27 December 2012

A Little Something to Think About

Imagine what the world would be like if all of the thinkers, artists, creators, musicians, writers, poets, scientists, inventors and innovators who are currently spending their time and energy raising children, working 9-5 to pay the bills, cleaning the house, doing the laundry, driving freeways during rush hours, making meals, and finding socks for other people were instead spending their time creating wonderful, beautiful, life-transforming things for the rest of us.

...if the next great novel is trapped inside a guy who has to sit in a toll booth 8 hours a day.

...if the next great medical breakthrough is stuck inside the brain of a young woman who is working full time and still can't afford to go to medical school.

...if the most beautiful painting you've ever seen is hiding inside the fingers of a mom who uses those fingers to fold laundry instead.

I saw a photo on Facebook the other day of a coffee bug emblazoned with the words ART BEFORE HOUSEWORK on it.

I'd have to get up pretty early in the morning to put Art before Housework, and Work-work, and other people's homework, and food-work, and childrearing-work.  I don't get enough sleep as it is.

No answers here.  Just random ponderings.  And a wish or two that I could live just a little bit more ART BEFORE HOUSEWORK.

* * *

11 December 2012

You know you have a big family when...

...you are flooded with relief and gratitude by the realization that you no longer have to open a car door or fasten a seatbelt for anyone -- besides yourself.

* * *

06 December 2012

Pay Attention

"The greatest invention in the world is the mind of a child." 
-- Thomas A. Edison --
* * *

I found this video on the internet today.  Everyone with a child should watch it.  Actually, everyone with a brain should watch it.

Yes, that means you.


Just one of the brilliant nuggets:  The connections we pay most attention to will be strengthened while the ones we use less will be pruned.

* * *

01 December 2012

Welcome the Wild

It's a dark and stormy night.

These nights deliver my favorite sound, right to my doorstep.  Well, to my rooftop, actually.  When I was a child, my attic bedroom was a symphony on rainy nights, with a rushing creek right outside the window.  Now that sound of rain on the roof tells me that mine was a good childhood because whenever I hear it I feel safe and happy.

The bittersweet thing about rainy nights is that they really mess up our garden, which means lots of yard work is in our future.  That would the royal "our," since I don't actually do most of that work, but suffice to say, bad weather means someone around here has to work his backside off to clean everything up.

Today, I was sitting at an uncharacteristically clean table, making some notes about things I need to do, and I drew the curtain back to look out over the garden.  The rain was pouring out of the sky and the wind was mixing up the entire yard.  It was beautiful -- rainy, sloppy, slipping into mayhem -- but also wild and living.  On my to do list, I wrote:
Messy, soggy, damp and weedy,
Leaves and apples sinking deeper,
Rain and wind churn the earth,
Roiling matter and wreaking havoc,
Havoc where we once placed order, or tried to.  
One some other sunny day, we shall unpack the gift of righting it once more.

Some other day, but not today.  Today, I just took a deep breath and watched the wild outside my window.  It didn't occur to me then, but when I think about it now, still listening to rain at my windows and watching my garden go to hell in a hand basket, I remember this quote from Michael Pollan, which I've written about before:  "Relations are what matter most, and the health of the cultivated turns on the health of the wild."  

That seems to be the key to a happy life, a happy home life.  Somehow, we're supposed to keep right on cultivating the spaces around us and welcome the wildness that keeps it all healthy and vibrant, even while thwarting it.  

Now if I can find a way to see this same little nugget of truth in my laundry pile, there will be no stopping me.

* * *

16 November 2012

Let's Stop Kidding Ourselves

My son's entire school went to see the movie Bully this morning.  I highly recommend that you do two things: the first, which I did, is go see it.  The second, which I did not, is bring kleenex.

When it comes to bullying, adults are letting kids down in this country.  We are giving ineffectual advice to victims and kidding ourselves that "this too shall pass."  Kids and families need and deserve more than wishful thinking and crossed fingers; they need their suffering to stop.

