Tooth Fairy, out!

Tink is 11, but she is still losing teeth. Tonight, she decided her semi-loose molar needed to go and yanked it out of her head before bed. As she was rinsing out her mouth in the bathroom sink, I was holding the bloody tooth. I thought about how I really wanted to go to bed.

Tink is a horrible sleeper and usually won’t fall asleep until after 10pm. She also wakes up easily and then won’t go back to sleep without a big production number involving crying, worrying, springing repeatedly from bed, all backed up by the exhausted stumblings of two parents.

She already knows about the tooth fairy. She figured that out over a year ago when IT Guy left a rolled up dollar bill under her pillow tied with a twisty tie. (“That’s just not something the Tooth Fairy would do!” she said the next morning.) She also knows about the Easter Bunny. I’m sure she knows about Santa, but she’s not quite ready to admit to that yet.

We’ve continued on with the tooth under the pillow up to this point, but honestly, I’m ready to be done. I looked at the bloody tooth in my hand and calculated how long I would have to stay up to get the thing back into my hand in the wee hours of the night.

I said, “How about we do the tooth fairy now?”

She said, “But I like the tooth fairy, even though I know. I like keeping the childhood magic alive.”

I wasn’t ready to give up.

“How about you get double the money if we do it now? Childhood magic or cash?” I said.

“Childhood magic,” she said, and held out her hand for the tooth.

I dropped it into her palm, and she looked down at it.

“Ewwww! It still has some gum on it! I don’t want this thing under my pillow! I’ll take the cash!” she said.

So I paid her and now everyone gets to sleep tonight.

Tooth Fairy, out!

Let him fall?

“Don’t fall!”

You’ve been saying it from the moment he moved without you. He would drag his  chubby body across the floor with his forearms like a baby commando. When he came too close to the top of the stairs, you would dart forward, grab him and swoop him up into the safety of your arms.

“I’ve got you.”

When he first pulled himself to his feet – tiny hands gripping the edge of the coffee table – his face a gummy grin of triumph, you sat next to him ready to catch him.

“Be careful!”

When he wanted to walk, you spent hours with his fists wrapped around your fingers, bracing him as he tottered up and down the hall. Then he didn’t need your hands anymore; he careened from one spot to another. You dashed after him, always staying within arms reach, hands outstretched to catch him if he lost his precarious balance.

Then he started to climb and you hovered underneath the monkey bars. He started to ride a tricycle, and you buckled a helmet on his head. You trotted behind his bike when he moved to a two-wheeler, keeping pace with that arm still outstretched to grab the handlebars if needed.

“Don’t fall!”

As he got older, you stayed farther away, but never too far. Sometimes he tumbled, but you were always close enough to put bandaids on knees and kisses on foreheads.

“Be careful!”

You don’t say “I’ve got you” as much by middle school, when your chubby baby is now all spindly arms, legs, and attitude, but you think it often and with such focus  and feeling that you know he hears you. “I’ve got you.”

“Don’t fall.”

“Let him fail.”

This is what you hear from others by the time he is in high school, when he is getting bad grades and making poor choices and you no longer know what to do. You are still trotting along behind him, arm outstretched, but he slaps your hand away. He is crawling towards the top of the stairs again . . . climbing too high at the playground . . . riding his bike too fast. You can see the fall, even though he doesn’t or won’t. It’s right there.

“Be careful! Don’t fall!”

He won’t listen, and it seems the only thing to do now is let it happen. But you’ve spent 14 years promising him “I’ve got you.”

How can you let him fall?


Beyond Thankful

When I left my mother-in-law’s house early this morning to go workout, all was peaceful.

Early morning chess #thanksgiving

Apparently, that only lasted about 30 minutes. I was on the elliptical when I got a text from IT Guy: “Major meltdown here.”

It seems that the game of choice after chess was scream “I hate you” at your sibling and slam doors until all the adults in the house consider fleeing.

We’ve had a lot of fighting lately – fighting and yelling and attitude. Having a preteen and teenager occupy the same space not a recipe for tranquility.

I decided my kids needed to think about gratitude for a bit. When I got back to the house, I gave them Thanksgiving homework. They had to make a gratitude list to be presented at Thanksgiving dinner, and if they weren’t done thoughtfully, I was confiscating all electronics. I didn’t have a lot of hope that this would lead to a lasting peace, but, at least, it would force them to be grateful for 5 minutes or so.

