Hollow Tree Ventures parenting humor
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We Are Not The Poshes

You know what I love?
Kit Kats?  Long walks on the beach?  When the kids brush their teeth and don't leave streaks of toothpaste spit in the sink?
Yes, I love all those things, but what I'm referring to here are those rare moments when you know, beyond a doubt, that you are completely understood by another soul on this Earth.

Bonus points if you're married to that person.

I know stories about the school year are so last week,  what with summer in full swing for so many of us, but I forgot to tell you this and it was such a moment of Perfect Marital Unity that I had to share.

About a millionty years ago I wrote about Posh Mom, our local resident perfect-o mom.  I saw her every day in the school yard while we waited for our children, her very presence mocking my inadequacy as a mother and as a woman.  Her hair was trimmed each night by benevolent pixies as she slept, into a style that achieved a magical combination of flirtatious and sophisticated.  Her clothes were trendy but age-appropriate (and probably even clean), and she was back to a size 6 twenty minutes after giving birth to her third child.  What made it even worse was that, try as I might, I couldn't even hate her because she seemed like she was probably really nice, though I wouldn't know firsthand since I don't talk to strangers, make small talk of any kind, or develop new friendships.
Except on the innerwebs.  You guys are so much less annoying and scary than real life people.
Anyway, Posh Mom was, naturally, at the First Grade Final Project Presentation Extravaganza one evening at the school, since Zoe and Posh Mom's son (the miniature Brad Pitt look-alike) are in the same class.

"My Community Around the World is Italy.  Italy is on the
continent of Europe.  It is about the size of..."  Oh dear God, will I
ever get that damn presentation un-memorized???

Her two boys were there, wearing matching sweater vests and clip-on ties - painfully adorable.  Of course she was casually stunning in her wrap top and Jackie O sunglasses, chatting it up with the other moms as I observed through binoculars from the other side of the planet.

Gerry and I were just about to go see some of the other kids' presentations (they were being done open-house style instead of up on stage) when he elbowed me.

He nodded in the direction of a guy who was listening to Zoe's speech.  The man's hair was impeccably styled, though seemingly without the use of any hair products.  He had on some funky, expensive-looking shoes, paired with flawlessly distressed jeans and a snug v-neck T-shirt.  He was listening intently to Zoe's every word, asking thoughtful, appropriate questions while holding a tiny baby wearing what was probably a Louis Vuitton headband.

Gerry leaned in closely to me and whispered, "That's my Posh Dad."

I smiled, appreciating the reference to a blog post that most husbands would have forgotten about long ago.

But then I realized that he wasn't just talking about my post.  There was a lack of recognition in his eyes that told me he really meant it - he felt the same way about this guy as I did about Posh Mom - because he said that without even knowing the truth.   Feeling closer to him than ever, I leaned over and told him what I'd thought, at first, he already knew.

"That's Posh Mom's husband!"

We snickered together like dorky school kids over the discovery of our Posh Couple Counterparts.  Then we went to listen to Perfect Mini Brad Pitt give his presentation, where we learned that Posh Dad just got back from China (they're world travelers - what a shock) and that Posh Dad's brother was the gentleman standing nearby, the one who appeared to have just arrived from his Ivy League fraternity house and managed to look hip while carrying a European leather man-purse.

Gerry and I just exchanged knowing looks.  We may not be posh, or stylishly dressed, or showered, or have magical haircuts.   But we have each other, our insecurities and imperfections perfectly matched, and that's even better than a stack of Kit Kats.

Which is saying a lot.  You know how I feel about Kit Kats.

1 click below equals 1 vote!  Thanks!
Now tell me - do you have a Posh Mom or Dad in your life?  Also, do you know of a large hole we could bulldoze them all into?
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P.S. You guessed it - I'm still on vacation.  Rest assured, if I haven't found regular access to the innerwebz by now, I've likely been hospitalized for withdrawal.  So if I don't respond to your lovely comments right away, please know it's not because I love you any less - it's because I'm busy trying to break out of the hospital armed with nothing but a plastic sand bucket and the ability to blind people with the sight of me in a tankini.

I hope you enjoyed yourself while you were here - and I hope you come back! Please share inappropriate giggles with me on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, or subscribe via email so you don't miss a thing!

Yahoo! for divorce

In case you didn't hear the news, which is being broadcast 24 hours a day via the girlish scream inside my head, I got an article published on Yahoo! Voices - yup, that's right, a real life grown up article!

Because I was strutting around at home as if I'd just single-handedly invented the written word, it wasn't hard to discern that Something Was Up, not even for a 10 year old boy with his face buried in a video game.

