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.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Plans for a Mid-Life Crisis

Today is my 35th birthday.

So far I've read cat food reviews, complained about my old lady hip that's acting up, wrote an article about fall, and managed someone else's social media, so it's already been jam-packed with middle-aged action.

I'm also carefully considering a mid-life crisis. Not sure what though. Something more exciting than reading cat food reviews, for sure (we are all natural and grain-free though, I think that's pretty exciting.) I've already done sky diving and tattoos. I'm scared of motorcycles and can't afford a sports car. World travel is high on the list but the logistics of that one are still fuzzy. I have the opportunity to become a  yoga instructor but I'd have to touch sweaty people and do lots of yoga--it would be a cool thing to say I did, but would I like doing it? I don't think I would ever like touching sweaty people, or even not sweaty people. But there is the Lululemon discount to consider.

I've also thought about getting another cat (a really old one whose owner died) but I don't know--I feel like I should save full-on crazy cat lady time for later. Like, my 3/4 life crisis.

I do think it's time to hire a pool boy.

And probably get a pool.

So there is lots of excitement and contemplation going on around here. While I wait for the bus to come.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Future Mrs. Amazon

If was a person, I'd marry it and have its babies.

I can truly say that I have never, ever had an issue with any transaction from them. I've used them for years, used to have a Prime membership, they are the glue that holds my UPS guy and I together--we've been through a lot and they've had plenty of opportunities to screw up, but never have.

Today little kid came home and dropped his new Kindle Fire HD, which resulted in one small hairline crack all the way across the front. I'm having a really crappy week (month? year?), little kid needs the Kindle Fire for school (which is complete lunacy, that they have 7-year-olds bringing in their own tablets but that's another post) and I could not replace it on my own any time soon.

I contacted customer service and asked if I could pay them to replace the screen or if such a thing was even possible.

They asked if he'd dropped it. I already told them that he dropped it. Knowing it was our own fault and we were out of luck for the warranty, I again admitted that he dropped it.

"Well, that is not a warranty issue since it was dropped," he began. I was about to clarify that I knew we were at fault and were willing to pay and he added, "but as a one time exception, we will replace it free of charge."


Amazon and I would have beautiful babies.

(And I'd probably get a free Prime membership out of the deal.)

Edited to add: The Kindle Fire was on my doorstep the next morning. I contacted them at 3pm on Thursday and had it by 10am on Friday. That's magic!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Day 1 Take 2

The second first day was Monday. 

He has to wear a uniform now. His school day is actually slightly longer. 

I was really nervous. He seemed fine. 

The principal's wife emailed me the night before and said they were excited to have him. The president of the PTO called me the next morning and talked me into coaching an Odyssey of the Mind team. Remember how well that went last time? Remember how I was rejoicing at not having a regular volunteer position in either classroom this year? My desire to be liked knows no limits and has no common sense. But hey--I was about to home school to get out of that last situation. A few afternoons and one long Saturday in exchange for my day time freedom seems like a decent trade. 

(I will complain about it often and loudly, though.)

When I picked him up and asked how his day was, he said, "Fun. It was good, and fun." 

It's easier to get information from jail house snitches and prisoners of war than from my kids about their school day.

I met his teacher in the car rider line and she said he did great, that she enjoyed having him, and with a wow-type look on her face, added, "He is great at math!" I found that particularly interesting since they're doing the same math but in a different style (can I go on record as saying every math "style" is stupid?) and since she has no idea why we switched to this school. He was beaming.

I eventually extracted more information from him, and in reviewing his homework was impressed to find a long-term social studies project where they came up with a personal research timeline and signed a contract stating that they understood the professionalism and effort expected. This kind of stuff is worth the hassle, not a mountain of math work sheets.

Today was day two and he seems so happy and relieved. He says he has no doubt that it was the right move.

