Adolescence: Now with Extra Embarrassment!

I'm thankful for a lot of stuff. Like ... my family. And my home. And pretty much everything else I have.

But you wanna know what I'm really thankful for? Like, really super thankful?

I'm thankful that social media wasn't around when I was young and doing embarrassing things.

I mean ... I suppose I share some pretty embarrassing stuff here on the blog. Like this. Or this. Or - ohmygawd - this. But the thing is, those are incidents I willingly and selectively share. After the fact, with the valuable benefit of hindsight.

It seems like almost every day my Facebook friends list or Twitter stream is fraught with angsty, drama-filled tweets and status updates from the teenagers and young adults (and, okay, some grown-ass people who should know better but don't). Tweets and status updates which, when they look back a year or two or three down the road, will probably make them think oh good Lord why did I even post that? You know the kind.

You can't fault them. They're a product of the social media age, where instead of furiously scribbling your anger out in a journal, you just post it in your online stream of consciousness. And I'm sooooo glad that wasn't an option for me as a kid. Take, for example, this actual diary entry from an eleven-year-old me:

Pepper Humperdinck* is going out with Bobby Frankenstein*. She writes "I heart Bobby" all over her notebook but she does not love him, she just wants a boyfriend to make her look cool because no one else is stupid enough to go out with her but Bobby and Pepper is a conceited SNOB SNOB.

*Names have been changed to protect the "stupid" and "conceited" (and also because some people who went to school with me still read this ... although trust me, guys, this probably isn't about you. Probably).

See? Had social media been around when I was eleven, I might have written something like that on Facebook, instead of in my diary. Wherein I also discuss things such as the mystery of "doing it" and "teen spirit! teen love! teen romance!"


It's bad enough that somewhere in existence, there is a cassette tape of my friend Jessica and I singing a lovely little ditty we called, "Does My Head Look Like a Chili Bowl?" ... with an intermittent clip of the boy next door whispering "ass ... holes ... live" into my tape recorder. Or one of my friend Beth and I - also known (to ourselves) as "The Bodacious Babes" - singing and rapping our preteen hearts out with the help of a sweet Casio keyboard. Songs with riveting lyrics such as, "Bert just stood there motionless like a piece of raw bacon."

Yes, really.

We called the radio station and played that tape over the phone, y'all. We actually, legitimately thought it was cool. So you know it would've ended up on Facebook - no, YouTube! - had it been an option. I am dying a little inside at the mere thought.

And pictures? That's a whole other ballgame. I shudder to think that gems like this are floating around printed out on actual paper:

That's caramel popcorn, not some weird mouth fungus.

I had a Polaroid when I was like ten and I would literally spend all my money on film and take dumb picture after dumb picture at sleepovers and stuff. And I was so proud of those dumb pictures. People sleeping, people chewing, people dancing like fools. And guess where they would have ended up, had it been a reality back then? Yeah. Facebook. Or Twitter. Or Instagram.

And I'm not even talking about the pictures and posts that would have accompanied my hard-partying late teens and early twenties, where I thought I was the shiz but in all actuality, indiscretion and completely moronic behavior ruled the day. Ugh.

So you see? If you're my age or older, you probably feel similar. We totally dodged a bullet, didn't we? Social media can be a tool (much like a few people I know) and I'm glad I didn't get to use it until I was actually a semi-responsible adult.

You can "Like" my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter or Instagram, where I swear I do not post (too much) ridiculous dramatic stuff.

I'm old-school, y'all. I save that for my diary.

Dear Boys: Perhaps You're Confused ...

Dear Boys:

We've gone over the importance of good toilet habits time and time again. (Remember the poem I wrote you, boys? Or the detailed tutorial?) And yet ... something's just not sinking in.*

*Unless you count the pee that's sinking in to the BATH MAT because somebody places no importance on aim.

Look. I don't want you to grow up to be disgusting men whose wives have to complain about their pee-pee problems. I want you to learn to do your business neatly. Frankly, I'm tired of cleaning up after you. There are FOUR of you, and you'll be in the house for roughly seventeen more years at a minimum. And the thought of scrubbing dried dribbles off the rim and the floor for seventeen-more-freaking-years is enough to make me start researching places to anonymously drop you off.

