three

The twins are three years old.

Three years ago, almost to the day, we were bringing our tiny babies home from the NICU. Three years from now, we will be sending our girls off to first grade.

It’s amazing to think that they’ve grown up so much, and yet I haven’t aged.  It’s a miracle!

All about Ellie at Three

Elliana, the oldest by four minutes, is a very sweet, very engaged little girl.  She knows all of her letters and has even started writing some of them.  She has lovely little conversations with me and makes sure we don’t forget to pray before meals and bed time.

Her curly red hair shows no signs of fading away. Despite all of the stereotypes about redheads, Ellie’s most “redhead” trait is her fierce desire to stick to a plan.

She is a sensitive soul and has taken to saying, “You’re breaking my heart!” whenever her sister is gruff with her or we tell her she can’t do something.  She loves broccoli and pasta and meat.  She can take or leave dessert (more often leaving it).  She loves to “snuggle in” and watch a favorite show or read a favorite book.  She has seen frozen approximately three times and is trying desperately to sing along with the songs.

All about Carrie at Three

Carrigan is my little sparkler.  She has this shimmer in her eyes when she’s about to do something hilarious-or-dramatic-or inappropriate.  Her creativity is astounding.  Everything she touches can become something magical in her imagination; even dinner. This has lead to quite a few discussions about how inappropriate it is to play with food and that fingers dipped in peanut butter are NOT dinosaurs (Rawrrrr!!). But it has also lead to some very delightful discussions about imaginary scenarios.

She has developed a particular fascination with dinosaurs and tells me her favorite is the brachiosaurus.  She plays well by herself, but loves to drag her sister into an involved session of Paw Patrol. Her creative playtime is enthusiastic and vocal – it’s hard to hear oneself think while she’s growling like a dinosaur or hollering “Ryder! Come quick! We have an emergency at the beach!”

Carrie is a little social butterfly.  She loves to introduce her family and friends to new people.  We had pizza delivered the other day and she proudly told the pizza, “This is my friend my Mom and this is my friend my sister Ellie and I’m Carrie!” The pizza delivery guy was somewhat amused, but being a teenager, he wasn’t really sure how to respond.   It was adorable!

 

We celebrated the girls’ birthdays with a few small family gatherings with Frank’s family and my family, but for the first time we had a very low-key shindig at the Park District for the twins and a few of their friends.  They played on a tot gym, enjoyed some cake and colored.

The simple pleasures!

Happy 3rd Birthday Girls!

three things: sociology 101

Frank and I were lying in bed, writing a grocery list and figuring out what needed to be accomplished an afternoon last weekend when he squinted at my (mostly) dark brown hair.  The following conversation was documented on my Facebook page:

Frank: man. You’re going gray.

Me: I know.

Frank: I mean really. Wow. Like remember when I used to count them? Only God can count them now.

Ladies and gentlemen: he’s a keeper.

For the record, our whole conversation made me laugh. I am aging.  Every passing day and passing year is testament to that fact.  Frank, not immune to the effects of time, is also aware of the effects of time’s passage on his own person. Our faces are looser, our bodies are definitely outside of our prime.  We are tired from running after two jobs, two kids (soon to be three! whoa!) and life.

But the laugh lines and smile lines are also taking hold, happily, etching their places at the corners of our eyes and creating parenthesis around our grins.

Life is good.  Even when it hasn’t been, we’ve laughed together and been each other’s best friends.

People who know us, know what I write here is true.

I posted our funny exchange dryly on my Facebook page, smirking while I hit “post.” Before the first responses came back, I was chuckling to myself about my funny husband.

And then… Then I learned three things about people in a small microcosm of social media. To be certain, I am not naive – I have witnessed some of these behaviors in other spaces and places, but it hit a nerve watching the responses unfold in response to an every-day humorous exchange between Frank and me.

Thing one: Domestic Violence Is Not OK.

A friend flippantly commented that I should “slap” Frank for his remark.

For some reason, this seems to be a thing among women: it is OK to make threats about striking men – or even actually hitting a man.

That is ugly to me.  I cringe on the inside.

How can we, as women, say it is NOT OK to hit women, but at the same time say that it IS OK to hit men? While we complain about double standards I think it might be time to examine the double standards that women also use.

