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.

SchoolPic
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

 

 

 

The Final Countdown

FinalCountdownToday, while I was online shopping for some new outfits for work, bitterly pressing the “add to cart” button while a single tear ran down my cheek because the clothes were a size larger than I usually wear, it really hit me that I’ll be heading back to the office next week. Normally, I would have no problem dropping some coin on a cute little number that is easy to take off, but for a completely different reason than using my breast pump at work. Sidenote, can we talk about how breastfeeding/pumping is not the “cheaper option” everyone says it is when you have to spend your life savings on new tops that accommodate your larger bacon hangers? UGH. Anyway, like I was saying, the feeling of heading back is undoubtedly very bittersweet. Returning to work means no more sitting on the couch for 2 hour periods staring into my sweet baby’s face while I hold him. No more middle of the day Target runs, chatting with my favorite cashier about how she doesn’t need a husband, because she just bought a candle that smells like a REAL MAN. No more binge watching Netflix shows about murder or baking (they go hand in hand). It’s all gone so fast! Was it really only 11 weeks ago that I was wearing an adult diaper? Only 10 weeks ago that I was able to transition to wearing a pad the size of a futon? Only 9 weeks ago that I took a vow to only wear “granny panties” for the rest of eternity?! I guess it’s like they always say, time flies when you’re sporting Depends. 

Ah, maternity leave, you were a good time and I’ll miss you. I won’t complain (too much) that it’s over because I, unlike a lot of new parents, was fortunate enough to have been granted my request to spend 12 weeks at home with my beautiful boys. We’ve just entered our last week and I can honestly say, it’s been a rollercoaster. It’s been beautiful and ugly and hard and so much fun and so depressing and perfect. I’ll tell you what it hasn’t been, though. A VACATION. I recently read a short post by a working mom that sums it up perfectly, and I encourage you to read it too: READ ME. So, let me say it a little louder for those in the back: MATERNITY LEAVE IS NOT A VACATION. If anything, it’s more like college spring break! The beginning is a blur, and all I really remember is some hot guy running around in his underwear in the middle of the night and the police coming to the door because the smoke alarms wouldn’t stop going off. The middle is when you start to get used to your new surroundings and think, “I could stay here forever!!” and the end is filled with regret around the things you didn’t get to do while you were gone, but you’re a little ready to get back to your routine. None of this includes a beach or fruity drinks, though. So maybe it’s not like spring break at all. 

It’s insane that there are humans out there that view this time as anything other than REALLY hard work. Do people really think moms on maternity leave spend their time away from the office jackin’ around and getting facials? I mean, if you count sticking my face in the dishwasher immediately after it finishes running and letting my face absorb the steam while I maniacally grab for bottle parts to feed my screaming baby, then yes, I get facials several times a week. 

While I’m on my soapbox, let me take a second to give a shout out to stay-at-home moms and daycare providers. I honestly don’t have a clue how you do it. Just last week as I was listening to the baby scream at the top of his lungs and witnessing the toddler swan diving out of his crib onto the hard floor, I contemplated if 9 am was too early for vodka and finally decided once and for all that I’m not cut out for that kind of work. It’s too tough for me, mentally, physically and financially. Financially because of the wine habit I would almost certainly develop, and I have expensive taste. So, cheers to you ladies and all you do, both for your own kids and for mine. You da real mvp’s. 

