Monday, November 14, 2016

We Have Now Entered The Crazy Time

This time of year gives me the shakes.

Make me contemplate, and perhaps occasionally participate in, day drinking.

November and December are the most insane time of year with to-dos, only rivaled closely by April and May.

It's mostly a happy to-do list, but it makes me want to go off the grid and reappear in January, perhaps having learned how to knit and make perfect gluten free baked goods.

Unfortunately I don't feel I'm adequately equipped to deal with isolation like that, but it has it's appeal right now.

In addition to a very serious case of post-election Facebook addiction, that then requires a lot of additional hours worrying about people's sanity, we are knee deep in the pre-holiday madness.

We have Thanksgiving meals for each child, on the same day, at slightly different overlapping times, in more than one location.

I literally JUST learned that Aiden has a school performance on Friday which means Cole also has one that I don't even know about yet.  It could be right now as I sit at home and type about my crazy schedule.

We have end of the season soccer tournaments (3 games in one day is too much!) right up against this season's piano recital, that I'm not sure anyone has been practicing for recently.

We have 8,302 projects due yesterday that are still "in the works."

There are invitations to respond to and extended family outings being planned.

There are sign ups for food, donations, and pictures.

Do I real think I can get a pie to the older kids' school and help a friend over coffee and remember to drop off a folding table for an event?

More importantly there are highlight appointments and lash extensions to be worked in to the mix.

The most basic of essential tasks.

To add to the madness, we have a supermoon tonight that I am supposed to remember to show the kids because they might not see it again for another million years or something, and if they miss it they may not have their interest in science sparked and they won't work to find the resolution to the hole in the ozone layer before we are all burnt to a crisp from exposure and that will all be on ME because I was too excited for them to get in bed so I could watch half a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie BY MYSELF while I try to strategically plot the next day's orthodontist appointment and overlapping hair appointment.

I just can't.

I do not want to be this busy.  I do not want to wear a badge of busy pride this time of year and respond to everyone that asks me how I'm doing with, "I am so busy!"

Though I have been afflicted by that busy addiction disease in the past I really don't want it.  It's a real problem for me right now though.

Yesterday we went through one of the most stressful events a mom of four children can do, family photos.

Holiday family photos.

We have never done the holiday family photo, because I have never mailed out Christmas cards.

Go ahead and judge me now.  Never a single Christmas card.

I'm 99% sure Jesus doesn't care, but it sure starts to feel like He might when I tell people that I have never taken the energy to figure this out. We've been parents for 11 Christmas seasons now and I have yet to get myself organized enough to make the card happen amongst all this other stuff.

The last few years I have made weak starts to get the ball rolling, but I quickly crap out with all the address gathering and zillion dollars on a card spending and the forgetting people and the perfection needed in it all.

So all of you that assumed you were being snubbed by me should rest easy, I'm not leaving you out, I'm just lazy.

This year my friend Samantha offered mini sessions with adorable holiday-esque scenery and because I am the easiest person to market to (just ask or maybe just mention) I signed up for our family to be part of the magic.

The actual photo taking was fantastic.  Samantha was wonderful and all my kids (and husband) had great attitudes.  Yay!

It was the getting ready for the photo that made me wonder why there isn't a prescription for Xanax distributed with the booking. This is clearly more than a normal Mom can handle.

The outfit selection nearly killed me.  I basically neglected everything else in my life while I traveled to multiple stores and malls and friends' closets and desperately sought the most perfect combination of clothing so we would appear effortless and cohesive while displaying each of our unique strengths and attributes.

My friend Keri devoted an entire day to shopping for this photo.  She'll never get that time back. She probably has PTSD from the tedious decisions about blending, but not matching, shades of khaki and grey and gold with the additional task to add a bit of color.

My friend Judy listened to the same annoying monologue from me on and on about outfits, then lent me jewelry and her husband's shirt for Alex.

FYI, men think that is weird and are not on board.

(Staci you definitely should still live here and save my other friends from me torturing me.)

How are people doing this during the holidays?

We now can check it off the list though.

Here is my single snapshot of the photo shoot in progress, in case I never do use the actual photos for Christmas cards.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Cole with the transitions lenses is killing me. He refused to have his photo taken without his glasses though.  Now I'll have to figure out a way to footnote that Cole has not actually starting getting high on Sunday mornings.

That I am aware of.  I may be too busy to even know.

I am my own worst enemy during my busy times though.  We hosted friends for dinner here Saturday night.  Friends that I know would be happy if I threw a paper plate at them and told them I burned dinner so we're ordering pizza and going to take shots of ouzo and laugh.

But I didn't do that.

I went another direction.



There is a lot of Greek food in the kitchen back there.

I love my people.  I love gathering them and being around them.

I have a difficult time saying no when we are invited somewhere or an opportunity arises for me to join amazing people to do fun things.  It's life giving to me to be in my community of people.

I have been with my people a lot lately though.



The result of that love of people and having four young kids though means I'm busy.

Really busy this time of year.

The challenge then is not whether or not I can say no more, which may be a good idea, but really more whether or not I can keep the gratitude for my busy from now until January 1st?

Can I do it?

I like to think that I can.

I think I can help it along by continuing to wear aprons like this around Aiden and his friends and see them get really uncomfortable, because that keeps my joy alive.

Apron courtesy of Grandma and Tractor's trip to Italy

It's artistic people.  I'm giving them culture and memories to last a lifetime.

I'm a good Mom.

How do you stay sane during this time of year?

Do you struggle with being-busy-addiction?

Judy and I are going to talk about being busy this week on our Facebook page, 2 Moms in a Bar.  You should like our page and share your thoughts/videos/questions about the state of being busy right now.  We would love it.  It would give us something to do.


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Thursday, November 10, 2016

#Perfumegate2016

Is anyone else getting trapped in a political post wormhole on Facebook?

I don't understand what is happening to me.  I physically and psychologically can not even read another opinion piece, look at another hateful protest/celebration, or sort through comments for a voice of reason.

(Sidenote:  I am finding there is usually at least one reasonable, non offensive, commenter amongst all the drama from both sides.  HOPE!  BRIDGES!)

Things are tense.

Is everyone feeling that?