Gerry explained my behavior by telling the kids, "Your mom got an article published today!"

"Really?  What's it about?" Jake asked.

Gerry quickly responded, "Well, it's an adult topic - you can read about it when you're older."

Without looking up, Jake nodded knowingly and said, "Oh, is it about karate chopping your son repeatedly on a daily basis?"

No, Smartypants, it isn't (not yet,  she says, making notes for future article), but it sounds like I'm going to have to change my standard threat from, "I'm gonna karate chop your head" to something else - maybe, "Don't make me bust my foot on your rear," or something.  I'm open to suggestions...

Actually, the article is a glimpse at the story behind my divorce and (since they're somewhat related, if you hadn't already gathered as much) the story of how Gerry and I got together.

Of course you know how super-wordy I can get (I've heard some people may call it rambling), so it was hard for me to rein in my typing fingers and adhere to the length requirements.
Must add more details,  begged my fingers as they tippity tapped the keyboard.

Must stay under 750 words, you idiots, my brain scolded as she forced them to use the delete key against their will.
But the article does give the bones of the story, and writing it inspired a desire to flesh it out - gory details and all!  And maybe I will - who doesn't like gory details?  But first things first - I hope you'll still be my friends after reading the article.  It's true, I'm not a saint, contrary to popular belief.

What do you mean  no one thinks that???

Please click the banner below (I heart your votes!) and then, if you're so inclined, take a look at my Yahoo! article - if you're still speaking to me when I come back from vacation next week, and if anyone gives a rat's patooty, maybe I'll write some future posts about our little love story, a.k.a. Why We're Going To Hell But It Was Worth It.
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I hope you enjoyed yourself while you were here - and I hope you come back! Please share inappropriate giggles with me on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, or subscribe via email so you don't miss a thing!

Feeling the Love

Awww, yeah (she said in her Barry White voice), I am really feeling the love.

That's right - it's that time again - time for some Sponsor Love.

Below are some of the current members of Team Cool Kids, which was founded based on the undeniable notion that people who support the nonsense churned out on HTV are wicked super awesome incredibly cool.  We even have a team jersey.

No, I'm not pointing to my boobs, I'm showing off my Team Cool Kids shirt,
as well as the fact that the box Maddie plays in is still prominently displayed
in our living room, and also I need to wash my hair, and also I took this
photo myself because I have no friends, possibly because of the hair.
Giving people the Crazy Eyes while wearing the shirt, as pictured, is optional.

Yous guys (now apparently I'm using my NY cabbie accent) can pick up a jersey for yourselves, and/or add a link to your own blog, Etsy shop, or small business right over there on the left sidebar, where it can lounge around all day, burping and scratching its crotch or jumping up and down in a skimpy top.  As if that's not enough attention for it, I'll even tell people all about it for you in case it gets tired of all the skimpy top jumping.

Now, on with the show!

Confessions of a Semi-Domesticated Mama is the home of Delilah, who will simplify your hectic summer lives with weekly menu plans and make you fall out of your chair laughing at the stories she tells (like this one, where she exposes her husband's fear of rodents and ends up eliciting some "anatomically impossible threats").  If you haven't checked out her blog yet, WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU?  I'm just kidding... but seriously, is there something wrong with you?  Get to know Delilah in her letter to her teenage self, which kicks off her summer guest post series (I get to play along, too, so you can read my letter to 16-year-old Me next month)!

SParklingArt is Sarah's jewelry shop.  You might remember in May when I told you that she's not only willing to be seen with me in public in real life, but she also has given me various pieces of jewelry throughout the years, including some earrings that I was too lazy to take pictures of at the time.  Well, I'm still to lazy to take new  pictures, but I did make you this collage of old  pictures in which I'm sporting their loveliness.

It is important to note that Sarah's jewelry will not  make you act like an idiot, as these photos might suggest; I manage that all on my own.  I would also like you to note that clearly I had no idea at the time these were taken that I would need to use them one day on a blog that didn't even exist at that point, as evidenced by my unabashed dorkiness, but I published them anyway, which just goes to show how much I heart Sarah and her sparkly little treasures.

So click on over to visit my sponsors, get some giggles, order some reasonably priced custom-made delightfulness, and tell them I sent you!

If you'd like to join Team Cool Kids and add your button (I can help you make one, if you don't have one yet), just visit my Sponsor page (DO IT). The ads come in two sizes, Super Awesome and Wicked Super Awesome, so there's something for everyone. PLUS, right now you can use promo code HTV50OFF and get half off for your first month as a sponsor!

