New Years Resolutions (barf)

I’m baaaaack….

You guys.  It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything on this site – 22 months, to be exact – and I have a REALLY good reason.  Four, actually; their names are Ben, Georgia, Quinn, and work.  However, it’s a new year – 2017! – and the best time to get back at it.

photo-on-1-6-17-at-5-43-pmWhile lots of people swear off Resolutions, I actually kind of like them.  As long as you don’t a) make them too crazy (“lose 30 pounds by February 14“), b) place too much value on them (“Wipe out all of my debt this year or die penniless and alone!“) or c) make too many (0-1 is a good number in my book) then it can be a nice way to identify ways to live your best life.  Or else it can make you feel like a Super Hero when, on January 11th, you realize that you have already successfully hit the mark of NOT drinking wine on two consecutive Wednesdays!  (That may break my first rule of making resolutions, I’m aware. #hic)

I have decided to take a different approach to this (sadly ignored) blog for 2017.  While I continued to pay the annual WordPress fee for the past two years (fiscal fitness be damned!) in hopes that I would someday revisit this little writing experiment of mine, I have to remember why I stopped back in 2014: because I simply had no time.  I would stress out on Tuesday nights about what to write, then write it, and rewrite it, then rewrite it again…and so on.  But I loved having it, because it became a kind of journal that I could go back to and remember all of those little stories that I tend to forget; then once it was gone, I missed it.

On New Years Day, I was talking to a friend of mine who told me that during the year, she and her husband and kids write down anything great that they want to remember and put it in a jar.  On New Years Eve they sit down and read through all of those memories as a way to look back on the year and relive those good times.  Great idea, right?

In late December I started listening to the audio book “Superficial” by Andy Cohen (which I HIGHLY recommend; talk about living your best life, this guy nails it).  If you aren’t familiar, it’s a series of quick and fast diary entries and it inspired me to revisit my own journaling.  Granted, his days look like this:

MY days look like this

  • Spilled coffee on pants
  • Didn’t forget to pack Quinn’s lunch!  Hurrah!
  • Lunch alone at desk.  Spilled soup on shirt
  • Texted with Quinn’s teacher; actually DID forget to pack his lunch. #fail
  • Three conference calls, one at bus stop (all hail the mute button)
  • Dinner at kitchen island with one of the kids (I forget which one actually sat)
  • Watched Watch What Happens Live! in bed after three glasses of wine with husband Andy (Shumway)

That being said, I thought that perhaps if I don’t overthink these posts, do NOT edit them, keep them short and easy to read (unless something particularly great happens), then this dusty blog might just have a purpose after all – even if it’s just to get my money’s worth for the past two years of renewal fees.  Therefore, I’m bringing it back to life in 2017 and will regale you all the glamorous events of my non-important person days – the joys of parenting and working, of doing too many things at once and none of them really that well, the mostly mundane and occasionally funny, and of course, wine.  Everything’s better with wine.

Especially on Wednesdays.

Advertisements

Signs you may have PSAD (Parental Seasonal Affective Disorder)

Hey.  I’ve been gone for a while now, and while I do have a few valid excuses – traveling, busy with work, with the kids‘ schoolwork, up to my eyeballs as I actually danced in a town-wide fundraising event (more on that another time) – that wasn’t it.  This winter has sucked the spirit right out of me and I know I’m not alone.   Fellow parents, have you found yourself in tears when the call comes in that another snow day is in your future?  Have you fed your kids enough soup to sink a ship…not because it’s warm but because it’s easy and saves you a trip to the store?  Do you and your children sorta hate the sight of each other these days?  If you have answered yes to any of these questions then you may have PSAD, or Parental Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Take heed, though; there is only one cure and that’s Spring.  If you or any other Mom or Dad is showing signs of PSAD, grab something to drink, give the kids carte blanche on Netflix (no judging) and ride out the (literal and figurative) storm.  Remember that you’re not alone.

