Monthly Archives

March 2016

Spike Speak

I’m sorry, Spike, what did you say?

March 30, 2016

“Dad my shorties underwear is like yours, except mine has sweet little cuties on it and yours is just gray.”

“Dad, do you know why he’s called Jesus Cross? It’s because he died on a cross. Jesus died for our bad. Lots of people died on crosses. Like California. California had lots of people on crosses. They died for our bad in California.”


“Meetings are when two people talk to each other in peace.”

“This is not fun! [blech] I am not laughing!” [shouted while vomiting]

“My tummy hurts like a tornado went through it for 100 thousand days. I frowed up an olive even.”

“Do you care if I play my music? I care about whatever you do.”

“I made balance!” 

“Footie pajamas fill your feet with happiness.”

156H (2)

“Dad, I know you like to snuggle, but … just … no, thank you.” 

“I felt a bump in my tummy so … I just frewed up.” 

“Is that the disky d with the movie on it?” 

Uncle Map: “Spike, how was your day?”
Spike: “Not good. It was amiliating.”

“Sometimes grownups smell like a stunk when it raises its tail.”

 “Mama, you know, that skirt is beautiful. Can you try not to spill anything on it?”


What happens when we’re both sick?

March 25, 2016

It was the sort of discomfort that reaches into your sleeping soul and violently slaps the twisted dreams from the thought bubble above your head. It was 4a.m. and I opened my eyes with the realization I was sweating like a man in a T&T wing eating showdown during a milk shortage. My stomach ached and there were no negotiations to be had. No ledge to talk my self down from. It was a zero to vomit explosion and I had 5 seconds to act.


But what made the bout of the stomach ick a real shot to the jewels was that, just 8 hours before, my husband came down with the exact same ick. I could see slivers of electric orange lining the night clouds through my bathroom window from where I lay on the floor (why is it that the floor always feels so great when you’re sick?). The fiery announcement of dawn could only mean one thing … the children would be stirring soon. Fear violently flashed through my mind, though my face remained frozen in an expression of misery.

Around 6:45 Hank brought me a glass of water. I lifted my head – which felt heavy like Miley’s wrecking ball – and asked him, “What happens when we’re both sick?” He shrugged and shuffled back toward the bed. This was not a drill. We had a situation on our hands, and it was a first for us as parents. I lacked the ambition to search the depths of my brain, once built for problem-solving but now dulled by stomach acid, and instead reached for the very first thought that sauntered through my swollen mind. “Call my mom,” I managed to yell in a monotoned grunt. But he didn’t. Somehow he didn’t. Somehow my magnificent husband got the girls to the places they needed to be. I watched from my side of the bed with a drool puddle of admiration forming below my cheek.

We spent the day discovering what it looks like when both parents are down with the most brutal bug. You know how, when you’re feeling really sweet on each other and Monday morning is looming, you say things like, “Let’s call in sick and just spend the day together,” or “I wish I got paid for staying home and hanging out with you.” Well, this was like that, except not. At all. He slept in his miserable germ pool downstairs and I set up my infested force field upstairs. The saint of a man came up once or twice to check on me, but other than that, we remained in isolation.

The only perk to being down for a day – other than the smallest number I’ve seen on the scale in months – was that I cleared out My List on Netflix. So, rather than end this post on a puke-soaked sour note, I’d like to recommend the following titles for your next bout with the flu bug. Here now, in no particular order, are a few of my favorites from my 24-hour sick streaming binge.

Flu Viewing Party Playlist

Chelsea Does
OK, I was not familiar with Chelsea Handler, so I was coming in completely cold and, it turns out, entirely unprepared. My father-in-law, a huge fan, laughed childishly as I recounted my first impressions of her. I’m an over-sharer. I tell more than I keep to myself, but I look like a monk compared to this chick. I am Maria and she’s Sister Mary Clarence. I recommend the Marriage and Drugs installments if you’re short on time and can’t watch all four.

Grace and Frankie
Holy love for Lily Tomlin! She is so, so good in this series, and I can’t imagine any one playing her counterpart better than Jane Fonda does (9 to 5 what?!). Which, can we talk about Jane Fonda’s freaking body? The woman is 78 and looks like the girls on my super-secret “Motivation” Pinterest board. The entire series was unexpected and endearing and wonderful.


I’ve never kept my harmless-yet-overpowering feelings for Amy Poehler a secret, but with this cry-laughing flick, that little blonde piece of brilliance made me somehow love her more. I picture Tina and Amy just sitting in a writers’ room with all of their hilarious friends throwing out one-liners and laughing their adorable little asses off. While my tummy pains proved more powerful than the ability to truly LOL like the movie deserved, I did LIMM (laugh in my mind) till I had tears in the corners of my eyes. “Your pads all the way and you know it.”