I'm glad too. Except for the volunteering and stuff.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Wrong Education

At one point while we were trying to figure out what to do about Big Kid's school situation (mentioned in the post below this one), he was determined to stick it out in his current school. 

"Okay, but no matter what happens this year, I want you to be in a smaller school environment for middle school. Whether it's private school or a charter school, I don't know, just something smaller. I'm going to work hard on that all of this year--it may involve testing into a private school or something and you're just going to have to do it, it won't be a big deal."

He sighed in a dramatic but relieved way. "Okay. I've been meaning to talk to you about that. I'm glad you mentioned it."


"I heard the kids at that middle school," he dropped his voice to a dramatic whisper,"smoke the marijuana," he hissed.

I would categorize this moment as being in my top 10 "Hardest Not to Laugh" parenting moments reel. But I nodded very seriously. It was serious. It is serious. Still hilarious, though.

But that's when I knew he definitely couldn't go to public middle school.

Fresh Start

It's been such an exhausting and stressful couple of weeks that I've been too worn out to talk to you all much.

I'm not going to get into all of the details, but Big Kid had a bit of a breakdown about stuff happening at school. And when I say "a bit" I'm way misrepresenting how sad and physically sick about it he was. He confessed to us that he was having to stay in the classroom for lunch every day to "catch up." When I asked how often and how long it had been going on, he admitted 3-4 days a week, all year long. And he was really upset and worn down about it. I guess they have to show their work for math problems two different ways. He would get the answer and the first way but always had difficulty with the second way and sat there every day through lunch and sometimes recess trying to reverse engineer the work to an answer he already had.

It was extremely frustrating.

I asked his teacher about it and she suggested that he should stay after school and have one-on-one time with her. I felt for him, it seemed an even more frustrating solution to someone feeling overwhelmed with their work level but she insisted this was nothing we could help him with and I wanted him to get caught up. He finally figured out that he was doing the second way wrong. (I was a little surprised she hadn't checked on that during all of the lunches they've spent together.)

He also worked through lunch and recess again that day, stayed for an hour after school, and then had an hour of homework.

He told me that at the beginning of the year, she had said they moved fast at math and she can't slow down because they will fail the FCAT test and if they fail the FCAT test, they will fail 5th grade. Failing the FCAT has been Big Kid's greatest fear since it was introduced in 3rd grade. The FCAT is actually such a source of stress in our home that each year, against common parenting logic, I insist to him that it has zero impact on our lives. That I would never accept him being held back, especially as a straight A student. I look him in the eyes and tell him, "I do not care even one tiny bit what happens on the FCAT. Not one bit."

He scores in the 95th percentile or above each year, yet this is a dance we do again and again. His school really pushes the importance of this test, above and beyond all else. Their messages to him all year definitely outweigh my assurance that this is not significant.

In the meantime, I was making appointments with various doctors trying to figure out what was going on in his body or head that was making him physically sick. I let the teacher know what was going on, begged for a conference, and explained that the lunch room situation was a problem and offered to do whatever it was at home after school with him. She "didn't believe in that." Okay. Her schedule was too full for even a phone conference for over a week.

During all of this, I was unsure what to think. I couldn't ignore my kid's obvious stress level but it's hard to argue if someone is telling you your child is consistently not caught up. I wondered which was the real problem and made sure the teacher knew that I wasn't at all saying this should never happen, just not more often than not and that we needed a break with it to figure out what was going on. I also called every private school in town, researched virtual school, and even seriously and reluctantly considered (and semi fell in love with the idea of) homeschooling.

Mr. Ashley and I would talk in hushed tones in bed every night, now sick with worry ourselves. Was it him? Was it her? Was it a character flaw? Was it a suddenly surfacing learning disability? Was she stubborn and old? Was it ridiculous to demand a midday break?  Could we afford private school? Could we give him a good education ourselves? Had we been pounding a square peg into a round hole for his entire school career? Was it us?

