Monday, November 17, 2014

5 Signs The Holiday Season is Upon Us

I think it's safe to say that, although we have yet to celebrate an actual holiday, we are knee-deep in The Holiday Season.

If you've missed the signs, here's a recap:

1. Costco is selling a 10 foot stuffed bear and strategically placed it at the entrance of the store so my children can start asking for it from the moment we grab a cart to the moment we've had our receipt tattooed with a happy face.

By the way, I'm only 50"
51" on a good day

2. Every 7 seconds there's a commercial for some sort of pet: Pillow Pet, Tummy Pet, Petjamas, Stretchy Pet, Slipper Pet, Seat Pet and my favorite My Kids Can't Ever Remember to Feed our Pet.

Thanks to  Nate's "generous donation" to the Give Away pile,
we have plenty of room for a Whatever Pet

3. The Stupid Elf on a Freaking Shelf has started making an appearance in our Newsfeed with increasing frequency. I have to admit, though, it seems as though the 'ol EotS is walking a fine line these days... Elves today!

4. The Red Cup.
Holiday cup + 80 degree weather + the beach =  San Diego Holiday Season

Last , but certainly not least...

5. Scary Mommy's Guide to Surviving The Holidays is finally here!!! Today is the official Book Release for the new hysterical holiday survival guide. THANK YOU to those of you who pre-ordered the book. Because of YOUR purchase and the generous donations of others we raised $114,516 and were able to give provide a gift card toward a Thanksgiving meal for 2,152 families!!

We all know it's shoppingwrappingcookingbakingfamilykidshomefortwoweeks time.  
Things are about to get hairy- and I don't just mean your schedule!

So sit back and enjoy The Holiday Season with good friends, good food and some GREAT laughs.  
Buy your book today for only $2.99 

Be sure to head over to Amazon and leave a review when you're done!!

The holidays are coming... I will survive!
That's just my normal.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

All you need is love... sort of

I know she just wanted to help.  I'm sure she could tell by my posture- back ramrod straight, shoulders drawn up so high they could be worn as earrings and the wicked bitch brow I was sporting- that we were most certainly not exchanging "I love you's" in the grocery store parking lot.

From the corner of my eye, I saw her approaching. With a knowing smile and patient eyes she headed my way.  Moments ago I was tense and ticked off. In the seconds it took this well-meaning woman to put her shopping cart away and cross the parking lot to where I stood, I hit Defcon 1. I knew exactly what she was going to say before a single word passed her lips.

"Oh honey. The time goes so fast.  One day you'll long for them to tag along to the grocery store."

Next came the grandmotherly squeeze to my forearm and unintentionally patronizing smile.  And let's not forget the wink tossed in my son's direction.

I know her intentions were kind. She'd probably been there a hundred times in her lifetime.  She empathized with my situation and was simply trying to offer me some perspective, a gentle reminder that this won't last forever.

But at that moment I didn't want any help. I didn't need to be reminded that while the days drag, the years fly. I didn't need to be told that one day I will long for the tasks that once seemed so difficult and exhausting. At that moment, in that parking lot I couldn't think of anything more glorious than the idea of running to the grocery store without either of my kids.

I'm aware that one day I will look around and find little evidence of my children around my house. I'm recognize that distance will give me perspective and that perspective will show me that so many of the things I obsessed over were truly inconsequential.  I have no doubt I will regret many things I've done and said and I pray my children will have the grace to forgive me and understand I did the best I could.

But the simple truth is this: I can not miss my children if they never leave my home because they are unable to function in the world and take care of themselves.  And so while they are with me I will teach the million life lessons they will need... and they won't all be taught with soft words and smiles.

The stern talking to in a parking lot, the consequences leaving a child bereft without his or her coveted-technology obsession of the day, the scream your head off, drop a bad word, snot wiping arguments are also facets love- just like calm discussions, important lectures and soft words.

Every mom is trying to find the delicate balance between grace and accountability.

"When you look back you won't remember how messy the house was or the laundry sitting unfolded in the basket." That might be so.  However, when my son arrives an an interview you better believe his hair will be combed, he will have applied deodorant and he'll be wearing a clean shirt and matching socks.  You know why? Because I endured all the arguments, reminders, lectures and nagging it took to teach him about appropriate dress and the importance of good hygiene. I fought the fights worth fighting to teach him the skills he needed to survive and thrive in the world outside my home.

