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Sunday, January 6th, 2013
It’s 2013. Time to toot my horn! Time to tell you my favorite blogs that I wrote from 2012. This, in hopes you have so much free time, you’ll dive in and read all of them! Yes, I’m starting off the New Year giving you work and working on my own issue with modesty (screw those resolutions).
In all honesty, I’m going to throw my editor, Sherry, under the bus and tell the truth: She asked me to give a list of my favorite blog posts from last year. I’m not saying this to brag, but it was actually really hard to choose. Do I go funny? Serious? Newsy? Controversial? Each post I do is so personal and most of them I really try and put something out there that I feel strongly about. Whether by humor or conviction.
In the end, I picked a variety of subjects and tone. The ones I left out, but am still really glad I wrote (in case you feel like getting extra credit) are the saddest. The nanny who allegedly stabbed two kids to death, the Connecticut Shootings, the Penn State (my alma mater) molestation scandal. There actually is one that is incredibly sad that I did choose. But it’s a more personal sadness. You will know which one I’m talking about below. Here they are, in no particular order.
1. The Failure Hour. My most brilliant invention yet, and what I think every mom should do!
2. Fia Turning Three. Before you roll your eyes or skip over this one, I urge you to read it (assuming you have kids. Why else would you be reading my blog unless you’re really really bored?). It’s not just about Fia. It’s about the unquenchable love these babies bring to our lives. And our quest to hold onto it. Tight.
3. Losing Justin. The magnitude of loss is still hard to fathom. Father of two young boys. Son to my Baba Yaga. My first cousin. When Justin was killed, so many hearts shattered. I would do anything to turn back time and say it isn’t so. I want people to read this to understand how quickly life can change. And to send peace and light to all of us who will forever grieve his death.
4. Losing My Mom. I wrote this on the one-year anniversary of my mom’s death. It actually gave me great peace to write it and to know she is in a better place. Especially since much of her life was so tragic.
5. My Embarrassing Pregnancy Problem. Okay, this has the word “Ugly Vag” in the first sentence. How can you not be intrigued?
6. Should Depressed People Procreate? Hell yeah! I did and I have the happiest babies on the block. Lots of judgment here from those who have never been depressed.
7. The Death of Rody. I’m happy to report we have a new one. He is blue. And he’s an indoor Rody now. This, after the still-mysterious toy killer hit our yard. Last night we saw SIX–yes SIX coyotes on our street. I have my suspicions…I’m thinking coyote puppies who are teething…
8. Homebirth–I Don’t Get it. And still don’t. But I will say I am lessening my judgement with baby #2 on a few things…like cosleeping. I still believe strongly in sleep training. But I do get on some level why people sleep with their babies–because they are delicious. I do it from time to time. And did quite a bit with Emmett for the first 8 months. I just think you have to have a baseline of good sleep, both yours and your baby’s, before you go down that road.
9. A Monkey Made Me Lactate. Enough said.
10. Why The Boob Rocks. You would think this post would have been well-received by most. But oh no. There is a line in there that stirred so much controversy, I had to open another bottle of wine while blissfully nursing Emmett. In fact, I got so drunk I passed out and decided to make drinking to oblivion while breastfeeding a nightly habit. In fact, I’m in a blackout now.
Blog icon courtesy of Shutterstock
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Milestone Monday, Mom Situations, Must Read | Tags: alcohol, antidepressants, breastfeeding, Connecticut shooting, cosleeping, depression, drinking, failure hour, homebirth, penn state, popular blog posts, Rody, sleep training, taking antidepressants when pregnant, toddler birthday
Monday, December 10th, 2012
I failed Home-Ec in junior high. Well, didn’t fail, but I did get a D on a lot of my projects.
My first week on the air as the morning anchor in Omaha, Nebraska, we had a cooking segment. My scripts caught on fire. On live TV. I didn’t realize the stove top was that hot.
So it’s no surprise that I have never been very good at most domestic things, especially sewing or baking. Give me a vacuum and some rags though, and I’ll blow you away. I actually enjoy sweeping my floors. My obsessive behavior of picking up crumbs–that made me so loony I had to seek professional help–still gives me great pleasure. (But not obsessive. There’s a difference. Sometimes I challenge myself to look at the same crumb for days in a row. I smile when I walk past it knowing I’m the boss of it and not vice versa. Yes, I anthropomorphize crumbs.)
So why oh why did I think it was a good idea to bake a cake for Fia’s birthday? Honestly, I wanted to do it with her. I thought we’d have fun writing things on it and placing the candles just so. I wasn’t thinking about how it would taste or what it would look like. That’s part of not being domestic. Those things don’t cross your mind.
It did, though, when we were 30 minutes out from people arriving, and Phil walks in the kitchen. The whole place, along with Fi and me, are covered in cake crumbs (chant chant…they’re not the boss of you, they’re not the boss of you…) and chocolate frosting. None of the snacks were prepared. I hadn’t showered and even if I had, I’d need another one.
