While I really want to love Halloween, it’s a stressful holiday for me. I usually commit to making – or at least attempting to throw together – the majority of my kids’ costumes. I don’t sew, but I will hot glue the hell out of things to get them to stay together for at least one night.
This year we had Hello Kitty (easy: pink dress, white shirt and tights, HK mask from a costume shop), Rouge the Bat (black tank top and leggings, pink heart, bat ears, and bat wings left over from 2012. I put it together mostly thanks to this tutorial), and Knuckles the Echidna.
At first I thought, Knuckles! That’ll be easy! We’ll just get a red sweatsuit, and I’m sure I can make a headpiece and some oversized white gloves…..
And then Christian was all, We’re buying it.
And I was all, No! I can throw it together! It’ll be fun!
And he was all, Have you seen yourself in Halloweens past? Besides, I ordered it yesterday.
And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is probably why I had costumes 85% completed about two weeks before Halloween. Because he was right. Not only am I busy with work and life, I’m a huge procrastinator. And you know red sweatsuits are in abundance except for the one time you really need one. He saved me with that purchase.
Of course I always leave the few, most important details for last. Saturday morning found me attempting to spray paint a pair of black boxing gloves white, and when that didn’t work, I tried wrapping them in some spare white tshirts I had laying around (hooray for hoarding!), and THAT is when I realized I was out of hot glue sticks, and the super glue wasn’t cutting it, and I had misplaced an entire package of safety pins, and I knew somewhere in this house is an unopened package of no-sew adhesive, so instead I turned to the magic that is clear packing tape to get these fucking gloves done, and BAM. Her face when she saw them was well worth the shit I lost trying to put them together.
She wore them to exactly one house before she ditched them in the bottom of our friend’s stroller.
I’m shooting for something crazy this month: National Blog Posting Month, where I’ll be attempting to post something – anything! – every day in November. It’s a lofty goal, seeing as I can barely manage to post once a week lately. Usually when NaBloPoMo comes around, I think the participants are crazy. Then I get a little envious. Then when they all want to impale themselves on their laptops, I feel better about my decision to not take part. But here I am.
So if you see me suddenly flooding your reader or your inbox or taking over your life completely, know that it’s temporary. I’ll be back to my regularly scheduled laziness in no time.
Post #1: DONE. *happy dance*
As a part of the Netflix Stream Team, each month I let you know what I’ve been streaming. What should I watch next?
My first boyfriend’s name was Michael. He was handsome and conservative and preppy, a vision in argyle sweater vests. He has his sights set on Ivy League education and a job in finance or politics, basically the exact opposite of me, the flaky art student who leaned more to the left.
Okay, so maybe it was more of a crush than a relationship. But it was still one of the only crushes this tomboy ever admitted to her parents. That’s how bad I had it for Alex P. Keaton, AKA Michael J. Fox. Our dot matrix printer couldn’t keep up with the flurry of homemade greeting cards I created, declaring my love with pixelated kisses and hearts, like a borderline 80s stalker.
I still carry a torch for Michael J. Fox. This month the world celebrated as October 21, 2015, came and went, meaning that the entire Back to the Future trilogy now exists completely in the past, something our kids will really never understand the significance of.
While desperately cutting and gluing felt for a Science Day costume, Christian and I watched Back in Time, a documentary on Netflix about the history, the making, and the cult of the Back to the Future movies. With interviews from the filmmakers, the actors, and some of BTTF’s most dedicated fans, we get a real behind-the-scenes look at what people still call the perfect movie.
For example, did you know that for the first six weeks of filming Marty McFly was actually played by Eric Stoltz (who I have also had a mad movie star crush on for years). Whoa. Heavy.
Apparently I’m old enough to feel nostalgic for things like this, things that it’s hard to imagine my own kids ever feeling nostalgic about. Did my own parents feel that way? I have no idea. But like one of the interviewees said in the doc, “Movies are so bad these days.” Or something along those lines. What WILL my kids feel nostalgic about?
Time travel on Netflix
In Timeline, a group of students travel to 14th century France to rescue their history professor, who accidentally stumbled upon a wormhole while working at an archaeology dig. A wormhole that was accidentally created by a scientist while working on a teleportation device. Two lessons here: Leave teleportation alone, and don’t go digging around in the dirt, because you never know when you’ll find yourself transported back to a time with no toothpaste. (Also, if you can, read the book first, by . The movie is not bad, but the book is always better. I mean, it’s Michael Crichton.)
