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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Great Pumpkin is trying to kill you, Charlie Brown






276 days until Summer Vacation
121 days until Christmas
93  days until Thanksgiving
84  days until Halloween
28  days until Fall


The leaves are beginning to turn. Memories of scarves and gloves float on the crisp night breeze. Winter boots and sweaters are lining the racks in every store.

 



OK, so maybe none of those things are happening here in San Diego, but we still know that fall is just around the corner because...

 



That's right, ladies and gentlemen, All Things Pumpkin has begun.  We have pumpkins to satisfy every one of the five senses. One can smell the sweet scent of pumpkin and spices in every home d├ęcor outlet and bathroom. I can feel the weight of that $40 Cinderella pumpkin taking its toll on my back and my bank account! Is that a crying child I hear? His big brother must have picked the pumpkin he planned to take home. Gracing the pages of the Pottery Barn catalog I see nothing but overly priced pumpkin decorations.

But nothing announces the arrival of Fall and All Things Pumpkin quite like the taste of the Pumpkin Spice Latte. (Known as PSL to the experts or #PSL to hipsters)

Sadly, the smell of the #PSL (I'm a hipster in case you didn't know) is all I can tolerate.  After the #PSL Incident of 2010 which involved a birthday PSL, a trip to Trader Joe's and a panicked stop in the bathroom of a local park as my digestive system expelled every  Grande ounce from its walls, I've learned to be content with just huffing the pumpkin-y goodness like it's glue. 

Much like the lighting of the tree in Rockefeller Center, the return of Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte is a symbol of the changing seasons and the onset of the holidays. Second only, of course, to the return of the Starbucks Red Holiday Cup... which truly makes it the most wonderful time of the year!

So imagine my horror when I stumbled upon this little diddy today...

Full article here

Now I'm no grammar expert, but I'm pretty certain quotation marks typicall imply sarcasm. Therefore, I read this post expecting some "pumpkin" mocking going on- perhaps even a little "pumpkin" shaming. Being the well-educated woman that I am, I investigated further.  (Translation: I skimmed the article)

I won't go into all the details because, well, there are a crapton of them.  But I'll break it down to the 4 basic points the author wants to make:

  1. Starbucks is acting kinda shady when it comes to revealing the ingredients in the #PSL
  2. There's some bad shit in the #PSL- things with long words, some abbreviations, and a Roman Numeral 4 (For those of you who want to save a little time Googling "Roman Numeral 4" it looks like this: IV)
  3. As hard as it is to believe, there is no pumpkin in the "pumpkin" spice latte
  4. If you drink a PSL, you'll grow a third nipple which is likely to sprout hair

I'd like to quickly touch on each of these points. I should state from the beginning though that I did zero research, unlike the author of the original article.  Clearly she is smarter than me and like 1,000 times better looking.  Seriously, this woman is the Food Babe for realz!

1. Starbucks is shady: Based on the assumption that all the Babe's quotes and alleged conversations with the "people" at HQ are legit (Yes, I intentionally used "people" because I was inserting sarcasm) I have to say I have mixed feelings about this.  Of course the Bux should share their ingredients because it's the right thing to do- and the law I though?  But do you blame them for holding back? You know what will happen if they do share them. Healthy people will freak out.  Starbucks will defend themselves.  People will freak out again.  Starbucks will compromise and make a new/healthier version of the PSL and it will take like absolute shit because no one wants chunks of pumpkin goop and bits of nutmeg floating around in their holiday drink!

2. Long names, abbreviations and the Roman Numeral IV are bad: Based on the Babe's research, there's a lot of not so awesome stuff in the PSL. However, like anything else in life... MODERATION! You like the #PSL? Cool, have a few during the season.  Heck, have one a week if it gets you through the Monday Blues or the Perpetual Tuesday. If you choose to have one every day, however, your hairy third nipple is going to be the least of your worries!! I can name at least IV other health-related problems you'll have if you consume that much latte. That's alotta latte, people.

3. The "Pumpkin" Spice Latte doesn't have any pumpkin?!?! Um, I'm going to go out on a limb here and "assume" (There's those pesky quotation marks again!) no one in their right mind is actually surprised that the pumpkin has secretly been replaced by the "pumpkin." Hopefully if someone was looking to actually ingest some pumpkin they would consume something other than a DRINK!

