Monthly Archives: November 2014

Pancakes Are a Finger Food

In my house, pancakes are a finger food. Simply put, I just can’t be bothered with extra utensils at breakfast time. They really aren’t necessary …. they just end up on the floor, get covered with syrup, stuck in hair or to the carpet, and run a risk of ending up in the garbage when the wee ones clear their plates.

Manners. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

As parents, we do our best to teach our children right from wrong in all aspects of life. (Well, most of us do.) We have all been raised differently, we all have different values and beliefs. I believe in pick your battles and kids will be kids. I know, at the end of the day, I have taught them to say please, thank you, and you’re welcome. I have taught them to put the toilet seat down, look down and aim, hang your coat up, and put your shoes in the closet. I have taught them to put dirty clothes in the hamper, hang towels up in the bathroom after they’re done with it, and not to wipe their noses on their sleeves or their fingers on their pants. The reality is I still have to remind them of all of this all of the time, with the exception of please, thank you, and you’re welcome. I have incredibly polite children who occasionally get caught with their fingers in their food. (Zachary is the worst offender ….. even rice.)

Four kids with four very different personalities. Aidan has the temper and for a while it was really tough to handle. At age nine he threw major tantrums, and at first I felt like I was failing but then a little research showed I was not alone. Trial and error and we seemingly broke him of it, or he outgrew it, and now it’s a bad memory. (He did huff and puff his way through dinner the other night, with a few tears, but at least he wasn’t rolling around on the floor.) He’s also my most affectionate child, always asking for hugs, holding his siblings hands, and cuddling on the couch.

Zachary is a tough one to crack. Very smart, very serious. He jokes about not having a sense of humor but I think it’s much more that he can’t escape the reality of things. Lately, he’s taken to sarcasm and can come out with some great one liners, so progress is being made. He isn’t much of a hugger but I see improvement there, too, and he would rather sleep on the floor in my room if he’s sick than in the bed. He’s been known to give a certain man in my life a tough time but I’ve yet to figure out if it’s his attempt at humor/sarcasm or him being protective and territorial of me. (Rumor has it I gave my step father a tough time when he was first in our lives …… if I was testing him, he passed!) Zach has never thrown a tantrum because they could always be stopped with, “Do you want to get in trouble like Aidan did?!”

Cassie is very smart, mature and sensitive. She will ask for a hug only because you just gave one to someone else. We call her, “Me, too…” as she has to have what everyone else has. I am constantly telling her it’s ok to have different things, to get the cup with a little less juice, or the blue plate instead of the green one, and she always says, “Ok, mom,” and then will get upset all over again the next time she feels left out in any way. She’s giggly, cries when you reprimand her because she doesn’t like doing anything wrong, and likes to tell her brothers what to do. (She is one minute older than Cameron and will never let him forget it.) She is ridiculously polite and tantrum free.

Cameron is my baby. He is cuddly, affectionate, and is really starting to come into his own. He has always lagged behind his sister developmentally but is starting to stand up for himself and find his strengths. He loves to dance, is always moving, and his nose has been running for six years. He loves food, not sweets, and needs to be reminded to get a tissue. He is always proud of his accomplishments and loves to talk about his days at school. He talks his way through problems, like how to avoid getting the syrup on his sleeves, and then gets syrup on his sleeves. He and Aidan need to get dogs once they are on their own so the floors get cleaned after they’re done eating. He is ridiculously polite and tantrum free.

I read all these articles and posts about parents who say their kids never had a tantrum, or discipline is the answer to everything, and kids these days have no respect and it’s all their parents’ fault. I say get off your high horses and stop being so critical. With the exception of Aidan’s fourth grade year, my children are exceptionally well behaved in school and respectful of their elders. (And with all do respect, the woman was a nightmare teacher and turned her students into monsters.) I am constantly told how polite they are in public, how well mannered and behaved in restaurants, and yet I often feel as if they are not because they are simply doing things kids do and other adults are way too critical of that! I always take the time to smile at that other parent whose child is in the midst of a tantrum in public and say, “We’ve all been there.”

So, I’m not sure why I wrote this. I guess it’s because this morning they ate pancakes with their fingers and we talked about how you can’t do that in public, just at home, and we smiled and laughed at our little private rebellion. Maybe I wrote it because I needed to think about something other than a very big decision I have to make that will impact my children tremendously.  Maybe I wrote it because today is one of those days when I’m saying, “I need wine, or Xanax, or maybe both …..” but will have neither and instead substitute it with frozen yogurt sundaes for dinner and I’ll let them lick the bowls.

