Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Fifteen Candles

A couple of weeks ago my husband was driving us home from some sporting event that one of my kids was involved in (don’t ask me who it was or what kind it was; after a while they all sort of morph in my brain into one giant SPORTS fusion) and I was on my phone poking around, as any ill-mannered auto passenger is wont to do1.

[“Wont to do” is one of those old-timey phrases that annoyingly pops into my head instead of a more modern wording of the same idea. Also see “champing at the bit2”.]

I feel I should mention that doing anything other than talking to the driver while you’re a passenger in a car is R-U-D-E rude. It’s right up there with sleeping, or insisting on turning up the radio when your favorite song comes on. By the way, I do both of these things, too.

Anyway, while I was being rude to my husband by ignoring him and surfing the internet waves instead, I spied a wonderful advertisement which announced that my favorite scented candles were on sale FOR ONE DAY ONLY for Less Than Half Of The Regular Retail Price!!! Soon after reading the ad, I watched a friend’s video featuring a shopping frenzy related to This Amazing Sale and at once I felt called to be a part of it.

And then I immediately complained to my husband that I was going to be missing the sale because we were trouncing around the countryside all day to watch kids play sportsball.

So I did the next logical thing: taking advantage of my misappropriated downtime, I shopped online.

“Limit of 15,” the website read. I sneered – how dare they limit my shopping power?!? – and promptly ordered 15 candles. That’s fifteen, with a ten and a five. Fifteen three-wick candles of dubious scent combinations. Would they compliment the natural aromas of my household? Would they please guests? Overpower nostrils? Leave perfume migraines in their wake? For 8-10 business days, we wouldn’t know. It didn’t matter. I got mine.

Fifteen candles ordered, three weeks before Christmas. I will argue that I got a screaming deal on these candles, because I can burn through two of them in a given week, an expensive habit. I will argue that because they were on sale I saved a ton of cash. I will argue that it’s Christmas, otherwise known as Treat Yo’ Self season.

But the truth is that I bought them because it was easy.

My fifteen candles came in a big heavy box yesterday, big enough to warrant having to create a storage spot in my house to accommodate it. As I stared at the box and wondered where the heck it would go, I mused that, ten years ago, it wouldn’t have occurred to me to buy fifteen candles at a pop. I would have been in the car, turning up the radio to sing along to Andy Williams on the Christmas station, or boring my family with a monologue about old-timey phrases that should be brought back into the lexicon, or sleeping. Ten years ago, it wouldn’t have been as easy to shop online while cruising at 70 mph, asking my fellow hapless travelers what they think a blend of cypress and vetiver smells like.

Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have been teaching my kids how to be a bad auto passenger as well as a spendthrift. I wouldn’t have been staring at a box as big as a microwave ten days later, trying to think where I would stash it. I wouldn’t have been kicking myself for spending all that extra money on stupid stuff like candles. For myself. At Christmas.

Fifteen candles is a lot of candles.  

1adj. accustomed; used (usually followed by an infinitive): He was wont to rise at dawn.
Also: an annoying habit.

2v. to betray impatience, as to begin some action.
Also: to be up someone’s butt with your needs.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Year 18

Eighteen years ago, my husband and I were wed.
In honor of our anniversary, we decided to force our children to watch our wedding video.

Celebrating 18 years of his hand on my butt.

He called on his way home from work to tell me what time he’d be home, like he does every day that he’s not traveling for work. His timing has always been impeccable in that he unfailingly chooses the very worst moments of the day to ring. Today was no better, but at least I wasn’t elbow-deep in a raw chicken or finishing up in the bathroom or any number of two-hands-needed activities that I’ve been in the middle of doing when he calls. Usually his ETA information is in hours and minutes, coupled with “I meant to leave earlier” or “Traffic is crazy, I thought I’d be home an hour ago” or “I was on my way out when the phone rang/someone came into the office for a chat/a gorilla was standing outside the building and I had to wait until he was gone to leave.”

And whatever time he says he’ll be home, I add twenty minutes.

He adds, “I’ll see you soon. Hey, I didn’t get you anything for our anniversary.”

