"Alexa! Can you add A-batteries to my shopping list?" The hubs asks innocently. He doesn't notice the two sets of wide, little eyes that belong to his two smart, little daughters logging away his every word.
And that's how, days later, we ended up with this on our front porch:
(Okay fine, it was only half that size...)
(photo credit: Alabama News Center)
"What'd you order from Amazon?" The hubs asks.
"Nothing," I say. "What'd you order from Amazon?" Because it takes two to tango and all that jazz...err...tango music...
We open it up, and those same two sets of eyes that were watching their dad days earlier grow huge in excitement. Because, THIS is what was in that box:
"You ordered a dozen bags of marshmallows?" Hubs asks.
Pssh. Of course not! I mean, if we're being honest, I wasn't entirely positive it wasn't me. I have been known to accidentally order some pretty strange things in the past.
We notice our 4- and 6- year old daughters torn between full-on diving into the pile of white sugar-puffed bags, and hiding behind whatever shadow they can find on the floor.
"Did you guys order marshmallows??" I ask. They nod, equal parts sheepish and ridiculously proud. And rightly so. But how??
They point to our Alexa speaker. Hubs pulls up our Amazon account and, sure enough, one of the things in our order history from Alexa is indeed, a dozen bags of marshmallows. Luckily, that's the only thing they ordered that actually made it to our house... here's what the rest of our wish-list looked like, thanks to their little shopping spree with Alexa:
Baby ocelot?!? I mean, not to be picky, but I sort-of wish that was the item that had somehow made it to our house instead of a mountain of 'mallows.
"Alright," I say, trying to be the responsible parent instead of resisting the urge alongside my kids to jump into the bags. "Keep them in the box, I'll ship them back in the morning."
To my surprise, the girls don't complain. They don't even make a single peep (pun fully intended). It's the hubs who speaks up.
"No," he says. "Don't send them back. The girls ordered them, so now they need to figure out what to do with them. They can start by paying us back for their purchase."
I shoot the hubs a I-can't-believe-you look, but was secretly proud of his awesome dad-ness. Still no complaining from the girls, because it was dad who made the rule, not mom. Together, they calculate how much each kid owes us. Then, the girls shuffle to their tiny piggy banks and shake out the right amount of change.
It was a few days before Thanksgiving, and I hadn't done my grocery shopping yet. I did need some 'mallows for my sweet potatoes.
"Hey guys," I offer up. "Can I buy one of your bag from you?" They (with the help of their business-savvy daddy) ask me how much I'd pay for a sack at the store. Then, they UPCHARGE me, saying it's worth the price to save me a trip. Feeling slightly ripped off, but also terribly proud of my children, I can't refuse. They easily sell their first bag.
Their little sister starts freaking out, because there's a hill of marshmallows and no one's given her a single one. So, the girls (who are now on a role), figure out how many marshmallows are in each bag, divide that number from the amount they charged me for a whole bag, and demand 10 cents for each individual marshmallow.
Their baby sister (you guys, she was only two at the time) toddles off to her piggy bank and comes back with twin dimes. Cha-ching! In return, she receives two pillows of sugar.
(seriously, how could you charge that sweet face a single penny for a treat??)
And that's how my daughters turned a profit on their accidental (?) Alexa purchase. Quite possibly one of the hub's most brilliant and lasting lessons to date. Let it be a lesson to you, too: Business school's for suckers - get an Alexa unit instead ;)
In other news, I'm still waiting for that baby ocelot...
I don't think I'm really one to get star struck. Granted, I haven't seen many celebrities. At least I don't think I have...I'm fairly certain I wouldn't recognize one unless they turned up on my doorstep and introduced themselves.
One time, I did see Kevin Spacey in a little NYC breakfast joint. I noticed him and thought, "why does he look so familiar?" Then, I started staring, because that's just normal human behavior when one concentrates on figuring out a puzzle...right? He looked at me—in the squinty, yet not squinty way only Kevin Spacey can pull off—as if to say, "stop staring at me." I looked back at him—in the squinty way that gives me resting bitch face—as if to say, "maybe we worked at the same office?"
