I love home design. But I know that my expensive taste doesn’t match my current life. So until my children are older (possibly moved out of the house) and I stop feeling the need to add new, poorly trained animals to our brood, I have to set limits and get my design fix through blogs like Design Milk and my new favorite Instagram account, @hunkerhome. If money were no object, my floors would be smattered with statement rugs from Thomas Paul. It’s just hard to rationalize investing in furniture or decor that will get peed, pooped and puked on. This is not a mere possibility, it’s an inevitability.
I have a rug rule: If it’s 5×7 or smaller, it has to be under $200. And all rugs must be under $300. We just said goodbye to our cowhide rug, which was layered over a natural jute rug. You would be surprised how well cowhide handles stains, but in the end it had more bald spots than an Olive Garden at 4pm. And the jute rug had seen its share of set-in stains, like the one from last summer when Dave decided to see what would happen if he squeezed a fully engorged tick he pulled from one of the dogs. He couldn’t have stepped three feet to the left and done this over the very wipeable hardwood floors (no furniture rearrangement could hide that one).
We already had a blue/brown thing going in our living room, and certainly didn’t need any more brown added to the mix. I love how the pattern almost welcomes messes, as it kind of looks like a loosely orchestrated Rorschachian spill itself. Dave and I have a bet on how long it will take for Thatcher to “christen” the rug. He only gave it a day, and I bet three. We are on day four with no accidents, so everybody loses and yet… winning!
In other home design news: Did you know that Canadians refer to all sofas as Chesterfields and not just these? Totally rethinking the Barenaked Ladies lyrics now. Mind. Blown.
OK, so one of those is Robert Downey, Jr. But the rest have to do with the endless challenge of not looking tired all of the time. Everyone’s response to my sallow complexion and chin acne is, “Oh, well you have kids.” And until my youngest turned two (yes it took until she was two), it was, “You just had a baby! Don’t be so hard on yourself.” While I appreciate the blind support, this is not something that just started when I became a mom. There was the time I came off the plane from a bachelorette party in my mid-twenties, and I was mistaken for a young woman (then prominently in the news) who had been held captive in a third-world country for several months. While I love the idea of self care, and can even rationalize buying cosmetics and skincare products, they always seem to add up so quickly. So I’ve made a wish list that I can reference when I’m ready to treat myself:
Though Weleda’s self-proclaimed “best beauty secret” has been around since 1926, I’m just finding out about it. (Hence the secret, I suppose.) But if I had a product that was an all-purpose, cure-all skin cream, which gave that dewy glow with the tap of my fingertips, I’d be shouting it from the rooftops. Customers rave about Skin Food for their hands, feet, cuticles, lips, and even to add shine to dry, curly hair (um, hello!). And I probably should have led with this, but Rihanna and Victoria Beckham don’t leave home without it.
I’ve decided that drag queens have the best makeup and skincare secrets. A former drag queen and makeup artist did my makeup for an event the other week. I told him the chin acne he was covering up had been plaguing my face since I was pregnant with my daughter four years ago. “Magic Pads, Magic Pads, Magic Pads,” he replied with confidence. “Say it three times, and you will remember it.” I did, and can’t wait to try them.
My face is SO dry and dull, it’s like the skin equivalent of watching C-SPAN. This moisturizer doubles as a day and night cream, plus it hydrates and reduces fine lines. For the win: Drunk Elephant “never takes into account an ingredient’s synthetic or natural status, but instead chooses based on its safety and bio-compatibility.” That speaks to me.
I was first drawn to The Ordinary through a post from The Cut about an easy, affordable skincare routine. Their product called The Buffet appealed to me the most because it’s the only one without a super sciency sounding name. Putting honesty and integrity above all else resonates with me, but if I’m being totally honest, I found the whole brand very confusing. However, after reading this The Ordinary Cheatsheet, I’m starting to wrap my head around what they’re all about, and I’m still on board. Now my sights are set on their sunscreen, which is supposedly due out anytime now. I LOVE a good, affordable daily sunscreen. Their site says “coming soon.” I will keep stalking them until it comes out. It has to be out before pool season, right?
