Sunday, December 30, 2012


Usually, I'm asleep mere moments after my head hits the pillow.  I cozy up under the covers, read seven or eight pages of a novel, and I'm struggling to keep my eyes open. 

But last night.  I lay down at around 11:30 p.m.  After I was sure that my kids and my nephew and niece were asleep.  After watching most of a movie but deciding not to watch the ending. It was late!

And then I lay there.  And I closed my eyes. And thought.

Am I getting a migraine?
Will I wake up with a migraine?
Why are there wavy lines when I close my eyes?
Do I have a brain tumor?
Oh God. I have a brain tumor. I can't die! My kids are so young!
No no. I'm just freaking out.
Man, I hope the kids don't wake up at 5:00 a.m.
If they wake up at 5:00 a.m. I will only have five hours of sleep.
Crap! I'm totally going to get a migraine.
No I'm not.  I'm okay. Breathe.

I tried breathing.

OH my GOD I'm totally getting a migraine.
No I'm not.


I must have dozed off because I dreamed.

I dreamed I was driving up a hill which was on a near-ninety degree angle and I was terrified that if I stopped I would roll backwards to my certain demise.


Once awake, I couldn't sleep again. I was hot.  I was sweating. DRENCHED actually.  How could I be sweating? It was ten degrees outside. 

I may have fallen asleep again.  I dreamed that I was at a party of a friend's to whom I haven't spoken in a while.  Her friends were all angry with me.  Everyone was either angry or ignoring me.


Then awake again, I had a throat tickle. 
Then Tad woke up.
 He handed me his water bottle.  I drank.  Then I got up and walked around.

I finally fell back asleep and dreamed that our loaner guinea pig turned into a huge behemoth creature, taking up the whole dining room. And it had babies, all over the place, millions of tiny guinea pigs. What were we going to do with them?!!!

I was actually relieved when it was morning.  And the kids were up. At 7:00! Not bad.

Tonight, however, Lucy was asleep by 7:20.  Coen by 8:45.  Hip Hip! 
Hooray for me going to sleep very shortly and dreaming about NOTHING!

Friday, December 28, 2012

My three Gifts

On Christmas morning, Coen presented me with a wrapped box.  Inside was a note:
Dear Mom. I'm sorry I coudnt get you a real present but I hope you like this gift. You are the best mom in the world. I love you too much! Your the best. I like it when you give me food. You care for me. I love you! P.S. Merry Christmas
And this story:
 One day their was a super smart woman named Alie. She was marid to a man named Tad. They had a child named Coen. When Coen was 4 years old she had another baby named Lucy. But one day a bad guy came and he was super strong and said a mean thing to Alie to make her mad but she was so smart she knew it was some sort of trick so she out smarted him and he ended up in jail.
The end.
p.s. Many years later she was one of the best, fastest, nicest person in the world and so did Coen Lucy and Daddy.

pps. Merry Christmas Ho Ho Ho Ho. I love you

This is the kind of gift that I cannot believe my luck in receiving. 

Also, a few days later (yesterday) Tad's parents came and picked up the kids to take them to an indoor water park and overnight.  I was starting to do some household picking up after they left and Tad said, "Knock that off. Go check your email."
And in my inbox was an email from Tad saying 
"LET'S GO!" with a link to a hotel package.

So off we went to stay at a hotel for our date night.  We never even turned on the TV. Up until almost midnight, we talked about religion, spirituality, love and what feels like our family's collective purpose and our individual purpose on this earth. 

That was a gift as well.

And one more:
I just went upstairs to check on Lucy and she said to me, 
"Mommy...where is dreamland?"

I like my family.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Happy Holidays

 Happy Holidays everyone!!

Happy Christmas Eve, and Merry Christmas, and Happy Kwanzaa and Happy Hanukkah....

And my favorite day of all:

Happy stay in your pajamas all day and play with you new toys Day!!!!

Here's my with my new Hula Hoop from Tad

And Tad trying to figure out how to open up his new portable record player...from ME!

 Coen beginning construction on his new more than 1,000 piece Lego Set....

The Malevolence

From his grandparents.  He just finished it. It took him a total of six hours to finish


And finally, Lucy. Enjoying her new Unicorn Pillow Pet, a gift from Santa which she asked for specifically.

Happy Holidays from the Kriofske Mainella family to you!  And of course happy Winter Break to those of you who are lucky enough to be off enjoying!!!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Winter break's already good

I started my winter break on Thursday.  I took my kids to school and then stayed there and helped a group of other moms wrap presents for families with Sojourner Family Peace Center.  I was going to stay an hour and then go to my exercise class but I stayed for two and a half hours and exercised the extrovert in me instead.

Then four of us went out to coffee at Alterra and talked about parenting, getting calls from teachers, household repairs and good china.  It was wonderfully affirming and fun.

Then I went to lunch with a good friend and had great conversation.

After wrapping presents at home and listening to Glee Christmas on Pandora (embarrassingly AWESOME) I went back to get my kids at school.

Friday I went and got my hair done and then lost my cellphone.  I drove around back to where I was, trying to find it and to AT & T to get a new one (didn't) and back to where I was to try to find it (again) and finally back to school to gather the children (Thus taking a deep breath and saying a mental goodbye to my iphone) That night was the kids' school holiday program.  It was beautiful and hilarious and tear-jerking and laugh-producing as always.  The best part: two of my friends getting publicly engaged on stage just before the end of the last upper elementary class' performance. 

Coen's hard to see but he's back there, between the two girls in black dresses.  They sang "I can see clearly now"
Lucy with some classmates. She was Two Turtle Doves
Tad's class did Cat Steven's If you wanna sing out sing out.  Watching him direct them and the kids singing that song with all their hearts and souls.  Well, it made me fall in love with him all over again.

Saturday Tad and I got to have a date night, courtesy of Tad's parents.  We went out to dinner and a movie.  It was tremendously lovely.

And we were very happy to see our children in the morning.

Today we watched the Packer game with my family, including my mom's cousin Barbara here for Christmas from Virginia.   We had a wonderful time and the cousins played and went sledding together.  We ate good food and decorated Christmas and Hanukkah cookies and laughed and talked and watched football.