One sleepless night, Big Kid was pale and had dark circles under his eyes. Scared for him, I asked what he thought we should do--I said we would do whatever at this point, including home school. Big Kid told me he didn't want to be home schooled but that he couldn't go on like this. He said he thought it would be best if he kept trying. She continued to keep him in at lunch. One day, in the greatest act of defiance of his life, he ignored her request to stay in at lunch and went to the lunch room. And came right home and told me about it. And I had to tell him that I heard him, I understood, but he had to do what she said. That was rough.

And I wondered and I wondered and I wondered what in the hell was going on. I asked for the opinions of friends who are teachers, friends who are mental health professionals, friends who are moms, and friends who know us best, and also asked some strangers. There was an outpouring of support, of people urging me to listen to my instincts, of people reminding me that I know Big Kid, of people insisting it was not right. I reached out to many people who know me well, reminded them that I am lazy and selfish and asked if I could home school, told them they had to be honest--unequivocally, down to the school psychologist who is a friend, they said that I could do it. That we would do it well. That they believed in me. That this wasn't crazy. 

One of the strangers said that there was always a part of horror movies where she finds herself thinking that she would just sit down and let whatever was coming eat her, and that's where it sounded like he was right now, and I realized that it didn't even matter which one of them was crazy, that it had to stop.

I felt scared. I also felt lucky. I realized that I had a village in those around me and that many of those people were highly qualified to offer their opinions, and that they loved Big Kid enough that they would not let me go down the wrong path. At the end of another odd day of living with a shadow of our 10-year-old, we decided something was happening immediately and that something might be homeschooling whether he liked the idea or not. I was up all night with racing thoughts researching curriculum.

The next day one of Mr. Ashley's friends called and said he had plead our case to the principal of a new charter school, that had been full a long time ago, and they made one spot for him in their STEM school but we had to accept within 24 hours. It was where we had hoped to send him for middle school. I felt like we won the lottery. I again basked in the gratitude of having a village--and not just any village, a damn good village.

Big Kid looked instantly relieved when I suggested it and broke out into a broad smile. I asked if he would miss his friends. He insisted that it didn't matter, that this was for the best. He has stayed true to this the whole way through. When I suggested that our friend deserves a fruit basket for going to bat for us, he said he deserves 3 fruit baskets.

We signed the papers Wednesday. He starts Monday. Yesterday was his last day of school and I was still slightly sad. I had to pick him up early for his doctor's appointment because the school requires a physical. In the parking lot he told me he had seen his math grade on the interim.

"What was it?" I asked, nonchalantly, curious to know how bad it was but thinking it was the least of my problems.

"An A."

"It was an A?"

"Yes. A 92."

Seriously? I get that it's probably an A because he stayed in--but I would have taken a C over this complete change in demeanor. I can't believe she continued to insist on doing this after I poured my heart out to her about how it was affecting us. For an A. She probably thinks I'm glad, but actually, I'm probably the only mom in the world who is pissed about an A. I was so mad I was shaking; I went from happily ready to drop it to wanting to pursue the issue even though it will no longer be one.

Yesterday after his physical as we were walking through the lobby, Big Kid grabbed my hand to hold it and said, "Mom? Thanks for doing all of this for me and for believing me and helping me," and all of the doubts I had about him and about what we're doing dissolved.

I know my kid.

We have a village.

Everything will be okay. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Screen Name Issues

"Mom, little kid's name on the Minecraft server is ILikePoop," Big Kid announced.

I laughed, knowing that I shouldn't. "That's pretty funny. It's disgusting, weird, and rude, but it is funny."

"The worst part is that he spelled it wrong."

I laughed again, agreeing that was the worst part.

"Seriously, mom, help me out here. Make him change it or at least make him spell it right." Big Kid pleaded.

"little kid, please learn to spell poop. It's p-o-o-p."

"Really, I don't think it's an appropriate name." Big Kid clarified.

