Author Archives: Margot

Multigenerational grammar

Good Lord, my mom would have a fit....


My mom was an English/History/British Literature teacher for years while my brothers and I were kids.  There are many former students of hers, and friends of ours, who think she was an amazing teacher.  But as much as her students loved her in the class, we had her not only in school, but at home as well.

So while her students only had 50 daily minutes of her demanding correct grammar, language and tense usage, we had it all the time, every day, for years.  In the long run, I am glad, but damn, it could be annoying.

And, now, though my mom does not formally teach anymore, my kids get the same treatment from my mom and me.

Brings a smile to my face….

Here is an example of what I mean:

Daughter: “Honey (my kids’ name for my mom), can I go outside and play?”
Mom: “I am sure you can, but the question is, do you have permission…”
Daughter: “MAY I go out and play?”
Mom:  “Yes, you may.”

Or this one…

Son:  “Mom, I need to decide between Thomas, Gordon, Ferdinand and Spencer…”
Mom: “Between is only used when you are talking about two objects, the word you need is among, which you use when talking about three or more items…”
Son:  “So I would say I need to decide among Thomas, Gordon…”
Mom:  “Yes, that’s correct.”

And my all time favorite:

Daughter: “Honey, like, would be it be OK if, like, Emily and I went to my room?”
Mom: “No, like, it would not”
Daughter thinking….  “May Emily and I go to my room?”
Mom:  “yes, that would be fine.”

Of, I love the sound of good grammar….  And now my kids have two people telling them what to say and how to say it…  they’ll appreciate it later in life.


Being sick on a family vacation is not so bad…

This past week, I was at my annual family reunion in Scottsdale, complete with cousins, nieces, nephews, siblings, parents, aunts and uncles. 

But three days before we left, I could feel the tightness in my chest, the slight tickle at my throat, and I knew, I knew I was getting sick as a dog.  Honestly, it doesn’t happen a lot – I am a pretty healthy person.  But when I do go down, I really go down.

You know the old adage that Mom is the last one to get sick?  Well, thank goodness I was on my multigenerational vacation when an infestation of germs attacked me.

Despite the hacking cough and the mild fever, we arrived in Scottsdale ready for some R & R.  And thank goodness, my entire family was there to slather sunscreen on the kids and feed them, while I slept, read my Kindle and slept some more. 

Despite feeling like someone ran over me with a bus, I had time hanging out with my brothers, their wives, my cousins and aunt and uncle by the pool, made the traditional family reunion short ribs, ate more brownies than I should have, and drank a fair amount of wine; standard family reunion stuff.

As I expected, at the end of the reunion, when we were all headed back to our respective homes, tears welled up and we all got weepy.  We were already planning where to go next summer.

Beck in Colorado, my friends are lamenting the fact that I was sick on vacation, and I agree, but I also see the silver lining – if you are going to get sick, make sure everyone in your family is around to pick up the slack….


Family Reunion here we come….

The kids are all cranked up and ready to go. 

We have packed enough sunscreen for one application for everyone who works at Sky Harbor Airport and or a month temperatures in the 100s.  The kids also have a generous supply of both salty and sweet treats for the wait at Denver International, books, mad libs, coloring and I even loaded the latest Taylor Swift CD onto my iPod for my 8 year-old daughter. 

Mental note – batter for camera and charger for cell phone….

My parents, who are driving to AZ for the family reunion, took our clothes, so we only have to grab an extra bathing suit, plane stuff and we are set.

Of course, I know by now, that the planning of the family reunion is more taxing that the gathering itself.  Do we all have each other’s itineraries?  Directions to the house we are staying in?  Cell phone numbers logged into our individual cell phones?  The list seems endless.

We have the actual time at the house down to a science; dinners when we are there (including the ribs on Friday night), who likes what kind of alcohol, food limitations among the kids and adults, movie night, etc.

The part that I wish I could change is the short time we all spend together – each and every time we say goodbye after 4 nights, I cry, knowing that it could be another 12 months before I get to see my cousins, aunt, brothers and nieces and nephews. 

One year, we went to FL to reunion at my brother’s house and my nephew, 9 at the time, broke into tears when I hugged him goodbye.  I will never forget the look on his face, and the fun we had touring alligator alley, swimming in the Atlantic and hanging out with my family. 

This is the reason that we have these reunions every year; so we can spend four nights with each other, recalling our family history and making new memories for the next generation.


A 6-year old crush….

If you are a parent, you have likely noted a characteristic in personality, or a physical feature that reminds you of either your spouse or parents, or your spouse’s parents.

Having three generations in the same house, I think, sometimes exaggerates the characteristics of my side of the family.  And though I think my kids look a lot like both my husband and me, I am seeing more and more that our son has taken on similar likes and dislikes of my dad, his grandfather… 

Case in point:  I blogged several weeks ago about my dad’s need to be aware of all weather systems that might affect the places where our family live – Colorado, California, Oregon and New Mexico.  If there is weather that needs to be considered in these four states, my dad is your guy.

