Saturday, December 28, 2013


Some families go to the zoo to peacefully convene with wildlife.

Our family goes to add vocals to the wolverine fight, and pummel each other with snowballs.

All's fair in love and snow.

We may or may not have hit some passerbys in the process.

Little sisters are always fair game to use as an emergency shield.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

many faces of rico

After 40 years of a furry face (FORTY freaking years people), Rico finally decided to shave his beard and mustache.

One would think that after four decades of basically wearing a whisker mask, that he would appreciate the feeling of cool air on his bare skin, kisses on his cheeks, the fact that there aren't spare bits of salsa imbedded in his beard after dinner at Chipotle - but noooooooo, he immediately had shavers remorse.

In my attempt to help (because that is just the kind of wife I am), I offered to pencil in a few ideas with eyeliner.  Here is what we came up with - let us know if you have a favorite.

merry little christmas

Me, in my new hat from Kooka, thinking about how Christmas day will feel.
While Facebook was teeming with photos of everyone's perfectly coiffed kids making gingerbread houses, or Christmas jammie videos, or whatever it is they do on the 24th of December, for the first time in forever, I have been dreading Christmas Day.

There are several reasons for this:

1) Two of my kids leave on Christmas day. Their dad scoops them up (as he should) and takes them over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house (and yes, she does actually live over the river - Mississippi to be exact -and through various woods inhabited by many a timber rattler - you can see all three from her kitchen window).

2) My dad loved Christmas - more than anyone I've ever met. Knowing that he's missing out on this one - or rather, that we are missing out on him, is much harder than I thought it would be.

3) My brother moved to Florida. And while FaceTime opening Christmas gifts sounds all cool and Apple-commercial-ish, it's not the same - it's just not.

4) The past four Christmas Days have ended up with me crying over dinner in a Chinese restaurant, with Yoda poking at some unidentifiable flavored jello and Rico rubbing my arm between bites of cold lo-mein, saying. "It's OK, this is what we jews do every Christmas day."

5) Yoda sitting here, sibling-less, grandparent-less, cousin-less with two exhausted, mildly depressed parents, who can't even figure out what to make for lunch.


Gram beating Rico at Chinese Checkers.
So instead we go gangbusters on Christmas Eve. A trip to Gram's house in Wisconsin, spirited games of Chinese Checkers and Hungry Hippos, a visit to Uncle Ken's where Yoda gets to say hi to her cousin Josh and his dad "Doughnut Head", candlelight service at Church, appetizer dinner at home, presents, cookies for Santa, oats for the reindeer.

It's quite a wonderful day - and I am grateful for it. And that is all I have to say about that right now.

Hungry Hippos at Grams House

Christmas Morning Princess vs Villain battle

Thursday, December 19, 2013

the beginning of the end

I always wondered how this would go down.  

Being a mom is all I ever wanted out of life. Other kids dreamed of being doctors, pilots, firefighters, and while I grew into aspirations of my own (foreign diplomat, talent agent, prizewinning writer - hey two outta three ain't bad), it was always with one caveat. 


I remember my own mom asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up. My answer was quick and emphatic, "a mommy."  

"Yes," she said, "and what else?"

What else?! What else could there be? It was everything I could dream of to hang homemade stockings by the fireplace each Christmas, give baths with strawberry shampoo, toast perfect grilled cheese sandwiches every Sunday after church, read princess stories, and and snuggle somebody I loved each night before bed. There was nothing more glamorous, more glorious, more fun, more anything than being a mommy.


Which is what I told her, and what she wrote on my Kindergarten vocational aspirations: "Just a plain old ordinary mommy."

When Punk was born, then Kooka, then Yoda, my life was finally how it was supposed to be.

And just now, I am getting glimpses of how it will end.

Punk has a girlfriend. 

The extent of a 9th grader dating (at least in our house) consists mostly of sitting next to each other at lunch, texting lines from your favorite Disney flicks back and forth and sitting next to each other at a g-rated movie - still, even with this, I am beginning to understand how it feels to have your child move on.

There is the race to be excused from the dinner table so he can call her back. There was giving up family movie night to sit by himself in the school auditorium to watch her play viola in the orchestra's Christmas concert. There is asking for advice on how to make a good impression on somebody's parents. (My advice: be yourself - your best self, but yourself. Parents can smell insincere asshole a mile away). The same kid who wouldn't loan his starving sister a dollar for bowl of gruel, is spending his allowance on a gift that his gf would, "absolutely love."

This is how it feels to know that someday we will not be his family, to know that someday, we will not be who he comes home to, who he shares his secrets with, who knows more about him than anyone else. That will not be me.

It sucks. And it is ripping my heart out little by little.

But for as heartbreaking as it is, I am astounded, thrilled, at the kind of young man he is to this girl (at least for the moment - this is 9th grade after all). He would rather have her here to visit, but he knows that it is his responsibility to make her parents comfortable with who he is, so he is manning up over winter break to meet her parents and four older brothers. He's admonished her ex for making inappropriate comments. He is the kind of boy that I hope his two sisters bring home when they are in high school.

So while my heart is breaking just a little more each day, it is also full of joy for the kind of life he is aiming for, the kind of relationships I hope he will cultivate. So far he is quite a catch.


In some ways it is like raising Punk all over again.

She wakes up in the morning and she is not herself.
Never - not ever.
And heaven forbid we should call her by her given name.

"I am Mulan today."
"I am being Belle."
"I am Princess Anna, and you will be Princess Elsa."
"Where is the prince?"

Lately she has been obsessed with the new Disney movie "Frozen."  She spends her days beckoning our seven pound mutt -  referring to him by his Arctic-reindeer name, "Sven".  We shovel snow for fun, drink cocoa and braid her hair into two french braids in a vain attempt to make my Greek baby look as Nordic as possible. She can often be found laying motionless in the middle of the living room, feigning death until someone brings her back with "a kiss of true love."  Doesn't matter whose kiss really - mine, the prince's, Sven the poodle's - whatever.

When Punk was three we couldn't even go to the grocery store without a fist-full of straw in his pants so everyone knew he was the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz.

I thought he was one-of-a-kind.

At least this time I'm only picking up dropped tiaras, and re-braiding hair.  Calling around for fresh straw in the middle of December was tougher than it sounds.