Saturday, September 20, 2014

Cap and Gown

Way, way back in 1998, when I was hugely pregnant with Wyatt and the shopping center in our town looked vastly different (not unlike my hugely pregnant silhouette) I caught a glance at my reflection in the grocery store window.

I remember it was September, the beginning of my favorite time of year. Being the blissfully ignorant mother of one child, I was running errands with my little boy baby strapped to my side so I wouldn't lose him to the shiny lure of the packages of Hot Wheels which tempted him at every end cap. This was the way it was, me and him, him and me. We got up when we felt like it, we ate when we felt like it and we ran around town, just the two of us, two peas in a pod - never mind my swelling (and VERY round) belly that kicked and squirmed as if it had a mind of it's own.

Suddenly, upon noticing the reflection of a VERY pregnant woman holding a toddler above her VERY round belly, I realized that pregnant woman was me. ME.

I was only a few weeks away from delivering. Sure, I knew I was pregnant - how could I not? No, that wasn't just fatigue I felt during the week of our baby's first birthday, which subsequently happened during the week we closed escrow on our first house and I got my first speeding ticket since high school (it was a very big week), I was indeed pregnant. I took my pre-natal vitamins and made it to all of my appointments like a good mom-to-be. I got McRae a little doll to love on which I hoped would help prepare him for what was about to come out of my womb. He and I read stories about babies and talked about how big and "funny" my belly was. When I was exhausted, he would curl up in the spot behind my knees on the couch and pretend to nap while I fought my heavy eyelids. I never had to worry about where he was because he was always right there with me.

How did that happen? I thought as I stared at reflection of a lady who looked like she had one of those giant yoga balls you sit on in birthing class stuffed up her shirt.

Sure enough, a few weeks after my epiphany, a real baby showed up!

It may not have been that simple, but as I look back on Wyatt's birthday now, compared to the other 2, it was as simple as it was going to get for me in the childbirth department, pitocin and almost 10lb baby and all.

Anyway, that surprised feeling has returned and no, I'm not 8 months pregnant with a bowling ball - although that would be a surprise! Somehow, while I was busy doing laundry, driving kids to sports, picking up Polly Pockets, sweeping up dog hair and trying to stick to the menu of dinners hanging off the front of my refrigerator, my oldest son - that baby who used to nestle behind my knees and lay his head on my hip pretending to nap - grew up.


The other day, he brought home a packet from school. Not the kind of packet full of glossy pictures of wrapping paper and peanut butter filled penguins like the fundraising packet that Katie brought home which, by the way, drives me nuts, a GRADUATION packet. A catalog full of options for THE GRADUATE. Class rings, Class of 2015 t-shirts, caps and gowns and more graduation bling than you can shake your bank account at.

I feel like we've almost come full circle.

This man-boy-child who inducted me into the parenthood club is growing up.

Although the past few years have been filled with monumental firsts: - first job, first drivers license, first varsity letter in a sport, first "real" girlfriend, first (a'hem) fender bender, first time on a plane without parents, the fact that he'll be graduating in June doesn't seem real. We've done everything we know to help prepare him for adulthood - we've talked about colleges, careers, expectations and independence. We've tried to drive home the importance of being true to oneself and keeping all the doors open. He may not be able to cook anything more complicated than macaroni and cheese from the freezer, but golly, he will be prepared for life outside of our home.

He's done a lot in his 17 years of life so far and he's surprised me in many, many ways over the past year demonstrating his skill, drive, ability and determination to follow in the footsteps of his Dad and start a life in the Fire Service. I can hear that little boy now, running down the hall of our first home with a red plastic fire helmet cock-eyed on his head saying "BIG TRUCK WHOA," a favorite fire truck phrase that he liked to repeat and repeat and repeat in his little baby boy voice while waving his hands in the air.

