A Mass Grade for Josie

Immediately following her morning juice and just before the eggs were scrambled, but most certainly long before the matriarch sipped her coffee, she dragged the stool around the corner and into the pantry unnoticed. Sensing the Sunday in the morning she counted on just enough hasty and distracted scrambling that the sound of the stool dragging across the floor would blend into the crazy of her mother’s thoughts. She recognized her opportunity at her mother’s running up the steps while the eggs cooled in the pan. Unattended time ticked away as Mom searched for matching dresses and bows. Opportunity continued when big brother James succumbed to the stress of struggling with his pants button and cried helplessly for his mommy at the top of the stairs. Her nearly perfect, yet beginning to catch onto the behavioral paradigms of her family, baby sister Rita, maintained her morning slumber. Dad, wishing he could continue his own slumber, did not hesitate to take his time picking his shirt despite his wife’s spastic handling of the morning and life.

There Josie stood on top of the stool. The kitchen and the pantry for those brief seconds were hers and her freedom to taste limited only by her mother’s negligent grocery shopping. She perused and touched and discarded anything not resembling “treat.” As she heard the “We have to leave for Mass in twenty minutes!” warning #1, she popped the golden chocolate truffle into her mouth in rambunctious delight, savoring its rich, expensive smoothness. Careful not to leave any evidence on her face, she used her freshly washed curls to wipe up the excess chocolate-drool mixture and continued her quest to fill up on sugar before her mother requested her presence at the breakfast table.

The perusing continued. Her notice of a large container filled to the brim with golden wrapped squares shaped in the perfect size for storing in pockets, underneath her bed, or to be stashed in the elastic waist of her diaper, took her breath away. With a few claps and jumps, her breath returned and into the jar her tiny hand wiggled. To ensure efficient eating, she unwrapped 7 at a time. At the notice of an adult’s entrance into the room, she shoved all of them into her mouth.

“Why all the tears, Miss Josephine?” her still not dressed mother asked in the most calm way she could when encountering ear drum piercing, but not indicative of bodily injury, crying.

There was no answer, only ferocious spitting. Seven semi-chewed, looked liked candy to her, chicken soup bouillon cubes, were expelled.

Her mother tried to comfort and then decided not to. That toddler had it coming and disgustingly salty seemed like sweet parenting justice.

With chewed bouillon all over the floor, the family piled into the car and headed to church. Wearing a Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer hat backwards, to ensure and exude coolness, she announced her need to pee and desire for underwear 17 times, each time progressing in loudness and intensity. Then, she vehemently demanded a sip of juice, also known as the Blood of Christ, repeatedly and recklessly abandoned to the care of volume or level of inappropriateness. While she was careful to communicate on the borderline between whine and sweet speech impediment to strangers, the final straw of ripping the missile as her parents begged for strength and guidance landed her a Mass Grade of a big fat F.

Until next week…

Happy Sunday! May there be no crusted bouillon on anyone’s floors.

A story about the grocery store.

The battle to put on coats had waged long and loud in the snowy grocery store parking lot and spirits sank low and grew cranky. “I’ll be a fun mom,” I thought as I picked the cart that is the hardest to steer and heaviest to push because its shaped like a race car and has wheels to steer and horns to beep. In a cost-benefit analysis, the built in imagination station seemed worth the sacrifice. Still shivering, they seemed content.

As I passed the flowers, I trampled over three poinsettias with the carts right side as its left knocked over a chocolate display.

The carts inertia then almost killed two old ladies holding hands and picking apples.

Next, Josie figured out how to unclasp the buckle.

“Stay seated,” I warned as we steered past the oranges. “Balls!” she said as she stood up and stretched her arms no longer constrained and one was thrown at Rita and another at an entertained stranger.

The fun continued near the Deli. Dozens of customers were waving tickets in the air begging for sliced turkey, and Josie believed them all to be hers. She made her claim known by standing and shouting, “Gib me dat tipkit!” to each of the shocked and scared perpetrators as they responded, “she should really be buckled, that’s quite dangerous.”

It wasn’t that I meant to appear indifferent about my standing 2 year old. Its just that I have a hard time hiding my emotions through facial expressions and the kid learned how to safely jump out of her crib at 15 months. I felt confident in her ability to stand and yell at strangers for their deli numbers.

