Category Archives: Uncategorized

Guess who’s back, back again

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So you know how sometimes you have the absolute best of intentions and you really, truly mean to start blogging regularly again, and then…

  • You get really busy
  • You get really lazy
  • Shit happens
  • You develop a new obsession that has basically 100% of your attention during your downtime
  • You wind up posting a lot of stuff to Facebook because, dammit, it’s just easier
  • Basically life just gets out a lead pipe and does a Tonya Harding on your metaphorical knee?

A combination of all of those is the reason I haven’t updated this blog in six months. I suck; we have established that numerous times over the years.

A lot has happened since last May, and yet a lot of things are the same. Because of reasons (see bullet point #2 above) I am going to give an itemized rundown of the highlights (and, let’s face it, lowlights) and hope to do better in the future.

  1. I am still a University of Oklahoma student. I took all my classes online this semester. This was a mistake. One “dropped for a W” class later, I’m just trying to finish the semester and get back in the classroom where I clearly belong.
  2. I tried, and failed, at field school this summer. The conditions were just too primitive and for too long a time. Everyone is probably laughing in their sleeves at me for even trying to go up there, being the Miss Prissypants that I am, but the way I look at it is, you never know until you try. Clearly I am not made for sleeping on the ground in a meadow of elk crap, peeing in a port-a-potty and not being able to wash my hands after. If that makes me a bad person, so be it. I am sorry I didn’t finish what I started but I have never once regretted quitting. I was absolutely not enjoying myself and the kids and I had a gorgeous summer once I got home.
  3. R. is still working six hours away. I am still here by myself with the kids all week. This is life.
  4. I have recently developed a new musical obsession, and since this is my blog and no one reads it anymore, anyway, I will come out of the closet with it and say it’s One Direction. Yes, I love a boyband. No, I’m not ashamed (98% of the time). Besides, you should hear their new album. Bubblegum pop, no more. It’s amazing
  5. Did I mention Madalyn loves them, too? So my 13-year-old and I fangirl together over this band. You know what? It’s fun. Bite me.
  6. To that end, our goal this year is to see them in concert and meet them, if meet-and-greets are a part of their next US tour.
  7. The kids are good. I may not survive Eliza’s teen years, but I’ll have no one to blame but myself. Having a third kid was my idea, after all.
  8. I was recently struck with an unrelenting pull toward England. I mean, I’ve always wanted to go there, of course. But it’s suddenly become all too much. I need to go soon. And it looks like I may just be able to pull it off in 2014. I can scarcely believe my potential good fortune. And I can scarcely imagine how I will be able to actually get on the plane when I know I’ll be flying over water for like six hours. Valium, maybe?
  9. As I mentioned, the kids and I had a great summer. We were a month in California. We spent some time in LA. Eliza and I met Z Berg at her show in Hollywood, we went to some museums, and then we spent time with our cousins, which was an absolute joy. I even got to a Southern California beach for the first time ever. Madalyn did her usual basketball camp there that she loves, Johnny spent four days with his good pal, and we got up north a few times to see our friend Drew and his band play.
  10. We got back from California around August 7th, and on September 20th I turned around and went back out there again, this time by myself. It was only the second time since Madalyn was born that I’d gone out there without kids along. I had a fantastic, relaxing time. I was there on my birthday, and my mom and I went to a nice luncheon at an avocado farm on top of a mountain looking out at Morro Bay. That night, two of my longtime friends and former classmates and I went to our alma mater’s football game. It was the first time in ages I’d done anything for my birthday and it was quite special.
  11. As if that’s not enough California, we are slated to go there again for Christmas. It’s not entirely locked up yet but it seems that we will be able to make it happen.
  12. My resolve to remain pet-free lasted just over a year. We are now the owners of a new kitten. Her name is Hazza BooBear, and she is evil incarnate. Satan in a fur coat. Spawned in the fires of hell, etc. etc. I’m hoping she will grow out of it but, realistically, I expect we’ll be calling the My Cat From Hell guy sometime next year. She’s cute, though, and, by god, I missed having a cat around the place.

So there’s the rundown. Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, it won’t be another six months before my next post.

The parenting horrors just never cease

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Just when I have gotten used to the idea of myself as a mother of young children, and I feel like I’ve gotten a handle on how to handle the various ages and stages, I find myself having a text conversation like this with my oldest child and I’m left wondering, “Who am I? How did I get here? Is this really my life?”


