Parenting from the bleachers

It’s the weekend! Time to watch my daughter’s basketball game.

I am a chill parent spectator. I clap when appropriate. I cheer politely when points are scored.

I celebrate the effort, not the outcome.

These days there are too many parents screaming from the sidelines. Do they realize these are just kids? I mean, Come on, Gary – this isn’t the Final Four.

True, the games are much more entertaining now that she’s in middle school. Faster pace. Bigger players. So much action! But it’s our job to show these kids that win or lose, we can stay calm and composed. It’s just a game, after all.

Oh hooray! A three-pointer! That definitely deserves applause. Clap, clap, clap.


Oh no. It was only a matter of time. SOMEone is getting a bit too excited in the parent section. Chill out, woman! You’re making us look bad.


What is she even yelling about anyway? Does she realize they are losing?


For the love. Her only cheer seems to be, “LET’S GO, WHITE!”

Every time they score – “LET’S GO, WHITE!”

If they need defense – “LET’S GO, WHITE!”

If they are running in any direction whatsoever – “LET’S GO, WHITE!”

She is the loudest, least creative cheerleader I’ve ever heard. I feel bad for her child. She has GOT to be embarrassed by this display.


She shrieks like a siren every time they score. I think other parents are getting annoyed by her. I also think she doesn’t totally understand the game.


Control yourself, woman, before someone asks you to leave.


Damnit that one was loud.


Did my husband just inch away from me?


Why is my younger daughter covering her ears?


Did I forget to put on deodorant? Why am I so sweaty? Can you see my heart pounding through my shirt? Because it feels like I’m having some kind of heart attack and maybe I peed my pants a little? Also my throat is sore but I still can’t stop myself – the words just. keep. coming. out.


I don’t understand why all the other parents are so quiet. Are they sedated? Are they even watching the same game?? These girls are battling it out and they need some encouragement! It is our parental duty to CHEER THROUGHOUT THIS ENTIRE GAME AND CELEBRATE THEIR GRIT!!


I need a nap. And a shower. Maybe a valium.

Me and my pit stains after each game, every weekend

‘Twas the season

The holidays! How about ’em, eh? Oh my. Really good stuff. Friends, family, food, festivities  – so many F words to enjoy.

This year I really had my act together heading into December. I don’t want to brag, but I began my gift shopping on Cyber Monday and scored some deep discounts (I feel like such a powerful consumer when I use the term deep discount). I was riding high on BOGO fumes and feeling pretty invincible – and it was only November 28th!

In hindsight I realize this early success gave me a false sense of security about my holiday preparedness. I held it together for about a week but the wheels started to fall off around Dec. 10th when I attempted to bake a holiday goodie. I use the term ‘bake’ loosely – I made rice krispie wreaths.

Wreaths were my mother’s hallmark holiday treat for the same reason I love them – it doesn’t involve the oven and there are only 3 ingredients.

The pinnacle of the wreath, as everybody knows, is the candy berries. But when I went to open our brand new jar of red hots (aka cinnamon imperials if you are royalty), I was alarmed to discover the freshness seal had already been broken. For the love of Santa! We couldn’t possibly use them. Who knows what kind of depraved individual had laced the candy jar with poison?!

I threw the jar in the trash, gave my kids a lesson on the importance of food safety, and for the first time in holiday history, we had berry-less wreaths. The disappointment was palpable as we realized that without the berries, they were just sad green circles.



I went to three stores the next day looking for more red hots and could not find them to save my life. Just as I was about to cancel Christmas I remembered – I WAS THE ONE who opened the first jar of red hots. In my holiday haste I forgot that I tasted them right after I bought them to be sure they would be wreath-worthy.

Son of a snowman!

I sped home, put on rubber gloves, and dug that candy jar out from the bottom of the garbage. I wiped it down with Clorox, but just in case any raw chicken juice seeped inside, I ate two candies and waited for death.

When I was still alive 12 hours later, I excitedly prepared to add the berries to the wreaths. Then I discovered that there was only one wreath left. ONE WREATH. So I bedazzled it in berries and ate that damn thing myself.



At this point I was exhausted and it was only December 12th. I clawed my way through the class parties, teacher gifts, piano recital, Santa pictures, social events and limped to the finish line.

Then I remembered that my daughter’s birthday is December 26th. Every year! How am I never prepared for this!? I extended last minute party invites to a few of her friends, but it turns out some people want more than 12-hours notice. Pfff.

