Six Years Of Blogging And Now A Book

My six year blogging anniversary passed quietly last week. Celebrating my six year ‘blogiversary’ is kind of like how I handled my 45th birthday – locked in the bathroom alone with a glass of red and a dark chocolate bar as I pondered what I’ve really accomplished.

 

I started my blog as a blog. It had five readers and I shared silly, daily stories of my girls and cats. It grew to something a little bit more as I shared stories of loss and hope and I found my voice in humor.

 

After six years of blogging – fame and fortune have not come my way – except for that one viral post that made me step back and be quite comfortable really without fame and fortune.

 

Actually, blogging has given me something much better than fame and fortune – it’s given me friends and the ability to be fearless.

 

And blogging has made me become a writer.

 

Six years ago – or even three years ago I would never say “I’m a writer.” Me, who went to school for business and engineering and took many math and economics classes, and took only speech and debate as my required and very painful English class.

 

I wasn’t always adverse to English classes. I was a voracious reader as a child and kept a journal since I was eight years old. During high school I filled notebooks with poems about asshole guys ,and I submitted short stories to magazine contests.

 

Until that year of AP English when my teacher sucked all the joy out of reading, appreciating good literature, and creative writing. I sat in the back of the class refusing to participate, listen or engage. I wanted every book to burned, every piece of paper to be shredded, and every English class in the world to cease immediately. That’s how much she made me hate literature and the beauty and power of words.

 

I was an A+ student and near the top of my class, and I still smile when I see that string of Ds on my report card from that year of AP English.

 

However, I still remember the one and only assignment I completed for her. The assignment was to write a personal essay about a difficult time in our lives. At first I resisted – because completing an assignment for her was like cleaning my room when my mom asked me to. I was 17 and liked to push her buttons just like any adult who told me what to do. I told her that I had nothing to write about and did not turn in my assignment. I still remember her coming over to my desk, kneeling down to be eye to eye with me, and saying “I’m giving you 24 hours to turn something in. Just try doing this – not for me – but for you. Don’t make me fail you because you’ve failed yourself.”

 

That evening I sat in my room with some nameless punk music blaring and wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote about something very personal until my hand hurt and tears smeared the ink on my papers. I turned that first draft as my final paper into her that next day. The pages that were frayed, smudged, and with some margins filled in with edits – just like my life at the time. Imperfect and feeling still so incomplete.

 

Two days later she passed our essays back to us. I expected my usual ‘D’ as I did appreciate her effort to not fail me in her class, as god knows she wanted to see me again next year even less than I wanted to see her.

 

But instead there was a big red ‘A’ on the top of the page. Along with a note “Tracy, see what you can do when you write from your heart.”

 

And I find that still today – the best writing comes from my heart – and no, it won’t be with the best grammar or spelling, but it will always be me.

 

Which is why I’m thrilled to announce today that my words are in a book.

 

A little over a year ago, two amazing women came up with a writing series called “This Is Childhood.” They invited eight of us to join them to celebrate each year from age one to age 10.

 

I wrote about seven. My Esther at seven.

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Well Brain Child Magazine picked up our series of essays and has published them in a journal that launches today. This journal includes not only our essays of childhood, but also provides pages for parents to write their own thoughts as their children experience the joy (and the hard) of just being kids. It gives parents a place to write from their heart. Which is where all of our best writing comes from.

 

However, for me, being included in this book is just the frosting on the cake. The cake is made up of many layers of love from getting to know the nine other authors and moms. Over the past year they’ve become friends, mentors, and women I admire more than anything. They are brave, beautiful, and giving. I’m so grateful that blogging has given me the gift of incredibly talented ‘writerly’ friends, who don’t think my words aren’t worth publishing because I am ‘just a blogger.’

This Is Childhood cover

I stand among greatness my friends…

 

So thank you Allison – whom I’ve know the longest – for your friendship, your support in this endeavor, your brilliant writing, and the daily laughs and tears we have in this strange on-line space.

 

Lindsey, whose writing makes me want to write more. Her honestly and emotional availability and wisdom and talent come through in everything she writes. I’ve loved getting to know her and her beautiful family more.

 

Galit, my Minnesota sister and a ‘co-bringer’ of Listen To Your Mother to our fair state. We’ve become close, forever friends, and her writing will always inspire me to be more. I do not have the words to express my love for her. Also, she’s made me ‘almost’ like dogs.

 

Nina, another Minnesota friend. I’ve admired Nina’s writing for years, but now we are ‘in real life’ friends and I am forever grateful for her talents, kindness, honesty, and advice.

 

Denise  – whom I met through the ‘This Is Childhood’ series, and I am overwhelmed by her writing experiences and talents, and would follow her writing to the ends of the earth if she’d let me..in a non-stalkerish way of course.

 

Aidan – another mom of three girls and a truly beautiful soul. I admit to reading her blog archives because she is a master at her craft and deserves to be published everywhere. I’m honored to have my words close to hers. Also, I want to live in Manhattan.

 

Kristen’s writing inspires me, makes me think, and makes me want to hug her daily for asking the hard questions in a beautiful way. Her heart comes through in her essays in a way I can only dream of doing.

 

Bethany makes me laugh and cry and share with every word she writes. Her talents are immense and she almost..almost..makes me want to have a house full of boys. Almost. I find myself nodding along with her essays and wishing we could take a long run together. There would be so much laughter that just writing about that run makes me want to hop on a plane and show-up on her doorstep in a sparkly running tutu.

 

Amanda. Oh Amanda. Don’t tell her but I want to be her neighbor. I have these strange dreams of living next door to her, our six girls playing in the yard, our husbands enjoying a few beers together, while I run my fingers through her hair. OMG, I mean while we discuss life and writing, everything because I think we’re meant to be friends forever, and her words have forever changed me.

 

No matter what happens with  my writing and my blog. Whether I am published again, or I take my blog down before the 7th anniversary – I will always be grateful to count these women(and many others) as friends who’ve inspired me, challenged me, laughed and cried with me, and celebrated good things like being published in a book. SERIOUSLY GUYS, WE ARE IN A BOOK!

 

Buy it.

 

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Well THAT Was An Interesting Week

Well I’ve had an interesting week. One I’ve been trying to write about, but the words seem to fail me. Or they are just wrong. Or not as meaningful or deep as they are suppose to be. So I walk away from the internet and start putting hats on my cat. I’m not even kidding.