It's awkward and emotions are running strong.  People feel scared and defensive and dismissed and attacked and straight up angry.  It's everywhere.

One of my "friends" on Facebook was enraged with this inflammatory post I wrote on Election Day.


"On this historic Election Day, I have finally reached a decision for myself that has been plaguing me for the last year.  After much researching and soul searching and prayers for guidance, I have decided to continue using Design by Paul Sebastian as my fragrance of choice.  It's been faithful to me since the 8th grade and despite it's decline from a department store perfume to a cast off bottle on the TJ Max clearance fragrance shelf, and possibly available at Walmart, it's steady and true to me.  Thank you all for your concern, questions, suggestions, and offerings of hope during my quest to reach this important decision.  I hope I can expect continued friendship and support even if this was not what you had hoped for me."

Can you believe I had the audacity to write that?

Can you believe my lack of morals?

id you ever fathom I would sink so very low?

This was her comment, "To me you are a weaker person for your daughter.  Maybe that's unfair, but crap posts like this make it true.  Shame on you." 

Additional comment moments later, "poor child."

She is really pissed about my perfume choice.

She must hate Paul Sebastian.

Maybe she knows him and he is an evil man that secretly feeds poison to baby kittens?  Or he steals elementary children's lunch money?

Maybe she is allergic to perfumes and is standing up for any and all people with scent intolerance?

Is all of this confusing to you?

Dear Lord, I hope so.

I have to admit that when I read this my heart started pounding and my hands were shaking.

I do NOT deal well with being in "trouble."

I am a pleaser.  I am middle ground.  I like everyone around me happy and amused.  It isn't always a productive position and I will now probably be attacked for this, but I think I am ok with that.

I felt attacked and shocked.

I understood, though strongly disagree with, her general idea.

I was posting about fluffy unimportant things on a monumental Election Day when she felt I should be shouting from the rooftops (of Facebook, the real source of political influence, of course,) my passion for my politics, especially as a woman.

Well, only if I were shouting about her candidate, obviously.

This comment on my fluffy post though was just a slice of the crazy I have read from people.

Can we all breathe?

I am not dismissing anyone's feelings and emotions here, through I am confident I might be accused of that after I post this blog. I know people with genuine fears, concerns, and frustrations and I understand.

If you feel the need to attack someone right now though for providing a moment of levity in a very stressful time then we're seriously doomed.

At the very least you are doomed to hate me so perhaps we should part ways.

I don't tell very many people this, but I am sarcastic.

Some people yell or bite their nails or demean others or drink or smoke or exercise, I make comments or jokes when things get tense and stressful.

I'm a sarcasm addict.

I am not seeking help.

Perhaps it isn't always appropriate, but I do like to think that most of the time these comments provide a moment to stop and smile.  An act I find quite lovely and necessary to most of life.

To imply that I am somehow a disgrace to women, or worse that I am teaching my daughter to be weak, to be kept by a man, or be less than she can be is straight up hateful.

Particularly harsh on a non-political post I might add.

Is this where we are going?

I don't think so.

I think this was an isolated (though I have seen other comments other places with similar sentiments about women in general) incident. I like to think that this friend was crazy with emotion and anger and I was just where those emotions landed.

It matters though.

It matters to be kind and respectful.

It matters to speak up when real wrong is taking place.

(Such as if I had chosen to start wearing Giorgio of Beverly Hills.)

It matters to teach your kids how to spell, or they really won't ever be president and will be forced to only care about perfume and other shiny things.

They might accidentally start aspiring to be a Badisno and who knows what kind of pain that could bring if we ever find out what it is.

Stella's actual attempt to write "I Could Be President" I love kindergarten.  


I'm ready for a little joy folks.

I'm ready for random acts of kindness to flood my Facebook newsfeed.

I'm ready for people to put their passion in to productivity to make positive change.

I'm ready for someone else to figure out exactly how that happens because I can barely figure out how to get my kids to unpack their lunch boxes so I am out on the big idea discussion for politics.

I'm still an awesome Mom though and I'm killing it as a sarcastic woman.

Random Facebook hate will not bring me down.

Well, for long.  I was pretty emotional for a few minutes.

Then I remembered that the comment was inappropriate and unkind and I reject it.

Go find your joy friends!

And.....If you haven't done so already, please check out my friend Judy and my new Facebook page, 2 Moms In A Bar.  Like us and then watch us yammer on about all sorts of important topics.  We'll probably discuss perfume and other hard hitting topics soon.

This week we covered some friendship thoughts and would love to hear from you about things you would like discussed, questions you have, things you have been wrestling with, etc.

It's fun.

Don't you want to have a little fun?




Monday, October 24, 2016

I Jump On The Campaign Trail

I read an article last week that really resonated with me.

I'm not sure it can be called an article. I read it via a FB link and it was essentially the Cliff Notes version of a sermon a pastor gave regarding the upcoming Presidential Election.

I think my favorite part of the whole thing was that he didn't mention either candidate.

He didn't talk about anything remotely political or personal.

It was dreamy.

I have no interest in engaging in any type of debate on the issues or the candidates.

I think we can all agree things are a bit of a shit show though.

Or you don't agree.

Whatever.

I personally think things are a bit crazy.

I'm not enthusiastic about either candidate, but I do strongly oppose one of them.

What I have abhorred most about this election though is the panic.

I'm guilty of this panic myself.

I know I have felt genuine fear about one of the candidates.  I have created a scary scenario in my head, told myself a frightening story that isn't true about the future of our country if either one of them are elected.

I know I am not alone.

Do you sort of wish I would just hurry up and give you the Cliff Notes version of this post about the Cliff Notes version of that sermon?

Fine.  Here it is.

It doesn't matter.

I mean it does.

But, it doesn't.

Allow me to clarify.

This pastor pointed out the hatred and despicable behavior by both candidates, but even more so by some of the people supporting the candidates.  Instead of a dialogue about issues and opinions and real discussions about how different laws and perspectives change real people's lives, it's, well....it's a shit show.

The pastor didn't say shit show.

He probably isn't supposed to say shit show.

I can say it all I want to say it.

It's dangerous for us to spread the message of doom and gloom if one candidate is or is not elected.  

