Archive of ‘family’ category

Dear Darling, I Need a Big Favor

Dear Dar­ling,

You are my only girl and it is my respon­si­bil­i­ty as your moth­er to talk to you about impor­tant things. From the time I was a lit­tle girl, I’ve dreamed of being a mom and hav­ing the­se con­ver­sa­tions. One day we’ll pine over Pin­ter­est Boards as we plan your dream wed­ding. I look for­ward to see­ing your face when you find the per­fect prom dress. I’m even train­ing myself to be pre­pared when you have your first peri­od, but let’s not get ahead of our­selves, here. I have big dreams for you, my beau­ti­ful girl. I want you to be strong and smart and hap­py. I want you to fight for what you believe in and nev­er let any­one tell you that you can’t do some­thing. I want you to wear the bright­est red lip­stick you can find and blow kiss­es at the haters. But right now more than any­thing, my dar­ling, I need you to fall in love with a boy band. And I need you to do it quick­ly so that I can start stash­ing away mem­o­ra­bil­ia for your midlife cri­sis.

If you’re any­thing like me, you’re going to have all kinds of cocka­mamie ideas through­out your ado­les­cence. You’ll have an inven­tion idea that you’ll want to send to Shark Tank. You’ll prob­a­bly have a self-image cri­sis and decide to have a throw back fash­ion iden­ti­ty and will hope I saved some­thing from the 90s. You are going to think that I am crazy and embar­rass­ing and the most uncool mom in the world. The­se things, I will prob­a­bly not love, but boy band obses­sion, this is one phase that I will get behind. You see, my dear, it is inevitable that you will fall down this par­tic­u­lar rab­bit hole. You come from a long lin­eage of wom­en who have fal­l­en in love with a musi­cian. I had my boy band, your grand­moth­er had The Beat­les and your great grand­moth­er had her ever­last­ing love, Lib­er­ace. Per­haps that last pick was a bit mis­guid­ed, but I digress. I promise, to give you my whole heart, and bank account, when you decide on the one that will be yours forever.

I solemn­ly swear to emo­tion­al­ly and finan­cial­ly sup­port this habit. I will donate my 401k for shirts, pins, but­tons and a Fat Head for your wall. I will buy all of the iTunes gift cards so that you can pre-order albums and instant­ly down­load sin­gles. I will even sub­scribe to the YouTube chan­nel so that you can watch the same videos over and over and over again. I com­mit to buy­ing mag­a­zi­nes, I’m not sure if they still make mag­a­zi­nes, but if they do, they’re yours. As time goes on you will begin plan­ning your wed­ding, com­ing up with baby names and decide whose fam­i­ly to spend Christ­mas with. The dev­as­ta­tion that will come when you see him on TMZ with his new gal pal will be pal­pa­ble. That day, we will cry togeth­er and eat crap­py food and talk about how much bet­ter you would be for him. Once our sob ses­sion is over, I will help you to erad­i­cate any mem­o­ry of that low life from your mind. Togeth­er we will pack up your col­lec­tion and ready it for trash day. But here’s where I am going to go rogue. I’m not real­ly going to throw away any­thing. Nope, I’m going to pack it in a box in the base­ment and hide it among Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions and baby clothes that no else even know exist. Trust me, one day when you are yearn­ing for your youth and an escape from the pres­sures of adult­hood, you are going to want the­se things.

You see, my own life has recent­ly come full cir­cle and I’ve real­ized how impor­tant my mother’s sup­port of my fan girl dreams was. In 1989 I fell in love with five boys from Boston. It was more than just a crush, it was an obses­sion. The New Kids on the Block posters cov­ered my walls. My boom box con­stant­ly played their tapes-I’ll take you to the Smith­so­ni­an some­day and you’ll see what I’m talk­ing about. I wore t-shirts and giant but­tons and I was sure that one day I would mar­ry Don­nie Wahlberg and live hap­pi­ly ever after. Well, your father’s name isn’t Don­nie, your uncle isn’t Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch are nowhere to be found. I am not; how­ev­er, dis­ap­point­ed. The fact that I nev­er mar­ried a boy ban­der means that I can still hang on to a bit of my child­hood fan­ta­sy.

This past sum­mer, I pulled out my Hang­in’ Tough t-shirt, it still fits which says a whole lot about how we were wear­ing our clothes in the 80’s, and head­ed out to see NKOTB, their more mature moniker, in con­cert. I walked into a venue that seats 20,000 and saw that many wom­en who are exact­ly like me. The­se wom­an are the ones who are sud­den­ly find­ing chin hairs that pop up two inch­es long overnight. The­se same wom­en have given birth to babies and are won­der­ing how did we all get here and why is time mov­ing so fast? Long ago the­se wom­en had crimped hair and frost­ed eye shad­ow and sobbed uncon­trol­lably when five boys hit the stage. The­se wom­en are my peo­ple. We are all the same. We’ve hid­den our sev­en­th-grade year­book in hopes that our hus­bands will nev­er dis­cov­er the old us. We have worn breast pads that slipped and sprung a leak in the mid­dle of the gro­cery store. We have had bad job inter­views and ter­ri­ble rela­tion­ships. We have lived par­al­lel lives and grown up togeth­er, although most of us have nev­er met.

