Monday, December 30, 2013

Family Time

How does that saying go? The best laid plans of mice and men often turn to shit in a hurry? Or something like that?

My husband took off Christmas Eve through the rest of last week. I was really excited because convincing that man to take time off work is like pulling teeth. Except less gross. We made no plans but to hang out in our jammies, play with the kids, relax, drink wine, and watch a bunch of episodes of Breaking Bad. A glorious little staycation is what we were looking at.

By Friday morning I started to get restless. I refused to spend the next 3 days with each of us face down in our respective iWhatevers. We live practically in the dead center of California, which means we are 90 miles from the ocean, and 90 miles from the mountains. I wasn't in the mood for skiing so I suggested we head the other direction and take in the salty sea air. I made the executive decision that we would get up early Saturday morning, drive over to Monterey, spend the day riding bikes along the Monterey Coastal Trail, and have a nice dinner. I even made reservations for us to spend the night so we wouldn't be faced with an exhausting late-night drive home after our family day of fun. Everyone was on board and excited.

Saturday morning I bolted out of bed. What time was it? It was too bright outside. We overslept. I shoved husband out of bed then ran to each of the kids' rooms to wake them up. "Everyone up! Family day of fun! We're late! We need to get a move on!"

Everyone, save myself, was moving at a snail's pace. Very out of character for me, I might add. Somehow we still managed to get out the door only half an hour later than planned, which was nothing short of a miracle. We promised the kids we would stop at our favorite breakfast place in town, so that was our first stop.

Our plan was to eat a big breakfast and have an afternoon snack so we wouldn't have to get off the trail to have lunch. The waitress brought our food to the table and we each dug in. Well, all of us except the 8 year-old. Apparently he had been served a heaping plate of poison disguised as sausage and biscuits. At least that's what you would assume given his reaction. He is currently going through a phase not unlike the kid brother in the movie "Christmas Story". Except instead of taking the perky "Show mommy how the piggies eat!" approach, I tend to go with more of a "eat it or starve" mean frowny face strategy.

So there we sit, 3 empty plates, one untouched. Husband goes bananas regarding the 8 year-old, who is sitting next to me.

"Why aren't you MAKING him eat?"

"Excuuuuse me?? Am I supposed to SHOVE it down his throat? I told him he was going to be really hungry if he didn't eat because it was going to be a long time until lunch. That's about all I can do."

"IF YOU DON'T EAT WE'RE NOT GOING!"

"Are you kidding me? We ARE going! This is our family day of fun, dammit! Everyone shut up and get in the car."

So we pile out of the restaurant and back into the car. No one speaks for at least  an hour.

We arrive at our destination and get everything unloaded. We hit the trail. Five minutes into the bike ride I realize I am missing my watch.

"WHERE'S MY WATCH I LOST MY WATCH OH NO I HAVE TO GO BACK AND FIND MY WAAAAAAATTTTTCHHHH!!!!"

"Jesus. Seriously? You lost your watch? Stay here with the kids. I'll go back."

Husband goes back to look for my watch while the kids and I waited. Fortunately he found it and quickly returned. Crisis averted.

Things smoothed out. We had a nice bike ride, we took a walk along the wharf, stopped at a little eatery for a snack and a couple of beers, and I even got a picture or two that were good enough for Facebook documentation of our "perfect" family day of fun. Which is all that really matters, right? (That's called sarcasm.) 



I booked a mid-priced hotel. Nothing fancy, yet nice enough that I wasn't too concerned that we might be murdered in our sleep. Besides the usual ridiculous complaints about water pressure or the front desk not answering the phone halfway through the first ring, it got mostly decent reviews. I do find it weird, though, that no one mentioned the place was constructed of cardboard.

Husband and I were awoken pre-light by the sounds of the people across the hall getting ready for the day. I feel certain that they either set up camp right outside our door, or were actually using the hair dryer in OUR bathroom. A child screamed bloody murder for no less than 10 minutes. He was never reprimanded or taken elsewhere, so I can only assume they were in the hallway removing each of his appendages with a butter knife. I guess I'll never know because I was too tired to get up and check.

Husband turned to me and asked, "Is there an obnoxious family standing right next to our bed? I can't see them but they HAVE to be there. Wait. Are they IN the bed with us?"

I was taught not to curse violently at children or strangers, which was the only thing keeping me from sticking my head out the door and shouting, "ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW?" And that would have been the clean version.

We were awake much earlier than planned, so we decided to just get up and head home. We got donuts and coffee on the way out of town. The kids fell back asleep and husband and I got to talk for quite a while without being interrupted. We even pulled over at a winery and did a little wine tasting at 10 in the morning. Well, not the kids. Obviously.

Perfect little family day of fun, if I do say so myself.



Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Please Don't Throw Tomatoes.

I did it. I made a vlog. I look and sound as uncomfortable as I was. Which was VERY. Instead of wrapping presents and addressing Christmas cards (which I ended up doing while I was making the video), I spent the majority of my day obsessing over recording myself talk to the internet about nothing. Priorities, people. Also, we had roughly 2 weeks notice, so naturally I did this the day before they were scheduled to go live. I work best under pressure even though the stress makes me yell at the innocent.

You wouldn't believe how long it took me to do a video where I didn't get totally tongue tied or say "ummm" every other word. Just kidding - I absolutely say "ummm" every other word in this one, too. Whatever. I'm not doing it again. Deal with it.

I did this vlog as part of a holiday project with Bluntmoms. It's an online writer's group that I'm a part of and it's pretty sweet. Check it out. But wait until after you watch my vlog. You're not going to want to stray away from this page just yet and risk missing all of that awesomeness.

AFTER you watch my vlog, click on all the linky links down at the bottom. We did this kind of as a game of telephone - each answering a question from the previous blogger, then sending a question on to the next one in line. It's a great way to find some new people to follow, and to get out of doing any real work. So I'm gonna watch all of them. Obviously.

Aaaaand now the moment you've all been waiting for....






So, there's that.  And I'm going to be expected to go out in public again soon. Probably today, as a matter of fact. Shit.

As promised, here's the links to all the bloggers that participated in this little game. Go pay them a visit. And thanks for sticking it out through the video. I dig your tenacity.

REMEMBER - Next in line is Sarah. Click here to see her answer

Merry Christmas!

BluntMoms

Julie at Three Chickens and a Boat

Meredith at The Girl Next Door Drinks and Swears

Sarah at More Than Your Average Mom

Tiffany at My Dirt

Kristi at The Robot Mommy

Pamela at Divorce Doula

Lynn at The Nomad Mom Diary

Kyla at Mommy's Weird

Cordelia at Multilingual Mama

Anne at Food Retro

Christine at Whine and Cheese

Kim at Two Bugs and a Blog



Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Let's Do This.

I'm tired of feeling like the world is full of terrible people doing terrible things.

There seems to be an endless supply of news stories about crime or mass shootings or war or other equally depressing happenings times infinity.

If I let myself think about about it too hard or too long, I kind of want to flee the planet. They don't have these problems in space probably. 

But then I see or hear or read something wonderful and my heart gets happy and I feel better about living among all the other humans. 

That happened yesterday. 

My husband was texting me from a cross-country flight because TECHNOLOGY IS AMAZING. He was bored and giving me a play-by-play of the on-board happenings. He was seated near two women, each traveling with young children. He's never bothered by sitting near kids because he has them, too. But that's not the case with every passenger and if you've ever traveled with young children, you know that airplanes can be a place where the assholiest of assholes band together to hate those of us who bring them with us on public transportation. 

One of the children was a little girl, around 7 years old. She and her mom had been seated in separate rows, and the little girl ended up sitting next to two men, her mom across the aisle. The in-flight movie was 'Monster's University' and the little girl didn't have any headphones. One of the men sitting next her was listening to his iPod, noticed she couldn't hear the movie, and gave his up to the little girl.

BUT WAIT. 

At one point the flight got pretty turbulent. My husband said it wasn't just a little bumpy...the plane was actually rocking. The little girl puked. The seatbelt sign was on, so her Mom couldn't get up to help her. The men - strangers, might I remind you - THEY CLEANED UP THE LITTLE GIRL'S PUKE, YOU GUYS.

BUT WAIT.

