Halloween Retrospective

Halloween 2006. Z as a very sleepy piggy.

Halloween 2007. Z as a bee and CG and me as the beekeepers.
Halloween 2008. Z as a cowgirl (who lasted for about 10 minutes in her costume before melting down.)
Halloween 2009. Z as a zoned out Dora and E as a zoned out Boots.  (And we are: nothing.)
Halloween 2010. Z as Cinderella and E as Tinkerbelle.
Halloween 2011. The Wizard of Oz!

Halloween 2012. E as a very unhappy cardinal.
Big cardinal takes flight!

And I would be your resident birdwatcher.

About to trick or treat with yet another birdwatcher!

I've bought cheap Halloween costumes (hello 2010!) and I've borrowed some and I've made labor intensive ones.

No matter how you slice it, I do love Halloween.

Hope yours was happy (and warm and dry!)


"So you work, then?"

I met a new neighborhood mom the other day. She just moved into a house around the corner and one of my neighbors invited her and her kids to a birthday party.

She and I were chatting, that initial how old are your kids, are they in school/preschool conversation, and I told her that Z is in first grade and E is in preschool five mornings a week. She looked at me, smiled and said So you work, then?



And then I think I mumbled something about volunteering a bunch and planning on working at some point in the future and then I may have twitched and drooled just a bit before elegantly steering the conversation away to HEY LOOK A BUNNY.

It was one of those conversations that make me cringe now thinking about it. And I've been replaying it in my mind since then, only this time I smile confidently and say No and IT'S FANSTASTIC! I'm able to have some alone time, to exercise and bake and sew Halloween costumes and grocery shop without small children and volunteer for several causes I care about and I'm really enjoying it!

Because truly that's how I feel. I'm really starting to enjoy our lives right now. I'm grateful for where we are in our lives, and happily busy and fulfilled with a small dose of volunteer work.

So why couldn't I say that to this other mom?

While presumptive, I don't think she meant her question to be judgmental. She is home with two younger kids and I'm guessing she is thinking the same thing I thought when I had a baby and a preschooler: as soon as they are both in school and don't need me so much, I will go back to work. When my kids were her kids' ages, I truly couldn't fathom what I would do at home all day while older kids were off at school.


Our family's schedules, the running of our entire household, has been built on the presumption that I will be at home in the capacity that I am now. So much would have to change if I were to get a job that it boggles the mind.

Of course, it would be possible. But me working would be a huge change and none of us in our family want to make that change right now so here we are. 

I like being home to pick up Z from the bus stop, to hear her talk about her day on the walk home from school is to get an increasingly rare window into her world. I like having lunch with E, all by ourselves, with lots of time to chat and munch and cuddle and chat some more.

The truth is they still need me. A lot. Their needs are different now. But those needs are many and various and true.

My kids are in school and I'm still at home. 

Say it loud, say it proud.


The Feminist at the Ironing Board

Last night, around 9:30 pm, while the presidential debate played on the TV, I set up our ironing board and got to work ironing my husband's shirts.

It was like a scene out of Leave it to Beaver, except that instead of a shirtdress and heels, I was wearing sweatpants and bare feet.

Sometimes, I grimace at this little scene of traditional gender roles and wonder how, exactly, did I get here?

I rarely ever ironed  before last year; I didn't even own an iron until I started sewing and found it to be distressingly large part of any sewing project. Ironing my clothes never really crossed my mind as I spent my twenties sampling pretty much every job you can do in elastic waist stretch pants: massage therapist, dancer, pilates instructor, grant writer, personal assistant. When clothes shopping, I put clothes back on the rack when I noticed they were dry clean only because WHY?

My husband's current workplace has no real dress code, I mean they are a bunch of scientists after all. But he likes to wear button downs to work, usually with jeans. With my help, he's acquired a decent roster of button down shirts that look good on him.

Except right out of the dryer, when they are hopelessly wrinkled.

I first noticed it a few years ago. I am in charge of all things laundry in our house, and even if I was diligent about getting them out of the dryer the moment they were dry, they were always quite wrinkled. He didn't care so what's the big deal?.

It didn't hit me that maybe I should do something about it until I met him at work one day and saw him talking to his boss. In a horribly wrinkled shirt.

Well. That's just not okay.

So I guessed we could send them out? To be dry cleaned? Or washed and pressed? Is that a thing?

Investigating just how much money it would cost to send out his shirts every week convinced me to bust out the ironing board and get to work.

Suddenly his shirts looked SO MUCH BETTER. OMG. WHO KNEW?

So it's a regular thing now. I set up the ironing board once a week and plow through them. It usually takes about an hour. I'm saving us money, just like when I wash the dog with a hose instead of taking her to be "groomed" or cook in instead of eating out.

