MERRY FUCKING CHRISTMAS: EPISODE FOUR

Holy fuck you guys. It’s fucking Christmas time all fucking ready.

Can you fucking believe that?

OH MY GOD IT FEELS GOOD TO SAY FUCK so much again.

If you kindly follow my blog you may have noticed I haven’t written anything since… June-ish or so. I promise you it’s not because I didn’t have anything to say. I have ALL THE THINGS TO SAY. It’s because I’ve been up to my MOTHER FUCKING EYEBALLS in parenting, work, other work, some other work, and some more work after that.

Sigh. More on that later. Continue reading

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RAW

There’s something about that third baby that unravels you.

Maybe it’s the sheer exhaustion of having three kids to raise. Maybe it’s knowing what’s ahead and what’s behind and what that means for the right now.  Maybe it’s just because it has to be for you to survive.

Or maybe, for me, it’s just because I’ve changed that much between two and three. I had nearly nine years to recreate my life after all. Maybe I just did a better job this time.

Maybe I’m more prepared, or maybe I’ve just accepted how difficult this part is.

This baby has softened my edges and stretched my perceptions, my roles, and pushed me to hit a reset button, again, but harder.    Continue reading

MERRY FUCKING CHRISTMAS: EPISODE THREE

So, my calendar told me it’s December. And you know what people do in December? They write Holiday letters to people to tell them about all the things they did that year that they already shared on social media. And then they pay to mail the cards to people, with a sweet family photo, like this one:

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Doesn’t my hair look great? I mean, uh, aren’t we the cutest?

Barf.

But you know, it’s not my style to give you the curated version of our lives, because: 1) nobody likes a fibber, b) people need more authenticity in their newsfeeds and their lives and iii) our day to day is much, much more entertaining than any story I could actually make up.

So, without shame or restraint, I offer:

MERRY FUCKING CHRISTMAS: EPISODE THREE.

Dear Friends, Family, and People That Don’t Fit In Either Category; Continue reading

MAMA DON’T (SHARE)

Yesterday, Sunday, I found out that my son had his first cub scouts meeting on Wednesday.

Like, five days ago Wednesday.

And I just found out about it.

FUCK.

Now, I know I’m busy, and I sometimes forget things, like, say, my own lunch, but I don’t forget shit like my son’s first cub scout meeting.

Nope.

Because he’s my son. Mine. My child. And his sister? Also MY child. My job. Me. I handle all the kid things. ME. I do them. By my damn self.

Except now I don’t.  

I’ve had an ex-husband for over five years, and for most of that I was rolling 100% solo. There was no co-parenting, no shared decision making. Just one chair filled at parent-teacher conferences, just one seat in the stands at the soccer game. Just me, and my kids. Continue reading

ALL THESE SMALL THINGS

You know what hurts more than stepping barefoot on a lego? Stepping barefoot on TWO legos. No- it’s barbie shoes- evil plastic particles that they are. Wait, nope, actually, I think it might possibly be barefoot on metal toy airplanes. Yes, That. They draw blood even so for sure that wins.

Guess what sucks more than a rainbow loom bracelet in the washing machine? A rainbow loom bracelet in bathtub drain (yeah. Just try to snake that mass out. Good luck.).

Know what’s better than playing the “matching game” with lids, markers,  and crayon halves? Markers that work. Crayons still intact in their original (singular, and wrapped) state.  Oh, and a pad of paper that DOESN’T have exactly one line drawn, dead center, on every page.

Consider also the fact that I am 99.99% sure that the following things all move faster than my son when asked to return his toys to their designated homes, put away his laundry or, gasp, get dressed:

  1. molasses in january
  2. turtles walking backwards
  3. runoff from the polar ice caps

Ya’ feeling me?

I am so.over.this.bullshit.

ENOUGH WITH THE STUFF!

My children, God bless them, have: a) more toys than they have space to contain b) a total lack of understanding of the direct correlation between the care and status of their belongings, and, unfortunately (for them), c) a mother who believes in the general approach of  “a place for everything and everything in its place.

This trifecta of facts creates quite the catalyst for contentious debate in this household. A real surprise, I realize. #spoileralert.

