A Little More Time

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See this little boy? He drove me to the store today. No, we didn’t take the Wiggles car. We took a real car, because this boy is not so little anymore.

I kept glancing over at his lanky 15-year-old frame sitting behind the wheel, and wondering how we got here, he and I, to this stage of life, so quickly.

And as we drove I realized that as much as I complain about shuttling my kids all over the place, I will miss this time together, in the car.

The car where my son drove me crazy when he was 3 and obsessed with the Aladdin soundtrack, incessantly singing “One Jump Ahead” over and over until he got it right.

Where, as a grade-schooler, he would pepper me with questions about anything and everything as we drove to and from school.

Where, as a tween, he would introduce me to new music he had found, and complain about the injustices of middle school.

And though I listened, I secretly wished for peace and quiet on my drive. Where I didn’t have to answer a million questions. Where kids weren’t fighting in the backseat, or complaining when, God forbid, I put on an 80’s song.

But suddenly, with my second child now on the brink of independence, the days of peace and quiet in the car are rapidly approaching.

And so now I find my wish has changed. I wish that I could have just a little more time. Time with those little voices singing Disney music, time with knowing exactly where they are at every moment, because they needed me to get them there and to pick them up.

Time with the boy in the Wiggles car.

But, as we all know, there is no turning back time. And so I’ll try my best to be grateful for the present, rather than longing for the past or wishing for the future.

Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned from my years of parenting, it’s that the present is actually the very best place to be.

“Learn to appreciate what you have, before time makes you appreciate what you had.” – Unknown

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Dear Holiday Shoppers…

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Dear Holiday Shoppers,

Seriously? How could you? Honestly, I have never been so disappointed in a collective group of people in my life. My faith in humanity may never be the same.

My day started out to be an epic one. I received a random $62.50 refund in the mail from my dentist for an over-payment due to an insurance error. Getting money from my dentist felt like winning the freaking lottery. Another win? I didn’t receive an invitation to anything…no holiday gift exchanges, no school volunteer sign-ups, no awkward ugly sweater soireés. As if that weren’t enough, my husband was home with our children and I had four (FOUR!) blissful hours of kid-free Christmas shopping ahead of me.

I headed to the mall and started out at my favorite place, the bookstore. The bookstore is always my first stop for two reasons. One, I am a life-long book lover. And two, I have somehow been biologically programmed with the need to, shall we say, “use the facilities” within minutes of stepping foot in any given bookstore.  Which, let me tell you, really puts a bit of a spring in my step for the rest of the afternoon.

Now, when something occurs like what happened as I left the bookstore, you assume that people will say something. You believe that people will say something. You can’t imagine that people will just ignore it. But ignore it you all did. And so I continued on, unaware of the trail of destruction in my wake.

From the bookstore, I headed to the young, hip, clothing shop for my daughter. And ok, maybe I get why YOU guys didn’t say anything. I mean, you’re all basically in high school and you probably didn’t look up from your phones long enough to notice me. And even if you had, the awkwardness of the situation would have been too much for your teenage brains to process.  So if I was going to forgive anyone, I guess it would be you guys.

Next, I headed to the kiosk selling personalized items. And Mr. Personalization, I spoke with you directly. We had a five-minute, friendly, conversation. You seemed like a nice man. The kind of person who would help out a stranger. I even told you my children’s names. I mean, it was for the personalizing and all, but still. You should have told me. You should not have let me walk away like that.

I moved on to the bath and body store. A store full of women, of fellow moms, for God’s sake.  I am perhaps most disappointed in you. The lines were so long. I waited and waited and how many of you were behind me? Twenty? Thirty? But none of you approached me, not one. It would only have taken a small gesture on your part to save me any further shame.

And so I continued on my way, clueless, through the packed mall, on my glorious four-hour kid-free Christmas shopping spree. And when I was done, I loaded my shiny bags into my car and drove home, never the wiser.

I walked in the door to my house and my husband came over to greet me.

“Hey J…” Suddenly, he stopped and stared.

“Oh. My. God.” he whispered, his eyes wide. “NO! You didn’t! All through the mall? Oh my God.”

And now, dear mall shoppers, let me give you a little piece of friendly advice. When someone has spinach in their teeth, it is good manners to discreetly tell them. When someone’s pants zipper is down, they would appreciate you letting them know.

