Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Wishes

I had planned to write a pithy, clever post about New Year's Eve and all the jazz that goes along with it.  However, instead, I feel the need to share my sincere wishes with you.

I wish comfort for those who are lonely.
I wish joy for those who are sad.
I wish peace for those who are at a crossroads.
I wish a clear path for those who are lost.
I wish forgiveness for those who have made mistakes.
I wish solace for those who have been hurt.
I wish safety for those who are in danger.
I wish that all of your wishes come true in 2012.

Happy New Year to you all.  Here's to a fantastic 2012.

A New Year

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas on the big screen

For the first time in a few years, one of my Christmas traditions has been broken.  Trevor and I usually make a date to go to the Kentucky Theater to see White Christmas.   We tried this year, but for some reason, the movie was only being shown Friday night and Saturday afternoon which didn't fit with our Saturday night babysitter.  I'm a little sad that we didn't get to continue this tradition because there is something so magical about seeing a classic film on the big screen.  We'll still watch it at home if we get a chance, but that's not the only Christmas movie I love.  Here's my go-to guide for the holiday season:

1.  White Christmas
It just doesn't get any better than this.  Wacky hijinks, silly misunderstandings, music and dance numbers, romance, beautiful scenery, and the clothes.  Oh, the clothes.  I myself live in jeans, but I love the days of old when people would dress up just to go to the grocery store or to travel.  No one wore heinous pajama pants on an airplane back then.  Part of the appeal is seeing the clothes on Vera-Ellen's teeny, tiny waist, though it's sad that she had that waist due to anorexia.  With a cast like Vera-Ellen, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye, and Bing Crosby, you just can't go wrong.

2.  Christmas in Connecticut
More wacky hijinks, silly misunderstandings, deliberate deceptions, comedy, and an amazing house in the country at Christmastime make this movie worthwhile.  Be sure to watch the original version with Barbara Stanwyck: don't bother with the 1992 remake.  Stinker.  Anyway, this is about a woman who pretends to be an amazing homemaker who lives in the country with her amazing family.  In reality, she is a single gal in an apartment who finds herself in a bind when her editor invites a soldier to spend Christmas at her farm.  See how this could all go wrong?  It's a very sweet and innocent story with a lot of fun thrown it.

3.  Love Actually
This isn't a classic movie per se, but I can see that it might be a classic some day.  Love Actually is a British film set at Christmastime with a spectacular ensemble cast.  The basic theme is love, but it isn't just romantic love.  It's love between friends, business partners, spouses, siblings, and even unrequited love.  The relationships are so realistic, sometimes awkwardly so, but it always makes me care more for the characters.  I also love movies that link all the characters together by interweaving their stories, especially when it's done so seamlessly.

4.  Elf
I am not normally a fan of ridiculous humor.  My brother and I weren't allowed to watch the Three Stooges when we were kids because my mom thought they were too stupid, so I don't think my physical humor bone really ever developed.  I was surprised to find that I really loved Elf the first time I saw it because it's not really refined humor.  The thing I like about it is how innocent it all is: Buddy is sweet, enthusiastic, joyous, and full of faith.  How can you not love a giant human/elf like that??  Plus, one of my most favorite celebs in the world is in Elf, Ms.  Zooey Deschanel.  She is beyond brilliant.  Toats.

5.  A Christmas Story
Growing up near Hammond, IN, which was the model for the fictitious town of Hohman, IN, in the movie, there is something soothing about watching Ralphie, Randy, and the Bumpuses' hounds.  There really isn't anything like growing up in a small town and enjoying a small town Christmas.  And Ralphie is sort of the every-kid: we have all dealt with clueless parents, bullies like Scut Farkus, and triple-dog dares.  We root for him to get his Red-Ryder-carbine-action-two-hundred-shot-Range-Model-air-rifle-with-a-compass-and-this-thing-which-tells-time-built-right-in-to-the-stock because he's so likeable and earnest and real.  We all had something we wished for as a kid, no matter how ridiculous it was.  My most serious dream gifts ranged from a dollhouse to a puppy to a gold, shiny, metal belt with a lion's head on the buckle.  So weird, I know, but it makes Raphie and his quest so much more honest to me.

Wishing you all a happy holiday season!
And please don't shoot your eye out.  

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Best laid plans

I had a plan to write tonight about how busy and crazy life has been here lately with birthday parties, nights out, holiday happenings, visits to the doctor and ER, and the usual insanity.  That's what I planned, but you know what they say about best laid plans.

I found out this morning that I boy (M.) I knew from high school - a man now, of course - died.  I'm no spring chicken, but I'm also not at the point where my contemporaries should be dying.  We're still pretty young with kids and dreams and futures.  Only M. doesn't have a future now, and that's surreal.  It's surreal, and it's wrong.  He left behind a family who loves him, a career, the years ahead of him...

Maybe living each day like it's your last isn't so silly.  Maybe Tim McGraw was onto something with "Live Like You Were Dying." Every time I looked at my kids today, I thought about M.'s kids.  When I kissed Trevor after he came home from work, I thought about M.'s wife and how she would never get to kiss M. again.  His mom won't get to make him another birthday cake; his siblings won't hear his voice on the phone; the public won't get to see his new art; his daughters won't lean on his shoulder after their first heartbreaks.  It's wrong and it's sad and it's just damned unfair.

Someone I know posted a status update on Facebook today that said, "What if we all said, 'I'm going to make 2012 the best year of my life', then we all did it?"  (By the way, I think it's brilliant, Alex.)  What if we tried to do that every day?  We could be nicer to each other.  We could judge less. We could say what we mean and mean what we say.  We could live up to our responsibilities.  We could perform random acts of kindness.  We could accept others for who they are instead of who we want them to be.  We could live openly and honestly.  We could live simply.

We could smile more.  We could laugh more.  We could love more.  We could live more.  We could.


Monday, December 5, 2011

You better watch out

I recently read a post on about a mother who chooses not to tell her kids about Santa.  I think the older I have become, the less judgmental I am;  and while I don't judge this mother for her choice, I'm not sure I agree with her reasoning.

Lottie and Dallas both know about and believe in Santa; I suppose that was a conscious choice that Trevor and I made, to teach them about Santa.  Then again, the whole Santa thing is also difficult to get around.  There are books, TV shows, dolls, inflatables, and songs about Santa starting as early as Halloween anymore.  Even if I wanted to avoid Santa, I'm not sure I could.  The Big Guy is everywhere. And I don't necessarily think that Santa is a terrible idea: he's a guy who brings gifts to kids once a year.  I don't see a lot of harm in that.  He's not stalking them on the playground, after all, or asking them to help him find a lost puppy.  We have had the talk about not taking anything from strangers and not ever, EVER going anywhere with a stranger, but Santa isn't the same thing.  Look, childhood nowadays seems to be getting shorter and shorter with less and less fun involved.  Toys have to be educational, and books have to teach morals.  Kids are expected to read and write before they get to Kindergarten, they're expected to be computer whizzes by first grade, and they're expected to grow up WAY too fast.  What's wrong with giving them a little magic in their lives?  I was a late-believer in Santa.  As a matter of fact, my family had to tell my younger cousin not to tell me about Santa because I still believed when he didn't.  There's something to be said for childhood innocence.  (And, by the way, I'm a fully functional adult even after finding out the truth.  There's no emotional scarring least, not from that.)

