Thursday, January 29, 2015

just try your best, mama

i worry, probably more than a healthy amount, that i may be ruining my children's lives. from the petty stuff, like not choosing the right cup or pair of socks, to the legit stuff like deciding when to send them to kindergarten, practically poisoning them with my cooking, stashing them at preschool for nine hours a day five days a week, or shutting myself in the bathroom because i don't have the emotional wherewithal to withstand yet another meltdown. but then i try to console myself and say, "they're 2 (almost 3!) and 4. they're not even going to remember any of this. it's not like i'm causing long-term psychological damage. they'll be fine."

well. my son recently brought this hypothesis into question. the other night i was driving with the kids in the car and we were running late to pick up the dog from doggy daycare. jack was lamenting from the back seat, "i feel so bad for Feta. she is pwobly so SAD dare all by hersewf." dear lord. i responded that yes, it was sad, but she would probably survive and we would just have to give her lots of extra love when we got home. 

then he says, "wemembow dat time when i was the vewy last one to get picked up in my fwee-year-old cwass? i was vewy, vewy sad." (you might remember this from my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, which, by the way, was six months ago.) he went on, "i was just sitting dare all by myself eating a cheese stick dat wasn't even cold anymore because i was so hungwy, and i almost cwied." oh sweet jesus. stab me in the heart. bring me a hair shirt. and some bleach for my motherly conscience which may very well never be clean again. 

i told him i was still so, so, so sorry that happened, and that i will try really, really hard to make sure that doesn't ever happen again, but sadly, there's a chance it might. jack said, "you just need to make sure you get there a wittow earlier, dat's all, mama." i said i will do my best, but things don't always go as planned, life happens, blah blah blah. he sagely replied "well, it's okay if you are late, maybeee... free or four more times until i'm twenty." i said alright. then he added "you just need to twy a wittow harder, okay?" me, trying not to laugh/cry/drive off the road, "okay bud. i will." jack: "just twy your best, 'kay mama? dat's all i can ask you to do." thanks, son. i'll do that. i promise. 

* Just don't be late again.
Ever. ;)
ps. on the subject of mom guilt and comparisons and so on and so forth - julie, one of my most favorite imaginary friends, is challenging people to make a "mommitment" to end mom wars. amen, sister. in the wise words of my four-year-old (who was possibly plagiarizing pete-the-cat), we're all doing our best, and that's all we can ask - of ourselves, and one-another.

pps. people keep asking me what a hair shirt is. click here to find out.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

absentee parents

In my last post about redshirting, I claimed I wasn't angry. But I am, a little bit. I was speaking with another mom, who happens to be an elementary school teacher, about the whole redshirting issue. She feels that "parents these days" hand over too much responsibility for the enrichment and education of their children to the school system, and said, in so many words, "If parents did their job, kids would be ready for kindergarten by the time they were 5."

Alright, lady. Slow your roll. Now, don't get me wrong. I feel like being a teacher is super f*cking hard and I give them mad props for the work that they do. I'm sure our collective shortcomings as parents don't make their jobs any easier. But. I am doing my job(s). ALL of them. Mother. Wife. Lawyer. Google Doctor. F*cking Awful Chef. Ill-prepared teacher-of-things. Incompetent laundress. Housekeeper. Dog-walker. Unfortunately, having nineteen jobs means I am a less-than-stellar employee across the board. This dilemma raises a few questions/concerns:

a) When in the Sam Hill are we supposed to be teaching our kids to read/write/etc?

Look. I love books. Books are probably my fourth favorite thing in the world. My children do, too. They have a ton of them and we "read" together every single night. My kids memorize books and pretend they're reading like pros. But actual reading? Not so much. Barring the geniuses who teach themselves to read with the New York Times at three, I'm assuming it takes some serious time and effort. And I just don't have that.

Here's my weekday:

If I leave when I'm supposed to in order to get to work on time, I don't see my kids. I'm often running late so I have time for some fly-by snuggles before I go. I work for 8 hours. (And if I don't, for whatever reason, spend 8 full hours in the office, I make it up on my own time.) Keep in mind that this is considered "part time" for lawyers. I get in early so I can leave early, and I get paid half what the "real lawyers" do for the luxury of leaving in time to pick up my kids before the preschool closes. Not a day goes by without someone giving me grief for leaving, some time between 4 and 5, after I have put in the 8 hour day that I am paid for. To them, leaving at this time of day might as well be leaving at lunch. They think I'm on permanent "vacation." Little do they know, after an hour at home, I would happily return to work, free of charge!

