Thursday, August 27, 2015

here are some tips, internet:

screenshot from one of my favorite social media formats and one of my favorite posters

there's a lot of people out there who know how to rock the snot out of their social media. i am not one of those people. but i can tell you what i've been stewing over in regards to social media lately.

can i just say one thing really quick? social media hasn't been around that long. we've only been oversharing for a few years now, so the consequences and the parameters are still a little unknown. i've been struggling with how i feel about social media. sometimes it makes me want to throw my phone across the room and other times i feel so supported i just want to cry.

not that long ago women spoke to each other over their back fences. now we speak to each other over the internet. if all a woman can do is talk about how fun or easy things are, or sweet her children are, if all she can do is show you the food she's made, or the crafts she's completed, or how cute she looks in her work out clothes, then i have no time for that woman. i go to my back fence because i want to know that i am not alone. that this is weird. or hard. or ridiculous. and sometimes fun, easy, and cute. i want to know that you, too, are considering your place in life, or your role as mother. i have no use for someone who has already figured it all out and can't wait to show me how she has no problems.

so here are a few general rules about social media that i've put together (with the help of the women over my back fence, of course):

tip #1: know your audience. this is actually a writing rule. if you want to appeal to a bunch of teenage girls, you should definitely write about a vampire who is obsessed with a teenage girl who likes to whine a lot. and if your audience is your children's grandmother, then you should definitely write about how angelic your children are (because extra tip-within-a-tip: no one else loves your children or grandchildren like you do). otherwise, don't brag, not even humbly. please, just don't.

tip #2: think of the internet as a person you just met. don't share too much. we don't want to know about your bodily functions, or you husband's bodily functions. or your children's bodily functions. or even, just bodily functions. please, no. even if we're best friends, no.

tip #3: no live updates on sporting events. no condescending political posts. because do you know what i think when i see these? well, i'll give you a clue. it's not "so-and-so is so smart!" it's heartbreak. because so-and-so is speaking about me, or the people i love and so-and-so is not being kind.

tip #4: if every post is "i married the best human ever" or "my child is the best student/athlete/sibling/friend/child/etc. ever" then when your spouse/kid actually does something significant we've already tuned you out and don't believe you. because no one is that awesome all the time. ever. feeling extra blessed? awesome. but it only works if you haven't been feeling extra blessed every other day.

tip #5: don't post five (or more) photos from the same event in the same day. yes, you're on vacation. yes, you saw a really cool thing. no, we don't actually care that much. oh, you're doing this as a scrapbook? a couple options: make a private account for your scrapbook or don't be offended if we stop following you. again: if this is for the benefit of grandmas, then send them directly to the grandmas. we're all here, too. please, know your audience.

but here are some tips for everyone else:

tip #1: don't take everything literally. if i post a photo of a delightful cup of tea and a homemade morning muffin don't assume i did this because all of my crap is in order everywhere around me and i just can't think of a single thing to do except bake muffins and cups of tea. in reality, i'm procrastinating so badly i just shoved all the mess aside because everyone knows a clutter-free photo is prettier than a photo from an episode of hoarders. plus, i want you to come over next time i invite you. and if you see what things really look like around here, you won't want to.

tip #2: if i post a photo of me drinking a delightful cup of tea or a homemade morning muffin don't be sad that you are at work and not drinking tea and eating a muffin, too. it is impossible for us all to do the same things at the same time. and tomorrow you may have tea and i may have so many deadlines i cry the whole day. don't worry about it.

tip #3: no one really says what they feel on social media. it's when your best blinders are on. so if i say, "he always helps me and does what i ask" of my little 7-year-old don't sit there and look at your work-avoiding and back-talking 7-year-old with distress. my 7-year-old is the same way. because he's seven. he can't help it. but also, sometimes he does help me and do what i ask. so does yours. he's 7-years-old. he can't help it.

tip #4: there is nothing wrong with capturing the good stuff in my life and celebrating it. if i cleaned out seth's room (finally) because now he's at school and can't stop me from carting out armfuls of branches and leaves and rocks and sticks, then i should. and if my favorite spot in his bedroom is the dark blue dresser i painted, with the metal desk lamp, the han solo print, the antler, and the 'i am a child of god' print, then i should post it. as long as i'm not boasting my ears off, pretending that this is how his room looks all the time, over-praising my own hard work, then i should be able to post the happy moments. and you should, too. in fact, please do. no one likes a negative nelly. but no one likes a boastful betty, either. or an exaggerating ellen. or a gushing gertie. or a hash tagging henrietta.

is the conclusion of these tips to encourage us to be a little more reasonable with the content we stick on our social media? i don't know. i just had to get this all out so i didn't carry it inside anymore. is it all clean homes and sweet children and doting husbands? absolutely not, not anywhere...and that's okay. life isn't about all that. it's about everything being in the same jar...and dealing with it.

