Thursday, July 24, 2014

I am guilty.

I spend a decent amount of time reading blogs and essays written by other moms. Moms who love their children as much as I do, moms who work just as hard, moms who would lay down their lives for their babies. Every mother can tell the story of each and every one of their babies - how they came to be, how they were born, and how they are loved. Sadly, so many mothers can also tell the stories of how their babies were lost.


Our world, as beautiful and wonderful as it is, is also relentless in its cruelty. Mamas should never lose their babies. 

I have not lost any of my babies and I feel such incredible guilt. Why do I still get to watch my children grow every day when another mother is forced to mourn her child? I am not better or more righteous than any mother. I do not deserve my children any more than anyone else. 

The other day I got to watch Munchkin as she rode her favorite horse, Thunder, during one of her weekly ride times. I don't often do this - always busy running errands or working - sometimes I sit in the car while she rides and play with my phone, calling it "me" time. My heart is always a little in my throat when she rides. She is fearless and beautiful and she amazes me as runs and sails over jumps. My head churns as I watch her. "Please don't fall. Please take care of my baby, Thunder. Please don't fall."  Because Mamas have lost their babies doing less dangerous things. 

A few months ago she was thrown off her horse and her head hit a tree. Her riding helmet cracked in the front, right where her frontal lobe is. She was a little bumped up, but otherwise fine, and just as I've always told her to do, she got right back on the horse. I'm thankful I wasn't watching her that day.

I watch all three of them take chances, they climb to the highest branch, swim past where the waves are breaking, fall off their skateboards, and do wheelies on their bikes. They are kids and they act just like kids are supposed to act. 

They are healthy, they are happy, they are smart. They have everything going for them and I feel like I hit the kid lottery with how great my babies are. They are all alive and I get to see them all every day. I get to listen to their problems and hug them and hold them and watch them grow. 

I am guilty and my heart aches for those mothers who don't get to hold their babies when they cry and don't get to watch them grow from babies to young ladies and men. Mine are healthy and happy and smart - and I am guilty.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Merry Go Rounds, Rusty Slides, and Polar Cups

(This post is inspired by a post from Jenny From The Blog.)

I'm pretty sure our population is only going to get stupider.

We're defying Darwin with all of our idiot proofing ways and in the next few generations I'm fairly sure we're going to have a bunch of morons bumbling around the planet knocking their heads on sharp corners and falling off of curbs.

My kids don't know what a merry-go-round is. When I mentioned a merry-go-round, they thought I was talking about a carousel complete with horses and benches and lights and music.

Carousels are boring, y'all.

You know what's not boring? A merry-go-round.


Think back to when you were a kid and you played on one of these babies. It was made out of hot metal that had been baking in the sun and you had to pull your shorts down a little and sit all funny on it so none of your bare skin touched the metal and gave you 3rd degree burns. If you were lucky, you had a cool adult with you who would push it really hard and you'd cling to the bars to avoid flying off and going airborne only to get a mouth full of playground sand (because we had sand, not mulch or AstroTurf or bouncy rubbery crap made from recycled tires).  If you didn't have an adult with you (because lots of times you were at the playground without an adult - this happened), you might convince another kid to push it, but mostly you'd get it going as fast as you could and then you'd fling yourself on to the hot, dirty surface and ride it until it stopped - eyes closed, head bobbing around, stomach reeling - it was pure joy.

When I was a kid, the playground was not the reason we were at the park, either. We were at the park because of some family function. Probably a picnic or a BBQ and the reason I was at the playground was because I bugged my parents until one of them said "go play"... and I did.

Sometimes my dad and older sister would play tennis at one of our local parks and I'd go along just to play on the playground. I would walk unsupervised to a playground in this park that was so surrounded by trees and foliage that no one would have ever seen if I had been kidnapped.  I would swing and slide and merry-go-round, usually without an adult in sight, for as long as I could.  And then my dad would take us all to go get a Polar Cup.

You wish you could have a Polar Cup right now.

