Bullet Points Make Lazy Authors Look Like They Did It That Way on Purpose

A very happy 2017 to all of you! It is my sincere hope that the new year is off to a merry start for all of you. As for me and mine, I’m happy to say we gamboled and feasted our way through the holidays with almost all our nearest and dearest.

Now, I’ve been told by a few kindhearted people that I need to blog more because they find my blog posts humorous and entertaining to read, to which I say, Aw shucks! To make up for the last few weeks of nonexistent content, here’s a list of what I’ve been up to in bullet-point format because I’m too lazy to put in transitions between the points so this post will seem cohesive and intentional.

  • Christmas preparation. I never realized as a kid how mind-shreddingly hectic Christmas is for mothers. Sandwiched between mile-high shopping lists and celebration logistics are class parties, decorations to put up and take down, traditions to honor/pioneer, stir-crazy kids who are on break from school and blame you that it isn’t Christmas yet, Santa pictures to take, cookies to bake, gingerbread houses to build, cocoas to stir, and gifts to wrap. It’s exhausting. I do believe, and please do correct me if I’m wrong, that December is a stay-at-home parent’s busiest month of the year.
  • Proof.

    Celebrating the return of my red hair. I had a blast with blonde hair over the spring and summer, but man it feels good to be a redhead again. I will say this for blonde hair, though: It’s MUCH lower maintenance than red hair. “But no!” you say, “It cannot be! I’ve heard blonde is constant touch-ups every couple of weeks!” Not if you do balayage, my friends, which is where they layer the color and leave a little of the root color so grow-outs aren’t so noticeable. With my blonde hair, I could do anything to it and nothing seemed to affect the color. Red, however? Red is sensitive. It’ll wash out no matter what you do, but if you use the wrong shampoo you might as well kiss your color goodbye. And I hope you don’t have white pillowcases because your hair color owns those now. They are red, just like your towels and maybe the collars of your coats as well. Might as well get used to it.

  • The British guy slaughter. Let me explain. Wes was gone on a business trip for a week in mid-December, so I figured it would be a good time to let my heart go on with Jack, Rose, and James Cameron. I poured a glass of wine each night for three nights and watched Titanic, the end of which, as always, saw me ugly-crying as I realized that yes! Her heart DID go on! She did all those things she promised him she’d do! As I dried my tears, I texted my best friend and described what I was doing so she could mock me because, come on. Who wouldn’t? When she finished laughing at me, she recommended I watch Atonement next, followed by The Painted Veil. For those not familiar with these films, they’re both excellent but, and this is a tad spoiler-y, they end tragically in the deaths of some truly likable British blokes. I think her aim in this was to see whether a middle-aged woman could, indeed, become dehydrated from crying at movies over the course of a week. As much as I enjoyed the quality of these movies, they did not, for some reason, prompt additional tears from me for reasons unknown. Maybe I was all cried out after Jack’s untimely demise? Who knows? All I know is that, for a week last month, it was very dangerous to be a British guy on my TV screen. They were seriously dropping like flies.
  • Medical mystery solved! Longtime readers will remember my years-long struggle to lose weight, with every attempt usually ending in either futility or injury. Well, the injuries have been mostly addressed and repaired, but the futility? That was a major issue. I gain weight like no one I’ve ever met (I gained ten pounds in four days, once. For no reason) and no amount of dieting or exercise can make me lose it. Well, my doctor has figured out why and, with any luck, the medications she has me on will start resulting in weight loss soon. If they don’t? Well, there are different meds. By hook or by crook, it looks like 2017 should finally be the year I finish losing the baby weight I packed on over four years ago. Here’s to finally looking like the gym rat I’ve grown to be!

That’s enough for now. Welcome to the new year, my friends. I hope it’s freaking awesome for all of you.

Not Quite the Promised Land

I’ve been a parent for almost six years. Six long, eventful years of having a tiny entourage in my wake at almost all times. It’s been busy. And stressful. And awesome. And messy. And the best.

Now, though, for the first time, I have both kids in school at the same time, twice a week. This means that at least twice a week, I have a slight panic that I’ve driven away from school and forgotten someone. I go home to my quiet house, where I ┬ádrink coffee in peace and watch grown-up shows loudly and without interruption. No one tries to drown LEGOs in my coffee, no one needs me to watch them jump on the trampoline, and I can listen to grown-up music in the car without worrying that my kids are going to learn a bunch of fun new words.

It’s terrific, really. I like it quite a bit, but I’ll admit that it’s kind of weird at the same time. Thanks to ongoing physical therapy and doctor appointments, I don’t have a ton of spare time to relax, but the time I do is wonderful.

So take heed, parents of young children: A time is coming when all your kids will be in school all at the same time. Peace and quiet will be yours. Availability to meet friends for coffee or make a doctors appointment is coming. It’s not quite the promised land of parenting, but it’s darn close.

Ostriching

1342565622332_8577846The sheer amount of not blogging I’ve been doing is astounding, I know. Truth be told, I was working so much and for so long that I kind of burned myself out a little. Between my tiny humans (whose care and upbringing is my sole responsibility between the hours of 7 AM – 6 PM Monday through Friday) and my writing career (which has been unexpectedly fruitful lately), I was working myself to death trying to cram two separate day jobs into the same twenty-four hour day.

