A Mother’s Bucket List

As I wind down the month of January and come to terms with how half-assed I committed to my “resolutions” for the year already, I’ve been thinking about setting more realistic goals for myself in the future.

You know, setting the bar a little lower.

Like, perhaps instead of resolving to lose enough pounds to wear tight yoga pants with pride, I opt for stopping myself at just half a sleeve of Girl Scout cookies in one sitting.

Because I can totally commit to that.

All of this got my little brain’s wheels in motion, and then I had, to sound like Oprah for a second, an “a-ha!” moment.

You know those Bucket Lists that people make? Where you put pen to paper and list all of the things you want to do or see before you kick the bucket?

What if, instead of some unobtainable, crazy list – or even a moderately achievable list – I made a bucket list of reasonable things I want to experience as a mother before I die?

So, I did it. I sat down and quickly jotted off my realistic bucket list. Sure, it’s simple. But also something I can see myself actually achieving. And I DO like crossing things off lists.

Now, before I reveal my list, let me make something perfectly clear. This list is about ME. It is not a “Things I’d love to teach/show/experience with my children.” That’s another list entirely, and one that makes my chest tighten with anxiety at the mere thought of not having enough time with them.

This list? It’s entirely fluffy, entirely mine, and I’m entirely okay with that.

Without further ado, here are just some of the things I’d put on my realistic bucket list, in no particular order:

Mother's Bucket List

1) Spend 24 hours in my house alone. Without cleaning a freaking thing.

2) Walk in the living room at the end of the night and not find one article of clothing on the floor.

3) Scroll through my DVR and not be able to identify every episode of Phineas & Ferb.

4) Get to school in enough time that we don’t count the sprint from the car as our exercise for the day.

5) Wake up on a Sunday and panic that I’d slept too late.

6) Permanently erase the theme song to Thomas the Tank Engine from my memory.

7) Adjust my internal clock to be able to make it past 6pm to eat dinner.

8) Downgrade my purse from giant cavern-sized to demure.

9) Shave a good two minutes off the time it takes for me to decide what I’m making for dinner.

10) Find that missing Magic Tree House book the library keeps threatening me about.

11) Drink an entire cup of coffee while it is still hot.

12) Go an entire week wearing actual clothes, and not the ancient work-out gear that makes me look like a hobo.

13) Hit the jackpot with the laundry and for once, match up Every. Single. Sock.

14) Receive an evite to volunteer at my kids’ school and Just Say No.

15) Find a way to keep my kids wanting to hug and kiss me for at least another 15 years.

And that’s just the surface, folks. What would you put on your realistic bucket list?

 

 

First Day On The Job Jitters

It’s happening.

Tomorrow I start a new job. I’ll be a part-time visiting professor at a local college, teaching dance classes. It’s an amazing opportunity, one I’m so very grateful for – the campus is gorgeous, the kids are bright, I get to MOVE regularly and hopefully motivate and inspire the future dancers of tomorrow.

I should be super excited to start this new job tomorrow. And in many ways I AM. Beyond excited.

But I’m also terrified.

First Day On The Job Jitters

I feel this way pretty much every time I start a new job somewhere, and you’d think that as I get older, it would get easier. But it doesn’t.

Even after I’ve passed the interview process, turned in all of my forms to Human Resources, and lined up my start date, I still can’t get over the same insecurities I experience every single time I’m about to walk in to the door the first day on the job.

Thoughts like “in a few short minutes after I start, everyone here will find out I’m a fraud.” That somehow, despite being vetted by supervisors and managers, I’m not qualified to do the job I was hired to do and will let everyone down. That I’ve pulled the wool over their eyes (and mine) and convinced everyone I had the knowledge and experience to pull all of this off.

Do I really think this is true? No. I mean, I must be qualified if they hired me. And it’s not like I walked off the street with zero experience. But years of being at home with the kids and using my brain for things like keeping track of baseball practice and whether my kids have had a bowel movement have made me feel extremely rusty in my area of expertise.

Then there is the “I don’t speak the language” worry. Do you know that feeling? When you step in to an environment that has its own vernacular and buzz words that, when heard, make you wonder if you’ve walked in to a foreign country? I know that somewhere, deep inside, I understand the jargon and within days I will find myself interjecting those fancy schmancy words into ordinary conversation. But in the meantime, all of this makes me feel even more like a poser.

