NaBloPo – just NO

I’m waving the white flag. Reluctantly. Thankfully.

For 3 days I tried to convince myself I was on the National Blog Posting Month bandwagon. I did it last year (actually did 21 out of 30 days, but still). It was a great experience and experiment into challenging myself to write daily and to write imperfectly. It brought out the old school blogger in me. I wrote about a lot of things I would have most definitely posted about 5 years ago, but these days? When we’re busy and it seems like no one is reading and if they are, all anyone wants to read are click bait headlines and pinnable parenting advice? A little post about my kids just doesn’t seem to fit anymore.

That sounds incredibly whiny. It’s not meant to.

I love going back and reading those things. Some great posts came out of it. This year, however, I wasn’t even ready to commit until I sat down on the evening of November 1 and hammered out a Halloween wrap up. That’s how I roll – by the seat of my pants. I should have listened to my gut telling me, “LOL not this year, Leigh Ann!”

I made it three days. On day 4 I spent all day at a fundraiser for the organization I work for, then took the kids to see Trolls (GO SEE IT). On Day 5 I presented at a conference, took the kids to a birthday party, then went to a family friend’s to celebrate her birthday in the evening. On Sunday I woke up at the ass-crack of dawn (yay DST!), did all the laundry, and headed solo to the Texas Book Festival.

Throw all that together with the lingering cough I’ve had for weeks that Sunday night turned into miserable hacking and knotted up back muscles and a 10pm run to Walgreens for some cough syrup and throat lozenges….well let’s just say the only reason I’m writing this now is to a) admit defeat, and b) because I needed something to do as I slowly become one with the couch today.

Bottom line, NaBloPoMo is fun, but it doesn’t align with my goals right now, which are mainly just to remain upright (mentally, because see above statement about becoming one with the couch). I’m not quite sure how it happened, but as my kids get older, life gets busier, and the capacity of my mental energy gets smaller, which also affects my physical energy. Maybe it’s the sickness talking, because I’ve been tired for a while. But I feel like I’m giving everything I have right now, and I end each day completely exhausted, yet still feeling like there was nothing left for me.

So right now I’m coughing, melting into the couch, flipping on Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix, and wondering if I need to go back to the doctor. Maybe I’ll check in in a few days to let you know how it goes.

 

sometimes I get it wrong

Newsflash: I am not perfect. We all have our children’s best interests at heart, but sometimes we lose sight of our sanity.

Recently I swallowed my pride after a series of small bad decisions left me with one unhappy 6-year-old (Zoe) and a huge case of sensory overload (me).

Zoe’s been taking gymnastics for about a year. We go to at a small, low-key gym where they have a lot of fun, but there’s not a ton of equipment, and it’s not all that challenging.

Once Rachel and Claire dropped gymnastics after their standard few months, the gym director suggested I move Zoe to their larger gym a couple of miles away. I said I’d think about it.

The larger gym is actually where Zoe started about a year ago. We moved to the smaller gym because they had slots for Rachel and Claire. She was sad to leave, but she’s resilient, and logistically, this was the best option. Still, I asked myself over and over again, Am I making the right decision?

She settled into the smaller gym, and my uncertainty waned. Her new class had a school friend in it. Going to gymnastics was the highlight of her week.

After a few weeks I finally took the gym director’s advice and moved her back to the larger gym. At about three times the size, this is where the competitive teams practice. While the younger kids are learning cartwheels and headstands in the foreground, the background is busy with gymnasts flying through the air on uneven bars and twirling on beams.

It’s also crowded and loud; the chairs are riddled with sticky fingerprints, and the air always carries the faint scent of overripe diapers. It is complete sensory overload. The only upside is I never have to worry about how much noise Rachel and Claire are making while playing their iPads. The smaller gym’s waiting room was like a library.

As we headed to her first class back at the big gym, her slightly glum face in the rearview mirror, I again questioned myself. Am I making the right decision?

She jumped right in, and I could already see how much more they were teaching her. Zoe has natural talent, and she’s also an incredibly hard worker. I’m not a Tiger Mom in any way, but the idea of her excelling gave me a proud little thrill.

That night in bed, she started crying begging me to take her back to the smaller gym.

Surely she’d get used to it. Surely I would get used to it (it being the waiting room). Surely this was just the change talking and this would all wash over just like my uncertainty of the last decision to move. That one turned out fine! This one will be fine!

