Astrology. What a funny thing, right? I mean, whoever invented astrology (cavemen, according to Wikipedia) was kind-of brilliant:
"You, Bork. Me, Tuk. We love our birthdays."
"ugg ugg." (Bork hadn't quite learned the art of speaking yet)
"For birthday, Tuk get Bork white blinky things in the sky."
"Based on your birthday, white blinky things mean different things. They tell Tuk all about his personality and what his day will be like." (Tuk had highly advanced speaking skills for a caveman)
Think about it, astrology is a way for any self-centered person (all of us) to have a reason to be crazy.
"I know I like to throw things when I'm mad and I'm sorry I gashed open your forehead with a giant vase, but I couldn't help it. It's because I'm a Scorpio. It's in my stars."
What's even better is that you can read made up blurbs about what your day is going to be like based on the day you were born. Like fortune cookies only longer and with less crunchy goodness.
So, you can see how I was a bit skeptical of horoscopes my whole life. That is, until the boy guessed that I was a Pisces ON OUR FIRST DATE! "I could tell by the shape of your face," he said confidently. Wha?? That's not even a thing... Is it? Maybe it's my charming fish-like smile.
Anyway, after that, I drank the Kool-aid. I knew which signs I was compatible with, and which ones to avoid. I held firm to anything in my personality that proved I was indeed a Pisces.
And then, I started having babies. My first two daughters are Capricorns, which are goats. Perfect. I freakin' love goats. I could definitely handle that. Plus, as any astrology connoisseur knows, Pisces is a water sign and Capricorn is an earth sign...a fancy woo-woo way of saying they get along great. Things were going swimmingly (har har, get the water reference? I crack myself up)
(I mean, come on. Who doesn't want a handful of these??)
Then, I got pregnant with a Ram. She would be born in April, making her an Aries, which is a fire sign. As we all (should) know, fire and water do not coexist well together. My hippie, star-loving mind was nervous. I couldn't handle an Aries Ram!
Why couldn't I just keep having little snuggly goats who hop around bleating and smiling all day? I could knit sweaters for them all even.
"This is ridiculous," my non-hippie mind scolded. "Who cares what sign your baby is?"
"You're right!" I agreed. "I being silly."
And so I bucked it up and stopped caring about the fireball brewing in my belly. Until that one day on the farm...
We stopped to feed the goats, because...well, because they're goats and they're always good for a laugh. The boy noticed a giant llama who was in the same pen, likely protecting the goats because...well, because they're goats. He said, "poor llama, nobody's feeding it anything." So I suggested he leave some grass on the post for the llama (because I'm pretty sure nobody wants llama lips eating right out of their hands). He complied and the now-happy llama approached to enjoy its feast.
But then, seriously out of nowhere, a RAM comes charging at this poor llama full on and butts right into its neck. The llama's whole neck does this rubber-bandy stretch and retract thing and I'm pretty sure it spit a big, fat spit as the wind got knocked out of it.
I stood, mouth agape, as this now-happy ram ate the llama's fallen food as though nothing had just happened.
I cried silently as the little goats continued to frolic and knock each other over in the background - completely oblivious to this head-butting fireball that was also in their pen.
Fast-forward nearly two years and I can say with certainty that I am indeed raising a ram. She even head butts her sisters on a very regular basis. But, I'm happy to say that I love it and (obviously) love her. She keeps me on my toes! I guess water needs a little fire sometimes just to keep from getting too flowy. Or something. Ask me again in another couple of years...
Sounds like a gimmicky ad, right? Get muscles like this guy without even lifting your pinkie finger, let alone a dumbbell. Not possible, you say? Well...okay, fine you're right. But, who wants to look like that guy anyway? He probably can't even feed himself with those arms.
I'm talking about a different kind of strong. Let me explain.
My daughter was born obsessed with princesses. Against all my best efforts—buying her much cooler toys like Business Executive BARBIE and Periodic Table Building Blocks—my daughter stood firm: she loved all things princess. Damsel-in-distress, pink, wearing shoes that kept slipping off her feet...she was the real deal.
And then it happened. She said to me one morning in passing, as though it wasn't the biggest announcement in her little life, "Mommy, my favorite princesses are Mulan and Pocahontas because they're so strong."
I wiped a proud tear from my eye and hugged my daughter, knowing that she would be okay in life.
You see, strong doesn't have to mean strong...err..strong doesn't mean physical...uhhh....I see how this article is going to get really confusing really quickly. Let me start over.
Strong, while on one hand referring to a state of physical well-being, can also mean so much more than that. To me, strong means happy. Let me say that again, with emphasis and standing apart from any other words so you know how serious I am about it.
Strong. Means. Happy.
