Festivus Dinner

Gone are the days of kitchen closings for dinner table behavior that belongs in the bathroom! We have now achieved Festivus, for the rest of us parenting teens. The ‘Seinfeld’ holiday includes the ‘airing of grievances’ during the Festivus meal where each person tells everyone else all the ways they have disappointed them over the past year. Among our three sons, this airing of grievances has surpassed the airing of gas to make your brother laugh.  I don't recall many sit-down meals in my family of four growing up, either because we ate meals on t.v. trays or the ridicule usurped positive memories. The responsibility of parenting dinner time discussion has proven equally challenging when ridicule is forbidden and plates are emptied faster than dog dishes. Over the past decade we've tried sharing highs and lows, emotions on the 'feelings wheel', compliments, and vocabulary games like 'Wild Words'.  Lately the sharing of highs and lows has turned into who can shar

Mystery of the Missing Moccasins

 All I know is the tan suede moccasins were here one day and gone the next. That's really all I can say...  My husband Bruce adored his worn-in moccasins purchased in Vancouver, Canada on a Forced Family Fun (FFF) trip several years ago. He imagined they were stitched together by an indigenous tribe, later to be sold in that souvenir shop where we also bought a deck of Canadian playing cards. Those moccasins were so worn-in that the leather shoe laces had broken and the knots my husband made to tie them tight were barely hanging on, so on his birthday, the year prior to their disappearance, I took the beloved soles, along with the baseball catcher's mitt, to a professional baseball glove restringer.  That was back before Covid and the pandemic kept all six of us confined to our home. Back when FFF meant a rare family movie night and before I lost my marbles to four kids online schooling. Back before perimenopause and parenting four teenage children made me cray-cray. Back befor

Santa Condoms

I thought I'd done everything to protect my kids during the pandemic, from quarantine, to vaccinations and face masks, until Santa came to town. Apparently he wanted to offer vaccinated children who were dating an additional barrier against infection this year!  It was 7 am on the nose Christmas morning and the kids were throwing Schnoodles on us in bed. Like the rousing cup of coffee every parent needs, it was pitch black outside and I could hardly believe it was morning. Grabbing our robes, we hustled downstairs before we missed the destruction of stockings and gift wrappings. Regardless of age, our children were equally excited by the Pez dispensers, Lifesavers and foil wrapped Santas in their stockings, and eager to find out which Schnoodle earned a lump of coal for puking on the carpet or stealing someone's dinner off the table. Board games were to be expected, as Santa enjoys 'Forced Family Fun' as much as we do as parents, despite the teens; but it was the last b

Oscar Disappointment

Dear Will, When I watched your Oscar acceptance speech, tears streaming down your face, I desperately wanted you to apologize for hitting Chris Rock. Instead, I sat stunned next to my 11-year-old son as you gave a selfish academy award performance justifying your superhero actions.  I assume you were still transformed into playing the abrasive character Richard Williams, or perhaps you were avenging your father, who cold-cocked your mother.  I imagine famed star and role-model are not titles you chose. They were assigned to you and carry a weighted burden of responsibility. Last night you showed us you are not superhuman and many of us shook our heads in disbelief. ‘The King’ is really just a man. I wonder if Jada asked for family protection? I imagine she can hold her own. There’s no honor in your actions. When my father broke a yard stick across my back chasing me up the stairs in a drunken rage, I swore I’d never forgive him as I packed my belongings and moved in with a neighbor. As

Love Bites

I sniff my teens. Seriously, when they come home at curfew I take comfort in the 'All Free and Clear' mixed with 'Degree Men's Sport' armpit, which is where my head lands these days. I admit, I also like to see the whites of their eyes. These are the only clues I have when my greetings are inevitably met with hasty grunts and shuttered doors. Rest assured, if they want to drive the car, they must check-in for a clandestine sniffing at curfew. Love bites, as a mom to four teens, and that is where my secret interrogation begins... Peri-menopause exhaustion turns into a caffeine-like buzz at bedtime when my teens are out, despite whatever melatonin induced coma I've attempted. My husband snoring beside me, the warmth of the bedsheets is little comfort to a mama bear awaiting her cubs. The beep of the car door lock outside alerts me it's 11pm on the dot. Not even the two sleeping Schnoodles hear the footsteps up the stairs as my son approaches our bedroom. I sen

Thank God for the RV Trip!

Thank God for the RV trip, I thought to myself packing toiletries one-legged, remembering RV freedom on the open road mired by our family suffering without generator power. A bittersweet memory, I now find myself hobbling on crutches, a torn MCL and ACL, amidst an ice storm. Thanks to last summer's RV tour of ten states with a broken generator, I've lowered my expectations and anxiety, and learned new survival skills. 'Less Is More' is my new mantra and I'm sticking to it come hell or high water, or 'ice apocalypse', as per our current situation. Just when I thought snow days were in my favor, with online learning plowing ahead to occupy my children, mother nature upped her ante, raising us a power outage to challenge our 'forced family fun' quarantine game. Somewhere between clutching a flashlight in my teeth while crutching my way upstairs to bed, our cold house backlit by the moon, and ice dark-thirty in the morning, I raised the white flag surren

Parenting Forced Family Fun In Quarantine

I've always been an overachiever, to a fault. Four children plus two Schnoodle dogs is frickin' crazy, pardon my teenage French! If the ghost of Christmas future had projected my life online schooling four kids in Covid-quarantine, I'd surely have re-thunk Cancun vacations with my husband, where one more 'all-inclusive drink' made another powdery-sweet baby sound easy. Damn, if I’m not cursed by over-shooting my goals! Forced Family Fun has taken on new meaning in quarantine. Family hikes and bike rides? Screw you mom; more screen time! Plus online schooling four kids is borderline insanity.  Mom school. Who am I kidding? I worked in the CIA but never wanted to be a teacher or school principal in disguise. My students are savages and my undercover persona doesn't hold up to children who know I'm just their mom.  My 8th grade son is mainly in detention. He sneaks YouTube while hiding behind a dark camera 99% of students refuse to turn on. Snapchat, Reddit and