While I was trying to come up with ways to teach you proper toilet use that wouldn't get me arrested, thus eliminating my shock collar idea, I noticed something that might be misleading you. And I hope this will finally solve the problem.

You see, our toilet says "Mansfield."

When you break that down, it's two words: man's field. And because you're boys, there's just something about a field that makes you want to whip it out and go (you even attempt to pee outside at the park). But just because our toilet says Mansfield doesn't mean that particular area is where you pee, as lovely as it sounds.

Aim for the water.

While we're on the subject, our other toilet - the one your dad uses the most - says "Church."

It might be misleading him, too. Because it's not a place to meditate.

Now that we've gotten all this cleared up, I hope there are a lot fewer messes for me to contend with. (And in your dad's case, a lot less waiting around for my turn.)


Helping for the Long Haul

My friend Carrie has always been a helper. A giver. In fact, I met her through a support group she founded for grieving infertiles like me (back before I knew that someday, I'd become inundated with small boys). And when I was pregnant with Corbin, and lamenting that all of my baby boy things had been through the wringer? She mailed me a HUGE box of the cutest stuff - and when I say huge, I mean the thing weighed like sixty pounds. Plus a sweet handwritten card ... I think that you two not only bring fabulous children into the world but are some of the best parents out there. I'm so thankful that we got to experience the "broken" phase with you so that we can understand just how "whole" you are with Colin, Cameron, Coby and now Corbin!

Luckily for Carrie, her house and family were spared when one of the most destructive tornadoes we've seen ripped through Oklahoma recently. And that's also lucky for Oklahoma - because like I said, Carrie is a helper. She's been tirelessly orchestrating relief efforts since day one, and opening her home to people who no longer have a place for the graduation parties they'd planned.

This is the very high school her daughter was in during the tornado. Scary!

When I messaged her on Facebook to ask how I could help, she replied that what displaced Oklahomans need most is not stuff - that's pouring in - but donations to the Red Cross. Here's what she said:

It's so needed. Right now there is a lot but soon people outside of here will forget and the donations will dry up. The Red Cross will stay until we are done. I tell you Rita. I've seen this stuff on TV for years and it truly is nothing like being here. I can't even describe the horror of this area right now. There were pieces of cars wrapped in 25 foot trees like Christmas ribbon. HUGE trees look like they've been peeled like string cheese. I had to pull over and stop after I drove past Briarwood today. Horrific, decimation, obliteration, those are the words that come to mind but they are so inadequate.

I can't even imagine, can you?

Then a couple days later, she posted the following on Facebook, shared from the Moore Oklahoma Tornado Info page - it's got some fabulous ideas.

Two years ago this week Joplin, MO experienced the same tragedy as Moore, OK (and surrounding areas) did this past weekend. For the past two years Joplin has taken in tons of donations and is STILL rebuilding their community. There is so much love and community dedicated to those affected and everyone wants TO DO SOMETHING RIGHT NOW. And that is very understandable. But for a moment could we consider a few things?

Even though there are a TON of donations and help converging onto Moore right now, we need to consider the long-term. There is going to come a time (and I believe fairly shortly) that the city of Moore is going to ask that no more donations be sent to them because there will just not be the storage room or manpower to handle it all. What I would like all of us to think about is "what can we do for those affected when its time to start school again in the fall, what can we do for those affected at Thanksgiving time and then again at Christmas?" .... See, all of these folks will still need us 4, 6, 12, 18 months from now. We must not allow ourselves to burn out too soon so that in 6 months, we have nothing to offer to our friends who have been through so much.

Some ideas to consider:

* Start a "Back To School Supply Drive" -- consider everything a student would need to start a new year with a fresh start. AND this includes ALL THE STUDENTS, not just the ones that were injured as this affected all of them. Volunteers & Donations will be needed.

