Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Year in Review

My Facebook year in review was like a dark comedy. I knew I wouldn't share it -- I didn't even want to see it, but Facebook was bound and determined to force me to acknowledge their creation. However, once I saw how amusingly morbid it was, I kind of wanted to share it but feared my friends wouldn't see the humor since they love me.

Hey guys!

It was a great year, thanks for being part of it!! 
Remember when my dog died? Remember when my dad died? Remember when my grandpa died? Remember my vacation? (cue animated streamers)

Come on. That's funny in an awful way.

I read a few articles about people who were saddened by their year in review videos and although I know how they feel, I also know when you've had a year like that everything in the whole wide world is a trigger anyway. It's not Facebook's fault.

The other day in Target, I saw a wine called "You Handsome Devil" which reminded me of something my dad used to say (about himself), and my face crumpled without warning into ugly, uncontrolled crying right there in the wine aisle on Christmas Eve, much to the bewilderment of (myself and) the wine re-stocking guy who tentatively offered his assistance in choosing a pinot grigio.

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night thinking, "I will go crazy if I have to think of any of it for even one more second." Then I try to figure out if I'm already crazy.

Every quiet moment is spent in mental creation of my own year in review, every scene from every angle revisited again and again; half documentary, half horror film. So I spend a lot of my time leaving no room for quiet moments, which is probably why my brain likes to wake up in the middle of the night to say, "Hey, remember that horrible thing you were trying not to think about earlier? We could do it now!"

My year has traumatized me. Without a doubt, it was objectively the worst year of my life. I also had additional heartache left untold here since not every story is solely mine to tell, so suffice it to say, 2014 can SUCK IT. SUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK IT. Suck it. Suck it. Suck it. God, I'm glad to see it go even if I feel like it's stealing a piece of me with it. I will never be the same again, and that is exhilarating and terrifying.

And despite all above evidence to the contrary, I also had a pretty good year.

(I sound even crazier than before, don't I? Now you're concerned.)

I like who I am, even if I don't like what I've gone through. I love what I do, even if it doesn't always ever pay the bills. I have incredible friends and people around me, even if I am not always an incredible friend and person back. I'm happy, even though I'm sad. I'm a great mom, even though I wish I was better. I know things that I am fortunate to know, even if I would rather not know. I feel relief that with the storms brewing and the wind whipping and the rain falling, I have kept a tiny little flame going somewhere and the fact that it's still lit proves that everything will be alright. Ish.

Goddamn Facebook for not making a movie about all of that.

No worries, though. Next year my year in review video will be awesome.

(But I still won't share it because they're boring.)

May we all have 2015s worthy of the Facebook algorithm's artificial excitement. Thanks for being part of it!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas by Netflix

Every Christmas I start the season full of plans of things I want to make sure we do. Christmas tree lightings, city parades, light displays, Santa meet and greets, and this ridiculous thing to make up for the lack of cold weather in Florida where they shoot soap from streetlights downtown and pretend it's snow.

Then I find that I am too busy, too tired, or remember that we all hate stuff like this. Then I feel guilty for being too busy, too tired, or hating that stuff.

(But seriously, our parade sucks and the only fun part of the soap snow is watching kids try to catch it on their tongues.)

So this year we've kept it festive in our favorite way, which involves snuggling on the couch dressed like slobs. Here's what we've been watching on Netflix:

Scrooged: I love Bill Murray and have fond memories of watching this when I was young. I didn't even bother to check the rating and was surprised by a quick nip slip and some questionable content. I later found out it was PG-13. Still worth it.

Christmas with the Kranks: I read this book a long time ago, but I think it was called something else then. I thought it would be lame because I knew what would happen and because Tim Allen is a little lame but this is my favorite holiday movie of the year. There's a chance that's because I've seen every other one 8 trillion times but I really think this was entertaining and funny. I also love the idea of canceling Christmas and going on a cruise, which might have influenced my interest.

Nightmare Before Christmas: I have seen it a million times and I don't think it will ever get old. We have the DVD and I loved watching the behind the scenes details about how they made it; I think no matter how much technology/animation changes, I will forever be amazed by this movie.

The Muppet Christmas Carol: Big Kid loves the Muppets, Sesame Street and anything Jim Henson and I love that about him. This was a fun follow-up to Scrooged, even though it lacked nipples and required near constant commentary from him. 

So, see? We've been super busy this holiday season, it's been hard to cram it all in, but we manage. In related news, I skipped sending out Christmas cards and I don't even feel bad because I've been so busy celebrating Christmas that I just couldn't get to it, and I'm sure everyone will understand.

Isn't that the real reason for the season? Not to wear pants more often than necessary? Or am I mixing up my life goals and reasons for seasons again?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


A few weeks ago I got an email from someone who disagreed with me and instead of being all, "YOU ARE NOT THE BOSS OF ME AND WHAT DO YOU KNOW ANYWAY?!?" I was all, "You know what? You are absolutely correct. Thanks for reaching out and bringing this to my awareness, I'm going to take your advice," like a real, live grown-up who didn't even make up any derogatory names for the other person.

He wrote to tell me he didn't like that the header said "I know why hamsters eat their young" and didn't think it fit anymore now that the kids are older, and he was 100% right.

When my kids were babies and toddlers, I secretly, and sometimes not so secretly, wondered why the hell people thought motherhood was so great. Yes, I loved my kids with all of my heart but I felt like if there had been an actual certification required in order to become a parent that I wouldn't have passed. I love other people abundantly but I'm not always great about doing for others, and holy crap does it take a lot of doing. And yeah, logically you know that going in but the reality still managed to surprise me. There was also some initial panic about where "I" had gone, that I was 100% the mother of these people now and wasn't sure if there was any old Ashley left anymore. It was lonely and yet I was never alone.

(NEVER ALONE. NEVER. NEVER. EVER. Not even to poop. Not even then.)

As I get older, I have just come to realize I'm not a baby/toddler person. Friends announce pregnancies and I think, "Oh man!" before remembering congratulations are in order. People ask if I want to hold their baby and I want to reply, "Do you need me to?" because otherwise I'm good with just watching them do it. Parents on Facebook proudly share first steps and I can only think, "Your life's about to get so much more exhausting." Don't get me started on three year olds. Biggest jerks in the world.

But goodness do I love ages 4.5 and up. I love kids (unless they're knocking on my door at 8:30am on a Sunday to ask if my son can come play, but who could love kids like that?) I love their perspective on the world and the innate creativity that goes hand in hand with imagination. My sons are such cool people and I enjoy every ounce of that now. I am never alone even when I am, because I have them and because they are a part of me, and that's the part of motherhood that makes cleaning up pukefests worth it.

I'm so glad new mom me didn't have access to a time machine so she could urge herself to think long and hard about this whole motherhood thing. I wish current mom me could go back in time with a case of wine and some reassurance to that version of me that had a 3-year-old and a newborn. Poor her!

I know exactly why hamsters eat their young, and I know why humans don't.

So long story short, I changed the header and I'm glad someone pointed out that I'm wrong.

(But let's not make a habit of it.)

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Great Elf on the Shelf Break-Up

The elf on the shelf--it began easily enough: a flurry of  imagination and excitement, visions of a new avenue to pave with fond family memories. And so year after year, this delightful little visitor would show up to make mirth, merriment and messes in my home during the busiest of seasons. His antics were great fun, and all of the labor that went into his amusing tableaus was absolutely worth the joy it brought.

Eventually, it was less fun though.

So many December nights of sleep interrupted with a start--had he moved? What would he do next? Did he have to?

