The Obligatory “Here’s What I’m Thankful For” Post

It’s Thanksgiving.  You knew this was coming, so settle in and embrace the schmaltz.

photo-3Although I often curse the ubiquitous Barbie doll-sized rubber bands that show up everywhere from inside my purse to the floor of the shower, I am actually thankful for Rainbow Loom.  Why?  Because it can occupy hours – HOURS, fellow moms – of Georgia’s time and when one comes face to face with the long sigh/eye roll/”I’m boooooored” monster, you too will want to nominate the inventor of Rainbow Loom for the Nobel Peace Prize.

I am happy that certain retail stores still have revolving doors (stay with me here).  While dragging two unwilling children to Legacy Place shopping center last weekend (four year old completely decked out in his Captain America costume, November be damned), I was at my wits end.  Between the constant refereeing of arguments (“She touched me!” “NO. I. DID. NOT!”) and near-shoplifting act by Quinn (he didn’t MEAN to wear the headband out of the store), I was about to lose it.  That is, until we passed Williams Sonoma and the kids took five turns around the revolving door, going faster and faster and laughing like hyenas.  Made the 19-year old cashier confused.  Made me smile.

192904_10151583909027880_847399697_oNow that Ben is in 7th grade and taking English via Latin, I am THANKFUL BEYOND WORDS that I took 5 years of the dead language when I was in school.  For years I felt duped; grownups swore to me that the time spent suffering through conjugating verbs and translating the Iliad would help me on my SATs and in the end, they really didn’t.  However, aside from the fact that I can KILL IT in certain Jeopardy categories (Greek Mythology remains a strength), I am actually somewhat able to help my son recognize the difference between the present and future tense of “to be.”  Ad astra per aspera!  (That one’s for you, Magistra Lowe.)

After injuring my back this summer lifting a sofa (apparently the 41-year old back is not made for that sort of thing, WHAAATTT???!), I am quite sure that Zelayna, my chiropractor, is nothing short of an angel roaming the earth.  If you live in the Boston area and are in need of a miracle of the vertabraeic kind, email me.  Hell, even if you live in Duluth, consider making the trip.

I am super thankful that Whole Foods offers 10% off when you buy six bottles of wine (that one’s pretty self explanatory).

1385483_10201186964739081_653230068_nQuinn has started to really hit his stride when telling a (completely insane) story.  For instance, earlier tonight he proceeded to tell me (while sitting on the throne) that he knows a boy who went on vacation and actually fell down into the potty and got lost.  He declared in bed that “My name is Adrian Crockshaw” and despite googling this character, he seems to be completely made up.  And on the way home from daycare as I was reminding him that Santa is watching and if he finds himself on the the Naughty List then it will be no presents for Christmas, he had a backup plan.  “If Santa puts me on the Naughty List then I will hide behind him and when the kids are sitting on his lap I will creep up and steal all the toys.”  I guess that’s a great alternative to actually being good.

Of course, no Thanksgiving list would be complete without taking stock of how lucky I am to have such wonderful friends and family, and for that I’m truly blessed.  This year I seem to be even more aware of those that I love and to never take them for granted; I hope that they all stay healthy and happy and focus on the good that is around all of us.

And for all those baddies out there, let’s just hope that Santa has eyes in the back of his head…‘cuz they’re comin’ fer ya.

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My Mothers Day Wish List

Dear Andy, Ben, Georgia, Quinn and of course, Elvis,

You all know (at least you BETTER know) that Mothers Day is a mere four days away.  While you have never disappointed me on this, the holiest of days for a harried mom, I am hoping that you could indulge me this year.  I mean, REALLY indulge me.  And I’m not talking about breakfast in bed or a spa day; what I have in mind is even better.

photo-16Ben – You’re a 12 year old boy, and you’re gross.  I get it.   You’re no different than every other guy your age.  But if you could stop coming home from soccer and baseball practice, taking off your nasty socks and leaving them (inside out, of course) in various places on the first floor, I’d appreciate it.  Playing “follow the smell” while pouring my morning coffee is not my idea of starting the day off right.

