On not taking what was never mine.

I'm having to learn to subdue the things I share.

It's a hard lesson for me, really. I have – for years now – been fairly unabashed about being totally frank about almost all aspects of my relatively insignificant life. I've talked about sex, boobs, money, illness, fears, embarrassment. Mistakes. Disappointment. I've lain myself bare over and over. It's been therapeutic, and I've never regretted anything I've said.

This year, though, my big kids entered the social stratosphere. Phones and accounts and the whole nine. Text message mothering is in full swing at the Steen/Marsh household, guys, and it's a beautiful thing.

But now that school is in session and I've realized how anything that I say can no doubt circle back full force on the kids, I feel a little…lost.

This blog is so special to me and I will never fully leave it behind, but the stories aren't just my stories anymore.

My kids deserve a face and a day to day that isn't sifted through for things to talk about, analyze, or recount. I want them to know that I, above all people, respect their rights to be who and what they are on their own two feet. They have always deserved this, and if I have violated this trust in the past then let this be my apology.

 

I will not go away.

I will still be a proud mom and I will probably still embarrass them with birthday posts or letters or general weirdness.

But I am saying this: Max, Ava – I will not steal your rights, whatever they are. Whether it's an experience, a breakthrough, a learning moment, or even a joy…

I will let you tell your own stories.

I hope that you do.

 

How to be condescending

If you are on Facebook (and if you’re not, WHO ARE YOU?), chances are you’ve seen a link circulating recently about how your fascination with your electronic devices can make you miss your children’s lives.

If you haven’t seen the link, here it is. It appeared on my facebook wall more times than I can possibly tell you, always accompanied by “OMG, you must read this,” or “I’m crying. So true.”

Now, the content of this article is very heartfelt and very to the point. She talks about how being lost in one’s digital gadgets can be harmful to your relationship with your children, how the children learn that whatever is happening is more important than them, all sorts of statements that had just enough truth seeded into them to make any modern-day, smartphone toting, social media savvy parent feel like dog shit gone white.

Now, to be fair – she does dedicate a couple of sentences to how this is the modern world and sometimes we have to be accessible. Sometimes it’s necessary to allow laptops and smartphones into our lives.

Generous.

May I offer my point of view? I’m gonna.

I’m a blogger, and a full-time online student. I’m also married to a podcaster who is also a full-time student. Technology and the gadgets involved are completely enmeshed in our lives.

I love my iPhone. My iPad. To a lesser degree, the computers and such which inhabit my house – and there are a lot. I love to text message. I love to steal a few minutes in the day to check facebook, tweet something random, or peruse my blog stats for the day.

Certainly, as a society, we are more interconnected than ever before. I talk to my husband while he’s at work. I always have a camera because I always have my phone. And yes, I check my phone before I talk to anyone in my family because EVERYONE IN MY FAMILY IS USUALLY STILL ASLEEP SINCE I WAKE EVERYONE UP.

Some people escape into books. Some into painting or gardening or building rockets. This has always been the case. I don’t really see any difference.

Of course it’s important to acknowledge your family and the others in your lives. To look them in the eye, listen when they talk, and be fully present when they need you – but I don’t see that as having anything to do with being less connected. I see that as being a decent human being.

So, my response to the article is as follows:

I am a connected mom. I interact constantly and I learn constantly. My children know they are important. They know because I’m their mom. I bandage scrapes and icepack bumps and come running when they have nightmares. They do not have some woeful mourning inferiority because I sometimes play Jetpack Joyride.

Because I show them moderation, they learn that I am, as they are, members of a continuous mechanism. Everyone is connected, everyone is important. I don’t have to throw away my iPhone to be a good mom. I just have to use good sense. And I think that’s a better example than anything else.

 

Sometimes

I picked the iPad up this afternoon and this was in the camera roll.

Sometimes you just have to sleep late.

Sometimes, after you sleep late, you have to hope that the lunches the kids packed for themselves have at least one thing in them that isn’t chocolate.

