Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Holiday Marathon

What follows is a quick recap of our Holiday Timeline. I wish I could say I am sad it is over....

Nov. 26, Thanksgiving Morning Annual Flag Football Game – 25 guys come over for breakfast and coffee before the game. Husband plugs one too many griddles in outside outlet and blows the electrical fuse for the entire house. Men eat bacon, talk trash, and try to forget how old they have become. Each one stretches awkwardly while reminiscing about the good old days. They walk to middle school soccer field and begin to play. Game reminds me of a documentary on Rhinos I saw on the Discovery Channel. They are large, slow beasts running around, chasing each other and falling to the ground. Every now and then, someone makes a loud strange noise (as if they have been shot by a hunter), crumples to their knees and is dragged off the field. The whole game appears to be played in slow motion. I didn’t play but it still hurt to watch.

Nov. 26, Thanksgiving afternoon - We over plan and decide it would be a good idea to also have Thanksgiving dinner for 20 at our house. Husband has problem with deep fryer (this too has become a tradition) and can’t get oil to heat. Three hours later than planned, oil is heated to 400 degrees. He and his extremely bright friend then drop cold turkey in oil. Small fireball shoots up, almost catches roof on fire, and eventually spills on one guy’s shoe (Gucci loafer). Oil burns through leather and guy is left with a third degree burn on his foot. Dinner is served in garage/play room/man cave/office. The meal begins at the exact moment the children’s movie (which has been entertaining the kids for past 2 hours) comes to an end. Awesome!

December 2nd: Tree Purchase - Husband, children and I head to the Boy Scout tree lot. I take a deep breathe and check off item in my mental to-do list that says ‘family gives back’. Husband corners a man at tree lot and quizzes him on the difference between a Pine and a Fir tree. Husband is so into his forestry lesson he is not bothering to watch the kids who have now run into an area where many untrained lumberjacks (aka dad’s from our neighborhood) yield electric saws. Man being asked questions about tree eventually stops husband and says with great sorrow, “Sir, I don’t know anything about trees. I am just a scout leader.” Husband looks dejected and buys over priced tree, which he feels he knows nothing about. Men place tree on top of my car without a blanket and scratch my entire roof. Husband shrugs shoulders and says, “Don’t worry, it's good for it.” I don’t understand what he means but that is nothing new.

December 3rd, Tree Decorating – Really fun except my daughter only wants to eat the candy canes and my son keeps breaking glass ornaments. My husband and I try to smile and get along but we end up disagreeing about pretty much everything from the lights, to the placement of the tree stand, and finally the music we are listening to (he wants Frank Sinatra and I want Carrie Underwood). At one point I scream at entire family “THIS IS FUN. THIS IS CHRISTMAS!” They look at me like I am nuts and I take a time out. When we ask our son to put the angel on top of the tree, he has an epic unexplainable tantrum and locks himself in his room. Next year we plan to start drinking earlier.

December 6th, House decorating- I balance the ladder up on the roof all by myself, I put the lights on the house all by myself, and I wrap the bushes all by myself. Later, I put ladder back on roof all by myself, replace 7 broken bulbs, and try not to get electrocuted. Neighbors yell things like “Do you need any help? Isn’t that your husband’s job?” I smile and continue to risk my life because it is easier to do alone. When my husband gets home he looks at the lights and says, “Hey, those two strands of lights aren’t exactly the same. It looks weird.” I hide my rage and try to remember that Jesus is the Reason for the Season.

December 9th, Big Lots – For some reason I don’t think the gaudy roof lights and slightly redneck bush lights are enough. I give into a deep-seated desire to buy a white reindeer and a small fake Christmas tree with colored lights. Put them in front yard and later husband re-arranges them into a ‘Christmas scene’ that he says looks cozy…it doesn’t. Deer’s head won’t plug into any of the available outlets so deer spends the holidays looking like he has a broken neck.

December 12th, 14th, 15th, 17th, 20th, 22nd – Buy random shit from Target that I think the kids will like and/or return random shit from Target that I am sure the kids won’t like.

December 23rd – Full panic sets in as I try to remember all the people I am supposed to give gifts to but have forgotten. Start throwing $20 bills and $10 Target gift cards out the window of my car as I drive. Say a prayer that the right people will find them. Deeply worried that my garbage man/postman/babysitter/lawn guy/child’s teacher/creepy neighbor/strange old lady/UPS man/hairdresser will think that I have forgotten about them, don’t appreciate them, or that I am cheap…unfortunately all three of these things are partially true.

December 24th, Christmas Eve – Husband and I wrap, hide, and drink our way through the evening. Go to a friend’s house and feel beyond grateful that we are not at my house. Try to get drunk but instead find myself playing the “Just Dance” WII game with my best friend. We dance to Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the USA” and it makes me feel happy. We compete in a dance off and, even though she is carrying a newborn baby in a Bjorn, she wins. A low point in my life.

December 25th, Christmas morning –Son comes in bedroom very concerned because we forgot to leave cookies and milk for Santa. Tears well up in eyes and breakdown is inevitable. I quickly say “Santa didn’t want snacks this year because he is on weight watchers, just like daddy.” Son looks confused but then says, “He can’t have a snack because he is growing out, instead of up, just like Daddy?” I am grateful he understands and we head out of our room to begin the festivities.

