The Brody Bunch – I Need A Time Out


“Man Cave”. Hiding Space.  MY Space. My Time Out.

It was a long time before I was discovered “hiding” in the bathroom.  I have a great set up: a seat (other than the toilet), nutrition bars for sustenance, and a cup for water. The air conditioning is strong, the heat is comfortable, and the WiFi is reliable. There is even a soothing fan humming in the light fixture which is zen like in keeping out the occasional “MOM, I NEED….” problems simply because I cannot hear them.  If I plan ahead, I bring in fresh coffee.  On occasion I have searched Amazon, while in the bathroom, so that I could purchase a Keurig machine for my bathroom. I drink my coffee black so this is a real possibility since milk refrigeration is a non issue.  A coffee machine in the bathroom, brilliant!  I am so easy to please.  I created what society recognizes as a “Man’s Cave” for myself and it’s MY space. The Brody Bunch is an intense and loud group and sometimes I need a time out.  And, sometimes, during my time out, I look at old digital pictures, listen to my favorite music, watch This is Us or read trash websites. Most of the time, I reflect and find the humor in the moment and blog, post, document and share it.

The Brody Bunch is Banished from the Master Bathroom

I banished my entire family, the whole Brody Bunch, from the master bedroom bathroom. I can’t remember if empty toilet paper rolls, pee pee on the floor, the toilet not flushed, or my empty shampoo bottles pushed me over the edge.  But I banished everyone, including my husband, from using this bathroom.  My dirty clothes are no longer commingled with sweaty workout clothes or grass stained baseball pants. Though, now I do own that the hairs on the floor are my own. Once in a while I clean up their bathroom but complain minimally as to not encourage any of them to creep back into my bathroom.  

I Accidentally Announced My Brilliant Idea on Facebook

A lot of quiet time went by with me in the bathroom.  I would announce that I had to go to the bathroom and that was it!  After many successful breaks in the bathroom, I erred with a Facebook posting when I announced during a blizzard, that all was going well because my family thought I was in the bathroom, constipated.  However, I had snacks and was really watching a movie online.  Also, I might have had a mini, or two, and my husband was checking Facebook.  Thanks to Jose Cuervo and Facebook, I outed myself.

Rule Breakers, Evidence Left Behind

I try not complaining when evidence appears in my “Cave” such as the toilet seat is left up, someone cut their nails over the sink, or toilet paper is depleted. While clues are obvious that a Brody Bunch member crossed into the land of my sanity, I can’t give into their bad coverups of using my bathroom, because I am afraid they will freely use the amenities rather than sneak an occasional visit. Yes, they are rule breakers, I am okay with rule breakers, but it gets on my nerves. This unspoken bathroom battle lives on because I have nowhere else to hide and rejuvenate from the Brody Bunch.  

The Brody Bunch – A(nother) Teenager. Love & Lessons

Blanche made this in Kindergarten.
I bought this for Blanche’s 13th birthday.

A Wild and Free Spirit

Blanche, my first daughter, is going to be a teenager within days. She is wild and free. She has been practicing the part for a long time. The tween years are slowly killing me, and it’s not her fault. There are four siblings each one year apart and the whole Bunch is in the puberty years. Brody Bunch birthdays are in progress and by Thanksgiving, the Bunch will be 11, 12, 13 and 14 years old. This is not for the weak. I have a sense of humor, selective hearing, and a short term memory.

Blanche’s birthday falls during Jewish day of Atonement, ironic. Yet, I look at this beautiful child, beautiful on the outside, and more beautiful on the inside, I am distracted by her gorgeous hair which she defied me with and dyed it blue using Kool Aid. Thankfully, she already had her Bat Mitzvah last month and our family photos do not show evidence of her rebellion. I should send her a thank you note. Nonetheless, I am learning a lot through Blanche.

Life Lessons I Have Learned from My Daughter

So far, I have learned some important life lessons, in random order, by being Blanche’s Mom:

