Someone Ate My Kid’s Waffle

Parents know all too well that the world is full of threats and dangers to our most precious little gifts. Dingos, wells, white vans with no windows… all dangerous. We know this. But sometimes… usually just when you think you’re getting the hang of this parenting thing, you find yourself in a situation that you realize, after it’s too late, that you aren’t prepared for. Panic sets in. You’ve found a new danger zone.

That’s what happened when someone took a bite of my son’s waffle at a restaurant. Nope, you didn’t read that wrong. Someone (I like to think it was a ghost because I don’t think ghosts have spit or diseases) put their mouth on food that wasn’t even on their table.

Before that moment, my greatest fear while dining out alone with my potty-trained kids was that one of them would have to “go potty”, the server would think we left, and throw our food away before we had a chance to eat it. But I now know that’s not the worst thing that can happen.

I was so proud to get my kids potty trained. It’s a milestone lauded by smart people who write books and stuff as evidence of a child’s advancement toward becoming a successful member of society and I taught my kids how to do that. I think the logic is infant, potty-trained child, Harvard attendant, cardio thoracic surgeon, successful at life. However, no one talks about the cons.

For example: once my kids are officially potty training, it’s super inconvenient for me. There’s no safety net. If they have an “accident”, that means dirty poop pants. That means that I get to put clean clothes on them and wash the dirty pee or poop clothes. Sometimes this could happen more than 4 times a day. It’s expensive and time consuming. And frustrating.

Also, my kids learned that if they said the magic words, “I need to go potty”, I would drop EVERYTHING and take them to the nearest restroom. They were in complete control. The moment we walked into a store or restaurant, guess what they said… I once asked my daughter, “do you really need to go potty or do you just want to check out the restroom?” She replied, “I just want to check out the restroom.” At least she was honest.

Then, this one day… it was a Saturday. My hubs was on call so he was spending his morning at the hospital. I decided to take the kiddos to get breakfast at a fancy sit-down restaurant. We ordered. Kids were coloring. The world was at peace. Then it happened. “Mommy, I gotta go potty.” Ok. I got this. I found our server and told him that we were going to the restroom. We’re safe.

After what felt like 5 years, my son did his bid-naz and we made our way back to our table where our food was already waiting. We sat down and my son said, “Mommy, who bit my waffle?” Um… what? I looked over. There it was. As clear as day. A bite mark. I surveyed the room. What fuq’n weirdo took a bite of my son’s waffle? Everyone’s a suspect. What do I do? Call the FBI? No. I’m too conflict adverse.

I packed up my children, declared I would NOT pay for that waffle, and we left. Because WHAT THA FUQ.

So, to all my friends out there about to be parents for the first time or about to embark on potty training for the first time, beware of venturing out to restaurants without backup. Not saying don’t do it. Just saying keep your guard up. And maybe ask the server to keep your food safe in the kitchen until you return?

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How to Cleanse Like a Pro

My panic face. Keep this in mind. You’ll need it for the visual.

It’s Just a Cleanse

Y’all, I just tried my first cleanse. Being a middle-aged woman (O.M.G. I can’t believe I just put that out into the universe… I feel sick… sick from old age & honesty), I can no longer simultaneously eat like a sumo wrestler AND have the waist of a Kardashian. As a matter of fact, it’s doubtful that I could eat like a breatharian and have the waist of a Kardashian. But, that’s ok. Looking like a ghetto barbie who won the lottery isn’t my thing. I do, however, want to be healthy.

When I’m not taking care of myself, my whole being feels “off”. I’ve been in peak physical shape before. Like, waaaay before. So, when I’ve had one too many cheat days my body yells at me like a drunk momma in Walmart. After listening to the yelling for a while, I finally decided that my body needed a reset.

I heard a lot about detoxes and cleanses and from what I could tell with the extensive googling I did, there didn’t seem to be much difference between the two. You just drink the drinks or swallow the pills and your body expels the bad like that kid in my high school that stabbed the principal with a fork. I couldn’t find much explanation on HOW the bad stuff gets eliminated but I figured I’d prolly have to pee a lot. It couldn’t be too bad… seems pretty popular. Popular things are never bad.

As luck would have it, my medically knowledgeable hubs heard me talk about my desire to clean out my body so he bought us both a 14-day supply of cleanse tablets, the men’s version for himself, the women’s version for me. I started right away. On a Sunday evening. AKA, the night before my daughter’s first overnight field trip. It was a big night for both of us. She was experiencing a rite of passage. And so was I.

What Had Happened Was…

I made sure to take the gender appropriate tablets cuz I really don’t wanna grow a penis at this age. Full disclosure, I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t immediately have to pee. But I reminded myself to be patient… Rome wasn’t built in a day or whatever. So I got ready for bed, set my alarm for 5:30 am, and drifted off to sleep eager to wake up ten pounds lighter, svelt, and flat bellied. Bella had to be at school with all of her stuff by 7:40 am the next morning so I wanted to make sure I was giving myself time to drive the kids to school and help her carry her stuff in. Little did I know, I would not need the aforementioned alarm. (foreshadowing!!!)

