March

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March

By: Heather Nanni

March, you roar in like a lion and punch me in the gut.

Yours is a month of cruel contradictions.

The sun, it sits low in the sky and glares harshly enough to burn the eyes.

Yet, it does not produce enough heat to thaw those things

     those things so desperately in need of warmth.

The brown, lifeless grass reveals itself through piles of dirt-stained snow

     an elusive promise of new life trapped beneath dead blades.

You rule with false promise and deception.

During your reign, the white mounds of winter

     once burdensome, yet magical

            melt away

     leaving us with the sad, stark truth of what really lies beneath.

Intelligence, Talent and Ability. How Does Our Society Truly Perceive Those with Special Needs?

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We have come a long way in terms of how we view and treat individuals with learning disabilities. We no longer force our dyslexic students to stand up in class and read aloud from the textbook, and we certainly don’t berate them if they are unable to sound out certain words.  Teachers, for the most part, are aware of the discrepancy model.  They know that, for students with disabilities, there is a significant gap between their performance and ability levels; therefore, if a student cannot read at grade level, most teachers are aware that this doesn’t mean that the student lacks intelligence.   Unfortunately, “ability” is commonly measured by a battery of tests, some of which are heavily laden in the verbal realm, so if you have a perfectly intelligent individual who was not exposed to rich language then the scores he or she earn will be likely underestimations of their true abilities.   Most teachers, however, are aware of the imperfections of our means of measuring intelligence and will at least give students with reading difficulties the benefit of the doubt.  If only we would do the same for our other “special needs” students, those with ADD, ADHD, PDD, OCD, ODD, SPD, ASD… Unfortunately, we all too often underestimate individuals who struggle with these issues. Unlike many LD students who are able to conform with the pack, the issues that individuals with attention, spectrum and sensory disorders grapple with are often manifested through quirky, atypical and often “bothersome” behaviors. We often become so focused on these behaviors that we don’t see the whole person and the talents that lie beneath the surface.

Just the other day I was in the company of a couple of women, one of whom was a teacher, talking about a child who used to live in their neighborhood.  When I heard the child’s name, I nearly fell over.  After asking a few questions, we determined the child they were talking about had grown to become the same individual that I taught in one of my college classes the previous year.  I recognized her name because she was one of my favorite students. Yes, she was a bit quirky, but she was also very, very bright.  As a matter of fact, I remember this student helping her classmates interpret one of the novels we were reading in class.  What shocked me was that the teacher participating in this conversation was incredulous when she heard that her former neighbor, clearly a quirky and “atypical” kid, was a star in my classroom.  You know, “being special needs and all.” 

What stuck me as most disturbing about the aforementioned conversation was this idea that “special needs” was somehow synonymous with incapable.  The very idea that the woman I know from my classroom had been pegged as someone who was “not college material” when she was only ten or eleven years old was deeply unsettling.  The fact that some teachers today still have these mindsets about “those special needs kids” makes me question the quality of education “those special needs kids” are given.  It makes me wonder how these children can possibly be invited into the pack with the rest of their “typical” peers if their teachers perceive them as ‘other’ and “less than.” This is not a sweeping statement about all teachers.  I am a teacher myself, many of my family members are teachers and most of my friends are teachers.  When my son, who has some “special needs,” was in school, his teachers were some of the kindest and sensitive individuals I have met, and they were deeply disturbed not by his behaviors, but because he struggled despite the fact that he is so bright. 

The conversation about my former student got me thinking about not only how some teachers perceive our special needs kids, but also how we as a society view those who are a little different, quirky and differently-abled. It also got me thinking how we as parents must protect our children from the misconceptions derived from the “special needs” label. 

When it becomes clear that our children are struggling not only academically but socially as well, we seek a diagnosis.  We are encouraged to get testing.  We want so much to put a halt to whatever it is that makes our children’s lives so much more difficult than the other kids.  We have our children tested.  We seek the help of therapists and specialists.  We read and read and read what the experts have to say. Initially we are uncomfortable with whatever label is placed upon our children.  We may keep it to ourselves to protect our bright and capable kids from being misunderstood and stigmatized. Then we realize that we are doing our children a disservice by keeping this information to ourselves, so, first, we tell our family and friends. Then we tell the school and teacher; then we find ourselves telling people standing in front of us at the grocery store because they are obviously annoyed that our children are speaking too loudly.  We find ourselves throwing this label around at the park in an effort to explain to parents that our children are not screaming and crying because they are misbehaved but because the park is too crowded and chaotic that day and that makes our children uneasy or because, despite their appearance, some of our children have weak muscle tone and keeping up with the other children at the park is frustrating, and some days it’s just too damn difficult.  We use these labels to explain why our children melt down at birthday parties.  Parties are too loud, too scary for our children who have sensory integration issues. Then we start to use our child’s label to not only explain behaviors but also to make ourselves feel better.  My child behaves that way, not because I am  a bad parent, but because she has x, y or z. Sometimes people get it, but sometimes the people you most expect to understand, the ones you count on, don’t.  Personally, I was shocked to find that some of the relationships I had cultivated began to wane once I put the label out there. Even more disconcerting, many hear the label, whatever it may be, and decide that this must mean that our children are not only different, they are also less capable.

What’s most frustrating is once you muster up the courage to voice that label you have been avoiding; once you put it out there; you hear comments like “those special needs kids” or “Oh yeah. Everyone has a label now a days,” as if we just make this stuff up as a means of explaining our kids’ quirkiness. Sometimes we listen to these comments, and we panic.  We think, “What if they are right? What if we are making excuses?”  Sometimes we react by experimenting.  We decide to “ignore” our children’s diagnosis.  We treat them like every other typical kid.  We get frustrated when they get distracted and forget to do what we ask.  We panic when they cannot concentrate on their school assignments and begin to make mistake after mistake after mistake.  And you know what?  Our kids read our panic and frustration.  They understand, and they begin to question themselves, their abilities, their value, their talents. So, yes, having and understanding our children’s diagnosis is good, but we must be aware of how we use it.  All too easily, something intended to help our children turns into something that, when misinterpreted, becomes damaging.   

