My Little Jokester

February 21, 2011

Those of you who see me often have no doubt gotten an earful as to the daily attempted mutiny that is our weekday morning routine.  And two of my kids LIKE school.  I’ll be in deep trouble if that changes for the worse.  They are temperamental – don’t know WHERE they got that – and one or two hiccups in the process and everything falls apart.

This picture is a couple of years old, but here’s an idea of what I’m up against…

Getting these three kids out the door each weekday morning for school requires an hour and a half of non-stop focus, self-control, gentle chiding and excellent judgment.  Lose my cool?  I’ll be lucky if I ONLY get tears.

Son, at left, has no interest is halting play to go to school.  My only strategy is not to let him play until he is almost ready.

Daughter #2, right, changes clothes at least twice each morning and has a rigorous routine of assessments for fit, comfort and top/bottom compliment.  If she hits severe dissatisfaction, it’s ALL OVER.

Fortunately, I’ve come a long way in recent months.  It turns out that freaking out and yelling is the worst thing to do, truly the nail in the coffin.  Or at least it must be used in the smallest of doses.  I’ve been a slow learner on that one.

The other day the hiccup was Daughter #1 (middle in photo).  She slept a half hour late, which I let her do because if I wake her too forcefully she struggles to shake off her mood.  And I can do that because she loves school so much that as soon as she is fully awake she stays on task.  The other two were escorted to school by my sweet neighbor Dave, who has saved my ass on numerous occasions.

Daughter #1 made slow but steady progress.  She was at the door, putting on the final touch – mittens.  I stood there trying so hard not to rush her snail’s pace, not to mess up the best possible scenario.  Trust me, years of experience have shown me that one false move on my part in this delicate moment will put us on the express train to hell.

She looks up at me with great concern and says, “Mom, we have to return the music books.”

I give her a blank look, “What music books?”  Deep breath.  I’d never heard my kids use this phrase before.

She smiled and said, “Just tricking you.  We don’t have music books.”

That’s right.  My almost 6-year-old had been awake for all of 20 minutes, and had the presence of mind and mischief to %&#( with me!  I laughed.  How could I not?  Days later it still gives me a chuckle, despite the certainty of more sophisticated practical jokes to come.

We walked the short distance to school on that cold, sunny day.  She pointed out everything she noticed: a leaf that had escaped the endless frozen snow, the way the morning sun skidded across the snow and made it sparkle.  It was very icy out from dips below freezing after the previous day’s warmth, but she didn’t want to hold my hand.  She lead the way, she told ME when to watch out for the ice.

And all that was very worth being 5 minutes late.

I found this post with a great mac & cheese recipe and then saw a little button that said “Reblog this post”. I clicked it just to make sure I didn’t lose track of it!

this ain't your mama's mac n' cheese This ain't your mama's mac n' cheese… Because this is my mama's mac n' cheese. Rumors of this recipe have been floating around the Internet for weeks, maybe months. I mentioned it once in a Tweet or in a comment and since then everyone has been bugging me for it (hey, Sarah!). It is seriously one of my favorite memories from childhood. I used to help my mom grate all the cheese and always sneak bites of it when she wasn't looking. In the south, … Read More

via An Epic Change

For the Out of Love

February 15, 2011

Even at my most smitten, I was not a big fan of Valentine’s Day.  Its commercialized greeting cards, over-priced flowers and overcrowded restaurants were of no interest to me.  The only time I’ve eaten in a restaurant on Valentine’s Day was Burger King.  Thank you, it was delicious.

Because I spend an inordinate amount of time on Facebook, I’ve seen lots of laments over this day from the recently dumped, the recently divorced and the just plain lonely.  And frankly, I’m GLAD these people share their misery rather than suffer in silence.  So this post is for those people.

My followers, all five of you, meet my Dad.

