Liebster Award

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I am so excited to announce that Mama Tries Blog has been nominated for a Liebster Award!  The Liebster Award is given by the blogging community to recognize and support new bloggers. I am so honored that Heather Marie at Life, Love, and Lasagna nominated me!  Her blog is amazing and we have some seriously uncanny similarities – like items 1, 2, 5, 7, 10, and 11 of the “11 Random Facts About Me” section of her Liebster Award post.

The rules of the award are:

  • Thank the blog that nominated you and link back to them
  • Answer 11 questions from the blogger that nominated you
  • Tell readers 11 random facts about yourself
  • Nominate up to 11 bloggers to receive the award next
  • Give your new nominees questions to answer about themselves when they post their nomination

 

My Q&A with Heather Marie

Who is your favorite fictional character, and why?

It’s a tie and I named my children after them.  My older daughter is named after Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice and my younger daughter is named after Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird. I tend to keep that information to myself for fear that people will think it’s either pretentious or cliche.

What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned since starting your blog?

Self-promotion gives me a serious case of the sweats.  I am terrified of coming off as pushy or arrogant and I basically need a shot of tequila every time I post a link to my website somewhere.

What is your favorite way to spend a Saturday?

Cuddling on the couch with my girls, cup of Earl Grey in hand, while my husband makes waffles.  We lounge for a while, we stroll around the neighborhood, eventually making our way to a playground, and have a picnic lunch.  I go for a run while they relax back at home. That evening, my husband and I have a babysitter and go out for dinner and cocktails.

What are your pet peeves?

People who talk during adult movies.  I have a visceral reaction to people chattering at the movie theater and become consumed with a body-encompassing rage.  On the other hand, I can’t tolerate people who expect quiet at children’s movies.  If you came to a matinee showing of Cinderella, don’t give my two-year-old a dirty look when she squeals over the blue dress!

If you were a superhero, what superpower would you have?

The power to never have to sleep would be nice.  Imagine what I could get done!  Like, maybe my children would have clean, matching socks to wear to school!

What prompted you to start a blog?

I went to college to be a journalist, but ultimately changed career paths.  I then spent years thinking “someday” writing would become a hobby again, but I never felt like there was any time.  When my husband was away for three weeks this winter, my evenings were pretty darn free, so I figured if I didn’t try then, that I never would.

What’s your favorite holiday, and why?

This is like asking me which child I love more – I need to choose two!

Halloween: We get super into Halloween at our house.  We love dressing up, and have gone with a theme for the last two years.  Below is a pic from a few years ago when we did Peter Pan.  Head over to this post to see us as KISS. We have an amazing neighborhood for trick or treating – the streets are teeming with packs of kids and the flow is so constant that there’s no point in closing your door.  Every year, my husband and his friends set up a fog machine and scare trick or treaters with a Halloween prank that involves a rubber elk head.  My children are visions of sheer joy for the entire day, and the moms and dads are having just as much fun. It’s totally worth the sugar hangover my children have the next day.

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Christmas Eve: My family is Italian, so we have the 7 Fishes dinner, which is my favorite meal on the planet.  Anchovy sauce might sounds gross to someone who has never had it, but it is pure salty heaven.  The kids love to be with their cousins, and, rather than being about presents, the whole holiday is about being with family.  It also doesn’t hurt that I am the youngest of the entire family, so no one expects anything at all from me – which means, while everyone else attending has slaved in the kitchen all day, all I’ve done is cut up vegetables for a crudites platter.

Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life?

Sofia Vergara automatically comes to mind, but just because of our obvious physical similarities.  You don’t see it?  No?  Okay, how about Tina Fey?  I think she’s beyond brilliant and hilarious, and who wouldn’t want one of their idols to play them on the big screen?

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Pasta.  I basically eat it everyday anyway, so it wouldn’t take much getting used to.  The concept of gluten intolerance is the stuff of nightmares for me.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of love?

Childbirth.

If you had a warning label, what would yours say?

Do not wake before dawn.


 

11 Random Facts about Me

1.) When trying to put this list together and I asked my husband what a funny thing about me was, he replied with, “Your face.”  And that is why we are married.

2.) Finding out there is no milk for my morning tea basically destroys me for the rest of the day.

3.) My husband drove me home from school once when I was a sophomore and he was a senior in high school – and I didn’t say a word the entire ride.  Because boys.

4.) I don’t know what I’d do without my high school girlfriends and college girlfriends, who are still my best friends. We would do anything for one another, and being with them feeds my soul.

5.) My college friends and I had nicknames for everyone. Sometimes they were benign, but some we will have to take to the grave.  Panty Stealer and Eh Ladies are two of my personal favorites.