I don't know what the answer is.  The first step, as in all such things, is awareness, so please, please see this movie.  Get your school or district to sponsor a screening.  Promote it on your social networks and blogs.  Get it out there.  Let people see what is happening in our schools and communities.

This movie is not the answer; a whole lot of people have to be made very uncomfortable and highly inconvenienced before we have an answer.  Adults need to pull their heads from their nether regions and do something hard, meaningful, practical and real to stop kids from hurting other kids.  This movie is only a place to start, but we need that place badly.

* * *

06 November 2012

I Get It Now

I was 11 years old during the 1980 presidential election. My family went to an Election Night party, which I thought was great fun, until I saw -- and was utterly confused by -- adults crying over the result. It was a revelation then that grown up people could get emotional over something like an election.

I get it now. I'm spending the day listening to non-stop no-news and choking back tears. I'm hoping for tears of joy instead of the despair my parents' friends felt all those years ago.

* * *

02 November 2012

Fun With Water Feature

We came across this picture last night as the girls and I were watching family slide shows.  I snapped this shot one lovely warm summer day; the artistry is Lady E's.

I love it.  It makes me smile.  I hope it does the same for you.

* * *

And that is all for today, a day of deadlines and dashes.

* * *

01 November 2012

Beyond Me

She has done it again.

* * *

It would be hard for me to convey the contempt with which my oldest child treats my fourth born.   It is certainly hard for me to witness how hard he is on her, how hard all four of them are on her, actually.  She is the one: the one who bears the brunt of the mistreatment around here.

And I've said it many times: it's a good thing it's her.  She handles it, almost always, with a detachment, a confidence, and a degree of spunk that means she thrives in spite of it.

That alone would make her a marvel.  But then, she does things that just leave me speechless.

This week, her oldest sibling is away on a school trip, an annual pilgrimage of our school's 8th grade class.  The trip meant missing Halloween.  Yes, he's 14, but he's got a sweet tooth the size of the Empire State building, and he would knock on Mitt Romney's door, if he thought he'd get some candy out of the deal.  So missing Halloween was damn near devastating for him.

Today, when we got home from school, I told the littles (the 6 and 8 year olds are home with me while everyone else is out) that since tomorrow is a holiday at school (WTH is up with that?), they could watch a movie after they did a little clean up.  During the clean up, I told Lady E to put her halloween candy bag away.  Here is what she said to me:

"But I was going to go through my candy bag and add to Sam's!"

Me:  "What do you mean, Sam's bag?"

She walked me over to Sam's door and pointed to his pillow.  Resting on it was a red cloth bag, patterned in skulls, clearly full of candy.

Me: "Did you make that bag for Sam?"

Lady E: "Yes!  And I was going to go through the rest of my candy while I'm watching the movie, and pick out more candy for him.  Can I leave my bag out so I can do that?"

Um.  Yes.  Yes, you can do that.   Why on earth you want to is beyond me.  How you thought of doing that in the first place is beyond me.  Why you want to be so generous and thoughtful to a big brother who is even meaner to you than mine was is beyond me.  Your goodness is beyond me.

Seriously, people, that kid is good to the core.  She screams and fights sometimes, she complains and sulks, and sometimes makes me want to slice off my own ears.  But then, she completely, totally, utterly restores my faith in all of humanity.

Given that I am a cynic, this is no easy task, and she accomplishes it with a simplicity and grace I am left to pray for.

She came into the world with that spirit, that charism.  Good to know that I officially don't have to worry about her ever again.

* * *

10 October 2012

Dump the Unhappy!

I am delighted to help this video receive the widest viewership possible.

Visit The Real Bears, watch what soda really does to those super cute polar bears, and then share the video widely, on your blog, via email, and with your Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn networks.  Or, just TELL someone about it!  Radical!

* * *

08 October 2012

A Little Perspective

This is how you know your kids are over-exposed to public radio.

V: "Mom, this dinner would be a lot better if you didn't include the chicken."


V: "With a perspective, I'm Vincenzo Alatorre."

* * *

This probably only makes sense to Bay Area readers.  Trust me, it means I've successfully indoctrinated him. 

