The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

Balance, Logic, Fudge

Blogging has been difficult for me lately. It requires a certain amount of uninterrupted thought and for the last three weeks I haven’t been able to generate a complete sentence without someone asking me to make them some jelly toast or if we can go to the pool now.

Yesterday it had gotten to the point where I knew if I didn’t put together a blog post immediately, I just never would again and I would become constipated by my own thoughts until they eventually shriveled up and died inside me, poisoning my insides. (That’s what happens when you keep your thoughts trapped inside you.) So I sucked it up and put a post out, but I’m out of practice, so the process was plodding and painful.

I’ve decided the only solution is to force myself to produce until things feel a little bit more natural again. It’s the prune juice for my creative process. I just need to get it all moving until I’m regular, right?

So I’m just going to blog the inside of my head for awhile until things start to spark on their own again and I’m back in the groove (or some other defecation metaphor, if you prefer consistency). Feel free to move along if that’s not your thing. I’ll get back to attempting to construct coherent narratives eventually.

The inside of my head this morning:

Yesterday evening I took a hand-balancing workshop taught by a traveling circus couple. They were amazing. He’s Cuban and English is clearly not his first language (balancing actually might be his first language) and she’s sweet, blonde, voluptuous and bendy. He had us kick up into handstands endlessly and hold them as long as we could while he poked our legs from either side to help us stay up and demanded we stay tight or use our fingers more. She would then explain the technique and tricks in more detail while he demonstrated things that seemed scientifically impossible, but were really just the result of insane strength and coordination.

handbalancing

They taught us a trick called a crocodile, on two posts, that I don’t have a picture of us working on, but the result looks like this:

crocodile

I didn’t get my hand off the second post, but I did manage to balance with my legs and chest up for a few seconds after working on it for twenty minutes and I was pretty fucking proud of myself for it. That chick is making it look way easier than I was, but that’s definitely what I looked like in my head. With a little more shaking and sweating.

Last night I dreamed I joined a professional rollerskating performance troupe. Obviously my own psyche thinks I’m kind of insane, also.

I woke up this morning to aching arms, shoulders and abs, but I had a plan for this week and that plan included running Monday, Wednesday AND Friday morning, so I dragged myself outside even though it was already hot, humid and miserable at 5:30AM.

But the world was beautiful:

morning run

And Pandora rewarded me with my one of my favorite songs right as I set out, I Will Follow You into the Dark. Have you ever seen the video? I Youtubed it a few months ago and it managed to make me love that song and Death Cab for Cutie even more than I did before (which was like a really super lot already):

Death Cab for Cutie is one of those things that speaks to me. The songs just make sense in a simple, analytical, beautiful way. I feel that way about Alton Brown, too. You know, the chef? The way he explains The Why of food preparation by celebrating the science behind it while still appreciating the beauty of flavor just really makes me want to make-out with him. Even the 51 year old balding him. I strongly believe the powerful nature of logic does nothing but support the wonder and beauty of the world and I <3 those guys and gals who regularly turn that concept into art.

I got through my four miles a little faster than I had all week despite the heat, which just goes to prove, once again, that running is so much about your state of mind.

Today I’m doing a final walkthrough on a house I feel a little bittersweet about selling. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it here before or only on Facebook and I’m too lazy to go back and look, but it’s my best friend’s childhood home. I helped her parents purchase a new home, a little further south, with a more comfortable layout for them and we’re closing on the sale of the old one next week.

You know how you always have that one friend who has a house everyone ends up hanging out at? The house that always has snacks and good places to sit and the parents don’t hassle you or roll their eyes when you come over and watch TV and drink all the sodas out of their garage fridge? That was this house. I can’t even count the number of times I spent the night or dances we got picked up by our dates from at this house. There was the one summer the cockroaches were particularly bad in Dobson Ranch, so Rebecca and I would take the rolly chairs from the kitchen table and race the creatures across the floor when we spotted one. Or the time I hosted a Ouija Board seance by candlelight (because I’m the most dramatic) and we’re pretty sure we contacted the spirit of River Phoenix. Her mom even threw me a baby shower there when I was pregnant with Ben.

So I’m a little sad to see it sold, and I think the rest of the family feels the same. But I know the new home will make my friend’s parents happy and a new family will make memories in the old house. I hope they remember to always have lemon bars and fudge in the pantry.

Summer Break – A Nervous Breakdown in Four Acts

Summer Break – Act 1 (The First Day)

Mom (eyelids popping open at 5AM on the dot with terror at the realization): THE KIDS ARE OUT OF SCHOOL!!! Shitshitshit. I need a plan. It’s going to be ok. Everything will be ok with a plan. And plans start with lists. I just need to make a list.

*Gets out paper and pen and writes Things to accomplish this summer at the top.*

First needs to be ‘Go to the Dentist’ because that’s one of those things you do in the summer to get it over with, right? Although we didn’t go last summer… or the summer before. So the point is, we really, really need to go to the dentist this summer.