Can you believe that I have never seen The Terminator all the way through? I’ve seen bits and pieces, and as a teenager I watched Terminator 2 about 8 million times. I had absolutely no clue what was going on, but that didn’t matter because we only watched it for Edward Furlong, may he rest in peace. Luckily I can stream The Terminator and see plenty of bare Arnie butt. (We also just watched Terminator Genisys, and it was awesome, despite the fewer bare butt scenes.)
In The Visitors, after a nobleman and his squire are transported to the future by a medieval sorcerer, they must try and find a way back to the 12th century. Why? I have no idea. I’d much rather live in the now.
And who in their right mind would put together a time travel roundup without Doctor Who? Confession: I started watching Doctor Who about a year ago, and only got a few episodes in. Maybe I’m not quirky enough to fully appreciate it? But I do think often of jumping back on the bandwagon. I love Christpher Eccleston (the doctor I left off with).
Finally, the kids have been loving the new Mr. Peabody and Sherman Show. In there new show, Mr. Peabody and Sherman host late night comedy show from a swanky penthouse, featuring time traveling guests and a live audience. It’s a hoot.
What are you watching?
This photo’s a little dark and blurry; it’s hard to photograph kids on scooters when you’re already significantly behind them. I’m trying to capture Rachel coasting on this downhill stretch, with her right leg up off the ground. She’s completely balancing on her left leg for several yards at a time.
This is a big deal.
These scooters have been a source of frustration since we got them for Christmas almost 2 years ago. When Rachel and Claire realized there was more to it than just hopping on and taking off, they were all, “No thanks!” They wanted to ride them, but got frustrated when they couldn’t keep up with their little sister. It’s been hard not to play the comparison game. For all of us.
The girls are making great strides in occupational therapy. Their balance and strength is improving; I just need to make more effort to work with them at home. Every morning like clockwork I ask Claire if she wants to ride her scooter to school, and she says no. She’d rather walk than deal with the frustration of not being able to keep up. She’ll come around some day, probably when she doesn’t want to be left behind as her friends and sisters ride around the neighborhood. I don’t know.
Since we’ve realized that the problem was mostly physical and not simply lack of determination (although the physical aspects led to the lack of determination), I’ve calmed down little bit. I let them do things at their own pace. I’m their cheerleader, not their coach, because when it comes down to it, I am a terrible coach.
But for now, this photo is progress. This photo is encouragement. This photo is pretty damn badass.
I turned 37 recently, and for weeks in my head I had been writing about how I am completely happy and content reaching my mid-to-late 30s. But before I could get anything down on paper, our dishwasher broke, and I found myself spending inordinate amounts of time hand-washing dishes and cursing our need to eat food on a regular basis. Then I slipped into a 3-day funk that thoroughly freaked me out, because while I can be a terribly moody person, crying in the bathroom over cat poop isn’t exactly my thing. I still don’t know what to think of it, but I’m aware of how important it is for me to remain, um, aware.
During this fun time of hand-washing pioneer days, my back started bothering me again. I can’t tell whether it’s the old disc problem or if it’s muscular, but I can tell you that it went from slightly annoying to debilitating and soul-crushing in a matter of days. That may have contributed to the crying in the bathroom because bending over to remove cat feces from your bathtub really hurts.
But backaches and broken dishwashers aside, I still find myself happy with where I am at this age. I have an amazing husband and three sweet girls who are all in school full time (holla!). I have two part-time jobs that allow me to mostly set my own hours and still have coffee with a friend once in a while and pick up my kids from school (and that I would never have come across if it weren’t for blogging). I have a great community of friends, both online and off, that make me feel loved and like I’m worth someone’s time and thought.
I’m taking a beginner’s yoga class with my two best girlfriends. We signed up for the class as a way to spend time together while trying something new, something that would be good for us. While I loved the idea of yoga and zen and being one with the universe and all that, I didn’t really get it. How can practicing a few poses make someone a better person?
Some of us were there to get stronger. Some of us were there to increase flexibility. Some of us were there to increase fitness despite some nagging injuries.
