Day to day

Like Sands Through The Hourglass…

There are some memories from childhood that are so clear and precise they seem like movies to me.  My childhood is so ingrained with Dub’s that sometimes I am unclear whether it is a memory of something that happened to me or something that is her event but I was there, it’s like a woven blanket of our childhood, the yarns unravelable and multi-colored.

Such it is with the loss of the two front teeth. I can see our classroom clearly, I know where we were sitting at our desks together. I can see the front of the room with the little sink and mirror in the right corner of the room nearest the windows of the basement in the church where our school was held. The windows looking out, if you can say basement windows look out, on a green area with a creek and a tree. That tree was our imagination land for years. It was our home, our tower, our castle, our roller coaster…it was everything.

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I can see Heather and I getting up from our desk in the middle of the room and going to the sink to check our loose front teeth twenty times a day. Twisting them around, feeling the metallic taste of tiny drops of blood as we wiggled them back and forth, that one last string holding on as those teeth stubbornly dangled like shutters in a storm. Leaning close to that safety mirror, wrinkling our noses, squinting as we worked squeamishly on those teeth.

Then one of us, maybe both of us, lost one. Right there in the classroom over the sink. So exciting, so weird. I remember us looking at each other so excited talking about how the Tooth Fairy brings more for front teeth.

On my death bed I will be able to recall this. And I wonder, will Max always remember sitting on our stairs as we all screamed with joy and freaking out as he twisted his tooth around. When I touched it and told him Oh that will come right out if you pull it and how without even a tug suddenly his big front tooth seemed so tiny in the palm of his hand.

Front tooth lost, one more giant childhood milestone passed.


Somehow we keep growing, keep moving forward, even if sometimes we wish we could rewind and re-live.

Thank God for memories.

{ETA We will all remember how the next day at Huck’s fourth birthday party the lone front tooth turned sideways, flipping this way and that causing squeals and eeks from every one until it popped out right as we got in the car to go home.}

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This is what I get when I say, give me a cute smile so we can see your teeth….boys.

Quit telling me it’s not cool I’m happy for summer…and having my kids home.

These three are ten kinds of crazy and I like it. 


I get it, it’s cool now to be snarky about kids, about how HARD they are to raise (they are) and how they get in the way of all the fun. I also get that summer is like serious parent boot camp without school to distract them, engage them, entertain them,  and you know; care for them.

This week I got not one, not two, but three emails from sites touting articles  how people like me,  people who are happy about summer and having the kids around, are just ruining it for everyone else.  In fact, these sites inform me we simply can’t be friends, I’m clearly “deranged”,  “unstable” and obviously “weird”.

Now, I am not saying those descriptions don’t apply to me, I mean I live with my mother- in-law and like it.  I’m not a moron, I know these articles and posts are primarily tongue in cheek, and I am certain that despite years doing sketch, stand up and physical comedy I will be told I need a sense of humor, but you know what? I think these articles kinda suck. I don’t mean the actual moms who write them suck. I’m certain they are good moms and hey, we ALL need a break. There is no shame in that game. But no matter how humorous these takes may be, we are still putting out there in the world that children are inherently assholes to be endured and not tiny rad people to be shaped and enjoyed.

No, I don’t plan to spend every waking moment catering to their every whim. “Go play outside” will be said at least once every day. There will be trips to the pool sure, but there I get to talk to my friends while they jump in and out of the water and we all play with the baby. There will be fort building,and  chasing after the ice cream truck, and reading time and coloring time and staying up late for outdoor movie time. There will be friends invited over to play, so many of my fun memories of summer don’t even feature my mom, she invited my friends over and let us loose within the safety of our home and backyard, and we had a blast! We have them little for such a short while, I’m going to enjoy it and even grin and bear it when Huck says “Play play doh with me” for the 90 millionth time (I  hate play doh but I love Huck), I’ll put a blanket out in the yard while the kids swing and I’ll read a book while they dig in the sandbox.

I may escape for a nice bath or a girls night out. Parents need kid-free moments just as much as kids need parent free moments. But I won’t put it out there that hanging out with these people is torture…because it isn’t.

The whole negative attitude smacks of junior high when suddenly to be cool you have to not only not like anything, but mock anyone who does dare to say they do like something.  I’m over that. Been there, done that, lived through it, not interested in repeating it.

