Friday, November 30, 2012

Santa's a Stalker and Probably Has Diabetes

I was laying in bed last night, thinking about yesterday's post - feeling weepy and nostalgic. And then, as they often do, my thoughts turned on me. They went to that dark, cynical place I'm all too familiar with, and I started thinking about all the shit we've told our kids about Santa and how it's a miracle they believe a word that comes out of our mouths about him (or anything for that matter) and it's no wonder they are terrified as hell when they see him.

Just think for a second about the things we tell our kids about Ol' Saint Nick.

What we say: He lives in a magical toy workshop in the North Pole.
Hmmmm: He is a socially awkward recluse. He has so few friends that he has chosen to live in the most uninhabitable place on earth with nothing better to do than make toys to give away the one night of the entire year that he ever leaves. So far, a failed attempt at making enough friends to get him out of the desolate wasteland he calls home.

What we say: He gets into our house at night through the chimney. What if we don't have a chimney? Keyhole. What's a keyhole? We don't have one of those, either. Window. He just figures it out, okay.
Hmmmm: This man is a master at breaking and entering. He leaves us stuff, but I don't trust anyone that can wiggle their nose and end up in our living room. Better sleep with one eye open.

What we say: Everyone has to leave him cookies and milk on Christmas Eve so he'll have enough energy to get through the night.
Hmmmm: He eats nothing but cookies all night? You never let me have more than two cookies because too much sugar is bad for you and childhood obesity is an epidemic in this country. Didn't you say he's already fat? What was that disease you warned me about? Diabetes?

What we say: He has eight (nine if you count Rudolph) reindeer pull him on a sleigh through the sky to deliver presents on Christmas Eve.
Hmmmm: He is no friend to animals. You won't even let me strap my doll to our dog's back. We just talked about his unhealthy diet and how overweight he is. He has these poor creatures pull his fat ass plus like A BILLION presents ALL OVER THE WORLD in one single night? Where the hell is PETA at a time like this?

What we say: He has elves build the toys all year long so he can deliver them.
Hmmmm: He runs a sweatshop. Where do these "elves" come from? He is, after all, sneaking into the houses of billions of children once a year.'s probably best to sleep with one eye open.

What we say: He sees you when you're sleeping. He knows when you're awake.
Hmmmm: He's a stalker. Are you sure he drives a sleigh and not an unmarked white van equipped with a satellite and surveillance camera?

What we say: He keeps a list of all the girls and boys in the whole world. He knows who is "naughty" and "nice".
Hmmmm: Isn't that the same thing as a pedophile? You said I should never talk to a stranger even if they know my name. I wonder if the neighborhood watch people know about this.

So, we tell our children all of these things. And then we take them to shopping malls and Christmas parties and sit them in his lap. And we expect nothing less than smiles and happiness.

Photo courtesy of my sister and her adorable children.

Bitch, please.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Don't Stop Believin'

I've noticed that Tink's pants are getting a little shorter. Her long sleeves are starting to creep up above her wrists. It happens when you have kids. You've no more gotten in the door with a new back-to-school wardrobe, and they've already gone up a size. But, this. This is different. Because she's not just growing. She's growing UP. And clothes aren't the only thing she's about to outgrow. It's Christmas. And I feel like I've been punched in the gut. Because I have started to realize...she's about to outgrow Santa.

For the past few years I've thought, "This is it. This is probably going to be the last year that both kids believe." Then we somehow squeak by without anyone blowing our cover. But this year I REALLY DO think it will be the last year she plays along. Maybe she already knows the big secret. I'm not sure that she would tell us if she did. But she hasn't said or done anything to lead us to believe that's the case. The only indication I've seen is that she's a little quieter this year whenever Dimples brings him up. She's 11 and in 6th grade, so I can only assume the cat's been let out of the bag - or it's about to be.

I don't remember exactly when I found out the truth. I don't think there was ever an actual discussion. However it happened, I don't remember it being devastating. But I held on to the belief for a LONG time. My parents were exceptional at the Santa thing, and pulled off some crazy maneuvers. The most memorable was the year my sister and I so badly wanted a playhouse. And voila. Christmas morning there was a playhouse in the backyard. I swear TO THIS DAY that thing was not there when we went to bed on Christmas Eve. Who wouldn't believe after that? (So Mom, if this isn't the case - don't tell me now. No sense in ruining that illusion at this point.)

I do remember wondering how it all worked. I remember thinking, "This seems impossible. These fools better tell me if there's really no Santa before I have kids so I don't look like a big jackass on Christmas morning wondering where the hell all the presents are." Maybe I didn't think it in those exact words, but close enough. I was starting to have some doubt. And I needed someone to level with me.

Is she wondering? Is she waiting on us to share the secret? Do we tell her? Charming says, "I'm not ready for that. Let's get through ONE MORE Christmas." Yes. Me, too. 

Obviously, at some point I figured it out. She will, too. For the past eleven years it's been my turn to be Santa. Despite the last minute shopping and late night assembling and forgetting WHERE THE HELL I hid the presents (one day I'll learn to keep it all in one place), it is one of my very favorite parts of being a parent.

So, I will cherish this Christmas. I will do my best to keep my complaining about long lines and high prices and maniac shoppers to a minimum. I will not cuss at people while I'm driving through shopping mall parking lots (okay, you and I both know that last one's not gonna happen).

