Mistakes of Christmas Past

img_0173-2This is the sixteenth year I’ve been a mother on Christmas. Most of all, I recommend enjoying it. It’s like another go around at being a kid. When your children are between 2 and 12, it’s pretty amazing to experience their excitement. (When I was little, I was always so excited about Christmas, I would almost collapse from hyperventilating on Christmas Eve. One time my step-father even gave me a beer (I was maybe 11) and the two of us watched It’s A Wonderful Life to calm me to sleep.) As hard and stressful as it is, it’s another chance to relish the magic of anticipation followed by that unsurpassed glee. But I have made a few big mistakes along the way. Some of you have already made them I’m afraid, but we have a few days left before the kids start watching Santa fly around the world on your (or their) iPhone, so here goes:

  1. This is a big one for parents with toddlers and pre-schoolers: assemble the dollhouse/car/slide BEFORE Christmas morning. Your child will not want to wait! They will see the toy on the outside of the box (because in this scenario you’ve made this mistake) and expect it to drive on out and work. Nothing spoils the moment like a tantrum. Same goes for dolls who are for no reason I can understand, shackled to the inside of their boxes like there’s a risk they might escape. Set them free in advance! Or at least be prepared with a sharp knife or good scissors (or a big box of tissues for your bawling child.) PS Batteries of all sizes should be on hand. No they do not come with the toy.
  2.  When boxes arrive — and they will! Things you’ve bought, things grandparents have sent — take a moment to write down what has arrived and who it’s from before you shove it under a bed or in the back of a closet or on a top shelf you think your children can’t reach. Trust me, things will get lost. And the worst part is, you won’t even know it until months later when you’re looking for that pair of shoes you never wear and find a Star Wars Lego kit.  Also, your mother is going to ask if her package arrived and you’ll have no clue. Lots of things came from Amazon. You think Grandma’s gift is in the basement, but really, you have no idea. Don’t let that happen to you. The best way to prevent this is to open the boxes and wrap as they arrive, but you can’t do that if your little ones are in the living room when the UPS man arrives. You will have to run for it. Make a note. At least read the label so you know where or whom it’s from. (This seems obvious — maybe it is for everyone but me? But I’ve tucked boxes away and thought they were one thing, then found on Christmas Eve that the gift on the top of my kid’s list is nowhere to be found) It’s best to wrap as soon as you can, then hide all the gifts in one place. Wrapped presents are harder for kids to peek at and this will save you from #4. And more than one hiding place just doesn’t end well.
  3. Keep a running tally of what you’ve purchased. Nothing worse than being accused of favoritism because you were too busy to keep track. The older kids know exactly what things cost. You can’t fool them. No one wants to feel like the black sheep on Christmas. There will be a Christmas when one child receives an expensive gift that reduces the overall size of his or her haul. Be prepared to explain. I remember years when I was warned that I might have fewer presents under the tree.
  4. Christmas Eve. This is a big one. An hour is not enough time to wrap and assemble everything, especially if you’re drunk. For me on Christmas Eve it’s like I have muscle memory urging me to imbibe, as if I’m home from college and going out with my friends, as if I’m 20 and childless and all I have to do the next day is open presents — for me! — and pig out on my mother’s yummy food. Well, those days are over. At least for 18 years. The only thing worse than having to assemble a tricycle while your toddler screams at you, is to do so with a hangover! And don’t expect your equally drunk spouse to save you. He’s in the same shape. You might even have offered to cook a big family dinner without realizing that you’d first have to build a robot, set up a video game, apologize for the turtleneck, and play two rounds of LIFE.  If you stay out too late and drink too much on Christmas Eve, you will cry on Christmas Day.
  5. Buy stocking stuffers for your stocking. Otherwise it might hang on the mantle empty and limp. After your children and even your dogs tear through their loot, one of them is sure to ask: “Why is your stocking empty, Mommy?” After all that work, you’re left the naughty one who Santa punished. Don’t let that happen. Fill your sock to the brim. Go wild. Treat yourself. Let Santa give what you really want.Good luck!
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Dancing Mom

