Feb 212014
 
She's the kind of gorgeous that hurts to look at, I know.

She’s the kind of gorgeous that hurts to look at, I know.

On Wednesday, I shared with you why appreciating beautiful things is important to me (aka how I justify buying the “good” mascara to my husband).  The HUGE PART I left out is my gratitude to Rebecca of Frugalista Blog for being part of this process.

You see, Frugie has become a mentor to me.  Moreover, she has become a patient mentor.  As in, I can randomly message her “I don’t understand brow wax” and she a) doesn’t laugh at me b) actually tries to explain brow wax.  I know. I also know it’s weird to care about brow wax. 

Her endless graciousness with all my bizarre questions is kind, but it’s her gorgeous heart behind her glowing skin that has made me totally fall for her.  Through blogging, I have gotten to know Rebecca pretty well, and I begged her to let me share her sweet spirit with all of you.  She will tug on your heart strings as she reminds us all that celebrating beauty is a pretty boss thing.  And bonus?  Frugie really knows her stuff.  So pay attention–you will learn something.

Also? She is hysterical and does stuff like this with captions like "Here, Ashley is cheering on teammates at Sochi. I’m just dreaming of a self-folding dryer of the future." And I die laughing.

Also? She is hysterical and does stuff like this with captions like
“Here, Ashley is cheering on teammates at Sochi. I’m just dreaming of a self-folding dryer of the future.”
And I die laughing…

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Questions I threw at Frugie:

Why is taking care of yourself important to you?

There are so many reasons why it’s important. I have lost friends to breast cancer. So health and disease prevention are paramount for me. The things I do to improve my appearance start with my health inside. Vitamins, greens, avoiding sugars and alcohol (not easy!) If vanity is a contributing factor- then I admit- I want to look nice! Motherhood can sap it away. So giving myself extra time to put on sunscreen (an absolute must) or hiding in the bathroom to apply a mask is something I let myself do.

Why do you share this with others through your blog?

Sharing beauty tips and product discoveries is something I’ve been doing for years. Early on in high school, my friends noticed that I’m the one who always went to the Clinique counter for their gift with purchase, or that I got as many beauty magazine subscriptions as my mom would allow, they would ask me what could work for them. So I thought it would be fun to blog about it.

Where do you go for your inspiration?

I am constantly reading magazines and checking online. I love award shows. I love old movies. The makeup always intrigues me. YouTube is an amazing source of tutorials and knowledge. Several makeup artists- Lisa Elderidge and Wayne Goss have their own channels, and provide some great tips.

Tell us all your secrets–what is your favorite accessory?

My favorite accessory is probably a scarf. I wear them all the time- summer or winter. I just love how cozy they make me feel. They add a pop of color and frame your face.

Her latest tutorial. Get your glam on!

Her latest tutorial. Get your glam on!

Skin care product?

I love my glam glow mask right now! I’m addicted to the eye one and the mud one for my pores around my nose!

Make-up item?

I love the Hour Glass Ambient Light Powders. They really give you an airbrushed look without drying out your skin or settling in your lines. Next would be any YSL lipstick. So buttery and beautiful, I could wear them all the time.

You write a lot about dupes–which is the best one you’ve found so far?

Wet n Wild has really surprised me. I think their shadows and lipsticks compare easily to MAC. And I know other beauty bloggers have dupe boards on Pinterest that list so many WW products. My favorite dupe that is my most popular on Pinterest is the L’oreal liquid powder foundation that is exactly like the Giorgio Armani Maestro foundation. Exact match!

Goals for another year of loving yourself? (beauty-wise, blog-wise, etc)

I will try to work out more!! I really think I will be happier with myself as a whole if I tone up a bit. I’ve noticed my double chin is looking extra droopy lately. Too many donuts!

Also, I will not obsess over every little flaw. Lines and pores are what make us human. We aren’t plastic. And most people will agree that you are your harshest critic, so try to see yourself through other people’s eyes, especially the ones that love you. They see your beauty and spark when you’re not even trying.

*********************************************************************

I love her.  Thank you for pushing me to be a better me, Frugie. xoxoxo.

P.S. I just pinched myself with an eyelash curler and want to cry.  Can you do a house call??