"Totally inapoopriate, I agree." 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Crisis Averted

So after I conceded on the Boy Scouts issue, I sat down to look up the information and little kid began talking about all of the things pictured on the flyer that he was looking forward to doing.

"That's stock photography. You won't be doing all of that," I informed him.

"What's stock photography?"

"Just generic pictures they use to show something. You won't be ziplining through forests because we don't have any. Same with trampolines in the middle of lakes. Also, paintball--highly unlikely you'll be doing paintball."


"Yep. There will be things like camping, archery, making fires and learning to tie knots, volunteering in the community, building wooden cars to race--lots of fun stuff, but not all that stuff."

"Will there be fishing?"

"I'm sure."

"How much fishing?"

"A little? They fit a lot of things in to the program, so it won't be weekly fishing or anything."

"I really just wanted to fish."


"Are there fishing classes I could take?"

I googled for a moment and found a free program where park rangers take kids fishing twice a month.

"That's fine. I'll do that."

"But what about Boy Scouts?"

"Eh. I just want to fish."

"But what about camping? Pinewood derby cars?"

"You take me camping. Will you take me camping in the Keys?"

"Yes! Yes, I will! But look--do you still want to be a Boy Scout? If you want to be a Boy Scout, I support you in that. You would like it. I can sign you up, the information is right here..."

"I really just want to fish."

(I think I heard the angels singing from the heavens at this point.)

I later found a state park program where the kids can do self-led activities and earn badges. He was delighted by that idea, as long as it wouldn't interfere with fishing. I have another friend in the same not-wanting-to-be-a-Boy-Scout-until-they-get-their-act-together boat and we've vowed to take each other's kids on outdoor adventures.

So I'm the proud mom of an unofficial boy scout.

That was easy.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


The Boy Scouts post reminded me of a conversation I had with Big Kid when we went out of town to the waterpark.

Despite being one of the most caring and empathetic people I've ever met, Big Kid has never had a strong opinion on the subject of gay marriage. The thought made him wrinkle his nose a bit. He once asked why they needed to get married, and I asked why any of us needed to get married. I reminded him that our incredibly intelligent and well-loved friend Edward is gay, has been with his partner for 20 years, and asked if that bothered him? That Edward has found the love of his life, and it's another male? No, he agreed that didn't bother him, but quickly changed the subject.

So I was hesitant when he started with, "Mom, I don't want to be offensive but--about gay people?"


"Who even cares?"

"A lot of people care, Big Kid. If people didn't care, nothing would ever happen. If people didn't care, I still wouldn't be allowed to vote and your school wouldn't allow black kids."

"No, I mean who cares that they're gay? I've been thinking about it and who cares? How do people even have time to get on Facebook or Youtube and complain about who other people want to love?"

"Oh. Yeah. Good question. I'm not sure why they care, I guess it scares them. Also, many think it goes against their religion."

"What scares them? That they will have to turn gay? Because they won't. Gay people just want to be normal, they're not looking for everyone to be gay. Not everyone is in their religion."

"Right. Exactly. But it's different and some are slow to evolve. You know how you were a little squicked out about gay marriage at first?"

"Yeah, but I feel bad about that. I've been thinking and I don't care. It's not my business who they love."

"Exactly. That's great! Gay people aren't trying to annoy or bother the rest of us, they just want to be accepted--I think that's what everyone wants. To just feel normal."

"You know what I think is the worst thing about being a human being?"


"How badly we treat our own kind."

Damn. That is some poignant shit for a 10 year old. It gave me goosebumps.

"Me too. That's why we have to not be those people, and even more so, why we have to speak up when we see people being treated badly."

"If I have kids and they are gay, I might be a little sad because of how bad other people are but I would love them still."

"Me too," I said. "If you or your brother ever had feelings like that, it would not be a blip on my radar. I truly love you both regardless and I want you to be whatever you want to be. If other people were bad to you, I'd beat them down. Do you mind if I ask what inspired all of this thinking?"