I exhaled, relieved. He’s the gift-giver between us; I struggle with this aspect of human decency. I don’t really care about gifts. He’s still waiting for a Father’s Day 2015 gift that I promised and then sort of… just didn’t buy. It’s been a problem over the years.

“Yeah, me either.”

“I didn’t even get you a card.”

“Me either. It’s okay, jeez. Being together is the gift that keeps on giving, right?”

He laughs heartily. A little too into the joke, I think – but whatever.

I continue with the low expectations: “And I didn’t make anything special for dinner, either. We have leftover beef stroganoff and salad that needs to be used up. You’d die if you knew all the food I threw out today.” I’m projecting; he doesn’t really care about throwing food away, but I do, and it makes me feel better to say it. “The kids are both home, so we’ll wait for you to eat our leftover beef noodles and old salad together, and then I thought we’d make the kids watch our wedding video with us.” It was a great plan, and I knew he’d love it.

“That sounds fantastic. I can’t wait.”

He wasn’t joking. The man never turns down an opportunity to relive good times. He used to haul out his high school football videos to watch as entertainment when we were dating. I remember those naps as particularly restorative.

I put out a glass for him and poured myself a glass of cheap cabernet, and when he got home I plated and nuked the beef and made my famous garlic bread from some Texas Toast that had been languishing in the pantry. We toasted our anniversary and after dinner, tasked the kids with dish duty and locating the wedding DVD, and while we waited for them to finish, he and I drank wine and reminisced about our wedding day and our notorious wedding reception, every sweet and sordid detail captured on video.

You see, my husband and I, in a bit of poor planning, exited our wedding reception a couple of hours before it ended to stay closer to the airport to catch our early-morning honeymoon flight. We missed a generous portion of the reception activities, which, after the requisite garter and bouquet toss, various forced couple dances, and cake cutting, devolved into an unholy mess, and kind of an awesome party.

Side note: We had an open bar at our wedding reception.

Soon after our honeymoon, the videographer sent us hours of raw footage from the wedding day. He included in the package a form on which we could jot down anything that we wanted omitted from the final edited DVD of our special day: an embarrassing moment, a sloppy best wishes interview, or anything questionable of taste or character on the part of us or our guests.

After watching those hours of footage back then, I specifically remember, after wiping away tears of mirth and disbelief over what we had just witnessed through the lens of what had to be one of the top ten best days of our videographer’s career, looking at each other and saying “Wow, our guests sure had fun after we left. Eh, they won’t put any of that crazy stuff on the DVD. It's our wedding video!”

And we threw away that form.

Short story: Our wedding video is comprised of nothing BUT that crazy stuff.

So naturally we wanted to share it with our children.

Turns out that our kids eagerly settled in with us to watch the official celebration of the beginning of our family, prompting comments and questions, from our son asking if my hair was in cornrows (it wasn’t) to our daughter asking if me and two of my bridesmaids got our between-the-shoulder blades tattoos together (we didn’t). We all agreed that the button-tuxedo look was a little dated but hope that the look comes back. We oohed and ahhed at how cute (and young!) relatives and friends were all those years ago. I found that, unlike prior viewings, I cared less that I stuttered during my vows and winced less that we asked my sister-in-law to read an excerpt from The Little Prince instead of the more common religious text, for Pete’s sake. I teared up – again – at watching my dad and me dance together, and we all got quiet when seeing the images of our grandparents and other guests who are no longer with us.

And we laughed and loved watching how much fun our guests had at our wedding party, questionable behavior and all.

I read that the traditional gift for the 18th year of marriage is appliances, but I think that leftovers and wedding video watching with your teenagers is just as good.

Actually, it just might be the best way to celebrate an anniversary.

Matthew 19:4-5 "Have you not read that he who created them ... said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?"
It says "hold fast to his wife." THIS IS MY ENTIRE LIFE YOU GUYS

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Here’s To The Moms

The past couple of years while I have been largely silent on this blog, I have become blazingly, blatantly homesick – sentimental, even, which I said I’d never be – about my kids.

Not that they’ve gone anywhere, oh no no no. They are still most decidedly living in this house, eating the food that I prepare and making a mess of the floors that I just cleaned and filling the laundry baskets with their blazingly and blatantly smelly, dirty clothing.