Pushing gratitude on my kids got me thinking about what I have to be grateful for this year.  The list is immense.

Last Thanksgiving, I was still an adjunct professor. I had failed to land the full-time faculty position I interviewed for in the spring. I was trying to figure out what to do next because I needed to make a living wage, and we needed decent health benefits. Christmas was the usual massive source of financial stress. I was heavier than I had ever been despite my Muay Thai training and achieving my first degree Black Belt. It wasn’t that my life was awful because it wasn’t. But I was still struggling with the same issues that had been unresolved for years – our finances, my lack of career, health benefits, my weight.

And now? A year later?

Everything is different.

In January 2013, I was offered a full-time faculty position. I’m a full-time Assistant Professor of English now. I have a good salary, great benefits, and my own office. I have a career doing something I love to do. This job is a life changer for me and for my family. If you look back to some of the earliest posts on this blog in 2006, they are about my need to find my path. I’ve been searching all this time. This year I found it. It’s not possible for me to express the depth of my gratitude for this job.

Interestingly, also in January, along with job, I finally found a way to lose weight. This is also something I’ve struggled with forever. The first Fitness Challenge at the martial arts studio started in January. There isn’t anything obviously magic about the Challenge. Log your food. Watch your calorie intake. Exercise. I’ve tried all of this before, but this time, for some reason, everything clicked. The weight loss has been slow, but from January to now, I have lost 33 pounds. I feel like myself again.

It’s been an amazing year.  I am eternally grateful for all of my good fortune.

Thanksgiving 2013

And for these turkeys, too. Even when all they do is fight, I am always grateful for them.

Bonus points to anyone who can name the band and song being played through my daughter’s nose

I have been grading papers all day. I started this morning. I am still sitting in the same chair and the sun is now going down. My brain is slowly liquefying (along with my butt. I really need a treadmill desk . . . and an office big enough to hold it. . .  and a house big enough to hold the office . . . etc, etc, etc.)

Anyhow, liquid brain and numb butt are happening, so when Tink comes up behind me and says, “Mom, look!” and I look, I don’t immediately register what I’m seeing.

Am I doing this wrong?

Hesitantly, I say, “Um, sweetie. I think you’re doing that wrong.”

“No, wait,” she says. “You have to listen.”

And then this happens. (You’ll need your sound turned up to fully appreciate this.)

YouTube Preview Image

This is the child who is applying to an honors middle school program. Perhaps this counts as a science experiment on how sound works . . . or how noses work . . . . . maybe?

Just a regular old Sunday around here.

Post script:

Me: “You’re going to go wash those earbuds now, aren’t you?”

Tink: “Well, I wasn’t, but I guess I’m going to now. . . . ”

I’m such a proud mother.

Bonus points for anyone who can name the band and the song just by hearing it played through my daughter’s nose.


(I already published this video on Facebook because I have no impulse control, so I apologize if you’ve already seen it there and here I am posting it again as a blog post as if it was new and wonderful content. But I’ve been grading papers all day, so absolutely NOTHING else of interest has happened. Nothing. This is the most exciting thing that has happened to me all day. Really.)

All dressed up

IT Guy and I got all dressed up this evening and we actually had someplace to go. . . .  an awards ceremony for the media industry. There were a number of good things about this. It’s 11:48pm, though, so I’m going with a bulleted list here.

  • We looked good. I was able to wear a dress that I last fit into 12 years ago. I didn’t think I would ever be able to wear it again, but I did. I wore it again tonight.

We clean up ok.

  • IT Guy won an award for a video he edited.
  • I got to dress up and be escorted around by my handsome husband all night. Somehow hearing him say, “This is my wife” when he introduces me still hasn’t gotten old, even though we’ve been married for 18 years.


  • I wore heels! I almost never wear heels because, no matter how cute the pump, I always eventually want to saw off my feet. But tonight I wore 5 inch heels anyway. I actually made it for 4 hours before my feet started to demand amputation. Luckily, it was time to go, so I leaned heavily on IT Guy’s arm on the walk to the car. Once in the car, I immediately ditched the fancy heels for equally fancy (and yet infinitely more comfortable) UGGS.

Sometimes I even wear heels....


