Thursday, February 11, 2016

Porn and Benches

As I mentioned in my post last week, we have entered a whole new world of parenting at my house.

Both boys now have Instagram accounts.

We are parenting social media.

Lord help us.

I stressed over this decision.  I fight hard and passionately that my kids stay kids for as long as possible. No violent or inappropriate movies or video games, no phones in elementary school, no TV access in their room, no unlimited screen time.

I believe in age ratings and shoving my kids outside to make up games and I'm crazy for strict bedtimes.

So agreeing to an account like this was sort of big.

Now, for Cole I wasn't too worried.  His primary concerns for Instagram were that he could follow Barack Obama and Justin Bieber.

(Cats of Instagram was a close third to the previous two. Cole also just purchased a book of poems "written by cats," and has memorized several poems.  This is Cole.)

Cole also has very few, if any, friends on Instagram.

For Aiden, however, Instagram meant a constant connection to communicate with friends.

Did you know Instagram has a messaging feature?

Me either.

Oops.

He uses Instagram for a periodic picture of himself giving the peace sign, but mostly to chat with a small group of friends, which includes boys and girls.

Their fourth grade discussions are strange, sort of amusing, but mostly annoying and confusing.  

And every conversation starts with "sup" and discusses how each person is mostly "chillin'."

(They clearly need more to do.)

Where does their language come from?  Do these kids realize they are upper middle class white kids in suburbia?  Are they watching a lot of rap videos?  Are they friends with some older "street" people that I don't know?

Other than finding a lot of this odd, I was pretty much as peace with the Instagram thing. Scrolling through photos of approved friends and posting photos of their geckos or siblings on their feeds.

Then I read this article.  What I Wish Every Parents Knew About Instagram.

Dammit Instagram.

If you don't want to read the full article, basically some Instagram hashtags are being used to publish pornographic photos, (not typical porn hashtags either, more seemingly innocent ones,) and Instagram is doing a very pathetic job at taking down the photos after people have reported them.

I can't tell you how good it feels to be able to have JUST signed my kids up for a photo feed of potential porn.

(That's sarcasm in case someone is new here.)

(Or, Mom.)

What I am about to write in no way, shape, or form means I am OK with porn on Instagram.

I'm very firmly anti-porn.

No porn.

No thank you.

I'm grateful to have the porn conversation starting though.  Let's talk.

Porn wasn't something I was planning on talking to my kids about this week.  I talk about all sorts of things with all of them, but at times the list of BIG things to discuss gets a little heavy and sometimes I just want to listen to Cole tell jokes and Stella describe her latest sequence of crazy.

So porn hadn't made it in the discussion rotation yet.  Already earlier this week we had a lengthy discussion about circumcision, cyber bullying, and another round of curse word explanations.

I'm feeling a little tapped out, but let's talk porn.

So we did.

Cole, Aiden, and I talked about hashtags, then naked photos on social media, then porn.

And it went really, really well.

This is the time.  They love to talk and ask and are so uninhibited and curious right now.

I assume they will always think I am the most informed and intelligent source of information, but just in case I want their foundations to come from me.  This way when they hear craziness on the bus they are armed with knowledge and facts they can feel confident about...and I pray knowledge that they have a Mom that they know they can ask pretty much anything.

We discussed how the naked body is amazing and there is nothing wrong with seeing that, but how that can be twisted and isn't really something to see on your electronic device. We talked about watching a train wreck and how sometimes you have to stop yourself from looking at something if there is a little voice that says, 'this isn't good for me.' We talked about how it can mess with your brain and your heart and it can actually be really, really harmful to your future joy.

(Did you know that young men are actually having a more and more difficult time enjoying or even having sex with an actual woman because so many have been continuously exposed to pornography so they are conditioned to those images for their pleasure?)

(That was not something we discussed.)

(I do not want that for my boys.)

It's here people, it's happening.

I also had read through the string of messages Aiden was participating in, because of my strong parenting/snooping skills, and became concerned that the conversation had taken a turn to a more inappropriate place.

Several of the kids were referring to "benches" and who's "bench" could sit by certain boys.

You probably are confused, because you aren't as a good of a parent as I am.

Or because it makes zero sense.

So I hopped on my phone and messaged another Mom with a boy involved in the conversation.  She had also been monitoring the conversation and was also concerned about the "bench" talk.

Side Note: Yay for other Moms who are watching out!

