The Family Photo

The air is getting crisp, those weird cinnamon brooms are in Trader Joe’s again, which can only mean one thing: that time of year is fast approaching……………

Time for the family photo.

Every year I force everyone to sit down and take one “nice” family picture. My husband calls it The Day of Tears. More than once the person in tears has been me.

This is not something I do to satisfy my masochistic tendencies (which, let’s be honest, I have).

It’s because way back in the day, the first year that we were married and living in Kentucky, I thought it would be nice to send a card to everyone back home letting them know that we were surviving marriage and…well…Kentucky.

So I started going through pictures from the year and found exactly zero–ZERO–of just the two of us looking normal. So I made us sit down, put the camera on timer, and take a picture of us and the dog.

Look how CALM everything is! How the lighting is just right. Sigh.

And there it was. The birth of the Day of Tears.

Yes it feels like a lot of effort for something so cheesy, but I know that when we get old(er) we will enjoy having a picture of all of us together each year. And so I power on.

I set a few ground rules:

1. We take the picture ourselves (I refuse to pay someone to watch my family melt down)
2. Everyone in the family has to be included
3. You have to be able to see everyone’s face
4. >=50% of us have to look happy.

Over the years things have become progressively more complicated.

Seating got a little tighter.

Then emotions got involved.

There ARE years where everyone appears relatively happy (or at least not hysterical) and is looking at the camera.

Those are special years.

As the years progressed wardrobe warfare has added an additional psychological element to the process.

And our bench is gradually beginning to collapse.

But I power on.

There are people who have accused me of staging our photos, or that we intentionally find a picture where one kid looks pissed.

To those people I say: you clearly have never seen the outtakes.

I also just realized that Eddie wore the same shirt two years in a row.

And yet she persisted.

Holiday Card

I kept observing him, thinking to what a degree this life of ours is truly so extraordinary and mysterious, how people join and separate like autumn leaves chased by a windy downpour, how we labor in vain to enable our glance to cling to the face, body, and gestures of the people we love, whereas in a few years we fail to remember any longer even whether their eyes were blue or black.
~Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek

It’s that time of year again!  The below was my original choice for our annual holiday card.


It got vetoed because you can’t see the dog, Paul appears to have lost muscle function in part of his face, our first child looks like she needs to be exorcised, and our second child is not looking at the camera.  Bummer.

I love sending out holiday cards.  I love getting them.

Every year as I make the list of who to send them to, by stage of life: Childhood.  College.  Grad school.  This city.  That job.

I’ve always been a little bit sentimental about how transient relationships can be.  It’s bittersweet that someone who seems so crucial in your life can fade to a hazy memory.

Social media has changed this, in ways both good and bad.  Those people no longer disappear into a vortex.  You know where they live, what they’re doing, how they look.  You no longer have to remember their eye color, just go check their most recent selfie.

But social media platforms can also alter the context of your relationship.  I don’t need in-depth knowledge of my ex-roommate’s beliefs on circumcision or whether an old teammate thinks I should change my skin care routine.  Because I haven’t seen either of them in years, and sometimes all that matters is that I still smile remembering the time they made me laugh so hard I threw up.  Regardless of their feelings on Harambe.

So I like the cards.  A quick snapshot of the present without additional, unsolicited commentary.  I like to make the list, think of all those people without being prompted by my Facebook feed.  It is nice to see how much has changed and not changed over the years, to look up at my actual wall, see all the people I love, and be reminded of just how fortunate I have been.


(For the record, that is only a portion of the cards we have waiting to be hung.  We are more popular than that.  I swear.)

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year


The past few weeks have been wonderful and ugly.  In my little bubble things have been pretty smooth and happy, while so much of the rest of the world has not.  Cue a lot of emotional confusion.  Gratitude and guilt.  Joy and horror.  Hope and helplessness. The dissonance is awkward and uncomfortable.

Things felt weird.  I wasn’t sure how to start up a dumb blog again.

And then last night our close friend invited us to dinner at a a beautiful country club where carolers dressed in A Christmas Carol garb wandered around from table to table singing.

c313c63f2e92cd1af7d8689534cb360cgeorge c. scott’s a christmas carol

It was such a treat.  The food was amazing, the kids were dazzled.  We basked in the holiday cheer.  Both kids fell asleep in the car on the way home and we tucked them into bed with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads.

Then 4am HH woke up yelling that her tummy hurt.  On the way to the toilet she threw up all over the bathroom floor.

This wasn’t my first rodeo.  I sprinted out of the bathroom to find a hair elastic.  On the way back in I saw her basically submerge her head — long, luscious hair first — into the toilet bowl as she was retching.  And in that moment of panic I didn’t watch where I was going, stepped in the puddle of puke on the floor, slipped, and pulled a groin muscle.

So why don’t we start there.


IMG_1002 (1)

I don’t do crafts.  But a few weeks before Christmas I decided I was going to.   Because that’s what good parents do during the holidays.  Paul was working nights, so I was flying solo on this.

Wednesday: On a trip to Target (duh) I decide baking cookies will be the perfect thing to get in the holiday spirit.  I like baking, and I’m good at it.  Sometimes.