And I still do it all in elastic waist pants, with my feminist pride mostly intact. Many friends have commented on my ironing as if picking up the clothes iron means I simultaneously dropped all my feminist ideals. I didn't. I am responsible for laundry in our home, reasonably wrinkle-free clothing is part of my expectation when any member of our family leaves the house, ERGO I iron.

But a revelation came last week, when my husband ordered this online:

That's love right there.

I feel so stupid admitting this but I had NO IDEA they even made wrinkle free shirts that weren't.... horrible. TIME TO SHOP.



I have my dad's foot in my hands. They are failing him these days, these feet of his, and sometimes completely forget that they are supposed to connect his body to the floor, to ground him. I try not to be angry at his feet. It is not their fault they are faulty sometimes; after all, this body is human and it's been through a lot. My fingers push and pull and press at the pale flesh, willing joints to glide, muscles to relax and nerves to calm the eff down.

"I used to sit in this same room while you massaged my feet and calves with witch-hazel after ballet class. We sat on that old salt and pepper couch, on that wall, remember?"

He smiles. Of course, he remembers.

"You did that for me all the time, any time I asked."

He nods, takes a breath. "Do you ever .... massage your .... girls?"

"Yes. I try."

He nods again.

I massage his hands next, kneading the scars from accidents and surgeries. These hands have held me as a baby, spanked my toddler behind, written countless comments on high school essays, given me away at the altar.  They used to hold cigarettes, too many cigarettes, one after another.  They've built bookshelves for my college dorm room, driven my car across the country, helped me pack and unpack countless times.  They've held his newborn granddaughters gently, big scarred hands surrounding perfectly smooth wrapped packages.

His hands and his feet go out to lunch regularly it seems and so those nerves aren't cooperating that much either. They tremble a bit and have lost their formidable, stuck-jar-opening strength. As I rub them, I remember those days, long ago, when he rubbed witch hazel on my legs, never stopping until I said I was done.

Did I thank him back then? I think so. I'd like to think so.

"Thanks," he says when I'm done and I give him a kiss on the forehead.

"You're welcome, Pop. Thank you."



I've been having some trouble sleeping, which happens to me from time to time. Falling asleep is usually easy, but once I am awakened in the dark by one of our resident little people (which happens most nights) I cannot fall back asleep.

Instead, I lie awake and think, for hours. It's your basic garden-variety anxiety. I mull over low points in the girls' behavior. I rehash conversations I wish had gone differently the day before. I worry about situations in the world over which I have less than zero control.

Often, I wrestle with what I'm doing - and not doing - with my life, specifically my "free time." Every week day, when both girls are in school for three hours, I strive to find the wisest, most useful use of my time. Some days I go to the gym and take a long shower. Other days, I walk the dog, grocery shop, prep for dinner, do laundry, and basically run around like a spazzy monkey. Starting this week, I will spend one morning a week volunteering at my Z's elementary school and one morning for a political campaign.

None of it ever seems like the very best choice, the right choice.

It seems, in those dark hours of the night, that three hours is a shamefully large amount of time, time in which I could be accomplishing impressive, meaningful things, and yet when I'm in those three hours, I feel them rapidly shrinking away from me, as if the ticking clock gets faster and louder as I get closer to preschool pick up time. The pressure to use it wisely is strong, overwhelming and guilt-inducing, especially in the wee hours of the night.

How should I best use this time? These fleeting precious hours?


My dad has been sleeping a lot, like a WHOLE LOT. He sleeps for 12 hours a night or more, wakes mostly just for meals and naps most of the day. There have been many different possible explanations for this, and my mom has tried all kinds of things to see if it helps him feel better and be more awake, but the doctors don't know really what to say. Maybe he's just worn out. His body, after years of battling the effects of smoking, cancer, lobectomies, chemotherapy and radiation, might just be plain old tired.

He sleeps and sleeps and sleeps.

I fear one day he will just not wake up.

We're headed to New Jersey next weekend, for a few precious hours.

How am I to spend that time with him? Are there big important things left to say? Will I be upset later if I just while away the hours, eating, chatting, being together in whatever way is possible?

He may be asleep for most of my visit. But I will be there and maybe that's enough.


Nighttime parenting seems like a microcosm of all parenting. The girls appear at my side, suddenly, with their biggest needs, their deepest fears, their darkest moments of sickness.

There I am in the dark, confused, grasping at anything to help me make sense of what is unfolding in front of me. Usually, I rise to the occasion, finding my overwhelming love for my girls called to the fore with little of the frustration or second guessing that happens in the light of day.

In a few of these dark hours, I am my worst mom self, self centered and bitter. I want my sleep, who dares to interrupt my sleep?

Sometimes, in those same hours, I feel a deeper sense of peace and appreciation for motherhood than ever before. Holding little warm bodies close to my heart, caring for their needs, simply, completely. I feel there is no place else I want or need to be. I am effortlessly focused on what matters.

I am happy, in those fleeting hours, before I eventually fall asleep.

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