P.P.S. Very likely, there may be a rooming assignment situation at Blog U, in which you find your nifty new neighbor Meredith, make-up brush in hand, expectantly awaiting you to work your magic EVERY MORNING at an ungodly hour.  Apologies in advance?

Feb 192014
 
This will ALWAYS be me...

This will ALWAYS be me…

Several months ago, something weird happened. Very weird. I started to care about myself.

It wasn’t a sudden, overwhelming recognition that Meredith, outside of sippy cup provider and snotty nose wiper, existed, but it was more a dull thud of a reminder that some part of her was still hanging around somewhere.  The thud grew louder and then all the messages my mother spent a lifetime imparting to me started to thunder.

You see, my mother loved beautiful things. She delighted in taking time to make her world pretty–both through loving on others and enjoying tangible loveliness. So stuff like jewelry and make-up mattered to her.  Not because she was shallow, but because she appreciated the beauty God creates on this earth.  I spent a lot of time thinking my mom was crazy. but when it comes down to it, I’m her daughter.

I’m also 34, really tired, and too often feel like I don’t exist in this selfless cloud of being a mom to two young kiddos.  Throw all of this together with lots of heavy missing my mom, and it was time–time for me to dig out my make-up. Time for me to start washing my face. Time to stop living in fear of skinny jeans (not sure my ginormous thighs are on board with this one yet). Time to consider stashing my diaper bag and digging a regular purse out from under my bed.

...but it's nice to know she's in there somewhere too.

…but it’s nice to know she’s in there somewhere too.

I subscribed to People Stylewatch. I cashed in my LivingSocial credit to score a sweet at-home gel nail kit and fell in love with it.  I learned what a hydrating mask is really supposed to do and couldn’t be prouder of the gorgeous Stella and Dot necklace I snagged from my online yardsale group.  I gasped in horror over the discovery of my ladystache and schooled myself quickly in the intricacies of home waxing kits. 

My sister is terrified. I tell her to table her fears and give it another five years–then we’ll be drooling over the Urban Decay website together.  In the meantime I paint her nails, run her through the rigors of my new 10 minute skin-care routine, and ignore her eye rolls.  Whatever, she’s still in her 20s and ergo, clueless.

My husband is a saint.  He knows not to ask; when I ask him to help me convert a office drawer cabinet to an accessories case, he silently reaches for the drill (possible Pinterest-worthy post on this later if I am feeling brave enough to share). Past experiences have proven that whenever something possibly related to my mom is questioned, things can get a little tearfully messy, so it’s best to just roll with it.  Poor man.

Don’t get me wrong; I have worn basically nothing except my sweats in this delightful February Winter Wonderland and can count on one hand the number of times I’ve broken out the make-up since the Snowpocalypse has started.  I will always be the harried, unbrushed hair momma trying to hide from you at the grocery store, I promise.

But…but it’s nice to have options.  To know that Meredith does exist and if I get my crap together, I could maybe even say hello to her once in a while?

The entire time I was working on this post, this song kept playing through my head.  Because we know the breathtaking power of God to transform us into beautiful things extends far beyond the magic of nail polish. xo, friends.



And stay tuned; on Friday, I’m sharing a very cool blessing that has come my way in the form of the lovely Rebecca from Frugalista Blog.  Frugie not only captures me with her beauty, but with her kind, patient and generous spirit in mentoring me through this new world of self-discovery.  I can’t wait to tell you more about this beautiful gal and all of her beautiful things.  Check back on Friday!

Feb 172014
 
Source My kind of gal

Source
The superfan CAN be you!

One of my happiest memories of our early marriage is holing up in the bedroom of our first apartment watching the Olympics.  We channeled in The Games by carefully positioning the rabbit ears “just so”.  As long as we didn’t move or breathe too emphatically, NBC came streaming in with only a teensy bit of black and white static, and we were in our biennial viewing glory.

Ah…the good old days… While we’ve now gotten ourselves all cabled up with far clearer reception, we’ve hit another glitch: CHILDREN.  While the little loves are adorable, they have absolutely no interest in The Olympics. I know, ghastly incomprehensible.

For several days upon realizing this, I panicked that they weren’t actually my children, that the hospital had sent me home with the wrong set.  It didn’t feel like this vein of thought was an over-reaction.

