What it’s Like to Work from Home… with Kids

When you have kids, it can be tough to juggle life. Especially when both you and your spouse work outside the home and daycare (aka school) is closed. Today was one of those days. One of those long, long days.

I just started a new job. I’m on week 4. So I’m still trying to gain trust and establish myself. It used to be so easy. I was focused. I was ambitious. I wanted to learn and do my best and shine like a star powered by the strong glow of fluorescent office lighting. Climb that corporate ladder like the yodeler character in that Price is Right game.

That all changed when I had my son. Now a mom of 2, all corporate ambition vanished. I realized that with 2 kids, “Outstanding” performance reviews are a thing of the past. Work no longer came first. Or even second. It couldn’t.  For some reason, I was able to manage the juggle better with one kid. Probably because I’m not one of those Super Woman Moms. I’m a real person. Some might say it’s more specifically because I’m not “organized” and I don’t “plan ahead”. But at least I’m pretty, right? That’s a positive that can get me ahead in the “juggling work and family and friends and dreams and working out and meal prep and not forgetting my prepped meals and selecting the correct number of tax deductions on my pre-employment forms” game for sure. Did I just let $200 worth of veggies go bad? Yes. But my smokey eye is on point today so that totally makes up for it.

Anyway, today was not a productive work day. Today was a day that consisted of just trying to keep up with emails and not much else. My daughter is great at letting me do my thing. If she has a tv, she’s good to go. Unless she sees me on my personal computer.  Then she wants to use said computer to “check her status”, which means she wants to take the quiz to see if she’s still in House of Slitherin.  #Priorities.  My son, on the other hand, would totally crawl back into my uterus and live happily ever after if it were at all possible. He wants me with him AT ALL TIMES. If he can’t see me, he finds me. If he can’t find me, he yells for me. That’s very problematic when I need to get things done for work.

For example, today he decided to be a member of the band Ratt. Remember them? He just met their music thanks to Sirius XM’s hairband station. And he loves them. So he wanted me to find their music videos on YouTube. That way, he could sing and play guitar with them. While dressed in his Brock Lesnar costume. Meanwhile, my daughter watched 4 episodes of Scooby Doo and 9 episodes of Monk. So when the doctor asks how much screen time she gets at her next appointment, please know I will lie. I will straight up lie. She gets 30 minutes of screen time and that’s all the doc needs to know. And all the moms who actually REMEMBER to cook the asparagus BEFORE it liquifies in the fridge can judge all they want. I welcome it. Cuz I judge them while peering from the top of my wine glass at the next PTA meeting.

At some point today the kids asked if they could go to Toys R Us and spend the $30 my grandmother gave them for Christmas. Seemed like a great way to get them out of the house for a bit. The visit was a success. Both walked out with goodies and stayed within budget so #blessed.

The trip to the grocery store, however, not so great. I only needed items for dinner (b.t.dubs, I made an AMAZING steak salad tonight. It was so good). Anyway, the kids were going crazy. Running all over the place. Bella putting Roman up to shenanigans. Shenanigans all over Fresh Market. And, yes, I yelled. And threatened to leave them. A few times. All the while, I was not getting any work done. I left with flank steak, avocados, tomatoes, cilantro-lime dressing, and the 2 kids I walked in with so… yay!

When I got home I did some work. And then it was time to cook dinner.

Ever feel like life is flying by and you’re holding on, white-knuckled, barely buckled in, and you know that if it would just slow down a little bit you could see what’s passing you. And maybe not fall off the roller coaster? Ugh.

Also, since we’re on a slight tangent, at what age do you start to gain weight by NOT eating? When did this start? I used to be able to skip a meal and lose 5 pounds! Now I skip a meal and gain 15. Son of a bitch. And don’t tell me it happens to everyone. If it did, I wouldn’t have skinny friends. Beautiful, skinny friends who “bounced back” 3 weeks after baby #4.  At least I’m pretty.  Starving, with 10 pounds to lose, but pretty.

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Back to School Advice for Parents

Well my Pretties, school has officially begun for us here in lovely Atlanta, Georgia. So many emotions flood my brain this time of year: pride, nostalgia, confusion…

‘How are my babies old enough to go to school… alone… without mommy to make sure they’re ok? Maybe I should just shadow them’.

Then my husband reminds me that I’m being creepy and says he will not bail me out of jail this time if I get arrested again for public weirdness. Fair enough.  He wins… for now.

If we’re being honest, from one Pretty to another, there is one more emotion that tries to find its way into my brain during this time of year.  That would be the feeling of… wait for it… inadequacy. 

Schools give us parents plenty of opportunities to compare ourselves to other parents or just adults in general: Open House, Parent-Teacher conferences, class parties, Wednesdays… You get the picture.

The next time you’re in a PTA meeting or at a school picnic, just sit back and observe for a minute. You’ll notice a hoard of parents who know they’re being watched by other parents and by school administrators. They are members of the hoard doing their best to be at their best.(Isn’t that what a group of parents is called? A hoard? Not sure, maybe I watch too much The Walking Dead but I’m going with it).