“Yoga is about strength and flexibility,” said our instructor Kali, who, despite her short stature and soft voice, commands the room with her calming presence. “There is such thing as being too flexible.”
Making it to yoga every Sunday evening is not easy. Any evening we chose would not have been easy. We all have families and jobs and obligations and extracurricular activities. We’re tired and overwhelmed and have to-do lists a mile long. But one of the reasons we signed up was to force ourselves to carve out a little pocket of time in our week to do something just for us, something that didn’t involve our husbands or our kids. Something that would force us to say, “We deserve this,” and also something that would allow us to recognize that everyone would be okay without us. Also, we sometimes sit in the parking lot after class and drink wine, because we realized that we aren’t able to actually chat and catch up while doing yoga. If someone comes up with a “chatty yoga” class, we will be the first ones on the roster.
I almost skipped yoga last Sunday, on what ended up being the tail end of my 3-day funk. It would take effort to peel myself off the bathroom floor and makeup to cover up the splotches on my face. But I knew it was silly to skip something that was deemed as “my time” because I was feeling overwhelmed and sad for seemingly no reason. I fell out of most of my balance positions and almost cried when she explained that these very poses were good for anxiety and depression, because they force you to clear your mind and focus solely on what you’re doing – attempting to stay upright.
I’m happy at 37, even though my dishwasher is still broken and I can’t seem to keep up with life most days. I’m doing work that I like. I’ve finished everyone’s Halloween costumes earlier than ever this year, so I feel like I am totally winning at life. Meanwhile, making time for myself is always a challenge, but I’m finding new ways to do so. I’m comfortable jetting out of the house at the last minute, leaving everything up to Christian, because I know he can handle it.
For those of you in your late 20s who are dreading the impending 3-0 and beyond, I can only tell you that it’s nothing to fear. I wouldn’t go back to being the insecure idiot I was in my 20s for anything. And who knows? Maybe I’ll continue to get wiser and more comfortable with who I am. My back is already feeling better, so at least I’ll be able to sit comfortably. But then the refrigerator stopped dispensing water, so I guess 37 means nonstop appliance repairs and trying to keep the cat from pooping in the bathtub. I’ll keep you posted.
Over the years, we’ve watched the Austin City Limits Festival grow from practically nothing to one of the biggest music festivals in the world, which still blows my mind.
Christian and I attended ACL years and years ago, before it got so huge. In 2003 we celebrated our first wedding anniversary on the same weekend ACL was holding their second annual festival. The lineup featured a bunch of acts that were really not that big of a deal to most people. I mean, REM was headlining (and they were AWESOME to see live), but I really wanted to see the Old 97s, and we caught a bit of The Dandy Warhols. Looking back at the lineup, I can now see that I missed out on The Shins, one of my current favorites that I wasn’t even aware existed back then.
Back then the festival only took place over one weekend in September. Now it spans two weekends and is held in slightly cooler October, after one unfortunate sweltering and dust-covered year. And for some perspective, 3-day passes in 2003 and 2004 were around $75. They’re currently $225. Which is why this year we only opted for one day passes, still running us $100 each.
When we went again in 2004, the festival had turned a corner. They had larger acts (Modest Mouse, Franz Ferdinand, The Pixies, Sheryl Crowe…), and the crowds were insane and annoying, especially having experienced it when there were almost no crowds. So we swore we’d never go again. Each spring when they released the lineup, I would feel a pang of jealousy, but then ticket prices skyrocketed, we had 3 kids in 2 years, and the whole festival just fell off our radar for a long time, save the occasional Facebook photo I’d see of friends at the festival (with their kids!).
In 2014, I watched the ACL livestream almost all weekend long. The Avett Brothers, The Head and the Heart, Fitz and the Tamtrums, Iconapop, Lorde. And I declared that ACL tickets were what I wanted most for my birthday the following year.
“What about the kids?”
“We can take the kids! Kids 10 and under are free!”
“Yeah, that doesn’t even sound like a little bit of fun.”
What can I say? He can’t say no to me.