While I’m excited to go back and get to work, I’m also a little nervous. While 12 weeks feels like a short time to be home with my baby, 12 weeks away from the office is a very long time. Do I just waltz back in there pretending to be the same person I was when I left? I’m not the same person, I’ve changed! Mostly because I watch cartoons 16 hours a day and my brain has melted a bit. Needless to say, the scary thoughts are swarming. When I go back will I be as creative as I (thought I) was before? Will I accidentally refer to myself in the third person as “mama” during a client meeting (again)? Will I be judged because I didn’t lose this baby weight as fast as I did the first time? As I was doing my daily “Naked Captain Morgan” in front of the mirror the other day, I gave this bod a real long gaze, and YIKES. Wait, you don’t know what the “Naked Captain Morgan” is? It’s that position you get into when you’re naked and have one foot on the floor and one foot up on the toilet as you apply your body lotion. It can be a real scary process if you aren’t ready for it, so I suggest taking a big swig of your finest scotch beforehand if you’re trying it for the first time. ANYWAY. I’m sure going back to work will be fine. In fact, becoming a mom of two HAS improved my multi-tasking skills. Just ask the coach bus full of people who witnessed me breast-pumping while eating a chicken sandwich as I drove 78 mph down Interstate 80 yesterday. It’s fine. Plus, I’m lucky to work where I work and have long been accepted as the “crazy” one amongst my coworkers, so if nothing else, I have that going for me. 

So, while maternity leave was no vacation by any stretch, it was a beautiful time spent at home with my boys. A time to heal, both mentally and physically. A time to bond. A time to laugh and to cry and to nitpick the shit out of all of the locally made commercials I saw on TV 80 times a day – (I’ve got opinions, folks). Wish me luck this week, because I’m going to need it, especially if all of those clothes I ordered online don’t show up.

Til next time! Xoxo

Mackenzie

 

I Get So Emotional, Baby

SoEmotionalHormones, man. They’re really something. They make us laugh, they make us cry (sometimes within the same 5 minutes). Sometimes they make us throw our blow dryers into the bath tub after they convince us to cut all our hair off and dye it a color that’s too dark for our skin tone (or so I’ve heard). If you think about it, hormones are very disrespectful. 

But hormones after a baby? Oh my, now those little guys are downright awful. What’s even worse is they come with friends. The bad influence type of friends, like mood swings, intrusive thoughts, acne (and bacne!?) and even hot flashes. Oh yes, the hot flashes. Just the other day I somehow worked up the motivation to vacuum my staircase and by the end of that little adventure, the warmth radiating off my boobs and out of my shirt would have been powerful enough to heat one of those one-roomed school houses that my Great Grandma used to teach in. You’re picturing it, aren’t you? Not so hot flashes, am I right? On the bright side, I found a new way to save us a little on our utilities bill this month.

But, hormones, just like accidentally flashing your neighbor your entire nipple after a mid-afternoon pump session (sorry, Greg!), are just a natural part of becoming a mother. And perfectly normal. It’s TOTALLY normal to cry at the grocery store when the lady behind the deli counter gives you two stamps on your rewards card “because it’s cold out”. It’s PERFECTLY FINE to weep in your vehicle after seeing yourself in the self-checkout camera at Target. It’s actually natural to think about your two very young children graduating from high school and then promptly sob into the quart of ice cream you’re eating. It’s fine. I’m fine. 

I really am fine, but, I do get so emotional, baby! Since I had done this less than two years ago, I was pretty positive I was prepared for anything the second time around might throw my way. Spoiler alert, I was wrong. Completely wrong. I mean, really, so far, everything except the way my boobs look (not great, Bob), has been completely different. All of the “stuff” I dodged the first time, from weird body stuff to confusing emotional stuff, found me, even with all of the “preparing” I thought I had done. It’s all very overwhelming, kind of like being in downtown Chicago without a GPS, and no natural sense of direction, with HUGE boobs that hurt and the unrelenting urge to sob and call my mom. So, where to begin?! First, I thought I had a handle on breastfeeding, because how hard would that be with these ol’ udders? Just look at them! It certainly isn’t their first rodeo. Well, it turns out, it’s very difficult, especially when a little bitch named mastitis comes a knockin’. Mastitis, as it turns out, stands for:
M – Misery
A – Accompanied by
S – Shit, I ran out of words, but it doesn’t really matter because it’s just actually the worst – TITIS.
If you haven’t experienced this for yourself, consider yourself lucky. If you have, God bless you, and God bless antibiotics and heating pads and ibuprofen and your cousin who assures you that even though you feel like dying, you WILL survive!

