Friday, June 28, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. the Opening Ceremonies

Look! Look! A Special Olympics post with no food in it! Wonder of wonders....

In the 15 plus years that Awkward Uncle has been attending the Special Olympics, we have seen many an Opening Ceremony. Naturally, they are all wonderful in their parade of athletes, the truly awe-inspiring torch run, and, our personal awkward favorite, the Knights of Columbus strolling about in their plumed finery. We delight in the traditions and look forward to the unique touches that mark each Opening Ceremony. That said, some Opening Ceremonies are just better than others. The entertainment is more entertaining. The microphones are working better. The planning is just more seamless. We still talk about the first year we went and the entertainment was what seemed like 50 light-up floats that magically bobbed and weaved all over the field, like a graceful game of bumper cars. There was ultra-patriotic 2002 with its 100 American flags and Jim Nabors poems. There was the year of the "ghost" marching band that is best explained by musician Awkward Dad; their "magic" was lost on me. Not all stellar, but all manageable. Well, my darling Readers, this year's Opening Ceremony, I hate to say it, was a bust.

It hurt me to type that. I want to love them all, and, to be fair, we still had most of our beloved traditions. We got there way too early to get a good parking spot and a good seat. We let the children romp and race over the field while we breathlessly awaited the first Knight to pass by in his feathers, so Awkward Grandma could lean over and reenact the entire Knight who say Nee scene. We cried while watching the slide show of athletes. We people-watched and shamelessly judged anyone in heels. We forgot which area Awkward Uncle was in, like we do every year, and had to strain to hear each and every group to see if we could figure it out. Nothing out of the ordinary. 

Pretty standard, really.

But then, the microphones are suddenly way worse than previous years, or the folks using the microphones are, because we can't hear anything but a low mumble. Which is also when we realize that the construction that is halfway finished on the stadium means that the athletes won't be sitting in the bleachers like they normally do, and that the roped-off areas that Super Baby has been flagrantly ignoring are where the athletes are going to sit. All of this means that seeing Awkward Uncle is going to be impossible, especially when we finally figure out what area he is in; the last one to come in. We are pondering this about the time the silence before the national anthem descends and Super Baby decides that is an awesome time to test out her new screaming-on-command abilities. The Super Boys are flailing all over the place and Super Toddler is getting dangerously close to the group next to us in his repeated rolls down the hill. 

This, but picture more people and the solemnity of the national anthem in the background. 

I am starting to wonder how we are gonna make it through the "entertainment;" a college-based circus. (OK, I am mostly worried about me and my crippling coulrohobia.) That is when my mother leans over, I think it is during "and the rockets' red glare," and whispers, "Let's get out of here and go eat something." 

Don't judge us too harshly, we were planning to spend a June Saturday in the spectator section of an indoor pool with half the population of Illinois plus 3 toddlers desperate to get in said pool. We needed to rest for that. And a snack. 

My "I give up" face. 
I make this face a lot. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Super Baby vs. the Slim Jim

By far the shortest of our super and special Special Olympic posts. That Slim Jim never stood a chance.

Somewhere on our journey to the Special Olympics, I think we are in Indiana, Awkward Dad decides that we all need a snack. Even the Awkward-Mobile has been riding E for awhile, so we pull into a gas station. We all troop in and then something crazy happens. Super Toddler, who has been convinced that our home toilet is going to eat him for about 2 years, decides that he wants to start potty training, for reals. On a toilet at a gas station in Indiana. The less said about that battle the better, really, but we are all very proud of him.

After that, the Super boys start begging for Skittles and M&Ms, and Awkward Dad, elated with Super Toddler's progress, is inclined to indulge them. But Super Baby has her eyes on a dearer prize; she is lovingly pawing at the glass covering the paltry collection of cold food that this gas station houses, namely the hot dogs that she sees to the right of some scary looking cheese and to the left of a couple Lunchables that seem to have expired sometime last year.

Long-term Readers will be familiar with Super Baby's affinity for all things meaty. OK, really most food-things in general, but especially sausage in all its many forms. She loves hot dogs, bratwursts, pretty much any tubular and cured meat. Natural casing, non-natural casing, fancy, all-Beef, unknown origin, with mustard, plain, bunless; she isn't too picky. When Babcia (Awkward Dad's mother) visits, she brings traditional kabanosy (Super Baby's favorite), which Babcia claims means "little nose sausage" and no, that does not bear thinking about too hard. However, did that picture remind you of anything? (Yes, there is a picture behind that kabanosy link, try it out! Unless, of course, you are a vegetarian.) Kinda looks like a Slim Jim, doesn't it?

