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The Playground

Beer

Confession: I used to be one of those moms.

You know those moms!  The ones that tell their kids No constantly even when they’re doing nothing wrong. The ones that interject constantly to make sure they’re playing “appropriately”. The ones that constantly explain to other adults why their kid acts the way he acts because they feel like their kid is being judged. Are you one of those moms?  Are you trying not to be one of those moms?

We had been writing the blog for about a month at the time that I wrote You Have No Idea How Lucky You Are and I was just starting to see how crazy I was. That was probably the beginning of my realization that I had a problem. I was exactly what I hated, but didn’t know how to not be that person. The best thing that’s ever happened to my kids was for me to start writing on this blog.  I saw myself from a totally different perspective and after being at the playground the other day for the first time this spring I can officially say I’m a changed mom.  I am no longer one of those moms!  I’ve wanted to be this mom for a while, and I probably have a ways to go still, but I’m so proud of myself and my kids are so much happier because of it.

As I said, we went to the playground the other day.  I just took my 19 month old while my oldest was at school.  The playground by my house is one of those gigantic playscapes where nobody can get hurt because it’s too new and way too safe.  You can tell because if you look closely there’s literally no way to injure yourself in any way. You can’t fall off of anything. The ground is squishier than my bed. The teeter totter isn’t so much a teeter totter as it is two springy chairs across from each other. The slides are made so kids can’t build up enough speed and go flying off the end.  It’s a dream come true…for those moms.  I don’t want my kids to injure themselves by any means because it’s so awful to see them sad, but seriously the city might as well just provide every child a bubble and say “here, enjoy your insurance protection”.

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And yet, if you just stand and watch and listen all you can hear is the chatter of parents.  Some are chatting with each other about vegetable growing techniques and whether or not you can make salsa out of cherry tomatoes (No!), but most of them are talking to their kids.  Maybe it’s more accurate to say talking AT their kids.  You know the ones I’m talking about.  The moms that are talking in the air so that other adults can hear them.  They’re not looking at their kids.  Their kids are not looking at them.  The kids are likely not listening, but the moms are talking.

“Be nice sweetheart.  She’s your friend.”

“Say hi baby.  It’s not nice to stare.”

“Why don’t you come over here and climb on this ramp. Doesn’t it look fun?”

“Oopsie daisy darling. Wait your turn.”

As I stood there and listened I got increasingly annoyed.  I heard my old self in so many of these moms and I honestly couldn’t handle it. I just kept thinking You’re telling your 18 month old not to stare at my kid because it’s not nice?  What does that even mean? My kid was straight up staring.  Did he say hi? No. He can’t even talk. Who the hell cares. After a good staring session, this one mom was still yapping.  She was sort of pacing like she had somewhere else to be and she was talking.  Louder when she paced away from her child and still pretty loud as she walked back toward her child.

To her kid (the air): Go down the slide honey. Say Wheeee!  Have you seen the train honey?  Do you want to go on the swing honey? Say hi honey.

To me (but not looking at me): He knows how to talk and he always says Hi to everyone at the grocery store, but I guess he doesn’t want to talk now.

Was that meant for me…was she explaining to me how her kid can talk, but just isn’t into it right now?  Again, who the hell cares?

I think my little guy was actually kind of freaked out by this lady because multiple times he ran over to me and looked at me like Is she serious? He was literally avoiding her.  I started to feel bad for her kid because he is never going to be able to shake this yappy mom.  He probably doesn’t say hi because she does it for him.  She says all anyone needs to say and more!

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We moved from that location.  Neither of us could handle it.  Next we came across the mom that tries to please her kid at every moment of the day while still trying to get her life mildly accomplished.  That was really annoying.  Please stop trying to please your kids every second of the day.  Just.  Please. Stop!

Then to our third and final location, the dark purple covered curly slide.  The kids fear it, and apparently so do the parents.  It’s COMPLETELY ENCLOSED people. COMPLETELY. ENCLOSED.

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There are more warnings and chatter from parents on that slide than any other play spot in the park.  I’m sure it’s because the parents are actually losing sight of their sweet little Timmy for what feels like an eternity as he slides slowly and safely down the curly slide.  I’m usually there by myself and can’t be at the top of the slide and the bottom of the slide at the same time like so many of the parents do.  I have no idea how or why, but many times there are two parents there.  Dad at the top and mom at the bottom.  Did dad or mom or both take off work for this?  Did they call in sick to man the kid at the park?  Don’t get me wrong, it’s great seeing both parents with their kids, but for real.

I’ve seen absolute shock and awe on so many parents faces and received comments about how my little guy “really gets around”.  He’s 19 months old for crying out loud.  Should I be carrying him?  I’m confused.

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He climbs the steps safely enclosed with jail bars no more than a tiny fist size apart, gets to the top where there’s a window so we can all wave, blow kisses and say goodbye forever, wait to see if they make it out alive and down he goes.  Usually someone pushes him and he comes out head first, laughing.  Then up he goes again.  That little independent stinker, thinking he’s hot shit going down the slide without any adult supervision.  What kind of tyrant am I creating?  How horrible am I to be so unsafe?

