Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Words With Friends Strikes Back

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about how much I hate Words with Friends. In case you don't know, it's an on-line Scrabble game that is highly addictive.

Well, guess what? HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM. Because since I wrote that, Words with Friends has become sentient. Like HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey. It knows. It just knows.

The only good news is that now that now that Words with Friends is actively trying to communicate with me, it only confirms my assertion that it's a total douchebag.

Would you like some examples? Good. Because I have three.

Example 1:

I changed the names here to protect the innocent, but let me just tell you something, Words with Friends: I AM NOT A SEX HO. You are. You stupid incorporeal word game.

Example #2:
I didn't have to change names here, because this is just an obvious example of cyber-bullying perpetrated by Words with Friends. Neither Kristin M. nor myself are LOINHATS, whatever that even means. You need to get your filthy mind out of the gutter.

Example #3:

OK, this is even from the same game as the example above. I opened up the game and this is what I was greeted with. Well played, Words with Friends. Sending me such an unambiguous and obnoxious message.

I see what's going on here. And you will not defeat me. Because I have a platform from which to tell the world what you really are: EVIL.

I win. Lydia out.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

One Woman's Guide to Answering Questions You Didn't Actually Hear

Today's post comes from our beloved and brilliant Kate in Michigan. It's all about what happens when you answer a question without really hearing it. I jumped on it for three reasons:
  1. I sometimes tune out my husband and kids, to my peril.
  2. The post is hilarious
  3. Kate is a ninja and she might roundhouse my taco if I make her mad.
Here's some info about her:
Kate Prouty (known as Kate in Michigan here, and sometimes NinjaK8) is a flutist, teacher, mom, wife, and longs to Be A Writer.  But that smacks of effort and persistence.So she cobbles together a few paragraphs every now and them and lobs them into the vastness of the Internet to see if anybody notices. You can read her blog here.
Mom is sitting on the couch, cup of coffee nearby.  Earbuds in, listening to Cee Lo Greene’s “F*ck You” for the 11th time in lieu of psychotherapy or inappropriate amounts of wine.

8 year old son approaches, Nintendo DS in hand.  Mom looks up and sees child’s mouth moving. Hears something like: “MAMErLiKJE…SadiKjwejro..LEVEL-UP..brrrrwerrrr..NINJAsdffff…OK?”

Then the child looks at her expectantly.

BAD ANSWER:  “Um.  Sure, honey!”
GOOD ANSWER:  “Well, hard to say.  Let’s think on that!”

What he might have asked: “Mama!  I just got Portric to get super jumps and I LEVELED UP!  But really, I hope next time I remember to use my super NINJA shield. OK?”

OR, what he PROBABLY said: “MAMA! The dog just pooed on the floor in my room! And then I LEVELED-UP on Club Penguin!  And so I’m going to let the hamster out so it can pretend to be a poo-eating Ninjahamster. OK?”

So you can see how “Bad answer” could be a problem.

Mom is sitting on couch, large glass of merlot on the coffee table, dog sleeping on her feet, Facebook Words With Friends on her laptop. 10 year old daughter has been hovering nearby, clicking away on her own Netbook.

As Mama gleefully plays “RHYTHMICALLY” for 108 points against MikeIsAFox342, her daughter’s voice filters into her brain.

“…sleep…blanket..sldooo…Barbie!…..ZIPLOCK! BUT THEN..soon…peed..looskb..AND NOW IT’S BLUE!”  Daughter looks quizzically at Mom.  “Well?”

BAD ANSWER:  “Wow!  Cool!”
GOOD ANSWER:  “Whoa. Iiiiinteresting.  Explain.”

What daughter might have said: "And then, in my dream, I was asleep, and the blanket turned into a little mini-blanket, and then I was a BARBIE!  And there was a plastic bag under the Barbie bed, like a Ziplock!  And then there was a real toilet in the Barbie house where the dolls peed. And when I looked at the Barbie’s hair? NOW IT’S BLUE!”

Or possibly could have said: “I have such trouble going to sleep!  My blanket is so weird -- the one we borrowed from Aunt Barbie? And  I found a Ziplock of something green and … like leaves? stuck into the stuffing in the quilt. So I let the dog have it. And then I found out that the dog had PEED on my box of paints. And that white rug? NOW IT’S BLUE!”


Wife is simultaneously folding laundry and fantasizing about being Anthony Bourdain’s secret lover.  She is composing a scene in her head which involves edible flowers, honey wine, and a late-night, surprise visit. Gradually she realizes that her husband wasn’t talking to the TV.

“….and then?  Bllopppty TENURE vrrrrw rampoot DRINK pwwww DEAN chipstos…mmbmmlbl.  SEVEN…mnn. WHAT DO YOU THINK? OK?”