I feel pretty lucky that we've gotten this many years out of the jolly fat man in the red suit. I hope we still have at least a few more with Dimples. But, I know it won't be the same.

Her first look at Christmas wonder. (She's always had a flair for the dramatic.)

This train is moving fast.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

This is Harder Than I Thought and an Itty Bitty F-Bomb


So. I've been having a bit of "blog name remorse" as of late. When I first thought of it I was all, "Look how clever and original I am!" and now I'm more like, "Blech."

I didn't want to have the word "mom" in my name because sometimes I want to write about something else. And because sometimes, there's more to me than "a mom". I know. THE HORROR!

The whole premise behind my "name" is that for basically my entire life, I've been known as the quiet one. The one that never got into any trouble. The rule follower. The pleaser. The goody-goody. B-O-R-I-N-G. And...not entirely true. I mean, it's not like I grow weed in the basement or go on weekend benders (at least not most weekends), but neither am I the innocent and naive girl/woman/mom that I have have always been perceived to be (people that know me in real life already know this). I felt like this blog was giving me the opportunity to be the "real me". Also, if you haven't read up about me, I grew up across the street from the boy that I would eventually marry. So, I was "the girl next door" in quite a literal sense as well.

And then I was scrolling through the guide while watching TV the other night and saw "The Girls Next Door". And I freak out. If you haven't seen it, it's about Hugh Hefner and three Playboy bunnies that lived with him. OhshitOhshitOhshitOhshit. Even more remorse. SO NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL NEXT DOOR. Oh, well. Maybe it's earned me a few readers. You pervs. And also, Welcome!

The idea was to get away from having to write about any ONE single topic. I'm pretty much all over the map. But I still somehow feel as if I've backed myself into a corner. Like I've named myself as someone that stays hammered and constantly throws out F-bombs, and that if I don't write like that then I'm a fraud. Well, that's not me either. Sometimes I use "the F word" in real life. But, I sound SO ridiculous when I say it. I only use it when I'm REALLY REALLY mad about something and Charming can't even keep a straight face when I say it. He literally laughs at me - even if I'm yelling at him (not that I ever yell at him) - so it kind of loses its effectiveness at that point. I've come really close to using it in my blog a couple of times, but have backed out because I hear myself say it as I type and...I sound ridiculous. Then my Mom decides to tell me "I wish you wouldn't use it" (which of course makes me want to use it THAT MUCH MORE), and Charming says, "I just don't think you're there yet." And I think "You don't even read this so your opinion doesn't matter and WTF does that even mean?" (See, I don't have a problem with acronyms.)

There are literally MILLIONS of mom bloggers and they are smart and clever and well-spoken and hilarious and sometimes I sit and think, "I am pissing in the ocean over here." Especially today. When I have writer's block and can't think of anything to write about other than my lack of F-bomb usage and I'm thinking about how I haven't been giving this my best effort lately and how everyone else is better than me so I should really post something even if it is shit. And now I have created a run-on sentence.

Fuck. Blogging is hard.

(Sorry, couldn't resist that solid opportunity.)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Black Friday and a Christmas Explosion

I participated in Black Friday. ONCE. It was a few years ago and what inspired me to do so continues to mystify me, as I find dealing with the general public to be a challenge on a good day. Let alone at 4 a.m. when all of those shopping maniacs (no offense if you are one) are fueled by the promise of a bargain, pumpkin pie, and a fresh dose of family dysfunction. Also, I place fairly high value on the functionality of my internal organs and I'm just not willing to be trampled for the last of the $20 Barbie Beach Houses or $49 blue-ray players. It should be noted that I do love shopping and I'm a sucker for amazing sales. I would be sure to return home with at least 3 of everything, regardless of whether or not I had anyone to gift said items. So I've found it's best I skip that shopping opportunity.

What I do instead is stay home and orchestrate a Christmas explosion all over our house. Had it been up to the children we would have started this immediately after our Thanksgiving meal, but by then I had exactly enough energy left to change into my stretchy pants and waddle to the couch. Decorating would have to wait until tomorrow. About half an hour into the whining and "But, Mommmmm!" I agreed to let them get the bins out of the closet and LOOK at the decorations. By the time they drug everything out, it was nearing an acceptable hour to enforce bedtime so I managed to successfully delay the activity until the next day.

THIS...was just going to have to wait til tomorrow.

Friday morning (after about 3 cups coffee) I was able to overcome what was left of my tryptophan hangover and get on with our day-after-Thanksgiving tradition as planned.

Step One: Assemble trees. Plural. Each child has one in their room. There is also one by the staircase in the entryway, and one in the living room. You see, I am my own worst enemy. Fortunately, the kids' trees are small and they are now old enough to assemble and decorate them themselves. Which is a good thing because while they were busying themselves with that project, I was able to put together the others and discover that approximately 2/3 of the lights on each no longer worked. Not totally surprising, but still worthy of a few minutes of creative swear word combinations and a brief episode of lying face down in the floor.

Not even an hour into this and I'm ready to quit. NO! It is Christmas - dammit - and we are going to be jolly. So I pull myself up, go turn on the iPod "Holiday" playlist, and move on to the next step.