Duh!! It's in the freaking pumpkin patch, soup or muffin.

4.  Hairy Nipple Theory: I may watch 'Big Bang Theory' but I don't actually know much about science.  Shocking, I know. So it's probable my folicled-nipple theory might be inaccurate.  But you don't have to be Sheldon Cooper to realize consuming large amounts of chemicals on a regular basis isn't going to lead to anything good. 


All in all, I'd say Food Babe gave me a lot of food drink for thought.  All joking aside, we should be smart about what we put in our bodies.  They're the only bodies God gave us, so a measure of caution and thought should be given when making decisions about its well-being. That being said, God also gave us a brain. I don't think many people ordering a sugar-laced drink, topped with whipped sugar and sprinkled with granulated sugar is under the false illusion that this is a "healthy choice."  They just want a fun holiday drink that helps them feel a little more festive... even when it's 90 degrees.

I'd rather eat my pumpkin than drink my "pumpkin" 
That's just my normal.

 
 
*P.S.*
Did you notice the link in the upper right hand side of the page? 
You didn't? Oh, go look now.  Then click on it. Then pre-order the NEW BOOK!
Release day is September 15th!!!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Not so super, but still a hero


Have you ever looked around only to discover you are drowning in the chaos of your own making?

“Chaos” is the word I’d choose to describe every summer, Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter vacation.  Oh, and let’s not forget 3 day weekends.  Oops, can’t fail to mention those early dismissal days either. And how can I forget every day that ends in “y”? I guess it would have been easier to say, “I live in chaos all the time.” I think I have mastered the art of “controlled chaos” but we all know that’s just code for “a hot mess with a pretty package.”

For a long time, I convinced myself I was the victim of the madness.  My kids are high energy.  I work from home. We don’t have any kids on our street. Our street is too busy so the boys don’t like playing outside. I’m PTA president. I’m a Room Mom. I’m the Room Mom Chair. I write a blog. My husband works late. I have to exercise to stay healthy.

I can conjure up an endless list of reasons why this whirlwind of a life which, more often than not leaves me depleted, is not my fault.  The simple truth, however, is that my list of reasons is simply rational explanations for why I’m overwhelmed, angry, frustrated, exhausted and generally in a bad mood. And just so we’re all clear, I define “rational explanations” as “plausible excuses.”

And excuses they are. Because when I when look at my life, I see it is the result of a myriad of choices I make on a daily basis.  Of course there are some choices that really aren’t choices.  When I “choose” to feed my kids, I’m not really “choosing” to feed my kids.  I know that. You know that.  And we’re all pretty irritated by it. But I DO choose how to schedule my day- when I wake up, when I go to bed, when I eat.  I choose when to say yes and when to say no. I choose where I want to invest my time and my money. The end result of those choices might be chaotic, but it was my chaos born from my choices.  And I need to own that.

I decided this summer would be different.  After last summer, loving labeled “The Summer My Wife Cried More Than She Had in Our Entire Marriage”, I knew something had to change.  And in order for things to be different, I had to take a good long look at what wasn’t working and why. 

I find the biggest problem with self-discovery is the amount of self I discover. 

And what I discovered wasn’t so pretty.  The busyness of my life was the product of those choices I mentioned. I’d like to say those they stemmed from a desire to serve, a willingness to volunteer, a strong work ethic or the desire to be healthy.

But the honest to goodness, low down dirty truth is that my choices were fueled by the amount of things on my To Do list, meetings on my calendar, and the amount of “Wow, how do you do it all’s” I received.  I thrived on being Super Mom, Super Wife, Super School Volunteer.

The only thing fed by my chaotic Super life was my pride.

My family suffered.  My psyche was strained past its limit. My heart was continually heavy while my mind was never at peace. The do-do-do begot more do-do-do. It was never enough because pride is like an adolescent boy… It’s always hungry, never full.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over my almost-40 years, it’s that timing is everything. I believe in Divine Timing. Others believe life is simply Good Timing. Although it was good, it was nothing short of divine that the following post from The Hands Free Revolution showed up in my Facebook newsfeed on our very last day of school.