Until a couple weeks into the new gym (which is actually the old, and man, this is getting confusing), when I reminded her it was gymnastics day, she answered, “I hate gymnastics. I want to quit.”

These two things – crying in bed about wanting to go back and claiming a hatred for her favorite activity – are not like Zoe. She goes with the flow. She deals. She manages. And I realized I depended so much on her ability to deal with it, I completely failed to consider how she would feel about the whole thing. And I realized that her having fun is so much more important to me right now than her ability to excel. She’s great at gymnastics, but we’re not looking to join the Olympics.

So I moved her back. She’s happy. She loves it again. If my girl is happy, I’m happy.

 

NaBloPoMo November 2016

the candy. make it stop.

halloween candy

My kids brought home an absurd amount of candy from trick or treating. To the point that I felt guilty, like we had robbed the neighborhood, when in fact, there were hoards of kids who all got just as much. The problem is we have candy times three over here.

I tell myself I can make it through the day with no candy. I’ll be fine. Just chug this protein shake – it’s chocolate! With PB2! It’s practically a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.*

*It’s nothing like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

I tell myself I can allow myself just one piece of candy. One of the Snickers, because my kids hate peanuts. And Snickers satisfies. I can do just one.

I cannot do just one. The Snickers is just a gateway to Butterfinger. Then the miniature Three Musketeers because nougat is life. Finally, we reach the Holy Grail of Halloween candy: The Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. They are in short supply this year, obviously because the parents intending to hand them out ate most of them in the days leading up to Halloween. Not that I would know from experience or anything.

Now my heart is pounding with the force of a thousand pounds of sugar, and I’m pretty sure my teeth are stuck together. I haven’t eaten real food in approximately 47 hours, and every time I close my eyes, I have visions of candy parties where I’m swimming in my kids’ Halloween buckets, munching on mass-produced confections as I go, except the banana Laffy Taffy. That shit’s just gross.

Tomorrow? I can make it through the day with no candy. Right?

NaBloPoMo November 2016

characters

Halloween 2016 in the bag. Along with lots of candy. Please, someone come rescue me from the candy.

This year we had some real (cute) characters.

claire chica fnaf
Claire // Chica from Five Nights at Freddy’s // refused all face paint

Yellow dress and Chica accessory kit from Hot Topic. DONE. The deranged look on her face is part of the character. I think.

pusheen costume diy
Rachel // Pusheen the Cat

Rachel’s obsession with Pusheen is strong, and seeing as the Pusheen costumes were a) all adult-sized and b) $75, and the Pusheen sweatshirts were a) also adult-sized and b) all sold out, we went for the DIY sweatshirt.

So do you know how hard it is to find a plain gray hoodie? I mean, if you aren’t actually looking for one, they’re everywhere, but once you really find yourself in need of a light gray zip-up hoodie, no, not the dark gray thank you, and yes, it HAS to be a zip-up, they are nowhere to be found. Target online men’s small, you are my Halloween hero. And she will be able to wear you for the next 5 years or so.

pusheen costume diy
From the back. I’m ridic proud of this thing.

I know it’s not the real thing, but she loves it, and I hope she continues to do so.

Also, I am always surprised when someone doesn’t know who Pusheen is. I guess not everyone lives on the internet, huh?

pusheen the cat
SPITTING IMAGE

Next up.

tiger costume diy
Zoe // tiger // hasty last-minute face paint attempts

Zoe had difficulty with her costume decisions this year. Her first idea was a puppy dog, which at first I thought would be super easy, if only she wouldn’t keep shooting down all of the great ideas my friend Pinterest came up with. Then she got super specific:

“I want to be a red and purple dog.”

“Like a red dog with purple spots?”

“No. Like redandpurple all over.” [gestures wildly around torso]

WTF.

So I was thrilled when she spotted a Tiger headband/tail combo at Party City and changed her mind. Tigers are her favorite land animal anyway. (Yes, she has specific favorites for land and sea – dolphins for sea, if you must know – and insists on only reading factual animal books. Let me tell you how fun those are at bedtime.)