The other mother seated nearby had been working tirelessly to console her crying baby. When the seatbelt sign went off allowing passengers to get up, another woman sitting near the mother (they didn't know each other) asked if she could help with the baby. She then proceeded to rock and dance in the aisle with her until she went to sleep.

As I was reading these texts, I'm ashamed to admit that I kind of found myself in shock and awe. Not because I don't think people are capable of doing nice things, but because so rarely are they the ones that make headlines. The world's negativity has jaded me.

We are so quick to point out when people do things wrong. I know I'm guilty. But, I've come to a turning point over the past couple of months. I can't pinpoint the catalyst, but something has happened that's made me aware that I'm not doing my part to make this world a better place. Simply existing as a non-criminal member of society is just not doing it for me. I feel like I am capable of so much more. 

Let's start small, shall we?

Before he signed off as the plane was about to land he said, "These are good people. If I had some 'Good Human' coupons, I'd give them to some of the people on this plane."

I laughed for a second and then I was like...WHOA. That is a genius idea (although I really have to be careful about telling him things like that - you know, because of the head-swelling and all). 

Have you seen those "You suck at parking" cards? They're really a thing. You can actually buy them. There are lots of options, but this one was the least rude I could find. Really.




I'll admit to thinking these are funny. Because, really? Is it that difficult?

Deep breath...I digress... (P.S. I don't have any of those cards.)

Most people -ahem - wouldn't think twice about sticking one of those babies under a deserving someone's wiper. Amirite?

So why don't we commend people for doing nice things when we see them happen? I think that sucks of us. Wait. I shouldn't assume you're guilty. It sucks of ME. Boooooo, ME! Big fat thumbs down for ME. The good news is...it's never too late to pick up a good habit. It might feel awkward at first, but I'm going to fight through it. I AM GOING TO FIGHT THROUGH IT. You will never regret making someone feel like they matter. I believe this.

Here is my proposal. Remember the "Good Human" coupons my husband mentioned? Well, I googled it and can you believe I came up short? Nothing. Nada. Maybe I didn't look hard enough, but the only ones I did find were sarcastic. Shocking. So, I made some. I'm going to carry them with me. I'm going to give them to my kids to carry around, too. And we are going to hand them out.



 I hope the outcome will be 3-fold.
1. A "Good Human", as my husband coined them, will be recognized for doing a good thing.
2. The "Good Human", in turn, will be encouraged to do more good things.
3. When carrying these cards, we will constantly be on the lookout for other "Good Humans" which will inadvertently turn our focus away from the negative. Yay!

I invite you to join me. Feel free to print your own sheet of cards here

I know I can't change the world, but I can change my view of the world. And maybe - just maybe - I can change yours, too?

**I don't ask this often, but if you can get on board with this, or have friends that might, please share it. There is no monetary benefit to me (it could actually end up costing me money) - all I'll get is that feel good feeling of making a difference. **



Wednesday, October 16, 2013

What's Your Excuse?

Have you seen the latest big Facebook controversy? I'm not going to include a photo because I'm still not clear on copyright infringement blah blah blah, but it's an image of a woman surrounded by her three children, ages 3, 2, and 8 months. She is dressed in a sports bra and fitted shorts. She is very attractive and in great shape. The caption reads, "What's Your Excuse?"

Cue: Internet firestorm. 

I will not travel down the road of slamming the woman in the picture. I don't know her. I don't know whether she has great genetics (maybe), or works out hours and hours a day (very likely), or adheres to a very strict diet (my guess would be yes). What I do know is that at some point she's made some significant sacrifices to look the way she does. And she does look good. I'm sure having a body like that makes her feel happy and confident and complete in some way. Good for her. We all deserve to feel good about ourselves.

HOWEVER. I do take exception with the caption.
  
"What's your excuse?"

I'm sure the intended message was supposed to be motivational. Something along the lines of, "This woman is super busy with 3 young children, yet she has managed to stay in shape. You can do it, too!"

But (at least in my case), that was not the message received. It might as well have read, "What's your problem? Are you lazy? You must not be trying hard enough. IF YOU DON'T LOOK LIKE THIS, YOU SUCK."

I don't look like that.

And for a minute, I was pretty down on myself. Then I started to reflect. 

I've been moderately active for most of my adult life. Actually, for most of my life. I'm not overweight, but neither am I "skinny" or super fit. A few years ago I ran 3 half-marathons in the span of about 12 months. Not a monumental feat, but it was a big deal for me. While I was training, I would run several times a week - sometimes more than 10 miles at a time. And I still didn't look like that. I have never looked like that. I will probably never look like that.

I don't LOVE working out. I do it for my health, and to prevent myself from needing a new wardrobe. I do it so I can go skiing and hiking and bike riding with my family. I do it so I can play catch with my son, and do cartwheels in the yard with my daughter.

What I do love is having a few glasses of wine on the patio with my husband. I love making brownies with my daughter and fighting over who gets the last lick of the batter bowl. I love going out to our favorite pizza dive on Friday night and drinking a cold beer out of a tall, frosty mug. I love catching up with my husband on Saturday morning after a hectic week, snuggled under a blanket with a steamy cup of coffee. Or three. These things make me happy. But, they also prevent me from looking like a swimsuit model. Whatever.

Sure I'd like to lose a few pounds. Always. I also know I'd have to give up a lot of the things I listed above to get to where she is. So, what's my "excuse"? 

Maybe it's that I'm okay with me...just the way I am. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

You're Not Ready for This

I watched the movie "Juno" this weekend. There's a scene where Jennifer Affleck and Jason Bateman's characters have a conversation about whether or not they are ready to be parents.

I've witnessed this conversation in real life. In fact, I had this conversation with my husband before we decided to start a family. It went like this, "We have jobs. We have somewhere to live. We know how to hold a baby, and feed a baby, and dress a baby, and play with a baby. We're totally ready."

What a couple of idiots.

We may have understood the basics of childcare, but we were in NO WAY prepared to be parents. Hell. I've been a parent for almost 13 years and I'm still not ready.

You can read all of the parenting books and attend all of the parenting classes and listen to all the advice of your friends and parents and grandparents, and still not be prepared for...

Calling to check on your infant soon after returning to work only to hear them crying in the background. Then looking down to see giant circles of milk leaking on to your shirt. And you have a staff meeting in 5 minutes.

Leaving a full cart in the middle of the grocery store because your toddler puked all over you. And aisle 3. 

Holding down a sick child to give them breathing treatments. Every 4 hours. Around the clock. 

Watching your child throw themselves on the ground and have a tantrum right in the middle of the mall. And talking yourself out of leaving them there. 

Counting number of poops. Cleaning up poop. Touching poop. Finding poop. Ohmygodsomuchpoop.

PBS Kids and the Disney Channel. ALL. DAY. LONG.

Cleaning puke out of a 5-point carseat. With travel-sized tissues. Because you're out running errands. And you forgot to pack EVERYTHING IN YOUR HOUSE. 

Staying up all night in an emergency room because your 2 year-old can't breathe. 

Listening, helpless, to your child scream as they try to find a vein for an IV because she's dehydrated. And realizing you would do anything in the world to just trade places with her.

Family portraits in black crayon on newly painted pink bedroom walls. Or carvings into expensive dining room tables. And chairs. 

Taking care of a baby that has a stomach virus. And you have it, too

Holding your breath after dropping your kid off at school because once on a Friday morning in December, some parents in Connecticut said good-bye for the last time. And not a day goes by that it doesn't cross your mind as you watch them walk away. 

The guilt. Ohmygodsomuchguilt.

Consoling your crying child over hurt feelings. And trying not to cry yourself because you remember.

The fear of failing.

But mostly? Mostly I wasn't prepared for a love so big and encompassing and unconditional that it's as if I'm wearing my heart on the outside of my body. Forever. 





Friday, September 27, 2013

It's Eventually Going to be OUR Fault.

When I was in second grade, you could get out of recess if you brought a note from a parent saying you were sick. I don't remember why I hated recess, but I did. I wanted to stay inside and color. One day I figured out that I could kinda-sorta forge my mom's signature. So,  I decided I'd try my luck and attempt to get myself out of the horror that was getting some midday fresh air.

It worked.

So, of course, because it worked once, I tried it again. And again. And again. Finally my teacher caught on to my "That note is just messy because my mom was in a hurry" story, and she gave my parents a call.

