Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Come On New Year

It's 11:20 p.m. on New Year's Eve.

The only reason I'm awake is because the kids are determined to see 2013 through. They are both experiencing the crash part of a sugar high though, and Big Kid has been ranting non-stop about the word "selfie" being added to the dictionary. He is pissed. I don't disagree with him, I just don't have the same passion about it, I guess.

He's also pretty cranky about the musicians being featured on the NYE cable programming.

little kid is rambling semi-coherently about Minecraft and just declared that Panic in the Disco "sucks."

I don't know that I can do it for 40 more minutes. The ranting, the music, the year, or the Minecraft.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Magic

This has been the craziest holiday season ever. It's Christmas Eve, and I still don't even own wrapping paper. I'm hosting this year too...hope people are ready to sit on laundry and eat cookie dough straight from the tube because that's about what I can offer at this point.

(Just kidding, in a desperate and heroic act, I took all of the laundry to the laundromat to catch up. While there I was invited to have a Corona, to go out salsa dancing, and proposed to so that was exciting despite having to turn all of those kind offers down, since I had the kids with me. My guests will sit on clean laundry, though, at least.)

Friday was a completely exhausting day, I had little kid's Christmas musical (so sweet. I ugly cried as is tradition), I had to assist a yoga class (I did okay but felt like a creepy weirdo because getting all up on sweaty strangers will do that to you), and ended up with three amazing job opportunities--all unrelated to one another and completely out of left field too. I feel grateful but also a little bit like, "Whoa there, universe! Slow down!" I still haven't figured out what to do about these job offers, but it's a nice position to be in.

Then once I finally reunited with my couch, Mr. Ashley walked in. He was carrying a plastic bin. Inside of the bin was my Christmas gift:
To say she was a surprise would be a ginormous understatement. She was such a surprise that it took a few minutes to get myself together enough to express joy because my tired brain was too confused to make the right faces.

I named her Lola Artemis. She's only 6 weeks old, and she is teensy and sweet. No one but me likes the middle name Artemis, and I like that, because it proves she is MINE. I love her! So do the cats.

I know a lot of you have been wondering about our elf, Harold Hubert Piggybottom. To be honest, in my heart of hearts, I was kind of hoping he would die in a tragic reindeer-related accident this year. I asked the kids what they thought about Harold this year--would he come or was it time to let him move on to another family? Big Kid agreed it was time to let him move on. little kid got upset and swore it wouldn't be Christmas without him.


And little kid got his Christmas wish, late because Harold works in the mail room and those elves don't get as much time off, but Harold did come...in like a wrecking ball:


 He carried a note:
little kid loved that. I don't like toilet humor, so I didn't like it.

The next night he was good, just hanging out with Lola. But maybe I forgot to take a picture. I might have been super tired that night.

But then he saran wrapped the toilet, which could have been a disaster had little kid had one of his sleep walking episodes.

The night after that, he used my cell phone to take a sELFie. Weirdo.

And then he insulted Big Kid by replacing him in the family Christmas card:

The night before Christmas Eve, Big Kid mentioned that they hadn't gotten the videos about whether they were on the naughty or nice list. He seemed genuinely concerned. I was surprised. I looked at him searchingly and said, "Surely, you know? That you're on the nice list, I mean." Seriously?

He had been pretty non-committal about Santa and Harold this year, avoiding much talk of either at all. I thought that was pretty typical at this wise old age of 10. I'm coaching that team of kids at Big Kid's school and one of them mentioned that he didn't believe in Santa and another quickly agreed. I immediately interrupted and said we weren't discussing people's beliefs right now. Another boy piped up that it couldn't hurt to believe and several kids agreed. My own children remained quiet on the subject.

Between assisting another class, a meeting, and a work shift, I was at the yoga studio from 10 to 5:30pm on Monday and had friends over for dinner from 6 to 9ish. I was so beyond tired that night. I wanted my bed desperately.

It was also Harold's last night. Big Kid still didn't know if he was on the naughty or nice list.

But, alas, the next morning, Harold had grown a creepy mustache and set up shop near my computer. He even had his Christmas sweater on, a Christmas Eve tradition that he probably almost forgot about until the middle of the night. And oh my goodness, he had a Facebook page! And on that Facebook page, were the kids' videos from Santa. 

They gathered around me on the couch, early in the morning, and watched with great anticipation and palpable relief when it was revealed that all was well, and they were on the nice list. 

In this exhausting, rushed, overwhelmed, always behind holiday season, it ended up being a precious Christmas moment for me, that I will probably cherish always. Maybe one of my last like this, with this little bit of magic, as they grow. 

So I'm glad Harold Hubert Piggybottom didn't die in a fire, after all.

But there have been rumors that he may retire next year. 

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas, and even more important, a relaxing one.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A for effort

"Do I look nice?" I asked the boys before I left the house for dinner with a friend tonight.

"Yes!" little kid said, with certainty.

"You look lovely." Big Kid said with a smile.

My heart melted a little. My sweet boys.

"I can tell you put A LOT of effort in. Like, A LOT," Big Kid added.

"Okay, that's enough." I said. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013


Did you know that sometimes UPS drops stuff off at USPS and if USPS is busy or just not that into it that day, they will pretend your address doesn't exist and return to sender? Even if both UPS and USPS have been to your house every Monday through Saturday for the entire month of December?

Because that's what happened to all of Mr. Ashley's Christmas gifts this year. They are somewhere between here and wherever Backcountry.com. Also, if this happens to you, it's no one's fault--not the sender, not UPS, and not USPS and no one cares if you're disappointed because it's not their problem. You're just kind of treated like a moron for believing the company you paid to deliver your items in a timely matter would do so. Also, none of the three can call the phone number you provided to give you a head's up that they've decided your home no longer exists.

My love affair with UPS is over. I will order from Massey's Outfitters next time. My mailman gets no Christmas tip, but he wasn't going to anyway because he's a lazy jerk all year.

And my husband has no Christmas gifts.

Wait until you see what my sweet husband got me. He definitely does not deserve whatever pathetic junk I scrape up on Christmas Eve, the only day I have available for shopping.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Geeks and Nerds

"Did you know today is winter solstice? The sun will set at 5:38 and it will be the shortest day of the year," I informed the kids this afternoon.

"You're such a geek, mom," Big Kid said, "That's not a bad thing, it just means that you've got brains and a personality."

"SHE'S A NERD!" little kid shouted.

"She is not a nerd! Nerds are smart but social outcasts. Our mom is not a social outcast," he insisted,"She has a ton of friends on the internet."


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Karma Chameleon

I know, I know, I'm way behind on updating everyone but I didn't have any words ready.

There was nothing too weird in the curriculum this time, or maybe laying on each other like a tic-tac-toe board or being forced to drop it, drop it, drop it low to "Bringing Sexy Back" in the middle of a circle of your new yoga friends isn't weird anymore.

I guess it's pretty weird, now that I think about it.

It felt okay, though.

We got to watch a movie Saturday night, called The Shift. With Dr. Something Dyer (a real self-help guy or something, playing himself) and Portia DiRossi and a lot of bad acting but a good message. The floor was hard and I was exhausted after hours and hours of yoga (and dancing) but it was better than regular circle time where people cry. Also, we were allowed to lay down. That's good stuff, when you can feel intense gratitude for being able to lay your sore body upon a cold, hard floor for two hours. I'm not being a smart ass there, it felt absurdly nice.

Everyone feels really nervous before each session, mostly because of the chaotic group practice teaches. It is so loud, and they call time and you give one word feedback, and the next person rushes up to take over where the last left off. It's so confusing and loud and distracting. I did surprisingly well at it, though, and it was almost fun. Instead of thinking, "I freaking hate this kind of craziness," like usual, I thought, "If I can do it under these insane conditions, I can do it."

I think I might really want to be a yoga teacher! Which is a big relief because this is too much effort and transformation for simple self-help.

I only have two teacher training weekends left and a scary amount of homework. I have to write three 3 page essays, practice teach including meditation (ugh) 3 different times with friends, assist two regular classes (that means touching sweaty strangers), take and give feedback for 3 different styles of classes (that means critiquing my friends who work at the studio to their boss), and read a bunch of stuff by January 12th. I also work there 2-3 days per week. And then also, life.

