Saturday, April 30, 2011

Facebook, We Can't Stand it Anymore...

Oh Facebook... 

We love you so much but there's a problem.  We keep seeing these status updates and they're at best tedious and at worst so obnoxious that we want to start karate punching. And we really want to say something obnoxious in response BUT WE CAN'T.  Well, I guess we can but we don't want to hurt anyone's feelings or set off some nasty flame war or have all the moms at our elementary school de-friend us.  So we say nothing. 

[Editor's note: We fully understand that we can be guilty of the this too. For example, Lydia is one of the people who feels compelled to frequently post pictures of her food. How nice for you, Lydia! You made chicken!]

And every time we see some thing like this: "You'd think after days of being home sick together the kids and I would be going crazy, but no! Instead it's been such fun and we have just loved spending so much precious time together!"

We want to post something like this: "You'd think after three years of insipid postings that I would block you from my feed, but no! Instead I practice my hammering skills - on my skull!"

But we CAN'T. So we have a favor to ask.  Send us all the Facebook status updates that annoy you (better do it anonymously) and we'll respond to them.  Hopefully it will help us purge the urge to snark whenever someone we know posts that they have a bad case of the Mondays.

Leave us a comment here or on Facebook or Twitter, and we'll pick a bunch to respond to and post it later in the week.  Thank you so much!

xo, Kate & Lydia

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Friday, April 29, 2011

Top Ten Unwritten Rules of the Playground

Here's the thing about the playground: Schmidt happens.  So we've come up with some rules for making the most of the time when your kids get to run around, make too much noise and wear themselves out so that maybe, possibly - they'll go to bed early.  It's OK to dream the impossible dream - it could happen.

10. There will be playground disputes.  Settling such skirmishes can be touchy.  If there's problem between two kids, the one who's crying is generally acknowledged as the de-facto victim. Even if he's the kid holding the tree branch like it's a baseball bat.

9. Mommies are only responsible for providing snacks for their own offspring.  Do not provide vittles for strange children no matter how pitiful and Oliver Twist-y they are.  They might have food allergies or actually be Gremlins who must not be fed fruit roll-ups after midnight or given juice boxes.

8. It is perfectly acceptable to parent other people's kids if they are creating an "imminent harm" situation.  But if you start to helicopter random shorties on the playground, you're going to get told off by a mom who doesn't appreciate your interference.  It's a slippery slope people, use The Force on this one. 

7. If your kid is on the little merry-go-round ride, you. have. to. push. Why is it that the kid that spends two straight hours on that ride has the mom who is sitting across the park with a Skinny Latte? My left arm is starting to look like Popeye's, and just as soon as my kid gets off the ride, I'm gonna come over there and treat you like a can of spinach. 

We know it's totally inappropriate.
It's also totally awesome.
6. Slides are easy -- all it requires is one tiny heinie and gravity. Sit. Go down. No feet, no dirt, no climbing up the slide, no acting like a New York City nightclub bouncer at the top of the ladder. 1. Sit. 2. Go down.

5. Your dog is adorable. Though slightly less adorable when you let it off the leash and it knocks my kid over. And even less appealing when it takes care of business and you pretend not to notice. Clean it up or you're gonna find it in your purse.

4. Please share the swing. There's usually only -- what? -- maybe six of them? That means you have to share. Don't make Mommy use the weird-hissing-I'm-not-yelling-at-you-in-public voice to try and coerce you into doing the right thing.  Also? Don't walk in front of the swings unless you want a traumatic brain injury.

Oh right. This one is MUCH worse.
 3. Don't throw sand. Don't throw sand. Don't throw sand. Don't throw sand. Don't throw sand. Don't throw sand. Don't throw sand. Don't throw sand. Don't throw sand. Don't throw sand. Don't throw sand. Don't throw sand. Don't throw sand. Don't throw sand. Don't throw sand. Don't throw sand. Also? Don't throw mulch.

2.  The water fountain is for -- gasp! -- drinking water. It's not a weapon, a toy or the site of a future Woodstock. Please stop trying to create a muddy mosh pit, because all you're doing is giving my toddler one more opportunity to be filthy within nine seconds of arriving.

1. If you say you're bored, we leave. Immediately.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011

RFM Will Be Back, Right After These Messages...

We sent the kids back to school this week with such enthusiasm that we might have put on tap shoes and shuffle-ball-changed all the way there. Kate was like, "Enjoy homework, suckers! It's my day off!" tappity-tappity-tap-tap-tappity and then McGee yelled, "You and Lydia have to write all that other stuff today!" 

Kate would have been annoyed, but when McGee skipped across the street and into school all superior-like, Kate was standing back on the curb, happily holding McGee's lunchbox. Have a great day at school, sweetheart. Don't piss off Mommy.

So yes. We did have homework to do...and here it is:

Over at Parents Connect, Kate lets the world in on why she maybe should have lost her ability to speak after her kids were born. Because she teaches them bad things to say...and to the worst people.

Of course, even if Kate had spared the IHPs the knowledge of fantastic words and phrases, they'd all be well versed in super-duper hand gestures and facial expressions. Lefty pointed out the other day that the design on my Afghani -- Afghani? Afghan? -- rug [Editor's Note: What is it with me and this freakin' rug? McLovin hauls it all the way back from Againistan and now it just freaks me out. -Kate]  looks like it's a bunch of little hands flipping us off. And now every time I look at it, it's all hostile.

Lydia puts on her reporter hat and interviews Scary Mommy over at Maternal Ammunition. She's really not that scary and is in fact Yoda-like in her awesomeness.

And, Kate did write her news update for The Huffington Post and it's right here.  Some of our posts are having a tough time getting past our very kind editors. Maybe because Kate. makes. stuff. up.  Here's last week's post (which never made it past the editors). Because, for all you know, it just happened this afternoon. Ahh, the advantages of watching Illiterate TV. Which, by the way, is an AWESOME name for a TV channel for kids, except for the part that they could never find it, what with all the words and everything.