We gath­ered togeth­er, almost 30 years lat­er, and soaked up every min­ute. We didn’t want to hear new songs. We didn’t want to see new dances. We want­ed Step by Step with all five steps, all five boys and seam­less chore­og­ra­phy accom­pa­nied by pyrotech­nic mag­ic. And that’s just what we received. The­se guys know exact­ly what they are doing. Being able to watch 40-some­thing men sing the same songs and per­form the same moves three decades lat­er is noth­ing short of mag­ic. They came back just as their fans are com­ing of age. We are get­ting mar­ried and hav­ing kids and start­ing to feel old. We are dis­con­nect­ed from our youth and this has brought us back. If only for one night, we were those same cry­ing girls with black hats and over­alls that could take on the world.

And guess what? We did take on the world. We are moms and daugh­ters and friends and doc­tors and lawyers and CEOs and teach­ers and wait­ress­es and mechan­ics and what­ev­er else we ever want­ed to be. We all start­ed as young girls and have grown into wom­en stitched togeth­er by a com­mon thread. And I wouldn’t change one bit of that. I want that same kind of hap­pi­ness for you, my sweet girl. In 30 years, you will be liv­ing a grown up life filled with pres­sure and chal­lenge and frus­tra­tion and you will need an escape from real­i­ty, too. When the time comes, you will open the box that I have saved for all of those years and the mem­o­ries will flood back. You will feel a pit in your stom­ach for what was, but flut­ters in your heart in antic­i­pa­tion of the reunion tour. You will belt out your favorite tunes, dance the famil­iar moves and swoon at their old­er, yet, sex­ier bod­ies. It will be worth every one of the hun­dreds of dol­lars you paid for the tick­et. Trust me, if you allow your­self to get away from dia­pers and dead­li­nes and sleep depri­va­tion and you self­ish­ly indul­ge in one night with 20,000 wom­an in your tribe, you’ve got the right stuff!



Mama Said There’d be Days Like This

Today was pic­ture day. Now before you get all con­cerned that my kids showed up at school in white polos already stained with choco­late milk and week-old bed­head, rest assured, I remem­bered. As a mat­ter of fact, every­one was up at 6am, in the show­er, had a deli­cious break­fast poured right out of the card­board box with love and in the car with time to spare. I gave my final farewells and watched my hand­some boys frol­ic into school not a care in the world. I also saw sev­er­al of their class­mates head­ed into the build­ing hold­ing pic­ture order forms. The same order forms that were sit­ting in the bas­ket of papers that I had no inten­tion of look­ing at for at least six months. $h!+!!!

Liv­ing in a Jack But­ler world of North to pick up and South to drop off, there was no turn­ing around, so I had to head down the street and make a U-Turn. Upon my return, the park­ing lot was full and there was no way for me to sneak in and out with­out any­one notic­ing. Instead, I got to take Hand­some #3 and Dar­ling, still in her paja­mas, through the obsta­cle course of senior cit­i­zens sure not to miss the ear­ly bird park­ing for 8:15 mass and the throngs of par­ents who couldn’t wait for their argu­ing chil­dren to final­ly get out of the damn car! We made it through to the school office where I grabbed the envelopes ready to place my order when I saw that they only take checks. Since I had just forged my husband’s sig­na­ture on the last check from the book at soc­cer uni­form pick up, that wasn’t an option. Instead, I had to take the walk of shame, envelope in hand, with my disheveled chil­dren and order my prints online. Thank­ful­ly, that part went off with­out a hitch.

Hand­some #3’s school day starts 45 min­utes after his old­er broth­ers’. We have a dai­ly rit­u­al that includes him refus­ing to eat the break­fast that I have just pre­pared, cry­ing that he hates school and an absolute refusal to let me help with any shoes or but­tons. We live less than five min­utes from preschool and we are late Once we get there it’s all smiles and high fives and how are you friends? His per­for­mance at home and the entire way there should gar­ner him a day­time Emmy.

We walked Hand­some #3 to class, but there was no time to dawdle. Dar­ling and I were in a hur­ry this morn­ing. As I men­tioned, it was pic­ture day and Hand­some #2 real­ly want­ed to wear his favorite black glass­es. One slight prob­lem, they were bro­ken. I promised him that I would go to Lens Crafters first thing and get those qual­i­ty craft­ed specs back to school in an hour, before he saw the pho­tog­ra­pher. Dar­ling was strapped in, my cof­fee was still hot and we were right on time to be wait­ing at the door when the store opened. I put the key in the igni­tion a lit­tle sput­ter­ing, a few lights flick­er­ing on the dash, but the engine would not turn. Per­fect. I called AAA and they said it would be 30–45 min­utes before the tech­ni­cian would arrive. Even more per­fect.

Dar­ling was done being strapped into her carseat about 45 sec­onds into our strand­ed state, so out she went ready to explore the front seat. She did a dandy job push­ing every but­ton, pulling every knob, find­ing my secret stash of tam­pons, gum and expired insur­ance cards. By the time she was fin­ished it looked like a tor­nado had ripped through the front seat. The AAA man final­ly showed up, replaced the bat­tery and $129 lat­er, we were on our way.