This second go ’round has also brought on some mind games that for some silly reason, I thought I was somehow exempt from. I definitely knew better to think that the hard part was over once I had this precious baby of mine, but to have my body and mind gang up on me like a pack of 8th grade bullies? Nah, bro, hard pass. But alas, as the anxiety started to grow and the intrusive thoughts started to creep in, I realized that nobody, not even ya girl, is safe from what hormones and chemicals and the human body can conjure up. I have no real advice on how to navigate this messy topic, other than to have a solid support system, and a trusted sounding board that will hear you out, no matter how “crazy” you might think you sound, be it a professional or someone who’s maybe been through something similar. P.S., you don’t sound crazy, promise.

So, you may be feeling like this took a turn. And you’re right, it did! Right onto Real Life Blvd…(you’ve maybe been there, it has an Applebee’s and the carwash with the cool lights inside). This is real life and real life stuff happens and that stuff should be addressed right along with all the funny business. Nobody has this parenting thing figured out, especially me. All parents, from new ones to old ones, are in a constant state of learning. I thought I knew what I was doing after one child, which is hilarious because I didn’t even learn how to tie my shoes correctly until middle school.

So, since it’s clear I know nothing, I’ve decided to really lean into this learning thing, and I’m happy to say I’ve learned a lot! For example, I’ve learned there’s a huge difference between real Goldfish crackers and the generic version the grocery store has on sale, just ask Hayes. I’ve learned that I like the Nose Frida a little too much, and it shouldn’t be used as a toy, just ask Cash. I’ve learned that my emotions aren’t something to feel ashamed of or embarrassed by, and I’ve earned the right to have a quick cry in a dressing room at the mall if I need to. Most importantly, though, I’ve learned that Miss Piggy from Muppet Babies is a little bitch and Kermit is a kiss-ass. Gotta teach your children to catch those character flaws early, am I right?

Learning is fun, and so helpful, especially when I start to feel overwhelmed. I wish I would have known that when I was in college instead of learning how many shots of UV Blue I could do in my dorm room in one night (sorry mom). I encourage you to learn, too. Learn from your mom, your dad, your grandma, your friends with kids, your friends without kids. Hell, learn from your friend’s kids. It doesn’t matter what you’re learning as long as you’re doing it. So, learn some new stuff and report back, because sharing is caring.

Well, I better go. I hear sirens and I’m afraid my neighbor may have caught another glance at “the girls” and called the cops on me.

Til next time, xoxo!

Mackenzie

2020 Vision

2020VisionHappy new year, everyone! I still can’t believe it’s 2020. It sounds so…futuristic, doesn’t it?  I wasn’t necessarily expecting we’d have flying cars by now, but I definitely thought someone would have at least invented some sort of genetically engineered house plant that I couldn’t kill…but alas, here I sit, surrounded by half dead succulents just begging to be put out of their misery.

But enough about the depressing stuff, it’s a new year full of hope and opportunity and realistic looking faux plants available at my local Target. 2019 was a real humdinger, with a new little baby boy joining our family and Instagram wellness influencers deciding that exposing our sphincters to the sun is beneficial to our overall well-being, so, 2020 has a lot to live up to. I mean, in 2019 I can’t even count how many hours I spent primping and getting ready for the countless date nights I had.

*insert record scratch sound effect here*

Oh, shit, did I say date nights? I definitely meant OBGYN appointments. Yes, fellas, if there are any of you reading this, if your lady is spending a little extra time in the shower, shaving her legs, putting on those “special” undies and just putting forward a bit more of an effort overall, she’s not getting ready for a date…she’s heading to see her gynecologist. If you’re smart, though, you could capitalize on all of that pre-appointment prep work, but that’s for you to figure out on your own…I’m not Dr. Ruth.

But really, 2019 had it all. A trip to Nashville with Geoff that I’ll never forget. Well, some parts I’d like to forget, like when I crashed Geoff’s work trade show and made an ass of myself after drinking too many screwdrivers on the plane with my seat mate and new friend Doug (Doug, if you’re reading this, I hope your 50th birthday was a smash and your Golden Retriever and German Shepherd are doing well). We also celebrated the first birthday of the one and only Hayes in March. How many gray hairs can a lady get from planning a Pinterest perfect first birthday party? Well, I got pissed and quit counting after 17, but I am sure there were PLENTY more that my tweezers never got the chance to meet. Sigh.