Baseball season is now officially in full swing, which means that, for moms all over the country, our televisions are now stuck on two distinct channels. Nickelodeon and ESPN. We figure that with the length of the baseball season, we should just be about done with the laundry right about the time our husband's teams are no longer in contention...which coincidentally is right about the time that football season starts. But it doesn't mean that we can't stay informed about what else is happening in the world. Our weekly roundup, with an homage to NBC television programs, past and present:

US and African Union officials have made it clear to Colonel More-and-More Get-Off-Me that, if he wants the bombing of his country to end, that it's time to step down and depart Libya. Since the bombing began, water and electricity have been shut off to cities held by the Libyan leader, though US officials say they will resume services if he goes. They've also made it clear that his departure from power is "non-negotiable." And, like any good dictator who is watching his people suffer through a situation not of their own making, he said no. We're starting to think he's sounding more and more like our children right before they get a spanking and get sent to their rooms for the night.

In US news, with just 41 minutes left until the federal government shut it doors, our *esteemed* elected officials shook hands on a deal that will fund the government, the troops and their own wallets for the 2011 fiscal year. Which started ten months ago. And expires at the end of this September. So, thanks Congress. It only took you a half a year to get a deal that will last a half a year. Which is laudable considering that you work three days a week, and take three weeks off for Easter Vacation. Factor in the two month hiatus this summer and the "spring recess" -- whatever that is -- and we just hope that you manage to give us the 2012 budget at some point before 2066.

Hoping things are better the second time around, former Massachusetts Governor -- and Don Draper wanna be -- Mitt Romney announced this week that he might be announcing at some point in the future that he might run for president. The presumptive Republican frontrunner made his announcement in front of an empty New Hampshire football field. Yes, because if you want to make a big announcement, it's best to do it in a place where no one is there to hear it.

Hollywood has been getting some lately. Tori Spelling announced via Twitter this week that she and husband Dean McDermott are expecting their third child.Tori tweeted, "I know there's been a lot of speculation, so I wanted everyone to hear it from me...Its official...Dean & I are PREGNANT!!!" Rumors began several weeks ago when Dean was seen around town sporting a baby bump and Tori magically grew a new pair of boobs. In other stork news, funny lady Tina Fey is expecting child number two, Victoria Beckham is awaiting a much hoped for girl - who she is reportedly going to scar for life by naming her Santa. And, "celebrity" Kimberly Stewart is reportedly pregnant with her first child with -- wait for it -- Academy Award wining actor Benecio del Toro. We think the only way this was made possible was because Benecio told Kimberly that he got an Oscar for "21 Grams" and she thought he said his friend Oscar HAD 21 grams. Could happen to anyone...

It's a love story like no other. Seems a nesting goose in a Buffalo cemetery has an unlikely sentry. In the form of a deer. Wildlife officials attempted to move a goose who had built a nest in an urn at the Forest Lawn Cemetery, but were thwarted by the buck, who is now standing guard over his feathered friend. As of yet, the deer has yet to leave her side, and rather, is positioning himself between the goose and anyone who tries to approach the nest. Officials say this could be a long wait for the deer, as the nesting season is expected to last another three weeks. But for now, it seems that the game of Buck, Buck, Goose will continue a bit longer.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Five Universal Laws of Bedtime

There's something magical about the phrase "Time for Bed!" It spontaneously transforms our children into tiny little atomic particles of destruction and evasion, ricocheting off of everything except their toothbrushes and their pillows. And we invariably wind up standing in the hallway making threats of such cosmic - and comic - proportions that, when we finally do retreat downstairs, the kids whisper to each other, "Do you really think Mommy is going to the moon tonight? Why can't we go? She's so mean..."

1. The Hydration Equation
This refers to the sudden onset of extreme thirst and/or hunger that is timed to delay going to sleep and to possibly make mommy's head explode.  Remember that thing called dinner? The thing you didn't feel like eating? Remember the full glass of milk you left on the table twenty minutes ago? YOU ARE NEITHER HUNGRY NOR THIRSTY, YOU JUST DON'T WANT TO GO TO SLEEP.  You can't fool mommy. 

2.  The Elimination Lapse
You do three things in the bathroom. Brush, wash and go. And, every night, we do all three of those things. So let me ask you something, because I just don't understand it. Why do I have to remind you to pee?  I am inclined to think that you don't pee on purpose because you know I'll ask you if you remembered to brush, wash and go and then you'll have an excuse to get out of bed and ask me four hundred questions.  Rather than just go to sleep, so that I can fold laundry with my nice glass of wine and something cheesy on TV.

3. The Lunar Revelations
By the time bedtime rolls around, the children have been home from school for somewhere between four to seven hours. In that time, there's been opportunities to play, eat, possibly do homework, rat on their siblings, pretend to take a bath, eat some more, play Wii, smack someone, sit in Time Out, complain about dinner, eat dinner, whine about the woefully pathetic dessert selection, tell your parents about every stinkin' moment of your school day including when you thought you were rappers and eat some more.

Why, dear children, does bedtime suddenly coincide with a daily epiphany of all the sh*t you forgot to do? Things like an art project. Or get out the note that your teacher sent home to remind mommy about the Field Trip she agreed to chaperone. Tomorrow. With cupcakes. Is your bed the trigger for your memory? Because if that's the case, we have a problem. In that somehow you can look at your bed every morning and still not remember that maybe making it would be a good idea.

