I want to be Sia when I grow up (& here’s why)

I wish I could go around life in a Sia wig.

Lucy’s first concert experience was a few weeks ago…and I took her to see Sia of the famed black and white wig and the giant bow and the “cheap thrills.”

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MAN ALIVE, it was something else. It was weird and dazzling and I can’t get her amazing songs out of my head (or those funny little dancers jumping around like skin-toned lemurs).

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That’s Sia…way in the back…getting all happy and chilly in the dancers’ springy shadows

I’ve also decided that I want to be Sia when I grow up.

I’m telling ya, this woman has it figured out.

Here’s somebody with a crazy gift — pipes that won’t quit, songwriting chops for days — but she doesn’t love being “the star,” the center of everyone’s spotlight, a perfect product to be bought and sold.

So she hides under the bow and the bangs, she stands stock still in the corner of the stage, and she sings her wig off. The clamoring masses never see her face.

She still uses her gift. She still sings her song. But she does it without giving everything away, without making it all about HER.

To me, that is something truly magical and unheard of in pop culture.

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I feel like I need to open a vein today and just confess something to y’all.

My very first book is out there now in the world, as you know all too well, and I’m trying in my teeny little way to promote it and sell it and help people know about it. It’s become a major part of my life at this moment in time.

And while the high of my first book-signing was a joy in every way and I’ll never forget the beauty of that night, I also want you to know…I’m sick of seeing my own face.

I’m weary of my life being consumed with self-promotion, of always trying to work an angle, of fixating on details and sales figures and Amazon reviews and what to say and what to wear.

These are wonderful problems to have, I’m aware. But I just wanted to tell my dear friends out there who are following me on this strange new journey — please know that all this book-selling business really isn’t my bag. (Which is obvious because I’m not doing it very well…)

I’m like every other writer who’s been dragged by her bitten-down fingernails from her cozy quiet hovel into the semi-public eye. I’d much rather squirrel away at my desk and string words together…create something funny or useful or something not so very much about ME. Lord knows, I’m so very tired of me.

Today I want to be Sia.

I still want to sing my song. In the corner. Preferably in a wig.

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Oh yeah, and whenever possible, under a fuzzy blanket.

 

The Case of the Missing Uniform & How I Didn’t Try to Solve it (for once…)

My kids are the biggest losers.

By that, I mean THEY LOSE EVERYTHING. If something isn’t Washi-taped to their foreheads or (better yet) the forehead of the person standing across from them, it’s gone. Into the abyss with all the other lost things, papers, PTA forms, reading logs, ephemera, whatnot, what have you.

That’s why it wasn’t such a giant surprise that when my 7th grader received his cross-country uniform, it was promptly “stolen.”

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Thievery was clearly the only explanation for how the uniform that had been lying atop his backpack one minute could have vanished –Poof! Just like that!– the next.

I had a few other explanations. Like, DUH, HE LOST IT. Or shoved it someplace weird. Or forgotten he’d left it in his locker like a normal person.

But whatever the case, his first meet was fast approaching, and he didn’t have anything close to the proper threads.

The situation called for intense glowering paired with unwavering insistence that he could not–under any circumstances–be seen in some plain jane, non-team-issued burgundy shirt and black shorts.

This would never do.

I offered the obligatory stern talking-to’s about teamwork and not being a weenie and really good parenting stuff like that. But I could not make the uniform magically appear.

That’s when my dialing finger started getting itchy.

That’s when I could feel the helicopter wings starting to sprout from my back, gearing up for swooping and solving and calling the coach and smoothing things over and coming up with Plan B.

It took all the super-human strength I could muster to keep my X-Mom Mutant Wings all tamped down.

But I am happy to report to you people that I DID IT. I held back every motherly impulse in me that cried out to fix it. To make it better. To make my boy happy, whatever the cost to his future self-sufficiency.

Here’s what worked for me (and you can feel free to use this). Every time I thought of jotting off an email to the coach about that uniform, I would visualize Will off at college, texting me in desperation because he couldn’t figure out where the quarters go in the laundry machine.

For his future manhood, I decided to make him figure this one out on his own.

He would have to ask the right questions. He would have to suffer the natural consequences. He would have to start figuring his way out of life’s paper bag.

And do you know what? I showed up to the meet, and he was wearing that flipping uniform.

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He placed 30th or something, but still. Victory is mine.

He found it.

All by himself.

His buddy had picked it up by mistake.

Problem SOLVED.

And I didn’t have to do a thing.

Parents, listen to me. I never thought I’d say this, but it can be done. We can actually let our kids fix stuff on their own. They are capable. And if they’re not, they’ll get that way — if we let them.