I guess the broader question is how do we change society’s misconception of individual’s with those particular “special needs” that set them apart behaviorally?  Clearly the answer lies in the example we adults set for our children and the education we provide them at home.  I have witnessed other adults mock the IT guy in the office I once worked at because he was “strange.”  I have seen neighbors shun another neighbor because she is “weird.”  Perhaps we could lead this change by performing positive actions for our children to witness.  There has been a lot of lip service given to being kind, but being kind is more than just not bullying.  Kindness is an act.  You are not kind just because you don’t do something– although it does make us feel good about ourselves when we decide to refrain from making the snarky comment about the “weird” dude at work.  We cannot expect our children to be kind enough and brave enough to invite the loner, the social misfit to join their friends at the table in the cafeteria, unless we set the example.  We need to invite our off beat neighbors to the neighborhood picnic.  We need to chat with the quirky girl at the grocery school.  We need to befriend the odd man out in he workplace because we all know that the office is just a grown up version of the high school cafeteria, with all of its politics, cruelty and misery.  We need to befriend that outlier of the family, the one that everyone likes to gossip about and criticize. By forging friendships with those different from ourselves, with those who perhaps are a bit socially awkward, with those who really need friends, our children will have the courage to do the same. And I am not talking about forging fake, act of mercy, “gee now I feel good about myself” friendships.  I’m talking about true, “damn I really dig this person” friendships. I’m talking about hanging out with someone and truly appreciating who they are and enjoying their company.  Maybe if we do that, then our kids will be less likely to exclude the “special kids,” less likely to roll their eyes when their quirky classmates do or say something a bit out of the box, less likely to conveniently forget to invite them to the party and learn to truly and sincerely appreciate differences in thought and communication and interests.  Through our example, our children can learn not to patronize and take on quirky kids as pet projects but to embrace them as equals-equally intelligent, equally gifted, equally special. 

The most important thing we as parents of those with attention, sensory, spectrum and other disorders can do is to make sure that our children never feel  less than capable, less intelligent.  Never let your children feel less intelligent.  Never allow anyone to believe that they are less intelligent.  Intelligence is the gift our “special needs” kids (and adults) have been given.  Theirs is a beautifully creative intelligence.  They view the world differently than the rest.  Their lens is shaped by great sensitivity, intense emotions and, unfortunately, sufferance.  Our children are the creators, the ones who march to the beat of their hearts, not the collective drumming of a society and education system that does not fully understand. Of course they can go to college and succeed.  Of course they can excel.  Of course they can be fulfilled and happy…if if if and only if, we, their parents, foster their talents, help them to build confidence and develop self-esteem because, yes, they are special, no more special needs than anyone else, but special.  They have been gifted to us their parents and the world, for they see this world differently.  They navigate it in ways which others wouldn’t dream. They see and perceive in ways that others would not find possible.  They are brilliant and no one should ever, ever think otherwise.

Mindful Living: An Oxymoron

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Mindfulness. Lately it seems that I can’t flip through a magazine, listen to the radio, turn on the television or read a parenting blog without reading or listening to yet another person extolling the virtues of mindfulness. So what exactly is mindfulness? According to psychologytoday.com:

Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present.  When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad.  Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening experience.

Sounds fantastic.  Right?  “Living in the moment.”  “Awakening experience!”  Being in a “state of active, open attention on the present!”*  Holy shit, for a chick with OCD, it seems that being able to achieve a state of mindfulness is akin to reaching Nirvana.  I dig it.  I really do. While I now have the whole OCD thing under control (my motto: don’t suffer; see a shrink), two years ago the very idea of thinking about only one thing without insanely invasive thoughts of environmental contaminants and other horrific things invading my mental space would have seemed an utter impossibility.  At the time, the thought of concentrating on anything at all other than obsessive thoughts seemed impossible.  Mindfulness?  Back then? Forget it. Mindfulness now?  Well, I’m not so sure about that either.  As much as I like the idea of it, upon deeper reflection and research, it doesn’t quite seem to fit our lifestyle here in the Nanni house. 

We Nanni’s thrive on an amped up kind of energy.  There isn’t a hell of a lot of stillness and quiet in our home.  There is, however, a lot of vacillating between great sorrow (over things like empty bowls of goldfish and being told it’s time to go to bed) and rage (usually brought on by a fight  over something like who gets to pet the dog first).  Oh, and let’s not forget joy (resulting from both children teaming up and doing something to vex Giorgio and I).  And with all this sorrow, rage and joy comes a great deal of mournful cries, screams of rage and fits of high pitched laughter.  So, hypothetically speaking, if I am trying to make dinner and one child is screaming because he can’t find his favorite show on television, and the other is crying because she finished all her goldfish, and the dog is barking at me to feed her, and the phone is ringing, what am I supposed to be minding?  The dinner?  The kids? The dog?  The phone?  The whole jacked up situation in its entirety?  Perhaps that’s it.  Perhaps achieving mindfulness requires a more holistic approach.  Let’s develop that idea.

Just this afternoon, the Nanni’s were in the car heading to Starbucks.  Giorgio was trying to talk to me about something going on at his job; meanwhile, both children were screaming at us about crazy stuff like how to find the Ariel song on the iphone and how to spell Bastille. Now, please tell me, how am I, a poor, wretched person, supposed to be attentive, focused, mindful during this particular moment?  Here’s what I’ve come up with.  I need to view mindfulness in broader strokes.  At that given moment, I could not possibly attend to just one person or to one thought.   I needed to transcend the situation, the entire chaotic, loud, frustrating situation.  I needed to embrace it for what it was and not judge it.  I was not supposed to chastise myself for my inferior parenting which resulted in children that interrupt and demand attention.  I was not supposed to feel anxious and annoyed.  I was supposed to observe it calmly and breathe.  Okay.  Got it.  I guess. 

And how about this? This Christmas Santa gifted both my children with razor scooters.  Clearly Santa was concerned about the kids not getting enough exercise during these cold and snowy winter months.  He also figured that Giorgio and I are laid back enough to allow the kids to scoot in the house. While this was a good idea in theory, these damned scooters have turned our home into a madhouse. I am constantly being chased down by maniacs on scooters. I now live in fear of having my heel rammed by a scooter. I dodge and weave as I go about my daily business.  Never do I feel safe.  I am always wondering, waiting for the moment when a scooter will make contact with my body. The sound of rumbling tiny wheels on tile echos in my dreams.  I am never free of those damned scooters.  And it’s not just the noise and fear of being hit.  It’s also the sound of my children and their scooters.  It’s hearing the BANG!!! Then silence, silence, wait for it…SCREAM!!! Or, silence, silence, wait for it…”I’m okay mommy!”  How am I to be mindful with that looming fear of an impending scooter disaster.  My mind is constantly occupied with thoughts of those G.D. scooters. 

