10 Things to Do on a Rainy Day

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(1) Gripe about the weather. This is always a winner, especially at the office.  “How about this rain, eh?” goes a long way to creating zero good will and developing pointless interactions.  Other favorites are “will it ever stop?” and “it’s sure coming down out there.” If you refer to cats and dogs, you’ve simply gone too far.

(2) Read. Especially in the afternoon.  If your head hits your desk in slumber and you run late to a meeting or conference call, you can simply say how crazy work has been. And by work you mean a Kazuo Ishiguro novel.

(3) Dress up! This is often forgotten about since everyone else around you appears to be slobbing around in sweatshirts. Not you! Get yourself together, put on your make up, coif that hair, and hit the streets in your cute boots. When you get to your kids’ school for library day or the grocery store, watch how much others don’t care that you went to all this trouble, but are annoyed that your perfume hangs in the sticky air like rotten taffy. Because humidity.

(4) Eat a lot of processed sugary things. Maybe day drink. Because it’s raining and life’s not really worth living.

(5) I’m kidding! The rain provides nourishment for the earth! The dry, cracked soil is thirsty and our crops need the life sustaining water! It’s watering the lawn for free! You can think these things IF YOU MUST, but don’t say it out loud to anyone. Because no one wants to hear such cheery optimism.

(6) Bake things. The smell of pumpkin bread has been scientifically proven in several medical journals (and extensively chronicled in the Atlanta Constitution!) to make people happier.  I just made that up just now.  But it does make sense. Unless you burn it.  Please don’t burn it because you fell asleep reading.

(7) Work. There’s always this boring old distraction.  Yawn.

(8) Call friends. I like to do this when it’s raining because then you can talk about the weather.  See (1) above.

(9) Go outside and attempt a run in the rain! It’s like the Nike commercials where you’re all hard core and COME RAIN OR SHINE YOU WILL OWN THIS LIFE and NOTHING WILL GET IN THE WAY OF oh for heavens sakes turn around and go back inside this was a terrible decision. What were you thinking you don’t even run and you put make-up on earlier.

(10) Go back to bed.

photo:

(three w’s).flickr.com/photos/70251312@N00/13984290338/in/photolist-niK9j7-dvk5Aj-zjH2FT-4F2BfH-dvet6c-dvewGp-7n7byW-7n3i6k-7nFvaX-dvk4DJ-4mdcXK-6jRGXr-dvjSu1-j1zX7h-dvjYqu-6jVUhh-z2eYPf-86f8k9-NkvqWi-7kVY5Z-86f9fS-dvew28-7n3i4X-dvk7iQ-7zS1om-zjH3uB-bYBd6b-dvk39U-7m14Bo-dverKH-dvk4m1-bYBcuE-7hQ3cR-dvesQx-dveqsX-94iM8A-7kf9TB-dvenhP-dveuYt-7kWo1V-9ogDji-7kZXFw-dvekyx-dvei2g-dvexaP-dvekpa-dveu3t-dvekPH-7kW1PD-3bqw9L

The Day My Father Threw a Doll out the Window

 

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Kids today are spoiled.  They are lacking good solid stories as they get older about how they had to walk home from school while vomiting or had to share one large yellow phone on the wall in the kitchen. They have it a lot better than we did when we were young, our own childhoods akin to a long and tortious drive through Nebraska.  I know this, because I’ve driven through Nebraska. The cornfields, I tell ya.

Once when I was little, I defied my father and hid strawberry shortcake dolls inside my travel bag on a long-distance trip to Kansas. Yes, they did smell like fruity chemicals. But so does lotion named “sun ripened raspberry” and you don’t see anyone complaining.  My favorite was the evil Purple pie man, who stole all of the berries from the innocent girls with a mischievous grin. Needless to say I loved these little dolls, which is why I thought I needed them on the 13 hour drive to nowhere (aka Kansas).

But you don’t know my father. He hated smells.  He could tell if we painted our nails two days prior.  He aired out the house at the whiff of burned toast.  One sniff of cute little Apple Dumplin’ and he was like the Jack and the Beanstalk giant, fo-fumming that he smelled the blood of something that did not actually smell like apples.

“HAND IT TO ME,” he bellowed.  You can imagine the horror on my face, my father’s looming hand reaching into the back seat of the station wagon.  Scared, timid, and feeling small, I handed him one with flaming orange hair.

To my shock, he hand-cranked down the glass, which could only mean one thing.  He wasn’t placing a to-go order.  He wasn’t spitting.  He was about to throw, with all his might, my dolls out the window, somewhere outside of Oklahoma.  There were no apologies.  There was no “daddy lost his temper, sweetheart” moment.  Nothing akin to “we’ll buy you a new one” or “let’s talk about how this makes you feel.” It was swift, painful, and effective. All the dolls. Flump, flump, flump. In a moment, they were gone. My mother sat still and stoic, like this is just what fathers do when daughters bring along dolls that are fragranced with perfumed asbestos.

So maybe I’m overly concerned about how my children are feeling, and whether their emotions are seen as valid and real.  I worry that I’m not providing enough creative opportunity. Scared that they aren’t talking about their feelings. They are watching television instead of making birdhouses from scrap wood and metal screws.

For heaven’s sakes.

When we were kids, we’d get up as early as we could, watch as many shows as we could cram into a five-hour period, and take turns making each other breakfast.  One time my sister just walked in with plates covered in icing and we’d sit shooting sprinkles from the plastic container directly into our mouths.