I drive home. It's 27 miles, but in traffic, it can take anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes. I didn't mind this so much when I was listening to Serial, and I do get to witness some wicked pretty sunsets, but most days it makes me want to die, not least because if I leave any later than 4:29, there is a good chance I am racing the clock and praying to my non-denominational deity that I get there by 5:59. Thanks to the grace of my non-denominational deity, I have only been late once.

Because taking photographs while driving on the freeway is frowned upon,
I stalked pics on Instagram. It's hard to be too bummed on life when this is your view.
Then I pick up my newest baby from doggie daycare because I am that white. Also because I like my shoes and my furniture, and am willing to take measures to see that Feta is too tired to consume new items daily.

My work here is done.
(She sleeps like this sometimes.)
FYI, this pic is a few weeks old. We do not still have our Christmas tree up. Mainly because we had company ;)
We get home somewhere between 5:30 and 6:15. I feed the kids a healthy snack (not because I'm super healthy, but because if I feed them junk food, they are that much less likely to eat their dinner (which is already 10:1 odds)). Also because I am slow as f*ck at cooking and it will probably be an hour before dinner is served. I try to be "fun and engaged mom"-slash-"WWF referee" while simultaneously cooking a nutritious meal that my kids will not eat. I usually serve said nutritious meal between 6:15 and 7:00. They do not eat it. Colby can often be bribed and/or hand-fed like a motherless baby llama. On the other hand, Jack can be threatened upon punishment of death, and still will not eat. Nine times out of ten, it is a painful, tear-filled, tantrum inducing debacle for all parties involved. Seriously. There are so, so, so many other terrible things that I would rather do than endure the ninth rung of hell that is trying to get my kids to eat dinner.

Only slightly less painful is trying to get them to brush their teeth, get in the bath, get soaped and scrubbed and shampooed without the neighbors alerting the authorities, and get into their PJs. It's like a three-ring circus populated by deranged monkeys. If we're lucky, it's 7:30 by the time we're finished with that mess on wheels, but Lady Luck is seldom on our side, and it's usually closer to 8. Then we sit down and watch some inane cartoon for 22 minutes. I suppose I could use this time for educational activities instead, but honestly, I need this as much as the kids do. It allows them to calm the f*ck down, and me to gather the last shreds of my sanity.

Then comes the royal coronation jubilee that is bedtime, including three books, fresh fruit, and ice water (with FOUR ice cubes, chilled to exactly 52 degrees Fahrenheit). On a good day, they're in bed by 8:30. Contrary to those chipper bumper stickers, they're not all good days.

Except when they're sick, tired, hungry, it's Tuesday, I served something other than plain pasta or chicken nuggets for dinner, I gave him a GREEN cup, I gave her a SHORT fork, there's not a new Paw Patrol on the DVR, their favorite PJs are in the wash, their favorite PJs today are not the same ones that were their favorite PJ's yesterday, she doesn't have blue eyes, he doesn't have curly hair, I did not pronounce "Millenium Falcon" like Daddy does...
I am scared - TERRIFIED - of the day when my kids have actual school work. I can barely get them to bed before 9pm when all I have to do is feed and bathe them. WHEN is homework supposed to happen?

On the weekends we have some free time, but I feel so bad about how little time I spend with them during the week, and how un-fun a lot of that time is, that the last thing I want to do is sit them down and play teacher. I work it in when I can (e.g., Jack loves his Star Wars letters and numbers practice books), but really, on the weekends, we just want to have fun.

a1) A subset of this is the "Play 60" movement: get your kids outside, help offset the childhood obesity epidemic, and so on and so forth. I recently read an article, "The REAL reason why your children fidget." It's actually a really good article. But. The take-home is that they're fidgeting because they're not getting enough exercise. Kids "need hours of outdoor play in order to establish a healthy sensory system and to support higher-level attention and learning in the classroom."

Well, shit. Hopefully they're getting some of that at school because they're certainly not getting it at home. I guess this (along with academic enrichment) is supposed to happen with the voodoo magic where I turn 2 hours into 8 hours without the earth spinning off its axis into a black hole? In the summer, they can squeeze in an hour of play outside while I attempt to cook/reheat an edible meal. But now? It's dark by the time we get home. And sure, maybe they engage in half an hour of wrestle-mania in the living room. But if my kids' utter inability to keep their butts on their seats during dinner is any indication, it is not enough.

