Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

I am going to make a confession.

I hate summer.


Perhaps I have confessed that before on this blog, and certainly those in my life are well aware of this fact. I’m just of Eastern European stock, man. I need icicles. I just do not fare well in the heat. I wilt a little. It’s terrible for my curly hair. And nobody wants details on how my stomach reacts to the indoor/outdoor cold/hot, cold/hot of a summer party. Blech.

I’m still kind of amazed that I lived in Florida for seven years. I was indoors most of the time.

But I digress … .

Like most parents, my life is now more about my children, and since 50% of the children in my household are now in school full time (Max), and didn’t qualify for ESY (Extended School Year), I decided back in the spring that we’d keep ourselves as busy as possible this summer. I’d try to … oh goodness, “embrace” it.

An oh, are we ever. I found one summer camp in all of Northern Virginia that would take an ASD kid his age. We did two weeks in June, and it was amazing. We had to drive for almost an hour to get there, and there was a mall about fifteen minutes away. So Andy and I would head to the indoor play park, ride the carousel and have a grand time while we waited. (It brought back great memories of my years in retail.) We’d pick up Maxamillion, go have lunch, and go home and crash for the afternoon.

After camp ended we did Ohio trip number one of the summer, where we landed around the Fourth of July. We had a barbeque, went to the beach, went to the pool, went to the zoo, visited friends on their new farm (Max loved the pigs, Andy rode a backhoe), saw all of our family and lots of friends. I even spent half a day in a salon. Amazing, this trip.

That baby was crazy for the elephants. He was hugging the stuffed one I paid $1,585,404.68 for today.

That baby was crazy for the elephants. He was hugging the stuffed one I paid $1,585,404.68 for today.

They were doing some kind of weird reindeer call with their lips. Boys.

They were doing some kind of weird reindeer call with their lips. Boys.

Who can resist boys and sand? Totally immersed. This was seriously our most relaxing day this summer. And I hate the beach!

Who can resist boys and sand? Totally immersed. This was seriously our most relaxing day this summer. And I hate the beach!


Now at my mom’s house, Max sleeps upstairs and either my mom (if Ned/Thor/Gunnar is with us) sleeps upstairs, or I do. But Andy, historically, has slept in the spare bedroom in a crib or a pack-n-play.

Until this trip, when he was having none of that, I had to compromise and that left us with a pack-n-play wedged between the dresser and bed in my mom’s room, me in my mom’s bed and my mom in the spare room upstairs with Mikey. Goodness.

Good thing Nana loves them. Who else would help them water the driveway?

Good thing Nana loves them. Who else would help them water the driveway?

Then we get home and it’s a week with Andy of sitting in his room for an hour while he cries himself to sleep, busting out the serious crib toy with bubbles and fishies and music and lights, and crossing my fingers he doesn’t jump out of the crib. Again.

Eventually sleep became sleep and we continued our summer ’o fun. I survived a pool playdate without anyone drowning or injuring themselves. We have made returns to the animal park where despite the mud and dirt and well, lots of animal saliva (yuck) and super amounts of sunshine, the boys have … fun. FUN! Remember fun?

This sloth sees right into my soul.

This sloth sees right into my soul.


This sloth can see into my soul. And so can the llama.

And so can the llama.

Speaking of pigs …

That boy loved them pigs. That mud loved them shoes too.

That boy loved them pigs. That mud loved them shoes too.

Seriously. Max luuuuuuved the pigs.

So now we’re plotting another Ohio/New York trip combo, a week to chill back at home and then our big annual birthday trip to celebrate Andy’s second birthday and Max’s *gulp* FIFTH birthday.

And for the first time IN MY LIFE I’m kind of almost a little bit sad for summer to be rushing by so fast. I mean, I like the idea of embracing, of going of doing (that’s the Gemini in me). But to not wish away summer for a delicious pumpkin spice latte? Blashphemy!


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This blog is being brough to you by my very new computer, purchased in a hasty click last week while I watched the last 20 minutes of my old computer’s battery die like a kind of horrible NYE ball drop. Dammit.

