Wednesday, August 24, 2016

to the women in the world

dear women of the world,

let me tell you a story: the other day i made potato soup (paula deen's recipe where you're supposed to add shrimp or corn, which i always chicken out at the last minute and add bacon and cheddar instead because shrimp and corn in my potato soup sounds gross and i just can't wrap my head around it. also, you know it's good because it's paula deen and yeah, there's a lot of butter and half and half and whole milk AND bacon so make it sparingly) and something was up with the bacon. it baked weird (yes! bake your bacon! it's so much more evenly cooked and the mess is minimal!) and the edges out with a weird texture. like plastic, kind of. it was awful. i guess that's what i get for buying the cheapest bacon in the grocery store. anyway, ava, who has the worst manners out of all four of our children (and this includes sarah, who insists on eating her yogurt with her hands), could NOT shut up about it. she didn't like it, it was weird, what did i do to it, what do i think i may have done to it, has anyone else tried this, because don't, it's awful, but do because i need you to join me in my endless negative commentary because i have not sufficiently grated the nerves of our poor mother quite yet and she's so close to the edge i can taste it and i'm certain that one more complaint will push her right over the edge---

"ava," i said finally, through gritted teeth, "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."

ava blinked, as she let that sit for a moment, then immediately began again, dangling a piece of bacon she'd fished from her soup by the tips of her fingers, dripping soup on to the table. "but what did you do?" she asked.

"ava," i said again, my teeth grinding with effort not to lose it, "when someone works hard to make you a dinner and you don't like it, say 'no thank you' and shut your big, fat mouth."

ava blinked again, perhaps a little shocked, perhaps picking up on the fact that she had poked the bear a bit too hard. then said, "it tastes awful."

what. the. hell.

so i took that child's dinner away from her, sent her to her room in tears (both of us), picked out all the pieces of bacon from her bowl and enjoyed a delicious bowl of potato soup that had no bacon, but lots of cheese and was rather delicious.

we had a much better day the next day.

i'm telling you this story, ladies of the world, because sometimes you're like ava. and you need help.

let's just state a few obvious facts:

1. i am pregnant.

2. i already have four kids.

3. you don't know how to shut your big, fat mouths.

women, the fact that i have to even address this is appalling. because you are WOMEN. and you're usually women with CHILDREN. and you should know SO WELL that being a pregnant woman is challenging and the last thing a pregnant woman wants to hear is EXACTLY WHAT YOU ARE SAYING TO ME RIGHT NOW. do you know what men say to me when they hear/notice i am pregnant? "congratulations! that's great!" or, "do you know what you're having?" (i answer) "congratulations! that's great!" only one man has been an idiot and i don't really count him because he was an INSANELY drunk groomsmen at a wedding i was shooting and he didn't really care about the fact that i was pregnant (of the pregnancy itself i believe he said, "that's great for you, i guess. i don't want to have anything to do with any of that shit.") but when he found out i was having my fifth he did exclaim, "don't you know this can all be prevented?" and because he was so drunk i grabbed his wrist and shouted, "wait! what? how?" and then his face turned bright red (could have been the alcohol), he sputtered a bit, and excused himself.

but women, you-- YOU are saying the stupidest stuff to me. and YOU know better. WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM??? don't you think that if i were pregnant with twins i would know by now?

for example:

woman: well, miriam, how are you feeling?

me: i'm fine! things are going well.

woman: how far along are you?

me: almost halfway!

woman: you're awfully big. are you sure there's only one in there?

me: there's only one!

woman: wow. well, good for you. that's so exciting.

(we talk of other things, begin to part ways)

woman: and you're sure you're not carrying twins?

me: nope! we would have noticed that by now.

so women, not only are you saying ALL THE WRONG THINGS but you're REPEATEDLY doing so. let me offer you a few tips:

what you want to say: holy cow, woman! you're huge!
what your mother would have liked to have taught you to say, had she known: how are you feeling?

what you want to say: five kids! are you crazy!
what your mother would have liked to have taught you to say, had she known: you're going to do great.

what you want to say: PREGNANT AGAIN???
what your mother would have liked to have taught you to say, had she known: congratulations! that's great! (seriously women, the men are so far ahead of you on this it's astounding)

what you want to say: are you sure you're not having twins?
what your mother would have like to have taught you to say, had she known: if you need anything, let me know.