4.  The Proximation Predilection
After spending the entire afternoon ignoring me & rolling your eyes, now you want to snuggle? You must think I'm an idiot. You just want to drag out bedtime as long as you possibly can until I -- oh, all right. Come here and snuggle.  I love you, too.  Just for five minutes though. GAAAHH! Your feet are cold! And please stop shoving your elbow in my boob. That dent is not going to come out. 
5. The Quadratic Formula of Equality
No matter how efficient you think you are, there is no getting around the fact that the bedtime routine will take ten minutes per kid. Add a bedtime related chore - say getting backpacks filled and placed by the door or exterminating a monster infestation under a bed or in a closet - add another ten minutes. Per kid. Then factor in the super-annoying, post-tuck-in, pre-sleeping, multiple-mom-shout-outs and requests-for-sh*t.

And that's when we turn from kind, loving mommies into crazy, seething lunatics who threaten our kids with snakes if they don't stop making noise for the love of Maude. Luckilly, there's a new book for that...

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Domestic Enemies of the Foster Mom

Last month we got a letter from Sally, who said that it was time we exposed the Domestic Enemies of the Foster Mom. We thought that was a brilliant idea, particularly because Sally launched into the piece and then wrote at then very end "Let me know if you want more..." and we were like, "holy crap there's more?"

A little about Sally...first of all, she takes in kids knowing that they may leave next week, next month or five seconds after she falls completely in love with them. She says she loves "organizing things and taking naps...that's how I party..." which is so much better than what we first read which was that she liked organizing naps and taking things. Kate was kinda loving those hobbies. OH! And if that wasn't enough, Sally loves shoes. So, of course Kate is now her best friend. Enjoy!


Being a foster mom is great. But we've discovered that with every little face that enters our door, they are also accompanied by a very unique set of Domestic Enemies:

Way too many people in your business: In the almost three years we were foster parents to my son, we had 11 different social workers, 2 guardian ad litems, a speech therapist and two mental health therapists [one for him; one for me]. All of them needed to make monthly home visits and check things like the child’s well being and where you keep your alcohol. No, really. It was on a check list. Sometimes I forgot to put my Ibuprofen and child-proof cough syrup bottles in a locked box and I would have to hide everything in the trunk of my car. And since we were licensed by an outside agency, we actually had TWO social workers coming every month. But not at the same time because one of the social workers was whack and refused to conduct her home check with the other social worker. Even though they asked the exact same questions.

"Managing" all these appointments in addition to working full time and trying to raise two other howler monkey children *might* make a certain foster mom possibly forget she maybe had her 3-year-old foster son with her when she dropped off her other kids at school, theoretically leaving said 3-year-old on the playground while she ran to her car because she was late for a meeting with the social worker...who was coming to do the monthly "health and safety" check. Maybe. Oops.*

Piles and piles o’ paperwork: To become a licensed foster parent, you must fill out approximately 512 forms, take over 30 hours of classes and divulge every last painful, embarrassing and medical piece of information about yourself. Mental health issues in my family? A little. Extra toe? Do you *really* need to know that? Okay, yes but not anymore.

Asinine comments:  I've had to bite my tongue so many times that I'm pretty sure part of it is missing.
"He is so lucky!" I appreciate the sentiment. And clearly people who say this have never witnessed my daily late-for-school tirade of yelling at the howler monkeys, “Will you PLEASE GET IN THE CAR! AHHH GET IN THE CAR! WHY WON’T YOU GET IN THE CAR???! STOP TOUCHING THAT AND GET IN THE CAR!” But let me show you the volumes of documented hell that this kid went through before he was put into foster care and then tell me if you really think he’s lucky. All kids deserve to be loved unconditionally and kept safe and healthy. It’s a right, not luck.

Some of my favorite comments:

"Really, you’re going to adopt him? Aren’t you worried about his birth parents getting him back?"
While I will always be grateful to Lifetime for the LA-Law-athons I spent most of my college days watching, they have done a real disservice in perpetuating a lot of misconceptions about adoption. Trust me – it takes a whole hell of a lot to get a kid out of the foster care system and terminate parental rights. The state’s first objective – as it should be – is to help birth parents get the services and support they need to have a healthy and stable life for themselves and their children. Only once all options - and my sanity - are exhausted AND there have been about five zillion dozen hearings, will they move for termination. Once that happens, it is final.

"Does he have [in a whisper] special needs?" Uhh, yeah jackhole. He sure does. But apparently you do too.

"What about drug exposure?" Ummm, we are really careful about not doing drugs around the kids? Oh, you mean with his birth mom? Likely, but let me show you the oodles of medical evidence that show that, except for alcohol, children who are born exposed to drugs in utero can thrive in life with virtual no lasting effects, as long as they have loving, stable caregivers who can help them through the sticky stuff. It’s totally unlike dropping a baby on its head, which I think happened to you.

Inherited issues: To put it lightly, my little guy had some mommy issues. With good reason. And wow did our journey together bring me to my knees. But I’ll tell you this – we are bonded for life and I am crystal clear about what a privilege it is that he calls me Mommy. I had to earn that right, as I should. And I don’t take it lightly. When he jumps into my arms and whispers loudly and spittley in my ear, “I love you Mommy” and gives me a high five, I know that I am the lucky one.

So would I do it all again. Yep. Are we nuts? Oh, even yesser, but that’s another issue. And if you ever want to meet a group of utterly amazing, underpaid, passionate people – find yourself some social workers.Or you can put out an ad for some. I'll help you with the paperwork.

xoxo Sally

*The possible/maybe/hypothetical kid in this story was just fine. In fact, he was thrilled to have the entire playground all to himself for 7 minutes. Well, except for the three responsible parents who stayed with him until the foster mom pulled her head out of her arse and realized she was missing something.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011

Five Things About The Terrible Twos

My littlest smoochie is now two and a half.  There are things that she’s doing that should not come as a surprise to me – I mean , she’s my third kid.  She's also an evil genius.  Maybe there’s some sort of terrible twos amnesia (like they claim occurs with childbirth), and that’s why I can't remember any of this stuff.  Or maybe I'm in denial.  No, of course not. . .

