03 Oct 2014

commune-icating

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I was at the grocery store waiting for my friend to join me. Yes, I was waiting for my friend to join me at the grocery store so we could multi-task by chatting and shopping at the same time. I guess we were catching up and ketchup-ing up. Wow. Really?

Anyhoo, while I was waiting for my shopping buddy, I ran into another mom from school. We began talking in grunts and whines about how OVER IT we both are. We lamented our lack of cooking creativity, our inability to get our sons to eat healthy foods, and our general feelings of motherhood failure. My favorite part was when she admitted the amount of bacon her son eats. Like, all day every day. This woman has four kids. I say let them eat bacon.

Then my friend showed up and joined in. We were all amazed at how similar we all feel on a daily basis. And then ANOTHER woman, this one a complete stranger, chimed in with “It sounds like you’re talking about my life.” I told her we WERE talking about her life because we all have the same damn story. We are trying to do too much in too little time, we never feel like we’re succeeding, and we always feel like we’re falling behind.

Then I stood on a pallette of oranges and pleaded with the other moms at Trader Joes.

“LADIES”, I began, “Please, lend me your ears for a moment. Are you tired?”

YES! Came the reply. Just one reply, but women were beginning to slowly walk toward me.

“LADIES! Are you OVERWHELMED?”

YES! More women now. Less timidly coming my way.

“LADIES! Are you LOST?”

AMEN, sister!! A woman in the frozen section stopped comparing the organic blueberries to the organic cultivated blueberries and looked up.

“SO AM I!” I accidentally spit when I said this, as my passion was taking over. One woman winced but didn’t avert her eyes. I had them.

“So am I.” I said it more quietly this time, remembering that a quieter voice draws people in.

At this point one of the Trader Joe’s managers tried to coerce me off the oranges. One woman booed. Another hissed. A baby began to cry. He backed off.

“So why, I ask you, are we trying to do everything on our OWN? WHY, I ask you, are we trying to be SUPER HEROES? WHY WHY WHY are we taking it upon OURSELVES to do it ALL?”

A chant began. Softly, at first. But then it began to rise. A young man asked someone where he could find the nitrate-free turkey but was cut off by “why. why. why. why. why. why. why.”

“WHY”, I continued as they chanted underneath my sermon, “Why have we put this pressure on ourselves? Why have we become so solitary in our work? Why is it only MY job to make three square meals a day for my family? Why is it only MY job to clean under the couch? Why is it only ME who comes to this god-forsaken-no-parking-hippy-solicitor market to fill my fridge? Why do I have to do it all, plus the laundry and the bills and the folding and the banking all before I pick up my child at 2:23?”

why. why. why. why. why. why. why.

A pregnant woman was weeping.

“What happened to, ‘It takes a village’? Has my village been plundered??”

amen!

“Have my villagers forsaken me?’

sing it!

“Have I forsaken THEM?”

why. why. why. why. why. why. why. why.

“I say it’s time. I say it’s time for us to rise TOGETHER. I say it’s time for YOU to do my shopping and for ME to do YOUR laundry. I say it’s time for YOU to pick up my dry-cleaning while I pick up YOUR child from school. I say it’s time for YOU to sip some tea while I mop your floor, and it’s time for ME to do some yoga while YOU make me something INTERESTING for DINNER!”

The chant changed.  time. time. time. time. time. time. time. time.

“I say it’s time MY son learned to eat some green fucking vegetables, and he’ll probably do it if he’s at YOUR house! I say it’s time for YOUR daughter to learn some manners and I think I’M the one who can teach her!”

time. time. time. time.

The woman with the crying baby handed me her child. I held her as though she were my very own. She stopped crying.

time. time. time. time.

“Let’s pool our money and buy a plot of land just outside of town. Let’s live in houses separated only by inches and let’s start doing this TOGETHER!”

A voice from the cereal aisle asked if there’d be a Trader Joe’s close by. Someone by the nuts said she wasn’t a “drop by” kind of gal. A grandmother by the peanut butter pretzels said she had a housekeeper and her kids were all grown up.