What are working parents to do? If this is really what kids need, then the entire system needs to be overhauled. Job-sharing, second shift, whatever... something's gotta give.

b) Not that this is a bad thing, but, I feel like parents are expected to be WAY more involved nowadays than our parents were. (Which reminds me of this hilarious post - Back to School: The 70s vs. Today.) I cannot IMAGINE my mom (or either of my dads) coming to my class to read a book or host a class party. They all worked full time. They, too, rushed to fetch their children from daycare by 5:59. My mom drove on one singular field trip in junior high (of which I have amazing memories), and said she would never do it again because it sucked that she was expected to hang out and make small talk with the other parents when she really wanted to ride the rides with us ;) She didn't send gluten-and-sugar-free- or cupcakes of any kind to school for my birthday until I was old enough to inform her that this was something that "should" be done, and then, by her logic, I was old enough to bake them myself! And I did!

I get weekly, sometimes even daily emails from teachers and class moms urging me to come to my kids' classrooms to read books, play a musical instrument, discuss our family traditions and cultural heritage, volunteer for the Book Faire, attend the PTA meeting, make memory books, schedule playdates, attend 22 birthday parties, etc.

And I WANT to be that mom. I really, really do. I don't play any musical instruments, but I can craft the shit out of things, scour Pinterest for the neatest toddler activities, and bake a mean zucchini-sweet potato muffin. Here's the hang-up, though. I'm already getting serious side-eye for leaving work "early" in order to pick my kids up at the very last minute from preschool. Monthly requests to ditch out on work so I can make quinoa-macaroni necklaces with my kids' classes is definitely frowned upon. To say nothing of the plethora of other obligations that need to occur during business hours, such as doctor and dentist appointments, dry cleaning, car repairs, carpet cleaning, physical therapy so I can fix my knee so I can actually exercise (in all my free time), and those inevitable sick days.

I guess this all just goes back to the recurring theme of the supersized helpings of mom guilt being served daily. It's a personal pet peeve of mine. Can't we all just agree that the vast majority of us are doing the absolute best that we can, and that is gonna damn well have to be good enough? Mmmkay? Thanks! Buh-bye!

P.S. I swear I start out every post and it's like, a paragraph, and then somehow I blink and it's a novella. Sorry 'bout that.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

to redshirt, or not to redshirt?

My husband and I have a very personal, important, and literally life-altering decision to make for our son. And what does one do when they have a very personal, important, and life-altering decision to make? Why, ask the internet, of course!

Here's the deal. Jack was born in August 2010. In California, you have to be 5 on or before September 1st in order to attend kindergarten, so he makes the cut off by a couple of weeks.

It wasn't as prevalent when I was growing up, but I thought, in this day and age, it was a not-uncommon occurrence for parents to keep their kids back a year. Whether it was Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers, or the hippie-dippie Waldorf mentality, or generations of empirical evidence, or each parents' personal experience, I definitely know and have heard of plenty of parents keeping their kids a year longer before starting them in kindergarten. Particularly those with summer/fall/winter birthdays. It was such a thing that California actually changed the law - gradually pushing the cut-off date from December 31st to December 2nd to October 1st to, now, September 1st.

I figured that the parents of kids on the cusp could decide for themselves whether they wanted to send their kids as newly-minted five-year-olds, who would be the youngest in the class, or keep them a year longer so they would be brand-new six-year-olds, and among the oldest in the class. But apparently, at least in San Diego, California, the decision is not our own. The policy here (based on California law), is that "a child shall be admitted to first grade ... if the child will have his/her sixth birthday on or before September 1st." (Section 48010 of the Cal. Education Code).

So, as has happened to some, you could keep your child in pre-K (or put them in a private kindergarten) for another year with the intent to delay their entrance to public kindergarten, only to have them placed directly into first grade in the fall. Understandably, this ruffled some tail feathers. Something about taking this decision away from parents feels wrong to me. (Sorry to get all legal on you, but, parents have a fundamental right under the Constitution of the United States to rear their children without undue governmental interference.)*

There's a whole Facebook page of angry local parents dedicated to this very subject. And I get that animal rage, I do. Apparently, there were some "assessments" conducted of these little kids, without their parents present, behind closed doors. My first reaction when I read that was, Oh HELLLLLLLLL No. (The school district claims this is "not their policy," by the way.) In any event. My child will be showing up to his assessment with a noted civil rights attorney, aka, his dad. Also his mom, who is an un-notable attorney, but who will go Mama Bear on your ass so fast you won't know what hit you.