I’ve semi-calmed myself with the very likely possibility that it is their young age, that they may indeed still be my offspring and that more blissful co-viewing may be in our future.  But I won’t lie; this serious stuff, people.  I’ve never lived with a non-fellow Olympic psycho, and it’s a jarring shock to my aged 34 yr. old self.  Colossal blow.

What’s a super fan to do?  Hold my paper bag and pat my hand while I hyperventilate in the background, and I’ll fill you in on our game plan. Obviously, there are the usual bribes, retreating to individual electronic devices, and the old school move of trying to teach your kids something classy, like sharing the TV.  But, this is The Olympics, so it’s time to get creative, people.

Source Look at the pretty princess!

Source
Look at the pretty princess!

Play the athletic attire to your favor. Shamelessly. The figure skaters? Clearly princesses dancing on ice in those pretty dresses.  And who says the skiers can’t be superheroes racing to someone’s rescue in their tight suits and fancy helmets?  Use the cards you have.

Fall in love with the short events. The biathlon and the long program in pairs figure skating?  They’ll be there in 20 yrs. Trust me. Does the biathlon ever go anywhere??  For now, get your short track on and time the diaper changes around the sprints. You’ve got this.

Bed time? Entirely negotiable. Let’s be real. You’ve now been snowed in with your cherubs for weeks on end anyway. What can they possible need to do with another hour to their evening?  Bathe ‘em up, read those night-night stories, and stash them in those beds.

Sure, as they get older, you can try to explain the sports and have them try to actually follow, but we’re working with a 2 yr. old and 4 yr. old.  I have better luck with, “See who can guess the winner!”.  Lollipop prizes are never a bad thing?

If you’re a die-hard, true story: the 3am broadcasting? NBC might actually not be that crazy. Maybe, just maybe, the programming execs are parents themselves?

Bottom line: the world is on the line here. Step aside, kiddos, Mommy and Daddy are needed to contribute to the global spirit of camaraderie.  We all have to make sacrifices. It’s The Olympics.

Source Super-hero on the loose!

Source
Super-hero on the loose!

 

Dec 202013
 

My film skills are notoriously bad.  Flipping the camera upside down, shaking the screen, forgetting it’s on and recording the carpet for 15 minutes…I do it all.  Maybe someday I will get my crap together and treat you to a montage of this sweet skill.

While sadly, my lack of talent precludes me from a Hollywood gig, the exciting news is that I am SO AWFUL at video-recording, that sometimes I can still surprise myself.

A couple weeks ago, my husband and I were trolling through old pictures and we came across this gem THAT I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW HAD BEEN RECORDED.  When we found it, we both fell off the couch from laughing so hard.  It was awesome.

Remember this sweet photo-shopped selfie from when You have Lipstick on Your Teeth was released??

You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth #ITPRLipstick @meredithspidel

THIS is what went behind the capturing of this moment. Consider it my Christmas gift from me to you.

Tune out after 51 sec. because the guitar gets boring after that, but please, please note the highlights of me falling off the chair and then getting pissed at the camera.

xo with so much love, dear readers.

Holiday shopping #ITPRLipstick @meredithspidel

Nov 272013
 
Source A magical place indeed

Source
A magical place indeed

Previously, when I heard this tagline from Home Depot, I never gave it much thought.  I presumed it had something to do with drills and bits and building houses or some such business.  Probably making people’s dreams come true through a lot of hand-on hard manual labor.  You know, the stuff that I love. (If you didn’t catch the sarcasm there, please just give up on today, go start eating turkey and drinking beer now please–it’s probably best for everyone).

My husband adores the store.  I think he wants to live in the tool department, and honestly, with how often he’s there, it would probably be a gas save.  By the way, what is an appropriate Christmas gift for Christine who works at the Return Counter?? For someone so important in our lives, a fruitcake just won’t suffice.

In truth, I kind of like the store too.  It’s bright, smells fresh and clean, and somehow makes me feel kind of boss to be trolling the aisles and kind-of know what I looking at.  A weekend trip to The Home Depot?  Sure, count me in.

Source Kids love it.  Seeing things like this? Same thing as Disney, really...

