Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The 12 Problems of Christmas

I am SO over the holidays. The music, the treats, the fake cheer, the kids at home ALL DAY LONG. Bring on 2011 and the general population's return to everyday surliness.

Since my kids' Christmas break started, I have posted a daily Facebook status spoofing "The 12 Days of Christmas," and I thought it would be appropriate to extend that theme to my blog. So I present to you, "The 12 Problems of Christmas":
  1. Christmas break. Kids at home for 11 days. Need I say more?
  2. Last-minute gift-buying, wrapping, hiding, transporting, etc. I frequently slip a little something for myself into the cart to alleviate the stress.
  3. Food preparation for your holiday "feast" when you have already eaten so many Christmas cookies that your jeans no longer fit.
  4. Going to the madhouse, a.k.a. grocery store, in the days leading up to Christmas.
  5. Holiday music. Sure, many of the songs are beautiful, but when you've been hearing them since November 1, they get a little old.
  6. Getting the kids to bed on Christmas Eve. And then making 100 percent certain they are asleep before "playing Santa."
  7. Tacky holiday decorations. Blow-up life-size Santas and the like. Although if I found a blow-up dreidel, I would be tempted to buy it.
  8. Christmas sweaters. Santa, reindeer, gingerbread men, etc. do not belong, in any way, shape or form, on an adult clothing item.
  9. Santa. Yes, I have a problem with the fat, jolly man with monochromatic fashion sense. I just can't get behind all the trickery required to keep the story alive (although I do it anyway). And besides, why should he get all the credit? I work hard to make Christmas happen for my kids and I want some of the credit, gosh darn it (even some credit from my husband would be nice ...).
  10. Gifts for teachers and non-family members. It's not the gift that's the problem--it's remembering who "needs" a gift and making sure that person gets the gift before Christmas 2011.
  11. Christmas treats. Unless you have amazing self-control or absolutely no sweet tooth, these are definitely a problem.
  12. New toys. New toy packaging. Playing with all the new toys when all you want to do is lock yourself in your bedroom and count down the days until school resumes.

I am really not a scrooge--honest. I get into the holiday spirit as much as any central Pennsylvania Jewish girl. I enjoy spending time with my family, although this loooong "vacation" reminds me why I am not a stay-at-home mom. I am admittedly not good at "playing," although I do get a kick out of watching Lauren innocently put naked prince and princess dolls into compromising positions. Did you know how flexible Cinderella is? I also get super-exited (probably too excited) about the after-Christmas sales. I'm probably one of the few Jewish women out at the crack of dawn on December 26, snatching up holiday-themed tableware and miscellaneous half-price crap. It comes in handy when I'm dealing with #10 above.

So now Christmas is over, my kids are happy with their "haul," and I've gotten my shopping fix. Time to move on. The countdown to summer has begun.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

His Stage Name Would Be Alejandro

If any male strip clubs are looking for an 8-year-old exotic dancer, Alex is a shoo-in for the job. That boy can SHAKE it, and I don't know whether I should be amused or horrified. He gyrates his slim hips in a way that would make grown women blush, and shakes his bootie like there's no tomorrow. You'd think he had dancing in his blood, but his parents can barely do the "Electric Slide."

No one on my side of the family can dance--at all. I cringe at the memory of the few times my family members have taken to the dance floor. It's not pretty. Brian can't really dance, either, although he has more rhythm than I do. We actually took ballroom dance together during our senior year of college in preparation for our wedding. However, Brian dropped the course part-way through the semester because he did not want it to hurt his GPA. I ended up with an A-, which ruined what would have been a 4.0 for my final semester of college.

Anyway, back to the bootie-shaking. Since Lauren was old enough to understand the concept, she and Alex have been putting on "shows." They used to be totally innocent affairs, with them donning funny outfits and swaying to Disney movie music. Sometimes Alex would put on some Blue Band music and pound on makeshift drums while Lauren shook some pom-poms.

But since the disco party, the dancing has taken a different turn. Maybe the disco ball is to blame. Or the CD I made of what I THOUGHT was totally appropriate dance music.

Now the shows include Alex--usually in just his underwear--standing on a stool and dancing so, uh ... intensely you'd think he was trying to get the ladies to stuff dollar bills in his tightie whities. I have not seen anyone dance like that since I crashed my mom's 40th birthday party just in time for the surprise "pizza delivery man" who was delivering more than pizza.

Alex's favorite dance tunes are the "Macarena" and "I Like to Move It" (from Madagascar). He will dance to both songs over and over again, adding new "moves" each time. Such as twirling a small towel above his head while he swivels his hips. That move, admittedly, is what brought exotic dancers to mind. Rest assured that Alex will NOT be replicating that move with his undies.

While Alex is gyrating, Lauren can often be found singing softly into a microphone or doing what we like to call her "interpretive dancing." Her moves are more reminiscent of ice dancing. She also likes to prance around on her tippy toes. Totally innocent, thank goodness. Although if she continues to watch her brother, that will not always be the case.

Fortunately Alex has a few years before he will be attending school dances, so he has time to tone down his moves. For now, I have decided to be amused--not horrified. How can you NOT chuckle at a scrawny 8-year-old movin' and groovin' without a care in the world? Maybe he'll be able to teach ME something!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Silly Things

I ran the inaugural Hershey Half-Marathon on Sunday, my first "half-mary." It was a well-organized race and actually lots of fun, if running 13.1 miles could ever be considered fun. A portion of Hersheypark was opened on Saturday evening just for runners and their families, which was a great perk of participating. Alex and I decided to hit the nearby outlets before going into the park, so Brian and Lauren were on their own. And Lauren had not used the bathroom in several hours ...

Which brings me to the real subject of this post: men's and women's anatomy. That got your attention, right?

Being the good dad that he is, Brian often assumes "potty duty" with Lauren. No parent LIKES taking his or her preschooler to the bathroom, so Brian and I trade off when we are together. On Saturday evening, Brian was the only option. So into the men's room they went, where he helped Lauren use the toilet. Then it was his turn, so he instructed her to stand behind him, against the stall's door. At 3, she is obviously not old enough to wait for us outside the stall, especially somewhere like Hersheypark. Also because she is 3, she is curious about body parts. I cannot bring myself to type, word-for-word, what she said while waiting for her daddy. She referred to a "thing" that her daddy "pulls." Enough said.

