How to Raise Non A-holes

Risking Embarrassment Worse Than Spinach Teeth To Keep The Important Things From Being Left Unsaid

Most of my professional life was spent in the advertising industry. Almost 25 years, in fact.

There are a lot of weird people in the ad industry.

As a tender little sapling in “the biz,” I always worked for the wackiest of wack jobs and had the most bizarre experiences.

It’s one of the reasons my college BFF, Jen, who - over the phone, when I’d steal a moment of privacy behind the dark, closed door of a utility closet, I would whisper the latest “story you’re not gonna believe,” she would say to me, through tears of laughter and shock, “Oh my God, did you write this down? You have got to write a book someday - you couldn’t make this stuff up!”

Incidentally, it’s the reason I named my funny memoir, “You Should Write A Book, True Tales Of An Unstable Life.”

Then I found a job where I felt like people were normal.

4 Things We Don’t Do Anymore

About 18 months ago, when we decided to put our house on the market, we had already found the new house we wanted to buy, so we had to get our old house staged as quick as little bunnies to get it listed and sold in an effort to not carry two mortgages.

The plan was that, while we were packing up stuff to clear the house out and make it look the exact opposite of how my family lives in real life, instead of culling out stuff to donate or trash at that time - which is stupidly time-consuming, but is what people have to do if they don’t want to MOVE THINGS TWICE, like a bunch of idiots - we would just have to chunk everything into storage and deal with it on the back end, after moving to the new house.

Sigh.

3 Of My Biggest Regrets In Life

I remember it like it was yesterday. The initial shock at what I saw, and the horrific realization as all the pieces started to click into place, sending me through the various stages of panic: first the pins-and-needles tingling in my fingers and toes as adrenaline shot through my veins.

Then the questions I’d ask myself about what I was seeing before me.

And what it meant.

Then the inevitable, “no, no, no… God no.”

But, alas… yes.

I gagged a little and wiped my mouth, swallowing down the disgust welling up inside me.

My 2nd Biggest Fear In Life (also: Cooking With Cody, October Edition)

My second biggest fear in life is getting hit by a bus, leaving my children without having taught them all the lessons they’ll need to function in life, because I can tell you that if they had to do it on their own starting today, they don’t stand a chance in hell.

I should mention that one of those children I’m referring to isn’t even a child, anymore. He’s almost 20. A grown-ass man.

He’s a good guy and all. Kind and sensitive. Super smart. Funnier than shit.

But lazy af.

We’re buckling down a little more on this second kid, just to see what happens.

"What Do You Do?"

We all get asked this question and we all ask it - here in the States, at least. They don’t really ask the “what do you do” question in other countries.

We Americans ask it almost immediately upon meeting someone.  

We use it as our way of getting to know more about that person, but we - subconsciously, maybe - also use it to make a decision. We decide what we think of the other person based on what they do for a living, placing them on an invisible but very present ladder of sorts.

“I’m a used car salesman.”  Ok, we’ll put him down here, about midway down.

“I own a flooring company.” Got it - ok, we’re sticking you higher up there where business owners go.

“I’m a stay-at-home mom.” So - nothing. Doesn’t even make it on the ladder.

Sucks that stay-at-home-moms don’t get on the ladder, much less get their rightful spot at the very top of it.

But that’s not what I want to talk to you about.

You May Find This Post Offensive

I’ve been so productive the last week and a half, I’m intimidating my own self. Seriously! I told you last week that I was overhauling my pantry and getting it organized, and then I did something I almost never do: I did it!

If you get my emails, you got the before and after pictures in your inbox yesterday. I also included a quickee 1-question survey about blogging (by the way, if you’re interested in learning how to start your own blog, click here because over the next week, I’m sharing all the best blogging tools and resources in the whole blogosphere with my subscribers!)

But here’s what I want to talk to you about today: this getting-offended-super-delicate-and-thin-skinned-over-the-top-political-correctness bullshit.

Why Are My Kids So Effed Up?

Did you know I used to be a teacher?  I taught 8th graders and I loved being in the classroom so much!  I got out of teaching when I was on maternity leave with my youngest son.  I was in denial most of my pregnancy with him about having to leave him at daycare after maternity leave was over, so I put off the daycare search until the last minute.

You can’t do that.  