* * *

04 October 2012

Remember the Butts, Mom?

When my oldest was small, probably around 3 or 4, we were at the family pub one afternoon, enjoying some live music and cold beverages.

There was a sign next to a planter box on the patio that said: "Please, no cigarette butts."

My little guy interpreted this to mean: "Please, no cigarette idiots may hang out here."

So when he saw a man smoking on the patio, he said: "Mommy, that cigarette butt isn't supposed to be smoking out here!"

* * *

He's fourteen now, and just reminded me of this story last night.  I had forgotten it.

And that is how I came to chuckle and smile on a day that was otherwise filled with a broken washing machine, a flooded garage, mountains of laundry, too much homework, too much chore-resistance, not nearly enough time, and a house strewn with debris from our kitchen garbage can, spread liberally about by a dog who apparently needs more exercise.

* * *

Take those moments where you find them, friends.

* * *

03 October 2012


Until about 20 minutes ago, I was not one of the millions of people around the world who had already seen this TED talk from 2006 by Sir Ken Robinson.  Now, thankfully, gratefully, I am.

I want to start each day with Sir Ken's ideas on my mind and in my heart, in the words I speak to my family and in the words I reserve for myself.

Join the millions: watch this TED talk.

* * *

02 October 2012

Meep Meep!

One sibling's obervation:

"Mom, if you think about it, Little T is kind of like the Roadrunner, and the rest of us in the family are Wile E. Coyote."

It's true: after a battle of wills, I often feel as if I've been smacked with an Acme anvil.

Image source: http://tinyurl.com/9bux784 

Prayers accepted.

* * *

29 September 2012

How Adolescents Learn Stuff

An actual conversation in my car yesterday:

Mom, I know how to ride a bicycle down a staircase.

Really?  How'd you learn to do that?

By doing really stupid, not smart, dangerous things.


That's how I learn most of my stuff, actually.

* * *

Sarah-Jayne was right!  This truly is a time of creativity and learning!  Here's hoping he lives long enough to benefit from all that creativity and learning.

* * *

28 September 2012

7 Quick Takes, Volume 57

7 things to make you laugh, think, and smile.  Visit the original.  Visit some others.  Leave some comments.  7 quick comments.  That's your goal.

And now:


Great TAL show on education and what kids really need to be learning.


Notwithstanding the profanity, this pretty much sums up my life's philosophy.  Now, what's interesting, is that I see no conflict at all between this sentiment and my Catholic faith.  So I don't think I need to convert to the Church of the Latter Day Dude.  The RC's have got me covered.

source: I originally saw this on Facebook,
but traced its roots to this site: http://dudeism.com/


Today is dress like a book character/donate a book day at school.  Which had me making stops at Target and Barnes and Noble last night far past dinnertime, with all five kids, spending too much cash to buy books to donate to the school and outfits for Atticus Finch, Ivy (of Ivy and Bean), Sally (of The Cat in the Hat), and some character from Percy Jackson I can't remember the name of.

Now, just a week or so ago, I passed on school pictures because we couldn't afford it.  But give me a cause like promoting a love of reading in my own kids and donating new books to others, and I'll apparently spend all kinds of money I don't actually have.  My altruism is fervent, if not wise.

And anyway, those school picture packages are a total racket.


My 10 year old daughter recently got 12 inches of her hair cut off.  And we learned just how easy it is to donate to Locks of Love.

We were out of town, at a soccer game about an hour away, and she decided she wanted to get her hair cut.  Ping!  I thought: what about Locks of Love?  She said sure.

So, after the game I searched for a Supercuts on my Intermittently Smart Phone, found one a few blocks away, googled Locks of Love, discovered that anyone can cut your hair as long as they know ahead of time to pony-tail it and not let it hit the floor, and an hour later, we were back in our car with a Supercuts bag containing a 12 inch pony tail and SuperCute 10 year old sporting a big ole smile.

Just so ya' know, in case you happen to have 10+ inches of hair you aren't using, this was the easiest good thing to do ever.