And we let Coen stay up and watch Star Wars Attack of the Clones tonight.  He was so excited.  He said, "Mommy, excitement is just building up inside me. I feel like I could jump from a cliff!!"  During the love scene between Padme and Anakin (which Tad and I were privately scoffing at) Coen sighed and looked at us and said, "It would be great to sit in a prairie with someone you love."

Tad and I just looked at each other.  Wow.  And. It is, Coen. It is.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


So yesterday was yet another day that Coen couldn't keep it together at school.  He was sent out of group time for excessive silliness and missed recess because he didn't get his work done due to messing around all day. 

I'm having trouble not seeing this as end-of-the-world style terrible problems (partly because I'm at the time of the month in which a person of the female persuasion tends to feel as though her emotions/reactions/mood are entirely out of her control and the slightest problem is apocalyptic). 

We sat at dinner and tried to sort out why Coen got sent away during his class' time to practice their holiday song.  According to him he had no idea what he did wrong and he was just trying to sing like Otis Redding.  Tad suggested that maybe tomorrow he just sing like himself and asked if Coen was absolutely SURE he was not doing anything.  Coen shrugged and said that maybe he may have been messing around a little. 

After I gave him a bath and tried to talk to him about things during which he sunk down underwater in his extreme desire not to hear me say anything about his part in this situation and broke down crying about two kids who are mean to him.  I feel bad about this but suggested that he really only has control over himself and his own reactions to which he replied that "that's NOT even what I'm TALKING about..."  After all that, I got him tucked into bed with his Star Wars book and went downstairs to talk to Tad.

Tad assured me that the ship would right eventually and that I'm just freaking out because I was the kind of child, in school, who-in his words- just spent all my time at the teacher's desk polishing her apples.  I laughed at that and left for a meeting during which I received this picture text from my smart-ass husband:

So, even though I'm as frustrated with Coen as I am sympathetic towards him and I'm at a loss as to what to do about this endless barrage of troublesome days...I feel incredibly lucky to have a partner who goes to such lengths to make me laugh and I know that if his son is even a fraction like him when he grows up, we have no worries.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Good GOD is this the TWEENS?

It's happening. 

Either that or an alien came in the night and took my child and replaced him with a moody, angry, easily frustrated version of himself. 

Coen is becoming a tween. 

He even asked when he would be old enough to have his own laptop as he deftly maneuvered around my mom's, never having been taught, just somehow knowing how. 

So here it is.  My child is getting very frustrated and annoyed with me, with his sister, with Tad.  He's having trouble controlling the energy in his body at school and I'm getting countless reports from his teacher about disruptiveness, excessive silliness.  But never unkindness.  So I know he's still in there.  He torments his sister and then yells "I KNOW!!!  Jeez!" When I tell him that he needs to stop.  He breaks down crying over the suggestion that it's nearly homework time but pulls away when I try to hug him. 

So, I must prepare myself.   Here are the steps I shall take:

1. Grow thicker skin
2. Remember to honor more requests of "Mom, will you play with me?" Because those are getting fewer and farther between
3. Laugh. It's hilarious.

So, my friends with similarly aged children: Strap yourselves in to this roller coaster called Parenthood and get ready for a  hormones filled, moody, broody thrill ride.  Let's remember, we went through it too.  And call me for lunch. We'll need to commiserate.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A moment with Lucy

Last night, Lucy leaned on me while we watched The Charlie Brown Christmas Special. She sat up suddenly and rubbed her hand down my front. 
"Mommy?" She said. "Why are you so soft?"
"Oh Mommas are supposed to be soft." I said "So they're more comfy for their children to cuddle with."
Lucy thought.  "Well...I know that some people think God made the world and some people think Jesus made the world and Coen thinks the Big Bang made the world, but I think that all of those things made the world. And whoever made Mommas...Well they knew Mommas had to be soft. But how did they know that the children would like that?"

Friday, December 14, 2012

Rashad's Law

You know Murphy's Law.  And Catch 22.  Well I'm talking about something like that, but for PARENTHOOD.  I thought to myself, it needs a new name, for these mothering catch 22's.   And I thought, who is a TV mom that is the quintessential mom?  Then I got it.  Claire Huxtable.  She's the best TV mom, ever, in my opinion.  Some kids wanted her to be their mom. Some kids had a little crush on her.  Some just wanted her to sing us to sleep.  But she also was super real in the show about how wonderful parenthood is AND how hard it is...  PLUS she was a lawyer.  So I'm naming this law after Felicia Rashad.

The law that says, you, the mom have been sick for the better part of a week.  And finally it's Friday and you have most of the day off--your plans are to run errands of a holiday-related nature and do a little house cleaning and listen to loud music and just enjoy your solitude.  And then in the morning your kid has the stomach flu. So instead you are on the couch with him, watching Lego Ninjago on TV.  The house will stay messy, probably later there will be vomit. Your shopping will remain undone.  Rashad's Law.

And it happens all the time. My friend Kristin's children have been in school for the better part of five years.  And every President's Day she has off while the rest of her family has to go to school and work.  She looks forward to the day of alone time, maybe to watch a movie.  Take a long run.  Enjoy the house to herself. But you know, probably four of those five years, one of her children had to stay home sick from school and poof, there went her day.  Rashad's Law.

Last weekend my sister finally arranged a dinner gathering with another family.  It had taken months and months to get together on a date.  And they had it all planned.  Dinner items were prepared. Desserts bought.  And then her son spiked a fever.  Dinner cancelled.  Rashad's Law.

It happened to me last year the day the kids went back to school after winter break.  My agency was closed and I was so excited to undeck the halls all by myself and give the ransacked house a good cleaning.  That morning, waking Coen gleefully for school, ready for my day, I saw his peaked face.  "I don't feel good, Mommy." Doh! Rashad's Law!

Ah well.  My sweet boy is giggling at the cartoon that's on and I will put away this laptop and cuddle up with him.  And that's the upside of it.  A pretty good upside.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Last night Coen got into the bath and I sat down on the stool next to the tub.
Coen: Can you tell me stories tonight, Mommy?
Me: Sure. What kind of stories?
Coen: You choose. About you. When you were young.
Me: Hmm.. What age should I tell you a story about?
Coen: What age was hard for you?
Me: Oh, twelve.
Coen: Why?

