The Little Things

I Am Thankful For…

The time I spend with my kids

Date nights

The fact that…

…Jackson dives in with his all, his killer smile

…Finn’s creative streak, a wild ride

…Max is soulful and funny and eager to share

Date nights

The fact that…

…my sisters are my friends

…I learned to parent from my parents

…I can still help with math

The time I spend with my kids

Hugs that linger

Afternoon sun through the trees

The first glimpse of the beach

Catching up around the fire

Date nights

And the time I spend with my kids.

Boy Humor at the Dinner Table

As my boys enter adolescence, dinner conversations go awry. Humor has shifted from goofy giggles over burps and farts to socially aware but unacceptable quips.

One night at dinner, don’t ask me how we got there, but… somehow we were talking about two kids in the same family with different mothers. No one we know personally. Just the concept.

“He’s my brother of another mother.” Lots of laughs.

I glared at them. “Where did you hear that?”

Everywhere,” said my sixth grader.

My husband, happily joining the fray, pointed out that “my sister from a different father” doesn’t roll off the tongue quite so melodically.

“How about ‘sister from a different mister?!’”

High fives from the teenagers.

Frankly, I prefer burps and farts. And last night, no one even laughed when the seventh grader burped loudly after tacos.

Santa, the Pope and the Birds and the Bees

My six year old niece asked my sister why the Virgin Mary is a saint. As is often the case, talk of Mary led to the question of how babies normally get in the mommy’s tummy. My sister explained in six year old terms – the dad plants a seed in the mommy.

Perfect. Conversation done. Six year old seemingly content.

But my niece was still noodling over the facts, and with the last crumb of Thanksgiving pie just eaten, she couldn’t help but think of Santa.

“What about Santa? Since he’s magic, is he a saint too?”

“Yes,” replied my sister, thinking she was still on safe ground, “St. Nicholas!”


“But did the Pope guy say he was a saint?” Or was he “born” with no seed?

Traffic Jam with the Kids

On Sunday, the boys and I were driving home from Aspen to Denver. After a winter of weekend ski lessons, we are used to the hour traffic jam caused by accidents or winter weather. We even sat one Friday on the mountain highway, closed for hours due to a police chase and shooting.

So leave it to the authorities to conduct unexpected tunnel blasting in July. Another “hour plus” delay. Importantly in our car, another “hour plus” before the kids would see the dog.

I expected a disaster of bad moods, whining and bathroom breaks. Instead, my ten year old rolled down the window and shouted at our fellow travelers.

“I hate this! Drive, people!”

When that elicited minor laughter from his brothers, “Santa, where are you! Save us!”

More laughter.

“Where is the Easter Bunny when you need him? EATER BUNNY!!!!”

What would the Easter Bunny do?

Followed by chanting, “WE HATE THIS! HEY! WE HATE THIS! HEY!”

Grateful for laughing kids in bumper-to-bumper traffic, I had to join them. “NOT AS MUCH AS ME! NOT AS MIUCH AS ME!”

And so it went, interspersed with shouts for the Easter Bunny, until we detoured past the tunnel and picked up speed.


On Monday, I checked my fourth grader’s homework assignment notebook. His Wednesday column was marked by a single word, “CHILL.”

“Why did you write CHILL here?” I asked.

He looked at it, “I don’t know. I didn’t write that.”

“It’s in your handwriting.” His very sloppy handwriting is quite identifiable.

“But I didn’t write it.”

The school had standardized testing Thursday and Friday, so I thought that maybe “CHILL” meant they had no homework for the rest of the week. Makes sense, right?

“No other tests this week?” I asked just to be sure.


On Wednesday, he climbed into the car clearly mad at me. “It didn’t say CHILL. It said, chapter 11. I had a math test today on chapter 11! If you hadn’t said…”


Not “CHILL”.

A lesson on why good handwriting is important.

The Great Mystery

Another deep dinner conversation launched by a ten year old munching on a taco. “What do you think the biggest mystery in life is?”

“How we got here,” said Mom.

“What happened to the dinosaurs?” asked the six year old.

“Gravity,” added Dad.

