Friday, August 28, 2015

buy bigger pants

I would venture to say that my and DM's text ratio is 4:1. Here's a text "conversation" from yesterday, aka, me talking to myself (which is why I need to blog!):

Done and done. ;)

Then a friend told me I looked skinny so I told her about my revelation. She said, "Wait, let me get this straight - buy bigger pants, look smaller?" Yes!

So there you go, folks. Saving the world one muffin top at a time. Don't say I never gave you anything :)

Happy Friday!

Friday, August 21, 2015

stuck at the airport

I'm fresh out of witty titles for yet another family "vacation" post. We went to the Outer Banks in North Carolina last week. No one got chewed on by a shark so I'm going to say it was a success.

This gets me every time.
The trip out there was pretty painless. I'm at peak mom performance when flying with my kids in the bulkhead behind a bunch of baby-hating first class bastards. Cultivating exemplary behavior in your children is fucking exhausting. I've never actually defused a bomb but I sort of imagine that being in enclosed public spaces with small children is basically the same thing, every three-to-five minutes, on endless repeat. Except instead of "Shit! Is it the red wire or the blue wire?!" it's "Please, for the love of God and everything holy, choose a snack/game/toy/book/movie/beverage that I have readily available in my handy-dandy backpack."

The kids were amazing but by the end of the day I was about to lose my shit. After twelve hours I was just SO OVER being on high alert, and the noise and being touched and grabbed and sat-on and the sticky hands on my face and having to carry a shit-ton of baggage, human and otherwise.

We finally got to our hotel in lovely Norfolk, Virginia, at about 1 a.m., and DM, sensing my fragile emotional state, went down and paid $40 for a bottle of cheap wine from the hotel bar. That's love.

The next day we started our drive to Duck, North Carolina. The Google told us the drive would only take an hour and a half which was much better than we expected. We stopped for lunch and groceries, and headed on our way. Unfortunately, approximately 2.1 billion other people had the same idea, and the drive that should have taken 1.5 hours took 4.
This should be interesting...
We stopped at a gas station for a bathroom break and snacks. DM is not averse to feeding the children things like Cheetos and Doritos on occasion, but I usually balk at that crap. (Not that I'm against junk food in general or edible items that are a shade of orange that does not occur in nature. It's just that those particular neon orange snacks gross me out.) However, one exception to my Dorito-ban is when Google Maps informs you it is going to take an hour and a half to drive 12 miles. Jack picked Nacho Cheese flavor and Colby chose Cool Ranch, which she aptly refers to as "The Smelly Ones."

Made it.
The actual "vacation" itself was pretty glorious, except for the part where I got food poisoning one day in. At least I had an ocean view while I sat on the toilet with a barf bucket between my knees. I was laid out the next day, which is the day I had ordered a cake for DM's 40th. Poor guy, I made him pick up, and pay for, his own birthday cake. Normally I like to shield him from the pesky little details such as the obscene amount of dollars I spend on themed party goods. Anyway, I let the bakery owner know that I was sending DM for the goodies in my stead because I had food poisoning. She asked, if I didn't mind, where I had eaten. When I told her, she replied, "Oh God. No wonder!" Great.

In addition to the important life lesson of "Listen to Yelp," I had a few other profound revelations:

Nutella + coffee is like a hot steaming cup of heaven.

And, ever notice how other people's drunk husbands are hilarious, but your own is annoying as hell? And how the converse is true of children? Like, nobody thinks your kids are as cute and charming as you do. And vice versa.

Lastly, it's super easy to make DIY exfoliating soap: Step 1: Take kids to sandy beach. Step 2: Put kids in bath. Step 3: Give them a bar of soap. Voila!

Unfortunately, the trip home ran a little less smoothly.

First, we had to make the drive and the cross country flight all in one day, which was ambitious. Then, after (mostly) being on their best behavior for seven days, the littles proceeded to lose their shit (literally and figuratively) approximately nine minutes into our fifteen hour travel day. We stopped at four different public bathrooms so Colby could attempt to poop. Whee. At least there wasn't traffic though! We got to the airport four hours early, which wouldn't have been terrible (gave us time to eat, run the kids, etc.), except...

