Fakebook Confessions

Recently, this blog by Sarah Tuttle-Singer implored parents to stop telling lies on the internet and sparked  conversations all over the web. I love it. Not because I think we are lying to our friends, but because I love the reality of our lives. I want to see the reality of your day and I want to show you mine. We relate to each other and bond over our imperfections. I like to think I keep it pretty real online. I wrote a whole blog about feeding my kids macaroni for dinner. But, like everyone else, I also polish and sugarcoat quite a bit, too.

  • I was around in the days of MySpace and I have teenager daughters. I know about angles and I use them to create the perfect profile picture. I’m also proficient as using the crop feature to “clean the house” or chop off ten pounds. And my roots are so bad even Sharkboy knows they are tacky. He said, “Mommy, why is your hair all black up there and red and yellow down here? You can wear my hat outside.” That can be cropped off in pictures, too! If cropping doesn’t clean the house or hide my roots well enough I can use Instagram to hide the mess in the shadows.
  • Speaking of pictures, I take about one hundred pictures hoping to get one decent shot of my kids. I have begged them and bribed them to just please stand still for one minute. I used to hit myself over the head with things to make Sharkboy look at me. Little S will give me a model smile just long enough to get my hopes up and then dash away. For every picture I upload I have a dozen more of them running the other direction or clawing each other’s eyes out.

    A typical photo shoot with Sharkboy and Little S

    A typical photo shoot with Sharkboy and Little S

  • I love to brag about cute things the boys do to show each other love but I rarely mention that long before Sharkboy asked if he could sing Little S a lullaby he also asked if I would please put him to bed so he could do his puzzle alone.
  • I almost never discuss what it is like to live with two teenage girls, other than to say how lovely it is to have help with the boys since The Barkeep is gone so much. Do you know what it is like to live with two teenage girls when you are not a teenage girl? So. Much. Snark.
  • I blocked all of my friends’ friends that pissed me off during election season.
  • I hid a few of my own friends… they probably hid me, too.
  • I set all my app activity to private, hoping no one would notice I play SimCity Social.
  • I like bacon and Nutella… but not together and not as much as the internet wants me to. I really do love that maple bacon donut as much as I said I did, though.
  • For every one post you can see on my main newsfeed there are probably five others posted in private groups.
An evening out with The Barkeep according to Facebook

An evening out with The Barkeep according to Facebook

How it really went down ;)

How it really went down 😉

What are YOUR Facebook confessions? Post them on my Facebook page or find me on Twitter. Use the hashtag #nomorefakebook and be sure to stop be Kveller.com where it all started.

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My Mind May Wander But My Values Remain

I’m  in the middle of planning my Fourth And Final First Birthday Party for Little S on Sunday. Page Six predicts it to be a spectacular gathering of our city’s most beautiful and dazzling… no wait, that was Pamela Anderson’s party, her birthday is the same weekend. As far as I know our city has no equivalent to Page Six and if it does I prefer to remain unaware. Little S will celebrate his Seuss themed party at our bar, hopefully on the patio, but who knows in the ridiculous humidity.

In the midst of this I am also feeling some pressure about how I raise my teenage daughters. It may be unintentional, but it is still stressful. No matter how confident you feel as a parent any indication that you may be doing something wrong can make you question yourself. Being bluntly told that you are a bad parent feels like a punch in the stomach. I had never experienced it until a few years ago but I will never forget that feeling and now even less harsh criticisms sting like salt on a wound.

As I paint, cook and craft in preparation for the party I have too much time to think. I’m not used to this anymore and my mind wanders easily. I have never been a typical parent and that only becomes more obvious as my kids get older and more numerous. My goal has never been to raise the best behaved children, but rather, I choose to raise decent and loving people. Their good behavior seems to be a side effect of that goal. My kids are normal kids. They throw fits, roll their eyes and talk back. Sometimes they fall down begging for shoes that they never wear after the first day or haircuts that they hate within a week. I’ve walked out of stores in the middle of tantrums and thrown my hands up in exasperation. I’m not trying to claim a Mother of The Year Award of portray my children as angels, but honestly, they really are good kids. They do normal kid things, appropriate for their age, but they also do  exceptional and amazing things that make my heart swell and fill me with pride.

Every parent has different goals for their children. That is why we parent so differently and judge each other so harshly.  My goal is to raise people that do what is right, not out of fear of punishment or repercussion, but because they know it is right. I want them to be open minded and tolerant but not so tolerant they accept situations they know are wrong.

