Thursday, December 29, 2011


Christmas vacation.  Here we are.  In the thick and in between Christmas and New Years with a delicious stretch of time to recover from both holidays.  The month leading up to Christmas is brimming with food and cookies at every turn, seasonal indulgences and late nights.  It’s a holiday marathon.  I loved most of it – and I feel proud that as a family we didn’t go overboard with presents for the girls or each other and kept the expectations reasonable and focused on our family.  Christmas Eve day my dad, Sophie, Katie and I cooked up an Italian feast of manicotti, meatballs, sausage and tiramisu.  We had a great day topped off with naps on the couch for all and Cliff and I high-fived each other for a job well done.  We made it through all of the Nutcracker rehearsals and performances, school celebrations and every present got wrapped. 

So much of preparing for the Christmas holiday - and most regular days for that matter- require enormous amounts of planning.  I feel as though everyday is planned –lunches in the morning, getting dressed, working, monitoring screen time, making sure the girls each eat a daily healthy dose of fruits, veggies and proteins. 

I am happily exhausted from a successful year (knock wood and sign of the cross because I am a superstitious Italian) of keeping the girls relatively healthy, smart and growing.  They may not know more of a foreign language than counting 1-10 in Spanish, but they take ballet and basketball, they don’t watch too much television, they have friends and run around and ride their bikes in the neighborhood and they like broccoli.  The bar is sometimes set unreasonably high for a parent in the 21ist Century.  But this is the time I live in so I do my best every single day.

However, this week I am taking a vacation from it all.  I am saying “Yes” to hours of old school Looney Tunes, “Absolutely!” to another cookie and “Sure, why not?!” to the jumpy house place.  I am putting on my cozy sweatpants by three in the afternoon and I am not going to berate myself for eating cookies with the girls or the copious amounts of wine I have happily consumed.  We all need a break from the everyday.  Sophie and Katie need it.  I need it.  And it will not stunt their intellectual and emotional growth if they watch Sponge Bob Square Pants for the afternoon and eat mac & cheese three days in a row.  Right now, it may just enrich them.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Moms in the City - Do you see what I see?

My Moms in the City column that ran in the Portsmouth Herarld today.  Enjoy!

The girls and I were driving home from basketball practice a few nights ago.  It was dark, illuminating the holiday lights adorning people’s houses.  “Katie, you say ‘ooooooh’ every time there is a display on your side, and I’ll say ‘ooooooo’ every time there is one on my side.  That way we know which way to look at the cool lights!”   Those girls had a rip-roaring time, oooooing and ahhhhing at all the houses.   The car vibrated with excitement and the two of them squealing – “Ooooooo!  Lookit!  Ooooooo!  More lights – those are red!  Purple!  Oh!  My!  Gosh – it’s a huge Rudolph!!  Mommy keep driving so we can see more houses that make us go, Oooooo!”

            As we finally pulled into our driveway after taking the long way home, it looked naked and empty with just the one, lonely outside light. Apparently Sophie and Katie were thinking the same as I was, because they started chirping, “Mommy, why don’t we have lights?  Can we put up lights?  Can we do it this weekend – PLEASE!!!??!”  I wasn’t running out to get a blow-up Santa, but our house needed a little Christmas cheer – and I was excited and ready to get our decorating on.

This year - for the first time - we put up outside Christmas lights.   In the past it seemed as if it would prove to be a herculean task, given all that is required to be a human being most days, let alone a human at Christmas time.  When the girls were babies, we were in such survival mode that anything extra – meaning a step above just decorating the tree - was enough to put me over the edge.  I must confess, I think there was a year when we didn’t even put up a tree. Negotiating a toddler who has the walking abilities of a drunken sailor at best plus a delicately adorned Christmas tree compounded with the thousand and one, “no touching, just looking please” that I robotically commanded everyday was too much.  It was the tree or my sanity.  Luckily my sanity eked it out that year.

Thankfully, those days of baby desperation are long past, because I have two girls who fully believe and at the very least expect a Christmas tree.  In our garage, we unearthed bags of white lights that we had left over from decorating the tent where we held our wedding reception.  We decided to wind them around the hydrangea bushes in our front yard.  At some point along the decorating process, I slipped inside to get dinner ready.  Cliff and the girls took over, testing lights, seeing which bulbs worked, plugging things in, and stepping back to admire their progress.   “Babe!”  Cliff called to me, “Do the girls and I have enough time before dinner to run to the store to get more lights?”  “Momma!”  Squealed Sophie, jumping and clapping, “We need more lights!”

There is no guarantee what holiday moments the girls are going to remember.   It is a good chance that they won’t remember the meal I cooked or maybe they won’t remember a single present they received this year.  But I do hope they remember the excitement of driving to the store with Cliff to get more lights, so we could have a house that when kids drive by they say, “Ooooooo!”  I know I will remember this one.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Inspiration Monday - err...what day is it?

I have humble expectations of myself to post a weekly Inspiration Monday.  Once a week, I write about what makes me smile and gives me that lift – a little tickle that gives my day to day some wings.  I have been cranking along, feeling good – and getting a rhythm with my writing.  They say writing is a muscle – if you don’t use it then it gets flabby.   I feel as though I am getting some nice tone and definition right now.  Right on I say.  Keep on truckin’. Sunday night I had an idea for this post that I was excited to work on.

And then the final push of the holiday has descended upon this house.  Did you know that I have two children?   They are eight and six and they believe in this guy named Santa and his flying animal friend Rudolph.  They are coming to town – soon.  So are my parents and my dad’s homemade manicotti. 

We have a few things to do around here -happy, fun, festive things.  But a few items to cross off the list and the to-do’s are occupying a large portion of my brain space.   I think at this very moment I am inspired to keep the mood light and moving forward and to embrace all of this.  And cut myself a little slack in the knowledge that I will not be writing the great American novel this week.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Here's another topic I have an opinion on

A little something I wrote for a great site  - femamom  about the Plan B emergency contraception.

 At least it's easy to get tampons and astroglide - for now

Monday, December 5, 2011

Inspiration Monday - This is what keeps me laughing at the supermarket

Many years ago, I had a friend who had a boyfriend named Brett.   Brett had a unique, smokey, quality to his body odor, that we called, “The shish-ka-bob”.  One Christmas season we were hanging out, laughing about Brett’s particular aroma and all things smokey.  We started making up new lyrics for songs and this line just stuck for The Christmas Song.  I can never, ever hear it without singing it…

“Brett’s nuts roasting on an open fire…”
We never got beyond the opening line to complete the song, so I repeat this line over and over throughout most of the season
Go on – see if it doesn’t stick in your head.  Happy Holidays!

Oh, and go over and wish my partner in crime Dorothea at My Mommy Bites a Happy Birthday!