6.) While I love quality literature and believe Jay McInerney’s books changed my life, I also can’t get enough of teen romance novels.  Similarly, I love BBC shows (If you haven’t watched Peaky Blinders or Orphan Black yet, you must!), but, God help me, I love Degrassi!

7.) My brother is the funniest person I know and if he ever does a guest blog on here (consider this your invitation), no one will ever want me to write again.

8.) I lived in Dublin for three months, didn’t have a job, traveled throughout the country and other parts of Europe, and paid for my exorbitant rent by taking out cash advances from my credit card.  I came home $10,000 in debt and it was worth every penny.

9.) There are not enough words in the world to express how much I love my children, so I will just share a favorite thing about each of my girls.When my younger daughter gets excited, her voice becomes so high pitched that only dogs can hear it.  When she gets mad, she acquires a Boston accent, which makes us laugh, causing her to get even more upset.  My older daughter has the most expressive face and I often wonder if she will grow up to be a comedy genius.  Plus, even though most of her jokes are about tushies, they’re always pretty darn funny.

10.) I have been a lifelong sufferer of Resting Bitch Face, which has resulted in an exorbitant number of random people on the street telling me to smile.  A high school friend actually tried to give me lessons in smiling at strangers before we left for college.  When this affliction actually became a thing – with a name –  a few years ago, I was full of joy.  Not that anyone would have known…

11.) My mom never spanked me and only yelled at me about three times ever, yet I rarely misbehaved because I was terrified of disappointing her.  Now that I am a mother, I want to know what kind of witchcraft she used to do this because my kids could care less about upsetting me.

 

Below is the bloggers I have nominated.  They are all so different from one another, but all fantastic.  These women have written blogs that will inspire  you to laugh, cry, think, and, most of all, feel grateful and empowered to be a woman in this world.

Feisty Pants

Chic and Modish

Sass and Shamrocks

Suburban Imperfection

Third Shift Living

Making Miracles

Questions for My Fellow Bloggers

1.) What city that you have visited is your favorite?

2.) If you could visit any city in the world that you have not yet visited, where would you go?

3.) What’s your favorite word?

4.) If you could live inside any movie or book, which would you choose?

5.) What is your favorite thing about blogging?

6.) What’s your favorite smell?

7.) What accomplishment are you most proud of?

8.) What is your most embarrassing moment (that you are willing to admit)?

9.) What is your drink of choice?

10.) What is your favorite season?

11.) What song always makes you happy when your hear it?

 

Congratulations to the nominees!  I can’t wait to read your answers. Make sure you check out the blogs of your fabulous fellow nominees!

Gobsmacked

Last Wednesday, my blog received 14 views and I basically considered myself David Sedaris.  Today, 317 people from six different countries have clicked on Mama Tries Blog.  I realize that this is small potatoes in the world of blogging, but it has left me at a loss for words.  And since a loss for words is pretty much the kiss of death for a writer, thanks a lot for your support everyone, you’ve just ruined my writing career before it even started.  

This might be a good time to put out there that I am basically inept at expressing any serious emotion without a hefty dose of sarcasm and snark added in.  So, in all sincerity, putting this blog out there was one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done.  Sharing it on Facebook, where I am not anonymous, resulted in a day full of nausea and cold sweats, and I will be forever grateful for all of the amazingly supportive feedback and love I have received.  I’ve always longed for a genuine reason to use the word gobsmacked, and today my dreams have become a reality.  I am positively gobsmacked.

 
Now, my love finally arrives home in about an hour.  I planned to make this house shine for him upon his return, but I don’t want him to think I went changin’ on him.  Instead, I shall do my best to make these last 60 minutes as productive as possible.  And by productive, I mean fix a cocktail and watch Vanderpump Rules sans snide commentary.  

Of Victims and Victimizers

There’s a mean girl in my daughter’s class.  She’s super cute, wears great clothes, and alienates my daughter.  Oh – and she’s in kindergarten.

As a mother of two daughters, I expected – no I dreaded – that this day would come.  The day one of my girls came home dejected because another girl, for no apparent reason, decided that, not only would she not be friends with my daughter, but that others should not be either.  This is why I have already begun to create a stockpile of liquor that I thought I would be delving into in six years when they enter middle school.  Apparently, I’ll be dipping into it a lot sooner than I expected, as well figuring out how to get my hands on some Xanax.  

As much as it pains my heart to think about anyone not treating my child with kindness, I am realistic enough to know that not everyone in the world can be as charming as my family and I.  There are jerks in the world, even in kindergarten.  I knew school would bring arguments over line budging and squabbles over crayons.  I knew there would be kids my daughter didn’t quite connect with and vice versa.  What I did not expect was the sneaky, calculated moves that I thought only came from a seasoned mean girl.