And I guess it's Christmas or something?

I don't know.

Do you all remember my experience with the yoga goblin?

She was doing what I will be doing tomorrow night--assisting a class as a teacher trainee. 

Oh, how the universe brings it all back to us!

But I won't be anywhere near that weird.

Friday, December 13, 2013

And Again

The next yoga teacher training session begins in one hour.

I'm sitting on my couch in my pajamas, drinking coffee and trying to eat a healthy breakfast (which is tricky, because I filled up on a bunch of Christmas cookies first), alternating between anticipation and outright terror.

My old lady hip is hinting that it might feel like popping out of place again this weekend, but my teacher would say that's just my story. I think it's my old lady hip's story, frankly, and I think it's a valid story...but I will go and try my hardest anyway.

Please pray that I don't get hurt, and more importantly, that I don't have to massage anyone's butt or anything else too weird.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Liger Liger Pants on Fire

"Did you know there's such a thing as a liger? There really is, it's a mix between a lion and a tiger. It doesn't happen in the wild though, zookeepers and scientists have to--force the two animals to mate?" Big Kid offered up out of nowhere, on the drive home today.  "I don't even really like to think about that--"

"What does it look like?" little kid interrupted, with enthusiasm and curiosity.

"I don't know! I don't want to know! You shouldn't want to know either, you're only 7 years old!!"

"...I think he's asking what a liger looks like," I clarified.

"Oh," Big Kid said with obvious relief, "Like a mix between a lion and a tiger."

Then I tried to explain artificial insemination in an attempt to ease Big Kid's worried mind, but I don't think that helped.

I was actually relieved when the conversation moved along to conjoined twins and the likelihood of surgical separation.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Yoga Ninja

I just did a practice teaching yoga session on my web cam so I can see what I actually look like since the studio has no mirrors.

I look okay. Ish.

I should have worn a bra so I can share it with you all though. Calvin the cat is in every second of the 25 minute video, snaking his body under mine in upward facing dog and playing with the ties of my shorts in downward dog. As I'm in forward fold, he's behind me, scratching the fuck out of my $80 mat. As I'm in headstand, he's chewing on my ears.

Our grand finale came when he reached out and punctured my finger while I was in twisting triangle, making me scream, "OW!" as I fell out of it and the video ends as I swat at him and rant about what a fucking fucker he is, holding my bloody finger away from the keyboard as I try to hit stop.

This is my destiny, people. Not to be a yoga teacher, but to be a Youtube star whose attempts at inner peace are thwarted by her bastard cat.

So from now on, undergarments while recording.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Condiment Confusion

I picked up Wendy's last night since I suck at cooking.

"Can I get some ketchup?" I asked the cashier.

"Can I see some ID?" He replied.

I was instantly confused, my mind started racing. Wait, where was I? No, there's no beer at Wendy's, am I in trouble? No, he's not the boss of me, what is going on here? Fuck this. Do I have ketchup at home? I stared at him blankly while I worked all of this out.

"I'm kidding," he said, with a slightly skeptical, you're-a-real-fucking-weirdo kind of look on his face.

"Ha ha...ha. Phew. Sorry about that, it's a little late for jokes." 

It was 6 p.m.

Another one of my finest moments.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The New Rules

I made my fancy list of rules and had it printed at Office Depot. I love it, it was completely worth neglecting housework over.

It's also marginally effective, but only because the kids hate it (I'm talking absolutely despise it) and are lobbying hard for it not to be framed and hung in a prominent location. They think it is embarrassing and ridiculous, although they reluctantly agree that my font usage was really good.

It's actually aqua but my phone's camera just does whatever colors it wants and aqua isn't one of those colors. 

So now it hangs on the fridge, waiting to see if it needs to be framed or if we can make these (very easy) things a habit without having an offensive framed reminder. It's the pee splatter part that really ticks Big Kid off.

But what's more embarrassing, a sign acknowledging that pee splatters can happen or having a guest accidentally encounter a pee splatter? I've pointed out that no one will assume I made the sign because that's insane, so no one needs to take the pee splatters personally.

I'm tired of cleaning it up. When they move out, I'm having that bathroom gutted down to the wood framing and rebuilt.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Waffles and Pancakes

Last night Big Kid showed me a drawing he did of himself as an adult sitting at a desk. The desk had a computer on it (with Windows XP--Big Kid is a die hard fan of that particular operating system and apparently plans to use it well into adulthood regardless of technological advancements), a small photo of three little people and a larger picture of a girl in a picture frame that had flowers around it and said "Cupcakes" at the bottom.

His own name plate said "Waffles." That's his class nickname.

His girl friend who is not his girlfriend's class nickname is Pancakes. When I exclaimed in delight how adorable it was that their names coordinated, he scoffed and declared it a coincidence.

"What is this?" I asked.

"Me in 30 years at my desk. I have a wife and 3 kids."

"Is Cupcakes the wife?"


"You should have named her Pancakes."

His jaw hardened and he glared up at me, with a slight snap of his head.

"What?" I asked.

"WHY would her name be PANCAKES?" He asked, angrily.

"Dude...I just thought it would be cute. You know, because it goes so well with Waffles."

He was seething mad, just staring at me.

"Just not sure why you'd pick that name."

"Just because--"

"Particularly since I told you that's J.'s nickname..."

"Oh, I...forgot? I just thought it would be cute."

"Not cute." He declared before stomping off to his room.

I'm going to drop it but his future wife "Cupcakes" looks a lot like the way he draws his current friend "Pancakes."

Just saying.

It is cute.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

I just saw this on FB and laughed so hard I hurt myself (and I'm not drunk or anything):

This Epic Note-Passing War On A Delayed Flight Wins Thanksgiving


edited on 12/3/13 to add: Turns out he made it all up. I don't know whether to be relieved or disappointed. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

New Rules

I've decided I need a list of rules for the children.

Things like "flush the toilet" and "wipe up splatters of toothpaste or pee" and such. Things that seem like common sense but apparently are not easily learned habits.

A normal person would probably just grab a sharpie and some note book paper, but I have drafted a copy in word, carefully scrutinized font sizes and types, checked pinterest for some layout ideas, checked the local print shop to see how oversized I could print it, opened up photoshop, and created a blog post about the process.


But honestly, all of those beautiful fonts are even more thrilling than the thought of that bathroom not smelling like pee.

(And really, it's pretty unlikely that posting the rules is going to be more effective than bitching at them about it 400 times a day.)

This is way more important than mopping, right?


Friday, November 22, 2013

Quote of the Week

"Now kids, don't tell daddy about all of the cat hats we bought. He's not going to be as excited as we are so let's introduce the idea slowly."

As you can tell, Calvin is super excited about the Petco costume clearance.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Young Love

On Big Kid's first day of school, he met a girl who was also brand new that day. He got in the car and told me he had made a new friend, that they ate lunch together, and that she liked video games. He had some money for the vending machine and he bought her a drink.

Hmmm. I wondered if he had a crush on her. But his best friend is a girl and he really likes girls, and with her being into video games and also brand new to the school, I decided they just had a lot in common.

She invited him over to her house for an after-school play date and they had a nice time.

He once mentioned offhandedly that he was irritated with a kid in his class for starting a rumor that he and she were girlfriend and boyfriend when they were NOT, they were just friends.

"Eh. She's a nice girl. There are worse rumors that could be started," I pointed out.

"True. She's very cool and she's a gamer chick, that can be hard to find," he was quick to say.


Eventually, I began hearing less about her. I'd ask and he'd casually brush my question off with a quick, "Yes, we still talk, we're in the same class!" and he would change the subject. I figured the social stigma blew up on them and they were distancing themselves. I was relieved to hear about him hanging out with boys in his class.

But the other day he showed me a 3-page comic he drew, where the two of them fought wordlessly for a cookie, and in the last panel it broke in half, allowing them each to have a piece, and they looked at each other and smiled.

It was a really good comic, but hmmm.

Then I was cleaning out his desk and found a hanger mobile with animal pictures and their Native American translations on them.

"What is this? It's a mess. Can I throw it away?" I asked.

