Thursday, July 23, 2015

Awkward Mom vs. the Milwaukee Zoo

Awkward Dad was going to a ball game with Awkward Uncle in Milwaukee, so we all decided to tag along. Not to the game, of course. It was Major League night and I'm awkward, not insane. No, we hung out in the hotel room, ate our weight in vending machine candy, and watched Storage Wars. (Ivy is our favorite.) The next day, we went to the zoo, with the rest of Milwaukee; it was cheap day, not raining, and, since there are rumors of a lion roaming the streets of northern Milwaukee, the zoo seemed the safest place to be. Upon reflection, I just might be awkward AND insane.

I'm too tired from our adventure to write much, so I declare PICTURE POST!

Let's get things off to an awkward start by all agreeing to 
NOT look at the camera for any pictures.
Deal? Deal. 

Super Baby's putting his hat on.
It's a party now.

So, if the cut-out is supposed to be the face of the shown body, 
what is going on with the big one? 
Is that person like a face-shaped growth on that poor cow's nose?

Getting ready for the fastest zoo train I have ever been on.
I almost lost my hat and one of the children on a particularly sharp curve. 

Super Baby waiting on the rest of us.
Super Baby waits for us a lot of the time. 
Always looking like a rather pleasant W.C. Fields.

Watching an elephant pee.
It was the highlight of the trip.

I think we are lost. 

2 Beauties. 

Super 1st likes heights. 

I'm kinda a fan too. 

Super Toddler wanted Pepper to gallop. 
Pepper politely declined.

Super Preschooler isn't sure about this development. 

Everyone was a tad nervous about the animatronic dinosaurs.
Including me.

I mean, we all know how Jurassic Park went down.

The only one unfazed was Super Baby.

So the plus side of the whole thing is 
that we think we have found a babysitter for him. 

Crazy fun adventure at the zoo; thanks, Milwaukee! 
Good luck catching that roaming lion! 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Awkward Mom vs. the Garden

Hello, True Believers! We're back and we're as awkward as ever.......

It's all the garden's fault. I mean, it's pretty much the whole reason we bought the house.

Not that the house isn't amazing because the house is amazing. And not just because we have been renting for 5 years and it's heaven to be able to knock holes in the wall if we want to. No, it really is a beautiful house, from the stained glass front door that makes rainbows in the afternoon to the finished, tiled, walk-out basement that means I experience natural light while doing laundry and changing cat litter for the first time in my entire life. Seriously, love the house.

But what really made us sure was the garden.

Because if you had a garden this beautiful, 
you would hire someone to guard it too.
Of course, upon reflection, we should have gone with rebels.

Every window at the back of the house overlooks the garden because the house is built into a hill, giving this grand overlook. A sea of flowers, 3 fountains, and a neat expanse of grass paths. It's lovely. And thrilling. And beautiful. And massive. And completely out of my ability. Frankly, it's terrifying and I have no idea why we thought this was a good idea.

We have become friends with the previous owners because they tell you not to do that when you buy a house and Awkward Dad and I love to break rules. Especially unspoken rules that were placed there to protect the feelings of individuals who spent most of their adult lives taking care of and creating a space, only to see it fall in the hands of the awkward and non-green-thumbed. And Mrs. Gardener, a former chemistry professor who is kindness and knowledge itself, came over yesterday to look things over and give me some summer gardening tips. 3 hours later, I couldn't really process thought anymore, everything was a blur of green, Latin classification names, and my own inadequacy. Here are the highlights:

Me: I just love the lilies! (This is the only plant I can identify and pronounce.)
Mrs. Gardener: Oh, me too! Which ones?  I have at least 110 represented out of the several thousand lilium genus.
Me: Hmmm....yes. The, um, purple ones are nice.

Mrs. G: See this one?
Me: Yes, that one's super pretty.
Mrs. G: Weed.
Me: Ah.
Mrs. G: See this one?
Me: Yes, really nice.
Mrs. G: Weed.
Me: This one? Weed?
Mrs. G: That's an Arisaema Triphyllum. And my favorite.

Mrs. G: How much algae reducer have you been using in the fountains?
Me: You can repress algae?
Mrs. G: (Strong teacher look)
Me: I mean, I kinda prefer the natural method of repression, you know. Passive aggressive comments about the algae's inability to be a real plant and whatnot.
Mrs. G: I left you a bottle in the laundry room.
Me: Oh, that's what that was!
Mrs. G: And algae are actually eukaryotic organisms.