Step Two: Set up all the other junk. Since we couldn't decorate the tree without working lights, I decided the next thing we should do is get out the rest of the holiday paraphernalia I have collected through the years. Since it is our first Christmas in this house, finding a place for everything would require a bit of trial and error. We have all of the same furniture, so it was actually easier than I anticipated. It still took HOURS, and other than a brief meltdown related to an unfortunate glass ornament situation, this part went well.

Step Three: Venture out to get replacement lights and "a few other things" I added to the list throughout the day. Since I managed to cover all but three square inches of the kitchen counter with packing paper and Christmas totes, we decided to go out for dinner. I made it abundantly clear before we left the house that we were going to get the things we needed while we were out because "it won't kill you all to be in Michael's for 15 (or 45) minutes so I don't have to get back out so please just deal with it".

Since Charming was with us, I realized we were in danger of walking out with all sorts of things we don't need. "Kids, keep an eye on Dad." (No, really.) He wandered through the aisles of model cars and planes and 3000 piece puzzles, but the only "extra" he managed to sneak in the cart was a box of Sweet Tart flavored candy canes.

Michael's didn't have everything on my list, OF COURSE, so I was going to need to go to Target. I knew that was asking a bit much, so I took Dimples and Charming back home so Tink and I could finish shopping in peace. We found everything else we needed and returned home. Starbucks in hand...I was finishing this TONIGHT.

Step Four: For the love of God and all things holy, are we ever going to finish this?! We managed to get lights on most of the branches and the decorations on the trees. I lovingly hung the garland from the staircase. "Don't scratch up the banister!", Charming yells from across the room. "What's that? You don't think I should scratch up the banister we JUST had refinished? Really? You are such a killjoy." (I've chosen to edit how I really responded.) We cleaned up all of the empty bins and turned out the lights to admire the Christmas wonderland we had created.

It was midnight. We started at 10 a.m. Fourteen straight hours of decorating. But in the midst of headless Wise Men, broken ornaments, and pre-lit trees that no longer light up, the magic of Christmas started to reappear through the eyes of my kids.

And then I started to see it, too.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My First Born and Why I Think I May Have Birthed an Alien

My daughter is 11. Since she was very young I have been stupefied that I share even an ounce of genetic makeup with this child. If she didn't strongly resemble my likeness, or so I'm told, I would question whether or not we might have our own "switched at birth" story in the making. Polar opposites are we.

Her (as it pertains to sleep): Alarm goes off. Oh! It's time to get up! Let's get this day started. I shall first make my bed to perfection (to be addressed further in just a moment). Then I will fix my hair, brush my teeth, and go bounding downstairs to greet everyone I see with a smile. Happy, Happy Day! If I happen to get sleepy later, I'll power through. There's so much to be done on this fine day and napping is for quitters.

Me (as it pertains to sleep): Alarm goes off. Shit. It's morning already? Didn't I just go to sleep like 7 hours ago? Snooze. 4 times. Great. Now I'm running late. I haven't had any coffee yet so everyone is going to need to keep their voices on...silent. I already need a nap later. Bedtime in T-16 hours.

Her (as it pertains to getting things done): I only have 3 weeks until this assignment is due! I must complete it within the next hour. Also, in anticipation of possible upcoming projects, I shall research everything and write a report. Just in case. What? It is already August?! I must pick out my Halloween costume ASAP. We should probably have it overnighted.

Me (as it pertains to getting things done): Our flight isn't until tomorrow. I have plenty of time to pack. I'll stay up all night to do laundry as it appears that 6 of the 7 outfits I planned to take are dirty. Nevermind that we booked this trip three months ago. As long as it gets done, right? What do you mean what's for dinner? It's only 4:30. Why would you assume I know the answer to that?

Her (as it pertains to neatness): Please don't ask to help me make my bed. If this throw pillow isn't at the exact right angle, I will need to rip the whole thing apart and start over. Don't mess this up for me. That stuffed animal is supposed to go on the LEFT for crying out loud! Just let me do it. I think there is clutter on the kitchen counter - you should go address that.

Me (as it pertains to neatness): Okay, the bed thing she came by honestly. I have this thing about throw pillow placement perfection. And vacuuming (when I get around to it) in straight lines. We all have our quirks, okay? But, other than that, I can handle a little bit of untidy. I [shamefully] admit that some days I only straighten up so as not to be reprimanded by my tween when she arrives home from school.

Her (as it pertains to all things crafty): I want to learn how to sew. And bake. And scrapbook. And do every kind of hair braid and/or style ever invented. I will learn how to do all of these things through books and the Internet (since my mother is obviously going to be of no help). And I will be fabulous at it. I love Pinterest!

Me (as it pertains to all things crafty): Is this going to require a lot of ingredients? Like do I need to go to the store? The baking aisle makes me panicky. You mean to tell me I need hot glue? Don't you need a license to use one of those gun things? How am I supposed to do this hairstyle when I don't have 4 hands? Do we even OWN a needle and thread? I'm pretty sure the dry cleaner's will sew that button back on for a minimal charge. Pinterest sucks.

I'm told that we are nearing the age that I will be able to do nothing right and she will be able to do everything flawlessly. Unfortunately, in all likelihood, that might be true in many cases. But, I couldn't be more proud.  (Of HER, of course.)