A lot of people squawk that telling kids about Santa is lying to them, and these parents claim to never lie to their kids.  I call shenanigans on that.  We all lie to our kids from time to time; let's not pretend we're perfect.  When the time comes, I'll perpetuate the tooth fairy myth with no moral issues.  Sometimes I'll claim that we're out of ice cream when the kids beg for a treat simply because I don't want them to have it and I'm sick of saying no.  I have oohed and aahed over various art projects that look more like pieces of paper that have just been spit out of a trash compactor.  Will this harm my children?  Nope.  Will it tear down their sense of self?  Doubt it.  My kids are both deep into the world of fantasy, as well they should be at the ages of 4 and 3.  They love to dress up and play weird games like "Fire Baby" (don't ask) and "Apron Bachoodie." Why would I want to discourage their rich and imaginative fantasy worlds now?  Discouraging them from playing and pretending and believing would take away the very essence of who they are now and who they may become later.

Occasionally, around the holidays, I'll pull out the old "Santa is watching" threat just to get everyone back on track, but it's not a line I trot out every day.  As with other admonishments, it gets stale if used too often.  In reality, I spend every single day trying to teach my kids to be good all the time, not just at Christmas.  I try to teach them the importance of kindness and giving back in their everyday lives just for the sake of being kind and appreciating all they have.  I don't feel that teaching my kids about Santa and teaching them how to be generous people are mutually exclusive: can't I do both?  Can't I give them magic while teaching them important lessons about life?  I think I can, and I will.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The sorrow of giving

One of the things I love most about holidays is picking out just the right gift for someone; something that will make that person smile or gasp or tear up with joy.  We're told from an early age that giving is better than receiving, but apparently it takes quite a while for that lesson to sink in.

I got to experience some serious preschool rage today that all stemmed from one wrapped gift.  Lottie was invited to a birthday party, and I had the birthday boy's gift gaily wrapped and ready to go.  I did that while the kids were at school, and I distinctly remember thinking that I should put the gift away so that neither Lottie nor Dallas was tempted to open it.  I forgot, and that's when things got ugly.

As soon as Dallas saw that package, he was all over it.  He dragged a stool halfway across the kitchen so he could get his face closer to the gift.  As his hand reached out to touch it, I told him that the gift was for Lottie's friend Loren for his birthday.  With a scowl on his face, Dallas said, "No, it's my birthday."  I gently reminded him that he had already had his birthday and had gotten a lot of nice gifts then.  Mistake, Mama.  Big mistake.  He knocked over the wooden stool, threw himself on the ground and yelled that he had NOT had his birthday and he wanted that gift RIGHT. NOW.  I told him that I understood that he was frustrated, and he yelled at me to stop talking.  After warning him that he couldn't speak to me that way, I left the room.  He followed.

He threw himself down on the living room floor and repeated over and over, "You can't tell me.  It's my birthday, too.  You can't talk to me about that."  I ignored him until he came over and stared at me from six inches away.  When I smiled at him, he yelled at me again.  Time out, buddy.  Three minutes of lusty crying and yelling ensued.  The whole time, he was saying that he wanted me to stop talking and not look at him.  So when I left the room again, naturally, he followed me.  Because that's what you do when you want someone to leave you alone, right?  <Insert eye roll,>

The drama continued for a while longer upstairs, and I let him get it all out.  Finally, he came to me and said, "Mama, I'm sorry I yelled at you.  I'm so sorry."  We had a really sweet hug, and he said, "Can we talk about it?"  When I asked what he wanted to talk about, he said he wanted to talk about how he yelled at me.  I told him that it hurt my feelings, and then he cried again.  It's hard to be three.  I told him that I understood his frustration; it's difficult to watch someone else get gifts and not get any of your own.  He was pretty confused by his response to not getting the gift, and I'm sure he didn't fully understand why he was so sad and angry.  Parenting is hard all the time, but it's really difficult when things can't be explained in a logical way.  Three year olds aren't too keen on logic.  Then again, I'm not either half the time, so I feel his pain.  I didn't mind the tantrum so much because I know he needs a way to express his frustration, but I also want him to understand that other people are allowed to have special days and be feted.  We all deserve to feel special without someone else taking over our celebration.  But he's three, and we'll get to that point little by little.

The day ended well with Dallas and I snuggled up in our bed reading books together.  He kept leaning over and giving me kisses and zorberts on my arm.  I know that was his way of showing how sorry he was that he had acted out this afternoon.  Lottie breathes drama in and out just like air, so emotions aren't especially scary to her: my boy is more sensitive, and emotions are intimidating to him sometimes.    But I knew all was well when he came into my room before bedtime to look in the mirror: he was wearing his Spiderman mask and wanted to admire himself.  He stood in front of the full-length mirror for a moment, then turned and said, "I look pretty awesome, Mama.  Good night."

Christmas morning ought to be frightening crazy chaotic dramatic insane loud pretty awesome chez Wells, but I'll think about that another day.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Unconventional thanks

I may be a housewife and stay at home mom, but that's where my conventional life stops.  I have never been a cookie cutter gal, and I hope I never am.  I change hair colors every month, I don't talk baby-talk to my kids, and if I could only pick one genre of book to read the rest of my life, it would be true crime.  Yeah, it's a little weird.

So you'll understand why my thankful post isn't going to be about the normal stuff.  Of course I'm thankful for my family, my friends, my home, my health, and all of the amazing intangibles in my life.  But I'm also selfishly thankful for lots of things that make my life easier or more fun.  Or maybe I'm just not in a shlocky frame of mind tonight; I don't know.

So here is my list of top five things for which I am thankful this holiday season.

1.  The Otterbox
I am really hard on electronics.  Actually, that's an understatement.  I lose them; I break them; I mangle them; I render them completely useless.  I'm on my third iPhone: I swear I don't know what happened to the first two.  When Trevor brought home the third phone for me, he also brought home an Otterbox case and suggested demanded that I use it.  It's big, bulky, black, and ugly, but it does the job.  So far, nothing has happened to my phone, and I guarantee the Otterbox is to thank.  I do have the pink version on my Amazon wish list, though, just in case anyone wondered.