GeorgiaMy girl.  photo-18You are the one little bit of estrogen-solidarity I have in this crazy house, but my request may not be an easy one.  I beg that you never make me buy you clothes at Justice again.  EVER.  I’ve made no secret of my disdain for this store but after two years, I’ve reached my limit.   I cringe every time you receive another one of their gift cards.  My eyes hurt looking at  the neon t-shirts inside the store, and the bubble gum pop music by One Direction/Bieber/Disney-Diva-du-jour that’s being piped through the speakers makes my teeth itch.  I’ve done it for years.  I know you love it.  But it’s time…let me take you anywhere else.  From the Gap to Newbury Street, we’ll buy you an outfit in a color found on this planet.  It would be the greatest gift you could give.

photo-14Quinn – Well, my boy, your present came two weeks early as you have finally, after six months, mastered the art of pooping on the potty!  I am proud and relieved (no pun intended) that diapers are officially a part of the past.  Granted, you are SO regular that I wonder if you are part earthworm but I’m not complaining.  Now if you can just work on: learning your middle name (Andrew), not dragging the dog across the floor by his collar and that a squirrel is a disgusting rodent not to be approached while cooing, “aww, look at dat cute chick-munk!” then we’ll be good to go.

photo-15Andy – I ask that you clean the Laundry Room.  One of the 700 junk emails I got today was from Real Simple and titled, “The Space You Should Be Cleaning, But Aren’t.”  Against my better judgment (while hoovering lunch at my desk), I read it.  Did you know that we are living in a DEATH TRAP (not to mention pure squalor) by not getting through the 21 steps on the checklist?  Apparently it’s not enough to swipe the fire-hazard-of-a-lint-trap; you need to remove, wash and scrub with a toothbrush to properly clean it.  With a toothbrush, Andy!  And don’t even get me started on disconnecting the dryer hose and getting all the funk inside of THAT thing out.  Anyway, reading this article stressed me out when I realized that I’d never have the time to do it so I’d like for you to handle this.  And you know me well enough that inevitably I’ll be dissatisfied with the job you’re doing and wind up cleaning it myself, but just kick things off and I’ll be one happy mom.

photo-17Elvis – Since I recently learned the hard way that you are one of the four dogs in the history of the world who gets carsick, I’m going to have to ask that you get over your emotional issues and learn to be in the house alone without eating through metal, wood or electrical cords that are plugged into the wall.  Thanks  (and woof).

Guys, I love being your mom.  And if my Mothers Day gets me everything on this list, I will be the luckiest lady in the world.  So make your Mama proud and give me what I really want this year.  I’ll meet you in the Laundry Room.

Love, Mom

Surprise! It’s Picture Day. AGAIN.

When I was a kid, picture day at school was a big deal.  Your parents picked your package (two 5x7s, four 4x6s and eight wallets) and you handed the envelope to the creepy photographer guy who had set up in the school gym.  In return, you received a cheap black comb and the opportunity to glam yourself up.  The background was blue, you had dressed in your ’70s or ’80s best and beamed a gap-toothed smile.  Six weeks later your elementary school mug was immortalized in the homes of your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles.  It was a carefully managed process.

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Nowadays your child arrives home from school on a random Tuesday in April and hands you a packet of 84 pictures taken the week before when they hadn’t showered in three days, wore the sparkliest shirt in their drawer and made a game-time decision that you would really prefer “the laser backdrop.”  Why are these even an option?

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I’ll admit…Georgia’s picture pack that came home today was actually pretty tame compared to previous years.  Of course I wish her hair was neater (and cleaner) and she didn’t look like she had just come from a “Dancing with the Stars” competition but hey, it could be worse.  I remember last year’s first grade pictures had her smiling against bright disco-purple and Ben’s fifth grade shot made him appear to be attending school on some nuclear-green planet. Then there was the year that Ben had run out of clean laundry and gone to school one day – unbeknownst to us, on picture day of course – wearing a one-size-too-small red Wildcat t-shirt from High School Musical that was a gift from his grandparents.  Whoops.

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When Ben was younger, we were on a really bad roll of Murphy’s Law-type accidents the night before picture day.  With injuries ranging from falling off a ladder (cut between the eyes) to an over-zealous hug (zipper gash to the cheek), we were always waiting for DSS to show up at the door producing photographic evidence of his bruised face as proof that we were knocking him around.  Scan 41And when Georgia was in Pre-K, you can imagine our delight when we found that the photographer had combed her curly hair before snapping a picture..we still lovingly refer to that one as her “Donna Summer ‘do.”

I suppose that bad school pictures are as much a part of growing up as playing soccer or learning to read, and I don’t know why they still matter so much (it’s not like our kids aren’t photographed ten times a day).  But until I get three beauties against tasteful gray backgrounds, showing clean children wearing clean clothes and smiling angelically, I won’t be satisfied.

In the meantime, you can find me riding my Unicorn around town wearing size 2 skinny jeans.

Cheeeeese!

The Perils of Flying. With Kids.

When one travels with children, one becomes astutely aware of little things along the way that can both help and hinder their vacation.

ImageLast Thursday we headed for Logan to catch a 7:45am flight to Florida.  We had pulled the kids from school for a few days so that we could visit Andy’s parents outside of Ft. Myers and despite the heinous snowstorm were able to enjoy some family, fun, and yes, SUNSHINE.