But I have digressed.

I survived merry-go-rounds and rusty geodesic domes and broken slides and playgrounds where no adult was present. Because I wasn't an idiot. I knew that I could get hurt so I didn't do stupid stuff that would get me hurt. I didn't try to surf the merry-go-round by standing on the handrails and telling another kid to spin it. Other kids did, I watched one break his arm once. We all learned a valuable lesson that day.

But now our kids play on cushioned playgrounds coated with nerf and rubber. There are no sharp edges and no rusty nails and no surfaces that will burn their precious skin. Our homes are baby proofed and our lids are child proofed and our 5 year-olds are riding to kindergarten in car seats.

Every 12 year old has a cell phone and we'd rather they stay inside playing video games after school than ride their bikes to the neighborhood park without us watching their every move. We hover and fret and if they fall we're right there to pick them up and dust them off and kiss their booboos.

And they're growing up to be wimps.

But if you try to fight it, if you try to let your kids have that freedom to learn and grow and fall down and pick themselves up, you're shamed and judged. Or worse, some other parent does it for you. As if the worst thing in the world is my 10 year-old out riding his bike while I'm at home folding his laundry.

It's time to cut the umbilical cord and let our babies go, y'all.









Monday, July 7, 2014

Things I learned from Facebook today

Did you know you can make homemade creamer? Like - instead of buying a chemical concoction to put in your coffee every morning, you can just make your own and not have it be like pouring a carcinogen down your throat every day.

You mix 1 can of sweetened condensed milk with 2 cups of milk and whatever extracts you want in there to flavor it (almond, vanilla, cinnamon, whatev) and BAM! Delicious coffee creamer. Probably costs less, too.

***

American Apparel should probably pay closer attention to what gets Tweeted and Tumbled by their 19 year old employees. Oops. Way to celebrate our Independence, AA!

***

This one was interesting and totally had me going - but it was proved false by about.com. 

Onions are crazy toxin absorbents. So if you're sick, you should slice one and put it in your sock and it will make you better. Evidently this can work against you if you slice an onion and then put it in your fridge to save. It will absorb all the toxins in the fridge (do our fridges have a lot of toxins in them?) and then you'll eat it on your burger or whatever.

Too bad that's not true. 

***

People love to take pictures of their feet while laying in hammocks. A lot of them make these pictures their profile picture. I think they're trying to make everyone else jealous - but I'm not fooled. It's napalm hot outside right now, I'd rather be in here in my air conditioning than on any beach with my feet in a hammock.

***

Grasshoppers are loaded with protein. And people eat worms. Lots of worms. Gross.

***

Holy jeez, I have to try this. We have mangoes coming out of our eyeballs around here every summer and cutting them is super messy. Figures I don't have even one whole mango in the house right now.

***

If this is any indication, tests to become a US Citizen are way easier than I thought they'd be.

***

So much about poop. But I totally learned some stuff.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Spaz prepares for her 1st kid to go to high school.

I found some pictures of Bug today when I was cleaning out some boxes from my old office and my heart just melted. My first baby, Bug saved me. Bug forced me to grow up, to put someone else's needs before my own, to start taking responsibility for myself and to make decisions that would benefit him. Before Bug it was all keggers and parties til the sun came up.


Before Bug came along I barely gave a thought to the future. I knew that one day I'd probably need to think about all that stuff - but it seemed so far away and so unimportant. The only thing I really cared about was not missing out on any fun. Ever. I was barely 22 when I discovered that Bug was growing inside of me and something immediately changed with that positive pregnancy test. My friends were still kids, my boyfriend was still a kid, but I was immediately not a kid.

I was a really, really stupid adult.

Not every decision I made after that was a good one - but every decision I made after that was for Bug.

I can remember so clearly the first moments Bug and I had together at home for the first time. My mother brought us home from the hospital because my then husband was working. She helped me carry my newborn and all of the stuff from the hospital into the living room of the little townhouse we lived in and she helped me get comfortable on the couch. And then she left. With barely a kiss goodbye, she left the two of us alone. For the first time ever.