Due to our lit­tle bump in the road, there was no way I was get­ting to school on time, but I fig­ured I’d get the glass­es tak­en care of as long as I was out. Hand­some #2 loved those glass­es. They were his first pair and he was super excit­ed to get them back. Well he would have been excit­ed, except that they’re dis­con­tin­ued and unavail­able in the state of Mis­souri. Excel­lent! Mr. Extreme­ly patient Lens Crafters Man, who want­ed to kick me through the win­dow after 30 min­utes of total inde­ci­sion about new frames, and I picked out a per­fect new pair. They whipped those pup­pies up in no time and we were on our way.

I had just a few min­utes before pick­ing up Hand­some #3, so I decid­ed to run into Aldi to grab a few essen­tials. One thing on my list that I have be mean­ing to get the last 10 trips is that $.39 con­tain­er of salt. Remem­ber that, it’ll come back to haunt me in the lat­er rounds. There was a child los­ing its ever lov­ing mind some­where in the store, I nev­er saw it, but the whole city could hear it. Thank­ful it wasn’t mine, I said a quick Hail Mary for the poor moth­er and head­ed out. Once again, we were back on track ready to get Hand­some #3 from school.

Hand­some #3 was beam­ing at dis­missal, hap­py to see his sis­ter and me. “He had a great day, ” called his teacher. Of course he did, he only puts on the spit­ting pea soup show for me. We got home, had lunch, watched a lit­tle Elmo and were all just ready to relax for a min­ute. It was peace­ful and hap­py and serene. Like the per­fect lit­tle fam­i­ly in an anti­de­pres­sants ad.

Since the morn­ing was such a train wreck, I fig­ured it could only go up, so I got cre­ative. Some­times I like to think that I’m June cleaver in a mod­est polka dot dress with a half apron and plas­tic-cov­ered fur­ni­ture. Today was one of those days and I decid­ed to take my stay-at-home mom game to the next lev­el. Oh the boys would just love a pump­kin bundt cake as an after school sur­prise, wouldn’t they? Of course they would, I’ll just whip one right up!

I got out my pan, I pre­heat­ed my oven, pulled out the 800-lb-Kitchenaid and gath­ered my ingre­di­ents. I opened the cab­i­net to grab my sug­ar and flour can­is­ters when that $.39 salt appeared, clear­ly unhap­py with its new accom­mo­da­tions. In what can only be described as a sui­cide attempt, the salt took a free fall direct­ly into my face. Caught com­plete­ly off guard by the incred­i­ble pain throb­bing in my nose, I dropped the fresh­ly-filled with 5 pounds of sug­ar con­tain­er that sub­se­quent­ly broke into 6,000 pieces the sec­ond it hit the gran­ite. I would have tak­en a pic­ture, but I didn’t want to hurt the feel­ings of any of the 4,656,000 sug­ar gran­ules that dis­persed them­selves through­out my entire kitchen if they didn’t make the shot.

I was on the verge of tears when Hand­some #3 ever so kind­ly dis­tract­ed me.

Mom! Dar­ling pooped and she stinks so, so bad!”

I changed the dia­per, put her down for a nap and came down to sur­vey the dam­age. It was bad. I was defeat­ed. Hand­some #3 went to watch a show, Dar­ling was sleep­ing and I need­ed my favorite rap playlist and a Diet Coke. I took a deep breath and tried to put things into per­spec­tive. I am thank­ful for my four beau­ti­ful chil­dren and a lov­ing hus­band, who works his butt off, so that I can have the­se $h!++y days at home with our kids. I rolled my sleeves up, turned the speak­ers on high and got to work. “Hot n Her­re” on my lips, I scrubbed the cab­i­nets, the floors and the coun­ters, and sud­den­ly caught my reflec­tion in the mir­ror and thought, Damn! I think my butt get­tin’ big.….…

Airing Our Dirty Laundry, All Over Saint Louis Hills


My first reac­tion to this video was to be crit­i­cal of myself. The hor­ren­dous screen shot of a five-week post­par­tum moth­er, couldn’t they have cho­sen some­thing bet­ter? I want­ed to point out my errors, the way that I look and the way that I sound. But, I am throw­ing all of that out the win­dow. I am so incred­i­bly proud of this accom­plish­ment. I stepped com­plete­ly out of my com­fort zone, put my heart and soul on the line with an orig­i­nal piece and the audi­ence loved it. I am so incred­i­bly thank­ful for the sup­port of my fam­i­ly, my three broth­ers and my dad, who allowed me to bring a lit­tle laugh­ter into the world at all of their expense, but par­tic­u­lar­ly to my moth­er, who has always been my biggest sup­port­er. I am also grate­ful for my hus­band and chil­dren who allowed me to take this time to be com­plete­ly self­ish and to do some­thing just for me. I love each and every one of you!

The Lis­ten to Your Moth­er expe­ri­ence tru­ly was life chang­ing for me. It helped me to real­ize that God has blessed me with a tal­ent and that I need to take advan­tage of that tal­ent. I am cur­rent­ly work­ing on a col­lec­tion of essays from my child­hood, very sim­i­lar to the fol­low­ing, that I hope to pub­lish soon. I appre­ci­ate all of your kind words and your love. You will be see­ing a lot more from me soon!

