Monday, December 1, 2014

The road to hell is paved with guilt and YouTube videos

After careful examination I have determined that 63% of my parenting is motivated by guilt. I feel guilty about that. I have also discovered, though, that while guilt isn't the healthiest of inspirations, it can sometimes lead me to a positive place.  For example...

"Ugh, I feel so guilty for feeding my kids donuts and hot chocolate for breakfast. I'm going to make them a chicken salad and fresh fruit for lunch."

See? Less than stellar parenting leads to guilt which leads to positive decisions making!

Here's another example....

"Man I feel guilty about letting my kids watch 4 hours of television today. We are going to spend the rest of the afternoon riding bikes and playing soccer at the park."

Again, iffy parenting initiates guilty feelings which in turn inspires wise choices.

Sadly, guilt-induced parenting does not always have positive outcomes.  

Let me tell you the story of a guilt-driven trip to craft store with 2 kids on Black Friday. The end result being this clusterf%*k of craftery...

What the ever loving hell are those, you ask?
Read on, my friends, read on...

It all began on Thanksgiving night.  Sweet sweet Nate informed me he couldn't play any fun apps because his iTouch4 was too old.  

Sad, sad iTouch4

I felt guilty about his lackluster iTouch. So I lent him my iPad for the evening and bought a few fun apps to make him happy and relieve my guilt.  They were not educational apps. That made me feel guilty.

2 hours later he enthusiastically returned, eager to share this brilliant find:

Nate: Isn't this awesome, Mom? Can we make these tomorrow?
Me: Uh, those look pretty complicated, buddy.  I don't think we can make them.
Nate: Oh, OK. I guess I'll just watch the video over and over. 
*exits room sulking & dejected*

By the time Black Friday dawns, guilt had been boiling in my veins for approximately 13 hours and I just couldn't take it any longer.  I was determined to be a FUN MOM who CRAFTS and is not afraid to FLY BY THE SEAT OF HER PANTS and tackle some cake pops. Truly, how hard can it be, right?

So to the craft store we go!! This should be easy- Me, 2 kids and eleventy-thousand other people shopping on Black Friday. What could go wrong? After searching for 30 minutes because the store has been completely rearranged for Christmas crafting, I gathered the necessary items, it was now time to stand in line to purchase our Cake Pop materials. 

Have you ever stood in line with 2 children at a craft store on Black Friday? It's not pleasant, I assure you.  Fortunately after 21 minutes and countless "This line is so slow" and "These bags of melting chocolate are so heavy" we finally made it to the register to pay for our loot only to discover... I forgot my freaking wallet at home!

Now some people would take this as a sign and abort the mission.  But not me! I am FUN SPONTANEOUS CRAFT MOM, remember? I will not give in! I have FUN and GUILT on my side, remember?

And so we left our items and my dignity at the register and ventured home to find my wallet with the hope of returning to make our cake pop purchases. For one brief moment in time, luck was on our side and the wallet was exactly where I remembered leaving it: next to my bed after having bought Nate a few new apps on my iPad because I felt guilty about his lack of app awesomeness the previous night.

A hop, skip and a jump later we were back in line with 53 other people at the craft store- without terribly heavy items such as lollipop sticks weighing us down, thank the good Lord! After ringing up the wrong bag of items someone else left behind the register, the correct items were finally purchased and we were on our way home for Cakepoppalooza!!

Not so fast, ladies and gentlemen.  We came upon this when we returned home...

What could this possibly be?
It's the remnants of an 11x17 stone wear pan
that was once full of homemade mac & cheese.

I'll give you one guess who was broke the pan and ate the mac & cheese...

I may be going out on a limb here, but I'm willing to bet you guessed correctly.

So let's recap, shall we? Guilt over crappy app choices. Guilt over not wanting to be FUN MOM who follows YouTube videos and makes Cake Pops. Trip to craft store on Black Friday with 2 kids in tow.  Forgot wallet.  Return home to retrieve wallet.  Return to craft store on Black Friday with same 2 kids in tow.  Wait in giant line. Twice. Purchase items. Return home to find mac & cheese apocalypse.  