2.  Earth Balance
I have become a master at substituting dairy- and egg-free ingredients in my cooking and baking.  For a while, butter was an issue, though.  I found a fantastic vegan margarine that comes in sticks as well as in spreadable form.  It's a totally random thing to be thankful for but now I can cook and bake without having to freak out too much.  And it's really delicious.  I made chocolate chip cookies for Dallas's class a few weeks ago, and no one could tell the difference.  Even the teachers asked me for the recipe after they tasted the cookies.  So, rock on, Earth Balance!  Thanks for making my life easier.  

3.  The Ford Flex
So this one is completely vain: I recognize that.  But for quite a while, I was a mini-van mama.  No big deal as a car is pretty much just transportation, but sometimes driving the brown Quest was a little demoralizing.  I lucked into a maroon Ford Flex, and I love it.  It's hip, it's roomy, it's fun, and it's not a mini-van.  (What?) I don't have the automatic sliding doors anymore, but I do have Sirius Satellite Radio.  Trust me, the trade was worth it.

4.  The Kindle
I never, ever, EVER thought I would be such a huge Kindle fan.  Trevor has had his for quite a while, and he loves it.  I'm pretty old-school, and I love the feel and smell of books.  However, for my birthday a few weeks ago, Trevor got me a Kindle, and now I'm a new woman.  I mean, I'm never giving up paper books, but the Kindle is pretty darn awesome.  I can get books anytime I want, which is fiscally dangerous but totally cool.  I can even check out ebooks from the library.  The selection isn't the best, but it's free and easy.  Plus, there are some awesome games on the Kindle.  I'm completely obsessed with Grid Detective; if you have a Kindle, check it out.  I would be happy to get Kindle gift cards for every occasion for the rest of my life.  And a new Otterbox.  Pink.

5.  DVR versus Magic Shell
This is a hard call for me.  On one hand, the DVR is incredible.  I can record shows at 3:00 AM and watch them whenever I want.  I can record a series by touching a few buttons.  Sometimes it's hard to keep up with all the Real Housewives franchises on Bravo, but I can record all of them without even thinking.  (And watch them without thinking, too.  Zing!)   I can pause recorded shows or even live TV when Dallas comes out of his room at bedtime for the seventeenth time at night or if I need to get a drink.  Brilliant, no?  On the other hand, there's Magic Shell.  You pour it over ice cream and it becomes a hard shell of tasty goodness.  Can there really be anything better?  Maybe watching The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and pausing it to dish up some Magic Shell?  Winner, winner.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.  :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

'Tis the season...

Yup, it's holiday time.  We're not quite to Thanksgiving, and the Christmas decorations are going up.  The Christmas music is in the stores, and I have even seen some Christmas trees up along our street.  But for me, right around the beginning of November doesn't signify holidays.  No, no.  Chez Wells, November always seems to begin the season of sickness.

With two kids in preschool, we definitely get our fair share of germs.  And despite the hand-washing and Lysol applications to every surface in the house, those germs eventually make everyone sick.  We seem to stay sick, too, until about May.  And by "we", I mean me, too.  That's about the only downside to preschool that I can see.  So far, Lottie has had two or three colds and strep throat.  Dallas, not to be out-sicked, has also had two or three colds, a double ear infection, and two cases of croup.  Winning!

Right now both kids are on antibiotics.  Lottie is almost finished with her ten day regimen, and Dallas has just started his.  By the time next week rolls around, I have a feeling that Lottie will be back on meds again because that's just the way it goes.

I decided to change the lyrics of one of my favorite Christmas songs to reflect my feelings about the season.

I'm dreaming of a well Christmas
Just like the one we've never had
Where the noses don't glisten
And mothers don't listen
To hear coughing in the night

I'm dreaming of a well Christmas
Without Amoxicillan
Without tissues, cough drops or phlegm
And no fevers or glassy eyes.

I'm dreaming of a well Christmas
With kids who just won't cough and sneeze
May the days be sunny and bright
And may all our Christmases be without blight

Happy holidays, y'all!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Attack of the clones

It's annoying to be compared to other people, right?  But that's human nature.  I think we compare people as sort of a comfort factor, like, "Hey, she reminds me of my favorite cousin in Paducah!  Awesome!"  Or even, "Gee, that guy totally wears his hair like my douchey-ex-boyfriend.  I'm gonna steer clear."   I think I'm always looking at Lottie and Dallas and wondering who they're going to be when they're older, and I tend to compare them to two of my favorite people.

(Apparently I need to get a newer picture of the cousins together.)

Lottie is a lot like my niece, Kate.  As a little girl, Kate was always...busy.  I don't remember a time when she wasn't moving: running, leaping, dancing, playing.  Her mind was constantly working, and she always had something going on.  She was a big fan of putting on "shows" in the backyard and making her younger brother be a part of them, sometimes against his will.  Lottie is exactly the same way.  From the minute she wakes up in the morning until the minute she falls asleep, her head is spinning with stuff.  She climbs into our bed in the morning ready to make believe that the bed is a boat, and we're surrounded by sharks.  She plays dress-up before she even gets ready for school, which does not leave a lot of time for breakfast.  But, like Kate, Lottie basically eats to live.  Her days are filled with stories, games, thoughts, plans, and dreams.  She's very physical: she likes to practice ballet, run, jump, slide, and dance.  Man, that kid likes to dance.  Our house has been the scene of many a dance party, especially on rainy days.  Also like Kate, Lottie tends to wander a bit during conversations.  I remember being at dinner with my whole family discussing an upcoming vacation to Disney World.  We all knew it was coming, but Kate seemed stunned.  She swore that no one ever told her we were going though we all knew that wasn't true.  Lottie tends to zone out like that as well.  For example, I can send her into her room for a pair of socks only to have her return twenty minutes later carrying a stuffed animal.  Kate loves to be in the center of the action, and Lottie wakes up every day wondering where the party is.  Both girls are kind, funny, extroverted, whip-smart, and beautiful inside and out.  They're both wonderful big sisters, too.

Dylan, my fantastic nephew, has always been a sweet boy.  (Sorry, Dyl.  I hope that's not embarrassing.) From the time he was little, he was always snuggly, serious, and sensible.  He has always known when he needs time alone to recharge himself, and I have always admired that quality.  Dallas is the same way.  Sometimes when Lottie's constant bossy prattle gets to him, he simply gets up and walks away.  (Then again, sometimes he bites her, but that's another story.)  But Dallas also understands the need for solitude from time to time, something that his sister doesn't ever feel.  Another thing that the boys have in common is the need for food.  When Dylan was little, he wouldn't realize he was hungry until it was too late.  By the time he got to that point, he would claim he wasn't hungry, and we would all look at each other in horror.  There would be a frantic search for a snack and then the push to get Dylan to eat it.  After one bite, he was always back to himself, but before the food, watch out.  Dallas tends to get a wee bit insanely cranky if he hasn't eaten.  There have been times that I have literally forced food into his mouth and ordered him to chew and swallow.  Cruel?  Maybe.  Necessary.  Absolutely.  I have learned in three short years to feed Dal often because one missed snack could be a bad, bad thing.  Both boys also have food allergies.  Dylan is allergic to tree nuts, and Dallas is allergic to dairy and eggs.  Dylan's allergy hasn't stopped him from doing anything, and I take comfort in that for Dallas's sake.  The boys are handsome, introspective, brilliant, kind, and amazing younger brothers.

