For Your Children

When I got online this morning at work, my google alerts popped up with news of a shooting in Ohio; specifically, a school shooting. I also heard about it through Twitter via Katy (for some reason WordPress won’t let me hyperlink…, who lives not far from the school where the shooting happened.

These are the things that make my heart, quite literally, sink and my stomach turn and I’m faced with stark fear and dread. I’m overwhelmed by the choices we make for our children everyday: what we feed them, what we allow them to see on television, what we purchase. We teach them about health and exercise and being a good person, about treating others as you want to be treated. We teach them how to hold our hands when we crossing the street, about looking both ways, about not talking to strangers. We help them memorize phone numbers and addresses; we teach them to be responsible and kind.

Where on that list is the line item that tells us how to teach our kids what do to when a fellow student walks in to the cafeteria and starts firing a gun at people? Where is that? Because I can’t explain it, even to myself, and I sure as hell don’t know how to explain something like that to my five year-old.

And we shouldn’t have to be afraid to send our children to school. But I am.


So I, uh… I got a job. I’ve been at home for three years, essentially; I worked full-time while Georgia was little and then left my job when Adele was born (2 kids at full-time daycare + one nonprofit salary = you do the math) and I wanted to do that, anyway. So I had a wonderful three years at home, spending time with Adele and being able to pick Georgia up from preschool at 3 every day. We did music classes, we had playdates, I did photography on weekends, and it worked really well for us. At the beginning of this year, though, we sat down and looked really hard at our budget and it was just time for me to go back. We’ve made a lot of sacrifices over these past few years to keep me at home, and while it worked and was FINE, it was time to make the big change and for me to go back to work.

Georgia is in kindergarten now at an amazing school downtown (we love it and she loves it) and Adele is going to the same preschool where Georgia went at her age. Both schools have an afterschool option; Georgia takes Spanish at hers, and A has SPanish and music classes. Truly, we’re so lucky to have options that we’re happy with and that make both girls comfortable. It’s win/win. Well, except for the guilt. Because how can there not be mom guilt involved in all this?

My second week of work (last week) both girls got horribly ill. Ear infections, bronchial infections, antibiotics… the works. And both of them are normally fairly healthy, as it happens; I can’t remember the last time that they were both sick, especially at the same time. But of course, since it was my second week, I really felt like I couldn’t call in sick, so Casey took take two and a half days off work. I took a half day that third day so I could give Casey time to get to his office, and I felt rotten that I couldn’t be at home when my girls both wanted me there. But I also didn’t want my boss to think that I’m going to be the kind of employee who hops off at a moment’s notice, so… you know. Lose/lose situation here. My boss was very understanding and couldn’t have been nicer about it, but you know how it is. SECOND WEEK OF WORK.

In any case, I think the job is a good fit for me, and for my family. It’s pretty flexible, so that’s a good thing, and the people I work with are incredibly nice. It’s a small team, and that’s a nice thing, too. I think the girls are adjusting well (G better than A, understandably) and we’re still managing to eat dinner all together every night and get the girls to bed at a reasonable hour. It’s a little crazy, but I’m sure we can make it work.

Speaking of dinner, I’d like to ask you all a few questions about your dinner routines. Until I started work, I cooked every night. Not an exaggeration; I cooked dinner EVERY NIGHT. We rarely eat out; by rarely, I mean maybe once every two months, and that includes getting takeout or pizza or anything. I cooked every weeknight and usually Saturday, and Casey cooked on Sundays (his meals are way better than mine, btw, because he uses a cookbook and goes out to get the fancy ingredients and I’m all “hey! chicken and broccoli stir-fry and a salad! Enjoy!”) Nowadays, Casey gets home before I do and starts the dinner; last night he cooked pounded breaded pork chops and pasta and garlic-sauteed spinach. I am totally ok with this, by the way. I have no problem with being the cleaner-upper (we have a deal – – whoever cooks doesn’t do the clean up) and it seems to be working well so far. So, in your house, how does your family do dinner? Do you take turns cooking? Do takeout? Do crock-pot cooking? Do you eat all together or feed the kids first? Share the secrets, ya’ll.

Thank You, Internet

This is my beautiful grandmother. Her name was Isabel, but her grandchildren called her Danny.

danny and adele

She was an amazing, loving, smart funny woman who loved and was loved by all who knew her. She was truly selfless, which is an incredible and rare trait, and I loved her so much.

She passed away on November 5, at home, surrounded by her children. Everyone should get to exit their life in such a graceful, calm way… she was a graceful and calm woman, so it surprised no one.

For the past five years, she had been fighting an increasingly difficult battle with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and it was so hard for her; though, even when she didn’t recognize the people around her, she was constantly thanking them for helping her. She was, in short, always a lady.