* Start working on plans for a "Community Wide Thanksgiving Dinner." Talk to local businesses, organizations and churches about helping coordinate such an event. Volunteers and donations will be needed.

* Start a "Christmas Toy Drive" -- Think about how in the world are parents going to provide a Christmas for their children after losing EVERYTHING. As a parent, wouldn't it be comforting to know that in 7 months from now you wouldn't have to worry about purchasing gifts and that out of love the local and surrounding communities provided for you and your family? This of course would include ALL the children. This could even turn into a "Adopt a Family" event. Volunteers and donations will be needed.

There is so much work to be done over the coming months and even years. Please consider being around to help the affected communities (ALL OF THEM IN OKLAHOMA) for the long haul. You will be needed then as you are right now. So, please, don't burn out your "giving spirit" too soon by wanting to do something "right now." We will need you tomorrow, next month and next year.

Thank you so much for the outpouring of love and support you have shown so far and we look forward to working with you all. When a neighbor, friend or family hurts, we all feel it and must do our best to be there whenever a need arises.

So. If your heart goes out to these families like mine does - please do what you can to help. Donate to the Red Cross right here, or donate $10 by texting REDCROSS to 90999. Or you can donate $10 to the Salvation Army relief efforts by texting STORM to 80888. Or you can do as the above info suggests and organize a toy or school supply drive for long-term relief!

The world needs more Carries. Let's see what we can do to help that, y'all!

That's Not a Mint, Moron!

Today I'm dusting off a gem that I first penned as a guest post on my friend Travis's HILARIOUS blog, I Like to Fish. If my opinion of his comedic genius doesn't influence you to go check him out, perhaps this photo of him will (he's the one on the right):

You're on your way to his blog right after this, right? 
I thought so.

Anyway. Please enjoy the story of how I almost made a complete fool of myself at a fancy restaurant. *curtsy*

I come from a small, rural Midwestern town. And by “small” I mean no stoplights, a couple of cops, less-than-40-people-in-my-graduating-class small. The cows far outnumber the residents. When you’re late getting somewhere, it’s because you were stuck behind a tractor. So you can imagine what a culture shock it was when I moved to … wait for it … Las Vegas.

I know. What’s a country bumpkin sweet small-town girl like me doing in big, crazy Las Vegas, right? Well, I blame the government. My husband Curtis was in the Air Force at the time, and the military stationed us there, at Nellis Air Force Base. So we called it home for three (very interesting) years.

When your beginnings are as backwoods redneck humble as mine, and you somehow end up in the presence of cosmopolitan, city-fied peeps, you end up doing a lot of pretending. Like, you see things that would normally make your mouth hang open, but you just act all nonchalant like, “Oh really? I didn’t even notice that one-armed prostitute kicking the crap out of the homeless guy with the NEED MONEY FOR BOOZE sign.” You pretend certain situations are old hat – even when they’re anything but – just to avoid looking like the na├»ve and un-worldly dork that you actually are.
Anyway, the reason I tell you this is because while we lived in Vegas, I landed a sweet gig writing for a local magazine that catered to the upscale. It was direct-mailed to the wealthiest households in town. I had a monthly feature called “Hotspot,” for which I got to review some of the fanciest, priciest restaurants in town. Awwww yeeeeahhh.

The very first time I did a restaurant review, I had no friggin’ clue what to expect – but I put on my most beautiful dress ($19.99 at Charlotte Russe, y'all) and hoped for the best. It was a little unnerving when the valet guy parked our (used) Jeep whose front passenger window may have been held up with pieces of wadded up paper jammed into the frame amid Ferraris and other pricey sports cars, but we went in with our heads held high like we always went to places like this.

When a restaurant knows you’re the person who’ll be reviewing them in a magazine, they pull out all the stops, which is all kinds of awesome. It took all the self-restraint I had not to jump up and down and squeal when I saw “VIP” penciled in beside my name in the reservation book. I mean, me? A VIP at a fancy restaurant? I laugh hysterically at fart jokes and can blow a snot rocket further than anyone I know (be jealous). If only they knew.