We both had come to the same conclusion, because we are intelligent and worldly women, that the "benches" were really "bitches" and we were going to have to chat with our boys.

When I brought this up with Aiden he looked genuinely confused and sort of disturbed that I was even saying the word bitches. He assured me he would try to figure out what was going on with that discussion.

I felt compelled to have another heavy discussion about disrespecting women in general by the use of the word bitch.  How the tone of the conversation was implying multiple girls were wanting to be one boys "bitch" and that was sad for them, and everyone is special, and on and on and on.

I was very inspiring.

This morning my friend and I learned that benches is literally referring to a bench.

As in which bench at recess are people hanging out around.

It's possible I'm a tad bit in overdrive here with the big bad world around my kids.

It's also possible my friend and I have listened to a bit too much rap music in the 90s.

Sometimes benches are just benches.

I'm sure Aiden is going to really soak in all my bitch talk though and be the most amazing young man ever.

Social media is annoying and scary...but I think mostly I'm grateful for the platform to start these insanely uncomfortable and important talks.

And the messaging feature is providing the sweetest of conversations when I leave Aiden for an hour or so home alone.



I have a lot of street cred.

Thank you Instagram.

Peace out.

Friday, February 5, 2016

What's Your Story

It's been a busy morning so I'm delayed in writing and short on time.

This is unfortunate because my head is swimming with thoughts I want to share and explore.

This is why I carry a notebook.

I have so many words about my boys new Instagram accounts, Max turning ONE and WALKING and TALKING, and the cake I am about to bake.

You'll have to wait on that though because I mostly wanted to write about marriage because right now things are kind-of hard.  That's how things go in marriage.  It's wonderful, then it's difficult, then it's great, then it's blah, then it's crazy hard work, then it's apathy, then it's really, really good.

Somehow it still totals out to be the best thing ever and I have no idea how that happens.

But right now it's kind of hard.

He's busy with work.  I'm busy with kids and busy waiting for him to be off work.

I shouldn't admit that I wait for him to be off work. I should be saying I find my own amusement and am independent...because I think that's what we want all the girls to hear and feel these days.

That isn't how it works for me, for us.

I do often find my own amusement and I am pretty independent, but we have four kids and it takes a lot of communication and a lot of babysitting money for us or for just me to do something away from them.

So I find myself frequently waiting for him.

Waiting to get off work, to get home from his meeting, to text, to call, to tell me what's next.

It's annoying.

It is what it is.

(Most unproductive statement ever right there.  'It is what it is' basically just means shut the hell up and get on with it...but we never just say that, do we?)

It's difficult to find time to have a ten minute conversation to decide whether or not we want to accept an invitation somewhere or what to do about Aiden's soccer team or should we fix that magic ice maker, much less actually enjoy being around one another.

Ain't nobody got time for enjoyment with four kids.

This is unfortunate because I happen to be bananas for my husband.

As far as I can remember, I really, really, really like to be around him.

Unless we haven't been around one another for a while and then he's SUPER annoying.  I could provide a lengthy list of all the annoying things he does, mistakes he makes in our routine, how inconsiderate he is about all the things I never told him I wanted to him to do and now he isn't even doing any of them...the worst.

Good thing he's pretty to look at.

I am sure he would struggle fiercely with a list of annoying things I do, because he is smart.

I would say my biggest weakness is that I work too hard.

FINE...I'll go ahead and put it out there that among one, maybe ten other things, I become a smidge of a martyr during our distant times.

Who doesn't love a martyr though, right?

I don't know why I do it.

I blame my Mom.

Just kidding, Mom.

I intellectually realize how much worse I am making a tough situation, but I actually can NOT open my mouth and be reasonable.  I have prayed fiercely for God to just force the words of reason out of me, but instead I find myself saying things like, "I guess I'll just take all four kids with me to my thing because I wouldn't want you to have to watch them when you are trying to catch up on the news on your phone."

Or, "That sounds great for you to go grab a beer, I'll just be here with all our kids on a Friday night watching a Barbie movie and eating bad pizza.  Sounds good."

In fairness to me, I always look really pretty when I say these things.

Or at least my eyelashes look pretty when I say these things.

I have a husband who works a lot. At times he doesn't even realize how much he is working.  I think he really believes he's usually home by around 6:30.  This is an adorable delusion.

I've written before about my gratitude for that, (you can read that here,) because despite my sour attitude at times, I genuinely am thankful.