The crowd began dispersing. I stepped off the orange crate. My friends had already left for their home and the gym.

I eventually found the woman who handed me her baby. She was by the prosecco. I handed the baby back.

Later I got a text from the friend I had planned on catching up with. She said she forgot to get organic baby carrots, and would I pick some up for her.

I did.

time. time. time. time. time.

 

 

02 Sep 2014

The Power of Why

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I’m pretty sure you all know that “Flawless Mom” is just my pen name. And that “Mediocre Mom” is my real name.

But sometimes I hit on something that makes me NEARLY flawless, or I get advice from a friend that gets me even closer.

Last week I was talking to a dad who happens to be G’s best friend’s father. He also happens to be my manager and an incredibly great friend. I told him how  G has made it very clear lately that our public rules are changing. There is no more yelling, “I Love You” across the yard. There is DEFINITELY no more “Let me pick you up so you can see that better”, nor are there public kisses. There is still the hug. But it has morphed from a “I might never let go” hug to a “Yeah, Mom. I’ll see you in six hours and 23 minutes” hug.

I am incredibly communicative with my son, but sometimes it doesn’t occur to me to ask simple questions. I was taking this as a new phase, and not something to delve into. But when I mentioned this to my dear friend he said, “Did you ask him why?” I stared at him blankly for a second, head cocked to the side. “Why what?” “Why he’s not being affectionate in public anymore. His answer will give you  insight into what he’s feeling.

Wow. Honestly, this notion had completely escaped me.

The next morning on the way to school, I asked. “Hey Garrett”, I started. “I want to ask you something. And I need  you to know there is no wrong answer and I will not be upset or hurt at anything you say.”

He said okay.

“Why can’t I kiss you anymore at school or in public? And why have you stopped sayng I love you when we’re out?”

He thought for a minute. “I just kind of like the cool kids. I like being one of the cool kids.”

“And cool kids don’t do that kind of stuff?”

“Right”.

“Is it kind of babyish?”

He was looking out the window at kids walking by. We were parked by now and I could see a slightly pained expression on his face. Sometimes I think these changes are harder for him than they are for me.

“Yeah. Kind of”.

“Well” I said, “I totally get it. And you shouldn’t do anything that makes you uncomfortable. But can I make a deal with you?”

“Sure”.

“Can we keep it however you want it at school but I can still hold your hand and hug and kiss you as much as I want when we’re home?”

“OF COURSE! Why wouldn’t you??”

Since then I’ve been getting tons of love at home, and even slightly longer hugs at school.

Sometimes, the most powerful thing we can do as a parent is ask the one question we hear from our kids over and over again.

WHY.

29 Aug 2014

August 29th, 2014 (Who G-Man is Today)

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In June of last year I posted this blog post about who Garrett was, at the time.

It’s fourteen months later. And, just as I suspected, many things have changed.

He walks five paces behind me now on our way into school. Sometime he switches it up by running 90 paces ahead. But (thankfully) he still doesn’t want me to leave before the last bell rings. I usually get a small hug, but there are no more public kisses. And our ritual of  yelling things to each other as he walks into class has been replaced with knowing glances and small smiles.

He hasn’t mentioned squid or the ocean in months, except to say how much he enjoyed running between the waves at the beach this summer.

He now only listens to popular music on the radio, no longer Big Time Rush. He knows the words to many a Bruno Mars song, Kelly Clarkson, Katey Perry, and One Direction… Just to name a few. He insists that the radio be on in the car and chooses his stations by yelling “NO” or “YES” from the backseat, as I toggle between them.

He holds doors open for people at the mall or at restaurants, and LOVES it when they tell him what a gentleman he is.

He is into every sport imaginable, and excels at basketball.

He seems to have a giant bucket of confidence at the ready.

He is obsessed with a show called “Jessie” and watches it whenever he gets the chance.

He loves school unless he’s exhausted. And even then, he seems to really like it.

He is incredibly kind.

