KirKath Method, Step Four: SO MANY FEELINGS

Oh man. The memorabilia portion of the KonMari Method. The part that even stops cute, skinny little Marie in her size five tracks.

It’s rough, guys. You’ve spent three or four days wading through clothes, books, old tampons. You’re tired and cranky and frankly have reevaluated everything from whether empire waist shirts EVER worked on you to your method of family planning, and also why don’t you wear high heels as much as you used to? And what does that mean for you and your family and the world in general?

(Hint: Very little. You’re just tired and usually carrying a child now.)

You are in NO MOOD to go through things that make you want to cry or be in college again. You are finished. You want to actually enjoy your life in your awesome, rectangularly-folded home now. You want to kick back on your sofa with the carefully curated cushions and enjoy a glass of wine that will be the first thing since Thursday that actually sparked joy. Mostly you’re tired of your mom and sister calling to make sure you haven’t thrown out your husband and/or children yet. This isn’t fun anymore and frankly IT NEEDS TO END.

But.

But you can’t end it until you do this (almost) last step. You have to go through all the crap you have shoved in boxes and envelopes in your closet and desk and even in helpfully labeled bins named “Kathleen Memories.” The boxes your parents have either dropped off because they thought you might want to see this stuff! (No they didn’t. They wanted it out of their spare bedroom so they could have a gift wrap station.) or made you go through before you got married or they refused to show up at the church (Guess which one happened to me?).

All that stuff is standing between you and BEING COMPLETELY (almost) FINISHED WITH KONMARI’ING YOUR HOUSE.

And you know what? I have no advice. You literally just have to do it. You know what to throw out by the point. You’re ruthless. You know you don’t need eight copies of the honors convocation booklet from when you received your bachelor’s degree. One will suffice.

So instead I took pictures of the most emotional/funniest/most embarrassing things I found during this part.

So pour yourself a glass of wine, sit down on the couch, and get ready to decide if you need all of the cards your late grandparents gave you or just like the last (FYI, I have all the feelings, so I kept all of them. AND I REFUSE TO BE ASHAMED MARIE.)

First, I found a ton of yearbooks. For someone who was homeschooled for most of my educational career, I have a surprising number of yearbooks. My favorite are from my one year of high school because they contain so many, many hilarious things.

Like how awful the hair and makeup and fashion was at a midwestern suburban high school in 2002-03.

And how my husband’s wife’s entire family is all up in there because oh yeah, we all went to high school together. (God is laughing hysterically right now. I know He is.)

IMG_0434

I look super enthused to be there, don’t I? This was one of the last years of what my sister and I refer to as the “polygamist hair.” Combined with square-cut scoop-neck t-shirts from Kohl’s, it’s a pretty sexy picture.

IMG_9175

I also found the above gem, from my grade school. This was an informational booklet they published when I was in K4, and I was obviously the cutest student there (and had nothing to do with the fact that my mom was president of the Home and School Association) so I was supposed to be on the cover. But then somebody’s parents gave a SHIT TON of money and she ended up on the cover. I was relegated to the inside philosophy page. This was in 1993. I’m still mad.

It’s super funny what you remember though. I remember this picture being taken vividly. It was the end of the year in K4 and they came and took me over to the K5 room (the teacher in the shot was the K5 teacher at the time). They told me to just touch one of the balls on the abacus, which I thought was weird since we weren’t counting or anything and I am nothing if not a stickler for realism. And they had the teacher hug me, and her hands were all sweaty. Probably because she wasn’t used to holding five-year-old girls tenderly and being photographed. I don’t know why they did that. But it’s funny now.

Except the part where I was kicked off the cover. That ticked me off.

IMG_9173

Also found a picture of my sister, who refused to smile for the photographer because he was, and I quote, “creepy.”

IMG_0435

Okay, this made me cry. It’s a thank-you note that I wrote when I was ten to my grandparents. And unfortunately since I don’t want to be stalked and killed (I’ve been watching a lot of Criminal Minds lately), you can’t even see the sweetest part. Their address is my address now. And it makes me so happy. Also weeping-inducing, we found this in my grandpa’s office when he passed away in 2008. He had saved all of our thank you notes and kept them in his office for over ten years.

Brb, just having a breakdown.

IMG_9096

Okay. Okay. I’m back. This one is funny. We used to live in a county with a large Latino population, and Wal-Mart stocked candles and stuff for Day of the Dead and other celebrations specific to Latino Catholicism. Well we were at Wal-Mart one day when Squeaks was like two, and she saw this candle and would not leave it behind. “It’s Jesus! Mommy! Jesus! I love Him!”

Well you can’t say no to that, can you?

Just try to ignore the headless chickens and skulls and other random Santeria shit in the background

She slept with it in her bedroom for MONTHS until I was able to spirit it out and hide it far far away because yes it’s awesome that there was so much sharing between the Afro-Caribbean religions (I have a degree in religious history- I know my stuff) but we live in the suburbs now, sweetie, and I really don’t want your non-Catholic grandparents thinking we slaughter chickens and stuff.

(They don’t. This was a long time ago and I just wanted to make sure.)

IMG_0432

Aww! My master’s thesis, a copy of the final edit submitted to the graduate school. Approximately five seconds before I got married, ten seconds before I got pregnant, and fifteen seconds before I stopped thinking critically about anything except the mythology of My Little Pony.

Oh well. I used to be smart.

IMG_0433

Ha. This one is hilarious too. I received this in the mail a few weeks after I graduated, for my work with first-year students my final year of graduate school.

This is hilarious because I SERIOUSLY phoned it in that year. Like, I still have not read Heart of Darkness you guys, and I taught a unit on it. I swore I was not going to do small group work for no reason, except I did it almost every week because I got home at 3:30 this morning and I am DONE y’all, talk amongst yourselves. Wake me at 2:50. I’ve got to catch a bus.

I entered final grades from Six Flags and read Real Simple Weddings while proctoring the final, for God’s sake.