Around 5 am I woke up with a mean case of the bubble guts. In my semi-lucid state, I figured the best course of action would be to ignore it and try to go back to sleep. I’m a southern woman- it’s what we do. If we wake up to a problem, we go back to sleep until it goes away. Just kidding… or am I? Anyway, I hate mornings. I mean I HAAAAAAYYYYYTE them. If I were to rank them among the things I hate the most it would go Hitler, my 4th grade teacher, mornings. So if I can get 15 more minutes of sleep, this classy lady is gonna power through the bubble guts.

I fell asleep for a minute and then abruptly woke up to sharp abdominal pains. Like the kind you get after eating questionable meat nachos at a gas station. I was afraid to move. What was the cause of this pain? Was my bladder THAT full? Once the pain subsided enough I shuffled to the bathroom. I mean, I did need to pee so that must be it. And pee I did. But not out of THAT hole. What was happening??? After what felt like 5 years I composed myself enough to get dressed and get the kids up. I was, at this point, about 10 minutes off schedule. No problem. I could make that time up with a little dry shampoo for myself and motivation for the kids. Like a drill sergeant I was shouting motivational phrases at my darling children like, “HURRY! You don’t need matching socks! Just grab 2 from the top of your hamper!” And it worked! At 6:50 am we were all downstairs with the kids eating a delicious homemade breakfast of frozen waffles.

Down But Not Out

And then… proving lightening sometimes DOES strike twice… it hit me again. There was nothing I could do except sit on the porcelain throne of horror and pee what should have been solid out of the other hole… again. You know when your kid brings you their toothpaste tube saying there’s no more but you know the trick of rolling the tube to get the last out and it just keeps coming out and then you can’t get it to stop? Yep. At 7:02 I started to panic. My baby girl was going to miss the field trip she’d looked forward to for 3 months because I couldn’t stop shatting. How do I sign my kids into the school office? In the “reason” block do I put “cleanse gone wrong”? How do I tell Bella that she got left behind because I couldn’t stop the toxins from flowing out of my body like liquid hot magma? I could’t let that happen.

I dug deep, y’all. I couldn’t let shat defeat me or disappoint my baby girl. I started channeling my drill sergeant again. From behind the bathroom door I yelled, “Bella! Roman! Get your stuff together! Put your shoes on! Do you have your snacks? Get in the car! I’ll be right there!” I said a prayer, made a few promises to Jesus that I fully expect to keep, and took care of business in every way. Somehow I managed to get my kids to school in time. Bella had 10 minutes to spare. And I worked from home that day because I couldn’t risk being the girl who lost bowel control at the office.

Moral of the Story:

A cleanse means that you will poo until your innards liquify and fall out of your body. Also, I’m still a contender for Mom of the Year and have a great story for the awards video montage, although it’s kinda gross. So, I guess you could say my chances are pretty good. I’m excited about it.

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Take A Step

Surprise!

When I became a mom I was surprised by quite a few things. For instance, I was surprised that I could still function enough to walk down the aisles of Target on just 30 minutes of sleep. Of course, I didn’t remember why I was there or how I got there, but I was there, nonetheless. Another surprise: how much poop could come out of a tiny, adorable baby body. You know the chocolate fountain at Golden Corral? Yeah… it’s like that. But with poo. Exploding poo. However, nothing surprised me as much as waking up from a years’ long parenting-induced fog, realizing that my whole identity had to be rediscovered and redefined.

My Name Is…

I didn’t lose myself over night. Like the proverbial frog in hot water, my sense of identity died a slow, sneaky death. I used to know exactly who I was and what I wanted out of life. I mean… I was ERICA! Short in stature, tall in sarcasm, with the misplaced attack instincts of a chihuahua. I was the same Erica who did exactly what was expected of me until my first abnormally large tramp stamp tattoo at the age of 21. The same Erica who moved to Italy by myself for the summer after I graduated from college because the idea of going back to my hometown made me feel like I was suffocating. The same Erica wanted nothing more out of life than to make everyone laugh.

Who Am I?

Yet, there I was, holding my new baby boy, my three-year-old little girlie by my side, a supportive husband, and I had no idea who I was anymore. My confidence was gone. I felt like an empty shell. Nothing that I used to enjoy made me happy anymore. One day I stopped singing in the car at the top of my lungs. One day I stopped watching Napoleon Dynamite on loop. Don’t get me wrong: I adored being a mom and still do. But in my mind, I was not good enough at it. Good moms spend every waking moment with their babies. I had to leave my babies every day. I had to pay my bills. I had obligations. I had to go to work. The career I used to be so proud of now made me cringe like the creepy guy in high school who followed me around trying to smell my hair. The career I worked so hard to build was now making me deeply and painfully resentful and I didn’t know how to fix it.