Interestingly (and I was not expecting this), there is an equal and opposite angry mob on the other side. People who are suuuuuuuper pissed that their little Jilly or Johnny (or, more likely, Brita or Barley) has to attend kindergarten with a bunch of behemoth six year olds, stealing their organic kale-and-kiwi snack-packs and such. (Our town is a little strange, by the way. There's some friction between the hippie surfer set and the new money republicans, and the latter DO NOT LIKE YOGA.)

I personally don't really understand why you would care that much what someone else does with their own child for kindergarten. But whatever.

Anyway, my point is, I'm not that angry, so I have a hard time finding common ground or useful advice from one extreme or the other. I'm sure my kid will be fine either way. I don't think I'm going to ruin his life by sending him to kindergarten when he's five, or waiting until he's six. I just want to make the best, most informed decision that I can for my son.

Here are our thoughts on the pros and cons of keeping him back (aside from the reported Guantanamo assessment procedure, and the fact that we have to jump through so many hoops at all).


- He's sensitive, emotional, slow to warm up, easily frustrated/discouraged, etc. Another year of brain development can only help in that regard.
- Counter argument (brought up by my cousin and aunt, both teachers): He's always going to be "highly sensitive," what difference will a year really make?
- Also, maybe being among his peers in kindergarten will help him mature in those ways?

- I (of course) think he's extremely clever, but he's definitely still working to master fine motor skills and other developmental milestones.
(Then again, this could be the result of the fact that his preschool is basically a glorified daycare and he's just not getting the skills there, nor, admittedly, at home).

- On a related note, boys develop more slowly in general, and the extra year of physical growth and maturity will give him more time to "come into his own."
(DM, my dad, and my bro in law were all the youngest in their grade (July, August and October birthdays, respectively) and they all said they would have loved to have been a year older for a multitude of reasons - school, sports, friends, girls, etc).


- He might be bored academically (because he's so advanced, obviously ;)).
- Counter argument: There will be plenty of opportunities (GATE, AP, etc) for him to challenge himself academically. Also, see above re: fine motor skills, e.g., barely being able to write his name, and having the artistic range of Jackson Pollock.

- Some of his friends from preschool will be a year ahead of him, and he's already aware of a sort of "stigma" of being held back.
- Counter argument: He's 4. He'll get over it.

- Malcolm Gladwell notwithstanding, the benefits are arguable. (Unless he's planning on becoming a professional hockey player, and he's just too pretty for that ;))

I've already done a lot of "research" a.k.a. asked Google, friends and family what they think. Interestingly, a lot of teachers I know seem to be in the "as long as he's ready academically, send him when he's 5" camp. On the other hand, everyone from my generation who was young for their class wished their parents had kept them back, and everyone who was older for their grade liked it and plans to do the same for their own children.

My gut (and DM's too) is to keep him back. But then I read scary articles like this one in the New York Times: Delay Kindergarten at Your Child's Peril. (Incidentally, wtf?! Take a Xanax.) For now, our plan is to get the ball rolling with the "delayed kindergarten eligibility assessment" process and see what they say. If they look at us like we forgot our medication and say "Wow your child is a genius we think he should skip straight to high school," then we'll probably reconsider ;)

For the record, this issue isn't really on the table for Colby Jean. Her birthday's in March (as was mine), so it's not as much of an issue. Further... well, first let me say in Jack's defense, he continues to grow and mature every day, and presently, he is, on average, thirteen times more pleasant than his (freaking adorable) little diva-devil of a two-year-old sister. That being said, Jack is, and always has been, "highly sensitive," just like his mama. He has big feelings and a quick fuse. He has a hard time with transitions. I didn't think too much of it until I learned that some kids, including his little sister, handle preschool drop-off and mom and dad's date nights, etc., like it's no big deal. Not so much with J-money. He's our sweet, sensitive soul. Change will always be hard for him. I'm not in a huge hurry to thrust him out into the real world (insofar as kindergarten can be considered the real world), to force him to make the jump before he's ready... But on the other hand... Maybe he's ready to make the jump and is only hampered by mom and dad grasping at his shirttails?

What would YOU do???

If you're interested in some more reading on the subject:

When Should a Kid Start Kindergarten? by Elizabeth Weil for The New York Times Magazine.

Kindergarten Redshirting Gets Tougher in NYC - With Repurcussions by Sarah Gonser for Motherlode.

