Dear Duck and Bunny (who used to go by Chick, but is now going by Bunny),
Moving sucks. Everyone knows this, and now you know this too. Everything I’ve done, or said, or cheerleaded has only made it worse. I know it’s the apartment-disease talking, but as I walked into our chaos tonight after spending 3 hours at Immediate Care for Kelly’s Earache-Du-Jour, and picked up a random-who-knows-what-bug off the floor…I hit yet a new wall of emotional exhaustion. I wanted to write this now, because someday, you’ll be 42, and moving with a family, and you’ll call. You’ll tell me it’s utter hell, and I’ll have forgotten. I’ll be full of Chablis on the beach, admiring my new sunhat, and I’ll say something totally stupid, like…you’ll be fine. Everything will be just fine. Oh yes…I’ll say it. Ignore me, and read this instead:
Uprooting children out of the only home they’ve ever known has FAR reaching consequences. It’s not “life-change-light”…I promise. This pain goes deep. Your kids are going to FREAK THE FLIPPETY FREAK OUT. You will be of no use. You will be freaking out as well. Why? Because moving is very expensive and stressful and even the best of marriages have to plow through some tough days to get the job done. It’s like one, huge, pan-family-freak-out. In response to the insane energy flowing through your families’ pipes, your kids will do wicked-crazy things like…cut their own hair, and misbehave in school, and throw dirt at their friends at recess. They’ll do things so out of character, you’ll spend many days picking your jaw up off the ground. You might think aliens have stolen their minds, but that’s where you’re missing the boat. Because in reality? They are so, so very sad. They are grieving “home”, and that’s an authentic pain akin to grieving a death.
You’ll do it wrong. You’ll tell them to look forward to new bedrooms and new parks and really dumb things like new memories. THEY DO NOT WANT NEW MEMORIES! They want their old rooms, and their old, horrible commutes, and everything that was wrong with the old house? Yep, they want that too. Kids wants “same”, even if “same” wasn’t working. You’ll waste months trying to focus them on a future they can’t imagine. It will only make it worse.
So PLEASE, do what I did and go to the School Psychologist’s office. ASK FOR HELP. It will come. Someone wiser than you can redirect you…backwards…as this case may be. Your kids need to make scrapbooks of their old home, and spend hours reminiscing about the life you shared with them there. The tears will fall, but in and around the laughter, as you talk about the time Max fell into the trash can while chasing a chicken bone. There will still be hard moments, and then, I want you to call each other. When one of you can’t remember the story of the night Santa brought the playroom, the other will. I won’t remember, because…well? Chablis. Perhaps you’ll get the sage advice I received from my own sister this afternoon (during Kelly’s 19th nervous breakdown): “For God’s sakes Lori, just hand her a Ding Dong.”
And you know what? It worked. I had to buy a Ding Dong first, but then it totally worked. The important thing is for them to learn to put their pain where their pain belongs. Not in a dirt clod they hurl at a girlfriend. (WHO DOES THIS? Seriously girls. Who taught you to do this? Was it a Disney show? I know you sneak those shows when I’m not looking.) It’s OK for some things to suck, even when we try our best to turn them into exciting adventures. We’ve had an adventure alright, just a different kind. The kind Stephen King may turn into a book someday, but we can talk about that later. Speaking of this summer’s nightmarish flavor, who has the Chablis? Did I just digress?
Tomorrow, this adventure ends. We pack up your scrapbooks, memories, and our cats, we finally get to go home. Sara, you have named the house, “The New Chapter”, and as much as I love this title, I promise you both to never forget we started someplace else. I know we won’t forget, because I wrote it all down, right here…in my own little scrapbook. I hope you don’t mind, but I shared it with a “few” friends. They’ve been my cheerleaders when I lost my way.
Let’s do the neighborly thing, and invite them to come with us tomorrow. Won’t you join us? A new chapter will begin, and it just wouldn’t be the same without you. Godspeed, my dear readers. Godspeed to you for hanging with me this past year. We couldn’t have made it without you. GIRLS! Your manners! Say thank you! Now here’s a box. Put something in it. No…not the cat.
In closing, moving sucks. Wisdom Comes Suddenly. Moving on…(literally)…
Tags: The Girls
How many barrettes does it take to keep their bangs back? ALL THE BARRETTES.