Did you like the periods I added for effect? Me too. When you're happy, you've got a strength attached to you that is really hard to shake. You can stand up firmly for your ideas and convictions because you feel confident in them. And, how do you feel happiness? This is a serious topic that volumes of books written by exponentially more brain-studying people than me have explored, but one idea (that I'm a big believer in) is that you feel happiness when you feel true to yourself.
I like to call it Owning Your Own Strong. When you follow your true life path instead of listening to the noise of others, you have a chance to find real happiness. And, when you're really truly happy, (let's say it all together now), you are STRONG.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a Pocahontas costume to try to find on Amazon. You'd be surprised how hard they are to track down...I guess there are lots of little girls out there excited to be strong princesses.
I'm excited to announce that I've started a new project!
(passes around glasses of champagne)
I'd be honored if you checked out my new blog, www.bighappyblog.com. It's a site all about celebrating the every day things that make us HAPPY.
(raises glass to propose a toast)
And now, here's to being happy.
Guys, I'm glad to say that my husband and I have figured out a way to make the family bed work. I mean, we do want to snuggle with our kids and all; we know we only have limited time to do that.
So, using good old fashioned methods, here's my solution to fitting five people into one king-size bed comfortably ("comfort" is in the eyes of the beholder...or something).
"Wow," you say. "That's pure genius. How, pray tell, did you come up with that solution?"
I'll tell you, my friend. Simple, basic TETRIS math:
When our kids are teenagers, we'll slip into their bedrooms at night and snuggle up using these same scientific approaches. It's guaranteed to be a good night's sleep for all!
I don't have any pictures that actually pertain to this topic, but here's a great shot of a Mexican sunset to wet your whistle. Courtesy of my talented husband.
I love the ocean as much as the next person: the lulling rhythm of the waves, the glittering green against the blue surface, the pesky seagulls constantly trying to eat my lunch.
But, have you ever stopped to think about all the different creatures that live in the water and how all those different creatures poop in the water? On land, it's easy: you see a pile of yuckies (as me and my siblings called it when we were kids), you steer clear. Unless you're a fly, of course. In which case, dinner's on!
I first started thinking about this when my daughter was gifted with this delightful gem of a book:
It's a surprisingly graphic little story about...well, about how everyone poops. Meant to somehow encourage your potty-training child to poop in a toilet. The technique seems a little incongruent to me given that the book is called "Everyone Poops" and not "Everyone Poops in a Potty. So, Why the Heck Don't You??" Anyway, I'm getting off track.
One page asks this riveting (and disturbing) question:
...and I can sadly now say I know the answer to that question, because when I asked Google "What does whale poop look like," it didn't realize that I was just quoting a book and actually showed me what whale poop looks like...I recommend not doing the search for yourself. Come on, Google - I thought you were smarter than that.
Ever since reading that book, I have a bit of a hard time getting into the ocean. First, because I'm a terrible swimmer. But second, because I think about how all of the ocean is a toilet that we're voluntarily wading around in. It's usually a fleeting thought that gets quickly replaced with a gallon of salt water splashing into my face, but it's a thought nonetheless.
So, now here my husband and I are in Mexico, and we decide to do a little snorkeling. It was a fun excursion. Well, aside from being part of a starfish murder, that is. I was innocent, I swear. Our guide swam down to the shallow bottom and found a starfish under a rock. He handed it to us to hold and look at. When I was done looking at it, I dropped it—naively thinking it would safely land back to its home on the bottom. Instead, I watched a fish eye it hungrily as it sunk and then BAM, the fish aggressively attacked it one leg at a time until only little bits of the starfish were left to land safely home. Pretty sure the Buddhists would not give me good karma points for that one.
This is what my dreams looked like last night
But, that was nothing compared to the trauma of WATCHING A GIANT FISH PUSH OUT A GIANT POOP LOG RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY FACE AND THEN SWIMMING THROUGH IT BECAUSE I DIDN'T HAVE ENOUGH TIME TO SHIFT GEARS. People, I literally got crapped on by a fish. And not one of those cute, little stringy poops your goldfish offers up. It was a solid chunk.
Needless to say, I haven't showered since*. I think I'm gonna stay on the land today and maybe play with some beach toys.
* Don't believe that. It's a lie.
When our first daughter was born, we thought it sounded terribly romantic to let her sleep in bed with us. Because how in the world were we expected to let this poor, innocent baby sleep cold and alone in a room by herself?
Fast-forward three months later when we kicked our baby out of our bed and into her own crib because how in the world can a baby who’s hardly the size of a football and can’t even hold her own head up manage to take up 95% of our kind size bed??