The morning of her funeral, after I had flown to Louisiana quickly with my sister and was staying with my parents, I thought for a moment and updated twitter with a quick note:

“Saying goodbye to my beloved grandmother this morning. Hard, hard day.”

I had debated whether to say anything online at all, because it seemed so personal. But if there’s anything I’ve learned about the internet lately, it’s that these people I communicate with daily, some of whom I have never met and some I never will meet… these people are friends. I can’t tell you the number of @ replies, DM’s, texts and emails I received immediately following my tweet, and it made me feel loved and supported and helped. I had such support from my friends and family, and it was invaluable;  the unexpected response from you lovely internet people meant the world to me.

I like to think my Danny would have approved; she loved good friends.

Thank you, internet. Thank you so much.

girls grinning

I COULD Actually Update. I realize this.

Allow me to dust off Ye Olde Blogge in honor of this past weekend, which was The Blathering. Ya’ll, THE BLATHERING. And it was here in my backyard! (Well, not my actual backyard. But in Austin!) This was both really awesome and really hard. I didn’t have to fly anywhere to get to meet a bunch of amazing women I’ve been reading forever, but on the other hand, I didn’t GET to fly anywhere to meet a bunch of amazing women. And what I mean by that is that since I live here, I didn’t feel like I could just wave goodbye to Casey and the kids and be all “See ya! Off to Blather!” for the whole weekend. It would have felt odd to do that, and so I went to just a handful of the activities. BUT.

They were AWESOME activities. I got to meet so many amazing, funny, smart, witty women and I just… well, I can’t wait until next year. I didn’t even get to meet everyone! I am bereft! But those of you I did meet, you are fabulous and incredible and I sure wish you’d come back to Austin again soon. So, in your honor, I have a round-up of sorts. Please know that I loved everyone I met and could have talked to you all for hours and days and weeks; when I think of this weekend, here are a few things that stick out in my mind.

1. Best Decorating Blatheringer: Elizabeth. Man, that lady is CRAFTY. Her decorations were so fun and colorful and clever and I kind of want to wear my Blathering name tag everywhere. (That’s not weird at all.) Plus she’s thoughtful and smart and I so enjoyed meeting her.

2. Best Accessorizer: (Shut it. It’s totally a word) Christina. I want every single piece of jewelry she wore during the weekend. Also her headbands. And her smile. (Though I didn’t get to hear her say “hot ham!” which is my favorite expression of hers and which I’m attempting to appropriate.)

3. Best Sport: SarahLena. OH MY LORD ya’ll she flew standby and kept getting bumped and SLEPT AT THE AIRPORT ON SUNDAY NIGHT and SarahLena please come back some day I swear Austin isn’t so bad. I’ll host you and make you cookies and anything you want. (Also, I so, so, so enjoyed talking with you on Friday night.)

4. Best Organizer: A’Dell. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I know the organzing a dinner for 50 people flying from all over the country was probably a task that drove you to drink, and you are awesome. (For many other reasons as well, but thank you for all of your skills that made the weekend happen.)

5. Best Stories: Emily. Two phrases that, when paired, will have me laughing long after this weekend: car wreck and azaleas.

6. Best Hair: Lauren. (Seriously. She is going to think I’m a hair stalker.) Also, Lauren, I loved getting to talk with you and wish we had had more time to chat! Also, Walker Percy is one of my favorite authors in the world and I love that you have one of my favorite quotes of his on your blog header.

7. Best Fellow Austinite and Champagne Gifter: Regan. I love that I get to hang out with you more than just once a year, and thanks for not minding that my kid keeps trying to feed your baby a pacifier.

8. Best Houseguests: Elisabeth, Natalie and Jonna. You girls are AMAZING. I love you all and I want you to come back any time you feel like it. I mean that. (Jonna: coughBRINGSAMcough)

9. Best “Felt Like I Already Knew You” Ladies: Kristie and Manda. I truly think that we would become friends regardless of the situation in which we met. You are lovely, funny, wonderful people and I can’t wait to get to hang out again sometime.

10. Best Everyone I Didn’t Get to Meet: I am so sad about that, and I hope that we all get together next year because I DO want to meet all of you!

And finally, I have to give a Best Introducing Me to the Internet People Award to Jennie, without whom I would not be writing for Style Lush, would not have met ANY of you lovely ladies, and whom I am grateful to for friendship.

Blathering ladies, thanks a million. I’ll be back next year.



The Other Shoe

First off, THANK YOU for the comments on my last post… I so appreciate knowing that ya’ll didn’t think I was crazy for my reaction to the Popped Pool Toy situation. In fact, I felt so good after reading all of those that I was able to quit thinking about the whole situation altogether! So thank you, thank you.

Now on to something much less controversial, and, in my opinion, a much bigger thing to think about. I’m pretty much an optimist, first and foremost. I think about the worst thing that could happen, as many people probably do, but I don’t sit around waiting for the other shoe to drop. When things are good, I try to feel lucky and not dwell on the negatives, though I’m certainly guilty of that more than I’d like.