And then there is me, dazed and standing in a corner, remembering the full day I lived in the hour it took me to get my kids up and ready for school as I question whether or not I remembered to brush my teeth before I left the house and wonder how this mystery stain appeared on my shirt while I was in the car.  It certainly wasn’t on my shirt when I left the house.  Impossible.  I think. 

At first I was very intimidated by the hoard. Everyone seemed to have it together.  I started to psych myself out.  Just to pain a picture, here are things that would go through my head while at my kids’ school:

  1. “That woman has deodorant stains on her shirt. How did she have time to put on deodorant?”
  2. “That mom is so patient with her kid. I would have lost my shat by now. Seriously, how many times is she going to let her kid smack her in the fupa?”
  3. “Wait, that kid has a fully cooked meal packed in his lunch box. You can do that? Is his mom an alien? Probably. Oh well. Bella seems to like her Lunchables. And all the sodium is drying out her skin quite nicely.”

I always try to look for the positive.

But as I went to more and more events at the school and started forming my posse of “pretty” moms (and by “pretty”, I mean ‘my kid threw a 15 minute tantrum this morning because the sun was shining in the window so she went to school without her teeth brushed and shorts from yesterday.  Sometimes I have sucky mom-skills… but at least I’m pretty!’) I started to see that some of the parents who seemed to have it together the most, really were just barely hanging on. The more I opened up, the more I was joined in a chorus of desperation, self-doubt, exhaustion, and alcohol.

So, to the moms of kids starting school for the first time this year, I have a message for you and some advice. 

First the message: you’re doing just fine. Better than that- if you’re not on drugs, your kids are bathed semi-regularly, fed almost every day, and not serial killers, I’d say you’re better than just fine. Breathe, smile, and go. It’s going to be ok.

Now for the advice: I’ve been a mom of school-aged kids for 4 years. I’d like to bestow upon you some lessons-learned. Let me help you by sharing what not to say out loud at a PTA meeting, or really any school function. Don’t think that these things aren’t happening around you. Just know that it’s not OK to say them out loud. Kind of like Fight Club. Don’t talk about it. Anyway, here we go:

The Top 10 Things You Don’t Say at PTA Meetings:

  1. Dang, I spilled my drink. Does anyone have some Chardonnay they can spare? I’m not picky about the brand.
  2. My daughter says you treat her like everyone else in the class. Is there a specific reason you hate her?
  3. I would appreciate it if you could dumb-down the homework. I’m having to Google way too much and I’m losing what little credibility I had left with my kids.
  4. Could you please point me to the bathroom? I need a quick smoke.
  5. I don’t do name tags.
  6. Is there a VIP section?
  7. Ewe, gross! This Thanksgiving food is nasty. Is this what you guys normally eat? Honey, I’m packing your lunch from now on. Is your lunchbox big enough for Lunchables?
  8. Don’t you know who I am?
  9. I would volunteer to help but I don’t like other people’s kids.
  10. Can I bum a Xanax from the school nurse?

This is just a starter list. I’m sure I’ll have a follow up list soon. Let me get a few school visits under my belt this year. Best of luck to all of the precious littles starting school this year. And Mommies, hold your head high. You got this. Daddies, buy lots of wine. Trust me. #happywifehappylife  Stay Pretty, ma friends.

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This One Time I Tried Krav Maga

Krav Maga

Ok, friends, I have a confession to make. I’m not as badass as I thought I was. This confession has been difficult for me to accept but it’s time I hang it out to dry; air it out for all to see.

The manner in which I discovered that my spirit animal is not, in fact, a Great White Shark was a bit crushing. For my ego, at least. A few months ago I saw an ad on Facebook providing a discount at a local Krav Maga studio. I immediately paid $40 (yes, I selected the “Go Big or Go Home” package (that’s what she said) because I knew that this was my calling). I prepared my acceptance speech as I was sure to take home the award for Best Krav Maga Person Ever, packed my bag, and headed out for my first ever class.  Also, I was preeeetty sure they’d ask me to teach my own class by the end of today’s class, which I was fully prepared to do, if the money was right.

A little history: I’ve been athletic in one form or another most of my life. I work out, know my way around a weight room, and, in my mind, can drop any 400-pound potential attacker with my pinky finger. Ok, that last part might be a tiny stretch. I might need my thumb. (That’s what she said.) Anyway, I was confident.

I walked in and signed the attendance list and waiver. The first fifteen minutes or so was “warm-up”. It was pretty intense but nothing I couldn’t handle. In my mind I sarcastically shouted “NEEEEXT!” and looked around the room in a patronizing way much like Lloyd Christmas looked at the undercover agent in the bar before he burped. You know, from Dumb & Dumber? No? Let’s just say I was totes ready for whatever came next.