It's irresponsible for us to feed our children fear, or worse, hatred.

(The desire to not feed my children a message of hatred has been a challenge this year when confronted by such a strongly disturbing person.)

I know people on both sides who have brain washed their children to violently hate the other candidate.  This feels wrong to me in so many ways.  I get it, but I feel like it starts a habit to shut out the voice of someone you disagree with rather than hearing their views, doing your own research, and making your own educated opinions.

We should be brainwashing our kids about good things.  How about training them to listen to good music or love all things about the 1990s?

At dinner every night I have my children say one nice compliment and one constructive criticism about each candidate.

Such as Donald Trump wears nice suits, but I feel his foreign policy is too polarizing.

Or, Hilary Clinton seems to really want to help people, but I feel her lipstick is yucky.

Fine, we don't really do that.

We have had some great, though tricky car conversations though about building walls and abortions and welfare and the constitution and self tanner.

It's tricky because for these issues there are lots of opinions, lots of facts, lots of perspectives.  Some are perspectives that are affected by our family's faith, which also affects our family's sense of doing the right, kind thing.

I have an overall point.

Let's just all try to remember that regardless of who wins on November 8th, perpetuating a fear that America will basically be nearing destruction because of one person or the other is false and irresponsible.

No one is that powerful, except God.

And if you don't believe in God, then at least believe that Trump or Clinton alone are not the sole authors of our country's story, we are and will continue to be so much more than that.

Most importantly, kind.

Maybe I should have just posted a link to the pastor's summary?

It was significantly shorter and possibly far more meaningful.  Oh well, you've read this far.

Regardless of which side you are on....VOTE and show your kids that voting matters, even if you think it doesn't.  It's a parent's job to fake the importance of things we don't really want to do.

Like eating kale.

Voting is more important than eating kale.

I should clearly be on someone's campaign.



Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Next Step

I knew my people wouldn't fail me.

My last blog post has elicited all sorts of ideas and discussions.

Let's have a moment of joy for how easy it is to share and connect with people about ideas right now.

I have received texts, phone calls, and emails with thoughts on the issue of being lost and suggestions of what I could do. I have also had lunch, breakfast, and another outing scheduled for tomorrow to help process through this.

My tribe is the best.

Get a good tribe.

I can be your tribe if you need one.

We can do this.

Turns out, this is extremely common.  Most of the women I heard from either did struggle or are struggling with finding their place.  Wanting more, but not sure what that more is or how to get it without sacrificing their current role of Mom/Worker/Both.

Or their small slices of freedom.

I'm not burdened with much freedom currently so I don't have an struggle with giving up all my free time.  I guess that is a perk right now.

Thank you Max!

I didn't feel insecure about feeling lost, I am usually quite comfortable in my challenges, but it is always nice to know that you are not the only person trying to find your way.

Unfortunately now I am in a race against all these other lost moms to find the most amazing thing to do before they find it and steal it from me and I am a total loser.

Nothing fuels a better world than the scarcity mentality.

Obviously I am kidding.

I'm not in a race with anyone because I have no idea what I would be racing them toward.  I'm not a huge fan of racing in general so I'm perfectly content to settle in for this journey of self discovery, potentially ending with me just readjusting to where I am.

I really am quite the go-getter.  Endless ambition right here.

I know you are dying to know the suggestions.

Run for School Board
Volunteer for School in some formal capacity
Bookkeeping
Write More
Revamp my Arbonne business
Help Friends with their current business
Go back to Law School - thank you Tractor

I also went shopping with a few friends yesterday (yes, current life has it's fantastic days,) and I did see this outside Anthropolgie.



I think we can all agree that me getting a job at Anthro would have catastrophic consequences on my marriage though, and I really like my husband.

Since I would be paying for childcare, plus spending every dollar I made, plus $1000, to purchase intricately knitted shawls and bohemian looking dresses that would make me want to run in a field...which I would never have time to do because I would be working retail around the holidays and my kids would be sad because we couldn't do any of the things we usually don't do anyway but they feel sad about suddenly because I am helping people buy clothes while they hang with a babysitter and fuel my guilt about never making homemade mac and cheese that I didn't make before I started at Anthro but now truly can't happen because I would never fit in my discounted AG jeans after eating that crap and Alex would be sad because he loved those jeans and now has to counsel our previously well-adjusted kids on why their Mom is always at the store instead of making their lives perfect.

I wonder if I would get a headset though?

I really, really want a headset in whatever I end up doing.

Ok, Anthropologie just isn't a good fit.

A friend of mine leads life balance retreats for women and she sent me some info on that, which did sound like a good idea.  Check out the link below.

www.familylifebalance.com

We could all do one together.

These are based on a book by Renee Trudeau called The Mother's Guide to Self-Renewal so check that out if you feel called to do so.  Word on the street is that it's amazing.

She also told me about a fiction book that deals with this topic called The Ten Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer.  Unfortunately she doesn't recommend the book as a good read, but the title is just so perfect.

I keep thinking about that title.

This phase in life is like a really long nap for your brain and your sense of self, that totally exhausts you.  I have reached that ten year mark of doing this gig and am yearning to wake up, but Max.

Always, but Max.



I want to steal her title and write a better book.  Perhaps The Eleven Year Nap has a certain ring to it?

No?

Keep the ideas coming folks, please.

I'm honored and excited to hear when anyone is thinking about this sort of journey of re-self discovery....for me or one you are on for yourself.

I'm going to keep listening and being open.  I'll keep writing.

I'm also starting something random with my friend Judy because we amuse ourselves with our discussions.  Perhaps you'll find them amusing and relatable too?

Coming soon on Instagram and Facebook....2momsinabar

That's genuinely all I can say.

You should follow us just in case we're amazing.

Or not...you never know.




Monday, October 3, 2016

Lost, But Different From The TV Show

My last post had some people concerned that I may be feeling depressed.

(Hey Mom and Jenn Kloubec!  I love you!)

That is not true though.

I am no stranger to having dark days.

(I'm looking at you post-Aiden 2005 and post-Max 2015.)

I am not feeling depressed at all though. I am full functional Leslie, just a little lost.

As many of you know, Max's arrival was a complete surprise.

