This might just be my very. favorite. video. ever.
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This might just be my very. favorite. video. ever.
Sharing is caring. Pretty, please?
I’m not one of those Moms that counts the days until school starts again. I love summer. I love everything about it. I love beach days and sandy toes. I love summer corn and tomatoes and the relegation of Husband to the grill at nearly every dinnertime. I love slathering my children in sunblock and watching the gradual progression of their skin to a golden brown and their hair a golden blonde. I love flip-flops and pedicures people can actually see. Despite my unmatched modesty when it comes to my body, I love short sleeves (aside: hate when people say they’re in “shirt sleeves”) and cute summer skirts and colorful beach cover-ups. I love open windows and ceiling fans and blooming hydrangea. I don’t even complain (much) when it’s 90 degrees and humid and there’s sweat dripping down my back. Because once summer’s gone, there’s fall. And fall is a perfectly wonderful time of year (especially in New England) except for people like me. Because I manage to ruin fall by spending most of it dreading the fact that winter (g-damn winter) is next. And winter sucks.
Yesterday, Husband and I packed up the boys bright and early and headed north to Crane Beach in Ipswich.
Despite the fact that we live in a town littered with beaches, it seemed a fitting trip to round out our summer. We arrived by 9 am (1/2 hour past low tide) and were awed by the expanse of Crane Beach (I hadn’t been since high school). There were tide pools and piping plovers and no more than 100 others on the beach (although it was mobbed by the time we left). Husband, who can’t sit still on the beach for more than 5 minutes at a time, dropped the gear and then took off with the kids to explore and build and romp and splash and left me alone. With my beach chair. And my Kindle. And my happy, happy self.
On the way home we stopped at a local farm stand where I picked up some fresh basil (the best), mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes so ripe and red that I wanted to bite into them on the spot. I dug through piles of local corn for three perfect ears and snagged two crisp apples for the boys in hopes that munching and crunching would stave off the sleep that tugged at their sandy, sun-soaked selves.
Next week, school begins. Big Brother heads off to Kindergarten, which is simply not possible. Little Brother will go to pre-school three mornings a week leaving Mom alone to…to what?
Fill out countless back-to-school forms.
Hit the treadmill.
Consider my next move.
Wish it was summer all over again.
p.s. I’m running in a 5K in two weeks. Which is sort of laughable but whatever. I’m doing it. I have every confidence that I’ll finish. I’m just hoping that when the standings come out in our local papers that my name doesn’t show up dead last. Which is entirely possible in this land of skinny-mini’s…and me. Wish me luck. I will, no doubt, need it.
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We finally found our way home yesterday after a wonderful vacation to Corolla, NC in the Outer Banks. This was our fourth annual trip with my mother in law and brother-in-law (who I am lucky enough to love) and I think they get better every time (the trips, I mean, not the in-laws).
We had nearly perfect weather including one cloudy day in the middle of the week, which fell at the ideal time for all of us as it forced us out of the sun and into the local shops, onto the go-karts and mini-golf course, out to lunch and onto the docks of the Currituck Sound for some blue-crabbing (a favorite annual activity).
So, you might remember that we made the decision (read: HUSBAND made the decision and I complained about and dreaded it for months) to wake up in CT at 3:00 am and drive the 9+ hours to North Carolina rather than fly this year. I mean, I really dreaded it. I dreaded it like I dread a dentist appointment or a pap smear. Maybe more than I dread either. Maybe more than I would dread both. At the same time.
Last night, Husband asked me if I had a blog all cooked up about the trip and I said (truthfully) that I really didn’t. My photos are already posted on FB, my brain is mush and I wasn’t feeling particularly creative. His response was that today would probably be an appropriate time to confess to the cyber world that I was wrong and he was right. Because I had absolutely no faith that the children in the car (including two that are always children and four that only sometimes act like they are) would behave themselves. I would have bet my TiVo on the fact that there would be much crying, complaining and carrying on. 9+ hours of crying, complaining and carrying on. Good times, good times.
Ready? Here it is.
I was wrong.