So when my daughter threw a fit and I took away her allowance, I stopped for a moment and thought.  This is my right as a parent to invoke this discipline.  To enact order.  To make sure she understands that rules are rules.  And when she continued to defy me, I took a toy that she got last year for Christmas and put it in the Goodwill pile. There were no second chances.  I laid down the parameters.  She went past them.

Judging by her screaming, I was the worst mother ever. And that guilt started to creep in – was this too much? But I remembered my childhood, and how completely unaffected or scarred I am from the memories. So I braced myself for her outrage.  I allowed her to get angry. But in the end the toy was gone, and so was the discussion.  The next day was a new day, fresh and clean and happy.

As twangy as this sounds, being that I’m from Texas and all, we need to calm the hell down and firm up our resolve.  Let’s be parents, and be bold, and say that lines that are crossed have real and meaningful consequences. After all, they do in real life, where there are no time-outs or apologies.  There are only cops with little pads writing tickets and accidents that can end in death and despair.

Sometimes I think back about that little doll with orange hair, somewhere on the roadside, smashed by a truck or pecked at by birds, dead now by contaminated plastic, smelling of something other than apples.  And it makes me smile.  My father and his aversion to smells.  The large red station wagon with hand-cranked windows. And the look of my mother.

This is life, kiddo, she said with her eyes.  Get over it.

 

photo:

(three w’s).flickr.com/photos/minhablythe/5158719569/in/photolist-8RRMAR-4fC1mQ-9boJmy-97x4x9-9s6PCK-bH3TSK-bu93H9-8TCvu9-o8xPXN-bu967E-7RXD6R-bH3RJ8-9KWeBn-z6b3Q-bH3U4X-bH3TXX-bH3TVt-8NFexD-8NV9L6-bzwVYQ-c8bP7E-81w25J-8AHVmS-bH3UeZ-bH3UEk-bu94d3-adu3zU-8VjvCv-bH3Uak-bu93P3-bu95FU-ieDzjy-8QeMr3-bu9387-9uwagb-bu93Z7-bu92LW-bu943A-cx9eJb-cK34U9-5gacU9-bu95tJ-8K4wqW-bssM4y-6xsqHJ-4DW1jj-z67zA-8QbPgR-bH3QHi-9a9JCE

The Truth about Texting Abbreviations

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I realize everyone has limited time. But if you’re going to give your thumbs a rest by using texting abbreviations, let’s at least better understand them. Studies show that using texting abbreviations during the entire course of life will save you a total of sixteen minutes. So when you’re ninety years old and drooling, you can stare at the wall a little bit longer. Make it count.

Here are the most popular:

OMG (Oh my what – God? Gosh? Grapes?). This is mainly used when there is literally nothing else creative in the universe to say, generally an acceptable response to anything from “I’m having a ten-pound baby” to “Let’s have tacos for dinner, OMG I love tacos.” If we are going to perpetuate this abbreviation we should maybe vary it up a bit, like OMS (oh my stars!) or OMB (oh my bacon!). People can guess. It’ll be fun.

LMAO (Laugh My Ass Off). This is ridiculous. Let’s all stop using this. There is no one who laughs so much that they lose their own ass. Perhaps the laughing is so forceful and it burns so many calories that the fat melts off. This is odd at best, scary at worst. Because you need an ass. Without one, how would you look in jeans? How would you sit? If you are laughing this hard, you need to calm the heck down and take a sedative.

ROFL (Rolling on the Floor Laughing). I can’t believe this is even a thing. I’ve been on this planet for 40 long years, and have heard some extremely funny things. However, I have never rolled around on the floor about it. Not due to Lucille Ball. Not after hearing Jerry Seinfield. Not even listening to the Louis C.K. HBO special. There is dog hair on the floor, and germs. I’m not sure why you’d roll around down there, even for a good solid Trump joke.

LOL (Laugh out loud). This is a classic, but don’t you think it’s getting tired? It is rare that you laugh out loud. It’s often only a slight chuckle, so to say you are truly laughing is a bit extreme. Americans are going crazy with extremes. If you laugh at something, perhaps just say “Ha.” Or “Funny.” Or even “YFPS” = you are so funny that I want to take you to parties like a sideshow. Not to be extreme. As an aside, I had a friend once whose wife was in the hospital with a life-threatening illness, and her mother-in-law thought LOL meant “lots of love,” so whenever she’d text the poor girl she would say “Does the IV hurt? LOL” or “I’m so sorry you are losing your eyesight LOL.” That actually did make me laugh out loud.

IMHO (In My Humble Opinion). I’ve had this thrown at me a few times, meaning that the person is about to say something I do not want to hear. Because of course I wanted their vain, arrogant opinion.

The folks who post on our neighborhood garage sale always use the phrase ISO (in search of). That cracks me up because instead of leading with “I need a used dresser” what they are instead saying is that they are on a search! A quest! A scavenger hunt for treasure! I am desiring a purse made from the threads of Burberry!