Mrs. G: Ah, that's the problem.
Me: What?
Mrs. G: Your fountain filter has an ant colony in it.
Me: You can tell that just by looking at it?!
Mrs. G: The ants spilling out everywhere are a pretty good clue.

Me: (Trying to pull up a particularly tough weed and failing)
Mrs. G: You might want to get a spade for that one.
Me: Oh?
Mrs. G: That's a tree.

Mrs G: All in all, it looks pretty good. You just have some weeding and cutting back to do, well, everywhere, but then I would say you are in pretty good shape.
Me: (dizzy and disoriented) OK, I might not retain all of this though.
Mrs. G: You can always call or email. No worries. Well, no worries until fall that is. That's when all the big work takes place.
Me: (fighting the faint I feel coming on)
Mrs. G: Are you feeling alright? You should really have a hat on in this sun. Let's go see how the children are doing; I think I heard a crash.

Given that my preferred form of gardening is this:

I would say that I have some work to do, Readers. Wish me luck!

Did we mention the tank of rare South African fish 
that the previous owners have gifted us with? 
No? Well, one battle at a time, eh?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Awkward Mom vs. Change

So, where have I been? Well, lotta changes over here at Awkward Manor. Which will be relocating to Davenport, Iowa in a month and a half. Awkward Dad's residency journey has finally come to an end and it is time for him to start his dream job. It is time for us to move and start the next part of our adventure. I have many feelings about this, so naturally, I have totally put off dealing with them in any way, shape, or form.

I started this blog the fall of the year we moved here, after a whole difficult summer of awkward mom meetings and intense loneliness. (Flashback!) Things have changed dramatically over the past 5 years, and now I think the difficulty is going to be in leaving all the beautiful friends I have found here. I'm not gonna lie, you all were not always easy to find. Had to suffer through a lot of playdates and fake-smile at a lot of perfect moms, but when I found you, giggling into your sleeve while I pretended to love the kale chips or rolling your eyes when the who-walked-earliest contest began or whispering spoilers about Downton Abbey during the Mommy and Me circle time, I knew we were meant to be. You are the reason Ann Arbor has been a beautiful place to be for the past 5 years. Every one of you. The ones I laughed with at the park. The ones I have never seen anywhere but in the magical dashes and zeros of the internet. The ones I didn't know I was going to like. The ones I basically stalked. The ones my children found. The ones my husband found. The ones who found me. The crunchy ones. The homeschooling ones. The stay-at-home ones. The working ones. The intense ones. The relaxed ones. The sweet ones. The strong ones. The slightly crazy ones. All of you are the reason I lived through the last 5 years on a cloud of laughter and understanding.

My motherhood grew up here. I was a new mom with a 2-year-old and a baby. I knew exactly 3 people in Ann Arbor and they all lived with me, not that we ever saw Awkward Dad very much that first year. I had no idea what I was doing. Now, I am a less new mom, with 4 children under the age of 7, and an amazing circle of passionately different women who weave around me into a magic quilt of loving, supportive,  faithful friendship. I am not sure I have any more idea what I am doing, but I have fully committed to that. That's my role in the magic mom quilt and I'm cool with my chaotic, weird, crooked little square. What's more amazing is that all of you are cool with it too.

I am probably going radio-silent for awhile. (It isn't for lack of awkward tales; the house hunt alone could fill a whole book.) I am just legit busy. And, well, goodbyes are hard and awful and near impossible to make funny. Who wants to read 6 weeks of sappy and mopey waxing about the womanhood quilt and the eternal friendship? Come on, that would suck. And most of you are gonna have to deal with it in the flesh, so I will spare you any more long-winded introspection here.

This period of my life is coming to a close. A long awaited and fabulous close. Which I am now thinking I don't want at all. Of course, that's not true, but change is ever so hard. But of course again, if motherhood has taught me anything, it is these 2 things:

1.) It's all change.
2.)You can do it.

I've off to battle the massive super villain of Change, but know this, Wonderful Readers, I will see you on the other side of it. Same Awkward Channel, Slightly Later, but no less Awkward, Time. (Iowa is in Central Time.) Love yas!

Change has no chance against this super team.
They just embrace him. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Awkward Mom vs. Eavesdropping

I am just gonna sit here and type what the children are doing in the other room. I promise you, it will be worth it:

Super 1st: OK, look, I'm the brave knight. Super Toddler is my beloved and bravest warrior. Super Preschooler is an evil wizard. And Super Baby is the dragon. I'm imprisoned by the evil wizard in the tallest tower of the land (the bunk bed) and Super Toddler has to save me.