That’s the kind of holiday season we’ve been having around here. I ordered the wrong photos for our Christmas card. We got our tree two weeks late because of child illness and rain (and the post-rain mud put a little damper on things). Said late tree is crooked, and so about 1/3 of the ornaments are not on it. And at least half of our decorations for the house are still in boxes. The most festive part of our home is the outside–and that is because Ned/Thor/Gunnar put effort in to put up lights.

We’re celebrating a half Christmas.

Some years are like this, I know. The year Max was born, I told my friends and family that I would not be making Christmas cookies that year. There were some long faces. But what can you do? I got to the point this season where I wanted to just cancel putting up a tree.  I was missing the spirit. I looked at all the elfing I had to do and all I saw was work.

I partially blame Thanksgiving. It came too late. But this still doesn’t make me want to start the holiday season on Labor Day. I mean, c’mon. There were just too many deadlines and not enough time. Even though I cut back and even though I did most of my shopping online. The boys kept getting sick. It seemed like any moment I was able to stop and look around, all I wished I could do was take a nap.

I wonder if my mother felt this way. I know we never baked Christmas cookies together. She worked a crazy amount over the holiday season (she was the breadwinner) and didn’t have the time. She would stay up until 2:00 a.m. on Christmas Even to get the presents wrapped and if we were hosting, cleaning the house getting ready for company the next day. I wonder if she only put out half the decorations and skipped sending cards.

More than anything, I miss that luxury of being able to enjoy the holiday. To watch a Christmas movie all the way through, or spend an entire day shopping for gifts, or even being able to attend a church service. (We live in the country. Our church has one service at 8:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve … it’ll be a few years before they’ll stay up for that one.)

Moon-600So now the sick little man Max is in bed, feverish but still I think, sweet as pie as he falls asleep under his new moon nightlight. And little bug Andrew is protesting in his crib that Christmas is over. I think, in the end, we try and re-create our own childhood memories of Christmas. And often fail. But to them, it was perfect. This was an awesome day.


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There. It. Is.

It’s like a sentence all its own. Everybody knows somebody who knows somebody who has a child that is autistic. Everybody that knows somebody feels relief and sadness when they hear this news. I feel so sorry for them. I’m so glad it’s not my child.

It has taken me awhile to write about it. I think because when we first got the official diagnosis for Max, we were shocked. He made eye contact at home with us. He spoke, although he could not tell us what he wanted. He was very affectionate. He was not rocking himself to sleep in a corner.

But there it was. Like some horrible end-of-the-world kind of sentence.


We didn’t tell many people. There’s a good amount of fear in the judgment and reaction from others about this diagnosis. And, we wanted to wait and see.

We began what we need to begin, which you can read more about on A is for Autism on this site. We were able to get an IEP, and he’s been in a specialized classroom since March of this year. He is beginning to really talk and vocalize his wants and needs. He loves his private speech therapist. He loves going to school, and riding on the bus. In many ways, he is a happy and healthy kid.

And yet.

I suppose I also put off writing about it because I didn’t know where this was going to end up. I had nothing but questions and no answers. And as a writer, and even as an editor, I’m a research-y, fact-checking kind of girl. I like my ducks in a row. And ASD is not a duck-in-a-row kind of thing.

I tried the one and only online forum I knew of, and lasted approximately one post before I decided to not go there again. (The moms were too … intense there.) It was too much information for me to process, and way too many acronyms. I left feeling overwhelmed and unprepared.

I tried just reading posts to glean information I could apply to my son, but that’s the tricky thing about autism. Each kid is completely different. No kid was just like my kid. It was frustrating. One issue could be addressed by going to XYZ organization that was local to that mom’s state. My son may have the same issue, but my state doesn’t have such a service. You get the gist.

Being in rural VA has not helped. I know one mom who has a son that is also autistic, and in Max’s class. There is one parent organization that covers ALL of northern Virginia, which spans four huge counties. I often will drive over an hour to attend a seminar or event.

And yet.

Max has meltdowns. Beyond tantrums. The kind of event that has me following him around the house for an hour to stop him from breaking something or hurling a toy through a window or biting his brother or banging his head against the floor. He will hit, kick, slap, bite, and even head-butt me to express his anger when given an opportunity.