They’re growing up, up, and away. Separating from our family. Leaving to explore their own lives, one sleepover and movie and shopping trip and high school football game-turned-post-game-get-together-at-Applebee’s at a time. Today it’s a day at the pumpkin patch with friends; tomorrow it will be a semester at college.

This is how fast time goes. I’ve been sucking the life out of this time, savoring every second. All those old parents who said “Enjoy it, it goes by so fast!” – they were right. I knew they had to be right, because they all said it, all the time. But this time – these not enough years – this is the shortest kid phase ever.

I’ve got a handle on it now, although last year was a tough one. It took a year for me to accept that this is happening, that my kids are approaching the launch phase, the one that I spent so many years prepping for. I mourned, friends. I mourned hard.

And something else happened.  The other day, as I chatted with the mother of a friend of my daughter’s, the realization washed over me that not only am I already homesick over my kids leaving, I am becoming sentimental over another group of people who have been by my side all these years.

My fellow moms.

Moms of the peers of my kids who raised their children alongside mine. The ones who sat in front of me at kindergarten orientation, whose children I clapped for at elementary orchestra and band concerts. Women who might not know my name but who say hello at Back-To-School night, who I’ve waved to countless times in the school parking lot, who sit next to me on hard bleachers at sporting events, who are members of the same school Facebook groups. The ones at the grocery store and Target that I ask “Do you know if early dismissal is Wednesday or Thursday?”

I will miss these moms when all of our kids are gone. Some of them I’ve known since our kids’ preschool years. They are my people and I am theirs. We share the history of our kids’ childhoods. When the childhoods are over, this era ends.

After my tenth high school reunion I had this same feeling, the awareness that the adults around me were people who knew me when I had angst, innocence, and acne. Together we shared first heartbreaks and rebellious behaviors and intoxicating teenage freedom. At the time, I didn’t expect this overwhelming feeling of knowing others and being known. Nostalgia was masked that evening by information-sharing: who had kids and who didn’t, finding out where people lived and what they did for a living (this was before social media took over the world, when seeing people for the first time in ten years was a novelty). It came later, when I reflected on my classmates and who they are now, and I marveled that they knew me when. There’s a comfort in knowing that your life came together with a generation of others.

Moms of your kids’ peers know you and they know your kids, sometimes very early on. They are the ones in the crowd who lend your kid a cellphone to call home when you are late for pickup, to lend a needle and thread, a tissue, a Band-Aid. Over the years they care for you and your kids as you care for them and theirs. They are your village.

When our kids are gone, if we aren’t already friends, I won’t see much of my fellow moms anymore. Not anywhere other than the grocery store or Target, anyway. There will be no dismissal times to ask about, no more school Facebook groups needed to swap ideas and information.

I miss them already, too.


Thursday, October 5, 2017

I’m Going To Vomit

Now that my kids are older and can manage their own activities and I no longer have to worry about meeting them at the front door after a busy school day with a sandwich and a glass of milk, I have loads of free time to neglect housework find a job day drink get together with friends. So when a friend asked if I wanted to meet her and another friend in the city, I said Yes ma’am, the world is our oyster, and will there be food involved.

We decided to meet at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, aka the Mütter Museum. If you’re not from the Philadelphia area you may not have heard about it, despite the gross-out and horror movie-level reputation of its contents.

You see, kids, the Mütter is a medical museum that houses all sorts of biological pathologies, from the largest skeleton to The Soap Lady to a huge colon filled with 40 pounds of feces. The term “wet specimen” is used heavily here. There are brains and tumors and amputated toes in jars, oh my.

Slices of Einstein’s brain. Dessicated hands and feet. Real and fake shrunken heads, with DIY instructions. A wall of realistic wax models of all the bad things that can happen to an eyeball. We’re talking eye-dripping-with-pus after eye-with-a-piece-of-metal-stuck-in-it after eye-being-pushed-out-of-the-socket-from-a-tumor here, people. It’s revolting, yet hilarious, and not just because both of my eyeballs are presently intact.

You see, I am not a medical professional, nor do I have aspirations of being one. Also, I learned that day, nor do I possess even the smallest level of sensitivity to displays of graphic medical abnormalities.