Ok, I’ll have one glass after they’re in bed.

Thank you, Barbara Walters …..

When I was thirteen years old, I watched a report that Barbara Walter’s did on Romanian orphanages. I was truly moved by what I saw and I asked my mother if we could adopt one of the children. At almost 40, and with four of her own children, my mother said we could not, but someday, when I was old enough, I could adopt a child myself. I pretty much decided right there in that moment that someday I would do just that.

My second husband, Andy, will often recall our 3rd dinner date in which I declared adoption was something I had to do with my life and was non-negotiable. (I was 29 at the time ….. he was not …. and if babies were in the plans we probably needed to address it sooner than later.) Adoption aside, I still wanted more children, and simply put, I wasn’t about to waste time dating a man who had no intentions of expanding on his family. Perhaps I was forward, but I was passionate about following through with a promise I made to myself, and an unborn child, 15 years earlier.

As luck would have it, biological children were not an option with Sir Andy, and he seemed to be supportive of my desires and understood my need to be upfront about my future plans. (In retrospect, he might have just said yes to keep the younger woman in his life at the time ….) Fast forward two years to January of 2008 and we had begun our adoption journey.

It’s a brutal process. I researched agencies, adoption requirements as dictated by various countries, and we began our home study. Ultimately, we decided to pursue a domestic adoption for a baby girl of any ethnicity. (Our house was already crawling with testosterone ….. I needed to even out the playing field a little.) The agency was unsure of what to make of our situation, 4 kids already between us, and said they weren’t sure how receptive birth mothers would be to our family profile. (Most other couples looking to adopt had either no children or perhaps one ….) I put together what I thought was a great family profile and we were paperwork ready by the end of June. On August 20, 2008, about 8 months after starting the process, we received a call about a birth mother in Ohio the agency wanted to submit us to. She was 21 ….. she was having twins. Long story short, she picked us and Cameron and Cassandra were born on September 25, 2008, via c-section, while Andy, myself and big brother Zach waited in another room.

People often ask questions about the birth/hospital experience. The twins’ birth mother was extremely overweight, homeless, unemployed, young, and already parenting another set of twins she had when she was 18. She was very sweet, child-like, and at peace with her decision. She did not know our last name and the adoption was considered semi-open. I stayed with her in the hospital the first two nights following the birth. We took turns feeding them, talked about names and I learned about her family while she learned more about ours.

Did she cry? The only time I saw her cry was when she was in pain and getting out of bed in the middle of the night. She was very affectionate with the babies, cuddling them and talking to them sweetly. She called them her “little boos” and kissed their feet and tiny hands. I have photos of her with each of them in their rooms. She was a brave, emotionally strong young woman who wanted her babies to have a life she, at that time, could not provide.

I know her name, how to find her, and sent pictures on several occasions. We have not spoken since the twins were almost one. We decided that when the twins are nearing 18 years of age, should they want to contact her, we will reach out and arrange for that to happen. Cameron and Cassandra understand the concept of adoption but are not quite old enough to ask the tough questions. When Cassie was 4 she asked why her skin is different than mine. I showed her the photos and said she had grown in “her” belly and since she had brown skin, so did Cameron and Cassandra. At this point, it is just accepted that they grew in her belly and she wanted them to be with us.

November is National Adoption Month. I’m an advocate for domestic adoptions as we have so many children here in our country that need families. There is a false belief that choosing a domestic adoption means long wait times, and perhaps, for some, that is true. A little research and an open heart can go a long way in speeding up the process. Anyone looking for resources or more information on adoption can feel free to contact me ….. I’m happy to share more.

I’m sure I will post more about what I call “My Modern Family” on many occasions. The tough questions will come, and I hope I’m equipped to handle them. Family is family, no matter how we all come together. I am truly proud of how mine came to be, and forever grateful to the women who helped create it.

Thoughts on Aging ….

Here in my house, or in the car, the grocery store, at a restaurant, or while shopping, we often play the How Old Are You, Mommy game. My nine year old is by far the smartest in the group, he gets that from me, because he was always quick to say 29. Last year he said I should start going with 31 so we upped it past the 30 mark, most of the time. (Baby steps ….) Last week, while shopping with the twins, we were counting by twos in the bread aisle. When we got to 28 I declared that was my age. Cassandra laughed and said I could be 28 today but not next week because it would be my birthday and I’ll have to get older. (Freaking kids destroying my dreams.) There was one other person in the aisle with us, listening to the very animated conversation. I would say he was about 40 and single because he had a basket full of easy to prepare items. He was laughing with us.