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This week I’ve had bad words thrown at me and good words offered to me with incredible kindness. I’ve had letters full of ugliness and letters from strangers saying “me too” and “thank you for speaking up for us.”  Some strangers were 15 and some were 50.

 

I’ve had friends write posts about their struggles – and the silent struggles of moms just like us.

 

And it’s time that we aren’t quiet anymore. Or ashamed. Or just a statistic that we brush under the carpet and pretend that what we experience doesn’t exist.

 

I’ve heard radio stations talk about ME – when they think that I’m not listening or didn’t bother to do their homework to find out that maybe I’m in their backyard and they could CALL ME to discuss. Or maybe they’re afraid I’d come whack them with the pillow.

 

And the thing about everyone thinking they now know you because of your 800 words that went around the world – it takes what you feel and say when you felt strong enough to voice it, and it takes every layer of skin off of your body and leaves you naked and bleeding and exposed, and you spend awhile hunkered down thinking you may never get up again and maybe you should not have sent those words out – but sometime at about day three, you get up and get dressed and your heart grows about three sizes because of the people who matter, and you come out on the other side feeling even stronger than you did when you first wrote those words. And you think of about 2000 more words that you want to write because you were right to say those words. And no one can take your voice away. Also you write run-on sentences.

 

So today – I talked to people. I had a radio interview on our Top 40 station this morning - KDWB. It’s my kids’ favorite station and now I’ve probably ruined it for them because they interviewed THEIR MOTHER! It was not a great interview as it was at 7:15am and we were having a burnt waffle/lost hair bow/I need help with my homework/WHERE’S MY BOOT/Mommy I can’t find any undies kind of morning and on our way to missing the bus.

 

And then this afternoon I was on HuffPost Live, which was super fun and I met some great co-panelist. It was kind of awkward to do though as when you’re talking the screen goes white so I never knew where to look because there were no people to look at. Next time I have to remember to just stare at the white and pretend there are people.

And my internet stalker is back. Have I told you about my stalker. Well that’s a very long story for another day…

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Dear Nordstrom – About Your “Skinny Sleep” Pillow

Dear Nordstrom,

 

I posted a picture of me at 18 on Facebook the other day. It was from a time in my life that I didn’t love how I looked, but the picture was kind of funny with my huge 80s hair so I thought it was worth posting for a few laughs.

 

But only one person(my husband, the person closest to me), asked me what was up with my puffy cheeks in that picture. He could see from the rest of my body in the picture that I wasn’t overweight – so why were my cheeks so puffy.

 

He pointed out exactly why I hate all pictures of me for a period of four years, and almost 30 years later I couldn’t just tell him why I had puffy cheeks. I think I brushed off his question with an explanation of ‘left over baby fat’ and growing out of them eventually.

 

But my puffy cheeks were a symptom of my bulimia. And my bulimia started after suffering from anorexia and starving myself for months. Once I started to finally eat again – I purged for years.

 

And while I consider myself ‘better’ in that I don’t starve myself or purge my food – I will never feel thin enough. Ever. I still worry about everything I put in my mouth, how my clothing fits, and will catch glimpses of myself in every mirror looking for faults.

*****

My 10 year old threw a fit last year when I made her wear snow pants to an outdoor event. It was well below zero and there was no way we were going out without being bundled up from head to toe. “But Mom, my friends will be there and my snow pants make my butt look big.”

 

Your butt look big, Eloise? For one, that is impossible..and for two, everyone will be wearing snow pants..and for three, trust me, no one looks at snow pant butts.

 

My daughter is five feet tall and is lucky to weigh 60 pounds soaking wet and barely registers as having a  BMI. She could wear 10 pairs of snow pants without the worry of her butt looking big. But that fact doesn’t really matter, does it.

 

She’s a healthy eater, gets plenty of exercise as a dancer, and even though she has a mother who will probably never be totally past her eating disorder(what addict is), we still never talk or show unhealthy habits around our kids, and live in a home with healthy food and people who exercise regularly. We don’t own a scale.

 

And she has the same body I had at 10 and 11 – tall, seemingly impossibly thin, and with legs that go on for miles. I’m not worried about her – she’s a healthy girl – but to hear her worry about looking fat….

 

I sank. My heart broke for her into a million tiny pieces.

 

And I want to do everything to make sure my three daughters daughters do not become one of the 10 million Americans with eating disorders. Of which, 20% of those suffering will die.

 

I see the stick thin models on the runway, the supermodels on the cover of magazines(many photoshopped), ads everywhere on how to have a flat stomach and the importance of a thigh gap, and a diet ad on TV during almost every show. Daily I feel like I’m trying to push away the negative media images and reinforcing to my daughters what is really important – health and the importance of loving themselves.

 

As I whisper to myself – don’t be like your mother, don’t be like your mother.

*****

At this point you must be wondering why I’m writing this very personal letter to you, Nordstrom. Well, it’s because I was shopping with my daughters at your store(one of my favorite places to shop) on Friday and this pillow prominently displayed in your store stopped me in my tracks.

nordstrom-skinny-sleep-pillow

Actually, it stopped my daughter in her tracks… “People can get skinny by sleeping, Mom? I had no idea.”

 

No hon, you can’t get skinny when you sleep. You have good sleep because it makes you healthy and strong. That pillow was meant to be kind of a joke I think – and a horrible one at that.

 

Oh Nordstrom – we have skinny drinks and skinny food and skinny pills and see skinny ads and read skinny articles…and now, now you have to make our daughters think that there’s skinny sleep? We’re embroidering skinny dreams on our pillows now just like the ones that we can’t etch out of our hearts?

 

Please don’t send a message like this. It’s not okay. It’s not message we need. It’s not a message that they need. And if my daughter is asking about this – how many other daughters are asking their mothers the same question?

 

Did you know that approximately 40 percent of American girls ages 9 and 10 report being or having been on a diet to lose weight.

 

Let’s do better by our daughters and our sons and start making strides on focusing on healthy messages and giving them more positive images of what a real woman or man looks like. And should look like. I know we have a long way to go and daily we are bombarded with negative influences..so some might say “What’s the big deal about a pillow with a cute little saying.” And I’m saying – taking a pillow off the shelves is one little step in the direction where millions of steps still need to be taken if we are ever going to stop this cycle.