  1. Find Your Group of Weirdos, These are Your People. Blanche took this mantra and lives by it. She is right, she surrounds herself with creative, artsy, thoughtful people. IF I was her age, I would want to be one of her weirdos.
  2. Mix Up Your Art Supplies. I was floored when Blanche, at a young age, mixed up all of the separate beads into one bucket. Markers, pens, paint brushes, colored pencils, dice, who cares, let the shoe boxes overflow. Something great will be created. Especially with hot glue.
  3. Write, photograph, sing. Spend your time being creative, it is an outlet worth spending a lot of time. And, it is a gift to experience the journey and the outcomes.
  4. Say bad words if it enhances your story, but not when you are angry.
  5. Stand up for those who need your voice. Be at rallies, write letters, go to marches.
  6. Feed the hungry (she learned this genetically as her parents met doing this exact effort).
  7. Be engaged in the City: there is so much to see, learn and do!
  8. Love being in the ensemble. Not everyone can be the lead character, and the lead always needs an ensemble.
  9. You look good. Don’t worry what others think. It’s not too short, not too tight, etc. as long as your ass is covered and your boobs don’t show.
  10. Gratitude is easy. Don’t ask for things and be appreciative when you receive things.
  11. Even with an out of tune piano and broken guitar strings, you can still teach yourself, for hours, how to play instruments.
  12. It’s okay to wear your old Converse kicks with a dress, but giving in and wearing your gold sweater that matches your new dress, makes your Mom happy.
  13. Inviting your Mom to hang out with your friends especially at school dances and parties is awesome, as long as I know when it’s time to leave.

Regarding the photos above: Blanche at 5 made me one of the hearts.  And, I am giving her the companion heart when she turns 13.

Blanche made me the “I Love You” heart when she was in Kindergarten. I remember her hammering the nails when I volunteered in her classroom. This heart hangs in our foyer. Last night, about 7 years after receiving the heart from Blanche, I found this little heart, “You Are Loved” and knew right away that this was meant for me to give to Blanche on her birthday. These are companion pieces of art – just like Blanche and me. There is a lot of love that is woven in many directions.

The Brody Bunch – A New Year, Sweet and Chaotic and Full of Traditions

The Prayer Book

It is 5778, the Jewish New Year.  I read several times On Rosh Hashanah that it is written and on Yom Kippur it is sealed… how the year will be for us individually. We want to be sealed in the Book of Life.   It’s a time for reflection, prayer and giving to those in need.  Part of my nontraditional traditions for the Jewish New Year and every other holiday and event include: grocery shopping at several locations, realizing last minute that we don’t have appropriate synagogue clothing and shoes for all of the Brody Bunch, arguing about cleaning, and serving the same brisket dinner each and every year – even the kids at their young ages recognize that if there’s a holiday, there’s a brisket.  I had hoped that this year I would be more organized, but I was not.  Life got in the way.  My level of self created procrastination and things out of my control escalated my level of chaos, and I came out on top like a champ, I usually do. I like the chaos, I thrive on it, but it’s not for everyone, and it takes a toll on those around me, they are still neophytes.

First Night of the Holiday, Reminiscing of Past Gatherings and Siri Maps

We started the holiday Wednesday evening with an outdoor service and picnic dinner.  My family has been to this outdoor service each year since its inception about 12 years ago.  Usually, Mark (my husband for those of you new to the Brody Bunch Blog), the kids and my parents attend.  We are surrounded by a few thousand of our friends and their families. It is a very meaningful event, especially for our family.  We reminisce about family jokes such as the year my Dad (Freddie) brought an incredible deli spread with everything one could want (think Carnegie or Katz’s Deli in New York), and Mark complained about the mustard.  Freddie said, “Mark, we have about 6 mustards, mayo, horseradish, find something or pass.”  Mark said, “Well, I was hoping that we could have mustard that didn’t expire in back 1996.” That’s fair.  The mustard was about 4 years older than my youngest child who was about 8 years old at the time.  Then there was the time that Freddie grilled a London broil and we had a major gourmet meal.  And, my mom forgot to pack the cutlery.  Freddie didn’t slice the slab of meat and we had no utensils.  So, my Dad and went from family to family, wished them a happy and healthy New Year, and gathered one knife here and two more forks there.  This year, I was belted over laughing when this happened: “Rube (that’s what my dad calls me), I am fine.  I was lost but I am set.”  WTF, I am thinking in my head, we have been here for 12 years in addition to several concerts.  Freddie continued, “Well, Siri told me to go this way.  And, I did.  And, she said to look for parking and walk.  So I did. I parked. And I walked.  And then I realized I still had a long way to go.  So, I got back in the car and drove the rest of the way here.”  This story was told as Freddie is walking into the park grounds with three folding chairs and a large mescalin greens salad, which, he announced needed to be tossed.  Again, WTF?  I brought the main dinner, drinks, four folding chairs, a blanket, a soccer ball and the Brody Bunch was on my last nerves … toss the salad?  