Bad Boys, Bad Boys, What’ca Gonna Do?

I have learned all kinds of things in my last eight years par­ent­ing boys. Frogs, bugs and rep­tiles are a reg­u­lar part of con­ver­sa­tion and I am expect­ed to lis­ten intent­ly and care about the sto­ries being told. Cloth­ing will be filthy by the end of the day and no amount of hand wash­ing, wet wipes or nap­kins on the lap can pre­vent it. Boys will beat the crap out of each oth­er one min­ute and hug it out the next and there are nev­er hard feel­ings, at all. No mat­ter how much I preach about lift­ing the seat and aim­ing, my bath­rooms, despite an inor­di­nate amount of bleach and vine­gar used, will always have a slight uriney smell. I have come to accept, albeit begrudg­ing­ly on the urine thing, all of this. It is a way of life in my house and that house is filled with hap­py, hand­some men.…and a cou­ple of girls.

For the most part, my Hand­somes are well behaved, have decent man­ners and do what they are told with­out much trou­ble. Sure, they all have their moments, but I can hon­est­ly say that I don’t wor­ry too ter­ri­bly much about how they will act when I am not around. I am not a huge list of rules kind of per­son either. We have the basics, be kind to one anoth­er, don’t talk back, put your dirty laun­dry in the bas­ket, please don’t pee on your broth­er while you are both in the tub, all that kind of stuff. But, there is one thing in our house that my sons will unan­i­mous­ly announce as being the ulti­mate don’t cross mom on this one or she will lose her mind rule. I can han­dle any of the afore­men­tioned and hand out a quick, knock if off, but when it comes to the Gold­en Rule in Come on Colleen land, there is no excep­tion.

Pic­ture if you will a love­ly break­fast, lunch or din­ner table. You are per­fect­ly fam­ished and could eat just about any­thing. Thank­ful­ly, there is a deli­cious spread before you, the com­pa­ny is equal­ly as divine and you are feel­ing just delight­ful! Then, out of the cor­ner of your eye, you spot a man at the table in a tank top. He could be the rich­est, kindest, fun­ni­est and most hand­some man on the plan­et, but the sec­ond he lifts his arm to reach for the rolls, you see it. His sweaty, strag­gly, nasty armpit hair is danc­ing in the breeze. Pieces of dried deodor­ant are hang­ing on like the last bit of snow on a rock after the weath­er warms up. No mat­ter how hard you try, you can’t look away and now you have com­plete­ly lost your appetite and are resist­ing the urge to barf all over the table. Just, me? No, prob­a­bly not any more.……

Did you get your tick­ets for the gun show? Nope, no way, not at my table. Not today, not tomor­row, not ever. The Hand­somes know that they absolute­ly must have a shirt on when we are eat­ing. Often times they sleep in their under­wear so that they can be like their idol, The Grillin’ Fool, who inci­den­tal­ly is the only per­son in our house with actu­al armpit hair, and will wan­der down the steps blur­ry eyed and half naked. I don’t even have to say any­thing. A vic­to­ry in and of itself, I have mas­tered, “the look” that sends them scur­ry­ing in to the laun­dry room to find cov­er­age.

And before you get all, “But Colleen, Hand­some #1, your old­est, is only eight years old, he doesn’t even have peach fuzz in those pits.” I gagged just typ­ing that. No, you are right, he sure doesn’t, but, I wouldn’t hand him a Salem Slim Light and a Bud­weis­er, two of my old favorites back in the days when I was fun, so why let him engage in oth­er risky behav­iors that could lead to his mother’s pre­ma­ture pass­ing from gag­ging on her on vom­it at the table lat­er on in life? Just not worth the risk.

This rule is infal­li­ble at our home. As a mat­ter of fact, even when I was pot­ty train­ing my youngest boy, oppo­si­tion was quick­ly squelched my by eldest.
Me- Boys, you know the rule, you must put on a shirt before break­fast.

Hand­some #2- Why? Hand­some #3 isn’t even wear­ing any under­wear!

Me- No, he isn’t, but he is also tucked under the table and no one can see that.

Hand­some #1- Why are you even argu­ing with her on this one? You will nev­er win.

Yes. A vic­to­ry. I won! I won! I won! I felt so val­i­dat­ed. They respect me and love me and know that this is impor­tant to me and a firm rule in our home. My hand­somes are allow­ing me to mold them into strong, respect­ful and respectable young men that will make me proud. I was on cloud nine for exact­ly 11 sec­onds and then I got this series of pic­tures from Mau­r­mi. Remem­ber that whole, I don’t real­ly wor­ry about their behav­ior when I’m not around bolog­na? Well, well, well, appar­ent­ly at my house the min­ute I leave it’s a great big, naked, let your arm pits hang out all over the place buf­fet.…..




They are lucky they are cute.……

Put Me in Coach.…

I am not par­tic­u­lar­ly ath­let­ic, unless you include Sweat­in’ to the Oldies, but as a moth­er of a lot of boys, sports, cur­rent­ly base­ball, have infil­trat­ed every part of our lives. I love to watch lit­tle kids get a hit, or make a catch and to see the pride beam­ing from their faces. There is noth­ing like watch­ing your child smil­ing from ear to ear after mak­ing a great play and know­ing that not one bit of that ath­let­ic abil­i­ty came from you, and your pret­ty sure not your hus­band either, but hop­ing that it might last a few more years.