 

Having an eating disorder is like being a drug addict, this illness is always near the surface just waiting for the right trigger…and while one can survive without drugs or alcohol, a person with an eating disorder is faced with their biggest fear – food – every single day. So whether you want to believe it or not – even seeing the words ‘skinny sleep’ on a pillow can trigger us into thinking something is really possible. Just like my daughter asked me such an innocent question about it on Friday in your store.

 

Don’t make her even have to ask those questions. Don’t make her think that skinny is ‘in’ or that skinny is even important.

 

Don’t be responsible for adding to this devastating epidemic.

 

Thank you for listening,

 

Tracy Morrison

Woman, Wife, Mom of Three, Eating Disorder Survivor

*****

Update Sunday Night 1/26 – I received the following DM on Twitter from Nordstrom…

“We’re so sorry we disappointed you. This is a sensitive subject and we take what you’re saying seriously. We totally see your point here and would never want what was suppose to be a play on a well-known saying as sending a different message. We appreciate you sharing your perspective with us. We’d like to share this feedback with our buyers and get back to you.”

 

I’m glad Nordstrom responded so quickly – and I actually tweeted them about this three days ago – but now it’s time for them to remove the pillow from their stores. And it’s honestly a pretty sad ‘play’ on a well-known saying – that truthfully I already don’t love.

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So Much To Talk About This Week!

It’s suppose to be -24 on Monday morning. Actual temperature. Windchill will be about -786. Totally tolerable in my humble opinion and school should go on as planned. But I’m already preparing for another ‘snow day‘ and having the kids at home. Which is why I am still considering dropping them at Galit’s house.

 

Or I could just stay home and look at my daughter’s beautiful face.

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Jed and I(okay, maybe I’m still bitchy) are having a tough week. I would like to blame it on 1. Sure, maybe I’m bitchy and 2. One toilet in the house and 3. We’ve spent way too much time indoors this winter. Because COLD! We need more tolerable snow days to get outside and play. 4. Also, I might be bitchy because one toilet, the cold, too much time indoors. So I’m trying not to let it bother me and to accept his compliments even when I’m feeling gross and stinky.

 

I wrote an essay this week about one of the houses I lived in when I was little. It’s strange, the details you remember about a house from when you were only five years old. Sometimes I wonder what my kids will remember about the houses of their lives. And about how much this current house means to them – the only home Esther and Astrid have known. When I get mad at our house for being broken or old and too small-ish – I need to remember that children don’t care about any of that. It’s the people inside the house that matter.

 

But Eloise will probably only remember that we never let her have a guinea pig.

 

Since it’s the season to stay in – we are reading a lot. I just finished one of my dear friend’s books. Jennie – from A Lady In France just published her first book. It’s a stunning memoir of her incredible and extraordinary life spent all over the world, and her journey of faith. I yearn for the day when I can sit down with her in her home in France and have her tell me the stories of her life. I love Jennie dearly – and now her book has made me even closer to her.  Maybe I’m peeking in her kitchen window right now.

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You need a copy of her book – maybe two or three. A Lady in France is available on Amazon in paperback or for your Kindle.

 

And if you are looking to work on your photography this year – I highly recommend following along Alison and Greta’s 52 week #ThroughTheLensThursday project. They are fun and easy weekly prompts and you can join in anytime!

 

One more thing – my friend Alexandra has published a beautiful and important piece on the Huffington Post about How Our Society Raises Young Boys. I suggest popping over there today.

 

AND one more week to submit your stories on motherhood for our Twin Cities Listen To Your Mother Show. We would be honored if you shared your words with us. xo

 

Happy Saturday!

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Keeping It Simple

Today the fabulous Twin Cities Mom Blog launched and I’m so completely thrilled to be a contributing writer! If you are local to the area – this will be an amazing resource filled with not only information on great happenings around the area, but also full of just personal and ‘real mom’ type stories that I hope you can relate to. And if you don’t live in the Twin Cities – well there are sister sites all over the country.

 

My first article went live today – and it’s about keeping it simple with your kids. How what we think is important about a vacation, an event, an activity, or a family project – you know the BIG that we want our kids to remember – usually isn’t what they remember the most.

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We spent a long weekend at a lake resort when I was about 10. I vaguely remember swimming in the pool, taking a few boat rides around the lake and staying in a very cool hotel room – but what I remember the most about the weekend was a a sandwich I ate. I don’t remember the location of the resort – the town, state or name of the lake, but damn that sandwich was incredible. All because my mom, in her typical quest to save money, decided we would eat a picnic lunch of simple sandwich fixings from the grocery store rather than eating in the expensive resort restaurant. She bought a loaf a bread, some lunch meat, cheese, lettuce, but instead of mayo she bought Kraft Sandwich Spread. If you’ve never had sandwich spread – it’s like the perfect mix of mayo and thousand island dressing all wrapped up in white trash perfection. I had never heard of it before, nor tasted anything so delightful before. And at that moment when I bit into that turkey and cheese on Wonder with the sandwich spread – well the rest of that weekend became a blur.

 

Still today when we reminisce as a family about moments we’ve shared, I still sometimes say “Gosh, do you all remember when we tried sandwich spread that one time when we took some lake vacation?” And my whole family gets a little quiet as they look off into the distance and remember how good those sandwiches tasted.

 

Now I wonder why I’ve never eaten it since? Tomorrow I must buy some sandwich spread.

 

But my point is – don’t stress about not being able to take a fancy lake vacation – just take your kids on a picnic in your backyard with a special treat that they’ve never tried before.

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Why I’m Blogging Every Single Day In 2014

I’m sorry.

 

That I’m probably driving you crazy.

 

If you subscribe to my blog you are probably unsubscribing BECAUSE SO MANY EMAILS. AND THINGS TO READ.

 

And for that I am sorry.

 

But I have decided to blog every day in 2014. I’ve been afraid to write this. Say this aloud. Or even whisper it in a friend’s ear. Or even think it inside of my own head. Because of possible and easy failure.

 

But there, it’s out there. I’m blogging every day in 2014. 365 posts.

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Some long, some short, some stories, some pictures. But it’s doubtful you will get recipes or craft ideas. If you start seeing craft ideas you know I’ve lost my mind and it’s time to stage an intervention and tell me to stop blogging completely. Take away my computer and my glue gun. Also if I start talking about Pinterest. Don’t let me talk about Pinterest. But just to make you crazy I’m including a pinnable image in this post.  Because I CAN!