And then there’s all the logistical stuff that keeps me up at night before I start a new job. Crap like “do I know where I’m going?” and “man, I hope this map app is right in calculating how long it will take to get there” and “will my outfit strike the right mood of cool and open and authoritative.”

So, to minimize all the jitters, I spent the better part of the past week planning my class for tomorrow and the next few weeks. I would even venture to say I’ve over-planned, which sometimes isn’t a good thing. I can’t help it. I mean, it takes me two whole days to pack for a trip – packing once, reassessing, then packing again.

So now, as I sit here on the eve of my new job, the most important preparation I have to do is mental. I need to trust in the material, and spend some quality time telling my ego to shut the hell up. I need to tell that little slimy bastard to stop feeding me lies about how I don’t know anything and don’t deserve this opportunity. Hey ego, take a freakin’ sabbatical would you?

Will my first day be perfect? Who knows. Maybe, maybe not. I can probably expect some bumps, some awkward moments, and that things might not go as perfect as I’d like, but I also hope to experience some moments of mastery as well. I figure, as long as I show up with pants on, things can’t be all that bad, right?

Do you have any first day advice for me? How do you handle going in to your first day on the job?

Irresistible Food (or, “Why I Can’t Fit In To My Pants”)

This year I actually made good on my New Year’s resolution to make better food choices.  Well, for a few days, anyway.  My zest for fruits and veggies and lean meats and willpower to refuse satisfyingly sodium-saturated carbohydrates got buried under the first snow day of the season.

It’s time to shovel them back up.  Maybe pour some salt on them a bit to help speed up the process.

Mmmm….salt.

See, that’s exactly how easy it is for me to fall back in to unhealthy eating habits.

So, after gaining all the weight I lost last year (and then some), I’m trying to get back on the Healthy Eating Train.  But even if I possessed all the self-discipline on the planet, there are certain foods that I have no willpower against.

I know I’m not alone.  Everyone has their guilty pleasures, right?  The foods they simply cannot refuse. No? Please, PLEASE tell me I’m not the only one without any discipline in the food arena.

Irresistible Food

Here are the foods that I can’t resist eating. And before you start to drool over the idea of bacon on this list, let me just say that, while I know the Bacon Movement is strong and powerful, I am not a member of this club.  Go ahead, pork shame me all you want.

 

Anything With Nutella In It

When I was pregnant with my second baby, my husband and I got away together for our anniversary weekend to a hotel downtown and went somewhere fancy schmancy for dinner. Only, the slightly soft chicken I ordered sent my gag reflexes in to overdrive and made me want to ditch the entire evening.  But then, there was Nutella cake on the menu and all was right with the world.

It’s breakfast! It’s dessert! It’s a snack!

 

Movie Popcorn

On a rare date night, my husband and I will chow down on a delicious three course meal, chased by several beers.  Stuffed to the brim, I will waddle in to the movie convinced that I don’t need any more food in my system.

But then the smell of fresh popped corn wafts through the air and I suddenly think, “yeah, I have some more room in that gut!”

I KNOW all the numbers.  That the fluffy stuff that I imagine is made of air is in fact saturated with unhealthy oil and regret.  And yet, knowing all of that, I will covertly unbutton the top of my jeans and order a medium popcorn, telling myself I’ll only eat half of the bag.  Yeah, right.

 

Pizza

You know how “they” say that adults shouldn’t eat anything at a kids party? Guilty, as charged. Pizza is the staple of the kids birthday party menu, and if there are extra slices left once everyone’s been served, you can bet I’m the first one lined up to grab a slice.

I mean, come on! Sweet, tangy sauce mixed with delicious cheese and bread is a magical recipe that plays well with dinner parties, late night binges, and hangovers. When I lived in New York, I sustained myself on bagels and pizza, two things I could get quickly and cheaply at any time, day or night.

 

Tortilla chips

I’m not sure I should brag about this, but I have been known to pack away an entire bag of tortilla chips on my own in one sitting.  All 5’1” of me.  I don’t know if it’s the crunch, the salt, or the corny goodness, but I can’t pass up a tortilla chip.