Brian did not get around to telling me this until after the half-marathon. If he had told me before, I would have had something to laugh about while running down a barren country road in the face of what felt like gale-force winds.

Lauren's curiosity about body parts continued this morning. I had just gotten out of the shower and was getting dressed. She pointed at me and said "that's silly." "What's silly?" I asked, hoping she was referring to my belly button. But she was pointing a little lower. Oy. I stammered something about how your body changes as you get older. Then she shifted the conversation to the upper body. "When I grow up, will I wear something under my shirt like you do?" she asked. "Yes," I told her. She then proceeded to puff out her chest and say, "I'm going to be huge!"

Sorry, babe. Genetics are not in your favor.

So now I'm struggling with the introduction of the correct anatomical terms. I HAVE used them with her before, but I guess she does not remember. She still uses "bum" to refer to her entire nether regions. If I teach her the "P" word (sorry, I just can't type it in my blog), she is likely to say it--loudly--at inappropriate times. This is a kid who, when she sees someone in the ladies' room with short hair, blatantly asks if she is a boy or a girl (because in the world of princesses, long hair = girl and short hair = boy).

I know that I should start introducing the correct terms now. She will likely go through a phase when she uses them frequently and inappropriately, but she will eventually understand when and how those terms should be used.

Or maybe I'll wait just a little bit longer. This makes for great blog fodder!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Party On!

Alex turned 8 last week. In the blog world, that means I'm supposed to write a sappy birthday post, reminiscing about his chubby baby cheeks, cutely mispronounced first words, preschool antics, etc. Forget that. We had what was essentially a three-day birthday party, and it rocked. You get to hear about that instead.

It all started with his disco party on Friday night. Six months ago, Alex became obsessed with disco balls. I have no idea where he had seen or heard about them, but he decided he wanted one--immediately. I got him one, with the stipulation that he would have a disco party for his 8th birthday, whether he was still into disco or not (I do not have a Donna Summer alter ego that would make a disco ball an otherwise logical purchase).

Fortunately, Alex was still down with the disco party. We invited nearly 20 friends to a dance party at our house. Yes, I am crazy. Every time we have a birthday party at our house, we swear we will never do it again. But the mighty dollar sign always wins out--we did not want to pay to rent a facility that may or may not have been appropriate for an 8-year-old's disco party.

Don't all discos have a fish tank?

Anyway, back to the party. Almost everyone we invited was able to come. A few even dressed up, as the invitation requested. Kudos to the mom who managed to find platform shoes for her 9-year-old son. The kids were wild from the start. Not in a bad way--just in a high-energy way. I roped them in with the limbo, followed by a dancing competition. We ate some pizza, and after that, it was pretty much a free-for-all. Sorry, neighbors. It was 75 degrees at 8 p.m. on a late September night, and there was no way I was keeping the kids cooped up inside. There was some air guitar on our play set's "stage." Running with glow sticks. A lot of "Macarena" action on our patio, followed by an impromptu performance by Alex and his two backup dancers. We did not even get around to serving cake until almost 8:30, when the party was supposed to end (cake made by me--cue pat on the back). None of the kids wanted to leave. That makes me a cool mom, right?

I think Alex likes being the center of attention. He is certainly not shy ...

... no, not shy at all ...

The next day, we hosted our first tailgate in our RV (ultimately christened "Betty"). Despite being a bit "hungover," Alex played the perfect host, decked out in a Penn State apron and Santa hat (because, as he will tell anyone, he is WEIRD). Little cheerleaders cheered, Alex and his buddies tossed a football, and lots of adults ate way more than necessary. Alex got to blow out a candle on another cake (again made by me!) before heading off to the game.

The real excitement during the game was in the RV, not the stadium. Well, at least for a group of 3-year-olds. Lauren and her friends decided to have what she called an "underwear party" and proceeded to strip down to their skivvies and spend two hours jumping on the bed. That gave me a chance not to watch the game, but rather play endless games of Solitaire on my iPad, an undertaking I find infinitely more enjoyable than football (sorry, Dad).

There was more eating and football-tossing after the game, and then I embarked on my twelve hours of "freedom," because both kids spent Saturday night in the RV with Brian. I spent eight of those hours sleeping and two of them running 12 miles.

Alex's actual birthday was on Sunday. By that point, admittedly, I could not believe we were still celebrating. An 8-year-old, however, especially a party-hardy one like mine, was not going to let the actual day go by without doing something special. We went out for dinner and then to my parents' house to open gifts. Gift-opening was preceded by more "Macarena"-ing with some interesting gyrations that Alex may regret later, thanks to the video capabilities of the trusty iPhone. And then more cake (I can't take the credit for this one). In a sweet display of his lingering "little boy-ness," Alex was ecstatic about the battery-operated Disney monorail playset that he received from my parents.

And finally, the weekend was over. I'm confident Alex's 8th birthday is one he will remember for some time to come, from the glittering disco ball (still) hung in our basement to the crab cakes he requested but did not eat for his birthday dinner. During his first week as an 8-year-old, I have not had to call him "Alexander Joseph Marshall" once. I'd say his year is off to a good start.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Bessie the Behemoth

Well, hello, blog. It's been awhile. That's because I have been busy with a capital B, squeezing in some end-of-summer fun. Trips to amusement parks. A weekend jaunt to the Big Apple. Back-to-school shopping. I could tell many stories about Lauren's diva-esque behavior or Alex's ongoing angst, but instead I'm going to focus on something that has been front and center in my family's life--mainly because it's 35 feet long and parked in our front yard.

That 35-foot-long entity would be an RV. "Recreational Vehicle," for those who aren't hip to the acronym. It is Brian's "baby." I will provide food for tailgates and VERY occasionally sleep in it, but that's about it. Brian plans to do the state park circuit with the kids while they still get excited about the prospect of camping with their dad.

I admit I was more than a bit surprised when Brian told me he wanted to buy an RV. He called me at work one day--keep in mind our workday conversations typically focus on kid pick-up logistics--and after some pleasantries, said he wanted to ask me something. O-kaay. And then he dropped the bomb. He had been interested in purchasing an RV for about a year and found one that he wanted to check out. After a moment of speechlessness--unusual for me--I questioned the reasonableness of making this kind of major purchase. I told him I had been hoping we could save up to go to Europe next summer for our 15th wedding anniversary. Without missing a beat, he said we could still go overseas. So I said he could get his RV.