Still got an award. Natch.

Aww, a montage of Baby Buddy items. I saved the pregnancy test when I found out. (The first of a billion I would take because hi, my name is Kathleen and I have anxiety disorders.) It’s totally gross because, you know, it’s a pregnancy test, but now, almost four years later? I’m glad I have it. Buddy’s tiny hospital bracelet from when he was born. I almost threw this out. I wanted to remember nothing from that time in my life, but I was like “no, that’s weird, save the stupid bracelet and just don’t look at it again.” He was so tiny! That went around his leg. His little chicken legs. Aww.

And Squeaks’s big sister bracelet that they gave her. She refused to take it off for so long (and I was so insane I didn’t notice) that she developed a rash under it. That’s funny now. At the time it was not so funny. Or maybe it was. I don’t remember.

IMG_9172

The sign I hung up on my bathroom door at home before I got married. My dress was hanging on the other side because I figured that even though I didn’t care about anything about the wedding, I probably shouldn’t show up in a wrinkled dress. And I figured my dad was going to barge through there and it would rip and I would have to buy a third dress.

Yep. Third. I bought my first one when I got engaged, and then gained a lot of weight because of my child and had to buy a second one.

I was not pregnant. I was a virgin when I got married. I just didn’t realize how much work raising a two-year-old took and how adept at eating my feelings I was.

Luckily the sign worked, and I only had to buy two versions of the exact same dress.

(I also had to do that for my sister’s wedding, but that was actually knocked up, just like you would think if someone had to buy two wedding dresses.)

IMG_9177 (1)

This is what marriage to an engineer is like. He didn’t want to have to write icky sentiments more than once. So he literally just directed me to the letter he had written.

This is hilarious.

All kidding aside, he’s a wonderful husband and the letter was beautiful.

IMG_9091

And finally, the last card my grandpa ever gave me. He died seven months later before another major occasion. He always spent so much time picking out cards and pored over the messages and so you knew that every one you got was as if he had written it himself.

And remember how touched I was that he had saved all of the things we sent him? I shouldn’t be surprised. Because I saved everything he sent me too.

Next time, after I stop sobbing, we will discuss the final step to KonMari’ing your Big Fat American House- EVERYTHING ELSE.

(It makes sense. I promise.)

 

KirKath Method, Step Three: Kids, or WHERE IT ALL GOES WRONG

So. Back at it after a vacation. Which I’ll talk about later. Maybe. It was hot. And wet. And awesome. And that sounded dirtier than I wanted it to.

Anyway. Right after I finished the master bedroom and the bathroom, I did my desk, which I didn’t write about, but was super easy because I was in the mode by the point and YOU JUST THROW AWAY ALL THE THINGS AND IT’S AMAZING AND LIBERATING!

(I’m pretty sure I don’t have house insurance anymore. But my life is so light now!)

KonMari has trouble with getting rid of papers. I say she’s weak. And also Japanese people must have way different attachment to papers  because at this point I was tossing anything that didn’t immediately make me want to rub it all over my body (family members included.) I had no such trouble. Not even meriting its own post.

So then I decided to move on to Step 3: The Kids’ Rooms.

Dun dun dun.

Alternatively titled, Is Not Sparking Joy A Plausible Defense for Child Abandonment? Asking for a friend.

(I’M KIDDING. I love my children. I’m just saying, I was in the zone.)

I did Buddy’s room first. It was relatively easy because he has next to no belongings up there since a.) I went crazy when he was born and never bought anything after that initial flush of baby stuff and b.) he is too little to accumulate anything except viruses on his own.

I went through his dresser, put away the things that didn’t fit anymore, created an appropriate box int he closet for clothes he’s growing into (thank you Kidscycle!), and culled his stuffed animals and books. Easy peasy. I was considering doing clinics for other poor hapless souls who were obviously not as organized as me.

Then I got to Squeaks’ room.

IMG_9122

Oh. Oh my.

She has the smallest room in the house. (No, not like Cinderella. Because she picked it.) But it held the most unbelievable amount of crap. So so so so much. I didn’t know where to start.

KonMari was NO help. The only thing she writes about kids is that htey should be a part of it to which my response is, HEY MARIE HAVE YOU EVER MET A LITTLE GIRL?

Maybe it’s just mine. But she’s 6. And a hoarder. And every piece of paper she has ever touched might have the code to the lost city of atlantis on it so we probably shouldn’t get rid of it and also I love it, mommy WHY WOULD YOU THROW THAT AWAY WAAAAHHHH.

So. Yeah.  No. She was not going to be involved. Mommy was gonna handle this quickly and painlessly and humanely and put the room out of its misery.

(That got dark. Sorry.)

It was not easy going. But once I hit my stride, I developed a fool proof plan to KonMari’ing your kids rooms in America where we all have too much stuff and carbs.

Step 1: Put kid downstairs with father and a loud video game.

Step 2: Throw away all the things.

Step 3. Hide bags in your bedroom with the door closed until after bedtime.

Step 4: Smuggle them out of the house like you’re not the adult in the situation.

Step 5: Enjoy a glass of wine and only contemplate the psychological damage you did to your kid a little bit because really? Is this even going to make the list when she’s seeing her own therapsit one day? Probably not.

Call me when you’re up through 2011. Then I’ll worry.

Unlike Buddy’s room, I did employ most of KonMari’s methods, like the folding and organization. I folded her things “correctly” and put all of her bags and stuff in other bags, etc. Overall I treated it like an adult bedroom.

I’m happy to say it’s been a month and while I have to go in most days and teach her how to refold stuff, it’s still completely clean. I know. It’s like this shit works or something.

IMG_9125

(And also? For my mom out there who is probably crying because she’s convinced I threw away super special stuff that my daughter loves because it doesn’t fit with my new aesthetic? She has yet to ask for one single thing that I took out of there. Not. One. Thing.)

Ahhh.

IMG_9130

 

 

KirKath Method, Step Two: I’m Not Sure These Tampons Bring Me Joy, but I Should Probably Keep Them.