The crimes of injustice continued as kind and generous Deli workers offered her a slice of broken cheese. She was both offended and hurt as they stared confused and bewildered. “She doesn’t like cheese?” they asked. I offered them my apology and engaged considerable hamstring strength to reengage the carts movement as Josie continued to unintelligibly (thankfully) and with a fully open mouth yell and cry “I hate broken cheese, stupid broken cheese, idiot.”

Rita enjoyed what Josie forcefully rejected for 20 seconds before Josie sobered up and noticed. The second greatest part about knowing how to unbuckle a safety feature is the new found opportunity to sit on your younger sister when she steals and eats the Deli cheese you reject and hate. The mostly squashed younger then pulled the hair of the still screaming older, the now angry crying older then slapped the revenged younger, and the bad female parent tried to hold back laughter. Have you ever seen a one year old pull hair with a grin and a giggle? Rescue came in the form of a shopping construction worker still wearing his hard hat who said, “Santa Claus is watching,” to which Josie asked, “Does the firefighter know Santa?” and all was good and merry.

I then filled my cart with nothing I put on my mental list.

As I parked to check out and noticed Josie’s possession of a rogue candy cane and her disgusting generosity in sharing it with Rita, the kindest young mother said, “your children are so well behaved,” to which I smiled and thought, “she’s probably hard of hearing, and quite possibly blind.” With the back turn of a mom to unload the lemons and parsley, Josie discovered the third best thing about being free from the buckle. She can almost reach the gum in the checkout aisle.

When I turned back around at the sound of “YOUR BABY!” an old woman wearing a Christmas birds nest hat (new to me as well) stood holding a smiling Josie who asked her, “Can you just get me that gum? The green one.”

In moments like this a mom should probably be mortified. Thankfully, the bird hat was too distracting, and it wouldn’t have been the first time we accidentally shoplifted gum.

“Very dangerous,” she said to me shaking her head and handing me my daughter.

“Thank you so much for catching her in mid air please have a Merry Christmas?” I tried.

“Merry Pissmas lady!” Josie exclaimed and off we ran to once again freeze in the parking lot.

Happy Thursday!


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Chocolate Money

Following much convincing and several lessons about what birthdays actually are, James has realized that being 4 years old can in fact last more than just one day and he will, in fact, never return to the days of being 3. Thankfully, his name will continue to start with J, his very favorite letter of the alphabet, and much to his dismay, no matter how many birthdays he has, Josie will also continue to begin with J, even on the very day of his actual birthday.

On his third full morning of his fourth year, he continued counting his gold candy money coins. Hidden in his the third drawer to the left in his bathroom, just underneath his toothpaste and seven toothbrushes, the candy element of his coin wealth remained undiscovered since Monday. And since we consumed enough sugar to fuel Santa’s whole workshop, I left that detail untold.

This morning while attempting to convince Josephine that it is absolutely inappropriate and she is prohibited from riding to drop off her brother at school without pants or a diaper, wearing only a flower tshirt, headband and socks, and rinsing a stale mixture of last night’s milk and speghetti from Rita’s sheets and hair discovered in her bed by her gagging mother as she sat happily undisturbed by the disgusting pungent bacteria crusting near her left eye, James discovered something incredible.

In the 30 seconds remaining before his arrival at school would be considered too late even for preschool, I scrambled to start the laundry and load them in as he excitedly interrupted, “MOM!!! MOM!!!!!!! THERE IS CHOCOLATE IN THIS MONEY!!!! WE ARE SO RICH!!”

May you find money growing on trees and may it be made of chocolate.


How to take a family photo

Step One: Reschedule the shoot so many times that neither you nor your husband can actually remember when the photographer is coming to the house.

Step Two: Talk about taking pictures so much that your husband gets so nervous he is physically unable to be anything but passive aggressive about ever taking any type of family picture ever again.

Step Three: Forget to make dinner early and realize T-Minus twenty minutes that each an every child is going to have a hunger meltdown on camera click 2.

Step Four: Freak out at husband T-Minus 19 minutes and 30 seconds and beg him to stop and pick up food and then complain about him being late even though that’s what was asked of him.