One of my greatest hopes is that Lottie and Dallas turn out like Kate and Dylan.  Not only are Kate and Dylan superlative human beings, but they genuinely like each other.  They enjoy spending time together, and their affection for one another isn't forced.  I thought about their relationship this afternoon
while Lottie and Dallas were having a snack.  Both kids had bowls of popcorn, and, of course, Dallas hoovered his up in about five minutes.  He held his bowl up without looking at me and sang, "More popcorn!"  Before I could even open my mouth to respond, Lottie picked up her mostly-full bowl, walked over, and put half of her popcorn into Dallas's bowl.  When I told her that I would proud that she shared without even being asked, she just smiled and said, "That's what best friends are for, Mama."  My heart about exploded.  Best friends.   They're already on their way to becoming like their cousins, and that makes me smile.  If Trevor and I can do half as well raising Lottie and Dallas as my brother, Matt, and my sister-in-law, Kaye, have done with Kate and Dylan, then we're going to have some pretty awesome kids.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Warning: A Rant

Even though I tend to avoid the news, I don't live under a rock.  I would have to be completely in LaLa Land to have not heard anything about the horrible abuse that took place against innocent children at Penn State.  The whole story is sickening and horrifying on so many levels, and I truly hope that the victims in this case - the children - are not forgotten.  THEY are the true victims here: not Graham Spanier, not Michael McQueary, and certainly not Joe Paterno.

I don't follow college football; I find it tedious and a complete waste of my time.  Actually, I don't follow a lot of sports.  Over the years, I have become pretty disillusioned with the way many Americans view sports figures as golden gods.  I don't know any professional or collegiate athletes personally, but I can guarantee that they're all just normal human beings.  (Of course, that does not include my niece, Kate, who will be playing volleyball at Purdue next year.  She is no mere mortal.)  These are men and women who get paid disgusting amounts of money to PLAY GAMES for a living.  Sure, they provide people with entertainment, and relaxing is definitely an important part of life.  But, all in all, sports are games, pure and simple.  I can appreciate that professional sports employ a lot of people and feed a lot of families, but why do so many people see athletes as special beings?  (Hello, NBA players and owners.  I'm talking to you.)

When did this happen in our country?  When did it become acceptable for athletes to be treated as if they're larger than life?  When did it become okay for athletes to act like spoiled brats?  And when did it become de rigueur to excuse athletes or anyone associated with athletics from their bad behavior?  If Jerry Sandusky had been in almost any other profession, he would have been in prison faster than he could blink.  Obviously, his case takes it to the extreme, but other athletes or figures in the athletic world have been down a road that showcases their bad behavior.  Tiger Woods, anyone?  Sure, the public was disgusted by him for a while, but now he's back.  Ben Roethlisberger?  Yep, he's still playing.  Michael Vick?  Uh huh.  He's around, too.  And, apparently, for a long time, Jerry Sandusky was protected by his posse so that his despicable actions didn't spoil the Penn State football program.  Bravo.

Why do we accept this?  Why is this okay?  Certainly sports can give a sense of community, of trust, of purpose.  For some kids, sports may be the only family they have.  And that's exactly why we shouldn't allow this type of hero-worship to continue.  In the grand scheme of life, does it really matter if your favorite football team has a winning record?  Do you really care if you get to watch professional basketball?  If it does or if you do, sorry.  Maybe you could channel some of that energy to adoring people who really make a difference: teachers, soldiers, therapists, police officers, firefighters, human rights activists.  Let's stop giving the power to the people who play games for a living and the people who surround them.  Cheating on your wife isn't a game. Sexual assault isn't a game.  Making two dogs fight to the death isn't a game.  Taking away childhood and innocence isn't a game; it's a disgrace and we should be better than this.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Such strange things

When I found out I was pregnant with Lottie, there were lots of things I swore I would never do as a parent.  I wouldn’t get angry, I wouldn’t feed her any junk food, I wouldn’t let her watch television, etc.  Most of what I promised I wouldn’t do went out the window pretty quickly.  I mean, I figured out within a pretty short time that parents have to do whatever it takes to get through the day sometimes.  One thing I didn’t count on was the weird, odd, and hilarious utterances that would come out of my mouth as a mom. 

The other night, I was reading to Dallas before bedtime.  As of late, Dallas’s nighttime routine involves going to bed with his shoes on while clutching a sword in one hand and a hook in another.  In the middle of a book, I noticed Dallas slowly reaching for his face with his hook.  As I watched in horror, the hook went straight for his nose.  “Dallas!  Don’t pick your nose with your hook!”  And if that’s not weird enough, two minutes later I had to say, “Dallas!  Don’t pick MY nose with your hook!” 

When I was planning all my supermom tricks while I was pregnant, I never once thought about how I would deal with nudity.   Mind out of the gutter, people.  Not MY nudity, the kids’ nudity.  Dallas prefers to be fully dressed at all times, preferably like a pirate, but Lottie would be all nude, all the time if I would let her.  She tends to run around the house in just her underwear.  While it was cute when she was two years old, it’s not so cute now that she’s almost five.  (By the way, when did that happen???)  About two weeks ago, she was flitting around the house in her Tinkerbell underpants when the doorbell rang.  A normal person would think, “Gee, someone is ringing our doorbell.  Perhaps I should hide myself or put on some clothes.”  But not my girl.  She yelled, “THE DOORBELL!” and sprinted to the front door.  I ran down the hall after her shouting, “Lottie, answering the door in your underwear is totally not cool!” 

And when both kids are playing together, there are usually lots of opportunities for me to get in some zingers.  Lottie recently went through a rather bizarre licking stage.  Instead of kisses, Trevor and I got good night licks.  Needless to say, that phase didn’t last very long because it was gross.  But I lost count of the number of times that I had to say, “Lottie, please stop licking your brother’s head!” 

Just this morning, I had to have a stern talk with Dallas about spitting.  “I know you’re pretending like you’re a bloody skull, Dal, but you can’t spit on Lottie’s head and tell her you’re bleeding on her.  That’s nasty, buddy.” 

