Monday, April 27, 2015

Mad Mondays: Google and the Terribe Twos

I have previously mentioned my love hate relationship with Google. Google is like a bottle of tequila. We think it will make us feel better, we indulge, and then we end up feeling like, well, not better. We vow to never do that again. I am done with you, Google! Then an impossibly long day finally ends, the kids are finally asleep, and you think, "Well, it's late. I have had a long day. I need a little reassurance. It's only a click away."

When you are an avid writer you have to be an avid reader, too. I love reading blogs. They tend to be more real then social media. On Friday I was having a particularly rough morning with my two year old. I was sitting on the couch with him enforcing a time out, asking him to say sorry to Mommy for hitting. Let me tell you, two year olds are as resilent as spies when they don't want to tell you something. After this fiasco, I Googled "terrible twos blogs" in search of an internet hug and consolation that I was not alone, in search of other stories from the trenches of raising a toddler discovering his inner devi... I mean growing independence. I'm a needy sonofabitch, aren't I? In all honesty, though, without coworkers to run things by, we need a network of people who can nod and smile and say, I've been there.&. Obviously, my living breathing friends are much better for this (kids or no they all have wisdom to share).  But that Google is just so accessible and inviting, and I am always up for a good read. Win win, right? Let me tell, you I would have been better off cracking open the tequila, nevermind that it was 10:00 A.M.

My oldest is almost six, so it's not like I haven't been here before, although with him it was the tyranical threes. Anyway, with Google at my finger tips, I typed in, &terrible twos blogs& and the FIRST thing to pop up was an article on Baby Center entitled, Are Parents To Blame for the "Terrible Twos"?! Literally, that was the first thing that came up. That made me feel so much better, because you know when you get assaulted by your own thirty pound child you feel like a stellar parent and a solid human being, so it is necessary for your ego to be taken down a peg. Google doesn't want you to go around thinking that normal two year olds with decent parents act like howler monkeys high on pixie sticks. So, in case you were wondering, it's your all your fault. If you were a good parent your two year old would love broccoli, spend his days quietly coloring (in an educational coloring book, not on the walls), and only speak when spoken to, responding with "Yes M'am and no M'am.". Feel better?

Am I being over sensitive to this article? Maybe, but really, the first thing to pop up? Now, my writing may not be notorious enough to pop up as the first Google hit, but I feel it is my duty to give you the real scoop here. Welcome to Google Addicts Anonymous. Recovery is possible.

The author of this article begins by acknowledging that all kids are different, with the exception of her own kids who are all exact replicas of each others' perfection. That last part was implied. She then goes on to tell us that while we naive fools may think that the terrible twos is a universal phenomenon and a normal developmental phase, we have been misinformed. Although two year olds' growing mobility and independence can get them into trouble, "How we respond to these developmental changes counts for a lot," and "Can our parenting contribute to toddler behavior problems?". So, I am guessing yelling, "I've had it with you today!" at 10:00 A.M. isn't particularly productive? I am so glad I Googled that. Next I am going to Google appropriate ways to respond when your sweet innocent baby turns into an unrecognizable, destructive, "go away, Mommy", spewing spawn before your very eyes.

Don't worry, we are covered. This incredibly helpful and not and all sanctimonious article sites a study with the enormous experimental pool of 59 parents questioned about their parenting methods. It was found that half of these toddler's behaviors of acting out could be linked to the parents' approach to discipline. Wow, what a thorough study. So you are telling me 29.5 toddlers can blame their parents for their toddler behavior?  Can they get that in writing to show their future therapists and correctional officers? What exactly were discipline approaches of these parents? A little more information would have been helpful. I am suddenly taken back to my experimental psychology class. Nothing ruffles my feathers like limited undefined research.

In a nut shell, the study found that toddlers who had permissive mothers and strict fathers had more behavior problems, so I guess the good cop bad cop thing is a crap shoot. Okay, so the concept that authoritative parenting, or presenting clear boundaries with love and guidance, is the most beneficial is not a new belief. Nor am I saying it's wrong. However, parenting in this manner will sadly not immune us from the terrible twos, the tyrannical threes, the fearsome fours... well, you get the picture.

The author feels it is important to add that the concept of the terrible twos is a cultural phenomenon. In the Mayan culture and in many other non Western cultures, young toddlers "generally get their way - at least in some respects". In many cultures people recognize that very young toddlers shouldn't be expected to share or follow other rules for which they are not ready. Wait, I thought permissive mothers were to blame for their toddlers' unsavory behaviors. Now our mistake is asking our toddlers to share and follow rules? Make up your damn mind, woman! Am I supposed to give my kid clear, concise limits and boundaries or am I suppose to let him do whatever the hell he wants? Hmmm, I am going to go out on a limb and say this is not a dichotomous situation.

So you see, if you are a permissive parent, you are to blame when your child goes through the terrible twos. On the other hand, if you give your child rules and expect them to share, you are to blame when they go through the terrible twos. Got it?
Now, apparently I was alone in my ruffled feathers response to this article, as I read a lot of agreeable comments. One grandmother chimed in that she doesn't believe in the terrible twos, only the terrific twos. I may have thrown up in my mouth a little.

Don't get me wrong, two year olds ARE terrific. It is amazing to watch them unabashedly discovering the world. My little guy finds joy in the simplest things and it rubs off on me. I wouldn't change a thing about his precocious little nature. Two year olds are sweet and smiley and simple and tons of fun. They open our eyes to the simple joys of every day life. But they can also drive us to drink sometimes and it is okay to acknowledge that. Also, it is normal. The mere task of keeping a two year old alive on a daily basis is exhausting. If you are wondering why your two year old can be a sweet little cherub one minute and a mini tornado the next and Google has failed to give you a direct answer, I'm here for you. The reason is - drumroll please -  because they are a two year old. Or three year old. Or four year old. Or teenager. It is not because you have too many or too few rules, or because steam comes out of your ears when you find a blueberry smashed into your carpet, or because you don't give your kid enough freedom to explore. There, feel better now? Me, too. Now go make yourself a margarita, you've earned it. Here's to a virtual toast. WAIT! Before we hit the button on that blender we had better Google whether drinking in front of our kids will positively or negatively affect their development....