 

Some things you will find boring. Silly. Why is she even filling space with this drivel?! And some I hope will be decent writing. Very decent. Good even. Share-worthy even. Because that’s mainly why I’m doing this. Just like photography – to take great pictures you first need to take more pictures..and I firmly believe that to become a better writer – well, you need to write more.

 

And in 2014 I’m doing both. So why not use my little blog to write and share pictures and stories with you all -  and at times just bore the crap out of you.

 

But I promise to never share crafts.

 

Maybe one or two recipes because I’m desperate. But never a craft.

 

And maybe to fill the space on a Saturday I will have to recap what I’ve written that week. Or maybe this will allow you to just read me once per week and you can stop hating me for blogging every single ding-dong day in 2014.

 

So here’s what’s going down…

 

I told you about the Happy Wives Club’s new book being released – and this was a perfect follow-up for my  on being vulnerable that was also  syndicated on BlogHer and now published on The Huffington Post. 

 

I’ve started Tumblr-ing about Po the Panda with Eloise.  If you like Pandas – follow us there. If you don’t like pandas, well we are no longer friends. Unfollow.

 

We have put out our annual call of submissions for Listen To Your Mother – Twin Cities. We want your words!

 

I’m trying to enjoy the messy corners of our lives..and appreciate the clutter and the people who hang so near to me.

 

And how to survive cold weather running and that I’m thankful it was cold enough to do the “throw boiling water in the air to turn it to vapor” trick!

 

And finally - Astrid’s eyelids are not orange.

 

So that, in a nutshell, is why I’ve been writing so much lately. May I call it writing and not blogging? Maybe a mix of both.

 

Only 354 posts to go….

** Taking inspiration from the blogging every.single.day  in 2013 superstar Casey from Life With Roozie.

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On Being Vulnerable

Jed has texted, called, emailed and smoke-signaled hundreds of middle-aged men over the past week with this simple message…

“If you want to get lucky in the bedroom, have heart surgery. Trust me on this one.”

 

Which is why every middle-aged man in Minnesota has been giving me this strange, knowing look all week. They point to me in the grocery store, whisper about me at the coffee shop, and give me a sly wave as I drive by in my minivan.

 

I am now an urban legend.

 

But truth be told – good sex has nothing to do with heart surgery or hospitals. It has more to do with remembering why we fell in love in the first place, and admitting to needing to be loved even after 16 years, three kids, and hundreds of cat puke piles cleaned off of the carpets.

 

But most importantly – being able to finally let go of our egos and be vulnerable again.

Vulnerable – leaving yourself open to emotional hurt.

 

Because I think that’s what is missing in our home. And frankly it’s exhausting when you cannot admit that you really need someone or something to get by with the big, but also the small tasks each day.

 

I mark my days as a mother in a kind of “I can do it myself so just get the fuck out of my way” attitude. From bringing home bacon to frying it up in a pan, to managing loads of laundry, mountains of bills, and an extracurricular schedule for three kids that would make a wedding planner in NYC cringe.  And in my own way I do okay with this. Maybe I truly don’t need help, but maybe just maybe Jed needs to be needed just a little bit more. Whether it’s letting him pick up groceries sometimes or putting Astrid to bed or not getting mad when he folds the towels wrong.

 

It’s okay for me to accept help and be vulnerable for him.

*****

love-and-marriage

I dropped Jed off at the hospital the day of his surgery. He told me he didn’t need me there and not to worry about trying to juggle the kids and burden friends or family just for him. But he looked very alone when I dropped him. So I took the kids to my aunt’s house and returned to the hospital. I gave the receptionist Jed’s information and that I was his ‘wife’ and was now there for him if there was news.

 

She acted like she expected me. This is what people do it turns out – married people – people in love – they are there for one another. The alternate plan that we had made – the one where I left him at the hospital alone was strange and uncomfortable like a coat two sizes too small bought at the thrift store that tugged awkwardly at my arms and didn’t quite zip.

 

This is not how a marriage is suppose to feel.

 

But as I sat in the waiting room -the room with other wives and husbands and children and loves – I felt a peace I hadn’t felt in a very long time.

 

The feeling of what it’s really like to love your spouse.

 

A few minutes later a nurse came out looking for “Mrs. Duncan” and asked if I wanted to see Jed before he went in. My strong sense of self and independence didn’t even rear its ugly head to correct the nurse’s error of ‘my’ name.  I was letting go.

 

When I saw Jed he was drugged, hooked up to numerous things, tubes and medication, and alone. And he reached for my hand and cried.

 

Vulnerable.

 

And that’s when I wanted to jump him right then in there in the surgery prep room. Not because he was weak(his words) or because this might be good-bye. But because we need each other more than we want to admit. And it shouldn’t take this to bring us to this new now. But it did. And it’s strange being grateful for a medical emergency to fix a marriage.

 

Maybe that’s why we focus on motherhood so much and forget about the work it takes to be married.  Kids need EVERYTHING – from food to shelter to boo-boo kissing to doll dressing to homework help. If my tween won’t let me kiss her anymore I can still whip up a bowl of popcorn with extra butter and she knows that I love her.

 

We are born vulnerable.

 

So when does it become a weakness to admit needing something.

 

I even find I stray from vulnerability when I write. I want to write the happy things, the clean things, the neat things, the easy things, the things that don’t ask for advice.

 

But when I’ve opened up about the hard things, the hard to admit things, and the messy-not-so-perfect things, I feel the weight lifted off of my chest. This weight that you all take from me piece by piece as loved ones do as you work in combination to carry a burden and protect me as I can finally be vulnerable and breathe again.

How long have I been holding my breath.

*****

I met Jed in the recovery room. I sat gently on his bed, kissed his forehead and put my head near his as I stroked his hair for a very long time. He slept on and off and I was just there. I didn’t think of him as weak in those moment – actually the exact opposite – that he was strong enough to want me to be there.

 

Being vulnerable is sexy.

 

A few days later I told Jed something that I needed. I haven’t asked Jed for anything in years, but for the first time in a long time I felt a level of trust, love, connection and mutual vulnerability that it felt freeing to truly ask him for something that was important to me.

 

“Jed, I need you to accept my past. To acknowledge and love me not only for now and the future with our family, but for what brought me to today.” I said quietly. “You fell in love with not just me, but what I’ve done – the good and bad, my life experiences, and the 29 years I had before life led me to you.”