So many tired mornings where his creativity was awarded with a cursory glance and barely a comment before the day began.

So many craft supplies. Glitter can kiss my ass, for real, yo.

And so this year, when thinking of Christmas, Harold Hubert Piggybottom was no longer a tradition that made me light up with holiday excitement. At all. There was some mention of his possible arrival from my 8-year-old and I listened with trepidation to these requests, and tried to gauge their sincerity. My 11-year-old was media blackout-style quiet at any mention of Santa or elves, his silence saying more than words could.

I wondered if the ELFS program was a good idea. I wondered if we could un-enroll. I wondered if our Christmas tradition had the potential to ruin Christmas for one of us. I wondered if Santa answered adult wishes, namely the one where he doesn't send a miniature terrorist to my home to create more work for me every single night. I wondered so many things because that is what my brain does, wonders and wonders and wonders.

And then Christmas magic happened.

We arrived home from having after school ice cream to find a package on our doorstep.

 Both kids started cheering that it must be Harold, since the package was so festive and had his name on it, and I was really nervous for what was to come next.

Once the sack was opened, a balloon floated out with a scroll tied to its end. The scroll said:

Season's greetings! For years now, you have been outstanding members of the E.L.F.S (Elf Live-in Foster Service) program: always willing to share your home, accepting and patient even with one of our more challenging elves, and a shining example of good behavior to Harold Hubert Piggybottom, aforementioned challenging elf. We are so fortunate to have children like you welcoming the magic of Christmas in such an intrusive, and often messy, way. We have learned so much about your family, culture, and the lives of modern children through your participation--and, let's face it, we got a lot done without Harold around. If you think he's challenging for a few weeks, imagine what we deal with the rest of the year! You have been amazing hosts.
 Anyway, we are honoured and excited to announce that this year marks a very special occasion for the McCann brothers. Due to your kindness, diligence, respect for others, and believing natures, you have both been awarded an honorary elfship and have graduated from the ELFS program. What does this mean, you ask?

Well, in order to qualify, nominees had to be in the top 5% of children for good behavior this year. That's WORLDWIDE! You scored in the 96.7 percentile collectively, which is extraordinary. Congratulations on your secured places on the nice list!

(Please open the enclosed gifts before continuing.)

At this point they paused and opened the boxes.

And found silver coins nestled within (within Easter grass, which is STRICTLY forbidden in this house, even more so than glitter. Seriously, Santa?).

There was some hushed awe as they flipped them over in their hands and marveled at the weight. I continued reading:
 These silver coins are tokens from Saint Nicholas himself (currently known as Santa Claus--modern times forced an image re-branding). In the days of olde, he used to leave tokens like these in the shoes of children to spread the spirit of magic, joy, and love every Christmas Eve. Your job as honorary elves is to continue to practice the spirit of kindness and giving to spread peace on earth. It is essential that the children on the good list help establish our future through their strong leadership skills and we know the McCann brothers are up to the job.

(Yes, it's real silver. Try not to pawn the spirit of Christmas, though, okay? Santa hates seeing these things on ebay.)

Your honorary elf names are Tippy Tannerick Trueluck and Chip Chaseton Chariot. We don't expect you to put that on your driver's license or anything; it's a designation similar to when the Queen of England knights rock stars, and does not afford you lodging or employment at the North Pole.

I'm sure you are wondering what this means for your friend Harold Hubert. Well, we are also proud to announce that other than an "accidental" incident with a silly string machine (please note: we are no longer gifting silly string or any variation thereof due to its high flammability rating), his behavior has been exemplary. He has been nominated as community leader and will be the co-pilot for this year's present drop, which is a great honor. His excitement is infectious, we are all hopeful and optimistic about his new role!

Harold loves you both and has vowed to verify your names on the nice list each year, but I have to confess that as of now, Harold isn't allowed near the lists so I'm not sure why he promised that. But maybe one day, right? (Note to self: double check the security of the list vault.)

One last thing, your confidentiality in this matter is of the utmost importance. If other children knew about this honor, their behavior may be influenced for the sake of a prize which is not true niceness, so we ask that you not share this exciting news with your classmates or online. You may tell adults, as most have lost their magic and may not believe you anyway, which is an unfortunate symptom of growing up. As honorary elves, we know that you will become the type of adults who help keep magic alive.

Thank you for inviting us into your delightful home. Please continue to make life magical. Harold Hubert Piggybottom will always live on in your hearts and will be watching...from a safe distance. Have the merriest of Christmases, this year and always.
"Wow," I concluded. "This is insane, I've never heard of anything like it. The top 5%? Wow, you guys, congratulations. That silver coin is amazing."

"I'm pawning mine on eBay," Big Kid stated, as I gave him a look he ignored.

"Dude, this is a collectible. You sell it on eBay and you'll get the value of the silver but if you hold on to this thing, bro, it's gonna be worth a ton of cash some day. I wonder when our elf is coming?" little kid said.

My heart sunk a bit. I thought the message had been clear. "Uh, I don't think an elf is coming," I picked up the scroll again. "It says you've graduated, I think that indicates that you've moved beyond needing an elf--"

"Well, that's sad." His face fell.

"But you got the silver," I reminded him.

"Yes!!" His smile returned. "Now I will get silver every year, probably with a different design on it. That's a pretty good deal."

"Well, I don't know. I'm not sure you get the silver every year."

"Oh, I'm sure that I do. It's like a special club. Where you get silver every year."

"Hmm." Okay, I reminded myself, it's a small price to pay.

"I'll sell mine on eBay every year," Big Kid said again.

"Then I bet you won't get more than one because it said not to sell them on eBay," I said, with a hard edge in my voice. He smirked at me.

"Now I KNOW Santa is real because there is no way parents could get their hands on a collectible like this," little kid said with wonder in his voice, turning the coin over in his hand again before shining it on his shirt. "It's going to be so hard not to tell the other kids but I don't think we should, bro. But I don't think anyone in my class is in the club, because they would've told me. Mom, can I write Santa a thank you note?"

I told him he could. I wanted to write him one as well.

It said:  

Neither child liked their honorary elf name. The silver has been mentioned a few times since the arrival of the package, but the elf has not.
And that's how we broke up with our elf on the shelf. Our time with Harold was magical and I don't regret it--I'm just happy the relationship ended before the magic did.

Click here to read more about our life with Harold Hubert Piggybottom.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Me for the Holidays

Is it too early to drag the Christmas tree to the curb?

What if I haven't decorated it yet?

I kind of hope it will catch on fire but, clearly, it would need to be outside for that to work out well.

Could someone just wake me up in April?

(I was originally going to write February but decided that was too soon.)

Maybe Christmas every single year is just too much.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Tiny Farm Co. Winner

So, I thought for sure Rafflecopter would automatically update to tell you guys who the winner was, because it did that in the past and I didn't love that at the time, but I was counting on it this time.

It didn't do it this time. SORRY.

I'd love to blame them but it is more than likely entirely my fault.

The winner was Autumn and I will email her so she can start smelling delicious ASAP.

A huge thanks to The Tiny Farm Co. for the awesome stuff, their patience with me, and for enticing me to shower often. Everyone appreciates it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Tiny Farm Co. Giveaway

Good news!! Someone wants to give you guys something!

Actually, people want to give you things frequently. But I don't know if you like giveaways and all of the emails and proposals are overwhelming (and some of them are obnoxious--some day I'm going to start giving PR people my log-in info and tell them to manage my email for a day and then they will understand that I'm not just a lazy jerk, even though I am a lazy jerk, but that it is just impossible to even keep up with replying, little less writing posts about each of them.)