And just like the gray sweatshirt, a plain orange shirt was impossible to find, so we went with the orange felt over the black tank top because it’s still in the high 80s here and it’s just getting ridiculous. The plan was to just get the front done enough for her to wear it to gymnastics last Wednesday, but I never had time to do the back or the leggings, and she was fine with it and was basically the cutest tiger ever.

diy tiger costume chica costume pusheen costume

I’m participating in the annual National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), so my posting will be more frequent that usual. Why? Because going from blogging maybe once a month to every day sounds like a great idea for someone who has commitment issues and likes to sleep a lot. Wheeeeeeeee!

Stick around! Or don’t! It’ll be fun.

NaBloPoMo November 2016

on baking and questioning your decisions

This morning at 10am I dropped Claire off at a kids’ baking school. She’s my only child without a regular activity, and since soccer and ballet and gymnastics were all a bust, I figured it was a good time to listen to her and let her pursue her current interest, no matter how fleeting it may be.

I signed her up weeks ago, but as the date neared, I started to panic. This wasn’t just a 60-minute cookie decorating workshop. This was a four-hour baking class where, while she’d be with other kids her age, she’d be pretty much on her own, without her sisters or friends.

bake austin

“What the hell was I thinking?” I asked Christian a few days before the class. “How could I have signed her up for this without thinking about how it would impact her to be alone?” Claire is Alpha Sister at home, but in new situations, she’s quite shy and unsure of herself. Growing up an intensely shy child myself, I get this. Which is probably why I panicked. There’s nothing quite like projecting your own insecurities on your children.

She was so quiet in the car, and when we pulled up to the school, a cute, eclectic little house in central Austin that serves as both the baking school and the owner’s residence, I knew she felt the impending doom of the unknown. A man came out of the house and said hi, and I mistook him for the owner (because with a name like Pascal, I had no idea if I should expect a man or a woman) and introduced myself. I may not be shy anymore, but I will forever be awkward! Luckily he was friendly, like most Austinites, and didn’t miss a beat.

I saw her trying. She found out where to put her lunch and asked the instructor about an antique whisk hanging on the wall. Pascal (who is a she, by the way!) explained what it is and showed her how to use it. She found a seat across from a boy about her age and told me she wanted me to stay. I gave her a huge hug and headed to a coffee shop a block away to spend the next four hours writing, something I don’t do nearly enough of these days. We both got something we wanted out of today, even if we were both feeling a little lonely.

I knew she’d be fine. Her shyness is not crippling. Looking back into my own childhood, I wonder how I would have handled it. I recall the sickness in the pit of my stomach when I was dropped off at an camp or an activity that was new to me, with kids I didn’t know.

Despite my reservations, I know this is good for her, but maybe I shouldn’t have expected this from her at age 8? Maybe age 9 or 10 or 11 is more appropriate for being dropped off at a four-hour baking school with no sisters or parents or friends. Maybe this is just the kind of thing she needs to acquire self confidence and a bit of individuality. As much as I try to emphasize to others that my twins are two different people, I haven’t really made it a point to emphasize it to them. Just when I think I’ve got this parenting thing nailed down, I realize I’ve missed another important step.

•     •     •     •     •

UPDATE: It’s 1:03pm and these 4 hours are flying by. I can’t wait to pick her up. I’m also starving, but the counter at this coffee shop has a constant line that I don’t want to stand in.

UPDATE, PART TWO: I stood in line. It wasn’t nearly as long as I feared, and now I have a delicious egg, bacon, avocado, and cheese taco in my hands.

UPDATE NUMBER THREE: I’m still hungry. And extremely caffeinated.

UPDATE, RESULTS EDITION: When I walked in to pick her up, she was filled with the excitement of a kid who had just had the time of her life. She diligently diligently copied the recipes for fondant, icing, and cupcakes into her little recipe card, while interrupting herself to tell me about the graveyard and the spider and monster cupcakes she’d made.

The instructor told me she was so helpful and took charge when it came to assisting others. This made my heart swell, not because I love hearing great things about my kids (I do), but because I know how nervous she was. Not just about being without her sisters, but about whether or not she could DO it. And she did.

UPDATE LAST ONE I PROMISE: Bake Austin and Cherrywood Coffeehouse. Thumbs up for both of them. Claire will be back for more baking, and I’m sure I will be back for more writing and time killing.

bake austin halloween cupcakes

what I’m watching: fashionista edition

Netflix_Logo_Print_FourColorCMYK

As a part of the Netflix Stream Team, each month I get to write about what I’m streaming on Netflix. What should I watch next?

