It's Beginning To Look a Lot Like F&ck This

Sorry for that whole censorship ‘o’ the title thing, but a lot of times blog posts won’t make it into email boxes if they have swear-y words in the title.

Fortunately that doesn’t apply to the content. So here we go.

It’s beginning to look at a lot like FUCK THIS. That has been going through my head over and over, AND OVER, again for about three or four weeks now.

I don’t know about you guys, but Christmastime is a combination of magical wonder and complete and utter bullshit for me. I have been screwed over, stressed out, raked over the coals, and that was just in the prep leading up to the *big day.*

Some of it didn’t even have to do with the holidays, either.

  1. Thankless Thanksgiving

I wanted to do that thing on Thanksgiving that yuppies do, where they go around the table and everyone says something for which they are appreciative. We don’t pray, and the other adults in our house have a hard time being grateful and complimentary; so I just thought it would be a good time to set a better example for the kids, you know?

I was too buried in mashed potatoes and mixed emotions to even remember to have everyone do it.

The thankful part of Thanksgiving – unfortunately – went largely unrecognized. This isn’t to disregard the sincere and kind comments made by our guests; I’m really just referring to the 25 times I had to ask the people that live here “is it good? Is the turkey moist? Do you guys like the sweet potatoes?” …only to receive grumbled “it’s fine”s, or to notice that many of the dishes I lovingly prepared went largely untouched.

Which was fine. We had enough leftovers for me to spend the day after Thanksgiving turning all of it into freezer meals that fed us for roughly 9 days.

2. Who has time for hurt feelings, though, when medical stress descends upon you?

We’ve had some medical situations that sort of pumped the brakes on the rest of life, anyway.

My oldest daughter – almost 16 years old – had been having weird pain symptoms for some time, and because she’s a woman, naturally, every doctor we had seen prior to the last two months has dismissed her as “just another chick complaining.” She’s had three, main things going on – simultaneously: migraine headaches, severe abdominal pain, frequent and unexplainable “sports injuries” (in bilateral joints). We’ve been blown off by doctor after doctor after doctor. “Just a chick with migraines.” “Oh obviously you are playing too much tennis and not resting enough!” “Cramps are normal.”

One doctor at UCLA Women’s Health – a woman, younger than me no less – had the audacity to look me blank in the face, say “believe it or not, pain is actually common in many women that experience periods.” Then she asked me to leave the room and asked my daughter what kind of birth control she was really there for.

So in the last couple of months, it’s all sort of gotten worse. My daughter has hardly played any tennis or worked out at all, and yet she’ll still feeling pain in her knees or her shoulders as if she’s been training 6 hours a day. Her migraine headaches have gone from once a week or two, to Imitrex every day. And a few weeks ago, she started having the abdominal pain she got intermittently, which she describes as barbed wire being wrapped and pulled around her waste and back (those of you familiar will immediately think endometriosis, I know…); well that’s been happening almost daily now, and so badly we’ve wound up in the urgent care, the emergency room, and a solid two weeks of one doctor’s visit after another.

What has made the situation all the worse is this: everyone is a fucking asshole.

Healthcare in this country is total garbage. And I’m not just talking about the expense of it.

I made an appointment with one specialist over 100 miles from our home. We got halfway there and were going to be a few minutes late for the paperwork check in time (but still on time for the appointment), so I called, only to find out that the person who made the appointment never actually scheduled it. We turned around, defeated.

In a startling turn of events, when it was time to figure out the migraine situation – in late November – I learned that there is exactly one neurologist in the entire county that sees children. And he isn’t taking any new patients right now. One. Apparently kids don’t have neurological problems where we live, this is just too perfect of a place, right?

Luckily I found a phenomenal physician in LA County, we just have to drive 57 miles each way to see. Every four weeks.

(But wait…the migraine maintenance medicine he prescribed makes her so groggy and sleepy she can’t even do her schoolwork.)

