Monday, September 19, 2016

"What Are You Going to Do with All of Your Time?"

This is the #1 question people ask me when I tell them that both of my girls are in school now. Marley is in 3rd grade, and Holland is in a transitional kindergarten. Obviously, I don’t have a job: I’m a stay-at-home mom.

“Ah. Yes,” I say. “I will have so much free time, I’m not sure what I will do with myself! I won’t have a care in the world!”

Is this what they think I should say?  Why do people ask this question? Are they on crack? Why in the hell do they think that my kids being in school all day equates to ME having HOURS OF FREE TIME? As though I have no other responsibilities in the world?

                                                         The Life of a Stay-at-Home-Mom

What are they thinking? Do people think I will rise, magically whisk my children away at school, then float through the rest of the day? Perhaps I will get a gel mani pedi at the Nail Studio. Then I will roll into Starbucks for a nonfat Chai Latte. Serene and calm, I will find myself in the hair salon, getting my grey roots zapped and coating my strands with a magical black-reddish gloss called “Merlot.” Then I will arrive at lunch with a pretty blonde friend, compare notes on our yoga practice and enjoy a relaxing, one-bottle-of-wine lunch and split a small salad (no carbs.) Next, I will arrive home where my house cleaners have spruced up my house from top to bottom, and have folded and deposited each article of laundry in the correct drawer in the correct room. I will curl up on the couch, watch Oprah, and perhaps fall asleep for a few minutes. Oops, it’s 2pm, almost time for pickup! I will apply a new coat of lipgloss and arrive to pick up my two beautiful children, feeling peaceful and dewy and domestic.

Sure, there are moments. Beautiful, delicious, savory moments. Moments where I get my nails done. Where I go to yoga. Where I get a chai latte. Where I have one-bottle lunches. Where I get my hair done. (Oprah? Falling sleep on the couch? Cleaners put away laundry? Hasn’t happened.)

But, let’s real here. For the most part, this is how my day plays out.