INCREDIBLY DANGEROUS ANSWER:  “Great!  You’re so right!  Yep!”
BEST ANSWER:  “Whip it!  WHIP IT GOOD! Dooo doodoodoo. I SAY WHIP IT!  -- Wait.  What were you saying honey?”

What he MIGHT have been saying:  “And then, after that stupid Promotion and Tenure meeting, I came home to grab a drink of soda and came upon Paula Deane making potato chips.  Now I want to go grab a bag of Ruffles from the 7-11. WHAT DO YOU THINK? Ok?”

What he PROBABLY was saying:  “God, I hope I get tenure this year.  I’m thinking we should host a faculty party -- maybe drinks, I think, and invite the Dean!  Maybe with some chips, your homemade salsa, and a cheese tray too.  How’s Friday at 7?  What do you think? OK?”

Oh, God.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Monday, February 27, 2012

Love and Marriage Tips on TV

Here I am, discussing sexytime like I'm some sort of expert. Sigh...
A couple of weeks ago, we gathered all your tips and advice and created a ginormous post called: "The Mommyland Guide to a Marriage that Doesn't Suck Gonads". And honestly, I was really proud of it. I learned so much from all the things you guys had to say.

But it was long, REALLY long. Because there was so much good stuff that I didn't want to leave any of it out. But I also think being so long makes it hard for people to read.

So I tried to make it shorter and more sound-bytey so that I could get your good advice out to a wider audience. I am very interested in your feedback on how it turned out. Pretty please, check it out and tell me what you think.

You can read it here.

Meanwhile, our friends at Let's Talk Live asked me to come on and discuss what we learned from this experiment. Other than feeling sort of nervous and twitchy, I was less nauseous than usual and I think that shows. See for yourself:

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Five Antique Postcards that Make Me Say 'Whuck?!'

Last weekend in celebration of Mr. Louise’s birthday I executed an elaborate plan to drop the kids with my in-laws and whisk him away to a tiny, picturesque New England town for a grown-up weekend of fun. It. Was. AWESOME. The unexpected highlight (get your mind out of the gutter) was a stop at the local antique store. We rummaged through dust and junk and found some extraordinary discarded treasures…a decrepit cuckoo clock, a beautiful, chipped china set, and dusty a box of antique postcards from all over the world. I always feel a bit guilty looking at old postcards, like I’m riffling through someone’s private mail. But oh Dear Maude, it was worth my uneasiness because I found five postcards from as far back as the turn of the century that illustrate the lowest lows of parenting.

“I Can’t Keep it Quiet”
No schmidt, Sherlock. That same expression of sheer terror/confusion was plastered on my face for the first three months of my daughter’s life. Newsflash: they only get louder.

“I’m Going to Change My Will in the Morning.”

This one is amazing because it truly captures the irrational 3am negotiations a parent makes with a crying infant. I maaaaybe once promised my daughter a pony and a new car when she’s 16 if she’d just go to SLEEP. Meh. The dad in this postcard took it one step further and went for a straight-up threat, though. I sure hope that kid wasn’t in line for a trust fund.

“Good morning! I passed a restless night till I caught up to a happy thought of you.”

OK, this one is actually pretty sweet. Except that if my kids were having a restless night they wouldn’t quietly toss and turn until they had a happy thought of me…they would release an ear-piercing howl quickly followed by an hour charade of complaining that the room is too dark/light, the blankets are “itchy”, there is not enough water in the bedside cup, there’s a stuffed animal missing from the bed, etc. Conversely, if I was having a restless night I might think of my kids, but it’s more likely I’d probably settle down at the fantasy of all my laundry being folded. By John Hamm.

“I’m Putting Something in the Kitty.”
WHUCK?!?! Um, no. Just NO. I hope I never, EVER hear one of my kids say this under any circumstances. Gah!

“One little darling, all my very own, / Noisy of course it is, but bone of my bone!”
This one, mailed in 1908, freaks me out the most. I suppose it was intended to be a PSA about how you should be kind to your baby even when it’s loud, but to me it just looks like this guy is going to eat his own baby. It was addressed to a Mr. W. Henchey in Northampton, MA with no message written on the back. Poor Mr. Henchey. I’m a little worried if you’re taking parenting advice from this dude...

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Kid Dictionary Rocks

Kate and I are big believers in making up words when you can't find existing actual words that quite express what you mean. In fact we have a whole big list of sort of pretend words that we use all the time called the Mommyland Desk Reference.

That's how we met Eric Ruhalter, the dude behind The Kid Dictionary.  He read our made-up words and got in touch with us a couple of years ago to share all of his. And we fell in love with his stuff.  