The only phrases (in my humble opinion) that are truly worth the energy-save of an abbreviation is perhaps JK (just kidding), the occasional K (okay) and certainly GOTYM (get out of town you moron). Otherwise, you need to salvage your ass and stop rolling around on the dirty floor. No matter how funny Jim Gaffigan is, sit up for heaven’s sakes. K?

photo:

(threew’s).flickr.com/photos/garryknight/8331105136/in/photolist-dGc6iJ-aKPi8T-4zV17D-9qQCYc-5Qb9JK-5Q5g4D-5Q5fr6-6gqgXv-bJYiHH-9EGRvd-bFiepD-eaNEDk-NfCGd-bS6CLn-68rFgK-eyNL71-duEZhk-bR52LB-a8wdVc-6NbQH1-okNmYq-5Q5fdM-pR8z8t-d393Xf-frhDdG-cEGGkd-7SLQGz-npcgs5-btPpXc-7Se6fK-5Q5fWt-5Q9v1u-5Q9v4y-rWPzZX-CRYc3u-gvZyq-fM2ZcC-9ZY28m-5Q9vpY-dsB2Y9-gvZxb-C24FK2-8URHGt-eWKEim-APgSC1-C5LRtE-Bp3ucJ-dVQU7M-4UjLyE-8quZL3

The Intersection of humor and faith

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I wonder if God laughs at Gaffigan. In my small town viewpoint, anything that honors others, doesn’t tear people down, helps bridge gaps, and makes hard things easier, is sort-of like religion, without having to choke down all those wafers.

Last night I was invited to a wonderful gathering of women – strong, powerful, change-leaders in our society. There were lawyers, doctors, CEO’s, accountants – all seeking to find out how to mesh faith into their daily lives. It was loud, because hello we are women, and there was wine, which makes life better. I was talking to the main speaker about her topic, trying to hear above all the chatter.

“Did you say that you were speaking about Jesus s**t?” I said. Because that was odd. Not what I expected her to say. You should have seen the look on her face. Incredulous. Surprised. Maybe offended? I don’t know her that well.

“I said LEADERSHIP,” she said.

“Oh, right.” I said. “That’s way better. Let’s not refer to that other thing ever again.” And then I stared at my toes for a while. I don’t know if I’ll be invited back.

Of all the parts about being alive, I find laughter to be one of the most exciting. It’s a little creepy from the outside, probably. Lions are probably like what is up with all that shaking from the humans. Our mouths fly open and strange burst-like noises come out. Sometimes there is bellowing. We might cry and say things like “Stop it!” and “Get out!” when we really mean “Go on!” and “You’re hilarious!” And in the process of laughing small little bubbles of happy are released into our bloodstream. We are drawn to humor like Kardashians to plastic surgery.

I was asked to speak a few months ago at a women’s retreat on the topic of humor. I wanted to somehow express the odd dynamic I saw between humor and faith. The friends of mine that make me laugh out loud are not at all religious and seem to tolerate my faith like I have a wart or crooked teeth. The poor girl can’t help herself.

And then there are my religious friends. Some get offended, or think humor is hurtful or that they are doing something wrong by laughing at off-color jokes. There is a point that humor can become divisive. I actually wanted to walk right out of a Dave Chappelle show because instead of joy all I heard was pain. But generally speaking we need to calm the heck down already. These wonderfully spiritual people crowded into the room in which I was giving a talk because they were thirsty for funny. Something real and not polished. Something about faith that didn’t involve the word grace or salvation and instead involved the feeling of joy.

When I was writing my first novel (I say that like I have ten others when I only just have this one), one of my main goals was to juxtapose humor with pain, because laughter is a great connector, and our aching hearts need to be filled with endorphins instead of anticoagulants. But it can also cut like a thousand knives, into deep places of shame and hurt where other weapons cannot reach. We have a duty to use it wisely, and responsibly, to bring good to the world.

I’m not saying Gaffigan is a saint. He clearly eats too many doughnuts. But I am saying that humor is a gift. It’s a part of who we are. We are literally built for it. And anything our body craves so deeply and provides so much joy is a good and holy thing. In my non-preacher, simple girl opinion.

Laughing is effervescent. It fizzes and tickles, and when your life might be otherwise flat, wit makes it sparkle. Invest in friendships that encircle, and uplift, and fill you with happy. Seek out comedy. Don’t be afraid to cross these two worlds – faith and humor.

We so desperately need it to stay afloat.

photo:

(three w’s).flickr.com/photos/abukij/19118573923/in/photolist-v8rFWT-hdsK62-a14QY8-JbDdR-8g53Pi-brhJ7W-5r9cR4-st9iAk-7YFSxb-pov6cD-pjVErG-5YHsAw-7mBjHU-59hNjK-rpNHt5-aFQ64k-bTmdbe-85an7k-k5hdz6-ebr3Ec-5vmmek-3q5Rss-8HUe3m-vzCqC-zEwzNF-9GtVd3-wvJFMn-7RCH9-n6dRz-8HZ8hZ-ae5qoH-aUuKDK-5SKnNG-5xdPjR-5GFxXz-E8Y4i-7iNNFo-zAebqJ-hkHLFn-9htucp-9XHZPK-9vmm6-eKHX9i-myNz9q-qmyaM4-76JYWD-5bQsDp-dzdia1-fiRvwU-3qzemW

Survival skills with children

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The thing we all seem to do as grown people with children is somehow convince ourselves that vacations to remote areas involving mountains and streams will be much appreciated by our kids, who let’s be honest would all rather be at Disney.

“Look at that beautiful naturescape!” I say.

“Do you see how the boulders are jagged and look like they were ripped open like French bread?” I utter.

The kids are ignoring me, partly because they are wearing headphones but also because I said the word “naturescape,” which is a total nerd thing to say, geez.

It all started off well, in the sense that my son threw a fit and there were arguments over where everyone would sit in the minivan. There was my son in a bookstore in Denver, demanding that I buy him a children’s Bible, and when I refused he threw the Bible on the floor screaming I WANT THIS BOOK AND NOTHING ELSE AND YOU ARE SO MEAN! I wanted to point out the irony since it was a Bible and Jesus taught patience and self-control, but I let that one lie and simply said “we aren’t buying that instrument of peace because I have to lug it home in a suitcase but instead I’ll get you this cool and very thin picture book from Pixar.”