A switch flipped. The demands of my new family construct AND trying to excel in my career were suddenly overwhelming. I was no longer the person who I used to know so assuredly that I was. I couldn’t manage the simplest tasks without crushing exhaustion. I just wanted to close myself in a room with my babies and lock out the world.

Who was I? A mom? A wife? I was a person without a first name. I was no longer Erica. I was Roman’s mom. I was Bella’s mom. I was Rick’s wife. Erica was invisible. If I happened to have five minutes to myself, what would I do? Scrap book? NO! Cry in my closet. That’s what. I had no hobbies. Outside of my daily routine I was lost. How long had I been like this? I felt like I’d been in a time-warping fog and now the fog was lifting and I had to reorient myself to my surroundings like an alien abductee dropped in a crop circle naked and afraid.

Now What?

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was at a crossroads. I could have stayed in my fog, accepted it as my new life, and moved on without my sparkle. I could have wanted to change but done nothing about it and become bitter and mad. Or I could have done what I DID. I took a step. Then another. Over the next seven years I just took steps. From the outside looking in I’m sure I looked like I was grasping at straws. I wasn’t. I was on a quest.

I opened an Etsy shop making jewelry. Had I ever had any jewelry training? NO! Was I terrible at it? YES! But it taught me elementary business ownership skills. It taught me how to market online. It taught me social media networking. It occupied my curiosity for a year or two until I decided one day on a whim to start my first blog.

I knew nothing about blogging. But I knew I had a message and I knew I wanted to give other women a quick escape of funny and happiness. I wanted to give other parents a place to mentally go to for 10 minutes while they’re hiding in the bathroom and laugh and relate and not feel so alone. And I started to learn to write. And writing led to my passion.

After two years of writing and posting and joining groups of other writers I discovered what I should have been doing all along. Comedy. One day I realized that nothing was standing between the dream I’d always had in the back of my mind and my reality. I always idolized comedians. But people didn’t do that in real life! People graduate from high school then go to college then become accountants or engineers or whatever pays the bills. Not COMEDY. But… if my idols could do it, maybe I can, too.

Erica. Erica Benefield.

So, at the age of 36 I started a new career. Me. Erica. Wife, mom, comedian. It’s not easy. I work my day job, take my kids to practice, have dinner with my family, put my kids to bed, kiss my husband and go to my shows. There are a lot of nights when my anxiety sets in and I try to talk myself out of performing because the safe thing to do would be to stay at home with my family and be normal. But when I get out on the stage, I remember why I do it. When I hear my kids tell their friends that their mom is a comedian, I tear up. My kids have no idea what I do for my day job but they know what comedy is! I get to help other grown ups forget the demands of their life for a few minutes a night and it’s the best job in the world.

If you’re still reading this painfully long, rambling post, here’s what I want you to take away: Life has a way of throwing off your plans. It’s ok. It doesn’t mean you’re failing. It could be your greatest success. You don’t have to give up your dreams because you’re a parent. Being a mom or a dad doesn’t mean YOUR life is over. If you feel stuck, do SOMETHING, anything to get “unstuck”. Take a different path home. Go to a new restaurant. Make a bucket list of things you’ve always wanted to explore and cross each one off the list. Kids need to see their parents happy and healthy with their own joys. Just take a step. It’ll lead to another step. And don’t use your family as an excuse. Take them on the journey with you. It’ll make the ride so much more fun.

What’s your step gonna be?

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Buying Underwear (and other things that lead to anger)

I remember when I discovered Victoria’s Secret. I felt as though a veil was lifted and a whole new world of delicate, lacy, beautiful unmentionables were waiting to bridge the gap between my clothes and my lady parts.

From that day forward I swore off the multi-pack of Haynes from Walmart that never fit quite right and went unashamedly with arms wide open to the store men dare not enter. I joined the secret club of women who could dress like a train jumping dumpster diver on the outside knowing that underneath the slouch was a feminine tiger ready to pounce.

Back in the early days of my discovery the process was simple: walk in, sift through the drawers to find my size, make sure no lady juice is on them from someone gross trying them on, take my purchase to the counter, pay for said purchase, get my receipt, walk out. Simple. Straightforward. Anonymous. Now, however, the game has changed.

These days I’m already frustrated by the time I walk in from dodging the super-aggressive (albeit very flattering) mall kiosk guy with the long, greasy black ponytail, black slim-fitted shirt unbuttoned to showcase his nipples asking if I flat iron my hair and the guys demo-ing the bouncy balls that my kids HAVE TO HAVE! I make my way to what I need, get to the counter and then it happens: “What’s your email for rewards?” The lady behind the counter stares at me while I contemplate the consequence of not answering her question. I finally decide it’ll probably be quicker to just give it to her.

Me: “Erica”

Lady behind the counter: “Is that with a ‘c’ or a ‘k’?

Me: “‘c’ And then a ‘d’

Lady: “Did you say ‘v’ or ‘b’?”