One of my favorite things about him is that he works hard to provide and feels he is owed nothing.
I love that my kids see that attitude in everything he does and pray they grow to know the value of working hard for something and to not just expect things to come to you.

I also pray they miraculously miss my annoyed sighs when I forget all about grace and sigh loudly while putting away the creamer for the millionth time.

I don't use creamer.

Someone else does.

See, I'm obviously not my best version of my married self.  I have zero grace.

It's easy to focus on the little annoyances like creamer placement because it's there and it's small and it's fine to talk about creamer placement.  No one has to work hard to talk about creamer placement.

It's crazy hard when things get off course to talk about real things that matter.

Creamer does not matter.

Life happens and you genuinely have to fight to find a moment or maybe more than a moment to enjoy one another, to catch up, to remember that you are bananas for one another.  To say, "I miss you and let's go hide in the closet or something." Each moment that passes though makes it more challenging to recover from and the distance grows.

Someone has to take a step.  A big one.

Someone has to stop making sarcastic martyr comments and telling herself she has it so hard or he doesn't care, because that's a lie.

Telling myself stories that don't serve me, or my family, is one of my least favorite things that I do.

It can become a habit.

It can take over your brain.

It can straight up screw you out of the amazing life you have by telling you the complete opposite from your truth.

You can do it over and over again in your marriage, your friendships, your job, your own self worth.

Personally I feel like I only struggle with it in my marriage.  Maybe because it means the most?

But it can happen....

'They didn't text me back because they are mad', 'they didn't invite me because I'm not part of the right group', 'he isn't here because he doesn't want to be.'

Lies.  Really, really bad stories.

This morning as he left, he told me, "I love you and you love me.  I'm over this too."

He's the best.

We're going to take a big step tonight and talk and enjoy being around one another again.

I'm over being annoyed about the creamer placement.

I'm telling myself a new story and it's really, really good.

**************************************

And just because my brain really can't get over these two things.

He's WALKING!


And this is part of the joy that is Cole's Instagram account, which I find adorable.



Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Stop Planning Your Disney Vacation, Just Pack Your Stuff Already

A few years ago my parents won Grandparents of the Year in a fictitious contest where all the grandparents of the world compete. My Dad sealed this by orchestrating a Disney vacation for our whole family.

It was glorious.

We had a fantastic time.

Little kids go crazy for Disney and I admit, as an adult I thought I might feel like I wasn't on vacation, but it was actually really enjoyable.

We even had cocktails by the pool!

The thing is, my Dad used a travel agent.

This woman took care of our hotel, booked our flights, got our park passes, gave us a suggested plan for our days, made all our dinner reservations, sent us our luggage tags and other such nonsense that none of us really have the time or energy to take on given all the children with all their needs.

Yes, we answered some questions and my Dad gave her a budget, but otherwise she did the rest.

Thank the Lord.

I constantly see people post on FB all their Disney questions. There is a desperation to their information seeking, which is understandable because it is a giant vacation with a million potential details.

I am baffled though...why aren't any of you using a travel agent?

Perhaps you don't think they exist anymore?

Did they all go away with the internet and the belief that Diet soda is good for us?

Are they all wearing shoulder pads and a telephone headset somewhere just waiting for someone to book a cruise?

I'm here to tell you they EXIST!

My friend Stephanie is a travel agent and she actually specializes in Disney.

Now, she isn't paying me anything to write this or tell you this, I just feel like it's my social responsibility to share this information with you because you all are killing yourself and you don't have to do that for your Disney trip.

Packing for your family and all sleeping in the same room is going to cause you enough strife, let someone else do the rest of it.

Maybe you guys think that it costs more?

You know you don't pay them, right?

Maybe you assume travel agents are dealing drugs at Disney to actually earn money?

That really doesn't make sense, you are crazy.

I asked Stephanie to give me some quick reasons why you should stop making this so damn hard.

Please for the love of all the dollars you are spending, read this and think about using someone, preferably my amazing friend because she obviously is so smart and beautiful because we are friends.

You are welcome.

Emotional and time drain for you Disney vacation planning GONE.


 Why use an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner? 

This is a question so many people ask… My answer – Why Not?  