Love is at the heart of everything I do and say. Even words laced in anger or frustration are rooted in love.  It is love that gives me the strength to do the hard messy work. Love is what drives me to remind them to put their things away, brush their teeth, say please and thank you, show gratitude, eat right, do their homework right the first time.  And it's love that gives me what it takes to remind them all of those things again a few minutes later, and the next day and the following month and all the years they live in my home. Because if there was no love, I wouldn't care what they do or how they act. I wouldn't bother.

What my son needed that Saturday morning in the grocery store parking lot was a reminder that disrespect is not tolerated in our family and  that huffing and puffing are not acceptable reactions when Mom says "no." He needed a lesson in contentment because he will not get everything his heart desires- even if it's only a bag of chips. He needed to be taught that poor behavior has consequences- whether it's the loss of a toy or a ticked off mom. My son needed to learn, in our tiny sliver of the great big world that he will one day need to navigate, that there are expectations of his behavior, his attitude and his words.

What better place to learn those things that in our family- his first experience with community, where every lesson is to hep him, every apology is accepted and every ounce of grace will be given unconditionally?

Who better to teach him those lessons than his mother who gives him endless do-overs and second chances? A mother whose  toughest lessons are rooted in a love so great and so mighty that she will spend her days repeating herself and enduring her child's anger and her nights on her knees praying for patience, strength and discernment, hoping she has done the right things and said the right things? This mother who is rigid and angry in the parking lot loves you so much she will spend her life trying her best and knowing she will fail often while holding on to the hope that, when it is all said and done and you are out there in the world, you will finally understand what love looks like- beyond hugs and kisses and laughs.

Love is as the heart of all I do for my kids- the good, the bad and the messy.  And though I will miss them when one day they are not beside me in the grocery store or there are no shoes to step over or backpacks to pick up, my hope is that they are out there in the world loving someone else enough to do the hard stuff, fight the fights worth fighting and have difficult conversations in grocery store parking lots.

Love isn't all hugs and kisses. Sometimes it's a showdown in a parking lot.
That's just my normal.

Update: 5 a.m. We have raised $48,814 for the Scary Mommy Thanksgiving Project.  976 families will have a Thanksgiving meal thanks to your generosity.  You still have plenty of time to donate! Better yet... Pre Order your copy of Scary Mommy's Guide to Surviving the Holidays and proceeds will go to the Thanksgiving Project.  You get a laugh, they get a meal.  It's a win-win!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

This is pee-worthy

I have been forty for 19 days.

In that time...

I organized my home and kids so The Hubs and I (and Flat Stanley) could leave town for an entire week...

 7 backpacks just to organize the boys' school and sports paraphernalia 

Meanwhile I pack my shit like an efficient boss!

I spent 6 nights and 6 days having the best vacation of my entire life in Scotland...

This is not a postcard.
It's an actual picture of an actual bridge that is actually this picturesque.

Couldn't tell you where exactly this was taken because
every single picture from the trip is this beautiful!

Flat Stanley had a great time too but that boy can not hold his liquor.

I received my first check for something I wrote.

$40, baby! That's 13 Venti Americanos!!

And I celebrated one of my favorite friend's 40th birthday with a weekend getaway.

Scrolling through my pictures I found a sombrero, a rubber chicken, lots of red solo cups and a jacuzzi. 
In order to protect the reputation of the rubber chicken 
(and avoid the disappointment of my mother) 
I will not be including any of those photos here.  

And while those trips and money are amazing, they were not pee-worthy.  They were definitely jump-up-and-down worthy.  Perhaps even a squeal-or-two worthy. And I know one of them was smexy-time worthy.

But pee-worthy is reserved for things so fantabulous that I not only jump up and down and squeal and pretty much cry like a baby and then I pee over. That amazing pee-worthy thing has happened...

I was recently informed by Jill Smokler of Scary Mommy- Yes, THE Scary Mommy- that I was selected to be included in her soon to be released book Scary Mommy's Guide to Surviving the Holidays.

