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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *


I have decided that every single person in the whole world is whacked.  There is no normal.  Doesn't exist.


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