 “Exactly two years ago, I had an epiphany. I wanted summer to be different than it had in the past. I wanted to use that time wisely, doing things that mattered with the people who mattered most. As I was figuring out how to go about it, I discovered a powerful list based on 16 years of research that revealed what kids most loved their parents to do…" (read full post here)

iscovered a powerful list based on 16 years of research that revealed what kids most loved their parents to do. I took that inspiring list and paired it with some photos of what I hoped my “Hands Free Summer” was going to look like. But let me warn you, it’s not picture perfect. It’s not too organized. It’s not efficient or productive, but I can breathe, laugh, play, and feel joy—which are impossible to do when I am tethered to a device, constantly trying to pick up the mess, and stressing over details that won’t matter five years from now. As we head into the weekend, I invite you to read (or re-read) this post. Be reminded that it’s the little things we do as parents that mean the most. Be reminded that the things our children will remember are a lot easier to do than we are sometimes lead to believe. In fact, you may already be doing some of them. May a Hands Free summer begin this weekend! Thank you for walking beside me on this journeyAt that very moment I made a decision… Our summer would be different. I would not be Super anything this summer.  Vacation was going to be about Work and Family.  Everything else was sidelined. And I created my own Hands Free Summer Contract to make sure of it. I gave up working out for 2 months.  My floors had more dog hair than normal. And more than once I told my kids to grab a pair of shorts from their dirty clothes basket because I just couldn’t get to the laundry between beach trips and adventures with friends.

This summer I was not super… but I was my kids’ hero and that was more than enough.


 

My kids returned to school 2 days ago. Unfortunately Work and Family have to share the spotlight with a few others- Lunches, Homework, Football, Soccer, Chores & Permission Slips to name a few.  This doesn’t lessen the value of our Hands Free Summer. In fact, it’s because of my lack of Super that I am entering this new school year more relaxed, refreshed and renewed than ever.  Will life become chaotic again? You bet it will.  Will it become as chaotic as it’s been in the past? I sure as heck hope not and all that self-discovering better not have been for nothing!

My hope is that as the chaos starts to build and the madness begins to swirl all around me, I am able to step back and remember what matters. I will strive to remind myself that the only people I need to impress are the ones who will see me as their hero whether I have 2 things or 20 things on my To Do List, regardless of how many hours I volunteer or how brightly my floors shine.

I’m not so super but I’m still someone’s hero.
That’s just my normal.  

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Test: Are you a Seasoned Mom or a New Mom?


No one can deny there is a certain “Groundhog Day’esque” quality to a mom's day.  On one hand, we have the peace that comes from having structure and knowing that no matter how badly we screw up today, it will be OK because we will be doing it all over again tomorrow.  On the other hand, there’s the mind-numbing realization that you will, in fact, be doing it all over again tomorrow.
As our children age and we become more experienced moms the monotony ebbs a bit. The kids are able to pitch-in with daily meal making and emptying out those bottomless laundry baskets. I also have a better understanding of what they can and should do, making my expectations more reasonable. I no longer think twice about the things that threatened to sever the thin thread of sanity I clung to as a young mother. Of course, these things are replaced by equally if not more annoying things. However, as a mom with a few years of experience under her low-waist-jeans-cinching belt I feel more capable of handling these challenges.  

For example, I don’t get quite so angry when my youngest son leaves the front door open because I now understand it is less likely he is completely deaf and didn’t hear me tell him 267 times to close the door, and more likely because he is 8. Conversely, I now get angrier when my oldest says something unkind to his brother because at almost 11, he understand the power of his words.  That, my friends, is the product of years of mothering experience.

There are lots of ways to distinguish a Seasoned Mom from a New Mom. In fact, psychologists and sociologists should conduct a study to determine the experience level of a mother based on her answers to a few questions. I am certainly not a trained professional, but I think the test might look something like this…
 
Are you an Seasoned Mom or a New Mom?
Phase 1: Rorschach Ink Blot Test
Please state the first that comes to mind when you see the following images:
 
#1.
2 children fighting over the same toy neither of them
had any interest in 10 minutes ago.
 