We still had a nice, albeit small, party which was saved by my husband’s culinary prowess. He is my polar opposite in the baking department. Whereas I nearly die trying to make wreaths, he pulled off this ambitious Rapunzel cake and earned the respect of kids and adults alike.


It collapsed 7 seconds after this photo was taken, but that castle was delicious

Other holiday highlights include this tiny piece of salmon my mom saved in my fridge.


Hungry? Too bad.

My mom expresses her love for her children by cleaning their kitchens when she sees a mess. The holidays are filled with opportunities for her to sneak clean. It’s mildly horrifying and I always tell her not to, but she managed an attack one day when I left the house. She puts any morsel of uneaten food in a baggie. No cracker too stale. No carrot too small. Baggie. It. Up.

Mom is no longer in town but I carry this salmon around in my purse to remember her by. Just kidding – I ate it, along with half of a pickle, 2 olives and a spoonful of cheese dip. Happy New Year!

Surprise, surprise, said no one

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Another day, another sexual harassment headline. It’s all so overwhelming and sad and just really disappointing to see successful men fall from grace so swiftly.


My mom called the other day to express her distress over the CreepFest unfolding every day in the news. “Isn’t it shocking to see all of these stories come out?”

“No,” I said.

“Oh,” she said.

It was clearly not the lengthy conversation she was expecting. But I can think of several things that have surprised me more this week than these ongoing stories. For instance:

  • I went to buy someone a birthday card at Papyrus the other day and it was $9.99. THAT’S TEN DOLLARS FOR A CARD. If I wanted to spend that kind of dough I would’ve gotten her a gift.
  • I put a bowl of holiday candy in my living room and my 5-year-old didn’t notice for hours. She can practically smell chocolate on your breath over the phone, so this was kind of amazing.
  • I made quinoa the other day. That’s right, Martha – I can quinoa. I had been avoiding it due to the high-maintenance instructions. It needs to be rinsed 5 times! That’s cleaner than my kids. The recipe also said to ‘rub the grains’ and ‘let them settle.’ Should I play soft music for the quinoa? Does it need a blanket?

In the end it was good but then I dropped an entire bowl on my rug which took forever to clean up because it sticks to every fiber, so quinoa is back on my sh*t list and I’ll probably never make it again.


This is my rug after I cleaned up the quinoa spill


Oh wait, look closer and what do you see? Still. More. Quinoa.

So you see, dear mother, these things are all surprising to me. I was not expecting them = I am surprised by them. But the bar is so low when it comes to male pattern perviness that I dare say it’s more surprising when a man is respectful, no?

And while that is depressing and disturbing, I am hopeful that real change is in the air. Not just because some men are finally getting what they deserve, but because there is an entire generation of young girls who are listening and learning. Their brains are being rewired thanks to the ugly but important conversations they are exposed to around current events.

I was horrified last year when I had to tell my 8-year-old what the word “p*ssy” means in the context of the man who was elected to be our president. But then a few months later she brought home her third grade report about a topic that I did not really think or write about until I was in college.


I would say it was a pleasant surprise, but I wasn’t really surprised by this either. But I was definitely pleased.

Ho ho hello

Hi. I’m Amy. I used to write here but then life happened and the world became a depressing toilet and I told myself I was creatively dead. But I tend to be overly dramatic sometimes, so I am also reminding myself that you can unclog a toilet with a little force and the right plunger.

I spent a lot of time thinking about what to write in this post and even I am surprised I went with that toilet thing.

I don’t know about anyone else, but the past year has not been my favorite. I’m not even talking just about politics. But if I were going to talk about politics, I would probably broach it with my usual level of sensitivity and thoughtfulness. Maybe like this.


Oh sweet mother. She still has that creepy doll and now she puts clothes on it.

The confusing thing about waking up to headlines that make you want to cry or build a bunker every morning is that you don’t know if you’re going through a mid-life crisis, or just suffering from 2017 Syndrome. Am I mess, or is the world a mess? Am I floundering in the same toilet bowl as everyone else, or is this just my personal toilet bowl? Where is all of this poop coming from?!?

So I am coping in the same way many others are doing, by overindulging in premature holiday décor, lights and music. Michael Buble all day. My tree is up and already shedding needles like it’s about to die a dry, fiery death. At this rate I may have to buy another tree by December 10th but honestly I think that might be a nice way to keep the momentum going. WHATEVER IT TAKES TO KEEP THINGS CHEERY AND FESTIVE, CLARK.

