“Hey, Ella. We can get some big ass gas for the car!”

“I’d love some big ass gas!”

“Hellllooo, Big Gas Man!”

I’m not sure that you understand that commercial.

“I could use some big ass gas savings!”

We all could. But the commercial actually says big GAS savings. Big. Gas. Savings.

“Big ass gas savings!”

No… You’re adding an extra… word. And it’s really a word you shouldn’t be saying.

“Which word?”

The one after big.

“Ass? I shouldn’t be saying ass?”

Yup. That’s the one. Nailed it, Annie.

“So it isn’t ‘big ass gas’?”


“Well… It could be ‘big ass gas’ if someone farted really big.”

I suppose that’s true, Ella. And I like how you used such lovely grammatical thinking. But still. Don’t say that word.

“No more ass!”



“Shall we watch ‘Next Food Network Star’ while we eat tonight?”

“Yes, Daddy!”

“Awesome. Em, can you divvy up the dinners?”

Sure. Which one of you has the ravioli?

“I’ve just got to get one thing and… oh, shit!”

(From me: death stare. From girls: cricket-worthy silence.)

“Ah, girls. I’m sorry. I just said a bad word.”

“It’s okay, Daddy!”

“And it’s not a word you can use. In fact, I shouldn’t even have used it.”

Not in front of you, at least.

“It’s just not a word that you should say.”

“Okay, Daddy.”

“I apologize for using it. It’s just not a nice word.”

I think they’ve got it now. No need to keep going.

“I’m not even sure if you know which word was the bad one, but…”

“Daddy, we can’t say S-H-I-T, right?”

Looks like they understand which word, babe.

“Sure does. Glad we had this talk.


Both of these conversations have occurred within the past week. I think we win some kind of parenting award, except it’s more like the booby prize.
Or maybe the booty prize. Aw, snap!

Okay. I’ll quit while I’m ahead.
Or am I already a little behind??

Okay, seriously. Enough.
Annie offered me ten cents yesterday for her lunch. I forgot to give the nickels back, which is a good thing, because now I can save it for her future therapy. Or at least put it toward gas.

You Never Know What You’re Gonna Get

We spent last week at the lake with some of my extended family – a dozen of us in all – a “stolen” week, as Nick called it, because the weather was supposed to be horrendously thunderstorm-y every single day, but somehow, only one day was too rainy to be on the dock. When we’re down for just an afternoon or a weekend, I (try to) keep the girls and myself eating relatively normally — fruits and veggies, snacks devoid of too many unpronounceable ingredients, dessert food reserved for dessert. But when we dig in for a longer stay and my relatives are in town, I officially give up and accept that my aunt will give them chocolate chip cookies and Diet Coke for breakfast, my mother will sneak them candies and sips of iced tea throughout the day, and my cousins will invite them to help finish off entire family-sized bags of potato chips in one sitting. It’s still totally “everything in moderation” with 51 weeks mostly on and one week ridiculously off, right?

I prefer to save myself for Doritos. There is a reason that I don’t keep them in my house, and it is because they are filled with crack and made by the devil. I believe I ate my weight’s worth in Doritos last week, although I did manage to save room for several Magnum bars. And Fourth of July cake (for breakfast). And about half a cup of Helluva Good french onion dip. Daily.

During these weeks together, everyone is in vacation mode, where calories don’t matter and bacon is a food group, and it becomes a snack free-for-all, a mob mentality frenzy to see just how many Pringles or donut holes or Cheez Doodles we can load into the pantry. It is also every person for him or herself, because with twelve people sharing a kitchen, that organic lemonade you purchased just for you, or the leftover chicken salad you were planning to eat for lunch, magically disappears the moment someone else decides it looks tasty. Unless you put your name on it (which I have done, quite literally), it’s fair game.

I do sometimes try to show a little restraint, to ascertain the item’s intended-for consumer, if only because I’m hoping karma will smile kindly on me the next time and save me the one remaining perfectly ripe peach I’ve been eyeing. Hence, when I opened the refrigerator last weekend and discovered a beautiful little blue chocolate box containing just one of its four original specialty chocolates — a bon bon in the exact same shade of robin’s egg blue as the box — I simply closed the door and walked away. Surely, by leaving only one chocolate in the box, someone was saving it for themselves… Also, I could eat the Magnum bars in the meantime. Moderation, people.

