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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Mother-naked Gets Married

I woke up wedding day morning with my little space heater, Smirker, pressed up against my back sleeping soundly. She’s slept with me every night at my parent’s house in my childhood room. Too scared to sleep by herself. Love Monster bounded in and ferociously snuggled in. Lying between my second hearts, joy filled my first.

“Is it TODAY??” Love Monster whispered loudly.

Yep it’s today.

Rick asked me to marry him on an average Saturday. The most exciting thing that had happened to me that day was I bought new high-top converse (which is pretty exciting). We saw an afternoon showing of Star Trek: Into Darkness. Went out for some Japanese Hibaci. Fun date night. I should have seen the clues. He was very quiet. Nervous. Then after a little bit of Saporro buzz. He asked. He said he’d ask me a million different times and a million different ways. And he had, but this time he had a ring.

We had both been married before. Our eyes were open. Communication is everything. Love Monster and Smirker were happy. They proclaimed themselves the flower candy girls (because just flowers are BORING) and that was that.

And now the day had come. I’d organized everything as much as possible. There were lists upon lists. Contact sheets. Schedules emailed out. All my stuff to get ready was at my sis in law’s house. We had had a very cool wedding week. Seeing family. Wedding tasks spread over days so they were not overwhelming. I had my first book signing with Grambo’s illustrator!  The Star Trek themed rehearsal dinner. This was shaping up to be the week of my dreams.

I threw on the first pair of wedding shoes of the day and off we go.

First stop the salon where I had gotten my hair done as a kid through high school. Mom and I went in at 7am. The hair dresser I had known since I was a kid greeted us in the empty salon and we listened to some Motown. I opted for an easy peasy blow out. No curls, no big hair. Not my thing. I sipped on tea and checked in on my best friend and her man who flew in the red eye to be there. She made it! I got the instagram proof of her flying in with the Chicago skyline in the background. Yeah! My day would be complete with her there.

Hair done. The girls got adorable waterfall braids. Love Monster was feeling the excitement of the day. She crawled all over me in the salon and I loved it. Smirker was as chill as ever smirking at all the attention that she was getting about how cute she was. And I feel good, calm. I look for the nerves, but they aren’t there. Excitement though is there for sure. I do remember thinking “I’m not really going to feel that different after. Rick and I are already committed to each other.” But we’ll come back to that later….

My brother arrives to play chauffer and  take me to stop number two, he and his wife’s place to get ready. Let’s just put it out there. Liz is the best maid of honor in all the land. Here is why:

·      1. She had snacks ready. I need snacks.
·      2. She gave me the coolest gift. (John Green!)

·     3.  She hung my dress on a hanger that says Mrs. Hoff. Fun. (I really wanted something Pinterest worthy!)

One of my oldest friends came over and did my make up (I can say “old” because she called me out my wrinkles while doing my eyes. :p) She did a beautiful job and only scoffed at my supply of make-up a couple times.

Kevin Von Qualen, my friend and photographer, came over to take come getting ready pics. He had the most amazing vibe. Super calm and cool. The best photog around in my opinion.

The girls came over and got dressed in dresses made by their Gigi. They looked gorgeous in seemingly vintage dresses and accessorized in their candy necklaces.

I put on my dress and chiffon and lace Sarah Seven strapless number. Super romantic, which I love, but I had to edge up with Lincoln Park after dark deep purple (black) nail polish and sparkly platform shoes. These were the original shoes I was going to wear, but after practicing in them for weeks I realized these knock offs were made terribly and there was no way I’d last ten minutes in them. So here they are looking pretty and useless.

My friend Corie gave me a beautiful vintage brooch necklace to wear also. AND I found this amazing 1950’s purse on etsy for 20 bucks. My flower crown was put in my hair. I was successfully transformed into the edgy fairy bride.

We were coifed and ready. Let’s jump in the limo.

The girls reaction to the limo was priceless. They were most impressed that snacks and drinks were available and that there was a TV. (Let’s put on Frozen!)

