Old News: Past Blog Posts

Thursday, December 15, 2016

2016 Reset: Day 32

Reflecting on the past month, I can say the Whole30 did exactly what I needed it to do. It did take a little bit of pride-swallowing to dive face-first into what could easily be classified as a 'Fad Diet' but in terms of what I was looking for, it served itself quite well. Although personally, my life has chugged along at it's usual rapid-fire pace and continues to be comfortable enough to afford me the luxury of being most put off by faulty wiring in a gas fireplace, a clogged drainpipe, or slow internet speeds...most of us can agree that 2016 on a global scale, has been a pretty shit year. At least, those of us who are paying close attention and/or have the capacity for even a small shred of empathy. 

Alleppo, Cyber-attacks, a Cabinet action-packed with under-educated billionaires, mass-shootings, bigotry, an election we ALL lost (except maybe Putin), hate-crimes, a tiny blonde lady loudly denouncing reality and comparing BLM to the KKK, Prince, a McCarthy-style crusade against those fighting climate change....This year has been truly dizzying in it's unfocused ability to take a cow-patty sized dump on pretty much all sections of the newspaper. 

So, I needed some way to regain a feeling of control. And because traditionally, I have zero control -- especially when faced with a jar of peanut butter and a spoon, backlit by the refrigerator light -- I decided to take charge in an area that might simultaneously give me a tiny bit of inner-peace and also ease the stress felt by the buttons on all my pants.

And so, we Whole30'ed. We = me and my amazingly supportive husband; a man who somehow didn't decide at some point to pack up and leave me for an Imo's pizza and a whiskey (although I'm sure it crossed his mind).

I'll admit, I cheated. But not enough times to require more than one hand to count. And in the end, I lost almost 11 pounds and my pants have remained in full possession of all necessary buttons. So I say it's a win. 

Here were a few things I learned since my last post:

1. One can clean up after baking a birthday cake using a faucet and sponge rather than one's own tongue. 
2. I learned I could say 'no' to a chocolate chip cookie or slice of pizza and they wouldn't be personally offended and start talking smack about me behind my back.
3. I found that I am capable of cooking, but remain more than capable of single-handedly destroying what should have been a perfectly good meal.
4. Almond butter can actually save a person's sanity. 
5. If you tell a server that you're 'trying to be sugar-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free' there is no way to NOT feel like a douchebag and they're most certainly going to hack a loogie in your meal. 
6. It's possible to be convinced that you sub-consciously took a bite of bread...and that experience will chill you into the bone and haunt you until the day you die. 
7. Unless you're a child, about to have a child, or an alcoholic, not drinking is some serious BS. 

From here, we move on to a vague promise to remain in-control of what we can. I can't say I won't find myself someday standing over my kitchen sink in the dark, mindlessly shoveling peanut butter in my pie-hole. But at least I know I'm not powerless in all areas. I can't convince our (likely-to-be) new Secretary of the EPA that maintaining an inhabitable planet might actually be somewhat important. And I can't convince your dad's cousin that thetruthfactoryforamerica.com is a bullshit news source and no, the Obama Administration didn't remove the word 'God' from the dictionary and declare war in Christmas. I can't stop a toddler from pulling the trigger on a loaded weapon (not even the kid of a 'gun-sense' advocate) or our POTUS-elect from responding to an insulting Tweet with a similar disregard to potentially dangerous consequences. However, I can say 'no thanks' to a Krispy Creme donut, and at least that's SOMETHING. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

2016 Reset: Day 1

I think we can all agree that 2016 has been a shit show of enormous proportions. I can't imagine I'm alone in the sentiment that the more I pay attention to the world, the more I want to crawl beneath a blanket and hide from it. And let's be clear, I would probably take a jar of peanut butter and a spoon along with me. Evidently, running 3 half marathons this fall weren't enough to spare me from the sense that I am about 30 seconds away from a diagnosable case of depression and/or anxiety and nearly 20 pounds over my happy place. 

It was the hubs who brought up trying Whole30. Apparently, I've become so difficult to live with, he's actually willing to stay sober an entire month in an effort to help me relocate my mojo. So, after a weekend spent cramming over the 30 day plan book, meal-planning and prepping, and purging our kitchen of those greatest of temptations (minus the peanut butter, which has been hidden away in case there's a pre-schooler peanut butter emergency).