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Here's To the Outliers

A good friend posted this on my Facebook wall and I couldn't agree more. She shared it with me because it pertains to raising my oldest son. Of course, this quote is true of all children, but as I have mentioned my oldest is somewhat of an outlier. You won't detect this if you meet him or even if you are one of his teachers, because like most of us he has learned to blend in and to do what is expected of him. He doesn't get in trouble at school, and he learned the hard way that crying at drop off would make him the object of ridicule because the other kids stopped doing that after the first week of school. Instead he will he will walk into school with his little eyes blinking rapidly, his face contorted in a way that only Mommy can see he is holding back the tears. Once he gets there he interacts well with the other kids and he does his work well. He is not shy and he makes friends easily. However, a noisy crowded lunchroom or bathroom is overwhelming for him. The smell of hot lunch makes him gag. Being away from home for seven hours is too much for him. He does early drop off with his dad on Fridays, not Tuesdays. If asked to do early drop off on Tuesday it will be a struggle to get him out of the car. He fixates on things, and remembers everything, like the crowded noisy lunchroom at his previous school. 

All of the environmental stimuli I mentioned are innocuous, right? Kids go to school six or seven or eight hours a day five days a week. They have twenty minute lunches in noisy lunchrooms. They use the bathroom at school. They say goodbye to Mom or Dad in the morning and reunite in the afternoon. Kids start kindergarten and then move up the ladder. After my son had completed his second year of preschool there was no reason for me to question the next logical step of full day kindergarten, and I passed the little twinge in my gut off as run of the mill transitional nostalgia. 

The school social worker, principal, and teacher saw his crying and feeling sick in the lunchroom and having to be carried into the classroom in the morning under the watchful eye of his classmates (none of whom were exhibiting any of these behaviors going into October) as an adjustment period. He would need to learn to deal with it. All kids do. Anxiety is treated with exposure not avoidance, and we all need to learn to adapt to our environment. I have a degree in Psychology and I am no stranger to the mental health field. I know this. But I don't agree. I don't accept. At least not in all situations.

In other words, there is no one size fits all solution. If I tell my son, "You have to do what everyone else is doing and act like everyone else is acting" then how will I turn around and tell him not to follow the crowd and give in to peer pressure? How will I teach him to be himself? Is it always necessary to mold the individual to fit the environment, or is it sometimes better to find an environment in which the individual can thrive and not merely survive? if I keep my smart, quirky, sensitive, intuitive, sometimes obsessive child in a traditional school setting "like everyone else" he'll survive. But like all parents I want more for him than just survival. I want him to thrive and I won't settle for anything less.

Of course, I am in no way suggesting that children don't thrive in a traditional school setting, or that it is not best for many if not most children. Most parents don't question sending their children to school not because it is the logical next step, but because it gives them the opportunity to thrive and to form their identity. Of these children going to grammar school, many will pass the original jitters and successfully find a niche in school. Some won't. Some children will be unable to sit through an entire school day without bouncing out of their seats. Some will require more daily physical activity to be productive. Some will find a classroom setting distracting and overstimulating. Still others will have difficulty keeping up or will find that they are not visual learners. Finally, there will be those children with psycho-social/emotional idiosyncrasies. Of these outliers, some will eventually have a diagnosis. Some won't. Many will adjust and thrive, either by virtue of growth and adaptation or with some accommodations. Many will be served well by remaining within the school system. Some won't. For the outliers, the square pegs who will never fit into round holes, is it best to continue trudging along? Should they buck up and deal with it? After all, we as parents want our kids to be functioning members of society. So do we shape and mold the outliers to fit into the settings we have envisioned for them, or do we meet them where they are, celebrate who they are, and respond to what they need?

You already know what I think. I have chosen to homeschool Aiden next year. He will attend a homeschool school two days a week in a classroom of seven to twelve kids. I will follow the curriculum at home on the remaining days. Some people call  my decision giving in to my son's school reluctance and separation anxiety. I call it responding to his needs and providing him with the environment and structure he needs to learn and thrive. Is homeschooling the best for all children and all families in  such a situation? No. Like anything else in life, school is not one size fits all. Of all the schools I have toured, I feel that this one will be a good fit for Aiden. It will give me the best of both worlds, allowing separation and time in a classroom setting and also giving me the freedom to be his teacher. I finally feel as though everything is falling into place and I am becoming privy to God's plan. The school is five minutes away from my husband's office, which means he will be able to drive Aiden to school allowing me the freedom to drive my two year old to preschool. Oh, that reminds me of the other bonus: it just so happens that Aiden's classes meet on the same two mornings that Elliott will be in preschool. This means I will have five free hours a week, which will help me to avoid burnout. I also won't hate grocery shopping solo or writing uninterrupted. The rest of the time I get to be with my kids, and I am so grateful for this freedom.

As a parent, my job is to prepare my children for life. I believe this begins by giving them what they need so that they have the strength and resources needed to become independent, and I remind myself that needs are not purely physical. Comfort is a need. Security is a need. Quiet and solitude are needs. Is it unusual for a six year old to still struggle with separation? Maybe. But is it wrong? Right now he needs more of me and I am okay with that. I don't believe meeting this need means he will "never" be without me. I cannot tell you how much well meaning cry it out advice I got during Elliott's babyhood. I cannot tell you how many nights I slept on the floor next to his crib. Doing so meant he would "never" sleep through the night. It may have taken twenty eight months, but he now sleeps from 8:00 P.M. to 6:00 A.M. I am not suggesting this will last forever as sleep regression is a nasty bitch who likes to sneak up when we least expect it. Although I don't miss those two years of interrupted sleep and having a long distance relationship with me bed, I don't regret them either. It was what he needed to develop a sense of security. I'm not knocking cry it out, either. My point to all of this philosophical rambling is that children our unique little people with unique little needs. They all respond to different things. When I became a mom I read every parenting book I could find, and soon my head was spinning with parenting styles. I figured when my kids did X I would respond with Y and then we would all arrive at Z. Well, John Lennon once said, "Life is what happens to you while your busy making other plans".

 If I could choose one super power it would be the ability to see the future and avoid making mistakes with my kids. But, alas, I am far from a perfect parent. I have made a thousand mistakes and I will make a thousand more. Since I don't have a superpower, all I can do is pray for guidance and make the best decisions that I can with the information that I have. I know who my children are and I have a responsibility to respond to that. God has a plan for each of us and our children. It can be difficult to know what that plan is and even harder to follow it, especially amidst the confusion of so many other influences. If you don't believe in God you have probably still felt that sense of belonging, a moment where the shitstorm of your life made sense, and aha moment. For now, I have found mine and I am excited to open a new chapter of my own proverbial parenting book. I know not everyone will agree with my decision, and some may even think I am a little nutty (Which I am). Originally, I dreaded answering the question, "Where is your son going to school next year?". But, I have to say the responses I receive are overwhelmingly positive. So here's to the outliers and here's to us who add sides and corners to those round holes.

"Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do."
Steve Jobs

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What's Up Wednesday - Hilarious!

While we know kids can say some pretty funny things, so can the adults. I know Kat has posted some pretty funny things that have come out of her mouth, and if taken out of context, can completely be taken the wrong way. Well, I was on Facebook and one of my friends posted this: (I am taking the names out to protect the innocent!)(fair warning, this is not for kids to read!)

Omg! I am a horrible mother! I told ## to let the dogs out. I saw him get one of the long leashes get stuck between ## legs, he pulled them to get untangled, and she yelped! I said "Oh no! ##! You got the leash stuck on her pussy! It is hurting her!!" I meant to say privates!!! Omg!

I thought I would post a few more for you if you didn't get a good enough laugh. After all, it is hump day and we need all the help we can get to push us towards the weekend!

* "Do you want some of Daddy's special jelly?" 
* "Yes, I think the cashier at the grocery store has a vagina."
* "Please stop squeezing Mommy's breasts. I know Daddy does it too but that's different."

Do you have a good one to share? Post it in the comments! Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

No Patience for Patience!

There is a reason why I don't like to fish, play golf, read long, drawn out books that go on and on and on, shop on Black Friday or go to amusement parks when it's crazy busy. Yes, there is a very good reason - I don't have a patient bone in my body - not one! I was reminded of this today as I waited at the check-out line at Michael's. I was already running late to my son's doctor's appointment as I took my place in line. I had a choice - line 1 or line 2. Well, line 1 looked shorter and the people in line 1 only possessed a few items, so I waited (in line 1 of course). I watched, and soon became frustrated as the check-out guy slowly rang up each item and then s.l.o.w.l.y bagged each item. He even took his time wrapping a plastic drink cup ever soooo s.l.o.w.l.y. I wanted to go up there and help him so I could get out of the store and on my way. Then, as luck would have it, the woman in front of me had a return. In her small bag was a multitude of small silk flowers, all intertwined with each other. "Sorry, I just need to figure out how to do this," he said as he stared at the computer screen. Oh boy, lucky me! I looked over to line 2 which was moving quite quickly and thought, maybe I should move over there. But then I thought, If I move over there, then that line will slow and this will speed up and it will take even longer (I was soooo wrong!). It took the check-out guy forever to process this transaction and then, on top of the return, the woman had something to purchase. When he told her how much it was, she couldn't seem to find the correct amount of change in her purse. "Oh dear, now how many cents do I owe you?" she said while fishing slowly through her purse. I really thought my head was going to explode. But, these things never happen when you have the time for them - it's always when you are running late, when you have somewhere else to be!

After I finally get sprung from the store, I do the frantic drive to the doctor's office (my son is not in the car - he's already at the office, thank goodness). I have to get on the freeway and, low and behold, it must be "drive as slow as you can" day - I did not get that memo. I don't understand why people drive 10+ miles under the speed limit on the freeway - use the damn back roads if you don't like to keep up with traffic! (Sorry, I tried to hold that in but I just couldn't). I was grateful to have an empty car so I could yell my most used phase "WTF, gas is on the right!" As I zoomed in and out of traffic, with an elevated heart rate and an urge to begin pulling the hair out of my head. Well, the good news is, I made it and I didn't get a ticket. The bad news? My lack of patience didn't get me anywhere but completely frustrated!

Yes, patience. It's something that you either have or you don't (at least that's my opinion). I don't know if you can really learn to have patience. My grandfather was the most patient person I have ever known. He was never in a hurry and never rushed something or someone along. I am reminded of one of my favorite parts in Evan Almighty when Evan tells God that he prays for patience but he never gets it, and God replies by saying something to the effect of "I don't give patience, I give you the opportunity to be patient." I guess you could say, God has given me a shit load of opportunities, I just don't have the patience to learn how to be patient. As a matter of fact, I don't even know if I will have enough patience to finish this blog post (or that could be my ADD).

I had to think about why I am always so impatient, why I am always in a rush and why I can't just take some of these obstacles as a sign to slow down. Whenever I am stuck behind a slow car I think to myself, maybe this is God's way of telling me to slow it down, take a breath and realize that nothing is so important to risk my safety or sanity over.

Some of my reasons why I am so impatient:

1. I HATE to be late! And when I run late, everyone seems to be in my way. Why am I usually late? Poor time management, others with poor time management or unexpected traffic. Most can be avoided but sometimes I am at the mercy of others who I have no patience for!

2. My time is important to me. If I am stuck in traffic, I think of all the things I could be doing, constructive things like writing, reading, working out, did I mention writing? Or, in the case of Black Friday, sleeping. I don't like to waste time, maybe due to the fact that I am getting older and there is less of it.

3. I like instant gratification. I have never played a real round of golf because I know, by the second hole, I would be dropping the ball in the cup and moving to the next. It's too slow paced for me, not enough action and excitement to trick my mind into thinking that what I am doing is a real active activity. Even when I go for a walk, I feel the need to run because I can get from point A to point B faster, more efficiently. I also don't like to cook anything that takes days to make because, like the girl in Willie Wonka, "I want it now!"

I am sure there are more, but I am losing my patience at the fact that I keep losing my train of thought, making this blog take longer to write than it should.

The world today is very fast paced and with so much at our literal fingertips, we have become more efficient and expectant. Why wait to send a letter via snail mail when you can send an email and have it arrive the moment you press send? Why wait a week or two for something you ordered to arrive at your doorstep, when you can order it on Amazon Prime and get it in less than two days? Why spend time preparing a meal no one will really appreciate when you can go to Costco and have it ready for the oven? With so many ways to be instantly gratified, many, including me, have lost any patience for things that take longer than they should. Will my children be even more impatient than me? Will each generation expect more? Will road rage and other acts of impatience and intolerance rise as technology aims to "make our lives easier"? Unfortunately, probably.

How do I teach myself patience? I looked that up, and there is no instant fix for what I desire. Patience comes from doing things that take time. Some of the suggestions are as follows:

1. Relax by deep breathing to clear your mind.
2. Let it go - if you can't do anything about what is triggering your impatience, then there's no point in freaking out.
3. See the big picture: Remind yourself that things take time and remember what matters most. With patience you will eventually get what you need. It helps to have a positive outlook for this to be successful.
4. Take a step back: expect the unexpected. When things feel like they are out of control, take a literal break, (I would call this a time-out). There are just some things that are unattainable and we can't beat ourselves up over it.
5. Take yoga! Taking an entire hour out of your hectic day to focus on you (and no one else), helps to calm the inner chaos as well as lower blood pressure and strengthen your core.