And when someone is walking around a crowded mall in December WITH A TWO FOOT TRAIN OF USED TOILET PAPER HANGING OUT OF THEIR ASS, you should definitely, absolutely, unconditionally, f***ing tell them, OK??

Second only to my amazement of not a single person alerting me to this horror, is the fact that there is a brand of toilet paper out there so incredibly strong that it can handle intense mall crowds as well as getting into, driving, and getting out of a vehicle without so much as a tear. Damn bookstore and their fancy triple-ply paper.

And that is why, dear people, you will not find me Christmas shopping at the mall again anytime soon. No, I will be shopping online, in the comfort of my home, with no risk of public humiliation in sight.

And with that, I bid Happy Holidays to all and to all a good night.

Top 10 Television Characters To Be Stranded With On A Deserted Island

For some reason, this is what I was thinking about when I fell asleep last night. Not about the million things I need to get done this weekend. Not about the orthodontist appointment I forgot to book for my son. Nope, I was quite seriously mulling over which television characters would be the best to be stranded with on a deserted island.

First and foremost, I would have to have one of the gang from “Friends”. Simply because they are the people I know the best, the voices I fall asleep to most nights. Now, I’m not claiming I know them as well as my sister does, a.k.a. the “2nd Place Friends Trivia Champion Of The Tri-State Area”, but still, we go way back.

But which one? Joey? Lovable, but not the sharpest tool in the shed. Phoebe? I wouldn’t be able to handle hearing “Smelly Cat” over and over. Ross? Too whiny. Rachel? Not tough enough for island life. Chandler? Funny, but could he BE any more neurotic? So that means my first pick has to be:

1.  Monica from Friends

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I’m choosing Monica because Monica is a taskmaster and she gets shit done. Plus, she’s a chef and would be able to create more coconut inspired meals than anybody else. She’s a clean freak so our huts would all be super tidy.
Monica: “Don’t tell me what to do. I tell you what to do.”

2. William from This Is Us

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I figure every deserted island needs an older, wise person. William is a poet and a musician, so he would bring some culture to my island. His monologues are epic. I mean, it got to the point where he would just appear on the screen every Tuesday night, having not said a word, and I would start to cry in anticipation of some emotional speech. Really, my kids make fun of me all the time over this.
William: “Catch the moments of your life. Catch them while you’re young and quick, because sooner than you know it, you’ll be old and slow and there will be no more of them to catch.”

3. MacGyver from MacGyver

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Honestly, this show was more my brother’s jam than mine in the 80’s. I don’t even know if I’ve ever seen an episode, though I do take the liberty of saying, “Look, I MacGyvered it!” on the rare occasion I put a creative fix on something. But from what I know, he’s a handy guy to have around.  I mean, you never know when you might need someone to make a bazooka out of a muffler, a gear shift knob, seat cushion stuffing and a cigarette lighter. True story.
MacGyver: “If I had some duct tape, I could fix that.” 

4. Dr. Jack Shepherd from Lost

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Now, I knew I’d need a doctor on my island and this was a tough one…so many to choose from. Do I go with straight up brilliant and choose Gregory House from “House” who could diagnose mysterious island illnesses? But the guy is such an ass. Or choose a doctor who’s easy on the eyes like McDreamy from Grey’s Anatomy? Doogie? Too young. Nah..I had to go with Jack. He’s got it all…young, smart, good looking. Plus, bonus points for having a ton of experience with deserted islands.
Jack: “If we can’t live together, we’re gonna die alone.”

5. Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper

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Now, I realize that she is a real person, not a television character. But I figure if we’re all stuck living on a deserted island, we might as well have the only “farmhouse chic” huts in all the world. Imagine…every hut with great curb appeal, shiplap, porch swings, cozy fireplaces, subway tile, oversized clocks, vintage maps. All painted the perfect shades of white and gray. Sigh.
Joanna: “My passion is to help people create beautiful and meaningful spaces in their home or hut.”  Ok, ok, she didn’t really say the hut part.

