Tuesday, April 29, 2014

See the Boss. Bringing Your Rhythm is Optional.

Last week we went to see an awesome concert. You might have heard of him?? Bruce Springsteen. Hubs and I love a good concert, and he has been on our See-them-live Bucket List. We missed him when he came to a few years ago, and when the opportunity came up to see him, Hubs got me tickets for my birthday/anniversary gift. Well, done Boo. Well. Done.

I felt like I would be remiss not to give you my thoughts on the show... (you know you want to know.)

1. Boss fans are hard core. So hardcore they like to show it on their person. I have never seen so many concert t-shirts at a concert. Hubs made it a punch-bug game. Every time we saw someone with a Springsteen tee we punched the other one. It was a great way to keep things hopping while weaving through the crowds. My arm does hurt today. Never fear, I purchased me own merch, so I will be one of the cool kids if we ever go again.
Mama's ready, y'all. I now can wear The Boss,
stretched across my bosom at a moment's notice.

(Can you tell LadyB is the only one in the house with a full-length mirror?)
2. Springsteen appeals to a certain crowd. Like the white-over-50 crowd. I have been to a few live shows in my day. One of my favorite people to see live is Billy Joel, so I am familiar with this strata of music lover. However, this show took that to a new level. Looking out across the dancing crowd, we were among the youngest in our section. There was a grandma behind me that looked like she was a librarian or the receptionist for a church. I know she has a collection of plates with kittens on them. But she knew every word to every song. And she never took her face off Bruce the entire show. She just swayed in place, staring adoringly, while mouthing the words, her sweet old lady hands folded under her chin. I hope to be that cool when I am wearing elastic waisted jeans and a sweater with the undershirt built in. 

3. While #2 is true, Springsteen does have pull with the youngsters. There were quite a few little kids there, who no doubt have grown up listening to his music in their parent's minivans. I didn't really notice the husband/wife in front of us until their young college-ish daughter came up to sit with them for the last 25 minutes of the show. She and her daddy danced and sang and jumped and hugged. It was awesome and obvious that one of the things that bond these two who are so different is their love of this music. I hope LadyB and Hubs have a few bands like that. He is hoping for Widespread. I think he should take what he can get. (Though it is possible, her noodleing skills are top notch).

4. Springsteen played for 2 hours and 48 minutes. Most bands half his age don't do that. And apparently that was on the short side for him. It was a thursday night, which was a little rough it being a school night and all, but we lasted all the way to the end. The tickets are pricey, but he does give you your money's worth. He is a spirited and sprightly man--he danced his way all over that stage, and out through the crowd quite often. He must have to ice his entire body after every show. I also suspect after seeing some of his moves that he may practice the Yoga.

5. The Boss's wife, Mrs. Boss, is the smartest woman in show business. Best way to keep your eye on your husband while he is touring? You go with him. Like, all the way onto the stage. Genius. Hard to have a wandering eye when your wife is in your field of vision, literally 12 feet away. Well played, Patti.

6. You don't have to know all the songs to enjoy the show. I knew at best every three to four, until the end when he rocked a lot of his old ones. Didn't matter. The crowd energy and show made up for it. You don't have to be an obsessed fan to enjoy the show. And if you need entertainment when he is playing something obscure, there are plenty of stare-itis opportunities to keep you happy.

7. If you go, and you have a modicum of rhythm, you will probably be the best dancer in your section. Because of the crowd, (old white people) the dancing/clapping scene is painful. Even times when the whole venue was rocking, every person in the crowd was clapping and swaying and bouncing to the beat of a different drummer. Certainly not Max up on the stage. But what they lacked in rhythm they made up for with torrid enthusiasm. Though hard to watch with a straight face, you have to appreciate that they all knew every word and were not afraid to express themselves through dance. Awkward dance, but dance nonetheless.

8. We drank close to $60 worth of alcohol. Him, beer. Me liquor drinks. That has nothing to do with anything, I just feel that it should be noted because that is highway robbery. Shame on you RBC center. Not to mention we had to pay $20 to park. Seriously. $20. Insanity. And that wasn't valet. That was park and walk a bit. For $20 they should drop me off, take it to get washed while I see the show, then pick me back up.