Signs You May Have PSAD

  1. You have seriously considered cashing in your child’s 529 Plan to take a weekend trip south.  Like, EQUATOR south.
  2. You’ve let your hair color go so long because the mere thought of getting into a cold car to go buy a box of 5G-Golden Chestnut is simply too much to bear.  It takes noticing the Jay Leno white patch that has sprouted in the middle of your forehead and your child pointing to the squirrel stripe along your part to finally bite the bullet and head to the store.  But by the time you’ve prepared to brave the elements and put on the various layers of outerwear, you realize that as long as you’ll be keeping that winter hat on then really, can’t this wait until spring?
  3. 20140311-221804.jpgBinge-watching has become your lifeline to the outside world.  You start with great shows like “House of Cards” and “Breaking Bad” but as the wind blows against the windows, you spiral quickly downward to Season Three of “Dance Moms.”
  4. It was your daughter who turned you onto “Dance Moms.”  She’s 8.
  5. You don’t object when your kids start playing dangerous indoor sports like “Stair Basketball.”  As your 4-year old teeters at the top stair and hurls a pair of rolled up socks down into the hoop on the bottom step that his sibling is holding, you don’t picture him falling; instead you relish in the five minute break from Cabin Fever until a fight (or injury) inevitably breaks out.
  6. You’ve found yourself picking fights with your children over the dumbest things.  “Are you SERIOUSLY still listening to the song from “Frozen?”  Good LORD, find something new to obsess over.”
  7. You despise the TV meteorologists with a fervor normally reserved for adulterers or Oprah Winfrey and would punch Al Roker squarely in the face if only you could get close enough.
  8. Your anger level has reached DEFCON 7; upon giving up swearing for Lent (terrible idea, I know), you find yourself dropping the F-Bomb to a friend and then repeating it three more times to emphasize just how &*#!ed you really are.  You quickly realize that you owe $4 to the swear jar for just one sentence.  &*#!
  9. You are quietly rooting against your child’s basketball team because if they lose this game then they DON’T have to play again at 8am Sunday morning.  And just as you are feeling really guilty, you realize all of the other Moms and Dads on the bleachers are doing the exact same thing.
  10. You don’t argue with the kids to wear hats, mittens or even winter jackets anymore because you just don’t have the fight left in you.  Your thinking is, “Fine, get frostbite, you toad…but so help me if it gets so bad that I have to go back out in the cold and drive you to the doctor, I will end you.”
  11. As you clean up the third round of projectile vomiting in a week, you think to yourself, “Well, at least he ate his carrots last night.”
  12. It’s taken you two months to write a &*#!ing blog post.

Think spring, folks.  Think spring.

Alex’s Letter to…The Ghost of Christmas Future

Aside

Dear Ghost of Christmas Future,

Hey!  How are you?  Hope you had a nice summer!  Did you take any trips?  Not sure if you ever make it to the Cape but you should visit; there are so many annoying tourists to haunt that your dance card would be filled from May through September.

the-muppet-christmas-carol-50th-anniversary-edition-20051220045446879-000Anyway, I’m writing to you instead of Santa this year because what I really want for Christmas is less of the Big Man’s “bag” and more of yours.  I mean, he’s certainly cornered the market on wooden toys, sugar cookies and claymation specials but what I want is right in your wheelhouse.  I know this is a super-busy time of year for you, what with the television specials on everything from CBS to Sesame Street (ps, your Muppet Christmas Carol is one of my faves), but since you probably don’t get these requests that often I’m hoping you’ll hook a sister up.

Christmas Future, what I want this year is answers.  Simple answers that might make the next few trying months of parenting just a little easier.  You have to understand, my three little darlings are at such different stages of life – pre-teen boy, precocious elementary school girl and hell-on-wheels, four-year-old whirling dervish – that the hubs and I are perpetually stumped.  Just when we’ve put out one fire, another one pops up right next to it.  Will it end in 2014?  Will it end…EVER?