So, I guess I’ve established that mindful parenting escapes me, but how about plain old generic mindful living. I’m assuming that I’m not the only one who has thoughts tear through her mind in rapid succession.  As long as my thoughts aren’t obsessive or fear-based, I like being this way.  I cram a lot of thought into the sixteen wakeful hours I have a day.  When I was dancing, and, if I am going to be completely honest, even to this day, I cannot listen to beautiful music without choreographing dances in my head (lousy dances, yes, but dances nonetheless).  I cannot fully concentrate on the music itself, so I guess I do not fully enjoy music in its purest form.  I think over it.  I add something to it.  I visualize beautiful dancers moving in harmony with the music.   So, I guess that means I am not mindful of what I am listening to because I am evaluating it and applying it to something else.

How about taking a walk on a cold early spring morning. Is it possible for writers to walk past crocuses poking through the recently thawed ground without simultaneously enjoying the sight and weaving it into their greater narratives?  Aren’t we, as humans, thinkers, writers of our own life stories, supposed to judge, analyze and evaluate as we experience?  How can we just be?  How can we just be mindful?  How can we be so cold and disconnected that we choose when to ignore, when to not feel, when to not judge, when to not experience our most primal emotions?  How can we be flat?  Muted?  I prefer energy and emotion in all its beauty, its bitter sorrow and great, great joy.  I prefer to feel without restraint.  I prefer to react when something is wrong.  I prefer to judge when something is unjust.  I prefer to feel strong emotions, the euphoria that comes with bliss and the regret that comes when I make emotional decisions.  I prefer to be myself.  And I guess I am just too emotional, too wrapped up in all around me, too fucked up to be fully mindful.  And I can live with that.

*From www.psychologytoday.com/basics/mindfulness Mindfulness: Present Moment Awareness

Dreamers-Outside of the Box; Not Out to Lunch

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I am a dreamer.  I have always been.  I have never believed that there are certain pleasures in life that are reserved for certain, special people.  Even as a young child, I had big plans, and now, as a middle aged adult, I still have big plans.  I believe that the treasures this life holds are vast, nearly infinite, and they are mine to be discovered, claimed, lost, cherished, broken and adored. Dreams make this life wonderous. After forty years on this earth, I have not yet allowed maturity, pragmatism and the bitter aftertaste of negative experiences rob me of my childlike musings.  Life has yet to suck the life out of me.  If I didn’t have my dreams, however, I would die inside.

There is so, so much to do in such limited time.  There are creative endeavors to pursue and business plans to hatch.  There are new places to visit and live, yachts to sail, beaches to bask and mountains to ski. This would all seem so much more plausible if I were a wealthy woman, which I am not, but I never allow money to stand in the way of my pursuit of dreams.  I am a reasonably intelligent  and resourceful woman. I can get that which I desire. I usually do.

All of this bravado doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t feel like I sound like a compete lunatic when I share some of my plans. And, gauging from the responses my declarations often elicit, many do think I am a mad cat. “You want to do what?” “You think you can do that?”  “What?” “Huh?”  Well, the answer is-yes.  Yes, I want to do that.  I will do it with my intellect and my talents, my sheer willpower and don’t forget, a healthy dose of joie de vivre. I will do it because I want to feel alive; I want my kids to feel alive and know that life can be extraordinary and magical.  We all know it can be pretty horrible and tedious and pain inducing, so why can’t it also be wonderful?  How about that? 

Don’t worry.  I do realize that dreams cannot be attained without risk. Before I had children, taking risks wasn’t nearly as stress inducing as it is now.  Back in the day, I had no qualms about packing my bags and moving to NYC to become a dancer or quitting a stable job at a state college to open a business with my husband.  Whether I failed or made it, the risks were worth it.  I was alive, moving, changing, growing. 

With children, risk taking is a different business. Risk must be weighed and security can never be sacrificed.  As a parent, you can never be reckless, or, worse yet, completely selfish.  Any pursuit that consumes your time and resources as a parent must benefit all members of the family.  That said, I want my children to take chances, to be brave, to embrace adventure and see what the world has to offer.  As my husband likes to say, there is no value living like a declawed cat, staring out the window and watching life pass by .  I want my children to take risks, take chances and dream.

One of the most simple, yet profound things I have heard came from Russell Wilson, the quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks.  Considering I do not follow football, I am so grateful that I caught this interview. Wilson was discussing how he got to where he was and recalled his father posing this question to him: “Why not you Russ?  Why not you?”  What a phenomenal question to pose to our children, to ourselves!  Why not me?  Why not my children? Why not my family?  Why not dream?  The riches and wonders of the world are not hidden away for an elite few.  For those of us who want, they are there for us to claim.  So if you hear me say that I want to move to Bora Bora, or buy a horse farm or open a restaurant, don’t think me mad.  Why not me?

My heart sings on flights of fancy.  I dream mountains and feel oceans and live.

Help! I’m Stuck In Survival Mode!

My Arch Nemesis...The Laundry Hamper

My Arch Nemesis…The Laundry Hamper

The other day a very wise person told me that I am in “survival mode.” I found her statement incredibly enlightening because it is true; I am in survival mode. Survival mode in and of itself is not a terrible place to be.  I mean it’ s not as if I’m in Holy Shit! My Life is Crumbling to Pieces Right in Front of My Eyes mode.  I’ve been there before, so I would recognize that awful place.  Nope.  Thankfully I am not there. When you’re in that place, you feel like you’re a peasant from  the Dark Ages, living in a cruck house, suffering from scurvy and lice and just waiting for the Dear Lord, a neighboring warlord or the bubonic plague to take you out of your misery.   I am also not in Wow! Life is Really Freaking Great mode either.  No.  Not there, unfortunately. Survival mode should more accurately be called Just Barely Keeping My Head Above Water, But, Somehow I’m Managing mode, but that is far too long to either say or type over and over again, so survival mode it is. 

When you are in survival mode, you are still able to experience happiness.  You are still able to hold onto your hopes and dreams.  The problem is that when you are in survival mode, you are only able, in fact, you are often barely able, to make it through your day.  You have your hopes and dreams and plans, but you are unable to see any of them through because you are too busy, well, surviving.  I am too busy muddling through my daily life. Sometimes I don’t even do a very good job with those things that other mothers and homemakers seem to do with ease.

My children create messes faster than I can clean them, and, yes, they are responsible with cleaning up after themselves, but they can’t even keep up with the disasters they create.  I feel like I spend my days caught in the aftermath of a hurricane (this hurricane being a perfect scenario where two storms-Storm Jack and Storm Allegra- converge to create optimal devastation).  Meanwhile, I’m being chased by two tornadoes, whipping around and tossing shit all over the place.  It doesn’t help that Jack, due to some visual perception issues, tends to dump things out in order to find anything.  He doesn’t calmly sift through a drawer of clothes or a bin of toys to find a desired item.  No. In order to locate an item, he dumps everything out and spreads it all over the floor until desired item is found.  I have to say, there’s nothing like the sweet sound of an entire bin of Playmobile figures being dumped all over the floor. 