Busted.

They made me apologize to my teacher. As in stand in front of her face-to-face and say, "I'm sorry for lying." And then, because we were Catholic at the time, they made me go to confession. (Hell, they were so mad that they probably would have made me go to confession even if we wouldn't have been Catholic.) I had to sit across from a priest and tell him that I had lied to my teacher AND my parents. And THEN, to really drive it home, I was made to actually follow through with my penance. I walked to the front of the mostly empty sanctuary, kneeled in a pew, and recited a million Hail Mary's. (That number is approximate). 

What did I learn from that experience?

Fuck-Ups = Consequences.

Also, I did not forge any more signatures.

A friend posted a news story yesterday about some teenagers breaking into the former NFL player, Brian Holloway's, vacation home to have a party. By "some" I mean approximately 300, and by "party" I mean break windows, spray paint walls, and urinate on the floors. The teens, being the brilliant creatures they are, documented all of this on Twitter and Instagram.

Mr. Holloway, in turn, posted those pictures on his website.

Then, all the parents and kids involved in the incident wrote letters of apology along with money to help cover the $20,000+ in damages, and everyone lived happily ever after. The end. 

Oh, wait. 

I got that mixed up with what SHOULD have happened.

What actually happened is that he has now been threatened to be sued by some of the parents. Sued for putting pictures (that had already been posted for all of the internets to see) on his website, and thereby defaming their children.

He even invited the teens and parents to return to the property to help repair the damage. One showed up. ONE. I guess the other 299 had something more important going on that day.

I have no words.

On second thought, maybe I have a few words.

This generation is going to be in charge of shit one day in the not-so-distant future, you guys. Quite frankly, I'm terrified.

My teacher friends, my coach friends, and virtually everyone else I know that works with young people in some capacity have each at some point told me how, with increasing frequency, parents are refusing to make their child be held accountable for anything. Whether it be grades or behavior, the parents are first in line to protest that "It's not his fault!"

Really?

Not turning in assignments because they spent all night playing video games...that's their fault. Sitting the bench because they didn't show up or screwed around in practice...that's their fault.

And guess what. Vandalizing someone else's property because all their friends were doing it...that's their fucking fault.

My youngest is extremely strong-willed, and not always the most compliant. We had a family discussion a few nights ago regarding responsibility and expectations. He did not like what we had to say, and took exception to the consequences we laid out should they choose not to follow the rules. He voiced his disgruntled opinion. Our response was rated PG (of course) and lengthy, but in summation it went something like this..."Too fuckin' bad." And then he was sent to his room for being disrespectful.

No one gets this parenting gig 100% right. I screw things up on the regular. My kids, just like everyone else's, are going to make some monumentally stupid decisions along the way. Which is precisely why I don't think it's out of the realm of reasonable expectations that ALL kids learn this lesson: 

Fuck-Ups = Consequences.

If we don't teach our kids to hold themselves accountable because we are always on the front lines saying, "It's not his fault!", they'll come to expect that defense no matter the situation.

Flunk out of college? Mom and Dad will get me back in.

Lose my job? Mom and Dad will find me another one.

Don't want to take care of my kids? Mom and Dad will take over. 

And who's fault is that kind of mentality?

You guessed it. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

I'm a Morning Person, Dammit.

We've been married for 16 years. 

You would think in that amount of time one would figure out whether or not their spouse was a morning person. 

You would think. 

Yet, this still happens. 

6:37 - My alarm goes off. I hit snooze. 

Approximately 27 seconds later my husband is standing next to me and says, "Don't you think you better get up?" 

"I do not get up the first time my alarm goes off. I build in time for that when I set it. We've been over this."

"Why don't you just set it for the actual time you need to get up?"

"Because I need to hit snooze. It helps me transition. Why are you making me talk right now? You're eating up my snooze time."

"It's only 9 minutes. You should just get up."

"I feel like you hate me."

"Being a morning person is an attitude, you know. You don't have some sort of affliction that prevents it."

"It's Friday. I don't understand why you've chosen to start the weekend off making me feel murdery."

And then he walked away. 

And then my snooze time was up and my alarm went off again. 

And then he asked me to iron his pants. 

And I did not kill him.

Which once and for all proves I'm a morning person. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

My Smart Phone is STILL 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 or so 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 only 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 observation deck 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 lovingly held on to that and it's clickety little keyboard 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?"

Cue the Heavenly choir. I was eligible for the iPhone. 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 spent the next 6 hours with my face buried in it. Texting, Facebook, email, all of the internets, 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.

And now - 3 years later - 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 it...like 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. Pinterest just pisses me off. And I've been waiting 7 whole minutes for Smartypants123 to play me back in Words With Friends. Lord have mercy on my soul if I ever start playing Candy Crush. Because my mind is turning to mush and I'm willingly letting it happen.

I won't deny that smartphones are an amazing technology. AH-MAY-ZING. Real life sci-fi kind of shit. It blows my mind that I can summon information FROM SPACE to a box of metal and plastic hold in my hand. But I hate that if I leave my house without this man-made miracle, 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 honestly 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?


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Remembering Childhood and Letting Go of the "Mom Guilt"

I was allowed to watch more than 30 minutes of television every day.

There were days that I played hours upon hours of Nintendo.

I was expected to eat what was presented to me and was not offered alternatives.

Sometimes we ate dinner on TV trays instead of around a dinner table so we could watch our favorite family sitcoms.

I was expected to entertain myself when my parents worked around the house or in the yard or if they just needed a break.

Expectations were set for my behavior and when I fell short, there were consequences.

Sometimes I was yelled at and sometimes I was spanked.

We did not make homemade organic finger paints or edible Play-Doh and not once did I wake up amidst an explosion of "fairy dust" when I lost a tooth.

I did not take bento boxes for school lunch and neither were my sandwiches/fruit/vegetables fashioned into tiny forest animals or cartoon characters.

Valentine's Day was not another Christmas and Easter did not mimic my birthday.

I have not spent one single day lamenting any of the above.

Because these are the things that made my childhood special...

I always got to lick the batter spoon (and sometimes the bowl!) when my Mom made a cake.

My favorite part of Christmas was decorating the tree with my family the day after Thanksgiving while listening to holiday music. "The Christmas Song" (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) by Nat King Cole has always been one of my favorites.

When I was sick and unable to sleep at night, I would lay on the couch in the living room and watch television while my Mom ironed. I think that may be why I love the sound and smell of steam.

Getting to plan my birthday menu was a treat I looked forward to weeks in advance.

A note scribbled in ballpoint pen on a paper napkin was just the right pick-me-up halfway through a school day.

"Entertain yourselves" meant my sister and I got to use our imaginations to build a giant Barbie town for the afternoon.

Sometimes a family vacation meant going to an amusement park in a town an hour away and swimming in the hotel pool. 

Despite it's simplicy, I think I turned out...dare I say it...alright. And most importantly? I was happy

Whenever I find myself feeling guilty that I'm not a "Pinteresting" mom, or that I haven't logged enough hours crafting with my kids, or that perhaps I let them watch a little too much "Phineas and Ferb" this week, I give myself a mental slap upside the head. And then I exhale.

 Because in spite of all those things, so far I think I might be doing okay at this "Mom" gig. 

 And chance are...so are you.



Monday, August 26, 2013

OH, MY EYES!

I don't know that I've ever wished for amnesia. Until last night. I don't want a complete erasure of all things past, but if I could just delete like the last 24 hours, or more specifically - approximately seven minutes of the last 24 hours - that would be perfect.

My eyes have been assaulted. 

My cognizance has been compromised. 

I can never unsee what has been seen. 

Will I never learn???

No good ever comes from morbid curiosity. Yet I continue to allow myself to be lured in. I simply cannot say no. 

Although I did not watch the VMA's, I did check Facebook (and Twitter and the rest of the world wide web), so it was virtually impossible not to catch wind of the train wreck that was Miley Cyrus' performance (pornoformance?). 

I made it almost all night without giving in to my curiosities. Then I got in bed. As I picked up my phone to recharge it for the night, I lost my good senses and could no longer help myself. I clicked on the YouTube app and started typing in the search bar. I got as far as "M-i-l-e..." when the internet automatically filled in the rest - "Miley Cyrus VMA's 2013". With a deep inhale, I pushed play.