What came next was partner work. Everyone else in the class knew each other and seemed like they already knew which partner they’d pick. And then there was me. Luckily the instructor shook things up a bit and partnered me with someone. A Ukrainian named Tatiana.   Oh-kaaaay? This was my first indication that this might not be the best fit for me. Tatiana was about 15 pounds heavier than me (pure muscle, like the purest and strongest muscle I’ve ever seen) and the look on her face as she approached me was the same look my elementary school PE teacher gave me when my eight-year-old self explained why I would not be performing my forward roll. For the record, it was the ‘80’s and I spent too much time fluffing my feathered bangs with Aquanet to risk them falling for a “forward roll”.

Anyway, the instructor gave the order for one partner to put on gloves and the other to get the mitt. I got the gloves first. Then she started calling out moves. The punches I nailed with the precision of Caitlyn Jenner’s pee stream after wacking off his peenie. Got it in the bowl but kinda all over the place. “Ok, I can do this. Wait, which one did she just call? Daaam I’m lost. Cross, hook, elbow, elbow, what? Oh, I like that girl’s shirt. I wonder wher- Huh? Dang, time to switch. Wait, how did everyone get their gloves off so fast?? Oh Dear Lord Baby Jesus mine are stuck.”

Then it was Tatiana’s turn for the gloves. “I should get a break. I think I just stand here with the mitt and do nothing… good I can kind of chill out and- OUCH!!!!! Damn! Does she have fists of iron? Why does she hate me?” All things running through my head in the first 5 seconds. Didn’t get much better from there. But I did learn a valuable lesson:

I don’t need an AncestryDNA test to uncover that I don’t have the DNA of a Doberman Pinscher. I have the DNA of a cute, tiny little squirrel. Not even the flying kind. Just a normal, run of the mill squirrel. Isn’t that a devastating blow?!

I haven’t been back. I was so sore after that first class that I couldn’t move for about a week so by the time it wore off and I was able to function again, the excitement wore off. Now I’m just too busy. I have my family, my comedy, my hair needs a good washin’. I got stuff that needs me. I could use that $40 back but that’s ok. We’ll call it even.  In the meantime I’ll stick to running.

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The Best List of Favorite Things EVER!

Every once in awhile products (or just stuffs in general) come along that make me swoon. Whether they’re time savers, money savers, youth savers, or sanity savers, I take notice and shout from the rooftop how much I love them. Well, today my computer is my rooftop and this post is my shout.

#1

Time Saver Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Nail Polish.

Yes, I’m still in love. This little beauty is, for me, both a money saver and a time saver. I hate paying money for something I can do myself. So for around $14 USD I can get a bottle of color and a bottle of the essential top coat instead of spending $20 a pop at the salon. Do I still paint my nails like a 2 year old hopped up on Red Dye #40? Yes. But I just paint before the shower or run a cotton swab dipped in polish remover around the messed up part (AKA my whole hand) and it’s like a pro did it. Bam. Plus, it dries in around 2 minutes in natural light so I have less of a chance of messing it up when my ADD kicks in.

#2

Beauty Saver Beauty Counter Charcoal Mask

Y’all, for real. Getchusum. Send my friend Jennifer an email at hashtagsaferbeauty@gmail.com and she’ll hook you up. This stuff is amaze. In fact, I need to call her, too. I’m out. One of the things I love about all things Beauty Counter is that their reps can tell you every ingredient in their products. They are big on knowing what you put in and on your body and who can argue with that?? It’s a one-stop-shop for skincare AND makeup which is great.  Plus, since everything is a la carte, you won’t end up with another bottle of toner to add to the four you haven’t used yet when all you need is cleanser.

#3

Youth Saver Rodan + Fields Redefine Acute Care strips

These little strips look like they may whiten your teeth but don’t be deceived. They are WAY better than that. Buy a box and you’ll look younger than your toddler in no time. Just peel off the back, stick it on your forehead or crows feet, press it down real good, and let it do the work. After a few weeks you’ll realize that those lines have packed their bags and moved on to that biatch Tiffi down the street. Or her bestie who tried Botox and got her face temporarily paralyzed. Not you. Cuz you called my friend Mitzi (heck, just email her at mymoorhead@gmail.com) and she hooked you up with Acute Care strips. You’re welcome.

#4

Sanity Saver AND Money Saver Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling purchased from Costco

Now, in a pinch I’ll purchase this bottle from Mars if need be. This wine is my JAM! I always have a least one bottle ready for me in the event of an emergency (please read “emergency” as any time of my life). However, if I can get it from Costco, I spend $9 on a bottle. NINE DOLLARS. My local grocery store is $10 on a good day. One glass at a restaurant is $8 at best. So, for one dollar more than a glass, I can purchase a bottle from Costco. Plus, I love Costco. It’s the only place in the world I can go for spring water and leave with a printer, a set of new tires, a 5 gallon bottle of Champagne, and lobster tails. And enough cookies to feed my kids’ entire school.

#5

All my favorite things rolled into one: Comedian Red Squirrel

Ok, this lady is HER-LARIOUS. Google her name and watch what videos pop up. She’s gaining popularity with her being on tour with Southern Mama Darren Knight and rightfully so. It’s always refreshing to see someone doing well who is genuinely funny and nice. Follow her on Facebook for even more funny stuff. If you have a chance to see her in person, DO IT.