But Ashley from The Tiny Farm Co. and I became friends on Instagram and I really liked her. She seems like she's into this whole being a good parent thing and homemade/do-it-yourself craftiness but also still a normal person who manages not to be all EVERYONE, LOOK AT ME BEING A GOOD PARENT AND MAKING COOL STUFF about it, which I appreciate. It's like she just really enjoys what she's up to in life, and those are my favorite kind of people.

Anyway, she is living a sweet little farm life and makes all natural soap, lip balm and other stuff. She asked if she could send me a sample and I said yes because at least you can always use soap, unlike the book of vagina photos someone pitched to me earlier this year.

This soap smells so incredibly good, though. At my yoga studio job, we're not supposed to smell like anything (good or bad) and it leaves me smelling so clean and citrus-y, with a hint of the good type of earthiness, that I feel guilty about it. I love it.

She also sent lip balm and I happen to be a lip balm/gloss connoisseur. I hate when it's sticky or feels thick, and Tiny Farm Co's glides on smoothly and just feels nice and moisturizing instead of like a thin film of questionable substances sitting on top of my lips. I keep it in my purse and use it nine million times a day.

And now you get some too! A lot, actually, because The Tiny Farm Co. is offering you two combo sets--one to keep and one to give! Or if you are a not-as-great friend like me, two to keep! So, one grand prize winner will win two packs of The Tiny Farm Co.'s new combos and two lip balms.

 Warm Winter Pack: Orange, Pomegranate, Orange Patchouli, Vanilla and Oatmeal

Fresh and Clean Pack: Lemongrass, Eucalyptus, Lime and Tea Tree.

Trust me, you're going to wonder if you're getting old and boring to be this excited about soap. When I began to suspect that my husband was using mine, I hid it behind a barrier of shampoo bottles so he couldn't. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway Enter through the rafflecopter widget above. Contest ends Tuesday, December 2nd at midnight and winner will be announced here then.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Smells Like Teen Spirit

"Remind me next week and I'll send you with money to buy some spirit wear," I told Big Kid.

"Honestly, I don't care."

"I know, I feel bad I keep forgetting, though. Just let me know which items you like and we'll get some."

"No. I mean I don't care to own spirit wear."


"I don't really want to give them money so they can advertise on me."

"He has a point!" little kid interjected. "You'd be like one of those...giant movie signs."

"A billboard! Yes. Using kids as walking billboards and getting them to pay you for it. Oh, yeah, let me give you $20 so I can wear a generic t-shirt advertising your name on Fridays. Uh, no thanks."

"Well, it's more to raise money for the school and to show support to your school community."

"I'm not going to wear it in public. I don't need random people in public knowing what school I go to and it's not a cool shirt or anything, it's not like I would look nicer wearing it. What's the point?"

"Okay, no spirit wear then."

Monday, November 24, 2014


Today while little kid and I waited in the parking lot to pick his brother up, I spotted him in the distance.

"There he is! Look at him, just wandering around all absent-mindedly, hair flopping like a muppet. Man, I love him so much!" I said.

"Me too. Who in the world doesn't?" little kid replied with a soft sincerity.

As I was letting the beauty of that sink in, he added, "Hey--don't tell him I said that. Promise you won't."

Sunday, November 23, 2014


"Do you remember when you were little and you were always worried that gravity would cease to exist?" I asked Big Kid.

"No, not really."

"I think you were in first grade. Black holes and no gravity were things you thought about a lot." 

"How would no gravity be a bad thing? It sounds awesome," my 8-year-old asked.

"It would be complete chaos. You'd probably float into the atmosphere and die," Big Kid explained.

"But have you ever imagined hula girls in zero gravity?" he asked.

There was a moment of silence while we all considered that.

"...No, little kid, I haven't. Why would I?" I asked.

"Why wouldn't you is the real question, " he replied.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

With Ease

"So there's this girl in 7th period who keeps touching my hair," Big Kid told me.

"Oh, REALLY? What do you think about that?"

"It's weird. She's weird. People say she's...flirting with me."

"Oh, she's definitely flirting with you. That's not even a maybe. Do you like it?"

"No! Why would I like it?"

"Because flirting can be fun."

"Oh, god, mom. Gross. Gross!! No, I don't like it, she is STALKING me."

"She is not stalking you."

"Would you let some random guy touch your hair?" 

"No. No, I wouldn't. You have a point there. She is coming on strong. Would you like the flirting if it was someone else?"

"I don't even KNOW her. It would be one thing if we were friends or something."

"She probably doesn't know how to become your friend. Her approach is awkward, you're just kind of getting to that age where girls think this is what boys like."

"Well, THIS is not the way. Even if I am getting to the age, I was hoping the world could kind of ease me into it. With ease! Not like this, with her trying to sneakily hold my hand and touch my hair. Then the other day when she did it, someone said, 'Hey, Big Kid, looks like you could have a girlfriend,' and she said, 'I would never!' right away and I wanted to say 'Then WHY ARE YOU TOUCHING MY HAIR all of the time?'"

"Ahh. She was embarrassed that someone called her out on it and got defensive. Maybe just ask her, 'What are you doing?' next time she tries and see what she says. If you don't want her to touch you just say, 'Please don't touch me,' and I bet that will be the end of it."

"I don't know. The Beautiful Day Monster will be back tomorrow and she won't have as many chances since we get yelled at for breathing." 

"Well, that's good, the Beautiful Day Monster will rescue you you from love. What a twist of fate!"

"Can you do me a favor and not talk right now? Like, at all? Every word coming out of your mouth is hurting my head."

"Do you need a doctor, bubby?" little kid asked.

"I need a therapist," he answered.

(I later apologized for not answering like he wanted me to and he forgave me.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Rebellious Teen

"Mom, may I please have a yogurt?" Big Kid asked.

"Yes, and feel free to help yourself to the yogurt without asking. You live here, you know if you're hungry--have a yogurt whenever you want, hon."

"I won't ask! Then I'll eat ALL of the yogurts! I'm a rebellious teen and I'll do what I want, I'll eat 10 yogurts if I want."

"Except that you're not a teen, but whatever."

"As a rebellious teen, I'm rebelling against starting as a teen and starting now. AND I WILL EAT ALL OF YOUR YOGURTS!! I'll eat whatever I want."

"Okay, then."

There was a few moments of silence and some quiet sounds of struggle.



"Could you...could you help me open this yogurt?"

I tried not to let him see me laugh as I opened his yogurt. 

I think I'm safe for now.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Things That Don't Rot

Not long ago, little kid asked me for a box. I asked why he needed it and he claimed he needed it for a new collection. After further questioning, he said that it was a collection of things that don't rot and I decided that was good enough and let him have it.

Days later, he casually asked me for a box of pasta. When I asked why, he said he needed it for his collection. I told him it could be his but we'd keep it in the cabinet.

Eventually I found the collection box in his room with a gallon of water sitting inside of it, and I realized:

he is doomsday prepping.

The two of us got addicted to the Doomsday Preppers on Netflix and watched the entire series together. Although we had many conversations about how some of these people have serious issues, and he seemed to be in complete agreement, he has started trying to hoard food and water and has detailed plans to turn a school bus into what he calls an RV.

He occasionally quizzes me on what I would do in a tornado or bomb threat situation and critiques my answers.

So, future self, if he ends up living in a metal storage container buried in the backyard, this is why. All of those warm fuzzy family evenings of watching people prepare for the imaginary end of the world may result in an overly paranoid hoarder.

