Guess Where I Am Today?

Guess where I am today? Well, technically I am where I am just about every day. Home. But virtually, I’m all over the place.

Remember a few weeks ago when I told you my writing would be appearing in some kind of big places in the near future, but I wouldn’t tell you where? Well, I know you have all been on pins and needles since. So today is the day I relieve your suspense. And you get a two-for-one deal, because unbeknownst to me, BOTH places are featuring my articles on the very same day! Continue reading “Guess Where I Am Today?”

If You Wanna Get With Me, Put Away the “Just For Men”

“Good news. I found a few more gray hairs.”

Only my husband would qualify that as good news. Because he knows what a few more gray hairs mean: he has moved one step closer to being my dream man.

Why?

Very simply stated, I have an unhealthy attraction to old men.

old men drinking beer
Is this seat taken? Because this would be the cutest beer I would ever have.
photo credit: Hindrik S via photopin cc

Sometimes it’s more of an adoration, akin to how others might fawn over a baby duckling and a kitten being friends, or squeal at the sight of miniature infant-sized hiking boots. I mean, those boots are exactly.the.same in every way, but just tinier. I never get over it. Just in the way I never get over the overwhelming urge to snuggle with just about every adorable elderly man I see. When my husband and I took a trip to Ireland just over a year ago, I became exhausted from practicing the immense restraint that was needed to NOT hug all the cute old men who seems to overpopulate the country. As I observed:

Cute old men strolling/walking their dogs/riding bikes. These guys are everywhere in Ireland. Everywhere. And one thing you might not know about me is that I am a tad obsessed with cute old men, especially if they are riding bikes, walking dogs, or strolling in little Irish tweed caps. […] I move that we need more of these cute old men on the streets of America. Here, they are all behind the wheels of cars, decreasing the cuteness factor, as well as the safety for all drivers in the vicinity. I may try to start an organization that works to put new shiny bikes in the hands of  cute old men everywhere. It would be a step closer to my utopia.

I can’t help it. A cute old man will make me smile every time. Unless he makes me cry…because he can’t open a door, or finally learns how to read, or has to move away from his little three-year-old neighbor and best friend.

So there’s that.

But what is more perplexing is that in addition to being a sucker for the elderly male persuasion, I also tend to focus my crushes on them as well. My list of celebrities who do it for me are all eligible for AARP benefits:

steve carell
photo credit: ElHormiguero via photopin cc

Steve Carell, age 52 – It started with The Office, but he locked down my heart as Gru in Despicable Me. Who knew big-nosed bald guys with dogs named Kyle got me hot and bothered?

tom hanks
photo credit: aphrodite-in-nyc via photopin cc

Tom Hanks, age 58 – I have never not loved him. Even when he was in Joe Versus the Volcano. And I used to like Helen Hunt until she didn’t go back to him after he had survived a bagillion years on a deserted island, only thinking of her, in Cast Away. Now I just think “stupid wench” whenever I see her.

tony shalhoub monk
photo credit: Hot Rod Homepage via photopin cc

Tony Shalhoub, age 60 – I’m not sure if it’s really Tony Shalhoub I have a crush on or his legendary character, Adrian Monk. Either way, I’m fishing for an oldie. I spent a lot of Friday nights with Monk. A lot. It was a blessing and a curse.

micky dolenz meet and greet
The Happy Couple – Me and Micky

 Micky Dolenz, age 69 – We all know I want to be his girlfriend. Not only is he older than my dad, but he is currently starring in a play called Comedy Is Hard, where he plays an 84-year-old retired comedian in a old folks home. If that doesn’t have heartthrob written all over it, I don’t know what does.

nathaniel hawthorne
He’s like the Leonardo DiCaprio of the 19th century

Nathaniel Hawthorne, dead – When I used to teach The Scarlet Letter to high school students, I often referred to this revered American author as “Hottie Hawthorne.” I am pretty sure that had I lived in the early to mid-1800’s, I would have gladly brandished the mark of a sinner for a little sumpin’-sumpin’ with this wizard of words.

So finding a few more gray hairs was indeed good news for my husband. In my eyes, it just means he is getting hotter. I can’t wait to see how he is going to look in that tweed cap and sweater vest I’m going to get him for his birthday.

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The Archive Is Alive: Dangerous Names

Between recently attending a baby shower and visiting a friend and her newborn daughter, this post from a few years ago popped into my head this evening. And since I have devoted this week to finishing up illustrations for my upcoming book (woo hoo!!), I decided to call this one up again as my pinch hitter. And since most of my readers now weren’t around when I first posted this, it is very likely new to you.