For Locks of Love


I'm slipping, people.  Really, really slipping.  The other day, I took my 12 year old to Taco Bell.  While I do deserve some props for him getting to be 12 before Taco Bell fare ever passed his lips, I still feel, deeply, the Shame of Fast Food Consumer.

But it didn't stop there.  No, this morning, when I stopped for gas on the way to drop him at school, and because there wasn't much in the way of lunch food for him at the house, I actually assembled his lunch from a gas station convenience store.  Pa. Theh. Tic.

How do people who work full time manage to feed their children without compromising their ideals or dying of shame?  This is not a rhetorical question.  I need answers!


This is your teenager's brain.    This is your teenager's brain on plain old, developmentally normal hormones.  Watch and learn.

The Mysterious Workings of the Teenage Brain

This is all very interesting, but I have to admit, "synaptic pruning" scares the hell out of me.

Thank goodness the impressive Sarah-Jayne Blakemore also says this:  "This is a period of life where the brain is particularly adaptable and malleable.  It's a fantastic opportunity for learning and creativity.  So what's sometimes seen as the problem with adolescence--high risk taking, poor impulse control, self-consciousness--shouldn't be stigmatized.  It actually reflects changes in the brain that provide an excellent opportunity for education and social development."

Translation: no matter how many times my teenager loses his soccer ball, it's not too late!  YAY!


Do you yell at your kids too much?

Because I certainly do not, and I do not need this resource at all, but apparently, or so I've heard, there are parents out there who actually raise their voices sometimes (shocking!), and maybe perhaps could avail themselves of the concepts in this book.

Seriously, it's about so much more than not yelling.  It's about raising happy kids.  Even a non-yeller like me (font of serenity that I am) can use some help in that endeavor.  And you?

* * *

Happy Friday.  *Clink!*

* * * 

27 September 2012

Survival Tip #3

Do. Not. Take. The Bait.

* * *

Let this be your mantra, your motto, your philosophy, your pillow.

Let this be tattooed on your heart, your hands and the insides of your eyelids.

Let this be the change you wish to see in the world.

Whatever you do: don't take that bait, girlfriend.  It'll lead to a world of hurt.

* * *

26 September 2012

Survival Tip #2

Do not waste time on sentimentality.  Do not attempt to shield your young ones from distressing news.  
Give it to 'em straight.

* * *

Apply this tip to a variety of ages and situations.  A few examples:

When your littlest neeeeeeeeds her blanket, which happens to be in daddy's Volvo, not due to arrive for an hour and a half.

When your kid's teacher sends you an email with some distressing news on the academic front, and you must confront said kid with this information.

When Barcelona loses.

When there are no more cookies.

When someone didn't get a Jamba Juice and someone else did.

When you forgot to pack the sharing item of the week.

* * *

Think of it like ripping off a bandaid.  These things go much better quickly and painfully.  The alternative is only slowly and painfully.

* * *

Not that I'm learning this lesson one more time or anything.

* * *

17 September 2012

Survival Tip #1

I'm starting a new feature at AIRY5.

Mostly, I'm doing it because I seem to have lost the ability to blog of late (new full time job side effect, methinks), and I need a quick and breezy way to get back into it.

And this idea -- Survival Tips -- is perfect because that's the way I am parenting these days.  With that new full time job, four kids playing soccer, being a Team Manager, and various other volunteer responsibilities, I pretty much cling to survival tips.  I have no time to ponder the deep truths about teenagers, or preteen girls, or little folks just starting Kindergarten.  No time for broader implications or logical and well-thought out foundations for parenting strategies.  Give me something to get through the next 5 minutes...and then the next 5...and then the next...and I'll make it to bedtime.  Which is my primary goal, each and every day.

So without further ado, my first Survival Tip, this one for parents of teenagers:

Ignore the rampant narcissism.  
This too shall pass.  
I hope.

* * *

If that gets you to bedtime, then my work is done.

* * *

02 September 2012

More on the Dangers of Creativity

Lady E, using her captive Daddy's phone, just texted me this photo. I'm guessing Daddy is too tired to care what's going on around him. Or at his feet. Or on his feet.