But it was fun.

Monday, November 10, 2014


"I almost won 'confetti' today," little kid announced at dinner tonight.

"Oh yeah?" I said, because it buys me about 15 extra seconds of delay.

"Yep. I was in the top 3 of the whole class."

"What's 'confetti'?" I asked.

"You know how she punches the holes in our cards?"

I nodded even though I don't know.

"We win them."

"Right, but what do you win?"

"The holes. The confetti that the holes make."

"The paper circles from the hole punch? That's the prize?"

He nodded excitedly. "Yes! I was so close!"

"So, wait. She punches your cards during the week, for what, good behavior?"

He nodded again.

"And then you win the paper from the holes that were punched?"


"And you like this game? You all hope to win?"

"We LOVE it."

His teacher is a freaking genius.

I don't know how she does it, but, wow. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Hard Boiled

When I was little, I used to love eating egg cups with toast. I decided to re-create that for my kids and discovered that the meal is called "eggs and soldiers"  on the internet, which I knew they would think was adorable, and they did.

Except I hard-boiled the soft boiled eggs by accident.

So they had to have hard boiled eggs and toast for dinner. They played it off really cool because they're nice like that but I felt bad.

At some point, we started talking about "Of Mice and Men" because random Steinbeck happens a lot around here.

"I loved Lenny," Big Kid said. "I really liked the differences in the characters. He is really good at describing things."

"Yeah, he's kind of known for that." I agreed. "It was sad."

"Like eggs and soldiers," he said.

"Okay, I know I messed them up but as sad as 'Of Mice and Men'? Because, really, that was some heavy stuff and I don't think overcooked eggs are THAT bad." I answered.

"No, mom, I said, 'I like the eggs and soldiers.' I'm telling you I liked the meal."

"Oh! I misheard you. Maybe I'm sensitive because they're more like bombs and soldiers this time."

"I think they're great."

I found this on the fridge later that night.

So, I can totally get away with feeding these people hard-boiled eggs and toast as a meal. They love me that much.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

What Would Amy Winehouse Do?

So even though they flat-out refused to be Forrest Gump and Lieutenant Dan so I could be Jenny, Halloween turned out okay-ish after all. little kid was Ash the Pokemon trainer and Big Kid was John Lennon, which was an okay consolation prize after my Forrest Gump dreams were dashed.

Max and I dressed as Dorothy and Toto and sat on the couch pretending kids would come and we would give them candy, while the boys ditched us to trick or treat with the neighbors and their huge group of kids. Kids didn't come, I just ate a ton of candy.

Then I went to an adult Halloween party as Amy Winehouse.

Five minutes after I left the house, I got pulled Amy Winehouse.

"Sir, do you mind if I ask what is going on?" I asked, since I knew for a fact I was going under the speed limit and he was offering no clues.

"You made a very illegal U-turn," he said, because I guess there are degrees of legality when it comes to traffic infractions.

"Seriously? Back there? I honestly didn't realize and I've lived here forever."

"Well, that's alarming, ma'am, it's very clearly marked."

"Hmm. Sorry about that. Okay, well, here's my license, insurance, registration and I think my beach parking permit is still clipped on there...ha ha ha, probably don't need that, just goes to show how long it's been since I've --"

"What are you up to tonight?" he said, staring at me, critically.

"I'm, uh, going to a party. Not, like, a wild party or anything...we're playing Mario Kart? I don't, uh, get out much. Ha ha...ha. I was just..."

"Who are you supposed to be?" He was obviously not amused.

"Amy Winehouse. It's not the best character to get pulled over as, is it?"

"Yeah, could have chosen better."

He ambled back to his car...and sat there for 30 minutes. In that time, I convinced myself he was calling for back up and I was going to jail, despite the fact that I don't think "very illegal U-turns" are even a thing but what the hell could take 30 minutes??

My wig was itchy so I took it off. I decided this WOULD happen the one time I try to leave the house to go have some fun. I felt bad for myself. I wondered if I could survive in jail. I started to cry.

400 years later, he returned, in a jovial mood now. "Amy?"

"No, my name's Ashley." I said, sadly.

"Yeah...but, hey, where's your wig?"

"Oh right. I took it off. I'm not going to be Amy anymore, I'm just going to go home."

"What about the party?"

"I'm not going to go to the party, it's not a good night to go to the party," I sniffled again.

"Oh stop. You're just getting a warning for the u-turn. What would Amy Winehouse do?"

(Amy Winehouse would probably do heroin, but I didn't think that was a good answer.)

He continued, "She would go to the party! You should put your wig back on and...uh...clean yourself up a little and go!"

"Well, thank you for the warning," chin trembling. "I just don't know if I can go to the party."

"Take a minute here, to, you know, get yourself together. Just be safe and go have fun."

I thanked him again and felt immense relief about my warning as he drove away. I decided that I would just feel more sorry for myself if I had to turn around and go back home. I looked in the mirror to re-adjust my wig and realized my thick black liquid eyeliner and mascara had run in dark, crazy streaks down my face just like the real Amy Winehouse.

I laughed out loud and went to the party. (I did clean up first, though, because it was scary crazy and not in a fun way.)

I then told this story all weekend long, making the entire experience worth it.

The next night, I was invited to a Dead Celebrity party (this is a total of two more parties than I'm typically invited to in a year) and the vast majority of women were either Audrey Hepburn or Amy Winehouse, which was hilarious and created instant camaraderie.

I didn't really know anyone there except for the two friends who had invited me, which I thought might be awkward but it was actually awesome. I had a great time and several people that I met said some variation of, "I can't imagine what you look like not dressed like this, I'm afraid I'll never recognize you in public," and I realized that's exactly why I was having so much fun, and I promised them I'd probably never let them recognize me in public since I was having more fun as Amy Winehouse anyway.

So it was a real rock star weekend in that exciting and yet still pathetic kind of way, minus the drugs or money or fame. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Anti-Big Business Boy on Halloween

Big Kid had to write a poem about Halloween for Language Arts. It was hilariously Big Kid-like:


A long time ago, on October thirty-first,
People believed that the spooks would come and haunt the earth!
So people put on costumes, to confuse these fears,
but Halloween has certainly changed over the years!
Nowadays, this holiday is simply a device,
For corporate businesses to sell cheap merchandise!
Half of the costumes you see aren’t even scary!
With costumes such as pirates, princesses and fairies!
Although Halloween has changed, that’s not a bad thing, see,
We still get to enjoy sweets and festivities!
Halloween’s a time of joy, whereas it used to be controlled by fear,
So Halloween’s here to stay, year after year.

I shared it on my personal Facebook where it got a lot of attention and positive comments, so I told him about that the next day.

"Really?" he said, looking perplexed. "Huh. Imagine if they read something I actually wanted to do." 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

That Guy

Big Kid is active on some video game-related wiki. I still don't know what it actually is, but I checked it out once and it seemed innocent enough. His people are there, so whatever.

"The other day I asked on the wiki if people considered me a friend," he told me.

Since I know that people on the internet are complete and total assholes (except for you guys), particularly in the forum-type format, I was a little nervous as to what was coming next.

"Yeah. How did that go?"

"It went really well," he then went on to tell me about all of the people and what they said. It seemed positive. (I hear A LOT about this wiki, and I tune a lot of it out for my own mental well-being.)

"Huh. Well, that's good. You know, sometimes we just assume people don't like us and then, ironically, we close ourselves off and become harder to like. I think it's best to just operate on the assumption that people like you because why wouldn't they? You're awesome."