Step Five: Accidentally dress children in identical outfits as previous year offering no toddler fashion variety and begging the question, “is he growing ok?”

Step Six: Offer toddler something to hold while she is getting dressed, only to realize much too late that the object was not at all toddler friendly and most certainly an open container of baby powder spread generously all over outfit. Proceed to frantically change attire to find that the only clean pair of jeans are two sizes too small for mom bum.

Step Seven: Inadvertently show all three children the “if you are good,” prize too early. Expect tears and tantrums.

Step Eight: Hire a magician. Meet Margo







Motherhood: removing the simple to make us simple or maybe just crazy.

On Wednesday, I forgot to wear deodorant because I wore the shirt in which I slept for most of the morning.

On Thursday it took me almost 3 hours to brush my teeth.

On Friday, Jim said, “how was your day?” to which I responded “I EMPTIED THE DISHWASHER ON MY FIRST TRY!” to which he responded, “that’s great!!”

On Saturday, I washed, folded, and put away one load of laundry by 3 pm and wondered if maybe I swallowed some type of rare insect the night before and had thus been granted superpowers.

On Sunday, we made it to 9:00 am Mass with 35 seconds to spare before the celebration commenced and I declared myself for sainthood, and Pope Francis seems so nice I’m sure he would agree.

Motherhood presents a myriad of paradoxes like “how do I love this tiny human so much whom is the reason why I no longer sleep?” One of which I’ve been pondering today is how in the world I feel like I do at least 4 billion things everyday only to realize many things that take approximately .5 seconds to complete never actually get accomplished? And when/if one of these seemingly simple tasks does get completed I feel like superwoman even though the reality is more like: all of the silverware is put away and the floor looks more like wood and less like spaghetti sauce combined with smeared scrambled eggs?

And while all of these read just like complaints sound, they are more a personal epiphany about motherhood and what it does, gives, takes away, requires.

Before children I think I thought about the privilege of brushing my teeth negative 100 times, and absolutely no one stuck their head in the toilet or emptied the garbage, accidentally turned on the shower with their clothes on, spilled my eye makeup, painted the walls with nail polish, or helped themselves to more toothpaste than they did their breakfast. Emptying the dishwasher crossed my mind once every 3rd or 4th day when it took me 45-60 seconds to take the dishes out and put them away never once fearing any crawling/newly walking children would get accidentally stabbed or shatter glass over their heads by mistake. Making it to the gym warranted a high-five and not an olympic medal and/or diamond. A trip to the grocery store involved 20 free minutes and a lot fewer almost run-ins with cars in the parking lot, and unneeded stops at the deli counter for a free slice or three of cheese.

Since children, I bribe them to exit the furnace room when the kind young man is attempting to fix it by saying “if you take your head out of the furnace we can plug-in the spinning Frosty the Snowman” that makes me feel as if I live in a mental institution without any of the drug perks. When I ask the man if he has children he says, “no I don’t” to which I respond, “oh so this might not make sense,” to which he responds “no it does not,” to which I say “please James, remove your head from the furnace and Josie, stop stepping in the mouse traps, and Rita please don’t eat that stinkbug, and please everyone let’s go upstairs before he runs away and quits working for us!” Anyone else’s kids like to follow worker’s around?

And while to some, this life sounds terrible, like one of this blog’s anonymous commenters who thinks “me and my life sound miserable,” its really pretty awesome to go to bed each night and remember to thank God that no one put my cell phone in the toilet while I washed my hair, because I’m leaning towards “not that many people share that with the Big Man.” So here’s to you, Motherhood. Thank you for teaching me gratitude for even the tiniest of opportunities, and may you never let me forget to keep mints in my car just in case all of my toothbrushes are flushed down the toilet again.

And for your viewing pleasure:

Happy Birthday Big Sister!

A Birthday Message to Maria, My Older and Wiser Sister.

November 8, 2013. Another year, another baby!  Since you are recovering from such a terrible ordeal after nearly cutting off your own finger in an effort to juice a lime and just had surgery yesterday, I will only briefly mention the day you called to say “I caught your car on fire!” and then proceeded to abruptly hang up the phone in the exact moment that my mom friend lay flat on my kitchen floor after fainting at the sight of her bleeding baby. Since everything was ok, I forgive you, but, please, in your 33rd year, learn how to use jumper cables and/or borrow someone else’s car. Just kidding, what are little sisters for other than to torture and take advantage? Just kidding again, just please don’t ever light my car on fire ever again.