About 4 seconds into the video, I covered both eyes with an audible slap.

My husband leaned over to ask what I was watching.

"Apparently Miley Cyrus outdid herself at the VMA's this evening. So far I'd say I have to agree."

He rolled his eyes and asked what all the hype was about. Since I am a good wife, I powered through the remainder of the performance and gave him a play-by-play.

"Well, there are teddy bears. A lot of them. They're mildly terrifying, actually.

Is she wearing a leotard? I think she's wearing granny panties under her leotard.

OH MY GOD what is she doing with her tongue? Stop it, Miley.

Don't put the microphone there. Oh, for God's sake.

Is that someone's real ass? She just put her face in some woman's ass. And then she smacked it.

Ohhhhh....is that what twerking is? I've been wondering. I don't think I can do that. I'd pull a hammy.

Ohmigod she grabbed her crotch and pelvic thrusted the audience. Jesus, Miley.

Aaaaaand she just ripped off her leotard. And now she's wearing just a bra and...I WAS RIGHT! She's wearing granny panties! Wait a minute. What the fuuu...is that...Beetlejuice?

Nevermind. It's Robin Thicke. Dressed like Beetlejuice. They're singing "Blurred Lines".

What's with the foam finger?

Oh. That's what's with the foam finger. No. Nonononono. That is wildly inappropriate, Miley.
 
Now she is twerking Mr. Thicke. And I'm pretty sure she just licked the side of his face.

Okay, now there's a different artist. I can't tell who it is because my eyes are bleeding. Maybe she's done. PLEASE God, let her be done."

Nope. There she is again. Somebody take that finger away from her. Do we have any foam fingers? I'm going to need to burn them."

And then it was over. It took a few minutes for my heart rate to return to normal and my blood pressure to go down, but I managed to recover.

Except for my eyes. That job is going to require some bleach.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Mommy Wars: STFU.

As soon as my first baby was strong enough to turn her head, she was ready to see the world. She wanted to look OUT.  Well, that was a virtual impossibility while nursing since I didn't have detachable breasts. My milk production suffered due to her disinterest, and feedings ultimately turned into two-hour-long nightmares. So, I switched to formula. She was happier. I was happier.

My second child nursed like a champ. If there were milking competitions for lactating mothers, I would have taken the blue ribbon - hands down. Feedings were a piece of cake. I could have nursed him with my eyes closed (as a matter of fact, sometimes I did). He was done in 15 minutes flat and his squeezable cheeks and meaty thighs confirmed he was well-nourished.

One mother. Two babies. Two parenting methods.

This is not a debate over breast-feeding. The point I'm trying to make is that you do what works. I have two children with two very different personalities, and I utilize whichever parenting methods get me through the day [mostly] sane. Sometimes they are different for each kid.

A few days ago Ilana Wiles of Mommy Shorts, a very popular mom-blogger, began sleep-training her children. She advertised this was happening on her Facebook page, along with a start time, so other parents who were doing the same could join the discussion in support of each other. I don't have infants or toddlers, so the topic didn't apply to me, but I sporadically followed the post throughout the night anyway.

I personally am not very familiar with sleep-training, seeing as I don't think I've "trained" my kids to do jack shit outside of recognize the change of inflection in my voice from, "I'm not terribly upset about this just yet," to "I'M ONE SECOND AWAY FROM LOSING MY SHIT!" Which, in my defense, is helpful in its own right. But, I digress.

My understanding is that sleep-training is an extensively researched, very popular technique that basically reinforces self-soothing at bedtime. You put the baby to bed and, if they cry (which they will), you check on them in 10 minute intervals. Sometimes the crying stops after a few check-ins, sometimes it goes on for hours. It's generally a couple of really challenging nights, but the desired (and usually successful) outcome is that the baby gets on a regular sleep schedule without waking during the night. Hooray! Right?

Well don't get too excited just yet. In her post (because she is a smart and insightful woman) she "respectfully requested" that anyone who didn't agree with sleep-training please refrain from commenting negatively on the thread. Was there really a need to make that plea? Do you think everyone honored her request? Of course there was and hell no they didn't! After all, isn't it our job as mothers to tell other mothers when they are doing something we don't happen to agree with?

No. It's not.

Why is it so hard for moms to just support each other? To give advice when it is solicited and to cheer each other on when we're struggling? I don't get it.

Throughout the comments thread, some women actually had the audacity to respond, "Shame on you."

Shame on you? 

For letting a baby cry in 10 minute intervals until she fell asleep? All the while being monitored from another room? All in hopes of a happier, better-rested baby, pre-schooler, Mom, and Dad?

That deserves a "Shame on you"?

How about we reserve the "Shame on you's" for the parents whose children are legitimately neglected. The ones that turn a blind eye when their babies are being beaten and abused by family members. The ones that tell their children that they are worthless. The ones that don't show an ounce of love or compassion to their son or daughter, leaving that poor little soul wandering through life feeling like they don't matter.

That's when a parent deserves a "Shame on you".

Not when they employ a parenting technique that's just not your cup of tea.

I am not writing this in a rally of defense to Mommy Shorts. She's got a huge following and as a result I'm sure she's learned to grow a thick skin. So, I don't doubt that she let all the negative comments roll off her back.

Neither am I writing this in support of sleep-training. I get my 8 hours, so whatever you and your kids do after dark is your business.

I'm writing this because I'm so incredibly sick of the mommy wars. Parenting is hard enough without constantly having to be on the defensive about the choices we make. The majority of us are just trying to do what we think is right for our family. That doesn't mean it's right for yours.  

And that's okay.

If you don't agree with the way someone parents, DON'T DO IT THAT WAY! But, unless they are doing something undoubtedly harmful to their child, shut the fuck up.



Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Letter to My Daughter as She Starts Junior High


Today you start junior high. Whoa. That's big. And it doesn't seem possible, as it feels like only yesterday you were telling me you did NOT need me to walk you into your kindergarten classroom - that I could just drop you off at the door. Your independence is one of the things I've always admired most about you (regardless of the frequent disagreements it may cause).

Lots of things are going to change for you in the upcoming months. You are growing up and not all of it is going to be pleasant. But if you can just try to put aside the idea that I am the stupidest person on the planet for the next few minutes, I feel like I have some advice that can be of some use to you. Remember - to get where I am now, I had to be your age once. Even if it was a million years ago.

Activities you are involved in are going to get a lot more competitive than what you are used to. I can say with 100% honesty that I don't care if you come in first or last. It doesn't matter if you are THE best, as long as you are YOUR best. In school, in sports, and in life, chances are good that there is going to be someone who is a little smarter, a little faster, or a little more talented. That's okay! Those people inspire you to work harder. And when you find that you ARE the best at something, be humble enough to appreciate your gift and use it to help others.

Friendships can get weird during the teenage years. Hormones and emotions literally erupt and can result in hurt feelings and wounded egos. Try to keep this in mind if you find yourself on the receiving end. And, unfortunately, "mean girls" do exist. Steer clear and resist any temptation you might have to become one just to be part of the "in" crowd. That is NOT a title to hold proudly. You don't have to be everyone's best friend, but you will never regret making someone feel like they matter. Even if it just means smiling and saying "hello" as you pass in the hallway.

Up until now you've been pretty private about...well, just about everything. I was the same way so you came by it honestly. I don't, however, think it's a great trait so I'd like for us to work on communicating a little better. Nothing you tell me will make me stop loving you. I may get really, really pissed if you tell me you've done something undeniably stupid, but I'm in this for the long haul, kiddo. And my door is always open.

I know the time is drawing near where it's not so cool to hang out with me, and my intelligence level suddenly seems to be about the same as the tree stump in our backyard. It's as normal for you to feel like that as it is for me to embarrass you in retaliation with as much frequency and enthusiasm as I can muster. Keep that in mind when it seems like a good idea to talk back or roll your eyes at me in front of your friends. Consider this your warning.

You're growing up. I actually feel like I'm handling it quite well thus far. While I miss your tiny hands and itty bitty feet, and the smell of lavender baby shampoo under my nose as I rocked you to sleep at night all those years ago, I look forward to the many, many things we have yet to share. Things we'll both remember. This milestone is just the beginning.

Have a great year, sweetie.