Never mind the kids, I can’t keep up with a laundry pile that has morphed into something like the blob from the 1958 horror sci/fi movie. Before, I can make a dent in the damned thing it grows and expands, dirty clothes oozing out of the hamper and onto to the floor, spreading faster than any human can possibly manage to keep up with.  Oh, and the dishes.  I can wash dishes for hours, only turn around and find that more dirty dishes have magically appeared in the sink .Add to the dumped bins and spills and laundry and dishes the fact that I am homeschooling my son and attempting to teach two college courses.  Now it’s only the beginning of the semester. Just wait until my students start submitting term papers and research projects.  Also add that I seldom say “no” when the kids ask me to play and never say “no” when they ask me to read to them.  Another point that I have to add is that my husband is a chef and pretty much always at work. 

So what does this all add up to?  One frazzled, wreck of a woman who’s stuck in survival mode. Like I said, I still dream of doing really fabulous things with my family and for myself.  I plan to uuber organize my home Montessori style.  I plan to decorate our home in a lovely fashion.  I plan to read the thousands of books I have piled next to my bed. I plan to take my children to beautiful and exotic places. I just don’t know when or how I’ll do all these things.  When will I stop just surviving?  When will I stop throwing myself down on my bed at the end of the day and saying, “Holy Shit!  What the hell just happened?”

I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. You don’t have to be a parent to be in this place.  You can be stuck in survival mode at work, in your relationships, in your own unique life.  Again, it’s not that bad.  We are alive.  We are so lucky compared to those who are in true survival mode, as in those struggling to literally survive without clean water, food, money or their health.  Again, what we are doing is really just barely keeping our heads above water, yet we’re managing.  And we should be grateful to be managing.  That said, as humans, we have the capacity for so much more.  If we didn’t, why would we dream?  We want our lives to be extraordinary.  We want the lives of our children and those we love to be extraordinary.  And they can be.  The question is “how?”  What changes can we make?  What improvements can we make in our own lives in order to enable ourselves to fully enjoy all the extraordinary things that are waiting for us.  I am an eternal optimist.  I will figure this out.  How about you?  Any ideas?

Goth Girls Hosting Superbowl Parties, Chinese New Year, Peyton Place and Other Random Stuff

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Oh blog , how I have missed thee. The last couple of weeks have been long and busy. I did make one lame attempt at a blog post, and I was angry, so it was angry.   It was angry, angry, oh so angry. To have posted it would have been an act of sheer lunacy.  Instead, I have saved it, which I find rather titillating.  With one click of a key I can send my deepest, darkest thoughts out into blogosphere for all to read.  I can send words I will most certainly…well, let’s not get carried away here.  I will rephrase.  I can send words that I might, perhaps someday wish that I could take back.  It’s all so dangerous and exciting that I’m getting hot and bothered.  No let me rephrase…again. The thought of posting it is mildly exciting because it may elicit a mildly negative emotional response from very few readers.  Bottom line, the night I wrote it I was so very tired, and, instead of going to bed like a normal, responsible person, I had the genius idea to stay up very, very late and blog. I wrote and wrote for hours.  It was epic.  Thankfully, something told me that I should just run the whole thing by Giorgio before hitting publish. Upon hearing what I wrote, my dear, darling, ever supportive husband suggested that perhaps, just this once, I sleep on it before I post.  So I did.  I went to bed like I should have done in the first place, rather than wasting hours pounding out some mildly antagonistic blog. I slept one of those amazingly unsatisfying sleeps where you drop on the bed, as if you just dropped dead, and wake up in the same position as you landed the night before.  When I awoke the next morning, I no longer felt angry, and I decided to save my jive post for a later date. To sum it all up, I delved into the dark recesses of my demented brain.  No, that doesn’t sound quite right. Let me rephrase…again.   I thought some moderately negative thoughts, wrote them down, didn’t feel good about it and decided to put them on the back-burner and focus on lighter matters. In an attempt to purge myself of any residual negativity, I have decided to rundown the silly, awkward and ironic situations I found myself in this week.  So here goes:

Chinese New Year at School: We are in the process of selecting a school for Allegra for next year.  Last week Giorgio and I went to visit one school for the second time.  I really like this place and, wanting to present myself in a somewhat respectable manner, took great care to look my best.   I donned my favorite Chinese inspired jacket, which Giorgio HATES, but I love. Giorgio, who has become a caricature of himself, wore his chef uniform.  He did have to run to work after our visit, but I also suspect that he’s morphing into a kind of chefinator, always in uniform and ready to whip up a souffle on a moment’s notice. Then, we headed out the door. 

Once we arrived at the school and made our way inside, Giorgio, chef-in-uniform, began speaking with a school administrator.  Although I was chatting with an instructor at the time, I distinctly recall hearing him speaking metaphorically and comparing the inflexibility of the current education system to the policies of most chinese restaurants which do not allow simple changes or substitutions to be made to menu items. Hmmmm.

Then we observed classes and spoke to a few teachers.  One of my favorite instructors at the school actually complimented my jacket and noted that it was very festive.  You know, with the Chinese New Year and all, which the preschool happened to be celebrating when we made our way past their classroom.  It was a bit later that I was struck by how ridiculous the two of us must have looked…showing up at a school wearing a Chinese jacket, weaving Chinese food metaphors into our dialogue, all the while one of the classes is holding its Chinese New Year celebration*.  If we don’t get our shit together and stop sabotaging our child, she won’t be accepted anywhere. 

* I do have to add that, in fairness to Giorgio and myself, we really weren’t aware that it was the Chinese New Year.

Superbowl Party at the Aging Goth Chick’s Place:  Let me preface this by stating that I am not gothic.  As a matter of fact, I get the heebie jeebies very easily and can handle absolutely nothing that deals with the supernatural, vampires, witches, witchcraft, the occult, animal sacrifice, human sacrifice, spooky castles set atop cliffs, coffins, fog, medieval crucifixes, incense, velvet, the color burgundy, burgundy velvet …you get the point.  I do however like to wear black.  Of course, on special occasions, like visiting my child’s potential future school, I sometimes offset the black with cool Asian jackets or sparkly costume jewelry. Other than that, black is pretty much the only “color” I wear in the fall, winter and spring (in the summer I usually pull out some hot pink and bright yellow). Also, I do have a sort of severe look  and I have been questioned by my son’s former teacher if we were a goth family (because, as you know, goth families tend to send their children to parochial schools)…

I really need to dedicate an entire post to this topic, so I’ll give you the abridged version.  Jack was in kindergarten.  Due to sensory issues, he would only color in black.  He also told the teacher that we lost our pet snake in our house.  Here again, I am petrified of snakes.  I can’t look at them, think about them, hear their creepy hisssssssssses.  But, Jack decided to tell the teacher that we had one as a pet, or we did until we lost it.  So putting it all together-child drawing in black, mother wearing black, pet snake-she thought that, perhaps, we were goth.

