Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bossa Mama

The Brazilian style of music "Bossa Nova" can literally be translated into English as "new trend". If you're not familiar with the loungy style made popular in the late 1950's, think "The Girl from Impanema", but a newer trend in the soft, smooth Bossa Nova music is to cover harder, rougher bands. My sister-in-law introduced me to this genre a while back and now I have albums like "Bossa N Roses" and "Bossa N Ramones" in my collection. I love music in the kitchen when I'm cooking and listening to a lounge-lizard version of "Welcome to the Jungle" or "Used to Love Her" just makes me smile.

The first day I had the music in my repertoire, my kids were at the kitchen table for all of five seconds before they identified the Bossa Nova styled lyrics as Guns N' Roses. And five seconds later they were singing along. Astonishing. The songs in Bossa Nova form are almost unrecognizable unless you really pay attention to the lyrics. That would mean that my kids not only heard the music, which through extensive testing I have proven their hearing is quite perfect, but they actually listened, a skill for them I had almost given up on.

If my kids could register the mellow Bossa Nova lyrics, is it possible my kids could listen to me without me yelling? Could I actually get a response from them by just speaking to them, instead of yelling? The yelling in my house has gotten a little out of control. I'm at a point where no one listens to me unless I'm raising my voice, and I often don't bother with a calm voice and skip right to yelling to save time. But maybe its not too late. Maybe I could start a new trend in our house. It would be so much nicer to start the day calmly asking my children to get their shoes and coats on for school. And I wouldn't be hoarse before 9am.

My new mom trend started this week. Monday morning I sweetly called to my 7 year old giving him a warning that we needed to leave for the school bus soon. I followed that up five minutes later with calm speaking voice instructions to get his shoes on. Both times my son acknowledged that he heard me, but he still didn't listen. With two minutes to spare before the bus would be rolling up, I found myself yelling and he finally came running to the door to put his shoes on and grab his bag and coat. As he was tearing down the driveway trying to put his coat on while holding his back-pack, I realized this new trend is not really going to work. In Brazil, "bossa" can also be defined as a natural ability; you can do something with "bossa". I clearly do not have the bossa to herd my children with a calm voice. I'm going to keep trying to reduce my volume, but the fact is, my voice is just background music for them.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Well Played

Are personality traits like "forgetfulness" and "lateness" genetic? I'm afraid they are and my oldest son is displaying these characteristics, just like his father. To sum it up: my husband is physically incapable of arriving anywhere on time and when he does get there, he has undoubtedly forgotten at least one thing. My 7 year old is following in his footsteps.

Last Monday I picked my son up from school like I do every Monday so we can get to his tennis lesson on time after school. I waited 10 minutes after the final bell of the day for him to finally show up at the door. He had no explanation for why he was so late other than he had to walk from his classroom and it "took him awhile". It took 10 minutes longer than usual, but for no reason. As a result, we were late for tennis and missed the first 10 minutes of the clinic. When we got home from tennis and I was unpacking his school bag, I discovered he had left his lunch box and thermos at school. I wasn't all that surprised, but I was annoyed.

When my husband came home, I mentioned to him that our 7 year old had "your kind of day" today. I went on to explain that first he was late leaving school which made him late for tennis, and then he also left his lunch box at school and he's not sure where. My husband laughed and asked, "Did you yell at him?" I admitted that I may have, I was annoyed. To which my husband added, "Good, then he had the full experience of one of my days". Touche. Well played.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Walking Late

I have one true thing that I can't stand about my husband. Just one, but it drives me crazy. He's chronically late. And his lateness makes me late, which drives me further insane. Before I was part of "we", I was always on time. Now we can't ever seem to be anywhere on time and I blame him. For him, five minutes late is "on-time" and is usually cause for celebration. I'm pretty sure if it wasn't for me reminding him its time to leave, he would never actually leave. Its become his signature; he's always late.

Its no surprise that my best friend is also notoriously late. I seem to attract late people. My best friend is at least predictable though. I can firmly count on an hour past whatever time she swears she will be there. And I've learned that when she calls me from "Oaks" on her way, she is really just pulling out of her driveway, still a good 20 minutes from the Oaks exit. But, she does always call while I'm waiting for her. In fact, she usually calls several times to let me know while I'm waiting that she's still not there - Thanks. My husband does the same thing to me when I'm waiting for him. His patented move is to call me when he should be arriving to tell me that he hasn't left yet.

But that's the thing. All this mobile technology at our fingertips allows people to no longer really care that they're late. They can always just call or text that there's a delay. We've all done it in those scenarios where the unexpected happens and we're held up. But I think chronically late people take advantage of being able to communicate that they're late. There's no sense of urgency that they are keeping someone waiting. I've never seen my husband or my best friend rush because they were running late. Its more like they are just walking late, and they'll call ahead to let you know that they won't be there on time. Apparently in the minds of tardy people, a text or phone call telling you they are late is as good as being on time.

I read an article recently in The Wall Street Journal, "Sick of This Text: 'Sorry, I'm Late'". I was happy to see that finally someone else identified a problem here. But the article was of little help to people on the waiting end of chronic lateness. According to the article, my husband and my best friend both have "T.E.D." - Time Estimation Disorder. But there's little treatment for this affliction, other than better planning. My husband read the article and recognized that he has this disorder, but has not attempted any of the suggested tips. The article also listed "Coping Strategies" for those of us waiting for late people. Unfortunately, I've already tried most of these strategies. I've lied about the start time and I've also just plain left without my late people. But to no avail, late people just don't see a real reason to try to change. The only "Coping Strategy" left is to just love them, flaws and all. Because they will still walk in whenever they get there. And in the mind of a late person, if they got the message to you on time that they are late, are they really late?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Everything but the Kitchen Sink

I'm hosting Thanksgiving this year. I love hosting anything, period. And I'm the type of host, drink in hand, that is ready 30 minutes before you walk through the door. Its the day before Thanksgiving and I am ready, or I was on my way to being ready. The table is set, the flowers are arranged, the sides are prepped, and the turkeys are chilling. I have everything, but the kitchen sink. My kitchen sink stopped functioning.

In the middle of the afternoon today while preparing the sweet potatoes and corn bread, the sink stopped draining. I immediately texted my husband, "Who should I call?". His response was, "I'll come home early and fix it". An hour later, as the pile of dirty pots and pans was increasing and the standing water level in the sink was not decreasing, I texted him again with my fear that we might need to call someone else and its the night before a big holiday. I was met with, "I'll come home now". He came home from work early, but 8 hours later I was still facing the very real possibility of hosting Thanksgiving without a kitchen sink.

My husband is pretty handy. For a business minded, computer nerd, he handles most of our simple carpentry, electrical, and plumbing work around our house. We don't call "people" to fix things until my husband has at least tried first. And he's very good at fixing things, most of the time. But, there are the occasions where my husband has been known to cause a bigger problem while trying to fix a smaller one. Tonight he took apart the kitchen sink pipes and found a clog much lower in the system than he could get to. We did call a drain professional who came out in the evening to snake the drain and it seemed that the problem was solved. But when my husband put the pipes back together they started leaking under the sink. Apparently when my husband was "diagnosing" the original problem, he "may" have put a hole in a pipe. Let me just say this is not the first time he has unintentionally put a hole in a water pipe. But tonight there are no stores open for parts for him to replace the pipe, and they won't be open again until after the holiday. He just threw a plumbers wrench in my plans for being calm and prepared for Thanksgiving.

At midnight, after much arguing about who I really should have called this afternoon (he still maintains he was the right call), he finally informed me that the sink is "functional". Functional, meaning that I can use it, but the pipes are held together with plumbers putty and there is a mixing bowl and bath towel under the sink. We just need it to hold until after dinner and hopefully it will. I had no idea this morning that what I would be most thankful for this holiday is a working kitchen sink, but its officially Thanksgiving and I am.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Check Yourself

Neither of my kids naps anymore. And despite having a designated bench on every level of my house, neither of my kids have been put in a "time-out" in a long time. But my 7 year old is having one of those weekends where he's been possessed by some kind of monster. There's been a lot of excitement in our house with a new cousin being born and preparing to host Thanksgiving. The kids are excited and maybe a little off-kilter, but my 7 year old is out of control. I've been counting the hours until he goes back to school on Monday - since Friday afternoon. We still have 14 hours.

I've always sent my kids for a nap, quiet time, or a time-out for them to gain a little control over their behavior. But telling my "too cool" 7 year old that he needs to take a nap, or that he needs to sit on the time-out bench is only met with more monster growls. I know he thinks he's getting too old for these tactics, but I also know that he needs some alone time to check himself. After his latest misstep this afternoon, I sent him to his room and told him to, "Go check yourself before you wreck yourself". He looked at me like he might have had something to say, but instead just smiled and went upstairs to his room. He got the message that he needed some alone time without any complaints. Its essentially the same message as "take a time-out", but apparently in a language a too old, too cool 7 year old will accept. I wonder if he also got the message after falling asleep for 2 hours, that he's not too old to nap?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Poison Apple

Apple is poisoning my marriage. My husband, who has never worshiped at the temple of Steve Jobs, surprisingly came home this week with an iPad. He's a technology guy, but he's always despised the Apple culture. And now suddenly, I think I have a convert on my hands - I'm not happy about it. Our marriage is pretty strong, but this device might just do us in.