“The cake looks like it’s brain-damaged,” Phil says, aghast. His mom is known for making these super-elaborate birthday cakes. Trucks, buildings with pillars…anything her kids were obsessed with at the time of their birthday, she’d make into a cake. I see pictures of them every time I’m at their house. I am always in awe. And curious of how hard it can really be. You know they say men marry their mothers…um, except my husband.
“How did I marry the anti-Martha Stewart?” he asks, looking around at the disaster. “And remind me again, why didn’t we just buy a cake?”
He thinks I was being cheap, but honestly, I really wanted to do this with Fia. And we had fun, though I’m not sure it was worth it. We could have had just as much fun watering the lawn…and not ruining it.
Here’s where everything went awry. I didn’t realize when you have two round cakes, you put them together by first cutting off the tops to make them flat. Or put the rounded side on the bottom of the plate.
I popped them out of their pans, and iced both tops, which were the rounded ones. Like two little hills. When I went to “glue” them together, there were these huge gaps. It was like two weeble wobbles trying to hump each other, but not being able to reach because their stomachs got in the way. Does that make sense?
Phil told me right then and there that he would go to the grocery store and buy a cake. But I refused.
“No, I just need two more containers of frosting and I can fill it all in.”
“Jill, there is no way you can fill all that in with frosting without sugar poisoning everyone. You could fill it in with Reddi-Whip though.”
“I’m not using Reddi-Whip,” I said indignantly. “That stuff is so fake tasting.”
“And a cake out of the box is what??? Gourmet????”
He had a point.
“Fine, get the Reddi-Whip, but also get me frosting.”
When he left, I decided that if I could somehow get the flat bottoms to go together, then I could pull this off. So I started flipping the cakes onto plates to try and get the flat side face up. If you can envision at all what I’m saying, you know it didn’t work. Because then both flat tops were facing up on plates and I couldn’t plop one on top of the other from a plate. So I slid it. Yes, I grabbed a cookie tray and used two spatulas and slid it on top. Fia was at the counter watching me wide-eyed as the cake began to break apart.
“Fia, mama can do this. I know I can,” I said, sweat dripping from my brow.
Silence. Even she had her doubts.
Somehow I managed to get the flat sides together and only lost about 1/3 of the top. When Phil came home, I grabbed the frosting and used it as glue to piece it together. Then I coated an entire other layer on and handed Fia the gel icing things.
“Go to town, honey. This is your cake. Happy Birthday!”
She looked at Phil, who was standing there armed with Reddi-Whip. “I’m not putting that on the cake,” I said. He sighed. “Okay, I have to get out of here. I can’t watch anymore.”
Fia took the reigns and began to squirt. About 30 seconds later she was done. Our project was complete. 30 seconds of semi-fun, a deeply defective cake, and a giant mess.
We had a few of her friends and parents over. I poured the champagne nice and full. I told them the story so they had zero expectations. But I will admit, I was honestly embarrassed when the cake came out. I didn’t even eat it. Fia only licked the frosting. And most people just took a bite or two.
Oh well, I tried. Next year I’ll buy a cake and just stick to cleaning.
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Must Read | Tags: 3rd birthday, alcohol, baking, birthday, birthday party, cake, cake decorating, decorating, domestic, licking
Friday, September 7th, 2012
I may have come up with my most brilliant idea yet. At the end of the day, between 4:30-6, my mental state falls apart. I am exhausted from schlepping in 100-degree heat, working on my lack-of-career, “pretend play” (read my rant), changing diapers, begging Fia to eat one more piece of turkey, telling Wayne to stop eating her piece of turkey, and on and on and on.
But as all you moms know, the day is far from over. In some ways, the hardest part is setting in. The dreaded dinner hour (what to make? I have no food), the bath (“No shampoo mama. I don’t want it! No!!!”), and book time.
Sidenote: has anyone tried “reading” Good Dog, Carl to their toddler? Yes, let’s show our child how to fall out of the crib, open a refrigerator, choke on food, poison a dog with chocolate, maim themselves in a laundry shoot, and drown in a fish tank. All without words. It is a hopelessly exhausting book. Not to mention full of stupid ideas.
In short, by this time of the day, I feel like a failure. I’ve failed as a wife (messy house, sh-tty dinner), a mom (Benign Neglect + 2 hours of Sesame Street/Super Why/Sid the Science Kid), and as a person (I swear running shoes, I’ll workout tomorrow).
What better way to get over it than celebrate! Introducing: The Failure Hour.
Bring the babies! Bring the wine! Let’s embrace inadequacy!
The pressure is so great on being the perfect mom, wife, blah blah, we may as well benefit from failing on all fronts.
A couple times a week at the allotted hour, we moms gather at my house, drink wine, and watch our kids get even filthier. Sometimes we feed them dinner; so at least one thing is checked off our evening list. As the sun sets and we sit around laughing, the rest of the night seems so much more manageable. Even bearable.
Maybe I’ll make this a national organization. Let me know if you’re game to start a chapter in your area. It’s easy. BYOB (Bring Your Own Baby–and bottle. Of wine, that is).
Founding Members of The Failure Hour
Occasionally a husband or two will join in. But they have to have at least one kid in arms to participate.