Top reasons to use a Disney Vacation Planner:

·       It’s already included in the price so why not use the service?
         Whether you book on your own or book with a planner, you are paying the exact same amount! I know this doesn’t seem possible but feel free to put it to the test. I guarantee my cost is, to the penny, equal to what you will find online.    
·       You have someone that knows you and your family.
         If you need to call the 800 number to discuss your reservation for any reason, you always speak to a different person and you are known by a reservation number. If you work with a me, you always have the same person to talk to and I know your individual hopes for your vacation. Feel free to call, text, or email me at any time!                        
·      Once your vacation is booked, I am always scanning for new promotions… If your reservation falls under the promotion, I will apply it to your reservation. Yes, you can do this on your own but typically I know when they are about to release and am booking as soon as the call center opens because these rooms are limited. Once you hear about the promotion, there is a good chance it will no longer be available. 
·       Hi Ho Vacations is a company with many wonderful agents, all with a huge love for Disney! Because of this, we have been able to compile many tips and tricks to make your vacation as easy and extra special as possible. I am able to pass these hints onto you! You don’t need to post 20 questions on your Facebook wall in a panic to figure it all out!        
·       Dining reservations are available 180 days before your date of arrival… Not only will I make recommendations for you, I will actually make the reservations based on your preferences as soon as we hit the 180-day mark.
·       Disney has rolled out the new FastPass + service over the past few years. This is fabulous!  It gives you the ability to quickly get on rides, have character greetings, or prime locations for fireworks/parades. You receive at least 3 FastPasses per day. FastPasses can be selected 60 days in advance and do require a little planning. Again, I will help you every step of the way!        
·       You will receive a personalized, fun travel packet prior to your travel with everything you need to prep you for your trip. It’s loaded with everything from packing tips to park maps and even has some fun goodies!

I know many of you have been to Disney, some of you more times than you can count! You might know the parks like the back of your hand and are set on the way you “do Disney”. I get it, that was me! I am here for you to do as much or as little as you want. Even if you don’t want me to book your dining, it will benefit you to have me scanning for promotions and providing personalized service. Disney World is never the same as it constantly has improvements and it continually makes changes to the parks and resorts. Consequently my tips and tricks can also be very helpful and current.

Finally, booking a Disney World vacation is easy.  It only takes a $200 deposit with the final payment being due 30 days before you travel.  I am happy to apply payments at any time to break it up. I don’t just book Walt Disney World, I can help you book all things Disney – Walt Disney World, Disneyland Resort, Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney, and Aulani.

You can follow me on Facebook where I post lots of tips and tricks along with promotions and much more – facebook.com/disneyvacationplanningwithStephanie and contact me by email or phone, I would love to help!   

Phone: 317-506-0392
Email: stephanie@hihovacations.com


cid:A60BD0B8-5C62-41A6-9FF3-0DC9C300504F@gateway.pace.com


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Don't Believe The Lie....The Best Kid Years Are Ahead

I'm not shy at all about saying the baby years are not my favorite.

The whole tiny people thing has it's moments of deeply painful sweetness, of course.

(Notice I used the word painful about the sweetness.)

Their need for me as "The Mom" can bring me to tears with joy, love, and exhaustion.

There are a lot of different tears during the under three life.

People will constantly tell me I'm going to miss their baby years.  I need to savor each sweet smell of their baby hair nestled against my chest.  I should take a deep breath and just enjoy their dependency and forget myself.

Sometimes I do. It's very difficult to do that all the time though.

It's also not realistic.

At all.

It is tough to argue that this is anything other than perfection.




I mean...he is a joy.

You know what else is a joy?

This...



TEN

(This is how Aiden dresses every day.  He's the coolest kid in the fourth grade.  He smokes pot and plays the guitar.  It's really fun to hang out with him.)

(I'm kidding about the guitar playing.)

(Fine, I'm kidding about all of that.  Except, that is Aiden.  Dressed for a school performance.)

To me, this parenting thing just keeps getting better and better.

Why must I constantly be told to savor only the very little?

I'm here to tell you parents of the babies and toddlers, it's worth doing the hard now, because they become people that you are crazy about and bring you even more joy and delight.

AND they can make their own sandwiches and let you sleep, basically whenever you want to sleep.

IT GETS BETTER THAN GOOD SMELLING HAIR ON A SMALL, FAT, SLEEPING PERSON.

I am bananas for all my children, but Aiden has me right now.

He is so interested in everything.  He's asking so many questions.  Not the constant string of "why" that showed up as a toddler.  He's asking the BIG questions and he's caring about the answers.

