Thursday, October 30, 2014

I have to vacuum.

This morning, my middle child, who is typically the only voice of reason in the entire house, was screaming for 10 minutes (which is like 10 hours in non-parent time) about the color of her uniform skirt. She was also kicking at the air and thrashing around like someone about to be tied to a table and given shock therapy.

Simultaneously, the almost-2-year-old was also screaming because he only has vocabulary related to Star Wars and Football and apparently whatever he needed did not fit into either the Star Wars or Football category, so he resorted to animal-like screams that should be reserved for CIA prisoners.

The oldest was wearing a polo shirt with short legging pants that appeared to have belonged to a baby,  eating her hair and muttering about how there were too many babies in this house. The whole episode made her look like a crazy hobo/bag lady/orphan child in a 1920s inspired musical.

There is not enough coffee or wine or shock therapy in the world.

At this point, I feel I should come to some higher level, beautiful conclusion about how it all goes so fast or how this is the job or something enlightened and brilliant about parenthood and motherhood. Perhaps point to the deep and critical importance of the job.

But, the baby has begun throwing yogurt melts all over the living room and since the dog has stopped eating yogurt melts, I have to find the vacuum and begin working on my Halloween costume.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Star Wars Rebels: My Two Year Old is Obsessed

My two year-old is obsessed with Star Wars Rebels.

Before you comment about how Star Wars Rebels is not aimed at toddlers,  just know that I don't care. We gave Thomas the Tank Engine a whirl a couple weeks ago.  I was totally disgusted by the raging trains with snotty attitudes and passive aggressive communications.

I already have two daughters who provide me with enough attitude. I certainly don't need to watch trains sniping at each other about who is more useful.

Anyway, back to my two-year old's most favorite show: Star Wars Rebels.  It is some sort of Star Wars cartoon. I'd like to pretend that I could recap each episode or perhaps give you a run down on each character or tell you what valuable lessons my toddler is learning from watching the program.

But I can't.

While he is watching, I am half watching (checking for nudity, blood and angry trains named Percy) and writing.  For 30 minutes, I can think and string together a few sentences. It is like a writers retreat.

While he is watching, he is also clutching his Stars Wars Colors Board Book, for dear life, while shouting new words like:


Frankly, the Star Wars Rebels characters (who names I cannot remember) have become 30 minutes of mommy writing time every morning. And while I am slightly concerned that my son is nurtured by the electronic equivalent of a comic book store, the thing is, he is happy, has stopped acting like a monster (i.e. growling at me and attempting to eat my leg and break my laptop) and has moved on to planning rebellions and insurrections with his sisters' Barbies.

And you know what, I am happy about it all. Maybe he will be an astronaut or President or dictator of a small island nation. Either way, I'll be proud.

Well, my 30 minutes is up.  May the force be with you.

PS If you really want to read what Star Wars Rebels is all about, the Nerdist recaps every episode. Yes. Nerdist. This is who I've become, the woman who is reading recaps of Star Wars cartoons. #StarWarsMom

PPS This post contains affiliate links. Go buy that Star Wars Board Book. It is adorable and sort of a primer/character guide for mothers who don't know a Storm Trooper from a Jedi.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Seven Reasons Why I Think This Picture is Stupid (or You can read your Bible in School)

So, I think this picture is stupid.

I am sorry if you shared it and now you think I am calling you stupid. I don't think you are remotely stupid. I just think this image and the message is stupid.

If only the world's problems could be solved by dumping some Bibles into the local elementary school and reading a little Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. If only coloring pictures of Noah and his Ark would lower the rates of incarceration. If only, stupid, sensational quote-emblazzoned images truly held the key to turning our world into utopia.

If only.

The truth is, Bible or no Bible, people go to jail. Heck, Jesus died a criminal; as did most of his disciples.  Here are my seven reasons why I think this picture is stupid and needs to be deleted forever:

1. You are allowed to have the Bible in school. In fact, both my oldest girls have brought in the Bible or a religious book for silent reading time.  Your kid can read the Bible in school, if they choose. And if anyone ever stopped them, they would be in violation of their freedom of religion.

So, if you want to read a Bible at school, then, by all means, read it.

P.S. Your kid can pray too! My kid prays before every Math test.

2. If you want your Child's teacher to read and teach from the Bible in school, go to a private religious institution. If you think religion should be a government mandated part of education, then, well, hop in a time machine. Or perhaps try out one of the countries where religious peoples are murdered and forced to practice their beliefs in hiding, because the prevailing religion is not their own.

There are countries were children are not allowed to say Grace. They are not allowed to pray. They are not allowed to complain about the lack of the Bible in school. If they do complain, they go to jail. Or they die.

Oh, that is not appealing?

3. If you want your child to learn from the Bible, then read it to them. Read it yourself. Toss a few Bibles on your coffee table. Pop one in your car.  If you think more children in your community would benefit from Christ's teaching--then teach them. Show the world that being a Christian is about living the word, loving each other and forgiving each other.

I, for example, forgive the creators of the stupid image. I love them. Even though I think they might be stupid.