♦♦♦

So I kind of have baby on the brain lately. I think I probably made my husband stop breathing with that statement, but mostly it is just because I have quite a few friends who are pregnant right now. Bringing new life into the world is filled with all kinds of land mines of excitement and frustration. And picking a name for your new bundle is just one of them. Continue reading “The Archive Is Alive: Dangerous Names”

Why I’m Happy I’m Not a First-Time Mom

Awwww!…Isn’t that adorable?…How precious!…Oh my god, those are just the BEST!…You’ll use that ALL the time!…*squee*…I’m dying from cuteness!… 

Guess where I was this past weekend? Yep. A baby shower. My uterus always gets a little mushy and nostalgic whenever I celebrate a new tiny life coming into the world. And, people…the STUFF! Holy diaper blowouts. I can’t help but be a little jealous over all the new gadgets and toys that weren’t around when I had babies. And I can’t help but miss, just a bit, all the ones that were. As cumbersome as it can be carting around a well-stocked diaper bag, it also makes you feel more like MacGyver than any other time in your life.

diaper bag
Don’t worry. We are covered in case of diaper emergencies, snot emergencies, tantrum emergencies, clothing emergencies, hunger emergencies, and nuclear war. I’m also pretty sure I’ve got something in here I can fashion into a flotation device in a pinch. photo credit: jds-emma via photopin cc

Continue reading “Why I’m Happy I’m Not a First-Time Mom”

To My Children’s Grandparents

You are not who you used to be. The moment my husband entered the waiting room and smiled the words, “It’s a girl,” you became something new and different, while being altogether exactly the people we had grown up with. Before that moment, you were our parents. Nothing more. Nothing less. You were the ones who provided for us, comforted us, bailed us out, held us to consequences, and loved us unconditionally, whether we cared or not (though we usually did). You were either the gateway or the obstruction to everything we wanted to do and be…depending on the day. It was easy for us to find you annoying, or call you unfair, or roll our eyes, or take you for granted. Because we were your kids, and you were our parents. Nothing more. Nothing less. Continue reading “To My Children’s Grandparents”

4 Reasons My Child Didn’t Cry On the First Day of School…And One Reason I Didn’t Either

When you have a child starting Kindergarten, the first day of school can be rough…for both of you. In the case of my son and me last year, it wasn’t just the first day that left us emotionally raw. The first month or so was a delicate balance of getting him pumped for school while also honoring his feelings of trepidation, all the while disguising my own sadness. I lamented about the experience being like A Tale of Two Kindergarteners, where I wished for the confident little boy he was at home to trade places with the quiet, unsure student he was at school. Eventually, that did happen in most respects, though tears found their way to the surface at various points throughout the year.

So I wasn’t sure what to expect on Michael’s first day of school this year. Due to being a summer baby, he is entering Kindergarten again…or what we are calling Kindergarten 2.0 at our house. He is at a different school this year, though it is one he is very familiar with, as it is the one his big sister has attended for the last four years. I was hoping that fact alone might be enough to make him feel more confident going into this school year, but I felt certain of nothing. This is a kid who has cried over getting dropped off every year since he began preschool at the age of two.

But this year when the first day rolled around, not one tear was shed. Not one hint of hesitation made itself known. The minivan door slid open, and he popped out with little attention to the fact that I was sitting in the driver’s seat, holding my breath. In fact, I’m not even sure he told me goodbye.

Who’s kid is this? Well, I’ll be. That’s MY kid! Finally, that same boy I live with at home, who has no qualms about going over to the neighbor’s house without telling me first, has shown up for the first day of school. And I am very proud of him.

I can’t help but wonder what made the difference for him this year. I have a few hypotheses:

1. Maturity. He is clearly more mature than he was last year. I know this because instead of quietly whispering, “I want that,” about every.single.toy advertised during a commercial break (even J·Animals, The Wearable Stuffed Animals), he only wants two-thirds of them. Such discrimination and restraint shows great cognitive development.

2. Uniforms. Now that he is going to Catholic school, he doesn’t have to worry about having the latest movie character on his apparel, because he never does. This year all the cool kids are wearing white polos and navy shorts. Did I say all the cool kids? Because I meant just all the kids. All of them. Fashion crisis averted.

3. The Guardians of the Galaxy Soundtrack. My husband and I tempered Michael’s disappointment in being too young to see the movie (and not getting a Guardians of the Galaxy tee shirt…see #2) by getting him the soundtrack. It is an “Awesome Mix, Vol. 1” of kick ass 70’s music, and it has been on almost constant repeat play in our minivan. My kids have taken a special liking to the song “I’m Not In Love” by 10cc, mostly because of the weird interlude where a lady starts whispering, “big boys don’t cry.” Well, maybe that was just the kind of subliminal message he needed right before school started.