TL;DR version: We came, we saw, we walked forever, we sweated, we heard some great music, and we left just as everyone else was headed over to see The Strokes. Would we do it again? Absolutely. Kids 10 and under get in free, and before you scoff that a gigantic music festival is no place for children, there are tons of kids there. There’s even an entire sectioned-off Austin Kiddie Limits area featuring children’s artists, crafts, activities, and free snacks. One of the things I love about this city is that they can make almost any event family friendly.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that most people we encountered were not completely repulsed by children. During the BORNS set, a couple gave the girls a bubble wand they’d picked up from a vendor. While huddling in some scarce shade, munching on strawberry GoodPops, we chatted with a young girl who complimented Zoe on her curls.
When we finally found some real shade (by the portapotties, which my kids claim smell wonderful – not sure what that says about my housekeeping skills), Christian and I sat and relaxed, listened to a little Vance Joy from afar, and waited for Of Monsters and Men. The girls, however got their second wind and ran around the nearby open area, playing “hide & seek tag,” which means if you were standing still in that area, either alone or in a group, you were fair game to either be hidden behind or have circles run around you. Most of their victims thought they were pretty hilarious, once they figured out why a strange kid suddenly came up and stood right in the middle of their group.
We decided to leave around 7:30 once we decided that a) we were bone tired, and b) once it got dark, it’d be even more impossible to find each other if we got separated in the crowds. As closely as we had to keep eyes on the kids in broad daylight, darkness and heavy crowds made me super nervous.
I’m glad we went. Navigating a gigantic, crowded music festival with three kids doesn’t exactly sound all that fun. We didn’t dare split up, because cell phone reception in the park was terrible, and unless you had a meeting point, it would be almost impossible to find your people again. But we feel like we’re in a place where we’re ready to reclaim a little bit of ourselves again, the people we were before we had kids. Sometimes that means dedicating a portion of your day to kid-centric activities. Sometimes that means we don’t get to stay late and see Christian’s favorite band. But we still want to share those experiences with our kids, who got to flaunt their spray-painted hair at school the next day like total badasses.
‘Til next year, ACL!
As part of the Netflix Stream Team, each month I share with you what I’m streaming on Netflix. What should I watch next?
It’s not all gloom and doom, I promise! But with Halloween quickly approaching, we’ve dialed up some old favorites, plus a few new ones.
First off, the Netflix series Narcos is fantastic.It’s been a while since we have truly binge-watched a series. The series covers the violent criminal exploits of Columbian drug lord Pablo Escobar and the [fictional, but based on actual] DEA agents who worked their asses off to take Escobar and his cartel down. It’s super violent and filled with fantastic acting and real news coverage footage. And given the amount of boobs in this series, is it too much to ask to get to see Pedro Pascal’s butt more than once? Come on, Netflix.
Anyway, watch it. And don’t do drugs.
Our traditional “airing of the Tim Burton” started rather early this year, sometime in early September, I would say. I admit that I did not see The Nightmare Before Christmas until we decided to watch it with our kids a couple of years ago (for shame!). But I love it! Is it a Halloween movie? A Christmas movie? NO ONE KNOWS. If they take this movie off Netflix, it will be the End of Days in the Torres household.
Along the Halloween theme, my girls have been watching this cute little show called Ruby Gloom. They love the wacky characters (Ruby Gloom, Doom Kitty, Iris, Misery, Skull Boy, Scaredy Bat, and more), and I love the adorable animation. It’s just ridiculously cute and one of the few shows they watch that I don’t mind watching with them, except when Claire insists on rewinding the same parts over and over and over and over again.
It’s not Halloween without Dreamworks Spooky Stories. It’s become as much of a staple in our house as Nutella.
I know! That’s it! We are so lame this month, TV wise. If it makes you feel any better, I’ve been reading a lot?
This parenting thing, man. So much has happened since this summer that has taught me a lot about my kids (and myself). I’m not really sure how to dive into this topic, so I’ll just pour a glass of wine and jump right in.
Some events from this past summer (and prior to that, if I’m being completely honest with myself) left me immensely frustrated. Without getting too terribly specific, we had some eye opening experiences that left us feeling like a) our older two children are not on par with other kids their age, and b) we were complete failures as parents.
Of course neither of those is 100% true. Rachel and Claire are not lagging behind their peers to a detrimental degree, and well, every one of us fails at this parenting thing at one time or another.
