Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Memento

You guys.  I think my Google account is mocking me.  I just tried to sign in with an old password and suddenly a message appeared that read "Your password was changed FOUR months ago."  Just like that- with the word FOUR in caps and everything.  While it didn't actually add the word "jackass', I feel like it was strongly implied.  My feelings are a little hurt. I kinda want to write Google a letter that would say:

Dear Google, CALM DOWN.

Sheesh.

Today I want to tell you about the crappy week I suffered through a few weeks ago.  Actually, I was going to tell you guys about it last week, but then I got insecure and decided to hold off.  I had been an accidental witness to a mean girl conversation and you know what I learned?  I can NOT be around people like that anymore.  I can't.  My backbone disappears and I turn into an quivering insecure amoeba who walks around afraid that everyone is judging me in the same mean way that I heard the mean girls judge others. It's probably bad karma coming around to get from my own mean girl conversations in the past.

Anyway, because of the mean-girl aftermath, I got insecure about posting this because most people don't want to share what I'm about to share. While many people have shared with me that what I'm about to share with you is actually a completely relatable experience, there are many people would say I'm over-sharing.  I'm going to share anyway because I think it's funny and I like to share funny things with you.  Plus, I'm actively trying to set a record for the number of times the word share appears in a single paragraph.

There.  That's over.  Thanks for sharing and being a part of it.

(Sorry. Maybe I should take ADD medicine.)

I'll change gears before I lose the 2 of you who are still reading.

Do you guys remember the movie Memento?  It came out around 2000.  Guy Pearce stars as a man who, because of a debilitating brain injury, is incapable of making new memories.   His wife is murdered and he has to solve it by backtracking through records of sticky notes that he writes for his future self.  He even tattoos some crucial information on various body parts.  To be honest, it's a pretty confusing movie and it doesn't help that the whole story is told backwards.  However, in honor of what I am now referring to as "The Week The Universe Turned On Me And Went To Crap", I thought it'd be cool if I told the story backwards, Memento style.

Here it goes:
9:30 Thursday night, on one of my most stressful days in recent memory, I am standing over a stove with a plastic shower cap on, separating curds from whey and pressing it into homemade cheese.  Are you intrigued?  Are you wondering why? Believe me.  I was wondering the same thing.

7:00 Thursday night: Pieces of my vacuum cleaner are strewn about the floor.  It's broken.   I am crying a little bit.  Hmmm?  What could be going on?

5:00 Thursday late afternoon:  This is the state of my laundry room.  In case you're wondering, while it's not usually spic-n-span, I am usually able to at least see the floor. You can't tell from the picture, but the piles spill from the laundry room out into the hallway.  I've been doing laundry for hours with hours with more hours yet to go.
4:00 Thursday afternoon.  I am at my client's house watching him try not to stare at my hair, which is pretty much slicked back into a greasy bun loaded with coconut oil.  I am greasy.  I smell like overwhelmingly like coconut (And it's not the good suntan lotion smell. It's more like a cooking oil smell.)  I am obviously frazzled.  I try to apologize to my 15 year old client for my appearance and he endears himself to me forever by saying "It's okay. Sometimes I get really greasy too." 
Bless his heart. 
3:00 Thursday afternoon: Our living room is filled with trash bags crammed with stuffed animals, pillows, and jackets. My girls pose for a picture, because I already know that someday I'm going to write about this. Their hair is slicked back into buns too.  And even though I am pretty much in the middle of total chaos, I still take the time to notice how beautiful they are.
(Sorry.  Total mom moment there.  I'm allowed once and a while.)

Anyway, I'm sure by now you know where this is going, don't you?  Here's the final piece of the puzzle:

10:00 Thursday morning: While cuddling with a sick Roo on the couch, I look over and see this.
Lice in my household.  I have never dealt with this before.  Not in all my years of parenting, not in the years I spent teaching, nor ever as a child myself.

