Monday, November 24, 2014

SUBJECT: Thanksgiving with Sharon

Happy Thanksgiving week! This post is fiction. It's based loosely on personal experience but is about 95% made up. For those of us who come from untraditional families, the holidays can be a little... special. Please enjoy an email exchange between me, my dad, my husband and my sister regarding our plans for Thanksgiving.

TO: Lydia
DATE: Monday, November 24 7:30am EDT
RE: Can’t wait to see you

Hi Lydia. Just wanted to touch base about this week’s visit. I hope to arrive on Wednesday evening and plan to leave early Saturday (probably before breakfast - at say 5am). Does that work for you?

TO: Dad
FROM: Lydia
DATE: Monday, November 24 9:17am EDT
RE: Re: Can’t wait to see you

That sounds great. We’re all looking forward to seeing you. The kids can’t wait. They’re already fighting over who gets to sit next to you and if we should drag you out to that Festival of Lights things on Friday. Do you expect to be here in time for dinner on Weds?

TO: Lydia
DATE: Monday, November 24 9:20am EDT
RE: Re: Re: Can’t wait to see you

Yes for dinner on Weds. I’m shooting for 5pm but you never know with traffic. I’ll be in touch from the road so you have an accurate ETA. Are you still planning to make Thai food? Sharon and I can’t wait. She’s heard all about your spring rolls.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

How to Make a Legend of Korra Costume (when you suck at making things)

This past Halloween, all three of my kids decided that they HAD to be something extra special. Something so special, in fact, that it was not possible for me to buy them costumes because they did not exist. Because apparently costumes this geeky are not manufactured for children. Which means I was faced with making three separate costumes. Which means I wanted to cry because I'm not actually very good at making things.

Here's who they wanted to be:

(If you want to see the Hunter or Weeping Angel costumes, check out this post right here.)

How to Make an Awesome DIY Weeping Angel Costume (when you're bad a making things)

So last Halloween I promised my Facebook friends that I would blog about my 5 year old's desire to be Korra (from Legend of Korra) because I would have to make her costume and I suck at making things and maybe I would crap it up so badly that it would be funny. Then my other two children decided to be obscure characters for whom kid costumes did not exist. And my oldest daughter of course chose something from Doctor Who.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Two Life Hacks to Make Buying Kids' Holiday Gifts Easier

I'd like to pretend that I can ignore the holidays for a few more weeks, but sadly I have to start thinking about them EVEN THOUGH IT'S STUPID AND I DON'T WANT TO. Why? Because 2 weeks ago (right around Halloween) the books arrived in the mail. Do you know the ones I'm talking about? The Toys R Us and Walmart and Target Christmas catalogues filled with crap my kids don't need and don't actually want. You know what else in now in full swing? The commercials. There are now more advertisements for useless, expensive, stupid than my small brain can handle.

I thought I'd share two ways I make the whole nonsense about Christmas shopping a bit easier and less expensive. I've written about all this stuff before, but not really here and in one post. So here's my tips - or "hacks" as we bloggers are now required to call them - all in one spot.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Hello, I'm Beverly Goldberg.

This is not a sponsored post. I just really love the TV show "The Goldbergs". 

Do you guys watch The Goldbergs? It's about a family in the 1980's and it's freaking hilarious. It's supposed to take place in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania outside of Philly (where I used to live!). This show is the first sitcom my entire family all really loves watching together.

While all of the characters are awesome, I would like to share with you my feeling about the mom, Beverly Goldberg, (played brilliantly by Wendy Mclendon-Covey who you might remember from Bridesmaids). She is described as "a shoulder-padded, crunchy-haired mother warrior whose top priority was always her kids. Before helicopter moms and attachment parenting, she was the original (s)mother."

Now I've always thought that I was a mean mom. I yell, I call them out on their bullshit pretty much every chance I get, and I have zero illusions about them being perfect. Beverly on the other hand, thinks her kids are literally the most special and wonderful children in that the world has ever known.

For example:

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Dora and Friends: So Where the Hell is Boots?