He and Alex spent several weeks traveling around Pennsylvania looking at various used models. In typical Brian fashion, he had done extensive research, and knew exactly what he wanted. He ended up purchasing a 1996 Bounder. That probably does not mean much to you--it certainly does not mean anything to me. It seems like he made a good choice. The interior "decor" (does an RV have a "decor"?) is not too bad, and overall the vehicle is in really good shape. It sleeps five, although there are seat belts for seven people. Meaning Brian can take an RV-load of kids camping and then sleep in a tent outside.

Never in a million years did I think I would own an RV. I am, for the most part, a princess. Not in the "I am snooty and people must wait on me" sense, but in the "I am not outdoors-y" sense. In my mind, having an RV implies that you like being outside. I don't mind it, but I get bored just sitting around, breathing the fresh air. Recycled air in a mall is fine with me. In fact, in an attempt to show my willingness to occasionally participate in camping trips, I asked Brian to look for campgrounds near outlet malls (yes, they exist).

Along similar lines, I don't mind hiking, but I would rather end the hike at a hotel, where other people do the cleaning and cooking, rather than an RV, where you have the same "chores" you have at home. Camping does not seem like a vacation to me. Sure, you escape from some parts of your everyday life, but you're also crammed into a small space with certain people--in other words, your kids--who know how to get on your last nerve. That's why I need to be able to escape to a mall.

Brian and the kids already spent one night in the RV, along with two of our neighbors. They had a great time. No, Brian did not lead them in songs around the campfire. He was able to get a wi-fi connection in the "master bedroom," so he hung out there while the kids played Old Maid and Go Fish. I fulfilled my motherly duties by bringing them homemade zucchini bread in the morning.

We are planning our inaugural tailgate in the behemoth (Bessie the Behemoth? I think the RV needs a name ...) on September 25. Until then, it will most likely remain parked in our front yard, inviting lots of snide comments from our neighbors. Although they won't admit it, they're probably jealous.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Sing for Your Supper

I recently guilted some friends into celebrating my birthday with me by explaining that I really needed a night out with people who did not say "duh, Mom" or try to eat spaghetti with their fingers. Well, I don't think I REALLY guilted them into it. It seems like they participated willingly--even though the evening included karaoke!

Yes, karaoke. The lone public performance opportunity for those whose stage is usually a shower stall or car interior. The butt of jokes among those who only go to bars to hear "real" singers. Now I certainly do not sing (even my kids have asked me not to), but I knew some of my friends were good singers and had fun at a previous karaoke birthday celebration. So I hinted around, and several ladies were up for the challenge.

After a nice dinner, we headed over to a bar that I'm pretty sure none of us would have entered if not for karaoke. It's not skanky, exactly, but there is certainly nothing "hip" about it. It's attached to a bowling alley and a "no tell motel." And it used to be known for country line dancing.

I was the last one in our group of six to enter. And I got carded. Nice birthday present for a 36-year-old, although I think the ID checks were random. We found a table (there were plenty) and a heavily-mascara-ed waitress came over to take our order (I don't know how she could keep her eyes open, she was wearing so much eye makeup). My friends ordered some drinks and it immediately became apparent we are moms. Someone spilled a bit of her beverage on the table, and all of us immediately jumped up with a wad of napkins. At least no one pulled out the Wet Ones.

At one point in the evening a guy in his mid-twenties sat down at our table and asked if anyone would be willing to sing back-up for a Meatloaf song. My friends were willing, and I concluded the girlfriend had deemed us "safe" because we were clearly older. Oh, well, I don't want to be in my mid-twenties again anyway.

So karaoke at this establishment attracted some very interesting characters. I looked around when we first got there and had trouble believing anyone would be willing to get up on stage and sing. I was wrong.

First up was a pretty young woman who went by the unfortunate moniker of "Awesome Possum." Yes, possum--not blossom. And she could not sing much better than a possum. She was too busy making googly eyes at the DJ, who was an interesting character himself (more on that later).

Next was the plain Jane who apologized up front for not being there in awhile because she had her wisdom teeth removed. I don't think anyone cared. But if her perceived fan club made her feel better, more power to her.

Now on to the men. A couple nondescript guys took their turns, and then this gentleman took the stage.

He was followed by a middle-age skinny dude with greasy hair, whose mumbling I guess was supposed to be singing. He was photo-worthy, but I was a little self-conscious about taking pictures of all these random people. Soon after, the DJ took the stage. He had crooned a couple songs throughout the evening, but one in particular stood out. I took a picture of the lyrics (which were clearly visible to everyone on the screen behind him), but I'm too embarrassed to post them here--they were that bad. The song seemed to be about a part of a man's anatomy frequently referred to with a slang term that rhymes with "halls." The lyrics also included words such as "chocolate" and "salty." Enough said.

After that performance, this Cinderella had to make her exit. It was a fun evening, and not one I will soon forget. I got home so late that everyone at my house was asleep--and that's a big deal for someone known for dozing off on the couch at 7:30 p.m. Thanks to my friends for indulging me in my karaoke birthday celebration!

P.S. Check out this list of "new" song titles available for karaoke. Katy Perry, Lady Gaga ... Les Mis? MICHAEL BOLTON?!?!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Good, Not-So-Clean Fun

Over the past week, I made not one, not two, but THREE trips to the hallowed grounds of the county fair in my hometown. Where fatty fried confections, big hair and ill-fitting clothing rein supreme, and the language is both colorful and grammatically incorrect.

The fair draws all the locals and many former locals who can't resist the allure of odoriferous animal barns, greasy grub and has-been musical acts. I would be content with one quick visit just to make sure nothing has changed too much, but the other three members of my family have turned into wanna-be "carnies." My husband has passed his love of all things fair to our kids, and they couldn't get enough of it this year. I was there three times, but Alex and Brian were there FIVE times. Poor Lauren--she made only four trips to the fair.

We always go on Sunday, the first day, because admission is free. We were back the next night for the infamous fair parade. The most interesting character might have been the parade watcher in a yarmulke. The town's Jewish population was pretty much cut in half when my parents moved away, so I think he was lost.

Having young kids makes you look at a parade in a whole new light (at least for the first two hours--this parade is LONG). From tiny baton twirlers to teenage sports teams, from harem pant-clad Shriners to men in kilts, the parade is just good, not-so-clean fun.

