Adventures in speed reading

I read an entire book last week. I know that is not generally cause for celebration unless you are, say, a 5-year-old, but it was a milestone for me. Sadly I can count on one hand the number of books I have finished since my two-year-old was born. Emphasis on finished. I have started many books.

I used breastfeeding as an excuse to leave a room and binge-read the Hunger Games trilogy because nothing helps you lactate like a story about children who murder one another.

I also read Tina Fey’s book because it was Tina Fey.

Other than that my reading habits have spiraled into the abyss of kindergarten tales, board books and the occasional IKEA catalog. For me, reading has become another casualty of parenthood – right up there with getting a full night of sleep, having privacy in the bathroom, and sitting down while I eat. It just doesn’t happen anymore. I try when I finally get a chance at 10:00 pm, but I fall asleep within 5 minutes. Is book-induced narcolepsy a thing? If so, I have it.

But last week I overcame the odds and managed to read Gone Girl. I was racing to finish because I’m going to see the movie with a gal pal (my apologies for using the term ‘gal pal’). Nothing motivates me like the promise of buttery popcorn and time away from my family with a dear friend.

Now I’m hoping to sustain the momentum and get back on the reading train because a) I realized how much I miss it and enjoy it, and b) my 6-year-old has become a voracious reader and she suddenly no longer wants or needs me to read with her.

I’m not so sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, I now have the opportunity to read for myself. Last week we sat in bed together each reading our own books. I loved it.

On the other hand, I withstood hours of BOB books, Fancy Nancy and Pete the Cat, only to be cast aside once she finally starts reading the good stuff. If she thinks she can read Harry Potter without me, she is mistaken.

Our neighbor's Little Free Library, which boosted my child's enthusiasm for books

Our neighbor’s Little Free Library, which boosted my child’s enthusiasm for books and turned reading into a competitive sport

Watching my kid learn to read has been one of my favorite milestones. I get giddy when I walk into a room and find her with her nose in a book. Of course at this pace, she will probably be reading more complex novels than I do by the third grade, so that will be fun and embarrassing for both of us.

In the meantime I need to find myself a new book. I don’t want to overreach and pick something too intellectually challenging. I need something easy. Something achievable. Let’s be honest, I need something that would appeal to an angst-ridden pre-teen who likes implausible story lines and then I *might* stand a chance of actually finishing it.

I’m coming for you, Harry.

The incredible disappearing kid

Parenting is hard. But do you know what’s even harder than parenting your own kids? Watching someone else’s.

Last night I took my 6-year-old daughter and one of her friends to soccer practice. For the purpose of this story, let’s call her friend ‘Lil Wayne.’

Note: I spent far too much time debating whether to call him Lil Wayne or Lil Jon. In the process I discovered there is an entire list of “artists” who use the ‘Lil’ prefix with their name, including a cat. A cat! It’s gripping stuff. Feel free to go read it instead of this post.

Lil Wayne is my child’s favorite partner in crime. He is her muse. Her troublemaking twin. The Butch Cassidy to her Sundance Kid (not sure what that means, just trying to sound cool). Basically when the two of them get together, all hell tends to break loose.

I spent the first 20 minutes of soccer practice trying to cajole the two of them to actually get on the field. They were tackling one another, playing chase, and for one frightful moment I lost sight of Lil Wayne until he reappeared out of nowhere. Apparently he had gone AWOL and climbed the fence. I’m just grateful he came back.

Eventually they calmed down enough to engage in practice, so I took the opportunity to check my email – OK FINE I WAS LOOKING AT INSTAGRAM, SHUSH. When I looked up after no more than a minute or two, Lil Wayne had managed to zip himself inside one of the team’s equipment bags. He was writhing around inside the bag like a tragic Houdini-gone-wrong scene.

Lil Wayne

It took me a few seconds to register what was happening. Why is that bag moving? Is there an animal in there? Wait. WHERE IS LIL WAYNE?!