Source
Kids love it. Seeing things like this? Same thing as Disney, really…

Then something happened to throw a bit a of wrench in the game.  We had kids.  Two of them to be exact. Two who need A LOT of attention, and lately have really been driving Mommy bat-crap crazy. It became a thing, when the first Home Depot run of the day was announced, I would suggest my husband grab one of the munchkins to take along.  I would stay home and enjoy the vacay of running herd on only one cherub.

Then one day, when it had been a very, very long time since I had taken a private dump, I asked my husband to take both of them with him.  He looked at me and said, “It’s really hard to shop with two kids.”

I just stared back at him.  Maybe there was some way to silently emblazen all the grocery store trips from hell I had endured into his brain with sheer will?  I tried.  It did not work.

He took one child. I pooped with an audience of one and we carried on.

Then this past weekend, we made a family trip of it.  I had to meet some people from my online yardsaling group there, so he would take the kids in the store until I finished peddling second-hand jeans in the parking lot and could join them.  Some people ended up being late, so I had time to just sit in the minivan and watch.  Watch all the dads with children. Screaming children. Trying to launch themselves out of the cart.

It looked genuinely hellacious for the dads.  No doubt.  But you know what I saw the most? NO MOM.  Genius women who set aside their Saturday guilt and cheerfully pushed their kiddos out the door with dad so they could clean the toilets in peace.  Or write blog posts, what-have-you.

And Home Depot?  I fell further in love because I saw at least 3 different kinds of carts that had fun seats for the kids.  Step aside, beastly grocery store car carts, this is the new generation of belting your kids into a metal cart.

Don’t get me wrong; my husband is a fantastic father and husband.  He is incredibly hands-on and does so much around here to help out.  But any future references to shopping with kids being a horror?

Yeah, I know.  DO IT ANYWAY.

Source Exactly what I was thinking, Home Depot.  Except maybe in a slightly different way...

Source
Exactly what I was thinking, Home Depot. Except maybe in a slightly different way…

And this is my hope for you, dear readers, on this elongated weekend of thanks and kicking-off the holiday season–may you find yourself with a moment.   That perfect moment of guilt-free ALONENESS while someone else manages the sippy cups, snack bags, and the impossible joy of taking little ones to pee in public bathrooms.

Somehow, eek it out.  Find it.  Grasp it.

And if it happens courtesy of Home Depot, feel free to hop in on the thank-you gift to Return Counter Christine with me.

Oct 282013
 

Gah!  Something they don’t tell you before you get knocked up?  You will never, ever again GET A DAY OFF.  You will basically work 24/7 until you die.  I’m so sorry, but it’s true.  What I wouldn’t give to rock a nanny or have grandparents who lived next door sometimes, but true story–I am on duty.

To help savvy up this conundrum and provide a little hope, the fabulous Alisa has once again swooped in with a solution.  Today she’s telling us that you CAN take the day off, even when at home with young kids.  Yes, it can really happen!  Read the good news below!

Also, take a minute to pop by the new Tips with Alisa page and feel free to ask her a question–silly or serious–we’re working hard around here to get her to answer them in a fun vlog, and she’d love to know what you want to her to answer!

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Being a mother is a tough gig. Especially to very young children who show their appreciation for all your love, affection and hard work by throwing themselves on the floor screaming in the middle of the grocery store or smearing peanut butter and jelly on the one clean thing you had to wear to the pediatrician’s office. Frequently, I work hard to keep them happy all day, clean up after them in the evening, only to worry about them when I try to sleep at night. Do I have anything to pack for lunch tomorrow? It’s 2am and no one has cried for me. Are they still breathing!? (Followed by mini panic attack, checking frantically to ensure that they are indeed breathing, peeing, debating on whether or not flushing will wake someone, tripping over the dirty laundry on the way back to bed, putting that on my mental to do list for tomorrow, then wishing I hadn’t thought about my to do list because it is so, so long.)

Source I love this picture so much it hurts

Source
I love this picture so much it hurts

Thankfully, I have a husband who is a STELLAR father; he works hard all day crunching numbers as a financial analyst and then plays hard with the kids when he comes home. He notices when my eye starts twitching because I just cannot hear the words “MINE” or “NOOOO!!” one more time and he takes the kids outside so I can cook dinner in peace. He knows that I eat, sleep and breathe children all day and when I don’t get enough of a break MEAN MOMMY comes out. (Imagine the Hulk with PMS. That’s Mean Mommy.) I’m a lucky girl to have a husband who gives me a break as often as he can, and sometimes without me having to ask.

