Category Archives for "Kids"

Maybe SUNY Geneseo will throw a bunch of financial aid her way if she promises NOT to go there

Remember the post I wrote about touring the SUNY Geneseo campus last year because it was on Zoe’s list of potential colleges? The post in which I alluded to drunken sex with architecture and bears allergic to virgins and introduced you to Josh, our tour guide, otherwise known as Zoe’s future fiance?


When Zoe was all Oh my God, Mom! Could you BE anymore embarrassing?

And I was all PUH-LEASE. Like he’s ever going to find this blog. Unclench, would you?

And Josh wound up leaving a comment and was all Ummmm, hello? Cool blog. I have a girlfriend.

And I was all Hey there, Josh! Thanks for making a liar out of me!


Zoe wound up applying to Geneseo. And Geneseo wound up requesting a parent essay.


And Zoe wound up hollering something like SOMEBODY GET ME A PASSPORT while petitioning the court for emancipation.

Here’s my essay.

I’d ask Zoe to tell you want she thought of it, but she can’t hear me from down under.



(submitted SUNY Geneseo, January 2012)


AMBITIOUS. Especially when it comes to school, work, career goals and, most recently, affording an iPhone 4S on her own and then deciding to work extra hours to afford insurance for it. But only because it’s the sensible thing to do and not because she dropped it the first day she had it and then spent the remainder of the day ignoring me as I duct-taped my mouth shut to keep the ginormous I TOLD YOU SO from flying out of it.

BOSSY. I tell Zoe’s little sister that this is a good trait to have, that it’s a sign of a natural born leader. Judging by the screams of YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME coming from downstairs as I type this, I don’t think she’s buying it.

COMPASSIONATE. She dropped everything and immediately drove to her girlfriend’s house to lend her an ear and shoulder because that’s what you do when your girlfriend gets dumped by her boyfriend. She took her little sister to the store so that they could buy me flowers and cards together because she knew I had had a terrifically bad day. When she sleeps over at a friend’s house or at her dad’s, she always texts me at night to make sure that I’m OK and to tell me she loves me. She reminds us all that good things are going to happen because we deserve them. And she’s given me more hugs during the last few months because of the nightmare we are living than she gave me her entire childhood. She’s good people, as my mother would say.

DATING. She’s a fan. I’m on the fence. It’s a big, long, fat fence.

EMPLOYMENT. She likes it and arrives on time, stays late and generally goes above and beyond to ensure she keeps it. Even if it means pretending not to know the crazy lady who runs in and snaps her picture behind the counter. Twice. Possibly three times. In my defense, why do they put the camera button so close to the power button on the iPhone?

FISHING. The only thing that can get Zoe up at 5:00 a.m., to sit in small boat, be silent and breathe in the stench of live bait for four hours, is the love she has for her dad. And her dad has no clue that she detests fishing. THAT is classic Zoe.

GAS. For her car, that is. Apparently, it’s outrageously expensive now that she has to pay for it.

HOME. We’re currently looking for new one and she’s excited about it. But all I can think about is that whatever home we wind up in, I’m going to miss the hell out of her when she leaves it.

I DON’T KNOW. The name of Zoe’s friend who moved in last year and repeatedly leaves wet towels on the bathroom floor. As far as I can tell, this friend is deaf, invisible and a slob.

JOGGING. Zoe went with me a couple of times. She hates jogging with the heat of a thousand suns. But, she loves me and apparently, that trumps boob sweat and shin splints.

KITCHEN. She loves cooking in it and makes THE best chicken cutlets I have ever eaten.

LASHES. As in, eye. Hers are so long that they touch her sun glasses which, to hear her tell it, is irritating. I wouldn’t know. My lashes are like my legs. Short. But not as hairy.

MASS-OF-TWO-SHITS. The way Zoe used to pronounce Massachusetts when she was little.

NERVES. She gets on mine occasionally. I’d hazard a guess that I get on hers a little more often than that. But that’s my job.

OLIVER. Our dog. Zoe adores him but gives him way too much credit. For instance, she thinks he’s got bowels of steel and can hold off going potty until she’s done watching eleventy-three episodes of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Oliver has proven her wrong on more occasions that I can count. And I can count pretty damn high.