And I looked at my brand new son sleeping in my lap and I was overwhelmed with my need to provide him with the entire world.  We lived on that couch for the first week of his life. A small bassinet next to me, trying to breastfeed and change diapers and sleep and memorize every detail of his little squishy baby face. Those first days are a blur now, but I have never shaken the feeling of ferocious protectiveness I had when I first became a mother.


This year Bug goes to high school. He is FOURTEEN. He'll be (hold me, I'm feeling faint) 15 before 2014 is through.

Do you remember being fifteen? For me it was a year that changed who I was. It was the year I officially went from nice kid to anarchist. I am not ready for a fifteen year old.

Bug's voice is deep and he has hair in weird places. He's going to have to start shaving soon. He wears men's clothing and shoes and uses copious amounts of Axe body spray.  He is obsessed with his computer and the world it connects him to. He writes programming for things I can't understand and sleeps until 2 in the afternoon.


It has not always been an easy journey with Bug and we're just getting started with the rocky teenage road that lies ahead of us. I'm hoping with all that I can hope that Bug finds his way this next four years of high school. I'm hoping he can start seeing that his future matters and maybe start making decisions for future Bug.

He's a brilliant, funny, genuinely good person, my Bug. He is blessed with a heart big enough for everyone who crosses his path and a brain smart enough to take over the world.


Monday, June 23, 2014

Rainbows and kittens and butterflies and flowers


When I was little I fell in love with Haley Mills. Well, not Haley Mills to be exact - but her character, Pollyanna.

My mom must have recorded it for me on VHS because I watched Pollyanna over and over again, memorizing the words and most of all - playing The Glad Game. 



The Glad Game may have irritated all members of Harrington in the Disney movie - but it spoke to me and I played it in my head all the time.

I'm not sure at what age I stopped playing The Glad Game, but it wasn't until I started The Happiness Project that in addition to writing down 3 positive things that happen to me every day, I was playing the game all over again.

Crappy things happen and I try to figure out what's good about them. And it certainly makes things easier to swallow.

I'm two weeks into The Happiness Project and I'm happy to say that it really has improved my state of mind. The first thing I noticed when writing 3 things down every night is that some days it is really difficult to narrow it down. So many great things happen to me every day that trying to pick 3 can be tough. And that's a problem to be glad about right there.

I'm still loving my art journal and have been creating in it most days. Not every day because life is pretty busy with 3 kids home over the summer - but most days I do find some time to put some color down in my journal. I took the time to set up a space for creating and I'm happy to say it's getting a lot of use.

I even picked up a smaller journal for Munchkin because she was having so much fun using the art table that she really needed a place to put her own ideas down to paper. The Man is having a hard time finding something good to say about all the glitter that we've been using and how it's slowly spreading throughout the house in tiny little specks of joy, but Munchkin and I are having a blast.

I highly recommend you putting together one of your own. No one would ever need therapy if everyone just started playing The Glad Game and painting in a book once in a while.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

I need more glitter

I have always loved art. 

And maybe every little kid does - I know my kids always loved crayons and markers and putting colors to pages. 

But I was sort of obsessed with it. 

One of my mother's very best friends, Ginger, worked in the Gifts department of Halsey & Griffith. If you grew up in West Palm Beach in the 80s, you may have visited this amazing store of delights as a child. It was touted as an office supply store - but it was so much more than that. It was located in a 3 story building in downtown West Palm Beach, the kind of downtown where you had to parallel park on the street and get your parking validated at the store. 

On the first floor was office supplies. To this day I could get lost in an office supply store. All the files and folders and pencils and hard cover notebooks, oh my! Also on the first floor was a gift section, similar to a Hallmark. There were greeting cards and little stuffed animals and trinkets you could purchase and if you asked nicely Ginger would take your purchase into the back and gift wrap it so perfectly in such beautiful paper that you absolutely would feel like it was a shame to tear it open. My mother would spend hours chatting with Ginger while I looked around the store. Perusing the new stuff that came in, looking at the stickers, flipping through the book that held sample wedding invitation templates for brides-to-be to come in and order.  