Beyond my giant dislike for clutter, my kinda sorta love affair with baskets and labels, major obsession with affinity for creating and maintaining creative, beautiful and useful spaces, I have been slowly working on shifting our life from one filled with “stuff” to one filled with experiences.

This means that in addition to offloading material possessions, one small kitchen appliance/pair of $200 jeans/leather club chair at time, I have also been busy building a different repository.

We have been working on developing an attitude of gratitude since December (see here); as well as living every day, to the best of our abilities, to the maximum level of awesome.

Seriously. We are rarely home (yet- yes, they still manage to tornado their bedroom in the the small amount of time we are there. Sigh. More on this later) because we are busy making memories, being silly or exercising together, spending time with our friends and family far and wide and exploring the beautiful world around us.

My kids are learning great new habits, seeing new perspectives and developing a more healthy understanding of the value (or lack thereof) of material stuff.

It’s not perfect. We’re not “minimalists” by any stretch of the imagination, but we’re creating a healthy balance with small steps. Our paradigm is slowly shifting.

We are learning that less is more. Truly

We downsized our home even, three times, from 3000 sq ft, to 1800, to… 800. Why? Because we don’t need a bunch of empty unused space. Is it ideal? No. There are days I miss having a dining room, or a kids play area, or a big kitchen, but lucky for me, I have friends that do. Great friends. Friends I would travel to the ends of the earth and back for in a heartbeat. And those friendships are something worth keeping. That, is a collection of value.

As much as I love, love, love my suede turquoise heels, those beauties are not gonna ride with me when my soul leaves this earth. Bad news for Cole Haan, good news for me.

At the end of our lives, we will remember our experiences, the people who shared them with us, and the way we felt. Let us devote our our time, energy, and well, money, to building things that are sustainable, lasting and genuniely valuable. Costco might miss you, but your friends won’t.

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CLOSING TIME

I made a tough trip last week; a nine hour round trip drive to say goodbye to someone truly wonderful whom I love dearly. Someone who had a tremendous impact on my life and the way in which I interact with others. Someone who taught me grace, and humility, and above all, love.

My Grandma June, whose spirit, acceptance, and kindness I felt from the very minute we met, is gone.

That was a moment I’ll never forget, the day I met her.

It was late spring in 1986, and I was getting to know the family of my Dad-to-be.  I was pretty stoked to meet this lady, even in my youthful innocence, because my Dad is a pretty awesome guy. Like, if I could go to the Dad Store and pick out a Pop, I’d pick him, hands-down, every time. So, in my five year old head I figured she must be pretty amazing too, you know? Seemed logical to me. Still does, actually.

In any case, I remember being there, in her house up on the hilltop, its grand windows framing the commanding beauty of the green valley below and the blue mountains beyond.  I was crouched behind the boxy tweed couch, playing in a giant toy box full of treasures she kept there to entertain all six of her (current) grandchildren, already feeling myself at home as I tinkered.

I can recall clearly my dad entering the room, his long strides carrying him across the floor before he knelt down beside me. I remember our introduction, and I can envision my big smile as I looked up to see her, my joy at the occasion obvious. Those things I can see. But, almost thirty years later, I can still feel, in my heart of hearts, the giant hug she gave me; her warmth still lingers.  And my ears? They still ring with her first words to me, “It’s great to meet you, call me Grandma June.”

I’ve never known her as anything else since then.

This was a woman who embraced me, fully and with open arms, from the get go, no questions asked. I was never treated as a step-grandchild or in any way as less of “real” family member. I was just her Granddaughter and she was just my Grandmother.

I delighted in her company. I marveled over her sparkling silverware, her shiny china, her delicate teacups. I listed to her stories of moving to Alaska before it was a state, spending dark and frigid days working in a dry cleaning shop while my Grandfather built his business. I laughed at her tales of international adventure with her best friend Jane. Jane and June, best friends for life. What an inspiration they were, those ladies, independently traveling the world well into their eighties.