Merry Christmas…It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Home Improvement

I answered the phone about 8 am on Saturday morning and an anxious voice greeted me on the other line. It was one of our best friends and he sounded kind of panicky. “Hey Kels, is Nate up yet? We have a major problem over here.” First, let me tell you there is no way my husband would be up before 8am on a weekend. This is a man that says he is barely getting by when he gets 9 hours of sleep and tells me he has ‘never been this tired’ practically every day of his life. So when Chris wanted to know if he was up yet, I laughed.

In our marriage, we have worked things out as follows. Because I am a morning person, I normally let him sleep in on Saturdays and Sundays. During the week, he gets up very early for work and therefore I try to give him a chance to sleep in and catch up on the weekends.

Okay, that is not exactly the truth, but it sounds good. The truth is I WANT to be the type of wife who lets her husband sleep late out of the goodness of her heart, but that would be a lie. The real reason I do it is because it gives me great bargaining power the rest of the day.

Me: “Hey Honey, can I go to brunch with my friend, get a pedicure, and then sleep with a stranger?”

Husband: “You’re pushing it with the stranger, however you did let me sleep until 9am. Knock yourself out.”

It works every time.

So my response to my friends question was “No, he isn’t up. Is everything okay?” He said that their entire bedroom was leaking and he was pretty sure it was coming from the deck above their bedroom. He needed help fast. I knew the rain was going to be here for another 5 days and things were getting bad at their house. A few weeks ago, during another rainstorm, his wife had called in a panic. She had just opened her closet to find her new Joe Jeans and Trina Turk purchases covered with mold. This was now officially an emergency. I woke my husband up and he quickly got ready and headed out the door.

Now is where the fun begins. My husband and his best friend have attempted home improvement projects before. To say it is painful to watch would be an understatement. But let me start with the positive, my husband is great at demolition. If rocks need crushing, trees need moving, or concrete needs pouring, he is the man for the job. On the other hand, if plumbing needs fixing, electrical needs wiring, or lighting needs changing…you are in trouble. He is a lot of other wonderful things, but handy he is not.

The problems start at the beginning of each project. He normally begins a home improvement episode with the following questions. “Honey, where is the hammer? Have you seen the nails? Where do we keep the screwdriver again?” When the mere locating of your tools presents an obstacle, you know it is not going to turn out well. And this little adventure was no exception.

He arrived at their house, ready to work and listened as his friend laid out the plan. The problem stemmed from the large amount of water coming from the sky and off the roof onto the rotten upper deck. The water would pool on the deck and eventually drain through one spot that lead to various leaks in their bedroom ceiling. These leaks were getting worse and worse, and now were located in many places, not to mention the two recessed lights that were positioned directly above the pillows on their Pottery Barn bed.

The plan was to take a large tarp, attach it to the roof, let it fall over the upper deck and then finally attach it to the lower deck…thus creating an angle where the water could roll off the roof. They also hoped this would keep the deck fairly dry, which would in turn minimize the water that was running into the drain and ultimately onto their heads every 3 seconds throughout the night.

I arrived about 45 minutes after the work had begun and my girlfriend was sitting on the couch, breastfeeding her little one, while shaking her head. I said, “How’s it going.” She shook her head and said sadly, “Just watch.” And so I did. And for the next 2 ½ hours, this is what I witnessed.

Husband and friend look at tarp.

Husband crosses his arms and thinks.

Friend leans against wall and thinks.

Husband picks up a piece of furniture on deck and moves it to other side.

Friend picks up a different piece of furniture and moves it.

Husband and Friend pick up tarp, tarp gets caught in wind gust, tarp flies in air.

Both Husband and Friend stop and think.

Friend and husband lift tarp, walk three steps to right, and put tarp back down.

Husband thinks again, this time without arms crossed.

Friend moves grill.

Tarp blows up off deck and husband tries to catch it.

Husband and Friend pick tarp up and move two steps in opposite direction.

Husband leans against wall, thinks, and then moves a chair back to its original location.

Friend and Husband walk in a circle around deck while looking at tarp.

Friend stops, thinks, and moves a different chair.

Husband lifts tarp and sets it back down.

Husband and friend cross arms and think.

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat.

Finally, after 3 hours, they laid the tarp down on the deck, placed the grill and furniture on top of it, and walked away. They then knocked on the sliding glass door and said, “Hey ladies, any way you could get us some lunch. We are starving!”

Let me be clear. What had happened after all that moving, lifting, and thinking was that the big blue tarp was simply laid on the ground. My 3 year-old could have done it in 10 minutes. My five year-old even said to me, “Mom, they just laid the tarp on the deck. How is that going to help?” My thoughts exactly. Basically instead of the water pooling on the deck, it now was pooling on the tarp, which was on the deck. Therefore, the water on the tarp would eventually become the water on the deck, and need to be drained from the same spot as before. This would then lead the water right back to spots that caused the leaks that had started this project to begin with.

The story gets boring from here. They realized their mistake, thought about it some more, and went back into the rain. They repeated all the actions from above but this time they moved less and thought even more. Eventually they had a brilliant idea and ran to the garage to get a bunch of random things such as umbrellas, brooms and golf clubs. They brought them up, went outside and did more thinking, more arm crossing and more moving…all while placing those random things in random places. And then, by the Grace of God, they thought one last time, picked up the tarp, balled it up, and threw it off to the side. They came inside, soaking wet and beaten, and had one last thought…How did it all go so wrong?