Now where was I?  Oh yes. I am not goth. I just took some liberties to make the title more interesting.  Anyway, I also don’t look much like the stereotypical gal who gets all worked out about the Superbowl much less hosts a Superbowl party.  In truth, I can care less about the game itself, but I do host a Superbowl party. You see, as child, I always felt left out on Superbowl Sunday.  I believed that everyone else in the entire world was sitting in their living rooms eating cheesy nachos and drinking Cokes.  Although I had no interest in the game, I did like the idea of the holiday that Superbowl Sunday had become.  So every year we have a very small Superbowl party with the kids, my parents, my brother Sean and my sister-in-law Jen.  We make tons of junk food and, some watch the game. Meanwhile, the kids disturb everyone by making  too much noise which is completely unrelated to game viewing, and Jen and I suck down martinis (although this year we tried margaritas which were fabulous and will most likely be replayed next year).  It’s a great time. Even Ginger enjoyed her first Superbowl party and had a Manwich for dinner.

So this year, a couple of hours before the game, I found myself in the grocery picking up our party food and a couple of Superbowl balloons for the kids. The store was PACKED and people were crazed.  Seriously people, if we’re going to treat the Superbowl like it’s a holiday then we need to shop like it’s a holiday and get it done by the day before at least. But I digress.  Back to the story. I foolishly decided to pick up the kids balloons first.  Have you ever tried shopping with balloons tied to your cart?  It’s just ridiculous.  You look ridiculous.  You annoy everyone because you either smack them with your balloons or you bang into them because the balloons obstruct your view.  So that was me, banging into people, smacking them with my balloons and “I’m sorrying” everyone to death.  It was so obvious what I was up to, cart loaded with chips and soda, Superbowl balloons…  At some point I began to feel pretty foolish.  I must have looked pretty stupid, dressed in faux leather skin-tight pants, as usual,  and a faux feather top, racing around, balloons smacking my face.  It didn’t help that I had to endure the sneers of a few hipster types.  Hey, hold up a minute.  What were they doing with nachos in their cart?  Going home to watch Daniel Day Lewis in the Unbearable Lightness of Being?  I don’t think so.  Such a movie would require cigarettes and perhaps some humus and wheat crackers, not Doritos.  That’s right. On Superbowl Sunday everyone (well, a lot of people), even aging “goth” chicks want to eat nachos and pretend that we belong to something greater than just ourselves.  Now that I’ve put it into words, I don’t feel so foolish.  Grant it, I may have looked foolish, but that’s not really very important. Is it?

Peyton Place: A couple of nights ago, Giorgio suggested that we watch the movie Peyton Place.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Giorgio wanted to watch Peyton Place.  And we did.  And it was pretty bad.  All that potential for greatness, flushed down the toilet along with a boatload of melodrama and probably one of the stupidest monologues ever delivered in cinematic history (perhaps an overstatement, but you get my point).  It wasn’t until the next day that I realized what an unusual dude my husband is and texted him the following, “U r a very strange person.  What kind of 43 yr old man stays up until 2 in the morning watching Peyton Place?”  Really. Recently, did any of your spouse’s suggest that you watch Peyton Place?  Of course the two of us fall asleep watching reruns of Columbo (yes we have the box set) almost every night, so what do you expect? 

That’s it folks.  Another week gone and the following lessons learned: don’t publish angry blog posts; don’t wear costumes to you child’s potential future school and don’t waste your time watching Peyton Place.  Oh, and, yes, aging goth chicks do in fact host Superbowl parties.  Peace.

German Cabaret Artists, Cleansing, Pork Fat and Tweak the Bunny…a Week’s Worth of Conversation

Poor lamb. We found her wandering the streets of Stuttgart.

Poor lamb. We found her wandering the streets of Stuttgart.

This is Heather Nanni, taking a break from her role as Tweak the Bunny to bring you this post.  That’s right; I’m Heather, not Tweak Bunny or Dashi Dog or Captain Barnacles the Polar Bear or any other member of the Octonauts.  Problem is, throughout the day, Allegra insists that I assume the role of any number of these characters. As a matter of fact, this evening, as I played Octonauts with Allegra as she took a bath, she informed me that she was “not impwessed” with how I was playing the game and gave me notes for improving my performance as Kwazi Cat. Being that I soon have to return to work (I know. I know.  I only teach two nights a week, but there is a lot of planning and correcting at home-I swear), I am trying to give the kids as much playtime as possible.  Unfortunately, all of this role playing is making me feel a bit schizophrenic, so for the moment, I’m happy to be just plain old weird Heather, writing her weird blog.  I’ve been so looking forward to writing this week, and I’ve tossed around a lot of ideas.  I have also been feeling rather grouchy and peevish, so I thought I would write some snarky, petulant blog about something that’s been annoying me as a way of alleviating some of my general negativity. .  And I reject that!  I want to giggle.  So after some careful deliberation, I have decided  against wading over into the dark side, to ignore its enticements,to forgo dark, brooding, smart ass ramblings in favor of recounting the ridiculous thoughts and conversations I had this week, which may very well only be funny to me, so don’t feel guilt by shutting this down; thus, shutting me up. For those maniacs who wish to stick around, here goes…

In search of lighter, happier material, I reflected upon this past week and to my surprise recalled some rather silly conversations.  There was the one I had with another student’s mother at the dance studio about cleansing. She’s a lovely lady and five days into a cleanse, eating only the healthiest of foods, drinking lots of water… At some point during our conversation, I realized that I did not have the willpower to omit all  dietary pleasures and confessed that I lacked both the discipline and desire to give up martini’s and pork fat.  My admission that the previous night, when cutting my children’s meat, I removed the fat from their chops and ate it for dinner elicited a laugh.  Then there was the conversation I had with the owner of the stables where my son takes riding lessons.  He confessed his beer habit and surveyed all present on their poison.  Of course mine is vodka.  Unfortunately when he asked me my vodka of choice, I found myself recounting the sad tale of how my husband and I started out drinking Grey Goose, but how after our first child we had to downgrade to Skyy and how we now find ourselves drinking Majorska.  I then made myself feel better by stating, “It’s not that bad.  At least it comes in a glass bottle.”  I got some pity laughs for that one.  But the very best and funniest of the week came from my husband.