That one word has come to dominate my life.  I hear it ten thousand times a day. I had forgotten that two year olds have an infinite capacity for seeing and hearing the same crap in a seemingly endless repetition.  And the best part? The stuff she likes best is designed to give me a damn stroke.  Do you know how many times this week I have watched the Wiggles? I can’t even count that high.  Do you know the number of times I have read the stupid Elmo book about puppies? I can’t tell you because thinking about that book causes me to black out.  Even the Easter service at church was infiltrated by the cries of AGAIN after the choir and orchestra played a fanfare from some long dead German composer.  The child had to yield to a higher power though.  Not that she noticed.   

I appreciate that toddlers need to learn to do things for themselves.  I understand that this is to be encouraged.  But why must these moments always come when we’re running ten minutes late?  And why must they always include things that would take me five seconds to do for her but take her twenty minutes to do for herself?  So I sit there and twitch and try not to put her shoes on her feet until I finally lose my schmidt and throw her in the van and wrestle her into her car seat as she screams “NO, I DO IT! NO, I DO IT!” over and over and the neighbors wonder if they should call County services.  Also, I don't -- nor will ever -- get how the same fingers that can unbuckle a car seat in Houdini light speed while I am driving, are somehow incapable of buckling the same car seat in five minutes of minivan cardiac time.

My two year old has always been a handful but I often wondered how aware she was that her behavior was naughty.  Now I know. She gets it. She understands everything. And she doesn’t give a sh*t.  She’s like the crazy nastyass honey badger.  She just doesn’t care.  Her adolescence should be really fun.

There’s a reason that two year olds are the cutest creatures on earth.  And why the sound of their precious voices is the sweetest noise you’ll ever hear.  It’s because in addition to the tantrums, the intentional naughtiness, the compulsion to watch Dora 4,000 times a day and make you late for everything – they’re also horrifying.  Two year olds will do crazy and disgusting things that would shock and awe interogators at CIA black sites.  Example: Upon seeing one such episode of grossness in the playground sandbox, I had a random Perfect Mommy observe my horror and smugly tell me, “It’s perfectly natural! They’re just exploring their world!” That might be, I just wish they’d explore it without the cat turds.

Wait. That was gross wasn’t it? Sorry.

Ahhh… Good times. My favorites aren’t the public tantrums – though those are pretty awesome. If for no other reason than being publically humiliated is always a good time and who doesn't love being THAT mom at the grocery store? My favorites are actually the tantrums that are triggered by something so totally ridiculous and unreasonable that it becomes funny. I'm talking about the times when the small one turns into a cross between the angry version of Christian Bale and the full-time version of Gaddafi over something so trivial or inane that it couldn't be explained in either plain English or a cave drawing. No honey, no matter how much you cry and stomp and kick your stroller – you may not lick the floor at Walmart. And no, you may not spray yourself in the face with daddy’s deodorant even though you think it would really fun.

xo, Lydia

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Friday, April 22, 2011

Top Ten: Things Kate Did While Everyone Was Away

 Lydia hightailed it out of town last Saturday for a Coupon Family Disney Holiday. The last thing I heard from her was a text that said "We are on the road again like murtherfurkin' Willie Nelson!" Then, four days later she asked me to send an email and told me how busy she was.

And then McLovin and Happy left town. And then Lefty and McGee decided they should light out too. So, for 47 1/2 hours, I was a.l.o.n.e. You'd think I would have relished it. You think I would have thought it was the best 47 1/2 hours of my life.

You'd think wrong.

10. I solicited on Twitter for a Lydia stand-in for three days. No one good ever answered it. Except the police. A Twitter tip: the word "soliciting" should definitely NOT be part of your 140 characters. And the people who did answer...I'm sorry. I'm not sure I know what you're talking about, but no, I don't have a webcam. Also, ewww.

9. I convinced Guru Louise to come visit from Boston. It's only a 10 hour drive. With two kids. Alone. I have issues. The first words out of my mouth were, "wow, Boston is really far." Thanks, Captain Obvious. Later, her daughter slapped me with a sandwich. I'm pretty sure that was planned.

8. I ate nachos from 7-11. With jalapenos.

7. I stared at my wine refrigerator conjuring up plausible Lent-defying reasons that would make a glass of wine possible. None of them worked. Hint: Watered down cranberry juice in a wine glass ain't fooling nobody. I still had four glasses. And then peed all night.

6. I watched four episodes of "South Park" followed by a Discovery Health Channel hour-freakin'-long show about bed bugs. And then my brain ever so helpfully gave names to all the assumed bugs in my bed and then I did laundry. Thank you, brain. I know now that when Eric Cartman is the soothing thought in my head, it's time that I introduce you to the pointy end of nail file.

5. Planned for a four-hour Mulch-The-Garden Extravaganza. Then it rained. It was the best excuse ever to watch Harry Potter for the fourth time. But I still skipped over the snake in the Bathilda Bagshot suit because that scene is scary. Shut up.

4. I swept the driveway. I swept the driveway. Uh-huh. Swept the driveway. Still have to keep saying that...yeah. For an hour....swept...the m***erf**kin' driveway.

3. I contemplated how long I could go without a shower. But then I thought about it too much and couldn't stand it anymore. Total elapsed time: 44 minutes.

2. Watched "Team America". Then Kim Jong Il sang about being lonely and then I thought of Lydia, and then I realized I was comparing myself to a North Korean dictator -- and a puppet -- and then I called Lydia a name and went shopping.

1. Tallied up my solo hours and discovered that, subtracting time for sleeping, eating and watching movies, [Editor's Note: And time doing this particular math problem.] I spent 55% of my free time....doing laundry.

Hell, they all might as well come home now. Before I start soliciting again.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011

How Kate Met Lydia - Part 4

 And, now for the end...


That night, after the hour-long torture that is “putting the children to bed”, I told the Cap’n what happened in the parking lot with Kate.  He just nodded.  “I always thought you should reach out to her.  You know that.  I’m pretty sure she needs a Lydia.”