He is sensory-seeking, which means we have gone through the following phases as he looks for sensory input: stimming (stimulating) an object close to his eyes usually while humming a noise; sticking his hand down the back of his pants (and yes, often coming up with something, and wiping it on the floor, the couch, the walls, the windows); sticking his fingers up his nose and wiping that on the floor, the couch, the walls, the windows (I buy a lot of Windex); and spitting—on his brother, on the floor, the couch, the walls, the windows.

For a parent, it is not fun. It often is hard to remember why you love your child. It most certainly, at times, is difficult to enjoy your child. Many times you miss out on the “normal” milestones in his life. It is often hard to remember not to yell. Or spank or even punch a wall yourself. There are days where all you do is correct your kid, yell and try time out, hoping it doesn’t turn into another meltdown.

So from time to time, I may share some of the tidbits and tricks I have learned in parenting an autistic child. I may vent about his behavior. I may cry that he’s never going to reach “normal.” But I’m finally ready to talk about our journey, and hope that it helps.

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This is not just an apt illustration of what a frazzled mom looks like. I’m not playing with metaphor here, I’m playing with reality. This is my actual hair people, after a long day of boys, wrestling, corralling and wrangling.

Seriously. These kids have destroyed my hair. Not only is it a mangled, frizzy mess at the end of the day, but I now constantly fight a halo of smaller, newly-grown hairs to replace the ones I’ve lost. Lost because my very long, ungroomed, undyed hair is completely unkempt in not a clip, not a ponytail, but a bun. Every day it ends up this way.

I need help.

And I’ve not even started in on my eyebrows. Or the bags under my eyes. Or the fact that my eyes have experience two brand-new, out-of-the box sets of contacts this week, because I am too tired to remember to put them IN THE SOLUTION at night after I pluck them out of my eyes, and I wake up to dry, shriveled little contact shells.

I digress. It’s a mom thing. And here I am. I have become the mom I swore I wouldn’t become. You know the mom: The one that wears yoga pants outside at least once a day (bus, trash, mail, whatevs). The mom that is featured on makeover shows because she let herself go. The mom who wears the same two pairs of shorts and four shirts every single week because she just cannot bear to go out and buy more fat clothes and keeps ignoring the ones her pre-baby body fit in to. The mom who is trying to keep up with a one-year-old, a four-year-old with a disability, and work and house and no family and no friends nearby to help, and if the baby wakes up at 6:00 a.m. every freaking morning, what time is said mom supposed to get up to work out?

Some days I wish they could do that thing in sci fi shows, where they take away your sleep. And then you can have 24 hours every day in which to get things done. Because you don’t need to sleep. You just keep going and going … but then, the world of magic kicks in and you realize you’ve created an evil twin version of yourself, but hulkier, and possibly with greenish skin, who’s gonna break some glass and bust some heads and … wait. That was totally an episode of Angel.

Again, digression. Lack of sleep. Sleep! I love sleep. Lately, when Andrew is napping and Max and I are in the playroom, I find sleep just throws a sack over my head and carries me away for ten minutes. Or an hour. It’s blissful. Until I wake up. And find that Max has done something horrible. Like throw an entire bin full of dried beans under the couch.

I don’t know what to do to break this cycle. It’s a sun up, sun down kind of job, motherhood. And I don’t know if any good solutions exist to help me out of this, short of hiring a nanny. Or a maybe a house cleaner. (Let’s face it, I’m too embarrassed by the state of my house when it IS dirty to have a stranger come over and clean up my mess and make it not dirty.)

I think we just have to ride the wave. And not forget to call the salon ….

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20140205_085303A few weeks ago, I was calmly eating a stack of pancakes with warm maple syrup, enjoying my second cup of coffee as I peered out the window to an icy, icy day. It actually was quite beautiful. There is something peaceful about seeing the trees all frozen, much like a morning of fully-blanketed snow.

This quiet morning was the antithesis of my previous day, which made me laugh in hindsight, because I’m sure there are people who wonder what the life of a working-stay-at-home-mom (WSAHM) looks like. Here we go:

It’s 11:00 p.m. on Thursday night, and I’m in bed with my husband, Ned, aka Ned/Thor/Gunnar, aka NTG. This is early for me, but I’m not pumping tonight, and I’m exhausted from both kids waking up in the middle of the night the previous evening. And I have a giant proof to work on in the morning.

To ensure at least five hours of sleep, we’ve put the baby to bed rather late (around 10:00 p.m.) and nursed him twice in two hours. That oughtta do it.