Also, the little one still isn’t swimming by himself. And he is definitely too old for that shit. But every time I put him in lessons he screws around and snows the teacher and learns nothing. So I pay $175 for a month of bullshit. OK, I’m taking this into my own hands. I taught swim lessons for years in high school and college, there’s no reason I can’t teach my own kid how to swim, right? We’ll just go to the pool every day until he can swim across the pool. NBD.

What else? The middle one needs tutoring for reading and writing, so I need to get that set up and confirmed. And they each need a regular physical activity and a creative one. There’s a skateboarding/parkour gym not to far from us. I’ll look into classes there. And Mesa Center for the Arts has ceramics classes for all ages. That should work.

We also need a family “Summer Project”. I know! We’ll make a Lego/origami stop-motion movie together! It will be so fun! We’ll probably get famous after it’s done and have our own reality show about how we make movies together as a family, each using our own individual creativity and skills to create great collaborative works of art.

And of course we need to clean out and reorganize their bedrooms. Plus there will be absolutely no TV or video games until after 4PM and we are definitely not eating out. I’m going to plan all of our meals for the week and grocery shop on Mondays so we can have wholesome, inexpensive meals all summer.

I think that’s it!

  • Go to the dentist
  • Teach the youngest to swim
  • Reading tutoring for the middle
  • Parkour classes for the oldest
  • Skateboarding lessons for the other two
  • Ceramics class for all
  • Family Lego/origami stop-motion movie
  • Clean out and reorganize bedrooms
  • No TV/video games until after 4PM
  • No eating out

I don’t know what I was freaking out about, this summer is going to be great! If I just calendar everything out and allot the appropriate amount of time for each activity, we’ll be able to enjoy the summer in a fun, creatively stimulated, healthy way. This is going to be the best summer ever.

Act 2 (The end of week 1.):

Mom: Huh. So going to the pool every day is not only exhausting and time-consuming, but creates more laundry than Lindsay Lohan on a press-junket for an ill-fated made for TV Movie. And now I don’t have time to do any laundry because when I’m not driving one kid to an activity, I’m entertaining the others because I won’t let them watch TV or play video games. AND THE FEEDING. My god, the feeding. I get up and make breakfast. Once that is all picked up it’s roughly 19 minutes before it’s time to start lunch. And before I can even think about walking away from the kitchen the fruit needs to be cut up for snacks and it’s time to start dinner.

So far the skateboarding and parkour is going pretty well, but those classes are in direct conflict with my workout schedule, so that’s out the window.

Oh shit, and we haven’t worked on the stop-motion movie in days. In fact, we haven’t gotten past setting up the camera and the lights. Fuckfuckfuck. I’m instilling in my children the habit of starting projects that never get finished. I’m raising failures right now. That’s what I’m doing.

Can’t forget to clean their rooms. When will I have time to do that?? We don’t even have time for the tutoring homework!

And I haven’t made the dentist appointment yet.

I need to redouble my efforts.

Act 3 (Three weeks in.)

Mom: OK, guys, I’m going to swing through In and Out Burger and get food for lunch. You can eat it in the car if you promise you won’t spill on the upholstery. You need to pause your video games and look at the menu to tell me what you want me to order. I need to run into Walgreens on the way home really quick so I can get more wine.

When we get home you can watch TV if you want. I think there’s a Dirty Jobs marathon on. I just need you to leave me alone for a few hours. I have to send some emails and then I really need to take a nap. I’m physically and emotionally exhausted from you people and fulfilling your wants and needs every moment of every day. It’s summer, right? Naps are ok. I think naps are a summer thing. Please just don’t talk to me until it’s time to get ready to go to ceramics class. Please?

Act 4 (The end of summer.)

Mom: I’mneveraloneI’mneveraloneI’mneveralone. I just want to be alone. Like more than I want to breathe. I’m being crushed to death under the warm, suffocating weight of family-togetherness. It’s almost over, right? I think it’s almost over. I looked at the calendar and I’m pretty sure they go back to school soon. Even though we didn’t finish the stop-motion movie, they ate more fast food than pregnant Britney Spears and no one in our family has qualified for the XGames yet, I haven’t murdered any of them, so I’m pretty sure if I can just finish this out, I win at summer. Winning is what I’m doing right now. Winning in the non-homicide sense. And what more, really, can be expected of a parent?

… oh shit. We never went to the dentist.

 

 

 

“Rescued”

Reason #8,512,294 I never get anything productive done:

Jonas: Mom.

Me: Yes?

Jonas: Can you come outside? I want to show you something.

Me: Um, I’m right in the middle of something. What is it you want to show me?

Jonas: Well… when I was just riding my bike over to Joshua and Eli’s to see if they could come play, I found a baby bird and I brought it back to our house.

Me: What?! No you didn’t. Are you serious?

Jonas: Yes. It was alone! I rescued it!