Nor do my friends, evidently, because we gaped, gagged, giggled and guffawed our way through the Mütter amidst serious med students and people on dates and quite possibly others who were just trying to keep from hurling.

This place is Capital G Gross.

It is also fun, we discovered as we perused the wall of skeleton heads (or if you’re fancy: skulls). We giggled at the descriptions offered of the people they once belonged to. Some informed lifestyle and specific medical disorder suffered, and some merely gave causes of death, but other descriptors were hilariously left up to the imagination of the observer. I found the straightforward explanation “Gypsy” pretty funny but joined my friends in gasping back tears of laughter when confronted with a bonehead labeled – simply – “Idiot.”

Which is description enough for cause of death, am I right or am I right?

Once we got the skull rolling, everything we looked at was found hilarious. It was only mildly annoying.

As I banged open the
drawers that contained a collection of  junk people swallowed (OMG why so many safety pins? What kind of witch doctor saves this crap?), my friends ogled a 70-pound ovarian cyst and ruminated on the logistics of how a pair of conjoined twins fathered over 20 children. Our commentary was ceaseless. The mega-colon removed from the unfortunate soul who died of constipation served as a grim reminder to the assemblage to “eat more fiber and drink your water, kids.”

We were ignored. We couldn’t believe nobody else was as immature awed as we were regarding these medical marvels. Drinking lots of water is just sound medical advice.

One of my friends openly pointed out that tuberculosis was bad news all around, and I remarked that all the curved spines made my back hurt. Our other friend was still worrying over those conjoined twins, who married sisters.

By the time we got to the diseased reproductive organs, we had lost all control and it was time to leave. We sternly warned each other to run if one day your husband’s penis turns up looking like that, and finally agreed, after all evidence presented, that syphilis is to be avoided at all costs.

As we were discharged into the gift shop, we thoughtfully took the time to sign the guest book and thank the Mütter for an informative afternoon, along with previous museum attendees who had helpfully sketched some of their own anatomically interesting offerings.

I was glad to see that we were in good company in our hilarity, even if we weren’t overtly appreciated by our fellow museum-goers. Because darn it all, bodies are amazing. And funny. And so, so disgusting.

Death by delirium tremens, LOL.


Monday, September 18, 2017


I did yoga today for the first time in years and now I can’t lift my arms.  

I feel like I’m always starting yoga up again. Yoga’s my thing, too, my favorite method of exercise. If I love it so much, the fact that I regular drift away to warrant a first time in years scenario is a problem. Why is sticking with yoga such a problem?

It could be because I like to lift my arms.

I could say that I’ve drifted away from yoga because of the strain this form of exercise puts on my wrists; I have virtually no wrist muscles. I’ve analyzed images of wrist anatomy and I am assured they are there, but maybe mine were designed less for supporting the weight of my body and more for activities like holding a book or swiping a credit card.

This wrist weakness leads to the ultimate frustration of not being able to support my full body weight on my hands like the other, more nimble yogis in my classes. This balancing act is a major part of every yoga class, and it’s beyond my level of expertise. Realistically the weight of my legs alone matches the weight of the petite crow-posing sprite on the mat next to me. The danger of losing control over my heft and crushing the innocent as I attempt to stick the flying pigeon is very real. I need to keep my center of balance low and connected to mother earth, for the safety of all involved.

On the other hand, I can tree pose for days, not unlike an actual *ahem* tree.

Anyway, I’ve been doing yoga off and on since I was 26 years old, an accomplishment that I was stunned to realize, and I feel like I should be better at it by now.

Or maybe not, considering that most of those years since 26 were “off” ones, some of those years saw more yoga-ish classes than actual, full-blown yogic centers of enlightenment that influence every facet of life, an authority that I think yoga should have if you claim to be into yoga, like Madonna or Gwyneth Paltrow. Who wouldn’t want a Gwyneth Paltrow-esque version of her own best meditative life?

I want it, and I want it now.

The plain truth is that I got out of the habit of practicing yoga, and I want back in but it’s hard, maddeningly, like anything worth doing. I have to get used to the idea that I am not going to be at the zenith of my yoga skills right out of the gate at this point in my life which is about four years after the last time I was into yoga. Yoga-ish, at that. I have to practice, practice, practice, until I can support the equivalent of a tree trunk on my bird-boned wrists.