Sometimes at 3:30 in the morning you go in to investigate crying, and find your weepy almost 10 year old shuddering from a night terror. One like he hasn’t had since he was two.

Sometimes you watch his baby sister climb next to him and reassure him that she’s right there beside him.

Sometimes, at 3:30 in the morning, you tell your kids to just turn on the TV until they get sleepy. Because they just damn deserve it.

Sometimes you have to shave with a dull razor.

Sometimes you have to let go of something or someone you love. Because it’s just not worth it anymore.

Sometimes you have to be a dick.

Sometimes you have to use impolite language.

Sometimes you forget who you are.

Sometimes you have to realize that you forget just so you can remember.

Sometimes it’s okay to let the baby run around naked.

Sometimes coffee is all that sounds good.

Sometimes you eat pizza after midnight.

Sometimes growing up is growing apart.

Sometimes following your dream is hard.

Sometimes the path is lost.

Sometimes you have to listen to Adele on repeat, no matter how cheesy.

Sometimes you have to cry.

Sometimes you have to laugh.

Sometimes you have to recognize that love is in spite of instead of because.

Sometimes Oprah is right.

Sometimes everyone is just tired.

Sometimes you have to wait for the rain.

 

Confession: being unthankful makes me a bitch

I realize that my life is amazing.

 

I have three kids who are healthy, smart, beautiful, and a lot of the time, they are flat out hilarious.

 

I know this. I know that something like 90% of the globe would be shitting in their pants to wake up every day (in response to a too-smart smartphone) in a climate controlled house, next to a heart-burstingly beautiful husband, to wake my children and make lunches from a full cupboard. And then send them off to get an education in a safe and nurturing environment. While I stay at home to play with the baby and watch educational tv.

 

I know that by having ANY complaints I am a mindbending bitch.

 

But I have to be able to say it somewhere – things feel so worn. So generic. I feel like I make as much impact as a sandpapered rubber stamp.

 

My husband works so hard. He works and does and makes sure we have what we need. He’s a dad and a podcast-er and my very best friend. Being anything less than doting and Stepford is, I realize, a failing of mine.

 

But basically I sit at home and wait for something to happen. Anything. My days feel like a series of wait.

 

Waiting…

 

For the bus

For the kids to come home

For Lucy to give me five minutes

For the dryer to finish

For the coffee to brew

For Josh to come home

For the oven to heat

 

I realize I’m being a big whiny baby, but I just feel like I’m missing something. I feel like I’m a week or so away from talking to the car upholstery, but if I up and say something like, “I just wish something would happen,” then someone will die or get sick or blow up.

 

Don’t get me wrong. I love my life and everything about it. I am grateful.

 

But, I admit, grateful is sometimes boring. Even if that makes me a bitch.

 

Enlist

So the good thing about having a blog is that sometimes I can just randomly list things that I think, or that I want you to know. This is one of those times. Therefore….