I don’t know what to be more disturbed about: the fact that my 7th-grader and I like the same guy and she wants to fight me for him, or the fact that she tried to give me some kid I could’ve given birth to, myself, in exchange.

Why I Buy Gymboree

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Hi, my name is Mary, and I’m a Gymboree addict.

If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know this already. I’m not crazed, but I am enough of a devotee that people think of me when they get a discount code, or when they need help identifying a line of clothing. After Madalyn was born I went in the store a few times, adored the clothes, and was horrified by the prices. I resisted for a few years but, somehow, when Madalyn was about 2.5, it got to me and I caved. I can still remember the first good-sized batch of Gymboree clothes she had, and tell you the lines all the pieces came from. I have been shopping there ever since. Madalyn was about 7 when she outgrew their clothing, because she was so big for her age, but I can still shop there for Johnny, and Eliza, who’s average-sized, still has a good seven years left before she leaves Gymbo sizes behind.

Many people take one look at Gymboree prices and run, screaming…or look down their noses at me for paying so much. I try to explain that I rarely pay full price for anything from there. I wait until it goes 20% off or more. I also collect and use GymBucks ($25 off of every $50). I also buy pieces from former lines on eBay. The prices are probably still higher than a lot of people would pay for second-hand clothing but it’s still not sticker price. (I also buy “new with tags” items and end up paying less than the original asking price.)

There is a method to my madness, however. It’s not just that I am in love with Gymboree’s designs. Certainly I am….with some of them. People might be surprised to know I don’t love everything Gymboree does. There are entire lines that leave me cold. At any rate, it’s not just aesthetics that spurs me to spend the money on this brand. Also factoring into the decision is the fact that, quite simply, Gymboree is consistently some of the most well-made children’s clothing you can buy. It’s sturdy and made with quality materials. With two girls, do you have any inkling of how many shirts, dresses, skirts and pairs of pants I’ve bought from Gymboree over the years that had either sequins or rhinestone detailing on them? Know how many of those pieces have ever lost any of said embellishments? None, that I’ve ever seen. Meanwhile, every shirt we’ve ever bought from anywhere else that had sparklies on it had lost half of them before the season was over.

Over the past year or so I’ve been making liberal use of a website called Zulily. Rather than selling their own brand of merchandise, Zulily makes deals with manufacturers and designers to sell a specific quantity of items at (an alleged) considerable discount. They really do have low prices on some items that are very cute. The problem is that, once you get them home, you find out that many of the items are very poorly made. The manufacturers are claiming normal resale prices that rival Gymboree’s, and yet the quality seems to be on the level of Walmart, or Target, if you’re lucky. And it’s not, as I said, just one company’s products. I have ordered things from Zulily from countless different manufacturers and I run into this problem with a lot of them.

But don’t just take my word for it. I have photographic evidence. All of the following photographs are of items I have bought at “deep discount” from Zulily. (Note: Feel free to click on any of the photos to see the details up close.)

First, one of the ruffles on the front came unstitched, so my mom fixed it. Then the strap came loose.

Legwarmer that came with a dance outfit. The first time she wore it to dance she came home missing the giant black bow that was where that black ribbon loop is. We couldn’t find it so my mom had to make new bows for *both* legwarmers and sew them on properly.

This shoe had a faux button. The strap was actually attached with a flimsy metal brad that was inserted into the shoe and bent. She wore them maybe three times before it came apart. I ended up using Gorilla Glue to put it back together (and ruined a favorite shirt because the glue squirted on me, damn it).

These sandals were so cute when they were new. See all those black spots on the beading? Those were all silver when we first got them.

Sandals again. She only wore these for one summer, and they were not, by any means, her only pair of shoes, so it’s not as though she wore them all day, every day.

A new item – she tried to put this on the day after we got it and the three threads holding the strap immediately broke before she even had it entirely on her body.

What you see above is just a sampling of the issues I’ve had. There have been many other incidences of cheap materials, cheap manufacturing, stuff falling apart, material fading awfully and/or getting holes in it after only a few washings, and the elastic inside waistbands rolling over (this happens a LOT). Now, to be fair, I should point out that I order from Zulily frequently, and there have been things that I haven’t had a bit of trouble with. Also worth pointing out is that this is not Zulily’s fault, personally. I don’t have a problem with them. They are not responsible for the manufacturing. Indeed, my point is that this has happened with so many different brands that it appears to be the standard rather than just a few bad apples.

For a bit of contrast, allow me to submit two more pictures.