One March Madness party I attended a few years ago offered a giant bowl of chips and salsa for all the moms, dads and kids to enjoy.  I plopped myself down on the sofa in front of the bowl and grabbed a chip.  But then I noticed it was wet and soggy.  Thinking it was from the salsa, I grabbed another chip in a different location, but it was still moist.

And then, I noticed one of the kids picking up a tortilla chip, licking all the salt off of it, and then putting it back in the bowl.

It was a moment of extreme internal turmoil.  Believe it or not, I actually had to pause and ponder whether I should navigate the chip bowl or walk away.  My love for the tortilla chip is that strong, people.  Disgustingly, wrongfully powerful.

 

Hush Puppies

Perhaps it’s the southern girl in me.  I’m just a girl who can’t say “No” to fried corn dough.  The crispier the better.

Corn. I’m sensing a trend, no?

 

Okay, actually, anything deep fried

Fried pickles?  Yes.  Fried Snickers bar?  Sure, I’ll give it a try.  I have even had beignets as an appetizer for brunch, and still managed to polish off a large buttermilk biscuit, omelet and hash browns.  I really should get a Cardiologist on speed dial.

 

So, I’ve fessed up. Now it’s YOUR turn. Is there a food that you cannot, under any ounce of willpower, refuse? I’m all ears. (And not the corn kind, though, that could be a good possibility).

 

A New Year, a New Look

I’ve been a solid contact lens wearer for well over a decade. Prior to that, I just squinted my way through the world. But my then-boyfriend/now-husband suggested I get my eyes checked and consider contact lenses.

Once I got the hang of putting them in, I was hooked on being able to finally see, but without the nuisance of a frame around my head at all times.

However, something’s changed in the last six months.

One morning a few months ago, I woke up to find my left eye full of goop. And I would wake in the middle of the night and be unable to open my left it due to dryness. Of course, I started freaking out and made an immediate appointment with my optometrist to eliminate pink eye.

‘Cuz ain’t nobody got time for that.

My doctor identified dryness and allergies as the culprit and suggested, along with switching to daily contact lenses, I try drops. All the drops. Allergy drops twice a day, and saline drops when necessary. Which seemed to be all the time.

After running the gamut of daily lenses, we came to the end of the road with my astigmatism, still with an enormous amount of deposit on my lens, even after just a couple of hours of wear.

So, I’ve decided to wear glasses more, only resorting to contacts when being active or social occasions.

And I hate it. My frames are okay, but I’ve had them for about six years, and I’m not sure they’re the most fashionable or trendy.

So I’m on the hunt for a new look. I don’t want to look too nerdy, but I don’t want a frame that’s going to overtake my wee little face.

My husband had some good experience with Warby Parker’s at-home trial box, so I decided to give it a go. I mean, what’s not to like? You just sign up, choose five frames, and within days, they’re at your home where you can try them on to your heart’s content.

Completely free.

I’ve asked my husband and kids so many times to give me their opinions that they’re done. So, dear readers, I’m turning to you.

Wanna help me choose a frame?

Here are the frames I currently wear:

current glasses

And here are my Warby Parker choices this round (and let’s all ignore my ratty hair and weird smile, shall we? Selfies are weird for folks like me):

The Sims

Warby Parker Sims

The Oliver

Warby Parker Oliver

The Verne

Warby Parker Verne

The Nedwin

Warby Parker Nedwin

The Coley

Warby Parker Coley

So…what do you think? Stick with what I have? Go with a Warby Parker frame? And if so, which one?

I’d LOVE to hear your opinions!! Feel free to leave your frame choice in the comment section below. I can’t wait to hear what you think!

This is not a sponsored post. Seriously. I, in no way, have been compensated by Warby Parker. I just really can’t make a decision on my own.

 

Hard to Make a Blanket Statement About Attachments

This year, my daughter valiantly gave up her lovey – a beat-up old sleep sack that she’s used to help comfort her while she sucked her thumb for five+ years. (Yeah, remember Mr. Mom? Sleep sack was like Kenny’s Woobie.

While I still occasionally catch her with her thumb in her mouth in the middle of the night, I’m so impressed and amazed that she willingly made the choice to stop and become a Big Girl. I’m glad she’s rid of the attachment and am keeping my fingers crossed we have helped cheapen our future orthodontic bills. But there’s a huge part of me that is sad she’s given all of that up. So easily. 