At School Pick Up Last Week:
Me: Sara. Huh. So I see you gave yourself bangs at school today.
Sara: (Looking sheepish): Yeah.
Me: I thought you didn’t want bangs. You haven’t had them in years.
Sara: I don’t! I just got…upset. And so I cut off a piece of my hair!
Me: That’s a pretty big feeling to cut off your hair. What happened?
Sara: I had to miss part of recess.
Me: Did you get a lot of checks this week?
Sara: (Looking sheepish): Yeah. Talking in class. Not putting my name on my papers…it was not good. Lots of kids missed part of recess today.
Me: Did they cut their hair too? Was this a…”thing”?
Sara: NO! Can’t you just cut it to the bottom by my scalp and make it go away?
Me: That’s called a bald spot, and I promise, it will take your new bangs from bad to much, much worse. They aren’t that bad; in fact, I think they are cute. We’ll have Nicole over at the salon clean them up a bit. No biggie.
Sara: NO! I don’t want bangs!
Me: Little too late for that decision sweetie. You got ‘em. Don’t worry…hair grows quickly, especially yours. In the meantime, we can bobby pin them back, just like I do Kelly’s.
Kelly: WHY DO YOU DO THIS?
Sara: I DON’T KNOW! I JUST GOT NERVOUS AND I FELT BAD, AND THERE WERE SCISSORS IN MY HAND…SO I CUT MY HAIR!
Kelly: NO. Not why did you cut your hair. Why do you cut the FRONT? When I want to cut my hair, I just lift up the back and take a chunk out from underneath! No one can even SEE IT!
[We will bleep over everything I said from this point forward. Nicole did a lovely job of shaping Sara's new-do, and she's received so many compliments on her bangs, she feels much better about the entire "event". Luckily, they are just long enough to pull into a braid, and with a few tiny bobby pins, she can choose to look like the old Sara. Holding my breath for what these two do to their hair in high school.]
Tags: The Girls
Not so much a scarf, as a cancer.
I’m less of a trend-follower, and more of a trend-noticer. As a purist consignment shopper, I have to beg out of most trends, using the claim, “I’m eclectic”, or “I like a more classic look”. That’s my way of saying I’m too cheap to shop at the Mall. However, I’ve noticed scarves have staying power this time around, filling up the second hand stores. As they have progressed into our wardrobes, I can’t help but also notice they are getting bigger. Like…MUCH BIGGER. Like…I think they may be DEVOURING OUR BODIES bigger.
Let’s take a walk through Pinterest and do some research, shall we?
This scarf has eaten her boobs. Her twin ladies were lunch. Her titty-tangs have been digested by knit.
Oh my God. Call for help! This scarf has eaten my arm, and most of my hand! Just the one! I don’t know why JUST THE ONE!
She might be entirely naked under here. You don’t know. She may not even know.
Having swallowed her hoo-hoo dillies, this scarf is now headed for her cha-cha. Not good. Not good at all.
Brain-eating scarf. Tragedy 101.
Your music teacher from 1982 called. She wants her scarf back.
We call this, “The whole world is your gynecologist” scarf. Or more delicately, the “I see London, I see France” technique.
Oh my God Becky! I’m wearing knit on my torso, my neck, and my head! My knit stole your knit’s boyfriend. SERIOUSLY.
This is NOT KNIT! It’s an actual LEOPARD! HELP ME!!!!
Remember when the chefs starting throwing different flavors together and calling it “fusion”? This is fusion-scarving. Plaid meets punk. It tastes as bad as it looks.
The opposite would be deconstructionist-scarving. I’ll admit it. I kind of want this scarf. I’m a rebel, and I like…twigs.
Camo AND monogramming? We’ve got the Belle of the South right here. The Scarlet O’Hara of scarves. This scarf may NOT be worn north of the Mason-Dixon line.
I’m breezy! And warm. Wait. Am I more breezy, or am I more warm? Well, I mean I’m freezing. Faux-leather jackets are NOT warm, per se. Screw it. I’m breezy.
Scarves, HERE! Come get your SCARVES, HEEE-RAH!
Because it morphs as you wear it, we call it the amoeba-scarf. It will eat you differently, every single day.