Once I figured it out, I raced over to unzip him, terrified that he was having a seizure or was about to suffocate. By the time I got there, the other kids had crowded around him and were laughing hysterically. Turns out Lil Wayne was not actually dying, he was pretending to be a zombie. Of course! Because that makes total sense.

I fully understand the awesomeness of zombies, and I can even appreciate the humor of the bag trick – if you are a licensed magician. But moving forward I’m going to request that Lil Wayne save his death-defying stunts for days when his mother drives the carpool instead of me.

Shattered dreams of productivity

Today my youngest child is at preschool. A drop-off preschool. Like, I left her there and shut the door and walked away without her. It’s the first time in almost three years that I’ve had alone time in my house. Except for those rare occasions when my husband takes them both to the store or on a trash walk or something. But those don’t really count. I mean, they count, but they are merely brief opportunities to shower and pee in peace before the kids return. This, however – this is a three-hour freedom fest.

So here I sit. All by myself. So many things to do. So many projects to start. So many projects to finally finish.

Before I accomplish all of the things, I’m going to blast some of MY music. Music with swear words and inappropriate talk about naughty things.

Hmm I can’t find any super sweary songs, but I think there *might* be an F word somewhere on this album. That’ll do.

I should bake muffins. Yes! But I’ve only got three hours and I don’t want to spend it in the kitchen. I hate the kitchen.

I should refinish the new-but-used bed we got for my daughter. Yes! I’ll run to Lowes for supplies.

Now that I have the supplies I realize there’s no way in hell I’ll finish this in my remaining two hours. Screw it. Weekend project.

Maybe I should exercise. Or eat.

I’ll eat.

Where did all of these fruit flies come from? I wonder if I can kill them all while simultaneously clapping to the beat of the music. I’ll spend the next 2-7 minutes trying.

I suppose I should clean the kitchen. DAMN YOU, KITCHEN.


I should write a blog post. What’s a blog post? Words escape me. Where are you, words? Writing makes me hungry.

I’m going to dig out those cookies I hid from the kids.

I miss my kids.

I ate too much.

Time’s up.

I forgot to take a shower.

Summer is *still* not the season for blogging

This is a follow up to last summer’s post by the same name. Because I find myself in another summer writing slump and have decided that sometimes you just need to recycle old ideas and call it good.

This summer has been a welcome hiatus from the draining routine of the school year. It’s hard to complain when you can spend a day playing a little of this and a little of that, eating a lot of this and even more of that. We have enjoyed impromptu play dates, surprise dinner guests, and spur-of-the-moment outings There is something magical about the freedom of summer that is undeniably relaxing and rejuvenating.

photo (11)

There is also something undeniably chaotic about it. I often feel like I am living minute-to-minute, never totally sure what the hell is next on the agenda, where I put my pants, or what the next meal will entail – let alone who will cook it. WAIT. AM I SUPPOSED TO BE COOKING IT?!?

Not to mention the fact that my children have seemingly become nocturnal – refusing to go to sleep until the sun sets. In Switzerland.

Don’t even get me started on the state of destruction that has overtaken my house. Even my husband has noticed it, which is how I know it’s really off the charts.

But alas when the house is so messy I can’t see straight, I head outside and play Cornhole. It’s our yard game of choice this year.

It took me 12 different attempts to get a picture of this and it still looks dumb.

It took me 12 different attempts to get this magnificent bag-in-mid-air photo. I’m very busy.

I thought it would pale in comparison to last year’s Ladder Toss, but I was wrong. Not only is it fun to say – CORNHOLE! – but everyone seems to enjoy it. Or at least if they hate it, they haven’t told us yet.

What about Creepy Baby? asked no one. Oh, she’s good. She hangs out in my underwear drawer these days because I realized a few weeks ago that I needed to tuck her away before one of my daughter’s friends stumbled on her during a play date. I would hate for my child to lose friends due to my unsettling hobby. (More importantly, I didn’t want those mangy kids touching her ski mask.)

But CB did make a brief appearance on the 4th of July.