Like all parents, I also want to protect them from danger, Again, we all have different ideas about what is dangerous and how to protect them. I don’t want to shelter my children because I feel that can be as dangerous as not protecting them at all. Just as exposure to illnesses builds our immune system and exposure to the cold builds our tolerance, exposure to life builds our strength to endure and thrive. It’s difficult to find the balance between allowing them to experience a full life and protecting them from serious harm.

Not one of us will get it right. Not one of us will be the perfect parent. And even when you come as close to your goals as you possibly can someone else who does not understand your viewpoint will judge the situation from their own.

This isn’t how the thought process plays out in mind, for the record. I bandy about the phrases “judgmental pricks” and “just wait until their kids get older” quite a bit. That is one thing people never seem to understand when they do not have children or their own children are still very young. My teenagers are my babies. I feel just as fiercely protective and loving of my 17 year old as I do my tiny almost one year old baby. My 13 year old daughter is not one speck less important to me than my toddler. When I consider my parenting choices I am fully aware that they are teenagers but you must also realize that  not so long ago they were not the young ladies that roll their eyes and stomp away, they were tiny babies learning to walk and precious toddlers saying silly things that I wrote down so I would never forget.

Our children learn and grow and become new people everyday. Every phase, every moment, has its ups and downs, but inevitably every phase ends. It’s a somber thought, as you consider your baby or toddler, laughing and hugging and loving with abandon the way only the very young can. But this phase, no matter how much you love it, must end in order for your preschool child to amaze you with her many talents that you did not recognize in a younger child or for your pre-teen to impress you with how he handled a bully at school or for your teenager to blow you away with her understanding of humanity. And someday your children will be adults, and maybe have children of their own, but they will never stop being the baby you rocked to sleep, the toddler who’s owies you kissed, the child that said “I love you, too” for the first time.

How can we be expected to stop baby proofing their world?

But we must. We must allow them to live and learn and grow from their experiences. Just as I joked that I skipped the foam rubber padding on our coffee table and let Goldy learn the hard way not to run around the furniture, I must also let them learn to navigate outside our home and outside the somewhat controlled confines of the school.

That doesn’t mean I have to do it your way.

My daughters are still young but they are old enough for me to know that for all of my questions and all of my mistakes I must be doing a pretty damn good job. I won’t do everything the same with my sons. I’m at a different phase in my life, too. The world is already a different place. The only thing I can say for certain that I will do the same is to parent according to my own beliefs and my own goals.

I’m going to have my baby’s first birthday in a bar. I’m sure people will talk. I want them to know this is my Fourth And Final First Birthday Party. “This ain’t my first time at the rodeo.” I have my own set of values, my own set of goals. I don’t need yours.

How To Survive A Road Trip With Your Kids

Drink.

I’m kidding. I don’t drink nearly as much as I write about it. Shhh… that’s our secret.

Kids are portable. Never use them as an excuse not to go to the places you’ve pinned on Pinterest. That being said, hitting the road with a little one on board can be an overwhelming idea. We have not been out of town since Sharkboy was a Sharkbaby so Little S is about due for a trip. When SB was 4 months old we took a road trip across the southwest to visit my Grandma and attend The Barkeep’s friend’s wedding. We saw 10 states in 10 days. We could have flown but I am so glad we didn’t. In case my love of the movie Cars didn’t give it away, I love road trips. I don’t want to fly over anything, not even flyover states. I want to see everything that every state has to offer, from mountains and cactuses to lakes and fields to skylines and a Starbucks on every corner, and more importantly, I want my kids to see it all. Obviously, at 4 months old Sharkbaby didn’t retain much of what he saw but he can say he got his first tooth on the road and celebrated hisfirst St. Patrick’s Day by the mountains. Beauty and Goldy can tell stories about the creepy late night restaurant we stopped at the night we discovered SB’s tooth, the friendly gentleman in the Oklahoma gas station, the cow concert in Texas and their first trip to Vegas. We saw the Hoover dam but it was the middle of the night and there was construction holding up traffic. We witnessed nearly every way to pee in a desperate situation that you can imagine and one member of our group even had to pee in a plastic cup from a convenience store and dump it out, so we experienced a true road trip.

(Photo By Flickr user Idiolector)

We are scheduled to hit the road again next weekend, just a short drive to the next state over, but like I said, we haven’t been out of  state since the spring of 2010 because every single penny we make is going into the addition on our house and keeping our kids alive. That being said, we recently sold “The First Bar” in favor of one that actually generates an income, and I have been watching the Monster Princess for extra money, too. We have a wedding to attend and plan to turn it into a short weekend getaway for the family.