With many of the "marchers" tossing candy, Alex had fun scrambling for Tootsie Rolls and Dubble Bubble. Lauren, of course, loved all the "royalty"--the fair queen and her court, dairy princesses, Little Miss "Small Town" and more.

My crew was back at the fair the next day, for "kids' day." I will admit I'm not sure what makes that day special, but for as long as I can remember, Tuesday has been kids' day. They got there in time to catch the noon horse races. I was okay with missing that.

On Friday, Brian returned with Alex for the horse pull. Once again, I don't feel like I missed out. I made sure they returned in time for me to take Alex to a local production of Hairspray. I figured that somewhat made up for the other forms of "culture" he had experienced during the week.

This year, for the first time, the local Y held a race in conjunction with the fair. Brian and I run in races occasionally and thought this one might be fun. It was. It was also funNY, because the advertised 5k (3.1 miles) was only 2.8 miles. And part of the course was even on a track! The pièce de résistance was the ribbon I earned for placing first in my age group. Instead of having my time listed on the back, it listed the race start time. I'm happy to have a permanent reminder that the race started at 8:30 a.m.

And the county fair will always serve as a reminder of my "past." A good past, in retrospect, although as a teenager, I couldn't wait to move away. Today, as an adult and a parent with some life experiences under her belt, I can recognize that small town life isn't so bad. I won't be moving back to my hometown anytime soon, but I'm happy to expose my kids to the sights and sounds of my own childhood. As long as they promise to avoid the fried Twinkies and furry talking monkeys.

See you at the fair next year!

Friday, July 23, 2010

The 'Tude

Since when did 7-year-olds have the sarcasm, negative attitude and indignation of a teenager? Some gnarly teen took my sweet little boy, and I want him back (my son, not the gnarly teen).

I can say little without Alex giving me attitude, or rolling his eyes, or flat out telling me no, he will not do what I asked. And then there are the tantrums, with tears so forced he can turn them on and off like the kitchen sink. Just the other day he was crying on the way to day camp, but stopped as soon as we got there. In a completely normal voice, he asked, "Mom, do I have any tears left on my face?" What had been sob-worthy two minutes before was suddenly forgotten.

Alex's sarcastic tone is complemented (worsened?) by his use of air quotes. I did not think I used them very often, but apparently I do--he said he learned the technique from me. Oy. Part of me is infuriated, and the other part realizes his way with words (and air quotes) is another indication of his advanced thinking. He makes me believe it truly is possible for a kid to be too smart for his own good.

We had somewhat of a trying weekend. Alex's down-and-out tantrum at his great-grandparents' house meant I did not take him to the pool. Faced with several hours of no swimming and no TV (he lost that privilege as well), he asked me to play with him. We enjoyed a game of Scrabble, but I decided we should take a break when he came up with "sexy" for his turn (I really need to keep my magazines out of sight--even Redbook is not safe!). He later admitted that an afternoon of playing with his toys and hanging out with his mom was not so bad, although I'm sure he would deny that statement today.

Later that evening, we went to the Olive Garden. Alex ate three breadsticks and a little pasta, and declared he was full. But then he had the nerve to ask for a milkshake, because he was only full of "certain foods." I refused, but said maybe later. He tried to convince me there was no difference between now and later and declared I was going to be in the Guinness Book of World Records for making the most nonsense.

I see so much of myself in Alex. He's smart, he's cute ... seriously, though, I know I used to be argumentative (and still am sometimes). I like to get my way. I don't like to be wrong. Alex is exactly the same. I just hope that as he matures, he will realize that arguing, negativity and sarcastic comments will not help him get what he wants. Until then, I might buy us matching muzzles.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Brown Squiggly Sacrifice

I recently wrote about the sacrifices we make for our children--for me, it was going to a water park. I thought that was going to be my "big" sacrifice of the summer--until I stupidly suggested we go to Black Moshannon State Park last Sunday.

Silly me--I thought that Brian and I would lounge on the beach while Alex and Lauren played in the sand and waded in the water. Notice I said WADED in the water. However, I underestimated my son and his newfound swimming ability. He wanted to go to the "deep end," and wanted me to go with him. Considering he just learned to swim this summer, I could not turn him down.

So I slowly entered the water, cringing with each step. Alex wanted to go out to where it was five feet deep, but we compromised with four. He had brought a beach ball, and wanted to play catch. He didn't do so well with throwing the ball right into my hands, which meant it either hit the water in front of me and splashed my face, or went behind me, forcing me into deeper water. I'm still not sure whether he kept "missing" on purpose. I tried to keep a smile on my face, but it was one of those "Mom, are we finished taking the picture now" smiles. In other words, forced.

There were quite a few people in the water. People who were totally submerging themselves in the water. Kids in goggles diving down to the murky depths. I was cringing internally the entire time. Until I got out of the water--and cringed for real.

Alex and I both had little brown squiggly things--for lack of a better term--all over our bodies. They were not moving (FORTUNATELY!). I have no idea what they were, but we had to literally scrub them off. Some hard scrubbing was required. I'm lucky I didn't throw up. Thank goodness there were showers there. Of course I could write another post about the condition of those showers, but I don't want to make anyone sick.

Alex did not really think much of the "squiggles" until we discussed them later. Thank goodness he agreed they were gross. Lauren, of course, did not care a bit. Take her to a beach and she's like a pig in slop. For some reason, she did not end up with many of the squiggles.

After our, uh, refreshing swim, we headed to the little camp store for a snack. The store that is open Memorial Day through Labor Day, but is filled with Christmas decorations. On the windowsill by our table, there was a tiny wrapped box--faded from years in the sun--with a quarter inside. On the bottom of the box, there was a price tag that said $.25. A bargain--for a quarter, we could have gotten a different quarter AND the box!

Ah, central Pennsylvania. We have beaches, we have great shopping, we have ... actually, we have a lot. I love it here. Brown squiggles excluded.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Reality Show

If I did not very clearly remember giving birth to my children, I would often question whether they were mine. The things that come out of their mouth make me feel like I'm living in a sit-com. I don't think I was a boring kid, but I'm pretty certain I was not bursting with personality like my two little angels. Er, heathens. Er, smart-alecky yet adorable kids.