Me: “‘d’. As in ‘delta’ and then my last name. From my card. Just copy that.

Lady: “Please verify from the screen.”

Me: “Nope. It’s Erica with an ‘E’ not an ‘A’. That’s not really a thing. And you didn’t get the middle initial.”

Lady: “You can just type it in.”

Me: “So I could have saved the last 10 painful minutes of my life and typed it in all along?”

Lady: “I like to help my guests out. You’re total today is $150.”

Me: “What? I only got 5 pair of underwear. Isn’t it 5 for $25?”

Lady: “You have premium panties that aren’t a part of that. Also, it’s now 5 for $35.”

Me: defeated, walks out. “Kids, let’s go get ice cream. Mommy needs sprinkles.”

So now I hate shopping for underwear. And soaps. Thanks, Bath & Body Works. Can we all agree that stores need to STOP ASKING FOR EMAILS?????????? Listen, if you want my info, put out an app and scan it like Starbucks. Or Chick Fil A. Cuz my mental well-being can’t take it. And I don’t want to kill people. I’m frustrated. But at least I’m pretty.

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I Didn’t Clean the House Today… but I’m still tired.

Today I woke up 30 minutes later than I should have. I woke my kids up 15 minutes later than I should have. I sat in traffic for an hour and a half in just one leg of my commute. I sat in meetings for most of my day listening to mind-numbing discussions about “innovative” wellness programs for employees. Then I drove home. I worked a little longer. I didn’t even cook dinner. My family had left overs. I drove my daughter to ballet. Sat around waiting on her. We got home, I got the kids to bed, I got myself clean and went to bed myself.

My home is not clean. I’m pretty sure Bella didn’t bathe before bed. Roman’s sheets don’t match. I didn’t wash dishes. My trash cans are full. The only reason there’s no dog hair downstairs is thanks to my husband. I didn’t touch laundry. The only clean pair of socks Roman has are on his feet.

Guess what?! I’m ok with all of this. The sun still rises, my kids still love me, I’m pretty sure my husband still loves me wink, my doggies definitely adore me. It’s all gonna be ok.

My only question: WHY AM I STILL SO TIRED???

Oh well. At least I’m pretty.

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Is Butt-Ebola a Thing?

Today was a fun day. I arrived to work on time for a 9 am meeting. Gross. Could we all agree as one nation under God that meetings should only take place between the hours of 10 am and 11:30 am or 2 pm and 4:30 pm? Can we make that a thing? Ugh. I’m just sayin’ I need time. In the morning I need time to understand where I am and in the afternoon I need time to digest what all just happened. So… just sayin’.

Anyway. Meeting at 9. Blah, blah, blah. It was over around 10. By then I’d finished off a venti vanilla iced coffee and I had to pee. Bad. No problem! My new office has very lovely bathrooms. Coming from a company with shatty bathrooms (literally), I welcome the upgrade in lavatory quality.

As with most restrooms these days (I suspect to keep at bay the mysterious “toilet-seat-to-ass-STD” epidemic that we’ve all been warned of even though I’ve never met anyone who said, “Hi, I’m Gary, I got the clap from a toilet”) my office offers free paper toilet seat covers. I’m positive they’re only free cuz men need them, too. If they didn’t, we’d have to pay a quarter like we do for tampons. “Sorry, Sharon. I can’t give you a tampon for free. Shouldn’t you know your body by now? I mean, you’re 37- What? I don’t know what fibroids are. My dad has hemorrhoids. Same-sies? No? Look, sorry, but we gotta reduce overhead. Can’t you just shove some TP up there or something?”

Now, what you might not know is that I’m at war with these wood-based bastards. (Just to be clear, I’m at war with seat covers, not frugal men who refuse us free feminine hygiene products). Can these covers not stay in place? Is it too much to ask? They have ONE JOB! Just one! By the time I put it down and unlatch my trousers the seat cover has fallen in the toilet, thus not having held up its end of the bargain, and now I have to repeat the process. Time. Wasted. But I have a new process. And today I tried it out for the first time.

Today… wait for it… I unhooked my pants FIRST! Did I just blow your mind? Cuz this was about to revolutionize my bathroom experience. So with my pants around my shins, holding them with one hand so as to keep them from hitting the floor, I used my other hand to carefully yank the paper ass-barrier and awkwardly lay it over the seat, using my elbow to unfold the part that inconveniently overlapped at the very last minute.

And as I turned to blindly back that ass up and simultaneously sit down, the automatic flush sucked the seat cover into the abyss. That’s right. I sat down just as the seat cover said, “bitch, bye” and left me to my own devices. Of which I had none.

You know when you ask for a sweet tea at a restaurant and you get a coke but both liquids are dark and look the same in that red cup and you take a sip and life no longer makes sense? That’s what happened to my ass. It expected paper warmth and protection. It received the cold angst of exposure. So I have Ebola of the Butt now. I’m pretty sure it’s a thing. And I’m pretty sure it’s on my butt. Believe you me, if my organs liquify and fall out of my body holes, someone will receive a very strongly-worded letter.