4. You know what a jail is full of: sinners.
You know what a church is full of: sinners.
You know what a school is full of: sinners.
You what the Bible is full of: sinners.

Notice a pattern? God loves us all the same.

5. Things that land you in jail:
Getting caught.
Lack of quality legal represenation
Lack of bail money
Not being white

Note: there is no scholarly research that suggests children who have Bibles in school are less likely to go to jail.  You know who is in jail: minorities. You know why: our justice system sucks.  You know why not: because of the Bible.

6. Jesus, well, he died a criminal. He completely offended the Roman government. And then they killed him.

Our Savior, sentenced to death, like a criminal with a Bible in jail.

7. His disciples, well, a few of them ended up in jail. Following a radical religious figure like Christ, leads you to jail. And Christ calls us to be revolutionaries. Christ wants us to challenge the world. So, challenge it. Don't simply throw a book at it.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Last Minute Guide to a Spooky Halloween

Halloween is Friday. Apparently. There are no more weekends. There are just four days to make Halloween spooktacular, while also managing the necessary household things (like feeding, clothing, home working and entertaining the little ones.).

Forget Pinterest. Forget Martha Stewart. Forget ghosts and goblins artfully made from footprints. Put down the glue gun, pick up a glass of wine and let your house do the work for you!

All you need is my Last Minute Guide to a Spooky Halloween. My guide will make your house spooky, to even the most critical of Trick or Treaters! And the best part: it gives you full permission to avoid household work in the name of all things scary.

Killing two birds with one stone, is super spooky, right?

Here are my top guide tips for a last minute spooky Halloween!

1. Haunted houses always have cobwebs; so put away your feather duster!

How lucky am I? These cobwebs are right in my front windows! If I get really lucky maybe a spider will come along!

2. The best costumes are homemade, so stop doing laundry!

Full disclosure: I spent approximately 400 hours making amazing handmade costumes that my children just throw around like LAUNDRY. The "Laundry Monster Costume" is the new exclusive costume for my family!

3. No time to carve your pumpkin, no problem! Let nature do the job!

For years, we fought the squirrels using scarecrows and keeping our pumpkins indoors. No more! I say, let the squirrels do the work!

4. Dead flowers give a natural abandoned graveyard appeal! (and they're free!)

And to think, my husband thought I had carelessly forgotten to water the hanging baskets! I was planning Halloween all along! #Overachiever

5. Clean out your pantry and fill your trick or treat bowl!

Okay, so this tip requires some effort, but really, you could just take your arm and swipe off the pantry shelves, using the minimal amount of work, right? And imagine the joy on children's faces when they present their mother with Quick-Cooking Grits and Goya Bouillon! You are saving their mother a trip to the grocery store. We all have to stick together, right?

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Missed Anniversaries.

Somehow I missed the anniversary of my Father's death.

A month later, it feels like I somehow missed his actual death and the guilt that accompanies that survival and forgetting and missing and overlooking weighs heavy on my entire being, pressing me down and turning me inward to the point of paralysis.

How long am I supposed to remember the day he died? How long until I feel better about it all? How long before things feel normal again?

It has been three years. My son did not exist when my father died; Nicholas was not even an inkling or a thought or a reasonable next step in our lives. Nicholas will be 2 years old in December. Someone new. Someone who was not here when my Dad was.

And maybe it is my melancholy reaching down and brushing my son, but he seems a little more serious these days. A little more focused, a little introverted. Am I imagining it? Or does Nicholas know, too, that someone who would have played with him nonstop and delighted in his love of trucks and football and monsters and superheroes is not here. It is like we are all looking for someone who is hiding.

I don't think I am supposed to talk about the grief anymore; after all, my Dad was so old and so tired and so ready to go. He always said, "I can't live forever, Trish!" I used to take it as a joke, my Dad was solid, like a warship and the irony, the irony would have to be that, yes, yes, he would live forever.


Only then he died. Like old men tend to do.

My grief should not be able to conjure itself anymore into this level of intensity, rooting me, right to my spot, making me feel like a liar when I say I am doing great or when I laugh like a person who at the root of her soul feels the deepest feeling of loss.  Perhaps this is the beginning stages of mental illness or worse, I am just destined to feel like I am wearing an invisible black veil on my face all the days of my life.

It is exhausting to grieve.

In the first two years after my Dad died, there were signs from him. Sounds, crazy right? Like some bizarre ghost story, but the signs were there--flipped switches and strange, personal songs magically playing on a radio station that does not exist, electric candles flickering on their own, little voices and whispers and glimpses of my Dad, where ever it is he went to. The signs seem to have gone; and maybe that is how it goes. Maybe, maybe, I forgot September 17, because that was a sign that it was time to forget, only I don't want to forget his death. I want to remember it all, so I can look for some clue to make it so he could live forever.