Like any good parents, we packed the unimportant (clothes) while making sure to remember the essentials (electronics) that would be available to tired, cold and bored children at a moment’s notice.  For the most part, we were successful: the kids were not perfect but weren’t intentionally left on the plane either.  We’ll take it.

As we arrived home, I made a mental note of those things that I absolutely love and will never travel without again.  Get yer finger on the printer button, folks…you’ll want to keep this list handy the next time your family is flying to a tropical island, spending a weekend on the cape or even (depending on what kind of seasoned travelers you’re raising) simply driving to the grocery store.

I give to you: A Parent’s Survival Guide to Traveling with Little Monsters Children

DO:      Hit the CVS candy aisle and buy a cheap bag of Dum Dum lollipops.  Not only are they economical and come in a bazillion (nasty) flavors, but your children won’t understand why you laugh when they eat them (it’s because they remind you of the microphone that Bob Barker used while hosting “The Price is Right”).

DON’T: Spring for the expensive Charms Blow Pops.  They cost more, are too cumbersome for a 3-year old’s mouth/attention span and the gum in the middle gets so hard SO FAST that it’s likely to give them a turbo case of TMJ.  Plus, they look to YOU to dispose of the funky gum.  It’s a lose-lose, no matter how you suck it.

ImageDO:      Spend the day before travel charging every iPad/iPhone/laptop/Nook you can find and pack ‘em all in a child-sized carry on.  And before your flight, say a quick Novena that someone at Apple will uphold Steve Jobs’ grand tradition of inventing stuff to keep kids entertained.

DON’T: Get all holier-than-thou with a “When I was a kid, we brought Mad Libs and played License Plate games” attitude.  Times have changed, folks.  Although my parents DID drive my two sisters and me to Florida in a Volkswagen Dasher back in ’82, I’m quite sure they vehemently hated us the entire time and were only thankful that no flight attendants were in the car to hear their thoughts.

DO:      Invest in CVS Detangler if your daughter will be anywhere near a pool.  I have tried them all and while this was a last minute panic-purchase, it may have saved my relationship with the curly-haired Georgia.  I don’t know WHAT is in it (Vegetable Oil?) but I don’t care.  Within minutes it had turned her thick dreadlocks into real hair again.

DON’T: Pay a lot for the fancy herbal stuff because it doesn’t work.  Your daughter will hate you and you will waste at least 20 minutes of cocktail hour swearing at her.  DO NOT TEST THIS THEORY; take my word for it.  You are welcome.

DO:      Let your kids get spoiled, a little.  It’s their vacation too and if they want to have ice cream at 8:45 at night, just remember that it’s short-lived.  A little indulgence never hurt anyone (this rule also applies for adults during the aforementioned cocktail hour).

DON’T: Allow children to take things too far.  Take heed: although they may “be their grandparents’ problem,” that very same loving couple will happily hand them back to you at the airport.  No parent enjoys deprogramming children after vacation, so moderation is key.

ImageJust remember to keep this checklist fastened firmly to the front of the family suitcase or risk watching your very own kids melt down in the middle of baggage claim.  Should that happen though, simply look around, roll your eyes, and deny that “that child” belongs to you.  Just grab your detangler, pop a Dum Dum in your mouth and head straight for the pool.

To Fail or Not to Fail? THAT is the question.

As a parent, it’s a common scenario.

Your child comes home from school one day and casually mentions a project that he or she has been assigned.  It’s a big deal and will be factored into their overall grade.  They are “really looking forward to putting it together.”

ImageThe night before it’s due, you ask how it’s coming.  Suddenly that same kid (who couldn’t wait to begin) mutters that they have taken some notes.  That’s it.

The fury creeps up from inside of you as you’re grabbing them by the scruff of the neck, tossing them in the car and heading to AC Moore to buy poster board, Sharpies and rubber cement.

Grrrrr….

Okay, fellow parents, here’s a tough one.  This subject has been the topic of conversation with many of my friends lately and I have stood on my soapbox, declaring that a failed grade is a lesson worth learning and teaches kids to manage their time wisely and take responsibility.  Yet there I was, forcing my 6th grade son (after arguing with him at a noise level that would wake the dead) to write an outline, scrap his lame attempt at taking the easy route out by starting over, and FINALLY offering to help him create an A+ worthy project.

Oh, what a hypocrite I am.

Now, I will admit…I like to get things right.  While not a complete perfectionist, I will work until the 11th hour to make sure that I turn in something that’s good at the very least (as evidenced by this very story which I am writing the night before I post it).   When I have something due, I make sure that it’s in on time and if I have to work late then that’s my fault.  But why, oh WHY does my 11-year old son not have the same work ethic?