A complete surprise which I am eternally grateful for, but a surprise none the less.

There was a reason that Stella was to be our finale.

I was done.

I have served my time as the mom of the little ones.

I've arranged play dates in the park, joined mom's groups and attended Bible Studies for the free child care.

(And for the Jesus, but I really do remember holding a flier for the first Mom's Bible Study I ever participated in and tearing up when I saw that I all I had to do was buy my study book and then childcare was provided...for 2 hours!)

I have built train tracks and made my own play-doh and memorized the morning line up for PBS Kids.  I have figured nap schedules and tricks for healthy toddler snacks and researched the best Little People toys.

I am over it.

My brain truly CAN NOT handle another kid TV show.

I have memorized the theme songs for Handy Manny, Micky Mouse Clubhouse, Sofia the First, Sid The Science Guy, and Super Why.

I do not want to know what is going on with Daniel Tiger and Paw Patrol. Just no.  No.

I don't want to find myself singing their songs.  This information is part of a world that I am straight up not interested in being around.

A few weeks ago I was thrown in to a high profile position for a vigorous community action campaign.

Or perhaps I posted a few things on our neighborhood FB page and hosted a meeting at my house (which I typed up talking points to discuss!) for a neighborhood school awareness situation.

Potato - Potado

(Is that even how you would type that expression?  I hope you all understand.)

It felt good though.  It felt really good.

I had purpose beyond the walls of this house. I was using my brain and my voice to work toward an action.

It was life giving to me.

I also was on the news for approximately 20 seconds so it played well to my need for attention.

Very important.

It was less than a week of all consuming work. When it was over I was relieved to be able to get some of my daily "Mom life" tasks completed, (and get my lashes done,) but it also left me hungry for more.  The end of all that hustle and doing left me feeling all that much more empty when I searched for a way to entertain Max for a few hours at the park the following week.

The intensity had been too much, but I sorely missed the task and the purpose it had provided.

A friend and I are toying with the idea of starting a restyling/decorating business. We worked together on my remodel and found we loved collaborating.  She has a true talent to see a space and be able to come up with a way to make it work beautifully.  Decorating is not my natural gift, but I can hang with the idea collaborating and I am great with client finding.

I also provide witty banter and snacks.

I am a real catch.

We are working with a few friends for free to see if we like it.

(No, we are not taking on any more free clients.)

I love being with my friend.

I like the work.

I'm not on fire though.

I don't feel inspired and purposeful like I want to feel.

I certainly don't think we'll be on the news anytime soon, so what's really the point?

Totally kidding.

I have a decent sized Arbonne business that is rolling along in spite of my taking time off of working that business.  There is nothing that can pay me like Arbonne, truly if you need to make a lot of money and don't want to work full time you should be running to that organization.

Unfortunately, it's just not on my heart right now. It isn't speaking to me.

In some ways I wish it were.

I've prayed about this a lot lately.

I'm waiting to hear what speaks to me.

I'm mostly praying that when I do hear something it won't sound like that theme song from Paw Patrol.

I have been a full-time stay at home Mom since Aiden was born almost 11 years ago and I love that role.  I know there is real value and purpose here.

I also know there are lots of ways to be an amazing Mom and I'm not sure I still need to be the one building the train tracks or grocery shopping with my 20 month old while he refuses to hold the chocolate donut I gave him.



It's gross.  I realize.

This is where I am now though folks.  I am doing this stuff for the fourth time and I have simply lost steam.  I left this world of babies and toddlers and was pretty over the moon about it.

Max is worth being back.

Max is worth learning the theme to Paw Patrol....I just don't want to learn it.

I need a life coach.

Or a job.

Or both.

Or another baby.

KIDDING!!!!!

Call to action....Please call, text, write, or Facebook your detailed plan for my next phase in life.

I would like to be here for after school and evening time so take that in to consideration when you construct the perfect situation.

I would also like to bring in one million dollars a month and bring about world peace.

I feel so much better knowing you guys are working on this now so I can stop stressing.






Thursday, September 29, 2016

Lamest Blog Post Ever

It's hardest for me to start writing when I haven't for a while.

I usually have a big event that sparks my need to "write it out" and explore it in words on the screen, and then it feels easy to just keep going.

It's been a while though and lots of big things have happened, but I was lost in the chaos.  I never forced the moment to sit by my computer and ignore the chaos just long enough to express and process it.

So here we are, it's been over five months.

Nothing written.

I lost my big moments to start with some ease....so I am starting where I am.

Seems like a logical place to begin.

The last five months were packed with opportunities to make you laugh and make me see the funny side of the insanity that is my normal life.

The tough moments are my favorite to write about by far...and there were a few pickles this past summer.

The lice situation.


All but Alex had lice, even Max.  It sucked.  It really, really sucked.


The REMODEL.



I cannot stress enough that you should avoid having a toddler around when remodeling. This was only one of the "situations" we had during the process.





I am so grateful to be done, but that process consumed me and was pure torture with a toddler around.    

I eventually started having my trim carpenter make all my decisions because I simply was not capable of processing anything else.

That sounds absurd, because it is, but it was absolutely how things went down after I started losing all my marbles.

The death of two AC units also brought on a bit of torture in the middle of August, in Texas.  I don't have a photo of any of us sweaty and being extra cranky though because I rarely remember to pull out the camera in those times.

I have my faults.

I do have this photo of my children eating an overpriced meal once I went off the edge and Alex sent us away to a resort nearby where they had air conditioning and people named Robert who will bring you anything you want to drink.




There was definitely more good than bad this summer. 

There was joy in so many moments, in so many places.

Vail, Colorado in a fancy resort.




Bulk wine deliveries.


Neighborhood Swim Team


Quick access to Grandma and Tractor for dinner in a strange German restaurant where most of my children ordered the German classic...spaghetti.


My children helping to write blessings on the wall of a home being built for husband and wife veterans.


An adorable baby in a bucket of beer.




Nothing could top the return of school though. See the joy on Aiden's face?



Even Max has started his time at school with two days a week in a Mother's Day Out program.  It is glorious.



We are seven weeks in though and I am starting to feel lost again.

That initial euphoria of having a few hours to myself and many hours with just one toddler is waning.