All of the flights at Norfolk (and everywhere within a 200 mile radius) were grounded because the FAA server was down and thus air traffic control was rendered useless. Our flight was delayed indefinitely, which would cause us to miss our connection in Chicago, which happened to be the last flight out to San Diego that day. The next available flight out of Norfolk wasn't until Monday. (This was Saturday.)

Luckily, we did end up making it to Chicago that night. Of course, our baggage didn't. The kids weren't too stoked on not having their PJs, or their Star Wars toothbrushes. We got some cheapo vanity kits from the hotel, and Jack said, "That's nice they gave us these, but what would have been better is if we had packed our own things in our carry-ons. We should try to remember that next time." Yes, thank you, son. We should try to remember that.

I actually used to be really good about that. At least carrying-on toiletries and a spare pair of underwear. But I guess I got out of the habit now that our carry-ons are stuffed to the brim with blankies and lovies and iPads and crayons and coloring books and games and toys and a smorgasbord of non-Dorito snacks. (I'm actually really proud of myself, I made these adorable little travel boxes for the kids out of retro metal lunch boxes and those magnetic spice tins and all sorts of goodies. I am so Pinteresting right now!) So, yeah, not much room for emergency overnight supplies. Maybe next time.

I was texting with my two besties and one of them was having contraction-y type pains (at 22 weeks pregnant, so, no bueno), and the other one was about to undergo super scary back surgery, but obviously the most pressing problem was the fact that I had to wear the same underwear and stinky t-shirt the next day, and worse, I had to spend a day in public with NO MASCARA. (Um, by the way, as to the latter, did you know that there is now a MAC store in the Chicago O'Hare airport? Score!) As to the former, I tried to wash my shirt and underwear in the sink (< apparently, according to my brother and sister, this is very strange). Anyway, the shirt didn't dry overnight, so I spent twenty-minutes blow-drying it in the hotel bathroom, which I'm pretty sure only succeeded in me heat-sealing the BO into the fabric.

But. We were halfway there. When we got to the airport the next morning, we accidentally went to the fancy VIP security line and the agent let us in because I was giving off "good vibes." Maybe she assumed I was generating good vibes because I smelled like a dirty hippie? ;)

Because the flight was switched last minute, we had four separate seats strewn about the plane, and until about 20 minutes before we boarded, it was looking like we were going to have to rely on the mercy of strangers to get seats together, which I loathe doing, or, in the alternative, just leave our 3 and 5 year olds sitting solo with randos, which actually didn't seem like a completely terrible idea. But ultimately that got worked out too. Phew.

By the way, I think people who claim you shouldn't fly with kids are dicks, but I sympathize a little bit because I kind of feel the same way about people who fly when they've got SARS and shit.

My face when my neighbor on the plane apparently has Ebola.
As if 36 hours of travel wasn't enough, we had to drive straight from the airport to a final walk-through for our NEW HOUSE that we closed on the next day. This week has been so hectic we haven't even had a chance to celebrate! Should've saved some of that bourbon :)

But the kids have been great. Barely any vacation-hangover at all, despite the fact that Colby started a new class in preschool and Jack was in camp for a week which is way outside his comfort zone. (Come to think of it, this might be because, due to conflicting schedules, we had a babysitter picking them up every day and navigating "suicide hour" (as one of our friends calls it). Ha. Whoops. Thanks and apologies, J!)

PLUS, one of the TSA agents who patted me down at the airport told me I should "eat a cookie once in a while," so I'm going to mark the whole debacle down as a win!

Oh, I forgot to mention the part where we hired a dog-sitter and then she decided that she didn't really like taking care of our dog so she dropped Feta off at boarding and stayed at our house for a week anyway?! WTF?!

Friday, August 7, 2015

too pretty to be a feminist

My last post was kind of my standard "white people/rich people/first world problems" fare. But today, I feel like I have to warn you, I'm not peddling suburban mom jokes. Shits about to get a little opinionated. I know (and appreciate) that I have some conservative readers despite being a fairly raging liberal, so I just wanted to give you a heads up. I honestly don't think any of this should be a "Left" vs. "Right" issue though, more like a human issue, so hopefully we can still be friends. Welcome, friends, to the dark wandering halls of my little mind.