He doesn’t hear anything I say until the fifth or sixth time I say it.

He calls his best friend his “brother”, and desperately wishes he had an actual sibling.

He is more independent at 6 (almost seven), than I was at 26.

He cares very deeply about being “cool”.

He is a little “too” into who does or doesn’t have crushes on him and whether or not he’ll have a girlfriend soon. But oh, how he likes the ladies.

He loves American Ninja Warrior.

He still doesn’t eat any vegetables except carrots and the occasional raw broccoli.

He is growing faster than I can keep up with. At the end of the summer I got rid of eight pairs of pants that fit him a couple months ago.

He is also maturing faster than I can take.

Today, his “brother’s” mom came to pick him up for a play date get-together. He left the house wearing black pants, black shoes, a black shirt, and a black suit jacket. He’s apparently a detective now, and this is how he must dress. Even though it’s 100 degrees outside.

I am ever in awe of this little man. That, at least,  is still unchanged.

 

 

 

16 Aug 2014

Flawless Saturday Question

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For those of you who’ve known me and my blog for a while, you also know that I haven’t posted a Flawless Saturday Question in years. Well, here it is (and most of you will be reading this on Sunday.)

How do you feel about gift certificates as gifts? 

Personally, I freaking love them. I rarely spend money on myself because it makes me feel guilty. So, giving me a gift certificate to one of my favorite stores is like giving me an anxiety-free trip to fun town.

I know a lot of people, my husband included, who think gift certificates are cop outs and lazy gift-giving. Although I sincerely think his mind has changed since the advent of the iTunes gift card. So maybe he just didn’t like them until they made one that made sense for him.

What do you think? Lazy? Awesome? Lame? PERFECT?

I really need to know. I have a couple of very important birthdays coming up.

 

15 Aug 2014

You May Be Cool, But I’m Cooler

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It’s the last day of the first week of first grade and, if the rest of the school year can go anywhere NEAR as smoothly as this week has gone… It’s going to be a good year.

One of the reasons it’s been such a great transition is that I took the time to make ten lunch menus that I will rotate throughout the year (unless one or two get horrible reviews from the little gentleman who will be eating them). Last year was an endless cycle of me freaking out, trying to figure out what to make, and ending up with a lame sandwich and some packaged sides. We also would scramble to get out of the house in time, partly due to my lunch issues.

Yes, I know bagged lunches were good enough for all of us. Yes, I ate the exact same PB&J, apple, and a bag of chips for YEARS. And I loved it. But G is a boy with discerning taste. And he ain’t happy with the same ol’ sammy every single day.

Moving on. The first day of school, G came home with only 1/4 of his lunch eaten. Upon my inquiry, he informed me that they have to keep their lunches outside on a table, so by lunchtime everything was warm and sad. Side note: It’s 90 degrees where we live. Well, I didn’t spend hours slaving over index cards with different lunch items on them to have him not eat his food!! I immediately got on line and researched Good Housekeeping’s best lunch bags. Not one of them kept kids’ lunches at safe temperatures for more that one hour. I had to come up with my own solution. I marched that kid into Target, where we purchased a cooler. I now pack his lunch per usual, with an ice pack inside the box. Then I pack the lunchbox inside the cooler, with an ice pack on either side.

I’m proud to say all of the food is being ingested. And the ice packs are still cold by the time school is over!! I believe I’ll earn a Michelin Star before the school year ends. Or whatever the elementary-school equivalent of a Michelin Star is. Probably just a gold star, right?

My husband thinks it’s overkill. But he doesn’t understand us. And when I say us, I mean you and me. Because you’re in on this now, too.

Lunch Cooler

13 Aug 2014

My Dishwasher Has A Lot to Say

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Yesterday, G and I were at the mall after school to pick up some snazzy new Nikes we had ordered. The bathrooms at the mall have those automated-flushing-toilets, or AFTS, and G wanted to know if I used to get scared when the toilets would flush before I was finished, when I was a kid.

