Author Archives: Krissy Mac

Quarantine Brain -> Covid Rage

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Back in late May, I started writing this post about how quarantine was making me feel confused and absent-minded. At the time, I was worrying about how I kept forgetting things and misusing words and the fact that I put a pot of water on to boil and then promptly forgot about it and went downstairs to use the treadmill. (Nothing bad happened… KJ was home. Also, my workouts are never that long so it would have been fine anyway.)

Confused woman

This is not me. I mean, look at her blown-out hair and make-up. But this is generally how I felt.

This was the post…

There is a common side effect to chemotherapy drugs to which cancer patients routinely refer to as “Chemo Brain.” My mom would often complain about being forgetful or feeling absent-minded – Did I make that follow-up appointment already? When did I buy that ground beef? Who was it that just told me she is expecting twins? – and she would inevitably blame her Chemo Brain.

New parents are all too familiar with this condition, only they know it as “Baby Brain,” a sleep-deprivation-induced haze in which it becomes common to pour coffee into your cereal and forget the name of your childhood best friend or maybe even your current best friend. If your kid is a really bad sleeper, you may even leave your car running with the back doors of your minivan wide open while you drink coffee with a friend for two hours. (True story.)

Well, fast forward to the past few weeks and I’ve noticed something similar happening to me.

One day, I asked D to “Please close the showers.”
“Huh?” he replied.
“Close the cushions,” I said and quickly realized that still wasn’t right.
“… the CURTAINS! I meant ‘Please close the curtains!”

Another day, I told someone in my house that “I’m going to run to the lock…. the STOCK… AAHHH, THE STORE!”

In the past few months… there was the aforementioned boiling water incident as well as the time I forgot to return my fifth grader’s Chromebook despite the four reminder emails we had received AND the calendar reminder I had created. I ordered art supplies that I needed for a project… twice. I sent a text message to the wrong person at least three times.

The list goes on and on. I keep swapping words or forgetting why I’m holding the spatula or walking up the stairs. I admit, I was a little worried at first. But then I started mentioning these incidents to people and most people had the same response… “OMG, ME TOO.”

And that’s when I realized… it’s Quarantine Brain.

Our brains are suffering from any number of the following:

      • Anxiety
      • Sleep-deprivation
      • Phantom Covid symptoms
      • Real Covid symptoms
      • Paper towel withdrawal
      • Boredom
      • Lack of intellectual stimulation
      • Lack of social stimulation
      • Too much whining by our housemates
      • Horrific news stories

While at first, I was 1000% sure that I was struggling with early onset dementia, I’m a bit relieved to discover that it is just Quarantine Brain, which turns out may be as widespread as the virus itself.

I got that far into writing that post and then I promptly stopped and forgot about the whole thing, proving that MY HYPOTHESIS WAS 100% ACCURATE – Quarantine Brain was REAL.

Now that we’ve moved out of total quarantine into Phase II or Phase III or whatever stupid phase of this hell we’re in, my Quarantine Brain symptoms have started to dissipate a bit. But I find that they’ve been replaced with something else. A little something I’ve decided to call Covid Rage.

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Covid Rage is a disorder in which every once in a while (meaning twice a day or so), I start to boil with anger and scream something like, “I’M SO EFFING SICK OF THIS!! WHEN WILL IT ALL BE OVER??” (I scream out loud or just quietly to the people around me, depending on my location at the time. I find they frown upon adult temper tantrums at the Little League field.) 

Once again, I’ve been talking about this affliction with others and once again, I’ve found that I’m not alone. Covid Rage is real and widespread.

Here are just a few of the things we’re all pissed off about right now…

  • School re-opening
  • School not re-opening
  • School opening a little bit.
  • Why is the decision about re-opening schools taking so long?
  • DON’T RUSH THIS DECISION… there is SO MUCH to consider!
  • Are we thinking about the teachers??
  • My office is reopening but schools are not.
  • Wear a mask. How are you not wearing a mask?
  • But, also maskne.
  • Why are the people I live with so annoying?
  • I’m sick of cooking.
  • I’m sick of takeout.
  • I’m sick of thinking about food.
  • Why does eating even have to be a thing?
  • Why aren’t we listening to scientists and medical professionals?
  • What happened to the CDC?
  • Why are there secret police in Portland?
  • It’s really, really hot.
  • SO. MUCH. RACISM.
  • Are you kidding me with RBG having cancer?
  • Fuck cancer.
  • Kanye.
  • Kids, I just don’t know if you can go to that birthday party/camp/beach gathering/lacrosse tournament. I JUST DON’T KNOW.
  • Should we go away?
  • Which states are safe?
  • Should we fly/drive/stay in a hotel/pee in a disposable bag?
  • My West Wing binge-watch has come to an end.

(OK, maybe that last one was just me, but I’ve heard similar dismay from people finishing their own binges of Schitt’s Creek and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel so I know I’m not alone.)

There’s just so much to feel mad about right now. Our earlier frustration and confusion are morphing into exasperation and anger.

There are still too many questions and we are hitting the wall.

Quarantine Brain has evolved into Corona Rage which will hopefully subside faster than the virus itself. Then we can move onto the next stage, which I’m optimistic will be something like Post Covid Zen or Calmdemic. (Sorry.)

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Please, put on your damn masks and let’s end this thing.

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PS. To avoid ending on a Covid Rage rant, here are a few pictures of some “normal” things happening around here.

D baseball

C Tennis

G strawberry-picking

G & T painting

Mother’s Day Remains Complicated

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My husband can’t win. Not when it comes to Mother’s Day. I’ve kind of always known that but it really hit home this morning when I woke up to find a gorgeous vase of orange flowers (my favorite) surrounded by homemade cards, his with a heartfelt, long message inside. (“Words of Affirmation” is my love language and “Lots of Words of Affirmation” is my love-you-a-lot language.) I looked at the flowers and registered that they were just what I would have picked for myself. I read the kids’ cards and KJ’s message that was kind and thoughtful. And then I immediately went back upstairs, climbed into bed and texted my friend, “Mother’s Day sucks.”

This is not shocking. I’ve known and said and written for years about how complicated Mother’s Day can be for me and for others who have lost their moms, have strained or no relationship with their Moms, have struggled to become Moms and on and on. But it’s tricky because some years are so much better than others. Last year, for example, I think we had brunch and a soccer game in the torrential rain, and it was all fine and actually not that complicated at all.

“I’m over it!” I remember thinking. “Mother’s Day is FINE now!”

Hmmm.

KJ’s been asking me questions this week about when I want to eat and what I want to do (options are limited because, well, quarantine). And I’ve been cranky about it. He should just know how to make Mother’s Day perfect for me! I’ve been known to think.

HA! Obviously, that’s an impossible task. I can’t even decide how to make Mother’s Day perfect for me. And I realize that whether we have our take-out at brunch time or dinner time; whether we have Mexican or Italian; whether he buys flowers or not or reminds the kids to make cards or not, sometimes I just won’t really be happy on Mother’s Day. And my kids and I all have to know that that it has nothing to do with how I feel about them.