I said, ok, let’s go with 28. Cassie said let’s pretend today is your 28th birthday and then you can have another one next week. Cameron said we needed to get party hats. Cassie wanted to pick out some cupcakes. I wanted to be back living in Florida where they sell wine in the grocery store.

I’m going to throw my sister under the bus here and blame her for my struggle with my birthday this year. She’s hitting 40 soon, and that means I’m not all that far behind. When did this happen?!?! In my mind I do not feel I’m a day over 31. My other sister is turning 30 in December, my brother just hit 26, and I think I’ll just round down and join them. Actually, I hate even numbered birthdays. Those are the worst. I can handle one that ends with a 1, 3, 5, 7, or 9 ….. but 2, 4, 6, and 8 can shove it. (0 is just sort-of a reality … neither here nor there …. embrace it.)

I have chosen to work in a business where I feel women in their 40’s look younger than those of us in our 30’s. (Not me of course, I am the fountain of youth.) Plastic surgery, fillers, creams …. a lot of $$$$ to defy gravity and most in their 40’s are pulling out all the stops to compete with the younger crowd. I am all for doing whatever makes you comfortable and happy with yourself. I have yet to be botoxed, juvedermed, restylaned. Truth be told, I am deathly afraid of any cosmetic procedure involving the face. For now, I stay out of the sun and use some skin care products, most from the drug store, that I swear by and seem to be working. When the time comes to up the protocol a little, I’d like to go to Susan Lucci’s surgeon and not Joan River’s. Lucci looks exactly like she did 30 years ago. Her doc knows how to do it right. Rivers morphed into something else, pulled and tucked in ways that completely changed her appearance. (And I love Joan, may she rest in peace, but if she hadn’t been cremated I think her face would have stayed the same for all eternity, kind-of like a McDonald’s hamburger lost under the backseat of a car, only to be resurrected when you trade it in.)

I also keep myself feeling young by dating older. I haven’t dated a guy in his 30’s since I was in my 20’s. (I did venture back into the 20’s for a little while …. go me.) I do not particularly enjoy 80’s music, I never went to prom with someone in a blue tux, and my date never spent more time on his hair than I did mine. It’s a lot of fun to say, “No, I don’t know this song, ” or “I have no idea what show you’re talking about because I was busy learning to ride a two wheeler, watching Little House on the Prairie,  and going to bed at 8:30.” It’s even more fun to say, “When I’m 75 I will be lunching with the girls in Boca while you’re …. well, you’re probably dead, but know you’ll be with us in spirit.”

So, this Friday I will hit one of those even numbers, dangerously close to 40, and I take comfort in knowing the general public seems not to know how old I really am. (I also think being petite tricks people into thinking I’m younger …. if you’re under 5’3″ you often get labeled as ‘cute’ and I firmly believe people think you haven’t stopped growing yet.) It’s kind-of like leading two separate lives, one as a mom, 38, 4 kids, and juggling all that comes with that and the other as 29 …. er, uh …. 31, reporter/new comedian, and single.

Final thoughts on aging in general ……

Watching my parents age makes me realize age is just a number. 60 is not what it was for our grandparents, 70 is the new 60, but while we appear younger on the outside and our minds tell us we are still young, it scares me that illness can sneak up and snatch our youth away at any age.

We spend our childhoods wishing we were older, and our adulthood wishing we were younger. Let the kids be kids but kick them out when they’re 25 and force them into adulthood.

My twenty year high school reunion is coming up. That snuck up on us fast! I will be bringing a date who will be close to his 30 year reunion to ease the pain a little.

In many ways, I have enjoyed my 30’s so much more than my 20’s. Sure, both decades will have had their great moments, their highs and their lows, but as a woman, being in my 30’s has been liberating. I am still figuring out who I am, allowing myself to try new things and take chances, and once I hit the 40’s I will continue to do the same.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, my back hurts and I need to take some Motrin before I put on my high boots, get my nails and hair done, and travel into NYC to play the part of comedienne. I will then proceed to have two glasses of wine, struggle to stay awake on the train ride home, and wake up with a headache saying, “I’m too old for this crap.”