Please click below - one click is one vote - then become one of my favorite people in the history of people by becoming a sponsor today!
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P.S. I'm still on vacation, and I'm not sure if I'll have access to the innerwebz (and yes, I'm totally freaking out about that). So if I don't respond to your witty comments right away, please know it's not because I don't miss you like crazy - it's because I'm busy peeling my new sunburn.

I hope you enjoyed yourself while you were here - and I hope you come back! Please share inappropriate giggles with me on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, or subscribe via email so you don't miss a thing!

She Doesn't Want To Shoot Me

I took Zoe with me to the grocery store last week, because she and her brother were leaving the next day to go to a remote cabin with their dad. Their dad hadn't decided yet how long he was going to stay out there in the wilderness with my tiny babies, because the length of the trip would be determined by how long two school-agers could withstand the boredom of being in the woods where there's limited electricity and you have to pump your own water.

My guess was ten minutes.

However, that didn't keep my Motherly Instinct Gland from secreting all kinds of Worry Sauce onto my brain, which reacted by conjuring up uber-realistic images of my sweet darlings being trapped in the cabin by ravenous wolves and rabid bears for weeks on end, with nothing to eat but two gummy bears and a Slim Jim.

So, to make my Motherly Instinct Gland shut up, I decided I'd let the kids pick their favorite ingredients and we'd mix up a huge batch of trail mix for them to take on the trip. That way, the wolves would have something to snack on while the bears ate the kids. Or something. It sounded like a good idea at the time.

In the car, of course, since this is me we're talking about, I realized I'd forgotten our shopping list. Zoe was trying to help me reconstruct it from memory.
Me:  I know neither of you wanted raisins.
Zoe:  Nah.
Me:  Well, what was  on the list?
Zoe:  I don't remember...
Me:  What were those crackers you mentioned? Duos, or something like that?
Zoe:  Oh yeah!
Me:  I've never heard of those before.
Zoe:  I'll recognize the package. They probably have them at Walmart...
The girl is always trying to get somebody to take her to Walmart.
Me:  No, I think we can get everything we need at the grocery store. It's closer than Walmart, anyway.
Zoe:  Okay. Besides, I don't want to have to shoot you.
Me (swerving back onto the road):  I'm sorry, WHAT?
Zoe:  Remember the last time we were there, and you were all mad, and you said if you ever told us you were gonna go back to Walmart, to shoot you first?
In my defense, Walmart is stupid, and I don't know anyone who has ever set foot in there without swearing they'll never go back.
Me (laughing):  I can't believe you remember that.
Zoe:  I can't believe I can remember that, but I can't remember what I wanted in my trail mix.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who's ever muttered things under their breath about Walmart that their kids accidentally heard - am I???
1 click below = 1 vote = 1 happy non-shot mama
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I hope you enjoyed yourself while you were here - and I hope you come back! Please share inappropriate giggles with me on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, or subscribe via email so you don't miss a thing!

I Need A Vacation From Packing For Vacation

I know, more of my First World Problems.
Boo hoo, Robyn's having trouble preparing for a week-long lake vacation with her family.
She has so many possessions she can't find the ones she needs under the piles of her other possessions.
She doesn't like the way she looks in her swimsuit, despite access to swimwear fabrics developed using space agey NASA technology.
Hey, don't mock me.

But seriously, I'm looking forward to a week of relaxation A) because our whole family doesn't get to be smushed together in confined areas very often anymore and 2) I'm sick of packing.

It started, as packing usually does, with a mad dash to get all the laundry done and then shove it into suitcases (okay, plastic trash bags) before people could excitedly proclaim, "Hey, I haven't seen these shorts since the Nixon administration," and then give me another fourteen loads of laundry to do.  Unfortunately, I can't do laundry right, so it takes an extra long time.

Hollow Tree Ventures
Multi-tasking fail: Take clothes out of dryer. File papers while waiting for washer to fill with water. Return to finish laundry, put clothes in washer. Realize they're THE CLOTHES I JUST TOOK OUT OF THE DRYER. *smacks forehead*

As of today, everybody has to wear pajamas and Christmas socks until it's time to leave for vacation, because I'm NOT doing any more laundry (unless I accidentally wash some more clean stuff).

Eventually I got all of Zoe's double-clean clothes together and felt quite smug for being almost finished with packing 1/4 of the people I need to pack for.  But that right there was another Classic Packing Blunder - I assumed I was almost finished with a task.