5:45am. I rise, and go for a quick 20 minute run. At this hour, I’m so tired I can’t even think of fighting my run because I’m not sure what I’m doing yet. I’m one of those weird people who has to do cardio every day, otherwise I go mental. I don’t mind. Outside along the bay, it is dark and mysterious and devastatingly beautiful. Sometimes I see seals. I always see bunnies. And dogs. Lots of cute dogs.
6:15am. Prep the vegetables for the juicer. Every day we juice carrots, kale, cucumber, celery, apple, and lemon. My girls actually love the juice and then I don’t worry that I’m a shit mom if they eat like crap for the rest of the day. Also, we have two tortoises who eat the juicer pulp. So if I don’t juice, Speedy and Micheal Jackson don’t eat, and that’s just mean.
6:30am. I turn on the juicer. That wakes up Ian so he knows it’s time to get up and start breakfast. The girls will either wake up, or sleep through the juicer depending on how tired they are.
7am. We all eat breakfast. Ian usually makes eggs and bacon, (I know, I know, I’m lucky) and some form of carb I won’t eat. But he puts it on my plate anyway.
7:30am. Go time! Get both girls dressed. Try to get both girls to poop. Do everyone’s hair and stuff backpacks with snacks and lunches I made the night before. Someone will scream and cry or complain that their hair is wrong, outfit is wrong, backpack is wrong, face is wrong. I try to calm the screaming child.
8am. Drop off! Success. Take a deep breath. I stop at Boneys, super happy and serene that I am ALONE shopping for healthy produce. The kids aren’t stuffing random shit in the cart or running each other over with the cart or knocking down displays of Annie’s Organic Mac n Cheese with the cart. No one freaks out when I don’t buy organic lollipops at checkout. Life is good.
9am. Yoga. Yes, I try to go to yoga at least 3 times a week. Yes, I’m neurotic and yoga helps me be normal. Go ahead and judge me.
10:15am. Volunteering at Marley’s school. I’m Folder Mom which is badass. I get to sit in the hall outside of the classroom and review everyone’s quiz grades and homework and stuff the folders with new and important school information, such as invitations to the Back-to-School Auction (where wine is served) and information on joining the Chess Club. I get to see when kids get pulled out for special services or get sent to the principals office. I also get to see my sweet Marley Marie when she is shuffling out for P.E.  Other days, I volunteer for the Everyone a Reader program which is also badass. I get to work with four “struggling readers” or readers who need more practice, 15 minutes a kid. I get to listen to them as they read, help them sound out tricky words, and gain more confidence and fluency as the read. It’s totally awesome and it’s incredible to see how far these kids progress in the space of one school year!
11:30am. Go home. Pickup house. It’s a fucking disaster. Crayons in the sink?  Barbie in the fireplace? Time to pick that shit up. Make beds, fold laundry, and put it away. Hopefully I will put the latest Netflix Original on for background company or a fun girlie movie like Devil Wears Prada.
12:30pm. Contemplate making a nice salad for lunch, but I’m so fricken hungry (probably because I went for my run and did yoga) so I heat up High Tide Pizza from last night. It’s a counterproductive maneuver, but we all have our crosses to bare.
1pm. Pay bills. I have to pay bills for our personal account and I’m also the bookkeeper for my husband’s corporation, so I get to do that too. Log everything into Quickbooks. Make a mental note to roust Ian when I see a charge to Tilted Kilt in Orange County. Start to put together the tax binder for August (shoot! It’s already October) but realize I’m quickly running out of time. Decide to postpone this for tomorrow. I wanted to write in this blog, but I RAN OUT OF TIME!
1:45pm. Start getting anxious. Its almost pickup time. Make sure I have Marley’s cheerleading bag packed with pompoms, snack water bottle and a change of clothes and sneakers, and Holland’s karate outfit and snack.
2:00pm. Pick up Holland from Sacred Heart Parish School. I wait for her in the office because we are off to speech therapy--I’m picking her up 45 minutes early. Start to worry that she didn’t get all smile faces on her behavior chart again. She is my “busy” child so there is always something new and exciting to report on her behavior chart. Seriously wish I had pounded a glass of wine so I won’t freak out if she has a bad behavior day. Get increasingly nervous. What if we get kicked out of school? What if I have to—GASP—home school? I would seriously kill myself. Think about going back to work so a nanny can pick up Holland and review her behavior chart so I don’t have to. Realize I don’t have any skills anymore. That’s not really true but I’m feeling sorry for myself so this is what I think. The teacher’s assistant brings Holland out. She is happy and smiling. “Mommy!” she says and gives me a big hug. “I got all my smile faces today! Do I get to go to Fuzziwigs?” I check the behavior chart and she has all smile faces except for one. During Math Calendar she refused to participate and crawled around like a cat and meowed when asked to answer a question. Ok, not a terrible day. I can deal with this.
2:20pm. After I drop off Holland at speech, I pick up Marley at Village Elementary. She is a happy 3rd grader and usually emerges content and confident. This is one of my favorite moments of the day because it seems rare that Marley and I have any alone time together. “How was your day?” I ask her. “Fine,” she says. “Who did you sit with at lunch?” “Friends,” she answers. “What was the best part of your day?” “I don’t feel like talking about it,” she answers. “Can I get a cinammon roll from Panera?” Their chai lattes suck so Panera gets shot down, and we head to Starbucks instead. She gets a donut, I get my latte and everyone is happy.  We sit and enjoy 20 minutes of time together, mainly in silence because she doesn’t feel like talking about her day, but it’s still nice.
3pm. Pick up Holland from speech. Stop at my mom’s house (because she lives closer to karate and cheerleading) and get the girls dressed for their activities.
3:30pm. Drop off Marley at Spreckels Park for cheer, take Holland to karate.
5pm. Get Marley from cheer and head home for the day. Help Marley with her math HER FREAKING COMMON CORE MATH THAT I DON’T REALLY UNDERSTAND and any other homework she has then make sure she reads aloud for 20 minutes. (Because apparently that makes a huge difference in academic success for the future?) Help Holland with her T-K homework…usually just coloring some shapes but I still have to monitor. Read a few books with her and enter books in reading log, along with any “new and unusual words.” Try to get dinner going when this is happening. After the girls finish their homework they go outside and scooter with the neighbor. I break up any fights during this time.
5:45pm. Dinner time! Hopefully Ian is home.
6:15pm. Bath time! The girls get their hair washed because they are crazy and get super dirty, random twigs and glitter and sometimes food in their hair, and I bust out the blow dryer so they don’t get in their jammies with wet hair.
7:30pm. Bed time. Have to stay in the room until at least 8:15 and the girls are fully asleep. Otherwise Holland will fall asleep with her thumb in her mouth which is bad for speech and means she will have to get braces, ultimately causing our family stress and thousands of dollars in orthodontia.
8:30pm. Heave a deep sigh of relief as I leave their room and pour the first glass of wine of the evening. (Who am I kidding? I’m on #3.) I prep lunches for tomorrow and stuff their backpacks with water and snacks. Husband wants to hang out and watch a movie. I fall asleep by 9.

