I counted the days until school. 19 days. NINETEEN DAYS.
August 26 sounds like an eternity from now, but it’s only NINETEEN DAYS. By the time you’re reading this it could very well be 18, 17, or even 16, so really the earlier you read this, the less traumatizing it is for me.
I have been struggling this summer. We haven’t gotten out of the house as much as I would have liked. I’m less inclined to take them to the YMCA since I can’t really work out. We’ve been swimming several times and splash padding a few, but not as many as I would have thought. We haven’t really been on as many adventures as I originally thought we would.
Y’all, this was my living room the other day. I just can’t. The stool and the laundry basket and the empty diaper boxes are all part of an elaborate train system. Obvs. The rest I can’t exactly vouch for.
And then I did THE COUNTDOWN, and hyperventilated a little, because nineteen days is less than three weeks. That means the next several days will be filled with school shopping, backpacks, supplies that I forgot to order at the end of last school year in the handy package that would be delivered right to their classroom like back-to-school magic.
And then I panicked that we haven’t packed enough SUMMER into our summer, and we need to go to the park and to more splash pads and to the museum. Or maybe we just need to get our money’s worth out of our Y membership and camp out at the pool every day with a picnic and a bucket of sunblock.
And then I heaved a little because FIRST GRADE! My babies will be in a number grade! No more kindergarten. Will first grade have a Teddy Bear Picnic and Polar Express Pajama Day? I surely hope so, because otherwise I’ll be feeling like it’s like the end of their childhood or something.
And then I saw a man pushing a double stroller with teeny tiny infants in it and I got all choked up and almost fell off the treadmill at the Y, because I will never have babies again. I will never watch little toddlers topple over as they’re just learning to walk, or chubby little 2-year-olds laughing and shouting “WAIN!” while signing “rain” with their hands. I will never experience words like “blowies” and “ladypop.” They’re only going to get taller and older and sassier.
And now I just want to go watch them sleep and stroke their hair and whisper creepily, “Stay leeeeeetle, mah preshuses.”
So I vow to make the most of these nineteen days (eighteen, seventeen, sixteen…). We will fun all over this town like it’s a verb and explore and get ice cream and raise the roof and etc.
And then as I drove to my physical therapy appointment the other day, I smelled a terrible, burning chemically smell that I chalked up to nearby roadwork. And then I noticed the air blowing on me wasn’t cool anymore, and there wasn’t actually any roadwork. And I texted my husband, “I think I just broke the car.”
So summer, you are officially on hold until I get my car back, and maybe you can be free, since I now have to drop $1000 on a new AC and whatever else the mechanic man said needed to be done.
Which is why my children are currently playing in the sprinkler. And the inevitable mud that ensues from the sprinkler being on in my patchy yard. And I’m pretending they won’t have mud caked in crevices in which mud should never be caked.
So, I got my feelings hurt a few weeks ago over social media. It was stupid and insignificant in the big picture of life, really. I can hear everyone now – in Christian’s voice – telling me not to let it bother me, that I need to grow thicker skin if I’m going to “be a sharer.” I know that’s true. My humor and snark mask a great deal of vulnerability. But right here, right now, my skin is pretty worn down and easy to pierce.
The TL;DR version is that I – via a joke – accidentally started a political conversation on Facebook, which resulted in me getting unfriended – which isn’t where my feelings got hurt. But my initial reaction was just one of bewilderment. Like really? Someone poses an opinion that’s different from yours and you immediately reach for the unfriend button? That’s some pretty fickle shit right there.
There’s more to this story, but what concerns me is this knee-jerk reaction that we have all come so quickly to have over social media. Someone does something we don’t like and we are OUTRAGED! Someone expresses an opinion different from ours, and suddenly they are uneducated, illogical, tree-hugging, Bible-beating, women-hating, slut-shaming, liberal hippie, conservative tightwad whatever you want to call them. It’s a never-ending cycle of moral outrage. People say things that they would likely not say to another’s face. I’ve never been so paranoid and unsure of even my closest friendships than I was during the 2012 presidential election. Not because I loved them less, but because of the things that they would say on social media that were clearly out of their in-person character.