#6

Time Saver and Beauty Saver Dry Shampoo

OMG if I were on a deserted island and could only have one thing with me, I wouldn’t need this because I’d have super sexy beach hair.  But I’m not so I rely very heavily on my dry shampoo so that I can go four days- ok, ok, five days without washing my hair.  It’s the biggest time saver AND I always get hair compliments after I use it.  My fave brands are Bumble & Bumble and Aveda.  Bumble & Bumble has tinted shampoo so I don’t look like I have crack sprinkled in my blackish hair BUT Aveda smells delicious AND non-aerosol so it won’t give me bald spots from the blast.  Ladies, if you are one who HAS to wash your hair everyday, give dry shampoo a try.

Ok, that’s it. That’s all I have right now. Everything listed above is truly my fave. No one paid me to write this. But if they want, that’s cool. I can always use a new shirt that doesn’t have dried baby puke on it from nine years ago.  (Just kidding. Kind of.) If you have any awesome things to add to the list, let me know in the comments!

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Selfie Instructions for Guys

Ever seen someone who looks like something else? Maybe a person looks like a shark or a meerkat or an owl… Well, I recently had one of those encounters. Kind of.

The other day I saw a guy whose head & neck looked like a penis. An uncircumcised penis. Normally I wouldn’t embellish upon something that a person can’t help, but this guy’s hair cut emphasized the similarity so I feel like he’s embracing it. Which means it’s fair game for me. And I haven’t been able to forget it since. He was like a walking dick pic and who would I be if I kept that information to myself???

I feel like I should take this opportunity to share with men how we, women, feel about dick pics. Well, at least how I would feel if I received one. I’ve had too many friends tell me that this is an epidemic for those dating online and I think there needs to be some guidance on the topic. Luckily, I’m happily married and he doesn’t feel the need to remind me what it looks like when we aren’t physically in the same room together. But if he is quietly contemplating it, here’s the deal:

Guys, it’s not a compliment for someone to tell you that you look like a penis. I feel like that needs to be made clear. Boys are always trying to get anyone and everyone to look at their penises! I’ve had the chance to watch how this plays out with Roman and learned that it essentially begins at birth. He’s constantly saying, “Look at my penis!” as he runs butt-ass naked through our living room which, by the way, has 8 floor to ceiling windows. #werethebestneighbors.  I had to resort to telling him that the dog might think it’s a worm and bite it if he doesn’t put underwear on…

Don’t get me wrong: I appreciate a good penis as much as any hetero woman or gay man. But, let’s be honest, they were built for function. Like a furnace. A furnace is essential to the comfort of a home. It should be well built, in the typical furnace shape, placed in an inconspicuous location, and big enough to do the job. But if everything is “normal”, no one needs to know about it before inspection time and it stays behind a closet door in the basement and everyone is happy.

Guys- don’t lead with your furnace!

Let me put it into perspective. Imagine you’re looking for a house. A “forever home”. You go to the real estate app, you put in your requirements. And there it is. The perfect house. You scroll through the pictures. Outside of the house, front porch, furnace… WTF! That’s odd and out of place. Or maybe you see an online listing with just one picture. You love the outside of that house. Below the picture is the number for the listing agent and the promise of more information. You call the number. You have a lovely conversation and arrange a showing. Five minutes later you get a text. It’s the agent! And he’s sent you a picture of the furnace. Uh…

But that’s what you guys do!

Now, if you have an unfortunate micro-penie or it’s shaped like a teardrop, maybe list that in your disclosure. That way, potential buyers know upfront what they’re getting into. If not, we’re good.

Slight tangent alert: is there any type of penis disclosures for people who “court”? Like the Duggars? Cuz if I’ve saved myself for marriage, which I totally did (shut up), and I chose a husband with a teardrop-shaped micropenie, which I discover on my wedding night when it’s too late… I’d be pissed.

I can’t think of any instance when I was dating that I thought to myself “I’m gonna pop my foot up here on the counter and take a pic of my vag and send it to this guy. That’ll hook him for sure.” Because God knew what he was doing when he put lady and man parts where he did. Obviously, it was the 11th hour on the 6th day and he was tired and over this thing so he just clopped some leftover clay together and stuck it on.

I don’t think God intended for us to put our faces down there & stare at it when he settled on the design. Eve said, “Hey, Adam, sorry about that whole tree/snake thing. How can I make it up to you?” And Adam said, “Weeeeeeell….” And God said, “facepalm””. Guys don’t care how weird their penises look. They just like them because they do cool things with it and think that women should be just as intrigued.

But they look like something my kids bring home from art class. Like the clay sculpture of a narwhal my daughter brought home when she was in kindergarten. By the time I saw it the horn was missing, it was kinda wonky, but she yelled, “LOOK! Look at my masterpiece!” She was so proud so I bragged on it. Then she said, “Take a picture!” So I did. And I posted it to Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat cuz it looked like a penis. And everyone hit the “wow” emoji because they were hilariously appalled by it.