I was going to write about some other non-toilety things, but having not written for more than a year, this 384 word post feels akin to a novel. This must be how Hemingway felt. I need to draw the shades, pour myself some bourbon and take a nap.

Before I retire to my sleeping parlor, allow me to share this drawing of Creepy Baby dressed as Mrs Claus serving a tray of gingerbread cookies fresh from the oven.

Mrs Claus

An artistic masterpiece circa 2017

You’re welcome, I’m sorry and Happy Holidays!! Wake me when it’s December.

Paging a more capable Tooth Fairy

The last time my daughter lost a tooth, the Tooth Fairy failed to visit not one, not two, but three nights in a row. My husband and I both felt terrible every morning when she awoke to disappointment.  But apparently not terrible enough because we kept forgetting about it by bedtime.

We are 8 teeth into this Tooth Fairy gig and I can honestly say it is one of my least favorite parts of parenting. Who came up with this idea anyway? A creature who sneaks into your room while you’re asleep, steals your tooth and leaves you spare change? Sounds like a crime scene to me.

I have yet to play the Tooth Fairy without breaking a sweat. Between my creaky floors, light-sleeping kids and heavy mouth breathing, the odds are not in my favor. And let me tell you – there’s nothing like that Oh Shit moment when your kid rolls over, opens her eyes and looks you dead in the face when you are midway through the Fairy deed with one hand stuck under the pillow. Honestly. I don’t need that kind of adrenaline rush at 11:00pm.

Not to mention the whole tooth disposal part of it. Are we just supposed to throw them in the garbage? Save them forever? Bury them in the yard? Are they compostable?? I have tossed some, but I also have a few teeth tucked in my underwear drawer, which is just plain creepy. Somehow none of the options feel quite right to me.

I thought maybe I was the only parent who struggled with this issue, but then a friend told me that he and his wife threw their kids’ teeth out the window. Granted they lived in Manhattan at the time, but still. Clearly none of us know what the hell we are supposed to do with these old dirty teeth if parents are hurling them out their window at innocent pedestrians below.

In this day and age, someone should at least start a tooth recycling program. Surely there is a way to melt the enamel and use it to make cars. Or football helmets. You KNOW there is a football team somewhere in Texas that would pay serious cash to have helmets made of teeth.

Until then I’ll just keep doing my best and try not to get caught. It seems like some parents are cut out for the Tooth Fairy task, and then there are the rest of us. Fumbling, forgetful, and stealing money from our child’s piggy bank to put under the pillow because we never carry cash anymore. It’s one disaster after another.

Fortunately this Fairy only has 32 more visits to manage before retirement. But who’s counting.

I forgot my hands. And apparently I wear a belt and size 14 shoes when on Fairy duty.

I forgot my hands.

Peace out, Halloween 2015

Halloween 2015 had some highlights, as does any holiday that involves wigs and Whoppers, but I am grateful this one is done.

For my daughter’s second grade party last week I signed up to make a Pin-The-Nose-On-The-Witch game because I forgot I hate crafts. After weeks of putting it off, the night before the party I finally made my witch.

She's a beaut, Clark

She’s a beaut, Clark

She is a shining example of my poor drawing and coloring skills. Don’t even get me started on those green penis noses. Other more talented moms brought Pinterest-level games and treats while I stood in the corner with my sad, scraggly witch. Of course I forgot to bring prizes for the game, which made it an even bigger hit. One girl asked me what she would win if she landed on the X, to which I cheerfully replied, “a sense of accomplishment.” She looked like she wanted to hurt me.

I realized I did not even take a photo of my kids together in their costumes this year. I felt bad about this until I remembered that I didn’t take a photo because my phone storage is full because I have SO MANY OTHER PHOTOS of my kids from every other day leading up to Halloween. For once they’ll have to suffer and use their memory to recall a moment from their childhood.

But alas the cherry on the cake of Halloween 2015 was when my 7-year-old threw up in her bed last night because she had clearly consumed nothing but garbage for 24+hours. That felt like I had done a really top notch job managing the candy factor this year. Needless to say I’m trying to block out the details of that experience, so let’s just focus on the good times we had with wigs and move on to Thanksgiving.