 

Sometimes Jed likes to pretend he married a quiet, trust-funded, virginal, blond, Catholic girl from New England.

 

But Jed instead fell in love with an opinionated, middle-class, divorced and experienced, Atheist woman from the Midwest.

 

Now 16 years later he needs to finally be okay with that. And be vulnerable enough to know that it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks of my past – especially him.

 

Because if I cannot start talking about my whole life, then I will continue to live a closed-life that is lonely, full of walls and stifling to not just my creativity and ability to love, but to our relationship and future.

 

So I asked Jed to be vulnerable with me. To admit to mistakes and failures and to look for help and more hugs and to live true and messy lives together.

We are checking our egos at the door this year. We have to if we expect this marriage to last a lifetime.

 

And we’ve found each other again. Those two people who met on an airplane to Bangkok 16 years ago. And remembered the honest and open conversations we had for those 20 hours – about divorce and loves and heartbreaks and dreams.

 

And good sex is truly such a bonus. I just need to wear dark glasses now when I go to the grocery store.

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In The Nick Of Time

It’s December 10th really and we haven’t even put our tree up. I was at Target today and saw a pinkish fake tree on one sale for $69 and I was ‘this’ close to buying it but pictured Jed giving me a ‘whatthewhat’ look when he came home to the homage to Avon sitting in the middle of our living room. Living with four women is pink enough.

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But my dream is to own a true vintage pink flocked tree. Let me know if you’re getting rid of one.

 

In the meantime we will still buy a real tree – typically we go out and cut down a Christmas tree when it’s about 25 below zero – because that’s a fun holiday tradition with three kids.

 

But no matter if we cut down a tree or talk Jed into a pink one – a tree has yet to enter our living room. Nor any decorations and the elf will not move this year…because he’s tired of this job.

 

I also haven’t started Christmas shopping and honestly just realized that Christmas is just two weeks away.

 

And it’s not like I’m not in the Holiday Spirit. I am. I just don’t have time for the extra things – decorating, shopping, baking cookies, hanging mistletoe. And I wonder if we could push it all out until January.

 

The weird thing though is that my kids haven’t even asked about the tree – if or when we are getting one – or even about decorating and baking.

 

It’s strange when your kids get bigger and they have other things going on  – school, dance, sports, friends, homework, etc…and they don’t just sit at home begging for Christmas crafts and activities(thank god).

 

Their Christmas lists remain empty(except for the talking scale). So daily I pester them to give me ideas..to which they reply “Meh, I’m good.”

 

So instead I’m planning a shopping trip for all of us for Toys For Tots this weekend and I’m thankful this season that there’s not one thing in a catalog they are asking for this year.

 

I think of simple days – of one or two gifts – not the tens that kids can get today – or the hundreds of dollars spent.

 

I love my friends who do four gifts for each child – “Something she wants, something she needs, something to wear and something to read” – and I know my girls would love this idea.

 

Simple.

 

Simple like a pink aluminum tree on sale at Target right now.

 

Now I just need to convince Jed that I haven’t lost my mind.

 

Just write.

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Shhh…I’m Listening

Just Write

 

She jumps around when we walk now – over sidewalk cracks and leaves and branches and probably imaginary hurdles. But she never lets go of my hand. My arms shakes erratically up and down as we stroll but I cannot imagine the alternative which is too still for me to take.

 

Typically as she jumps and walks, she also talks. Or rambles on. She notes nature and dogs passing by or sometimes tells me a story about preschool or shares a personal details of our home life that I didn’t know she quite grasped until it’s voiced. And then I worry about what she shares at school.

this-is-four

But yesterday she said to me “Mommy, do you know what I love the most about trees?”

 

“Trees?” I asked as again she pulled on my arm as she hurdled over a branch and then a crack and then bent down to inspect a very red leaf. She decided to bring it home and glue it into her notebook.

 

“Yes, trees.” She replied quite certain that I needed to know more about this love for trees. “I love trees because they are such good listeners. When I talk to them they stand tall and still and never move away. Trees are very, very still.”

 

And at that moment she let go of my hand and quite literally went and hugged the closest tree and rubbed her tiny, smooth hands over the rough and damp bark of the old ash tree.

 

As I stood, unmoving, and watched her I wondered if she was implying something. Was I ‘not a tree.’ Was I ‘not still enough.’ Or ‘not tall enough.’ And did I ‘move away’ when she talk.

 

Was I too busy to really listen. Because sometimes she says to me “Mommy, no I want your eyes on me when I’m showing you something so I know you really see me.” Does that mean that sometimes she knows my ears don’t really hear everything.

 

Does she know that sometimes she shares a story while I’m unloading the dishwasher and my “How nice!” and “What a great story.” and “I love that.” are just page fillers to make it seem like I’ve heard it all. Because can I really hear it all? And was I just fooling myself to think that kids really don’t know that we don’t pay attention all of the time? Was I failing in my continuous movement of not taking it all in.

 

And I wondered how I could be more like a tree for her. Can I plant my feet firmly on the floor in front of her to let her know I am strong and tall for her and still. So still. To always hear everything she has to say. Because if she has to say it, well it must be important.

 

As this is coming from someone who says very little. Having trained myself to only speak if it’s of the utmost importance – almost emergency like and even in an emergency I wonder if I could shout as I would hate to bother people. And with my quiet nature – I listen a lot. So it shocks me to hear that maybe I still don’t listen enough.

 

And maybe her comment has nothing to do with me. Maybe she just likes trees and sometimes just needs a strong, still, tall tree to talk to.

 

Don’t we all.

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Why I’m Not A Travel Blogger

I just returned home from a one month road trip with my three children. Let’s be clear that it was just me, my three kids, and a minivan – no one to share the driving or to throw snacks strategically to the savages in the back. And we covered over 4000 miles together.

 

I thought I prepared for everything that the road could throw at us. I even went to AAA for ‘TripTiks’ just like my father taught me to, and I signed up for roadside assistance, because I’ve decided that trying to change a tire on the side of an interstate after traveling alone with three children would not be safe.

 

I bought enough snacks to last us three years in case we found ourselves lost in the woods, and I spent hundreds of dollars on apps and movies to make sure my kids would never tell me they were bored or ask if we were there yet.

 

But there are some things that you just cannot prepare for….