PHYSICS. A subject in which Zoe excels. This is what Zoe texted me the other day: Take a rubber band. Measure the length of it at equilibrium.  Stretch the rubber band, measure the length. Find the difference, and that is X. Put various weights on the rubber band, measuring the differences in lengths. Then use Fs=kx to find the spring constant. Fs is the mass on the rubber band. Do multiple times, find an average for K. After you find K you can solve for the PEs using PEs=1/2kx2. Launch the rubber band vertically to a certain height, holding meter sticks up in the air. Use PE=mgh to find potential energy. The height is the height the thing goes to, G is gravity, 9.81m/s2, and m is the mass of the rubber band. Time the rubber band from the time it reaches its maximum height to the time it reaches the floor. Use vf=vi+at  to find the velocity. Use the equation KE=1/2mv2. Substitute in all the values, and you can find BLAH BLAH, OH MY GOD MAKE IT STOP, BLAH. She asked me what I thought about it. I told her to hang on, I was still looking for a rubber band.

QUADRATIC EQUATIONS. Zoe thinks they’re fun. Honestly, I have no idea where this girl came from.

RESTAURANTS. Specifically, those that offer take-out. She was the child of divorced, full-time working parents and she was probably about seven before she realized that not all plates were square and made out of white Styrofoam.

SCIENCE. Another subject in which Zoe excels. She dissected a cat once and texted me a photo of its brain. By the way, unlimited texting? Totally overrated.

TEXTING. Zoe had over 6,000 of them last month. Her thumbs have developed six-packs.

UNFLUSTERED. Zoe just doesn’t wig out. When her sister’s ear was nearly amputated and we had to rush her to the hospital, Zoe simply held a towel to Helena’s head to stem the bleeding while periodically reminding me to breathe. When we discovered one night last June that her stepfather wasn’t the person we all believed him to be, she kept herself together, mopped up the puddle of mess I had become and concentrated on moving us all forward. She’s the one you want around when anything hits the fan. But throw a spider into the mix and all bets are off.

VEINS. Zoe uses hers to donate blood. And even though she almost fainted last time and I had to pick her up from school early, she was the first to line up for the next drive and not just because there were free cookies. In my defense, they were good cookies.

WINTER. She loves it. The snow, the ice, the frigid temperatures, the snowmobiling. If she hadn’t left a mile long butt trail down a ski slope one year, I’d be hard pressed to say that she’s mine.

XANAX. The diet of choice when your seventeen year old daughter walks in the door after a date at 11:59:59 p.m., so as not to be late for curfew.

YELLING. We do a lot of it around here. We’re Greek – it’s like a law. That, and owning a restaurant. Yelling is easier and far less sweaty, to be honest.

ZOE. Any college would be lucky to get her.

Coming soon to a road near you

Every so often I allow myself one feeding frenzy at the all-you-can-eat lunacy trough, just so I can get in touch with my own inner batshit crazy and make sure it’s still up to challenge. The last thing I want is my batshit crazy to languish and atrophy because I won’t be able to distinguish it from my metabolism and then where will I be?

The last time I stuffed my psyche’s face at this trough was back in February 2010 while driving our Durango home from the IKEA in Pittsburgh and we all know how that ended.

This time around, I’ve been standing at the damn trough for so long, my feet have grown roots and I have a permanent hunchback. Not to mention my emotional stability is so distended from gorging itself on the never-ending buffet of whackadoodle, it’s got stretch marks and on more than one occasion, I’ve mistaken it for my stomach.

For my own sanity, I decided to no longer stand at this damn trough but rather, sit down on the couch, make myself comfy and hold out for a full-blown midlife crisis instead because I hear they’re a lot more fun. To prepare for it, I bought myself my very first thong. Look for a post coming your way soon entitled WHY AM I WEARING A COLONOSCOPY ON MY ASS?

But just as I was settling down to await my crisis by eating my weight in Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies while watching a marathon of Real Housewives of New York City…

… Zoe decided to shoot my life to hell by signing up for her driver’s license test.

This was Zoe, filled with nervous excitement, right before her test was to start.

If I had known how to shoot video with my phone, you would have heard her saying something like “Ten more minutes until the world as you know it changes forever, Mom!” and then you would have seen a panning shot of the clouds and the sky and then more clouds and then more sky and then a bunch of shaky trees and then some grass and dirt and then someone probably would have zoomed in an emotionally fragile, bespectacled, perimenopausal woman lying flat on her back from the OH MY GODness of it all.

