Thursday, October 23, 2014

Go away, week!

This past week has been exhausting for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which involved a broken back and a flu shot. Oh, and it's only Thursday. Let me explain.

On Monday I worked then did a quick grocery trip to a nearby grocery store, which happened to be Grocery Outlet. Grocery Outlet is sketchy at best, and sells interesting foods like your favorite breakfast cereal only in a totally weird flavor you've never heard of. But they also have an expansive wine collection which is also maybe sketchy but I don't like wine so I wouldn't know. I did score some new pot holders there for $2.99 because mine look like something you'd wipe a dog's ass with and are so thin you scald off a layer of skin each time you retrieve a casserole from the oven. But I digress......

After the grocery shopping, I picked up my daughter so we could have some fun mother/daughter bonding time which meant Starbucks on the way to the hospital. The children's hospital is probably only a few dozen miles from my home but in traffic it might as well be in Oregon. My daughter needed to be fitted for a back brace. Last week, we found out she has a broken back! Apparently she broke it doing gymnastics and has been in pain off and on for about two years. We never really thought much of it because she would complain after gymnastic workouts and then she would stop complaining after a few days. We figured it was just the nature of the sport. In June, the pain got worse so she had an x-ray. The x-ray revealed spina bifida (yes, the horrific birth defect, only in this case it was "occulta" which means "hidden" and so it wasn't discovered until this x-ray). We were referred to the children's hospital for a consult with the orthopedic specialists and after a follow-up visit it was determined she needed a CT scan. The result of that was a complete break in one of her vertebrae, which may or may not heal up on its own. So, now she gets to wear a back brace for 3-6 months. The spina bifida, by the way, is unrelated. Just a weird fluke.

As you might imagine, a back brace is no small appliance. As soon as we left the appointment, my daughter reminded me that she needed a "business" outfit for a conference the next day and we determined she did not have black pants or a polo shirt (as specified in the flyer) at home, so we headed to a clothing store. An hour later, we managed to find black jeans that sort of, kind of, looked like dress pants, a pair of pricey boots and a maternity sweater that fit nicely over the back brace. Ka-ching! We got home around 8 p.m. and the only good thing about that day was that my husband made dinner.

Tuesday I got my flu shot. Plus I had work and got to deal with all the requisite bullshit involved in raising multiple kids. I was tired.

Wednesday I had a long and stressful meeting at work followed by a long training with information overload so my head was swimming by the time I arrived home and all I wanted to do was lie down on the floor and eat homemade chocolate chip cookies. But, alas, no cookies. So, I cobbled together a dinner (I HATE MAKING DINNER) and then we had an evening of forced family fun carving pumpkins. But let me backtrack a bit.

Coordinating a family of six, including two young adults and two teenagers with their own busy lives for a trip to the pumpkin farm requires the organizing skills of a hopped-up housewife with a California Closet magazine. Fortunately, I am pretty good at such things, so that after a two-week investment in time and multiple text messages to the kids, I managed to carve out approximately two hours in which to drive to the pumpkin farm, take adorable photos, pick the perfect pumpkins, and leave in time for everyone to get to work and activities on time. We enjoyed this blissful family outing on Sunday before noon, which was notable in that we left the house before noon on a weekend and I have teenagers!! Did I mention that? Plus, none of them looked like hobos. And I have the pictures to prove it. See?

So, since we dropped $51 on pumpkins, and since last year we never got around to carving pumpkins because we were dealing with things like surgery and hospitalization, I was determined that this year we WOULD carve them. And we did, but for some reason, the evening turned out differently than I planned. For one thing, my oldest suddenly decided she would like to try on my wedding dress. So, she did. 

I had never taken it out of its tissue-paper stuffed, coffin-like box it was carefully preserved in. It looked like a headless dead person. I tossed aside the stuffing and shimmied her into it. She declared it "unattractive and so 90's." But then my youngest daughter wanted to try it on as well. So, she did. 

The really depressing thing was it fit both of them, and so I have living, breathing proof that I was once that small. SIGH! However, we did end up carving pumpkins and then, while the kids were finishing up someone exclaimed that American Horror Story was on and the little serrated pumpkin-carving knives were dropped like the bass as my four scurried to the family room to watch, leaving the carnage in their wake. 

Thank God they cleaned it up (after I told them to) and we ended up with some pretty cute pumpkins. I declined to carve mine because I am fundamentally opposed to carving pumpkins on the grounds that pumpkin guts stink and feel disgusting and I kind of liked my little gourd intact. 