i'd also like to remind you of something: when you're pregnant you don't feel great. or good. or okay. okay? morale is always teetering between low and dismally low. things are getting large and there's nothing you can do it about it. muscle mass is disintegrating. fat is appearing in places you didn't know your body could even store fat. your belly is heavy. your back hurts. your face is breaking out in to a million pimples that are far worse than anything you ever saw when you were a teenager. REMEMBER? REMEMBER THAT??? YOU WERE THERE ONCE, TOO.

so, when i tell you about my hypothyroidism, don't blurt out, "is that why you've gained all that weight so quickly? that's a symptom, you know."

and here's a little tidbit for those of you have no idea what it's like to be pregnant many times, there's a thing called muscle memory. and age. and have a soft, saggy belly because you've already being pregnant four times before. so when i, as a only-halfway-there pregnant woman look about eight months pregnant HAVE MERCY and shut your big, fat mouth. and give me a hug. or a box of chocolate. or better yet, an opportunity to nap. BECAUSE YOU'RE ONLY MAKING THINGS WORSE. and really, shame on you.

women, we can do better. let's, shall we? you stop telling me how big i am, and i will decide that i will not answer you honestly. because that's what's going to start happening. the next woman who tells me something that's rude i'm simply going to tell her how rude she is. because even though sally taught me to be polite i've got this one last pregnancy card and i've only got it for four and a half more months and boy, you better believe i am going to wave that thing so hard my arms are going to fall off.


miriam. and pretty much every other pregnant woman you've been talking to. because i can't possibly be the only one.

ps a lot of you are super awesome and kind and really polite. i mean it, i am surrounded by some of the best women in the world, and i really love you.

Monday, August 15, 2016


i took kate to the kindergarten round up today.

i'd like to preface this story with this little bit of information:

i was homeschooled. and i really liked being homeschooled. there were things about being homeschooled that made me a little bit awkward, mostly that i grew up at my own rate and because i was a late bloomer i was a bit behind my peers for awhile. but, because i was allowed to grow at my own pace i feel like i emerged from teenage-hood with a lot of self awareness and a decent amount of self confidence. 

because i was a homeschooled, i am a little bit afraid of public school. ask my friend carrie. for the first few years of ava's career as a student of the public school system i spent the first week or two of school hyperventilating into a paper bag about whether or not this was a good decision, and threatening to pull ava out to homeschool her. carrie talked me off a few ledges. 

armed with this information, it probably makes sense that my children's school has never been a place i've felt very comfortable. it's a combination of a lot of things, really: i'm busy (four kids and a business and family nearby and a lot of activity at our church) and i'm a bit of an introvert, i am terrified of drama and commitment and pick my friends slowly and carefully. 

so there we were, a whole bunch of herms and one of them is going to be a kindergartener come fall and when the principal asked for all of those soon-to-be kindergarteners to go with the teachers, sarah took a running start and had to be pulled back and reminded that kate was the kindergartener, not her (so she cried a little because she had to stay while a few kindergarteners cried because they had to go. this is my fifth year of public-school-momhood. and i held sarah as we watched kate go, holding the hand of one of our most favorite classroom-aids-and-overall-human-beings-on-earth, and i realized that our little school had become one of our happy places. 

we listened to the principal explain the dress code, we listened to the assistant principal explain the drop-off zone (if you want to die laughing and relating at the same time, watch this video on youtube), then i let ava and seth play pokemon go on my phone as long as they 1) stayed on the concrete area of the school, 2) did not go inside any classrooms, even if invited, and 3) stayed away from the construction area while i took miss sarah to the bathroom. once we got to the school nurses office sarah immediately forgot about her need to go potty, but instead hugged the school nurse for a long, long time. because we LOVE the school nurse. and the office manager. and we hadn't seen them all summer long and WE MISSED THEM SO MUCH. 

when kate came back she smiled a lot and flopped around a lot more (do any of your children do this when feeling a little aware? i swear my children turn into fish out of water and just flop about) and sarah took the hand of our very favorite classroom aid and went into the kindergarten classroom ALL BY HERSELF and played with some blocks and ava and seth stood around and compared pokemon collections with another teacher that none of us have ever had (well, except for my brother, aaron) but we love very much nonetheless, and i stood around and caught up with the kindergarten teachers and with the principal and YOU GUYS. HAPPY PLACE. 