Yes, all the things you hear about seeing the Boss live are true. Don't be alarmed when you go (of course you'll go, you should always take my advice, duh) and hear everyone booing. They are actually yelling "Bruce." It is confusing to a first timer. If you want to be able to touch him, sit in the front section because he booty shook and sashayed all through there. And if you really want to be prepared, go online and order a t-shirt off E-Bay for a show that happened in 1987. Wear is and then dance on the off beat and everyone will think you are an old pro.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Disney...The Facts No One Tells You

So, Disney World. It is an intense vacation. It's not like driving to the beach, staying in a house, and driving home. You have to know things. And pay attention to details. I am not much of a detail person. I am more of a show up, have fun, and leave kind of person. I am the baby. Everyone knows the last born is never to be trusted with making any kind of important decisions. We have spent our whole lives with other people telling us what to do. I married an oldest child for a reason. I don't do decisions for a group. It makes me sweat and heavy breathe. What if everyone hates it and gets mad at me? What if I pick the wrong meal plan? What if I choose the wrong hotel? (Which I did, and the one time I let my dad in on the process he changed where we were staying and upgraded us so that was actually a win.) What if I get the dates wrong and tell the whole family we are going on Monday, but our reservations aren't really until Tuesday? Oh wait, I did do that last thing. We spent all day on Saturday getting ready to go. Haircuts, shoe shopping, last minute run for snacks. We up early Sunday and as we are finishing up packing, I happen to glance at the carefully made itinerary packet Corby put together. And happen to glance at the date of check in. Tuesday. Wait, what? Tuesday. Check 7345 more times. Look at my calendar. Check 2690 more times. Then calmly and quietly tell Anthony that we were actually supposed to be leaving Monday. And then calmly call my father and tell him we would be there a day late. Then, the worst part of all, tell the child that mommy had the days wrong and we really weren't leaving for Disney until the next day. She put her head in her hands and said, "you've got to be kidding me." Wish I was, baby girl. Then we took her out for guilt pancakes and promised her we really were leaving the next day. I am just thankful we didn't get to our hotel to discover we actually didn't have reservations yet. I would have died. Thankfully, it was the only true snafu.

Below is a little list of "facts" that I learned during our time in Disney. There are things we loved, things we would do different, things we would skip, things we would make time for. But what I have compiled below are things no one thinks to tell you. Or maybe they do, but they just forget to tell me. 

She is posing like she is a model on Star Search.
Please notice the kiss on Van's head from that
minx Snow White.
1.   Fact: The Bibbity Bobbity Boutique (BBB) is not for the faint of heart. It's basically pricey little endeavor that transforms your sweet little girl into a contestant on Toddlers and Tiaras. Imagine if Honey Booboo and a caboodle full of Wet n Wild and LA Looks  had a baby. Also, it was emotionally overwhelming for our girl. She was so intent on being a big girl and holding it together she was a hot mess after we left. Basically a fairy Godmother (in our case a lovely young girl in a maiden's frock and hipster black glasses named Sierra) gives the little "princess" a complete makeover including an updo with optional hairpiece (which we got, of course), makeup, nails, face stickers and lots of fairy dust (glitter. everywhere.). Once Her Highness determined Sierra was not going to actually cut her hair, only fix it, she relaxed. There was minimal crying when the bun hurt a little, but the real tears came at the big reveal. She took one look at that big, teased up white bun and started bawling. Sierra handled like a champ and took another five minutes mashing it back down while the princess whimpered. I was torn between being proud that she was horrified, and sad that she didn't love it. She recovered and left all smiles. We probably won't do it the next time we go, but I think she has fond memories. And she loves that damn white and blue hair weave.  

2.   Fact: The people who Disney employs to be in charge of the character meet and greet lines must have to pass a test proving that they are stone cold emotionless in the face of sobbing children. Both times we went to see Mary Poppins we missed that fool woman by mere seconds. Then it happened again with Pluto. None of the line people even flinched when my sweet child started crying. They are no joke. Hard. Core. Don't bother pleading or making sad eyes. They don't care. Seriously. Not a bit. There only concern is making sure their character doesn't pee his furry suit or stroke out in the heat.

3.   Fact: WDW is very baby friendly. Stroller parking everywhere. Almost all the rides that we went on Baby Bear went on too. I even fed him in Mickey's Philharmagic and on Spaceship Earth. I seriously hope there were not any cameras or the security people got to see full boob. Much like the group of middle school boys who happened to stroll by when I was feeding him in the shade while everyone else rode Haunted Mansion. Babe pulled back to yell at me mid-meal and I wasn't fast enough. Let's just say those boys went home men. He was quite the trooper for the whole trip. If anyone asks about taking a baby to Disney, I tell them the truth. He was the easiest to make happy out of everyone in our party.

