So I logged on to type up this here post, and… went straight to the GoDaddy screen. Wha? Turns out my domain expired? Some kind of confusion between the 13th and the 18th? I get it. 3s and 8s look alike. I promised my IT guy I wouldn’t fire him JUST yet, as long as he promised that this would never happen again, and also bring me home some of those yummy yogurt-covered pretzels while you’re at it.
ANYWAY. Back to the reason we’re really all here today:
COME PLAY IN MY WORLD! I SEE YOU! KILL THE COWS! FOLLOW ME TO MY HOUSE! NO NOT THAT WAY! KILL THAT SHEEP! GAHHHHH WHERE YOU GOING COME BAAAAACK!!!!
My God the shouting. The angst. The shouting. The ordering of what to do on an iPad that you are not even using.
Rachel likes to build elaborate houses with winding staircases and glowstone pathways. Claire likes to hoard a bunch of TNT and watch it explode. They both delight in digging large pits, spawning a bunch of cows and sheep in them, and then killing them off one by one with arrows. Nothing weird about that.
Personal space? I KNOW NOT OF WHICH YOU SPEAK, GOOD SIR.
When they play together here at home, they sync both iPads into Rachel’s world. That world has a name, and that name, until yesterday, was BIG JUGS, because that is an appropriate name for the 4-6-year-old set, right? I’m 99.9% sure it was thought up by the guy who forgot that his kids can actually read.
So now there’s, “Come into my world! It’s called BIG JUGS!”
And “Isn’t BIG JUGS fun?”
And “I love BIG JUGS.”
To which Christian replies, “Me too, kid. Me too.”
P.S. One night after they went to bed, Christian handed me an iPad and ordered me to play Minecraft. And I was like, Whatever. I don’t need that dumb game. I have work to do. And then like an hour later I was all DAMMIT MINECRAFT! WHY YOU SO FUN?
P.P.S. My version of fun is building a brick house with a cool stone fireplace and some sweet under-window bookshelves. In case any of you were wondering how we keep the magic alive up in here.
Rule #1 of nearing the end of winter break and the beginning of the new school semester: Don’t celebrate too heartily, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my almost 7 years of parenting, it’s that when you haven’t had a day (an hour!) to yourself in 3 weeks and you really have some work and introverting to catch up on…someone’s gonna get sick. The universe is all LOLOLOLOL that’s cute.
Claire started running a fever Monday night. School was due to start on Tuesday. So I kept her home, and she was jumping on the trampoline by lunchtime, and I really thought that would be the end of it. But soon she was back on the couch and her temperature crept back up, and I knew. Usually I wait a sickness out for a couple of days, but as soon as the fever and coughing started, I had a feeling that we had been blessed with the flu. This isn’t my first flu-rodeo. So Tuesday through Thursday she was home, we had 3 prescriptions for Tamiflu, and I just prayed that no one else would get it. Mainly Christian, because if there’s anything more pathetic than a 6-year-old with the flu, it’s a 36-year-old with the man-flu.
By 7:32am Friday I was (happily!) (but lovingly!) shoving her cute (non-contagious!) (fever-free!) little butt down the sidewalk to school. I really enjoyed having the girls home during the break, but it was time to go back, and we both knew it. I may have cursed the “24 hours fever free” rule that kept her home on Thursday, bouncing off the walls with boredom and Tamiflu-induced mania, but okay, I enjoyed the extra snuggles we got that day, also the nap I took on the couch while she and Zoe did something extremely loud, but not destructive enough to bother me in the other room.
We’ve watched every single episode of Wild Kratts. And Ninjago. We learned that Wii controllers are endlessly frustrating for little hands. We were reassured that Tamiflu still drives our kids batshit crazy.
We also discovered that kids are much more willing to take nasty medicine if you immediately hand them a spoonful of chocolatey Nutella goodness. After begging and pleading and really not understanding why they wouldn’t just get it over with, I’m now having to turn down requests for medicine and chocolate. Sometimes this parenting gig is so damn simple, it kills me.
And despite the fact that she coughed in my face 847 times, NO ONE ELSE CAUGHT IT.