So that, my friends, was the icing on my crappy sundae of a week.  And if it seems terrible going backwards, that's nothing compared to stress of the chronological events.  My whole week was bad, from start to finish: Matt was gone on a business trip, I had to cancel a bunch of clients, my kids got sick, I had to cancel more clients (some for the second time in the same week), one of my kids was rude to a friend at school and the opposite parent and I had to get involved, I was practically mugged by a homeless person, and then finally, my Grammy had a stroke and ended up in the hospital. (That actually happened on the morning after the lice episode. She's doing better now and is in a rehab facility. My family and I would appreciate your  prayers and good thoughts, though. We all love her so much and need her to be healthy. Thanks.)

Anyway, all that (except for Grammy's stroke) preceded the lovely climax to my epically crappy week.  One of the worst things was that I was so busy running around, picking up the kids, notifying friends we'd interacted with, giving the kids treatments, picking through hair and cleaning, that I had no time to get my own head checked.  I could practically feel them crawling around on me all day long, which only lent to the barely-below-the-surface panicky feeling that shadowed me.  By the time the vacuum broke, I was done.  Like I said, I cried a little.  Then I took another deep breath and did the following:

Vented on Facebook.
Gave the kids frozen waffles and burritos for dinner because it' all I had in the house.
Put the kids to bed.
Continued laundry.
Finally had husband check my head; he declared me clear of lice.
Disbelieved my husband and called my sister to see if she would come over in the morning to check my head and bring a vacuum.
Gave myself a treatment.
Sat down on the couch.
Remembered that J had a school project due the next day in which he was supposed to demonstrate how to make homemade cheese and bring it in for the class to taste.

And that is how it came to be that at 9:30 at night, on one of my most stressful days in recent memory, I was standing over a stove with a plastic shower cap on, separating curds from whey and pressing it into homemade cheese.

Isn't that a pretty mental picture? It's like I was a twisted version of Little Miss Muffett.

So now it's a new week.  We're off to a much better start. Somehow the boys and myself escaped lice.  I'm sick with a head cold, but I'll take that over lice any day.  My grammy is on the road to recovery, my clients are back in full swing, my kids are well, and hopefully the only memento that remains from the whole lice episode is this blog post and a healthy fear of sharing hats and hairbrushes.

Thanks for listening to my pity party.  Have a good night!















Monday, March 3, 2014

Preschool Fashion


My time as a preschool parent is coming to a close.  There are only a few more months, and then Roo will finally be off to Kindergarten and I will have to say goodbye forever to the sweet little school and staff that I’ve been bringing my kids to since 2007.  And while there are so many things I love about this school- the teachers, the curriculum, the fact that they’ve seen me through various stages of motherhood and have not once treated me like the crazy person I know I appear to be- there is one thing that I may miss the most when I leave preschool....... and that is the fashion.

If there is a group anywhere on this planet that is less inhibited than the preschool crowd in choice of clothing, I’d like to know who they are.  I’d also like to know what it is that they are smoking because the batshit blend of colors and whimsy that one sees on a preschooler is most likely unattainable without the help of hallucinogens. (I'm serious.  You can test this theory.  Remember the Rave parties that were so popular in the 90's? Imagine a group of kids from a Rave side by side with a group of preschoolers. Other than the fact that one group would be about two feet taller and high as kites, aren't they otherwise dressed identically?)
Now, in the past seven years, I have observed preschool fashion closely and tried my best to understand the wee one's process when it comes to creating an ensemble.  Years of study has taught me that their logic seems to be so completely creative and pure that it’s very difficult for us jaded, practical adults to understand.  However, I have compiled (to the best of my ability) a list of what I gather to be some general rules that the 5-and- unders follow.  I wish I knew this when G was four years old and stubbornly refusing to wear the ribbons and bows that I was always trying to put her in.  Would've made for much more peaceful mornings.  Oh well.  C'est la vie. 

Anyway. Here they are:
-Rubber rain boots go with anything, anytime, anywhere

-When you find a clothing item that works for you, stick with it.  In fact, don’t let your mom wash it.  Just keep wearing it.  Over and over and over and over.

-Glitter is the new black

-Superhero capes are the new black.

-Everything is the new black, except for black.

-Brushed teeth and hair are optional, as long as your outfit of the day is killin’ it.

-All clothes should be worn unapologetically, with extreme confidence and with pride.  Don’t listen to the adults who try to get you to match.  Be assertive.  Scream if necessary.  Don’t let them break you.