The moral of the story is this. When it comes to my husband’s character, he truly is the most wonderful man I have ever met. But when it comes to my house, he can’t do shit. If a light bulb needs changing, he gets overwhelmed. If a door hinge needs replacement, he says maybe next weekend. And if a leak is threatening to cave in our ceiling, he says a bucket will do the trick. I am learning to let him try, keep my mouth shut, and call a handyman once he goes to work. I am making progress and slowly giving up the dream that my husband will ever be the type of man to strap on a tool belt, tuck a pencil behind his ear, and start to drill something. Luckily he gives the best hugs, loves my children more than anything, and makes me laugh every day. If he has no idea what to do with a tarp, so be it…

(DISCLAIMER: My husband would have you know that in this blog he found many misconceptions, lies, and half-truths. He wants it to be noted that I have a loose relationship with the truth…and in particular he insists he can absolutely change a light bulb, wear a tool belt and in his OWN way is very handy.)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Woman's Work is Never Done

It was another beautiful Saturday morning, we had just woken up and were enjoying the fact that our kids are now old enough to pour themselves a bowl of cereal, go downstairs and turn on the T.V. As I lay there, I thought about how lucky we were and how fortunate I was to have so much joy in my life. My husband, who had just removed his sleep apnea mask, rolled over and smiled at me. We were really excited about the day because we had plans to head to our friends house in Palm Springs. A day of fun, sun and swimming was ahead, it was going to be a great day.

But then he had to ruin everything by starting the following conversation:

Husband: Do you think we could do it today?

Me: Today? I don’t feel like it, I am tired of doing it.

Husband: Tired of doing it? You have got to be kidding me. I never ask you to do it.

Me: Never, I feel like we do it every weekend. And what about the kids, they haven’t had breakfast yet. They will be running up here in a minute.

Husband: It’s never a good time for you. It will take 10 minutes. By the time we are done arguing about it, you could be finished.

Me: You owe me…let’s go and get this over with.

And so I got out of bed and followed my semi-nude husband into the backyard. We headed to the same secret spot we have been going to for the past 6 years. Hidden underneath a palm tree, behind some tall bushes, we started to do my least favorite thing:

I began to shave his back…

There are so many things I hate about this chore. I hate that he says things like “You have to admit, it is sort of fun, like mowing the lawn.” Really? If I liked mowing the lawn so much, why do I pay someone to do it for me twice a month? Or “Did you get my neck?” No honey, I skipped that part. I thought it would be fun to have you hairless except for 4inx4in section around your neck. I have always had a thing for Michael J. Fox during his transformation in Teen Wolf.

The best part about our clipping/shaving ritual is that my husband doesn’t want anyone to know what we are doing. As if it is a secret that we can keep. Forget about the fact that our backyard is on a hill and our neighbors are normally sitting way up high on their deck, drinking coffee and watching us. And our kids, they know something is up. It takes about 5 minutes for those two to coming running into the backyard in their Dora and Spiderman pajama’s desperately searching for their parents who have snuck outside and are now hiding behind a tree.

My husband doesn’t want the kids to know what we are doing, he’s afraid that it will scar them for life. Believe me, I agree, but I refuse to lie to them about this. I feel this is one time where they need to know the truth, even if it is hard to handle.

When my son says “Mom, why are you shaving dad’s back?” I stop, turn off the electric clippers and look him in the eye. I take a breath and begin to tell him this harsh reality. “Son, your father is a very hairy man. He is going bald on his head but seems to have no problem growing hair in his ears or on his back. You are lucky to have his genes because he is a kind, loving man…but you are also screwed in some areas, back hair being one of them. I am sorry you to had to hear this from me.” He reaches around, feels his smooth back and looks at me with relief. Thankfully, the inevitable is still years away.

When my sweet daughter stumbles upon us, and asks in her cute two-year old voice “Mama, wat yu doin?”, I stop and give her a hug. I tell her that marriage is not easy, sometimes it is hairy and wrapped around a sleep apnea cord. Marriage is about compromise. I tell her there are days you will find yourself doing things you find repulsive, tedious, and below you. I tell her a woman’s work is never done and life isn’t always fair. I smile and let her know that we, the woman of the world, are making strides but we still have work to do. By the look in her eyes, I know she understands.

And then I turn the clippers back on and begin my job. I make sure there is nothing left but a smooth back, clean shoulders, and very little hair on his biceps. I go over his neck two times for good measure and I cover my mouth while clumps of hair fly through the air towards me. I swallow my pride and I do a good job.

Because that’s the type of girl I am.

(P.S. If you can’t relate to this blog, if it doesn’t ring true for you…consider yourself lucky. Today you have something to be grateful for).

Monday, November 22, 2010

Holiday Travel: Let the Joy Begin

Oh the holidays, the moments dreams are made of...the packing, the planning, the family, the flights…it is all enough to make you want to jump off a bridge (while singing a Christmas carol of course). It was about two years ago that we decided to no longer travel back East for the holidays and instead stay put and start making traditions of our own. I love saying that “making traditions of our own” because it sounds so grown-up and admirable. Unfortunately the truth is not quite as beautiful. The truth is that although we would love to be with our families over the holidays, we simply can’t handle the flight.