I've dealt with my husband's ongoing Blackberry addiction for years. Because of the Blackberry we have rules in our house to keep the "beeple-bopping" to a minimum. You don't walk in the house texting/emailing, you don't resume prior texting/emailing until you have greeted everyone in the room, and you don't stand at the kitchen counter texting/emailing while life goes on around you. The kitchen is a strict no "beeple-bopping" zone. My husband, despite his long term addictive relationship with his Blackberry, has adhered to the house rules. He gets that his family doesn't want to watch him stand around checking emails. When he's home, he's on our time.

But this new piece of technology has entered into our house and the rules have been forgotten - I'm starting to despise it. The iPad has been here for just two days and it has already affected all of us. The first morning the dog didn't get his walk because my husband was too busy playing with his new toy before work. After work that day, I found my husband standing at the kitchen counter, in complete violation of the rules, glued to his iPad screen. He hadn't even taken his coat off yet. That evening I couldn't pry all three of my boys away from its alluring screen, despite it being homework and bath time. And after the kids went to bed, my husband brought his new friend to our evening ritual of sitting together catching up with a glass of wine - I don't like the threesome. After being thoroughly annoyed by him only wanting to talk about the iPad, I finally left and went to bed alone. I got up later and I'm pretty sure I caught him curled up on the couch asleep with the iPad. I'm giving this new thing a week to lose its novelty. After that its me or the iPad. Only one of us, the one without an apple imprinted on them, will have full reign of the house; unless my husband wants to keep sleeping on the couch.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Adoption Story

Have you ever considered what your kids tell the outside world about you? You know, the things kids say at school when you're not there. We all have arguments or mishaps at home that we think we're keeping in the family, but then we send our kids off to school or a friend's house and stories get told. Kids don't have filters.

Our preschool director always starts off Parents' Night by assuring us that they only believe half of what is said around the snack table, as she hopes we will do the same at the dinner table. Kids have healthy imaginations and a love for story telling. They also have an eerily keen sense of hearing when they want to and a propensity for repeating what they've heard.

In the preschool car line awhile back, my older son's teacher popped her head in the front of the car to share a funny story from the day. The word "adopted" had come up during class and she had asked if anyone knew what the word meant. One little girl immediately raised her hand. She confidently shared that "adopted" is what happens when your family no longer wants you; they give you to another family. Huh, I wonder if there were some threats made recently in that household? But concerning my son, the teacher told me that when the little girl gave her definition, my son's jaw dropped. And he then became visibly upset at the idea of "adoption". I didn't think I had ever used that threat on him; its a good one, but kind of harsh. But this story definitely had me thinking back through his week long wave of bad behavior. What exactly did I say to him when none of my usual punishments were working? Whatever you say to your kids, you have to be okay with it being broadcast to the public, because kids really will say the darndest things.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Old Crowe Parenting Show

Do you remember a time, way back before you had kids, when you promised yourself you would be a "cool" parent? You would be different. You were never going to become a dull boring grown-up just because you had kids. I remember briefly getting to know a friend's parents in college and thinking they were the coolest parents I'd ever met. They liked The Grateful Dead and by the time I met them, had spent years following their music. In my 20 year old mind, they were the coolest. I didn't think they were cool just because they liked The Dead, because I'm not sure I really liked The Dead then, but rather because this part of them didn't change just because they became parents. In other words, not only did they not subscribe to raising their child listening to Raffi, but they had some cool stories involving music while parenting. And as parents, I'm pretty sure they influenced my friend in a positive way with their taste in music.

I saw The Black Crowes last night at the same venue my husband and I first saw them back in high-school, with the same group of friends we've seen most of their shows with. And today I'm asking myself if I kept my promise. Am I a cool parent? Two decades ago, when I started following a new band called The Black Crowes, I would have hoped that I would still be cool enough to follow them into parenthood. And although life changes in many ways when you start having kids, this part of my life has never changed. Reminiscing with my friends last night before the concert, counting into double digits the number of Crowes' shows we've seen, I think we've all carried this part of our cool over into this parenting show. And we've got the stories, even guitar picks, to back us up.

I'm not going to crow and say we're cool just because we go to concerts. Maybe we're not. But if we thought we were cool before we had kids, not much has changed. We've kept this part of our lives and even incorporated it into our parenting - our kids know The Crowes, even if a lot of the world doesn't. My kids first heard them live in utero, as I was trying not to breathe the air around me too deeply, and my friends' kids knew all their lyrics before graduating preschool. Despite my Crowe-loving friends and I all having kids now, we've seen the same number of shows since our kids were born as we did before. True, last night we all made that last train home, but there have been plenty of recent shows that mirrored the early tours. And I hope there will be many more. Whenever The Crowes come back from their hiatus, during which they will be spending time parenting their own kids, we'll pick up where we left off. It doesn't matter when it is, or even if we're all a bunch of old crows. Maybe our kids will even think we're cool enough to join us someday.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Living in Oblivion

Is it wrong that I get most of my news from Facebook? When I had a career before kids, I used to start my day sitting in my office reading the news online, browsing around CNN, Yahoo, and ABC news sites. I certainly don't have the time to start my day like that now, but Facebook makes it easy with trending topics right there, updated constantly on my homepage, and available to view on my phone throughout the day. The downside of course is that you have to hope your pool of "friends" have newsworthy posts. I do have to scroll through the Farmville and "what my kid did today" posts to see some good topics, but they are there and easily accessible. And my "news" may be more biased to sports and entertainment popular culture than global events, but its better than being oblivious to anything outside of preschool and the first grade.

Before Facebook, I spent a good deal of my motherhood living in oblivion. Its pretty easy to opt out of the news outside of your house when very little of that seems to affect the children filled microcosm within. I just didn't care enough to spend any time seeking news. When my kids were little, my focus wasn't so much on the national economy, as it was on the economy of parenting; managing the constant feedings and diaper changes, and bartering for naps. Wars in distant places weren't forefront in my mind as much as my children beating on each other in the playroom; I guess I needed some peace here before I really wanted to think about peace on a larger scale. I openly admit there have been whole days, sometimes weeks, that I've been completely oblivious to any news outside of my door. But in my defense, I'm not a complete idiot, I've always caught up. I'm just usually a few days late in digesting the week's news.

I'm sure my husband thought I was becoming an idiot. That his Ivy League educated wife was choosing to live in a hole. He'd start off a conversation sarcastically saying, "You wouldn't know this because it was the headline news all day today, but . . ." He used to try to keep me current by circling articles in the paper for me to read and leaving them on the counter. And then he moved on to just dropping The Wall Street Journal in front of me on his way out the door saying, "Here, get smart". But the fact is, with Facebook I now know current events before he does. I knew Michael Jackson died within minutes of the press releasing the news, and I was the one who broke the news to my husband that McNabb was leaving the Eagles, his beloved Eagles. I didn't get this news from the AP, but rather FB. Amongst the daily horoscopes and gaming high scores, there are also mentions of earthquakes, floods, and trapped miners. Maybe its not quite right that I use Facebook as an actual news source, but it does seem to keep me informed and for now its better than no news at all. And now I get to say to my husband, "You wouldn't know this because you never check Facebook, but . . ."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Power of the Nap

Life has been busy since the start of school in September; long days, late nights, and busy weekends. I've been treading water, so to speak, for weeks now. But after weeks of over-extending myself on too little sleep, with no break in sight for weeks to come, I felt like I was going under a little. The treading was getting tiring and I felt like I was starting to drown. So, today I took myself out of the pool and took a nap.

That's right, a nap. I got the kids off to school and marched right back upstairs and back underneath the down comforter. By 9am this morning, I was back in bed for a much needed 3 hour nap. I did feel guilty at the idea and there was a lot of debate in my head this morning as to whether a nap was really acceptable, or whether I should just power on with the day. But in the end, the rainy weather was the winning point in favor of a nap; never mind another obvious point was that after only 3 hours into my day I was already physically out of power. I still felt guilty, but that lasted only minutes until I was sound asleep. I obviously was at a breaking point and my body needed a nap. Guilt gone and power restored.

So why don't we take more naps? Why aren't grown-up naps more accepted in our culture? Other countries and cultures have mid-day breaks and siestas. But I've only ever napped before when I've been deathly ill. Why wait until we are so beat down? We beg, plead, and force our kids to nap. We know our children physically need a nap when they are cranky and melting, and we see the restorative powers of a good nap. I was melting this morning and what I needed was a good nap. And if I put off getting that needed sleep any longer, I probably would be deathly ill by the end of the week. So, I'm not only admitting that I napped today, but I'm advertising it. Naps are a powerful thing and more people should be doing it.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The 7 Year Itch

Today is my baby's birthday. Seven years ago today, I became a mom for the first time to the most perfect little baby boy. Perfect little face, perfect little body, and perfect little skin. What I didn't know seven years ago was that his perfect baby skin would one day turn on him. By a year old my son was diagnosed with eczema and although its not constant, seven years later we are still dealing with seasonal flares and sensitive skin.

Two weeks ago, with the start of Fall, my son had his usual eczema flare. And as with each flare he's ever had, there were red patches on the back of his legs, uncomfortable itching, and crying. Its so hard as a mother to see my perfect child in tears dealing with his body that isn't quite perfect. He cries and he yells because he's so angry that his skin does this. He tells me he hates his skin and he wishes he had different skin. What do I say to him? And how can I not feel responsible? I did make him after all. But I don't have any answers for why this is happening to him. No one else in our family has eczema and he has no food allergies or asthma. I just want to tell him that "I'm sorry", but that doesn't fix it and it doesn't stop his itch.