For example, let’s take the aforementioned pre-teen.  I’m told that these mood swings are normal but HELLO how long should I expect them to go on?  One minute he’s my sweet, helpful and caring firstborn and the next he’s an eye-rolling, “you-don’t-know-anything, MOM” creature whom I hardly recognize.  IMG_0451I can handle this as long as I know that there is an end in sight…and being the Type A kinda gal that I am, I’m gonna need to know WHEN that will come.  I mean, are we talking three months?  A year?  (Gulp) UNTIL 18?!  If that’s the case then I may consider diving into the ditch with your boy Ebenezer just to ride out the storm.

Here’s another answer I seek…when, OH WHEN, will I be able to go out for dinner with my children again, knowing they will behave like humans?  Get this, tonight a friend and I took our kids out to a pretty family-friendly restaurant, The Halfway Cafe.  They stuck the seven of us in a booth in the back corner of the joint (smart move) and we must have threatened our children 48 times apiece with the old “Naughty List” standby.  To be honest, I think the kids are on to us at this point; they must plan on pulling an 11th-hour miracle because about 10 seconds after each warning they were back under the table again, swallowing full sugar packets.  IS there a future for my family when it comes to fine dining?  Or any dining for that matter?  Will we be relegated to a lifetime of takeout?  Or worse…DRIVE THROUGH?!

My last question is a simple one: when will my children stop yelling?  I don’t mean outside, with friends, on a playground, during a soccer game or at a concert…I’m talking about at home.  While eating dinner.  Or laying in bed.  Or watching a movie.  Or at church.  I’m seriously concerned that they don’t physically have the ability to do anything BUT speak at a volume so loud that it would wake the dead (no offense).  Is there a time in the future that they learn the art of the whisper?  Ever?  No?  Can you nod?  Why do you continue to point that bony finger at me?  Are you going to turn it into a thumbs up?  No?

Anyway, I appreciate you taking the time to read this.  Obviously, peace on earth and good tidings to Tiny Tim and all that jazz; I’m hoping that because I’m not being AT ALL materialistic in my list this year (and since you probably don’t get a whole lot of love from anyone EVER) that you’ll send me the answers that I’m looking for.  If you’ve ever wanted to leapfrog over the Man in the Red Suit, this could be your big chance.  Don’t squander it, Ghostie; take a page out of Scrooge’s book and learn from this.  Ain’t nothin’ like a shiny new second chance.

Hope you have a great Christmas scaring the bejeezus out of cranky old jerks.  If you’re looking for a few new victims this year, just holler; I keep a list of some really deserving ones.

Ho Ho Ho,

Love, Alex

IMG_0456

King’s Bar: The New Classroom?

As my family and I headed to King’s Bowling last night, I didn’t realize what I was in for.  They were hosting the Dedham Summer 10- and 12-year old championship baseball teams (State and League Champs, respectively) for a night of bowling, pizza and all around fun.  Andy and I were looking forward to seeing our friends that we haven’t been able to hang out with since August while the kids could play with all of their buddies.

Of course, when you’re the only family with a 12 year old AND an (almost) 4-year old , things don’t always go the way you plan.

While the older two kids were thrilled to ditch Mom and Dad, my shadow (I-mean-dear-little-Quinn) decided that Mommy was the only person he wanted to spend time with.  And when I say “spend time,” I of course mean “attach to me the way a barnacle adheres to an ocean rock.”  Which was awesome and TOTALLY conducive to adult conversation.

Within 14 seconds of the kind bartender pouring me a glass of wine so that I might catch up with a friend, Quinn had left his big brother and sister and climbed onto my lap.  AT THE BAR.

(Aside: needed to pause writing blog post to take call from National Mother of the Year Award Nomination Committee…my chances are looking strong.)