We went to bed way too late so that this morning (and this whole day) I was pretty tired and really did NOT want to go to work. More stressful meetings at work ensued and I couldn't wait to get out of there. I was so happy to be able to come home and not run errands all afternoon. But that glee was short-lived when I remembered I signed up to help with the Fall auction/choir concert tonight. I'm supposed to "man" a table while the concert is going on, which I have no idea why I would have agreed to this because I could care less about the auction and only want to watch my son perform. I know I'm supposed to be a good music booster and all, but I'm REALLY not looking forward to interacting with a bunch of tired parents bleeding money on hot-ticket items like pizza gift certificates and Seahawks memorabilia. But, I soldier on! 

Except that my son JUST arrived home, exhausted and running a fever, insisting he cannot miss the concert because his teacher is mean and will grade him down if he misses. Plus, he's in two choirs. And has some solos. There's no time for dinner, and we're already late to pick up the husband on the way to the concert. Late as in, he's still in the shower at 4:57 and I'm supposed to drive in traffic to pick up my husband and arrive at the school at 5:15. And there's no way to notify the overly-zealous booster mom who's heading up the auction that I'm going to be late to "man" her table. So, yeah. This week can suck it. 

Tomorrow my calendar is unmarred by pencil marks. I have nothing on my agenda (yet). Perhaps I'll just lie on the floor and eat chocolate-chip cookies. But I'd have to make them first. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

I'm so tired of the bullshit............

I just read yet another blog post written by a mom who was basically screaming "Yeah, I'm a mom but I'm still a cool person! Motherhood doesn't define me! I smoke, for Christ's sake!" And to that I say:

Yeah, whatever.

I'm SO tired of all the bullshit we feed ourselves about motherhood, kids, and all the trappings therein. As if being a mother was not ENOUGH. It's a fucking HARD JOB, people. The hardest. In fact, no sane person would ever CHOOSE this job, but how do you know what you're getting yourself into? You don't know how your little angel is going to turn out. All you know is that you pee on a stick, you have life growing inside you, and you plan and scheme and imagine all the wonderful things that will come from having the world's cutest, smartest, most amazing baby.

And you have that baby and guess what? They're pretty freaking amazing! They're cute and smart and funny and WAY better than that other mom's kid. They're also little monsters, they throw tantrums (not only when they're two!), they hurl insults at you, they debate everything you say, and they break your heart over and over and over again. So, why in the HELL would you want to be a mom?

Some moms pride themselves on not driving minivans. As if that were the ultimate selling out. The truth is, it's a lot easier to haul your kids and their friends around in a minivan and thirteen cupholders looks pretty good when you're trying to feed everyone on a road trip. Better than sixteen ounces of pop on the floor. But there WILL be pop on the floor. And milk and Goldfish crackers and candy wrappers and all manner of other disgusting things you can't even imagine as you swaddle your soft, pink bundle of joy into the car seat for the first time.

Some moms will cry actual tears when they look in the mirror and they are carrying an extra five or ten or fifty pounds on their frame after giving birth. And they will lament how they've "let themselves go" no matter that their newborn has colic or their preschooler was just diagnosed with autism or their teenager is in rehab. As if they can actually do it all - maintain their beauty, their sanity and their sense of humor at the same time, while life stabs them in the heart time and time again.

Some moms will go back to school or change careers or take up public speaking so they can constantly reassure themselves that they still "got it" - ambition, drive, the ability to reinvent themselves over and over again. For what? To impress who? The kids don't care. The kids will love you no matter what you look like, or what you serve for dinner or how much money you make at your fascinating career. The kids will be thrilled when you play a board game, or get a Blizzard in the drive-thru at Dairy Queen, or take a picture of their latest Play-Doh creation.

I'm so tired of the expectations. I'm sick of people asking what you DO, instead of who you are. What do I do? Sometimes I solve problems that make achieving world peace look easy and sometimes I eat cake over the kitchen sink. But who am I? I'm a multi-faceted individual with many interests and dreams and hopes and wishes just like you. Why do I need to "prove" it by constantly achieving? Why can't I embrace whatever station of life I'm in without explanation or disparaging it or somehow adding a "yes, but?"

It's ok to be wherever you are. It's ok to be whatever you are. If you truly don't like where you've come to rest in life, you can change it. And if you truly DO like it, you don't need to explain it to anyone. Your enough is not their enough. What drives you, what you're passionate about, doesn't need to fit into anyone's mold. If having many irons in the fire fuels you, go for it! If living a simple life makes you content, so be it. As long as you are taking care of yourself and the humans you brought into this world, you're doing a great job.

Life is dynamic. It will twist and turn and change and you will become many different people over the course of your lifetime. What you once could not imagine may become your daily norm. What you once thought you could NEVER do, you will do over and over again. You will become so many different people. Who you are today is NOT who you will be tomorrow or ten years from now or on your deathbed.

You started out your life as an individual. You took a path known only to you. If you choose to be a mom, you'll have a chunk of time dedicated to the raising of little humans and that time will feel both endless and fleeting. It will be full of unimaginable joy and unimaginable pain. And it will be over before you know it. And then? You'll be a new individual. One who's weathered the storm and come out relatively unscathed. You'll have more time, more money and perhaps more energy to try new things. To reinvent yourself yet again. And hopefully you won't feel the need to justify everything you do and say. To prove you are more than "just a mom."