"Yeah, I know what you mean. I was just wondering if they think of me as an actual friend, or more like that guy that sits by your wife in yoga class."

"The guy that sits by your wife in yoga class?" I asked with a laugh.

"Yeah, you know, the guy that everyone thinks is weird but you kind of have to put up with because he's not technically doing anything wrong? No one wants to be that guy."

"Well, congrats on not being that guy."  (I have no idea where he gets this stuff. I swear no one in this family complains about guys sitting next to me in yoga.)

"I'll be honest, it feels pretty good." 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Being a Not Really

So I mentioned in the last post that I've been battling the Beautiful Day Monster. I broke a molar earlier in the week and it hurts and I'm not sure how I'm going to be able to get it fixed and that's about the best thing that happened this week, if that gives you any indication of how things are going. Life's just kind of a jerk like that. 

I'm also in the process of trying to re-commit to my yoga practice. I go through phases of convincing myself I don't want to do yoga and don't have to do yoga, but like medicine, I know I need it even if it doesn't always give me a good buzz.

I also just love being at the yoga studio. I work there and am probably one of the few people to truly miss work while on vacation because I love my co-workers and friends and the atmosphere so much. When I walk in the door, I feel the same way most people do when they arrive home after a long trip -- happy and relieved and comfortable to be there.

And those excellent friends I have made gently and firmly suggest I meet them for yoga because they know I need it, and I do and I feel better.

But that doesn't mean I'm not an asshole about it. Our studio's methodology is all about "being a yes" and today I was being a solid "not really."  This is what I was up to this morning:

1. Decided I didn't want to practice on my own mat, used a spare.
2. Decided I was slippery on the spare, left the room to borrow a non-slip towel.
3. Decided the towel smelled like yoga teacher training and wondered why.
4. Decided the apple I ate for breakfast was too big and wondered if my stomach might start to hurt.
5. Decided I was too hot and yes, my stomach hurt.
6. Decided maybe I should plan an escape since I had convinced myself my stomach hurt.
7. Decided that wouldn't work since I knew 75% of people in the building.
8. Decided I needed to floss and wondered if I should go do that instead of chair pose.
9. Decided I was not going to do the next pose no matter what the teacher said (at least 40 times).
10. Decided to do the next pose but only because I was in the front row.
11. Decided the girl behind me was too pretty and looked too amazing in her outfit.
12. Decided I'm never doing crescent lunge ever again.
13. Decided to do crescent lunge again.
14. Decided to take up Scuba diving.
15. Decided to make "why are we doing this?" faces at my friend who made me do it.
16. Decided to strain my eyes to see the thermostat.
17. Decided to lean far enough forward to see the clock.
18. Decided 75 minutes was just way too long.
19. Decided I would take A LOT of time getting into each pose so I'd have to do less time for each.
20. Decided not to do abs, even when the teacher (a friend) said, "Core is important. Even if we don't want to do it, we should...Ashley!"
21. Decided I couldn't breathe normally and wondered if I was having an asthma or anxiety attack.
22. Decided I was over-obsessing about the breathing because I wanted to not do things. 
23. Decided I would go ahead and do things. Kind of half-assed, but still.

And then it was time for savasana (AKA lying down quietly at the end) and I decided once again that I do actually like yoga. Which makes me suspect that I really just like lying down quietly but whatever, at least I do something well.

And that's how I yoga.

If you were picturing strength, serenity and grace, you were probably picturing that girl behind me.

But I do it anyway, sometimes, and that's got to count for something.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Beautiful Day Monster

Big Kid has a teacher in school who sounds like a bit of a jerk. He's always on their case for bizarre reasons, like scratching an itch or getting up from their chair in a way he dislikes. He has Big Kid feeling so on edge and self-conscious that he often comes home feeling stressed, even if it's other people being picked on. There's not a lot I can do about it because there's no way to word that I don't like the way this guy doesn't like things so I just explain that dealing with jerks is a part of life, to scratch his itches freely regardless of consequences and to let this guy's drama roll off his back.

Today he got in the car and said that this teacher reminds him of a Sesame Street skit where the Beautiful Day Monster followed a little girl around and ruined everything. If she said, "At least it's not raining!" then the Beautiful Day Monster would make it rain.

I so get that. I'm pretty sure the entire universe is my Beautiful Day Monster lately. I have decided that I was probably Hitler in a past life to deserve the week I've had -- and it's only Wednesday.

I can't even get into it all here because it's boring and it would take too long. I've considered therapy so I could demand a captive audience but I guess those people want money to sit there and listen to me and, frankly, I don't blame them for charging prices I can't afford since I wouldn't want to hear it either.

So there's no real point to this other than to say that even if you do the hard work and shift your perspective and keep on keeping on and kick, kick, kick and all of that other positivity jazz, sometimes the Beautiful Day Monster is waiting for you regardless.

And maybe that's not your fault.

(Unless you were Hitler in a past life and then you're just screwed.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Yoga Monster

"Mom, take a picture of me doing yoga on this rock!" 

"Mom, take a picture of me doing zen over here by the river!" 

I have no idea why he calls meditation "doing zen" but it and that little hand mudra he has going are adorable. I'm crediting his P.E. teacher since I don't say or do either, but anyone who follows me on Instagram will recognize the yoga pose selfie influence as entirely my fault. Sorry, not sorry.

I'm not proud of my onboxious Instagram behavior, but I also don't care since it's fun. Twitter can seriously suck it now that I've found Instagram.

"Mom, what if we do a series on Instagram where we do yoga poses together?" he suggested during a walk down a waterfall.

"I  would love that SO MUCH!" I replied, "You'll have to start going to yoga classes with me. I think you'll like my friend, Ma--"

"Oh no. No way. I'm thinking I'll just do the type of yoga where you take pictures of yourself doing yoga for Facebook and Instagram."

"Uh, that's not yoga."

"Who are you to say it's not yoga?"

"Well, it's not a type of yoga. Not on purpose. That's not intentionally a thing -- I'm sure most of those people have actual yoga practices."

"Yeah, well I do yoga in P.E. class every day. So I'm ready for Instagram."

I guess he has a point. And technically, he may be doing more yoga than I am lately.

(I'll do a vacation wrap-up post at some point, maybe. We were running the risk of me doing that weird thing where I avoid you all entirely because I have so much to say and nowhere to start. So now we have started.)

Thursday, October 16, 2014


Other than no signal anywhere there's no wi-fi, I really like the mountains!

But seriously, how do these people use their phones? Do their phones work? I'm all for no phone but with my phone also being my internet machine, it loses its charm quickly.

We spend our days hiking and playing and picnicking in scenic areas and our nights lying around the fire, watching movies and playing board games.

Cabin nights. Photo by Big Kid.

Luckily, my Netflix love affair has been able to continue uninterrupted up here -- I'm in the middle of Doomsday Preppers and, as a result, feel torn between pushing hard for more mental health services in this country or buying my own hazmat suit for home. I may or may not be scouting for "bug out" locations up here in these hills and thinking about buying a school bus to live in (and by "may or may not" I mean definitely not, but I think the preppers would approve of this general area.)

With Ebola all over the news, and apparently airplanes, I'm feeling extra thankful that we're too poor to fly. In the car the other day I was telling Mr. Ashley about the second nurse to be diagnosed.

"This is really scary," he said.

"It is. I did read a comment somewhere though that pointed out that more Americans have been dumped by Taylor Swift than have died from Ebola."

"I just think it's about to become a huge problem."