Anyway. Kinda killed my vibe today. I was sure I won the war. And the toilet said, “Not today, biatch!” I feel so defeated. I was sure to be the victor. Now I know how Hillary Clinton felt on election night. Ugh. At least I’m not wearing that gross pants suit.

On a high note, I ate a turkey burger today.

Stay pretty, my friends.

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Absurd Things I Think About When Getting a Massage

Things I Think About When Getting a Massage

A few days ago, a co-worker won one of those “drop your business card in the fishbowl and you could win lunch for your whole office” things (I know, I thought the same thing! People DO actually win those, I guess!). She was so generous and made sure that all of us had to opportunity to enjoy the delicious pizza along with TWENTY-MINUTE CHAIR MASSAGES!!!! What?! Sign. Me. Up.

When it was my turn I walked into the same conference room that normally houses mundane and verbose meetings. However, for my twenty-minute chair massage it was a heavenly oasis in the middle of the desert where no relaxation is found. Quiet music, dimmed lights… if not for the meeting table, white board, and executive meeting chairs I would have never known it was the same room. I walked around all of those horrible reminders to find my massage chair, said hello to my new favorite best friend masseuse and sat down. For the next twenty minutes I had an internal dialogue with myself that I realize in hindsight may not be normal, but then again, I can’t be the only one. So if you find yourself with the following thoughts during your next massage, know you aren’t alone:

  1. “Oh, that’s nice… wait, did I just make a porn noise?”
  2. “OUCH! IT HURTS SO GOOD!!!! That’s what she said.”
  3. “OMG I think she’s crushing my larynx. Is that what that is? I don’t really know where my larynx is. I’m gonna die not knowing how. What do I tell Janis Joplin and Amy Winehouse when they ask me why I’m dead? Can’t. Breathe. Boutta pass out.”
  4. “She’s close to pushing my face through this face hole! Can that happen? I think we’re about to find out! What would she do?! OMG that would be hil-arious. Could I get workers’ comp? I wonder if I could get a free week off of work. Kind of like in college if you got hit by a bus you get an auto 4.0 GPA. Would I get a free one of these in the future for my trouble? I could deal with that. Would the fire department have to come? I bet that’s happened before.”
  5. “That music. I wonder if my kids would immediately go to sleep if I played it at home. I need to ask what music that is so I cannnnn zzzzzz”
  6. {Wakes up abruptly} “Did I just fart or was that the chair?? OMG please tell me it was the chair. Ugh, not the chair.”
  7. “HOW WAS THAT 20 MINUTES?! I WANT A RECOUNT!”
  8. Really, how am I supposed to be productive after that? I can’t work under these conditions.

Getting a massage is so relaxing for me. But obviously not so relaxing that my crazy mind shuts off for me. How bout you? Any absurdities run through your mind during a massage? Please tell me I’m not the only one.

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8 Things to Buy Your Snarky Wife for Valentine’s Day that won’t get you laughed at or punched

What to Buy Your Snarky Wife for Valentine’s Day

The target audience for this post is a bit different than usual, ok a LOT. As in opposite. So, ladies, read this through and if it applies to you, feel free to forward to your Valentine. I’ll drop the not-so-subtle hints for you.

Cynical, snarky, jaded, sarcastic, whatever adjectives apply to your wife, for whatever the reason, she’s not into sappy, lovey-dovey bull shat. And that can make your job very difficult this Valentine’s Day. As a man, I’m fairly certain that you haven’t put much thought into this fabricated holiday of love. If history is any indication of your behavior in a week’s time, you’ll saunter into the closest convenience store and grab whatever they forcefully suggest you purchase your “One True Love” this Valentine’s Day. Because NOTHING says immortal love like a 4-inch plush animal unnaturally dyed red, a box of poor-quality chocolates wrapped and glued shut in cellophane, one rose with a poo-shaped chocolate where the petals should be, and a card with 2 beautiful people on the front, sitting by the ocean, with words you could never think of on your own, much less write down, on the inside.

I understand her because I AM her. Just because she’s jaded DOESN’T (I repeat, DOESN’T) mean she wants you to ignore this pretend holiday. She still wants to be shown you love her, just not in a conventional way and she definitely doesn’t want a bunch of shat she has no use for. That’ll piss her off. And that’s what you’re trying to AVOID. Roses and a sweet, sentimental card will NOT get her to take off her clothes and beg you to “love her long time”. It will get you an eye-roll, a punch in the arm for being “weird”, or even made fun of. (Again, we want to AVOID this.)

“SO WHAT DO I DO, E??”