A couple weeks ago, Alex was talking about a friend's sister who was allowed to stay home by herself when she was 11. He asked if he would be allowed to stay home alone at that age. So as not to start an argument, I told him that MAYBE he could, for brief periods. Without missing a beat, he asked, "Can I have a party?" I burst out laughing. Trying to save face, he claimed he meant a party with himself. Uh, I don't think I want him having a party with other kids OR himself, if you get my drift.

Last week, Lauren begged me to snuggle on the couch with her. I obliged, of course, and as soon as I sat down she twisted herself around so her feet were in my lap. "You can rub my feet," she stated in her sweet little voice. Again, I burst out laughing. It's not that I'm opposed to rubbing her feet (my husband's feet are another story). It's just that foot-rubbing does not occur in our house--unless you're rubbing your own--so I couldn't figure out where she even learned about that little pleasure. I'll blame one of those insipid "tween" shows on the Disney Channel.

Here's another Lauren classic: We were walking around the People's Choice Festival on Sunday, and Lauren kept asking me to carry her. I kept telling her no. So she said her knees were broken. I said that if her knees were broken, she could not go to her friend's birthday party. "My knees are all better now. Let's go to the party!" she exclaimed. Of course I have heard this type of thing before from Alex, but Lauren is only 3. I can't decide if this type of advanced thinking should make me proud--or scared.

Speaking of advanced thinking ... Alex can turn just about any conversation around to meet his needs. He stops just short of outright lying. I have to choose my words very carefully to ensure there are no loopholes Mr. Manipulation will use to his advantage. He was being his typical argumentative self recently and I warned him not to "talk back." He claimed he could not "talk back" when I had not said anything to him in the first place. It was true I had not said anything to him right before I told him not to talk back. Oy. In my case, having a smart kid means having a smart ass kid. According to my mom, this is payback ...

I recently took Lauren to a birthday party where all the children were, fortunately, very well behaved. I talked to some of the other parents about the differences between our kids' behavior at home and in other settings. At home, our kids let it all hang out--the good, the bad, and the ugly. Someone pointed out that the "experts" say kids who act out at home are also the ones who feel the most loved. If that's true, then my kids feel REALLY loved.

And that's the way it should be. The feeling loved part, at least. I could do without the smart-ass comments and sibling squabbling, but I've accepted that it's a package deal. Here's hoping we all make it through the weekend intact.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Chlorinated Sacrifice

Being a parent means making sacrifices. Having the title of "mom" or "dad" means you often do things you really don't want to do, from letting your son eat the last bit of your secret stash of ice cream to giving up the job promotion that would take the family overseas. I recently made the biggest sacrifice in my parenting life to date--I went to a water park.

Water parks are gross. No amount of chlorinated water can make up for the perpetually wet bathroom floors that reek of more than pool chemicals, or the lounge chairs where thousands of almost-naked bums have perched.

And then there are the bodies. All shapes, all sizes, all wearing close to nothing. I saw a few modest men who kept their shirts on (and even one with socks?!), but for the most part, people let it all hang out. I never thought going to a water park would be an ego boost for me, but there were plenty of "mom bods" in far worse shape than mine, as evidenced by the stretched-out tattoos no longer quite in their original locations.

My family does not spend much time at pools, so the kids are not used to seeing so many unclothed bodies. Alex wasn't fazed by it, but Lauren had some choice comments. What do you do when your 3-year-old points and laughs at one man's rather large belly? She had already told her dad she thought his belly looked funny. Glad I wore a tankini instead of a bikini. I probably spared myself the scorn of my appearance-conscious daughter.

As if the general skeeve factor were not enough, at water parks there is the added problem of what to do with your stuff. We saw many teenagers entering with just a towel around their necks and flip flops on their feet. There were cubbies near many of the slides where you could leave your shoes and towels, and it seemed like people were generally respectful of other people's stuff. But parents need to lug around towels, snacks, money, car keys, change of clothes, LOTS of antibacterial wipes, et cetera. The park we visited had lockers to rent, but they were tiny. Fortunately the skimpy hotel towels we "borrowed" did not take up too much space.

So I spent an entire day in a bathing suit, walked through a public bathroom with no shoes on (OMG, I still can't believe I did that), saw lots of not-so-heavenly bodies and ... I still had fun. Unlike amusement parks, where Brian and Lauren often go off on their own to ride the rides (yes, Brian and Lauren--Alex hates to ride, just like his mom), we did most of the water park activities together. There was minimal squabbling between the kids, and they had a great time playing in the fountain areas. We all enjoyed the lazy river and bobbing up and down in the wave pool. The kids wore life vests the entire time, which cut down on my nervousness (Alex is still learning to swim and Lauren just started lessons).

We got to the park around 10:30 a.m. and I was looking at my watch by 11:30. At that point, I realized I just had to relax. And then I started to have fun. The kids had a blast, and I know they will remember their water park visit for a long time to come. I will remember their smiles--and the scalding hot shower I took as soon as we got back to the hotel.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Partly to Mostly Sunny

My daughter is a "sunny" child. Happy, easy-going, eager to please. At 3, she already has a sense of humor, and her enthusiasm regarding just about everything makes her so much fun to be around. She randomly bestows kisses, loves to snuggle, and has one of those sweet grins that just makes you want to melt.

But sometimes, the clouds roll in. And when the dark clouds cover up the sun in Lauren's world, you better watch out.

About a month ago, I had woken up early to get started on Lauren's birthday cake. A true labor of love because Betty Crocker I am not. So I'm slaving away in the kitchen when I hear Lauren coming down the stairs. I go over to the stairs to greet her, and she sneers, "Go away. I don't want you." Uh, someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

Often when we're driving, we play what I'll call the "I love you" game. I say "I love you Lauren Looby Lu," or some other silly name, and she responds with "I love you" and a silly name for me. So we're driving home from her swimming lesson last week and I start the game. "I don't want to play that game," she says with a pout, while chomping on a pretzel. I guess I should have known her priority would be food, not indulging Mom in some goofy game.

Usually the dark clouds come out of nowhere and then retreat quickly, just like a summer thunderstorm. However, other children sometimes bring on the stormy weather. We recently had a park incident that ensured no future friendship with a particular little boy. I had one eye on Lauren and one on Alex's soccer game. After a few minutes on the playground, she comes running back to me, claiming a little boy hit her. I didn't actually see it happen, but she does not usually lie, so I suggested she tell him hitting is not nice, and then go play on another part of the playground. She runs back over and when I check on her a minute later, I see her talking sternly to the kid, shaking her finger in his face. Oy. I'm glad she stood up for herself, but the finger-shaking was a little much ...