Can Your Kid Hack It In Kindergarten? Or should you redshirt him? by Melinda Wenner Moyer for Slate.

Should Children Be Held Back for Kindergarten? by Jennifer Breheny Wallace for the Wall Street Journal

* Select case law re: the constitutional right to raise your children as you see fit, and make decisions on their behalf and in their best interest.

"Parents' right to rear children without undue governmental interference is a fundamental component of due process." Nunez by Nunez v. City of San Diego, 114 F3d 935 (9th Cir. 1997)

"There is a presumption that fit parents act in their children's best interests, Parham v. J. R., 442 U. S. 584, 602. There is normally no reason or compelling interest for the State to inject itself into the private realm of the family to further question fit parents' ability to make the best decisions regarding their children. Reno v. Flores, 507 U. S. 292, 304. The state may not interfere in child rearing decisions when a fit parent is available. Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000).

"The parent-child relationship is an important interest that undeniably warrants deference and, absent a powerful countervailing interest, protection." A parent's interest in the companionship, care, custody and management of his or her children rises to a constitutionally secured right, given the centrality of family life as the focus for personal meaning and responsibility. Stanley v. Illinois, 405 US 645, 651; 92 S Ct 1208, (1972).

Thursday, January 8, 2015

stranger danger

i'm still stalling on getting to "the good stuff." but, my husband is dying to know what Mackenzie Cheeseman's been up to ;) so, here goes:

december was supposed to be a mellow month, or i had hoped it would be, anyway. i got most of the christmas shopping done by thanksgiving, we got our tree early, i planned to bang it all out and then just chill. i didn't want december to be a frantic game of catch-up like it usually is. i took specific precautions to prevent such an eventuality. then life happened. (why does this (life being life) continue to catch me offguard?) one weekend we ditched the kids and went to disneyland (per paragraph 7a of DM's wedding vows - annual disney trips).'s a small world after all...
ever wonder what Space Mountain looks like with the lights on?!
then we went to a "rock-n-roll christmas" party with our friends. DM and i were johnny cash and june carter cash, and everyone made fun of us all night for not dressing up. they were like, "Oh, who are you supposed to be? Mackenzie and Daddy Mack? Wow! Super original!" Brats. I guess I should be flattered that we just look like the Man in Black and his Leading Lady all the time :)

the weekend after that we took a last-minute trip to san francisco because i won this totally random charity raffle that included an all-expense-paid trip to watch the forty-niners at the new levi's stadium (which, by the way, is nowhere near san francisco). the original prize was for the thanksgiving day game against the pea-hawks. i bought the raffle tickets on monday, and found out that i'd won on tuesday... i was like, oh wow, i won, awesome, wait... i have family in town for thanksgiving (two days hence), i can't go to SF, what in the F was i thinking?! (< this is SO like me, btw.) so they let me move it to the december 20th game against the chargers.

the day we left for SF was strange. at work it was that weird "everyone's already basically checked out for vacation" vibe. i had an afternoon meeting and the partner on one of my cases was like, "you guys should just go on home after this," but i had to stay at work until DM and the kids picked me up on the way to the airport. i squeezed a few precious drops of productivity out of my brain, but my heart wasn't in it, so i decided to take a stroll to 7/11. on the way in this dude asked me for money, and i said "sorry, not today." but on the way out i actually had a couple bucks, and i figured, it's almost christmas, what the hey? so i handed him a few dollars, smiled, and started to walk away. he reached toward me and said, "wait wait wait! don't go!" so i turned. he said, "when am i gonna see you again??" me: "ummmmm..." him: "christmas is going to be so lonely without you!" now, mind you, i do have some transient buddies who frequent the sidewalk in front of 7/11, but this guy is not one of them. as far as i know, i've never seen him before in my life. but he seemed like a nice guy. a kind of grizzly old black dude wearing a weathered and worn track suit. possible contender for my grandpa collection. anyway, i said something like, "oh, sorry man, that's too bad, i hope you have a good christmas anyway!" he replied, "well it's not gonna be the same without you. just hold up one minute. i need your help with something." oh dear. "see, i just got this new cell phone today [?] i don't know how it works." me: "well you're asking the wrong gal, i am useless when it comes to that kind of stuff." he's fiddling with it, muttering at it, and for some reason i feel incapable of turning and walking away. suddenly, *FLASH,* and he says, "Alright! There we go! Now I'll have your warm smile to keep me company on these cold winter nights." So, yeah, some homeless (hipster?) dude has my photo on his cell phone. although i sort of doubt i'm smiling. pretty sure if he got me at all i'm looking like this:

hope this mug's enough to keep you warm, bro
then we get to the airport and our flight is delayed 3 hours so we have to kill 4 hours in the airport with a 2- and 4-year-old, which is basically the very definition of my personal hell. honestly though, they were rockstars. i have zero complaints. at one point DM got up to go get us some coffee and when he came back the kids were eating m&m cookies and he gave me this puzzled look and said, "where did those come from?" i informed him that some nice girl gave them to us. he stared at me as though i had personally fed my children risin poison. then he froke out because the girl wasn't there anymore and started to move like he was going to hunt her down like Liam Neeson in Taken 7: The Cookie Monster. okay, so, it probably wasn't the wisest decision i've ever made. but she seemed super unthreatening and had a convincing story (she made them as a thank you for her friend who dropped her at the airport, but it turned out he was allergic to butter, and cookies have a lot of butter in them), and they were on a cute little paper plate, and she had a half-eaten one in her hand, and, this is racist i think, but, she was an asian college student and i feel like on the spectrum of potential bio-terrorists that is just above sweet grandmas knitting sweaters with home-grown alpaca wool... anyway, we all lived to tell the tale. (of course i did. i wasn't about to eat that shit, you kidding? ;))

survivors of the harrowing cookie-gate 2014
a series of unfortunate events occurred upon our arrival to san francisco (FYI - the last BART from SFO to the city leaves at 11:54pm. also, kids + public transportation isn't as seamless as you might hope. for some reason we thought we could do the trip without car seats. we were wrong.) anyway, we didn't get to the hotel until 2:30 in the morning, but the kids handled it like champs. they were actually angels the whole weekend. DM and i basically wrote them a blank check from Santa because they were so shockingly good.

we left them with my brother and his boyfriend for like 12 hours on saturday while we took the looooooong trek to and from santa clara and levi's stadium via public transportation. i had total anxiety about ditching the kids with my bro - he's never really watched both of them before - and this was in the big wide city, not in the safety and comfort of our home. i texted him as much, saying "are you sure you're up for it?" his reply: "only one way to find out." me: "that is not the answer i was looking for." brother: "i was about to ask what's the worst that could happen, but i think your over-active imagination makes that question hurt more than help." needless to say i was on panic level 7 by then, but my brother was AMAZING and the kids had the best time with Uncle T. and he got some help from his new(ish) beau (who we all met when he braved the family for thanksgiving!). as DM pointed out, "Beau" pushed an empty stroller around San Francisco for 2 hours without complaint so he's good with me! :)

uncle Fun
i wish i had such glowing praise for my forty-niners. they blew a 21 point lead for the first time in 48 years, with a painful/shameful loss in overtime. it was fun while it lasted though. this was one of the few times i've been able to watch a game surrounded by niners fans. i could get used to it :)

tiny man's victorious fist pump (before shit got ugly)
and i got a quick visit with some of my favorite people in one of my favorite places to be, so all in all i'd say we rounded out the year on top!

i do love this city
and now it's 2015. that sort of boggles my mind a little bit. will I ever not think of the 90's as "ten years ago?"

anyway. in the words of jon stewart, 2014 wasn't a great year for... people. and i have high hopes for 2015. but we're not off to a great start with this Charlie Hebdo business. and, look, i know better than most that you can't care about ALL OF THE THINGS all of the time. you just can't. there's not enough emotional bandwidth. but. this devastating display of intolerance, hatred, and lack of humanity is thrown into stark relief by my "news" feed, which prominently features a debate over whether or not justin bieber actually has a happy trail, and it kind of makes me want to stab myself in the eye with a spork for the hopelessness of it all.