A professor once told me I was "too pretty to be a feminist." I'm not even that pretty so I don't know what that says about you real feminists. Anyway, what does this even mean?? If I had to guess, I'd say she was referring to the fact that I wear heels and makeup and all the other trappings of femininity created by old white men to subjugate women and make sure we can't run fast or eat too much of their pizza for fear of busting the seams of our skinny jeans.

I resent the implication that I have to be some sort of angry, bra-burning, bushy-pitted woman to be a feminist.

Actually, I resent the implication that we aren't all feminists already. My general take on it is, "Do you believe men and women should have equal rights? If yes, you are a feminist. If no, you are an asshole." But that's a discussion for another day. In the meantime may I refer you to my boyfriend Mark Ruffalo. And my other boyfriend, Aziz Ansari.

Here's the deal. I like (trying to be) pretty. It makes me happy. It makes me feel good. I like to paint my face and dress myself in the most glorious finery that Target affords. Granted, I sometimes feel a slave to it. I envy the people who can look effortlessly chic with their hair in a messy bun, bare face, and ratty yoga pants (or, who just don't give a shit). But that is not me.
I actually own this sweatshirt. Yes, I am a terrible feminist and role model. But tell me this isn't your dream date. F*ck long walks on the beach at sunset ;)
Still (and I've talked about this before) with a daughter (and a son), I have to be careful about the message I'm sending. Otherwise, this might happen:

C: Mama you look so pwetty.
Me: Thanks baby.
C: [stage whispers] What about me?
me: Oh! Yes. You always look beautiful, love. But you know what's even more important than being pr...
Me: You're funny.
C: I am NOT funny. You're funny.
Me: Thank you! I think I'm hilarious.
C: You are NOT funny. Only boys can be funny.

I guess I should at least appreciate that she has already picked up on certain social cues like mandatory gratuitous reciprocal compliments.

Another professor once told me that I could be an effective "marketer" of women's causes because I was pleasant and attractive, and therefore didn't come off as "an angry feminist." I found this strange and somewhat disturbing (but also weirdly truthful) and was reminded of it recently when reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I loved this book, by the way, but I eat this kind of stuff up - critical race and gender theory, the intersectionality of oppressions, etc, etc, etc. May not be everyone's cup o' tea. Anywho, the book discusses how American Blacks cannot talk about certain things (e.g. racism) without coming across as angry/threatening/intimidating to White Americans. There's also a chapter on "the white friend who gets it," and how you should use that white friend as a resource for advancing your cause because they can say things you never could. Which is kind of like having a pretty, pleasant feminist friend. Obviously, as a privileged white girl I have no knowledge or claim on the experience and oppression of women of color. I just found it to be an interesting parallel.

Okay, I'm getting all kinds of tangential up in here, but THIS is reminding me of something else. The backlash to the #BlackLivesMatter campaign. It's like whenever I give my daughter a compliment, my son gets all butt-hurt and acts like I said the equal and opposite thing to him. For example, I tell my daughter that she looks pretty. My son instantly pouts, "What, and I'm ugly or somefing?" Yes, son. When I tell your sister that she is pretty, I am implicitly saying that you are a despicable troll. I can't even bear to look at you.

Duh. No. That's not how this works. #WhiteLivesMatter too. All of the colors. The mens and the womens and the childrens. #LIVESMatter. Oh, and #LionsLivesREALLYMatter. Like, BIG TIME. (Not saying that the Cecil the Lion situation isn't FUCKED UP, just, you know, interesting in comparison to the human life thing. Also, crazy ass vigilantes need to fuckin' chill.)

The thing is, all the lives should matter the same. Young black males are 21 times more likely to be killed by law enforcement than their white counterparts. People of color are more likely to be stopped by the police, as well as become a victim of excessive force. Excessive force in general is a concern, of course. But it's hard to deny the skew.

I'm at once grateful and ashamed to admit that this is not really something that plagues me in my daily life. My kids are the whitest half-ethnic kids you will ever meet. But I don't want my insulation to morph into ignorance, or worse yet, complicity.