I am losing my lunch packing steam.  Bagging my own chips feels like too much effort and I started buying the bagged Sun Chips.  My kids won't touch the onion ones though so I have so many extra bags of onion chips that I feel guilty and try to eat them myself, but I hate them too so I open them and then throw them out so I can at least say I tried. Soon I'll probably slip in to mini bags of Doritos because I can't be bothered to make a special trip for slightly better, prepackaged potato chips and I can't for the life of me stand to bag the chips the night before by myself because I am so over the day. I need some time to myself and bagging chips for my kids at 9 PM is just too much to ask. I WON'T DO IT!

These are the things that are wearing on me.

I realize the pathetic nature of all the words in that chip paragraph. It's just how it's going down right now though.

I feel overwhelmed.  

I feel I'm drowning.

I feel smothered.

I feel this is life and I need to just get a grip and get on with it.

But I am struggling.

But I really don't know why.

In general I can get all of my kids' needs taken care of without too much insanity.  Or a regular amount of insanity that I am comfortable with now that I have four children.

I can cook and take care of the house and laundry.

What it comes down to is I am craving something more.  I am restless. The kids and house are not enough.  They are not me.

What do I want to do though?

Lamest blog post ever.

This is where I am though.  Starting where I am.  No big thing to be funny.  Just me a little lost.

Next post will be more.

Promise.





Wednesday, April 6, 2016

What Is Going On?

We had a great spring break.

(I know, spring break was a million years ago for the Texas people reading, but bear with me.)

The kids loved Great Wolf Lodge, we had a good time because the kids were pleased, and Max could roam freely in a lot of places.  

Other than Cole getting picked on in the wave pool, Aiden punching a kid in defense of Cole, a 6 am fire evacuation, Max being terrified of a fake gorilla at dinner and having to leave the restaurant, and half the family being sick when we returned, it was a perfect family getaway.






I realize I sound like I am being sarcastic about the "perfection" part, but if you were actively participating in our current stage of parenting, it really was as close to a perfect trip as we could get.

Two days filled with an acceptable amount of chaos and torture is our current definition of perfect.

Welcome to parenting four young kids. 

Max is so challenging anywhere that he can not be easily contained so a large indoor water park and kid-friendly hotel was as good as we could hope for right now.  We had been at a beautiful house in the hill country the weekend before and Alex and I literally had to walk with him at every moment because there were stairs or a cliff or a hill to open water everywhere so we never could both sit down at the same time.  

We are at the annoying water park stage of life. 

Cole getting picked on was sad, but at the same time it was amazing to hear that Aiden stuck up for him.  Our kids play together, but often fight and find their own things to do at home, but on this trip they all played together.  Even Stella was included in Aiden and Cole's adventures.




Sweetness.

Every since spring break though, I can't find a rhythm for life.

I feel somewhat lost, overwhelmed, and always ten steps behind where I should be.

I can't seem to find even thirty minutes to sit down and babble on the internet.   I'm not exactly sure what has happened, but I am reasonably sure it is Max's fault.

He has moments where he plays independently and lets me accomplish few things, but any of my to-do's which involve sitting at the computer are strictly forbidden. 

I assume he is collaborating with Alex to avoid any online shopping.

Or he just hates when he sees me rest. 

I think all my children are most comfortable and secure when I am running around cooking, picking things up, doing laundry, or carrying the youngest child around with me. 

I spend a confusing amount of time picking up bread.  Max enjoys taking items out of the bread drawer so that he can eat the bread, dump it on the floor, or snuggle with it so the bread is more interestingly shaped for making sandwiches. 

I love a good bread match up challenge. 

Thank you Max.




I also spend a lot of time cleaning up pools of liquid I find on the floor. All of them look like water, but actually end up being pee, dog vomit, or sometimes actually water.

Something doesn't seem right when I am smelling a wet paper towel multiple times a day.

This situation is the result of Max bashing his water cup against things and spilling large quantities of water, dogs drinking water too fast because I so rarely keep it out for them because Max will spill it if left unattended, and general dog anxiety from being ignored due to too many other life forms in this house which require more attention than they do.

Rarely is the pee a result of Max's attire pictured above.  I actually do follow him around on the way to the bath.

I have been copying and rewriting the same to-do list on my calendar for three straight weeks.

One of those items is blood work my doctor told me to go do.

That feels important, but apparently it's not more important than the random things I keep doing each day.

I just can't get it together.

It has taken me three days to write this post.  I have zero memory of what the top half of this post is even about now. Did I mention spring break?  Did I tell you I'm scattered?  That's basically all I have in my head right now.

One of my biggest challenges in writing this after I stuck Max in his crib was the computer mouse.

It sounds like an easy task to change the batteries, but it turned in to one of those children's books, "If You Give A Moose a Muffin," or "If You Give a Dog a Donut."

I had to change the batteries so went to the tub where we keep batteries.

I found a receipt I had been looking for over the last few months.

I put the receipt in my wallet and saw a check I forgot to deposit.

I deposit the check via my cell phone and realize my cell service was just disconnected.

I call AT&T to figure out what's going on and they tell me they didn't mean to do that and turn it back on but they need me to check my TV service.

I turn on the TV and realize my DVR isn't working.

I get them to fix the DVR and see the time on the TV and realize Max never ate lunch.

I feed Max lunch and realize my refrigerator is scary dirty.

I clean the fridge and create a giant mess in my kitchen.

Someone please help me stop the madness.

I just want to change a battery, make a sandwich with normal bread, stop smelling wet paper towels, and sit down for a few minutes.

It sounds so simple.

Did I tell you about spring break?

What is going on?











Thursday, March 10, 2016

Max Defies The Odds and Gets Cuter

Yesterday, this happened...




I mean, there are hardly words.

I can not



stop


taking



pictures.




I feel like I have a new doll.

It's unlike any doll I ever had as a child though because I am overcome with all sorts of mushy feelings the moment I see him in these glasses.

Also, if I had a doll that had glasses it wouldn't take them off.

Repeatedly.

Like every time I put them on it's head.

I wish I had a doll.

The doctor offered a simple strategy for a smooth adjustment for Max.

