Tug-of-War

I have to tell you that lately I’ve been feeling conflicted. Torn in half. Pulled in two completely different directions. 

I don’t know how else to describe it other than using a food related metaphor, so if you’re hungry, you might want to grab a snack, because this could trigger a craving. 

Ready? Let’s go.

You know when you’re at a really fancy restaurant and you have your eye on two completely different entrees that you really, really want, so you sit there in a half panic hoping the server won’t come back because you’re not sure what to go with, but she eventually does because she’s great at her job and then you’re put on the spot to order, so you think to yourself, “to hell with it, I’m an adult, this is a special occasion, I’ll just order both!”, and then you do, and at first you’re really happy because this food is GOOD and then you start to get full and feel a little…uncomfortable, confused and sweaty? 

I’ve been feeling kind of like that.

Some might call this a mid-life crisis, and to that I say, “go to hell, I’m only 34”. Others might say it has something to do with astrology, or the new moon, or the zodiac or whatever, and if that’s the case, well, let’s just say reading my horoscope in Cosmo never prepared me for this feeling and I feel a bit cheated. 

To any parent reading this, you won’t be surprised when I say that the area I’m feeling the internal tug-of-war the most is around my “title”. Who am I, really? Well, let’s break it down. First and foremost, I’m a wife and mom. That’s pretty simple. Then, let’s go one layer deeper. I’m a wife of a working husband and I’m a working mom of two. Sometimes I wear that title, “working mom”, with pride. Sometimes, for only reasons that I can blame on society, I even wear it with a touch of cockiness. But other times, and lately, a lot of the times, I wear it with a feeling of extreme and overwhelming guilt. And THAT, my friends, is where the tug-of-war begins.

Growing up, in movies and on tv, and even in our own personal experiences, we (as in ALL of us) were introduced to two separate female characters. The first is Mom™. Mom is happy, positive, cheerful and always busy. She’s taking care of the kids, her husband, the home and dang it, she even spoils the dog! She’s always put together, even while wiping down countertops with a baby on her hip. And boy, when mom makes a joke, us in the audience give her a soft chuckle. We love mom. Some of us even want to be Mom someday.

Then there’s THE BUSINESS WOMAN™. The business woman is a badass who is respected by everyone she works with. She doesn’t take shit from anyone and makes things happen by delegating to her team and is the most organized person you’ve ever seen. She is perfectly manicured and smart, decisive and direct. THE BUSINESS WOMAN is someone many aspire to be, but few achieve. When THE BUSINESS WOMAN talks, everyone listens. All of us secretly want to be The Business Woman someday. She’s a real one. 

Two very different characters whose narratives never, ever cross. That’s what we’re used to seeing, right? 

Then one day, Millennial Mom comes on scene. Millennial Mom is a bit of a hybrid model. Half Mom, half THE BUSINESS WOMAN and most days, she’s not sure which way is up. Her programming tells her she has to be the best mom ever, while also excelling at her job and impressing every single person around her, whether she’s at home or in the boardroom. Millennial Mom can be compared to one of those hypoallergenic dogs, let’s say, a Golden Doodle. Some days she feels the urge to nurture and play like a loyal Golden Retriever and other days she just wants to look pretty and impress everyone with her intelligence, like a prize winning Poodle. And some days, having to choose which one to be makes her feel like just a downright bitch.

If I haven’t introduced myself yet, hi, I’m Millennial Mom. I’m conflicted about pretty much everything. Like a lot of women my age, I chose both entrees at the restaurant, and like I mentioned above, I’m a “working mom”. First of all, what a bullshit title. I cringe at myself any time I’ve used that with any sort of arrogance in my voice. And believe me, I have. To make myself feel better in times of extreme doubt and internal conflict, I’ve leaned into that title and worn it as some sort of armor in an attempt to temporarily elevate myself. If I ever said it to you, I’m truly sorry.

I am fully aware all moms are working moms and any title that entertains the idea of comparing parents who work inside the home vs outside the home can kindly see their way out. That being said, as a parent who works outside the home, I like to play a fun game with myself daily about whether I’m doing the right thing. Deep down, I know I am. By working, I’m helping to provide for my family, I’m letting my children experience daycare/preschool where they’re learning, growing and building social skills, and I’m in a job that allows me to truly do what I love with people I adore. But that doesn’t stop the doubt. Maybe my kids want to see me for more than an hour in the morning and a couple of hours at night. Maybe I should be teaching them the important skills they’ll take with them later in life, so they remember their mom as more than just the lady who gives good hugs, but sits on her computer a lot at night to catch up on work. Maybe? 

But maybe it’s time I drop the idea of having to pick one or the other, or even the idea of trying to be the best at both at the same time. As someone who wants to be the best at things and has a lot of my value wrapped up in my production, this is hard – but maybe it’s time to give myself some grace. Maybe I should slow down. Maybe we all should? Maybe it’s time I just lean into the version of myself I know the people around me need. The version who does my best in all areas of my life when I’m able to, and the version who won’t end up in any history books for being the best at either (even though I have the perfect picture in mind, just in case) but will be remembered as someone who worked hard and did her best to take care of her family, her friends and her team. Maybe we can make a deal with ourselves and each other that we’ll work on this. Maybe the characters we were introduced to as kids and whose narratives we were continued to be fed as we grew up will morph into someone a little more relatable and realistic. Maybe the doubt will still creep in, and maybe eventually it’ll slow down. Maybe it will, and maybe it won’t. All I know is, my arms are tired from playing tug-of-war, and ever since I mentioned that fancy restaurant earlier, I’m feeling pretty hungry, so I need to go take care of that. 

Good luck, I think maybe we can do this.

Til next time.

Xo

M

Tailgating Essentials

Happy Fall, everyone! 

Fall is the best time of year, because it has everything I could ever want in a season. For instance, over there you have crockpot meals! Just right there you have leaves doing their yearly “glow up”. Over here you have a nice display of cardigans, so soft you could bury your face in them. And right here, you have college football. Breathe it in, folks. It’ll leave us just as quickly as it arrived.