Well, I’m so horrible that after a few times down my little able bodied child just walked frantically to his stroller and climbed in.  Have you ever seen a kid choose to leave the playground of his own accord? He was over it, and so was I.  Whatever!  Lets go home, eat dirt, and pour water on our slide!

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Guest Post: Pukenado

I love it when other mamas share their hot mess stories. It makes the rest of us sigh with relief that it happens to others too. And that it didn’t happen to them. Thanks, Gina, for your brave story of mama trauma. I’m so glad this hasn’t happened to me. Yet. AAAAAND I just jinxed myself.


About 4 months ago, Scott was working late and the kids and I were having a picnic dinner outside because you can do that in January in Texas.  Luke (age 4) is obsessed with Batman and Spider-Man.  So we either have Batman night (Batman bath towel, Batman underwear, Batman pajamas and Batman house shoes) or we have Spider-Man night (Spider-Man bath towel, Spider-Man underwear, Spider-Man pajamas and Spider-Man house shoes.).  Do not fool with his Batman/Spider-Man system because it is his control of the universe.

So Kate suddenly springs a stomach bug while we are having a picnic dinner outside and throws up on the patio.  So I grab her and get her in the bath and she throws up in the bathtub.  Then again.  And then again before I can even get her out of the bath.  I get her out of the bath and then she threw up on me so I pull off my shirt.  I get her dressed only for her to throw up on her clean pajama shirt.  So the rest of the night proceeds without our shirts because there isn’t any time to even consider it.  I couldn’t get me or her into clean clothes before she was at it again, and all I could do was clean up puke spots hoping I could reach it before the dogs did.

I finally get Luke bathed in the other bathroom and Kate manages to walk into his bedroom and throw up again.  She was a little toddling vomiting robot.  She then walks back into where Luke is finishing his bath and makes the biggest mistake of her two years of life and throws up on the Batman towel and pajamas.  Luke is aghast that she has vomited and offended that it happened on Batman night.  His brain shorted out and he couldn’t get past the fact that it was Batman night and knowing that he couldn’t wear puke pajamas.  Worlds collided.  Then, as nature would have it, a wasp started buzzing around the bathroom.   At least it was a friendly wasp and kept to itself.  He told me that “Kate ruined his day.”  I said, “well I don’t think she’s having a very good day herself.”  Even worse, the previous night was Spider-Man night, which was still in the laundry so there was no backup.

Kate was so tired that she fell asleep in the hallway before I could even get her dressed again.

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Luke said in a teen-angst voice, “she is such a selfish baby.  Everything is about her her her her her.”  The look on his face is priceless, plus his legs are awkward and his fingers are double-pointing at his selfish (passed-out) baby sister who ruined his day.

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Thanks, Gina, for sharing these valuable lessons found in surviving a sweetheart toddler typhoon and a fournado moment:

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#1: Stomach bugs render clothing pointless.

#2: You too will one day survive your own vomit-induced nightmare and live to tell the tale. When and where is the surprise!

#3: Never come between a man and his Batman jammies. He. will. cut. you.

#4: Violent illness to some is just plain selfishness to others.

XO

Expanding Your Family With Secondary Infertility

When do you know you’re ready for another child? Some mamas don’t get a choice and find out breastfeeding is not a form of birth control and antibiotics negate actual birth control. Some mamas can’t wait to have another wee one as soon as their bodies have recovered. Others wait and plan or wait and don’t. There are a million different ways to grow a family when your body works.

But when your body doesn’t work, the decision to move forward with your family is a bit more challenging. Mamas that have this so-called secondary infertility are either those with problems conceiving their second child when they had no problem with the first. Or as in my case, those who struggled with infertility to have their first child and now know exactly what they’re getting into with the next.

I know what lies ahead so the idea of leaping head first again into the chasm of fertility treatments is simultaneously strangely comforting and completely insane. On one hand, I know exactly what to expect. I had a pretty decent amount of experience with nine procedures (two Clomid rounds, two IUIs, two IVFs, and three FET attempts). On the other hand, infertility consumed me. It made me scrutinize over every body ache, every pain, every temperature read, every bite, every shot, every appointment, every sideways glance, every day, every month, every year. It depressed me. It isolated me. It made me feel like something was missing in my life. And I hated infertility for it. For making me feel incomplete. And broken.

Yet on the backside of that 4-year battle, I began to appreciate infertility. I accepted my body for what it was. I became stronger. My character hardened. My physical, emotional, and mental wounds healed. I started to stand tall and proudly walk again, just with a hint of an emotional limp. I wouldn’t necessarily high-five infertility, that bitch, but I accepted it as a part of my journey. And then it finally worked.

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Love at first sight! (and thanks for hiding my jowls…)

That’s why even though my house is a wreck or I have a bad day or I lost a proposal at work, it doesn’t matter. The worst is over. I hold on tightly to my daughter and am thankful for her mere presence, her chubby little legs and that grin. And the cherry on top is I don’t have to deal with shitty infertility right now. I have absolutely loved feeling content these last 3 years. I have loved not feeling there is something missing in my life. I have relished in letting go of that hyper-awareness of body and mind. I have loved actually living my life instead of wishing my life would start.