I also played through the response as though it was a man telling another man to slap his wife.  Certainly there would be absolute outrage about a comment like that.  But the thought of me hitting my husband was met with silence.

Of course, you could go down a rabbit hole with this one, but that is for smarter people than me. Suffice to say, I do not advocate for any violence against humans. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you and all that.

 

Thing two: Small Rudder, Big Ship.

I am reminded of the childhood playground mantra, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me!”

That horse crap mantra never worked. We are humans and at the essence of who we are is that we relate to other people. Words are part of that relationship and words can hurt, deeply.

In the Book of James in the Bible, there is a passage that refers to the tongue as a small rudder that steers a large ship.

That is truth.

When one of the responses called my sweet, funny husband an “ass” and demanded that he get a raise so I can pamper myself monthly, it hurt me and it irritated him.

Something to know about our marriage: we refuse to call each other names. I give Frank the most credit for maintaining this level of decorum in our arguments.  If you know Frank, you know that he is a professional, first and foremost.  He is professional in all facets of his life, even in our marriage.  This doesn’t mean he isn’t wrong at times or that he doesn’t make mistakes or that he hasn’t said things he’s later regretted.  But he does not scream to dominate an argument, he does not resort to name calling to distract from the true issue at hand and he keeps his language generally clean.

So to see those words written out and directed at my husband – my much better half, to be honest – left a bitter taste in my mouth.

This isn’t the first time that I’ve heard or witnessed such behavior from people, sadly. I’ve seen it live and in person. No matter the context, it is always off-putting and upsetting.

Those small words steer a large ship indeed.

 

Thing three: Humor.

Of course, throughout the responses were appropriate responses from people who know us best. One of my friends jokingly commiserated. A few cajoled Frank about his lack of gray hair due to his absolute lack of hair. One said that our humor was the sign that we were the best of friends.

One of the first times that Frank and I went out together, I remember thinking, “I have never laughed with anyone else like this – ever!” Our chemistry has always been punctuated by jokes and games and funny things we do to make the other smile. It is our way. (I documented a few of our quirky “I love you’s” a while ago)

In fairness, I did not include a smiley face or emoticon or other emotional clues to indicate that our conversation was funny.  I simply assumed that others would firstly, know us well enough to know that it was meant as a humorous exchange, and secondly, that even if others did not know us well enough, that they would assume that I would not post a conversation like that out of anger, hurt or some other negative emotion.

Perhaps the conversation may have been sort of a Rorschach test, revealing more about the people responding than it did about the people having the conversation. I don’t know.

I deleted the conversation in its entirety from my Facebook page because it brought out some negativity that I personally didn’t enjoy and, well, it’s my Facebook page and I’ll do what I want to.

Emily, out.

contextual learning

***DISCLAIMER: THIS IS A PG-13 POST.  PLEASE READ WITH CAUTION. PLEASE DO NOT READ IF YOU ARE NOW OR EVER HAVE BEEN A PASTOR OF OURS (HI BILL). OR IF YOU ARE MY MOTHER-IN-LAW. INSTEAD, READ THIS.***

As an observational-type learner, I tend to glean information and learn from day-to-day interactions.  This has generally been a fine way to learn, with only a few missteFps along the way.

At the age of four, I remember my dad talking about someone getting fired at work.  In my four-year-old brain, I imagined a horrifying scene of someone being actually set on fire.  I felt awful for my dad’s former coworker and his family. I couldn’t believe how casually my dad spoke of something so absolutely terrifying!

At 22, I entered the work-world.  While most of my coworkers enjoyed straight-swearing with a few creative twists or flourishes, there were a few that modified their language so that the words were almost swear words, but not quite.

I remember one of my bosses referring to a particularly messed-up client situation as a “cluster.” Cluster seemed appropriate. So I began to use the word freely to describe other situations that also seemed to have characteristics of a cluster.

“What a cluster!” I would lament at the grocery store, waiting in a long line behind someone paying for $400 of groceries with a check.

“Isn’t that a cluster?” I would comment to strangers about a particularly frustrating Packer’s game.