“Why the universe keeps going and going,” said the eleven year old.

“Or does it end and where?” asked Dad.

“I think the earth was a big ball of fire for a long time, and then all these asteroids kept hitting us and soon there was water and other stuff,” the six year old likes the asteroid theory of disappearing dinosaurs too.

And then from the guy who started it, “which came first, the chicken or the egg?”

“That’s easy,” said Dad. “It’s always the egg.”

Creation at Six and Eleven

“I know how we were made,” said the six year old at 5:45 a.m. on a Sunday.

We were having a sleepover in “Mom’s room”, so four kids and a dog started off the night in sleeping bags on the floor. At about 5:00 a.m., two kids climbed into my bed. A third started sniffling.

“First we were in the shape of food, but then our ghosts came in and turned the shapes into people. And there we were!”

“Wow,” I said, eyes still closed hoping to prolong the night, “that is a really cool way to think about it.”

But my eleven year old is too literal for that. “Mom, if you keep saying things like that, you are not going to bring up a very smart kid.”

He turned to his little brother, “It was the umbilical chord. I knew that when I was six. So should you. But the real stuff comes next year in science.”

Thanks to the Victor

Last weekend, our Family Fantasy Football League had its Super Bowl – its much-discussed trophy, the ability to choose a special dinner.  Had the dog won, we all vowed to eat bacon for a day. I was gunning for a nice restaurant, anything I did not have to plan or cook.

In the end, however, our 2013 Family Fantasy Super Bowl pitted Dad’s Rockin’ Red Peppers against our fifth grader’s Team Orion. A poor showing this season by the Atlanta Falcons meant the preseason favorite (Fire Spirits managed by our fourth grader and fountain of football knowledge) did not make the playoffs.

Rockin’ Red Peppers had chosen peanut butter eggs for his prize, so of course, he had the family cheering madly for Orion, who promised dinner at the Olive Garden, where the bread apparently “rocks” and Mom would not have to cook.

Peanut butter eggs were concocted by my husband when he gave up carbs. His theory was that if he liked scrambled eggs and a piece of toast with peanut butter, there was no reason not to nix the toast and melt the peanut butter into a warm plate of pale yellow protein. I have since given up scrambled eggs altogether.

So his victory by more than 30 points meant disaster for Mom and three boys who hate eggs.

The morning of his celebratory feast, our fifth grader walked through the house moping that “today is going to be terrible.”

At lunchtime, we loaded everyone in the car on our way to a restaurant Dad discovered that “actually has peanut butter eggs on the menu! Can you believe it?!” Our fourth grader Googled it, but only found an Easter recipe for chocolate-covered peanut butter eggs.

When we pulled into the parking lot of Dave & Busters, the fifth grader asked, “There are two restaurants here?”

When we sat down in the booth at Dave & Busters, they rapidly scanned the menus, “Can we get something else if we eat the peanut butter eggs too?”

Then they fell silent. The fourth grader smiled first.

The fifth grader looked at Dad confused. “They don’t have peanut butter eggs!” Then he smiled too. “And we get to play games?!”

The kindergartener jumped up and down in the booth.

Dad’s victory celebration – a feast of nachos, wings, macaroni and cheese and an hour of video games. No peanut butter eggs to be found.


What the Stomach Bug Means to a Fifth Grader

My fifth grader has been home for two days with the stomach bug despite getting the flu shot. Here are some quotes from the poor guy:

Who gave this to me?” as if last week’s patient in some classmate’s house were truly evil and out to get him. 

“Why were there red things in there? Is my stomach bleeding?!” No, just carrot bits from last night’s dinner. It’s always the food you liked least from the night before that shows up in the puke. Why is that?

“There goes my attendance streak!” with gleeful acceptance. Then only an hour later in tears, “I’m going to fail my math test! It’s not fair!”

“I actually want to go to school today, but I don’t think I can stand up.” Mom was that boring the first day.

And from his celebratory younger brother upon learning the day had produced only 7 vomits, “I’ve still got the record! Oh yeah, I’m awesome!”

Let’s hope the record-holder isn’t similarly waylaid tomorrow.