What else…

  • A kid in the ER one night threw up on me.
  • Over 6 different people have suggested that birth control will resolve everything (it won’t, in fact birth control makes migraines worse and if she really does have something like endometriosis, birth control or any hormones for that matter are not the answer).
  • We hit our out of pocket maximum, and yet everyone is still collecting the money up front, leading me to be owed over $4,000 now at this point in refunds, reimbursements, and “hey this is YOUR share of the medical expenses.”
  • For pain, someone gave her Naproxen, and even though she has no problem with Ibuprofen, with the Naproxen, she broke out in over 20 canker sores inside her throat and mouth.
  • I asked the nurse practitioner at our primary care physician’s office to send her for abdominal ultrasound, just to be sure…sure, sure, no one thinks her pain is anything legitimate, but can we just check? The ultrasound came back with her left ovary literally swarmed by ovarian cysts. (The nurse called to tell me the news and suggested I put her on birth control, even though one day prior we had discussed just how that was not a solution and would only worsen her migraine headaches.)
  • In response to the news that my teenage daughter, who has been experiencing pain in some way or another for at least six months now, to the point that she is unable to function in her normal life on many days, was going to have to start having tests and seeing specialists to get a handle on what is going on, my husband asked me when the budget would be freeing up for him to get some things preventatively done on his commuter car.

The good news is that we are – hopefully – finally getting to a point that we are going to be taken seriously. Why? Because finally the neurologist suggested I just take her to my OBGYN practice. They are old men and they don’t really deal with menstrual disorders, but they won’t blow her off and they will advocate on her behalf to get good care.

3. It’s beginning to look a lot like fuck this

And then there was Christmas. Because of everything going on, Christmas was a scurry in the last couple weeks to make magic. I think I slept about two hours a night, while the rest of the time baking like crazy, ordering gifts on Amazon, and – finally, in a moment of desperation – paying my 16 year old (who is too nonfunctional to do much else) to wrap the majority of the gifts.

I did manage to take the kids to a light show, like we do every year; although – lesson learned – my dad can’t go in the future because he just rushes everyone through it, complaining about how cold he is and ruining the evening with his griping.

When the real FUCK THIS came up, though, was about a week before Christmas, when I attempted to take my kids to the Polar Express train ride out of Fillmore and Western.

If you are in Southern California, you know that one of the priciest and – supposedly – magical Christmas experiences is actually to take a ride of the Fillmore and Western Polar Express. Everyone shows up in their Christmas pajamas, there’s lights and music and they act out the movie/book in front of you as you take a train ride and sip hot chocolate. Everyone gets a bell; it’s fun.

We had never been, and I decided with everything shitty going on, it would be a fun break one evening for my kids. So we attempted to go, and the bad news is that my 3 year old – who gets startled pretty easily – was getting on the train with me, and a man behind us started yelling to his kids who were ahead of us. It scared my little guy, and he started to cry.

Not like a screaming tantrum crying though. A basic cry. It was honestly so loud in there, my other two kids didn’t even know he was doing it.

Nonetheless, we were sitting in the front of that car, and had barely even sat down; he was still crying and I was starting to calm him down, when the train employee came over me and told me I should take him off the train to calm him down.

I understood, but I also didn’t. Like I know my kid, and I know that I can calm him down before the train leaves. We still had 30 minutes, and literally no one could have noticed what was going on. I also knew that if I did take him off the train, there was no way I would get him back on. When a toddler cries for a calmer situation and immediately gets what he wants, instead of learning to self soothe and adapt… well, come on…

Still, I understood that the lady was just doing her job. Right? And I don’t like the thought of being one of those people that ruins the experience for everyone else with drama; especially at an event for kids. So we got off the train, and I – obviously – couldn’t get my little guy to go back on. The train left, without us.

So I emailed customer service, and this is where it gets really annoying. I told them what happened and just asked if they could maybe send us the bells. At the end of the whole thing Santa gets on the train and gives everyone a bell. My kids just really wanted their fucking bells, and I paid for them, you know?

I got an email back from them not apologetic. Not saying I could have my bells.

I got an email back saying it didn’t happen. That what I said DID. NOT. FUCKING. HAPPEN.

At that point, I just gave up and gave in. Christmas became fuck this. I did the gifts, the day. All of it with as big of a smile as I could manage. I made Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas morning brunch, and we did all the things and I’m sure that it is a fact that my kids had fun.