I know that not everyone is going to gel with me, but I care what people think about me. And that’s what the unfriending really boiled down to – this person didn’t like me or my writing, and she let me know it, in her own knee-jerk reaction way. She took this opportunity to take a dig not only at my political opinions – which I never technically stated – but to take a personal dig at me, my blog, and my parenting. And for what? For the satisfaction of having the last word behind a computer screen?
I wished her well, but my knee-jerk reaction was to bring everything I’ve ever done or said into question, to scrutinize interactions, status updates, blog posts, comments because why would someone say something deliberately nasty? I’m nice! I let people know what they are having a great hair day! Sure, I’m kind of a dingbat, but I give people the benefit of the doubt, even when they have different opinions than me! And I give good hugs!
The veil of the online world is powerful, and we find ourselves saying things we would often not utter to someone’s face – at least I hope. We talk to our screens, not the people behind them. Is what you’re saying going to be constructive to the conversation? Or are you using it as an opportunity to hurt someone? Make yourself feel better for having a different opinion? Tear others down so you can feel lifted up?
There are many, many people out there who can let rudeness or unkindness roll of their back. I am not one of those people. I don’t write on controversial issues, and I don’t express many opinions on Facebook, aside from the weather (too hot! Too cold!) or the atrocity that is Smurfs 2. Not that I don’t have them, opinions, not Smurfs. I just shouldn’t have to take being torn apart by someone who thinks that their opinions matter more than mine. I’ve learned that I’d rather share those discussions with people who aren’t going to blow their top and say things that are hurtful because they’re able to say them from behind a computer screen 200 miles away.
A good friend was once wise enough to tell me that I’m not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. And that’s fine. But you don’t have to spit in the tea. That’s just gross.
Edited to add: Laura Tremaine of Hollywood Housewife posted a fantastic essay a few weeks ago that’s worth a read. Check out Facebook posts are the new bumper stickers.
When I first glanced at my photos for July, it looked like we did absolutely nothing. Sat around the house, barely clothed, mostly. Because, well, that’s pretty much what we did. There are moms who plan their summer vacation to the minute…and then there’s me, who rarely plans anything even a day in advance.
This kind of deserved a post of its own, but I never got around to it. Zoe wandered into the living room one day carrying a pair of scissors and sporting some fabulous side-swept bangs. “Did you cut your hair?” “Yeeeeaahhhh……” Apparently she’s trying to make this an annual thing. But seriously. Fabulous.
Except the next day it looked like this.
So….we went to 7-11 on 7/11 to get free Slurpees. Rachel dropped hers (of course she did), but the 7-11 dude swooped in and cleaned it up like magic. Then Claire sat down at home and drew out the whole scenario. CHECK OUT THE SPLAT AND THE TEARS. Budding artist up in here! Adding it to her portfolio.
We don’t let no road trip cramp our snuggle style.
Step 1: Open new (used) David Sedaris book. Step 2: Notice suspicious scrawlings on title page. Step 3: Google “David Sedaris’s autograph.” Step 4: OMG. Step 5: Continue through life as Debbie and/or Keith.
Quick Dallas trip for my grandmother’s funeral. Grandpa got some much needed kisses and snuggles.
Kids are fun, amirate?
I love seeing Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess) speak. She’s funny and charming and SO REAL.
Rachel and Claire almost never dance. Unless inside in a cage placed high above a crowd. Wait….
But honestly, most of our July looked like this: Sittin at home, smearing Greek yogurt on our faces, beating on a table with a wooden spoon. Like you do.
Bonus! I saw this car at the YMCA one afternoon. It says “Last day of chemo. I’m a survivor!” Go on with your bad self, girl. Or boy.
This is a sponsored post by CVS’s MinuteClinic as a part of their #GoBackHealthy Back to School Health & Safety Campaign.
I can probably count the number of times my kids have been very sick on two hands, which isn’t bad, considering there are three of them. From the time they were babies, they just haven’t gotten sick very often, save the occasional random fever. We never experienced an ear infection until Zoe was maybe 9 months, and Rachel just had her first this past year.