Super Preschooler: Cool. Oh, hang on, I need a hat.

Super Toddler: Need sword, be right back.

Super Baby: AHHH!

Super 1st: Nice, that's a good dragon sound.

Super Toddler: Back!

Super 1st: You can't use a real knife!

*Stay tuned, back after a word from our sponsor.*

Super 1st: It wasn't my idea, I swear! What is that?

Super Preschooler: My hat.

Super 1st: It's not very evil looking.

Super Preschooler: It's perfect, just use your imagination.

Super 1st: It's an Iron Man mask.

Super Preschooler: It's fine.

Super 1st: Whatever, OK, so I'm imprisoned and Super Toddler has to slice the chains, hand me my weapon, and we'll flee from the dragon.

Super Toddler: OK!

Super 1st: Hey, not the face! The chains are down here.

Super Preschooler: Wait. I have to sing my song of evilness first.

Super 1st: What?!

Super Preschooler: I'm the bad guy and the bad guy has a song.

Super 1st.: Sigh. Fine.

Super Preschooler: (loosely sung to the tune of Do Your Ears Hang Low) Oh, evilness is the best! I like to hate the rest! And all of the bad guys are my friends. We have axes and swords and we like to laugh. Badness and evilness are great! Evilnesssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss! (this "note" is held for a least 30 seconds)

Super 1st: Are you done?

Super Preschooler: Yes.

Super 1st: OK, free me, Super Toddler! Defeat the evil wizard! Super Toddler?

Super Preschooler: She left. She's watching Big Hero Six with the baby dragon.

Super 1st: Really?

Super Preschooler: Yeah.

Super 1st: What part?

Super Preschooler: Like the start, I think.

Super 1st: OK. Game paused!

Super Preschooler: I'm hungry.

Both: MOM!!

 Avengers Assemble! 
You know, after snack, that is. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Awkward Mom vs. Feminism

Psst. Hey, you. Yes, you. Wanna be a feminist? Well, today is your lucky day because you too can be a feminist in 4 easy steps! Easy-peasy:

1. Define feminism as the ideology that woman and men should have equal rights and opportunities. People might try to stick other stuff in there. Don't let them. Tell them, politely but firmly, to go get their own ideology or sub-ideology. And maybe a sandwich. They seem crabby, maybe they are hungry.

2. Tell yourself that you are equal to any man or woman in your universe. (And really beyond; not that we know how they establish gender in other universes. They might not have gender. Which would be interesting, just on a bathroom level alone, but if Ally McBeal's law firm could have unisex bathrooms, I imagine genderless alien races could figure it out, but what is really important here is that you are equal to all of them because you are amazing and beautiful and wonderful.)

3. Eat a sandwich. All that ideology and positive self-talk makes one hungry. You can eat with the crabby people, if they have calmed down.

4. You are full; of positive feelings and sandwich. This is great! Now go about behaving as if you are equal to any man or woman in your universe, and that any man or woman in your universe is equal to you. Do this as seems good to you; lean in, recline, do extreme yoga moves, lie on the couch and binge-watch House Hunters, be a great chef, order take-out, dress-up, dress-down, don't dress, have children, don't have children, act like children, attach, detach. The options are literally endless. Just make sure that you are being you; not an archetype or an example or a symbol. You are none of those things because you are so much more. You are a fully formed and flawed human being who should glory in the uniqueness of you, not try to hide it because someone you encounter tries to tell you that you are not equal to him/her. They just haven't done the 4 steps yet. Pity them and keep on being a feminist. Or, better yet, tell them about the four steps so that there can be more fully formed feminists to hang with; win-win! You might wanna start with #3. Never underestimate the power of a good sandwich. And never underestimate you. You are glorious.

Celebrate! You are now a feminist!

Make your celebration as unique as you are!
Even if that means a sock full of marbles.
Be you! 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Awkward Mom vs. the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

In no real order, the reasons that today is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day:

1. I have bronchitis. I have had bronchitis for a week. I am tired of being sick.

2. I spoke to no adults today. I am lonely and bored and am starting to pay attention to the damaging voices in my head that tell me I am worthless because I don't have a job and contribute to society. I'm not sure how damaging they are, I am starting to think they are just right. Unpleasant, but right.