When the little blue chocolate was still sitting there the next afternoon, however, all bets were off. I took the candy out of the box and examined it, saying aloud to my cousin, “I wonder what’s in this?” (because a blue-coated chocolate doesn’t exactly scream out caramel [yay!] or cherry [omg, no] or nougat [maybe]). A sniff didn’t provide me with any clues — it just smelled, you know, like chocolate — so I broke it in half and was delighted to discover that it was a perfect combination of milk chocolate and mint. I’d love to say that I savored each morsel, but really, I scarfed that puppy down in a single, satisfied bite, threw away the little blue box, and went on with my day.

It was only much later, after the kids had gone to bed, that my grandmother began to ask about the chocolate. “I just can’t imagine where it’s gone! I gave the rest away when the ladies came for bridge last week but I was saving that one for myself.” When asked why this particular piece of chocolate was so important, she replied that it was a Godiva chocolate, and never in her life had she had a piece of Godiva chocolate (ninety-three years is a long time to wait for Godiva, y’all), and she just wanted to know what it tasted like — but more importantly, she simply wanted to know who ate it.

At first, I didn’t answer because she hadn’t actually asked me the question (I was in another part of the house and was informed by a cousin that my grandma was making inquiries), so it totally wasn’t lying because I wasn’t saying anything at all. An hour later, while we all played cards and my grandmother again bemoaned the mysterious missing chocolate, I feigned ignorance because, quite frankly, I wasn’t so eager to confess being the culprit – and really, I was doing her a loving favor because ignorance is bliss, no? Several hands later,  however, I could avoid her inquiries no longer, and admitted that yes, I had taken and eaten the candy. The little blue chocolate. The specialty Godiva chocolate, the one she had been saving. I had taken away the one opportunity she’d had in her entire life to eat a piece of Godiva. I also might have admitted to clubbing baby seals, allowing hair feathers to become popular a couple of years back, and not properly recycling my batteries, but I don’t think she heard me.

Because they’d become a bit giggly during The Great Chocolate Interrogation, slipping me sideways glances and trying not to laugh as I sat, silent, pretending not to hear my grandmother asking plaintively why someone would deny her this one pleasure in life (she didn’t actually say this, but, c’mon, her one shot at Godiva chocolate!), and also because they’re just awesome like that, my aunts and my mom were not about to let me take the fall — at least, not alone. The moment I ‘fessed up, all three of them piped in, “Actually, Mom… I ate the chocolate.” “No, I ate it.” “Really, Mom, it was me!“, which successfully muddied the situation and offered me a small reprieve. (Are they not wickedly fabulous?!) My cousin, however, was more than happy to chime, “But Emily! I saw you eat it!
Way to be a team player, dude.

In all of the laughing and confusion (and maybe because she was starving, having not eaten the chocolate), I truly don’t think my grandma knew that it was I who’d been the thief. Nevertheless, I vowed to rectify the situation, adding “Godiva chocolates” to the family shopping list that had been lying on the kitchen counter.

“FOOD” pretty much sums it up.
Doritos. Word.

As it turned out, I had an errand to run, and so I was the designated shopper, a task that is usually reserved for at least two people because the amount of food necessary to feed all of us for a week requires more than one cart (the chocolate chip cookies alone can fill an entire bag. I’m so not kidding). When just one person is doing the shopping, however, you’re forced to stuff the cart to the brim, utilizing every single square inch of available space — and some unavailable space — like some sort of grocery store sherpa.

The Godiva is in there somewhere…
Yes, the paper plates are balancing on the beer. That’s called ingenious.
And yes, the paper towels are leaning precariously and might have fallen off twice. That’s called stupid.