that's all i have to say about that. and, to call again on jon stewart, i'll leave you now with a moment of zen :)

p.s., we still have our crispy critter of a Christmas tree up in our living room, save the lower 1/3 that the new pup feta has already helped us de-trim, if that gives you any indication as to how well we're adjusting to the new year 'round here.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

there's a lot about me you don't know, mr. smarty man

Friends! I apologize. I've been a little MIA. I wish I had some cool story to explain my absence, like, something involving the ninja-princess-sharks that are the stuff of my kids' imaginative play lately, but alas, my only excuse is - Life. The other night DM said, "I haven't heard from Mackenzie Cheeseman in forever! I really want to know what she's been up to!" Now, I know if that guy registers my silence, I must really be neglecting you all. I have half a dozen partial posts going (and by partial, I mean, one sentence in a draft post waiting for me to motivate). It's not like it takes me a long time to write them. Once I get a bug up my a$$ about a certain subject, I sit down and bang that sh*t out in half an hour. But I'm just not quite ready to go there yet. I think my blog motivation went the way of my self control when it comes to eating things that are fattenings: it was barely there to begin with, but the holidays have completely derailed me. Seriously. Last night I said to DM, "I have eaten 47 of these cookies and I don't even like them. They sort of remind me of these cookies my grandma used to make, though. I think that's why I keep eating them." As if uncovering the deep-seated psychological motivation for my sport-eating will stop me.

In the meantime, I got thinking, we've been together a year and a half, and we still don't really know each other all that well. ("If you don't know me by now.... You will nevah nevah nevah know me, oooo-oooooh." :)) So. Inspired by another myspace/facebook survey long ago - fifty-ish things you probably don't know about me:

i have to plug my ears to pee in a public restroom.

i always wear two shirts (like cami/tank + actual shirt) in some misguided attempt to camouflage my muffin top.

my 4 year old son can whistle better than i can.

my 2 year old daughter can dance and sing better than i can.

i can't drive or eat with a jacket on, it makes me feel claustrophobic.

an old coworker once told me i did not look attractive with my hair up. it really stuck with me. so i almost always wear my hair down when i'm out and about. but i tie it back when i eat, and as soon as i get home to begin my night shift wrangling american-ninja-princess-shark-warriors.

i also feel 10x more attractive when i straighten my frizzy curly hair, and i have never been to court or an interview with my hair in its natural state. but now that i have a daughter with gorgeous curls, i want to make more of an effort to rock what god/darwin/dna gave me (ahem, right after this Brazilian blowout grows out).

on the subject of being a bad feminist/empowering female role model, i don't leave the house without mascara.

i rarely wear my wedding ring or any other jewelry at home. that and my pants are the first things to come off when i walk in the door. i can't sleep in jewelry (or pants) either, probably stemming from when i was little and my dad told me if i slept with a necklace on it would strangle me in my sleep.

i used to be a decent driver but as i get older i'm seriously becoming a menace on the roadways. like, if anyone in the tri-state area appears to even be thinking about merging into my lane, i swerve like i'm about to be run over by a semi.

i'm pretty strict with my kids about candy and junk food. i won't let them touch soda, and i'm even stingy with juice. meanwhile, i hate water, haven't drunk milk since 1988, and think nothing of subsisting on red bull, diet coke, and milk duds for a day.

i live in constant fear of being ordinary. which probably makes me very ordinary.

a fantastic song will give me goosebumps, no matter how many times i've heard it... e.g., the live version of amen omen by ben harper, les miz, miss saigon...

i'll take a book over television any day and twice on sunday.

if i could change one... or... three ... or... five things about me, i'd want green eyes, scathing wit (that i think of on the spot, not seven minutes too late), and mad skills on the dance floor. also to be an effortless cook. also to have an overactive metabolism. also ... eh, that'll do.

when i grow up, i want to be one of those women who can work out without looking sweaty and porcine afterwards.

i am like, a nap CHAMPION (or used to be, when naps were more than a pipe dream), but the WORST insomniac EVER at night.

i have a dogged, if irrational, fear of/distaste for the following: seaweed (seriously, one of my angriest moments at DM resulted from him chasing me with a giant stinky seaweed whip), birds in close proximity (but I weirdly love bird-themed jewelry?), outtie belly buttons, mariachis, hair that is not attached to a living thing , arial font, and buca di beppo

i love humanity, but i don’t really like people... if that makes sense?
(only people that don’t know me very well think i’m really nice.)

i don't fully trust people that don't like animals, their parents, music, the outdoors, travel, or anyone that doesn't eat bread or drink alcohol for anything other than legitimate medical reasons (but people that don’t like people, hey, they are A-okay ;))
(DM says I am a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a contradiction... but maybe i’m just a hypocrite.)

i can't stand trendy philanthropy. that's probably really horrible, i mean, helping people is helping people, but hey, there it is. this one time, which i still feel supremely awful about, my boyfriend was all jazzed up about his contribution to Tibetan Freedom and i was like, "wow, you and all of Hollywood might just save the world one day." i know. i'm a terrible person. don't say i didn't warn you. needless to say, we broke up.