Wait. That sounded totally different in my brain.

Anyway. His made-up words are hilarious. In fact, they are so awesome and clever that they make us wet ourselves. And guess what? HE NOW HAS A BOOK COMING OUT! We're so happy for him and want to spread the word about his upcoming opus.
For the 25 funniest words about kids that you really, really need to know, check THIS OUT.

Eric and Lydia did that post together for Babble and it's crackerjacktastic.

Oh! And here's one of Eric's videos - to give you a taste of what we're talking about.

It's really, really gratifying when someone in the blogging world gets a book deal - it's even cooler when it's someone like Eric, who is really talented and really nice. We want to congratulate him, his hawt wife and their three kids!

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Are You Pinterested in Me? Good. Let's Make Out.

Are any of you guys into Pinterest? Because lately, I have been really enjoying wasting time on it. Like maybe a little too much. My husband, the spectacular Cap'n Coupon, insists that it's stupid and makes no sense and no one knows what it is and I'm the only one in the whole world who knows about it and that it's actually called "Pictureka".

Dude said the same thing about Angry Birds and Words with Friends. He knows nothing. He joined Facebook in 2011. He thought the adults on there were either sexual predators or trying to hook up with people they went to high school with and I was like: "Well, I'm Facebook friends with your mom, so..."

Pictureka - CRAP. I mean Pinterest, is a social networking site where you can share stuff, but its all based on photos. You create categories - called boards. You pin pictures onto the boards. You follow people, and see what they pin. They follow you back (like Twitter or Facebook) and you look at everyone's pins and basically see stuff that's pretty or yummy or cool. It's really fun but a total time suck.

If you would like to see what we've pinned, you can find us here:

We have several different boards. Here is what they're called and a sample of what you can find there:

Board #1 is called: ::Snicker::

Board #2 is called: So! Cute! I! Die!
This picture prompted a conversation between me and the Cap'n.
Cap'n: It's very cute, honey. WAIT. Dear GOD. What is that small creature doing to that flower?!
Lydia: I don't know what you mean. Oh... I don't... Golly.
Cap'n: I'll tell you what's going on right there. He's deflowering it.

Board #3 is called: Things Kate Will Hate

The sight of these shoes probably made her throw up in her mouth. I love that.

Board #4 is called: I want to go and to live there in that.
It's a motherf*cking tree house.
Board #5 is called: Oooohhh Pretty!

It is orange and beautiful and I love orange things.

Board #6 is called: Oh Even Yesser

I want this tattooed on the inside of my eyelids.

Board #7 is called: I Would Put That in My Mouth

Skittle vodka. Holy crap.

Board #8 is called: Wait. Whuck?

Please tell me that me and George Takei and Kate from Michigan are not the only ones who think this is awesome.
Board #9 is called: LOVE

We really can, hookers.Thank you, Glennon.
Also! This sign was made by a fellow hooker at Barn Owl Primitives!
Board #10 is called: Squirrels
(You have to imagine me saying "Squirrels" the way Jerry Seinfeld said "Newman!" - because of the hate in my heart.)

This could happen.
Hope to see you guys over there!
xo, Lydia

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Friday, February 17, 2012

The MommyLand Guide for a Marriage That Doesn’t Suck

The MommyLand Guide for a
Marriage That Doesn’t Suck*
*Unless of course that’s what you’re into.
Last week, I asked you all for advice on how to have a happy marriage (or relationship). In the past, when I’ve asked you for tips, your feedback has been amazing – and extensive. This time was no different. So I decided to summarize your comments into a fancy, schmancy report of what we collectively think about this topic here in Mommyland. Think of me as your consultant. You know what a consultant is, right? Someone who asks for your watch and then tells you what time it is.
That’s exactly what I did, hookers.

Let’s begin, shall we?

You fine ladies left me 375 comments on the post and 110 comments on Facebook. That’s 485 comments total. Thank you. I read them through a couple of times. Honestly? Some of them are PURE GOLD. I was sincerely moved by the things you shared. Some of it made me squink up and squeak out a couple of tears and some of it made me bray out loud like a coffee spewing donkey.