But these things happen on vacation. We have to just deal.

We finally decided upon a class on natural survival skills, since we were in Estes Park and there were bears and maybe someday we might be caught alone in the woods.  So led by a dude named Daniel who smoked too much weed, we hiked for so long my daughter thought we had crossed state lines.  Even I was beginning to wonder if we couldn’t just perhaps visit about being stranded in the woods without the actual stranded-in-the-woods part. But he had cool long hair and a YETI hat so who was going to argue? When we finally landed deep into the forest, he informed us that the *most important skill* was for us to make a shelter. I thought it was s ’mores, but no one responded to that, so perhaps I’m wrong? I don’t think I’m wrong. But we sat down on a log, my daughter gasped for air and begged for water, and I was anxiously waiting to learn something valuable to pass on to my grandchildren about water collection or edible sap.

But wait! When Daniel says make a shelter, he really means we need to get into teams and actually make one! Right now! However we want! Take our time! And then he disappears without any further instruction, leaving us all just standing there like teammates on a reality show. So for an hour, me and the kids linked up with some random dude from Ohio and his smallish toddler and laid logs against a boulder.  I was pretty pissed, because I didn’t want to exert mental energy on a fake fortress that we weren’t actually going to use, and I didn’t see any value of rolling up my sleeves and playing grown-up Lincoln logs. If we were really stranded in the wilderness we’d probably eat poison berries and die of dehydration, huddling under some logs because we were woefully undertrained. But I’m the responsible parent so I played along, took pictures, and told the children that their fort-like shelter living room had lots of natural light.

Daniel comes back and says the time’s up folks, time to head back, your shelters look great, and oh-by-the-way you should also make a fire if you’re stuck in the woods for real.  Let’s be honest. Our shelters were terrible, primarily made by children who were distracted by ground squirrels. And we didn’t actually make a fire, because that’s unsafe. Says the man who didn’t mind lighting up earlier, so I found this highly hypocritical.

We headed back and my kids acted like we were forced to singlehandedly scale the Sierra Nevada pass. They drug their feet.  They whined.  They begged for granola bars. My daughter actually ate an apple I had in my backpack “to suck out the juice” with dramatic flair, even though we just ran out of water 2.65 minutes earlier. As a reward for her courage in walking across the mountains, however, I promised my daughter she could take an archery class.  Which was fun for 15 minutes until the lightning warnings shut us down and we had to hitch a ride back to base camp from some old wrinkled woman in a Honda.

So overall we had a great time in the naturescape. But the next time I get an itch and want to take my kids to the mountains, I may instead simply rent a movie about bears, let them make a fort in the living room with blankets, and make s ’mores in the back yard like the hard-core survivalist that I am.

 

Photo:

(three w’s).flickr.com/photos/zachd1_618/4828667330/in/photolist-8mGbz1-paJwch-p2WLWy-q3CTB3-4aXJtw-hKQfeW-aiSx4n-7yRcqF-fCNRQ4-nM9Km-aTLkwX-bjZN8D-587zbz-29TMHM-pcJEvf-8q59Vg-rgvSQZ-deQcUC-p2W8qU-phoW29-nJxV8e-fQYvXm-4GUAor-ddRkec-aSnE12-4mJTWp-5fsFgN-8a91cA-p9uwJ1-4cEtuH-5jFaDx-8mHGkQ-aqr5ib-745E5d-8g6Qp5-8dZawW-4J6sJx-8evNTU-p2ExBk-fb4yHE-p2W8E1-e1LtYa-8yWFFZ-q9R3jr-dCPyAj-aCqQZo-6i1LWZ-rEVSVG-4cJrro-pRw9xW

 