At three thirty in the morning, I hear my eldest son, Max, begin to stir in his room. Thirty seconds later he’s in the hallway crying. NTG is up and out of bed, in his underwear, and I’m dragging myself out from under the covers. This is how it works, always. My brain wakes up and my bladder, which is processing about 100 to 120 ounces of water per day (breastfeeding momma), screams “I GOTTA GO!” So I go.

I get into the hallway and Max is lying in the doorway of his bathroom, NTG hovering over him going, “I dunno what’s wrong.” When Max sees me, he gets up. I pick him up and immediately am hit by the wall of smell: puke. I call to NTG, “Ned, he smells like vomit.” This also, is how it works: the kid wants mommy, so daddy has to go on puke patrol. Ned checks Max’s room and his bed, but there’s nothing.

So I get Max changed and calmed down and back to bed by 4:00 a.m. NTG cannot go back to sleep, so he camps out in the spare bedroom with his Droid. I, like most moms of young children, am asleep in seconds.

And then the baby wakes at five fifteen. I linger ’til five thirty, and then I spend the next half hour changing and nursing. I fall back into bed, and am re-awakened by the sound of Max getting up, seeing everyone else is asleep, and scurrying downstairs to make trouble. When I check the clock, it’s not quite eight.

So I drag myself out of bed and to the spare room to wake Ned, who I know has a conference call at 8:30 a.m. (Yeah, yeah, I’m Wife of the Year.) I go downstairs to check on Max, who still smells faintly of vomit, and try to get him to drink some water as I stumble around a full sink of dishes trying to make coffee.

And then, I feed the cat.

Max loses it. It’s his newest threenager move: he freaks whenever I’m feeding Andrew cereal, or the cat his breakfast/lunch/dinner. Terrible really, I totally don’t get it. I deal with that hot mess for about ten minutes until NTG comes downstairs to take over, and I go up and get the baby up. Again. I make a note while I’m in the bathroom to refill the soap dispenser.

Once Andy is settled into chewing a blue elephant rattle, I get to work stripping Max’s bed and throwing in a load of clothes. I, of course, have a load of dry laundry yet to be folded sitting in a basket, as well as a full dry load of diapers in the dryer. The morning starts to blur. NTG showers. I draw a bath for Max, finish folding all the laundry. NTG leaves for work and recaps the nights events saying, “I don’t know what that was.” In my head I say, It was puke. Just because you didn’t find it, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. The only thing in the world that smells like puke is puke! I go downstairs to gather up Max and give him a bath. The baby starts to fuss that he’s done for the morning and I leave Max to play while I nurse Andy to sleep. I swap out the washer for the dryer and throw in another load. Max is dried and dressed and refusing to have his nails trimmed. I turn off the light in the bathroom and make a mental note to refill the soap dispenser. I decide to take a shower when my stomach begins to urgently insist I do something about my no-breakfast. It’s ten thirty in the morning.

So I go downstairs to grab a cereal bar, and Max follows me, ready to eat. So I give him juice and water and dry cereal, and pray he keeps it down. Max follows me back upstairs when we’re done eating. I turn on the shower. He protests that I’m running water. I explain I have to get clean too. He’s not buying it.

I proceed to get “ready” for the day and crack open my laptop to check my e-mail. It’s now 11:30 a.m. Nothing urgent, so I enjoy a segment of The View and have a serious discussion with Max about why screaming in the room next to where his brother is sleeping isn’t a good idea.

I get downstairs to sit at my desk, which is in a gated-off part of our finished basement, and actually start working. I make one phone call and turn on the monitor. The baby is awake. *sigh* I trudge back upstairs to change his diaper, and end up changing his outfit because he’s leaked a bit, swap out clothes from the washer to the dryer, curse that I still haven’t remembered to fill the soap dispenser, and mentally decide to not take both boys out for a quick grocery run and make NTG do it instead. I get back downstairs to my office and as soon as I walk into the playroom, I can tell Max has pooped.

So all the way back upstairs to change a diaper (we cloth diaper, so trudging upstairs to our diapering station is a must.) I make another mental note to fetch the liquid soap from under the kitchen sink and refill the damn soap dispenser. Why is my stomach rumbling? It’s lunch time. I’ve not gotten a lick of work done. I decide to write this blog instead, because if I don’t, it’ll be 5:00 p.m. and I’ll be ready for a nap and a glass of wine. Or both.