That's when my husband stepped in and whispered in my ear who he was. Thank goodness because I was seconds away from walking up to Kevin to ask him if our kids went to the same school or something.
I've had more experience with musician sightings. I love me a good concert, and I'm not afraid to act like an idiot in order to meet the band. I know, I'm awesome like that.
One time, we saw a really great Moby set. He was playing acoustic, which I hadn't ever heard him do. He was incredible.
Now, let me pause momentarily to share a tip with you. When meeting a celebrity, remember to play it cool. I mean, you don't want to seem overly excited to be talking to them. They're just normal people after all.
"Wow," I said to Moby when we met after the show. I was just going to shoot the breeze, as though he was some random guy behind me in a grocery store line. "I've heard so many of your songs, but I never realized until tonight how talented you actually are..."
Let me interject with another tip: don't insult a celebrity. I'm still working on this one.
"Um, thanks?" He squinted his eyes in the way only Moby can*. Then he walked off. It wasn't until I woke up the next morning that I realized I had given Moby a backhanded compliment. Apparently that's my version of "playing it cool." So, yeah - score one for me. I fully expect a solid comeback next time we meet, Moby. You've had plenty of time to work on it.
Hands down my favorite musician to bump into is the drummer, Brian, from the band Guster. Great band, great guys. Love love love. In typical me fashion, I actually gave him a backhanded compliment the first time we met, too. I'm just so good at it.
It was right after a concert. Instead of telling him it was a great show - which I now realize is a totally normal thing to say to someone who has indeed just performed a great show - I scolded him on the order of the set list. "You should have played these songs together, instead of those ones..." Something intelligent like that. Guys, I swear I'm a nice person in real life.
Anyway, I totally made up for it the second time I met Brian. It was at a show in San Francisco, and I was on a date with a guy I was less than interested in. Brian was hilarious, then we snapped a picture and went our separate ways. Because I'm just that cool (aka, I was bored at work and knew he'd appreciate the same random crap I do), I Photoshopped the picture and emailed it to the generic Guster address. Why not, right? This was pre-social media. It's not like they ever get to see the photos their fans take. I was doing him a huge solid.
You guys, you need to remember that Photoshop wasn't as advanced as it is now (yes...let's use that excuse for how this looks...). You can hardly notice it (thanks to my advanced skills), but if you look hard enough, you'll see I drew in Brian's right arm. It was necessary after deleting my date from the photo. I feel I need to once again emphasis how nice of a person I am in real life.
He loves this photo...I'm pretty sure it's hanging on his wall somewhere
Okay, so maybe I do get a little star struck. I just have a unique way of dealing with it. So far, so good I guess. I mean, Brian and I are friends now. You know, the kind who send each other Facebook messages for each other's birthdays and stuff. And, for the record, I never got any hate mail from Moby, so I'm calling it a success.
Kevin Spacey...I'm still not entirely convinced we didn't work together...
* I'm not actually sure if this is true... If we're being honest, it was the first time I ever saw Moby squint
I've been trying really hard not to add to all the noise surrounding the political events of the last week, but I can't take it anymore! It's all weighing too heavy on my heart not to write about it.
Yes, his #MuslimBan is awful. It goes against everything this country is built on. Yes, his disregard of what's going on with nature and the environment is so sad. The proof is in the pudding that global warming IS a real thing and that we NEED our National Parks. Yes, his disrespect and demoralizing of women is horrific. With three young girls of my own, I couldn't be more on the #girlpower band wagon right now.
I'll be the first to admit, I'm terrified of what lays ahead of us as a country—and, more importantly, as a world. I've been stockpiling my food storage and emergency kits like a fool. I'm a ridiculously optimistic person, but this time, it's hard to see what good could come of all of this.
There is a silver lining, though. And that silver lining is the chance we have to become a collective whole and put our feet down together. Can we please stop pointing fingers and dwelling on who voted for who? Can we stop saying hateful things to each other? Because, it's not about politics anymore. That's in the past. It's not about segregating ourselves or blaming our neighbors. It's about humanity. We're all in this together, whether we like it or not, and the only way we'll make a difference is if we stand together, hand in hand. In the words of Bill & Ted, "Be Excellent to Each Other."
