Bully.

19 February 2014 | 2 Comments

bully-movie-poster

Dave and I watched Bully {<<affiliate link} last weekend on Netflix.   

If you haven’t watched this documentary, I really encourage you to do so.  It follows the story of families in which their child was being bullied, what happened, and how they coped.  Where possible, they also included school board or school administration’s involvement or lack thereof too.  If you are a parent and want to watch it with your child, please watch it yourself first.  It deals with mature subject matter and in my opinion, my first grader is too young for this.  Though, it very much did lead me to plan an age appropriate discussion with him.  I did see that they have an edited version available for younger viewers, but the full version is on Netflix.

Tell me why we’re teaching our children ‘new’ math, but we’re not teaching them empathy for their peers? 

It made me want to homeschool my children and box that abhorrent assistant principal’s ears in.  

I was infuriated, sad, and enlightened.  I think you will be too. 

Mostly though, I felt defeated on behalf of these parents.  How do you look at your child and realize that you have zero control over what happens to them when you’re not there?  How do you not absolutely lose your shit when your child commits suicide because that is a better alternative than dealing with repeated torment?  How do you not fall apart when you realize the extent of the torment the child you love has endured?  How do you impress upon the school administration that being repeatedly teased and tormented is not ‘kids being kids’ or your hypersensitivity?  Even more so, how do you impress upon them that THIS is just as horrendous as someone physically beating you up?  How can we make sure our kids aren’t the bullies or the victims?

There are thousands of kids, OUR KIDS, who deal every. single. day. with feeling unsafe, unloved, alone, afraid.  How is this ok? 

And what can we do to begin fixing it?

Have you seen the movie?

 

Updated to add:  If you would like more information on bullying, please visit the Long’s non-profit started in Tyler’s memory, Everything Starts With 1.

Oh, Her? It’s Probably A Midlife Crisis.

18 February 2014 | 17 Comments

It sucks when you feel like you’re not living your best life.   Right now, I’m not.

Think I’m kidding?  My biggest accomplishment this week was not screwing up dinner with my in-laws and beating level 154 in Candy Crush.

There.  I said it. 

I just maybe, might be, possibly having a midlife crisis.  I mean, that would really piss me off because if this is midlife, it would only mean making it to 74 and that really isn’t long enough to spoil my future grandchildren and make inappropriate comments that only the curmudgeon-est  old ladies can get away with.  You all are well aware that I am totally going to be that old lady.  So, maybe lets call it a third life crisis instead?

Yeah.  I’m coining that right now.

So, this third life crisis, I’m not going out to buy a new sports car or anything.  One, sports cars look absolutely ridiculous with car seats in the back.  Two, I don’t have a small penis.  In the interest of honesty, I don’t have a penis at all, but I’d imagine it would be huge if I did.

HUGE.

I was thinking about taking a young, probably foreign, lover.  Dave says that if that happens, I’m going to have to go back to work full time. 

I was going to take a vacation, but I’d have to take that little one with me and that sounds like a lot of chaos and very little relaxation.  This morning, she told me my boobs looked like mountains.

This is my life.

Too many snow days.  Not enough sunshine.  Writer’s block something fierce.  Deadlines that are looming.  Aforementioned snow days making actually meeting those deadlines impossible.  Picking up the same Legos 372 times this week.  A vomit filled child… seriously WHERE does he keep all that stuff in such a little body?  Too much crazy on the news.  A massive need for a hair color touch up.  Hormones making my face break out worse than a teenager.  Ridiculous first world problems that I feel embarrassed to admit to myself, let alone you guys.

I need to get unstuck.  I’m just trying to figure out a way to deal that doesn’t involve copious amounts of Xanax or little children telling me I’ve lost my mind.

Advice?

Do You Want to Build a… NO!

10 February 2014 | 31 Comments

This morning when I was driving the boys to school, I realized that I haven’t been out of the house in almost a week.  That little fact came to me when I stupidly asked myself, “where did ALL this SNOW come from?” 

Because, really…

081 Snowmageddon Ohio 

An entire street lined with three to four foot snow banks as far as the eye can see.  You start to feel a little like the ball in a pinball game.  Don’t forget to hold your breath, make the sign of the cross, and attempt to pull over into a space where a driveway has been shoveled out if you need to pass another car coming the opposite direction.  This street isn’t big enough for the two of us.