My Mom was known to say, very matter-of-factly, “I have the best kids.” She’d say it often, to anyone and everyone. She wouldn’t even hesitate to say it to other Moms who SURELY would be thinking, “Um, mine are pretty great, too” but people are generally polite so they would just smile and nod. And that was BEFORE she got cancer!

After she was diagnosed, the frequency in which she would tell people that her kids were THE BEST KIDS increased tenfold, but by then, people felt sorry that she was sick so they would just wholeheartedly agree with anything she said. And you can imagine how that would fuel her fire. She’d say to us, “I tell people ‘I have the best kids!’ and they agree! Everyone knows that I have the best kids!” I can hear her voice saying it right now.

I’m thinking about that a lot of today. Partly because I miss those words of affirmation (ha!) but partly because, I’ve spent the day seeing people write about how they have the Best Mom Ever! and I’m so damn envious. But also, so happy. I really do love when people appreciate their Moms. But I’m desperate to know what our relationship would have looked like if she was still here today.

Would I call her my best friend? Or the rock that holds our family together? Or say she drives me crazy but she’s the best! I know for sure that she would have loved a Facebook tribute. (And as my brother recently pointed out, she also would have loved Dr. Fauci.)

This year is probably a little harder because of the coronavirus and being stuck at home for – what are we on now, week 481? And it’s definitely a little harder because my sister’s going over a medical bump-in-the road which has been… stressful.

My feelings about Mother’s Day are akin to grief itself… it’s not a linear progression of getting easier and easier. I lost my Mom 17 years ago. The first few Mother’s Days were awful. Then some were fine. But today is hard. Like grief, the days/months/years don’t simply get easier and easier in a straight line. There are setback days. (It feels like there may be a math/graph term to use here but obvi I have no idea what it is.) Most days I think of my Mom with smiles, laughs and eye rolls. But once in a while, it’s a wave of grief as if she died yesterday.

Have I already written about the siblings I met on the breast cancer walk? I’m too lazy to go check past posts so I’m just going to tell the story again. Not long after my Mom died, I was walking in the Avon 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk. I was chatting with a group of four siblings, who were probably 15-20 years older than me and they were sharing their story about walking in memory of their Mom who had died of breast cancer 19 years prior. They were all very emotional as they talked about her and I’m so ashamed when I think of my reaction now, although hopefully I didn’t let it show. I remember thinking, “Your mom died 19 years ago? And you’re still so upset?”

I know. It’s awful. But I think it was just the part of me that assumed – and hoped – that by the time that many years went by, the grief would be DONE. It was hard to face the fact that I might still be crying 19 years later!

But here it is. It’s been 17 years and most days I am fine. Even on Mother’s Day. But today, I miss my Mom. And I miss the way she thought we were the best.

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So, the day remains complicated. And that’s OK. I have gorgeous flowers and heartfelt messages and even an original song from my girl. Mother’s Day doesn’t have to be perfect and my Mom would appreciate my acknowledging that. But she would also remind me that Mother’s Day will never be all sad because I have the BEST KIDS EVER.

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Happy Mother’s Day to all of you wonderful moms in my life and for those of you for whom today might have sucked a little, it’s almost over. Next year MIGHT be better.

PS. I would be doing my future self who is re-reading this a disservice if I didn’t mention the other highlights of the day.

*I had a school mom friend reach out to tell me that she thinks of me on Mother’s Day because of one tiny thing I did a million years ago that helped her as a Mom. Geez, that message almost took me out.

*Another close friend reached out to say that she feels close to my Mom even though they never met. I told her I know why – it’s because they both love my hair half up, meatballs and family – so it makes sense. So many happy tears.

*A few other great friends reached out with some version of, “I know today sometimes sucks for you.” They each made me realize that there’s nothing better than having friends that know that kind of thing about you and acknowledge it with love.

*I chatted with my sister for two hours about nothing and everything and that will always be a highlight of my day.

 

Corona Club

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As many of you have already heard, I tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this week. I am FINE and my story is not exciting. But I know that people have a lot of questions so I’ve attempted to answer them here. 

 

You tested positive??
Yup. Remember in my last post, I mentioned being sick and said something to the effect of “I’m confident this is not corona?” Well, the joke was on me. I ended up getting tested last week and five days later (which was earlier this week), my results came back positive.

 

OMG, are you OK?
I’m almost totally fine. I’m a tiny bit congested and my sense of smell remains elusive. I’m still taking naps but come on… we’re all doing that, right?

 

What were your symptoms?
I had tightness in my chest from the very beginning, but as someone who struggles with anxiety, that was easy to dismiss. Soon after, I had severe head and body aches for two days. By day three, I felt much better but then I had the dry cough in addition to the tightness in my chest and a whole bunch of GI issues for several days. I also lost my sense of smell (anosmia) almost immediately but didn’t even realize that until I started reading about that being a symptom.

Last week, KJ made some beef thing for dinner one night and the kids were raving about it. They were all, “Dad, this is SO good!” and I was all, “Really? It doesn’t really taste like anything.”

DUH.

I never had a fever. This is important because I’ve heard of people dismissing their symptoms because they don’t have a fever.

 

Where did you catch it?
Who knows? It might have been at the boys’ March Madness basketball tournament at CES or BMS or maybe the Hoopfest basketball tournament at one of several locations… possibly at SES while volunteering with the Little Mermaid show… or possibly at CVS or Stop & Shop or Fresh Market or… you get the point.

I do have one friend who reached out as a potential “point of contact” for both D and me. She did eventually test positive as well. I SO appreciated her giving me the heads up because it made me more diligent about paying attention to my own symptoms. But the truth is, there is absolutely no way to know for sure where I caught this virus. It was all over our town and it could have found me anywhere.

Except the gym. I definitely did NOT catch it at any gym. I can rule that out for sure. 😏

 

When did you get sick and what did you do?
I woke up on Wednesday, March 11th and felt “off.” I cancelled my appointments that day and haven’t seen anyone or left the house since then other than a few walks around our neighborhood (keeping the requisite distance from neighbors) and my drive to get tested (more below).

I feel really lucky that our town had an early awareness of this virus and began social distancing ahead of other parts of the country. I think that REALLY helped us take this thing very seriously from the beginning.

 

How did you manage to get tested?
I’m not sure why, but it was fairly easy for me. I booked an appointment online through greenwichdocs.com. I filled out a survey, sent in my insurance information and received an email confirming my appointment. I did not have a doctor’s referral. It’s possibly that I “slipped in” before the testing schedules got crazy? I’m not sure.

I arrived at the test site in Stamford at 6:00am in the pouring rain and waited 45 minutes while they set up their stations. Once they were set up, the testing took about three minutes. I showed my license through my car window and since they already had my insurance information, they waved me on. I pulled my car under a tent, was swabbed through my nose and that was it. I’ve heard that the test has been very uncomfortable for people. While it doesn’t feel great to have something stuck waaaaaay up your nose, it was super-fast and not painful. The results took five days.