In the movie About A Boy, Hugh Grant’s character explains how he divides up his days into units of time. Taking a bath: one unit. Exercising: three units. I also measure my day in increments, but rather than the arbitrary units of a bored, rich playboy, I view my minutes in a very specific, valuable commodity called sleep. Choosing sleep over anything else almost always results in a sacrifice of some kind, be it my appearance or basic hygiene. What used to be a fun party game (Would you rather eat shit that tastes like chocolate, or eat chocolate that tastes like shit?) has turned into my daily life. And I always lose. Maybe I love sleep more than the average person. Maybe I’m more ambivalent about showering than the average person. You tell me. How would you answer these questions?
My answer: This is a tough one. Five minutes more of sleep in the morning is gold, and if I’m drinking coffee on the way to the bus stop, it’s going to immediately counteract my fresh breath anyhow. There used to be nothing I hated more than morning teeth (that nasty filmy feeling) and my own morning breath… until my kids started crawling into bed with us at 2am, stealing the covers, waking up the dogs who then need to go out, and jumpstarting my anxiety at an ungodly hour. It honestly depends on the morning. Though if I’m going to do one thing (besides get dressed, which is not a given if I’m coming back home after taking the kids to school), this is it.
My answer: First, 15 minutes is a conservative estimate given how thick my hair is. It almost takes five full minutes just to get it all wet. And then if I dare to shave my legs (it will have been at least a couple of weeks since the last time), add another five minutes. Not to mention all of the product I have to lacquer myself with from head to toe when I get out. So let’s call this 30 extra minutes of sleep, and let’s say that when I do shower (which is not often enough) it’s usually in the evening after my husband gets home.
My answer: I hardly ever wear makeup even when I do have the time to put it on, although I love the idea of any product that will make me appear well-rested and all dewy and glowy. And I do love my Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm. I really do need a morning skin care routine, but right now I usually end up hitting the snooze button a second time, rush to make the kids’ lunches, curse myself for not making their lunches the night before, and maybe slap on some moisturizer with SPF (I’m not a savage) before running out of the house with my stank morning breath.
My answer: Ok, this one has nothing to do with sleep, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot and still don’t know which one is worse.
After you’ve decided to take the plunge down the Disney rabbit hole, the next big decision is where to stay when you get there. On or off the property? A room at a value resort or deluxe suite inside one of the parks?
How much should you spend?
Now, I LOVE love hotels. In fact when we go on vacation I sometimes wish our destinations were secretly more boring so I had a better excuse to sit in my hotel room all day wrapped in my white hotel robe on the white bed (white does not exist at my house even where it should) and watch hours of HGTV in between my mid-morning and mid-afternoon naps. HOWEVER, when planning our Disney trip, I made an exception to my hotel snobbery for a few reasons, and they are ones I suggest all parents who fall on the Mickey Meh side of the spectrum should consider:
If you are sharing a room with small children, it doesn’t matter if it costs $120 per night or $500 per night. It’s going to be a shitty night’s sleep.
You’re going to be so busy and exhausted from your days at the park that even if you are able to get everyone asleep and stay asleep without major meltdowns and musical beds (see number 1), will you have time to enjoy the amenities at one of the nicer resorts?
If you have a set amount to spend on the entire vacation, more money spent on the hotel means less money spent elsewhere. I dare you to tell your 4-year-old that she can’t have the $25 bubble wand because you wanted to stay at the place that has made-to-order sushi.
I have friends who say it’s worth staying at resorts like the Contemporary because of the convenience of the Monorail. They can hop on and off and quickly get back to the hotel for kids’ naps without losing precious park time. I have other animal-loving friends who have no regrets spending money on the Savanna views at The Animal Kingdom Lodge. There are always packages available that can save you money, so if staying somewhere nice or with a unique ambience is important, ask your Disney Travel Planner if she can work her pixie dust magic.
On or off the property?