Yes, I always look like I JUST left the beach. But it was chilly…which is why I’m wearing a scarf. With flip flops and a tank top.
When you are fully eaten by your scarf, you become a scarf zombie, as shown above.
Your awesome zombie colors eventually fade, and you look like this, aka, the 7th layer of scarf hell.
Unless you’re eaten by a head scarf, in which case you will suffer from sudden scarf death. A scarf postmortem patient is pictured above.
Just say no to head scarves you guys. It only takes one scarf to kill you.
This scarf beat your scarf for Prom Queen.
We look ridiculous.
NO, we don’t.
We look like knit-twins! This is stupid!
Shut up and try to look natural. Like we were supposed to call each other and check outfits?
You’re right. We’re not in middle school. OK. We look awesome. We are 7 feet tall, after all.
Just promise me you’ll never do this. N-E-V-E-R. I’m not kidding…pinkie swear this very second.
Cover your heart, Indy!
I’m being eaten by a boa constrictor, a boa constrictor, a boa constrictor…
No, really, don’t take my picture. I’m in Scarves Anonymous. And Louis Vuitton Anonymous. And Kate Spade Ballet Flats Anonymous.
I’m just going to say it: No matter how complex the technique, the scarf looks the same. Like a tangled mess of crap.
Above you see the drape, wrap, wrap again, tuck, pull-under, and tie technique, or DWWATPUATT, for short.
My case in point. Finished look? Turd pile around your neck.
What was I supposed to pick up at the store? Ugh. I can’t remember! This scarf has been cutting oxygen off to my brain for months. Can’t…take…it…off…
If you’ve enjoyed our review of female-eating scarves, please leave a comment, and I shall proceed with other trends. I think we all know what needs to be tackled next:
The Dreaded Chest-Eating Necklace Trend.
DUDES. I’d need to halo brace to hold that thing up.
“I’m wearing the entire sun around my neck! SELFIE!”
Tags: The Girls
October 5th, 2014 · Comments Off
It’s October. October is long for us. Very, very long. A) Kelly hates, and I mean HATES Halloween. Scary, grotesque, ridiculously frightening holiday for any girl who lives most of her day in fantasy. Kelly doesn’t yet separate real from fantasy, and by God, there is just no way to make this phase pass. B) The majority of her stuffed animals have been in storage for almost 6 months. They are real to her, and therefore, we hear about their peril. Every.single.day. For 6 months, Kelly’s stuffed animals are suffering.
We just don’t have the room in this apartment, and we’ve kept as many as we can manage. Greg was regularly taking her to switch them out in storage so she could check on their welfare, but by mid-summer, it just became too much for her. The tears! We went stuffed animal cold turkey, and it seemed to help. That, and Papa Bump sending her an insane amount of birthday money which he insisted she spend entirely on stuffed animals. As he was near death, I let her. He suckered me with all that surviving and thriving he did afterwards. Those two probably cooked up his heart attack, just to add to her collection. DO NOT PUT THIS PAST THEM! I know when I’ve been schnookered by Ira and his tiny twin.
It was with sadness and great sincerity that Kelly informed me last week her stuffed animals had contracted an illness known as “aidrocardinoids” (she spelled it for me, and it’s apparently pronounced “eye-dro-card-in-oids”). She gave me the woeful turn of events thusly: Her raccoon decided he wanted the unicorns’ food, so he poisoned them. In his haste to cover up the crime (as if being a bandit-faced raccoon surrounded by dead unicorns wasn’t incriminating enough), he failed to wash his hands. As he must suffer from some version of a stuffed animal anti-social personality disorder, he then went out and shook the hands of every stuffed animal in the forest.
Casualties of War
And there you have it. Her entire collection in storage has a poison-induced disease known as “aidrocardinoids”. I had her recant the entire tale to her father over the phone while he was at work, and when they said their goodbyes, she replied, “Daddy is finally taking me seriously. I’m so relieved he understands my stuffed animals.” Unfortunately, their survival is dubious. In fact, she told my friend Stephanie last Friday, “They’re dead. They are ALL DEAD.” She recanted her story the next day when she discovered the WORLD’S GREATEST AND MOST AWESOME HALLOWEEN COSTUME!! OH MOMMY, CAN I HAVE IT?! PLEASE?! I MUST HAVE IT.