What can I say?  My conversations with the kids go from serious to funny to exasperating to hilarious.  One thing they never are is boring.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sweet November

I adore November.  It's my birthday month (yay!), Thanksgiving, the beginning of winter in my mind, and, most importantly, November signifies that Halloween is over.  I'm not a complete humbug, but Halloween is not my favorite occasion.  I can't even really call it a holiday because it's not something I want to celebrate.  I have no beef with the whole idea of Halloween; I enjoy being freaked out just as much as the next gal.  But what I cannot stand is the hype and the candy.  Well, I personally love the candy, but I don't love what the candy does to my kids.  And when did Halloween start becoming like Christmas?  School parties, greeting cards,'s all too much.

This Halloween has been especially trying for me.  Dallas is in a stage where he is scared of pretty much everything.  The Halloween decorations all over our neighborhood didn't help anything.  A house down the street from us had two blowup Halloween decorations in the yard: a giant pirate ship manned by skeletons and a giant treasure chest with a skeleton that popped out like a jack-in-the-box.  Dallas was so freaked by the whole scene that I have spent the last week driving out of my way just so we don't have to pass "the chest guy" in the car.  The chest guy has haunted my poor boy's days and nights.  He talks about the chest guy all the time.  Seriously, all day.  If he hates the darn thing so much, why does he play it over and over in his head?  Who knows.

Surprisingly, Halloween night went pretty well.  It started off a bit bumpy because Lottie refused to eat dinner due to sheer and utter excitement.  She couldn't focus on anything other than the promise of trick-or-treating.  The lack of food in her system caused a few meltdowns before her costume was even on.  Thankfully, she was able to pull it together and get her Jessie groove back.  Dallas got dressed with no problem, unless you count the fact that he changed his mind about his costume on an hourly basis.  Fireman.  Pirate.  Fireman.  Pirate.  Pirate, for sure.  Definitely fireman.  He finally picked pirate, and he was ready to go with his hook and sword.

We trolled our street as it started to get dark outside.  At first, Lottie wanted either Trevor or me to go up to the doors with her, but that ended quickly.  She was a real pro, striding confidently from house to house with one mission on her mind: more candy.  She chastised the rest of us for not walking fast enough.  "Quickly, you guys!  Quickly!"  She was so grown-up: confident and independent.  It was so gratifying and heartbreaking all at the same time.  Dallas was a little more timid, but he was beyond sweet.  He very politely spoke to everyone we saw, he thanked the people who gave him candy, and he even told most of them he'd see them again soon.  He was quick to reassure people who greeted him as if he were a pirate, "I'm just pretending.  It's really me, Dallas!"  He begged to go to a house that had an inflatable haunted house in front of it: the whole love/hate thing rearing its ugly head.  I eventually agreed to take him to see the spooky house, and he just stood in front of it for a long time.  He didn't want to walk through the inflatable, so we walked around it together.  I was proud of his attempt at bravery even though it must have cost him dearly to be within two feet of something that scared him so much.

The evening started off bumpy and ended with two tired kids who were past their bedtimes.  But they had fun, and that's all that really matters.  Of course, now we have to deal with the loads and loads of candy, but that's another blog...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Step into my lunch

Today was a pretty typical lunchtime with both kids at home.  Lottie wanted soup and Dallas requested a hot dog.  Easy enough, right?  Ha.

As soon as Lottie saw her soup, she complained that she had asked for vegetable beef soup, not chicken noodle soup.  Dallas then clamored for chicken noodle soup as well, but he can't have it because the noodles are made with eggs.  I split time trying to tell Lottie that the soup was more than acceptable AND that she hadn't actually requested vegetable beef soup, and then I had to explain the whole egg-noodle thing to Dallas.  That didn't go so well.  He was still smarting from the fact that I had had the audacity to run out of strawberry jelly in the morning, so he couldn't have more toast.  Bad move, Mommy.  

Lottie grudgingly ate a teeny bit of the soup and Dallas devoured his hot dog.  I made myself a pb&j sandwich, only to have Lottie longingly gaze at it like it was a cool drink of water in the desert.  I sighed and gave her my sandwich.  I got up to make another one for myself, but Dallas interrupted my task by asking where was lunch: spaghetti and meatballs.  Um, huh?  When I made that, at Dallas's request, for dinner last night, he threw a fit and said spaghetti was slimy like a snake.  Oooookay....

There are microwave packets of pasta made by Allergaroo that don't contain any of the eight major food allergens: dairy, egg, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, peanuts, and tree nuts.  I always have quite a few of those on hand, so I popped one of those in the microwave for Dallas.  While I waited for that to heat, Lottie expressed a need to eat some peanut butter and jelly crackers.  I made those, cut up Dallas's spaghetti, and delivered the food to the table.  Then both kids needed more to drink, so back to the kitchen I went.  I returned the cups of water to the kidlets and tucked a paper towel in Dallas's shirt to try to keep the spaghetti off of him.  Mr. Persnickety hates being dirty.   By the time I walked around the table and sat down at my seat to start my lunch, Dallas had ripped off the paper towel claiming that it hurt him.  I shrugged and bit into my sandwich.  Before I could swallow that first bite, Dallas held up his hands to show me the spaghetti sauce on them and demanded another paper towel...a fresh paper towel.  Sigh.  The new paper towel was tucked in just in time for Dallas to tell me that he wanted more spaghetti.  He had sucked up every last bite in about ninety seconds.  I made him more spaghetti, ran upstairs to get a new shirt because - gasp! - there was a speck of spaghetti sauce on it, came back downstairs, put the new shirt on Dallas, tucked the paper towel back in, and finally sat down to eat.  

Throughout all of the up and down, there was a constant flow of chatter.  Those kids talked and talked and talked.  They didn't even really talk to each other, though; they talked OVER each other about completely different topics.  Lottie talked about Halloween, and Dallas talked about his friend the pirate.  So much talking.  Ooodles of words.  Lots of bold, weird statements.  It's enough to make anyone's head spin.   Or wish for a Xanax prescription.  But I know there is a day in the not-too-distant future when I'll be sitting alone at the dining room table in a quiet house while both kids are in school.  I'm sure I'll enjoy the first few minutes of eating my own lunch without having to jump up and get a napkin or water or more chicken nuggets; however, I also know I'll miss their sweet faces and their laughter.  So I think I'll enjoy the insanity while I can.  

(**The kids have paint on their faces, by the way.  Dallas does NOT have a black eye.  Just wanted to clarify.  No need to call Child Services.  Thanks.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Try a little tenderness

I usually avoid the news.  It's too depressing, and I tend to internalize all of the sadness.  I like happy news and uplifting stories; who doesn't?

As much as I hate the news, I know that I have to stay somewhat current and know what's happening in the world.  In the last week, I have read about a school shooting in North Carolina, the earthquake in Turkey, a horrific attack on a gay man in Scotland, the death of Gaddafi, and wild animals running loose in Ohio.  None of that makes me want to explore the world any further; it makes me want to just stay in my house with my family and cover my head up with a soft, cozy blanket.

