Expectations are a funny thing.

When I had a tiny baby and very little sleep I fantasized (hallucinated?) that someday we would sit together and create and inspire each other. For a long time after that it was clear that was a delusion. There was no fluffy way these kids were going to let me “parallel work” with them.


With toddlers every time I pulled out a laptop or cell phone they were like cats seeking nip or moms who got a whiff of a pitcher full of frozen margaritas. It was all I could do to keep them from changing my status update to “hvbsbaegabfabfklh”. They want what I have and they want it NOW! My god, why are they so strong?! Now I’m giving them my car keys just so I can have my iPhone back. No harm if the car alarm goes off while in the garage, at least I don’t have OnStar.


Preschoolers aren’t really any better. They aren’t nearly as interested in what you’re doing, but they’re very interested in you being pleasantly distracted so they can diabolically ruin your whole day (life?). They take such a perverse pleasure in dumping out all those carefully sorted Ikea bins filled with toys all over the floor. If you come in to try to redirect (yell at?) the miscreants and happen to step on some tiny fossil fuel derived torture device, well, you’re just playing right into their evil little hand. When they’re not playing Wall.E with everything they own they’re probably fighting with each other over what I call ‘communal property.’ In a house with three kids just four years apart there is no such thing as private property. Unless its mine, and then believe that I will raise hell, because its not like they took my bouncy ball or my vtech gaming cartridge. Childs play. They want to take my dark purple nail polish to draw a road on the carpet in their room. Jerks.


But now, now, its the sweet spot. I haven’t become lame-embarrass-them-mom (yet). My jokes are funny. Brains exploding from frustration, eyeballs that water because of stinky farts, fort building, tickle fights, learning to write and play sports and make things explode in the name of science…. Shit! This is the parenting I signed up for!!

With Sarah Paulson in Down With Love.

I have arrived.

Yes, you can take my coat.


Have you ever heard a song from 1995 and been immediately taken back in time? Or have you been able to access a memory so vividly that you remember the smell in the air? Anything from No Doubt’s debut album or the smell of sage can do that for me. 

I’ve stopped being surprised how vivid my memories can be. But they (more often than not) come with happiness and joy. I’ve had some really shitty days, but the good have always far outweighed the bad.

Lately, even the good days, are littered with stomach lurching or a sudden overflow of sadness.
So I’m going to talk about two specific memories from my childhood and how they, unfortunately, all relate back to the current state of things. 
I grew up in the 80s and 90s. Which makes me a part of that very special, always knew that, micro-generation. I didn’t have cable TV as a kid. The struggle was real. So when I woke up at 6am on Saturday mornings I watched Feed The Children charity infomercials until cartoons started at 7.  I remember watching children sitting on dirt floors with bugs flying all around them and dark circles under their eyes. They would stare at me as I sat in my Lazyboy with my clean pajamas, and my bowl of Total cereal in the comfort of my central air conditioning.  I wasn’t even 10 years old and I already understood I was lucky and the world wasn’t fair. 

That was one. Here is two. (It’s more complicated.)

I was an entrepreneur. Sometime in the 90’s we got a laser printer (it weighed 500lbs and shook the table when it was printing- but I could put things on a computer screen and they would magically appear over there on a piece of paper.) It was awesome!  So I printed about 50 pieces of paper that all said the same thing “My name is Emily, I live in the neighborhood, I’m a certified babysitter and I’m also a pet and house sitter. Call me!”

Well, let me tell you, pet-sitting is easy and WAY lucrative! I sometimes watched several homes at once! I was a high roller!

We had these neighbors who were weird. And their kids waited at the same bus stop as me, but I often stayed inside the comfort of my Dad’s Jetta until the other normal neighbors arrived to wait. Because I didn’t want to stand with the creepy ones alone. These kids were dirtier than the rest of us. And they were always looking at me in a way that made me feel uncomfortable, even though I still can’t articulate why. The feeling kind of reminded me of my time on those early Saturday’s with the Feed The Children kids. These kids in my cushy suburban neighborhood always looked a little hollow? hopeless? I’m not even sure that’s it…

Well, anyway, I was an entrepreneur. And one time this creepy family called and asked me to watch their pets while they were away. I was thrilled with a chance to peer behind their closed doors. To see what made them tick… 