Well, as Awkward Dad is steering Super Baby away from the cooler case and toward the candy aisle, while she is kicking and screaming, he appears to have a light-bulb moment right there in front of the Swedish fish. He lets her plop down on the ground for me to deal with and goes 2 aisles over to the Slurpee machine. Well, specifically to the left of the Slurpee (or generic-non-7-11-branded-Slurpee-equivalent machine), to a huge and slightly daunting Slim Jim display. But Awkward Dad is Polish and knows his way around cured meat (that sounds insulting and vaguely dirty and is not intended to be either), so he quickly assembles an assortment and meets us, with his meats (haha!), by the register. The end result of all of this is a completely peaceful journey into Illinois and these stunning pictures of a battle in process:

 I would say that the victor of this battle is pretty clear, wouldn't you? 

Off to find a snack of the not-cased-and-cured-meat variety, catch you all super soon with more special tales of Special Olympics! Well, that, and the feasting that we did to, from, and during it! OK. OK. Mostly the feasting! See ya soon! 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Chili's

And here we go! On to our special Special Olympics series of posts! That some of these will not actually take place at events, but while everyone is eating in-between events should shock no one familiar with this blog. If you aren't familiar with this blog, Hello! And Awkward people like to eat. 

My mother is a gentle rebel. She is also a quiet adventurer. I never tire of talking about my mother and her seemingly conflicting and cheerfully chaotic characteristics. Sometimes it feels like she is 18 different women, all at once, who all want to know if you are hungry and would you like a sandwich. She is, quite simply, as amazing as she is awkward. I know that I have told you about her gentle ability to get along with every crazy, crooked, and even falling-off-the-tree branch of her family, and that she very often moderates conversations between them, with contentious issues like abortion, gay rights, and who is the best Beatle in the forefront. Awkward folk do not hold with the theory that polite conversation doesn't include religion, politics, or musical taste. No, we just go for it, while serving a lot of food to make people sluggish and less likely to be able to get up and hit each other. Awkward Grandma reigns supreme in this environment; food, festival, and fights. No, not the fights. She is amazing; just kinda floats over all of it with a smile and a "hmmm...that's an interesting point." She told me once that there is nothing to fear from words, only what behaviors they can lead to if one has an unquestioning and unimaginative mind.

But I am here to tell you about her adventurer side. My mother has travelled the world. Not all of it, and certainly not while she was saddled with 3 children to raise and a nursing degree to get, but she greatly enjoys globe-trotting when she gets the chance. However, she also enjoys doing it on a smaller scale; ask me sometime about the great Lincoln scavenger hunt that found us, on the same day, nearly joining a demolition derby, eating ice cream in a parking lot with a car shaped like a chicken, and prowling around a graveyard, looking for open crypts. That might have also been the trip we went looking for "Hitler's bicycle" but someone had stolen it and nailed a note to the tree, gleefully explaining that "no one will ever find Adolf's bike again!" Awkward Grandma likes the weird. She likes the unusual. She likes anything that is gonna make a good story the next time we are altogether eating and laughing and eating some more.

Hence, our trip to Chili's. Now, our trip to Chili's is made with the best intentions. No one is seeking Hitler's bicycle, just some tasty burgers and fajitas. Plus, 10% of every bill is going to the Special Olympics and as much as my mother is rebellious and adventurous, she is even more generous. So, off we troop to Chili's. We time it just right, so despite the crowd that comes in after us, we are seated right away. We settle in. Figure out what we might want to eat. Admire the decor. Fashion a hat out of the centerpiece:

You know, normal restaurant behavior, really.

Then, Awkward Grandma decides to live a little; she wants a fancy drink! She pulls the drink specials off of Super Toddler's head for a minute (she gives it right back) and decides that the Blue Raspberry Margarita looks delish. She has a weakness for all things raspberry, you see. Anyway, the waiter comes over and this happens:

Awkward Grandma: I would like a Blue Raspberry Margarita, please.