Namaste. Sigh.


Wednesday, August 30, 2017


It was exactly one day after we had returned from vacation, and I had yelled so long and so loud that I went hoarse.

It started out calm, then escalated as my frustration rose against a child of mine who I perceived as knowing an expectation but was trying to weasel out of fulfilling it on a technicality.

Vague enough for you? It’ll have to do. Writing about teens isn’t the same as writing about toddlers.

The bottom line is that I lost it: my calm, my cool, my sh*t. I lost it. It came back around quickly, but not before I felt the old Guilt bubble to the surface. I haven’t felt that guilt that strongly in a while. Maybe a year, maybe two. It could be that my kids are too old for Mommy Guilt to play a major role in my life anymore, or maybe it’s just been there so long that it now only registers for mega-infractions like yelling myself hoarse and not because I bought white bread instead of whole grain.

In any case, I yelled and then I felt bad. I’m a better mom than that. I’m better than that. Did I mention that I also used the F word?

We were just back from a 2-week vacation, one in which we laughed and hugged and held hands and shared hotel bathrooms without much fanfare or mutual annoyance. We all behaved. We were the perfect American family on the perfect American vacation, road-tripping up the coast of California, seeing all the best tourist attractions and none of the worst. We said yes to souvenir t-shirts and appetizers and desserts. We saw mansions and took studio tours. We rode bikes and walked on the beach. We played cards. We went to an aquarium.

Not 24 hours home, and I was screaming the f-bomb at one of my children.

Is it this life? Is the pressure of keeping it up and everything in it straight too much for me to bear? Is life too hard, too fast, too much? It runs like a machine – shouldn’t it get easier? I’ve been doing this for so long – shouldn’t it get easier? My family is growing, able to take on more of their own responsibilities – shouldn’t it get easier? I’ve been an adult for longer than I haven’t been an adult – SHOULDN’T IT GET EASIER?

The raspy voice inside my head says “No. It should not get easier.”

None of it gets easier. I say it to my kids, remind my husband, and commiserate with friends. It will not get easier. Certain things that were hard before will fade away, but other things that are harder will fill the open spots. Kids not sleeping at night turn into teenagers staying out past curfew. Stealing “me” time becomes unnecessary; how to spend time productively becomes an issue. The heaviest worries, like whether we’ll always have what we need? Those never go away. New ones: health concerns, changing relationships, parents getting older, the loss of loved ones – they are real, and sudden, and demand attention.

And they aren’t made easier by me throwing temper tantrums and screaming swear words until I am hoarse, no more now than before.

Ah, this life. It rages on and on, no matter how we deal. There is no extra allowance for gracious acceptance. You get what you get, and you can try to make it wonderful, and sometimes your efforts fail. The only beauty is that you may have the chance to do better tomorrow. But even that is not guaranteed. The best thing to do is to make the best out of it all while you have it.

And to not beat yourself up for raging against it sometimes. If you’re lucky you’ll have people in your life who forgive you when you crack, and catch you when you fall.


Friday, March 31, 2017

Challenge Accepted

I never step away from a challenge.



I totally step away from a challenge, especially if the choice is easily made. It’s most apparent by my lack of competitive spirit, and why I never played sports. Every gym class scenario when I was growing up:

Me: Oh, you want the ball? Here. Have it. No really, have it. It’s just a ball. Hey, fighting over this is boring. Let’s sit down and relax. Do you believe in aliens? I mean, I don’t want to because they sort of scare me, but I also don’t want to be the one who gets abducted and isn’t prepared. On the other hand, what’re you gonna do if it happens? You know? Obviously I’m talking about probing. Do you think there’s cake in space?

Gym teachers hated me.

Many times I make life changes in order to cut down on the amount of work I have to do, actively deciding to do things based on how little work is in it for me. My husband would call this efficiency. I refer to it as laziness.

It’s a wonder that I had children. Or got married. Or went to school. Or have a house. Or a car. Or friends. Or siblings and parents. For some of my life experiences, I got lucky. For others, I was fully aware and made the best choice at the time. For a few, I was duped. For a couple more, the challenge was to adapt or die.