I try not to sweat it when something comes up. I’ve been sure someone had some terrible disease, only to find out it was a virus. I’ve been sure an illness would ride itself out, only to find out someone has the flu. Then there was that time that we were at the park when we got the call that Claire’s chest X-rays showed signs of pneumonia. Oops!
But all in all, we’ve been lucky that my girls have been so healthy, especially considering their prematurity. They get this from me. My entire family can be suffering from the plague, and I’ll be the last one standing. It’s not for lack of trying. They sneeze and cough on me like it’s their job, and I say, “Please don’t sneeze on me! Gross!” But what I’m really thinking is Please, give me just enough germs to take me down for a day. That’s all I want. One day to lay in bed and sleep all day. And have someone make me breakfast in bed.
Ask me how many times I’ve gotten breakfast in bed when I’m sick.
When Rachel and Claire started kindergarten full time, I feared our healthy streak would come to an end. They’d catch everything that floated around that school, and worse – they’d bring it home.
And they did, but luckily it was usually nothing more than another random fever that lasted a couple of days. You know, the ones that pop up on a Friday evening and lasts through Sunday, just long enough to keep them from going to school on Monday? Those are my favorite. Poor Rachel missed a field trip to the pumpkin patch in the fall thanks to one of those fevers.
Rachel did get very sick over the winter break this past year. When we made it to the doctor, she tested positive for flu (as in the test that usually takes a few minutes ended up coming back positive stronger than the control), had a raging ear infection, and based on the spots on her throat, also got treated for strep. Balls to the walls, that one.
With school starting in less than a month (PANIC!), it’s time for parents to start thinking about getting kids and their immune systems ready for all the ailments that await them. Luckily CVS’s Minute Clinic has lots of ways for parents to ensure their kids are healthy and ready to take on the school year.
- Are you caught up on vaccinations? MinuteClinic offers a variety of back-to-school vaccinations so that your kids don’t miss their first day. It is important to know your state’s requirements for vaccinations such as meningitis and pertussis. (Find out which vaccinations are required in your area here.)
- MinuteClinic also offer pre-participation sports physicals for just $39 (that’s $20 off!). Even if it’s not required, it’s important to make sure your little ones are healthy & safe to participate.
- Big kids need physicals too. Kids leaving home for college? Make sure they start off on the right foot with our college physicals.
Finally, MinuteClinic is also offering a FREE $22 coupon book when you visit. (No purchase necessary. Available while supplies last through 12/1/14.)
Are your kids ready to #GoBackHealthy? Because we haven’t waited so impatiently for the start of school just so they can spend the first day sick on the couch.
First up, I can’t believe I waited this long to attend BlogHer. Since I started blogging more publicly in late 2010 (I’ve been blogging since 2008), I’ve seen 3 BlogHers go by. At first I would say things like, “Too expensive,” and “I don’t belong there,” and “Who cares?” But as the conference rolled around, I certainly did care. And when I saw pictures of all my friends at BlogHer ’13, I was insanely jealous and bought my ticket for the next conference the minute they went on sale.
It’s hard for me to process my thoughts, because this was part conference, part vacation. I attended keynotes with amazing speakers like Arianna Huffington, Kerry Washington, Tig Notaro, and Jenny Lawson. I sat in sessions on publishing and parent-blogging. I love talking about blogging in all forms and fashions, and I had the opportunity to do that endlessly.
And every time I stepped outside, I practically shouted, “OMG, y’all, the WEATHER here!” Seriously. Amazing. Cool breezes. No humidity. I want to live in San Jose. Except the California air was not kind to my curls, so I went around looking like I was in serious need of a curl intervention.
I’ve been struggling here lately. In a session on parent-blogging, my friend Tonya said, “How could anyone ever stop writing about their kids?” And I admitted that at 6, 6, and 4, I don’t really write about my kids as much. Maybe there’s not as much new stuff going on. Or maybe I’ve just been ignoring my writing filter. Or maybe I’m so used to writing about my kids, I just can’t figure out what to write if I’m not. Because stuff is ALWAYS going on. And I need to turn my inner voice back on that wants to write about it and squash the one that says “Are you sure anyone would care about that?” Because I didn’t start this blog for anyone. I started it for me.