Same Prayer with My Parents at Different Times – Tears

As services were underway, I sat on my folding chair in between my Dad and Mark. We sang a prayer called Avinu Malkeinu (Hebrew: אָבִינוּ מַלְכֵּנוּ‎‎; “Our Father, Our King”) a Jewish prayer recited during Jewish services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, as well on the Ten Days of Repentance from Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur.  Freddie, an established musician, and somewhat of a local celebrity, and I were singing the prayer in unison as part of the participating congregation.  I was holding back tears because I have memories of this annual service with my Mom and she always cries during this prayer.   This time, I held back tears because my Mom was not with us due to health issues.  And, I could see the Brody Bunch in the corner of my eyes – some participating and some giggling.

Making A Memory with My Youngest Son, Depending on Rocky to Keep Me on Schedule –  and I Knew How Many Hours Remained as We Moved Through Different Stages of our Holiday Plans

After services, it was time for bed.  But, I loved spending time with my youngest, Max, 10, still in the kitchen as he cut carrots for the brisket. Yup, we were still prepping a brisket at this point for dinner which was in 19 hours. I set my alarm clock to 1AM, which rings to the “Rocky” theme, so that I could pull the brisket out of the oven for Thursday Night’s Rosh Hashanah dinner.  After slicing the brisket until 1:45AM, I discovered that I forgot to order high holiday tickets for the service seating, which was 7 hours later.  Sigh, I had so much time to do that.  

Showtime – Getting Dressed Like It is a Fire Drill, A New Makeup User Wearing Sneakers and A Photo Shoot

I went back to bed and before I knew it, it was time to get up and ready for services.  It was at this point that I realized that we never put away dress clothes from Blanche’s Bat Mitzvah in August which would double up as this year’s high holiday outfits. Giving myself a break, her Bat Mitzvah was four weeks ago, but it seemed like a lifetime ago.  Anyway, we were smelling items, shaking out wrinkles, and hoping that we could share items from my magic closet.  It was a struggle, but this is also part of the tradition, and somewhat parallel to getting dressed during a fire drill.  Unprepared with what 6 people, four of whom are still growing, have to wear that is appropriate, comfortable and not a battle is the worst part of the day, and this is a happy day.  We had one defiant child absolutely refuse to get dressed for synagogue. I had to ignore my almost 13 year old who decided that today, of all days, would be a great day to start wearing makeup.  So, she was wearing the darkest lipstick and Adidas kicks with her high holiday dress.  Another part of the chaos is that I do a photo shoot before we leave for services.  There is bickering, but I have a photographic treasure of the annual holidays and traditions, and this is my expectation.

Traffic, Community and The Meaning of the Holiday Clicked For Me

High Holiday traffic in Baltimore trumps Thanksgiving traffic on the New Jersey turnpike, somewhat, use your imagination.  When we finally arrived at services, we saw lots of community friends and greeted each other for a happy and healthy New Year.  I recognized someone handling seating questions and apologized for my lack of planning. We were fortunate to secure three seats in a standing only Sanctuary, it felt like we needed a scalper for more seat options, but then again, I was seated when we weren’t getting up and sitting down repeatedly throughout the service.  I was grateful.   My daughters, wandered off and had their own “services” with lots of other kids in the hallways.  For the first time, the text that we read each year, FINALLY clicked for me. I sat in the service and reflected upon Teshuvah (repentance), Tefilla (prayer) and Tzedakah (righteousness or justice – giving to those in need) and annoyed that I could not locate the Brody Sisters, and was in self conflict because I was proud that they were together, despite not being where I wanted them to be in services with me.

Dr. Brown’s Diet Black Cherry Soda and Matzo

After our long morning of deprived sleep, getting dressed up, etc, I needed to get out alone. So, I made an emergency Dr. Brown’s diet black cherry replenish run for the Rosh Hashanah dinner. When I saw Passover matzo on sale, I helped the grocery store manager with placement and sales recommendations that Passover matzo, especially on sale, is irrelevant to the Jewish New Year. Look at me, I started the new year doing a Mitzvah, or being a maven, however you want to look at my effort.  

Napping and the Hermit Crab (see a previous blog) Disturbed my Rest & As Always I Think We Need More Food

Now, I needed a nap.  I was out like a light, and Rachel’s new hermit crab, SHELdon Brody started making noises in his Hermit Crab Hotel.  His scratching woke me up.  So, with about an hour left before this dinner, I called Mark with a menu report:  “We have matzo ball soup, potatoes, carrots, brisket, Caesar salad, challah, acorn squashes, fresh fruit and a large assortment of hors d’Oeuvres from Susan (my former step mother whom I love dearly) and I think I should make a few more vegetables.”  The homemade applesauce that Rachel, 11, made, had a hint of garlic to it because apparently I didn’t get all of the garlic out of the food processor from the brisket rub. Oh my goodness.  