A few years ago, I heard of an artist in Japan who takes children’s drawings and re images them in photographs. That gave me a great idea. What if we did that with children’s fashion?  What if Milan’s fashion week featured a show in which the models walked the runway outfitted in clothes chosen by a preschooler?  What fun!  What magic! 

Then I realized it was really a terrible idea.  Never mind.  Never mind it at all.  A half-starved giraffe of a model would never be able to wear the preschool look with the joie de vivre it requires.   

Man, I’m going to miss preschool.





Friday, February 14, 2014

Love To All You Crafty Fools

Let me start this post off by saying that I love all you crafty people out there.  I do.  Sometimes I even take a big hit off the Pinterest crack pipe and join you all in your colorful, neatly organized, glitter-embossed ranks.  However, yesterday I had to swallow a big helping of mommy guilt because I sent Roo to preschool with a sandwich baggie stuffed with target-bought cards.  No candy.  No custom photos.  No gift bags.  Just her little signature and a sticker stuffed inside each card.

Now, despite my actions in the last post, I am no rookie.  I knew what I was up against.  I expected that there would be a lot of hand-crafted amazingness passed out amongst her peers- and I was right.  Preschool parents really get into Valentine's day.  I get it.  It's the first time they get to re-experience the Valentine's Class party that they remember so fondly from their youth. I considered joining the bandwagon and doing something crafty and cute for Roo as well.  But I didn't because when I feel like I have to do something crafty as opposed to wanting to do something crafty, it makes me cranky- and cranky and preschool Valentines shouldn't mix.

So I dropped Roo off and I watched her carefully.  She definitely noticed the difference between her little bag and the finery her friends had brought.  I left feeling guilty and like a slacker mom (momentarily forgetting that I am totally a slacker mom.  I guess I have to own it.).

Then I made myself feel better by remembering this haiku I wrote four years ago on a blog post when J was in preschool, before Pinterest was all the rage.  I'll share it with all you other slacker parents who need to alleviate any guilt you may be feeling.  It goes like this:

She brings homemade cards
Wove from specialty paper.
5 o' clock is far away.

You can read the whole post here.  It's filled with all kinds of mean limericks and poems making fun of crafty parents.  Reading it now, I realize I've come a long way in the insecurity department.  You Pinterest people can go ahead and get down with your glittery selves, because once I got over the initial guilt, it was all okay (like I knew I would be).  Roo had a great time at the party and doesn't seem to be emotionally scarred.  And preschool parents, look at you, you crafty fools! The cute crafts and cards are absolutely stunning!  Bravo to you!  Very inspirational.  Maybe next year I'll take a forced-perception pic of Roo holding a lollipop in front of a cute backdrop.  

But probably not. 

Anyway.  Happy Valentines Day.   Enjoy celebrating love with your loved ones.  Here's an old post celebrating my Valentine.  If he was Pinterest, I'd re-pin him all day long. 

(I'm not too sure what that means, but it's all I got to end this post.  It's probably best if you don't read into it.) 


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Running With the (Little) Devils

I made a stupid parenting mistake tonight.  I'd like to tell you all about it so that you all can laugh at me and feel better about yourselves.  (What?  You don't do that? I thought that's what we all did. No?)

Anyway.

While Matt was gone this past weekend with the older kids, I took Roo to the park with me to ride her bike while I ran laps.  It worked great.  I ran, she rode. I got my workout in, she tired herself out. I watched Breaking Bad, she went to bed early.  Everything was peachy.

So, tonight, Matt left to watch a colleague receive an award and I was stuck home with the kids thinking about how I wanted to get a run in.  I admit, I could've just made my life simple and asked the teenager to watch them while I left for 40 minutes.  But, no.  My brain is apparently not doing smart today.  Instead, I thought to myself, "Why not take all the littles? Should be easy enough."  So I loaded two bikes into the back of the van (PG decided to run with me), and took off to the park.

(In case there is anyone reading who still is wondering where my mistake lies, let me spell it out for you: what is easy with one child is rarely easy with three.  I should have known that.  I had no business going around acting like an optimistic rookie parent when we all know that I'm more like a weathered old veteran.)