But only if that someone didn’t care about being grounded until she turned thirty.

This was Zoe’s instructor.

My first thought was that he might keel over and die of old age before Zoe completed her test, thus making it null and void and forcing her to reschedule it for sometime in 2021, which was the only time I could find in my busy schedule to drive her back here.

But he was all perky and said stuff like Howdy, there! Ready to rock and roll? Let’s get moving, then! and he showed absolutely no signs of kicking the bucket anytime soon, let alone in the next ten minutes.

My second thought was DAMN IT ALL TO HELL.


This is Zoe, pulling away from the curb.

Again, if I had known how to shoot video with my phone, you would have seen a shot of the car driving away with the camera running after it and you’d probably hear some delusional maniac frantically shouting HEY! SHE FORGOT TO USE HER TURNING SIGNAL! THAT’S LIKE, A TWENTY POINT PENALTY, RIGHT?

And then you’d have probably seen some footage of stubble on a pale, white leg walking slowly to the sidewalk with a voice over of HEY! WHOSE JOB WAS IT TO REMIND ME TO SHAVE TODAY?

You know, it’s probably a good thing no one knows how to shoot video on my phone.

While waiting for life to end as I know it, Helena and I had ourselves a nice conversation in which I commented on what a gorgeous day it was and how upset I was that her big sister had to go and muck it all to hell by growing up and how Helena was my baby and would always be my baby and how I was so happy that she wouldn’t do horribly stupid things to her mama like dating and applying to college and then she said something about there being a little over 2,000 days until Zoe and I would be sitting in these same chairs in this same spot as she took her own driver’s license test and OH MY GOSH, MOM, HOW COOL IS THAT?

And then I said something about Santa going out on permanent disability with a hernia and how I no longer loved her best.

And then we stopped talking.

When Zoe returned from her test, she and the instructor spent a full five minutes in the car, discussing the results of her test.

Coincidentally, I spent that same five minutes yelling WELL? WELL? WELL? WELL? and having a myocardial infarction.

Or twenty.

And then the verdict came in and as I did with the OJ Simpson and Casey Anthony trials and the 2000 presidential election and the rumors about Anderson Cooper, I went into immediate denial and demanded a recount and threatened to become a lesbian and move to Canada.




By the time you finish reading this, you’ll be scratching your head and not just because I sound a little insane

Softball season is upon us once again and you know what that means!

Time to get my panties all tightly wadded up into a bunch over helmets!


Anytime I can wad my panties into a bunch without having to actually remove them to pee or have sex or get a pap smear, I get all excited.

I have this thing about helmets.

Fine. I have a thing about most everything, like never walking barefoot on hotel carpets and never soaking in my own filth in a bathtub and always saying “God forbid” before mentioning anything unfortunate and always using my elbows to open the doors of public restrooms and …

How much time do you have?

But I especially have a thing about helmets.

I don’t allow Helena to use any helmet but her own. EVER.

I don’t allow anyone else to use Helena’s helmet. EVER.

And ever and ever and ever.

And so forth and so on.

Until the end of time.

The end.

It’s a residual effect from the PTSD I suffered almost eleven years ago, back when I was multi-tasking by lying to the nurses about passing gas (I just let one rip not ten seconds ago! I did! I swear! Ask the patients on the floor above us!), going over discharge papers, bundling up our newborn Helena and her diaper bag, and pressing a pillow to my abdomen in case my staples sprung a leak and my reproductive system exploded out of my stomach and splashed onto the floor. Nate was multi-tasking as well, having crammed himself into the corner of the hospital room with his back to me and frantically whispering to my mother on the phone and periodically stealing sideways glances at me.

I knew something was up. It’s female intuition. That, and the fact that Nate declared Something’s up as we were leaving. However, he refused to elaborate until we got home because I was already somewhat weepy and hormonal and he was afraid I’d change my mind about the whole second child thing, stuff the baby back up my bahoodle doodle and pretend the last nine months hadn’t happened.

We pulled into the driveway and the big secret became crystal clear when six year old Zoe ran up to the car, whipped my door open and excitedly shouted I HAVE LICE! WELCOME HOME, HELENA! CAN I HOLD HER?