So why in the hell would I want to rock the boat? I mean, the chances of us having another biological child are probably pretty low, even if IVF was successful for us the first time. But the chances of us having another biological child with such a precious, precocious personality as this kid are almost nil. It’s not like I feel I’m missing out on something either. Our daughter is this source of light that radiates warmth and heat. She is more than I ever could have imagined. I am pulling a Jerry McGuire: she completes us.

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Big smiles, even at 2 months.

No, it’s more of that excited feeling I’ve gotten lately when planning our extended family vacations this year. That feeling of love and admiration for our brothers and sisters and their sweet spouses is strong. Palpable. They bring so much joy and laughter to our family. And our lives would be very different without them. You do whatever you want for you and yours. But for me, that’s what we want that for our family at some point in time. Doesn’t have to be now, but I’m fine with some day.

So what does one do? As a scientist, I look at the facts. IVF blows big goats (yes, that’s a scientific fact). From the needles to that damned kittie-wand to a very low chance of success, the IVF process is a fugly one. And to be honest, pregnancy wasn’t really my thing either. Too much worrying its gonna stick in the beginning and too much ass, jowl, and cankle in the end, though the middle was nice. Oh yeah, and the freakishly sudden pre-eclampsia. That was scary! So I’m kinda dreading the pregnancy thing again (doesn’t mean I wouldn’t do it).

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My instagrammic perfection at 30 weeks.
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My reality at 38 weeks: jowls, back spasms, bloated feet, labored breathing, and an ass that was having its own baby.

But the stress didn’t stop after delivery either. I was a shit-show at breastfeeding as well. Well, okay, that’s not the whole truth. I was just a piping hot snotty mess of a new mom in general. I might have previously mentioned that I was bullheadedly determined to pump on the job, even if it was in the woods on a survey. But I conveniently omitted the story of when I scared that feral hog half to death with my pumping bra. Yeah, that one. He was minding his own business, walking down a path towards me. And as he caught sight of my robot-Madonna cone bra slowly turning towards him and heard me shrieking a Native American war-cry to scare him away, the poor guy fell down in a mad scramble backwards, did an about-face, and sprinted to high hell in the opposite direction from the scariest thing in the woods. Me. As a mother. Shudder.

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Any mammal would shit themselves if they saw this coming right at him.

So I was actually getting excited about the prospects of adoption as a wonderful and realistic alternative to, you know, the stress of getting pregnant and then actually being pregnant. I know several people where adoption has worked out very well. And others not so much. It’s a crap chute like every other choice in life. But most recently a friend who applied for domestic adoption, was quickly home-interviewed, and got a call for a newborn baby in a matter of months gave me the inspiration and push we needed to really sit down and consider it. Because BAM! It’s that easy, right? No brainer. Let’s do this already!

No, you stupid twit. There is nothing easy about adoption. And just to prove it, my heart broke into a thousand pieces for that dear friend who’s adoption fell through in the eleventh hour. After flying half way across the country at a moment’s notice and seeing — God, I hope not holding — that baby in the hospital, she was told the family of the mother stepped in to keep the child. A ripping loss as deep as any. A chance not meant to be. My whole body sobbed for the unfairness of it all and I silently, violently threatened that family to actually come through for that child who was taken away from someone so undeniably worthy. This is not even my loss and I was a hot puddle of snot, slobber, and sobs. Suck a bag of dicks, adoption.

So we’re back to square one. No decision will be easy. Each road has its own cobbles and cracks to trip over. Needles and bodily disappointment vs. paperwork and systemic disappointment. Pessimistic in my outlook, you say? I’m just realistic. I would rather go into a snake-pit knowing how to suck out venom than fearlessly believing I won’t get bit. We all get bit, people, just in varying degrees of potency and depth.

The difference is knowing you can survive the bite and that it’s worth it in the end. No matter how many needles or let-downs or home interviews or old ovaries or take-backs that may happen, it ultimately doesn’t matter. The road will eventually open up and lead to those incredible bonds between siblings many years from now with all their inside jokes, messes, brawls, and embraces. That road will some day lead to a 35-year-old Nina getting excited to help her mama plan our family vacation. With that precocious grin on her face, she’ll count down the days to see her brother or sister and their families like I am doing right now. These early stumbles in the road do not mean much over the traveling lifetime. So let the stumbling begin. (Metaphorically speaking, of course, because this klutz already trips a whole lot on her own and doesn’t need any more help.)

x

Learning from the Best

Just because Mother’s Day was yesterday, doesn’t mean we can’t honor our mothers the day after. They deserve our respect every day of the year, right? Plus, that’s how this mess rolls anyway—a day late and a dollar short. So in the longtime tradition of thanking our moms for keeping us alive raising us right, I polled my mom for her some of her own hot mess stories during motherhood.