Holiday travel reminds me of this great picture my husband and I have on our picture wall. It is of the two of us in Whistler Canada, in beautiful ski outfits, smiling with our arms around one another. What the picture doesn’t show is that moments before that photo was taken, we had cussed each other out and basically decided that there was no way we could spend the rest of our lives together…it just wouldn’t work. Fortunately, when we got down to the bottom of the mountain, we found a nice, cozy café. After four hot chocolates spiked with Baileys and Rum, and a promise to never ski together again, we walked out a married couple.

That experience to me exemplifies the holidays when you travel cross-country with small children. It seems like a good idea at first, there is hope that it could all go well, but in the end, you may only get one good picture …and the price for that photo is very, very high.

It starts with the packing, the deciding who is in charge of the plane snacks, how many DVD’s we will bring, if we should take the early or late flight, if my husband will again somehow sit in a row away from us because “there are only three seats to a row, what do you want me to do?”, to what my family expects, to what I expect, to who will cook, what we will eat, why we should or shouldn’t drink, to where the kids will sleep, to how much we are going to spend on presents and so on and so on. There are so many decisions and so many different ways of spending the holidays. And the fact that this little adventure has to begin with a 6-hour plane ride 30,000 feet in the air with two screaming kids, makes getting into that Holiday spirit near impossible.

Let me start by saying there is no one that hates my children on a plane more than I do. Just looking at them in the waiting area of the gate makes me start to sweat. I don’t want to sit next to them anymore than you do but unfortunately, I don’t have a choice. My kids are the ones that spill juice off the flimsy tray and watch as it leaks down and soaks your carry on bag that is placed snuggly under their seat. My son is the child who will not stop kicking you seat, no matter how dark and desperate my threats get. And yes, my daughter is the child who on a 6-hour flight has a bad reaction to Benadryl (I swear she had a cough) and screams like she is being tortured the ENTIRE time.

And the flight attendants are no help. I now believe they are some of the angriest and laziest people in the world. If you choose to disturb them while they are in their jump seats in the back, reading People and US Magazine, you will pay deeply. If you want water, they say they just served it…if you want to use the bathroom, they say the seat belt light is on…and if you want milk for your kid, they say sorry but we need it for coffee.

And if your child is crying, instead of asking “What can I do to help?” they now say, “Excuse me Miss, what is wrong with your child? You really need to make him stop.” What you really want to say to her is “Listen bitch, you are a glorified waitress in the sky. If I knew what was wrong with my psychotic child I would do something about it. I am barely hanging on here and the more I look at the exit window, the more tempting it gets. We have 3 hours to go and I am pretty sure I am not going to make it. I am about to have a panic attack and may just die if my kid doesn’t stop screaming. I am sweating to death and my kid is now naked because he has peed and popped through all three outfits I brought. We have watched every damn DVD I brought and the battery is about to die. My left leg is numb because I can’t move it for fear of waking my 6 month old who by the grace of God is sleeping through the older ones psychotic tantrum. My husband has no idea what is going on because he is wearing his noise canceling Bose headphones. So now would you please go get me some DAMN peanuts”!

But because you are so afraid of them, you smile and say something like “I am so sorry, it must be his ears.”

And through all of this, your husband has not moved. He is sitting still, like a statue, reading up on his latest investments or what he thinks will happen in China in 2012. Every now and then he will look across the row, where he sits with two other adults who are quietly working on their computers and say something like “Are you okay, you don’t look good?” or “I would trade with you but my legs can’t fit in the middle seat.”

At that point, I take a deep breath and try not to stab him repeatedly with my plastic straw. I resist the urge to start a fight because the things you say to each other during a flight are as mean as the things you say to each other in middle of the night when you have a newborn. Airline fights and Middle of The Night fights are brutal, things are said that cannot be forgiven and cheap shots are taken with no remorse. So instead, I close my eyes and begin to practice what I am going to say next year when my family and friends ask if I am coming home for the holidays. “Oh we would love to, but we have decided to stay home this year and make traditions of our own.”

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Let Them Keep Score...

My son is 5 years old and playing in his first year of soccer. Because he is playing in the under 6 division, they are not allowed to keep score therefore allowing everyone to be a “winner”. I know many people believe this sounds just great, but to be honest, it’s a nightmare. The truth is that I don’t understand why we can’t keep score and frankly the kids don’t either.

The conversations about the games between my son and I keep becoming more awkward. He’s a really smart kid and the whole idea of everyone winning is something he is just not buying. After we lost our 6th game in a row, (not that anyone was keeping score except that EVERYONE was keeping score), my son says to me “Mom we are SO bad, we haven’t even scored one goal!” Unfortunately, because the coach is watching me, all I can do is smile and say, “Oh honey, scoring goals isn’t important. The most important thing is that you are having fun.”

At this point, my son looks at me like I am crazy and responds with “Then why do we have teams if no one cares who scores, what is the point of the game?” My thought exactly. So after looking around to make sure no one is watching me, I kneel down next to him, far away from the ears of parents who want their kids to believe they are wonderful at everything no matter how untalented they may be and say “You’re right. You and your whole team aren’t very good. You score in the wrong goal, you spend half your time lying on the field pretending you are a robot, and really don’t understand the game at all” (which is evident by the fact that he continues to pick the ball up with his hands and run with it.) Normally, after this secretive conversation, my son will say something very insightful like “Yeah mom, we stink…do you have any more fruit snacks?” Amazingly he isn’t crushed by the fact that they lost or by the truth about his or his soccer teams abilities. Somehow he is able to absorb this harsh reality and move on. MIRACLE!

