What I’ve Been Doing Besides Writing

by Abby on May 26, 2015

A mom friend of mine put it perfectly: this time of year is second only to the holidays in terms of busyness. The end-of-year school events: picnics, concerts, gatherings. The field trips, permission slips, yearbooks, teacher gifts. The baseball games, rain delays, birthdays, school holidays. The mad rush, the final push, before school lets out and summer starts. When work-at-home moms’ time is no longer their own, and every childless hour costs you. Yep, I’m in the thick of it right now. Here’s a look at what I’ve been doing instead of writing:

Putting together a farmer costume for the kindergarten nursery rhyme performance. (So what if those overalls are really snow pants?) Farmer Riley

Chaperoning a third-grade field trip to the zoo, where the wild animals weren’t just the ones in cages. my son at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

Testing out an Easy Bake Oven scored at a yard sale. (Verdict: pretty lame for all the hype. The modern version is basically a toaster. You can’t watch it bake and it yields a couple tablespoons of lukewarm, gooey batter. I bet the original, non-child-safe version was way more fun.) boys using an Easy Bake Oven

Refinishing the deck. But what’s a “before” picture without an “after”? Unsatisfying, is what. If I ever get around to the “after,” you’ll be the first to know.

Making delicious, healthy, colorful, home-cooked meals. (A variation of this recipe, FYI.) That sounds like a brag, doesn’t it? I only tell you (and Instagram) because it makes me feel better about all that effort for something no one eats but me. And my husband. But he’ll eat anything. Even the Easy Bake “cookies.” chili-lime shrimp bowls over quinoa with black bean-mango salsa

What’s going on in your world? Can’t wait for summer, or dreading that last school dismissal?

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My Perfectly Imperfect Mother’s Day

by Abby on May 12, 2015

All I wanted for Mother’s Day this year was a little day trip. I had this idea that it might be fun to go kayaking as a family, then grab an early dinner by the water somewhere. I even thought of a place and researched it some, but it wasn’t looking good. The kayak rental place wasn’t open when I called and their voicemail box was full. The restaurant I had in mind was booked solid. The weather report was calling for rain.

Honestly, I wasn’t that bummed about it. I’ve ruined holidays (and bike rides) for myself before by having too-high expectations. (Or by comparing my day to others’ on Facebook. Always the kiss of death.) So I forwarded the links along to my husband and said, “Oh, well. Plan B?” A quiet day at home wouldn’t be the worst thing, given the whirlwind weeks we’ve been having lately.

That morning I headed out to yoga, as I usually do on Sundays. Have I told you about my teacher, a mom of NINE children?! It tells you something, that she would show up on Mother’s Day. Sitting there on her mat, serene and supple as ever, she smiled and said, “I love my children. But today was not their finest hour.” Then she got on with the downward dogs and these crazy headstand-split things she makes us do. I love that woman. Keeping it real while she kicks our butts.

After class, I headed home to good news. C. had gotten through to the kayak place, and they had plenty of boats available. And the restaurant, it turned out, had a no-reservations-required outdoor deck, so we had a good chance of getting in there, too. We set off. (After I spent the better part of an hour slathering kids with sunscreen and filling water bottles. At one point I thought Mother’s Day was a day off. I’ve since wised up.)

On the ride there, 6yo Riley says: “I’m kinda nervous. What if I fall in the water?”

“That’s OK. You’ve got a life vest and a bathing suit on and you know how to swim.”

“Will there be sharks?”

“No. No sharks.”

“Will there be piranhas?”

8yo Miles says, “I want to go in Mom’s boat.” He’s no dummy. He knows the story about how his dad flipped himself over in a kayak once — because he was trying to fling a filthy piece of seaweed at me. Ha! Karma.

Finally, we were out on the water. It was a glorious day. We paddled around, soaking up the sun. We watched the hawks float overhead like kites and searched for turtles on fallen logs. “Ahh. It’s so peaceful out here,” said Miles. That’s my boy.

Miles kayaking

Afterward, we walked along the shore, skipped stones, and collected shells. We changed clothes in the car and made our way to the restaurant where, sure enough, we were seated on the deck overlooking the river and the shimmering spires of downtown Annapolis. It really couldn’t have been more perfect … for me.

And here’s the part where I have to clarify. Because the day wasn’t PERFECT, per se. For instance, my 6yo promised he would not whine for the entire day. (A bald-faced lie.) There were the usual sibling squabbles in the back seat, and the usual marital squabbles about directions in the front seat. But those things barely registered because I have learned to manage my expectations. This is not my first rodeo.

I have also learned – and it’s taken me a LOOONG time – to honor my own wishes. This is not always easy, since other people’s wishes and expectations tend to be louder. They may even show up on Facebook and TV commercials and burrow into your brain without you noticing so that you start to think, and even be utterly CONVINCED, that every holiday should be marked with Tiffany’s and brunch and a bevy of guests or it doesn’t count. Guess what? It’s not true.

Maybe your “perfect” Mother’s Day is having some low-key fun with your family, having some drinks on the deck, and getting everyone bathed and in bed by 8. And if you manage to squeeze in some yoga and avoid piranhas? Well, in my opinion, it just doesn’t get any better than that.

Mothers Day kayaking

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Monkey Moms

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My 8yo son is not a big movie guy, but he has been dying to see “Monkey Kingdom” ever since he saw a preview for it months ago. This kid is a nature lover through and through. He’s constantly rattling off facts about animals and bugs. “Mom, did you know ladybugs play dead when they […]

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Too Close to Home

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On Saturday night neither my kids nor I could sleep, but for different reasons. They were beyond excited about going to Little League Day at Camden Yards the next day. They were going to see the Red Sox and Orioles play, and they would get to walk onto the field in their uniforms and meet […]

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Why Kids Are Natural Entrepreneurs

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My kids have an entrepreneurial streak. I think they caught the bug when they encountered their first yard sale. What? You can make cold, hard cash just by throwing some old toys out on the lawn for strangers to paw through? Sold! Then they tried their hand selling tissue paper ghosts at Halloween, handpicked flowers […]

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Clumsy Crab and Crazy Foxes

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One cool thing about having kids if you’re a creative type is that you get to work on fun projects with them. And not just Lego and Play-Doh – though those are fun, too. As they get older, you might even get to do actual multimedia collaborations with your kid. For instance, this is a […]

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Grasping for Gratitude

April 6, 2015

It’s always fun to start your Spring Break with your child suffering the sudden onset of a violent stomach bug at 3 a.m. after a day of eating Easter candy. I’ll give you a second to let that colorful image sink in while I Purell my hands and start another load of laundry for the […]

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Adventures in Shopping: Cardigan Edition

March 30, 2015

I have a love/hate relationship with shopping. When I’m in the mood and hit a good sale, watch out. You are looking at the scorer of some legendary deals, people. Le. Gen. Dary. For instance, the $11 military jacket from Loehmann’s. The $17 patent leather driving moccasins from Loehmann’s. The embroidered silk slip dress from […]

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On Over-Planning and Igloo-Building

March 23, 2015

I am a sucker for an online quiz. You know those ones that tell you what country best fits your personality or what your spirit animal is? Well, a while back I took one on happiness. To my surprise, the results indicated that I highly value spontaneity, and that some of my happiest moments were […]

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Make Your Own Luck

March 16, 2015

Normally, I’m not so big on the random little holidays. Valentine’s Day? Earth Day? Meh. They usually involve school parties and extra work for me. (Oh, you can call me a killjoy until you pull an all-nighter sweating over several dozen Valentines or cupcakes for your kid’s class. Then we’ll talk. P.S. Why is Minecraft […]

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