Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Me and Max

It turns out that the only animal I've ever been allergic to in my entire life is my sorely needed and desperately loved new best friend.

One hug leaves me covered in huge red hives from my wrists to my armpits that burn and itch and make me want to peel my skin off.

I won't get rid of him, I can't get rid of him, and I won't stop hugging him and I can't stop hugging him so I guess this is my new life.

I want to go outside and shout to the heavens, "YOU WIN, UNIVERSE!! OKAY?!? YOU FREAKING WIN. You are the WINNER and I am the LOSER and if you don't mind, I'd like to just quietly live my little life down here with as little misery as possible since we've already determined that YOU WIN."

Because sometimes it's hard not to take life personally.

But instead I will wear long sleeves and hug my dog and give the universe the finger whenever I think it's not looking.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Name Game

We got a new dog this weekend. I have a lot to say about that--my heart is huge with happiness and I love him so much I can barely let him rest and he doesn't mind because he loves me too. He loves everyone and everything except baths. He really, really, really with all of his heart and soul loves cats, which is unfortunate for the cats. 

While trying to think of a name for our new dog (a very long and opinion-filled process), I suggested Thomas.

"Or Edison," Mr. Ashley added, "We could call him Eddie."

"No! Don't get it start--"I began, knowing what was about to follow.

"Nooooo! Not Edison! Thomas Edison was a terrible man. We're not naming our dog after a terrible human being." Big Kid began, his passion against Thomas Edison one of the constants in life. His class recently took a trip to the Edison-Ford estate and part of our pre-trip prep was me explaining that despite his opinions being valid, this was not the time or place to share his judgments on Edison's character.

"I tried to warn you," I explained to Mr. Ashley.

"Come on, Thomas Edison wasn't a terrible man," Mr. Ashley tried.

"He was too! A selfish, dishonest person who only cared about money!! Did you know that he told Tesla that he would give him a one million dollar bonus if he could fix his invention? Then when Tesla did it, Edison told him he didn't understand American humor and never paid! Tesla died PENNILESS AND ALONE, eating milk and crackers and being delusional about pigeons while we all act like Edison is some great guy."


"He had a pigeon fetish." 

"A pigeon...fetish? Obsession might be the better word there. Let's not use 'fetish' anymore." I said. "So, basically, he was like the Mike Tyson of inventing."

"Yes, he was a really good inventor, but Thomas Edison was a greedy, selfish, terrible person."

"Okay,  let's not name him Edison, then."

Big Kid voted for Henson (after Jim).
I voted for Atlas or Wilson.
Mr. Ashley liked Dave.
little kid liked none of the above.

We all liked Max.

Meet my new best friend, Maxwell Lewis:

 He makes life good!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Parenting Fail # 31,596

In the car today, we pulled up right next to an accident at a stoplight. The cars were being loaded onto a tow truck and the spilled gas or oil or whatever comes out of a car was being covered with something like sand. It suddenly smelled horrendous.

"What the heck is that stuff that would make it smell so bad? That's really bad, our windows are up and everything," I remarked.

"That's little kid's feet, he just took his shoes off," Big Kid answered.

I thought he was joking at first because it was so amazingly bad that my mind couldn't comprehend that it could come from one of my sweet children. He wears Sanuks with no socks, not a good combination, I guess, despite looking cute. "No!" I insisted. "little kid, are your shoes off?"

"Yes," he said sheepishly.

"Wow!! Put them back on RIGHT NOW. I am not even kidding. Those shoes need to go straight into a fire when we get home."

"They're not that bad!" He said.

"They are! It is horrible, like, maybe the worst thing I've ever smelled. Those feet could gag a maggot, dude, for real." I told him.

"What do they smell like?" He asked. Because, what? He couldn't smell them? Is that even possible? I don't think it is.

While I was trying to think of a good comparison, Big Kid piped up. "Like Satan's anus," he said, chillingly casual.

It was a damn good comparison but I was shocked to hear him say that.