4.  Fact: The more reservations you have, the more stressful your trip is. We planned left for Orlando an hour and a half late, (right on time for anyone in my family). Or course we arrived at the hotel late and had to speed to our reservation at The Rainforest Cafe. Apparently they are used to harried mothers running up with a look of desperation, apologizing for being an hour late, because they sat us immediately. We had a lovely dinner amidst the gorillas and thunderstorms, and ate an amazing dessert called The Volcano which I ate until I thought I would die. The first morning we had an 8:40am reservation at the BBB for the full hooker Princess makeover, and then 10:05 reservation to have breakfast at Cinderella castle. The night before I was frantically making sure we were 100% ready.  Laying out clothes, packing the backpack with all essentials, double checking times. And because she chose to take her Elsa dress to her makeover and because she is adverse to any of the cheap netting touching her skin, I had to cut the long sleeves off her dress. Yes, you read that right. I was the mom at the front desk of the hotel at 10:30pm hacking the sleeves off of a dress that is currently selling on eBay for at least double. We had a reservation at Chef Mickey for the Mickey and friends meet and greet at 5pm for the second night. Our plan was to return to the hotel mid afternoon, rest, and head upstairs for an early dinner, and then go back to the park. That was all great except we didn't get back until about 3:30 and meltdown was imminent. I attempted to change the reservations, but there were none to be had. I was fairly certain the concierge was smirking at me when I asked him to call and check, but whatevs. So we let Her Highness sleep for an hour then we went and hoped for the best. Sometimes a little nap is worse than no nap, but thankfully seeing her large dancing furry friends and eating chicken nuggets and a huge brownie was enough to pull her through. I am not saying to not do things that take reservations, but just keep in mind the timetable can be a little, uh, stressful. Especially when dealing with a fickle four year old. 

5. Fact: Seeing my kid meet all the characters and princesses
Her smile says it all. She loves those vermin.
was awesome. If you are in a Disney movie, more than likely she knows and loves you. 
We enjoyed an overly salted breakfast in Cinderella Castle and it was totally worth being dehydrated the rest of the day to watch my girl's excitement while meeting her princess heroes. She was awestruck at first, but by the end she was charming them. We waited in line for only about fifteen minuets and we got a one-on-one meet and greet with The Mouse. HB was completely awestruck. It makes sense considering her entire life, since the age of 6 months, has been been building to the exact moment she got to hug Mickey. She almost wet her pants waiting to hug Chip and Dale. Literally. We waited in long lines to meet Rapunzel and Belle and Daisy. She carried her little pink autograph book and passed many a minute waiting in various lines talking about and gazing at the autographs. Don't stress about the lines for meeting the characters. If that's what they want to do, let them do it. It is not everyday that Jasmine hands you a bag of extra special fairy dust or you see Alice in Wonderland. 

6.  Fact: Even though they are at freaking Disney World, sometimes all the kids want to do is swim in the pool. And that's okay. Or they want to sit and color a mask in Epcot that you can buy in the dollar bin at Target. Or they just want to ride the monorail. Or they just want to rest in their stroller. And it's all okay. Having that much fun and excitement is hard work. Halfway through the first day, HB was fried. She asked to go back to the pool three times. Finally we relented and that afternoon we had a great time watching her do the water slide over and over. At first it was hard to go back to the hotel when we had only been in Magic a Kingdom for 4 hours, but doing that enabled us to go back in after dinner and last through the nighttime parade. Totally worth the break. 

7.  Fact: Waiting in line can be confusing. For our first ride we got in line to ride the carousel post BBB makeover. She immediately saw a decked out purple horse and proclaimed that it would be hers. Except another little girl got to it first. Cue the crying and wailing. And then a rude woman snagged the other one she wanted, and there was more screaming. I wrestled her into the chariot that no one wanted so the ride could start, and spent the full two minutes trying not to barf while I held her down and attempted to explain the process. Waiting in line, getting what we get, and that we could do it as more than once. While we waited in line the second time, she cried when the ride started. I finally figured out that she thought she was missing it. Point taken. Make sure to explain to your kids that the rides run over and over again. I was almost in tears at this point considering this was the first ride of a long three days of riding rides. There was not enough patience in the world to survive that. Then we went on "It's a Small World." Halfway through the ride she looked at me and said, "this is the best moment of my life." And that my friends, is why you take your chilruns to Disney. After she got the whole "waiting in line" bit down, she was good. We did catch her licking the handrails, and that was kind of gross. More for the lady who was staring at her doing it and less for me, who has seen the Badger do way worse.