#2.
Child who has not showered in God knows how many days.

 
 
 
#3.
2 weeks worth of laundry sitting in the basket waiting to be folded.
 



#4.
Science project on the Migration Patterns of Monarch Butterflies 
which took 13 hours to complete and only 30 seconds to leave on the kitchen table
the day it was due.
 
 
#5.
Beautiful, happy butterfly
 



#6.
Strawberry Margarita!

Conclusion: Answer #5 indicative of New Mom. All other answers evidence of Seasoned Mom.

 
Phase 2: Rank the following phrases from 1-10 based on frequency
(1 being most frequent, 10 being least frequent)

1.       Can I watch something?

2.       I’m hungry.

3.    Can I have a snack?

4.       Can I watch something?

5.       I can’t find my (fill in any item on the planet)

6.       He touched me.

7.       Can I watch something?

8.       Can I play my iTouch/iPad/DS/xbox/computer?

9.       What’s for dinner?

10.   I love you and want to hug you all day.

Conclusion: Ranking indicates Seasoned Mom

 

Phase 3: How would you respond to the following phrase: “Mom, watch!”

1.       Wow, that’s amazing!

2.       I’m so proud of how hard you worked!

3.       Be careful!

4.       I don’t feel comfortable with you doing that.

5.       Don’t kill yourselves, I don’t have time to take you to the emergency room today.

6.     How is this different from the other 27 times you did that?

7.       I have to watch, it’s the law.

8.       If I have tell you NOT to do that one more time you’re going to be sorry!

9.       Do it again so I can post it on Instagram, Facebook, Google+ and then Tweet it!

10. *non-committal sound* Hmmm…

Conclusion: Answers 1-4: Indicative of New Mom; Answers 5-10: Indicative of Seasoned Mom
Note: #9 indicates both New and Seasoned Mom as well as the sub-category : “Mom under the impression everyone will think her child is as amazing as she thinks he/she is.”

 

Final Results:  
Based on the data collected through the highly technical "Are you a Seasoned Mom or a New Mom" test we conclude that Seasoned Moms have an excellent sense of humor and it is this sense of humor which allowed the New Mom to remain sane so she could one day become a Seasoned Mom.

How did you score?
I'm definitely a Seasoned Mom.
That’s just my normal.
 
All Ink Blot photos from inkblotphotos.com
 

 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Men vs Women... Logic is in the eye of the beholder



It’s hard to admit this, but I don’t take criticism or correction well.  I tend to get a wee bit defensive when someone brings my faults to light. 

If I were the mature and composed woman I aspire to be, when someone addresses my faults my first thoughts would be something along the lines of, “Hmmm… This is not easy to hear but I trust and value this person so it’s best for my personal development that I listen to what they are saying and spend some time reflecting on their words.”

We can safely assume I am not a mature and composed woman. Consequently, this is what actually goes through my mind when someone offers up some constructive criticism, “YOU want to criticize ME? Well, you are a terrible listener, your car is always a mess and your new haircut is not cute at all!"

It's safe to  say “accepting criticism” is a “growth area” for me. Luckily, I have lots of people in my life willing to help.  And just last week a complete stranger lent a hand!

I was lucky enough to have my most popular post included on the fabulous site Mamalode last week. (How do I know it’s popular? Well, some editor in Romania copied and pasted it on her online magazine a few months ago.  You know you’ve written something really good when someone steals it and gives you 24 hours of fame in the 9th largest country in the European Union.)

Back to my helpful stranger-friend… I think we’ll call him “Dick.” Dick didn’t really like something I had to say in my Mamalode post. In fact, he was quite put-off by my picky potty positioning…
 
"I need the seat up you need it down do i ask you to put it up when you are done no so learn to work the seat it's not that hard. Just so you know i always close the lid to flush because it's gross not to. but stop whining."
 
Poor punctuation aside (Seriously, Dick. Have you heard of a period or a question mark, some capitals perhaps?) Dick has some valid points.  I decided it would be wise for me to fight the urge to poo-poo his opinion and spend some time pondering his words. 
 