But sometimes, on a Saturday afternoon, my awesome husband goes to fix a seemingly minor leak under the kitchen sink and discovers that a whole wall has to come out of the kitchen because the studs have completely rotted out. This spurs an impromptu DIY kitchen remodel that looks like something out of the movie “The Money Pit” and involves my poor husband spending every evening and weekend working on our kitchen for SIX MONTHS. (I know, I know. He’s smart AND handy. Did I mention he’s handsome too? Ok, I’ll stop now.) As you might imagine, constant kitchen construction + my utter ineptitude at anything involving tools + husband unable to breastfeed our seven month old = Mean Mommy on constant childcare duty.

For someone who was a social worker in a previous life, I suck at self care. My kids’ needs come first, my husband gets sloppy seconds and I get anything that is leftover, which most of the time is nada. But my husband’s sudden inability to give me a break forced me to make time for ME. It was hard. It made me feel selfish; when I felt better after having some alone time, I felt guilty about what I should have been doing and wasn’t. (Like how I should be doing dishes right now and planning dinner instead of writing. Whoops.) But I also realized that taking time for me made me a happier, more patient mom. It meant that the time I spent with my kids was quality time instead of just a countdown until bedtime. It meant that I was better at recognizing when Mean Mommy was about to rear her ugly head and I could do something about it before she snapped at the kids. I had to come to terms with the fact that I was not the super mom I wanted to be, and that even the wonderful and glorious job of raising beautiful human beings is no fun when you do it non-stop.

So how, you ask, do you take a day off amidst of the chaos of being a stay at home mom to a then seven month old and a two year old with no wall or sink in your kitchen?

Step 1: Take your to do list for the day and stuff it under the couch. Whatever is on there can wait. Accept that you are going to work harder on another day to make up for your lack of productivity today. The good news is you might actually have more stamina tomorrow after having a break!

Step 2: Put your most comfortable pair of yoga pants and a baggy t-shirt. Shower and bra are completely optional. If your ladies hang low and wobble to and fro, you might just want a little extra support. Your choice. When it comes to the shower, personally I like to save mine until the small humans are napping so it is long, luxurious and (hopefully) uninterrupted.

Step 3: Turn on the TV. Break out the iPad. Bring on the video games. I know,I know. You are starting to feel that all too familiar pang of guilt. Maybe you are starting to visualize your child’s brain melting like a crayon in your minivan on a hot summer’s day. Just remember that 364 days a year you rock your mom job. (Ok, maybe 345. Nobody’s perfect.) One day won’t kill ‘em. You may actually be surprised by how quickly they lose interest in the TV. Also try turning on some music. My kids can shake their groove thing for a surprisingly long time.

Step 4: Whip out your industrial sized box of goldfish. Place it on the coffee table and inform the children they can help themselves. For smaller folks, just pour about ½ the box directly onto the coffee table. For lunch, try peanut butter and jelly or cereal.  Whatever you don’t normally let them eat because you are a super mom, bring it on. The point is, feed them something that makes them happy. If you spend most of your days hiding carrots in your kid’s mac n’ cheese (guilty) or cheering your kid through every mother loving bite of vegetables until you open a bottle of wine so you can stop banging your head on the dinner table (ahem, GUILTY) then, take a break today. I’m not saying you should stop fighting the good fight over vegetables or chicken or just refusing to eat anything but cheese. I’m saying WAY TO GO. Way to fight the good fight. You’ve done SO well, that taking the day off today is not going to ruin it.

Step 5: If you build it, they will come. Gather together all of your cardboard boxes. (We constantly have stacks of empty diaper boxes and Amazon boxes hanging around our house.) Build a tower and let them knock it down. Add a sheet and build a fort. This is hours of fun.

Step 6: When the natives get restless, break out something new. Cars, legos, play doh. (Um, are Barbies still cool? I don’t know. I’ve forgotten what it is like to be girly since I live with three boys. Our house is like a mini testosterone fueled fart capsule. If you have girls, I’m sure you know what to do. Break out the glitter if you have to.) Basically, if it makes messes, it’s awesome. Repeat.