27 August 2012

Absence Makes the Kid Grow Funnier

This past weekend, I traveled for work, and was gone from the crack o' early on Friday morning until very late on Sunday night.  I didn't see my babies for THREE WHOLE DAYS.

It was a big three days.

Four performances of Midsummer Nights Dream.
Two soccer games.
Dinners with extended family.
Swimming with cousins.

I missed quite a bit.

This afternoon, I picked up Little T from Kindergarten, and as we walked hand in hand to the car, she told me all about how ready she is for her very first soccer practice ever for her very own team.  She listed the things she collected this morning: cleats, shorts, shin guards.  Then she put her hands out in front of her, cocked her hip to one side and said: "Officially, all I need now is matching socks!"

It was adorable.  And it made me laugh.  I grabbed her and hugged her, and she said:

"I got funnier while you were gone."

It's true: she's hilarious.

Soccer practice is still three hours away.  Having wolfed down her lunch, she is now dressed, right down to shin guards, and is asking me every 2 minutes if it's time to go.  A sense of humor will come in handy this afternoon.

* * *

23 August 2012


I am a list maker.

I live and die by my lists.  I make them every morning, and use them like a religious zealot.  And while there are not many things about which I am obsessive or anal retentive, when it comes to my lists, I am both.  I need clean paper and good pens.  In a pinch, I'll go for a very sharp Ticonderoga pencil, but I'm bound to feel just a little resentment that I can't find one of my fine point pilots.  

I don't need much. Clean paper.  Good pens.

So when I sat down this morning to make my list, and found my nice new pad of yellow legal paper had been hijacked by a 5 year old, I was displeased.  Here is what I discovered:

And it went on and on and on.  Every.  Single.  Page.  Of a brand new yellow legal pad.  

Stupid creativity.  This is what happens when I don't let her watch TV.  I won't make THAT mistake twice.

* * *

*True confession: it was not that long ago that I had to turn to my teenager to find out what SMH means.  Here, for the also clueless among us, is the translation: Shaking My Head.

22 August 2012

A Cautionary Tale

If you let your 13 year old ride his bike to Target and pick out his own clothes, you might end up having a conversation you wished you hadn't when he excitedly comes home with this, enthusiastic as he is about the new bike grandma and poppa bought him for his birthday this year:

* * *

21 August 2012

A Good Reminder

In the kitchen, getting ready for the first day of school, we had many things to remember.

I told my 7 year old that I was going to need reminders to get them everything they needed.

She popped off: "Mom.  I'm not a reminder.  I'm a kid."

OK then.  I'll get no help from her.

* * *

19 August 2012

Little T Low Rider

We went to see The Odd Life of Timothy Green today.  It inspired the following:

That all by itself made the ticket price worth paying.

* * *

Because the Laundry is Still Stupid

I would like to write a blog post today.
I have a mountain of laundry taunting me from the garage.
Ergo, I cannot write a blog post today.

But I can, in honor of said laundry, post a rerun of a laundry inspired poem from two years ago.

Sonnet to my F***ing Laundry

How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways.
I hate thee to the depth and breadth and height
My arms can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of towels and underpants.
I hate thee to the level of my family’s
Most urgent need, all day and every night.
I hate thee freely, as boys toss their socks about.
I hate thee purely, as girls turn outfits into piles.
I hate thee with a passion put to use
In my former life, and with frightening strength.
I hate thee with a hate I hope to lose
When my small saints move out.
I hate thee with the breath,
Fibers, tears, of all my life!—and, so help me God,
I shall put this hate to use to conquer you.

* * *

More of my Poetry Spoofs here.

18 August 2012

One of These Things is Not Like the Other

A Little T tidbit for tonight:

I know they're all cute and smiling, but one of them is tricking you.

My other kids will tell you, about their youngest sibling, that she makes friends wherever she goes. It's true. Once, she went to the park for the afternoon and by the time she got home, I had an evite in my inbox, inviting her to the birthday party of a boy she had met that very same day.