This isn't going to end soon, I fear. So, we're going to need each other's support to not only get through it, but to change it. We can't be divided. We need to stand in solidarity with each other, as Americans.
* The fall weather is inspiring me to write about pumpkin patches... but also inspiring me not to write at all, so as a compromise, here is an excerpt from my book I'd Rather Wear Pajamas
Pregnancy is fun. Being pregnant with your sister and best friend? Fun times two. I’m very good at math.
Of all the hilarious experiences I’ve had with Meghan, and there were many, I think this one takes the cake.
One perfectly crisp autumn morning, we dragged our husbands to a fall festival. As a word of caution, if you choose to visit a pumpkin patch while hugely pregnant, you will get interrogated by at least 50% of the people there who think they’re being funny by asking if you’re smuggling out a pumpkin. I think this year, I actually will smuggle out a pumpkin in my shirt and people will just assume I’m pregnant. Joke’s on all of you, plus hey, free pumpkin.
Baby or pumpkin? You'll never know. mwah hah hah
This festival was so complex, it even had one of those tin trains for kids to ride in. You know what I’m talking about—the fantastically old metal ones with cars that look like giant empty soup cans turned on their sides.
Now imagine two full-grown (and fully-pregnant) women squeezing themselves into those little soup-can cars. It was not our wisest decision, but the train was practically empty, so Meghan and I asked if we could ride. The guy driving the rig replied that if we could get into the car, he’d take us around. So, we rode.
Hey, where’d my legs go??
It was sheer bliss, feeling the wind in our faces and the sun on our backs. Like heaven really. But, then it stopped and we had to get out. Only, we couldn’t.
Here are three things to keep in mind if you're ever considering going for this type of a train ride:
1. Soup-can cars are intended for children.
2. Soup-can cars are made of metal and aren’t at all flexible, so if you get stuck, you’re really stuck.
3. If you decide to ride in one despite my other points, at least remember not to wear slippery maternity jeans.
It took me a good several minutes to contort my way out of that thing. Thank goodness for prenatal yoga. In my own agony, I completely failed to remember how Meghan’s legs are significantly longer than mine and how her belly was a couple of months ahead of mine. Upon my escape, I found Meghan completely wedged into her soup can, not able to move an inch one way or the other.
To add to the scene, we emoted so much joy during our ride that several children ran up to wait for the next ride. So, the entire train quickly filled with eager children—except for one poor little kid who couldn't find an open seat because Meghan was stuck on the train.
Before long, an entire crowd had gathered around to see this fully pregnant woman jammed into the car. She should have gotten paid because clearly she had become the festival's main attraction. The more she tried to free herself, the more stuck she became. Our husbands got on either side of her and tried hoisting her up by her arms. Still no movement.
Like a true soldier, she hollered bravely to the driver, "Just start driving these poor kids around. I'll figure something out!" But, the mom of the boy without a seat would have none of that. Her son needed that soup can car emptied for him ASAP.
I was a terrible sister. I stood right next to her car and laughed my head off. I couldn't help it.
I laughed when the guy standing behind us said, "Welp, looks like you bought yourselves a new train!" I laughed when the moms of all the kids waiting for the ride to start crossed their arms impatiently and sighed louder than needed. I laughed when I pictured Meghan getting pulled out of that thing with the Jaws of Life. I laughed when the driver did absolutely nothing, because he knew it was a lost cause, and plus it was giving a bit of entertainment to his otherwise boring work day. Shoot, I'm even laughing out loud right now as I'm writing this.
After a solid twenty minutes, and by some autumn miracle, Meghan finally freed herself from the terrible grasp of the soup can car. In the process, her stretchy maternity pants slipped down to a level that would embarrass even a high schooler used to wearing his jeans hanging off his butt. Her supportive husband's only comment was, "Don't worry, sweetie. I’m pretty sure I’m the only one you mooned." It was fantastic.