Me: Did you touch it? The mom won’t take it back if you touched it.

Jonas: I didn’t touch it! I put it in the cup holder on my bike. And there wasn’t a mom. It was in a box.

Me: Oh for chrissakes. Where is it?

*He takes me out to the garage.*

rescued bird 1

 

Jonas: I’m going to put him in a little box and feed him.

Me: Jo, you don’t even know what he eats.

Jonas: I do! All birds eat worms. I know LOTS about birds. Way more than you do.

Me: I’m not saying you don’t. I’m just saying I don’t think you know enough to keep him alive. Or happy. Would you be happy in a tiny little box where you couldn’t move?

Jonas: I’m going to put him in a bigger box. And I can definitely keep him alive. I’ll give him water and food every day. I’ll catch a worm every day for him.

Me: What about when he gets big and needs to learn to fly? You can’t teach him to fly.

Jonas: I could! I could definitely teach him how to fly. I’m sure of it.

Me: Oh good lord. I seriously don’t even know what to do. You need to show me exactly where you found it.

Jonas: OK, but it’s kind of far. And through one of the other gated neighborhoods, so you can’t drive.

*After a 20 minute walk through several neighborhoods and a wash behind some houses.*

Jonas: See that box right there? He was in that box.

Me: So you were riding your bike and you saw the box 20 feet off the path in the wash and you got off your bike to go look inside it?

Jonas: Yes.

Me: Why?

Jonas: I like boxes.

Me: Right. So then how did you get it from the box into your cup holder if you didn’t touch it?

Jonas: I picked up the box and carried it over to my bike and tipped it into the cup holder.

Me: Got it. I don’t see a nest anywhere nearby…

Jonas: Look, Mom!! *Points to the carcass of an identical baby bird  covered in ants about 5 feet further down the wash.*

Me: Get away from that! Don’t touch it!! Come over here right now! I’m calling your father!

Jonas: See! I rescued him! That’s what would have happened to him!

Me (on the phone to Jason): So your youngest, my favorite-

Jason: Uh oh…

Me: Brought home a live baby bird (I explain the story in detail). I don’t see a nest anywhere. And I think it’s not ok. It’s moving its wing and chirping, but not its legs. I seriously don’t know what to do with it.

Jason: Take it home and put it in the big green container in the backyard that we had the lizard in Jonas caught a couple of days ago. Give it some water in that little dish I had in there. I’ll take a look at it when I get home and do something about it.

Me: Oh for the love… fine. I have neither the time nor the emotional energy to feel responsible for the entirety of the health, safety, hopes and dreams of yet another creature in our home! Do you have any idea what kind of a burden it is to wake up in the middle of the night worrying about the general happiness and emotional security of everyone who lives under our roof? Even the ones who can’t communicate their own happiness to me?

Jason: …no?

Me: IT’S EXHAUSTING. This is why I drink.

Jason: I thought real estate was why you drink. And the boys fighting. And spiders in the washing machine.

Me: All those things too. It’s why I have to drink so much. I blame you for this, you know. I never brought home creatures for my parents to deal with when I was a kid.

Jason: I know.

rescued bird 2

 

*Updated to add the rest of the story*

So it turns out the little guy is a baby quail. After I posted this blog, my sweet friend, Shar, pointed me to a website run by local people who help sick and injured wildlife. I followed their instructions to email a picture of the bird to them and in less than 10 minutes someone had replied with the name and phone number of a woman in Apache Junction who takes in and rehabilitates sick and injured birds (or baby birds without their mothers).

I called Barb, The Wildlife Rehabilitator, specializing in quail, dove and bunnies (so it sez on her biz card) and she gave me her address and told me to bring the bird right over to her. Of course, at this point the kids had to be at the skateboarding school I signed them up for classes at this summer in 20 minutes, so there wasn’t time to take the bird to her before dropping them off. Additionally, I had planned to go to circus school after the skateboarding classes (Jason was meeting me there to receive the kids). I intended to throw something on over top of my circusy workout outfit to make it slightly less weird, but because of all of the bird clusterfuckery, I didn’t have time to figure anything reasonable out and ended up running out the door just in that. I also didn’t have much time to find something appropriately sized to transport the bird in the car, so I grabbed the first thing I saw that would work.

This is how I came to meet the other moms of the kids in Jonas’s new skateboarding class while wearing a black fitted tank top and these tights:

galaxy tights

 

And carrying a plastic novelty movie popcorn bucket with a tiny injured baby quail inside. Oh and with blue hair, of course.

Luckily, it’s skateboarding class, so dude, these moms don’t judge. (I <3 skateboarding class.)

After securing the kids in their classes, I hopped back into the car (realizing I was super low on gas) and headed 17 miles East into the wilds of Apache Junction to find the wacky lady who takes in tiny injured birds. When I got to her house, she immediately picked him up (it also turns out the whole ‘don’t touch a baby bird because then its mom won’t take it back’  or because it’s definitely covered in germs that will immediately kill you, is all super old-wives-taley) and said something is definitely wrong with his legs and she doesn’t know if he’ll make it, but she’ll work with him and do her best.