This week his sensitive skin reacted to something he came in contact with. We still don't know what it was. Wednesday the rash started and by Friday he was covered head to toe with itchy red bumps. It was on his scalp, in his ears, and even in his belly button. Happy Birthday. The poor kid couldn't sleep because even Benadryl wouldn't touch this beast. His doctor couldn't firmly diagnose the cause, but he's not contagious. Great, but he's still itching. He's had 7 years of an itch. Every year I hope that he will finally outgrow this, but this week has proven we are still very much dealing with this. And I think after 7 years, I'm no longer dealing with his pain all that well; we're both in pain. I just want his skin to be normal. I guess that's my birthday wish for him this year. For now, I'm smattering him with kisses and Aquaphor, and feeding him birthday cake with a side of Prednisone. I'm hoping the rash will fade soon, but each one of these flares leaves a scar on me.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Its Not Just a Title

There was quite a bit of buzz this summer about the NY Magazine article "All Joy and No Fun: Why Parents Hate Parenting". When I first read the title, I empathized. What parent, myself included, hasn't wondered at some point, "Why is this not fun?" I've been there. I was there by myself this weekend when my husband was away for a "boys weekend". There being those moments that you want to be anywhere but here with your fighting, whining, crying kids. But then I read the article and I got annoyed. I wasn't annoyed completely by the author, there are a lot of valid points about the evolution of parenting, but I was annoyed by the complaints about the grunt work of parenting. The article mentions research showing "parents are not happier than their childless peers". But, is childbearing supposed to automatically make us happy? I mean, is it really advertised as fun? The article says, "Most people assume that having children will make them happier." I certainly did not assume that. I don't remember anyone ever telling me that parenting was going to be easy, let alone fun.

Being a parent definitely has its rewarding moments and there are times that I do feel a blissful happiness staring into those little faces. But, I'll be honest, there have been stretches of time where its rough. There's different stages with kids and each stage brings new positives and negatives; you kind of have to just roll with it. Unfortunately, in our progressive, self-help, self-improving society, we have trouble with things not always being dreamy. We've become so accustomed to being pro-active problem solvers that we're no longer willing to accept anything less than perfect. We've managed to take the role of parenting, which has been around literally forever, and created an unrealistic unattainable expectation for today's parents. Becoming parents is no longer just human nature keeping the species alive. It can now be viewed as a choice, not a necessity; and if you chose to do something, shouldn't you expect it to make you happy? It then becomes upsetting and I guess disappointing when its not perfect. The idea of parenting has evolved and the expectations of parenting have changed.

If you've read the article, you know it touches on several different points about why parents are feeling unhappy today. One brilliant surveyor found that women ranked "childcare" very low on a list of pleasurable things to do; choices that included, among others, exercising, napping, and shopping. Is it really odd that a tired mother when asked might rank a nap higher than childcare? Is that not an expected answer? Besides changing what we expect to feel like as parents, we've also changed how we parent and one directly correlates to the other. Our generation spends an exhausting amount of our time on our kids, fundamentally changing how parents raise children. We spend all of our time shaping our children into perfectly well-rounded individuals, grooming them for their future, that we leave very little time for ourselves. And then we feel guilty for wanting to take a nap. Where did this expectation come from that we as parents shouldn't want to do anything for ourselves? Do our increased sacrifices for our children make us better parents, or just tired unhappy people?

Regardless of how parenting has evolved, one thing remains the same: its not just a title. Its a responsibility, its a job, and it always has been and always will be work. There is joy and there is happiness, but as with any job, it can't be expected to be fun all the time. Maybe instead of complaining about the unhappy daily work of parenting, this is a time to power up that activism. Take the onus of parental happiness off of our children and do something for ourselves. Our own impossible expectations are what is making us unhappy. Its okay to find parenting challenging and it is definitely okay to carve out some time for yourself. That title "parent", entitles you to a break sometimes.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mr. September

So we're back here again, this time of year again. And no, I don't mean back to school. Towards the end of the summer, the Phillies started doing what they now seem to do towards the end of every summer; they started playing well, really well. After one of those wins, my husband turned to me and said, "You know what this means, right? You can count me out for September". Right. So we're back here again. Here, where almost every night is game night and my husband belongs to Mr. September, not to me. Where he has way more time for his team than for me. Where he hears every word the announcers say, and zero of what I say. I get it, but it seems like we just left here in June when we said good-bye to Lord Stanley's Cup.

Don't get me wrong, I am a Phillies Phan. And I truly am a Philadelphia fan. I would never dream of rooting for another city's team, even when I lived there for years and while they made it to the World Series - sorry Giants. But really, I have to ask, does my husband really think he has any impact on the team by watching every second of every game? Does he really think the Phillies won the World Series because he watched the same TV, from the same spot, on the same couch, wearing the same shirt for each win? I already know the answer to this, and that is the root of my complaint. Just like I'm certain none of the Philadelphia franchise teams can hear him cheering or swearing at them through the TV, they also don't even know he's watching. So really, I don't think they'd mind if he took his eyes off the game for one minute to actually listen to something I have to say.

But, I know how this goes. Its September and the Phillies are ahead. I also know how this story should go, and unfortunately for me, my husband should have added, "You can also count me out for October". And then I'm sure we'll see where the Eagles are.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Island Time

School started back up this week for both of my kids. Friends asked me if I was sad to put my 6 year old on the bus and drop my 4 year old off for his last year of preschool. Yes I was sad, but not because they are a year older. I had that minor break-down last fall when my first baby started Kindergarten and I'm sure I'll have another slightly bigger break-down next year when my last baby gets on the bus. This year my sadness came from nothing more than summer ending. My kids were excited to go back to school, I was not. I was pleading with summer to last just a little longer.

I experimented this summer vacation with just hanging out with my kids and not putting them in any camps. And while I'll be honest, not every day was a picnic, it was a vacation. I was relaxed. What I realized this week is that with the start of school, there is the return of that nervous feeling. I feel nervous when my kids aren't with me. I'm not nervous that something bad is going to happen to them at school, but I feel like something is missing. My kids are missing from my side, my sight. And I have a constant feeling that I need to check my phone in case the school is trying to reach me. Added to that is all of the information I need to keep in my head again for my two kids regarding their schools, activities, and generally very busy lives. I feel the weight of being a responsible adult; an adult responsible for other people.

I spent most of the month of August at the beach with my kids within eyesight. My phone spent most of August alone plugged into a wall. It was nice. I didn't need to worry about someone being able to reach me because everyone who needed me was within my view. It was nice to be able to just be with my kids and not have to answer to anyone except us. There was no bus schedule, no car line, and no morning school bell. It was just me and my kids on our own schedule, making our own rules. I didn't even need my phone for my calendar, my calendar was clear. I guess being on an island long enough actually does convert you to island time.

But my stress is back now; morning alarms are set, lunches are packed the night before, and my phone is always within reach. Its sad to be back to reality, but summers always come to an end. And every year I get reacquainted with sending my kids out into the world without me. When I got both kids to school on the first day, I took myself directly to the nail salon for a pedicure and then the coffee shop to catch up with a friend. I was no longer on island time, I had to watch the time for preschool pick-up, but it was a little therapy for my sadness and also a reminder to myself that back-to-school can't be all bad.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

No Injured/Reserve List

My husband hurts himself a lot. And that's kind of an understatement. It really is like I have a third child, who stubs his toe and cries about it on a weekly basis. My husband doesn't actually cry, but everything comes to a halt when he has a blister, or a splinter, or he stubs his toe. We are all made very aware that he has hurt himself and the world must come to a stop and focus on him. Can you imagine? I mean, can you imagine as a mom having anyone actually care that you stubbed your toe or have a splinter?

Four summers ago I had a wide-excision surgical biopsy on my right heel. If you do the math, four summers ago I also had an 8 week old infant. This surgery was by no means elective or planned and it came about rather suddenly. And just to be clear, an excision of any kind, wide or not, done on the heel of a foot is extremely painful. After the surgeon removed what she needed to, she recreated my heel by pulling the skin so tight across the sole of my foot it felt like I was trying to give birth through the bottom of my foot. It was by far the most excruciating pain I've ever felt, and I'm including in my frame of reference actually giving birth, twice.

And in all this pain, I found that the world did not stop for me; the world barely even noticed. My husband still went to work. The newborn still cried and still needed to be fed. And the potty-training 2 year old still peed all over the living-room floor. No one really noticed until my husband saw me trying to crawl up the stairs after a day of hopping around on one foot, crying like I was the baby. I was actually crying. I finally convinced him that this was debilitating pain and I needed my world to at least notice so I could heal. That night he got up for the 2am and 5am feedings and brought the baby to me so I didn't have to crawl down the hallway to the nursery. That was helpful, I guess, but I would have really liked to just sit that night out. Don't get me wrong, I was thankful for that bit of help and for anyone who stopped in during the day, but the world never paused during that time. The world just doesn't acknowledge that moms get hurt too. We just aren't allowed; its not in our contract. There's no Injured/Reserve List for moms. I'm always on the roster and expected to play when needed. Clearly my husband negotiated better terms for himself. Its much easier for him to just take himself out of the game.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Badge of Honor

Something very scary happened to a close friend of mine this week. She is probably the first good friend I made when I moved here and over the years I've come to really admire her. She is a pretty petite mom of a litter of boys and she is strong, despite her stature. She has amazing strength in managing her boys. But as I was standing next to her in the ER holding her hand, I couldn't help but notice how small she is. Her little frame was drowning in the baggy hospital gown and she looked weak and scared. As a non-working nurse, I felt helpless; she is my friend, not my patient. I had to keep making excuses to go "check on the boys", so she wouldn't see how weak I felt looking at her. And there were the boys.