So here I am. Day 1. I would be knee-deep in the honeymoon phase, all hopped up on a smug sense of superiority if it weren't for the resurgence of the death-plague of a cold I thought I had kicked. I will say, nasal congestion can certainly be a real asset in making good dietary choices for the following two reasons: A) losing your sense of smell makes all food seem sort of lifeless and unappealing and B) the sense of possible suffocation felt with every meal in an attempt to politely 'chew with your mouth closed' makes eating feel vaguely like a suicide attempt. 

But I digress.

Obviously, the week before Thanksgiving is a really insane time to decide to give up drinking, sugar, and dairy but I actually look forward to challenging the boundaries of my own self-discipline. I am determined to prove to myself that I am capable of overcoming cravings and change my current relationship with food, because let's face it, that particular relationship has been borderline abusive at times.

I know it's gonna get ugly in the next few weeks (days?) and there's a pretty solid chance I will topple off the back of the figurative wagon once or twice. However, I am looking forward to regaining some sense of control and maybe a little empowerment and hopefully even kick that foreboding sense of doom and helplessness that has been nagging at me recently. At the very least, perhaps I am preventing a tailspin of gluttony, shame, and despair ...not necessarily in that order.

In short, day one has left me with the following feelings: hope & a chapped nose. 


Monday, October 17, 2016

Why I'm Vacationing from Facebook Until November 9th

1. Because otherwise, I can't stop myself from diving into the vicious political debates unfolding on mine and others' comments sections that have gone far beyond policy and into what is decidedly dangerous territory: denying the legitimacy of traditionally reputable news media; openly calling for one candidate to undermine our democratic tradition of the peaceful transition of power and jail the other; lashing out against women and questioning our our fitness to decide how to care for our bodies and fully participate in democracy; disregarding the very real and distinct difference between bragging about sexual assault and using foul language; condoning violence and racism; and completely misunderstanding the previously evolved understanding that 'freedom' doesn't mean 'liberties awarded to all us white people and only as long as it doesn't makes us feel uncomfortable and/or guilty.'

2. Because I have essentially digitally created a safe and happy space for me and my like-minded Villagers and STILL the occasional voice of complete lunacy creeps in and I am so disturbed by it, I have literally lost hours of sleep and cried countless tears for the future of this nation. 

3. Because if I watch another mom-feud erupt on a mom group over circumcision or vaccinations or using essential oils to heal a critically ill infant, I might actually stick a fork into my left eye.

4. Because I don't think I can physically continue to carry the burden that comes from feeling obligated to speak up when I see someone who is acting like an ignorant bully but frequently lacking the strength to do so. Nobody asked me to carry it, it's linked to white guilt that I don't have the right to bitch about, but I'm just so damn tired because I strapped that shit onto my back anyways.

5. Because I am a woman, and at the age of 34, I am just now realizing the full extent of what that means. I've felt it for years, but nobody stood at a podium to shout -- or sat behind a phone to tweet -- to hundreds of thousands of adoring, like-minded fans that I am an object with a value that could be rated on a 10-scale who should be ashamed of my 'disgusting'-ness: my decision to be a mom and either return to the workplace at all with a need to pump milk for my child, or have the nerve to take that baby in public where it might be disruptive; my right to have an opinion and openly express that opinion; and the extra 10-30 pounds I have carried around with me my entire adult life. On the other hand, being overweight has apparently saved me from being the victim of sexual assault, which would've been justified under the right conditions, so I suppose there's that. That extra X chromosome has made me a lesser person, and I'm not sure I ever realized it in the way I'm realizing it now.

6. Because there simply aren't enough funny cat videos, memes, and GIFs in the whole history of the Internet to dampen the blow that comes from a relative, an old co-worker, or a high school classmate when they post a meme that essentially says: I'm feeling hurt, so I'm being hurtful and I just don't fucking get it.

7. Because my friends on Facebook who are people of color who may also practice a non-Christian religion have suffered far more  than my petty white-women-ness and now go about their business (many who are physicians and attorneys and mothers and fathers) with an increasingly visible targets on their backs. It's open-season out there for racists and bigots, and I just can't bear to watch. And yes, I have to luxury of simply deleting my Facebook app in order to avoid being faced with that particular ugliness. 

8. Because people keep dying from gun violence and we continue to insist that guns have nothing to do with it.

9. Because *of course* 'all lives matter' but when you say that, you're missing the goddamn point. 

10. Because I just...fucking....can't. Not anymore.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Urine and Sawdust: Part 9

Unless you've seen me in person in the past two months or so, you have thus far been spared the ugliness of me bitching and moaning about our first world problems. If you have seen me, there's a good chance you're already tired of hearing about our recent kitchen renovation drama.  