"Uh, well, do you remember the dream catcher I had for my project?"


"I gave it to J. and she hung it by her bed! So this was a part of her project and she gave it to me. I was thinking I could hang it by my bed? I probably should, since she did..."

Dammit. Big Kid has a girlfriend. I know that was obvious to everyone else in the first paragraph but I'm slow.

And now he has a picture of a squirrel on a ribbon tied next to his bed. It doesn't quite fit the decor.

He wants to buy her a custom-made Minecraft plush toy that looks like her Minecraft character. He is elated about this idea. The mom half of me thinks it is absolutely absurd and possibly inappropriate for him to buy a $45 gift for her...but the girl half of me thinks, "Damn, that's a sweet and thoughtful gift idea."

But I'm not sure I'm ready for all of this.

I mean him...he's not ready. He's too young.

Also, squirrels just don't fit in with a nautical room theme.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Working Hard

I've been doing important stuff like this all week:

This is not easy work, people.

Worth it and important, but not easy.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Big Cheese

What a weekend. Ready for more cheesy goodness? I think the brainwashing is working.

As of Friday night, it wasn't, though. I came home late and typed out a draft to you all that said, "I no longer trust 'the process'!" but didn't post it because I was too tired to elaborate and too beaten down to be sure you would care. I disagreed with almost everything that day and was only able to calm down enough to go to sleep by reminding myself that they couldn't make me do anything, and that I could continue being the old me if I wanted to. And I wanted to.

We've moved on to discussing our relations with the outside world and resolving conflicts and having important conversations. I was interpreting the lesson as having to let jerks be jerks to you over and over again, and that they were asking us to apologize to the jerks for being jerks to us. I wasn't having it. No way was I having it. I told them that I didn't agree with it and wouldn't do it. I told them I thought it was rather insincere, a dumb idea, and a great way to get hurt over and over again and that I wouldn't. I decided I wasn't doing the therapy crap anymore and that I would do my yoga and my teaching and blahblahblah through the rest of it because the feel good bullshit was ridiculous and unnecessary.

We've also moved on to practice teaching in small groups, without the benefit of an outline or a script, just winging it with the sequence all of the time, sometimes under bootcamp-like conditions with noise and chaos because they're trying to make us "unmessable". We all hate it.

They make us do weird shit, like lay our heads on each other's stomachs while we read or lie in a circle head to head (like a flower! they say) and hold hands or, even worse, open our legs wide and hold legs. NO, I AM NOT KIDDING AT ALL, PEOPLE. There is no hesitation in any of this either, we are so tired that if told to put our head on someone's stomach, we scoot to whoever is closest and do so without any panic or upset. At this point we "assist" in poses, which often involves cradling the sweaty body of our partner tightly against our own. My hands are in everybody's hip creases which is not a place my hands want to be. As a treat, at the end of hours of sweaty practice, we were taught to give our partners a full body massage and received one in return. Including the glutes. The glutes is your butt, people. It was fine. I was too tired to care and I really wanted a massage, too.

I smell like other people's sweat by the end, and we all shower in a hose we have tied to a tree. It is often the highlight of our day, after a 95 degree, 90 minute practice, to stand on the hot asphalt and wait for the cold water to come from the hose, sharing soap and splashing and standing there together in the spray until we shiver. Despite everyone's former resistance to touching one another, on the breaks everyone lies around the courtyard braiding hair and giving back and neck massages.

Friends of mine outside of the group have likened it to a sweaty sex cult, and I don't disagree except there's no sex or attraction.

We did more conflict crap that night and I blahblahblahed in my head the whole time and felt triumphant that I was right and was still going to be me and they couldn't make me do anything outside of that room. I was fine. They continued to try to convince us that it wasn't about being right, it was about letting it go and moving forward and that one way or another, whether we could see it or not, we were jerks too. We said whatever they wanted to hear so that we could go home.

We were not jerks. They were wrong.

During morning meditation our teacher said (prepare your eyes for rolling, I totally get that this does not have the emotional impact if you weren't there), "You are all lovable. I know this for a fact because I love you. I love each and every one of you," and without any accompanying emotions that I felt rising up, I realized I had tears trying to sneak out from beneath my closed eyes.

Then it was off to 90 minutes of hot power yoga and I didn't have time to try to analyze why that got me so much. It was a crowded class (they throw us in with regular students once a day) and it was stifling in the room. I was so sore. I was shaking and light headed and thought I might throw up because someone smelled terrible. We're supposed to set an intention for life and practice at the beginning of class and mine is always strength. As I lay curled in a ball on my mat trying to breathe, I did not feel strong. I considered my conflicts and the fact that I refused to resolve them; that was not strong. They cracked the back door for some air at that point, and I used my foot to push it open more every time the teachers turned their backs. I realized that I am kind of a jerk, too, sometimes. I breathed. A friend asked if I needed Pedialyte from the staff fridge and when I insisted that I didn't, he said that I needed to get back up then. I got back on my mat. I did the rest of the class the best I could.

She played "Let it Be" for savasana and I found myself quietly crying again.

By lunch the early adopters and overachievers were having their difficult conversations with people in their lives and were feeling pleased with themselves. As a group we congratulated them heartily and listened eagerly to the results but privately a few of us agreed it was best to let sleeping dogs lie and to just move forward by acting like everything was okay. I knew I was wrong as I was saying it but it felt right.

By the time we got back in for anatomy class, I was radiating wrongness. I knew I was wrong. I knew I was sad. I knew I was missing out. I now dreaded the conversation AND the call about the conversation.The teacher asked a few times if I was listening, so I made a point to look in her direction and nod while she talked about bones and muscles. I was not listening. I eventually crept out of the room, grabbed my phone, and snuck across the parking lot barefoot, hoping no one saw me through the windows.

I made my call. I was awkward in my approach. I cried. I followed the script for the first few minutes. Despite all of that, it went great and cleared up some personal conflict.

I floated back into class, feeling lighter than I have for years despite the conflict not lasting that long. I glowed through mumbo jumbo about lactic acid. I felt strong. I again felt like I can do things that scare me. It felt good to not have to be right. We went from anatomy to circle time without a break and they asked again who had already had their conversations. I flung my hand in the air and the teacher's eyes stopped when they reached me.

"Ashley? Now you're saying you had your conversation? How have you had your conversation, when you've been here?" she looked exasperated. "People--"

"I snuck out during anatomy."

Both teachers looked at me, the therapist with delight, the anatomy buff with maybe a flicker of irritation but also interest.

I apologized for doing it that way. I told them that I knew I wouldn't do it if I waited, but knew I truly wanted and needed to do it. I told them that I had an epiphany that I fear awkwardness so much that I create it. I told them that I thought they were full of crap all weekend and how I could only sleep at night by assuring myself that I didn't have to listen to them. They laughed and assured me that they were full of crap a lot of the time, and that I didn't have to listen to them, that this was for me and not them. I thanked them with sincerity for putting this particular crap on the table, and I thanked a classmate who had quietly encouraged me, and I thanked everyone who had their conversations before me.

Don't worry. The worst of the ooey-gooeyness is about to end.

Once our weekend was over, we all loitered in the parking lot. We have to take turns cleaning the studio and everybody stayed to help. The first weekend we all rushed back to our families, the second weekend we were all hesitant to part. By 8am the next morning, everyone was on the group texting app missing everyone else. Everyone, even the most resistant, had their difficult conversations, it was like a domino-effect, and even if the talk didn't go well, the group lavished that person with compliments and understanding and sincere declarations of what they love about them.

 After being forced on each other for 3 solid days, I think it's funny that we all talk through text all day long--I'm talking 60 messages a day. We make plans to practice teach, to go to class, to go to lunch, to go to Miami, to go out on a boat, to go to a concert, to go to each other's houses all as a pack. We celebrate any success and rally around any concern.

When anyone mentions that at the end of our next weekend, we'll be more than halfway through, the fact is met with a kind of quiet uncertainty instead of the wild celebration it inspired in us after the first weekend.

We like each other. We like this crazy shit. We like to touch and be touched and we like to love and be loved. It's like we are the only ones who understand how weird we all are and the thought of not having the group is hard to think about.