Stop kidding yourself. Embrace who you are, right now, without explanations or excuses. Chances are you're doing the best you can. And that's pretty freaking amazing.

Monday, October 6, 2014

My first born........

I did a quick scan at my blog posts and realized I have not yet had one dedicated to my first born (well, not this year at least!). So, here's a little bit about my Hayley.

Hayley made me a mother and that is the single best thing in my life so for that, I thank her. She was a great first baby - a gift, really. She was happy, chubby, cute, and pleasant. And in the blink of an eye, she grew up.  How did my little baby girl go from this:

a sweet little Raggedy Ann (the outfit was made by my sister Monica and she used my actual Raggedy Ann doll's dress as a pattern) to this:

A grown-up girl, in a relationship, living on her own, working full-time, and generally being an adult? 

It's preposterous, is what it is. One day I was propping her chubby little form in a baby walker (you know, the dangerous kind with WHEELS before they invented the Exersaucer), and the next, this:

She's her own person, my Hayley. Always has been, always will be. When she was nine years old, she sat her dad and I down at the dining room table (the kitchen table was not formal enough) and calmly laid out a list of pros and cons as to why she should get her own room. 

She's always been a free spirit - outspoken, loud, trying new things and making new friends. She was very social as a child but now prefers more solitary pursuits, like binge-watching Netflix and playing with her cat. She begged for a cat from age two, so it's no surprise she's ended up a crazy cat lady! 

Hayley has never been one to shy away from the spotlight, and she maintains many friendships and "fanships" in her online world. 

She loves her family deeply...........

She will be a wonderful mother one day, but has recently been questioning her desire to parent a teenager. Ha! She's so good with babies...........

She's strikingly beautiful. Even though she came over last weekend wearing a Micky Mouse sweatshirt, fuzzy fleece pajama pants, hair flat and limp and wearing her glasses. I said "did you just get up?" and she informed me she had just run an errand. Gah!

She's always been comfortable on stage, so it was no surprise that she was a drama kid in high school!

She's my first born. I love her! 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Why I take selfies...........

Selfies. Love 'em or hate 'em, they're here to stay. Photos have been around for ages - it's how we record our lives through the generations. Once, a photo took ages to produce and the results were the grainy, grim faces of our forefathers. Were they unhappy? Probably not, but they couldn't hold their smile that long. Now, we have instant photos and the ability to produce hundreds, if not thousands, of them a day if we wish. So, it's only natural that the "selfie" was created. Traveling solo? No problem - you can still look back on your vacation pictures thanks to selfies. Even better, they now have a "selfie stick" that allows you to capture an even bigger background and more interesting angles. No longer will you just have the memories in your head. My husband, I believe, was one of the original "selfie" pioneers. Looking through his high-school and college-day photos, there are many of his grinning face filling up the frame - selfies before selfies were cool! But he wanted to capture himself in a fun situation - camping, surfing, hiking - all things he often pursued solo with no one to hold the camera. 

So, why do I take selfies? The reasons are many, not the least of which is the fact that I am the photographer in the family. I'm almost never in pictures, so if one were to look back on our photo memories, it might appear that mom wasn't there at all. But I'm here! I lived! I enjoyed! I had fun! So, from time to time, I snap a picture of myself. 

I took this one because Hannah and I were waiting for the rest of our group to do the climbing wall at camp. Neither of us was about to put our asses in those unflattering harnesses, so we spent our time being goofy for the camera. And, really, my face? 

I took this one because Jeff and I were on an overnight trip, no kids, and I'm pretty sure I had just had my hair done because my highlights are on point here. Also, because this is our "traditional" selfie that we take on nearly every adventure we have. 

I took this one because we were hiking to Avalanche Lake in Glacier National Park and it was SO hot and we were tired and this huge, flat boulder was SO cool and refreshing. Plus, how weird did we look all pressed up against a boulder in a row while other hikers passed by? I like weird. 

I took this one with my sweet great-nephew, Kaden, because we took a similar one a year before and I was going to do a "transformation Tuesday" on Instagram, but of course I never got around to it. 

I took this one because I was relaxing by the pool in San Jose and I had a fruity adult beverage and I wanted the world (and my kids when they look back) to see that mom REALLY enjoyed her rare moments of indulgent alone time (full disclosure: Hannah was actually with me on this trip, but she was enjoying her own fruity beverage and not bothering me). 

Sometimes I like to take selfies to say "HEY WORLD! Look who I met!" In this case, it was Elaine Ambrose, an author I admire, who was attending the BlogHer conference in San Jose. We had JUST met in person and she immediately ordered up margaritas for us. She's my kind of gal!