Her only battle wounds (other than a battered ego) were some fantastic bruises on her knees. At her next OB appointment, her doctors saw the bruises and immediately sounded the alarms to check Meghan’s iron levels. Meghan just nodded and looked at the floor. She didn't have the guts to tell them that even the most iron-rich person in the world couldn't get out of that predicament without purpling up a little bit.
I have to be honest right upfront…you know that shirt that’s been making its social media rounds
No? Haven’t seen that one yet? Maybe it just pops up for me because Facebook knows me too well. I AM the world’s okayist mom. All. The. Time.
Sometimes I like to daydream that maybe, just maybe, someone someday will pick me up and plop me on a platform to award me the World’s BEST Mom gold medal, but then I feel my daughters’ little fingers (yes, daugherS’ plural, and yes, fingerS plural…no typos there) poking their way into my nose and I snap out of my daydream and whine at them to please stop, mommy needs a little break. And it’s true, mommies always need little breaks, right? We constantly push children off of us in order to cook dinner. We relish the times when we’re able to grocery shop by ourselves. We vie for the day when we’ll be able to take a shower in peace and quiet again instead of being crowded by tiny little butts, connected to tiny little heads all crying because they have soap in their eyes.
We put a pool in our backyard this summer. I know…you should feel jealous. It’s awesome. Better than awesome. It’s a double helping of incredible complete with extra gravy. We made the conscious decision to not sign our daughters up for any summer camps and took the leap to say no to unnecessary obligations, trips, logistics, and any other noises that buzzed in our ears. In the words of Dick Van Dyke as Edgar Hopper in What a Way to Go, we chose to “Simplify, Simplify, Simplify!”
And it was lovely. I committed to only cooking easy pool-side meals instead of trying to impress everyone with my incredible gourmet cuisine (note the word trying). I didn’t feel like a bum for not putting makeup on or doing my hair because, hey, I was just going to jump in the pool. I left my phone inside all day because who wants to risk their precious device getting splashed by giggling children?? I bought about a gazillion new swimming suits and got into the pool with my children - letting them climb all over me. It’s somehow more tolerable in a pool…I don’t know.
We had some friends over one day and I joked that it was shaping up to be the least productive summer ever! My friend looked out at the pool where our kids where splashing and laughing with the biggest smiles on their faces - like there wasn’t a care in the world, and he asked me, “Don’t you mean the MOST productive summer?” And of course, he was right. I was there. I was fully present with my family. And it was SO FREAKIN’ FUN! For a couple of blissful months, I let go of adulting and got to be on the same level as my kids. I fully earned that WORLD’S BEST MOM gold medal.
that's not actually me in the pool with my daughters..it's their swim teacher. I was just too lazy to look for another picture. Call it summer mode
Until one day when my daughters wanted to run a lemonade stand. Let me paint the picture: my girls don’t half-ass their lemonade stands. They insist on making fresh-squeezed lemonade table side for their customers. This means a trip to the grocery store because who has two dozen lemons laying around. Plus, I’m in charge of boiling down a simple syrup for them. They must have their insanely awkward-to-carry picnic table complete with umbrella hauled down to the bottom of the driveway. They’d be crushed if I didn’t scrounge up their cash box. Yes, they have a cash box. All things said, it’s not a huge deal, but it’s enough of a deal that it’s sometimes hard to say yes to. As most things parent-related are, right? It’s like, if I come up with an idea of something do to, I’m totally game. But, the second they come up with an idea and ask me to help? I get all shifty and come up with a million excuses why I can’t participate. And it’s always the dumbest stuff!
“Hey mom, could you read this book to me?”
“Uhh….well…not right now. I really need to…uh….poop.”
- or -
“Mommy, will you play dress up with me?”
“Sorry, I need to start dinner.”
“Didn’t we just eat lunch?”
“Yeah…it’s going to take a long time to prep.”
Why is saying yes to our kids so hard? Seriously, I don’t get it. So, I choked down all my excuses and agreed to help out with the lemonade stand. And, of course, as anyone could predict, it was (and always is) awesome.