Notice how I didn’t say anything about pumpkin patches. It is my personal belief that pumpkin patches are a waste of perfectly good sanity. Sanity you’ll need later in life for when your kids are trying to drive you to the point of no return by playing the Blippi theme song over and over and over again. In fact, the only thing I remember about our trip to the pumpkin patch last year was the argument my husband and I had on the way to the pumpkin patch about going to the damn pumpkin patch. Not only that, none of the photos I posted at the pumpkin patch landed me a spot on the Pinterest homepage or shot me to Instagram fame like I intended. The pumpkin patch is dead to me. The cider donuts slap, though.

But, back to college football, shall we?! The Eddie home happens to be a house divided, with yours truly rooting on the University of Iowa Hawkeyes and my husband, Geoff, a dedicated fan of the Iowa State Cyclones. It may be interesting for you to learn that we both attended Iowa’s third University, the University of Northern Iowa. So, yes, we need to get our priorities in check. Thank goodness our kids look great in both team’s apparel, because that was going to be the deciding factor on whose team really reigns supreme.


Last weekend, to celebrate my 34th birthday (wow, I haven’t typed that number out, yet), Geoff and I went to Iowa City to cheer on the Hawkeyes. Most importantly, though, went to Iowa City to tailgate. Now, I haven’t really tailgated in years, but back in my prime, and I don’t want to brag, I knew how to ruin a good tailgate. I got started too early and I went too late, and that’s all we need to say about that. BUT, now that I’m a mostly mature parent, I knew I needed to come in prepared for a long day, so prepared we came.

When you really boil it all down, to have a good time tailgating, you need a couple things (besides beer and brats):

  1. A “Can Do” Attitude, because there’s about to be a lot of eating, drinking and walking, and in order to have a really good time, you’ll be required to do all three
  1. A Portable Cooler, because of point #1

Now, I know you’re used to my ramblings and not me making listacles of shit you should buy, BUT, I’m trying something a little new here so, bear with me. Or don’t! That’s up to you, pal!

Some of these things make great gifts and others are just stuff you should have on hand to make your life easier in your day to day. So, enjoy? Or, don’t!

Tailgating Essentials

EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen

Before you head out for a fun day of tailgating in the sun, you first need to take care of that skin, baby! This sunscreen has seriously changed my life over the past two years. I understand that sounds dramatic, but, as I’ve gotten older I’ve developed a sensitivity to Mr. Golden Sun’s rays and the results are less than ideal. This is the ONLY product I’ve found that works to block out everything, ensuring my skin doesn’t break out after sun exposure. Even if you don’t have a sun sensitivity, you need to give this a chance. It goes on clear and doesn’t have that usual sunscreen smell. It can go on under makeup and lasts hours!

Ice Mule Backpack Cooler

I don’t want to say this cooler saved our marriage, but this cooler saved our marriage. Just kidding. Kind of. I bought this cooler for my husband for his birthday this summer and it’s been a staple to our weekends ever since. It fits everything you need, from snacks to bottles of water to, yes, multiple cans of beer, and is convenient as HECK. You carry it like a backpack, and by you, I definitely mean your partner, which leaves two open hands for giving you back massages or playing you a love song on a piano.

This big guy would make a great gift for Christmas or birthdays, because who doesn’t want to carry around their family’s snacks on their backs?! 

Silicone BPA Free Reusable Storage Bags

These little things have come in clutch more times than I can count, and work perfectly to throw into the backpack cooler I linked above! I love these things for storing snacks and packing lunches. Seal ‘em up real tight and they’re fine to hang out in a cooler or freezer! I love that they cut down on waste and are completely safe to be used again and again. Their only downfall is that they aren’t dishwasher safe, but, the best things in life aren’t, ya know?

Carhartt Crossbody/Fanny Pack

If you’re tailgating, you need to travel light. Especially if you intend on heading inside the stadium, you need to keep your personal belongings to a minimum. On a normal day, I’m very Pro-Carhartt. Maybe it’s because I want to to move to a nice acreage and raise goats from here on out, or it could just because their women’s line is >>insert fire emoji here <<. So sure, I was already a fan, but when Carhartt starting introducing bags and purses, I became a full blown groupie. This crossbody bag/fanny pack can fit your necessities, and is super cute. It should be small enough to be allowed in most stadiums, but ALWAYS check the stadium rules ahead of time so you don’t have to throw it in the purse pile outside of the gates. Been there, cried over that. Carhartt has tons of sizes and colors to choose from, but this one is the best for tailgating, IMHO! This would also make a great gift, and I’ve already bought a couple to gift at Christmas! 

(Item pictured below is actually the Sling Backpack, but I think the fanny pack would work better for tailgating)

Bombas Socks

We’ve covered the eating, we’ve covered the drinking, but we haven’t quite covered the walking. Regardless of the footwear you land on (I’ve learned it’s comfort over fashion in times like these), these socks will take care of you. Yes, they’re pricey for socks, and yes I was skeptical, too, but one lap around the tailgate in these puppies and my feet were singing like angels. They are really like little hugs for your feet! These socks are the real deal, and I’m not sure on the science, but I think they somehow figured out how to weave tiny pieces of clouds into the fabric. Wild. You won’t regret it.


So that’s it! That’s the list! I actually quite enjoyed that, and I hope you did, too!

My next blog will probably be BAU (business as usual) and cover all kinds of things from true crime to nipple talk, so get ready!

Til next time, xoxoxo!

M

Friday Shorty | Learning

Isn’t it funny the subjects we become experts on once we become parents? For instance, I’m currently an expert in the heavy equipment industry. Show me a piece of equipment, I can rattle off the name, the year it was made, what attachments it has and the EPA category it’s in. Little boys have a way of making sure you know this kind of important information, and if you get it twisted, be prepared for an earful, because that’s rookie behavior and we don’t win championships with a team full of rookies who mix up excavators with tractors. Damn, girl!

Aside from excavators and front loaders, I also fancy myself a fruit snack connoisseur. In my opinion, there are three big things you should consider when picking out the perfect fruit snack:

  1. Quantity in the Package
  2. Density of the Fruit Snack
  3. Shape of the Fruit Snack

The fruit snack I’ve found that checks all of these boxes (plus some), has to be Mott’s. Those little shits are good. If you’ve never been taken to Flavor Town by a Mott’s fruit snack, you’re missing out. It’s basically a Gusher™ without the questionable goop on the inside. And if you’ve never had a Gusher, well, sweetie, I simply can’t help you. You’re a lost cause.