I really don’t remember too much about those first few days after we brought Helena home. It’s pretty much a foggy haze of picking nits and live bugs out of Zoe’s hair one minute and then turning around the next to clean up bodily fluids which oozed out of both Helena and me, thanks to my leaky boobs. And vagina. And incision. It was just an endless stream of nits, bugs, poop, pee, milk, blood and pus. Then more nits, more bugs, more poop, pee, milk, blood, pus, OH MY GOD, HOW MUCH LIQUID CAN ONE HUMAN OWN?

All the while there was crying and blubbering and wailing and collapsing to the floor in big puddles of mess going on all around me. Not to mention Nate, Zoe and the baby were pretty emotional too.

It took back-breaking hours and hours of tedious patience and persistence and ultimately a doctor’s prescription but the lice were finally eradicated. As was my will to live. Which was no biggie, seeing as how the lice had taken twenty years off my life anyway.

For years afterward, I was hypersensitive to possible re-infestations and everyone knew that by simply walking anywhere near me, they ran the risk of having me yank them down onto my lap so I could go all Gorillas in the Mist on their heads with a magnifying glass and a pair of tweezers.

When Helena first started softball about five years ago, I slapped bright, fluorescent orange labels on her helmet emblazoned with the words “HELENA’S HELMET” and “I’M HELENA’S, NOT YOURS” and “DANGER: POISON” in big, capital letters. Helena soon asked if it was possible not to try so hard to humiliate her so I toned it back a bit and kept one big sticker reading “THIS HELMET WILL MAKE YOU LIKE BOYS” on the back with an admonition that she had better not share her helmet with anyone because I had spoken with Santa and he was totally on board and slept with one eye open in the summer.

Oh, yes I did.

I’m willing to bet that if Mrs. Claus had to stand for hours on end, pulling disgusting creepy crawlies and larvae out of one of her elves’ hair only four days after having a squalling, mythical creature ripped from her guts, she wouldn’t waste a second before demanding that Santa paint a big ol’ skull and crossbones on all 6,932 of their Little League helmets. Right after he slathered everyone’s heads with olive oil while yelling STOP COMPLAINING, AT LEAST IT’S EXTRA VIRGIN. WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU’RE GOING, BLITZEN?

So don’t judge me.

Or Santa either.

Nowadays, Helena is older and wiser and by wiser, I mean she’s smart enough to know that if Santa stuffed coal in her stocking and smeared or otherwise ruined that stocking? The one that Yia Yia, her grandmother, her mother’s mother, slaved for days to make her after she was born? Santa would find an extra large can of Whoop Ass under the tree for himself, together with an industrial strength can opener. Wrapped with a big, red bow and tag that said Go Ho Ho Ho Yourself. Love, Yia Yia.

Today, Helena has a simple, small “Helena” placed discreetly on the lower back of her helmet and when that helmet is not on her head, it’s securely zipped in her equipment bag. And if anyone asks her to borrow it, she simply smacks them in the shins with the bat and hollers I JUST SAVED YOUR LIFE. MY MOM WOULD HAVE AIMED HIGHER.

So, the whole potential lice scenario is pretty much under control where softball is concerned.

Except for one thing.

One small, ever so tiny, little detail.

This is Helena’s helmet.

The one that has her name discreetly written in the back.

The one that sits upon her head and no one else’s.

The only one she wears during a game.

Except when she is the catcher.

Because then, she wears this helmet on her head.

The team helmet.

Which has no one’s name on it and, at some point, sits upon everyone’s head when they play catcher too.

If Helena starts going to school smelling like tossed salad, you’ll know why.



Bridesmaids: Rated R as some material may be inappropriate for those 40 and above if they’re sitting next to their teenage daughters

I took Zoe to see an R-rated movie for the first time last Friday night because (1) she was the legal age, having turned seventeen over a month ago; and (2) she actually asked to see it with me instead of with her friends and it was either take her to see the movie or just die happy right then and there. I had plans on Saturday that couldn’t be canceled so dying on the spot would have been inconvenient.

I know for most parents, taking their seventeen year old to an R-rated movie is no big deal and some of you are probably sitting there complaining, Oh my God, next thing you know she’ll be telling us she let Zoe shave her armpits by herself.