Waiter: Nice choice! Would you like it with the coronarita?

Awkward Grandma: (clearly having no idea what a coronarita is) Sure!

Waiter: Great, I'll go get it.

It turns out to be this:

We now all know what a coronarita is. 
And you do too!

So, naturally, we do what anyone else would do. We take about 800 pictures of this thing, including one which truly captures what the man at the next table thinks of us:

Sorry, Buddy! Awkward people tend to be loud and joyful at all times; 
I can see why that might bother you. 

Here they are after it first arrives. Confusion and shock seem to the overriding emotions.  

Trying to figure out how it works. 

Super Preschooler offers to help Awkward Grandma drink it.
She politely declines his offer.  

She does, however, accept some help from Awkward Dad and myself, and thus, does not end up attending the Special Olympics Opening Ceremony completely blitzed. And get this! The coronarita-laden margarita isn't the only crazy thing we experience at Chili's. Guess who we spy circling the building? This fellow:

Yes, that is a giant chili pepper. 

They don't seem to want to let this poor guy in the building, although he seems to try on several occasions. I can only imagine that is because he is weaving erratically all over the place. Kinda like he has had a few too many Blue Raspberry Margaritas with Coronaritas. 

Who needs Hitler's bicycle when you have got this to look at, eh?

Tune in soon for more special Special Olympic tales! Some of them might actually take place at the real Special Olympics and not the surrounding restaurants, but no promises. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Guest Post Rejections

So, a couple months ago, Awkward Mom submitted a guest post to another blog and they decided not to use it. Something about "not quite what we are looking for." We are not exactly shocked by this. Awkward Mom's prose is an acquired taste and she uses entirely too many X-men references to play well beside recipes for homemade sunscreen and well-researched discussions of Dr. Sears and his approach to parenthood. We were gonna scrap the post entirely, but then thought you guys might want to read it. Just for a laugh or two. It takes place in the dark days before Awkward Mom was Awkward Mom. You know, back when she was just plain ol' awkward. 

Most comic book origin stories involve some pivotal event that results in the wannabe crime-fighter bursting forth into full-on superhero. Nearly all include radioactive material of some ilk. Awkward Mom’s origin involves things far scarier then radioactive spiders and green gamma rays; Awkward Mom’s beginning involved pregnancy hormones and hemorrhoids.

Once upon a time, I am not the ambitiously average Awkward Mom that you see before you. No, no. Long ago (like 6 years) and far away (In Illinois), I am merely awkwardly trying to save the world. To understand this, I suppose you need a little back story: Somewhere in my teens, I become obsessed with social justice and the idea that I am destined for world saving, so I carry this noble, if slightly na├»ve, need to college and beyond; acquiring years of experience working in shelters, a social work degree, and this neat trick for getting more ink out of a near-empty ink cartridge. (Non-profits don’t rank office supplies as a high priority.) By the time I arrive at my late-20s, I think I am the next coming of Dorothy Day and Jane Adams. I am not. I am a social worker, married to a med student, doing mental health counseling in a small non-profit in Central Illinois. It is rewarding and all, but I am starting to want more. I start to contemplate a trip to South America, but Awkward Dad gently tells me that I am too old for the Peace Corps. “But hey, Erin (going by my alter-ego then), guess what you aren’t too old for!”

I haven’t really thought about children lately. We were always too busy and we were sure-as-shooting too poor. We were also fostering about 12 cats at the time (hey, animals need saving too!), and they filled my life with warmth, and all the pottying work that I imagined children would produce. However, when I had previously made my I-don’t-really-need-children-to-be-fulfilled-in-life proclamation, I was in my early twenties, hadn’t met Awkward Dad yet, and was eating Raman Noodles for all meals. Needless to say, things had changed.

It is embarrassing simple; my light-bulb moment. I just look at Awkward Dad, who I guess is technically Awkward Med. Student at the time, and I picture him as a father. It doesn’t even take a second to do this. It is instantaneous and all it really takes to get me on board. It is the idea that I am not having a child alone or with some Neanderthal who dragged me back to his cave. I am maybe having a child with the person that I have picked to ride shotgun with me on life’s road trip. OK, maybe I better ride shotgun though, Awkward Dad is a terrible navigator. Point is, once I picture Awkward Med. Student as Awkward Dad, it all becomes totally doable. At least one of us will know what we are doing, especially if I end up giving birth in a car or something. We go out and buy prenatal vitamins that night.