Oh, I know you Northern Michigan, Minnesota, and New York  peeps are rolling your eyes at me right now.  What is 62” of snow among friends, right? To put it in perspective, it’s almost three times our normal snowfall.  We’re woefully underprepared for both the physical, because where do we PUT all of it and the mental anguish of yet another snow day.

Let’s talk about that, shall we?

There has only been ONE completely full week of school since December 20, the Friday our winter break began.  ONE full week of school.  We’ve had eleven snow days.  I hesitated to add ‘so far’ in there because we’re only mid-February and I’m afraid I’m going to Beetlejuice that one right up.  In a normal year, we’re lucky to have one, maybe two snow days… there is celebrating and sledding and hot chocolate making.  It’s the best thing ever.

Do you know what happens after you hit eleven snow days in roughly a month’s time? 

Parents start to lose their shit. 

And, as a bonus, you’re stuck in the house with the very little minions whose wishes and hopes and snow day rituals have gotten you into this mess in the first place.  OK, OK, that and the jet stream, but I’ll go ahead and blame them flushing ice cubes and wearing backward pajamas and sleeping with spoons under their pillows.  Or Disney, because who was the marketing genius that came up with this campaign…

You know what we could do?  Unleash Elsa on Ohio, you know… we’ll make everything Frozen!  Do You Want to Build a Snowman? It will be stuck in their heads for months!  It’s genius. 

Not cool Disney, not cool at all.

Finn was really upset about going to school this morning.  I tried to be as cheerful as possible about it while holding off from doing a jaunty little jig at the breakfast table, but I get it.  They are so far off of routine and the level of work they have to make up is so daunting that they don’t even want to go.  These poor teachers don’t know what to do either, you start a lesson and have to come back to it a day or three or a week later.   

Fingers and toes crossed that this is the second full week of school since December 20. 

I’m holding out hope that my sanity returns sometime in March.

What Do You Mean You Had a Life Before Me?

07 February 2014 | 7 Comments

Several years ago, my dad gave me a photo album.  It was in a box of stuff he had kept for a million years and he wondered if I might want it.  In it, he had saved a bunch of stuff from high school, including some cards from my mom.  There are school photos and all kinds of lovey snaps of my parents and pictures of my dad playing football.  Contained within those pages, are photographs of a trip to California that I have surmised that I was potentially conceived upon.  Let’s just skip that part, shall we?

This album is fascinating to me for two reasons.  One, when I was growing up, after their divorce, my parents pretty much hated each other.  Now, they would never come right out and say that they hated each other, but I'm going out on a limb here and saying they didn't like each other very much.   Two, I get to peek into the love-sick teenaged mind of my mother, right there in her own handwriting.  It is without a doubt one of the best gifts my dad ever gave me.

My Parents 1975 

Last year, I was telling my aunt about this album because she was also on the California trip.  I have the bikini clad and blonde boyfriend pictures to prove it, but I’ll let her maintain her motherly image.  As often happens when I’m around my family, we start talking and inevitably the stories start happening and we all laugh and carry on for hours. 

I never tire of it. 

If you ever have the occasion to sit in a room with my mom and her sisters as they talk about growing up, grab yourself a large glass of wine and do it.  There was lots of subterfuge, under-age driving, rock concerts, and craziness that my Meme is happy to have been kept in the dark about.  My poor grandpa had five daughters and only one bathroom before my Meme went through ‘the change’ at age 42… that change turned out to be my Uncle Jimmy.  Because I’m in my thirties, there are very few stories that I haven’t heard them tell at least once.  Some, countless times from different perspectives, and I definitely have my favorites. 

I’m also old enough to remember my aunts as their younger selves.  My cousin, who is sixteen, was just flabbergasted that her mom, my aunt, was fun in her twenties.  She was in shock that she had a life before her, filled with fun and boyfriends and travel and an executive level career. 

She didn’t even drive a mini van.

It was about then that I realized that Finn is never going to believe there were ever any boys that adored his mother before his father.  Tate will never believe her mother did stupid things and got into trouble.  Those crazy, fun-Michelle stories they hear my sisters or my best friends howling with laughter about, they won't believe a word.

Because from the beginning of time, I was their mother.