The children (all six of us) were very well-behaved. Sleeping much of the trip, playing games (I packed a large bag of surprises), singing and snacking. It was all a very, very pleasant surprise for me. Husband was a patient, non-aggressive, accommodating driver. Mother-in-law was her usual helpful, generous, sweet self — propping pillows for Little Brother, distributing snacks and frequently rescuing wayward toys dropped from his reach in the car seat. Brother in law (stuck in the way back with Big Brother) was quietly snoozing when not plugged-in with movies on his iPhone — deftly handling a very chit-chatty (“Can I play with your phone?…Can I play with your phone?…Can I play with your phone?”) Big Brother for nearly 20 total car hours all in. I was a proud Mommy. We will certainly save the $$ and drive again next year. And probably forever after that.
It’s such a great vacation spot. Unspoiled but accessible. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in straying from the usual Massachusetts go-to spots like Cape Cod, Nantucket or Democratic Presidents Vacationland otherwise known as MV. Check out http://www.twiddy.com for rental houses. (And no, sadly, they aren’t giving me a deal for recommending them.)
Only 356 days until we head back. I can’t wait.
Roughly nine months ago, I posted a blog bit that was really about some marital repartee between Husband and myself. In the post, I off-handedly used a lead in that referenced a recent Jeopardy! contestant we had watched over dinner. As I’ve mentioned in prior posts, we’re regular Jeopardy! viewers.
Anyway, the time I referenced the contestant (Robert Knecht Schmidt) was apparently close enough to his recent appearance on television that he was still very busy Googling himself with some regularity. So, he stumbled upon my nubile blog and felt compelled to defend his fashion sense (a Nehru jacket) informing me that his jacket was actually very popular in the 70s (well, Robert, so was thalidomide, but I digress).
At the time, his discovery of and comments on my blog completely freaked me out. Wait. What?! You actually ARE the Jeopardy guy?! He wasn’t threatening or intrusive and, to be honest, he was clearly taking it all with a grain of salt. But, then he (innocently, I’m sure) also linked my blog to his Facebook page which led to hundreds of hits within minutes and, considering I was still at that time using real names and full faces of my family, ultimately led me to remove the post and completely change the manner in which I blog when it comes to my family (particularly my children). In the end, I think Robert Knecht Schmidt taught me an important lesson.
The internet is a motherfurkin CRAZY place. Think twice. Then, think again. Then, hit publish.
Now that I feel ok about it all, I realize I liked the post. And, it should still be in here. Because it’s a big part of how the blog developed.
And, truthfully, I hope Robert appears again. I can deal now. I’m ready. Back then, it was weird and scary for me. Today, quite alright. Welcome, RKS. And, welcome anyone else, for that matter.
So, take two. Enjoy.
It appears that Jeopardy! contestant Robert Knecht Schmidt may have stolen my favorite suit jacket.
I mean, really Robert? Do you really think that might stand a chance at being a man’s jacket? And, that’s your pick for your first night on national television?
Anyway, that jacket reminded Husband and me of a time, way back when, that I used to be the one getting up at oh-dark-hundred to get ready for work while he slept peacefully before his own work day had to begin. He’d snooze while I showered, got dressed by the light of the bathroom and woke him gently to say our goodbyes with a sleepy-eyed kiss.
Once, back when that suit jacket belonged to me and not to Robert Knecht Schmidt, I went through a bit of an accessories phase. My favorite accessory? Silk scarfs. Tied neatly around my neck. I thought they made me look sophisticated. They added a splash of color and professionalism to the old black (or in Robert Knecht Schmidt’s case, tan) suit. Or, so I thought. Husband thought it made me look like a stewardess. Whatever.
So, one early morning, before I headed into work, I lean over the bed to kiss my sleeping husband.
“Goodbye.” I whispered gently. “I love you.”
“Bye, cutie.” He replies, slowly wrestling himself up on his elbows for a quick kiss before nestling back into his pillows. Then, as I smile contentedly and turn to head out the door, he mumbles…
“Have a nice flight.”
What a punk.
“They” say opposites attract and in some ways Husband and I meet that criteria. I tend to be an over-the-top optimist. Initially, I meet someone and expect that I’ll love them forever. I’m surprised if they ultimately disappoint me. Husband expects people to be idiots and is pleasantly surprised if they prove to be someone he actually enjoys spending time with. I am a bit of perfectionist (understatement of the year) where Husband has much better perspective on what’s actually worthy of my compulsive attention and care.