Let's pretend you live under a rock and sadly have no knowledge of Jill Smokler or Scary Mommy. Here's a few hints:

For those of you in the low math group like I was... 
The "k" stands for thousand.  
She has 710 THOUSAND followers on her Facebook page.

She has published not one but TWO books and one was a New York Times Bestseller

She's appeared on The Today Show, Good Morning America, Nightline, Bethenny, and Fox and Friends. Toss in her Twitter audience and she has over a million social media followers; while her website averages 30 million page-views a month!

Most importantly, her audience is more than virtual:

   "Scary Mommy Nation, a registered 501(c)3 non-profit, helps members of the Scary Mommy Community who face the truly scary: An inability to feed their families. Born from an impromptu Thanksgiving fundraiser in 2011, Scary Mommy Nation raised over $160,000 in a matter of weeks last year to supply over 3,000 struggling families with a holiday dinner they otherwise would have gone without."

And on November 17, 2014 this wonderful mother and talented writer will release her third book from Simon and Schuster. And I get to be a part of it!

Scary Mommy's Guide to Surviving the Holidays is a hysterical collection of relatable, hilarious essays on everything from the Santa myth to being seated at the dreaded kids' table, to easy-to-follow recipes that might include just a little something special to take the edge off (can anyone say Kahlua?), to fun and accessible gift ideas. This book is your ticket to peace of mind- and a laugh- during the busy, crazy holiday season. And a portion of each book sold will go to Scary Mommy Nation's Thanksgiving Project.

It goes without saying that I am honored and humbled (and shocked to the point of losing control of my bladder) to have something I wrote included in this book. Please take a moment to check it out and meet the extremely talented group of female contributors.

While you're there, why not order your copy so you can laugh your way through the holiday season. And maybe even pee a little.

So far 40 is pretty freaking fantastic!
That's just my normal.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

10 Things I will have absolutely no trouble doing while traveling to Scotland

According to my children, I have no business traveling. Luke feels my definition of a "fun time in Scotland" is found lacking. According to Nate, I have no business going to Scotland because I "don't speak Scotland."

*setting* The kitchen table Tuesday morning...

Luke: Mom, what are you most excited about doing on your trip?
Me: The plane ride.
Luke: Well that's sad. You're going to hurt Dad's feelings.
Me: Why? He'll be sitting next to me.
Luke: Well, is there anything not lame or boring that you're excited about?
Me: I'd like to see a movie while we're there.
Nate: A movie? You don't even speak Scotland! 

Well, darling sons of mine... I may not meet to your "fun vacation" standards and my "Scotland" is quite rusty, but that sure as heck isn't stopping me from going there TODAY! 

And while I might have a bit of trouble understanding the locals at times, let me tell you 

10 Things I will Have Absolutely No Trouble Doing 
While Your Dad & I Are in Scotland

1. Sleeping in

2. Sleeping naked

3. Sampling whiskey

4. Wearing real clothes. Not yoga pants.  Not my running shoes.  No jog bra. 
We're talking actual clothing purchased somewhere other than the Active Wear department, intentionally put together in order to form what some might call "an outfit."

5. Feeding no one other than myself- what I want, when I want

6. Sampling whiskey (Did I mention that one already?)

7. Doing absolutely nothing for 11 blissful hours, armed with some snacks, a few books and some good music.

8. Abstaining from all school projects, carpools & lunch making, as well as football, water polo and soccer practice

9. Allowing Grandma and Grandpa the privilege of repeatedly asking 2 small human beings to brush their teeth 

10. Picking up after no one other than myself

I will certainly miss you, my sweet boys.  I love you truly madly deeply and I am blessed to be your mama.  

But for the next 7 days I will be a wife, a woman, an explorer of foreign lands, a rider of public transportation, a sampler of new and exciting foods, a silly tourist taking excessive pictures, extremely well rested, even more in love with your father and (God willing) a bit tipsy from my whiskey tours.

For those of you who will have some trouble while my husband & I are in Scotland (Don't be embarrassed) you can check out the shenanigans that are sure to ensue when a husband and wife attempt to navigate a foreign country, by going to the blog's Facebook page: ThePursuitOfNormal

Of course most of you already follow me there, right? Right? Well where the hell have you been? 
You think I'm brilliant here? You should see the intellectual gymnastics I perform over there!