I can’t write about road trips, especially not this one, without telling you about a very special group of women who will, coincidentally, also be hitting the road next weekend. My love of road trips led me to a book that led me to a forum that led me to belonging to something special. I think everybody craves belonging, but maybe it is just me because I am a little weird and never seem to fit in any one group very well. This group, the Swirl, was almost entirely female, other than that we spanned every variety of everything; every political belief, every religious background, every sexual orientation, every stage of relationships, every level of education. Gay, straight, atheist, Jewish, Catholic, polygamist, happily married with children, childfree, socialist, right wing republican, slutty, prude… I can’t stress enough how diverse we are! The only thing we have in common is attitude, strong opinions with a strong desire to share them. That, and possibly a love of the open road, wanderlust, a desire to keep going. The Swirlers will be hitting the road by car, train and plane next weekend to meet up inWashington and I am insanely jealous but pleased that I will be travelling with my own family to enjoy a family celebration. I will be with my friends in spirit and can’t wait to hear about their trip.

On With The Planning!

First, and this is very important, own a Dodge Caravan with stow and go. Okay, it doesn’t have to be a Dodge Caravan, I hear there are other vehicles with stow and go, but the Caravan has the added benefit of a high safety rating, 7 seats, ease of moving around inside and doors that open and close with the key fob. If you are not familiar with stow and go you should check it out. There is space in the floor of the vehicle to stow the seat when you need to haul something, or, if you are hauling a whole family, there is space in the floor to stow your luggage. This frees the rest of the space in the car up for people, stuff to do and a cooler. Ours is also equipped with a DVD player, which I do not allow except on trips lasting more than an hour, and even then I’d prefer they just look out the damn window, but sometimes it comes in handy. I know a lot of people are like, “Minivans are for squares and parents,” but we are kind of squares because we don’t care if we look like parents. We are parents. I picked a vehicle that fit my needs and I will rave about it whenever I get a chance. We love it.

Packing The Van

Your overnight luggage goes in first, we keep ours in the floor compartment. For a long trip I would suggest packing a lot of items that can be mixed and matched to wear together so you can pack less. Bring layers that go nicely over all your outfits in case of bad weather. (I am working under the assumption, like me, you will never purposely travel to somewhere colder than where you already are. Because, why?) Don’t forget the BabyLegs! Not only are they great layers for the little ones but the whole family can use them as arm warmers.  I swear I’m not on their payroll. Remember to pack for comfort during drives. I understand you want to look good in vacation photos but no one looks good miserable. Comfort, then vanity. When I pack I make a list from head to toe. It looks something like this:

  • hair  products, blow dryer (the hotel dryers don’t cut it), comb, brush, hair bands
  • make up, face cleanser, eye makeup remover
  • toothbrush, paste, etc.
  • jewelry
  • body lotion, body wash
  • feminine hygiene products (even if it’s not expected, just in case)
  • clothes
  • shoes, walking shoes
  • plastic bags to store clothese once they are too dirty to rewear

Obviously this is an oversimplified list but you get the idea. I then repeat the process for the kids. Older kids like my teenagers can pack their own bag but I give them a list and ask  them to the point smart-mouthiness if they have certain items we can’t just purchase on the road, like their glasses.

Another item that gets packed first is the pack and play. If you are bringing a baby then definitely bring this staple. Some hotels claim they have portable cribs but they are often 20 years old and I wouldn’t even put my dog in one, if I had a dog. If it’s not good enough for my hypothetical dog it’s not good enough for your baby. Don’t forget Baby’s special blanket, stuffed animal or other lovey. We have a “ba” and two Scout puppies, one for each boy. Ba is Sharkboy’s blanket and he can sleep without it but he loves it.  The puppies say their names and sing lullabies we custom downloaded from the LeapFrog website. We play them every night and I think it is best to stick with a bedtime routine as much as possible on the road. After you have packed your luggage into the van and anything else you need for the overnight portion of your trip it is time to load up for the actual driving portion of your road trip.

Eating (and drinking!) On The Road

Reuse empty cartons of milk or juice as water bottles. You will need a lot of water, especially if you have a bottle fed baby on board. Bring them already full and remember to refill them any time you stop somewhere with water that you know is clean. Also refill your cooler with ice at these stops.

A few ideas for packing the cooler:

  • berries and grapes are already bite size,
  • raw veggies for dipping, we like sugar snap peas and carrots because they hold up longer
  • veggie dip
  • diced chicken breast and/or turkey breast
  • cheese cubes (obviously, always bring cheese)
  • squeezable yogurt – These can be frozen treats, too, as long as your cooler allows. Check the label, some of these are almost all sugar, no one wants that on a car trip.
  • Bacardi

That list is far from all inclusive, I just covered the basic food groups like protein, fruits, veggies and rum.