But I was also just done.

The terrifying part is that Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas is just the start of it for us. Now we have birthday after birthday after birthday, Easter…Moms have it hard you guys. We don’t just do it all, we bear the mental and emotional load of it. We are the figure it out-ers, we don’t just have to take our kids to the stuff, we have to figure out how to make it all work and advocate for them and make sure everything is where it needs to be so that things don’t get worse.

But also, we do it all because we want to. And that is where being a Mom is the weirdest and most emotionally conflicting job of them all.

So if you had happy holidays that resembled the most picture perfect scenario you could ever imagine in a Hallmark movie or quaint Christmas card hanging on someone’s mantle, I am genuinely happy for you. If you’ve had it rough this season, I feel you also. Or, if you are like me, and it’s a mixed bag of negatives and negatives, but also positives and unbelievably happy children – in spite of it all… well, I am right there with you in the trenches, my friend. This is a weird place in life to be. It’s beginning to look a lot like fuck this, but also fucking bring it.

It’s Pumpkin Spice Equinox, Bitches.

I am literally shitting pumpkin spiced foods and beverages out my ears at this point, that is how much I am up in this fall business.

I have been for weeks.

Every year, I find myself here. Writing a blog post about how fucking fabulous fall is. Others have done the same, about decorative gourds season, and about the bliss that comes with the best fucking season of all seasons to ever exist.

Eventually I get sick of it. I tire of the maple candles and the apple picking and the farm stands and the pumpkin spiced flavors and the basic bitch UGG boots. Then I move on to Hallmark movies and cherry and cinnamon flavor palettes and holiday music and putting my tree up before Thanksgiving.

But for now, it’s fall. It’s fall and I am in my zone.

I’ve reached the point where I stop procrastinating on the Halloween costumes, and they begin to take their final form. My two oldest kids – 15 and 11 – still dress up to please their brother, and I am ready. I am ready to sew, tuck, pin, and hot glue that shit together like the most Pinteresty Mom you’ve ever known.

My fall display has been out on the front porch for several weeks now, but I’m ready for phase two: excessive fall display. I’m talking hay bails, I’m talking corn stalks, I’m talking fucking potted marigolds.

Two weeks before Halloween, it will morph to Halloween-themed.

November 1st, we move back to excessive fall display with a flair of Thanksgiving.

And about a week before Thanksgiving, the Christmas bonanza takes over and my fall display moves to the table for Thanksgiving dinner.

I have a system. I’m ready. It’s go time.

As I am typing this, I’m actually – legitimately – sitting here, yelling -nay, screaming – in my Steroid Starla voice: LET’S DO THIS! LET’S GO! Because fall is my jam, and I’ve got my canning gear out.

Literally. I’m ready to make some pickles. To pickle some watermelon rinds. To give salsa and pesto and spaghetti sauce another go around. To make up some fucking fruit butters and canned pie fillings. I hate cooking, and I especially loathe the heat and load of canning. And yet the thought of spending an entire day over a steaming pot of vinegar and boiling water has tingles shooting out of every hole of my Martha Stewart reading – water bath canning – yes, I can do this and no, none of us are going to get a deadly intestinal disease from improper processing – head.

And the icing on this fall’s apple cake is: we seem to have escaped our typical, autumnal heat wave. For quite a few years, it would be a muggy 105 degrees for several weeks through September and October. We would slog around in the heat, wondering how we could ever celebrate autumn when it feels like we live on the equator in the middle of summer.

But – fingers crossed – with the exception of a couple days of heat here, and a few days of humidity there – it is cooling down.

Cooling down for, you guessed it: layers.

The thing I’m loving this year is the new appreciation for basic ass girls like me being into this shit. Like finally people are standing up to the naysayers of all-things-pumpkin spice and proclaiming: NO! You will not make fun of me for enjoying the fusion of nutmeg and cloves! NO! You will accept and embrace the addition of cinnamon to create a trifecta of flavors that have literally been around for centuries. “You know pumpkin spice doesn’t even have pumpkin in it!” the naysayers proclaim, and finally we are there, ready to respond: no shit … it’s called pumpkin spice because it’s the spice used in pumpkin pie, you ignorant, nutmeg-hating twats.