Maybe he was right but I couldn’t help thinking that if she didn’t want a Lydia, that I had just told someone I wasn’t sure I liked far too much about myself and my family.  I felt sort of sick.  I feared this was going to be another time I would think back over things I’d blurted out and wish I’d never said them.  Sadly, it was a sensation I was used to.

A few days passed and Kate and I didn’t run into each other at school or reach out in any way.  I sure as hell wasn’t going to.  I had no idea if she felt as queasy as I did about the whole experience.  I’ve spent my entire life regretting being too open and having total strangers tell me random things.  This was just another one of those times…  Except that I felt better for having said it all out loud.  I felt like the Cap’n was right and maybe it was good for both of us that I had reached out to her.

I had spent my life building up walls. Based on this crazy flawed theory that, if I never really let anyone into my life, then I never have to watch them go racing for the exits. A dear friend gave me a refrigerator magnet – because really, life truly can be boiled down to the pithy perfected logic that fits on a 2X2 artwork holder – that said, “True Friends are the ones that know all about you and like you anyway.” It’s a nice sentiment; in my life, it’s also crap. There are nuclear disposal facilities that would kindly pass on the psychological soup that I’ve been brewing up these nearly 40 years.

Walls, fortresses, even a moat for the really good juicy tidbits, complete with crocodiles just to keep the Lydias of the world at bay. But this particular Lydia? I’m not sure how she did it. It was like she just appeared inside. Like some kind of yoga pants wearing Dumbledore. I was terrified. I was going to have to leave, or move or quit the church. Or just volunteer to be the guinea pig for a new remote colony. On Saturn. What was I thinking? Lydia knew WAY too much about me, and I don’t think either one of us knew what to do next.

For two days, I took Happy to school, and didn’t see Lydia. The first day, I showed up with this pit of nausea in my stomach. What was I going to say, “Oh, heeeeeyyyy. So, how’ve you been since I verbally vomited all my secrets all over you? Yeah, it was gross. But, you’re used to sticky, smelly things on your shirt right? Right?”

The second day, I was kind of hoping I’d see her. I wasn’t sure why. The truth was, while I wasn’t sure of my feelings at the moment, when we talked, I really had felt better. Normal. Not like I was playing some role. And, the more I thought about the kind of person Lydia was, the more I was sure she’d never be the kind of person who gossiped. Sure, about silly stuff and Lindsay Lohan and possibly a church member who had one too many cocktails at the Family Dinner Night, but not this.

I didn’t see her that day, or the next. Lydia has this way about her that just invites people in. Me? Not so much. So, what would happen if I reached out? By the next week, the fear of the meltdown, the idea there could be a real friend to confide in, and – let’s be honest – the fact that I needed to borrow a kid thing and she had one, had gelled. And I sat down at my computer.

I got an email from Kate.  She didn’t mention our hour-long mutual meltdown in the parking lot.  Instead she asked how I was doing and if she could borrow a Pack-N-Play, as she’d given hers away and had friends with a baby coming to stay.

I emailed her back right away, saying no problem, when did she want it and did having houseguests mean that she actually had to clean her house.  This started a volley of back and forth emails where we asked each other questions like:
  • How old do you think children have to be before they stop barging in on you in the bathroom?  Because I haven’t peed alone in six and a half years.
  • How is it that laundry came to dominate my life?  I used to read books and now I just fold things.
  • Is this thing that happened to my boobs permanent?  Because they used to be awesome and I miss them.
  • Why do husbands never know the sizes of their children’s shoes but know how much the first baseman for the Nationals weighs?
  • Why do normal people claim to be tired all the time?  If I hear one more non-parent say, “I’m so tired” I’m going to karate punch them in the neck.
  • Is it wrong that I drink more coffee and wine each day than I do water?
  • What happens to little boys’ underpants?  They just disappear.  I have spent $17,000 on size 4 Spiderman underpants in the past three months and I have no idea what’s happened to any of them.  Where do they go?
Kate emailed me back and said: “That’s it.  I’m doing something about this.  Click here.”  And underneath was a website, a blog she had started called: Rants from MommyLand, the name of the book we had joked about in the parking lot.  I emailed her back: “Rants! From! MommyLand!  And so it begins…”

The. End.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How Kate Met Lydia - Part 3

Click here for Part 1 and Part 2.

Lydia had always been the person you heard about long before you met her. In glowing terms. To the point of being sort of the Cult of Lydia. Other moms would say, “Oh, Lydia Coupon is in charge of that. Call her. She’s fabulous.” Or her name would be on all the fun kid events at school or at church, and they’d all go off so perfectly and people would rave, “Lydia just does such amazing work doesn’t she?” and by then she was Too Perfect Mommy. Add in the two adorable and well-behaved kids, then the first-rumor-then-confirmed-fact that she carried a third with a broken ankle and no drugs and still did it all, and c’mon -- who could like her after that if you didn’t already know her? It was simple movie physics here. Clearly, she was Glinda the Good Witch of the North, all sparkle-y and wish-grant-y and with the adoration of all those tiny people. Which made me…the smooshed one under the house with the coveted shoes. 
It makes me sad to admit it now, because now I’ll always wonder how much time Lydia and I spent being non-friends because we had the wrong ideas about each other. At the time, she just wasn’t “my kind” of person. Primarily because I’m kind of a bitch all the time and I think, “better to just be a bitch and let them be right about me, than to open up and have them not like me anyway.” Turns out, I just needed someone to tell me to go Suck It. And call me Fancy. And then tell me her life is just as much of a disaster as mine.

There was a moment of silence in our conversation in the parking lot.

“So how are your big kids doing?” asked Lydia, “McGee and Lefty?”

“They’re fine…” I answered, wondering if I would do it again and start spewing secrets I really needed to keep to myself. 