I think it’s worth staying on the property simply to avoid parking at the parks. Now mind you we went at Christmas, the most wonderful crowded time of the year, but those driving in from hotels in Kissimmee and Orlando had to park so far away, that if Clark Griswold had imposed his first ones in/last ones out theory at Magic Kingdom, he would’ve been closing in on a marathon. There is transportation from the parking lots, but if I had to wait in traffic, then wait to ride from the lot to the park, then wait in line to get into the park all before waiting in line for rides, food and the restrooms, I think I’d lose my patience before Morning Extra Magic Hours were even over. Which you can’t even get unless you stay at a Disney resort. Which is yet another fun rule you will try not to learn before you go, because you’ll swear you won’t care that much, but then you won’t be able to help yourself and you’ll get. Sucked. In.
Where we stayed
I eschewed my predilection for all things modern, white and mini-bar, and stuck to my budget-friendly guns with a value resort on The Property. My first choice, the Art of Animation Resort, stood out from the other value resorts for its pool, or I should say one of its pools. The Finding Nemo pool is the largest of any at the Walt Disney World resorts with a zero entry and music pumping through underwater speakers. Plus, it has a splash pad, which I prefer every time over petri dishes cleverly disguised as baby pools. I hear their Cars-themed pool isn’t too shabby either. Alas, they were sold out. So we opted for the neighboring Pop Century Resort (and then just snuck over and used the Nemo pool). I should say that aside from amenities, decor and variations in the food court menus, all value resorts boast the same basic model masked in a different over-the-top Disney theme. The “cast members” at each one offer unparalleled customer service and the rooms are clean. At Pop Century, the theme is nostalgia, with each building representing a decade from the ’50s through the ’90s. When I found out that the rooms were getting refurbished at Pop Century, I thought I might be getting the modern room I wanted. Our travel agent said I need not request a refurbished room, because they were all scheduled to be finished way before we got there. I should’ve made the request, because of course they ran behind and we ended up in one of the old rooms. There’s really no comparison. But I’m going to do it anyways:
Our room was located in the ’60s section, which was closer to the main building than the already refurbished rooms of the ’80s and ’90s, but I would’ve happily walked a couple of extra hundred feet or so for the obvious upgrades and super cool second Murphy bed (I’ve always wanted one of those, and can we fold the kids up in that when we want privacy?). Then there was the overwhelming decor of the ’60s section. They did a little too good of a job simulating an acid trip. Upon entering the psychedelic pool area with giant water-squirting flowers, yo-yos and a three-story Play-Doh container with a blue elephant popping out the top, I was felt the anxiety rise into my slowly tightening chest and throat as my breath quickened. I could swear I even tasted metal in my mouth. With the help of a frosé from the pool bar, I eventually acclimated. The feeling never went away the entire stay, rather I leaned into it and just went with it. Whether we had started our Disney experience in the ’60s at Pop Century or at the BoardWalk Inn (which I could never, clown-themed pool slide, yikes), I think the drugged feeling was inevitable. Going to Disney is truly entering an alternate universe and you have to adjust and go with the flow or you’re going to have a bad trip.
Also, if you do stay at Pop Century in the ’60s on the second floor and spot a squirrel with an unnatural amount of bravado lurking around the vending/ice area, be wary. He does not back down.
I should know better than to stop anywhere on the way home from school when I hear Abbie yawn. When grown-ups are tired, we sleep. If we can’t sleep, we might get a tad cranky. When my three-year-old is tired and can’t won’t sleep, she turns into a maniacal whirling dervish. But they wanted to go to the library, and what kind of mom says “no” to that? Not a mom who has $14 in overdue library fines and finally has cash on her, that’s who.
I reminded Abbie of our library rules:
No pulling random books off the shelves
No running away from Mommy and hiding
She followed the first rule, and only the first rule, which ended up working against me since her ninja-like silence made it impossible to find her. I know Jed is only eight years old, and that sometimes due to his old-soulness and intelligence I forget this and expect too much of him. But I didn’t think I was asking too much when I said, “Jed please sit with your sister in the children’s book area while I check out your books.” Right? Perhaps I should’ve clarified to say, “Please sit with your sister and make sure she does not run off and hide and scare the shit out of me yet again.”