Love,
Mom

Thursday, August 1, 2013

We Shouldn't Be Alive: A Paddle Boat Story

Some other titles that would work for this post:

"I Forgot to Pack the Sunscreen and it Costs $15 in the General Store"

"The Snack Shack Only Takes Cash but All I Have is $2.63 and a Debit Card"

"Who Needs Flip Flops at the Lake? Socks and Tennis Shoes Are The Obvious Choice When Sand and Water are Involved."

"Only Braggers Remember to Pack Towels"

"Cell Service is a 10 Mile Drive Back Into Town or You Can Hike Up That Direction about 4.5 Miles. Here's a Map."

"Year Round History Lessons: The Summer I Showed My Kids How To Use a Pay Phone"




My favorite thing about living in California is its variation of landscapes. A couple of weeks ago we drove 90 miles west to spend some time at the ocean, and yesterday we decided to go the other direction and spend a day in the mountains. 

I'd heard from some friends about a lake nestled in a forest in the middle of the Sierra Nevadas, so I decided that's where we would go. Since it was a weekday, the kids and I headed off on this adventure by ourselves, with little expectation other than a day spent out of the confines of our house.


During the in-depth 5 minutes of planning I did prior to departure, I learned there was a marina where visitors could rent a variety of boats. Since I am in no way qualified to operate any aquatic vehicle equipped with a motor, I told the kids we could try out the paddle boats.

Did you read that last sentence? I SUGGESTED TO MY CHILDREN WITHOUT THEIR PROMPTING that we would rent a paddle boat.

So we get to the lake and it's beautiful and picturesque and, while I am perfectly content hanging out with my feet in the cool, clear mountain water, the kids are all paddleboatspaddleboatspaddleboats. So, we head over to the marina to rent a paddle boat. They offer the option of a one or two hour rental, and I almost went with two, but thankfully common sense finally set in and I thought, "You're already being an idiot - try to reign it in," so I changed my mind at the last minute and said, "You know, I think one hour will be plenty of time."

They hand me my rental receipt, our bright orange life vests, and direct us to the dock. The girl working the paddle boats pulls a bright yellow one over to the edge and points at us to get in. We oblige, expecting some sort of direction, but instead she shoves us out into the lake with her foot, and waves.

Me: "Uhhh...how does this work?"

Girl: "You paddle. With your feet."

Me: "I know that much. I mean, does it steer?"

Girl: "Oh, yeah. That metal circle thing in the middle is meant for steering. Have it back in an hour. Have fun!" I can't be sure, but I think she may have laughed maniacally when she said that last bit.

I also should have tuned into the word "meant" when she described the steering situation.

We manage to get out of the docking area and into the open lake relatively easy, meaning we didn't hit any other boats. It was sunny and breezy and beautiful. We enjoy the scenery and the company of one another and wave at other watercraft passerby's.




We spend a few minutes just sitting in the boat, rocking on the gentle waves, when I look at my watch and decide we better turn around and head back. 

My plan was to spend the first half hour paddling out into the lake, so we could spend the last half getting back to the marina. Makes sense, yes? Like hell it does.

It would have been helpful had I taken into consideration some basic physics before we took off on our little outing. Like which way the wind was blowing, hence the direction the current was flowing, hence the ease at which we reached the other side of the lake. Things that are important considerations when taking a boat all Flintstone-style out into a large body of water.

We turn the boat around and start pedaling. It is now that I realize that things seem to be slower going than they were coming, so I decided to find a point of reference. That way we could tell if we were making progress. I pick a cabin with a green roof on the side of the lake.




I'm like, "Okay, kids. We've got 20 minutes to get back to the dock. Let's get after it." So we start pedaling. And pedaling. And pedaling. We were really giving it hell for like 10 minutes. I look to the side of the lake and what do I see?

















SON OF A BITCH.

We're in the same. exact. spot. We're never going to get back. We are going to die in the middle of this lake on a paddle boat. And I won't even be able to call and tell my husband goodbye because we are 10 miles away from a cell signal. Stupid great outdoors.

I try to contain my urge to freak the freak out. Plus my legs were seriously burning and I needed a break. Only 2 people could pedal at a time and I had been pedaling the entire trip with the kids taking turns. So, I did the only logical thing I could think of.




I made my two kids pedal while I sat in the back and gathered my thoughts and wondered if someone would come save us if I jumped up and down on the back of the boat waving and screaming. However, that seemed a little extreme at this point so after a few minutes of resting, I reclaimed my position as captain and got serious.

"Okay, kids. This time I'm for real. We gotta get this boat back or they are going to charge me for another hour and I will not have that. I will not. Pedal!"

So again we pedal. We are focused and determined. We are sweating. We are gutting it out. We are athletes. And we finally make it back to the dock. I almost fell backwards into the lake while getting out of the boat because of the jelly legs, but I threw my balance forward and landed on deck. They also didn't charge me for the 7 extra minutes late it took us to return the boat, so that was good.

As I was checking to make sure we had gathered all our things from the boat, I noticed someone had etched a classy remark on the center of the boat.





Okay, it's not really visible in this picture so I'll help you out. It starts with 'F' and ends with 'You'.

Well you know what, little yellow paddle boat? Right back atcha.







Monday, July 22, 2013

Don't Be a Facehooker

I joined Facebook in the fall of 2008. In other words, I have 5 years of my life documented on the internet. An online journal of the last 1800 days. Treasured moments spent with family and loved ones shared in words and pictures with all of my closest friends. And their second cousin's co-workers.

I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. When I opened my account, my name appeared directly to the left of the "update status" box. The word "is", followed by ellipses was the default preface of my status. It didn't take long before I walked around all day every day thinking like this:

Meredith is...out of milk.

Meredith is...having a glass of wine.

Meredith is...getting more and more behind on laundry because...

Meredith is...wasting her life away on the internet AND...

Meredith is...about to lose her fucking mind if she doesn't stop referring to herself in the third person.

Thankfully, the wizards over at Facebook finally changed that format and I eventually, with months of therapy, returned to speaking in first person.

Facebook. I love it. I hate it. It can make me laugh, it can make me cry, and sometimes... it annoys the shit out of me. You know the statuses I'm talking about.


The perfect couple. Always. Every minute. Of every day.



I think my husband is pretty cool, too, but...puh-leeeeeez. Vomit. Make it stop.


The exercisers.

  

This strikes a particularly sensitive nerve when I skip my work-out and opt to sit on my ass and drink three cups of coffee. But good for them.

And my personal favorite, the over-achieving mom. Mostly because I'm jealous that I'm not on the same meds.




Why the hell doesn't Naomi Nononsense ever speak up in real life? Because I don't have the balls. That's why.

These examples, while worthy of an eyeroll, are easy to poke fun of yet scroll past.

Then there are the updates and photos that stop just short of making my eyes bleed. I refer to these as the Facehookers.


1. The duckface selfie.



It is ridiculous and has succeeded in making girls and women everywhere look like complete morons. I'm not sure what genius decided this was a good look, but it is taking entirely too long for this trend to wear off. If you are still taking pictures of yourself making this face...stop. You will immediately gain I.Q. points, or at least look like you have.


2. The "I know I'm hot and you know I'm hot so check me out I'm in a bikini" pic.  (Just roll with the drawing. I don't want to get sued, yo.)



Need attention much?
And, yeah, I'm jealous as hell that I can't pull this off for fear of triggering gag reflexes. But, still. NO.


3. And the worst Facehooker of all - the "Look at my big 'ol boobs" gal. I can't include a picture (because of the suing), although I can think of plenty of examples right off the top of my head. You know the pose. Bent over forward so all the cleavage is popping out of the top of her low-cut shirt, looking innocent like she has no idea what has happened.

What? My boobs are showing? Well wouldya look at that?! Ooooopsiiiieeee!

Oh, we know what you're doing, sister. You're as translucent as plastic wrap. And probably just as stuck on yourself.




Monday, July 15, 2013

The Simple Life

My dreams are lengthy, in color, and frequently involve overgrown talking rodents. I'm sure a professional dream analyst (that's a thing, right?) would tell me there are some deep-seeded issues involved, which is exactly why I haven't bothered to ask. I prefer to go with the theory that I am subconsciously terrified of my daughter's pet guinea pig. It has beady eyes and rattles the cage whenever I walk in the room. Disturbing.