"The Macklemore song."

Ahhhhhh. Macklemore. This totally makes up for the time you had him saying, "Damn, that's a cold-ass honky."

I never thought I'd be thanking Macklemore for being the catalyst of a very insightful conversation.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Re-Homing Adopted Children

You all know how I love a good long article.

This Reuters series about "re-homing" children was so unbelievable that I was almost late for work at the yoga studio today because there was no way I could wait to finish it. It's a series and each piece was excellent.

And here's a related article.

I had to go through more effort to get my kittens than these people went through to get kids.

The Reluctant Scout

It finally happened the other day.

I knew it would. I thought that possibly I could evade it or ignore it and last year I did, but it happened again.

little kid wants to join Boy Scouts.

And I get it, I really do. But boy, oh boy, do I strongly dislike the organization. I know it's getting better, I know the individual troops are most likely fine, I know they don't have enough sway to negatively influence my child but let me tell you exactly how much I don't want to fund raise or contribute to the organization as a whole. There's a lot about the adult side of things there that I really disagree with. I will do you a favor and not list all of them.

They gave him a flyer at school and he came home and asked about it and I set it aside and said we'd consider it, not really considering it. Then the Monday of the meeting, he asked again.

"How about karate?" I tried.

"I want to do Boy Scouts."

I sighed. "Look, I want you to do Boy Scouts too. It's just something your dad and I have to talk about, there are some issues with their leadership--not anything that would affect you directly, just grown up political stuff, that we really don't like. We also need to make sure we can commit the time and money to a new activity."

"What kind of politics stuff?"

"Up until recently, they didn't allow gay members and in the past have even gone so far as to kick boys who admitted feeling that way out of the group. That doesn't really line up with their duty to be kind, some kids who have gotten all the way to the very top ranking have even quit over it. I think most Scouts themselves are good people who do nice things but it's not very nice of the organization as a whole. There are still some other ongoing issues, too. It makes it hard to give them our time and money."

"What's their problem with gay people?"

"I don't really know. I guess because the Bible says something about it."

"I thought the Bible wanted us to be nice to each other, I thought that was the whole point."

"Me too. I guess there are some old rules in there though and people still like some of those."

"I don't think God or Jesus would like it." He thought for a minute, "Well...I will still be nice to gay people. I like them and think they can love who they want. But I want to be a Boy Scout."

Of course he will still be nice to gay people. Of course he wants to be a Boy Scout.

I was sick yesterday for the orientation (and to be honest, I was still leaning so far on the side of no that my headache was barely a factor. The fact that the activities aren't something I'm personally interested in at all doesn't make it more tempting, and Mr. Ashley works a lot.) I thought I missed a bullet. I folded up the flyer and stuck it in a magazine. Out of sight, out of mind.

Until he came home from school and asked if the meeting had passed. I reminded him that his brother and I were sick yesterday and he looked sad.

"I wanted to be a Boy Scout."

"How about any other activity? In the whole wide world? Karate, guitar, rock climbing, painting, sailing, I'll buy you a kayak--what?"

"I just wanted to be a Boy Scout, and now it's too late." He wasn't pouting. He was sad.

I sighed. "It's not too late. You can still be a Boy Scout." I wasn't pouting. I was sad. Sad that the grown-ups can't just practice what they preach and play nicely with others and that this is still an issue at all.

"There goes your dignity," added Big Kid, who I hadn't realized was listening.

"Me?" I asked.

"He's going to look ridiculous in that outfit and they don't like gay people."

"The outfit isn't bad. They're coming around on the gay thing, maybe. I think it will be okay," I said.

He raised his eyebrows and made a skeptical face. I would have made the same face at myself.

Friday, September 6, 2013


So, guess what my newest writing gig is? You're never going to guess.


No, seriously. For real. Quit laughing.

When I was originally approached about it, I was intrigued but concerned.