So I explained about how at twelve your body goes through all kinds of changes. And Coen wanted to know what kind so I explained that.  And I told him about changes for boys and girls.  And then the hormones. And the mood changes.  And crushes.  Coen's face broke into a smile when I said that.

Coen: Mom. I already have a crush.
Me: You do?!
Coen: Yes.
Me: Would you tell me who?
Coen: Sure (and he proceeded to tell me who but I must protect his privacy so I shan't reveal.)
Me: So, Coen.  What does it mean to have a crush?
Coen: Well, I like her. And I try to be near her all day.  (he grins and I think oh my gosh, he really does have a crush)

We talk about crushes and how other kids like to talk about who has a crush on whom.  Coen asks me what to do if someone points out his crush in front of the whole classroom and everyone laughs and points.  I tell him he could play it cool.  Just say, So what! I have a crush. 
"Mom!" He says, "That's not my style." 
So true. It isn't.  I tell him a story about when I was a kid and I had a crush on a boy named John.  And at the holiday concert, my class was all together getting ready and my sister came in the room and said in front of everyone "Alie has a crush on John and she wishes she would get braces too so when they kiss their teeth would get stuck together!"
Coen looks shocked
Coen: What did you do?!
Me: I just was so embarrassed that I wanted to...
Coen: Cry?
Me: Yes. And disappear.  And everyone laughed.
Coen: Did they point?
Me: (laughing) I don't think they pointed.  But it was embarrassing. But everyone forgot about it too...

Later, Coen asks if Daddy can come in his room so he can tell him about his crush.

Tad said that he too asked Coen how he knew he had a crush.  Coen said, "I really like her."
Tad said, "Is she sweet?"
"Yes." Coen said. "And she has a nice smile. And she thinks I'm funny.  Daddy? Did you ever have a crush?"
"Oh yes." Tad said, smiling, "Lots of them."
"And Daddy?" Coen said.  "What if someone says that I have a crush on her in front of everyone?"
"You know what?" Tad said. "You can just smile and shrug your shoulders."
Coen liked that tactic.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Santa Claus

Addendum to this Blog Post: (wait...are addendums...or addendi allowed to be at the top or do they have to be at the bottom? Anyway...) I just watched the Charlie Brown Christmas with my children and Sally Brown said this exact statement, basically, to Charlie Brown.  So apparently I wasn't as hilarious or original as I had thought.  Just thought you should know.  Well, I was pretty hilarious and original, mostly in the form of awkward weirdness, but I thought you should know that eight or nine year old me did not make that up.  Charles Schultz did.

Once my mom uncovered a letter from the garage that I had written as a child. It looked like this:

Coen was writing a letter to Santa last night up in his bed.  Though this year is the end of an era. He no longer believes.  He's happy to keep up the charade for his sister, which I appreciate, but it is SO sad to me.

The other day we were at the post office.
Me: Look you guys! A mailbox just for letters to Santa!
Lucy: Can I write him a letter when we get home?
Me: Of course!
Lucy: And we'll come back and mail it?
Me: Yes!
Coen: Wait a minute.  (he waited until Lucy was inspecting the Post Office Christmas tree and then came and whispered in my ear) If there's no Santa, where do those letters go?
Me:(with a secretive look on my face) I don't know...
Coen: Mom! Don't try to get me to believe again!

Dang it!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sometimes I just say things to people....

...and sometimes I really really wish I would have said things to people...

2 examples.

A time I did not say a thing to a person
I was at the coffee shop getting myself a soy white peppermint mocha with whipped cream and Tad an iced coffee with a shot of real caramel in it...  Anyway, the guy at the counter was squinting because the sun was shining directly into his eyes and I was like "Oh my GOSH! You have to work with the sun shining right in your FACE!!" And he was like "Yeah, it's terrible!" and I was like "WOW, that SUCKS!!!"  Then I noticed this guy sitting up at the counter and I recognized him as this dude who used to work with Tad at Discovery World and who was a magician.  Well, I think he was a magician. I remember he did card tricks but mostly I remember him from hanging around the night Tad and I first kissed. I remember because by the point in the night that everyone was going home or to bed and Tad and I (who had not yet kissed) and this magician guy were still up, I REALLY wanted the magician guy to leave already so whatever was going to happen between Tad and I could happen!  Anyway there he was at the counter and I wanted to go up to him and say "Are you a MAGICIAN????"  But I didn't. Because I thought that it might not be him and I didn't want him to feel weird.  But once I got in the car, I deeply regretted it.  I wanted Tad to turn around but we were already late for a bowling party.  I still regret not asking it.  Either way it would have blown his mind.  If he wasn't the guy, he would have just been shocked at being asked such a thing.  If he WAS the guy, well, he wouldn't have been able to believe I just asked him that! It would have been amazing.

Lesson learned: Say things to people when you want to say things.

A time I DID say a thing to a person
Today I was walking out of a restaurant after having had lunch with my parents and my niece.  I saw this guy walking away from his car, towards the restaurant.  He clicked his car locking alarm clicker thingie and it beeped.  But he did it so you couldn't even see he was doing it. He didn't point the device at his car or anything; it could have been in his pocket or up his sleeve for all I knew but I found it to be sort of magical and cool so I said, loudly and enthusiastically, "Wow! That was so nonchalant!"  And he sort of furrowed his brow in confusion and so I said "With the clicker! I couldn't even tell you pressed the button! Nonchalant!  And then he laughed really hard and kept on walking. 
So whatever. He might think I'm completely strange but I gave him a good laugh.

And that's why I should  say things to people when I think of things to say to people.

The end.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

O Tannenbaum

 We decorated our tree on Sunday.  This is an activity I adore.  I love taking the box of ornaments out and watching Coen and Lucy sort through them...delight over finding their name on one...or my name or Tad's name on one with '77 under it.  Or '82.   

We listened to the Beatles and Weezer singing Christmas songs while we drank hot cocoa with marshmallows and candy canes. 

I remember putting up the tree as a kid...the very same tree that is in my house now and was in my grandparents' house when my mom was younger.  Beth and I would find ornaments we'd made when we were little and my mom would always hang up the holiday latch hook rug we'd made together.  We would listen to John Denver and the Muppets holiday album. 