This past week, she went with Rick to the local swimming pool for the afternoon, and quickly buddied up with a bunch of kids who were all there from the same YMCA camp. She splashed around, giggled and played, and pretty much stayed with these kids for the whole time. During one of the breaks from the pool, she went with these campers over to where their counselors were gathering everyone to give them some instructions. She sat with the YMCA kids. And one of the counselors commenced a head count.

Rick narrated the scene that followed. First counselor counted the group three times, and kept coming up with 1 extra kid. First counselor got a second one involved: same result. A third counselor joined in: same result. These poor suckers never did figure out why they kept coming up with a head count of one more than they should.

Finally giving up, the counselors broke the kids into groups to give them each some instructions. Little T sat in her group for awhile, until the counselor looked at her directly and gave her a job to do. She looked at him, arms akimbo, and said emphatically: "I'm not even IN your camp!"

Mystery solved for the poor confused YMCA camp counselors.

Rick watched the whole thing unfold without feeling the need to intervene at all. He just sat back and enjoyed the drama.

Is that mean? Maybe. Or maybe we don't get out much, and we grab entertainment wherever we find it!

* * *

16 August 2012

If I Ever Need A Reason To Love YouTube...

...these two clips will suffice.

Joss Whedon, of Avengers fame, takes on Birbiglia and Glass.

And then, Birbiglia and Glass get all up in Whedon's face.

How can you not love this?  I love this. "We should be nurturing corporate spectacle, like good Americans."

* * *

Sharing Something Awesome

I love NPR.

Really, I love everything about it: the news...the reporters...the weekend shows...the information...the entertainment...

Sadly, I harbor deep-seated jealously of people who work at NPR, because I'm sure they have more interesting lives than I do, and I'm pretty sure I could have been that interesting, had I known enough when I was younger to go into journalism or communications or some such field.  I did not.  Instead, in a not-clearly defined trajectory, I went into the baby-making field, and we all know how that turned out.  That turned out five people.

Anyway, back to the issue at hand.  Peter Sagal has written a short piece on the wonderful Ira Glass.  I think everyone should read it, so I am sharing a link to Peter's site.

Since you have just returned after going over there and reading it, I can refer to the This American Life segment on the carnival game guy, and you will know what I'm talking about.  That particular show has long been one of my favorites.  It's not about something extraordinary or life-changing.  It's just the best kind of profile: one that makes us care about the subject and expands our view of the world just a bit.  To know that there are people out there like that carnival game guy makes me feel better about the world.  Perhaps that sounds strange.  Doesn't matter.  Still true.

Thank you to Peter (can I be on your show, please?) and thank you to Ira (can I work for you, please?), for everything you do to contribute to American culture.  You both inspire me.

Currently, that inspiration is working its magic by helping me fold laundry without grumbling too much.  Small, but significant.

* * *

14 August 2012

On Gratitude

Life is too short to waste on bitterness.  Right?

Life is too short to do anything but be grateful, and I have much to be grateful for.

One wonderful husband.
Five beautiful kids.
A roof over our heads.
Soccer balls at our feet.


Hearts full of love and gratitude.

* * *

12 August 2012

A Tale of Two Willies

OK, so the answer to the question I posed in my morning post is that I wallowed and sniffled most of the day.  But my kitchen and living room are both clean, so the day is not a total loss.  I guess.

In my defense, I have a nasty cold today, so every time I tried to lift my self off of my pillow, I was soundly smacked back down by the pounding in my head.

While I was neither productive nor efficient, I survived, so that's a good thing.

And two Willies got me through the day.  I share those with you here.

The First Willie
My husband, in response to our FEMA level surroundings and our sound-barrier-breaking children, asked me today if we will ever have a clean, peaceful, comfortable home.  Today was his turn; sometimes it's me asking him.  But today it was his turn to ask me, and I gave him the usual unsatisfactory answer:   Yes.  Really.  I'm nearly certain.  Yes, we will.  I think.  Yeah.  Sure.