So last summer, my youngest daughter (age 5) began seeing previews for a new Dora show called Dora and Friends: Into the City! Gone was the babyish, lame Dora with her ill-fitting tee shirt (that clearly needs to be like 2 inches longer). She's been replaced with the new, cooler, older Dora. With longer hair! And snazzy clothes! And a cell phone! And a gang of friends to run around the city with!

For the next few weeks, I listened to a rather tedious stream of: "MOMMY, I HAVE TO WATCH THE NEW DORA. IS IT ON YET? WHEN IS IT ON? CAN WE GET IT ON DEMAND? NEW DORA NEW DORA NEW DORA NEW DORA."

Then we actually watched it. Here's a quick run-down/review of the new Dora show.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

In Which My Friend is Learning to Live with The Fear

I need to introduce my friend to you my friend Katherine. A couple of months ago, she told me she was going to start writing and I was like - Thank GOD. What took you so long? Then last week, I read this post about how she is learning to live with The Fear and I felt like I needed to share it with you guys. As you know The Fear is something I really, really struggle with. 

I should warn you, your eyeballs might leak a little.

[Editor's Note: If you've been a reader of this blog for a while you've already met her because she is part of The Preschool and The Church which houses The Parking Lot where The Meltdown took place that started Rants from Mommyland.] 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Meeting Captain Marvel at Marvel Universe Live!

Last week the lovely people at Marvel Universe Live invited me and my family to go see the show at the Patriot Center, which is right in our hometown. This was extremely exciting for us because my daughters had been somewhat surly for the past two months whenever the word "Marvel" was mentioned. They were not happy that their brother had the opportunity to go see the show in Tampa in June while they stayed home.

Then the nice Marvel people told us that we would get to meet with one of the cast members before the show. They they set us up with an interview and five free tickets. To say we were excited was an understatement. 
Since my husband couldn't make it, we used our fifth ticket to bring one of the kids' friends. So it was me, three girls and the boy off to see the show and meet a superhero in real life. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Domestic Enemies of the Working Wife of the Stay-at-Home Dad

Today's addition to the Domestic Enemies archives is from Shannon Brescher Shea. Shannon is mommy to an adventurous one-year-old boy who loves dirt, clapping, and hugs. She writes about her experiences at We'll Eat You Up, We Love You So (


I'm proud to be married to a stay-at-home dad. But it definitely comes with its pitfalls. While I'm so glad that I get to go to my job every day while my husband enjoys taking care of the baby and cooking, we've faced our share of Domestic Enemies.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Back to School Night

This was originally published 2 years ago, but I'm sharing it again because I figure it never hurts to get schooled by someone dropping truth bombs. 

All three of my kids have gone to the same preschool. It's attached to our church and I love it so much it’s not even funny. Other preschools don’t even exist for me. It’s like my preschool is Michael Fassbender and your preschool is Michael J Fox. Your preschool is cute and all, and really great but... I like mine a lot.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Back to School night there. It was my sixth time going to this event at this school, and it doesn’t vary too much. I was not a super excited kitten to be sitting in the exact same meeting I’d sat in on five other occasions. You have to go every year, though because all parents volunteer in the classroom and its part of our training.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Date Night Video

Remember a long time ago when Kate and I went to Chicago and did that thing with Second City? Well I forced coerced kindly asked those actors to be my friends on Facebook. So my very dear friend comedy genius Sue Salvi (that I met one time for fifteen minutes) posted this on her wall today and when I saw it, I almost passed out because it was so funny.

Just watch.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Brutally Honest Kindergarten Form

I have a real problem on my hands. My daughter Mini just started Kindergarten and I have a ton of paperwork to fill out for the school. One of the things I need to do is fill out a form for her new teacher (who I hear is fabulous). The form has a couple of basic questions (child's name, date of birth, siblings, etc). Then there's the hard part. I'm supposed to answer the following question: "What can you tell us about your child?"


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Up & Away! (With Those Dang Pills)

NOTE: This post is sponsored by Up and Away, an educational program to remind families of the importance of safe medicine storage, in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Consumer Healthcare Products Association Educational Foundation. 