"Big Kid!! You can NOT say that!"

"Really? Why can't I say that? It's a body part." He was genuinely surprised at my objection.

"Satan's anus," little kid tried out.

"LITTLE KID! For real, you just heard me say he can't say that, you know you can't say that. In a minute people will be grounded from the computer, I'm not even kidding."

"Mom, we should be able to say it. There's even a planet named after the anus. You know -- Uranus?" little kid contributed.

I was having a hard time keeping it together by now because I was both upset and on the verge of cracking up.

Big Kid stepped in again. "It's not named after her anus or anyone's anus and the proper pronunciation is now like Urine-ness. Which just sounds like urine, so I am not sure it's any better."

"I'm still going to say Uranus like your-anus. You can't say we can't say Uranus, mom."

"She said we can't say 'Satan's anus.' That's the one that's not allowed, right, mom?"

"Right." I really just wanted to go back to listening to the radio by then.

So, I'd say we could add that one to the list of parenting fails.

Thursday, April 24, 2014


I've got nothing. NOTHING. Not even an excuse. Writer's block is a fickle bitch like that. It's not that I don't want to write...I always want to write. It's that sometimes, for no good reason at all, my brain acts like a petulant preschooler and stands in the corner with its hands pressed over its ears and shouts "NO! YOU CAN'T MAKE ME!" every time I suggest that maybe we should.

You guys are forgiving, luckily, but I can't exactly email my editor with, "Sorry about your deadline! My brain just didn't really feel like it this week." 

So please pray to God that my kids do something funny or endearing soon. This is really their fault, isn't it? I totally should have had another kid, I feel like these two are getting stale.

In the meantime, read something I wrote elsewhere. Because I've got nothing.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

I'm the Friend

Guys, I've had a mini-epiphany this week about how I am "that" annoying person on social media lately.



Ugh. Yoga and having two cats instead of just one has compounded the problem.

On Facebook, I am THE annoying yoga friend (to everyone other than my yoga friends, who must have more annoying yoga friends than me because I'm not that bad). Everyone has one and I'm the one for many of my friends. I do not want to be but since I work there and my friends are there and I'm there a lot, it comes up a lot. I'm sure it's boring.

On Instagram, I am THE crazy cat lady. Cats, the beach, the occasional kid pic--that's it. Ever. Often. I have to make deals with myself regarding how often is acceptable to post the cats and I really only post the beach or kids so I can get back to the cats. I probably take a photo each day but I try to limit myself on sharing. I also try not to ever harass my Facebook friends with the cats, because they already have to deal with the yoga.

On Twitter, I am THE boring mom who thinks her kids and cats are funny. I really only like to talk about me and I seldom participate in the posts of others. I've been doing it for years and I still don't really get Twitter. It's like a bunch of people talking over each other at a party. So clearly I'm doing it wrong.

On Google +, I am THE confused old person who has no idea what is going on. I only even try to do it every once in a while when one of my jobs reminds me that they'd really like me to have a presence there. But would they want me to have a presence there if they knew that I'm already annoying the rest of the internet? I don't really know whether to go with kids, cats, or yoga on Google +.

And I have a mommy blog. Ugh. The shame. I try not to self-promote and I think I'm great at not self-promoting, maybe a little too good but still, the truth is that I am one of them.

I don't plan on doing anything about any of the above, just wanted to declare my awareness of the situation in case you're one of my many internet victims (and clearly you are, you are reading a mommy blog!)

I'm sorry.

But I also  really want to tell you that I accomplished 30 yoga classes in the last 30 days, I want to complain about early release days at school (because what asshole came up with that idea, seriously?) and I'd like to share this picture of my cats (I think you will agree that they are extraordinary):

Thank you for tolerating me, internet. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

little bits of little kid

"Tatoes! How many tatoes could there be for there to be a whole tato store? That is ridiculous, a store full of potatoes." little kid declared on the drive home yesterday.

"That's a tattoo shop."

"Well, that makes more sense."