 

Did you isolate from your family?
Not entirely. The days that I was really sick, I wasn’t getting out of bed anyway. But KJ brought me drinks and Tylenol. Once I was feeling better, I re-entered the mix. I was, and still am, obsessive about hand-washing and Lysol-wiping everything. I didn’t hug and kiss the kids but I also didn’t stay isolated in one room. With hindsight, I should have, and I feel super lucky that KJ and the kids haven’t showed any symptoms.

 

Were you freaked out when you got the results?
Why yes, yes, I was. I wasn’t shocked (because of the loss of the sense of smell) so I was actually surprised by how upset I was when I got the results. I received an email from Quest Diagnostics before I actually spoke to a doctor, so my fear may have been because the email was like “DANGER! DANGER! VIRUS DETECTED!”

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What happens now?
I’m in contact with the doctor whose medical practice is handling the testing for our area. He FaceTimes me every couple of days to check in and talks about being in the “Corona Club,” which makes me laugh. He told me that as soon as I am 100% symptom-free, including the sense of smell returning, I will be retested. Once I receive two “negative” tests within a 24-hour period, I’m good to go (go where, exactly? Not sure). No one knows for sure if those of us who recover from the virus have the “immunity antibodies” but my fingers are crossed. Once that is confirmed, I will start grocery shopping for EVERYONE and donating blood and plasma like nobody’s business.

 

Are you relieved now that you’ve had it?
Um, sort of? I am EXTREMELY thankful that my case was mild and that – KNOCKING ON ALL THE WOOD – my family is OK. And if having it means that now I can help someone else, then yeah, that will be great.

Also, I guess it’s cool that I can check the mail without fear now. The other day, I told KJ to leave the pile of mail in the hallway because I didn’t want to touch it. He looked at me with a smirk and then said, “Um, you already have it. Are you afraid you’ll test SUPER-POSITIVE?” 🤦‍♀️

 

Have you dominated your time in quarantine?
If by “dominated,” you mean “taken lots of naps, completed 2 ½th puzzles and started to crochet a new blanket” than YES, I HAVE. But my closets remain unorganized, my garage is still messy, and the laundry’s not even done (can laundry ever really be done?).

 

How do you feel about social distancing?
Social distancing is kind of normal life for me. The fact that everyone else is participating now is just a bonus.

I’m KIDDING. I feel terrible for all the extroverts out there who are really struggling with lack of in-person human interaction. And I’m really bummed for my kids, who miss their friends a LOT. But I don’t get bored and that’s FINALLY something that feels like a good thing rather than an aptitude for laziness.

Also, I feel much less anxious now that everyone has more or less been home for over two weeks. It’s a sense of control that was missing the first few days. That said, I have discovered that I need to stay away from the news as much as possible. The horror stories coming out of the NYC hospitals as well as any/all of Trump’s press conferences put that tightness right back into my chest, so it’s best for me to avoid for now.

 

How’s homeschooling going?
Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

 

No, seriously.
Well, I’ve learned (relearned?) about things like the Stamp Act and PEMDAS and how to say fish in Spanish (either pez or pescado, depending on usage) so I’d say we’re winning!

Seriously, our teachers are incredibly awesome and are making it pretty easy for us. I think my kids may take an abnormal amount of “movement breaks” but I’m fine with that.

 

Did people really ask you all of these questions?
No. If I’m being honest, nobody asked me “Have you dominated your time in quarantine?” but I have heard most of these questions multiple times.

I wanted to share my experience because everyone is starved for information and curious about people’s experiences. The stories on the news are sad and depressing so I hope people find comfort in my story… fairly mild symptoms and good care.

 

Anything else you want to add?
Yes, a few things.

  1. I’d like to publicly and sincerely apologize for accidently hoarding hand sanitizer. When this was all starting, I couldn’t find any in the stores, so I ordered a bunch online. But then the shipping dates were all screwy, so I kept ordering more. Well, let’s just say that they all started arriving after quarantine and now I have… a lot. I have already reached out to the town and they’re going to pick up my extra supply on Monday. So hopefully my guilt will be alleviated soon.
  2. THANK YOU to all the doctors, nurses and medical staff on the front line of this thing. You’re all freaking heroes. (And custodians, grocery store employees, delivery/truck drivers, and pharmacy workers, as well.)
  3. THANK YOU to my family members for keeping us supplied with more food than we usually have in the house. LoriMac has done some grocery shopping for us and T&P delivered more prepared food that we could eat in a week. The Village is in full effect and we appreciate it.

Continue to stay home, everybody. We will get through this and you will all eventually get back to your normal, social lives and I will continue to stay home and we will all be happy again. Sending love.

 

Corona Thoughts

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Well, this all sucks, huh?

Last week, I was joking that as an extreme introvert, I’d been training for this my whole life. But now, like everybody else in the entire freaking world, I’m anxious. Vacillating between “holy shit panic” and “this too shall pass calm,” I’ve settled mostly on “if everyone would just STAY HOME, we might be OK.”

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TAKE A DEEP BREATH.

But my head has been doing that swirly thing and I remembered when I had this feeling during the stressful, sleep-exhaustive days of infants and toddlers the only thing that would help was to write it all down.

So here we are.

The following – without any organization, planning or editing – are my thoughts:

> I have been sick for the past two days. I did not have a fever at any point, mostly just head and body aches, but I stayed in my room and avoided the kids, etc. I feel MUCH better today than I did yesterday, so I feel confident this is not corona. I debated trying to get tested but with the limited tests available AND the fact that I don’t have corona symptoms, I decided that was probably a lost cause. Despite my confidence, I will stay home and avoid contact with others for at least two weeks.

> Corona is in our town but it’s unclear who/how many/if I’ve been exposed. I totally understand the case for privacy and I even get the “just assume everyone’s been exposed at this point” advice but as with most things, the more clarity we have, the less anxious we feel. So, I do wish we could get a bit more information about the current situation in our town.

> We’re getting mixed messages from government officials, both national and local. I’ve had to stay away from the national news because it makes me too anxious. I will just say that this virus best not screw up Election Day. #HazmatSuitsforVoters

> I like how I’m still getting emails about businesses cancelling things that say, “Out of an overabundance of caution, we are now cancelling…” Um, what? I’d hardly call it an “overabundance” at this point but thanks for the chuckle.

> At my peak miserable yesterday, I was scared. What if I don’t feel better tomorrow? What if this keeps getting worse? What if I’ve already given whatever it is to my kids? But as our thoughtful friends and neighbors checked in, left soup and magazines and brought us supplies (all left on the doorstep, of course), I was reminded AGAIN that I’m so damn fortunate.

I’m keeping in mind the millions of people that have to worry about things like…

  • Lost wages for missing work
  • The security of their employment or small business
  • Their kids not eating enough because they’re missing their school meals
  • Missing important medical appointments like chemotherapy
  • Getting sick with a compromised immune system

It’s all too much.

