The Elf on the Shelf is finally out and about in my house. Which means he somehow must have escaped from the attic. Trying to remember to move the elf each night is incredibly taxing on my brain. And not only that, I’m reasonably confident that the guy is mocking me a large part of the day.
Here’s what he must be thinking…
1. I wonder how long that lady is going to look for her keys. I can see them right there under the couch. She’s checked her back pocket 4 times. Lady, they are under the couch!!
2. These kids seriously eat more off the floor than their plates. I like when that one little kid pretends his plate is a frisbee.
3. Oh man, they forgot to move me again. I wonder what excuse they are going to use this time. I like the one about me having a bit of sciatica.
4. That 5 year old boy just asked his mother 14 times if he could have a snack. Dude, you aren’t getting a snack.
5. Oh wait, 14 might be his lucky number after all. He broke her. He got a snack! And a cookie no less. This kid is really talented. I’m taking notes.
6. I would do anything to change my outfit. I’m soooo over red. I wish I could wear navy. I look fabulous is navy.
7. No one around here is ever going to guess that I’m the mastermind behind the Kourtney Kardashian/ Scott Disick break up. Text you later Kourt.
8. Where are the Barbies? I can’t find them anywhere. Did they get rid of the Barbies? They know I like to hang with Barbies late night. Come on!! Last year I hung out in the Barbie hot tub!
9. Pizza 3 nights in a row. Seriously people?! You’re mailing this parenting thing in.
10. Why would you buy a kid a drum set?
11. Hey lady, if you’re going to pour yourself a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, don’t forget a glass for the elf. I’m right up here!
12. Can someone please change the channel from Lifetime?! I’m dying over here.
13. Do you know they are trying to make me work all year round by turning me into a birthday elf! I seriously need a new agent.
14. It’s hard living in a world with so much Elf on a Shelf hate.
15. Did they just turn out the lights and go to sleep. Hello? Hello? Isn’t anyone going to move me? Hello?
If you’re a new parent and you’re wondering what you are going to remember about your baby, let me tell you. Nothing. You will remember nothing.
Okay, that’s not exactly true. You will remember tiny little moments, but it will be hard to remember the entire essence of what your life is like right now, what your baby is like right now.
I look at my children today and I try to remember what my 11 year old was like – toddling around our home. And it is nearly impossible.
The best I can do is remember little snippets of time – like a day we were taking a walk down our neighborhood street in New York City. She insisted on climbing the stairs at the entrance way of every building. It was the West Village. There were a lot of stairs. It took forever. It took longer than forever.
But she didn’t care that I wanted to get home. She just kept climbing up and down, with that determined toddler energy. Her hair had grown into a blonde pixie cut and whatever she wore that day, I know she picked it out herself because she knew what she liked.
Not long after I had my first baby, a friend told me to start writing stuff down. She insisted I would forget all these passages of childhood. I knew she was wrong. How could I forget any of it? I spent hours staring at this baby, nursing her, changing her, kissing her, loving her. Every moment was chiseled in my brain.
But it turns out, it wasn’t. As your child evolves, those memories somehow slowly drift away. You look at a child who now stands head to head with you and you think, how was she ever that small?
Thankfully, I followed my friend’s advice. In the past 11 years, I did write things down in a notebook. Just now and then. Silly things, ordinary things, things I would have long forgotten if I hadn’t picked up a pen.
Like the fact that Chase (3 at the time) used to kiss me every night on both cheeks as if he was secretly European. And as he did it, he would say, “I kiss your face. And now I kiss your other face.”
The funny thing is I wrote down these notes for myself but I inadvertently gave my children a gift because they love when I read from this book.
Dylan adores hearing about her younger self. Like the day she (then 9) told me, “Daddy is good on TV. You’re good at watching TV.” (I guess we all have our strengths.)
I want to remember everything. But I know I will have to settle for moments here and there.
I want to remember that 2 year old Cash rolls a backpack wherever he goes and would hitchhike to Utah if I would just let him be free.
And that 5 year old Harlowe always turns to me and says, “You’re my best mommy. Of course you’re my only mommy.” (She does have a point. It is a very small sample size.)
And that when Chase wants something, he will ask me 457 times because he is undoubtedly the most persistent member of this family.
And that 9 year old Summer is terrified of the tiniest of dogs but not gigantic horses. And that there is no one who gives better hugs.
And that 11 year old Dylan is a tornado of passion, creativity and unbridled energy. And one day, not long ago, my heart almost exploded as I watched her jump on the trampoline in the rain with her 2 year old brother – both soaking wet and filled with ridiculous joy.
So whether your child is 2 months or already towering over you, take a pen and a notebook and start writing down the moments. Just whenever you think of it. The things they say, what they hope to be when they grow up, how they make you laugh, their obsession with cheese, whatever.
It doesn’t matter what you write. Only that you write something.
Because some day you will want to remember it all.
There always moments in life that define each of us. A moment when we decide, we can’t just sit back and do our normal… go to work, run to the grocery store, put the kids to bed, fold laundry, watch TV, read a book and check out social media kind of life. Yes, we will continue doing all those things (and enjoying them… well, maybe not that laundry thing) but we feel compelled to do more.
