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.
Whoo boy I ended 2014 with a bust. I crashed and burned so hard on my NaBloPoMo effort which seemingly set things into a tailspin through the end of the year (I say this to justify if/when I never do it again).
December overwhelmed me. It chewed me up and spit me out. I did not have the fortitude to withstand a month of holiday parties, end-of-year activities, gift-buying, illness, traveling, trying to bake with my children, and more illness. I just managed to take my tree down today, January 8th, before its dry crusty branches spontaneously combusted in my living room.
But alas today I finally feel like I might be returning to normal. I managed to declutter my kitchen and I’m not going to lie – that might be my favorite accomplishment of the past 60 days. It’s an odd and alarming stage of life when you get serious joy out of things like clean counter tops.
Perhaps not unrelated to this development, tomorrow I turn 40. I can’t decide if I care or not. I didn’t think much of it, but then all of a sudden I did. Am I really 40? Is that possible? Should someone double check the math on this? It’s a mind game.
I’m just going to baby step it into this new decade and try not to overthink it. I have some very simple goals for the year ahead including to get more sleep, buy new socks and underwear, and remember to set the coffee pot to auto-brew each night so I can awaken to the smell and anticipation of fresh coffee each morning. The bar is low around here but I need some easy wins. Also I’d like to eat more pancakes made by Mr. Martha.
My husband rose to the challenge today and created this holiday masterpiece.
My kids loved it and at this point he has a pancake portfolio that could land him a guest spot on Martha Stewart. Or at least a temp gig at IHOP.
But there is a dark side to this type of picture perfect cooking, and I feel the need to shed light on it. This type of artistry takes time. There is planning. Sketching. Fruit slicing. For the love of breakfast pastries, I think the man had to julienne some carrots to make those turkey legs.
My children and I were beyond hungry by the time those cakes were done. My daughter shoveled that cake into her mouth so fast she almost choked. Know that for every beautiful recipe creation you see on Pinterest, behind the scenes there are famished families desperate to eat that damn food. Ask yourself – is it worth it? Or should I order them a pizza while they wait?
What a week! Here are some things I liked about it:
This holiday gift guide, which has gifts that give back to the women who made each item, who are all survivors of abuse, conflict or disease.
This sweet and funny story, which hits close to home as someone who is often telling my oldest child to ‘hurry up.’ (I’m working on it.)
Another round of celebrities reading mean tweets on Jimmy Kimmel, which never fails to make me chuckle
This post about the unquenchable thirst of kids these days, which I swear I was just thinking about last week as I was washing my children’s 472 water bottles.
This great post by Wendi Aarons about how to write a funny post.
I also read Amy Poehler’s new book on the plane last weekend and I loved it. She can do no wrong.
The friend who convinced me to do NaBloPoMo is currently writing her second science fiction novel. When I went MIA last the weekend she assumed I had thrown in the towel on NaBloPoMo, so she generously sent me a few post ideas, and she even wrote me a guest post in an attempt to resuscitate me.
Talk about friendship. Or maybe she just felt guilty for roping me into this. But I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt. She also said it was a good way to procrastinate writing her book.
As it turned out I had already written a post on the plane so I didn’t need to use hers. But now here I sit four days later, with no post in my brain and I can no longer use hers because it was only applicable to my first day back in the saddle.
So I’ll borrow her procrastination tactic and try my hand at science fiction writing instead. Here goes:
Marstark was traveling through time when he realized he had forgotten his laser sword back on planet Arfdrart during his battle with the fishling king, Wanooknen.
“Oh snardbart! I better use my zoinkstaffin to hit warp speed and get back there before the death swell hits land.”
He shot some fire out of his fingertips to re-start the blaster engine, and then shot ice out of his toes to prevent it from overheating. Then a little more fire. Just a hair more ice. Fire. Ice. Fire. Ice.
Marstark then combed his beard, tucked his tail into his leather pants and snapped himself into his Graco* 5-point harness car seat. Re-entry was going to be rough.
* Shameless attempt at a big brand sci-fi sponsorship. Pretty sure I nailed the demographics on this one. Graco – have your people call my people and we’ll talk.
When I was away last weekend my husband took the opportunity to step up his pancaking skills and debut the next animal in his series. Behold, the bull:
Honestly I worry he might be peaking too soon. Where do you go from here? Surely a pig or cat would just feel like child’s play at this point. If you are going to showboat like this then you need to be prepared for the consequences. The children now have very high cake expectations, and I think I speak for the entire internet when I say, Show Me The Manatee.