dancingmom

by Lindsay Gallagher on 01/25/2013

In December I took my first ballet class in 25 years.  I know, it’s a shocking number.  Mind boggling, really, but true.  A couple of months before that, I started getting into ballet-shape in Marat’s Stretch and Conditioning class.  Marat Daukeyev is the director of Tess’s ballet school.  He was a principal dancer with the Kirov Ballet.  The class is so hard for me that I always think at least one time during the hour and a half that I will pass-out, throw-up or never walk again.  But if Marat tells me to keep stretching, I stretch.  “It’s good,” he says as he pulls my leg over my head.  “You do it. See.”

All that toe pointing and turning out and knee straightening feels delicious after fighting the impulse for so many years.  Sports just don’t call for straight knees or an arched back.  “There are no plies in tennis,” I have often been scolded by tennis pros.  Not to mention: “Bend your knees!”  And:  “No lunging.”

After several stretch classes I started daring myself to attempt a real ballet class.  I’ve been watching Tess and the other girls for years – could I tendu?  Could I jete?   In December, my curiosity–and masochism–got me into a pair of ballet slippers.

“I’m going to take Vartan’s barre while you’re in class,” I told Tess one day.  “Is that okay?”

“I think it’s awesome.  Now I won’t just have a dance mom, I’ll have a dance mom.”

Awe.  So nice.  But what will she think when she sees me struggling at the barre??

And struggle I did.  It was alarmingly hard and terrifying too, like a snowboarding down a double black diamond.  Kicking and pointing and turning and balancing — wild ride.

“I didn’t embarrass you?” I asked Tess.  I’m sure I embarrassed several of the girls who looked in on me — what is Tess’s mom doing in tights???   I was mortified for Tess.

“No,” she said, “I thought you looked good.”

God bless her!

It’s been over a month, and I’m soldiering on.  Not sure why really.   I’m compelled to keep trying, no matter how silly I look, right there in the middle of Tess’s dance studio, with a messy pony tail – God forbid – and a goof ball smile on my exhausted face.  Tess showed up mid-class again today.

“You can learn a lot from watching all of my mistakes,” I said to her after I bowed to beloved Miss Hasmik who has been teaching Tess since she was five and teaches the Thursday night adult class.

“Yes, I sure can,” she said, “No offense.”

None taken.

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Dance Mom

dancemom

 

by Lindsay Gallagher on 01/17/2013

 

 

For some reason, since the start of the spring semester at ballet, Tess has been down on herself.  It’s a bummer.  She had a great Nutcracker, got a good part, had the time of her life, now she comes out of class saying her teacher doesn’t like her.

“She wants you to work hard, but I know she likes you,” I said.

“Not anymore,” Tess said.

I don’t want to sit outside of class, on the floor, peeking through a half-closed door.  It hurts my neck and makes me feel seasick.  There isn’t an observation room like at Abby Lee’s. (Thankfully our moms are not insane or even catty — I really enjoy them — but if we’re going to hang out and sew pointe shoes and gossip, I’d prefer to do it at the bar down the block).  Anyway, I was curious to see what Tess was talking about, so I went.  She was working hard and even got a couple “goods,” which are like gold nuggets to ballet students, zero-calorie chocolate bars.

“You looked great,” I said when she lugged her enormous bag through the jammed door.

“No, my ribs are too big.  I have a swayed back.  I look fat.”

Oh no!

“You’re not fat.  That’s ridiculous.  You’re just standing wrong.”

“What?” she said, eyes spewing tears.

“You can fix your ribs.  That’s easy .”

“No I can’t.  It’s nature.”

I think what I’m supposed to do is tell her that she’s perfect and wonderful and that the teacher loves her because she’s so perfect and wonderful.  She is perfect and wonderful and I love her, but she was standing wrong.

“You need to squeeze your butt.  Tuck it under.  You lock your knees which makes your butt sick out which makes your ribs look big.”