And the news doesn't really end on CNN or MSNBC.  I see things in my every day life that make me sad.  Some things are little like people running red lights or litter all over the streets.  I don't watch too many commercials, but the political attack ads have already begun.  I witnessed a man start a fight with his significant other in a Burger King, and he cursed at her in front of their three children.  I mean, really? REALLY?

Here's what I want: I want kindness, compassion, love, and sympathy.  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I know.  The world is a big, cold, ugly place and there's no room for fuzzy bunnies, flowers in our hair, and folk songs around the campfire.  But what if there is room for all of that and more?  Would it really be so hard to be kind to one another?  It wouldn't be.  Because along with all of the hate and violence, there is so much good in the world, too.

I've seen the good, so I know it's there.  I'd like to see more of it, though.  More stories about happiness and joy and forgiveness and hope.  I'm not normally a Pollyanna kind of gal, just ask Trevor.  However, I've had enough of the gloom and doom.  Let's focus on the positive, the gentle, the sweet, the loving, the kind, the beautiful, and the good in the world.  I work hard to show my children those qualities every day, and if I can do it, so can the rest of the world.

End of rant.  Have a lovely day.  :)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A ghost, a skeleton, and Dallas walk into a Halloween party...

It's hard being the second kid sometimes.  As parents, we know what crazy things the second kid will try based on what the first kid has done...if the first kid got caught.  Second kids get the hand-me-down clothes, the unfinished baby books and photograph albums, and comparisons to the older sibling.  As much as I try not to compare Lottie and Dallas, it happens.  I'm only human.

Dallas is now in a phase that Lottie never really went through: the imaginary friend phase.  Dallas's imaginary friends aren't the normal, run-of-the-mill friends, though.  No, not for my boy.  Dallas's imaginary friends are a skeleton and a ghost, and quite often, they all spend time together at a Halloween party or a Halloween store.

A few weeks ago, we took Lottie and Dallas to the local Halloween Express just to look at the costumes and decorations.  Dallas made it approximately eight seconds in the store before losing his mind.  I should have known not to even bother having him go inside when he started to quake at the inflated black cat at the entrance.  He was pretty hysterical, so I took him outside with me.  We couldn't even sit on the steps leading to the store, though, because the cat was looming over us.  We sat in the car and listened to "Wheels on the Bus" ad nauseum until Lottie and Trevor emerged from the store, totally unscathed.  Ever since then, Dallas has had a love-hate relationship with anything scary or Halloween-related.  He loves to read Halloween books from the library, but he can't stand the thought of watching any Disney movie with a villain.  (So, that basically leaves...nothing.) He constantly wants to talk about Halloween decorations, but when it comes to seeing them, he's still unsure.  And now we have the new pals, the ghost and the skeleton.  These imaginary friends don't hang out with us on a daily basis; I mean, I don't have to set a place at the dinner table for them or anything.  But in a sense, they're always with us.  Dallas is usually pretty precise with his words, but when it comes to the ghost and the skeleton, he tends to ramble.  He talks about them on the swings, at school, in the bathtub, during snack time, in his bed, in the get  the picture.  Often, the stories involve things he and his pals have done at a Halloween party or things they have seen at a Halloween store.  And it's not just any party or store: Dallas always throws the party and he also owns the store.

Sometimes the skeleton brings cookies to Dallas's Halloween party.  Once, the ghost pushed the skeleton into the water at Dallas's party, and Dallas had to save the ghost.  Then the skeleton got a time-out.  I wonder where this party is taking place?  The YMCA?  Lake Cumberland?  California?  And who administers the time-outs?  'Cause I know I'm not invited to these shindigs.  The ghost seems to always be the victim of the skeleton's pranks; the skeleton has also been known to spit, hit, push, and kick other people.  The worst of all of skeleton's traits, though, is his lack of sense of humor.  Dallas often laments, "Only the skeleton doesn't know any good jokes."

I did a little research on the Internet about imaginary friends.  Apparently, doctors used to think that kids who had imaginary friends were lacking something in their real lives: not enough friends or time with other children.  The current perspective, though, is that kids who make up playmates tend to have better verbal skills and social understanding than kids who choose not to create friends.  It also tends to be associated with strong creativity later in life.  Imaginary friends are no longer considered a "red flag." Whew.  My kid's not a freak; well, at least, not for that reason.  ;)

Overall, I don't mind the skeleton and the ghost.  In fact, I sort of like them.  It's fascinating to hear the stories, and I'm glad that Dallas is included in the adventures.  We've had some rough roads recently with Dallas's food allergies and him feeling left out at school; any form of inclusion he can get is pretty wonderful in my book, even if it's all in his mind.  Because, after all, to quote Albus Dumbledore, "Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean it isn't real?"

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Raising golden gods

I'd love for you to visit Danielle Elwood's blog today to read about my adventures in raising rock stars kids.  :)  Thank you so much to Danielle for letting me guest blog on her site!

And extra props to anyone who knows where I got the essay's title!  

Friday, October 7, 2011

Why I do it

I'm at home with a sick little boy.

I kept Dallas home from school Monday.  He was really tired and whiny in the morning with a slight fever, and I didn't figure he would end up being any good in a classroom.  He also wasn't interested in eating, and that rarely happens.  He stayed with me, and we did a lot of snuggling.  All day, he just wanted to be held.  He slept a little over 13 hours Monday night, and I thought that might be the end of whatever crud had started.  Silly me.

Tuesday morning, he seemed much better.  His eyes weren't glassy, he wasn't as feverish, and his mood was overall improved.  I took him to school, and everything seemed okay when I dropped him off.  Fast forward to 10:30 when my phone rang.  One of his teachers called to say that he was having a hard morning.  He was not himself at all: sad, whiny, and unable to pull it all together.  She said he was calm at that moment, but she would keep me updated on his progress.  I got my shoes on, found my keys and my purse, and in less than 5 minutes, his teacher called again to say that maybe it was time for me to come get him.  I arrived a few minutes later with worry starting to build in my chest.  As soon as I saw his face, I knew something was wrong.  He was sobbing, and he flung himself right into my waiting arms.  He buried his hot head in my shoulder and whispered, "I didn't know where you were."  Ouch.  He apparently told his teachers in the midst of his breakdown that he needed his mommy.

He needed me.  He didn't just want to see me for a moment of comfort; he needed me.  And it hit me at that moment that this is why I do what I do.  I'm a stay-at-home mom, and I do it because my kids need me.  My little boy was sick, and he needed his mommy.  When I took him to the doctor after I picked him up from school, it was confirmed that he has croup.  He rarely complains about not feeling well, so I had no idea that he was that sick.  I must have missed the signs during the morning rush to get bags packed, shoes on, and sweatshirts zipped.  It's no wonder that he was so sad, and it broke my heart to think that he felt abandoned at school Tuesday morning.