Every once in a while I get to write a sponsored post about something I'd be happy to write about anyway. In this case, it's the importance of keeping medicine up and away from where our kids can find it. This is especially true with caregivers (ahem - Grandma & Grandpa - I am looking at you), houseguests, and visitors. 

Let me tell you about the time I thought my 3 year old ate a month's worth of birth control pills! It was super fun and not stressful at all! 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Rare Bird by Anna Whiston-Donaldson

Three years ago today, a 12 year old boy was killed in a freak flood one town over from mine. I didn't know the family, but had several friends who did. His mom, Anna, was a blogger and when I heard the news I clicked over to her blog. I saw her beautiful kids smiling at me in back to school pictures. It seemed impossible that this beautiful boy was gone.

I kind of lost of my shit. It was too sad and too real and far too close to home. I've written about how much Jack's death affected me since it happened. It's not just me - friends, family and strangers from across the country have been moved by the loss of this special boy.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Horrifying Conversations with Mini: Not ANYTHING

I was taking a late summer swim with Mini recently, when she said something horrifying. I was trying to encourage her to work on her backstroke and I was telling her all the fun things you could do while floating on your back and kicking your legs. 

But she was having none of it. She kept telling me that when you race backstroke at a swim meet, you could hit your head on the wall (which is of course very true). So she was never going to do that.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Prayer for the First Day of School

Dear God,

I have three kids and today they all went to school, the smallest one for the very first time. You already know that, though, because you're omniscient. Now that the big yellow bus has consumed my children, I'm sitting here alone in a  quiet house, trying to distract myself with work and Facebook. It's sort of working, except for the fact that my stupid eyes keep leaking.

God, I really wish I was one of the moms skipping back from the bus stop humming "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year." I thought when this time finally came, I would be. But I don't feel like celebrating. There was no skipping home. I spent the whole time trying not to ugly cry in front of my neighbors, so I just kept making a weird face and sniffling.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Daddy, My Pillow Smells

This post is several years old but in honor of the author's birthday, I am re-posting it today. 
God bless you, sir. You are a fine American.

This post was actually not written for us. It was written up as Facebook note by a friend of mine. Since he and his wife are my very close buddies, I asked them and THEN I TOTALLY PINCHED IT. 

OK. I asked first. You see, my friend Beatrice told me the story of what happened and I nearly peed myself. So then I asked if I could write it up for MommyLand and they were all "It's already written!" And when I read the story on her Facebook page, it was even funnier than when his wife told it to me.

If you're drinking anything, put it down.  Otherwise, you may spray your computer. 

Enjoy! xo, Lydia

Friday, August 15, 2014

Horrifying Conversations with Mini: The Spot

Welcome to this installment of Horrifying Conversations with Mini, where I'm about to share possibly the most horrifying thing she's ever said. Seriously. Worse than what she told people at Disney World or the joke about the baby duck.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Pre-Vacation To Do List

Photo by: Photostock
My husband asked me a very reasonable question while we were getting ready to leave on our summer vacation last week. That question was: “Why are you so grouchy right now?” 

The fact that he asked me that question means that he has no real concept of what it takes to get a family of 5 ready for a week’s vacation. I’m aware of the fact that my grouchiness is an unreasonable response to a decidedly first world problem. But I thought I’d share my to do list anyway in the hopes that at least one of you out there will let me know that it's not just me.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Things That Make Me Happy

Sunsets on Lake Michigan. They're awesome. 
The internet has been a sad and shitty place for the past couple of days. Perhaps because increasingly the world is a sad and shitty place, filled with things I can't make sense of.  I'm not just talking about celebrities, though there's that too. It's everything. It's all of it. 

It's hurting my heart and I thought it might be hurting yours, too. So I decided to make a list of things that make me happy. There's a lot of beauty and kindness and hilarity in the world and sometimes I need to be reminded of that. If you want, you can add stuff to this list, too. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Viral Video: OMG. I know little girl, me too!

If you would like to see the cutest, funniest thing on the internet right now - here it is. It's this sweet little girl losing her mind because someday her baby brother will grow up. Oh my goodness, little girl, I'm right there with you. My youngest, the precious little cupcake baked by the devil, is about to go to kindergarten and I can barely manage to keep from bawling about that pretty much all the time.