So imagine my interest in the conversation I had with my son, 6 and a half years old, last week.

He came into the family room and said, “Mom, can we turn on the weather channel?”

HUH?????   My reply, “Why sugarplum?”

“Cause when we leave for Scottsdale on vacation, I want to know how hot it will be” he said.

I thought about that a minute and said, “Are you concerned about the weather in AZ?”

“No, but Gampy said that if the temperature got above 100, we would all bake” he commented, bright blue eyes looking a little concerned.

“Gampy didn’t mean you would actually bake, like in an oven, it’s just a way of saying that it will be very hot when we get there – a lot hotter than Colorado – and it might feel like an oven cause we are used to cooler weather” I tried to clarify.

“OK, but I still want to turn on the weather channel” he seemed to be switching gears; understanding that we would not actually bake.  (Though that remains to be seen, considering we chose AZ for a June family reunion.)

“Is there something else that you are worried about?” I ventured.

“No, but I still like to watch the weather channel, the lady who shows us the maps is cute.”


two weeks and counting – the family reunion

The phone calls, emails, texts are mounting.  Its two weeks and counting to my family reunion.

We dissect the following weekly, it seems:

  • who is staying in the house or at the resort
  • when we arrive/depart
  • car rentals and car seats
  • who has special dietary needs
  • what alcohol we are drinking these days
  • who has the ribs recipes since Chas can’t be there this year
  • the 2 pound bag of Peet’s Italian Roast coffee we need
  • tee times for the guys and shopping/spa needs for the moms
  • and most importantly, are there going to be brownies and fudge from my mom?

Of course the answer to that last question is yes, and that means one thing in my house – lots and lots of baking.  Yesterday the baking got kicked off with enough shortbread for an army…  The smell of butter and sweetness was wafting through the house as I came home from work.

It is going to be a tough couple of weeks…

My mom is in full on preparation for the family reunion; she is baking all our favorites and freezing them so we can all gorge ourselves when we get to Scottsdale. 

Even though last year was not our first family reunion, it was the first one that my kids really remembered and talked about throughout the year.  Spending time with the cousins and aunts and uncles is the reason we do this – but already the youngest members of the family are talking about the food.

My daughter reminded her brother last week that it is not OK to sneak into the kitchen before the adults are awake to eat brownies, fudge and shortbread for breakfast.  There was a snicker on my face when I heard that story, but I also thought, what the hell?  We will be on vacation…  And my son wanted to know who was cooking “the meat” since the chef who does the ribs cannot make it this year…

Here is the shortbread recipe that my mom uses – totally basic but rivals Walker’s any day of the week.  And when dipped quickly into either warm coffee or chocolate fondue it is divine…

1 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. sugar
2 1/2 c. flour
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (approximately 5 minutes). Stir in flour. Dough will be crumbly. Knead dough together until forms a ball.

Roll out on lightly floured surface approximately 1/4 inch thick. Cut out with cookie cutters. Place on cookie sheet. Prick with fork a couple of times. Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes


Lance needs to come clean… literally

  My dad and I are a lot alike; sometimes that is   good, sometimes not so much. We are both very strong willed and we have, on occasion, let our tempers take over. There is no denying, we butt heads.

But when my dad came upstairs this evening – entranced with the unfolding saga around Lance Armstrong, I knew there would be no disagreement.

Tonight, on 60 Minutes, Lance’s close teammate and good friend, Tyler Hamilton, unloaded about professional cyclists taking illegal drugs to enhance their performance and in particular, the use of illegal drugs by Armstrong, calling into question all of his seven Tour de France wins. He was also very clear that he took the same kinds of banned substances to succeed in cycling.

It sounds like after years of denying the use of drugs, the noose is tightening around Lance.  And damn it, that ticks me off. I want to believe that he won those yellow jerseys fair and square. We all wanted to think that he did it the right way – he claimed to be clean so often…

We are both amazed at the level of deception, the complexity of the scheme and ultimately, we both commented that Hamilton’s admission, that but for the subpoena of a grand jury, he would not be telling us all about Lance’s drug use.

That is the part that got my dad and me – but for the pending noose tightening around his own neck, Hamilton would not be coming clean, excuse the pun…

What the hell is wrong with him? And though this is beyond cliché, what the hell is wrong with the athletes who lie, cheat and then lie some more?

Don’t get me wrong, I love my sports, college football, tennis, cycling, rowing and others. I am not naïve to think that every athlete is worthy of the adulation they receive. Or that they compete for the love of the game.

But how did it get this bad? Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Floyd Landis, Ben Johnson, Marion Jones, Alex Rodriguez to name a few. Is it simply a matter of ego, or desire to win, or more money?

The answer is they do it for all of the above.  On this, my dad and I agreed.  He is 79 and though we are 35 years apart, we were totally on the same page.