Halsey & Griffith was seriously a store from another era. 


When I got a bit older and my mother trusted that I could behave myself, she said "Beth, why don't you take the elevator up to the 2nd floor and look around up there."

Second floor? I had never been to the second floor. I knew there was an elevator - I'd seen people get on and off of it before. But I had never gone in it and I had no idea what was on the second floor. I was a pretty brave kid, I guess, because now that I think about it if I told Munchkin to just jump on an elevator and go somewhere she had never ever been before by herself she would absolutely freak out. There's no WAY that kid would go. But me? I happily ran over to the elevator and pressed the button. I had no clue what wonders would await me.

The elevator was old. It smelled funny in there and it was hot. This was probably 1985 and I'm sure that elevator had been in operation for at least 30 years before then. But my mind was preoccupied with the destination rather than the journey. What the hell was going to be on the second floor? I mashed the button with a 2 on it and held my breath.

The elevator struggled to ascend to the 2nd floor and grunted when it stopped. With a cheerful "bing!" the doors opened and I stepped out into a little hallway. To my left was nothing, just a blank wall. I looked to my right and y'all I heard angels singing.

It was my utopia. 

It was a real, honest-to-goodness art supply store. Filled with real, honest-to-goodness art supplies. For real artists. There was no Crayola or Rose Art in here. There were things I had never seen before in my whole little life. Oil pastels and books of paper made just for drawing and painting, canvases, paint brushes, pencils of every shape and size. I had no idea there were so many colors of paint and so many types of paint and so many ways to apply paint. I was delirious with it. 

That day my mother bought me a set of Pentel Oil Pastels and a real artist's sketchbook. I felt so amazing coloring with them - their smooth, rich color applying to every page. I filled every page of that book with colors until my pastels were just little nubs of color and my fingers were coated in a messy rainbow of awesomeness. 

Over the years my parents were great at encouraging me to be creative. They oohed and aahed at every painting of every flower I made in my Georgia O'Keefe stage. They read every piece of poetry I showed them and bought me hard backed composition books and sketch books and soft charcoal pencils and whatever else I felt I had to have to express myself. 

I spent my youth journaling and writing and drawing and painting and coloring. I filled pages and books and volumes with art, whether it be visual or written. I always thought I would grow up to be an real honest-to-goodness artist.

But somewhere along the way I lost all of that. I had kids and had to make money and had to be responsible and I just let it all go. I totally stopped creating.

And somewhere during this time of adulthood I got it into my head that I wasn't any good at art. That I couldn't draw or paint and I just compared myself to people I felt were actual artists and saw that I wasn't as talented.

And then a group of my Besties dragged me to one of those step-by-step painting classes where you bring in a barrel of wine and get tipsy while attempting to copy an instructor in a class of forty other people also getting tipsy. The entire class consist of my friend and I giggling and saying things like "What brush did she say to use?" "What color?" and most recently "My tree looks horrible."



And it was at that first class that I realized that no one else gets to define whether I'm an artist other than me. I realize I'm not up to date on every technique there is to know and I realize my tree only vaguely resembles an actual tree, but I don't care. Art isn't about becoming the next Makovsky - it's about expression.

With that, and as part of The Happiness Project, I started my very own Art Journal. 

And y'all. I'm loving it. It's just for me so I don't feel any pressure. It's not going on a wall somewhere, it's not being compared to anything else, it's just mine. And it's fun. And it's liberating. I love using different media and putting them together and just playing with paints and colors and shiny stuff. I am so happy with it.


I can do whatever I feel like doing with it. I can paint whatever colors, nothing has to look real, nothing has to mean anything, I can just play and smudge and tear and crumple. It is therapeutic for me in the best way possible and I hope I don't ever lose the art journal bug. I highly recommend it. 