I had a bad feeling about this girl from the first day I met her.  Let’s call her Mean Girl (I’m nothing if not creative).  It was the Friday after the first week of school, and our family was attending a lovely community event. It made my heart burst with joy to see my spunky, hilarious, beautiful daughter beam and wave when she saw new friends.   When she saw Mean Girl, she excitedly approached her and Mean Girl acted like she had no. idea. who. my. daughter. was.  My daughter, nonplussed, attempted to convince her that they attended the same school, in the same grade, and were, as a matter of fact, in the same class.  That’s when Mean Girl actually pulled an “I’ve never seen you before.”  I’ve never seen you before?  That’s some A-level bitch burn right there!  Any other eavesdropper could have thought the entire exchange was an innocuous, perhaps even charming conversation between two innocent, naive little kindergartners, still getting their feet wet at the big school.  Call it mother’s intuition, call it being well-versed in the language of bitch, but I was not so fooled.  

I kept my mouth shut and hoped that I was wrong.  I wasn’t.  As predicted, my daughter started coming home and telling me about a girl who wasn’t very nice.  At first she could not qualify this with any further detail, but eventually the details came.  “Mean Girl doesn’t talk to me.” “Mean Girl was so rude today.”  “Mean Girl would only talk to so-and-so today.” “Mean Girl told so-and-so that I was gross.”  We were at a school event and my daughter was happily playing with a classmate.  Mean Girl showed up and neither she, nor the classmate, said boo to my daughter for the rest of the evening.  Tonight during dinner, my daughter told me that, at recess today, Mean Girl would not let my daughter play with her and her friends.  

I wanted to cry at the dinner table.  I also wanted to drive to Mean Girl’s house and burn it to the ground.  Mama Bear instincts came out in full force and I wanted this girl destroyed.  Did I mention she’s five?  What the hell is wrong with me?  Why was Mean Girl causing me to feel such an intense, fiery rage?   Why is Mean Girl trying to destroy my daughter’s life?

Because, as a mean girl, that’s the power she has.  When I reflect on my own life, I can recall countless times when I held my true self back for fear of what a mean girl would say.  In middle school, I remember proudly sporting a dress, that I had picked out and bought myself, as a shirt.  I had channeled my inner Blossom and I felt my tucking skills were chic and trendsetting and I felt fabulous as I helped pass back papers in Social Studies class.  Then a mean girl, her voice dripping with sarcasm, announced, “I love your shirt,” as her gaggle of followers laughed.  I never wore it again.

What is perhaps worse, is that I longed for this wretched girl to like me.  Worse still,  I got my wish, and she became one of my “best friends” a year later.  Now the cutting down of me was constant, always said with a laugh, or followed with a “I’m just joking!”  It wasn’t long until my own inner mean girl started to rear her ugly head.  Was it a matter of survival?  Did I feel like this was the only way to keep any sort of social status?  Did I need someone else to be the victim, lest I return to that role?  Was I so insecure that I needed to belittle others in order to make myself seem more important?  Or was this simply some sort of tween rite of passage?  Looking back, I can’t pinpoint just one particular reason as to why a year of my life was spent making snide remarks to other girls or feeling powerful as a member of a gaggle of girls who laughed at someone else.  I do know that, at thirteen, this reprehensible behavior had a bizarre allure.  There was an intoxicating power that came with intimidation and it gave me, a girl desperate to find myself, some sort of identity.

And so I panic with my own daughter, who loves to sing songs she’s made up herself.  Who loves to pick out her own outfits and does not like to brush her hair. Who could care less that she has yogurt all over her face because she is too busy creating a colorful art project.  Because I know these glorious days when her happiness is determined, not by the crowd, but by herself, are fleeting.  I know that there will come a day when she spends far too long scrutinizing herself in the mirror.  A day when her feelings will be affected more by how she’s perceived by others than by simply following her heart.  A day when she has to decide whether to be the victim or the victimizer.  A day that I did not expect to come so soon.  

But that’s the thing. Has the day actually come?  Yes, my daughter reports these incidents to me, but she does it so casually.  In fact, there’s almost a sense of bewilderment when I ask her what Mean Girl does after she’s rejected my daughter’s offer to play.  My daughter shakes her head, puzzled, and replies, “She doesn’t do anything.  She and [her friend] just stand around.  It’s so weird!”   It doesn’t quite seem to bother her.  That night at the school event, after Mean Girl ushered away my daughter’s playmate, my daughter went and danced her heart out, squealing and giggling with another group of kids.  