The Second Night of Rosh Hashanah Falls on Shabbat (another Dinner) and the Chaos is Coming With Me!

We have enough leftovers that I don’t have to cook for the second night of Rosh Hashanah dinner, which also falls on Shabbat.  May we find love, laughter, good health, happiness and light on the first Shabbat of the New Year.

This year, I had a lot of personal reflections and recognized that aging parents changes the meaning of the holidays and the way the old chaos worked.  I also know that with a lot of love, the new chaos, some self created, and some life changes, works well, because I have a strong support system when it’s time to rise to the occasion.  At the first night of Rosh Hashanah dinner, Mark, my parents, Susan and I did lots of planning while the kids called their grandparents in Pittsburgh and Aunts and Uncles have been called over the past few days, family is what this is all about.  

Intellectually, I recognize that I shouldn’t be rushing and unorganized during holidays but I do enjoy the mishigas (the craziness) and I already brought that into the New Year, with the help of the Brody Bunch.  From my family to your family, may it be a sweet New Year for all!

The Brody Bunch – The Wallet


“The Difference Between Man and Animal is the Ability to Accessorize” said someone

No one has better accessories than my mom. Bangles, bracelets, sunglasses, scarves, hats, purses and wallets. OMG I just realized that I accessorize like her.  Her acquired collection is comprised of finds from the old Baltimore Field’s counter, Bloomingdale’s, Chinatown (when it was really good) and Blanche’s Fashions (my beloved Grandmother’s boutique).

Four Generations of My Family Likes Wallets

Yesterday, I mentioned that Rachel, 11, wants a very specific wallet, she actually wants the one that I have.  Rachel is like me and pretty specific about her trinkets and treasures.  I would be willing to give Rachel my wallet if I found something that I love to replace it. My mother said that she might have something.  She brought me into a closet filled with the most organized boxes and boxes filled with accessories which would be mine for the taking. We found the exact wallet and color that Rachel wanted. And, I found sunglasses and other trinkets for myself.  One little dainty gold wallet lined with a hot pink fabric stood out. I would never use it, but it was the one item that really stopped me in my treasure grabbing. I think I remembered the wallet from when I was very young. I know that I had seen this before. I opened it, and it was empty.  I smelled it. It smelled like something I remembered and I teared up. I could smell my grandmother’s perfume.

My Mom Gave Her Granddaughter a Wallet, and I received a strong memory of my Grandmother

After generously letting me have anything I deemed as a new treasure, my mother gently said, “well let’s put that wallet away. I’m not really ready to part with it even though I don’t use it. It was from Grandma Blanche.” My mother held onto something from my Grandmother from many, many years ago. I started to put it back in the box, and my mom told me that I should just take it home with my other things. I cried.  I’ve cried before because I’ve had an empty wallet. But this time, I cried because the empty wallet from my Grandmother to my Mother to Me is just the fullest wallet I have ever had.

The Brody Bunch – Back to School Night, Again

The quiet before the storm…
… back to school night is off the books for this year.

Here we go again

It’s back to school night.  Specifically, it’s middle school night back to school night.  And, I have a student in EACH middle school grade. The teachers give up an evening to meet the parents. We hear about the exciting new programs being offered.  There’s a fundraising pitch in response to the budget cuts. We fill out our yearly PTA dues form. The older grades are seeking grade class parents, the younger grades have a strong pull of parent volunteers. Yawn. But what makes this event a production for me, is the aerobic activity up and down four flights of steps and around every corner of the school since I am covering three grades on the SAME night: 6th, 7th and 8th.  And I don’t really hear anything, because all of the presentations occur at the same time and I am looping the building.  But, I am not a very good listener anyway, I talk to my neighbor in each presentation. Three kids in middle school and one in the wings.  Puberty x 4, sigh.  On the home front, the kids have ignored our nutritiously prepared dinner that just needs to be reheated and have opted to heat up all of our “emergency” frozen delicacies saved for really poor planning scheduling.