Tamp those X-Mom wings down, mamas, and let those kids FLY.

Or let them flop, then fly.

But it’ll happen…eventually…I’m pretty sure.

Either way, at least your kid will be the one who can figure out where the quarters go. Which means he’ll be the one who does his own laundry.

And that’s what I call WINNING.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Summer of the Magical Unicorn Swimsuit

This is my daughter’s swimsuit. Feast your eyes.

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This suit has been pulled from the dirty clothes hamper, crumpled and wrinkly, and it’s giving off a strong whiff of chlorine. Even so, it is wondrous.

I only bought this garish, LSD-inspired concoction because my ten-year-old begged for it mercilessly (and it was on clearance). I guess she caught me at a weak moment, because I’m still not sure how she convinced me to shelve all my buttoned-down navy-blue principles, plunk down a whole $10, and give Lucy my blessing to wear this thing in public.

But Lucy loves this suit as if it gives her magical powers. And I now believe it does.

This swimsuit makes her brave. She parades around in it without a trace of self-consciousness, without the first thought of covering up a little body that isn’t quite as svelte as her friends’. “Who cares if there’s a pot belly under there?” she seems to be thinking. “The unicorn is awesome, and thus I AM AWESOME.”

This swimsuit makes her happy. It makes her light. It makes her totally at home with who she is.

I marvel that anyone could feel that way in a swimsuit.

I stare at her and wonder, “What must it be like to be that sweetly imperfect and JUST. NOT. CARE?” She is a superhero with a dazzling white unicorn emblazoned across her barrel chest, and it is a thing of beauty and strength.

I’m afraid the magic will wear off soon. I fear that summers to come will bring downcast eyes and oversized T-shirts and stolen glances at what other closer-to-perfect girls in bikinis look like.

That’s what teenage summers brought me. And honestly, it’s what summer brings me still. I hate to admit I haven’t outgrown all the dumb comparisons, the fear of other eyes, the deadening impulse to skip swimming or playing or living life–just so I can better hide my lumps, bumps, and lack of lady humps from the watching world.

I wish my girl could wear this unicorn swimsuit forever, letting it imbue her with joy and fearlessness every summer of her life.

But even if the spell is broken too soon, whatever she wears, whoever she grows to be, this girl is my hero.

This girl will always be my very own magical unicorn.

 

 

Back-to-School Ain’t What It Used To Be

I used to long for back-to-school like a cop longs for a donut, like a pig yearns for slop, like our dog clamors for turds in the kitty litter.

Back in the day, this mom couldn’t WAIT for school to start. (That’s what all those bad analogies were trying to say.)

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Back then, I even incorporated busses into my baking.

In the elementary-school days, I couldn’t see the down-side to getting the kids out of my airspace for a nice long stretch every day.

Nobody had to wake up too early. The homework was light (except for that weird new math which takes way longer than it should…CARRY THE ONE, people!). And since we are lame and unsporty, our evenings were generally devoid of fields to be practiced upon.

The kids were mostly happy, while I was freed up to make some major accomplishments in my personal life–like watching all five seasons of Breaking Bad.

But everything’s changed. Somewhere along the way, the axis shifted, leaving me not even the slightest bit tingly at the words “pumpkin spice.”

This was the year I became (dare I say it?) A SUMMER PERSON.

I blame middle school.

Dealing with two strung-out middle schoolers and their homework travails, their overflowing 30-pound backpacks, and their equally heavy spirits caused me to put aside my hatred of swimsuits and yearn like mad for simpler days.

I’d grown so weary of haranguing people about reading logs…of finding out at the last minute that this science project is crazy hard and nowhere near done…of having to sit another night with a tearful child who’s sick inside from a swirling stew of anxieties that summer had begun to sound like heaven itself.

And summer actually was pretty darn good this time.

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For once, I hated to see it go. And the night before school started, I remembered exactly why.

It all come flooding back to me through my ear holes.

Lucy had dug out her dreaded summer math packet in a last-ditch effort to get something done on it. And that’s when I could hear from the kitchen the tone of everyone’s voices. The frustrated dad. The uncooperative child. The tension. The volume. The gaskets collectively about to blow sky high.

And I remembered why I wasn’t exactly bounding with glee to the bus stop this year. That sound brought it all back.

School is harder now. It just is.

But life’s not Easy Street for any of us. It’s just not.

This school hill we’re climbing will only get steeper and more exhausting the higher we go, and nobody much likes the huffing and puffing that comes with that.

But the steady hike (the one with no short-cuts and no elevators) really is the only way up. Retreat to kindergarten isn’t an option.