I was even freely using this new word at church. Cluster this, cluster that. Until, of course, Frank alerted me to the fact that cluster, in the context I was using the word, was usually a part of a longer word combination.  And that second word was the f-bomb.

Whoopsies!

Considering my long history of contextual and observational learning, you would think that Frank would have been smarter about his word choice for describing the period of time from December 26 through December 30. You would think he would at least thoroughly explain his word choice to avoid me using the word casually in conversations.

You would think all of that and be totally and completely wrong.

The conversation with Frank went something like this:

“Yeah, this time of the year is kind of a bummer. It’s the taint of the year,” said Frank, nonchalantly.

“Taint? Why?” I asked, curious to know more about this new word.

“Yeah.  You know, tain’t Christmas, tain’t New Year’s. Taint.”

“OH!”

Armed with this amazing new word that perfectly described in-between situations, I casually texted a friend of mine and asked if she wanted to get together during the taint  of the year.

I was so proud.

She was a little… surprised. Seeing that she was unfamiliar with this swanky terminology perfect for describing this in-between time of year, I explained it to her the same way Frank explained it to me.

There was a long pause in her response to me. “Sure, yeah, we can hang out.”

Later that same day, I told Frank that I would be getting together with my friend in the Taint of the Year. He raised his rather large eyebrows.

“You didn’t actually USE the word taint, did you?” he asked carefully.

“Well, yeah, sure, that’s what this time of the year is, right?” I was confused. And I was starting to become a little concerned as well.

He started to laugh. I was really concerned. He laughed harder.

When he finally wiped the tears from his eyes and pulled himself together, Frank explained that the taint is a somewhat common slang term used to describe a specific region of anatomy.  (Google it if you must…  I dare you.  Do it at work.  Use image search.)

I was horrified. I started wondering if I had used this word in any work emails.  Like, “Hey, I’ll be working during the taint of the year, so email me with whatever you need…” or something like that.  But I was afraid to search Outlook to see if I had, in fact, used that word.

So. There you go.

Happy Taint of the Year to You and Yours.

viva las vegas

Also titled: What I learned About Myself in Vegas. And What I learned About Vegas in Vegas.

Subtitled: Don’t Eat at Sketchy Buffets

>>First: I am a diva.

While I grew up with a family that tent camped and pop-up camped our way around the country, I found that my heart is really in the penthouse, luxury suites or other similarly outfitted high-end hotel rooms.

I had an inkling about my diva ways on a few previous trips with Frank.

***Trip One: The Econo-Lodge somewhere between Chicago and Atlanta.

Scene: Hotel room had been freshened up with a coat of paint. This same coat of paint was applied without consideration to everything in the room: door frames, moldings, walls, vanities and ceiling, making the experience of being in the room akin to being a stick figure drawn on a piece of paper.  The bedspread was from circa 1974 and, likely, that was also the last time it was washed.  I pointed to something on the floor that looked like a blood stain and decided that I didn’t want to ask “Is that a blood stain?” out loud.  Sometimes, you just don’t want to know the answer.

Experience: Horrific.  Even though Frank had stayed at some pretty nast-tay hotel rooms in his time with a regional airline, this one was pretty epic.  He dreamt the entire night of bugs coming out of his eyes, ears and mouth.  Yes, this one got to him.  Needless to say, we did not inquire about a continental breakfast as we ran out of the hotel bright and early in the morning.

Famous Last Words: “Babe, can you believe I got this room for only $35 a night?”  Yes, sweetheart, I can.

 

***Trip Two: A Hotel with a Guitar Shaped Pool in Nashville.

Scene: Similar to the Econo-Lodge, the mosaic of stains on the carpet and the very dated bedspread were not the welcome you would hope for anywhere. Especially disconcerting were the eight missing ceiling tiles over the shower, revealing the hotel’s plumbing and the sound of our neighbor brushing his teeth.  It’s like having someone else in your room… without having someone else in your room.

Experience: Thank goodness we only stayed there for one night.  I was barely able to zip my suitcase as I ran for the door in the morning.

Famous Last Words: “But babe, it has a guitar-shaped pool!”

It’s important to have those two hotel experiences as a backdrop for this trip.  My sweet, thrifty Bohemian husband loves himself a good deal.  So when he said he was booking a hotel for the trip to Las Vegas, I carefully asked, “So, uh, you didn’t get any… deals for the room, did you?”