If you care to hear our (comparatively shallow and totally myopic) tale of woe, then I invite you to please read on...

Early in May, around the time our contractor had predicted they'd be packing up and heading out, our project hit a brick wall. And just so you know, that particular analogy was carefully crafted to match the state of our kitchen around that time (see below) 

Our worker (singular) had removed the wall between the existing kitchen and utility room, torn most of the plaster down, laid sub-flooring...then basically went AWOL. 

And so, we waited. First, we waited more than a week for an electrician. 

Next, we waited for doors.

And waited.

And waited. 

We would politely (then not-so-politely) inquire about our kitchen almost daily. When we heard back, it was one excuse after the next. First, the doors were on back order. Next, they had arrived damaged. Then, it was the holiday (Memorial Day). Then, the delivery truck broke down. After that, they arrived damaged. Back to square one. Meanwhile, all their employees began suffering from various illnesses or suddenly experiencing deaths in their families or car troubles. One apparently earned himself a DUI, which I did not take pleasure in learning. The hubs called and texted dutifully once and sometimes twice or three times a day. I emailed regularly and learned that either contractors don't respond to emails or they don't respond to women. For the sake of my sanity, I am operating under the assumption that it's the former. To be fair, both genders in our relationship were met with similar radio silence on many days. At one point, we learned (from the one worker who still came around every so often) that our contractor himself was dealing with medical issues. At this point, I started regularly assuming he was dead. 

In fact, the last time we heard from him, he returned an unanswered phone call by texting us that he was at an Urgent Care and couldn't talk. 

That was the last straw. 

For everyone. 

While I pondered what Emily Post would recommend one does in the event that one's estranged contractor has been hospitalized (or has died), my more practical half managed to get in touch with the co-owners of his business. 

That's when we learned a few key details which provided us a little insight on why our project had suddenly hit the breaks.

1) The company was broke.
2) It was (apparently) entirely the fault of the contractor we'd signed with.
3) The brothers who represented the other 2/3rds of the ownership (whom we'd not yet met) were in the process of legally removing our contractor from their business.

Let me just pause here and acknowledge a couple things: 

1) I have friends who recently renovated their kitchen and experienced something similar during their project. One astutely pointed out that this is an industry populated almost entirely by men (and presumably also a few women) with ADHD diagnoses. I now believe this to be entirely true.

2) I feel it's pertinate to also acknowledge that we interviewed eight (yes EIGHT) contractors in preparation for this project. This is partially why I believe the ADHD statement, I've now met a bunch of these guys. We had no fewer than three (very thorough) initial bids from this man and spoke with four seperate references prior to signing a contract. One reference was our neighbors whom we consider close enough friends to have named them godparents to our youngest child, the other three had a hard time coming up with anything negative to say about the guy. So before anyone can toss any blame our way for this madness, we did our due diligence. Hashtag: giant friggin sigh. 

So. There we were. We'd written checks for 2/3rds of our total contract/budget and we,learned the company suddenly had no money to speak of. We still didn't have walls or proper floors. We were (are) still tripping over each other in our makeshift kitchen/dining room; operating out of giant tubs and grilling every meal on the front porch. And then we discover that our cabinets have not been ordered (the ones we wrote a check for more than six weeks earlier) and even worse, those Mother F-ing doors hadn't even been ordered. The goddamn doors; the ones that had supposedly experienced such dramatic adventures and hardships...the doors (rather, the lies about the doors) are maybe my biggest trigger to date.

I am currently raising three insane small people, I can I handle a lot of shit. But outright lying does not fall into my definition of tolerable shit. 

So we took a giant breath, secured a partial lien waiver (for whatever that's worth), reviewed the contract, ran down the names of a few attorneys (whom I pray we never need to sit down with...#cautiousoptimism), and decided to place blind faith in a new broad-shouldered, fast-talking ADHD sufferer. 

To the credit of the new contractor, he's been (perhaps overly) candid with us. We have been privy now to exactly all the inner drama and dysfunction of the company we placed such enormous trust in over 5 months ago. And thanks to a Facebook friend request (his) we also know that not so long ago, someone slashed his tires. Despite the comments section of his post implying that the culprit was most likely an angry ex, this inspires exactly zero confidence. 

Hashtag: what the hell have we gotten ourselves into?