The steroid shot worked its magic overnight.  Dallas isn't completely back to normal, but he has had a big turnaround from Monday.  His voice is still hoarse and scratchy; it's sort of like living with a mini-Vito Corleone.  But instead of calling for Luca Brasi to sleep with the fishes, he's calling for another granola bar or a hug.  He is laughing again, smiling again, and even arguing with me again.  He's working his way back.

Don't get me wrong: there are definitely days that I wish I were the one going to work and leaving the clean-up, the snacks, the fights, and the tedium all behind.  But I can't.  It's not in my nature to be away from the ones I love more than I have to be.  I know myself, and I couldn't be a good mom AND a good teacher.  Someone would always be getting my best while someone else would only get the leftovers.  My decision to stay at home is what works best for our family, and it may not work as well for other parents, other families.  It's definitely not a judgement or condemnation of parents who have to work or choose to work.  I admire the fact that those parents manage a career and a family.  But I'm beyond grateful that I was able to be there to wipe away Dallas's tears, hold his hand to reassure him during the steroid shot, and feel his ragged breath as he lay on the couch with me.  I stroked his soft hair and whispered, "Everything's okay now.  Mommy's here."  Because that's my job: I'm the Mommy.

If you want to read more about mother's views on careers and families, click here or here.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A birth story

I would love for y'all to hop over to Living on Love and check out my guest post today. Lacy Stroessner is celebrating October, her daughter's birth month, by inviting people to blog about their children's birth. Thanks so much to Lacy for giving me this great opportunity!!!

                                                        Miss Lottie on her birth-day!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

"The Science of a Working Mother"

I have been slowly reading my way through Welcome to My World because I don't want to miss one word of any of the incredible essays.  There are pieces from working moms, stay-at-home moms, and moms who work from home.  As a SAHM, I don't know how the moms who work do it.  There are so many schedules to juggle, so many balls to keep in the air.  I have a hard enough time keeping everything functional chez Wells, and I'm at home all day.

"The Science of a Working Mother" by Amber Doty has prompted some serious self-reflection.  In her essay, Amber writes about her decision to be a working mom and how others assume she has to work.

"The raw truth of the matter is I want to work.  I want to work because just being a mother is not enough for me."

I think it's incredibly brave to admit that being a mother is simply not enough sometimes.  There isn't anything wrong with being a mom and staying at home, but for some, it may not be enough.  If staying at home is making a mother miserable, it may not be the best choice for that family.  Being a mom who leaves the house to work isn't always easy, though.

"...I have moments when leaving my children so I can go to work feels like an egregious crime against motherhood."

Amber writes in "The Science of a Working Mother" about the time when her son told her he hated her.  He wanted to stay home with her that morning, as he had wanted to in the past, but she was trying to get him dressed and out of the house so she could get to a meeting on time.  Harsh words to hear from your little boy, but she isn't the only one who has heard those words.  My own kids have never said they hated me, but they have said they didn't like me or they wanted a new mother.  Those words were said in fits of pique because teeth needed to be brushed or a request for a treat was denied.  I think it's a rite of passage for kids to want new parents at some point or another or to think they hate their parents.  What they don't know at the time is that (most) parental decisions are made out of everlasting, indestructible love.  And what we teach our children when they're young are lessons that last a lifetime. They watch what we do, and they hear what we say, even when we think they're not paying attention.

"It is my hope that one day my children, particularly my two year old daughter, will view my decision to work, to pursue a dream conceived long before they were, as an inspiration , as proof that you really can have it all.  I hope that they will view parenthood as an experience that is life-enriching, not life-limiting."

Isn't that what it's all about, after all?  Our job as parents is to teach our children so that they can eventually grow up and be productive adults, parents or not.  We need to show them how to live fulfilling lives that they can share with others.  Learning about kindness and acceptance will take them a long way.  No matter if we're working outside the home, working from home, or staying at home, we are all doing the best we can with what we have.  We ALL love our children and give them our best, no matter how stunning or lacking our best is, every single day.

Reading Amber's essay made me realize that we all need to support each other.  People make different choices, and different doesn't necessarily mean wrong.  Being a parent is hard enough without being condemned by others.  We all make the choices we think are best for our family.  Everybody has a story; maybe we all need to be listening to what is in each other's hearts instead of judging each other's actions.

If you'd like to read all of "The Science of a Working Mother" by Amber Doty, click here or here.  You should also hop over to The Daily Doty and Kid Scoop at to see more of Amber's writing.  Trust me: it's worth the trip.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Things overheard

I keep a list of random quotes from my kids.  I'm not even sure I know the context of all of them, but that tends to make the quotes even funnier.

Dallas: "One time, I fighted with a skeleton at a Halloween party.  But he didn't know any good jokes."  Cuz, you know.  Skeletons are known for their raucous humor.  

Lottie: "Don't forget to floss!"  This gentle reminder was given after good night hugs and kisses.

Dallas: "I love sugar." This after a bag of Skittles.

Lottie: "Dallas, my plan finally worked!"  (Silence.)  "Now I have to tell you what my plan was."  Lottie said this to Dallas as they walked up the stairs.  I never heard what the plan was.  I'm sure it was an evil plot to get to watch TV or eat ice cream.

Lottie: "Mommy, do people buy cars?  How do they carry them?"  Lottie asked me this after a trip to Kroger where she helped me carry the groceries.  Apparently she was concerned about how she was going to haul around her pink Trans-Am in the future.

Dallas: "You are the best mommy I ever had."  I'm really happy that I compare favorably to the host of other mommies he has had in the last three years.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Make Mine a Double: Why Women Like Us Like to Drink (Or Not)

When we become parents, a certain amount of our identity is lost.  We become someone’s mom or dad instead of the carefree individuals we once were.  And it seems to me that moms are especially immune to this: boys will be boys but moms can’t be anything but moms.  Why is that?  Why do women feel like they have to give up their moments of letting loose?  Last August, I went to Las Vegas with my best friend Tiffany for three nights.  When I told people I was going, every single person inevitably asked, “Oh, what about the kids?”  As if they didn’t have a father, a fully-functional parent, to stay home with them.  But on the occasions when Trevor has had to be out of town, no one has ever worried about me staying home alone with the kids.  Ah, the joy of double standards.

I’m not the only one who feels this way.  The new book Make Mine a Double: Why Women Like Us Like to Drink (Or Not) explores women’s relationship with alcohol (or not) and sense of self.  I was lucky enough to get an excerpt of the book, an essay entitled “Moms’ Club” by fellow blogger Laura Rossi Totten.  (Gorgeous and talented, no?!?!?!)

