Friday, August 11, 2017

It's Mid-August and We're Practically Feral

My actual children doing back to school shopping at Target. 
My family is so busy all year that we crave the freedom and flexibility of summer vacation, especially after swim team ends. Our alarm clocks go off by 6am all year, except for this magical time between swim ending and school starting. There is a downside, though. After about 10 days of not having a reason to wake up early, our days lose all sense of order and we become more or less feral. 

Here are ten reasons why we can’t handle not having a schedule:

10. Bedtime? What is this word you speak of? Last night my 8 year old went to sleep at 10:15 and we all thought it was “early”.

9. Breakfast? The most important meal that nobody eats anymore. We’re all sleeping in and nobody wakes up at the same time, and no one seems to be hungry when they do get up. This of course leads to hangriness which leads my kids to argue with each other.

8. The sibling squabbles. Dear God save me from how much these children are fighting with each other over stupid nonsense. I’d send them to their rooms, but at the moment those rooms are so messy that I’m not sure they can even get in there.

7. The messes. On a normal day, we have a time when things get done. Dishes are put in the dishwasher, clutter on the stairs is carried upstairs, socks and shoes - carelessly kicked off and scattered around - are dealt with. But not now. Now there is just stuff EVERYWHERE. 

Random Observation: There are half-empty drinking glasses in every room and it’s getting weird. Remember that movie Signs from like 15 years ago? It’s like that.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Last Good Race


When your children stop doing a sport or an activity that your family has been part of for a long time, it's a milestone. We've been on a swim team for eight years and now my kids are ready to move on (even if I'm not). Being on that team is what made the amorphous collection of pre-planned subdivisions where we live feel like a community. It was also something that we did together - all the kids on the same team and the parents serving as volunteers. It was a shared experience. 

At our last swim meet, my friends and I alternately cheered as our kids competed, ate italian ice, and fanned ourselves in folding chairs trying to stay cool in the merciless mid-Atlantic heat. After four hours, we were tired and impatient for the last event of the night. 

When it was time, we stood by the fence to watch. I'd been fine the whole evening, anticipating this moment. This was when I'd let myself get emotional. This was when I'd savor every second because the ending of it all was going to feel real. I braced myself.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

What I Didn't Say Before Try Outs

My oldest is trying for a high school sport today. Here's what I said to her: 
  • Have fun! I love you!

Here's what I wanted to say/blurt out like a crazy person but did not:
  • Be confident! Even if you don't feel confident! You can do this! 
  • Listen and be coachable! Make eye contact and let the coaches know you're hearing them and getting it!
  • If you make a mistake, just own it and reset with a great attitude!
  • I'm not going to be in the parking lot frenetically playing Candy Crush wondering how it's going. That would be super weird. 
  • Give high fives and praise to your team-mates for good play! Spread a positive attitude! 
  • DO NOT GET CHATTY WITH YOUR FRIENDS.
  • If you have a choice between diving for a ball or a pass you probably won't get and letting it pass you by, YOU GO FOR IT.
  • Ask questions and be focused!
  • I AM SO PROUD OF YOU AND HOW HARD YOU HAVE WORKED.
  • It may not work out and that's ok. We'll have a huge pity party for one day and eat all the chocolate and Chipotle and then regroup and move forward. 
  • OMG I'M FINE I'M NOT EVEN NERVOUS WHATEVER THIS IS ABOUT YOU.
  • Hydrate!
  • Offer to help/say thank you/be respectful/all the things we raised to you do. 
  • Know in your heart that who makes it is about the team and not about you and that's how it should be
  • There's a lesson in everything and it will all be ok so just have fun and relax.
  • I will be totally cool and not at all twitchy on the ride home tonight and wait for you to tell me about everything in your own time EVEN IF IT KILLS ME.
  • I love you so much and I am your biggest fan and you are the most amazing kid. And these are not tears in my eyes I have allergies so shut up.