Sure, he is a total punk sometimes.  He's too aggressive with his middle siblings and teases his sister and almost never remembers to hang up his towel after his shower, and brings home things like science fair which are annoying, but he has so much good going on right now that I can overlook those things.

Not too long ago he came and sat on the couch while I was playing with Max and asked if I could answer some social questions for him.

He comes to me for social questions because he knows how cool I am.

I assume.

Or because I'm here.

He apparently has a few boys that hang close to him that are a little "different," and Aiden is kind to them even though they are a little "different."  He feels badly about it though because sometimes his other friends think he's weird for being nice to them.

If you could have seen his eyes, his poor little heart so stressed and confused about how this works.

How does he keep his friends and be kind to the kids that think they are really good friends with him, but are a little "off?"

I, of course, said all the perfect things.

Or fumbled through a kindness no matter what, but you don't have to be everyone's best friend type discussion and then showed him my new sweatshirt, which solidified our entire conversation.




(Cutest tees and sweatshirts for parents and kids....Mama Said Tees. Go buy one or seven NOW!)

He has the best heart.

He has even better hair.




He works hard for that hair.

He worries about doing the right thing.

Perhaps too much.

My father took him to Subway on a sick day recently and he wouldn't get out of the car until he felt he had something appropriate to explain to people about why he was there during a school day.

Because you know the people at Subway are worried about truancy.

He worries about people at school's science fair project having been done by their parents...because he wants them to learn themselves. There isn't any concern about their project being better because it was done by an adult, just worry that there is no way those kids will be able to function in high school or college.

Perhaps he has been listening the last few years?

He reads to Max, gets him out of his crib when he's crying, feeds him a bottle, plays with him, and genuinely wants him to walk and talk.  He helps and he cares about helping.

He asks about tampons and listens seriously to the explanation...and then feels empathy about how annoying that must be.

Amen Aiden, amen!

He is baffled by some of his friend's new interest in girls.  He has had many discussions with me about that, mostly that he isn't ever going to do that.

Fine by me, just get your own place and then come hang out with ME!

He sits in the front seat next to me when we go places and just talks and it's glorious.

He tells me about the books he is reading, books that I like to read too!  He has thoughts and opinions about the stories!  He's a bonafide reader.  This makes my heart sing.

He actually CHOSE to go on a walk with Max and me recently rather than go to a friend's house.

Then wanted to take a selfie with us, because that's just the type of example I am setting of proper behavior.


(Max is not normally this suspicious of Aiden, I think he is jealous of Aiden's hair though and it was just right in front of him in this picture.  It's tough sometimes.)

Aiden wants to know why people think Tractor, Uncle Kyle and I are funny.

I had to explain that Tractor and Uncle Kyle are strange, which is funny sometimes, and I'm just confused and lucky that what comes out of my mouth makes sense.

He wants to be funny.  He wants to make people laugh.  He does.

He still gets in trouble and throws little fits about consequences....but then he does the most amazing thing. He talks and understands and reflects and sucks it up and deals with it.

I can not tell you how totally gratifying it is to see your kids suck it up and accept that they screwed up and earned the consequence they got.

I could go on and on.

Unfortunately, I feel like my posts about Aiden are numbered.  His stories are increasingly less and less mine to share.

The fact that he talks so frankly and openly with me is so fiercely treasured by me that I couldn't even describe most of the details of our discussions lately that leave me beaming with pride and gratitude for the gift of being his Mom.

I can't betray him.

Unless we are having a cocktail in person and then I'll spill because I'm mostly horrible at keeping secrets that I find joyful and worth sharing.

I just won't write them on my public blog.

I have standards.

(I also feel it's important for me to note quickly that Cole is moving right along too, but just isn't quite to Aiden's level of maturity about so many things.

For example...I still have to carry a wooden spoon in my purse and recently had to literally chase Cole down the street while holding my wooden spoon out the window and threatening him to get in the minivan and come to piano lessons while he sobbed.

There were neighbors watching.

It wasn't our best moment.

We did make it to piano.

Winning.)

TEN people....it's getting better and better.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Justin Bieber Should Sing A Mojo Song For Me

While getting my eyelashes done yesterday, my sweet lash lady, Christina, asked me how my organization goals were progressing.

I assume she had taken a look around the house and was sort of scared.

Surely she was thinking I had possibly just given up on my goals.

Or my entire existence.

Except for my eyelashes of course.


 


It looks worse than it is.

Actually, it's worse than it looks.