By the time I got my head together, all the daycares in our area had a waitlist, so I was pretty much screwed.  

I spent the last few weeks of my pregnancy freaking right the eff out because the only “daycare” with availability was one of those places you see on the evening news, with crooked shutters and names that start with a K in klever - ahem, clever - ways. Ack!!

Your "Perfectionism" Makes My Eyes Roll

Let’s talk about perfectionism.

I go insane when people say they’re perfectionists, because in most cases, they aren't using the term correctly*, which makes my left eye twitch spasmodically.

There's nothing worse in life than for some skinny, young PTA mom, freshly scrubbed and dressed up like a show pig, to harp, “Ugh, I feel like I’m just too good at yoga.” 

Or, “Sheesh, I’m such a perfectionist when it comes to housekeeping. It drives me bananas when my sofa cushions aren’t just so.”

Or, “I try to do just 50 burpees, but I can’t help myself from doing 75. I’m a perfectionist!” 🙄

No, no, no. That is not what perfectionism means.

Too Old To Be Trendy?

One night a couple of weeks ago I was scrolling through Facebook and a hair tutorial caught my eye because the girl doing it was just so cute, but also seemed somewhat relatable.

She wasn’t one of those stick-skinny 20-year-olds that look super cute no matter how busted up they are.

No, this girl was a little older and a little curvier and her hairstyle ended up super cute: it was just a basic bob blown out with a tiny bit of sea salt spray and she scrunched her hair up in her hands as she dried it, so it was tousled and airy and just adorable.

I did my hair the same way the next day - it was meet-the-teacher night at my son’s school and I felt cute. My makeup was on point and my hair looked tousled and airy and just adorable, if I do say freaking so.

5 Fun Things To Do With Kids - In Air Conditioning - In Austin This Summer

In between breakfast, video games, letting dogs in and out and in and out, lunch, and watching YouTube videos, we barely have time to fit in a bunch of fun summer activities.

And I'm not interested in enjoying a bunch of "fun in the sun."

The sun makes me freckly.

Besides, I’d rather eat soup right out of the toilet bowl of a port-a-john than be hot.

12 Things I Would Tell My 18-Year-Old Self

In honor of my 30-year high school reunion, I have some thoughts to share with my 18-year-old self:

1. You will not always be thin, so stop saying you’re fat. Around the age of 30 or so, you’ll be shooting your younger self a pudgy bird as you wipe queso from the corners of your mouth. Enjoy your perky, tight figure and take it easy on the carbs. 

2. Stop slathering yourself with baby oil and laying out in the sun. In fact, you have got to start wearing sunscreen. In 30 years, your dermatologist will use you as a poster model for What Never To Do, meanwhile your twice-yearly laser therapy appointments will fund summer trips to Bali for his wife and kids, AND new boobs for his girlfriend.

Stuck in the Middle

We drove 45 minutes to the ice rink this morning so the 10-year-old could get some much-needed ice time to help slow the loss of muscle tone while he’s in between hockey seasons.

Reaallly annoying to have put in 45 minutes to get there and 30 minutes to get back home, considering his total on-ice time was MAYBE 15 minutes

It doesn’t normally take quite so long to get to the rink from our house - it’s usually just about 25 minutes, but today’s one of those days when we hit everything juuuust the wrong way, starting with catching the tail end of rush hour traffic.

How To Avoid Losing $2,000 To iTunes

If you're signed up to get my emails, you probably saw my note about how much I love Apple right now because they refunded a hefty sum of iTunes charges back onto my credit card last week.

Here's the story (you know there's always a story):

When we were in the tippy top of a clock tower last week in Lucerne, Switzerland, I got a call from my credit card company saying there was a great deal of unusual activity on my card.

Turns out there was a flurry of iTunes charges onto that card happening since April 2nd.

To the tune of $1,923.47. 😱

What Moms REALLY Want For Mother's Day

Ok, guys - you have exactly six days to get the mommas taken care of and show them how appreciative you are of all the b.s. you’ve put them through.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking Mom wants a new coffee mug. Unless it’s funny, like this one.

And I promise she’s not been losing sleep wondering if this is the year she gets an engraved snow globe or any jewelry etched with “World’s Best Mom.”

A Shot At Being Supermom

You know that I try to be Supermom, right?  