When we had our 7 year well check in July (never mind that they turned 7 in March – see above comment about parenting fails), our pediatrician asked if I had any behavioral concerns, and since I’m super discreet in front of my kids, I gave all the wiggly eyebrows and hand signals to designate “MAY WE SPEAK IN PRIVATE PLEASE.”
Honestly, I can’t even remember what particular issues I had wanted to discuss in private. We had had some difficulties with Rachel being a bit explosive at times and showing inability to control her anger. I also feel that she struggles with mild anxiety. For both girls, we’ve struggled with impulsiveness and not necessarily not listening per se, but not really grasping the point of what we were saying, not getting it.
Our pediatrician – with whom I’ve always been able to speak candidly – nodded in understanding and said noncommittally that a few things had crossed her mind as she’s watched the girls grow. ADHD. Asperger’s. And in response to the “shocked but reeeeeaallly trying to look open-minded” look on my face, she went on to explain that if that were the case, it’s likely on the very low end of the spectrum, and many MANY kids go on to lead highly functioning lives.
When I pressed her, she listed off some of the girls’ most obvious (and cringe-worthy) habits: tendency to touch things and people without consideration, inability to control the volume of their voice, asking the same questions over and over, occasional uttering of strange, random sounds.
The thing is, I told her, most of those things I attribute to them being twins. The two of them literally have no boundaries. They’ve been touching almost constantly since conception and are practically inseparable. When it comes to other kids, well…it just doesn’t occur to them that their friends may not react well to constant hugging and random face touching. Our discussions on personal space just haven’t sunk in. And the volume thing? Our house is LOUD. Everyone is always talking over everyone else. Even me. I just know to turn the volume down when having a regular conversation. Sometimes.
And our pediatrician agreed. I love her because she listens to me, and she knows that I know my girls better than anyone else. She admitted that she hadn’t thought of that, and it made sense. At their age and with the evidence presented, she was NOT eager to diagnose them with anything. These were all just things to keep in mind.
We moved to the subject of physical abilities. I had noticed that the girls had trouble with certain feats, mainly balance and core strength. Bikes that I got them at a young age went unridden, as peddling and steering was too much at one time. We went straight to 2-wheel scooters at age 6, and they have been a struggle. Looking back, they had always had a little difficulty climbing, balancing, jumping. Nothing that would keep them from playing on a playground, but things that would keep them from taking chances and learning new things. Difficulty with these activities caused frustration, which caused lack of desire. If it wasn’t easy to pick up, they didn’t want to do it.
It’s possible that a lot of these things wouldn’t have occurred to me if we didn’t have a younger daughter who is extremely physically agile for her age, not to mention determined as hell and a high risk-taker. Her successes only made the big girls’ lack of physical abilities stand out more. All kids develop differently, but they were struggling with things they shouldn’t have been struggling with anymore.
Our doctor suggested occupational therapy (OT). It wouldn’t hurt, she said, to get them evaluated and see if they would benefit. And the therapists could also give them tools to cope with impulsiveness, anxiety, anger, basically all of the emotions that my girls seem to feel to the extreme. I mean, all kids get angry, but we were dealing with some next level shit here.
When I asked if this – the physical shortcomings, the emotional immaturity – were a product of their prematurity, the doctor shrugged. There’s really no way to tell, she said. Lots of preemies end up needing OT, as do plenty of term kids. Rachel and Claire didn’t show any obvious need for early intervention as babies and toddlers. They hit their milestones only slightly behind suggested markers, which was to be expected. Had I realized that their lack of core strength and balance was abnormal, I would’ve mentioned it. Sometimes these things just don’t show up until later, when you (and I mean ME) realize that your kids are struggling a bit.
Now that we’ve started, OT is basically the best thing we have ever done for these kids. Our evaluations showed that they are about 2 years behind on motor skills, balance, and core strength, all things that can affect productivity and attention span. They do strengthening moves and yoga. Rachel’s therapist taught her how to tie her laces, something I had been fearing pretty much since she started wearing shoes. But she got some sweet new Chucks for school, so we needed to figure it out. It’s basically an hour of play for them with someone – most importantly not me – cheering them on.