Are you guys hearing about ways to help? Mr. Rogers told me to look for the helpers so I’m ready. If you are a helper or know of a helper, please point them out. As of now, we plan to buy gift cards for all of our favorite restaurants and local shops. 🙂 What else can we do?

> Here are some of the less important things that we’re sad about in this house and our planned remedies for them

Problem –> Missing school.
Remedy –> Um, our teachers are amazing. They are working hard to share ideas for at-home learning. The middle school teachers are posting reading materials and assignments that they had little time to prepare. D’s 5th grade teacher is interacting with the class every day, posting assignments and even encouraging an online exchange of videos so each student can share their thoughts about the books they’re reading. G is doing his packets that came home on Wednesday. And still practicing his recorder on a daily basis, God help us all.

Problem –> No playdates or in-person time with friends (And I mean NONE.)
Remedy –> FaceTime! So. Much. FaceTime.

Problem –> Theater performances being cancelled after many, many hours of rehearsal and preparation
Remedy –> At home musical creation and performance! (stay tuned… this should be good)

*Side note: I just saw this post on Twitter from Broadway star Laura Benanti…

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I love this idea! Please send me all of your kids singing ALL of the songs!

Locally, the actors and crew of SES’ Little Mermaid, Long Lots’ The Wizard of Oz, BMS’ Matilda and SHS’ Seussical (did I miss any?) have all worked SO hard and I feel really sad for them. Hopefully the show will go on… later in the year. But in the meantime, send me videos of your kid singing their showtunes… they’re my favorite thing to watch.

Problem –> General boredom
Remedies* –>

  • School assignments
  • Reading quietly
  • Reading out loud
  • Family book club
  • Math stuff – IXL and other math apps (I obviously will not be homeschooling math)
  • Writing about what we’re reading
  • Creative writing
  • Bad-poem writing
  • Writing letters to friends
  • Writing thank you notes (first up, to the custodial staff deep cleaning our schools right now)
  • Science experiments (I mean, we’re not doing that in my house, but you guys should totally do some)
  • Walking the dog
  • Basketball & other outdoor sports
  • Indoor obstacle courses
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Musical instrument practice
  • Online piano lessons
  • Painting/drawing
  • Clay/Playdough
  • Rock painting
  • “Raid the basement art supplies” projects
  • Sewing/crocheting
  • Puzzles – jigsaw, sudoku, crossword, brain teasers to name a few
  • Podcasts
  • Organizing closets and wardrobes
  • Laundry, laundry, laundry
  • Local business support – pick one, buy a gift card for future use
  • Help a Helper – find an organization helping and donate
  • Household scavenger hunt
  • Driving scavenger hunt
  • Screens (because I haven’t completely lost my mind)

*Before anyone is impressed by this list, please know that the only things on this list that have gotten done in our house are (minimal) school assignments, reading quietly, basketball and screens. Our “Anti-Boredom Intensive” starts on Monday. I’ve already warned the kids that’s when shit gets real.

> And lastly, I have a confession: I currently have six regular and six travel size bottles of hand sanitizer in my house. I did not mean to hoard them, I swear. When the stores all sold out, I purchased the regular size ones on Amazon but the delivery times were vague so then I ordered the travel ones. They all arrived earlier this week and I was planning to share, but then I felt sick so THAT didn’t seem like a smart idea. But every time I see those bottles of hand sanitizer, I feel guilty.

So this is all is brand new territory. But thank God Al Gore invented the internet and we now have social media (whoever thought we’d say that?!) and texting and FaceTime and all the other ways we can stay connected in a world where we cannot – and should not – be physically connecting.

For you huggers and social butterflies and extroverts… I see you. This is going to be a little harder on you guys than for those of us that have been practicing social distancing for years, but YOU WILL GET THROUGH THIS.

Listen, if you promise to self-isolate, I promise to answer my phone when you call. We can all make sacrifices.

Stay healthy and stay home.

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TAKE ANOTHER DEEP BREATH.

PS. Please let me know if you need hand sanitizer. I promise to deep clean the bottle with the Lysol wipes that I’m also accidently hoarding.

New Decade: Make it Count

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New Decade: Make it Count

This blog was born eight years ago today!

The timing strikes me as funny because as we wrapped up 2019, there was a lot of talk about “the past decade.” In November and December, I saw a lot of posts on social media that said things like, “THERE ARE ONLY SIX WEEKS LEFT IN THIS DECADE… HOW WILL YOU MAKE THEM COUNT?!?”

Which was awesome because that time of year doesn’t have enough stress built in; it was nice that people wanted to help nurture those roots of anxiety. 😒

Being as I had barely “made the previous ten years count” – all I had done was RAISED HUMAN BEINGS – that felt like a lot of catching up to do in just six short weeks.

So, I did what I always do in late November-early December:

  • Shopped for holiday gifts.
  • Spent time in the kids’ classrooms.
  • Wrapped 138 presents.
  • Shopped some more
  • Ate candy. (A lot.)
  • Baked cookies (Not a lot because I’m not great at baking but the kids think it’s fun).
  • Went to holiday concerts and parties.
  • Shopped some more.
  • And then, as usual, I watched Love, Actually while I wrapped the last of the presents. (Obviously, I cried at the end when the little boy jump’s into Liam Neeson’s arms at the airport and they spin and hug. If you don’t cry at that part, you’re a robot.)

And then guess what happened? New Year’s Eve rolled right into New Year’s Day, as it always does, and now it’s 2020 and there’s a whole new decade during which you can make things count. Yay time passing!

Why isn’t anyone making memes that scream, “YOU HAVE TEN YEARS (minus nine days) IN THIS DECADE… HOW WILL YOU MAKE IT COUNT” right now? This would be much less stress-inducing than all those posts in December. Granted, it wouldn’t be particularly motivating either, as that’s a LOT of time. Most people would probably just think, “Eh, I’ve got plenty of time. I think I’ll procrastinate a bit… until like 2024 or 2028.”

Staring into the abyss of a new decade, I’ve been thinking about what it looks like to “make it count.” What does that mean? What counts? Does keeping up on laundry count? Does reading/listening to audiobooks count? How about drawing/coloring? Because if those three things count, I am ON FIRE in this decade so far.

It’s more than that though, right? Probably something like “having a meaningful impact on the world.” OK, but what does THAT mean? Am I doing that now? I’m certainly having a meaningful impact on my kids’ worlds… although whether it’s a positive impact or a therapy-inducing impact remains to be seen.

I joked about barely making the previous decade count but 2010-2019 was pretty kid-centric for me. At the start of 2010, I had a four-year-old, a two-year-old and a newborn. I barely even remember 2010-2014. The whole decade could be summed up with just a bunch of words: tantrums, snacks, laundry, exhaustion, carpools, homework and “can we have dessert?”

I launched this blog exactly eight years ago smack in the middle of that foggy time because my head was spinning with anxiety and boredom and sleep deprivation and writing things down was a way to make my brain a little less swirly.