This is 40
This one has been on my list for a long time, but, as you can see, it takes a virus to get my viewing party on. Divorce dialogue aside, I think I might have written this movie. Like, I truly believe that if I didn’t actually type out the words, someone climbed into my head and plucked them out of my neuropot (I made that term up. It’s the pool where my ideas swim around. A lot of them eventually drown. It’s crazy in there.). If you’re over 30 and you have children, watch. this. movie.


30 Rock
I was coming off of a Parks and Recreation high, and I needed something to take the edge off. It’s safe to say I’ve been stabilized. Hank thinks Tracey Jordan makes the show. I love Liz Lemon, of course. Either way it’s the perfect sitcom significant other rebound play. The similarities between Liz and Leslie make the funny a tad familiar and completely fantastic. Then I started listening to the Bossypants audiobook and now I’m having many, many feelings about “Mrs. Fey’s Change of Life Baby”.



Admitting I can’t be a screamfree parent

March 18, 2016

I locked eyes on her, like a famished lion stalking a tired antelope. She returned the glare.
We both knew someone had to blink. Someone had to release their shoulders and concede. But it wasn’t happening in this moment. Oh hell no.
She sat on the ground, her untied shoelaces mocking me. The contents of her bookbag strewn about as carnage from a furious storm.
If she would only get her crap together so we could catch the mother lovin’ school bus … I thought.
If she would only let me go get my darn stuffed puppy and markers … she thought.
And thus we found ourselves on the brink of a bubbling, violent volcano.

These are the moments you don’t see on Instagram. The ugly, infuriating, truthful snapshots of a messy life where little people have opinions, grownups have crammed agendas and no one is on the same clock. While I find these occasions overshadowing the sunny times more and more as my children age, I think moms speak about them less and less. I’m just as guilty! I put the good out into the universe because it’s cute and I want to remember my girls like that. I think we all want to view the time that’s passed through a clean, filtered lens, editing out all the untidy down days. But if I’m really being honest, the frequency at which I post to Instagram is way down, and the standoffs are way up.


After losing my shit to a particularly hot degree one night a few weeks back, I decided to checkout the book Screamfree Parenting, by Hal Edward Runkel. I am a yeller. I have a small, whisper of a wick of patience that, once lit, dissipates very quickly. It’s disappointing, too, because in my mind I’m this peaceful, supportive Mother Earth type. But outwardly, I’m more of the hell hath no fury type it turns out.

But can we be real for second? They want us to yell, right? Every time they ignore you, snap at you, spill their water by trying to drink it with no hands, fight with each other, express their distaste for the dinner you prepared after working 8 hours, ask the same question 20 times, hit each other, leave their clothes on the floor, splash water out of the tub, scream when you comb their hair, knock folded laundry off the bed, speak to you while you’re in corpse pose, refuse to get ready for school, or just act like wild, farting baboons,they are essentially filling out the card, licking the stamp and sending an invitation to go 100 percent ape shit on them. What really gets me is, depending on the day, the same things that make me want to freak the frick out on them, are the same things I get nostalgic about. (Being a woman is wild ride, man.)

But if Hal had a front row seat to my screaming, he would tell me that all of the negative noise is halting my efforts to create the well-rounded ladies I so desperately want to send out into the big world. The concepts of the book are reasonable and simple: 1) Take a pause and calm yourself down before interacting with your children, and 2) respect their space and place. There’s a lot more to the book but for the sake of this post, these principles pretty much sum it up.

When I lose it on my kids based on something they did, I am actually telling them they need to, “Calm me down,” according to Hal. I am holding them responsible for my mood, which is way too heavy for a 4 or 6 year old. And also, the author asks, what does that say about your self control? [Insert feelings of inadequacy.] It’s essential that you let your little one have their meltdown while you go to a happy place in your mind. You can’t react to their frustration. It’s theirs. Let them feel it and have it.

He also spoke about places and spaces. Now, to be fair, I was multitasking and tired during these chapters, so I’m a little fuzzy on the differences between the two, but he spoke at great length about a child’s bedroom. We tell them it’s “their room” but then we dictate how they should clean it , arrange it, maintain it, and on and on and on. Hal suggests resisting all urges to take a trash bag in and pitch everything out of  a fit of rage (my words) and instead offer to help your child clean should they feel so inclined. You should also knock and ask them if you can come in. If they say, “no,” then you will have to come back at a later time. This spacial theory goes for all decisions. You have to let your kids fail so that they can learn how to make decisions and live with the consequences, good or bad. You should always listen and offer to help, but never hover and never micromanage. Inspire your children to motivate themselves. This goes for homework, friends and social engagements, volunteering, and all of the other 8 trillion tiny decisions we want to just go ahead and make for our children so they can be as amazing as we, their parents, are.