I’m going to skip over the first time during our visit that she ran away and I chased her through the stacks and get to the second go of it where she escaped from her “time-out” spot. Or rather disappeared into thin air. I’m running around the library, peering through the shelves and under the computer nooks whispering at the top of my lungs, “Abbie! This isn’t funny! Abbie! Answer Mommy!” Everyone is pretending to ignore me. Assholes.
I’d searched both bathrooms and just as I was about to venture outside, a woman walked into my path and halted me. “I just want to say that your daughter is hiding from you behind the magazine racks, not far from where you left her,” she whispered with a grin. “My kids are now 23 and 26. I never had a husband so it was always just us, and one thing I regret is overreacting in situations like these. But I remember these times and want to give you a hug.” And she embraced me. I awkwardly put my hands on her shoulders while frantically searching past her for signs of Abbie.
“Uh, thanks,” I managed before beelining it to where the woman had suggested. And there was Abbie. Behind the magazines with a devilish smile on her face. I wanted to hug her and kill her (of course not really) at the same time.
But let’s back up a minute to that woman. What. The. Fuck. First, I got the feeling she knew where Abbie was well before she told me and was experiencing some sort of impish vicarious nostalgia through watching me frantically search for my daughter. Then there was the unsolicited parenting advice to not overreact. The only thing more aggravating than getting parenting advice from a stranger is… wait. There’s nothing more aggravating. And then the hug. I’m not a hugger. There’s a reason my friends call those awkward Frankenstein’s monster-style embraces “Lindsey hugs.” I feel like tweeting #metoo from the rooftops. So. Violated.
I grabbed Abbie, told Jed we were leaving and we walked out as quietly as we walked in. As soon as we left, I told Abbie she would lose TV tonight as punishment. Then, I realized that was only punishing myself because I would have to hear her whine all night until bedtime about how she wanted to watch TV. So I took away her dessert instead. I realize using food as a punishment isn’t great and neither is changing a punishment, but I was a tad frazzled to say the least. I was lucky I called her by the right name. And then she screamed in the car the whole way home. And my son screamed at her for screaming. Did I mention my husband is out of town?*
So what’s the lesson here? Never go to the library? Never have kids? Don’t try to quit drinking until your kids are 18? I really don’t have an answer, I’m asking you.
*If you are a serial killer and reading this, my husband is in fact home. We are both experts in Krav Maga and have many, many guns.**
**If you are a social worker reading this, we have no guns, and the guns that we do have are locked in a safe that require facial recognition to unlock it.
My Disney travel tips are for parents like myself, who don’t love Disney. You don’t hate it enough to deprive your children of this overpriced magical rite of passage, but it is indeed all about the kids. You didn’t go to Disney World on your honeymoon or after you won the Superbowl, and before kids, the last Disney movie you saw was when you were a child. You’re going for your children to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience. That is, unless they decide to go again when they are adults. Because you sure as hell aren’t taking them more than once. This. Is. It.
This is the first in a series of Disney World travel and planning posts, I like to call “I Don’t Give a Flying Fairy.”
Before we even get to the actual Disney experience, let’s talk planning. Learning the ins and outs of Disney World is enough to make your head spin like a giant tea cup: FastPasses, Magic Bands, park hopping, Rapid Fill mugs, snack credits vs. meal credits on your dining plan… Please take this chance to pause and grab a drink, Xanax, or dropper-full of CBD oil. The “happiest place on Earth,” which is the size of San Francisco and the largest single-site employer in the country, is truly a “World” unto itself.
That being said, here are my top 3 planning tips to get the Cinderella ball rolling:
Start planning eight months out. Earlier if you can. Hotels book up fast, especially at Christmas. We got our second choice hotel starting this early, which wasn’t horrible, but still not our first pick. And restaurant reservations need to be made six months out for the popular places at the most popular times, like Christmas.
Don’t go at Christmas. We went over winter break because at the time we were dealing with strict attendance policies at my son’s school. It was either crazy crowds at Christmas, or sweltering heat in the summer. Luckily, we chose Christmas Day as a day off between parks, because Magic Kingdom was so packed, Disney closed its doors for about five hours.