But, in a lot of ways, we’re also very much alike. We were both raised in small towns by parents who stayed together (a bit of a feat in the 80s). We were both taught at a young age that respecting (and actually talking to not grunting at) adults can open doors for you. And, we were both athletic kids. On the fields we each formed friendships with people who stood by us at our wedding, our teammates for life. We learned to be trusty worthy, to always have your teammate’s back, to be fair, to follow the rules but also…we learned that we like to WIN.
Husband and I like to win. A lot.
So, we’re a wee bit competitive (new understatement of the year).
1) We watch Jeopardy! together every night. Really. Well, every week night. We sit next to each other at the kitchen counter and shout out the answers questions. We used to pay more attention to who got what right than we do today. We’d even announce a winner at each show’s conclusion. (I know…kind of geeky but whatever). I actually love this about our marriage. I love how he surprises me when he announces “Ferdinand” as the King of Spain when Spaniards lost their American territories. Huh? I love that he’s so smart. But, I still want to be just a little bit smarter than he.
2) One Thanksgiving weekend in his hometown we were watching football with his family and a few of our friends. Some knucklehead kicker missed an extra point to lose the game. I off-handedly mentioned that it was amazing to me that some guy could spend his whole life practicing that one thing (kicking that same distance every time) and miss. Husband agreed and boldly stated:
I bet even I could hit ten in a row.
Me: No way.
Husband’s buddy, Mike: No way.
Husband’s brother: Sure, he could.
Me: No way.
Fifteen minutes later we were at Olympia Sports picking up a professional sized football and a tee. Thirty minutes later we were at the high school football field. Solo cups of warm rum and cider in hand.
We allow Husband a few warm-up attempts.
He made one. two. three. four.
Me (thinking): I am so losing this bet.
Husband (smug): Ok! These count.
Made another one. two. three.
four. five. six. seven.
eight. nine. MISS!
I won! I won!
Husband: So lame. Stop celebrating. I really made thirteen in a row, and you know it.
Me (leaping around): Oh, no. Those first ones didn’t count! You made nine. I win! I win!
Husband: Shut it.
3) There are a lot of little things in a marriage that couples just adopt as habit. Who does what chores, who pays the bills, who grills, who takes out the trash, who does dishes. Things that are accepted as “my job” or “his job” that we just do without discussion. Then there are those little jobs that you try to avoid. Like, when you’re the one that almost finishes the bottle of wine and you know as you put it away that the next person to pour is going to have to open a new one. Ha. Gotcha.
Well, we do that sort of competitive nonsense all the time. Most of the time, without discussion. Because we know when we win. And, we know when we’ve been had..and we’ve lost.
So, when the toothpaste started running low recently, neither of us wanted to replace it. So, as we’ve done many times before, we would each eek out every last little bit of paste for as long as we could and then put the now flat tube back for the other person to attack. And hopefully, their attempt would prove futile. And, in that moment, they’d be forced to admit defeat. Because they’d have to be the one to reach over and open the new tube. (I know, I know. Ridiculous. But, like I said…we’re just a little competitive.)
But, this time was different. Let me tell you, I’m good at toothpaste eeking. I can fold that baby six ways from Sunday. I rarely lose the toothpaste battle. But, damn, I swear I thought I’d had him days ago and every time I returned to the sink the paste was still there. Wow. Impressive, Husband. But, I will not be defeated. And, I’d fold and bend and squeeze and press and Yes! Enough to at least make a little foam. Now, I had him. No doubt about it.
But, the next morning, long after Husband had gotten up and gone to work, I head into the bathroom to get ready.
WHAT?! The toothpaste was still there. How in the world…?!
So, begrudgingly, I surrendered.
With a defeated sigh, I reached over to my left and pulled out the box of toothpaste.
Opened the box. Pulled out the tube and…
Subject: You dog
Date: May 26, 2010 7:39:54 AM EDT
To: Husband <email@example.com>
You’ve been using the toothpaste out of the box!!
From: Husband <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: You dog
Date: May 26, 2010 7:50:54 AM EDT
Yep. But, you were doing such a good job working with the old one.
Grounds for divorce? Perhaps.
But, I’ll be damned if I’m going to be the one that gives up on marriage first.
See this guy? I think I may have married him.
Well, ok, so maybe he doesn’t look exactly like that. Maybe more like THIS.