Then, tonight, the better answer hit me, a la Willie Shakes:

If these children have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended.
That you have but slumbered here,
While these tyrants did appear...

That gave me a smile that got me through washing the dishes.

Most of the day, however, I was lifted and carried by Bill (The Second Willie) Cosby.  So I close out this weekend with a clip from his 80's stand up show Himself.   I watched nearly the entire show today, and laughed myself silly, while the house went to hell in a hand basket all around me.  Enjoy!

Take heart, parents near and far: school starts soon!  (How quickly one forgets the homeschooling life...)

* * *

What's It Going to Be?

Today, will I wallow and sniffle?
Or will I pull up my big girl panties and get to work?

Will I Facebook too much?  Obsessively check my blog stats?  Wait for emails to appear in my inbox?
Or will I be proud of myself at the end of the day for fighting both the good fight and the laundry pile?

When the day draws to a close, will I drown my troubles in a pathetic beer of sympathy?
Or enjoy a celebratory ale, satisfied that I did my best and deserve a little reward?

* * *

We shall see.

* * *

09 August 2012

We've Got It All!

It's been a loud week here at Casa Alatorre.  Let's see...we've had:
  • An ER visit, followed by all kinds of fun tests and scans
  • High fevers (3 out of 5 kids)
  • 1 barfer (so far) 
  • A hacked checking account
  • 8 straight days of rehearsals/performances
  • Soccer camp: that we are running, not simply attending
  • Lots of eating in the car, ergo, lots of spilling in the car
  • Lots of getting places late

Usually, when people say things to me like "I don't know how you do it," I kind of shrug it off.  Usually, my attitude is that everyone has their own version of normal, and this big ole family just happens to be mine.  

But this week?  I don't know how I do it either.  I think I must be sleep walking through the sturm und drang, or traveling inside a protective bubble.  Or maybe that's just God.  Or denial.  Or the nightly cocktails I've had with my dad.


I can't plan ahead more than 1 hour this week.  I'm hoping we don't get hit with any more excitement.  I wouldn't want that protective bubble to burst.

* * *   

07 August 2012

Bumpersticker Truth

Well-behaved children rarely make good blog posts.

Went to Mass on Sunday and the children were positively -- boringly -- well-behaved.  Gone are days like these.   Have I done too good a job with them?  Are my blogging days numbered?

* * *

03 August 2012

7 Quick Takes: Volume 56


It's Friday and I'm not at BlogHer '12.  I'm at BlobHer, on my couch.  But I've got a computer and an internet connection, so nothing's going to stop me from Quick Taking!

Please visit our host, visit some of the other posters, and grace them with a comment or two or seven.


A Ridiculous Take.  I got a new toothbrush today.  I then had an argument with my youngest child, because she was upset that I would not let her have my old one.  Really?


A Promotional Take.  I really want to see this movie, and I really hope it comes to a theater near me.

Doesn't it look great?  Today, I went on Facebook and posted on the FB walls of two local theaters to encourage them to screen this movie.  DO THE SAME.  Seriously: here's how.


A Cutie-Pie Take.  One of my daughters asked me the other day for a hug.  Then she said: "Do you ever run out of hugs?  Because I'm going to be needing lots of them."  I assured her that I will never run out, and then I buried my face in her tangly hair and hugged her forever and ever.

This is my lil hugger from a few yeas ago.  Can you stand it?  I cannot stand it.

An Olympic Take.  I feel bad for the swimmers when they are being interviewed by the commentators right after their races, because they are still so out of breath.


A Shakespearean Take.  My son said today: "To wear stage make-up at my performance tomorrow, right before going to my soccer game: that is the question.  Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the idiots who think stage make-up is stupid, or face them and by opposing end them.  To wear make up on the pitch: that is the question."

Thus are the conflicts of a well-rounded actor-athlete.  :)


A Dissonance Take: Today is one of our big end-of-summer-camp days, with Shakespeare Camp and Art Camp both concluding with shows.  The good news is, we get to watch our son play Claudius in Hamlet and our daughter play Cordelia in King Lear.  (Note to HM: she is not impersonating your cat.  Or imfelineating.)  The bad news is that our young Picasso will miss his art show, due to a nasty case of strep throat.  That is just wrong and unfair.