When they tell you, and they will tell you, that it all goes by in the blink of an eye, believe it.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Big hair was in, evidenced by the massive amounts of Aquanet stuck to the bathroom counter where I got ready for school every morning.  I liked doing my hair in our main bathroom because you could see the back of your hair perfectly, unlike in my bedroom where 2 largish mirrors hung in a corner. They created a mesmerizing domino affect when I sat at the desk/vanity/homework/mix tape making area and gazed upon my recently braces-free self. This could be distracting, and make me very late for school. I'd see how many copies of myself it would take before the far off image in the mirror didn't reflect a single freckle on my face, which meant that I had applied enough Cover Girl to hide them. In turn, getting ready could take hours. 

Now I get ready in 30 minutes or less if it's a hat day.

This could be because I'm 40 now and have accepted every freckle on my face, even grown to love them just a little. Also, I don't have an industrial sized can of aerosol hairspray on my bathroom counter ready to tease and sculpt my hair into shapes not found in nature. I'm sure the lack of that process alone speeds up my getting ready ritual by tons. Besides, the new gray hairs that I'm sporting these days probably wouldn't mind anyway.

Or, this could be because I simply have more things to do than spend hours in front of the mirror, most of which revolve around these 3 humans I lovingly refer to as my children. 

Or, because once I get my children off to school I'd rather crawl back into bed to read with nobody asking me questions.

Hello darkness my old friend...

Anyway, big hair was in.

So were Swatch watches, acid wash jeans and anything Esprit. Esprit made a pair of pointed toe leather flats with a sling back. I had a pair in white AND in black. I can't remember loving a pair of shoes more than I loved those sling backs. They were the perfect shoe. Paired with leggings and an over-sized shirt and it was instant couture - suburb style, according to me.

I needed over-sized and interesting shirts to go with the leggings/sling backs ensemble and my closet held limited quantities of these. I'd blown my school clothes budget on a smaller amount of more expensive clothes instead of making my dollar stretch and getting more things, like mom told me to do. If only we had Old Navy back in the day...

I was almost as tall as my mom and although most of her wardrobe consisted of all things I considered "momish," she had a few pieces that I coveted. My favorite was a rayon (yes, RAYON!) black shirt with white polka dots. Classic. And, I could wear either the white or the black pair of sling backs with it. Perfect. I loved that shirt. I wore it for my school picture in the 11th grade. Funny, I don't remember my mom ever wearing that shirt - she must've bought it just so I could borrow it. 

Katie wore out her favorite pair of boots recently. They're the fuzzy/suede/floppy kind that seem to have been on store shelves for the last 3 years. I can't tell you, as a mother, how much I love these boots if only because I don't have to tie them. On boot days, we fly out the door. They are worn here, there, everywhere and especially come in handy on swimming nights when the last thing I want to do is hang out in the ladies locker room waiting for my 10 year-old to tie her shoes.

Boots are convenient.

So there we were, at the local sporting goods store where we'd purchased her previous pair of boots, in the ladies shoe section. LADIES, not kids, not girls, LADIES. her beloved boots were no longer available in the kids section but the same boot was available in a LADIES/WOMENS size 6, which was close to her kids size 4. 


Sure, she'd been prancing around in my never-worn heels and other "fancy" shoes over Christmas vacation, telling me that my shoes fit her now, but I paid no attention. Kids do those kinds of things all the time. Now we were leaving the store with a bona fide ADULT pair of boots for my 4th grader. There are 2 things that bother me about this.

1. the price



It's the same boot. 

Anyway, my daughter was happy. Her feet would again be cozy and dry on non-P.E. days at school and we could fly out the door quickly, just like before. No more waiting around the crowded locker room while she wrestled her wet feet into shoes and then hemmed and hawed about tying them. And the price, not such a bad thing when the very next day I received my quarterly "bonus" from said sporting goods store and it was a pretty nice chunk of change. In other words, I could buy myself some cute new socks for free (sorta).

Socks are always in high demand around here. My husband's entire day can be dependent on whether or not his favorite socks are clean, folded and in his sock drawer. His demeanor is determined by how many pairs of socks are there, hibernating among the boxer briefs, waiting for his bare feet. When the boys run out of socks (because their laundry hampers are maxed out and the air in their rooms becomes toxic), they head for Dad's sock drawer. And then he runs out of socks.  You can see where this is an all out sock-laundry-fest in which I put on my hazmat suit (and gloves) to brave the hampers that live in my teenage boys rooms. If I'm not on my 2nd bottle glass of wine after spending the day locating, washing, matching and distributing socks, something is most definitely amiss.