What can I say, that Swiss cheese hand/arm cushion looks good on you, and I doubt anyone can wear it and also hold a baby at the same time like the doctor told you not to. It does not, however, look as good as my leather pants, trench coat, black shoes, bronze shoes, various jeweled accessories, maternity pants, non maternity tops, dresses both dressy and casual, purses, clutches, skirts, blouses, and boots. May I kindly remind you that I neither made you attend college astronomy as a 13 year old, nor did you have to write a single Spanish paper in order to earn the rights to any such clothing items? De Nada.

I guess what I am trying to say is, I’m sorry I threw your makeup all over your room as revenge for locking me out of the bathroom all those mornings before 7th grade, and hiding the clothes I took from you under my bed and for cutting off your jeans when you studied abroad, and the leather pants looked really good.

We have a special thing going, you and I. Since we are married to brothers, and next-door neighbors, I can demote you to sister-in law and/or crazy neighbor with too many kids any time I want.

Despite your close proximity to my person, you still take up the most minutes on my cellphone plan. Mom calls the most, but you tend to have a better attention span.

I only had to receive your mail for four months, tops, after the mailman boycotted delivering mail to your house because “you have too many kids harassing (him)”. In your kid’s defense, the United States Post Office should avoid hiring deaf mailmen who don’t like kids. Not in your kids defense, its got to be the first time a mailman boycotted delivering mail to a residential family home. Anyway, you’re welcome and I’m super glad FedEx didn’t quit you too.

I’m also happy I could help you that day when you got your hand stuck behind that drawer and your circulation was being cut off, and there is literally no worse person you could have called to dislodge a drawer than your uncoordinated, clueless to the way mechanics work, little sister. But, we did it and your arm didn’t fall off like your finger almost did.

One year since your last birthday when we set our sights high, we still can’t play tennis.

Thank you for taking me to your pool all those days in the summer.

For forgiving my kids for messing up your pretty house all those days.

And for lending me a pair of shoes once, ok maybe twice.

And for letting me witness the birth of your sixth baby boy.

And for teaching me everything I know about motherhood (this may or may not be a compliment).

And for inspiring me to follow the will of God no matter what, and to do it with reckless abandon and steady perseverance.

You are the strongest woman I know and you are the best mom. If I were you I think I would probably shut down harder than the government. But, you don’t. You wake up and do it again and laugh as they hide stuffed animals around the house to hunt with their toy guns. Or when they hang from chandeliers in the non-cliché way, or flood the tub, or spread cake all over the stairs, or etc x 5billion.

Your baked goods are the best, and how you find the time only Pinterest knows. I’d make you a cake, but I already know you don’t want it.

You beat me in every race we ran together. I blame it on leg length, but let’s face it, it’s your heart and your will and I’ll die looking up to it. And maybe if you didn’t just almost cut off your finger I could have panted behind you on a birthday run. Maybe next year.

When I gave birth to Rita last year, I wanted so badly for her to be a girl. Beyond the desire to own matching girl outfits, there was nothing I want more for Josie than to have a sister, because sisters are the best, after they stop being so mean during the middle school years.

Please rest and get better soon! Don’t worry, your kids are only mildly driving me crazy, and baby Brendan was only once accidentally body slammed by an overzealous Rita trying to give him a hug. I’ll be sure to send the furniture-cleaning bill to you directly just in case the mailman quits again.

Here’s to so many more years, and at least a few more boys.

Happy Birthday Big Sister! May it be filled with cake not made by you, something shiny from your husband, and fewer trips to the Emergency Room.



Five Favorites: Marriage


Jim and I have once again been asked to present our “marriage advice” to a group of lovey dovey dating and engaged couples. While popular demand may be one reason to be asked back, it’s more like ‘we have lots of siblings/close family members’ that are priests and looking for willing speakers and nothing says “baby of eight siblings” like “yes I’ll give a talk.”

So I have a poll for you kind and generous readers that are married or soon to be. When did you know you were in love? And how do you keep the fire burning?