There! Didn’t want you to be disappointed.

The movie was sort of a big thing for me because I have always been *that* mom, the one who stuck like gorilla glue to rules such as not letting her sit in the front seat until she was twelve, not letting her get a Facebook account until she was fifteen, not letting her date or get a “real” cell phone with unlimited texting until she was sixteen and not letting her see an R-rated movie until she was seventeen. I’m sure there were a few million other things I didn’t let her do that I can’t remember off the top of my head but if you need to know, just ask Zoe and I’m sure she’ll be more than happy to whip out her handy dandy WHY MY LIFE SUCKED spreadsheet and rattle them off for you.

Zoe had already seen a couple of R-rated movies with her dad, even before she turned seventeen. Why? Because, her dad is *that* dad, the one who doesn’t have any hard and fast rules. He also doesn’t make her do laundry or dishes or clean the bathroom. He’s the fun parent, a slightly balding Disney World in Fruit of the Looms, if you will.

He assured me beforehand that the movies were rated R based on violence only, as opposed to sexual content and all I could say was WHEW. Everybody knows it’s totally OK to let kids witness the depravity of people getting their heads blown off but it’s totally *not* OK to let them witness the depravity of people getting their rocks off. Because watching the former might only sway kids into becoming sociopathic, mass murderers. Big whoop. But watching the latter? That might make them want to have sex WHICH IS SO MUCH WORSE, I CAN’T EVEN BEGIN TO FATHOM IT.

That crooked line you see there? Those are my priorities, zigzagging their way straight to Hell.

Anyway, I took Zoe to see Bridesmaids last Friday.

About 2.7 seconds into the opening scene, I found myself wishing I had started with an easier R-rated movie, like Boogie Nights.

Had I been with my girlfriends, the opening scene would have lasted a minute, two tops. With Zoe, it lasted about three years. Because watching a scene in which “friends with benefits” literally pump their way through a montage of missionary to doggy to WAIT, WHAT? IS THAT …? WHERE’S HER LEG? I’M SORRY, BUT THAT CANNOT POSSIBLY BE COMFORTABLE sex positions at bionic speed is one thing with your girlfriends but with your teenage daughter? It’s quite another and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t at least entertain the thought of yanking Zoe out of there on the spot, flinging her into the theater next door and forcing her to watch Kung Fu Panda 2 instead. But I had promised Zoe before even sitting down that there would be no heavy sighs from me, no sideways glances of disapproval, no loud pleas for the floor to open up and swallow us whole and most of all, no yelling of ALL YOU PEOPLE REALIZE THAT THIS IS NOTHING AT ALL LIKE REAL LIFE, RIGHT? SEX IS ABSOLUTELY NO FUN AT ALL. AND IT GIVES YOU ZITS to the theater at large.

So I just cringed and whimpered and secretly pondered the benefits of lubricant through that whole scene, and then I tried to pretend that the whole conversation that occurred in the next scene between Annie and Lillian just didn’t, and then I pretty much spent the next ninety minutes alternating between laughing, gouging my eyes out, giggling hysterically, and puncturing my ear drums with a Twizzler and then it was over.

When the night was over, despite my worries that she saw more sex in an hour and half than I’ve seen this whole year, Zoe was still Zoe. And I was still me! Not sure if that’s a good thing but it is what it is.

Next week I think I might take Helena to see Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer. It’s rated PG and I’m fairly certain it will not contain any scenes in which characters discuss the best way to discreetly slap a guy’s junk away from your face.

Which means I can leave the eye and ear bleach at home and that definitely is a good thing because my purse is only big enough to smuggle in M&Ms.



It’s prom! Which is kind of like a wedding but without the bride, groom and church. And vows. Well, except for the one about celibacy, of course.

Up until recently, Zoe was wearing a onsie, crawling around my Tupperware cupboard, drooling over my spatulas and strategically planning her next diaper blowout to coincide with the exact moment I discover I’m out of Huggies and patience.

And next thing I know … *POOF* … she’s off to prom.

And I’m off the deep end.

But only in my head!

Where, truth be told, there is no shallow end to begin with.

She looked so beautiful and grown up and sophisticated. Very va-va-voomy, as one person put it on Facebook.

