Have a Good Day!

“Have a good day, Mommy!” the oldest shouts toward the open car window as she and her giant purple backpack head to school, purposefully ten or so steps ahead of her younger sister. “You too!” I attempt and fairly well succeed in a sing-song voice as I roll up the windows and mutter under my breath, “little knuckleheads.” But if you know me or hung out with me after two beers, you know what I really called them.

Why would I say such a thing to my precious children, you ask? First, for the record I love my kids. Second, let’s rewind, shall we?

At 5:50 a.m. I flung my arm out of bed and reached for my cell phone to turn off the alarm before my husband could groan about it. I put on my gym clothes and took a photo of my six pairs of Saucony shoes to post to Instagram later. Wtf? Idk. Ridiculous habits of 2018. I tied my running shoes and headed for the basement to walk on the treadmill for twenty minutes to do one thing for myself before we had to go wake up the kids. I heard footsteps above me and knew Ellie was probably awake, so I expedited my workout (skipped a bunch of stuff and stretched a bit instead) to make sure she wasn’t afraid of the dark house.

I walk into the kitchen where Ellie is tearing a frozen waffle in half. I stare at her trying to figure out what her plan is until I see her face drop, tears flow, and arms fold in front of her chest. “What are you doing?” I ask. “I wanted to see if it was bendy,” she replies. I put the two halves of waffle in the toaster and add a harsh, “I hope this doesn’t start a fire.”

Realizing I’m a little grumpy I go check in on the hubs. We chat through the shower door for a minute until I can’t stand the screaming coming from the kitchen one more second. The waffles “popped” but didn’t pop up since they are only halves. “Here,” I say grabbing them with tongs and plopping them onto her plate. Her tear-stained face does not look satisfied. She stares at the waffle halves completely insulted. I hear my oldest coming down the stairs, and pleased with that progress, I go to take my shower.

Finally starting to feel awake from my shower, I begin to put on a happy face when suddenly the door flies open and both kids run into the bathroom, elbowing each other in the ribs as they hurry to get to the sink first. How my sink became the designated teeth-brushing sink I do not know. “I was here first!” “No! I was here first!” They continue to duke it out. There is another sink in our master bathroom, not to mention four bathroom sinks in the entire house. But I don’t mention this point; it’s useless. I get dressed and go check on lunch boxes.

The hubs has already packed snacks and half of Ellie’s lunch. I nuke some mac’n’cheese for our vegetarian’s lunch. Last year school lunch was all the rage and dare I mention that neither MY mac’n’cheese nor my grilled cheese could hold a candle to the lunch ladies’ mac’n’cheese and grilled cheese. Just another argument I won’t win and won’t bring up today.

Our oldest remembered she needed to return her Friday Folder to school (since we had forgotten yesterday – yay parenting!) and grabbed it to stuff into her backpack. “Way to be proactive!” I cheer her on. Proactive is a catch phrase they are responding to the past couple of weeks, so I’m gonna board that praise train and roll with it while it works.

“UGH!!! MY HAIR!!!!” Ellie shouts as she stomps her way through the kitchen with a scowl on her face. “We’re gonna be late!” Sammy shouts, in an unconvincing manner to try to get Ellie to leave her hair alone. “And it’s all gonna be your fault!” she continues. I’m pretty sure this is where my first or second outburst occurs. Oh that’s right the first one happened when the box of Cheeze Its fell on the floor and scared the bejeezus out of me, to which I responded, “What the ..?!!!?!”

Chasing Ellie is like playing Pac Man when you try to eat the orange or the banana or pretzel for bonus points while it keeps floating away from you as you dodge obstacles. I snap at her to stay in one spot. “And quit moving your head while I’m doing your hair!” I snap again. Clearly I am owning this day in model Mother of the Year fashion.

“Time to get in the car,” I announce. Ellie looks not at the clock in the car, but the brightness of the morning and groans, “It’s already DAYTIME! We’re gonna be late to schooooooool!” “Well if you hadn’t re-done your ding dang stupid hairdo, we’d be on time!” “BUT IT HAD A POOF IN IT!” “As if anyone is gonna notice your poof. GET OFF MY BOOKBAG! YOU STEPPED ON MY BOOKBAG!” Exactly a minute and a half after this berating attack on her sister, she smiles at me from outside of the car and tells me to have a good day.

