Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Every so often, I make a biting comment about my mother within earshot of the girls. When the words are escaping my mouth, I think nothing of them. They are my thoughts, my complaints, my perspective, my truth.  

The girls see it quite differently though. They love my mom, and their entire extended family fiercely, but from a distance. As children should be, they are only exposed to the best of the best and shielding from the unsavory moments. 

These are the moments that make Matt and I parent the way we do, with our sometimes excessive amounts of hugs and I Love You’s. If there is such a thing. We talk about hopes and frustrations openly. We encourage discord and yelling if for no other reason than to make sure the feelings are liquid and flowing instead of ice slowing turning into immovable burgs. We talk about bodies and femininity as is appropriate with the pre-school set.   

And we talk about how we can talk about anything.

One story that I will certainly tell the girls, when the time comes, is about how many of those things were broken in my childhood. It’s the kind of story that comes up fairly regularly with girlfriends because every so often, anyone can get caught completely off guard by an early cycle.

I was 12 years old when I got my period. It is bit unbelievable (from the raised eyebrows I get from friends), but I didn’t know much about menstruation despite it being 1990. I was the first of my very small group of friends, and must have been one of the first in my grade to get it. It was terrible. I didn’t know what to do, and was afraid to talk to my mom.

She and I didn’t talk about anything.  I take that back, she constantly talked, and I might have been listening, but it wasn’t substantial conversation. Right now, sitting here typing, I can only recall one substantial conversation with her in my entire life. And it was in the last year. She didn’t prepare me. She didn’t warn me. She didn’t even notice anything was wrong with me.

And so I kept my secret, slyly taking maxi pads from under the counter and searching the dryer for forgotten dimes. For six months, I kept my secret, only to be undone by an Aunt who noticed a change in my skin. It was a crass moment, filled with soul crushing shame on my part and screeched words and laughter on hers.

I still remember how I shook, so afraid of my mother’s reaction to the news that her daughter wasn’t a physiological little girl any more.

I remember how her face blanched at the realization, presumably, of her failure.

There was still no conversation. Just the arrival of my own supply of maxi pads on my bed the next day.

And so, Matt and I talk to our girls. About everything. I don’t cover my body in front of them. I don’t like shut doors. We ask about days and friends and loves in the hope that nothing will be big enough to be kept secret.


This post was inspired by the novel Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton. After witnessing her children's school set ablaze, Grace attempts to find the arsonist as her teenage daughter lies in a coma in Lupton's suspense thriller. Join From Left to Write on April 11 as we discuss Afterwards. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

My Saturday Night

I've made a new friend. Which, ya know, is kind of a big thing for me. This woman has seamlessly incorporated me, my whole family, into her life.

Even more, she's  extended party invitations. "You should come!" she insisted, "Its a Girl's Night Out. You'll love it!" And has hence incorporated me into her friends lives.

Which is surreal.

It takes a lot for me to talk to people. I need a plan, mental index cards with conversation topics, most of which usually revolve kids and the weather. I know, it's bad. Which is why I avoid social situations. But I walked into our friendship blind, and it has flourished; so I walked into her circle of friends blind too.

While it is to early to declare myself a success with the circle, I can say that night one was good. I was quiet, but I was myself. I made an ass of myself, and it was embraced, heralded even.

"You are one of us now!" they exclaimed in triumph, smoothing over actions that would have crushed me in any other group.

 And so, in a group of strangers that I have little in common with in the day to day, I now possess what seems like a teflon bond of foolishness.


This post was inspired by Saturday Night Widows by Becky Aikman. After being kicked out of her widow support group for being too young, Becky creates her own support group with an unusual twist. Join From Left to Write on February 14 as we discuss Saturday Night Widows. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Monday, February 11, 2013


At the Grace's visit to the dentist for her cleaning, her 5 year old status granted a new experience: x-rays. When the images were transferred to the computer screen, I was immediately called over to have a look.

Somebody is about to loose some baby teeth, the staff exclaimed. We are sure the next time we see you, you'll be missing some teeth Grace!

On Friday night, Grace had her first visit from the Tooth Fairy. Not for tooth collection, but for formal registration with the Tooth Fairy Network. That sly little sprite left this package on Grace's bed overnight for her delight at dawn.

The message read:
Dear Grace ~
I hear you have some loose teeth!
Congratulations and welcome to the Tooth Fairy Network!
To schedule a visit, leave a tooth in this pillow.
~ The Tooth Fairy

And for the rest of the day, she whispered her tongue across her teeth testing for wiggles.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Big Time

This chair has been a center point of my world for the last five and a half years.

It has stood true, creaking toward the end, but always giving a place to nurse, feed, snuggle, rock, sing, sleep, read, laugh and cry. And today, it has found a new home. It is just across the hall, newly designated as my reading chair, but still, it's presence is missed.