The first time reading through them, I started thinking about categories. The second time, I coded your responses into those categories. Then I had Guru Louise take a pass at it, to make sure that I wasn’t crazy and that we were seeing pretty much the same picture. We’re obviously professional as hell up in here.
There’s a couple of things I need to be clear on from the beginning, that the comments don’t really reflect. They’re intangibles without which, none of this really works. Let’s call them our assumptions.
Assumption #1: In my notes, I called it trust. In Guru Louise’s analysis, she called it loyalty. These two things -trust and loyalty- have to be there and for both people. But they don’t have to be perfect. It can be in any stage from “We are doing awesome right now! Let’s go make out!” to “We are rebuilding after a year of wanting to punch each other in the face all the damn time.” Both are totally valid.
Assumption #2: Both partners have to be trying. As one of you described it, if you’re making the effort and your husband isn't reciprocating, you wind up bitter and resentful. You wind up putting someone first who's putting you second.
Assumption #3: This is advice given primarily by women, for women. But almost all of it could apply to men as well.
Assumption #4: There isn’t one solution that’s going to work for everyone. If there were, and I had just figured it out – I would be reading this post from The Today Show while Dr. Phil, forlorn and defeated, was forced to sell his mustache.

The Results

Here are the main things you identified in order to have a happy marriage.

Figure 1: Very Important Scientific Chart Explaining Key Elements of Marital Happiness

Here’s how we defined these ten topics:
Sexytime is Very, Very Good for You: The importance of having frequent (ahem) relations was mentioned more often than anything else. It was acknowledged a lot that women tend to be less into it than men. But it was also clear that making nookie a priority is super important if both partners are going to be happy. Another theme through the comments: Don’t be stingy with the BJ’s.
Don’t Talk Schmidt and Call it Venting: This includes being nasty to your hubby in public or in front of other people, excessive complaining and nagging, venting about your spouse too much or in a way that will end up biting you both in the ass and, of course, the very important skill that so few of us have mastered: knowing when to zip it.

You Betta Work Because It Ain’t Easy: This includes all the things you should be actively doing to try and make it work. Things that range from making a point of saying ‘I love you’ every day to seeking therapy, if needed. Sometimes doing the work means working on the marriage and sometimes it means working on yourself.

Fight Fair and Don’t be Assholic: Calling each other names, being intentionally nasty or bringing up stuff from the past that you haven’t been able to let go of is not exactly helpful. No matter how mad you are or how much they deserve it, completely losing your schmidt or doing something to degrade or humiliate your partner is never OK.

Communication? Even Yesser: Touch base every, single day – even if it’s just for a couple of minutes. Listen to each other. When in doubt, say something. If you can’t say it – text it. Growing apart happens so easily, almost effortlessly. Staying in touch with each other takes effort and sometimes, strategy.

Men Are Not Mind Readers: Have you ever said some variation of: “Well if you don’t know then I shouldn’t have to tell you” or gotten angry because your husband didn’t do something that obviously needed to get done? The point is you must be annoyingly straightforward about what you would like. Live by this rule: If you do not ask, you will not get.

Pick Your Battles, B*tches: We’ve all heard this before and we all know how true it is. Also included in this category? Adjusting expectations. This doesn’t mean that you live with unhappiness or crappy behavior, but rather that unreasonable expectations get replaced with those that have some basis in reality – minimizing disappointment and making it easier for everyone (including you) to live up to them.

Must Have Date Night: You have to take time to be together and hang out. It doesn’t have to be dinner and a babysitter. It can be a game of cards after the kids go to bed. It just has to be a priority.

Take Time for Yourself. Take It and RUN: Time with girlfriends or at Zumba or just being by yourself for a little while – INVALUABLE. Ask for it. Demand it. Make sure you get it. And make sure he gets it, too. Because he needs it just as much as you do.

Use Your Damn Manners: We kill ourselves making sure our kids say please and thank you . That they understand that being rude means that they’re essentially ungrateful and lack respect for other people. Bottom line? Everyone is deserving of courtesy and respect. And when it’s the hardest to give, it’s usually when it’s the most necessary.

Before we move onto everything else
I need to clarify something. While it looks like sex is the most important thing up there on that fancy bar chart, it’s actually not. Everything other than sex is either really about communication or actively doing stuff to make the marriage a priority (go on a date, give your undivided attention, take time for yourself to recharge your batteries, etc.). Really, how it breaks down is more like this:

Figure 2: Aggregated Elements of Marital Happiness Whereby Sexy Time is Slightly Less Important
The picture shifts, no? We’re going to discuss these things a little more, sharing your words of wisdom. Sex is obviously still really important, so let’s start there.

Important Point #1: Sex =Good. No Sex=Bad.