The other day Jack said "Did you know that when Martin Lufer King was alive, black people couldn't go in the same stores or restaurants or dwink from the same dwinking fountains as white people? Dat's awful. If I was alive back den, I would open up a store wif a restaurant and dwinking fountains and let all the people go dare." For some reason, having this conversation with my blond-haired, blue-eyed half-Persian son with a backdrop of #BlackLivesMatter really brought home how not far removed we are from this. I have friends who are trying to raise strong, confident children of color RIGHT NOW. And sure, their kids are allowed to use the same drinking fountains. But... imagine that your child is more likely to be pulled over, arrested, or shot by law enforcement? More likely to drop out of school? To be expelled from school, which can kick off a downward spiral to the juvenile justice system, and ultimately, prison. A black male born today has a one in three chance of spending time in prison. He's more likely to be unemployed. More likely to live below the poverty line. Skipped over for an interview, an apartment, a home? Just because of the color of his skin?

And, to bring it back full circle... What if your daughter was destined to be paid 70 cents on the dollar for doing the same job as her brother? Or told she's not strong enough, fast enough, or smart enough, because she throws/runs/thinks "like a girl?" That her brain isn't equipped for math or science or engineering? That she isn't thin enough or pretty enough? Or, she's too pretty? Too pretty to be an engineer? To feel the unique gut-deep fear of walking in a dark alley alone at night? Simply because she has a vagina?

What if your son was three times as likely to experience verbal or physical harassment because of his sexual orientation? Or because he has two moms? To be four times as likely to attempt suicide?

I mean, shit. Do you know how, like, baseline hard it is to not fuck up your kids? To teach them and protect them from the big scary world, yet give them the tools to survive and thrive and grow? And then you have to go and add all this shit into the mix?

Anyone who claims that racism and sexism and homophobia "just don't exist anymore," and equality reigns supreme in the promised land of milk and honey needs to come back down to Earth. Just go read some internet comments and get back to me on that one. In the meantime, I'm going to keep doing my part as a White Ally and a Pretty Feminist and add one more voice to the mix.

It's kind of like having the sex talk with your kids - awkward and uncomfortable and embarrassing and terrible and categorically imperative. Except instead of the birds and the bees its race and gender and inequality, and instead of teenagers, it's the entire country, or the world. Which might actually be easier. Or not. 

And while we're on the subject of things we don't want to think/talk about, watch this:

Thank you. And I now return you to the regularly scheduled suburban working mom jokes.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

adulting is hard

At 8:30 this morning, I poured the contents of my basket onto the CVS conveyor belt. Two bottles of Drano. A four-pack of Diet Red Bull. Advil. Travel deodorant. Static Guard. Dry shampoo. Sunblock. Baby powder. Two Star Wars light saber tooth brushes. Terrible "strawberry pizazz GMO FD&C Red No. 4" kids toothpaste. And a pack of Starburst.

There was an old dude in line behind me and he started laughing and said, "Looks like you've got all your bases covered." Indeed. I am ready for the Apocalypse. And by Apocalypse I mean, A Weekday Morning. Then he told me my toes looked very pretty but that I needed a manicure. Hey buddy, are you offerin'?

The reason I was buying Drano at 8:30 in the morning is because I cannot stand another day of showering in 3 inches of dirty water, and there is no other time for me to obtain said product. Oh and the static guard is because my legs are so prickly that they create their own static force field when I wear skirts. Shave? C'mon son. Be real. Just buy Static Guard, obviously. All of the rest of that shit should be self-explanatory.

I just... I don't understand when LIFE is supposed to get done. I feel like life itself is a full-time job. But the problem is, I already have a full time job. So now I have two full-time jobs. But LIFE seems to operate on the same general schedule as the rest of the world, aka, during normal business hours. Therein lies the problem. Someone open a chain of doctor/dentist/veterinarian/dry cleaner/car repair/coffee/grocery store/salons that operate from 5 PM to 9 AM and you will make ONE MILLION dollars. I swear.

The other day my car died while I was driving 80 mph on the freeway. It was scary as hell. This probably could have been avoided if I'd taken it in 2 days earlier when it started acting funny, but is that supposed to happen before or after the Drano run?