 

Because somewhere between Danbury and Hartford, Connecticut – I started my period. It was awesome because it was pouring rain, the kind of rain where you are sure dogs are hitting your car and your wipers cannot work fast enough to wipe off the damn rain, and 4200 semis are passing you at the same time, and you are trying to read your goddamn map because you are sure you’ve missed your exit, and then you try to drink your coffee and spill it down your dress and then you say “FUCK!” and your 10 year old smart-ass child(whom you do love) says “Mother, watch your language! You know there’s a three year old in the car!” And you yell back “Unless you want to get your skinny ass up here and navigate or drive this beast to get your sisters to our destination safely, then I suggest you shut your mouth and just ignore your mother until the rain stops!” And then right at that moment you think ‘Man, my belly all of a sudden feels strange’ and you think ‘Diarrhea?’ but then you sneeze and a massive clot shoots out of your vagina and onto your white Spanx and you’re like “Oh, it’s just my period – 15 days early. OF COURSE!” And now you reading this are like “You wear Spanx when you drive?” and I’m like “I wear Spanx when I sleep.”

So then you yell “FUCK!” again as you make eye contact in the mirror with your 10 year old and give her the  “DON’T YOU EVEN THINK ABOUT OPENING YOUR MOUTH!” look and you wonder if you can grab your purse and find that old tampon from last month that must be still in there, yes dusty and full of goldfish cracker crumbs, but still in there, and if you find it, how will you move your Spanx to the side to insert the tampon while you are driving in a torrential rainstorm, in a state you’ve never driven in, being passed by thousands of trucks, holding your damn phone as your only navigational system(even though the damn thing doesn’t even talk, so it’s of no use), and drink your coffee.

 

See, this is shit you don’t think about when you are planning to take a road-trip ALONE with three children!!! WHO IS IN CHARGE OF EMERGENCY TAMPON INSERTION WHEN DRIVING!? These are the things that travel bloggers don’t talk about. Because if I didn’t insert the tampon immediately, well the front seat of our van would look like an accident roadkill scene that no child should ever see. Do you know what it’s like to have your period in your mid-40s? Well, let me tell you, it’s no Tampax commercial with a young virginal woman running in fields with flowers in her hair while wearing white short-shorts who stops to kiss her boyfriend(Adam Levine in my dream) on the cliff above the Pacific Ocean, and then smiles and cartwheels away with no blood stains on her white shorts. She’s a happy woman-child because her PERIOD STARTED TODAY – OHYAY!

 

No, my periods are more like the volcanic eruptions of Mount Vesuvius with some crazy lady who is bloated like Honey Boo Boo’s mother yet wielding a knife like Lorena Bobbit, and all men in the village have to stay inside their homes for at least 7-10 days until I feel better. This is also why I now believe you should have children when you’re younger, so you are only about 30 when you are explaining your beautiful monthly visit from Aunt Flo to your tween daughters and you can still do it with a smile on your face as you explain what a wonder the human body is and why you have your incredibly beautiful and miraculous period each month. Instead, at nearly 45 my talk is more like “You will fucking hate life and everyone in it for 7-10 days and the best part is when you are 16 and you decide to wear white shorts out on your date with that guy you like and then during your date you start your period and you will be mortified because of the blood on your shorts, and the hot guy will see it, and then you have to drop out of school. The End.”

 

This makes me not qualified to have tween daughters. Which is why my 10 year old still doesn’t know about periods.

 

So just then I spot an exit sign and on the services listed there is a DUNKIN’ DONUTS and I’m like OMG I hate DUNKIN’ DONUTS and seriously have never understood this East Coast hype of HORRIBLE coffee, but hell – right now – this looks like the best thing ever invented of ALLTHETHINGS! So we pull off at the exit and into the DD parking lot. I can’t tell my daughters that we are stopping because mommy started her period and needs to take care of things STAT, because my daughters don’t know about these kinds of things, so instead I yell LET’S GET DONUTS!  And now, the code word for periods is DONUTS. Every month I will just yell TIME TO MAKE THE DONUTS  and you know I’m just really bleeding to death in the bathroom. So, I cross my legs as I usher the kids inside for DONUTS and give Eloise $20 and tell her to buy anything they want – in fact buy ALLTHEDONUTS while I excuse myself to go to the bathroom(DONUTS!).

 

So they had sugar and sprinkles and frosting, and after I cleaned myself up and inserted my tampon while standing still and not driving 65 mph, I filled my mug with bad coffee and we were on our way to our destination.

 

And I wondered if tampon insertion would ever show-up as an option when you sign-up for roadside assistance with Triple A.

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Listening To Your Mother – A Recap

I think I’m depressed. You know that feeling of pouring your complete heart, soul, body and mind into something for many months…

 

..and then it happens. Which means it’s over.

 

And then you wonder what to do with yourself the next day. And the next. And the next.

 

When all you want to do is rewind to the week before that big thing and do it ALL AGAIN because it was such a beautiful labor of love and you just want it all back and for it never to end and you try to figure out how to bottle up all of the people who have now forever changed your life and put them in your pocket and carry them around next to your heart forever. But you realize that you cannot physically do that. So instead you just walk around in a daze for a week and ponder the meaning of life and maybe drive by their houses and start stalking them on Facebook because you just really really want to hug them again, but can’t because – WEIRD – to let them know you are stalking them.

I so love my partners in crime - Heather, Vikki and Galit.

So you just have to slap yourself across the face and wake the eff up and get on with your life and realize that you do have them close to you – because they shared their words with YOU and 500+ others and you will forever have those words to remember them by. Those words of motherhood – the babies, the pets, the children, the mothers, the jobs, the teens, the college students, the silly things and the sad.

 

All of the words of motherhood that connect us.

 

I still cannot believe we did it – made Listen To Your Mother – Twin Cities happen. But it did. And it was more than we could have ever hoped – from the submissions, the auditions, the talented cast, the sponsors, the cause, the theater, the community, the audience, our families, and just everything. It was honestly near perfect. Which really scared the absolute shit out of me.

Our cast received a standing ovation and hoots and hollers and hundreds of hugs after the show. Their stories and words touched hundreds of hearts – from kids to moms to dads to loves and strangers.

 

Everyone listened.

 

Even my kids. My kids were there. I told them they didn’t have to come – it would be boring for them – listening to moms read for 90 minutes – just stay home and watch Good Luck Charlie.