Could she truly not care?  Could I really have a five-year-old who is so confident and self-assured that a mean girl leaves her unfazed?  Or, perhaps, at five-years-old, she’s just completely unaware that these girls are a potential problem.  Realistically, that is the case.  Which is all well and good if I lived a life of realism, rather than lunacy.  So I just can’t leave it at that.  All worst case scenarios must be contemplated.  What if Mean Girl is making my daughter feel so alienated and uncertain of herself that she feels ashamed to express her true feelings to me?   Why is Mean Girl destroying MY life??

Because that’s the other thing.  Do I despise Mean Girl only because of how I think she may make my daughter feel somewhere down the road?  Or do I resent the fact that she is a stark reminder that it is up to me to show my children how to navigate this world, when I can hardly navigate it myself?  Mean Girl brought me to one of those horrific parenting moments when you fear the absolute worst – – that you are ruining your child’s entire life with one conversation.  Do I tell my daughter to just keep her distance from Mean Girl?  Or is that teaching her to be a timid pushover?  Do I tell her that the next time Mean Girl announces that my daughter cannot play with the group that my daughter should rally the others and says, “You are rude (the kindergarten equivalent of “bitch”), so I don’t want to play with YOU!”  Or is that just seasoning my daughter for a takeover as future class mean girl?  Mean Girl is causing me to have an existential crisis.  The question loomed: would I rather have my child be a victim or a victimizer?

I went with both.  I told my daughter that she should stay away from Mean Girl, and if Mean Girl ever said something nasty to her again, she should tell her that she is being rude.  And then my daughter, just as casually as she’d told me about Mean Girl on the playground today, asked me, “What if Mean Girl turns herself around?  Can I play with her then?”  A punch to my gut.  These girls are five.  “Mommy, maybe she’s nice and she just doesn’t realize that she’s being rude.”  These girls are five.  Mean Girl is five.  I am… older.  I am crazy.  Most importantly, my sweet, sweet daughter’s words helped me realize that, at least right now, she is neither victim nor victimizer.  

Because she doesn’t see herself as either.  She sees the good in people.  She sees the good in herself.  

That little jerk is such a better person than I am.  God I hope I don’t ruin her life.   

Clutter, Crumbs, and Company

Am I the only one who occasionally fantasizes that a girlfriend will randomly stop by with a bottle of wine for an impromptu night full of gossip after the kids go to bed, but then looks around the mess that is my house and becomes terrified that an unannounced visitor will only result in a wellness visit from CPS?  Just me?  No, okay, that’s cool.  

Seriously though.  How do people keep their homes clean?  Do you want to know how many times I’ve vacuumed this week alone?  Four.  Four times.  The same rooms.  Below is a photo of the floor in our dining room, less than 24 hours after I last vacuumed.  How does this happen?  Do my children carry breadcrumbs in their pockets?  Are they intentionally messing with me?  Where do all these bits come from??

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The most offensive marauder in this home, however, is the “stuff” that has taken over each room.  It comes in many forms and it’s everywhere.  A glance across the room reveals a table with a brush, doll clothing, and Christmas cards scattered atop it.  Note in the photo below that the ottoman is supporting, not my feet, but two drawing pads, five picture books, half a crayon, an empty iPhone 6 case, a flashlight, and a neatly folded dish towel.  Missing from the ottoman is the television remote that has not been seen in weeks.

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Why aren’t these things in their home?  Mostly because they don’t have one.  What do you do with extra Christmas cards?  Surely you don’t just throw them out.  They have my family’s photos on them!  And half a crayon?  I could mix that half together with all the other crayon bits scattered throughout my house and melt them all down in silicone molds shaped like hearts.  I could.  I saw it on Pinterest.

We are constantly warned not to compare our ordinary to other people’s “highlight reels” on social media, but I constantly find myself scouring through other people’s photos and finding that I don’t measure up in the tidiness department.  Yeah, yeah, your kids are cute and you looked lovely on that date night with your husband, but the clutter-free living room I’m seeing in the background is making me feel seriously inadequate.  Where are these people putting the 75 pages of schoolwork that comes home everyday?  Why can they see their entire dining room table?  Where are the wayward pieces of stale crusts on the floor?  Where is all of their stuff??

Perhaps it was serendipitous that today I stumbled upon the “40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge.” It seems as though the challenge has not yet been updated for the New Year, but the whole plan can be used at any time.  The concept is that you focus on one small area each day to declutter, filling a bag with items to donate, sell, etc.  Not only can this program help me declutter my house, but it can also provide me with the opportunity to teach my children about selflessness and philanthropy as we decide together which of their older toys to donate.  Just kidding – I’m doing this after bedtime.  Hit the hay kids, ‘cause Mama’s gonna be drinkin’ some wine and throwing away your shit!  