The first day I went to take care of the cats and rats and turtles and lizards (there may have also been ferrets) and on that hot summer day while standing in their home my legs started stinging and burning and itching. I looked down. The carpet, the wood, the tile was alive. I could see fleas jumping onto my legs, biting my flesh.  They were in every room. The bugs were inescapable. Every day after that (at my moms advice) I wore long sleeves and long pants and knee-high soccer socks. Every day when I came out of the house my mom helped me quickly bag up the clothes. Knowing how clean and well-kept our house was I’m surprised my mom didn’t immediately set the clothes on fire…  Every day I went home and took Benadryl and put baking soda and oatmeal on my legs.

It was awful.

Only recently did I really realize, people lived there. Parents forced their children to live that way. The oily hair, and the dirty faces and the sad eyes that I avoided at the bus stop for years lived like that unable to escape to a mom like mine who was (justifiably) aghast.  

That family has a criminal record and a relationship with a criminal defense attorney born back in the 90s. There were a few horrible things that happened in high school and many of us assumed this creepy family and their criminal children had a hand in it. On some level, I intellectually understand that being raised in squalor, by negligent abusers masquerading as parents, would explain how three dirty downtrodden children would end up adults with criminal records, social and emotional problems… But I just don’t give a fuck.  Sometimes understanding that the kids down the street had more in common with the children on my television early in the morning isn’t enough. I don’t exactly know where the line is when you cross from being worthy of pity to becoming the gum on the bottom of my shoe. They crossed it long ago. And there’s not a chance in hell of coming back…
I’m sorry my blog is turning into this, but I need to get these thoughts and memories out before they start to poison me. If there is one thing I know I can trust about the creative process, it’s once I put something in writing I can let it go and it won’t have any power over me anymore. 

This Mother’s Day

I haven’t turned to this blog in a long time. I haven’t felt that I needed to write out my thoughts and feelings to sort things out or find meaning. For a while now it’s lay dormant. It’s my blankey from my childhood, it’s still here incase I need it, but I’ve been doing pretty well on my own. Until Mother’s Day.

In the afternoon my mom called me; her voice was shaking. She told me that our friends had been murdered in their home. I suppose, technically, they are her friends- but I don’t see it that way. I call to chat with them; we email back and forth. And I looked forward to our time spent together. 

As a kid, I was a whole-lot-of-kid.  I’m not going to say I was a handful… but ask anyone else-they’d probably say it for me.  Besides my actual parents- the ones who raised me day in and day out- I had 3 sets of parents who also tried to keep me out of trouble and who I, in turn, adopted into my heart as another ‘Mom and Dad’.  

My heart feels like I lost a mom and dad this week. 

Dad was like your favorite funny uncle. He would crack jokes and tease you in such a way that you didn’t realize he has just slipped in a life lesson. He was tricky like that. And if my college graduation party memory serves me correctly- his beer pong game is on lock.  So watch out.  His hugs are just as powerful as his sneaky advice-giving.  Huge vice-like hugs that could wring out the bad and leave only the best stuff behind.

Mom. Momma. She told it like it was. “Enough with all the drama.” With this tone that so clearly said- ‘you and I both know you’ve gone to far, so instead of make things bigger- let’s come on back down to Earth.’ No judgment. Just a reminder. I have the home phone number memorized. After all my own number was just two digits off. Every 3 or 6 months I would cook up an excuse to call- gardening advice, decorating ranchers, planning a family get-together.  If I’m being honest I just needed some momma-time. I emailed Friday, trying to make plans for a big cookout, maybe in May or June… I’m somehow still hoping I’ll hear back. Denial.

Yesterday I put my hand on her coffin and whispered goodbye. 

This cannot possibly be happening. 

They were warm, giving, easy to know people. Their children are grown, like me. They don’t need to be parented. They don’t need to be raised. They’ve both become wonderful and successful people. But all the best parents get promoted to friend in the eyes of their children. And their kids deserved another 40 years of friendship, at least. Their grandkids deserved years and years of their love and wisdom. 

I’m not alone in feeling this way; all of us who are grieving feel the same. We were all robbed. We all deserved more time.