Alternatively, Do They Not Have Bathrooms In Japan?

So. The morning after I re-evaluated my clothes and my life and folded my underwear into adorable little rectangles (Pictures not to follow, because I’m a lady. Dammit.) I woke up in the brilliant sunlight of a KonMari morning. I leapt out of bed, banished my family to the downstairs and told my husband he was allowed to feed and/or do anything to/with the children as long as they stayed alive and I could purge in peace. And DO NOT COME UP HERE YELLING AT ME ABOUT PROPERLY DISPOSING OF MEDICATION.

(Side bar: Anybody else have a spouse that discards of things completely differently than you? He recycles everything. Correctly. Even if it takes six weeks to figure out how to do so.  Perfect little steward of the Earth and I love him for it but…

Me? Eh. I throw everything away. If it’s something slightly questionable, I’ll put it in a black bag. But other than that, I figure a Trump or Clinton presidency is going to destroy the world far before the landfills get us, so let’s just enjoy our clean bathrooms and basements in peace while we’re here okay?

I’m not saying this is right. It’s wrong. It’s even a sin if we consider that recent papacies have taught us to respect the Earth as a gift from God in a way we had moved away from. But you know what? RIGHT NOW I DO NOT HAVE TIME TO RINSE ALL MY RECYCLABLES LIKE MY HUSBAND WOULD BECAUSE HE’S PERFECT.

Side side bar: I wouldn’t throw away anything dangerous like chemicals that I knew were going to start a fire or prescription drugs.

But to be honest that’s probably just because I haven’t had any of the good stuff since childbirth and I don’t have any heavy duty cleaning fluid. Otherwise, yeah, I’d probably throw those away too. )

My bathroom had gotten a little bit out of hand. We only have one full bath, so everything happens there. And there’s this HUGE closet, which is awesome because it’s huge and horrible because I tend to fill it up with all the crap in the world that I don’t need (see, Step One.)

IMG_9097

But the problem was that Marie Kondo doesn’t really talk about bathrooms (or kitchens) at all. Like, other than saying that you shouldn’t keep stuff in the shower or next to sink (ha! was my orginal thought. We’ll circle back to that.)

Apparently there isn’t anything in her perfect life as disgusting as a bathroom filled with acne cream and foot scrapy thingies and Nads wax back from when I cared about waxing (Just me? No? Okay. Stop judging then.) and moldy bath toys for the kids.

(I know. You’re all super upset I’m not single, right?)

So once again, as a menstruating American with children who need a crapton (the imperial measurement) of stuff, I had to modify her method.

I tried the joy thing. But, really, there isn’t a whole lot of stuff in a bathroom that gives you joy. Or at least not me. Some of my makeup did. I was able to go through that and think about what I was really excited to use. I love my skin care routine, and all the bottles are so pretty* so it was fun to think about arranging those. But pretty much everything else was just…blah.

*They should be for the half a spleen they cost every month or so.

I don’t know about you but I do not get super excited when my Amazon box arrives every month full of Playtex and clear blue sticks.(Subscribe and save! Whee! Never be embarrassed at the checkout lane again!!!) But obviously I couldn’t just purge everything I didn’t get excited about, or my children would seriously stink and I wouldn’t have any more hand towels.

So.

In a modification I think KonMari would be proud of (at least the current version of her with a kid and responsibilities) I decided to think about what kind of a life these things let me live and how I was excited about that. And then toss everything that doesn’t make that life happen.

I love that my children play together at bath time, and have so much pure joy just by playing with a cup and water and some stupid plastic fish. I love that I am blessed enough that we have a gorgeous house and I can afford clean, dry towels to wrap my babies in. I love that God made me a woman and gifted me with fertility, but, you know, not right now. I love that when my kids get colds they trade them back and forth six times so we need to keep eight bottles of baby ibuprofen on hand at all times…oh wait. Nevermind. I love that I can give them medicine to keep them happier while they’re sick. (And by happier I mean sleeping.)

I love all of that. And so all that boring, utilitarian stuff that doesn’t sell happy, sunkissed books on Amazon got to stay.

(The moldy tub toys went. As well as the aloe vera gel that expired in 2011. And the vaseline from a place I’d never heard of that my husband excitedly informed me was in Iowa! From when I was on my co-op! In 2005? When I was 17? Uh. Nope. Gone.)

Tons of other stuff too obviously, because I tossed bags and bags and bag of…I don’t even know but by the time I was finished the closet was only like half full and I had the delightful task of reorganzing everything for our life.

I have a tendency to just shove stuff wherever it fits. Which leads to things like the bath towels being buried underneath hand towels (because we use those so often?) and the kids’ humidifiers being on the bottom shelf in the way back so you literally have to lay on the ground to get them out which means every time Squeaks or Buddy coughs I cross my fingers and hope it doesn’t happen again because I really don’t want to get the humidifer out. I mean I don’t want them to be sick. Yeah. That one.

I had enough space to put those things on higher shelves where we could easily get to them when I needed it. And, interestingly, the one thing I swore I was not going to do? The one thing Marie Kondo says to do? Keep all your stuff out of the bathtub and wipe it off and put it away after you shower?

Yeah. Of course I did that. And you know what? It works. It works so much better. I wipe down the shower every day and when I have to actually clean it it’s so much easier because I don’t have to move everything and make it such a production. I have everything together. I know when I’m running low on something so I don’t have to hop across the bathroom dripping wet to get more shaving cream. And it takes a grand total of like maaaaybe five extra seconds to wipe the two bottles I use every day on my towel and put them away.

*sigh* You’ve beaten me again, KonMari.

This part took me probably six hours. Honestly, longer than the clothes. Probably because I had to consider what the whole family NEEDED and not just what made me feel pretty. And then the organizing it to work with our life was more difficult than just putting your clothes back in the closet. But so, so worth it. Even if it didn’t get it’s own cute little section in Marie Kondo’s cute little book.