I live about 30 miles from work, and the commute takes between 35 and 75 minutes, depending on traffic. There is a train station about a mile from my home, and the train station downtown is literally across the street from my office. So people (understandably) ask me ALL THE DAMN TIME if I take the train, and when I say "No, not often," they ask, dumbfounded, "Why not???"

Here's why: There's an 8am train, and a 10am train. (P.S. - TRAIN SCHEDULER PERSONS, W-T-F? Would a 9am train be so much to ask?) Now, in order to get on the 8am train, I would have to get my kids to school by 7:40 am at the latest (and I mean like, signed, sealed, delivered: 5 hugs, 3 kisses, 2 doleful stares through the glass, rinse, repeat, the forgotten lunch/bedding/Elsa costume/karate gi/ballet slippers/spirit week paraphernalia, etcetera). Props to those of you who do this on the regular but this is damn near impossible for us. My kids would sleep until 7:30/8am if I let them. I don't know about you, but I would rather eat knives than wake them. I still have to do it almost daily (especially Jack), but I do my best to maximize the minutes of sleep for all parties involved. It works out better for everyone in the long run. When Jack starts kindergarten he has to be there by 7:58 and I'm already dreading the logistics. So, yeah, 8am train? Not so much.

10am train? Strangely, my employer frowns upon people showing up to work at 10:45 in the morning. Brunch, anyone?

But, okay, just for shits and giggles, lets assume I can get my ass on the 8am train. This gets me to work by 8:45. I'm golden. Except then I have to pick up two kids at two different schools by 6pm. I have to take the 4:27 train to get there on time. This means I have to walk out of my Big Law office by 4:17pm. Unless I somehow develop the super power of invisibility, that's just not gonna fly.

This is a common theme. The kids' daycare used to be open from 8:30 to 5. That made it literally impossible to work an 8 hour day. The daycare providers always said, with a nice steaming hot serving of Mom Guilt, "Well, that's a very long day for a young child to be away from his mother. We certainly wouldn't want to draw it out any longer." Certainly not. (And I don't mean to be glib. It does super suck for my poor littles to be at daycare/school 10 hours a day. But I can feel like an asshole about this on my very own, I don't need your help, thankyouverymuch.) Please, wise sage, share with me the employer that's cool with me working a 6.5 hour day?

So. Enemy number 1: Capitalism. The Labor Party. America's unflagging work ethic. You name it.

But you know what else is ruining my life? The schools. Now, again, please don't take this the wrong way. You spend more time with my children than I do. I respect and admire the work that you do. You're saints in apple-appliqued sweaters. But dude. C'mon. Help a sister out.

This may come as a shock to you, but I am not shelling out X amount of dollars every month in ransom tuition to send my kids to preschool so that I can stay home and bake healthy snacks and make crafts in between back to back pilates classes, and come up with weekly ways to celebrate my precious little snowflakes and the teachers that help shape their wittow bwains. I LOVE my crazy critters and I APPRECIATE you teachers, I really, truly do. But it's ALWAYS something. And it can't even be the same damn thing for both kids. Tuesday is Crazy Hair Day for Colby and Pajama Day for Jack and then on Friday I'm in charge of bringing gluten-free donuts and steamed nut-milk lattes for the entire staff. Next week its fresh-picked flowers from the garden. (Does a sprig of regurgitated rosemary count?) The week after it's coffee for Emma and Katie, decaf tea for Lindsey, and cold-pressed juice for Katrina, who's morally opposed to Starbucks.

If only Ryan Gosling were Room Mom.
Of course, if you can't participate in a meaningful manner, you can always cop out by throwing money at it, which is often the route I take. So here, I have created a little equation that represents the real cost of preschool:

Annual Tuition + [($X asinine mandatory "donation" every goddamn week I swear to god) x (1.5 mom guilt multiplier) x (52 weeks)] + (Additional 10% if you failed to volunteer at the Book Faire) + $50 if your blueberry muffins were store-bought = Actual Cost

[Who ever said girls aren't good at math?! That's some Beautiful Mind shit right there!]

You know what makes it all better though?

Amazon Prime.