Hasty Buns

We made homemade pie crusts today. And baked homemade rolls. We tossed together some homemade chicken stock; its aroma is filling the house with anticipatory joy. My nine-year-old wanted dumplings, so we whipped up homemade pot stickers, too. And dipping sauce. We couldn’t forget that.

But I fear I may be running out of juice. Thanksgiving’s not for another two days, and we basically just made from scratch all the things I usually buy. To balance this, for Thursday, I might just have to buy all the things I usually make. Either that, or serve chicken soup, pie crust, wantons, and rolls.

Also popcorn. I love popcorn.

In the end, of course, I know it doesn’t matter.  Whether we eat turkey and turnips, or popcorn and pot stickers, the food is actually the least important part.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.  May yours be a day of fullness and gratitude.



Irritation + Laughter = Children

Kiddos are hard work. It is okay to say that out loud. Like the night when they had the flu AND I had the flu. Hard work. Also disgusting.

Kids are great fun, too. Like the night we turned up “What Does the Fox Say?” and jumped around the living room doing barnyard dances. Even the dog laughed.

But most of the time, moments with children are simultaneously aggravating and funny. It’s all how you look at it. Whether the fart jokes are disgusting or hilarious becomes an exercise in perspective. Like Henry refusing to wear pants this morning. It irritated me because we were supposed to pick Katie up from a sleepover. Instead, my 2-year-old circled the house half-naked yelling, “No Pants! No Pants!” Aggravating? Sure. But funny, too. Just like Katie’s singing at the dinner table yesterday. For whatever reason, for the better part of thirty minutes, she turned all words into song lyrics. Instead of asking me to, “Pass the salt,” it was, “Paaaasss theeee ssssaaaaaalt.” Annoying? Yup. But also funny. Outside of a movie musical or maybe an asylum, who does such things? Only children.

Which leads me to today. Little Lizzie. God bless her. The kid loves pumpkin pie. Not jelly beans. Not cupcakes. Pie. And since we are cooking Thursday’s feast, I thought we should test a recipe or two this weekend. We practiced gravy with the roast chicken, and baked a pie for dessert. The whole house smelled like cinnamon and garlic and butter and love.

It was all Lizzie could do to nibble on her chicken and vegetables, desperately waiting for that pie. While the rest of us were cleaning up dinner, she snuck off and cut herself a slice. The largest slice of pie I have ever seen. It was as big as her head.

When I walked into the dining room, she just sat there looking at me. It was written all over her face. What is Mom going to say? Of course, I was annoyed. While I was scraping plates and loading the dishwasher, she was sneaking dessert. Plus, what kind of child thinks it is okay to just cut into a whole pie? Who does that? I felt a lecture coming on.

But instead, I just looked at her sitting there. She hadn’t even taken a bite yet. She knew it was too big. She knew she should have waited. But the damage was done. And really, what damage? No one was bleeding. It was a pie. And a practice pie at that.

I said, “Lizzie, how come you have your dessert already?”

And she said, “It was an accident.”

So I laughed. I could have grumbled, but I laughed. Because how can you ‘accidentally’ cut pie? She awaited my wrath. And instead, we giggled and ate our dessert. Even though it was annoying, it was also funny. And kind of awesome.

My 5-year-old boldly cut into an entire pie — something I NEVER would have done when I was five. She is brave and fierce and fiery and she makes me crazy sometimes, but man, she also makes me laugh. They all do.  When I see it.  When I let them.



What Vegas Taught Me About My Marriage

I spent last weekend in Las Vegas with my girlfriends. There were the usual shenanigans — the nightclubs, the Blackjack tables, the midnight selfies by the fountain at the Bellagio.

When I arrived home, a smidgen hungover, I was greeted by the following:

• Dental floss stuck to the iPad

• Crazy glue on the kitchen counter

• Two empty boxes of frozen waffles, presumed eaten

• Two bags of salad greens, untouched

• The vacuum cleaner in pieces in the backyard.

As a stay-at-home mom, I often feel entitled to make fun of my husband. How he can never find anything. How he crams unfolded clothes into already full drawers. How he lets the kids eat toast in the bathtub.

Thus, I was not terribly surprised when I came home to household mayhem. After all, it is not often that my husband is alone for days with all three kids.