Our ceremony and reception were at Meson Sabika. One of Rick and I’s first dates was there and they have the most yummy tapas and sangria. We pulled up. I saw through the limo's tinted windows loved ones gathering. We snuck around back and I hid in the hallway. We planned a few moments for a first look (And I secretly thanked God that Rick was in the vicinity and not late. Love you babe!). It was a bit of a relief to see him. Both of us were cool, calm, collected. I think no one would guessed we were getting married (except for the fairly obvious wedding costuming of course). We took some photos in the old mansion that makes up the restaurant then departed ways

“See you at the end of the aisle."

The girls , Liz and I hopped in the limo one last time to take me behind a giant pine tree where I would make my entrance. We arrived to find two of the four ring bearers (don’t ask) not quite so sure about their task…. One of my nephews was taken absolved  of his responsibilities (I know it's hard being 3, Henry! Believe me I get it.) and the other had the very apparent “Eh. Nope.” look on his face and went down the aisle carried by my sis in law. The girls did a beautiful job dropping flower petals marking my path. Sting’s Secret Marriage began playing and dad walked me down the aisle. I was brimming over. Good friends and amazing family surrounded us as I walked into a beautiful garden. The weather was perfect, a little humid, but after a threat of rain all week it’s all good. I took Rick’s hands and all was right with everything. The ceremony was perfect. My cousin wrote a poem that he recited. Here is a snippet:

“I carry a quiver across my back
arrows touched with the aroma of flora
and the quickness of citrus
the plain ringing of an open note.”

I’m not going to put the whole poem here. For some reason its feels too sacred to transcribe here. I think I want to keep it for us and for all who witnessed it. It was perfect and beautiful.

My aunt and uncle sang “All I Ask Of You.” A usual for them. (They performed in Phantom of the Opera for years in the touring company.) It brought me to tears.

Speaking of tears. I saw Rick tear up three times. He said he wouldn’t cry. Boom!!! Anyway….

“The pastor (the Chaplin from the hospital my mom had worked at) had wise words. He spoke about how marriage is not 50/50. It’s 100%. Of course it is, but wow that really struck me. We spoke traditional vows. I think it was Liz who said earlier that week that she liked that. There was something about millions of people saying the same thing before you. I couldn’t agree more.

Pastor Mark recited to us things we had written to him about what we loved about each other. Rick mentioned how it was really meant a lot him that I knew his dad before he passed away. I spoke about Nerd Love. His was better then mine. Though I did make mention how he is so amazing with my girls. That means everything. We squeezed hands all throughout the ceremony.

Remember when I thought I wouldn’t feel too different after? Well I was wrong. I felt so full of love and everything about our relationship with each other and everyone else was richer. It was different and wonderful. And it’s continued since that day. I know it won’t always be easy, but the love is there. It’s solid. I told him also I think he’s more handsome now that he’s my husband. Marriage goggles. It’s like beer goggles, but better.

The ceremony ended with a sing along to All You Need is Love, LM and Smirker ran up and brought us little stuffed heart presents they got out of a quarter toy machine and  all the guests and Rick and I took a group picture.

Then the reception! Tapas and sangria were plentiful. We cut our Zombie cake. Yep Zombie cake. The reaction was either; COOL! Or yes that is interesting, but hey WE loved it. Zombie Hunters Forever! The girls had a My Little Pony flower girl cake that they cut as well.

Kids got gift bag that were full of sugar. The girls floated around the party, little fairies armed with Polaroid cameras. I still don’t know how they got this picture.

We visited with our guests. Aunts, uncles, friends, grandma. Rick’s mom, who is a wonderful woman. A wonderful wonderful mother in law. Even though she thought she had Dallas hair. She looked gorgeous. LM and Smirker hung on their older cousins that they had just met for the first time like long lost sisters. The youngest in attendance, Esther (Estie for short) was her adorable little two month old self. I couldn’t stop touching her perfect baby feet. What is it with baby feet?? I kept stealing glances with my mom. Yes mom I’m happy. I’m in love. Thank you for loving and worrying about me. I’m okay. I really am. That goes for you too dad (The coolest cat in the room.) And the illustrator of Grambo (My picture book) Betsy was also there and she insisted I open her wedding gift there. Boy am I glad I did!!! How cool is this. Grambo gets married.