IMG_9448

Next time, I move on to the children’s rooms. And give up on my hope for humanity.

KirKath Method, Step One: Thank your super hot red dress for 2010.

Alternatively, Step One: Ignore your Children and Pretend You’re a Gorgeous Slight Asian Lady for 48 hours While Cleaning Your Own Room.

Oh my gosh you guys. I have fallen for the sweet, sweet voice of Marie Kondo, Japan’s tidy-er in chief (yes, it’s a title I just made up in my head. Should exist.)

IMG_9079

Like many other chubby, hoarding Americans, I saw her delicate features and size 00 waist and was like SHOW ME YOUR WAYS. OR AT LEAST LET ME PAY $16.99 TO READ THEM.

Overall, the ideas were great and totally worth the $16.99. (Especially since I can resell the book on my mom’s group recycle site.) But there were some…um…ridiculous parts. Parts that would never work for anyone in the real world and who also are not on psychotropic drugs.

So here’s my KonMari Method For Real People Living In the United States With Children and Lots of Emotions.

(Yes. I’m thinking of getting a patent.)

Her method is basically go through your things in order of difficult to toss- begin with clothes, then books, papers, then mementos. You physically hold each item and see if it “sparks joy.” If it doesn’t, you don’t need it. And the kicker- you have to gather all your things together in one place.

Um. This was going to be a problem. See, I have a normal sized American house with a normal amount of stuff and, perhaps most importantly, a husband and two children who also live here. I imagine for tiny Japanese ladies who have a studio apartment (she kept talking about her room) and no spawn running around* this makes perfect sense. For me? Not so much.

*I read that she just had a baby. I look forward to her next book, “I’m So Sorry You Guys I Knew Nothing.”

So my first modification would be to only work on my own clothes to begin with. And furthermore, do the whole master bedroom. Because if I’m going to spend six hours holding tank tops and seeing if they “spark joy,” I’m sure as hell going to go through the nightstand drawer and throw out the old febreze and bed chocolate and empty prozac bottles. Go big or go home is my motto.

Above: Before and After

I honestly did not think it was going to be that bad. I’m pretty organized, I pride myself on getting rid of things I don’t use, and yes, I love clothes and probably buy more than I should (don’t ask Buzz about that,) but I was pretty sure I a.) didn’t have that many and b.) didn’t have any that I wasn’t using or loved.

So, just like I begin, oh, everything in my life from grad school to marriage to childbearing, I just leapt in without worrying about it! Come on! Put everything on the bed! Surely there’s not that many! You just have small closets! That’s why you need two of them!

Oh. Oh my.

IMG_9083

Oh shoot. There’s more.

IMG_9084

Okay. Maybe not as organized as I thought.

Still. Surely everything in here causes me joy, right? I mean, I love clothes. I wouldn’t keep any I didn’t like!

Wrong again, dummy. Turns out, MOST OF THIS SH*T YOU DON’T EVEN LIKE. The thought of wearing it makes you literally unhappy. You just feel bad throwing it away because…I don’t even know.

But! That is like the thing I liked best about this whole book and method and my bastardization of a method. YOU DON’T HAVE TO KEEP ANYTHING YOU DON’T LIKE.

Did you hear that? YOU HAVE MY PERMISSION TO THROW ALL THAT CRAP AWAY.

It’s really freeing.I ended up tossing or donating a huge number of things and my closets are now like 80% full. I was worried I would feel like I didn’t have enough to wear and I’d dread getting dressed.

Au contraire. I actually look forward to getting dressed in the morning, because I like everything that I kept. I love how I feel in the items I kept, and so I’m super excited to get dressed. I haven’t worn yoga pants ONCE since I did this. (I KNOW.) I bought pretty nightgowns and fold them every morning. I don’t want to buy things just to buy them, I want to only buy things I know I’ll love because they’ll have such a special place in my closet.

It’s amazing!

She also advocates “thanking” your clothes that you’re tossing for the work they’ve done for you. I read that and was pssh whatever lady, they’re inanimate objects. If I can’t remember to thank my husband every morning for getting up and supporting us I sure as hell am not talking to a cardigan. Crazy talk.

Except…sometimes it totally works. Like I had this dress. This gorgeous red Ralph Lauren dress that I LOVED like whoa. I looked soooo cute in it. See?

28239_1263456632872_6182166_n

Except that dress is a 2. I think. Maaaybe a 4. Either way. Not gonna happen. But I could not get rid of it. I loved it. It was ridiculous. Even if for some reason I was ever a 2 or 4 again (BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA *chokes* ahahahahhhahahah), I’ve had a baby. Things have shifted. We ain’t never going back to grad school again, yo.

So I looked around to make sure no one was listening (they weren’t- I’d banished them to the family room with the netflix password.) And I thanked it. I thanked it for being so adorable and making me feel so pretty in 2010. 2010 was my year man. I had it MADE. I mean I was alone and lived with my parents and yeah okay some guy left me at a Starbucks because he was contemplating the priesthood, but I LOOKED SO CUTE.

*ahem*

The thanking it? Made it okay. I was able to donate it and move on and realize that it wasn’t making me happy sitting in my bin of clothes that are never ever going to work, it was just making me feel badly about myself now. No, my body looks totally different than it did in 2010. But I’m married. My husband loves me, and my body. I’ve grown an entire person, and am raising these two incredible children. And yes, I’m on medication that caused weight gain about nine months ago, but you know what? I’d so much rather be in this body right now and not be having constant panic attacks. I’m a better, happier, nicer person than I was in 2010, and that’s really okay. So I tossed the red dress, and vowed never to make thanking things weird again.

Overall, my clothes took me an entire afternoon. And then a few hours in the evening to put everything back together. Hardly life changing amounts of time, but like I said, I DON’T WEAR YOGA PANTS ANYMORE. It LITERALLY changed my life.

So, here is the cliffnotes version of my own personal method to step one of cleaning up your crap:

1.) Open Hulu.