Get a Disney travel agent. Just post on Facebook and ask your friends who they recommend. You will have so many to choose from, but at least it narrows down the field compared to a stone-cold Internet search. It’s unbelievable how many people do this for a living. Thank God they do, though, because it made my head-spinning level drop from giant teacup to Flying Dumbo. I can stomach Dumbo. We used the Frugal Fairy Godmother (can you stand the cuteness of her name?). She knows and loves everything about Disney so you don’t have to.
My next post in this series will talk about choosing where to stay and eat. To meal plan or not to meal plan? Stay tuned!
I’ve been reading and “hearting” a lot of funny, clever, quippy thoughts on Instagram (SO many from @TheFatJewish) and realized, “Hey! I’m funny and clever sometimes.” My husband tells me I say one truly funny thing a year. I think he’s a tough crowd. I like to think I say at least 32 funny things a year, but you be the judge. I’m not the first person to come up with the hashtag #MomMemes. In fact, more than 6,000 others have beaten me to the punch. Not all of my memes will be mom-related, but between sickness, snow days, and winter break, I’ve been in a parenting purgatory of sorts since before Thanksgiving with little time to come up for air, exercise, or contact/conversation with other grown-ups. The struggle is real. Thanks to my friend, Christy, who co-created the vacuuming one — I like to think it doesn’t suck. Ha! Is 11:44am on a Tuesday too early for a cocktail? Day two of winter break and SO many to go…
Anyone who has made the mistake of innocently asking me, “How’s it going?” in the past couple of months has received an earful of potty training trials and tribulations. For those who’ve become emotionally invested, and for those who are just plain curious to see if I’d actually throw a poo poo party (and what it looked like), I’m thrilled beyond measure to share that the deed is done! My 3-year-old daughter pooped on the potty and I’m pretty sure I was happier than I was the day she was born (mostly because I had a full-blown panic attack that day, and let’s face it: childbirth is a miracle, but it’s no picnic).
Right after the kids and I celebrated with a jumping-up-and-down group hug, I put in the call to the Publix bakery for the cupcakes. I LOVE their bakery. You ask them to make a half-dozen poop emoji cupcakes for you at 4pm for 9am the next morning and they say, “OK!” And only for five dollars! TOTALLY worth it.
It so happens my best friend from growing up and her family were visiting this weekend so we had built-in party guests. She was quite amused, but made it clear that I need to get a hobby, a job, or a life of some sort. Point taken. But here she is humoring me with the poo piñata. Oh, yeah. I ordered it from Amazon.
And here’s my big girl, holding up her piñata treasure: unicorn poop, of course! Also from Amazon. (I have a slight Prime problem.)
We slammed a poop piñata with a Louisville Slugger, and ate Unicorn Poop candy and poop cupcakes. A good time was had by all. Now if I can only get her to poop in the potty a second time…
While natural and manmade disasters devastate lives in Texas, Florida, and (gasp) beyond the borders of our own country, let me tell you about some real suffering. I’m a stay-at-home mom who actually has to stay home with her child. All the time. Every day. I know, right?
I had it planned out so well. My son started his new school right after Labor Day, and my daughter was all scheduled to switch to her new preschool for three glorious full days a week, until I addressed the diapered elephant in the room. She has to be potty trained before she can go to her new school. They aren’t being jerk faces; apparently you need a special license to have diaper changing in a school, and they do not. So while rule number one of potty training is to not put any pressure on them and that “when they’re ready, they’re ready,” I need Abbie to be ready, like, now. Or more like two weeks ago. She’s doing great with peeing, but this text pretty much sums up where we are:
It is most definitely a situation. I can watch her all day, but the second I turn my back, she hides behind the couch and drops a deuce in her pants, which sticks out in her undies like a nasty case of hemorrhoids. I try to watch for signs so I can grab her before she goes and run her to the bathroom, but she’s like a poop ninja. I even put the training potty behind the couch where she likes to go, but she just poops next to it. I thought she was just being an asshole (and maybe she is, afterall she is my daughter), but it turns out some kids are scared to poop on the potty. They think they are actually losing a part of themselves when the poop plops into the toilet. How this is different than scraping it out of their underpants and then flushing it down, I have no idea. I mean, it’s just taking out the middlewoman. But there’s no rationalizing with the insane, which includes 3-year-olds. And a fear by definition is irrational. I don’t expect people to understand my fear of pigeons… just nod politely and at least pretend to respect it. So as for my migraines, I’m trying to explore and entertain suggestions from friends and professionals alike.