I know we all want our kids to feel good about themselves, have fun while playing sports, and learn it is not always about winning and losing but REALLY, I think we have taken it a bit far. Recently I heard that parents being interviewed at Mattel told the game makers that they wanted to take away the “chutes” part of “Chutes and Ladders”. When asked why they said it was because their kids didn’t like to slide down to the bottom and have to start over. No wonder why so many kids now move back home after college because the ‘real world’ is too tough. If you can’t handle rolling a 3, landing on the chute and taking a ride down the candy cane slide, you’re screwed! I promise, life is going to be a real shit storm for you.

This is never more evident to me than during those painful first rounds of American Idol. All I can think when I watch those poor souls sing horribly off key is that their parents and friends have let them down. Luckily for me, I never had this problem. This is why I think I have made it to adulthood as a fairly happy and balanced human. When I was a kid, I loved to sing. Yet my mother never had a problem letting me know this was not a path I should follow. And to clarify, most of her comments would come only seconds AFTER I told her my dream was to be on stage, singing and dancing like the star I was meant to be. She didn’t sugar coat it either, it was clear what she was trying to say when she looked me straight in the eyes and said “Hey Kelsey, don’t waste your time, …your tone deaf. You can’t sing at all and it is torture to listen to you. Pick a new dream, one you have a chance at achieving.”

Looking back, maybe she was wrong and should have let me enter song competitions and try to win the lead in the school musical. But chances are it would have been a waste of my time and I would have ended up being a back up dancer in Oklahoma (which just would not have worked for someone like me.) Instead I worked on swimming faster, talking more, and trying to make people laugh. I still ended up on stage but just in a different way.

So my point is this…let the kids win, let the kids lose, and let them learn that life isn’t always perfect. And if you want them to do something where they don’t keep score, teach them to bake.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Things my Husband Says (that make me consider Homicide)

1. I am so tired.

2. This is only my second scotch.

3. Have you talked to my mom lately? (hey buddy, I am barely hanging on with my own family...your mom = your responsibility)

4. I didn’t see your call or text…my phone sometimes has bad service.

5. My throat feels weird, any way you could take care of the kids in the morning? (how is that different from any other morning)

6. I could fix the sprinklers but I'd rather pay someone.

7. Don’t worry, I will just make myself dinner.

8. I’m not drunk, it has just been a long week.

9. I promise, there are only 10 minutes left in the game.

10. I WAS watching the kids, I was just letting them work it out between themselves.

11. When you were pregnant it was so hard for me.

12. This is only my 3rd beer.

13. Where are the kid’s pj’s? (do you think we wake up each morning and hide them)

14. Watching you in labor was so painful for me. (DIE)

15. I didn’t say you looked fat, I said you looked healthy.

16. I didn’t know trash day was Thursday.

17. I don't know what I want to do with my life. (neither do we buddy...but in the meantime go make some money)

18. Golfing is the same as working…it is networking.

19. I know you don’t like him but he is like a brother to me.

20. This 56” Flat Screen TV for the garage was SUCH a good deal. (Reason #1 he can never go to Costco)

21. Why does it have to be so dark when we have sex? (believe me, it is better for everyone)

22. I think the baby is hungry, maybe you should try nursing him.

23. I will be home at usual time. (that's the problem)

24. I don't know why I am so tired. (neither do we)

25. What are you talking about? The baby slept all night. (no, really he didn't...you did)

26. You know if you wanted me to go longer I could. (we know...please don't do us any favors)

27. Is there any way you could breastfeed in the other room, I’m trying to sleep.

28. I have to run to the bathroom, it will only take a minute. (how does this happen the moment we are walking out the door)

29. What's the big deal, you have been home with the kids all day.

30. You haven’t done that since before we were married. (and for good reason)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Facebook Upload Hell

Happy Halloween... We love Halloween at our house because it marks the beginning of the Holiday season. It also marks the beginning of what I like to call “Facebook Upload Hell” season. This is when people all over America begin the age-old tradition of uploading thousands of pictures of their families on a weekly basis. Just close your eyes and imagine seeing all of your friends and their kids in the same following photos:

Family Pumpkin Patch Picture, Strange Halloween Picture in Uncomfortable Costumes, Kids Sitting on Creepy Santa Lap Picture, Picture of Family in Jeans and White T-shirts Running on Beach, Picture of Family From Behind Wearing Jeans and White T-shirts Strolling Towards Ocean, Picture of Family in Jeans and White T-shirt Sitting Awkwardly on Beach Together with Golden Retriever, Christmas Morning Opening Presents Picture, and to close out the year...Picture of Kids Asleep in Strange Place While Drunk Parents Dance to 80’s Music at New Years Party.

What I would like to see, in order to break up the monotony, are some pictures that are a bit more realistic. How about a photo of a mother cussing out her kids at the pumpkin patch as they tackle each other to the ground while fighting over the pumpkin they both “saw first.” Or a picture of a mom forcing her 3-year old daughter into her $60 princess outfit (that she HAD to have) while she screams “I NO LIKE ANYMORE, IT IS ITCHY!” And of course, I would love for someone to upload a picture from a regular Sunday morning at the park where a dad (who is supposed to be watching his kids) is unaware that the kids are playing with a rabid squirrel because he is looking at his phone while making last minute changes to his Fantasy Football League.