"What? Americans being dumped by Taylor Swift? That would be a problem, imagine all of the passive aggressive break-up songs," Big Kid piped up from the back.

Yes. Scary stuff. 

I might need ear plugs to go with my hazmat suit.

FYI--I'm now a member of the Netflix Stream Team. This changes absolutely nothing but in the interest of transparency, I feel the need to disclose that we'll be hearing even more about my Netflix viewing habits than usual. I am not compensated for my opinions, I am allowed to say whatever I want, and I will still loudly complain about whatever I would like. Basically I'm just bragging that I think they like me as much as I like them.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fall Y'all

I'm here in the mountains and it's really fall. I barely need a hoodie but I did wear one once when I was up near the clouds and it was chilly for a Florida girl. (Probably 68ish).

It's pouring now and I'm fine with that because our cabin has a tin roof and it sounds lovely, and maybe it will push in more hoodie weather and make the waterfalls more dramatic.

I really like fall. I've seen fall leaves before but I guess not in a way where I was truly out in nature. I knew the leaves would change colors and mountains and hills would be vibrant but I hadn't counted on how the leaves flutter down and swirl and twirl so gracefully before hitting the ground and how I can be out in the middle of that. That is awesome. I don't even care that it's making my car a mess, my dirty car looks beautiful.

I also LOVE streams. Creeks, streams, small rivers, waterfalls, large puddles, bath tubs -- I guess it's more accurate to say I love water and I am love, love, loving having water sources I don't have at home. The boys immediately went to work creating two dams in the stream in front of the cabin, creating a wide, clear pool and small waterfalls like really cute beavers that don't usually bite.

We hiked up to Long Creek Falls yesterday and spent a long time staring into the clear running water dozens of feet away from the actual attraction, combing through little rocks and flipping over big ones to see if any salamanders were hiding.

We could've done it for hours, we had so much fun.

And as always, the kids have been cracking me up but my phone with its hastily thumb-typed (and therefore barely legible) reminders of things to tell you about is all the way downstairs and like hell if I'm going where I can't hear the rain. So we'll do that later.

But probably not too soon.

Friday, October 10, 2014

God's Plan

I've been trying to post every day (for like 3 whole days now) but sometimes I'm tired and don't have anything to post about. Like today. So here is something someone else made that made me laugh:

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Deep Thoughts by little kid

"One thing I noticed today is if you talk about the future, you're going into the future. Each and every second you talk about the future, the future is already happening."

Whoa. It's like hanging out with a little high dude who never has any weed.

In a true "doing things the wrong way" fashion, I already shared this story on a Facebook page that I never told any of you that I had. There's like 25 of us that hang out there, wondering whether or not we should tell the rest of you because then I will have an obligation to maintain said page and maybe an expectation to self-promote, and write the posts and THEN post them to the Facebook page, and I hate that idea. 

We're stuck in a continuous crisis of this being my casual life story (like a diary I keep stupidly leaving out for you to read) and ongoing outside pressure to treat it as something more than a life story, but we do what we want. We just never know what we want.

But if you want to go there and wonder whether or not we should all commit to socializing with each other, it is an option and easy to find. And sometimes I share stuff and sometimes I don't, just like here. 

I'm trying though, everywhere, all the time.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Serial Podcast Listener

When we first moved into this house, Mr. Ashley took a stand and said no television in the bedroom. I've always needed noise to fall asleep to and he's always hated it.

It didn't take long for me to find podcasts.

I'm not trying to be an inconsiderate jerk, it just comes naturally. And also, background noise helps me shush my brain, who is a hyperactive traitor. I make my phone very quiet and put it on my nightstand and I'm sure it's still annoying.

I have a new favorite though and I need other people to listen to it so we can discuss it. Mr. Ashley has made it pretty clear he has no interest in catching up and joining me so you have to.

It's Serial and I think This American Life (another favorite) has something to do with it. It's like a true crime docu-series but it's an objective but human reporter interviewing all of the people who were involved in a murder, 25 years later (or something, I don't really do numbers). Each episode is another slice of the story and as it unfolds, you get to know the characters involved as real people. It's really interesting and authentic. The next episode is Thursday and I am waiting so eagerly.

I also love:
Stuff You Missed in History Class
Radio Lab
Oh No Ross and Carrie
The Moth and Risk (two different shows but similar)
Classic Loveline

and embarrassingly:
My Brother, My Brother and Me. Have I mentioned them here before? Probably so, because every time I mention them to anyone, they do something just incredibly ridiculous the next episode that makes me regret it. In theory, it's an advice show but the advice is awful. It's one of the few things that makes me laugh out loud, though, which is even more disruptive for people trying to sleep.

Mysterious Universe. I don't believe in anything they talk about but I like their voices.

A Skeptic's Guide to the Universe. Same as above (and I realize it's pretty weird to have 3 shows about skeptics on my podcast list and try to claim I'm not that into it.)

There are more on my list but, as you can see, I don't have time to listen to any others on a regular basis.

You can skip everything except for Serial, we have to find out what's going to happen. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Best Things in Life are Beaches and Cats

Just in case you don't follow me on social media (I take that personally, by the way), I feel the need to remind you that I love these cats so much that I wish I could marry both of them.


They do adorable shit like that every single day. When they are like that, I really can't leave them alone. I had to pee when I took this picture, but instead I took 15 photos, buried my face in their bellies, kissed them both dozens of times, and asked Mr. Ashley to confirm that they were the cutest cats on the planet until he asked me to please leave them alone.

They bring out the overexuberant preschooler in me and that's hard to find in adulthood. A small part of me doesn't want to go on vacation because I'll miss them so much. If it was up to me, we would drug them and force them to travel with us. So it's probably a good thing it's not up to me.

I'm over capacity for cat pictures on Instagram this week, so you get them here instead.

(That's why you don't follow me on Instagram, isn't it?)

This morning I went to the beach to eat breakfast and walk off the stress of dealing with lunatics all weekend long.

I read somewhere once that looking out at a horizon releases endorphins and I believe it, sometimes I crave it in a physical way. It's also way more fun than exercise. I felt immediate relief as soon as my feet hit the shore.

Then my breakfast fell into the sand and I laughed but more in the "fuck it, life is funny" way than the mental breakdown type of laughing.

At least I have sand.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Still Alive

I've sold almost $300 worth of random stuff to random strangers and haven't killed or been killed yet so I will be waiting for my trophy. I listed some things on Craigslist at the same time I posted on the yard sale site and Craigslist people definitely win most annoying. I think Facebook yard sale site people were the easiest, in spite of being outstandingly irritating. Then real life garage sale people get second place, with Craigslist people trailing way behind.

In my experience:

1. Yard sale site people win Most Likely to Ask for Insane Shit.
2. Garage sale people Most Likely to Spit at You or Steal Things.
3. Craigslist site people Most Likely to Kidnap and Kill You.

I just started ignoring all of the Craigslist people once I figured out the hierarchy.

I have some other things to get rid of but I'm really just over it at this point and I think it's time to drop it off at Goodwill, and by drop it off at Goodwill, I mean make Mr. Ashley drop it off at Goodwill.

I've been trying to figure fall out because we're headed to the Blue Ridge mountains on Saturday to see it. As someone with minimal seasonal experience, it was embarrassing to message various friends from up north and ask them to explain how this whole leaf changing business goes down but Google refused to offer any promises. I thought I booked at peak season but things are still green and I don't understand how long it takes or why it starts. People feel confident that I will get to wear a hoodie, though, and see at least some colored leaves, so fingers crossed. I'm also going to pick apples at a real live apple orchard like a real live migrant worker. So charming!