Creepy Baby 4th of July

Even I was too confused and disturbed by this image at the time to post it. I was going for artsy, but instead it looks like she gave birth to a star on my bed. Sorry, America.

On the upside, Creepy Baby got a shout-out in this round-up of funny moms online. I was beyond honored to make the cut, considering the fact that the rest of these women are truly hilarious all-stars. If you don’t already, you should go read their stuff. They are a hoot.

To summarize these scattered thoughts, I am loving summer and dreading the return of the school year (will someone else please pack my child’s lunches this year??) but I could probably benefit from a bit more structure again. Otherwise my children may never again taste one of my hot home-cooked meals. And I can’t let them off that easy.

Welcome to Hotel Horrible

I am on Week 3 of having out-of-town houseguests. It’s been great to see loved ones, but I’m over it.

First it was my sister-in-law, then it was my sister’s family, and on Sunday my in-laws arrived for a week. They drove across the country and are sleeping in their RV in front of my house. It’s a little weird. They have their own toilet in there and I can wave to them from my kitchen window. I can’t actually see into the toilet area – I believe it’s called a ‘bathroom’ – but once you realize they can poop in your driveway it starts to feel like an RV is just one giant porta potty.

Then again, they have cable TV in the RV and I don’t have it in my house, so who’s the savage now?

Unfortunately for my in-laws, being the last in our long line of houseguests means they are getting the leftovers. The scraps. I am tired, and fresh out of ideas for how to entertain other people. Yesterday the agenda was: Napping. Every single person attempted a nap at some point. I also gave them some cheese and crackers, so that was pretty awesome of me.

I failed to consider how exhausting it would be to schedule all of our summer visitors back-to-back. Thank goodness for the greatest form of free entertainment ever created. Say it with me, kids: A Trash Walk . That’s right – we have taken each one of our visitors around our neighborhood to pick up garbage. Martha Stewart would be horrified by my hostessing skills.

But you know what? They all liked it. From ages 2-70, every person found enjoyment in grabbing trash. My nephews were delighted by the number of socks we found (5!).

Let me know if this brown sock is yours

Let me know if this brown sock is yours.

It’s always fun and disturbing to guess the origin of odd pieces of trash. Who loses one sock? What type of murderer dropped a single surgical glove in a parking lot? Don’t even get me started on the jewels you can find near a 7-11. Let’s just say there are a disproportionately high number of Big Bite hot dog wrappers in nearby bushes. Either Big Bite customers are more likely to litter, or they have terrible aim when trying to hit a trash can. Someone should do a study on this.

I don’t know what I’m going to do with my in-laws for the next four days. Maybe clean out the garage? Or ask them to help fix my garbage disposal? Those are real ideas that my husband and I have discussed. But once I see them typed out I realize how horrible they are, so I’ll try harder. Maybe we’ll get started on that Big Bite study.

Let’s get trashy

It is once again Trash Grabbing Season in our house. I missed the opportunity to tout the trash grabber as a fabulous Father’s Day gift again this year, but I cannot overstate the value we have gotten out of this handy item. It’s the perfect post-dinner activity – especially if you find a regular walk to be slightly ho-hum. Who wants to gaze at beautiful surroundings, or have a meaningful conversation, when you can instead focus on finding and touching other people’s garbage?

My husband loves the grabber I got him last year so much he bought a second one. Now both of the kids can use one. Here’s a photo of my two-year-old using a trash grabber.

photo 5

If you have never experienced the pain of watching a toddler try to use a trash grabber, let me describe it for you. That piece of trash will disintegrate, turn into dust and reappear as a tulip before your child manages to pick it up.

On the upside, having two grabbers has introduced an intoxicating level of competitiveness to our Trash Walks. Now we race to see who has the dexterity to pick up the smallest pieces of garbage first. If we win, we pump our fists in the air and yell “BOOM Shocka Locka!” And then we make tons of lame jokes about how we like to ‘trash talk’ one another (get it? GET IT?!?).

By ‘we’ I obviously mean ‘me,’ and yes – my family grows tired of me quickly.