So today is the first day of fall and I’m feeling fabulous about it. I’ve got crafts staged in the garage, and pumpkin spice pancake mix prepped in the fridge for breakfast. It’s Pumpkin Spice Equinox, bitches.

All I Want For Christmas Is For The Holiday Debating To Stop

It’s the 21st century, and I would wager a bet that there is one thing historians will one day point to as defining these earliest decades of the age: the Internet debates. 

You know them. 

They are the debates in which everyone has an opinion that is confused for fact, and it needs to be heard. Loudly.

They are often arguments about the right way to parent. Or, generally speaking, how people do things in different ways, all the while believing theirs to be the only right way.

Everyone involved is undoubtedly offended at some point.

This year’s Christmas season is not lacking in them, the Internet debates. At the strike of midnight on Halloween night, the holiday-related debates started seeping out the woodwork of every crack and crevice the Internet has to offer.

The people who decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving kicked it all off in the debate against those that wait until their turkey has digested.

Shortly after, people started spitting hatred at each other over Thanksgiving turkey or Thanksgiving ham.

It continued with the people that do the Elf on the Shelf versus the people that think it’s creepy and/or over the top and/or teaching your kids to adhere to an authoritarian government’s surveillance. 

(A bit much on the last point there, wouldn’t you say?)

Then it was the people that maintain Santa Claus is real (at all costs) fighting – sometimes virulently – against those that couldn’t lie to their children for any reason. Ever.

This was around the time it became insufferable, as it does every year.

And this year has, so far, been a real doozy. It’s been a lot of discussion about consent and ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside,’ which I have written about on this blog. It’s been the age old correctness of “Happy Holidays” versus “Merry Christmas.” It’s even gone down the dark hole of whether or not Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer has secret and insidious messaging to it.

The most recent debate I saw float up out of nowhere in the comments section on Facebook was White versus Colored. As in the color of lights people put on their trees. I could not believe some of the things people were saying, either. Straight lined, cold blooded hatred and bitterness towards people of the side opposing.

Is it just me, or have things gotten a little weird? Culturally speaking, I mean.

Political correctness and everyone’s opinion suddenly being considered fact has effectively taken over not only the Internet, but daily life. I’m not talking about people giving you actual facts… I’m talking about opinions, and that escalating to being offended. At my local grocery store, the cashiers keep a list of holiday greetings they are and are not allowed to say to people for fear of offending someone while checking out their cheese curds and quinoa.

The folly in it all is it’s destroying everything people have, and for what? To prove a point? To be right? To be less offended? 

So you have chosen not to do Elf on the Shelf for your kids. Great! It isn’t necessary to go on a crusade to therefore stop others from doing it, even going as far as to tell your kids to tell their friends that their elves are creepy and perverted.

Or you are an atheist and offended by the mere idea of The Nativity. Cool. I have beliefs too. That doesn’t mean I insist that every thing inconsistent with my own beliefs be taken down around my hometown, as a group of atheists in my community recently suggested of local nativity displays. 

With all of these debates, there are two camps: those that do, those that don’t. There is no in between, and it all seems to be rooted in a whole lot of judgment. What the proponents of each side fails to realize, though, is that what they do actually bears no weight on anyone else.

All I want for Christmas is for the debates to stop. 

I don’t mean for people to all suddenly believe in the same things. And I don’t mean for people to start ignoring facts, let’s be clear there. I just mean – maybe – for the holiday season we could give each other the gift of keeping our divisive, judgmental opinions to ourselves.

Maybe we could have a little more understanding that other people live life differently. And that it’s okay. Your neighbor can eat whatever they want for the holidays, and in turn you have the freedom to have your Elf on the Shelf engage in all the shenanigans you want, unencumbered. You prominently display your nativity scene on your front yard, the guy down the street doesn’t celebrate any holidays at all and you keep your mouth shut about it.

After all, it’s just a holiday. Let people have it for whatever they want it to be (or not). 