4. His Own Personal Sherpa. Last year, my little guy was navigating a new experience all on his own, something he rarely has to do as the second child. But this year, he has a lifeline in his sister. That lifeline may argue with him in the car all the way to school over who ate the last Pop Tart. But suddenly, when faced with joining the chaos and uncertainties of a new school year, this happens:siblings

Now what about me? How did momma fare on her son’s second first day of Kindergarten? Well, we know how it went last year. I was a mess. But this year I followed Michael’s lead: not one tear. I have my hypothesis about that, too:

1. I Get to Pretend He’s Not Growing Up. Yes, he may have actually turned another year older. But sending him to Kindergarten again lets me pretend that didn’t happen. This is likely the only time that the beginning of a school year doesn’t mark the advancement towards one of my kids leaving the nest. I can’t stop my daughter, who is now officially halfway through grade school. (Gulp.) But Michael? I get one more chance to have a “first” with him. Last year, Michael starting Kindergarten hit me hard. I suddenly felt like the childhoods of my children were slipping through my fingers…and I had been stupid, wishing their little years away. But now I have another chance to hang up a few more hand print paintings, to get report cards without real letter grades, to pick him up from a classroom that still has play centers…to cherish his little.

Consequently, I will probably be the only mom crying next year, when I drop him off for first grade. But I have a feeling he will be just fine.

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An Old Dog, Uncle Jesse’s Papouli, and Cremation: Ruining a Child’s Life In One Brief Conversation

tear, crying
photo credit: Emily’s mind via photopin cc

Have I ever told you that I cried when I first watched the graduation episode of Saved By the Bell? I think I may have. But did you know I also cried when Uncle Jesse’s Papouli died on Full House? And when Atticus Finch is leaving the courthouse after losing Tom Robinson’s case, and Reverend Sykes says to Scout, “Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father’s passin’.” And anytime anyone gets a standing ovation at a live performance, even “Seussical.” And when kids sing. Or if I just think about kids singing. Oh, great. I just thought about it. Excuse me for a second…
Continue reading “An Old Dog, Uncle Jesse’s Papouli, and Cremation: Ruining a Child’s Life In One Brief Conversation”

Hey Smarty Pants…You’re Not So Smart

I am taking advantage of a short window of time to squeeze in this blog post between visiting the dentist this morning to get cavities filled in BOTH kids (the most fun thing ever) and heading out to see the Lego exhibit at the Missouri Botanical Garden, followed by a Cardinals game. We are in the midst of a very intense week-long “staycation,” seeing as how we opted not to travel this summer. My husband has taken some time off of work, and we are naturally trying to do every.single.possible.thing.in.St.Louis in a span of seven days to assuage our guilt of not taking our kids on vacation like all of their friends. Because our kids are always super appreciative, and never whine, and are completely satisfied by the level of fun we provide for them at the expense of our time, energy, wallets, and sanity. (Remember when I said getting the kids’ cavities filled was the most fun thing ever? Just read that last sentence in the same implied tone.) Continue reading “Hey Smarty Pants…You’re Not So Smart”

If You Like “Family,” We Recommend This Blog

You know how sometimes the Universe gives you a gift, but you are too blind to realize it?

Well in this case, the Universe is WordPress (this here blogging platform I use, for those of you non-bloggy peeps), and you can just call me Captain Oblivious.

Last week, I received a message from my blogging sister-wife, Emily of The Waiting. She was basically apologizing for her tardy congratulations, seeing as how she has been on a bit of a blogging hiatus due to lots of super-awesome things happening in her life right now.
Continue reading “If You Like “Family,” We Recommend This Blog”

Step Off, Carol Brady: What Alice the Housekeeper Taught Me About Parenting

Ann_B._Davis_1977
“Alice Nelson” from Wikipedia licensed under CC BY 2.0

I swear I could faintly hear the collective “aw” of humanity as I checked my Facebook news feed and learned that Ann B. Davis, better known as Alice from The Brady Bunch, had died.

Though I had grown up watching The Brady Bunch like millions of others, thanks to the magical gift of syndication, the sad news didn’t conjure up childhood memories. Instead, my mind immediately brought me back to 3:30 A.M. on any given night between March and December 2005. That was when my first-born would awaken for her middle-of-the-night feeding, and I often passed the time catching up on some golden oldie boob tube. It just so happened that my daughter’s sleep schedule coincided with the airing of The Brady Bunch on Nick at Night, and I would be lying if I didn’t say I came to actually look forward to my nocturnal trips back to the early 1970’s. In fact, I usually got annoyed if she happened to wake up a little later than usual, and I had to watch Hunter instead. 
Continue reading “Step Off, Carol Brady: What Alice the Housekeeper Taught Me About Parenting”