Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Happy New Year video!

This is what happens when Responsibility.org gives 14 bloggers confetti, ugly sweaters and a video camera.

This post is sponsored by Responsibility.org as part of their #StartsWithMe campaign, encouraging families to talk early, talk often, and be healthy. All the opinions are my own because no one is the boss of me. I'm very proud to be part of the #TalkEarly blogger team this year. 
(c) Mommyland Blogs 2013-2016

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

How I approach the holidays, so as not to lose my mind

As many of you know, I work with responsibility.org and this month they asked me to write about how I keep my stress level down around the holidays. This is an important topic for me because after loving Christmas my whole life, I realized a few years ago I had totally lost my holiday spirit.

In fact, I found the process of managing Christmas as a mom and an adult to be frankly horrible. For years, by mid-December I was giant ball of stress and feeling like this:

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Things My Husband Says About My Ice Cold Hands

You know it's winter when my husband, the cranky but adorable Cap'n Coupon, starts complaining about how cold my hands are all the time*. Here's a list of unkind things my husband has told me about my ice cold hands.
  • Are you a Frost Giant?
  • Your fingers feel like hot dogs right out of the fridge.
  • Yes, you woke me up. It’s like sleeping with a White Walker.
  • If you touched liquid nitrogen, you’d make it COLDER.
  • Cadaver hands! Gah!
  • A yeti would shiver and yelp if you touched his neck like that.
  • Your hands are so cold I would assume they were Canadian, except they’re very rude.
  • Put your gloves back on, Elsa. 
  • You should get a job as a snow cone vendor.
  • It’s like you plucked a lobster from the icy waters of Maine and then tried to hold my hand.
  • Good lord, were you just touching tundra?
  • That’s not snuggling. That’s assaulting me with Siberian dagger hands.
  • How are your hands so cold and clammy? Do you live in Gollum’s cave?

*He especially objects to me trying to warm my hands on him while he's sleeping. Unreasonable.

(c) Mommyland Blogs 2013-2016

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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Using Harry Potter to Talk to Your Kids About Being "Under the Influence"

One of the reasons I love working with Responsibility.org is that they give me the coolest writing prompts. They know that I love Harry Potter and with the new movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opening tomorrow, they asked me to write about lessons from the wizarding world that I use to talk to my kids about all kinds of character issues. Today, I want to look at some examples from the text that underscore the dangers of being "under the influence". 

Let’s get nerdy, you guys.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Game That Almost Killed Me

Like everyone else in America, I stayed up too late last night watching game 7 of the World Series. First, it went into extra innings. Then, there was a rain delay. Then, it honestly came down to the very last play. It almost killed me. I'm old and my nerves aren't what they used to be. Then the Cubs won and I passed out from total exhaustion.

My husband, the irascible Cap'n Coupon, was delighted. When the game was still tied in the 9th inning, he was like: "Julie! Do you know what this means?! FREE BASEBALL!"

Free baseball is what he calls it when the came goes into extra innings and for some reason, he expects me to be equally gleeful about this when he knows darn well I already think 9 innings is like 3 too many.

Oh well, I woke up looking and feeling like a complete garbage barge this morning so I made this meme for all you.

(c) Mommyland Blogs 2013-2016

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

When it's not about the kids, it's about the parents.

I don’t know how it happened but I’m the mother of a teenager. It occurs to me that I only have five years left to teach her everything she needs to know to survive on her own. That’s scary as hell given that my 11 year old recently informed me he has no idea what a fitted sheet is.

This has all led me to acknowledge that I might have an over-parenting problem. The older my kids get, the worse I become. It’s not just changing their sheets. I feel the urge to insert myself into situations that I know I should stay out of. I see it in other parents too; on the ball field, on social media, at Back to School night. It’s endemic. I see kids looking to their parents to solve their problems and adults making things worse by jumping in. And every time I see it happen, I think the same thing:

This isn't about the kids, it’s about the parents.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Elementary School Book Fair

Guess what? These aren't books.
So no, you may not buy them.
Our elementary school hosted it's annual book fair last week. That means I received a "wish list" brought home by child #3, requesting things that were either:

(a) not books, or
(b) books that are not even close to her reading level but feature puppies, or
(c) pens that don't work, or
(d) weird pointy sticks with fingers at the top.