She must have been taking notes this entire time. Observing the sacred sock ritual that takes place between the males of our house as they rotate socks.  As if on cue, the day she turned 10 she started asking if she could borrow my socks.  I was flattered.  It was touching.  My socks are cool enough for her to want to borrow and wow, our feet are close enough to the same size that this can actually happen?  Okay!  Sure, borrow away.  Nobody has ever wanted to borrow my socks before. 

Turns out, my socks are as cool as my mom's black rayon shirt with the white polka dots was in 1989.

Suddenly, I have no socks.  I reach in among the bras and baby teeth (I have got to find a better place to keep those, why am I keeping those? Gross.) to find some fun socks to wear and...nada. Zero. Zip. Zilch.  My socks are now living in my daughter's hamper, or on her floor, or under her bed, or perhaps in a backpack or the box that her Rainbow Loom came in. 

Is nothing sacred?

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

She (Updated)

I know I don't write here as much as I used to. As much as I should. But I sure am happy that there are years of posts to look back upon, remember and share again.  

Like this one.

Today, SHE is ten years old. TEN YEARS OLD. She's replaced the whistling with playing her recorder. "Recorder Karate" her music teacher calls it.  I wonder if I'll ever miss that sound?


After many, many years of trying she had finally learned how to whistle properly.

I can't even type the word properly without smiling because really, is there a proper way to whistle? I suppose so. And I would suppose the notes escaping my daughters pursed lips don't resemble anything even remotely close to proper whistling - but that matters not.

When she began this newly acquired trick a few months ago, she was so so proud.

"Check it out mom, I'm whistling!" She would shout while running past me in the kitchen. Up until then, all whistling was done by inhalation only, so I suppose the magic of finally doing it while exhaling was quite exhilarating for her.

A few hours later, still whistling.

The next day, still whistling.

A week later, still whistling.

My husband and I exchanged many a glance, widening our eyes and chuckling just a teeny tiny bit (quietly so nobody could hear us) and we wondered if it would ever stop.

Of course, there was no whistling allowed at the dinner table.

And no whistling past bedtime.

No whistling in school and no whistling during homework.

But other than that, the air in our home (and outside of it for that matter) was filled with the sounds of a whistling 2nd grader. Whistling while she played with her paper dolls. Whistling while she brushed her teeth (she's a talented one, that she is). Whistling while drawing. Whistling while Wii-ing (that's a verb, right). Whistling. Whistling. Whistling.

So much so that I became rather immune to it.

And then I didn't realize that the whistling had actually become a little bit less, until it did.

A few hours ago she grabbed a brightly colored glass from the dishwasher as her older brother was emptying it. She held it up in front of her left eye and peered at me through it's purple-hued bottom, grinning. I thought she was going to laugh. Instead, she whistled.

And I remembered that I kind of missed that sound.

Whistling, in the car

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Delivery Man - Super Special Sneak Peek

Have you ever looked up the definition of FAMILY?

I haven't ever needed to.  Yes, I've been on this planet functioning as a productive member of society without needing to define FAMILY.

To me, family has always meant:  the people that I love.  Yes, we are (most of us) tied together by strands of DNA, but that's not what makes us family and it's definitely not a requirement.  My biological Aunt's husband is no less my Uncle than my biological Uncle - he just happens to have avoided "the family nose," which in today's world, he could have changed if he wanted to.  Come to think of it, neither of my Uncles possess this genetic trait.

My family is small - 1 matriarch (my grandmother), her 3 children and their spouses, 3 children in the next generation (my cousin, myself and my brother) and their spouses (my husband), and 3 children in the current generation (my kids).  And I'll just say this right now, there better not be another generation popping up anytime soon, I'm NOT ready to be a grandmother!