Tess was appalled.  Mortified.  “Why are you being so mean?”

“I’m not being mean – I’m helping.  I can help.  Let me help.”

Joe can do this with Ronan at the batting cages:  turn in your front leg, don’t choke up on the bat, use your legs – apparently ballet is different.  We can tell Ronan to play catch every day, but it feels creepy to force my daughter to say, stretch, even though, honestly, she should stretch.

“You need to make me stretch,” she said the other day in the car.

“I tell you you should stretch all the time.”

“You tell me I should stretch, but you don’t make me do it.”  She was mad.  And we were listening to the Disney channel.

“I don’t want to be one of those crazy dance moms.”

“But I want you to be one of those crazy dance moms.”

Be careful what you wish for.

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Resolution

by Lindsay Gallagher on 01/5/2013

I know, you’ve heard it before, but if at first you can’t succeed, try try again and again and again.  My New Year’s resolution is to quit cursing — again.  Truly, I can’t explain my inability to stop.  Perhaps it’s the cuss-ers texting while the light changes, or maybe it’s the cuss-heads who left a bag of broken rotten eggs on my stoop. (We learned this “cuss” trick from Fantastic Mr. Fox. ”You should use ‘cuss’ instead of the word, like Mr. Fox does, Mom.”)  Because when something breaks or crashes or smells, or when someone is too slow or too fast or too rude (I can handle a little rude, just not too rude), the expletives fly.  When I read the text Tess sent to Joe from her new metallic purple slide phone which she got from Santa but has no data plan (because Santa’s helper isn’t a cuss-ing idiot), I realized that I really should try harder to change my ways:

resolution

While I’m certain that Tess was indeed correct in her assessment of the situation and was impressed by both her brevity and the use of “an” versus “a,” that word simply does not become my child (though it obviously reflects upon her mother).  The only choice I have is to incorporate some less foul descriptions into my own vocabulary, like “total jerk,” or my father’s favorite: “cretin.”  The trouble is that both of those words imply stupidity, which would work for the imbecile texting driver or that dolt riding into traffic on a bicycle at night without a helmet, but not the pig with the two giant pit bulls who leaves steaming piles of dog poop on my parkway.  I want to use a foul word just thinking about that guy.   “Mean” is the closest I can think of for the older-brother treatment Tess was referring to, but I also infer a hint of obnoxious and lazy and selfish probably, too.  Does a worthy synonym for Tess’s word exist??  If you have ideas, please share.  It’s going to take a village.

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After School Activity Contract

afterschoolcontract

by Lindsay Gallagher on 09/24/2012

I haven’t blogged in a while.  I haven’t had the time or the energy or the brainpower.  One thing that sapped me of much of my mojo was the transition from summer to fall.  I was terrified of what was coming: spending literally thousands of dollars on my children’s after-school activities only to have them fuss and cry and beg.  Why bother?  Why would I willingly throw so much money at something like ballet when Tess has a diva fit every single time she has to put her hair in a bun?

“If you don’t like hairpins and hair nets, quit.  Ballet is not for everyone.  There are lots of other things you can do.”

“But I LOVE ballet,” Tess cried.

“Are you sure about baseball?” I confronted Ronan.  ”You’re on the 12Us now.  It’s a lot of hours and it’s hot out there.  You have to get up early on weekends for games.  Do you really want to do it?  It has to be your choice.”

“Baseball is my life,” Ronan said.

“Then you need to really care.  I can’t spend all this money and time and effort and feel like I’m forcing it on you.   You have no idea how lucky you are.”

When I was on Tess’s ballet school’s website, I was paralyzed – how could I willingly submit myself to another year of Nutcracker exhaustion plus four classes a week?   And what about swim team?  At this age, Ronan has a 2 1/2 hour practice every day except Sunday.  I could already hear him telling me he’s too tired, or that he has too much homework or that, God forbid, it’s butterfly day.