at the beginning of this career as an elementary school mom i never thought this would have happened. but as we slowly left today (we said goodbye to everyone a hundred times) i realized that we're at home at our little school and then i realized why: these administrators, teachers, and aids, are my co-parents. they are my village. and when i need advice or help on raising my children, i can go to them. 

when i first brought that baby ava home i felt the world on my shoulders-- ava's world. her everything was up to me (and ryan!) and me  (and ryan!) alone. it took time but i began to expand that solitary circle-- to my parents, ryan's parents, a few close friends...ava turned ten last week and as we walked around campus i realized just how large that circle had become. and how grateful i am for that circle.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

7 quick takes...on a wednesday

1. i have the world's biggest pimple just below my mouth. when i woke up this morning i caught sight of it only slightly in the bathroom mirror because i'd forgotten my glasses and i thought, DON'T PANIC BUT THERE'S AN ENORMOUS BLOOD SUCKING SOMETHING ON YOUR FACE. LIKE MAYBE A TICK. 

thank goodness it was only a pimple. but then again, ugh. why?

pregnancy is not kind. 

2. don't worry, we've only been at my parents' house for 15 days. and if i could have capitalized that 15 i would have, so you would know that i am shouting it. and if we were eating lunch i may have slammed my open palm on the table for emphasis. because we were told 3-4 days. and now's it's been 15. and we're just waiting for the phone call that says, "come home!" at first it was, come on over this morning! and then it was, please wait until noon,  and now its, don't come until 2. and at two,  i don't care if i don't have a house anymore, we're moving back in. because i told the kids they could go swimming today and i told them that as i packed their swim clothes and now i don't know where their swim clothes are and we need to get home so we can unpack so we can come right back and go swimming. I PROMISED. 

3. lupe's in thousand oaks is closing. it's been open for as long as thousand oaks. we tried to go last night, but they're only open on mondays and wednesdays. i have some happy packard memories in lupes. mostly lunches with my mom and dad, some with my brothers. but several years ago, when ryan lost his job and i was three weeks away from having baby kate, my mom and dad took ryan and i out for dinner and while i ate a ground beef tostada carlisle (my dad) told ryan all about how he'd lost his job, too, and it had been the best thing that had ever happened to him. 

4. kate is beginning kindergarten this year. this is a fact i know, without really knowing it. i think i may cry when we drop her off (and then, in all honesty, i may cheer when we get home because my house is so quiet because three of my children are gone). sarah and i are going to live it up this semester, while it's just the two of us. 

5. sarah has decided that her uncles and her grandfather are worse than her dad, which means she's finally letting ryan do a few things for her. while her normal response to any sort of aid or support ryan may offer is, "MOMMY DO IT!" lately, with an eager grandpa or uncle hovering near by she resigns herself to ryan and allows him to escort her to the bathroom, or unbuckle her from the car, or rub her legs when they hurt, or put her to bed, or hand her the blankees, or hold her...improvement? who can say.

6. this cake is supposed to be amazing. i'm thinking of making it for our back to school party. i'll let you know. like a man, a good cake is hard to find. it's so simple that i definitely have my doubts. however, i heard that a christmas version with a little crushed peppermint is pretty magical.

7. yesterday we went to the beach for six hours. we could seriously stay there all day, except that we needed to get home so that the primary presidency could come talk to seth about being baptized (!!!!). a conversation where he seemed to have trouble sitting up and kept flopping over. seriously? this kid. i fear for his future. he is so...distracted. is this something that i need to focus on? or do i just let him grow out of it? will that even happen? or am i going to wait and wait and wait and then find out that after i dropped him off at college he just sort of wandered the campus and missed all his classes and he hasn't eaten in weeks because he hasn't considered the fact that the cafeteria might be where you'd get some food. 

oh dear. he's going to live with me forever, right?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

party time

oh my gosh, guys, remember when our plumbing called it quits and i just stood there while our toilet water made a grayish looking swamp in the hallway to the family room?

well, it's getting fixed. hooray!

and i have moved in to my parents' house while it gets fixed. probably because those fixing guys looked at my four children and my three dogs and my pregnant belly and they were like, ma'am, you need to leave. and i watched sarah inspect the carpet with the inspection man by first knocking over his toolbox (gave him a heart attack) and then sticking her head into a pile of moldy and contaminated carpet and inhaling deeply. inspection man is like, ma'am...and then he gestures to sarah and then he looks helpless.