Now, I don’t have to teach you guys about the birds and bees, right? Well, if anyone needs a refresher, just do any search on the internet. Any search, seriously. The end result of the birding and the beeing is Super Fetus. And the aforementioned hormones and hemorrhoids, but you guys can use your imaginations there; mine is about the most standard pregnancy in history. The only weird thing is that my bump doesn’t show very well (I am carrying high and right under some, if I do say so myself , fairly impressive boobs), so most people seem to think that I have merely been drinking a lot of beer and don’t ask me when I am due. That this upsets me amuses me now, after child 3, but at the time, it is quite traumatic. But not as traumatic as Super Fetus being a little rock star and deciding to come 10 days late, with a healthy helping of pitocin and an emergency C-section.

But what isn’t traumatic at all is this happy shift in my path and my passion. I like Super Baby so much that, within 4 years, I have 2 more of them. Fun thing: I spent years trying to save the world and these three just do it without even the benefit of any degrees or cartridge tricks. Must be superheroes.

That the Supers Kids are superheroes goes without saying; some are born superheroes. (Hello, X-men?) Maybe Awkward Mom’s origin is less about becoming a superhero herself and more about making room for a few in her life. Being a sidekick can be a pretty sweet gig too. Just ask Robin. OK, don’t ask the one that the Joker killed; ask one of the other two.  

Thanks for reading, Readers. Guess we didn't want that one to go to waste. We'll return you to some quite awkward Special Olympic posts next; that is, if no one wants to guest post.... We here at Awkward Mom have a policy that we don't reject any guest posts, which is probably made doable by the fact that we rarely get any, but nevertheless, send 'em on over! We would love to hear how you guys became parents, how you stay sane as parents, what makes you insane as parents, why you never want to be parents, and anything in-between!
Send it over and we'll post it! 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Special Olympics -Prelude

Now, that isn't a fair fight at all! Those guys are athletes and Awkward Mom is just, well, awkward. 

Awkward Uncle has gone to the State Special Olympic Games as long as anyone can remember, and no one can agree on when that started. Was it 1996? 1997? Who was president? No one knows. It is so much a part of our June plans that we are startled on the rare occasions when he doesn't win a regional gold medal and go to the state games. We simply have no idea how to spend Father's Day weekend if we aren't spending it fighting for a good view of the Knights of Columbus at the opening ceremony, racing all over campus looking for members of our party, finding a non-crowded place to eat, convincing Super Baby to please just go to sleep in the strange hotel room, and slowly melting in the humidity of a indoor pool while waiting for Awkward Uncle and trying to keep an ever-growing number of Supers out of the water. Why would anyone want to do anything else? That is the real question!

Our peeks at Awkward Uncle during the weekend are always at weird angles or across a stadium full of people. But they are well worth it! 

Stay tuned this week, Super Readers! Awkward Mom has a whole series of Special Olympic posts prepared and get a gander at some of these antics:

You do not want to miss this special series, Friends. 
Better tune in, or Super Baby is gonna do this:

And, nobody wants that. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Walking Babies

Does this utterly adorable video of Super Baby walking like John Wayne in a striped dress and then breaking into the display of JFK's death car make up for the fact that I have no new post for you guys today? I think it kinda does. Super Baby is like the Wild card in UNO. She changes all the rules.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Inspirations

My darling and daring daughter-

As you set forth to make your mark on the world, and mark it up you surely shall, I know that you don't need much. A pair of Chuck Taylors and your inexhaustible spunk should about cover it. But you might want some inspiration to guide your journey. You look around for examples of womanhood; leaders and friends to guide you on your path through this incredible world of ours. I know that you have too much grace and boundless charm to be awkward, so I am not suggesting that you look toward me. But let me point you to some other ladies a little more luminary. 

Let's get some out of the way first; not Miley Cyrus. Not Paris Hilton. About half of the Disney Princesses are not to be emulated. Avoid most celebrities in general. Power and shoes are both exciting, but don't look toward Imelda Marcos. No Madame Bovary or Anna Karenina; boys just aren't worth that level of stress, my sweet. I don't care if they have amazing Russian or French accents. No Lindsey Lohan or anyone with the last name Kardashian. In fact, anyone on a reality show can be discounted straight off. 