And if you think I don’t have sense of humor, how do we think the kids will feel when they read these posts? We live in a world where we tell them ALL the time that once something is on the internet it will be there forever, and yet here we are putting it out there for them to future google saying they’re jerks, we don’t care to hang out with them. I’m not speaking of expressing our need for a break, or how we are struggling with parenting or with our child specifically. That is LIFE and that can humanize us to our children, but to blanket say “Hey! you who are excited about having your kids home for summer? We can’t be friends because this sounds like hell to me!” that-although good click bait and SEO, well…that kind of attitude sucks. And I can’t imagine what I would feel like if I read an article for God and all to see on the internet saying my mom thought being with me was a prison sentence.

And those of us who are happy about having our kids around, maybe we don’t want to be your friend anyway. So there.

I’ll see your junior high attitude and raise you to elementary.


Enjoy your summer, I know me and my kids will.

Little Windows



He does his best sharing with me right before he sleeps. At almost seven, his days are spent being big, strong…brave. Everything between even the best of friends is a competition. Who is the tallest, fastest, the best counter to one hundred. Every second of his day is graded by increments of achievement, even though we the parents encourage the growth rather than the goal. It takes a while to shed this skin of bigness, it takes coming home, relaxing, bathing, and finally being tucked into bed and suddenly, again, he is little. Well, not really little but smaller. Released from competition he snuggles up next to me, places his forehead right against mine.


It is this time of day that is my favorite with him, it is this time of day he spills out all the stories he has to tell.


This evening his eyes grow cloudy in the dim light of the baseball night light illuminating our cocoon. I remember when he was born thinking I had never seen eyes that color, eyes that are truly cerulean blue. Once walking through an art gallery with him when he was tiny a woman stopped me to tell me what beautiful eyes she had. When I told her he was a boy, she said shaking her head what a shame. I thought that was a silly thing to say, as if beautiful eyes were wasted on a boy.


He furrows his brow, the smattering new spring freckles spattered across his nose barely visible and whispers, “I have something to tell you.” He is very serious and I prepare myself. There have been troubles at school with a boy in his class. Last week he tackled my son to the ground twice telling him he wanted him to stop breathing, and later that he wanted him to die. We’ve been talking about ways he can stand up for himself without making the situation worse and my heart aches that kindergartners can cross the line from play to cruelty so easily.


He takes a deep breath, ready to talk after a long  pause. “I don’t know how to tell you this. I don’t want to hurt your and grandma’s feelings.” I reassure him that he can tell me anything and remind him that if he feels he can’t tell me or someone says he shouldn’t tell me, those are the most important things to share. Then I reassure him that grandma and I are grown ups. That it is very sweet that he wants to protect our feelings but that is not his job. Our job is to protect him, not the other way around. While I am saying these words, whispering in the half dark, my mind is racing. What on EARTH could he be about to say. Finally, he is convinced I won’t be mad and I promise I will tell grandma for him. That’s my job, I say and kiss his still sun warmed forehead.


“I am just over the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. You and grandma always buy me turtle stuff and I am over them, but I don’t want to hurt your feelings. I know you buy it for me cause you love me and think I love them, but I don’t anymore.”


It’s hard not to laugh one of those oh that is the sweetest thing laughs, but I don’t because he will think I am laughing at him, another newly introduced concept thanks to this boy at school. “Oh honey!” I say “I am so glad you told me that. You’re right we do get it for you because you liked it. But it’s good you’re growing up and moving on to new interests! Never be afraid to tell us who you are right now! Grandma and I love YOU no matter what you like! ”

Such a small thing to me, such a large worry for him. We spent the rest of bedtime chatting about his new interests and what he likes now. I am not sure how to make sure we always have these little windows of time where we can talk like this, I know as he grows older and more independent the opportunities will shrink, at least for a while. But for now I am grateful to lay forehead to forehead and stare into those beautiful blue eyes as he quizzes me on all the names of the Skylanders.

I’m doing pretty good so far.

My Happiness Project


I finally finished slogging through We, The Drowned. Dang it was good…but for some reason it took me ages to finish reading it. At one point I actually had to look up how many pages it was (I was reading on Oyster) and it was only 700. I would have guessed it was twice that, easy! Whew. So If you’re looking for an opus to read, check it out. It’s wonderful but takes a  while!