Then she thanked me and told me to tell Jonas he’d done the right thing (who knew that was possible) and asked me if I could possibly deliver another bird to one of her rescuer friends on my way back West.

How do you say no to a woman who takes in injured baby birds as a hobby?

Which is how I ended up speeding down the 60 toward a church parking lot to meet a woman I’d never met, freaking out I was going to either be late to pick up the kids or run completely out of gas (or both) with this guy in my car:

rescued bird 3

Luckily, I found ‘Gennie’ (the other nutty bird lady), handed off this fellow and made it back to the skateboard gym without running out of gas exactly as the kids were being released from their classes.

I haven’t heard anything from Barb yet today as to whether our quail made it through the night, but I’m going to check in with her later and will definitely keep you updated. I feel better that at least we did everything we could.

(We also rescued a prairie dog from the neighborhood pool on Tuesday this week:

drowning prairie dog

 

So if this is the universe’s way of testing us to see if we’re terrible people, I would just like to know if we’ve passed or if we should expect a family of homeless coyote to show up at our doorstep seeking shelter next.)

36: Pros vs. Cons

I had a birthday over the weekend. It was a good time, but I’m feeling conflicted about the whole ‘turning 36′ thing. Certain parts of the process are categorically offensive and should be outlawed as inhumane. For instance:

1. When your girlfriend points to you and says to the waiter, “We’re celebrating her 30th!” and he chuckles because he can tell she must be kidding.

2. When your mother gives you a tankini swimsuit for your birthday because, “You’re always complaining about your stretch marks! I thought you’d like to be more covered!”

3. When the cashier at Smashburger asks to see your ID after you order a beer, but as  you’re having trouble extricating it from your new wallet he says, “Oh, it’s OK, you don’t need to pull it out. I’m just supposed to ask!”

4. When bitches in their mid-20s complain about how “old” they’re getting and it’s not legal to punch them in the face (you bitches know who you are).

5. When an acquaintance mentions her “kid in high school” and for a second you wonder if she’s super old or was a teenage mom… until you remember your kid starts high school in 3 months… and you weren’t a teenage mom.

6. When your husband begins to steadily ascend on the Comparative-Attractiveness Scale (because: Men + Age  = Distinguished) while you spend most of your free time (and half your income) fighting tooth and nail just not to lose ground (because: Women + Age = An Entire Aisle in the Grocery Store Devoted to Pleasegodmakethisstop).

No one should have to deal with that shit.

But, there are things about 36 that possibly make up for the horror-show above. Like:

1. Realizing dark lipstick no longer makes you look like a teenage prostitute and you can totally pull it off.

2. Knowing you’re in the strongest physical condition you’ve ever been in your life because you finally have the time, determination and cash flow to make it happen.

3. Still being that bitch who complains about getting “old” to all your friends in their mid-40s.

4. Not giving any fucks about your stretch marks anymore and still wearing your smallest goddamn bikini because you worked hard for those ab muscles, even if they’re covered by a few battle scars.

5. Giving way fewer fucks in general about what anyone else thinks about you, your weird hobbies, habits or outfits.

6. Getting to have a Trophy Husband without even getting divorced and remarried.

7. Having kids you are proud of, who no longer require you to handle their feces on a regular basis and who occasionally even let you go to dinner without them.

So… I think at the very least, it’s a wash. But possibly things are tipping in the direction of 36 not being THE WORST. I’ll let you know in a year.

 

The Emotional Spectrum of a Text

The requisite thought process when you* get a text from a number you don’t recognize:

Me: Yay, a text!

mysterytext

Also Me: Uh… who is this?

Me: This is awkward. This person is nice enough to send me a text asking how the handstand workshop I went to last night went and I don’t even know who it is! I’m such an asshole.

Also Me: Maybe it’s Rebekah or Sean.

Me: I have them both saved in my phone… and they were both at the workshop.

Also Me: Right. It could be Tatiana. We talked about this workshop at class a few weeks ago and she said she thought she was going to go, but then she didn’t show last night.

Me: She’s never texted me before and it doesn’t seem like something she would just randomly do. She would FB message me, or text Rebekah if she wanted to know if it was a cool workshop. It’s not her.

Also Me: OK, so it’s someone who I know well enough they want to know if I enjoyed my class, but not well enough I have him or her saved in my contacts or have ever texted with them before…

Me: This is stupid. I should just text them back, “Who is this?” It’s a reasonable question! Whenever I text someone I haven’t texted before I always sign it. That’s common courtesy.