Also, because everything I was reading about parenting at the time was pretty rose-colored. “Kids are blessings and you should enjoy every minute” and blah blah blech. Sure, my kids were great, but they were also driving me CRAZY. So, I wrote about that.

And then as soon as I could say “Publish this post,” (actually, I wouldn’t say it because this was pre- Alexa days… I would actually have to click the “Publish” button) I would start hearing from other parents, usually on the path leading into the preschool where I lived at the time, saying “SAME SAME SAME that’s my life, too!”

The misery of preschoolers’ parents definitely loves equally exhausted company.

I did a few other things as well: with the help of friends and family, I wrote a book about my Dad; we travelled to England, Ireland, Mexico and Alaska (I found a way to effectively deal with my fear of flying, which was huge… spoiler alert: it’s drugs) and I became more politically aware and active than I have ever been before. But for the most part, it was the decade of child-rearing.

Now, a NEW decade lays out (lies out? Is laid out?) in front of me with a million optional paths. But they’re all kind of blurry. And it’s unclear which path will lead to MEANINGFUL IMPACT – for the world or for myself.

Is it the get a job path?

Write a book path?

Find a way to make the hours I spend on doodly drawings worthwhile somehow?

Learn how to play piano?

Take more walks?

Spend more time outside?

Volunteer?

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The right answer is probably “all of the above.”

I would like to look back in 2029 and think, “Nice job, kmac. Look at what you’ve done. You really made it count.” (I actually don’t talk to myself that way, but maybe if I accomplish all of the above, I will?)

So, it’s time to get hiking.

Of course, in the meantime, I’m fine with a slow amble on the only definitive path* for now:

Continue raising the human beings. They’re not finished yet.

Oh, and also, learn the proper usage of lay vs lie.

What does “making it count” look like for you? Goals for the decade? When will you start? How about now? NO PRESSURE. You have ten years.

Happy 8th Birthday, Who Needs a Nap? ME.

 


*I really took that path metaphor too far. I’m sorry for that.

First Day of School 2019

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This post was unplanned as this blog remains mostly neglected these days. But this morning, Charlie asked me to help her with her hair and I realized that she was so tall, I couldn’t look down at the top of her head anymore. I thought, “I should document this moment,” which led to this post.

When people ask me why I don’t post anymore, there are a couple answers:

First, my kids are not babies/toddlers/preschoolers anymore and they mostly sleep through the night. I don’t feel the compelling need to vent all of my parenting frustrations about sleep deprivation and tantrums and the monotonous existence one lives with super young kids. (Hang in there, new moms… we see you.) 

Second, more importantly, my current parental frustrations and concerns are too entwined with issues they may not want me to share, so end of story. As older kids, their stories are their own now. (Some might argue they always were, but they were too young to articulate that so too bad for them.) 

Yet this remains a place for me to record, preserve, remember… so here goes.

Happy First Day of School to everyone who’s celebrating.

Yo kids,

I LOVE the First Day of School.

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I know you guys are somewhat less enthusiastic about it because in addition to your excitement over new teachers and classes and eagerness to see friends you missed over the summer, you’re also dealing with nerves (what if my teacher is not as cool as they seemed yesterday?), social anxiety (what if I don’t have friends in my classes?) and sure, a little bit of dread (ugh, homework).

I feel those things too; I’m also nervous you won’t love your teacher, anxious that navigating the social scene will be tricky this year and sure, I also feel a little bit of dread (ugh, helping you with homework). But for the most part, I love the fresh start/blank canvas/empty notebook/other clichés for the beginning of something feeling of The First Day of School.

Even when you’re returning to the same school you’ve been attending for years, with mostly the same kids, the first day of school is ALWAYS a chance to start over. Nothing from last year counts, if you don’t want it to… not the grades, fights, games, scores, problems, the time you threw up in the hallway… it’s all washed away (literally in the case of the vomit) which leaves a clean slate for this new year. (Ooh, clean slate… that’s another good metaphor.)

We’re rolling into this new year a little bit more low-key than in the past. We didn’t shop for new clothes; we didn’t get haircuts. We did order new sneakers, but they haven’t arrived yet. Two out of three of you were fine using the same backpacks you’ve used for multiple years already. I didn’t do a massive pantry cleanout or stock the fridge with too many healthy stacks that you won’t eat.

But we did take the First Day of School pictures (this is VERY important… you won’t understand why until you have kids and Facebook) and we reviewed our motto… Kindness & Confidence.

Kindness: Pretty self-explanatory. Always our #1 goal. Not complicated. Be kind. To everyone. The new kid, your old friends, the kids you’ve known forever but aren’t really friends with, your new teacher, your old teachers, the people who work in the cafeteria (ESPECIALLY the people who work in the cafeteria because they feed you most days), the bus driver, the Kindergarteners on the bus with you… you get the point.

Confidence: This does not mean that you should think you are better than anyone. You’re not. I just want you guys to have confidence in who you are. Be yourself. You do you, as the young people say (do the young people say that?). Be confident enough to always make good choices, to advocate for yourself when necessary and for others, if appropriate. Walk tall.

(And chew with your mouth closed. Sorry, not really related to confidence but I couldn’t resist throwing it in because you guys sometimes struggle with that and it can be gross.)

Charlie, in the past month, you officially became a teenager and you grew about 17 inches. When you asked me to put your hair up this morning and I realized that I couldn’t look down at the top of your head anymore, I almost cried. Just thinking about all those times – those many, many, many times – that I looked down to check your scalp for lice makes me weepy. (Because of the lice, I mean. Please don’t get lice again because now I can’t see the top of your head anymore so I probably wouldn’t catch it early and then we’d have an infestation on our hands and you know what, I’m too old for that and so are you.)

You’re walking into 8thgrade with a lot of unknows about what this year will look like. Who cares? Unknown = new = exciting = might be better. Regardless, it’s your last year of middle school and it’s sure to be an interesting ride. You have a great attitude, fantastic friends, the one new backpack in the family and a crazy ass dog… you’ll be fine.

Declan, you’re also at the top of the school… 5thgrade! This is a super fun year with special 5thgrade field trips, events and parties. It’s so exciting that you have your first male teacher who fully embraces weirdness. (I’m totally not calling you weird, D… just saying that I love a teacher who sees quirkiness as a good thing instead of a deficit.)

I don’t necessarily want you to think of fifth grade as a winning game, but if you work hard and keep your game face on this year, you will – as Dad would say – dominate.

Grayson, I loved how excited you were yesterday when you realized that this year you get to BE the buddy instead of HAVE a buddy. That is a very cool perk of being a 3rdgrader! Also, you get to do the tug-o-war at Field Day for the first time! What else? A whole new world of books to read and vegetables to try! (I know, not school-related but had to sneak it in.) I can’t wait to see where your love of words, characters and stories carries you this year.

Some people think that if there’s something you really want, writing it down and “sending it out to the universe” will help you receive it. I don’t know, it’s something about manifesting your own destiny or something… maybe the phases of the moon and the tides are involved? Not sure. But let’s try. Here are my Wishes for the New School Year.