Later that day, I heard him tell Big Kid: "You're a jerk. Don't worry, it's in our family. It was passed down from our ancestors."

I didn't correct him, because he's right. IT'S OUR HERITAGE. Big Kid wasn't mad either, probably for the same reason. It's his destiny to be a jerk.

and then this morning, little kid suggested IHOP for Easter breakfast because it's in keeping with an Easter Bunny theme. I don't know if that's actually funny or not, but it cracked my ass up. 

He makes me laugh, and makes me want to strangle people, every single day.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Mommy Makeover

Since I work at a yoga studio and do yoga almost every day, I wear a lot of yoga clothes.

Right now I'm annoyed at Lululemon because a size 4 gives me a slight muffin top and a size 6 fits like wrinkled elephant skin. (I know you're thinking that this is not necessarily their fault and I am thinking that's not what I want to hear at all, thanks.)

The other day I pulled on the more comfortable size 4s and a form fitting top and stared at myself in the mirror.

With impeccable posture, it's okay, I thought, standing up perfectly straight before slumping back to my regular posture because I know I won't maintain impeccable posture.

I grabbed the extra flesh at my midsection and squeezed it this way and that, deciding I looked really good when it was just folded behind me. Maybe I needed lipo or a tummy tuck. Maybe those kids really have ruined me, I decided.

I don't like my boobs in yoga tops either. I'm going to add those to the list of things the kids broke. It's really not fair, it's not even a vanity thing to want to have them fixed...more like reconstructive surgery. It should come free with motherhood -- a lift and maybe a small implant because, you know, while they're in there they might as well.

I fantasized about that for a minute, which friends I would ask for a referral, which bank I would have to rob to afford it. I looked in the mirror with my impeccable posture and sucked in stomach and pushed up boobs and thought that this would be perfect, really, and wondered how much time I would need off and how I would care for the children and if stitches would be gross and how much it would hurt.

Then I thought about all of that, what I was willing to put myself through, and I decided this could all be at least improved by eating better and exercising differently and really making a conscious effort with this impeccable posture business.

And then I decided I should just wear bigger shirts.

Problem solved.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

No White Lies

"Does my hair look too blonde?" I asked little kid when I returned from the salon.

"Up front it is. Like here and here," he pointed to the sections I thought looked too blonde. "I'm sorry, don't look mad, you asked. Bubby, come look at mom's hair. Is it too blonde?"

"Too blonde...?" Big Kid began cautiously, sizing me up, looking more into my eyes than my hair.

"See here and here, bubby?" little kid pointed out my problem areas.

"Mom, I think it looks...gooood." Big kid said with a false chipper tone that indicates lying."You look nice with white hair."


"You look like Elsa from Frozen!" little kid added.

I frowned.

"What's wrong, mom? Elsa is a PRINCESS! You like princesses! You like to be a princess!" Big Kid exclaimed. "I think you look pretty with white hair, white hair is really cool."

 So I guess there's my answer, my hair is too light since I was not going for Disney snow princess or whatever the hell Elsa is. 

I love and hate how I can count on their honesty.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


The other day Big Kid and I were talking about nothing in particular when out of nowhere, with a slight defiant tilt of his chin, he announced, "When I'm away at college, I plan on spending at least one Thanksgiving with my friends. If I have any friends," he hastily added.

"You'll have friends! Of course you'll have friends, people always like you."

"Well, that's what I'm going to do," his 10-year-old self said, meeting my gaze.

I stifled a laugh that we were having this conversation right now and put on my serious face. "Of course you can do that! Have Thanksgiving with your friends, that sounds fun! You'll be an adult, you can do that." 

And then I casually walked into the kitchen so he couldn't see my glossy eyes. Yes, I was trying not to cry about a hypothetical Thanksgiving that may or may not take place in about a decade.

But he'll be an adult, and he can do that.