So as much as we moms tend to want nothing but ease, comfort, and total happiness for our kids, it’s time to get some new wants. 

I want my kids to be strong.

I want them to be smart.

I want them to grow into grown-ups worth a hill of beans.

(I also very much want to watch Netflix again. I mean, have y’all started up on that Stranger Things? Lawseeeee.)

Sure, I’ve grown to better appreciate the lazy view from summer’s beach chair. But I’m praying that I’ll love the view from the top of this climb just as much…even if getting there is definitely not half the fun.

 

 

A Dirt Hater’s Guide to Gardening and Friendship

An ode to friendship and dirt seemed right today…

Tales from the Crib

I hate dirt.

I’m pretty much adverse to all forms of grunge, sweat, humidity, bugs, and most displays of physical exertion — basically all the things you experience outdoors.

I, like everyone else, love pretty flowers, sunshine and rainbows. And all those things look really nice on my screensaver.

But somehow I have an awesome friend who loves dirt. She loves it so much she could roll around in it – all while reeling off the names of every last plant in her flowerbeds. In Latin.

She even knows what these strange garden implements are called - and how to use them. She even knows what these strange garden implements are called – and how to use them.

She knows her stuff. Better yet, she loves her stuff. And what my pitiful black thumb has done to almost every plant in my possession makes her want to cry.

After my husband (with delusions of yard makeover grandeur) jerked out every overgrown shrub from our front yard by the…

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The Big Reveal

This is it. Big Reveal Day. I won’t go on and on like usual, but I’ll just get right to it.

Everyone, I’d like you to meet my NEW BOOK.

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I hope you love it as much as I do.

The cover absolutely makes me swoon. I am really, really proud of it – and the stuff inside too.

Y’all have been so sweet and supportive all these years I’ve been writing this mess–and now it’s a bonafide BOOK. I can’t quite believe it still.

It’d be amazing if you’d consider putting one on your bedside table. And your hairdresser’s bedside table. I’d love you forever for it.

The book comes out November 1, 2016, but you can click here on one of these fancy AMAZON and BARNES & NOBLE links and pre-order it TODAY!

And pre-ordering is surprisingly helpful.

You’ll get the book a bit earlier than the release date, and early sales tell booksellers that I’m not a total hack and they should order more. So that’s a very good thing.

Be forewarned: If you search for me by the title, Tales from the Crib, don’t be deterred if you run across a few chick lit books or Rugrats first.

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Apparently I’ve got a long way to go before I’m up to Rugrat standards. They totally rank.

Thanks for everything, y’all. Seriously. This is happening.

It Gets Easier: The Vacation-with-Kids Version

Back when the kids were small, let’s face it: “Vacation” was anything but.

“Vacation” with kids could even feel infinitely harder than normal life — with cranky babies on board, gear strapped so high onto the roof we could barely squeeze under bridges, and us nowhere near a washing machine or a working toilet when we needed one. Which was all the time.

But I am here to testify, now that our kids are 10 and 12, a real-live picture-perfect vacay is actually possible. I know because I just lived it.

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I mean, seriously, would you look at all those TEETH?

 

Throughout our trip, my husband and I would find ourselves nudging each other (at least a million times a day) at the sight of other parents muscling through “vacation” with little kids. Each one wore a different version of the same sweaty pained expression.

We’d exchange knowing glances and pitying remarks like “GAWD, do you remember those days??”

We’d laugh conspiratorially at the memory of our own baby vacay trials, then look over at our relatively self-sufficient tweens climbing oceanside rocks without need of us or a Baby Bjørn. And we’d smile.

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We felt a little guilty about how good it felt, but OH HOW WE SMILED.

Parents of wee ones still wetting themselves, chafing from seaside diaper rash, and requiring five wardrobe changes a day, we feel ya.

Oh sweet delirious well-meaning moms and dads, we see you on the side of I-95 with your toddler crouching to poop in that awful little pot of dysentery you have to tote in the back of the van.

We see you unsuccessfully applying sunscreen to the squealing greased pig that is your child.

We see your kid’s swim diaper so full it’s dragging below knee-level. (And we also see the future…how it’s about to crumble into a pile of crystalized urine diamonds on the carpeted floor of the motel.)

We see your baby eating fistfuls of sand, sobbing about what a dumb decision that was, then inexplicably doing it over and over and over again.

We see you at the candy store with the enraged toddler who cannot fathom why every single gummi worm, bear, egg, and shark cannot be his to cherish and get sick upon.