And even in college, I made sure to put up a tree.  My roommate Jud, my friend Brian and I went one year to buy a real tree and we strapped it to the top of Jud's car roof, accidentally wrapping the rope around the open windows so that the doors were tied shut.  We had to start all over again, but we laughed the whole time.  And when we got to our house, Brian hauled the tree in the house by himself and put it in Jud's bed.  Needles were all over the place and Jud and I chased him down to retrieve it.  But we managed to get it back out in the living room and up on its stand, ready for decorating.

Yesterday I spent the morning decorating our department at our office with my coworker Ada.  We strung garland and put up our tree.  We hung wreaths and stockings for everyone.  I even decorated our IT manager's office as his is in our area.  While I did so I sang, "Deck Tom's Office Just to be Obnoxious, fa la la la la la la la la..."

I do love this time of year.  I love the lights and the music and the decorations and the gift giving.  And the tree. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

My heart..not on my sleeve but high in the sky on a banner, carried by a blimp. Over a football stadium.

Tough morning.

Coen has been stressing out all weekend long about this timed addition test, after the completion of which, can he then go on to the multiplication test.  I resolved to talk to his teacher about this, which I did this morning. 

His teacher explained that it is simply her assessment tool and he is welcome to do multiplication lessons anytime he wants.  Bottom line, it is not going to change.

As a parent, you want to fix your child's problems, settle their woes and ease their pains.  I know that part of my job as  a parent is to let him have his woes and problems and pains so he can learn to work them out himself.  Man, that hurts.  So standing in the school hallway this morning, I suddenly found my eyes filling with tears as I told my son there was nothing that I could do.  It was an unexpected thing, these tears, and quite unwelcome as there were several other teachers and parents passing me by, witnessing my moment of utter frustration.

The thing about me is...I cry.  I cry when I'm happy. I cry when I'm angry. I cry when I'm relieved or stressed or frustrated or sad.  I cry at commercials and movies and songs. I cry each and every time one of my friends cries.  I cry.  That's what I do.  So, though for me, this display of emotion was normal, of course I'm thinking these parents/teachers see me and think I'm unstable. Or perhaps I'm making my child feel insecure and worried. 

After I got it together and Coen, Lucy and I sat in a heap in the hall, talking it out. And I dropped them off at class and kissed them goodbye.  I was on my way to go give Coen a quick reassuring hug before going to work and I passed a teacher/mom who had seen me earlier and she gave me one of those lovely sympathetic looks that can undo you entirely, make you dissolve in a second.

And dissolve I did. I made a beeline for the staff bathroom and cried my eyes out.  I cried because I was stressed in the first place about challenging his teacher and that I couldn't take away my kid's worry and because I had been gone last week at a conference away from parenthood and because I'm tired.  I'm stressed out.  I am a mom. 

And after I'd wiped my face and tried to look composed, I went to Coen's classroom.  There he was at a table with his friends, laughing and talking and... fine.  He didn't see me. And I realized, he didn't need me to reassure him.  Because of his life and our family...our openness and honesty about emotion...he is already reassured, even when his mommy cries before leaving him at school.

Even then.  He is fine. And...whew. So am I.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Heart bursting love

I called my children to say hello tonight.

Coen answered.
"Hi Mommy."
"Hello Coen!" I said. "I miss you! How are you?"
"I ran real fast today, Mommy.  I ran real fast and I jumped real high."
"Really? Sounds like fun! Were you in the gym?"
"No, on the playground after school.  Lucy wants to say hi.  I'm kissing the phone.  I love you."

Then it was Lucy's turn.
"Hi Mommy.  What are you doing right now?"
"Hi Angel! I'm just sitting on the bed in my hotel.  I just ate."
"I'm eating Kid Cuisine tonight.  Pasghetti.  With a brownie!"
"You are? Sounds good."
"What are you going to do after you eat, Mommy?"
"Probably watch a movie.  I can't wait to see you tomorrow."
"I love you, Mommy. I kissed the phone."
"I love you too Lucy."

Simple conversations.  But hearing their little voices, which always somehow sound an octave higher over the telephone than they do in person...  My heart felt like it was going to combust with my love for them. 

Being a parent can be really...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My mortality

I've had a lot of cause to think about my mortality lately.

A week ago,  I attended my uncle's funeral.  It the wake of a sad event, I got to spend time with the grown-ups of my childhood.  I felt like ten years old again.  I got to go back there.  Today, I'm sitting in the hotel room in New Jersey for the sex ed conference. Last year when I was here, Harald called me to let me know that the radiation had not worked on his brain tumor. 

The week before last, I took my kids to the dentist.  It was a few days after my uncle died.  As we pulled away, Coen said, "Mommy. Know what I realized?  Last time we came to this dentist, you told us that Harald died.  Now we're at this dentist and Uncle Boobers died."
"Oh, wow.  Yeah. That's true, Coen." I said.
"This is a bad luck dentist!" Coen said.  "I wonder who's going to die next time we come."
"Well..." I started.
"Maybe you, Mommy." Lucy piped in.
"No!" Coen said, "Not Mommy."
"Well, you guys, I'm not going to die next time we go to the dentist." I said, hopefully reassuringly.
"Who will die next time Mom?"  Lucy said.
"Well, probably no one honey." I said.  "It was just a sad coincidence.  Not a bad luck dentist. I don't think anyone's going to die."
Coen and Lucy spent the rest of the car ride throwing out names of people who might die next time.

But in the weeks that followed the funeral, both kids were spooked, particularly at night and we talked a lot about death and dying and what it all means.

And I have to tell you, when I fly without my family, I get TERRIFIED.  I start thinking of how I should have let them know how much I loved them or at least left the password names for Tad to all our accounts. Last night, I couldn't fall asleep because of the rising anxiety.  On the plane, when there is turbulence, and particularly during take-off, I am a wreck. I grip the sides of my seat and I am pretty sure I make some noises.  I have to quell my urge to stand up and shriek "We're going down!"  Which, if I did that, would be terribly horrible.  And horribly funny.

But I'm here. I made it.  And I'll make it home.  And I know that death is part of life.  It's what I tell my kids.  We all born and we live and we have a limited time on this spinning earth. And we die.  But I plan on making the most of it... the time I have.  And teach my kids to do the same.