PS - I have no idea what was on the 3rd floor of Halsey & Griffith. I never went up there. I can't even imagine what it might have been.




Monday, June 9, 2014

I'm a little upset with Pharrell Williams for monopolizing Happiness in 2014

I read something this morning that got me thinking.

About being happy.

Stop singing. That song is overdone.

I don't consider myself to be an unhappy person, really. I mean, I have a pretty awesome life when I really think about it. I have The Man who loves me way more than I probably deserve him to love me. I have three healthy kids who make me laugh on a daily basis. I have a super strong family who would drop anything if I needed them. I have amazing friends that I love. I have enough food in my refrigerator, no holes in my roof, two cars that work, and my bills are paid.

Not to say my life doesn't have struggle, because it certainly does. But overall? Pretty damn awesome.

Still, I sometimes find myself dwelling on the negatives and it's just not a good way to live. I want to raise my little monsters to be optimists and go-getters. Even Bug, who tends to be mopey and negative (I should have named him Eeyore), could totally turn that frown upside-down and start looking at the silver linings instead of all the dark clouds. But not if his mom isn't setting that example, right?

So starts The Happiness Project.



(I like making cute graphics.)

I haven't got it all ironed out yet, but I've got my first step figured out. Based on the above mentioned article, I've decided to write down three good things that happened to me every day. But I'm not stopping it there. I'm making an art journal to feature at least one of those happy things. Because that's what I enjoy doing and I don't make time for it. I love being creative and junk but I always push it off to the side. I have to do this, I have to do that. No time for anything else.

So I'm going to make a little time at the end of every day to write down my three happy things and create something artsy that represents one of them. This is going to be so.much.freaking.fun.

I can't wait to debut my happy art.



Thursday, May 22, 2014

Escape with my Besties

All moms should get away every once in a while. Away from kids, work, messy houses, husbands, and pretty much anything else that demands any bit of their time or energy.

Not to say that all of those things aren't worth it - they totally are - we wouldn't be here if they weren't all worth it. The Man is my rock and the thought of him not being in my life causes me great strife and sadness. My kids are my everything - I can't even begin to describe the type of all encompassing love I feel for them. But sometimes I just want to run away from all of them.  Does that sound bad? Maybe. Whatever.

They are demanding to me, just as I'm sure I'm demanding to them. And sometimes, I just want to run away and not be around anyone who is demanding anything from me. No dinners to cook, no stinky messes to clean up, no laundry to fold, no emails to answer, no packages to ship.

And that's when I escape with my Besties... even if just for a few hours.

Months and months ago, my Besties and I had planned to take last weekend off and go have a girls weekend. We hoped to be able to find a place where we could park our asses in the sand and have bottomless margarita glasses in our hands and laugh until our sides ached - for a full 48 hours. Unfortunately that didn't work out - we all ended up having commitments that didn't allow for us to run away for too long - but we did manage to sneak away for one blissful evening.

I wanted to see the sunset over Lake Okeechobee. It had been about 2 1/2 years since the last time I had ventured out to the Big O to watch the sunset with The Man and the kids and I'd been craving another sunset - this time with my Besties.

So, after we had all done all of the family things we had to do for the day (for me it was a flight with Young Eagles for Goober and a graduation party for my amazing nephew), my Besties and I met up. We packed up the car with chairs, cameras and refreshments and we headed west.

The laughter ensued before we had even gotten out of town. There is nothing like the silly, inappropriate, stupid laughter that can only come from four middle aged women who are free from their responsibilities for a few hours. Nothing.

It took about an hour and we reached my favorite sunset spot at Port Mayaca (anyone in the general vicinity of the eastern shore of the lake should venture over there one sunset - you will not be disappointed).  After a very frightening Thelma and Louise (and Thelma and Louise) moment where I was sure we were about to plummet off a small cliff into a feeder canal, we parked and dragged our crap down to the edge of the water.