In this case, it was all of the above. I said no and made her books. Correct me if I'm wrong but the purpose of a book fair is to purchase items intended for actual reading, yes?

Apparently, I am mistaken. I think the real purpose is to raise much-needed funds for the school, something I can totally get behind. But dear Lord Baby Jesus, I do not need more crap in my house so my children will buy books or they will buy nothing.

My son called me from school last week, freaking out that he forgot to ask me for money and begging me to drop some off so he could buy stuff during his class' designated shopping time. When I mentioned this on the Rants' Facebook wall, your responses killed me with how funny they were, so I made this meme:

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

I hate 2016 and I've heard enough.

Facebook just showed me a photo from a year ago. It was the day my daughter threw a Halloween party at the Katherine Hanley Family Shelterand we connected with some amazing people (including Batman).
There was a boy who worked really hard with us to make the party a success that day. He was hilarious, smart, and kind. He looked everyone from little kids to adults in the eye and spoke in the same friendly, respectful way to every body. I mean, how many 12 year old boys are like that? I haven’t met very many. He was exactly the kind of awesome kid you want your children to be friends with. He was staying at the shelter with his family. We looked for him a few weeks later to connect for Halloween, and then again for Christmas, but he was gone. I still wonder where he is and pray that he and his family are well.
This picture is a much-needed reminder for me of how bad circumstances happen to the very best people, that good fortune is not bestowed just upon those who are deserving of it, and that we all belong to each other. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

I want to wear a big headband and be cool but I just can't.

So I made this meme today because if anyone in the world needs the ability to pull off one of these big headbands on an "I didn't have time to shower but I still want to look like an actual adult female" day, it's me. I see other women about my age (I'm looking at you, Jen Hatmaker) looking all easy, breezy, beautiful with their long, flowing hair and their effortlessly faded jeans and their boots that fit their calves and their big headbands. They look awesome. I want to be easy and breezy, too. BUT OMG NO I JUST CAN'T. I look ridiculous. A big headband makes me look like I don't have a neck. It makes my head look much, much smaller. Like the math on that doesn't work. A big headband actually makes my head look 72% smaller. How is that possible?

Anyway, I have tried to make this work and it just doesn't and I resent it. That's all.

(c) Mommyland Blogs 2013-2016

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

How to Drive Your Mother Crazy Before 8am

(in just 21 easy steps)
1. In the middle of the night, go stand next to your mother’s bed, as silent as a panther. Position yourself 3-5 inches from her sleeping face, and stare at her until she opens her eyes and screams in terror.
2. Wake her up a few more times, for no discernible reason.
3. When it is time to get up for school, refuse to get out of bed.
4. When your mother turns on your light in an attempt to rouse you from sleep, go ahead and turn it back off. Repeat as many times as you see fit. You’re tired and need more rest.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Talking with Offspring

Does anyone else think its funny that I have gigantic, disembodied cat paw on my face?

As many of you know, I work with responsibility.org and this month they asked me to write about how I get my kids to open up to me and tell me things. Mostly it's getting them alone in the car, that's my big trick. They’ll basically tell me anything when they don’t have to make eye contact and they think I’m partially distracted by the road. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Unofficial Olympic Events My Kids Would Win

In honor of the summer Olympics, I would like to present a list of events in which my children excel. They are naturally gifted at these things. My youngest, for example, is the Katie Ledecky of not putting her goddamn cereal bowl in the sink. 

Sadly, the events listed are not officially recognized by the IOC. This makes me feel a bit wistful that Proctor and Gamble will not be sponsoring them or making heartfelt commercials implying that their excellence is a combination of my outstanding parenting and their commitment/hard work. 