Do you realize, that you have the most beautiful face?
Do you realize, we're floating in space?
Do you realize that happiness makes you cry?
Do you realize, that everyone you know, someday, will die..

And instead of saying all of your goodbyes, 
Let them know you realize that life goes fast...
It's hard to make the good things last...
You realize the sun doesn't go down;
It's just an illusion caused by the world spinning round. 
                                                                                                          --The Flaming Lips     

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

hotdogs, homework and handmade hilarity

Last night was something else. It was an ordinary evening, but it was something else...  I picked up the kids from school. They complained about the snacks I brought them in the car.  Lucy said hers was "duschusting."  Coen said he didn't really like those bars anymore.  Then they both ate them, leaving their wrappers on the seats.  At home, they had a light saber battle outside and wanted me to join in.
"I don't wanna!" I whined. "I'm cold!"
"But Mommy!" Lucy said, waving her purple light saber around, "If you move around, you'll warm up!"
True.  So I battled Coen at Lucy's side and she told me that she was Princess Leia and I was Princess Abidabi. 

After a while I left them there to play while I made dinner.  Squash soup and pigs in a blanket made with chicken sausage from Outpost instead of hot dogs.  This was also proclaimed "duschusting" by Lucy, but she did like her macaroni and cheese.  (Made for those who don't like squash soup, approximately half of our family-the smaller half.)

After dinner the cable guy came to fix our ailing internet.  Tad and I told Coen he had to do his homework and he slunk down on the couch with his Star Wars book, his bones suddenly seemingly melted away in anguish.    But he settled in and Lucy joined him.  Tad and I listened to Van Morisson and offered occasional subtraction and addition help.

And something about it. The music playing and the kids working together, showing each other their problems.  Sitting with Tad in the warmth of our house. The cable guy chatting amicably.  It just felt impossibly cozy and lovely and wonderful.  Just being a parent of kids doing homework and having household repairs done and being together.  I felt in love with my life.

And the kids finished their homework right when the cable guy finished fixing it up and they wanted to show him what they'd done and we chatted about his kids and their homework. Then Coen took him in the playroom and he so very kindly obliged a tour of Coen's Lego creations.  He showed us a picture of a Lego Batman he'd made.  And as I took Lucy up to bed, Tad got on the phone and called the cable company to compliment the service and personality of our technician. 

As Lucy picked out her clothing, she got upset because she wanted to wear a sweatshirt with a pocket that went all the way through but NOT the Packer sweatshirt and that was the ONLY sweatshirt with a POCKET that went ALL THE WAY THROUGH! 
"Can you sew me a heart and a star over the Packers?" She asked me.
"Well, I suppose I could." I said.
"Can you cut the hood off? I don't want a hood." She said.
"Sure." I said.
"Okay. Can you do it now?"
But I did do it then.  I tucked her in bed and she was still awake when it was done so I showed it to her.  She snuggled happily under her covers and I kissed her goodnight.
Coen, inspired by Lucy, asked if I could make him a shirt.  "Of a Chic." He said.  Coen is nine and talks in strange words and there a lot of talk of a Chic and a Moose and a Mole in our house.  And it's running rampant through Ms. Wendy's class. 
"Well, you'll have to draw me a chic." I said.
And so he did.
And I made him a shirt, by his design.

Here are my kids, in their creations, this morning before school.  I hope someday in teenagerhood, they remember this evening of creativity...and that it affects them.

Tad laughed on his way out the door this morning. "If there's any monkey business in school today due to that shirt, Miss Wendy will know who to blame!" He said.
"There won't be any monkey business, will there Coen?" I said.
"What!" Coen protested.  "Me? Monkey business?!"

I guess we'll see at 3:30 if the boy doth protest...

Friday, November 23, 2012

Holler House

You might recall my conversation between me and the lady at Holler House about our Bowling Party..

We cashed in on that party on Wednesday as a day before Thanksgiving celebration.  We got to Holler House on 20th and Lincoln around 5:00.  We entered to find a woman on crutches, two old timers with tumblers of booze, and an ancient woman bartender. 
"You got a party, Marc ?" one of the guys said. 
"A party?!" She said incredulously before looking up and seeing me and Lucy. 
"Hello." I said. "I was the one who called about a bowling party for eight?"  I handed her my gift certificate. 
"Oh we're not equipped for kids to bowl here!" She said and started reading the certificate.
Tad took over and talked to her about his memories of having been there once before and she seemed to warm to us. 
"We ordered Ned's Pizza." Tad said.
"You ordered WHAT?"
"Yeah, we ordered pizza for delivery here from Ned's." I added.
"Oh sure! You can order Ned's. They'd deliver right here." She said, helpfully.
"We did." I said.
Our friends joined us then and we set the kids up with dinner.  And Tad loaded five dollars on to the jukebox.  After dinner, we all made our way to the basement to bowl on the two lane basement alley while the pin setter took a seat at the end and waited for us to start.

The kiddos eating their pizza dinner by the "juicebox"

Scary how at home my daughter looks at the bar
Then we bowled.  The kids bowled on one lane and us on the other.  We got our shoes from a disorganized pile under the stairs that smelled of stinky feet and cat urine.  The four children went crazy, dancing to the music, screaming in reaction to anything from a gutter ball, to one pin falling, to a strike. 

Marcy was pretty ready for us to leave halfway in, however. When Tad went up for more water, she said, "How many more games are you going to bowl?!"
"We're on our first one still!" Tad laughed. "But we'll go after this one is over."
"Well don't forget to tip the pin boy." She said.

She proceeded to remind each adult in our party at least once to tip the pin boy.  We did have a great time.

And we remembered to tip the pin boy.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My kids in church.

Tad and I are raising our children as good little agnostics.  Good little agnostics who give to others, and help people who need it, who believe in goodness and kindness and the power of love and faith in each other and in the larger spiritual world around us. 
Coen and Lucy have Christian grandparents and Raised-Christian-Agnostic grandparents and Jewish cousins and lots of friends of varying beliefs and religions.  We try to give them a well-balanced story about all the different beliefs out there and that includes stories that Tad and I both were told as children, stories from the Bible.