Rick’s brother and best man, Rob, gave a speech about second acts (I teared up again.) and my maid of honor gave an equally tear worthy speech and read different pieces of advice from family members.

Smirker ate her cake like a princess (She transformed into ultra girlie girl this week. She insisted on make up for the wedding.) Love Monster was a tornado of fun taking bites of the cake when she had the time.

The guests left with our secret sangria recipe (don’t forget to invite us over!) and hopefully a love buzz.

We took more photos during which time I realized my feel were killing me and I couldn’t wait to take off my shoes.

We left Meson Sabika for a little hotel break before the after party. (We can’t stop now!)

Rick and I drove there in his mom’s car and got many congrats from strangers in the parking lot. Everyone loves a bride and groom. I should wear my dress out to just get glowing looks and free stuff.

I tried to nap in our amazing suite (thanks mom and dad!), but was too excited, too full of adrenaline.

For the after party of wore the dress, my converse and jean jacket. The girls are having a Lego Movie pizza party in my mom and dad’s room with the babysitters and cousins. I know they are having fun and I love this fun adult time, but I miss them. I can’t wait to have a little girlie time.

The after party was a blast at the pub. Slider burger bar, beer and a thunderstorm.

The after after party continued on in the hotel lounge. We were down to our close group of friends. Drinking continued. I demanded drunken marriage advice that I will not share here, but it was goooooood. Finally it came down to Rick and I and our best friends. There was so much love in the room it was palpable. Love them all.

We went to our room to find Champagne and chocolate covered strawberries that we wouldn’t touch. Didn’t need anymore alcohol at that point. I took a 1am bath because the bathtub was too huge not to used. And we feel asleep. Married.

I woke up with the urge to write. And with no hangover which was shocking. Cold water was left in the bathtub. My flower crown was draped on the unused champagne bottle.  

I wrote notes upon notes on the hotel notepads. Details about the day so I wouldn’t forget. I realized I left my bouquet in the lounge, but luckily they had put it in water behind the bar. I let my husband sleep and went to my parent’s room. I needed some snuggles from my girls. They were tired from staying up late, but smiling with their eyes closed like little loons.

The weekend was perfect. And I know it doesn’t end here. The work will continue to make this marriage great. I will give 100%.

My parent’s were generous enough to get a hotel room that night downtown Chicago. The James Hotel was awesome. Rick had to borrow my socks because he forgot his (This is marriage. I give 100%!). We ate the most luxurious dinner at Lawry’s.  Totally old school Chicago. Served prime rib cut at the table. Our server Ms. Raskin had worked there for 30 years and sang to us because we had just gotten married. She made us promise we’d come back on anniversaries.

Rick and I started punching rings and saying Wonder Twin powers unite. We’re dorks.

So that's the story. I did mainly write it for myself. To remember. Writing solidifies things for me. I hope it brought you some smiles.

Love. Double love.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Don't Forget to Like and Comment!

Oh my god you guys. No plans tonight? Nothing on TV? No worries.  I got you covered. Tuck in the kids. Pour yourself a glass of wine and grab your ipad and/or Iphone And check out the photos and videos the kids have made when you weren’t watching. Some one the best entertainment you will ever see. For real.

My fiancé and I did this the other night and we laughed until we peed.

The photos/videos fell into one of the following categories:

·       5% Coughing- Anyone and everyone get captured doing this. For some reason this seems important to get on camera. (My coughing face is super sexy by the way.)
·       10 % Me on my phone- Yeah. It’s probably a sign I need to put that shit down.
·       20% Super close up on their faces- Extreme close ups seem the go to camera angle for kids. They are cute faces but I really don’t need to see up your nose.
·       30% Butts (clothed don’t worry)- “Now your turn!” “Now your turn!” (This where I started to lose bladder control.)
·      10 % The TV- Because a video of a TV playing a video is awesome.
·      5% Peppa Pig impersonations- They kind of nailed this. Their English accents are awesome.
·      20 % Practicing their toy bin/egg surprise youtube videos

Okay we need to talk about these toy bin/egg surprise youtube videos.