(c) Mommyland Blogs 2013-2017

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Giving Formula a Ride

For the past couple of years, I've been giving baby formula a ride. Once every month or two, I drive it from my pediatrician's office to the local family homeless shelter. The companies that make formula send it to pediatricians everywhere in the hopes that they'll give it away to their patients, who will like their products and start to buy them. The practice we go to is large and as a result, they get sent a lot of formula and they often end up with too much. 
It drove the staff crazy because sometimes they literally couldn't give it away. Once they had to throw it out because they lost track of the expiration date. That spurred one of the (amazing) nurses to ask me if I still helped with homeless families and if so, would I take several cases of formula over there for her. I was like YOU BETCHA LADY, THIS STUFF IS EXPENSIVE. GIDDY UP. So now whenever they have too much baby formula, they call me and I come pick it up. 

Today I got to drive 17 cases and that was pretty awesome so I decided to tell you about it. Not to be annoying like - oooh look what I did, I'm so fancy and helpful - but because maybe you also go to a big pediatric practice where you live and they have extra formula and you want to give it a ride. Or maybe you volunteer someplace with hungry families and you read this and thought - Hey! I could maybe get them some much-needed free stuff! 
Sending hugs & extra air conditioning (because it is too hot to function in Virginia),
J

(c) Mommyland Blogs 2013-2014

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Monday, July 17, 2017

The Ritual Cleansing

On May 22nd, my 30 year old brother died unexpectedly. It was a pulmonary embolism. 


For almost a year preceeding his death, he'd been in crisis due to mental health and addiction problems. On the day he died, we thought we stood a chance of getting him back, but of course now we'll never know how his life might have turned out. 
His memorial service was yesterday. My sister and I are really close and we got each other through it. This has been dark, messy, dirty grief - the kind you don't even know how to talk about. 
After the memorial, we drove off as fast as we could to a secret beach on Deer Isle, Maine and we dove into the freezing cold water. We jokingly referred to it as a ritual cleansing. The water was so cold that it hurt to go under. But I made myself do it and when I came out, I felt wide awake. My skin tingled and my lungs filled with air and my toes were deep in sea weed and I looked up at the sun. Some mist was rising off the water and we watched the wind blow it out to sea.


(c) Mommyland Blogs 2013-2017

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Friday, July 14, 2017

Orbital Space is Finite

I recently listened to a podcast about space junk, the man-made debris floating around in Earth’s orbit. It discussed how one Cold War-era rocket booster over time may break into 100 smaller pieces of debris, which eventually break into thousands of tiny bits of space junk. It all spins around the planet, occasionally crashing into things, which create exponentially more and smaller debris.

All these little pieces are not gently floating around us in a Hollywood version of zero gravity. They’re moving at incredibly high speed. Millions of tiny pieces of shrapnel, which we know will inevitably cause damage to the satellites and the things in our orbit that we view as important and useful. Like HBO.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Public Display of Costco Shopping

Since you, my internet friends, seem to really enjoy it when I embarrass myself in public (like here or here), allow to me to share this precious nugget of humiliation. I have a good friend who speaks a couple of languages and she says that occasionally she gets "ESOL brain" and the words just come out wrong. That is not my problem, however, because I'm a jackass who only speaks English and apparently not that well.

So my multi-lingual friend and I were at Costco today and she very wisely was like “We should see if they have any of those skirts.”  Well of course we scampered right over to the clothes section because Costco yoga skirts are legitimately the best thing ever. 

Note: It should already be evident that my friend and I are neither "fancy" nor "fashionable" nor "cool". Anyone who gets excited about Costco skirts needs to know that about themselves. We are aware.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

40 Examples of 4th Quarter Parenting

It’s the end of the school year and I’m so done. Except I’m not done because unlike most of you lucky devils who are finishing up this week, our schools won't release the Krakken for four more weeks. 

The accumulated exhaustion from doing the exact same tasks again and again and again, combined with spring sports insanity and all of the end of year “celebrations” just becomes too much. 

In September, I was a shining example of good parenting. Now I am reduced to giving my children random slices of cheese on a torn paper towel for breakfast. I call this phenomenon Fourth Quarter Parenting. I want to be a shiny, happy, awesome mom but I just can't do it. I'm too tired. There are too many things at this stage of the school year. Sorry.

via GIPHY

As it turns out, I’m not alone. I shared a few examples of #4thQtrParenting on my Facebook page and got hundreds and hundreds of comments in response that had cracking me up. As usual, it is proven that the people who read my blog are about a million times funnier than I am.