Also Me: It just seems so confrontational. This person is just trying to be nice! And what if it’s a weird phone thing and it is someone I know really well and my phone is just being a dick and lost the contact? That shit happens. And if I’m weird about it I could totally alienate someone who I really like. Then they’ll never text me asking about my random hobbies again. Or, what if it’s a friend I talk to online all the time who just decided to text me instead of messaging me because it was easier from her phone?

Me: Well this can’t be that hard to figure out. I just need to reason through it. Who knew I was going to a handstand workshop last night and has my phone number?

Also Me: Well, I ‘checked in’, announcing I was attending a handstand workshop, on my completely open Facebook account last night.

Me: And my cell number is both on my super-unprotected-in-any-way Facebook account and in bold at the top of my website, plus on signs in front of all of my listings and on every email I send out.

Also Me: So… the entire Internet and most of Arizona.

Me: Right.

Also Me: OK, OK. Maybe just text them back, “It was great!” and see what they reply back. That could give me some clues to help figure out who exactly it is.

Me: Not a bad idea. But what if it’s a stalker?

Also Me: You mean like a fan? Of my blog?

Me: Well, a ‘fan’ writes comments on the blog. Or possibly messages you through the website or Facebook to say they like your writing or think you’re funny. A ‘stalker’ goes to the trouble of texting your cell about your personal activities.

Also Me: You think I could really have a stalker/fan?? That could be kind of awesome. Only the really good, popular blogs have stalkers. And if this person is a stalker, they seem like a really considerate one. I think I might enjoy having a stalker who texts me to ask me how my day is going and how I’m feeling every once in awhile.

Me: Remember that time early on in real estate when I did an open house and the next day got those emails from some guy who said he’d come through to tour the house? They started out super friendly and complimentary and rapidly turned to creepily describing my outfit and my legs the day before.

Also Me: That still gives me the chills. I was alone in an enormous house with that guy. Ugh. OK, better to figure out who this is before responding in a friendly and inviting manner.

Me: I’ll just have to wait and try Googling the number when I’m not driving.

Later…

Me: AHA! It’s Rachel, the owner of the Circus School! I guess she wanted feedback on how the class went because she wasn’t there.

Also Me: So it wasn’t a friend who cared enough to ask about the class.

Me: Or even a stalker/fan.

Also Me: Like 33 people read the blog. It’s probably not shocking there’s no stalker/fan.

Me: *Sigh*

 

Updated (because I love that you guys take time out of your busy days to fuck with me) to add:

mystery text 2

 

*And by ‘you’, I mean ‘me’.

Residually Problematic

Yesterday evening when I got home from the Mother’s Day staycation I went on with my mom and sister I was jumping on the trampoline in back when I noticed something florescent green attached to the side of our house about 10 feet up. It was on the stucco that runs along the bottom of the balcony off the master bedroom. Upon closer inspection, I realized it was one of those sticky hands you get out of a vending machine for a quarter that only have three practical applications:

1. Collecting cat fur and bacteria.

2. Slapping your brother in the face and saying, “It’s not my fault, I can’t control it!” when he cries.

3. Sneaking up behind your older brother when he’s doing his homework and using it to grab his papers off his desk so he gets really pissed off and locks you out of his room.

I went inside to find Jonas to resolve the issue.

Me: Hey Jo…

Jonas: Yeah?

Me: Is that your sticky hand on the house?

Jonas: Where?!! 

Me: Right under the balcony.

Jonas (runs outside and back in excitedly): Yep, that’s mine! I thought it had landed on the neighbor’s roof. 

Me: Well, I need you to get it off the house.

Jonas (in a full sprint upstairs): OK!!

10 minutes later as he retreats down the stairs…

Jonas: I can’t reach it. I need to construct something to get it down.

Me: Construct away, I have faith in you. I just want it off my house. 

3 minutes later…

*Splat*

Jonas (running down the stairs and out the back door to retrieve his prize): I got it!

Jason: Alright, hand it over.

Jonas (furiously): No! I just want to play with it for 10 minutes!

Me: It’s fine, he can play with it for a few minutes before he needs to get ready for bed, can’t he?

Jason: Do you see those greasy marks on the ceiling over there? 

sticky hand story 1

 

Me: Huh, yeah. I didn’t notice them.

Jason: They’re from the sticky hands Jo and Gray got out of the machines at Barro’s on Friday. This is why I took the rest of them away.

Me: Oh… right. I thought you were just being cranky. 

Jonas: We didn’t know that was going to happen! We just thought they’d stick and fall down.

Me: I get it. But now it looks like an octopus barfed on our ceiling, so you can’t play with them any more. 

Jonas (angrily stomping up the stairs): It’s not fair!

20 minutes later (I’m watching TV and don’t look up when Jonas comes down in his jammies).

Jonas: Mom, we could paint the ceiling, couldn’t we? Then it wouldn’t look bad.

Me: Yes, dear. We’ll probably do that eventually. In 20 years when we go to sell it. 