Gotta love those knuckleheads.




No Hola?

El verano pasado pasaba diez días en Madrid a mejorar mi gramática. ¡No me censures! Ya lo se que no es perfecta. Español es mi tercera idioma y estoy intentando a mejorarla. Y que manera mejor que escribir?! No me siento segura escribir en español, pero lo hago de todas formas.

Buscaba meses a encontrar la mejor escuela de idiomas en España hasta alguien me recomendó la escuela LAE Madrid donde es posible tomar clases de solamente una semana. Solamente una semana?! Si. Porque no quería dejar mi familia mucho tiempo (y había planeado un viaje a Noruega después de mis clases!)

No conocí a nadie en Madrid. Gracias a la escuela, conocía a otros estudiantes y un vecino al lado de mi apartamento. Entonces, necesitaba buscar a mi mismo entrentamiento.

Por supuesto caminaba por unas de las muchas tiendas Corte Ingles. Me encantan las tiendas departamentales. En contraste de caminar por el parque, explorar una tienda departamental es útil porque se puede ver mucho vocabulario en los departamentos diferentes y se puede hablar (y escuchar) de manera práctica. Por ejemplo, “Hay libros de Junie B Jones aquí?” (Compré cuatro o cinco libros de Junie B. Jones y unos más y no lo recomiendo porque al fin de mi tiempo en Madrid, y gracias a la ropa de Primark también, mi maleta pesó mucho!) Además me sentí muy segura allí porque como niña pasaba muchísimo tiempo en el centro comercial.

Caminaba horas por las calles de Madrid, especialmente las calles cerca de mi apartamento en el vecindario Argüelles. Al principio caminé solo cerca de mi apartamento porque no quería perderme. (Y mi primer día en Madrid mi cellular tuvo solo 1% batería. Este día caminaba prácticamente en circulos alrededor de la Corte Ingles más cerca de mi apartamento!)

Por suerte mi amiga loca me visitó un fin de semana en Madrid. Fuimos con el teleférico, bebimos sangria en el Parque del Retiro, buscamos la estatua del oso en la puerta del sol, vimos el Palacio Real, bebimos otra sangria en la Plaza Mayor, encontramos el restaurante más antigua de la ciudad, comimos churros con chocolate en San Ginés, caminamos por todo el Gran Via, y visitamos un bar.

Con razón era un poco más difícil divertirme después de mi amiga salió. Mi paseo favorito cada noche era el paseo a Templo de Debod. Allí se puede ver la puesta del sol muy hermosa. Pues, a las 21:30 no quería ir a casa ni quería ir sola a una discoteca. Decidí regresar al bar donde bebí cervezas con mi amiga, pero era todavía un poco temprano. No había mucha gente en los bars. Además me sentí un poco tímida visitar un bar sola. Mejor visité otro bar donde vi unas personas por la ventana. De inspiración de gran anuncio de Schweppes en Gran Via, pedí un Schweppes raspberry. No lo recomiendo. Es que solo no quería emborracharme. Después tomé una cerveza a mejorar el sabor en mi boca y a ayudarme a entrar el otro bar. Pues, por valor bebí una cerveza más.

Pasaba el bar de la noche anterior dos veces. Pensé, “beber una cerveza en el bar sola es mejor que mirar el unico canal en la tele en mi apartamento o peor – leer Junie B. Jones en mi apartamento en un ciudad tan grande e interessante a las 22:00 por la noche.” Entré el bar.

Oí una mujer diciendo, “no hola?” Está hablando de mi? Nunca en mi vida entré un lugar diciendo “heeeeey!” Primero, necesitaba disculparme al dueño por tomar su cigarrillo la noche anterior. Solo fumaba tres veces en mi vida. Lo prometo. Mientras de hablar con el dueño, reconocí a la mujer. La ví la noche anterior. De repente ella me reconcoció también y empezó hablar con migo. En segundos había conocido todo su grupo – su esposa, su amiga, y el novio de la amgia. Hablamos sobre mi ciudad, mi estado en los E.E.U.U., música, y más. Antes de saber, mis amigos nuevos me habían dado una cerveza, cogieron el control remoto del dueño, y cambiaron la música a Neil Diamond. Era una noche muy divertida.