So I did what any sensible, responsible adult does when confronted with burn-out: I hid my head in the sand for a few weeks. I took Saturday afternoons off to spend time with friends instead of hunched over my laptop. I laid down on the couch while my kids napped and watched mindless TV. I painted my nails, and folded laundry in peace, and remembered what it felt like to relax.

It was awesome. I highly recommend it should you have the opportunity.

What I wasn’t doing, though, was blogging, so sorry about that. Even writers get the blues, I guess, except in my case it really wasn’t the blues and was more of a crazy-around-the-eyes.

But now my new book (Bai Tide) is coming out in less than two weeks, and I have a guest speaker gig at my alma mater next week, and suddenly all these commitments I’ve been avoiding are tapping their watch faces and wondering what I’m planning to say to a room full of students for seventy-five minutes.

If I suddenly look like a bird, it’s because I’m winging it at the moment (ha! See what I did there? I made a bad joke!). Balance is not the kind of thing you figure out once and then you’re set for the rest of your life. Especially when you’re a parent. Kids are constantly changing, there’s no point fighting that because that’s the whole point! Still, it makes for some dicey situations.

For now, I’m cautiously back, and if you’ll excuse me, I have a presentation to prepare so I don’t look like an (even bigger than normal) idiot next week.

A Pretty Great Way to Start Off the Year

I don’t know about you, but so far 2015 is off to a pretty great start. I cleaned my house really well, finally got this huge stain out of the carpet in my dining room that three different brands of carpet cleaners couldn’t vanquish, and, oh yeah, my best friend (the one I helped throw a baby shower for) gave birth to a healthy, GORGEOUS, smushy little baby girl.

The two of us got along famously, though that could have been from the altitude sickness because I am just so very, very tall.

The two of us got along famously, though that could have been from the altitude sickness because I am just so very, very tall.

Ten out of ten recommend being on this side of the whole having-a-baby thing, by the way. You get all the fun of snuggling the delicious little newborn lump-of-cuteness and none of the sore nipples, sleep deprivation, and assorted other goodies that come with creating a brand new person using your body.

Still, I’d be lying if I weren’t enjoying some pretty intense nostalgia right now. There’s just nothing, I repeat NOTHING, like holding your own newborn baby. Memorizing every eyelash, letting yourself get bewitched by every tiny knuckle crease, counting chub rolls and then counting them again to see whether they’ve multiplied yet. It’s a super special time, and it’s only when your kids are way too big to swaddle that you really understand what all those old people are saying when they tell you, “It all goes by so fast! Cherish these days!”

Every time I leave the hospital I have to go right home and wrap my babies in great big hugs because man, oh, man, that time really did go by fast. And even though my son is more than half my height and my daughter no longer fits under my chin the way she used to, I can still remember exactly how they looked and smelled when we were each other’s whole world, and how it felt to hold their tiny hands and watch them breathe while they slept on my chest.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m making myself cry in a Starbucks and needs must hop off the nostalgia train before strangers start asking me if I’m okay. Because I am okay, I’m just a mom, and I’m really, really happy for my friend, who’s got her very own baby to snuggle and love and memorize.

That’s a pretty great way to start off a new year, no?

Christmas Shopping With Kids

christmas_stress_shoppingJust in case there are some of you out there among my blog readers who don’t have kids, or else have kids who haven’t been born yet or are still in that wonderful stage where they’re basically just Tamagotchis you have to feed every time they make noise, allow me to paint you a picture of the peculiar joy that is…Christmas shopping when you have kids.

So let’s say you have kids, and they’ve been good enough this year to have earned some toys under the tree for Christmas. Hooray! Now all you have to do is find those toys, hide them, and then wrap them without your kids knowing about it. Pretty easy, right?

Well, you can go one of two routes here. You can order gifts online and have them shipped to you, or you can buy them in a store. Let’s talk pros and cons for each.

If you go the store route, you get to try out and hold the toy before you buy it. Definite pro. Unfortunately, you either have to go shopping in the store while your kids are somewhere else or bring them with you. Definite con, because you’re either using your precious alone time to battle for a parking spot and fondle a bunch of Elmo toys in search of the perfect one, or you’re taking your life and sanity in your hands by bringing your kids to a store where they not only do not get to touch all the toys they see, but they have to see you buy them and then disappear them once they get home. If you want to give a four year old a rage stroke, that’s a pretty good way to do it.

If you choose to do your shopping online, you get to skip the crowds, lines, and parking lot massacre. Pro! But you have the challenge of trying to assess toy size, quality, durability, and function using nothing but a screen and some product pictures that are specifically designed to mislead you into thinking the toy is awesomer than it actually is. Con. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ordered a toy for my kids online and had it arrive looking either smaller, cheaper, or less useful than it looked online.

Of course, you could go shopping in person and then order online, but that’s really just compounding the shopping experience, isn’t it?

I wish I had some advice for you, but I really don’t. Whichever way you do it, you’re going to have a lot to do, but it’ll be worth it when Christmas morning is done and the presents have been opened and your kids are blissfully content and quiet while they figure out their new toys. At least, that’s the hope.

And if not? Well, you probably have enough wrapping paper and tape left over to make a perfunctory straitjacket for them so you can sip your coffee in peace. Merry Christmas, everyone. May your kids be well-behaved, endearing little moppets who love everything you get them and show you by showering you with hugs and smiles, or, at the very least, some well-earned peace and quiet.