It might be the March of Dimes or cancer research or adopting a foster child or collecting toys for the homeless or simply paying for a stranger’s coffee at Starbucks. Moments that make us want to make this a kinder, gentler world.
For me that moment was Sandy Hook.
I remember sitting in the parking lot at Trader Joe’s and listening to my car radio in disbelief. 20 children? That couldn’t possibly be true. As a mother, I felt broken for those families. And horror that I live in a country where the mentally ill, people on terror watch lists and people who can’t pass a standard background check… can still find ways to buy a gun. Easily. And legislators that would rather accept money, than stand up and do the right thing.
As someone who has had my own violent encounter with gun violence and who has watched in anger as shootings have happened all over our country, I am compelled to do more.
Over the weekend, I (along with 3 of my kids) took part in walks organized by Moms Demand Action to end gun violence in this country. More than ten thousand people attended over 100 walks in 43 states.
As former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords (who suffered a serious brain injury from gun violence) tweeted, we honor the victims of Sandy Hook with action.
We all have our callings. Something that stirs us to act and create more love and light in this world.
So I ask you on the 3rd anniversary of Sandy Hook to honor those children who never had a chance to grow and discover their callings. I ask you to honor them by taking your passion, your commitment and go out and begin changing this world.
I like to think I’ve gotten this Hanukkah thing down. I’m not Jewish but I’ve been celebrating Hanukkah with my children (along with Christmas) for the past 11 years.
Since we have five kids (at least the last time I did a headcount), I’m always on the lookout for affordable cute gifts. And I knew I had a winner for the 3rd night of Hanukkah when I came up with lunch boxes.
All the kids needed new lunch boxes (so practical!) and I knew they would be excited about new ones (and might temporarily stop complaining they weren’t all getting the iPhone 6 Plus).
Because I’m a seasoned parent (this is foreshadowing that I might screw up), I got my 3 girls the same Justice lunch box. Why? Because if I got different ones, then one would be jealous of the other, they would start whining and I would get one of those parental headaches that can only be solved by a glass of wine and a viewing of “Sweet Home Alabama.”
So they opened their lunch boxes and yay, they loved them! (Even once they realized the iPhone 6 Plus was not inside.)
But here’s where I went wrong.
Lunch making is not a glamorous business. My kids help out a lot with their lunches because there is no way I’m taking that task on alone when there is good TV to watch. But I make a lot of the sandwiches, add certain things and verify they haven’t packed 3 Snickers bars.
But now I just made things way harder for myself because their lunch boxes look EXACTLY the same.
See what I mean?
Which means I might give Summer pickles when it’s only Harlowe who eats pickles and I’ll give Harlowe string cheese but it’s Dylan who likes that kind of cheese and I’ll give Dylan BBQ chips but it’s Summer who actually eats those. It’s confusing enough without adding a layer of complexity like “Whose lunch box is this again?”
I don’t know why I didn’t think of this issue earlier.
So I did what any mom would do.
I put on luggage tags.
Problem solved. I hope.
As mass shootings and gun violence continues in the United States and overseas, I’ve noticed a real shift in how Americans think about it. For a long time, there was more of a, “That’s shockingly horrible but I can’t imagine this happening in my kid’s school or my workplace.” But now, it’s more of, “Sooner or later, it’s going to happen to my community or my family.”
And with the Paris attacks and the San Bernardino shootings, it all seems raw again. Which is why it’s so incredible that 50 Senators recently defeated background checks. (By the way, those Senators have received 27 million dollars from the NRA.) You can find out how your Senators voted here.
Right now criminals can avoid background checks by purchasing guns from unlicensed sellers online and at gun shows. Of course, some will say, “Well, background checks wouldn’t have prevented the San Bernardino shooting.” Maybe not, but why not start closing gun loopholes and save future lives?
As so many have said before me, why is it easier to buy a gun than get a driver’s license in this country?
Plus 88% of Americans favor universal background checks (and that includes a lot of gun owners). Why isn’t Congress listening to the people instead of focusing on their next reelection?
And yes, we need more than background checks. We need more resources for mental health. We need to close the terror gap, to prevent individuals on terror watch lists from getting armed. We need more people to say something, when they see something.
We keep saying #NotOneMore. But there is one more. And another. And another. And it doesn’t stop. Which leaves many of us feeling completely helpless. And terrified for our safety.
So we can do nothing. We can live in our bubbles and hope it doesn’t happen to us or someone we know. Or we can make a call to our Senators. We can make a donation to Moms Demand Action or Everytown for Gun Safety or The Brady Campaign or Americans for Responsible Solutions. And we can start walking.
This weekend, I’m going to a March for Gun Safety in Miami (David T. Kennedy Park in Miami on Sunday, December 13 at 10 AM). Please join me there or walks are happening all over the country. Click here to find the one closest to you.
On the third anniversary of the Sandy Hook shootings, isn’t it time we finally said #enough?
Enough gun violence.