The most eye-opening takeaway from OT came when Claire’s therapist mentioned, quite candidly, that she is a “sensory seeker.” I’d say Rachel deals with this too, but not to the same degree. And then so many things from the past 7 years all fell into place. The random touching. The grabby hands. The petting of friends’ hair as said friend looks a tad squeamish. She reaches out to touch anything and everything impulsively, without thinking. It doesn’t matter how many times I admonish her or tell her to keep her hands to herself. She just can’t help it. And I started to look at it as something she was having difficulty controlling, as opposed to ME having difficulty controlling HER.
So this is where we are right now. I feel like OT has opened this secret door to Rachel and Claire’s inner workings, allowing me to understand them better. I can’t help but kick myself a little for not seeing these red flags sooner. But the thing is, the flags weren’t really red. When I acknowledged how difficult it was to take my three kids anywhere, I was hearing the exact same lamentations from my twin mom friends. Only after being shown the answers did the questions really start to arise.
I had a long conversation recently with a friend about her experiences with OT (her two children are on the spectrum).
“They taught me how to be a parent,” she admitted, explaining that at one time they had early intervention therapists coming to her house twice daily. “THEY POTTY TRAINED MY SON.”
I missed out on that perk, but the therapists do give me tools to use as a parent to help keep things consistent at home, things that maybe someone born with more parental instincts would already know. But I never claimed to have many of those to begin with.
As difficult as it is to hear that your child has some sort of special needs, it’s also a relief. Because you’re not crazy! And while you left that one event frustrated and near tears, saying, “You know, I just feel like at ages 7, 7, and 5, I should NOT still feel like I am constantly herding cats,” now you understand WHY. And the therapists are helping give you the tools for a better cat-herding experience.
[end cat metaphors]
I’m tired and lethargic (are those the same?) and I kept a kid home who isn’t nearly as sick today as she was last night, so how about some ABCs?
A – Age: 36, for a few more weeks at least.
B – Biggest Fear: Guns. And not because it’s timely and newsy. I’ve always been terrified of them. Seeing one in real life, even not loaded, spikes my blood pressure and anxiety like nothing else.
C – Current time: 8:21am
D – Drink you last had: COFFEE
E – Easiest person to talk to: Christian.
F – Favorite song: Like, right now? It’s a tie between The Emotion by BØRNS, Stay Gold by First Aid Kit, and 10,000 Emerald Pools, also by BØRNS. I’ll sprinkle them through this post.
G – Grossest memory: All of the poop, spit up, and potty training from the baby days all kind of blends together. But I have one.
When Rachel was a baby, Christian was laying on the floor and playing with her, tossing her gently up in the air and catching her. Their faces were perfectly aligned when Rachel produced a slimy stream of spit up, right into Christian’s mouth.
H – Hometown: Dallas, y’all.
I – In love with: My husband. My kids. David Sedaris.
J – Jealous of: People who can sing and dance. I can do neither. Like, I can’t even fake it.
K – Killed someone? Only in my dreams and in that last game of Mortal Kombat I played in 1992.
L – Longest relationship: Romantic? The one I’m in with this guy I call my husband. Otherwise, probably my unabashed love for the Old 97s that dates back to 1996.
M – Middle name: Ann. And let me just go ahead and state the apparently NOT so obvious: no, my name is not Leigh Ann Ann. Yes, it’s happened. More than once.
N – Number of siblings: One.
O – One wish: That my kids grow up to find fulfillment in something they love to do. Kind of like how I feel about napping, but if they can support themselves doing it, even better.
P – Person you last called: The pediatrician. I got a busy signal, so apparently I’m not the only one wondering if her kid has strep. (She doesn’t.)
Q – Question you’re always asked: “Where is ________?” It’s under your bed/in the closet/on the second shelf in the pantry/probably behind something. I’m starting to think I’m the only one who actually lives here.
R – Reason to smile: I’m home snuggling with my sickie 5-year-old today. (Reasons to NOT smile: She keeps coughing on me.)
S – Song you last sang: To stave away bad dreams, I sing a song to Rachel every night that goes like this:
Unhappy thoughts go away
Happy dreams are here to stay.
Rachel struggles with some mild anxiety, and weeks ago she kept insisting that her bed was giving her unhappy thoughts, which she was scared would turn into nightmares. So I offered to take out her unhappy thoughts, kind of like how Dumbledore teaches Harry to siphon out his memories and place them into the Pensieve. I stroke her hair and pretend I’m pulling out the unhappy thoughts, leaving her only with good ones.