My Top Ten Pieces of Parenting Advice

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  • I know all this free-range business is giving you new parents something to stress about, because your instinct is to hold up your precious William’s little bottom on the playscape so he doesn’t fall and free-rangers are all “let-him rip! Skin up those knees! You’re a nerdball-helicopter-control-freak if you watch your child run across the field!” Whatever, ladies. Chill the heck out and watch him as long as it feels comfortable.
  • Over the weekend our neighbors had a party and my children felt like swimming at 7 pm. They begged to return home for swimsuits. Naturally, I said no because I am a responsible parent. Thus, I continued to visit with grown-ups and ate more barbeque tacos. I then saw my children giggling and gathering up more children like they were ring leaders of a pre-school prison gang and they all decided to enter the hot tub in mass in their FULL ON CLOTHING. I stood looking at them like “Well, I could intervene, but I’m sitting here eating tacos.” So strike that on free range. It’s really quite lovely. Embrace disobedience in the name of creative exploration.
  • The other day my son had his 5th birthday party and another mom was like “this is the very first time my son has ever had soda in a can.” I sat there stunned, like “Seriously? The very first time? And this monumental event occurred at my house?” She spent five long years pushing watered-down fruit juice and all of a sudden here’s soda. I didn’t know if I should be proud of her or humiliated that I was letting kids slurp on Country Time Lite. It even had fake sugar, which means all these kids will get cancer and it’s on my head. OMG what have I done. But then I told myself to relax. We hardly ever drink these things. Curb the comparisons. Remember this if you want to have a Dora-the-Exploror party and Pinterest would scoff at your lack of creativity or absence of milk bottles with paper straws or you serve oreo’s instead of peppers with hummus. It’s fine. Little Mackenzie doesn’t even like peppers.
  • It’s raining and flooding here like the days of Noah so my children have had a ball with the cardboard house I let them make in the living room. Which is cool for a day but then the requests are like “can we eat our fried eggs in the little house?” and “can we sleep in the little house?” and “can we make furniture for this stupid little house and haul in all the leftover cans and milk cartons to the complete exhaustion of your sanity?” Kids, unless this little house comes with a housekeeper it’s being torn down on Sunday afternoon.   Then they cry and say you’re a horrible mother and how can they possibly live without this house/fort stuck together with duct tape filled with egg cartons. I’m not sure what advice I have for you on matters like this except that tomorrow they’ll move on to something else, so bake brownies.
  • There’s loads of guilt for not volunteering at school. Stop it with the guilt. I’m working full time so I usually volunteer for things like “napkins” and “games at the holiday party” and leave the lunch helpers to other mothers who really want to sit there with 20 or so loud children. And when I forget to bring snacks I’m that mom that shows up with a bag of carrots and a bottle of dressing, which shows my obvious effort, and when I forget my son’s blanket or pillow I’m like “somehow figure this out, people/surely you guys have a beach towel around this place that will work.” Now this might seem cruel to you, but from one mother to another I’m telling you your kid doesn’t mind eating carrots on a napkin or covering up for one stinking day with a towel. And if he or she minds, you have bigger problems. Come to my house and I’ll give them a soda.
  • Eating vegetables is an age-old battle. They have magical stomachs that can’t possibly stuff down one more green bean and yet there’s a reservoir for ice cream that never overflows. My suggestion is to simply tell them they have to eat their vegetables or no dessert, no matter the fact that sautéed spinach makes them gag or roasted beets taste like the bottom of a shoe or they’d rather starve until September than eat one more asparagus. You simply must never give in or show any emotion and treat dessert like an ex-boyfriend you don’t even give any second of thought to anymore. Then when they get smart and say “well I don’t want that stupid strawberry ice cream anyhow” you can bribe them with leftover Halloween candy. I’ve also heard statements like “EAT THAT STUPID KALE OR I’M TAKING AWAY TV TOMORROW FOR THE LOVE YOU ARE DRIVING ME MAD” may work on a pinch if you’re on your way to basketball practice in ten minutes.
  • Let’s discuss making beds. I think it’s stupid because we just get back into them in a day’s time so I’m the worst person to give advice in this area. My house always looks like it’s been broken into and the burglars took long naps.
  • I will point out, because I’m feeling like a bad mother making my kid eat vegetables and cover up with towels, that one particular year I didn’t bring carrots for snacks but instead followed a very detailed pinterest design. It involved making pencils for the beginning of the year out of cheese sticks, pieces of pepperoni, and bugle chips. I jubilantly hauled them to school to showcase my amazing mothering and my daughter was like “really mom? Do you have to walk these in?” So the lesson here is Pinterest is stupid and your kids care more about a love note written on a day-old napkin and stuffed in their lunch next to a cheese sandwich.
  • Get them all off devices. It robs them of all creativity and imagination. But then again, your house is a wreck, you have forts and books and roly poly collections and worm farms, so maybe limited device time is better than you becoming an alcoholic. So PBS and Little House on the Prairie only. Maybe a few others. Only once a day, maybe twice. Oh what do I know I’m such a pushover.
  • Honestly I don’t know what advice to give, except that reading to your children is never a waste of time, even when you’re bone tired, and never, ever, ever, withhold love. Love until your arms are sore. Love when they throw things and say they hate you. Love when they leave and say they will never come home. Love until your last dying breath. Love like nothing else has any hope of working, and when you feel all worn out just love some more.

We’ll see if it works out in the end, unmade beds and all.

 

photo:

(threew’s).flickr.com/photos/7698062@N04/4077647468/in/photolist-7dk1wG-61AfRy-97TGEf-oHxSZc-6iZzjq-aFhbna-aFkZnE-aFhbzc-aFkZpj-aFhbFB-aFhbsP-aFkZD5-aFkZuj-aFhbui-aFhbKc-aFhbPM-aFkZfL-aFkZcu-aFhbHk-aFhbqx-aFkZB3-aFhbAR-9uUjg8-e6yzFf-4pTBV6-4pH7Ma-9aPAv5-8QQhcr-jkKx1g-7oB56E-7RhbNG-9RYtR4-9RYtXt-aM5Xf6-aM5WV4-btSRsf-9TSUfe-5xnkDh-5xhWcR-5xhVhr-5xhWU4-5xnkwq-5xnjBm-5xnjFQ-5xhXeD-5xhVvD-5xnjU7-5xhVor-aM5ZbF-gDPVrB