Jonas (comes over to my chair and nudges me with something in his hand): Here. I have white. 

sticky hand story 2

 

Jonas: It has some green in it, but I think if we use a really really small brush we can get the paint around the edges. Or Dad has a sponge. We could use that to get the green off and then paint the ceiling. See? It’s fine. 

Me: … Yes.

Jonas: So I can have the sticky hand back? 

The Headbox War

Spoiler Alert: They don’t love me.

Me: Now listen, you guys! You’re just screwing around up there, but someone needs to find the headbox! It has not just disappeared. It exists uptairs somewhere and you need to find it. In fact, I’m going to put 10 minutes on the timer and if you haven’t found the headbox by then, I’m going to start by grounding you from your electronic devices for two days and go from there!

Gray from upstairs: Jonas had the headbox last!

Jonas from upstairs: No I didn’t! Mom, what did you do with the headbox last time you were using it for your pictures on your website?

Me: I put it upstairs where it belongs. You guys have done something with it. All of the heads can’t just be gone!

Jonas: I think it’s up here but it’s empty.

Me: Why is it empty?! There were like 50 Lego heads in there!

Gray: I think we dumped all the heads in with the other Legos in one of the big boxes.

Me: WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT? Do you have any idea how long I spent digging through the Legos to filter all the heads out? I feel like what you’re saying right now is Happy Mother’s Day, we don’t really love you.

Jonas (coming down the stairs): What are you eating?

Me: Nutella.

Jonas: Why am I not allowed to eat Nutella out of the jar with a spoon?

Me: Because it’s made of hazelnuts and Dad and I are too lazy to Google it and figure out if hazelnuts are really in the nut family and you’re allergic to them or if they’re like pinenuts and only nut in name. Plus you’re not practically 36 with terrible kids who don’t appreciate all of your hard Lego-organizing work. When you’re 36 and you have terrible kids you can eat as much Nutella out of the jar with a spoon as you want… unless we find out hazelnuts are actually nuts.

Jonas: Oh.

Me: You only have 7 minutes left on the timer to find as many heads as you can in the big Lego box, so you better get working. I’m going to ground you if you don’t find enough.

Gray: How many is enough?

Me: If you love me you’ll find them all.

Can everyone stop rolling their eyes at me?

Things I feel like you should know right now:

1. Mysterious Illness Update #∞ – As of like three days ago I seem to be completely rash-free. Almost exactly three months after the first onset I no longer have any unexplained red dots and I haven’t used the steroid creme in more than two weeks. After hours of time wasted in doctors’ offices and hundreds of dollars in copays I learned doctors rely pretty heavily on both Web-MD and the ‘wait-and-see’ diagnosis. So basically they’re useless. Also I’m pretty sure when they interview for receptionists they look for extensive training in Being a Bitch, with an emphasis in Eye-Rolling and Interrupting Your Story.

The point is, none of the tests they ran ever came back positive. They never determined any kind of a diagnosis beyond We’re pretty sure it’s a virus and nothing that’s gonna kill you. Which is not just a little irritating and unsatisfying. But at least I don’t look like I have leprosy any longer.

2. Unfortunately, due to my new found disrespect for all medical professionals, I waited to take Gray to the doctor last week until he was four days into a fever and stomachache I assumed was ‘a virus’ (Doctor speak for, What the eff do I know? That’ll be $40.). Of course he actually had strep throat, a legitimately easy to diagnose and treat infection that generally doesn’t just get better on its own very quickly. So now he’s missed 4 days of school and 12-16 meals, and has only just started sleeping non-vampire hours again. So I suck.

3. The washing machine and I are ‘on a break’.

Yesterday when I was putting in a load of dirty clothes, I noticed a pair of Ben’s underwear had fallen between the wall and the machine, so I reached into the crevice, snagged the undies and threw them on the top of the load. When they landed in the machine, A SPIDER THE SIZE OF MY HEAD (practically) emerged and ran down inside the folds of the dirty clothes. I’m sure I don’t have to explain that I screamed like someone was trying to murder me (because clearly that spider was thinking murderous thoughts). Jason came running (ish… he ambled upstairs with rolly eyes*) and ultimately decided the way to handle this was to run the washing machine with the spider in it.

After the load had finished washing, Jason removed each piece of laundry individually and checked it for spiders (because that’s why you get married, so you don’t have to do shit like that yourself). He didn’t find anything. I’m pretty sure he thinks I made the whole thing up, but he says the spider probably got washed out of the machine and down the drain. I find that unlikely seeing as how our machine usually doesn’t even get the playground sand out of Jonas’s pockets, but I’m not sure what to do about it. Currently I’m avoiding both the laundry room and the load of now clean and dry laundry the spider was originally in. I figure if he made it through the wash employing some sort of arachnid-James-Bondery, this will give him time to either vacate the premise or  to invite all his friends to this new fun place he’s discovered. In the case of the latter we’ll obviously have an epic showdown only one of us will survive. Imma choose flame-thrower as my weapon because it worked in Arachnophobia.