I had to explain that we didn’t have automated toilets when I was a kid, and that I would get MORE scared by having to touch the flusher that thousands of other people has already touched. (I didn’t tell him that part. Only that those toilets didn’t exist when I was a kid.)

He was amazed.

Well, can you imagine if I would’ve told 6-year-old me that 42-year-old me would be on the phone with LG Electronics 36 years in the future, holding my PHONE up to a speaker on the dishwasher so the LG operator could do a diagnostic test to see why there is a residue on my dishes when the cycle is done???

Did you get that? I called LG. They put a Smart Appliance Diagnostician on the phone. This diagnostician had me hold down the rinse button for three seconds, while holding the mouthpiece of my phone up to a small speaker on the side of the dishwasher door. A loud buzzing sound happened, and when that was done I picked the phone back up. At this point I was pretty sure I was being punked.

The diagnostician said I have hard water. Come on. I’m in Los Angeles. Obviously I have hard water. There’s no way my machine told you that. And sure, I should clean the filters, but it’s a NEW machine! And, okay… I’ll run hot water into the sink for a minute before I run the dishwasher, and I’ll use the power wash setting to see if that helps. This is all information you could have told me without the humiliation of tricking me into holding my phone up to my dishwasher.

The call ended and I went about my business. Then the phone rang.

“Hello, Mrs. Arch. Your dishwasher sent us some information that I neglected to tell you.”

Oh, really? What? That I haven’t been keeping the house as tidy as I’d like to? That I really have to make those doctor’s appointments before my secondary insurance runs out? That I need to get back to the gym? Come on! I don’t need ANOTHER person, er machine, on my back!!

“Yes. The water that is being used for your dishes is only 86 degrees. According to page five of your owner’s manual, it should be 120 degrees. This water is clearly not hot enough for the dishwasher to do its job. Please turn up the water heater a little bit.”

I walked out to the water heater and saw that it was on warm. I turned it up a bit. She also informed me that if all of these things don’t work, I might need to install a water softener. I told her we had been thinking of doing that.

Then she told me to make my doctor’s appointments.

The future. We’re living in it.

12 Aug 2014

First Day. First Grade.

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In the car as we pulled up to school, to first grade today, I swallowed my tears as I turned to look at G, unbuckling his seat belt in the backseat.

“I had a great time with you this summer.”

He saw his friend up the street. “CHASE!” He was already opening the car door. “CHASE!” Chase turned and waved, continuing to walk. We crossed the street, holding hands, seeing the familiar faces that were absent the last two months. “I”m gonna catch up to him”, he said already in a jog.

I said hello to several families as I sprinted up the sidewalk, trying to catch up so I could watch him walk into school for the first time this year.

As we headed to the handball courts to find out his classroom, more and more kids showed up. G was saying hello to them, anxious to get it all started. He had shot out of bed this morning proclaiming, “FIRST GRADE!” He had gotten dressed, eaten, brushed his teeth, graciously sat through pictures, reminded me to pack his snack. And now he was here, beginning again.

He got in the line for his class, noting the unusually large number of girls compared to boys (which probably makes him very, secretly happy). He was excited about his amazing teacher, who happens to be a close friend and who I am over the moon about. I saw more and more parents, gave more and more hugs, and could not stop sweating. It’s hot here, and I had run after Garrett, and I am not kidding about the sweat. I kept apologizing for my disgustingness as the sweat kept pouring. But G? Cool as a cucumber. I was the picture of nerves. He was the opposite.

I asked what our “goodbye situation” was. Was I allowed to give him a kiss? I was not. But, as the line started moving he quickly hugged me and gave me a familiar signal, a private one, that I didn’t think I would get. And the smile. He is so ready for this.

As I watched him head to class, proud Oregon backpack on his shoulders, I noticed he was not glancing back. Not even a little. He was looking forward. Straight ahead. I didn’t follow to see him put away his things in his new closet. I wanted to, but I didn’t. He is teaching me always about who he is. And I am learning, always, about who I want to be, as his mom.