i feel like crying when i see a homeless person or a frail old person, especially if they have a dog, and *especially* if that dog is missing a leg. i am 3.5x as likely to give someone money if they have a dog.
- those FUCKING Sarah McLachlan/SPCA commercials will just put me out of commission. one came on while we were watching New Year's Rockin' Eve or whatever and I was like, TURN IT OFF, TURN IT OFF, AAAAAH, and DM was desperately scrambling to find the remote like he was that guy in the fuckin Hurt Locker trying to dismantle an IED before it blew his face off. alas, he was unable to find it in time, and i was DONE. DM: "Yay! Happy New Year!" Me: "What's so happy about it?!?! WAAAAAAAA."

if DM wasn't around to regulate, i would absolutely be a crazy dog lady.

i collect grandpas in my mind. and on pinterest. (seriously). once i was on a business trip and i let my colleague in on my game and he was like, "that guy can't be your grandpa, he's Asian." YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG, DUDE.

i don't think my toenails have been bare for more than a few hours since about 1994 (about the time that i realized that i was not, in fact, just a pretty boy).

i am trusting and naïve and cynical all at the same time.

my ex boyfriend and i once got in a giant fight because i said i believed in magic, and ghosts. (the issue arose after watching david blane, i believe... though this particular manifestation of magic was recently called into question by a video i saw on you tube).
i think sites like facebook, instagram, blogger, etc. are an exercise in vanity, which is probably why i am so obsessed with them. (i still don't really get The Twitter.)

i project a lot more confidence than i actually have.

sometimes (actually a lot of the time) i'm afraid of the dark, but when i sleep, it has to be pitch black.

i refer to the basement of my office parking garage as "the rape dungeon" which has resulted in several awkward encounters with coworkers.

my kind of man doesn't spend more money on his car or his clothes than i do, or ever darken the doorway of a tanning salon. (i don't know why i'm talking about "my kind of man" since I've only had one man for the last 12 years but, you know ;))
- tangent: this reminds me. DM doesn't know jack about fashion. (neither do i.) but he will watch project runway with me, almost willingly. the other day he was talking to his sister and said, "do you ever watch project runway? you know that guy that won season 8?..." she replied, "No, but, it's nice to know Mom has two daughters." Zing. ;)

i can’t stand when people get in my face about my decision to be a vegetarian, the validity of the 'vegetarian cause' (if there is such a thing, i am not a member), and the authenticity of my allegience thereto. WHY do you care? beat it. go eat some meat.

it bugs me when people get all snooty about things like art, music, wine, food, books, movies, cell phones, high definition televisions ... you like what you like. do you, and MYOB.

i have a strange obsession with trial sizes, supermarket beauty products, and office supplies... and i LOVE filling out forms.. especially if they have little boxes instead of lines.

i am supremely distrustful of birth control. despite having an IUD, i think i'm pregnant at least 4 times a year.

i am not afraid to die, unless it hurts.

i like to dance around to 80's hip-hop in my underwear.

i can't sleep when my legs are prickly.

i don't like to go places where people will notice, or care, that my purse or my shoes came from TJ Maxx.

i don't like restaurants where the food takes up less than 13% of the surface area of the plate.

i put garlic salt and hot sauce on basically everything i eat.

special skills:

spastically flinging open the door to the public restroom upon my exit and scaring the living shit out of whoever happens to be standing on the other side. (hopefully not literally).

making oreo pops and mini cupcakes. i can't vouch for their taste, but they look adorable.

planning perfect parties on pinterest. (seriously, i think i missed my calling: imaginary party planning. if i had unlimited time, money, and Xanax i could probably create them in real life, too).

keeping secrets. (actually, i'm not as good at this anymore because i usually end up telling DM and he sucks at secrets, so by the transitive properties of marriage and secret suckage, i also suck at secrets.)

taking an obscene amount of family photographs.

online scrapbooks.

wowing people with my spectacular inability to park a car front-in. i kid you not. prepare to be the opposite of impressed.

biting off more than i can chew.

making mountains out of molehills.

and of course my mom skills, detailed at greater length here (my first blog post ever!)

thanks for bearing with me (baring with me? or does that mean let's get nekked togethah? i still don't think we know each other well enough for that! ;))

regularly scheduled programming may or may not resume shortly. depends if i can locate my mojo amongst my fat pants and ravaged boxes of See's candy. until then, i hope your 2015 is off to a great start!

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