My favorite of answers to the first question comes from my good friend Kristi. Asked by a young girl confused about where her relationship was going, Kristi, engaged and convinced, said the following: “It’s just that I’ve always hated vomit. Like HATE. It makes me puke. One time Patrick was puking and needed my help and I was able to help him. That’s when I knew I was in love.” (This answer was given about 8 years ago and she has 3 boys and has been happily married for 6 years, so he had her at throw up.)

Her answer has always stuck with me because 1) its disgusting 2) its pretty hilarious 3) there is actually some truth underneath all the bile: love gets us to do crazy things, things that we thought we were very much incapable, and if it had been just feelings or infatuation? Poor Patrick may have been alone in his gross sickness.

So in preparation for our presentation, I’m writing my five favorite ways that we keep our marriage in love as a brainstorming exercise/desperate plea to poll my 7 readers. And since we have almost zero marriage professional credentials and even less expertise it would be fine to ignore it all, except #5, that one is true. And also #4, I’m positive that one’s awesome too. And maybe one day I’ll share the details of the moment I knew that I really loved Jim. It involves a cassock and a few billion tears.

Feedback would be most appreciative, especially for the sake of the poor souls signed up to hear us talk!

My five favorite practical Marriage tips that work for us:

1.) Keep a hobby, Grant a Hobby, Find a Hobby

For us, this one is paramount. We both have hobbies that the other does not enjoy, or in my case, is incapable in participating due to the likelihood of enduring serious injury and/or debilitating embarrassment.

I run and swim, he plays hockey and soccer. I shop, he gardens. I watch Project Runway, he would rather eat sand.

My non-point, ramble is this: maintaining personal hobbies is important, and granting spouses time to do them is vital. Marriage, kids, jobs etc can be overwhelming, and maintaining the sense of self that I was before I giddy upped down the aisle and popped out these babies is essential to my sanity, and his. Not all of our hobbies are enjoyed each week, but, I make sure he plays some type of sport alone, and if I forget to, he kindly asks permission and I grant it and vice versa. While certain moments in our marriage have put some of these things on a burner far far in the back, knowing that he is the first one who will say, “why don’t you go out to dinner with a friend or for a run, or something,” and maybe its because I’m driving him crazy, but its so nice. And since, for the most part, our alone time is spent playing sports (a generous term in my case since I only possess skills to do exercise alone and no one would ever want me on any type of team) there are physical and mental benefits, including serotonin, time to think, burn off steam, and in his case, a chance to see his friends.

And finally for this point, choose a hobby together. Ideally, we would ski, but since that’s a hard one with kids that are still on a bunny trail and harder not living on a mountain and best at most quickly draining a bank account, we now do CrossFit. It’s new to both of us and it’s a fun date on which we both agree. Before we discovered a new hobby on which we agreed, we took turns planning hobby dates for each other. Sometimes it is a matter of taking turns to pick restaurants based on each other’s tastes, or generously driving 70 minutes to attend a boxing match for 4 hours (it was actually really cool), or going to a concert of a band not particularly liked. And since quality time is my love language, I’m allll about this point.

2.) Find something to laugh about

It was two nights before we were married. The older and wiser siblings on his side each gave us one piece of advice before we hitched it. “In serious times, find something to laugh about. See the humor God has for you to enjoy,” his oldest sister said. I’ve never forgotten it, and in the times we’ve missed a flight, encountered mess and frustration, ran 2-3 hours behind schedule, and I just about what to scream…Ok I usually scream, but it IS VERY HELPFUL to try and laugh once the yelling is over. God is funny, and takes himself lightly, and spouses should too!

3) Never say never, always avoid always

Instead of being just another Regina ramble, this one is actually based in the science of Relationship Enhancement Therapy and I love it because it is so true for us. Never and Always are absolute terms and they are hardly ever (never!) true. They isolate, shutdown, and hurt. And since they are just two words, removing them from normal vocabularly, or at the very least, becoming increasingly aware of when they are used and how they could hurt or distort the real meaning of things is not ultra difficult.

For instance; “You NEVER take out the trash! You Never spend time with me! You never do this, that, and the other…”

Actually, he probably took out the trash yesterday its just that my two year old stuffed it with who knows what all day, and we went on a date two days ago, and I’m just feeling frustrated and making very unfair statements that I don’t actually mean.