The meal was out-of-this-world. We ordered everything from appetizers to dessert – it was all free. I had scallops on a bed of illuminated rock salt and a frosty, multicolored martini that emanated wisps of “steam” from a chunk of dry ice. Fabulous. The executive chef even came to our table to chat, bringing with him a jaw-droppingly expensive platter of Kobe beef medallions, explaining how everything was prepared. And through it all, I was silently congratulating myself on appearing like I was accustomed to dining in such a luxurious establishment. 

Go Ri-ta, go Ri-ta.

At the end of the meal, our waitress brought a little squeegee over to the table and cleared off the crumbs. Then she put down a platter of mints. They reminded me of Altoids, just slightly bigger: white, round, compact little tablets.

I was just reaching for one of the mints when, to my horror, the waitress poured water over them. And then – it was amazing – those little “mints” magically transformed. Just a little water was all they needed to bloom into huge ... white ... 

... napkins. 
I had been thisclose to putting one in my mouth.

Let that sink in: I almost ate a napkin at a fancy restaurant, y’all.

To this day, I thank my lucky stars that I didn’t reach for the “mint” more quickly. I could have really made a major fool out of myself. I can just picture the entire restaurant of rich people laughing at me as a napkin exploded forth from my mouth. “Riffraff,” they’d say, and then throw me out on my impostor-ous posterior. (That’s rich-people words for butt.)

Gourmet meal at a fine dining establishment: $230

Not eating your napkin by accident: priceless.

PS - While I'm giving shoutouts to my friends, check out this sweet offer from my friend Emma, with Cultural Care Au Pair:

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Mundane Mother's Day!

So as you know if you a.) watch TV, b.) read the newspaper, c.) use social media, or d.) have - or are - a mom, yesterday was Mother's Day.

After my fancy champagne brunch and manicure, pedicure, and massage at the spa, I took a long, uninterrupted nap - then woke to a huge bouquet of flowers, a gorgeous and shiny new mother's ring, and sweet handmade cards from my children. Then we all went out to a nice dinner, where the boys were exceptionally well behaved and just couldn't stop talking about what a great mommy I am. When we got home, Curtis bathed the kids and put them to sleep while I took a bubble bath, slipped into bed, and got lost in a good novel.

Oh wait - that was my fantasy Mother's Day. Bahahaha! I'm lucky if I get to poop with the door closed on Mother's Day, let alone have that many luxuries crammed into one 24-hour period.

It might not have been full of celebration and pampering (side note: does anybody else hate that word? Pampering? It just reminds me of diapers), but my Mother's Day was actually pretty decent - if a little bit mundane. First of all, Colin has just learned to use the toaster, so he proudly made me breakfast in bed:

When I say "learned to use the toaster," I mean that he learned to put the waffle in and push the little handle down to get it toasting. I must have failed, however, to show him the dial that controls how brown you want your toast ... which is why my waffle was barely above frozen. But whatever. He used a mini cookie cutter to cut it into the shape of a heart (that's the stack at the top of plate) and wrote "MOM" in syrup.*

*Getting it all over the counter in the process and then trying to clean it up which resulted in a sticky mess with little bits of paper towel stuck throughout the syrupy smudge. Which I had to clean up later.

Curtis cleaned out our garage, which was so full of crap that it required an industrial-sized dumpster - so obviously, this is a task that's been on my "honey-do" list for quite some time. Meanwhile, I stayed inside and cooked a fat-girl lunch (fried morel mushrooms, collard greens and blackeyed peas, cornbread, and sweet tea - my country roots were showing, y'all) and put all the kids' winter clothes in storage for the season. Plus mediated a screaming, knock-down drag-out squabble over ... wait for it ... a plastic fork. And I did get to run to the store for milk and eggs without the kids.

Aw yeah.

While "my special day" may not have been over-the-top or extraordinary, it was productive, and that feels good. As always, I sent out an extra-special heartfelt prayer for those who are suffering from infertility and those who have lost their babies and those who have lost their moms. And Curtis came up to me while I was cooking and gave me a big hug and told me how much he appreciates everything I do for him and the kids.