But they came. I didn’t see them after the show. They rushed home to get to bed from a very late evening for them. When I got home at nearly 1am, I went into their rooms and kissed their foreheads and tucked them back in as I listened to their steady breathing. The next morning they could not stop talking about the show. The listened and they remembered every reader, every story, every name and every subject. They had favorites and questions and could not stop talking about how much they loved the show. For the next three days they kept referencing the program to try to learn more about our cast and they spent time on their individual blogs to see their kids and learn more about their stories.

 

And they told me that we did a good job.

 

And could not wait to see it again next year.

 

Next year. Which means I cannot sit around being depressed and doing nothing for much longer. Because next year is going to be epic.

Our LTYM - Twin Cities Cast and Crew - Photo Credit - Jennifer Liv Photography

Now go listen to your mother.

 

Thank you Twin Cities for being so damn adorable.

 

**Linking up with The Pleated Poppy for What I Wore Wednesday – I love my dress from Poppy Togs and Clogs -  one of our LTYM Twin Cities sponsors.

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Sleeper-Inners

My days start early. Some earlier than others. I’ve always been an early riser as I’ve followed my parent’s habits of rising before the sun and putting the coffee maker on a timer the night before.

 

I fear my kids are following my example. Sometimes I don’t think that Eloise sleeps at all. I think she just lies motionless and awake in bed waiting for someone to tell her that she can get up. Sometimes at 5:30 as I’m downstairs still dripping sweat from my run, lifting weights or writing a column, she sneaks downstairs and quietly sits on the couch and tells that I can just ignore her until it’s really the usual time that she’s suppose to be up.

 

Astrid is not that quiet. This morning at 5:45 she yelled for me from her bed “Mommy, I need a glass of water RIGHT NOW!” Which pretty much meant she wasn’t going back to sleep, so I put her on the couch with water and a cat and an episode of something so I could finish my workout.

And I don’t feel selfish about that one bit.

 

I spend nearly 24×7 in this house caring for children, so I need that 60 minutes or so each morning of MY OWN to work out and drink a pot of coffee if I want to, and dammit, I’m going to take it. I know the days are short and all of that…but she can wait with the cat for 15 more minutes until I’m done.

 

Because then I’m going to kiss her up and down and snuggle her and not let her go for like forever. Because that’s how yummy she is. She knows that. And frankly she loves some mindless TV in the morning when the light is low and she’s just waking up.

 

Don’t tell me anything different. My mind is comforted this way.

 

Esther is my child that I have to force out of bed. I’ll bet you a million dollars that she’s the one who will want to sleep past noon when she’s a teenager.

 

“Just five more minutes, Mom. Just five more minutes.” Is her mantra when I wake her each morning for school. Sometimes I have to pull off all of her covers and yell in her ear. She’s my Saturday-sleeper-inner and thankfully makes us enjoy some quiet and lazy moments more than I give myself permission to.  I try to thank her for that and apologize to her for the moments that I have to rush her. She’s not the rushing type.

 

Tonight Esther wanted to sleep in Astrid’s bed. Sometimes the big girls do that. I like when it’s Esther and not Eloise, because I fully believe Eloise and Astrid just plot all night about how early they can come downstairs. Hopefully Esther’s calm and sleepy aura will make Astrid sleep until at least 7 tomorrow morning.

 

I doubt it. But it’s worth a try, because I have so much coffee to drink tomorrow.

 

Just write.

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One Week – Feeling Lucky – LTYM- Cat Planking

The rock I’ve been hiding under, or pushing through fields, up mountains, across oceans, and through arid deserts with my dear friends Vikki, Heather, and Galit, will finally arrive to the Twin Cities next Thursday.

I can’t believe I’m saying those words – but yes, Listen To Your Mother will debut in Minneapolis on May 9th. I currently feel like the luckiest person in the word. Lucky that I’m involved in such a movement as this one that celebrates motherhood through all of it’s good, bad, laughable, sad and downright silly. Lucky that I’ve gotten to know my new lifelong friends even better…and I can now stalk them comfortably and they won’t think twice about it.

 

Lucky that we have such a great community in the Twin Cities that supports the arts, the written word, the spoken word, the theaters, the everyday moms and dads and kids. Lucky that we have an amazing cast for our show who is going to wow you and make your cry one moment and the next they will make you stand up and cheer. Their brave, beautiful and incredible stories are going to be told. Told.

Next week.

 

Lucky that I have a family that supports these endeavors, the long Google chats, the midnight emails, the trips to Target for chocolate, the time away for auditions and rehearsals. Lucky that I know Ann, the woman who started this all and let me be even a small part of the wow.

Lucky for the press we’ve received, honored to help our local charity, and overwhelmed by our local sponsors who also believe in this show and in our community.

 

I’m also lucky to have a gorgeous dress to wear for the evening from my favorite local St. Paul shop – Poppy Togs and Clogs. It’s my go-to place for dresses, scarves and jewelry. Jill knows my style and always has a great selection and great tips for styling.

So to get ready to show my arms and tighten my abs, I’ve been planking every day. As a LTYM team, we’ve decided that daily planking is required for the next week. I’ve stepped it up a bit though and added a cat on my back for extra difficulty.

Cat-back planking will soon be all the rage. Trust me.

 

But whether you plank with a cat, or frankly plank at all, I hope you’ll join us next Thursday night, May 9th for LTYM-Twin Cities!

 

Tickets to Listen To Your Mother – Twin Cities are for sale still at $15 each, and will be $20(cash) at the door. Come join us and enjoy an evening of celebration. I promise it will make you want to stand up and voice your story. It’s truly an honor to be in this space, this time, this community right now.

 

Happy May. Happy Mother’s Day. xo

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Monday Monday

Listen To Your Mother Twin Cities happens in 10 days. TEN DAYS. So now it’s the little details that need to be completed. A million little details. So each and every single minute of every day I’m thankful for my partners in crime on this magical adventure. Do you all know how amazing Vikki, Galit and Heather are? We like each other so much that we’re seriously considering becoming the first all girl middle-aged introverted rap group.

 

But this post is not about that. This post is about Minnesota..and old school blogging. Remember when it was okay to just post some nice, but maybe not awesome pictures and not worry if you would have a pin-worthy image or if your post had the potential to go viral because of your magnificent words?

 

This post is not magnificent.