What I hadn’t counted on were the other discoveries:

• The garage, cleaned and reorganized

• The kitchen floor, swept of Rice Krispies and dog hair

• The kids’ homework folders, emptied and signed

• Three children wearing the same clothes I left them in two days ago, but happy.

That last one, I actually anticipated. My husband may be unorthodox, but he is a great dad.

I know far too many “put-upon mommies.” Wives who begin every conversation complaining about how useless their husbands are. I hardly ever get to go anywhere. My husband never cooks dinner. This gig is exhausting. I have been guilty of this bellyaching, too.

But here’s the thing — it was half my fault. Maybe more. Because when my spouse did help out, I told him he was doing it wrong:

“Lizzie doesn’t like strawberry jam on her sandwich.”

“You can’t put Tupperware lids on the bottom rack of the dishwasher.”

“Henry gets too hot in that blue onesie.”

“Just let me do it.”

When I did slip out for an evening, I would keep one eye on the phone, dashing off a few texts about where the extra diapers were, or how the baby liked the soft, green blankie best. I would tell my friends, “My husband is babysitting tonight,” and make sure not to be out too late.

But my husband is not a babysitter. These are our children. His and mine. When I’m with them, there are often so many toys on the floor that my husband cannot open the front door. And when it’s his turn, I sometimes come home to Legos glued to the counter. But the kids are all right.

I married my husband because he is smart, funny, and great in the sack. That’s how we ended up with these kids. What would it say about our marriage if I did not trust him to care for them?

Besides, Daddy at home means Mommy gets to play.

Ladies, let’s gather for our own poker nights. Let’s plan more Hen weekends. We don’t all need to go to the pumpkin farm or the children’s museum. Sometimes, Dad can take the kids by himself. He might not pack the same vegetables for a snack. He might need to make a quick stop at Walgreens when the baby poops in the car seat. But he can do it.

Here’s to the husbands out there, the sexy, abundantly capable fellows who won our hearts with their charms, and keep our hearts when they vacuum.

They are the fathers of our children. Let’s let them be Dads.



Read more DadvMom on the Huffington Post.


You Say It’s My Birthday?

Another birthday has come and gone.

My children, God bless them, tried so hard.

All day, they squabbled incessantly trying to celebrate me. “No, I want to sit next to Mom!” “But it’s MY turn!” They shoved one another off the couch, and argued over who got to unwrap the presents they offered. The sunscreen. The stapler. The pancake mix.

There were the usual culinary efforts. Lizzie made me a box of macaroni and cheese, her favorite, and then she and Henry ate it themselves.

Katie measured the baking soda for the cupcakes and learned that “not all spoons are teaspoons.” The density of the puck-like cakes notwithstanding, this really was one of her better birthday confections. I much preferred it to the gluten-free pineapple upside-down porridge of a year ago.



This year, the children even gave me some alone time to write, journeying with their father to the 99 Cents Only Store. They returned with provisions for a new activity on the birthday agenda – Spa Time.

The basic rules are these:

1. Plunk Mom in the bathtub with her feet in a cold soak.

2. Slather her in cheap skin products.

3. Smile.

I am a person who eschews bottled fragrances. My children know this. I don’t favor perfumes, body sprays, or scented roll-on deodorants. Hand lotion makes me sweat. And I have never understood aromatherapy, unless is the actual real-life smell of cinnamon rolls or chocolate chip cookies. However, for tonight, my daughters had forgotten all that. And for tonight, I sucked it up. After all, it was my birthday present.

A sampling of the evening’s offerings included:

*Mango bubble bath

*Apricot facial scrub

*Coconut foot lotion

*Almond milk hand cream

*Lemon butter cuticle cream

*Mint chocolate lip balm

*And a lavender-scented eye mask.

My girls took turns applying all of it with a wash cloth that smelled like a moldy sock.

While Katie played aesthetician, Lizzie offered me a backrub she called the “poke and scratch.”

I hated every minute of it.

And I loved every minute of it.

Because even though my hands still itch from the horror the kids massaged into my palms, and my toenails are now painted hooker hot pink, for forty-five minutes, my daughters tried to pamper me, to say “We Love You, Mommy!” in the most indulgent way they could imagine. Somewhere beneath the sodium laureth sulfate and yellow number 5 was the admission that Mom’s days are stressful because of us. Tonight, because it was my birthday, they sought to give me ease.