In the next curtain over, there were her boys and mine camped out on a hospital bed together watching cartoons. It was a room full of boys and a room full of strength; not their actual testosterone filled strength, but rather the strength that they bring to us as their mothers. I don't like to define a mother by her children, but I'll make an exception. My friend is so much stronger than she looks because she is a mom to these big strong boys. Just the fact that she has boys, and multiple boys, is like having merit badges. When people see these boys around her, its like they see her merit badges and know what she has been through and will go through to be their mother. They see proof of her inner strength. I at least see that when I look at her. And the nurses at the hospital saw it too. As I was leaving to take the whole gang of boys out of the ER for a break, the nurse commented on how brave I was to take them all. I didn't feel brave, but I did feel strong. Being a mother is an honor, but it is something of merit as well. Even when I am feeling weak, I know that I am strong because I have my own boys, my badges, to remind me.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Not Your Mother's Swim Meet

For anyone who did not grow up on the Main Line, I need to point out a discovery I made this summer: swim meets on the Main Line are different. This summer was my older son's first summer swimming for our Country Club's team, and my first experience with this particular league. I did not grow up on the Main Line, so to say the least, its a little different from what I remember as a kid swimming.

My husband and I both swam for summer swim teams and although we did not swim for the same swim club, we swam against each other and have very similar memories of those summers. For me, summer swim meets were a giant mass of kids running around a large field in the dark waiting for their heat to be called. It was parents lined up poolside in folding chairs from home, thermoses of iced-tea or lemonade at their flip-flop clad feet. It was Ellios pizza and Swedish fish from the snack bar, and a rice crispy treat or brownie for a quarter at the parent run bake sale table. There were soggy hot dogs and orange drink; and somewhere in that mass of kids there were always Pixy Sticks, Fun Dip, or packets of Jello for sugar highs. It was casual and there was no dress code. And it was fun, but I think more fun for me than for my mother sitting there waiting for my events.

So, last year when I took my son to watch a home meet against our rival club and we were told in advance that the dress code for that meet was "Madras Plaid", I had an inkling that this kind of summer swimming might be different. But I also assumed that the sea of people in resort attire and the big dinner buffet was because it was a special rivalry meet. I never expected the meet to look like this, and I never expected as a parent to have so much fun. My son found his friends and I found a neighbor to enjoy a glass of wine with while we cheered on her kids. My husband joined us for dinner and we stayed much later than I ever would have expected since I didn't even have a swimmer on the team then. I had no idea then that this is what every meet would be like.

At my son's first home meet this year, when a well dressed staffed member politely asked me to move my bag so they could set up the bar, I knew that my son's swim meets were never going to be like his mother's. I'm not complaining, but I am marveling at the difference. I like that we are now greeted by a table of complimentary iced-tea, lemonade, and Arnold Palmers at every meet. Chairs have been set up along the deck of the pool for parents and spectators. And, I will gladly move my bag to another chair so they can set up a poolside bar. I've yet to see any kids with Jello packets, but my son is excited to get a ticket for a soggy hot dog and an ice cream after he swims. While I am glad the hot dogs still make an appearance, I'm equally glad that the full course outdoor dinner buffet shows up for every home meet. For an outsider looking in seeing nicely dressed adults milling around linen covered tables, our swim meets don't look much different than a poolside dinner or cocktail party. And for anyone inside, it pretty much is a party. But why shouldn't it be a party? It is a summer evening and we are standing around a pool after all. My kids look forward to the swim meets, and to be honest, so do I. Who knew swim meets could be so much fun?

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Demise and Rise of Adventure

I'm planning our family's first camping trip. I got a crazy idea earlier this summer that this would be the summer to initiate my kids into the world of hiking and camping. It seemed like a good idea; they are 6 and 4, out of diapers and on their way to being independent little people. They've shown some interest and I've been waiting for years to finally get back out there. My husband and I used to hike and camp quite a bit. We were pretty adventurous at times; hiking or snow-shoeing as many national parks as we could get to, driving our old Discovery on caravan trails in Hollister, and rafting the Gauley and Snake rivers. We spent most of our honeymoon hiking or off-roading our way around the islands of Hawaii. We were never crazy cliffhangers, but we had a good sense of adventure. And then we had kids.

One of our best and most amazing hikes was the Paintbrush/Cascade Canyon in the Tetons, almost exactly 8 years ago. It was a completely unplanned day of adventure. Sitting around breakfast that morning, my brother, my husband, and I made a last minute decision to day-hike a trail that some split into two days. By mid-morning we were on our way for an 8 hour, 18 mile hike crossing the Paintbrush Divide at an elevation of 10,700 feet. Looking back, that still remains one of the best experiences I've ever had and it was completely spur of the moment. Two years later we were hiking Olympic National Park, this time with a 9 month old in a back-pack. But something was definitely different; the feeding and sleeping schedule of a baby was killing our sense of adventure. We found ourselves saying, "Wouldn't it just be easier to take the shorter trail". Our sense of adventure was dying as our reality of parenthood was coming to life.

I packed away the camping gear, not being able to fathom a pack-n-play in a tent, but we continued to get out for day hikes here and there with our first son. Eventually he outgrew the backpack and we had another baby. We tried a little local hike when our kids were 3 and 1, and about 100 yards into the trail, my 3 year old announced that his legs "could not move another step". He refused to go on even with the promise of treats and we ended up carrying him back to the car. That's when the hiking boots got packed away with any last bit of adventure we might have had.

But realizing some of the things we gave up to raise our babies, has renewed some interest in adventure. I'm trying to resuscitate our sense of adventure. Maybe it didn't die, but just went dormant. Endangered, but not extinct. I hope so because I'm ready to dust off the gear and try again. I know it won't be the same as before kids; it can't be the same. My more mature parent-self now shudders at the thought that my younger-self took off on an 18 mile hike late in the morning with no plan for getting stuck on the trail past dark. Now my adventures require much more thought and planning, as evidenced by the large pile of equipment sitting in my garage waiting to be crammed into the car. I'm still not exactly sure how this camping trip is going to go, but its a start. And good or bad, it will be an adventure.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Four Quarters

Four quarters. That's it. That's the going rate for teeth in our house. And that value is up from the quarter per tooth I received as a child. My son lost two teeth this week in two days, keeping the Tooth Fairy very busy. My son seems happy enough with the dollar in change he keeps getting in exchange for his teeth, but he told me last night that someone in his class got $20 for their first tooth.

Parents, why would you do this? Why would you sabotage the rest of us by inflating the value of teeth? I mean, $20, really? What is a 6 year old going to do with $20? And that's just for the first tooth. There are 20 primary teeth that kids loose. I'm already going to be paying out $20 for teeth. I hope this other family is not actually paying $20 per tooth for all 20 teeth. Fortunately, my 6 year old is a true 6 year old and easily enamored by shiny coins. In his mind he got four shiny coins instead of just one dull piece of paper. And he has something he can actually do with his coins; put them in his piggy bank.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Shopping With Boys

I don't enjoy shopping with my two boys. Whether it be for groceries, shoes, or clothes; its just not enjoyable. They're not keen on shopping and always behave badly. So I try to stay realistic about the situation, and I try to avoid the situation whenever I can. I'll go to the grocery store any time of day, any day of the week, as long as they don't have to go with me. And I'll order whatever I can online to keep them out of the mall. But my recent back-to-school online purchases didn't fit them and needed to be exchanged. Today I found myself at the mall, doing the thing I try to avoid, shopping with boys.

What's so bad about shopping with boys? Well, my last experience with them in a department store had me standing in the middle of a lingerie department with two little boys running through racks of bras screaming "look at all of the boob holders". They were much younger then, but since then they've developed a fascination and obsession with female mannequins. I have to keep a constant eye on them so they don't start undressing the mannequins. If there aren't any mannequins catching their eye, there is usually some sort of display that does and they inevitably knock it over. And if its a really boring store, they just start wrestling each other and annoying other shoppers. Quite simply, shopping with my boys is embarrassing and frustrating. I spend so much time telling them to stop misbehaving that I can't concentrate on anything else. I lack focus, I make bad decisions, and bad purchases; and then I need to do it all over again to make returns.

Today wasn't horrible though; I've seen worse. We got through Old Navy with my kids finding the right sizes, only knocking over one display, and only molesting one mannequin. And we made it through a couple of other stores without disaster. Its still shopping with boys though. But since we were already there, I made a quick stop in Victoria's Secret for their sale. I braced myself for disruptions from my boys and quick decisions for me. But, as I stood there deciding on what colors to choose, my boys stood at my side giving me their full attention, offering their suggestions. I was almost embarrassed that they were discussing thongs, except they were behaving so well. They stood there discussing between themselves whether mom should get the black leopard print or the pink zebra. After some serious thought, they finally compromised and decided on the pink leopard print. They actually helped me, even if it was slightly embarrassing and short-lived. But this is shopping with boys. While I was paying at the register, my 6 year old knocked over a make-up display and my 4 year old started up a conversation with a mannequin. That is when this episode of shopping with boys ended.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cling Wrap

What is it about the heat of the summer that makes kids clingy? Our area has been enduring a heat wave over the past week with humid temperatures close to 100 F. Personal space is huge in heat like this, but my kids and my dog seem to need to be closer to me than ever before. A decrease in humidity usually increases static cling, but apparently an increase in humidity turns my entourage into cling wrap.