There were a couple of themes within this category, and they were not romantic at all. It sort of follows this train of thought:
  • You want to have sexy time never and your partner wants to have it always.
  • Sweet, sweet lovin’ is not a big priority for you because you’re freaking exhausted by 9pm every night, but you do it anyway because it makes him happy.
  • You know you should be doing it more and that you should want to do it more.
There were a lot of comments about how marriages are happier and stronger when this particular need is being met. Moreover, there were comments about how this one thing is a really important factor in how most men measure their marital happiness.
“Men place an enormous value on sex. To them, it is how they express their love for you, and also how they FEEL loved in return. So if you don't really feel like it, remind yourself that, to him, it is like saying you don't feel like loving him.”
It appears that being out of sync in this department is pretty common. I would add that this is especially true during the child-bearing years. Your body and hormones feel completely different and whackadoodle, your boobs are for the baby, and switching gears from mommy to sexy sexpot is about as easy as having an adult conversation with a toddler. Factor in the fact that some kids seem to have a radar that insures they will never have younger siblings, and just the logistics of getting started seem overwhelming.
“Sometimes sex is like picking up the playroom. You just have to force the first 10 minutes, then you are either happy with your progress or happy that it's done. And yes, you have to do it again later.”
But the truth is, it’s important for all of us – not just the dudes. Being out of sync is OK as long as there’s an effort there to get back on the same page. That may take compromise for both of you. It may mean that you’re having relations twice as much as you want, but half as much as he wants. But working at it is a sign that you haven’t given up. By the way, “out of sync” can also mean that you’re the one initiating and he’s the one saying no. That happens, too.
“If you aren't in the mood ALL THE TIME, examine what the source of that feeling is. It could be a medical problem, or it could be your intuition telling you that there is something seriously wrong.”
And honestly, your partner probably doesn’t care anywhere near as much as you do what your ass looks like after kids – he’s probably just happy he gets to touch it. Here are some additional nuggets of wisdom about sex from the comments for you to think about:
“I introduced my husband to choreplay! Nothing makes me hotter than seeing him vacuum or fold laundry, and it drives me absolutely wild when he empties the dishwasher. And we laugh about it and joke about it and then have really good sex. Yay!”
“I was told once that a full belly and empty balls = happy marriage.”

Important Point #2: Communication Means Stop Looking at Your Phone

Communication means a lot of things. Of course it refers to talking to each other. But it’s also about taking the time every day to connect with one other. It also included a whole lot of comments that all really boiled down to knowing when to keep your mouth shut. Like such classics as “Don’t talk a bunch of schmidt about your spouse in public” and “If you vent to one person over and over again about what a douchebag your partner is, they will grow to hate him and wonder what the hell you’re doing”.
“Don't talk down to your spouse (or about your spouse) to your friends and family. Funny stories, "he's crazy but I love him", eye-rollers are all well and good, but when you start actually saying things about your spouse that would wound him/her if they were overheard, that's the beginning of the end. You will internalize those words, learn to believe them, and soon you have disgust or contempt for your partner and that's The End.”
And of course, there’s just knowing when not to say something, especially when you’re arguing. That’s hard and it can be counter-intuitive for people like me, who are hard-wired to talk about things until they’re either dead or they want to be. I get so worked up that I just want to my husband to stop saying words so I can say the next thing that I want to say. Which means of course, that I’m not listening. Learning how to disagree with each other and how to fight constructively is really important:
“Most relationship misery comes from un-communicated assumptions and expectations. This only works if both of you do it. If your partner is not so into talking about things, you may need to START by talking about why you need to talk about things. AND you have to actually listen to each other, rather than just waiting til that annoying sound stops to say the next thing in your brain (this can be REALLY hard as you can lose track of what you wanted to say and end up on a tangent). For big discussions a list of points you want to bring up is helpful. Totally not kidding.”
“It's okay to have things about the other that really piss you off. Learning to ignore these things is what defines a long marriage. Trying to change these things is what defines a fight.”
The phrase “don’t keep score” came up several times. We all do it. And we all know that bringing baggage up can turn a petty argument into a big, seething pile of crap. If you need to talk about that particular thing that bothers you so much, go ahead and do it. LATER. Unless it is directly related to the conflict or problem at hand – it needs to stay out of the equation.
“It's okay to go to bed angry, especially if you know from experience that you will wake up thinking it wasn't such a big deal. Sometimes small problems are best put to bed as small problems, rather than unpacking 6 months' worth of dirty laundry and throwing it at each other til 3 am.”
A really important point that came up a lot was that men are not mind readers. You need to tell your husband what’s going on before you can expect him to do anything about it. That applies to little things (Can you please clean up the dinner dishes while I put the kids to bed?) and big things (I am really, really unhappy and I need you to help me before I lose my mind). In a nutshell, tell him about whatever it is and make it his problem, too. Until that happens, it’s not his problem. It’s your problem.
“Don't play games. EVER. If you want or need something, tell him. If you are angry about something, tell him. Don't make him guess. He will either be completely bewildered (and likely get angry with you), or he will ignore you, figuring if it had something to do with him you would say so. Be straight with each other, and you will probably solve most of your problems together quickly and easily.”
"You CANNOT hold your spouse/partner responsible for things you don't verbally ASK them for. No body language, no "you should have just known" or mind reading... if I don't ask for whatever it is I need/want, and I mean literally like, "Honey, will you mop the floors while I'm gone?" or "Honey, can we have sex tonight?" neither of us can get mad about not getting what we want. Made all the difference in the world in our relationship."