So I came up with a plan.  I wrote up a contract with line items like: I will not complain about my hair; I will not try to get out of practice.  There are consequences and goals on the list as well as the dollar amount for each endeavor and the limits to what I will spend.  For instance, I will agree to purchase cleats, but if Ronan wants the fancy Nikes, the logo will be at his own expense.  Two leotards and two pairs of tights were included – matching knitted booty shorts were not.  There were line items about manners, too.  They had to agree to be polite to whoever has the pleasure of driving them to or from practice or rehearsal or games.  They had to promise to respect their classmates and teammates, instructors and coaches by not goofing off or complaining or being a brat.  “You’re not toddlers anymore.”

This was one of those wonderful win-win moments because if they refused to sign, I would be freed from miles of driving and hours of waiting and watching and sewing and fretting.  And think of the money we would save.

Ronan and Tess sat with solemn expressions and initialed and signed, agreeing to hand over their iphones or itouches whenever I asked because owning those devices is a privilege not a right.  They agreed to do their homework and get good grades or else they would no longer be allowed to participate.  I read it all out loud.  I even asked Joe to listen and sign so we were all on the same page.  It was like a post 2008 refi:  initial here, and here, and here….

But it was worth it!

Since the contract Tess has done her own hair and not complained one time about how hard it is to put on tights or how much the pins hurt her scalp.  She seems quite freed actually and is always excited to go.  This past Saturday she confessed:  ”Since I’ve been doing my own hair and not worrying about how wiggly the bun is, I feel more connected to ballet.”

Ronan claims he loves the new swim team and has even added a third sport – lacrosse – to his week.  He’s been amped for baseball practices and has done all of his homework without a single complaint.

It’s like a holiday, Christmas in September.  Kids who collect their own gear and move their asses and give a shit.  Hallelujah!

Aside from my refi, that was the best contract I’ve signed in years.

I’ll let you know how long it lasts.

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Failing

failing

by Lindsay Gallagher on 03/27/2012

Sorry guys, I have no choice, the time has come for me to let you fail.

I’m talking to my kids, of course, the ones who forget their lunches and homework assignments, lose their sweatshirts and inhalers and shorts.   Since both schools and all their activities are relatively nearby, I have always been able to swoop in and rescue them from hunger or embarrassment, bringing that lunch box that was left on the counter, that PE shirt that was still in the drawer.  I’ve brought homework packets that were finished in a rush at the breakfast table, only to be abandoned next to a half eaten plate of eggs; I’ve purchased new ballet slippers when the old one were not in the ballet bag.  I’m the worst!  So I am going to reform.  Or at least try.  I have been working on other things and not writing this blog.  I don’t have time to write entire essays on my sucky parenting skills, so I thought I would pin-point my biggest shortcoming.  My kids are young enough to survive a bad grade, hardy enough to go without one meal (and friendly enough to score an otherwise unwanted apple from a pal).  If the punishment for no PE shirt is 10 laps or a 100 push ups, then so be it.  If Tess has to miss recess to finish her reading log, that’s one less 1/2 hour of Beliebing for her.  If Ronan forgets his swim cap at a meet, I guess he’ll just have to swim with extra drag on his head, even if it costs him a new personal best.

Just writing this gives me the chills.  I am as doubtful of my resolve as I am certain that it will be put to the test.  Maybe if I check in here, I will stick to it.  I will get the support I need to stop over-supporting my kids.

Yesterday, I told Ronan that it was bad parenting:  reminding him, prodding him and helping him the way I do.

“At some point, I’m not going to be able to help you.  I’m going to have to let you fail,” I said.

“But you would never do that to me,” he said.

Sorry buddy, but it’s for your own good.  It’s true, that in the end, he may be right, I may be too weak, so for the next few weeks or months or however long I can stand it, I will try to blog about this.   Please share your super-mom stories, the times that you’ve flown in to save the day.  Or the real super-mom stories, when you let your kids learn from their mistakes.

Day 1:

Ronan left his favorite sweatshirt on the floor and the puppy chewed a hole in it.  If I had not told him 100 times to pick up his stuff, had not warned him that the puppy eats things, this would not be as big of a dilemma.  He even helped pay for this sweatshirt with his allowance.  Now I can’t get him a new one, even though I really really  want to.  Ugh!

