See you next year!

For a challenging ( i.e. tense, stressful) year our Christmas was refreshingly challenge free. It’s always better when I don’t fight the holidays, but surrender. 

Christmas eve my mother took us out to dinner and afterwards we walked to look at the lights.  Rex was absent.  Once again he refused to “dress fancy” and I think he takes after his big brothers.  He would rather be at home and watch TV, eat simple food than get dolled up and go to a restaurant. So, the boys stayed at home. Vivien hews closer to me.  I love seeing her with her daddy.

This will be the first New Years Eve Mark hasn’t worked in over 30 years.  We are going to have a quiet, family celebration.  I’m looking forward to unplugging. So, I will see you all next year.

Thank you all so much for coming to Cool Mom in 2012.  It was a time of great changes here where I no longer had the economic backing to produce as many videos as I use to and I had to learn to drive this ship by myself.  Editing, shooting, etc.  I learned a lot, and have more to learn and explore.   Have a great New Years and here’s to a happy, healthy days in 2013.

So much to be grateful for.  Life is good.


Vacation distractions (spons)

My mantra during school breaks, “they will not watch TV all day.”  No reason they should, they got a mountain of toys from a man in a red suit. Right now Rex is running around naked wrapping his arm in scotch tape.  That’s better than a 2nd showing of “My Little Pony.”

Yesterday I went to the chiropractor, the gym and got my car washed.  My car gets SO filthy it takes them 40 minutes.  10 of those minutes were spent hearing about the cashiers father’s oxygen levels.  I kept nodding and saying reassuring things as my inner voice spoke, “Why is she telling me this?  It’s slow today, she needs someone to talk to, be nice. Lady, please let me walk away. Oh, I just remembered I don’t care.”

Before I left I told Mark, turn off the TV when this cartoon is done.  I called from the car wash “I can hear the TV, turn it off”  Yes, he said, with the same tone I had for the cashier with the father with C. O. P.

I picked up some lunch for us.  I was back at 12. Still the TV was on.  “Enough.  TV is off.  TV break.”

“TV vacation?” Rex chirped.  Yes, TV Vacation.

C’mon let’s go assemble some hunks of plastic that you were given.

In my idealized alternate universe Kia Sorento self I come up with a fun staycation activity for the kids.  It would help to have a brand new car, however it could be done after a trip to the car wash.


Jacked Up Reacher

It started out so promising.  My husband and I were going for a quick bite and a movie.  We even ran into friends at the restaurant which meant we actually had fun bater as opposed to procedural married talk.  Why is it we are more fun with others?  The night seemed so good.

But, then it all went so wrong I forced Mark to vlog with me as soon as we got home.  I blame him. I also blame Tom Cruise. I blame Rosamund Pike’s eyebrows

Yes, her breasts were hiked up the whole time, just like her eyebrows


Let’s get this Flocking started!


“I feel overwhelmed.”  I heard a mom say to another at school.  “Don’t you feel overwhelmed?”

“Yes” said the other, “I feel overwhelmed.”

I didn’t speak because I didn’t feel overwhelmed.  Not in the way they meant it.  Not about buying presents or visiting relatives or packing a bag.  I am enjoying all the ho-ho- hoing.  It’s what’s getting me through right now.

2012 has been a bit of a rough year. Both of Mark’s restaurants closing, general recession crap-o-ola  ( I think that’s what the Feds call it)  But, our worry about making a living seemed to pale a week ago Friday whenI found out an old friend had died.  My rough year didn’t seem so rough.  I’m mourning my friend and feeling very guilty about having taken him off my worry list in ’11.  I didn’t know the cancer had come back.

“But, it’s all loss to the body.” my friend Eleni said.  She had arrived as if on a cue.  She is an even older friend who lives abroad and whom I rarely see. My body sure felt those shingles from the stress, but so small in the face of what my friend dealt with.

Per usual my kids lift me out of the gutter again and again.  Nothing as good as Christmas with little kids.  The tree trimming.  Though Rex keeps saying “I wanted a white flocked tree”  Quite right, next year I we will flock it. Maybe a color even.  Why not?  It’s all artifice. Dress the tree up, dress us up.

with their cousin Lily

I’m driving us to every holiday fun thing in town.  A trip or two to Santa, Christmas puppet shows, kids get dressed up in their finest.  Love it!