I admit there is a risk that this competitive garbage picking hobby could become unhealthy. The other day it occurred to me that I could throw a few pieces of trash out my car window to give myself an edge for that evening’s walk. I didn’t do it! Calm down. But I do have a wide array of garbage in my car at all times, so I’m really hoping I can resist the temptation.

What a difference a year makes

Last year at this time my daughter had just graduated from preschool when she informed me that she knew “all of the bad words.” I was caught off guard and worried about where she might have heard such obscenities. She then shared them with me.

The bad B word was “Butt.” The bad S word was “Stupid.” The bad H word was “Hate.” The bad N word was “Nipple.” And the bad “IHB word” was “I Hate your Butt.”

It was a sweet and funny moment and I was grateful for her innocence. Ahh the naivete of youth.

Fast forward one year as my daughter is about to finish kindergarten. Yesterday she looked at me and asked, “Mama, what’s a motherf*cker?” But she didn’t use the asterisk.

Over the past two weeks my dear sweet child has unleashed a slew of curse words that we had no idea she knew. Sometimes she even uses them correctly.

I’d like to thank the public education system for enlightening my child this year beyond my wildest dreams. Not only did she learn to read and write, but her vocabulary now matches that of a middle-aged truck driver (no offense to truck drivers).

I’d also like to give a special shout-out to the foul-mouthed heathen who shared these delightful terms with my child at the lunch table. May your potty mouth serve you well in the years to come. Like when you’re sitting in detention.

Despite my best efforts to thwart my child’s fascination with these brave new words, I can tell by the twinkle in her eye that she is eager to use them. So now my summer objective is to teach her, earlier than I had planned, one of life’s most important lessons: With great profanity comes great responsibility. Wish me luck. I fucking need it.


Lately I’ve had a case of Overwhelm with a side of the Blahs, and I haven’t been sure what to do about it. Then the other night I let my husband put the kids to bed while I went to a movie by myself. That was the smartest decision I’ve made in a while.

I rarely get out of the house alone anymore unless it’s for a parent-related meeting or function. I’m terrible about pursuing Me Time because I either feel guilty for leaving my family, I talk myself out of the need, or I just get lazy. But the other night was a great reminder of why I need to do it.

I got to sit where I wanted to sit, I didn’t have to share my popcorn, and I didn’t have to listen or speak to anyone for more than two hours. Plus I am a freak about people talking in movies – NO REALLY PLEASE STOP TALKING – so it’s best for me to go alone and spare others my neurotic side eyes. I KNOW IT’S ONLY THE PREVIEWS BUT I STILL DON’T WANT TO HEAR YOU SPEAKING. OR MOUTH BREATHING. OR EATING.

I don’t want to overstate the rejuvenating powers of a solo movie, but I felt like a new woman afterward. The next morning I must’ve still been high on theater fumes because I restarted my gym membership and worked out for the first time in eons. Then I came home and made kale chips.

It was like an out of body experience.

I may never manage to workout or eat kale again, but I am committed to more movie dates with myself. Because Mama needs to refuel every once in a while. Not to mention, nothing clears the mind and lifts the spirit like watching Hugh Jackman drop his pants for the sake of art. Seriously if you saw the X-Men movie, do you think he used a butt double? And if you could have any mutant power, which would it be? My superhero would be named Kale and she would silence chatty moviegoers with her bitterness and scornful glances.


Here’s to pushing the restart button. May your summer have both Me Time and We Time. Unless you claim that you don’t need any Me Time, in which case Kale shoots you a side eye, flaps her leaves and says, “Pfff shush.”

How I Write

I’ve been tagged to write a post about my writing process as part of a blog hop or tour or something like that. I’ve enjoyed reading other people’s posts about their process. Some of them have been useful and given me ideas for how to better structure my approach to writing. And many of them have given me a sense of relief, seeing that others battle similar writing demons.

What are you working on?

Um, I’m writing this blog post. What kind of question is this? Am I supposed to be working on multiple writing projects? WHY DO YOU MAKE ME FEEL SO INFERIOR?!?