 On Monday Giorgio tried on a new black v-neck sweater, looked at himself in the mirror and matter of factly informed me that  he looked  like a “cabaret artist from Stuttgart.” What?  On what planet would a cabaret artist from Stuttgart be the first thing to come to mind??  Granted, Giorgio did live in Stuttgart many, many years ago, but cabaret artist?  Why not singer or dancer, or performer even?  There’s just something about his use of the term artist that tickled me. I mean he had me thinking Berlin, the world on the brink of war, a tawdry, smoke filled club and a show being emceed by some sexually ambiguous emaciated person with a pale face and dark red lips sinisterly grinning at a pseudo-grotesque, featureless audience, all faces obscured by smoke and shadows. And he delivered it with such nonchalance that you would assume that German cabaret artist  is a typical reference for those of us who reside on the east coast of the United States. 

Upon further reflection, I think, perhaps, despite his adamant denial, my darling husband kind of digs the whole cabaret thing.  It’s got me thinking.  In the very infancy of our courtship I did sport a jet black, super short, Liza Minnelliesque pixie cut.  I also had a penchant for wearing bright red lipstick and fishnet stockings. And at some point during that time I had Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin Stories on my nightstand. Hmmmm.. 

 Anyway, Giorgio’s description  of himself as a German cabaret artist struck me as so weird and out of place and hysterical that I had to immediately call my brother Sean Crose, another daft kat with an offbeat sense of humour and love of the absurd.  Clearly, my brother and I managed to make our way out of the same gene pool, gasping for air and full of neurosis and weirdness.  When the two of us emerged from the womb, the doctors probably had to beat the shit out of us, not to help us take our first breathes but to get us to snap the fuck out of our first baby panic attacks.  While we nearly killed each other during adolescence, we became the best of friends in early adulthood.  When we weren’t running around the city getting plastered in dive bars, we spent countless hours watching and quoting Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Plan Nine from Outer Space and anything from Mystery Science Theater, Giant Spider Invasion being one of our personal favorites.  So I just knew that he would fully appreciate Giorgio’s referring to himself as a cabaret artist from Stuttgart.  And my brother didn’t disappoint.  He gave me the much desired belly laugh that I had hoped for, and then we got to talking.  We talked about Germany and World War II and Mussolini and Giorgio’s parents who grew up in Italy during the war.  We got to talking about Giorgio’s mother and how she possess a style and sophistication that reminds me of Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita (In addition to being beautiful, she’s a great person). We talked about Giorgio’s dad and how it’s a flipping shame that he was taken from this world too soon and how he was just one of those special people whose very presence made you feel good. Then somehow we moved back to talk about the executions of Mussolini and Clara Petacci and back to Hitler and his stupid mustache, which got us to talking about mustaches and mustache style and handlebar mustaches. We talked about how handlebar mustaches are all the rage with those damn young hipsters, which got my brother going on how ridiculous he would look with such a mustache and how he would bear a closer resemblance to our great, great grandfather who came through Elis Island after emigrating from Ireland than a young James Franco wannabe.  And this talk of the handlebar mustaches brought the conversation full circle and back to Giorgio, who, likely inspired by Kurt Russell in Tombstone, once grew handlebar mustache himself because he really is more cowboy than cabaret artist.  He’s an Italian who as a young boy developed a great love for America. He overdosed on spaghetti westerns and, in a music store in Rome,  discovered Alabama’s Mountain Music which began his love affair with country music.  When he met me, a Norwegian techno music loving east coast girl, he introduced me to country music, which I’ve grown to dig. 

So that’s it.  The story of how a silly remark led to a much needed laugh and a great conversation about evil villains and beautiful people and how a great conversation led to a flood of good memories and my personal conclusion that my husband is one awesome and strange dude.

Killing the Arts with their Nonsense

Painted by my grandmother, Margureite Dunne

Painted by my grandmother, Margureite Dunne

As an unhappy teenager, I immersed myself in dance and theater.  The arts enabled me to paradoxically exist and disappear, which worked out well for a kid who felt invisible and, despite the desire to exist and be acknowledged, felt too insecure and uncomfortable to be noticed.  The arts also allowed me the freedom to live in a universe that ran parallel to a reality that, to my young self, was dark and sad. They gave me a voice when I was too shy and self-conscious to speak. They allowed me to holler without a sound and magically create beauty out of ugliness.

Thankfully, I was granted a modest degree of  talent and was able to pursue modern dance as a profession.  As I grew into adulthood, dancing became my drug, better than martinis or sex or cigarettes; although, I must admit, I derived great and perverse pleasure when I emerged damp and tired from the rehearsal studio, ventured out  into the cold New York City night and lit up.  There was just nothing that compared to the sensation of inhaling smoke and cold air into lungs freshly opened from intense physical activity. Ahhhhh..anyways..I am also happy to report that with age came greater happiness, and, when dancing, I achieved moments of pure joy.

Despite the wonderous moments, an artist’s life can be a difficult, dirty and weird one as well.  There were years when I lived like a subterranean rodent and shared my residents with rats and other vermin.  I lived in dangerous neighborhoods in Inwood and the lower east side.  I risked my life getting off the subway in the wee hours of he morning to schlep through the bowels of the city on my way home from working some shitty job to support my dancer’s existence. Thank God dancers don’t eat  because I would have been in trouble if I had to buy food, and I was certainly unwilling to abandon my beloved cigarettes. I love to smoke, and, although it’s been twelve years since my last puff (with the exception of the occasional cigar), I still miss it.

Eventually, I had to give up my artist’s life.  I simply would never make a living as a dancer and with the stress of not having money, health insurance or a safe place to live, I decided it was time to move on.  The thing is, I have never given up my love of the arts.  The other night I sat with Allegra and introduced her to the New York City Ballet.  We watched excerpts from Balanchine’s Jewels and the dancing was exquisite. We watched another YouTube video which included an interview with Peter Martins, New York City Ballet’s Artistic Director.  He spoke of the importance of the orchestra and the musicality of NYCB  dancers and explained how Balanchine’s choreography was about the music. I know the dancer’s love of music.  I understand how the low sad strains of a cello can flood you with tears and how the glorious notes of the violin as it makes its way up the scale can cause your heart to burn.  I guess that is why I always found over intellectualized modern dance numbers executed in silence to be obnoxious.