  1. First up: the card. The card must meet her where she is. If you are the sappy type, get a sappy card but write in funny things to break up the weirdness. Make fun of your own sappy card in a way that tells her you love her AND her snarkiness. She’ll love your originality and authenticity.
  2. Make her a card. Come on, it’s not that hard. Go to Wal-Mart or Michael’s and get some construction paper. Or just raid your daughter’s stash. A piece of construction paper with a heart drawn on the front, folded in half, with a hand-written “I Love You and Your Snarky Ways” inside will go much further than something you would never say.
  3. One option for the main gift (yes, MAIN- as in “there should be MULTIPLE”… trust me. I have lady parts) is something to give her time alone, especially if she’s a mom. I highly recommend a gift card to a blow-out bar or a day spa if she enjoys getting pampered. If she’s not the pampered type, give her a gift card to her favorite store and keep the kids busy while she takes care of bid-naz.
  4. If you’re tight on money, don’t worry. In the words of Wanda from In Living Color, “I GOTCHU”. Look around the house for a basket. Go to Target or another store that has a beauty aisle and pick up the $1 face masks, some bubble bath, maybe a loofa. Purchase said items and place them in the basket with some other fun stuff. (Notice you just read “fun”, not shat). Take the kids for a WHOLE day. Plan a fun day away with them and let her be her at home. Bam. Insta-love.
  5. Plan a day away with her. Create sappy memories instead of crappy, sappy items that mean nothing to her. Where did you go on your first date? How about the first time you said, “I HEART YOU”? Anywhere she’s been dying to go? Here’s a hint: If she’s mentioned it out loud to you EVER, she’s been dying to go. Snarky, cynical women don’t reveal too much unless they’ve been thinking about it for a while. By the time it leaves our lips we’ve made up our minds that we wanna do it. (That’s what she said.)
  6. Unless it’s against her religion and she’s uber devout or she’s allergic (how tragic), alcohol will ALWAYS be a good option. But make it unique. Don’t go to Trader Joe’s and hand her the cheapo Chardonnay. Likely, it will end up broken. After she smashes it with your head. Let’s keep that from happening. Go online or to a wine store and ask. Always ask.
  7. Ghost Tour!!!!! If she likes that sort of thing, that is. But it’s such a different, fun thing to do. It’s quirky, dramatic, and she’ll snuggle in real close when that ghost comes running for you!
  8. Yes, I made fun of the BAD chocolate. However, Godiva = Heaven. If she likes chocolate, she’ll prolly have some mad love in her heart for a $50 box of crack. Trust me.
  9. Bonus: Ok, so I mentioned that she should receive multiple gifts. That doesn’t mean you have to break the bank. If you have one large gift, have some fun “extras” ready. Her favorite wine chilled, her favorite candy on the counter when she gets home, something special that only you know to do.

I know this is a lot to take in (that’s what he said), but just try it out. Even if you just take half of my advice. Or 1/4th of my advice. But please, PLEASE no stupid, sappy cards, plush animals or grocery store chocolates. Happy VD! Ladies, did I miss anything??

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I Joined My Neighborhood Dinner Club

I joined my neighborhood dinner club

The Great Idea

We moved into a new house in May. Just down the road from where we were currently living but with 100 homes, there were quite a few people we didn’t know. So I was SUPER EXCITED when I saw an email about a neighborhood dinner club called “Gourmet”. I just knew it would be the solution to meeting the neighbors and signed us up (without asking my hubs but I had a sneaky suspicion that he would praise me for it).

Gourmet

The premise behind the Gourmet Club is this: twelve couples signed up so around every other month there are three host homes. Of these 3 host homes there is one who is the Lead Home. These hosts are in charge of setting the theme and menu. After the menu is set, each couple is given recipes that they are responsible for preparing and bringing to the dinner. On D-day (that’s what I call the dinner day cuz I’m terrified) everyone meets at their respective host homes to eat. After dinner everyone meets for dessert and drinks at the Lead Home (or wherever the Lead Home hosts decide, so maybe the clubhouse if they don’t want a bunch of drunk suburbanites getting kah-runkkk at their crib.)

The Problem

I don’t cook. If I DO cook, I want full control of all variables and I’m probably NOT going to be cooking for other people that might judge me for messing up. (Yes, that’s the very point of Gourmet. Shut up.) Now. I AM a very good cook. Most of the time. I have a few nemeses. First up: mashed potatoes. Really, it’s any dish with potatoes because they will NEVER get cooked all the way through. Potatoes hate me. They’ve made that very clear. Because mashed potatoes are arseholes. Pot roast is the other of my arch nemeses. My mom can make a dam pot roast. The kind that make me wanna slap her after taking a bite (IN A GOOD WAY! You know, so good it makes you wanna slap your momma?!) I make an effing stupid pot roast. The kind of pot roast that makes other pot roasts wonder if it was dropped on its head as a baby pot roast. It’s always tough and rubbery. Pot roast hates me. The kind I make don’t make my kids wanna slap me in a good way. And my mashed potatoes make my kids wanna slap some sense into me so that I never make them again. Other than that, I can get shat done in the kitchen.