Then again, maybe this – like everything else – is just a debate waiting to happen.

You Guys Need To Chill With The Elf On The Shelf Hate

I’m going to drop a real bomb on you guys, here. It’s a doozy. Brace yourselves.

I do the Elf on the Shelf for my kids.

Yeah, that’s right. I have the Elf on the Shelf. Not just the Elf on the Shelf, but one for each of my kids plus an Elf for my older dog and the reindeer for my puppy.

That’s five – count ’em, FIVE – stuffed dolls that I take out every holiday season, and move around nightly, creating hijinks and antics. I even buy the accessories now. All for the enjoyment of my children.

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I started about five or six years ago and my kids loved it. I mean LOVED. I never tied it to behavior, like some parents do. A couple times if my kids were fighting I’d have the elves do their thing, but ALSO leave a note: “Santa says quit fighting!” Nothing beyond that, though. If I forget a night, whatever. It becomes a joke that Mom blew it, because they’ve also always known it was me moving those silly things around.  

I always used to say that I would never do stuff like that (I may have even said it here on my blog). You know that arrogant person that has zero kids who knew everything they would and would not do as a parent? That was me, and the Elf on the Shelf was that thing I definitely wasn’t going to do. Even for a period of time after I had my children.

At some point, though – somewhere in the process – I realized something so unimaginable and profound, it may come as even more of a shock to you guys than the simple fact of me doing the Elf on the Shelf:

My children’s’ childhoods are about their enjoyment, not my own personal judgments and opinions. Yours too. 

You guys can imagine, then, that I feel pretty fucking accosted on a daily basis now, when I log onto the Internet to see a stream of hate for the Elf on the Shelf in every feed I come across. Articles. Blogs. Opinion sites. People’s random Facebook status updates…loaded with hatred and loathing for this simple family tradition. 

See that’s the thing I’ve noticed about the people that don’t do the Elf on the Shelf… they’re just like vegans. The old joke about vegans goes like this: do you know how you can tell someone is a vegan? Don’t worry…they’ll tell you. All the haters of the Elf on the Shelf seem to be capable of doing during the holiday season is telling people that and why they hate the thing. 

The Elf on the Shelf is what you make of it. It can be a tool to control your kids’ behavior for the month or so before Christmas. It can be a fun little family tradition you do every night during the holiday season.

It can also be something you don’t bring into your home.

That’s your prerogative. 

Those of you that don’t, though, need to take a serious chill on all the hate. Honestly. Chill the fuck out.

I get that you guys – adults – think it’s creepy. I get that the thing has this sort of voyeuristic look to it’s face. I have a bitchy look to my face, you don’t see people straight up calling me a bitch every time they log onto the Internet. (At least that I’m aware of.)

Some people use it as a weird little guy sitting on a shelf, spying on you – or whatever. Those are the people that call the Elf on the Shelf (to be clear, a doll made of felt and stuffing) a “pervert.” That’s us – adults – applying our shitty experiences to otherwise innocent things. Dolls, for fuck’s sake. Why stop at the Elf on the Shelf? Why not consider every doll or toy or fake-slightly-weird-looking toy “creepy” and ban them from your house? 

I understand that it’s just another lie we tell our kids. Between Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy… adding another make-believe fantasy to lighten up the heaviness of the modern childhood – well that’s just too fucking far. Right, Monica – mother of one who most definitely will not play in to letting her child have an ounce of fucking levity, from Day One?

Chill the fuck out, Monica.

Some people use it as a behavioral tool, as in the elf doesn’t move if you’ve been bad. To those people, just waiting around every corner is some lady, clutching her pearls, ready to comment about how people shouldn’t need a doll to keep their kids in line. Alright, Pearl Clutcher, fair enough. But you know what is better than judging the struggles a parent has with their kids? Keeping your fucking judgments to yourself.

(In the words of our Holy Mother of Orange County, Vicki Gunvalson: “judge me when you are perfect.”)