2.) Turn on Curious George.

3.) Offer your big kid cookies to leave you alone for a few hours.

4.) Put ALL YOUR CRAP in the middle of the bed.

5.) Dry heave.

6.) Throw away everything that you don’t feel happy thinking about wearing.

7.) Fold the remaining things in adorable little rectangles.Hang up the now pretty dresses and skirts you’re totally psyched to wear.

FullSizeRender

8.) Thank anything you don’t want to give away. It makes it easier.

9.) Yell at husband about making fun of you for thanking your clothes and remind him he is the reason your body looks like the before picture on a Weight Watchers ad.

10.) NEVER WEAR YOGA PANTS AGAIN.

I know! It’s so simple! (No it’s not.) But still! You can do it!

Stay tuned for the next installment: The Bathroom! OR the room that Marie Kondo prefers to ignore entirely. OR In which I hold my fertility monitor and wonder if it brings me joy.

(Spoiler alert: It does. So much non-childbearing joy.)

The “Perks” of My Maternity Leave

If you have eyes and an internet connection you’ve undoubtedly seen Meghann Foye’s editorial and novel about wanting Me-ternity leave. And how much the world who has actually given birth or begun raising an adopted child HATES HER AND WANTS HER TO SUFFER AS MUCH AS WE HAVE. *ahem* Sorry. Got a little heated there.

You can’t really help but get UNBELIEVABLY IRATE at this woman, who calls maternity leave “a socially mandated time and space for self reflection.”

Ha.

Haha.

HAHAHAHAHAHA.

No.

Anyway, that got me to thinking about those halcyon days of my own immediately postpartum period. What would have been my socially mandated time and space for self reflection had I been employed outside of the home. I bottle fed exclusively. I had a good sleeper (as much as a newborn can be.) I had a husband who was very supportive. I had family in town and emotional and psychological and physical help and all the positives I possibly could. I still almost died afterwards and honestly? Those months immediately following Buddy’s birth were by far the worst of my life and I literally throw up whenever I think about feeling like that again.

So here were some of the perks of MY maternity leave:

1.) Well, don’t forget, you’re usually recovering from either having major abdominal surgery or pushing a fully formed human being out of a hole that…well, you know. Either way, unpleasant! Super, super not fun. I had a relatively “easy” birth, in that I had an epidural, and minimal complications (who wants to hear about the degree of tears my vagina suffered? No one? Especially not my dad who reads this? Okay. Moving on…) and IT STILL HURT LIKE A MOTHERF—–. FOR SERIOUS.

1149020_10151520118240685_1784833942_n

That thing. IS HUGE.

And even if you’re not a biological parent, learning how to care for a new child is unbelievably difficult as well. I’ve done that as well, with Squeaks. It’s no picnic even though, granted, your vagina is less sore.

Also your boobs hurt less. Probably. I got pregnant like six minutes after my wedding so my boobs hurt a lot by the time I got home and was taking care of Squeaks all the time. So I guess I don’t know.

BUT STILL.

2.) You learn how to breastfeed or bottle feed all sorts of fun places.

999049_10200118712916922_1576821580_n

I don’t know about this Meghann chick, but I did not find the dragging around of formula, water, bottles, and I don’t even remember what else constantly because babies are hungry ALL THE TIME terribly calming and lending itself to a lot of meditation on myself and my career path.

I look super meditative don’t I?

3.) You get to go out and about with your baby.

578431_10151562105175636_1562041249_n

I’m trying to remember what I was doing here and I honestly can’t. I recognize the floor but I don’t even know where I was. And from the look on my face, I didn’t care.

Yep. I definitely wanted to kill myself by this point.

4.) Your husband may also do some self-reflection and develop a pathogenic staph infection on his chin that prevents you from even coming close to his face for a good month. From stress.

Yes. Having a baby with you is the most stressful thing your recently widowed husband has ever been through.

Reflect on that, bitch.

5.) Other people get to cuddle with your baby a lot. Mostly because you don’t want anything to do with them. I know this is not universal, but for me it totally was. My mom and my sister took care of Buddy most of the time because I literally could not care about anything in the world at all.

10407771_10202267391672548_933787322712449311_n

I mean, it’s not that I didn’t care, it’s just that I was having all that time for self reflection. I’m sure that was it. It only FELT like crushing depression.

6.) You get the chance to celebrate all of life’s celebrations in a totally normal way.

10443550_10202267412833077_2792712154368826501_n

Here I am on my 26th birthday, about two months after Buddy was born. Yep. Party party party, am I right?

That dead look in my eyes and the fact that I don’t even notice that my baby is falling over is totally because of all of the self-reflection I was doing.

Overall, my maternity leave was mostly me looking like this:

993323_10200118717437035_1124459590_n

Hemorrhaging, internal organs starting to seize, boobs leaking, feeling like death, trying to either feed or burp the child that totally did not want to do either on the anniversary of your husband’s wedding to someone else.

That’s what maternity leave felt like.

So many perks, right, ladies?

I also still have bottles of Tide from 2005.

So you guys. My house.

(What? You want to know about the year I’ve been gone? Eh, not much. Major breakdown, new niece, homeschooling, blah blah blah. Whatevs. Ooh, I have a Gwynnie Bee subscription now. That’s pretty cool.)

(Also I have a slight online shopping habit. Oops.)

(It’s been a stressful year you guys.)

Anyway. We’re painting the house. If you’re new (or just don’t care about my life) we bought my grandparents’ house a few years ago and I’m ridiculously happy in a way I haven’t been every before because I have my dream house. It’s like a hug from my Grandma and Grandpa every time I walk in the door.

It still has the same color of seafoam green on the shutters and doors that my grandparents put on in the ’60s. (Ironically, it’s back in style.)

I have always been opposed to this color scheme as it’s not my personal taste. I have always maintained that as soon as we could afford it, I wanted the house repainted and the doors red and the shutters black.

Like this. house

(Well. Not exactly like this. As this is not my house.)