Recent­ly, Hand­somes #1 and #2 had week­night games, at dif­fer­ent loca­tions, that over­lapped; there­fore, The Grillin’ Fool and I had to divide and con­quer. It’s bare­ly mid June and already 1000 degrees in St. Louis, so a full day at the pool fol­lowed by an ear­ly evening game, that I kind of for­got about until about an hour before hand, is about as much fun as I could pos­si­bly han­dle dur­ing the last week of my mater­ni­ty leave.

In typ­i­cal fash­ion, we couldn’t find hats, socks or cleats, despite the fact that every sin­gle per­son in the house swears that they put them away in their prop­er places just like I asked. Hand­some #2 and I were head­ed out for the ear­ly shift. He was clad in head to toe black and grey poly­ester, bright blue and yel­low soc­cer socks and ten­nis shoes due to the fact that we couldn’t devote any more time to the scav­enger hunt for prop­er equip­ment. All the damns that I gave had melt­ed in the heat.

The game start­ed at 6pm and was locat­ed at least 15 min­utes from home. We left at 5:51pm. I bare­ly made it out of the sub­di­vi­sion when I noticed this in the rear view mir­ror.


He hadn’t just nod­ded off, this child was snoring.…loudly. Rather than poke the bear, I fig­ured I would let him rest until we got to the field. We rolled in at 6:03pm and I noticed that every play­er on the field was female. Per­fect. I had dri­ven to the wrong place, miles past where we were sup­posed to be. Sud­den­ly, Chief Mete­o­rol­o­gist Mau­r­mi comes in with this warn­ing.


I check my cal­en­dar, find the right loca­tion and get to the field at 6:17pm just in time for Hand­some #2 to wake up with a seat belt crease across his face that could eas­i­ly be mis­tak­en as a failed attempt to gauge his eye out.

Are we here? Oh good, my team is up to bat!”

He runs to the dugout and after miss­ing the top of the inning some­how finds him­self on deck. Seems fair that all of the oth­er soon-to-be first graders who have bat­tled the sev­en­th cir­cle of hell in the field should move aside for some­one who just fin­ished his beau­ty sleep, right?!?!?! He gets a hit, the kids fin­ish out the inning and head back out to the field.

Hand­some #2 didn’t seem par­tic­u­lar­ly thrilled to be out in the heat and each time the thun­der would clap, he’d look up as if God was talk­ing direct­ly to him. The oth­er team got a few hits, scored a few runs and it was time for our boys to bat. Once again, there he stood with a hel­met on, seem­ing­ly unde­served­ly high up in the bat­ting order, when the coach­es spot light­en­ing and the game is called.…at 6:31pm. In just 40 min­utes, Hand­some #2 had tak­en a nap, vis­it­ed two Catholic Church fields, bat­ted and got­ten a hit, and played an inning in the field. This kid has done more with his ath­let­ic career in less than an hour than I have my entire life!

We head­ed for the car and he looked up at me and said,

I need a nap, that was exhaust­ing!”





Hey, You Guys!



On June 7, 1985, exact­ly 30 years ago today, ‘The Goonies’ was released. At the time, I was six. My broth­ers were four, three and eight weeks. My mom and dad were 33 and 36, respec­tive­ly. Today, I am 36. My sons are sev­en, five and two. I am the exact age that my father was when he and my moth­er decid­ed to head to the movie the­ater with four and three-year-old boys. Four chil­dren under six, includ­ing a new­born who was left with God only knows that day, would make anyone’s judge­ment a bit lax.


The antic­i­pa­tion was incred­i­ble. After what seemed like hours, 15 min­utes real time, we walked in the doors. Can­dy, a huge tub of pop­corn and one soda with four straws lat­er, we were head­ed to the upper bal­cony ready for the Goonies expe­ri­ence.


We were all hooked on the tale of friend­ship packed with action, adven­ture and a real­ly creepy guy chained up in the base­ment. Despite our young ages, we sat pret­ty still while devour­ing snacks and slurp­ing drinks, until we didn’t. There was danc­ing down the aisle. Not tap or sal­sa, this looked a bit more like the hus­tle.


One-eyed Willy’s boat had just been dis­cov­ered when the real per­for­mance start­ed. A poor, Pep­si-filled tod­dler, began the chant famil­iar to all par­ents,


It began soft­ly with a chair squirm. “Um, I have to go. I have to go to the bath­room.” He twist­ed and twirled. “I have to go. I have to go. Dad­dy, I real­ly have to go.”


The Fratelli’s just appeared and now a kid is filled with urine up to his eye­balls. Per­fect. With mere min­utes of the movie left, but not want­i­ng to miss a sec­ond, my dad did what any lov­ing par­ent would do. He made the ulti­mate sac­ri­fice. Even though he was real­ly full, he forced him­self to eat the last of the pop­corn, cre­at­ing a makeshift toi­let and told my broth­er to tin­kle. Right there. In the tub. In the the­atre. And he did.