6 & 7. Jack McFarland and Karen Walker from Will and Grace

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I’m going to need some entertainment on my island and there’s no one that makes me laugh harder than these two. I couldn’t choose between them so I’m taking them both. Who can forget Karen coaching Jack to victory in the Gay Spelling Bee, a.k.a. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Spell”?
(Karen, to Jack): “No one in the world would believe you’re straight. You’re as gay as a clutch purse on Tony night. You fell outta the gay tree, hitting every gay branch on the way down. And ya landed on a gay guy… and ya did ’em. No, no, honey, your gayness can be seen from space.”

Karen: “God didn’t give me the ability to play the piano, or paint a picture, or have compassion. But he did give me the ability to crack a walnut with my hoo-ha.” (Which could come in handy on the island).

Jack: “There’s no shame in getting old.  There’s only shame in getting ugly.”

8. Sue Heck from The Middle

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Sue may not seem like an obvious choice for this list but I would imagine being stranded on an island could get a bit discouraging. And in the face of adversity, there is no one more encouraging than Sue Heck. The fact that she gets overlooked and knocked down time after time is no match for her undying optimism. Sue would be everyone’s cheerleader.
Sue: “Embarrassment is an important part of sports. My coach told me that.”

9 & 10. Jack Donaghy and Liz Lemon from 30 Rock

30 Rock's Alec Baldwin and Liz Lemon
Honestly, I chose these two solely because maybe being stranded on an island would be what it would take for them to finally end up together.  Bonus if they had a child together…the most important question being “would the baby be a Republican or a Democrat?”

Liz: “Why are you wearing a tux?”
Jack: “It’s after 6:00. What am I, a farmer?”

Jack: “Lemon, what happened in your childhood to make you believe people are good?”

Liz: “Lovers. Oh… that word bums me out unless it’s between the words meat and pizza.”

So that’s my list. And I just noticed that three of my ten people are named Jack. Which is also my son’s name. Perhaps I should have titled this list “Just Jack!”. Which you’ll only understand if you watch Will and Grace.  And really, if you don’t, you should start, because it’s hilarious.

So who’s on your your deserted island list? Feel free to share!

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Just A Little More Time

My son informed me the other day that I haven’t written a blog post in nearly a year.  And not for lack of material.  Honestly, some fairly notable things have occurred during that time.

I could have written about when I lopped off part of my thumb with a mandoline slicer.  About how I picked up the piece of my thumb that I sliced off, stuck it back in place, wrapped a paper towel around it, and actually debated for a few minutes whether or not I needed medical attention. Turns out I needed several weeks of medical attention. I figure only a true Italian would sacrifice part of a finger so that her family could have perfectly sliced fried eggplant with their spaghetti.

I might have written about how right after what is now referred to as “The Mandoline Incident”, I was diagnosed with skin cancer on my head. But this is usually more of a humorous blog and I really couldn’t figure out how to spin that one into something hilarious. I’m totally fine now, by the way. Joke’s on you, squamous cell carcinoma.

Another blog worthy topic I might’ve written about…my oldest child graduated high school. That’s a big event, right? She was accepted to the University of Washington, her first choice school, and our families flew up for her graduation and it was fun and fine and I probably shed a few tears during the ceremony, I honestly don’t remember.

And then this summer she worked to save money and we talked about the things she would need for school. We bought new bedding for her dorm. And it was exciting and I was fine.  We bought storage drawers and a mini fridge. And I was fine. We ordered her textbooks online a few days ago and shipped them to her dorm address. And still I was fine.

And then yesterday we packed everything into the car, drove the car onto the ferry and set off for UW in Seattle. We moved her into a clean, bright, nearly brand new dorm building, we had a lovely dinner with her roommate and her super nice family, and it all should have been fine.

But when I hugged my daughter good-bye and watched her walk down the city street, away from us, her family, her protectors, it was like watching her walk straight out of her childhood. And into the unknown. And then I was not fine. So now, I’ll write.

It’s like I’ve been hit with the emotional equivalent of a hurricane. I mean, I figured I’d be sad when she left. You can’t spend every single day of 18 years with someone and then not miss them when they move away. Even if your kid is a pain in the ass. Which mine isn’t, by the way, which probably makes it harder.

And I knew I would feel worry. Because up until now I knew pretty much where my child was at all times.  I knew what time she went to bed, what time she woke up, and what she ate for breakfast. Now, overnight, she’s living in a big city and I don’t know if she got enough sleep or what she’s wearing or if she remembered to bring a jacket.  The only word I can think of to describe all of this not-knowing is…unsettling.