Was I whining? Should I be more considerate of the men in my house and their potty positioning needs? Have I carelessly gone about my day, forming opinions and making observations from a non-gender-neutral viewpoint?
 
Well, Dick, you'll be happy to know your grammatical error-laden words were not typed in vain! This week I paid particular attention to the things around me and made a concerted effort to see them with your constructive criticism in mind.  Here's what I discovered...



Mom brain = A lemon on my bathroom counter? WTF?
                    8 year old Boy brain = I have this lemon in my hand. I don't want it anymore. I'll just put it here.




Mom brain = Why is my exfoliating brush in Nate's room?
           8 year old Boy brain = Cool brush! I want to carry it everywhere. I'll just put it here. 
 


Mom brain = Befuddled 
 10 year old Boy brain = I don't see the problem?


This was such a hot mess I couldn't find a place to add text to the picture.
I think even my 10 year old would agree he missed the mark
when told to "put the laundry away."



 
I think Nate has watched the movie "Signs" a few too many times.
Mom brain = Confused
8 year old Boy brain = I might get REALLY thirsty.
Alien brain = Oh no, not water!
(See the movie & you'll get that^^^ joke.)



Mom brain = Why is my exfoliating brush on the stairs?
8 year old Boy brain = Cool brush. Let's take it downstairs. I'll just put it here.
 
 

Mom brain = He can't remember to put his shoes away or clear his plate...?
8 year old Boy brain = I love post-its!
 
 




So Dick, after a week of careful observations, I've come to the following conclusion:  While you might like to leave the seat up, it's my ass that's falling in the bowl at 2 a.m. So I'm going to continue whining until the seat is down, my exfoliating brush is left where it belongs, the milk lid is actually on the milk, I can find a water glass in the cupboard and there are no freaking lemons on my bathroom counter! You'll be happy to know I've given up on the toilet paper, though.  Enjoy your victory.

Logic is in the eye of the beholder.
That's just my normal.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

This Is Almost 40



In 2 months and 24 days, I will be 40.  Like many of life's milestones, it's a good time to take pause and reflect. 

I can happily say, I think I have much to be proud of. I've accomplished most of the goals I set and many of the ones I didn't meet weren't necessarily "unmet," so much as they simply changed as I changed.  What was once a dream to teach at the high school level morphed into a love for middle school students instead. My burning desire to become a triathlete, cooled to more reasonable goals.  And my plan to marry a wonderful man, and forgo having children because we'd be busy traveling the world and having a fabulous life.... Well, I got half of that one right.

That being said, I wish I'd done a few things differently...






Although I grew up in sunny San Diego, the number of times I've actually gone in the ocean are few and far between- too worried about how I look to get out of my chair. I didn't boogie board with my kids often enough or regularly go for walks on the beach to collect seashells. I should have worn more skirts or even a pair of shorts now and again. I wish I'd enjoyed simply moving on a long walk rather than berating myself for not running fast enough or long enough. I never scheduled that second surf lesson or threw caution to the wind and bought the paddleboard I dreamed of using each morning after I dropped the kids at school. We didn't eat outdoors nearly enough. Nor did we use our fire pit to make s'mores as often as we could have and should have. I wish I'd jumped on the trampoline more- in spite of the pee. I should have encouraged more lemonade stands and ridden more water slides or worried less about getting them into bed on time. 

The list of should have's and could have's and wishes and worries is long. 

Yet I can still say with confidence that this  has been a life well-lived thus far. 5 years ago I don't know if I would have been able to have this perspective.  And that, my friends, is what Almost 40 looks like.  I can look  over this first half (God willing) of my life and see that so many of the choices I made were the product of 2 things: my age and my self-confidence.  Neither of which I had enough of. Until now.

Age is a powerful thing.  As we know, with age comes experience.  In my almost 40 years I have experienced a lot and learned some valuable lessons.  I've come to realize I'm capable of much more than I ever give myself credit for. I've finally accepted that although life can feel overwhelming a lot of the time, it's not always about "getting it right." Life is full of U-turns and do overs so if I don't get it right the first time, I have endless opportunities to. And most importantly, most things aren't as dire as I think they are- we will get through them and we will survive.