“Except that McGee is ten and she already hates me.  How can someone who’s that young say things that are so pointed and hurtful?  It’s like she knows.  What can I say to my mom to make her want to put her head in a noose?  Like I haven’t had moments where I thought about running away from them?  I mean come on – I’m divorced.  I share custody.  It wouldn’t be that hard and then I would be free from this bullshit.  But I don’t even care.  I. Don’t. Even. Care. Anymore.”

Long silent pause.  Crap.  I should have kept my mouth shut.

“Lydia, you need to understand that I don’t do this.  I don’t cry.  I don’t freak out.  I don’t open up about my real life to strangers or even to my friends.  I am a person who does not do this.  I keep up my front and I am fine. I should go…”

“Oh I know that about you already.  Anyone who meets you for five seconds can tell you’re a composed sort of person.  But it’s also sort of funny that Miss-Cement-Panties-I-Don’t-Even-Care is all crying and falling apart because your tweenage daughter hurt your feelings.  You obviously care.  How is that bad?  I know your older kids and they’re awesome.  Sorry Fancy, you’re a good mom.  Suck on that awhile.”

I may have been snuffling and unable to answer.

Lydia continued.  “You know, it’s not just you.  None of us had the slightest idea what we were getting into.  Anyone who says they haven’t had a moment like we’re having right now is just trying to make you feel bad.”

I had to be sure I understood her.  “So you’re saying you think these thoughts too?  The bad ones?”

“Oh hell yes.  But I’m even worse than you because now I’m wrecking my sister in addition to my own kids.  So I am a waaayyy bigger piece of crap.  They’d be better off with anyone else.”  She sort of choke-cried the last sentence.

“Are you kidding me?  You’re Volunteers-A-Lot-Mommy.  Your daughter is blonde perfection.  Are you telling me that’s all bullshit?”

She was still crying as she said: “Yes.  I just wish someone had told me what this was going to be like.  I can’t handle it.”

I smiled and said: “You should have read ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting To Suck Balls at Parenting’.”

She smiled back.  “I know!  A real book to prepare people for parenting real children wouldn’t even have chapters.  It would have rants.  And they would be called things like: ‘I Don’t Fucking Care Anymore I Just Want to Get Some Sleep’ or ‘You’re Ten.  So Stop Talking About How Cruel The World Is And How I’m A Bitch, You Don’t Know Shit.’ 

I laughed in spite of myself and suggested: “I Don’t Want to Smell or Touch or Wipe Anyone Else’s Ass Ever Again.”

And we started laughing and until we realized we’d been there for a ridiculously long time.  We parted with a small degree of awkwardness.  Should we hug? [Editor's Note: No. -Kate] What’s the right protocol for walking through a nervous breakdown with a stranger?  We just waved and drove off in different directions.

Part 4 concludes the story tomorrow...

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How Kate Met Lydia - Part 2

If you missed Part 1 - it's right here...

I was done. Done in a way that, if I was food, you’d need to throw me out. And if I was a pet, well, it was time. And if I was a mom on the edge, it was time for an injection. A big one. Do they make liquid Xanax?
I kept telling myself, “Just keep walking…smile…be polite…” as I walked out of the preschool. “They don’t need to know you have nowhere to go.  That your life is in free fall. That you’re this close to being Britney Spears minus the paparazzi bearing witness as you shave your head…”
And, then there was Lydia. And she was part oh-yeah-I-sorta-know-you and part life raft.
We’d met before. Sad to say, but she probably met me long before I met her. Because I suck at first meetings. Because I’ve spent my career and therefore my life, ­ meeting people that I will likely never see again ever and so I remember them just long enough for that first meeting to be this great impression and then *poof* they  vanish from my brain. I know it’s horrible, but it’s like song lyrics. Do we really need to remember all the words to Heart’s “What About Love?” Isn’t it enough that we can  hum along when the song happens to come on the radio? Aren’t little refrains enough?

I remembered her from a birthday party and she was pregnant and super nice and all broken-legged healing.  I remembered that I made her family enchiladas, because I’m awesome at Mexican food and who gets that in Virginia? And we chatted and I remembered my children being evil – but what’s new about that?  And then suddenly a year later she’s in the parking lot. And anyone can tell she is ripe for conversation. Like laying on the chaise, tell-me-about-life ripe for conversation. Exactly what I’d been trying to avoid.
And then she suddenly turned into a life raft. And the funny thing is, I didn’t know I needed one.  I just knew I was drowning. 
Lydia: Hey there…
Kate: Hi.
Lydia: How are you?
Kate: Good. How are you?
Lydia: Oh, you know. Fine. [pause] Hey, are you sure you’re OK?
All I wanted to do was to say yes. All lightly and assuredly: “Yeah! I’m great. Fine. Super, in fact.” And let’s face things here: Lydia may have her self-confessed quirks. But on this day and all the days before it, to me, she was Perfect Mommy. She was in charge of all the super important committees at the preschool. And she was the one that showed up with homemade snacks for the whole school just because it was freakin’ Tuesday. And Thumbelina was the angel who was always all ringlets and dresses and “yes ma’am” at school while Lefty was, well, Lefty. And, c’mon, the kid got his nickname from his testicle going rogue, so what does that say when you’re comparing him to the Gerber baby all grown up? She was exactly the kind of person that I didn’t need to talk to. The one who thought her children were perfect all. the. time.
All I could think to myself was “shut up…don’t say anything…smile and wave…smile and wave…” like some Green Beret Penguin on a covert mission. A mission to keep my yap shut.
“All these moms think their kids are just so fabulous, like, all the time. And all I can think about is just how soon I can drop them all off at school and have some freakin’ peace and quiet.”
Oh My Maude.
I had said it out loud.
And then she smiled. And I’ve worked in the news business long enough to know when you just made the day’s headlines. That one statement that will haunt you. The Howard Dean scream. The “Mission Accomplished.” But it wasn’t that kind of smile. It was the smile that made it seem like, if she had a cup of tea and a chaise lounge nearby, she would have invited you to have a sit.
“I couldn’t wait for them to go to school.  And now I don’t want to go home.  I mean, I don’t even think I can turn the car on.  What’s wrong with me?”