  1. I saw The Hunger Games and it was so brilliant that I kind of want to weep because I have to wait so long for the next movies.
  2. I have not yet used shampoo on my hair since the last time we talked about it. My hair feels great, though I don’t know if it looks any different. Josh says (embarrassingly in front of other humans) that I have dandruff, but I used some apple cider vinegar and I don’t see any flakes, so maybe that took care of it.
  3. I registered for next semester this weekend, and seeing the words, “Classification for registration: Senior” kind of blew me away. I may have been so taken aback that I teared up a little.
  4. Lucy talks a lot more these days. A kind of whole hell of a lot. My other two were verbose, but she is…I don’t even know. Tenacious.
  5. Ava and I write letters to each other. I am ashamed to admit that the last letter (before yesterday) was sent months ago, and it has totally been my turn all this time. I feel awful about it. But she is just the sweetest thing ever and wrote me right back, so now it’s my turn again. Dammit.
  6. Ava also went shopping with her Nana yesterday and came home with two bras. This contorts my mind on so many levels that I can’t really even begin to describe. Yeah, I can, actually. I hid them. She’s been wearing little sports-bra/camisole things for a while now, but these are for real triangles and hooks. They have CUPS, people. I am not ready for this.
  7. Max is completely and totally awkward. I love him a ridiculous amount, but (I’m probably a terrible mother for admitting this) sometimes his oblivious dorkiness makes me cringe. He tries so hard – too hard – to be entertaining and cool. I don’t know how to tell him that he’s much more awesome when he doesn’t try.
  8. Josh and his friends are hosting a podcast. It’s actually pretty entertaining.
  9. The bedroom that we live in is getting kind of out of hand. Like the Hoarders people would have a field day in here.
  10. I read Fifty Shades of Grey. If you don’t know what that is, then I can only explain it as housewife porn. I have never really read stuff that is so totally and completely kinky. I can’t say for sure, but I may or may not be planning to read the next two books (it’s a trifecta of kink).
  11. I have started playing Draw Something. It makes me happy. Probably a little too happy. My favorite part is watching the other person try to guess my drawing. My username is Emylibef, so, you know…we should play.
  12. I missed my therapy appointment last week, and I feel like I stood up a friend. I suppose that either speaks well of my therapist or badly of my tendency to overpersonalize.
  13. My hair, since I already brought it up, is getting really long. I really like it, but I have these ridiculous waves of let’s-cut-that-shit-off and so far I’m pretty proud of how I’m holding up. I’m even growing my bangs out and that now means I have to pin them up in a weird little bouffant. I try to tell myself it’s a vintage look. Like it matters, since really Lucy and the cat are the only ones who ever see it.
  14. Lucy took this picture after she stole my ipad. I have, literally, three dozen incarnations of this photo on my camera roll.

That’s all I have for today.

 

 

The shit and the stylus, a tale of woe

As some of you know, last year Max got an ereader for his birthday.

Which he promptly dropped into the toilet. It never recovered.

Following the swimming ereader incident, Max pretty much didn’t have a great deal of contact with electronics. Then, with his Christmas money, he bought himself a Nintendo 3DS, and in the time he hasn’t been grounded from it (which hasn’t been just a WHOLE ton), he’s done pretty well. He’s kept it from falling, he’s taken pretty good care of it.

So much so, as a matter of fact, that recently I’d begun trying to persuade Josh that maybe he needed a shot at another ereader. The thing is, I have all these books – classics and not so – that he should, could, and probably would read…but I have them in ebook format. I do have actual books, but most of them are in storage. If they haven’t been sold to Storage Wars or something.

Friday, totally randomly, my kids were out of school. Like, school didn’t meet. Apropos of nothing. Max said it was in honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday….somehow I doubt.

We passed the day pretty low key, playing dance-in-a-circle with Lucy, watching Family Guy reruns, and waiting for storms. Max and Ava whipped out their gaming gadgets and played various games against each other. I hadn’t really been paying attention to the gaming unfoldery, and Max had gone to the back of the house – I figured to go to his room.

I was wrong. He was in the bathroom. I thought nothing of it.

Soon, though, Ava stood up and streaked back to the back of the house. I heard the two of them whispering (like seriously, they whisper louder than they talk), and I went back to investigate.

It was like I had caught them canoodling each other, except…not at all, because Ava was standing in the bathroom door with her hands on her hips while Max was digging in the rank and disgusting toilet with some sort of grabber….thing.

It looked like this:

Kind of. You get the idea.

Max, my son, who by the way is in the gifted program and has had people ooh and aah about his brains since he was born….was prospecting in a cloudy pile of shit for what turned out to be the stylus to his 3DS. Now, in case you don’t know, the stylus for the 3DS is somewhat unique in that it is collapsible and metal. It’s not the plastic things like I used to use to write on those grey cellophane things that stuck to a cardboard plaque of wax.

Anyway.

Without getting (further) into disgusting detail, the stylus was retrieved, the grabber thing was tossed, and Max spent almost 45 minutes out in the yard with rubbing alcohol and scrubbing implements. And I made him swear not to allow anyone else to touch that stylus.