I somehow get through lunch, another nap for the baby, a dozen emails regarding the font size of my latest book project, Max having a good twenty-minute door slamming fest, starting rice for dinner (cashew chicken, yum), getting the baby up from the nap, two more diaper changes and waiting for NTG to finally get home.

But he doesn’t get home. It’s the worst time of day, really, the witching hour for babies. By 6:00 p.m., I’m prepping food for Max, cereal for the baby, and prepping the meal for NTG and I so when he gets home, all I have to do is cook. In French they call this preparatory cooking mise en place. I call it the calm before the storm.

Max manages to keep himself busy enough while I feed Andrew cereal mixed with formula (because I didn’t pump last night, so I don’t have enough breastmilk to mix in). He doesn’t mind. We’re a little more than halfway through the feeding when Max climbs into my lap to whine about said feeding of his little brother. And … he smells. *sigh* Where is your father? So I quickly finish up the baby, wipe his face, carry the baby upstairs to his crib, come back downstairs and carry Max upstairs (’cause he’s still not over that whole Mommy-carry-me-I-still-want-to-be-the-baby thing). As I’m changing Max, Andy is crying. Max has leaked a little from his diaper, so I decide to just put pjs on him. Andy’s revving up. Where the eff is your father? I get Max set, and he wants me to carry him back downstairs. I call to Andy, “Mommy’ll be right back,” as if that will placate my non-speaking infant, get Max to the kitchen table and his dinner, tell him, “Mommy’ll be right back,” as I climb back upstairs to a now-screaming baby who just. Wants. To. Sleep.

Ned/Thor/Gunnar walks in the door just as I’m getting Andy to latch on.

I finally get to my proof once both children are sleeping. I finish writing this blog at 12:44 p.m.

And people wonder, what we moms do all day at home. I hope I was able to clear that up. We forget to fill soap dispensers.

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One evening, shortly after my last blog post was announced via social media, my dear husband Ned was cruising through his nightly ritual on his smartphone: looking at crap on the Internet. He came across my post and said, “Oh, is this your blog?”

*sigh* yes, Ned that is my blog. The one you’ve only read once before.

And he proceeded to read it. Halfway though, he asked me, “Who is ‘Max’?”

*sigh sigh* I explained to him that was his son’s name-change-to-protect-the-innocent. I then pointed out that I was “Molly” and he was “Ned.”

“Ned? Ned!” he protested. “You named me Ned?” I laughed. He glowered and said, “At the very least you could have named me something that fits. Like Thor or Gunnar.”

Seriously? This from He Who Never Reads My Writing? (Really, I’m okay with that part. It’s a long-standing tradition that none of my family really has an awareness of my published life. It is best, I have learned, that these people just stay out of it.)

So to honor Ned/Thor/Gunnar, and to celebrate Father’s Day, I give you my top ten things that fathers do. (Because, let’s face it, much of what they do falls into the pet peeve category for most moms; and well, we have girlfriends for that sort of talk.)

1.  The Shock of Poop. Ned/Thor/Gunnar gets the bedtime detail, just based on scheduling. I get the majority of diapers and getting Max up and putting him down, so nighttime is it for NTG. I’m usually in the laundry room while the poopy diaper is being ensconced, which is almost always followed by, “Oh dear GOD!” or “Jesus, what is your mother feeding you?” I laugh and laugh. Laugh harder when I then hear, “Max, no! Don’t put your hand there!” Hehehehehe.

One time when Max was just a few months old, we were traveling with him over the holidays. The moment we got to our seats on the plane, I could tell he’d pooped. NTG said he’d take him, and headed off to the airplane bathroom. He got back to our seats, handed me the baby and said, “Woah. That was a five-sheeter.”

2.  It’s Hard Enough Remembering to Feed the Cat. This sounds terrible, I know, but it is an universal dad thing. I have mom friends that leave their husbands detailed lists of what to feed the child, or just make everything themselves. Whenever I am out on the weekend—errands, grocery store, whatever—I will get the call from NTG, or I’ll check in with him, and we have the following conversation:

NTG: So um, I think maybe I should feed him lunch.