I exhaled.  Was she serious?  “I don’t want to go home, either.  Every single thing in that house is a reminder of how much my life sucks and that I am the worst parent in the world.  And you know what, this morning?  I don’t even care.”

My eyes started to water but I blinked a few times and it stopped.  What was I doing?  This woman was practically a stranger and worse, she was part of that coven of super-happy-stay-at-homers that had nothing to do with me or me with them.

I lost the ability to care a couple of months ago.  My teenage sister lived with me until three weeks ago but thank GOD she just left for college and I should feel terrible because all we did was fight before she left and I should miss her and cry about it…  But I don’t.”

I remembered a tall, pretty teenager who looked a young, skinny Lydia with dark hair.  “Oh right.  I saw her one time…  At a birthday party?”

She nodded and said: “Yeah.  That was her.  She moved in when I was pregnant and her mom had just died (we’re half-sisters but whatever what does that even mean?) and she was dropping out of school and her friends were all on drugs and her – I mean, our – dad couldn’t deal so he handed her off to me.  There is not enough wine in the world to handle that…so lucky for the world  that I couldn’t drink.”
My turn. “My daughter can only talk about boobs and she’s just ten. My son thinks the resolution to pretty much everything is to punch someone in the head and the little one is more stubborn than me. And, I suck at being a mom.”
The truth? It felt GREAT. I knew I’d regret it later. And not like Tiger Woods regret, but real regret. Like crap – I let this random woman know my thoughts and now she’s totally gonna blab. Super. Which means we have to quit our preschool and our church.
Her turn: My house is at DefCon 417 and there’s actually not one article of clean clothing in my entire house and the baby hasn’t slept which means I haven’t slept and why in God’s green earth did I want a third baby so badly when I can barely manage the other two?”
I’m not sure who got all teared-up and unable to blink it back first. I’d like to think it wasn’t me.  I know now that Lydia won’t let anyone cry alone so there’s a pretty good chance that I was unwillingly welling up and she just quickly joined in.  Either way, somehow the absurdity of standing in the pre-school parking lot ripping through those super-tiny packages of Kleenex finally made us laugh. Mostly because those little tissues dissolve the instant they touch any kind of liquid. Which completely defies what they were made for right? So there we were, hands full of wadded up clusters of fuzz and little wormy shaped tissue dregs all over our faces, which combined with tears, makeup and mascara made this lovely relief map of DisasterMomistan. Never heard of it? Oh you will…one day.
Kate: I can’t believe you made me cry…
Lydia: [gasps] You totally made me cry.
Kate: You look *awesome* by the way [laughs] so I definitely feel better.
Lydia: Suck it, Fancy! [eyes widen in horror; my face stuck in jaw drop] ohhhhh…
Kate: You called me Fancy?
Lydia: Yeah, well look at you all perfect all the time and I’m like a big mess in yoga pants. And of course there’s something spilled on my boob.  So there’s that.
Kate: [laughs] Oh, am I keeping you from yoga class? I’m sorry.
Lydia: No, I don’t actually go to yoga. I just wear the pants. CRAP! I’m keeping you from work.
Kate: No, I don’t actually go to work anymore. I just wear the shoes.

Part 3 continues tomorrow...

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011

How Kate Met Lydia - Part 1

"This is the true story... of eight strangers... picked to live in a together and have their lives taped... to find out what happens... when people stop being polite... and start getting real...The Real World."

Lydia: "Stupid. Stop googling 'The Real World' for the post."
Kate: "What? It's perfect. We were strangers and then you weren't polite and then we got real."
Lydia: "We're not on tape. We don't work together. And, there's not EIGHT of us."
Kate: "There's two of us. And the kids, which is eight."
Lydia: "And husbands?"
Kate: "Uh...can you please just be bad at math. Gah. I'm writing this part. See? It has a fancy shoe. Those are my parts. Your parts are the ugly clog parts."
Lydia: "I'm gonna hit you with my ugly clog parts."
Kate: "Ewww, that sounded porny."
Lydia: "Shut it, Fancy. And let's get to the book already."

 We actually really do hope you like it...