See ya later, seventies! I’m super psyched for my pretty doors!

Or at least that’s how I felt until I called the painting company and they were like, “Of course we can do that for you. We’ll be over next Wednesday.”

What now?

You’re coming like now to repaint the last vestige of my grandma’s taste?

No. I don’t think so.

I’m not ready for that. I mean, I’m okay with googling what it would look like and fantasizing and making the phone call, but actual paint? No no no.

So I burst into tears and called my mom and was all WHY DO WE HAVE TO DIE WHAT IS LIFE EVEN ABOUT and she was all, “Um. Okay. Yes. But if you want red you should have red. Because your grandmother won’t strike you down. Also can you hang up because I have real problems to deal with and not your paint colors.”

(That’s a lie. She totally would. But she hasn’t yet, so she must be okay with it.)

(Also my mom didn’t say that last part. Because she’s nice even when she shouldn’t be.)

So it’s been a few weeks, and I’ve cried and prayed and cried some more and I think we are going to change it. I’m keeping one door the way that it was. And I know in my heart my Grandma would be happy because she’d want me to be happy and I know she’d also like the classic look of the red and black. But I’m not sure I can watch. And I might have to have them back the next week to change it back.

(I haven’t told my husband that part yet.)

(He’s still mad at me for the last Gwynnie Bee purchase.)

 

Honey, I’m good.

10362946_10152603939905685_7832863144664013309_n

So Buddy was born with laryngomalacia, which is a super hard-to-spell way of saying that his larynx would collapse with every breath he took. Which led to a whole host of not-serious problems like he wouldn’t drink a bottle for more than five seconds, he couldn’t laugh the normal way, and his sleeping sounds were roughly akin to being across the street from an international airport.

Now as a toddler, he’s pretty much fine. He’s technically grown out of it, although between what the doctor told us and what I’ve figured out from observing him, he only eats when he’s distracted enough to relax. Given that his larynx is firm, I think (in all my medical expertise) that he was probably traumatized by feeling like he was drowning as an infant and tenses up, which engages my husband’s gag reflex, and, well, it ends with me doing a lot of laundry and him not consuming a lot of actual food.

So we distract him with videos on our phones while we feed him (please, save your parenting suggestions, unless you want to move in and raise him, I do not care). Because of this, I’ve become incredibly familiar with a whole host of Netflix shows and YouTube videos that catch his interest for three or four days before he starts ignoring them and realizes that we’re actually trying to feed him and then, well, we’re back to laundry.

George of the Jungle 2? The 2003 direct-to-video sequel to the already crappy George of the Jungle starring Brendan Fraser? I can recite it.

Downton Funk? The Downton Abbey parody of Uptown Funk? I’ve memorized the dance moves.

That one weird family’s video Christmas card? I feel like we’re bestest friends.

Our current favorite is Andy Grammer’s Honey, I’m Good. Buddy LOVES the beat. And he likes all the people on the video. And with the exception of one bad word for…ahem…bottom, I can play it with Squeaks around (I mute that part). But that means that I have to listen to it for a good forty-five minutes of my day. And I have a few thoughts.

What, exactly? Is this song supposed to be holding up? Because it sure as hell isn’t an actually good relationship.

We begin with the lyric “Nah nah honey, I’m good/ I could have another but I probably should not/ I got somebody at home and if I stay I might not leave alone.”

Um. Okay.

So. A.) Why are you calling her honey? and-

B.) Are you seriously telling me you cannot be held to a basic standard of monogamy after a drink? Because THIS IS HOW RAPE CULTURE STARTS. By just assuming that men are pigs who cannot control basic human impulses so we have to be in control for them and then your skirt is too short and oh, Lord, let’s not go down this road.

This is backed up by the verse. “Now better men, than me have failed/ Drinking from that unholy grail.”

Seriously. Alcohol (I don’t care how much.) does not give you the right to or an excuse for cheating on your girlfriend/fiancee/wife. Never. I’m not saying don’t be responsible and know your limits, because of course, but THIS IS NOT WORTH SINGING ABOUT.

Then we have “You look good, I will not lie/ But if you ask where I’m staying tonight/ I gotta be like oh, baby, no, baby, you got me all wrong, baby/ My baby’s already got all of my love.

Okay. “Baby” can’t have you that wrong if she even has an inkling that she’s going home with you. Like, for serious. My husband could consume a fifth of whiskey at a bar and I’m pretty certain that while his liver would explode, he would not give any young lady on the premises cause to ask him where he’s staying that night.

So no, baby, she doesn’t have you all wrong.

And. if your baby really has all of your love, why are you out getting all these drinks from these women who think you’re going home with them? What is she doing? Sitting at home decoupaging?

(I ask because that legit sounds like a good night to me.)

Finally, the thing that annoys me most is that the video is all happy couples proclaiming how long they’ve been together. Which, as we saw above, MEANS NOTHING TAKEN IN CONTEXT OF THE LYRICS.

Gah. It irks me. Buddy’s going to have to go back to Downton Funk.

Five on Friday

I’m still pretty psyched by summer, you guys. And by “psyched” I mean unbelievably happy and free and have stopped getting up with my husband most days and I swore I wouldn’t do that when we got married but you know what, I still promise to do that in sickness and in health thing, so let me sleep until 7, okay?

Anyway, I have also become retrospective in my glee, so here is a list of five things I did during the school year that I swore I would never, ever do ever in my life.

1.) Let her wear the same thing every day for most of winter.

Here is my kid at the beginning of the school  year. In an adorable Land’s End polo shirt with a cute peter pan collar and ruffles and oh my gosh just so cute!

Here is my kid after a week wearing the thing she’d wear until it became 80 degrees because that ugly overpriced white turtleneck doesn’t have any buttons, which apparently are coated with skin-melting material if you believe the screams coming from our house every morning at dressing time.

Oh wait. There’s no picture. Because there’s no point in photographing it because it’s so uncute.

(She, however, is still adorable.)