Step 7: Once your children are happily engaged, sit down on the couch with a nice (hot!) cup of coffee and enjoy a little bit of time for YOU. Call a friend you haven’t talked to in ages. Read a book. Pop your headphones in and watch your favorite TV show on your laptop.

The bottom line is we spend most of our waking moments doing our absolute best to be great mothers.  IT. IS. EXHAUSTING. We deserve a day off. Give yourself permission to relax. You may even surprise yourself when you find you have a little spring in your step tomorrow morning. Trust me, those dishes in the sink will still be there. (Or of you are really lucky, your husband will do you a solid and load the dishwasher for you. Now that is a win, win!) Besides, if you are doing your very best most of the time, one day of mediocre parenting won’t leave any lasting damage. And if it does, there’s always therapy.

Sep 192013
 
Source Step away from my oasis

Source
Step away from my oasis

Is it too extreme to wish for my own personal bubble suit?  If it could be one loaded with wi-fi and re-run episodes of Revenge, all the better.  When the heck does the new season start, BTW?  The thing is, I just want a second ALONE.  Without someone touching me.

My best friend tried to tell me about this need for space a while ago. “Somedays I just feel like I can’t stand to be touched by anyone any more,”  she said.  I nodded my head knowingly, thinking I understood.  Yeah, with my 1 yr. old son and nosy chocolate lab, I longed for private space too.  But it took a bit (as in a few years) before I fully got what she was saying.  I don’t know if it was my son getting older, the addition of my daughter to the mix, or my patience just getting thinner, but I soon reached a point where I could NO LONGER STAND TO BE TOUCHED.  At all.  As you can imagine, this was excellent news for my sex life, or just intimate relationship with my husband in general.  Now that I am really paying attention, I often read about/hear someone saying they are “all touched out”.  Now, I get it.

Don’t get me wrong; I love my family.  But I also love peeing alone.  The title itself was at least half the reason I was so honored to be included in the “I Just Want to Pee Alone” anthology.  Without exaggeration, I frequently pee with the company of three other persons and a dog in our teeny powder room.  I have no idea why my husband feels the need to hop in??

So recently, when the light burned out in our windowless downstairs bathroom, it became very, very dark in there.  The rest of my family took it in stride and just started toileting with the door ajar.  But I said screw it, darkness be darned!  This Momma was NOT giving up her daily solitary confined crap.  Oh no, bring on the darkness.  I was locking the door and would just feel my way through the pitch blackness to the toilet paper roll and hand soap.

You see, pooping is the only time I commit to being along all day.  Let’s be honest, it’s the sole reason I am psycho about my fiber intake.  If I get off schedule, constipation is the the least of my worries.  Without a daily crap, I truly have  no sense of self left in this world.  I am in a very dependent relationship with my Fiber One cereal, and I am not ashamed to admit it (*still awaiting endorsement deal*)

In short, there will come a day when my kids won’t want to come near me, but for today, EVERYONE wants to be near me.  And all I want to do is crap.  Alone.  Light or no light–details don’t matter when you hit this level of desperation.

Jun 122013
 


Source Was I was I my own missing piece all along?

Source
Was I was I my own
missing piece all along?

Not too long ago, I wrote about being in “The Drowning Stage”, this phase of life when I feel so overwhelmed by trying to keep up with the day to day of young kids that I feel like I can’t exactly breathe all the time.  I liked this post–A LOT.  When writing it, I felt honest and real, and I love honesty and reality.  And I felt super-supported by people who read it, and support is a pretty great thing in this life too.

So has it gotten any better?  Yes and no.  My good friend Steph over at When Crazy Meets Exhaustion left a really cool comment on that post, promising me that the bleakest part of this storm is temporary.  And her kids are very close in age to mine, so I trust her input (unlike those sketchy people with older kids who do amazing things like pee without an audience and leave their house).  The storm in general may still remain, but the nastiest winds can and do die down.  I think this somewhat abated chaos is where I am hanging out right now?

I have managed to cross a couple things off of my to-do list.  This is very good news.  Finding Effexor and the two best Mother’s Helpers in the world has helped considerably.  My panic attacks are less frequent, and I generally rage on the world less.  Rest assured, Mommy still has temper tantrums aplenty, it still confuses me how anyone has time to actually fold and put away laundry, and the overly perky voice of the bank teller still annoys me (I want her drugs ASAP).  But in general, I feel like I have a better grasp on regularly passing air in and out of my lungs, so I think we are making progress.