Here's what happened at the park: J took off within 5 minutes of us starting, despite my warning that he needed to stay within eye sight.  Roo ran her bike into a parked car's fender with the owners sitting inside and scratched it up.  I had to exchange insurance information, but couldn't run back to my car without first finding J.  So, I found J and read him the riot act, which didn't seem to have much effect on him, but I'm pretty sure I scared the pants off the man jogging behind me.  Then, I had to drag all 3 kids back to the car so that I could rummage, in the dark, through the glove compartment to find my insurance.  And J, who was all sulky because I had gotten angry at him, declared that he didn't want to ride his bike anymore, so I wrestled his bike back into the van before heading back over to exchange insurance information with the nice lady who owned the car that Roo scratched up.

That complete, we all set out again (WHY didn't I just go home then, I don't know.  Like I said, my brain is not doing smart today.)  I believe it was when we were jogging past the skatepark, that a date beetle made it it's business to fly directly into my head.  And that, my friends, is where I had the pleasure of freaking out and furiously slapping at my hair in front of a bunch of adolescent bikers and skaters.

That was the first lap.

Luckily, laps two and three were relatively uneventful (save for J jumping off some bleachers and scraping his elbow) and I was able to pass the time mentally composing this post without having to yell at anyone, soothe anyone, extricate bugs out of my hair, or take care of legal matters.

That felt like success.  So we did what all healthy families who exercise together do: we went out and got dessert.  Cheesecake, to be precise.  I'm stuffing my face with it right now.  Go ahead.  Try to make me feel bad about it.

I dare you.

(That's what it's going to take for me to run with the kids again.)









Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Why I Love Weird

Are you guys familiar with that show Adventure Time? It's on Cartoon Network.  The other day while I was driving, PG mentioned from the back seat that there is a boy in her class who bugs her, and so she quoted Adventure Time and told him he was "whack with poo-brain".   Now I know that as a parent I shouldn't encourage my child to insult other children..... but the truth is that when she told me what she said, I got totally jealous.  I've been dying to use that quote on someone.  Also, this kid sounded like he really deserved it.  So good for her.

Anyway, this show is about these two best buds- a human named Finn and a talking dog named Jake-who roam a post-apocalyptic land and have adventures.  There's all these crazy characters that they run into all the time: a tiny robot named B-MO who sounds like a submissive Asian woman, an evil Ice King who's more lonely than evil, a Princess made from bubblegum, and (my favorite) the Lumpy Space Princess who looks like a cloud, sounds like a man, and acts like a hysterical teenager.

This show is right up my alley with it's weirdness.  I absolutely love it.  However, as much as I love it and could quote from it all day long, I never recommend it to my friends.  One reason is that it's not really a cartoon for young kids.  It's humor is aimed more at the middle-school crowd.  However, the second reason I don't talk about it with my friends is because it's so off-beat. Experience has taught me that some people really don't like off-beat things because they're weird.  For a lot of people, weird means bad.  It means scary.  Sometimes, people even think it means evil.  People are afraid of weird.  And that's what I want to talk to you about today.  I want to tell you why I love weird so much.

At our house, we encourage weirdness.  I bristle when people judge something as being weird, and I push hard back against it.  I'll take it personally, even when it's not personal.  You could say that I am weird's own little personal advocate, and I'll stand here with my freak flag and stand up for it every single day for the rest of my life.  I'm passionate about it, and I think with good reason.  Here it is:

One of the things I heard a lot growing up is be yourself.  You are unique. Celebrate your uniqueness.  There's only one you, and you are special! If my mom or dad weren't saying it, then Mr. Rogers or Sesame Street were.  I believed them.  We all believed things adults told us. I went to school, and I went through my day, and I would be me: weird, day-dreamy, spacey me, who, instead of walking place from place to place, would spin like a ballerina;  who was always slow with her wits, but who would write stories for her friends starring them and their crushes.  I was shy and I was awkward, but sometimes, without even trying to be funny, I could make people laugh.