When he takes them off, give him a few minutes and try to distract him with something else, then put the glasses back on his head.

Then try to occupy his hands with something he is interested in so he won't reach for the strap.

Then act out a brief portion of the Broadway musical Cats, complete with costumes and appropriate lighting, because babies love Cats and outdated musicals.  5-7 minutes is fine, keep it simple.

Repeat for about a month and then if he still won't keep them on we'll try something else.

Fine, he didn't mention the Cats performance, but he might as well have.  Max has had glasses for approximately seventeen hours, 12 of which he has been asleep and I'm losing my mind trying to entice him to wear them.

This would be so much easier if he were slightly older so I could handle this the way most challenging situations with children should be handled...bribery.

Wear your glasses for one hour and you can have some ice cream.

I offered, but he acted like he didn't even hear me.

I feel like there should be some way to fast track a fourth kid to adjust to glasses.

Perhaps the doctor should have to come live with us for the first 48-72 hours and be in charge of this?

Maybe they could be medically attached to his face?

Perhaps there is a spell we could cast to make him unaware the glasses are there?

I'm open to suggestions here.

Everyone is asking if Max has noticed any difference when wearing them.

I do understand the question, but I would like to remind everyone that Max still aggressively slams his pointer finger on to his high chair tray to demand more food, so he's not so much in to explaining new revelations about his improved sense of sight yet.

Please rephrase the question.

Or don't, because it's amusing every time.

I did assume there would be a big Oprah "a-ha" moment when he put on his glasses.

This was mostly fueled by my friend Keri sending me a video of a baby wearing glasses the first time.  I didn't actually watch the video, because I forgot, but she told me all about the baby hearing his mom's voice and turning to her and getting so excited upon seeing her face clearly for the first time.

It sounded magical so I assumed Max wouldn't let me down.

Please check out the emotional video below.



Despite the fact that he doesn't actually see my face in this video, it's apparent that he really could not have cared less.

He was more excited about that fruit snack than when he saw my face through the glasses the first time.  Perhaps he also thought I magically pulled it out of his ear?

I forced my sweet babysitter to come along on this journey to video this HUGE moment.

Sorry Mandy.

You'll never get those 30 minutes back.

He has had a few periods where we he will wear them for 20 or 30 minutes.  He wore them for about 20 minutes this morning until Stella touched them.

Stella has to go live with my parents for a while now.

I'm kidding.

But seriously I thought about it for a few minutes after that.

I'm sure he'll get used to them and soon it will just be the norm, but can I get a few prayers that this takes less than a month?  I am reasonably confident that I will lose my mind before we reach week three.

That would increase the chance of me dressing like a Cat and singing Memories though....something to consider.

I'll keep you updated.










Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Keri Says to Look Up...So You Have To

Not sure how it happened, but I am included on a Facebook group for moms with babies.

That doesn't sound overly strange because I have Max, but many of the moms, unlike me, are new to motherhood and still have hope of finding the right answer to all the questions they post.

There is, understandably, a lot of seeking.

Should I buy a jogging stroller? (yes)

What brand of formula is best? (doctor question)

Should I leave my baby home on my vacation?  (always)

Is there a way to properly cut baby bangs? (proper hairstylist)

Should I feel guilty about daycare?  (no)

Should I let my baby cry it out?  (probably)

What is everyone doing with their placentas? (what the what?)

I feel so many things when I read these.

Sympathy, curiosity, confusion, exhaustion, and perhaps at times a little bit like I'm watching a car wreck and can NOT look away.

That placenta discussion was legit.  I had no business reading every response since I won't be faced with the placenta issue anymore, (and there were over 30 comments,) but I was just so curious.

The things you don't know are happening with placentas would astound you.

I want to give everyone on that group a big hug.

Even when someone is just asking a question about milk, it feels wrapped in concern that they are going to screw it all up.  As if failure to make the perfect decision about percentage of milk fat or placenta usage or that baby hair, will divert off the path of a great life.

Hear this...you and your child will be just fine whether you turn that placenta in to a pill or plant it in your yard or forget it came out entirely and leave the hospital with zero placenta thoughts or plans.

The latter happened to me four times and I'm a parenting genius!

Just yesterday I was marveling at my ability to catch Max playing with scissors before any harm actually came to him.  I arrived 5 minutes EARLY to Stella's ballet costume meeting, which means I also knew it was even happening.  I took care of all the things Max threw in the toilet before they clogged the entire thing.  I only let my voice go to that scary place when trying to manage dinner-bath-bed twice last night.

AND....

On Sunday I went to a birthday party where this was happening and I didn't even scream.



That's just amazing parenting.

This might surprise you though, I don't have all the answers.  None of us do.

My friends with a lot of kids are just as jacked up as the new Moms, the problems they are concerned about are definitely different...the feelings are the same.

New Mom fear over how many ounces of juice to give her toddler is old Mom fear over how her ten year old is going to work through anger issues.

There are all sorts of challenges and situations you never thought you would have to deal with and suddenly they are making life hard for your child, and you have no clue how to make it better.

And it sucks.

Inadequacy is a real struggle for all parents.

I don't know a single parent who doesn't feel concerned from time to time that they are doing what they should be doing for their kids.

(Except possibly my brother or my Mom.)

It's an overwhelming feeling when their child is struggling, or when they are making a big decision, or when a parent screws up...because we all screw up.

(Except possibly my brother or my Mom.)

I come bearing great news though.

You are in fact totally inadequate!

Who doesn't like being right?

Other good news though?

You don't have to be more than you are!

You can ask your friends and consult books and poll Facebook about a million topics, but feel some confidence in the fact that you are doing great because you are seeking at all.

If you want to do the best for your kids then you probably are. It doesn't mean it will be easy or always turn out perfectly, but your best is enough for your part in all this.

God will take care of the rest.

As my friend Keri is constantly texting me when I complain and whine and stress (I'm really fun to be close friends with,) "Look Up," it will take care of everything.

We'll all keep seeking and asking and posting looking for direction and affirmation and that's OK, but it's still going to feel overwhelming and like we are screwing them up.

We probably aren't, but even if we are a little, every kid needs a good story and all the cool adults have therapists.

Just keep this on repeat...

I am an amazing parent.