  • Top lockers* and/or backpacks that weigh less than 10 lbs.
  • Teachers who offer “extra recess” or “No Homework passes” as rewards
  • Solid friendships with old friends and the anticipatory excitement of new ones
  • New books that will help develop or strengthen your love for reading
  • Laughs, laughs, laughs (always “with,” never “at”)
  • Projects that inspire and teams/groups that work well together
  • No calls/emails home about “incidents” or infectious diseases.
  • Teachers who see you, get you and support the way you and your brains
  • More popcorn chicken*

(Please note: I don’t particularly care that much about this, but I know you guys do, so I’m adding it.)

OK, time to crush 3rd, 5thand 8thgrades. But in a kind way.

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Love you all the most,

Mom

PS. Yes, I realize I used my kids’ real names in this post. It was time. You all know who they are anyway.

The Insanity of Kids’ Sports

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Yesterday was the second day of school. It was also the day that Nib had to choose between attending his first travel soccer practice or the tryout for the fall baseball travel team. (“But baseball is a spring sport?” you say, if you’re an adult and remember the days when every sport ran for about 2 ½ – 3 months and the rest was the “off-season.” Not anymore.)

AND SO IT BEGINS.

I’m not sure my kids fully grasp how different the World of Youth Sports & Activities is than when I was a kid. I’ve told them about how I played softball once a week and spent the other hundreds of hours of my free time playing in the nasty, damp, mosquito-invested “fort” my neighborhood friends and I created under my family’s deck. (If West Nile had been a thing back then, we’d be dead.) But they still don’t really get it. So, I wrote them this letter to tell them about it. And of course, I used the phrase, “When I was your age…” BECAUSE I RELISH BEING AN OLD LADY WHO ALSO USES WORDS LIKE “RELISH.”

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Dear Kids,

WHEN I WAS YOUR AGE… (I just really think it works here) the World of Youth Sports & Activities was very different than it is now. It wasn’t even a “world,” it was just games you played with some friends in the same town, at your local field, maybe wearing the same color t-shirt… and then maybe throw in a dance class.

Sure, we had soccer, but I never played because get this – not EVERY KID tried soccer. I KNOW! I played softball, but it was a relaxed, weekly gathering of “Red” vs “Orange” and mostly an excuse to hang out with friends. I’m sure there were games and I’m pretty sure they all happened at the high school field one mile from my house. I was also a cheerleader for the Pee Wee football team and if I remember correctly, we practiced for one hour a week at the community center and then jumped around on the track during the Broncos football games on Saturday mornings.

My siblings had sports and activities, too so it wasn’t like we were sitting around playing Frogger all the time. (Google it.) Granted, I wasn’t a parent then and I also wasn’t a particularly overly-involved kid BUT in my memory, it was all much more relaxed. (More relaxed in the 70s? SHOCKING.)

Quick side note: last time I mentioned to my kids that I grew up in the 70s, HD said, “Wait, the 1870s??” #mymathgenes

OK, back to sports. Let’s break down where I see the biggest differences.

#1. The Quantity of Options. There is a seemingly endless supply of sport and activity choices available for young kids these days. Soccer, baseball/softball, football, ballet and gymnastics have always been around, but NOW we’ve added lacrosse, field hockey, ice hockey, martial arts, wrestling, flag football, hip hop and rugby to the mix… for 7-year-olds!

When I was a kid, I took a dance class that combined ballet, tap and BATON TWIRLING into one 45-minute class a week. Now, parents spend a fortune specializing for their six-year-olds. (Admittedly, I haven’t seen a baton twirling class lately, but then again I HAVEN’T REALLY LOOKED.)

Wait, what about the theater classes! When I was growing up, “drama” was just what happened when my Mom wouldn’t bring me to the mall. I don’t know anyone under the age of well, college, who took acting classes. Yet, just last week I signed HD up for a class called “Acting for Film & TV.” I’M NOT EVEN JOKING. HD is going to learn how to be a soap opera star.

<smh>

(That means “shaking my head” for those of you 1,000 years older than me.)

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Doing their drama.

#2. SEASONS. There are none anymore. ALL sports get played ALL year! The schedulers do their best to avoid conflicts, but some are inevitable. We try to prioritize the sport that would be “in season” if you guys were in high school, i.e. soccer in the fall, baseball in the spring but it’s not always possible. We’d love for you to be able to take a season off, but then we have to worry about you “falling behind” and not making the team the following season/year. This is really, really true. Nib tried lacrosse in second grade and didn’t like it because the Kindergartners and first graders in his group were already so much better than him.

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#3. The Post-Travel Leagues. We have Rec sports. We have Travel sports. And now we have Premier leagues in sports like baseball and soccer. It’s very possible these always existed, and I was just never good enough to play on any of them but it’s all very complicated and I still don’t really understand how any of it works. All I know is that you have to drive even further for the practices, games and tournaments.

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Participation trophy! Another thing that’s changed… but that’s for another letter.

#4. The Schedules. Let’s break it down. This fall, HD has soccer practice on Tuesdays at 4:15, but it overlaps with CCD (religious ed) so we’re going to have to figure something out there. Nib and LO both have soccer practice on Wednesdays and Fridays but at different times in different places. HD has his Soap Opera class on Thursday afternoons at the same time as Nib’s practice and since I haven’t figured out the whole cloning thing yet, THAT’S gonna be tricky. (Is 9 years old too young for Uber?)

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Run fast! We have to get to soccer!

Nib also wants to play baseball so that’ll be practices two days a week, fingers crossed for Monday and Thursday. HD soccer game’s on Sat morning and the two older kids will also play on Saturdays in something called the CT Cup, which lasts until they lose. (Is it wrong to hope for a loss on week one? Asking for a friend.) Two more soccer games on Sunday and if the Nib makes the team, two baseball games as well. LO will start play practice soon and that schedule will change weekly. And then we have the occasional weekends that are consumed with tournaments and/or theater performances.

PHEW.

Quick PSA: Audiobooks. I like music and podcasts, but audio books have been the best discovery for the 8,491 hours I spend in the car all week.

#5. The Tournaments. There is more than one for every sport and just when you think you have your driving schedule and carpools in place, the tournament comes along and screws up your whole weekend. I posted this picture last year of what our calendar looked like during one soccer tournament weekend.

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Kids, I know this sounds like I’m complaining but I’m not, really. We love that you guys are busy and active, and we are VERY, VERY fortunate to have all of this stuff available to us. Although, I will admit to being happy that none of you want to play ice hockey because I’ve heard those bags are super smelly.

You keep running and dribbling and singing and catching and kicking and acting and scoring and swinging and I’ll just keep driving. And cheering. And yelling inappropriately from the sidelines. Even though you hate that.

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Love you,

Mom

PS. Full disclosure, I did take an after-school enrichment class on CALLIGRAPHY when I was in fourth grade. I just really felt like I should admit that.

You Wrote a Book??

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After I casually mentioned in my last blog post that I finished the book project I’ve been working on for a long time, I received many messages saying “Congratulations!” and/or “What?! You wrote a book??”