So yesterday evening was my Uncle Boobers' funeral.  Coen and Lucy joined us there and came gingerly up to the front of the church, holding my hands to see Uncle Boobers in his casket. They had many questions about how he looked and where he was now.  We talked about how his soul was no longer in his body which makes him look very different. And how we don't know exactly what happens but that we believe that his spirit is still with us and all around us and certainly reunited with the spirit of my Auntie Patsy-his wife and love who died twenty-seven years ago.

When we entered the church there was a statue of Jesus and Lucy ran up to it, exclaiming, "Is that GOD?!!!"   Later in the church,  Lucy pointed up at the crucifix and said loudly "Why is that fake guy hanging on the wall?"  Coen told her that Jesus was God's son and that was him hanging on the wall.  So they sat in their pews and asked about the kneelers, trying them out.

During the service, Lucy asked "What's this song about?" for every Psalm.  Coen marvelled at the ritual of the Communion, asking incredulously if Daddy and me (who don't drink) were actually going to drink the wine?  Lucy sat nestled between my parents making them laugh with her questions and at one point leaned to my mom and whispered, "Why are we here?"

My dad gave Uncle Boobers' Eulogy and it was funny and perfect.  But in keeping with all the people who wanted to share their stories and memories, it was a bit long.  During one point, Coen whispered to me, "What part of the story is this?" And I said, "What do you mean?" And Coen answered "Is he still alive in this part?"

My kids were entertaining and curious as always, but when the casket was taken out of the church and my mom broke down, saying goodbye to her brother, I ran over to hug her and both of us cried.  Coen came over and he was crying too.  I sat down on the pew and held on to my sweet, sensitive boy, who had his head wrapped around the sadness and reality of this event and held him tight.  Lucy, who had been dancing on top of the pew to the final organ-played song, jumped off with her arms out in a well-timed finish and joined Coen, my mom and I in a "Family Hug."

My kids may not be baptized as Christians.  They may not go to church every Sunday. But they are loving, giving, kind, little souls full of all of the right kind of light.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Head Lice

Okay, I am finally ready to write about this.

A few weeks ago, I discovered that Coen had head lice.

Let me back up.  It was going around school. We'd had notes. And calls. But I was determined that it would not happen to us.  I remember as a kid in school when the nurse would come in and dig through our hair with straws, wearing those big goggles.   And I'd be silently praying Please not me. Please not me.   And it never was me.

But Coen and Lucy were both itching their heads.  And finally one night, while Coen was in the bath, I started to inspect.  And I found one. And two. And three.  After Coen was dry and sitting at the table, poring over a Star Wars book, Tad ran out and bought some lice killer.  And we scrubbed. And waited and rinsed and put more stuff in and combed and combed and combed.  And I snipped and Coen sobbed.  And then another rinse. And another comb through. And finally off to bed.

Five loads of laundry later, at 2:00 a.m., just before Tad and I finally went to bed I just thought I'd do a quick comb through Lucy's hair as she slept.  I took the comb to the bathroom and sure enough, there was a crawling one right on there.

Is how I felt.

So we spent a week of washing all the hats, coats, gloves, mittens, blankets, sheets, and bedding and clothing in the house.  And daily washings of the outerwear. Daily dryer runs of all the sheets and pillows and blankets.  And daily hair comb throughs with bribes of Halloween candy.  And a second treatment on day seven.  And the discovery of newly hatched lice babies in Lucy's hair that night and one louse baby in Coen's hair the following day.  And more combing and washing and drying.

And I took them both for haircuts and silently prayed that they would not tell the haircut lady that they had had lice.  It was over by then but they didn't seem ashamed to talk about it.  When my mom came over and I was combing through Lucy's hair, she said matter-of-factly "She's looking for bugs".  No shame there.  Coen was slightly more affronted by the idea of the whole thing. 

And finally....we are lice free.  I feel like I've never done so much laundry and combing of hair in all my life.  But we made it. And all said and done, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.    I even made a public service announcement.  You can watch it below.

My Puppet Public Service Announcement about Lice

 Oh what a happy day it was when I checked on day 21 and nothing nothing nothing.  Lucy drew balloons on paper and said we'd have a lice free party.  At the store today, walking down the aisle, I said something about Christmas lights.

"Christmas lice???" Lucy shouted.  I saw a few people stifle laughs.  Oh if they only knew. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Grammar isn't everything...but....

The above photo is of an advert I saw tacked to a coffee house bulletin board in Chicago.  Call me shallow, but that grammar mistake right there might deter me from calling a person to take care of my kids. 
I don't know...maybe it's my English Major. Maybe it's my very grammatically correct parents. I knew how to avoid ending my sentence with a preposition at age six.  My dad taught me a word a day when I was little.  Erudite was the first of those.  I learned that one around the age of seven or eight and used it regularly.  Being called "precocious" when I was twelve, to me, was the ultimate compliment. 
In fact, the photo below, quite nicely captures how I feel about grammar.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

What was that now?

Conversation between me and the woman who answered the phone at Holler House Bowling Alley (The oldest bowling alley in the country!)

Me: Hi. I won a bowling party for eight at Holler House and I'm calling to see if I can reserve it.

Her: What was that  now?

Me: I won a bowling party for eight at Holler House and I was calling to see if I could reserve it.

Her: Eight what?

Me: Eight people.  For a bowling party?

Her: A bowling who?

Me: I wanted to see if we could come and bowl there. I have a gift certificate.

Her: And when did you get that?

Me: When did I get it? I got it at a Greendale Historical Society fundraiser this summer.

Her: And when was that?

Me: Oh! It was in August.

Her: August! Oh no, you can't come bowling in August. It's WAY too hot down there in the basement in August.

Me: No. I won it in August. 

Her: Nope.  No bowling in August or July. Too hot down there.

Me: No, no, I want to bowl next week

Her: Next week?  Oh! Well let me see what we have open. Next week's Thanksgiving you know.

Me: Yes. I was hoping to bowl on that Wednesday actually.

Her: Well, that Wednesday is the day before Thanksgiving you know.

Me: I know...would that be okay? Are you open?

Her: OPEN! (Starts laughing.)

Me: (Silent)

Her: Okay honey, next week Wednesday. I'll see if we have a lane open.  What time?

Me: Would 4:30 be okay?

Her: Let me have your phone number and then if you CAN'T come, I'll call you. If you don't hear from me, you can come.