T – Time you woke up: Alarm – 5:30; up – 6:00
U – Underwear color: Black with white polka dots.
V – Vacation destination: Oh geez, this is hard. I’d love to go so many places – back to Mexico, to Europe, back to NYC, back to the beach, back to tha hotel. I don’t even care what hotel, as long as they have cable and a breakfast buffet.
W – Worst habit: Procrastination; not making time for myself.
X – X-rays you’ve had: Uh, lemme see. Ankles, knees, ribs, arms. Let’s go with MY ENTIRE BODY.
Y – Your favorite food: I can’t choose. I’m a sucker for a good taco, a good burger, a delicious salad, and sweet potato fries. Also cookies, cupcakes, ice cream, and peanut butter. Not to mention doughnuts and Dr. Pepper and yogurt-covered pretzels. And bacon.
Z – Zodiac sign: Libra. I am the picture of indecision and am easily influenced. But on the positive side, I’m also pretty diplomatic and I’m not exactly what you call cunning. Doormat, I relate to you.
At first glance, a thirty-something, nondescript mother of three from the almost-suburbs of Austin, Texas doesn’t sound like someone that would have easily gotten on Taye Diggs’ radar, but the truth is, I can’t exactly figure out to get OFF of his radar. If you don’t know who Taye Diggs is, he’s an actor who was the eye candy in How Stella Got Her Groove Back, then starred in the original Broadway production of Rent, but was pretty much “you know, that guy!” from several films and TV shows, until he landed a regular gig on Private Practice.
It all started with Twitter. Anyone who’s anyone knows that Taye Diggs has a thing for Mommy Bloggers. And by “anyone,” I mean you probably only know that if you are indeed a Mommy Blogger. I’m not one for labels, but I’ll label myself an Unwanted Facial Hair Blogger if it gets me celebrity followers.
For months and months, my Mommy Blogger friends (I’ll call them MBs) piped up one by one.
“Taye Diggs just followed me on Twitter! Squeeeeee!”
In January, as you can see, I was getting a little jaded. Taye (can I call you Taye?) seemed to be following everyone in blogland but me. What gives, Diggs? And why did I care so much? I mean, don’t tell him, but I’ve never seen Rent, and I stopped watching Private Practice long before it went off the air. But the need to be followed by Taye Diggs was intoxicating, like when everyone you know gets invited to some party, and you’re sitting on pins and needles, awaiting your invitation, even though you don’t really care to go to the party, but you you suddenly can’t stand the thought of not belonging.
(Don’t hate, Taye. I totally care about you.)
Taye eventually caught on and followed me, which made me 0% more conscious about my twitter behavior. I can only sit here now and imagine how much my ridiculous tweets about Netflix and coffee and how badly my children’s feet smell have enriched his Twitter experience.
Even when I’m expecting it, my Fitbit scares the shit out of me every time it buzzes.
— Leigh Ann Torres (@latorres) August 28, 2015
In July I was in NYC for BlogHer, where Taye was performing on Broadway in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. I did NOT see Taye in the Big Apple, but the streets were really crowded, and I’m sure he was only a few people deep behind me. Taye, next time we’ll be saving you a seat for our midnight jaunt to Ray’s Pizza.
Now at BlogHer, there was this photographer who was fantastic. He was everywhere, snapping amazing candid moments of the conference. Bloggers started thanking him on Twitter for the fantastic photos, so I looked him up. His name is Chris Pestel. He went to West Point, which is pretty rad, but guess what?
Yup. Taye Diggs follows him too. Because of course he does.
Moving on. Friday I was excited to see the author announcement for the 2015 Texas Book Festival. Even though the only author event we made it to last year was an over-the-head, 47 people deep shot of Ziggy Marley reading his children’s book, it’s one of my favorite events of the year. I scanned the list of authors and came across local author Kari Anne Holt. She has a new YA book out called House Arrest, but I’ve been reading her blog, Haiku of the Day, for years, although you may have heard of her in this viral (and ridiculous) case.
Anyway, I scrolled down and guess who the Texas Book Festival thinks I may be interested in?