Me: Yes, yes. It is 12:30. Lunch is a good idea.

NTG: What do you want me to give him?

Me: *insert boring list of toddler lunch food items*

NTG: Okay. Sounds good, baby, see you later.

I then come home to find out my son ate nuts on the couch with NTG. Or Cheese-Its in the playroom. Or NTG saying, “He ate a bunch of those cheese puffs, but that was about it.”

3.  That’s Mr. Daddy. One of my most favorite things that NTG does: he teaches our son. Tools, putting together shelves, helping set up the big-boy bed. NTG is patiently narrating the entire way, letting Max participate. Laughing every time Max imitates the sound of the drill. It’s awesome.

4.  What Routine? Out to lunch on a Saturday, and Max had inhaled a buttered muffin, a bowl of grapes and a few tablespoons of ketchup via a few dozen French fries. We paid the bill, and were getting ready to go. I reached into the diaper bag and pulled out a wipe, and handed it to Ned/Thor/Gunnar. He looked at the wipe, and then at me, and asked, “What am I doing with this?”

I gave him a blank stare. He said, “Oh …” and proceeded to wipe up our son. I could not stop laughing at him.

5.  Fashion Sense Isn’t Needed at Night. In the morning, I’ll look at my son, who is wearing his “I’m Crabby” pj top with his construction vehicle pj bottoms, and ask NTG: How did this happen? He almost always responds with, “What? I just reach in and grab.” Clearly.

6.  Daddies Hang Out Better Than Anyone. See the image below for evidence. When this is just NTG messing with his smartphone for a half-hour at a time, it makes me crazy. But add the kiddo into the mix, and it’s cute. They’re like peas and carrots, those two.

MC Apr 13 012

7.  Brute Strength. This is helpful because sometimes kids just want to hug their mommies, or bite them, or hit them or do whatever they want (not what the parent wants), ’cause moms don’t retaliate. Also, some things are just heavy. Having dad around is invaluable, especially in the following situations:

  • Removing a screaming, kicking toddler from a room.
  • Transferring a screaming, kicking toddler from the park to a car seat.
  • Quickly moving a 30-pound kid up a flight of stairs.
  • Pack-muling it through an airport with a stroller, a carryon and a car seat in a protective cover strapped to his back.
  • Holding an infant still for first-time bloodwork, while Mom paces the room. (Dad may cry through this process. It’s allowed.)

8.  Teaching Inappropriate Things. My father was good at this. (He was notorious for teaching babies how to make raspberries.) Sofar, NTG has taught Max how to sing the Hofbräuhaus drinking song: “eins, zwei, g’suffa” (one, two, drink). I ignorantly thought this meant, “one, two, three.” No, now Max sings it, and clinks your glass three times with his sippy cup before he chugs his milk. Max also quite enjoys chanting: “Zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi!”

Other offensives include: “hubba, hubba, hubba” and “Oh, sexy girlfriend!” From Parenthood, and Sixteen Candles, respectively. At least he’s not taught him, “No more yanky my wanky.” Goodness.

9.  They Love Kid Food. Sometimes I think that Ned/Thor/Gunnar prefers veggie chips and peanut butter toast to the coconut-crusted chicken with mango salsa dinners I prepare for him. Truly, between NTG and Max, I need to buy peanut butter, cheese crackers and Oreos in bulk. Whenever Max is done eating, his father isn’t far behind, snatching up grilled cheese and declaring, “This is delicious!”

10.  They’re Human Jungle Gyms. This also includes scary monsters, hide-and-seek, and wrestling. All code for: Daddies take the abuse. Just this morning I awoke to NTG and Max goofing around in Max’s bedroom. Ned/Thor/Gunnar is lying on the floor, his legs bent and feet firmly planted on the carpet, while Max proceeds to climb up and slide down his legs like NTG is his own personal playset.

I am told this kind of activity comes with a certain risk to man parts, but today, as I watch my boys, I notice NTG is uncomfortably resting his head in his hands. I ask, “Would you like a pillow?” He says yes, and I promptly give him the one off of Max’s big boy bed. NTG happily rests his head for about 30 seconds, until Max suddenly stops playing, stands up, walks over to his father, and yanks the pillow out from under NTG’s head. Max then runs into the other room, and throws the pillow into it, taking it as far away from his daddy as he can. Like, “Bam! That’s where that shit goes!”