Along with the worry, strangely, is guilt. Second-guessing everything I ever did as a parent. Did I adequately prepare her for the “real” world? Did I scare her too much or not enough? Will she really keep the pepper spray in her backpack? Will she use it if she has to? Why didn’t I make her take a self-defense class? Does she know how to mail a package? Did I ever tell her the post office closes at 5:30?

Anger. I didn’t expect to feel anger. Yes, I am pissed off at the world right now for not preparing me for this. How many pieces of unsolicited advice do we get in our years of parenting? Thousands? At every other milestone I felt inundated with information and opinions.  People talk endlessly about how hard it is having a newborn, the sleepless nights, the endless diapers.  Breastfeeding, co-sleeping.  The toddler tantrums. Picky eater preschoolers, time-outs. Screen time rules, stomach flu, nightmares. The middle school years…hormones, mean girls, bullying. High school…peer pressure, drugs, alcohol, academic stress. Texting and driving. And so on.  I mean, you can’t get people to shut up about that stuff.

But when you mention your child is leaving for college, the response has been invariably, “Oh, how exciting!” and that’s pretty much it. Well, now that it’s happened I’m like, “Wait a minute!  Why did NOBODY tell me, I mean REALLY tell me, that, THIS, THIS is the milestone that is the absolute hardest parenting time of all?” Not one single person said, “Oh, your child is leaving for college? I’m so sorry, that totally sucks for you.”  And of COURSE I am happy for her. And of COURSE I am excited for her. And no, I wouldn’t rather her stay home forever.  But none of that mitigates the fact that for me, the mom, it does totally suck right now. So I am telling you now, parents of younger children, because no one actually told me. It sucks. You’re welcome.

I read a quote years ago about being a parent that stuck with me, “The days are long, but the years are short.” Man, truer words were never spoken.

People say, “Oh, you’re lucky that she’ll only be an hour away,” which until yesterday, actually gave me comfort. But I quickly realized that it doesn’t matter much if she’s not in her bedroom and she’s an hour away versus she’s not in her bedroom and she’s five hours away.  Either way, she’s not in her bedroom. Either way, the house is too quiet.

I keep having this vision in my head of my little girl walking away, towards her building, and in this vision I’m fighting back tears and yelling,  “WAIT!  Turn around!  Please, I’m not done yet.  I need more time…just a little more time!”

But my time is up and all I can do is hope that I used it well.

And though my heart is heavy and my emotions are muddled, my head is clear, and I do know the truth of the matter. I may need just a little more time…but she doesn’t. She’s strong and she’s smart and she’s beautiful and she’s ready. She’s all yours, world. Please treat her kindly.

hannahbig

 

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School Lunches and Tiny Houses (a.k.a. things that are bothersome)

School Lunches

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Enough already.  Parenting magazine, that means you.  You are supposed to make me feel BETTER about being a mom, not like a complete slacker for packing my kid a PB&J for lunch.  With the crust cut off.  In a CIRCLE, mind you.  I mean, I thought I was a goddamn hero for that.

But, NOOO, then I open your latest issue and see photos like the ones here with a note from the reader that says, “In our house we do themed lunches each week, it’s a great way to get my kids to eat their fruits and veggies.”  – Lucy from Witchita, Kansas

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SERIOUSLY??

Yeah, well, it’s also a great way to get yourself run over by another mom in the school pick-up line, Lucy.

I wonder about these people and always look at the town where they are from as if that will give me some insight.  Ohhh, they’re from Witchita.  That’s why they have four hours to assemble their kid’s lunch.  I tell myself that if I lived in Witchita I too would create masterpiece lunches.  But then I think, “Well, I live in the woods on a small island where there’s not much to do so really, what’s my excuse?”  Perhaps the fact that I’m not INSANE.

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DAMN YOU PINTEREST

It’s one thing to see these lunches in magazines.  But I work as a sub in our school district so I get to see home lunches firsthand.  And let me tell you, these lunches really do put me to shame.  It’s not so much the artful arranging, as it is what I see kids actually eating.