Photo by Richard Taylor

This photo was taken of my father in the late 1950s during, or just after, his divorce.  His closest friend had taken him on a trip to San Francisco, I imagine for some recuperation and change of scenery.  All I know about that time was that I have a great brother from that marriage and that the divorce was painful for everyone involved.  It was long before my time.  My Dad fought in World War II and battled polio.  He always said divorce was the hardest thing he’d ever experienced.

The Dad I knew absorbed life, enjoyed it to the fullest.  He learned and observed and was insatiably curious.  He ate and drank well.  He loved to work hard, and loved to travel and relax just as much.  He read and wrote and pondered the world around him all the time.  But this man to the right looks defeated to me.  I don’t ever remember my Dad looking defeated.

So for those of you out there with broken hearts, broken souls or who are just plain weary and find no relief on Valentine’s Day, I wanted to share a smidgen of his story.  This man lived almost another 50 years after this photo was taken, and he lived them well.  I hope the same for all of you.

And for my Mama, who misses him dearly, my thoughts are with you and I love you.

Many years later, on the way back to our seats from communion at the church my parents attended, my Dad plopped down on a pew and gregariously wedged his skinny ass next to a woman I didn’t recognize.  He threw his arms around her in the most demonstrative display of affection I ever saw him give.  He was always friendly, but rarely boisterous.

It was so out of character I asked him about it on the ride home.  He told me her name, which I recognized as a longtime friend and part of a couple that had recently divorced after many years of marriage.  He said to me that he hadn’t seen her in a long time and that it must be hard to return to the church she’d attended with her former husband for so many years.  I believe his exact words were, “She needs to know how happy we are to see her and that this is still her home.”  He knew the pain and stigma of divorce and never lost his compassion for others in that situation.

We should all follow his example.

Cranky Bitch

February 8, 2011

That would be me.

Or certainly me in the last few days.  This is how I get when something is bothering me and I either don’t feel I understand the nature of it or I don’t know what to do about it.  And now that I’ve quit drinking it is that much harder to hide from the fact that I am indeed BOTHERED.

So I take the cowardly, lazy path of bitchiness which no one sees as clearly as my children.  And then I feel miserable and guilty and get, generally, back on the path of DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

I was terribly cranky and impatient today and my kids’ behavior reflected that.  Fun.  Fun, fun, fun.  But in spite of that, the day still ended with me kissing and hugging them goodnight and soon after listening to their sleeping breaths.  After that I crawled into a hot bath with a book and tried to reboot my psychological state.  As I enjoyed these final moments of the day, I remembered how I began it.  At 6am I was awakened by a perky 5 year old girl who climbed into my dark bed and cuddled and giggled with me until my alarm went off.

I would like to say I forgot all about why I was cranky.  Nah.  But I did realize how lucky I am and how, ultimately, I have everything I need to get through what is on my mind.  And now I am going to go to bed early and try to remember that when I awake.

I Heart Nora Ephron

February 5, 2011

I sometimes get the idea that loving Nora Ephron’s work is, well, less than chic.  Kind of a silly thought of mine when it is far more important that people are allowed to love and marry their partners in life and have all the appropriate legal rights and protections associated with the institution of marriage in this country.

Don’t you love it when I open with a tangent?

Anyway, I love Nora Ephron and still think When Harry Met Sally is one of the most brilliant romantic comedies ever.

I have read all her essay collections and now have I Remember Nothing in my hot little hands.  Her voice is the perfect combination of confident, witty, neurotic, arrogant and self-deprecating that I can only describe as… Believable.

Since she will certainly sell many copies of this volume, I’ll shamelessly encourage you to go to the nearest bookstore, pick up a copy of I Remember Nothing, and read the essay entitled “The Legend”.  Because that story is the most succinct and delightful depiction of the complexity of a daughter’s love for her mother I have ever read.

I love you, Nora Ephron.


(PS – I’ve now finished reading the whole collection.  Just pick up the book and read that one essay and put it back on the shelf.  It goes way down hill from there.)