8. Fact: There is a lot of crying at the happiest place on earth. I actually loved the sound of other people's kids crying. It made me feel better when mine was losing her mind. Post BBB there were 4236 mood swings. Apparently having your hair in a tight ass bun can make you unpredictable and volatile. And that was just day one. They all freak out at some point, if not many points. It's really okay. In the line for the Belle meet and greet you end up standing in a tiny "cottage." There was a boy in there with us who was screaming and crying like he was waiting to watch Mrs. Potts murder Belle. His mom had him in a corner doing that thing we all do where you get in your kid's face and whisper scream in such an intense fashion you are both sweating and heavy breathing. I wanted to hug them both. With the amount of emotional overload and high energy fun, parents must mentally prepare for the intense emotional swings. Enjoy walking through the park and listening to other people's crying children. That's the sound of a great trip.

Disney is amazing. Way better then when you went as a kid. Because you are experiencing it through your child's eyes. And in the words of my girl, "this is the best time I have ever had in my life." Don't stress and go with the flow. Kids know what they do and don't want to do. Follow their lead. Don't freak when they want a ten dollar balloon or when they want ice cream for lunch or when they just want to ride the same ride five times. What happens in Disney stays in Disney. Except the $10 balloon. That rides all the way home and then their dad accidentally pops it unpacking the car. Or the BBB hairpiece. When you unzip the suitcase that jumps out and gives you a heart attack because you think an electric blue and white rodent has stowed away in your child's bag. 

Take your kids to Disney. You won't be sorry. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Abandoning The Everything: My Messy Beautiful Epiphany

We can't have it all. We can't do it all. We can't be it all.  Ladies. We. Can't. Have. It. All. It is not possible. 


There, I said it for all of us. I feel so much better now. The ones who are saying it is possible to have it all and not have your head blow off are flat out lying. All of my friends, especially the ones who work, are frazzled, tired, and unsure of how they are making it through each day alive. So who are these "I'm doing it all, no problemo, people"? I am always trying to do it all, and I am always failing at it miserably. Like nursing the baby in the car waiting for preschool to dismiss while I answer emails and make a grocery list. Then I get milk all over my phone, send a half finished email by accident, drop the grocery list when I was rush up the stairs to get Honey Badger, and I am still late. I am not sure why anyone would tell this life ruining lie, but they do. And I am over it. I reject being The Everything. 

I am the proud owner of two kids, one part time job, one insanely messy house, one insanely messy car, one husband, one blog, and one group of various and sundry friends that for some reason continue to ask me to hang out with them even though I have to say 'no' all too often. I am all up in the volunteer scene at preschool (I can only assume it is similar to being on the board of a fancy art museum, but with more book sales and bulletin boards, and less cocktail parties. Same-same.) I am supposed to be cooking for my family, and teaching my child about things like planting a garden and what recycling is and how to tie her shoes, but instead we eat at Jason's Deli and I let her watch Frozen on repeat, and count on preschool for the educating. It doesn't feel great. But we are all still alive, full, and entertained so, go me.

Last week I was sitting at my desk at work with Baby Bear laying in my lap nursing while I typed away. I had this crazy out of body moment, where I floated up to the ceiling and saw myself working my arse off at  everything I was doing at that exact second. Including pounding a venti Starbucks coffee, which is the only thing keeping me moving forward and not laying face down on the floor of life. I am at that stage of mommying where I am not sleeping and my house looks like a gaggle of four year olds had a two week princess rave and my sink is more full than my cabinets. Where do the days go? How am I not getting anything done? Being a work from home mom was supposed to make life easier. Um, not so much. Fulfilling? Absolutely. Exhausting? For sure. But never, ever easy.

A smart woman once told me that the feminist movement made things harder for mothers. A truth in so many ways. At first it was all bra-burning and speeches and striving for equality. Now it has turned into mothers have to be The Everything. We think since we earned the right to be badasses, we have to be badasses. At all the things. Wife. Mother. Cook. Employee. Friend. Diaper Changer. Nose Wiper. Volunteer. Party Planner. And I am tired. I can't do The Everything and be everything to everyone. And we have to do it all, perfect and alone. But I don't want to do everything. I certainly can't be everywhere and take care of everyone. And the last thing I want is to be alone doing all of this. I am certainly not badass enough for all that.