I'm about to spend 6 nights and 7 days without my kids.
That's NOT my normal.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

This is 16 + 24 - 19 hours

In 19 hours I'll be 40. Four-ty. The big 4-0.

I'm pretty sure the school secretary and nurse were in their 40's. Maybe they were 60.
I couldn't tell. I was 8.

I remember when my mom turned 40.  We threw her a surprise party.  She came downstairs early... in her bathrobe. I was 11.

The parents of the first middle school class I ever taught were 40. They asked me for parenting advice.  I was 25, married for 2 years and owned a dog who was poorly trained.

I used to think 40 was old.  I thought it was high-waisted jeans and short hair. I expected it to be complaining about loud music and the way kids dres these days. I thought I'd say "When I was younger..." a lot. I assumed it was the winding down of drinking and definitely the end of sex. I was pretty sure I'd lose my sense of humor but gain a lot of wisdom.

I was wrong on almost all accounts because in 19 hours I'll be 40 and I can rock a pair of skinny jeans with high boots and even a few pair that rise a bit lower than my mother would consider acceptable.  I have long hair and no intention of cutting it. The loud music pouring from the car next to you at the red light? That's me. I apologize for my lame dance moves.  And though I certainly think kids today could stand to put a little more on while pulling some other things up, I look at a lot of them and wish I had been so bold and creative "when I was younger." Turns out I was spot on about my usage of that phrase.  Oddly enough my alcohol intake appears to increase in correlation to my sons' ages... Peculiar.  And sex... SO. NOT. OVER. As for a sense of humor... I may still be 39, but I think I'm funny as hell and I doubt that will change in the next 19 hours.

At 19-hours-shy-of-40 I don't know if I'd say I'm wiser, but I've definitely learned a few things. I've discovered the 3 things that keep my marriage working. I have tackled a lot of parenting challenges. But more importantly, I feel confident in my ability to handle the ones I know are coming down the road. I'm more patient. I hope I'm more kind. And I strive to be more loving. I'm a bit more comfortable in my own skin and a teeny bit more accepting of the lumps and bumps on that skin. I've learned a lot about perspective- mine and others.

40 minus 19 hours and I'm happy, settled, blessed.  I have a wonderful, loving, imperfect husband. 2 hysterical, unique, brilliant, imperfect children. A giant, slobbery, imperfect dog.  Being the imperfect wife and mother I am, this motley crew is exactly what I need.  I had the career I wanted and fell into a new one I love even more. I found my words and better yet, my voice. I've shared those words in some pretty important places and even had a few of them put in some books. But I don't think I'll ever stopped being surprised by the knowledge that people read some of those words daily... on purpose!

So many seasons of my life are over- school, first fights, flutters in my belly.  The season I'm in now can be equal parts wildly exciting and utterly exhausting.  And the season ahead... Who knows?

But if the future is anything like the 18+22-19 hours I've lived so far, I won't complain one bit.

I've said it before and I'll say it again:
If I'm this fabulous at 40, just imagine how amazing I'll be at 40+10!
That's just my normal.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

To the parents of...

To the parents of...

"Vicky is an extremely articulate young lady.  We are impressed by her ability to express her thoughts and feelings."
Kindergarten- Mrs. Levi

"Vicky is very bright.  She completes her work on time and is eager to participate in class discussions and sharing.  However, it would be a good idea for her to work on controlling her talking when it is not discussion time." 
2nd Grade- Mrs. Higgins

"I appreciate Vicky's willingness to eagerly participate in class discussions.  However, it is important for her to learn when it is and is not time to be talking."
4th Grade- Mrs. S

"Vicky has been awarded 'Class Chatterbox' of this year's 5th grade class.  I'm sure this comes as no surprise to you."
5th Grade- Mrs. B

"Vicky received detention today for excessive talking during class."
7th Grade- Mr. R.