For the most part, I’m pretty even-keeled. I don’t get overly excited about good things nor do I get overly upset about not-so-good things. I may raise my voice but I’m almost always tightly in control of my emotions. This was actually a bit of a handicap when I was climbing the corporate ladder because, apparently, bosses need to see that you are enjoying yourself. You can’t just do your job well. You need to act like you love doing your job well.
When I was working at a PR firm, I placed a story about lightbulbs on the Today Show. Freakin’ lightbulbs. No joke. It was a story I’d been pitching for months. I’d worked hard on developing a relationship with a certain segment producer and all my work paid off. When I got word that the story was a go, I sent my client and my boss a very matter of fact email letting them know. I explained the story angle, the air date, the taping date and the travel arrangements. Shortly after I sent the email, I received a phone call from my boss, asking that I come into her office. She was amazed I hadn’t reacted more enthusiastically. She was clearly bothered by the fact that I had scored such a HUGE placement for my client, on a top television show, and that my email could very well have been about placing a Public Service Announcement in the local weekly. Where are the exclamation points? The smiley emoticons?
A year or so later, I was working at a giant financial institution doing Event Planning. It was a great job but a hard job full of travel and details and finicky clients. I loved it and did well. Well enough to eventually get a generous raise from my boss who called me into her office to give me the details. She said very nice things about my work. She said very nice things about my future within the group. She presented me with a very nice salary increase. I said “thank you very much” and smiled. Then I was ready to return my desk. She, apparently, wasn’t ready for me to return to my desk. Because at my next review she brought up the fact that she was very disappointed by how I reacted to the raise. That I didn’t turn cartwheels and sing “Happy Days Are Here Again” as I leaned over to kiss her fashionable shoes.
I earned that raise. I said “thank you”. I’m just not the unbridled enthusiasm type. Those that know me well, understand this trait. I’m not a jump up and down, screechy, over-exciteable kind of girl. I tend to be rationale and calm in most situations. And while, surprisingly, this trait hurt me in the corporate world, it’s helpful to me in my role as a stay-at-home Mom. Kids need an even keel to depend on as their own little ships toss about from one emotional outburst to the next. We weather the storms nicely as a team, the three of us. Most of the time.
But, sometimes, somedays…it’s the perfect storm. And the seas have just tossed Mommy around a bit too much in too short an amount of time. The screaming, the fighting, the whining, the gimmies, they all collide in one big ole’ tsunami. (Alright, enough with the metaphor.) These are the days when I hear my own yucky Mommy voice in my head and I’m yelling and ranting and rapidly becoming that Mean Mommy. The one who tells them they’re driving her crazy and doles out time-outs like popsicles on a summer day.
The one who can. not. wait. until. Daddy. comes. home.
Because I don’t often lose it.
But, when I lose it? I really lose it.
“Losing it” this weekend occurred after a long day of what I viewed to be “Little Boys in Paradise” activities. The beach, dinner out, playgrounds, sidewalk chalk, play dates and birthday parties. They were back home and, with bottomless adrenaline tanks, racing and chasing and screaming and throwing things around the living room. Darting around the fireplace with its “you’re going to crack your head open on that thing” stone riser. And, when I discovered Little Brother’s beloved “Bah” (a stuffed rabbit) flung between the fireplace and the screen for roughly the 900th time in the last two days, I snapped.
Without thinking, I rushed over to the fireplace, grabbed “Bah” and threw him as hard as I could across the room.
Which, of course, sent Little Brother into a frenzy of tears.
Stop crying! Enough! Both of you! Go to your rooms…
And, then I may have heard the sound of angels. Harps playing softly as the living room entryway came aglow.
Husband stepped in.
He doesn’t intervene in the true sense of the word, though. He doesn’t swoop in and try to mediate. Probably because he knows we’re beyond that point. You know, what with me throwing stuffed bunnies and all. No. He doesn’t tell me I’m over-reacting (which of course…I am) and he doesn’t tell the kids that ignoring me countless times is ok. He just…diffuses. He steps in and gently takes the parenting reigns from my tightly clenched fists. And I, gratefully, let him.
Not long afterwards, I hear them all reading a story in Little Brother’s room. Calm. A giggle here and there.
And they all eventually emerge. Happy.
And find me sitting peacefully alone in the living room. Happy.