Other food to pack:

  • trail mix – Don’t buy it, customize your own with your family’s favorite stuff. Some possibilities are nuts (packed with good fat, protein and fiber!), whole grain cereals and dried fruits. You may want to put a little container of chocolate chips in the cooler to throw in the mix right before you eat it. Don’t store them in there or you will have chocolate covered nuts and berries. Yummy but messy.
  • squeezable fruits and vegetables – These are often found in the baby aisle and you have to check the labels to make sure you are getting the good ones, but when you find them you have hit the convenience food jackpot.
  • baked crackers – Goldfish come in a variety of flavors and they smile back.

Bring inexpensive containers to use as dishes, the kind you buy to send leftover holiday food home. You can also find inexpensive take and toss dishes in the children’s food aisle at most stores. This way you can wash and reuse it (not just on this trip, but in the future, too) and you won’t miss it if it gets lost or too soiled to pleasantly continue the trip with you. I pack our dishes with the non-perishable food items and reuse a plastic bag from the grocery store to hold the used ones. They can be washed in any sink if you also pack a travel size dish soap.

You will want to try to keep the kids drinking as much water as possible but when that fails dilute their juice. Sharkboy has only had “straight” juice a few times at restaurants and he looks like he just snorted a line of Pixie sticks afterwards.

Assuming you are not driving for awhile you’re going to need to dilute your rum, too. I recommend Diet Pepsi even though this poses one major problem. You’re going to need to pee. A lot. So don’t forget to pack toilet paper in your emergency kit. (More on that soon.) It is very likely that you will need to pee more than anyone else if you’re drinking. That is the great thing about bringing kids, they need to get out of their seats often so you always have an excuse to stop and pee.

**I recommend researching your route before you leave. Find cool, offbeat restaurants for the nights you choose to stop and eat. Map out interesting local attractions for short breaks. Have a picnic at a local park. I want my family to experience the culture of the area we are visiting, not just drive past unaware of the difference. Every stop should reflect that desire, even a quick bathroom break, if possible. If you must pee on the side of the road use it as a teaching opportunity for your children. There is an art to peeing while standing if you are a female and it’s about time your daughter’s learned about it. Speaking of bathroom breaks… **

Adventures In Diaper Changing

When Sharkboy was just a Sharkbaby I changed his diaper on the bathroom floor of a dirty roadside convenience store. Now that I have to drag so many little ones outside to play everyday it has occurred to me it is much nicer to lay down a blanket and change them in the grass. You might get strange looks from other customers but its better than laying your baby down next to a dead cockroach. I always carry anti-bac in case we need to make a change or use the restroom somewhere that does not provide soap or running water. If you are near a town or city and are not planning a fun roadside stop at an attraction, restaurant or museum then look for Target or another family friendly store that will have clean, well supplied restrooms with a changing table.

Sharkbaby showing off his roadtrip outfit during a quick bathroom floor diaper change at Casey’s General Store

For older kids that can read and write start a journal. On each page ask a question about the trip and let each child answer it themselves when they get bored of looking out the window or if they start to fight. Ask about the weather, the most interesting thing they have seen so far or what they are looking forward to. Write down any memorable quotes from your trip and later add photos of silly things you saw and did on the road.  Encourage everyone to be part of journaling.

We play two different alphabet games, depending on what kind of road we are on. In town we like to search for the letters of the alphabet in order. Whoever gets to Z first wins. We just shout out A in Wal-Mart, B in Dress Barn, etc. On the interstate where signs are sparse we play as a group and search for things around us that start with each letter. A for airplane, B for birds, sometimes you have to get really creative. We do allow the use of actual letters for some of the trickier ones, like the X in an exit sign.

Another fun game is the scavenger hunt. Write (or draw for little ones) a list of things to find on your trip and check them off as you go. For example, on our trip across the SW some of the things we searched for included a cactus, an Elvis impersonator, and a pink semi. This can be fun if you include some socializing possibilities, such as, an “authentic” farmer. Dare your kid to ask the guy in bib overalls if he does, in fact, work on a farm. Be polite and have fun meeting people on the road. Be safe, obviously.

I recommend bring a wrap, slung or other carrier for your trip, as well. We first used an inexpensive Snugli and jeep brand carrier. Both work well for us but I was later told they’re not the best for little boys and legs. I just ordered a mei tai for Little S that I can’t wait to try out.  Sharkboy is just under the weight limit if he needs a rest. We have a wonderful double stroller but it is bulky. An umberella stroller is an alternative if you’re not into babywearing, but give it a try, you might be!

My whole family, pre-Little S, perched on the chasm of doom known as The Grand Canyon. The Barkeep is wearing Sharkbaby in a carrier.