And don’t even get the ineffable writers at the likes of Scary Mommy or Bustle started on the mere hassle of doing the whole Elf thing every night. I mean, for goodness sakes, you’ve fed and clothed your children, now you purchased a little doll to move around every night, voluntarily I’ll add, and you have to do this for – what, like a month? And the only payment for this unbelievably agonizing task is your children’s happiness?!

I get it.

I get that the thing has a creepy face, like every other doll your kids have.

I get that fantasy is another word for “imagination,” and there is no place for that shit in a child’s head these days.

And – more than anything – I understand that the plight of the modern parent is that you’ve had all these kids, and yet consider the majority of their kid-ness to be a giant inconvenience to your own life.

I get it. We all do.

But really, guys. Chill. The. Fuck. Out.

And, shut up.

It’s Friggin’ Fall Ya’ll

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It’s friggin’ fall ya’ll.

Ghords and pumpkins and apple bobbing showing up in my Facebook newsfeed.

A trip to the pumpkin patch is on my calendar, and there would definitely be cobbler baking in my oven if it weren’t still a million goddamned degrees outside.

Pillsbury has like seven new cake flavors out, including candy apple and pumpkin spice. Which both sound less appealing than licking the roof of my dog’s mouth, but still – it’s friggin’ fall! I’m pumped!

My grocery store has an entire section of fall themed napkins and paper plates now. Like I walk in and – BAM! – there’s pumpkins and leaves to choose from for my family to wipe their disgusting, sloppy hands with.

All the memes are popping up on Instagram making fun of people for drinking their basic white girl pumpkin spice lattes, too. And on the note of basic white girls, I was able to get my husband his annual nutmeg and chai infused coffee creamer, only available – you guessed right – in friggin’ fall.

It’s way too hot out still to wear fall clothes, but I can now look longingly at my scarves and boots and Uggs, my sweaters, my cardigans, my hoodies, my cozy socks and comfy, warm pajamas. I can look at them and know that the five days a year it’s cold enough to wear those things here in Southern California are coming soon. Because it’s friggin’ fall.

Last week – as I mentioned in my post last night – we wrapped up a week of glamping with a couple nights in a hotel and fall shopping. Clothes. New shoes. School stuff. I spent no less than four hours on Thursday deciding whether I wanted to get a brown hurricane lantern with fall themed leaves inside it; or a beige hurricane lantern with nothing but a fall colored candle inside.

Even though it’s hot as balls outside still, I feel suddenly compelled to cook up some chowders. Clam chowder. Corn chowder. Chicken chowder. Potato chowder. I have so many chowders planned, it’ll be coming out of our eyeballs.

I planned out my kids’ Halloween costumes. Every year they dress together as a theme, and it goes a little something like this: I plan the costumes, start working on the costumes, forget about the costumes for two months, panic three days before Halloween and run around town like a crazy woman to put something together, they put said costumes on and take a few photos, then change into something simpler to hang out with friends. I friggin’ love it – it’s fall!

There’s like twenty five bags-worth of leaves piling up in my backyard too. Which doesn’t make much sense, because we live in Southern California and also what the hell do we have gardeners for if they aren’t going to take care of the leaves. But still. Leaves! Yeah! Fall!

I don’t know what it is that makes me more happy about fall. The fact that eventually (maybe in mid-November) it’ll cool down just a little bit. Or this year in particular having been a terrible summer, and fall signifies the end of that. Whatever the case may be, I’m psyched. Ghords and pumpkins and apples and apple bobbing and apple picking and stuff with nutmeg and the other seasonings that go into PSL I’m unaware of; Halloween and then Thanksgiving. It’s friggin’ fall, ya’ll. It’s friggin’ fall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Went Camping And Survived

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Okay, so let’s start this off by saying that to call what I did “camping” is a bit of a stretch.

Four nights were in a hooked up RV with running water, air conditioning, and electricity; in an RV park with free Wifi by the beach.

Two nights were in a hotel.

Regardless of those little details, it was camping and I did it and also I survived.

I have a very complicated history with camping.

On one hand, the bulk of my childhood is made up of one camping story after another stitched together. So you’d think camping brought about fond memories.