Her response was typical Sally: a brief, efficient laundry list of her (or my?) greatest hits, using little punctuation and capitalization even though she was an English teacher for 35 years. Because even her emails are passive aggressive:

” just read your text this morning.  besides the famous, rather infamous, falling out of the car caper, not much else comes to mind (different story with your brother).
I believe I turned my back while grocery shopping with you (standing in the cart, refusing to sit down like someone else I know).  of course you fell and hit your cheek below your eye.  I think you might still have the scar (maybe wrinkle)
fast forward to elem school- you insisted on cutting your hair short, and afterwards, I was often complimented on how handsome my two boys were.
or, the time I drove off and left you and [a friend] in new braunfels. 
then there was high school and lying for [a friend] so she could spend the night with [her boyfriend]. of course you were a terrible liar, and I called you on it – one of the few times I did. (re: college days)
lv, ur mom ”

When I asked her to expand on the infamous pinto incident, she had only this to say:

” I hope you’re kidding.
orange pinto station wagon.  no child seat. no safety belt.  toddler standing in passenger seat.
pulling into oncoming traffic.  child’s hand on door, and flying out as it opens, but holding on for dear life ( you were strong even then.)  grabbing your leg and holding on long enough to get across the road and pull over to assess damage and cry hysterically. immediate trip to toys r us for celebratory toy.  
still waking up in cold sweat some nights for 34 years.
glad you don’t remember much. ”

I’m sorry, mom, for trying to fling myself into oncoming traffic. Thanks for saving my life, even though I was unrestrained in the front seat of a vehicle that was recalled about 3 years prior to said incident.

I’m sorry I didn’t believe your recommendation to keep my long beachy waves. My insistence of a Dennis-the-Menace cut was indeed the wrong decision. And I paid full-price on that mistake for many painfully slow, pre-pubescent years. Thanks for your advice, however unwanted at the time. I will try to remember how right you were the next time I am mull(et)ing over a new cut.

I’m sorry I didn’t obey your repeated requests to sit down in an unrestrained shopping cart (though I am noticing a pattern, here). I now know where my hashtag of wrinkles beneath my left eye came from. Thanks for clarifying so I can now report it as a scar instead of the inexplainable epicenter from which all wrinkles radiate. #effingwrinkles #iamthereasonforchildrestraintlaws

I’m sorry my brother and his friend fooled you into thinking we were hiding in the back of the van as you sped away, cackling at our little joke…when in fact we were lost and wandering around downtown New Braunfels for about an hour. In the age of no cell phones. Thanks for coming back and somehow finding us…without a GPS no less.

I’m sorry I tried to lie to you so many times. My unwitting inability to lie effectively must have been really difficult for you to hold back laughter and/or tears, neither of which would have boded well for my self esteem. Thanks for calling me out on my shit every so often when you could stand it no longer. You should have done so much more frequently. Because I was a little punk who deserved much worse than the gentle discipline I received.

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I am my mother’s daughter.

Thanks again, mom, for all that you do, for making me laugh, for barely keeping me alive in the crazy ’80’s, and teaching me how to embrace the mess.

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Birdie and Chickadee.

And for all you other mamas who are just trying to do your best, Happy Belated Mother’s Day!

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Yesterday, today, and every day.

Lisa and Sydney Opera House

The Girl Who Cried ‘Poop!’

In honor of the upcoming Mother’s Day, I asked my mom to share one of her “hot mess” stories with us. It would appear that I’ve had a lifelong appreciation for poop humor…and I was obviously more fearless about shouting in public than I am now!

Enjoy!


I am a mother of two grown children. Motherhood brings so many rewarding experiences and mishaps.  I’d say some of my “mishaps” were just part of the messy, quite normal, day-to-day routine for a first time Mom. It’s been a while – I’ve probably blocked out most of my “hot mess” stories, but I’m confident I did pretty well as you can see them both now.

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Here’s one of our favorite embarrassing stories from Lisa’s childhood.

Children of a certain age – about 2 or 3 years old – take great pleasure in hearing their voice echo off the vaulted church ceiling during Mass. Our church was old, built before the time of special “cry rooms” for children.

On this particular day, little Lisa’s word of choice was “POOP!” Fortunately, our family’s unique dialect includes a number of Filipino words in place of English. So while mildly embarrassed by the shouting, we felt confident that nobody actually understood when little Lisa shouted “Taee! TAEEEE!!”

We finally got her to sit quietly, and the rest of the service was uneventful. Mass ended, and we felt like we had “gotten away with it”. Just then, a small group of nuns came up to us.

“Good morning! Filipina, ka ba? We heard your daughter!” They laughed. “What island are you from?” I told them I was from Cagayan de Oro, in Mindanao, and coincidentally several of the nuns were from the Lourdes College there.

Lisa with Mom and RVM Sisters

So that was the day we met the Filipino RVM Nuns that ran the Parochial School. They became lifelong friends to us. If Lisa hadn’t shouted “POOP!!” at the top of her lungs, we may not have met them!

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Who, ME??

Happy Mother’s Day, Mamas!!

30-Day Challenge

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I started my challenge on May 1 and it’s going really well so far.  So, to back up for a second, I need to be more productive personally if I’m ever going to get my dream home accessories thing off the ground.  You can read about my feelings on life right now and my vague plan here. That’s where the 30-day challenge comes in.  I figure if I can manage to do these things for 30 days I’ll be on my way to creating a new routine and new normal for myself and my family.