2019 also brought the sip of corn syrup heard around the world (still not thrilled with you, Bud Light), the announcement of a new sister on the way and the devastating loss of our sweet, perfect, sometimes growly Lulu bear. And last but certainly not least, 2019 brought the arrival of the most anticipated collaboration project of 2019 (that I had the honor of co-producing), the handsome Cash William Eddie, officially earning me the title of boy mom. That’s right, it’s all boys in this house now, leaving me all alone on a little place I like to call “Vagina Island”. Please don’t get it twisted, I love that these boys will have a brother to rely on and grow with and I also love that I will have leftover tampon budget to spend on jockstraps and baseball cleats and maybe some new eye cream from Sephora.

The beginning of a new year is always an exciting time and for most people, it’s filled with clean slates and big resolutions. As for myself, I’m going to focus on keeping the people (and dog) in my house healthy, fed and as happy as I can. Honestly, to promise myself anything more than that would be irresponsible and a set up for failure. I’m just here to do what I can for the beautiful family that I’ve helped create. This blog is a place for me to share little pieces of our life and to see the funny side of the situations we find ourselves in. I’m definitely not here to give advice, because I’m not qualified to do so. Well, I take that back. I can share one piece of advice that works 100% of the time, and here it is: If your baby is constipated and you want them to poop, all you have to do is put them in a cute outfit. Seriously! Put them in that outfit and they’ll shit their pants immediately. That bowel movement will be headed north, clearing that diaper and ruining that onesie and perfect photo shoot you had planned in your head in no time flat. No need to thank me, the first one’s always free.

I hope your new year is filled with love and peace and health and happiness. I hope 2020 is kind to all of us, leading us on new adventures and teaching us new lessons we never thought we’d need to know. I hope we are able to control the things we can and to roll gracefully with the things we cannot. I also hope scientists finally figure out that houseplant situation, because, come on, it’s 2020 and we should be there by now.

xoxo, Mackenzie

 

A Few of my Favorite Things

FavoriteThings_New

Well, 2019 is out like a fat kid playing dodgeball and today starts the beginning of a new year… AND decade. That’s right, I’m Barbara Walters and this…is 2020.

2020! It’s crazy to think about. If you would have asked me 10 years ago what 2020 would be like…I probably would have been too busy crying at my desk at the Ottumwa Courier to give you a good, solid prediction. But, I can guarantee you I never would have guessed the events that were ahead of me. Marriage. (Two) Celine Dion Concerts. Puppies. Babies. Baby Shark. An upstairs AND a downstairs breast pump.

A lot has changed in 10 years, and I’m not just talking about my eyebrows. I mean, we might as well have put those things on a milk carton, because they were missing for like half a decade. Yikes. But seriously, a lot has changed, including the products I choose to use every day. In 2019, I decided I wanted to grow the heck up and go on the search for those “staple” products (both beauty & otherwise) that I could rely on to just work when I needed them to. Like most people, when I’m going to spend money on something, I want it to do its job, so through reading reviews, snooping through my mom’s stuff and sampling it without asking (the woman has great taste) and spending too much time in Sephora, I found a few that I love and actually work. So, from lip balm to canned wine to the best damn moisturizer I’ve ever put on my face, here’s my list of favorite “stuff” that I discovered at the end of this wild decade.