But these people whom I love, love, love aren't the only people I call "family."  They are just the tip of an enormous iceberg. One I'm fortunate to have floating calmly in my ocean, not shrinking but growing and adding to it's bulk with each passing year.

So why all this talk about family?

Vince Vaughn, that's why.

[Bet you didn't see that one coming]

I mean, just look at him.  Who wouldn't want this man in their family?

If you're reading this, you will be one of the first people in the world (the world!) to see the OFFICIAL trailer for the movie DELIVERY MAN, starring (duh) Vince Vaughn and Chris Pratt, whom I really don't know (but I DO know his sister Angie) but everyone in our hometown claims some sort of elite connection to him because they can, having gone to the same high school and all.  While I understand the pride that we feel as a community for having fostered the youth of such a funny and talented guy, I'm not claiming any special relationship with him.

Unless I'm trying to impress my kids.  Then I TOTALLY use him.

"Remember that lady I talked to at the grocery store today?" They look at me like, yeah so...

"THAT was Chris Pratt's sister!"

"So you, like, know him?" They implore.

"You could say that."

Notice I said could, completely relinquishing myself of any actual untruth that may be inferred by that statement.


I got a look at the trailer a few days ago and I'm really looking forward to this movie.  The basic premise is that Vince Vaughn plays a guy approaching that age in life where one sometimes ponders their purpose on this earth.  He gets some surprise news that he's fathered 533 children (due to his generous gifts to the fertility clinic) and now he must decide what to do with that information.

This is the part where I roll the trailer (just imagine the curtain going up and the lights going down).

I hope November comes quickly.  You can bet I'll be seeing this one, with my FAMILY.  Which, as I've mentioned above, could be anyone.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Usually I'm really good at following directions, but the etiquette for attending movie screenings as a member of the "press" always confuses me.  Do I wait in the big ol line (with people who got free screening passes for whatever reason) or do I go in?  I'm on "the list," I should probably just go in. When my invitation says "check in with the PR rep in the lobby" what does that mean, exactly?  Is blogging really considered "press" and if so, what are the philosophical consequences I have to consider before writing?  I only took one journalism class in college.  Yes, I got an A, but an A in one journalism class in college does not a member of the press make.  Are these other people famous?  Will I see a celebrity movie reviewer?  OMG.  Is E! going to be here?  Will there be a red carpet?

Just stop thinking, Carrie.

Here's the thing about sharing - it does have it's perks.  I figure since I've written about my kids online since 2005, the least I can do in return is take them along to movie screenings.  So when the invite to the Monsters University screening popped up in my inbox, it was a no-brainer.

We've loved Monsters Inc in our home for a long time and it would be highly unusual for me to watch it without turning into a puddle of tears at the end.  It's like the Terms of Endearment of kiddie movies as far as the cry factor is concerned.

The boys were busy with baseball and work (yes, the oldest is old enough to WORK - like a real job and everything) but Katie and Lila were more than happy to go along with me.

I promised Lila that unlike the last time she went to a movie screening with her Aunt Carrie, we would not have to sit IN THE FRONT row because now I knew how these things operated...kind of.  And what do you know?  We blazed past the people waiting and found our "press" seats.  And, um, they weren't in the front row.

Monsters University was the ultimate buddy movie - and taking these two little buddies was perfect.  We got the back story on Mike and Sully's friendship and lots of insight into how they became "Top Scarers."  The movie handled the life lessons we all could benefit from learning (doing the right thing, honesty, loyalty, hard work and determination) in such a fun way with adorably lovable scary monsters.

Lila and Katie - RAWR - 2013

I'm sure there were tons of details that I missed, being that I was so caught up in the 3D-ness of the whole thing (and I really don't think it's necessary to see this in 3D unless you're a die hard 3D fan and don't mind wearing those uncomfortable glasses for 2 hours) but I'm fairly confident that this title will end up in our family movie library eventually.  So I'll have plenty of time to notice all of the little things which Disney is so good at inserting here and there in their films.

Lila and Katie - BEACH BABIES - 2006

Mike and Sully, Katie and's a no-brainer.