Monday, November 19, 2012


Lots of things change when you become a mother. I'm not just talking about the lack of sleep or the fact that you must pack a small arsenal of household items before making a quick (Ha!) trip to the grocery store. I'm not talking about how your jeans don't fit right anymore or how you can no longer go out to dinner without paying a babysitter twice what said dinner costs just so you can have a conversation with your spouse without being interrupted 500 times or having to speak in code.

Before I was a mother, I could walk from one room to another and know exactly why I was there. I didn't put the milk in the pantry and the cereal in the refrigerator. I didn't have to hang up my phone so I could go look phone. I made complete sentences and they usually made sense. My brain cells (most of them anyway) worked as a team.

Before I was a mother, I grabbed my purse and walked out the door. I didn't need to go through the weekday morning drill that includes, "Do you have your lunch box, backpack, show and tell, book report, homework? Why are your shoes on the wrong feet? Did you brush your teeth? I think your shirt is on backwards. We'll try to remember to brush your hair tomorrow. Let me get the peanut butter off your forehead."

Before I was a mother, I slept when I felt like it. I didn't have to worry that if I shut my eyes for 15 minutes, I would risk someone getting into the cleaning products under the sink, or using markers on the walls, or drowning in the toilet.

Before I was a mother, I could watch television shows and movies without crying. I never cried. I once watched Steel Magnolias with a friend without shedding a tear. "Do you have no SOUL?", she asked. "Of course I do! I just don't cry. I'm IN CONTROL." But now my emotions are what I'd describe as unstable (at best) and I am no longer "IN CONTROL". The joke's on me. I find myself getting weepy over Sarah McLachlan songs and Hallmark commercials. Toy Story...forget about it. It's freakin' ridiculous.

Before I was a mother, I didn't care about another person's meal schedule, poop frequency (the fact that this is necessary is still mind-blowing to me), or snot color. I had never been peed on, pooped on, or vomited on. Neither had I cleaned any of those things out of the carpet.

Before I was a mother, if I was too tired to cook, I'd take a nap and then order take-out - regardless of how late it was. I didn't worry about balanced meals, and bath time, and bedtime stories, and tucking in, and goodnight kisses on the forehead.

Before I was a mother...
I had no idea what I was missing.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thank you, and you, and you.

Hey, you guys!

I have fallen behind on my postings. It has been a busy week and I will try to do better next week, as it is sure to be less eventful. Well, minus the Thanksgiving day thing. The kids are out of school ALL WEEK, so there is sure to be some good material just waiting to happen.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, I feel like now is a more than appropriate time to extend my blogging gratitude. 

It's been almost exactly two months since I started this venture, and what a ride it has been. I honestly love it more than I could have imagined. I want to send out a genuine and humble "Thank you!" to all of my readers. Whether you have read one post or all of them, knowing that anyone tunes in besides my mom and mother-in-law (HI!) makes my heart smile. I am IN NO WAY qualified to be a "real writer", but the blogosphere has allowed me an opportunity to share anyway - misspellings, bad grammar, swear words and all. Although I firmly believe that the internet is ruining the world, I am immensely thankful for its existence at this very moment and that I am able to have my own tiny corner of it. Writing has become a creative outlet, a social outlet, and a great excuse to let the laundry pile get bigger and pour myself another cup of coffee (or wine - you know, depending on time of day).

A very exciting thing that happened this week was that I have been accepted into a blogging group called "Blogging While Mom". I'm not exactly sure what this means, and it is probably WAY less of a big deal than I am making it out to be, but I am going to assume that it is good and use it as an affirmation that my writing doesn't totally stink it up. I think my favorite thing about blogging is that there is a HUGE network of other mom bloggers. I've made contact with a few of them and they are friendly, helpful, funny, intelligent, REAL people. I'm going to share some of them with you later this week so keep an eye out.

Getting the word out about my blog is an ongoing project. Truth be told, I'm totally inept when it comes to social media. I have a Facebook account, but I have been told by a few other bloggers that I might want to join Twitter. So I did. I have yet to tweet anything because it confuses me, what with all the @'s and #'s. Sometimes the internet makes me feel dumb. Anyway, follow me here and I'll work on not being such a tweediot.

While writing is in no way, shape, or form profitable - as a matter of fact, it is in some ways a monetary drain as I seem to get even LESS done around here than before - I'm going to keep at it because it is my escape from being "just a mom" (I just love it when people say that. Kind of makes me want to give them a hug. With a noose. Okay, sorry - that was kind of violent.) So again - thanks, readers for helping make it happen!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Easy-Bake My Ass

Well, it's that time of year again. Toy catalogs are arriving in abundance and Kay Jewelers is clogging up my precious grown-up TV time. Every kiss begins with you turning off that nauseating commercial.

I digress.

Tink and Dimples have compiled their Christmas lists. This activity entailed sitting down at the computer with pen and paper and dutifully studying toy websites (and for the season's must-haves (aka most expensive). I have glanced at their lists but have not yet studied them in depth. I have total confidence, though, that upon closer examination there will be at least one item on each of them that is a piece of crap, for lack of a better description.

We have fortunately moved past the days of wanting every.single.toy. advertised on television. One year I actually threatened to unplug all the TV's in our house until after Christmas if I heard "I want THAT!" one more time. But let's be honest - who is really being punished in that scenario? Now their selections mostly include things they've seen at friends' houses. And a wide selection of video games.