Knowing the hotel experiences he’s put me through in the past, Frank enthusiastically said, “NO! No deals.”  I knew then that this would be a good trip.

When we walked into the hotel room at Vdara in City Center, I was not disappointed. A suite, this room had a full kitchen, a family room, a bedroom and a very large bathroom.  Frank, the connoisseur of mid-range hotel rooms was dually impressed and quite pleased with himself.

AH, Vdara!

AH, Vdara!

This refrigerator is bigger than our refrigerator at home!!

This refrigerator is bigger than our refrigerator at home!!

The view of the Bellagio Fountains at night from our room.

The view of the Bellagio Fountains at night from our room.

Daytime view of the fountains and the strip.

Daytime view of the fountains and the strip.

In addition to a gorgeous room, we had a gorgeous view of the Bellagio fountains, the new Ferris Wheel and the strip.  I couldn’t have asked for anything better!

>>Second: When Vegas is Good, it is SO GOOD.

Upon arriving at the hotel, marveling at its splendor and checking out the free cable, Frank announced that we had reservations at swanky Sage in the Aria Hotel.  I had read a few reviews of the restaurant online before we traveled and heard good things.  I was excited!

The ambiance of the restaurant is lovely. Intimate and private, we were seated at a table tucked in the corner of the restaurant.  And the lighting was great: my skin looked awesome. Boom.

The waiter took our drink order – a mocktail for me and the real deal for Frank – and hurried off to leave us with our menus. After much discussion and deliberation, we decided on creamy chestnut soup for starters.  Frank had the Braised Veal Cheeks and I ordered the Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin.  Because you know – bacon makes everything better. (full fall menu for Sage)

After we ordered, the most magical thing happened: a wonderful young man arrived at our table with a tray of bread.

“Tonight I have for you a bacon roll and a French baguette,” he said, showing us the still-warm bread in his tray. “May I suggest that you take one of each?” Yes, yes you can suggest that. And yes, I will take both pleaseandthankyou.

The warm rolls were served with whipped butter and sea salt. The bacon roll was the perfect ratio of buttery, fluffy bread and savory, salty bacon.  I should’ve asked for two of each.  I am pregnant, you know.

After eating the bacon roll, I was concerned that I couldn’t love the baguette nearly as much. But much like you always love your second child as much as your first, I couldn’t imagine my life without the baguette. The French would’ve been proud.

Then there was the spoon.

Our waiter brought out two soup bowls and nestled inside was a spoon containing the perfect bite of … something. I will never know fully what it was that I ate at that moment – except that the flavor explosions went on forever. Fresh, vibrant, colorful – it was as though I had never truly eaten before. There was also a unicorn in the restaurant and it was also magnificent.

After the spoon came the bowl of creamy chestnut soup. Featuring some sort of pork happiness, currants and mushrooms and topped with the most lusciously creamy soup, every bite was an adventure in and of itself.

I think Frank was also at this same dinner with me.  I can’t be too sure at this point.

Our main course came out with not as much fanfare as it deserved. Beautifully presented, the portions were very un-American. But the flavor? The flavor and texture was big and bold and very, very American. That bacon wrapped pork loin was likely the most delicious piece of meat I have ever eaten. Ever. Amen.

Frank claims that his veal cheeks were the most delicious and tender pieces of meat he’s ever enjoyed, but at this point in the dinner I’m still not sure he was there. I only had eyes for the pork.

When the waiter came back and inquired about whether we wanted dessert, we sheepishly said no. There was simply no way we possibly left room for dessert and we felt we would do the dessert a grave injustice if we attempted to eat more.

While we were waiting for the check, the waiter brought out two warm shot glasses with a hot white chocolate and peppermint drink. If you could drink happiness, that’s what it tasted like.

We left the restaurant content and sad. Content because of a fantastic meal. Sad because we knew that we were unlikely to find another meal in Vegas that would match Sage’s greatness that night. We just didn’t know how right we were.

>>Third: Not all Buffets are Created Equal

When Frank and I were first dating, we took in our fair share of buffets.  We enjoyed the Stadium Club buffet at the United Center, the Easter buffet at the McDonald’s Lodge, a birthday buffet for Frank’s mom at the Drake in Oak Brook.  These are all pretty classy buffets.