Important Point #2: Do the Work. Oh Goody! Another Job.

One thing that was mentioned several times in the comments gave me sort of an epiphany. There have been times over the past 15 years when I felt like I was trying so hard. Like I was doing everything and it was beyond overwhelming and frustrating. And I would look up at Cap’n Coupon, feeling resentful and put upon. And I would see that he felt the exact same way.
“My father told me the key to a long and healthy relationship was to worry about the other person and put them first. The caveat was that they have to do the same for you.”
The truth is that marriage is work. And it’s not always 50/50. People commented that it should be 60/60. Or even 100/100. That you always have to do more than your share. It’s kind of the same as parenting. To try and be the parent my kids deserve, it’s a constant struggle to be a better person than I’m inclined to be. In a relationship, if you’re both doing the work, as long as it evens out over time – making that extra effort is what’s required.
“Our marriage works because we mutually desire to make life easier for the other. That’s what it’s about.“
“What my grandfather told my mother and my mother told me: In your marriage, don't expect to go halfway and meet in the middle. Only when you both feel like you've gone the whole way will you meet in the middle.”
There was also a lot consensus about taking action. Making time for yourself and giving that same time to your spouse. Identifying problems and finding a way to make them better. Again, there was an emphasis on doing the work required to make each other (and make yourself) happy.
“If I count on him to be my bestie, my parent, my gossiper, my housekeeper, coworker and my drinking buddy, I'll have to suppress the need to throw things. Girlfriends save my life.”
“My husband is not considerate by nature. As in, at all. Respectful is hard enough for him to manage. So he has programmed things into his iPhone at key times certain reminders. Examples: "Ask how her day was" "Ask if there's anything around the house that needs doing after kids go to bed" (before he hunkers down with his computer for the evening). Not everyone is thoughtful by nature, but everyone can find a way around it. “
It’s a fact of life that every relationship has difficult times. Some are very difficult indeed. But the key to staying married sometimes is not getting divorced. The earlier discussion about realistic expectations is directly applicable here. No marriage is perfect. No relationship will be happy all the time. You will fight, bad things will happen and you must choose how to get through them.
“When things go to hell -- and they will go to hell -- turn TO each other, not ON each other.”
Sometimes it’s healthier for everyone when a marriage ends. If a relationship is truly destructive or dangerous, sticking it out in the hopes it will get better is not the best solution. But for everyone else, consider that if you are both in it for the long haul and willing to do the work, there is a chance that things can be good again. If you give up, there is no chance of that.
"My grandmother told me: "Gramps and I have been married for over 50 years. During those 50 years, there were at least 5 years of time in which I hated his guts. I couldn't stand the sight of him. All I could think about was that I would be better off without him, or with someone else. After a few months (or in one time, years), we would talk it out, and things would get better. Now, looking back, we were happy for probably 90% of our marriage. Not bad odds. And those 5 years don’t seem so bad in comparison to our life together. So be prepared. There will be times in which you hate your husband. Just try to hang on until it gets better."


I really learned a lot from this. As I expected, the collective wisdom here in Mommyland staggering. And I think the biggest takeaway is that a happy marriage is one where both partners never stop trying to make things better.
So here is your mission, if you choose to accept it. The advice that you gave is less a call to action than a call to practice common sense and consideration. Go back and look at that first chart. See if anything strikes a chord with you. If it does, think about how you and your husband can work on those things. And let me know how it goes. I genuinely want to know what you think of this report and if any of it is useful to you.
Good luck, ladies. You all deserve to be happy.
xo, Lydia

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Ask the Yenta: Convection Confection Confusion

It's the Yenta! She's back and answering our food related questions. Leave any questions for her here and she may answer yours next time. Oh and I pulled this picture off her website because I thought you needed to see this. 

Why? Because that's your Yenta right there being embraced by Tyson Beckford. Congratulations, hookers. There's now one degree of separation between  you and Tyson Beckford. 

Mazel Tav, bitches. That's the way to start a day!

And now, cooking advice from your very own Yenta, Laura Lyons:
1. Oh how I love the post from Stephi Anderson: 
I am so tired of reading healthy organic-y food blogs by beautiful skinny moms who also sew and run marathons. The recipes are great--I would cook like that all the time and eat like that all the time and look like that all the time...maybe. The trouble is that about 4% of the cooking I do is for me. The rest is for three not-even-very picky kids and a meat-and-potatoes (and Whataburger) husband. I want to know what YOUR hubby and kids eat that are Yenta-approved, and if they won't eat it I don't even wanna know because it's just one more thing I'll want to waste my me-time on. Oh yeah, and we have a relatively small grocery budget, too. No Whole Foods shopping trips.”