This weekend my husband and I spent a lot of time discussing budgets and retirement planning and college savings and other topics that make me feel like we should have a medical professional standing by to monitor our blood pressure spikes. Being a grown-up sucks sometimes.

Last night, instead of dreaming about mouthy field mice, I dreamed about when we were first married. The period of time we were only pretending to be grown-ups. The time when careers and 401k's and kids and houses and nice cars were far away dreams. We were young and clueless and broke. Really broke. Little did I know, that time in our lives would hold some of my most cherished memories.

We got married the summer after our junior year in college. Life was simple...so very simple. But we didn't realize it at the time.

We lived in a yellow(ish) 2 bedroom duplex. (He says cream, I say yellow. Potato, Yukon gold potato. Whatever.) It had flaky green trim - that much we agree on. Our rent was less than our current monthly grocery budget (and remember - I don't like to cook). It was a real fancy place, let me tell you.

Every square foot of our home was furnished in hand-me-downs. Our dog chewed a hole in the back cushions of our best piece of furniture - a 25 year old pastel floral couch. She also chewed a hole right through the sheetrock in the hallway and the entire right side of the plastic mini-blinds that hung in the window of our 2nd bedroom. Shockingly, we did NOT get our deposit back.

Our backyard was the size our living room. Charming "mowed" with a weedeater. We had a real nice 3'x3' patio - perfect for standing shoulder to shoulder. The hole our dog dug right at the edge turned out to be just right for collecting rainwater or twisting your ankle. 

I strategically placed our first Christmas tree where only one side was visible, as I had just enough ornaments to fill 1/3 of it. I boldly I declared the theme to be "teddy bears". I obviously had a real eye for home decor. Any holes were filled with random knick knacks I found around the house. I was also very resourceful.

Our air conditioner was a giant floor-to-ceiling metal contraption. When it turned on during the summer months, it sounded like we lived on a launchpad.

We had part-time jobs that paid our rent and electric bill.  Sometimes we'd have a few bucks left over at the end of the week to make a trip to the all-you-can-eat-pizza buffet.

Our weekly grocery budget bought us little more than a loaf of bread, some sandwich meat, a jar of peanut butter, 5 boxes of Hamburger Helper, and the ground beef to accompany them. Sometimes we splurged and made actual burgers - on a teeny tiny charcoal grill that had legs so short it literally sat on the ground. How we never lit the yard on fire I have no idea.

For extra money, I babysat for a family with 3 children. That gig also proved to be an excellent form of birth control, which was a bonus.

We jammed to mixed tapes played in the cassette players in our cars, and we watched movies at home on our VCR.

We used that newfangled dial-up internet thing every chance we could. Until one of us needed to use the phone.

Between being newlyweds, finishing our degrees and making ends meet on tiny budget, things often seemed terribly complicated. Riiiiiight.

While I wouldn't change a thing about my life, the path it has taken, and especially the blessings it has given me, it was kind of nice to revisit that previous life. The simple one. Even if for only one night.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

WHAT IS THE BIG DAMN DEAL?

Do you yell? I think most of us would be hard pressed to answer that question with a solid, resounding, across the-board, "Never."

Because children.

I read a post yesterday by Bethany at Bad Parenting Moments that really struck a chord with me. She talks about the guilt she feels about yelling at her kids. And, of course, the things that other parents sometimes say to compound that guilt.

She was really hard on herself and I felt bad for her. Plus she's got 4 kids and OMG how do you get through a day without yelling is what I'd like to know.

Whether you have 10 kids or 1, they will push your ass right to the edge until you are hanging on with nothing but a broken fingernail.

My parents yelled at me. I'd be willing to bet that on 99.9% of the occasions, I deserved it. I'm not permanently scarred. I don't lay awake at night wondering if maybe they didn't love me because they  lost their shit that time I lied and went to a rated R movie with my friends even though they told me I couldn't go and then got caught because I was an idiot (true story). Or any of the other times they yelled at me for acting stupid.

So I gotta say...WHAT IS THE BIG DAMN DEAL?!?  (I just yelled that.) When was this idea born that yelling at our kids means we don't love them? We're all so worried that we are somehow going to screw up our kids. Well, we need to get over that because OF COURSE WE ARE. No one on either side gets out of this completely unscathed.

Emotions run high in this parenthood gig. Sometimes yelling is just part of it. I don't mean you should be running around screaming like a ninny about every little thing that gets under your skin. That's not good for anybody. And really, you'd be yelling ALL THE TIME. Bad for the vocal chords. But, sometimes? Sometimes it's what works. Sometimes it's what makes them realize you mean business.

My son deserves a spot in Guinness for the most difficult potty-trainee in history. I learned my lesson with my first child's potty training experience, so I didn't even start trying with my second until he was 3. Truth be told, he still wasn't ready but I allowed societal expectations get in the way of my "I-know-better-than-this", and forced the issue. (Dear Lord, I feel like I should thank you once again for seeing us out of that stage alive because you and I both know there were some close calls. Amen.)

One day I could tell he was holding it and really needed to go. So, I escorted him to the bathroom where I proceeded to talk and read to him while he sat - without success - "trying" to go poo (or so he claimed).  45 minutes passed. FORTY-FIVE MINUTES. After pleading with me that he really didn't need to go, I begrudgingly removed him from the toilet and allowed him to go play in his room. A few minutes later, I went into his room to check on him and guess what I found? Him with no pants on...and a turd. In the middle of the floor. Do you think I said, "Oh, sweetie pie. We don't poop in the floor. We poop on the toilet."? Nope. That's not what I said. I yelled. In fact, I flipped the eff out. Judge if you must, but you know what? He didn't shit in the floor again.

One day when my daughter was almost 4 years old, I had one hand pushing a shopping cart, while the other was wrapped around hers as we made our way to the car. She decided she didn't need a personal escort and yanked her hand out of mine. Because she knew my inclination would be to grab it right back, she bolted. Into a busy parking lot. Now might be a good time to mention I was in my 3rd trimester of pregnancy with my second child and "quick and agile" are not words I'd use to describe myself. Did I gently coax her back to me with loving words and open arms? Uh...no. I yelled obnoxiously, and when I got to her (because my piercing screams stopped her in her tracks) I continued to YELL about how dangerous that little stunt was and that she was to NEVER, EVER, NEVER, NEVER, EVER do anything like that again. She cried. I wished for a shot of tequila. But to this day she stays by my side whenever we are in parking lots. 

And then there are all the other days. The day you are unspeakably tired and that is the day the kids need your help with something every other minute. The day you wake up with a pounding headache and that is the day the kids decide to set their volume on maximum. The day you vacuum the floor and that is the day they dump an entire box of goldfish crackers into the carpet. The day you need to have an important discussion with your spouse after the kids go to bed and that is the day they get up 97 times because they are thirsty or hungry or need to go potty or want another story or one more kiss goodnight.

I'm out of the very-young-children stage and my yelling frequency has decreased dramatically. (My daughter turns 13 in about 9 months, at which time we'll revisit this comment.) But when they were little, yeah, I yelled. I yelled when they were doing things that were dangerous and I yelled when they did things they knew they weren't supposed to do and I yelled in lieu of waving the white flag because OMG I'm about to lose what's left of my mind.

This is parenthood. We are standing in the middle of the biggest clusterfuck we never knew existed and when we finally reach our breaking point...we yell. And we beat ourselves up about it. And we need to stop.

Parenting styles are different and that's okay. Maybe you're not a yeller. Good for you. Maybe you are. So, what? Don't let that define whether or not you're a good parent. The best parenting advice my mom has given me to date is, "Chill the hell out." Or something like that. We need to stop beating ourselves up and measuring how good of a parent we are against someone else's standards. If your kids go to bed at night undoubtedly knowing they are loved, you're doing your job. END OF STORY. (I yelled that, too.) 



Friday, June 28, 2013

10 Things I Hate About You: An Ode to My Husband on Our Anniversary

Today is our 16th wedding anniversary. What? That's right. SIXTEEN years. I know what you're thinking. You've seen my picture and I look entirely too young to celebrate such an occasion. You're really too kind.

To celebrate these many years of wedded bliss, I decided to dedicate today's post to Charming. He won't read it, of course, but that's okay (I guess). Because I've titled my ode as follows:




Seriously?