It's time had ended though. We need room for this.

Clare no longer fit in my arms in that chair. She no longer needed my body as a pillow to sleep. She needed the next step. She needed a big girl bed.

We do need to get her a little stool to help with a boost into that big bed though.

Friday, February 1, 2013

With a Rubber Hose

We were all rushing around like bees in a hive:
4:45p Daycare pickup
5:15p Early dinner for the girls
5:45p Matt's class at the gym
6:15p Grace's gymnastics class

At 5:40 Clare decided to put herself on the evenings agenda too.

I was barking orders and clearing dishes and clearly not paying attention.

She looked at me slyly.
"Mama," she said with a smile, "In my nose."
"What's in your nose sweetie? Buggers? Do you need a tissue??"
"No," she said, "Up my nose. No buggers. A bead!"

Time froze for a second. She was so proud of herself.

Upon inspection, there it was.  As a distraction, I had pulled out a big bag of beads over President's Day weekend and let the girls and their friend string necklaces. The rubber of the elastic cording in the bag must have been getting old, because the necklaces have been systematically breaking and spraying nostril sized beads all over the floor. I thought I had been doing a good job of cleaning them up.

I tried trying to wiggle the bead back down her nose with my fingers from the outside. It wasn't budging. In fact, with the way she was fighting me, it was sliding further up. I called Matt. By the time he came home from his abandoned class, Doctor Google had given us some new ideas:

Try tweezers! - Except as soon as she saw us coming with them she would start to scream and thrash so violently we were afraid of poking the bead up into her brain.

Use a shop vac to suck it out! - Which we do own as part of the ill fated pool draining experiment, but they are big and loud and the hose was the size of 1/3 of her face. So we tried the vacuum, which didn't go over well either, because I don't vacuum. Ever. Well, only on special occasions. It is usually something we leave to cleaning crews, so Clare has only ever heard the vacuum 2 or 3 times in her life. That option did not go over well either. And now she was crying so hard she was doing the opposite of the vacuum and starting to suck the bead up further into her nose all by herself.

So at this point we were talking about the immediate care center. And Grace has realized that her chances of going to gymnastics were getting slimmer by every passing minute and starts to have a meltdown.

At the clinic, the doctor was indeed able to remove the bead in the predicted 30 seconds, but it was well worth the $50 copay. She would have never let us get it out.

And now the house has been purged of the beads and we repeat the daily mantra of "I promise I will not put anything up my nose. No beads in nose. I promise."

Monday, January 21, 2013

Needing and Knowing

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tiny Dancer

So ballet class didn't last very long for Grace. If you ask her about it, she'll shrug and say 'It was fine.'  She wanted more movement, more activity, more recital without the itchy costume. So she has moved on.

Clare, on the other hand, has been waiting and wanting for her turn with the tights and tutu's. She begs for her slippers. She runs to the studio with a confidence carefree attitude that Grace never showed when her teacher arrives.

We are only a few classes into the new year, but I believe this one is our dancer.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Our Normal

We have a new tradition in our house.

It's not necessarily about family in the broader sense like so many other people this time of year, but our family.  We live 800 miles away from the rest of our family and refuse to trek to Chicago for the week. It is ours, it is our girls.

It is a little bit maddening.

We've come to the realization that we need to do something, ANYTHING, to get us out house when the rest of America tucks away into itself. And so, we started a Christmas Eve trip tradition, and went to Hershey Park.  Bet you didn't know they were open in the middle of winter, huh? Let me tell you, they are and it is awesome.

Hershey's Christmas Candylane is a must on our holiday agenda now. At least until the girls out grow the type of ride that can function in the middle of winter.

But really, does anybody really outgrow Peanut Butter Cups?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Sparkle

We made Christmas cards yesterday.

Gifts for the teachers, that they wouldn't feel obligated to keep forever and if they did at least it is easy storage. Plus, it's the added bonus of something to put cash in and so I don't feel like we didn't try to be creative.

The girls absolutely loved it though, and they turned out so cute.  It was actually an exercise in giving up control for me too, but in the end it was awesome.  I'm so glad I just took a step back and let them do their thing.

They turned out perfect.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pine Trees and Coco Beans

It's tradition. Every year, the weekend after Thanksgiving, we go hunt for our White Pine.

It has to be a White Pine.

For some reason, it never goes smoothly though. Grace is five this year. This is the first year that she hasn't had some sort of fit during our Christmas tree expedition. Clare decided to pick up the reins though. So we tromped through the forest wooded lot, back to where our trees were hidden, to find a perfect one.

All a while Clare screamed while mist from her mouth from the frigid air, and snot ran down her face. We persevered though, and found the tree.

After the half mile hike back into civilization we wiped noses, dried tears and bought hot chocolates. And everyone was happy again, because chocolate makes everything better.