Here are 40 examples of #4thQtrParenting:

Monday, May 8, 2017

Five Ways to Help Kids Deal with End of the Year Stress

The end of the school year is rough around these parts. Between Teacher Appreciation week, end of year celebrations, sports tournaments, and Spring concerts, I am begging for mercy by the end of May. And let us not forget that I still have work, bills to pay, and a household to manage. I feel overwhelmed trying to keep too many balls in the air. 

Sometimes the stress of everything makes me forget that it’s equally hard for my kids. They have all the social, academic, athletic, and domestic expectations they normally deal with and this time of year they also have the added pressure of lots of standardized testing. 

My three kids respond to this stress in different ways. One is an anxious worrier, one is a perfectionist, and one toughs it out until the pressure boils over and there's a massive meltdown. Not everything works for all kids obviously, but I have a couple of things in my bag of tricks to help make this time of year easier.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Flashpoints: Teens, Mental Health and Drinking


Image from Wikipedia
For the past two months, one branch of my extended family tree has been dealing with the fallout of many years of addiction and mental health problems that seem to have started in adolescence. It culminated in a crisis at the beginning of January. 

The people involved are not close to my children, but they are close to my heart. I had a choice to make when all of this blew up a few weeks ago. I could let my kids think that I was being moody and emotional for no good reason. I could make up a story resembling the truth to explain what was going on with me and why I was spending so much time on the phone and in tears. Or I could just tell them the truth.

I decided there was really only one course of action, because keeping deep, dark secrets from them feels anathema to me. Especially when there is a lot to learn from the situation. 

There are so many reasons why kids, teenagers and alcohol don't mix. We could talk about how they metabolize alcohol differently than adults. We could talk about how cognitively kids and teens are already hardwired to be impulsive and how intoxication leads to dangerous choices at worst and embarrassing ones at best. But it goes way beyond all of that when the kid who is drinking has depression or anxiety, or perhaps something more serious that hasn't yet fully materialized (bipolar, schizophrenia, a predisposition to addiction, etc.). That decision can be life altering. 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Why is it so warm in February??

Six random outcomes related to the bizarrely warm February weather we're currently experiencing: 
(1) Children are all wearing shorts. I consider wearing shorts. My shorts have all mysteriously shrunk one size since last summer. Curious.
(2) Dogs suddenly begin to shed enough fur to make entirely new dogs, every day. Vacuum cleaner breaks.
(3) Pre-pedicure wearing of flip flops occur, also known as the "Baring of the Hooves"
(4) Laundry forgotten in washing machine grows the stink in less than one day.
(5) Restless and antsy children who want to eat all of the food (and then ask for a snack five minutes later).
(6) First time it has actually made sense to walk into Target in February and see tank tops and sandals everywhere. WHY DID I EVER DOUBT YOU, TARGET?

(c) Mommyland Blogs 2013-2017

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Monday, February 13, 2017

IT FINALLY HAPPENED.

Please note: If you ever run into me, there is a 90%
chance it will be at Target & that I will be wearing jeans
and a black shirt to hide my boob stain from my coffee.
Well, everyone, my greatest wish as a blogger has finally come true: I am getting paid to shop at Target and write about it. The timing could not have been better either, because the week that the very special and important product (Persil ProClean) became available nationwide at Target was also the week that my family got hit with the flu. 

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the third most annoying thing about the stomach flu is the amount of laundry it creates. Laundry is not one of my skills as an adult human under the best of circumstances and a norovirus outbreak in my house is definitely not normal. So let’s just say I got to test Persil ProClean under some high-stakes circumstances. I’m delighted to tell you that it worked really well, which is a huge relief because I have never wanted to a sponsored post to work out more in my life.

Once someone in my house gets sick enough that we’re elevated to code yellow “sick day” status, I usually end up in one of two places - the pediatrician’s office or Target, often both. Otherwise, I can be found at home in my stretchy pants, snuggling and watching Netflix with the small invalid in question. So once I realized what was going on in my house, I made a list and headed out to get provisions. 

Here is my list:

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