Me: Okay (giving her my phone number).  So if you don't call, we'll be there.

Her: Now, it's $4.00 a game and shoes are extra.

Me: Okay. But we have a gift certificate for a bowling how does that work?

Her: How does what work?
Me: The gift certificate. What does it cover?  For the bowling party.

Her: A bowling party!  Well, we'll just have to talk about that when you get here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

More fantasy-related blogging.

The other night, Tad and I went out on a date.  As a partnered person with children, I put a LOT of stock in these date nights.  I put all my eggs in the date night basket, I'm not ashamed to say.  Because how often do you get to have a night alone with the person you love so much you created children with, without said children saying things like:
Excuse me. Mommy? Excuse me? Mommy? MOMMY?? EXCUSE me!
What? Who are you talking about?  Who did (insert inappropriate thing here which you should not be talking about in front of children.)
Mommy? Mommy? Mommy? Mommy? Mommy? .... until you finally stop remembering what it was you were saying to the other person because even though, there was a day when you stared into your sweet baby's eyes and thought I can't WAIT until he calls me mommy.  Now you think, PLEASE stop saying that!!!!!

Anyway, so yeah, a lot of stock in date night.

And the other night, we had a date night and Tad was being kind of moody.  And he seemed a bit cool to me and I got PISSED.  I just wanted a little attention and a a little affection.  So naturally, I acted like a petulant child.  That does it, right?  So Tad assumed I wanted him no where near me so we were staying away from each other.  Then I tried to explain, but then got mad at him all over again about something he said. 

While we were standing around, he checked his Fantasy Football stats on his phone.  I started to seethe.. But then I thought of something.  Changed my mind.  And I took out my phone, and sent him a text message.  My text is in blue-his response in white:

And everything was all better after that.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

My fantasy team.

I am sitting here with Tad whilst he watches Thursday night football. First of all... THURSDAY night football? What gives?!!!  We got Monday night football, Football ALL OVER SUNDAY, and later in the season Saturday night football.  Why does it have to take over Thursday nights too?

At any rate, Tad is watching because a couple of his fantasy players are playing tonight.  I am eating caramel corn.  Tad went to the store and I texted him with a request for caramel corn.  My phone always changes Coen to Corn.  And this time it made my text say "Caramel Coen would be good."
Tad texted back "Coen? Caramel?"
I texted back "ha ha ha ha Caramel CORN!"

So I'm sitting here with football on, eating caramel corn.  And I'm thinking... Who would be on MY fantasy team?

I was going to think of real people but then it would be like my mom and my dad...and you know, it would fill up real quick.  So then I thought, famous people but then I thought of  Martin Luther King and Gandhi and Eleanor Roosevelt and Ellen Degeneres and I decided that I should narrow it down.   So here's my fantasy team of TV show characters.

Barney Stinson from "How I met your mother"
Basil Fawlty from "Fawlty Towers
Kenneth from "30 Rock"
Dr. Robert Hartley from "The Bob Newhart Show"
Tootie Ramsey from "The Facts of Life"
Cliff Huxtable from "The Cosby Show"
George Michael from Arrested Development"
Vickie the robot girl from "Small Wonder"
Punky Brewster

Play Ball!!

Monday, November 5, 2012

November 6, 2012

Taken during the 2008 campaign

Tomorrow my little girl turns five.  Tomorrow we also vote in the 2012 presidential election. 

This is how we'll celebrate:

Lucy and Coen will dress in Lucy's room in front of Lucy's space heater. We'll all go downstairs to our table where Lucy will find a gift, wrapped and placed at her spot. 

We promised breakfast on the go as the four of us will head to our polling place and Tad and I will vote.  I'll drop the three of them off at Highland and go to work.

At lunchtime, I'll go back over to school and we'll do Lucy's classroom birthday celebration.  In Ms. Pat's class, the children get to have their parents come in and share photos and stories of them when they were babies. They then get to walk around the table with the sun on it, holding the earth in their hands, singing "The Earth goes around the sun, tra la la, the Earth goes around the sun. The Earth goes around the sun, tra la la and Lucy is five."  And then they get to bring in a CD of music to have a dance party.  Lucy's choice: Dreams by the Everly Brothers. It is going to be hilarious watching the children try to dance to that! 

After school, I'll pick everyone back up and we'll go to the Build-a-bear workshop (much to mine and Tad's chagrin) because that is what Lucy wanted most for her birthday.  She's going to make a Hello Kitty that she gets to choose the clothes for herself!  She is so excited.

Just like all the Independents and the Socialists and the Libertarians and the Democrats and the Republicans..... we will look at election results when the children are safely tucked away in bed, kissed and read to.  And we'll be hoping upon hope that our candidate will win.

And whether he does and whether he doesn't....We will still wake up and the sun will rise and we'll still be in the America where we are raising our kids.  And I hope when our kids grow up, they have a better system in which to raise theirs.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Serenity later

Picture this scene, drawn by Lucy.

Picture birds singing and that song playing that always plays in cartoons when everything is peaceful and happy.... 

Then picture an evil knight swooping in to attack this nice girl!

That's what happened next, depcited in chalk by Coen.  Lucy was understandably upset.  I mean, who would want to be attacked by an evil knight in any situation, drawing or otherwise.
So then Coen drew a ninja next to Lucy to protect her.  The ninja was her friend Zef.  In a ninja suit.  Because he likes ninjas. 

This happened after we were upstairs getting dressed and Lucy began the day by refusing to wear the T-shirt to advertise Coen's school circus that is happening tonight. His feelings were hurt. She wouldn't budge. At first.  But then it came out that she felt the shirt was too long so we conducted some T-shirt surgery, cut it shorter, and off to school she went.

On the stairs, on the way up to Lucy's classroom, Coen kept getting in her face, making loud, odd noises.  "Is this bothering you?" I asked Lucy. It was certainly bothering me.

"Yes." she said matter-of-factly.

"Coen. That's bothering her. Please stop." I said.

"I didn't hear her say it's bothering her." came his reply.

Honestly, what is it about siblings? Why do they insist upon torturing one another?  And I know, because I'm a sibling too, and I remember very well playing the "who touched who last" game with my sister.  I remember deriving satisfaction from telling her, in the morning, that I snuck in her room while she was sleeping and " touched her last." And the wail that marked her upset and my success.  Awesomeness. What is that?