My freind who somehow weathered the storm during the demise of their contractor company likes to say, 'you're half pregnant with them' and she's right. It too late to abort and by golly, we need a kitchen. They have us by the balls, and even though only one of us actually has balls, it's uncomfortable nonetheless.

The really good news is that now, suddenly, there is progress. Actual. Progress. Since our last contractor vanished into the abyss, we have acquired the following:

1) Walls

2. Doors (this is not a drill people, we have actual doors): 

Yes, doors

3. Floors

4. A completed dining room wall:

EXHIBIT A (a view I was totally over looking at after about a week, but lived with for more like 10 weeks): 

EXHIBIT B (SIDENOTE: I want to murder those bins because they symbolize how we have been living like squatters in our own home since March...but at least the wall looks nice)

...And in the last 6 days, since my new best friend, Sam-The-Finish-Carpenter (who may actually not be Ritalin dependent, or at least if he is, they've got him on a spot-on dosage) has joined the party, here's what's happened: 

1. Sweet Baby Jesus, we have CABINETS. 

2. And a SINK (whaaaa??)

4. A crazy-amazing built-in bench seat:
Psst: These bad boys have hinges and open into storage. We can easily fit all three kids in there; or possibly one mommy looking for a quiet space and some alone time. 

5. Pendent lights: Edison bulbs behind bars!

6. Actual outlets

7. And yes! That's under-Cabinet lighting!

Sam-The-Finish-Carpenter has worked tirelessly for 6 days straight and single-handedly restored my faith in the entire contracting profession...and possibly in humanity (a faith which is undermined daily by a quick glance at the headlines). 

This project has displaced us and humbled us. It has also turned us into consumerist assholes and made me hate myself a little. It's challenged our marriage and elevated us to a new level of intermittent parenting failures. We've celebrated a fourth birthday and a third birthday and we've watched our youngest learn to walk and begin to talk. We've got one out of diapers completely and another armed with a sticker chart, a deadline (school starts in a few weeks and diapers will not be an option), and the promise of a stuffed lion. We are in the midst of spending every last penny we've got on new furnishings to re-arrange our entire first floor and create a beautiful new space to be systematically destroyed by two dogs and three boys. 

We are zeroing in on the end. Sam-The-Finish-Carpenter tells us he'll have the refrigerator in it's new home tomorrow (our ice maker will be back in action!!) and we'll likely have an operational oven and stove-top soon after. I can't seem to let myself get excited, but we may even be unearthing our dishes and glasses by the end of the week. 
Meanwhile, I will focus my efforts on attempting to keep life in perspective. I will see if that's possibly while also actively avoiding headlines about extremist terrorists targeting innocent people and racist sociopaths either unnecessarily killing unarmed citizens or civil servents...or running for president. It's an ugly world out there and our small drama is light and benign. I am anxious for our little corner of this ugly world to be lovely and comfortable...a safe and happy space for my babies. 

Peace my friends.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Sawdust and Urine: Part 8

Today is a profoundly sad and tragic day for our country. I want to sort out how I am feeling about a world where so much senseless violence and hatred lives and flourishes. I want to wrap my brain around how to talk to my children about that world and what we can and can't do about the ugliness. 

I want to do those things, but I can't; because I just don't know how. Because it's too damn painful. Instead, today I had to put it all out of my brain and just be mom. 

Instead of talking about how terrified and disgusted recent events have left us all feeling, I am going to post pictures of our project. It may seem insensitive or short sighted to use my tiny little platform for such a petty purpose on a day when our nation is grieving and scared and angry and yelling at each other; but the events in Orlando are too painful to talk about and I'm just too weak and sad to fully go there right now. 

Today, I'm not feeling particularly jovial and my usual humor is sitting pretty low in my gut right now, buried by a profound sense of helplessness and sorrow. I also am aware that the details of the lengthy delays in our home renovations and the frustrations we've felt over those delays and how they've been handled now feel so petty and so totally irrelevant. 

So I will simply dig up some photos and keep my usual commentary out of this post. 

Kitchen: April 12

Wall removed

Kitchen: April 27

Switched the windows

Kitchen: June 8

Of note: in the time since we started this project, our youngest learned to walk and we've potty trained 1.5 of our children. 

We have walls!

Kitchen: June 10

Taping and mudding the drywall

Kitchen: June 12

Remember our bathroom? 


Bathroom: May 8

my loves


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Douchey 20-Something Takes Fantasy Trip to LA, Delighting Hundreds of Bored Midwest Moms

It's not easy to admit this, but I'm a junkie. Have been for awhile. The last 4 years, since having my first kid, it's been pretty bad. Just when I decide I have the courage to quit, I get another add from some pushy but well-meaning Facebook friend and I'm dragged back down into the endless time-suck of another Facebook mom group. 