"Have you actually read my blog?" I asked before committing. "I'm not exactly...motivational. Or managing my time well." (Which was probably already indicated to them by my slow response time.)

I'm not my own best endorsement, in case you hadn't picked up on that.

They knew. They didn't care. They liked me anyway. They said they knew what they were getting into and that I was allowed to be funny. The other contributors are all super duper inspirational and on top of their game so I guess they had room to risk it.

And that's how I became a contributor for the new Whytime App! They featured information from an interview with me on their website and I think it's the fanciest thing that is about me on the whole wide internet--you can see it here.

(I took that photograph using my camera's self-timer in my backyard. If you ever need an exercise in humility, there's your assignment. I think this is the second time ever I've shared a picture of myself here.)

But enough about me. Even more delightful than all of the flattery, the app and I are a perfect match. Well, the app and the Woman I Want to Be are, and her and I have a date to meet back up one of these days here soon. Anyone who has been reading for a while knows that I love a new life plan but I have commitment issues. My favorite part of a new plan is making the lists and checking the boxes but then I get overwhelmed with all of that stuff to do and feel defeated, which leads to me doing even less. It's exhausting to be this unproductive.

 The best thing about the Whytime App is that it focuses on making time for yourself a priority--so you get all of the joy of an accomplished to do list along with the pleasure of scheduling a promise to take care of yourself and actually following through with it. The way I look at it, at least I would get the "me" stuff done and then every to do list would seem slightly more complete, and maybe I'll be more eager to actually consult my to-do list if there are things I want to do on it.

The whole app is very streamlined, smart, simple and satisfying. You can find it here on itunes.

We're also going to give one away, so enter below! You can enter 3 different ways, but you don't have to.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
I have fallen off of the cleaning/organizing/scheduling wagon lately and I'm hoping this will be the tool that helps me get everything back together.

Fingers crossed.

Thursday, September 5, 2013


There's a new way to enter that Peekaboo Beans contest down there, so you can earn another entry. Also, the original instructions were to leave a comment to enter but last time I checked we had like 44 entries and 17 comments so I'm going to go ahead and guess that some of you are 10 digit amputees and I've unchecked the "mandatory" box on that one. And one day you will surely repay me by using your toes to type out a short and cryptic comment.

Also, thanks for voting for me for that contest! I got first place but even more importantly, there were so many little hearts by my name and it made me feel really good. This was a pretty great week, all in all.

And last but not least, here are some kitty pictures. I'm sharing them with you because Mr. Ashley said that I am indeed becoming the crazy cat lady of instagram and despite my good intentions to quit, I already posted about cats on twitter again today, so here we are:

It's too much cuteness for one house. 

But Calvin got so stuck in the dishwasher rack today that I thought I was going to have to call the fire department to break him out. Twice.  I had to take the whole rack out to squeeze him back through the slats. He keeps it interesting. And Dom keeps it loud because despite being very mellow, he occasionally wanders around meowing in a sad and pitiful tone. He's very sweet, though. He licks me like a dog, which is nice but weird.

We have more exciting (non-cat) stuff happening tomorrow. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Peekaboo Beans Clothes Giveaway

So, on to the good things! We have lots this week!

(Because I'm so far behind, but regardless, to you all it will just seem like a big clump of exciting stuff.)

I get an insane amount of email from people with products to review (and videos and kickstarter campaigns and websites and services and shows). I know that seems like a nice problem to have but it is very overwhelming at times, particularly if I'm not sure what is being offered will be of good quality or relevant to our interests. I feel lucky enough that any of you care to read the mundane story of my life--I'm not going to go risking that fortune for a freebie. I only accept if I'm confident I can write about the product honestly, and sometimes I feel a bit of dread as I wait for the package because what if I hate it? Awkward.