So, there you have it! I'm already feeling relaxed and patient (mainly because my kids are in bed and my husband just poured me a glass of red wine!). If you struggle with your lack of patience, you are not alone! What do you do to stay patient in times of mayhem?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Funny Friday: A Laugh At My Expense

You know that old saying, "If I don't laugh I'll cry?" Well, I have always believed that lauging at yourself is key to survival or at least not ending up in a locked ward somewhere. Although, this morning that sounds like a legitimate possibility. When you are a mom laughing at yourself and the messes and mishaps of everyday life when you really feel like sitting down in a puddle of milk in your flannel pajamas and crying is sometimes easier said than done, but even more important. I think it's even better to make other people laugh so I am going to give you a window into the mishaps of my morning, none of which were life altering, noteworthy, or even very funny, but all of which happened before 10:00 A.M. I hope you can have a laugh. At least the weekend is upon us. Which incidentally means nothing when you have young kids. So, here it goes:

6:30 A.M.: My two year old woke up and requested PAW Trol. When asked if he wanted to eat breakfast he replied, "Not To-day".

7:00 A.M.: My husband asked if I could make him lunch. I mumbled something affirmative from under my comforter.

7:30 A.M. : I threw my leftover Chick Fil A chicken wrap, some chips, and one of the kids' Trader Joe's apple bars into a Target bag and called it, "Making lunch for my husband". Then I silenced my guilt by making him a smoothie.

7:40 A.M. I tripped over the cat and shouted, "Goshdarnsonofagun".

7:41 A.M.: I fed the cat.

7:42 A.M.: My two years old drove his school bus into the cat's food bowl. I told him to leave said cat alone. He grabbed the cat and began hugging her. The cat gave me a "why can't you control your child" look.

7:50 A.M.: I placed my toddler in his high chair to which he promptly responded, "No cheerios. I want pay school bus." The cat also decided that her breakfast was unsatisfactory and began circling my legs begging for something better.

7:52 A.M.: I tripped over the ungrateful circling cat trying to get my equally ungrateful toddler breakfast that was not cheerios.

7:55 A.M.: As I was sidestepping the cat and reaching for the rice milk in the door of the refrigerator, I knocked over the value size jar of Walmart olives and the juice leaked. I took the door insert out and placed it in the sink along with it's contents: Three different types of milk, hot sauce, soy sauce, ketchup, and one blueberry wheat beer.

8:00 A.M.: Friday is Dad's day to do kindergarten drop off. My husband returned from dropping Aiden at school, grabbed his carefully handcrafted lunch and smoothie, and left for work. Lucky bastard.

8:02 A.M.: Elliott threw his container of blueberries on the floor and then began screaming about the fact that his blueberries were on the floor.

8:03 A.M.: I retrieved him from his high chair and corralled the blueberries.

8:05 A.M.: I dug pants and a shirt out of the dryer where they have been for two days and got Elliott dressed. He told me to "go away". I thought, "Can I really?"

8:10 A.M.: I cleaned up breakfast and began washing the shelf insert. I then had to break up a heated debate between Eliott and a toy garbage truck.

8:15 A.M.: I replaced the clean shelf and its contents to the refrigerator. The shelf promptly broke and three diferrent types of milk, various condiments, and one blueberry wheat beer crashed to the kitchen floor. You can't make this shit up.

8:17 A.M.: After stupidly surveying the mess for two minutes, I began to clean up. Both the milk and beer had opened just enough to begin leaking onto the kitchen floor.

8:23 A.M.: I managed to clean the beer/milk mixture off of the floor and I began trying to find a new home in the refrigerator for the orphaned items.

8:30 A.M. I contemplated whether a beer opening itself was a phophetic message that it is okay to drink a beer at 8:30 A.M.

8:35 A.M.: I took the recycling out in my very attractive flannel pajamas. Surprisingly none of my neighbors ran out and asked me to be on that disturbing show, "Neighbors With Benefits".

8:40 A.M. I got distracted from cleaning the kitchen by writing this blog post.

8:41 A.M.: I got distracted from writing this blog post by a phone call. I began to sweep the floor while talking on the phone.

8:47 A.M.: I got back to typing. My two year old began climbing on me attempting to "help" me type.

8:50 A.M. I had another phone call, and then began looking up homeschool electives online.

9:00 A.M.: I decided to get dressed and attempted to find jeans without a hole in the knee from crawling around on the floor with the kids. My search was fruitless, so I chose the pair of jeans with the smallest hole.

9:10 A.M.: I realized that the laundry situation had become dire, so I put in a new load and began folding the clothes from the dryer.

9:14 A.M.: Ellott began climbing on the kitchen chairs. I distracted him with crackers.

9:15 A.M.: I got back to folding laundry. Elliott began grinding crackers into the coffee table. I cleaned the mess up and threatened to take the crackers away if any further smashing occured.

9:16 A.M.: Elliott began feeding crackers to the garbage truck. Apparently the two had settled their differences.

9:25 A.M.: I successfully put the laundry away and noticed Elliott's toothbrush in his room. I remembered that I hadn't brushed his teeth.

9:30 A.M.: I retrieved Elliott from the bathroom where he was playing in the sink. He happily announced: "I make bubbles, Mama!".

9:32 A.M.: I brushed Elliott's teeth. Okay, fine, I put toothpaste on the brush and handed it to him, hoping he would hit most of his teeth. See, I am fostering self sufficiency. Besides, I had a blog post to finish.

9:35 A.M.: I returned to the kitchen to finish typing and noticed a hairball under the table. I cleaned said hairball and considered putting my cats and two year old in a box labeled, "Free To A Good Home".

9:40 A.M.: I got distracted by an email from Monster Job Search. I have no idea why I am still on their email list. Usually I just delete them but today I decided to have a look, just for shits and giggles. I considered applying for the Afflac Benefits Sales Consultant position. I think I would make a good sales consultant. I spend 70 percent of my days trying to convince people to do things. I realized "Cleaning up hairballs while arguing with a two year old" wouldn't look very impressive on a resume.

9:45 A.M.: I realize that I have two cats and only fed one. I feed the other one. Elliott puts his Thomas train inside his school bus and then gets mad that his Thomas train is inside the school bus.

9:50 A.M.: Elliott begins screaming, "Help, Mama, help!". I rescue Thomas from the school bus. I check Monster to see if their is a job opening for an emergency rescue worker. I figure I am qualified now.

10:00: I realize that I am not actually looking for a job and sit down to write my blog post. I feel guilty for keeping Elliott inside on this beautiful morning. I decided it is time to wrap up.

