My Better Half

The evolution of keeping secrets

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Have you noticed that as kids grow, it gets trickier to have a private conversation with your spouse? Even if it’s not a particularly adult topic, you never know what kids are going to retain and repeat. And who wants to be responsible for spoiling a surprise party because your 6-year-old overheard you ordering the cake?

It’s not much easier as they get older. Somehow my children are deaf to repeated requests to Get off the computer NOW and set the table, yet the moment I try to dish about the latest nonsense on the neighborhood listserv, the kids are all ears. I also find myself censoring many topics that I simply don’t want to explain. I know, for example, that the second they hear me gushing about an Amy Schumer video they will head straight to their pal Google. And as funny as Amy is, I really don’t want to be the parent who introduces the 5th grade class to “The Last Fuckable Day.”

Over the years, our coping strategies have evolved from adorable language play to ever-changing passwords and hazy, unfinished discussions. They are imperfect strategies at best and (surprise) the kids are adapting faster than we are. Who knows what’s next...I’m just hoping my husband and I don’t have to take an Espionage 101 class or get on Snapchat just to exchange crude jokes.

Age 1: Spelling. “It’s time to start her B-A-T-H...”

Age 2: Blundered sign language. “I’m spelling shot, not shop! We’re going to the pediatrician for crying out loud.”

Age 3: Pig Latin. “Oh I can’t stand that busybody neighbor! She is such an itchbay.”

Age 4: Vaguespeak. “I heard you-know-who is looking for another job doing you-know-what in you-know-where.”

Age 5: Using big, semi-foreign words. “Remember that overseas spousal rendezvous, sans chicos, we talked about? Call su madre and let’s make that happen.”

Age 6: Kitchen whispering. “Shh...They are being so sweet. Don’t breathe or they will start fighting again.”

Age 7: Facial gestures.  “No...(eyebrow raise) that was Santa who bought that gift for him, not us.”

Age 8: Advanced facial gestures. “...” (slightly wrinkled forehead, imperceptible shake of the head.)

Age 9: Emails. “We need to talk about gift ideas. Log on to Amazon and check my cart. Then destroy all evidence of this email!”

Age 10: Texts. “You wouldn’t believe the ducking day I’ve had!” ... “Ugh, autocorrect!”

Age 11: Texts with auto preview disabled. “Oh, another group text arrived? Why am I laughing already? Call it a hunch.”

Age 12: Babysitters. “We just paid $60 to walk three blocks to a restaurant and discuss parent-teacher conferences.”

Age 13: Pillow talk. “Hey, wake up. I’m not done talking about...oh wait, never mind. I can’t even remember now.”

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How do you sneak in adult-friendly conversations at your house? Any tricks to share?

On target

You can take away the iPhone and the Angry Birds, but you can't take away a boy's need to hurl things through the air with only the sheer force of his creativity.

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Like this post? You'll probably dig this one or this one. Oh, and definitely this one.

Forget me not

So, Hubs has been traveling a lot with work, which is really super fantastic because it gives me all kinds of fodder for blog posts but little time to actually put it in writing. But who am I to complain? After all, it's not total fun and games for Hubs either. He's working nonstop, sleeping in a quiet kid-free room alone, and missing the warmth and chaos comfort of home.

Yet somehow, we persevere...and I think it has something to do with a family tradition that, though started quite accidentally, keeps us connected while apart. It all began years ago, back when we were a family of four, not five. One early morning Hubs was trying to navigate his way out the door, shuffling through kids and dogs with his briefcase, tiny suitcase and even tinier shampoo bottles when Rascal bolted after him. Pushing a vintage Star Wars guy into his palm, he implored, "Take Droid with you and think of me!"

Naturally, this sent Doodlebug into complete hysterics because obviously "Daddy is not going to think of me! Quick, what can I give him??" Deaf to words like rush-hour traffic and freaking ridiculous security lines, she raced through the house in search of something, anything. She returned with a small plastic Hippo. Phew! Now he would, as the kids carefully repeated, remember to remember us.

And who would have guessed, but it actually worked! And we are still getting the postcards to prove it....

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Predictions for 2012

That the new year will be filled with more magic, but only if nobody pokes an eye out.*   *   *

That our next whoopie cushion will last just barely longer than 24 hours. *   *   *

That the obnoxious "whee-hoo-whee-hoo-whee-hoo" guns from Grandma will accidentally get thrown out with the gift wrapping trash. *   *   *

That, if kept in the right hands, the portable megaphone will prove to be the most practical Christmas gift ever. Happy New Year!

Sunday Grace

Family, what are you thankful for today? Highlights from this week:

3D movies Blueberry muffins Leaf blowers Air conditioning (me too! me too! me too!) Nice swim break with Smiley Paper towel hats Record-breaking easy trip to shoe store Colorful dinner Funny videos My ridiculous brother, Smiley Peach season Golden full moon Dryer is fixed Evening swims A productive day Agua fresca Pizza Haircuts "What??" imitations Got to see Pop today Yes, Pop! Pop! Pop! Balloon rockets Creamed corn Swimming pools Wonderful Dads!

Happy Father's Day to all you Dads out there!

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Sunday Grace, our family gratitude journal, is updated weekly. Read the entire series here.

Just shoot me

My camera, not pictured above, is on the fritz. This is good and bad news. Bad because I don't have time to write 1,000 words every time I want to capture a moment. Good because maybe just maybe I can justify buying an upgrade once I figure out what's going on with my ailing Rebel.

In the meantime, I've been documenting the everyday with my iPhone.

Some recent highlights from our world:

Rascal's DS got out of timeout. We are all overjoyed.

I got a pedicure to match my favorite chair.

Doodlebug got a new coat that's as sassy as she is.

Hubby found someone to appreciate his pumpkin stacking talents.

Smiley perfected his bell-ringing skills, much to the delight of neighbors.

We all survived last week, which was busting at the seams with class projects, cake decorating contests, school carnival and, of course, Halloween.

Our costumes? Well, the kids had been all set until an hour before trick-or-treating. Then Hubby and I pulled out the costume box to figure out what we were going to wear...and suddenly the living room was a pile of wigs, beads, pleather jackets, capes, tails and hats. And what emerged: a Jonas brother, a skunk, a cowboy who refused to wear a single piece of his costume, a punk witch and "Rascal's embarrassing Dad." I'll let you figure out that last one on your own.

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