"Vicky is eager to participate in class discussions. She has great insight and I believe she would be a great asset to our Honor's US History class. Please remind her, however, that there are times when talking is not encouraged."
10th Grade- Mr. H

"Vicky has received Top Honors for her participation in our US Constitution Debate Team. Well done! but let's not forget that not all class time is meant to be 'talk time.'"
12th Grade- Mr. H

"Did you even hear what what I said? I feel like you don't listen to me?"
"Babe, you said like 10,000 words since I walked in the door. Which ones were I supposed to focus on?"
Marriage- The Hubs

The ability to express the tens of thousands of words that dance through my head has not always worked to my advantage.

But sometimes... Sometimes those words that can't be contained no matter how hard I try, mean something. They articulate someone else's experience in a way they couldn't.  They say the words they wouldn't. They soothe an aching heart.  They make a person laugh.  They help someone feel normal, understood.

Today is that day...

I am privileged to announce, from the Editors of  The HerStories Project...


Today I find myself among 36 amazing and brave female writers who share the power, love and loss of female friendship.

Today I have never been more grateful to have an unending supply of words... even though it landed me in detention more times than I can count.

On these pages, I hope you find your experience and the words that are often too hard to share.

Sometimes having too much of something is actually the perfect amount.
That's just my normal. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A letter to the mother of daughters from the mother of sons...

To the mothers of daughters from the mother of sons,

As mothers we have similar goals, regardless of gender. We want our children to have happy, healthy relationships- both physically and emotionally.  We want them to go out into the world prepared to make educated choices and calculated risks- with a healthy dose of caution thrown in. We want them to look at the world around them and see a place that has both good and evil, while understanding it is the choices they make that  makes the difference.
We want them to know more love than fear.

To that end, you’re working hard to raise women who know the true meaning of beauty, who are bright and confident- in spite of living in a culture who daily contradicts those messages.  Meanwhile, I am fighting to raise young men that know the power of their words and their bodies,  have pride while still having compassion and understand that being a “man” has a thousand different definitions.  

In recent months, however, I feel as though you and I have become unknowing opponents in the fight to raise our children.  As a society that laments the loss of “the village” that once worked together to raise its children, it is disheartening to find we are standing face to face rather than side by side.

Recent tragedies have distorted the image of our sons and daughters. Vicious acts of physical violence by famous athletes and vile images of disturbed college students with mental illnesses litter the media, sending the message that my sons are perpetrators and your daughters their potential victims. As the mother of sons, this is both heartbreaking and infuriating.  I don’t want your daughters to fear my sons. I don’t want young women to be afraid to be alone with them, doubt their intentions or distrust their words.  This is unfair to both of them.

As the mother of sons, I have taught and will continue to teach my boys that no one has the right to touch anyone without permission.  In our house “no” means “no.” Those who say it, mean it- it’s not a joke. Those who hear it, respect it- it’s not optional. I will instill in them the understanding that just because they HAVE the right to do something, doesn’t mean it IS right to do it. Their actions cause REactions and they need to consider that with every choice they make. My sons will grow up knowing through my words and my behavior that women, your daughters, are more than their skin and body. Through my marriage they will learn that spouses treat each other with love and respect- even when they’re angry or disagree. They will know to open doors, pull out chairs and help carry the groceries, not because a woman can’t but because it is OK to show her that you care and think she’s special. My sons will not be perfect, I’ll teach them that as well. But I will do everything in my power to make sure they are loving, kind and of strong character, not someone to be feared.

As the mothers of daughters, I need you to help your girls know these things about my sons. Please teach them that not all men physically abuse, laugh at crude jokes, or disrespect women. Remind your daughters that my sons can find them beautiful while still valuing who they are. Tell your daughter that my son will listen when she says no. Also tell her he means it when he say no as well. Help your daughters grow up knowing through your words and actions that they are more than skin and body.  Talk to them about the difference between having rights and doing what is right. Show them that all actions have REactions and to make decisions wisely. Instill in your daughters the belief that they are special and deserving of someone who wants to open their door, pull out their chairs and carry their groceries. Share with your daughters that all men should not be feared or judged by the behavior of others. Teach them that even though my sons aren’t perfect, they are capable of great love and immense respect.

As mothers we have to stand together and  fight against a world that wants to tell our children to fear one another. We must educate and empower our children so they can go out into the world confident and capable and able to explore happy, healthy relationships.
That's just my normal.