Monday, November 23, 2015


I have football fatigue. Sure, you may say, that is the way it should feel at the end of a sports season. But I really, really have football fatigue.  It started at the beginning of the week. When I dropped Jackson off at practice, I was handed a fistful of markers, Championship Week! Lets show our Gator pride,the team mom told me. I was all in. This was our first season as a football family and we were going to the championship!?! I was ready to throw myself into the spirit.

We started off the week with gusto! 

That night Teddy and Charlie helped me turn our car into the Gator mobile. Fear the Swamp!we wrote on the back. Go Gators!and “Gator Nation” covered the sides. So fun. What was even better, my neighbor was going to pass our driveway every single day, and they were on the opposing team, the Generals. I couldnt help cracking myself up about it.

Nothing like a neighborhood rivalry.

Tuesday morning rolled around and I opened my front door to walk the kids to the bus. In the clear, bright morning light “GATOR NATION” was screaming at me. I felt like putting on sunglasses. Parking the car at the grocery store was worse. There was no hiding the Suburban there. “FEAR THE SWAMP” started  feeling slightly offensive.

By noon, I couldnt take it anymore. Katie, its Mara. Did you see my car this morning?I asked my neighbor.

Not a chance.  I was too busy screaming at the kids before school, why?she asked.

Okay, seriously? I am driving a car that says ‘Gator Nation’ on your behalf and you havent noticed?” I asked her.

I guess I haven’t.”

Wednesday was the worst. I tried to sit tall as Hasidic Jews stared at me in bewilderment as I drove through Brooklyn (of all places). I looked like a crazed Florida fan. Really, its normal, I wanted to say. My son is in the championship. But even that sounds kind of lame.

I'm not sure what balloons have to do with football
On Thursday, I was driving all over Cos Cob delivering the requisite orange & green balloons to tie on Gator players mailboxes.

Mom, what did you do today?the kids asked me at dinner. When I told them, they looked bewildered.

What do balloons have to do with football?my football player asked me.

I am not sure.

By Sunday, I was almost too emotionally spent to go to the game and cheer or do the gator chomping arm thing. I had read all the inspirational emails to gear up (there were at least nine a day over the course of the championship week). I had peaked early. I felt like the deflated balloons blowing in the wind of our mailbox.

So my moral? Dont get caught up? Paint your car? Tie balloons to mailboxes? Read inspiring emails? No, Id do it again. Id just wait until Friday before the game

Monday, November 9, 2015

Times With Teddy

Are we allowed to have favorites? I ask myself that sometimes as my kids grow up. Of course, it always changes – my favorite du jour. Depending on their age, what hormones might be kicking in, and mood that day. But is it so bad to harbor just a little more love in one direction for a period of time?

Alpha peeled out Friday night to take Teddy and Jackson to a lacrosse tournament. I was left with Olivia and Charlie, typically my favorites, for the weekend. But the house was so quiet and empty that I couldn’t take it. Where was the trumpet blaring? Where was the ridiculous laughter at the dinner table? Where were the stories as we walked the dog?
Please please be a Mama's boy forever
That’s when I realized Teddy is my favorite. The kid is on fire at the moment. Happy, helpful and hilarious.

As he packed to leave for lacrosse with Alpha, I doubled checked his piles.

“Don’t worry about me Mom,” he said stoically. “I got this whole lacrosse thing covered. And if I don’t, well, there are three more of us!”

But there is no one like Teddy. The kid is down right quirky. He tells me stories as I cook dinner or kiss him goodnight. They are often scary sometimes just funny but he talks and creates the characters at the same time. I have yet to scream at him about a hook, because there always is one.

Jackson is a different story. The other day he was looking out the window and I asked him what he was thinking. “Top shelf, left corner. Righty. That would be perfect.”

“You are looking out the window thinking about the perfect shot?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he answered, back to pondering.


And Olivia is too smart for everyone in the house. Ruffle her feathers and she will say something ridiculously sarcastic and then head to her room. Charlie, fighting chronic 1st grade exhaustion, is so cranky that after 3:00pm he totally loses it for no reason.

“I love you Mom,” Teddy whispers and then kisses me on the cheek, right in front of the school bus. In 5th grade. With all the kids looking out the windows. That takes a special kid.

“I love you too,” I reply, getting a little choked up. Because he will change too.

“That Teddy is going to be something great,” our neighbor across the way said the other day. Teddy chats with her every morning as he walks the dogs before school. And I have no doubts as well. No, he is not getting straight As in school. And the scattered behavior is a killer. But there is something about that kid, the smile, the humor, and the uniqueness.

Alpha finally brought them home Saturday night. “I missed you Teddy, seriously missed you,” I told him.

“Whoa Mom, I’m all lacrosse right now, you need to step away from the athlete,” he said wrapping his arms around my neck.

Just don’t start talking about the top shelf, I wanted to say. Just keep being you.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Peters Creative Evolution

For those of you who have been reading my blog, it’ll not come as a surprise that I am no Martha Stewart. I do not have one arts and craft gene in my body. Imagine my reaction to Alpha's suggestion that he’d love to see the kids in homemade costumes for Halloween. "You have a better chance of me undressing and touring the neighborhood as a stripper. Of course, I'd have the kids in tow dressed in business attire posing as my customers," I threatened.