Here's to a great big sister, a ridiculously cute little brother, and a very sweet family! Hope you guys love this (about to go viral) video, too.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Pool Math

We spend a lot of time at the pool. I'm starting to think there are mathematical rules and theorems that govern our experience there. Here's what I mean:

The Preparation to Pool Time Proportion: The amount of time it takes you to get your family ready to go to the pool (finding suits and towels, changing children, packing snacks, filling water bottles, locating the one lost flip flop) is inversely proportional to how long you will be at the pool before the first child asks if they can go home.

The 80 Minute Sunscreen Phenomenon: The more diligently you apply sunscreen every 80 minutes to your children, the greater the risk that the only part of your own body that will receive similar attention will be the palms of your hands. Or possibly your eyeballs when you forget that your hands are covered in sunscreen and you rub your eyes.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

10 Ways You Know You're A Swim Parent

It's POOL WEEK here at Rants from Mommyland, as well as being the last week of swim team. In honor of that, I decided to type up 10 ways I know I'm a swim parent. Ready? Here we go!

1. "Eat my bubbles" is written on the back of my van in window paint. I don't even really know what that means, but let's be honest - it sounds really unsanitary. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Brutally Honest Paper Plate Awards for this Swim Season

At the end of every sports season, there is usually some sort of party where the coach talks about each of the players and sometimes, gives awards for things like "Most Improved" or "Most Valuable". Swim team is no different, except on our team they give paper plate awards. They're exactly what they sound like.  Fun, light-hearted awards that our truly wonderful coaches make for the swimmers.

As this week marks the end of our swim season, I've started to think about the awards my kids have earned. Because for my kiddos, swim team is as much about the snack bar and the hanging out with friends and the weekly costume contests as it is about actually swimming. I'm totally fine with that, but I enjoy teasing them.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Adult Swim: The Conspiracy Lives

It's POOL WEEK here at Rants from Mommyland, as well as being the last week of swim team. In honor of this, here is a pool-themed guest post from my bad ass friend Jessica McNeill Azar from Herd Management

But before you read it, I have to tell you something really important about her. DON'T SKIP THIS PART, YOU GUYS, SERIOUSLY. Or you might die.

You need to get to know this woman because:
(a) She is hilarious.
(b) She is a long time Mommylander and is totally one of us.
(c) She is our insider for all things "Outlander" this summer as she is GOING TO THE RED CARPET PREMIERE THIS WEEK and will be live tweeting/posting pics and then posting her reviews of the series. 
(d) So if you become her very best friend (as I have), that puts you within one Kevin Bacon degree of this:

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Marvel Universe Live!

Captain America was cute but shorter than I expected.
Last week, my 9 year old and I got to see the new Marvel Universe Live show. Technically, I think it's actually called Marvel Universe LIVE! (please don't forget to use the exclamation point). Marvel and Feld Entertainment flew me and my 9 year old son to Tampa to see the show and write about what we thought. Just to be clear, they didn't pay me - but they paid for our trip. They also told me to write whatever I wanted.

Now I don't do a whole lot of sponsored posts (or regular posts) because I (a) am super lazy (b) am usually asked to endorse products like Hello Kitty adult-themed products by nice men who write to me in Mandarin. But this was FREAKING MARVEL and as an enormous Marvel nerd, I was more than a little excited to do this. So I said hell yes.

Also, there is whole other blog post that could be written just about how cool it was to tell my son that we were going on this adventure together. It was wonderful. Then, there is a third blog post I could write chronicling the reaction of my two daughters to the news that their brother would get to go to Florida alone with mommy to do something incredibly cool. That blog post would be slightly less wonderful.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Horrifying Conversation with Mini: Click.

