2018 Manifesto

1. I will CALM DOWN about October. The arrival of fall fleece weather causes such a frenzy of excitement that I over-schedule every corner of October to take maximum advantage of no longer sweating the instant I open my front door. October then becomes this giant blur. It begins with a couple of mums on the front porch, a giant scarf around my neck and the first hot beverage of the season but it always seems to end in a frantic fit of exhaustion and shame when my kids find me shoving one more snack size Kit Kat in my mouth before I set fire to all of their Halloween candy whilst yelling, “WE FORGOT TO GO TO AN APPLE ORCHARD!” October is crafty in that it promotes itself as this super chill month full of deep breaths and crisp fall air but in actuality, you never stop moving the entire time before tumbling into November and then Thanksgiving which bleeds into the December holidays and then you wake up sometime in January five pounds heavier with wrapping paper stuck to your pajamas. It all begins innocuous enough. I’m on to you, October and I will not fall prey this year.

2. I will step away from the news at regular intervals so as not to fall into a pit of depression and despair, believing that the destruction of mankind is imminent and all hope has been lost.

3. I will invest in me.

*insert tremendous eyeroll here*

But, lo, I am firmly in my forties now and no longer as physically resilient as I once was. Basically, stuff on my person hurts. So, this year, I’m striving to fix what’s broken. That means, I’m going to wear the stupid brace at night to help alleviate the carpal tunnel syndrome I developed while growing three children with my body. I’m also going to do the stretching I’m supposed to do to help alleviate the plantar fasciitis I developed from excessive hiking to get some alone time away from the three children I grew with my body. I’m going to make the appointments and take the supplements and drink the water and get that weird bump behind my ear looked at so I can be as healthy as I can be for me and for the three children that wrecked everything when I grew them with my body.

4. I will finally figure out how to make the theme song from “Parks and Recreation” be my phone’s ringtone because it is delightful. I should probably ask Henry how to do this, better preparing him for the years and years he’ll spend down the road exasperatingly troubleshooting technology for his parents.

5. I will make a HUGE punch list of the home improvement items around this house that need to get accomplished so we can actually accomplish them. Bob and I talk all the time about our to-do list, casually mentioning over breakfast that the laundry room needs painting or the basement curtains are still waiting to be hung or the crack in the hallway needs patching. Frankly, someone needs to write all of this stuff down because we are easily distracted and inevitably one of us gets busy with something else or decides to take a nap or retreats with a book or goes shopping instead, forgetting all about the laundry room, the basement and the hallway. Then, the next weekend, we LITERALLY have the very same discussion about the things that need to get done around the house. It’s all very counter-productive. Bob asked for some sort of a master list some months ago so we can go room by room as time permits to complete the work and I love a good checklist so I’m going to make this happen. I’ll probably laminate it, to be honest.

6. I will show my kids new places and new things. As much as I love to lament parenthood, I think my kids are pretty much the coolest people on the planet. They’re so interesting and they love to learn and are so curious and they’re getting easier and more fun to take out in public. Bob set a goal of traveling into the city frequently this year to show them a new museum or exhibit and I’ve set a goal of two vacations with them to places that none of us have traveled before. This year, I really want to focus on more experiences and less stuff.

(I’m also in that post-Christmas deep regret stage as I try to organize and find space for the hoard of presents I brought into our home so, we’ll see how this one pans out is all.)

7. I will be generous with my time, resources and talent. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to better the lives of those around me. Not just for my husband and my children, but looking beyond that. I’d like to figure out how to extend generosity – in whatever form that takes – farther out in the circle. I have a certain set of talents and expertise and I have friends that are extremely talented and super smart in other things and sometimes, I feel like if we could just pool our gifts, combine our resources, we could make lives better. Easier. Lovelier. Kinder. For ourselves and for others. I’m going to figure out how to build that community of generosity this year. I feel like the world could use a lot more of it.

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Looks Like This Will Probably Work Out

Today, Bob and I celebrated thirteen years of marriage.

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Recently, Bob told me that the way I brush my teeth is absolutely ridiculous and super duper annoys him. Something about how I use too much toothpaste? So it creates too much toothpaste foam? I’m not really sure. I was too busy brushing my teeth when he was trying to explain to me how the way I brush my teeth is silly.

If the traditional gift for ten years of marriage is stainless steel or paper or something, it would appear the traditional gift for thirteen years of marriage is some sort of Airing of Grievances. Which, I’m not so sure is a road Bob wants to travel down.

So now, of course, I try to purposefully brush my teeth when Bob is in close proximity because spite is ALSO a way to celebrate thirteen years of marriage.

Obviously, the flame of our love still shines bright.

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Bob and I were married at this kind of fancy resort in Pennsylvania picked sight unseen solely for its location halfway between my family in the Midwest and Bob’s family in the Northeast. It was a perfectly lovely place but the resort’s execution of our event was fraught with problems, errors, and omissions.

I remember explaining to the hotel’s coordinator that the one thing – ONE THING – I wished for my wedding was for Bob not to see me in my dress before I walked down the aisle. It’s such a ridiculous tradition but it was my one thing. I cared not about any of the other things. “Not a problem,” she said. I rode the elevator with my father to the rooftop terrace where the ceremony was taking place thinking that Bob was already down the aisle. So, of course, when the elevator doors opened, there was Bob and his best man looking surprised to see me and totally confused about where they were supposed to be at that very moment. I remember uttering an expletive (classy!) loud enough that I was worried the guests had overheard. I’m pretty sure my father has blocked that part out. The part where he walked his dainty, lady-like, cursing-like-a-sailor daughter down the aisle.