All that being said, I'm still a jerk. I'm not ready to resolve all of my conflicts and there are some people that I really don't feel very interested in having back in my life, but I'm open to the idea that maybe one day I'll be more open to additional resolution. (My teacher the therapist might sigh in a defeated way to hear this, but I think baby steps are still big for me. I don't think people go from kind of being a jerk to not being a jerk at all within one weekend.)

Sorry if I made you dry heave with any of this. I understand. It makes me roll my eyes too, and I'm the one who likes it.

I can't believe I like it.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Take Two

Tomorrow is the next session of teacher training.

I need to clean the house up and pack and I should probably, you know, do that homework they asked me to do and read those two books I didn't really read because I'm pretty sure I know that stuff already even though I totally don't. I have a rented Rug Doctor sitting here and a rug that smells faintly of pee. I have out of town company in town this weekend. I have no clean yoga pants.

But I did get my eyebrows done and my roots touched up (in anticipation of more staring at strangers.)

Someone (from here, actually, super nice!) bought me a book called Yoga Bitch and it's cracking me up. I'm going to go all creepy stalker on the author and force her to be my best friend because we're the same person but she got to go to Bali for her teacher training. She was also with people who drink their own pee, so I don't know, Bali probably wouldn't have been the right choice for me. But I've sat here for the last 15 minutes staring at the internet and trying to justify just taking a little rest time to read more of it. The fact that it is yoga related is part of my justification.

I will most certainly regret this decision when my teacher is shouting at me to call out the True North Points of Alignment (if it's even called that, I don't know anymore) but I've got a few reasons why it's a good idea right now.

I think I'll have a coffee and read while I drink it and then I'll have tons of energy and motivation for house cleaning and laundry and Rug Doctoring and packing and studying. Right?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Trick and No Treat

I hesitate to write about this because it was not good behavior and I don't want to seem as if I'm excusing it, but I also don't want to forget about it (and that's my primary blogging inspiration--not forgetting shit.)

In the car rider line on Halloween day, Big Kid's teacher knocked on my window.

I rolled it down and said hello and she said, "I just have to let you know that Big Kid and I aren't friends now."

"No?" I asked, with a smile because that was a weird thing to say and I was sure a joke was to follow.

"He's very mad at me."

"He's mad at you? Why?"

"Today some of the kids ran out of line when it was time for the Halloween parade so I told them that our class wouldn't be participating and he wrote me a VERY rude note. Very, very, very rude." Her voice shook a bit when she said the last part.

"Are you freaking kidding me?" (I regret saying freaking in that instance but I was really shocked--this is Big Kid we're talking about.)

She handed the note through the window. It said, "Dear (teacher's name), you canceled the Halloween parade. Now Helena is crying. I hope you're proud of yourself."

I was flabbergasted. He was climbing into the car right then and she snatched the note back from me and walked away.

"What in the world were you thinking? What was that about?!?" I asked him.

"Mom, I was enraged. I wasn't thinking. Helena was crying and crying and I just couldn't handle it."

"You don't disrespect adults! You know what? I don't even know that I agree with canceling the Halloween parade--had you waited ONE HOUR I would have helped you address this situation appropriately. If she was wrong, you outwronged her! You never do that in a disagreement, don't react in a way that makes you the jerk! I can't even believe you did this over a Halloween parade!"

He was crying. "I didn't even care about the parade, mom. It was just walking around the school in our costumes. But Helena has never had Halloween because her mom won't buy her a costume. I don't really understand that part but it makes me sad. Today was her only chance. It was her first time trick or treating and her only chance and she lost it. She was crying so hard, I couldn't stand it. It was wrong to cancel the parade."

Ugh. Leave it up to Big Kid.

"Look, I respect that you wanted to stand up for someone who you thought was being wronged but it comes down to the fact that your teacher is in charge of the class, she issued a punishment, whether that punishment was the most appropriate or not, it was not your place to address it and especially not in that snarky, disrespectful way. You really could've skipped that whole 'hope you're proud' thing, that did you in. I'm not even saying you can't voice your opinion to an adult but you have to know when and how--this was not it. It wasn't going to change anything, there was no immediate danger, and I could have helped you in one hour. I would have said something to both her and the principal about this, by the way and now I really can't."

Mr. Ashley was really upset and disappointed with him. It was decided that his big Halloween night out with friends was canceled (he did get to trick or treat in our neighborhood, because he doesn't have many trick or treat years left) and he's banned from technology for two weeks. He also had to write her an apology letter, which hilariously included the line, "I don't know what I was thinking. I was a mess."

But, secretly?

I'm not mad.

I wish he hadn't done it, and he should not have done it, but I am kind of impressed that he did.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Shaggy and Friends

Please excuse the terrible composition and quality and just look at the boy.
Here's my Shaggy.

I don't have a photo of little kid in his costume yet, because they can't wear costumes to his school. He couldn't wear it to Big Kid's school either because he built his entire costume around a knife that has blood in it and got a skeleton mask that bleeds, and that's not allowed.

They are trick or treating with friends of theirs (and the friends' dad) in a really popular neighborhood and they are psyched. I'm pretty bummed about it. I kept asking, "Don't you think you might miss...you know, our neighborhood? Me? Maybe you'll miss me?"

And they were all shifty-eyed and "Yeah, yeah, maybe we will miss you but it sure sounds like fun. I mean, we'll see you before and we'll see you after. We could have a little Halloween party when we get home mom, just the family! I think it will be okay, mom, I think it's good for us to go."

I mentioned that the parents said I could join them if I wanted, and they looked at each other and then off into the distance and then to the floor. Big Kid muttered that it was kind of cool how it was going to be all of the boys and the dad and that I could if I wanted but maybe I didn't need to.

So I was all, "Yeah, that's a great idea! Your friends are cool, they're a nice family, and that's a neat neighborhood. You'll have a great time." Without me. Sniff.

I just thought I had another year or two before this would be a thing.

Failure to Collaborate

I just received Big Kid's first report card from the new school.

That's going well, by the way. He's been like a totally different kid since he switched. He is happy, never complains about school anymore, and sometimes says it's fun. He has (hesitantly) admitted that he feels more advanced than his classmates and makes a real effort to come up with things that he's learned that day and always adds, "I never knew that before! I sure am learning a lot!" as if to convince me. So, I can't yet tell if they are academically on par with the last school; they seem to be learning the same things just in different ways. There's less homework and busy work, but is there less work in general? It's hard to say but I don't really care because he's happy. I find myself wondering about the lack of worksheets and then remembering that I never agreed with worksheets in the first place.

But the report card itself was a surprise. There were no letters, just numbers from 1 to 3, all indicating that he was average in everything which seemed odd since he usually gets straight As and seems unchallenged, if anything lately. He got a 1 (the worst score) in his ability to work in a group and the teacher's comment was something about his inability to collaborate with others. This seriously freaked me out--Big Kid gets along easily with others and has reported no problems at school.

I asked him about it and he was baffled. He mentioned that he was involved with a group project and he had asked Kevin why his extra-curricular sports should excuse him from his at home portion of the work, and admitted being snippy about it but clarified that it had just happened that day and that Kevin was irresponsible.

I started feeling really worried and also annoyed at the teacher--I decided she should have clarified the problem or called me in for a conference and not vaguely referred to it on his report card. I got a little riled up and decided he was being graded on his social ability and if he wasn't actually being a problem, that was a problem. So what if he's quiet? So what if he politely calls Kevin out on his crap?

I emailed her.

(Don't worry, I was nice. I also didn't mention Kevin.)

She emailed back within an hour and explained the number thing. She agrees it's dumb, and it's not the school's idea just another great idea that the state is implementing. She also said Big Kid had a problem in his reading group because he has decided some people read too slowly or without enough inflection and interrupts with an offer to finish for them.

So yeah, that's a problem. An annoying (but also mildly amusing) problem.

"Big Kid, do you have issues with your reading group?" I asked.

His eyes got big as he realized what she had meant. He definitely recognized it as a problem.

"Mom, it's just that they're terrible readers--the book doesn't even sound good. They aren't even trying. If you could hear it--"

I interrupted him to point out that it didn't matter and how they needed the reading practice more than he needed an enjoyable reenactment of the story and to knock it off and read it how he wants on his own time. He was contrite, but still pretty sure that I wouldn't like listening to it either. He's probably right.