I told her she was welcome to spend her remaining birthday money on it, as she is on a stuffed-animal-purchasing hiatus. She replied,”That’s actually a much better plan. I don’t WANT to buy any stuffed animals during this aidrocardinoids crisis. They’ll only the spread the disease to the new animals. The cure is probably plant-based, because most cures are. I think we’ll find the answer in a flower, but it’s fall. The flowers are dying. I don’t see a cure arriving until spring. So, you see, I should buy this Queen costume instead. It’s just the smart thing to do, considering.” I was rather relieved to hear they weren’t “all dead”. Starting her collection over from scratch IS SIMPLY NOT HAPPENING.
So this is the story of how Kelly is finally looking forward to Halloween. She couldn’t be more excited to be a beautiful, pink Queen in a hoop skirt. Please don’t take that to mean she wants to leave the house or enter into any stores not pre-shopped by me (I have to go in first and check out the Halloween decor…if it’s scary…she isn’t going). That doesn’t mean she doesn’t cringe every time we get in the car. Scary ads for haunted houses drive her nuts. She has their locations memorized all over the city. In fact, I had to send my poison pen over to Simon Malls just this morning for a tasteless ad hanging in the center of the Castleton Mall. Shame on you Simon! Toddlers see that nasty sign every day! Scaring little kids is just gross.
While on the stuffed animal wagon, she convinced Daddy to MAKE her a lovey! Mommy’s scraps and a Sharpie. Advantage: Daddy.
This evolution of events hit me hard. Her stuffed animals are near death and she is almost-kind-of-sort-of wishing for Halloween. Does this smack of the end of her fantastical thinking? Huh. Do I wish for this to pass? I do and I don’t. Kelly has always been a little detached from reality, and I cannot imagine her any other way. I cannot imagine relating to her day-to-day without adjusting my frame of reference to include the reality of fairies, pragmatic conversations with an endless sea of loveys, and the hope that Santa will bring the imaginary toys she invents in her mind. It can be very challenging to hold a conversation with Kelly, but her fantasy has become my reality. Perhaps I like it more than I care to admit…
I have assured her the stuffed animals will be the first things to move into the new house, assuming that while I’m neck-deep in boxes, she’ll beg me to set up a triage center in the middle of the mess. If any of you have critical care stuffed animal nurses you could spare, I’d be so very grateful. Greg is on the opposite side of the fence. He thinks this evolution spells a new, and darker depth, of Kelly’s imaginary world. He sees Stephen King novels in her future. Wow. I suddenly feel a lose-lose scenario coming on. Either way, the next few weeks are sure to be a wild ride. Stay tuned…
Tags: The Girls
Sara is studying James Whitcomb Riley, so we could assume a poem assignment would make an appearance. Per her usual, she built a “homework tent” for privacy, and emerged with this little gem:
My Auntie is like a friend to me.
She plays, she talks, she’s awesome.
She plays like a monkey,
She dances like a diva.
Even the pink hue of my walls reminds me of us together.
The day on the water in the yellow canoe stays with me forever.
I love my Auntie. She is cool!
Yep. Your Auntie is cool. Very soon it will be time to make the trek home to celebrate with her and Almost Uncle Aaron. So much excitement. So much preparation. So much anticipation at the idea of an engagement party which certain young ladies are old enough to attend. The formality of it all! The dresses! The shoes! They couldn’t hold more love in their hearts for these two…as they are already filled to overflowing. Get some rest Auntie. Your biggest fans are talking of nothing but…
Tags: The Girls
October 1st, 2014 · Comments Off
Greg and I have long felt this picture best represents the MO of our apartment complex. This electrical pole has been sitting in the center of the turn lane into our complex for many months, along with the brilliant concrete barrier that keeps drivers from plowing into it. When we pass it, we like to say, “Welcome! Where execution requires zero planning whatsoever!”
In a few short weeks we’ll be driving out of this hell hole for the last time. I won’t cry, I promise. But where will we find our too-hard-to-believe stories now? Just this past week we were given a spry 12 hours notice to move our cars, lest they be towed during the repaving project. As I parked far, far away on the day of the repaving, the maintenance team hollered through the tar-soaked air that I had 3 days to once again, “secure my pets”. It was time for annual maintenance. Annual? As opposed to the daily I receive now? It involved the furnace, repainting my front door, and other invasions of privacy that caused me to take off and hang out at the coffee shop for a while. It wasn’t nearly as loud as the city crew in my back yard, who are ripping out the sidewalk behind our newest abode; at least those guys don’t randomly poke their head in my front door, yelling out random names of missing crewmen. I finally shut and locked my wet door. Screw it. I wanted to make my soup in peace.