I felt like I belonged, which is hokey and silly, but whatever. It’s encouraging to hear that personal blogging still has a place in the internet, in the midst of so much “A monkey stole this mom’s minivan. What happens next will bow your mind!”
Best of all, BlogHer connected me with my people. It’s hard to justify the costs of a blogging conference sometimes, but I don’t feel like a single penny or airline point was wasted. Along with conference talk, I got to hang out in the pool, watch karaoke, and share a few cocktails with my blogging buddies and meet so many people that I’ve known online for years.
I stepped out of a session so I could give moral support to my roommate before she went on stage for Voices of the Year.
I gave up the chance to attend the LTYM Open Mic because I found myself in an impromptu conversation with a blogger I really loved, and I knew I wouldn’t get the chance again.
And I got to dance to music DJ’d by Rev Run of Run DMC, so you know. Your average, everyday mom experience.
And as we got up at 4 am on Thursday for my flight out, my husband kept repeating the mantra:
“The flight was $5. The flight was $5. The flight was $5.”
Did you attend BlogHer ’14? What did you think?
Also, thanks so much to the BlogHer team who worked so hard to not only put the conference together, but also to keep us all on the up and up via the Facebook group. So good to meet Melisa in person and see Momo again. I can’t wait to do this next year.
Let’s just start here: You will get approximately 1.7 hours of sleep per night.
Despite the fact that the floor of your tent is lined with a nice, foam camping mat, you will spend your evening in the 12 inch wide section that is NOT covered. On a bed of rocks and sticks, on an incline, sucking face with the nylon wall of the tent, while the rest of your family sleeps soundly and comfortably on the foam mat.
There will be breakfast tacos, burgers, hot dogs, fajitas, sandwiches, queso, and fruit. The kids will feast on chips and Nutella sandwiches and juice boxes.
Your kids will enjoy an unprecedented amount of time outside.
And when they get bored you can encourage them to “explore!” and “go find some sticks!” and “dig in that dirt pile!” It’s like nature’s scavenger hunt.
You will make the trek to the bathroom approximately 84 times, or every 5 minutes.
Because your kids are careful NEVER to have to go at the same time.
You’ll teach them to pee in the lake.
You’ll teach them to pee in the woods.
Your daughter will refuse to poo in the public potty.
But she has no problem dropping trou a mere ten feet from your neighbor’s enormous camper, where you’ll find her pants around ankles and her business at her feet, calling for someone to wipe her rear.
So then you’ll have “the talk” about certain business which should be done in privacy, not where someone can have a clear view when they look up from their air conditioned game of Spades.
“Stay away from the fire.”
“You’re too close to the fire.”
“Don’t wave around the sticks that you just lit on fire.”
You will end up with burn holes in your camping chairs.
And probably your favorite t-shirt.
You’ll let your kids stay up later than usual because camping! S’mores! Beer! (For you, I mean.)
They will repay you by rising with the sun.
The sun which will rise earlier than it ever has in the history of the world.
And of course you have a clear view because a) you are already awake thanks to the cozy rock/stick bed, and b) tents don’t exactly come with blackout curtains.
And they’ll start whispering sweet nothings into your ear, like “WHERE IS EVERYONE?” and “CAN WE MAKE CINNAMON ROLLS?” and “I HAVE TO GO POTTY.”
You will start to shush them, but quickly give up, because fuck it, you’re camping. Welcome to Mother Nature, bitches.
Where are everyone’s shoes?
“I CAN’T HOLD IT I CAN’T HOLD IT I CAN’T HOLD IT!”
Between 4 families, You have 2 electric skillets, 1 crock pot, 1 griddle, 13 spatulas, 8 rolls of toilet paper, 72 juice boxes, and NO COFFEE MAKER.
But you find a Diet Pepsi to mainline for the time being.
So you’ll pull up a camping chair, take a hit of your caffeine laced aspartame, watch your kids enjoy some good, old fashioned dirt digging, and relax.
Until someone has to go to the potty.