As I tried to hold a conversation with actual adults while keeping my wine away from the tiny tornado on my lap, I was interrupted every four words with conversations like:

“My teacher at school says…”

“My friend Ryan’s little brother bit him…”

“Today I weared my socks AND Crocs just like Lukas…”

You get the gist.

Image

Quinn practicing writing S’s

Anyway, at one point Quinn seemed to climb up on to the bar and lay on it; obviously confused, I asked him what he was doing.

“An S!  I see an S!  It’s like a sssssss-nake, see?”

At that point, my sweet boy put his index finger on the S in the word “JoSe Cuervo” written on the bar and traced it.

“Here’s another S, Momma!  Look, I see it!”

Quinn traces the S in the word “Grey GooSe.”

I am SO happy that the 20-something bartender was witnessing this entire incident.  If HE has an in with the aforementioned Mother of the Year nomination committee, I’m now accepting wagers.

Education can come from anywhere, folks.  Whether tailgating at a football game (keeping track of cornhole scores counts as math) or ante-ing up in poker (statistics are important, folks), one must never overlook a teachable moment.  I can’t wait until Quinn is sworn in as Chief Justice and he credits his Mom for teaching him how to Spell all of thoSe confuSing AmmendmentS to the ConStitution correctly.  I will be So proud.

In JoSe we trust.

Savoring the Moment

It’s Back to School time and I for one am thrilled.  Back to routine, back to schedules, back to kids using their minds instead of their thumbs (video games and TV clickers have gotten some serious mileage in the two weeks since camp ended).  Laundry was done, clothes were laid out and hair was washed as we prepared for Day 1.

My oldest began 7th grade at a new private school but luckily, Andy works there and had the lay of the land down.  While it didn’t make it worry-free for Ben (far from it…when an adolescent actually ADMITS to being nervous, you know it’s serious), all the preparations had been made.  He had finished his summer reading, had a closet full of collared shirts and even brand new sneakers that actually fit him.  I owe all of that to his Dad.

IMG_8260Georgia, however, seemed to fall under my jurisdiction and clearly, I had dropped the ball.  She spent the day before school finishing the 10 pages left in her summer math book (whoops), and hunkered down in my office while I worked.  A matholympics done at a snail’s pace, she finally finished at 7:34 pm and I told myself that it would be fresher in her memory this way.  Before going to bed, I tried to play the part of the organized mom by suggesting we pack her bag for the First Day of School.  And that’s where it all unraveled.

Upon pulling the backpack from a dusty corner of her room, I was floored by how heavy it was and as the words left my mouth, I wanted to pull them back in.

“Why is this so heavy?  What’s inside?”

Oh. THAT would be everything that’s been sitting in there since the last day of school.  In other words…Mom of the Year never even went through her bag to see what she had done in second grade.  Everything from her pencil box to her journal and even the note from the incoming teacher on what the kids should be armed with for third grade was in there (I REALLY could have used that before bedtime); even her pink fleece jacket was stuffed at the bottom (mystery solved).  To be honest, I was actually relieved that I didn’t find an empty carton of milk and bag of rotten grapes in there too.  Guess I got lucky.

ImageIt occurred to me that June seems like a lifetime ago.  I can’t remember how busy the last day of school was (my guess now is VERY) or what she wore or even what the date was, but life got so crazy that I forgot to stop and savor the moment.  I decided to fix that immediately by pulling out her journal and we read some of the passages together.  What I found out was pretty amazing.

Georgia won her soccer game 6-1 in September and had fun meeting her cousins’ goats in October.  She played with a bunny named Thumper in November, and was so proud of how her Christmas tree looked.  Staying up until midnight on New Years Eve made her year and the Easter Bunny brought her hair elastics and nail polish and hair clips (she loves Easter).  She also declared that if she were President, she would make a law never to hurt anyone because “if you do you could go to jail.  I know you wouldn’t want that.”

I realized that so often as parents, we forget to slow down.  We need to remember that It’s ok to say no to volunteering for another committee or to meeting people after work or even (gasp!) to take a day off once in a while.  It all goes so fast and while I’m glad that I have Georgia’s journal to keep forever, I’m sad that I missed that moment with her in June.  Never again.