Goonies nev­er say die……

Ain’t Nuthin But a C Thang.….….……

Along with preg­nan­cy comes sev­er­al fab­u­lous side effects; includ­ing, but not lim­it­ed to, vom­it­ing, pim­ples, swelling, heart­burn, crav­ings, sud­den urges to emp­ty your blad­der and sleep­less­ness. This last one has to be one of my favorites. When I was preg­nant with Knox, I would lay awake for hours day­dream­ing about the won­der­ful life that I would have as a moth­er of three and how my per­fect lit­tle chil­dren would be super stars aca­d­e­m­i­cal­ly and ath­let­i­cal­ly, that lat­ter is hop­ing that there has been a genet­ic muta­tion some­where along the lines because they aren’t get­ting that one from me. Yeah, well, that is what a nor­mal per­son thinks about. I, on the oth­er hand, con­cen­trat­ed most­ly on my irra­tional fears and keep­ing my chil­dren safe from the Litar­i­ans of the world.

You see, as a young girl grow­ing up on the mean, tree-lined streets of St. Louis Hills, I was exposed to, well, noth­ing. Not a damn thing…ever.…And I liked it that way. That was until Nan­cy Rea­gan start­ing dar­ing kids to stay off drugs and the nuns in the office decid­ed to scare the $h!+ out of every child at St. Gabriel the Archangel. I can still remem­ber the pur­ple dit­to that I brought home from school. I couldn’t read it, but I knew that it was bad and that I was like­ly going to end up dead because of it.

My mom explained that there had been a very bad man spot­ted in the neigh­bor­hood in a white van with no win­dows, per­fect for nab­bing, giv­ing out lick­able tat­toos laced with LSD to chil­dren. *Editor’s note, this may be the com­bi­na­tion of sev­er­al dit­tos, regard­ing sep­a­rate instances, but this is how my mem­o­ry sealed it, so press on. And right then and there, I knew, that I was soon to be abduct­ed, drugged and left to a life on the streets. There was noth­ing that I could do to pro­tect myself, so I might as well get use to it.

As a child con­stant­ly being com­pared to Punky Brew­ster, I was also always con­cerned that my moth­er was going to ditch my broth­ers and I in a park­ing lot some­day. Let’s think about that one for a sec­ond, shall we? In the 1980s, prime time tele­vi­sion taught us that if your mom left you, you could sim­ply climb into an old man’s apart­ment, with your dog no less, and life will be just fine. As long as anoth­er young girl and her old-as-hell grand­moth­er are across the hall to help out. Sounds per­fect­ly safe and log­i­cal, plus you get an awe­some loft bed.….perfect.…I could cer­tain­ly fend for myself if I could just find Hen­ry Warn­i­mont.…..

So smart, yet so very, very stu­pid

As I grew old­er, I real­ized that my moth­er wasn’t real­ly going to ditch us, even though she did leave peo­ple behind here and there. Well, just Jim­my on a vaca­tion and sleep­ing in a hot car in the Schnuck’s park­ing lot one lit­tle time. I felt a bit safer in my skin. That was until day­time talk shows got a hold of me. I learned quite a bit about the aver­age teen from my good friends Sal­ly Jesse, Phil, Jer­ry and Jen­ny. I tuned in as much as I could and learned that, “just say no” was noth­ing com­pared to the thug life. I would sit in hor­ror lis­ten­ing to tales of young girls being ripped from their hap­py, inno­cent lives and thrust into a cul­ture obsessed with race, sex and drugs. What was a high school girl to do.….Wait, WTF did you just say? High school?

East Side, West Side, Irish Mob? 

Yeah, I was pret­ty much on the fast track to loserville at 14 because I sin­cere­ly believed that I was going to HAVE to be in a gang. I was so naive and f%^)@ng stu­pid, that I was cer­tain that not only was I to be recruit­ed, from St. Joseph’s Acad­e­my, but that I would have to par­tic­i­pate in an ini­ti­a­tion. That is where I real­ly start­ed to get scared. I was pret­ty sure that I was not going to be able to beat some­one up with a bat, or put cig­a­rettes out on their face, and I prob­a­bly couldn’t tat­too any­one, but if I had to, I guess that I would. I wor­ried about where they would find me and what I would do when I was approached. In the ear­ly 1990s, we all wore ban­danas. I made con­scious efforts not to tie a red one around my head because I didn’t want to show affin­i­ty to a blood if the crips were around.…..

I was fear­ful of strangers, par­tic­u­lar­ly females because I knew they want­ed me. I was extreme­ly cau­tious of the girls in over-sized hood­ies and scrunch socks with the crunchy ramen noodle perms, huge bangs and the top por­tion of their pony tails pulled back so tight­ly that their eyes began to squint. Those were the ones that Sal­ly Jesse made me fear the most. They lived the seem­ing­ly-inno­cent lives and then, Bam!, they were sud­den­ly pass­ing around the chron­ic and shoplift­ing for a liv­ing. I would walk to Tar­get near Hamp­ton Vil­lage, cer­tain that any per­son stand­ing at the bus stop would quick­ly break from the BiS­tate line, throw a bag over my head and my ini­ti­a­tion would begin.