I was contacted by a line of children's clothing called Peekaboo Beans and was intrigued but also hesitant, as usual. Boys clothes are often awful, being either obnoxious or babyish. Also, I don't know if I get choosier about clothing quality as I age or if it is really getting progressively worse. There are a few places I've shopped at for years, justifying the higher prices with the fact that both boys got wear out of the clothes since they lasted so long but they don't hold up like they used to. It's stupid stuff like buttons popping off and seams unraveling but for someone who can't sew, that's as good as dead in some cases. The Peekaboo Beans representative compared the clothes to Lululemon and I thought that was a bold claim that would be difficult to live up to. I decided I would do them a favor and not mention that they said that since it was probably pretty unlikely.

They asked for a list of items that I liked and as I looked through the catalog, it was hard to narrow it down. All of the clothes--for babies, boys, and girls were classic and simple but modern and looked practical, comfortable and stylish. I loved the baby boy stuff in particular, since cool clothes that are baby appropriate is a challenging find for boys.

When the clothing arrived, I was really impressed. I could find a million ways to tell you that it was fine if it was just is really nice. The materials were soft but durable and everything was constructed beautifully. Mr. Ashley saw the items hanging over a chair and asked where they came from, seeming suspicious. I explained and he said, "Those look really expensive. Are you sure you didn't buy them?" Nope, but little does he know, I'm going to buy more and they aren't really expensive.

Both items passed the test of being left to cool in the dryer and the wrinkles fell out immediately (they went from wrinkled in the cold dryer to photos with no fluffing or intervention). Excuse the cell phone pics, I'm an incredibly lazy person and I feel bad about it:

  I like how the collar can be worn either way. The "Hang Loose" jacket also has pockets on the inside.

 little kid loves cargo pockets but I think they always end up looking messy. I like these, though.

Most importantly, the boys loved the clothes. little kid refuses to wear cotton or athletic shorts to school but deemed these "fancy" enough for school or home. He looks adorable in them, I love the length and plan on buying more of the "At Ease" shorts because they're so versatile.

So this worked out awesome for me, but just as nice, it's going to work out nicely for one of you too because Peekaboo Beans is offering a $50 gift certificate for a giveaway! And they weren't full of hot air with their Lululemon-like claims, I guess one of the founders of Lululemon is an investor and is on their Board of Directors and the clothes are so nice I would've made the comparison without that additional information.

You can look through their Fall catalog or the website linked above. Enter to win the giveaway below--rafflecopter is easy. You can win another entry by tweeting about the contest if you're into that sort of thing (and if you are, you better follow me @ashleyfrankly because I swear everyone on twitter hates me):

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Cat's Meow

All in all, we are in kitty paradise over here.

Calvin can barely move without being smothered in kisses or having his preciousness exclaimed over. Dom loves to be stroked and will (briefly) tolerate a hug. I'm so glad we got two--a crazy cat lady needs more than one and their personalities are so different.

We all still miss Pearl. little kid frequently asks about when we will get her ashes and says he just misses her and wants them. Tonight Big Kid cried at bed time, breaking down and sobbing, "My best friend is dead and now I have none. I have to sleep alone forever," which killed me. Unfortunately, the kitties do what they want and if they do sleep in the boys' room, they like little kid's bed. It's kind of a problem.

As much as I love holding the new kitties, sometimes I worry that they are making me forget how she felt. Sometimes I lie still and try to make myself remember how light she was in my arms or how it felt when she purred or the way she always smelled nice despite having questionable hygiene. In the morning Calvin wakes me by chewing on my face or being suspiciously absent and obviously up to trouble, and it's wonderful, but not quite the same as being loved awake each day. Especially at 5:30am.

We love the kitties. Overall we're happy (sometimes I sit for hours with a purring cat on each side of me, so warm and glad that I could explode) but we're also still sad. At least now we have hope...and a lot more to keep up with.

And this week we'll start talking about things that aren't cats, I promise. I am a little worried that anyone who has recently encountered me on instagram or twitter thinks I exclusively post about cats.