But thank God I was nice and didn't mention Kevin! It turns out that Big Kid is the problem this time, in a very Big Kid type of way.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Student of the Week

The other day little kid announced that he was student of the week.

"I'm gonna be it for two weeks because of the schedule," he explained.

"That is so nice!"

"Not really."

"What? Why not?"

"Student of the week is to honor and appreciate," except he says appreeseeate," students who are very kind or good or nice."

"See? That's awesome! Nothing wrong with that and to get to be it for TWO weeks?!?"

"Yeah, but you have to sweep up your class's table in the cafeteria."


"Yeah, that's one of the duties. There are other things that are good, but I think it's not the best way to be honored and appreciated."

Yeah. It's hard to argue with that logic.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Artistic Interpretation

The other day at the beach, I asked the kids if they wanted to go for a walk (my favorite beach activity that is rarely indulged by others) and Big Kid declared he'd like to walk alone with his dad. I could tell he felt bad for asking so I didn't guilt trip him about it but I did feel a teensy bit like, "Yeah, okay, whatever," because I'm the one who likes walks.

So I talked little kid into walking the other way with me. He did, reluctantly, only because I'm really good at finding neat shells and he plans on owning a shelling empire on etsy some day.

In the far distance, we saw a large mound of sand topped with something dark. We decided that would be our stopping point and hypothesized on what it might be. It seemed too round to be a sandcastle, too purposeful to be a regular sand mound and we walked and talked and occasionally mentioned that whatever it was, we were getting closer.

As we approached, it appeared to be a misshapen sand mountain but I walked around it and realized it was this:

little kid was steps behind me, there was no distracting him now, which was my first impulse. Quickly, I decided I'd take the art work approach.

"Look! It's a lady!" I exclaimed. "How creative!"

He stood next to me, smirking. "She has boobies."

"Of course she has breasts, that's how we know she's a woman! It's someone's artistic expression."

He laughed. I laughed too.

"You should add arms," I told him, nodding to a pile of sticks nearby. He agreed, picking them up and jamming them into her sides. He circled her again.

"She has a butt--there's a round sand part on her back where her butt would be," he pointed out. He looked up at me, holding back a laugh, and then crouched down and drew a line with his finger. "I'm just finishing it!" he declared when I looked at him with raised eyebrows. We cracked up laughing and decided it was time to walk back.

We giggled for a minute and talked about her original sculptor. We talked about how the sea would wash her away tonight, wave by wave. Eventually, we fell quiet and just walked in the very shallow water holding hands.

A family passed, the first people we had seen in a while, and he said, "They look like a nice family."

I agreed that they did. We were quiet again for a moment.

"They're in for a surprise," he added.

We both cracked up laughing again. By the time we met back with Mr. Ashley and Big Kid, he was bursting at the seams to tell them but laughing so hard it barely made sense.

"I was going to put a pile of seaweed back there like poop but I thought that would be taking it too far," he concluded in his retelling of the tale.

Yes, that would have been taking it too far.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Too Soon

On the way home from school on Tuesday, I was particularly tired after my crazy weekend and said so to the kids.

"You're always tired at this time of day, mom," Big Kid pointed out (accurately).

"No! I'm tired because I've been doing 3.5 hours of yoga a day! I had a big weekend!"

"That's true. I feel sorry for you," he allowed.

"Don't feel sorry for me! Hard work is good! Think of how strong I'll be!"

"If you don't snap first," he added, matter-of-factly.

"Big Kid!"

"I'm not saying you're gonna snap. You probably won't. You could though...I think it's a little soon to be sure you won't."

He has a point, I suppose.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sweating It


Well, fuck. This experience was a good reminder of why I don't take my own advice.

I guess this "You get what you put out into the universe, whether you like it or not" business is true because not even an hour after telling you all that I did not want to be the one being told, "I acknowledge you," my dumb ass was being acknowledged.

I once again fell into the trap of thinking I was smarter than everyone else. I had planned to volunteer enthusiastically for every activity other than the deep emotional stuff, so I would appear to be a team player without doing things I don't want to do. I had a few "safe" things to talk about to get around whatever they might attempt to drag me into. So when she asked for a reader during morning meditation, I flung my hand into the air because I fucking rock at reading. I would impress her and the group with my excellent inflection and confident voice. And I did great, like I knew I would.

I'm not even getting into the details, because I don't even know if I remember them and don't want to check, but it was something about our visions and dreams and when she asked for my personal interpretation I blah blah blah-ed about my writing "career."  

And then I don't even know what happened. I very quickly realized I was no longer in control of the situation and she was marching me right down a path I didn't even see coming. She's a licensed therapist and former social worker and sneaky, sneaky and a whole lot smarter than I am.

15 minutes of soul searching questions and answers later, I was sitting there with my chin trembling uncontrollably (fucking chin! Traitor! Why couldn't I have just cried like everyone else? I didn't want to cry, but god it sucked to have no control of my damn face in such a weird way) and reciting "The lie that I am living is that I am not enough," into the eyes of my various classmates.

Then she'd tell me that I don't sound sincere, and I appear to always come from my head instead of my heart, and ask me to say it again to someone else--and then ask these people, my new friends, who just watched my chin trembling, how sincere I sounded on a level of 1-10.

For someone who often feels insincere, self conscious, and socially vulnerable, it was a fucking nightmare.

I averaged around a 7, which was fine with me. She seemed surprised that I was okay with that, and I explained that it was only day 2 and I didn't even realize I was living a lie 30 minutes ago; that I'm here to work on connecting better with people, in part, and that I can hear myself and I know it doesn't sound sincere. I was reciting something I've just been told a moment ago and didn't generate on my own.

(Chin and lower lip still doing their own thing.)

She stared at me for a really uncomfortably long time, in a compassionate but searching way. I was a little pissed off at her. She asked if that was my lie, if that fit me. I told her it absolutely did. She asked how it felt and I told her that it sucked--that it felt right and that sucked. She acknowledged me.


Hearing other people's lies is hard. (We usually do this shit at night, which is why I was so easily tricked. She would have gotten me eventually though, and probably will again.) Seeing people feeling raw and exposed in front of a group is physically painful, in a sense. She says we need to make space in our heads so we can hold space for others and that we're going to get all of our own shit out (there's a ton of cursing that goes on, I'm right at home) but it gets really heavy and intense.

Then, stunned and quiet and glassy eyed, we were all sent straight to hot power yoga. By the time we got to meditation afterwards (savasana, which is 99% of the reason I do yoga), we were soaking wet with sweat and the air was heavy and gross with humidity. As my hands splayed out into meditation position, they accidentally brushed the soggy, slick, hot hands of the people on either side of me.

Instead of recoiling as we all normally would, one of them grabbed my hand and squeezed it quickly before releasing and I grabbed my other neighbor's hand and did the same. We lied there with the backs of our hands lightly touching for the rest of savasana. It was...nice.

Then there were hours of learning, and more yoga, and more yoga, and assisting a sweaty almost stranger, which involved massaging and pressing on their butts and whatnot, and practice teaching which is still terrifying, and then circle time again and more lies and more stories and more crying.
At 11 pm, they told us there was one more exercise and told us not to speak from that moment on. They led us to another room that was set up movie theater style with folding chairs. I was hesitant but hopeful that we would be watching a movie. NO SUCH LUCK.

Four at a time they took us to the front of the room and had us stand there shoulder-to-shoulder and look out at the group. And the group looked back at us. And we were stared at for 5 minutes. We were told to stop being afraid of other people, to embrace the discomfort, to create a connection, to be present and see for our own eyes that we were not alone and never had to be alone, to drop our masks and just be. I was fine with it, mostly because I had control of my own face.

Then she led another 4 people in front of us, and lined us up so that we were toe-to-toe and with some people depending on stature, belly to belly and we stared into each other's eyes for FIVE FREAKING MINUTES aka an eternity.