All too soon, I would be liv­ing in a crap­py apart­ment cov­ered in news­pa­pers with a dirty microwave oven and a Cole­man cool­er to chill my cans of Colt 45. I would change my name to Dim­ples Dark Eyez and hang out at the Bus Stop just look­ing for fresh meat. Young wom­en would fear my tear drop tat­toos and gold-capped teeth, but be equal­ly in awe of my fin­ger­nails stud­ded with dia­monds and as long as eagle talons. This was my des­tiny and I had accept­ed it and per­haps start­ed to look for­ward to it. At least with a gang, there was job secu­ri­ty and a fam­i­ly, some­thing that I was miss­ing in my real life!?!?!? Hmm.….….

From the cradle to the grave.…thug till I die.….

As an adult, who some­how escaped the thug life, I still find myself com­pelled to watch Lock­up and won­der what could have been had things gone the wrong way on Hamp­ton. For years, I won­dered if any of my broth­ers had felt the same way, or if my moth­er feared me get­ting involved with a bad crowd. So, one night at Sun­day din­ner, I asked.

Were any of you ever afraid of being able to par­tic­i­pate in a gang ini­ti­a­tion when we were kids?”

The blank stares were alarm­ing. Oh my God, had one of them actu­al­ly been approached? Did some­body get knifed and I wasn’t told? Who from the parish was part of the under­ground cul­ture? WTF was going on?
Then the laugh­ter start­ed. No not just laugh­ter, hys­te­ria. Sort of like a pack of hye­ni­as on methanphet­a­mi­nes.

You can’t fight.”
“You have zero street cred.”
“What do you know about being a gansta?”

And then Big D chimed in.….

Colleen! What the hell are you talk­ing about? That is the dumb­est thing that I have ever heard you say. For God’s sake! What gang would want any­thing to do with you? Now do the dish­es.”

Yep…that’s me..well, as a white wom­an, and make that about $6, on a good day.…..