Even more bizarre to me than some of the avant garde modern dance pieces I have seen are some of the dance numbers I witnessed at the talent show of my son’s former parochial school. I guess I should preface this by stating that I simply don’t get what so many of the local dance studios are teaching the kids.  I do know that the parents are constantly buying bedazzled costumes for dance competitions.  How is it possible that dance competitions for six years olds even exist?  I mean, how can these studios possibly be instilling a love of the art form when the focus is competition?  I am confused. Are we talking about cheerleading or dancing?  What about the abstract expression of emotion?  What about developing a deep understanding and appreciation of the music?  Well…  at the aforementioned talent show many young students from the local competition dance academies performed, and I was appalled.  There was no artistry, no musicality, no technique.  There were, however, ridiculous movements set to songs with inappropriate lyrics.  What they are teaching children in these studios is not art, it is bedazzled suburban bullshit, or burbshit if you will. Dance studios are businesses, and they thrive in the burbs where parents are all too willing to enroll their children in whatever they think everyone else’s kids are doing.   In the burbs parents pay boatloads of money on lessons and clubs and teams, not necessarily because their children express an interest in these things but because they feel they should be doing these things.   I cannot help but question what these parents will say in ten or twelve years if their children express an interest in pursuing dance on a professional level.  Will they support their children entering the artist community or will they frown upon it and encourage their kids to enter more stable (ha!)  fields like finance, business and law? If they do encourage their children to pursue their dreams, then why not start them off in a reputable institution that respects the art form.  AND if they would never stand for their children becoming artists,  why expose them to it at all, especially on such a base level?  I guess the answer to that is that it’s just what suburban kids do and also perhaps a broad range of extracurriculars looks good on the college application.  Great.  Way to suck the soul out of the art form.

Speaking of sucking the soul out of the art, I also had a deeply disturbing experience at a local music studio.  Last year I enrolled Jack, then seven, in drum lessons.  I love drumming (listening, not playing) and Jack loves music, so we were both very excited to start.  As I have mentioned before, my Jack has some special needs, and, at the time, Jack was enrolled in school. For him, each day was more painful than the next, everyday bringing with it a new failure and additional blow to his already fragile self-esteem.  We enrolled him in music class to bring a bit of joy into his difficult week.  It was supposed to be fun and stress free.  And the first class was great.  His teacher had him tap along on his drum pad while he played Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” When class was over, Jack was pumped and eager to return the following week.  It was during the second class that things took a turn for the worse.  I observed from the window, so I know exactly when everything went south, which was when the instructor attempted to teach Jack how to read the notes.  Now Jack has attention issues, so what do you think he did after already having a long, hard day at school?  He zoned out. He quietly zoned out.  After class I was politely informed by his instructor that there was nothing more he could do with Jack and that I should buy him a play drum set.  Come again?! Dude, you’re a drumming teacher.  Your student is seven years old.  Why don’t you just ask him what kind of music he likes and let him follow along as you play?  Why don’t you just talk about music?  Why don’t you just let him play on the drum and you help him learn through discovery?  Why don’t you care?  Why don’t you give a fuck?  He’s a quirky kid, probably going to be some kind of artist.  He’s a bright kid.  He’s an interesting and passionate kid.  Why can’t you just show the slightest bit of interest?  Oh that’s right.  You work at the suburban music factory where all the “normal” kids of the world are sent to follow your curriculum and where the parents check to make sure that their current seven year olds and future masters of the universe learn to read as well as robotically play music.  Again-burbshit. What the hell would these people do with a true maniac artist?  Where would  Gelsey Kirkland or Van Gogh or Miles Davis or Foster Wallace or…stand in their esteem?

So, my advice to parents who want to instill a true love of the arts in their children is to first teach them yourself.  Listen to classical masterpieces, watch theater and dance productions, read great literature and talk about it, the nuances, the meaning, the underlying emotions.  Seek art in life, in it’s joy and grief.  Look at frozen ponds and enjoy the splendor of the ice sparkling like crystal in the sun.  Sit at the beach on a dark, gray day and seek the inspiration that Turner and Winslow Homer found.  Stand in your backyard on a cold winter morning and enjoy the silence and peace that only a winter morning can bring.  Find art in life, then find true lovers of art to teach your children.  Ignore bells and whistles and promises of sparkly polyester costumes and dance competition glory.  Look for passion,experience and sincerity, and, when you find that, you will find worthy mentors for your children.  And in supporting true artists, we save art.

The Domestically Challenged Homemaker’s Holiday Aftermath

I think this picture just about says it all.

photo.JPG Tree 2

That’s right.  That’s our Christmas tree–this afternoon, not Christmas Eve or Christmas Day or yesterday for that matter. Let me say that everyday, well maybe every other day, we religiously filled the stand with fresh water. I did notice a couple of days after Christmas there appeared to be an overabundance of needles on the floor, but nothing too out of the ordinary. Last night, however, when I accidentally bumped into our tree, I was shocked when it actually rained needles. Although I hate taking down the tree on New Year’s Day (why make the end of Christmas week any sadder?), it had to come down today…obviously.  So what happened when I began to pull off the ornaments? Well it was like the scene in A Charlie Brown Christmas when all the needles fall off his tree when he attempts to decorate it.  I never thought that could really happen.  Of course I know that needles fall from dry pine trees, but nearly all of them??? That was just nuts.

I can’t help but ponder what our neighbors will think of us, especially once they see the naked skeleton of a  tree lying there at the end of our driveway waiting for the refuse department to pick it up.  I mean we must already seem pretty odd.  For starters,  the lights are on in our house until all ungodly hours.  Of course Giorgio returns from work very late at night and I wait up for him, then I write or read and before you know it it’s almost morning, but the neighbors certainly don’t know what’s going on over here.  Another thing is that we homeschool Jack, but, again, the neighbors don’t know that.  For all they know, we simply don’t send our kid to school.  Oh yeah, I recently realized that our blinds our quite thin, so if the lights are on inside, you can actually  see our images from the outside. The problem is that we dance a lot.  We do the Charleston, the robot, a little bit of Fosse-esque broadway, Graham style modern, hip-hop, tap…. You name it, we do it, perhaps not well, but we do it anyway.  Too bad we weren’t aware that the neighbors can see us.  So add to all of this the needless Christmas tree and we can appear weirder than we actually are. Oh well.

So here’s another picture of what happens in our house after the holidays.

photo.JPG Oven

I realize the image isn’t super clear, so I’ll explain. That’s smoke billowing out of our oven.  We had our family over for champagne and a turkey dinner to celebrate the New Year but we smoked the shit out of our house before they arrived.  Of course the smoke is the result of droppings from Christmas Eve dinner which landed and were left on the bottom of our oven. As for inviting everyone to dinner, we figuered “Hell, why not have the clan over for a gander at our needless Christmas tree?  It’s not everyday you get to see one of those.”

Here’s another.

IMG_20140101_144209.jpg porch

Yep. This week we set up our backyard skating rink.  Unfortunately, we had a little leak.  No worries.  I am certain the rink will be up and running within the next day or two.