Also, I made time to go get my nails done.  This helps.

But I think the major difference has been that I realized I like myself better.  I am 33 years old.  I have lived most of these 33 years being on top of birthdays, never forgetting to stash up on toilet paper, and always planning my next step.  When this crazy Drowning Stage introduced itself to me, I no longer had time to cultivate my intimate relationship with my planner, much less remember to check my voice mail or sign up for snacks at preschool.

Source Put down the sponge and back away slowly...

Source
Put down the sponge and
back away slowly…

At first, this new caution-to-the-wind version of myself irritated the crap out of me.  Who was she?  And why the heck could she not think to take the garbage out?  Ugh.  But then I found that within giving myself over to the messy panic was a slice of fresh air.  There was a Mommy who gave up on a lot of things because she understood she couldn’t master them all.  She forgot to plan dinner, and let her husband snag some really yummy take-out (always happy to support the Chipolte empire).  She let her kids roll in the sandbox because it just took too much energy to explain why sand in diapers isn’t fun.  She didn’t get anything planned for Tuesday, so was available to help her friend with sitting last minute.  She RELAXED because she wasn’t going to win it all anyway.

This chick was kind of cool.  In fact, this chick was really cool.  She might not have matching hairbows on her daughter, but she could pour a mean glass of wine and chill with a neighbor on a Friday night.  Let’s be honest–the dishes weren’t going to get washed anyway.  And she sincerely apologizes if she missed your birthday and is truly very sorry about all the blog posts she can’t figure out the time to read because she doesn’t want to miss her kids growing up :(.

In short, I have realized I am an epic fail at this organized, on-the-ball thing, but I like myself better.  A whole lot better, in fact.  So if you’ll excuse me, I want to go hang out with this groovy gal and get to know her better.  I also heard there is a bizarre mystery stain on the carpet we need to doggedly ignore together.

Jun 032013
 

I could make a bunch of arguments as to why Star magazine is quality literature and deserves boatloads of accolades.  Granted, these arguments would make more sense if a) you were stupid and/or b) the margaritas had been flowing for some time – but I could make them.

I think the real bummer of totally lauding this magazine would be losing any shards of respect I pretend to maintain.  I’m not sure I can handle this.  Hey, a girl has to at least fantasize that she has some dignity, right?

So without debating the quality of Star, let me factually report all the positive ways the magazine has changed my life.  Just the cold hard facts, people.

1) If I am able to complete the “more difficult” sudoku puzzle in the back in under a week, I feel like a genius.  They call it “more difficult” for a reason.  Not everyone can figure it out on such a timely basis and maintain their strict 9pm bedtime.  This is hard stuff.

2) I feel pretty boss when I can rattle off a random fact about a latest celeb hook-up.  It may not be nightly-news-worthy, but I am connected with the world.  I know something that is going on and it has absolutely nothing to with where the latest hot park playdate is going down.

3.  Dinner conversation. My husband is thrilled to have solid matters to discuss when he comes home from work.

4. My level of senseless compassion has grown.  I have no idea why I just want to squeeze Kim Kardashian and tell her it’s okay to take off the hideous non-maternity clothes she’s been wearing in her third trimester, but I do.  I just like the girl.  Stone me now.

5. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.  My friends love me enough to pretend to be happy when I pass on the issues, whether they really chuck them in the garbage as soon as they get home or not.  And if I wasn’t able to finish the sudoku, they can feel smarter than me when they easily solve the puzzle.

6. The sense of accomplishment when I finish an issue cannot be matched.  Dishes may be piled, I may have not showered in days, and the odor from the trash may be scary, but dangit!  I COMPLETED SOMETHING.  Check that one off the list, baby!

7. I read about celeb’s lives in chaos and suddenly feed incredibly normal.  Normalcy seems so rare in my life.

8. Thanks to Star, I am beyond fashion-savvy.  Heck yeah, I know what a peplum top is!  I’m casing out the latest line at Walmart as we speak and planning a big $8 purchase soon.  I. do. fashion.