2.) Debate how sick you really have to be to miss school because a.) we’ve missed most of the days this week since a every virus that thinks about coming near the school building fells us for a week and b.) this is a really bad day because I have plans/errands/appointments.

Seriously. We got EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING. I think the last time I felt actually healthy was October. Maybe a few days in March as we switched from winter viruses to summer colds.

And there came a point where she was missing super fun stuff and I haven’t heard you sniffle in six minutes, so quick hop in the car Imma turn on Frozen really loud.

3.) Wear pajama yoga pants to drop off. And pick up. And the rest of the afternoon.

Never with  makeup. Or combed hair. No, that’s a lie. Sometimes my hair was combed. Full of coconut oil, but I had combed the coconut oil through it.

(My hair is a PROCESS, people. It’s basically a part-time job.)

Of course, as I sit here at 9:22 am typing this, I am also in pajamas. But, uh. It’s different. No one else is here. And yes I’m letting my children color the box our toilet paper came in (whoo Amazon Subscribe and Save!) but whatever, it’s summer.

4.) Throw away some of the pieces of paper that she brought home.

Mah bebe will never make anything that I will not treasure and adore….until that first week when HOLY COW do they come home with a lot of stuff. And some just isn’t that important. Really. I had to be realistic.

I’m not a bad mother. Tell me I’m not a bad mother.

5.) Hit another car during conferences.

In fairness, this one is pretty much just a daily goal of mine. Like I wake up thinking, let’s try not to hit anyone today. For serious.

But I failed to abide by this cardinal rule of mine by hitting a car at a whopping 2 mph in the parking lot leaving the conference, and another K4 mother at that. Thankfully she was afternoon, but it did totally make the end-of-the-year joint stuff awk-ward.

Summertime! And the fails have already started!

Guys! It’s summer! My kid is finished with school! I don’t have to be up at crack thirty anymore!

(I totally will be, because I am incapable of getting anything finished after like, eh, maaaaybe 2pm, and if I don’t get up early we’ll be living in one pair of shorts and t-shirts all summer and then we’ll smell and ever fewer people will like us and eh, it’s just a bad idea.)

(But I don’t have to GO ANYWHERE. That’s the part that counts.)

Here is my kid being thrilled about finishing the school year.

photo 1 (1)

That face? Is one I’m expecting to see a lot of over the next twenty years.

(Also my lawn/shrubbery doesn’t look so unkempt now. Yay summer!)

Anyway, the beginning of summer always makes me want to organize and change my life and hack ALL THE THINGS.

So I have been (marginally) successful at cleaning the basement with Buzz and forcing both of us to go through things because I’m sorry, I know 1997 was a great year for all of us (that’s a lie, it was not a great year for me since I was 10, but you I’m sure enjoyed it because you were like married with a couple of kids, honey), but we don’t need to keep all the stuff that we accumulated and have dragged to various cities across the country.

And I can get rid of my ponchos. 2004 ain’t never coming back.

So there’s that. I’ve also decided to change up my breakfast routine. I’m not dieting (I refuse to) but I am not stupid and realize that that bowl of Cheerios is probably not as low in calories if it only keeps you full for an hour and by 10 am you’re baking brownies to  just eat the pan. I found an amazing post on overnight oats on pinterest and I’m all omg I love oatmeal! I used to eat it every day when I had loads of time!

And oatmeal is totally healthy! And while I’m not unhappy with my body (that’s a lie. I’m always unhappy with my body. I thought I looked fat in this picture:

36226_403713950684_975357_n

You stupid whore you will never look better, 2010 Me.), Buddy definitely changed things. It’s not baby weight, because I lost all the weight I gained with pregnancy (thank you, preeclampsia and postpartum depression), but the OH MY GOD WHEN IS YOUR FATHER GETTING HOME cookies and wine haven’t exactly tightened things up if you know what I mean.

So! Overnight oats! Yes!

(Pause for a moment here as my father picks himself up off the floor because he has been present (and paid for) all of my previous attempts at fad diets. See: 2005 obsession with fresh fruit smoothies that ran him, oh, about $100 in produce that languished for a few weeks while I decided I didn’t really like smoothies.)

I found a recipe for ones that involved Greek yogurt and cocoa powder and they totally tasted like BROWNIE BATTER YOU GUYS!!! At least, according to Pinterest.

Except. Um. They didn’t. They tasted like Greek yogurt and unsweetened cocoa powder. And despair.

You know what tastes like brownie batter?

Brownie-Batter

Brownie batter.

You know what doesn’t?

image

Yup. Overnight oatmeal with Greek yogurt and unsweetened cocoa powder.

I blame pinterest and mason jars. You’re supposed to make it in a mason jar, which confused me because I happen to usually drink alcohol out of mason jars and alcohol is tasty. Therefore, mason jars are a win. (Philosophy 211: Elementary Logic for the win, right?)

Except it turns out that even mason jars can’t make oatmeal taste like brownies.

But never fear. I will not give up on overnight oats. I’m going to try again and again until my credit card gets decline (aren’t you glad I got married, Daddy?)

At least I have a clean basement.

(And plans to replicated the Cheesecake Factory red velvet cheesecake for a dinner party I’m having later this month. I think it will turn out better than oatmeal soaked in yogurt.)

Routine

images

My amazing and funny sister sent me this article yesterday, regarding the morning habits of female moguls and trendsetters. It’s all very Lean In and fascinating and really makes you think about your morning routine.

And how seriously lacking it is.

For instance, something called “ashtanga yoga” is a.) a thing and b.) helpful. Huh.  I don’t do ashtanga yoga, but I do…well, not a lot. I jog to the mailbox sometimes if it’s cold and I was too lazy to go upstairs to get my shoes. But, uh, that’s it.

Um. Let’s see what else…breakfast! I can do that! They all make time for a nutritious breakfast. I make time for breakfast (we can quibble about how nutritious it is later) every day! Mostly because otherwise my Prozac makes me nauseous. And that makes me feel pregnant. Which makes me anxious. Which makes me want more Prozac. It’s a vicious cycle that a bowl of Special K can cut off so yes! I do make time for breakfast. Ha!