More that all of this, all the loss, all the feelings. They didn’t deserve to die like this. Fighting, afraid, in pain, slowly. The world doesn’t make sense to me. How could this ever happen to anyone? The malice and violence are beyond my comprehension. Nevermind the fact that my pseudo-parents long-time-friends were kind, gentle and giving. Not this. Not them. Not their kids. Not their grandbabies. Not fair. 

I would like a do-over of Mother’s Day this year. I do not accept this Mother’s Day. Universe, you’re going to have to go back to the drawing board and start again. This day wasn’t right. 

The architect

We have been lead inexorably here.

Today I meet with an architect. Today we begin discussing plans to renovate our house. This isn’t some small-scale remodel where we change the floors and update the cabinets. (We’ve done that already.)

We’re going to need a dumpster, several flat-bed deliveries, a crane, and an architect.

Don’t get too excited though, we’re not breaking ground (or walls) till 2016. Is it early to meet with an architect? Yes and no. We don’t need plans or permits for quite a while, but we have reached a point in our discussion of the project where we need more educated guesses about costs and timeline as well as a need for a fresh set of eyes to solve some of the architectural problems we are running into like “Where should we put the stairs?”

This is what I have so far: but I’m hoping things evolve and change quite a bit from here.


What are you cool cats doing this lovely Wednesday? Something fun? Festive?


It’s the explanation that often doesn’t need explaining.
I was late today because… parenting.
I forgot deodorant… parenting
The house is a mess…
Our sex life isn’t what it used to be…
The appleTV remote is lost again…
We’re out of wine…
My socks don’t match…
I have to cancel our plans, reschedule, I’m hard to get a hold of, I forget to call people back… because parenting. The struggle is real.

Most people get it, and I’m always super impressed by the non-parents who are on the level, but every once in a while you run across someone who can’t seem to grasp the complex nature of parenting.

Bathroom trips alone, cooking without someone trying to climb up your pants, a full night’s sleep, five minutes of actual calm… These are the things we live for.

Our whole paradigm has shifted.

Sometimes we bail on plans. We have to work you into a schedule of Gymboree and Spanish emersion classes. We have to decide between a nap and talking in the phone, because there is never time for both.

Parenthood. The struggle is real. Be kind.

Kids change everything.

One of the biggest differences post parenthood is kids change how we define things and what things mean. Pre-kids at two hour delay at work meant something different. Snow days, Daylight Savings, hangovers, election day, sick day, my birthday; no matter how much I try to let these days be relaxing or be about me they aren’t.

But that’s okay, because in exchange for the forced freedom from selfishness, comes Halloween and the first day of school and reading The Night Before Christmas in front of the fire.

I’ve never understood people who’ve either only complained about parenthood or only touted the blessings of it. Children change everything. They change the way in which we are able to see a holiday or a family tradition. They also change how often we get exposed to the common cold and how long it takes to recover from it. Having children will always be the most complicated of my human experiences. It will always be both awful and awesome at the very same time.

I hope to never be the type of person who could only see the bad or only see the good in this experience. The richness of parenthood is not a virtue of how Martha Stewarty it all is. It’s also not a result of that sense that we are all fighting an uphill battle. It’s because, unlike Sisyphus, as we roll that boulder up the hill again and again we get to admire the view and celebrate the glory of our achievements -even if that does mean that when we raise our arms above our head in victory we have to let that boulder roll away from us again.

In my opinion that is the epitome of parenthood -just when we think we have it figured out, just when we think we can kick back and relish in our achievement that’s when everything changes and we have to start all over again.

The day I learned about “Organic”

I realize the title of this blog reads like “hippie hippie bla bla bla” but bear with me, I promise a giggle. (If you’re me you might even giggle, snort, and then pee yourself just a little.)

It was during the blizzards of 2003, I was a senior at Towson University earning my creative writing degree- ::I wave my arm gracefully a-la Vanna White across the wonder that is my blog:: One morning we woke up between snowstorms and our on-campus apartment was out of some essentials- milk, Nacho cheese, Natty Boh…. so I volunteered to go to the store. As I drove across the parking lots I started to pass this woman in her early 20s wearing a long sleeve shirt, knit hat and flip-flops. I pulled over and offered her a ride. Frostbite is no one’s friend. She was from Alaska.


