Monday, September 23, 2013


When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.
~J.M. Barrie


When the boys were quite young, I remember saying to Superdad, "It will be a sad day when Peter Pan leaves this house for good."

Of course, like so many childish fancies, it didn't happen in a day, or in a moment that would be so easily noticed. Instead, it was more of a slow realization. And it wasn't exactly sadness, but more of a quiet wistfulness when my mind drifted back over days, weeks and months and couldn't remember the last time the boys had put on pirate coats, drawn their swords and sailed off for adventures unknown. They had left Neverland and it had taken awhile for me to notice.

This Thursday, the long-awaited launch our firstborn will finally happen. Granted, we are hardly sending him off to some foreign land and in theory could still see him frequently if we were all in agreement. But the winds are a-shifting and changes are on the horizon.

As we were looking ahead to this momentous occasion, Superdad and I agreed that we should take one last family hurrah knowing that family vacations with all of our children in tow may soon become difficult. In spite of my best efforts, my children do seem intent on growing up so that will mean different schedules, jobs, and responsibilities that will make it harder for us to coordinate travel together. They also may not want to! So, we knew we needed to grab this chance when we could still gather our chicks and they would willingly follow our lead.

Our boys may have left Neverland, but they haven't completely grown up....and there is still just a little bit of pixie dust in all of us.

Up early and ready for some Disney fun. They still love it!

We talked our cousins into coming with us for extra fun! 

More cousins and family! Could it get any better?!

The best!
So thankful we still have this little fairy for awhile.

The best send-off we could have asked for! Love this crew!

And NOW we are ready. We are ready for packing up clothes, loading up a dorm room, buying ridiculously expensive text books, asking two dozen times, "So, do you think you have everything you need?"- knowing that if he doesn't we are just a phone call away. We are all ready, because we have to be. It's time.

The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.
~J.M. Barrie

Jack, you have always believed you could fly. Don't stop now. 

We believe in you.

All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.
~J.M. Barrie

Friday, September 6, 2013

Before the storm

You know what is weird? When you spend a year being all hyper-focused on the fact that this is your oldest child's last year at home (well, last year living at home full time...hopefully...or at least until he graduates college...again, hopefully...and moves back home because the job market stinks for all those poor 20 somethings with their college educations and nowhere to go)...anywhooo... What is weird is when you get through all the stuff. The Senior Thesis, the College Applications, the re-taking of SAT's, the College Acceptances, the College Decision, the Prom, the Graduation, the strange summer after graduation when they are not really kids not really adults (I call it the 'Are You Still Here?' summer) survive all of that in preparation for the big goodbye and then....they don't leave.

At least not yet.

A lot of kids have already said their goodbyes. I know that. But that's what is adding to the weirdness around our household. Jack's chosen university is on the quarter system which generally means they start later in the fall and finish later in the spring. However, I have yet to hear of too many schools that start as late as Jack's does this year. He doesn't even move into his dorm until September 26. Three. More. Weeks. If I wasn't in possession of a university calendar myself I might start to wonder if Jack was trying to pull one over on us.

I feel like we have been ripping off a particularly sticky bandaid one millimeter at a time for the past 6 months.

It's not that I want him gone, don't get me wrong. He's not making this difficult or challenging or annoying. I mean, it wouldn't kill me if he wanted to step up his efforts around the house but even at that I have noticed him taking more initiative in small ways to help with basic household maintenance and taking responsibility for himself. Just yesterday he informed me he was working on washing all of his clothes and figuring out what he wants to take with him and what needs to be given away.

Rock on, big guy.

Rooney says, "Jack, please don't go."

There is a bizarre little expression I have been hearing in my neck of the woods over the past 6 months. I have no idea if this is some sort of well-known metaphor or if it is oddly indigenous to our area but here it is:

In reference to the tension that can sometimes exist between children poised to leave home (but still at home) and their parents, I have heard more than one of my friends say, "They have to soil the nest a little so you'll be ready for them to fly."

I don't know about you but that imagery just makes me go, ewwwww.

I personally think it's a disgusting way to explain the conundrum of a child with one foot in and one foot out, but I also imagine that for many parents it not only rings true but brings some relief. It's always helpful when our children are making us bonkers to be able to step back and view it from a more removed, philosophical vantage point. If we can say, "Ahhh! It's a natural stage of development. Perfectly normal. This too shall pass..." we can save ourselves from going down that dark pathway of, "AAACK!! WHAT IN THE HE&! IS WRONG WITH MY KID!!!"

I gotta say, I prefer the former to the latter.

So, I get the reason for the metaphor and I'm even sympathetic to why the imagery might strike some parents as frighteningly accurate, I just can't relate. And when I say I can't relate it is not in some smug, "Why, MY child would never be so awful/inconsiderate/out of control/rude...!" Ha. Please. I have never claimed anywhere at anytime in anyplace to have perfect children NOR to be the perfect parent. And I never will because 1) I really try not to willfully go around breaking commandments, including the 9th one and 2) all you'd have to do is meet my kids or peek in their bedrooms and the jig would be up.