 

 

11 Aug 2014

August 11, 2014

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It’s officially the last day of summer and I can’t believe how fast it has gone. Tomorrow starts the hustle and bustle of homework, lunches, PTA meetings, volunteering, fitting auditions in when I can, fitting work it when it comes, hitting the gym, and trying to start making dinners at home again. I’m going to miss Summer break.

The last two months has been a flurry of incredible fun, adventures, and dining out. And, after 10 straight months of daily workouts, it was also a flurry of exercise inactivity.

I gained weight. More than I thought I could gain in eight weeks. It was a lesson in how quickly I can undo everything I worked so hard to do in the first place.

I would change nothing about this summer except for showing some self-control and fitting in workouts at home. Everything would have been exactly the same but I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in now. That position mostly involves sitting on my extra-cushioned ass and mentally smacking myself for eating so many tortilla chips.

I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to get back on track, but I AM GOING TO GET BACK ON TRACK.

In the mean time, I’ve got a super fantastic first grader to think about. FIRST GRADE!! Unreal.

10 Aug 2014

What Just Happened

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All I know is Summer Break just started, and now it’s over. And a lot of shit happened in between.

Garrett became even more confident, more independent, and more sassy than I thought he ever could (before turning seven).

I had six days to myself when G went to Oregon to stay with Grandma Farm.

I got about 1/4 of the things done that I wanted to get done in the six days I had to myself.

Russ and I drove to Oregon to spend some time with the fam, and grab our boy. The drive up was amazing and reaffirmed everything I already knew about my marriage: It’s awesome. I’m lucky. My husband is the coolest dude ever. We kick ass on a road trip.

Oregon was lovely as always.

Russ, G and I drove to San Francisco to spend four nights in the city by the bay, where I had never been. I managed to bust my foot so bad that after the first day I needed crutches to walk, and my boys spent the last day without me. They went to Fisherman’s Wharf and a freaking Giants/Dodgers game. I lay in the hotel room, my foot up on pillows, eating car snacks for dinner. We were out $100 for my seat at the game.

G decided to spend the last week of his break at gymnastics camp, improving his grip strength, flip ability, and foam pit technique. I caught up on doctor’s appointments and paperwork, then I started to freak out about school starting and how unprepared I feel (again), and how much I feel like I have to do before we’re back on the hamster wheel and I officially become the PTA Treasurer. (Really, really bad idea.)

Last school year, G complained that I was making too many sandwiches. All of the sudden he was sick of them. That came crashing back to me a few nights ago, so I made a list of 10 lunches I can make for him, only two of which involve “sandwiches”. I’m hoping it will help me be more organized and less “WHAT AM I MAKING MY KID FOR LUNCH?” And I’m counting on it making him happier at lunch time.

I posted the fact that I was making menus on Facebook and Twitter and everyone laughed at me. A few people private messaged me asking for my menus. So, I’m going to post them here for those people. And… When I say “a few”, I mean “two”.

This will give you all a chance to laugh at me openly by leaving a comment here, or to secretly print these menus to accomplish the same thing I hope to accomplish this year.  The choice is yours! Either way, we all know I’m a nut bag.

Hope your summer has been wonderful. Mine truly was. I’m sad it’s over, but looking forward to the adventure of First Grade. And I’m GOING to blog this school year. Because if I can make a 10 day rotating lunch menu… I can write a few sentences each day. Right?? RIGHT????

 

PITA PIZZA, carrots, individual hummus cup, pretzels, grapes

HOT DOGS, string cheese, baked snap peas, dried fruit, trail mix

CHICKEN SALAD, wheat thins, cucumber, banana muffin, raisins

PB&J SUSHI, celery & ranch, cheddar cheese, apple sauce, graham crackers

SALAMI & CHEESE, ritz crackers, carrots, popcorn, cantaloupe

WONTONS, crispy rice roll, cucumber & ranch, banana muffin, grapes

MAC & CHEESE, celery & cream cheese, dried fruit, baked snap peas, animal cookies

CHICKEN NUGGETS, carrots, hummus, goldfish, cantaloupe

TURKEY SANDWICH, pretzels, apple sauce, muffin, celery & ranch

BAGEL W/ CREAM CHEESE, CINNAMON & HONEY, raisins, cucumber, trail mix, animal cookies

 

 

17 May 2014

Potty Mouth

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I need to get something off my chest, and it’s something I’m going to get a whole lot of flack for. Here goes:

I do not think “stupid” is a bad word.