That's my morning in a nut shell. All in all, I think it went pretty smoothly, comparatively speaking.  I wonder if that foaming beer in the sink will still be good at a socially acceptable time...

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Random Thoughts Thursdays: Husband in Translation

I wrote the post translating the things I say into what I really mean.. Well, I have known my husband for half of our lives and I think by now I am pretty good and decoding the things he says.

When he says: "I am going to organize the garage."

He means: "I am going to be in the garage for the next two hours to escape the whining. The kids are starting to whine too. I will move some shit around to make my story believable."

Okay, he wouldn't say "shit". I added that in.

When he says: "Ummmmm.... sure......"

He Means: "I really don't want to do what you just asked me to do, but I understand that it wasn't really a question."

When he says: "The Gators are playing tonight."

He Means: "The TV is mine. Don't even think about turning on that Intervention Hoarders depressing psychology shit tonight."
Again, the "shit" is added for emphasis.

When he says: "So, are you driving home (after our date) tonight or do you want me to?"

He Means: "Will you drive home? I would like to have a beer or five."

When he says: "I'll drive home if you make it worth my while later...."

He means: I'm not going to elaborate on this one. You'll have to figure it out yourselves. It's not that kind on blog. Okay fine, it kind of is, but I do have some boundaries.

When  he says: "Did you get a chance to (insert mundane yet necessary chore here)."

He means: "It's not going to do its self if you keep putting it off. And also it's time to stop saying you have ADD."

When he says: "I appreciate all you do."

He means: "I am the greatest husband ever!" Okay, I added that one too, but I mean it!

In conclusion, I believe that the seven year itch is a myth. We will be married eight years in July and I would say things get more comfortable. I guess the itch would happen if you find comfort boring, which we don't. We are not very exciting people. I mean, I am wearing my pajamas at 8:30. One of the greatest things about falling into the comfortable routine of mariage is you never have to wonder what the other person is saying, thinking, or feeling. Because you already know.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Disorganized AND Messy Part II: Spring Uncleaning

I really enjoyed Jan's post on disorganization yesterday, mostly because it reminded me that I am not the only person in the world who longs to be organized yet seems to lack the time, motivation, and/or skills necessary to achieve a state of chronic organization. You know the old phrase, "cleaning while your kids are still at home is like shoveling in a snowstorm"? I live in a snow storm and I keep inefficiently swiping at the drifts with a plastic shovel. It is spring which should mean spring cleaning as in purging out all of the detris and dust bunnies that we have been hording like bears all winter, yet it really means sweeping up piles of cat hair (shedding) and the usual crumbs while Elliott drives his trucks into my piles before they can make it to the dustpan. Alas, in my house spring cleaning is somewhat of a misnomer, and not only due to the shedding cats and the people who track muddy shoes through the house. Sometimes the kids do it too. All joking aside, Aiden is usually the one to tell me, "Mom, you need to take your shoes off when you come inside". If anything, I find my house more difficult to clean in the spring because after six months of winter, once the weather gets habitable I don't spend enough time inside my house to actually clean it. My husband has said all of these things in the past week:

"Uh, if you get a chance can you do some laundry today? At least socks?"

"We need to go through and organize all of these toys." (By "we" he means "me".)

"Have you had a chance to look through these papers and send that birthday card to your aunt since her birthday was last week?"

"Who got mud on the carpet? Is this going to come out?", and,

"I freed up those big bins so you can go through and put away all of the baby clothes in the basement." (hint hint)

You would think after knowing me for half my life he would realize that most likely only number one will be addressed this week, and number four I'll shamelessly blame on the kids. I know, their foootprints are getting awfully big...

I think he should really man up, quit his job, and organize the house himself. The end result of this would be the bank reposessing our house, so you see it would all work out. I think I could manage to keep a cardboard box organized....

I would venture to say that Jan and I are not alone in our chronic disorganization, nor our preference for spending time outdoors over a dark basement (which they don't have in California, anyway, but you get the idea). I could do yardwork all day long. I love to pull weeds and clear leaves and do all things outdoors. I am being serious, I actually find pulling weeds very therapuetic. Last week I spent two hours in the driveway washing and waxing my car, a past time that is nostalgic for me. While other little girls were braiding hair and playing princesses I was alongside my dad in ripped jeans and a dirty white t-shirt washing the whitewalls of his car tires with a brillo pad, no matter that only days would go by between washes. I wonder what are water bill looked like. Anyway, I love to get out there and wash the cars just like my dad did. Just don't open the car door and look inside. I'll get to that... tomorrow.

You see, I may have the traditional if not old fashioned gender role of stay at home mom, but I would not refer to myself as a home maker. I am really more of a home wrecker and I am far more efficient outdoors getting dirty. Before you let your mind wander, I mean home wrecker in a completely non swinger way and more in the literal sense of making a mess of my house (or allowing my children to do so). You may think my motivation towards yardwork at the expense of housework means my landscaping is prisine. You are welcome to keep thinking that, but remember there is still that pesky issue of time. Where is that au pair when you need her? Oh, yeah, she only exists in my delusion.

Alas, I will never be a domestic goddess. I have dirt under my unmanicured finger nails, I have never in my life had a facial, and I haven't been in a hair salon for my own purposes since my two year old was an infant. I am also totally with Jan in my desperate attempts to organize by buying those baskets with the exuberance of a kid in a candy store. "Oh, this one can hold the 8,750,000 toy cars strewn about since it has a car print on it! I am going to be so organized! This one can hold school papers and overdue library books for which I will search the house and then eventually deem lost forever! Go baskets! Go me!"

You see, even this post is disorganized. What does my hair and nails have to do with my house? Well, the common theme is unkempt and disorganized. But hey, maybe one day I will get all of that shit off the top of my dryer or get to the bottom of that stack of papers, or get the library books returned on time. At least I am trying. As for the issue of my personal unkemptness (I made that word up; we scatterbrains do things like that, right, Jan?) I will get to that when that damn au pair gets her shit together.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Hopelessly Messy AND Disorganized

What's the difference between messy and disorganized? Oh, wait, hold on. Let me look through my purse for a pen, nope, that's not it, that's a broken pencil. No, that's not it either, that's a Tide to Go pen. Where the hell is that little bugger of a writing implement? I know it's in here, I always put it in the middle section of my purse so it won't fall out, but it's hidden under receipts, business cards, gum wrappers and general crap. So, you see, I'm organized since I know where the pen is, but it's hidden under the mess.