You guys are so proud of your penises. “Honey! Come here! Look at my dick! It looks like a narwhal when I flex it! Look! It’s dancing! Take a picture!” Why? Women don’t do that. Women don’t say, “Hey, babe, look! My vag looks like that clam we saw on Nat Geo. Look. And when I flex it looks like it’s trying to close its shell. Look! Take a picture.” No! Women don’t do that! Because, for the most part, we don’t wanna take a picture to commemorate something that isn’t beautiful. And to qualify as beautiful, it almost always involves sparkle either literally or figuratively. Does it sparkle guys? No? Then chances are, it isn’t attractive. Functionality isn’t enough!

It’s why we have the bedazzler- to beautify the functional things in the world. Trucker hats- bedazzle ’em. Blue jeans- more rhinestones please. Our vages… That’s right, guys. It’s called a Vajazzle in honor of the marriage between the bedazzle and the vagina. Like all great unions, Kimye to commemorate Kim & Kanye, TomKat to commemorate Tom Cruise and Katie- never mind. Not a good example. Brangelina to- ok, this isn’t working out the way I meant it to. Anyway, it’s a thing.

For those of you who don’t know, the Vajazzle is another way for us women to pamper ourselves under the guise of doing it for you when you complain about another $50 spent at the salon. If a man manipulates a situation to his benefit, he’s a sociopath. If a woman does it, she’s just good at being a woman. We’re pros at this. We will swear it’s for you. “How DARE you suggest that I WANT to spend $50 to lay on a table for an hour while I get GLUE poured on my lady parts with sparkly rhinestones meticulously placed in gorgeous, intricate designs. How DARE you! I do this for YOU.” No we don’t. This is totally for us. Because guys don’t understand the beauty that is the sparkle.

Is $50 too much to spend to put some party in our pants? Absolutely. Will that stop us? No. You had us at “-azzle”. Women love to sparkle. Then we come home, go to the bathroom to check out the results and yell, “Honey! Come here! Look at my vag, it sparkles! Look! If I flex, look! It looks like a disco ball! Take a picture.”

Just kidding. That never happens.

 

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Rompers are Assholes

Rompers. I love them. They’re super cute, super comfy. It’s a one-&-done fashion choice, much like a dress. If I could wear rompers to work, I would wear them every day. Every. Single. Day.

They do, however, have one design flaw.

Saturday my hunky hubs and I went to dinner with some good friends. One of those rare kids-free nights. I was so excited because I bought a new romper a few weeks ago that I hadn’t had a chance to wear yet. It’s beautiful. White with navy blue embroidery, flowy, and ethereal with a plunging neckline. I knew that plunging necklines and alcohol sometimes equal a peek-a-boo boob so I was extra cautious by covering the nips with some band-aids. Prollem solved!

We Ubered to the restaurant.

Side Bar: if you are EVER in Atlanta and hungry, go to Nuevo Laredo. Order chorizo.  Doesn’t even matter how you deliver it into your belly. Just a side of it- delicious. Chorizo quesadilla- delicious. Cheese dip with chorizo dumped in it- delicious. You get the idea. If you’re thirsty, get the Cadillac margarita. Bam. Mexican food heaven. Ok, back to the night in question.

It was a Saturday evening, around 7pm so there was a fairly lengthy wait. We ordered Cadillacs, grabbed some chips and salsa, and waited patiently for our name to be called. Interesting tid-bit of info: it was unexpectedly windy. Given that I hadn’t accounted for weather behaving like a pissed off two-year-old, I kept having to ensure adequate coverage up top. No worries. After the first almost-exposure of indecency I was aware of the need to brace my chesticles each time the wind blew. Preparedness. Boom.

Eventually our name was called and we sat down, continuing our fun like civilized people, at a table. However, soon enough, nature came a-callin’. I excused myself from the group and naively ventured to the bathroom, unaware of the battle I was about to endure.

As I entered the stall, I remembered that I would have to completely disrobe. Not a problem. It’s a thing with rompers. You can’t just pull your pants down like you can when you’re wearing… well, pants. You can’t just pull your dress up like you can when you’re wearing… you guessed it! A dress. You have to reverse your dressed state from the top. Usually a non-issue for the other, less fancy rompers that I have. However, have you ever tried to take off a shirt by shoving your arm through the neck hole? It’s like trying to dance with an octopus. Or trying to break the embrace of a python. All the while trying to be as graceful as possible because a) I’m in a bathroom stall where, at any time, someone can come in and see my plight through the unusually large cracks in the bathroom door.

Slight tangent alert: Really? Why even have doors on the stalls if I can see right through the cracks? God and everybody know I’m in there. Not just because they know it’s occupied, but because they can see me. ME. Like wave at me and say, “Hi, E! How’s your mom n them doing?” FIX THE CRACKS!!!!!!!!

Ok, back to it. B) I’m trying not to rip my romper with my elbow. ALSO, there are long, decorative ties on my sleeves that I’m trying to keep from getting dirty on the floor AND trying to keep from landing in toilet water. As you can tell, I was a mess.

I eventually wrangled that python, did my business, and made it back to the table after what felt like a few hours. But we learn the best lessons in our darkest hours so here’s what I took away:

ROMPERS NEED A BETTER EXIT STRATEGY!