I sensed that my dear husband was not acquainted with anything other than the occasional Chinese Buffet and the lovely, fancy buffets that he enjoyed growing up.

Several times while we were dating, Frank mentioned wanting to go to Old Country Buffet (OCB).  I couldn’t understand – I had been to several similar buffets growing up and never really enjoyed them for anything more than their soft serve ice cream with sprinkles.  I’m a simple girl, really.

After hearing him talk about the magic that must be the OCB several times, I gave in and we went to an OCB.  Frank’s excitement was palpable as we walked up to the door – and I watched that excitement drain from his being as we checked into the restaurant and surveyed its offerings.

Fruit flies, overcooked chicken, fake mashed potatoes, limp looking vegetables… the scene was food devastation. Frank filled up a plate, refusing to acknowledge the food horrors in front of him.

He sat at the table and tenuously began eating the food on his plate.  He ate the nearly entire plate of lukewarm, tragic food – a noble skill that probably later saved him from giving me honest feedback on quite a few dishes I served to him during our courtship and early marriage (not to worry, I pretty much stopped cooking…). Then, he gave the buffet a sidelong glance, shook his head in the general direction of the food massacre, and said, “You know, this really isn’t as good as I hoped it would be.”

That sad disappointment still lingers on Frank’s face when we pass an OCB to this day. You can practically hear the strains of “What Might Have Been” faintly playing in the background as we cruise by.  “We can’t go back again… there’s no use giving in… and there’s no way to know, what might have been.” Godspeed, OCB. Godspeed.

I wasn’t thinking about OCB when we booked tickets to see Million Dollar Quartet at Harrah’s Casino.  Vegas buffets are legendary – I didn’t think you could go wrong.

Oh… But you can go wrong. So wrong.

Harrah’s Casino in Las Vegas more closely resembles several football fields of bad man cave poker tables gone wrong than a Las Vegas Casino.  The casino feels like swimming through stale beer and a haze of old cigar smoke.  It feels like time marched on and trampled the casino underfoot.

As we approached the buffet entrance, I was haunted by this nagging voice in my head that said, “EMILY! It’s the OCB! Don’t do it!”

I ignored that voice. The buffet was free. It was included with our show tickets.

“Free is good!” I reasoned with the voice. “FREE IS GOOD!”

As we presented our tickets to the cashier, I cheerfully inquired, “So what is your favorite thing at the buffet?” Her response, while also cheery, should’ve served as a warning, “Oh, I say just start with the dessert sweetie!”

I should’ve heeded her warning.

As we waited to be let into the buffet, the greeter handed Frank and I oversized utensils.  I realized they were going to take pictures of us with these utensils. It had the ominous feeling of a “before” photo in the making. I held the fork, he held the spoon.  For the first picture, we smiled.  For the second picture, the greeter encouraged us to pretend to hit each other with our utensils.

If that isn’t foreshadowing, I don’t know what is.

We walked the buffet, trying to figure out what looked delicious and determine our strategy for best navigating this buffet. I quickly found that nothing looked good.  After a few sad perusals, I was happy to see some Mexican food at one end, so I went over to sample that.  I figured, how can you mess up Mexican food?

You can.

After lifting the lids off of several pots, I decided to just have three corn tortillas, some cheese and a small smattering of a meat product.  I added mashed potatoes and some over-dried turkey to my plate and called that dinner.

As always, Frank returned from the buffet with a full plate. I nibbled the tortillas, dumping the questionable meat on the plate. I ate the mashed potatoes.  I couldn’t bring myself to approach the turkey.

I decided to take the cashier’s advice and hit up the dessert area, hoping for better results.  I had a small cupcake and cookie.

Meanwhile, Frank cleared most of his plate. “I mean, it’s not great,” he said, pushing his mostly empty plate away.

The punchline to this joke of a buffet?  Frank slept soundly while I sat on the floor of the bathroom in our hotel room puking. Frank 1. Emily -2.

>>Fourth: In Vegas Old is Old.