So let's stop. Stop trying to do everything. Stop trying to be everything for everyone. It's gonna be okay. Just stop. I am not anti-feminist. What I am is anti-you have to do it all to be a real woman. I am pro-happy mom. I am pro-helping others. I am pro-letting others help you. As women we often don't, won't, or can't ask each other for help.  It feels like we are upsetting the balance of the universe. Well, I think the universe may a need a little unbalancing. Helping is how we show each other, "hey, I am in this life with you. I want you to be your best self and you can't do it alone. Me neither." Let's stop being martyrs and start being friends. Is the perception of being "the one who does it all" really that important? That we would forgo our peace and sanity just to be the one who makes every snack, does every tuck in, and clean every toilet? Nope. Can't do it. People in my life, please help me. Let me help you. Let's be feminists who help each other. And feminists who accept help from others. That's the kind of feminist I'm interested in being. 

I often find myself hanging by a thread, being pulled by all the responsibility hanging off my ankles. Someone throws up in my shoe, and someone else breaks a plate, and then it is bedtime and no one is asleep, but I still have work to finish and lunches to pack and oh yeah, we have the letter pail. On and on and on it goes. Then I talk to my best friend and we laugh. And my husband does the laundry. And I make plans trade babysitting with a friend. And I know that I am not in this alone. And I remember that I don't have to be The Everything to be Something. 

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project  over on Momastery.— To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Doing Disney (and How to Get Someone Else to Plan It)

Disney World. We went, we saw, we rode, we laughed, we cried, we survived. And it was awesome. And stressful. But mostly awesome.

Let me start by saying that when I planned our trip I was 8ish months pregnant, getting ready for baby, getting ready for Christmas, keeping an almost four year old alive, and working. It was a busy time. I turned to my favorite information source, Facebook, and crowd sourced the best way to plan. Half the people said do it yourself, half the people said use an agent. Some said stay on site, others said never stay in the park. There were votes for using the meal plan and just as many said you don't need it. See my problem? You didn't make it easier people, you made it much more confusing. Then one day at the office my boss gave me the name of a woman who plans Disney vacations. The clouds parted and angels started singing and the sun shone down right where I was standing. Corby Cook. (Can you hear the angels? I can totally hear them.) I wrote her an email of when we wanted to go, what our family was like, and that I needed help. She wrote me back, and was so sweet, and told me exactly what I wanted to hear: "I can take care of everything." Bam. Yes, please.

And she did, y'all. She took care of it all. Sister has been to Disney over 20 times in the last six years, so this isn't like getting advice from your friend's aunt who has a time share. She knows things. And more importantly, she knows how to make them happen. Like booking the hotel (even after we changed our minds like three different times of where we wanted), reservations for meals, fastpasses, and itineraries for each day.  She was even nice when she would tell me to look at something and make a decision, and I would promise to do it, and then I would look at it and have a panic attack, and just ask her to decide for me. She didn't even hate me after that.  She sent us a packet of organized information with pages and pages of things I would never think of, like the best place to get certain snacks or where to stand for the parade. See? She knows things. And the most amazing part? The part I still can't believe? We didn't even have to pay her. She gets commission for bookings. I can't imagine how that covered the emotional cost of putting up with my rambley emails and indecisiveness. I haven't gotten a bill, so I think we're good. Still, I won't be surprised if I get one for pain and suffering.

So our plan was drive to Savannah to my parents' and spend the night. Then we all drive to Disney World (they came too). We'd do Disney for three days, then leave and drive back to Savannah, then home. Perfect. A week of no work (which I almost never do since I can take my work anywhere), of all playing and enjoying family time. Stay tuned for the next few posts, where I will talk about our trip. Like how I almost ruined the trip before it even started, the many emotional breakdowns of LadyB, the highs, the lows, and a special edition of Stareitis: Disney Style. It is impossible to put the whole trip into one post. I mean I could, but I would be leaving out things like Baby Bear barfing in the middle of a photo op, the insanity of paying money to turn your child into an emotionally exhausted princess, and why I was partially topless on at least two rides. I will also give pointers on traveling to Disney with a family where no one has any inkling of what is going on and they have left you, the person who hates being in charge, in charge. It will be an education, my people. And please, for the love of Walt Disney and all things Mouse, if you are thinking about going to Disney World, hit my girl Corby up. You will not be sorry. You will be the opposite of sorry. I am thinking about asking her to just take the reins and plan the rest of my life. She is that good.
Is it too much to ask for my kids to get it together in family pics? HoneyB looks like she
has just been hit with an electric cattle prod and Baby Bear looks like he is very angry at
something on the ground. Gah.


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