My angel, be an Amelia Earhart. Or a Florence Lowe Barnes, if you want to fly but don't want to go down mysteriously over the Pacific. Be a Jane Goodall. Be a Marie Curie, just please wear some gloves or maybe a suit lined with lead. Be a Marie Stopes. Be an Empress, namely Catherine the Great or Wu Zetian. Be an Elizabeth Blackwell or a Muthulakshmi Reddi. Be a Bronte sister. Be a Boudica
That you could be anyone and will be like no one is a foregone conclusion. 

Trailblaze like Sacagawea. Write like Toni Morrison or Agatha Christie. Emily Dickenson, if you must, but please leave your room on occasion. Vote like Susan B. Anthony and Isabella Beecher Hooker dreamed of doing. Judge like Sandra Day O'Conner. Study like Hypatia; no angry mob is gonna tell you what to do. (And if they try, they can deal with me.) Love the earth like Anita Roddick. Teach like Clara Barton. Paint like Georgia O'Keeffe and discover the desert light, or paint like Grandma Moses, in your own sweet time. You are a fine wine, my precious one; you will only get better with age. 

If you must act, act like Katharine Hepburn or Meryl Streep or Judi Dench. If you must be a diva, be a real one, like Leontyne Price or Renee Fleming. Or the greatest diva of them all; Miss Piggy. 

Be like St. Catherine and tell it like it is. Be like St. Clare and make it happen. Be faithful like Abigail Adams. Be independent like Eleanor Roosevelt. Be sassy like Mae West. Be aware of your own style like Coco Chanel. Be steadfast like Rosa Parks. Be peaceful like Betty Williams. Be kind like Mother Teresa. Be strong like Tegla Loroupe. Be brave like Malala Yousafzai. Be witty like Tina Fey. Be patient like Helen Keller.  And that you should, at all times, try to be like Betty White, in all things, goes without saying. 

You could be Nancy Drew, Hermione Granger. Jane Eyre. Elizabeth Bennett. Janie Crawford. Mulan. Margo Channing. Jo March. Scout Finch. Hildy Johnson. Annie Hall. Anne of Green Gables. Pippi Longstocking. Miss Marple. Yes, they are all fictional. I have a feeling that won't stop you. 

Look to any one of your great-grandmas; the paths they cut through the forest are wide and long. Watch Awkward Grandma propel herself through life like a steam engine running on cheer and curiosity. Gaze around your family tree, you have inspiring and amazing women falling off of it like so many spiralling sycamore seeds. You can't avoid the female feisty, my love. You were born into it.

You will be yourself. A woman so unique and so special that we are gonna need to find some new adjectives just to describe you to the generations that come afterward. You are the inspiration of the future, my daughter. A marvelous combination of sweetness and steel that will change the world with the sheer force of your love for it. Look to whom you wish for tips on how to getting there, but that you will get there is not in question at all. You have all the inspiration you need inside you already. Go be amazing; I'll be here if you need a sandwich or something.

I love you-
Awkward Mom

You look like you are ready to run, my angel.

Make sure to go fast enough that the wind brushes your hair, 
and slow enough that you can smell the flowers on the side of the road. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Fiction

Sometimes Awkward Mom writes fiction. Because it is fun and silly and actually shorter than her blog posts. Thought we would share one with you.

A Micro Marine Story:

And there goes the octopus; each purple plush tentacle sinking beneath the harbor waters. Is it the sun? My imagination? Or do the glass eyes wink at me as they pass to freedom under the lazy waves. Well, that was money well spent. Bruce would win her a purple octopus and not one of the many adorable teddy bears or kitties. He would, in full knowledge of Beatrice’s tendency to extremes. In full knowledge that she has been watching Nova a little too much. A teddy bear or one of those multi-colored cats or even those sweet monkey dolls would have worked. Would have actually made it home with us. Won’t have been hurled off the boardwalk and into the benignly lapping water beneath in some misguided attempt to free the imprisoned sea creature momentarily in her possession. Poor Beatrice actually hollers “Save Our Oceans,” as she flings the octopus over the railing, not quite clear on the fact that she is actually hurling what will amount to trash into the ocean she is trying to save. Perhaps 4 years old is too young to watch Nova. Who knows and is it really worth questioning my entire parenting approach here on the boardwalk? Especially since a passing boat has already hauled the drenched octopus out of the briny deep for her. She, of course, tries to explain her motivation for the “rescue,” only to be met with the kind but clearly confused expression dancing in the eyes of this extremely patient fisherman. Ultimately, I ask him to take the octopus and “release it into the wild,” while asking him with my eyes to not think we are crazy. He chuckles and places the soggy octopus in a seat of honor near the wheel. Then, he winks at me and tells Beatrice of a special octopus lair that he knows about further out in the bay. She listens, rapt and terribly relieved. Bruce is all smug, like he created this magical moment just for her; oblivious to the fact that we won’t even be in this situation if he had just won her a teddy bear like everyone else. We wave to the fisherman and his purple plush stowaway until they are out of sight beyond some boats, and I breathe a sigh of relief. Crisis averted. Of course, I sigh too soon because Bruce and Beatrice are already making their way to a new game. The prize for this one: goldfish. 

Stay tuned; maybe we'll include some more fishy fiction someday! 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. McDonald's

And she ain't talking about the farm, folks!

So, Readers, I did it! I successfully fed my children McDonald's for dinner at the park. And you know what?  Nothing bad happened. No one choked on a McNugget. There were no straw fights. A horde of crunchy moms didn't erupt from the nearby forest preserve to take my children back to nature. A swat team of social workers didn't suddenly appear to ask questions about my maternal fitness. In fact, I don't really think anyone noticed or seemed to care. Now, the fact that we were on a playdate with Rock Star Mom and she was also feeding her children McDonald's might have gone a long way toward my apparent coolness with the whole thing. She is totally aptly named; her civilised sass is awe-inspiring and her nonchalance about what other people think makes her my new mom hero. My discreet stalking of her at church has paid off in spades! But back to the McDonalds, which got me thinking about food.....

Now, we all know that I think about food a great deal. How much I love to eat it. How much I hate to actually make it. How much I wish I could dine in restaurants for the rest of my life and it somehow be free and healthy, which will be my second wish if I ever meet a genie. (The first being endless wishes, duh.) So much of my life is tied up in food, especially my mom-life; who needs it, who stole it, who has had enough, why isn't there any in the house, what is this moldy thing on the counter, where shall we buy more that isn't moldy. Then Super Preschooler wants to grow the food, but that sounds like too much work and I would rather watch Netflix. And then that crunchy mom at the other park is suggesting new ways for us to have food without any sugar and frankly all that does is make me want a Snickers bar. And the people I live with want food all the time. At least 3 times a day; it is insane!

Food; it is essential to human life. That much I can deal with. But the endless superimposed pressures and judgements that we layer onto food renders it an emotional landmine that I don't want to touch, let alone eat. And we moms are the worst! Watch moms at the grocery store sometime; oh sure, they nod hello at you all polite-like, but their eyes drop right into your cart to see what you are buying. Let's be super honest, to judge what you are buying. And no lying, you do it too. I do it without even wanting to do it; our eyes are biologically primed to rake over things that other moms are doing. (Awkward Dad wants me to point out that there is absolutely no biological evidence to back up the previous statement. Oh, and that women are weird.)

I have explained my theory about the Infant Trifecta before; that deadly combination of food, sleep, and potty. The three areas of baby life that can render any conversation between normally sane and loving women into a whirling mass of catty and righteously indigent furies, given enough time and the right conditions. Well, guess what? Eat, sleep, and potty are all babies do! And children aren't much better, although play enters into the scene at some point; play with its own host of theories, approaches, and the altogether foreign concept of sharing. Yeah, that's gonna be a walk in the park right there. You and your mom friends can make all the efforts in the world to stay away from the Infant Trifecta; you can talk about politics (which might be no wiser) or movies or books or American Idol. You could be super safe and only discuss the weather, but sure as shooting, someone's child is gonna get hungry, tired, or have to pee while you are talking, and then, as ominous as Pandora's Box creaking open, Infant Trifecta appears in your midst. You may totally ignore him and prattle on about how much better the show was when Paula was on it, but he is still there. Looming in a corner like a waiting viper. No one might say anything, you may escape the whole playdate without any visible tension whatsoever, but someone is judging the food/sleep/potty interaction. Believe me, she is. And if she isn't, you are.