Still haven't started making freaking cake pops.

I will use pictures to share the events of the next 24 hours- Yes, you read that correctly... 24 freaking hours!

Cake Balls were made.

Ask me how many "balls" jokes were made.  Go ahead, ask me.
Enough to make me yell, "If someone else makes a joke about balls were are DONE!"

Cake Pop Template and Supplies were gathered

Directions were meticulously followed

Wellllll.... maybe not "meticulously"
WTF is this?

Balls were refrigerated (giggle snort), melting chocolates were melted, cake balls were dipped, cake balls fell apart, cake balls were re-refrigerated, cake balls were re-dipped, and 4 hours later we had this... Voila!

Yup, just this.
One. Stinking.  Monster. Cake Pop.
And now it's time for bed.

Day 2 begins...

Lollipop sticks- check
Melting chocolates- check
Vodka & Jameson- Check
Let's make some freaking Cake Pops!!

Stupid freaking melting chocolate!!
It's too thick & every time I try to dip the
stupid freaking cake pop, it crumbles
in the stupid freaking melting chocolate!!
Solution: Add shortening or oil-
I googled it, apparently thick chocolate is a "thing."

Day 2, hour 2
Where'd everybody go?

So it might not look exactly like the YouTube video but it's close enough, right?

NOW they want to help... Day 2, hour 4

Luckily, all the tears, frustration, bad words and alcohol paid off.  

Behold the "Dumb Ways to Die" Cake Pops...

Aren't they amazing!? Don't they look just like the originals?
It was so worth all my effort.
I can't wait to start our next craft!

Just kidding..... THIS is what 1 YouTube video, 2 trips to the craft store on Black Friday, 1 ruined 11x17 pan of homemade mac & cheese, 24+ hours of your life that you will never ever get back and heaping amounts of GUILT will get ya...

17 horrific looking monster cake pops that you will be too embarrassed 
to serve anyone other than your children. 
Minus the guilt, of course.

Some days guilt motivates you to do good things.
Today was not one of those days.
That's just my normal.

P.S. Those of you following me on Facebook (and for those of you who are not: Get with the program, people!) I shared a little secret last week.... I've invested some money in ye 'ol blog.  So be ready for some really exciting changes coming sooooon... 

Monday, November 17, 2014

5 Signs The Holiday Season is Upon Us

I think it's safe to say that, although we have yet to celebrate an actual holiday, we are knee-deep in The Holiday Season.

If you've missed the signs, here's a recap:

1. Costco is selling a 10 foot stuffed bear and strategically placed it at the entrance of the store so my children can start asking for it from the moment we grab a cart to the moment we've had our receipt tattooed with a happy face.

By the way, I'm only 50"
51" on a good day

2. Every 7 seconds there's a commercial for some sort of pet: Pillow Pet, Tummy Pet, Petjamas, Stretchy Pet, Slipper Pet, Seat Pet and my favorite My Kids Can't Ever Remember to Feed our Pet.

Thanks to  Nate's "generous donation" to the Give Away pile,
we have plenty of room for a Whatever Pet

3. The Stupid Elf on a Freaking Shelf has started making an appearance in our Newsfeed with increasing frequency. I have to admit, though, it seems as though the 'ol EotS is walking a fine line these days... Elves today!

4. The Red Cup.
Holiday cup + 80 degree weather + the beach =  San Diego Holiday Season

Last , but certainly not least...

5. Scary Mommy's Guide to Surviving The Holidays is finally here!!! Today is the official Book Release for the new hysterical holiday survival guide. THANK YOU to those of you who pre-ordered the book. Because of YOUR purchase and the generous donations of others we raised $114,516 and were able to give provide a gift card toward a Thanksgiving meal for 2,152 families!!

We all know it's shoppingwrappingcookingbakingfamilykidshomefortwoweeks time.  
Things are about to get hairy- and I don't just mean your schedule!