Now, you may be asking yourself, “is she really writing a blog about fruit snacks?” and the answer is yes, I am. But, you’re one the reading it, so who’s the real dork here? Kidding. We’re both great. We’re thriving. Look at us! 

The point is, I’ve found myself shocked with the amount of learning that’s happened during this phase of my life. The phase, generally, being “Early Parenthood”. Early parenthood? Is that a thing? Whatever, it makes sense in my head. What I mean is, when I was pregnant, I learned new things every single day. For example, I learned the my nipples could grow to the size of frisbees and that getting your cervix checked felt like a medieval torture technique. When my kids were newborns, I learned the difference between their hungry cry and their “I’ve just ruined the third outfit you put on me with a massive blowout” cry. I also learned that pajamas with zippers are the only way to go and that the longest my youngest could ride in a carseat without summoning demons with his screams was approximately 24 minutes and 13.5 seconds. Now with two boys 3 and under, I learn something new every day. A lot about them and maybe even more about myself (like how my patience on the 3rd week of my cycle is dangerously low, but chocolate helps me cope).

But, the whole point of learning is to share your new knowledge, right? I’m pretty sure that’s the point. Hence the recommendations on the fruit snacks. I don’t do that for my health. No, really, I don’t. What I forgot to mention is those delicious little cuties are 80 calories per shot (I dump them into my mouth all at once like a shot) and unfortunately the scale reflects that.


As you may have noticed, I’m a big sharer of information. A lot of times, I’m a big sharer of too much information. Just ask my mom. Also, just ask my Twitter followers, and my husband, and my coworkers and that guy at Trader Joes last Wednesday. I’m sorry to all of you. But, I can’t help it. I hear something I think is interesting or “helpful”, and I share it. It’s called “advice”, look it up. Just kidding. But really, I think I do it because it’s how I prefer to learn. Hearing firsthand accounts from other people is pretty much how I know all of the things I know. From facts about UFOs to the best baby bottles, it’s wild, but true. I think it’s a millennial thing.

I remember when I was pregnant and my husband was reading a parenting book. I was so annoyed with him. Why would he read a book? Why couldn’t he just ask his cousin or mom or aunts about what it feels like when your mucus plug falls out or which nipple balm to use for breastfeeding? It seemed pretty easy to me. I get it now. That is how he prefers to learn. He’s fact based. He’s data driven. He’s….he’s smarter than me. Don’t tell him I said that.

I’m really thankful for all the learning I’ve been able to do over the past few years. Which really has nothing to do with me and everything to do with someone like you. I’m really thankful for all of the teaching people have done for me over the past few years. All of the people who have shared their experiences and their knowledge, especially about parenthood. All of it, and I mean all of it, has helped me so much on this ~*journey*~. From my best friend and I comparing pregnancies and the emotions that came with them, to my mom telling me how she felt the first time she looked at her first baby (no brag, but that was me!), to the stranger on the internet telling me which sleep sack helped her fussy baby sleep longer hours through the night. I took all of that information and advice and stored it away until I needed it. And sure enough, I have needed ALL of it at some point in time. I’m sure there’s some still shoved into the deepest parts of my brain (right next to my locker combo from 8th grade) that I haven’t needed yet, but will soon, and I’m so glad it’s there.

So, thank you, fellow oversharers. I’m so glad you told me about what kinds of pads to use after giving birth or how often to take the stool softeners. You might not know it, but you really saved my ass.


What was the best parenthood advice you’ve ever gotten? Share it below!

Friday Shorty

Hey everyone!

If you’re reading this, you survived the week. Good job, I’m proud of you. If you’re reading this in the morning, I hope your coffee is the *perfect* temperature for sipping. If it’s the evening, I hope your glass of white wine is so chilled that your glass is starting to sweat. And if you’re reading this at that awkward time in the afternoon where you’re not sure if you should go get a coffee or just start drinking wine, honey, I think you already know the answer. Go with Rosé, be basic. We love it.

I’m keeping today’s story short. Very short. A “shawty”, if you will. Full disclosure, I went looking for the rapper who coined the term “shawty” and stumbled upon this random ass article written by a high schooler for the Burlington County Times! While the source of such an article was a bit startling, I love the dedication to research and I feel more connected to the youth than ever before, which is important to me. Enjoy! (After you read this post, of course!)

Back to the story. You know, the one that was supposed to be short, and then I got distracted by the word…”short”? Yeesh. I pulled this story from my Twitter account. My Twitter account, right or wrong, is my online diary. I use it too often and share too much, but it’s therapeutic, so please, stop your judging. And because I use Twitter too often, I thought it would be fun to share some of those thoughts here, much like I do on my Instagram account. Why not share the madness a little bit further into the internet? My kids will be so proud when they find this in 20 years.

Maybe it’s because I’m entering the 3rd week of my cycle and I tend to get annoyingly philosophical during that time, or maybe it’s because I’m getting older and maturity has snuck up on me and taken up residence in the part of my brain that was saving useless knowledge, like the lyrics to all of the songs on the Savage Garden CD or the combination to my locker in 8th grade. Regardless of the reason, I’ve been thinking about the things that really matter lately. The things we can touch and feel and hug. The people and the places and the experiences that matter. The other stuff? It’s just that. Distracting, shiny…STUFF.

The other day while out for a jog. Okay, walk. I was walking. I came to a realization…

(Story pulled from my Twitter account (@koshiz):

There’s an older man that lives on my walking route and I always see him outside with his pup. I have always just assumed he was living alone because he’s the only one I ever see. Now, I don’t know about you, but that makes me sad. I hold a special place in my heart for older people. They’ve done some stuff and they’ve seen some stuff and they deserve only happiness! Anyway, the other evening while I was out for my walk, I noticed the older man was setting stuff out for a garage sale. My heart sank. I used the information I was given and I decided he was finally selling all of his wife’s stuff and making room for all of his collections of war stuff and bowling trophies, as men of any age do when their wives pass away.