**Pick up a map at a rest stop and teach your children how to use it. Talk about the symbols, show them the legend, teach them how to calculate distance. Encourage them, to help watch for your next turn. These skills are becoming obsolete in the era of GPS and smart phones but education trumps technology. Your mind never runs out of batteries or gets lost at a rest stop, not literally anyway.**

Timing Is Everything

If possible, start your trip in the evening so the kids can sleep through their own state that they are already familiar with. Try to plan stops at attractions and parks for the time that little ones are usually awake and let them sleep during their normal naptime. (This may be a good time for a movie?) Try to keep meals at their routine times. This will help eliminate a lot of crankiness.

Links 

http://www.roadsideamerica.com/

http://www.roadtripamerica.com/

http://www.sillyamerica.com/index.html

And Don’t Forget

  • Your  badass hat and sunglasses! No matter how greasy your hair gets gets and no matter how dark the circles under your eyes are you can still look      fabulous in your Supermom disguise!
  • A camera. Maybe one for the kids.
  • Your  towel.

A very special thank you to all the Swirlers but especially these few for helping me with this blog: Exclamation, GypsySpice, Roxeigh, TIGRRRSEYE

`

How Not To Scar Your Children: Part One

Last night I took a shower at midnight. I couldn’t sleep, I knew I wouldn’t have time for one in the morning and it’s the only way to be truly alone in my house. If everyone is sleeping no one needs to use the potty rightthisveryminute or barge in for eyeliner or knock on the door with questions. This gave me time to enjoy the finer things in life like leaving conditioner on for the recommended amount of time, exfoliating with my daughter’s body wash and other luxuries.

When I got out I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and realized my stay-at-home-mom tan had gotten out of control. I’m a glowing white Irish girl that spends as much time outside with the kids as possible. My flip flop tan lines are enviable but the tan ends just above my knees. My arms are a lovely bronze but my chest is barely beige. After almost no consideration or forethought I decided to use the sunless tanning lotion I had leftover from last summer. Don’t worry, I know what I’m doing.

How To Use Sunless Tanning Lotion:

  • Make      yourself a drink. I prefer Bacardi and Diet Pepsi but you can switch up  the recipe to fit your needs.
  • Use a  good brand. Sometimes you get what you pay for. Don’t buy this stuff at the dollar store. I like Loreal. The gradual types are wonderful for luminescent girls like myself.
  • Exfoliate. It feels good. Slough off the dead skin cells.
  • Use a light layer of lotion on your wrinkles and creases, around your knees and ankles and such.
  • Wash  your hands after applying it to each area so you don’t get a build up on your hands. Use hot water and soap.
  • When you are done, use a tissue to wipe around the wrinkles and creases and anywhere else the lotion may have built up.
  • Do not get dressed for 15-20 minutes. Let it soak in and dry up.
  • Clean  up mistakes with facial astringent on a tissue.
  • Finish your drink. Look fabulous

Just be aware, you may look fabulous, but you stink. Even the pretty scented tanning lotions I picked up at Bath And Body Works smell awful. Don’t do this before you go out on the town. A random Tuesday at midnight is a good time to start.

I applied my sunless tanning lotion in peace, taking time to make it worthwhile, and on a whim I used some of the leftover lotion from my arms on my face. I have to be really careful with this because even though I have pretty good skin it doesn’t take much to upset the balance and give myself a raging zit. Also, as you can imagine, there are a lot of ways to mess your face up with sunless tanning lotion. (All the same steps as above but use a lot of regular face lotion on your angles and around the eyebrows, ears, mouth and hairline.) Don’t worry, I’ve got this covered.

This particular sunless tanner boasted “instant radiance” and I was indeed able to admire a very light tan immediately. I was quite pleased with it… until I looked in the mirror. My face was not orange or blotchy or even covered in acne.

I was sparkling light a Twilight vampire. I blinked and did a double take but it was not from the Bacardi. “Instant radiance” is apparently code for “enough glitter to relive 1999.” I washed it in hot water, then cold, then scrubbed it with astringent but I already knew it was useless. I lived through 1999 the first time, I know how hard body shimmer is to remove and I know how absurd it looks on a face.

So, here I am on this random Wednesday with my ultra sparkly, mildly radiant facial tan, thinking this is probably one of the least embarrassing looks I’ve sported while dropping the girls off at school. I’m an embarrassing mom sometimes. I try to keep in mind how important their social life and outward image is at this age but they need to respect that sometimes their ride to school is my social life and I rarely have time to remember I have an outward image.

It is for this reason that I decided our family deserved some level of anonymity while I write this blog. I’m aware that most readers came here because I begged you to on Facebook so you know exactly who I am. I’m slowly pulling in more readers though and I’d like to embarrass my children as little as possible.