That has got to be the worst part of this whole parenting gig...the part where they become adults and can do that.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Kick Kick Kick Ass--My Messy Beautiful

When I was 20 years old, I thought I knew everything. Life was really quite simple -- you work hard, you act smart and you'll live happily ever after. I was doing those things. It was easy to do those things. I made a million plans; career plans, savings plans, life plans...as long as I had a plan, I could do anything.

By the time I turned 25, I knew I knew everything. I owned a lucrative real estate-based business, a home, investments, cars bought with cash, a robust savings account. I had a plan! That's all it took...hard work and a plan. I worked endless hours, I thrived on this busyness, this evidence of my success -- nothing in the world was as important as my plan. My entire identity was my plan.

By the time I turned 30, I realized I actually knew nothing...and that's when I started to truly learn. Through a series of unfortunate (and agonizing) events, including but not limited to the crash of the real estate market, my plan fell apart. We lost our business, jobs, houses, savings account, credit, and, along with all of that, I lost my identity. Who was I if I wasn't successful? Who was I if I no longer had a plan? My plan exploded into a million pieces and all I had left of it was shrapnel and scars.

As I tried to figure out what to do next, I clung to my bed as if it were a life raft and sank deeper and deeper into depression. I was turned down for jobs at the type of places that hire people with words tattooed where their eyebrows should be. We ate oranges from the tree in the backyard of our rental, not because it was a fun and charming thing to do, but because it was our only option for breakfast. I used to pray to a God I no longer believed in to save me from waking up in the morning, and then wake up crying to discover I had opened my eyes for another miserable day.

Once, in the depths of my despair, I actually searched online for scientific studies that proved kids who grew up without a mom ended up fine. I can find a dark humor in that now—in that little bit of logic in that completely illogical mind, that glimmer of hope that the right research could set me free. There are no such studies, by the way. 


Finally, exhausted with myself, I went to my doctor. I gathered all of my strength, all of my resolve. I took out my list of physical symptoms, drew a deep steadying breath...and I laid my head down on the little desk in her office and ugly cried like a rabid snot-faced hyena/wildebeest hybrid. It went AS BADLY as it could have possibly gone. My doctor stood there, momentarily stunned, and then got on her knees in front of me and poured her heart out about being a mom and her struggles with her career and family and how this isn't abnormal. Then she put me on drugs.

With the anti-depressants, emotions left the equation, which left me alone with logic. I had a little mental check list when worries would arise:  Can I fix this? If yes, can I fix this right this very second? If no, find something else to do. 

I began to kick.

When my kids were learning to swim, we'd endlessly say, "kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick" as we encouraged them through the water, so I began say it to myself when life was hard, which, at this point, was every minute of every day. Kick, kick, kick. Just keep kicking and you'll get somewhere. So I kept kicking.

It took SO MUCH KICKING. Man, it's not easy work, that kick-kick-kicking. Sometimes I was only treading water and sometimes I was certain I was drowning and sometimes the waves forced me to retreat back to my life raft the bed, but I kept kick-kick-kicking because at that point, it was the only plan I had.

And in bits and pieces, I would find little slivers of happiness and I realized I needed to HOLD ON TO THESE. I needed to scoop these up and keep them and remember that they were evidence that there was more on the horizon. To keep kick-kick-kicking.

Eventually, after five million years of kicking (maybe it was less, I'm bad at math), I made it back to dry land. I finally remembered how to be happy often enough that I realized I was missing other emotions that had dulled. I went to the doctor to get off of the meds and stood on that new found, firm, real ground on shaky, uncertain legs. I still had no real plan, I had no real stuff, I had no real short blurb about who I was or what I did in life and it was still scary but in a real and gloriously beautiful way. I feel so lucky to have lost it all because that's when I truly found myself.

And if I had a time machine, I would go back to that version of me researching the lives of children without mothers and whisper, "Within five years you will be crying happy tears over the beauty of sunsets. You will get choked up by baby shampoo commercials. You will experience a delicious shudder when your feet hit the sand. You will feel overcome with choking panic that you ever wanted to leave. You will love more and feel more and do more and be more because you went through all of this," and then I'd hug her and maybe give her a bit of a "Get your shit together!" shake because, come on now, she totally needed both.