This doesn't make us bad people. We are human and we do this all day. Our days are a cycle of tending to the food/sleep/potty needs of the young people in our care and we have learned what works for our young people and for ourselves. Not absorbing Infant Trifecta discussions around us would be like an engineer having no opinion while the Brooklyn Bridge is being discussed. A baker not weighing in on a bread conversation. A fashion designer letting you go anywhere in Uggs. It just isn't natural. We are moms; we are Infant Trifecta experts and it is natural to think that our mom-friends can benefit from our wisdom. And they can. If your friend asks for potty training tips, awesome! Tip away. If your buddy want to know how you moved your baby into a crib with no drama, share! Wanna offer around your spinach-laced brownies? OK, now you are pushing it, but I like your enthusiasm. But we all need to remember something about our Infant Trifecta applies to our own infants. Our own children. Our own households. And it does not translate directly into anyone else's experience without some tweaking and arranging.

Back to food. (Wait. I need some for real. Be right back. OK. It's just a banana, not a spinach-brownie, don't worry.) Food. Food is so loaded with stuff. And stuff really is the right word. Judgement, good intentions, convenience, pressure, hopes, failures, preservatives; you name it, food is stuffed with it. For example, my children are snackers. They eat all day long, little bits and bites here and there. Breakfast and lunch rarely happen with any sort of order, let's alone sitting down at the table. Dinner is slightly more formal, but only slightly and only at Awkward Dad insistence. 3 square meals a day just isn't the way their stomachs tend to think and I have accepted that. Along with many other food "disappointments," like that my children are gonna put ketchup on everything they eat or that Super Toddler has inherited my salt-tooth or my utter inability to deal with making baby food. I just can't do it, I have a total mental block there. I feel myself totally inapt at the idea of pureeing squash, don't ask me why. It's all mental and weird and tied up with my feelings of inadequacy as it relates to cooking. But rather than probe all of those emotions during time I could spend reading or making up stories with Super Preschooler, I just let Excellent Mom make it for me because she enjoys it. Somethings really are that simple.

And last night was one of those times. I wanted to see Rock Star Mom and her band. She suggested McDonald's at the park. And I said OK.

OK, it wasn't quite that simple. My children eat McDonald's, I just don't usually let them do it in public. How familiar are they with McDonald's? Well, it isn't once a year and it isn't once a day. The fact that I am not telling you is proof positive about how fearful I am of Infant Trifecta, even in blog-form. But baby steps, Awkward Mom, baby steps. My children definitely know about McDonald's. Rock Star Mom's suggestion blew this little wisp of freedom through my brain. I like her. I respect her. And she thinks occasionally eating McDonald's at the park is totally fine. Why don't I? Do I? Why am I do so caught-up in what some random Park Perfect Mom might think about my children and their dietary habits? My children are healthy and vibrant; some McDonald's isn't going to spiral them into a lifetime of obesity and sloth. I know this. OK, maybe I don't know this, but I have a good faith belief that fast food isn't inherently evil. Besides, the real issue with me isn't the McDonald's. They were already eating that anyway. It is the public eating of it. Do I want that to happen daily? Of course not! But when we do happen to eat McDonald's, I would prefer it to be the way it was yesterday; open, fun, full of laughs at the park with some new friends. Not shamefully hunkered down in the car so that the folks in the neighboring Whole Foods parking lot can't see us. Food is a issue-laden landmine for adults, why on God's green earth would I want to do that to my children?!

This is what works in my household; this is my Infant Trifecta expert opinion. Does it work for your family? I doubt it; that is your family. You need to find the food balance that works for you. Your own food pyramid, as it were. And guess what? I fully support that. Wanna go to the park with us and eat whatever it is that is in your food pyramid? I'll even try your spinach-brownies, a small one please!