However, those days are not far behind us and I remember them well. There are a few toys that once graced the shelves of our toy closet that bore a special brand of hatred in my soul. The kind reserved for mosquitoes and violent criminals. I will share them with you now.

  • Moon Sand. I do not understand how this stuff won awards. Perhaps we got a defective batch, but I refuse to give it a rating any higher than craptacular. Its slogan is "Sand You Can Mold!" Newsflash: You can mold all sand. But, if you play with that shit in the house it is going to make a big freaking mess and you will be vacuuming it out of your carpet until you are put into the nursing home. I read the FAQ's on this stuff and there is a paragraph that says - and I quote - "Never let Moon Sand come in contact with detergent as it will remove the coating and render it into REGULAR SAND." Detergent is fancy for soap. So don't wash your hands before you play with it. And don't wash the surface on which it is going to be played with. Then it goes on to say, "When using Moon Sand indoors, it is best to play on a plastic sheet or mat placed over top of carpeting or tile. Hardwood flooring may become slippery with Moon Sand and therefore, is not recommended." In other words, don't let it touch any indoor surface. Reserve gifting this toy to the children of people you dislike. If your child receives it, you'll know where you stand.
  •  Bratz dolls. Some people may disagree with me here, and that's cool. Personal preference and all. I'm not one of those moms that holds some moral opposition to Barbie and the like because of its less than healthy portrayal of the female body. Whatever. She's got a killer wardrobe and awesome hair. But the whole premise of these little Bratz snots makes my skin crawl. I would prefer my daughter not admire a doll named for a person who by definition is : n. A child, especially a spoiled or ill-mannered one. Their catch phrase is "The Bratz are all about rockin' the hottest fashion trendz with their friends... and some serious attitude!" Yeah. Girls (no matter what age) don't need any encouragement in the attitude rocking department. And let's throw in a bad spelling lesson to boot. 
  • Easy Bake Oven. Possibly my most despised toy to date. Most moms I know relish the day their little girl gets her first EBO and spending an afternoon together in the kitchen creating tasty treats. WITH A LIGHT BULB. I did not get the memo that I was supposed to be super excited about this. Tink loved this toy. And it was because of her love for it that I allowed it to remain in our house for as long as it did. I would plead with her to "Let's just cook in the real oven! I'll let you crack the eggs and stir the batter and scoop the cookie dough! Way better!" No dice. We were cooking in a plastic box WITH A LIGHT BULB and miniature kitchen utensils. If you are not lucky enough to be familiar with how the EBO works, I'll break it down for you as simply as possible.
  1. Plug in your EBO. Let it "pre-heat" for at least 20 minutes. You are going to be cooking WITH A LIGHT BULB so it needs to reach maximum heat output. Heaven help you if you accidentally touch it. You might want to go ahead and get out the aloe. And pour yourself a drink right NOW.
  2. Open the package of delicious cookie or cake mix that cost you $5.99. Do not think about the fact that you could purchase all of the ingredients for a full-size cake for a fraction of that. 
  3. Pour the mix into your tiny mixing bowl. Add one TEASPOON (yes, teaspoon) of water. Stir. This will be either way too little or way too much. If it is too little, add a DROP - literally - no more, no less - of water until it reaches the right consistency. If you accidentally add too much, you are screwed so open another package of $5.99 mix. You are likely finished with your first drink by now, so go ahead and pour another. Don't feel bad about it. Just do it.
  4.  When you've finally achieved a consistency that appears as it would result in a dessert of some sort, either shape it into tiny cookies or pour it into the tiny cake pan that came with the EBO. Then use the weird handle/stick/pusher thing to insert the pan into the side slot, as there is no oven door. Allow confection to cook for approximately 10-12 minutes.
This baking extravaganza will yield you either 4 quarter size cookies or a half dozen dime-sized cupcakes, some quality mother-daughter time (minus a little swearing), and a slight buzz.

Hey, maybe it's not that bad after all.

**Note: I have heard that the new model of the EBO no longer requires a light bulb. Not sure what the toy geniuses used to replace that innovative cooking component, but I only have one thing to say to all of you that don't have to fool with changing such when it burned out: you lucky bastards.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My Smart Phone is Making Me Stupid

When I was in college, I would leave my parents' house and drive 3 1/2 hours back to school with no communication. I would call from a LAND LINE when I arrived at my destination. My "mobile phone" was the size of a carry-on suitcase and was to be used for "emergencies only", as the going rate per-minute was somewhere between arm, leg and your first-born.

Technology improved.

Five years ago I had a silver Nokia flip phone. With it, I had the ability to make or receive calls, text (if I need the letter 's' I had to push the '7' key four times), and take pictures. They were slightly higher quality than an Atari video game screen, but they were pictures nonetheless. I still have it sitting in a drawer around here somewhere. I'm sure if I powered it up, it would be fully charged even though it hasn't seen an electrical outlet in half a decade. It never dropped calls. When it closed, the keypad was covered, so I never butt-dialed anyone. I'm convinced I could have dropped that sucker from the top of the Empire State Building and it would have remained in one piece. Oh, Nokia. You kicked cell phone ass. 

Technology improved some more.

I didn't WANT a phone that had more features, but the snickering and whispers I would hear (from my husband) about my beloved flip phone finally got to me so I caved. My first step up was a Blackberry. I held on to that for about 2 years. Or however long it took for me to be eligible for an upgrade because cell service providers are criminals.