As I think about the things that I can do to make myself more productive, get more things accomplished, and feel like bothering it’s really very simple.  I’m sure to some it’ll sound like I’m a total slob and others will absolutely agree with me.  Showers are few and far between in this house.  I think us stay-at-home moms can all agree, and discuss it frequently…we NEVER shower.  Why?  Because what’s the point?  Because we don’t have time?  Because we prefer Pinterest and coffee while our children are sleeping or watching cartoons?  For me, it’s all of those things.

I discovered recently that there are a few roadblocks that keep me from being my best productive self.

Showering/Removing My Pajamas

I don’t shower every day, because lets be real…ugh!  BUT, for the next 30 days (and hopefully much longer) I do plan to put on my makeup and get dressed in something other than stretchy pants and a cleaner tank top than the one I slept in.  I am presentable and I like looking at myself in the mirror.  I need to feel confident that my Rodan + Fields business is going somewhere and when I look in the mirror and see pink cheeks and bright eyes I carry that confidence with me.  I want people to ask me about my skin and tell me I look young.  Those are my openers.  That’s my job.  It’s important to me.  Additionally, I’ll get my kids dressed too.  It paves the way for them to be more productive too.

I also have a problem with my kids playing by themselves.  They basically don’t and that does not work for a mom who wants to work from home (a little bit).  Or really any mom who just needs 15 minutes. In the past I’ve always put on the TV or given my oldest the iPad so I could shower without him getting into stuff in the house, waking up those that are still sleeping, or getting naked and getting in the shower with me.  Well, my new rule is that there is no technology while I’m in the shower.  They must play alone.  It is hard because they come into the bathroom 100 times, daddy gets woken up on the weekends, my 20 month old cries the entire time, and my living room looks like a total war zone.  My expectation is that after 30 days (probably more like 15 days of showers), they will be better at playing by themselves and we will be able to branch out from there.

Simple advice I have for a new mom…ignore your kid for a while.  Trust me.  I’ve got one I did that with and one I didn’t and it’s so important for them and for you as time goes by.

Making My Bed

I think an unmade bed gives the wrong message to myself and my husband.  It says “I don’t care”.  I do care and a nicely made bed bookends my getting ready process.  My room feels clean just because my bed is made plus I’m not tripping on 15 pillows that my husband curses every time we climb in bed every night.  Seriously, it’s a little Along Came Polly, but it’s eye candy for me. It makes me feel great to see a pretty, nicely made bed.  Plus, I am a decorator at heart and it makes me feel confident in those abilities too.  It’s the only place in the house I don’t have to let the kids destroy.  We don’t have a TV in there, we don’t sleep with the kids in there so why does it look like the kids live in there?  They don’t!

Being on the Computer/iPad/Phone

I do not discourage any of these things, because I’m probably the worst, next to my husband with the phone in hand or the idea that I must have the iPad before I sit down on the couch.  The problem with those devices, regardless of what you’re doing on them, is that there is no end.  Contrary to popular belief you can’t actually finish the internet like my husband and I joke about frequently.  It’s always there.  There’s always more of whatever you’re interested in.  I have a gigantic pile of magazines that seriously stresses me out to no end.  They take up valuable space in my TV cabinet, they slide all over the place, they annoy me when a new one arrives at my door.  I HATE them, but I LOVE them!  There’s the wasteful non-green part about them, but being green is not important to me if I let everything else in my world slide because of it.  So, I started picking up a magazine with my coffee while my kids watch cartoons instead of Pinterest and Houzz.  I’ve read one every day since May 1, tore out the articles, pictures, and recipes I want and recycled the rest.  Just reading one from start to finish makes me feel like I accomplished something.  I made room in the drawer and I actually took some stress off the giant stack.  The most important thing I’m getting from this though, that I totally did not expect, is that my kids are different when they see me reading paper vs. reading a computer.  Within 5 days they have picked up more books.  My 20 month old has started asking me to read books which a week ago, would have never been an option.  I have found my almost 4 year old looking at books on his own, which he has never voluntarily done before. WOW!

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The cool thing too is that all of the magazines I read are online which means I can easily take my stack of torn out pages, search for them on the internet, and pin them later.  Then I don’t have a pile of torn papers to deal with.

I’m really excited to see what happens over the next week.  What new things my kids do that I didn’t expect.  I want them to see a mommy, but also a woman who is confident and accomplished.  Don’t men usually marry women like their mothers?  However I decide to display this, I want them to marry a woman with her own life, that takes control of what she wants, and gets it done?

Hot Mess Mother’s Day Gift Guide for Procrastinators

Call me Last Second Sally. Or Procrastinator Priscilla? Because I am notorious for scrambling at the last second for Mother’s Day gifts. Lie. I scramble on pretty much every holiday, every event, every time I need to be thoughtful. Because I am a thoughtless twit. And my gifts are rarely Pinterest worthy. Most are pretty lame. A plant here. A candle there. Ooh! A gift card! Brill.