I so appreciate all the support I’ve received and as for the questions, here’s my attempt to answer all of them.

(If you are not at all interested in the hearing more about the book – and I certainly wouldn’t hold that against you – stop reading now and get back to the work/laundry/Netflix you were working on before you popped in here.)

What?!? You wrote a book?
Well, I like to refer to it as the “book project.” The end result is a 163-page, professional looking book called “It’s a Beautiful Life: Observations & Reflections of Thomas E. McInerney.” While I did write many of the original sentences, I took a lot of direct quotes from the interviews I conducted with my Dad and also invited twelve close friends and family members to contribute essays as well. It was a collaboration.

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“It’s A Beautiful Life” is a direct quote from my Dad during one of our interviews and seemed an appropriate title for the collection of these stories.

Why did you do it?
Because I wanted this book – or some version of it – to exist. I want my kids and my kids’ kids to benefit from my Dad’s wisdom for years to come. Despite my Dad’s best intentions and greatest wishes, he is still mortal. 😏 Documenting some of the stories of his life and more importantly, his sage advice about certain things, seemed like a smart and important thing to do.

How did this all begin?
On September 19th, 2014 (my Dad’s 73rd birthday) I invited him to lunch to discuss the possibility of us working on a project together – a book about his life.

As I explain in the opening pages of the book, I suggested that HE should write the book about his life but he told me that while he had considered it, other projects always took priority. Like his job. Or studying quantum physics for fun.

So, we decided to do it together.

You “conducted interviews” with your Dad? That sounds very formal.
Well, I call them “interviews” because the meetings involved my showing up to his office – once a month, for a year – with a recorder (or rather my phone with a recording app), my laptop, a topic for that month’s “interview” and a list of questions pertinent to that month’s topic. But there was no formality. (Aside from the fact that he was always wearing a suit.)

Sometimes I’d ask every question on my list and get straightforward answers. Other times, I would ask one question and my Dad would lean back in his office chair and spend the next hour reminiscing about playing baseball as a kid or his first job. In those case, I just shut up and took notes while he would amble down Memory Lane.

That sounds amazing!
It was… for both of us. During one of our later interviews, my Dad said to me, “Regardless of what happens with this project – whether the book gets written or not – these meetings have been so wonderful. To be encouraged to reminisce about parts of my life I haven’t thought about in so long has really been a gift.”

I felt the same way. I knew those meetings were the “easy part” and I enjoyed every minute of them. As is evidenced in the book, my Dad has a remarkable memory. He remembers facts and events of his childhood and early career days in astonishing detail (for example, he can quote his starting salary for every single job he’s ever had).

It was a great joy to listen to him tell the stories of his life. Our meetings were interesting, enlightening, poignant and fun.

I strongly recommend anyone contemplating such a project with a loved one to follow through. You will not regret it.

What’s NOT in the book?
(OK, full disclosure… nobody has asked me this question but I would like to answer it and it needed to fit into this Q&A format.)

This is not an objective biography of a public figure nor is it a sensational tell-all. This is a series of essays written by myself and others about someone we love. There are no salacious details. There is no shocking gossip. And if there are skeletons in my Dad’s closet – and obviously those would be very well-dressed, sports-jacketed skeletons – do not expect them to fall out of these pages.

In addition, there is no author in the world who could capture the intensity of which my Dad has valued his family relationships and friendships throughout his life. My one hesitation in (self-) publishing this book is that it does not do justice to the love and fondness my Dad feels about his family – especially his brothers – and the close friends he’s had throughout his life. Maybe he’ll write a Volume II to do that job. J

How long did the whole project take you?
From start to finish, three and a half years.

WHAT? That’s a long freakin’ time!
Yes. Yes, it is.

Like I said earlier, we conducted the interviews for about a year. Then I started “writing up my notes” in a way that I thought would magically turn into something brilliant and entertaining. It didn’t. I worked in that unproductive direction for about six months before I trashed everything and started over thinking in terms of a series of essays instead of a chronological snoozefest.

Once I had a vision for the book that I was happy with, I really started to focus on the writing of sentences. And guess what… WRITING SENTENCES IS HARD. Like, really hard. So much harder than I ever thought. That’s part of the reason the book is so short. I just couldn’t write any more sentences. I ran out. Plus, everyone was tired of waiting for the book; it needed to be done.

When can I read the book? / How can I buy the book? / Where can I get a copy?
These questions make me cringe a little bit because I didn’t write this book thinking people other than our immediate family members would want to read it and it feels awkward to “promote” it.

That said, if you have ever known my Dad, you may find the stories entertaining. Or if you simply want to benefit from the wisdom of a very smart man, then I won’t hesitate to recommend it because the book is chockfull of insight, written in an easily-digestible “Dad’s wisdom nuggets” format.

You can buy the book through the website I used to publish it, Book Baby (link below). They set the price based on how much I spent to create it (damn full-color photos!), so it’s pricier than I would have liked. But listen… USE THE COUPON CODE “MCINERNEY” TO GET 50% THE PRICE LISTED.

CLICK HERE IF YOU WANT TO PURCHASE A COPY!

Again, just in case you’re skimming… USE THE COUPON CODE “MCINERNEY” TO GET 50% THE PRICE LISTED. (You’ll still pay about $20.00 not including shipping but that’s better than the whopping $40 they want you to pay!)

Please know that 100% of the money made through sales of this book will be donated to one of my Dad’s favorite charities, St. John’s Bread and Life.

Is there anything else I should know?
Yes. The photo of me I used for the back cover flap was taken 15 years ago. Because I’m no fool.

That’s it! Again, THANK YOU for all of the support!!

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PS. One more thing… one of my regrets about the book is that I didn’t include an Acknowledgements page like a real author does. At the time, it seemed indulgent and pompous but now I wish I had so that I could have thanked the following people…

… Paula, Tom, Lori, Neil, Amy, Uncle Robert, Uncle John, Uncle Michael, Aunt San, Gene, Tony and Father Harrington for contributing essays. Every time I received one of their essays, I thought “Shit. This is so much better written/funnier/more interesting than what I’m writing. They should be writing the damn book.” No joke. I hated them all.

… my sister, Lori, who was the only person who knows Dad to read a version of this book before I printed it. Her insights and editing skills saved me a lot of embarrassment.

… my brother, Tom, who wrote the funny words for the back cover.

… Paula for digging up all the cool photos that appear in the middle of the book.

… my writing group and writing classmates – especially Liz, Robin, Galia and Shima – for their constructive criticism and valuable feedback.

… Marcelle, the writing coach I hired last summer to push me through the final stage of this project.

 

 

 

blowing the dust off this blog

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<sneezes from all the dust>

Hello everybody. Happy New Year!

I thought I’d do a quick post to say hello, I miss you, I miss writing for the blog, I hope you had a great holiday season, yada yada yada.

I most definitely am NOT going to say anything about how I have big goals to write more in 2018 or that I finished the other big writing project I’ve been working on for years (more details to come) so that should free up some writing time for this place. Nope, not going to say those things.