One day I went to Best Buy to see if they could fix a small problem I was having with it.

"You know you're eligible for an upgrade, right?"

I was eligible for the iPhone. Cue the Heavenly choir. Even though I SWORE I would not succumb to its evils, the iPhone and its magical powers got the best of me. I couldn't resist the lure of having all of those apps and the internet and a touch screen right at my fingertips. I was intoxicated by technology and I bought it on the spot.

I think I spent the next 6 hours with my face buried in it. Texting, Facebook, email, the internet, Words with Friends, Pinterest, iTunes, calendars, alarm clocks, reminders, Netflix, GPS, up-to-date weather, Pandora, etc., etc., etc. They were all available to me with the simple swipe of a finger.

This phone is ruining my life. I'm sure of it. The act of mindlessly looking at it has evolved into a nervous tick. That is the only explanation for why it happens at such a high frequency. I catch myself doing when you look at your watch 5 times in a row and still don't know what time it is. I don't even know what it is I'm looking at. Nothing interesting is happening on Facebook. I should know - I've looked at it 30 times in the last 10 minutes. I'm so frustrated with Pinterest that I only look at the "funnies", but everyone is just pinning the same things over and over and over. Stop telling me to 'Keep Calm' about everything for crying out loud. And I've been waiting 7 whole minutes for Smartypants123 to play me back in Words With Friends. My mind is turning to mush and I'm letting it happen.

I won't deny that smartphones are an amazing technology. Because they are amaaaaaazing. Like Sci-Fi amazing. But I hate that If I leave my house without my phone, I'm as good as headless. I should probably seek out some sort of support group. I'm sure they exist.

I'm anxious (and a little terrified) of what technological advancements the next 10 years will bring. So I think maybe I'll stay right where I'm at with cell phone technology. It can't get better than what we already have. Can it?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Man's Best Friend

We have two dogs. One of them is a shih-tzu/poodle mix - I believe they call them "designer dogs" these days. The other is a rescue - we think a mix of shepherd and heeler and who knows what else. So, basically they're both mutts.

They do stupid and annoying things on a routine (pretty much daily) basis. If the little one (Oliver) makes his last trip out to the bathroom before 10 p.m., there is at least a 75% chance that he's going to poop somewhere in the house during the night. The middle of the living room floor seems to be his preferred dumping ground (pun intended). If he's being especially generous, he'll leave a second pile for me in the middle of the entry way rug. He's giving that way. He is also obsessed with chasing balls. We have to hold him down when the children are playing with one in the backyard or he will steal it and run. "Sharing is caring" is not a motto he has chosen to live by.

When we first got the big one (Autumn) a little over a year ago from a local rescue group, she went through quite an adjustment period (as did we) getting used to her new family. She would panic and destroy things when we left her alone. Expensive things. Like Nikon cameras and PlayStation remote controls (I'm still trying to shake those two things off). It took a few months, but she finally chilled out and is one of the most loving dogs I've ever been around. Now she just rearranges throw pillows while we are out. She collects them from the couches, the chairs, and the beds, and puts them in the middle of the living room floor. There's also a stuffed animal she seems to fancy that belongs to Dimples - a monkey (one of those Build-a-Bear things) - that I have found twice in the living room floor with his clothes removed. She did, after all, come with some baggage.

They bark when the doorbell rings, they dig holes in the flower beds, they get muddy, they climb on the furniture, and they chew holes in our dirty socks. They have to be bathed, and groomed, and boarded when we go out of town. They need shots and heartworm medicine and pills to ensure they don't get fleas. THEY ARE REAL PAINS IN THE ASS.

I found myself feeling especially discouraged about the human race after hearing and reading a barrage of negative comments over the past few days regarding the election. I came home from running errands and they met me at the door with "smiles" on their faces and tails merrily wagging. They didn't care if I'd been gone two weeks or two hours. Nothing could have made them happier at that moment than me walking through the door. It's really hard not to cheer up - at least a little - when you've got your own personal welcoming committee every time you enter the house.

I complain about our dogs and their antics regularly. But yesterday I thought about some of the things that make them (and pets in general) kind of awesome.

1. They eat out of metal bowls on the floor and I scoop their food (that I don't have to cook) out of a plastic bin that we keep in the garage.
2. If I yell at them they don't yell back. Or cry. Or roll their eyes. Or say "whatever".
3. I never have to get out the broom when I drop food on the floor. And they have yet to complain about what I made for dinner.
4. If they are getting on my nerves, I can put them in the backyard all day long and no one will report me to the authorities.


5. They don't give a shit who is President.

You mean to tell me that YOU'RE not President?!?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Skinny Shminny

I'm pretty average. I'm not skinny, I'm not overweight. I'm "softer" than I used to be, but so it goes when you hit 30 something and your metabolism suddenly decides to go on permanent vacation. I've always been moderately active, but I've noticed that it takes a lot more effort to work off Halloween and Thanksgiving (and all the days in between) than it did when I was 25.

I see all of these ridiculous boards on Pinterest (don't worry - I'm not about to go on another Pinterest rant) about fitness and workouts and basically how being skinny makes you pretty. They are usually paired with a picture of some woman's abs or her borderline manly biceps. They annoy me and I personally feel that they send a terrible message about body image and societal expectations. If you don't fit a certain mold you are clearly substandard. Blech.