I spent summer days and nights traipsing through her house with my cousins, lounging in the depths of the giant orange flowered couch cushions watching “satellite t.v.,” (which, when you grow up on a farm in the middle of nowhere is quite a luxury, let me tell you), and spending hours upon hours learning card tricks on the pea green carpet that cloaked her massive living room floor. I recall nearly every holiday seated around her dining room table enjoying home cooked meals and learning which fork to use, and when. No matter how many people came Grandma always had a seat for everyone, even if it meant she had to wait to eat.

I cannot remember my childhood without her. She was always there, always. Feeding a crowd, taking my cousins and I shopping, dropping my friends and I off at the river for a day of inner tubing, loading a crew of kids in the back of her pickup truck to go into town for ice cream. She was always ready. Always smiling. Always love.

Over the years although I moved away I would visit every few months, and make a point to see her. To visit with her, to hear more stories, to share more smiles, to give more love. She would make me eggs and coffee each morning, despite my protest that I was happy to make my own breakfast. And the toast. Oh, the toast. White “Lumberjack” brand bread buttered just right. There was something so perfect about it; to this day nobody makes toast quite like that, perhaps because all others lack her secret ingredient of love.  Each time I left she would thank me for visiting, but really, I was the lucky one, getting to spend that time with her, what a gift.

At the end of my life, I can only hope to be known in this way by my friends and family. I want to be remembered as she is. As good, and kind, and generous. I want the people in my life to know, with that same steadfast knowledge and security, that I love them, so very much.

I have written about this before, about the legacy I’m leaving for my children. This is yet another reminder, another lesson from the universe to live, and to live well.

What lessons am I offering my progeny? What memories am I creating for them? When they grow older and have children of their own, what stories will they tell of me? What will they say I taught them? What will they say they remember doing with me, for me, and because of me?

What kind of imprint am I making?

I may never know the exact answer, but I know for certain that this powerful premise impacts my day, every day, all day. Who am I to them is the sum of my words, my actions, my habits, attitudes and beliefs. It is the example by which I lead, not that of which I speak, that they will carry forward.

Of Grandma June, I remember only good. Only love. Only happy.

If, when my time on earth is over, I have lived as she lived, with such profound value and admirable action, then I will have done well. The world benefitted from having a woman like June Sweezey in it. My life, and the lives of so many others, are better, because of her.

Life is short my friends. Be amazing. Live joyfully. Live kindly. Give love, receive love, be love. Live today as if it’s the day you’ll be remembered, because it just might be.

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LEARNING TO FLY (SOLO)

Oh holy day. Oh, holy, holy day.

Let me just say, ahem, I sure do I know how to bring in the Holy day with the Spirit, in uh, all sense of the word.

Confused? Let me rationalize explain.

Easter is a consecration of rebirth,  which is like commemorating life, which is like like. . . offering reverence for our plentiful harvest and abundant food supply, right? And our ability to eat it since we are so healthy, and strong, and shit like that. Yes?  I hope so, because um . . . well . . . if our bodies, rather than requiring regular caloric input, were capable of storing food for extended periods of time to slowly release energy, then after yesterday I would basically not need to eat again until, say, next year.

In sum, yesterday I was grateful for the blessings in my life- my family, my friends, and elastic-waisted clothing.

Speaking of family, there are certain places and things that just scream “KIDS.” You know, playgrounds, theme parks, the backseat of my car. . . They just don’t feel “right” without small humans nearby. For me, at least for the past nine-ish years, holidays are one of those things.

Since having become a mother way back in 2005 when Grey’s Anatomy was in its pilot season and Martha hadn’t yet worn stripes, I’ve had only a few holidays without my children, (yesterday being one of them).  And, as you may expect, spending festivities without those minions is quite a different experience. However, by different, I don’t necessarily mean bad. There are several ways to ensure this day turns into a real celebration, and I don’t mean for pity, party of one.

Solo Holidays: How to HANDLE IT like a Boss:

1.  Put on your big girl panties.

Go to grown up parties, events and other places that children are not invited, or, even better, not allowed.  Remember – you used to do this. You did. I swear. Maybe you’ve forgotten about all those overeating feasts you attended in your PK days.  Think back. Way back. Go all the way to Jennifer Aniston hair if it helps jog your memory, (not that I’m um, speaking from experience). Right? Got it? Friends without children. A sense of humor. The ability to eat warm meals, firsthand. You have those. Go use them.