So anyway, I finished it and decided that I needed a book that was light, what I call a ‘palate cleanser’ book.  I saw Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project and clicked on it. I read the first chapter and just felt…inspired? Encouraged? I am not sure but I immediately texted my husband and sister and was like you guys need to be reading this with me. 

I love how she weaves research into her stories as lightly as she is saying “may I have an aperitif?” And I was stunned at how quickly applicable it was.

Mornings here can be rough. Huckie is a hangry little thing in the a.m. he needs to be hugged right now and also milk right now and don’t leave me right now but get me cereal right now. Add a baby who needs to be held and a kindergartener that needs to get to school and it can be a recipe for frustration and yelling. I hate that. I hate starting the day like that.

Max was crawling on the kitchen counter, then to a chair at the table, then to another chair then to railing… I let out an exasperated heavy sigh and he immediately looked at me, eyes wide, ready to get in trouble.
I told him to stop.  But that look stayed with me.

A few minutes more he repeated the pattern. I caught him looking at me, knowing what was to come once he was standing on the kitchen table chair.  A lesson from the book popped into my head and instead of yelling I said “Trying to get to the playroom without touching the ground?” “yes” he said.

“when I was little, about your age, the carpet in my house was RED. Can you imagine?”  he couldn’t because who picks red carpet??  “Auntie Dub and I used to pretend that the carpet was hot lava and try to get all over the house without touching the ground. We actually used to lay out clothes and toys we could step on to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night. ”

His eyes lit up with delight at the image of his mom and aunt his age and doing the same thing…only more elaborately.

“It used to drive my mom CRAZY! She just didn’t understand that the carpet was lava and we couldn’t step on it!”

We both started laughing and it just changed the whole tone of the morning. Instead of being angry he was doing something that- let’s be honest- isn’t really that big of a deal, we found a common ground and we both ended up happier.

Instead of heading off to school grumpy, we ended up closer. And no kitchen chairs were injured in the making of the moment.

I don’t know about you but I would rather laugh than yell. So I am calling day one of my happiness project a massive success.

“Don’t let’s never do that again.”*

Before I had children I had a cat. I can admit it now, I may have been a little weird about my cat. Like, okay I was totally weird about my cat. But you guys, this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill chat blanc. This was the world’s most elegant, softest, sweetest, most emotionally broken Blanche DuBois of a cat that ever lived.

And I loved her madly and she died tragically. I’m still not over it.

2 years and a few months after her untimely and traumatic demise, her negative copy arrived tiny and malnourished on our doorstep. Black where she was white, white where she was black, with a smidgen of white in the sea of black on his back just as she had a smidgen of black in the sea of her white, boy where she was girls…they were reverse twins. He and I promptly fell madly in love, and Max was not too be parted from him. He was eventually dubbed The Great Catsby, because we are a humble folk, and love was lavished upon him.

He is a snuggler, a lover, a cuddler and oh my, an eater. Catsby never misses brunch (he sleeps in of course), second brunch or dinner. He comes when he is called by his given name and  even by the 20 or so nicnames he has been christened with. (And by christened I really mean sprayed with the water bottle while I screech “don’t claw the furniture STINKPOT!”

He missed dinner. On Friday. I called his name. I made the irresistible kissy noise. I opened tuna.


I checked all the haunts…calling all the while, beginning to panic when he didn’t arrive expectant that food would be placed before him. Nothing. Saturday, nothing…nothing except rain and thunderstorms. Cats LOVE those, right?

I really began to worry. I cried. I relived my Minky’s last night, one I’ve always regretted and wondered if Catsby ran away because I kicked him out of bed because he won’t let me sleep. Sunday. Nothing. No Catsby. I embarrass myself in front of innumerable neighbors mowing lawns and planting flowers as I walk the street checking drains and calling his name and kissing the air. Begging God that I find him. I’m not ready to lose another cat, this one is so sweet and we always joke that  Minky sent him to me, to us. (side note my husband won my heart on our first Valentine’s day by bringing my cat a present. See? I was weird about that cat. Luckily my husband is weird about me.) Monday I commence all the things you do when you’ve lost a furry someone you adore, I check the shelters I list him on every local lost pet Facebook page, I have a lovely talk with the woman at the shelter and we begin emailing, she tells me she will keep a special eye out for a sweet, shy tuxedo cat with slight hair loss on his back side.  His butt may be bald, but I love that damn cat butt and I want it BACK! I say and she laughs and says she’s going to go check herself.