I am enough.

Therapy is cool.

I can always look up.


And this 21st birthday video to my kids' nanny from last summer (shout out to the amazing Judy,) makes me think I'm doing it all right, for exactly 23 seconds.


Disclaimer: Cole was sick.




Friday, February 26, 2016

You Just Think I'm Going To Talk About Max's Eye Issues

Remember last year when we thought Cole was sitting close to the TV because he couldn't hear?

And then it turned out he was almost blind?

And his eyes were turning in?

But I had no idea because I'm the type of parent that really tries to foster independence early on for things like sight and hearing and, well, really all the senses.

I'm a free range sense parent.

It's a thing.  Look it up.

You can read the exciting saga of Cole's vision here, but the general idea is that Cole has really poor eyesight and I had no idea.

Oops.

I've found though, one good thing about having so many children is that you get to have a re-do on these types of mistakes.

(I'll think of another good thing about all these kids some day.  Check back.)

At Max's one year appointment the nurse showed him a black view finder type thing with lights and beams.  When Max looked at the lights, the magic viewfinder told her if there were any deficiencies in his eyesight, which apparently there were.

Like a lot of deficiencies.

On Wednesday, Max had his appointment with a pediatric ophthalmologist to have his vision fully checked.  I was told the appointment would take two hours, which I assumed was so long because they were first going to have to teach him how to say more than, "dog," and learn all the letters to take that eye exam.

Turns out that was not necessary.

(It would have been more entertaining if they could have pulled that off though.  So much for doctors being amazing.)

I was very concerned about how this was all going to go down. A two hour medical appointment during nap time with a one year old?

This is my zone though.  I've been taking small people to awful situations to be extremely uncomfortable for over ten years now. I stocked my purse with 6,000 raisins and crackers and food pouches and bars and water cups to be sure I could feed him out of any rough patches.

(I'm pretty sure this is not the correct approach to giving your child a healthy relationship with food, but with the fourth I'm doing whatever I can to minimize trauma to me, not him.)

Max did surprisingly well for the entire visit.  There was a kid's play area!  There was a Nemo!  There were empty offices with tissue boxes that may or may not have tissues any longer!  He sat patiently while the doctor held lens in front of his eyes and shook things and made funny sounds and switched the lighting a lot.

Several people asked me how they can test a baby's vision.  Apparently the doctor can actually just look at the workings of the inner eye while dilated and see what lens is the best match for the baby's vision.   She explained the whole process to me, but it involved a lot of physics and words I didn't remember from when I studied the eye in college.*

As far as I'm concerned, it was a lot of magic.  She could be a witch.

I'm not saying she is.

But I wouldn't be shocked or anything if I found that out later.

She was really nice though. She looked like she believed I understood her physics eye talk, and I needed that.  I was surprised by how much I liked having this very intelligent woman talk to me about complicated things while I nodded and yes'd my way through the conversation.

I, unfortunately, discovered I also felt a surge of pride when filling out the paperwork for Max when I arrived. It almost felt like I was employed in an office.  I had a clip board and a very nice ball point pen and Max was completely distracted by the baby play area so I could focus.

I filled out that entire form with excellent penmanship and 100% accuracy.  I don't want to start bragging or anything, but the receptionist did also comment on how neat my handwriting was AND how quickly I completed the entire task.

I think she was about to offer me a job.

Sorry miss, but I can't work here, I have to feed that small fat baby raisins and prevent him from throwing things in the toilet all day.

I realize this post was supposed to be about Max's eyes.  I really led you to believe that, but is anyone else a little disturbed that I enjoyed filling out a form that much?  What does this say about the lack of actual intellectual stimulation for me these days?

Alex has had several things happen recently with his job which are big accolades for him.  The details are sort of boring, but just trust me, there is stuff and it's really wonderful and I am extraordinarily proud of him.

I also might feel a pang of jealousy mixed in there.

I posted and article on Facebook this week, about the scientific link found between musical education as a child and future success. I tagged my brother with the comment that this was the explanation for our current success as adults.

(We had piano lessons as children.)

His response was "I didn't know Alex took piano lessons."

See what he did there?

My "success" is really just because I married someone successful?

Ouch.

It stings a bit because this is something I have been thinking about a lot lately.

I am a great Mom.  It's important.  It works well for our family.

Yada, yada, yada.

It's what I chose and what I want.  Childcare and extra chaos for four so I can go work at the eye doctor's office?

(Let's pretend she really did offer me a job.)

No thank you.

Did anyone else read this recent article, "Having It All Kinda Sucks?"

That's totally how I think my life would be, plus two more kids.  I don't want it.

Great for some, not for me.

Maybe that's why I keep writing here about my daughter's destruction of my wedding album and how I can't keep my calendar straight?

My kids are my success, but they can't be all of it.

Currently, it's my personal success every time I fill out a form, actually make it to something on time (or at all), and every time I finish writing something  good or bad because it's really freakin' hard to do with four kids.

For right now I have no choice but to focus on doing this every day stuff well, finding my successes here.

Please watch the following video on how successful I am at the following; comedy, silly words, nutrition, cute baby chairs, film, and child choking safety.



And I killed it on getting Max's vision checked. It took me 7 years to discover and rectify Cole's eye problems, but Max I have taken care of in less than 13 months.

Like a BOSS.


His actual glasses are blue-grey and won't be here for another week.  



*I actually didn't ever study the eye in college.  But I totally could have.**

**Probably not.  That ophthalmologist was really, really smart and it sounded really boring.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

What Time Is It?

This past weekend Aiden played in a soccer tournament.  This consisted of three games over Saturday and Sunday.

In the days leading up to the tournament I received about eight texts about the times and locations of games and the changes of the previously stated times and the locations.  I have an app on my phone with the schedule, a group text, a paper planner where I wrote all the times (in pencil,) and I had approximately five or six emails breaking down the schedule.

It is fair to say I was given ample information.

So obviously I told my whole family that our Sunday game started at 1:30.



What the hell?

See, I do this a lot. I frequently am off on a start time by thirty minutes or an hour for parties, dinners, games, meetings, appointments.  Sometimes I show up at the end time instead of the start time, which is extra fun.  It's like a little party trick I have.