I’m sorry, Mommy.
Me too, guys.
Thanks for saving, if not the day, at least the moment. For understanding me. For caring for them, and for me, so well. For recognizing that it was Mom, not the kids, in need of a little time out.
Husband and I got a sitter on Saturday night and decided to go out for a pre-Mother’s Day dinner. So, after going through the regular exchange:
Me: Where should we go?
He: I don’t know. You pick.
How about x?
Nah. Too dark.
How about y?
Tables are too close together.
How about z?
How about you pick?
There’s a storied spot here in Marblehead. It’s both a bar and restaurant but it’s always been known for “wicked stiff drinks”. I hadn’t darkened the door of the place since my bachelorette party (Don’t remind me…is that tequila I taste?) when the food part of the building was really just considered a nice tack-on in case you actually wanted to have something in your stomach and, therefore, a better chance of actually leaving the bar standing upright. But, we’d been hearing a lot of reports lately that they had a new chef and the food was good. So, we decided to check it out and off we went.
We enjoyed some grown-up bar drinks (in pint glasses) at the bar downstairs, chatted with a great bartender, then headed up to the restaurant. Sat at a high-top table, liked the looks of the menu, liked our server, liked the atmosphere. Right up our alley, really.
And then…he arrived.
Jimmy. Or Mickey. Or Sully, perhaps. Something like that, undoubtedly.
Whoever he was, he was the quintessential loudmouth. Sitting with two other guys at the bar but his Boston-accent-laden side of the conversation was the only one anyone heard. And it sounded something like this:
Did you see that f*ckin’ pitch? (pause so someone else could speak…briefly) Oh, yeah, he got f*ckin’ crushed. (pause) No f*ckin’ way that was a f*ckin’ out! That guy needs f*ckin’ glasses. Blah, blah, blah, f*ckin’, blah, blah, blah, f*ckin’, blah.
Grrrr. It certainly didn’t ruin our meal but it was annoying and rude and I wish his knucklehead friends had just told him to pipe down. But, they didn’t. And on he went.
Husband often tells me I have “rabbit ears”. That I basically choose to listen to annoying things that others could simply tune out. For example, I can’t stop myself from listening intently to someone enjoying his gum a little too enthusiastically. Or someone tapping a pen on a desk. Or lightly snoring. Or eating something while on the phone with me (“hey, you want to just call me back when you’re finished?”).
Or dropping the F-bomb loudly and repeatedly at a restaurant. I mean, come on.
Yesterday, I was reading the blog of a woman whose posts I follow regularly. She had gone to dinner with her sister and her sister’s new baby and, after the baby had spent some time fussing, a man seated nearby felt compelled to make a comment to them. And, he wasn’t exactly delicate with his opinions of a crying baby in a restaurant. It escalated. I believe they finished their meal but the night was ruined for them. She was more than a little irritated with the man’s gumption.
But, I had to admit that I sort of sided with the grumpy man in the restaurant. I feel strongly that, when in a public place where a semblance of decorum is expected (like restaurants, retail stores, etc), it’s a parent’s responsibility to be aware and considerate of the people around them. And to not allow your child to disrupt someone else’s evening. Granted, some whining, some crying, some volume — all expected. Kids are kids. Kids are allowed at restaurants and allowed at retail stores. Certainly. Give ’em a chance. But, if it gets to the point where the child is overtaking the atmosphere of the restaurant…it’s time to go. Call it a night. Get ’em out of there. Run, Forrest, Run. Your server and your fellow patrons will thank you for it. I know I would.
I’m sure many will disagree. Like I said, just my opinion.
Anyway, this leads me back to that trash-mouth man in the restaurant Saturday night. Sure, it wasn’t like we were dining at Le Cirque. Of course, he had every right to be there enjoying himself with his buddies. And, frankly, he probably spends a lot more money and certainly a lot more time at that establishment that I do. It’s probably a heck of a lot more “his place” than mine. But you know what I wish?
I wish his mother was there. I wish she was there to hear his language. That she was there to shush him politely a few times. Then, to speak a little more sternly, maybe even firmly grabbing his forearm. Then, that she was there to look him square in the eyes and say “Stop it now. I mean it.”
And then, when he went on and on and on…?
I wish she’d been there to receive my high-five as she dragged him out by his ear.