With my husband on one side, sleeping straight up and down, me on the other side doing the same, and our baby sleeping totally perpendicular in between us—kicking my husband and punching me—our “sleeping” situation looked a little something like this:
It’s like our daughter was saying, “hey look, guys! I’m making an “H” for “Happy we’re all not sleeping again tonight. Yay me!”
And, we were like, “okay, baby. You’re done in here. Peace out.”
Fast-forward two additional children later and, as hard as we try to kept them out of our bed (think locking our door and putting live animal traps (the kinds with the jaws) outside of their bedrooms), we can’t keep our kids out of our bed. Come around 2am, it’s like they’re suddenly magnetically repelled from their own mattresses and positively charged to ours. More specifically, they’re drawn to coming in and sleeping on my face while simultaneously kicking my husband in his. Just like the old days.
A typical night in our household looks something like this (apologies for how exhausting this will make you, but I actually don't feel that bad):
7pm: Baby asleep in her crib
8pm: Older two girls asleep in their respective beds
10pm: I’m asleep in my bed (9:30pm if I’m lucky. I know, call me Old Grandma. It’s worth it)
12am: Middle child shuffles her way into our bed and forces her way on top of my arm to cuddle. Sometimes I notice, most of the time, I don’t. Call me neglectful. Whatever.
...and so starts a rousing game of "musical beds."
2am: Baby wakes up, waking me up. Well, waking everything up except for my arm that my middle daughter is lying on, which now feels like it’s infested with termites and tingling to no end. I carry my sleeping (and snoring—surprisingly loud for her size) daughter back to her room and then go into the nursery to cuddle baby back to sleep.
3am: Wake up disoriented to find myself snoring twice as loudly as my daughter while slumped over in the rocking chair with baby. Attempt to put baby in her crib, only to be met with screams from the baby that can best be described as Apocalyptic. For fear of waking the other children up, I bring the baby back to bed with me...to find that my middle daughter has somehow made her way back into my bed, taking up my whole pillow and stroking my husband’s beard in his sleep. I crawl into bed with my baby on one side and my middle child on my other side—committed to sleep like a stick with my arms and legs straight down because of the forces pushing into me on either end. My only other alternative is to raise my arms straight above my head, which always sounds more comfortable than it actually is. Trust me, I try every time.
3:30am: I sigh loudly and scoot my body as stealthily as possible away from my children, wishing I had paid more attention during Mission Impossible to study how to be more ninja-like in my movements. I make my way to my middle daughter’s bed to sleep untouched.
3:45am: My middle daughter makes her way back to her bed to, once again, nudge my arm to cuddle with me in her twin-size bed.
4:00am: My baby, through bloodhound-like smelling tactics, somehow toddles her way into my daughters’ bedroom; whining and begging to be pulled up to sleep on the other side of me. There are now three of us in a twin-size bed while my husband sleeps soundly in our king. I try really hard not to dwell on this too much every time. It’s hard.
7:00am: My oldest daughter wakes up, turns on all the lights and starts slamming through her drawers to get ready for school (she really loves school), waking the rest of us up. Well, except for my husband, who’s still sleeping soundly, and most likely spread out starfish-style in our roomy king bed. Must. Not. Dwell. On. That. Fact.
Every so often, we’re lucky and everybody sleeps the whole night in their own bed. Those are the mornings when we eat Hersey Kisses for breakfast as a reward.
I always think I sleep really great on those uninterrupted nights, but my husband just told me that a couple nights ago, around 2am, I pushed my hands underneath him and tried to lift him up—thinking it was my middle daughter out of habit—and then, get this, I tried to carry him back to my daughters’ room. I don’t remember any of this.
Except I don’t feel that bad about it, because every so often, my husband deserves to wake up at 2am, too. And now it feels like an appropriate time to quote my favorite parenting quote:
“Why do they call it ‘sleeping like a baby’? It should really be ‘sleeping like a husband.’” TRUTH
Anyway, I think it’s adorable that there’s all this debate about whether or not people should have a “family bed.” Any parent already knows that if you have children, you have a family bed by default, whether you like it or not.
*NOTE* This was originally posted on my old blog, www.bugandpie.blogspot.com. It took place a few years ago. I can't say I still don't "accidentally" steal things, but I can proudly say I have since retired my maternity coat.
1. We just got back from a trip to Mexico where I not only managed to accidentally steal some toys that the house we rented gave us to borrow for the week (I didn't even realize it when I took the toys out for my baby to play with on the plane! Bill had to point it out to me), but I also stole an entire Pack'n'Play. That's right. A freaking crib. I have big issues
2. A dialogue at a recently attended party:
Host: let me take your coats. I'll put them upstairs in one of the bedrooms
Me and Bill: Thanks! Great party by the way. (It wasn't really, but we wanted to be nice)
....roughly an hour and 25 minutes pass and a girl walks by us holding a coat over her arm...MY coat!
