shes Mrs. Powell wears?" I tease, truthfully I kind of like the glamourous spin she gave to teaching with her sassy shoes.

So I should have seen it coming when I observed what they were watching on the airplane to Florida. They were so both enamored with having their own personal Jet Blue TV and we let them choose whatever they wanted to watch. Except for CeCe, who, when allowed to choose will select the MOST inappropriate things. She was sitting with Elliot (who was happily engaged with CNBC and paying no attention) in the row behind me and I turned around and saw her face glued to the television with eyes as big as saucers. When I tapped her and asked her what she was watching she said, "It's about babies," Then I realize that she had tuned into A Baby Story on TLC, a show on which they video actual births. NOOOOO, not yet, I mean she knows about it and everything but there was no need for her to truly witness it.

So back to When I Grow Up, Marshall chose to watch the Food Network the entire plane ride and Sumner tuned into Animal Planet. I could have guessed from this alone what they would choose as their professions. Sumner wanted to be a Pet Shop Owner, a natural choice as she has always been a gentle,sweet and attentive animal lover. No baby dolls EVER for this girl, she is strictly a stuffed animal kind of a kid. Elliot and I tried to explain that it takes a lot of money to start your own pet shop but she clearly was not thinking of the business side of it. She just wanted a shop where the pets wouldn't have to be caged up and could wander around, sort of like free range chicken but with dogs, cats, bunnies, whatever.

But Marshall? She dropped teaching in a heartbeat after watching a few episodes of Ace of Cakes. I don't usually like to abbreviate but so I don't totally shock my Mother I'll just say WTF? Hadn't I made teaching AND mothering look appealing? What happened to all of those hours she has spent playing school? All the checklists I have made so she can take the attendance of all her stuffed animals? Brown Bunny? Check. Nibbles? Check. Hop? Check. Bear Bear? Oh he must be sick today. Maybe she soured on the idea after she tried using CeCe and our neighbor's 4 year old as students recently, an endeavor that did not go so well. I was in the kitchen making dinner and heard her yelling at them from the playroom, "Would Mrs. Powell ever use a voice like that to you?" I asked as she shook her head, no, for she has the utmost respect and admiration for Mrs. Powell, and Marshall would do anything to please her AND be like her.

So Marshall gave this project considerable thought and then decided she wanted to be a baker like her Aunt Lesley. "You know it's a lot of hard work and being on your feet and getting up when it's still dark out." I said, not trying to discourage her, but getting over the shock that she had dropped my profession without thought after a couple of hours with the Food Network. "I know," she shrugged, and stuck with her decision. Fine by me, I tried not to be snippy about it, but still. I did get a little worried when she asked me if she would have to go to college to be a baker or if she could just go straight into baking. I tried not to put any pressure on her but said, "Well, Dad and I would like you to go to college, and you could take some art classes there and become and even better cake designer." This is code talk for "You're going to college and that's that."

I can't help but think that this whole When I Grow Up project is a rite of passage. Someone needs to do a study on what people choose as a kid and what they actually end up being. Elliot wanted to be a garbage man when he was little. When I called my parents to ask if they had any of my old projects about what I wanted to be they said, "We don't remember what you wanted to be, but your sister wanted to be a school cook." Ok, so I understand them remembering how hilarious it was that Tracy wanted to be a school cook, who in their right mind actually chooses this. Great, that is just so typical that no one saved the project of the third kid. They probably have my sister's when I grow up presentation on Betamax video and then no one even remembers what even I CHOSE.... I know, I know, I need to stop feeling sorry for myself and get back to the point. I'd bet $100 I will get a phone call from my Dad today to tease me about this, I can hear him now, "Oh, poor baby Caroline, your life was sooooo hard."

Even though my parents couldn't remember what I wanted to be, I didn't even need to ask them because I already knew what I would have chosen. I always wanted to be a Mother AND a Teacher, aspirations that have remained constant my entire life. It dawned on me how lucky I am to actually be doing both. Now, mother, wife, teacher, grad student extraordinaire? I think I am pushing the limits a little lately and spreading myself a little too thin.

In a Family Theory class I took over the summer we watched a documentary in which the idea that the Mother's state of mind establishes a balance for the whole family. One would think that I would be pleased with such an important role, but this statement managed to strike a cord of irritation in me. Why does it all have to come down on the mother? Kid gets in trouble at school? Must be the mother. Preschooler bites on the playground? Bad mothering is the probable cause. Kids are picky eaters? Must be the mother's cooking style (or lack of).

I think I need to focus a little less though on what irritated me about this documentary and put into practice what was said next which is this: Mothers must find something they enjoy and do more of that. This sounds so simple and it got me thinking, "Hmmmmmm what do I like, what do I like," My conclusion is that I pretty much like what I am doing, I just wish there were a few more hours in the day to do it. To be a mother in the 21st century means doing the delicate dance of showing our kids how much we want to be home with them while also having a life ourselves and enjoy things that have nothing to do with our kids.

So I think this is what we tried to emphasize with the When I Grow Up projects. You have to ENJOY what you are doing or else you are not going to want to do it. I couldn't be as perky with all of my sweet students if I didn't actually WANT to be there each day. And the truth of it is, I really don't care what my kids decide to be. One of the things I so appreciate about Elliot as a father is that he feels the same way. "I don't care where they go to college, as long as they go." he has said. I LOVE this about him, because he adores these girls and wants them to feel fulfilled and confident about what they are doing, wherever they are and whatever they decide to do.

I truly don't care if Marshall is a teacher, it's the being a wife and mothering that I want to model well. I told the girls that my number one dream was to be a wife and mother, and if I can possibly show them how much I love doing this each day then I am really getting somewhere, regardless of where I went to school or what my other aspirations may be...or how annoyed I may get with them during the day, we mothers are only human, you know...

Born to be Wild

I realized today that I haven't blogged since Tuesday. My apologies if you have been waiting for a post, but my new schedule happens to be kicking my ass. Between grad school, preschool, getting my kids to elementary school and all of the other things in between like trying to be an attentive wife, mother, dog mother, sister, friend, daughter extraordinaire, I have been neglecting my blogging commitment. This doesn't, however, mean I am giving up on the blog, I have several semi written idea sheets on various mediums. Notebooks, clipboards, I even found a snippet on the inside of the school directory. So much for the pretty Mama journal, I write when I can and where I can these days.

So something happened this morning that got me thinking. We bumped into some old friends walking their dogs while we were at the dog park and we hadn't seen them in ages. As we got to chatting and the Mom reminded me that the last time they came over for dinner, when we tried to put the twins to bed, we had to put not one, but two baby gates at the doorway to their room to keep them from getting out. It was not unusual at that time to put them to bed and then hear screaming moments later as they climbed the gates and could get up but not down. They have always been climbers, hence the DOUBLE gate situation. At that point in my life, it was not unusual for me to leave the room for 1 minute and return to find both girls standing on the dining room table trying to hoist each other up onto the chandelier. I had to have two gates otherwise I would never have been able to sleep at night wondering who was getting out and wandering all over the house. So leave it to our two to figure out how to scale a 6 foot gate, and how mortifying that our old friends had remembered this years later. What kind of a nightmare are we?

I remember when the twins were toddlers and we would leave them, we had one of those gate/playpen things in our family room so that I could leave to answer the phone or go to the bathroom without being frantic that someone was going to get hurt. So Elliot called this thing "The Cage." I know, cruel right? But it so wasn't like the old playpens from the 70's all wooden with spread apart bars to stick your head through. "The Cage" was appealing and colorful and had toys all over it, very kid friendly. I remember having a new babysitter to the house and as Elliot and I were heading towards the door he turned around and said "Don't be afraid to use the cage." I think she was terrified about what she had gotten herself into. Babysitting for Sumner and Marshall back then was the ULTIMATE birth control for any teenage babysitter. We could have had their mothers and fathers pay US for the lessons they took away from babysitting for toddler twins. We even had one babysitter who had to call her mother to come over and help her. It's never a good sign when you call to check in and the sitter says, "Well, my Mom's here..." Enough said, you get the picture...

So as we are laughing about the gates and the toddler mischief, Sumner and Marshall come up and report that they are cold, so Elliot gives them his keys so they can get their coats from the back of his car. "They were so naughty back then, but they're so grown up now. I really can't believe they're in First Grade..." Well, I realized as the words came out of my mouth that I basically just dared them to do something reminiscent of the old mischievous days. It's like how I said whenever I look at the Tylenol in the grocery store someone gets sick, I had just set myself up...it has happened many times before. And so, true to form, frick and frack come running up to report that in 30 seconds flat they had locked Elliot's keys in his car. They couldn't help but giggle but I feared for them. I know that Elliot is oh so patient but this kind of mishap can be his undoing. He handled it better than I thought and ran home to get his spare set of keys, but still, you knew we had it coming when I started talking about how mature they have become.