  1. Treat Beauty Lip Balm. I don’t want to sound like a Kardashian, but I am obsessed with this stuff. I got my first tube from a friend (hey thanks, Megan!) for Christmas a couple of years ago and have been hooked ever since. The tubes are big and fat which means they last forever and are harder to misplace. Noice! The product itself smells amazing and works like a dream. Recently, I bought lip balm in Candy Apple, which has the perfect amount of color. No brag, but I get compliments on it all the time, mostly from my favorite Target cashier who sometimes tells me about her messy divorce. Getcha some.
  2. Maison Margiela REPLICA Whispers In The Library Perfume. I had gotten a sample of this after one of the 100 trips to Sephora I take in a year and loved it. The smell is really subtle but fancy at the same time. The fragrance description says “paper and waxed wood”, but since I’m not a person that spends a lot of time around paper or waxed wood, I can’t really be a good judge. I just know it smells good and can be used by a guy or a gal!
  3. KIEHL’S Ultra Face Cleanser. I’m probably the pickiest person ever when it comes to face wash, and I have tried them all. From Noxzema (hot damn, I’d love to take a whiff of that stuff right now) to St. Ives Apricot Scrub (what up 7th grade!) to Proactiv (yes, I ordered it from the tv). While they were all great, none of them were as good as this stuff. It’s thick and foamy, which takes all of your makeup off faster than your bra after a day of work AND doesn’t dry out your skin. My face has definitely been a lot clearer since I started using this – making even my RBF look nice.
  4. Philosophy Uplifting Miracle Worker Eye. Alright, now that I’m a mom of two, I’m a real two-bagger. Wait, no, that’s not right. What I mean is, I have bags and the real kicker is, those things aren’t even designer. Howevs, after putting a little bit of this magic stuff under the ol’ peepers, things have improved. It cools. It lifts. It makes me feel like less of the old witch from Snow White.
  5. Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Sunshine Drops. I’m not sure why the name is so long. Seems like overkill to me, but I’m sure there’s a reason. Anywhosers, put a couple of drops of this stuff in your moisturizer and damn, girl. It adds the perfect amount of sun-kissed bronze and will adjust to any skin tone. I LOVE this stuff and it’s perfect for this time of year when the sun gotten out of Dodge. It’s a little pricey, but I’ve had my tube for over a year, so a little bit really does go a long way.
  6. IT Cosmetics Secret Sauce Anti-Aging Moisturizer. Excuse my language, but this shit is the real deal. It’s thick and creamy and will not make your face greasy. There’s some science in there that helps with wrinkles and sun damage and it makes your skin feel soft as a baby’s butt. I have two babies, and can confirm this is accurate. Again, it’s on the pricier end, but this jar will last several months and I would almost guarantee you see a difference in your complexion after a week or two of using it.
  7. Connoisseurs Diamond Dazzle Stik.  Okay, we’re done with skincare, so please do not attempt to put this on your face, as I don’t see that ending well. This THING, you guys! It is magic. Available on Amazon for $10, it will get your jewelry sparkling like it just left the pawn shop you bought it from. Just kidding. But seriously. I love it and I make all the ladies in my life try it. It works on rings, earrings, bracelets, teeth. Anything you want to sparkle. It’s worth the trip to Amazon.com, if you ask me. Which you’re not. But it’s fine.
  8. Pura Smart Device. If you want your house to smell amazing and also feel cool by controlling the scent with your phone, then you need this thing. I will be honest, I spent way too much on mine by buying the NEST version, but I’m happy to let others benefit from my mistakes. I really like this because you can shut it off when you’re not home, or create a schedule so it turns on and off automatically, so you don’t waste any of the precious scent. I’ve got Volcano Capri Blue in mine right now, which makes me feel like I’m in Anthropologie (minus all of the beautiful, expensive stuff).
  9. BABE Canned Wine. The canned wine scene exploded while I was on the DL. By DL, I mean while I was pregnant, but same diff. I was a huge fan of canned wine before I found out I was pregnant with Cash, so imagine my utter delight when I found myself presented with several options while casually browsing the aisles of my favorite place, HyVee Wine & Spirits. I took a chance on BABE Grigio with Bubbles and was hooked. It’s not too sweet, a little bubbly and a lot delish. Plus it comes in skinny can that makes me feel like a lady. Just kidding.

So there you have it. A few of my favorite things! So now, I want you to share yours! I love hearing about what works for people and then promptly stealing it for myself and acting like I was the first to discover it. Just kidding!

Cheers to 2020. I hope this year is good to you.

xoxo