Nine Fun Facts About Full-Time Working Mothers

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  1. We are resourceful. Let’s hear it for Thursday mornings when you realize that you have nothing for the kids’ lunches but almost-turned strawberries and leftover pasta in oversized Tupperware. While those other mommas are lovingly hand-packing turkey roll-ups with love notes, I’m like sweet! We have frozen burritos! WE WILL SURVIVE ANOTHER DAY.
  1. We don’t mind traffic. After all, rush hour is a blessing.  Time alone without children to gather one’s thoughts, be mindful, pray, and listen to music.  That’s what I tell myself, at least. And yet quite honestly I am a liar. It’s a daily exercise in patience while you sit in a sea of taillights, mostly cursing.
  1. We don’t like to repeat ourselves. Can CPS be called for yelling about putting on shoes? I mean hypothetically if there’s a chronic not-putting-on-shoes problem and said yelling can be heard in the general neighborhood at a high volume? Asking for a friend.
  1. We encourage perseverance through life’s many little troubles. My daughter’s like “no one else has to eat cheese sandwiches for lunch.” Like something is wrong with cheese sandwiches. Suck it up, kid. Later in life there’s traffic and leaking oil filters and complex relationships. This is minor.
  1. We cook healthy dinners for our families. Dinner used to be a time where we all gathered around a protein and two vegetables. Now it’s a mad rush to put macaroni and carrots on a plate before 7 pm.  When I actually do cook a real meal, the kids frown. “What? No carrots?”
  1. We recycle. Yesterday one of my children got leftover pork roast, biscuits with jelly, and grapes for lunch. I fail to see the problem.
  1. We encourage ourselves to be our best. Every morning, we stare at that woman in the mirror, the one with dark circles and hair that looks like it was shocked with electrical outlets. One voice inside says “Give in, hon. Just throw on a baggy dress and ponytail it.” But another voice, much more faint, says “Girl, you know you’ll regret that decision by 2 pm. So go ahead and make more coffee, wear those black strappy heels, and curl through the tangles. I taught you better than this.” I hate that voice. I snarl at it as I dab on concealer.
  1. We focus on what’s important. Working full time means sometimes your kids are late to school, you forget things, you push them in front of television shows in order to jump on conference calls, or say things like “mommy is really stressed out today because of an acquisition that almost tanked and millions were at stake so HOW ABOUT WE NOT WHINE ABOUT THE FACT THAT WE ONLY HAVE PEANUT FLAVORED GRANOLA BARS.
  1. We have a thing for pajamas. Sometimes I have dreams of taking my kids to school in pajamas. My stay-at-home mom friends tell me it’s not that glamorous, and if you’re home all day there’s laundry to accomplish, and they dream of going out to fancy lunches. I just keep yelling “PAJAMAS” in the phone until they finally relent and tell me that it’s actually pretty damn awesome.

Basically, working outside the home is hard.  Being a mom is hard.  Put those together and your children will eat lots of carrots.

 

photo:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/rbh/10218754856/in/photolist-gyZMNy-9QvNRf-6n8DLq-sUCBA-h9n12m-8Aq1yt-87N9tk-7osHn-cRm8U5-aKug2K-7gQ28z-79tRBP-muMbmN-biy8Le-9jXmAt-79xHhN-8CPRdi-8rVAQ1-6ea8Av-de9aCe-a7kvnN-a7hxpk-rGFdbG-rsvURX-7CjSKL-8s34wJ-5b6HGp-61JYN-5ZtZ25-hZfbmj-91zUsq-q9eKwk-5kof6W-7mFcCc-oWpjmC-o7cpK9-8ACA53-bBGoXH-6uo26W-58TnmN-7osrg-dErga1-orF6Cr-fpU6oK-fq9kJh-8tktDc-DQisu-5cxkro-6KWzZJ-cvr5io

Odd and Curious Thoughts [about the New Year]

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  • So the fudge consumption has ended. Also the spiced pecans and pie. My parents brought over a tub of animal crackers big enough to feed the state of Rhode Island, and those dagblasted little animals are the last remaining sugared items in my home. I have half a mind to throw them all out, despite starving people in the world. I can’t in good conscience wear my sweaters in public because they are clinging to my sides. So these little white floured elephants are going to the day care Monday, so I can push more sugar onto the little people.

 

  • My resolution this year is to be more positive. I’m already a fairly rose-colored-glasses girl, but I’m throwing it into hyper-drive and soon I’ll sound like Candide giggling despite my life’s circumstances. If I get cancer or have a horrific accident I plan on just putting on lipstick and bearing through with a grin. Because my life is very, very good, and I’m not planning on sweating any smallish stuff. Which means I probably will get cancer because I’m not great at wearing organic, all-natural deodorant.

 

  • I am starting off more organized. I cleaned out my closets and lined up all my boots, layers upon layers of them. My daughter stayed up late and helped me stuff plastic cleaner’s bags in the tall riding boots so they stood up high and proud on the shelves. I am not certain what prompted me to start this odd habit. “So this is what you do after I go to bed at night,” she says. To an 8-year-old this is truly fascinating stuff. To adults it just sounds weird and neurotic.

 

  • I also organized my shirts by color and texture (silks, knits, starched) and I highly anticipate this will last me at least three weeks before I’m yet again stepping over things and poking myself with hangers. However, this year’s a new start. Miracles can happen. Maybe there’s an organic deodorant that doesn’t actually make you smell like reheated broccoli. Only time will tell.

 

  • I got my septic system pumped out, which was its own adventure. A man with a long pony-tail, teeth that nary a dentist have seen, and tough work boots drove up with a big truck, looked into my various tanks, and said “Oh dear. We don’t usually see sludge in this one.” Whereby I kicked in my newly found optimism and said “Yippee! Good for me that I called you! Can I get you some coffee as you inhale sewage smell on this cold and rainy day and suck the sludge from my tanks? Nopers? Alrighty then. Let me know when you’re done so I can go inside and grieve for you that you have to do this every single day of your life.” Makes my little problems easier to endure. On a high note, there was no need for that man to wear deodorant. Who would notice.

 

  • Speaking of things that smell, our entire family walked around the house wondering what smelled like burned plastic the other day. Was a light so hot it was melting some sort of outer casing? Did a plastic spoon get caught in the bottom of the dishwater and melt to a puddle of carcinogens? It was a mystery that remained unsolved until later when I was putting away the rest of the ham and found a piece of the plastic the ham was wrapped in seared to the side of the meat. We are all so going to die. However, since we didn’t die, and it’s HAM for pete’s sake, I cut up the rest of it and cooked it inside a pot of black-eyed-peas the following day. SO POSITIVE! WINNING!