Poor husband. All he asks is that he return home to a happy, clean, peaceful family and a pretty wife who is excited to hang out with him. And that I change out of my running gear because he hates how my sports bra smashes my boobs. I'm trying to remember to do this. He just wants me to be happy and write in this blog and enjoy motherhood. He doesn't understand when the house looks shitty and the kids are acting shitty and I fall asleep at 9pm.

So this is what I’m doing with my time, people.  So now you don’t have to ask me. Sometimes its super cool and fun. Sometimes I get to be creative and write in this blog. But mainly I just keep on keeping on.  And you know what? Maybe tomorrow is the day I will get my nails done. 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Open Letter to the CEO of Disney...Top 12 Suggested Improvements to Make Disneyland even More Magical!

Dear Mr. Robert Iger, Chairman and CEO of Walt Disney Company,

As a new annual pass holder, my family and I had the distinct pleasure of spending two full days at Disneyland California and California Adventure Park. The experience was both delightful and enchanting, and we certainly made memories we will cherish forever! That being said, after some careful thinking, I’ve come up with a few ideas to improve the Disney experience. Things I believe will make the happiest place on earth even MORE magical for the entire family.  I hope you find them useful.

Top 12 Suggested Improvements to Disneyland

1.    As soon as you walk in the gates, Goofy greets you with a happy pill. You’re not sure what’s in it, but it gets you high enough to survive the 40 minute wait at Peter Pan.
2.    Put a live gorilla in Tarzan’s Treehouse. If your kid is being an asshole or you’re simply feeling negligent, you can leave your kid in the gorilla’s care. It will watch your kid and protect it while you visit other attractions, or if you just want to eat a Dole Pineapple Whip in peace. 
3.    Install Hydration Stations at key points around the park. They should be outfitted with IVs and also offer B-12 shots. It’s so easy to get dehydrated at Disneyland!
4.    Parent Meltdown Help. If you cuss, snap at your spouse or threaten your children, a magic white train whisks you away to mitigate your parent meltdown. It will be silent and cool and air conditioned and soft.
5.    A happy hour twerk-off at Aladdins Oasis featuring Jasmine and Ariel. You can reward your husband with this at the end of the day if he uses his kind words and exhibits patience and understanding.
6.    A fake app on your phone that shows impossibly long wait times for less desirable rides.  Sorry honey, Dumbo is running a 5 HOUR WAIT! We simply can’t go back there.
7.    Disney drinking games. You get a free tequila shot anytime you get bumped by a double stroller,  witness public breastfeeding or someone says “cast member.”
8.    Anytime your kid has a tantrum, Donald Duck drops off a kid who’s being even a BIGGER asshole. This new kid is screaming AND hitting someone’s baby AND eating their boogers AND using inappropriate language. Your kid over there kicking his sister? What an angel.
9.    Bippity Boppity Botox Boutique. Perfect for a quick refresher while Dad takes the kids on Casey Jr. They also offer brow shaping and blow outs.
10.  Anytime your kid pees his pants, you get a free light up toy to wave around at the parade. Because let’s be real…that shit is cool and adults like it too.
11.  Diet Management. Anytime you stop at a Churro counter, Kylo Ren jumps out of a bush and slaps you across the face. If you try to buy a pretzel or candy corn, it’s a direct hit to the kidneys.
12.  Piglet is waiting for you at the entrance of Winnie the Pooh with a basket of magic mushrooms.  Why? Why not? Winnie the Pooh is a funny ride.

As you can see, Mr. Iger, I’ve really thought this through. I’m certain that if you implement these improvements you will notice that adults and kids alike are having a more magical and enchanting visit. Thanks for your consideration.

Christine Van Tuyl

Here we are at Grizzly Peak at California Adventure. What would make this experience even better? If you said shots of whisky with bits of real grizzly in them, you’d be right!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Top 10 Reasons Tortoises are Totally Badass

I know. It’s been over a year since I’ve written in this blog. But I’ve been trying. I really have!