xoxo K&L


If you believe that first impressions are important then you should know this: my first impression of Kate was that I didn't like her very much.  I might have been inclined to like her more but she was too pretty to be allowed and kind of a bitch on top of that. If I'm being honest, she was sort of a bitch sandwich of blondeness, expensive clothes and an inherent snarkiness that said: "Don't speak, Minivan.  Just keep walking."  I'm not being judgmental. She may not have called me MiniVan, but she may as well have. 
One late fall morning at pre-school I saw her glide past in stilettos and a thousand-dollar trench coat (one that would have made me look like Inspector Gadget) and I made some comment like: "Hi Lefty's mom!  You look great! Setting the bar a little high for the rest of us, huh?"  And I smiled and pointed to my fabulous, dirty black yoga pants-sweatshirt-and-sneakers combination.  She looked at me as if 1) she had never seen me before in her entire life 2) she had just been approached by a homeless person and asked for spare change and 3) was not impressed by the coffee stain on the boob area my sweatshirt.  She said: "Yeah.... Thanks" and kept walking.
Well OK then.  Why don't you have a fancy, bourgeois Starbucks with your bitch sandwich?
If this were Jane Austen novel, Kate would be Mr. Darcy.  And that would make me Lizzy Bennet and I can live with that.  My pride was stung in large part because I was (and am) unaccustomed to being snubbed.  Usually, people like me and respond to my Golden Retriever-like enthusiasm and joie de vivre.  So I decided she was not my kind of person.  Like Lizzy Bennet, I would always be charming and polite but after that I had pretty much no use for her.  Our children, in a class of twelve, had been dropped off and picked up at the same time for weeks.  It was a small school and our children had attended it last year as well.  But she had no idea who I was or why I was attempting to talk to her. 
Even after I got to know her a little bit and had the opportunity to get a sense that she was not, in fact, a stuck-up snotty-pants and was actually really cool, I still couldn't quite shake the feeling that she had hurt my feelings was always thinking: "And you are?"  Kate has this idea that people look at her and think she's vapid.  Nobody thinks that.  Nobody would look at Mr. Darcy and think - hmmmmm.... vapid.  You see her and think this woman is attractive, shrewd and together and (scariest of all) she sees right through the crap.  She is someone to be reckoned with.  And like Mr. Darcy she is not the most accessible person.  When she does take notice of you, you feel flattered because you can tell after about five seconds that she is someone who dislikes bullshit and wasting her time.  So if she decides she likes you and puts you on her radar you know that she is being entirely sincere.  She's like a cat – she doesn't sell out.  But, even when she's trying to be nice, her intensity can be a little overwhelming.
Like the time before we became friends when she accosted my husband, Cap'n Coupon, in the preschool parking lot.  If I'm being technical about it, she accosted him with enchiladas.  I had broken my leg and was on bed rest for two months.  The kind people at the school had created a schedule to provide meals for us.  On the day that it was her turn, she created a tray of melty-cheesy-deliciousness that I still remember.  But apparently she was a little aggressive about getting rid of it so she could get to work.  It went like this:
Kate: [yelling across the parking lot] "You! Sir! Excuse me!  Take my enchiladas!"
Cap'n: [wondering who she was yelling at, ignores he] "Huh?"
Kate: [hurries right over, holds out tray] "Here they are."
Cap'n: "Pardon me?"
Kate: "I have these enchiladas and you have to take them because I'm running late."
Cap'n: [slightly bewildered] "Ok. Thank you?"
Kate: "You're welcome.  The cooking instructions are written on top."
Cap'n: [notes that the instructions are less than ten inches from his eyeballs] "Yes.  I see."
Kate: "Good bye."
Cap'n: "Good bye, ummm... Ma'am."
So my husband's first impression of her was slightly odd (who is this woman throwing a casserole at me?) but positive (mmmm! enchiladas!).  So it seemed strange to me that about eighteen months later, he asked me why I didn't like Kate.  He said it was clear to him that I didn't like her.  I sort of knew what he was talking about.  A few minutes before he saw us chatting outside the church, I had run into her in the bathroom.  She was wearing a very short dress with very high heels.  I had to comment, so I said something like: "You look gorgeous but how the heck do you walk in those things?"  She replied that she was very vain, loved her shoes and it was worth any discomfort they gave her because it made certain ladies in the congregation mad when she wore them.  I got that, because some of those ladies were mean, old heifers.  But I wasn't sure how I felt about her getting all dolled up in order to make other (less attractive) women feel bad.  Maybe it was the fact that I was still wearing maternity pants six months post partum.  Possibly. 
I later found out that it wasn't actually "women" that she was trying to antagonize with her hotness.  It was woman.  One woman, who like Mrs. Bennet, felt she could say any crazy, hateful thing she wanted about Mr. Darcy, in front of Mr. Darcy.  When I found out what that warthog of a busybody had said to Kate, I was ready to square up and kick her in the junk.  But that came later, when I came to realize just how much I had misunderstood her.
So when the Cap'n saw us right after that moment in the bathroom, he was right (he usually is) that I felt a little conflicted about her.  But a couple of things gave me pause.  The first was having seen her in action ''mom-style" at a recent kid's birthday party.  She had been hilarious and cool.  The second was my husband's very apt observation that I was not giving her a chance.  And I am, after all, a human Golden Retriever.  It is not in my nature to be aloof.  So I decided to be friendly, and if she was like: "And you are?" that would just have to be OK.   Then I totally forgot all about it.

A few months later, it was the second week of September.  It had been a tumultuous summer and now things were supposed to be settling down into a routine of serenity and order.  I was back at the preschool.  I had just dropped my son Hawk off in the same classroom where his sister had been two years before, when Kate and I had been not friends every day at drop off.  I was sitting in my seven-seater Ford Tampon, new baby in her car seat screaming, contemplating just how much more it would take before I snapped. 

The upside of the parking lot was the potential for adult conversation.  The downside was the actual conversation.  "Hiii-yeee!  How are you?  How was your summer? How does (insert child's name here) like school? Isn't it awful to have to get up so early?  I can't keep up with all our activities!  But at least with the kids back in school I finally have some time to myself!" 
I just wanted to talk to someone.  And say something good and real, like "It's 9:17 am and I am already done.  Are you done?  Because you look done."  Instead I got vile, trite, disingenuous bullshit.  The exact same conversation we had last year.  That my grandmother had in 1953.  Except my grandmother could smoke two packs a day and start drinking at noon.  While pregnant.  A few more years of this and I was going to need medication.  Or a time machine. 
And I was in no hurry to get home.  The freedom provided by the kids being in school brought with it the expectation that I would actually clean the house.  Or do  something productive.  I couldn't face it.  Scrubbing toilets after three hours of sleep?  Research new investment strategies for my meager retirement savings?  No, no and no.  What the hell was wrong with me?  I wanted a third baby and now I had one.  I wanted to quit my job and stay home and I did just that.  I wanted to focus on my kids and getting my house in order, and I just couldn't find the energy.  How long was I just going to sit there?  Like a lump in a van in dirty, black yoga pants?
Then Kate walked by looking like she was a few minutes away from committing vehicular homicide or hitting someone with a bat.  She looked DONE.  I knew that look well because it was exactly what I saw when I looked in the mirror every day.  Lately, what I saw looked alot like my mother. 

So I rolled down the window and asked her if she was OK.  And she really, really wasn't.

Part 2 continues tomorrow... 
(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

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