So sit back and enjoy The Holiday Season with good friends, good food and some GREAT laughs.  
Buy your book today for only $2.99 

Be sure to head over to Amazon and leave a review when you're done!!

The holidays are coming... I will survive!
That's just my normal.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

All you need is love... sort of

I know she just wanted to help.  I'm sure she could tell by my posture- back ramrod straight, shoulders drawn up so high they could be worn as earrings and the wicked bitch brow I was sporting- that we were most certainly not exchanging "I love you's" in the grocery store parking lot.

From the corner of my eye, I saw her approaching. With a knowing smile and patient eyes she headed my way.  Moments ago I was tense and ticked off. In the seconds it took this well-meaning woman to put her shopping cart away and cross the parking lot to where I stood, I hit Defcon 1. I knew exactly what she was going to say before a single word passed her lips.

"Oh honey. The time goes so fast.  One day you'll long for them to tag along to the grocery store."

Next came the grandmotherly squeeze to my forearm and unintentionally patronizing smile.  And let's not forget the wink tossed in my son's direction.

I know her intentions were kind. She'd probably been there a hundred times in her lifetime.  She empathized with my situation and was simply trying to offer me some perspective, a gentle reminder that this won't last forever.

But at that moment I didn't want any help. I didn't need to be reminded that while the days drag, the years fly. I didn't need to be told that one day I will long for the tasks that once seemed so difficult and exhausting. At that moment, in that parking lot I couldn't think of anything more glorious than the idea of running to the grocery store without either of my kids.

I'm aware that one day I will look around and find little evidence of my children around my house. I'm recognize that distance will give me perspective and that perspective will show me that so many of the things I obsessed over were truly inconsequential.  I have no doubt I will regret many things I've done and said and I pray my children will have the grace to forgive me and understand I did the best I could.

But the simple truth is this: I can not miss my children if they never leave my home because they are unable to function in the world and take care of themselves.  And so while they are with me I will teach the million life lessons they will need... and they won't all be taught with soft words and smiles.

The stern talking to in a parking lot, the consequences leaving a child bereft without his or her coveted-technology obsession of the day, the scream your head off, drop a bad word, snot wiping arguments are also facets love- just like calm discussions, important lectures and soft words.

Every mom is trying to find the delicate balance between grace and accountability.

"When you look back you won't remember how messy the house was or the laundry sitting unfolded in the basket." That might be so.  However, when my son arrives an an interview you better believe his hair will be combed, he will have applied deodorant and he'll be wearing a clean shirt and matching socks.  You know why? Because I endured all the arguments, reminders, lectures and nagging it took to teach him about appropriate dress and the importance of good hygiene. I fought the fights worth fighting to teach him the skills he needed to survive and thrive in the world outside my home.

Love is at the heart of everything I do and say. Even words laced in anger or frustration are rooted in love.  It is love that gives me the strength to do the hard messy work. Love is what drives me to remind them to put their things away, brush their teeth, say please and thank you, show gratitude, eat right, do their homework right the first time.  And it's love that gives me what it takes to remind them all of those things again a few minutes later, and the next day and the following month and all the years they live in my home. Because if there was no love, I wouldn't care what they do or how they act. I wouldn't bother.

What my son needed that Saturday morning in the grocery store parking lot was a reminder that disrespect is not tolerated in our family and  that huffing and puffing are not acceptable reactions when Mom says "no." He needed a lesson in contentment because he will not get everything his heart desires- even if it's only a bag of chips. He needed to be taught that poor behavior has consequences- whether it's the loss of a toy or a ticked off mom. My son needed to learn, in our tiny sliver of the great big world that he will one day need to navigate, that there are expectations of his behavior, his attitude and his words.

What better place to learn those things that in our family- his first experience with community, where every lesson is to hep him, every apology is accepted and every ounce of grace will be given unconditionally?