I do not come from an apologizing family. We reconcile, but we do not apologize. We sweep under the rug, but we don’t say the words.
The only time I ever remember apologizing to my mother for something I had done was because she forbade me to join my friends in our regular Friday night outing to the neighborhood skating rink. Holed up in my room, I crafted a saccharine sweet letter, and in that letter I apologized for my wicked teenage behavior. I decorated the edges with flowers and made lavish promises of extra chores, if only she would let me go out. I folded it into thirds, carefully printed her name on the front – MOM – and delivered it to her in the living room, where she sat watching TV. Then I scurried back to my bedroom so I wouldn’t have to watch her read it.
A few minutes later she opened my door. We weren’t a knocking family either. I knew she was calling my bluff. I wasn’t sorry for what I had done or the way I had acted. I was sorry I was being punished, sorry I was going to miss out on a fun night, and sorry I wasn’t going to get to see – not talk to, mind you, but see – the boy I had a crush on. I mean, the fate of my romantic future could have very well rested on this trip to the skating rink.
She relented, and I rushed off to join my friends, but the argument, and my pseudo attempt at a genuine apology letter, put a damper on the evening that no amount of laughter and gossiping could lift. I had cheated and won, but my winnings were bitter and left a bad taste in my mouth. The boy I so desperately wanted to see wasn’t even there that night. Perhaps he too was being punished for his own terrible teenage behavior. In the end, it was a waste of a good apology letter, and I was still stuck doing the extra chores.
Not long into our relationship, my husband let me know that my habit of not apologizing wasn’t going to fly.
“You can’t act like this this,” he would say, as I huffed and gave him the silent treatment if he so much as disagreed with which CD to play on a road trip. Sometimes I would walk away in my anger. One time I actually hopped in my car and drove off, only to return, because I didn’t really have anywhere to go.
With his help, and more often with his example, I learned to swallow my bitter-tasting pride and say those two, gut-wrenching words: “I’m sorry.” And I had to mean it. With time it got easier, and I learned that bucking up and acknowledging my fault felt much better than fuming and going to bed angry, the excruciating act of lying mere inches apart from one another, trying so hard not to touch. After almost twelve years of marriage, it’s almost second nature for one of us to relent and say “I’m sorry,” if only for the sake of agreeing to disagree.
Apologizing comes a little more naturally now, which is good, because as your typical flawed mother, I’ve been apologizing to my children pretty much since the day they were born.
I’m sorry my body wasn’t fit to carry you full term.
I’m sorry, I don’t know why you’re crying.
I’m sorry your sister inexplicably kneed you in the forehead. Maybe you shouldn’t keep your head so close to her knee next time.
It rolls off my tongue now, effortlessly. Maybe I really do say it that often. Sorry. Oops! There I go again.
Back when I was a perfect mother – you know, before I had kids – I swore that I wanted my children to be able to talk to me, to approach me. Confront me, apologize to me, and I to them. I didn’t want to raise a family of sweepers, those who don’t know how to admit their wrongs, or at least assuage a situation. I wanted no awkwardness, no pretending it didn’t happen.
Now that I do actually have children, I’m sadly no longer that perfect mother. I get the chance to apologize to my children a lot. Not just for things beyond my control, like my failing pregnancy health or the inconsolable wails of an infant or two. Now I have the chance to use my apologizing skills for a whole new set of fuck ups.
I’m sorry I yelled at you. I shouldn’t have reacted that way.
I’m sorry, but no I don’t know where you put your [insert favorite, minuscule little toy of the day here].
I’m sorry I forgot to pick you up from early release that time….and that other time.
I’m sorry. I’m not perfect. I’m trying my best.
My twins are six now and full of drama that I wasn’t prepared for at such an early age. One of them in particular often declares vast injustices in her life and takes to her bed. No amount of reconciling or reasoning with her will do. Voices are raised, and I often find myself staring after her in disbelief as she runs from the room, then checking my watch to make sure I have not fast forwarded 10 years. If you are the praying type, please pray for me in the upcoming teen years.