Is it just me, or is it still a little difficult to call The Rock “Dwayne Johnson” instead of his long-time wrestling name? Not like I say it to his face or anything. But that would be super cool to be that tight with The Rock!

My father-in-law’s name is John, but to the people he grew up around, he was always referred to as Johnny. While my mother-in-law was still alive, she also called him Johnny, although the written representation of his nickname does no justice to her pronunciation of it. My MIL was born and raised in Georgia and didn’t have a huge southern accent all the time, although it was particularly pronounced when she said a couple names such as “Chriiiis” or “Jahwny.” Now that she has passed it makes me a bit sad knowing that John doesn’t get called Johnny every day like he had for so many years. (Although he has tacked on a couple of new nicknames including Papa and Great-Grandpapa or whatever version my great-nephew will make permanent as soon as he is able to talk.)

While teaching German Club earlier this week, a student asked, “What would my name be in Germany?” I insisted that your name doesn’t change when you visit another country. Your name is your name, no matter how different it might get pronounced abroad. Sure, you could change your name from Henry to Heinrich, but would it still feel like your name? Names are such a huge part of who we are. Even nicknames can last a lifetime.

Not long after I met my husband, I began to meet a lot of his friends, including “Steiner.” It was years before I found out his real name and that the tag Steiner had come from a wrestler they nicknamed him after. Fifteen years later, we now call Steiner, his wife, and their two kids The Steiners.

Granted my nickname has morphed over the years from To-To (that was my sister’s fault) to Jo-Jo to Jo, but it’s been around for all of the forty-one years that I can remember. There are some indelible moments that I can recall my name being called, such as the time at the beach when my friend Cassie asked, “Joooo, what’s the red flag up for?!” Or my dad yelling from the garage, “Yo! Jo!” and I never knew if it was a telephone call or if I was in trouble for something. And the cool book my roommate bought me simply because it was titled “Jo-Jo The Melon Donkey.”

It wasn’t until my friends slowly started graduating and moving away that I suddenly realized how important my nickname was to me – it was part of my identity and also a cue of those who were closest to me. As a twenty-something year old living in my same old college town with all of my friends in new cities, I realized I lacked friends with the tight bond that knew me by my nickname. In hindsight, it wasn’t that long until my new friends caught on to my name and even christened me with an extra syllable after I got married. JoPo hasn’t replaced the original name, but it still gets used from time to time and I appreciate the endearing sequel to my nickname.

It’s funny, though, how a name that means so much to me is something that I don’t even always hear. I sometimes listen for how the Hubs calls my name, but in the midst of waffles popping up in the toaster and filling water bottles, I rarely hear it. My brain simply processes that I’ve been spoken to and skipped on to the next task.

I know that any day now my kids are going to transition from calling me “Mommy” or “Mama” to just “Mom.” They’ve tried it out a few times already, sniff, sniff. I’ll keep “Mommy” as long as they’ll say it without the risk of becoming uncool! But in reality, it’s another example of not always hearing my name. I know I’m being called, but their little voices and name for me does not always sink in. I feel the need to record their voice in my brain of them saying Mommy before they transition me to Mom.

The other day I walked down to the end of the street and back while the kids were cleaning up their art supplies. Then I heard a faint “Jody!” But I wasn’t quite sure if I had heard correctly. Then I heard it again. Sure enough, my seven year old was on the driveway calling for me. She said there were lots of moms in the neighborhood, so it made more sense to say my name instead. Well, it certainly worked! Now that is ingrained in my memory. There’s nothing like the sound of a small child, especially a toddler calling you by your first name – sweetest sound ever.

I do have a brand new nickname that the Hubs just cooked up for me. Hulk. It is used to talk about me, in my presence, rather than to talk directly to me. It happens when I get grumpy and short with my family and I have to give the Hubs some credit; his new clever nickname for me catches my attention of my bad attitude and puts a smile on my face. What a sneaky way of ruining my bad mood!

What do your BFFs call you?!