I probably should have just bought a new one.

Also, Dan bought him a Kindle. Stay tuned for its eventual fate.

A machine for everything

My mother in law bought me a sewing machine for Christmas. 

 

This was an excellent gift, given my penchant for fancying myself a creator of cool things. 

I left it in the box for at least three or four days after Christmas, because to be honest….I was terrified. I didn’t know what to do or how to do it.

I got over that. I am my father’s daughter, after all, and no machine was getting the better of me. 

So I have pieced together a few squares for a quilt, and perhaps one day I’ll finish it – I would love to be able to sleep without being accused of stealing covers (Steen, I’m looking at you).

 

 

 

From beneath the ruins

 

Well hello.

 

In the aftermath of the holiday weekend, I should have lots to say.

 

Ava and Lucy hijacked my iPad and took some pictures.

 

In the weekish that I’ve been silent, things have been good. No news is good news, you know.

 

I’m pretty accustomed to just enduring the holidays. I have just never been a good mingler or family-gathering-goer, which makes me feel bad sometimes because I really do love being around family. I’m just not bubbly or vivacious.

 

Not that I changed that or anything, because I totally didn’t. 

 

But from somewhere in the rattling recesses of my soul, some damn happy bug bit me. 

 

I had so much fun.

 

Josh cooked (best meal ever), we made cookies, the kids were happy with all their loot. 

 

I also got those Tunisian crochet needles I’d hinted oh so subtly for, and a sewing machine. This should be interesting. 

We clean up nice

So I told you that my friend Addie took our pictures.  

I expected them to be good, I mean I’ve seen Addie’s work.  
 

What I did NOT expect was for them to be so breathtaking that I actually cried.  
 

 
 

 

 
 

Never has a photo more completely summed up my life.  

Dedesensitizing

As a rule, in this house of mixed insanity, we don’t go big on most things. 
 
We make cakes for birthdays but there’s usually not a big hubbub.
We usually have a pumpkin somewhere around Halloween. Most years.
 
But for the most part, we don’t make big deals out of holidays or occasions. Last year for Christmas we decorated the corner ficus tree with paper ornaments.
 
It works for us. I like to think that we are teaching our children that every day can be special, every day can be fun and great. There’s no need to wait for the calendar to tell you when to celebrate.
 
It’s my hope that they will believe that for at least a few years before they figure out we’re mostly just gape-jawed, knuckledragging lazy.
 

Dan takes a somewhat pious stand on the whole situation…”Christmas makes everyone feel like they have to spend money on someone or they don’t love them.”
 
Dan obviously doesn’t know how many people are getting homemade gifts this year. Ahem.
 
My point is that we do minimalist holidays around here. I mean, there are six people in this house…it does get a little cozy for comfort when you throw in decor and laundry and whatever board game my kids are yelling over this week (whoever thought to make Angry Birds into a board game….well, that’s just stupid. Yeah, I said it).

 
But this year we decided to holiday it up, and by we I mean Josh and I. We bought some lights, borrowed a bunch of ornaments from the inlaws, and picked up an honest-to-Moses real live tree. For real. The last time I remember having a real tree, my parents had gold shag carpet (which, by the way, I would totally dig. The vacuum lines were always trippy).
 
We came home and put up the tree, and my children were in. Heaven. 
 
Lucy ran her hands through the branches, “Tree, tree!”
Max wondered how many lights we’d need to make the whole thing catch on fire, and he told Dan it made sense for him not to care about Christmas since “you don’t believe in God and that means it’s just a regular old day.” (Note to self: try and convince Max that the Grinch was an atheist and he turned out to be the heart-biggenest of all.)
Ava alternated between moving ornaments around and telling me how glad she was to have a mom like me “who knows how to do stuff.”
 
I’d say it went over pretty well. If nothing else, I get to sit in the dark with only the tree lights…and for some reason that always calms me. I think that may be worth the whole ordeal.