so maybe all of my social media content should be more of the craziness that i coexist with daily (this morning i said, "i've got to get control on this house" and ryan said, "yeah, it looks like you're commemorating the ten year hurricane katrina anniversary by recreating it." he was mostly right. i was going for the northridge earthquake look. and also i've been searching for important things to do all morning that will keep me from cleaning this place up. ugh.).

writing this all out has helped me realize it. more honesty! more reality! and more understanding! and less comparing! and if i just can't take it, i'm going to unfollow it and we should all just not be offended by that, right? maybe?

tell me your thoughts. i'm still figuring mine out. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

at the beginning of a school year

school started today.

that means summer is over.

it's definitely going to be nice not having to trip over people or physically remove them when i want to do things. you know how everyone jokes about cats stretching out across your newspaper when you're reading it? that's my kids. they're cats. i felt like i was constantly being followed and when i looked over my shoulder to see how many were following and how close they were, i tripped over the child that was standing right in front of me. internet, i digress.

last night we had a little devotional with this quote:

(poster provided by andrea christensen, who so sweetly sent me a copy of her beautiful painting for me to display in my home after i shared with her that this was our yearly theme)

we talked about what we liked about this quote, about summer, about what we were looking forward to this year, ryan gave the kids blessings, i took our back to school photos (better than jamming it all in while we were running out the door) and we went to bed. easy.

which is good, because the next morning the monkey bread didn't bake long enough and i nearly ran out of gas on the way to school, so that was a little stressful. thank goodness we rolled in on fumes after the kids were safely in their classrooms. ava was fine, she walked right in and waved at her friends, but seth looked small and lost, and worried. poor seth. he'll get there.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

to seth, on his seventh birthday

dear seth,

well, i began your sister's this way, might as well go with the format: seven years ago my doctor wanted to go on vacation, so she induced me and i found myself in labor before my body was ready. this made things a little long, a little complicated, and a little painful. it was really hard. and finally i agreed to get an epidural. once i did, two things happened: i immediately lost control of my legs, which was crazy, and they just sort of flopped wherever i literally placed them with my hands, and i finally had a moment of peace. i took in that moment of peace, and thought about you being born: my second baby, my first son. 

it is strange to have a second child because even though i'd been a mom for two years already there were a lot of things i didn't know yet. like, how to love completely all over again. or how to have a baby boy. or that i was going to love you so much, even though it seemed like i was so consumed by love already. 

i am so, so lucky to love so much and so many and so completely. you began all that, did you know that?

finally, i began to feel "pressure" which is what i was told you being born would feel like, so i tentatively told the nurse. she checked and then she screamed, "GET THE DOCTOR!!!" and then i pushed a little bit and then there you were, purple, and covered in cheesy vernix, and probably really ugly but seth, you were so, so beautiful. and i loved you and i gathered you into my arms and i rubbed your vernix and i rocked you and i nursed you and i loved you. 

the best thing about a second or third or fourth baby is that you don't have a moment of fear or hesitation, you only embrace. because you already know you can mom. 

so i mommed the snot out of you until they took you away because they were concerned about how you were breathing. turns out, seth, you had a tiny tear in your tiny lungs, and some liquid, too, and you needed to stay in the nicu for a few days. and i remember it was about four in the morning when someone from the nice woke me up to tell me all of this and i was confused and exhausted and scared (dad wasn't there, he went home to be with ava) and i prayed. i sort of handed you over to god. i thought about how small you were, about how i couldn't walk on my own yet because of the epidural, so i couldn't go to you, i told god we were a team and that he was going to have to help me mother you. and i felt an answer. nothing amazing, no overwhelming emotion, or the spirit, or anything like that, but just a lot of good. like god already knew we were a team, and that he was already with you in that nicu, and that you were going to be okay. 

you left that nicu four days later. they wheeled us out, even though i'd been walking in and out to visit you for several days already, and i'd actually driven there all by myself. there's a picture of me somewhere, in my wheelchair, holding you in my lap. (found it)

we moved six weeks later. 

seth, you are the brother in this house. sure you do all sorts of weird boy stuff like make lots of noises with your mouth, or tease ava by breathing in her face, or step on kate's blanket as she walks by so it slips from her arms and she screams, but you also bring a peace to this house, a love, a thoughtfulness. there is something to you, a lovely, inquisitive, careful, goofy, gentleness that improves us. and you really, really do.

things about you:

you love legos.

you love screen time. 

you love projects, and think creatively. you can sit at the dining room table with markers and pencils and scissors and tape for hours at a time. the house is full-- FULL of your work. it's pinned up everywhere, it's filed away, it's tucked in between the pages of books that we are reading. we love your work, seth. we love your eye and your mind. 

you have green eyes-- the ONLY herm to not have blue eyes. i really, really love your green eyes. 

you say you want to be a US army man. we'll see. 

you always ask questions. 

you always share facts. 

you love your family. you treasure us. we are your best friends and you are our best boy. 

birthday dinner wish: ribs, potatoes, corn on the cob, and watermelon with chocolate cake for dessert. 

love you, sethy.