That's what I was like.
But then the message started to get a little confusing. While I was still hearing that I should be me, what I was noticing was that all the kids who were fitting in and making connections and being "successful" were all kind of acting the same way.   I noticed that people seemed to like them more than they liked me because they were wearing the right clothes.  Or they were laughing at the same jokes.  Or they were all talking the same way.  Or dancing the same way.  Or listening to the same music, and so on and so forth into infiniti.  So then I started looking at the adults for confirmation that what they told me initially was true- that I was special; except now I noticed that even the adults really seemed to like these kids too.  These kids were (at least on the outside) pretty and smart and confident and athletic.  Being quiet and dorky and weird didn't get me much affirmation from the adult world while I was growing up.

When I was in high school, there were countless times when my friends would look at me, shake their heads, and say "You are so weird."  And I'd either laugh or I'd apologize, but in my head I'd think "I'm not really weird.  I'm just not good enough at being normal.  I need to try harder."  So I'd try harder.  And do you know that trying to be "normal" took me off my own path more than it helped me?  Trying to be "normal" instead of being myself caused me numerous moments of shame, confusion, stupidity, and physical harm.  I thought that being weird was stopping me from knowing my true self and I wasted so. much. time. thinking that "normal" was the open road to happiness, when in fact, it was nothing but a roadblock.


Whatever.  That's the process of growing up.  We all went through that, to some degree or another.  My kids will go through it and your kids will go through it, and it'll be rough to watch at times.  But that's part of what makes me so passionate about this: we all grow up and realize that there is no normal. So many people waste time trying to emulate an illusion in lieu of being themselves because they're afraid of not fitting in.  (And who can blame them?  Being different in this world is not for the weak of heart).  

When people say that they don't like something because it's weird, what I really hear is that they are afraid.  They're afraid of not connecting or being isolated.  And while I know that it's normal for my kids to worry about fitting in, I never want them to be afraid of weird when it means "different" because from there, it's not such a long leap to ignorant, and we all know that ignorance circles back to fear.My experience with people who lead fear-filled lives is that they tend to label people and ideas-too dangerous, too weird, too scary- in an attempt to control. Their fear allows them only a shallow and stagnant piece of the human experience. Not how I want to live, not how I want my kids to live.

So that's why I seek out weirdness- weird art, weird movies, weird books, weird people.  I don't always like it all, but I want to give it a chance when others have labelled it.  I want to let it breathe and reveal itself. I'll sit with it for a while even though sometimes it's uncomfortable or awkward.  I don't let myself be afraid of it, because when I think of the insecure weird little girl that I was, I was nothing to be afraid of.  I was awesome, and it makes me sad that I didn't know it for a long time.  

I guess you could say that I was a little whack with poo-brain.  


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Farting Unicorn Love Note

Yesterday, Roo came home from preschool with an awesome picture that she presented to me.  The picture itself was spectacular.  The thinking behind the picture was beautifully creative. I immediately wanted to share it with the world.  Matt wanted to share it with the world too.  We had a conversation about the picture that went like this:

Matt: I'm putting this on Facebook.
Me: NO! I was going to put it on the blog.  If you put it on Facebook, our mutual friends will see it and that'll ruin my blog post.
Matt: Instagram, then? I'll put it up on Instagram.
Me: Okay, you get Instagram and I get the blog.  No Facebook. Deal.

It crossed my mind that there was something wrong with that conversation, but then I pushed the thought aside because OH MY WORD, GUYS!  LOOK AT THIS:

Roo drew us a picture of a farting unicorn battling a cyclops. Those are her words. That's how she explained it. And then she wrote "I heart You" across the top in the clouds. Now, I can understand why you all may not be impressed, but I have to tell you- the fact that one of my kids drew a mythical creature fighting another mythical creature, and then made one of those mythical creatures gassy, and then said to themselves "Hmmmm, this picture adequately expresses my love for my parents! I think I'll let them know it!" and then proudly presents that picture to us at home, well..... it tickles me to the core. It gives me butterflies. I'm not even being sarcastic. I can honestly say that Roo's farting unicorn warms my heart.

Farting unicorns warm my heart, and I'm sharing it with the world.