The dog decided this week that I actually am his best friend and he wouldn't leave my side. He tightly followed me around the house, his fur sticking to my legs. And if I sat down, he was right there to pant his hot sticky breath on me. I couldn't turn around without tripping on my 4 year old, who was also clinging. The kid could not get any closer without getting back inside. And my 6 year old decided in the heat that it was cool again to hug his mom. And when I say "hug", what I really mean is hang from my neck. Its just too hot for this nonsense.

Just short of carrying around a bottle of Static Guard, I did find something to break the cling. Just like true static cling, water seems to break it. The only place I found that I could get any peace, was in the pool. Generally, I'm more of a side spectator; at most maybe a leg dangler. But I found that when I got in the pool, my kids dispersed like a school of startled fish. We threw the ball back and forth, but they kept their distance and I maintained a nice radius of personal space. It was like they were afraid to come too close to mom when she's wet. My 4 year old kept marveling at the fact that I put my head all the way under. Maybe I scared them? Whatever the reason, I'm glad I broke the cling, even if just for a couple of hours. Further proof of my theory on water breaking mammal cling: its raining today, I've received zero hugs, and I haven't seen the dog in hours.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Herding Cats

This past week was Vacation Bible Camp at our church and I think I am still recovering. I've helped with this camp almost every year since we moved here and every year its a great week, but tiring. I enjoy volunteering and its not a hard job, but it is exhausting. Every year it puzzles me more and more why this camp kicks my ass. It's 3 hours a day for a week. Just 3 hours a day. Three hours of me merely herding my assigned group of kids around from one activity to the next. It seems simple enough. But this is the one week each year where I actually need an afternoon nap and I'm falling asleep before 10pm. I don't get it.

During the school year when my preschooler was in school for just under 3 hours, I felt like I did far more exhausting things in that time period. I got groceries, went to the gym, and got a run in before picking my preschooler up. And then I continued on with my afternoon herding my two kids around without feeling like I got hit by a truck that morning. So, why is herding a few extra kids around a very structured camp for the morning so tough?

Someone at the camp last year used the term "herding cats", and I agree with this description. There were a few times throughout the week that I felt like all eight kids in my group were running in different directions away from where I wanted them to be. Cats don't come when you call them. Is this what its like for teachers every day? Are my kids' teachers herding cats every school day of the year? And if it is, is this what my kids' teachers feel like at the end of each day? I gave my kids' teachers a lot of credit before, but if this is their exhaustion at the end of every school day, then they are truly under-appreciated.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

My Favorite Place

I'm traveling with my husband this week without our kids. I've left my kids before, but never for this long and I'm already missing them. The thing is, I could go to fabulous places anywhere in the world, but I think my most favorite place in the whole world is a double bed with safety rails, covered in car and airplane sheets.

Every night I tuck each of my boys into bed. I lie there with them in their beds surrounded by their stuffed animals and monster truck shaped pillows, and it is delicious. If you have kids, you know exactly what I mean by "delicious"; there's no other way to describe your beautiful children, fresh from a bath in their cozy pajamas snuggling next to you. This is our good-night ritual. We lie there in the dark and talk about the day, we tickle, and we giggle. Our "good-nights" drag out and most nights its not their fault. Rarely is it them delaying their bedtime, but me wanting just one more kiss, just one more hug, just one more story from their day. And sometimes I linger too long and they fall asleep in my arms. Its my favorite place because its our place. Sometimes its all four of us reading together and its everything I need all in one place. I'm sure I'll be thinking about my favorite place every night while I'm out seeing the world. And I'll be looking forward to coming home because my whole world really just fits in one bed.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Absent-Minded Professor

I forgot to pick my son up from school today. There, I admit it, I'm publicly stating I was a little absent-minded. And, I'll admit its one of the most harmless, yet still horrifying things that can happen. He only had to wait 15 minutes for me, but its one of the worst feelings in the world; that second when you realize that you have no idea what time it is, followed by the sudden realization you are supposed to be someplace you are not. I usually have my stuff together and these types of moments are very rare for me, but they happen. I'm only comforted by the fact that one of my dear friends had the exact same scenario happen to her last year, so I'm not the only one.

Although my son was completely safe and absolutely unaffected by me showing up 15 minutes after school was finished, I was still horrified. What is so unsettling to me is that there was a period of time that I wasn't thinking about where my kids were. There was a span of minutes that seemed to just disappear. I was sitting in front of my laptop and was watching the time on the clock display in the lower right corner, but at some point it just stopped registering. What's funny is that I got immersed in a document I was working on regarding my kids, so they were on my mind, but I still lost track of them.

On my way to go fetch my son who was patiently waiting for me in the school office, I was thinking how strange it was to have lost track of him in my mind for any period of time. I'm not sure how many minutes I have spent since my kids were conceived where I haven't had them running through my mind. I'm always running a check when they are not right there holding my hand: where are they, are they safe, do I need to be doing something for them? Its like a loop that is always on in my brain while I'm awake, and probably while I'm asleep too. There was obviously a glitch in my system today, but it made me realize just how much of my time my kids consume, literally every second. That's a lot. So, although I do not profess making a habit of being absent-minded, I'm going to stop beating myself up for today's harmless episode.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


The school year is coming to a close and every conversation I have had recently has started off with, "So where are your kids going to camp?" The norm on the Main Line is to send your kids to day camp for part of the summer, if not the whole summer. So, I've been confusing everyone when I answer that my kids aren't really going to camp this year. My 4 year old is doing one week while my 6 year old is finishing school, but after July 1st, we have zero weekday plans. Yes, that's right, I have an entire summer pretty much unplanned. And for the one person that actually said to me, "Oh, I'm sorry", I did that on purpose.

Its not that I'm opposed to camp. We've done lots of camps in past summers and it does provide a nice structure and a respite from having the kids home all the time. And if you're a working parent, camp is necessary to replace school and keep the kids occupied. But, as a stay-at-home mom I am really craving a break from structure. I don't want to have to be anywhere. I'd really like to just sleep in when we're tired, go for a walk when we feel like it, and take some spur of the moment day-trips when the weather is great. Camp is too much like school - we're rushing around every morning trying to get out the door and in the evening my kids are too exhausted to stay up much past dinner. No, I'd rather deal with the possible scenario of quarreling kids for the possibility of lazy morning breakfasts on the patio and staying up late to catch lightening bugs. Those are some fond memories of my childhood summers, without camp. And honestly, I'll assume the risk of my kids annoying me and each other if it means I don't have to pack lunches or unpack back-packs all summer.

So yes, I've gotten a few crazy looks when I reveal my plan for the summer. And I fully acknowledge that I may actually be a little crazy after a full summer with my kids at home, but I'll take my chances. Its just a summer and summers go by fast. I read a quote once, "The only thing more fleeting than summer is childhood". I'm keeping that quote close to my heart this summer as I soak up my children.

Friday, May 28, 2010

A Wife

I think I would like a wife. I don't mean in a Big Love polygamy or some other lesbian way, but I mean I need someone to help me while I am managing the constant responsibility of my family and household. Someone to help me take care of myself while I am taking care of everyone else. I have to give credit to a friend who jokingly said that she asks her husband every Christmas and birthday to get her a wife. Sadly, he's never gotten her one, but I really like her idea. And just this week I heard Oprah say that what moms really need are wives. If Oprah endorsed it, I think the idea is about to catch on.

I told my husband that I want a wife and he responded, "What you want is a personal assistant. You don't want a wife, trust me". Huh. That's funny, but I don't think just a personal assistant is going to do. A personal assistant could quit too easily when frustrated; there's not the same level of commitment. Only a wife can deal with an entire family yelling at her that they do not need jackets. And when that family later puts on the jackets that the wife brought anyway, she accepts that no one acknowledges that she was right or thanks her. Most assistants would have quit after the first day. I suppose I could quit too, but luckily for my husband, this wife puts up with the comments made under his breath about "nagging" when she is merely reminding him of everything he is forgetting. No, the key word here is "wife".

A lot of my responsibility falls under the "mom" job description, but a "wife" encompasses that. A wife has to keep track of and take care of all the kids, the actual children and the husband. Its all the details, the what's due and when. Its the what time and where. Its the remembering the jackets, drinks, hats, snacks, and sunscreen. I doubt I will ever actually get a wife to keep track of and take care of me, but I'm keeping the idea on my wish-list. It would be nice to just once show up somewhere without any thought and have everything that I need, even the things I didn't know I needed, there for me. I'd like to experience once what the rest of my family experiences on a daily basis.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Hangover

I'm in the midst of planning a GNO - a girls night out. I get together with my best friend once or twice a year to go out without husbands or kids. I'm not sure what's funnier: how far in advance we have to plan in order to get our schedules synced for a night out, or the fact that I will spend the majority of my big night out drinking water. Times have changed and club soda greatly outnumbers any other drinks I have in the course of an evening. But as one of my other friends put it so well, "It only takes one hangover with kids to make you NEVER want to do that again; its just not worth it".

