Tori Spelling loves burritos.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’ve been trying pretty hard to not write about the kids at Fluid Pudding. (Mommy Blogger,  Schmommy Blogger, am I right?!) Today I feel the need to pull up my MomBlog pants for a quick Meredith story.

Every year, the girls’ school holds a spelling bee. Every third, fourth, and fifth grade classroom has a mini bee, during which a top speller is chosen to represent the class at the school bee. Meredith was the top speller in her third grade class last year, which scored her a spot at the bee.

Please take a moment and follow this link to see how tiny she looked at the bee last year. While you’re there, you can read about how I cried three times during the bee. After that, you can see that I was sort of obsessed with that whole nose piercing thing last year at this time. Eyeliner dots on my nose. So silly. We were all younger back then, weren’t we?

A few months ago, Meredith came home from school and announced that she had once again scored the honor of being the top speller in her class. She then presented us with the (HUGE) list of words that she would be studying until the day of the school spelling bee. She was serious. Motivated. She wanted to win more than she has wanted ANYTHING (except for an iPod Touch) EVER.

Because Jeff is the greatest dad, he recorded each and every one of those challenging words into a spelling app so that Meredith could practice around the clock. Her iPod would recite each word in Jeff’s voice, Meredith then typed each word in, and when she was finished testing she was given a percentage of correct words along with a list of missed words. Last weekend she tested herself on over 300 of the words. She missed only two of them, and the two she missed were because of typing errors. She was ready.

I drove to school yesterday afternoon for this year’s bee. Although the bee had absolutely nothing to do with me, I was a wreck. When the spellers entered the cafeteria, I immediately started guzzling my tea to keep from tearing up. (Why?! I know!!!) The third, fourth, and fifth graders were seated, the moderator explained the rules, and it was time to begin.

It didn’t take long to notice that one of the spellers is what I refer to as a Magical Child. She’s a fifth grader. She’s lovely and polite and smart. She is a musician. Her mom is involved in the PTO. Her family attends events. She is well-liked. Confident. She is a GREAT SPELLER.

Moderator: Magical Child, your word is Insouciant.

Magical Child: Insouciant. EyeEnEssOhYouSeeEyeAyEnTee. Insouciant.

Moderator: That is correct.

I knew right away that Magic could take this thing.

It took only a few rounds before several of the spellers’ nerves were exposed and they started making simple mistakes. (The first boy down missed the word Bridge, and it broke me because I know he knew that word and I also know that the bee was something he took seriously because he was wearing a tie. A TIE! (Studies have shown that emotional tears contain more manganese, an element that affects temperament, and more prolactin, a hormone that regulates milk production. Sobbing out manganese and prolactin is thought to relieve tension by balancing the body’s stress levels and eliminating build-up of the chemicals, making the crier feel better. I need to head to the pharmacy and grab some supplements, because I believe I’m currently manganese and prolactin deficient.))

It took about twenty minutes to get down to the final three spellers: Meredith, Magic, and Some Girl I Don’t Know.

Meredith had spelled Describe, Upbringing, Poultry, Caterpillar, Eruption, Emotional, Curiosity, and Isolation. These were easy words. It was time to turn it up a notch.

Moderator: Magical Child, your word is Pharmaceutical.

(Please know that her word wasn’t REALLY Pharmaceutical. At this point my hands were so sweaty that I could no longer take notes.)

Magic: Pharmaceutical. Pharmaceutical. PeeAychAyArEmEeSeeYouTeeEyeSeeAyEl. Pharmaceutical.

Moderator: I’m sorry.


As soon as Magic sat down, I made eye contact with Meredith. This was it. Things were happening. Oh My Oh My Oh My Oh My Et Cetera.

It was now down to Meredith and That Girl I Don’t Know, who tended to spell her words as if she was asking a question. (Her style did not inspire confidence. Have I mentioned how emotionally charged this whole spelling bee thing can be?!)

Moderator: Meredith. Your word is Evaluate.

Meredith (after taking a big breath): Evaluate. EeVeeAyYouAyTeeEe. Evaluate.