2. Love Actually.

Make sure that love is all around you; surround yourself with the people you love (and um, who love you back, we are not talking about stalker behavior here). Do not, I repeat- DO NOT spend this day alone. If you do, most likely one or more of the following will happen:  a) on a scale of “apathetic” to “miserable” you will be near death, b) you will cry, and probably on floor in the bathroom, closet or hallway, and not in a proper place, like your bed or the couch, that would be too sensible and predictable. c) it will feel like the longest day in the history of time, d) you will call your children forty-five times, e) you will overindulge in food, “beverages,” exercise or whatever your coping mechanism is and probably do something stupid. This is yet another reason why the friend component is critical- stupid things are way more fun when together, and on film. For posterity or something.

3. Pack It Up.

Take a vacation, even if it’s just a day trip. Traveling during the holidays without children is badass. That mom searching desperately for her child’s lost lovey at airport security? That’s not you. The dad carrying a kid piggyback while lifting three carry-on’s in front of him? That’s not you either. Smile at them. Be sympathetic. Offer help if you are so inclined. Then pop in your headphones and fly like an eagle, baby.

 

4. Go Day Drinking.

Just kidding. This can be Day Anything, actually, because you don’t have your kids so . . . while your level of sobriety can decrease, uh, significantly, if you’d like it to, really, today the world is your oyster. Want to go out for a fancy meal? Do it. Go to a non-animated movie? All you. Easter Wine Walk? Yes please. Christmas Eve Pub Crawl? Hellllllooooo Santa Suit.  Get creative, do something you really can’t do without your kids. Cross something off your bucket list.  Make the day special for you.

5. Pre-Party

Celebrate with your kids before, not after. BEFORE. Why? So you can relax silly. If you plan to have the holiday with your small peeps after the “real” day you’ll spend the whole time wrapped up in preparations for when they return rather than enjoying your (brief) reprieve from parental duty. Seriously, does this really need an explanation?

Wishing you all luck in your adventures.

Namaste, Amen, La Heim and Salud, or whatever floats your metaphorical boat.

yolo

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MOTHER OF THE YEAR

#MOMFAILS

10 Ways You Really Know You’re Doing It Right

1.  Walk your kids to school and a half block away realize that your son is wearing his sister’s shirt (backwards), your daughter’s socks don’t match and neither of them have brushed their hair. Step ever so casually into the nearest driveway, use your own ponytail holder to do the hair of Thing One, use the saliva smoothing technique on Thing Two, give the t-shirt a mini makeover and tell your girl to rock those socks like it’s 1999. Also, remind self that perhaps a full body scan of all family members might be in order before leaving the house tomorrow. . . seeing as you, yourself, actually have now walked two blocks in public wearing flip flops, yoga pants and a workout tank that says “Skinny Fit Bitch.” #stayclassysandiego

2. Locate your son’s homework. In the recycle bin. On the street. While wearing your pajamas. 30 seconds before the waste management guy (who totally digs your jams, btw) picks it up. Realize after he leaves that you are now holding last week’s work. This week’s work is actually in the backseat of the car, with the fifteen jackets that are also currently labeled as “lost.”

3.  Sign a permission slip, printing your cell number in the box that says “address” and your signature on the line that says “medical conditions.” Laugh hysterically at this freudian slip. Turn it in (late) and have it returned to you, crumpled at the bottom of a backpack, with this section highlighted in silent passive aggressive mockery: “Please include the [ridiculously overpriced] fee of $25 for the [super low budget] play with permission slip.” Oops.

4. Pack everyone a healthy lunch the night before. The next day, open your superman lunchbox at noon- WAIT- SUPERMAN lunchbox? Shitballs. Cross your fingers that your son is really enjoying the broccoli slaw and tuna with a side of celery and sliced apples that are (hopefully??) in his possession. Realize he is your kid and is most likely chowing down on the byproducts and preservatives gilding the styrofoam trays in the school cafeteria while your nutritionally balanced meal ferments in the depths of his backpack. Consider driving to school to swap out meals, then stare at peanut butter sandwich housed by superman and his rippled abs. Decide if said hero can eat it, you can too. Enjoy every.last.piece of that bread.