A few years ago Kate Moss was quoted, "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels". I'm not "skinny", so I don't guess I really know if it's true. I've tasted pizza and I'm pretty sure I could go head to head with her in a debate over that opinion. Of course I'd have sustenance on my side since I would have eaten in the last week. Anyway, I see that quote everywhere these days. And it pisses me off. I actually came across a picture of a CHILD wearing a t-shirt with that printed on it. Future eating disorder, anyone?

I'm all for fitness and health. I don't think it's appropriate to feed my children McDonald's every day. I think it is important to teach them to be active and that rotting their brains out on television and video games all day is a bad idea. But, I want them to do it for health reasons...not for fear of being called "fat". 

I have come to the realization over the last couple of years that I should probably adjust my expectation of what "fitness" means to me. It used to be a number on a scale or a jeans size. Sometimes I let it bother me that I don't look like I did when I first got married or that those "pre-pregnancy" jeans I've let hang in the closet all these years really should find another home. It has been 7 1/2 years since I last gave birth. Baby weight is really no longer a valid excuse (dammit). It is time. 

As much as I'd love to have my 20-something body back, I think I'd be better off looking at eating right and staying active as a means to stay healthy rather than to meet someone else's expectations of "beautiful".

I have therefore compiled a short list of the top reasons I'll never be "skinny".

1. Pizza. Or any other food made of cheese and bread.
2. I am incredibly persuasive. I can talk myself out of going to the gym any time I want.
3. Coffee, beer, wine, and a wide variety of other high-calorie beverages that I feel increase my quality of life.
4. Cupcakes. Even though they are made of the same ingredients as actual cake, they are cuter and therefore irresistible.
5. I am an omnivore. And I lean heavily towards the meat-eater side of that classification. We are at the top of the food chain, people. Make the most of it.
6. Ranch dressing. It is unnecessary to elaborate.
7. I love fruit. I love it more when it is inside of a baked good or accompanied by cream cheese.
8. I'm from Texas. The land of plenty when it comes to Tex-Mex. Chips and salsa, baby. 
9. Carbs. 
10. Stretchy pants. Thank you, God, for stretchy pants.

I can honestly say I'm not willing to give these things up. Not completely, anyway. Moderation...yeah. Moderation is key. I'm not willing to sustain SOLELY on lettuce and whole grains and other tasteless fare. Or spend every minute of my spare time at the gym (because that would suck). I will not ever be a Kate Moss. And I'm totally okay with that.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Technologically Dependent

We've all seen the devastation that hurricane Sandy has done to the East Coast. People have lost their homes, all of their possessions...everything. It is absolutely heartbreaking. Many that still have homes are left without power or running water. People are stuck inside with young children and no television. Or internet access. Yikes. I'm making light of a very serious matter here - not because I don't recognize the urgency of the situation, but because I know I would be a certified loon if I were faced with that nightmare. It has reminded me of what I was like when we were going to be without technology for a couple of days. It is pathetic and embarrassing...and true.

When we were in the process of moving to California almost exactly a year ago, the kids and I stayed behind to close up shop in Utah after Charming started his new position. We had been through this before, so I knew what to expect with the relocation company, packers, loaders, and movers, and all the other crap that goes with it. Simply put, it's a giant pain in the ass.

The packers are usually men. Which I think is weird. Men are not always the should I put this...meticulous. I've seen Charming pack a suitcase. I don't want him packing up our crystal. These packer guys will put whatever is in a general area in the same box. They will use a shit ton of packing paper to protect it, but there is NO discretion when it comes to categorizing. I found my silverware in the same box as some stuff from one of our bookcases (that was NOT located in the kitchen). I have yet to figure that out.

The day the packers come, you had better be good and ready. Anything and everything in your house WILL BE PUT IN A BOX. If you don't want it to go, you had better get it out of sight. I had an area designated for stuff that was not to be packed, and they were good about leaving it alone. I accidentally left some stuff on the counter that I didn't want packed - snacks, paper towels, plastic silverware - to get us through the next few days. I told them not to pack it, but I turned my back and it ended up in a box. Oh, well. Easily replaced.

The loaders come the next day. Also a group of men. Which I understand - heavy lifting and all. They operate the same way. If you don't want something loaded on the truck, you sure as hell better not have it anywhere in sight. They move like tornadoes. You leave the room for 5 minutes, come back and it's empty. No joke.

The day the loaders came, the kids were at school and I was tying up all the loose ends from moving - turning off utilities, getting school records sent over, etc. At one point while they were there, I had to leave to go to the store. I had packed a big Rubbermaid box of electronics to keep the kids entertained for our 12 hour drive to California. We lost the remote control to the DVD player in my car (and it won't work without the remote - major design flaw in my opinion), so they each had a mini DVD player and some movies, their handheld video game thingies (with games), some books, and Tink got an e-reader for Christmas that she wanted to take. I'd say there was easily $500 worth of technology in this container. When I left to go to the store I took one of the loaders aside and said, "See this box? This box is NOT to be packed. Please. It is very important that it remain IN THIS HOUSE. I have to run an errand. I will be back in 15 minutes."

"Yes, ma'am. No problem."