Seriously. Just go with it.

Dear Charming:

Today we celebrate 16 years together. Neither of us are in prison for attempted murder, which is cool. HOWEVER, I feel like now is as good a time as any to bring some things to your attention that really bug me about you.

1. You are a lying liar who lies. You have always answered "no" when I've asked "Does this make me look fat?" or "Do I look ugly today?" Every. Single. Time. Come on, buddy. Everybody knows at some point in the last 16 years that shit wasn't true.

2. You force our children to play favorites. Do you ALWAYS have to be the fun one? The Nerf gun wars you randomly initiate in the living room and goofy guessing games you agree to play on road trips are starting to make me look like a dud and it's pissing me off. Because I'm totally kick-ass. 

3. You say "I'm sorry" way too soon after you've screwed up. Not typical for most husbands, and I'm not sure when this started because it hasn't always been the case. Do you know how hard it is to stay mad and talk shit about you to my friends when you do that? Also it makes me feel bad that it takes me like...oh I dunno...24 hours to apologize. I mean, hypothetically speaking. I just assume it would take me that long if I were ever the one who was wrong. I guess we'll just have to wait and see. 16 years down, but it's bound to happen sooner or later.

4. You don't remember ANYTHING I say. Seriously. I can recall every conversation (argument) we've had word-for-word for the last 7 years and make it relevant in any given current conversation (argument) by bringing it back up, regardless of the subject of either conversation (argument). You usually have no recollection of what I'm talking about and it makes me feel like a crazy person or something. Nevermind that I'm not fighting fair and you are. You should take some gingko biloba or whatever that stuff is called that's supposed to improve memory. Look into it.

5. You are entirely too observant. Husbands aren't supposed to notice things like painted toenails and new hairdo's. Makes it really hard to hide the fact that I've spent an obscene amount of money on things that are going to chip off or grow out in a matter of weeks. Stop it.

6. You are forcing the issue with the "who's funnier" debate. If you'd stop saying things that make me laugh until I can't breathe, we could settle this once and for all. That's annoying. And I'm funnier.

7. You are forcing the issue with the "who's smarter" debate. If you'd stop being so good at ALL OF THE THINGS, we could settle this once and for all. That's annoying. And I'm smarter. 

8. You should be more budget conscious. When I ask for things I don't need, like new purses or shoes, the typical husband response is supposed to be, "You have too many purses and shoes already!" Not "Whatever. You should get it." What the hell? I feel like this is some kind of tit-for-tat strategy. Anyway. While it makes you out to be a super cool husband, it probably makes the other husbands look bad and it makes it really hard for me to be financially responsible. Think about others for once, why dontcha.

9. You shouldn't give me credit for being mature or responsible enough to make wise decisions all by myself. That's actually irresponsible on your part. See #8 above.

10. You always make me pick where we go out to eat. If I say "I don't care," I really do mean that I DON'T CARE. Just pick. And for hells sake, if I pick somewhere and you shoot it down, expect me to lose it. Because seriously? I'm being for real on this one. Knock that shit off. If we ever divorce, I swear it will be over whether we have pizza or burgers on Friday night.

So, in summary, thanks for being the man you are. A man who is funny, smart, considerate of my feelings, recognizes when he's done wrong, notices when I try to look nice, and is the best dad a kid could ever dream of having. If husbands were a lottery, I won the Powerball.

*Bonus #11.* I made you this really nice tribute and you will never even see it because you refuse to read my blog. It wouldn't kill you, ya know. Asshole.





Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Truths About Toddlers...In Case You've Forgotten or Need Incentive to Use Birth Control

If you follow me on Facebook, you know that I'm spending a few weeks visiting family in Texas. I have a 2 1/2 year-old niece. While I occasionally talk to her on the phone, it just doesn't deliver the same punch as spending one-on-one quality time with her.






It's been a while since I spent much time with a toddler, and there are some things about that age that I've forgotten.

1. Toddlers are liars.
   "I don't take naps."
   "I don't need to go potty."
   "I don't wear shoes."
   "I can have ice cream before night-night."

2. Toddlers who are potty-training will ask to go pee wherever you go. Likewise, they can go on demand if they know a treat follows the deed.

3. Toddlers change clothes on average 14 times a day.

4. ...unless you let them wear a swimsuit (or other non-traditional day wear) as their outfit of the day, in which case they would wear it for 3 weeks straight.

5. "I can do it myself." OHMYGODTHISISTAKINGFOREVER.

6. Dora, Diego, Kai-Lan. If none of those 3 people are on television at the moment they request it, BRACE YOURSELF.

7. Breakfast, lunch, dinner = "I'm not hungry."
    Every single moment in-between = "I want a snack."

8.  So. Many. Sippy. Cups.

9. Toddlers are tiny terrorists disguised in cuteness.

 "Get up and do what I say, Tia." (I'm Tia.)


10.  When negotiating with a toddler, there is only ONE way. And it's NOT your way.

**When you're the aunt, you laugh at all of the above because you get to say "yes" to all of their demands...and then send them home. **


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

That Seems Like a Lot of Work and Will I Have to Make a Sign?

The other day this conversation happened:

Charming: What's the deal with the Westboro Baptist Church?

Me: What do you mean "what's the deal" with them?

Charming: Like who are they?

Me: Are you serious? You haven't heard of them? I actually know something that's been in the news* that you don't?

Charming: Well. I read CNN. (He says this as if he's supremely smarter than I could ever hope to be.)

Me: I'm sure it has been on CNN at some point, but whatever. It's on Facebook a lot. In a nutshell they are a bunch of assholes that parade around protesting funerals and stuff. They have put themselves in charge of judging everything and everyone and are basically against the Golden Rule and all of the 10 Commandments I think.

Then the conversation ended because I told him to look it up himself but he was playing 'Words With Friends' and didn't feel like it right then. 

*I do not read or watch the news. It is chocked full of horrifying information and I would rather watch people fall off the back of treadmills or funny videos of animals on YouTube. I figure if something really important happens, I'll find out about it somehow. Case in point: The way I found out about Hurricane Katrina is that I have a friend that lives right outside of New Orleans and she called me the day it was going to hit to tell me she was on her way to Mississippi (or somewhere - I don't exactly remember), and that she was going to lose all contact because the state of Louisiana was about to be washed out to sea. I was all, "Oh snap! I did not know that." And she was all, "It's been on the news for like 3 days." And I was all, "Well, that explains it."*

I could never be a member of the Westboro Baptist Church. I mean, despite the fact that they are an embarrassment to the human race and practice the exact opposite of the Christian agenda, their "work" seems positively exhausting. Forever traipsing around the country protesting funerals and whatnot. I'm not even sure exactly what they are protesting, so I went to their website (which I am NOT linking to), but I closed the tab real quick-like because after reading a few lines I got scared that my computer was going to spontaneously burst into flames.

In any case, what they do looks like a lot of work. Keeping up with the all the people that need to be judged is probably a full-time job or something. I would be terrible at it. They'd come to me and say, "We're going to protest again. Pack your bags. Make some signs." And I'd be like, "Fuuuuu...can't I just stay back this time and troll around Facebook or something? I hate making signs."

There are people in this world who have all kinds of boundless energy to put to use marching around from morning 'til night with homemade signs and spewing hatred all over the streets. I am not one of those people. Aside from the copious amounts of walking and my general aversion to hatred spewing, I DESPISE making signs. I saw this picture on Facebook once of a person holding a sign that said, "I'm So Pissed Off I Made This Sign." While hilarious, I do not foresee me being that pissed off about anything. Because making signs sucks. First, you have to go to the store to buy poster board and markers, unless you keep those things on hand, which I obviously don't because why would I if I hate making signs so much? What else does someone do with poster board and markers? Then you've got to come up with something clever to say on your sign, which I think I might could do if I hated something enough. Which I don't. Except for making signs. So, on second thought, maybe the aforementioned sign would work for me after all.

I do not know what has happened here. I had no intention of this post being about my hatred of sign making. While I really don't like to make signs, I do not believe it to be a blog-worthy topic. I actually do have a point, believe it or not.

Being judgey and the effort it takes. That's it. 