The First Dinner

The first dinner we had was in October. It was an October (wait- Oktober) Fest theme so I, of course, dressed up in my best lederhosen just in case I needed to distract the group away from the horrible food I brought. Turns out, not everyone is a gourmet cook. Some people were sitting in the same boat I was in the whole time and I had no idea! Yay! The food was delicious, the recipes weren’t quite as difficult as I anticipated, and we were all so tipsy that it didn’t really matter anyway. #winning

The Second Dinner

The second dinner was a few weeks ago. It was a Valentine’s Day theme. I looked for a cupid costume just in case I needed the distraction again but I couldn’t find one… Fuq. It’s ok. I’ll just practice a little bit before the dinner, once I get my recipes. Guess what my dishes were… just guess. Short bread cookies and FUQING MASHED POTATOES! REALLY??!!! Ugh. It’s ok! I’ll follow the directions EXACTLY. It’ll be fine.

I ended up with no time to practice because life was so crazy. The Friday before the dinner I “worked from home” for the last half of the day so I could make the other dish I was assigned: short bread cookies. In the shape of a heart. With a smaller heart cut out in the center. And white chocolate and raspberry jam in the center. As complicated and delicate as they were, they turned out delicious. I ate one to try it out. Ok, I had 3. “I don’t know why the recipe says it makes 14! I only have 11…”

The mashed potatoes needed to be made the day of because I didn’t want to risk them not tasting fresh and delicious. This meant that I only had a short window of time to get them right. If not, I was fully prepared to go to the grocery store, purchase some taters, and pass them off as my own. But I can do this. It was me against the potatoes. Eight of them. Eight stupid potatoes just staring at me. I was terrified.

Game Time

The recipe said to use 8 potatoes. I had 8 MASSIVE potatoes. They were huge (that’s what she said). In the recipe it said to cut them in half if they were large. But I ain’t got time for that. I’ll just cook them longer.

{Now, for those of you reading this, this was my crucial mistake. This is where the other team took the game just like the Patriots took the game from my Falcons. Crucial mistakes. They’re sneaky little donkey holes.}

The recipe said to cook the potatoes for 22 minutes or until you can easily pierce with a fork. I cooked mine for 30 minutes. Should be good. Right?! Pierced easily with a fork. I was so gonna rock this.

At 5:30 pm Eastern Standard Time I drained the potatoes, cut them up, and placed them one by one in my stand mixer as per the instructions. I mashed them up a little and turned the mixer on. Seemed good. I started to add the warmed milk, the salt, the butter, and OH MY GOOD GAWD!!!!!! The potatoes were crawling up the side of the mixer and down the back! I tried to grab them with any utensil I could find. A spoon, a ladle, a knife, a cup, the piping bag in the sink from the cookies I made the day before.

So, not sure if you have ever seen the I Love Lucy episode where Lucy and Ethel were working the assembly line? If you haven’t, Google it right now. You need that visual. But be sure to come right back. This is about to get good.

To set the scene, it was now 6:10. The dinner started at 7. At this point there was no time for the grocery store backup option. I was standing in my kitchen with wet hair and my pink fluffy bathrobe on, sleeves pushed up but they kept falling down. I was trying to keep the potatoes from falling all over the place when I realized that there were chunks of raw potatoes mixed in with the smooth, creamy potatoes. All the while, taters were still pouring out of the mixer every time I turned it on. I turned it off, grabbed a fork, and dug out one of the chunks to see if it was edible.

And it was not. Not at all. Ever tried a raw potato? That’s what I was about to serve my neighbors. They were sure to blackball me. I was about to be the girl that brought raw mashed potatoes to the party. Not today. Not. To. Day. I did what any self-respecting southern girl would do. I rolled up my sleeves, washed my hands, and proceeded to pick the chunks out by hand. But the potatoes weren’t as creamy as they looked. They stuck to EVERYTHING.

I was panicked. I had mashed, raw, chunky, sticky potatoes all over my arms, in my freshly washed hair, in my eyebrows, and I had mashed potato hatred in the depths of my soul rising up to meet my husband as he walked into the kitchen. He knew he wasn’t safe. He found somewhere else to go. I don’t even know where he went.

My friend, Laura, sent me a friendly text “I hope you have fun tonight!” She always has it together. I gave her a quick “my mashed potatoes are raw”. Then Laura sent me a message that made me realize just how much I appreciate her. “Drink a little more and they’ll be great.” It was like a Superman comic when you’re sure he’s a gonner but then he rises from the wreckage to defeat Lex Luther. I could do this! I could defeat these stupid, ugly villainous mashed potatoes. I grabbed asiago cheese from the fridge and added that. I tasted them. It was good enough.

At 6:45 I finally started getting ready. I washed the potato carnage from my body, trying to forget the bloody battle that had just taken place in my kitchen, grabbed my pink shirt with leather trim that looks like a vagina in the back (yes, you read that correctly. I mean, it screams Valentine’s Day!), and realized it had a huge grease stain on the front. Ugh. It’s just like you to do this to me, vag shirt. So that wasn’t an option. Red pants and a black shirt. That’s what I went with.