Our pastor once said he finds it funny that we talk so much about low self esteem when there are few things we give more time, more money or more thought to than ourselves.  What kind of crazy person would invest so much into something they don't at least like? Obviously we like ourselves plenty.

Being almost 40 has brought me to a place where I don't know if I'm more confident, so much as I'm much more comfortable in my own skin. I know who I am- for better or for worse. I'm a good friend and a loving wife. I second guess most of my parenting decisions which, although annoying, keeps me honest and makes me think before I act... most of the time. I care way too much about the way I look.  I scrutinize my thighs much more than my choice of words. I try hard not to be envious, but fail.  A lot. But when you put all those pieces together, you get me. And at almost 40 I can finally say, I'm OK with that. I rather like the skin I'm in.

As Almost 40 turns into Actually 40 I'm going to try hard to remember these things and live accordingly.  I will get out of my beach chair and walk the beach looking for sea shells and sand crabs because you can't suck it in for 8 hours, so just go for it. I will spend more time in the ocean and on water slides. I will throw my best tricks on the trampoline- pee and all. I'll eat outdoors in spite of the bugs and worry a little less about what time my kids go to bed. I'll try to envy a little less and love a little more- even my thighs. I will spend the next half of my life tied down by my own silly insecurities, skewed perceptions or my bikini strings!

Besides, rumor has it, 40 is the new 25 and if I'm this together at 25... just imagine how fabulous I'll be at 50.

This is what almost 40 looks like and I think I like it.
That's just my normal.

*By the way- You might have noticed the new ad on the top, right side of the page. Well you can click on it and pre-order the new anthology I'm in. You'll even save $1.00! So go ahead and do it! Click away and order it right now! (Almost 40 has improved my skills as a saleswoman.)



Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I am the worst salesperson... ever.

 
 
It goes without saying that in order to promote your blog, you have to be able to, well, promote your blog.  You have to subtly place it conversations... "You have a naughty dog? I have a naughty dog too.  I once wrote the story ON MY BLOG about the time he locked himself in the pantry. Oh and you'd will laugh if you read MY BLOG POST about the time he set fire to our fence with the BBQ."

That was subtle, right?

You can also promote your blog on Social Media platforms such as Facebook.  A little status here, a link there.  "New post up on the blog! Check it out!"

And there's always the Direct Marketing approach.  One could "accidentally" drop her blog business card in the bathroom in Costco or nonchalantly hang one up on the Community Events bulletin board in Starbucks.  Win a free lunch by dropping your business card in the fishbowl at Chipotle? I just happen to have 25 cards with me now! How convenient!

The problem for me, however, is that I am not in sales.  More importantly, I am not in sales for a very specific reason. I am the worst salesperson ever in the history of salespeople.

Don't believe me? Check this out: Last December I had the honor of being one of 50 contributors in an anthology called The HerStories Project.  When I heard the news I called my mom and dad immediately and pretty much screamed my head off. 

Everyone else I know got this award winning sales pitch, "So, I'm in this book that's coming out. I'm only one person though and there's like 50 others so it's not like it's a big deal or anything.  You can buy it if you want.  You don't have to. But you can. If you want. But don't have to. So what's new with you?"

There is absolutely no CLIO award in my future. 

But you know what? That's ok because in spite of my pitiful sales pitching and less than stellar marketing skills (which is ironic considering I work in social media marketing) I won an award anyway! That's right, my little blog won the Blog Tour "Award!" 

I met Kristen Mae of Abandoning Pretense in the Baltimore Airport. I kid you not.  I met her in the airport when another blogger I met in the Baltimore Airport approximately 2 hours prior and I were walking toward the exit to find a cab. I can say without a doubt that within 6 minutes of meeting Kristen, I was pretty sure we were sisters from another mister.  We clearly speak the same language: sarcasm and authenticity.

Kristen was kind enough to award me the "Blog Tour Award" earlier this week. She too was a recipient and loved the opportunity to flaunt her narcissistic side.  As proven by my pathetic attempt to gently suggest that people buy the book I'm in- but only if they want to- I am not quite so narcissistic and so I appreciate the fact that all I am required to do is answer a few questions. 