A better version: “the trash is full, could you help me?” “I’d like to spend more time with you.” And maybe the halo angel speak won’t come out right away, but, the man deserves some credit for completing a chore last week or even last month.

Always statements: “You always choose hockey over me!” (wink, wink)

Better version: “I’d like to spend more time with you.” (this is usually the root)

And jim’s: “You are always on your phone!” translation “this is a really bad time to be on the phone, please call back your sister who is 10 feet away from you after dinner.”

“You never put the laundry away!” and while its mostly true, sometimes a sock actually makes it to a drawer and I’m positive it was hard to get it there so skip the absolutes.

One day I’ll elaborate on the skills of Relationship Enhancement Empathy because it is the best and does wonders in the learning how to express actually feelings category.

4). NFP

While this one may be a bit of a hot button, I’d like the internet to know I approach it with no judgment, just a personal experience that makes me oh so very happy.

And I’ll skip reasons #1-100 why I think it’s the best because this post is a novel and just give this tid bit. Yahoonews and Cosmo-trash publish approximately 10 billion (massive exaggeration) articles each year of ways to keep your sex life interesting after ‘all those years’ with just one person. “Doesn’t it get boring?” they ask. No! it doesn’t, and NFP is, in my opinion, the main reason why. The time of abstaining, if child spacing is desired, is a great opportunity. Sure, it sucks at moments, but there is something very incredible about learning to slow down and just enjoy holding hands or a kiss. It becomes a constant rediscovery of each other. A new, and exciting, constant rediscovery, and I just love it.

5.) Prayer

Just try saying a Hail Mary and continuing to yell. Its almost impossible. Fall in love with God, fall deeper in love with the one he asked you to marry. Laugh with God, laugh harder with your spouse. Its almost like magic.

This marriage prep series at which we are presenting is part of a movement to remind couples that marriage is hard and is a lifetime long, so its best to be ready. I would like to add, however, that with 5 ½ years and three children to show for our 8 year relationship, hard is never the first word I would use to describe our commitment. It’s not even the 10th word I would use. Fun is #1, and I have so much of it that I might say it three times in a row, even in moments when he asks if he can finish watching “Are you Smarter than a 5th grader” when I’m absolutely positive we should have started driving to the hospital to deliver a baby two hours before.

And as a bonus objective truth of a happy marriage: NEVER, EVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, EVER, USE THE WORD FAT.

Happy Wednesday, Happy Marriage. Send me some of your favorite marriage tips and moments you knew you were in love! Pretty please!

now go see Hallie

A meeting with James’ teacher

When I was a little girl, Parent-teacher conferences were pretty much my favorite day. I was almost guaranteed a delicious treat for good (suck up with the brownest nose) behavior. There was, of course, the one unfortunate year when my third grade teacher called me a “social butterfly that flutters from conversation to conversation” in which my mom was less than thrilled with her little chatter box. Even with all that flutter I managed to negotiate a singular piece of peanut butter cup because of my stellar cursive and continued cooperation with the side ponytail and massive white bow every morning, and of all the insects, butterflies are definitely the prettiest.

I had the pleasure of speaking with James’ preschool teacher yesterday afternoon, and the fluttering occurred mostly in my stomach as I wondered what she would say and how many times he pulled down his pants to pee. (The answer is once, which is still infinity too many, and the slide was cleaned.) The report is as follows.

Dear James,

In no way do I mean to inflate your artistic abilities, but when I say your tree trunk was the straightest of all of the other brown construction paper rectangles, I mean it. Your decision to demand a second piece of paper to make it straight seemed to pay off in the form of “it really does look like a tree.”

Additionally, I commend you in your role as line leader. Even though you are on the small side, the way you stuck out your chest, lifted your chin, and walked on your tippy toes so as to effectively guide your peers towards the library and playground was indeed a valiant and successful effort.

I apologize that the number 3 is not in your name, like you think it should be, because 3 is your age and James is your name, and clearly they should be always united.