Wednesday, August 19, 2015


The satiation: a vacation when you stay at home. we stayed incredibly busy, keeping sarah from her precious naps, which may explain the sudden need she developed for me-- and definitely not ryan. 

here's what we did:

the reagan library. not for kids. it's taken me two trips to figure this out. no one wants to sit around and read the exhibits, or be inspired by reagan's greatness (and can i just say, i'm not much of a republican anymore, really, only a sliver of me is, but i love reagan. and if we could have a reagan again, i'd be all over that republican party. maybe.), so mostly i carried sarah around and tried not to hit artifacts with the stroller while ryan walked around with about two children hanging off of him. my saving grace was another family with three girls similar ages, a stroller, and grandparents. we stayed close to them. highlights: air force one. and the exit. (number of rules broken? probably all of them.)

 other favorite activity: selecting china patterns. 

we had ava's birthday party tuesday night, we went swimming and had dinner (her choice: artichokes with hollandaise sauce and shrimp scampi plus this cake, with a whipped cream frosting instead of buttercream. it was so good, very, very rich. next time i'm cutting down the sugar, but ryan said one of the best cakes i've ever made.)

we went to the park, where ryan and seth climbed some massive rocks and i pushed sarah on the swing and took about a million photos of her.

we went to the beach with grandma rebecca, which was perfect. the water has been so beautiful lately. and, for the first time in about fifteen years, i got in the water. you heard me! and i loved it.

afterwards we stopped at malibu seafood for dinner (better than neptune's net, in our minds), then continued along the pch for third street santa monica in the hopes of watching a few street performers. there were only a few, including the black guy who's been doing the same routine since i was a teenager. some things never change, i guess.

also attended: the county fair. this involved LOTS of time with lots of livestock, including a momma pig and her babies, which were awfully cute, and a cow named Rocket, that LOVED ava. she pet him for quite some time, and when we left he stuck his head through the gate and called for her to come back...which she did, happily so. it was only on our way to the barrel races that she understood what the auction was all about. she was heartbroken...but the barrel races pushed it out of her mind. the ferris wheel, swings, roller coaster, and merry-go-round did, too. followed all of that with some cotton candy while watching people bungee jump (awful) and some more animals...which reminded her that rocket was doomed. then she cried all the way to the habit where she ordered a CHICKEN sandwich.

poor ava.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

to the mouse, on her ninth birthday

dear ava,

want to hear a really fun story? once upon  time, nine years ago, daddy and i finished watching a really stupid movie. i don't know what it was called, i don't really remember what it was about, but i do know that at one point a meathead said something about "ath-a-letes" and then another character remarked dryly, "that's funny, i didn't know there was an extra syllable in that word". now, whenever your daddy and i want to say "athlete" we say "ath-a-lete" and then we laugh. because we're hilarious, duh. 
anyway, we watched that stupid movie and then we went to bed, about 11. an hour and a bit later i sprang from the bed and ran to the bathroom. because my water had broke. because you were finally coming! and i took a shower, because labor is supposed to last a long time when you're a first timer like i was, and i packed some food, because we didn't know what the hospital food was like, and i packed "an american tragedy" for some light reading between contractions (hahahaha!!! i was so naive) and a crochet project that was only a third of the way done...because i guess i thought i was going on vacation instead of into labor. 

we got to the hospital about 1:30...and (long story short) had you at 4:10. when the midwife handed you to me, sloppily wrapped in one of those thin hospital blankets, i was shocked. i wouldn't have been more surprised if they'd handed me a bowling ball. 
i asked, "is it a girl?"

and someone said, "see for yourself!"

can you believe you used to be this?

so, ava, happy birthday. holy cow. nine years old. nearly a decade. nearly double digits. how did we get here?

things about you:

you spent the entire summer gobbling up audiobooks. this means you spent a lot of summer flopped on the couch or on the floor with my iPhone ear buds, silent, deadly if you tripped someone. 

you are sweet. you help me. sarah loves you. you take care of her. you also match the socks, which is terrific because i hate that job. you are always willing. you are kind. 

you still love horses. 

you still play with dolls, which i love. 

you love piano. 

you have a great sense of humor. when kate was sick, and we were at the doctors, i told kate i'd give her a milkshake to try and get her excited about eating something. you said, "can i have a milkshake?"

i said, sarcastically "no. you have to watch kate eat her milkshake and cheer."

and then you pretended to cheer in such a funny way that i laughed and laughed and laughed. 

sometimes it feels like you're a bit more of my partner in crime than my tiny daughter who needs a thousand things, and that is pretty cool. 

you love school, you love reading, math, history and science, which i hope never goes away. i hope you always love to learn. i hope you're always curious.

birthday dinner wish: shrimp scampi, artichokes with hollandaise sauce and white cake with strawberry filling. 

dear ava, i love you so. you are such a fantastic first child, and i really am so excited about who you're growing up to be. 

i love you, little mouse. 



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