Day 8, you lost a wagon wheel and the baby is suffering from Typhoid

As of late, the Thomas fam­i­ly has been liv­ing a life eeri­ly sim­i­lar to those pathet­ic excus­es for pio­neers in the Ore­gon Trail video game. Every­one loved Ore­gon Trail Day at school, it meant a full 45 min­utes of ford­ing the river, shoot­ing buf­falo after buf­falo know­ing full well that you would nev­er be able to car­ry the load back, pur­chas­ing sense­less rations just because you could and hop­ing that no one caught dysen­tery on the way to Cal­i­for­nia. I would have hap­pi­ly shot a buf­falo and attempt­ed to car­ry him home at any point dur­ing the last two weeks.
I have heard that boys are rough and tum­ble, prone to acci­dents and often cov­ered in bruis­es, cuts and scrapes. I can han­dle that, I grew up with three broth­ers and the occa­sion­al scuf­fle would arise. One par­tic­u­lar inci­dent with a reclin­er has left one broth­er with a scar that could eas­i­ly fool any late night bar patron to believe that he was either a) attacked by a bear or b) his kid­ney was stolen in the mid­dle of the night and he awoke in a bath­tub full of ice, but I digress. My sweet, inno­cent chil­dren have had a decent track record. No injuries, no major ill­ness­es, just a pret­ty easy going four years.  Well, that is if you don’t count that lit­tle inci­dent on Hand­some #1’s first East­er, when I fell down the steps while hold­ing him and inad­ver­tent­ly broke his leg in the process and didn’t seek med­ical atten­tion for two days because, “he was fine.” Just a blip on the radar……
Hap­py First Birth­day, you can dis­cuss this with your ther­a­pist in 20 years
It was only fit­ting that our first  sec­ond major injury would take place on a day when we had plans. Not the kind of plans where you are going to the zoo and it rains, nope big­ger. Not a birth­day par­ty that is can­celled because a child gets the flu. Nope, even big­ger. My broth­er, Kev­in, and his now wife, Emi­ly, hap­pened to be get­ting mar­ried on March 24. The exact same day that Finnegan march­es into our bed­room and says piti­ful­ly, yet quite mat­ter-of-fact­ly,
“I fell out of my bed in the mid­dle of the night and I screamed and cried and no one came to get me.”
Yep, the poor child took a head­er out of his bed and end­ed up with an injury requir­ing imme­di­ate med­ical atten­tion, a mere six hours before he was to be a ring bear­er in my brother’s wed­ding. Per­fect! It cer­tain­ly wouldn’t be a Dilthey func­tion with­out a cat­a­stro­phe, right? Right. So off to St. Anthony’s Car­di­nal Glen­non pedi­atric ER for a cou­ple of pic­tures. We arrived at the hos­pi­tal and I very casu­al­ly hand­ed them my insur­ance card and asked, “How long is this going to take? My hus­band, two chil­dren and I are all in a wed­ding in a few hours, so we need to be out of here fast.” Hmm­mm, that may have been a poor choice. Had I known then what I know now, I would have cer­tain­ly kept a low pro­file in the ER.
He found this excit­ing and couldn’t wait to see his bones
Such a sweet baby, whose moth­er didn’t hear him cry.…I could just die!
Hand­some #1 was tak­en back to a room,  wheeled into X-Ray and asked a few ques­tions about what hap­pened. Ulti­mate­ly, it was ruled a bro­ken col­lar bone and he was given a sling to wear to help pro­tect it. As soon as the sling was on, I pro­ceed­ed to ask real­ly dumb ques­tion num­ber two, “Does he have to wear this in the wed­ding? I mean, there will be a lot of pic­tures.” The doc­tor looked at me like, WTF is wrong with you, and said yes it need­ed to be worn. Fab­u­lous! The dar­ling mono­grammed john john will now be total­ly cov­ered up, at least he will have on his black and white sad­dles, that made me happy…..Shallow, I know but don’t tell me for one sec­ond that if you have a dar­ling out­fit planned for your child and some­thing changes that you aren’t pissed? You are just as shal­low and a lousy par­ent just like me…..
This is the best pic­ture I have to date, piti­ful. Look at the tap dancer, it is a sur­prise we didn’t go right back!
Tem­porar­i­ly mis­placed sling=Hillbilly health­care
Hand­some #! took to the sling like it was noth­ing and real­ly gave me no trou­ble. Let’s fast for­ward to the fol­low­ing Sat­ur­day, shall we? We had fam­i­ly por­traits planned that day for Hand­some #1, Hand­some #2  and Nephew #1 that day. I pressed their seer­suck­er pants, white polos with their mono­grams and sham­rocks and laid out their navy and white sad­dles. The boys were bathed, dressed and we were on our way to Faust Park.
The ride was unevent­ful, a lit­tle Fresh Beat Band, Yo Gab­ba Gab­ba, Dol­ly Par­ton for a diver­sion and a lit­tle 9 to 5. We no soon­er pulled into the park­ing lot that I heard the famil­iar grum­bling and splat­ter. I turn to see my pre­cious Hand­some #2 cov­ered from head to toe in banana vom­it. Per­fect, just per­fect. My pic­ture was just ruined.  I couldn’t pos­si­bly get Finnegan’s pic­ture tak­en with­out Hand­some #2, so I turned the car around and head­ed back home. Not with­out an extreme­ly over dra­mat­ic phone call to Scott where I sobbed uncon­trol­lably about how noth­ing ever goes right, my life is ter­ri­ble, I just want one sim­ple pic­ture is that too much to ask and blah, blah, blah…….I think he fell asleep have way through, or at the very least put me on mute.
The next day I had just about had it with being a par­ent and was thrilled to have a diver­sion and head­ed to a fam­i­ly baby show­er. No soon­er did I walk in the door from my after­noon of being a big girl with­out some­one cry­ing or scream­ing or rub­bing snot on me, that Bren­nan awoke from his nap. He was clingy and act­ing incred­i­bly dis­ori­ent­ed.  I asked Scott if any­thing strange had hap­pened and he said that he had fal­l­en off of the chair and bumped his head, but didn’t real­ly cry. This scared the shit of me and then the barf­ing came. Again, and again, and again. Back to St. Anthony’s Car­di­nal Glen­non ER we went. Per­fect, last Sat­ur­day, my son fell and I didn’t go to help him or res­cue him, which he has made a point to tell every­one, and this time, my oth­er son has fal­l­en and I wasn’t around so I am just not sure what hap­pened to him. I could already hear the call to DFS being made!
He was so sick
This was before the scream­ing began
Clear­ance to go home =44 0z of Diet Dr. Pep­per
Same rou­tine as last week­end, we got a room, a few X-rays some antin­au­sea med­ica­tion and the clin­i­cal diag­no­sis of a poten­tial con­cus­sion. In oth­er words, no seri­ous dam­age and he was OK to go home. Thank God! No one even men­tioned that I had been there the week before. May­be they didn’t notice, or may­be they didn’t think that I was crazy, or may­be, just may­be they believed that I wasn’t try­ing to kill my chil­dren! I have cer­tain­ly closed my eyes from time to time in an effort to make them evap­o­rate, just for 10 min­utes or so, but I would nev­er hurt my babies.
Once we were set­tled back home, it because appar­ent that what­ev­er was caus­ing this barf­ing had tak­en over Hand­some #2 and it wasn’t stop­ping. There was barf every­where. Scott and I put the kids to sleep hop­ing for the best, but braced for the worst. And the worst was upon us, Hand­some #1 start­ed to barf too. I cov­ered the fur­ni­ture and floors with sheets, I hand­ed every­one a buck­et and urged them to aim well.  Typhoid, dysen­tery, diph­the­ria I don’t know what it was, but it was bad and they were down.
We have a piper down.….
Please note that is not vom­it on the child, instead Pop­si­cle residue
Thank­ful­ly, the plague was rather short lived and we were able to resume nor­mal activ­i­ty at the Thomas House just in time for East­er and Uncle Jimbo’s 27th birth­day extrav­a­gan­za.
I told you no more pic­tures!
My mom thought that it would be a real hoot to have a piñata at the par­ty. Being the ath­lete that I am, I decid­ed that I should help Hand­some #1 to bust the piñata open…..It didn’t go so well……Well, I must depart now break time is over in the slam­mer, until next time, enjoy……