I thought that the hard part was gathering the clothes, remembering underwear, and not dropping the baby while reaching for things on high shelves in the closet, all while avoiding meltdowns from the packee about what terrible wardrobe choices I was making on her behalf.  The only thing I had left to do was scoop everything up and deposit it into her backpack, right?
When I located the backpack (already lost under her bed even though school just ended about 20 minutes ago), can you guess what I found at the very bottom of it?  I'll bet you can.  That's right, I discovered a solid inch-thick layer of silver glitter, in which plastic coins, erasers, and hair clips were embedded like fossils in sedimentary layers recording the history of her first grade experience.

Not wanting her clothes and everything else in the known universe to get coated in stripper tinsel, I lugged the backpack to the trash can to dump it out.  Except glitter doesn't "dump out" - instead, a whole heaping lot of it flutters all over the kitchen floor, and the rest remains adhered to the backpack interior.

So I cleaned up the floor, got the vacuum, and proceeded to Hoover the bag.  15 minutes into Operation I'd Rather Just Blast This Bag With A Blow Torch, I was STILL seeing new shiny flakes every time I looked at it from a different angle, so I furiously shook the bag over the carpet where it would be easier to vacuum.  This was the precise moment the baby chose to cruise by and instantly become coated in a gaudy silver crust.
Why is it that, although glitter itself is not sticky, it sticks to everything it touches with a permanent bond rivaling that of construction adhesive?
At that point I decided, Forget it - we'll just be the tacky glitter family at the beach this year.   So I abandoned hope of sparkle removal and moved on to Phase 18 of packing - torturing myself with spandex.

My eyeballs are still recovering from the trauma, despite full frontal tankini coverage with "tummy control."  I don't "often" put things in "quotes" because I think sometimes people "use them wrong," but rest assured they're being aptly used in this scenario, in the sense that there was no tummy control going on.  The tummy was obviously in charge of the situation.  Well played, tummy.  Well played.

And that's where we stand.  I continue to think of things I should pack faster than I can find them (like the swim diapers I've had since Jake was a baby, which I kept because they're so expensive and apparently it was more economical to bring them with me the last three times I've moved, so I'm gonna be sincerely peeved if I leave them at home when I finally have an opportunity to use the stupid things after storing them for ten years ).  To show you how serious I am about needing to finally get cracking and wrap this packing stuff up, I'm not even going to proofread this post.  I bet it's all rambly and unreadable and full of typos, and I'm sorry about that, but has anyone seen my beach towels?

Please click the banner below to vote!  And keep coming back next week, when I won't be here but I'll continue to have new posts through the magic of technology, assuming they auto-publish correctly.  If you don't yet, consider following me on facebook and twitter where I plan to post updates of the dumb stuff Vacation Me does, provided they were just joking about one of the amenities at the lake being an internet connection TWO MILES AWAY.  Gah, we'll be living like cave people.  Glittery cave people.  Add that to the list with my other First World Problems. ::stifles sob::
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I hope you enjoyed yourself while you were here - and I hope you come back! Please share inappropriate giggles with me on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, or subscribe via email so you don't miss a thing!

I am Mama Bear

When I was young, I was afraid of pretty much everything.

My closet was filled with scary stuff, including a cardboard box on the top shelf that I knew  was a cardboard box, yet somehow it turned into a severed head every night as soon as the lights went out.  There was also a monster that lived under my bed and ate boogers, which was a lot more terrifying at the time than it sounds now.
Worst. Mascot. Ever.

Once, my brother and I were going through my mom's purse (looking for cash and drugs, no doubt) and we found a Noble Roman's pizza coupon with a picture of their mascot on it.
Have you seen  their spokesperson?  It's a horrible, pizza-themed monster, to which I say, "WHYYYYYY?"   The thing looks like the illegitimate, evil spawn of Grover and Snuffleupagus, with all the childhood horror of Ronald McDonald mixed in, and it was even worse circa 1979 because, as I recall, his nose was a gleaming, razor-sharp pizza cutter back then instead of whatever vegetable it's supposed to be now.
Anyway, my brother, being a typical big brother, told me that the Noble Roman's monster could slide off the coupon and come to life, which sounded about right to me, so I ran to my room and hid under the covers where I remained until I was about 23 years old.

In my slightly-older-but-still-young years, I was no longer afraid of the Noble Roman's monster, though I continue to object to him just on general principle because his existence flies in the face of humanity and common decency.  However, I remained frightened of other, more Grown Up things.

I lived with the certainty that there was someone perpetually crouched behind my shower curtain, ready to pounce the moment I was distracted and searching for my lost contact lens in the sink.  Similarly, secret ninja kidnapper Jason Voorhees wannabes lurked under cars in parking lots, waited in the bushes while I fumbled with my house keys, and were surely the source of every creak and rustle that punctuated the silence as I tried to fall asleep.