But my favorite event this past month has to be our meeting of the new Property Manager (even more fun than our 6th visit from the cable company, when the exasperated technician said, “Honestly, nothing in this complex ever works correctly.”). Greg had reason to stop by the office, as they charged us $50 for not moving our utilities “in a timely manner”. I guess moving the utilities the same day you are notified of the new address isn’t fast enough.
Manager: I’m not sure how this happened. I’ll credit your account.
Greg: I’ll take it off the rent as you still haven’t credited our account for our moving expenses. Which I’ll be withholding from the rent check as well.
Manager: Sure! And how has your stay here with us been? Has it been pleasant?
Greg: The last manager didn’t tell you?
Manager: Tell me what?
Greg: We’re SUING you. This has been an unlivable nightmare. Horrible summer of misery.
Manager: OH. I’m so sorry. I didn’t know.
Greg: Let me give you a piece of advice: whatever you do, avoid my wife.
Manager: Oh, no. I definitely want to meet her.
Greg: No, you don’t.
Manager: But I do! I want to hear from her about her concerns.
Greg: NO….you DON’T. Trust me. Stay…away…from…Lori.
Manager: Tell her I’m here, and she is welcome to stop by anytime.
Greg: You should hope that doesn’t happen.
But it did happen. I did stop by. I did hand over the now 4-page list, detailing our summer adventures. I smiled politely, and told them if they change anything, they should keep the electrical pole at the front entrance. Because if you can’t be a good example, you can at least be a horrible warning.
Tags: The Girls
September 28th, 2014 · Comments Off
When I try to think honestly about how long it has taken me to write this piece, the truthful answer is 5 years. I started writing it on paper 2 years ago, after 3 years of stewing. And I erased it. Erased it again. Screamed at it. Let Greg read it. Agreed with him it should be erased…
Last summer a writer named Lisa Endlich Heffernan wrote a piece on The Huffington Post, covering her regrets for choosing to be a Stay At Home Mother. I was floored. I talked to all of my friends about her article, trying to make heads or tails of it. I have many notes scribbled on restaurant napkins, most covered in pizza sauce…it’s not pretty.
Finally, my friend of many decades, Melissa, said to me (as we stood with our feet in a creek watching our children hunt for crawdads), “You HAVE to write it. I need you to write it. You CAN write it.” So I did, every single day for 2 months. I wanted my words to come from love. I wanted to join us together, not split us apart. I wanted to be OK with walking away from my career, not just in my heart, but in my head. I’ve always been at peace with leaving my job, but honestly? I’ve never been able to put words to these emotions.
My 9 Non-Regrets of Being A SAHM, published at Indy’s Child, Dayton’s Parent, and Cincinnati Parent online magazines.
Tags: The Girls
I would plant for you a field of Mums, and turn away anyone so lofty as to add the chysanthe- to the front (unless they were referring to the great literature of Kevin Henkes, in which case, we would become fast friends). I would build over-sized vignettes of Indian Corn, pumpkins, and disgustingly mutant gourds on your front porch, so you could greet both fall, and your visitors, in high style. We would sit on the porch and drink spiced cider, giggling our inside joke that ALL corn is actually Indian Corn. City folk make us laugh. Then we’ll sigh and complain the 73 degree sunny days are too few, because we know 30 degree mornings will be upon soon. Mums don’t last long enough, and neither does autumn, but one truth remains the same: Indian Corn is forever. Ha!
Get up off that chair, or we’ll miss the Fall Festivals! I’m not going to miss the chance to see the predictable painted saws (who buys these, and where do they hang them?) and crocheted toilet paper koozies. There is nothing I hate more than lonely, cold toilet paper, just waiting its turn. We’re not leaving until we’ve seen at LEAST 15 different scarecrows holding “Happy Fall Y’all!” signs, and 200 sweaters handmade in Peru. It’s our PROCESS. It’s TRADITION.