It sort of reminded me of one time when I was dropping of my friend Bridget's daughter and she was commenting about how well behaved my twins are. I had left the girls in the back of my Suburban (aaahhhh I miss that car...) and had gotten out to chat at the door. As she complimented my girls' behavior I beamed and thanked her and discussed how much hard work it had been but that I really felt that I had been sticking to my guns and they were learning the rules and listening soooo well. Then I glanced at the car and saw it was shaking back and forth. Rookie mistake. I NEVER should have said that, and just as it came out of my mouth, just like with our friends this morning, it was if I saw the words in a little conversation bubble when I exclaimed about how wonderful the girls are. When I got back to the car, I opened the door only to look in the backseat and see that they had escaped to the way back and were both completely naked and jumping up and down laughing. Oh, yes, they really are growing up to be fine and wise little ladies, Mom turns her back for one second and they're nude in public.

This is so my life. I was in such disbelief that I didn't even bother to dress them and we headed home as I cooled down. Just shows what being smug about your kid gets you...there is a surprise around every corner. This is just how parenthood goes. Once you think you've got a handle on things, along comes some new problem or phase that you need to tackle. Like our neighbor across the street says, "Little kids, little problems. Big kids, big problems." I am not so much worried about all of these little things as I am about them growing up and becoming normal functioning members of society. I can handle the little mishaps, but what happens if they start to grow up and still can't follow the rules?

The relief for me is that they are perfect angels at school, so I guess when they are out there in the world they are on their best behavior. I was such a goody two shoes, I wouldn't have even considered some of the shenanigans Sumner and Marshall stir up. According to Elliot's family, he acted up at times, and they hear stories about our kids and laugh that it is payback. What goes around comes around, and our kids locking his keys in his car makes up for the time he locked his mother and sister OUT of the car when he was in it and was tired of being dragged around on too many errands. They had to bribe him with a Chunky bar to get him to open the doors...I gotta give him credit, that takes guts.

So I guess my girls come by this naturally. A little naughty is good, in kids AND grown ups don't you think? It keeps life interesting, and we are never lacking for action around here...

Advanced Beginners

You know how when you take swimming lessons or skating or something and they group you according to ability? Some days I think parents rate themselves and each other this way. People with babies are novices, then come beginners, and we with young grade school aged children...advanced beginners. It's not until you get to puberty that a parent can call oneself an Intermediate. Once you get them past 18 you can graduate to Advanced.

CeCe got in trouble at school for talking too much last week, and when Elliot got home we took her up to our bedroom to sit her down privately and give her a talking to. So we discussed the importance of listening and following directions, and she nodded dutifully and assured us it wouldn't happen again. We ended the discussion by releasing her from our clenches to return to playing with her sisters. When she left the room Elliot and I looked at each other with disbelief, "I can't believe we're the parents." I said. Funny he was thinking the same thing. We just got started with this, we're beginners, well, maybe I guess advanced beginners, but still.

But the days are fast approaching when we have to think hard about these discussions. A friend pointed out this week that I am nearly halfway through the time period during which Sumner and Marshall will live at home. And while I have always thought dreamily about the days when all 3 will go to college, I am overcome with disbelief that we are already to this point. As I am trying hard to still keep them young, a lofty ambition in the year 2011, I don't want to have my head in the sand about the stage we are in.

But the signs are everywhere. The twins are creeping into this gray area where they are still little girls who talk to their stuffed animals and like to color, but at the same time, I catch glimpses of tweendom: an eye roll, no kiss on the way into school, extra time putting outfits together and working on hair, music blasting and door slamming. They're upon us, those fateful years when our parents will be chuckling as Elliot and I get ours after what we put them through during our teen years.

So along with all of this growth comes what every parent dreads: the talk. Even more painful than outing ourselves as Santa or the Easter Bunny. My girls basically know everything that's going to happen (because I'm a terrible liar) EXCEPT, as my friend Cindy would say, "Putting the thing in the thing." I just can't have that conversation yet. So being the informed advanced beginner mother that I am, I have begun to poll everyone I know about when to have, "THE TALK." The answers I have gotten have run the gamut of "I'm not telling them until they ask," to "I told my kids but they didn't believe me," to "Mine know everything and I have a vagina puppet I used to tell them." Ok, this last answer truly confirmed that we're not ready for this. I couldn't keep it together at the "V" word, much less a puppet shaped like one.

So when we venture out on one of our favorite post breakfast weekend spots, Barnes and Noble, I am generally pretty wary of the sex education section. But the girls and I love to browse and could kill an entire morning there, each in a separate aisle. A couple of weeks ago we were there and I was watching a friend's one year old for the day and lost track of one of the twins. When I found her, she was comfortably settled into the "Facts of life" section thumbing through one of the books. Usually the calm parent with an answer for everything, I tensed up, then took a deep breath. When she asked me if we could buy the book, I thought I was doing her a favor and preserving her precious childhood by telling her I thought we should wait a little before getting into all of that. She shrugged her shoulders and said OK before trotting off to look for some Harry Potter stuff.

Well, my regret set in almost immediately. I missed a great opportunity because of MY hang ups, not hers. When I relayed the whole episode to my sister, she scolded me saying, "You're holed up in your room on the phone with me, and she's probably downstairs getting her period." Easy for her to say, she has only boys, she'll never have to deal with some of these details. She'll tell her son anything and he'll just go right back to playing with his Star Wars paraphernalia.

While generally SO honest with whatever question the girls throw my way, I have trouble reconciling why the whole sex thing is giving me a nervous breakdown. It's not explaining the actual ACT, but the questions that I know will result about MY experience, and I just don't think I can lie about some of the details. So I struggle between being an advanced beginner, and getting in touch with my former self. How much of ourselves do we reveal to our kids? Sometimes as parents we paint ourselves the picture of perfection, when in reality our kids might benefit from learning about some of our flaws.

Tonight I got in the car, after being the responsible adult/wife/mother, making dinner, getting homework done, and was just scooting up to Rite Aid to pick up a prescription (as any conscientious grown-up will do). I sat down, started the car, and Elliot was obviously blasting the radio in attempt to unwind on his way home from work. The song that was on immediately took me back to the mid 90's;Pearl Jam at its best, and almost instantly conjured up the feelings that related to that time period in my life. I cruised around the neighborhood, not thinking about anything but the lyrics, and felt for just a brief moment that I was that young person again.

Isn't it amazing how a song or smell can take you back so quickly in a way that an actual memory cannot? I thought of graduation parties, the uncertainty of ending college and where my life was going to head, all with that one song. The smell Purell hand sanitizer takes me immediately back to the Intensive care nursery where Sumner and Marshall spent their first days. I guess this is why food is so important with family traditions, because your senses are so much more keen than your actual memories.

So when I get small glimpses or minutes of being my former self, I wonder about what I will tell my kids when they ask me about my younger days. "Anything about experimenting with sex or drugs....lie." said Elliot emphatically when I posed this question to him. "But I'm the worst liar in the world, they'll know." I answered. A couple of weeks ago, we got into a discussion about smoking, Marshall and Sumner (with a friend in the car) asked me if I ever smoked. "Yes, before I had you guys." I said truthfully. Well, honesty NOT appreciated, the reaction I got from them was totally unexpected. It was as if I told them they were adopted or something. "WHAT, YOU DID THAT??" one of them yelled from the far back seat of the car. I thought I was going to get points for full disclosure, when I actually was persecuted by my 8 year olds for revealing my less than perfect former self. Go figure. I'm still figuring out how to handle the heavy stuff.

So I will continue to teeter back and forth between responsible mother and real person who is flawed and the consummate lady, making advanced beginner decisions and having close to intermediate talks with th

Yer Buggin Me

During all of this wonderful quality time with my kids I have noticed that they have acquired a routine that Elliot and I have established that comes from being together for 15 years. I am sure many married couples do this, although per usual Broadfoot style, we tend to take it to the umpteenth degree. There are certain things I say that I just innately know are going to irritate Elliot or provoke some sort of a reaction out of him...try this, ladies, it's a really good way to test if he's actually listening to you. Of course, two can play that game, and Elliot is almost always ready and willing to play.

Why is it that in relationships we get to know each other and identify each others’ hot spots and then trigger them for no reason, or in our case, deliberately, for amusement? Elliot does this, I know I do this, and all of a sudden I have noticed that, oh yes, we have 3 more buggers in the house who have learned this soooo from their parents that they are perfecting it on each other.

Let it be known that my dear, sweet husband who I am sure everyone thinks is such a saint for putting up with me and all of my kookiness has quite the pesky streak. One might not suspect this because he generally appears to be, "All business." But some of this he does come by naturally (I once threatened to slip a "Places to go, People to annoy" bumper sticker on his car) but some of it he works at, and hard…. It is always great for him when he has an audience, like two weeks ago when we were on vacation in the mountains with his family. He pinpoints certain words known to bug me and then tries his darndest to slip them in casual conversation. "Has anyone seen the sun cream?" He would ask, and then minutes later at the lunch table asked me to pass him the "Salad cream…" now this was what salad dressing was called when we lived in England and it always undid me…why cream? Doesn’t this almost ruin salad for you?

