Wednesday, May 25

Wednesday, May 18

Husband Hump Day: P is for....

*Yes, I realize this isn't the first Wednesday of the month. Neither is it the second. But... any Wednesday is a good Wednesday when it's also Husband Hump Day. Take it away, honey.....*

A few of the P’s of my life.

This one is now a faded, distant, dusty memory of a period time forgot.  The memories I have of these days I am sure are skewed, but fondly looked upon.  I grew up in the suburbs of Tulsa in a cul-de-sac with some neighbors close in age to my sister and me.  I spent the preteens and teens in Arkansas.  My best friend throughout that time was my middle sister.  We were thick as thieves until evil puberty hit my sister smack in the face and all of a sudden, I was left on my own.  Don’t cry for me Argentina, I bounced back with puberty of my own and found out why the change happened in my sister.  Hormones had grabbed, me flipped me upside down, and changed everything I thought I knew about girls.  I realized that they didn’t have cooties, I really didn’t know anything about them, and they weren’t as bad as they seemed.  It wouldn’t be until much later that I realized again that some girls really do have cooties (but we call it something different), I still don’t know anything about girls, and some of them really are as bad as they seem.  I use the term “girl” loosely, or maybe I am referring to loose girls, whatever.

This one not so much anymore, but back in the day I could roll with the best of them.  In my group of cronies I was always the “crazy one”.  You know the type: the one always willing to take it too far for a little fun or a laugh.  When we would go out on our “island hopping campaign” (made infamous from the Marines during WWII), or you could call it “bar hopping,” there was a good chance someone was going to get arrested, or the very least end up the night in a fight.  Not that we were the mean bunch, but we were the bunch that was way too loud and way too drunk.  I saw things that can never be unseen, I heard things that can never be unheard, I did things that can never be undone, and drank things that should never be drunk (I am looking at you Saki).  Now these weren’t my high school days these were my Marine Corps days, which leads us into the third P.
Jeremy as hot Marine, 1998

This one I have a deep sense of pride and respect from.  My mother and father taught me at a young age that this was part of our identity and our heritage.  Both of my grandfathers were veterans, as were my father and uncle.  I remember seeing my mother tear up a bit during the National Anthem and watching those Time Life videos of Vietnam and World War II with my father in quiet reflection.  Then in a quiet voice he would remind me of why we were free.  I joined the Corps as a junior in high school and spent the next year in the Delayed Entry Program.  Less the 30 days after graduation, I left for MCRD in San Diego, California.  The next several years of my life were a blurry whirlwind (see previous P).
Playing and Partying, those two deserved a second chance for an early twenty-something fresh out of the Marine Corps and back home.  I won’t spend too much time on these two again as my wife reads this (this is her blog anyway).  Over the next several years I learned a few important lessons in life.  1)  Don’t do keg stands with change in your pockets.  2)  Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear; beer before whiskey, mighty risky.  3)  Mustard and mayo sandwich while driving will get you home, but not recommended.  4)  The first thing that pops into your mind is not always the nicest.  5)   You get more with honey than with lemons.  6)  Treat women like you would want your sister to be treated.  7)  Student loans and credit cards will have to be paid back! 8)  Pride comes before the fall.  9)  Prayer works.  10)  “Love is never having to say you are sorry,” is the biggest load of crap ever (more like “love is always having to say you are sorry”).  There are many more things I learned, but I will end with this: remember plausible deniability- when in doubt deny, deny, deny, it is easier to beg for forgiveness than plea for permission, and it is best to be thought of as an idiot than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

This is the one that will never end.  Your parents will never quit worrying about you. You will never quit worrying about your kids.  You will never parent as good or as bad as you think you are doing.  Your kids are not extensions of you.  They are their own people who will make their own choices.  The best we can hope for is to teach them and equip them with the best knowledge we have and hope they far exceed that knowledge.  It is ok not to keep up with the Joneses.  Money will never satisfy.  Tombstones never read, “I wish I would have worked more.”  Loose lips sink ships. Choose your words wisely, because what you say can never be unsaid.  Never stop loving or laughing and always wear sunscreen (I couldn’t resist, it sounded like a graduation speech).

Jeremy and his youngest Bee, Easter 2011

Jeremy B. is a full time family man who, despite his past, has found true happiness in God and his family.  He is a strong believer in learning from your mistakes and the power of forgiveness. Throughout his life, he has had shortcomings and made countless mistakes.  He stays close to home because that is where his heart is, and he thinks he is smarter than he really is.  Come back in 30 years and ask him about it then.

Wednesday, May 11

The Babysitters Club: Closet Hipsters?

I recently ran across a huge box of books from yesteryear. Black Beauty, The Island of the Blue Dolphins, about 17 Nancy Drew books (Which, confession: I didn't know that Carolyn Keene wasn't a real person until about three years ago. True story.), and a two-foot-tall stack of Babysitters Club books.