 

I just want to show you my house and my street last Monday. Last Monday – seven days ago.

And today. This Monday. Today.

 

To say that we’ve done some major, last-minute Summer wardrobe and sandal shopping would be a gross understatement.

I want to thank Nordstrom for their amazing European sandal selection for girls, and Justice for having shorts and dresses with just the right about of bling.

 

I’d also like to thank the inventor of the maxi-dress for allowing me to cover my white legs. Maybe my next post will be ‘Ode To A Maxi-Dress’ – or maybe I’ll talk about the weather some more, because damn weather is interesting.

 

Or not.

I’d also like to note that our ice cream trunk man disappeared for two years. TWO YEARS. After six years of driving down our street every night from April until October, when you disappear for TWO YEARS, well your absence is noted by children who talk about your absence for TWO YEARS every night from April until October. We were so concerned the first year that we spent months driving around St. Paul looking for him, and he was nowhere to be found. So I’ll be damned  if tonight, our ice cream truck man turned the corner onto our street and my kids FREAKED the eff out. Of course the first thing I said to him was “Where the heck have you been????!!!!” He laughed and said “Oh, you missed me – I moved to Colorado for two years but I liked it much better here, so I moved back. I missed your street too!”  I told him to never play with my emotions again, and then I bought a Dreamsicle and all was right with the world.

 

Just write.

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Good

I’m writing this for Jana’s Stream of Consciousness Sunday – so it shall be brief.

******

Esther continued to be sad about her coins. Strangely, it did not dawn on me to actively pursue finding another Canadian One Cent Coin for her. Life went on as Tuesday turned to Wednesday and there was dance, and continued bad news on The News, and homework, and school carnival prep, and breakfast and stuff…and honestly for me, the coin was forgotten.

 

Until I posted the story on Thursday.

And then a Canadian mom at the bus stop brought Esther a bag of coins from Canada, and one of our amazingly talented ladies from LTYM Twin Cities brought Esther three 2-Pence coins from England. I also received no less than 15 messages from strangers on my FB page, who live in Canada, wondering if they might send Esther some coins. I have many blog comments telling me that they would like to send Esther some coins, and my aunt spent time digging though her coin jar to come up with a few Canadian pennies for Esther to have.

 

And the contributions to Esther, to replace her lost coin, continue to come in and overwhelm us.

 

So don’t tell me that evil wins. Ever.

 

Good prevails. People are good. Most of us. The majority of us.

 

I teach my children this and will continue to as the goodness shines bright each day through light and darkness, and tears and laughs.

 

Good is everywhere.

 

Thank you everyone.

xoxo

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Listen To Your Mother Twin Cities Update and Ticket Giveaway

We are less than a month away from the inaugural Listen To Your Mother Twin Cities show! Seriously, so if you don’t see me writing very much over the next few weeks it’s because we are getting ready to put on an amazing show for you all as we celebrate Mother’s Day!

I hope you can join us. Have you heard about our amazing cast? We have the best cast ever that features local talented women who will tell stories from the hilarious to the heartfelt as we give Motherhood a Microphone on May 9th in Minneapolis. Our cast will also feature Lorna Landvik – so you must come!

 

Listen To Your Mother Twin Cities Show Details:

Thursday, May 9th at 7pm at the Riverview Theater

Tickets available for $15 in advance here

(More at the door the day of the show)

 

So bring your mom, your spouse, your kids, your aunts, your grandma, your neighbors and friends and come celebrate Mother’s Day with us this May.

 

If you want to learn more about this inspiring show – just listen and watch this three minute video featuring Ann Imig, the founder of LTYM..

 

And now I know you want to attend – and I have tickets that I’m giving away!!!

 

Leave a blog comment here and enter to win a 2 pack of tickets to the LTYM- Twin Cities show on May 9th! More ways to win by sharing on Facebook and Twitter.  Then go visit Heather, Galit, and Vikki, AND our LTYM-Twin Cities site for more ways to win. We are giving away FOUR 2-packs of tickets to the show.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

And if you just cannot wait around for a week to find out if you’ve won – well just go buy some tickets now and we’ll see you there for sure!

 

See you all on May 9th and thank you to everyone for supporting this great event!

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Date Night

Jed and I are going out on a date tonight. It’s been nearly five years since our last one, and that one truly didn’t count because I was pregnant..very early pregnant..and very sick. I ended up throwing up my dinner before we even left the restaurant. Our reservations were for 6pm and I was home and in bed miserably sick by 8:30. But that date was actually with another couple..as were the dates previous to that..and previous to that. So I’ve been trying to remember the last time the two of us just went out – with, well just the two of us…alone.

 

I’m going to go with 2003 – in June I think? We went to see Fleetwood Mac in concert when Eloise was about six months old. But we didn’t stay for the whole show because I was nursing and was sure she’d wake to eat and I didn’t want to be gone more than two hours.

 

So, let’s just say that it’s been 10 years since we’ve gone on a date. Alone. Three kids, four losses, two houses, three dead cats, two alive cats, and the purchase of a minivan since we had dinner at a restaurant without a kids menu.

 

So of course we just decided this last night and reached out to the universe(twitter) to find out where grown-ups eat nowadays. We even called a few new, hip places where the young-ens go. They still have tables available at 9:45pm and 10:00pm..which if we were in Barcelona, it would be the early seating. However, this is St. Paul and dinner needs to be served by 7:00 to still have a reasonable bedtime. I even heard Jed say to one establishment “Yeah, we are in our mid-40s with three kids – no can do 10pm dinner.”  I have a feeling they won’t even let us in for a drink at this point.

 

And then of course is the fear that this ‘date’ build-up over the last 24 hours is just too much. I mean what if we to find an amazing place to dine and then the food sucks, and it’s loud and costs $200 and we hate it? I mean – 10 years to wait for a shitty meal is just devastating. How can any date now live up to the perfection I’ve worked up in my mind of what this should be? Seriously, at this point if it’s not plane tickets to Hawaii and our own private table on the beach, then this dinner will most certainly suck.

 

I’ve almost reached the point of panic that take-out Chinese food, Argo OnDemand and yoga pants sounds heavenly and obviously is really the best answer – because has a night like that ever been disappointing?  Seriously, it’s served me so well for 10 years that I cannot imagine a 5 star restaurant  could even get my anxieties off the baby-puke stained couch at this point.

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