Are you aware of these? Basically they are videos of people opening toys, showing you toy and playing with the toys. My kids are into watching videos of people playing with toys. Yep. Ummmm. That’s bad right? They are obsessed with these videos so much that they now make them. And they are hilarious. The videos on the iPad are ten minutes long each. And as for me, I’m wandering around the background of these videos making dinner usually. Love Monster (sometimes with her side-kick Smirker) perfectly props up the iPad  and “unwraps” toys and describes them for the viewer. They end the video with the usual “Don’t forget to like and comment!” I don’t think they know what that means. My favorite part in one of the videos was  I called out ‘Time for dinner!” in the background when Love Monster was in the middle of her spiel.

She leaned in really close to the iPad camera and said this. “Sorry guys that’s my mom.” And you know the tone. She nailed it. Never felt more like a mom then in that moment.  

I wasn’t the only one who got that treatement. Smirker would be dancing in the background bored of these videos and LM would say, “That’s my crazy sister.”

Well if that wasn’t the best entertainment with a bottle of wine in a while I don’t know what is.

What have I learned from this experience?

The girls know the internet too well. I need to keep vigilant on that shit.
My girls hare hilarious. I knew this already but this confirmed it.
They are great on camera. Again this isn’t good. I don’t think.
We need to not watch youtube. How about actually playing with toys? Or even going outside. Yeah let’s try that.
And the big one, during dinner I should pay attention more. They are doing stuff. Good thing I at least have the parental controls on those things! And also, they are extra super hilarious and amazing when you aren’t watching. I think one of the fun things about watching these is they are being authentically themselves. And they are awesome.

Happy watching! Please report back what you find.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Letting Them Fail: When to hang up the super mom cape

I jump to Love Monster’s defense a lot. I always have. I knew early on that her impulse control issues were more then the average 2 or 3 year old. My suspicions were confirmed after a few therapists agreed she presented the symptoms of ADHD and sensory issues. So I’ve jump to her defense when the word bully was thrown around. But over the last few years she’s made astounding progress. She knows how to control her impulses much better. But sometimes issues pop up and surprise me, reminding me she has trouble with it sometimes. I am particularly protective of her. I feel like she is misunderstood at times. I wish I could morph into super-mom in a killer teal and white full body leotard and shoot protection candy coating out of my wrists and shield my daughters with a wall of their favorite bubble gum flavored candy. Pew! Mean kid. Pew! Bad spelling test. Pew! That curb that came out nowhere. They would think I was so cool. Forget that negative craziness. Look kids! Candy! Pew! Pew! I love making that noise.

I was scared a lot I think as a kid. Besides of the usual no ones likes me, I suck at everything worries I had, I was fairly sure the wave pool would be my demise. And the dark. Of course. But now I’m older and I’m not quite as scared and I just stay away from stupid wave pools and I become super mom with the protecting candy coating power. I don’t want them to have that fear. So I do my best to not let them fail. That was my biggest fear. Bigger then the wave pool. Failing.

Recently I was talking to someone. Love Monster was playing behind the person I was talking to. She locked eyes with me, smiled a sweet smile and snuck over and blew the biggest raspberry in this someone’s face. This person was pissed. Very pissed. Should LM have done that? No. Did she mean to do something bad? Nope. She was having fun and showing her love. I corrected her (I know you do not spit in people's faces), but I also knew her intent. And when her face crumbed not understanding that she did something wrong, I went into super mom mode, but my super candy coating power was too late.

“When I was six I knew better,” my friend said wiping spit off their face.

“She has issues!” I said back very upset.

And though this is true, it got me thinking.

I won’t always be there to jump to her defense.

Protecting Love Monster (and Smirker for that matter) from failure or making mistakes is not always the right thing to do. They are not always going to get things right. (Duh. They insist on proving this point constantly.) They need to learn how to take responsibility for themselves. This may be super obvious to you. Maybe it should be to me, but after years of seeing people misinterpret my daughter, my protectiveness became an impulse.  And shielding her from the consequences became the norm.