Last week, Mini did what she always does. She waits until the worst possible moment in the middle of the night and then she crawls into our bed and wiggles until she's snugly nestled between me and her father. She then waits stealthily until we both fall back to sleep. At that exact moment, she turns into a starfish. This effectively ends my night's sleep. Sometimes it happens at 1am and sometimes it happens at 6am, but no matter when it happens  - it is not my favorite.* 

*When an adult female tells you in a nice voice that something is not her favorite, it means that she hates it. A lot. But she's trying to be nice about it. Now you know. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

PMS and Science

Things are crazy around here right now. So you can understand why now would be a bad time to have the PMS. That having the PMS at this stressed-out moment would result in periodic and wildly embarrassing crying jags and the occasional abrupt transition into being a raging B/Disney Villian. On a good day, I could handle the immense amounts of stuff on my to do list in fairly good humor. But PMS days are not my good days. In fact, I made a chart to illustrate:

(You can click this to make it bigger. Not that size matters.)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Last Week of School. I'm Losing it.

I'm losing it. Mini is fighting something off and hasn't slept well in a few days, which means that I haven't slept well in a few days. Plus, I keep going from anger to tears in less time than it takes my kids to swipe my iPhone and start playing Minion Rush. The Cap'n called it before I did (it's The PMS), and it could not be coming at a worse time.

Why is that? Because I'm on the end of the school year hamster wheel of doom. It sucks so hard and this year, due to 11 snow days last winter, it's lasting forever. 

This looks EXACTLY like my daughter's hamsters, whom the Cap'n refers to as "The Indoor Squirrels"

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Quinoa Summer Salad - So Yummy!

I don't usually do recipes but I shared this a couple of years ago on Facebook and people still tell me all the time how much they dig it.

This recipe makes a gigantic bowl  -  enough for a week's worth of lunches, to bring to a big pot luck, or for sharing with hungry, vegetarian neighbors. Oh yeah! It's also gluten free. If you want to make less, just cut the proportions.

It's really yummy, it sort of tastes like the inside of a burrito. My husband and kids eat this and like it (though I have to serve it with some sort of grilled meat or the Cap'n doesn't consider it dinner because he's from Ohio).

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Anatomy of a Swim Meet

I have three kids and they all swim on a swim team every summer. I decided to capture my experience at a morning swim meet, for those of you not in the water cult.

6:00am: Wake up, drink coffee. Wake up grouchy children.

6:45am: Arrive at pool. Parking lot is already full. Let the kids out and park far away. Carry/drag chairs, bags and a cooler as if I were large pack animal. It occurs to me suddenly that as mother of three there is no denying that I am a large pack animal.

6:58am: Small miracle occurs. I find a great place to set up chairs, etc. Next to friends. With a good view of the pool. In full shade. Wish I'd brought a sweatshirt actually, is kind of chilly.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Tao of My Dad

Happy Father's Day! Let me tell you all about my dad and by extension, all about why I am the way I am. This post originally ran about 18 months ago, but I thought it might be time to dust it off. 

My dad is a handsome old geezer named Ed Miller. He lives in the woods in Maine. If the truth be told, he is a bit of a character. There is really no way to describe him, so I won't try. Instead, I will share with you some of his bon mots which over a lifetime have collectively become (what I call) "The Tao of My Dad". If you've ever wondered why I am this way, perhaps this will give you some insight.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Kids and Social Media: I Can Handle This (I think)

I wrote this post for the fine folks at WTOP (a kick-ass radio station in Washington, DC) last week but I thought I'd share it here, too. This is not a regular Mommyland-type post, it's a cross between a "real" blog post and the stream of consciousness bullshit you generally find here. Enjoy! 

A couple of years ago, I read that the crux of the problem with kids and emerging social technology, such as Twitter, is that children routinely use social media before they're properly socialized. That makes sense. A socially-awkward 12-year-old in real life is bound to make mistakes on the Internet, especially without a clear example of what they should be doing. But who sets that example?

I have three young kids who are dying to know about, and engage with, technology. I've tried to keep them off the Internet, but thanks to our excellent public school system and the magic of BlackBoard, they're online doing their homework almost every day.