I thought about him all night. I felt so bad for him, I mean, he was certainly lonely living in that house with his Goldendoodle that barks too much, right? So, the next day, I braced myself as I was getting ready to turn the corner to his house. My heart couldn’t stand the thought of seeing him sit there in an old lawn chair selling all of his wife’s Avon perfumes and floral blouses. So, you can imagine how shocked I was when I saw his FULLY ALIVE wife sitting next to him! Sitting there in a God damn floral blouse! I couldn’t believe it. I was so happy. Literally so happy I actually cried.

I had become so invested in this man’s story (which I completely made up based on little fact and shows I’ve seen on NBC, cough THIS IS US, cough) that I cried. For all I know, those two people were newlyweds selling all of her loser ex-husband’s shit to help pay for a honeymoon to Hawaii!

Anyway. The moral of the story is: don’t assume, it can cause you grief you don’t need in your life. And grief, especially unnecessary grief, isn’t any fun at all.

The other moral, and this may be even more important than the first: It’s totally fine to stay inside in the air conditioning and let your husband do all of the outside chores. In fact, you might just make someone’s day when you decide to waddle your old ass outside again.

The end.



So, that’s the post. Pretty short, right? No? Sorry. Twitter makes us keep it short. It’s like they don’t even CARE that we are long winded and get caught up in the details. Pretty rude, yet effective. I’m an assumer, so I’m going to take my own advice. If for no other reason, I think in the long run, it’ll help with the wrinkles, and at this point, I’ll try anything.

I hope you have a great weekend. If you catch yourself assuming, knock it off. You’re too cool for that shit.

Cringetown, USA


Do you ever cringe when you think about something you’ve said or done? I do it all the time. On the conservative side, I’d say probably 10-15 times a day. My brain really just serves as a catalog of awkward encounters or embarrassing displays I’ve put on over the years, with the occasional movie quote sprinkled here and there. Conveniently for me, this means I have plenty of material to reflect on anytime I’m just trying to have a nice, quiet moment to myself. Thanks, brain.

If you’re thinking, “oh, it can’t be that bad!”, let me introduce you to a few highlights my memory enjoys torturing me with constantly:

This One Time At Bible Camp: 
It was the summer before 5th grade and my parents sent me off to Bible Camp. I straight up did not have a good time and obsessively called home every single day, using 1-800-Collect like some sort of inmate who swore by their innocence, and BEGGED to be picked up. I faked wasp stings, I invented illnesses, I was awful to my camp counselor. I was cringey as hell. AND I didn’t get picked up early? Mom.

Kissing Cousins:
Long story short, a hug went wrong at a family member’s graduation party and I accidentally brushed lips with a much older, unnamed second cousin. I didn’t even have any alcohol in my system to soften the blow. Cringe level 100%

College:
No specific incident, just, the whole time in general. Every interaction. In fact, to this day, I can’t even look a person who I attended college with in the eye without giving a general apology for my behavior first. I was a real…handful. The whole college experience, one big cringe. 

So, now that you feel better about yourself. Let’s move on.

In life, we have so many versions of ourselves. Heck, in one short phase of life we can have multiple versions of ourselves. That’s what it’s all about, right? Changing and evolving as life throws different challenges and banana peels your way. We have to do what we have to do. Sometimes that means looking back and not loving some of the versions of ourselves we once were. Again, I have plenty of examples, but I’ve given you enough for today. I need you to remember me as the angelic, pure, hilarious, beautiful version that I am today…*coughs*…right? JUST KIDDING. Stop!

I have found, however, that I’ve landed on a version of myself that I can truly get down with. I’m sure there are a lot of factors that go into this version of me, but I know without a doubt, the biggest ingredient to the recipe, is the big M. 

MASKS…they hide all of the…wait no, that’s not right.

MOTHERHOOD. That’s it, there we go! Motherhood. I’m a mom and I love being a mom. I love that I’ve been forced to do the hard stuff. I love that I have people who need me. I love that I’ve found a version of myself that I can look back on and not have any moments I actually cringe about. Now, do not misinterpret that for me saying motherhood is easy and beautiful and perfect OR that motherhood is the only job that requires these skills. I am absolutely and would never (are you kidding me?) say that. I had to endure chapped nipples, wear an actual diaper and lose half of my hair to earn this title, but, I am saying I would never look back, even on the hardest days, and cringe. This shit right here? It’s hard. Any decision, action, word or thought I’ve had as a parent represents growth in one way or another, and growth should never be cringed at. Remember that, please, for yourself and when you catch a glimpse of a fellow parent during a moment of weakness.

So, yeah. This version of myself does love being a mom. But, there was a version of myself, LONG before (and to be honest, NOT so long before) kids where I did not want to do it. I didn’t want to do it for the same reason I currently don’t want to run a marathon. I knew it would test me mentally, it would definitely push me physically, there’s a good chance I could shit my pants in the middle of it, and worst of all…I could fail.

But, here we are. Two kids and a raging case of baby fever later, and I love it. I love that it tests me mentally every day and I’ve had to think of creative ways to replace curse words in sentences, I look at a body in the mirror I don’t really recognize and KNOW it’s pushed me physically, I am extremely proud to say I haven’t shit my pants….yet and I continue to fail…and grow, daily. I am not saying it’s for everyone, but it’s definitely for me, and I’m so proud of the version I am today because of it.

So, while there still may be some people from college that I owe apologies to (requests for said apologies can be sent to itissalmon@gmail.com), I know that unless I drink a bottle of UV Blue and have access to a Motorola Razr, I won’t have too many cringey moments in the near future, and I can thank motherhood for that.

A Story About a Dog

Dogs, man. They’re great.

I’ve always been a dog person. It’s actually one of my better qualities. Quite honestly, at the risk of sounding like one of those stupid tshirts you see on Instagram, I really do think there are two kinds of people in this world: dog people and wrong people. Don’t get mixed up with wrong people, they probably prefer How I Met Your Mother over Friends and say “dinner” instead of “supper”. Yikes. Gotta watch out for them.