Seeking New Friends/Expanding my Network is My Back to School Goal

Thankfully, we are engaged parents, and because the kids are so close in age, there is a natural fascination about this phenomena (sex ed was not my strongest subject) so the teachers and administrators lean towards joining our village as do parents who have heard about the quantity of Brody Bunch siblings.  One parent once told me that my kids are like a “gang” in the school yard.  I wasn’t sure whether to be proud or horrified.  Back to school night is a great time for me to socialize and make notes as to who has a kid in a similar extra curricular activity as a Brody Bunch member and has room for one more in the carpool without strong hopes of me reciprocating – we just don’t have any open seats in our car.   I am good at photography so I send my candid pics of their kid as gratitude for the schelpping that everyone else does for my kids.  It’s all about relationships and friendships, hence an outcome of back to school night.

I missed my LAST ever Elementary School Back to School Night.  I Will Send in Pencils, I Need Tissues

My youngest, bless his teachers, get a blanket email from me each year: “Dear Teachers, we are so excited for this school year.  Please note that because Mark and I will be absent during back to school night, this does not indicate a lack of interest, but we can’t swing it. Do outreach to us when your classroom is in need of pencils.  Warmly, Robyn”.  I have been through the dog and pony show before.  With the Brody Bunch in consecutive grades, this is my fourth consecutive year in 5th grade.  What makes this year a little more special than the last two years (the first time is always exciting) is that it is MY last year in elementary school.  Tissues please.  Let that sync in:  we are in each grade four consecutive years in a row!  And, I missed my last ever back to school night for elementary school.

High School is on the Horizon, I REALLY NEED Tissues

On the other end of the spectrum is our oldest son.  It is his last year in middle school, and we are off to high school.  OH SHIT!  No time for tears of reflection wondering where the years went, but tears of OMG, how will we navigate high school placement and high school ITSELF?  TISSUES PLEASE!!!!  These are real tears, fearful tears, hormonal tears and tears – the tears are all mine.

Cash Bar Recommended, Cheers!

I wonder if the fire marshal is requested to ignore the school on big community nights like this?  Everyone can settle down, I am sure this is not the case!  However, it is a crowded night as it should be, relationships between parents, teachers, administrators and such are important.  I can’t help but notice that with all of the jitters, the busy bodies, the stress, the excitement and more, why don’t we ever set up a cash bar?  A cash bar would go very far especially for a mom like me with three different grades to cover all at the same time and it might help with the budget crisis.  Raise a virtual glass, Cheers!  

The Brody Bunch – Grounded!


The Offense – Sass & ‘tude

After a lot of sass and attitude, our Blanche was grounded for the weekend.  Her girl crew extended social invitations which came directly to me, because her electronic devices were confiscated.  The invitations were swiftly declined.  Blanche and I would quickly learn that grounding Brody Bunch way, is not meant like the classical textbook way.

Night 1 of Grounding – a reward from earlier in the week

Friday Night – I moved our planned Sunday night Brody Bunch “thank you” dinner to Friday because we were invited to our friends’ house for a post Bat Mitzvah celebration in Blanche’s honor scheduled for Sunday night. This “thank you” dinner that I organized was in recognition of the Brody Bunch having a strong start to the new school year, about 32 hours, of back to school success: easy bedtime routines, easy morning routines, good family logistics, help around the house, etc.  And, I love eating out.  So, after shuttling her brothers to Little League scrimmages, we were treated like VIPs in our favorite Indian restaurant.

Day 2 of Grounding – cookies and shopping

Saturday – after lounging around the house in the morning, Blanche joined me for her sister’s soccer game. She was hungry.  While I prefer supporting local cafes, diners and dives, Blanche and Leo really wanted a specific franchise for subs.  This travel soccer game took us to a new neighborhood, but since I wasn’t eating, I agreed to their preferred (and cheap) choice.  Though, we would discover that I did not understand the ordering process and I tried for about six minutes to add a drink and chips to qualify for the $6 lunch special.  Apparently, we didn’t order correctly for the deal, as their sandwiches on club bread, were NOT club sandwiches.  The sweet club sandwich maker wanted me to know that I may not understand her English.  I felt like a jerk.  I insisted that it was ME and not her as she did speak English beautifully, that I just didn’t understand the pricing structure. She rang us up and ironically, the cost WAS the same as the deal I was trying to secure.  The cashier gave my kids free cookies for the confusion that I created.  

Late Saturday Afternoon – Blanche, her sister and I went shopping, all day.  We had such fun.  From bras to beef jerky to a new soccer water cooler, lots of gum, a new hermit crab, warm fuzzy pajamas, a throw rug and new school shorts, the girls were full of gratitude with lots of stamina.  It was a perfect girls’ day of togetherness.