On the rare chance I get my act together and remember in advance, I Etsy the crap out of a gift. And it rocks. But as you know, Etsy is notorious for taking forever. Has that damned gift arrived already? No, not yetsy.

So for those procrastinators that don’t have their shit together like me and for the sweetheart mothers they sheepishly almost forget like mine (for shame!), I thought I’d give a Hot Mess Mother’s Day Gift Guide that not only guarantees delivery in time (I love Amazon Prime), but it gives a wee bit different perspective on gifts.

Most gift guides give beautiful suggestions on lovely gifts, things that every mama loves and comes to expect in a Mother’s Day experience. Mine? HA! No, my gift guide is a bit more practical, less expensive, and probably not as much fun. But they are pretty stinkin’ useful or at the very least, things that you would never think to get yourself. So without further adieu…

EIGHT HOT MESS MOTHER’S DAY GIFTS:

(1) The Best Self Tanner + Mitt Ever.

Because tanned fat is better than pasty white fat. And applying self tanner at home is a hell of a lot less embarrassing than at the salon. Just ask Lindsey, who makes a pretty compelling argument for keeping this shady work confined to your master bathroom:

Confession: “I had to pee kind of when I went in [to the spray tan salon], but not that bad. I didn’t want to hold the guy up so I just went into the room. It was an auto sprayer in a glass shower stall type thing. You stand there completely naked, legs spread, arms out so everything gets sprayed. Well, as soon as I spread my legs I realized it was going to be tough to hold it. The spray hit me and it was freezing. I peed. There was a drain in the floor so I tried to aim. The pee came out slow in a small stream and spiraled around my left leg. I had a curly white spiral on my leg for about a week.”

Like I said. Self tanner is the way to go. My advice? Get the dark (it’s not as dark as you think), pee first, avoid or lightly blend joints and places that don’t get as much sun (i.e., your inner forearm), and don’t forget the MITT! The mitt is the difference between golden perfection and, well, pants.

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(2) The Strongest Portable Phone Charger Ever.

Because after capturing your kid dangling upside down on the playscape and posting it to Instagram (#parentfail) followed by submitting it to Dear Baby XO, you’re gonna need battery replenishment. Every mama needs this in her bag. (#parentwin)

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(3) The Best Self-watering Planter Ever.

For the mama with a black thumb and a prayer. I noticed these simple, lovely planters at breakfast while shoveling Kerbey Lane pancakes in my mouth and they made me pause just long enough in my carb-induced food coma to note the name. ‘Tis a big deal to tear my focus away from pancakes. Bonus: I didn’t even realize they were SELF-WATERING when I looked them up. Gorgeous AND I’m guaranteed to not kill my plants? I’ll take two!

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 (4) The Most Convenient  Travel Wine Glasses Ever.

Because a mama should always come prepared with her own sippie cup. These silicon-based glasses can be squished in a bag, can be ready to take out in a moment’s notice, and can never break. For life’s little emergencies.

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Source

(5) The Best Gold Hoops Ever.

Because who doesn’t love a good pair of dainty hooped earrings that go with everything? Plus they’re so light, she’ll be pleasantly surprised when she looks in the mirror to find a polished, gorgeous mama staring right back. Good earrings (and penciled-in brows) frame the face like no other. So throw in a good brow pencil too!

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(6) The Best Silk Pillow Ever.

“I love waking up with wrinkles and a rat’s nest of hair,” said no woman ever. Cue this bad boy for the tired mama who might appreciate some help in reducing sleep wrinkles, minimizing hair frizz and kinking, and providing a healthier moisture balance of hair and skin. And for you side-sleepers, I bet it could help with those boob wrinkles! Because brinkles blow.

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(7) The Best Book Solution Ever.

For the mama who doesn’t have time to laugh at her Bon Appetit magazine, let alone read a Pulitzer novel, give her a subscription to Audible.com. That multitasking mama will now know what all the fuss is about as she’s driving to the market or washing the poop outta someone’s shorts.

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(8) The Best Framed Photo Ever.

Okay, yes, you’ll be late on this one. But note it for future use. Or blame it on the shipping?! Because who doesn’t love receiving a framed photo of your loved ones, even after this Sunday?

And who doesn’t love a one-stop-shopping experience that eliminates scrolling through 200 photos, emailing that perfect photo to Walgreens, strapping in a wriggling toddler to drive over to Walgreens, somehow paying for that bloody photo while chasing after said toddler three aisles down, giving up on going to Target to get a Nate Berkus frame, and crying in the Walgreens frame aisle because there is no more time and their selection is from 1992 (and not the hip 1992 we’re seeing so much of this year, but framed equivalent to mom-jeans)?

Okay, crap. A torturous Walgreens excursion may still be in your my future this week, but ideally you would have cued the Print Studio who breezily lets you choose from your Instagram account and easily select one of their amazing frames to ship. I particularly like their rustic Santa Cruz frames made from old barn siding, but their modern and traditional frames are gorgeous too. Effing Walgreens.

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Cheers! And good luck with all that last-minute panic!