Also, clearly weekend breakfasts are in good hands around here so I see no reason why I should not be able to sleep in. Wake me when there is an edible marine mammal or forest creature on my plate. Extra syrup, please.
I’ve done it. I crossed that sacred line in a friendship with a childless friend and I asked her to babysit.
This friend adores my children – probably in part because I’ve never left her alone with them – but tomorrow that may all change. She has graciously agreed to help me out in a pinch and watch my kids for a few hours while I go to a meeting because my husband is out of town and every other sitter was booked.
After fielding questions from her like, “Do I need to feed them?” I assured her I would give her an exact play-by-play. I don’t want to insult her with my directions, but I also don’t want to leave her guessing. She is that super fun pseudo-auntie who never ceases to give my kids candy right before dinner, accidentally drop an F-bomb in front of them, get them riled up right before bedtime, and leave them begging to see her again.
Here’s what I’ve got so far:
- Don’t give them any candy.
- Don’t hang them upside down by their ankles after 8 pm.
- Don’t let them run around outside alone at night.
- Don’t give them cigarettes.
- Don’t listen to them when they say their bedtime is 10 pm.
- Don’t let them watch The Walking Dead.
- Don’t let the toddler poop on the floor.
- Don’t feel bad if the toddler poops on the floor.
- Don’t bother trying to brush the toddler’s teeth. Save yourself.
- Don’t feel bad if you can’t get them to go to sleep.
- Don’t feel bad if you can’t get them to do anything.
- Don’t feel bad.
I’m going to save a copy for myself as well.
I took a hiatus from NaBloPoMo. I am doing NaBloPoMo Light,* which allows you one break midway through the month so you can take a quick trip and not have to worry about posting while you travel, or worse yet, writing posts in advance like some sort of super organized and efficient person. That sounds hard.
I spent the weekend in Minnesota, where I attended a 40th birthday party for one of my best friends from high school. She didn’t know I was coming, and she hates surprises. So of course I nearly gave her a heart attack and jumped out of a hotel bathroom right into her face. Because I am a good friend. She screamed. She cried. Good times were had and it was a great night reminiscing and celebrating with some of my oldest friends who knew me when I had big, terrible hair.
As luck would have it, I was also able to get together with a gaggle of college friends on Friday night. I don’t know the technical definition of a ‘gaggle’ but in this case there were seven of us. I love those girls something fierce and it was so fun to spend time together. They knew me when I had short, mushroomy hair and they still befriended me, so I’ll never let them go.
Yes, my life story is punctuated by a series of horrendous hair choices.
I am still high on friendship fumes, which I’m hoping will sustain me through the winter. Quality time with lifelong friends is invigorating and soul-filling. I need to do it more often. One year ago I wrote about the challenge of finding new grown-up friends in this weird world of parenthood. Not surprisingly, that post also had a photo with an atrocious haircut.
Such a warm and friendly smile. I still think I should put this photo on a business card to hand out to potential friends, or drug dealers, at the playground.
* I made this up but I do think it’s a solid idea to offer tiered NaBloPoMo plans to remove some of the guilt and failure for we flaky people.
I found this on the kitchen table this morning amid a sea of holiday-related junk mail, catalogs and Christmas charity requests that my 6-year-old had opened.
That last part is kind of intense, but who am I to argue with it?
I don’t usually write posts about cooking or baking because I’m an oaf in the kitchen. But today I had a breakthrough so I’m going to try on my Martha pants and see if maybe this is something I’d like to write about on a regular basis.
This morning my children enjoyed a fun and delicious breakfast of panda pancakes. They squealed in delight at the sight of the precious panda face and talked about it for hours afterward. Even my husband could NOT STOP raving about the craftsmanship of those cakes!
Here is a step-by-step tutorial for how to make panda pancakes based on my personal experience:
Step 1: Marry someone who knows how to make panda pancakes.*
Step 2: Let that person make panda pancakes.
Step 3: Sit down and eat the aforementioned panda pancakes with your kids.
I hope this tutorial is straightforward and easy to follow. Feel free to pin it on Pinterest. I’d provide a link but I’m a social media oaf as well. Bon appetit!
*The marriage part is optional.