Man, I loved the BSC. From The Truth About Stacy to Mary Anne and the Great Romance to the BSC Super Special #6: New York, New York.... I loved them all. I particularly identified with Mallory, the young one, the freckle-faced, curly-haired awkward one. Uh-huh.

So when I unearthed this buried treasure, I feasted my eyes and remembered a time when I would prop all of my animals and frou-frou pillows up around me, and spend hours with my friends. Ok, yes, I had real life friends too, but our adventures never compared to the Babysitters Club's, or to Nancy and Bess and George's, for that matter.

Anyway. When I came across this cover, I thought it rang a very contemporary bell:

Oh, that Claudia and her Crazy Aunt Peaches. So wacky. So zany. I always envied Claudia Kishi and her impeccable, unique style.

But look a little closer:



Tuesday, May 10

On Defining Motherhood (spoiler: you really sort of can't)

"Whenever career counselors try to parlay child-rearing experience into marketable job skills, what they typically come up with are administrative functions, like appointment making and record keeping... They completely overlook the far more specialized skill set moms acquire over the course of those years... By the time our kids head off to college, we are show business veterans, having produced, directed, and starred in such classics as "Christmas," "Halloween," "Birthday Party," and other holiday extravaganzas for eighteen consecutive years, at breathless tempo. Motherhood isn't a desk job. It's vaudeville."

Those words are borrowed today from my friend Kyran Pittman's new memoir, Planting Dandelions: Field Notes from a Semi-Domesticated Life.

So often, motherhood is relegated to cutesy, tongue-in-cheek job titles (I've been guilty of doing this, too): Chauffeur, Booty-wiper, Executive Chef, Giver-of-Kisses, Chief Operating Officer. (Ok, I've never called myself a COO. In this house, coo means something totally different.)
Alternately, some women swoon over motherhood as if it were on par with the Second Coming of the Messiah. They idealize motherhood, they romanticize it, they swell it up to Hindenburg proportions, and we all know what happened there.
Or worse, motherhood is just that thing that happens to you after a guy's pee-pee has come in contact with your coo-coo.
This is very close to the tattoo I got after The Boy was born.
It's a Celtic symbol of motherhood.

There is no way to pin down What Motherhood Means. If there were, we'd all be doing it right by now, and it would be a heck of a lot easier to do. It's been said (over and over and over) that life doesn't come with operating instructions. Except, it does. There are, literally, bajillions of blogs, books, videos, seminars, and mothers-in-law that are eager to tell you exactly how to do motherhood, and equally as eager to tell you how you're doing it wrong.

For me and for so many incredible, and incredibly lost, mothers I know, we learn as we go. We read our own mother's worn copy of Dr. Sears' baby book to home-diagnose colic. We read Annie Lamott's Operating Instructions, so that we know we aren't the first or only mothers who have come thisclose to falling over the edge- or jumping off of it. We consult pastors, girlfriends, pediatricians, bartenders, and even our husbands, to find exactly what mix of child-rearing philosophies we want to claim as our own.

And then... we make like Nike and just do it.

When it comes down to it, each of us blaze our own paths through the wilds of motherhood. We mark the trail so we know what to look for when the second kid comes along. We may never fully pave the path through the woods- because there is always beauty in the wildness. There might be some back-tracking, there may be some scary bears that leap out of their caves, and sometimes we just have to stop blazing and set up camp for a few months. Or years.
Eventually we come out on the other side, or come to a lovely, sun-lit clearing, and we admire the view.

*You owe it to yourself, this week after Mother's Day to buy Kyran's book. Planting Dandelions is a searingly honest look at motherhood through a magnifying glass, trained on one woman's patch of earth. It's beautiful, and beautifully written. I highlighted just about every other sentence to remember, to come back to when I feel like I'm completely turned around. Go on. It sure beats that Starbucks giftcard you got on Sunday, and it'll last longer, too.

Monday, May 9

In-Depth Interview with a Potty Trainee

We had some big stuff happen last week. So big, in fact, that we had to call Daddy at work to tell him about it. So big, in fact, that we had to record it.
But first, I want you to meet Poodence.

The Baby *adores* Prudence. Prudence makes smart choices, like putting her peepee in the potty, instead of going on the kitchen floor. Prudence would be a good influence on The Baby, if The Baby was prone to being influenced. But she's not.

So anyway, that's Prudence. And this is The Baby, after she made a very good choice (read: I caught her on time and stuck her on the toilet).

She was excited. She demonstrated.

If only the bright glow of proud pottying would last more than half an hour...


Wednesday, May 4

Wordless Wednesday: Carnivore

Do not get between a Boy and his turkey leg.
He'll give you the crazy eye.
And he'll snarl.