Tuesday, September 16, 2014

How to Offend a New Mom in Ten Easy Steps

A follow up to my post about how to offend a pregnant woman. The good news is that you can still be really offensive once the baby is actually born, not to worry.

1. Comment on how bad she looks.

You know who's not going to win a beauty contest? A new mother. They're sort of busy, you know, keeping a tiny helpless human alive.

Neighbor: Are you getting any sleep?
Me: Oh you know newborns, not really, but that's ok.
Neighbor: Yeah I can tell, you look terrible.

2. Tell her to read a parenting book.

You know what new mothers need to be doing in their small amounts of free time? Sleeping. Eating. Maybe showering. End of list. If you want to give parenting tips fine, but please don't make someone read a 300 page novel to go along with it.

3. If this were olden times you and your baby would be dead right now.

My first baby was born via emergency c-section once the doctor discovered my pelvis was too narrow for my son's melon head. I so appreciate the medical knowledge and technology we have now but maybe the delivery room is not the right time for relatives to remark on how 100 years ago me and my new baby would have been toast.

4. My baby slept through the night at ______ days old!

Good for you. Your baby must be one of those special babies that don't need to eat. Also, maybe it's not the best thing to brag about how much sleep you're getting to a sleep-deprived, hormonal lady.

5. You named your baby what?

Insert comment of your choice here:
I had a dog named that! (According to how often I got this comment, every single dog out there must be named Cooper, just in case you meet a dog at the park today, its name is most likely Cooper.)
Have you considered this name instead?
How unusual...
Staring with your mouth open.

6. Insert weird irrelevant parenting advice here _____.

Tips on how to discipline your newborn.
Tips on how to get your three day old to sleep through the night.
Tips on how to make your newborn's hair grow.

7. When are you going to have another one?

Ask me again when I'm not wearing pants with an elastic waist.

8. Didn't you already have the baby?

Yikes. Never ask. Just smile politely, speak of the weather, and hope she says something about it.

9. Are you breast feeding?

Now this question is acceptable coming from your child's pediatrician or a good friend, but not really from a total stranger in the grocery store. Due to some personal issues my son grew up happily on Costco's finest formula. And in order not to discuss those personal issues with the breastfeeding police I simply lied and said yes ma'am, he nurses all day long and I'm the president of the la leche league, now can you tell me where the doughnut aisle is?

10. Your new baby looks like Gollum.

Courtesy of my husband who said this to his sister upon meeting his new niece. She must have still been slightly sedated with medication or surely she would have punched him in the face.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tuning out the Stupidity

Sometimes the world just makes me want to pound my head into my desk repeatedly. Not over anything big or important. Mostly over stupidity. And that’s when I remember that I need to step back, unplug from the internet and all the stupid things people post, tune out the awfulness of the local and national news, pretend that email doesn’t exist, and remember to live. It’s amazing what simply taking a breath can do. It doesn’t fix the world’s problems, but it does help me remember to be a person. I can start to think about real things like goals, the future, the people I love. That doesn’t mean I ignore everything all the time, but even just 5 minutes away can help.

What helps you step back from it all? What are the important things that come to the surface when you’re able to tune out all the stupidity?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

How to throw a retro birthday party

Disclaimer: I truly am in awe of mothers who have the time, talents, patience, motivation, and money to throw extravagant, themed birthday parties. I am not one of them.

My daughter turned five this year, and like every other girl born between 2007 and 2011 she requested a Frozen birthday party. Fortunately, in the age of Pinterest, I found literally hundreds of ideas to make her birthday party a success. Unfortunately, I found hundreds of ideas that made me feel like a failure before the invitations were even sent out. Here were some of the birthday parties I found on Pinterest. Keep in mind that these parties were being thrown for CHILDREN between the ages of one to seven.

Admittedly, these are LOVELY parties, but personally, I don't have the patience or the will to throw a Pinterest worthy party. I can't even fathom the cost of these parties. Unfortunately for me, my children have been attending parties like this, so I have to say things like, "I'm sorry Hannah, I don't really have the energy to fill balloons with helium and confetti, along with a handwritten invitation to your party, and personally deliver them to nine different houses. I know when they pop them the invitation will fall out, along with lots of confetti which seems lovely and whimsical but also I don't want their parents to be vacuuming confetti out of their carpet for weeks."

So, if you are wondering how to throw a perfectly fun party for a fraction of the cost of a Pinterest party, look no further. In fact, it may take you back to days gone by to birthday parties of the 80s and 90s, when the object was to celebrate the kid by eating cake that looked and tasted mediocre at best.

1) Buy pre-made invitations, or better yet, print them off the internet. That's what I did. It takes between thirty seconds and five minutes and it will hang on the fridge of the invited for the same amount of time as those extravagant invitations that take three days to make.