In sweet, quaint midwestern towns, old becomes quaint.  Grandmas in sweater sets and polyester pants are cute, even when they are stealing cookies at the buffet.  Grandpas wearing plaid pants and faded sport coats are sweet, even when they make strange remarks and wink at you.  I expected in Vegas that the older parts of the strip would be quaint in much the same way.  I hoped that it would feel like the ghosts of Sinatra or Bob Hope or other famous old dudes might still be hanging around, throwing dice at the Craps tables.  Alas, that was not the case.

In Vegas, Grandmas don cocktail dresses and Naturalizers and it’s not a good scene.

We went to the old school Tropicana Hotel to see the Laugh Factory. The first thing to know about casinos in Vegas is that they allow smoking.  The second thing to know is that the newer casinos have much more effective air filtration systems. The older hotels smell and feel like the inside of an old bowling shoe: smokey, musty with a faint hint of Lysol.

If the ghosts of Sinatra or Hope or anyone else were hanging around in old Vegas casinos, I was not about to find out. I am a diva, after all, and I preferred the shiny new Vdara/Aria/Mandarin to the old strip.

>>Fifth: Sometimes Smaller is Better

Before the debacle at Harrah’s, Frank and I went on a mission to find a place to have delicious cocktails and appetizers prior to dinner.  Frank was pretty insistent on getting over to the Mandarin Oriental.

And this is why:

The view of the strip from the Mandarin Oriental.

The view of the strip from the Mandarin Oriental.

We enjoyed this front-row view to the twinkly lights of Vegas from a plush couch while sipping our drinks (tea for me, a cocktail for Frank) and noshing on calamari.  It was truly a highlight for both of us.

***

I didn’t love Vegas before we left on our trip.  I’m not a Vegas girl.  When presented with an opportunity to go on a trip, I suggested Vegas because I knew they had wonderful restaurants, a few good shows and I was hopeful we would find a hotel with a decent bed. With twins and work and being pregnant, sleep is a precious commodity!

I still don’t love Vegas after our trip.  But I did love spending time with Frank, eating great food, seeing entertaining shows, and wandering through overpriced designer stores and marveling at $5,000 red high heeled shoes. At that price range, the stores are more like museums displaying fine art than actual retail establishments, as far as I am concerned.

I spoke to a few local Vegasians. I asked them what they liked about their town. Universally, they loved the food and entertainment. Our cab driver from Sweden raved about the seafood at the buffets. But they all cautioned about gambling in a way that suggested that they knew people personally who had fallen into the gambling black hole, never to return again.

When I asked if they had ever been to Chicago, most of them had not.  “It’s cold there.”

Oh, how you’re missing out.

“Las Vegas is the only town in the world whose skyline is made up neither of buildings, like New York, nor of trees, like Wilbraham, Massachusetts, but signs.”
– Tom Wolfe

It’s good to be home.

a love song

Ten years ago this month, Frank and I enjoyed our first Valentines Day as a couple.

It was death defying.

No, for real. Frank had a test flight in a multi-engine plane and there was an issue with the cowling (skin) of the plane. As they were taking off, the cowling came loose and was dangerously close to taking out one of the engines.

Yada yada yada… They safely landed and Frank came over to my parents home, made me a delicious dinner and continued his tireless pursuit of my affection.

The next day, Frank and I had a meeting with our pastor to talk about our relationship – resulting in Frank’s second near death experience in less than 24 hours. Unexpectedly for Frank, our Pastor suggested (oh em gee!!) that we get married.

A few hours later, after recovering from nearly passing out, Frank decided that (and this is a direct quote) he was “as ready as I’ll ever be” to get married.

Which, to me, either meant he was committed to a life of bachelorhood or he was ready to lock this relationship down.

Fortunately for his sister (he was “crashing” with her for 18 months), he meant the second option.

Ten years later.

I find my heart racing when I think of how these years have slipped by. We have filled the time – and while I’d like to think we’ve filled the time well – the slippery, fluid nature of time consumes the background of my consciousness.

I think – “em! Be more present!” and I think – “observe! Commit this to memory!”

I think of the things I’ve already forgotten. Memories filed carelessly in “misc” that only come back to me when enjoying time with old friends.