Having two competing emotions -- excitement and disappointment -- ricocheting around in my head and heart?  Me no like.


A Twitterpated Take:  I joined Twitter.  I am unimpressed.

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02 August 2012

Motherhood Changes a Few Things

Such as, the meaning of the phrase "pick up line."

These are the things I ponder while waiting for Claudius and Cordelia to be released from Shakespeare Camp.

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01 August 2012

I Don't Need Parenting Books. I Have Friends.

This family boasts three daughters.  Three smart, funny, sweet, strong, wonderful girls.

We are in for a world of hormonal hurt that I'm estimating will last for the next 12-14 years.  In the past few weeks, I've had my first glimpses into what that is going to be like.  In other words, I have seen the face of a girl teenager and it has struck fear into my heart.

So I turned to some friends who have daughters older than mine, and I described the situation thusly:  “I've seen her get more upset and indignant in the last week than I've ever seen in her entire life.  If you stacked all her tantrums from ages 0-10 in one pile, combined they wouldn't be as forceful as some of her reactions to things this week.  I'm experiencing cognitive dissonance: she is being difficult.”

And their responses were golden, so I thought I'd share them here for any of you with pre-hormonal daughters, so you might benefit from their words of wisdom.  

Friend the 1st had this to say, after consulting with her own daughter:  

"Advice from the daughter perspective:  She said, "Don't tell her to chill out because she doesn't know that she's not chilled out."  So, pointing out that she's being hormonal is not helpful, according to my daughter, but she couldn't say what would be helpful.  She says, "Yeah, I guess" to whether it helps when I tell her that I think she needs to go be alone or go exercise.   As a future nurse I prescribe plenty of wine to the mom.  You have to be the steady one in the middle of her hormonal storm.  If you need fellow moms to help you drink the wine and commiserate, I am here for you :-)”

Friend the 2nd provided a numbered list full of helpful gems.  If, after reading this list, you want her address to send her a thank you bottle of wine, I will provide it:

Welcome to the club! ;-) 

We did this first with our first daughter (still in it), which made it easier to recognize when our second daughter began exhibiting the same symptoms and behaviors. 

I concur with [Friend the 1st's daughter]. Telling them to "chill" only makes them more pissed off. Does me too (BTW).

Here are a few things that has helped us weather the storms (as erratic as they are).

1.     Limit, or reduce sugar intake. It exacerbates the intensity levels. They fight this, but with our girls once explained that it is making them crazy they are more willing to acquiesce (the hormone fits are no picnic for them either.)
2.     Exercise helps. Get the heart pumping, legs moving and the focus changes.
3.     Loud happy (up-beat with positive message) music can get them out of a particularly angry or sad funk. Dancing crazy as a family in the living rooms while listening has done the trick in the past as well.
4.     One on one time with Mom (or Dad) but with Mom it may open up space to share how you went through/go through the same experiences and how you have learned to manage.  
5.     This talk time can also give you the opportunity to validate that it totally sucks! that its normal, and over time the hormones will even out and become more cyclical—allowing them to manage them more easily. Holding and being quiet also seems to work at times— (sometime even better if they are so sick of hearing the sound of your voice but still need you.)
6.     Avoid the power struggle. Just like all the other kids. Say it, stick to it, and then disengage from the debate. Easier said than done, but is effective.
7.     Protect them from the other less sympathetic siblings.;-) Or rather, protect the other siblings from her. In other words, give her a little more space. 
8.     And when you are a hormonal mess too.....well.... grab the potato chips, dark chocolate, Valium (if you have a source;-), bottle of wine and head for the door ;-).

That is pretty much all I have gleaned from my journey of doing it wrong enough times to figure out what worked. Of course, every girl/women is different so....Hope its helpful. If I think of anything else, I will let you know. 

I have awesome friends.  My daughters should thank them.  Yours too.

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