So there you have it.  The aftermath of our Christmas holiday.  Good job Nanni Family.  Here’s to another stellar year!!!

P.S. I just had to add another shot Giorgio took this morning (it’s now the day afer New Years).  Behold…Needless tree awaiting collection! I should feel a little embarrassed by this; don’t you think?  The worst part-it won’t be picked up until the 15th!!!  Until that time, it will sit at the end of our driveway, a stark reminder of..ummmmm…of…. Oh hell, I don’t know.  Anyway, enjoy a laugh at the expense of our poor, sad, dry, needless tree.

photo.JPGTreeforpickup

The Domestically Challenged Homemaker’s Christmas Recap

photo.JPG Christmas

Merry Christmas! How was your holiday?  Oh, I am so happy that you had a great time.  How was my holiday you ask?  Well…ummm… Do you want the “correct” answer or the honest one? If you want to know the truth, my Christmas was 45% life is a bowl of peppermint sticks and elves shit mocha and 55% holy crap, can this get any worse? 

As a domestically challenged homemaker, Christmas presents many hurdles.  I never feel that I have it all together and during Christmas, whatever I did manage to get together falls apart.  What makes Christmas extra difficult is the barrage of pictures of perfect families enjoying traditional Christmas pastimes that we all receive.  They serve as a constant reminder of my own inadequacies. You know what I’m talking about, those Christmas cards and Facebook shots of angelic children baking cookies, decorating Christmas trees, sitting on Santa’s lap and their moms and dads posting things like “a perfect Christmas moment” and “Cards are out. Tree is decorated. Just one more batch to add to my already 108 perfect batches of Christmas cookies and we’re ready for Santa.” I have to admit that I have plenty of beautiful pictures of my kids doing adorably Christmassy things. But for each smiling shot I have about three other shots of a crying child. I don’t know about you, but all those Facebook posts and Christmas cards just serve to magnify my already glaring shortcomings. My messy home and crying child stand in stark contrast to the images of smiling faces  and perfect houses I see everywhere. And you know what really sucks? I try really, really hard to have everything in order and happy for Christmas. I guess this homemaking thing is just not my bag.

That said, each year the Nanni’s host Christmas Eve, and we always manage to pull it off in the nick of time, despite the fact that Giorgio works that afternoon and usually doesn’t arrive home until around 5:00 or 6:00.  This year, however, was exceptionally chaotic.  Let me just say that at 4:30 pm Christmas Eve I raced into the neighborhood liquor store to pick up the ingredients we needed to create the snowball martinis that were going to dazzle our guests with that evening. As I stepped into the store and said hello to my buddy behind the counter, I began to giggle. Not a happy giggle. The other kind. The nervous one that I can’t control. And as I was giggling I asked “Do you think I can get home, clean my house, have the kids gifts wrapped and be ready for guests to arrive by 6:30?” The problem is that as I was giggling, my eyes began to well up. Shit. I could feel the tears coming, and I knew. I knew that any second I would begin the simultaneous laugh and cry. Now that is a very poor indication of my mental well being and it only happens during the most high stress situations. Somehow, someway, I swallowed the tears, but continued to giggle. My friend assured me that I would in fact make it and what I needed was a cocktail…or ten. Ironically, given my aversion to Christmas Facebook posts (I really have a love hate relationship with FB) and my limited time, as soon as I pulled into my driveway and before I entered the house, I was compelled to post the following on FB:

I’m in the weeds!!! Okay, can’t have a heart attack on Christmas eve.  That would really suck for the kids.  I’ll make it.  Right??? Wait, Christmas shouldn’t be like this.  LOL (perhaps though I should be crying).

Why ever did I post that?  I don’t know.  Perhaps it was cathartic.  Perhaps I wanted support.  Perhaps I wanted someone else to say, “yep, I’m in shit too.”  I don’t know. I do know that a few kindhearted people actually responded with assurances that all would be well, and those comments helped. The big question, however, is how does one find herself in such a state on Christmas eve?

There are three factors the contributed to my Christmas chaos.  One, I teach college English, which means that during December I am swamped with portfolios to grade and final grades to be submitted, Two, my husband is a chef and December is the busiest time of year, so he practically lives at work during the Christmas season.  Three, my son has sensory issues.  If you are familiar with SPD, you know how Christmas can be very trying for anyone who struggles with it.  This year these three factors converged to create the perfect holiday storm.  Oh yeah, I forgot to add the fourth and most obvious factor which you already know…I am clinically diagnosed as being domestically challenged. 

So this is how Christmas played out.  Giorgio was supposed to arrive home at 5:00 Christmas Eve but didn’t walk into the door until 6:45.  Thank God I had the wherewithal to call the guests and ask them to come at 7 instead of 6:30.  We pulled it together.  The evening was fun.  We laughed, ate, drank.  Good times.  The guests departed at 11:30 and Giorgio and I cleaned until 12:00. I managed to get my little one to sleep, but my son has sleep issues and didn’t fall asleep until around 2:00 am at which time my husband and I proceeded to wrap gifts for three hours.  At 5:00 we made our way to bed.  Unfortunately, we managed to wake our son up on our way, and he never went back to sleep.  Needless to say, Giorgio and I didn’t sleep at all.  With everyone, aside from Allegra, suffering from extreme sleep deprivation, Christmas day, without boring you with the details, was challenging.  Before I passed out that night I surfed the internet for blogs on special needs children and the challenges Christmas presents.  I just didn’t want to feel alone.  I wanted some confirmation that it wasn’t just my lack of domestic homemaking prowessphoto.JPG Christmas that led to our less than blissful holiday. And you know what?  I did find some comforting stories shared by parents who are far more generous with sharing information than I am.  For that I was very grateful.  And, on a truly positive note, Allegra had a great time for herself.  She enjoyed all the preparations leading up to the big day (cookie baking, gingerbread house making, Nutcracker Suite watching, tree decorating and Santa visiting)  and Christmas day itself. 

So will this domestically challenged wretch of a woman do anything different next year?  Maybe some things, but not all . I am an eternal optimist.  I have hope that next year will go more smoothly.  I hope that our lives will be more peaceful, less chaotic.  All I know is that despite all the insanity of the holiday, we are okay. Christmas night Giorgio and I tucked our children into bed and kissed them and told them we loved them and really, that’s all that matters.  They are here.  We are here together.  The four of us.  I know I often end my posts this way, but it is how I feel. I complain about my shit, but I am a lucky woman ( a wreck yes, but a lucky person none the less).  Wishing all of you a peaceful, healthy and happy new year!