Could we please have a trap door? Or maybe the buttons that baby onesies have? Is that too much to ask? Maybe there’s a better option, I don’t know. But I can’t be the only person to experience this unfortunate event while just tryin to look supes cute in a romper!

Suggestions anyone?

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What I’ve Learned in Six Years of Marriage

Y’all, Sunday was a special day. It marked the sixth anniversary of the day I said “I do!” to my husband (and he said it back). We had a “unique” start to our marriage. We both came into the marriage with a failed one under our belts, little 3-year-old Bella along for the ride, and I was pregnant with the unsuspecting man-sized baby Roman. The odds haven’t always been in our favor and there have been moments for both of us when we questioned what we’re doing. We don’t always get along. There are some fundamental differences we will always have. But I know I have a loyal partner and devoted dad. He is my best friend and my greatest supporter. Hopefully he feels the same way about me. I’ve learned a lot along the way. Most of the things I’ve learned would have made my marriage easier had I learned them sooner. So, if you’re contemplating marriage, even if you’ve done it before, read these lessons as a heads-up for what might be coming your way. For those veterans out there, let me know what I’ve missed.

Here are the four biggest things I’ve learned throughout my six years of marriage:

  1. Marriage is work. And one person can’t do it all. It takes both people fully committed to the marriage at all times. Even when you’re mad or sad or deflated or exhausted or sleeping or trying to sleep but you can’t cuz “someone” snores like a garbage disposal swallowing a metal spoon so you’re mad, sad, frustrated, and exhausted all at once and you start replaying that episode of Snapped where the woman got away with it, unless you fully expect to tell your kids “I left because I couldn’t take the snoring”, you still have to be committed… all the way to the sleep apnea doctor. I don’t think I really understood this and accepted it until well into our marriage. I was quick to say, “I think you should go.” Unfortunately I didn’t complete that sentence with “to the shooting range” or “buy yourself a TV”. He would have appreciated that more.  Know your boundaries and communicate them. Part of being committed 100% is communication. Say what you mean and mean what you say. You don’t have to say it mean but sometimes that helps 😉 Knowing your boundaries allows you to know when to give in and when to dig in your spiked stiletto heels.
  2. Marriage with babies is exhausting. Know this going in. Now, there’s no way for you to fully comprehend the level of exhaustion that you’ll experience until you are already in it. But know that it’s exhaustion like you can’t fathom. And in that state of exhaustion you have to take care of a little human being who doesn’t give a shat how exhausted you are. Or how sick you are. Or how busy you are. Or what your deadlines are for work. So now we have exhaustion, a demanding little person who can’t communicated in any other way than with super-sonic boom cries at 2:00 am, 2:15 am, 3 am, 3:12 am, 3:30 am, 3:31 am, 3:33 am, 4 am, 5 am… ALARM CLOCK!!! Time to get ready for work! Are you ready? Who’s ready? Oh, and after you work a full day, pick your baby up from daycare, feed the baby, bathe the baby, feed the baby again, put the baby to bed for the 1 hour you’ll get before the next crying sesh, you need to make purposeful time to spend with your partner. Um… what? All I want to do is watch reality TV to make me feel better about myself, drink a glass of wine, and kill some dark chocolate before I fall asleep on the couch in the middle of chewing my food. The trick is to keep it fun. Find a show to binge watch together and have a standing date on the couch. And let him be your face’s pillow when you pass out.
  3. Marriage with toddlers is war. Every minute is a battle. If you aren’t fighting your little person with newly found independence, you’re probably fighting with your spouse over something to do with parenting. Or something to do with how your routine has unexpectedly changed. “Why has the same load of laundry been drying for 3 days?” Well, maybe it’s because I keep forgetting the clothes are there and I have to wash them over again. Six times. Believe me, it’s not optimal for either of us. Know that it’s ok to fight. It’s healthy. And (this one was very important for me to learn) every fight doesn’t mean the end of the relationship. In fact, it can mean the strength of your relationship increases.
  4. Marriage with kids is a rollercoaster. Your kids are finally old enough to communicate when they’re sick, sad, hungry, thirsty, heartbroken, mad at you.  But when your kids crawl into your lap without warning and hug you and tell you how much they love you or when you take them somewhere fun and you hear them say, “THIS IS THE BEST. DAY. EVER!!!!” that’s your reward for passing stages one and two, grabbing the flagpole at the VERY TOP and saving the princess twice without losing any lives. This is the stage when you are probably more aligned strategically with your spouse. It’s probably more often a “parents vs. kids” situation where kids frequently say, “you’re mean! No one here even likes me!” If you hear this at least once a day, you’re probably doing this parenting thing perfectly and should consider writing a book. Also, date nights for us have happened more frequently at this stage than before because 1) it’s much easier to leave them when they’re yelling at you because you said ‘no’ to 3 brownies and 2) they’re vocal enough that you can trust them to tell you anything you may need to know, i.e. a bad babysitter. Marriage, parenting, life can all be scary. And that’s ok.