This is a Gymboree dress. Look closely and you will see no fading and no pilling of the fabric. The ruffle around the neckline and the bows at the waist are firmly attached and the stitching around the wrists is perfect.

And now for the kicker:

Please note the copyright date on the line second from the bottom. It’s 2002. This is a 10-year-old dress. I got it on eBay. We are not its first owners. Hell, we may not be its second owners. The thing is ten years old and it’s basically pristine.

 If you’re still saying, “So what? They’re kids’ clothes…they can only wear them for a little while. Who needs them to last ten years?” I would ask you — what do you do with cheaper kids’ clothes when they are worn out and falling apart? Dump them at a thrift store? Throw them away? I’ll tell you what people do with Gymboree clothes — they resell them. I can buy these clothes, send my kids out looking adorable, and then sell the clothes to someone else and get part of my money back…maybe even enough that I end up, in the long run, not having paid any more for the outfit than I would’ve at Old Navy or The Children’s Place. They also make great hand-me-downs. I have tons of Madalyn’s old Gymboree socked away in sizes all the way up to 12, just waiting for Eliza to grow into them — which will save me money as the years go on. If you take a $40 outfit and use it for two different kids, then you are really only paying $20 apiece for the thing. It’s even hard to get a (nice) shirt and pants at Walmart for under that, anymore.

So you see, my friends, that it’s not about wretched excess or fancy brand names. Gymboree clothing, frankly, is just better. It’s better quality and longer-lasting. I would rather my kids have a small wardrobe of really cute, sharp-looking outfits that someone else can use after us than a closet full of cheap things they can only wear three times. I strayed away a little last year. Got sucked in by the hype of huge discounts and thought, “Why do I need to go to Gymboree when I have these other options?” But I’ve learned my lesson. I’ve seen the light. I’ve found my way back to the church of Gymboree, glory, hallelujah.

A Day (or three) in the Life

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I never knew what busy was until I started school full time.

I thought taking care of the kids was a full time job. And it is…when they are actually home full time. After they’ve all started school and are gone most of the day, five days a week? I’m going to go out on a limb here and risk alienating my stay-at-home mommy friends by saying no. No, it’s no longer a full-time job. If you are not working and your kids are gone from 8:30 until 3:00 every day? You have time to get stuff done. Lots of stuff. I mean no disrespect; I was one of those moms. I had long stretches of time – years – when my children were gone all day at least a few days a week and I stayed home. There’s no shame in it and my purpose is not to invalidate. I’m merely pointing out, for contrast, that there is a huge difference between being on your own schedule and having entire days free to do what you want or what you need to do, and being at the mercy of a school (or work) schedule and having a narrow window of time in which to accomplish tasks.

Being in school and taking care of the kids would be a lot in a normal situation, but, as you know, I only have a husband/second pair of hands two days a week (occasionally three). This means I’m not only trying to do all these things, I’m handling them alone. I’m not trying to do everything because I’m a control freak or because I feel invaluable if I don’t. I simply have no choice. Not only that, but my going back to school seems to have coincided with the kids starting to do more in the way of activities…or, rather, staring to do more involved activities. We’ve tried to keep it simple. One activity per kid. That’s not too much, right? We have no interest in overscheduled children. However, when I’m doing all the drop-offs and pickups myself, and Madalyn has track practice ending when Eliza’s dance class begins, I have to be in class right after that and I’m trying to figure out how to feed us all in the one free 30-minute window I have — it’s a lot. Forget the kids. They aren’t overscheduled. Mom is overscheduled.

Anyway, my point is I never understood people who, for example, used to be online a lot and then disappeared for a while, claiming they were so busy they couldn’t even pop in for ten minutes to say hi. I didn’t get how someone could not have five minutes to return a phone call, or why they couldn’t manage to drop by a post office to mail something they said they were sending me. I didn’t understand…until now. I don’t call people. Of course, I didn’t before, but that’s because I didn’t want to. Now it’s because that takes time and attention I don’t have. Non-essential errands are way down on the priority list. And sometimes I don’t get online for the first time until the kids have gone to bed. I, who used to be online every couple of hours, all day long! Half the time I truly don’t have the time to do it. The other half of the time I could snatch 20 minutes here and there…but there’s a list as long as my leg of other stuff that also needs to be done, and I have to prioritize. Sometimes I have no choice but to go the responsible route because I know that, if I don’t, I’ll regret it later. If it’s not going to cause me a problem later, well, then, heck yes, I’ll let it slide and check in with my friends. But it’s basically a triage situation, here. Whatever is most urgent goes to the head of the list and the other stuff falls in line behind.