That is why I am giving them ridiculous, embarrassing nicknames instead of using their real names. I suspect that from time to time I will write things about our family that they do not want to be associated with. Little S is my 10 month old that slithers like a Little Snake and he is little and his name starts with S. Sharkboy is my 2 year old son. He had a full set of teeth by the time he was one and unfortunately he uses them aggressively at times. My 17 year old daughter, Goldilocks, or more likely, Goldy, because I am lazy, has locks of gold. Beauty is incredibly vain. I’m kidding but she did pick her own nickname. I believe her excuse was that she loved Belle from Beauty and the Beast and we often use Belle as a suffix to her real name. (Begging the question, why not Belle?)  Confusingly enough, in contrast to Goldy, Beauty also has dark hair and eyes like Belle. Her “boyfriend” was shocked to discover she would not be having a quinceanera. (Boyfriend is in quotes because, seriously, they are 13.)

The Barkeep was hard to name because I don’t expect him to like anything I pick. I thought about The Grill Master but in case you have not noticed I like to keep it short. I have been up every 5 minutes while writing this to drag Little S away from Sharkboy, the cats, the DVR, the mess in the corner… I can’t be expected to type out long names.

Now that you’ve met my family feel free to tell me a little about yours.

What We Really Want For Mother’s Day: Batsmoke

I can’t speak for all mothers but I feel confident speaking for most stay at home or work at home (with children present) mothers on the subject of “Oh my god, I need a lifetime supply of Batsmoke.” Thank you Pregnant Chicken for giving it a clever, male friendly name.

http://www.pregnantchicken.com

My kids are pretty good kids. I mean, obviously, I think they’re awesome. Sharkboy put two triangle blocks together and called it a rhombus and I took about 20 pictures and sent them to various friends and family members. Little S has enough video footage to start his own YouTube channel. I dig my kids. I’m just saying, you know, behavior wise, they are pretty good. Little S likes to pull the cats’ tails and shriek a lot and pull all of the wipes out of the wipey box. Sharboy sometimes says, “I want milk,” followed quickly by, “No, I can’t want milk!” I sometimes feel like I’m taking part in a secret psychological exam. I’ve been blessed with unusual teenagers that are mostly compliant and that don’t sneak out of the house or steal things or if they do they are good enough at it not to get caught which sometimes is good enough, but even good teenagers can be exhausting. They “forget” important things. They procrastinate. Just, you know, stuff, that has to be dealt with.  I should probably mention at some point, we only have one vehicle. This is one of the choices we make to make our stay at home parent situation work. Maybe when this one is paid off we can afford insurance on a second one, but until then we prefer to spend any extra money on driving somewhere fun together instead of driving two seperate cars.  So, I spend all day with five little bitties and all evening with two little ones and two teens who generally disappear into their rooms and only come out to inform me they forgot something extremely important that needs dealt with immediately or to ask if we have any eggs because, “Oh yeah, my egg drop project is due at 6am tomorrow so can you drop me off at school around the same time you normally roll out of bed… and help me do my whole project?”

Sometimes my boyfriend comes home and I have an immediate need to buy… Chapstick, for the diaper bag. I like to have some everywhere, the moisturizing kind with SPF 15. Hand soap. We go through a lot. I need something, anything to get me out of the house. Toilet paper. Still trying to set the standard. So, I make my excuse, which I’m sure reeks of the very bullshit it is made of, but I don’t care and inevitably Sharkboy hears the word “go” and begins the hunt for the two year old holy grail, which is a matching pair of socks. There is no doubt in his mind that he is going because I am a sucker. He’s trapped in the same house with me, he needs out, too. This is a prime example of when a mother needs Batsmoke. I want to disappear into a cloud of smoke, no explanation, and come home tipsy and go to bed for a week, or for the evening at the very least.

Batsmoke would come in handy when I need a new bra, too. I can’t just look at the size and go buy a new one in this size. I don’t know if this problem is unique to me because I have a lot to work with, or if all women need to try on a dozen bras in a dozen sizes to find the right one, but either way, this is not a kid friendly activity. I would like to just get up in the morning, realize my need for a bra, and go purchase one. I have been a mother my entire adult life and I do not remember what it feels like to get up and do what I want without first making sure everyone else has what they need.  Teenagers need rides. So many rides. Infants and toddlers need supervision. Men have needs. Not those needs. There is ductwork to be done on the addition and paperwork at the bar and a hundred other things that are also not kid friendly. Sometimes just getting people to commit to a time frame makes me want a nap… that I can’t take because everyone else needs something first. This is when I want to disappear into a cloud of smoke, no explanation, and come home tipsy and go to bed for a week, or for the evening at the very least. In a new bra.