Thirty-four years was not enough time to have a father. It is never enough time. And even as I type this, I feel silly and stupid for still rooting myself in this place of despair. I feel that I might actually go mad if someone tells me it gets better, because it simply does not. I feel I might kick something, hard, if someone references a better place or eternal life with Christ, because no matter what you believe or what I believe in my soul, I am a human being and I am incapable of feeling fully comforted by the idea of heaven. Heaven is not right here. Heaven is not something I can touch or see or read a guide book about. There are no emails from heaven or quick phone calls or breakfasts sitting a counter with your Dad and his nameless old man friends. There are no quick snips of wisdom or smiles or getting to see what maybe my Dad was like with me when I was 8; because the the granddaughters he knew were just 5 and 2 when he died.

So that's it. I missed the anniversary. Yet it happened. And here I am. Remembering.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Halloween Footprint Canvas Art

We love Halloween.

In my mind, it is the official kick-off to the holiday crafting season (after a long summer of building sand castles!).  We created this Halloween Footprint Canvas Art to hang in our foyer. We have the perfect spot to rotate out artwork or pictures seasonally. I can't wait to create something fabulous for Thanksgiving and Christmas this year!

The canvases hang effortlessly without damaging my walls thanks to my favorite Command Picture Hanging Strips. These strips are awesome, remove easily and never damage my walls (unlike my children).

I used acrylic paint for the project; but you could use washable paint too. My intention was to create Halloween footprint canvas art that I can bring out every Halloween as a memory of my children and their tiny little feet. (sigh. why do they grow up so fast?!)

My three children are all different ages with varying levels of crafting ability. The big one is ready to throw pottery on a wheel and the middle one is busy designing extensive picture books, while the baby is happy to eat paint.  Footprint art is a great way to engage each of them--at their level while creating a lasting piece of art that I can bring out season after season.

It can be a little tricky to maneuver (and wrestle) little painted feet without getting paint footprints all over your house. My tactic: we did the footprints at bath time. One by one, I painted their feet, stamped the canvas and then popped them in the bath! It made me feel very efficient.

Without further adieu, here's how-to!

3 canvases (I had a pack of white canvases on hand, so I painted the canvasses with black paint using a foam brush. But you can source black canvases too.)
Acrylic paint in various colors: black, orange, green, purple, white
Paint brushes
Command Picture Hanging Strips

  1. To make your Halloween footprint art, begin by painting the bottom of your child's foot. For the ghost, I painted my middle daughter's foot all white. For the witch, my oldest painted her foot green. For Frankenstein, I painted my 2-year old's foot purple and green. The purple covered his toes and a little bit of the top of the foot; the green covered the rest down to his heel.
  2. Place the canvas on the floor. Have your child sit on a low stool and help them stamp their foot on the canvas. 
  3. Let the footprints dry for 20 minutes and then begin embellishing (your kids can help too!)
    • The white footprint becomes the ghost with the addition of eyes and a mouth. My 5 year old added the bow! 
    • The green footprint becomes a witch with the addition of arms, legs, a broom, boots, a hat and a face. 
    • The purple and green footprint becomes Frankenstein with the addition of bolts and a face. 
  4. Then, I used the other two canvases to write: Trick or Treat. Smell my Feet.  I hung the entire series of canvases in my foyer centered in a vertical line!
  5. Before I put away the canvases for the season, I am going to spray with a sprayable Fixative to make sure the artwork endures. 
Happy Halloween! 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which help support Yoke! 

Monday, September 29, 2014

I said BAD WORDS. #TruthTelling

Today, my eight year old lost her glasses.

(This happens once a week. Typically, I am blamed by the eight year old for causing her to misplace her glasses. And then there are wild stories of where the glasses could be (none of this is truth based). And then we rip the house apart, while the eight year old "looks" by hiding underneath a couch cushion.)

Today, it filled me with an ear thundering rage, unlike anything I've ever felt.

Then, after I screamed things like: "If you don't have your glasses for school, you are going to fail out of school and end up as a @#$$ gas station attendant."

And she replies: "You ARE SAYING BAD WORDS."

And then I retort: "You should get used to bad words that is how they talk at gas stations."

(Sincere apologies to all gas station attendants. Honestly, I could not live without you. I was just angry.)

And finally, hours later, after the children have been late to school (due to missing glasses and subsequent eye glass rage), hugs and kisses and apologies were given all around, the glasses have resurfaced (underneath a pile of dance clothes under a dresser) and I've had a crappy morning, hung over from my rage and with ears still ringing from the booming, thunderous early morning drama, I feel like a pretty terrible, mean mother.

It is just a pair of glasses.

And now, in other blog posts, it might be the time for me to come to some emotional epiphany where I realize that I am not a terrible, mean mother and I cue you, the readers, to tell me that I am indeed an AMAZING mother.

But the truth is, in those moments of screaming about my brilliant daughter's future as a gas station attendant, I was a pretty terrible, mean mother.

And I don't want to be.

I said bad words. I overreacted. I let my own control issues and rage cloud a moment when I could have been supportive, yet stern. It could been a different morning, but instead, I sucked.

It's a good thing my kids are the best there are--they love me unconditionally. I just have to get better at deserving it.