Today I’m honored to feature a guest post by Eli Pacheco, a talented writer that I’m a HUGE fan of, who hits this whole attachment nail on the head.

It’s the last post of the year, folks! To all of you who have stuck by me this past year, thank you. May you not give up on me as easily as my daughter did her sleep sack.

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photo credit:Kalexanderson via photopin cc

My mom once babysat a kid. We’ll call her … Fifi.

Fifi had a blankie. It was a white, silky-bordered blankie. Fifi sucked on the silky edges. Fifi’s mom cut it into mini-blankies, but Fifi used only the ones with silky edge to suck. They were always slobbery.

Fifi’s family – we’ll call them, the Krikensmirtzes – couldn’t venture anywhere without a blankie.

Before my voice even changed, I’d made up my mind about one part of parenthood, at least.

Jesus, please don’t let my kids grow attached to a blankie. Or anything close to it.

Especially a suck blankie.

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Fast forward 25 years. I’m now a father of three girls. Few parts about fatherhood suck. And not a one involves the silky fringe of a stinky blanket. In fact, none of my girls – now 17, 14 and 10 – have ever had a blankie, or anything close to it. No must-have teddy at bedtime.

Not even a favorite shirt, or favorite toy.

I could have handled it if they did. I’d understand. I’d show compassion. But I would never turn the car around for JuJu the pink tiger or ShooShoo the blanket or anything, right? It would be the first of a lifetime of lessons in How to Maintain Like a Human Being.

I also felt it would be a stage if it happened.

My kid would someday leave behind that toy or blanket or comfort item. She’d vanquish it like diaper dependence or pacifier addiction. (Hell, they didn’t even use a dooboo, or yaboo, or whatever people call that favorite rubber pie-hole plugger. Or even suck a thumb.)

It’s as if these girls took their first steps, and never looked back.

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photo credit: 佶子熊 via photopin cc

Isn’t there something sentimental about an attachment?

About a kid who so loves the home you’ve helped to create for her that she must keep something from it with her always?

If a kid doesn’t cry and cling to you as you drop her off to the first day of kindergarten, have you been doing it wrong?

There were plenty of tears on Elise’s first day of kindergarten. They were my own.

Who needs a comfort item as a kid ventures into school and big-kid life? Me. I kept, for a short while, a velvet-soft stuffed bunny she played with.

It wasn’t even a comfort toy to her. But it became that for me: The dad who wouldn’t move.

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Fast forward 10 years. Elise is a junior in high school. Marie will be a freshman next year. Grace will be in fifth grade in the fall. I long ago passed on that velvet-soft stuffed bunny.

I appreciate grace and strength and beauty in my girls. Miniscule adventures gave way to colossal ones, to milestones and moments. The idea of attachments faded out with last school year’s pictures. I see better now, too. I notice when my girls wear my shirts and hats.

Is that attachment, or just comfort? Either way, I’m OK with that.

Marie embellished a drab white clothes cabinet with her artwork. It’s decorated with drawings and words of inspiration, a blend of beauty and whimsy. It’s her personality, in bright Sharpie ink.

Open a door to this cabinet and find birthday cards from years and years. There are soccer photos, notes from friends, and other artifacts of a girl who grew up with love. In the upper right-hand corner, there’s a quarter-sized metal turtle with glossy colored shell taped to the door. A trinket I haven’t seen in years.

“You still have this?” I asked, rubbing a finger over the smooth shell to prove it’s there.

“Well, duh,” Marie says in predictable teen dialog. But she smiles.

It remembered the day I fished it out of my pocket, and put it in Marie’s little first-grade hand as she wiped tears. She’d just cried into my shirt on my belly. She didn’t want me to leave after my tour as lunch dad. “I’ll be back to pick you up soon, honey,” I said. I thought the turtle wouldn’t last the day.

Before I even had made it out of her room that day, I’d made up my mind about one more part of parenthood, at least.

Jesus, please don’t let my kids ever lose that often silent but always sustaining attachment.

To me.

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When he isn’t trying to fit into size 32 jeans or hosting awesome guest posters, Eli Pacheco is dad to three awesome girls and writes the blog Coach Daddy. Follow him on Google Plus, Pinterest and Twitter.