We're going with my mom, brother and nephew to get some rest from this crazy year and after all of this stranger interaction, I'm going to really need it. We're also bringing all of our dogs (and the kids) and we're driving, so it might not be so restful after all.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Facebook Yard Sale People

So I was going to have a garage sale.

I know. Anyone who remembers the last few garage sales is probably pretty surprised. Remember that time that lady threw a bag of baby clothes and spit at me? Good times.

While out to dinner with a friend, she expressed her disbelief and reminded me that I have sworn off garage sales, that they make me hate everyone and asked if I forgot. I assured her I had not forgotten.

Well, I lied. Like childbirth, the memory was fuzzy. Less drugs involved, though.

Once I got everything out to price, I decided "fuck that" and switched to online mode, using the drama-filled local yard sale Facebook site as my platform. Ours is so scandalous that both my mom and best friend have been kicked out. Pretty impressive to be removed from a yard sale page, and I say that as someone who once had a 30-day forced "time out" from a parenting site. (Sorry not sorry.)

So anyway, I should've known it was a bad idea. People are just extremely annoying:

Sure, I'll measure that for you. No, it is that big. Well, I don't know why it looks bigger, it's not. I guess I can measure again but I am pretty good with a ruler and feel confident that I've got this one right. I'd love to get it all out again and photograph it next to a measuring tape because you don't seem to trust me. Hmm, it is smaller than you thought. Like I told you. Twice. You're not sure if it will fit in your space, though, because you haven't measured. Okay.

Can you come over and look at it all? You don't know what items you're interested in? You want me to get everything out of the boxes and set it out so you can peruse it at your leisure when you stop by at an unspecified time today? Oh, like a garage sale! Did you miss the part about where I'm not doing a garage sale because I don't want to get everything out of the boxes so you can peruse it at your leisure? I actually stated in the album description that I hate garage sales and wasn't doing one. No.

You like the set of books but you want all of the books? I don't have all of the books. But you want all of the books? Right, I understand. No, I don't have the whole set. You really wanted the complete set. Yeah, I heard you and I'm not a book store and therein lies our problem. I just can't produce more 100-year-old books for less than a dollar a piece and I understand that I have failed you there.

What is the absolute lowest I will do on the home theater system listed for $100? The lowest is $75. Will I take $60? No. I said $75. Do I have speaker wire? No, I don't. Yeah, it's still $75. Sir, I don't speak Spanish, as indicated by the 5 previous messages and will need to continue negotiations in my native tongue. No, it's $75, for real. You will take it for $75? Okay, you can pick it up at noon tomorrow at this parking lot. What time can you pick it up? Noon. 12pm. Tomorrow. Remember?

Yes, I saw that you commented and messaged me three times that you will pick the item up right now but I'm pretty sure you can see the conversation stream indicating that someone else is picking it up in an hour. No, we don't need to talk about it on the phone. No, you didn't comment first. No. Just no.

Will I take a check? Right. Pieces of paper written on by strangers, magic beans, shiny rocks, a goat-- just bring whatever. No. You are sorry but you will be two hours late now because of this policy? And then text me on the way to tell me you don't know the area, don't have GPS and have no idea where you are? Fun.

Will I take less than $10? I'll take $5. Does the toy do anything? No, your kid does the doing, the toy is just inspiration for imagination. You have to think about it? Okay, here's a link to the original $150 lis--oh you do want it? I'm located at this address. Will I meet you ten minutes away from there? No. You don't want the item if I won't? Okay. That's fine. You've thought about it and you want the item now and will come over? Okay. You're five minutes away and realize you're two dollars short? Of course.

You "tough" I "leaved" in a different city? Despite it being a city-oriented website and every single one of my posts including the closest intersection in two places? So you are sorry but you can't pick the items up after all? It's okay, you seem pretty dumb. It probably worked out for the best.

Call you? No.

I also got a message from someone telling me that a lot of people stood her up/backed out on things she was selling, so she was going to back out of an item she was supposed to pick up because she decided to buy something else. So because you know exactly what a pain in the ass everyone is, you're going to be a pain in the ass in the exact same way? Interesting strategy.

Last, but not least, I got a comment and a message from the administrator chastising me for accidentally bumping an item by commenting that it had sold. I was supposed to wait 24 hours and it had only been 20. Oh, the shame. I considered getting banned on purpose to save myself from doing this again in the future.

Has it been easier than a garage sale? Maybe slightly, only because I can send Mr. Ashley to do the actual exchange since I'm ready to stab most of these people in the face with rusty scissors by the time we've finished with online negotiations. 

Friends, please stop me from any future bright ideas like this. The money isn't worth losing my faith in humanity.

(It's your job to remind me of these things because I'm a slow learner.)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Saturday was my birthday.

I am 36.

We went to a Japanese restaurant to celebrate -- the same place we went for my anniversary a few years ago, when one child had a major bathroom incident and the other projectile vomited all over our shared table. We left abruptly (because, really, that's all you can do when a waiter is trying to clean up your child's vomit with a handheld floor sweeper) and it was not a good day.

"I remember this restaurant. Is this the place you took us to on the night you decided to ban us from anniversaries? Because NATURE happened?" Big Kid asked, obviously still pissed.

"Yes. They probably have 'wanted' posters of us up in the kitchen. We only dare return now, years later."

"It wasn't our fault. It's totally unfair we can't come to anniversary dinners."

"Totally unfair I had to live through that. No one better puke tonight."

And no one puked. They loved the dinner show. Big Kid is a total foodie and was awe-struck by the array of food before him. They were wonderful conversationalists and interacted easily with the strangers seated among us (a difficult task even for me.) They were fun to be around. It was a great night.

I took this picture of my little family before we left and when I saw it, I had a sharp intake of breath. Literally. It felt like my heart stopped. THIS is mine. Even with all of my mistakes and regrets and heartaches and bad days, I have all of this:

I am so lucky.

Although I usually cry on every birthday, I didn't this year because life is so good. So freaking hard and impossible to control and it hurts and yet it's so beautiful and amazing and abundant.

I think 36 is going to be okay.

It's got to be better than 35 was, right?

And for the record, despite the successes of Saturday, I'm still not inviting the kids on anniversary dates.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Yes and Yes

"That would be amazeballs," I said to my husband in conversation, in an annoying way on purpose like when I say adorbs.

(Don't worry, I don't do this often. He knows to ignore it completely.)

"Mom, did you just say amazeballs?" little kid asked. I was surprised he had heard me. There's really nothing that rhymes with amazeballs so I had to confess.

"Yes I did. You probably shouldn't say that, though."

"YOU probably shouldn't say that! Amazeballs? Mom, let me give you a clue, you should never use the words 'amaze' and 'balls' together." He used his hands to create categories for the words 'amaze' and 'balls' as he spoke; 'amaze' clearly went here and 'balls' clearly went over there. "Trust me on this one. Amazeballs. You've got to be kidding me, mom."

He's going to repeat it somewhere that will embarrass me horribly, isn't he?

(I'm really screwing up this whole parenting thing, aren't I?)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Scorpion King

"Go to bed, you two, I'm not telling you again!" I heard Mr. Ashley insist. "little kid, were you just trying to show me your butt?"

"No, that was my scorpion."

"Your scorpion??"

"Scorpion pose."

"Oh please. You're not going to show me your butt and then pretend to be a yoga master. Get it into bed."

For the record, this is the closest either child has come to actually doing yoga.