Because my grandma’s box of chocolates had been a “fancy” collection, I wasn’t able to find its duplicate at the grocery store, and so instead I bought her a bag – an entire bag! – of multi-flavored Godiva truffles. White! Milk! Dark! With so many amazing choices, surely she’d never even miss the little blue mint one that I’d stolen from her.

Upon arriving home, my grandma was presented with the glorious, new, gleaming bag of truffles. She looked at them, seeming puzzled, and I assumed that she was simply taking time to revel in this incredible moment. At last, Godiva for me! Then she looked up at me and said, “What are these for?”

I told her that I was giving them to her. Just for her. Because I’d eaten hers, the one special chocolate. And I was trying to make up for it with this enormous bag of delicious chocolates. Paying it forward. Improving my karma.

She paused, chuckled, and then handed the bag back to me and said, “Oh, Emily! If I’d really wanted that chocolate, I’d have eaten it already! Besides, don’t you think that Godiva is awfully rich for someone with diabetes?”

If anyone would like some Godiva truffles, they’re in the fridge at the lake. An entire bag. Truffles. Delicious. Be sure to put your name on them, though – just use a sticky note; we’ve got plenty – unless you don’t mind sharing.

But save at least two for me, please. I think I’ve used up all my karma for a while.

Throwback Thursday: Eight Fourths

For the past eight summers, we have celebrated the Fourth of July at the lake.

ella baby 4th
Ella, 7 monthsphoof and ella 4th
And her great-grandmother, Phoofsy, 80-something but always game for having fun.

Screen Shot 2013-07-04 at 10.55.42 AM
1.5 years

Annie, 7 months; Ella, 2.5 years4th cake
Our annual celebratory cake.

matching outfits
3.5 and 1.5 years

7.4 picnic girls
2.5 and 4.5

4th party girls2
3.5 and 5.5, and a lot of orange soda

fourth of july2
6.5 and 4.5

7.04 picnic
and last year, 7.5 and 5.5,
on a day so blisteringly hot, they were already melting by the time this was taken.

Today marks the first time in over 30 years that our annual neighborhood picnic won’t occur… but I’m sure we’ll find ways to celebrate, nevertheless. And at least we’ll have the entire cake to ourselves – which, in a way, totally exemplifies the American dream.

Happy Independence Day, America!
(And happy birthday to some of my bestest friends in the world.)
You’re looking mighty spiffy for 237.

Golden Slumbers

For quite some time, Ella and Annie have been begging to have a sleepover with our next door neighbors at the lake (girls who are significantly older, but with whom they get along famously). They’d never slept over at anyone’s house before, and I wasn’t sure how it would go… But, with us visiting our family’s lake house this week, last night seemed as good a chance as any to give it a whirl. The girls were thrilled. (And, hey, it would mean that Nick and I wouldn’t have to share a room with them give them a chance to develop a little independence. Win, win!)

I expected Annie to maybe struggle a bit, both because she’s the youngest and also because she gets scared at the slightest provocation (taking her to Brave may have scarred her for life; her resulting determination to use bows and arrows in the house may have scarred me for life). I decided it would be a good idea to walk her and Ella next door, check out where they’d be sleeping, visit briefly with their friends’ mom, and give a few reassuring hugs before I returned home for a night of freedom with my family.

After dropping off their overnight bags (they’d been instructed to bring only necessities, so naturally they each brought 286 stuffed animals, two changes of clothes, several blankets, a bag of toiletries, and maybe 63 books), we went upstairs and I chatted with the mom. Then, to my surprise, Ella pulled me aside and whispered that she didn’t think she could do this. (Just when you think you’ve got your kids down, bam!, they let you know what a presumptive idiot you are.) She was too nervous, it wasn’t her own bed, what if she couldn’t fall asleep??

I talked to her for a minute, reassuring her that I thought she’d be fine — but if not, she could come home anytime. This seemed to placate her, and after I gave her a hug, I turned to do the same with Annie – but she’d already run off to play, dismissing me with a single hand wave. So much for my natural motherly instinct.

Like everywhere east of the Mississippi, it had been raining basically all day, and the ground was absolutely soaked. On the way over, we’d eked our way up the (normally grass, now mud) hill between our houses, and so I gingerly started the short journey home, taking painstakingly slow stutter steps to avoid my feet sliding entirely out from under me.