Team events:
  • Pretending they can't hear me when I say things like "turn off the tv".
  • Kicking off their shoes into a large stink pile by the front door.
  • Complaining that there is nothing to eat when in fact, there is an embarrassment of B-list snacks in the pantry.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

10 Things You Should Know if Your Kid is on Social Media and You're Not

I have a middle schooler that's on social media. It's still new to us, so I follow all my kid's accounts and she follows mine. I've been noticing that some of her friends seem to be aware that adults might see what they post, while others really don't. I don't know what to think about that. I can only guess their parents aren't seeing what I'm seeing. 

I get that it’s all overwhelming and that constantly changing. I understood Instagram, but then Snapchat was suddenly everywhere, just to confuse me. I got up to speed on Vine, then got hit with Music.ly. But my daughter and I are figuring it out as we go along, hoping we're not making too big a mess of things and honestly I'm glad we're doing it together. And I'm grateful that I'm seeing all this stuff, because it's eye-opening.

If your kid is all over social media and you're not, here are ten things I really think you should know:

1) If you're not keeping an eye on what your kid is posting on social media, just know that other parents are. So when your kid uses really bad language or shares inappropriate pictures or retweets racist jokes, I assume that either (a) you have no idea or (b) that you're fine it.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Life Cycle of Sunblock

I have no explanation for why this happens to me but every summer, but it does. Get your shit together, sunblock. This is why I end up every September with fourteen half-empty bottles.

(c) Mommyland Blogs 2013-2016

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Do you drink in front of your kids?

As many of you know, I work with responsibility.org and this month they asked me to write about drinking in front of my kids. I do it. Apparently a lot of parents don’t, preferring to wait until their kids go to sleep. That used to be me! When my kids were little, they needed my complete and total attention in order not to set the house on fire or attempt to ride the dog. The only time I could sit down, let alone finish a drink (alcohol or otherwise) was when they were asleep.

If we were in a social situation like a party or a barbecue, there was no way I was drinking because that’s when my offspring needed me to be on super high alert. 

Plus, have you ever noticed that when kids are little and you’re at a party, at least half the parents of young children conveniently disappear and just expect you to watch their kids for them while they enjoy some nice adult time? And then you find yourself alone in a room with twelve screaming toddlers and preschoolers and you’re like “how did I become the sheriff of this goat rodeo?” Then you glare at your husband casually drinking a beer and chatting with another grown-up, while you attempt to pull brawling children off each other and repeatedly tell some random kid to stop squirting his juice box into the DVD player, while praying someone comes to your rescue? No? That was just me? 

Monday, May 30, 2016

I Just Want to Be Perfect - The Book!

Big news, you guys! I got an essay published in a book that just came out. It's called "I Just Want to Be Perfect" and it's available now on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble and probably some other places. I don't want to brag or anything, but my essay is pretty good. It's possibly the funniest "Horrifying Conversation with Mini" that I've ever written.  I think you'll enjoy it because in one story Mini humiliates me in public, creates incredibly memorable song lyrics & forces me to accept the fact that I am the worst at parenting. It's good stuff.

This book is the fourth in the series of anthologies edited by Jen Mann (People I Want to Punch in the Throat). The first one was called "I Just Want to Pee Alone" and it made the New York Times best-seller list. Since I had an essay in that book as well, that makes me a New York Times best-selling something or other. Contributor, I think? In any case, it makes me a fancy lady.

This book is hilarious and has 37 essays from really funny people. It''s all about the pressure we feel to be perfect and describing how we've utterly failed at it. When Jen asked me if I had any funny stories to describe my parenting fails, I was like: "Yes. Those stories are myriad and spring from a well that will never run dry" because as you already know, I'm an idiot.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Anatomy of a Little League Game

Photo credit: Hin255 via freedigitalimages.com
It’s Spring! For my family that means baseball. I love the game, even if it does take over my life and turn me into a crazy person. I thought I’d share the experience of managing three kids and a little league game on a school night, for those of you unfamiliar with the experience.