(and scorpion pose would actually be a very difficult way to show your ass, so I haven't taught them very well.)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Book Traitor

"At the rate I'm reading, I might have to make up with the library," I announced while perusing Amazon.

"Are you mad at the library again?" Mr. Ashley asked.

"I never stopped being mad at the library. They're assholes. I'm sick and tired of them oppressing me."

He started to laugh in a way that I didn't like. "So you think this is a library problem and not a you problem?"

"Of course it's not a me problem! This has been going on for YEARS."

"Yes...that's my point. This has been going on for years. So you think this is all the library's fault?"

"I don't think there's any doubt this is their fault since they are the jerks."

Then he laughed so hard he was semi-hyperventilating, in a way that makes me think he's on the library's side in all of this.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Boyhood: the review that wasn't

I saw the movie Boyhood today. A friend suggested a midweek matinee, which seemed as illicit as a visit to a strip club for some reason. When we figured out that the movie was close to 3 hours long, we panicked for a minute over whether or not this would interfere with bus stop time and decided we had to do it anyway and that my kid could go home on the bus with hers to buy us a few additional minutes.

The movie was filmed over the course of 12 years, using the same actors so you actually watch the boy grow up. You also watch him have a very common, kind of sad (fictional) life with normal struggles like divorced parents and dealing with the aftermath of the careless things adults say and do.

There's no real plot, his life is the plot but there's no climax. Despite this and its length, I wasn't especially eager for it to end, even though I don't think it needed to be quite so long. I liked it but I don't exactly know why. It might have been the mom in me, though. I found myself getting emotional at times that seemed odd -- the boy and his dad discussing Star Wars, someone wishing him a happy 15th birthday, him kissing a girl. I kept thinking back to the first version of him that we had seen, the youngest him. It was hard to watch him go through hard things that happen in life, I felt for him like you do a well-defined character in a book.

I also loved the time capsule-like quality to it. They were great with details because they weren't recreating anything. The music was perfect.

But I also recognize that it might have been boring as hell for others. I even found it kind of boring but in an enjoyable kind of way...the luxury seating and long escape from real life might have helped.

So, have I done a good job demonstrating why I'm not a movie reviewer? I liked this movie but I don't know why I liked this movie. I'm glad I saw this movie in a cushy theater but I wouldn't necessarily recommend that others see this movie in a cushy theater.

I had a great day despite all of this confusion, though. I also fully recognize the irony in me enjoying an escape from parenting by watching some other kid grow up for a few hours.

But anyway, we're going to do this whole matinee thing every month, like a book club for lazy people who like to eat popcorn and candy for lunch and sit in comfy chairs in the dark.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Real Life Mermaid

"There's a mermaid tail on the yard sale site for $80, which I think is an excellent investment," I told Mr. Ashley.

"It is absolutely not. No way," Mr. Ashley replied, because his job as full-time fun killer requires him to reply as such.

"Big Kid, what do you think? What if I had a mermaid tail for a bathing suit?" I knew my chances were better with little kid, but he wasn't around. Big Kid is a fan of quirky, though, so I thought there was a slim chance.

"Big Kid, imagine your mom at the beach dressed like a mermaid," Mr. Ashley interrupted.

He didn't even need a moment to think about it. "That would be the worst possible scenario. Sorry, mom, but no."

"Well, I wouldn't wear it at the beach, that would be ridiculous. For lazy rivers and the pool and grottos and such. Maybe short trips to the beach."

"Yeah, no."

And that's how these people killed my dream of becoming a mermaid. 


Last night at homework time there was some controversy over whether or not some homework could or should be saved until morning. Mr. Ashley said no, so it wasn't.

"I can't believe you were going to wait until morning to do the rest of your homework! Good thing you're doing it tonight, you would have been miserable in the morning." Mr. Ashley pointed out.

"I'm miserable now." Big Kid quickly retorted.

I laughed, really hard, which apparently was not all that helpful.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Worth It

"If you mess with me, you will pay the price," little kid told me, as we joked around in the kitchen.

"Oh, trust me, I have PAID the price--my body, my sanity, my freedom, my ability to use the bathroom alone, my money, my quiet, the last bite of all of my desserts AND my beauty."

"You still have your beauty," Big Kid offered when I finished my list.

"You are beautiful," little kid added. "And incredibly offensive. Seriously offensive, mom."

"Aw, you guys were worth the high price. I'd do it all again."

(Not, like, with another baby because I did learn my lesson there but if a time machine took me back to the past, I would have kids again if I could guarantee that they would be these exact same kids.)

"You're still offensive."

"I'm okay with that."

I really only even heard the beautiful part. They think I'm beautiful!

Man, maybe I should have had more kids.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Musical Chairs

little kid just came out of his room looking completely amazed.

"Do you know what I just realized?" he asked, with a look of total wonder on his face and his hands spread in front of him as if he held the world's secrets within them.

"What?" I asked, genuinely curious to know.

"Everything in the world makes music. Everything! If you just touch it right and listen hard all makes music!"


"Yeah! Marbles and chairs and...just everything! It all makes music! You just have to listen for it."

To live in his world!

May we all be so lucky to hear music in the rolling of marbles and the scraping of chairs.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Word Worms

"Today in school we played a game with a gummy worm named Fred and two paperclips and we had to stretch Fred through..." a long story followed. I can't recall it because I wasn't fully listening anymore but I eventually tuned back in, "We did the best and we saved Fred so we got a prize. The prize was a gummy worm!"

"So, you celebrated rescuing the gummy worm by eating his brethren?" asked Big Kid.

"Did you just use the word brethren?" I thought I had misheard.

"Yes, is that weird? I think using a unique word can just make something sound so much better."

"Yeah, no, I don't disagree, that's why I like writing. I'm just impressed."

"It is a good word."

"Yes, it really is, I agree."

"So anyway! I saved Fred and got to eat a gummy worm..." little kid rightfully continued.

"That's awesome. That sounds like a really fun activity for school." I said.

"But it is weird that you celebrated saving a gummy worm by eating a gummy worm."

And it is weird that my 11-year-old can work the word "brethren" into a casual conversation.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Germ Warfare

Now Big Kid is home sick from school so I think it's safe to say that I will never spend another minute in my house alone ever again for the rest of my life. I will never know the sound of complete silence or the joy of wandering around in various states of undress able to watch anything from Lifetime movies to nearly pornographic HBO series while eating ice cream unashamedly for lunch.

My life as an individual is over forever because none of these people can or will go to their places.


It's like I'm going to have to rent a room somewhere or God forbid, get a job that requires shoes, in order to have a place that I belong again.

Get well soon, Big Kid, I need my office back.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Dear little kid,

Eight years! Eight whole years of looking into your sweet face and marveling that you are mine.

I have learned so much through the honor of being your mother. Your carefree love of life, your open mind, your loving heart, your playful nature, your quick sense of humor -- you are a true joy to behold, and the good fortune of having front row seats for the rest of your life is not lost on me.

You are openly affectionate and incredibly clever. You love people and animals, places and things with genuine warmth. You have an uncanny knack for understanding others and recognizing what they need, and a willingness to try to provide it for them.

At your birthday celebration, you were enchanted with a friend's baby. "Isn't she cute?" I asked, as you again reached down for her tiny hand. "She is God," you replied with a small smile on your face. You find the beauty in every small thing, everywhere.

And you bring beauty to so many of our life moments. You are the silly and the sweet that helps cement our family together. We would not be us without you.

Thank you for eight years of every day adventure, my little prince. You may be small, but you are a mighty and magnificent being and I can't wait to see where you take life.

I like you, I love you and I'll always protect you,