Letting your kids fail…. A necessary lesson? I think so. Sometimes. I don’t want to see it. I don’t want to watch. But the magic is in the after.

I read on another blog, "Failure is an opportunity to get your child to look at himself."

I really liked that. We see our kids failing as this horrible thing. She’s gonna hate herself. Self-esteem is everything. The pain on their faces. No way. I don’t want that. But thinking about it as an opportunity. An opportunity to look at themselves…. and learn. Even instill self confidence and self-appreciation. So when you aren’t there and they fail, they will be equipt to no only deal with it, but grow from it. I’ve made countless mistakes. I must be one incredible human being. (I kid! But man have I learned a lot.)

Love Monster can handle it now. I know she can. She’s smart and stronger then I give her credit for.

2 out of 10  on the spelling test? No not going to ask the teacher if she can take it again. That’s what she got and it’s okay that she won’t get her treat this week for doing well. We’ll practice the words and next time it will be better.

Next time she acts out, I won’t jump to her “issues” to being the cause. Yes the issues exist, but so does the smart growing girl who is learning how to control them.

But hell if I ever let them near a wave pool.

I trust my non-crazy instincts will know when I really should interfere. And when I shouldn’t, I will restrain my super mom powers and let my girls develop super powers of their own. But I will still pew the hell out of that mean kid. And by pew I mean kill em with ever lovin’ kindness. The extra gooey kind.

                                        This was the best super mom type picture I have.
                                         Battlestar Galactica Viper pilot, Code name: Fox 
                                                        San Diego Comic Con 2013
                                                          Yep I'm nerdy so what???

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

My plan to get my girls to talk to me when they are teenagers

Oh you’re already laughing. I can tell. Shut up! I’m serious. I’m going to make this happen. Hear me out, ‘kay?

Growing up I was about as open as Cersi in Game of Thrones. I look back and wish things were different with my parents. Particularly my mom. I was not easy to say the least. I was an enigma as only a teenage daughter can be. Why did I shut down? I don’t know. I felt when they asked me how my day was, it was prying. When they said, “Let’s talk.” The walls went up hard core. I always felt like it was scheduled. Now is the time you tell us all the intimate details of your life and we will judge you and tell you your choices are wrong.  Now of course I know that's not true. My parents are the nicest, most loving people. But from a teenager’s perspective the parents are the enemy. They are the people hindering you from growing up. You are their kid. Forever their kid.

So now.… what can I do so this doesn’t happen with my girls? And I have two of me. Oy. Is it too much to ask for the Lorelai/Rory relationship?? Probably. I already see the signs. I ask them what they did at school, they say they don’t want to talk about it. They go to their room and don’t want me to come in. In fact Love Monster was mad at me the other day because I asked her to practice her spelling words. (I really am such a tyrant.)  She ran to her room and slammed the door. I didn't follow her so she re-slammed the door to make sure I got the message. Geez.

What can I do?

I will listen to them. When they talk, I listen.

I will not judge them. Be open.

I will tell them every day that they are important. And I will show them everyday that they are important by putting them before my to do lists.

I will sing them the goodnight song every night. “Good night good night again I say good night. I love the Love  Monster/Smirker I love her face. I want to kiss her all over the place.” Then kiss them like crazy.

I will never shame them.

I will compliment them on their smarts and strength not just their beauty.

I will not yell. I will not yell. I will not yell.

I will let them be themselves. Every bit themselves.

I will not make talking intimidating or scheduled. It will be over dinner, folding laundry, walks to the park, everywhere and anywhere.

And I will hope that when their clock strikes thirteen the walls will stay down. That they will trust in the foundation we’ve built. And talk to me. And if they don't, know that they will come back to me. And be open and ready when that moment comes.

I really enjoy having a plan by the way. I blame my mom. But you know what happens with best laid plans…. I don’t want them to be like I was. I had an iron wall around me and no one got in. Especially her. My mom. And it didn't feel good. Now to put on some Gilmore Girls and fantasize a bit….