Saturday, December 21, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Dearest Bella, Mia, Chance and Indy-

Merry Christmas! And while we greet everyone we know with those two words and sing those words in almost every carol and tack it onto our nightly goodnight hugs, I needed to write it down to give it more emphasis.

Merry Christmas!

It's amazing how two words can hold SO much meaning, so much emotion and so much growth. I've lived to celebrate 38 Christmas holidays and I've cherished the magic of every single one. Christmas, for me, will always be:

Family laughter, red velvet bows and The Sweet Smell of Christmas.

Cabbage Patch Kids, plaid taffeta dresses and Swatch watches.

Black patent leather shoes, egg nog and Johnny Mathis.

My dad in his robe, red poinsetta's and Atari 5200

Midnight mass, Aunt Nor and Fannie May Candies.

Family Fact:My siblings and I used to use a safety pin and prick the bottom of the candies
to see what the filling was without having to bite it. Cream filling was the most coveted!

38 years of Christmas memories come flooding back every year. And I love it, I love reliving my Christmas pasts. Case in point, my mother. Her passion for Christmas could be seen everywhere. Her artificial tree (always with the fake tree mom-why?) was decked out with red bows, white lights and fake white doves that I used to scare the shit out of Gabrielle with. No joke, she was deathly afraid of the fake birds! Every doorway in our house had an evergreen garland arch, white bathroom towels were switched out for the fancy red and gold and the smell of balsam incense that burned from the teeny tabletop log cabin meant that Christmas was here. My parents filled our home with so much love and laughter that it's hard not to forget how meaningful these celebrations were. Except for that one Christmas that will forever go down as the educational Christmas. Speak and Spell Mom, really??!! A laminated world map, too? But really, it's because of their yuletide spirit that I have learned the importance of making these Christmas memories with you, my kiddos.

Tonight we had our 2nd annual Christmas Pajama Jam (here's last years) where each of you got to invite some friends over for a Christmas party and your dad and I watched as suddenly your own Christmas memories were being made.

Chancey, it blew your mind that 30 some kids were hanging out in your house. Your excitement was obvious. You greeted everyone with a Merry Christmas and proudly showed off your "baby brudda" to all who entered. You had a blast--except when you fell off of Bella's bed and cracked your head on the floor. Luckily, you had a house full of girls who tended to your ailment, and let me tell ya, you loved every second of it!

Mia. My mama Mia. My free spirited, enthusiastic little party animal. Tonight, you loved having your own kindergarten friends by your side. Don't get me wrong, you get along great with Bella's friends but tonight I saw how proud you felt that your friends were here. But my absolute favorite part was watching you on the dance floor. With the utmost confidence you danced your tush off all night long. You didn't need anyone dancing by your side-just yourself and the music. And I swear to you Mia, that is one of the BEST qualities to have.

Bella, you are such a fun person to be around and your friends really, really like you. All I could do was smile as you and your gal pals circled around eachother on the dance floor. Especially that one moment when all the girls hoisted you up over their heads as if it was your Bah Mitzvah! Hah! These next couple of years are when friendships become the utmost of importance and I look forward to watching you become someone's best friend--other than Mia, of course.

My little Indy. First of all, THANK YOU. Normally, you are a total and complete Mama's boy and can't stand being away from me for longer than a minute. But tonight you were SO tired that you cuddled in the arms of several different moms and for that I'm grateful. You won't have the memories of this fun night, but luckily you've got 3 awesome siblings to remind you. And yeah, you can get me back for the ridiculous elf hat I made you wear but seriously dude, you looked adorable!

Kids, another chapter was added to your Christmas scrapbook tonight and I hope that one day, you'll all look back on these memories with an even greater sense of appreciation for the lovely life we live.

And when you're really old and your memories are faded, use this as a reminder:

Merry Christmas!

All my love,


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Calm Before The Sh** Storm

Sheesh, the last 24 hours have been a major whirlwind. You see, I just got back from the Mother of the Year Gala where I was awarded Top Honors. It was so AWESOME, beyond anything I've ever imagined. You guys, I felt so great, I looked fabulous, I even got a shiny medal and a standing ovation--I know, right?!!.  The kicker? As my name was called there was a 20 piece orchestra led by none other than Neil Diamond and instead of singing Sweet Caroline, he sang Sweet Gina-ah. 
Wah. Wah. Waaah.

I was about to deliver the best acceptance speech ever, with a perfect combination of witty humor and heartwarming truth, when I was slapped awake by my sweet, weak, sick little baby Indy and was reminded why that trophy was ALL MINE, imaginary or not.