They collaborate with classmates via Google Docs and ask me how to upload YouTube videos into their PowerPoint slides for social studies. I stare blankly at them, wondering how we went from printing out coloring pages to this. Now I argue with my 8-year-old about playing Minecraft via Xbox Live. Just because the person you're playing with says he's a fourth-grader, doesn't mean he's not actually a random dude from Denmark with candy in his pants.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Retro Prom & BlogU

It was on a college campus. It was so pretty!
Last weekend I went to my first ever blog conference. You guys, it was terrifying. I only went because it was run by the same women who contributed to the anthology "I Just Want to Pee Alone".  You might remember that I was in that book and I liked them all so much that I let them guest post all over Mommyland for months because I wanted you guys to love them as I do.

So anyway, for the past 18 months, we've all been in this FB group. And since we're all addicted to social media and always on stupid Facebook - well, we all know all about each other's lives and have seen pictures of each other's kids, and homes, and whatever. I wanted to meet them all in real life and the conference was only about 90 minutes from my house so I went ahead and bought my ticket to Blog U.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Summer Reading 2014!!

It's time for summer reading! Thanks to a prolonged bout of (dong-sucking) pneumonia this Spring, I actually started reading books again! Lots of them! And now I've nearly exhausted all my new books and I want to read more so I'd love to get your recommendations, both on books for me and also for my kids.

I'll get started! Currently, I'm reading two kinds of books:
  • Books written by bloggers
  • Young Adult fiction that I'm screening for my rising 6th grader. Also, ((deep breath here)) I love YA fiction for just me, myself and I and I'm not ashamed. Also, please take a moment to appreciate the sweet De La Soul click thru. 
So let's start with YA:

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Horrifying Conversations with Mini: The Sharp Stick

Last week I had a long conversation with my kids about being nice to others, things mean kids do, what to do if you see something cruddy going on, what to do if you find yourself involved in something cruddy, etc. I tried to impart some wisdom, give them a chance to talk about what's going on at school, and overall - I thought the conversation went pretty well. But apparently it did not, because the take-away for my 5 year old was that MEAN KIDS ARE EVERYWHERE SO CONSTANT VIGILANCE IS REQUIRED.

This morning we walked to the bus stop. The three kids, the dog, and I all tumbled out of the house like we were coming out of a damn clown car because some people have never learned to walk through a door one at a time. Mini paused and stared at the stick that lives on my front porch.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Little League Parent Pledge

My son has been playing Little League for years. He really likes baseball and even though it can be a major time suck and occasional pain in my keister, so do I. I love watching the kids play, seeing them come together as a team over the course of the season, watching them improve, take risks, fail, and succeed. I like meeting new families and reconnecting with old friends.

Given my over-all warm and fuzzy feelings about Little League, it might surprise you that I've got some rants in my pants about it and I'm about to unload a little bit. Because one of the things I like the most about baseball is a little something I call the "The Statement of Parental Non-Assholery" that our League requires us to make at the beginning of every game. That's not it's real name, by the way, officially it's called "The Parent Pledge".

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Pneumonia! It what's up.

Hello! If you've been wondering what's up with me - the answer is pneumonia. Let your old pal Lydia tell you a little something about pneumonia, friends; it sucks dong and you should avoid it

In case you were like - where has that heifer been? That’s where. I kept teaching my lovely students and taking care of my kiddo squiddos, but other than that I just lay around my house being pathetic and taking antibiotics. I got sick in early April and my pulmonologist just cleared me about a week ago.

I was so sick, I couldn't do anything. I could barely make it to work. I couldn't go to Bunco and take my friends' money because I couldn't stay awake past 8:45pm. I was so sick, my friends had to bring my family meals. I WAS SO SICK I HAD NO DESIRE TO DRINK WINE FOR OVER A MONTH. In fact, I pretty much had no desire to do anything other than make sure my kids were looked after and then nap.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Truth About Teacher Gifts

Guru Louise and I asked you about what most teachers really want for end of the year gifts. We got hundreds of answers on Facebook, Twitter and in the comments section. Many of the comments were from teachers. We asked for the truth and we got it. Thank you.

Here was our goal with this:
Figure out what teachers really want and need, so that we can all avoid dealing with stuff that is expensive, stupid and unnecessary. 