Here is the rest of my morning routine. Also known as “why I will never be a mogul.”

5:15- Alarm goes off. Ignore.

5:30- Alarm goes off again. Drool a little and ask husband if it’s the cuddle alarm* or the real alarm. Real alarm. Swear. Grumble.

5:31- Wonder if I the fact that I’m so tired is because I’m pregnant. Ask husband if he thinks that’s the case. He assures me that I am not pregnant (whew, back to the prozac and wine) and the actual children in the next rooms are the reason I’m so tired and not the phantom ppd anxiety baby I’ve created. This makes sense.

5:32- Demand that husband shower first and leave the water running while he comes and gets me because the thought of even turning that dial is too much to handle. Also that’s like 90 more seconds of sleep I could get.

5:40- Shower, makeup, get dressed, clean up bathroom upstairs and master bedroom

6:00- Get downstairs, make cup of coffee. Unload dishwasher, clean up kitchen from the mysterious overnight mess-making that always seems to happen. Forget about coffee.

6:15- Warm up coffee for the first time. Clean whatever part of the house needs it the most. Forget about coffee

6:30- warm up coffee the second time. Drink a few sips of it while saying a few uninterrupted sentences to husband. Ask what time he thinks he’ll be home that night. Add 45 minutes for good intentions. Decide what time I can start drinking wine. Say goodbye to husband.

6:35- Emails, permission slips, mail, whatever random crap comes across my desk, while shouting, “No you can’t get up yet be quiet don’t wake your brother!”

6:45- Brother is officially awakened, go upstairs and get daughter. Pretend like saying “yes” when she asks to watch PBS is a unique occurrence and not something that happens every day. Gather up her clothes so that I can dress her manually like I did when she was 18 months old. Because kindergarten is that stressful. Get son up, and dressed in the first outfit of the day because he has my kidneys wets through the biggest size Pampers makes and OH MY GOD HE’S ONLY SIXTEEN MONTHS WHAT THE HELL.

7:00- Give son water and Cheerios so he can see how far he can throw them this morning. We’re not great with nutrition, but are working super hard on fine motor skills!

7:02- Ask daughter what she wants for breakfast. Am told she wants to think about it.

7:05- Ask daughter what she wants for breakfast. Am told she wants to think about it.

7:08- Ask daughter what she wants for breakfast. Am told she wants to think about it.

7:10- Ask daughter what she wants for breakfast AND WE’RE GETTING DRESSED IN TWENTY MINUTES SO YOU HAVE TO ANSWER ME SERIOUSLY. Am asked “what are my options?”

7:11- All options are rejected in favor of something in the shape of a duckie. I don’t even know. As a consolation prize, she’ll probably eat a bagel. Maybe. She’ll see after I make it.

7:14- The bagel is accepted, as long as she can eat it in the family room, with the coffee table pushed up to the sofa, and tucked in with blankets. Again, I pretend this doesn’t happen every day because it makes me feel like a better mother.

7:20- Begin first feeding of son. He gags as I open the baby food container. Ah. Always a good sign.

7:30- Finish feeding of son after he finishes all the food and/or starts to retch. On a good day it stays down and he goes running off to destroy some other part of the house. On a bad one we puke, strip, and move on to breakfast/outfit number two.

7:39- Start car. Because we live on Hoth, apparently.

7:40- Tell daughter it’s time to get dressed. And by get dressed I mean stand there watching Curious George while I dress you. She runs away to hide behind the couch. Ah. Mornings. I’m going to miss this next year when we homeschool.

7:41- Physically demand that daughter allow me to get to dressed. After some whining, she acquiesces. Just to be clear, she’s not happy about it. There will still be the squawks, screeches, random shrieks, and of course, the “MOMMY THE BUTTONS ARE TOUCHING MY SKIN!” dance we have to do around the living room for a few minutes.

7:46- Begin the hair combing process. Just like women were mercifully unconscious during childbirth in the 1950s, it’s perhaps best that we draw the curtain over this part of the morning.

7:50- Waddle to the car in our outerwear. Scream a little. Say that our safety restraints are too tight. Balk when I say that they have to be tight to protect her. Declare that dying in a fiery highway crash is probably preferable to the horror of that strap touching my neck.

7:52- Back over the garbage. Every week.

7:58- Cruise past school to see if the “valet service” (older kids who will walk our baby kids into the classroom) is staffed by girls (who are old and cool and may as well be Anna and Elsa for all Eva cares) and I can keep the car on and the baby inside and pull easily away into traffic or boys (who are old but scary and uh-uh mommy, I want you to take me in) and I have to circle the block and use death trap they refer to as a parking lot. Boys. Of course.

8:01- Park car, get son out, unbuckle daughter. Try to ignore the fact that she’s refusing to go in. Assure her she’ll have fun. Assure her I’ll come back for her. Assure her all will be well.

8:03- Pull daughter out of the car, and walk in to school, dodging cars and bikes, and a few horse-drawn carriages, I don’t know.

8:05- Get inside, take daughter’s coat off. Feel badly looking at the pictures on the wall because I was supposed to drop off a picture of daughter from the summer but I never got around to it and now like every kid has their picture up except mine *sigh*.

8:06- Pull son out of the kindergarten room. The one I’m spending thousands so she can attend can’t be ripped away from the doorframe; her brother decides it’s his life’s goal to be in K4.

8:08- Kiss daughter goodbye. Reassure her that I will come back.

8:10- Get son strapped in the car. Attempt to get out of parking lot.

8:11- …

8:12- …

8:14-…

8:15- Finally pull onto a road.

8:30- Get to my mom’s where she takes care of my son and I can actually drink a cup of coffee.

I don’t know why I don’t have time to form a multi-national corporation or anything.

*Yes we have a cuddle alarm. Shut up. We have a great marriage.