I camped a lot when I was very little in Girl Scouts. We hiked and made s’mores and eggs in paper bags over campfires and we sang songs and did crafts, and all that other happy horse shit the Girl Scouts do that I currently am at a loss to remember. I think there was some ghost story telling and TAPS playing in there somewhere.

My grandparents owned a lot up at The Pines (near the California-Nevada border), so we went there often when I was little as well. In fact, there’s a huge pine tree on the mountain today that I planted when I was only 6.

As I grew older, though, I became way more high maintenance; the result of which was that camping was no longer something I generally enjoyed. I grew to love my conveniences and my hair dryer and my makeup. And, more so, to dislike things like hiking and allergies, being bored sitting and fishing and getting nothing, and really not liking to be almost eaten by a bear.

…which, for the record, happened once. We were camping when I was 15 at Kings Canyon and after my entire family hiked to a waterfall, someone started screaming because a brown bear was walking up the pathway, straight for us. It ended up turning back (or something); nonetheless, I slept in the car and stayed close to our campsite for the rest of the trip.

Everyone this year was doing big vacations and trips, though; and – by comparison – my kids had an all time shitty summer. It started with a funeral for my husband’s grandmother; and shortly after that my oldest daughter sprained her ankle, effectively canceling all of her summer tennis plans. My younger daughter still played some, but then around mid-summer we found out she has Osgood-Schlatters, further hindering our tennis stuff…and to make matters worse, we have no AC and it has been HOT AS BALLS since mid-June.

All in all it just kind of sucked.

So as summer started coming to a close, I was determined to figure something out to salvage the season. But I was also on a tight budget, it being last minute and all; so when my mother in law offered us up their RV whenever we want it, I knew that was the best option.

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In all honesty, with the amount of a high maintenance, pain in the ass princess I am now – today, 21 years after that day the bear almost mauled us all to death up at Kings Canyon – I considered our four nights in an RV and two nights in a hotel really roughing it.

  1. Have you people ever showered in an RV? First off, it made me feel like Andre the Giant. My head hit the ceiling; and the shower head was effectively a glorified hose. And to make matters worse, calling RV hot water “hot water” is a bit of a stretch.
  2. It was just me and the three kids. That, alone, was absolute craziness. I had to make fires, put together the charcoal grills, use matches – all while keeping the baby from falling out of the RV window, and the girls busy and happy enough to feel like the summer had been salvaged.
  3. The third morning we were there, it rained. This soaked all of our stuff outside, including our firewood. It wouldn’t have been that big of a deal (the sun came out shortly after the rain storm); except that the firewood wouldn’t light in the evening. I came up with the GENIUS idea to pour lighter fluid all over the small amount of flames I had been successful in getting going. I’ll let you guys know when my eyebrows grow back.
  4. The final morning we were there – and this was a big one – the RV toilet clogged. As it turned out, we were using the wrong type of toilet paper. Nevertheless, we couldn’t figure out how to get it unclogged, until finally we found this magic wand my in laws had stored in one of the outside compartments. It sprayed the paper out of the toilet, but after we got it back outside, my daughter started unscrewing it from the hose before the water was fully off; and, in short, there was a large mess.

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Okay, obviously two nights in a hotel was not even remotely like camping. But it was      still roughing it. We were on the first floor with some noisy walkers above us; and there was a local corn hole tournament going on, so the hotel was packed with rowdy corn hole enthusiasts.

We’ve been home, now, for two days and I feel like my entire perspective on life has changed. I can handle a long and rough vacation with the kids, alone. That’s a really big deal. Also, I can figure out how to do things like build fires and unclog RV toilets if I’m given enough time and resources.

I’m definitely more of an all-inclusive resort kind of gal, though. What about you?

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Repeat After Me: It’s OK If People Want To Do Christmas Early

Ugh.

I am so sick and tired of people and their popular shit to be upset about on the Internet.

Like really.

As many of you know, Halloween was just a couple of days ago. I, personally, had a great Halloween. As in, I didn’t do shit. My kids dressed up in their annual themed costumes the week prior for a Halloween party at the tennis club (see below), and didn’t even decide to go trick or treating until pretty much the day prior.