Night 2 of Grounding – dinner and giggles

Saturday Night – Siri maps led us on a wild ride home.  So, I finally meandered back into the old neighborhood and at 10PM we were giggling and laughing over Chinese Food. Followed by heartburn.

Night 3 of Grounding – dinner with family friends

Sunday – After sleeping in late, and perhaps studying the 50 states for a geography quiz while listening to her teeny bopper music uninterrupted, Blanche was showered with gifts and a dinner in her honor.

The weekend of grounding came to a close.  Blanche had such a pretty smile, “I should get grounded more often!  This was the best weekend ever!” I am no disciplinarian.  I warned you in my first blog that this is NOT an advice column blog, but I know that I did something right: the sassiness and attitude melded into gratitude, laughs and good times. 

We called it “grounding” – and in the end, we were grounded with love, laughs and we were back to where we needed to be

So, maybe my way works, it did for 72 hours, we were able to get back to a place where we needed to be…we were re-grounded.  It’s hard being a tween, a badass and a good person all at one time … but she is my mini-me.  I have an edge, am a badass and a good person.  Sometimes I just want to be surrounded by the people who can help ground me, too… it gives me strength to carry on.  I hope that Blanche is grounded again, and soon, which is very likely since attitude and sass is part of what makes her the person she is and I love her very much.  Clearly, grounded is all about perspective – it doesn’t have to be a bad thing because, even though “grounded” became the family joke and new code for good times, we are grounded once again. 

The Brody Bunch – Our Hermit Crab Is Stressed

Acquiring Shelly, the Hermit Crab

With much happiness, Rachel, age 11, used her beach money, a gift from her grandparents, to purchase a $29.99 hermit crab hotel, and the hermit crab was free!  This milestone purchase occurred on the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk. The non aquatic salesman said to me, “Ma’am, no one has ever asked so many questions before purchasing a [free] hermit crab, and all of the other customers are leaving.”  I always have a lot of questions. I needed to know: Does the hermit crab hotel get cleaned?  How often do we feed her?  Are there activity toys we can purchase for the hotel?  What room temperature is best?  And so on. The purchase transaction was in motion and, with the best smile, brighter than the sunshine, Rachel FINALLY got a pet, a hermit crab, and named her Shelly Brody.

Shelly Gives us a Death Scare

Fast forward, it is just the second morning of the new school year, and Rachel runs into my room sobbing, “Shelly might be dead!  I love her!”  Shelly’s leg fell off!”  I was so sad.  While I recognize that Shelly isn’t living in her natural habitat, I believe that we rescued her from an overly populated souvenir gift shop and this is not how I envisioned Shelly’s time with us.  Though in this moment, I found much pride in Rachel’s love and empathy for a living creature. That part of this situation was beautiful.  Rachel wanted me to do something. But what? Thankful for Google. I quickly discovered that a  hermit crab’s fallen off leg doesn’t mean death, but I didn’t read enough to understand why.  However, I did see that this happens when the hermit crab is under stress.  Oh my goodness, even my hermit crab is stressed out!!!  

Our Hermit Crab is Diagnosed with Stress Thanks to the Internet

Of course Shelly is stressed out.  She was removed from her natural environment.  We have a loud home, hard bright lights are on and off but mostly on, the house gets way hot or way cold. The doorbell is constantly ringing. The smoke detectors blare daily. Doors slam. We have fragrant art supplies.  While our home is loving, it is not for the meek. Shelly the hermit crab is suffering from stress.`  And, I believe that Shelly is stressed beyond not living in the Ocean or on the Boardwalk.  She is stressed out.

We identified that Shelly is stressed. Rachel’s tears stopped. I tried singing to Shelly and Rachel told me to stop singing because I am stressing her out and making Shelly more stressed out.

Saltwater Brings Happiness, … I am Stressed

Ironically, the day before this saga, friends gave me a shopping bag filled with supplies leftover from their beloved hermit crabs, and I remembered what was in the bag!  We had a bottle of saltwater!  I told Rachel to spray Shelly with saltwater. Saltwater should make Shelly happy! Saltwater and the beach certainly makes me happy. Oh, Rachel was happy. Rachel reported that Shelly is happy. Shelly moved around!  I am stressed out.