I’m not sure how many of you follow Jennifer Perillo on Twitter or via her blog, but she unexpectedly lost her husband last week. With no warning, she not only lost the love of her life but also the father of her two daughters. One Sunday morning, she woke up with her family intact, and when she went to bed that night, her family was changed forever.

I’m married to the love of my life, and I have two daughters. I haven’t stopped thinking about Jennifer, and though I don’t know her personally, I suspect she’ll be on my mind and in my prayers often and for a long time to come.

And then today, my mom called. Her cousin, the father of two middle-school aged daughters whom my daughters ADORE, had a completely unexpected heart attack and died yesterday. His wife is now a widow. His daughters have lost their daddy. He won’t see them graduate high school, go to college, get married, have children. He and his wife won’t grow old together. They lost him. LOST him. I can’t wrap my mind around it.

So, for Jennifer and for my cousins, I’m going to remember that the little things, the bothersome things, the daily annoyances pale in comparison to the fact that I HAVE my loves. I’m going to try to remember this often, and regularly, and be thankful.

Jennifer, my condolences for your terrible loss. I’ll be thinking of you and of Mikey and your beautiful girls, with much love.

There’s a Reason I Only Have Two

Given that it’s still so hot, we pretty much make it to a pool every day. We’re lucky to have lots of free city pools, and when I’m by myself I almost always end up taking the girls to one of the shallower wading pools. I can sit and cool off, and it’s shallow enough that the girls can fling themselves around and can still stand up on their own. I don’t usually take them to regular pools by myself because there’s a lot of “Mama! Watch THIS!” and sometimes I’m not fast enough to get there to stop one or both of the girls from doing themselves bodily harm. Adele has a slightly chipped front tooth which resulted from this very situation, so I usually just stick to the little pools. In any case, though, we were meeting another adult yesterday for a swim, so we went to a big pool. Extra adult eyes FTW!

At the big pool, there were a few other parents with kids; one was a mom with four children. Four children is fine! Four children is lovely! Four children is too many for one person to watch easily IN A POOL.

We showed up with our little inflatable monkey inner tube, which Adele likes to use even though she’s pretty comfortable swimming on her own or being held by an adult in the water. We brought it in the pool with us at first, but then just left it on the side as she didn’t feel like using it at that moment. An older boy of about 8, the oldest of the four aforementioned kids, came along an grabbed it to play with it. I have NO problem with this; whenever we bring toys to the pool, other people wind up playing with them, and it’s totally fine. If we’re leaving, I ask for them back and it’s no big deal. Sharing! It’s a good thing!

So this boy was being pretty rough with the monkey and I asked him to please be careful with it, since it’s really for babies and not really meant for older kids. His mom was within earshot, but said nothing; I wasn’t being rude, just matter-of-fact. Side note: I REALLY don’t like disciplining other people’s kids. Like, EVER.

He calmed down a little, but then I saw him sitting on it again and submerging it a few minutes later; Adele saw him too and asked for me to get it back, so I did. (Politely.) May I also make note of the fact that he’s said nothing to me during all of this? Not an “ok, I’ll be careful” or anything along those lines. No big deal, but worth noting.

She used it for a few minutes and was finished with it, so I put it back on the side of the pool and the boy’s little sister (maybe 2 years old?) grabbed it. Again, TOTALLY FINE until he came back up, grabbed it from her and started jumping in to the pool while sitting on it. Again, mom is within earshot; she can see he grabbed it away from his sister (who is now wailing) and has done nothing. I go up, politely let him know that his sister was using it, that it’s REALLY FOR LITTLE BABIES, and I put it under our swim bag, up on the deck away from the pool. We go back to swimming.

Then the little sister sees it, takes it from under our bag and puts it on. Again, FINE. I’m really just trying to keep it from her brother at this point. He runs up to grab it from her, yanks it off her body and POPS IT. Adele sees and starts shrieking because hello, she is TWO and it’s HER TOY.

The mom (finally) comes over and says “Oh, did they pop your toy?” I say yes, because they did, but I’m also holding Adele and trying to calm her down because she’s really upset. And the mom says “Did they apologize to you?”

OKAY. Here is where I need input. Had it been me, I would have had the child apologize to Adele. And probably to me, since I had already tried to keep the toy from him SEVERAL times without input from his mother. The mother, however, did not do this. I said that they had not apologized (really, it was just the boy who needed to) and she… did not do anything. She did not reprimand him other than to say “that really wasn’t nice” and people? SHE did not apologize to me or to Adele.

This is something, as a parent, that I do. If my child is behaving in a manner that justifies apology, I apologize FOR them. I then handle it with my child on my own, after having my child ALSO apologize. And, had my child broken someone else’s toy, I would certainly have offered to pay for it. (That’s really not at all the issue, though… it’s more the principle of the thing in this situation.)