For years, the $30 Pottery Barn costumes of dogs, cows, princesses, dragons and butterflies made for the perfect pictures. Their dreams and fantasies became their reality – with a click. No scissors, needle and thread, no hot glue, no mess.

Pottery Barn was pretty great back then....

Then something major happened. They grew up and I thought Halloween would lose the magic and wonder. They wouldn’t want to think about being something or someone else. They would just care about the candy. But, in fact, the real fun was just getting started. Last year, Liv whipped out her sewing machine and started to sketch designs for a spider princess. She picked out black fabric with sequined cobwebs and painted her own face. Teddy caught her inspiration fever and begged her to do something for him. Amazingly, she took the stuffing out of her old bear and transformed our Teddy into a giant teddy bear.

“Please tell Teddy I say hi,” his old teacher wrote me an email the other day. “And tell him I can’t stop thinking about his killer costume from last year!”

But homemade is better -- if your kids make it!
This year, we have evolved into a whole new level. Liv is at it again with a couture gown with fabric from her grandmother. As she floated down the stairs I was thinking fashion runway, until…she lifted her arms. There were wings on the end of her dress. “I am a swan mom,” she told me. She spent days creating a mask and hot gluing white feathers to complete her look. Pottery Barn eat your heart out.

This past weekend, Teddy and Ellie (our next door neighbor) wanted to go to Home Depot to get the supplies necessary to fuel their creativity. For $25, we left with an array of duck tape, paint and different size cardboard boxes. For days they huddled together, working on their projects. Alpha and I were in the kitchen when they emerged as a googled-eyed monster and a pink elephant.

“It’s incredible,” Alpha said to me. “This is what it should have always been.”

Or not. Life is about cycles. It’s like asking your 6 month old to decorate the Christmas tree. (And let’s be honest, there is nothing fun about seeing them pulling the ornaments off and the tree down.) Having me make the costumes is not what it is all about. They have discovered the power to create whatever they want; with some fabric, duck tape and a couple boxes. It is not about me teaching that (which, by the way, I'm incapable of), it is about them discovering it on their own.

Now, before I get too excited about The Peters Creative Evolution, I passed Jax’s room the other night. “What are you doing?” I asked him. He was online, at a soccer website (the only sport he doesn’t play). “Buying a cheap soccer jersey for Halloween,” he replied.

“Really, that’s the best you can do?” I asked him.

“Mom, I’m 13.”

So maybe it’ll be about the candy soon enough. Good thing we got a few years in where I will remember the amazing things that happened at our house on Halloween.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Responsible Risk


I am forced to give Alpha some credit (a rare occurrence in our world). He honed into the conversation of some teenage boys at a party a while back. Recognizing they were all lit up like Christmas trees, I watched from afar as he sourced the information, then returned to the geriatric crowd, exhilarated himself.

“I got something great for Jackson,” he whispered. “Those guys over there just told me a cool spot for cliff jumping in back country Greenwich – 20 foot drop, perfect overhang. A reservoir.”

And there it resided for a while, on the back burner, just on the edge of our thoughts. Something for the two of them to do together. But sports, family BBQs, and work all got in the way of the big adventure. I had almost forgotten about it completely when I got a call the other day.

“Mom, can we go cliff jumping?” Jackson asked, phoning me from the lacrosse fields where he had six eager and willing friends, waiting for the okay. I was busy, apple picking (because that is a required activity in Connecticut in the Fall) with the rest of our brood. “I can’t take you,” I told him. Alpha was in Canada. And since I was tired of always being the one saying no, I told him to call his father.

Amazingly, Alpha said yes once certain conditions were met. First, they had to check how deep the water was, then call him back and explain the face of the cliff. They caught a ride up, on their own, taking a huge step forward as 13 year olds.

Home, making apple pies, my phone pinged, a text. And there it was - the video. One of pure joy. They had found heaven and Jackson wanted to share it with me: The six, jumping together, in beautiful light, howling and hooting on the way down. I was amazed he shared it with me. This was the child who, for the last three months, could barely be in a room with me. Everything I have said is either “embarrassing” or “stupid.” I am resigned to the teenage process, assuring myself that it’s natural for him to want to separate from me.

As I replayed the video several more times, it dawned on me: he's fighting with me because he has to take risks, that is a huge part of the growing up package. And then I silently thanked Alpha for figuring out how he could take a responsible one. I so loved the man I married as I rewatched the video -- for understanding our child more than Jax probably understands himself.

Later, at dinner, our eldest recounted his adventure describing the fact they trespassed and dodged German shepherds, noting how they almost got caught. He was bright and exhilarated exactly like the boys from the party. "Mom, this was one of the best days of my life!"

And as a parent, it was also one of mine. Because he shared it, I will watch them taking their leaps forever. Rejoicing. In the beautiful light. Reminding me, you can only be young once. That is a beautiful thing.