The day after Charming and I had the conversation about Westboro Baptist Church, I was listening to the radio in my car. There is a local station that regularly surveys community members to ask their opinions on different subjects. They are usually hot-button social issues and I imagine they do this segment to see if they can get anyone to say something especially asshole-ish so they can put it on the air in order to spice up their otherwise boring commentary. This particular day, they asked people's opinion on having children out of wedlock. Of course, there were the "holier than thou's" that preached of its wrongness, there were the people that got mad because they, themselves, had children out of wedlock and why do people have to be so judgmental, and then there was the girl that said...

"Just like with anything else, as long as they are good people and good parents, I don't really think it's any of my business." 

 I just about wrecked my car. Because holy shit someone please make this girl President of the world.


 Clicking on this sign does not in any way spew hatred. It's actually the exact opposite. So you should do it. Click on it, I mean.



Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I Don't Always Bake...

A couple of weeks ago, I decided Wednesdays would be my day to get stuff done. I would drop the kids off at school, go home, do some laundry, straighten up the house, and run all of my errands. 

So today, I dropped the kids off at school, re-started the same load in the washing machine for the 3rd time this week, stacked the breakfast dishes neatly in the sink, THE INTERNET, and went to spend my Kohl's cash before I could forget about it and let it expire. Because how can anyone not feel good about shopping at Kohl's? Buy 4 items and the average savings is around $300,000. It's as if they are paying me to shop there.

Oh, and I also put a bag of clothes in the car that needed to go the cleaners, but forgot to drop them off even though they were SITTING IN THE FRONT SEAT NEXT TO ME. It's still there.

All in all, a successful day.

I wasn't going to write today, given how I've totally outdone myself on the productivity meter, but I said to myself, "Self, I know you're exhausted, but you really need to gut this out. Don't be selfish."

So, here I am. Working my fingers to the bone. For you.

Anyway. 

I'm going to do something different and share a recipe. I don't usually share recipes because I don't cook interesting things. My family won't eat anything remotely adventurous, so I refuse to spend hours in the kitchen preparing elaborate meals just to sit at a dinner table watching them push the food around their plates with looks on their faces that suggest I served them a pile of baboon intestines. That makes me feel stabby and I don't want to go to prison, y'all.

But, this is something that all of them will eat, along with (I'm guessing) a large percentage of you people. Because why? Because cookies.

I'm not usually a fan of making homemade cookies because it's a lot of trouble, it's messy, and we always end up eating half of them immediately and then throwing the other half of them away because we have amazing amounts of self control and will power. I prefer the store bought break and bake option because you can bake just a few at a time. But they don't last long in our house and those suckers get expensive. Not only am I lazy when it comes to baking, but I'm also cheap.

Tink loves to bake. So I let her do it while I supervise. From the living room. With a glass of wine. Don't judge. She's almost in junior high and no knives are required for cookie baking. She found an AWESOME recipe for homemade chocolate chip cookies (we made a few adjustments) and guess what - they freeze beautifully, and (in my opinion) they are even better when baked from frozen! So, we (she) makes up the dough and then we (she) freezes it for later.




I give you...

TINK'S BIG FAT CHEWY FREEZABLE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (not melted)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (That's not a typo. We use a whole tablespoon.)
1 egg
1 egg yolk (Here's where she needs my help. See? I'm totally an okay-ish mom.)
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Put it aside.

In a separate bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk. Mix in the sifted ingredients until well blended (a stand mixer makes this part infinitely easier). Last, stir in the chocolate chips. If you're not afraid of salmonella, eat some of the dough.* It's delicious.

If you want to cook the cookies right away, you should have preheated the oven to 325 degrees. Be prepared next time. Bake them for 13-15 minutes (or until they reach the doneness you prefer. Apparently "doneness" isn't a word according to my spellchecker. Whatever I'm not changing it.)

To freeze the cookies for later, scoop spoon-sized amounts of dough onto a cookie sheet. We use one of those cookie scooper thingies and usually end up with about 2 1/2 to 3 dozen. Put the cookie sheet in the freezer and leave overnight. Store frozen dough in a gallon-sized freezer bag.

When you're ready for cookies, pull out a few and bake according to the directions above (325 for 13-15 minutes in case you're too lazy to move your eyes up 2 paragraphs).

That's it!

Peace out.

*I am hereby released from any liability if someone trying this recipe contracts salmonella. Everyone knows you're not supposed to eat raw eggs. Sheesh. 


 What do I have to do to get you people to click on this?!?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Right now, I Wish.

Right now, I am feeling helpless.

Because right now, I am reminded that life can change on dime.

And right now, I wish I was more than I am.

I am helpful. But, I wish I was helpful enough to really make a difference.

I am generous. But, I wish I was generous enough to give all that I have.

I am thankful. But, I wish I was thankful enough to never want for more.

I am content. But, I wish I was content enough to never wish days away. Even the hard ones.

Right now, I'm not wondering how I'm going to rebuild my life because I've lost everything.

Right now, I'm not grieving a child lost in a pile of bricks and stone.

For those things I am thankful.

But, right now, my heart is breaking for those who are.

Right now, I am thinking of you, Oklahoma. 






Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I'm So Irritated I Can't Even Think of A Proper Title

Skinny.

When did this word become a compliment? Do you know what the actual definition of it is? According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of 'skinny' is as follows:

1: resembling skin : membranous
2 a : lacking sufficient flesh : very thin : emaciated
   b : lacking usual or desirable bulk, quantity, qualities, or significance 

And what do people say when someone tells them, "You look so skinny!"? 

"Thank you!"

W.T.F.

Go back and read the definition. It should be considered an insult. But society's idea of health and beauty is (I'm sorry but I need to use this word in order to express how emphatically I feel about the subject)...fucked up...and we have turned that word into a compliment. A compliment. Why? Would it be complimentary for someone to say, "You're looking so emaciated these days!" or "You really lack desirable bulk and significance!" No. Something's gotta change, people. 

I'm a little late to the party on the whole Mike Jeffries/Abercrombie & Fitch ordeal, but I do not have the self-restraint to let this topic go unaddressed nor will I be able to make it through this entire post without saying that I think he is a shithead who has obviously had all the mirrors in his home removed so I might as well just get it out of the way right now. (If you haven't seen a picture of him, just Google it.)

Surely you've heard the story by now, but if not there's a lot of talk going on about him saying that the reason his store doesn't carry anything over a size 12 is because (direct quote from him) “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong."

So, if you're bigger than a size 12 you can't be cool or popular? You can't have a great attitude and a lot of friends? You can't "belong"? Nice message, asshole. 

His mentality is the reason there is an epidemic of eating disorders and mental health issues related to body image in this country. 

I'm pissed. I'm pissed that he's sending this message to our kids and I'm pissed that I thought the clothes were cute and I bought some things for my kids at the beginning of the school year that were on clearance because like hell I'm going to pay twenty-nine bucks for a t-shirt and then they got gift cards at Christmas and now I feel like I have to go through their closets and get rid of all that shit. Thanks for the waste of time and money, Mike. Next time how 'bout you just keep your pie hole shut. Like, plead the fifth or something when asked about...well, anything. Jerk.

I have a daughter. I don't want her growing up to believe that she's only attractive if she's ultra thin. I don't want her yo-yo dieting or starving herself to achieve some idealistic image that compromises her health and destroys her self-confidence. I don't want her to be skinny. Healthy? Of course. Strong? Yes. Confident? Absolutely. I want so many things for her, but "skinny" is not one of them.

And you know what? I don't want my son to think that's what makes a girl or woman beautiful, either. Because one day he's probably going to bring a girl home that he wants to marry and I sure as hell hope he bases his decision more on character than what size jeans she wears. Because I'm gonna have to live with that decision, too. Lord help me.

I came across a quote about a year ago that is so incredibly accurate on how I feel about this subject. I only have one daughter, but this is exactly how I feel. 

"I've got two daughters who will have to make their way in this skinny-obsessed world, and it worries me, because I don't want them to be empty headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones; I'd rather they were independent, interesting, idealistic, kind, opinionated, original, funny - a thousand things before 'thin'. And frankly, I'd rather they didn't give a gust of stinking chihuahua flatulence whether the woman standing next to them has fleshier knees than they do. Let my girls be Hermiones, rather than Pansy Parkinsons."
 -J.K. Rowling 

Right on, J.K. Right on.