I can't relate because for whatever reason (and I claim no responsibility) Jack is neither literally (thank goodness) nor figuratively "soiling the nest" during his final days living at home full time. He actually seems remarkably content. Which is either great or cause for concern but since I don't have much control either way, I'm going with staying neutral. He doesn't seem unhappy about leaving, but he doesn't seem unhappy about his extended stay either.

We are all of us in limbo. The other kids have started school, they leave in the morning and return in the afternoon and in the in-between time Jack does laundry, occasionally does some car detailing work for people, and gives careful consideration to what he will have for lunch everyday.

I like to think he is just pacing himself. He's enjoying the calm before the storm. The storm could either be awesome or it could be dreadful and there is no way for him to know. So, he's just sitting back, enjoying his bedroom, his easy access to chips and salsa, and maybe even his family before it all hits.

Smart kid. I should take a lesson from him.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


The minute I stopped caring about what other people thought and started doing what I wanted to do, is the minute I finally felt free. 
~Phil Dunphy

The school year has officially begun.

And I have a cold. 

The cold started a few days ago with a mighty sore throat which fizzled into sneezing, watery eyes and a runny nose, and now I feel mostly fine (sorta, kinda) except I sound like I am walking around with a clothespin on my nose. 

It's that voice where when people ask, "How are you?" and you mumble something about "having a little bit of a cold", they tilt their heads, take a few steps back and say..."Yeah. You sound like it."

Sorry about that, everyone I have spoken to or come in contact with in the last 24 hours.

But in spite of all that, I was up with plenty of time to get Annie up and ready, feed her something that resembled breakfast (none of my kids are good breakfast eaters), make her lunch, take a first day of school picture AND get to school ON TIME. BAM!

That is some stellar parenting right there, People. 

On. Time. Day 1 and we are batting a 1,000!!

Even Annie said as we pulled up to the parking lot and saw millions of uniformed children still running around the playground waiting to go inside, "Wow! We aren't even late!"

That's right, Sister. Mom is going all out this year.

I was riding high on the euphoria of our on-time arrival right up to the moment I started looking around at all of the other beaming, on-time moms and dads. Okay, mostly the moms...I don't care what the dads are doing. 

I'll tell you what they were doing. They were looking showered, freshly coiffed (yep, coiffed) and dressed in clothes that can only be described as an "outfit" is what they were doing.

Standing out in the parking lot this didn't strike me as too much of a big deal. The children were creating a huge distraction and were still the focal point of all those cameras, cellphone cameras and iPads (Seriously, who are you people who take photos with an iPad? I'm sorry but I fail to see how holding up something the size of a small television to take a picture is a step forward in technology). We were just a sea of parents waving goodbye to our little lemmings as they marched off the cliff.

But once all those little cuties disappeared into the building, the smoke and mirrors were gone. Poof. 

All of the parents started dutifully moving toward the church where the First Day Parent Coffee Get Out Your Checkbooks And Sign Up For Stuff Thingy was going on. That's when my skirted yoga pants, clunky running shoes, and going-on-day-two-without-a-shower-hair became a bit more of a liability. Inside that church hall it became glaringly evident that most parents felt showering and getting dressed (not only dressed, but dressed cute) was part of the First Day of School regimen.

Rats. I missed that memo.

There was a time this might have really bothered me. There was a time I wondered why I couldn't quite manage to be as pulled together as those other moms. There was a time when I might have left that gathering worried about the impression I had made and given myself a good 15 minute lecture on the way home (even though it's only two minutes to get home, but I would have sat in the car for the extra 13 minutes finishing my talking-to) about how it really should not be that hard to get up in time to shower and look presentable on your child's first day of school.

There was a time....but not anymore.

One of the things I've learned over this past year as I have tried to live with heightened awareness of my children's growing, changing, learning and eventually leaving is that as they are doing all of that growing, changing and learning, hopefully we are too.  And somewhere along the line in these 18 years of growing, I stopped worrying about little stuff like dropping off your kid in workout clothes and possibly picking her up still wearing those same workout clothes. 

I don't think you ever want to get to a place where you truly don't care what other people think of you. Because if you take that to it's furthest extreme that is really the root of narcissism. Of course we need to care about the feelings, perceptions and perspectives of others. We need to care insofar that we don't go around offending people and behaving like boors and showing up at weddings in a tube top. But while I applaud those moms today who had freshly washed hair, cute cropped jeans and the perfect top (I really do, I don't know how you do it), I don't feel badly that mom wasn't me today. 

It might be me tomorrow. You just never know.

But, seriously, don't hold your breath...