Thankful on Thursday … and Every Day

Every night, before I go to bed, I write in a gratitude journal as a way to end my day on a positive note.  Nothing profound or poetic.  Not even in full sentences.  Just a quick list of things that made me smile or gave me pause.

Most nights, it’s easy to rattle off two or three things because I have a lot for which to be thankful.  But some days I struggle to remember how lucky I am and that even the bad days could be much worse.  Some days suck and some people suck, but every day there is something — or someone — for which to be grateful.

69e8675ec58aef14981a66d19f7bb20fSince tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I want to dedicate this post to the people in my life for whom I am most grateful.  Specifically, …

  • my husband, who supports me and loves me, despite all my idiosyncrasies, issues and insecurities (I love him despite his faults, too, so I guess we’re even)
  • my kids, who make me proud and melt my heart (they do drive me crazy on a daily basis and even piss me off sometimes, but I wouldn’t trade them for the world)
  • my parents, who are two of the most generous, supportive people I know (and equally as opinionated and stubborn)
  • my sister, whose easy-going attitude reminds me to be more flexible and not sweat the small stuff (she’s also as generous, opinionated and stubborn as my parents)
  • my girlfriends, who are more like my sisters, therapists and playmates rolled into one (I just wish they lived closer)
  • my trainer and my fellow boot campers, who motivate me and keep me accountable (they also don’t judge how many times I pee during class)
  • my blog readers, whose compliments and words of encouragement keep me writing

Of course, I am also grateful for my health and my home, and the fact that we have food in the fridge and money in the bank.  How could I not be thankful?  But in addition to the usual suspects of health, wealth and family, I am appreciative of a few less-important things that make my life a little bit happier (and easier) each day.  Notably, …

  • Carpools … every busy mom needs a reliable carpool or two (or five)
  • Friendly neighbors with kidsitting (that’s what we call babysitting for older kids) teenagers and helpful neighbors who sew better than me … thanks again, Tracy
  • Satellite radio … because sometimes a girl needs to kick it old school
  • Heated car seats … two words: warm buns
  • Under eye concealer … do I really need to explain this one?
  • Peppermint green tea and dark chocolate covered almonds … delish!
  • My tall, red Hunter rain boots … with calves finally small enough to wear these, I no longer dread rainy days
  • My food processor, NutriBullet 900, mandolin and zucchini noodler … four small appliances that see as much action as a college co-ed

My list may sound shallow, but if it makes me happy or makes me better, gives me strength or gives me peace — be it important or petty, big or small, tangible or intangible — I am thankful for it this Thanksgiving … and every day thereafter.


Happy Thanksgiving!


When Did Pants Go Out of Style?

Did I miss a memo?  Did pants go out of style for boys?

It’s the middle of November and my boys are still wearing shorts.  I guess I should be grateful that shorts are long and socks are tall so very little of their legs are actually exposed to the cold weather, but still …

This is not just some crazy fashion statement by my boys.  I think it might be an actual trend.  Boys at bus stops all around town are flashing skin, to the dismay of their respective mothers.  Last week, it even snowed here in the Brandywine Valley.  Not six feet like it did in Buffalo, NY — only a light dusting that disappeared by midday — but snow all the same.  Add the wind chill to already cold temperatures and it’s downright freezing.  Pants should be a no-brainer, right?  Obviously, not for the Tarr boys.


Yes, that is snow on the ground and yes, those are shorts on my 11-year-old

Of course, I “strongly suggest” that they wear pants.  Of course, they strongly push back.  Their collective defense?  They aren’t cold.  Apparently, it’s hot in school.  Too hot for pants, according to my 6th grader.  Much too hot on gym days, according to my 3rd grader.  They also point out that they are barely outside for more than a few minutes at a time and that they are wearing sweatshirts and knit hats.  Valid points.

As I’ve said before, I don’t fight the wardrobe war with my kids.  This explains why my boys are still wearing shorts and why my 8-year-old sometimes wears two different sneakers or three pairs of socks simultaneously.  It’s not worth the argument.  Besides, I’m pretty sure they each only have one or two pairs of pants that fit right now (but there’s an abundance of well-fitting shorts in their drawers).  Guess I should go shopping.