That’s right. Taye Diggs. Taye Diggs has a new children’s book out and will be making an appearance at the Texas Book Festival. Try as I might, I just can’t get away from his Taye-dar.
I thought about hounding some of my friends who are bound to have access to the author tent at the festival. I could confront Taye Diggs and his stalkerish ways, then maybe ask for an autograph and a selfie. Or I can sit back and enjoy the festival and await our imminent run in. Or you can watch for my over-the-head, 47-people-deep photo from his reading.
I have to tell you, I got bummed out today. At Costco.
We entered week two of school with a complete lack of fanfare or disgruntlement or complaining. Rachel and Claire have snapped right back into the routine of eating breakfast, getting dressed, brushing teeth, grabbing lunches and snacks, without me having to follow them around all morning, wagging my finger and whispering sweet nothings into their ears like “TEETH!” or “SHOES” and “No, I don’t believe it’s necessary to change your underwear for a third time this morning.” They get it, and now I can focus most of my energy on drinking my coffee. And then I catch a glimpse of Zoe wearing her nightgown on her head like a wig and say, “Oh yeah, she’s supposed to be getting ready for school too. TEETH! SHOES! DO NOT CHANGE THAT UNDERWEAR AGAIN!”
So she still needs a little guidance. It’s only fair; this routine is pretty new to her.
But other than that, Zoe has taken to kindergarten like a pro. This morning she bounced into her room, arms over her head, and announced her own entrance with a “Ta-daaaaa!” I’m sure her teacher was thrilled.
I’m not sure I’ve taken to it quite so easily. The house is quiet, and when I’m rushing to get work done, I have to keep reminding myself that the next day is not Zoe’s off day. It’ll be quiet like this again tomorrow.
In the weeks before school started, friends and neighbors weighed in on Zoe’s upcoming milestone.
“What are you going to do with all your free time?” they asked, like I had been waiting for this day all my life. Truth is, I have been less waiting for it with baited breath and more anticipating it with a pit in my stomach. My baby, off to kindergarten. My demise has begun. I’ll officially never have kids at home again.
I would laugh nervously and explain that I actually have two part-time, work-from-home jobs that keep me plenty busy. After a summer of juggling kids and work in 30 minute bursts, it will be nice to have uninterrupted blocks of time, but still have the freedom to go to partake in one of life’s simple pleasures: going to Costco alone, during daylight hours.
But therein lies the problem. Daytime at the grocery store is Mom time. Moms with babies, moms with toddlers, moms with preschoolers. All these moms with their little ones make me ache inside, so then I find myself weeping into the pile of 2T pajamas, because when my children were little, Costco was the best place to buy pajamas for three kids without having to dip into my retirement.
For years Zoe and I had days where it was just the two of us. It was quality time I rarely, if ever, got with her sisters, even if she did think Costco, Target, and HEB were the only establishments open in the city of Austin.
She didn’t always want to go, and I didn’t always love taking her places. She’s a talker, and I could only take so much before my end of our conversations deteriorated to, “Mmmmhmmm….Oh really?….Wow……” as she prattled on about this and that.
“Zoe,” I said one day as I carried her through yet another parking lot, probably Target this time, her chattering filling up every inch of my brain space, “Let’s just have some quiet time for like 3 minutes, okay?”
“Okay……..”Mommy, know why the sun is called THE SUN?”
It never worked.
When Rachel and Claire were in kindergarten, they seemed so big to me. I expected them to be able to handle the daily (albeit simple) homework and the chaos of the morning routine times two, even if I could barely handle it myself. Looking at them now, even bigger second graders next to their little sister, I am shocked at how tiny these kindergarteners are. Why couldn’t I see it then?
But here we are. In the afternoons she melts into my arms, worn out from an entire day of learning and walking in line and behaving. It’s a long day for her, but she welcomes the next with the same excitement as the one before.
It’ll probably be a while before I can run errands without getting emotional. For every mom with kids, there’s at least one without, like me. She’s usually in workout clothes and large sunglasses, walking to or from her car quickly, because she isn’t pushing a stroller or holding any little hands across the parking lot. I want to ask her when she made it, when she stopped feeling sentimental about those days home with kids that were so crazy difficult and frustrating and agonizing, but so very worth it.
But I’m afraid she’ll tell me she never did stop.