Please, do us all a favor and mix it up a bit this year. Let the Holiday Seasons Begin!!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sister Wives

My husband and I were on the couch last night watching Sister Wives, the TLC show about the Polygamist family living in Utah.

I started to wonder, “What are my thoughts on the Brown’s life and modern day Polygamy”?

I believe it is brilliant, absolutely brilliant!

The good: Each woman gets a ‘sister wife’ to help her do the chore she hates most. Crazy-eyed Christine stays home and takes care of the kids (because it is what she always dreamed of doing...), Janelle works outside the home (because one woman’s dream is another woman’s nightmare), and Meri does a little of both (we don’t know why but if you saw her you would understand). What woman would not like this type of set-up?

The good: Kody obviously likes to have sex, as evident by the 13 kids running around the compound. The current wives must have had a team meeting one day and said “We are all exhausted! We simply don’t want to have sex anymore with our long-haired husband or squeeze out anymore of his kids.” (I feel you sister…or sisters) Because of their polygamist set-up, the solution was easy. They went and found him a hot little number (Robyn wife #4) who was younger, had more energy, fewer kids, and a true attraction to King Kody.

Thursday Night:

Kody: (knocks on door of first wife Meri) Hey Meri, good to see you. You know tonight is our night. I will be back in five minutes, be ready.

Meri: Oh Kody, I would love to but my head is killing me. Don’t worry though, I saw the way Robyn was looking at you today, why don’t you go visit her instead?

Kody: (getting very excited because Robyn is much hotter than Meri) Meri, are you sure? I don’t want to mess up the schedule.

Meri: My love, you know we can always do it next Thursday. Now go down the hall and have yourself some good old fashion fun.

Once he leaves, Meri runs to the inter-house polygamist intercom and calls the other two wives. She tells them she got out of her weekly wifely duties and makes a plan for them to meet in the communal living room and watch re-run’s of Grey’s Anatomy while giving each other mani-pedis.

The Good: Think about how much your husband drives you crazy. Think about what an idiot he is sometimes. Now imagine you have a team, you and your sister wives, who are constantly plotting and planning ways to improve him. When your husband says something like, “I always help around the house!” You smile and press your inter-house polygamist call button. Suddenly, all the doors to the separate apartments in your big polygamist style home open up and out walk the 4 other wives who say in unison “BULLSHIT.”

The Bad News: This set up is SO ONE-Sided! The women are stuck with Kody and it is considered VULGAR for them to even think about another man. Not. Fair. At. All.

Let’s just say one of them got a little bored with their husband, realized he wasn’t that good around the house, and would probably never be able to fulfill some of their deep rooted fantasies. Is it fair that they have to die alone with him while he takes a new wife every few years to keep the excitement up?

Is it wrong if one day they looked outside and saw a beautiful, young Venezuelan handy man, building a cabinet with his bare hands, shirt off, red bandana holding back his long, dark Venezuelan hair and thought, “Maybe he should join our family, maybe he should rotate through my bed once a month.” Shouldn’t they get a chance to follow my dream? (Did I say ‘my’ dream? I mean ‘their’ dream…that is so weird. I don’t know where that came from, the handyman we had was from Brazil not Venezuela….completely different.)

Here is the problem, although there are many men who want multiple wives, I can’t think of one woman who wants another husband. Most of us are so close to killing the one we have, the thought of anymore would bring us to our knees. I don’t need any more husbands messing up my house, peeing on the bathroom floor, or drinking milk out of the carton.

Although the fundamentalist Mormons seem to have cornered the market on the multiple wives things, I realize that many Christians, Jews, and professional athletes live similar lives to Kody. They too are married but have mulitple women and kids on the side….their wives just don’t know about it. So in this aspect, Kody has a point. The women he married knew what they were getting into…Elizabeth Edwards and Elin Woods, not so much.

Lets give Kody some credit here. If you are going to sleep with multiple women, have kids with people other than your wife, then at least be man enough to admit it and take care of them. Cheers to the Polygamist Mormon’s…what a concept!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The New Grandma

Has anyone seen Grandma? You know, the one we all grew up with…the lady who was slightly overweight, wore Christmas sweaters and had a house that always smelled like sugar cookies. She was the woman that would be sitting in her chair, knitting a new scarf, and waiting for her grandchildren to run into her arms as they squealed with delight. You may remember her as the woman in the kitchen, making family Holiday meals, while letting you lick the spoon. Does anyone know what happened to her?

Unfortunately, She’s gone and there is a New Grandma in town!

So much of my childhood was shaped by the relationship I had with my grandmother that I truly don’t know who I would be without her. This was the woman whose entire life revolved around her children and grandchildren…who saved all her money so she could pass it on to us, and whose only desire in life was to make sure were well fed and happy. I can’t remember a swim meet, school play or graduation where I didn’t look up and see my grandmother’s face looking down at me, BEAMING with love and pride. She loved me unconditionally, never said an unkind word to me, bought me Esprit when my mom thought it cost too much, and never made me finish the vegetables on my plate. One time she told me, “Kelsey, I hate to admit it, but I used to love when you got sick. Your mother would call me and I would rush over to your house. We would just sit together on the couch for hours while I rubbed your feet. They were the best days of my life.” She is not the only one that misses those days…to say I could use a foot rub is an understatement.