My newsfeed is littered with women from across the globe; boasting about their breast pumping conquests, inquiring about potty training, and posting pics of mystery baby rashes. Mostly, it's harmless noise. I can mindlessly scroll past or stop briefly to share a moment of commiseration with my sisters in the trenches of mommy-hood. Occasionally, some unsuspecting new mom innocently inquires about vaccinations which undoubtedly erupts into a giant misinformation-fest and digresses quickly into infantile name-calling and the verbal equivalent of woman-on-woman violence. Turns out, there are plenty of 'trigger' topics out there that flip the crazy switch the otherwise mild-mannered human beings and part of me can't stand to look away from the virtual hair-pulling that ensues when one pops up. I don't typically engage in the madness, but I have zero qualms with grabbing a bag of popcorn with which to enjoy the show. Scoot over Real Housewives, I've got all the drama I need when a gang of hormonal strangers duke it out over the merits/dangers of Crying it Out.

So when I got a message from a friend politely asking if I cared to join another moms group, I almost did the right thing and said 'no.'  But I couldn't help myself. This one was supposed to be different. It discourages unnecessary acronym use (so, fewer SAHMs and FTMs tossing around BS about their DH and LOs), has a zero-tolerance policy regarding sanctimommies and anti-vaxxers, and promotes over indulging in 'mommy juice' over Pinterest wins. For the most part, the group has been true to it's promise and remains a pretty happy place, filled with snarky moms commiserating about how shitty it is to parent with a hangover and calling their kids assholes. It was perfect. I didn't think I could love it more.

Then, last weekend happened. 

The group's creator and acting 'Admin' popped on in the early hours of Saturday morning to relay the following message: 

Intrigued, I clicked on the comments section where I was greeted by several screen shots depicting a totally irate young (former) bar patron who was indeed losing his goddamn mind via Facebook messenger. The messages went on into the very wee hours of the morning and became increasingly threatening and demonstrated an inverse relationship between mounting level of fury and deteriorating believability. 


Not far from my house, this fuming millennial was apparently pacing a dark parking lot using his Facebook messenger app to demand his money back from the bar he'd been (by all accounts, rightly) expelled from. 

By 6am, he had sent no fewer than two dozen messages in which he threatened to contact the BBB, Angie's List, and Yelp. He promised to write 'thousands of negative reviews' and even set up a whole website devoted solely to bashing the bar. He was a website developer and (ironically?) a bar owner who happened also to be close family friends with the mayor. He promised to be back on Monday accompanied by both the Mayor and the 'Liquor Control Board' to enforce a $10,000 fine upon the establishment, using his iron-clad evidence of underage drinking occurring there. They (the bar) had messed with the wrong guy. 

His messages quickly exposed him as self-important, overly entitled, not super-articulate, and totally unglued from reality. It was all the ignorant ugliness of 'Murica rolled into one living-breathing 20-something. The Facebook group (many of whom were up feeding babies or retrieving cups of water for thirsty toddlers) waited with bated breath for him to drop a racial slur or proclaim his undying devotion to Donald Trump (which, to his credit, he never did). 

If you listened carefully enough while reading the updates and comments popping up like weeds on the thread throughout the weekend, you could almost hear the salivation of hundreds of sleep-deprived, somewhat slap-happy moms, hungry for more amusement to break up the mundanity of their spit-up covered, Lego-littered lives.

And praise Jesus, our new friend did not disappoint.

By Monday morning, we were all eagerly logging on, hands clasped and eyes wide to see who turned up at this friendly neighborhood pub to doll out the promised retaliation (please let it be the mayor!! Please let it be the mayor!!) 

What we found was EVEN BETTER.

Naturally, we were all now totally familiar with the bar-hopping young entrepreneur, thanks to poorly managed privacy settings on his Facebook profile. So it wasn't weird at all when a bunch of us simultaneously discovered he wouldn't make his promised pilgrimage back to the scene of the 'crime' because had instead hopped a flight to LA for a business trip.

This statement sounds innocent enough; and we may have all gone back to our lives at this point if we weren't all so hungry for the universe to provide us with a little more drama.

The thing was...the trip? It just felt fishy, right from the start. Regarding social media, he did what any good millennial would do: post from the airport, snap a few shots upon arrival, bitch a little about navigating an unfamiliar airport...etc, etc. But the details of the trip unfolded like a dejected teenager's wet dream. 