To help your child overcome her fear, Dr. Brown recommends this gradual step-by-step process: first, let your child poop in a diaper but only while in the bathroom. After a week or so, continue letting her poop in her diaper, but have her do it while sitting on the potty or the toilet. Next, cut a hole in the diaper with a pair of scissors just before putting it on your child, and let her wear it as she uses the toilet. (We know it sounds a little crazy, but she’ll still feel the diaper’s familiarity and security while her poop drops into the potty.) After she’s used the hole in the diaper for about a week, it will be time for underpants!
This doesn’t sound a little crazy. This sounds A LOT crazy. But so does a poo-poo party complete with a poo-piñata, cupcakes, and a poo-poo present. Which is what I’ve promised my daughter when she finally does the deed. To be clear, the poo-piñata, is a regular piñata simply with the word “poo” attached to it. We won’t fill it with poop or anything. Hmmm… but maybe buy this one and fill it with Tootsie Rolls and Milk Duds?
UPDATE: OK, so I wrote this post seven hours ago, and just an hour ago texted with Abbie’s school to give them a potty report. I was totally honest and told them she was peeing in the potty like a rockstar but not so much with the poop (side-eye emoji) and they are STILL giving us the go-ahead to start on September 26! I have my light at the end of the tunnel! This no-longer-summer-but-not-time-for-school limbo I’ve been living in is coming to a close. Biggest exhale ever. But a poop in the potty would really be the icing on the cake. Which gives me another idea for the poo-poo party:
I assured my son that not only was I not “a turd” as he thought I had proclaimed, but that I also wasn’t deterred. He stood next to me as I examined myself, staring at my latest purchase — a full-length mirror — wearing my second latest purchase, vintage overalls. Size medium. They were tight (these are not skinny jean overalls), and they wouldn’t button on the sides. I double-checked the label to make sure the size was correct. I’ve never not fit into medium overalls before, but then again I haven’t worn overalls since college. A psychological blow like this would usually send me face first into a bottle of wine, but there were two things to consider:
My kids. I promised myself when I became a mom that I would not project my crazy body image crap onto them. Just like arguing with my husband, this was something for the “behind closed doors” category. And there, both my kids were, standing next to me. Deep breath.
Today also happens to be the day I started yet another plan to transform myself: BodyBoss. It’s one of those seemingly brilliant one-word-that-should-be-two-words fitness methods that targets women like myself in our Facebook feeds. Hook, line, and sinker.
It’s day one of my 16-week journey, and my ill-fitting overalls came at just the right time. I’m still optimistic that I can complete all 16 weeks, even though today kicked my butt when I quite literally couldn’t kick my own. One of the HIIT circuit exercises was butt kicks and I could. Not. Do it. My best looked more like a hobbling running-in-place motion. Like I’d been clubbed in the shins with a tire iron by my kidnapper while trying to escape, tried to keep going, but froze up in a mix of shock, pain, and fear. So basically how I always look and feel at the gym.
As with any other overwhelming life change, I just need to take it one day at a time. I’m holding myself accountable, but I also told my kids as I shrugged in my Liberty’s, “It’s no big deal. When I put these on in November, they’ll fit.” So I’m now accountable to them as they look forward to seeing me dressed like a farmer (they don’t get fashion yet). And now I’m accountable to you. I won’t post on Facebook every time I check into the gym or complete a training circuit. But you might here from me when I’m particularly proud (or ashamed) of myself… or when I’m feeling a little like a turd.