Here's what we learned:
Teachers like gifts and the thoughts behind them very much. They're extremely grateful when parents take the time to think of them and appreciate their hard work.

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Truth About Mother's Day Gifts

A couple of years ago, I posted a graphic about how I believe that Mother's Day gifts are largely misunderstood. I decided to share it again this year.

For Mother's Day, I don't want carnations or stuff from a jewelry store at the mall. I really just want an honest, heartfelt acknowledgement from someone who gets how hard it is to be a mom. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Let's Help Moms on Mother's Day!

Three years ago, when I thought about Mother's Day, I just wanted to sigh… So Kate and Guru and I decided to look at it from a whole new perspective. We saw it as an opportunity to help moms in need. While we were figuring out what exactly to do, some awesome readers told us about how they were instead putting together Mother's Day gift bags for women living in a domestic violence shelter in their town. 

We were like: THAT IDEA IS GENIUS. Then we asked them very politely if we could steal it. Of course they said yes. 

So we threw together a Mother's Day party in a week and put together over 100 gift bags for moms in domestic violence and family shelters in Fairfax, Virginia (where we live). Then we did  it again last year. And other readers from all over the US and Canada did it, too. AND IT WAS ALL INCREDIBALLS and it made me ugly cry with how beautiful people can be. 

And Mother's Day was born again for me.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Top Ten Things I'm Ashamed to Admit

I'm sorry for not writing anything for a while. The deal is that my husband has been out of town, I've been taking allergy medication (which puts me back in The Blur and makes me super loopy) and I've been to the pediatrician like 6 times in 4 weeks because of a slew of random stuff. I was going to write a post about being on allergy medication and having sick kids but then 30 minutes later I realized I was staring at a squirrel in my yard and had only typed one word. That word was "salsa" (because I love it and I was hungry).

Then it occurred to me that I'd written about being on allergy meds before (in October 2010). So here it is:

Everyone in my house has been sick lately, including me. It makes everything impossible. Taking care of everybody and keeping all the trains running on time is hard enough without factoring in that no one is sleeping and everyone is on some kind of medication that only effectively breaks up mucous by turning you into a slack-jawed imbecile who is distracted by shiny things and unable to operate large machinery.

These are ten things I reluctantly admit doing while under the influence of anti-histamines.

10. I watched an entire episode of the Full House. And I sort of liked it.

9. I let my toddler deconstruct an unopened box of tampons so that I could have fifteen minutes of peace and quiet. It may have been the happiest she has ever been.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Horrifying Conversations with Mini: Her least favorite number

Mini is learning to read. More precisely, Mini is learning to sound out words. I don't want to rush her into reading (she doesn't start kindergarten until the fall), but the Cap'n thinks she's an evil genius and we should get her literate ASAP so she can begin collecting minions. So he's been working with her and she's getting pretty good at it.

The other day in the van on the way to preschool, Mini and I made eye contact in the rear view mirror. And things got weird.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Freaking Ides of March

The Ides of March has always been a bad luck day for me and I don't know why. It's become a thing and now I'm all superstitious about it. You can laugh if you want, but this year just reinforced my fears.

This year, the Ides of March was a Saturday and it lasted for three, long days. I'm not kidding. It began when my dog Brady ate something (that we now think may have either been a sock or part of a scarf) and made himself so sick that he almost died. It took 24 hours of cleaning up dog vomit and then a $6.5 million dollar surgery to save him.*

*Not the actual cost. Just felt that way. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Tinikling! Thank GOD!

Kind of like this.

My family is very fortunate because we live in a community with excellent public schools. In fact, my county sort of has swagger about its schools. It's not even subtle about it. My county is like one of your super annoying, humble-bragging Facebook friends who always manages to casually mention how successful everyone in their family is.

My county is EXACTLY like that. It sees the other counties at Starbucks and it's all: "Oh hey. What's up, neighboring jurisdictions? Congratulations on that #6 ranking! You must feel really good about that. Oh yeah, you saw that? #1 again this year. It's a blessing. OK, enjoy your coffee. Bye-eee!"