If you take a stroll around my house on any given day (not giving me time to pick up), you would probably say that I'm am just a tad bit messy but not out-of-control messy. You may see shoes scattered about, clothes on counters, tables and chairs, mail stacked up on the kitchen counters, clean laundry still unfolded or better yet, laundry spilling out of the dryer - half in the basket and half still in the dryer, and some random dishes (especially cups and small plates) strewn about. It's not a horrific sight but it's making a statement about me and about my kids. It's saying, I don't have the time or energy to deal with you right now, I have become accustomed to your presence and I don't really care, or, maybe someone else will do something with you - maybe your owner will actually put you away. But, unfortunately, like me, my kids are messy too. They have inherited my messy, disorganized gene instead of my husband's more orderly one.

Take a look at example number 1: My Purse

I carry it everywhere. It's my lifeline, holding my phone, keys, sunglasses, tissue, lip stick, Kindle, wallet, pens, note cards, inhaler, Excedrin, hand sanitizer, etc. I love it when I get a new purse because I move all my necessities from my old purse to the new purse, omitting the trash and needless crap that my old purse has acquired but that I was too lazy or too busy to clean out. Receipts, used tissues, gum wrappers, loose change, old shopping lists, very old shopping lists and random shit my kids (especially my little one) puts in there for me to "hold".  Once the transfer is done, the old purse gets retired to a shelf in my closet (photo above), still loaded with the unwanted shit. Every purse in that photo has shit in it. There is stuff in there that dates back to when my 18 year old was a toddler. I'm sure I could find a pacifier in one of them, a baby toy? Now, I think of them as my time capsules. They hold stuff from years past and, at some point, I will sit down with them and take a walk through memory lane.

Take a look at example number 2: Baskets

We all have them, baskets. Those cute wicker black holes that suck in all that's important and then wave their hypnotizing powers over you saying "you will never remember you put that here, it will be erased from your memory. It is mine forever now, ba ha ha ha ha!" Well, I have multiple evil hypnotizing black holes throughout my home. I buy them and think, this would be great to hold all the bills, this one would be great for the kid's paperwork, awe, this one would be perfect for all the rest of the shit. Baskets are a great way to hide just that, shit. I appear organize, I look like I have my shit together with all of my nice little baskets but, I couldn't tell you what's in any of them. What I can tell you is that sometimes bills or extremely important, time sensitive material find their way to those baskets creating a wave of panic and frantic searching. Each time my heart races, worried I won't find what I need and each time I make a pledge to myself to get more organized.

Take a look at example number 3: My Kids

I'm not the only one who's messy or disorganized in my household; it seems to run in the family. With three kids, you would think that at least one of them would be organized, but they are not. While my little one can't find anything because of her lack of organization (school shoes, P.E. shorts, Ipod, Kindle, homework, school books, etc.), she's not just disorganized, she's messy. My middle child is a little different. She is messy but she knows, pretty much, where everything is. She seems to have a system to her messiness. She may go to school with a wrinkled top and skirt, but she knew exactly where they were on the floor of her room. She rarely forgets or loses things like my little one - like I said, she seems to have an organized system to her messy madness. My oldest is just lazy. He doesn't like to take time out of his day to put things away or pick up the clothes off his floor. While not completely disorganized, he does tend to do frantic searches for car keys, sunglasses, and random small articles.

So, just by analyzing my own family, I have determined that there is a difference between messy and disorganized. You can be one without the other or you can be both (oh Lord, I am both!). My husband claims he's neither, although, he tends to blame others for his breaks in being organized. Like the time he was convinced that his key for one of the cars was moved by someone else. He was certain of it and went into a full out search of the house, looking in everyone's drawers, my baskets (okay, it could have been there), everywhere. After an exhaustive search, he reached into his black hole of a laptop bag and pulled out the keys - the ones he placed there all on his own. There are other examples of this but you get the point. We are all guilty, at some point, of being a victim to our disorganization and or messiness.

Is there a genetic marker for being messy and/or disorganized? Or is being messy/disorganized a learned behavior that gets passed down from generation to generation? Certainly, each brain is wired differently. Some brains are great at keeping things organized as though they see where things fit clearly, like file folders. While other brains can't seem to retain any logical order to the thoughts or tasks in their head (that would be me). My brain seems to be a swirling vortex of thoughts, emotions, and information that fly around, continuously, never seeming to find a proper place to settle. I suppose, at times, you could even call me scatter-brained. I am a writer and crave organization, but struggle to do just that, organize. I bought a writer's program that neatly organizes your chapters, scenes, pictures, character development charts, and the like. But, for the life of me, I just can't seem to use it efficiently. After my second revision on one of my novels, using this program, I was more confused than when I had it all on a word document. It's just how my brain is wired and rewiring, has become too time consuming and frustrating.

I believe creative minds tend to be more messy and disorganized - not always, but often. I also believe that people have different thresholds for the amount of mess or disorganization they can handle. My kids can look at their tornado inspired room and say, "it's fine, It's not messy" while I cringe at the sight. My husband can look at my piles of random shit and ask, ever so politely, if there are any bills in there that he should be aware of while I look at it and think, maybe, most likely, but I'll get to it a little later, after I write a couple of chapters and play Candy Crush until I'm all out of lives. I don't like my messes, but, sometimes (okay, a lot of the time), I file that in my messy, vortex of a brain, under, "I'll get to it when I get to it."

Don't get me wrong, I loath being messy and disorganized. I don't like clutter and I really don't like things out of place but, I also don't want to spend every waking moment cleaning and not creating, scheduled and not spontaneous, inelastic and not flexible. I need to find a happy medium, and at my age, I need to start finding places for important things and commit them to memory by retrieving them from the same place over and over again, before my memory begins to fail (okay, that's already happening). In addition, I need to help my kids find a balance between complete OCD organization (not that that will ever happen), and hoarding. It's a balance that if it's not part of our genetic makeup, we need to work at. We need to find what works for us individually and then follow through.

Here is a list of ten habits to better organization that I found on the web.

1. Write things down: I find that writing on actual paper with an actual pen helps me remember things. But, even if I do write them, I will sometimes forget. I plan on getting a small notebook for my already messy purse and writing my lists in it every day. Other things like appointments, I can input into my phone and add reminders. This is a start!

2. Make schedules and deadlines: For this, I plan on scheduling tidy time of one room each day. I also need to create a writing schedule and deadlines for when I will have certain goals completed. Marking a certain time each day, will help me zero in on what needs to be accomplished during that sitting period. If you have a hobby, a workout goal or just need a time to make family plans, write it on your calendar and follow through (I am not good at this at all! This will be challenging for me!)