By this point, I was so mentally and physically exhausted that I could have stared into Hitler's eyes with love and softness. I would have done anything in the world to go home. Some people were chastised for giggling. Others cried. I just went ahead and looked at the person in front of me. I would match my breathing to theirs and look in their eyes (with sincerity!) and think about how they were beautiful or wise or kind and how I hoped we could go home soon and how I should have accepted that Tic Tac that was offered to me earlier.

When we were done, they asked us to maintain a "noble silence" and not speak to each other or to anyone at home until after meditation tomorrow--no Facebook, no email, no people. Again, they wanted us to stew in it.

I went home and slept better than I ever have.

The next morning, once we were allowed to talk again, all 3 of my people approached me separately to tell me that it was easy or nice or comfortable to be my partner last night and thanked me, and that made me feel good. I felt sincere. I felt like I was enough.

God, I want to barf just reading it all! Please feel free to roll your eyes, I would too. It's all so not me. How in the hell am I gazing softly into the eyes of strangers and massaging and hugging sweaty people? How did I end up off of the couch and doing yoga for 3.5 hours a day? How am I teaching a subject I don't yet know in front of a group? How the heck has this all happened?

And despite it sounding like a living hell, I don't hate it. I don't even dislike it. I don't dread the next session, I look forward to it. I already miss my people. I'll probably get together with them this weekend, voluntarily.

On the last day of the weekend, sore both emotionally and physically, we were called in front of the group and asked to give up our lies with enthusiasm and declare our new way of being. One by one, the people who had sobbed and wept and trembled before us all weekend, jumped/skipped/danced/jogged to the front of the room and shouted with confidence and a wide grin (in every single case) as we cheered for them.

The lie that I am giving up is that I am not enough, and my new way of being is of strength!

I said it with sincerity. I said it with an exclamation mark.

Now we'll see if I can do it.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Twerking Tuesdays

I'm not dead. I have the post you're waiting for, the long one, but first I think we (both) need reassurance that I'm still me, that just like I can curb it with my crazy cat lady talk (so very barely), I won't be all annoying and hopeful and empowered all of the time here, either. Because, barf.

(My yoga training teacher would give me "the look" and sigh so hard right now if she could read that.)

Today after picking the kids up from school, I was reciting the asana sequences I need to memorize for homework. I do it in this weird, sing-songy way because that's how I'm able to remember it.

"...exhale, low plank. Inhale, up dog. Exhale, down dog--inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale..."

"You should insert a twerking pose right there, since you've got nothin'," Big Kid offered from the backseat.

I paused and laughed. "What do you know about twerking?"

"Nothing, really. It's something with moving your butt. A kid at school did it today."


"He shaked his butt? At school?" little kid asked. 

"Nevermind that. By the way, what did you learn in school today?"

"That there's such a thing as 'twerking Tuesday'. I guess. That's the most surprising thing I learned. I don't really see why there's a need for twerking Tues--"

"What's twerking?" little kid asked.

"Let's just drop it," I said.

"I'm gonna look it up on the internet. How do you spell it, Big Kid?"

"No, man, don't look it up on the internet. You might see a girl in her panties."

"How would you know?" little kid asked immediately, with a grin.

Good question. How does he know?

Big Kid started to quietly hum the Jeopardy theme song and little kid and I cracked up laughing even though I knew I should probably be serious.

"No, really," he said, as we calmed down and little kid asked again how he knew,"I don't know. The same kid who knows about twerking Tuesdays might have mentioned it. I'm not sayin' he did because I don't want to get anyone in trouble, but I haven't googled it. I know a 7-year-older shouldn't google twerking either, though." 

Time to search the computer's history and add "twerking" to the blocked list, just in case.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Namaste, Bitches

I'm not dead.

I don't think.

I'm also not fully capable of forming thoughts.

The first day of yoga teacher training wasn't so bad. Practice kicked my butt. I had to touch a stranger with my hot, sweaty hands to practice adjustments. I had to teach a series of Sun Salutation B, despite not knowing the process. (I just do what I'm told in class, I don't memorize this shit.)

The worst for me is that I had to stand toe to toe with a stranger, press our palms together, and stare into each other's eyes and breathe. I could barely do it. I laughed too much and sometimes just looked away because it was super freaking awkward. My partner was capable of doing it, but her partner sucked.

I had to pledge my confidentiality to the group, and was asked to trust the process, to not talk shit, and to abstain from any mind-altering substances (not even a glass of wine) until Monday.


At the end we had this group therapy session that was incredibly intense and sad. We're not allowed to give advice or touch people during these sessions (funny how I don't want to touch anyone until they are standing there alone and crying and then I'm ready to knock over our teacher to get to them; I simply can't stand sitting there and watching someone hurt.) There's a lot of staring at a vulnerable, wounded individual and saying things like "I acknowledge you." I suspect the no mind-altering substances is to force us to stew in these emotions and process everything instead of escape it. Fuck.

I desperately fear being that acknowledged individual some day in the future. Shit was IN-TENSE. Needs a hyphen for the drama. I'd rather do an hour of chair pose than do that again. And I hate chair pose.

I got home near midnight and have to be back on my mat at 7:45. I cried quietly during my first class because my old lady hip hurts.

Oddly enough, I'm excited to go back.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Oh No Hero

The other day I heard a frantic pounding at the front door. Since this is how the neighbor girls announce their arrival, I stuck my head out to say that little kid couldn't play and saw one lone girl from around the bend, with tear-stained cheeks, who was shrieking that her brother was hurt.

I am not good in emergencies. At all. This isn't me just being self-deprecating either--I really suck. Once an old lady fainted while sitting next to me at an outdoor event and my first thought was, "Oh crap, why is this happening?" and then not as much action followed as one would like to hope. Luckily, there are better people than me in the world.

(The old lady was fine, thank goodness, and those better people of the world act fast.)

So my mind was racing that I hoped a real adult would step in as I pounded the pavement to get to him. There are 3 Ashleys on our street--one is his mother, one is me, and one is the neighbor behind me. He was lying in the third Ashley's yard and there was a lot of blood.

He had fallen off of his bike and the hand brake punctured his thigh. There was a lot of blood.

I told her to run back to my house and get my phone and a big handful of paper towels. Have I mentioned there was a lot of blood?

I said "Oh no, oh no, oh no" a lot as I told him it would be okay. I fumbled with my phone when I finally got it, calling half of my contacts list and yelling, "ASHLEY?!? NOT YOU, GOD NOT YOU!" before hanging up on several people, including one of my clients who was waiting for a return call, as I tried to find her number in my shaky panic. Finally, I found her:

"ASHLEY? It's Ashley! Your son is hurt, not REALLY bad but pretty bad, I mean, he's okay but there's blood--we're in the other Ashley's yard. Come now!"

She sped up in her minivan and whisked him to the emergency room. My adrenaline was on high alert for the rest of the night.

Thankfully, he only needed a few stitches and he's fine.

But she texted me this morning to tell me her daughter had to write an essay at school about a hero...and she picked me. *Sniff*

I'm immensely, ridiculously proud, even though I don't quite fit the standard definition for heroism. No one's ever called me a hero before, I'll take it however I can get it.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Being a Yes

Okay, I've had some more time to process this yoga teacher training business. I've also had time to throw out my hip again, burn the fuck out of my hand, develop a series of migraines, and I may have broken two toes, which is pretty typical in a week of being Ashley.

I went from sheer, insomniatic (spellcheck says I made that word up, which is awesome of me. I can't think of a better word and I like how it sounds) panic to devastating, soul-crushing defeat to fuck it, let's do this shit. I waver a bit on the fuck it, let's do this shit but I'm kind of committed now, having signed my life away, taken on a part-time job in which I won't get paid for to pay for it, and experienced the encouragement and support of all of these people that I don't want to annoy.

Here are the possibilities:

1. True enlightenment and mastery of yoga and personal self.
2. A physically painful but moderately amusing experience.
3. A physically and emotionally painful but empowering experience.
4. I die.

So, whatever.

I could write a book about any of those except dying (unless I was revived with no damage and then that would be one hell of a story about how I almost died doing yoga. It might be worth it.)