After sitting in our chairs for exactly 2 minutes, we decided to climb down those rocks and on to the beach. I won't share the embarrassing photos we took of us trying to get down the rocks. I will just say that it was comical, but we made it with no injury.  Once arriving on the little beach, we discovered that it wasn't made of sand at all, but a trillion itty bitty shells.  We were so enamored with the shells that one or two of us may have scooped up a handful to bring home. Not me, just sayin. It's amazing to me how many little creatures there are in Lake Okeechobee that the entirety of the beach would be made up of their shells. Perfectly formed and untouched. They were beautiful. 
 After making some shell angels on the beach (ouch) and oohing and aahing about all of them, we actually sat and watched the sunset.
 And then we played with the timer on one of our cell phones so we could get pictures of all of us together.

About 5 minutes after this picture was taken the bugs came out and actually picked us up out of our chairs and dragged us to the car. We were literally making sure not to breathe heavy as they swarmed us. "Welcome to The Glades, Bitches" I think I heard one bug buzz into my ear.

Our drive back consisted of us getting just a little lost in a town called Canal Point (only a little lost because the whole town encompasses 1.5 square miles - seriously - Google it), laughing hysterically, a forced stop to pee on the side of State Road 80, and a little bit of indecency. It was everything it should have been and more.

We finished up the night by singing songs from our youth while drinking beer on the dock of a much, much smaller lake behind one Bestie's house. It was magical and very much needed.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Go read someone else's blog.

I don't have anything for you today. Except a link. To this blog.

Stop whining and go read that.

I'm cleaning my house today.

CHING SHIH FOR THE WIN!


Friday, May 16, 2014

If I just keep telling myself I'm going to do it - maybe it will really happen

It's starting to get hot down here in South Florida. Like - really hot. I know, everyone up north is all "Wah wah wah, aren't you the same bitch who was posting pictures of your sandy feet at the beach while we were scraping ice off of our windshields? Suck it."

But until you've received a third degree burn from your steering wheel and had sweat form a stain on your backside that makes people think you've had an accident, you don't understand the hot that is a South Florida summer.

With the heat comes two other gems that I love - the end of the school year and Hurricane Season.

I used to think Hurricane Season wasn't so bad. I mean, yeah, we might get some rain and some wind. We might lose power for a couple of hours. But no big deal.  That is until we experienced what will forever be known as The Hurricane Season From Hell.  It was 2004 and we boarded up our house not once, not twice, but three times that summer. We learned what it was to not have air conditioning in Florida, we learned what it was to have to grill every bit of meat in your freezer because it had all defrosted, we learned what it was to not have water and how to ration gas and how to drive in a world with no traffic lights (it's actually kind of awesome).

The next year brought us another nasty bitch called Hurricane Wilma who ripped all of the shingles right off of our roof and left us living in a world of buckets in strange areas of the house until we could get it repaired. I got to view our neighborhood from the top of our house while I helped The Man cover our sad roof in big tarps.

So now, every year, we hold our breath from June 1st to November 30th. We check TWC on a regular basis and we cringe at every alert that interrupts our regularly scheduled viewing.

About this time every year I decide I want to get the house all clean. I'll tell you what, it's a lot nicer to be stuck in a clean house with no air conditioning than a messy one. So every summer I vow that I'll get the house all cleaned up so if we do have to endure another hurricane, at least we'll get to do it in relative cleanliness and organization.

Except my house hasn't been really clean since 2007. I'm not kidding.

I mean, it's been presentable a few times - but only because I shoved everything in the garage or my bedroom or my office and closed the pantry door. If you looked close you would have found the nasty.

I'm a terrible housekeeper and my kids suck at doing chores. Like - they really, really suck and I'm really really terrible.  I'll pretty much do anything except for clean if I can get away with it.  I have great intentions - I want my house to be clean - but when it boils down to it I can't seem to make myself just do it.

But I'm going to this summer. I am. I AM!

I found a blog I fell in love with. And I've read a lot of it and I'm encouraged. I totally think I can do it with Nony's help. I'm just going to start slow and get it done. I am.

I AM.