3. Don't procrastinate: Oh boy, I am the world's biggest procrastinator. In fact, my youngest child's birthday was toward the beginning of March and I still haven't planned her birthday party. "Don't put off to tomorrow what you can do today," rings in my ears. It is no secret that putting off things to the last minute only creates unnecessary stress and frustration. Avoid procrastination by adding what needs to get done on that list that you now have in your purse or on your phone. There is something greatly satisfying in physically crossing off the completed tasks on your list.

4. Give everything a home: This may take some time but, it has it's rewards. When things have a place, it's so much easier to put them away. You no longer have to think of where you can stuff something or where you should put something so you don't forget it. If it has a place, it will be easily found when it is needed. I do have homes for many of my things. Even my scissors have a drawer in the kitchen, but that doesn't mean they make it back to the drawer at the end of the day. Everyone in the house needs to learn where these homes are and you will need to enforce their placement until it becomes second nature.

(I'm just moving to 5 and I'm already exhausted!)

5. Declutter regularly: This in another thing you can schedule - a day when you go through paperwork, clean the purse, basket, magazines, etc. If it's done weekly, it won't take much time at all. Same goes for your brain. Try to purge the things, thoughts or ideas out of your head that only create chaos. Write it down and then let it go.

6. Keep only what you need: This is a tough one because, if we have it, we obviously think we need it. But, there is something freeing in letting go of some of the things that have no real meaning in our lives. That bike the kids have outgrown? Let another child enjoy it; that shelving unit in the hall that keeps collecting shit? Clean it up and give it away. Those gifts you keep to be nice but never use? Get over it and get rid of it. Remember, when you die, you can't take it with you. If your house burned down tomorrow, what could you possibly not live without? It's all just stuff. If it doesn't have a sentimental value and doesn't serve a purpose, it's not needed.

7. Know where to discard items: This is pretty self-explanatory. I have a thrift shop I call and they come and pick up all my items. All I have to do is set them on the driveway - easy peasy!

8. Stay away from bargains: Just because it's on sale, doesn't mean you need to buy it! Write down exactly what you need before you go out shopping. (Don't go grocery shopping when your hungry either - you will come home with food you will never eat - true story!).

9.  Delegate responsibilities: I often find myself saying, "if you want it done right, do it yourself," but, if I keep up this mentality, I will never have a moment to sit and relax. Sometimes, I have to just accept that it may not be done they way I would do it, but it's done nonetheless because I asked someone else to share the work. Kids need chores and you need help - it's a perfect fix. I don't delegate enough - I'm a work in progress on this one.

10. Work hard: Getting organized may seem like the hardest job to master at first. But I have to believe, with a little internal push or a swift kick in the ass, it will become easier over time and eventually become an invaluable habit.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. I will create a deadline and give you an update (I'll get to that later - ha ha, just kidding!). I will work on these and give you an update in one month. May 14th will hopefully be met with an organized house and mind as well as a completed novel, ready for agent review.  Happy Organizing!

Do you have an organizational tip you would like to share? Please post it in the comments! I could use all the help I can get!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Tough Stuff Tuesdays: Pet Loss

I am tired. I just told the kitten to go to bed. Well, we got her two years ago when a good friend and fellow animal lover/bleeding heart found a little orange kitten on a cold fall day. Having no room left in her own inn, she did what any fellow animal lover/bleeding heart would do and implored me to adopt the little kitten. Of course, I couldn't say no *insert crazy cat lady joke here*. I gave her to my then four year old as a surprise gift. My friend successfully found a home for the stray, I got to play nice, cool Mom, and Kelsey, as my son named her, got a home. Win win win.

Anyway, she is quite the character. She still thinks she is a kitten and has recently taken to trying to figure out how to get the second hand on the clock and jumping up on the tops of the cabinets, and fighting with our eleven year old cat, Scarlett. Cats are spunky and full of life. Until they're not. Last week we had to make the decision to euthanize our cat, Gaby to relieve her from the indignties of end stage kidney failure, unfortunately a common killer of older cats. If there are any cat lovers out there, you know that they can be, shall we say, independent. When they need some food or a cuddle they are all in your face but when they are napping in the sun how dare you disturb them! Gaby was hands down the most tolerant, gentle cat I have ever encountered, which is sayig something considering I worked with hundreds of cats in a shelter setting. Gaby started out as a foster cat. When I brought her home from the shelter seven years ago I brought her home to die. She was abandoned in a home along with another cat when their owners moved and left the cats behind. The other cat was adopted but Gaby didn't adapt to shelter life, as many older cats sadly do not. Her eyes were chronically infected from hiding in her litter box, she refused to eat and drink, and her blood pressure was unreadable. It was believed that she had heart worm. I brought her home and she immediately jumped up on the couch between my husband and I. That night she wolfed down a bowl of food and slept in our bed. The heartworm test came back negative. When my foster time was up, I brought her back to the shelter and settled her into the largest available cage where she promptly curled up in the litter box and gave me a look of pure betrayal. Cats have perfected looking betrayed. Anyway, I brought her home with me and the rest was history. Bleeding heart, remember. Gaby was a great cat. The kids carried her around. When Elliott was a baby he would crawl up to her and pat her rather hard, and she would just sit there. She wouldn't even kill bugs, and even in the end when she struggled to walk she would rub up against us and purr. She still had such a will to live which is why the decision to euthanize her was exceptionally painful. It was difficult to see her struggling with the indignties of her disease - struggling to walk, unable to jump onto the couch, and unable to make it to the litter box. Dr. Kari of Peaceful Endings came out and gave her a sedative and her final shot while I held her.

Pet loss is tough, and it is something many people will not undersand. Those of us who own and love pets know how important they are - how they accept us for who we are, offer us comfort, and give us a sense of stability and samness - and we know the enormous hole they leave in their absence. You may even be surprised by the depths of your grief when you lose a pet. You may tell yourself you are being silly, but your grief is real and it wasn't just a cat/dog/etc. Elizabeth Kubler Ross pegged five stages of grief and you will not go through the stages in any particular order and some you may not experience at all. Still, the stages of grief give us some sort of "map" if you will, and remind us that our feelings are normal and they will become more bearable over time. While coping with the loss of a pet you may experience some or all of the following:

Denial You don't want to believe that your pet is sick especially if they are asymptomatic. Cats can be especially stoic even when they are suffering. One day you are able to accept the fact that your pet is sick or old and will only get worse and you can enjoy and appreciate the time you have left. The next day you think maybe just maybe they will get better. Maybe the vet was wrong. Maybe you have more quality time. Once your pet is gone you may have moments when you forget and you reach to fill the food bowl before you remember. In the case of euthanasia, I have always had a moment of self doubt and panic when the vet arrives.