The Brody Bunch – Goes to the Hardware Store

Buying an Assembled Dresser and Getting Screwed


Buying off the Community ListServ

“Curb Alerts” are big in my community.  If you are savvy, you could probably furnish your house on everything being given away for free or sold inexpensively on the community listserv.  I have acquired cheap baseball tickets, free peanut butter which we used to make PB&J for the homeless, gallery photo frames which are still in the box and now a really ugly assembled dresser.  And ASSEMBLED is the key word.

I saw a five drawer assembled dresser in a beach brushed like wood finish on sale for $75.  Like a high rolling negotiator, I replied to the post: “If you can’t move it at $75, let me know if you would take $50.”  And, I became the recipient of the dresser. I can’t fathom following directions and assembling furniture, the time it takes me is outrageous. And, because it is back to school time, we need to organize the house just days before the start of a new school year.  My plan was in motion.

Meeting Our Seller: Yappy Hour, Little League World Series, Smoke-free by Lie and My New Ugly Dresser

We got lost meeting our dresser dealer. I incorrectly memorized the address.  Instead, the address I plugged into the GPS led our minivan to a “Yappy Hour” where a bunch of millennials and their outfitted and accessorized dogs were playing in plastic kiddie pools while the drinks were flowing.  We finally met up with the sellers in a chic warehouse like neighborhood to close the deal.  The husband was making small talk with Mark about the Little League World Series.  I guess 100 baseballs rolling around in our trunk was a good indicator for our love of baseball.  I set my eyes on the dresser, it was not beach decor, which I never really wanted, instead it was a self designed mod podge art effort that went bad.  And this dresser was small.  Again, it was ASSEMBLED. I focused on the fact that this thing was already built.  But I was distracted that it reeked of smoke.  In my diplomatic tone I inquired, “excuse me, was this dresser in a smoke free home?”  The wife replied, “Yes!” The husband chimed in, “I smoke but NEVER in the house!”  WTF? I have bad liars here.  The wife added, “People smoke in this garage all the time, that’s probably what you smell.” [Wink, wink, “probably”].  I whispered to Mark that it smells, he wanted to pay and go to little league practice.  I had SCHMUCK stamped on my forehead. Now I have an ugly and smelly dresser. I was taken aback by how substantial this dresser appeared in the for sale photo versus reality. Oh, and the wife added that we will need to buy two screws.

Tween Forms a New Cleaning Concoction

We brought the dresser home for Rachel, 12.  She has kept her clean laundry in her laundry baskets for about 11 months because she doesn’t like folding.  She is aspiring to set up the guest bedroom as her new pad. And, she noted that the dresser stinks.  In the nano second that I wasn’t looking at Rachel, she took my freshly cut flowers from the vase, added OxiClean (we needed that to clean last year’s school clothes for this week) and PineSol and made a concoction. She used the OxiClean pine scented petals to clean out the smoke stench using hot pink underwear as her rag.  It’s the most cleaning she ever attempted to do.

We Got Screwed

Rachel noticed that we needed not two screws like the seller shared after I handed her the cash, but three screws.  As Rachel and I drove by a hardware store, Rachel said that she would know exactly what type of screw to buy.  The look on her face when she saw the thousands if not millions of loose screws was priceless.  I had no idea that there were so many families of screws: wood screws, sheet metal screws, machine screws, and so many more.  We left defeated.  I told her we would take apart the an assembled drawer, which defeated my whole plan of buying this, measure it, and to stereotype millennials, just buy the screws on Amazon.  I can’t handle assembling things or hardware stores. We were screwed.

The Brody Bunch Gets Haircuts

My Relationship with our Hair Stylist

I have an amazing relationship with our family hair stylist, hairdresser, person that controls that we don’t look like we stuck our fingers in electrical sockets.  I don’t even know what her preferred title is, but she cuts the Brody Bunch’s hair.

She comes to our house at ridiculous hours to accommodate our sports, work and special occasions schedules.  She tolerates that I lack the ability to schedule 6 haircut appointments in a proactive manner and she hears from me when the boys’ bangs are hanging in their eyes.  She has a full book, and gets us in.

She is one of four kids, too, so I am hopeful that my unswept floors, loud children and dishes in the sink are ignored because she takes trips down her own memory lane of being a sibling of four.  I am hopeful.  She sees me in situations that I can control outside of my home, but not inside.  We have set off fire alarms while cooking dinner, have had sibling squabbles, and we have real life happening, she gets to see the behind the scenes and she keeps coming back!