I’m tired of hearing kids say, “OH!! I just heard the “S” word!!” Or “Did you know they say the “S” word in that movie?” Or “Timmy! “Stupid” is a bad word and I don’t want to hear it out of your mouth again!”

Stupid isn’t a bad word, in my opinion. It’s a descriptive word when, used cruelly, can be hurtful. So, if a child calls another child “Stupid”, that child has used a perfectly fine word in a very mean way. But if the same child calls his pen “stupid” because the ink ran out? No harm done. If I say, “This NY Times crossword puzzle is making me feel so stupid”, that is most likely an accurate statement, and I should switch to doing it in pencil. (As if I get the NY Times!) If someone in the car in front of me makes a terrible choice, causing me to almost have an accident, I feel COMPLETELY justified in saying, “THAT was a STUPID move!”

Stupid isn’t the “S” word. Shit is.

I think we give words WAY too much power. We should be focusing on the context in which words are used, and not the words themselves. If I tell my son to never use the word “hate” because it’s a bad word, I’m taking away his ability to say, “Mom, I really hated school today.” Am I supposed to say, “You mean you didn’t LIKE school today?” That’s unfair. Or what if he hates the way a kid made him feel? Or he hates wearing purple because it makes him feel STUPID? Why is that word so bad? I hate cruelty. I hate abuse. I hate all of my makeup right now and I need some new eyeliners. Is it okay that I used the “H” word?? Now, If G were to come home and say, “I hate so-and-so because they wouldn’t pass the ball to me at lunch”… We need to have a conversation about that word, because it was used in a cruel way.

“Fat” is okay to describe a wad of cash or a punched lip. “Fat” is not okay to describe a human being.

“Ugly” can be used to describe a shaved cat, or the area on my windowsill in the kitchen where all the paint is peeling. It’s also a wonderful word to use when someone is not being respectful: “That is very ugly language to use when talking to an adult.” It shouldn’t be used to describe a person, or anything that person is wearing.

Instead of just giving these words a bad name, can’t we be responsible enough to tell our kids how to use them properly?

My son heard the F-word on a show the other night. Instead of just letting it go, I idiotically pointed out that it was a very bad word. It wasn’t my proudest moment, but it happened. The next day he was in the car with a friend and he said, “I know a bad word that rhymes with puck!” I almost had a heart attack. I whipped around, (I was in the passenger seat, so I wasn’t being a stupid driver), and said “That is ENOUGH!” That night he told me it was so hard to have that word in his head and not say it out loud. So I told him to say it. And he did. (And it was hilarious but I didn’t allow myself to react as though it was.) Then I said, “Do you feel better now?” He said he felt a little better but it was so hard to know the word and not say it. I told him it wasn’t hard and he said, “How do YOU know?”

I said, “Because I’ve used the word many times. It’s a grown-up word, and I’m allowed to use it. But you’ve never heard me say it, and neither have any of your friends or teachers, because I don’t need to say it all the time.” Then I told him if I ever find out that he taught it to any of his friends, or used it in front of anyone he would be in deep trouble.

It is my responsibility to make sure my son knows that the F-Word is not a nice word to use. He knows it now. He can’t un-know the word. But he is in control of himself and he has two choices: Don’t use it. Or use it and suffer the consequences.

So, I am officially taking the position that “Stupid” is not the “S” word.  It isn’t, in fact, a bad word at all (in my humble opinion).

I know many of you disagree with me. I really want to hear from you. I also really want to hear from you if you agree with me!

And if you don’t share your thoughts, you’re a big, fat, stupid, ugly jerk.

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