So here it goes...

1. WHAT AM I WORKING ON? Because what I write is typically what I experience, I am pretty much always working on a lot of things.  My kids do stupid stuff all the time so there is rarely a lack of material 'round these parts.  Specifically, however, I have been working on a piece that is a bit more serious and addresses some of the issues going on in raising strong girls and respectful boys.  I'm sure it's going to piss a few people off so I'm still working on it and trying to grow a thick layer of skin before I turn it loose.  I'm also working on a funny silly piece that will go nicely with the pathetically thin skin I currently wear.

2. HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?  Truthfully, it doesn't.  I think that's what makes blogging so great.  The ups, downs and in-betweens of motherhood are universal.  The things that cause full belly laughs in my house, as well as the things that make we want to shake my fists at my husband and scream, "This whole kid thing was YOUR idea!" are the same things that insight the same feelings for moms everywhere.  My work isn't different because the experiences of motherhood are NORMAL.

3. HOW DO I WRITE/CREATE WHAT I DO? In the Notes on my iPhone, on post-it notes, receipts and more often than I should admit publicly...the sermon notes from church.  Not kidding.  Every piece of sermon notes is littered with blog ideas, quotes and one-liners.  Obviously everything I write is blessed- that's why it's so incredible.

4. HOW DOES MY WRITING/CREATIVE PROCESS WORK? It might sound silly, but I won't write a thing until I have a title.  My posts are all about my title.  Example:
 "What I'm Doing to Ensure I Don't Eat My Young This Summer." And who could forget this one: "Spike's an as#@!*e". Once I've got a title, I pray it's Sunday so I have sermon notes nearby and I begin jotting down one-liners and random sentences I want to use. Oddly enough, the rest is written in my head.  It tumbles around in there for a few days or weeks, more Target receipts and post-it notes are scribbled upon and then it all comes together when... I take a shower.  Yes, the final piece is written in my head, in the shower.  (I really need to ask for a waterproof iPad cover for Christmas.) Finally, I sit down and type.  And delete. And type again.  And I should probably delete again at that point because Lord knows I'm in desperate need of some editing help.  But eventually I just get tired, attempt to schedule the post which never works because blogger hates me, and go to bed.  Then I wake up at some ridiculous hour that it's early enough for my East Coast readers but not too early for my West Coast readers and actually click "post" because I did not figure out the scheduler the previous night because as mentioned, Blogger hates me.

So that's pretty much it.  I hope I did an ok job selling myself.  Wait, selling my blogging self, that is.  I hope you enjoyed it.  You can follow all those little links I added.  Or not.  It's cool.  No pressure.  Never mind.  Don't worry about it.

I will, however, sell some other ladies and a gentlemen to you!

~Stephanie over at When Crazy Meets Exhaustion absolutely kills me! Talk about authenticity.  You couldn't make up half the stuff she writes about no matter how good of a writer you are.

~The hysterical Lipstick, Margaritas and Hairspray is run by the fabulous Sasha. She shares the "observations of a redneck, barefoot, rum and tequila drinking southern belle" and no one could do it better.

~I've only recently gotten to know Mike over at Papa Does Preach but in the short time I've known him I have learned 4 things: 1. Mike is funny.  Really really funny.  2. Mike has guts.  He was the only man to attend BlogU with over 200 women.  3. Mike is brilliant.  He was the only man to attend BlogU with over 200 women.  4. Mike's wife is awesome to give him the thumbs up to attend BlogU with over 200 women.

I suck at selling stuff.  Even myself.
That's just my normal.

One last pathetic attempt to sell myself: I recently found out I was accepted as a contributor in the second HerStories Project book entitled My Other Ex: Women's True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends. It will be out in September.  You can buy it.  Or not.  No pressure.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

7 Things to Remember When Your Kid Loses His S*%T at Summer Camp Drop-Off

7 Things to Remember When Your Kid Loses His S*%T at Drop-Off





When I was a young mom, one of the best things I did was join a moms group.  Every Tuesday morning in a musty meeting room at the back of a church I sat with other moms and enjoyed fellowship, tips for parenting and wife'ing, a free breakfast and the blissful freedom that comes from knowing someone else is watching your two year old for a while.