Here’s the thing: life is full of challenges no matter if you step around a few here or there or right into the middle of every single one of them. They are pervasive and there is no escape. No matter how carefully you have organized life to be as comfortable as possible, you can be sure that a new challenge is coming soon. It may come at you from afar in the form of aliens, or it may originate from within in the form of a fatty tumor.

I don’t really have a point with this. I guess all I'm saying is that while we may not always welcome challenges, they are there anyway, so man up and get in front to handle them like it’s your business, because you know what? It totally is. Good luck with your challenges. I’ll be here, eating cake and reading up on aliens.

And how much probing I should really expect.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Did She Really Say That?

Public speaking just isn’t my thing.

Now, I know what you’re going to say – there’s a support group for that. Or – practice makes perfect, you just have to do it more in order to get better! Or – me either, I’m introverted, dadgummit! I hear your eyes rolling.

Sidebar: introversion as a special problem is over. The entire internet is for introverts. It’s not so special. Let’s find something else to discuss.

Anyway, about public speaking: I’m no stranger to it. I’ve had to present information to groups, make speeches, give instructions to a crowd, pray, teach classes, and even act in a play before, and every time it’s just a disaster. I panicked and stuttered during my own wedding vows. Sometimes I’ll even go blank in conversations when I notice that someone is really listening to what I am saying.

When speaking publicly, I sometimes feel nauseated, experience heart palpitations, sweat profusely, and have ringing in my ears, among other pleasant symptoms. Later, I’ll replay the scenario over and over and cry into my pillow because of my cringeworthy uselessness.

For many years I’d balk at speaking in public when asked, and turn people down easily and graciously. It’s just a train wreck, I’d explain ever so nicely. You don’t want me up there. My incompetence will distract from the real message. I’m not your girl.

But then after a while, I noticed that people don’t care how stupid I am in public. I am my own worst enemy; most people don’t notice that I’m ridiculous, and if they do, they're either too embarrassed for me to mention it or else I’m making them feel better about their own inflated yet unquestionably mediocre ability to kill it onstage.

And I also realized that if I speak from the heart, and don’t worry so much about how I’m perceived – even if half the room thinks I’m terrible – who cares? Most people are too polite or don't care enough to tell a person that they stunk up the room, and by the way, I’m not accepting a Nobel prize, and most of the world doesn’t hear those speeches anyway because the people who win those prizes are a bunch of nerds.


So, with that in mind, I’m totally taking public speaking offers. Yes, you heard that right. For an exorbitant fee, of course. I still get the nervous sweats, and I’m not dealing with that for free.

So if you want someone to mess up your event with a lackluster and possibly embarrassing address (because not only do I tend to freeze up, but I may also swear and/or share inappropriately), I’m your girl.

If you need someone around to fill the seat at the table for someone who says wildly inappropriate things that distract everybody from real life, so that they go home and wonder “how drunk was she?” instead of lamenting their own poor choices, I’m there.

If you need someone to stand in front of a crowd and make them feel better about every single vulnerability they own because she is up there making a nincompoop of herself by forgetting what planet she hails from, call me.


Sure, sometimes my heart says weird and improper things, blanks on common words and phrases, forgets how to pronounce my own name, and drops whole storylines and directions of conversation, but hey, it’s my heart talking. I dare you to tell me my heart is wrong.

Seriously. I’m available.


This post inspired by:

Mama Kat's Writing Workshop

Prompt #4: Write a blog post inspired by the word: heart.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Eight Perfect Gifts for Anyone

Let it be known that I am not gifted at gifting.

I mean, I purchase things to give at the holidays and on birthdays and other important gift-giving events, but giving and receiving gifts is not really a source of joy for me.

And truthfully, sometimes I’m not that great at giving or receiving gifts on these big gift-giving events.

Exhibit A: The time I didn’t even think about buying a gift for someone and they lavished me with perfect gifts and I felt like Super Jerk.

Exhibits B-Z: All those other times that happened.