My mother-in-law has been visiting for the past two and a half weeks for the holidays. As she’s made herself at home – which I hope any guest would do – and we do the dance of merging lifestyles, I’ve started to realize that I may be a little….weird. You go through life a certain way, and it’s your normal. But tell someone that you alphabetize your bookshelves that you have a thing for Weird Al, and suddenly you’re the village outcast.
Everyone’s got a little weird in them, and now that I’ve listed them, they don’t really seem all that different to me. But I get enough “You are so weird!” from my husband that I’m feeling that maybe I’m walking to the beat of a different drum.
For starters, I alphabetize my bookshelves. How else am I supposed to find that book that I read three years ago that I just know my neighbor will love? Look, color coordinated libraries are aesthetically pleasing and all, but no one’s actually reading those books.
I’m not crazy about massages. Let me clarify. I don’t seek out massages. The last full body massage I got was when I was suffering from an aching back that could only come from constant holding and rocking of two 4-month-olds. Did it feel good? Yes. Did I want her to keep massaging my scalp for another hour or so? Yes. Am I keen on strangers touching me? Not at all. Would it be creepy to ooh and aah when she hit the right spots? Possibly. Was I unsure whether or not I was supposed to leave my underwear on? Totally. My awkwardness and I are best left out of the massage parlors.
I’m OCD about sorting the laundry. Certain items only get washed with certain items, a habit I developed when I had a limited wardrobe of nice work clothing that I needed to keep in tip top condition. Whites with whites, blacks/navies with blacks/navies, sheets with sheets. Jeans and towels NEVER go in with regular clothing, since they can cause unnecessary wear and tear. Hang dry anything that you don’t want to fade, pill, or shrink. These are the laws of Leigh Ann’s laundry room. I realize a lot of people do this already, but not everyone, and when my MIL visits, it makes me seem SUPER controlling. Unfortunately, that’s about where the laundry OCD ends. *gives major side-eye to basket full of unfolded clothes*
I thought Grease was meh. I didn’t even see the musical until I was in college, when a coworker fainted dead away when she learned I’d never experienced it. She brought me her own personal VHS copy, and I was…underwhelmed. It just didn’t live up to the hype. I’ve also never been a huge John Travolta fan. That chin divot freaks me out.
I speak in This American Life episodes. I’ve listened to so many podcasts in such a short amount of time, I can find an opportunity in just about any conversation to insert a story I heard on TAL. Immigration issues? I’ve got a story for that. Geneology and skeletons in the family closet? I’ve got one for that too. Sleepwalking? Yup.
I don’t really watch TV. This is becoming more and more of a thing, but Christian and I were the true cable-free pioneers of the 21st century. Now only watching from Netflix or Amazon or Raffi or something is commonplace, even cool. But we gave it up years ago when we realized that even our favorite shows were piling up on our DVR, and we had neither the time nor the desire to watch them. And my parents still never fail to ask if I’m watching “that show” or if I’ve seen “that commercial.”
I don’t touch seafood. Well, very, very, very rarely. If it’s deep fried and covered in sauce, then I may be able to overlook the rancid smell or the unpleasant texture.
I need to detox after intense social engagements. I’m not talking intense conversation, but more like constant talking and mmmhmmm…. and oh really….. and WOW CAN WE STOP FUCKING TALKING PLEASE THANK YOU. Sometimes – okay, often – okay, usually in the car with three loud children and an introvert-oblivious husband – I fantasize that a glass tube would plop around me and shut me off from everyone. In the car on the way home after one such engagement, I had a mini-come-to-Jesus moment where I explained that I just needed no one to talk to me for about 5-7 minutes. Preferably the rest of the afternoon.
Social engagements also = long days home with kids.
I prefer Martin Freeman over Benedict Cumberbatch. But I’ll take Detective Inspector Lestrade over both.
I’m middle-brained. It’s usually assumed that I’m right-brained, since I’m left-handed and have spent the better part of my life in creative pursuits. But I have enough decent abilities in logical subjects to balance out both sides. All that really means is that I am usually plagued with indecisiveness and have a hell of a time choosing between my gut instincts and my logical brain. I’ve and near-panic attacks in front of the paint chips at Home Depot.