 

If there’s one thing I am not, it’s a fashionista. I get by and I think I may have left my frumpiest early mom years behind me, but I still have no idea what makes something fashionable or worth spending a lot of money on. I live in jeans or shorts with t-shirts. And although I get there eventually, I’m easily a year or more behind new trends. Unless that trend is overalls, and then I will be years behind because that will never happen. Again.

For someone who is so fashion illiterate, I have a strange fascination with fashion documentaries. Maybe it’s because so many of them take place in New York, and I love anything about NYC. It’s a peek into a world in which I will never inhabit, one where people ogle over fabrics and cut and stitching, texture and color and feel. Just watching them makes me feel fashionable, at least until I walk by a mirror and notice my gray Old Navy t-shirt and running shorts.

Netflix has a great collection of fashion-related documentaries for anyone else who, like me, likes to live vicariously through the fashion forward.

large_ney6m88ywrbiuidax7iibwrhjaiThe First Monday in May

Fashion comes together with one of my other favorite things, art, in this documentary revolving around the planning and execution of 2014’s China-themed Met Gala. The clothing, the art, the celebrities! Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour comes together with Head Curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, Andrew Bolton. I am completely fascinated with Anna Wintour (and any high-powered creative, I suppose), and went back to read all about her life history after watching the doc. It’s so well-done and mesmerizing to watch how they put together such a huge and important event. Actually, it makes me kind of tired.

iris-apfel-documentary-movie-poster-683x1024Iris

I’ve written about Iris before. I just love this woman. At 93 (at the time the doc was released in 2014), Iris is still considered a legend and icon in the world of fashion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

81isnyi5jal-_sy445_Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the iconic Bergdorf Goodman’s in New York City. The store is famous for launching the many famous design careers. I thought I had recommended this one before, but apparently not! The doc tells all about the history of the store and how it’s expanded, and why it’s such an icon in the NYC fashion world.

 

 

 

fresh-dressed-posterFresh Dressed

Fashion isn’t always about glamorous models and fancy runways. In Fresh Dressed, we get a look at how hip-hop fashion has evolved from black culture to take on a whole new meaning.

 

 

 

 

 

the_director_cover_7911_north_499x_whiteThe Director

This intriguing look at the life and work of Gucci’s creative director, Frida Giannini, traces her career at one of the world’s biggest fashion houses. She’s only a few years older than I am, which makes me feel only slightly ordinary.

 

 

 

 

 

adventures in occlusal guards

occlusal guard

I bought myself a present the other day. An occlusal guard, aka a night guard to keep me from grinding my teeth, which gives me headaches and jaw aches, both of which make me a damn pleasant person to be around. In fact, I’m doing it right now.

Hang on, let me go get my guard.

Also, you know how annoying it is when someone keeps saying the wrong word? Like when they say PinINterest instead of Pinterest? Or “Do you twitter?” I was that person every time I called the dentist and chatted with them about my “occlusional guard.” Rhymes with delusional.

Christian was the one who alerted me of the night time teeth grinding when we moved in together 16ish years ago (today is actually our 14th wedding anniversary, yeehaw!). The fun part though is teeth grinding has now become a recurring daytime activity! It comes in waves in a combination of stress and habit.

Basically I do it when I’m thinking a lot.

Sitting at my desk and stressing over a work thing? Grind.

Lying wide awake in bed, anxious about an upcoming trip? Grind.

Juggling the afternoon activities/interactions/moods of three girls? Grind.

Fretting about writing or not writing or my place in the world? Grind.

Stuck at gymnastics with an iPhone battery that’s down to 18%? Grind.

Driving in the car and overthinking every conversation I had with everyone at that event 6 days ago? Or maybe just every single human interaction I’ve ever had? GRIND GR-GR-GRIND to the rhythm of the music!

My thoughts and I are super fun to be around.

Moving on.

A friend of mine had to wear an occlusal guard practically 24/7 for a while. She felt like a dope, but she admitted it was the only time her jaw could actually relax, which is a relief when you suffer from TMJ and grinding. I’m experiencing something similar, except the complete opposite because I’m not even sure it fits right. (Me: “It doesn’t really feel all that comfortable…In fact, it kinda hurts…” Dentist: “Well, it fits. Bye.”).

Also, instead of relaxing, I’m mostly just trying not to vomit.