Oh, yes...  we all know one of the beautiful skinny moms, the one who doesn’t break a sweat during a spin class while in full make-up and jewelry.   She is no friend of mine. I love the expression “yenta-approved” and I’m thinking I may need to put it on a t-shirt or apron…

Now, I should tell you up front that I do have a bit of an unfair advantage in the husband department, being that he is also a chef.   We don’t have any children yet – but we’re “working” on it.  Was that an overshare?  Eh, who cares.  This is RFML… you can handle it.

Don’t fret Stephi! First off, let’s not try to turn the family inside out and upside down overnight.  You can start incorporating healthier options into your meals little by little without spending any more money or time than you already are.  One of the biggest mistakes we make is telling ourselves and our families that we are “substituting” this for that…   turkey for beef in chili, whole grain pasta for white, etc…

Turkey & chicken don’t want to compete with beef, they are totally different animals, have different tastes, textures, etc.  Turkey & chicken proudly stand on their own and make no apology to beef!  So why are we behaving like “we’re so sorry family, but we’re going to get healthy, so I am using turkey/chicken instead of beef.”  Instead, how about “hey family, I found this great recipe for a Chicken Chili Verde with fresh corn and lime and I can’t wait to make it for all of us!”

So the first step is to behave in a way that gets everyone on board with some new dishes.  Leave the words healthy, change and substitution out of it.

Last night Todd (the husband) and I made Asian Chicken Burgers.  Ground chicken has amazing flavor and with the addition of 1 egg, splash of soy sauce, fresh minced ginger, fresh minced garlic, minced scallion, dash of Sriracha, dash of lime juice…  Mix all together, form into patties and pan fry in a non-stick pan.  To garnish the burgers, put some sliced cucumbers, shredded carrots, shredded red cabbage and sliced red onion in a bowl with a dash of red vinegar, minced cilantro, garlic and ginger, spoonful of honey, salt and pepper… Adds great crunch to the burgers!  Serve on regular burger buns! Super healthy and wouldn’t be half as tasty if made with beef burgers, so they won’t be thinking they are missing anything!

 Sriracha (Lydia's daughter used to call it "Cock Sauce")
And listen… if you are the one doing the cooking, YOU ARE IN CHARGE.  Don’t get hung up on following recipes either… use them as inspiration and as a guide.  If you are grocery shopping on a budget, look for the great deals on fresh product and then think about the meals you can make with it.  Don’t shop accordingly to recipes – it will ALWAYS end up costing you more.  Depending on where you live, check out local farmers markets.  The produce is always going to cost less because it hasn’t been shipped from some other part of the country. 

Keep me posted Stephi and let me know how it goes with the fam.  I’m here for you.

2.  Sarah Davis Wilkinson wrote:  
What's the best way to store herbs? Mine go bad fast in the fridge?
 I heart this question! There are a few things you can do…
  • Wash the herbs thoroughly and then wrap in a damp paper towel.  Re-dampen the paper towel every few days.
  • This is a REALLY cool trick!  When the herbs are starting to get to a place where you know they will only last another day or so, take the leaves only and put them in a food processor or blender with kosher salt.  
  • After the mixture is blended, pop into a freezer-safe bag and store in the freezer for a year! 
Next time you want to season chicken, pork, beef, fish, pasta, breadcrumbs, etc… add a spoonful of your herbed salt!  You can mix your herbs together or keep each flavor separate – your choice!

3. Nicole asked:  
Any great recipes for things that reheat well? My hubby works a weird shift and therefore his dinners are always leftovers… Help!
Prepare dishes that are better when they have time to let the flavors develop like Chili, Soup and Stew. Anything you make will re-heat well, if you give it a little love.  If you roast a chicken and want to re-heat it without drying it out, have a little of the au-jus or gravy with it on the plate or in the Tupperware so when he pops it in the microwave or oven/pan that it will cook with the juices.  (If you don’t have stock or gravy, a little bit of water is better than nothing…) 

Pasta is almost always better the next day or re-heated, so have a little cheese grated in a side container that he can sprinkle on top.  Add a bit more sauce to the pasta and he’ll love you more than he already does.  What about meatloaf? Who doesn’t love meatloaf? Any dish that is better when it has time to let the flavors develop will be perfect for re-heating.