What’s your weirdness? Let your freak flag fly!
Click here if you can’t see the video. 80 photos in 40-ish seconds.
Happy 2015-eve! I love me a good recap.
1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?
I co-produced the Austin Listen to Your Mother show with my friend and fellow writer Kristin Shaw. Although we were walking into an established show and taking the reins from the previous producers, and even though I had been in the show myself in 2012, I was terrified. Also terrifying was going on the news. I’d never done anything like this before. But we made it a successful event and can’t wait to take what we’ve learned and apply it to the 2015 show.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don’t really make resolutions. I like to select a word to guide me through the year. I didn’t write about it, but my word for 2014 was DO. I am really bad about saying I want to do things, but then life and kids and laziness all get in the way, and I never actually get around to it. I’ve had half-finished projects sitting around for months…sometimes more. I’ve said I wanted to submit essays to this site or that one, and haven’t. I have friends and family members who are true doers. They say they want to do or achieve something, and they actually do it. Imagine that!
So in 2014, I vowed to DO the things I said I wanted to do. Looking back, I don’t feel like I really achieved that. I do what has to be done, and I do what I want to do, but if it’s something I want but DON’T have to do? I’d rather binge watch Netflix or playWord Base or go to bed.
So maybe 2015 will be DO-OVER. I honestly haven’t thought too hard about 2015 yet.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
A few blog friends had babies (Alison, Tonya, Sarah). And a close friend of mine found out she’s expecting her third baby in May. At a time when I feel like everyone around me kinda needs to stop having babies, they just keep on popping them out, and I get to snuggle them and then hand them back.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
My grandmother passed away in August at the age of 88. I miss her raucous stories about raising four boys in Iowa and then Texas. Her laughter could fill a room like no other.
5. What countries did you visit?
Does San Jose, CA count? What about the Little Czech Bakery in West, Texas?
6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
Fitness. Due to a herniated disc, I had to stop running in January and spent the better part of the year in physical therapy. The most exercise I could do was walking, and that’s not exactly a huge calorie burner. Needless to say, now that I’m mostly-better, I’m having a hard time getting back on the horse.
7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Is it terrible to say that I don’t have any stand-out dates for the year? How about events? Listen to Your Mother Austin, visiting the Great Wolf Lodge, SeaWorld & Aquatica with the family, attending BlogHer in San Jose, the death of Michael Brown, the death and funeral of my grandmother, getting published on the Huffington Post, Rachel and Claire starting 1st grade after a VERY long summer, David Sedaris drawing my butt.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Producing the Listen the Your Mother Austin show and having a piece on the Huffington Post. Are we tired of me talking about those yet? It wasn’t a really big year for me.
9. What was your biggest failure?
Summer. I always have a terrible time adjusting to summer from the school year, but this year seemed especially horrible. I failed to really do much of anything fun with the girls, and we stayed home way to much. Which didn’t really help with the terribleness.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Oh, you haven’t heard about my Satan’s Sciatica? The Herniated Disc from Hell? Where have you been?
11. What was the best thing you bought?
My BlogHer ticket. But I have to mention the terrible iPhone 6 LifeProof knockoff case Christian ordered. It was twice the size of the phone, but had such poetic descriptions as, “When we are swimming at the beach, we can take photos to remember the time, let the moment become good memory, and at the same time we can also play a game, listen to music and so on, 100% waterproof. We don’t have to worry anymore if it gets wet.” And “When we surf and when we go skiing, we can go trough [sic] a wave, film the moment and not worry about anything because this product is rain-waterproof, so this means. It won’t affect any telephone message while we are having a joy time.”
WHEW. I hate it when I can’t get my telephone messages when I have having a joy time.
12. Where did most of your money go?
Groceries. So much food consumed by these little people.
13. What did you get really excited about?
School starting in August. #truth
14. What song will always remind you of 2014?
I am not hip to what the kids are listening to these days (All About that What? No idea.). But I do know that Pharrell’s Happy and the Frozen soundtrack were on constant rotation for a while.