Me: Holy cow, that girl's stealing my coat! (I knew this to be true because it's a maternity coat from the Gap that I got last year when I was pregnant. It's such a great winter coat, though - I can't stop wearing it even though I don't have the belly to fill it anymore. I can't imagine many other non-pregger women are having that same issue with their identical Gap maternity coat. It had to be mine.)
Bill: Sure she is. (I wish I could give Bill some more credit than this for being sympathetic, but I can't. He stopped taking me seriously a long time ago. Plus, I was claiming that somebody was walking off with my coat...not a very typical crime)
Me: I'm serious! She just hung it up right over there! Maybe she's the official "move the coats to another location" person? They should at least warn us before relocating our coats!
Bill: maybe you should go check it out (shoos me away as he continues his conversation, although i can't imagine how any conversation in the world could be more important or enthralling than this great coat mystery)
So away I sleuthed, into the room where my coat was now hanging. I examined the tag closer - there was no question, it was my coat. That thief! I took it off the hook and started carrying it proudly back to Bill to show him. Just to back up my proof, I stuck my hand in the pocket where I put my gloves. Instead of gloves though, I felt a wad of (likely used) Kleenex and a set of (not my) keys.
Ut oh. Someone DID have the same issue as me with wearing their maternity coat around post-pregnancy (talk about issues). And she was standing right in front of me, watching me steal her coat!
Me: (after turning right around, hanging the coat up as gingerly and quickly as I could, running back into the room - completely ignoring coat-owner's eye - grabbing Bill's arm) go, go, go, go!
And that's why we left the party early.
Not to blow my own horn or anything*, but i think i've gotten pretty decent at this whole parenting thing. I mean, keeping three children alive and breathing is okay and all, but what I'm really proud of is the fact that, at some point every single day, I get my kids to fall asleep for extended periods of time.
Of course, there have been some confusing moments along the way. Mostly associated with the stacking rings toy that is the most basic children's toy in the world. I picture the stacking rings toy being one of the first toys ever. Little cave babies stacking rocks, bones, woolly mammoths, on top of other things. Turns out I was wrong in thinking it was a simple concept
Take for example:
In case you're thrown off by the fancy colors and round, shiny rings (that's how they getcha):
Granted, these notices don't really apply to us since our children were born with the intelligence of a 30 year old. BUT, for all other parents out there, how are you to know when it's okay to give this toy to your tot? Is 18-36 months a grace period where your baby can try it out for a couple of minutes at a time to prepare for when they're three? Are you sealing a dreadful fate for your child if you let him play with it between that period??
And if that's not confusing enough for you, try figuring out this stacking ring box:
Seven rainbow tower of the colors?!? Companion my baby the intelligence growth?!? YES please!
Honestly, I don't even know what to focus on in this description. I just really hope my children learn how to read and speak based off this box, because FOREVER ENTERTAINMENT
And the other side of the box:
The conversation in my head upon reading this side goes something like this:
"hahahahahahahaha. I can't understand a thing they're trying to say here. It's absolutely absur...wait - what's this wonderful rhythm they speak of that will exercise sense of hearing?"
(eyebrows raise in slight concern)
"It's a ring stacker, not a xylophone..."
(mouth gets dry)
"They repeat the same thing twice, though. that must mean it's an important part of the toy..."
(palms start getting sweaty and eyes start shifting nervously)
"Ut-oh, am i missing something in this toy that is developmentally crucial to my baby's growth??"
(hears baby in the background, playing the piano sonata she just finished composing)**
"...whew, I guess I dodged that bullet."
* I actually am blowing my own horn. On purpose even.
* My baby has never written a piano sonata. She plans to finish her concerto first.
Have you been to the Rainforest Cafe in Disneyland where you sit on barstools that look like this?
Awesome, right? I mean, what's better than bellying up to the bar and getting a little sloshy all while having a duck butt?
I'll tell you what's better. Getting your hair cut while having somebody else's legs, that's what.
So, I go to my salon today excited for a trim, scooch my bum into the seat ready for a couple of hours sans kids poking their fingers up my nose, and start to fake-chat with my stylist to seem cordial without suggesting that maybe we just skip the catch up and let me sit in utter silence. But then, I panic. I didn't wear those boots! I don't even own those boots for crepe's sake.
After a couple of minutes, I got used to the idea of my new legs. So, you can imagine my shock when they disappeared completely.
But, don't worry. Even though they had to scoot me out of there in a salon chair, my hair looked quite sexy.
Like what you see? Check out my quirky memoir about finding your path in life.
I'D RATHER WEAR PAJAMAS