Monday night and he still isn’t home, I’m beginning to lose hope. I cuddle with Max and as his breathing slows and he falls asleep I begin to pray. Please God, please bring Catsby home. We love him so much and we miss him terribly. Sometime later I drift off to sleep and wake to my mother in law shaking me awake, then she hands me a very puffed up yet noticeably thinner black cat.

“I found Catsby!” she excitedly whispers in the dark. I am reminded of how he came to be with us, showing up in the middle of a rainy night and how my mother in law came to me and said “Stephanie there’s a kitten outside and I can’t get him!” together we coaxed him into our arms and brought him to the warmth and love of our home.

I grabbed him and held him close, wrapping him in my blanket, he pushed his little body as close to mine as he could, he was scared. He was happy to be home. I held him and as I fell asleep, I whispered “thank you” to God for the answered prayer and reminded myself to email the lady at the shelter and let her know he was home.

The next day Catsby was Great again, and he kept looking at me with wise look as if to say “someday I will tell you the tale, but first how about some more tuna and cuddles?”11127661_10152636750130876_92088929926159366_n


*Title courtesy of Huck and the lecture he gave Sir Catsbus in the morning upon finding him returned.

A Bruce by any other name…




IMG_2838WMWe guard what in particular, my oldest son, watches on tv. We’ve recently had to put limits on even the Today Show, when you have a child who has anxiety you never know what might trigger an attack, and sometimes it’s the most unthought of things that can set your child into terror.

But sometimes they still hear something, and sometimes it’s good. And sometimes they teach us-well, me- something great.

The recaps for the Bruce Jenner interview were all over and he happened to key in to one of them, paying close attention. Then he had some questions. I have never, nor will never, discourage any questions about gender, sex, behaviors etc. So when he asked what was happening to Bruce Jenner, I surprised myself by finding it pretty easy to explain to a child. Obviously this was a simplified explanation, but age appropriate.

“well, what are you on the outside?’

“a boy.”

” And what do you feel like on the inside?”

“A boy!”

“Well, sometimes people are born a boy on the outside but are a girl on the inside. Or they are born a girl on the outside but are a boy on the inside.”

Without missing a beat he said  “Oh. That must be hard! Probably easier just to change the outside. The inside is what makes you you!”

We teach our children from an early age to be kind, to be patient, to understand other’s differences. Then we grow up and make it complicated and frequently cruel with judgement.  It was so simple to him…just go ahead and be a girl. It’s okay. Be who you are…girl on the inside? Well, then you should be a girl on the outside! So easy for his logic.

Thank you Bruce for sharing this with us, with our children. You said you wanted to save lives…that is was funny it was YOU of all people to deal with this. The absolute symbol of male physical perfection and accomplishment. But I see the clear hand of God in this.   You ARE going to save lives and change minds.  The ease at which the little ones grasp this concept is proof.

Thanks Bruce.

And thanks Max, for breaking it down.

On my worst days…

I think I have settled on Huck’s 4th birthday party theme and it’s Looks Like We Made It.


I’m kidding of course. Mostly because they don’t sell paper plates with that on it, and also Huck is rather insistent that it’s going to be a Paw Patrol Party no matter how often I point out that the Mayor is crazy weird about her chicken…but truly you guys, I think we might make it!  Slowly but surely the sweet little Huck is conquering the threenager! There are more smiles than tantrums and my little love is more and more himself. Good times. And thank God because, if I am being honest I worry that I am not a very good mother for and to him. I can’t seem to find his currency to help him. No discipline works, he hits me, kicks me and is basically just freaking three to the extreme. Then two minutes later he wants to cuddle and I have emotional whiplash. Time out! No, wait cuddle! I start the day very patiently saying “I know you’re upset but I can’t allow you to hit people.” and by 5 p.m. I’ve poured a Malibu and diet coke (cause I’m classy) and I’m like “I’mma smack you back!” all extra Southern-like and he just laughs cause between you, me, and BeyMax we all know I’m never gonna smack him and most of all he knows it.