So it’s not only certain words, but the smug sideways glance he gives when he uses them. On vacation I was sitting on the couch reading my book when I hear him in the kitchen asking his mother what was for dinner. She told him we were planning on having some leftovers and making a salad, you know, just whatever is in the fridge…, “So it’s just a catch as catch can…” he says, and I glance at him peering over at me from the kitchen to make sure I heard the expression he had used, knowing it would bug the crap out of me.Oh, and lest we not forget his talent for doing the robot, or when he pretends to be a birdwatcher and threatens to go buy a feathered bird suit and hide in the backyard to do some of his “Watching…” Oh yes, so these are the games we play, deliberately bugging for Elliot and me is just so darn fun. It’s not in a, “She’s annoying I have to get away from her” kind of a way, but more of a “I’m going to tease and see if I can get a laugh” type of bugging…The most fun of all is when Elliot and I are able to join forces and do this with (or should I say against) the girls. It’s not mean, it’s more a breaking in process, so they won’t be too wussy or the type of person who can dish it out but can’t take it….these really are lessons we are teaching them while having a little fun doing it. Marshall seems to be the easiest target for this, as she embarrasses easily and can sometimes have a low threshold for annoyance, so getting a reaction from her is simple.

And the girls now do this to each other. CeCe knew how much it annoyed her sisters the week she went to dance camp when she called it "Hip Hop Camp." This somehow to them made her seem older and it provoked them all week long. "CeCe, It's Camp Tutu..." They would shout every morning from the back of the car when she mused to herself, "I wonder if I'll do hip hop or jazz at camp today..."

And yes, I do it too, sometimes purposefully, sometimes forgetfully or out of habit. I can't help leaving the top to the peanut butter all lopsided when I half screw it back on after eating a spoonful. It's partly because I'm in a rush and partly because it has sort of become my calling card. Now I hate to be so cliche, but if I didn't describe this I wouldn't be completely honest: I can't use the remote to our television. It has become sort of a thing for us. You know, one of those things that bugs but sort of half-joking bugs...I realized this when I went to watch T.V. last week and found that Elliot had put a label on the remote.

Does this strike anyone else as a bit, um, unfriendly? A friend called later that day and asked if I had seen Oprah, "I'm not supposed to touch the remote," I answered...

So the label maker has become a vehicle for communication for several family members, it was also last week that Sumner had been bugged SO much by her family members that she stuck this doozy on her forehead. In case you don't have your reading glasses, the label says, "Can not talk to me." Geez, point taken, we get it...

But then I go in the laundry room to fold my 6 millionth load of clothes and on the shelf Elliot has put a label that says "Love." So I remember, while bugged, the reason why I do it all in the first place...

Shame on me...

So I took a little break; it was one of those intentional things that I didn't really know the reason for at the time. Then last week I was out for drinks with two writer friends who bullied me, oops, I mean lovingly encouraged me to discuss the sudden disappearance of the blog.

So here's what happened: Mother's Day. At the end of the day I wrote a horrible, ungrateful, and spiteful post that made me ashamed for being such a brat when I went back to edit it. Granted my family was a little, um, unprepared for the "Holiday," I can understand as well as anyone how a day that is very special to someone else can somehow creep up on you, but still. I can picture Elliot and the girls in the kitchen going, "Shit, it's Mother's Day. Did you get a card? Go make one real quick..." all the while I am upstairs pretending to sleep in. But it wasn't the lack of cards, flowers, or breakfast in bed that got to me, rather, the unbalance that Mother's Day creates in our household. The fact that I was not there to jump happily to every one's passing need threw my family off and it was like the blind leading the blind.

So instead of reacting positively and thinking to myself, "Awww, they need me, they are lost without me, they are really going to appreciate me after a day of doing everything themselves." Bratty, ungrateful princess that I was in desperate need of some perspective wrote a scathing, angry blog post entitled, "Damn you, Mother's Day" in which the opening sentence was, "Mother's Day is the biggest cluster fuck of the century." Ugggh, I am remorseful thinking about it now, but at the time it was therapeutic. So I was mad. And resentful. And tearful, so instead of going to the pool with my 4 greatest people, I chose to stay home, be spiteful, and capture my whole mood on paper, er cyberspace.

So when I cooled off and began to proofread the next day, I couldn't stand the words on the page. 'Who is this disgusting, selfish person?' I thought, because I always hoped I would write the blog and imagined someday the girls would read it. There was no way they could have read "Damn You Mother's Day" and not have hurt feelings. So I stopped writing. Period. Not even a journal entry. Because my Mother's Day manifesto freaked me out. I totally get writing to vent our frustrations, don't we all need an outlet like that? But it made me wonder if I actually harbored the kind of deep resentment that could be hurtful. Not to mention how typical it is that I should feel so under appreciated on Mother's Day; it was almost like how when you were in high school and your boyfriend didn't do enough for you on Valentine's day and then you had a big fit about it. Like that...but 20 years later when I should be a whole lot more mature.

So the Mother's Day tantrum happened, and I decided to take a break and change my attitude. No more bitchy blogs. Cheerful supportive parenting...well, sort of, most of the time. But I was still a little iffy on the fast approach of summer. 13 weeks of total togetherness were ahead of me and it was making me sweat. Until something happened that literally took my breath away. I lost CeCe at Wal Mart. Now if you are a Mother and this has never happened to you, thank your lucky stars. If it has, well, you know this kind of terror.

All 3 girls and I were wandering through the aisles, and I was looking for some kitchen something-or-other and I turned around and she was gone. Sure she was on the next aisle I called, then the next, and the next until I abandoned my cart, my purse, and was running through the store calling her. Finally I stopped a sales person who asked me to describe what she was wearing and I could barely contain my emotions as we searched. It took probably 10 minutes, though it seemed like 50 times that long until I spotted her wandering; when she saw me we both came unraveled and I don't think I let go of her sweaty, chubby little hand for the rest of the day.

And so my sense of deep gratitude for the many gifts was renewed. But isn't it sad that it took something like that to make me figure it out? That said, I also realize that one can't help but be overwhelmed by the consistency required of parents. For every second of this child's life I knew where she was...playing in the backyard, at the pool with Elliot, down the street at the neighbor's house, with the babysitter of our choice. So for 9 years I have been keeping track of these girls...no wonder it's scary.

A few weeks ago I was downstairs and I saw something fall from the sky out the family room window at the same time I realized I didn't know where the twins were. I go upstairs to see what they are up to. Now I generally lay down a few simple rules in our house: No hitting, no name calling, no T.V. on school days, things of that nature. So when I send them off to play one would assume, "No going on the roof," would be a given. Well, a couple of lessons were learned that day: 1. I need to be more specific when I lay down the law, 2. Parenting is fraught with such intense obligation to care for our offspring that one must be on our toes at all times. I mean, geez, wouldn't you think I had covered my bases, did I really have to be say,"No going on the roof?" No wonder we parents are submerged in responsibilities, as there times when it feels that getting them through the day safely is a Herculean Task.

But we all know what happened to me last summer, feeling like parenting was an albatross, oh woe is me, this is so hard, blah blah blah...but this summer? I had the kick in the ass I needed to get me to turn around my attitude just as school was getting out. I had a little more patience for all of the things that normally would have undone me, like CeCe picking Amelia Bedelia as her story every night and asking the same questions about each double entendre like "Dust the furniture," or "Draw the drapes," were all about. Or the Karaoke machine that we thought was such a good idea...yes, I came at it with a higher level of tolerance and gratitude.

Now here we are a week into the beginning of school and I am actually a little remorseful about the end of summer...um, kind of...because there is nothing more annoying than the smug mother on the playground who acts all sad to see her children go to school. It's kind of like those who claim that their kids never fight, or that they only buy vegetables at the Farmer's Market, or that they don't watch T.V. I may be filled with a new sense of gratitude, but with it comes a renewed INability to bullshit. This summer may have been better, but September...I LOVE you.

Gimme some Candy...

Aaaah Halloween…how could I not write about this holiday which includes simultaneous joy and anguish at our house. It has been especially important this year, as I feel I have a lot to make up for considering last year I THREW AWAY all three children’s costumes during the crazed and furious (and thorough) lice clean out of 2009; this was a mistake I didn’t discover until, um, an HOUR before it was time to get dressed for our Halloween party. Then a complete downpour of both rain and tears ensued at our house as trick-or-treating was all but ruined...it wasn't a great time to point out that this might be the year to miss trick or treating, since everyone's costume was crappy anyway...

So this year, we began planning in August. One can never be too prepared when it comes to this dreaded holiday which most likely includes a hair breakdown, wardrobe malfunction, and yes…barfing. My children tend to eat themselves sick, so I am fully prepared with the towel trail to the bathroom from each child’s room.

CeCe is generally prone to costume changes at the last minute, “I want to be an Indian this year,” she said, “I’m gonna wear the costume Mimi brought me from India with a bindi dot and my feathered headdress and moccasins.” Ok, clearly we had some explaining to do with her that her costume idea could result in the most offensive politically incorrect blunder in the history of the Biltmore Drive Halloween parade. “Noooo, being a Native American is not the same thing as dressing like someone from India,” I clarified. How was she to know, she is only 5…and in truth, I think it might have been sort of funny, she could have won the contest with that one...