Maybe we should stop at the orchard on the way home. It was too cool of a summer for the apples to be very sweet, so I’ll get double the Jonathons as I did last year. RATIO! You can’t make a decent pie without thinking through your ratio! Wouldn’t fried biscuits with apple butter taste just right at this very moment? We could stop by the pumpkin patch, and marvel at how children always choose pumpkins double their body weight. Every.single.time. Ain’t no way we’re hauling those things. Buy it at the grocery and they’ll take it to your car for free.
Beautiful Fall. Beautiful friends. Beautiful times spent marveling at the abundance of it all. I would plant you a field full of mums, so you could have them in every color. Just because….just because.
Tags: The Girls
September 24th, 2014 · Comments Off
Finally. Swimming has started. Everyone has been so kind as to ask if Sara has started in the new swim season. It felt as if it would never begin, due to pool renovations, etc. But she has 3 practices on the “big kid” team under her belt, and I can SEE her spirit centering.
Today she reported giving up a few minutes of recess in order to complete a math worksheet with her swim buddy on the playground. They asked the teacher if they could finish it up, rather than take it home, as they had practice tonight, and it was very important to them to get their work done. WHO? WHAT? I don’t….there are no words….
Or to quote Sara’s response to my stunned expression, “What’s the big deal? It only took us a minute to finish, which is way faster than lugging it home, pulling it out, remembering what we were doing…geez. Easy peasy….1 minute and a clipboard and DONE.”
I then requested my alternate Universe ticket be punched for a return home fare, because I had clearly left my home planet.
Everyone has been so kind to ask if Sydney is on the mend. The world’s healthiest senior cat has clear Xrays and perfect labs, which means she has stress-induced gastritis. Why? Just because the city is now ripping up the sidewalk behind the apartment with jackhammers all day? Just because we were given 15 hours notice the entire parking lot was to be repaved, and we’ll have to park and walk for the next week, surrounded by the odoriferous joy of hot tar? I think she’s OK. She puked all over my pants last night, but seems better today. The lines between sleepy, happy, and just flat-out dead are very fine lines with Syd.
Everyone has been so kind to ask about my Grandfather. In a very unexpected turn of fate, he survived a very unlikely set of intensive care events. After being removed from life support, and living, he next had to survive two risky procedures to save his legs. They worked. He had some mild cognitive impairment from his prolonged Code. He all but walked it off. He wouldn’t eat. I cooked some food. He ate. He is now home from rehab with part-time live-in assistance (aka, my mother), and when I called today, he was playing the guitar. He’s down to 2 Physical Therapy appointments per week, because he’s been kicked out of Occupational Therapy. Too healthy. Tomorrow he’ll turn 89, and just to write those words, I think I must be dreaming. Again…punch that return ticket to reality! Or not. It’s nice to see him happy and home where he wishes to be.
And last, but not least, I receive daily questions about the house. The sunny, wood floors are in, front door is on, fireplace is up, bathrooms are finished, even the doorbell works…house. It won’t be long now. In fact, we’re in the last-month home stretch. There’s so much living left to be done before we pack the boxes and go, but we’ve come so far. We’ve been through so much. Surely the sun will wait for me until I can get us home…
Tags: The Girls
September 23rd, 2014 · Comments Off
Gotcha! You didn’t really think I put in an infinity pool? Well, I WOULD HAVE, except Greg has this “value system” which includes ideals like “we don’t empty out our 401K’s to put in infinity pools”.
We compromised. As we built on the only hill in central Indiana, we put in an infinity driveway. It’s the newest thing. Well…I’m turning it into a thing. Seriously. It’s going to be BIG. HUGE. Look it up.
Or look DOWN, because you can actually dive off our driveway, into sweet, sparkly gravel. Refreshing. As the girls and I peered over the edge I had only 2 thoughts:
(1) This is going to be dreadful when we have teenage drivers. I see a lip around this driveway in the distant future.
(2) SLEDDING HILL. Awesome! I’ve wanted my own sledding hill my entire life. Roxanne and Stacey from the block were super great about letting me sled on theirs, but man-oh-man, did I want one of my own. OH. Wait. Were you thinking it would be cool for my kids? Get in LINE. I call major DIBS on that hill!
Tags: The Girls