PS: I found my ring!  It was in the bins in the kitchen where we keep the sports gear.  I offered $20 to each child if either one of them found it, but they weren’t motivated to look for more than a minute or two.  It took me 3 weeks to get to that bin, but it was there all along.  I am wearing the engagement ring on the inside from now on.  😉

 

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Lost

lost1

by Lindsay Gallagher on 03/2/2012

One thing no one prepared me for about motherhood (or adulthood and marriage for that matter), was the endless looking for lost things.   I have spent years searching under sofa cushions, running up and down stairs, braving the disgusting underbelly of my car for binkies, blankies, Lego figures, earrings, barretts, remotes, Go-gos, sunglasses, wallets, $20 bills, ribbons, gift cards – keys!  It’s endless.  If I consolidated all the minutes I spend each day hunting, I would easily have time to earn a doctorate.

On Super Bowl Sunday, Ronan lost his iPhone. I had seen it in his hands during the game, so we figured it had to be inside.  Still, we tore apart every inch of the house to no avail.  Ronan’s pal said he saw Ronan put it “By the frog,” which is in our inglenook.  I looked under the frog, on top of the frog, inside the cabinet that held the frog – nothing.

“Would you mind sending him over tonight?” I broke down and called his mom after two weeks had passed and ATT&T had explained that the 3Gs I’d purchased for $35 would cost $500 to replace.

The pal walked in and he and Ronan found the phone within 30 seconds. (Under the runner under the frog)  I hugged the boys.  I jumped up and down.  I had looked in that spot a hundred times, but I didn’t care about all the wasted hours – I was so relieved that the mystery was solved and that Ronan could once again text me when he rode his bike to school.  Joy!

But happiness in my world of lost things was short lived.  Three nights ago I looked down at my left hand and saw something I haven’t seen in 18 years – a ring finger wearing only a wedding band.  It took me a few seconds to realize what that meant:  my engagement ring had slipped off and I had no idea when or where.  I tried not to panic, I had just changed into PJs, I had been running and playing with Ronan downstairs, it’s a chunky ring, it should be easy to spot.  I hoped to find it as soon as I started to look.

“If you didn’t hear it drop, then it must have fallen on a carpet?” Ronan said.

So I crawled across every area rug in my house, shone my iPhone flashlight into the crevices and corners of every room.  Finally, I collapsed even further onto the floor and wept.

“I lost my ring,” I called Joe on the set and cried into the phone.

“What?” What do you mean?”

“It just slipped off.  I don’t know where.  It’s gone.”

“My mother always wore her wedding band on the outside for that reason,” he said.

“The wedding band is supposed to be closer to the heart,” I sobbed, remembering that I had noticed it was loose a few days before and even considered making the switch. What kind of fool cares about silly traditions like that when there’s a diamond involved?  What kind of fool doesn’t do something when she notices the ring is loose?  How could it have just slipped off my hand??

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It’s been three days.  I’ve retraced my steps.  I’ve checked though the clothes I was wearing, I’ve looked down all the drains.  I’ve made phone calls and sent emails.  I’ve sorted through the trash – twice.  I rented a metal detector, but there’s just too much metal inside of a house for that to work.  I keep telling myself that I would have noticed it missing during the hand-intensive ordeal of cooking dinner and cleaning the kitchen.  Tess had strep – again – so I had been zealously washing my hands all night.  I typed and played the piano – wouldn’t I have noticed that my ring wasn’t there?

While looking for my ring, I’ve turned up two long lost army knives, one which had been at the bottom of a suitcase for over a year, the dental floss that eluded me all last week, and a lovely bar of Hermés soap .  But still, no ring.

I am not taking it well.  I am not manning up.  I have this awful feeling all the time, even the minute I wake up.  And I’m constantly reminded by my half-dressed hand.  Yesterday morning, Ronan suggested we look in the dining room built-in, so he and Tess and I got back down on our knees.  When it wasn’t there, they hugged me while I cried.