That might've been prompted by the gargantuan midday meal I was preparing - I know the way to my man's heart - but hey. I'll take compliments (and cold waffles) where I can.

I hope you had a great Mother's Day!

(For more mediocre posts from Mother's Days past, click here and here.)

Don't Let the Flowers Fool Ya

If you've got school-aged kids, or are a teacher yourself, I'm sure you're aware that this was Teacher Appreciation Week.

I appreciate my sons' teachers immensely. Of course I do. After all, they take the kids off my hands every day are responsible for much of the kids' education. They put up with quirks that make even me grind my teeth. And they do it with a smile, while simultaneously dealing with twenty other quirky kids: something I could never, ever, ever, ever, ever - did I mention ever? - do. (And while being underpaid to do it? No thanks.)

Teachers, man. They're practically saints.

So last Friday we got a piece of paper from the school saying that for Teacher Appreciation Week, the kids should bring one item each day. Monday was candy. Tuesday was fruit. Wednesday was a handmade card. Thursday was office supplies. And today - Friday - was a flower.

Despite my mad pinning of cutesy crafty things on Pinterest, there was no actual cutesy craftiness going on up in here. Because Curtis was out of town all week and it was all I could do to feed and dress and bathe and clothe and attend to homework and such all by myself ... let alone do anything extra-fancy for the kids' teachers. If circumstances had been different, perhaps the big bags of Rolos I sent on Monday would have had, say, an adorable little card saying something like "You're On a Roll-O" or at least "Thanks for Putting Up With My Kid." Or the apples I sent on Tuesday would have had, like, ribbons tied around the stems.

But ... no.

This has been such a hectic week that I forgot, until this morning, that today was bring-a-flower day. Because, you see, it's also Beach Day in Colin's class and I was busy scraping together an outfit that's a.) beachy but b.) also works when it's fifty degrees and rainy because that's how it is today. And locating his sunglasses and a beach towel which was, for some reason, crammed inside the caddy that carries all my vacuum attachments. (WTF?) Anyway, that pretty much took up all of my mom-brain capacity this morning.

So when Cameron was like, "Hey Mommy! What's today's Teacher Appreciation gift?" and looked at me all eagerly, I was like, "........??" *blink blink*

Flowers. Must find flowers. 

Since it's spring, you'd think flowers would be easy to come by. But the flowers in my flowerbed aren't blooming yet because the weather has been a real asshole. I did swipe a few lovely sprigs of lilac from the park the other day (hey, it was a big bush, there were plenty), but they've long since withered.

Then my eyes fell on the bouquet on my kitchen table.

Weeks ago - I'm talking almost a month - Curtis went to the store one Saturday morning to pick up some ingredients for French toast, and he came back with a sweet little bouquet of brightly dyed flowers for me. To show you, and give you an idea of just how long these suckas have lasted, here's a picture of them from back when I wrote the play-dough post. Remember that? Yeah, these are some old flowers.

Unlike me, they look good for their age.

Anyway, the paper from school didn't say "bring your teacher a huge fancy bouquet of flowers." It simply said, "Flower." Indicating one single flower. So I grabbed my bouquet and picked out the freshest of the bunch. They were beginning to brown and curl a little bit on the underside, so I trimmed off the older petals. Good as new! ... Practically. For Colin's teacher, there was a big purple-and-pink bloom. It was like four inches across. For Cameron's teacher, three blue-and-white daisies.

So I shuttled them off to school. And when I pulled up in the dropoff lane, there were tons of other kids bringing flowers too.

Bouquets of flowers.

Big bouquets of flowers.

With ribbons. 

Curly ribbons.

And fancy tissue paper.

Probably no one else's kid brought used, month-old, single flowers that their mom trimmed the dead parts off of.

But hey ... I suppose it's better than nothing, right?

(Which is, coincidentally, what I sent yesterday because I wasn't going to drag four kids into the store to buy office supplies. Ugh. I'm such a horrible failure as a conscientious parent sometimes.)