4. Lydia from RFML writes: 
My house has a convection oven. It's supposed to be good. Why? What does it even do? When would I need to use it? Is it only there to confuse me? 
 The short answer is that I use the convection setting to bake and the conventional setting to roast.  The convection setting activates a fan which circulates air/heat which results in non-direct heat cooking and the conventional setting (no fan) results in direct heat cooking.  When the convection setting is activated the temperature of the oven will be lower than that with a conventional setting.

The bottom line is that I only use the convection setting for baking.  Items will cook more evenly, because for the most part your oven will not have “hot spots” with convection. I use the conventional setting if I am trying to roast something at a semi-high to high temperature.  Some would argue that you can cook everything with the convection setting, but that is really a matter of preference.

Also check out this week’s post on The Oy of Cooking:  Quinoa saves lives. What did you do today?

Let’s Dish!
Laura P. Lyons

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Mommyland Guide to A Happy Marriage TEASER

Last week, I asked for your advice on how to have a happy marriage. It was awesome! Between Facebook and comments on the blog post, we got almost 500 responses. Then I started the process of trying to summarize all your good ideas.

I started that process a few days ago and I am still noodling on how to do it justice. It's been kind of beating my ass like a rented mule, to be honest with you. But I'm almost there. It could be pretty cool if my stupidity doesn't mess it up. Thank goodness I have Kate and Guru Louise to help me.

I'll have the final report for you by the end of the week. But in the mean time, here's what I can show you so far. It's just a chart of what you guys thought were the most important things to know about having a happy relationship.

As expected, you people are all obviously geniuses. I'm pretty sure we could win a Nobel Prize or something for this.

Chart #1: Top Ten Items Mommyland Identified in Order to Have A Kick Ass Marriage or Partnership or Long Term Relationship or Whatever

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Monday, February 13, 2012

10 Things about Guru Louise

You guys already know Guru Louise. But we never really properly introduced her to you. She's pretty awesome. She's written a whole bunch of guest posts (she has the little red-headed boy) and helped us with Hookers and been our very good friend. Kate is very busy with work and kids these days and not able to write as much, so we asked Louise to come on board as our Mommy in Residence. She's already part of the MommyLand family, now we're just making it official.


Since I’m going to be Mommy in Residence here in Mommyland I thought you might like to know a few things about me and what brought me to Mommyland.
  1. I have two amazing, adorable, hilarious, loud, whiney children. The older one, J, is a 3 year-old girl and the younger one, P, is a 1 year-old boy. They are 22 months apart.
  2. My husband and I have been together for ten years and married for the last five.
  3. I’m a young-ish mom, meaning I had both my babies in my 20s. Kate regularly teases me about this. For example, when I mentioned I was reading a new book she asked if it was written by Beverly Cleary or Judy Blume. (Snitch.)
  4. I have a graduate degree in Child Development. This means I know a lot of theory about little kids and how to communicate with them in a healthy, productive way. This information is surprisingly hard to access when you find your children have ripped open ten packets of instant oatmeal and dumped them all over the kitchen floor while you were peeing.
  5. I don’t live near Kate and Lydia. In fact, I live in a completely different region of the U.S.
  6. I didn’t know Kate and Lydia before they started writing this blog. I’m their creepy internet stalker friend! I started reading the blog after my son was born and I felt like I was losing my damn mind from sleep deprivation. Someone sent me the post Lydia wrote about The Blur and it was amazeballs. Then I went back and read the entire blog from start to finish. I was elated to find women who were writing about motherhood in a way that didn’t make me feel bad about myself, like the other stuff on the interweb. I wrote them a few fan emails and pitched them a post idea and we became friends in Mommyland and real life.
  7. I’ve had the distinct privilege of hanging out with Kate and Lydia in-person. I can attest that they are even funnier in real life than they are on the blog. Lydia's van does look like a big white tampon and Kate really has a wall of stilettos in her closet. It’s all true, people.
  8. I have a photo on my phone of Kate wearing sneakers and yoga pants (I’m not kidding) at the playground pushing my infant son in a bucket swing and it kills me each time I look at it because they both look sublimely happy.
  9. After the Grand Hooker Experiment Lydia hand-painted a small canvas for me that reads ‘We Can Do Hard Things’. When she handed it to me she gave me a meaningful look and said, “This applies to ALL the things in our lives, Louise.” It is proudly hanging in my dining room, despite the fact that it is wildly inappropriate and it looks like it was painted by a 5 year-old.
  10. I’m so, so happy to be here!
[Editor's note: The whole "we can do hard things" mantra really belongs to another blogger named Momastery who was our Yoda/Spirit Guide through the whole Helping Hookers project. And she agreed with us that given the nature and title of our little project, that "we can do hard things" was the perfect battle cry for it. xo, Lydia]

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2012

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