I have a terrible gag reflex. Make all your jokes; I know it’s hilarious. Getting X-rays at the dentist, or putting anything foreign in my mouth, really (LAUGH IT UP), requires an act of pure strength and deep breathing exercises to keep from spitting up a healthy dose of my breakfast.

So basically I’m trying to adjust to wearing it around during the day, except for when I’m eating or drinking coffee or working out, so maybe 15 minutes? 20? I’m not grinding my teeth, but I am putting an awful lot of energy towards NOT gagging. Currently: trying not to gag. In 26 seconds: still trying not to gag.

Okay, I just had to take it out because apparently writing about gagging made me gag and I had a mini panic attack. Happy gagging/not grinding!

Zoe’s first blowout

Zoe got a blowout the other day. She’s loving her fancy straight hair, with the slight curl at the end.

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So why would I give my girl with the most gorgeous curls ever a blowout?

Because she has lice. Zoe has lice.

(Stop scratching your head. You probably don’t have it. I might though!)

It’s bound to happen, and it happens to everyone, and all that (except me! I never had lice! Until now, maybe!).

This ain’t our first lice rodeo, and it’s a little disturbing how quickly my fingers rediscovered the old method of separating the hair into the most ridiculously thin sections to comb through.

But it’s still gross and time-consuming and eye-straining. The lice are the exact same color as Zoe’s hair, so I have to depend on a really good lice comb. There’s a lot of laundry. There’s also a lot of psychosomatic scalp itching.

 

what I’m watching: addicted edition

Netflix_Logo_Print_FourColorCMYK

As a part of the Netflix Stream Team, each month I get to share what I’m streaming online. What should I watch next?

Hand to God, I have never done drugs. Unless you count that one time that I ate a pot brownie and went through the drive thru of a taco joint pretending I was speaking for a stuffed lemur who I had adopted as my long lost son.

There are many questions here. Why was there a stuffed lemur in my friend’s car? Why were we hitting up a second-rate taco joint at 1am? What did we order? Many things make sense when you’re in college, and pot-brownie-fueled breakfast taco runs make the MOST sense.

And then there was that time one of Christian’s coworkers gave him two joints for his birthday. He pulled them out of his bag only after looking over his shoulder, like the cops were standing right behind him. In our bedroom.

We never did smoke them because we are the lamest.

Meh. Whatever. We watch a lot of shows about drugs.

narcos season 2 netflix

Narcos

Season 2 of Narcos airs September 2. We blew through season 1 when it first came out. Narcos tells the story of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, how he came to power, and how DEA agents Steve Murphy and Javier Pena fight to bring him down. The show’s cast consists mostly fresh faces. Game of Thrones fans may recognize Pedro Pascal, AKA Prince Oberyn, who so far has been able to keep his face in tact. Speaking of which, we are just about to finish season 6 of GoT, just in time to get started on season 2 of Narcos.

netflix home

Home

Wait, this is a kids’ show! This isn’t about drugs! OR IS IT?

Based on the popular movie of the same name, this animated series is hilarious, and my kids are addicted to it. Like a drug. And you may feel like you are on drugs yourself. Netflix, you old enabler, you.

breaking bad netflix

Breaking Bad

Christian and I got about halfway through Breaking Bad, and I don’t know…I went out of town, and when I got back, we just never picked it back up. I hated each and every character in the show, and not like a Don Draper that you love to hate, but sometimes love. Like, I could not find one redeeming quality in anyone. But I have been told by many, many people that it’s worth carrying out until the end, and that late-seasons Jesse makes it all worth it. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

drugs in national geographic netflix

Drugs, Inc.

A documentary series from National Geographic with 2 seasons on Netflix (seasons 6 and 7), Drugs, Inc.  covers various types of drugs from production, export, sale, and consumption, and their effect on the world. I always find these kinds of documentaries fascinating, mainly because a life of crime and drugs is one that I cannot imagine (outside of my pot brownie experience STOP BRINGING IT UP).

russell brand end the drugs war
Russell Brand: End the Drugs War

I have not always appreciated Russell Brand as a comedian (it’s been a long time since I’ve seen him do standup). But I do appreciate him as an advocate for addicts. Plus he’s a phenomenal writer. I really enjoyed this piece he wrote for the Guardian a few years ago: Russell Brand: my life without drugs.

 

So what are you addicted to right now?

Bitnami