Put simply, because he is, in fact, an 11-year old boy.  There are so many times as a parent that I am baffled at their lack of responsibility when it comes to school, their toys or anything that is valuable to them.  I mean, I certainly get it, why don’t they?  If Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus then Children are from a Planet so very VERY far away, and it’s one where nothing (outside of TV watching and X-Box) ever gets accomplished.   Who would want to live like that?

I’ll admit…I didn’t exactly let my son FAIL (I may be too Type A for that, or at least right now) but I did have to let him put together a B-ish science project.  As I watched him quickly scribble the title on the poster board and spell “Animall” with two L’s (oh, my Father the newspaper Editor must have rolled over in his grave), he put his head in his hands in utter defeat.  I figured that this might be my great teaching experience for him as I explained that although he made a mistake, the big win would be in how to fix it.  He suggested that printing out the title on the computer with a black background and white letters and gluing it over the misspelled word would make it look better.  I exhaled as I realized that he had learned something:

We all make mistakes.  Instead of submitting something that isn’t perfect, figure out a great solution.  There’s a life lesson fer ya, kid.

In the end, the project is good.  I mean, it’s no A+ in my book but he admitted his shortcomings, asked for help and actually seemed to enjoy doing it.  And wonder of all wonders, as he went to bed I even got an un-prompted, “Hey Mom, thanks for helping me.”

I may not have the stomach for the failing grade yet, but at least he’s picking up a few life lessons…and so am I.  Rome wasn’t built in a day.

But just you wait for the project on Rome.  I’m just saying.

What are your thoughts?  Do you let them fail or help them get an A?  PLEASE, comment below!

Ode to Dr. Seuss: Paying respects to a literary genius


In honor of what would have been the 109th birthday of literary genius Theodore Geisel this weekend, I shall don my tallest striped hat and Seuss it up.  To the man who has provided my family and me with countless hours of stories and smiles, might I say “Happy Birthday to You!”

***

c9c46ff208b788c1b9d1a2404cbb953aWhen I was a mere two years old
My young mind was all yours to mold
I loved Sam I Am
And his Green Eggs and Ham
That first book was pure solid gold

As I got older my library grew
A Lorax!  A Grinch!  A wee Wocket too!
Your creations were fun
Learning had now just begun!
Soon I met Horton and his small quiet Who

As a mother, you can imagine my thrill
For my kids, the Seuss-values to instill!
They loved Hopp-Soup-Snoop
Although he’s just a big Group!
And laughed at Fizza-ma-wizza-ma-dill

They meet Sneetches and young Katy Klopps
My husband smiles as he softly eavesdrops
Ben loved Willy Walloo
While Georgia preferred Cindy Lou-Who
Which character will young Quinn think is tops?

I observe while they chat and they dish
About four silly and colorful fish
“They are both red and blue,
That Fish 1 and Fish 2!”
It’s stuff like this that we all will cherish

They have adored each absurd little quirk
Of one silly Morris McGurk
Sounding out every word
To a kid, nothing’s absurd
They actually like this kind of homework!

Dr. Seuss, you were a rare breed
And your lessons were special indeed
I owe you a lot
For what you have taught
Thanks to you, my children can read!

Notes from the Ledge…jumping in.

Welcome to my blog.

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I, like most women, am many things.  I’m a Mom, I work full time, I’m a wife/middle sister/daughter/friend, I host an online entertaining show called The Greater Boston Gala Girls and I really, REALLY love a nice bottle of Cabernet.

I live just outside of Boston and have three kids…Ben is 11, Georgia is 7 and Quinn (he’s a he) is 3.  For two years I wrote a weekly column for the Dedham Patch called “Tales of a Tireless Mom.”  I didn’t name it and always hated that title because, well, I AM tired.  What working Mom isn’t?  Anyhow…

The paying gig finally ended and while I thought having one less thing to do would be nice, I missed adding to the literary scrapbook I’d built.  Therefore, welcome to my new project, “Notes from the Ledge.”  The goal is to entertain and probably make you feel better about the parenting job that you’re doing (I mean, I’m literally ignoring my pre-schooler’s demands to get up from his nap as I type this).  And for all my fellow working sisters out there, this should make for great reading while you’re dialed in – but not paying attention to – conference calls.

My house is usually messy, I wear yoga pants every chance I get (although they’ve never seen the inside of a yoga studio), the kids don’t always eat healthy food and often watch age-inappropriate TV.  If any of this sounds like you, then pour yourself a cup of coffee or glass of wine and join the madness.  At my crazy party, there’s always room for one more.

Alex