“At least you still have Ronan and me,” Tess said, which is of course true.  It’s ridiculous that I am so devastated over a ring.  But I was 24 when Joe gave it to me and I’ve worn it almost every day ever since.  My mother made it for me and I love it so much.  It’s only a thing, but what a precious thing.  The way it cast rainbows all over a room.  I loved to just stare at it, think about how diamonds are forever.  It might be shallow of me, but that ring brought me a lot of joy.  I miss it and I dread the thought that I might never see it again.

I keep remembering this one time Ronan lost a metal James “collectors” Thomas Train that had been his cousin Sean’s.  The red paint was all chipped, the wheels were out of whack, but Ronan adored it.  He carried it with him everywhere, even slept with it in his crib.  Then one day, when I was unloading him from his car-seat at our old house on Gower Street, we both realized, with genuine horror, that James had not made it home with the groceries.

“I was just there with my little boy and he must have dropped his toy train in the grocery cart, would you please look?” I pleaded to the Trader Joe’s employee who answered the phone.  With the receiver pressed to my face, I tried to unload the frozen food before it melted.  Ronan sat on the floor crying: “James! James!”

“I found it,” the man said, like an angel.  ”It was out in the parking lot.”

“They have it!  It’s there,” I squealed, knowing that I had dodged a terrible bullet, that I could restore my baby’s happiness just by driving back to the store.

Now I’m praying to Saint Anthony, the patron saint of lost things, for myself and not my kids.  I can’t search anymore.  It’s too maddening – no matter where I look, it isn’t there.  Of course, I will survive.  It’s only a ring.  I have my family and my health and so much to be thankful for.  I know, I know, I know.  But I’m so frustrated that I have spent so much time looking for things, that I never put my keys in the same place, that I didn’t move my engagement ring to the inside.   As the hours pass, I feel like it’s that much more lost, like the little red train, had I not called that instant, it would never have been found.

Saint Anthony, who received from God the special power of restoring lost things, grant that I may find my engagement ring which has been lost.  As least restore to me peace and tranquility of mind, the loss of which has afflicted me even more than my material loss.

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Shit Mothers Say in LA

shitpeoplesaytoponly

by Lindsay Gallagher on 01/31/2012

I just watched a very funny video on YouTube: Shit People Say in LA.  It was right on, but the two women were in their 20s and they didn’t have kids, so I decided to make a list of my own:

SHIT MOTHERS SAY IN LA

  • I just loved prenatal yoga with Gurmukh.
  • Our doula was the best photographer.
  • I had natural childbirth.
  • I had a home birth.
  • We vaccinated, but we waited 6 months and we broke up the MMR.
  • My pediatrician says if you’re gonna give your kid juice you might as well give them a soda.
  • I drank so much last night I had to pump and dump.
  • It’s Reggio.
  • Our pre-school teaches Shakespeare.
  • We could only live in a walking neighborhood.
  • I just dropped off the kids in my pajamas.
  • Yes, she’d love to have a playdate, but do you have an extra car-seat?
  • And that’s just for tuition — you’re also expected to give.
  • Our nanny only speaks Spanish to our kids.
  • Don’t worry, he’s not contagious anymore.
  • Our earthquake kit is due tomorrow.
  • Does that car come with a third row?
  • Wine messes with my sinuses so I only drink tequila.
  • Would you drive tonight?
  • Except for bacon, my daughter is a total vegetarian.
  • My daughter is a pescatarian.
  • If we get four boys together, they can share an hour golf lesson.  And we can carpool!
  • He’s a Leo and a Golden Dragon.
  • Her dad is that guy on that TV show.
  • We just put in a saline pool.
  • At that school the kids say things like:  “We never fly commercial.”
  • Do you think it’s asthma?  Maybe we should move to the beach — the air is so much better there.
  • My husband is on location so it’s like I’m a single parent.
  • LAUSD just cut another week of school.
  • We’re making an effort to do more cultural things.
  • I hate 3D.  It gives me a headache.
  • I’m so psyched they’re opening a Baby Cakes on Larchmont.
  • I can’t have lunch, I’m volunteering in the garden.
  • I wouldn’t mind getting a small B.
  • It’s a gel manicure.
  • You should take lessons at The Silverlake Conservatory.  I heard it was started by one of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
  • We’re soooo overscheduled.
  • You know me – I never complain.
  • Going on auditions is like an after school activity for us.
  • Her first choice is USC, but we really want her to go to college back east.