My Batsmoke wish has conditions, though. First of all, I want it all guilt free. No one, not even the bitsy baby, is ever allowed to give me any amount of grief for needing a break. Next, no reciprocation should be expected. Everyone else has Batsmoke already, its called, “a life outside the house.” Last, but definitely not least, I expect to return from my sabbatical to find the house and children in at least as decent of a condition as I left them in. Diapers changed, meals on time, dinner somewhere other than on the floors and counter, that kind of stuff.

I had intended to write a list of things women really want for Mother’s Day but I feel Batsmoke covers it. I’d like to take a shower whenever I want. I wash the towels, after all. Six people, one bathroom, you do the math. I used to look forward to the weekends because I had the idea that I would get to be the first person to take a shower on Saturday. I would get up early with Sharkboy, who was just a Sharkbaby then, (or more likely we would startle awake after a restless night on the couch when a demon hellcat pounced on us in search of his morning meal) and feed him and change him and get him ready for the day. I was generally covered in baby sweat and spit up because Sharkbaby had an upset tummy for the first year of his life. There is no greater feeling than a long hot shower after spending the evening insane. I’d hear my boyfriend coming up the stairs and get ready to hand Sharkbaby over, only to have him breeze past with a freshly washed towel over his shoulder and say, “I’m going to take a quick shower…”

I’m just saying, if the judge were a mother, I wouldn’t get jail time.

Then of course, teenagers have plans so they need showers and rides and there is paperwork at the bar and eventually I have to throw a tantrum to get in the damn shower. This is when I need Batsmoke. I want to disappear into a cloud of smoke, no explanation, and come home tipsy and go to bed for a week, or for the evening at the very least. Clean.

If you are thinking right now that you want or need something other than Batsmoke for Mother’s Day, might I suggest a nice gift basket from Bath And Body Works? That is, after all, what you get the woman who already has it all.

It’s Not A Secret

Yesterday I had to unload the dishwasher myself. That is a terrible start to any story so let’s add a drink, we’ll pretend it was a margarita since it was Cinco De Mayo, but it was actually a grape flavored Bacardi pre-mixed can of heartburn. Anyway, I was unloading the dishwasher, which is not my chore, and I noticed I was doing all the things I usually complain about. I put all the sippy cup lids in a basket with the annoying stopper things unattached and mixed the toddler utensils in with the regular utensils and ignored other small details I should have been fixing as I unloaded.

If this is the only blog of mine you ever read you will leave this page thinking I am a control freak nitpicker. This is not the case. In reality I am so laid back about cleaning you could call it reclined. I do want my house to be tidy and sanitary but I’m not trying to impress anyone or get our picture in Better Homes and Gardens. I just don’t want to end up on an episode of Hoarders, either. I live in a small house with 6 people and 3 cats. Some order needs to be maintained to keep your sanity.

So, back to the dishes, I noticed I was being sloppy and blaming everyone else. I shouldn’t have been unloading the dishwasher, that is my 13 year old daughter’s job. Everyone hates loading the dshwasher. It is the least desired chore in the house. My daughters would rather change the cat litter and clean the bath tub than load dishes. I could make them anyway. I make them do a lot of things they don’t like, claiming it is to prepare them for the real world, when usually it’s just because I don’t like it, either. I don’t make them load the dishwasher, though, because someday they will have families of their own and because they have female anatomy, they, too, will most likely have to do everything they hate, like touching other people’s wet food scraps because no one bothers to scrape and rinse their plate. They have years of muttering under the breath in their future, why make them start now.

The situation reminded me of a popular self help movement from a few years back that I did not take part in because if I spend money on self help it’s going to be a gym membership or a massage. I did mean to check the book out from the library after the hype died down simply because I like knowing what all the hype is about. I forgot. I did hear bits and pieces from the innerwebs and television and to my understanding the basic idea is that positive thinking will make you happy (duh) and if you surround yourself with successful people, you will become successful. Now, that might sound hokey, but in a past life I worked outside the home and I remember clearly the transition between workspaces at one job. I had become complacent and comfortable just getting by. I was the best at what I did in one arena, not because I was truly the best, but because everyone else was lazy. I moved to another arena with more motivated co-workers and discovered I was the lazy one. I had to buckle down and work harder to keep up and it made me better at my job.

If I apply that same thinking to my home full of infants, toddlers, teenagers and a man that is rarely home… I am in trouble. If I am setting the standard for this household I seriously need to buckle down. It’s easy to put a dish away with lettuce stuck to it and let the next hungry person re-wash it by hand because I know that is exactly what everyone else in the house would do. Don’t judge me. Lettuce is my nemesis. It’s easy to just shove the garbage down a little deeper and keep piling more in because I am still doing more than  everyone else. They just throw their garbage on the top of the obviously full can without bothering to notice if it stayed in or rolled off so by the time I go to take it out at night it resembles the trash heap from Fraggle Rock. If I didn’t have to take it out every night it may even start talking to us.