How does my work differ from others in my genre?  

I have no clue what genre I’m in, but two weeks ago I was pondering post ideas. I have been overwhelmed lately with a variety of parenting-related things that I knew had the potential to be relatable posts. But instead I wanted to write about chickens. I could not let it go. I thought about that chicken post for DAYS. Frightening, I know.

So I guess you could say that I tend to be attracted to the random and absurd.

Why do I write what I write?

I love anything that makes me laugh, so I typically write about things that make me laugh. I am my own best audience. Often times I am also my only audience.

How does my writing process work?

Lately I can barely manage to eek out one post per week. I am really struggling to find the time to write. I don’t want to blame my kids, but it’s totally their fault. (Ok fine,it may also be due to my lack of process. I’m working on it.)

I tend to write either during my daughter’s nap (increasingly short and rare), or after the kids go to bed. I am not a morning writer, despite my best efforts. But I’ll keep trying, because I love the taste of coffee and failure.

I have two styles of writing – the overthought, overworked post (a la the chickens) which can be painful for me, or the underthought, underworked post (a la everything I wrote during NaBloPoMo in November) which can be painful to read.

As much as I don’t want this blog to be a diary about the nachos I ate yesterday or the shitty haircut I got (again), I did like how the deadlines of NaBloPoMo forced me to write every day. Because I tend to lack self-discipline. If I can postpone a post, I will.

And yet I get angsty and sad-faced when I don’t write regularly.

So I am toying with the idea of giving myself fake deadlines and committing to something like two posts per week. I realize this is not a recipe for superb writing, but I can’t work on my quality without having any quantity. It might be my summer writing experiment. See you in September, said all three readers.


Thanks to Leigh Ann for the prompt. I’m supposed to tag two other people to do it too if they want, so I’m tagging Christine from Naptime Writing. She is a thoughtful writer who has a magical way of stringing her words together. She was also just named a BlogHer Voice of the Year. I’m also tagging Lillian from It’s a Dome Life. She’s a talented artist and one of the first bloggers I met online.

The chickens are coming

The other day a chicken walked in my front door. It wandered over from the neighbor’s house.

I do not live in a rural area. These are city chickens. They supposedly live in a chicken coop, except when they escape and fly over the fence to terrorize my family and claw holes in my yard.

I don’t know if urban chickens are more bold and brazen than their cousins back at the farm, but these little cluckers seem to have a level of confidence and swagger that I did not expect from poultry. I was a little rattled by the fowl intrusion, but I shooed her away and went on with my day.

Then the next day I called a nearby preschool to ask a few questions about their program. In the span of her two-minute overview, the director informed me that the school has chickens roaming the playground with the kids. It is clearly considered to be one of their competitive differentiators.

I don’t know, I was kind of hoping she’d talk about their childcare philosophy, teachers or curriculum, but sure – tell me more about your chickens.

Listen, I know chickens are the new black. I wholeheartedly support the ‘local food’ movement and the many benefits that come from sourcing your own food. But at some point you have to stop and ask yourself – are we placing a tad too much importance on chickens? Have we given them unnecessary amounts of authority? Isn’t anyone worried that the chickens are starting to feel entitled?

Today they are barging into our homes uninvited and playing pat-a-cake with our children. Tomorrow they will be taking our jobs and running for office.

The Future

The Future

Wake up, America. Do not be naïve to the Chicken Agenda. Didn’t you see the movie I, Robot? Me neither. But I did see the trailer, which was enough to justify my theory that if we start to welcome the chickens into our homes and elevate their status, they will eventually overtake our society. Before you know it we’ll all be living in cages while the chickens sleep in our beds and eat Human Nuggets for dinner. Even Will Smith won’t be able to save us. (Seriously what the hell happened to that guy? Where has he been? Shouldn’t we tell him about the chickens??)

I don’t want to be an alarmist. Clearly. I’m just saying keep an eye on this chicken thing. Have they simply usurped dogs to become the chic pet du jour, OR have they infiltrated our society? Only Will Smith will know for sure.