Yeah. You know when you’re holding something, a towering pile of boxes or library books or plates you’re balancing for the circus, and you feel them start to go off kilter… and you try to recalibrate, to calm the swaying, to stop the inevitable, but suddenly you know – there is just no doubt – that everything is going down, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it?

Yup. Behold: the inevitable.
Shorts, legs, shoes and forearms (where I’d tried to brace myself): covered with mud.
It should be noted that this photo was taken by my mother, who promptly put it on Facebook, saying I’d “hurried” down the hill. Ahhh, family…

It took a good thirty minutes to remove the mud and the stench, but when I finally did, I rewarded myself with a nice big bowl of peanut butter cup ice cream (with homemade fudge sauce, FTW!), half expecting Ella to come walking in any moment… But, for a solid two hours, the doors stayed blissfully closed. I’d just settled in to savor a glass of Sauvignon Blanc when my phone chirped all-too-happily at me to alert me that I had a text. It seems that Ella had borrowed our neighbor’s iPod and just needed to check in…

8 year-olds and hyperbole = BFFs.

The texts continued for a good half-hour, and although it is endearing being loved so so so so much, it’s even more endearing when your child powers through her first sleepover and actually falls asleep. After a couple of “I might come home but I’m not sure” exchanges, I told her that either was fine — stay, or return — but that she really needed to get some sleep. Amazingly, she agreed, and the texts stopped… so I assume that she fell asleep shortly thereafter. Or perhaps she robbed a bank and then wrote the great American novel – but hey, I didn’t hear from her… so yay, sleepovers!

Although both of my girls usually awaken early, there’d been talk amongst them and their buddies (who, as middle-schoolers, tend to go all Edward and [post-gruesome-Renesmee birth] Bella if they see the sun before noon) that they’d try to sleep until 9:00. I said a prayer to the sleep gods that maybe their friends’ habits would rub off on Annie and Ella, hoping they’d all get some decent shut-eye, and then went to bed myself. Despite the rare opportunity to sleep in ourselves, Nick and I both got up early today – and, as I looked down at the neighbors’ beach shortly before 8 a.m., I saw all four girls, pajama-clad, groggily dipping toes in the lake and checking out the foggy morning. Sleep gods, you totally slacked on this one.

Around 10:20, they finally came home, having had a marvelous time and looking surprisingly zippy.
Ella’s eyes are closed probably because she’s trying to concentrate on corralling the stuffed animal tribe she brought with her.

I girded myself for the exhausted meltdowns that I was sure would come today… But, again, both girls completely disregarded my superior parental instincts and had a great, cheerful, not-at-all cranky day. They pushed all the way through until 8:00, when I began to notice that they looked a little droopy as they ate their dessert, so I encouraged them to move along and head to bed. They brushed and washed and pajama-ed, protesting that they were just fine, not tired at all… But, a mere three minutes later when I came to check on them and say goodnight, they were both completely zonked, already snoring away.

Looks like mother does (occasionally) know best. Holla!
I’d definitely recommend not following me home, however. At least not after it’s rained.

The Family That Bunks Together…

We are spending the week at my family’s lake house on Canandaigua, as we do every Fourth of July. It’s one of the only times each year that my extended family gets together en masse, and we four always look forward to it … except maybe for the sharing of one bedroom (including a bunk bed, with Nick and me on the bottom – you know you’re jealous).

“Pssst! Mommy!”


“Mommy! Daddy!”



I am, now.

“I’m trying to be quiet, but I don’t know what to do.”

You could raise the shade a little.


I’m trying to whisper. Because other people are sleeping.


You could raise the shade a little so that you have enough light to read.

“Oh, good! That means I can put on some pants!”

Do I even want to know why you don’t have…

“What the heck is happening in here?”

“She does this every morning, Daddy.”

This is why we don’t all sleep in one room at home.

You’d think, inventing games like this each day, that they’d go to bed exhausted and sleep in niiiice and late.