Preparing for The Big One is a Big Pain

Last week everyone who lives in the Pacific Northwest learned that we are destined for doom thanks to a cheery New Yorker article about the impending mega earthquake and tsunami that will crush us all. Needless to say the article was a total buzzkill.

I live in Seattle. I love this city. I have spent the past week in various states of horror, alarm, denial and overwhelm. It’s been like my own version of the movie Inside Out, but the main emotion is a girl named Panic who obsesses over catastrophic scenarios and shits her pants all day long.

On the one hand, I’m grateful for the heads up. Thanks, New Yorker, for describing in vivid detail that my neighborhood will be “toast” so I can plan accordingly.

On the other hand, what am I even supposed to do with all of this doomsday information?! It’s too much! I don’t do well in a crisis! My judgment becomes impaired and I lose touch with rational thought. If I should duck and cover, I will probably stand up and run. If I should run, I will probably stop, drop and roll. Surely there are others like me. Couldn’t you at least have provided a 1-800 number we can call to get airlifted out RIGHT NOW?!?

Focus, Amy, focus.

Fortunately a few follow up articles painted a slightly less dramatic picture and provided more detailed actions to take. Experts say the #1 thing to do is have a plan and be prepared. So I put on my grownup pants and found a list of items that should be included in disaster kits for people in this area. I went to Lowe’s in an attempt to start chipping away at the ten thousand things I need to purchase. Good job, Amy! Baby steps.

I got to Lowe’s and wandered around in a stupor for at least 10 minutes before I found anything on my list. I was so overwhelmed that the only thing I bought was duct tape. DUCT TAPE. I don’t even know why duct tape is on the list. Am I supposed to tape my house back together?!?

Fortunately I also have a Search & Rescue sign that I got at our block party last year, which you put in your window if disaster strikes and you need help.

I’m totally prepared. To tape this sign to my window and then die of starvation/injury/a nervous breakdown.

I’m totally prepared. To tape this sign to my window and then die of starvation/injury/a nervous breakdown.

My husband was gone last week (which no doubt contributed to my heightened anxiety), but he is now back and able to help with Operation Disaster Kit: Take Two. I’m going to let him focus on supplies from the hardware store while I stick to my strengths. I’ll be over here hoarding barrels of peanut butter, buckets of beans and military-grade containers of freeze-dried beef.

Now, who wants to come visit?

Sometimes the apple falls very, very far

My sewing machine has pretty much gone untouched for more than two years now. I was getting quite comfortable with the fact that my mother-in-law wasted hundreds of dollars on it, I am a colossal disappointment, and I will likely never use it again.

So naturally my daughter has decided that sewing is her life’s passion. This year she took a sewing class at school and over the past 6 months she has sewn more than I will probably achieve in my lifetime.

This is one of several tote bags she made.

How much does a 7-year-old need to tote, anyway? Sheesh

How much does a 7-year-old need to tote, anyway? Sheesh

This is a book cover / carrying case.

Includes a built-in bookmark (overkill if you ask me)

Includes a built-in bookmark (overkill if you ask me)

This one is the crème de la crème – a tablet case with a pocket for headphones.


I give the girl props on this one. The tablet does not belong to her – it’s a family device that she needs to ask permission to use. But sewing a case for it was a stealthy way to say ‘This Is Mine.’

Well done, child. Your craftiness both impresses and distresses me.

She has sewn hot pads, headbands, pajama pants – the list goes on. We have reached the point where my husband now asks my daughter to mend his clothing because he knows it will get done faster and better than if he does it himself or if, heaven forbid, he asks me to do it.

I would be offended if I weren’t so relieved.

So of course now here we sit almost two weeks into my child’s summer break, and what do you think she wants to do? Sew. And of course Mini Martha expects me to help. She is used to having a teacher. She needs a mentor. A leader. A guide to make sure she doesn’t lose a finger. And unfortunately she is looking to me to provide this support.

Meanwhile I am looking back at her like this:

I have been dodging the sewing bullet all week. I am running out of distractions and phony errands. I can only pretend to be on the phone with the cable guy for so long before she realizes we don’t have cable. She is hellbent on sewing curtains for her dollhouse tomorrow so clearly my only option is to wake up early and stage some sort of rat infestation by scattering mouse turds around the house and chewing small holes in the couch to convince her that our home is not only uninhabitable, but tragically unfit for sewing.

Clearly that is the only solution. Clearly.

She starts a camp on Monday and then I am off the hook for a bit. Here’s hoping I can make it until then without burning down the house. In the meantime I’ll be over on Craigslist buying up all of the mouse turds.