What a bunch of jerks.

But then came my even-older-but-still-relatively-young-in-retrospect years.

Those were the years when I became invincible.

Suddenly, instead of cowering under the sheets, I would get up out of bed wielding a baseball bat or small shiv, and investigate every nighttime noise.  No more skulking through parking lots - I began to walk with my head held high, keys protruding from my fingers like jagged brass knuckles, just daring  some punk to pop out from behind a Volvo and stumble into my eye-gouging fists of fury.  I mentally rehearsed upper-cuts and flying scissor kicks and combo moves that would make Chuck Norris look like Betty White taking a nap, with no doubt in my mind whatsoever that I could execute these impressive feats of agility and butt-kickery at a moment's notice.

Why, you ask?  What was so different all of a sudden?

Those were the years when my babies were born.

As soon as I became a mother, I was no longer the child in need of protection from the monsters under her bed.  I became the Mama Bear - a growling, ferocious beast a million times more terrifying than any imaginary foe.  Nothing - no sneaky tiptoeing burglar, no shadowy parking lot, no unlit figure in the shower stall, NOTHING - was going to threaten my fuzzy little cubs.  My love for my kids and that protective instinct gave me strength and bravery that nothing else in my life ever had.

I knew I was a mother when I stopped being afraid of the dark.  Then I started thinking about my babies crossing the street, and skinning their knees, and the possibility of their hearts being broken someday - and I started being petrified of pretty much everything else.

Mama’s Losin’ It
I'm linked up today with Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop, responding to the prompt, "You know you're a Mom when..."

Please click the banner below - that's all it takes to vote!
Do it because you heart the blog, or because you're scared of my lightning-fast reflexes and roundhouse kicks to the head... either way.
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"Oh, grow up," says the baby.

Is there a better toy in the known worldiverse than a largish, empty box?
That wasn't a rhetorical question.  The correct answer is no.
Okay, I suppose it depends on who you ask.  When Gran got us a new car seat and Gerry cut some windows in the box, Maddie seemed to really enjoy her new cardboard dream house.  For a minute.

"Yeah, this is okay.  It could use a deck and
a better view and an indoor pool, but it's a good start."

But babies get bored pretty easily.  I don't mean to say they get bored with electrical outlets or smacking the cat in the face, I mean they get bored with stuff you want  them to pay attention to, like super-fun boxes and eating their food and doing your taxes for you.

"Hmm, I can't seem to get outta here this direction."

So I swooped in to rescue her.  I don't know what she was complaining about - it was good times in there.

"No offense, Mom, but it's a little crowded now, with your whole
gigantic self in here.  And, ahem, can I offer you a Tic Tac or something?"
"That was not  your cue to kick me out," says the baby.
Please note that I'm taking the action photos while Gerry captures the aerial views.
Because no dorkiness goes undocumented in my house.
Also, I told  you I never wear real pants.
"Seriously?  You're staying in there?"
"Daddy, please try to keep your woman in check.
Is there nothing you can do about this situation?"
"Gah, you KNOW that isn't what I meant by "handling it"!"

Okay, okay.  Your immature parents will let you play with your dumb box; geez, don't be such a baby.

"Finally!  Huh.  Well.  ...Oh yeah, I forgot - this is lame."

One click below is one vote - stay tuned to find out if I'll ever grow up!
(Spoiler alert: I won't.)
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I'm linked up with...
 then, she {snapped}NapTime MomTog

  babybabylemon  Angry Julie Monday 

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Time Marches On (and tramples my body)

I may be a great many things (hey, watch the name-calling), but at the same time, a lot of things I used to be are slowly slipping off the list.
Like young. And thin. And energetic.
Though I was warned my body would start to disintegrate around age 30 (which was, sadly, true), sometimes I get so used to living inside my own skin that I'm still taken by surprise when I realize something has stopped working.

Maybe because it's so gradual; it's not like you wake up one morning and you've completely lost your short-term memory, or you suddenly find yourself holding the newspaper at arm's length, complaining about how the type keeps getting smaller. It happens more slowly, like rusty, corroded gears, having bathed for many years in the brine of youth, grinding to a halt inside a hulking, creaky, outdated machine, your abilities slowly ebbing like a Sea of Usefulness intended only for the young.
What the heck is wrong with my Metaphor Production Gland today? Gah, that's probably the next thing to go.
Anyway, you get what I'm saying. Usually I don't think a whole lot about getting older, but the other day I got one of those undeniable, unignorable signs of aging.