Who better to teach him those lessons than his mother who gives him endless do-overs and second chances? A mother whose  toughest lessons are rooted in a love so great and so mighty that she will spend her days repeating herself and enduring her child's anger and her nights on her knees praying for patience, strength and discernment, hoping she has done the right things and said the right things? This mother who is rigid and angry in the parking lot loves you so much she will spend her life trying her best and knowing she will fail often while holding on to the hope that, when it is all said and done and you are out there in the world, you will finally understand what love looks like- beyond hugs and kisses and laughs.

Love is as the heart of all I do for my kids- the good, the bad and the messy.  And though I will miss them when one day they are not beside me in the grocery store or there are no shoes to step over or backpacks to pick up, my hope is that they are out there in the world loving someone else enough to do the hard stuff, fight the fights worth fighting and have difficult conversations in grocery store parking lots.

Love isn't all hugs and kisses. Sometimes it's a showdown in a parking lot.
That's just my normal.

Update: 5 a.m. We have raised $48,814 for the Scary Mommy Thanksgiving Project.  976 families will have a Thanksgiving meal thanks to your generosity.  You still have plenty of time to donate! Better yet... Pre Order your copy of Scary Mommy's Guide to Surviving the Holidays and proceeds will go to the Thanksgiving Project.  You get a laugh, they get a meal.  It's a win-win!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

This is pee-worthy

I have been forty for 19 days.

In that time...

I organized my home and kids so The Hubs and I (and Flat Stanley) could leave town for an entire week...

 7 backpacks just to organize the boys' school and sports paraphernalia 

Meanwhile I pack my shit like an efficient boss!

I spent 6 nights and 6 days having the best vacation of my entire life in Scotland...

This is not a postcard.
It's an actual picture of an actual bridge that is actually this picturesque.

Couldn't tell you where exactly this was taken because
every single picture from the trip is this beautiful!

Flat Stanley had a great time too but that boy can not hold his liquor.

I received my first check for something I wrote.

$40, baby! That's 13 Venti Americanos!!

And I celebrated one of my favorite friend's 40th birthday with a weekend getaway.

Scrolling through my pictures I found a sombrero, a rubber chicken, lots of red solo cups and a jacuzzi. 
In order to protect the reputation of the rubber chicken 
(and avoid the disappointment of my mother) 
I will not be including any of those photos here.  

And while those trips and money are amazing, they were not pee-worthy.  They were definitely jump-up-and-down worthy.  Perhaps even a squeal-or-two worthy. And I know one of them was smexy-time worthy.

But pee-worthy is reserved for things so fantabulous that I not only jump up and down and squeal and pretty much cry like a baby and then I pee over. That amazing pee-worthy thing has happened...

I was recently informed by Jill Smokler of Scary Mommy- Yes, THE Scary Mommy- that I was selected to be included in her soon to be released book Scary Mommy's Guide to Surviving the Holidays.

Let's pretend you live under a rock and sadly have no knowledge of Jill Smokler or Scary Mommy. Here's a few hints:

For those of you in the low math group like I was... 
The "k" stands for thousand.  
She has 710 THOUSAND followers on her Facebook page.

She has published not one but TWO books and one was a New York Times Bestseller

She's appeared on The Today Show, Good Morning America, Nightline, Bethenny, and Fox and Friends. Toss in her Twitter audience and she has over a million social media followers; while her website averages 30 million page-views a month!

Most importantly, her audience is more than virtual:

   "Scary Mommy Nation, a registered 501(c)3 non-profit, helps members of the Scary Mommy Community who face the truly scary: An inability to feed their families. Born from an impromptu Thanksgiving fundraiser in 2011, Scary Mommy Nation raised over $160,000 in a matter of weeks last year to supply over 3,000 struggling families with a holiday dinner they otherwise would have gone without."

And on November 17, 2014 this wonderful mother and talented writer will release her third book from Simon and Schuster. And I get to be a part of it!

Scary Mommy's Guide to Surviving the Holidays is a hysterical collection of relatable, hilarious essays on everything from the Santa myth to being seated at the dreaded kids' table, to easy-to-follow recipes that might include just a little something special to take the edge off (can anyone say Kahlua?), to fun and accessible gift ideas. This book is your ticket to peace of mind- and a laugh- during the busy, crazy holiday season. And a portion of each book sold will go to Scary Mommy Nation's Thanksgiving Project.