Now, let me clarify: I don’t mean this to complain. This is not a self-pitying post. I feel I must specify this because there is a faction of people online who, apparently, persist in believing I am miserably unhappy with my life. (I’m still trying to figure out what gives them that idea. Yes, I have my mood swings and the tone of my posts in various forums can be affected by that. But I’m pretty sure for every mad/sad/crappy thing I post, I post an equal or greater number of funny or silly or even-tempered things. So, WTF?) To be clear: not whining. I’m stating fact. This is my reality. I chose it, and I’m happy I did. I like school. I like my family. I like people who mind their own damned business. Er, thank you for your concern.

That said, I would like, for no other reason than my own amusement, to type out my schedule for the next three days. It is rather making my head spin…or would be, if I’d let myself think about it as a whole. I’m not, though. The way I deal with it is this: head down, full speed ahead, one task at a time. Tunnel vision. It helps, really. A year ago, if I’d had three days in a row like this, I’d likely have had a nervous breakdown.

Tuesday – Eliza’s Birthday

7:00 – Wake up, get Mad in the shower, fix breakfast, pack lunches. Mad out of shower, I go in. Let Eliza open one birthday present to take to school as show and tell. Take some pictures. Try not to feel badly about not making a bigger deal out of the day for her.

7:55 – Take Madalyn to school

8:15 – Take Johnny and Eliza to school

8:35 – Back home. Fix hair, get dressed.

9:30 – First class

11:00 – Second class

11:15-11:20 (we hope) – Second class wraps up early. Drive across town to pick up cupcakes. Drive back across town to preschool, deliver cupcakes, take some pictures, and beat it back to university

12:30-1:45 – Third class

1:45-2:50 – Free time. Enjoy it. Will be the last for the rest of the day. Intend to take a power nap or get online, but will probably actually end up doing laundry or something I feel I “should” be doing.

2:50-3:00 – Pick up Eliza + leftover cupcakes. Go straight to Johnny’s school to wait in line because thirty minutes isn’t enough time to bother going home.

3:30 – Get Johnny. Drive home. Spend next hour supervising homework, shooing Eliza away from her birthday presents, and nagging people to pick stuff up.

4:30 – Pick Madalyn up early from track practice so we can go to Eliza’s birthday dinner.

5:30-5:45 (hopefully) – Return from birthday dinner. Eliza opens presents. Pictures! More nagging people to clean up things.

6:30 – Back to school, 4th class

7:45 – Return home just in time to shuttle the younger kids off to bed. If they are on top of things they will have showered while I was gone. Otherwise, spend several minutes shrieking at them to “hurry up and get in there.”

8:00(ish) – Younger kids to bed

8:30 – Madalyn to bed. Maybe I can sit down here.

Next!

Wednesday – Alleged “day off”

Wednesday is parent-teacher conference day in our district. Thus, my public school kids have the day off. Preschool child does not. I was looking forward to this, as I thought Mad, Johnny and I could hang out, maybe watch a movie, etc. However. I have a dermatologist’s appointment at 10:30. Also, Johnny’s teacher has scheduled me for a conference at 10:15, which I will have to move (can’t really move the derm., as it takes a month or more to get in there). So at some point I will go to Johnny’s school for his conference. After that I will go to Madalyn’s school for her conferences. It is “first come, first served” for her grade, so I could, potentially, have a bit of a wait if there are people ahead of me. Additionally, she has a different teacher for every hour so I have a lot of people to see. Then I will pick up Eliza at 3:00, come home and likely immediately start on dinner, which takes most of the evening. Day off? Not so much.

Thursday – Is it Friday yet?

7:00 – Wake up. All the same bullshit as Tuesday at 7:00, except for the part about presents. Thank God.

Take kids to school.

9:30-10:45 – First class.

11:00-11:20 or so – Second class (God bless indolent professors).

11:20-12:30 – Ding ding ding! Free time! Go take a nap, dummy!

12:30-1:45 – Third class.

1:50-2:50 – Meet my friend to work out.

2:50-3:30 – Picking up younger kids. Go home, immediately begin preparing to leave again.

4:50 – Drop Johnny off at guitar.

5:00 – Drop Eliza off at dance. Madalyn also gets out of track practice right now. May have to send her uncle to pick her up.

5:30 – Pick Johnny up from guitar.