15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
– happier or sadder? I’m content.
– thinner or fatter? My girls have named my belly Fifi and sing it lullabies, so I’ll let you figure that one out.
– richer or poorer? I don’t like that question. We’re fortunate.
16. What do you wish you’d done more of?
I wish I’d written more good content for myself. At the beginning of the year I was juggling blogging with freelancing for AllParenting. Then summer came along (summer = death for most bloggers). Once school started and AllParenting stopped publishing, I started a part time job that I love, but still leaves little time for writing. Chances are I just need better time management.
17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Scrolling through social media when I’m bored.
18. How did you spend Christmas?
We stayed here in Austin. My MIL came and was able hang out with the girls and see them open all of their gifts on Christmas morning. We stayed in our pajamas all day. It was truly lovely.
19. What was your favorite TV program?
I’ve been into Sherlock and Friday Night Lights, as well as old favorites Mad Men, The Walking Dead, and Downton Abbey.
20. What were your favorite books of the year?
I read a lot more this year than last, and my favorite was probably The Rosie Project by Graeme C. Simsion (affiliate link).
21. What was your favorite music from this year?
The Avett Brothers, TuneYards, Lorde
22. What was your favorite film of the year?
This is a terrible question for someone who doesn’t see nearly as many movies as she would like. Only Mockingjay comes to mind, although I also loved The 100 Foot Journey.
23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 36, and I honestly had to look back in my blog archives to see what I did that day. Christian and I went to see Gone Girl at the Alamo Drafthouse and then had to pick up the kids from school, so then it was basically just like any other day, possibly with more hugs and kisses from my girls than usual.
24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Ever, at some point in my year, feeling like I had my shit together. Does that ever happen?
25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?
Laundry Basket Chic. Tshirts and jeans. Tshirts and shorts. Hoodies and shorts. Flip flops e’ery damn day, THANK YOU TEXAS.
26. What kept you sane?
Taking time away from ALLTHEBLINKYTHINGS when I needed to. Reading actual books.
27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.
Do what you want. Engage in things that feed you. I don’t care what you feed your kids or how you play with them or whether or not you do Elf on the Shelf. I’m weary of headlines like “10 reasons I DON’T play with my kids” or “5 things I WON’T be getting my kids for Christmas.” When did we get so negative? I want to know your story, not your justification for the things you do or do not. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
As a part of the Netflix Stream Team, each month I get to share my favorite things to stream online.
Hang out to the end to enter to win a year’s worth of Netflix! Yeehaw!
The giveaway is closed. Congrats to Gena! She won a 1-year complimentary Netflix membership! Thanks to everyone who entered!
Something you should know about me is that I am not a bandwagon jumper. If there is something out there that everyone else is watching, you can almost guarantee that I am not. It’s not completely intentional at first. We don’t have cable, so everything I watch is on Netflix or “other online sources” for more current shows.
So a new show comes on that has a little buzz. People start watching that show. People start talking incessantly about that show. And I’m still not watching it, because there’s no sense in starting a show 7 episodes in. The show gets glowing reviews. Now I’m starting to ignore it. Then people start saying OMG! Are you watching THAT SHOW? And now I’m starting to get a little indignant. Like why would I want to watch what everyone else is watching? Not to mention the recaps and tweets and you may as well just stay off social media if you aren’t able to watch THAT SHOW right away.
But you know why everyone in the world is watching THOSE SHOWS? Because they are good.
Here are some shows I’ve been watching recently that are making me a total bandwagon jumper. I know it may all be old news to you guys, but 2006 was a good year, and it’s not really bothering me to live it again through Netflix.
I admit, although I had seen the movie, I never ot into this show because I was not a football girl. I’m still not a football girl. But I saw so many people so crushed over the ending of this series, and more people still who continue to talk about it. Someone I know even had WHAT WOULD TAMI TAYLOR DO? bumper stickers made. I had to see what it was all about. And you know what? I love it. So much drama and heart and love. The Matt Saracen/grandma story is killing me.