We see you manhandling that umbrella stroller with a small but freakishly heavy child strapped inside, hoisting it over subway turnstiles, up multiple flights of rocky stairs at the national park, and amongst throngs of sweaty people at the amusement park. Those folks don’t much enjoy having their ankles clunked by its tiny wheels, but you press on.

We, of course, don’t see you back at your room later, but we know what goes on there at this station in life. And no, it does not involve late nights watching free HBO.

We know you’re being forced into an 8:00 bedtime by a tyrannical toddler in a Pack & Play who requires dim lighting, whispering, and absolutely no channel flipping. We also know that the despot will wake up mad at regular intervals, thanks to the slamming doors of neighbors who have the nerve to arrive home slightly after dark.

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In this very room, Lucy screamed the words, “MOMMY, STOP HURTING ME!!” at the top of her lungs as I changed her rashy diaper. The windows were open.

We see you. We feel you. We know your pain, because we once were you.

But here’s the good news: We’re not you anymore.  And you won’t be you forever. 

Vacation with kids really, honestly and truly, does get easier.

One day, those babies will grow into relatively reasonable human beings who can enjoy outings longer than 45 minutes and tie their own shoes. (Until the kids become teenagers. Then I’ve heard they make you suffer long and hard for making them go places with you and look out the window occasionally.)

So parents of the toddler set, let’s just consider this period of life your Vacation Initiation. For a season, you must endure all kinds of feats of strength, endurance, and exhaustion for the sake of a few fleeting moments of vacation adorableness and wonder. (And believe me, you will cling to those moments for years).

But take heart: In a few years, when you’ve passed all the tests without fainting or dying or becoming an alcoholic, you’ll be full-fledged card-carrying members of the sisterhood (and/or brotherhood)!

You’ll be able to leave behind those slings, car seats, and the pointless swimmies of the pledge years behind, sport your letters proudly, and vacation like a boss. Or better yet, like a Brady (until you find a tiki doll washed up on the shore, then all bets are off).

When that day comes, you will have earned yourself a pound of maple nut fudge and the best commemorative T-shirt money can buy in all of North Myrtle Beach.

That, and another vacation.

 

 

 

 

 

Reporting Live from the Cave

Hello. It’s me.

It’s DeeDee, reporting live from the cave I’ve been living in the past three months.

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I’m, of course, speaking of a metaphorical cave, not this ACTUAL cave we visited last weekend. (This is Luray Caverns in Virginia. Pronounced “LOO-ray” for the legit.)

Anyway, three months. That’s how long it’s been since I blogged last. And for those of you who even noticed, I figured I owed you a pulse check. (Sure, my pulse tends to be a bit elevated due to extreme inactivity, but I do have one.)

I’ve been a cave dweller lately for several reasons.

Reason #1: Three months ago or so, I started working every day. Like real-life normal people.

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Lucy was there this morning for a few minutes and took this FRENETIC ACTION SHOT. 

You’ll be happy to know I’m off that daily stuff now…it was just a temporary thing. But what a wake-up call. Were you aware there’s an expectation of ironed pants and thoughtful accessorization every day in the workplace?  I’m sorry, but that’s a bit much. I’ll stick with Tuesdays and Thursdays, if it’s all the same to you.

Reason #2 for the cave-dwelling: My kids are aging out of this over-sharing thing.

My daughter, who’s 10 and who has unwittingly had her life documented since she was in diapers, told me, “Guess what, Mommy? Emily reads your blog. She says it’s funny.”

Ohhh, so it’s out there now for real.

It’s different than before, back when it was all just greasy kids’ stuff and funny stories about poop. Now I have to guard my children’s tender tweenage hearts.

After years of running off at the mouth and processing my parenting life on paper, I’ll be honest with you. I’m not sure what to do…how to safely toe that line between privacy and transparency. It’s got me kind of stuck. From here on out, I have to figure out a way to still write what I love–but from a safer distance somehow.

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So I’m noodling over how I grow into a different phase that is still funny and honest but doesn’t make me feel like a narc from 21 Jump Street, telling stories on my kids out of school. I’ll get there. But I am a bit frozen in the not-knowing.

Reason #3 for the cave-dwelling: There’s the whole BOOK thing.

Nutshell version for those who don’t know…I have a book of my essays coming out this November.

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It WILL be called Tales from the Crib. God willing, It will NOT look like this.

We’re talking, THIS NOVEMBER. Which is in, like, THREE MONTHS. Oh crap, I have to put my head between my knees now.

After what has literally been years in the making, this thing is really happening. And all of the sudden, there are book covers to review (and soundly reject), bio’s to write, endorsements to beg for, potential events to plan, and nail-bitten hands to wring.  It’s all very exciting and tumultuous and consuming.