She knew she missed it. She knew her nerves got the best of her. She was angry and disappointed and I have no idea what happened next because I was lying on the floor soaked in my own vomit.

The Girl I Still Don’t Know spelled her word correctly to finish out the round, and then spelled her NEXT word correctly and that’s when she was proclaimed the winner and it all happened so quickly and photos were taken and I DO remember whispering the word, “Damnit.” and I hope no one saw or heard me, because this is not the time nor the place for my foul mouth. I clapped for the winner. I did. I was sincerely happy for her, and the fact that her sister went up and hugged her after the bee warmed my heart like crazy. What made me even HAPPIER was that I later learned that The Girl I Don’t Know is in the fifth grade. It was her final year to compete. If Meredith can’t win, I want it to be a fifth grader. I want it to be a Girl I Don’t Know.

When Meredith came out to the car after school, Harper asked how the bee went.

Meredith: I lost.

Me: Actually, you tied for second place! Third place last year, second place this year! IT’S ALL SO AWESOME WITH THE DAISIES AND UNICORNS AND TWIX BARS AND HAPPINESS!

Harper: What word did you miss?

Meredith: Evaluate.

Harper, who is about to win the Fluid Pudding Award for Kindness with this statement: Meredith, evaluate is a very tricky word.


Meredith: When Dad gets home, can we celebrate with a burrito?

Silly question. ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

37 thoughts on “Tori Spelling loves burritos.”

  1. Best post this year, I think. Congratulations, Meredith! Your folks and your sister are surely your biggest fans, but there’s a big group of imaginary internet people out here who are pretty darn impressed too!

  2. I loved watching Meredith @ the spelling bee, but more so, I loved watching the enthusiasm and encouragement that you and Jeff brought! Meredith has so much to be proud of, and with the way the past two years have gone, she’ll win next year, right?? Being there also made me reminisce about my trip to the spelling bee in fifth grade….got out on the word helium. Will never misspell it again.

  3. In the fifth grade spelling bee, I lost the bee when I misspelled the word ‘captain,’ easily the easiest word thus far. I was wearing my dress with the penny buttons. I had turkey tetrazzini in the school cafeteria that day.
    It never goes away.

  4. I don’t know why our children’s experiences become so acutely ours. It is as if we can feel our own experiences, coupled with their experiences, fired like a laser through a prism to explode in our heart and gut. Agony and ecstasy, for sure (I just misspelled ecstasy and had to look it up–it is a VERY tricky word). Congratulations to Meredith for doing so well and studying so hard!

  5. Yay Meredith! It is really hard to spell tricky words in front of a lot of people. I am a terrible out-loud speller. If I can write it I can spell it, but I get lost in the middle of out-loud spelling, so I am very impressed by people who can spell out loud in front of a lot of people.

  6. Congratulations to Meredith, and to all the Pudding family for being just awesome! The fact that Meredith understood her accomplishment merited “celebration” shows what a head screwed on right looks like. And Harper does deserve the Best Sister in the World award for her kindness and maturity.

    My stomach muscles cramped reading what the mom unit went through — which is a testimony to how well it is written. I can see a top-grossing suspense movie about it. But I think waiting for the champion fifth-grader to run to the top of the stairs, pumping her beautiful arms high overhead, will make a better screenplay, so I’m happy to wait for next year for that.

    Spelling bees are so cool. Earning a spot in one is a big deal. Thanks for this story.

  7. I think each member of your family earned an award for kindness, helpfulness, and support in that story. Burritos for everyone!

    And to Meredith – congratulations! It is so often the people who come in second place that end up setting the world on fire, my friend.

  8. Even though I *knew* from your fb post how this went I still got all nervous and anxious reading it.

    Which, I’m pretty sure, means I get burritos for dinner.

  9. Way to go, MC! Sounds like she did an awesome job. Just participating in those kinds of things with a million eyes staring at you is amazing at her age!