Back To School Haircuts On the Front Patio with Psychological Moments

Last night, she moved mountains to see us before the kids head (no pun intended) back to school.  As I continue with my anxious flavored style of high priorities and first world problems that we need to resolve before school starts, haircuts made the priority list.

For the first time ever, we moved the makeshift hair salon out of my kitchen, it has rotated into my dining room, and setup shop outside on the patio.  Our Weber grill functioned as her counter top.  Much like a Barbie Dream Hair Salon, if there ever was one. I have never used our outside electrical sockets, but she did.  She plugged her clippers into that socket like a boss.

And, our time together started out the same.  Me: “THANK YOU for getting us in!”  Her:  “What do you think will happen this season on This is Us?”  Me: “Pardon the house, I am on strike and am not cleaning up after anyone.”  Her … she smiles and waves it off like we are the front cover of Better Homes and Gardens rather than looking like the police presumed incorrectly that we were looted.

Then we have our emotional dance.  I have had the same haircut since I have been 5 years old, give or take,  The kids all have incredibly thick, gorgeous hair.  The boys want something besides their shag cuts, I prefer nothing high maintenance or nothing that will photograph in a regrettable image.  She moderates between us.  She listens to the kids and then I whisper to her to go half way.  She does her magic and for their entertainment musses it up and winks at me. And, everyone looks beautiful. The kids express thank yous and we rotate everyone on and off our dining room now converted hair salon chair.

This round, unlike previous battles, I was beaten down with requests for change.  Max, 10, insisted that he choose his own hair.  I was frustrated.  He is right, it is his own hair. So, I resigned from the unnecessary good fight, only to learn that YouTube sensations and teeny bopper pop culture icons were our new benchmark for style.   O

Brody Bunch Goes Rouge

Out of the blue, my sweet Leo, wanted the haircut that his younger brother selected.  I told Leo it was a bit extreme.  Then, like a frat boy, Leo’s “let’s just do it!”  was the Nike slogan escalated at the highest level. What is going on here?  No problems, here, wink, wink!  I waved my white flag. And the clipper went to work. School starts in 5 days, let’s go rouge!

So, here we are on my front porch, which we never use, and Leo is concerned that the hair, which usually falls all over my kitchen floor, and is now on our patio, is littering. Leo: “Mom, how will YOU sweep this up?”  Me: “What?  I don’t know.  We have an outside broom, maybe we will sweep it from side to side?”  Hairdresser: “It will blow away. Maybe the birds will use it?”  Leo: “Is this bad for the environment?”  Blanche, 12: “Will the birds be okay?”  Rachel, 11: “STOP TALKING!  I HAVE TO GO TO SOCCER PRACTICE AND YOU ALL ARE TAKING TOO MUCH TIME.”  Max, as a reminder, still 10: “Am I going to look sexy?”  All of us: “NO!!!!”  And, I watched hair fall near my herb pots.  So much for making pesto anytime soon.

Cutting Hair and Providing Support

Hair was going everywhere.  I kept locking eyes with our incredibly talented hair artist, and she would smile and say over and over, “I promise the hair will grow back and be beautiful.”  Promises!!!!  I am holding onto that.

So, I am watching my taller more reserved Leo with smirks on his face, and his younger brother is crowding him looking for beard hairs.  Oh, puberty is around us at the highest level. I can’t deal with first time beard hairs, if there are any, NOT RIGHT NOW.

It was over, and I survived

Finally, our magnificent hair aficionado’s work was done.  Her sweet daughter who visits us every few haircuts gave me several snake eyes based upon behaviors she witnessed.  I don’t blame her.  And, I hope she keeps coming back.  She distracts me with healthier conversation while the chaos is escalated around us.  She is probably only 9.  Though, she did inquire if we ever schedule cleaning days.  … Honey, does it look like we do?!

Then it was time for my well oiled concluding love fest, with our kind, flexible and overly talented friend, expressing much gratitude for how we were squeezed in, thankful that she still comes to us, how this is one of the few parts of my world that is low maintenance and how much I love our new haircuts.  She hugged me and told me how proud she is of me that tonight, I did such a good job and behaved.  She was really proud!!!!  I knew I did a good job and it showed!

We could have ended our visit, but my confident, promise maker of hair said to me: “I told my daughter that she couldn’t chop off her hair.”  WHAT????  I lived through the Brody Bunch haircuts and then watched my fearless leader go 180 or 360 … however, your glass is filled half full or half empty.  And, then, I was given a calendar and told to schedule our next two rounds of haircuts. I surrendered.  And, we look MARVELOUS!