Back to dogs. I have a personal theory that millennials like myself (no brag), who were assigned to read “Where the Red Fern Grows” in high school English class hold dogs at a higher regard than maybe anyone else. First of all, it’s never fun being assigned a reading lesson, but that’s life, right? But this one feels different! It’s about dogs, so it must be good. We start reading a few pages and BAM, we’re hooked. It’s a light-hearted read about a boy and his pups, this is great, wholesome, even. We can get into this, no biggie and OHMYGOD. What? Why? Those poor dogs were put through the ringer and that boy? He saw some shit to say the very least. When we finally put that book down and wiped our tears, we were left with some light trauma and a newfound respect for our own little ankle biters. We often wondered, if ever put in the situation, would our own pets risk their furry little lives for us? Probably not, but maybe. Dogs, man. They’re great!

If you’ve stuck with me this far, you may be wondering to yourself, “is she really just going to go on and on about dogs?”, and the answer is yes, yes I am. Something has been pulling at my heart lately, and that is the memory of my sweet pup, Lulu. So, I think I need to tell you about her and what she meant to me. So, this is a story about a dog.

The year was 2017…just kidding I’m not going to be that dramatic. But, really, it was 2017 and my husband, Geoff and I had finally decided after a few years of marriage, and many boozy weekends full of late nights and random plans, we were going to start a family. For so long it had just been the two of us, and our good boy, Bash. One morning, with shaking hands covered in my own urine, holding a stick made of plastic, I excitedly gave Geoff the news, we were pregnant. We were thrilled, we were going to be parents, and there was SO much to look forward to. And then as quickly as our excitement came, sadness knocked on the door and let itself in to settle deep in our bones. Fate had other plans, and our hearts were broken. It’s a helpless feeling, and I’m sure many of you reading this are familiar with it.

To distract myself, I put my energy into work and ran the occasional online “dog search” at the local shelters in the area…ya know, just to browse. During one of these harmless browsing sessions, one little white dog named Lily caught my attention. She looked familiar to me. First, because she was another Clumber Spaniel, just like Bash, and second because I had seen her a few different times in the months prior and even filled out a form to meet her, but had heard nothing. Apparently, this little dog didn’t always have the best attitude and had found herself in and out of several homes over the past months and was back at the shelter. Seeing her this time felt different for some reason, and I immediately scheduled a time to go meet her. And meet her I did. She cowered in her cage, her white fur stained from not letting anyone get close enough to give her the attention she needed. She had an unsure look in her eye and immediately growled at my husband. I was sold. She was going to be mine. After a successful meeting with Bash, Lulu got to come home to her forever home. As they handed over her leash, the people at the shelter warned me several times that she didn’t have a great attitude, didn’t love men, would occasionally growl and informed me the reason for being sent back to the shelter from ONE of the several homes was for an attempted bite. GREAT.

But, this dog and I, for whatever reason, I’ll call it fate, bonded immediately. She loved me and I loved her. I really believe we were meant to meet. Every minute she could spend close to me, she would. She couldn’t ever quite get close enough to me, it seemed. She’d nuzzle in and nestle into me, almost like she was trying to find that sad feeling that was buried deep and pull it out of me. Again with the drama, I know, but it was true. She’d get SO excited when I’d come home from work, that she’d drop her ass wherever she was and pee out of pure joy. I quickly learned that using sweet baby talk with her upon entering the house only made this worse, so I had to resort to a monotone “oh, hello”, like how two men during a business deal would greet one another.

Never in her short life had she gotten the kind of attention she received at our house. She had a playmate and companion in Bash, someone to truly love her and give her time and patience in me, and someone to growl at for absolutely no reason in my husband. I loved every side of her and was so happy to be able to give her the warm bed, the treats and the attention she (and every dog) deserved.

A few months later, we were pregnant again. This time, with our sweet boy, Hayes. I think she knew it even before I did. Instead of me trying to calm her nerves like I had been doing for months, she stepped in and helped calm mine. She distracted me and helped me focus on the good. She was becoming more gentle and more curious as my body grew. The night before we left to meet our precious boy, I sat her and Bash both in my lap and told them what good dogs they were. I thanked Lulu especially for healing something inside of me and distracting me from the hurt I had felt before I met her. She had helped me in so many ways and I felt lucky to have been given the chance to help her, too.

She was skeptical to say the least when we brought Hayes home, but warmed up quickly. She let him crawl and poke and pick when he started to get older, and bless her heart, only lost her patience with him a couple times. On walks, she’d act protective of him. I don’t know how many little kids that pup almost took out, but thankfully, my reflexes were still pretty quick at that time, and no children were harmed.

A day before Hayes’ first birthday, we found out we were pregnant again. Again, nerves entered, but I felt more confident this time. I didn’t know how we were going to raise two babies and two dogs in our home, but I knew we would figure it out. We were a big team and we were just about to add another teammate.

A week before our second baby, Cash, was born, something was different in Lulu. She was still happy, but had slowed down, and I could tell she just didn’t feel good. We took her in and our vet just wasn’t sure what was going on. Determined to find an answer, we took her to another vet, and again, nobody was really quite sure. I was days from bringing home my second baby, but all I could think about was this dog who was so important to me. We had her admitted and I’d spend my lunch hours going to see her. I held her and kissed her and told her I needed her to come home, but something in her eyes told me to prepare myself. A couple more days and still there was no improvement, and it was time to make the hardest decision my husband and I have ever had to make. The day before we said “hello” to our newest member of our family, we were going to have to say “goodbye” to another member. The timing felt lazy, like whoever had written this into the plan didn’t really think it through and I was so angry. I spent some time with her that day, and again, she nestled in so close to me. I swear I felt her tell me it was okay. The job she had come to do was over and it was okay that I let her go.

Saying goodbye to her reminded me of the sadness I felt in months prior to meeting her, but something was different this time. The sadness had a sense of peace with it. She was gone, but I still felt her, almost as if she was just on the other side of an invisible curtain. Some days, I still feel her and I’m reminded of how great she was. I may have taught her how to “sit”, “roll over” and “don’t pee on the carpet, please, please, please”, but that little shelter dog taught me patience, calmness and unconditional love. She prepared me to be a mother. And I’ll forever be grateful for that.

Dogs, man. They’re great.