So How Did it Turn Out???

I started the dinner a defeated woman. Defeated by the potatoes, defeated by my vagina shirt, and defeated by time. I hate being late. But it was what it was. We arrived, cookies and mashed potatoes in hand, 20 minutes late.

Our neighbors hosted us with grace and welcomed us as though we had been friends forever. It was a fantastic time. I warned everyone about the potatoes. So we all agreed that more alcohol was the answer. It’s always the answer.

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How to Workout with Kids

For those of you who have kids and want to start a fitness journey, or for those of you who just wonder how moms juggle family, work, obligations, AND stay in shape, me too. I’m curious, too. Since I became a mom almost 9 years ago, I think I’ve tried to get back in shape more times than my 5 year old has asked me for gum this afternoon (that’s, like, a LOT of times). You wanna know how many times I’ve been successful? Um… once. But it didn’t last long.

Over Christmas this year I decided I was going to do it again. But for real this time. Each year my office closes between Christmas and New Year so it was the perfect time. I’d be home. I’d cleanse my diet. I’d restart my body. Trick it to think it doesn’t want that massive piece of chocolate cake from the grocery store, like I trick my kids to think that Chick-Fil-A doesn’t sell ice cream on the week days. It’d be so super easy. I even have everything I need at home in the form of workout DVDs. Bam.

Day one was AWE-SUM. It was great. My kids are obviously now old enough for me to reason with.

“Kids, I’m going to be in the basement for 20 minutes to workout. Everyone has snacks and drinks, everyone is good, right?”
“Yes, Mommy! We’re good!”
“OK! I’m going to close the door so that the dogs don’t come down but if you need me, you can come get me, OK?”
“OH KAAAAY!”
“But if you come downstairs, please don’t let the dogs down.”

Y’all, hand to Heaven I got 20 minutes with my Piyo DVD. It was so refreshing and I felt so alive. I was all,

“I got this. This time tomorrow I’ll be down to my fighting weight. Just to make sure I’ll have a smoothie for my after-snack snack.”

The next day was fairly similar.   Got ma fit-nass on (please read that as “own” for dramatic effect). BAM! But… It didn’t last long. Pretty soon, I was getting maaaybe 10 minutes in before Pandora opened her shatty box of cray-zee, Roman opened the basement door to demand I help him put on my gold pants (because he thinks they make him look like Slash), and our 50-lb lab, Georgia, came FLYYYYYYY-ing down the stairs and tackled me while I was attempting to perfect my push-ups which meant I was at the perfect height on the floor for my Chihuahua, Lola, to lick me up the nose. Yes, UP the nose. Her tongue is so long and slender that it actually fits UP MY NOSE.

Then Roman wanted to play the drums for me while I worked out. But I couldn’t hear the lovely Chalene Johnson! I asked him to play quietly but then he started crying because Guns n Roses doesn’t play the drums quietly! So that finished that day. Subsequent attempts were even worse… so I finally gave up. And by “finally” I mean by the third day.

“Oh, I know!” I naively thought to myself, “I’ll sign up for the special I saw on Facebook for the Krav Maga combat fitness classes! Three classes for $20. Done. I’m so gonna rock this. If I pay for it I’ll totally do it cuz I don’t wanna waste money!”

I took the first class on the last Wednesday before going back to work. Class started at 6. I had to wait for my hubs to get home from work to relieve me from my parenting duties so I was runnin’ a little late! Sue me! Weeeell, they very well may. Someone from the studio called me to make sure I was coming. I got there at 6:05. Intense. “Something tells me we’re not in LA Fitness anymore.”

I was the only person in the class who had never done it before. Everyone in the class… EVERYONE had on shirts and pants with the studio logo on it. I busted up in there in a hot pink sports bra, yoga shirt, and bright running tights. Like, have you ever gone to a costume party only to realize you need to stop at the store on the way so you’re walking through Target dressed like a giant poo emoji? Yeah. That was me.

And I was totally lost. Like a female pro bowler trying to be a Lakers Cheerleader. Lost like that. I loved it but felt totally lost. It was a great workout. But I knew that once work started back I wouldn’t be able to make those classes without, at best, being 10 minutes late. The schedule just didn’t match mine.

I realized something over the break. I’ve been going about this “all-or-nothing” for so long… it’s not fair. Not fair to me. So I’m going to do my best. Some days my best might mean I eat 1300 healthy calories and a refuse that break-room cupcake. Some days I may kill those 1300 calories by breakfast. Oops. But it’s about being more aware of my choices and creating realistic expectations for myself.

Do I want my abs to come back to me? Yes. Do I want to take care of myself? Yes. But I also know that with the kids’ schedules, my schedule, and my husband’s schedule, sometimes it’s all I can do to get them in bed before I fall asleep in the hallway on the way back to my room. Step by step, choice by choice, I’ll get where I need to be.

What do you do to take care of yourself?

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