3. The baby won't stop crying. And won't nap. And won't eat. And won't do anything but cry.

4. Awkward Dad isn't picking up his phone and it is going to voice mail. And voice mail is full.

5. It's rainy and cold. Again.

6. The news is depressing. Again.

7. The children are fighting. Again.

8. I keep thinking this list will somehow get funny, but it doesn't. And I don't think it is going to.

9. I think I am over blogging. I like writing, but blogging is starting to feel like the sound of one hand clapping. It used to feel useful. Like a connection or a release. Now, it merely feels like a popularity contest that I am losing. I mean, what else can I say in one of the most saturated online communities there is? Parenting is hard? Moms do crazy things? Why can't we all just get along? If I am not singing this in a slick and viral parody of Uptown Funk then I doubt anyone is going to be interested. Was that harsh? Maybe. I don't really care to temper my temper today.

10. And that's OK. No. No, it's not OK. I'm not OK.  Why even write this? I mean, it isn't funny. It isn't normal. It's isn't even awkward. It's sad and pathetic and just no good. I suppose that's the point, right? Online everything is filtered and sanitized and edited and lit in just the right way to produce whatever effect you are going for, and mostly you are going for "look at my fabulous life!" I don't have fabulous today. I'm not exactly sure I ever have fabulous. And I think all I can muster today is "Look!" That's it. Just look. Why I want you to look at this is up for debate. It isn't a pretty meltdown and it isn't an interesting meltdown. No screaming or ranting or throwing things. I'm kinda melting down slowly and sadly into a puddle here in the middle of the internet, and the internet is gonna blow right past because that is what it does. It moves fast and frantic and onto the next thing. That's fine. But I'm just gonna sit here because I am tired. And not having a particularly good day. Maybe you could sit with me? We can watch the internet rush past and just be unfiltered and unsanitized and unedited for awhile. No pressure, but maybe you are tired too. Tired, having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, and just want it to be OK that it's not OK. You know what? It's OK that it's not OK.

I get it, Sad Elephant. 
I totally get it. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Super 1st. vs. Friendship

Basically, it's a rout. 

My Precious Super 1st.-

You are many things, my strong, compassionate, genius first born. You are bold without being bossy (most of the time). You are fearless with a decent degree of caution. You are a quiet leader, and you are flexible while maintaining clear preferences. You are an open book with enough secrets to be interesting. You are balanced (most of the time), and your temper is a slow burn that will usually acquiesce to a timely hug. You are skilled in untold ways and it would take years to write them all down, so I will focus on what is going on in the other room.

You have a friend over. One of your dreamier friends who sometimes needs some patience and drawing out to feel comfortable. You do this without breaking a sweat. Toys are proffered in quick secession; rejects flung to the side and possibles placed in his lap like offerings. You rush here and there, gathering talismans while encouraging siblings to advance or retreat depending on their various noise levels. You are creating a sanctuary of play. Your friend relaxes. And then laughs. And then a spirited game of Ponies/Fairies/Restaurant spills forth. It is glorious and epic, while appearing natural and commonplace. It's one of your best play dates to date.

You are the best friend that I have ever witnessed in action. (The only one who comes close to you is your father, so that must be where is came from.) The expansiveness of your friendship is truly endless; you can hold countless friends within your open arms and yet manage to lavish love on all of them. I think your heart is a black hole, but like in a good way. You draw everything in to it. And you remember things! Who likes milk. Who hates milk. Who wants chocolate milk. Everyone's imaginary friends. Birthdays. Important dates. Who is best friends among the girls in your class, this week. Who failed the spelling test and needs some extra attention at recess. Who needs to be left alone. Who needs you to shove over. Who needs you to move in. I once witnessed you mediate a near-war by casually suggesting that instead of playing princess or house, you all play castle instead.

You have an effortless ability to catalog your friends' quirks, pulling this knowledge out like a magician's scarves. Your friends love you for it. Perhaps they are all too young to start taking advantage of you or learning to expect your lavish love, rendering it less shiny. But I doubt it; I think you have actually achieved the ability to make others feel loved and wanted, while not discounting your own worth and beauty. You know you are a good friend, like you know all your other skills. It is a knowledge so intimate and devoid of pretense that it renders bragging impossible. Of course I am a good person, you say. As are all my friends, let me count the ways.....

But it would take a year, so I will cut off your beautifully balanced ego for the moment and just lean my head toward your room. The game has shifted to Spies and if I listen close enough, I just might learn your secrets. Your magical secret to being such a wonderful friend.

I love you-
Awkward Mom

Friendship is indeed magic.