2) Cakes can be expensive... unless you buy a mix in a box and make your own frosting. Sure, it might not look like much, but, like the invitations, the cake will be devoured by the five year olds in about thirty seconds and it might taste even better because fondant doesn't taste as delicious as cheap, old fashioned frosting. I thought about doing themed food for about six seconds, but then I remembered I had a one month old baby and I decided cake and ice cream would suffice.
Don't mind the chunks of frosting I tried to smooth over after my two year old got her hands on the cake. The five year olds didn't seem to mind. 
3) Keep the decorations simple. Streamers, balloons, maybe a cardboard cut out? Preferably something you can use for your next kid's birthday (which, in my case, is five weeks later).
My husband made this Olaf by hand. I think he did a pretty good job. Olaf is going to live in my daughters' room now. 
Note the store bought table cloth, plates, cups, and napkins. 

4) Play games. Keep them fun. I went to a gorgeous birthday party recently. It was Pinterest worthy with a capitol P, but there was nothing for the kids to do, so all the lovely decorations and themed food meant nothing for fifteen five year olds who had nothing to occupy them. At Hannah's party we played pin the nose on Olaf, we made snow globes and cut out snowflakes, and we had a snowball fight in July with snowballs purchased from our local Bahama Bucks. Party games are awesome.

5) Do favors, or not. My best friend feels very strongly about party favors, and she always does beautiful, generous favors. My daughters still have their Tinkerbell wings, wand, and jars of glow in the dark pixie dust and they love to play with them. I went to the great effort of going on Amazon to buy prepackaged Frozen favors, and Hannah was happy, so I was happy.

The birthday cost a grand total of $35 dollars to throw, the biggest expense being the mason jars for the snow globes, and the snowballs which cost me a whopping twelve dollars for sixty snowballs. It took a total of two hours to plan and execute, and five minutes to clean up the mess.
While Pinterest parties can be fun and memorable, so can the retro parties of our youth. I think I'll stick to keeping it simple for the birthday parties, and saving my energy and money for her wedding day. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

TBT: Forgotten memories

My Dad is the father of six girls and no boys. Yes, yes, get it all out of your systems now - poor him, right? Poor him my foot! He has had such a good life and give us all a couple decades and he is going to be the most well-taken-care-of cranky old man. Even he admits that!

I will admit, however, that with six daughters, everything hasn't been always been rainbows and sunshine. Six daughters, six young women going through puberty (some at roughly the same time. Shudder). Six daughters, six emotional first dates. Six daughters, six wardrobes to fight over. You get the idea.

Six daughters, six birthdays to forget...

When I was about 8, I had a father/daughter party at church. We ate food, we played games, it was fun for all. To be honest, I probably wouldn't remember much about that particular party it weren't for one game we played. It was one of those games where you ask one half of a pair questions about the other half and see how many they get right. The dads were supposed to be answering questions about the daughters and they threw in a couple of what I thought were slow pitches. What color are your daughters eyes? What is your daughter's birthday?

My dad had five kids at that point. That's a lot of birthdays to remember! Our family isn't known for our good memories. He was asked what my birthday was. He answered October 8. My birthday is October 9.


I think I have been holding it against him for twenty years, despite the fact that I still to this day have to double check with my sisters that I remember the right date for his birthday every year. But, like the patient man that he is, he has let me hold my little grudge and give him grief for it whenever I get the chance.

That is what I remember that event for. I remember that my dad forgot what day my birthday is. Then the other day I was going through a packet of loose pictures that my mom had stuck in the back of one of my photo albums. For the first time in years I found a couple pictures from that father/daughter party and I remembered something else about it:

Did I mention that my dad is a wonderfully patient man? Six daughters, a lifetime of submitting himself to events that asked him to do things like be wrapped up as a toilet paper mummy, much to the delight of those six daughters.

I forgot all about that part of the party and I am sure there were so many more moments that were so much better than the moment when he forgot what day my birthday is. Especially when, twenty years later, I find myself in love with and married to a man who also can't always remember what day my birthday is on.

I stuck the toilet-paper-mummy picture up on my bulletin board after I found it the other day, just to remind myself that my past isn't all forgotten birthday memories. There are many, many more toilet-paper-mummy memories out there, ready to be remembered and enjoyed.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Goals: Keeping it Simple

Even though the summer is coming to an end (sadly), fall can be a time for new beginnings. Some friends and I recently carpooled up to another friend’s wedding, and, as car conversations tend to do, we hit on a lot of topics.

On the way home from the reception we began talking about goals. I posed these three questions to the group: What is one goal you have professionally, one goal personally, and one goal that falls in another realm (whether it be spiritually, otherworldly, energy you put into the world, or some other realm I don’t yet know, etc.)?

So often we have these internalized goals or expectations for ourselves. Sometimes it is easy to get overwhelmed, set too many, and have things turn to negative self-talk. Or even simply have those goals fall away because they’ve slipped your mind. By verbalizing just 3 goals (that’s it--just the 3, no more), and discussing them with friends, it made it seem more achievable, more real, and it just might make us all more accountable as we move forward.

What would your 3 goals (professional, personal, and spiritual/other) be?