  10. 1. I am in my office, crying on your behalf. I could not have taken the suspense.
    2. Yesterday I went to my older son’s (the one who is a baby in half my heart) School Olympics. Milo, who is in PreK, carried and waved the flag of Guatemala LIKE A BOSS. And I cried through the middle school band’s attempt at the Olympic Anthem. And when the third graders held up the hula hoops like the Olympic Rings, I totally lost it. And Milo’s teacher is now totally convinced that I am crazy. (Next year, Milo will have to compete. I don’t think I will be able to take it.)
    3. I am so proud of Meredith. She is awesome. And tonight I may have a burrito in her honor.

  11. I’m crying. Laughter, happiness, a little bit of sadness, then happiness again. Yay, Meridith.

    PS: This picture of you is my most favorite picture of you that I have ever seen. It says it all. It really is the best!

  12. Moving on up, 3rd place to 2nd AND a burrito. She’s doing it right.

    I just got indigestion even reading about the bee. It was all I could do not to skip to the end to relieve the tension.

  13. My fourth grade daughter was her class’s representative in the spelling bee this year, too. A fourth grader won (not her). He was in the gifted 4th grade class and he’s SEVEN. He didn’t even come up to her shoulders. He rattled off every word he was given without hesitation. She didn’t have a prayer.
    Same kid won the geography bee. I expect we will all be voting for him someday.

  14. Yay, Meredith! (which, coincidentally, was what we’d cheer whenever the Bears scored when Mere was around 12 months old, because thinking we were cheering for her made her clap with glee, but us just cheering scared the bejeezus out of her). (Almost forgot to end that parenthetical, but I remembered!)

  15. Oh, yes, I was not breathing as you told this story! And I cried when the boy misspelled “bridge”…and I also had to google “misspell” for the hundredth time.
    What a competition!! Congratulations to her, for what she achieved and for her studying so hard for it. And what an awesome sister moment. :)

  16. I love hearing about your lovely girls. They are so talented and kind.

    And I totally understand your reaction. A few weeks ago my teen daughter took part in a school musical evening.
    She has sung dozens of times in front of an audience. I know she sings well and always in tune but my stomach was so tight I could hardly breathe.
    After the first few notes I realised she was going to do a brilliant performance and I started to sob (quietly).
    I’m normally quite a tough cookie but my children turn me into an emotional souffle.

  17. Great job, Meredith! My girl is in 5th this year and a likely candidate for the Spell Bowl (a district-wide event) again this year (we find out if she made the final cut next week). I think a bowl is less stressful than a bee since a) it is teams and b) it is writing the word down rather than standing up all alone and spelling out loud. In all the rounds last year she only missed one word and when I mentioned the word after the bowl was over she said, “THAT was the word?! I know how to spell THAT, I thought the word was blah-blah.” I was hoping the acoustics were better on stage than the upper bowl where I was seated, but, alas, I guess they were not.

  18. These events do screw the tension very tight, speaking as a former gymnastics competitions parent. Mom tears often ensue (as long as it’s not out and out blubbering, which I have committed a few times, you’re OK.) P.S. I love reading about your kids – and your dog(s – ?)

  19. I would be crying, too! Congrats, Mere! 2nd place is awesome, I love 2nd place! It allows for advancement but puts less pressure on you while still being a champion! Go 2nd Place!!! Woot!!!

  20. Congrats to Meredith! 2nd place is so so terrific. And Harper for being a great sister! You guys are wonderful family.

  21. Mine was gangrene. Will always remember now… And your post made me think about how they say our children are our own hearts walking around outside of our body, so OF COURSE your emotions were running high and you were feeling more tension than even Meredith was feeling! Congratulations Meredith!!

  22. I made it to the Post Dispatch Spelling bee one year. I was pumped, but I made a stupid mistake because I was rushing. BTW, the word I misspelled was abandonment. I totally knew when I made the mistake but you can’t go back and fix it once it’s out.

  23. Love the post. Cracked me up. Then I felt sorry for myself and my son, because, well, he didn’t inherit my spelling bee gene. He wanted to write on facebook that he bit his tongue, and he asked me how to spell “bit.” He’s in 4th grade:(

  24. So, I’m sitting here on the 6th floor of the court house in Clayton for jury duty. Using this time to catch up on and hoping they don’t call my name so I can keep going deeper in the archives! I LOVED this spelling bee post so much! Total awesomeness!

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