The first day I heard about my friend I could only lie down.  But, the next day my motto was “who wants to bake sugar cookies?”  I doubled down on Christmas fun.   I don’t want my kids to see me blue.  They get so excited.  Chef Peel gives his two cents,  “I think you are over mixing it”  as Vivien bangs at it with a wooden spoon.  Relax grasshopper, it’s about the process. The second night I upped the ante.

“Who wants to make sugar cookies with green sprinkles?”  The heavens rain joy! I thought I had them covered when “Ava Maria” came on and I got a message from a friend about our friends passing.  I ran to my office, lay down on the kiddie couch and cried.  Vivien came after me, “What is it mommy?”

“I’m fine, everything is okay, I’m sad about my friend dying and I wanted to cry about it for a minute, but I’m okay. Can you please just give me one minute?” Sometimes crying is like going number 2.  You need to do it alone.  I got my minute and then broke out the food coloring.

Another night we went caroling with some neighbors.  We all sounded terrible, but it was great fun.  Of course I took over the crew when I felt we were aimless.  “Okay, listen, it’s Jingle Bells, then Deck the Halls. No, nobody knows the words to Let it Snow.  A 1-2-3, deck the halls…”

Next year, we are going to need to rehearse. And of course have a flocked tree.


Third row when you need it (spons)

Today while I do my last minute shopping I would need the flex third row for packing in last minute presents.  But, for carting around kids I do wish I had a third row option available (batting my eyelashes at Kia).

It’s been tough enough to squeeze in one Viv friend into my back seat, a fourth kid would have to run along side. Which is too bad because I would love my kids to have buddy time in a safe a legal manner.

So, in this parallel universe where I have the 2013 Kia Sorento I get my wish.  A third row, happy kids and a cold drink on a hot day.  ( yes, this was shot in Sept)  I also have some crazy Yoko Ono sunglasses.  Can’t remember how that came about.


Last day to gift wrap!

Okay, If I don’t do it today, then it’s really on Santa’s shoulders.  Tomorrow Rex has a short day so this is it.

( but not this Santa.  We have been going to Teddy Bear tea at a fancy hotel for years.  This year the pro Santa called in sick.)

This week still had the sad shadow of Sandy Hook, Vivien and I were out for two days with intestinal disturbances.  Then, another heart break.  An old friend succumbed to cancer.  I’m too upset to write about it and not even sure if I will.  Just sad.

I’m going to fire up some carols, and wrap.  Keep going.

But, if that Stevie Wonder version of “Ava Maria” comes on I will be bawling under the tree.


Can’t wait for 2012 to get it’s crap and get out of here.

When eyeballs talk

Driving home Friday I was in tears listening to the first person account by a teacher at Sandy Hook. I was alone.  It’s all Christmas carols if my kids are in the car.

I got home and had this feeling that I wanted to drive to my children’s school and pick them up.  Then home school them till they are 22.  Then I see them as really weird young adults and I tell myself to sit tight.  This is an aberration.  This is not normal.  So, is unwittingly being part of the slowest moving, biggest ever Ponzi scheme in American history and I got those cooties.

Bad things do happen to good people. This morning the school was packed for a holiday show, gate open, sunny skies. 

Just get to school a few minutes early so you are first at pick up, I said to myself.  That way I would get a parking space, walk down the dog poo covered street to the school, because it’s kind of crappy neighborhood. Literally. Apparently lower income people in apartments want the world to share in their glory of dog poo.  To be fair, the little falling down structures I call “crack houses”, but I’ve smelled only copious amounts of pot, so maybe they are just very ill.  ( my rant on California pot laws I’ll save for another post)

Then I see I have a missed call from Vivien’s school. Gulp.

I listened to the message.  Relieved it is not a robo call warning of great danger at the school.  Vivien tripped and hit her cheek on a chair. Her teacher thought she was fine, but the lady in the office thought I should know and she does have a bruise.