Something More

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I’ve been a stay at home mom for the past 3 1/2 years.  It’s the only thing I ever wanted, but it’s a lot different than I imagined.  It’s not bad or disappointing, it’s just different.  I imagined a much more active life with more showers, cuter clothes, and better behaved children. I’m definitely the mom that started out devoting all of my time to my first born.  I wasn’t ever the mom that made my kid play alone ever.  Maybe it’s his personality, or maybe it’s his age, or maybe I trained him this way but 3 1/2 years later he is terrible at playing alone and I’m trying to teach him with very little success.  My second born, at 20 months is better at playing alone, but his attention span is quite short still at his age. My third born, coming in September will be all consuming for quite a while, but I’m imagining something more. I’m trying to figure out how to be at home with my kids, have them, play with them, do things for them and still have myself and my time.

The longer I cater to children the more thirsty I get for something more adult.  I don’t mean like a night out with the girls to just renew my grown up status or even a vacation without my kids.  Like something permanently more. Since I was a teenager I wanted a home accessories retail shop.  I always imagined someday it would happen, but it can’t be someday forever.  Eventually someday will turn into today right? That’s where I am now.  I want Today so badly!

I’m stuck because being a stay at home mom was my only plan.  Not a very good plan simply because I didn’t know my 30 year old self when I was 18.  I want all of the stay at home mom stuff with a little extra responsibility that doesn’t involve children.  I’m kind of sick of cleaning sticky stuff off the walls and pee off the floors.  I LOVE my children with all of my heart and leaving them, even for a few hours, can be difficult and heart breaking.  In the big picture though, it’s better for them if I do leave them sometimes.  Maybe more often than I do. But 3 1/2 years is a really long time when you’re talking about changing your daily routine.

I think about what it would be like to be a working mom, like 40+ hours per week and sorry, but no thank you. It has nothing to do with how my children would be cared for or anything like that, but I feel like I’ve got too much going on at home that would never get accomplished and the mess that we currently live in (that drives me insane on certain days) would be so much worse. My kids are really sweet and adorable, but total terrors and honestly, embarrassingly, I let them run completely wild. I’m starting to regret that and wondering how I can change that going forward. Part of me thinks that if I had a job (using the term very very loosely), I would bring more structure into our home.  Not every day would be a loosey goosey “what should we do today?” kind of day. I love being “free” to do basically whatever I want whenever I want, but how long can you spend your life going to Marshalls and Target and the playground?  How long can my children do the same thing?  What are they learning?  Well, they’re learning a lot for sure, but their horizons need to be expanded too.

I want my own business.  I want my own hours. I want a very very flexible schedule.  How does one accomplish that with 3 children, very little extra income, and the obvious need for child care?  Well, I started with direct sales.  Some call it network marketing.  I like to call myself an Independent Skin Care Consultant. I work with Rodan + Fields and I make money.  Some money.  Good extra money I guess, but I still want more.  It’s partially about the money, but more so about the actual activity that I’m doing.  I will never give up Rodan + Fields, but being an Independent Skin Care Consultant is not the same as surrounding myself with all things home decor.

Pretty and interesting decor pieces. Refurbished furniture. Beautiful chairs recovered in unexpected fabrics. Sure, I’d have clients but they’d be shoppers, not people who are afraid to paint their walls pink, but prefer a safer beige option. I don’t want to decorate your home, although it’s probably all I think about while I sit in your living room, but I do want to contribute to your decor with something unique you won’t find anywhere else. I want a place where people who make unique and interesting things can showcase their work.

Sure, there are options like actually opening a shop on the corner of Wisconsin and Main, but that requires regular hours, a large investment, and the sheer hope that somebody will walk by, come in, and actually buy something.  Risky!

There’s the all time crafters standby, Etsy.  Eh. I guess that’s how I feel about it.  While providing a place to sell, it’s not really giving me what I want. I want the store shelves decorated beautifully.  I want to stand behind the cash register.  I want the fun French cafe music. I don’t want to make everything I sell. I want to get out of the house to do it.

There are craft fairs.  I suppose you get a form of store shelves, but I feel like it’s overdone.  I feel like if you can’t get into the big ones in the area, the rest are just to stay busy.  Maybe sell something to the stay at home mom looking for something interesting to do with her kids for the day. I am her.  I do that.  I’ve never bought anything.

There are those bigger shops where you rent a space so it’s kind of like a permanent craft fair.  I did that once. Great idea for those people that are really about making their craft and want to leave it up to somebody else to sell it.  Just drop it off, display it, and get the hell outta there.  If I had a shop, I’d need people like that to stock my shelves, but I don’t want to be that person. It circles back to my first example that it’s still a permanent location that may or may not get business.

It can be compared to those that want to start their own business, but have a day job.  Just because I don’t have a job doesn’t make it any easier for me.  It’s still a challenge to give up what I currently know for something unknown, to spend money I’m not making, spend time working on it outside of my regular “work” hours, and hope that this thing takes off and doesn’t flop.