I cannot believe I made her with my own two hands! And a few other spare parts.

Plus a little help from her dad, of course. I’m willing to share the credit!

Even though I did most of the hard work.

Unless he’s got stretch marks, a withered uterus and a pubic scar I don’t know about?

When you marry a man who is 6’2″ and have a daughter who is taller than you and then wears five inch heels, you are destined to be chopped off at the boobs in group photos.

It’s a miserable fact of life.

But looking as if an anxiety-ridden, baby gorilla is jumping on your head? That’s totally on you.

Zoe went to prom with her good friend Alex, who looked both adorable and handsome and not at all like the chew toy Oliver assumes him to be when he comes over to go swimming.

We locked Oliver in the laundry room because I didn’t think Alex felt like explaining to the tuxedo shop manager why he was returning a pair of dress pants that had a seven pound furry piranha nicknamed Fang dangling off them.


Alex did a great job with the flowers, didn’t he?

It’s customary for the boy to get the girl a corsage and the girl to get the boy a boutonniere.

And for the girls to wear long dresses.

And for all the kids to have co-ed sleepovers at someone’s house where that set of parents serve as chaperones, thus ensuring that there are tents outside for the boys to sleep in and bedrooms inside for the girls to sleep in and a gasoline-infused inferno separating the two sexes so that NEVER NEVER EVER EVER EVER the twain shall meet.

There’s also a rumor going around that it’s customary for moms to lie awake at night, hoping that their daughters remember at least one of the many discussions they had about sex and consequences and wishing that their daughters were still wearing onsies and crawling through Tupperware cupboards and drooling on spatulas and planning inconvenient diaper blowouts.

But you didn’t hear that from me as I am not a gossip monger.

One of my favorite shots of the day!

I can’t believe this is the same girl who, when younger, had to be begged, bribed and cajoled into showing any emotion whatsoever so we could determine what she was feeling at any given moment. Was she miserable? Ecstatic? Conscious?

After the photo shoot at our house, we drove over to Zoe’s friend’s house where we took pictures of the girls …

And the guys …

And the couples …

And the hair that we would sell our left ovary for …

And the fun, sensible and quirky choice of footwear.

You know, as opposed to the five inch high lunacy worn by someone who has no business being anywhere around stilettos because her uncoordinated DNA has already caused her to suffer so many broken legs, arms, wrists, fingers, tailbones and ankles over the years that her mother suggested one Halloween that she hot glue all her old casts to her body and go trick-or-treating as an accident waiting to happen.

Which is all good and fine except … and how do I say this delicately … who gives a flying shit? Because, hello?


Lunatic fringe or not, I covet these shoes. I covet them more than I covet gorilla-less hair or pictorial essays of myself with a complete set of boobs or even my 24 inch waist that went AWOL over twenty years ago.

Who needs a stupid tiny waist when your feet are busy having orgasms?

After Zoe’s friend’s house, the kids decided to go to the lake for some more pictures, something I was all over since I had only taken 200 pictures by that point, falling far short of my typical eleventy billion and thirteen that I usually take for any given occasion.

The limo wasn’t due for awhile so we had a caravan of cars driving to the lake. The fog was rolling in, visibility was poor and the road was twisty and turny and riddled with confused, suicidal turtles. The situation was quickly turning grim and everyone was tense and worried and the texts soon started flying back and forth between all the cars, with all the girls asking the one question they dared not speak out loud lest they tempt fate: OMG, DO YOU THINK THE HUMIDITY WILL KILL MY HAIR?

The hair survived just fine. And despite all appearances to the contrary, Zoe is not flipping anyone the bird here. That’s her pointer finger.

Like mother, like daughter!

Except not really. Because I tend to point with my middle finger.

But only in the general direction of morons in parking lots.

I’m so glad Zoe has such a great group of friends.

And that she chose a dress and a date that perfectly suited her.

Like mother, like daughter!

Except not really.

Because I was completely without voom, having chosen a dress that I hated which required a strapless bra that I hated even more because it came with a built-in identity crisis that made it think it was a girdle. And I also chose a date who came with an identity crisis of his own in that he thought he was all that and a bag of chips who was going to get lucky that night.

So … unlike mother, unlike daughter.

Which is sometimes a very good thing.



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