We made the choice to have children and took full responsibility for all the…well, responsibilities of parenting. And it’s a total catch 22, because all the responsibilities of parenting keep us from having fun with our kids! But, my friend was exactly right - any time I can give those responsibilities the finger and be fully present with my kids over being an adult? Those are my most productive moments.
So, I'm in L.A. at the BlogHer annual conference right now (#blogher16), and as you can imagine - there is a lot of estrogen flying around here. Which, I must say, is really awesome. A roomful of kickass women is a powerful thing and I'm on a major high from it.
BUT, there's one buzz word that has been circulating a bit around here and its bringing up some feelings for me: FEMINISM.
Honestly, that word has been gently gnawing at me ever since I received one of the first reviews for my book, I'd Rather Wear Pajamas, last fall. You see, my story is all about finding my own version of strong after discovering that stumbling around trying to fit into other people's ideals for me just doesn't work. This reviewer started off by giving my book glowing praise, but then ultimately bashed it because at one teensy tiny point, I mention in a single sentence that I don't consider myself to be a stand-on-the-rooftop-and-declare-female-rights feminist. The reviewer made the argument that feminism is all about giving women the right to do anything a man can do. Fair enough. Could a man go off to find his own version of strong after discovering that he doesn't fit into other people's ideals of him? Sure. So, by this definition, Yes I am a feminist. I cowered and apologized to her directly, saying it was an ignorant oversight on my part (probably a very UNfeminist thing to do) and went about my life. But, it really got me thinking about what it means to be a feminist. I mean, isn't hoping for equality for yourself as well as everyone around you more than feminism? Isn't it humanism?
That was months ago. I've since received dozens more reviews, mostly great, and some not so great. But none of them have stuck with me as much as that one feminist comment. I've lost sleep over contemplating what it would look like to re-release my book just to get rid of that one word. Would that make a difference? Would it make more people happy? Would it be authentic to me? Do I fully embrace ALL the aspects of feminism?
Let me stop here and just say that I am 100% in support of feminism and I FULLY agree with the notion that women should be allowed all the same rights as men. Completely onboard with that. Sign, seal, deliver. And by that definition alone, I am a proud feminist. But, there's a darker side of feminism that I see creeping here and there, which makes me cringe. The little section of feminism (and I'm well aware that it's a small percentage of the movement) that pushes men down in order to let women rise up. I mean, in having all the same rights as men, shouldn't that mean we don't put ourselves above men?
As the mother of three young girls, I want nothing more than for them to grow up knowing that they could be an architect or an engineer or the freaking president of the United States. I tell them that day in and day out and will be there as their biggest fan in anything they choose to do. BUT, I don't want to encourage them to belittle men to get there. I mean, isn't that just separating out the sexes again?
My daughter has a shirt that says Strong Like a Girl, which I thought was a fun, empowering little phrase. But, my daughter - six years old and forever wiser than me - asked me what it meant. I explained that girls can be strong, just like boys. To which she responded, "So, why doesn't it just say strong like a person?" And I was speechless.
Part of our "homework" for this conference was to watch a handful of feminist tv ads and to vote for the ones we thought best captured the movement, or whatever. Some of the ads were legitimately awesome. Some of them even made me cry (cough, cough - anything featuring a dad and his daughter). A++ to these kinds of messages that simply and strongly say: Girls and women are amazing. That statement can genuinely stand on its own.
But, some of the ads actually made me feel uncomfortable in the way they either belittled men in order to boost up women, or the way they hyper-focused on how great it is that women can do the same things men can. I mean, isn't that teaching my daughters that we have to really put a lot of effort into saying girls are just as good as boys? Or, even worse, teaching them that they need to beat out boys in order to be better?
So, I guess what I'm saying is, I'm choosing humanism instead of feminism. I'm choosing an -ism that respects every human, regardless of sex. I'm choosing to teach my daughters not to strive to be better, or get more, than boys, but to strive to be the best humans they can be. And to help the people around them - men and women - to do the same.
Like what you see? Check out my quirky memoir about finding your path in life.
I'D RATHER WEAR PAJAMAS