Anger/Guilt Being human, we want a reason for things, especially difficult things. This may take the form of a generalized irritability, anger, or even rage, sometimes directed at sources that have nothing to do with our loss. As is often the case with me, the anger can also be turned inward. We may feel guilty for not noticing our pet's symptoms and seeking vet care earlier. If your pet's death was a result of an accident you may be at the mercy of "what ifs" and "if onlys". Finally, you may feel guilty or unsure after deciding to have your pet euthanized even when your pet was suffering and had no hope of improving. I can tell you not to feel guilty, but guilt is often  an irrational emotion and telling you to stop feeling guilty won't likely bring you much peace, so I will instead remind you that one of the most endearing qualities in animals is their ability to love unconditionally and innocently. Animals live in the moment. They don't analyze decisions or hold grudges. They also don't fear death like people do because they are completely innocent. Your pet does not forgive you because your pet doesn't think anything you did or did not do needs forgiving.

Barganing This one is fairly self explanatory and often goes hand in hand with denial. Maybe if you spend more money/get more tests/see another vet. Depending on your belief system you may bargain with God.

Depression Personally, I believe the term depression is often misused, as in "I am so depressed that such and such team lost". I am not comparing the death of a pet to a disappointing sporting outcome, nor am I saying that you won't experience a depressive episode from which you may need help emerging. I am merely pointing out that the intense sadness experienced by those in berevement does not necessarily coincide with clinical depression. While never pleasant, it is normal and even healthy to experience intense sadness when grieving a loss. I cannot put a time limit on this sadness for you. When we don't allow ourselves our feelings we inhibit the healing process. You may be experiencing a clinical depression if you lose all interest in what you once enjoyed, you eat or sleep too much or not enough, or you have thoughts of suicide for two weeks or more.

Acceptance Ultimately, you will be able to enjoy happy memories of your pet. It is important to note that you may have periods of acceptance followed by renewed grief. This is normal and you will reach acceptance again. Grief is like the waves of an ocean. Sometimes it is strong enough to knock you down and sometimes it is white noise in the background of our lives.

Grieving the loss of a pet is even more complicated when you have to tell your children about the pet's death. At five and two, my kids don't understand death (do any of us, really?). My five year old is particularly sensitive and an animal lover like his mom. Gaby frequently slept in his bed. He knew that she was sick and would often make her cards and reassure her. I felt he was too young to understand the concept of euthanasia but obviously old enough to know what was happenening, so he went to my mom's house for the day. He came back happy and excited to tell me what he did at Grandma's house. To say that having to tell him Gaby died and seeing the smile fall off of his face was difficult would be an understatement. What you tell your children depends in part on your belief system and in part on their ages. I feel that keeping the explanations simple but being open to questions is best. I simply said that Gaby went up to Heaven and she is not sick anymore. Aiden misses Gaby. He made a card for her with a drawing of himself crying. As hard as these experiences are, we cannot shield kids from loss and death, and learning to grieve the death of a pet allows them to learn coping skills. I reminded him that it is okay to be sad or mad and to cry, but also to remember how happy Gaby made us. I underestimated how much my two year old would realize. He cried when the vet left and he still asks, "Where Gaby?" and "Gaby okay, Mama?" Granted, he has no concept of death but I tell him the same thing that I told Aiden and Aiden tries to explain to his brother that the angels came down and took Gaby up to Heaven so she wouldn't have to be sick anymore.

Loss takes many forms and it is never easy. At the risk of sounding cliche, death is, inevitably, a part of life. Pet loss can also remind us of the people we have lost from our lives. When my cat Hope died during my pregnancy with Aiden I was reminded of my father's death, as he was the one who found the little stray black kitten on the side of the garage at my childhood home. Pets are our memory keepers, our companions, and our playmates. Such a loss cannot be minimized, especially when our pets grow up with our children and become beloved to them.  Losing Gaby now has been hard. This week also marks the due date of my baby Quinn, so it is a season of loss. However, just as the seasons outside change (unless you lucky like Jan and live in San Diego) the seasons of our lives are always changing. Seasons of loss are followed by seasons of life and new beginnings. I hope this new season in my life coincides with spring as I am ready to carry my memories and excited to explore the new beginnings around the corner.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Mad Mondays: Speeding Tickets and Pure Randomness

Okay, I have had a few beers, and I probably shouldn't be writing a blog post right now but did anyone watch the Wisconsin/Duke game tonight? Well, I did and I have to say, even though I am mad (actually mildly upset) that Wisconsin didn't win (since I am and will always be a Big Ten fan), I have to say that it was an amazingly well matched game. Well played Duke, well played.

In other news, I'm mad about the following:

We are in the process of taking a road trip to Gonzaga (it's a Catholic university in Spokane, WA for those of you who don't know - although, if you followed college basketball you would know who they are). I kept telling my husband to slow the *beep* down. He was driving like his ass was on fire as we drove from San Diego to Lake Tahoe. Well... yep, a cop, pulled us over. Now, I have often thought of ways to get out of tickets. What to say, what to do, how much cleavage to allow in order to deter the cop from writing the ticket but, when you actually come face to face with those boys (yes, they all seem so young these days - probably because I am getting old), I am just at a loss for what to do. So, of course, the cop, out of the kindness of his heart, on Easter Sunday, gave my hubster a nice little ticket. My son said I should have showed the cop "some boob". I don't think I need to elaborate on this one.

So, I was in a foul mood, entering into Lake Tahoe, ready to spar with whoever was ready to mess with me, but, to my dismay, everyone here in Lake Tahoe is incredibly nice. When we checked into our hotel after 9p.m., they decided to upgrade us to a two bedroom suite (check out the Stardust Lodge, it rocks! #stardustlodgelaketahoe). Then, today, everywhere we went, people were smiling and like, "can I help you?", "have a great time!" and gave us great advice on where to eat, etc. I have traveled around the globe and I have to say, I don't think I have ever been to a place where people are so incredibly nice - genuinely nice. When you enter an establishment less than 30 minutes before they close, usually they roll their eyes and think "oh great, another customer and I just want to get the hell out of here," but, when we entered this pizza place called Blue Dog Pizza (one of the only places open when we were ready for dinner), they welcomed us in and acted as though they were happy to have us. What are these people smoking here in Lake Tahoe?! How can everyone be so stinking happy? Well, I'm grateful. I am gratefully grateful. I think Lake Tahoe may have Disney beat as the happiest place on Earth.