I laughed so hard, I cried.

So there you go, NTG. All of the daddy-like things we love about you. Happy Father’s Day.

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Oh … romance. What is that?

So the lack of dating for most parents can be the result of several factors. Time is usually a huge one, and finding a night to go out in and of itself can be a challenge. Then there is finding a sitter, plotting and planning for your child to be fed/bathed/rocked while you and the other parent are absent. For some parents, you may even weigh the financial setback of a date night. Between dinner, drinks, movie, show, whatever … and paying a babysitter … it seems easier to order pizza and cough up the five bucks for pay-per-view.

But, my mom was visiting from Ohio and stayed for a whole week, so Saturday night, it felt like we had the time. Ned and I talked about it and thought we’d have a relaxing dinner, go see a movie … things we don’t really do anymore.

So the movie was a challenge, not really much that we were dying to see, and what we did really want to see wasn’t release until the following weekend. But we settled on Cloud Atlas, and dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant. I was ready for a cocktail, heels and a nice bag-o-popcorn.

As I’m putting on makeup and Ned gets out of the shower he says, “Do you really have your heart set on seeing a movie?”

Oh boy, here it comes. He doesn’t plan the date, but now here is a new, bigger, more appealing idea. He wants to drive to a little town over in West Virginia, which has a German restaurant that we really like (goodbye, gnocci) and then hit up one of the other little places in the quaint college town for a drink.

I say okay. I’m trying to be agreeable.

So with no movie to make, I finish drying my hair, put on my face and we head out. It is a half-hour drive, one I rarely enjoy. A windy, hilly country road equals a nauseated Molly. So Ned takes care to drive slowly for me, and we get to the Bavarian restaurant around 7:00 p.m. A huge tent is set up on the property (which doubles as an inn), and we walk up to the pub entrance. It’s closed. We find our way to the main entrance to discover that the only way we’re eating weisswurst is if we crash the wedding that is taking place there. The entire establishment is reserved for the private party.

So we head off to the nearby town and quickly find a cute-looking French bistro. We head in and are asked if we have a reservation. My husband tells the hostess, “No.” She proceeds to tell him that the restaurant is full for the evening. Ned asks, “You mean you have no tables available for the entire night?” She confirms in a voice that says, “Duh. That’s what I just said.”

So we head out, find another restaurant, Italian. Again, we’re asked if we have a reservation. Again no. The hostess walks away from us and returns a millisecond later to say she can seat us at 9:00 p.m. Ned checks his watch. It’s 7:30. Not one seat available out of the dozen at the bar.

We put our name in and leave to wander the streets again, and after ten more minutes in the 40-degree cold, we’re no closer to finding another restaurant. The options for food aren’t great. We’re in a teeny town in the middle of nowhere, civilization is at least another forty-five minutes away. It’s now 7:45 p.m. I’m trying not to curse under my breath. Had we stuck to our original plan, we’d be having dessert and heading to the theater by now.

As we pile back in the car, we spot one last restaurant, and I hop out. They have a beef wellington special and a full bar. Sold. We are ushered in to a dark and dated space, but after a drink we’re feeling better. And just when our date night seems to be salvaged …  the food comes. Oh, boy. Stale bread. A “pizzette” that is nothing more than dough and cheese. The worst beef wellington I’ve ever tasted, which managed to be soggy (pastry) and dry (beef), with mushrooms that still tasted of the earth they grew in. Ned’s food was cold, and the ravioli’s on his plate were clearly created in a factory, not a gourmet kitchen. It was one of the most awful meals we’d ever had.

I couldn’t stop laughing.

I mean, really, what are the chances? Of changing plans at the last minute, one restaurant totally shutting down for one client and two others not leaving tables open for walk-in guests? On the one night we had chosen for a date, the last night my mom would be with us? Holy shit.

Ned tried to save face by taking us to our local coffee house for a drink and dessert. I ate a sugar cookie and drank a chai; but the sweet ending didn’t seem to fit. We hadn’t had a satisfying first or second course.

The upside is, now we owe each other a real date. Sometime before we run out of Saturdays in 2012.

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