So, true. After a night out, there's nothing quite like waking at 6am to your kids crying and realizing that your head is pounding and you're on duty. Or the wisdom that you really can't curl up in a ball in the corner of the couch; you will NOT be left alone. This is true wisdom; the kind that will reform you. As a parent, you're expected to be at a high functioning level at all times, regardless of how you feel. Not only is no one going to bring you a pizza and cheese fries in the morning, but your kids will expect you to be upright and feeding them breakfast. I learned early on, and with this golden knowledge guiding me, I now stick to a very strict drink limit. It only took me one time of parenting after spending the night at a concert to learn my lesson. Its just not worth it.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Any Given Sunday

I proposed last year that Mother's Day should be a day to spend without the kids; a day for peace and pampering. So how did I spend my Mother's Day this year? At Disney World with my kids, my husband, my in-laws, and thousands of annoying people with double strollers pushing around tired whining kids. Yes, I know, I didn't follow through with my plan. But last spring shortly after Mother's Day, I struck a deal with my 3 year old. I told him I would take him to Disney World to meet Mickey Mouse if he would lose the diapers. He potty trained himself the following day, in one day, and then wanted to know when we were leaving. He's been a trooper and has patiently waited almost a year for us to fit this trip into our schedule. So that is how I ended up at Disney World on Mother's Day.

I guess I sacrificed my Mother's Day for this trip. And it was a trip that I wasn't really looking forward to. I don't like crowds, I don't like people pushing strollers in crowds, and I don't like being held hostage to amusement park lines and awful food. In addition, Disney World is like Vegas for kids; it seems to never sleep and neither do the kids. Kids are up at all hours, which is very different than my usual parenting style. As for Mother's Day, there was a quick gift exchange with my kids earlier in the week before we left for the airport, but that was the extent of us observing Mother's Day. Sunday morning I pulled out the cards I had packed and reminded my kids and my husband to wish my mother-in-law a Happy Mother's Day, but this didn't trigger any of them to wish me one, not even my husband.

I have to say though, I was pleasantly surprised by how much fun our trip was, especially since I didn't peg myself or my husband as "Disney people". But I guess Disney really is a magical place because I wasn't bothered by any issues. Maybe it was my husband conquering the FASTPASS system, or the fact that we walked so much I could have eaten my shoe. But maybe it was just seeing the joy and excitement through the eyes of my children that made it so magical. Nothing beats riding Thunder Mountain with your kids in the dark at 10:30pm (yes, we gave in to the Vegas style parenting). I turned around on our climb up the track to look at my 3 year old with Magic Kingdom lit up behind him. He had his little hands in the air, thumbs up, smiling, and ready to ride "no-hands" for the 6th or 7th time on this ride. With my equally excited 6 year old at my side, I knew then that this might actually be one of the best Mother's Days yet. A reminder that any given Sunday, not just Mother's Day, I have the privilege of viewing the world with them; and that can be pretty magical.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Just Do It

I've got the jitters. I'm a little nervous about my first 10-miler coming up this weekend. I've trained and I think I'm more than ready to run the distance, but there's so much more that I hadn't thought about. There's so much more to running a race that I guess I didn't know about or didn't know I should care about. When you identify yourself as a novice runner, anyone who has ever run a race before becomes an expert and everyone has some piece of advice. Over the past month, I've received countless pieces of unsolicited advice on "philosophies" and "strategies" of running. I have had not just one, but many people tell me about how to start, how to finish, and what to do with my splits. All things that until now I hadn't given much thought to. I think the advice is bothering me more than the thought of running down Broad Street on Sunday.

I've quietly listened to the advice, I've digested the advice, and I've really given some thought to it. And the thought is making me nervous. So on Sunday, I'm going to abandon all of the advice. For me, the novice runner, I'm going to stick with my usual philosophy for running and start by putting one foot in front of the other. I'm going to stick my headphones in my ears and hope The Killers, Moe., and AC/DC will keep me going from there. My strategy will be as always: if it feels good, I'll run faster; if it hurts, I'll slow down. My splits won't change that, but as usual, I won't be wearing a watch and I won't be looking at the clocks and calculating splits in my head - I think I'll have enough going on. I'll let my chip tell me my time at the finish and I'll be comparing that time against myself and training runs, not against the other 29,000 people running on Sunday. Being a novice runner, this will be a PR. So although I am thankful for so many people wanting to share their pearls of running wisdom with me, I'm going to just do this. But, I will take any last minute advice on where to pee before the start, that's the kind of advice I could use.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A for Apathy

My 3 year old has only two speeds: annoyingly slow and out-of-control fast. I'm actually not sure the kid knows how to just walk; he's either doing a geriatric shuffle or he's running wild. Today I had the pleasure of having my 3 year old accompany me to a last minute doctor's appointment. When we were leaving the exam room, my 3 year old came wildly running through the waiting room, caught his foot on a chair leg, went airborne, flipped, and rolled at least three times across the floor. When his momentum was finally stopped by an end table filled with magazines, he was stunned for a second and didn't move. I witnessed the whole event and started to walk calmly towards him through the crowd of waiting room gasps. When I looked up, all eyes were on him. Everyone was focused on my 3 year old on the floor and clearly very shocked - everyone except me.

Yes, I was on my way to help him up and make sure he was okay. But really, this was not a shocking event. He wasn't even crying. Within a few seconds he was making his way back up on his feet and was half-way standing before I even crossed the room to him. I brushed him off and said, "You okay? Let's go." An older woman sitting in the middle of his trajectory was not okay with my apparent apathy. She asked me three times, to the same answer of "Yes", if he was okay and wanted to get him an ice bag. But this accident was nothing new to me. I'm a mother of boys; my kids spend more time tripping and falling than they do walking.

As far as Type A personalities go, I've always been an A+, but my kids have mellowed me in certain respects. I have seen enough near disasters to now have a certain sense of apathy when I see them go down. Its not that I lack concern for them or their safety, but I am now pretty indifferent to the acts of them hurting themselves. I learned to suppress my horror when my first born was learning to crawl and started a collection of bruises across his forehead from bumping into furniture and doorjambs. That was just the start and the start of my detachment. I've seen them get kicked in the head by swings, trip into cement steps with their face, fall off bikes and scooters, fall down a full flight of stairs head-over-heels, and hop into the granite counter with their head. Sure, we've had a couple of trips to the ER, but for the most part my kids usually just pop back up and keep going. My 3 year old goes down so often, that we've become accustomed to shouting out "Man down". And 9 times out of 10 there are no tears. He trips, he gets up, and he keeps going. There's no time for or point in me getting upset; within seconds he's forgotten he ever was on the ground.

I've had other moms tell me that I'm "so calm". Maybe. Calm, apathetic, whatever you want to call it, I guess I am. The thing is, I can't stop them from being the way they are. They play hard and they fall often. I say "careful" a million times, I keep them out of dangerous situations, and I keep my hands on them when I should, but some of the worst falls have happened while they were standing right next to me, standing still. Sometimes they just fall out of nowhere; they trip on themselves. Apathy is my defense from going insane with worry about these everyday occurrences. I could make myself very sick thinking of all the ways they could hurt themselves in their lives. For just a brief second imagine two crazy boys in high school or college and you'll see where I'm coming from. So, I disengage and try to keep going. They fall, I pick them up, brush them off, and say "let's go". And we keep going.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Husband Material

I picked my 3 year old up from preschool this afternoon after spending the morning getting my hair colored. When his teacher was putting him in the car he said to me, "Mom, something's different about your hair." His teacher chuckled as she fastened him into his seat and referred to him taking note of my hair as "good husband material". But after she shut the door, she didn't hear him say that he didn't like the color. I did more low-lights than my usual high-lights today and my 3 year old said to me, "Its too dark Mom, I don't like it, I like your hair lighter." That pretty much cancels out any points he would have earned as a husband noticing hair.

My 3 year old is very observant, but brutally honest when it comes to my appearance. If I come out of my room in the morning in any type of exercise clothing, he will flat-out tell me that I don't look good. He has no problem telling me, "I like you better in 'regular clothes'." I often need to promise that I will shower and change into my "regular clothes" before I pick him up from school. And he always notices on the days when I am still in my yoga pants or tennis skirt in the afternoon car-line. But just the same, he will immediately tell me how "pretty" I look when I try to look nice. And he has his favorites that he likes me to wear. He actually cheered, "I love when you wear that shirt", one day when I put on the jeans and pink shirt that he likes. He's 3; imagine how great this could be for someone when he's 30.

On the flip side, my 6 year old just plain lies. He tells me what he thinks I want to hear. Maybe that's good husband material? Except, I don't want to hear that I look pretty when I know I don't; it makes me not trust his opinion. It makes me question the validity of any positive feed-back I get from him on my appearance. When my 3 year old calls me out on not blowing out my hair and says, "Mom, your hair doesn't look good wavy", my 6 year old defends me and says, "Mom always looks pretty". I know that's not true and I think I'd prefer the truth. I have a hard time accepting my 6 year old's compliments when he tells me I look just as pretty in my pajama bottoms and ripped old t-shirt as I do when I actually try. This approach could seriously backfire on him when he's 30.