Your friendship with Bailey, both in an out of the classroom, runs deep. Whether you are flying planes, being planes, crashing cars with toys or your bodies, holding hands, or reviewing the stipulations to your best friend and cousin contract through questions like “will you still be my friend if I push my sister?” its plain to see, you two are made for each other. You take over an entire table at lunch to dump out your boxes and make buffet style trades. Bailey is not likely to take your carrots or sandwich, but you continue to try and pawn off your least favorite items with impressive negotiation skills including, but not limited to, “but my mom packed this for YOU, Bailey.”

You are sure to tell all your friends that hitting your sisters is “NOT COOL, I REPEAT, NOT COOL.” Curiously enough, Josie is also “your sweet baby sister who is your best friend.” I’m certainly proud of you for speaking of her in such kind ways, but if we could address the slight disconnect between your words and actions your mother could possibly retire to a life of peace and happiness for all eternity.

It has also come to my attention that you’ve developed a new type of game on the playground. The teachers refer to it as the “damsel” game. It is created and led by you and you alone. You instruct the two blond beauties in the class to pretend to be in “danger.” Sometimes the danger involves sharks, alligators, or tigers. Other times, there is a fire or thunder. They flail their arms and say, “help! James! Help!” To which you climb the latter or hill in a fury of masculine strength with the words “I’LL SAVE YOU!” You then proceed to carry them down the hill, or the slide and resuscitate. I was unaware of your hopeless romantic persona until now, and clearly, you’ve spent some time with your uncles on your mother’s side. Even though you told me that you want to be “Jesus” for Halloween, may I suggest firefighter, and/or first responder? Also, I think firefighter might be less accidentally offensive/sacrilegious.

I am proud of your enthusiasm and zeal for school and learning. You count loud and you sing louder. You smile and bat your eyelashes in an effort to hoard all of the classes’ toy penguins. You build zoos and racetracks and you love books. This morning you cried because there is no school today and you already had put your uniform on by yourself. May you continue to learn with gusto and excitement all the days of your education.

To James future wife,

You are probably enjoying a nice applesauce snack while combing your dolls hair. As evidenced by my son’s school behavior, you are a blond and you are adorable. Please prepare yourself for some type of grand romantic gesture/public proposal in your adult life. And if you ever do find yourself in need of strong arms to carry you out of somewhere, fear not.

And I will add that meeting with such a wonderful teacher is a #1 comfort for a nervous mom, and witnessing her enjoyment in teaching is refreshing. And if anyone should write a book of quotes, it should probably be her.

Happy Friday!

Sibling Love

I can still hear the Italian superstition being thrown at me just as I was throwing things at him. “You are going to get paid back for all of this fighting,” my mother would say with a smirk as I screamed, “but he’s touching me!!!” and slammed my body into my brother, 17 months my junior.

Sure, we got along sometimes, like when we drove the car to our neighbors and up the street at ages 13 and 14. And we were the best of friends when pouring ketchup into my sister’s shampoo. Basically, we were best friends when being bad.

But, there were also the days when he knocked all of the stuff out of my locker to make me late for class and I got in trouble. And that other time he listened to my phone conversations and told everyone whom I liked at dinner.

And now I’m a mom, and the best of friends, worst of enemies dance moves to the tune of my mom’s Catholic voodoo curse made and repeated so many years ago.

And while sometimes I think maybe I will go deaf if I hear one more scream over who has more cheese in their quesadilla, other times I pretend I can’t hear them and giggle on the staircase around the corner.

Just to be clear, the following is an actual fight had between my son James, age 3, and daughter, Josie, age 2. The names and identities may get confusing.

“Stop it, Josie!”

“No! You top it, names.”

“I am not your mother any more.”

“No, you are not Names!”

“Say your J’s, Josie!”

“Yay! (Jay) You tut up! Poopy pants!”

“I did not poop! You bum! Just stop being my sister.”

“Biper (diaper)…no, pull up. You are a pull up.”

“Mom! Josie called me a pull-up again! Get her, Rita!”

I wish I could say I intervened with some level of seriousness, but when the meanest thing of which a toddler can think is to call her big brother a pull-up, the brother who confuses his identity and refers to himself as a mother and corrects her to say her J’s and calls upon his 11 month sister to defend his ridiculous battles, seriousness eludes me.

May your Thursday’s be good, and may your homes be devoid of comparisons to diapers.