I still have no plan. I drive a crappy car and live in a little house that isn't mine. I don't have a ton of stuff. My job description varies and my income is a joke. I know now that I know nothing. And I have never been happier -- as soon as I let go of my plan, I found my way.

So if you ever find yourself feeling hopeless please keep kick-kick-kicking, my friends, you will get somewhere soon.

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project, to learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!   


Monday, April 7, 2014

Day at the Beach

We were at the beach Saturday for sunset when little kid came running up with something green and heavy in his arms.

"What does he have? Is that a coconut?"

"I think it's a watermelon?"

"It can't be a watermelon."

But it was a watermelon. He was laughing like a maniac as he zigged and zagged back and forth on the beach before unceremoniously dumping it at my feet. We were all cracking up by then because his insane laughter was infectious and the whole scenario was so strange.

As the watermelon rolled on the ground in front of me, a little triangle shaped plug popped out.

"Is that a...note? In the watermelon?"

"A note? In the watermelon?"

I peered inside and sure enough, there was a soggy, carefully folded piece of paper...inside the watermelon.

What the hell.

I carefully pried it out with my fingertips and slowly unfolded it, draping it over my chair to dry and praying that the only thing on it was watermelon juice.

Mr. Ashley told me to throw it away. CAN YOU IMAGINE? Throwing away a note you found folded up in a watermelon? He's a mad man. I carefully preserved it, scrunching myself up in the corner of my beach chair so it wouldn't touch me.

I just unfolded it to transcribe it to you though and it smells, so maybe he's right, maybe I should have thrown it away after reading it the first time.  

It says:
Dear Yemaya, 
I writing to you this letter because I need your help in take (guy's name) out of prison. I want a nice and healthy life with him and my son and his. I love this man, he is good to me and trys to help me anyway he can. He is not a bad man, made a bad choice but has paid for the mistake. Please give us a chance to live and love each other. I pray to my God and the saints to help him. Please I would like to change my life to be happy and I know he would do that for me. Please forgive him the wrong he did. I write to you with my heart in your hand to help us in chance to live what I have of life left until I go home to live with him. Please forgive.

and is signed with her name.

Kind of a sad climax to my exciting Scooby Doo mystery.

A quick google search reveals that Yemaya "is the great mother who lives and rules over the seas. Water is essential to life, so without Yemaya, life on earth wouldn't be possible." That's from a Santeria website. So, I don't know if little kid interrupted some voodoo magic or if our interference has ruined this poor desperate person's chances at happiness or not, but it made for a really odd day at the beach.  

I wish I could send her a watermelon back telling her to find happiness in herself, for her son. 

Super weird though, I couldn't make this kind of stuff up. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Strengths and Weaknesses

As little kid was showing off his new found ability to figure out square roots, I commented that as a pair of brothers they were awesome at everything since one's strength was the other's weakness and vice versa.

"What do you mean?" Big Kid asked.

"Just that together you will know it all! Like me and daddy. I'm naturally good at reading/writing/spelling and he's naturally good at math and...."

"Just math, pretty much," Mr. Ashley finished for me.

"Math and...muscles!" little kid added.

"Man, you guys are a tough crowd," Mr. Ashley said, shaking his head.

"I still like you, dad," Big Kid offered.

"Thanks, Big Kid. I like you too," he said with a sigh.

Later that night I told Mr. Ashley that I had gained a few pounds and asked whether he thought it was muscle I'm gaining from doing a 30 day yoga challenge at work, or from candy.

"Probably a little of both," he answered all too honestly.

"Ugh. I should have done a clean eating challenge at the same time."

"Maybe you should just stop eating candy for like a week and see how that goes."

I considered that briefly. "Eh. I don't know. I'm thinking no," and then I ate half a bag of marshmallows on the way to yoga and the other half on the way home.