Let me introduce you to the New Grandma, the one who doesn’t play by any of those old rules. I don’t think any of us who grew up with mothers in the 70’s and 80’s should be shocked by the change, but for me, it has taken some getting used to. Our mothers were the first generation that coined the term “Women can have it all.” They fought for equal pay, better childcare, and less domestic duties. They told us we could be whatever we wanted, hired maids to do their housework, and showed us that you can have a family and a career.

So why are we still surprised that they are so different from the type of Grandma we had? I believe it is the expectation (or sometimes Hope) that we all have that gets in the way. We each had a vision of how our kids relationship would be with their grandparents, and when it turned out differently, we were stunned.

This may be similar to how men felt when they truly accepted the fact that their wives would never be waiting for them at home with a smile on their face and a scotch in their hand saying to him “Dinner is on the table, the kids are quiet and bathed. Let me take your coat, and then slip into something more comfortable.” Those days are over and we all better get used to it…

I believe women in their 20’s and 30’s need to know certain things before they start a family. They need to know that being pregnant is not always beautiful (most the time it is downright miserable), breastfeeding is so hard at first that you think you may die (it does get easier, once your nipples develop callous like scabs that numb you from the pain…awesome) and sex 6 weeks after you have had a baby is about ONE YEAR too early (what the hell are they thinking?) They also need to know about the New Grandma, who is she and what is she like.

Here are some things that are good to understand…

1. The new grandma loves your kid, but not enough to have them come over to her house. She just redecorated and really what will they play with anyway? (She doesn’t keep toys in her house…like she has told you before “been there, done that.”)

2. She loves your kids… in 1-2 hour chunks of time. She would like to spend more time with them but unfortunately she has a meeting, or lunch date, or hair appointment, or just wants a nap (she loves her sleep!)

3. She loves your kids but will not watch them on a regular basis; she just can’t commitment to that type of thing. For consistent help, you need a nanny or a babysitter. So what if she is 10 miles down the road, sixteen dollars an hour really isn’t that much, right?

4. She loves your kid, but not on Saturday nights. That is when she goes out on the town with her husband or, if she is single, a 75-year old man she just met on Match.com. Do you know how many people over 70 are participating in online dating? Do you realize woman don’t start to really enjoy sex until their 50’s? Yes, we know and it makes us feel sick…sorry, it’s the truth.

5. She loves your kids but has nail appointments every 2 weeks and hair appointments every four. She would love to come to the soccer game, just not THIS month. And let’s not forget the New Grandma doesn’t sit on the ground, she will need a chair with a footrest…. Why? Because she knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to ask for it. Thank you Gloria Steinman.

6. The new grandma travels, A LOT. Many have over 100,000 miles of air travel each year. They pride themselves on how they pack, how they fly, and how they know the best hotels. They love getting out of town. And every now and then they say something like “Oh, I wish you could come. But, you have the kids…I remember those days”. I always answer “But Mom, didn’t you always drop me off at Grandma’s when you went on trips.” And she replies, “yes, honey we did…but that was a different time.”

7. The New Grandma has LOTS of opinions…about everything! From what you should feed your kids to whether or not your husband is doing a good job. The Old Grandma believed your business was your business. They New Grandma, not so much. She lets you know what she thinks about your husband, your marriage and your house. They are not afraid to tell you “I would have never allowed your father to do that.” You normally respond with “That’s true mom, but have you seen Dad lately, he is a miserable, beaten man.” Here is the news flash, we know they are idiots, don’t help us enough, and sometimes drink too much and watch football all day. But wait a second, you know who that reminds me of….my Dad when I was young. Weird!

8. The New Grandma does not want to be called “Grandma”, at least not in public. She wants to come up with a catchy name, something she thinks sounds young. My dad suggested that my kids call him Denis. Although this was very practical, it just wasn't endearing enough for me....

There are so many more things I can’t think of but, but feel free to add to the list. Luckily though, there is one thing that the New Grandma and the Old Grandma have in common. Something that won’t change no matter how many times they see our kids or what they choose to be called. That thing is a Grandmother’s Love.

At my house, when the door opens and my kids see their Sassy, it is like a Rock Star has arrived. They run screaming and yelling into her arms, and although she isn’t wearing a Christmas sweater (more likely a bomber leather jacket and a feather boa scarf) the joy and excitement they feel is just the same. Their Love for her is so Big and so Real that I always just smile and say “Thank you God.”

Even though how a grandma acts has changed over the past 25 years, what their job is remains the same. To give kids the understanding that by just being born, they became someone’s greatest joy. When I watch my kids with my mom, whether they are baking, playing puppets, making up stories of pirates and princess, dancing to music, reading a book, or just getting a hug, I realize they are so lucky. They are just like me, growing up in a family where they feel treasured and loved by someone who absolutely delights in their life. To all the Grandma’s out there, both Old and New….thank you. We wouldn’t be who we are without you…







Monday, October 18, 2010

Stop the Madness!

I can't stop thinking...about everything. It is becoming a real problem. I mean really, who has time to constantly revisit important topics like turkey or PB&J for my sons lunch, swim lessons on tuesday or wednesday, hair up or hair down, pancakes or waffles, long flannel pjs or short flannel pjs? On the subject of pajamas, my husband has an opinion but neither of them involve flannel...so his advice really does not solve any of my problems, it just creates more. I am not deciding whether to go to war or not, put inside this little brain of mine, it feels just as important.