And I think of the things I’ll never forget – singing 3rd Eye Blind with Kate and Jamie while driving in Kate’s Bonneville – the lyrics to “Long December” because that song became my anthem when I got my drivers license – the first time I met Frank – driving in The Blue Ox with the irreplaceable JLN – seeing my babies for the first time – how my mom smelled when she came home from a fun night with friends – the sound of my dads car cruising into to garage after a long day at work.

Time marches on in only one direction. Something about entropy and other physics shenanigans. Much smarter people than me are far more fit for that concept.

Regardless…

I love time travel stories. I’ve loved them since I was a young girl and my dad read “The Time Machine” to me. I love the idea of moving through time the way we move through space.

And yet…

If given the opportunity to go back and change something, I don’t believe I would.

There is something pure and authentic and genuine about our “one wild and precious life” – and living it as such.

The beauty of writing and blogging is that I do have an opportunity to write into the future – to send myself and my husband and my children a sort of message in a bottle. A way for them to know me now, without the benefit of a time machine.

Next month is my ten year anniversary of blogging. While it started out as the musings of a young 22 year old me who spent more time contemplating area malls, calories in salads and Diet Coke preferences, I hope that it has become for my children and my husband an illustration of me becoming myself – and the mother and wife they will remember.

This life that I am living – it is my love song for them.

Christmas in pictures… with a score card

Anyone who tells you they aren’t keeping track of who is winning in this game of parenting is a liar.

I’m keeping track.  And based on the results of this Christmas season, I don’t think I’m playing for the winning team.

The game? Parenting.  The goal? To raise your children.  The obstacle? They will try to raise you.  Every time a parent is able to maintain peace and present a unified front, parents get a point.  Every time a child successfully demolishes that facade? Point to the child.

For Christmas, we are scoring a few key areas:

  1. The Christmas Card Picture (2 possible points for execution and final product)
  2. The Christmas Outing (3 possible points for execution, most remaining Christmas Spirit and photographic evidence)
  3. Christmas Presents (2 possible points for sustained delight and photographic evidence)
  4. Official Christmas Festivities (1 point for attending church, 1 point for ensemble’s attire, 2 points for general outcome, 3 points for photographic evidence)

Total Possible Points: 15

Winner must win by at least two points.

Let the scoring commence.

The Christmas Card Picture: Twins 2 points

Shot 20

Shot 1

Shot 1

Shot 15

Shot 450

Shot 450

It took three separate photo shoots on three separate days, relocated furniture, bribes and a counseling session for mom and dad, but we finally captured this shot:

 

"Who, us? Difficult to photograph? No!"

“Who, us? Difficult to photograph? No!”

The thing is, I would’ve split the points evenly since we did get a cute shot, but the reason the girls look so angelic is because they are looking at us saying, “Mom, we live in a world that has sanity, and that sanity has to be destroyed by babies with attitude. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Dad? We have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for your sanity, and you curse your interrupted sleep. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what we know. That the toilet, while alluring to us in so many ways, probably distracted us from coloring on your walls. And our existence, while occasionally cute and snuggly to you, ends sanity. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want to be insane, you need to be insane. We use words like poopoos, uh oh, binkies. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent dismantling your sanity. You use them as a punchline. We have neither the time nor the inclination to explain ourselves to parents who cuddle and snuggle under the blankie of the very crazy joy that we provide, and then question the manner in which we provide it. We would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, we suggest you pick up a binkie, and stand a post. Either way, we don’t give a hoot what Christmas pictures you think you are entitled to.”  Not kidding.  Even with angelic faces, the soundtrack playing behind their innocent eyes was definitely Col. Jessup.

 

The Christmas Outing: Twins 2 Points, Parents 1 Point

First of all, kudos to Frank because he scored us our one point.  Frank went into the Christmas outing with an expectation of insanity.  His expectations were met and therefore, his Christmas Outing experience did not damage his overall sense of Christmas Joy.  The remaining points were awarded to the twins.

Between packed aisles, mobs of people at 9 a.m. and the veritable cornucopia of crap that comes with twin toddlers (diaper bags, coats, hats, binkies, bottles, snacks, etc, etc, etc), maneuvering through the store formerly called Marshall Fields was a hot, sweaty challenge.  Santa was on floor five.  Walnut Room, floor seven.  Christmas Tree viewing? Floor eight.  Elevators were cramped with 10 people and a double tandem stroller.  We eventually ditched the stroller and introduced the twins to the escalators, which they enjoyed.