It was a misery. And it was wonderful.



Solidarity Brothers and Sisters

On Veterans Day

I’m married to a veteran.

He was overseas on 9-11 and deployed repeatedly for most of the first years of our marriage. I guess that makes me a veteran of living with a veteran.

I am grateful for his sacrifices. I am grateful for the 4am flights, the all-night watches, and the Christmas he spent with his flight crew on an island in the Pacific. I am grateful for the birthdays he missed, the holidays he gave up, the discomfort he endured. I am grateful that the plane he flew always touched down, despite engine failures, lightning strikes, and radio messages from countries that threatened harm.

I am grateful that our marriage has endured throughout nearly a dozen years of comings and goings.

But I am just as grateful for the work he has done since leaving the service. He has dedicated his life to helping other veterans continue to serve others even after they leave the military.

I know a lot of civilians who are unsure how to celebrate veterans day. They might watch a parade. They curse under their breath when the bank or post office is closed. Some moms I know gathered blankets and coats to offer a local shelter.

But if I could give veterans one gift on this day, it would be to honor their strengths, not their deficits. To make sure that each and every one of them knows they are valuable RIGHT NOW.  And to remind them how much more they still have to give.dadvmom.com_veteransday_croppedweddingcarriage

Maybe the best way to honor veterans is to make sure that no one is alone today.

For any veteran transitioning from active duty to civilian life, or for anyone who seeks to support that transition, check out the following organizations.

Team Rubicon

Mission Continues

And Happy Veterans Day.

UPDATE — 11/11/2015

Listen to the Dad half of talking about the importance of Veterans Day on the Diane Rehm Show today.


Seven Lessons I Learned Trick-or-Treating

As I sit here rifling through my kids’ pumpkin buckets, sneaking a Snickers here and a couple Kit Kats there, I am pleased that Halloween is officially in the books. However, as with any holiday celebrated in the company of hyperactive children, there were some takeaways:

1. Trick-or-treating with a beverage in a red Solo cup is permissible, as long as you are accompanied by kids. Trick-or-treating with a beverage in a red Solo cup is suspect if you are A) a single man dressed up as a mammogram machine, or B) all alone.

2. There is a candy hierarchy. Like it or not, neighbors judge you based on what you hand out. Want to blend in? Tootsie Rolls are fine. M&M’s or any product in the Hershey’s genre will get you there. But Smarties? Smarties were a crap candy in 1974 and they are a crap candy today. Dum Dums are not much better. If the candy is available for free at a local bank, it is best not to distribute it. But to the fellow on Sycamore Street who handed out the whole Twix bars: you are a Golden God.

3. Scented candles, particularly lavender or pine, may soothe guests in a massage parlor or spa, but they are disconcerting choices inside of jack-o-lanterns. For reasons unknown to science, they pretty much smell like pee.

4. The teeniest, dumbest kids get the most candy. Deal with it. My two-year-old son yelled “Trick or Treat” at shrubbery, birdfeeders, and several mailboxes. But when he reached the front porch of every house, he went silent. He did not say “Please.” He did not say “Thank you.” But because he is only three feet tall, folks gave him handfuls of goodies again and again and again.

5. To the kiddos: 364 days of the year, when a strange man invites you into the haunted voodoo tent in his garage, say NO. In fact, call the police. On Halloween, go on in. It turns out the shrunken heads are actually licorice flavored.

6. To the parents: 364 days of the year, when your kids ask if they can eat more candy, say NO. But on Halloween, say YES. Actually say the words: “Eat more candy.” The shock alone will probably cause the kids to eat less than they would have had you argued about it. Plus, for about forty-five minutes anyway, they will think you are awesome.

7. And finally, when the sugar crash hits, whether the kid falls to the sidewalk in a full-on tantrum, or merely falls asleep with his face in a pile of Milk Duds, it’s all right. The kids are not evil; the parents are not ineffectual. It’s Halloween. Despite how scary things may look, no real harm has been done. It is just time to call it a night.

Originally published on the Huffington Post.


Super Henry

Henry asleep with pumpkin bucket

Pumpkin bucket full of candy – 1

Super Henry (with cape) – 0