First, he was upgraded to (a crazy spacious) business class seat where he met a hot little blonde number who just happened to also be staying at the Ritz Carleton that night. Next, he was greeted at LAX by a fully-stocked luxery limousine and spent the ride to his hotel snapping some really impressive shots of the city. Judging by the food spread pictured, the suite awaiting him at the Ritz appeared to be expecting at least a dozen guests. The whole trip was funded by 'Holleywood' which is where he was headed Monday to meet with Elizabeth Banks to be considered as a candidate to develop the website for the highly anticipated upcoming feature film: Pitch Perfect 3

At this point, it will come as no surprise to you that it took no more than some very light Googling to begin to chip away at this story. And even less of a surprise that a giant chunk of the group eagerly stepped up to the (totally minimal) challenge. The Facebook thread blew up with screen shots of findins from reverse (and regular) image searches. Every single photo he'd posted was pulled straight from the Internet, even the shot of the local airport terminal. It was madness. The blonde in business class turned out to be some blogger posting about cashing in frequent flier miles for an international flight back in 2014. I'm guessing the poor girl would be a little startled to learn that after hijacking her picture, our young entrepreneur explained away her very obvious wedding ring (after a friend pointed it out) by making her a grieving widow and making it very clear that they'd spent the night together anyways. The meeting clearly was taking place at Paramount studios (given the four photos he posted at the gates, each with a totally different cloud cover and lighting), despite the fact that the IMDb tells us the Pitch Perfect movies are produced by Universal. 

The whole charade was pure gold to us moms. With each new post, we became less attentive to our kids or further neglected our job duties. Our otherwise dreary Monday was overcome by a giddy sense of anticipation. How far would this kid take it? What sort of person actually does this sort of thing? Who is he trying to impress? Is it possible he's somehow onto us and the whole thing is meant to send us spinning in circles? (Cuz I would totally love that, mad kudos if that's the case)

By the time he was announcing to his captive audience that he'd landed the deal, we were beside ourselves with giddiness. We couldn't tell if we wanted him to fake fail or win in real life. We were rooting for him, the studio, the blonde...we could not look away. 

I was worthless at work. I had to make a very focused effort to keep my nose out of my phone the rest of the day; which included a rare adults night out with my husband and father at a baseball game. 

The group collectively exhaled as our new buddy's plane touched down and he announced his arrival after a record breaking 2.5 hour plane trip from LAX to StL. As the week puttered along, we checked in periodically, created a hashtag, and occasionally looked back nostalgically on our time together as collective internet sleuths. 

There was both a sense of loss and a sense of relief as our lives moved on, refocused on the minutia of mountains of laundry, bargaining with irrational toddlers, and crawling commutes. We reaquainted ourselves with our children and stared deep into their eyes, wondering if someday they'd be sad or angry enough to create such a wildly elaborate fantasy. We felt gratified as we re-engaged in an honest day of work and a new sense of appreciation for our own solid partnerships and friendships. 

Part of me still wants the whole thing to be an elaborate hoax played out for our benefit alone. I know the more likely alternative is much sadder. 

The thing about the Internet is that it will provide us with exactly what we need. It allows us a platform to expose our most flattering angles, make our children seem clean, smart, and well-behaved. It gives us a community where we can feel less alone and weird; a place to debate and engage and commiserate. It can be used to create a reality that is much more appealing than where we live in real life. Or, if you're three, it has 24/7 access to Mickey Mouse. It also gives us a little access into someone else's world, and that may not always be so sunny.

I guess it's no wonder we're all a little hooked. And maybe someday, we can all find ourselves at the gates of Paramount Studios, waiting for Elizabeth Banks to give us our big break. 


Saturday, April 30, 2016

Sawdust and Urine: Part 7


If you've been living on pins and needles in anticipation of my latest post, I'm so sorry to have kept you waiting so long. And for the rest of you (safely assuming this to be all readers), I just didn't want to interrupt hockey playoffs or baseball. Or, more realistically, my hands were too busy ushering small people into bathrooms and smacking my own forehead in response to mounting logistical issues related to these home renovations. 

Yes, we finally have a fully functioning bathroom. It happened 5 days later than they assured us it would be done and took almost 4 weeks longer than initially estimated and still isn't totally completed. Any expectations for sticking to future 'deadlines' have been completely abandoned on my part. My husband still somehow has faith that the whole project will be completed by the end of this month, but I am cut from a decidedly less optimistic cloth. If we have a functioning kitchen by July 4th, I'll eat somebody's hat. 