Namely, I hurt my shoulder while I was peeing.

And no, I wasn't doing anything out of the ordinary or strenuous. And no, I do not plan on talking about urination in every single blog post, despite all evidence to the contrary. I don't know how on Earth I hurt myself, I think I reached for the t.p. too suddenly or something.

That's just the thing - when I was young and something hurt, there was a logical reason why. Ankle hurts? Oh yeah, I twisted it while I was running yesterday. Back hurts? Spent an entire weekend working in the yard. Face hurts? Fell down while drunk. Logical.

When you start to get old, you don't need a reason to be injured. Heck, you don't even have to move to hurt yourself, you can just wake up from a restless night of sleep and have a neck ache that lasts for two months and feels like burning hot coals are being stabbed into your spine by angry piranhas.

Here are some more signs that things are headed downhill:
  1. In the car I kept feeling something behind me, wedged between myself and the seat. As I irritably groped around for the cause of my discomfort, I discovered the issue was simply that my arm fat was chafing against my back fat.
  2. My mental faculties were called into question a few days ago when my toast popped up for breakfast, which prompted me to grab another piece of bread out of the bag and butter it while my toast sat in the toaster, getting cold.
  3. I heard a crackling noise in the stairwell; was it something under the carpet, or - God forbid - a critter scratching inside the walls? As it turned out, it was just the sound of the cartilage in my knees breaking into tiny pieces as I climbed the stairs.
But what can you do? Exercise, eat a healthy diet, see your doctor regularly?

Pshaw, that's for people with boring stuff like will power and health insurance. I prefer to just look on the bright side, which is completely free and takes a lot less effort.

For example: Sure, I managed to throw my shoulder out of whack just by slightly turning my torso in the bathroom. But at least I made it to the bathroom, which frankly isn't something I intend to take for granted as the years wear on and I begin to notice the Poise commercials are populated by women closer and closer to my own age.

And maybe I'm a little flabbier than I used to be, and maybe I do catch wind like a sailboat when I extend my arms out to the sides. But I'm proud to say that the coffee I sloppily dribbled down my chin this morning spilled onto the floor instead of onto my protruding belly, so either I'm getting my waist back or these pants are magical and I'm going to wear them every single day from now until forever.

And maybe my memory is failing, and I can't remember what I was doing while I'm still doing it, but that's the kind of skill that comes in handy as a parent. If I'm It during Hide And Go Seek, I'll wander off and end up getting 45 quiet minutes of solitude to fiddle with my Twitter feed before one of the kids comes out to remind me I'm supposed to be looking for them.

So all is not lost. I might be falling apart and absent minded and gaining weight in new, weirdly stretchy places - but I'm not quite dead yet. And when you're getting old, sometimes the "yet" makes all the difference.

1 click below = 1 vote
Go slowly - don't strain yourself - and then you just, um, what was I talking about?
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A Grand Waste of Cash

This title is supposed to be a play on words, as the marvelous Stasha has provided us with another great Monday Listicles prompt; this week she was kind enough to offer everyone an allowance of $1000 in exchange for nothing more than a list of the ten things we would spend it on.  I'm in!

I think a "grand" is $1000, thus the spectacularly clever post title, but I'm not cool enough to know all the kids' slang these days, like what quantities people are talking about when they say things like a "Benjamin" or a "sawbuck" or a "dime bag."  But you know what I mean.  Anyway, it turned out the $1000 was all HYPOTHETICAL (Can you believe it?), so I figure I can call it whatever I want.

As much fun as it would be to torment myself by imagining a fat wad of cash that I don't have and all the cool things I could've purchased but can't really, I decided instead to make a more practical list.  I'm a practical kind of gal, and I have a hard time getting excited about spending a lot of money on fancy stuff like handbags or personal hygiene products.  Besides, we all know that moms rarely get to spend any extra money in the budget on themselves - there's way too high a Mommy Guilt price to pay if you treat yourself to something special, and plus those dang kids are always doing inconsiderate stuff like letting their feet grow out of their shoes and needing school supplies.