So, how are we feeling about the end of this year? 2017 was hard in so many ways. Personally, I watched more news than I ever have before and it was constantly depressing and often infuriating. I became addicted to Twitter for the very worst reasons. My eyes were opened to the ugliness in this country that may have always existed but is now being gently nudged out into the open and even encouraged by those in positions of power. Social media exposes all of it in the same way my awful bathroom magnifying mirror highlights my wrinkles and sun damage.

Everyday, another story, another potential melanoma.

But as is true 100% of the time, there is always a flip side. A bright side. And in my case, the bright side is a million times brighter than the dark and lives very close to home.

It’s my people. I have the most awesome kids and husband and siblings and nieces and nephews and parents and extended family and friends. And they’re, for the most part, happy and healthy.

That’s enough. Our people are enough. The balance to the ugly. They’re the bright side.

When I stepped away from Twitter, some really fun things happened with my people in 2017.

We performed…

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We traveled…
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We played…
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We celebrated…
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We Ninja posed…
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We got this guy and he’s proven to be an endless source of yes, some frustration but mostly entertainment (#ohoscar)…
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And for the first time in the history of EVER, I achieved my 2017 New Year’s Resolution, which was to finish the book I’ve been working on for three years. I WROTE A BOOK!
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It’s about my Dad and a lot of people contributed. Eventually, I’ll tell you more about it, but the most important thing to know about it now is that it’s DONE.

And through it all, we loved.
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So yeah, we can be mad at 2017 for a lot of things, but I’m going to try to stick with gratitude. Because that feels best.

I’m ready for you 2018. I resolve to find light in your dark days and appreciate the glow of the bright ones. I will deal with the ugly wrinkles by leaning on my people. I will continue to ask questions, make mistakes and if I’m being realistic and honest, spend too much time on social media. But I will also give thanks for each new day that allows me to do so.

Happy New Year, friends. May 2018 be kind to you and your people.

PS. Using this quote as my guide for 2018:

“For what it’s worth … it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules … We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you’ve never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start over again.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

An Even Dozen

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KJ and I are not big anniversary people. I have a little bit of a mental block about whether it falls on July 15th or 16th and the only way KJ can remember it is by removing his wedding ring and squinting at the date engraved on the inside.

We’re actually celebrating our 12th anniversary today by doing our favorite thing. Well, things. He’s playing golf and I’m staying home to write and read in the hammock. Happy Anniversary!

But we did have a date last night and get this – we went to the movie theater and SAW THE SAME MOVIE. That’s happened approximately five times over the course of our twelve-year marriage because we can rarely agree on which movie to see. KJ likes action, suspense, car chases and shooting. I like to laugh. So in the past twelve years, just about the only movies we could agree to see together were the first Jason Bourne movie and the entire Ocean’s Eleven franchise.

Oddly, we also saw that Julia Louis-Dreyfus/James Gandolfini movie, “Enough Said.” I’m sure the only reason KJ agreed to see that one was because he misunderstood “James Gandolfini” to mean “Tony Soprano” and when he realized it was essentially a romantic comedy, he spent the whole movie groaning and talking about poking his eyeballs out with his soda straw. That was fun!

Anyway, feeling nostalgic this morning, I started looking at our wedding album. So many happy memories, but really I had two main thoughts:

  1. DAMN it was hot in that church.
  2. THAT was a super fun party.

For those close friends who weren’t at my wedding, here are some pictures to help you feel like you were there.

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I loved designing the invitations; it was my second favorite part of wedding planning. But it’s possible I went a little overboard with the FOLDER and multiple inserts. (Please note, I designed that “forward/backward, interlocking Ks” symbol in 2005 – loooong before Kim Kardashian came up with her slightly more elaborate version in 2011… see below.)

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My hair looks better here than it did when it was finished.

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Maybe I should have someone apply makeup for me everyday?

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Trying to get myself and this big dress into the backseat of this car was the exact moment that I realized how hot New York City in July can be.

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I wish I had this conversation with my Dad on tape.

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DAMN that’s a long aisle.

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“Love, cherish, blah blah blah.” All KJ and I are thinking here is about how much we’re sweating.

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See those faces? Those are the faces of people who can’t focus on a wedding because of how hot they are.

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Kissing in front of a crowd is AWKWARD.

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This is such an odd traditional photo. “Look at us! We’re married… and in a car!” Also, this shot makes me question our photographer’s skills.

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What is so funny?? I’m dying to know.

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Why yes, I did have seating cards in an assortment of bright colors.

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These orange and hot pink tablecloths and flowers were the start of my love affair with those colors…  an affair that continues today.

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First dance. Those faces are saying, “How long is this song anyway? Please let it end.” We started signaling to the band to wrap it up about four seconds into “Have a Little Faith in Me.”

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These men all said nice things about us.

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Wedding planner: A candy bar? Really?  Me: You don’t know me at all. (By the way, choosing the candy for the candy bar was my first favorite part about planning the wedding.)

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Wedding planner: Really, a choc…         Me: Yes, a chocolate fountain, too.

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My Mom was with me the whole day.

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Do you think the photographer had some note that said, “Catch siblings laughing in the corner of pictures.” Because I have like six more like this. And I love them.

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Me: This was fun but we out. KJ: Imma take one small drink for the road.

Twelve years is a long time, but not really. Neither of us has changed all that much. KJ still loves beer and golf and drinking beer during golf and he still loves the Yankees and the Jets and drinking beer at Yankees and Jets games. I still like margaritas.

We still disagree on when to leave for the airport but thanks to a deal we made a couple of years into our marriage,* it’s no longer up for debate.

He still likes to save money and I still like to spend it.

He still eats foods in weird combinations and mixes everything together on his plate and I still cringe when he does it.

We both still like seeing live music but admittedly he’s way more motivated about it.

We’re still bringing our specific skill sets to the family table. He’s practical, reliable and active. I’m creative, organized and lazy (yes, that’s a skill… do you think just anyone can stay on the couch in pajamas all day as often as I do?)

He has more rules for the kids, but I definitely yell more. Depending on the day, either one of us could be “the fun one.”

Lastly, and maybe most importantly for today, we’re both fine with the fact that we don’t really make a big deal about anniversaries.

Still, Happy 12th KJ.

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*Shortly after we got married, I realized that our arguments about when to leave for dinners, parties, appointments and mostly, flights were going to eventually land us in a marriage counselor’s – if not divorce lawyer’s – office. (Of course, I would be 10-15 minutes early for that appointment and KJ would be an “acceptable” five minutes late.)

I proposed the following deal:

I get to pick the departure time for any event – meal, party, wedding, etc. – that has to do with my family and friends. He decides when we leave for his family’s and friends’ events. He also gets to choose our departure time for any “neutral” event – mutual friends, our own dinner dates, etc. WITH ONE EXCEPTION: flights. I always get to decide when we leave for the airport.

We still use this contract today.

 

 

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