I want to bake cookies with my kids, but not just once - I want it to be a thing. I want to be at all the sports games. I want to be the Room Mom (and I am), but I want to actually be good at it.  I want to make chores something that my kids feel fulfilled by doing.  I want to make homework time fun and full of learning and reflection.

I want to be that mom.

I mean, really, nothing fills me up more than creating educational games to support what my son is learning in school. Spending an afternoon funneling all my creative energy into making fun flashcards and word puzzles or crafting writing prompts like my dad used to do when I was a kid fills this momma’s heart.

Hahahahahahaha, ohmygosh, that’s such bullshit.

Was that the most boring thing you’ve ever read?  Because I actually fell asleep typing that last paragraph.

The truth is, I would rather eat a bag of human hair than use my “craft time” to make up educational games or crafts.

It Wasn't Supposed To Be Like This

Welcome back for another installment in the series we’ll call, “Shit I Never Saw Coming As A Mom.”

When my oldest son was in kindergarten, there was this kid who would constantly lick my kid.

That’s right, you heard me: he licked him.  Not once, not twice.  He licked him daily for months.

My son would be sitting at his desk, minding his own business, and this yay-hoo would toodle on past, then swing around really fast, bend down, and lick my son’s hand.

He’d lick his face if he got close enough.

He’d lick my son’s desk if he couldn’t reach him for whatever reason.

You know how some things happen in our lives and they’ll sort-of define that era for you, in your memories?  

Like you might say, “Oh that was in my saving-money-by-cutting-my-own-hair phase,” or, “That was during my vegetarian* period.”

In our family we refer to my son’s early elementary school years as, “when that kid would lick you.”

It was a period of time that went on way longer than it should have.  

When It's Time To Quit

Quit with the hiding, quit with the playing devil's advocate, quit with the holding back, quit with the ever-present safety net thrown out, quit with the mamby-effing-pambying.

Let me back up a bit.

Last time we talked, I was in the depths of sleepless nights and feverish worry about our son, who’s away at college and has been going through some “stuff.”

After my drive down there to see him in person and grab him by the shoulders and shake him until he returned to himself, I spent the next few weeks texting him every morning to check in and make sure he knew we’re here for him.

To make sure he knows he’s not alone and to make sure he knows how very much he’s loved.

And to give him the nudges he needed to get out of his “comfort zone” and live life.

What Do Normal People Do When Forced Into A Fight At Target?

A couple of days ago I went on a rare non-rushed Target run - one of my very favorite pastimes.

To be clear, the “non-rushed” part is what was rare about it. The Target run itself isn’t rare for me at all.

In fact, the last time Mark joined me there he looked over and said, “Do you see the problem?” when we passed an employee who said to me, “Your haircut is so cute! I love your highlights this time,” which was just a few minutes after another employee asked as she straightened products on the shelf, “How did your IKEA built-ins* turn out?”

I had enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the store, having some delicious alone time before family came in for spring break.

Saving A Teenager. Parenting Or Coddling?

If you’re set up to get my emails you got yourself a gander into the peculiar world of my fear-dreams earlier this week, you lucky devil, you.

(By the way, I’m currently accepting dream interpretations, AND if you aren’t subscribed, but you’re looking for something juicy to sit back with a bag of popcorn and watch play out like a kid at a carnie sideshow, click here and you’ll get the stuff I only share to people I trust with such oddities.)

You might have read this worried-mom post that I shared earlier this week about my son.

It’s a different post than what I usually share - the less-funny and more worrisome side of parenting than most of my posts - and I questioned whether I should share it for a few reasons:

Is the story too personal?

By sharing it, am I exploiting my son?

Anxiety Or Irresponsibility? How Do I Know What's Happening With My Son?

It’s been about a month since my oldest was home from college for the holidays, so I checked in on him last week with a phone call that went like this:

Me: Hey, baby, whatcha doing?

18: Walking over to get some food.

Me: Oh ok, so you can talk for a sec - how were your classes today?

18: I haven’t had them, yet.  They’re later today - one’s at 1:50 and the other isn’t until 6.

Me: UMM, IT’S 1:54!!

18: Oh.

I swear to Jesus, Joseph, and Mary, he’s learned nothing since Mark and I lost every ounce of our shit with him over the Christmas break.

Let me update you.