So here are the ten things I would actually spend $1000 on right now (if I had it, which I don't, though I'll probably email Stasha a couple hundred more times just to make sure she hasn't changed her mind):
  1. Karate lessons for Jake, so he'll have an outlet for all the Air Kung Fu he's been practicing in the living room.  And on his sister.
  2. A stereo system loud enough to drown out the siren song of the ice cream truck (okay, that one might be mostly for me).
  3. A decorative 5-gallon teething bucket with a neck strap for the baby, because every time I give her something to chew on she drools like a Saint Bernard.  I'm pretty sure Babies R Us carries those.  If they don't, they should.
  4. New summer shoes for the kids, since I'm relatively certain Zoe's heels aren't supposed to touch the ground when she's wearing her flip flops.
  5. All the printer ink in the land, because I won't be able to resist printing all eleventy thousand photos I take of Madeline's roly poly baby legs sticking out of her tiny swim suit.
  6. An above-ground pool, of the plastic kiddie variety, because ohmygod  it's hot in our backyard and even six inches of tepid water would be better than nothing.
  7. A plumber to fix our outdoor spigot so we can fill the kiddie pool without waterlogging the foundation of the house, because sitting in a dry plastic backyard skillet is not all that refreshing.
  8. A suit of armor for the baby, because dressing her like a medieval knight will be easier than reminding the kids every ten seconds not to swing their yo-yos around over their heads like they're practicing for the Olympic hammer throw.
  9. A sno-cone machine - what a treat for the kids on a hot day!  Hmm, I hear you can also make sno-cones with wine... if you're into that kind of thing.  WHICH I AM.
  10. Whatever money is left over ($1.87) I'll tuck in the diaper bag so it'll be handy when we pass one of those quarter-operated cheap toy dispensers, because I can't leave the house anymore without seeing one of those stupid things and hearing all about how the kids are going to die if they can't have one of those stupid 25¢ trinkets, and even though they're a stupid waste of money sometimes you JUST DON'T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT IT ANYMORE!!!  Or maybe I'm the only one.
It's gonna be a great imaginary summer!

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P.S. That's a lot of exclamation points, so you know I'm excited! (!!!!)
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Believe It Or Not, This Counts As Praise

Father's Day is coming up, and I'd like to take a moment to talk about my wonderful husband, Gerry.  I'm just going to go ahead and jump right into it, since I can't hear you and therefore have to assume you're enthusiastically cheering and throwing your hats in the air in celebration.  So, here we go.

Contrary to popular belief, Gerry is not perfect.

Whaaaaaat?   you gasp in disbelief.  This is quite a fine Father's Day howdoyoudo.

Yeah, Mom.  Don't look now, but he's right... over... there!

Wait a minute, we're getting to the part Gerry's going to like.  Because I'm about to put something in print that I bet he's been waiting to see for a long time.  Get ready for it...
I'm not perfect either.
(Pause for shrieks and the sounds of breaking glass and distant police sirens and people rending their clothing to tatters.)

I know, I've pretty much based a whole blog on admitting I'm a hot mess on a stick, so in the blogosphere my little announcement probably isn't all that Earth-shattering.  But here in the Reality World of my house, it's a different story.

That's quite an understatement you have going there.

See, though Gerry and I have known each other for about (does math on fingers)  16 years, we spent the first 11 years as friends, too busy being stupid to realize we were in love the whole time.  And as friends, although we adored each other's kids, we weren't really paying much attention to each other's parenting styles.

If you think about it, there are an awful lot of personality traits that don't affect platonic relationships.  For example, parenting styles.  Financial habits.  Snoring.  How many months you prefer to leave the Christmas tree up in the living room.  These things don't matter all that much when you're just buddies, but they suddenly become kinda important when you step it up to a romantic-type situation.

We dove into our romantic-type situation like a couple of gropey teenagers at a drive-in, completely schnockered on a decade of repressed Love-With-A-Capital-L, but we found out that, in addition to all the ways in which we already knew we were perfectly suited for one another, our personalities were also well-matched in the areas that didn't matter so much during our friendship years.  We are both savers, not spenders.  We both sing like lunatics for no reason, changing the lyrics of popular songs to fit whatever mundane tasks we happen to be performing.  I try to fall asleep before he starts snoring.  And so on.

Oh God, the singing - it never stops.  You have no idea.

But then there's the parenting thing.
He thinks I'm more permissive than a sack of Suckers.
I think he makes up new rules at the rate of eleventy hundred per minute.*
I'm inconsistent, picking and choosing when I enforce rules based on how tired I am and whether or not I feel like it's a big deal at that particular moment.
Gerry considers almost every moment a Teaching Moment. 
We agree on a great many of the finer points, but sometimes this disparity causes Conflict, which occasionally requires a visit from Conflict's ugly cousin, Compromise.

I call Compromise the "ugly cousin" because I didn't have to deal with her very often in my Life Before Gerry.  I was doing the parenting, and I don't know if my decisions about child-rearing were even noticed  by any other adults, let alone questioned.   So now that I'm in a partnership with a person who actually voices opinions (How dare he?),  sometimes - SOMETIMES - I can dig my heels in and resist his perspective with a stubborn relentlessness I normally reserve for refusing to acknowledge the existence of the Kardashians.