And finally, Hal reminds his readers that you must put on your own oxygen mask first. You can’t help someone else when you’re gasping for air.St Bernard of Clairvaux, a French monk and notable thinker, had a theory about the different degrees of love. The first degree was love for self’s sake. The second, was loving another for self’s sake. The third was loving another for another’s sake, and the fourth degree was loving self for another’s sake. Hal suggests that we must adopt the fourth degree of love. We must care for ourselves and make time for ourselves so that our children don’t feel the pressure or responsibility to do it. We must make ourselves a top priority to show our children how much we love and respect them.

And that’s it, basically. Those are his secrets. I must admit the room thing had me like whoa, but there is some really good stuff to work with here.


So, what would a Screamfree Parenting scenario look like?

Say, for example, your child won’t tie her shoes. She knows how to tie her shoes, which makes the entire situation baffling, and, for a little mustard on top of that shit sandwich, you have 3 minutes to get to the bus stop. As she cry/screams that she just can’t get the laces right and her sock feels funny and she’s tired and she didn’t want Fruit Loops for breakfast and all of the other world-ending dilemmas she’s facing, you should simply make noise, like an ‘uh huh” to acknowledge that she’s speaking, all the while repeating Adele lyrics to sooth the flames in your soul.  Then say something calm and supportive like, “Gee, I hate it when my sock feels funny. What are you going to do about that?” And then stand back and watch her magically work through the situation. When she sees you aren’t reacting and she’s distracted with working through the problem in her mind, forward progress will be achieved. Thank you, Hal.

Now, I’m about 2 days off the book, and I would put my success rate at about a 15 on a 100-point scale. The problem is that this book assumes you’re working with rationale children and rationale adults. But there are just certain scenarios where no one is being rationale and the clock is ticking and you’re dealing with a room of punks. Practice makes progress, I suppose, but we’ve been on a roll with Titanic-size tantrums around these parts lately and I might need something a bit stronger than the Screamfree protocol.

Any other great parenting books out there?


The fear I see in my future

March 8, 2016

My new goddess crush Glennon says we have to face our pain. That’s tough talk for a gal who likes to push that ish all the way down under a box of Samoas and Bota box of moscato. We have to take that pain, she says, drink it in and let it transform us into wiser, stronger, better human beings. In that spirit, I’ll share my – not so surprising – fear here. I live in constant, paralyzing, gut-twisting horror of the year 2032. Why, you ask.

In the year 2032, my house will be empty. My chicks will be grownups starting to make their mark. The world will be bigger for them. They will be hitting their stride and scared out of their minds and settling into big loves that spark the biggest change in their lives.

In the year 2032 I’ll live with a deafening silence. The tiny heels I hear coming through the ceiling now, as they sail like superheroes off their bed will stop. There will be no more tip toes taking their 10 tiny steps down the hallway after a scary dream. The quarrels, the cries, the laughter, the make believe, will all be placed on a shelf, only to be brought down on holidays and Sunday dinners.

In the year 2032, each mess will be my own. New carpet will erase the purple nail polish stains. No one will steal my tape to decorate for their baby doll’s birthday party or spend hours cutting paper into tiny pieces, just because it’s pretty. My measuring cups and tupperware will stay compliantly in the drawers. The Nutella fingerprints along the countertop will just be yesterday’s sticky nuisance. No more smears from Sloppy Joan blowing raspberries on the chilled window pane, or splash marks around the garden tub.


In the year 2032, my sinks will be clean. The globs and streaks of blue sparkly toothpaste will be wiped away. I’ll have plenty of hot water. I’ll fill my bathtub to the top with steaming suds and soak to my heart’s content with no little visitors.

In the year 2032, my schedule will clear. I will long for someone to corral or cuddle or correct. I’ll miss the rushed braids and ponytails on the way out the door and tricky double knots. I’ll think fondly of tiny whispering pleas for donuts in my sleepy face on a Sunday morning and imagine the feel of their soft tiny hands folded in mine as I lead them down the trail.

But while my fears and psychosomatic aches fill these walls and crowd me in my bed, a dear friend brought a sobering bright spot. My friend Jackie, being the coolest mom on the block like she is, got her oldest daughter tickets to Hoodie Allen for Christmas. This is the only woman I know who could both sacrifice and magnify her street cred in the same evening. Dubbed “Mama Bear” by some of the young concertgoers, Jackie found herself an active participant and voyeur as her teenager came alive under a constellation of stage lights in a sea of her peers. Crawling out of her best-parent-ever high, she sent this text and I felt a tiny light flicker inside me …



Warrior in training

March 2, 2016

The Lord has an interesting way of moving and manipulating the universe in order to speak to us sometimes. In my case, today it was through Glennon Doyle Melton. Have you heard of Glennon? I hadn’t, really. I mean, I knew of her blog, Momastery, and had read a few posts as they turned up in other people’s feeds, but I wasn’t a devoted follower. I am now.