There were so many other things that went wrong that day. A problem at each step of the way. From rehearsal to ceremony to reception. Whenever I tell people about how the hotel forgot to bake our wedding cake, how the catering captain pulled me aside after the reception began to tell me that there was (oops!) no cake, they assume that that was the worst part of our wedding day. But, it wasn’t. Nothing that went wrong that day was more egregious than the anticlimactic moment when those elevator doors opened and Bob was standing right there.

It’s funny because I knew, even as I was planning our wedding, that it was not the wedding I wanted. My ideal wedding was always one where we have our family and friends over for dinner and then get married somewhere between the appetizers and the entree. When my cheeks are rosy from the wine. Simple. Not fussy. There doesn’t even have to be cake.

So, at some point in the years since our hilariously hiccup-riddled wedding, Bob and I started talking about having another wedding. A different wedding. Something that was more… “us.” Maybe for our fifteenth anniversary. Or, our twentieth. I’d like to celebrate our union anew.

That is, if this whole teeth brushing thing doesn’t tear us apart.

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Six months into our marriage, I was pregnant with Henry so for most of the past thirteen years, our lives have been all about raising babies and toddlers and kids. Parenthood is all consuming and tiring and makes you forget why you got married in the first place.

But, now that our youngest child is in school full-time, Bob and I have been spending lots of time together. We’ve managed to meet up for lunch on occasion. Or, go swimming or hiking together. Sometimes, we just lounge about the house sshhhing the other person when they start to speak, lest it ruin the sweet silence of a (temporarily) kid-free home.

In a way, it feels like we’ve crested a parenthood peak and found each other on the other side. The kids and the noise and the chaos and the mayhem are still there but no one is in diapers anymore and everyone is sleeping through the night. It feels like there’s space for Bob and I – for us – now, too.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that we actually still have things to talk about. Namely, how I brush my teeth.

A Brief Visual History of Bob’s Trip to the Grocery Store

This one time, in early 2004, as an unusually strong winter storm threatened high snow accumulation throughout the D.C. metro area, I sent Bob to the grocery store. We needed to procure supplies in case we were stranded by weather. Bob was gone for a good bit, stuck in long lines, but eventually returned with frozen turkey meatballs and one (1) container of Gatorade. That was it. Nothing else. Just the turkey meatballs and the Gatorade.

I haven’t sent Bob to the grocery store since.

Now, for a ridiculous number of reasons, the past few weeks around our house have been absolutely frenetic. There have just simply not been enough hours in the day and more than a few times I have bemoaned the lack of even a hot second to sit down. So, when Bob asked me, while I was headed out the door to work – AGAIN – this past weekend, if I wanted him to do the grocery shopping, I immediately thought to myself, “No. No, I do not want him to do the grocery shopping. Ever.” But, I’m really exhausted, see? So, what I actually said was, “That would be great. That would be so great.”

Friends, it was totally not great.IMG_0862Despite decades of successful half and half use, for inexplicable reasons, Bob brought home dairy free coconut milk creamer. To no one’s surprise (but Bob’s – Bob was surprised), this dairy free coconut milk creamer was absolutely awful and Bob had to start completely over with another cup of coffee. When I asked him why in the world he purchased it to begin with he said he had, “read an article that said that cow’s milk will kill ‘ya.”

IMG_0861I’m going to take a wild guess and say that the fact that Bob shopped with the kids played a role in this ill-advised purchase. Also, and as an aside, chocolate does not improve this product in any way, General Mills. Even the kids reluctantly agreed.

IMG_0864Despite being fully aware of my lifetime of hate directed towards food makers that automatically combine cinnamon with raisins (WHY ARE THEY CONSIDERED SO INSEPARABLE), Bob purchased cinnamon raisin bread. What Bob did not buy: regular bread. Of any kind. None bread. But! He bought deli turkey so insert that one “confused face” emoji here.

IMG_0868There are 18 fish sticks in this package. Eighteen tiny fish sticks for a family of five. Go ahead and do the math on that.

IMG_0866I know what you’re thinking! This might make up for the fish sticks only… Bob didn’t buy any hot dog buns. Again, just the hot dogs. No buns.

IMG_0863I would never in a million years buy this mostly because I will just eat the cookie dough right from the package and do not even pretend that you are better than me because you would do the exact same thing. “DO NOT CONSUME RAW COOKIE DOUGH” Don’t tell me how to live my life, Nestle.

IMG_0867I mean, WHAT EVEN. Who buys Neapolitan ice cream? There are three flavors in this package and only one is going to get consumed. The only thing remaining between vanilla and strawberry will be the echo of regret. Incredulous, I picked this up from the freezer, looked at Bob and asked, “What is this, 1972?” He basically agreed that the last time he had had Neapolitan ice cream was when his mom had bought it for him.

IMG_0869An inexplicably large number of fresh lemons. Like, this is only a representative sample of the amount of lemons he purchased. So, sure. Why not.

What Bob did not buy at the grocery store that we actually needed: milk, REAL half and half, aforementioned bread products, cereal fit for consumption by anyone three years of age or older, orange juice, peanut butter, chips or crackers, pasta, fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, cheese, glorious cheese. But, there’s no need to worry. I went grocery shopping at 8:00 last night after doing all of the other things so that was super convenient.

Want to come over for strawberry ice cream? Maybe some lemonade? Can I interest you in a single fish stick?