Only Judy Can Judge Me

“It’s fine, I’m still cool. It’s COOL to care about your health!”, I told myself earlier today as I Googled “best colon cleansers 2021” knowing full well I am in fact, NOT cool. It’s alright, though. I have other redeeming qualities that nobody can take away from me, like how to do the Cupid Shuffle and knowing most of the lyrics to “Regulators”. It’s fine.

It’s kind of wild how fast it happens. One minute you’re in the know with all things pop culture, rattling off the names of celebrity couples, eating in the newest restaurants in town and making playlists of the top pop hits and the next minute the only couple you can name is Melissa & Doug, you’re picking macaroni out of your hair while eating your toddler’s last cold chicken nugget, and the only songs you know are the title tracks from your kids’ favorite cartoons (Puppy Dog Pals on repeat). Life comes at you fast, but that parental out-of-touch fog comes faster.

I remember how judgey I used to be about parents before I was one. The first time I saw a kid on a tablet while out to eat with his parents, I rolled my eyes and judged quietly to myself. Any time I saw or heard a child throwing a fit in Target, I felt so bad for the little nugget, as Target is a vacation destination and no place for unevolved little humans. After having kids, though, everything changed. Aside from the new set of long boobs I left the hospital with, the built in fanny pack with all of the storage, but none of the zippers, accompanied by the absolutely no sleep thing, an empathy switch was flipped and I saw everything, and I mean everything, through a new lens. After I became a parent, and I was walking through life questioning literally every decision I was making, I remembered back to that kid at the restaurant with the tablet and I remember CLEARLY, he wasn’t making a peep. Just eyeballs deep in an episode of Paw Patrol letting his parents enjoy a nice fried cheese appetizer and each other’s company. Those kids throwing fits in Target no longer receive any of my sympathy, because all it goes to their parent, who is just trying to browse the Hearth and Home by Magnolia section without their offspring losing their damn minds over not being able to take a sip of the gallon of milk that’s riding shot gun with them in the cart. Parenting, friends, ain’t no walk in the park. And even if it were, I would still tell you to bring along some type of mobile device loaded with cartoons, because sometimes walks in the park are even hard.

Even after I became a mom and dismounted from my high horse, I still sometimes felt myself acting a little too cocky. I remember vividly being out in public about a year ago (when being in public was still a thing you could do) and hearing a mom having a sweet and calm conversation with her son that went something like this: “Look what I got you, Henry! It’s a behavior chart!” And while I can’t be positive, I’m pretty sure I heard little Henry say, “Oh, wow, f*ckin gweat”, under his breath. I honestly didn’t blame him. A behavior chart. Ha! What kind of absolute deviant would need one of those to keep them under control and what kind of parent would believe it would actually work?

Me. That’s who. And while the behavior chart I’m using is actually just a calendar from the dollar section at Target with a bunch of stars a couple sad faces drawn on with crayon, it’s a behavior chart nonetheless. Toddlers, man. I guess since shock collars are frowned upon/illegal, behavior charts are the next best thing. I never saw myself as a behavior chart mom, but I’m kind of loving it. Not only is it humbling, but, being the behavior chart owner gives a sense of power, and who doesn’t love that? 10/10 would recommend becoming a behavior chart mom, because apparently Henry’s mom knew what she was talking about and those things work. I think about her often and about what a jerk I was for thinking she was nuts.

After last week’s blog, I felt relieved to get a lot of that off my chest. I felt renewed, like I had just gone to confession, except I’m not Catholic and the only experience I have with Catholic confession is what I’ve seen on the movies, and those usually end up a little spicy, so maybe it wasn’t like that at all. I heard a lot of great feedback from a lot of great people letting me know they’ve been going through it, too, which served as another great reminder to leave the judging to Judy. Or God. Judge Judy and God, they’re really the only two you can trust. Regardless, just think twice. Trade in that high horse for a more practical ride, like a Keep Your Comments to Yourself Cadillac or a You Just Wait Yukon. Okay, those are a stretch, but you get what I mean.

Well, that’s enough out of me for this evening. If anyone has a good colon cleanse they can send my way, just holla atcha girl!

Xo
Mackenzie

It’s Been Awhile

Oh, hi there! I’m sorry I’m late. I’ve just been making memes on Instagram and tweeting my way through a pandemic trying not to lose my shit. How are you?

But, really, hi. You may or may not have noticed I haven’t posted in quite some time. Sorry about that. The last post I made, in fact, I typed while tethered to a breast pump from my lactation room at work before the world shut down. I was full of enthusiasm, hope, positivity and milk. Like, so full of milk.

A lot has happened since the last time I posted, actually. For instance, Tom Hanks got Covid, Kim Jong Un died, I got Covid, Kim Jong Un didn’t die, I worked from home, murder hornets tried really hard to become a thing, I went back to work, there were protests, there was an election, there were more protests, someone trademarked the term “maskne” before I could get to it, I bought a new bra, my oldest turned 2 (and is now almost 3), my youngest turned 1, Clare & Dale ruined The Bachelor, I went back to wearing my old bra and I finally got to use the phrase, “okay, fine, but it’s going to have to be part of your Christmas present!”. Big things, really! I really shouldn’t wait so long the next time, huh?

In reality, I started this blog because I wanted to learn, share and even dish out a little advice about parenting and life as I go along. But, and this may surprise you, after a once in a lifetime pandemic took over the world, I quickly realized I had no advice to give. None. I was just out here trying to survive, keep my family healthy and not drink every single night. I’m still working on that last part, actually, but that’s beside the point. Sure, I joked my way through this pandemic like I do most serious situations that I’m too uncomfortable to face head on, (I acknowledge this toxic trait, yes, thank you for asking). But, I’d be lying if I said I was a lucky one who didn’t struggle over the past year of this shit show. For someone who always has something to say about whatever it is that’s happening (at least, that’s what my mom always told me), I was at a complete loss of what to say or do. There were days when I knew there were decisions to be made, but I couldn’t bring myself to make them, or even entertain the thought of them without having a melt down that would put my toddlers to shame. On the rare occasion I did make a decision, I was convinced I had made the wrong one. Like the day I sent my kids to daycare when I KNEW I needed to get some work done at home without four sticky yet adorable little hands trying to play tug of war with the cord of my laptop, only to be met with a wave of guilt and driving to pick them up two hours later. Or the day one 5 minute trip to the post office sent me into a tailspin because I was positive I had picked up this new deadly virus from one of the dorks who didn’t understand the rules of the post office and made me breathe his stupid air for 30 seconds. I’m sure I made some sarcastic tweet about these experiences, but in reality, I was very quickly losing my shit. THESE are only a couple of the reasons I didn’t blog. I didn’t know what to say or what to do or what to tell anyone else, except for “what the fuck?”. I know now that most of us are in the same boat, I believe it’s named the S.S. Not Real Fuckin’ Sure, and we are slowly, but surely, making our way to shore. I hope there is wine there.