Indy began a fever Saturday night and continued all day Sunday. Whenever my kids have a fever I give it a couple days to see if they can work it out on their own before I take them to the doctor. I don't willingly give antibiotics if I don't absolutely have to and when Monday rolled around and the fever reducer was only mildly helping him, I took him in. Sure enough, ear infection.

 There's something so sad and yet so unbelievably rewarding for me whenever I tend to my sick children. Who doesn't want their mama when they're feeling crummy? It's these moments, while awful for them, remind me how much I'm needed.  These past few days Indy's been so weak--saving all his strength to cling tightly on me, my embrace being the only thing to bring him any peace. It's heartbreaking, really.

He and I were snuggled in the bed together late into the night and despite me turning him on his back every so often, he'd flip over to his stomach--his absolute favorite sleep position. I rubbed his warm back and watched the moonlight and silence take over the room. I thought about how I am everything to this little boy. Everything. And while yes, Eugene and I have an indestructible love for one another and always will, this is different. Eugene doesn't need me the way this beautiful gift of mine does. Suddenly Indy began stirring and I thought maybe it was my back rubs that frustrated him since he tried to reach around and move my hand away (at least that's what I thought he was doing.) He tossed and turned and began hitting around in the darkness until his hand finally found mine and struggled until our fingers interlocked into our perfect little puzzle. Immediately he calmed himself, tucked our conjoined hands under his body and quietly went to sleep.

Instantly my heart swelled, tears surfaced and the beauty of it took over. This is motherhood--right here in the darkness, tired and weak, this is what it's about.

My hand!  All that he wanted was my hand to comfort him.

I tell ya, I couldn't have been happier anywhere else and in any other moment than I was right there in my bed with Indy. I fell sound asleep with a smile on my face.

Several hours later around 3:30 AM I was woken by Indy's crying. Crap--his fever struck again, poor baby. I rolled outta bed, turned on the light and hooked him up with a fever reducer. I checked his diaper and sure enough there was a little poop so with one sleepy eye open, I stumbled over to grab another diaper and robotically began changing him. I yawned. I swayed. I yawned again. I was thankful it would be a quick job but I tried not to think too much as I didn't want to fully wake up and then dammit, I dropped the wipes on the floor. Which you'll soon come to know was the WORST POSSIBLE CASE OF  BUTTERFINGERS IN THE HISTORY OF EVER. As I grabbed them from the floor, steadied my balance and began ascending upright, I was startled by the sound of a cork popping. And then in what can only be described as a vicious paintball attack, I was assaulted with hot, wet, flying shit, everywhere. I stood in utter disbelief with my mouth gaping open, which coincidentally, DIDN'T HELP THE SITUATION. Are you kidding me right now? Ever play Angry Birds? Well, ya know that one bird that launches into mid-air and if you hit it at the right apex it splits up into like, three or four birds? THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT HIS SHIT DID! It started, I suspect, as one solid unit and then suddenly and inexplicably multiplied and velociraptored me from every angle! And to boot, it's antibiotic poop---have you ever dealt with medicated feces? IT'S FUCKING DISGUSTING!!! All over the sheet and all over me! I mean, movies couldn't have staged a better scene than what had just unfolded--the timing was that perfect.

Automatically I smiled, and the hilarity of it all took over. I take it all back, this is motherhood--right here in the wee hours, alone and resilient, covered in shit, this is what it's all about.

Now about that trophy?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Halloween in Wonderland

We fell down a rabbit hole for Halloween this year. For our 4th annual family theme costume we went as the cast of Alice in Wonderland, Disney not Burton--big difference.

Our tradition began in 2010 with Toy Story

Followed by Dr. Seuss

Then my personal favorite, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

This year we added another cast member to the group and Indy was a complete rock star in his Smokin' Caterpillar costume. He was a champ every time I strapped him in the Bjorn and hoisted the size 3T costume over his head. By the way, he loved the crap out of that hookah pipe (that was completely sterilized and WAS NOT OURS) For real, it was like the best pacifier EVER.

I look forward to our family theme all year long and I honestly can't imagine Halloween without our group costume. It starts in July when I begin narrowing down all the different ideas. Once I've decided on the theme, I begin my mission of carefully convincing the kids how great of an idea it is. Chance, god bless him will do anything I ask, my trouble lies with the girls. But this year everyone was on board!

I proudly introduce The Mad Hatter, Cheshire Cat, Alice, Queen of Hearts, White Rabbit and Caterpillar Narciso.