Lauren's generally "sunny" disposition makes it easier to get through the "stormy" days. It's hard to get angry at a kid who alternately sings "Tomorrow" (from Annie) and "Squirrels in My Pants" (from Phineas and Ferb) while wearing a princess dress and mismatched high heels. I know things may cloud over more often during the tween and teenage years. Until then, I'll just don my shades and enjoy the sun.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Mud vs. Fun

So I went camping over the Memorial Day weekend. For one night, in a cabin. YES, that is still camping. I don't care what anyone else thinks.

I was, uh, ambivalent about the trip (does camping even count as a trip?). I appreciate being outdoors, yada, yada, yada, but I need a hotel room or my own bed at night. Not to mention a bathroom with a tile floor (linoleum would suffice) that I can access without going outside.

Alex and Brian camped for four nights, and Lauren joined them for two nights. They all had a great time. I learned my little princess is not as "princess-y" as I thought. Take exhibit A:

While wading through a little creek behind our cabin, her shoes got stuck in the muck and she fell down. Surprisingly, she didn't mind a bit. I think she might have wanted to play in the water if she had not been literally stuck. Instead of rushing to help her out, I took advantage of a prime photo-taking opportunity. Fortunately Alex came to the rescue:

Exhibit B also involves water. Murky, muddy water:

My little Bo Derek wannabe was like a pig in slop at the beach. I cringed anytime she splashed water in her face. I know the ocean is just as dirty but, well, it's the ocean.

My son fancies himself an experienced camper. But do true campers bring this amenity?

Yes, that's a microwave. I also doubt many--if any--campers request an emergency box of this:

Matzo. Alex loves it. He was a little disappointed when I told him it would not work for mountain pies.

So my final verdict on the weekend? Sorta gross, but lots of fun. My kids had such a great time playing with their cousins, and I enjoyed watching them.

There was baseball:

Lots of eating:

And lots of cuteness:

Oops, wrong picture (yes, I'm actually smiling in the yucky shower).

There we go. Yes, lots of cuteness. I'd go camping again. Okay, I said it. Good thing there are only a few people who read my blog and can thus hold me accountable ...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Girly Girl

I don't remember playing much with dolls. I know I had them, because I DO remember chewing their hair (okay, commence gagging--but don't most kids have some gross thing that they do?). I know I had a Cabbage Patch Kid I loved so much I didn't eat her hair, but other than that, I just remember reading a lot as a kid. One other childhood memory that sticks out is marching around the block with a parade of girls behind me (okay, it might have been just one girl, but please let me have my fantasy), yelling "Whatever boys can do, girls can do better." I was probably around 9 at the time.

That was sort of a convoluted way of bringing me to the subject of this post--my incredibly girly daughter, who loves everything pink and purple and princess-y AND believes domestic chores are reserved for women. A few days ago, she saw a photograph of her brother using a broom. "WHAT is Alex doing?" she asked her Mimi. "Well, he's sweeping," Mimi said. "Boys don't sweep," Lauren declared. Mimi immediately set her straight, but I'm afraid she still believes housework is women's work.

But why? Are Disney princess movies to blame? In our house, she is just as likely to see her dad using the vacuum as her mom. I'm usually the one preparing dinner, but Brian sets the table, gets drinks for the kids, et cetera, et cetera.

I distinctly remember the day back in October when Lauren uttered the words I had been dreading: "Mommy, I want to dress like a princess." Okay, I wasn't REALLY dreading those words, but I knew that declaration would steer us down a path with lip gloss and frou-frou at every turn.

And I was right. Lauren has turned into a true girly girl, something I never was. She got a vanity table for her birthday and could sit there and primp forever. My mom would say she got that from me (hi Mom!), but I would not call myself a primper. I just take a long time to get ready. There's a difference, right? RIGHT?

She wants to wear dresses all the time. When we are home, she is usually in princess attire. She loves anything and everything about the Disney princesses and likes to call herself Belle (from Beauty and the Beast). She often corrects me when I have the audacity to address her as Lauren. "I'm not Lauren; I'm Belle," she says, and then refuses to do whatever I asked until I call her Belle. At least Belle is a little more obedient than Zia.

Then there are the "jewels." She prefers to be dripping in them. I had no idea how much pastel-colored plastic could adorn one child. I do think it's cute, though, that she is exhibiting her own sense of style.

Lauren chooses dolls and other "girl" toys over the cars and trucks in abundance at our house. She has strong feelings about her dolls' attire--she prefers they wear nothing. To the uninitiated observer, it would appear there is a naked Disney princess orgy going on at our place. She DOES actually play with them, though--in appropriate ways. It's pretty cute to hear her running commentary directing Belle to do this and Snow White to do that.

I know many--dare I say most?--little girls go through a "girly" phase. But some don't, and I really wonder why. I have found it's virtually impossible to prevent little girls' exposure to "princess-y" things. I'm pretty sure Lauren learned about the Disney princesses at day care. Which was fine--the introduction was bound to happen eventually, unless I kept her in a bubble. And there ARE good messages at the end of all the Disney princess movies--you just have to observe some stereotypical gender roles to get there.

For now, I'm just going with it--and, I will admit, enjoying it, as long as Lauren understands men are allowed to use a darn broom (or vacuum, or dust cloth, or dish towel ...). As I wrote in a previous post, it's fun to have a little girl who gets excited about dressing up and painting her nails and wearing jewelry ...

... and shopping. When I tell Lauren we're going to Target, she usually responds with "I love Target." Swoon ...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Princess Posse

Lauren has a posse--of imaginary friends. Her good buddy Zia has been fodder for many a Facebook status update, and was actually one of the reasons I started this blog. Then there's Emily, who is often the victim of Zia's antics. I consider her the meek one. Other posse members come and go, including Emilena and various Disney princesses. I have no idea where Lauren got the name Zia (alternately pronounced Zee-ah and Zi-ah). I suspect Emilena is a combination of Emily (obviously) and Alayna, the name of one of Lauren's cousins.