There is shit EVERYWHERE is my house right now. I'm still on page 46 of that Magic of Tidying Up book and I can't even remember where I put it.  I remember I'm supposed to pull everything out and we are firmly stuck on that task.

But without any direction toward sorting or removing.

Or trying.

Or anything to help me just pick up.

 

You know what we're doing?

Surviving.

I've lost my New Year mojo.

There was the science fair and the cub scouting and the "about me" project and dance and gymnastics and piano and all the exploring baby-ness.

I have taken exactly ZERO walks since bragging about a whopping two in seven days....over two weeks ago.

Even Max couldn't remember how we had decided to only be amazing at the grocery store and lost it multiple times at HEB yesterday.

Here he is screaming because he had already wiped all the chai tea foam out of my cup and licked it and smeared it everywhere.  I had literally chugged my hot drink and thrown the "mostly" empty cup at him in hopes that he would find it so joyful and entertaining that he would be happy forever.

It didn't work.



He's congested and annoyed at me on a regular basis the last few days.

I don't think he's telling anyone I'm dead yet, but he's clearly just not that in to me right now.

The good news is that I've started eating Girl Scout cookies immediately after I eat breakfast.

What the hell is happening?

The genuine good news is that we are having our closets "done" tomorrow.  All three kids' rooms will have fancy shelving and pull-out basket drawers and appropriately spaced everything so we can put all the stuff I've pulled out, back in to a spot.

Everything will have a spot.

For one to three weeks.

At least.

I hope.

I haven't totally lost my New Year mojo though because I'm still writing.  Twice a week, only during the morning nap, and I am publishing what happens during that time without edits.

Can you tell?

So maybe we are just surviving this week, and I'm not walking or organizing anything, but at least I'm writing about it.  Right?

It's almost a new month and that's almost like a new year so I'm just going to assume I'll resume my organizing and walking vigor next week.

Assume with me.  Next week I will be AMAZING again.


P.S.  I can't stop playing that Justin Bieber song, "Love Yourself."

P.P.S. I have a sudden, very deep love for the Biebs. I know he is a bit young, was violent (egg throwing?) and unclothed for a bit, but dammit if he isn't cute and talented.  His songs are catchy and I just think he could change my whole world.  He could give me my mojo back.







Thursday, January 21, 2016

A Daughter's Love

Mother and daughter relationships are complicated.

I realize this is something that many, many women struggle with from the daughter and mother side of things. There are a lot of emotions, love, wanting things for them, resenting them, the list goes on and on.

I remember writing an VERY heated entry in to my fourth grade diary about my hatred for my Mother.

I have since come around though.

Since Stella is five though, I really don't consider things complicated. Our biggest issue is that she isn't a fan of brushing her hair and I am a fan of her not looking like a homeless child.

I also loathe the way she dresses. She puts together the most random clothing and not in a quirky, fun way. It looks awful.

But...whatever.  I don't have the energy to fight her clothing choices each day and surely this sense of self will make her an amazing woman some day.  Or a really lonely lady with lots of cats.

Not my problem.  She and I are fine.

Or so I thought.

During one of my recent cleaning binges I found my wedding album under Stella's bed.

I immediately assumed she had taken it to stare at how beautiful I looked in a fancy dress with my hair brushed.  She probably thought I was a princess that day.

Then I opened the album to find this.



Now, upon first glance, it looked to me that she had put an X over Alex and my faces.

Surely this was done in a fit of rage over some consequence she was enduring due to our amazing parenting skills.

It's a solid sign of good parenting to have your children hate you from time to time.

It was obvious to me that Stella was the one who had done this given the location of the wedding album, and well, this....



But I took a moment and sat her down and asked her if she knew anything about marking on Daddy and Mommy's faces in our wedding album.  She, of course, was shocked to learn that this had happened! She was VERY upset that someone had done this in HER room.

"I did NOT do that Mommy!  I didn't put check marks on Daddy's face and X's on yours!"

Ummm....what?

As I rechecked the album, yep, she had X'd me out and checked Alex.



My daughter is symbolically removing me from my wedding to her father and stamping her approval on him.

This lady is awful...X. This man is amazing...check.

I assume this is some sort of psychologically common idea, but really?!??

I guess there have been signs of her desire to "remove me from the equation."

She almost always prefers Alex to me when given the choice.

She cried when Alex grew a beard because she could never give him a kiss again.