At this point, I'm more nervous about the work trade. I haven't done 300 hours of anything but sitting on the couch in a long time. I do like the work, I feel super fancy using the boutique's scanning gun and dressing the mannequin. Apparently I mop really wrong, though, as I am reminded and re-taught frequently and there is some baffled sighing and exchanging of glances that I can't do it the way they like. (It's a highly coordinated process). I'm working on it but I'm not sure if we should add mop mastery to the list of pros or cons; it's a lot more important than I realized before beginning this journey of enlightenment.

I do love the people involved (even if they don't like my mopping). There are several people taking the teacher training class that I truly like or am intrigued by, and I want to be just like all of the teachers when I grow up. Not that I want to be a teacher, necessarily, I just want to be cool like them.

So, I'm going in for brainwashing starting on Friday. I'm a little bit worried that they'll wash the sarcastic away but they couldn't do that, right? I don't think they could do that.

 Unless I die.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Open Door Policy

Our house has an unfortunate layout which involves the boys' bathroom needing two doors to be closed for complete privacy, with one of these off of the kitchen.

little kid pretty much refuses to close either door (or flush the toilet, but I guess it's not relevant) so I frequently find myself on the receiving end of a startling and unwelcome view.

"Dude, could you do me a personal favor and CLOSE THE DOOR?" I asked for the 900th time the other day.

"You should just try to think of it like a documentary, mom."

"Yeah, no thanks," I laughed and evacuated the area, only to find myself in need of something in the kitchen a few minutes later and headed back in that general direction.

"Mom?" He shouted.


"You might want to wait. The documentary is still showing."

I waited.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

PTO Pace

When I was feeling nervous about my presentation at the PTO meeting, I asked the kids if they would watch me run through it one time.

"It was good," Big Kid said with a satisfied smile, "You did get a little fast at parts."

"I did? I was fast? Okay, I'll work on that."

"I don't want you to drive yourself crazy but maybe you should show me one more time, slowed down." My 10 year old advised.

I did it again, slower and with more emphasis on everything.

He looked perplexed. "Okay, well it looks like the choice is to be slowed down and weird, or fast. I'd do fast. Nevermind about slowing down."

"I was weird?"

"Slowed down you're weird. Fast you're just you but fast."

I went with fast. I don't think I was too weird. I did way over-think the whole thing in true Ashley style. Everyone else got up there and rambled on and on and on with no clear point, and I had a snazzy speech with a video clip (everyone likes a video).

It sucked to do but I had to assert myself as alpha mom, since it's a new school and all.

Om No

Well, I think I've gone and done the dumbest thing ever.

Have I told you all about the time I accidentally went skydiving?

An ex-boyfriend was going and asked if I would like to go to watch and I accepted, joking all day long about what a gift it was to see your ex jump from a plane. I also flirted a bit with the instructors because I was particularly obnoxious then (this was a very long time ago. I'm still obnoxious but not in the same way.) One of them asked if I'd ever go skydiving and I said sure, but I would never pay to do it. He asked if I would go if he took me for free. I thought he was asking me on a date, at a later time, and I said of course I would without hesitation, and was pretty pleased with myself.

Ten minutes later I was strapped to this guy and riding in an airplane. It was certainly one of my bigger, "I've made a huge mistake," moments in life.

I realized then that I did not want to go skydiving. I considered how I was going to get back to the ground and realized my pride was not going to allow me to ride back down in the plane. Standing in the open doorway, able to see the outline of most of the lower half of Florida, I clearly remember thinking, "Motherfucker! What have I done?"

He said to jump on the count of 3 and I jumped on 2 because if I waited one more second, I wouldn't do it.

It was without a doubt one of the most exhilarating, amazing, empowering, peaceful, incredible experiences of my life.

(I later found out I was wearing my shirt inside out, which was probably obvious to the guy strapped to my back and I felt slightly less sexy and confident and powerful then but oh well.)

Often in life when I feel scared, I think, "You've jumped out of an airplane! You've gotten tattoos and didn't cry! You've had two kids! You can do whatever this is!"

Lately I've lost that power though. I was nervous to speak at a PTO meeting last night. I've jumped out of an airplane and would happily do it again to avoid public speaking and/or PTO meetings. I used to be in sales and marketing, where did that social swagger go?

I've been feeling a bit adrift, lately. Don't get me wrong--I love that. I live an easy peasy life and most of my problems are my own creation. But my 35th birthday was a big reminder that, "Hey, you're not really doing anything. At all. Really. You're not," and made me notice that I don't even care. I'm just blah. Just sitting here doing the bare minimum. A lot. And feeling afraid of things that are ridiculous, like speaking at PTO meetings.

So I somehow ended up at my yoga studio's teacher training open house (and that may or may not be because of a rumored boutique discount for going) and I learned that the certification course was really freaking hard, like yoga boot camp and therapy and intervention all wrapped into one and also expensive and I was like, "Oh well, there goes that thought," and ended up not even being able to use my discount before it expired.

A friend and I briefly discussed doing it together next year, and I liked that idea a lot because I like planning things more than I like doing things.

And then a week later, one of my dorky science podcasts was randomly about the science of yoga, and I had yoga dreams, and when I woke up I had a brief thought that if I could afford it, the teacher training course would be good for me as a human being. When I opened my inbox that morning, there was a work scholarship offer from the studio.

Damn it.

Everyone I have spoken to talks about how brutal it is--how they keep you there all day and night, how there is a ton of self inquiry and group therapy and how they break you down to build you back up again inside and out. The Woman I Want to Be is intrigued by the thought but the entire rest of my being is ready to kill her right now.

They also teach yoga (obviously), meditation, anatomy, nutrition, public speaking, presentation skills and a bunch of touchy feely stuff that I will want to roll my eyes at and dislike doing and that I probably need. I do love the studio and the people though, and I want to be just like them if I grow up. I'm also very grateful for the opportunity, it is a nice offer.

As if I wasn't uncertain enough about whether or not to do it (particularly since I'm not sure I want to be a yoga teacher at all and I am sure I don't like sweaty people), I took a really intense hot yoga class today and almost died. They asked me to update my emergency contact information after class and I believe it is a direct indicator of my performance even if they swear it's not. So this is a terrible idea.

"Before I sign anything...how many people have died in teacher training?" I asked one of the managers.

"Ashley, there are senior citizens in your class."

"Are you saying you think they might die?"

"No one is going to die. You will not die. You're going to think you want to at some point, but I promise you won't. It will be good."

"Everyone I talk to says it's super hard but they're all proud, like beaming, and they speak highly of it." 

"That's because it's like Survivor for yogis. You'll never see the ones that quit again. It is HARD." Another teacher offered (and it didn't help).

"Okay, but it gets better? You end up looking forward to it after the first few sessions?"

They both smirked. "You'll never look forward to it, but it gets better."

I warned her that I was not an outwardly warm and fuzzy type of person and she assured me that was her greatest challenge as well, and that I'd be getting over that. I don't know.

I don't see how touching sweaty people can be taught, either.

So I guess I'm accidentally becoming a yoga teacher. I'm not jumping on 2 this time either, I'm clinging to the sides of the open door and requiring a few firm shoves. My friends and family range between "You better freaking do it," and "At least you'll have writing material," so I'm not positive they have my best interest at heart.

What the fuck am I doing, guys?

I start in 9 days and every time I think about it, I'm just perplexed about how this happened. Can't I just jump out of a plane again instead?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Hey There

I just had an--eerie? interesting? uplifting? hopeful? highly coincidental? moment.

As you all know, I got two new kitties after my very best friend passed on August 27th. I love them, fiercely, even though they are ruining all of my stuff, got shit on my brand new couch and ottoman yesterday, keep me up all night every night, have scratched me up so badly that I look like a victim of abuse, and I wheeze for hours each morning since one makes me sleep with him acting as a scarf. I adore them. I can barely speak in a normal tone because I am in constant baby cat talk mode all day long. I gather them up throughout the day and bury my face in them and feel so freaking lucky to have my own pile of cats.

 I just went to change the litter box and noticed diarrhea with what looks like blood. Panicking, I rushed to the computer to google that symptom. Immediately as the thought, "Should I take them to the vet?" entered my head (knowing of course that I would, these cats are treated like little kings) my hand bumped the mute button on my computer and "Hey There, Delilah," began to play from the beginning. I haven't heard it since I was on my knees in the vet's hallway, praying to God and the universe and the vet and my cat that sweet Pearl would stay. Prayer request denied.