So I still don’t have it all figured out. Life is uncharted waters. But it’s nice to know I have a sailing partner. Hopefully we’ll still be just as committed to each other and our marriage in 50 years as we are right now. That’s right, I have him til he’s 91. What’s your best marriage advice?

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How Homework Made Me Stupid

Homework. That eight-letter compound word has become synonymous with Hell for me. Growing up I always thought that once I was out of school I’d be done with it. Homework was but a temporary evil to get through so that I could get my degree and move on with my life. Oh how wrong was I.

When I was in school, I don’t remember having homework until maybe 2nd or 3rd grade. Maybe I did, I don’t know. But kindergarten for me was half-days. Your parents could sign you up for morning or afternoon. Sprinkled into the strenuous 4 hour day was also naptime and recess. {And we wondered why Japanese students were so much smarter.}

So, you could imagine my confusion when we registered Bella for kindergarten and she was EVALUATED for sight words, math skills, and reading… uh… isn’t this where she learns her alphabet? Cuz that’s what we’ve killed. Test her on that.

Then the HOMEWORK. WHAT??? I naïvely assumed that the homework was something she should be able to complete on her own. I would be there to make sure she was focused (by the way, not my strong point either) but the work was something she could work through. I was wrong. That’s when I came to the realization that homework isn’t for the kids. It’s for the parents. Like some covert CIA program to ensure parents don’t get stupid.

Bella: “Mommy, I don’t know how to do this problem. It’s for math.”

Me: “Oh, heck yes. Math I can do! ‘Deconstruct the number 10’. Deconstruct? What’s that mean, Bella? Did your teacher show you how to do this?

Bella: “Yes, but I don’t really understand. You can help me, right, Mommy?”

Me: “Uh, sure! Yes! I can help you, baby girl. Let me just find my computer.” (As I quickly pull up Google and define ‘deconstruction’ as it relates to math.)

Obviously, homework is created to provide validation to my children that, no, Mommy DOESN’T know everything and should, as a result, be constantly questioned anytime she states anything as fact.

Bella (or Roman at this point): “Can I have a root beer?”

Me: “No, you’ve already had one. You’ve also had a cupcake, rice krispy treat, and 5 Girl Scout cookies. You don’t need that much sugar. It’s bad for you.”

My kid: “Well… you couldn’t even help me deconstruct the number 10 last night so… maybe we should ask Google about the sugar thing, just to be sure.”

Fuq you, homework. Fuq you.

Another thing I want to point out is the strain that homework puts on my marriage. I would love to know how many divorces are attributed to disputes that began related to homework.

Nothing will start a marital spat in my home quicker than either my husband or me incorrectly instructing one of the kids in an effort to help and the other spouse catching the mistake.

“No, that’s not the correct conjugation of the verb.”

“Um, YOU asked me to help.”

And so it begins. Next thing you know it’s World War III in our kitchen. Fuq you, homework. Fuq you. I didn’t know I was supposed to add, “through incorrect homework instruction and correct” to my wedding vows.

By now, Bella’s got the homework thing down for the most part. The biggest issue we have with her is getting her to turn it in. Roman, however, is just getting in the swing. Most days look like this:

 

Hopefully these are growing pains that will get better. All I know is that I didn’t sign up for this shat. I’m frustrated. But at least I’m pretty.

Anyone have any tricks to make homework easier?

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How to Survive Your First Parental Experience with Stitches

The Incident

I hit the parent jackpot. One beautiful, dainty little girl and one headstrong, full-throttle little boy. Perfect. From the outside it seems like it should be all rainbows and unicorns (with some fart jokes sprinkled in) where everyone is always 100% healthy and happy. But that façade collapsed last week with one phone call.

It was inevitable, the call I received. It was one of the ladies from the after-school program, “Mrs. Benefield, Roman has fallen and hit his head. I wanted to let you know. It’s pretty bad.”

Me, not fully grasping what I’m being told, stupidly ask, “I need to come get him?”

To which she patiently explains, “yes, he has a gash on his head.”

She let me speak to him. He sounded ok. I told him he was my brave little man and I’d be on my way to get him not really knowing what I would see.

Now, let me defend my stupid question by explaining that sometimes we get panicked phone calls that aren’t really emergencies. The ladies that run the after-school program double as the cafeteria workers. They’re super sweet grandmother-types who err on the side of caution. Like if caution were to look at someone and say, “whoa, they’re cautious” it would be describing these women. We’ve had some false alarms. But we’ve also had some situations with Roman that have caused him to have permanent bumps and scars on his forehead. Nothing that has required medical attention aside from my husband (who is a medical professional) putting his skin back together with glue, but still there have been “situations” to give the sweet lunch ladies some credit.

Once I arrived at the school, I walked in to pick him up and saw him sitting on the table with an audience of kids and lunch ladies surrounding him. He had a rag with ice in it against his forehead. He pulled the rag away and immediately my eyes go to the culprit of the drama. The little boy I sent to school perfectly intact now had about a half-inch gash on his forehead above his eye. But, surprisingly, it didn’t seem as bad as the last incident at school that involved the metal part of the door lock going into his head. It wasn’t even bleeding anymore.