So, what is good husband material? Regarding my hair, when my husband came home tonight he said within a minute of seeing me, "Did you do something to your hair today? Its darker". He took note, but note that he didn't offer up a compliment or criticism. That's my husband's material. I didn't ask what he thought and he didn't comment any further. I can count on an honest answer if I want one, a glowing compliment if I really deserve one, but I can also escape unsolicited comments that I might not care to hear. My hair might be a little too dark, my husband knows that, but he also knows that I already know that too.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Running in Heels

I've become a runner. I don't know exactly when it happened, but I think I've now logged enough miles to earn the right to call myself a "runner". My husband, who has a few marathons under his belt, realized I had joined his club when I started throwing around terms like "PR" and "bonk". And the last piece of jewelery he gave me was a pink Road ID bracelet; only a runner could appreciate that. But I think it really hit me when I was sitting around with my brother, also a marathoner who is now training for his first ultra, and we started comparing our runner's feet. I'm only wearing black toe nail polish these days to cover up the bruised toes I acquired breaking in new shoes. The fact that I had to replace my running shoes because they had over 500 miles on them is something new for me too. I guess I have been spending a lot of time running.

Running is my rehab. Its my time to think and its something I've come to really need. After my second child was born, I couldn't run. I couldn't get more than a quarter mile before my legs felt like they were being ripped out of my hip sockets. Baby number two was just too big for my little frame. My doctors said I had too much tendon and ligament damage from my pregnancy and it might take years to recover, if I fully recovered at all. I took it as a challenge; I wasn't going to let something like childbirth dictate what I could do, especially since I could run just fine after baby number one. Once I got clearance from my doctor that my legs would in fact NOT fall off if I kept running through the pain, that's exactly what I did. It took me 6 months, but I ran my first real 5K at Big Sur that year and it was pain free. And I've kept running pain free. Running has fixed all of my aches and pains.

Now I'm training for my first 10-miler. Two weeks ago when I was coming up a hill at mile 8 out of 10 and started to feel a little tightness in my lower calf, I naturally ran through the pain. When the pain didn't go away, I rested and iced for a week. But when I attempted a short run a week later, after a full week of no running, I felt the pulling again in the first mile. I was devastated; running has always fixed me. I got some advice from a physical therapist friend who told me that I needed to rest my Achilles. Apparently the best way to do that is to wear heels all the time - no flat shoes, no bare-feet. If heels were appropriate attire for all occasions, I would wear them anyway, so this was not too hard for me.

So, what am I wearing around the house these days? Heels - all the time. I do laundry, make the beds, wash the dog, and cook dinner in heels. My husband came home the other night to find me getting ready to go for a run, wearing a short running skirt, athletic socks, and 3 inch wedge heels. I was a vision. I don't run in heels, but I don't switch over to my running shoes until I am ready to head out the door. The heels seem to be working though. I ran another 8 this morning with only a tiny reminder of the tightness halfway through and it loosened up by the end. I am facing the reality, however, that although I had hoped this 10-miler would be a springboard to longer races, I should just be happy to finish it without injury. I am determined to finish it and will run it in heels if I have to.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Diet Coke and a Smile

I'm back on the "stuff". Diet Coke that is. Its been about a year since my last Diet Coke. I used to drink a Diet Coke every afternoon, probably since college, but last year sometime I lost the taste for it. I gave up Diet Coke both times I was pregnant, and it was as hard as giving up sushi and alcohol; so losing the taste for it just out of nowhere was unexpected, but I was glad that I kicked the habit. But last week I was really tired and I grabbed from the Diet Coke stash we keep for babysitters. It tasted good, too good; and just like that I'm hooked again. Now I feel like it might be physically impossible for me to get through the day without an afternoon Diet Coke break.

What is it about Diet Coke? Why is it so good? I can't stand any other soda, a sip of regular Coke makes me sick, but there is something addictive about Diet Coke. Its like liquid crack. How much of the coca plant is really still in the recipe? I had one Diet Coke last week and every day since then, I look forward to my afternoon Diet Coke. Its the perfect "pick me up" for that tired hour around 3pm. It helps me get through the second half of the day with a smile - the after school, dinner, bath, bed routine with the kids.

Now that I'm back on the sauce, I noticed that the can I was drinking from had a red heart in support of women's heart health programs. It struck me as a little odd. I mean, let's face it, Diet Coke cannot be good for you, cocaine or not. But as I was enjoying my cool refreshing little bubbly delight, it occurred to me that this was an excellent way to raise awareness for heart disease risks in women. I don't know the statistics, but the majority of Diet Coke consumers have to be moms, also known as women. I know one mom who starts every day with at least one Diet Coke, just as others have a cup of coffee, and you dare not speak to her until she's popped the can open and had her first sip. I've heard other moms rate their day as a "one Diet Coke" or "two Diet Coke" day depending on the stress level of the day. Smart thinking Coca-Cola. They know that there are moms everywhere finding their smile again in their can of Diet Coke. They have us hooked, they might as well give us "the heart truth", as the can reads, while they're at it.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Spring Break 2010

Today was the first day of my kids' spring break. Other than my kids not having school, not a whole lot was different about today; and I'm guessing this will hold true for the rest of the week. Spring break has a different meaning as an adult; it really doesn't mean anything. For most of us spring break ceases to exist after we've finished school. As a parent, it may reappear on your kids' schedule, but what does it really mean for you? It may mean taking off from work and obligations to travel with the kids, or just being stuck with them home from school for a week in the middle of the semester. Either way, how much of a break is it? Since we are staying home this year for Easter, it is the direct opposite of a break for me, it means not having a moment to myself this week.

My older son keeps referring to being "on spring break" and he doesn't know we're kidding when my husband and I shout out with fake excitement, "spring break 2010 - woo hoo!" But I can't help it - this is not the week that comes to mind when I think of "spring break". Bribing my kids to watch my tennis match today and then dragging them through the grocery store is not quite the same as a day in Cancun or Myrtle Beach. When I think "spring break", I think beaches, drinks, loud music, cute boys, dancing, and more dancing. I have many great memories of spring breaks of the past, but sadly there will be no foam parties this week and I didn't think the boys that woke me up this morning whining and crying were so cute.

Yes, spring break is very different these days. And although my husband is not taking off from work and my week is really not going to be much different, I will try to make it fun for my kids; it is after all their spring break, not mine. Tonight my kids wanted to have a "sleep-over" in my 6 year old's room as something special, so I tucked my 3 year old into bed with his brother and thought maybe they are cute after all. Within 10 minutes my 6 year old was calling for me complaining about his brother, "I can't sleep because he stinks and is stinking up my whole bed." Spring Break 2010 - woo hoo!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Keeper of the Sea Monkeys

We lost our Sea Monkey "Stanley" sometime overnight. I'm not exactly sure when it happened, as my 6 year old told me this morning that, "Dad noticed Stanley 'sleeping' last night". But, the discovery this morning of a floating lifeless crustacean was upsetting. My younger son was in tears because it was his "monkey", but I was upset because I spent so much time trying to get this Sea Monkey to grow that the creature floating this morning was a slap in the face. Why would I subject myself to Sea Monkeys in the first place? I don't know.

When I took on the role of "Stay at Home Mom", I knew what I was getting into. I knew that I was trading in my career of taking care of patients for the responsibility of taking care of everyone in my house. Much like an under-staffed busy shift in the hospital, there are many days that I am just trying to keep everyone here alive. But what I missed in my job description was the Zoology degree I would need to take care of all of the non-human living things in our house; and keep them alive. I'm taking the loss of the Sea Monkey hard.

I'll admit that when I bought the Sea Monkeys, I didn't know what they were. In fact, I assumed they weren't actually real. I had no idea that I would be farming brine shrimp. I bought them because they were on the shelf in the toy store next to the "Grow a Frog" kit I was buying for my older son. Since my younger son loves monkeys, I thought they would be a cute gift for him. Just like when I came home with a Beta fish a few years ago, I didn't think through the water changes and maintenance these little pets require. I was only thinking of my kids. But my kids are too young to independently care for their pets; so although these pets belong to my kids, they are really my responsibility. When the Beta fish "Swimmy I" was found floating a month after his arrival, I quickly replaced him and vowed I would never let another pet perish in my care. Swimmy II has now outlived his life expectancy and I consider him a success story. I've had success maintaining our hyper-allergic high-maintenance Golden Retriever and our new tadpole is growing on schedule into a lively frog.

So, I guess I was feeling confidant that I could in fact grow and take care of these mythical Sea Monkeys. I followed the directions exactly with my anxious 3 year old looking over my shoulder. And then we waited. Nothing. I was so worried about these little shrimp; I thought for sure I had already killed them. I checked them everyday for 2 weeks and finally, the tank was filled with movement. "The Stanleys", as they were named by my 3 year old, had hatched and were alive. I, with the supervision of my 3 year old, continued to care for them and watch them grow for another few weeks. But slowly, the number of Stanleys diminished, until we were left with just one quite large Sea Monkey. And now we're down to none. My 3 year old's tears were short-lived this morning, but I'm still disappointed in Stanley's demise. I take my job seriously, even if sometimes that's nothing more than keeping Sea Monkeys alive.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Leprechauns Beware

In the car after school today, my older son said to his little brother, "I wonder what the Leprechaun is going to bring us tonight?" Whoa, wait a minute; tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day, but what Leprechaun? My son went on to explain that a little boy in his class told him that on St. Patrick's Day a Leprechaun visits homes and brings gifts and treats for children to wake up to in the morning. I'm Irish and I know nothing about a Leprechaun bringing gifts, but I do know that this tale needs to be stopped. The last thing I need is another imaginary overnight visitor bringing trinkets to my kids; I have enough trouble keeping up with the well established ones, like the Tooth-Fairy and the Easter Bunny. I needed to squash this fabled Leprechaun and squash it fast.