After all, I could be raising one heck of a future President.  Time to step it up.

Confessions of a 41-year old Mom

As parents we like to believe that our children see us as perfect adults who have all the answers.  And while they are young, we may actually have them fooled…but it’s fleeting.  As they get older (and mouthier), they start calling us out on those deep dark secrets that we’ve hidden for so many years.

Recently I found my 12-year old and his friend watching a movie that, well, let’s just say had grossed out even me.  He said, “Don’t worry Mom, I won’t tell anyone.  You know I’ve seen worse.”  And in a way, it was true.  At that moment I realized it was time to come clean about my own dirty parenting secrets, so here goes.

  1. Even though I roll my eyes when the kids demand to listen to their Top 40 Pop radio in MY car, there are a few of them that I actually like.  No, LOVE.  As in, when-I’m-in-the-car-by-myself-I-crank-the-volume kind of love.  “Troublemaker” by Olly Murs and Flo Rida comes to mind, as does “Blurred Lines.”  And when it’s just Ben and me in the car, we jam to Justin Timberlake’s “Suit and Tie.”  The non-edited-for-radio version.  Don’t judge.
  2. photo-42This is a terrible one but since I’m baring all: I hate pushing kids on swings.  I realize that this ranks me like, one tiny rung above Joan Crawford, but for me it is the most mind-numbing activity and the fact that children can do it for hours on end makes it all the more painful.  I see all those happy Moms, smiling and pushing, smiling and pushing…and on the surface I try to keep up appearances but on the inside I’d swear my teeth actually itch.  I’m not proud.
  3. I hate broccoli.  I mean, I had Ben and Georgia fooled for years…or rather, I had become very adept at distraction and sleight of hand whenever they would notice that they were eating it and I was not.  I have tried my whole life to like it as I know it’s SO good for you and of course I want to lead by example, but the truth of the matter is that I simply cannot stand it.  I can stomach broccoli if it’s buried deep inside a quiche or drowning in melted cheese but really, I would eat wood chips if they were prepared that way.
  4. photo-36During the summer, we often count trips to the swimming pool as bathing.  I really try to have them take a shower or bathe at least every other day but sometimes there is so much going on between camp and work and baseball and neighborhood friends that by the time they saunter on home, it’s dark and I’m tired and, well…they’re sort of clean.  All hail, chlorine!
  5. I’ve mentioned the age-inappropriate movie that Ben was watching, but there’s more.  The older kids watch “Big Brother,” which is SO dumb that you can almost hear your IQ dropping during the course of an episode.  Georgia and Ben have seen “Jaws” and love it (at least they have great taste but still, it’s terrifying).  And one time I smiled as Georgia and Quinn were snuggled up under a blanket, looking so cute watching TV, only to realize that they were watching “The Hunger Games.”  Quinn is 3 1/2.  Needless to say, that was flipped off immediately but still?  Oh, Mother of the Year.
  6. photo-41Despite my complaining, I’ve grown to love Elvis the dog.  Sure, he still poops on the dining room rug now and then and always has a crusty tail (because he drools in his crate and then rolls in it) and did I mention that he suffers from separation anxiety?  Despite it all, that mangy mutt has found a place in my heart.  Of course, now it’s a dirty corner of my heart that smells like dog but still, there it is.  Ugh.

So while I realize that I am far from perfect, I ask you honestly, what parent is?  Maybe the kids will see that I don’t judge other Moms because people in glass houses don’t throw stones and therefore acceptance is what is paramount.  Yeah, that’s the grand teaching that I’ll impart upon them…not that it’s okay to dress up like a pickle while you swim through vinegar on national television in hopes of winning $500,000.  It’s really all about acceptance.

That’s my gift to my children.  And to my fellow imperfect parents.  Ya’lls are welcome.

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