I took this one because I was amused at the teeny-tiny ice cream cone sample I got at BlogHer and I liked how it turned out - huge eyes, pouty lips, flawless skin - thanks, filters!

This one was because Hannah and I were relishing the moment that we were on a vacation together,  attending a blogging conference which was a first for both of us! I wanted her to remember that we had so much fun on this trip.

This one was because we were being silly and look at my glasses! And the photobomber in the background. I want my kids to remember that mom was goofy. 

I took this one for pure vanity. I felt pretty, so I wanted to share my prettiness with my social networks. I want my kids to know that even though I complain about my looks I do, actually, sometimes feel pretty enough to want to take my own picture. 

I took this one in an elevator. Why? Because there was a mirror on the ceiling. No other reason. 

I took this one because the sun was setting on La Jolla beach, my 46-year-old husband was surfing the waves, it was a relaxed and wonderful time and I wanted to capture a picture of me, sun-drenched on the beach, happy and content. I would want my kids to look back on this one day and see that mom had her own life and she enjoyed it!

I took this one because I'm silly. And I like to make people laugh. 

This one was because Hannah and I felt so pretty this day AND we were given these gorgeous flowers, which just happen to be my favorite, so we snapped this pic and it remains one of my favorites!

I took this one at Olive Garden. My hair was straightened. I love this pictures of me and Harrison!

I took this one because I love to kayak and I really wanted to take a picture of me kayaking but it's really hard to do that when you're sitting in a kayak. Guess I need a selfie stick? 

This one I took so I could remember what it was like to see myself holding a baby. Mine are so grown up now!

This one was because I was enjoying my time with Jeff on a trip - just the two of us - and wanted to have a memory of that day and the background of the beach and palm trees around us. 

I took this one because my parents' dog, Sweetie Pie, jumped up on my bed and was being so cute. It's blurry and not the greatest, but I wanted to remember cuddling with this cute Basset Hound!

I don't think this needs any explanation! But I will say, FOUR WEEK OLD PUPPY!

Mommy enjoys a drink now and then. Is that a crime? 

This was a before and after of the day I got my hair done and Marie, my hairdresser, straightened it or me. How could I NOT capture this transformation? It was fun to be different for a day or two. 

I love this picture I took of myself with my cell phone! It shows how I look most of the time when we're on an adventure - faceless behind a camera. I LOVE my pictures, but sometimes, I want to be IN them too. This satisfies both and shows my "baby" - my beloved camera that has brought me so much joy!

I took this one because even I couldn't believe how wild my mane was! This was the result of walking on Cannon Beach for an hour in the wind. Holy Medusa!

This was a lazy Sunday at the beach, making daisy chains. I put mine on, looked into my cellphone and saw these angelic sun rays coming down. I like it because it shows me sort of hippie-ish and not mom-like. Who doesn't want to be a flower fairy once in a while? 

I took this one because my hair was fabulous that day. Again, vanity? Sure, but any female knows that all good hair days should be documented. 

This one was taken on the way to the airport for a vacation to San Diego with Jeff. I had a flower in my hair. I liked how it turned out after I put filters on it. Then, I used it as my profile picture on Facebook. 

I like to take pictures from above - they are so much more flattering. I'm not sure if I felt confident this day or if I was just bored waiting somewhere, but I like how my eyes and my shirt match.

This one is awful - my hair is crazy and we look weird, but I was trying to capture "HEY! We're on a cable car in San Francisco!" Sometimes, selfies fail. 

I just snapped this one really quick when Jeff and I sat on some concrete steps in Chinatown to rest for a second. I don't know why but I liked it so I kept it. 

Occasionally, I'll take a selfie for something promotional - like my friend Robin O'Bryant's book release! 

This was one day in the summer, a few years back, when I took just Arlie downtown. We visited Pike Place Market and bought beautiful flowers. It was a fun, rare day with just Arlie and me.

This one was another "I'm on the beach, look how relaxed I am. I don't have to yell at anyone to do the dishes or pick up the cheese stick wrapper on the floor. I don't even know where my kids are right now. And yet, I'm still functioning. And it's sunny. And I haven't a care in the world as I roll up my pants and wade in the ocean. Ain't life grand?"

Walking out the door, I popped this on my head. Nothing special, it's just a tiara. It's my SON'S tiara. He's 15. But isn't it a fabulous one? I don't see why I couldn't wear this to work. 

For some reason, I wanted to commemorate the day I went out on a boat and had my hair blown around at 40 mph on the water and all that happened was my bangs got straighter. No Medusa locks. Thank God for Goody hair bands!

I don't have many selfies with my ever-elusive adult daughter (and her cat!) so I snapped this one, clearly by the front door as she was leaving (again!). 

And occasionally, I take weirdo selfies. Like this one night when there was a supermoon............

Why do YOU take selfies?