Then, maybe, just maybe, 40 days from now, my house will be Facebook-ready.  Hell, I’ll even call CPS myself so that they can see that the only clutter in this house is empty wine bottles on the counter left there by friends I happily invited in after they dropped by.  Wait…

When the Cat’s Away

It can get lonely when your spouse is away.  I miss my husband, and it’s not just because I have to take on his daddy duties while he’s gone.  Most of all, I just miss spending time with him.  So, to fill the void, I have devised a three-step plan to jazz up my days and nights while he is away.

  1. Make the bed each morning.

I have the pleasure of leaving for work before anyone else in my household is even awake.  This gives me the perfect excuse for not making the bed in the morning, and conveniently allows me to place all blame for rumpled sheets on my husband.  I have, however, in my advanced age, come to admit that tidiness does wonders for my tendencies toward low-grade anxiety.  And no tidying task is easier than making the bed.  I can almost picture all of the piles of crap I can now sort on my freshly made sheets.  

  1. Read, Write, and Run

Not only are they alliterative, they’re also the three non-human loves of my life.  Escapism, exhilaration, confidence, and fear are provided by each in healthy doses and in their own unique way.  A big plus – not only do I enjoy doing all of these things, but, unlike my love of guzzling booze* and pretending not to know who Kylie Jenner is, they are actually good for me!   So why do I have to schedule them like they’re a pap smear?  Because kids.  And even though 90% of parenting consists of picking up crumbs and reminding kids to pee in the potty, it’s time consuming.  Once the kids are in bed, you want to, you know, hang with your spouse.  And while reading, writing, and running are good things to talk about,  it’s pretty hard to talk while you’re doing them.  So, while I am fairly successful at fitting one of those activities in most nights, a spouseless house will mean I have time for all three.  Right?  A spouseless house doesn’t mean hours more work, right?  Right??

  1. Most importantly: Watch whatever the hell I want.  

My husband’s been gone for two nights.  Night number one was filled with two straight hours of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.  Night number two introduced me to the wonder that is Michael Fassbender as Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre (which may or may not have been followed up with an exhaustive Internet search of his entire career, childhood, and genealogy – he’s German/Irish by the way).  Tomorrow, shall it be Anna Karenina or Serendipity?  The only thing I know for sure is that the “Romance” category of Netflix is officially my bitch for the next three weeks, and Lockdown: New Mexico is on hiatus.

I don’t know about you, but after reviewing this list, I’m somewhat convinced that I’m going to tell my husband to hit the road again upon his arrival home.  Although, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that, while I have, to date,  been successful in completing all the above goals, I have also been staying up past midnight in order to do so.   So, perhaps it will be my husband who chooses to hit the wrong again once he takes a look at his red-eyed, haggard wife.

*Any and all references to alcohol consumption in this blog are greatly exaggerated, Mom.

Shallow Saints

There is a certain smugness that comes along with your husband leaving for a three-week European music tour.

 The kind of smugness that results from countless “You’re a saint” and “I don’t know how you do its” thrown your way.  You shrug them off demurely with a lot of “Oh, it’s nothings,” but what you really want to say is, “You’re damn right I’m an effing saint.  Especially if a requirement of canonization is drinking half a bottle of wine before your children’s bedtime.”

But you don’t say that.  And not just because saints don’t swear and only drink in moderation (cue St. Francis telling me to “speak for myself”)*.  It’s because you want a piece of the glory.  And as a wife and mother, these days, your only glory comes in the form of feeling superior to those around you (or is that just the form it takes when you’re shallow and superficial?).  

Your husband is living the enviable life of a rock star, so where does that leave you?   When your identity is one of wife and mother, you better be the best damn one in town, and that means slapping on a happy face and “no big dealing” your way through the praise on a rare night out.  

My husband gets to eat, drink, and be merry in various European cities.  Each of his nights will end with a crowd applauding him, buying him drinks, and perhaps asking for autographs.  Simultaneously, I will be cooking, cleaning, and attempting to finish kindergarten homework without tears (mine) in a most assuredly less alluring small U.S. city. Each of my nights will end with a three- and five-year-old disparaging me for picking out the wrong pajamas, and then refusing to go potty so that, perhaps, I may later change those awful pajamas and their sheets when they’re soaked in pee.  So, if I bask a little too long in the “I wish my wife was as cool as yous” a little too long, then so be it.  Consider it my cut of the tour profits.
* Pure creative license.  I’m sure that St. Francis was, by all accounts, a real teetotaler.