I am waiting until someone shows up to hang our mirror and fix some painting issues before I post pictures of the final product, but I can assure you, it's pretty awesome (get acquainted with those pins and needles people, it could be awhile). But I will happily post some pictures of the eyesore that is currently occupying the back of our house, sitting idle while we await the promise of an apparently highly elusive electrician:

(Bye bye door!)


As stagnant as our rehab project has been over the past couple weeks, we have actually hit the accelerator on the potty training front. A little over a week ago, our previous nanny's parting gift to us was the news that the boys had spent much of the day in underpants with limited disaster. We found ourselves facing a busy Saturday with a tough choice: pull ups or underpants? If I had even just one penny for every time some knowing parent (or non-parent 🙄) winked at me and told me my kids will never potty train until we toss the pull-ups, I'd be able to fund our renovation project. So (armed with this amazing new bit of advice!), we took a giant breath, packed the diaper bag to the brim with extra pants and piled underpant-clad bottoms into car seats lined with hand towels to start our day.

Soccer practice was first and started with a successful potty trip in some elementary school stalls. Big guy stayed dry the whole time, despite the fact that every time he wandered off the field to us mid-game (which was at least a half dozen times) I was eyeballing the crotch of his shorts and asking about the potty. Middle man had his first wardrobe change and left a puddle of piss on the playground equipment. 

Next was Target. Because Saturday. We paired off and hit the stalls again with similar success rates. SIDENOTE: I am happy to report that while in the Target restrooms, my son and I were somehow not accosted by any pre-op transsexual penises in the woman's room and my husband likewise did not report any vagina run-ins (whew, right?). Having narrowly escaped what I've been assured would be unavoidable disasterous side-effects of non-discriminatory bathroom policies, we then picked out new underpants and various other target necessities, among them were potty bribes including a small bag of tiny, wiggly neon snakes and a large bag of fruit snacks consumed by our tiny 2-year-old before we could get out of the parking lot--which was also where we had his second wardrobe change. 

From there, we joined all the 20-something hipsters in St Louis at a popular microbrew for a food truck event with friends. But, not before pants change #3 for the 2-year-old who obviously wanted us to be wowed by his ability to preform both on and off the potty. 

The rest of the day and Sunday were spent essentially at home, closer to potty seats and essentially naked except for Mickey, superhero, and Good Dinosaur underpants. We celebrated with high fives (which I realize is not a great choice straight off the pot), screen time, popcorn parties and ice cream bars consumed on the porch; where we displaying our new underpants to our super-impressed neighbors and any poor, unsuspecting, previously-innocent passers-by. 

When the workweek began, our 4-year-old bravely marched off to school each morning in underpants which miraculously returned unsoiled for lunchtime. Also, in the confusion of transitioning childcare, both boys often went down for naps without the protection of a pull-up. This was playing with some serious fire in the case of the 4-year-old, who currently naps in our bed. Amazingly, we made it through the week without having to wash a single sheet (which is great because we've made it to May and so why should I start washing sheets now? *wink*)

Yesterday, the hub-meistro had to go play band director in Columbia, leaving me to play mommy without backup. We braved a rainy morning by meeting friends for coffee (which used to be relaxing?), a little light shopping, and a birthday party in a somewhat puddly, but otherwise rain-free park. We made potty stops at each location, me negotiating hand washing and pants management with a one-year-old slung on my back by way of the Ergo/most-ingenious-invention-ever-in-the-whole-history-of-the-world. We had an early and very minor accident by the two-year-old, prompting a pants change, but otherwise we totally killed it. I figured scooting around on wet playground equipment would be the perfect time for my kids to let their bladders loose, but remarkably, both kept their pelvic floor muscles in check until we got home to the sweet sight of dueling potty chairs. 

Don't let me steer you wrong, this is not to say we haven't had some extra laundry this week; particularly, in relation to a persisting lack of control over bowel movements. On Tuesday, the big guy announced he was poopy (thankfully) before turning to settle into his car seat on our way to school. I christened the new nanny by emerging back in the house 5 minutes after leaving with a poopy pair of superman underpants. That same day, the middle guy emerged from school with a similar situation downstairs (this new nanny is a total saint, I'm telling you). Just this morning, we had to flee the playground for a double underpants swap when both kids ran past me emitting that familiar stink. 