So, I leave. I'm feeling good about how things are going, but I decide not to lollygag and I return in a timely manner. I walk around the house to survey how things are progressing and...what the?

"Where's my box? The box I asked you not to pack. It was right there. Now it's gone."

Everyone is moving around me like they don't hear me. I pull the loader guy aside that I spoke to before I left.

Me: "Where's that box I asked you not to pack?'

Loader Guy: "Uhhhhh....."

Me: "Please tell me you didn't pack it."

Loader Guy: "Uhhhhh...."

My eyes get big and googly. The other loaders are still working, but they soon start gathering around because they begin to realize that the lady that lives here is about to LOSE HER SHIT.

Me: "Are you kidding me? I have to be in the car FOR 12 HOURS with TWO CHILDREN and you packed the box of entertainment WHEN I SPECIFICALLY ASKED YOU NOT TO AND WHAT AM I GOING TO DO NOW AREYOUTRYINGTORUINMYLIFE???"

I asked the guys if they knew where it was on the truck.

Me: "Can you see it? Can you reach it? I was gone 15 minutes. It can't be that far back."

Head Loader Guy: "Yeah. It's waaaaay back there. It'd put us back at least 3 hours to get it out and put everything back."

Me: "Three hours?!? That makes no sense. It took you 15 minutes to get it on there along with all this other crap."

An uncomfortable period of time of staring at each other commenced.

Me: "Fine. Forget it."

Then I start walking around yelling to myself and waving my arms crazily about while they stood there watching me. Oh, and I was doing the ugly cry by now. Not one of my finer moments. But in my defense, on top of being exhausted from getting things ready for the move and handling most of the process alone, I was an emotional wreck. I'd said most of my good-bye's at this point and I was doing good to go half an hour without bursting out in tears. This event simply pushed me over the edge. Thank God the kids were at school and didn't have to witness their mother go balls-to-the-wall insane.

We made it to California just fine without the box. No one lost their mind and we did a lot of talking and singing and playing car games. And A LOT of talking. Plus Charming brought his iPad that he had taken with him to California (I forgot about that!). Big help. Because neither of the children slept ONE MINUTE the entire way. So we talked a lot. Did I mention we did a lot of talking?

All this being said, my heart goes out to everyone who was effected by Sandy. Especially those who lost everything, but also the ones who are just trying to get their toddler to understand why they can't watch 'Max and Ruby' again today.  It kind of makes me want to punch myself for whining about...well, anything.

Count your blessings. Then count them again. 

If you'd like to donate to victims of Sandy or other disaster relief causes, click here.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Hardest Job EVER

Parenting is mercilessly brutal.

You could read all the parenting books, manuals, magazines, and advice columns ever written and learn lots about getting your child to sleep through the night, the most effective way to handle tantrums, tricks to get kids to eat vegetables, or the best methods for treating fevers. But I have yet to see anything that addresses how to go about the rest of your life wearing your heart on the outside of your body.

Last night, we got home from trick-or-treating and Tink came and sat next to me on the couch. Her eyes were a little watery and I could tell she had been crying. She seemed a little subdued earlier in the evening, but I thought all the excitement had finally gotten to her and she was beginning the ugly downward spiral of post-Halloween sugar intoxication. 

Me: "What's wrong, Sweets?"

Tink: (as tears begin flowing) "One of my best friends from school is going to a new school. Today was her last day so she won't be there tomorrow. She was so nice and she was never mean to me. I'm going to miss her."

Me: "Did you get her phone number? We can always call her and she can come over to play. You can still see her again."

Tink: "I forgot to get it. And now she's gone."

Me: "We know her last name, so we can look it up. If we can't find it, I'll ask the secretary at school. I'm sure they have her number in a file. We'll figure something out."

This incident by itself is not a big deal. Kids are resilient and "best friends" at that age tend to change with the seasons. I was sad that Tink was upset, but she's 11 and in a couple of weeks this will be a blip on the radar. However, for some reason during this conversation, it hit me LIKE A FREAKING TSUNAMI that there are so many things that could (and will) come her way that I just won't be able to fix. And that sucks. Sometimes I wish I could put my kids in a bubble to protect them from the shit storm that is the world we live in. But I can't. And even if I could, by doing so they would miss out on so many experiences that are truly beautiful.

We're in the pre-teen years and I'm absolutely terrified of what is coming. Teenage girls can be horrible creatures. I was one. And unfortunately, while I can't remember what I had for lunch yesterday, I remember adolescence. Which seems unfair on so many levels. Anyway...not only will she be one of them, but she'll be around others of her "kind" and it's just a giant calamity of out-of-whack hormones and drama. I'm really looking forward to it. 

While the mother/daughter fighting is sure to commence in time, there will also be those times that she comes to me hurting - and I won't be able to fix it. Which is even worse.

Having children is the ultimate paradox. There are no other people on earth that you can love so intensely, want to protect so fiercely, but in a matter of minutes can make you so mad you feel like your head will explode. It is the puzzle that can NEVER be solved. There will always be that one missing piece that got chewed up by the dog or sucked up in the vacuum cleaner.

I laid in bed with Tink last night until she fell asleep. I scratched her back and played with her hair until she drifted off to dream land. For five minutes I made it better. It is comforting, but also truly terrifying to have that kind of power.

Kids should come with labels. WARNING: Your life will never again be your own. Have fun with that.