I’m struggling and I know it’s harder because I am so freaking tired.

The other day we were driving to school and Max saw a man with his hand out the window, cigarette smoke trailing upward. “Hey mom! Isn’t that the Mad Men logo?” he said. Just make sure you spell my name right on that parenting award.

The other day I said “please don’t lick your sister” and “get your junk off your brother’s head!” no less than 25 times.  That’s S-T-E-P-H-A-N-I-E.

Right now they are laying on the floor half-watching Ghostbusters 2 while I watch Game of Thrones. They are super grumpy with me cause I was horrible mom today who took them to the bounce house with friends and then a play date. Why are they so angry with me when we did nothing but have fun ALL day??? Worst mom ever. Last name  D-U-L-L-I.

So go ahead kids, watch a little tv while I make some mac n cheese. (Don’t worry, internet, it’s organic Amy’s, I’m not a total monster.) ( I’m going to feed them that organic goodness as soon as they finish their red dye filled popsicles.)

But then I think of Sally Draper wearing the dry cleaning bag and being told she’ll be in a lot of trouble if the clothes are on the floor and I think well, at least on my worst day I’m still a better mother than Betty Draper.


Five things that prove kids attention spans are just fine.

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We’ve heard it since we were kids. “Kid’s have such short attention spans these days!” and I suppose it’s true. Kid’s do, partially because things happen faster these days and partially cause they are, you know, kids.

But lest you worry that your kids will have the span of a fruit fly I want to reassure you with 5 things that prove kids attention spans are just fine.

1. Take a hot shower. Go ahead, try it. Say you have reached that third day of no shower as moms sometimes do, and the kids have snacks and seem interested in an interminable episode of Dino Dan so you think I’ll just sneak of for a quick shower! Mere moments after the hot water hits your skin you will hear them at the door Bang! Bang! Mommy! MOMMYMOMMYMOMMYMOMMY! And they will keep at it as long as you are in there. Now, don’t make the rookie move and get right out to attend to them. No, no. As long as they are banging on the door you know right where they are and what they are up too, this means they are safe. So listen young Padawan, now is the time to practice your mom ninja skills! With concentration the constant banging and mommymommymommy can be as relaxing as an Enya CD.

2. Food Struggles. I am not a member of the clean your plate club. Personally I believe that kids should be able to know when they are hungry and eat or not and don’t. So if my little ones only have a bit at dinner or scarf the whole plate- that’s fine with me! Plus sometimes kids just live on air. However there does a come a time, after several days of your toddler living on 4 goldfish crackers and half a sippie cup of milk when you have to insist that they eat something. Anything. A cheese stick. A Go-gurt. A slice of pizza, just ANYTHING. Because no one is hangry like a hangry toddler. (except possibly my husband, but that’s another blog post) So you insist they eat, they are going to sit at the table until they eat whatever it is. And they will, with single minded dogged determination refuse to eat that cheese stick. For an hour. Maybe two. No tv, no book, no distraction. They will just sit there refusing. Until you win. Because moms always win.

3. Bedtime avoidance. Sleep is so awesome, why do kids hate it so? I love sleep. We should all sleep. But little ones just want to be awake and nothing will make a kid slow down and pay close attention to a book than knowing that there is just one more until we turn out the lights and go to sleep. Personally I love this tactic of theirs…unless it’s Thursday and Scandal is on. Or Sunday and Downton or Walking Dead is on. But other than those two evenings, I love this. Because babies grow so fast, the time they want to snuggle and read the Tawny Scrawny Lion just one more time is fleeting. So snuggle down little one. I’ve got time and I know this book by heart, which means I can stare at your beautiful lashes slow blinking as you try to fight the inevitable.

4. Toy Search. 90% percent of the mess making in our house is taking out 500 toys just to find the one that they really want. And while this does create work for me (and them as they get older and we work on them cleaning up more and more after themselves) they can focus like no one’s business on finding that exact right Lightning McQueen or guitar or whatever it is. And we have 5 million Lightning McQueens, trust me. The focus on finding said toy is intense and singular, and they will take as long as needs be to find that one specific toy.