When it first premiered, Sons of Anarchy appealed to me exactly none, even after it started to get glowing reviews. We’re only a few episodes in, but it’s more than just violence and a bunch of motorcycle badassery. I mean, there is a lot of violence and motorcycle badassery, but there’s also a good heart and a preemie baby and Katey Sagal kicks ass as Mama Gemma.
Another show that I heard loads about, but had no means of watching sans cable, we made it about halfway through Breaking Bad before inadvertently throwing in the towel when I went out of town and ended our binge streak. But I was never that fully invested in it. I didn’t love the premise of the show, I liked ZERO of the characters, and it killed me that Jesse seemed to have absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever. But several people have assured me that Jesse will MORE than come through in the end, so I’m planning on getting back into it soon.
So what’s next? Gilmore Girls? Scandal? Dexter? Give Doctor Who another try?
As for the kids, we checked out the new Netflix original All Hail King Julien, and the girls loved it. I foresee a lot of I LIKE TO MOVE IT MOVE IT in our future.
Now! I have a year’s worth of Netflix streaming to give away to one lucky reader. Just comment below and tell me what you’ve been watching, what you want to watch, or what you think I should watch. One entry per person please! Giveway ends Sunday, January 4, 2015 (new year!) at midnight, CST.
Edited to add: Giveaway is good for 12 months of Netflix online streaming only.
Crappy days are going to happen. I admit that often a day’s crap factor has a lot to do with whether or not the kids are being difficult, or if I’m tired, or if I’m distracted. But today was more like just a series of unfortunate events, all Lemony Snicket up in here.
• I was tired. I’m always tired. These 6am wake up calls are brutal. By Wednesday I’m dragging, and by Friday I am questioning the purpose of life itself.
• I was rushed. I got the big girls off to school okay, but in the hour and a half between their drop off and taking Zoe to preschool, I felt completely pressed for time, with all of my to-dos hanging over my head.
• Christian spilled my coffee. All over Zoe. Everyone promptly lost their shit in attempts to clean up and tear piping hot clothes off of the traumatized 4-year-old.
• I looked at my dining room table that I had just cleaned off the night before and just could not with all of the drawings and stickers and markers and tiny scraps of paper from having to make snowflakes at a rate of 37 per minute.
• We were super late to school, thanks to the Great Coffee Flood and the fact that I had to wrap a book for Zoe’s class book exchange. And then we forgot the book. Minor swearing ensued.
• Operating on autopilot while working, I made an error that my supervisor and I couldn’t fix.
At this point I just sat at my desk and ugly cried. The crying wasn’t about work. It was a culmination of everything that had happened so far, with the main factor being that I was just feeling so damn overwhelmed. And sometimes you just need a good cry. It was too much, and I don’t even know what IT was. IT was just a feeling.
I don’t ever feel particularly stressed around the holidays, but it usually manifests itself in different ways. Like completely breaking down after realizing you clicked a wrong box and sent someone’s notification into The Nothing instead of their inbox.
Let’s just say it was not a good day to have zero Christmas cookies in the house.
Luckily there were some bright spots. And even as the craptastic day continued with other craptastic events including, but not limited to, me spilling an entire serving of green beans, me sitting in cat puke, and me getting a phone call from UPS informing me that the package I shipped to my dad has been “damaged,” only no one could tell me what the damage was or if they were still going to ship it or dispose of the package of cookies that I slaved over for days (like they would actually just throw my package away), these bright spots kept me going:
• This sticker that Christian slipped inside my laptop when he saw me leave all Eyeore-like. This kind of thing pretty much sums up our relationship.
• A group of online girlfriends who lift me up when I’m feeling down (and who let me pipe up and say TODAY SUCKS!)
• A bottle of Hubert’s lemonade
• This meme, which – believe it or not – had nothing to do with the sticker above:
• Sharing some mutual girl-crush moments with a much-admired friend.
• This awesome panda sticker comment:
• Going to bed super early and falling asleep with a book on my face. Technically I haven’t done that yet, but I’m on my way. As Scarlett put it, “Tumarrah is anuthah day!”