Next, I took a picture and sent it to my husband and much to my surprise he told me to take him to urgent care. Like now. He knew it needed stitches. What? I mean, ok. Maybe overreacting a little but he’s the one with a medical degree so…

Roman needs stitches… apparently
The Fix

We pulled into the children’s urgent care and I got him checked in. He and my daughter were running around playing and laughing and- STOP!!!!! His head started to bleed. I grabbed a tissue to wipe away the blood and a clear liquid flowed out of the wound. Ok, stitches, I get it. I totally get it. I will never secretly question my husband’s medical direction ever again. Ever. But for that moment I was just trying not to puke or pass out or provide any indication to my sweet, brave little man that his head was kinda gnarly and he’d need to get stitched up like a teddy bear that fell victim to the family dog.

For Bella’s part, she was the perfect big sister. She was patient and loving and said anything she could think of to help ease his anxiety when he thought he might get a shot or the other dreaded “s” word… STITCHES. Some of her words may have done more damage than help but she was trying so hard to put him at ease.

As a side note, let me just say that taking him to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s urgent care center was the BEST decision. They knew immediately he needed stitches. But instead of saying the “s” word, (which would have flipped him the fuq out) everyone referred to them as “magic thread” that would make his head go back together. I think Bella was intrigued by the possibility of seeing magic thread at work as well. She’d been watching a Netflix show about this very subject of magic with a fairy princess and her pet unicorn sprinkled in so she was pretty sure it was a real thing and played right along, helping to seal the validity in Roman’s mind of the claims of magic being made by these nurses.

The nurse numbed his head with numbing cream and after about 30 minutes we were called back to get the “magic threads”.

A doctor, a nurse, and a medical assistant walk into a bar… just kidding. They all worked on my Roman to sew him back together. The result was beautiful. Five stitches in all. Afterward I asked Roman if he realized he just got stitches. He started to tear up and say that he was scared to get stitches. However, once he understood that it was over and he ALREADY had them, he was proud. The highlight of the situation was this little dialogue:

ME: Roman! You just got stitches, man! Chicks dig men with scars, just sayin’.

Bella: Yeah, Roman! Girls love boys with injuries!

Ever the little momma to her little brother… and he was so brave and proud of his braveness.

Here’s the final result!

All stitched up! Thank God for Dad and his guidance!
So, in conclusion, that was my first (and hopefully last) experience with stitches. Anyone else have a similar experience?

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How to Pivot Your Life Awesome

Pivots. I need one right now. Life is all about the pivot (please tell me you say that word in your brain to the voice of Ross Geller on Friends). How you handle a change in trajectory can determine positive from negative, good from bad, electric chair candidate from hero. But it can mean taking your life from blah to infinitely better.

I haven’t always handled the pivot well. Maybe I’ve watched too much Snapped? Too much 20/20? Nah. Whatever the reason, I resist change. But I’ve learned that sometimes change is the nudge I need to get to a better vantage point for life. A higher plateau from which to shoot my arrows at the people who nee observe life.

My parents’ divorce, the tragedy that almost cost my dad his life and forever changed the way he exists in this world, my own divorce, getting out of my hometown, rising above rumors and reputations, financial struggles, juggling a career, a new marriage, and a sick baby, unexpectedly renovating a house, blending a family… I’ve experienced all of those things. Struggles are everyone’s constant. They are always around the corner lurking like the uncle that none of the kids are allowed to be alone with (there’s one in every family, right?)

“Uncle Gene is the BEST! He gave me candy!”

(Slaps the candy away)“Nope, Uncle Gene is a weirdo. Stay away from Uncle Gene.”

But struggles aren’t life’s somehow personified way of kicking you down. They’re just life. Mostly for me, self-inflicted. I can admit that. But so what?

Pivot.

It’s scary. I know. The pivot is change. It’s unknown. Sometimes the struggle is more comfortable than the change. At least you know what to expect with the struggle. But I promise it’s worth it.

If you’re unhappy right now with life, look for the opportunities for change. If you can’t find the opportunities, find someone who has the outcome you’re looking for and do what they’ve done. Talk to people. Research. There’s always a way. Successful people aren’t special. They haven’t been chosen to be successful by life where life’s like, “Oh, yeah, don’t mess with Becky. She has good hair so leave her alone.” They’re successful because they’ve used an opportunity to better themselves. Successful people aren’t entitled and they know that. They get shat done for themselves in spite of the struggles. No excuses.

One thing I’ve noticed is that many of my life changes have happened because I felt like I had no choice. Looking back, I always had choices. But it seems like in those situations, when I throw my hands up and let Jesus take the wheel, a la Carrie Underwood, that’s when the pivots happen.

Don’t let Uncle Gene get the better of you. Kick him in the groin and run away. And if you pass your cousin about to eat his candy, smack it out of little Johnny’s hand on your way out the door. And know you’ll be ok.

When have you changed your own trajectory for the better?  Let me know in the comments.  You may just help someone make their own!

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