 

  • I was home for over a week with my children, and it was lovely to spend so much time with them without the distractions and burdens of work. We played legos, had the cousins over whereby there were lots of giggles and dress up, had hot chocolate nights, ate dessert first, prepared nice meals and some not so nice, and spent days in our pajamas. At one point I think I said “why bother getting new clothes on / we didn’t do anything but play board games today / take a bath and put these back on.” It was luxurious. I did so much laundry that I even matched socks and washed sheets.   My children went into my closets like they were a new addition to the home they had never seen. Woooooo. Ahhhhhh. It has a floooooooor. There is no need to be this dramatic. I swear it’s like you’ve never seen color-coordinated silk shirts before.  Geez.

 

  • I read Nancy Drew books to my daughter until 10 pm and when I was too sleepy she read to me, and we did this for hours during the days and evenings. Then she’d fade away in corners of her room reading some more. School books and mysteries and books on friends and princess diaries. She created Barbie playgrounds and put random things in envelopes and at one point said “I CAN’T POSSIBLY TAKE A BATH I AM WRITING.” So I simply shut her door and nodded my head like “well honey how can you possibly be expected to, naturally not. How silly of me to ask.” And she stared at me like how awesome: I didn’t know that line would get me any traction.

 

  • I am not sure I can survive without these little animal crackers. Have you tried them with spiced tea? Have you tried them with peanut butter? I have nothing in this house, people. GIVE ME THIS.

 

  • I am starting my second novel. This statement itself is totally nonsensical because I have a full time job as an executive and a boyfriend I like to spend time with and two smallish people living inside of my home. But here I went outlining the plot to my sister over the holidays and we are brainstorming about what awful condition one of my characters has and how it wrecks her life and her husband has to hide it to protect her and the family never knew exactly why she died until now. So let’s recap. Over the holidays I organized my shirts by color, ate excessive amounts of sugar, barely got out of pajamas, and made up a world of imaginary people. You can see why I have to be positive because I’m half-mad and if I get locked up at least I’ll have people in my mind to talk to.

 

  • It was a lucky year for me. I met a brilliant, kind, and loving man. We sat at the top of Mount Greylock this Fall and sipped hot cider. We held hands down 5th Avenue heading in the rain toward the St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We drank beer at Rumpy’s Tavern in Massachusetts. We strolled down the streets of Boston. We stayed up late in Dallas.  We sat in church and he reached for my hand. And we have talked more hours that I can remember. For Christmas, he made me a wall-sized word search of all the places we’ve been together and it made big fat tears roll down my cheeks. He’s a keeper, this one. For I am indeed the lucky one.

 

I hope ya’ll have a lovely new year, whether it’s eating clean or staying organized or being more positive. We all need each other. I’ll be around, smiling and grinning, traveling somewhere, wearing cancer-laden deodorant, thanking God for my wonderful life, and stuffing my face with sugared giraffes while wearing ill-fitted sweaters.

Farewell, Frog

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The other morning, upon running late, shooing children out the door, and wearing a pencil skirt with leopard-print pumps of all things, my son makes a discovery.  A tiny little frog had hopped into the garage – fresh from the rain puddles I suppose, and had found himself juxtaposed between a corner and a large 4-year-old boy with beautiful eyes and a fascination for reptiles. He didn’t have a chance, really.

“Can we take him to school?” my son asked.  He was jumping and his eyes were smiling.  But we didn’t have time.  I was in heels.  There has been zero consumption of caffeine.  We have exactly eighteen seconds to get in the car and peel out of the driveway or both kids would be late.  “Please, mom? Can we can we can we?” I looked in his little eyes, those eyelashes batting up and down.

Damnit with the eyelashes.

So back in the house we go, the superman Tupperware shaped for sandwiches being brutally sacrificed for the love of frogs, so I stab air holes in the lid and hobble back out in my heels and ridiculously thin skirt and try to catch the slippery thing.  Finally with the help of a piece of paper and my transferring-frogs-into-tupperware-skillz that I learned in parenting school, I captured him, to the delight of my screeching son, who was happier than I saw him last Christmas morning.  Which means this Christmas I’m just going to fill the house with frogs.  Thanks a lot, gears-gears-gears. You were a waste of $60.

Off to school we go, after rounds of Taylor Swift for my daughter and having to endure the interior light so she can read her book on dogs who talk and save the earth, and I somehow get the children dropped off at their respective places with statements of love and happiness, through the Starbucks line, and I’m happily in rush-hour traffic toward my office.  Fast forward eight lovely hours, whereby I skipped lunch to review contracts and I’m back in my car, which is hot enough to roast marshmallows because it’s Texas and it never freaking gets cold despite it being October. And then I see it.  Right there next to his seat.

Death.  It permeates the Lexus.

The poor thing suffocated.  It had no hope.  We even put a leaf in the little container for it to eat, although let’s be honest small baby-like frogs don’t munch on leaves like potato chips, but to my son every living thing eats leaves so let’s not ruin the whole story over semantics.  I am forced to make a pit stop in suburbia one block away from my son’s preschool and pull over, opening the lid to throw the dead body out on the pavement below.  I can’t exactly explain to him that we simply “forgot the frog” or “it suffocated in the heat, dying a slow miserable death whilst plastered to a converse blue image of a superhero he will never become,” now can I.

I had to bang the Tupperware against my car for him to fall out because his little water-starved body was stuck to the side. I know, I know. It’s horrific.  I crossed myself although I’m not Catholic and said a little prayer as it lay there lifeless on the pavement below, soon to be run over by the wheels of my own car most likely, but what exactly do you do in this situation? Stupid Texas heat. If we lived in Chicago the sweet little frog might be fat and happy munching on that leaf all afternoon.