Let’s examine some other gift-giving catastrophes, shall we?
àOnce I got a gift for someone – something that they actually asked for – and they never used it.
àOnce I received a gift that I asked for but didn’t use.
àOnce I gave a gift that was too much/too little/inappropriate/and the recipient didn’t get it. 
àOnce I received a gift like that^^
àOnce I told someone I was going to get them a very specific gift and then I bailed out on it and didn’t get them anything and I will never hear the end of it until I die. 
àOnce I got a gift that I loved for an anonymous exchange and everybody in the room made fun of it and it took everything in me not to stomp out of the room crying.

Can’t we all just buy ourselves what we want? Or only give anonymously to people we don’t know so that we don’t have to watch them open the gifts we give and stress out about their reactions?

You guys, gifting stresses me out. There are so many variables, and only one precarious set provides a small sliver of positive outcome. You know, that perfect gift for that perfect person in your life who absolutely without a doubt will love whatever it is you’ve come up with.

It doesn’t happen very often.

So I made a gift guide to help you with this problem of gifting. And when I say you I really mean me.

Perfect gift #1: Cash.

Cash is a gift, people. IT IS A GIFT. No one receives cash and goes home and says “Now what on earth am I going to do with this?”

Perfect gift #2: Gift Cards.

Gift cards are a non-cash way of giving cash as a gift for those people who think that giving cash as a gift is tacky. Some people also think that giving gift cards is tacky. I am not friends with those people.

Perfect gift #3: Something that a person sent you a link to and said “I want you to buy this for me.”

No guesswork at all is the way to go with gift-giving. This is my absolute favorite way to shop for someone if cash and gift cards are off the table, and the next type of perfect gift is a close runner-up.

Perfect gift #4: Something that someone buys for him- or herself and says “I’m buying this for myself, but you can give it to me.”

You sort of feel like a shlub for not doing any work whatsoever, but it’s worth it if they also wrap that gift up for themselves or don’t require it to be wrapped at all because they’re using it right away.

Perfect gift #5: Registered gifts.

There is something just so satisfactory about a gift list that someone has made public, so that when you shop for this person, all the things they want are right there. General gift lists are okay, but give me a printed out store registry list of specific stuff that a person wants and I’m a happy gift-buyer. Bonus if shipping is free and I don’t even have to handle the item.

Perfect gift #6: Everyday items.

This is a little more work, but I love giving and receiving basic items that everyone uses but runs out of on a regular basis.  Things like aluminum foil, sandwich bags, condiments, dried spices and even shampoo and soap are great gifts, and best of all you can throw them into your grocery cart when you stop at the store on your way out to pick up the milk.

Perfect gift #7: Time together.

I love it when you can get together with people and call it a gift. “No gifts; let’s just go out to dinner!” is music to my ears, and the person who shows up with a wrapped gift even after hearing (or ::whispers hatefully:: uttering) those words is dead to me.

Perfect gift #8: Nothing at all.

Sometimes giving gifts takes away from the real gift, which is living life together. I personally have everything I need and want, and I’d rather enjoy life than take time to open a bunch of stuff that I’m going to be paying a bill for later anyway. I know this seems a mite insincere since I will always have my hand out for jewelry and diamonds, but I’d rather enjoy my friends and family than open gifts any day of the year.

Especially if they’re handing out jewelry and diamonds.

See all those gifts in the back? So stressful.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Ten Things I Love About Motherhood

If you told me twenty years ago that I’d become a mother, I would have laughed in your face.

Because I was rude, but also because twenty years ago, I didn’t want kids.

I didn’t even like kids all that much.

Like every woman, as a teenager I was a pro babysitter. Watching kids is the thing to do when you’re too young for a side hustle like slinging cocktails. I had a kid brother and kid cousins and family friends with kids that were always looking for a babysitter, so I obliged for some cold hard cash in return for watching their TV kids whine eat junk food pound on each other while the parents escaped for a few hours on the odd Saturday night. But it wasn’t my favorite activity.

But twenty years ago, when I was a single gal, footloose and fancy free, I had long conversations with friends about how much I didn’t want kids because kids are terrible.

Yeah. That’s about as far as my reasoning went for not wanting kids. It’s fair to say that because I didn’t have kids, it was easy enough to say I didn’t want kids.