5:45pm: Arrive at ball field and of course, there’s no parking. Off-load children and gear and folding chairs and circle the lot like a bird of prey, hoping someone is leaving to get Chick Fil A. Spot opens up but it’s a dreaded foul ball/smashed windshield spot. Sigh and keep circling. See a t-ball mom pull into it, she’ll learn soon enough.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Horrifying Conversations with Mini: Bedtime Chatting

Hello friends! It's been a while since our last installment of "Horrifying Conversations with Mini", but fear not, this one truly lives up to the name. Let's set the stage for what should have been a precious family moment. My husband, the irascible Cap'n Coupon, has been on the road for the better part of six weeks. On his first night back, he was taking his time tucking the kids into bed and visiting with them, catching up on all the stuff he missed.

Monday, April 11, 2016

When I was 18...

Me at 18, right before my senior prom.
This post is sponsored by Responsibility.org as part of their #ItStartsWithMe campaign. All the opinions are my own because no one is the boss of me. 

I was asked to think about the nature of responsibility and how it has changed for me over the past 25 years (in honor of Responsibility.org's 25th anniversary). That's like asking me to compare a scrambled egg and a leather recliner. The two things bear so little resemblance to each other that comparisons are hard to come by. Let's start by going over a few similarities and differences, just to warm up.

A couple of differences about me at 18 and me at 43
  • I no longer feel attractive while wearing shorts.
  • This is mostly because my ever-slowing metabolism can sadly no longer take 3,000 calories a day and turn them into a size 6 ass. 
  • If you offer me a cigarette, I will take it as an invitation to lecture you about making bad choices. 
  • I no longer pretend to like The Grateful Dead*, while actually wondering why all the songs are so long and everyone is dancing in circles with their eyes closed.
*For younger readers, in case you are confused The Grateful Dead and The Walking Dead are not related in anyway. Well... Wait. Never mind. They are a little alike. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Adrienne Hedger! Hedger Humor! Cartoons! AAAHHHH!

You guys I'm kind of losing it because Adrienne Hedger, cartoonist extraordinaire of Hedger Humor, responded to my pleas and my light stalking and created a cartoon with me. I may have also promised her baby goats in sweaters, so I shall place them here where we can all enjoy them:

These Baby Goats In Tiny Sweaters Will Make Your Day
Are you ready? She created the cartoon based on an old blog post called "10 Questions for my Preschooler".  Here it is! I love it so much!

Monday, March 28, 2016

I don't want my middle schooler to date, but I don't have a rule against it.

Last week I was asked to go on Let's Talk Live (a local, live TV show here in DC) to talk about teens and dating, specifically about younger teens. It forced me to think about it which I really, really didn't want to do to. When it comes to my kids actually dating, I prefer to be over here, rocking in the corner like this:


But the fact remains that I have two tweens careening towards adolescence and some deep thinking on this subject was overdue. I'm not saying I have it right, but this is where I'm at with tweens and dating. My philosophy on this whole thing boils down one basic thing:

Monday, March 14, 2016

Midnight Madness at the Zoo by Sherryn Craig

If you have littles who love basketball, there's a new book you should know about. It's called Midnight Madness at the Zoo and it's ADORABLE. Written by Sherryn Craig and illustrated by Karen Jones, it's a book about three things both kids and parents love; zoo animals, basketball, and counting. 

I originally met Sherryn almost ten years ago when we were both working together in Public Health in the DC suburbs. She was incredibly smart and funny, and always wore the most fabulous shoes. Her husband is a teacher and high school basketball coach and she would joke about being a "basketball widow" during the season.

Now nearly ten years (and three kids) later, I'm so excited and proud to share her book with you. When talking with her about it, she shared with me something that I thought was really meaningful - the story of how the book was born. Here's what she told me: 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

How I Know It's Spring

In case you were wondering, it's actually Spring where I live, regardless of what the calendar says. Winter is over. I hope you've all registered for camp by now because it's already too late. Please enjoy this list of all the reasons I know it's Spring.

It’s just warm enough that the frightening smell in my minivan has been reawakened. 
I spend days thinking I’m getting sick and taking vitamin C until I realize it’s pollen and that in the war for supremacy, Pollen is my green-dappled overlord.
I check the weather app and it’s “Yes sweetie, you can wear shorts to school even though it’s freezing when you leave for the bus in the morning” degrees outside.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Reasons Why The Tooth Fairy Didn't Show Up Last Night

The following are a list of possible reasons that the Tooth Fairy didn't show up last night like she was supposed to. Feel free to use these reasons as needed. 