I hope the boys' teachers know that despite the barrage of crappy gifts I've sent this week, we do appreciate them. Like, a lot. And that it's really the thought that counts. And that I was acting as a single parent this week and I'm losing my mind and I'm just not crafty and creative, dammit.

Maybe I'll write them a poem.

Pinterest Houses vs. My House: a Poem

The home of my dreams is immaculate, clean;
An abode where the rooms are all fresh and pristine. 
Free of all manner of cluttery hoards,
Like these that I've pinned on my Pinterest boards:

But when I was blessed with my bundles of joy,
It so happened that I received multiple boys.
Boys expertly generate dirt and debris
And couldn't care less where they aim when they pee.

So as far as a house that is lovely and gleaming?
It appears that I'll just have to keep up the dreaming.
'Cause the bedrooms are strewn with shirts, pants, and socks
And my counters are littered with wrappers and blocks.

The carpet, at one time, was kind of okay
But now all the beige is more of a gray.
With streaking and stains and dark patches galore
Thanks to the kids spilling crap on the floor.

And my bedroom? I'd love it all spruced-up and tidy,
But the presence of children and pets is too mighty.
The bed's stripped down right now, and I'll spare you the deets;
Let's just say somebody peed on my sheets.

Lest we forget, or blame it all on the kids,
Check out what my non-clean-freak husband just did.
He trimmed up his face-pubes all over the sink
Then "cleaned" it by "rinsing" (so he seems to think):

For the next eighteen years I'll be scrubbing and sweeping
And looking at Pinterest and bitterly weeping
It's pointless to wish, with the fam's constant sabotage ... 
Maybe I'll re-do my decor in camoflage?

Dear Boys: Don't Worry, Be Nappy

Dear Boys,

It's nap time. That means you are given the opportunity - nay, the encouragement - to go lay down and rest your drowsy little heads for as long as you want. The longer the better.

You're still whining about how terrible this is, and how you don't waaaaaant to naaaaaaap, and how it's not faaaaaaiiiir that grownups get to stay uuuuuuuuup. Perhaps you don't understand, so let me just clarify. YOU ARE FREE TO LAY DOWN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY AND SLEEP FOR HOURS IF YOU WANT TO. My sons, this is a gift I would give my right boob to have. Or no - my left one - it's bigger. Which should tell you just how serious I am.

Do you realize what an amazing thing naptime is? Apparently not, judging by the number of times you get out of your bed. ("Mommy, look what I can do!" *peels lower eyelids down*)

Let me tell you what Mom naps are like. When I take a nap - assuming there's even a few spare moments in my time budget, which 90% of the time there are not - it's a process, and not necessarily an enjoyable one. First I fight off the inevitable guilt: why should I even be considering a nap when there's so much to be done? Second, that aforementioned "stuff that should be done" goes undone when I nap. Which means it's waiting for me when I wake up, at which point I'm behind schedule. Third, the nap itself is less a peaceful descent into a gentle, refreshing slumber, and more a jerky start-and-stop train ride. I drift off, but wait - was that the phone? Drift off ... wha-? Did I hear the baby? Drift off again ... wake with a jolt when I think I've slept past however many minutes I've allotted myself. And I don't dare sleep on my comfy bed, for fear my exhaustion will put me into a deep sleep and I'll miss school pickup time which would create a whole new fiasco.

You, on the other hand, get to snuggle into a carefully-prepared nest of the softest blankets and fluffiest pillows. And if that's not enough, it might include soothing music and someone rubbing your back. You don't have to worry about a thing except for getting plenty of blissful, uninterrupted sleep. No work piles up while you're sweetly dreaming. And when you wake up, you get a snack. A snack! And a "thank you" for taking such a good nap.


Sometimes, maybe once every few years if we're lucky, we adults get this opportunity too. It's called a spa resort. And we pay out the nose for the very thing you get for free and take completely for granted.

So, boys, stop fighting the nap and embrace it. Embrace it for those of us who no longer can. Because trust me: someday, you'll realize how golden these unfettered naps really are.

Now shut up and go to sleep.

Love, Mommy


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