I’d been agonizing over what to post on here this week. So many people were kind enough to share with me their own private struggles with anxiety after I wrote about my trip to the ER last week, and everything I put together in the days following felt petty and unimportant by comparison.

The thing is, I shouldn’t have even been there today. Just 48 hours ago I had no plans to be in that auditorium, in that audience, in that seat or at that frighteningly relevant talk. A friend/co-worker mentioned that Glennon was coming yesterday morning and said it was that afternoon at 2pm, and I should join her. I, unfortunately, had a meeting at that time and wouldn’t be able to tag along. But, as fate would demand it, leap day had her thrown for a loop and the lecture was actually March 1. I was available, there were tickets left, and I just had that feeling. You know that feeling you get when stars align and your heart pushes your head aside and you just kind of go with it because the whole thing feels bigger than you and very destiny-driven? Like your second date with the man you married … or the time you picked up a cyclist with a flat tire and it turned out to be Dave Matthews or …. This was that on a smaller scale, but still, it was whispering to me.


So, today, on the first day of a brand-new month, there I sat; 15 rows back from Glennon Doyle Melton giving a casual chat about, what else, anxiety, depression and the mentally different. She, it turns out, is a recovering addict, who has battled bulimia, anxiety and the lowest of the lows. She has emerged on the other side, an accomplished author, speaker and advocate. I will never be able to appropriately convey her stories or the comparisons she gave that turned on parts of my mind that I didn’t even realize were dark, or her passion for peace and self-acceptance, but I can sure as hell try. These were some of my favorite moments, and what I took away …

On being an anxious person. 
In preparation for her talk, she took a shower at the hotel and then began going over her notes. She got so anxious about the public speaking, she started sweating and had to shower again. “But that’s what we do. We just keep showering and keep showing up!”

On truth tellers. 
The Momastery founder is known for her brutally honest accounts of her struggles and full-disclosure (for the most part) approach to her work. And that’s a characteristic she shares with all folks, even the fellow mom at the park who inquires about her day. “We have a sign,” she said, making a slashing motion across her neck, “Craig will say, ‘Gosh, Glennon she’s just trying to push her kid on the swing.'” But she explained that her over-sharing and offering an honest account of how she’s feeling in the moment or through her writing is no different than someone who cuts themselves or eats too much or drinks too much or refuses to eat. They are saying how they feel and that something is off by hiding in a small place or habit where they feel entirely safe.  “We’re all truth tellers. Just in different ways.”

On the mentally different. 
Glennon shared a story about her Great Uncle, who worked in the coal mines where there would often be high amounts of toxic, dangerous chemicals. The workers would bring a canary, which had a higher tolerance for the harmful elements, down with them. When the bird stopped singing, they knew it was time to leave because it was too dangerous. If they stayed too long, the canary would die. “The longer I think about this and learn about this, I just know that some of us are canaries.” But instead of assuming those who notice what’s wrong or have heightened sensitivities should be silenced or sent away, perhaps, she suggests, they should be celebrated. “I mean, maybe we’re just the ones paying attention. There’s certainly a science and a poetry to it all.”

On pain. 
Many of us live under the false notion that pain will kill us. We treat it like a hot potato and often run from it, pass it off to some unsuspecting bystander through hurtful exchanges, or push it down as far as it will go so we can’t see it, smell it or taste it. But the truth is, pain won’t kill us. In fact, Glennon believes it does the opposite. “If you can sift through a crisis, you’ll often find you’re left with some sort of treasure.”

Everything we need to change or grow as a human being lives inside of pain.

Shortly after her marriage fell apart, she found herself in a hot yoga class. When the instructor asked her what her intentions were, Glennon, boiling over with raw, violent sorrow, simply said, “My intention is to get through whatever comes next.” The teacher told her just to sit still on her mat. So, she did. For 90 minutes she sat in the silence and anguish of her own personal pain. At the conclusion of the session, the instructor looked at her and said, “That is the journey of the warrior.”

“Pain is a traveling professor,” Glennon said. “Wise people invite it to come in and teach them.”


On parenting. 
At one of her talks, Glennon had a concerned mother stand up and ask what she could do for her quiet 8-year-old son. “Give me 3 words to describe the kind of man you want him to be,” she said. The woman responded that she would love for her son to be kind, brave and intelligent. “All of those things come from pain,” Glennon explained. We spend so much time shielding our children from what we think will hurt them, and overthinking every word we say to them, but really all we can do is show up, every day, over and over and over and over again, and offer to walk through their pain with them. That, she suggests, is what will make them the strong, kind men and women we so desperately want them to be.

“It is not your job to fix your child’s pain.”

You can watch Glennon’s TED talk here and I 120% suggest that you do. Make time for it. Settle in for it. You won’t regret that you did. If this is what mentally different looks like, than I’m all in.