(1) The Tooth Fairy didn’t come last night because there were so many precious children all over the world that needed her and she knew that you would understand because you’re so thoughtful and kind. She promises to come tonight and bring you something extra special!

(2) There’s actually a new rule! Are you ready? Any tooth that falls out after 7pm is considered a “next day” tooth. Your tooth fell out at 8:35 so technically, she wasn’t even supposed to come last night.

(3) The thing is that your neighborhood is actually in a Tooth Fairy training area. I shouldn’t be telling you this, but the new class of fairies have some issues. I mean, they’re great. But they’re super needy and they don’t take anything seriously.

(4) The Tooth Fairy wasn’t able to make it last night because she got distracted by the internet and made some shopping choices she now regrets. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The ADD Mom Prayer

I recently wrote about my efforts to become more mindful, calm, and focused and how my broken squirrel brain rejects these efforts. It decides instead that I should re-live awkward conversations from high school and hyperventilate about the possibility of sex offenders circumventing our school district's hiring policies. Thank you, brain. 

The comments on Facebook made me feel a lot better, though, like I wasn't the only one. A lot of people mentioned that this happens to them every night as they try to fall asleep, or as they accidentally shampoo their hair 3 times in the shower, or even when they're trying to pray. That last one is my favorite because the exact same thing happens to me and I'm pretty sure it's annoying Jesus. So please let me share with you what I am now referring to as the "The ADD Mom Prayer"

Friday, February 19, 2016

A Guide for People Who Suck at Mindfulness

Hello, gentle friend. Welcome to Guided Mindfulness. You may be asking yourself: what is mindfulness? Mindfulness is what the internet says you should do in order to be a better human and less like your normal self. Now please find a comfortable place to sit and let your thoughts flow.

FLOW THOUGHTS. Flowing. Flo. Florida. Someone threw an alligator through a drive-thru window in Florida last week and I was like “Of course. FLORIDA.” 
That’s unkind. 
There are a lot of cool people from Florida. 
This can’t be what they mean by thoughts flowing.
This carpet smells funny. I think if you get close enough to any carpet it’s going to smell, though. When you think about the whole idea of carpet, it’s all gross. 

I already hate this.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Mandatory Troop Meeting regarding Girl Scout Cookie Sales

I am a Girl Scout leader. The following is a transcript of a recent troop meeting. 
[It is also satire and completely made up.]

Girls, please be seated. Parents, welcome. We're here to discuss this year's cookie sales. As your leader, it's my duty to inform you that the time is upon us. Girls, you must now put away childish things and begin your journey toward entrepreneurial leadership. The days of Doc McStuffins and organic juice boxes are behind you. Throw these things in the fire, for they mean nothing now. We will roast our s’mores from their acrid flames.

Now down to business. If we don’t exceed our sales goals from last year, you can all just forget about Hershey Park. Do you think destination trips through Amish country to a place where milk chocolate literally flows in the streets just happen by accident? No. We have to earn it, and it will mean sacrifice. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

New Year to Talk Early & Talk Often

This post is sponsored by Responsibility.org as part of their #TalkEarly campaigns, encouraging families to talk early, talk often, and be healthy. All the opinions are my own because no one is the boss of me. I'm very proud to be part of the #TalkEarly blogger team this year. 

For the past couple of years, I’ve been working with responsibility.org as part of their #TalkEarly blogging team. I’m doing it again this year for a couple of reasons and I want to share them with you. 

The first reason is that of all the sponsored blogging that I could do, this actually means something to me. They want me to write about the intersection of parenting and an important public health issue, which is perfect for me give that my all my real life jobs are in public health. 

The second reason I’m doing this is because I feel like I have some amends to make. When I first started writing this blog with my friend Kate seven thousand years ago, moms making jokes about wine on the internet and social media was not the same as it is now. There was no Pinterest, there was no Instagram, most of us didn’t know what a “meme” was - or at least I didn’t. 

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