4. Ignite Phoenix #16 wrapped up last Friday night. It was an awesome show and I was proud to be on the committee. (I also had a small MC duty in the middle of the show just to remind myself that I’m kind of terrible at public speaking.) I feel strongly that it’s an important event to Phoenix culture and the people who put it together (minus me) are insanely hardworking and creative. That said, I feel like I just don’t have the time to commit to the project it needs and I generally feel sick-to-my-stomach-guilty throughout the process for not attending meetings or reading all the emails like I should. In order to devote more time (like the rest of the committee does), I feel like I’d have to give up working out, hire a chauffeur and chef and stop showing property on Saturday mornings. The first I could get away with (although I don’t want to), but the other two are just not an option in my life right now.

But, OF COURSE, the next Ignite event on the books is the long awaited Ignite Phoenix After Hours, the vulgar, sexy, R-rated version of Ignite they only put on every couple of years because it’s a logistic (and potentially literal) clusterfuck. Obviously I don’t want to miss out on this shit.

So probably, instead of trying to recognize my own limitations and scale back on my activities, I’m going to redouble my efforts through the fall so I can be a part of this event. I’ll sleep when I’m dead, right? Or possibly, since we’ve already established I’m a failure as a parent up in number 2, when I’m supposed to be helping my kids with their homework.

That’s mostly it here right now.

 

*WHY DOES EVERYONE ROLL THEIR EYES AT ME? GAWD.

Why Circus Class Is Better Than Your Dumb Workout Class

I feel like right now you’re sitting at your computer, thinking to yourself, I wonder just why it is Elizabeth Newlin loves circus class so much… Am I right? Is that what was just happening? I knew it. I’m kind of psychic like that. 

Well you’re in luck. My stupid pulled ab muscle is healing and I was able to actually attend class yesterday, so here for a little Monday quickie (because who doesn’t love a Monday quickie), I put together a list of the reasons I love (LOVE) circus class.

My Favorite Things About Circus Class

1. There’s no such thing as ‘too old’, ‘too young’, ‘too fat’ or ‘too weird’ in circus class.

It would probably be insulting for me to detail out examples of old, young, fat, and weird in my classes, so let’s just go with this: I’m mostly middle of the road in all areas. My blue hair and almost 36-ness barely ping the ‘old-weirdo’ scale. Regardless of our ages and size, we’re all there together, squeezing into lycra and trying to climb a rope.

2. There’s a general ‘suck it up’ mentality about pain.

Two weeks ago in trapeze class, our instructor, Lauren, told us to put the middle of our forearms on the bar and try to balance our weight on them. “It’s a good idea to work on your pain tolerance in this area,” she explained. Don’t worry, that will hurt a lot less when you kill the nerves in right there and Once you toughen your skin up you won’t get as many bruises are things we’re often told. Because, Dude, if you can’t be a badass, what circus will want you? And hey, being a badass is an important life skill.

3. It’s assumed you can fucking do it if you just try harder.

During one of the classes in my first few months, my beginning level teacher, Ximena, told me to start class with a climb to the top of the silks. At this point, climbing 20+ feet up in the air was an incredibly physically (and let’s face it, emotionally) depleting task that I hadn’t actually managed to complete before. That day, though, I dug deep and made it to the very top of the silks, before shakily and gracelessly sliding down, hand-under hand. At the bottom, Ximena turned around (she’d been helping someone else) and said, “I told you to climb to the top.” Dripping sweat and near tears, I replied, “I just did it! Didn’t you see?” To which she said, “Well do it again, then!” That day I nearly punched her, but I did manage to get halfway back up again. Now I can probably do it three times in a row before I’m so tired I need to punch anyone. It turns out it helps to have someone push you past your own imagined limits.

4. Muscles are a thing everyone is proud and envious of.

Yesterday in class, a friend, Rebekah, who’s been in my class since I started turned to me and said, “Every single person here has a ripped back. Have you noticed that? Even that 16 year old girl over there who just started this session has new definition in her back and shoulders.” I looked around and she was right. You don’t go to circus class as a ‘fitness class’. You go to learn awesome tricks and feel like a superstar. A rock hard body is apparently just an unavoidable byproduct.

5. The What are you doing… Can I try?-culture.

Because the people who come to circus class are there because they want to learn cool tricks, everyone is constantly teaching everyone else new things they figured out or learned. Yesterday after class I got to try out the globe:

circus globe

 

Now I just need a high-waisted sequin bikini, right?

Which brings me to number 6…

6. It’s all about the outfits.

This one doesn’t even need explanation, right?

star tights

 

OK, so now do you want to come to class with me???