Then my husband and I had kids.

I was for it, of course. I mean, the timing of our kids wasn’t planned, but we agreed that we’d try them out for a while.

And it just so happened that I am a pretty good mom. And my kids are pretty amazing because of me. Hey, you think I’m going to give them all the credit for being awesome? Okay, my husband had something to do with it, too. But still. I’m a kick-ass mom.

Might as well say it myself, because they sure won’t.

So, yeah. I am pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy being a mom. Take THAT, twenty years ago me! IN YOUR FACE! HA HAHA HAHAHA HA!

I guess some things don’t change.

Here are the top ten things I love about motherhood:

1. I can do this.

A person needs no special training or skill to be a mother. It’s scary how utterly unprepared people really are for parenthood. It’s on-the-job training every second of every day. It’s flying by the seat of your pants and making it up as you go along. When people say “We’re not ready to have kids yet” I love to squash their spirits and inform them that there is no planning for this. You’re never ready, and you either do it or you don’t. And when you do it, it’s the best feeling ever.

2. These nerds.

Yeah. I pretty much love the spit out of them. Seriously – they can spit on the ground and I would love that spit. BUT THEY BETTER NOT EVER DO THAT BECAUSE SPITTING ON THE GROUND IS GROTESQUE AND I DID NOT RAISE DISGUSTING ANIMALS WHO SPIT ON THE GROUND.

3. It’s a challenge.

One of the weirdest things I love about motherhood is how difficult it is. Once you are in it you can’t escape it, and even though I totally look for the easy way out of nearly everything, I do not cut corners at being a mom. I love all the difficult conversations and the teen years and defusing tantrums because this stuff is important. I will work tirelessly to help my kids do or learn something, and it’s because their lives are worth my best.

4. The food.

Having kids around all the time means that you eat chicken nuggets and candy and pudding and cupcakes as part of a regular diet and not feel like you have to justify your preferences. Kraft mac and cheese has had our number for years, and I am more than okay with this.

5. The TV.

Cartoons make anybody feel like a kid again. Not too many adults will watch Spongebob on a random Thursday afternoon on their own without kids around, and this is too bad. I believe that Spongebob can be better than therapy.

6. You are always teaching.

When I was in grad school I wanted to be a professor, and as luck would have it I got to teach undergrads. This was a terrible experience. Those cats knew they were smarter than me and weren’t afraid to let me know how low my effectiveness ranked on the list of educators they had known. They didn’t give me a chance, and I knew then that I was no teacher. But with my kids? I’m the first teacher they knew and they STILL look to me to teach them. Getting your students early is where it’s at.

7. You are always learning.

I’ve learned more being a mother than all the years I spent in school, which is a bold statement and one that I dare you to try to quantify. Being a mother has taught me practical wisdom, like how long a person needs to transition from sitting on the couch playing video games to getting in the car to go somewhere (two minutes), but also problem-solving skills, like if you have a kid who zones out while playing video games, revving up the car engine while honking the horn to get them moving works pretty darn well.

8. Personal improvement.

I was a jerk before I had kids, and I’m marginally less of a jerk now. Having kids made me want to be a better person, because now I have people who I am casting into the world who watch me like the spongy little hawk-eyed humans they are. Do I want them to be jerks on top of them being horribly disfigured? No, I don’t. I shaped up when I had kids, and everybody is happier. Especially me.

9. The surprise factor.

When my kids walk in the door after school with a cool story, or talk about something they learned, or sing along to an old song that I love but didn’t know they also loved, or share their opinions about anything, I am surprised at their sense of humor, what they know, what they think, and what they can do – as if they are new people every day. Literally, I say “Who are you? I don’t know you – go away, stranger, or I’m calling the cops!” because I love to mess with my kids. Which brings us to the last point I’d like to make.

10. Having kids is fun.

SO MUCH FUN. Having fun is my deal, and they are my favorite people to joke with, to laugh with, and to play with. My kids are fun people. They get my sense of humor, and I love theirs. I know it’s because they learned from me, and I’m in love with this.

You’re welcome, world.

This post inspired by:

Mama Kat's Writing Workshop

Prompt #1: List 10 things you love about motherhood.