I dialed the office back as I threw my big, ugly, love em comfy mom Dansko shoes back on.  “I’m on my way.”  It was 90 minutes before pick up.  I half expected to see other nervous parents fearing that the violence in Connecticut was spreading.  I parked and caught eyes with a mom I know.  We didn’t say a word, but our eyes said it all, “Fuck!  This is so horrible, I’m so sad, so freaked out, so upset, mums the word in front of the kids. What is the matter with the world? Why?”

I was buzzed in the office.  Only two adults there at the time.  Without a ramp up I said, “where is your security camera?  How do you know who is buzzing in?”

“I don’t, everyone gets buzzed in.  I don’t have a camera.”  She said flatly like she had made this point herself before.  Okay, I said to myself, I’ll stop complaining about the poo and bad drainage and get us a camera. Later I thought, does she have a buzzer to alert emergency personal?  My son’s school sent out an email about their security precautions within hours of the news, but so far, nothing from my daughter’s school.

I saw Vivien and she did have a bruise, but really she was fine staying at school and I felt like I was ruining her chances of getting into Yale by picking her up early.  I told the teacher we would work on the project they were focusing on at home.  ( did a bit, but dang weekend homework is tough to get done)

“Vivien, is this because your laces are too long?”  I knew the purple high tops were to blame.  I needed something to blame.

These are going down!

“Maybe mommy, you see..” she then told me a story about tripping over the leg of the chair, which I’m pretty sure had NOTHING to do with her too long laces.  I had called Mark on speaker as I drove to the school, who was about to take off on a plane to see his older daughter.  “Just buy her new, shorter laces.”  No way I thought.  I’m so LUCKY, so BLESSED.  IT’s the laces, the laces are at fault and they are going down!  My 7 year old is okay and I’m buying her new shoes.

I can’t bring those beautiful children back, I can’t torture that crazy nerd who did this, I can’t stop America’s love affair with automatic guns.  I can’t say , remember when we use to warehouse crazy people? Maybe not such a bad idea. Then have funding in place for the many mentally unstable people of the US and the families that are worn down dealing with them.    But, I can get my daughter shoes that don’t make her trip.  I can pretend I can keep her safe all the time, whether I’m there or not. I can enjoy her delight at wearing new shoes.  New shoes with velcro.

When we were at the shopping mall Rex asked for a warm pretzel.  I automatically said, no.  It was almost dinner.  But, wait, I’m so, so, so lucky.  “Yes, of course” I corrected myself.

All weekend I’m up early to read the papers about the tragedy.  Then I signed every gun control petition I can find online. The rest of the time I’m with my kids.  Tree trimming at my moms, time with her cousin.

I think the Dianne Feinstein ban on assault weapons is a good one to lobby for. It passed once before. I know hunters, they know how to reload.  Let’s make the crazy people have to reload.

On FB lots of back and forth about gun rights.  The second amendment says “well-regulated militia”,  people having automatic guns in their house, how is that a well-regulated militia?  (good piece about this HERE) One friend said, “we need guns to protect ourself against tyrannical government.” But, I pointed out, our government has nuclear weapons, so should we all have nukes?”

These tiny conversations are not very satisfying.

I got more from the camaraderie of the wordless exchange.  Human to human, soul to soul. Where only our eyes are needed to talk.


We are broken hearted

Obama got that right.  This tragedy challenges our comprehension.  I want the gun violence    to stop.  I want mental heath support to be as easy as getting a burger.  I want those 20 children not to be gone. Their parents love them like I love my own.  I do not want to sit in their agony.  I want to fix this. But, there is no fix.  

I’m keeping this from my kids.  I want to protect them from the evils of the world as long as I can. I was looking or an image to sum up the feeling I had for all of the children of the world and then I remembered this picture I took last week.  Rex was given some trains and track by our neighbor.  The kids played while I went and read for a bit.  When I came back Vivien had made this.  

Motherfuckers, put down your guns and stop blaming others for your pain.  Just love.  Why not?   If you want to shoot yourself, don’t take anyone with you.  We don’t want to go.

I’m so sorry. Like everyone else, I’m broken hearted.