It goes without saying that I am honored and humbled (and shocked to the point of losing control of my bladder) to have something I wrote included in this book. Please take a moment to check it out and meet the extremely talented group of female contributors.

While you're there, why not order your copy so you can laugh your way through the holiday season. And maybe even pee a little.

So far 40 is pretty freaking fantastic!
That's just my normal.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

10 Things I will have absolutely no trouble doing while traveling to Scotland

According to my children, I have no business traveling. Luke feels my definition of a "fun time in Scotland" is found lacking. According to Nate, I have no business going to Scotland because I "don't speak Scotland."

*setting* The kitchen table Tuesday morning...

Luke: Mom, what are you most excited about doing on your trip?
Me: The plane ride.
Luke: Well that's sad. You're going to hurt Dad's feelings.
Me: Why? He'll be sitting next to me.
Luke: Well, is there anything not lame or boring that you're excited about?
Me: I'd like to see a movie while we're there.
Nate: A movie? You don't even speak Scotland! 

Well, darling sons of mine... I may not meet to your "fun vacation" standards and my "Scotland" is quite rusty, but that sure as heck isn't stopping me from going there TODAY! 

And while I might have a bit of trouble understanding the locals at times, let me tell you 

10 Things I will Have Absolutely No Trouble Doing 
While Your Dad & I Are in Scotland

1. Sleeping in

2. Sleeping naked

3. Sampling whiskey

4. Wearing real clothes. Not yoga pants.  Not my running shoes.  No jog bra. 
We're talking actual clothing purchased somewhere other than the Active Wear department, intentionally put together in order to form what some might call "an outfit."

5. Feeding no one other than myself- what I want, when I want

6. Sampling whiskey (Did I mention that one already?)

7. Doing absolutely nothing for 11 blissful hours, armed with some snacks, a few books and some good music.

8. Abstaining from all school projects, carpools & lunch making, as well as football, water polo and soccer practice

9. Allowing Grandma and Grandpa the privilege of repeatedly asking 2 small human beings to brush their teeth 

10. Picking up after no one other than myself

I will certainly miss you, my sweet boys.  I love you truly madly deeply and I am blessed to be your mama.  

But for the next 7 days I will be a wife, a woman, an explorer of foreign lands, a rider of public transportation, a sampler of new and exciting foods, a silly tourist taking excessive pictures, extremely well rested, even more in love with your father and (God willing) a bit tipsy from my whiskey tours.

For those of you who will have some trouble while my husband & I are in Scotland (Don't be embarrassed) you can check out the shenanigans that are sure to ensue when a husband and wife attempt to navigate a foreign country, by going to the blog's Facebook page: ThePursuitOfNormal

Of course most of you already follow me there, right? Right? Well where the hell have you been? 
You think I'm brilliant here? You should see the intellectual gymnastics I perform over there!

I'm about to spend 6 nights and 7 days without my kids.
That's NOT my normal.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

This is 16 + 24 - 19 hours

In 19 hours I'll be 40. Four-ty. The big 4-0.

I'm pretty sure the school secretary and nurse were in their 40's. Maybe they were 60.
I couldn't tell. I was 8.

I remember when my mom turned 40.  We threw her a surprise party.  She came downstairs early... in her bathrobe. I was 11.

The parents of the first middle school class I ever taught were 40. They asked me for parenting advice.  I was 25, married for 2 years and owned a dog who was poorly trained.

I used to think 40 was old.  I thought it was high-waisted jeans and short hair. I expected it to be complaining about loud music and the way kids dres these days. I thought I'd say "When I was younger..." a lot. I assumed it was the winding down of drinking and definitely the end of sex. I was pretty sure I'd lose my sense of humor but gain a lot of wisdom.