But I missed the party because I decided it started at 3:00 instead of 1:00.

I'm that fun.  Alex loves this about me.

I haven't always been like this. I used to be able to put an event on my calendar, check it the day before and properly register the start time and location in my brain, then the next day execute arrival more or less on time.

I also used to pee without anyone else in the restroom.

Those days are gone.

I assume it's the trauma of all the child producing which in turn creates all the chaos in my brain, but I could be wrong.  I have several other excuses on any given day depending on what mood I am in.  It might be Alex's fault (a timeless favorite,) the overuse of technology in modern society, my lack of a pretty white office, my lack of  a manicure.

(It sounds like there couldn't possibly be a correlation to a manicure there, but you underestimate my power to draw connections where none exists. It's another gift of mine.  It's more fun that the inability to understand the start time of an event and has fewer negative consequences since usually no one believes the conclusions I come up with, but I can do it.)

What usually happens when I screw up the time is that I just pick a new time that I believe the event should have been scheduled for in the first place.

For example, the game this Sunday would have worked a lot more seamlessly in to my family's schedule at 1:30 to give us plenty of time to return from church where we were praying for the bad people who scheduled the game at 1:00.

We missed a birthday party entirely because I remembered the invitation reading that pizza would be served so I told myself the party was from 5-7 instead of 3-5, because dinner time obviously falls between 5-7 and not 3-5.  Who is making these plans? Why am I not consulted?

We can just say this is a quirk of mine and move on.  I could devise a new system for remembering start times, though I usually feel extremely confident in the times I have in my head, until I learn they are incorrect.

Perhaps Alex should start double and triple checking invites and emails for all our events?

There isn't really a big takeaway from this post other than a general public service announcement that if you would like me, or a member of my family, somewhere at a certain time, it might be a good idea to text me an hour or so prior to the start time.

Also, that I make mistakes.

I might be annoying to make plans with these days.

That mistakes happen to everyone.

Grant grace.

To me.

Love one another.

Including me and my late family.

See all those amazing connections I just made?



Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Quick, Someone Hold My Kid

I am a lady on the edge over here.

Sickness is running through the house.

Now, before I receive comments and messages about it, allow me to acknowledge that the ailments I am going to whine about here are routine and "easy."  They will quickly pass and my children and I will continue on about our lives.  I have it good, I realize.

I have friends with children who are fighting genuine medical challenges.  Cancer, heart issues, etc.

These Moms are in the trenches every day fighting for and with their kids.  They are warriors, relentless and brave in the face of so, so much.

Me?

Not so much.

I am weak.

We're going on a week here with a random assortment of vomit, fever, stomach pain, and general yuck and I am ready to check out.

As in, hop in my minivan (I would be willing to take the minivan and leave Alex his fancy car* as compensation for him being married to the worst person ever,) and just drive in to the sunset.

I'd miss everyone so much, I assume, but it would have some serious perks.

Last Thursday morning Alex picked Max out of his crib and discovered it filled with dried vomit.

(This is not normal.)

I would like to give props to Max for throwing up in the night and then promptly going back to sleep in it so he wouldn't have to wake his parents.  Apparently Max is aware of my weakness.

He also had a fever and a clingy need to be in my arms.

Max's fever and vomit and need to be held while he whined/cried continued through the weekend.

I thought it was rough.

Then Monday came and Alex and Aiden and Cole all started to feel badly.

On top of Max's situation.

Alex came home from work in the middle of the day with fever and chills and stomach pain. Aiden crashed in bed at 4:00 with fever, then starting vomiting shortly after.  Cole laid in bed with professed stomach pain and a headache.

I started to truly unravel.

There is a reason I didn't go in to nursing.

Tuesday morning brought zero relief for Aiden, but Alex was able to slowly start moving and got off to work.  Max didn't have any fever or vomiting, but still would not let me put him down without a dramatic show of emotion and whined and pointed while I held him.

Constantly.

All 25 pounds of him.

(I can't tell you how much my arms and back hurt.)

(I could, but it would be even more painful to real than this current post which is really just turning in to a play-by-play complaint session about my family's illness.)

Cole held fast to his claim of illness but I was reasonably confident he was lying.

Some of my clues:


  • Cole often is dramatic about sickness.
  • I caught him doing push ups around 9:30 am
  • Shortly after push ups he brought me the vomit bowl with a decent amount of spit in it and claimed he couldn't throw up, but he did have too much saliva.  Surely this was of great concern to his health.
  • He was trying to figure out how to slide on his blanket on the floor without being pulled.
  • He typed up this poem to butter me up.

  • He tried to do the dishes.
  • He did not succeed.
  • He finally told me he felt fine but didn't want to walk in late to school because....how embarrassing.
Lord help me.

Aiden is an easy sick kid.  He lays in bed, he moans, maybe reads, or watches a movie.  

Max is apparently an impossible, mean sick kid requiring so much physical attention it should be part of the terrorist torture program.

Max is the part that is killing me.  

I am suffocating.  

I literally can not even use the restroom without him screaming and clawing on me to hold him. 

He is not happy.  

His ears are clear, his fever is gone, there is no more vomit....but the torture continues.  

Alex is convinced he is just spoiled, but I don't think so.  I feel like he is genuinely not feeling great but I have no idea what to do.

Unfortunately I am out of sympathy.  I am at the point where I really just can't handle him anymore.  I am taking multiple walks a day because it's the only time he is calm and I don't have to hold him.

You probably think this is just his way to help me with my New Year's resolutions, because you are nicer than I am and haven't been holding him for a week.

Unfortunately I can't feel any gratitude for his help because I am done.

A sweet friend of mine on Facebook with two small children posted this yesterday with a little heart.





She is such a better person than I am.

All I could think of when I saw it was, "I know, doesn't it suck sometimes?"

Is there an emoji for that?

I know, next week we'll probably be fine.  This suffocating feeling will subside, I'll be able to break away, and I will feel substantially less crazy.  Normal life will resume and Max will walk away and play and I will be left with the most amazing arm and back muscles on a Mom of four.

Can we just fast forward?


*That fancy car would not last long with the brutality of our children on a vehicle.  This would just feel like a nice gesture at first.


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.