I make a lot of excuses, my favorite being that there are 6 people in this house. SIX! One of them can’t even walk but trust me, the boy makes a mess. I may be able to fool a lot of people with that excuse, but not myself. I grew up in a house with 6 people and I don’t remember ever ever ever thinking the floor felt crunchy. We never ran out of toothpaste or Tylenol or anything important. My mom stayed at home until I was in school and then she worked outside the home and somehow we never ran out of toilet paper. I remember her reading a lot but the house was always clean. My house is a mess and I still can’t find time to read without staying up until midnight.

According to this self help movemenet, as I understand it, I clearly need to move back in with my mother. (They live a few blocks away and I’m pretty sure I just heard the sound of the drill as she boarded up the doors and windows.) Or maybe I just need to suck it up and start setting a higher standard for my household instead of bitching that it’s not my job to unload the dishwasher. That really is what it boils down to. It’s not a secret, it’s actually quite simple. You have to do your personal best regardless of what the people around you are doing. You can surround yourself with successful people or you can choose to set the standard.

That being said, we are out of toilet paper. Time to set the standard.

Macaroni For Dinner

I always say I don’t like to cook but that’s a lie. I enjoy cooking and I absoluely love it when I create something that my kids like eating. It’s cooking dinner on time either before or after a 45 minute commute with two young children hanging on the baby gate sobbing for food and attention and two teenagers needing papers signed and tape for a project and permission to log on to Facebook that makes me want to order Dominos every single day. And night. And do they have breakfast pizza?

Worse than cooking in a house full of kids, though, is cleaning up the mess made from cooking. So many dishes. Pots and pans and spatulas and serving spoons and plates and seriously, can’t you just eat with your fingers? We’re out of forks. At the end of the day you could eat off of my floor, not because it’s so clean but because there is enough food down there to create a meal. Don’t worry, I’ll clean it up… eventually.

So, it’s easier just to say I don’t like cooking. It’s even easier to heat up some chicken nuggets, steam a bag of broccoli and cut up a banana and call it done. It takes less than 10 minutes to make and less than 10 minutes to clean up if you don’t count banana goo removal from the baby’s hair.

I’m at peace with this. When The Barkeep is home he really does enjoy cooking and I’m here to entertain the kids and field any questions about where to find paper or watching Mighty Machines. They’re getting a variety of different foods and I always cover all the food groups. Sure, better meals are being served somewhere but next door to them a parent is serving McDonald’s. I don’t consider myself above the McDonald’s mom, though, she probably has immaculate floors.

Some time after dinner is served and the teenagers are forced to load the dishwasher and I find the broom, I like to get back online and search the internet for advice on potty training and smart mouth teenagers. The internet is full of amazing advice and information and useful tips. You could spend days reading about just one topic, like potty training or healthy meal ideas. I like to pin these things to Pinterest so the next time I come home tipsy and don’t feel like sleeping yet I have something to read. The internet is also full of other moms looking for information and tips. We sometimes like to gather in communities, like message boards or Facebook groups.

A weird thing happens when people gather online. If you put a mostly polite and sensible group of mothers together in a real life situation there will be mostly polite and sensible conversation. There may be some passive aggressive cattiness or raised eyebrows, but it generally stays civil. Put that same group of women on an internet message board and suddenly you have the world’s most renowned expert on potty training and breast feeding, her sister Dr. Google and their BFF Snarky McSnarkbritches. If you have kids over 6 months old and you’ve spent any time online you have met them, sometimes entire groups of them.

I’m sure by now they have told you you are poisoning your precious child with Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. That’s why I’m here, to set the record straight. My parents occaisionally served me macaroni and cheese throughout my childhood and I am still here to tell you about it. It was delicious and I survived. I also drank kool-aid and ate potato chips and *gasp* hot dogs. There are worse things you can feed your kids. My baby eats carpet fuzz and he’s made it all the way to 10 months old.

I plan to blog about a lot of different stuff, not just parenting and kids, but I wanted to start with a theme that is on my mind a lot. Mom shaming? The Mommy Wars? Call it what you want, I call it a bunch of insecure women trying to make other women just as insecure in some pointless attempt to bolster their own self esteem. You know what actually bolsters your self esteem? Helping. Try it.

Nap is over. I’m going to give the kids a special treat. Cake! Not only cake, but yesterday it was a boob cake. Mmm boobies. And that is as close as I’m ever going to get to talking about the breastfeeding debate.