Zia is definitely the "mean girl" of the group. She bites, she steals toys, she's generally disruptive. Lauren blames her for everything, from minor mishaps (spilling a drink) to actual misbehavior (throwing a toy). Before Lauren was completely potty-trained, she also used to blame her for potty problems. "Mommy, Zia pooped in her pants [actually Lauren's pants], and I'm NOT happy," she once informed me. Fortunately both Lauren and Zia now make their deposits where they belong.

Zia was causing LOTS of trouble in our house during the winter. Then her behavior began improving, and I did not see (well, hear, to be more accurate) much of her. She has been hanging around a lot again, though. She always seems to be biting Emily's finger. Now can someone tell me how you discipline an imaginary child who is hurting another imaginary child? (fortunately Lauren has not actually been biting--perhaps she is living vicariously through Zia?)

One recent afternoon, Lauren helped Zia and Emily into the car before climbing in herself. I had to clear off the front passenger seat to make room for Zia. That meant I had several bags at my feet when I was trying to drive. After a few minutes, I tried to sneak a bag onto the front passenger seat. "Mommy, you put your bag on Zia," Lauren said. I tried to convince her that Zia agreed to hold my bag. "No, Mommy, she did not. You're making her very upset."

So I removed the bag. I couldn't have an angry imaginary friend who was prone to biting under normal circumstances.

When I first started posting my status updates about Zia, some people asked me how I felt about Lauren having an imaginary friend. It was almost like they thought it was a bad thing. While it is a little frustrating at times, how can I be upset about something that demonstrates my child's creativity and spunk, not to mention imagination? Have you ever met a dull kid with imaginary friends? I didn't think so.

I don't know how long the posse will stick around, but I think I'll be sad when the girls are gone. Zia's behavior is not always ideal, but she's pretty entertaining. And the playdates are awfully easy to organize.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Love Is in the Air

I have so many things to write about, but those longer posts will have to wait a bit until I recover from my princess's third birthday party.

I don't want to leave my hordes of followers hanging for too long :), so I'll tell a quick story about my sweet son's burgeoning love life. I already wrote about his new hairstyle. Well, it seems that his newfound interest in his looks has to do with a new girl in his life. With the hair, I honestly believed he just wanted a haircut that would be cooler--temperature wise, not style wise. But two days after he got his hair cut, he asked to wear khakis and a button-down shirt to school instead of his typical jeans and polo. Considering he used to complain about wearing a shirt with a collar, I knew something was up.

The same day he got dressed up, he wanted to take a trinket from home to show his (girl)friend. I think we're lucky he brought it home! That evening, I asked him what was going on between him and H. "I don't know," he said, with the world-weary wisdom of someone who has loved and lost. "So do you like each other?" I asked. "Yes, a lot," he said. "So you like HER a lot, or she likes YOU a lot?" "Both," he said.

Oy vey. I refrained from asking if she was pretty, and instead asked if she was smart. He said she was. I then rushed upstairs to look at his class picture. I can now confirm that she is pretty AND smart. I assume she is also nice, so our bases are covered.

For now. One strike and she's out. If she hurts him, this mama bear is going to show her claws.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

He's Got the Look

My son got a haircut last night. Not really a big deal, except this cut requires ... "product." He has gorgeous hair--dark brown, thick and full of body. But of course it has been the bane of his existence. It makes him too hot, or his bangs on his forehead bother him, or he's just generally in a bad mood so he's going to blame it on his hair.

He recently decided he wants to wear it combed to the side, so he got it cut quite a bit shorter, and had it styled with gel and hairspray. I could tell he was quite taken with himself when the stylist turned him around to see the results. He DOES look quite handsome. I'm anxious to learn if any of his "friends who are girls" have anything to say about it (he seems to have quite the following, including a girl who has given him--gulp--a massage).

When we got home after his haircut, he disappeared upstairs for awhile and was suspiciously quiet. When I went upstairs later, I discovered he had displayed an array of hair products on his dresser--shampoo and conditioner, a water bottle, comb, gel he had stolen from his dad. In my bathroom, I discovered he had pulled a stool up to the closet so he could get the full bottle of gel that was on the top shelf. Obviously he is SERIOUS about his hair.

The next morning, he came downstairs still in his jammies, but his hair was already slicked back. And I mean SLICKED back. Don't know how much gel is left in that bottle. Before he left for the bus stop, he had to add some more hairspray. Like I said, he is SERIOUS about his hair.

During preschool, he would often go to school with bedhead--he didn't want us to comb it, and I tried to convince myself that look gave him "character." I was choosing my battles. It was really not until the past couple weeks that he expressed any interest in his hair. Last year I tried to get him to comb it to the side, but he would just pull his bangs straight down again.

I remember my brother was several years older when he started to care about his hair, probably age 10 or 11. Until then, he was a willing "client" when I wanted to play "hairdresser." Starting around age 10, though, he would lock himself in the bathroom for what seemed like hours (at least to my 13-year-old self) to fix his hair. It apparently was a frustrating task, because I clearly remember one morning when he threw a brush at the doorframe because his hair wouldn't "go right."

While I think my son's concerns about his hair are cute now, I'm afraid this is an ominous signal of things to come. Considering his "elementary angst," I'm going to prepare myself for some meltdowns related to his lovely locks. I'm also going to get ready to spend more on hair products. I might need to buy some stock in Suave.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Birthday Post

I have read many bloggers' long, heartfelt posts written in honor of their children's birthdays. Reminisces about the day they were born, their first steps, their first day at school. Attempts at putting into words how much they love their children, how they could not imagine their lives without them. So I'm just going to cut to the chase: I love my daughter to pieces and cannot even contemplate a life without her in it. Okay, sappiness over.

My little lady is 3 today. Three going on 13. I'm sure many parents out there would agree that age 3 is much worse than 2. At 3, they are even more stubborn, and although you can reason with them, their tantrums are bigger and bolder. My daughter is also sassy with a capital S. The other day my mom told her she was cute. "No, Mimi, I'm not cute--I'm beautiful." Okaaay, then.

Three-year-olds' desire for independence is more challenging because they actually CAN do some of the things they want to do on their own--but it makes a mess, or is potentially dangerous, or takes FOREVER. It's hard to find a happy medium between encouraging their independence and taking over because you just don't have time to wait--or don't want to clean up after them. For example, my princess has started to climb up on the "big potty" on her own. I thought she had been doing pretty well, until I sat down on a wet toilet seat yesterday. My husband was quick to note it was not HIS fault.