We shared stories of tantruming toddlers and picky eaters while we snacked on Monkey Bread and hard boiled eggs. Even more nourishing than the food, however, was the wisdom shared by the Seasoned Moms. This special breed of wise, older moms had lived to tell the tale of  motherhood. Looking back of course, I realize these ladies were probably in their 40's. Not at all what you'd consider "old." I'm just shy of 40 and I'm certainly not old! These women were survivors who made it to the other side of parenting. Their kids could make their own meals, dress themselves and even left the house for hours upon hours as they ventured to the magical far-off place toddler moms could only dream of... school.  Their kids had whole conversations without one mention of traveling little girls with backpacks and maps or purple dinosaurs. They didn't repeat the same questions over and over even though they heard the answer 5.8 seconds earlier. And most importantly, these kids wore underwear- real underwear that was free of sticky tabs and wrestling matches to put them on.

The Seasoned Moms circulated throughout the room looking for a Young Mom in distress.  We were easy to find as we sported the signature dark circles and repeatedly searched the doorway for nursery workers coming to get us because our child was falling apart. Many of us could be found huddling around the coffee while shoving food in our faces.  We'd become accustomed to eating like this at home as our toddlers attempted to climb the cabinets or sneak out the back door, so we often forgot how to behave in public.

Seasoned Moms spotted us Newbies right away and like fairy godmothers, they fluttered around us, wrapped a comforting arm around our shoulders and asked the question every new mom feared... "How are you doing?" Such a simple question with a complex maze of answers. "I'm tired, frustrated and lonely. I'm never going to lose this baby weight.  I have no idea what I'm doing and I'm pretty sure I'm ruining my kid." And as I wept into my Betty Crocker Farmers Breakfast Casserole, these women offered  me comfort and encouragement and, most importantly, peace.  They shared stories of  tantrums thrown both at home and *gasp* in public, failed meals, bad decisions and constant doubt and second-guessing.  They made me feel normal.

As I left each week and I retrieved my 2 year old who inevitably pushed some other kid because he was in "that phase," I was a little less mortified by his behavior because the Seasoned Moms promised me someone else's kid would be doing the pushing next week. 

It's easy to forget those early years as they are replaced by thousands of days filled with new experiences.  Then suddenly you see one of those Young Moms and you're reminded of what it was like to be in her shoes.  Suddenly you are the Seasoned Mom.

Two days ago, as I dropped my guys off at camp, I witnessed every mother's worst nightmare: a kid completely losing his shnizzle at drop-off.  I'm talking about the full-on crying, screeching, hanging on to mom's leg meltdown. We've all been there.  I don't care how well adjusted your kid is, every kid goes through this at some point. And as many of the other moms gave her a wide berth to work it out, all I wanted to do was run up to her and tell her 6 simple things:

1. You're not a bad mom.

2. You're kid isn't freaking out because you don't spend enough time with her.

3. You're kid isn't freaking out because you spend too much time with him.

4. The kid next to you, who is happily waving to mommy as she skips away, is not a better kid and does not have a better mom.  We've all got issues.

5. You may never know why your kid is crying because just like the rest of us humans, he sometimes has feelings that are completely irrational and illogical. So stand strong Tell him that you love him.  Remind him that you'll be here as soon as camp is done.  Give him a really big squeeze and send him on his way.

6. It's pretty much a guarantee she will not be the only one freaking out today- Take solace in that.

7. It's OK to climb into your car and cry because nothing hurts more than seeing your kid in distress. And when the tears slow and the snot stops dripping, go back to #1: You're not a bad mom.

I'd like to say I ran up to her and say those things.  But I was too afraid I'd freak her out or overstep my boundaries (and I didn't have any Monkey Bread to share.)  So as I passed her as she stealthily hid behind the steering wheel of car, I made eye contact, paused for a moment and gave her a subtle nod and the Mom Smile. The one that says, "I know what you're going through.  We've all been there. It's going to be OK. You're normal- and so's your kid."

I guess I'm the Seasoned Mom now.
That's just my normal.