But here’s the thing, I used to love Halloween; the crisp fall weather, the candy, the pumpkins…not so much the dressing up part but all of the other stuff. Now, every year, Halloween seems like this super fun day that I look forward to so much, and then when it arrives it’s kind of a nightmare. There's just so much pressure around it now. As I write I’m sitting on our porch handing out candy to every little brat in Charlotte-Mecklenberg County. And it’s not that I am trying to be a stick in the mud, I just can’t get excited about older kids, barely in costume who don’t even say “Trick-or-treat” anymore… don’t care if our house will probably be egged or toilet papered later tonight, I am the bitch on Biltmore Drive who makes every little turd ask for candy by saying "Trick-or-treat" and demands a thorough description of costumes. Kid doesn’t say thank you...he gets called on it….No costume? You're in for an interrogation. I also raise my eyebrows at some pubescent teenagers who in my opinion were too old to be trick-or-treating.

I did happen to encounter two lovely boys (in Harry Potter garb, which gives you an indication as to their high school social status) who were asking me what I was doing on my computer. “Are you a writer?” they asked eagerly. “Yes, I am a writer, I’m working on an article that will be part of a book…” Oh, like scary stories?” one of them said, as if I am Stephen King or something. I thought for a second and then answered frankly, “Parts of it are pretty scary, actually…” What? I’m not talking about the kids, I was just being honest about parenthood… hee hee.

Why the witchy Halloween attitude? Well for one, I just didn’t feel like freezing my ass off on the porch while Elliot gets to walk around and have all the fun. But also, I don’t understand when it all got so complicated. Your costume has to be clever, your house has to be decorated and your candy had better be good. Halloween seemed like the only holiday that didn’t have the potential to get all messed up by modern day extravagances, but this seems to be the year when I realize that it has begun to change. Costumes are more expensive than ever, and it’s not just candy anymore…it’s stickers and flashlights and whatnot…you know, all the crap that clutters your junk drawer. You can’t just carve a face on your pumpkin, its got to be some impressive design that you printed off the Internet. “Well, I’m not doing that,” I said to the girls this morning when we were deciding what kind of jack o’lantern to make. I know, I’m old fashioned, but I just really used to love the days when you would make your costume or come up with something that was in your closet already… and remember the thrill I used to get when my mom would put Halloween candy in my lunch. Now you can ‘t even do that , you’ve gotta trade it with the Switch Witch the day after and she brings you a toy if you give her your candy. That totally sux….

But I know I need to drop the attitude because really it’s all about the little moments and the excitement the kids feel when they get to dress up, and I’m sure one day I will forget all about the hassle of it all and think about the door CeCe knocked on and said, “Trick or Treat, I have to poop…” Yes, that really happened, and yes, the kind neighbor let her leave the downstairs powder room virtually unusable after using it….But really, I know, it’s about appreciating it all, and the joy that comes from getting to do it all over again with our kids. I guess I sort of become even a little more childish than usual too as the most fun I have had this Halloween was sneaking a "Gimmie Some Candy" temporary tattoo where the sun don't shine...we all need to have a little fun right?

And so begins the season one of my former coworkers used to call, "HalloThankMas..." when the kids are wild, the grownups are edgy and there's not enough time to do anything...but I am determined to attack it with a new resolve. I have done my complaining about Halloween, let's see if I can get through the next two holidays without too much whining...yeah right.

Blogger's Remorse?

Ok, so now it’s out there; I haven’t followed through with my commitment to the blog. Deal with it. After my last entry, I think in July, I wrote oh so sweetly that I was so motivated by Elliot’s enthusiasm for my writing that I decided to really buckle down and make the time for it again…so I asked him a couple of days after posting what he thought of my latest entry…. “UUUHHH, I haven’t had time to read it yet.” So now, three months later, I’m back, ‘cause I just haven’t had time to get around to it…” Ha! Two can play that game.

But actually, it is with good reason that I have been on hiatus (I like the sound of that, it makes me feel really important) and it has nothing to do with Elliot. I began writing because I wanted to keep better track of all the little things that happen in our lives. The big things with kids make an indelible imprint on our parental brains, but who can remember all of the small moments, some humorous, some mundane, but all meaningful. So when I began, I had the best intention…recording our lives FOR the kids, well, that sort of naturally morphed into me making FUN of the kids. What can I say, I can’t help it, it's done with love. But somewhere over the summer I lost my lighthearted tendency to laugh and shrug off the small stuff. Having all three girls home all day, every day I began to feel the heady responsibility that so many mothers feel and won’t admit to because they feel too guilty.

I think this is one of those entries that I wish was anonymous; my friends and I have had many debates over this. But when I “committed” to the blog, I decided I had to be willing to put it all out there and not give a shit about what people thought of it. You can love it, hate it, be moved or irritated by it, but I’m writing it and doing it without reservation, because I think this is a maternal issue that needs to be out there.

I got depressed…which if you see me every day is SO unlike me; not saying I’m Little Miss Perky all of the time but I am generally in very good spirits (who else could be a preschool teacher.) But suddenly, each day, I felt the weight of the world, and less humor in it. I began to feel less and less amused by the daily happenings around our house and only could hear the negative interactions between my children. And summer will do this to you…not that I’m blaming the Public school system for giving us summer vacation, or Mother Nature for sending the temperature up and shrouding us with humidity, but still. Having everyone home is so fucking hard, and there is a feeling of loneliness in motherhood that no one really warns you about. I have felt this before, no stranger to isolation (lest we not forget I had two toddlers and a newborn in the dead of winter in Connecticut). Try being lonely as hell while never ACTUALLY being alone…

So I faked it for awhile, went dutifully to the pool, out for ice cream, and daily bike rides, but my heart wasn’t in it. I do think my kids began to pick up on my faking, and in turn began to bicker like it’s nobody’s business…. But there’s just something so painful about being half in it all the time, almost like flat-lining and not knowing how to pull out of it. Now don’t get me wrong, I was functioning…but just not able to put my finger on my lack of enthusiasm for, ummmm...everything.

I can write about this in retrospect because I have had a positive outcome. Elliot, who has known me and handled my antics since 1995 (Oh my God 16 years, we’re so old) finally sat me down because I just didn’t seem like myself. I give him massive credit for knowing me oh, so well, because I am, in fact, an excellent faker. I adore my husband for this, as he saw through it…. “I think I’m depressed.” I said, matter of factly, and naming it actually began to make it feel better. Never one to sit idly, the next day I had an appointment with my doctor, and now, I’m the poster girl for Zoloft.

Embarassed about it? Clearly I’m not, as I am writing this for everyone I know to read. Honesty about this issue is so very important for us Moms (or anyone for that matter, don’t mean to play the Mom card,) as we muddle through our days. Don’t get me wrong, my life is not that hard, which makes the guilt surrounding feeling depressed even that much weightier. But if I can help one person who may be coasting through on autopilot then it’s worth the embarrassment of this entry. I’m pretty upfront with anyone who asks me, and have gotten some pretty strange looks from people who innocently ask me, “How was your summer?” and I respond with, “It sucked, it blew, or I’m glad it’s over.” But I’m just being honest and editing myself is not really my forte…as those devoted to reading this may already know.

Not all entries will be this heavy going forward, but I couldn’t start blogging again, even though I have wanted to, without putting this out there.
So readers, think twice about giving me any shit about not blogging enough in the past couple of months or else you might get to hear more about how my summer was…hee hee hee…

Mother of the Year

Do you ever get a vision in your head about the way things are supposed to be and then have a tantrum when you just can't seem to make it work out like you planned? Elliot and I were talking about one of the girls this week and how she likes things a certain way; not necessarily the "Right" way, but just the way she has envisioned it. When she is not able to execute it, she either gets mad or gives up, usually resulting in throwing something, yelling at the unsuspecting passer by, or pouting somewhere. And so the blame game began. "I don't know where she gets it," I remarked, followed by a typical, "Must be from you," I said to Elliot and then kissed him goodbye as he left for work.

I went for my run that morning, I couldn't stop thinking about our conversation and then began to realize that Sumner could, in fact, get this from me and I am just too darn stubborn to see it. I thought back to comments a couple of people in my life have made in recent months. My hairdresser Lesley said that last time I was in, "Just once I would like you to come in here and not be SO hard on yourself." She responded as I examined my wrinkles AND acne in her oh so huge mirror, "Just once I wish your lighting in here wouldn't be so harsh..." I responded. By the way, no one warned me that wrinkles and acne could occur simultaneously...I mistakenly thought that once you got wrinkles, your acne days were over; I seem to be one of the lucky ones who gets to have them both at once.