Overcoming the Family Legacy – My Dream For Ben

Dear My Nearly-Highschooler Son,

It’s not that I don’t get it. I do. I know what you’re going through all too well:

You take a seat in class, determined this will be the day you turn over a new leaf. You’re going to listen and absorb new material. You’re going to pay attention and take notes. You reach into your bag and pull out a notebook. It’s halfway through the semester and the only pages with writing are from the ‘Classroom Rules’ you were required to copy down the first day of class. You have a sinking feeling it doesn’t matter if you start today because you’ve kind of already ruined this class. You wonder if maybe you should start fresh next semester.

No, you tell yourself. Any day can be the start of new, positive habits. You can pull this class up at least a little bit. It’s worth trying.

You reach into your bag for a pen to take notes and find 3 broken pencils, a yellow highlighter, a pen you know doesn’t work and a crumbling pack of gum, among the wads of paper. Floating near the top is the form to buy a yearbook they handed out weeks ago. Looks like it’s due tomorrow. Remember to tell mom to write a check, remember to tell mom to write a check, you meditate.

The teacher begins speaking. You still haven’t found a viable writing utensil. You could ask the girl in front of you if she has one for you to borrow. She always seems well prepared. Or you could take one of the broken pencils to the sharpener really quick. Either seems like it would be disruptive to the class. And what if the teacher rolls his eyes and says, Really? Now you’re taking notes? What could possibly be the point now? That’s what you’d say to you.

No, you decide, instead, to sit quietly and pay extremely close attention to what he’s saying so you can soak it all in, and as soon as there’s a break, you’ll grab a pen and write down everything you learned before you forget it.

By this point the teacher is a few sentences into his lecture. He started with a joke and now he’s reviewing some stuff you already know. He’s giving some background info that’s clearly not going to be on any kind of a test. Where is the meat? The learning? What exactly are you supposed to be getting out of this right now? Couldn’t he just cut to the chase already?

Your mind starts to drift. You think about the novel you’re halfway through reading. You hope something interesting happens at lunch with your friends. You wonder if you should try to speak to your girlfriend in public today or if it will just embarrass her because she’s so shy. You brush your hair out of your eyes and try to remember if you washed it today in the shower or forgot and that’s why it looks so greasy.

Twenty minutes later the teacher wants you to break into small groups to work on a project and you realize you didn’t hear a single word he said. It was probably all in the text, though, you console yourself.

Homework feels like pointless busy-work. You always seem to miss when the teachers give due dates. You constantly worry you’re supposed to be working on something, so rather than face your assignments, you lose yourself in a book or your friends. You can make it up on the test, anyway, you tell yourself.

Does that sound right? I remember being that student. I remember feeling primarily unmotivated and bored. I remember being completely off-track and behind so quick into the school year that it felt pointless to even try to catch up. Sure, I was underperforming, but that was kind of part of my charm.

I know you hear the stories about me (and your grandpa) and it feels like a family legacy you can’t overcome. You’re not even really sure you want to. Neither of us twirls a sign on a corner days and works the Arby’s drive-thru nights just to make ends meet because we failed 8th grade social studies, after all. It’s in your blood to be a little bit of a half-ass when it comes to school. You’re a third-generation under-achiever!

The thing I wish I could convey to you without just sounding like Your Mom, is, if I could, I would do it all over exactly opposite. Your grandpa and I tell stories and laugh about how we didn’t even go to most of our classes in college, but when it comes down to it, I really regret all the things I missed out on because I was screwing around.

Looking back, I feel certain I could have put a relatively minimal amount of work into generally paying attention during class and completing homework tasks without largely diminishing my social life. I’ve come to realize pretty little follow through with my classes likely would have been enough to keep my grades within a range I wouldn’t have had to constantly worry about my parents being pissed at me. I actually could have probably gotten away with a lot more shenanigans in high school than I did if I’d just done my homework and stayed off their radar a little bit more. If I’d read the books assigned in my English classes (instead of rereading horror novels I’d already practically memorized), not only would I likely have enjoyed them, but I’m confident I’d now understand 50% more of the references on The Simpsons.

If I’d kept attending that dance class I registered for in college, instead of dropping it the second week because it was all the way across campus and I was too busy eating 4 meals a day at the cafeteria, I might have continued dancing instead of taking almost a decade off. If I’d put some effort into the assignments for my creative writing classes rather than literally using my roommate’s fridge poetry kit 20 minutes before class to write my poem, I might have actually learned something and be further along in my writing dreams than 35 years old with a blog and mere aspirations of a novel.

It’s hard to see it at the time, but high school and college are this crazy fertile ground of opportunities and creative energy. They’re both places full of people who only want to help you learn and do awesome things. Once you get to real life, those opportunities are still there, but you have to look really hard for them and only after you’re exhausted from horribly boring things like supporting yourself and doing laundry.

It took me a long time to see where I went wrong on all of this. Like a really long time. I just wish for you (sofa king much) that you could know this truth a little bit sooner than I did; soon enough to take advantage of your giant brain and some of the opportunities it can afford you if you simply teach it a tiny bit of discipline.

It’s really all I want for you.

Love you much (even though you’re an enormous pain in my ass),

Mom