All of that is to say, I think I was afraid of what would have come out if I sat down to type out my feelings during the last year. It’s a lot easier to look back and see that things were getting a little hairy than to identify it in the moment. I guess there were a few signs, though, like the morning I was walking my recycling to the curb listening to the beautiful sound of my wind chimes carry across the neighborhood, when I realized I didn’t have wind chimes and I was actually hearing dozens of wine bottles clink together in the bottom of bin. That was pretty telling. Or the time I fell asleep on my son’s bedroom floor in the middle of a work from home day missing several calls from my boss and coworkers. Yeah. It’s easy to see now that things weren’t going great.

Although I wasn’t lucky enough to dodge all of the mind games and mental side effects that come with a pandemic, I’m lucky I found my way out of the hole I was in and that the hole wasn’t very deep. I’m lucky that I was able to go back to work in a safe environment and send my kids back to daycare where they’re so well taken care of. I’m lucky that I have a husband who does more than his fair share. I’m lucky that I channeled what was left of my sense of humor into a way of getting through the tough times. I also know there are people who weren’t so lucky. People who have lost, and people who feel lost, and people whose holes were a lot deeper than mine. I extend my ear and heart to those people. These are tricky, scary and wild times. There’s a lot to be scared of, but there’s even more to look forward to, I honestly believe that. So, if you need an ear, some heart, or even someone to just lower some rope to help pull you out of that hole you’re in, you just holler, because we need you up here, and we’ve got shit to do.

Wow. That was long. Did it even make sense? Not sure, but words are words and that’s all I can do right now.

That being said, I’ve decided to put aside some time each week for this blog again. It’s time to tweet less and write more. Let’s be honest, I’ll still be tweeting, it’s an illness. This decision to blog more wasn’t a new year resolution, because those just aren’t for me. Call me anti-tradition, but I don’t really trust resolutions I make for myself at 10:30 pm on new year’s eve after I’m two seltzers and half a bottle of champagne in. And don’t even come at me about planning those resolutions ahead of time. I’m a mom of two boys two years old and younger, so I clearly am not great at “planning”. I don’t have any new advice to share, but if Twitter has taught me anything about myself, it’s that I’m good at sharing everything, even the things my boss, who follows me, probably doesn’t want to know.

So, it sounds like I’ll see you next week? Same place? Little joke there, nobody is going anywhere.

xo
Mackenzie

Fool’s Spring

FoolsSpring

Congratulations, everyone. We’ve made it! 

March is finally here and the telltale signs of Spring are all around us. The rising temperatures, the chirping robins, my weirdo neighbor doing laps around the hood on his electric skateboard and the swimsuits being placed 2 feet from the entrance of Target remind us that it’s about to get springy up in here. That being said, someone really should let them know that putting those flimsy suits that close to the entrance is a great way to lose good, loyal, chubby customers like myself. 

Spring just has a way of making us all feel a little better, doesn’t it? As a kid Spring brought the promise of outside recess and the chance to totally reinvent yourself during Spring photos, especially if the photos taken in the Fall didn’t exactly caption your true essence. Spring photos were special and they gave you the chance to be your best self and even better, gave you the opportunity to provide any prop that helped really drive that message home. For example, if you were a sporty girl, you could bring a basketball! A studious, yet edgy boy, you could bring a stack of Goosebumps books! But, if you were a bad ass with a bitchin’ haircut,  you’d wear a Pocahontas track suit and bring your Maltese with the worst grooming job this side of the Mississippi to really show the world that you’re here to tear things up. Not like I’m speaking from experience or anything.

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As an adult, it’s much more simple. The days are finally starting to get longer and I don’t know about you, but I’m about ready to put away the fleece, the flannel and the sweaters and go out lookin’ for some D! (Vitamin D, that is.) Speaking of…ahem…the D, I recently received a text from a lady who hosted one of THOSE parties which I attended back in college. For those of you who either aren’t good at math or are in as much denial as I am about my age, that’s been like 10 years ago. And for those of you who have no idea about the kind of shindig I’m referring to, I’m talking about a Pure Romance party. Basically, a network marketing situation that sells kinky stuff, like “toys” that require AAA batteries as well as flavored water based lubricants.

KY? Because we gotta!

Anyway, the text was something along the lines of “Hi Mackenzie, it’s “Sally” from Pure Romance! We are running a flash sale and I wondered if you needed to stock up on anything?!”. First of all, Sal, great job keeping that list of leads warm for 10+ years, I salute you. Second of all, I have two children under 2, have worn only full coverage undergarments for years and have a preferred bedtime of 8 pm, so no, I do not need to “stock up”, but thank you for asking! In fact, the only thing getting spanked tonight is my beloved Iowa Hawkeyes basketball team, and honestly, that’s just sad.

But, back to business. What was I rambling about? The weather? Oh yes, Spring! Take it from me, nothing can take away the bliss an early Spring day brings like the distant sound of f bombs being dropped by your husband as he tries his best to blindly assemble the brand new double stroller you just spent too much money on. If there are any single ladies reading this, please make sure you know how your man is going to behave while putting together furniture, strollers, or even toys from your Pure Romance parties before you let him put a ring on it. Could be a real deal breaker if you’re not careful. JUST KIDDING. Although he loses his shit here and there, my husband is one of the good ones and he puts up with a lot. Also, hi, have I introduced myself lately? My name is A lot. He takes care of the important stuff, like the bills and the taxes and even answers the doorbell when it rings, (although the jury is still out on whether or not that is a good quality or not). Can you believe that? The doorbell rings. He answers. Just like that! My brain almost can’t process it, especially because I have one hard and fast rule in my life, and that’s to never answer the doorbell when it rings. Why, you ask? Serial killers, that’s why.