As we drove to the grocery store (where we were both headed) we talked about how different Maryland is and her name (don’t remember) her major (don’t remember). When we walked into the store we started in the dairy isle. She reached for something I hadn’t really noticed before: organic milk in a bright red box.

“Whats that?”

“Organic milk?”

“Yeah, I mean, what’s the difference.”

::insert long complicated description of hormones in dairy cows, pesticides on produce, and weed killer- everywhere::

Healthy eating is one thing, but this is some next level shit right here.

So many details about that day are lost in my memory. But the flip flops, the rainbow colored hand-knit snow hat, and the conversation that was the beginning of something- that’s what remains.

I never saw that girl again, (even though we lived in the same building) but if I did, I’d tell her how she was an integral domino in a beautiful cascade.

“Free time” -I was so naive!

I was under the distinct impression that I would have an overabundance of free time once the school year started. One child in first grade, one child in pre-K five mornings a week, and one in two-year-old preschool three mornings a week. That’s three mornings a week that I will have 3 1/2 hours to myself!

I figured I would be bored out of my mind. I would have to pick up new hobbies. I would need to binge-watch another TV series on Netflix. I would be blogging All. The. Damn. Time. I was going to renovate the bathroom build a new patio and paint the bedroom all in the first week.

I seriously considered getting a job and a dog and maybe adopting some more kids.

I was very very stupid.

My house is -on its best day- 5% cleaner. My laundry is perhaps less far behind. I am not, in fact, working out any more often than I was before.

The few positive differences I am noticing are, however, quite significant:
I cook more often and from scratch than I ever have before.
When I shop I am better at finding the best price and only getting what I need because I can work without distraction.
The playroom is legitimately organized, and I’m successfully limiting screen time and encouraging creative play!
The bathroom (you know, that one all five of us share?) is finally looking organized!

I may have had completely unrealistic goals for my abundant free-time. But I’m happy that it’s working out. Even if I’m busier and hardly ever sit down anymore!

How is back to school treating you?? Happy October!!

Midcentury tulip table gets an extreme makeover

I’m finally getting around to telling the tale of our new Mad Men table. It’s less of a story and more of sequence of photos with captions. Here we go:IMG_6154.JPGThree weeks ago this package is delivered to my house. Score major bonus points for #brokebackhusband!

IMG_6156.JPGThis Knoll table is in bad shape, and it’s been modified, but that profile cannot be beat!

IMG_6155.JPGI acquired the necessary gear, including oil based high gloss enamel paint for an ultra shiny finish.

IMG_6158.JPGFirst I started with a spray on oil-based rust-protective coat of primer.

IMG_6159.JPGAfter that I rolled on several layers of enamel paint. Man that stuff is THICK.

IMG_6161.JPGOne cheap piece of 3/4in thick plywood, some geometric oval-drawing, freehand work with the reciprocating saw, many layers of wood filler, and more sanding than I would have thought humanly possible….

IMG_6162.JPG and we are on our way!

IMG_6148.JPGHere she is in all her curvy, mid century modern, MadMen styled glory.

IMG_6153.JPGAround The metal rim at the base of the table I wrapped a thin piece of plastic. This provides prophylactic protection against damage to the floors.

IMG_6107.JPG What a photographic backdrop!? It makes my wine look good!!

Survival mode

I don’t think that I was fully aware, but for the last 6 1/2 years I have been in survival mode. My to do list was a matter of survival. Doing yoga was a matter of survival. What little effort I put into my marriage was a matter of survival. The lack-of-thoroughness with which I read my hundreds and hundreds of emails was a matter of survival. What I ate and drank was a matter of survival. Even my anxiety was a matter of survival.

There are always so many things occurring simultaneously in my life, that I can’t give as much as I really want to give to any of them. This summer I started to feel the first winds of change. I spent some time away at my sister-in-law’s bachelorette party, don’t ask, it’s complicated.

Today, for the first time, I have three kids in school. It’s impossible to put into words how different today is. The furrow between my brow seems less wrinkly. My brain doesn’t feel quite so addled. I thought about my husband, and not in a “When can he come home and help me?!?!” kind of way.

This fall is going to be wild, exciting and entirely unsettling. I’ve been doing the same thing for so long…