5:45 – Pick Eliza up from dance.

5:50 – Home, and I guess this is when everyone finally gets to eat, but I’m sure as hell not cooking, because…

6:30-7:45 – Fourth class.

7:50 – Return home, and thank my lucky stars that it’s now my weekend.

Right now the only thing I have scheduled for Friday is taking Eliza out somewhere to spend her birthday money. I’m sure she will wheedle lunch out of me, too. That’s the kind of activity level I can handle.

If nothing else, all this will make me truly and deeply appreciate summer break!

The future’s so bright…

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I received a long-backordered Christmas present today: new shades.

Here is the case they came with:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s the front view with the cleaning cloth that was included:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A little sparkle:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hidden detail–design on the inside of the frame.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not only all of that but they came with a little bag of microscopic replacement jewels in case any fall out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love!

Fairly painless, except….

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Two thoughts about tonight’s Grammys:

1) Maroon 5 loses out to Amy Winehouse & Tony Bennett. Seriously? Okay, they only had the biggest song of the ENTIRE YEAR, but give the award to the dead lady because you feel bad and it’s the only thing she was nominated for. Up yours, Grammy voters. It’s not just that my boys lost; I don’t condone pity awards.

2) Jesse Carmichael, Maroon 5’s piano/keyboard player (and my other favorite, alongside Adam) was not with the band tonight. This has caused GREAT consternation amongst “Marooners” on Twitter, along with wild speculation. Normally I wouldn’t pay much attention to unsubstantiated theories but it is really weird that he wasn’t there to perform. If they’d merely been attending as nominees, maybe not such a big deal. But not playing with the band? Plus he hasn’t tweeted in two days. It’s a bit unsettling. I hope we hear from him soon. Jesse is a wonderful guy, insanely talented, extremely chill, with a lovely soul. He’s a darling and I don’t want to think of seeing Maroon 5 again without him.

That old, familiar feeling

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A little while ago I was struck, quite out of the blue, by the thought: “I can’t wait until summer!” This is a feeling that is normal for me around this time of year – now that the kids are in school, anyway – and yet it’s never inspired, as one might assume, by any aggravation with the weather. It’s going to sound shallow, but those who know me well will probably not be surprised to hear what triggered it.

Gymboree.

Last night I bought a Gymboree outfit on eBay, for Eliza. It’s an outfit that Madalyn had when she was about this age. This afternoon, as I paid for the outfit, I imagined Eliza wearing it and that’s when I was seized by a longing for summer.

It’s not just the clothing that has me eager for May (when our summer starts). It’s, well, everything. It goes without saying that I can’t wait to spend half the summer in California. We have all sorts of fun plans already, not to mention just hanging around with our friends and family. So of course that aspect is a big draw. We’ve only been back three weeks but it seems like three months, and I dreadfully miss my California people.

We will also try to have some fun in the time we have in Oklahoma, too. If I have my way we will be off to California early (beginning of June) and will, therefore, be back in the Sooner Nation by mid-July, giving us a month at home before school starts. Unfortunately it will be too bloody hot for my taste to do much in the way of outdoor activities, but I’m all for anything that has air conditioning. My hope is, after we recuperate from our trip, that the kids and I will be able to do some activities around the state before succumbing to the infernal and inevitable clutches of the gulag that is the Oklahoma public school system. I digress; however, it brings me to another point: I can’t wait to spend three straight months with my kids. As time inexorably marches on the amount of time I have left with them dwindles. Time goes by so quickly anymore, and Madalyn is 10 already. Honestly, how many more summers do I have with her where she will gladly go wherever I want her to go? Will she eventually reach an age where she has activities during the summer for which she’ll want to stay home? Or, worse, where she just plain doesn’t want to go spend six weeks crammed into her grandparents’ tiny house with 5-6 other people? I don’t know. I hope not. After all, I always liked traveling with my parents, even through my teenage years. And Madalyn does have friends in California to coax her to visit – though being that the majority of them are boys, I do also wonder if those friendships will persist as their interests diverge. Any road, my point in all this is that summer is a beacon of light in the year, for me. It’s family time. It’s US time.

Oh, and the one reason I’m not looking forward to summer? WEATHER. Summer can take its 98-degree days and 100% humidity and stuff it. All I need is “warm enough to go to the beach” – which, in our book, is anything above 68. No, summer weather and I are not friends. But I’m willing to forgive her the ungodly conditions if it means Cali and my babies and fun.

And all of this because of a Gymboree outfit.