We here at Awkward Mom think that Jim Gaffigan says it best: 

"I’m tired of people acting like they are better than McDonald’s. It’s like, you may have never set a foot in McDonald’s, but you have your own McDonald’s, maybe instead of buying a Big Mac, you read Us Weekly. Hey, that’s still McDonald’s. It’s just served up a little different. Maybe your McDonald’s is telling yourself that Starbucks Frappuccino is not a milk shake or maybe it's watching Glee.
It’s all McDonald’s, McDonald’s of the soul, momentary pleasure followed by incredible guilt eventually leading to cancer. I’m loving it®. We all have our own. We all have our own McDonald’s you know, it may take me awhile to digest my quarter pounder with Cheese, but that tramp stamp is forever. Du du du du du du – Mistake.
Really it’s all McDonald’s out there. Right? How can we all name three people that have dated Jennifer Aniston. It’s McDonald’s and we gobble it up just like those McDonald’s fries, it’s like who is she dating now. I know I shouldn’t, but it’s so salty. Is she pregnant, yet? That’s not even my business. Scarlett Johansson got a hair cut, why do I give a s***. Because it’s McDonald’s and that feels good, going down. By the way if you care who Prince William married, that’s Burger King."

Did we just eat McDonald's? Maybe. 
Baby steps....

Monday, June 3, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Summer Bucket Lists

Kicking it is really the only thing Awkward Mom knows to do with a bucket, so this should be a challenge....

My ally, Reading Mom, was blogging today about summer bucket lists and I was intrigued. The only thing I know about bucket lists is that scions of the silver screen tend to favor them. Apparently, Reading Mom's summer bucket list is a list of things she hopes to achieve this summer with her kids. Hers is fun, balanced, and utterly impressive in scope. So, naturally, mine will be something slightly less impressive and more...umm...what's the word I am looking is right there on the tip of my tongue....wait for it....could it be.....maybe.....AWKWARD!

Awkward Mom's Bucket List of Awkward Summer Happenings:

1. Actually use our pool pass at least twice a week, and not just every day of the last week the pool is open, like last year.

2. Bravely take off the cover-up and play with the children in the pool, regardless of how many Perfect Moms are there in bikinis. You can't teach the Supers healthy self-esteem and being OK with imperfection if you act like a moody 13-year-old wallflower at a dance.

3. Go to the zoo at least once.

4. Avoid actually buying overpriced zoo lemonade. And not by just not going to the zoo; that is cheating.

5. Weed Super Preschooler's garden. Do it at night if necessary, as Super Preschooler tends toward St. Francis in his love for all things flora and fauna and currently won't allow the "beautiful" weeds to be removed under his watchful sight.

6. Take a daily family walk.

7. Try not to complain too much on said walk when Super Baby takes 800 years to walk 1 block because she has to smell every flower, collect 16 rocks, attempt to climb a rose bush, start walking with a different family, take a 10-minute break every third lawn, lose her shoe 8 houses back, eat some sidewalk chalk, freak out when a stray cat doesn't want a hug, and generally be a 18-month-old on a walk.

8. Slides!

Also, buy Super Baby some sandals.
Dirty-white-socks is not how I want her remembered at the park.

9. Go to Greenfield Village at least twice a month and at least once during their turn-of-the-century baseball games. Try to stay awake during these and not roll eyes too much as Awkward Dad loses his mind with excitement and educates us all with archaic rules and dated antidotes. Do not sarcastically suggest that he don a uniform and take to the field, because he will and the man has enough hobbies.

10. Make a trek to the Ancestral Awkward Homestead at least once. Gotta work on getting a horse-lover for Awkward Grandma.

11. Daily freezie-pops.

12. Be fashionable at all times, regardless of heat or stares:

Everyone else is just jealous of the natural Awkward style anyway.

13. Be lazy sometimes. And by sometimes, I mean, daily, perhaps hourly. Lists are all well and good, but this is our last summer before Super Preschooler becomes Super Kindergartener. There is no sense of accomplishment worth rushing these precious moments when he is still young enough to like my kisses, to think I have most of the answers, and to enjoy spending time with us rather than in the wide wild world that can wait for him just a little bit longer.

14. Have an honest-to-goodness picnic. Not just a box of Cheezits and 1 orange on a towel in the front yard.

15. Basically, end every day like this:

Tall order, but I think we might be up for it!
Well, we are listed-up and off to kick that bucket. Wait....that didn't come out right....
Anyone out there have a summer bucket list? Wanna share so we can shamelessly steal off of it for better ideas than these?