So, I have an idea.  It may be a crazy idea.  It may fizzle as I continue planning how to make my dream come true, but for now I’m excited. I must start somewhere though and so instead of starting to shop for inventory or old furniture pieces to refurbish I’m going to start with me.  I’m going to start with a 30-day challenge for myself.  Something that gets me to a little bit more of a functioning adult and less of a pajama wearing mommy who cleans her house and crawls around on the floor all day.  Stick with me as I talk about what my 30-day challenge will be and how I think it will make a huge difference in my life and my kids in a very short amount of time.

Coffee Cup

Laugh It Off

Coffee Cup

I get embarrassed easily. I get embarrassed when I catch myself muttering aloud when I’m home alone. I only dance when NO ONE is watching (or after 2.5 cocktails). I get uncomfortable when someone is standing in front of my favorite peanut butter in the grocery store. What to do? Hover behind them creepily? Come back later and hope they’re gone? Or horror of horrors, actually speak to them?

Luckily, now that I’m a mom, that self-consciousness has disappeared. Well, sort of. It’s still there. I just don’t have time to care about it now.

My first public Mom Mishap happened when my son was 5 months old. Just when I finally had my diaper bag situation in order (aka remembering to restock diapers/wipes, learning to keep a extra bottle/snack supply), I went out in public for a nice Saturday breakfast. In the 2 seconds after my husband left the table and I took my eyes off my amazing new baby, that baby reached out and dumped a full cup of ripping hot coffee on my lap. I was MORTIFIED…and completely unprepared for such disasters. I had 5 flimsy paper napkins, and wipes (not ideal for liquid spills). Coffee…everywhere…what…to…do…durrr…I think I went into shock.

I came to when another young mom approached me. “You look like you need some help!” She handed me a burp cloth and a fat stack of napkins. I sighed in relief. “Thank you so much!” Thank goodness for more experienced moms, I thought. It’s such a relief to know that I’ll get it together as he gets older.

Then I saw her tiny baby. It was younger than mine! She was a newbie too… just way more organized than I. Bummer. Maybe I’m just doomed to hot-messedness.

Last weekend, I was at the grocery store with my family. We had our usual Saturday breakfast, and I brought my coffee with me as we shopped. My son grabbed my coffee cup, but my slightly-more-experienced Mama Eagle Eye rescued the cup before disaster struck.

Or so I thought.

We headed toward the checkout lanes. I started to take a sip of my coffee, but nothing came out as I tilted it toward my mouth. By the time I realized that coffee was running down my hand, it was too late. The lid (which my son had expertly loosened just enough) popped off violently, soaking my entire front side in delicious, freshly roasted, organic/fair trade coffee.

Was I better prepared than I was 16 months ago? Not really. But was I mortified? Nope. It was hilarious!

But I did change my clothes when we got home.

Hang on to Your Youth

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I was at the car wash this morning because my little guy had decided to sleep longer than usual and my husband was working from home.  It was a peaceful morning consisting of a dropping my oldest off at school, a trip to the grocery store, and then the luxury car wash stop where I could scroll Facebook while my car washed (without feeling guilty).  As I pulled through to the dryers I sat and watched a guy parked by the vacuums, hand drying his truck.  He was young, my age, in his 30s I’d say.  He was the stereotypical young guy with some cash.  His truck was really big, really black, and really shiny.  I giggled as I watched him dry his chrome wheels and just thought for a second how I have never cared about anything other than having a rinsed off car without bird poop. I wondered where he found the time to care or bother with such things.  I dreamed for a second about what it might be like for him.  Maybe he’s single, or at the very least doesn’t have kids and cleaning his car is actually worth it because it stays clean. The chicks probably dig it, I guess.  I have no clue.  When I met my husband he was borrowing an old jeep from a friend because he didn’t even own a car.  The jeep didn’t have doors either.  And it was…yellow.  My favorite part was how he drove with his left foot hanging outside the jeep.  That was hot to me.  There was definitely no shine to the jeep and it was a total buzz kill when I found out it didn’t even belong to him.  I married him anyway though.

So, as I sat watching this guy and dreaming of childless days where priorities where a wee bit different a second guy caught my eye.  Very cute, small, well built man.  My age again.  Backwards cap, tight fitted flannel shirt, those Levi’s jeans from the Diet Coke commercials, and loosely laced tennis shoes.  The outfit said it all for me.  Hanging on to his youth, possibly by a thread as he also dried the shit out of his car.  He looked like he was working hard.  He looked like he cared about what he was doing.  I saw him glimpse at the man with the big shiny penis enlarging black truck and for that split second I could see into his soul.  It was really a split second, but there was a moment.  A moment of envy.  The same feeling I had for a moment.  I was thinking about the time to do something for myself that I truly cared about.  To have it just the way I liked it without anyone messing it up.  He was probably thinking ‘lucky bastard’ or something to that effect as he went back to drying the shit out of his 2000 navy blue Dodge Grand Caravan. That van likely carries more than one child and he’s likely in charge of getting them wherever they need to go.  Maybe he doesn’t work (because it’s 9am on a Thursday) and all this guy’s got at this point is his tight jeans and clean van.

I laughed.  I giggled.  I smiled all the way home.  I get it man!  I totally get it!