Later in that same week when I arrived home from my night class and asked our faithful babysitter, Lizzie how the girls were she tactfully, but honestly reported that they hadn't had the best night. I apologized profusely, then harshly blamed myself for their not so stellar behavior. "You are so hard on yourself. They're great girls," She said, and I apologized once more. My expectations are just too darn high, and I seem to be cycling in this pattern of self blame when things aren't just "So."

But truly, it has come to my attention that even though I am not working these days and my life is still in disarray. Not that it has to be perfect, but some semblance of organization and consistency would be nice. I thought I was going to have all of this "Time" and be such a stellar stay-at-home mother while I finish my school. Well, don't let this surprise you, but it ends up I am still not in the running for Mother of the year. Now I know no one is perfect, but I have started the school year off a bit,well, scattered,unfocused, I think could be a good word for it but I think we mothers often use the excuse of "Busy" as a more attractive way of describing it.

Aaaah Mother of the year, working to impress those around you usually bites me in the ass every time, and so it did when I made 28 cupcakes from scratch when Marshall informed me it was her teacher's birthday. I was up until after 10 frosting and decorating (And Momma don't stay up till 10.) I just wanted Marshall, who is usually so self conscious, to be proud to be the one to bring the yummy cupcakes to her teacher and her class.

After school the next day when I asked her how the cupcakes were she said, "Great." Then I encountered our next door neighbor's child who is in Marshall's class, "We weren't allowed to eat your cupcakes" He called from across the yard... "What?" I yelled, "I made those from scratch." Not that he cared, or even knew what "From scratch" was. So I go inside and ask Marshall what happened to the cupcakes, "Well, I brought them in and everyone got all excited, then Mrs. H pointed out the school rule about NOT eating anything homemade and she had to put them in the teacher's lounge...but I didn't want to make you feel bad." Awwww, sweet Marshall trying to spare my feelings. I guess it serves me right for trying to look so together and superior with my baking and whatnot. I think the thing to focus on in this story is that Marshall was very gracious and sensitive with me. The next day when I was walking past the school carrying the empty cupcake tray home, the gym teacher looks at me knowingly and said, "Ohhh it was you who made the cupcakes." I could read between the lines, what he meant was, "You're the moron who has been at this school for 3 years and still doesn't know you're not allowed to bake, but the cupcakes were yummy anyway."

It kinda made me think (and this goes waaaay back to the '80s) of the movie Mr. Mom, when he tries to drive carpool and has no idea what the rules are and some lady yells, "South to drop off, North to pick up, asshole." Well, that was me, I was the asshole, and I'm not even the Dad. You know how there is always at least one Mom in the class who is sort of not with the program? Well I fear that is me this year.

This conclusion was realized for sure a couple of weeks ago after Auggie (our puppy) had a wicked case of conjunctivitis. When I could put off a vet trip no longer, I broke down and called, "No, really, it's pink eye," I said, diagnosing him over the phone in the hopes I would not have to drag all 3 girls AND the pup to the vet.

So we get to the there and she says Auggie does, indeed, have pink eye. Dr. Abendroth asks if I still have the drops since the last time he had pinkeye and I told her I had cleaned out the cabinet (because I'm so organized) since then so she goes to get him some drops. When she comes back in the room she shows me the bottle and says he needs them twice a day. I see the bottle and a panic comes over me as I realize that I have just last week used the doggie drops on Marshall when I thought she had pink eye. "Uuhh, so, ummm hypothetically, what would happen if I used those on one of the girls?" I casually asked trying not to appear too concerned at my own blunder. "You mean the kids?" she asked sort of beginning a ventriloquist routine, with what I believe was a bit of a smirk. At that point, Marshall, ever the eavesdropper, realizes what we are talking about, puts two and two together, and yells, "I'm going to turn into a dog." Ok so rest assured, no need to call DSS, apparently dog drops and human drops have mostly the same ingredients, but still.

Basically, when my ONE job at the moment is to maintain the status quo at home, here I am putting eye drops for canines in my sweet baby's eyes. Dr. Abendroth who is single with no kids is clearly enjoying this whole scene and informs Marshall that if she begins to bark she needs to come back to see her immediately. Suffice it to say the joke was not really well received, hee hee, but it at least made ME laugh about the whole thing. As we are on our way out, Dr. Abendroth says, "Next time just tell them at the front desk that you think he has pink eye and you won't have to come in..." Ok, we can take a hint...we're a nightmare. Enough said.

But here's what I have taken away from my most recent blunders:sure it looks good on paper to be the library volunteer, tutor, class mother and PTA member, not to mention wife, mother, student...but in reality, all of these things add up to one huge time vacuum. And what for? My own peace of mind so that at least I know I'm doing something? But I've gotta tell you, there are some days when I really feel like I suck at this.

It was our dog trainer, Alan who is helping me grab the reins on our snarly puppy who pointed our they need is consistency...kids OR dogs. So I guess I'd better pull it together before I become one of those crazies who walks around with my kids on leashes but if I continue on my recent path, the girls will get kibble for breakfast and the dogs are gonna start sitting at the table with us.

Which brings me to my main point. No one was ever voted Mother of the Year by rushing around like a crazy woman. This is where my new mantra has come into play. I have replaced "Do you have Running Water" with this catchy little rhyme...and I've already repeated it twice today: "A little more laughter, a little less worry. A little more kindness, a little less hurry." Parent or not, couldn't we all benefit from thinking this way? I dunno, but I'm testing it out to see how it goes...and one last thing: whoever came up with the Mother of the Year award is on my shit list...along with the inventor of the Good Housekeeping seal...

To Tie the Tubes

So while we're on the subject of age, I might mention that one gets to the point when she knows she will not have any more children and is presented with the issue of what to do about it. I mention this simply because I thought I had reached that point over the summer. 8 kids under 12 staying under one roof will do that to a lady, and I left Connecticut determined to get these dang tubes tied...and fast.

Now I love my girls and all, but I was never a big baby person. Generally I have no need to hold someone else's baby, I'm maternal and all, but it's not just oozing out of me. Give me a 3 year old any day of the week and I'd be happy. But babies? No thanks. It's possible that I wasn't born this way. My parents were just here for a visit and brought stacks of photos from my childhood for me to grow nostalgic over and for Elliot to laugh at. What I noticed from the photos was that I either had a baby doll or a dog in all of the pictures. It was easy to see what I would become. I was destined to be a dog loving mother and teacher, but I seemed to like babies a whole lot more then than I do now.

But people ask me, and often, if we are planning on having any more kids. To give them a general idea, I usually respond with, "Elliot would rather chop his penis off than have any more children." Way to cut 'em off at the pass. It's not even up for discussion. All embarrassment aside, I've done it. I've had all the kids I'm gonna have, and I'm grateful each day for these girls, because it was not an easy road to get them here safely. But I think my initial motherhood experience with TWO babies was so stressful, it sort of turned me off of babies altogether. So the decision to not have any more kids was straight forward...sort of. Now jump in anytime here to tell me how crazy I am, but it's not the actual kids that make me wistful, it's the idea of that time in my life being past. I'm the experienced mother now, the one who knows what I'm doing. The one who younger mothers call to find out how much Tylenol to give or what to do about teething or tantrums. So there. I said it. I just can't get over the feeling that my ship has sailed, and it's a little tough to accept.

And it's only now that I am cognizant of how much I enjoy the new phase we are in. No diapers, no cribs, still screaming and the occasional tantrum, but in general life has become less "Management" and more living. So given all of these factors, why should I care? We have finally reached the point I had dreamed about for many strenuous years of early childhood when you'd turn your back for two seconds and the twins would be hanging from the dining room chandelier or something. So with this new phase comes some relief. I didn't cry when we took the crib apart, and I happily sent my Maclaren double stroller, which was once an appendage for me, to China to be used in an Orphanage.

But I can see how my new puppy who joined our family this year, became sort of, er, my baby. I think in a way, I still had some nurturing left in me as this little guy, while a complete pest, has been attached to me since May. But the thing is, I have begun to grasp the hard way that you just cannot do this with dogs. "I think you might be humanizing him a little bit," our dog trainer has said. Um, affirmative. I get it, but something in me just couldn't help it. I began to realize my further need to nurture this summer when I had some girls over while Elliot was away one night. They are chatting and drinking wine and one of them took this photo....

Ok one pic says it all, this was not normal. I could have been socializing with all of my buddies and there I was, practically breast feeding the dog in the corner. But who could help it? A dog doesn't talk back, or tell you he doesn't like your cooking, or get pissed when you try to tell him what to wear. So I think I've gotten to the heart of my issue. This past week after dinner I was trying to get some work done and Elliot comes in to where the computer is and asks "Have you seen 'Dumb and Dumber'?" and I replied with, "I dunno, I told them to get in bed 20 minutes ago..." It never occured to me that he was asking about the dogs not Sumner and Marshall. Now I know it sounds mean of me, I really am the most loving of mothers, but if you knew these girls you would see why I might have thought he was talking about them. They seem to get into the most trouble and do the wildest, stupidest things right around bedtime. Oops...