And to my sweet P, doing teenaged things, figuring out which college will be lucky enough to have you, falling for boys, doing things you won’t share with your mom until you’re grown, laughing with friends, and conspiring with your sister…  Some day in the future, you will fight back laughter as your children don't believe you ever had a life before them either.

I Quit.

06 February 2014 | 19 Comments

When I was seven, I begged and pleaded and yelled at my dad about smoking.  “Ugh.  Why do you smoke Daddy?  It smells bad!”  We spent summers in California with him and one of those trips included a drive across the country… for the fun of it.  I think I was nine or maybe ten, I very clearly remember a conversation when he told me that he started smoking on long drives to stay awake.

The first time I tried a cigarette, I was twelve.  A friend had an older sister who was maybe seventeen or eighteen at the time.  That means she was very cool.  We stole one of her Marlboro Reds and went outside for a walk and smoked it.  We were promptly caught.  We had to give a speech about smoking and our bad choice, in front of our classmates so we could stay in Youth to Youth.  It was humiliating, couple that with the violent hacking we experienced during our illicit cigarette sharing and I vowed never to smoke again.

In ninth grade, another friend’s older sister taught me how to inhale, so I knew what I was doing.  In high school, none of my close friends smoked.  I would still sneak one now and then.

When I was nineteen, I consciously decided to start smoking.  I think I have it written in my journal somewhere, but the gist was a big middle finger to my parents.  After all, I was an adult.

I smoked through college.  I smoked in my first apartment. And my second.

I met Dave in the ‘smoking room’ at work. 

I smoked outside in my wedding dress at our reception.  Here is my pretty bag, right there next to my cigarettes.

I quit smoking.

I have quit smoking maybe fifteen or twenty times in my life.  Sometimes for a few hours, once for six months, but inevitably I would start again.  On 9/11, I remember driving out of my office complex first thing and right across the street to buy a pack of cigarettes, that time I had quit for almost a month.   Without a thought started right back up.  That is what cigarettes do to you.

Then, February 13, 2006, just like all of those other times before, I quit smoking.  I tried the patch for a day and it made me feel awful, so I just quit.  Cold turkey.  As I was writing this post, Dave reminded me that he was on a business trip {he was also trying to quit} and I yelled, “Happy Fucking Valentine’s Day!” into the phone.  I only tell you this to illustrate that it wasn’t easy, I was struggling.  Though now, after eight years, my view on just how awful it was has been softened considerably.

I quit for me.  And now that my children are here, I never want them to think it’s OK to smoke or see it as cool.  Worse yet, not even take notice it because it’s their normal.

It took me a long time to think of myself as a non-smoker, there is a new normal you need to find.  Sometimes, eight years later, I still have dreams about smoking.  Or a cup of coffee in the morning has me thinking about that first deep inhale.  Sometimes, when the adrenaline of stress flushes though my body, the only thing I want to do is smoke.  Cigarettes are like an old friend, they’re familiar and relaxing and the memory is usually better than the reality. 

The reality of cigarettes is, I can’t pick one up because it will feel like coming home to a place I don’t want to live anymore. 

That is the price of addiction.  That, and the $10,000 I have saved myself over the last eight years. 

I wish I knew what it was, that magic thing, that made February 13, 2006 any different, I’d bottle it and give it away.  I would only say this, if you have someone in your life that smokes, believe them when they tell you that they are quitting whether it is the first time or the twenty-first.  To you over there smoking… Keep trying because one of these times, your resolve is going to be tougher than the nicotine.  Promise, it’s worth the fight to get to the other side.

Cartwheel By Target.

04 February 2014 | 155 Comments

Even though I can appreciate a great deal, I am not what I would consider a bargain shopper.  You won’t find me trekking all over the city or doing twelve things to save $2, but I’m excited to happen upon a 70% off after Christmas sale or shoes in my size on clearance. 

In other words, I like easy.  You know what couldn’t be easier?

Cartwheel. 

Not the cartwheels of your youth, but the Cartwheel By Target app.


Cartwheel by Target

I was asked to provide my thoughts on the app, but you should know, I’ve been using Cartwheel for a few months now on my own.  Target is one of my favorite places to shop and I really enjoy saving a few dollars on each shopping trip.  The app is user friendly, can be downloaded for free from both iTunes and Google Play and can be used on tons of in-store purchases.  You can sign in with your Facebook account, with your email, or your existing Target.com account.  I use my Facebook account, but I don’t like apps posting on my behalf.  When you sign up, during the authentication process, you can opt out of that or change your privacy settings so ‘only you’ can see it.