Her mood swings usually indicate that she’s tired or hungry. I know this, but she doesn’t. I know to give her some space, because we both need it. After some time has passed, one of us will relent. I’ll go curl up next to her in her bed, or she’ll seek me out in the kitchen. She’ll lean her head into my belly, stick her left thumb in her mouth, and grab my shirt with her remaining fingers, a stronghold to anchor her to me.
“I’m sorry, Mommy,” she’ll say. And she’ll mean it.
“I’m sorry too,” I reply. And I do too.
Disclaimer: Members of the Run or Dye blogging promotional team will receive compensation and admission to this event in exchange for this promotional post.
I’m just going to come right out and say it – I miss running.
Since I’ve been laid up with sciatica due to a herniated disc, I’ve been resigned to long walks around the neighborhood, which aren’t terrible, but when you’re used to running, going for a walk can be agonizing. But I plug in my earbuds, dial up a little This American Life podcast on my phone, and traverse the neighboring streets, hoping to catch a glimpse or two into a house that hasn’t closed up their blinds for the evening. Don’t mind me! Just checking out your paint color.
If I can’t run, the next best thing is trying to get other people to run. With so many different races these days, it’s super easy and fun to get involved in running. That’s why I teamed up with Run or Dye, the world’s most colorful 5k, to help promote their Austin race. Just a 5k! That’s only 3 miles. You can do that in your sleep. But I wouldn’t recommend it.
Run or Dye is headed to the Travis County Expo Center on August 30, 2014. Everyone is invited to run this color-blasted 5k, where participants get showered in safe, eco-friendly, plant-based cornstarch dye every kilometer. Afterwards you and your friends can enjoy the world-famous Dye Festival in an ultimate celebration of life, friendship, fitness, and fun. And color. There will be color.
Register for Run or Dye Austin through THIS LINK and use the code BLOGAUSTIN to save $10 off registration. (The code expires August 23rd!)
If you join a team, you can save another $5.
I JUST GAVE YOU $15, PEOPLE.
Also, see below because I’m giving away TWO codes for free admission!
But Leigh Ann, you say. I can’t run! you say.
Look. Last year when I trained for a half marathon, I had tons of people tell me they couldn’t run. And that’s okay. Participants in Run or Dye are welcome to run OR walk. Or dance. Or skip. You can even bring the kids! Ages 6 and under get to participate for FREE! Maybe they can even pull you in a wagon.
Or maybe a giveaway will help?
Enter below for your chance to win two codes for free admission to Run or Dye in Austin, TX on August 30th, 2014. Giveaway ends 8/9/2014 at 11:59pm. Winner will be send the codes via email within 48 hours of the end of the giveaway.
The city has been repaving the roads in our neighborhood. Cheaply. They lay down some tar, then a layer of little black pebbles, and the pressure of the cars driving on the road is supposed to press the pebbles into the tar. I guess regular old cement is so 20th century.
The thing is, there are parts of the road, like corners and edges, where the cars weren’t able to do their job of pressing the pebbles into the road. Sidewalks and driveways end up littered with these little black pebbles, just waiting for a kid to wipe out on a bike or scooter. So on a walk, when we came to one of these corners that was littered with little black pebbles, Christian called a halt.
“Time to turn around!” he called, gesturing to lead his pack the other direction.
So I was like, “What? Why?”
And he said, “There’s rocks all over the sidewalk!”
And of course the kids had no shoes on, because we never really meant to go on a walk, but sometimes you’re just eating popsicles in your driveway and the next thing you know, you’re trekking across the neighborhood.
So I said, “Oh come on. It’s just a few harmless pebbles. You never walked around barefoot as a kid? Back in our day, we only put shoes on to go to church!” If even that! Okay, I lie. I grew up in Dallas, where we practically wore heels to bed.
And he was all, “Things are different now! More dangerous!”
And I kinda looked at him like he was kinda maybe getting a little irrational, “…Like the rocks are sharper?”
In the end, the kids traversed the perilous rock garden of 2014 with only minimal fanfare, and we all made it back home with our feet in tact. Sometimes Christian actually does have me partially convinced that he never a) went anywhere barefoot, b) played with dirt, or c) did anything gross or boyish or wretch-inducing.
Although he does have mighty soft feet.