So before I get even more complainey, I will say that all of this family stuff is the toughest thing we do. It's exhausting and exhilarating and maddening and joyful. There are some days when I embrace it, and days when all I want to do is retreat from it. It's so funny because before we had kids, or when we were thinking about having kids, all I wanted was to see Elliot and me with a baby. Then we have two babies and all I wanted was to get him alone without a baby. Go figure.

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus...

Do any other parents get especially paranoid about the truth at this time of year? Yes, shield your computer screens, I mean the big S word....It is just barely December and I find myself already getting nervous about Santa Claus questions, or some grown up letting the cat out of the bag. Now this may be because I am a terrible liar, and when my kids ask me straight up about something, I generally try to tell them the truth. But when it comes to Christmas, I just can't give it up.

Now bear in mind, all of this is coming from someone who was a believer until 6th grade. This blows Elliot's mind, but I'm not kidding you, and I think that's the reason why I now take it a little to the extreme. the lengths I go to to protect them and keep Christmas magical for one more year are a little nuts. I haven't read my girls the book, The Polar Express, because I am so afraid of suggesting the possibility that some people, even children may not believe. I consistently change the radio when the song "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" comes on, as I : A.) Don't want my clever little darlings to figure out that Mommy is actually kissing Daddy who IS Santa, and B.) That pretending to be Santa might make people...um, horny. That said, Elliot and I do have so much fun sneaking around, and he generally catches me sometime on Christmas Eve with the raise of one eyebrow and asks if Santa can get his bells jingled...But still, filling the stockings, hiding the gifts, and we even have made a game out of that dad gum Elf on the Shelf. Last year it became a competition of which one of us could get to the Andrew our Elf first and put him in the most precarious position. Andrew riding piggyback on a Byers Caroler or getting it from behind from the reindeer are among my favorites.

But seriously, I do think that the jig is going to shortly be up at our house... and not because of Sumner and Marshall. My money is on CeCe putting two and two together and blabbing it all over the neighborhood. I have had a lot going on lately and Elliot knows how much I love Christmastime, so on Saturday we got up and announced we were going to drive to the mountains and cut our own Christmas tree. The twins were thrilled, couldn't wait...like normal children. We were all so excited, until CeCe, our resident Debbie Downer walks in the kitchen and corners me, "Don't you think it's a little early to get the tree, I mean, it's going to die by Christmas." Well that was a showstopper...

So we didn't go. I know, she's the strangest 5 year old in the world and was able to kill the mood for the rest of us with one sentence. I was all but convinced SHE was going to try to sit ME down over the weekend and break it to me that there's no Santa. So for the rest of the weekend whenever we were out and saw a happy family with a Christmas tree strapped to the top of their car one of us would say, "CeCe, do you think we need to pull them over? Shouldn't we make a citizen's arrest for getting into the holiday spirit just a little too soon?" And this didn't even phase her, she stuck to her guns.

So Elliot decides to cheer the rest of us up with a trip to Michael's for some decorations. Sweet guy that he is,this was the place he would least like to go ANY day of the week. But he dragged us all out so we could ad least get decorations for the outside of the house. "I want wreaths on the windows," he declared in the car, faking it just for me. So we get out and are approaching the store when one of us says, "Oooh CeCe, they've go the wreaths outside, shouldn't we tell them they're being a bit hasty?" And she looks up at me, dead serious and says, "I dunno, let me go check if they're real or fake wreaths," Pronouncing it REEVES, then REEFS, REEZES and then asking herself,"Why can't I say that word?" as she shuffles over the the display. I can say I have never been so pissed off and amused at the same time as I was during this whole exchange. I just can't get over how darn realistic she is, which is why I again venture to say she'll be the one to figure us out.

She's just so maddeningly logical. We bought some soup for her over the weekend and I made it and heard her alone at the table talking to herself, "This is really more of a noodle bowl, and it doesn't even have the baby corns in it like it did in the picture." Well pardon me, let's sue Trader Joes for false advertising, the miso soup is more of a noodle dish minus the baby corns.

Later that day, at my request to get her out of the house, Elliot had her out on the golf course. When he asked CeCe to pass him a golf ball. She throws it from the cart and encouraging Dad that he is, he praises her, "Nice throw!" CeCe responds not with a thank you but by saying to herself, "It was really more of a toss." Are you getting the idea?

But I truly don't think I have done this to her, she was ALWAYS this way. Our resident self-proclaimed expert on everything...and she's actually right most of the time. You just can't get anything past this kid. When she broke her leg and was in traction in the hospital doped up on morphine it was the weekend Obama was inaugurated. She was laying in her hospital bed, just barely 4 years old and two nurses came in talking about the inauguration when CeCe opens her eyes, turns her head and states, "My entire family voted for McCain." Dead silence.

So we are on Santa lock down around here to protect little Miss Smartypants for just a precious while longer, because once she knows, I have a feeling she will manage many more mood killing comments. As for Christmas songs, be careful what you sing around us...and don't be asking me what the girls are getting for Christmas because I am so paranoid about what is from us and what will be from Santa...because it's just too magical to still be a believer...

Earthy Girls are Easy

So I get an email from my Dad after my last post that said (and this is verbatim) "So proud of you Carol, but your language does scare your Mom." Sorry Mom, can't totally control it at times. Am I offending anyone else out there? She had better not read this post because it is a bit of a doozie when it comes to personal details. But after the Weight Watchers one I figured I have nothing left to hide. Yesterday on the phone my Mom said, "You're not going to write about your colonoscopy are you?" Sorry Mom, you bet your ass I am (couldn't resist that one.) "You girls are just so earthy" she'll say whenever we discuss something body related. Well, I'm not going to discuss any specific details, but more the whole idea of it I suppose.

I know it is sort of a generational thing, but my friends and I talk about earthy/body stuff all of the time. We all go through all of these changes, especially after we have kids, why not just be open about it? I got an email yesterday from one sweet friend who is usually such a lady that said, "How's your butt?" But I feel fairly sure this is one issue about which Elliot and my Mom are on the same page. He gets just as mortified as she does about "Body talk". But he'd better get used to it in a house full of girls. He did put normal squeamishness aside on my colon cleanse day when he got annoyed with me about something and said, "Oh just go upstairs and drink your poop drink..." That's a gentleman for ya, it's nice to see we all let our "Earthiness" get the best of us at times.

For me, the preparation for the whole thing was 24 hours in which I realized my desperate need for snacks and coffee. Luxuries I could only appreciate once they were denied. Elliot came home from taking the girls out for dinner the night I was fasting and, like any man, began to describe in detail all of the changes that had been made to the menu at the restaurant where they had eaten, "The new fries were awesome, and Marshall had a burger..." I asked him to please stop, I hadn't eaten in 24 hours and really couldn't talk about food and we changed the subject. But somehow it drifted back to the menu and the grilled salmon that he knows I would LOVE. I finally had to remove myself and my growling stomach and go to bed...hungry.

So all details aside, I know in old posts I talked about "me" time and the modern mom's lack there of; but I realized this week lack of "me" time can make us that much more creative or adaptable. So if you have had a colonoscopy, you know that it's at least a 24 hour process to get ready for it, and I had to spend one afternoon/evening alone in my bedroom, which NEVER happens. I shouldn't have started this by complaining because it really wasn't that bad. Our sitter Lizzie had the girls in the afternoon and I had to explain to her what I was doing so she wouldn't wonder what was happening up there when she heard the toilet flush 50 times in one afternoon. You have to be ready to roll with the punches in order to be our babysitter and Lizzie always does. You also need not be easily grossed out...So I went upstairs to drink the "cleansing solution" that everyone had warned was so atrocious. But here's the thing, I was really looking forward to going up to my bedroom, closing the door, and having a legitimate reason why I got to stay in there and not be interrupted all afternoon. Can you actually imagine someone looking forward to the colon cleanse? But I'll admit it, I was. So what's 2 or 3 hours on the toilet mixed in with a little alone time in my bedroom? It didn't really bother me at all. It was kind of like when I was pregnant and everyone warned me about how awful the orange drink was that you had do have when you took the Gestational Diabetes test and then I actually really liked it. Did it not taste like Sunkist to anyone else? YUM. So I'll admit it, I enjoyed the Sunkist drink, and I enjoyed the colon cleanse, simply because I only had to focus on me (not because I am some kind of fecal freak of something...)

As I was enjoying my alone time/colon cleanse, I started thinking about the summer I was pregnant with the twins and My sister Tracy and her husband were taking a much needed trip to Europe sans kids. "I'm just looking forward to the flight." She said, and I totally didn't get it. Excuse me? Who looks forward to 10 hours crammed in coach overnight from New York to Rome? I would just be counting the hours until it was over. But now I can relate. Uninterrupted time where there really isn't the option of doing anything else- errands, laundry, carpool, is so very hard to come by.