The life size chess pieces that I bought Eugene for his birthday an eternity ago came in handy for our group shot.

Blue Gatorade in case you're wondering.

Thank you Ebay for this SCORE of a find for Mia--there's no way in hell I could have made that costume. 

His blue steel pose cracks me up so much here. And the fuzzy paws that cover his light-up Spiderman gym shoes seal the deal for cuteness.

He's become such a ham for the camera these days.

Mia radiated in her costume. Walking home on Halloween night she asked if we could be Alice again next year. I smiled because I knew she wanted to feel this way again. This happy. And pretty. Bless her heart.

Truth be told, I'm already thinking of next year. Only 11 more months away…….

Happy Halloween

Thursday, October 24, 2013

My Addiction

(deep breath. deep breath. here goes)

I finally realize it's a problem. It's always been there, for as far back as I can remember, it's been there. I'm sorry if this seems very unlike me and straight forward but I just need to get it out.

See, I've learned not to blame anyone but myself. What was so easily typed out just now, was actually a difficult and often painful realization. And the sad truth is that it's getting worse. I'm getting worse. And now I've got kids who watch me. Who watch my every move.

How do I look them in the eyes and tell them their mother is an addict? How do I admit that I can't seem to get enough? Of the candy corns and the pumpkin muffins. The acorns and the gourds. Don't even get me started on the mums, man.

Duuuuuuude, can you pass the Autumn? Mama, needs another hit. 


Eugene and I, in what can only be described as an all-out bender, got the ultimate autumnal high by taking the kids to Door County, Wisconsin for the annual Sister Bay Fall Fest.

It don't get any Fall-er than this!

We discovered Door County three years ago and vowed to come back again. 

We rented a two bedroom, one story townhouse that had the perfect amount of hiding spaces to keep the kids intrested. Can I jump on the bed Mom? Sure, why the hell not, it's not my house. God I love vacation me--so cool, so laid back. Can we make a fort Mom? Of course you can! Here's 43 blankets and an hour of time, go! 

The Fall Fest was just as we remembered, crisp fall air, warm apple cider, brats on the grill and corn on the cob.....

Zombie marching bands

and parade loot.

After the parade was over we got ourselves some local pumpkin beer (which was delicious) and took the kids to the park, which was smack dab in the middle of the fest. 

The sun was shining, Indy was sleeping quietly and cozy in the stroller, Mia was searching for ladybugs, Bella was lost in her imaginary world, Chance was lovin' the slide and Eugene and I just sat back, relaxed and got on the most amazing buzz. The kind of buzz that keeps you laughing. The kind of buzz that feels so wrong when it's 11AM but yet so, so right. It was hilarious. And fun. And it felt like college again. I, of course, got so paranoid that all the other parents were totally judging us, but we didn't care. Our kids were having the time of their life! It's not often that I take the kids to the park for an unspecified amount of time. They kept looking over at me, with a sad and desperate look like now mom, are we leaving now? only to find me smiling and laughing, a reassurance that playtime can commence. They played in that park FOR OVER 2 HOURS, which for us is like a playground eternity. And Eugene and I just sat back and watched it all.

Speaking of sitting, everywhere in Sister Bay benches are dedicated in someone's honor--a detail that I found so endearing. For a brief moment I wondered who John Anderson was, since he "supported" us and all our goofyness that afternoon. Was he a father or even a grandfather? Did his family chose the bench facing the park for a reason? It was also facing Lake Michigan, which isn't a shabby view either. These benches say more about this town than any tourism brochure could ever do-- sit, relax and remember. 

Mark my words family, I want a bench someday.

I love that our weekend getaways have become almost a necessity for us. Getting away from our comfort, isolating ourselves, tuning out and turning off is just what our family needs. 

Jeez, I've spent 5 minutes typing about family and I'm already jones-in' to write more about Fall. First stage is admittance, Gina. Fall is my absolute favorite time of year. Truthfully, there just isn't enough time to APPRECIATE the fall season. If I were in charge I'd take an entire week (or 2) and just escape with my family like we did this past weekend and spend our days baking, and hiking and taking in every blessed color around us. It's a sin not to enjoy it. Until the leaves have fallen and the sky turns gray, I'm going to ride this high for as long as I can.

And sure, in two months when my buzz is killed and the snow brings on irritability, cold sweats and restlessness, I'll be comforted in knowing that my detox will eventually get better. I may have to wait 10 months, but the score will be worth it.

Note to my children-- if you're reading this years from now I hope to god you know what a metaphor is. If not, here's our vacation video to distract you:


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