5. Make gluten and dairy free high protein waffles from scratch. Process includes grinding your own nut and coconut flours and making “syrup” from a berry reduction. Take one bite and realize no one under the age of 30 would eat this shit. Serve each kid one waffle with a heaping scoop of vanilla ice cream on top drizzled with chocolate sauce and covered with walnuts (for more protein, obviously). Be remembered as the Coolest Mom Ever for the history of time. Also be regularly reminded of “that one time you gave us waffles with ice cream on top?” and begged “could you please do that again?”

6. Finish (current) laundry assignments. High five yourself. Struggle to put on yoga pants that appear to have shrunken in the wash. Sigh. Resolve to eat less bread today. Observe your eight year old strutting around the house in lulu’s. Wonder to self when the hell someone bought that kid $80 exercise pants. Have a sip of coffee. Come to senses and figure out what’s actually going down here.  Peel Remove daughters leggings from your large behind.  In total relief, reward self for discovery with a bagel. And cream cheese.

7.  Get up extra early, have everyone ready on time, dressed, teeth clean, hair brushed, clothes matching. Do a happy dance. Take kids to school, remarking how empty the parking lot appears to be. Wonder why the doors are locked. Look at calendar, realize it’s Saturday. High five both kids and do a little warm and cool feedback session on the successful “practice run” for Monday. Take beautifully groomed family to the nearest restaurant in walking distance serving bottomless mimosas and giant pancakes. Enjoy the benefit of a vast array of open seating options available at 8:30am on a Saturday in Midtown.  Take an ultimate selfie with the wait staff to document this one time you were all well dressed and behaving in public. Frame that shit.

8. Take kids to the great outdoors for an overnight. Pack half the house in the car. Successfully set up camp by yourself, including giant air mattress that you are all, ever so cozily, going to share. Go to bed, gazing up at the stars shining through the opening at the top of the tent. Forget names and stories of all constellations (except the Big Dipper) and offer nomenclature inspired by Disney characters instead. Try to go to sleep. Realize all of the following actions make the mattress (and thereby all three of you) move: a) tossing, b) turning, or c) BREATHING. Recall that your Swiss Army Knife of a car is never sans yoga mats. Grab them and set up both (whining) kids to either side of you. Sigh with relief and enjoy the wide open space that is your exclusive queen pillow of air. Wake up to a sore back from the matress that went flat due to your apparent lack of ability to tighten the plug, and also to rain, falling through the opening of the tent, that is NOT covered with a rain fly. . .

9.  Take kids to an indoor trampoline center on a rainy day to get their wiggles out. Decide this will be a great way for you to exercise too. Pay $50 to bounce for one hour. Jump with kids for three minutes. Use the bathroom. Jump for another minute. Use the bathroom again. Make it for thirty seconds, then realize that yes, your bladder is THAT pathetic and drag eye rolling children back to the ladies room, otra vez.   Lock eyes with another mother in the same (dire) situation. Become BFF’s. Tag team jumping and potty duty for the remaining 45 minutes of the slow and fiery death of your quads. Remind yourself to wear opaque black pants next time.

10. Sign kids up for youth sports. Spend most of your paycheck on registration and gear. Wait four months for the season to start. Exchange half of gear because it no longer fits. Attend first practice. Watch child pick daisies and trip over own feet. Shuttle children across town to next practice, listening to child Two complaining that child One “has a snack and he doesn’t.”  Sit with child One while child Two practices. Hear fifteen times that the uniforms are red, just like like blood on her knee from falling down during practice. Watch child Two run away from coach and hit other children. Sheepishly schlep home. Go online and request a refund for both sports, oxy clean the shit out of the gear, return it, and use the money to sign both kids up for swim lessons where their success is more dependent on the laws of physics and less influenced by safety hazards like grass. And flowers. And moving objects.

Cheers to adventures in parenting!

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Like this post? Post it, tweet it, pin it, google it, trip on it, or otherwise spread the social love people.Really, really, like it? Subscribe to my feed and get posts delivered in your inbox.Can’t get enough? Stalk me: @CFOLikeaMother, Facebook or Pinterest