The other fun part of the procedure was that my friend Tracy, who was sweet enough to take me, picked me up and we had a solid hour to talk and catch up in the car before we got there. When they took me back all of the nurses were so sweet, I mean, I don't ever remember when someone has been that nice to me, "Mrs. Broadfoot, your feet are a little cold, let me get you an extra warm blanket," My nurse Debbie remarked coming back seconds later to tuck me in. "Would you like a magazine? You look a little tired, I'll just turn the lights off for you while you wait for the anesthesiologist." I was laying there in disbelief wondering if I was on Candid Camera or something because I was so unaccustomed to anyone waiting on me like that.

After it was all over, Tracy and I went to breakfast and stuffed ourselves while we chatted over coffee. She drove me home and as I got out of the car I said, "This was so much fun, I really needed this..." Um, was this the dreaded colonoscopy I had just gone to? I was treating it as if we had just come back from a day at the spa. We acknowledged how silly that was and then she said, "I know, call me for your next procedure..."

I was actually pretty proud of myself for taking something that most every adult dreads and focusing on the positive. Who cares if I'm earthy, I'd rather just be honest about it so that maybe someone who's listening won't dread their colonoscopy so much. But here's the thing about the demands and intensity of parenting, it makes you so much tougher and flexible at the same time. You have to be able to just roll with it or you would go nuts. I thought about this when I was going into the procedure and they were putting in my IV. When the nurse apologized for the pinch I said, "I have 3 kids, this is nothing." And it's so very true. I will spare you any more details, but for this earthy girl, being honest about it all just makes it that much more easy.

So for today's pic, let's focus on someone other than me, because I have already put waAAAY too much out there. Here was my view of CeCe eating her lunch post play in the snow today. She stripped out of her pants down to footless tights, and it was too cute not to photograph...

Do you have running water?

I had a friend approach me recently and ask how I was doing everything I have on my schedule right now: being a wife, having 3 kids, teaching school, graduate school...not to mention all the little extras like trying to maintain friendships (I am famous for not keeping in touch and forgetting to call back), keeping a moderately clean house etc. I have come to a point where I know I have to sacrifice something and slow down a little, I just haven't figured out what yet.

I know where I get this, I am a lot like my mother. She is a determined self-starter (to say the least) who takes great pride in a job well done and rises to any challenge. I think back to a time when our old house was on the market and she woke up and decided the family room ceiling needed a coat of paint before the 2 o'clock showing. I have inherited these qualities, all for which I am grateful, because who do you want on your side when there's a problem? The can-do er of course...

But along with this comes another quality, one which I battle as I go through these busy days. I have trouble sitting down. If you have been reading, this has been part of my New Year's Resolution, and I have maybe shown a little bit of improvement, but not much...it's harder than you think. I have been making coffee in the afternoons after I get everyone home from school and trying to actually sit down and enjoy it while I hang out with the girls, but here's what happens, I sit down and scan the family room and see that one picture that needs to be moved a little to the left and next thing you know I am on a ladder with the hammer and CeCe is my assistant.

This is JUST like my Mom. One of the first times Elliot came home to my house and didn't know my family very well yet, he sat down next to me and said, "5 minutes ago your Mom was going to the kitchen to make waffles and now she's outside painting a shutter." I'm not kidding, this really happened. She will often describe herself as a "One-armed paper hanger" or say, "I was shot out of a cannon." It's never a good sign when she gets up, usually the morning of a party and announces she's going to "Kick it into high gear..." Look out...

So I am a lot like this, and proud of it, but at the request of the people who have to live with me and some of my friends who love me, I have been asked to slow down. Elliot knows not to say "Slow down," rather, smart man that he is he mentioned, "It seems like your wheels are spinning a little bit," diplomatic, right? Only a normal person would react happily to her husband's concern. Not this girl, I think I responded defensively with, "What do you mean? What am I not getting done?" Overachiever that I am, I may get defensive, but I also take gentle criticism to heart. I think I may be going too fast, I'll later admit.

I have always admired how Elliot's mom can spend the entire day in her nightgown doing all of her normal household stuff and make no apologies for it. She will get up, read the paper, and then declare it a "Flip-floppy day" and keep her PJs on till bedtime. I could never do this. I get a little nervous on weekends when the sun comes up and I don't have my exercise clothes on yet. I don't have to actually exercise, but at least if I'm dressed for it I have the best of intentions. Elliot's Mom can happily sit at the dinner table for 2 hours and not seem at all worried that the kitchen is a disaster. She will even leave the kitchen a mess and deal with it the next day. Call me anal retentive, but I couldn't sleep unless I know the kitchen is clean with the dishwasher ready to run...Oh how I wish I could do this, I think I would feel a lot calmer...

In the same conversation where Elliot's Mom told us that we needed 10 minutes of silence a day, she also informed us that she learned in a meditation class that every person needs a mantra. She says this over and over to herself, "This is the day the Lord has made..." The thing is, I have a mantra, but it has succeeded at pushing me in the other, less calm direction. In fact, my mantra has only made me more driven and determined to get things done.

So we can't blame all of my can-doing on my Mother, my mantra is also to blame. When I was pregnant with the twins, I had a home nurse service come to my house to instruct Elliot, my Mom and me about how to put a shunt in my own leg and administer my anti contraction medication. She arrived and sat down with us and began her standard questioning for home visits. Her first question for me was, "Do you have running water?" What? Excuse me? Holy S*#@ there are women out there doing this who don't have running water. I don't mean to sound ignorant, but I had been so focused on myself that I hadn't stopped to consider the women out there who might be trying to do the exact same thing I am, but without all of the luxuries a brat like me is so accustomed to: running water, or a roof over their heads, or even alone. So this became my mantra. Yes, it's strange, but it carried me through a terribly difficult and harrowing pregnancy, because I knew I was doing it under the very BEST of circumstances. So yes, I was determined that I could do it.

My mantra has helped me through some of the most difficult times, because I have resolved to try and do everything I can do with a generally sunny attitude. I'm not trying to make anyone feel bad here, and I'm not minimizing what we Moms, ANY Moms go through each day, but still. My life is pretty cushy, and any time I feel overwhelmed I remind myself of my mantra and the day the visiting nurse came. It's sort of like an I can do this pep talk reminding me to buck up and quit whining. I will admit, I have been accused at work and at home of being a bit of a whiner.

I do have my moments when the mantra fails me, though. The week I was in the hospital having CeCe (a week long endeavor, typical) it was the same week of the tsunami in December 2004. Every nurse who entered my room felt the need to tell me about the lady in the South Pacific who gave birth in a tree. At one point the door to my room wasn't even closed yet and I looked at Elliot between contractions and said, "If one more person tells me about the woman who did this in a tree...." I know , yes, I can be a bit of a whiner, but any woman after 48 hours of labor would have snapped too.

Even still, I realize how busy I seem now, but was reminded of how busy I used to be, but in a completely different way. I was cleaning out over the weekend and found this really pretty notebook on my nightstand that I had kept as a journal when we first moved into this house in 2005. These days, I am busy running around doing things, way back then,I was busy doing things, but chained to the house.

My first entry was this,
June 24, 2005

I have been meaning to do this for awhile

and that was it. My first journal entry and I had only been able to jot down less than 10 words. What was I so busy doing? I had no carpools to drive, I wasn't working yet, I wasn't in school, the kids didn't have any homework? What gives? Then the real kicker was, the next entry wasn't until over a year later on July 25 of that year, and this entry was,

Sumner smeared her poop on the wall again today and I am so upset I can't even write about it.

This is no joke. I was dying when I found this. I must have blocked it out or something because I had totally forgotten this had happened. So I guess that answers my question about what I was so busy doing. Cleaning, I guess. Oh my goodness, to have 3 kids in diapers again...thank goodness that's over.

So I must consider my mantra, and how life once was around here and rest easy that I don't have any poop smeared on the wall, at least not today, anyway...

So my pic of the day is one of Elliot and me from before we had any kids. We had our one "Baby" our dog Gussie, and were out for a walk.

Notice how many things I am trying to do in this picture and it pretty much sums up how unfun my multitasking can be. I have my purse, a coffee, and a doggie canteen I was convinced Gussie needed for the stroll, and I am walking the dog. Elliot has...em...his coffee. Don't you think a leisurely dog walk would be much more pleasant that way? It's funny how one photo can say it all... I mean, was the doggie canteen really necessary? I need to keep it simple, eliminate the unnecessary, and soldier on. I keep this photo on my fridge to remind myself just how unfun multitasking can be. So I just have to slooooow down, while still maintaining my can do attitude and try not to worry about the rest.

Going for Gold

I have to write about this before the two weeks is up. Is there anyone else out there for whom the Olympics bring a sense of...inferiority? I mean, I don't want to appear unpatriotic or anything, but there is something about watching these young Olympians that makes me feel so dadgum average.

I must say, my relationship with the games didn't start out so well, my parents went to the Los Angeles games in the summer of 1984 and when they came back it was ALL we heard about for EVER...I mean, I know it's the experience of a lifetime and everything, but still. Everything we talked about for the rest of the summer and subsequent year had something to do with the Olympics. We even had to look at their photo album of the trip in order to get our allowances.