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But my older kids are old enough to just go out with friends on their own, and the baby was way too young…I mean he probably would have had fun looking at all the kids out and about (he loves kids), but the last thing I wanted to do was run the risk of hearing some local asshole tell me “he’s too young for candy, it’s obviously for you.”

So I stayed home with the baby. We had not one trick or treater.

Sure enough though, the very next day I logged on to the good ol’ Facebook and every asshole was bitching and complaining about people jumping straight over Thanksgiving to Christmas.

I present to you just a few examples of the oh-so-clever memes I saw that morning:

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First thing, I get it. I. Get. It. A lot of people feel overwhelmed with Christmas, what with all the merry and joy and shit going around. I also understand completely that here in America, we love our Thanksgiving.

But there are a few things to consider.

1. America is not the only goddamned country on this stupid planet; really now when will you people get that?

The Thanksgiving celebrated at the end of November is an American holiday.

American.

Which means that if people over in France or Great Britain or Uganda or China or Iceland or – I don’t know – any country or province other than fucking America wants to start getting all jazzed and shit about the holiday season, why must we begrudge them?

The thing about the Internet is that it’s not an American-only thing, which means the constant griping and bitching about people skipping American Thanksgiving and heading on to Christmas on the Internet is seen by everyone, universally. Why should they have to listen to that shit? Why, I ask?

2. Did it ever occur to you people that the holidays are stressful, in part, because of how quickly they go by?

Especially when you are a parent, it is so hard to cram everything in.

There are the holiday events, the school plays (we homeschool, so thankfully don’t have those), the holiday shopping…oh wait, more holiday shopping, the outdoor lights, the indoor decorations, the Christmas parties with friends, Christmas parties for work, Christmas parties with family, nightly Elf on the Shelf nonsense, the cookie baking, the candy making…not to mention every day life and the onset of cold and flu season.

Life is fucking busy enough as is. Then you add the pressure and stress of getting all that other crap done for the holidays, it seems only reasonable that it would – or potentially could – be more enjoyable and much less stressful if we were given more than a few fucking weeks to get it all done.

3. Your reasons aren’t everyone else’s reasons. Narcissists.

There are people celebrating Christmas in the middle of June because they’ve been given one week to live and wanted nothing more than one more Christmas with their family.

That’s an extreme one, but can any of you get out of your own piddly lives for -like- one minute and consider that other people have different lives, and therefore different reasons for doing things?

Including getting geared up for Christmas early.

For us, our house has been a little glum lately. My husband’s grandfather – the kids’ great grandfather – died about a month ago, his funeral was just last weekend. It’s gloomy in our house. Beyond that, the busy season is in full gear at Nick’s job, meaning he’s gone or asleep for almost 18-20 hour periods, every day and night of the week.

We need some fucking cheering up around here, which was why I decided to let the kids pull out the Christmas stuff the day after Halloween, and why I cranked up the Christmas jams playlist on Spotify today while we worked on crafts for the baby’s birthday party.

And plus, my kid fucking enjoy Christmas. It’s OK for me to extend that a few weeks before Thanksgiving. Like really, their extra merriment is not a detriment to society. I promise.

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I guess I’m just getting sick and goddamned tired of everyone in this world thinking they can tell other people how to live their lives.

Or, if someone does something another person or two doesn’t approve of, that everyone and their mother has a right to question the legitimacy of that person’s decisions. Then it goes viral on the Internet and suddenly it’s like a culturally taboo thing to do whatever it was a couple people from the get go didn’t like.

And above all, I’m tired of this idea that we can all just make fun of and shame people into doing exactly what we want them to do.

So someone decides to decorate their own home before Thanksgiving. How in the actual fuck does this affect you? Really. How?

Does it force you to decorate your own home?

Does it cancel all of your Thanksgiving plans?

I cannot see any single scenario in which another person’s choices on Christmas shopping or decoration or Christmas movie-watching or Christmas music-listening or Christmas anything for that matter affects your, or anyone else’s, life. I just don’t see it.

Worry about your own shit. For real guys.

Repeat after me: it’s OK if people want to do Christmas early.

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