5. Three words: Disney Toy Collector. I am not sure what magical hold this woman possesses over our children. Really is watching neatly manicured hands opening toys while a slightly cloying voice narrates every move THAT interesting? Apparently the answer is yes. I am quite certain that at some point she will speak some trigger word or phrase and activate all our young to serve in her kid army obeying her as their Supreme Overload. Plus she made like 5 million bucks opening toys on youtube so eff her. The only time her voice will not keep your children glued to the seat is in the event you do sneak off to try #1, a hot shower.

But never fear, as they bang on the door and you take your time to shave your legs, think that you really are teaching your children that patience and perseverance will eventually pay off. As in eventually you’ll get out of the shower and put Disney Toy Collector back on their iPads.


My girl…


I worry about having a daughter. When Zach and I first got married I was emphatic that we only have sons…as if I had control over that. I couldn’t handle a daughter. Not only was I myself a difficult and troubled teen and I can’t imagine how my mother survived -we still bear relationship scars from this time- but I couldn’t imagine surviving should I have a daughter who was as messed up as I was.

Adding to that was remembering how hard and sad and scary a time I had growing up, and certainly I perpetuated some of it. A cycle I didn’t realize I was in and unable to stop. Mean girls can target the weak in the herd quickly and I pretty much carried a big old sign that said “WEAK”.

And in a particularly pathetic mindset; I worried I would be jealous. I always wanted a father, and I worried that I would be jealous of any attention my husband showed my daughter (I am not proud of this thought process, thank you) and jealous of her that she grew up with what I didn’t have. Worried I would resent her.

But after two sons I grew up a bit more, realized that having a girl would not only NOT be the worst thing in the world, it might be the greatest addition our family could ask for. So we tried. Nothing happened. We decided two babies were perfect and so we let it go. The next month I was pregnant and I just knew it was a girl! Now she is six months old and I cannot remember feeling any of those ways. I can’t feel any way other than happy she breathes.

I worry of course, about my girl. I whisper in her ear all the time, sweet nothings but also words of strength. She is beautiful. She is STRONG! She is smart…and specifics…she is so good at tracking objects, so good at sitting up! Doing such a good job of figuring out this eating solids thing. I tell her every day with her is a treasure. I tell her that her smile lights the stars for me.

I whisper these things as if they are a prayer. Somehow they will safeguard her against mean girls, against body image issues, against eating disorders and choosing the wrong boys. That she will not cut her beautiful skin. I say them wishing they will protect her from self-hatred. I say them as if they will make her strong, with a healthy ego and self esteem, as if they will protect her from being, well, being like me. I say these prayers while kissing her and listening to the joyous giggle and squawk of babyhood. I breathe in her soft scent and nuzzle her belly and tell her she is perfect exactly as she is. Hoping that somehow she will know this is true. That she won’t be torn down.

That she will make it through unscathed. Somehow.




Three is




Three is a whiplash whirlwind. Three is fitting perfectly against my side and resting his small head in the crook of my neck. Three is hair quickly changing from angel fluff to real boy. Three is little arms losing their baby chub wrapping tightly around my leg. Three is I love you mommy don’t sing, NO MOMMY NO SINGING! Three is tiptoeing through a minefield tensely waiting for the next explosion, knowing it will come when you least expect it.

Three is frustration. Three screams for no reason. Three slaps and kicks and pulls hair. Three sometimes thinks that slapping, kicking and pulling hair are hilarious. Three spontaneously holds hands, climbs into laps and offers kisses. Three manipulates, controls, rewards and punishes. Three is possibly an abusive relationship that I cant, and don’t want to, escape.

Three is wild. Three is creative and independant and three needs his mommy right this instant and don’t you dare even go to the bathroom with out him again! Three needs stability and four books at night. Three needs Grer Bear tucked in bed next to him to cuddle at night.

Three makes grand declarations in half baby-half adult language. Three notices everything. Three can hear a candy wrapper being sneakily opened two rooms away.

Three is inspiring. Three is wonderful and terrible. Three is the sweetest words I love you mommy in an even sweeter voice. Three is exhausting.

And as of today, THREE is half over.

Thank God.

And also, can I slow down time? Because three is going too fast.