Then in 2002 I was put to bed while pregnant with the twins, the whole figure skating pairs debacle happened and it was the ONLY thing on T.V. So my love-hate relationship with the Olympics has gone on for many years, and this year is no exception. I felt completely guilty last night as we switched back and forth from the Olympics to American Idol. I even caught my Mom cowering in the back of the family room, sneaking an episode of the Bachelor: On the Wings of Love off of Hulu on her computer.

We have been especially into the Vancouver games because our kids are so interested. "I think maybe I want to be an Olympian when I get older," one of them mused after watching a skiing event. Is it squelching their dreams to respond with, "Oh honey, there's no way you'll ever be in the Olympics." I mean, let's be realistic. It's never going to happen. But you can't tell your kid this right? So I responded diplomatically with a, "Hmmm wow, wouldn't that be exciting."

But imagine being the parent who says, "Yes! Go for it! Let's change your entire life to take a chance at the Olympic dream." You see famous Olympians of our time and the stories of their families, which almost always revolve around a devoted parent who remained as committed as their child was on the road to success. Early practices, tutors, private coaches, the whole deal. I struggle with once weekly ballet class, and summer swim team. I can't even fathom the kind of commitment it takes to produce an Olympian. How much of this is raw talent and how much is utter devotion? Is your kid a total dud if she wants to come home from school every day and play in the backyard?

The class I am taking this semester is on assessment of young children. We talked last night about assessment instruments aka, the tests done on these little guys to look for developmental delays, measure intelligence, vocabulary, and look for those who are gifted. The most interesting part of this conversation to me was that parents are often disappointed when told their child has scored in the 50th percentile, which, by definition is average. I can be happy with average, but put a number on it and I might feel differently. You never hear about anyone bragging that their child has scored in the 60th percentile on the Weschler Preschool and Primary Intelligence test. The only ones I ever hear about are "Off the charts" when truly, 60th percentile is a perfectly "Normal" way to be.

My kids don't have to be brilliant, or have a special gift, and I am totally happy for them to be "average kids." But Olympics make me feel a little like I shouldn't settle for 50th percentile. My parents are visiting this week and my Dad has said, "I'll watch any events that aren't scored" So we have stuck to the timed ski races and bobsled. I guess he prefers the black and white part of timed events. Either you get there fast enough or you don't.

When we had one of our daughters "tested" because we were concerned about her development, I was relieved and happy to know she was "Average." But what's with this word having such a stigma attached to it? When I looked it up in my thesaurus, the synonyms were: common, mediocre, moderate, intermediate. The more positive synonyms were: ordinary, regular, standard, mainstream, and I have to include my personal favorites: garden-variety, run-of-the-mill and dime-a-dozen. So how come this isn't OK? Am I a slacker to be OK with regular? Normal or typical are good, right? Well, they are fine with me until the Olympics come around and make me feel... well, ordinary.

It would be interesting to measure these Olympians on some other qualities like relationships, or book smarts to see if they've got the all around package. I found myself sort of annoyed this week when I found out that Lindsay Vonn is married. So not only is she gorgeous and hot and an Olympic medalist, she also has time for a relationship. The real kicker to me is that Apollo Ono managed to win Dancing With the Stars during his hiatus between Olympics. Where's MY special talent? I'm not like our friend Will who has an amazing gift for music, or my Dad who played college football. Most of the time I'm OK with this, except for when I watch the Olympics and wonder if I am just a slacker, or if it's acceptable to settle on average, or typical.

I think I have made up my mind, though. I came up with proof that average can be thrilling. I have a photo from the summer of 2008 (which I can't seem to find.) My daughters had just finished with their first swim meet, and stood in all their glory holding up their ribbons that say PARTICIPANT, and they're delighted, so that seems like an exceptional accomplishment. So here are my wonderfully average kids, enjoying a run-of-the mill ordinary summer afternoon swim meet, and that feels like success to me...

Beer Goggles...on myself

So a friend pointed out after my last post that writing is my special purpose, she even resorted to calling me a shithead because I am such a moron that I didn't really think of this as a talent. My blog began with my making the effort to document what was going on with the girls. But once I started writing it, it took on a life of its own and became this cathartic outlet for me, not so much a sweet little memoir for them to read eventually.

But the thing is, it's easy to be honest and put it all out there when you don't know who or how many people are reading it. I had thought of it as a way to document life as a family until the same friend from High School wrote a response to a post that stuck with me. This is what she said, "I'm usually not a fan of 'All about me' blogs, but yours is exceptional." So a normal person would take this as a compliment, right? However, typical me, I could only focus on what I saw as the negative... how annoying does an, "All About Me" blog for a 36 year old sound? I mean, if you met someone and they told you to read their "All About Me" blog, what would you think? Uuggh, nothing like self promotion...but I guess mine is a little that way; OK, enough about you, let's talk about me....

So I started going back and looking at my recent posts, a task almost as painful as seeing how much you weigh, or what you look like in a magnifier without makeup...but when I did this I saw that my family journal type thing morphed quickly into just what she had said, an "All About Me" blog... Uh oh, that's not what I had intended, but I couldn't help it. When you're a Mother, it so rarely is "All About Me" that this seems to be my only arena, God help us... so to my readers, I apologize for making it all about me, but I guess can't control it. Oh shit.

Aren't there are so many times, especially when busy, when we can't see things for what they really are. Are there other parts of my life where I was so off the mark that I am not seeing the forest through the trees? I mean, it's like having Beer Goggles (remember that expression from college, when someone looks totally different and appealing to you once you get a good buzz on), but the beer goggles are on myself, "Oh no, it's not an all about me blog, I'm not really that narcissistic that I have to write about myself every day." Nope, not this girl. Uuuhhh, NOT.

And then I started thinking about how some parents have such beer goggles on their kids. Is there anything worse than a mother so proud that she'll tell any Tom, Dick or Harry who could give a shit how great her little darling is doing at t-ball or math? Elliot has an expression for this, it just hits the nail on the head so very well. "She thinks her kid shits ice cream," he'll say after enduring a brag session. I'm sorry, I'm not interested in hearing about how gifted your little Johnny is, in fact, as a standard rule for parents, I think bragging should only be reserved for grandparents, spouses, or truly best friends. Period. Because in general, nobody else wants to hear it.

But at the same time, we must walk the fine line of being humble yet exceedingly supportive, teaching lessons in pride while also showing grace and humility. It is a dance, and one I have yet to perfect. Yes, I want to champion their causes, but at the same time, at every toddler playgroup, if there was a crash, I could immediately blame Sumner or Marshall, as 99% of the time it was one of them. Likewise, when CeCe comes home reporting some injustice from the playground, I am realistic enough to say, "It stinks that she doesn't want to be your friend, but what did you say to her right BEFORE she said that..."

I'll bet most adults will agree that if there's anyone who has permanent beer goggles on a child is it a grandparent. Last year I took Elliot's Mom, Mimi with me to watch the girls at gymnastics class. She sat through the first few minutes quietly captivated at the talent of her granddaughters as I thumbed through People magazine. She then said matter-of-factly, "Don't you think they just sparkle. Don't ours have a magic you don't see in all the others?" As if perfectly timed I looked up at CeCe who was awkwardly trying to catapult herself over a mini vault with the grace of Bigfoot and then, not having listened to instructions, lumbered over to join the line of the wrong group. Sparkle? Not exactly. Stand out? Yes. But not necessarily in a good way.

So the at the next parent observation week for CeCe's gymnastics class, I went with a new attitude, wearing my beer goggles and determined to see said, "Sparkle." But minutes in it was clear that she was, in fact, the least skilled in the class. I proudly snapped photo after photo, determined to show my support REGARDLESS of her expertise. After all, isn't THAT what parents are for? To be there no matter how skilled we are?

So I am sitting there watching, trying not to cringe while CeCe and her best buddy Virginia, who was clearly the most adroit in the group which only magnified CeCe's awkwardness, have the most fun out of anyone. So I get that warm motherly feeling when the Romanian gymnastics coach approaches me to immediately burst my bubble. In a thick accent reminiscent of Bela Karolyi she says, "I do not think she know what I mean when I say, 'Tighten your muscles, CeCe.' She is marshmallow, non?" Uuuh, marshmallow? Maybe, but as her mother,I reserve the right to call her doughy....And then the coach proceeded to say, "Marshmallow," several more times in front of all the other parents and simulated a squeezing motion with her hands. Um, proud moment over. My next goal was to collect my little marshmallow and get out of there ASAP before she realized that the coach was calling HER a marshmallow and not handing out marshmallows to the class.

So the whole beer goggles thing has been on my mind, because as a parent, I have always thought that it is not my job NOT to express how perfect they are, but to have their backs even when they suck at something. I didn't care what the other parents in the group thought, I just didn't want CeCe to think she was anything less than awesome.

As for my self directed beer goggles, I'm just going to embrace being an 'All about me' blog writer and get over it already. I'll just keep telling myself it's a family memoir and then pour my own selfish thoughts and feelings out there for half the world to see. Call me self-centered, call me egotistical, whatever, I'm just gonna put my beer goggles on and write.