 

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Happy Meal

happymeal

by Lindsay Gallagher on 01/23/2012

The other night I attended a ladies-night/40th birthday dinner at nearby Café Gratitude. Has a dorky name and it’s vegan. The dishes have names like I AM HUMBLE, I AM TRUTHFUL and I AM EXTRODINARY, which makes it pretty embarrassing to order. I am not a vegan. I had a burger the same day for lunch. But I like the birthday girl and salad and believe it or not, that was not my first time at Café Gratitude, so I wasn’t surprised when the crunchy waiter threw out the thought for the day:

“Name a dream of yours that has come true?”

Of course, my head first filled with the dreams that haven’t come true, but that wasn’t the question.  These folks wanted me to think positive thoughts; they wanted me to be “grateful.”  Fine, if I must.

“I have my babies,” I said, “I’m married and I have two kids.  That was a big dream of mine.”  Some might think that that isn’t such a special dream.  It’s hardly uncommon.  But it was a dream and it came true. (The fact that I’ve been married more than 13 years – a family milestone – was another facet of the dream that came true five years ago)

Most of the moms at that dinner agreed that this was a dream of theirs, too.

“I always dreamed of having a dog and now I have one,” the mom next to me said.  She had been whispering about meat and vodka throughout the meal.

“I also dreamed of having a dog,” I said.  Rescuing Marley, then Pepper and now Flowers deserves to be on the list.

I could dwell on the dreams that haven’t come true – Lord knows some days I do, but this was so much more fun.  Since then I have thought of many small dreams, everyday something new occurs to me and makes me smile.

  1.  I fell in love with skiing and then snowboarding in my 20s.  I used to say to Joe, who like me, was an assistant cameraperson at the time, that I hoped we could still go to the mountains once we had kids, that we would have enough money to bring them along.  In the dream, I am a hugely successful screenwriter, earning enough to whisk us all off on fab vacays.  Obviously, it didn’t all come true – we use points for the hotel room instead of those buckets of cash I envisioned and save with a season pass – but every time I am on that hill with the kids – even when they are driving me nuts– I am living my dream.  (There was another part of that dream – windsurfing.  But since the kids were born, each of the four times I’ve windsurfed, I spent the entire session dreaming – praying really – that I would not drown, so I’m happy to let that one go)
  2.  When we first moved to LA we fell in love with craftsman houses.  We bought a dumpy colonial revival fixer that had been stripped of whatever charm it might have once had.  Room by room, we redid that house over 4 1/2 years, adding built-ins and tile, trying to create a craftsman feel.  All the while I would walk around my neighborhood with Marley, then Ronan and Marley, then Tess, Ronan and Marley, admiring the craftsman houses and dreaming that one day we would live in one.  Then I ran into my realtor – one of those gems was for sale.

“The house on the corner of First?” I said, running to my car.  I had only seen it from the outside, but I could tell it was a treasure.

Honestly, the house has been a lot of work, and maybe now there are days that I long for a modern Dwell abode without dusty moldings or creaky floors, but I dreamed of a craftsman and a craftsman I have.