Not too long ago Alex did take Stella on a cute "date" for dinner.  In line for food a woman asked Stella if she was dressed like a princess.  She quickly replied to the woman, "Yes.  I'm out on a date with my Daddy because my Mommy is dead."

I can't tell you how good that feels.

On the flip side, she does always insist I sing to her before she goes to sleep.  My song is the only one she wants.

(She might be tone deaf, but it's working for me so whatever.)

That song, Hush Little Baby, is my only hope.  Please pray that Stella never figures out how to record me signing to her (or discovers how horrible I sound,) or she might do away with me entirely.

The thing is though, Alex won't be taking her to Anthropologie to do fun stuff like this.



And I think she knows that.

She and I might make it after all.




Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Teddy Knows Best

"Comparison is the thief of joy."

Thank you Theodore Roosevelt.

This is something I have on repeat in my mind right now.

Theodore Roosevelt is never saying it in my head though.  It's usually just my voice.

Or Amy Poehler's.

That sounds like a really random person to have in my head, but I read her book "Yes Please," a few months ago (good, but not nearly as laugh-out-loud funny at Tina Fey's "Bossypants," sorry Amy,) and one really important idea came from that book along the same lines as TR's quote.

(I call Theodore Roosevelt 'TR' because we are close.)

"Great for them, not for me."

This quote really takes away all the insecurity we put on ourselves when someone else is doing this whole motherhood thing, marriage thing, life thing in a totally different way than we are.  It's rarely better or worse, just different.

Well, unless you are addicted to meth and neglecting your children and cheating on your spouse.....then I'm totally doing a better job than you are.  No offense.  But...

Great for you, not for me.

I bet TR never worried about whether or not he should compare himself to a meth addict. He was such a good president.

I wonder if TR would have struggled with comparison more if he would have known that he would look a like a total creeper for all eternity on a giant national monument between Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson?

I had a point.

Or something loosely resembling a point.

I'm really struggling with comparison lately.

I don't want another marriage, or a new house, or fancy car (who could deny that my maroon minivan is the absolute best you can get?) or perfect body, or material possessions of any kind.

I want fewer children, who are older.

Now before my Mom calls me implying I am going to scar my children if they ever read this, here are my disclaimers.

I adore each and every one of my children.  I did not think I would have so many of them, but I wouldn't change it for a moment.  I think this big family is fun and dynamic and loving and all around wonderful.  I just know that someday we will be just like the Bravermans in our fierce love for one another and our exciting, complicated lives.

But...four kids, particularly with a baby, means some things are really difficult.

I see my friends with one or two kids able to go out to dinner as a family and enjoy it.

The friends who have all their kids in school all day...FIVE DAYS A WEEK.  (That's 30ish hours of time to figure your stuff out and potentially even SIT!)

I see friends who can walk out the door without holding a 25 pound weight and a million accessories to keep the weight happy while out and about town.

I used to be one of those people.  I know how good that place is.  It's still hard, but it's good.

For those friends, the idea of getting away for a night or two is not a logistical nightmare involving lots of paid child care, favors from friends, and planning for at least a solid week in order to make it happen. Things like picking your kid up from school or going to the grocery store do not require massive amounts of planning and screwing up schedules.

I could go on.

Comparison is the thief of joy though.

I know it's a lie, a total lie to think that any parent has it easy.  It feels like that from here right now though, even while I am writing these words to say it isn't true.

Stupid emotions.

So I'm digging deep when these thoughts creep in and I'm fighting to list three things quickly that I love about my life.

It isn't difficult.  There's a lot to love.





I bet you thought I would put a picture of my family there, because I love them.

Nope.

That's a picture of a random chicken that showed up in our garage on top of my husband's car.  I love that random shit like that happens in my life.  That chicken wouldn't leave our house for over 24 hours.  I can't make up things that fun.

This is a good life.

And yesterday, this happened.





I was SURE our grocery store trip was going to be a total nightmare.  All four kids means so much going on while I try to find the items on my list.

But it was great.  It was awesome.  Dare I say, fun?

Perhaps I am getting carried away.  It was the grocery store.

It felt good to know that Aiden and Cole could step up and take care of part of the work and that Stella and Max could be bribed with a donut to stay calm.

I'm keeping this photo handy for the tough moments.  This grocery store memory and Teddy are going to help keep me straight.

There is no joy in comparison.

There is so much joy in an easy trip to the store with four kids.

And random chickens.

Amen.