I let my son know that I had my doubts about this so called gift-giving Leprechaun. It all sounded a little too "Charlie Brown" to me. But to be fair to the mom of the boy in my son's class, who obviously has a cute little tradition going on over at their house, I didn't want to just say its not true. So, I did what most modern day parents do to answer a challenging question; I Googled it, I consulted Wikipedia. My son and I read through several sites on the origin of St. Patrick's Day and Leprechauns and as I suspected, nowhere did we find anything about Leprechauns bringing children gifts. Instead we found a lot of sites on how to catch a Leprechaun and get his gold.

After sifting through all of the information, I successfully turned my son's interest from getting Leprechaun gifts into setting a trap to catch a Leprechaun. We spent the rest of the evening decorating paper Trader Joe's grocery bags with rainbows, clover, and gold, as instructed by many sites, to bait the Leprechaun. And we now have two elaborate Leprechaun traps set up in our house, complete with entrance only stairs built from blocks for the little guy, and bells to sound the alarm when he gets stuck in the bag and can't get out. So, beware Leprechauns, we don't want your gifts here, we're after your gold.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Taxi Cab Confession

We've lived on the Main Line in our current home for 5 years now. And yet, my husband has trouble navigating from point A to point B on the Main Line. We're transplants, but still, its been 5 years. I asked him to drop my older son off at a friend's house in Wayne last weekend, a home that we have been to as a family many times for play-dates, dinners, and parties. A home, I might add, that I have had him drop off and pick up my son from before. He looked at me with a blank stare. I could tell he was nervous to ask, but he had no idea how to get there. After the appropriate amount of eye-rolling, I sent him out the door with detailed directions; knowing that he still had no idea and would plug the address into the car navigation and Google on his phone. Why does this man have no idea how to get anywhere outside of the 1 mile radius of our street?

But as I was driving today from Spanish class in Rosemont to soccer in Bala Cynwyd, I realized that my husband can't get anywhere, because he never goes anywhere. He drives the same 1 mile stretch every day to and from the train station; if there was a track, the car could drive itself. Meanwhile, I've spent the past 5 years driving the Main Line, from one end to the other. I shuttle my children, myself, and groceries to and from all points on the Main Line. I've worn a path between Wynnewood and Bryn Mawr getting my kids to school. I may spend the morning in Ardmore, but need to be in Radnor 10 minutes later. I've found the fastest route to pick up our sitter in Villanova, and a quick back road to the Country Club in Gladwyne. And I can get to Target in Plymouth Meeting without ever getting on the Blue Route if there's traffic. I confess, maybe I was a little hard on my husband. And maybe I shouldn't consider myself so much a talented driver, as just a taxi driver.

When I first moved here, I thought it was charming that I would always see someone I knew on the road. What a great community to live in where you see your friends and neighbors next to you at a traffic light or passing you with a friendly honk or wave. Now I realize its because all of my mom friends are all driving the same routes from one end of Lancaster or Montgomery Avenue to the other. We are all just working our part-time jobs as taxi drivers and the light is always on.

Monday, March 8, 2010


Could my children call me something other than "mom"? Just for one day. Seriously, if I hear "Mawm", in those whiny little voices one more time today I might snap. You would think there was something really important that they needed my attention for. But no, its usually to ask me what day it is or to recount some adventure they went on in Webkinz World. I'm starting to think its some sort of reflex; that they may have some physical need to say "mom" at least a hundred times a day.

There was a day when my older son was 4 and he fired me. He didn't like something I asked him to do that morning; it was probably something crazy like put his shoes on to leave for school. In the car he told me that he did not need me to be his mom anymore and he would like someone else to pick him up from school. I informed him that I would be there to pick him up until he could find my replacement, but for the rest of the day I would not be answering to "mom" and he would have to call me "Mrs. V". That was a nice afternoon. For some reason "Mrs. V" did not roll off his tongue quite as easily as "mom". As I suspected, I was rehired by the end of the day, but unfortunately I regained my title as well, and am still answering to "mom".

Its not that I don't enjoy talking to my children or that I don't want to answer their questions; even the silly ones. But does every sentence or question have to start with "mom"? And if I don't say "yes" or "what", does "mom" have to be repeated until I make some sound? Can't they just proceed with their story? Its unnecessary, especially since a lot of these conversations are between me and just one of my kids - its obvious, at least to me, who he's speaking to. I'm just tired of hearing so many "moms". I know its my name, but I think its wearing out.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Overnight Shipping or Urine Soaked?

I'm sad to report that Target has wronged me. I'm easily in Target on a weekly basis and I truly do heart Target. They do a brilliant job of knocking-off higher end clothing and design stores, while keeping the cost down. I'm always able to find exactly what I'm looking for and many, many others things that I'm not. And if I'm not able to locate the exact size or color of an item in a store, their website has never let me down. Target is my perfect store. Or, it was.

I'm going to a baby-shower on Friday and the mom-to-be is registered at a handful of places, Target included. It was a no-brainer. During the last snow storm, I decided I would save myself some hassle and just order her gift online. The gift arrived as scheduled yesterday and it seemed it was another perfect Target experience for me. It was perfect until I opened the outer packing box and was kicked in the teeth by one of the worst smells ever. It took me a few seconds, but I soon realized that this smell was the same one as the subway and rail stairwells - piss. I immediately dropped the box.

Within minutes I was on the phone with a Target online customer service agent. Surely, they would want to know about this. I mean, at this point, I felt like someone had wronged me and "my Target". I relayed my story to the agent and she didn't even waiver from her script, "I'm so sorry that you had this experience. We will be happy to reimburse you for your shipping and you are able to return the item to any Target store for a full refund". What? Didn't she hear me? I just said that I got an item shipped to me soaked in urine, and she is happy to have me just return it to any store? That would require me to actually touch this box again. After re-iterating the pee detail a few more times, she still didn't sound surprised, but did attach a $5 voucher to my account. Gee, thanks.

So, today I trucked the box of piss over to the Target store to return it. My husband thought I was crazy, "Why would anyone want you to return that? No one wants to have to handle that". But I was determined that Target needed to know that this occurred somewhere in their packing and shipping process. I was certain that an actual live person would have a reaction closer to mine and maybe let someone important in the Target company know. I placed the clean outer packing box on the returns counter and quickly warned the girl that I received the item inside with what appears to be urine on it. She didn't blink; she didn't even look at me. It was as if this was not the first time she's seen this. She opened the box, despite my warnings, "I don't know if you want to touch that". She said so matter-of-factly, "I need to touch it to scan it". And that was it, a second later she was handing me my refund receipt. I was so confused, I couldn't even bother any longer. Did I miss something? Is this normal to expect that sometimes you will just receive a package that has been pissed on? I must have missed something somewhere when I was checking out online. Was there a check-box under shipping preferences that asked if I wanted overnight shipping or soaked in urine?

I can't say that I will stop shopping at Target. I actually shopped after I returned the item. But I will say this has opened my eyes to a very strange, but apparently common phenomenon. I won't ever open a packing box the same way again.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Going Topless

We just spent a week at a French beach resort and although it was great to be immersed in the French language, culture, and food; we were also surrounded by their custom of going topless on the beach. We've been to this resort before, so it wasn't entirely unexpected, but I have to say that the first day on the beach still took some getting used to. I read somewhere that going topless is falling out of fashion on French beaches, but this was not the case here. Women of all ages were sunbathing, conversing with whole groups of people, and playing on the sand and in the water with their small children - all sans tops. It was a very family friendly G-rated, albeit, topless scene. So regardless of the current trend, why were/are the French so much more carefree about their bodies?

In general, on the beach the French seem to cover very little compared to Americans. But from my observations, its not because they all have perfect bodies - they don't. So, why did I feel like I should be covering up my imperfections, even with a top on? It became very clear to me that Americans obsess way too much over appearances. Its really no wonder that we have body image issues. Is it possible that other countries just don't care? It was interesting that the only person I saw wearing a skirted tankini, was a prudish American. She might as well have been wearing a dress because she looked fully clothed next to all of the monokinis on the beach. Interestingly, the term "monokini" in France means just the bottoms, not that strange looking attached bikini suit they sell in America where you can wear a "bikini" without showing your stomach. In America, by trying to cover up our imperfections instead of just baring them, are we insinuating that there is something wrong with less than perfect bodies? This isn't the best message to be sending to our children.

I also noticed that absolutely no one seemed to take notice of the boobs all over the beach; except for my American husband. I'm sure other men noticed, they are men after all, but there was no gawking. Can you image the Guido crazed frenzy that would occur if the Jersey Shore decided to go topless? But really what's the big deal? Men are topless on the beach, why can't women be? And would my husband really have noticed if he grew up in a place where it was normal for women to bare it all rather than hide everything? I don't know, but I liked how by baring it all, the French seemed to strip away that superficial layer of appearances. Boobs just became boobs, all sizes and shapes, not some mysterious thing for boys to be obsessed with getting a glimpse of.

I won't deny that by the end of the week, I was feeling pretty confident and comfortable with the idea, the idea mind you, of removing my top on the beach. However, on our last day there, I was putting sunscreen on in my bedroom of our suite and hadn't yet put my bikini top on. My 3 year old came barging in to ask me a question. He took one look at me and ran, without question, to the other room to immediately tell his older brother, "Mom doesn't have her 'boob covers' on today!" Feeling gone. You can take American kids to a French resort, but they're still American.