I was really irritated with the whole thing, and we left not long after.

So my question is… am I wrong to be irritated? Should I just write it off? It takes a lot to get me hot under the collar, but for some reason I’m still annoyed when I think about this.

Thirty Three

As of Saturday last, I am thirty-three years old. (Side note: I’m not suddenly British, what with the order of that sentence. I would normally say “last Saturday” but I am feeling fancy, what with being THIRTY THREE and all.) Thirty three, in case you were wondering, feels an awful lot like thirty-two. I suspect that at thirty-five I’ll have some sort of seismic shift wherein my face will proclaim to the world “I feel MIDDLE AGED!” but so far I’m not there. I’m also discovering that the older I get, the less willing I would be to go back and relive the previous decade again. For example, when I was twenty-three, I was living in a New York city fourth floor walkup apartment that contained a bathroom with no sink. I… enjoy that my current bathroom has a sink. I wish it was a LARGER bathroom, as it is roughly the size of 3 bathmats stitched together, but hey, it has a sink, and I like to brush my teeth. Hoorah for sinks!

So. Thirty-three. Or, 33, because I’m getting ever closer to 34 as I type out “thirty-three” since it’s taking forever.

I’d like to accomplish a few things this year. This is no Mighty Branded Lifely Type List, but I’m starting a new year, dammit, and I am going to stop biting my nails if it KILLS ME SO HELP ME. I’m not the kind of biter who nibbles fingernails down to the quick… I do find that to be pretty gross, and that’s not my issue. No, my issue is nerves. I nibble out of habit, or stress, or during scary movies or TV shows that make me uncomfortable. This is why I cannot watch reality TV. Toddler and Tiaras? My fingers would be shredded to NUBS, I tell you.

Also, I’m going to improve my posture. (I know. Pass the Dentugrip.) I feel like I would FEEL taller if I stood up and didn’t stoop or hunch or slump, as I am wont to do. I’m slumping right now, in fact! As I type! Must stop this.

And now, for the Internet resolution.

The internet, people, is a great place, but I fear it’s taking over. There’s blogging. Twitter. Facebook. Google+. Pinterest. Spotify. Goodreads. So on. Et cetera. Add in any others you might wish to.

Not everyone needs or wants to know what I’m up to in every arena of my life. In fact, my internet life is fairly separate from my actual life in that I only have a few friends who read here. I have lots of friends who check in over at Style Lush (and you should too because it’s fabulous) but for the most part, the internet and real life don’t seem to overlap too often. Also, I think that the tendency to “check in” with the internet in case we missed something is becoming a phenomenon as well. I don’t want my kids to think that I live life with my phone in front of my face, but I KNOW that there are some days when that happens, for whatever reason. (Usually that reason involves lots of whining, and not by me.) So, an achievable balance with the internet is a third thing I’d like to do in this, my 33rd year. (See? British again.)

Since I’ve established that this year will include posture (good), biting (bad) and internet balance (achievable), I think it can happen. Now! Let us speak no more of the internet ON the internet, because if a tree falls on the internet and no one’s around to write about it on Twitter… WELL. You know.

Let’s talk about the weather instead! Everyone loves that! Seriously, I’ve never wanted to leave Texas so much during my time here. It is supremely boiling hot outside. I am, actually and literally, going to try to fry an egg on the sidewalk tomorrow, because I want to see what will happen. It is so, so hot, y’all. As in, over 105 degrees for more than 28 consecutive days hot.

Part 2 of our road trip involved a stop in North Carolina. I grew up going to summer camp in North Carolina, and I love it so much I can’t even put it in to words. A lot of my love for the state comes from the fact that I loved summer camp so much (LOVED IT. Even now I can sing you songs, should you desire. Look out, Blathering attendees!) but MAN, is that state beautiful. And green! Because it rains there! We have no such moisture here. We just sit around roasting in our own juices and complaining about the heat. The cold water runs tepid from the taps; I haven’t done a load of warm water laundry in weeks because why fire up the ol’ hot water heater when ALL THE WATER IS HOT ALREADY?

Anyway, North Carolina. I want to move there. And look at my camp!

We got to wander around a little, since it was rest time and we weren’t scaring any unsuspecting campers, and it was just the best thing in the world to be able to show Casey and my girls a place that means so much to me.

And Adele is totally considering jumping off that diving board.

In any case, it is cool there, and green, and rains regularly, and BY GOLLY if I can get Casey on board with this, we’re out of here. I cannot take it anymore. So if you’ve ever felt the urge to come visit Austin, come soon and you can stay with us. After that, you’re on your own.

Also, and apropos of nothing, is 33 too old for a nose piercing? Because I kind of really want one.