Lunches filled with fresh fruits, veggies, protein, kale chips, seaweed crackers, five little dark chocolate chips as a treat.  All in perfectly proportioned reusable containers.  And then there is my 8 year old daughter’s lunch…PB&J on white bread, goldfish, ACTUAL chocolate for a treat.  Mostly in (gulp) disposable baggies.   Just ban me from this island right now.   Sometimes I scan the classroom at lunchtime to see if any other kid has a ziploc baggie and I feel a pathetic sense of relief when I spot one.  Hey, other baggie mom…reveal yourself and perhaps we can be friends.

So as a result of watching all these kids devouring healthy foods, I’ve vowed to do better.  I bought “whole grain” cheddar goldfish and put them in a baggie so my daughter wouldn’t see the box.  She took one bite of the goldfish and promptly stated, “Something’s wrong with these goldfish.  They taste weird.”  I bought wheat bread instead of white bread and told her it was the same but they just used brown sugar instead of white sugar.  That actually worked until my 14 year old walked in and said, “Ugh.  Why did you buy WHEAT bread?”  Foiled again.

So I decided to try peer pressure.  I told Ava about all the kids lunches that I see when I’m working and that her lunch is just embarrassing and that every day she must take a fruit or vegetable.  The other morning she made her lunch herself and put it in her backpack.

Me:  “Let me see your lunch.  Did you pack any fruit or veggies?”

Ava:  “No.”

Me:  “Here’s a bag of strawberries.  Put them in your lunchbox.”

Ava:  “Do I actually have to EAT them?  Can’t I just stand up and wave them around so people will see them and just THINK you’re a good mom?”

Touché, my child. Touché.

 

Tiny Houses

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I recently watched a show on HGTV called Tiny House Hunters.  Perhaps you’ve heard of this trend sweeping the nation of people giving up most of their possessions and moving into a home roughly the size of a large sport utility vehicle.  Seriously, I’m not talking Manhattan apartment small, I’m talking 180 square feet usually consisting of a kitchen, living area and bathroom “downstairs” and a sleeping loft “upstairs” that no one over the age of four can stand up in.

What struck me most funny about this show is that for 30 minutes I watched the hipster couple that was purchasing a tiny house complain incessantly about how small everything was.  Seriously?  I mean, it is LITERALLY called a Tiny House…have you never actually seen the show you are now ON?

“Hmm…there’s not much storage in the kitchen.  And there’s no dishwasher.”   That’s because you were supposed to have purged all your kitchen luxuries…like pots & pans, dishes and utensils.  Get with the program, people.

“Wow, the stove only has one burner.”   So?  Are you planning on cooking a meal for six people?  Because six people cannot fit in your tiny house.  You will need to purge most of your friends along with your possessions.

Then this couple climbs up the ladder to the (tiny) loft area where they begin walking around furiously on their knees.  Which in itself was funny.

“We need two offices.   Where will we put our offices?”  I actually laughed out loud at that one.   Dude, you’ve got room for two sleeping bags and one crate to put all of your hemp clothing in.   Where will your OFFICES go??   It is quite clear now you have both somehow stumbled onto the wrong show.

And on and on it went.  I wish I had a dollar for every time the word “tiny, small or tight” was spoken during the 30 minute show.  Super annoying.

The couple was buying a tiny house under the guise of saving money.   Oh, you young and naive millennials…here is why that will not happen.

1.  Restaurant expenses.  Eventually, one of you is going to want a two-burner meal.

2.  Laundry expenses.  No washer and dryer means you need a laundromat to wash all your locally made, organic flannel shirts and beanies.  Then again, do millennials even do laundry?  Or is that too “Generation X”?

3.  I need to get the hell away from you before I kill you in your sleep so I’m going to a bar expenses.

4.  Therapy bills.  For so many obvious reasons.

I guarantee you there will never be a “where are they now?” update on that show.  Clearly, we all know where they are now….divorced.  And possibly hunchbacked from their tiny loft offices.  That’s how we will recognize all these people in the future…a bunch of 40 year olds stooped over in faded flannels with a wild eyed look from the trauma of living in a tiny house.  In a few years HGTV can launch another show, “Road trip across America – the search for abandoned tiny houses and their people.”  I’d watch that.

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THIS LOOKS LIKE A COUPLE WHO HAVE ENDURED MANY YEARS OF MARRIAGE.  I GIVE THEM 30 DAYS IN THE TINY HOUSE BEFORE THEIR FACEBOOK STATUS CHANGES TO “COMPLICATED”.