Categories: Mom Situations, Moving to Los Angeles, Must Read | Tags: alcohol, chapter, club, failure hour, Good Dog Carl, guilt, happy hour, national organization, pressure, pretend play, wine
Monday, August 20th, 2012
My first cousin was killed in a freak accident. Yeah, I know this isn’t a great way to start off a blog post. But I don’t know what else to do or how to write about it. He was 44. A great dad to two sons, ages 12 and 13. His mom, my Aunt Nancy, my Baba Yaga, is “my person.” She is perhaps the one I am closest to in the world. In a mother-sister-best friend kind of way. No one will ever understand our connection. And that’s okay. We kind of like it that way.
In 2007, Nancy and I went down to Florida for what we called “Rehab Tour 2007.” My mom had been in a drunken blackout for a year. Crack, alcohol and god knows what else. There were dog feces everywhere. There were three huge talking birds with feathers and sh-t covering every surface. There was a dead rat embedded in the carpet. And this is just the quick summary. It was too much for us to tackle alone.
We went to the bank, pulled out as much cash as we could, then picked up day workers and begged them to clear out her place. Even the refrigerator and stove went. We hired cleaning ladies who worked side by side with us, pouring buckets of bleach on the walls. We went to thrift stores and bought replacement furniture. Nancy had just survived Hurricane Katrina and we kept saying, “Pretend we are helping Katrina victims.” It made it more of an out-of-body experience.
That mantra and some amazing martini’s got us through.
At one point I said to Nancy, “If we can tackle Mount Mom, why don’t we climb Mt. Kilimanjaro?” A friend had suggested the trip to me the week before. Nancy said she’d think about it.
After three days of hard labor, we picked up my mom from rehab. We took her shopping for groceries; we put together a “schedule” for her to follow; we went to AA meetings (I loved them so much, I briefly wished I was an alcoholic). But as we said goodbye, neither of us were that optimistic.
Ten days later she got on her scooter, went to the liquor store and bought a bottle of vodka. She was hopeless.
But Nancy and I had each other. Even though our mission ultimately failed, we felt invincible for what we had done. The Mountain was now calling.
Fast forward six weeks. We are in Tanzania, caked in mud, trekking up the Shira route. For 7 days we battle rain, wind, snow, sleet and bitter temperatures. Nancy is 64 years old and has lived at sea level most of her life. Our guides call her “Super Mama.” I could tell on summit day they were skeptical if she would make it. But on March 7, 2007, she was the first to reach the summit. At 19,343 feet we stood on top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, arms in the air, touching the wind. We knew we could do anything. Or so we thought…
But burying your son isn’t supposed to be part of that equation.
Justin was so proud of her for climbing that mountain. He, too, had his mom’s sense of adventure and determination. He was a kindred spirit in that way. Words can’t describe the loss. Healing–even acceptance–seems like an insurmountable mountain to climb. But carry-on we must. What choice do we have?
Mothers aren’t supposed to bury their sons. Children aren’t supposed to bury their fathers.
We hurt. We grieve. It’s the price you pay for having loved so hard.
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Losing a Parent, Mom Situations | Tags: AA, addict, adventure, alcohol, Baba Yaga, climbing, crack, death, drugs, drunken blackout, freak accident, funeral, Hurricane Katrina, Mt. Kilimanjaro, summit
Thursday, June 7th, 2012
A year ago today my mom died. I woke up this morning not sure how to feel. Glad she is out of her pain? Glad she is no longer a burden to me? Relieved that her tragic life ended so peacefully? And yet, I’m sad. It’s hard to know how to feel when your heart is so full of conflict. From my tween years on, she was an addict. For three decades I simultaneously loved, hated and worried about her. Months went by with no communication. Years went by where I didn’t see her. But towards the end, we were all with her. I was able to whisper my final goodbyes.
In those last days she and I made a pact. We would communicate through lilacs. When Phil and I moved to LA, I realized lilacs don’t grow as abundantly here. But a few weeks ago, we went to the Descanso Gardens. I knew she would be waiting.
Phil played with Fia while I walked privately with Emmett.
I carried him up to the purple blossoms.
“Hi Mom. This is Emmett,” I whispered.
She reached out to us. I felt her smile. I felt her. God she would love him. She would be so happy that I had a son. She always talked about how my brother, her firstborn, was such an easy, good baby. How instant that love was. Mom, I know what you mean! I have so much to tell you.
But as I start to think about what could be, I know in my heart what could never have been. Tethered to tubes in the hospital for a year, free of illicit drugs and alcohol, I got glimpses of the mom I had in the early years. I’ve written about it before–how she was the best of them. That is, before the demons took over.
So on this day, I feel a conflict between my head and my heart. Between what I know and how I feel. I say to the good mom, I wish you were here. To hold him. To smell him. To hug me. I say to the tormented mom, May you rest in peace.
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Losing a Parent, Mom Situations, Must Read | Tags: addict, addiction, alcohol, bipolar, death, drugs, grief, illicit drugs, lilacs, losing a mom, Losing a Parent, mortality