Friday: After two days of the ingredients sitting on the counter, I decide to skip including my two year old in the dough-making process.  It’s not like this is a life skill she HAS to learn.  I make the dough on my own so it’s ready when she gets home from preschool.  She comes home from school in meltdown mode.  I make the executive decision to delay cookie making.

Monday: 3/4 of the dough still sitting in fridge.  The other 1/4 I ate over the weekend.

Wednesday:  A week later.  This is the day we will bake! HH has been having night terrors and sleep-walking when she goes to bed after 7:15 (fun), so we rush through dinner and have just enough time to get the dough out, roll it, cookie cutter some shapes (which she is way less into than I thought she would be), and throw them in the oven.  No time to decorate.  No time to admire the finished product.  I put the cookies in a tupperware after she goes to bed, keep frosting ingredients in the fridge.

Friday: Half of the cookies are gone because I ate them.  Sans-frosting.

Sunday: Facetime with Nana and Opa.  When I suggest HH show them the cookies she baked, she accidentally breaks an arm off of a star of Bethlehem.  I tell her it’s OK to eat it.  She looks at me confused, then suddenly the realization creeps across her face…these are edible! And not only can she eat the piece that broke off, she can eat the whole cookie.  And she does so.  From then on, every time she walks into the kitchen: “Cookie?”

Monday: Now that there are only 5 week-old cookies left in the tupperware, time to decorate!  I get out all the decorating icings and frostings.  HH smears green frosting on half of one cookie and goes, “I eat it now.”  I explain that no, decorating cookies is SO FUN, we can eat them when they’re decorated, and don’t gingerbread men look better with a face? and they taste better with frosting anyway.  “NO!  NO FROSTING!!  I EAT THE COOKIES NOW!”

So I take them away.  Tears.  Screams. Faux seizures. Drama.

The cream cheese I got to make special frosting is still sitting in the fridge.

Holiday crafts are the best.

Back for the Holidays

…and we’re back, by popular demand.

The past few months have been this:


HH: Ariel’s eyes are BLUE!
Me: They are! What color are Mom’s eyes?
HH: Uuuuh…red!!
Me: Red?!??!  No…
HH: Oh…umm…pink?

I’ve also been spending an offensive amount of time in Target shopping for Desitin.

For these reasons, not only has putting a sentence together become a serious struggle, I have I felt as though I am lacking decent content (as opposed to before, when this forum only covered important, pressing issues).

But due to an aggressive campaign by this blog’s devoted followers (my sister) and their insistence that my content is NEVER boring, THAT ENDS TODAY!

So today we’ll be talking about…my most recent trip to Target.


Now that it’s officially hat weather (56 degrees at 4:45am), it’s time to talk about the holidays.

For the past 32 years a nutcracker named Mr. Teeth has adorned the hearth at my parent’s house during the holidays.  Back in Mr. Teeth’s day, he probably looked like every other nutcracker:


Today, Mr. Teeth has no feet, no hair, one eye, and if you touch him the wrong way his arms fall off.  We love him all the same.

So imagine my delight when yesterday at Target, while in search of frozen peas, I came across a huge display of nutcrackers.


(This is Target’s MO…you go looking for peas and somehow end up in the nutcracker aisle.  It’s incredibly effective.)

Nutcrackers of all different shapes and colors and species and genders and professions.  So I decided to let HH pick out her own Mr. Teeth.

In addition to a girl nutcracker wearing a “beautiful dress” that resembles Elsa (go figure) but has a lever that opens up a hole in her chest à la Alien as opposed to her mouth, guess which one she chose:


Mr. Pink Sparkle 2015 Nutcracker, complete with beard, staff, and soldier’s helmet. Breaking down gender norms, one Christmas decoration at a time.

This guy will have a home on our hearth for many years to come.


IMG_20141205_091011the culver hotel

I grew up thinking mistletoe was moose poop. I think that’s because our father told us that it was. And for some reason it is very hard for me to shake that as fact.  Every year I look it up to make sure that it’s a plant (just did it).  I have no idea why he did that, other than he didn’t want us to eat it?

I know a lot of people hate the holidays.  I love them.  I love the festivities.  I like the music.  I like that the streets and bars are littered with people all dressed up, going to and coming from parties.  I like the lights.  The feeling in the air makes everything, even the shooting of a toilet paper commercial when Molly and I were at the Culver Hotel bar, where the British girl cast as the main role (seller?) repeated “For a fresher clean, try Cottonelle’s Fresh and Clean pack”and detailed the benefits of flushable cleansing cloths about 346 times, feel exciting and kind of glamorous.


Plus the crew bought our drinks, since we weren’t allowed to talk while they were shooting.

Since Paul is working Christmas eve & day, we will be sticking around this year.  On our evening put-the-baby-to-sleep walk two nights ago we walked by the tree “farm” in the parking lot at the end of our street and decided to drop a hot $20 and get one.  Which meant Paul got to carry it the quarter mile home.


Fortunately it’s only about 2 feet tall and Paul is buff.  It may not be the Kentucky office, but my work station just got a little more festive.


Happy holidays.

Update: Turns out one year we had some Mooseltoe in our house from Maine.  That actually was moose poop.