we'll leave, i told him.

so, in we moved. a mom, a dad, four kids, three dogs, two blue ikea bags full of clothes, a couple bags of camera equipment, my computer, some toys, a couple dog beds, a crate, and a mountain of blankets, pillows, swim suits, and towels. because we come to your house we come to party.

it  took a little adjusting, for example, i don't think carlisle and rebecca are used to waking up at 6:30 in the morning to a little curly-headed child shouting, "GOODMORNINGIWANTWAFFLESRIGHTNOW...PLEASE." but carlisle quickly adjusted because this house has had up to seven children seventeen and younger under one roof and a bunch of those children were taking piano lessons and so part of the commotion was listening to them practice the same piece of music over and over and over and over again. i remember james and david and casey the labrador dog racing down the slick, narrow hall and not bothering to turn properly when they got to the sharp turn that led to the family room. instead they all just let the full weight of their bodies (this includes the dog, by the way) crash right into my bedroom door. at very early hours of the morning.

i so loved it.

and rebecca quickly adjusted, too, or at least is a really good sport because she has smiled almost this entire time (well, probably not when a dog peed on her new rug) and kept hugging children and saying nice things. good for her.

we thought this was only for 3-4 days, but it turns out there was asbestos in the walls, and that takes about 3 days to remove (and involves a hazmat tent, which we definitely marveled at). also, the wood was wet in the walls and so they're taking a few days more to dry it out. also, when the guys set up the fans to dry the wood they blew a fuse and now our garage doesn't work and only one fan is working.

construction seems a lot like herding cats. those must be very patient people who work those jobs.

so we're here indefinitely and the party's just going to keep going! lots of stories and lots of trips to the grocery store, and lots and lots of talk about pokemon. spending the time with my brothers is pretty awesome. we were going to have a family staycation this week anyway, so this is perfect.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

7 quick takes

summertime naps on my bed. sarah's life is not a bad one.

1. children sit at the dining room table to do projects and yell at me the whole time. "mom! how do you spell 'building'? mom! how do you spell 'cantaloupe'?" so now when sarah sits at the table and does a project she spends the entire time yelling, "mom! how do you spell '22'? mom! how do spell (unintelligible baby jobbers here)? mom! how do you spell 'E'???"

so i yell back whatever the heck i want. and it makes no sense, but she turns right around and starts "writing" feverishly, so it must be working.

2. you know what makes a bad day good? house of the rising sun by the animals. why did we stop using the organ in our rock n roll? WHY???

(also friends who bring cookies from diddy reese make a bad day good)

3. seth cried himself to sleep last night.

4. you guys. there is an actual cookbook about making popsicles. that's right, popsicles. as in, pour juice in to the mold and then put that mold in the freezer until it's frozen and then enjoy your popsicle. that's ridiculous.

5. meghan trainer wrote a song and at first i thought, 'this is a little obnoxious, but it's nice to hear a song where a woman is singing about how she doesn't need anyone but herself and she's proud and happy of who she is and what she looks like," but then she sang the chorus which is, "if i was you, i'd want to be me, too..." and i turned it off. pardon my french, but what the hell, meaghan trainer? is this female empowerment? to be better than all the other females? LETS JUST GET RID OF CELEBRITIES AND AND ENTERTAINERS AND START OVER AGAIN. where are our real women? and i'm not talking about the ones with the blogs where they pretend they make everything from scratch and by hand and their houses are always perfect and they always love their children and their husbands are always the best and they are always working out... where are our mama case'? our joni mitchells? our aretha franklins???

6. ryan went to a super nice steak house last night to say "happy retirement!" to his dad. he brought me leftovers. i ate cold pizza after everyone went to bed (which was rough, if you'd like to refer back to number 3). sometimes being a stay at home mom is the pits.

7. however, this summer i have done things like swim in a pool, help sarah take a nap by napping beside her, spent ALL DAY at the beach, bought slurpees just because and played pokemon go for hours. sometimes being a man with a traditional career that keeps you in an office all day no matter what the weather outside is, or no matter how long it's been since you had a break or played with your kids or saw your wife is the pits. 
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