But here’s the thing: I need people to actually know this book exists so they might consider the random possibility of buying it and helping me in my mission to not completely embarrass myself.

So it’s time to put the big-girl pants on (you know, the ones made of wooly mammoth pelt) and emerge from the cave I’ve been living in.

It’s time to get brave and get out there…even if it takes my husband dragging me out bodily by the hair.

This is DeeDee, reporting live from the cave.

I’ll see you out there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birds, Bees and (for lack of a better word)…Coconuts

Kid #2 just finished what she called the “Human GROSS and Development” unit in 5th grade science, so let’s just say– she knows ALL THE WORDS. Just one year ago, we were embarking with Kid #1 on this Sex Ed “virgin voyage,” and I wrote about it, OF COURSE. Kid #1 came home shocked to his core that Daddy and I had “done that TWICE.” So I am sharing that post TWICE because, well, some things are worth doing more than once (wink wink).

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My little boy is getting the sex talk at school today.

Somebody get over here and HOLD ME.

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He is today embarking on the fifth grade science unit about “human growth and development.” That means that today the light will dawn on all those weird words I was never enlightened enough to teach him. (I’m sorry, but most of those words are gross…except for Vas Deferens, which sounds kind of fancy. I much prefer the vagaries of “down there.”)

IMG_5956 See what I mean??? Ugh.

Today he will watch that video (if he ever gets out from under his desk) with drawings of girls and boys “blossoming,” which boils down to getting hairy and growing “coconuts.” (That’s Will’s word. I swear I didn’t teach him that one.)

Today the shales will fall off his eyes and he will become acquainted with “sanitary napkins.”

Today my child will learn where babies come from, without any mention of storks or cabbage patches or God’s eternal mystery.

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Today is the…

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Hair I Am

There’s just something about a bad pun that stirs my cornball soul.

And when a business puts all its eggs in a pun’s basket–when their entire name, brand, business model, and marketing strategy are based entirely on a painful pun–there’s just nothing better in my book.

Beauty parlors are absolute masters of this. If there’s a way to work in the words “shear” or “cuttin'” somewhere, anywhere, on a business card, they will DO IT.

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This trend is best exemplified by the ultimate beauty parlor pun: Curl Up & Dye. It’s everywhere. But we can do better.

I’ve been jotting down ridiculous pun-tastic beauty parlor names for years, and I recently struck upon THE ONE BEAUTY PARLOR PUN TO RULE THEM ALL.

But I need to build to that.

To whet your appetite, allow me to share a tasty sampler of my very favorite beauty parlor names that I’ve collected from across this great land. You’ll thank me later.

(Throat clearing noises…) I give you:

  • Best Little Hair House – Voluntown, CT. This is not only hilarious, but there also may be scandalous levels of permanent waves going on here.
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You see that I had no choice but to veer off wildly and take a picture.
  • Hairoics – Kill Devil Hills, NC. These heroes of cosmetology are ready to storm your grays like the beaches of Normandy.
  • Vanity Hair – Onancock, VA (which the Internet tells me is now closed, but not for lack of classy pun perfection);
  • Cutt’n Up – Hayes, VA. (Not to be confused with Kuttin Up in Hampton, VA. The kreative use of K’s opens up whole new worlds of possibilities.)
  • Bee’s Hive of Beauty, New Rochelle, NY.  This is just adorably home-spun, even though it harkens back to a big oversized do that’s now a big oversized don’t.
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BIG bonus points for their tag line: “Weapons of Mass Seduction.”

But there’s one barber shop name that stands HEAD and SHOULDERS above the rest. (See what I did there?)

We just happened upon it the other night, and it blew me away with pure pun-tastic genius. I can’t NOT laugh every time I think of it.

I guess after so many plays on the words “head” and “clip” (usually with the letter Z tagged on to the end), I’d gotten hungry for something bold and new on the menu…something I never saw coming. Sort of like an ostrich burger.

THIS IS IT.

The heavens are parting now.

Here it comes…

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Right smack dab in New London, CT.

The 2nd Combing.

WAIT FOR IT. Chew on it a minute.

Oh yeahhhhh. You got it.

HEAVEN-SENT.

If I weren’t such a dork, I could retire from my pun pursuits right now. The 2nd Combing is my pun Everest.

Yet I press on. I will continue my quest for the most ridiculous beach house names, boat names, even strip club names…but I don’t see how anything can top this one in the whole realm of barber shop names.

But maybe you have some choice offerings I’ve missed. Please please please share.

We all need something, anything, to make us laugh these days. Even if it’s just a pun that’s so bad it’s GOOOOD.