Last month when we all got the stomach flu I wrote an AWESOME blog post on the 10 Best Things About Getting the Stomach Flu. Because there are some fringe benefits. Things like dramatic, unplanned weight loss. Binge watching the Magic School Bus with the whole family. The thrill of throwing some kid jammies in the trash instead of washing them because they are so nasty. You know, stuff like that. Then my stupid computer shut down and deleted the entire post. And I went to go throw up.

So I’m trying to get back into the groove again. You know what I’m thinking about today? I’m thinking about our pet tortoises, and how fucking badass they are.

When our beloved dog Pagoda passed away, I was 100% against getting another pet. Nothing could ever replace Pagoda. And nothing ever will.

Then my husband got this stupid idea to get TORTOISES for the girls. One turtle for each kid. I told him this was completely retarded because a) they are reptiles b) you can’t snuggle them and c) they don’t do anything cool. Why would anyone want such a lame, fake pet?

Finally I changed my mind.  It had been a rough week and our little family felt like it was coming apart at the seams. We needed something to pull us together. We needed PETS!

Two hours later, Ian and the girls returned from Pet Kingdom with two male Herman’s Tortoises. Marley named hers Speedy. Holland named hers Michael Jackson. And our adventure in tortoise parenting began.

Top 10 Reasons Tortoises are Totally Badass
1.  They have awesome personalities. From day one, Speedy was curious, sweet and energetic. He came out of his shell right away, and always responds to your voice, and sometimes will come to you when you call him. Michael Jackson was a little more reclusive at first, then quickly established himself as the alpha tortoise. He’s boisterous and brave, and is always climbing over things and loves bursting through the obstacle course the girls make him with their magna-tiles.  He loves exploring the first floor of Holland’s Elsa castle. He also takes huge dumps.

Me and Michael Jackson 
2. They keep you on your toes. Tortoises are mischievious little fuckers. They are incredibly active; always on the move except when they are sleeping or taking a sunbath. They are always getting stuck in between the slider and the screen to the patio, or getting a nail caught in the front gate and you have to go rescue them.
3. They are faster than you think. Think it’s easy to keep track of a tortoise? Think again. Our cleaners left the patio open for less than a minute and both tortoises booked it out of there. We found Speedy five townhomes down almost to the street, and Michael Jackson had buried himself in the dirt by our front yard and was completely hidden.
4. They look super cute when they’re walking. Their little legs are adorable, and their shells are majestic. The camoflauge is legit! It’s really hard to keep track of them when we take them out front for free play in the grass. It messes with your head, but in a cool sort of way.

Speedy on the move

5. They are tough little fuckers. They have shells, see? Thank God. If they can survive my girls, they can survive anything.
6.  They live to be like 80 years old or something. Michael Jackson is five and Speedy is four. That means the turtles will outlive us! The girls will inherit them, and then maybe THEIR KIDS make tortoise obstacle courses with magna-tiles. Cool, huh?
7. They turn your house into an attraction. Neighbor kids come from far and wide to check out our tortoises. The girls love showing them off and take pride in their reptiles.
8. They are easy to take care of.  They live outside in our front patio, and we have a waterproof heating pad covered with grass. They sleep on this and stay nice and cozy. You don’t even need to give them water. Once a week, you get to “soak” the tortoises in a bath. We just fill the bathwater up to their chins and they drink the water. And...the big bonus...they eat the juicer pulp! How badass is that? Every morning the girls bring out the pulp from the carrots and kale and the tortoises feast. 

Girls feeding the tortoises carrots and kale. They will watch them for hours. The tortoises actually babysit my kids.

  9. They get you outside in the grass, and barefoot in the earth. We have been outside so much more since we got the tortoises, enjoying our front lawn area. Its really peaceful chillin’ with the tortoises, out in nature.
  10. Tortoises make for great bribes. Are the girls being bad listeners? They don’t get to take the turtles up to their room for story time. Did Holland eat someone else’s snack again in preschool? She doesn’t get to feed Michael Jackson some watermelon. 60% of the time, it works every time. 

As you can see from my comprehensive list, tortoises are indeed badass. I highly recommend tortoises to anyone looking to add a new critter to their family.