I don’t know. I think they kinda went with the dress.

Parenting: Some evidence that I occasionally get it right

As a parent, I spend approximately 90% of the time feeling like I don’t know what I’m doing.

There are those rare moments when I know I must be doing something right, though. I got one of those moments tonight.

See this photo booth strip that Tink created at the movie theatre tonight? In particular, please regard the 3rd image of her as a knight. See that face?

I’m totally doing something right with this kid.

Photostrip of Silliness

Adventures in Eyeliner Continued

Learning to use eyeliner is not easy . . . as in seriously challenging. . . as in “You’ll poke your eye out, kid.”
YouTube Preview Image


I’m trying to figure out the appropriate safety gear he needs for his second attempt.

I think he’s going to have to let the girls at school keep putting it on for him for awhile because I’m pretty sure this is not the finished look he was going for.


The results of his first eyeliner lesson


Then again, you never can tell with Ace. . . .

Rainbow Emo

Ever since the start of high school, Ace has been mentioning “scene kids,” how this or that new friend is “scene,” and now, today, how he himself is “scene.”

Scene kid?

“Do you know what I’m talking about, Mom?” Ace asked.

“Nope. Not a clue,” I answered.

Ace decided to educate me.

“So a scene kid is really into music . . . like screamo and hardcore stuff. They’re kind of emo, but with a lot of bright colors, like neon skinny jeans and stuff like that,” he explained.

“Like Rainbow Emo?” I queried.

“Yeah, that’s kind of it,” he said.

Ok, then. Rainbow Emo. Why not? It certainly sounds like Ace’s already existing music and style. At least it’s more colorful than the all black that was my customary uniform in high school.

Oh, and today we started with eyeliner. This is also apparently part of scene.

When Tink and I got home from school, Ace came to the door, and his eyes were ringed with red like he been punched in both eyes.

“What happened to your eyes?” Tink asked.

“A bunch of my friends decided I would look good with eyeliner, so they sat on me and put eyeliner on me,” he laughed.

I looked closely. Yep, I could see a black outline smudged around the edges of his eyes.

“Until you are used to makeup, it will make your eyes water and get irritated ,” I told him.

“They said they are going to do it again tomorrow because they think it looks good on me,” he said this cautiously, while giving me a sideways glance, trying to figure out what I would say about my son wearing eyeliner.

“I don’t care if you wear eyeliner,” I said. “Half my male friends in the 80s wore eyeliner. It’s hardly anything new. You might get hassled for it though.”

“I know. I don’t care.,” he said, grinning at me.

He wants me to teach him how to put eyeliner on tomorrow before school.. . . my Rainbow Emo boy.

NaBloPoMo made me write this

It’s 11:48pm. I have been grading papers for several hours. I still have 9 to go before I can sleep.

I must finish the grading. I must sleep.

This is me phoning it in.

Today I win parenting!

Today, I successfully made Ace clean his room.

I cannot emphasize enough the monumentous nature of this achievement. Yesterday, his floor was completely covered from wall to wall with an ankle deep layer of discarded clothes, books, old binders, crumpled notebook paper, underwear, empty plastic bottles, Cheezit boxes, flattened Cliff Bars, broken action figures, stuffed animals, CD cases, comic books, approximately 1,000 socks, pens, tools, more clothes, too small Halloween costumes, an ancient collection of Pokemon cards, wrappers, folded assignment sheets, notebooks from middle school, shoes, towels, rolls of duct tape, and even more old food.

I’m pretty sure it qualified as a biohazard.

Yesterday, when getting out of bed, Ace stepped down on the layer of crap on his floor, slid, wiped out, and gave himself a bloody nose.

You would think this would lead a person to conclude that their living situation is hazardous and should be cleaned up. You would be wrong.

What it does do, however, is act as the final straw for your mother who shows up in your room the next day with an armful of black, Hefty bags and a determined expression. The room would be clean if it killed us both.

Tonight, when Ace went to bed, he walked across his bedroom with his feet touching the actual floor. You can see his blue rug. He’s allowed to have the space heater in his room again because his room is no longer a fire hazard.

Tonight, I go to bed secure in the knowledge that I HAVE WON! HA HAHAHA HA! I WON PARENTING!

(I’m going to enjoy it because I’ll be lucky if it lasts until 6am.)