So am I a bad mother for sending my kids to school in shorts in mid-November?  Maybe.  But if I am, I know I’m in good company.


Butts, Boobs and Boys

My 3rd grader is studying the solar system and every time he names the planets, he smirks, giggles or outwardly laughs when he names Uranus.  It’s a joke that never gets old.

Butt, boobs, pee, poop … common “potty words” that most little boys find hysterical, but not my boys … at least not until recently.

I had almost made it through 11 full years of parenting without experiencing the bathroom humor phase.  Bum jokes and poop talk were never a big thing with my boys until recently.  Back in the springtime, my older son was studying the human body around the same time that my younger son was reading a book about the solar system.  One night over dinner, their worlds collided when my younger guy realized that the body part anus sounded very much like the planet Uranus.  Hysterical laughter ensued and from that night on, butt jokes became king.

Age appropriate humor for a 3rd grader?  Most likely.  A bit childish for a middle-schooler?  Possibly.  Harmful or perverse?  Hardly.

It’s not like my boys have turned into Beavis and Butthead or anything.  Far from it.  Their puns are generally innocent and mild, not crude or crass.  And it’s not like butt jokes and booby talk is being spewed continuously, or even regularly, in our house.  That said, when/if an opportunity presents itself, it certainly isn’t missed.


Cigarette bucket outside of waterfront restaurant (no, it’s not for tushies)

Case in point:  While shopping for birthday cards recently, the boys came across two cards that garnered big laughs … one about an itchy butt, the other about hairy buttocks.  Luckily, the recipients were 8- and 11-year old boys as well, so the humor wasn’t lost.

card #1 (the inside message was simply "Happy Birthday")

Card #1: The inside simply read, “Happy Birthday”

Front of birthday card

Card #2: Front

inside of card

Card #2: Inside

I’ll admit that I sometimes find myself laughing at their ridiculous jokes, puns and word plays … Boobies is a fun word to say; Uranus is an absurd name; and the “M-i-s-s-i-s-s-“I-PEE-p-i” pun is still going strong.  Classic stuff!

So here’s my theory:  If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, then I think young girls are from Saturn and young boys are from Uranus.  Get it?


Lost and (Not) Found

Let’s play a little game … What do the following items have in common?

  • a baseball cap
  • a fleece glove (just one, not the pair)
  • an Under Armour sweatshirt (brand new)
  • a football
  • a frisbee
  • an athletic cup
  • a water bottle
  • a lunch box
  • a day planner
  • a vocabulary workbook
  • an iPad charger
  • a pair of scissors
  • two cereal bowls
  • two knit hats
  • two different socks (not a matching pair)
  • two drawstring bags (one with clean gym clothes inside)
  • three mouth guards
  • three reading books
  • four homework worksheets
  • five text books
  • six lacrosse balls

These are all items that my boys have collectively lost, misplaced, forgotten or destroyed over the past three months.  Consequently, I have lost countless hours (and dollars) searching for, retrieving, replacing or repairing said items.  I have also lost my patience more times than I’d care to admit.


refrigerator magnet by Annie Taintor

I’m told it’s a kid thing.  They are only 8 and 11, after all.  I guess that means I’m supposed to cut them some slack.  Easier said than done.

My younger guy is easily distracted and generally pretty forgetful.  I love him dearly, but he is also horrible at putting things away after he uses them … thus his perpetual misplacement of everything from books to socks.  He is also independent and stubborn at the same time, which has resulted in a few broken bowls, plates and glasses.  All accidents, of course, but irritating all the same.

My older guy is much better at returning items to their rightful places after using them, so he doesn’t usually lose things inside the house.  That’s great, but outside the house is a different story.  He isn’t very organized and can be careless or preoccupied, resulting is many a left-behind text book, sweatshirt or bag.  Best example:  On day #6 of school this year, he lost his ever-important planner … with his class schedule, homework assignments and assorted papers inside.  Four days of searching and $7 of his own money later, he had to replaced it.  So far, planner #2 has made it home every night.