You begin with ten blank spaces and browse offers from categories like grocery or household essentials, adding in only the items you intend on buying.  You can add or remove offers as you like and you will earn additional spaces as you earn badges.  They are awarded for reaching savings milestones ($10, $25, $50, etc.), interacting with Cartwheel (example: adding an offer from a collection to your list), and via social sharing (an invited friend who joins Cartwheel).

cell 022 cell 021

My favorite feature of the app is found by clicking on the small bar code icon next to the search bar.  Up pops a barcode reader on your phone, you just align the reader over any barcode on a product or any shelf tag and it will tell you if there is a Cartwheel offer available.  If there is, you can add it with just one click. 

Target Cartwheel App 002

When you are ready to check out, you just tap on My Cartwheel and your own personal barcode will appear on the screen along with your coupons.  The cashier will scan it and your savings are applied.  Plus, you can also use both a manufacturer’s coupon and a Target coupon up to the full value of the item in addition to Cartwheel. 


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My friends and I joke that it’s physically impossible to get out of Target without spending at least $50, even when you run in for just one thing.  With Cartwheel’s savings, we just might manage to do that! 

Leave a comment on this post and tell me your favorite deal on the Cartwheel app and someone is going to go home with a whopping $1000 gift card to Target! 

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Ask For What You Want.

02 February 2014 | 10 Comments

I am not a mind reader and neither is Dave.

Since mind reading is off the table, we have to ask for what we want.  Or need.  Or can’t live without.

I know this doesn’t make sense if you live in the magical land of fairy tales and Twilight novels where everyone is clairvoyant and sparkly.  If you’re living in that place, you are totally justified in getting upset when your partner doesn’t know, say, your very favorite cake {vanilla with chocolate frosting} or that gift {oh look, a list!} you would love more than anything.  I mean at the very minimum, they should be able to figure it out when you’ve hinted at something six months ago.  Right? 

I’ll break it down for you though, by sharing my own stupidity.  Sharing is caring, people.

I spent the first five, give or take, Christmases with Dave disappointed because they didn’t meet my expectations.  Sometimes I was angry, sometimes I cried, but there was always just an undercurrent of demoralized frustration.  That part was Dave.  So, I make a big deal about Christmas.  I spend hours thinking of the perfect gift that I know he’ll love.  I wrap everything with pretty coordinated paper and make cookies and stand in line at the Delta counter during a freak snowstorm with a lot of pissed off people to get tickets to New Orleans.  His stocking is filled with fun things to make him laugh and his favorite sweets.

He should just get it!  Why doesn’t he get it?

Because I never told him.  Instead, I acted like a lunatic and he?  He chalked it up to the fact that Christmas makes me moody and irrational.  How would he know any different?

It took him saying, “Michelle, I feel like shit every Christmas!  I can’t make you happy!”  And me yelling back, “Yes you can! I just want you to make an effort and not shop for whatever last minute, stupid thing you find on Christmas Eve and don’t even wrap!  It’s a big deal to me!”   He had never even thought about it because while he appreciates that I go the extra mile, Christmas just isn’t a big deal for him.   That single, ten minute conversation was all it took.  No joke.  He steps it up for Christmas and I keep a Pinterest board full of things I’d love to open so he doesn’t have to spend three hours guessing in the lingerie department at Cacique. 

OK, Christmas is just a trivial example.

It is saying, “let’s figure out our budget,” instead of secretly seething that she spends money on lunch out with friends while you save every penny. 

It’s knowing and sharing exactly what you crave in bed.  If you don’t say something, how are you going to get it?  Live with an unsatisfying sex life?  Have an affair and get a divorce? 

Instead of waiting for him to notice you’re angry as you’re stomping around the house, it’s saying, “I am upset right now.  I need you to fix this.”  And then letting him have the opportunity to correct the problem. 

It’s not doing it all yourself and throwing it in his face that he ‘doesn’t do anything’ to help instead of saying, “I need your help getting the house picked up.” 

Imagine the possibilities and repeat after me… I am obligated to communicate my own needs.  I am not a martyr.  I am not passive aggressive.  I’m an equal partner, responsible for my own happiness.  I communicate with my partner.  I ASK FOR WHAT I WANT.

And I get it.

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