I realize this may be an "obnoxious parent-moment".  Thanks for being a part of it. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Before and After




Dear Gracie Kay,

     Tomorrow you will turn ten years old.  This astonishes me.  Earlier in the year, your grandfather (my dad) left a comment on this blog jokingly requesting that I not discuss the fact that I'll be turning 40 this year.  He said he was afraid that the realization may give him a heart attack.  At first I thought he was being over reactive but the fact is, your tenth birthday gives me a little of his perspective...... if the next three decades of your life go as fast as this first one did, the idea of your fortieth birthday may very well give me a heart attack too.
     Now, it's not that I'm purposefully turning your birthday around so that it's all about me (except I've heard that I happen to be good at doing such things), but I can't help but reflect on how a decade of motherhood has changed me.  It's been ten years now that I've been living my favorite quote; the exquisite terror of seeing my heart walking around in another being(that's you).  It's been ten years of unexpected moments of joy, moments of pride, and moments of inadequacy.  It's also been ten years of wonder, ten years of guilt, ten years of self-doubt, and ten years of reflection.  Ten years of watching you grow, and ten years of feeling myself grow and stretch into the uniform of motherhood- the most  unconventional uniform in the history of the world and one that's made of time's softest, most well-worn fabric.  
    I don't think I've ever told you how much I love the company of the women who wear this uniform.    You wouldn't understand it anyway.  You'd probably roll your tweeny eyes at me and give me a look that says "Whatever, mom".  So I don't think I'll try, but I will hope that maybe someday you'll find out for yourself.  I will say that this community of mothers is the most diverse, wise and powerful company I've ever had the honor to be in.  There are so many stories to tell here.  And you know, PG, how obsessed your mother is with storytelling.  It occurred to me recently that mothers give birth to generations, and the generations give birth to the stories.  So, you see honey?  Of course, of course I love mothers.  Mothers and storytelling go hand in hand.  For me, it's a love that is meant to be.
     That said, here, Gracie Kay, is the story of your birth:
     Ten years ago tonight, I was in the hospital waiting for you.  It felt like I was anchored to the hospital room by miles and miles of tubing and wires; never before had I experienced such a thing.  I had a tube coming out of my arm for an IV, and another needle in another arm that was pumping me full of pitocin.  There was a huge elastic strap around my enormous belly monitoring your heart, and yet another wire somewhere that was monitoring my heart.  I was too excited to sleep, and even though I knew that this was it- my last chance to get a full night's rest- I spent the entire night wide awake in that weirdly glowing room listening to our heartbeats beat out their rhythms on the monitor beside my bed.
     The next day, your birthday, was so strange.  It felt very, very long.  I remember feeling irritated at your dad for eating a hamburger in front of me when I hadn't been able to eat for the past 14 hours (Feel free to give him a hard time about that.  I figure I still got at least another ten years of mileage on that one).  I remember wanting to cry, people-pleaser that I am, when the doctor said "Push, Tacy. You really have to push." in a tone that suggested I hadn't been trying to do exactly just that for an entire two hours.  I remember being scared when the doctor told your dad to put away his camera and the room suddenly filled up with doctors and nurses.  You were in some kind of danger and to this day, I still don't know what that was about.  In the end, everything obviously worked out.  I'll spare you the (truly) gory details.  You're welcome.
      But Gracie, do you know that I was such a silly person, that I actually thought labor was going to be a little bit magical? In my defense, movies, books, and even childbirth classes do sort-of give that impression.  There's always the music, the built up excitement, the close up shot of the newborn, the mother's ecstatic reaction..... I went through my entire labor subconsciously looking for that kind of magic, but the truth is there was only work and frustration and exhaustion with a little bit of hopelessness mixed in. I wish now that I had realized that that was what motherhood was going to be.  Because when it was all over and I would retell the story of my labor to myself, (Isn't it weird that I was compelled to do that? It must have been my way of processing it.) I realized that the magic I was looking for was in all that work.  All those events came together and they didn't feel magical at all.  They felt gritty and too bright and weird and strange... but in the end they all added up to the line that divides the before and after.  Before, I wasn't a mom.  Then they put you in my arms, and suddenly, I was.  And in that, my sweet girl, and in all the beautiful things that came when you joined our universe, is magic enough to make my breath catch, to make my heart swell, and for tears to swim in my eyes.
     You are magic.
      You are.
      You.

Happy Tenth Birthday, Gracie.   I love you so much.  Thank you for making me a mom.