Side note:  My middle schooler is extremely diligent with his cell phone.  He has occasionally forgotten to remove it from his backpack, but he has never lost or misplaced it.  I guess paying $7 to replace his planner was painful enough.  He knows that if he loses or breaks his phone, a replacement is his responsibility … and it’ll cost much more than $7.

So what’s a hyper-organized, everything-has-a-place, Type A mom to do?  Suck it up, I guess.  Continue to remind them.  And when appropriate, let them suffer the consequences of either replacing the lost item(s) with their own money or going without.  Hopefully, as they grow and mature, they’ll become more responsible and mindful.  Hopefully.


The Obligatory Halloween Post

Warning: Gratuitous use of photos in this post.

Yesterday was October 31 and while my husband and kids were out trick-or-treating, I was home writing this post and doling out candy to the few trick-or-treaters that trekked up the big hill to our front door.  And by few trick-or-treaters, I mean six.  That’s it.  Just six … three Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, two friendly witches and one Elsa from the movie “Frozen.”

Maybe it’s because most of the neighborhood kids are in high school now and have “aged-out” of the holiday, or maybe it’s because our neighborhood is too small and the kids went elsewhere to pull in a bigger candy haul.  Whatever the reason, Halloween was very low-key this year.  Not just in my neighborhood, but also in my house.

It started in the morning.  Neither of my boys got dressed up.  My 6th grader didn’t wear a costume to school because apparently middle schoolers don’t do that.  My 3rd grader was told to bring, not to wear, his costume to school and change into it just before the afternoon parade.  No morning costumes meant no morning costume pictures.  It was just another Friday morning.

In years past, my boys have planned out their Halloween costumes months in advance and they’ve always coordinated … Buzz Lightyear and Sheriff Woody, Flash and Captain America, Batman and Robin, 2/3 of Run DMC (this was my favorite!), etc.  Even last year, when my then 10-year-old decided he wanted to do his own thing, he ended up complementing his brother:  old man Jackie Robinson to MLB star Jackie Robinson.


2006, Buzz Lightyear & Sheriff Woody


2007, Flash & Captain America


2008, Boxers


2009, Batman & Robin


2010, Ghostbusters


2011, Run DMC (minus 1)


2012, ’70s Globetrotter & Shady McCoy (Eagles)


2013, Old Jackie Robinson & MLB Jackie

But this year was different.  Two months ago, my newly-minted middle schooler decided he wasn’t going to dress up for Halloween.  Two weeks ago, he decided he would dress up, but only so he could take his younger brother around the neighborhood and maybe get a little candy for himself, too.  Then, five days ago, he decided he was going to dress up and trick-or-treat with a buddy in his neighborhood.  They were dressing as Little Red Riding Hood and The Big Bad Wolf …  Guess which one my son was?


2014, Little Red Riding Hood & The Big Bad Wolf

Last-minute anything stresses me out, but I have to give my 11-year-old credit … He had it all figured out in a matter of minutes: an Under Armour red hoodie with an old red cape on top, my black tennis skirt (he added long johns underneath because it was cold last night!) with red knee-high socks and red sneakers, plus a yellow Easter basket to hold.  Done.  It was haphazard, ridiculous and very cheesy, but it was perfect.  Perfect for a middle school tween boy who didn’t want to seem like he cared too much, but still really wanted to dress up and be silly for at least one more Halloween.  Mission accomplished.

As for my 8-year-old, he went the patriotic route as a U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant in his dress blues.  No connection to Little Red Riding Hood, but happy all the same … even before the candy.


2014, U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant

I will admit that I have mixed feelings about yesterday.  I am fine with less fuss and fanfare around the holiday (I’ve been scaling back all the holidays this year).  I’m also fine with the boys growing up and growing out of Halloween (although I still have many more years to go with the younger one).  But a small piece of me looks back at those old Halloween pictures and thinks, where did the time go?  Where are those chubby-cheeked babies?  Then I remember that bigger kids mean bigger candy bars, and life is good.