I was wrong on almost all accounts because in 19 hours I'll be 40 and I can rock a pair of skinny jeans with high boots and even a few pair that rise a bit lower than my mother would consider acceptable.  I have long hair and no intention of cutting it. The loud music pouring from the car next to you at the red light? That's me. I apologize for my lame dance moves.  And though I certainly think kids today could stand to put a little more on while pulling some other things up, I look at a lot of them and wish I had been so bold and creative "when I was younger." Turns out I was spot on about my usage of that phrase.  Oddly enough my alcohol intake appears to increase in correlation to my sons' ages... Peculiar.  And sex... SO. NOT. OVER. As for a sense of humor... I may still be 39, but I think I'm funny as hell and I doubt that will change in the next 19 hours.

At 19-hours-shy-of-40 I don't know if I'd say I'm wiser, but I've definitely learned a few things. I've discovered the 3 things that keep my marriage working. I have tackled a lot of parenting challenges. But more importantly, I feel confident in my ability to handle the ones I know are coming down the road. I'm more patient. I hope I'm more kind. And I strive to be more loving. I'm a bit more comfortable in my own skin and a teeny bit more accepting of the lumps and bumps on that skin. I've learned a lot about perspective- mine and others.

40 minus 19 hours and I'm happy, settled, blessed.  I have a wonderful, loving, imperfect husband. 2 hysterical, unique, brilliant, imperfect children. A giant, slobbery, imperfect dog.  Being the imperfect wife and mother I am, this motley crew is exactly what I need.  I had the career I wanted and fell into a new one I love even more. I found my words and better yet, my voice. I've shared those words in some pretty important places and even had a few of them put in some books. But I don't think I'll ever stopped being surprised by the knowledge that people read some of those words daily... on purpose!

So many seasons of my life are over- school, first fights, flutters in my belly.  The season I'm in now can be equal parts wildly exciting and utterly exhausting.  And the season ahead... Who knows?

But if the future is anything like the 18+22-19 hours I've lived so far, I won't complain one bit.

I've said it before and I'll say it again:
If I'm this fabulous at 40, just imagine how amazing I'll be at 40+10!
That's just my normal.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

To the parents of...

To the parents of...

"Vicky is an extremely articulate young lady.  We are impressed by her ability to express her thoughts and feelings."
Kindergarten- Mrs. Levi

"Vicky is very bright.  She completes her work on time and is eager to participate in class discussions and sharing.  However, it would be a good idea for her to work on controlling her talking when it is not discussion time." 
2nd Grade- Mrs. Higgins

"I appreciate Vicky's willingness to eagerly participate in class discussions.  However, it is important for her to learn when it is and is not time to be talking."
4th Grade- Mrs. S

"Vicky has been awarded 'Class Chatterbox' of this year's 5th grade class.  I'm sure this comes as no surprise to you."
5th Grade- Mrs. B

"Vicky received detention today for excessive talking during class."
7th Grade- Mr. R.

"Vicky is eager to participate in class discussions. She has great insight and I believe she would be a great asset to our Honor's US History class. Please remind her, however, that there are times when talking is not encouraged."
10th Grade- Mr. H

"Vicky has received Top Honors for her participation in our US Constitution Debate Team. Well done! but let's not forget that not all class time is meant to be 'talk time.'"
12th Grade- Mr. H

"Did you even hear what what I said? I feel like you don't listen to me?"
"Babe, you said like 10,000 words since I walked in the door. Which ones were I supposed to focus on?"
Marriage- The Hubs

The ability to express the tens of thousands of words that dance through my head has not always worked to my advantage.

But sometimes... Sometimes those words that can't be contained no matter how hard I try, mean something. They articulate someone else's experience in a way they couldn't.  They say the words they wouldn't. They soothe an aching heart.  They make a person laugh.  They help someone feel normal, understood.

Today is that day...

I am privileged to announce, from the Editors of  The HerStories Project...


Today I find myself among 36 amazing and brave female writers who share the power, love and loss of female friendship.

Today I have never been more grateful to have an unending supply of words... even though it landed me in detention more times than I can count.

On these pages, I hope you find your experience and the words that are often too hard to share.

Sometimes having too much of something is actually the perfect amount.
That's just my normal.