Still, the sight of one of my kids springing up from whatever they're doing and chirping 'mommy, I need to potty' is enough to give me chills. Should I be sad to watch our monthly diaper expenses plummet? It's definitely a new chapter for us and happened the same week we tossed the baby's last bottle, so I'm trying to hold it together...nah, that's a lie, I'm so freaking excited. 

In the (highly sophisticated) words of my 4-year-old: UNDERPANTS!!!!


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sawdust and Urine: Part 6

I flipping love spring. When I was a kid, I was totally obsessive over warming weather. Endless calls to 'Time and Temperature' went out on our landline (#80sKid) tracking the onset of spring and leaving me downright giddy over the prospect of riding bikes and tree climbing and all that other wholesome goodness that kids used to enjoy before mobile screens entered the picture and corrupted us all.

So, when faced with the mounting levels of anxiety piling up over busted-cabinet budgets, six weeks in a house without a shower, and a mad-scramble to secure new childcare, I am trying to channel that uncorrupted joy of a little girl basking the sunlit breeze of her favorite season. 

It's also taken a fair amount of alcohol and binge-eating, but I think I'm coping okay. When I'm not composing delicately-worded, but essentially angry emails to our contractor, I have found some aspects of this renovation to be fully enjoyable. Turns out, picking out light fixtures and accent tile gives me a total rush. It's like all my HGTV dreams have come to fruition and made me the star of my own little renovation show (step aside Joanna Gaines...) Now, if we could just figure out how to mimic those 30 minute formats and impossible budget stretching (we updated and expanded the entire house for 25 grand!), I'd be in freaking heaven. 

Not everyone, however, shares my opinion here. Yesterday, after narrowly escaping Lowes with our sanity in tact and amazingly with all three boys still somehow accounted for, I pointed out how much pleasure I was deriving by piecing together a bathroom of our own design. 'Isn't this part fun?' My husband didn't skip a single beat before replying with a resounding 'No!' I guess he finds less amusement in weighing the the aesthetics of brushed nickel versus chrome while also periodically asking a small herd of tiny diapered people to please stop crawling between the boxes of kitchen sinks (can you blame them?)

Still, it's safe to say the novelty of operating a kitchen out of plastic bins, speed-showering at the gym, ambling down steps for a midnight pee, and taking the shit-show that is bathtime on the road (I think my BIL went sterile right before my very eyes while overhearing the desperate shrieks of a 2-year-old who's suddenly developed an inexplicable bath-phobia) has just about worn off. Our bathroom was projected to take 2-3 weeks and we are now officially entering week seven. For you non-math majors out there, that's more than double the projected time. I spend my time wafting between resignation and fury; it's a place familiar to anyone who's been brave enough to undertake a home renovation project and trust the execution of that project to someone else. 

When I came home this week to find someone had decided to spend the day doing kitchen demo instead of making forward progress on the bathroom, I lost it a little. I spent at least 3 hours scrubbing renovation dust from the uncovered kitchen bins and their vast contents as well as from the piles of toys left scattered about, almost as if to intentionally join in on the filth-fest, and petty much every surface of the main level of our home. I acknowledge it was an exercise in complete futility, but I needed a physical outlet for my massive frustration, and scrubbing dirt seemed to fit the bill. 

I am reminded frequently, by friends and family who've been through this before, that it is totally worth it. It's a massive headache of a process, but just keep the end-results in your sights and someday (though much further off than initially projected by your contractor),. it will be done.

I am, of course, lucky. Lucky to have a beautiful home to renovate; the resources to make it happen; healthy children to bathe (even if it's at someone else's house and at deafening volumes); and family and friends willing to listen to me bitch and moan about the process. 

And it's springtime. I was greeted by the strong, sweet fragrance of our lilac bushes as I returned home from my shower tonight and it was downright glorious. I go to bed tonight with a little less anxiety, knowing we've found a new nanny, and with the scent of springtime drifting in our windows. It's a pretty good life, even if it's somewhat dusty and without an operable shower. 

Urine update: You may not be surprised to hear everyone is still in diapers. However, the 4-year-old insisted on underpants this evening and kept them dry for over 3 hours with one pit stop (#small victories). Earlier this week, the 2-year-old peed on one of our child-sized potties, then abandoned it and his pants. I was frantically trying to cover his exposed man-parts when I noticed from across the room, the 1-year-old dumping the pee into the floor. 


Kitchen demo: bye bye cabinets!

Seeya wall!! (Beam has been installed, I just don't have a pic)

Tile AND grout!

Later dudes.