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.