Perhaps it's the understanding that you actually have power over someone.  Perhaps it's a safe way to learn what happens with the give and take of relationship dynamics and antagonism.  Perhaps it's just fun. 

But at any rate, power or fun, it is the way siblings relate in their youth.  I know someday Lucy will call Coen on the phone.  "God. Mom is so annoying." She'll say. 

That's fine with me. I'll be at the movies. Eating popcorn. Enjoying my serenity.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I get by with a little help....

After being home both Monday and Tuesday with one sick child, I was looking forward to going back to work on Wednesday.  I would wear my Halloween costume. I would get out of the house. I would go teach my class at Goodwill.  But then at 1:00 a.m. I awoke to the sounds of Lucy's cry and Tad running up the steps. When I heard the bathroom sink running for an inordinate amount of time, I said aloud, "Oh no!" and went upstairs to see what was up.  Please don't be sick, I thought.

Sure enough. Lucy had thrown up all over herself and her bed and Tad was cleaning up the mess.  We got her changed, cleaned, the bedding stripped and changed and Lucy soothed and back to bed.  "Damnit!" I said.  "I don't WANT to stay home again tomorrow!"

But I did.

This morning I went up to Lucy's room when she called and she started talking about wanting to bring candy to school today.
"Honey." I said. "You aren't going to school today."
"You threw up last night, remember? You're sick."
"That was NOT throw up." Lucy said determinedly.
I silently sat back on her bed and looked at her.  She looked at me. We had a stare-down for about a full three minutes. Then she sighed.
"It was throw up." She said and climbed onto my lap.

And my parents came over to help me for a couple hours so I could still teach my class.
And a real perk of having my parents help me is that I get ridiculous texts like the one shown below at the bottom.

Lucy's now lounging out on the couch, digging through her Trick or Treat bucket, looking at the candy I won't let her have, and watching Caillou.  I'm wearing my devil horns and tail and sitting close to her on the couch.  I decided it's Halloween and I am dressing up, public or no public.

Let's hear it for tomorrow and my hopeful return to the working world.  And my children's health!

Happy Halloween Everyone.

Monday, October 29, 2012


 This is Darth Maul.  He went trick or treating on Saturday night but didn't want to do the whole Darth Maul thing. So he wore the costume, painted his face black and said he was "nothing."

Trick or treating in the dark in very crowded streets with a boy all in black is very stressful indeed!

Sunday, he let me do the face paint. But then he looked in the mirror and was disappointed.  He went immediately and washed it off.

Prior to Sunday's neighborhood trick or treat block party, he spent most of the day laying on the couch.
 And here's my purple fairy princess.  She changed her mind on the whole elevator thing. Frankly I was glad. Considering the amount of back and forth/head to head struggle we had regarding her wearing the pants and sweater she has on beneath her costume for warmth... I can't even imagine trying to get this girl satisfied in a cardboard box all day!

Lucky for me she had a tiara built in to her cozy hat and her mittens just happened to be...purple! This girl had a BLAST trick or treating.  And playing with her friends.  The block party ended in tears because she got some burrs on her frock.  She emerged from a back yard, huge crocodile tears coming out of her eyes, screaming, "Mommy! BURRS!!! BURRS on my DRESS!" 
I picked them off her royal highness' dress one by one to her complete satisfaction.

Here we have my boy post block party.  He came in with under his daddy's arm and lay on his lap on the couch immediately.  Because he was shivering uncontrollably, Tad gave him a bath and tucked him into our bed with the space heater on.  Just before he fell asleep, I took his temperature.
This explained the way he was acting all day.
Here he is, awake from his nap, desperately trying to make it for the start of the World Series.
He didn't
But we DVR'd it and he watched it during his many hours on the couch today.  I'll be staying home with him tomorrow.

Look at this girl. The stark opposite of her brother at the same moment in time. She is sporting the flashing ring she got from her Grandpa and Nana. 
This girl was also home today because of Parent/Teacher conferences.
(Side note, I had hers and her teacher tells me she is quiet, easy-going and compliant. WHAT?!)
It was quite a feat today juggling my feverish, cuddly boy and this wild girl who started the day jumping in bed with me, jamming her feet and elbows and cranium in my face and saying, "Good morning mommy! Can I fart in your bed!?"

I'll be home tomorrow with Coen, whose fever seems to have gone.  I had to cancel a presentation I was supposed to give in the Dells -- for which I feel extremely guilty... But my job is Mama first and that's where I'm more needed tomorrow.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


I was so relieved to find kringle in the kitchen at work on Friday morning. Because I was still hungry after breakfast.  And to explain why I was still hungry after breakfast, I must first back up to Wednesday morning. 

Wednesday morning I poured the kids each a bowl of cereal and set it at the table with their milk, juice, and vitamins.  Coen came marching in after me with a very angry face.
"I don't like this cereal."
"Well Coen." I said, "You can make yourself something else then."
"What?!!" he exclaimed practically falling on the floor.
"Make some toast. You know how to make toast."
After several attempts at protest, he resignedly made himself some toast.

Then realized how fun it was.

So then he made toast again on Thursday night to eat with dinner.

And he announed before bed that he was going to make us all breakfast on Friday morning.

I am not kidding you, it took him almost a full 45 minutes to make our breakfast. Seriously. Tad was late for work!!  He made mine first, very delicately spreading butter crust to crust.  Then he made Tad's. Same thing.
I said "Coen. Don't you want to toast two at a time? It's faster."
"No." he replied. "This is fun. I'm spreading out the fun."
So while mine and Tad's toast sat at the table, patiently waiting for their companions, Coen made his and Lucy's toast.
Lucy's was last and she joined him in the kitchen yelling to us, "If you come in here, Mommy and Daddy, close your eyes!  He's making me a super special recipe!"
Coen brought in Lucy's toast and placed it on the table.

It's peanut butter, honey, cinnamon sugar, katsup and barbeque sauce.  She ate it.

And while I tried to swallow down my cold and soggy jam and butter toast (while averting my eyes from Lucy's "special recipe")  I praised my son for making breakfast.
Tad raised his glass. "A toast to toast!" he said.

Have a great weekend everyone.