Last week she was climbing into the car by herself. I was trying to be patient, even when she insisted that I turn around and not watch her climb in. I gave her 30 seconds, but when I turned around, she was in her brother's seat. I raised my voice, and she burst into tears. Hours later, she told my mom that I had yelled, but she admitted that she had not been listening. I hope she toughens up before I REALLY have to discipline her!

So 3-year-olds are challenging. But they are also loads of fun. My daughter and I have conversations now. They sometimes involve imaginary friends and Disney princesses, but that's okay. She likes girly things that I also enjoy--nail polish, jewelry, clothes. She primps in front of the mirror just like me. She even turns around so she can check out her back view, which is cute at this age (not so much for image-obsessed teenagers).

Of course, there is much more. Such as: "Mommy, will you snuggle with me?" "Mommy, I like your necklace." "Mommy, this book makes me SO happy." "I love you SO MUCH, Mommy." You get the picture.

My own picture would not be complete without my little princess. Happy 3rd birthday, baby girl.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Elementary Angst

So can 7-year-old boys get PMS? Like, every other day? Overall my son is a sweet, funny and all-around good kid. But he has moments of emotional turmoil that would put the most PMS-y teenage girl to shame.

He has been obsessed with hotels lately. We had a houseguest a couple weeks ago, and he added some "amenities" to her room--extra towels, magazines (with a bookmark!), pad and pencil, etc. I had already put a candy dish in the room, but he added Skittles on the pillows :). It was totally adorable, and fortunately my friend appreciated his efforts. This morning, he tried to turn my bedroom into a hotel room. He made my bed (awesome!). He put lotion samples on my dresser (wonderful!). He nicely placed bath towels and washcloths in different parts of the room (which I will have to put back later, but whatever...).

But then he tried to move things on my dresser to a different location, under the guise of cleaning up. I asked him not to, and he burst into tears. I explained that those things were there for a reason. He pointed out those things had been there "for years" and that they probably really belonged somewhere else. Well, he may be right, but when I'm rushing around in the morning looking for something the last place I left it--even if it might technically "belong" somewhere else--and I can't find it, I won't be a happy camper. So I asked him not to move the items in order to ensure future peace. He sniffled for awhile longer, refused to eat breakfast, and then got upset all over again when his hair wasn't quite right. As soon as he was on his way out the door to the bus stop, though, he was fine.

Another incident occurred on Monday night. I kept my cool until he told me I was the worst mom in the world; then he got sent to his room. Of course I'm not a perfect parent. But what I did on Monday was far from heinous. Actually, I didn't do anything at all, and my son still managed to blame everything on me (I swear he is going to be a lawyer or a politician). I was joking with him on the way home from day care and said he better remind his dad about Mother's Day. He started to whine about not knowing what to get me. He said he had a good idea, but he did not know if his dad could help. He came out and told me the idea, and I told him how his dad could assist him. He wanted to put together a special photo album, so I said I would explain to his dad how to get pictures printed (of course he could figure it out on his own--but I would make it easier for everyone involved by giving him my password to my photo account, etc.). I guess my son does not have much faith in his father, because he became convinced he could not do it. And that became my fault--because I did not "teach" my husband how to order pictures from our Walmart photo account. A flurry of tears ensued. This exchange occurred during a 10-minute car ride.

So we get home, and Alex starts scurrying around and says he's putting together an early Mother's Day gift in the office. I am not permitted to enter. But then he needs me to find something for him--something that's in the office. I cover my eyes and walk blindly to the closet in the office. I turn around so I cannot see what Alex is working on, find what he needs, cover my eyes, and leave the room. But Alex is convinced I saw what he was doing. Then he realizes his removal of an item from the kitchen was a clue to his gift. Again, this was all my fault. Hot, angry tears ensued.

He must have wanted to really blame me for everything, because he asked me if I remembered our conversation the other day about hiding his sister's birthday gifts. He wanted to know how I managed to hide gifts from him. Of course I did not tell him. So on Monday night, during his crying fit, he said I was at fault because I did not tell him how to hide gifts from other people. And that made me the worst mom in the world. Oy.

Maybe he will get all this angst out of his system now and his teenage years will be a piece of cake. Or maybe I'll just keep dreaming.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Skinny Knee

Yesterday my husband took our daughter to opening day at a local (and very small) amusement park. Rides were free for the first two hours, but the hubby shelled out some cash to stay longer--because our daughter LOVES to ride. She is just barely 36 inches, which means she could go on a number of "big kid" rides--like the Himalaya. The one that goes around in a circle very fast, in the dark, with music blaring. Apparently she loved it (except for the music--she said it hurt her ears).

I personally HATE rides. I think I have been on 2-3 roller coasters in my entire life (but I'm only 22, so I guess that's not really a big deal :) ). I have passed that "hate" on to my son. He likes to stick to the kiddie rides, although he's getting too big for them. He's probably the only 7-year-old who says EPCOT is his favorite Disney park.

While at the amusement park, the little lady tripped and skinned her knee. When she got home, she kept talking about her "skinny knee." She sounds so cute talking about her "skinny knee" that I don't bother to correct her. Now if her subject and verb did not agree, that would be a different story. No poor grammar in our house--3-year-olds included.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Why "In a Minute"

Whoa, two posts in two minutes! That's because I forgot to address the title of my blog. Like most moms, I say "in a minute" A LOT. Maybe even more than I swear. For better or for worse, those three little words sort of sum up my parenting. I guess it's better than saying "no" all the time, right?

Start Me Up

Well, I did it. I started a blog. Saying "I did it" makes me think of Dora repeating those words because she went over the river and through the woods and found the super-special smiley star, or something similarly insipid (yeah for alliteration!).

Yes, this is another "mommy blog." I don't have a problem with that label, considering I plan to blog primarily about the joys of motherhood. Work is off-limits, unless I spy a particularly heinous fashion faux pas in the vicinity of my office. That is the closest I will get to talking about work.

Many people have told me I should start a blog after reading my Facebook status updates. Yes, I try to make them funny. Now I hope I can bring the funny for a couple paragraphs at a time. Shouldn't be a problem, considering I have a 7-year-old son obsessed with disco and tie-dyed socks, and a 3-year-old daughter with a slew of imaginary friends who get into all sorts of trouble (shout out to Zia!).

Thanks for stopping by!