Sometimes?  There you go with the understatements again.

Yet I respect his opinions, so eventually we come back around to this Compromise business, and really - it's not all that bad.  I've learned a lot from Gerry's parenting style, and he says he's learned a little something from me, too.

He makes a real effort to relax the rules and reduce the number of "no"s we dish out, which lowers everyone's blood pressure.  Meanwhile, I agree that it probably wouldn't kill the kids to have some chores around the house - ones that I actually make them do.

Plus, he's attentive, and really listens to their stories, whereas I send them off to play Who Can Leave Mommy Alone For An Hour.  He's the best  homework helper, long after I've screamed and given up and stormed out of the room in frustration.  He appreciates every second with the kids while I'm tying sheets together in an attempt to escape from an upstairs window.  He teaches them funny jokes and facts about the solar system, while I let them eat crumbs out of the carpet and get glue stick on the table and pretend not to notice when they're playing on the stairs.

We might not approach parenting from exactly the same mindset, but that's okay.  The kids get the benefits that come from both of our approaches.  We balance each other out well, and we both come out as better parents.

As long as he admits I'm right most of the time.

Just kidding.

Not really.

Happy Father's Day, Gerry!

Aren't they cute?  Maddie's such a clever little baby - she's sure that with just a few more lessons Daddy will be able to read.  Please click below to vote - 10% of all votes received today will go to a charity dedicated to thanking Gerry for putting up with me.
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*Please note that none of the above applies to Madeline.  She does what she wants.  We're just here to take orders and bring her things when she grunts.

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Meanie Head Jerk Faces

Ask anybody, including Bill Cosby - kids say the darndest things.

Little kids get away with a lot because their honesty is innocent, even when the words themselves are debilitatingly painful to hear.  I'm sure at some point I told you about the time, around 8 years ago, when my son sweetly said, "Mommy, your belly looks like the ones on TV... your belly looks just like Spongebob's  belly" (awesome - thanks, kid).  Then there was the time my daughter informed me that I look pregnant (unfortunately, that was just last week).

My point, other than the fact that I apparently need to work on my abs, is that they're little kids.  So when they insult me, it comes off as cute.

Sort of.

So here's my question: At what age does unfiltered honesty make the transition from "Aww, You're So Adorably Precocious" to "Hey, You're A Real Farking Jerk"?

It's pretty much universally understood that little kids are programmed to tell the Whole Truth long before they've developed the perspective to know when it's going to be offensive or hurtful.  That's why, luckily for parents, kids get a pass when they loudly inquire, "No fair - why does that fat lady get to ride a scooter inside?" right in front of the nice woman shopping for groceries in her Hoveround.

But c'mon, it can't last forever.  At some point it just becomes mean; those innocent truths get mixed up with people's own insecurities and ulterior motives and the influence of potentially crappy life experiences.  But by then, we're supposed to have developed empathy for other people, coupled with the self control required to refrain from indiscriminately spewing unsolicited information from our face holes.

Obviously, however, some people never  develop a verbal filter and continue to say whatever pops into their heads, even after they're old enough to know better.
These people are what we call "a-holes."
One time, when I was about twelve, I was laughing with a few of my friends and some kid about our age suddenly said to me, "You're a lot prettier when you don't smile."

Now, just what the hell is that supposed to mean?  It almost  sounded like a compliment.  But it wasn't.

The trouble was, no matter how many time I mentally repeated the old schoolyard chant about Stick and Stones, his words did  hurt me.  I thought about those words every time I smiled for a long time after that, and Lord knows the last thing an overly dramatic, hysterics-prone pre-teen girl needs is one more excuse not to smile.

One of the reasons I think it stuck with me was that, deep down, I already suspected it was true.  I'm over it now, but back then I was already a little self-conscious about my smile, and the stickiest words we hear are the ones that reflect our own thoughts, especially when they seem to confirm our own perceived flaws.

But the other reason I think it stuck was that I lacked the perspective that I have now.  At the impressionable age of twelve, I foolishly thought all Truths were equally true.  I still thought they were all Little Kids truths.
I didn't realize until years later that he was just an a-hole.
With age, thankfully, comes wisdom.  I smile all the time now.

And I don't pay any attention to what a-holes say.

Mama’s Losin’ It

This week's prompt from Mama Kat is:
"Share something mean someone said to you once; why has it stuck with you after all these years?"

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All that reaching and clicking is practically like exercise - my abs feel more toned already.
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