UPDATE: It looks like there aren’t any mouse turds on Craigslist, which I found oddly surprising and a bit disappointing. Not a very comprehensive list, Craig.

Guess what? Clutterbutt.

A few weeks ago I misplaced two tacos. No clue where they went. It still haunts me and I won’t rest until I find them.

Tacos poster

I’m not sure when I became a grown woman who loses tacos, but it seems like a step in the wrong direction. Today it’s tacos – tomorrow it’s my wallet, my phone or my children. And Lord knows I would die without that phone.

So I’ve been trying to get my act together. Make some plans. Clear my space. Focus my chi. I don’t really know what any of that means, but I do know that it’s been tough. I am the type of person who needs 6-8 hours of solitude to feel like I can accomplish something, so it’s a real struggle to Get It All Done in the 6-8 minutes of solitude that tend to come with parenthood.

Kids, man. They bring loads of joy but they are also little tornadoes, tearing your plans apart and ripping the tacos right out of your hand.

Step 1 of my Operation: Get Your Sh*t Together offensive has been to cut clutter and organize my house. Decluttering is both miserable and soothing. In order to cull through your mess, you first have to make an even bigger mess. Heaven forbid if you need to stop midway through – you might as well just burn your house down and start over.

On the upside, weeding through piles of things lets you rediscover lost gems and relive fond memories. For instance, this failed attempt to create a time capsule with my child circa 2013:

I got this Q&A from Pinterest. I don't know why I bother.

I got this idea from Pinterest. I don’t know why I bother.

Kids are fun. I saved this in her baby book.

I also found this old gal in my underwear drawer.

Spanx are so cuddly.

At least someone is enjoying the Spanx.

Poor thing has been swimming in a sea of old maternity briefs and matchless socks for a year. There are two kinds of people in this world – those who throw out a single sock when its mate disappears, and those who hold on to that sock, holding out hope that there will be a reunion.

And then there are those of us who turn old abandoned socks into doll-sized ski masks.

I should probably be in therapy.

I should probably be in therapy.

I’m not done with the clutter cutting, but I’m making progress. Next up is my closet. I don’t touch 95% of the clothes in there and have been contemplating the best way to cut the excess, other than lighting a match, and then I stumbled on this blog post. It describes my situation to a t(shirt). Ha I love puns don’t judge.

The gist is that you create what trendy fashion people call a ‘capsule wardrobe,’ which is a mini collection of staples that you wear regularly and can mix, but you axe everything else. Errything. This is now my mission. I essentially do it already by wearing the same three shirts each week, I just didn’t have a cool name for it.

I genuinely hope that clearing the spaces around me will help clear my brain so I can focus more and do some things I’ve been failing to do like write, read, exercise, invent something, cut my toenails, mow the lawn, learn to juggle, play the oboe, organize a flash mob…or honestly if I can just find those damn tacos I’d be happy.

Maybe don’t buy a minivan the same month you turn 40

So far life in the middle ages is going OK. Not the Middle Ages. Just the middle ages. As in, my 40s. My apologies to anyone who was hoping for a summary of life during the Medieval period. 

As the title of this post suggests, I celebrated turning the Big 4-0 by purchasing a minivan. In hindsight perhaps I should have waited a few months. When you are already grappling with the reality that you are Halfway To Death, it would probably be better for your psyche to buy yourself stylish shoes or a saucy jacket vs. a boat on wheels.

But alas it’s too late now. I am officially the proud owner of the most uncool car on the planet, and not surprisingly, I like it. It’s big, but so am I. It has power doors, which I deeply appreciate as a lazy person. It fits a buttload of people, and I have a buttload of friends.

Ok fine, that last part is a lie. I use the extra seats to drive around a buttload of kids who scream too much and leave a trail of crumbs and filth in their wake. But whatever. As my neighbor said, it’s only for a season. Someday these screaming banshees will be able to drive themselves and I can buy a new Mercedes with leather interior, gold-plated hubcaps and a crystal chandelier.

Until then, you will find me tearing around town in my used Dodge Caravan striking fear into the heart of every parent in the school pickup zone when I attempt to parallel park. COMING THROUGH EXCUSE ME PLEASE AM I IN REVERSE? WATCH YOUR TOES OOPS SO SORRY.

It’s not easy being that driver, but somebody has to do it.