Before I could even process what was happening, I began to cry because it made me remember so clearly and because I miss her so much. So, so, so much. I'd say at least once a day, I close my eyes and try to remember what she smelled like, the little patch of velvety-fur on her nose that grew both ways, how light she was in her arms, how it felt when she unearthed me from the covers and bumped her nose against mine. I live in constant fear of forgetting.

I hope she was saying hi, and to go to the vet.

 The song is probably 3/4 of the way down on my insanely long Spotify list, I did not have Spotify playing on purpose (or by choice), and I think it's pretty neat that the song started from the beginning at such a freakishly relevant time. So the cats are going to the vet, promptly.

Edited to add: Kitties have some medicine and will probably be fine, although it was difficult to tell exactly what the problem is. So that was expensive and a ton of fun for the cats.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Savvy Sleeper

After a long summer of sub-standard hair care (since I don't torture the whole salon by dragging the kids with me if I can help it), I was really looking forward to getting another keratin treatment which makes my hair smooth and shiny and straight.

I am long-time friends with the salon owner and barter my copy writing and social media managing skills in exchange for free hair, which is an awesome deal for me. They asked if I'd be the guinea pig for a new type of keratin treatment and I said sure, because when you get stuff for free, you shouldn't be picky. I also know that she values my opinion because I'm always completely honest with her, even if she wishes I wouldn't be.

Usually the keratin makes my hair too straight--it's a nice problem to have for someone with naturally curly hair that frizzes in the humidity but I get tired of it looking so lifeless for the first few weeks. We've been experimenting with different ways to keep some body while keeping it manageable.

This time was a dud, though.

I've got this one patch in the back that refuses to behave and if it is not chemically treated to the brink of death, it is a wild, unruly rat's nest. I guess we didn't get quite to the brink of death point, because it's a mess. I pointed it out to my hairdresser.

"We've been fighting that spot for years," she lamented. "Did you blow dry it straight and this happened?"

I admitted that I didn't blow dry it. She pointed out that it was pretty good for not being blow dried, other than that one spot. She reminded me that the point was really more to reduce frizz and drying time and that it wasn't intended to be a straightener, necessarily, even though it did do that on some hair types.

I explained that the real problem now was that I actually had to brush my hair, several times a day even. She paused in running her fingers through my hair.

"You don't like the new keratin because you have to brush your hair? Ashleeeeeey."

"I'm not saying I don't brush my hair! I just like it better when it's optional for the bus stop at least because that's so early. There's a lot of brushing needed now, so I put it in a ponytail."

She hates it in a ponytail. She sighed."What if you just blew it out, like, twice a week? You shouldn't do more than that anyway. And a ponytail on weekends?"

"I see, maybe, 3 people a day. Is that worth a blow dry? Eh." She agreed that it wasn't. She's lazy like me. (But she does brush her hair willingly, I think.)

She offered to redo the keratin but I dislike the process, so I said I wasn't ready yet. She pointed out that I would just have to brush my hair and maybe break down and blow dry it until I was ready to come in and do it again. I said yes, and ponytails. She shook her head and sent me off to be blow dried by her assistant.

And the next morning, I still woke up with the wild, wavy patch in the back even with a professional blow dry. Such a waste of time.

Soon after this, I was sent a Savvy Sleeper to review (the backlog/turn-around time on product reviews/giveaways right now is ridiculous and I apologize). It's marketed as a satin pillowcase with anti-aging, hair protecting properties but I was mostly looking forward to a nice cool pillow at night. I had already given up on my hair until its next treatment.

So mostly by accident, I went to bed one night with flat-ironed hair (because I had somewhere to go where more than 3 people would see me) and I woke up...with flat-ironed hair. I don't know if it was the lack of friction or the lack of sweat that helped soothe the crazy patch into compliance, but the crazy patch was straight and silky.

I've tried this a few other times, even with a half-assed blow dry and no flat ironing...and I still wake up with it looking like it did when I went to bed, with no crazy patch. Between the Savvy Sleeper and the stronger keratin, I might never have to brush it again.

(Just kidding.)

(No, I'm not.)

Also, the pillowcase feels lovely. Maybe it's a Florida thing but to wake up feeling cool and dry instead of warm and damp is already such an improvement that I don't even care if it keeps my skin young and makes my hair beautiful. The quality is very nice. I was a little concerned because I had a bad experience once at a rental house with faux silk sheets, but this material feels and looks rich. There's also a secret pocket--I've had all kinds of fun thinking of interesting things one might need in their secret pillow pocket. I love it though, I'll put something in there some day. Mr. Ashley fell asleep on my pillow the other night and I wrestled it out from beneath his sleeping head, because I wasn't going without it.

So I think I've skipped the midlife crisis and officially graduated into one of those house wives who goes to the salon for a once a week blow out and sleeps on a satin pillowcase and keeps her hair perfectly intact until the next blow out. I'm going to need a small fluffy dog, a head kerchief, and a convertible Cadillac.

Okay, I wanted those things anyway.

Savvy Sleeper has offered one to you all as well, so if you'd like to brush your hair less, or feel cooler while sleeping, or want to save time in the mornings by doing your blow dry at night and having it stay that way, you have the chance to join me in my satin-y slumber by entering the rafflecopter contest below. There are two ways to enter, I don't care which way you pick (or both!):

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 30, 2013

Old Fashioned

For my birthday dinner, we ended up at Buca di Beppo.

We lucked out and ended up with a table that had panoramic views of nudity--cherubs with dimpled butts, Michelangelo's nudes, a photo of a buxom woman standing next to a topless statue of a buxom woman. The kids laughed and pointed all evening long. At one point I tried to make them stop pointing, but then they appeared to be staring and laughing uproariously at the bewildered tables around us, so I went back to letting them point and shriek about Cupid's butt.

little kid pointed at this guy and said, "I can tell that photo is old fashioned, from a long time ago."

 "Right." I answered.

"Know how I know?"


"He's doing the Moonwalk!"

I laughed. "He's not doing the Moonwalk!"

"Then maybe it's the Robot?"

"No! He's not dancing, he's leaning on a rail."

"No, he's not."

"little kid, I grew up during that time--I know the Moonwalk and the Robot, he is not doing either."

"Well, I know leaning on rails and I haven't seen anyone lean on a rail like that."


"I'm pretty sure he's doing the Robot."


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Halloween Horrors

"What are you guys going to be for Halloween," I asked the boys over dinner last night.

"I'm still thinking about being Marilyn Monroe," Big Kid piped up. We've discussed this before. He thinks it would be hilarious and while I agree, I'm afraid he doesn't understand the adult implications of dressing in drag. I attempted to explain again.

"Mom, I'm not gay or transgender or whatever!! I like girls and I am a boy! I'm only 10! I just think it's funny--why would anyone care? "

"I don't know that people will care, I'm just warning you that people may either actually think you're a girl or just not get the joke. You can do what you want, I don't care. I'm just explaining the situation."

"It's ridiculous--that I can't be something funny because of other people. I think it's pretty obvious that I'm a boy and that's why it's funny. No one should judge me! I should be able to be what I want for Halloween!"

"No one's saying you can't! I'm just making sure that you know--"

little kid interrupted, "I know! I'm gonna be Hitler!"


"Yes, he was an important guy. He started the Civil War."

"It was World War II, and he was an evil and horrible man."

"Yep. Perfect for Halloween!"

"You are NOT being Hitler! There's not a chance in the world!"

"So he can be a girl but I can't be Hitler? That's not fair. I can be what I want. Who cares if people don't like it?"

"Yeah, but Hitler was a really bad guy, it's not funny."

"The devil is a bad guy and people be's him for Halloween. I'm not tryin' to be funny."

"Well, you're not being Hitler."

"I can be Marilyn Monroe if I want," Big Kid asserted.

I covered my face with my napkin and laughed in the way that I do when I'm trying not to cry.

And when I came home, I pulled up a costume website and talked them into being Slenderman and a skeleton, because I just don't think I can do a night out with Marilyn and Hitler.