9. When The Office and 30 Rock both went out this year, I still had a solid entertainment option to fall back on.  Oh good night, did I just categorize Star with 30 Rock?  I am so sorry, Tina Fey…

10. I see pictures of celeb mansions and while a movie room would be cool, praise God I only have 2.5 bathrooms to clean.  Please, please do not burst my bubble here and point out that if I was that rich I would have multiple cleaning ladies.

The facts have it.  Star magazine is a blessing.

May 062013
 

The plan was not to even mention my mother on the blog this Mother’s Day week.  Sometimes, after a certain amount of sadness, I just don’t like being sad any more.  And sometimes, if I’m going to feel sad, there is something less personal about blasting my feelings to the entire blogosphere?

But then it hit me.  If I am talking about some of today’s funniest gal writers, I’d better sure as heck do it in honor of my mom.  She LOVED to laugh with funny ladies.  The Lucille Balls and Erma Bombecks of her generation are the Tina Feys and Mindy Kalings of mine.  She would have been so proud of all these modern-day bloggers/authors/humorists who flip motherhood/womanhood on its head by poking holes through all the traditional supporting facades and laughing at them.

It was a joy, a pleasure, an escapist delight to read these books.  If you are scrambling for the perfect Mother’s Day gift (read: need to create a very extensive and explicit list of appropriate gifts your husband can buy you), these books are the answer.  My mother taught me well that one of the best gifts of this world is laughter.  So read up, my friends, and here’s raising my e-reader to you, Mom.

Moms Who Drink and Swear: True Tales of Loving My Kids While Losing My Mind by Nicole Knepper

I had no doubt Nicole of Moms Who Drink and Swear would be funny, but what blew me away was the gorgeous heart that she poured into every page of this book.  I got 4/5 of the way through and started to tear up because I realized it was going to end soon.  I told her that I was speechless, that I didn’t have proper words to describe how in awe of her I was.  She suggested that I just say it exactly like that.  So I am.  Nicole, I’m speechless and you are such a smart, smart, witty woman with so many great things to say.  Thank you for sending me a slice of normalcy.

Part of My World: Short Stories by Kim Bongiorno

Good night!  I knew Kim of Let Me Start By Saying was funny (really, really funny), but dang it, this girl can write the crap out of a short story!   This book is perfect for the busy gal because Kim manages to suck you into another world in the matter of a few pages.  It’s pure escapism, and is purely wonderful.  Kim is a truly gifted writer and I’m sitting here, waiting with bated breathe to see what she rolls out next.  Watch her, readers, she is rocking the world.

Ketchup is a Vegetable: And Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves by Robin O’Bryant

Robin of Robin’s Chicks had me with the title.  In fact, maybe I should have just stopped there because it was almost too much relatably awesome for me to handle.  I felt like I was reading about my own life, except she somehow made it all really funny.  And her stories!  Listen guys, unless your post-baby bladder is somehow super-steel strong, you may want to throw a pack of Depends in your Amazon cart when you are snatching up this book.  Don’t let her fool you–she is kicking at as a mom of three young girls and she is my new hero.

Motherhood Comes Naturally (and Other Vicious Lies) by Jill Smokler

Slammed it out of the ballpark.  AGAIN.  After falling in love with Jill’s (Scary Mommy) first book, Confessions of a Scary Mommy: An Honest and Irreverent Look at Motherhood – The Good, The Bad, and The Scary, I didn’t think it could get more incredible.  But it did.  The thing about Jill is that she says it exactly like it is, no holds barred.  The refreshing hysterical honesty just washes over you in waves.  Even if you’re on day 3 of no showers, you somehow feel a little relieved, a little rejuvenated–YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  Even when you have to beg the security guard at the mall to help you find your car.  By admitting the scary, Jill just makes it all so much less scary…and so darn funny.

And, ahem…I would be remiss if I didn’t take advantage of this chance to pimp the book that I’m in, I Just Want to Pee Alone.  I’m so grateful to Jen of People I Want to Punch in the Throat for bringing us ladies together to celebrate all the parts of motherhood, including the ugly.  I know my mother would have been laughing harder than anyone when I wrote about trying to scrub her ashes off of me in the church bathroom with crappy paper towels.  Hey, if you can’t laugh over some stray cremains, what good is Mother’s Day anyway?

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