How do you bounce back from a crappy day?
I’ve been wracking my brain for the past couple of days, trying to think of something – anything – that I’ve ever been truly passionate about. I’m coming up short.
Let’s go through my short history.
I always loved art, and I still do, but I was never passionate about it. I can spout off random fact and interesting anecdotes about various artists and paintings. I’ll still immerse myself in an art museum or gallery from time to time. But I’m happy to leave it. In college I rarely went into the studio during non-classtime hours. I knew I wasn’t going to move to New York and try my hand at making a career, even though I had spent practically my entire life declaring that that’s exactly what I wanted to do. I was good at it, and maybe that’s why I liked it so much. We often enjoy things we are good at.
Even now as a writer and a blogger, I can’t say I’m truly passionate about writing and blogging. I don’t eat, sleep and breathe writing. I love it, and it’s something I enjoy doing, and something that has led me to lots of fabulous opportunities, but if it came to a choice between writing and taking a nap? I’d take the nap.
Come to think of it, I am pretty passionate about napping. I will nap you under the table.
Over the weekend I got to meet a few people who have what I consider to be that rare passion for what they do.
One after another, trainers and handlers in the SeaWorld dolphin, orca, beluga whale, and bird habitats spoke to us and told their stories, which all were mostly some variation of this:
I visited the park as a kid, and I said, “This is it. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
Can you imagine?
I admire and envy that kind of passion, the passion they have for their jobs, for their animals, and the thirst for knowledge they have as they continue to learn about these magnificent creatures, both at the park and in partnership with other research scientists. I admire the tenacity involved in following a goal from dream to actualization. These people never lost sight of what it was that they wanted, and now they are able to say they are truly doing what they love. Dream job.
I look back and I think, Did I miss my passion? Was there something that I came across as a kid and said “Man! I want to do THAT!” I don’t know, maybe if it involved ice cream or making those Jacob’s ladder things with the edges of the paper from the dot matrix printer. What I do know is that if we or our children are lucky enough to stumble upon something that makes our eyes grow wide with wonder and fills us with joy, that’s something to pay attention to. I left inspired to explore more of the things that interest me, but that I convince myself I have no time for. Sure, it’s possible I could grow weary of it once I realize that I am not that great at embroidery and vacuuming is actually super boring. But that initial interest and fascination could turn into a life-long passion. (Totally not going to be embroidery or vacuuming though. Sorry.)
I wonder if I had met Pepper the Gentoo Penguin as a kid, or any penguin, would I have had the same pull to them as I do now? They are my absolute favorite. Obviously, I need a penguin now.
Right now it’s looking like the passions around my house mainly revolve around Ninja Turtles, making homemade books about Ninja Turtles, and eating Pirate Booty. But Zoe is showing some promise with her ability to quote just about every single fact from every single Wild Kratts episode ever made, so there’s that. OUR HOPES AND DREAMS LIE ON YOU, LITTLE ONE.
Have you ever experienced real passion? Keep it clean, folks. We’re not talking about THAT kind of passion.
….that it’s not really pronounced bluebomment.
….that she did not, in fact, lose her teeth “a long long long long long time ago” and her baby teeth grew in after them.
….that an entire morning of board games is one of the most effective forms of torture for parents. Yes! please! You may now play your iPad!
….that Chris Kratt is married with 5 kids and like 40+ years her senior.
….that it’s about time the 2T polka dot jacket she covets was sent out to pasture.
….along with that favorite dress that’s looking more like a shirt these days.
….that she has Nutella all over her face.
….that as much as you love playing “Ninja Turtle Scares Mommy,” there are only so many circles a mommy can stand to run around the couch.
….that “eecause” starts with a B.
….that I really love it when she comes and snuggles in my bed, especially when she starts flailing and throwing her legs over me.
….actually, go ahead and tell her that part, about the leg flailing thing.
….that her stubbornness and determination will probably make her a real go-getter one day, but probably more like a complete asshole to work with.
….that she’s cute.
….that those shoes are too big.
….or that those shoes are too small.
….just…it’s best you just stay quiet and try not to make any sudden movements.