My husband, or as I like to call him, Geoff, is a good guy. And although he’s an ISU fan and sometimes forgets I’m a beautiful goddess who deserves to be complimented every hour on the hour, he’s very responsible, very tall, very handsome and maybe most importantly, doesn’t judge me when he catches a glimpse of my nips after a good pump session, which is really saying something. We started officially dating a million years ago in the Spring, so this time of year always makes me reflect on just how far we’ve come. It’s like, really far.

His job does require quite a bit of traveling, which can be hard, but it makes it that much sweeter once he gets home, especially when he comes home bearing treats like Canadian candy bars (whatchu putting in your chocolate, Canada?!). You know that saying about absence making things grow harder? (Right??) Well, it’s true. I recently compared my behavior when he arrives home to that of a drunk college girl, doing stuff like yelling “YOU WANNNA EGG SANAWICH” from the kitchen while sipping wine and flirting with two other boys to make him super jealous. The boys are our sons, but still. I think it works.

I don’t know when this turned into a husband appreciation post, but somehow it did and I’m just going to roll with it. And not JUST because I want him to buy me new teeth when mine inevitably all fall out due to me not doing my research and starting Smile Direct Club without a care in the world, but because he’s a good man who works hard and loves his family harder. Maybe it’s the warmer weather or all the talk of raspberry flavored lube that’s got me feeling this way, but I’m just really glad I’ve got a man who is generous enough to share his airline points and life with me, and that’s that.

Til next time.

Xoxo,
Mackenzie

 

Tots Out Tuesday

TitsOutTuesdayHeaderThe other day, as I was sitting in the Wellness Room at work trying my hardest to draft a serious email while simultaneously working to beat my PR of pumping 10 ounces at a time, I realized two things.

1) Women are multi-tasking goddesses that should be applauded every time we enter a room.

and

2) I probably need to put a piece of tape over my webcam because becoming a video star on the Russian dark web as “Funny Looking Fembot” is not at all how I intend to become famous.

Pumping at work is weird, there’s no way around that. You go into the only room with a lock to “do your thing” and everyone knows exactly what you’re doing. It’s weird. I will say though, pumping at work is the safest place to do it. I can say that with confidence because I’ve pumped everywhere. I’ve pumped in the infield of an IndyCar Series race just feet away from speeding cars, the Iowa State Fair just feet away from the bore with the big, well, you know, and maybe the scariest of all, in the parking lot of a Walmart. Pumping at work is even safer than home, because, well, I’m just going to come right out and say it, I fell asleep pumping the other night and not to sound dramatic, but the damage is still being assessed.

So, although pumping at work is a little awkward, there IS something about drafting an important email while tethered to a Medela Pump In Style Advanced that gives me a sense of power. Like, real POWER. Now, I realize anyone who receives emails from me on the reg may be worried that I’ve done it topless, laughing maniacally as I fill up a couple milk bags, but NO. Don’t worry, I only write emails to people I’ve either never met or simply just don’t like.

But the Wellness Room isn’t ALL about writing emails. Sometimes it’s taking a peek at my social media feeds, more specifically the dumpster fire that is Twitter. I’ve always loved it, but I spent A LOT of time on Twitter during maternity leave using it as a diary of sorts to record my nonstop stream of consciousness. It helped my postpartum mom brain in a strange way, which is cool. All of my random thoughts live on Twitter, the good, the weird, all of them, which just means there will be plenty of content for the media to dig through when I finally decide to cut the crap and run for political office or Miss America *hair toss*.
So, while I love Twitter and the friends I’ve made there, there are parts of it I just don’t explore and never want to. It’s kind of like an “everything the light touches” situation, but with the internet, yaknowimean? But sometimes, those dark parts creep into my timeline where they just don’t belong. For instance, I recently learned the hard way that Tuesdays can get especially wild over there, because of a little trend called… and I’m truly sorry in advance for what I’m about to type, #TitsOutTuesday. YOU GUYS! It’s a THING and some people take it very seriously, anxiously looking forward to Tuesday and NEVER missing an appointment. Remember when I mentioned my webcam earlier? I wasn’t joking. Imagine my utter confusion when, on what seemed like a regular old Tuesday, I’m minding my own business just pumpin’ and scrollin’ and BAM, I’m nose to nip with a pair of boobies that looked like they were rode hard and put up wet. Underneath those ol’ girls was the hashtag “#T*TS OUT TUESDAY”! I thought I was being pranked. I also thought it was quite the coincidence that I was being served up such relatable content as I sat there slowly covering up the girls, Gladys and Beverly, with a torn in half paper towel. I work in marketing and I know how these things work. I also know where the electrical type is and will be putting it to good use very soon.

A few blog posts ago, I mentioned that I don’t often offer advice because I’m no expert on any one topic, but the tape advice is some I’d probably take. Thanks to my self-deprecating sense of humor, nobody is probably looking to get advice from me anyway, which I’m cool with. But, I mean, I’m not dumb. I know some things. For instance, I know that if you say “I deserve this” you can pretty much get away with doing whatever you want. As an example, if you’ve just HAD it and need a little something to take the edge off at 10 am on a Saturday, pop a bottle, take a sip and say confidently, “I DESERVE THIS”. It now becomes against the law for anyone to give you any shit about your decision.
Another favorite move of mine is to refer to glutinous behavior as “self-care”. Say you bought your children Valentine’s Day candy that just so happens to be your favorite. The infant is too young to eat said candy and the toddler probably shouldn’t because, I don’t know, bedtime? As if by witchcraft those candy bars magically transform from regular Snickers to SELF-CARE SNICKERS and you deserve them. See? It’s easy. I know some stuff.

Well, I hate to cut things short, but I had better get going. I’ve got a date with the Medela I just can’t miss. I also need to find my electrical tape.

Til next time!

xo

Mackenzie