I hid the Tupperware in the front seat so my kid wouldn’t ask questions.  I said we could have mac-and-cheese for dinner.  I tried all my tactics to keep him upbeat and not be suspicious.  Until he saw it.  The Tupperware lid peering from underneath my blazer.  Oh, friends.  Let the tears roll.

I told him I let it out by his school, so he could frolic and play with his friends since we forgot to take him in, which at first blush may seem a wee bit untruthful but his froggy friends could so totally be frog zombies. He was mostly angry I didn’t let him out at home, so he could find him (until I offered oreos and then would forget), his long-lost friend (that he forgot) and wanted so badly to save (that he just met this morning it’s not like you guys are BFFs, geez.  Plus he’s a frog).

Needless to say it was a big ordeal, only to be healed by a television show and love from his dear mother (who committed frogslaughter and dumped the body).   The most important thing about all this is that I managed to kneel down in a pencil skirt.  If you see any frog remains in front of a brick house I don’t know what you are talking about.

You guys can judge all day, but just wait until this happens to you.  Let’s hope it’s just a beetle, who “overdid it on the leaf eating.”  They are less frightening when dead. Not that I know anything about that.

Let’s all have oreos. K?

photo:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/125791999@N06/14815693604/sizes/m/in/photolist-ozdixb-aEMcB5-8iSSBF-bYL3sS-oeMB1H-frJm9V-afehCU-afbuXR-diibw6-fPkXDZ-e7AHBd-nJEnGP-cuLtuw-fmKcbz-bYdh9h-eYhuLL-a3QXZi-8vQEc6-ar5Pqq-ar5MA3-a7xzoR-gawWdG-cY3ubd-n2RsAZ-n2RzzB-95bS3U-p7uwkv-8NSef1-fhXu9g-o22gME-fJHrBS-9U6BNz-8zbaEB-aGfTcP-it5PQC-9n11Qh-8e8PTF-8sxVNX-8fxwty-bbRNfR-9U6Dw6-9U6CAV-9Nhus2-7GMaLY-jJnqsc-8qF36E-dNU7LR-nHabUq-8A75Dc-afvex1-7PaxWm/

 

Odd and Curious Thoughts of the Week

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(1) So this past weekend, while eating a salad at Maudies, my date and I see a child vomit at the next table over, the parents not at all outraged or disgusted and simply continue to eat while the waitress cleans up said vomit. The parents handed the kid an ipad and a glass of sprite while we sit and try to carry on a normal conversation.  In the midst of this shocking event, our waitress remembers my side of dressing, which consists of a vat of white creamy substance in a large bowl looking exactly like vomit.  I’m totally disgusted with all humanity and I am swearing off ranch dressing forever.

(2)  In other news, we went out for sushi and laughed with new friends.  It turns out eating raw meat is less gross than a vat of vomit dressing.

(3) In his elder years, my dog has managed to overcome his arthritis in the morning long enough to bark for treats and roam the neighborhood at will without a leash, a stern warning, or any time limit on peeing, apparently.  He has a bladder the size of Wisconsin.

(4) My kids were off visiting grandparents for a solid week so my house has been quiet and I missed their beautiful angelic voices and the singing and yelling and laughing and running.  One night I visited a girlfriend and she was like “OMG I AM SO TIRED OF CHILDREN LET’S LOCK THEM ALL OUTSIDE AND DRINK WINE” and I realized that sometimes a break is lovely. It’s all about perspective.

(5) The kids came back and I was so excited to see them that I made crispy broccoli and tomatoes soaked in balsamic, but then I realized they are children and what the hell was I thinking.

(6) For dessert we had Ben & Jerry’s ice cream but mostly it was just me eating it with the occasional droplet of ice cream placed upon their tongues like they had just hatched out of a nest and they needed food as basic fuel to fly. But not too much because it’s Cherry Garcia.   I missed them and all but still.

(7) Went on a fabulous dinner date to Alamo Drafthouse to see Stand By Me with a full menu that matched scenes in the movie complete with beer parings from a pub in Portland, but three beers later I was like seriously folks it’s Tuesday. There is a morning coming.

(8) My children are sleeping in my bed because I can’t stand to be away from them.  I wedge myself in between them and sing spirituals and tell them in the middle of the night they are the joy of my life. My son woke up and said he dreamed he was riding a mud-laden roller-coaster and when he got off he kicked snapping frogs off his toes.  He clarified that although there are snapping turtles in real life, this was just a dream. There are really no snapping frogs.  I thanked him for the clarification; I wasn’t aware.

(9) Basically my life is amazing.

 

photo:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/dvs/93359712/sizes/m/in/photolist-9fuAd-btgrkH-btgnUn-btgr2Z-btgoUv-btgot2-btgpA8-btgqop-btgpYe-375HNU-n3cfJx-5JFJSC-53Yh2i-5zssWC-5zst2J-5zobyz-Htds7-8hN9M1-5Qw3eF-k1riK-k1rmS-cULPsq-6PTb1g-5NSk3s-aBUPLU-4JKpUM-4Vyjgj-4imkmh-6omdkQ-aBUPUd-aBS4EM-aBS9o8-aBS9TF-aBUPEo-aBS4QP-bx54d7-59zbfZ-aBUQm7-mUBwNz-gG3bZp-6KM5k4-eaFwCz-aBS4nK-aBSa28-kJ1Ew8-6toJLC-PWUXM-82Zr86-d64Tf1-9qTBwJ-6KR6Nq/