  1.  Staying home with the kids.  Crazy one, I know, but true.  There are probably more days that I feel like a servant than a dreamer.  Maybe I should haul my kids over to Café Gratitude for an order I AM FULLFILLED.
  2.  Last summer I finally got to see Sade live, in a theater packed with super-fans like I am, who knew all the words to every song.  Every minute of that night I acknowledged that it was a dream come true.  I bought my tickets the second they went on sale and it’s a good thing because they were sold out in under ten minutes.  I had to pinch myself as Sade belted out “Smooth Operator,” “Sweetest Taboo” and all her songs that have provided a large chunk of the soundtrack to my life.
  3.  Since I was a sophomore in high school, I had wanted to go to Jamaica, so had Joe, but we had never gone and before we booked the trip, it felt like it was too late. I am so glad the opportunity arose and that we remembered how much it mattered to us and made it come true.  “We have to go – it’s Jamaica.”  Being there made me feel like I was 16 when I first dreamed of visiting the birthplace of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Steele Pulse…  It was sheer bliss.  Every day.  Every night.  I never stopped smiling once.  I caught myself skipping more than a few times.

I know these aren’t earth shattering or Nobel Prize winning, but apparently neither am I.  The food at Café Gratitude made me feel bloated and uncomfortably full, but that thought of the day has kept me counting my blessings, singing Sade and reggae, appreciating my family, my dogs (one just peed on the rug!) and my money-pit house.  That’s got to be a good thing.

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New Year’s Letter

newyearsletter

by Lindsay Gallagher on 01/4/2012

Yesterday I took down the Christmas tree, which as always, made me teary and nostalgic, not only for three weeks ago when we hung the ornaments, but for all the Christmases those ornaments had survived, relics from my childhood even, which when pulled from that brittle dead tree, cast a spell that sent me back, rapid pace, through the years.  I’m such a sap.

I was going to take down all the decorations, but got caught up reading the holiday cards instead.

First, I would like to thank everyone who sent us one this year.  I truly enjoy seeing all of your faces smiling at us for the weeks that they are displayed on our mantle.  Everyone looks great, btw.  Your kids sure have grown.  Goodness.  And some of you are so witty.  Really, I mean that.  You know who you are.   It’s particularly nice to get cards from old friends who I never see, who live on the other coast and whose path I would otherwise never cross.  Thank you for including us in your mailing list.

I always make my card — picture on the front, brief greeting inside — but I have never written an end-of-year-summery-letter to catch everyone up on our fabulous lives.

Here goes:

Dear friends,

2011 was filled with surprises and milestones.  Law and Order Los Angeles was cancelled after only one season, making it the first in its historic franchise not to be syndicated.  Personally, I gave up when they killed cute Skeet Ulrich, even though they’d squandered his charms on a bland character that was the married father of three.  I mean, if I’m up past my bedtime, please give me Skeet as the sexy bad boy that made him famous in Scream.  On the bright side, Joe enjoyed his 3 1/2 month sojourn in Chicago, sullied though it was by hysterical phone calls from his wife.

Tess added fried calamari to the short list of foods she will eat.  Strange item, but it allows us to order out from my favorite Thai restaurant.  She also admitted that the reason she won’t eat something that has shared a plate with ketchup is because she is afraid that if she tastes it, she might like it after all.  At school she is focusing on not singing Adelle songs during math class.  She continues to struggle with managing her accessories, but is doing much better now that her teacher has confiscated all but a few headbands.

Ronan started clipping his own fingernails and even does his homework now without a fuss.  He loved The Hunger Games series, (so did I), but hard as I try to explain the war metaphors, he thinks 24 kids fighting to their deaths sounds “really awesome.”  At home, he is working on picking up his shit, but is not excelling.  While ignoring the Legos, pajamas and wet towels cluttering his room, Ronan successfully cracked into my iTunes account and purchased 3 months allowance worth of make-believe gold.  Ironically, that forced him to take a real job at the Gallagher Household literally picking up shit – as in the dog poop in our backyard.

As for me, I started out the year with a bang, working on that sorry novel of mine with an editor.  I stalled out half way through the rewrite for a number of reasons, one of which I am sure was the fact that I finally figured out how to watch Netflix via our Wii.  This was indeed a tech breakthrough for me and has given me thousands of excuses for never doing anything but watch TV.

Best news of all is that we are now one year older.   🙂

Happy New Year!

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