Laura has over twenty years of experience as a book publishing and public relations professional.  In New York City, she ran publicity campaigns for many celebrity and bestselling authors at such prestigious publishing houses as Random House / Bantam Doubleday Dell, The Dial Press, Viking Penguin and W.W. Norton & Company.
Laura’s book publicity experience includes working with Terry McMillan, Stephen King, Nicholas Evans, Danielle Steel, Elmore Leonard, Sara Paretsky, Elizabeth McCracken, Gina Barreca, Wynton Marsalis, John Cleese, Walter Mosley, Jane Brody, John Grisham, Dennis Rodman, John Lescroart, Paul Krugman, Garrison Keillor, T.C.Boyle, Chuck D and Fay Weldon among many others. (I'm seriously hyperventilating looking at that list, y'all!
Laura’s public relations agency experience includes leading media initiatives for national clients in the fashion, food, home, nonprofit and design industries including The TJX Companies (T.J.Maxx, Marshalls, Homegoods), Chadwick’s, Bread & Circus/Whole Foods, Bertucci’s, Backyard Farms,  Fidelity Capital/Devonshire Investors, Easter Seals, World Trade Center Boston, Altitude Inc.,, The Seaport Hotel, Amica Insurance and Ross-Simons among others.
In September 2011, Laura Rossi Totten makes her publishing debut as a contributor to MAKE MINE A DOUBLE edited by Gina Barreca (University of New England Press).  The book is a collection of witty, intelligent, and provocative pieces from a diverse community of voices including such luminaries as Fay Weldon, Wendy Liebman, Amy Bloom, Liza Donnelly, Nicole Hollander, Beth Jones, and Dawn Lundy Martin.
Over the course of her accomplished p.r. career, Laura has booked guests and products on nearly every major national television, radio, and print media outlet. A leader in social media, Laura brings a fresh, current approach to all of her campaigns and clients.
Laura majored in English and Communications, is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society, and a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Connecticut.

Mom's Club by Laura Rossi Totten
The New Happy Hour
Recipe: The Momtini
Prep time: 20 minutes (2 minutes to pour, 18 to drink)
Mix equal parts friends, fun, and your favorite alcoholic
Serve immediately and, if possible, without children.

When we exchange our Prada bags for BabyBj√∂rns, we also unwittingly check off the box that says “mothers don’t drink.” But just because we popped out a baby does not mean we still don’t want to pop the Veuve Clicquot!

Why is it that as soon as we become mothers, we are expected to leave our cosmos at the bar and settle for reruns of Sex and the City? Are all mothers who crave a glass or two of wine regarded as closet alcoholics like Stefanie Wilder-Taylor1 or Meg Ryan in When a Man Loves a Woman?
When I was single and living in New York City, I regularly went out for a drink with the girls. I loved these evenings (or Saturday afternoons or Sunday brunches)—they were a fabulous mix of fun, laughter, and group therapy with smart, funny, like-minded women. After I married and moved to Providence, Rhode Island, I continued the tradition with new friends, sharing a glass of wine with a gal pal after work or on the weekends in my new city. My friends and I always referred to these nights as “going out for drinks” or “cocktails with the girls.”
1. See Jan Hoffman, “A Heroine of Cocktail Moms Sobers Up,” New York Times, August 14, 2009.

So you can imagine my surprise when, after having my twins, the happy hour invites stopped and were suddenly replaced by e-mails and evites for Moms’ Book Club, Mommy Spa Day, Make Your Own Purse Night, Mother of Twins Club, and— well, you get the idea. In my sleep-deprived, housebound-new- mommy state of mind (did I mention that I was socially starved after weeks of pink and blue onesies?), I dusted off my English major literary prowess and drove to suburbia to my first Moms’ Book Club.

Once there, I quickly learned that you cannot judge a book club by its cover. When I arrived at my first “meeting,” instead of the provocative book discussion I had expected, I was greeted with a formal wine tasting, followed by a gourmet dinner and after-dinner drinks that lasted well past midnight—on a week- night! And then the same thing began to happen again and again: Make Your Own Purse night offered pitchers of sangria, Mother of Twins Club was drinks and appetizers at a local pub, Mommy Spa Day featured mini-spa treatments accompanied by perfectly chilled Pinot Grigio and finger food at the country club. Soon I saw a trend in all these mommy events—they were our respect- able, socially acceptable alibis for drinking. This got me thinking (and talking) about the strange double standard between the non-moms and the new moms. What to Expect When You’re Expecting didn’t have a chapter titled: “Top 10 Cute Ways for New Mothers to Secretly Steal a Cocktail.” What happened to just saying (or even shouting) “I need a drink!”?

As I talked with other moms about this (over an Irish coffee during Knitting Club, of course), a common thread emerged: even when they try to hide it, all mothers (single or married, first-time or veteran) regularly celebrate, relax, and—yes—escape with a cocktail, all in the spirit of being a better mommy. A glass of Pinot Noir, or a chocolate martini or a pomegranate margarita — the cocktail does not matter, but the escape and the ability to temporarily blur reality does. Once, on a plane ride back from Las Vegas, another mother told me in a hushed voice that
her nightly cocktail was her “mother’s little helper,” filling that time we all call the witching hour (just after the children’s dinner and before Daddy returns home). The more I talked about this to friends and relatives, the more confessions I heard. One mom always jokes, “it’s 5:00 p.m. somewhere” while pouring a glass of Chardonnay and calling her sister for a virtual drink date. Others have a weekly or monthly Moms’ Club meeting that is never canceled. More attend Moms’ Shopping Nights that involve strolling along quaint New England streets where each boutique offers sips of their favorite libations (one store owner and mother told me that these shopping nights can turn into shoplifting nights if the ladies get too tipsy).

Sitting at the computer with a glass of my favorite port, I have a realization: we really aren’t any different than our single sisters. Sure, we are moms now. Okay, we left the city for the suburbs. Yes, we have children. Yes, some of us drive minivans, and many of us now call happy hours “moms’ nights.” But we will never pack away the Prada. We still have shrines to our Jimmy Choos. We will never, ever don mom jeans or need a tlc make- over. Regardless of labels and outdated stereotypes, we will always love and crave our cocktails with the girls. We are still as complicated and delicious as the perfect martini.

As I finish my drink before heading out to the Go Green Trunk Show at a nearby mom’s house, I think that maybe I’ll host the next event: a cocktail party.

Okay, Laura Rossi Totten is all up in my dome.  So brilliant!  Just because I’m a mom doesn’t mean that I’m a completely different person from when I was a swingin’ single.  I have grown and matured, and now I wear my heart outside of my body for my children.  But I still love to laugh and have fun and, yes, have the occasional drink.  And you know what, there’s nothing wrong with that.  When Mama’s happy, everyone is happy.  For real. To read more insightful essays like Laura's, check out Make Mine a Double: Why Women Like Us Like to Drink (Or Not) at  While you're at it, check out Laura's websites: and

“Moms’ Club” by Laura Rossi Totten from
Make Mine a Double:
Why Women Like Us Like to Drink (Or Not)
Edited by Gina Barreca
Copyright © 2011 University Press of New England
Used with permission from University Press of New England