Recently my brain is killing me. I don't know what has happened in the past year but I swing between extreme boredom and extreme anxiety...and I used to be normal (what is normal? My definition of myself before I went crazy). My whole life I have been busy, working towards this goal or that goal, finishing school, moving to NYC, partying in NYC, getting engaged, moving to Kansas, hating Kansas, getting married, getting pregnant, having a boy, having a girl, new jobs, stand up comedy, trying acting, trying writing, and trying to stay afloat. I have recently learned, from the help of a friend what my problem is.... she said, "For the first time in your life you don’t know where you are going so you don't know what to do." And she didn't even charge me $150 for the sage advice. But she is right; I have nothing on the horizon except maybe a neighborhood BBQ or a trip to Target. And I know this is a good problem, but still, it has left me with a void. I can't seem to stabilize my ship when it isn't plowing 55 mph ahead through the choppy waters of life. Am I the girl who can't just float and enjoy the water, the sun and the peaceful feeling of having nowhere to go? Yes, I am that girl and like my pseudo counselor than said, "well then, you are never going to be happy!"

She swears there was supposed to be a comma after that sentence not an exclamation, but I am not buying it. Why? Because she is right. If I am not going anywhere or doing anything or trying to accomplish something, who the hell am I? To be honest, I don't know but I need to find out. I have been so overwhelmed the first 33 years of my life with ME, what I want, need and must do, that now that there is a little breathing room ,(provided by the wonderful flexible job I have and the incredible people that help raise my kids) I am lost and off balance. Like my grandma always says, "oh my love, let that be your worst problem!" And it is, thank you God. But still, I can't seem to find my place in the world.

Right now my world is that of mothers and it is very divided. I am not a stay at home mom and I am not a corporate working mom...so who am I? I do not belong with either group and it has left me feeling weird. To tell you the truth, I can't really relate to either group.

Moms that think it is fun to cut construction paper in the shape of a spider or who look forward to going on the class trip to the zoo are wonderful people. They deserve an award. For me, I know I would need to do crystal meth in order to be able to spend more than 3 hours with a bunch of 5 years olds. They are so cute but filled with so many questions that I get nervous just being around them.

My son: Mom, why is there high tide and low tide?

Me: Well Honey, because that is the way it works.

Son: No mom, WHY?

Me: Because! The ocean if weird like that , the water goes all weird and sometimes it is high and sometimes it is low and it has something to do with the moon and the earth.

Son: That doesn't make any sense...I will ask Dad when he gets home.

Me: Good idea and by the way, life doesn't make any sense, get used to it!

The other group, the working moms, are so accomplished and driven. They are the brilliant, well dressed and completely overwhelmed moms who somehow find a way to be OK getting home at 8pm and leaving the next morning at 7am. They love their kids but understand their place is not at home but out in the world making a name for themselves. They have big jobs, big titles, and big childcare bills, but they are happy with it. Could not do it that way either....

Me, I am confused. I want to work, but not too much. I want to be with my kids, but not too much. I want to go on field trips, but maybe only once a year. I want to have an amazing job where people respect me. I want to be surrounded by creative, intellectual people, but not if they expect me to work on the days my kids are sick or have Halloween parades.

So today I am beginning a journey, it is going to be called "Stop the Madness!" This is going to be about trying to breathe and find a place in myself that can be ok with just being ok. I don't want to create anymore drama in my life just for the fun of it. An example of me creating drama is when for 14 days straight I asked 100 people if they though I should pay $40 extra a month to let my kid stay 30 minutes later at preschool. Is that too much money? Is it bad for my daughter? Is it good for my daughter? Does she need to nap? Do I need to work more? WHO GIVES A SHIT!!!

I am addicted to this type of thinking and it needs to stop. Or my husband is going to kill me, if I don't get to him first. That will be another list for another day.

So I am going to write down some of the things I am thinking about and let my computer come up with a solution. She (my computer) is going to help me because I am going to put it down on this blog and then turn it off. Lets see how it goes.... here is the list of what I am thinking about today that really isn't making the world a better place:

Do I need to get a kettle ball to lose these last 10 pounds?

Will the bouncy for the block party be on too much of a slope to be safe?

Can I really trust my IUD?

Is sex once a month too little or just right?

Should my daughter stay in preschool even though she cries every time I take her?

Will gray nail polish work on my hands or make them look dull?

Will I get fired?

Will I not get fired and end up working in this job for the rest of my life?

Can I really trust my IUD?

Will the roaches we have go away?

Why do we have roaches and where the HELL are they coming from?

Is the carpet cleaner I used really organic or will my kids do worse on the SAT's b/c of my cleaning compulsion?

Should I keep my nanny or let her go?

Will I die if I let my nanny go?

Should I cut my hair 1 inch or 1 1/2 inches?

Does an IUD really work?

Is sex one time a quarter enough?

Why do I miss dancing with strangers to "It's getting hot in here." so much?

Will my boobs ever stop grossing me out?

Will my son get beat up b/c he likes to memorize Middle Eastern Countries and repeat them to the class on sharing day?

Will my daughter be a bully and super bossy like I was? (It is not looking good!)

Will I ever be on Oprah?

How well does an IUD work?

Why doesn't Oprah know about me?

Is washing my hair 3 time a week too little or too much?

Is spray on foundation worth the extra cost?

Those are just a few, but it feels good to get them out...