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Most Disgusting Thing That Has Ever Happened

My dog almost died today. Because he ate some fabric. Maybe a sock? They don't know. In any case it was gross and it was not even food of any kind so why did he f*cking eat it? I'm broke now but he's going to live. Because none of us could handle the idea of losing our very young dog a couple of weeks after losing our very old cat. OH MY GOD. Dogs, man, dogs.

With that in mind, I've decided to re-run this post:


If you have a weak stomach, or have a bad reaction to things that are disgusting (particularly in relationship to dogs and canine behavior), THIS IS NOT THE POST FOR YOU. You should probably click away. Because it's about to get all kinds of nasty up in here.

Here's the thing about having a dog. It's gross. Having kids is gross too, of course, what with the being puked on and never knowing where that smell is coming from. But dogs are worse. Last Friday, I greeted the early morning with an enormous, steaming pile of dog vomit that was in considerable danger of being re-consumed if I didn't clean it up fast enough.

Because dogs are gross.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Help This Woman: My Hero, Jas

Jas with her two boys Brandon, age 18 (currently serving
in the Air Force) and Jammel Jr.
UPDATE: Jaspen didn't win but she's still out hero!
You guys know we love to help other women and their kids, right? Well, today I'm asking you to help our friend Jaspen Boothe by voting for her as an "Unstoppable Mom" in a contest sponsored by the TV show Live with Kelly and Michael.

In the process of working to help moms and kids over the past couple of years, we met  Jaspen. She runs a non-profit called Final Salute, dedicated to helping women veterans. Specifically, this non-profit helps female vets and their kids avoid homelessness and find self-sufficiency. I firmly believe that no one who has served our country should ever be homeless. But there's only so much the VA can do. And honestly, the military is 85% male and the situation for women vets is different.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Viral Video of Dancing That Made Me Laugh SO HARD

This guy (Andrew Wilcox, a man with mad skills) lost a bet with his brother over a basketball game. So he had to dance for 30 minutes on a busy corner in Provo, Utah to music his brother picked out for him. IT IS MADE OF YES. It is all yes, all the time. I love everything about it.

The break dancing?! And the Spice Girls?! And the flip? SAY WHAT?! And DEAR LORD - was that some Fat Amy Mermaid Dancing at the end ("it's a lot floor work")?! I just… I have no more words. ONLY RESPECT.

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(c) Mommyland Blogs 2013

Thursday, March 6, 2014

My Cat Died and I Hate Feeling These Feelings

This amazing picture was taken by the
very talented, kind and cat-loving Kristin Merten
A couple of weeks ago my cat died and I'm so mad about it I could spit. Nothing actually happened to him. That's not why I'm mad. He was really old. His kidneys failed. He slowly faded away and on his last day, he sort of looked at me like: "Woman, it's time. Let's go." So I took him to the vet who confirmed that it was time and he died quietly in my arms a couple of hours later.

My arms still feel empty. They want to hold him one more time. My house seems weird without him in it. I hate that he's gone and I want him back and I hate that I had to tell the vet to kill him and I hate being a grown up sometimes and it all sucks. That's why I'm mad.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Don't Make Me Give You Up for Lent

I'm not Catholic, even though in the late 90's I worked for nuns and they told me they thought I should be. I think they have to say that to everyone, though. If I'm being accurate, one sister asked me if I was sure I wasn't actually Catholic instead of Presbyterian and I was like "Pretty sure, Sister Agnes, but thanks for asking".

Then I told her my dad had been raised in the church (he went to parochial school and was an alter boy in Trenton, NJ in the 1950's, which according to him means he was beaten regularly by nuns for his bad attitude for about 12 years). I also went to mass with my grandmother fairly often as a small child, where I was fed an unending stream of "mints" to keep me quiet. It wasn't until my first pregnancy that gestational heartburn caused me to realize they were actually Tums. Thanks, grandmom. 

Things We Never Have Enough Of

I recently noticed that we have this weird dichotomy in our house. We have way too much of some stuff and never enough of other stuff (usually the stuff we actually need). 

Here's a little chart to explain what I mean:

Oh, Sophia. Lay off the spray tan, sweetie.

(c) Mommyland Blogs 2013

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