The folks at the store formerly called Marshall Fields packed us all into a table with about four inches between us and our neighboring table. Which is fine if it’s not a brunch buffet and everyone doesn’t need to get up to get their brunch.  But guess what?? It’s a BUFFET!  Squee!

All in all, my siblings and my dad helped maintain the general Christmas spirit and even the twins were happy to scarf down “cake” (muffins… which, really, let’s be honest? Breakfast cake.)

Unfortunately, what you are about to see is the best picture from the three that we took.  And therefore, proof that the twins did win two points, fair and square:

Say "WHAT?? Where??"

Say “WHAT?? Where??”

Christmas Presents: Parents 1 point, Twins 1 point

The proof is in the video. I’m gonna go ahead and give myself credit for the amazing kitchen set that I put together.

But then, the nod goes to the twin to the all-out hysteria when Ms. Ellie did not get 100% dominance over the shopping cart they received as a gift from Aunt Cathy.  That hysteria can be glimpsed at the end of this video.  I stopped filming when it went to crazy-town levels.

 

Christmas Festivities: Parents 3 points, Twins 4 points

First, we got a “gimme” point because we did go to church.  And it was relatively uneventful and we even went to Chipotle for a traditional Christmas burrito bol.  I think Jesus would’ve approved.

I also gave us a “gimme” point because we were all dressed for Christmas Day.  We were even dressed in somewhat coordinating outfits.  Point.

I’m also going to say that we split the difference on the general Christmas experience.  While the girls certainly gave us a run for our money, we retaliated with an appearance by the big guy in a red suit.

Ellie: "Hey, someone is at the door!"

Ellie: “Hey, someone is at the door!”

 

Ellie: "Um, OMG! RUN!!"

Ellie: “Um, OMG! RUN!!”

You can even see that Ellie’s cousin Josh is a little horrified as well.  Score!

Emily: "Hey Frank, capture the Christmas magic! Quick!"

Emily: “Hey Frank, capture the Christmas magic! Quick!”

Frank and the twins playing on Christmas Day.

Frank and the twins playing on Christmas Day.

They look so sweet and innocent playing the organ, but this mama knows better...

They look so sweet and innocent playing the organ, but this mama knows better…

Me? Plot to take over the world? Never!

Me? Plot to take over the world? Never!

Final score?  Twins 10, Parents 5.

 

three things: watching movies with the emmy kay

We don’t go to the movies as often as we would like.  Even before kids, we just didn’t make the time to see a flick in the theater.

We have friends, no joke, that would do three movies on a Saturday, in a theater, no problem.

Us? Not so much.

After writing the following list, though, I might have a few ideas why we tend to watch short form films (ie TV shows) vs. full-blown movies:

Thing 1: For the love of all that is good on this planet, STOP TALKING!!!

I can’t help it.  I see something funny, I see something interesting and I want to TALK about it.  OMG.  Because I understand that it is socially unacceptable to talk in theaters, I reserve this most annoying trait for home viewing.

 

Thing 2: STOP GUESSING THE ENDINGS!

… correctly… I don’t think my guesses regarding the endings of movies would be so terrible if they weren’t usually so spot on.  I admit that I did not guess the ending to Sixth Sense, but I was like 16 or 18 when that was released.  A  lot of kids that age can’t guess the ending to a night of drinking, so I’m going to give myself the nod on that one.  Tonight I guessed the ending to a movie and Frank spent the next five minutes pseudo annoyed because, darn it, he was enjoying the EXPERIENCE of the movie and did not want it ruined. And also? I was right. BAM. Again. (as usual, etc, etc)

 

Thing 3: SIT STILL!!

When at a theater, I tend to order the biggest, baddest diet coke I can find.  And I drink it ALL before the opening credits.  When at home, I like to shift my positions as frequently as possible, so as to encourage good blood flow.  The end result, for Frank, is that I either wait until a major plot moment to need to get up and move OR I wait for a major plot moment to need to get up and move.

He LOVES when I do that.