Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Awkward Mom and Awkward Grandma

The original ally is still the best ally. 

Today is my mom's birthday. (Well, really tomorrow, as I am writing this early because I want it posted first thing.) Ten to one, she is at home, eyes red and nose stuffed up from her hay fever. My father probably bought her socks or a book he wants to read himself. My brothers didn't buy her anything, and she had to make her own cake because my family is full of boys and shipping a cake from Michigan is just silly and apt to melt. Speaking of the heat, she is too hot because it is August 29th and everyone normal is too hot. She is disappointed by her birthday, like she is every year (except the year we took off to Louisiana and stopped by Graceland, that was a good birthday), because having a birthday in late summer sucks. Ask Awkward Dad in about a week and he'll tell you. OK, he probably won't because he'll be pouting about how I failed to surprise him with a good birthday, yet again.

Basically, my mom's birthday makes her feel like this:

However, don't despair for her. Send her chocolate instead and know that sometime in the beautiful chill of October, my mom will declare an unbirthday and we will eat a disgusting amount of food that will hurt our bellies as we laugh and laugh and fall off the couch laughing.

She is always laughing. 

My mom is amazing. That word doesn't mean half of what I want it to mean. She deserves a nice birthday and it sucks that she never gets one. This is the woman who never forgets a birthday and who thoughtfully sends you a card that arrives the day before yours so you get that tingling, it's-coming, Christmas feeling. If you are lucky enough to be around her on your birthday, she will celebrate with taffy-pulling or a giant buffalo cut-out or pirate eye-patches or the entire catalog of the Oriental Trading Company. There will be confetti and she will totally leave it wherever you throw it because my mom thinks fun is way more important than spotless. And the cake. I don't even need to mention the cake because I have a whole post about it, right here. She is basically a birthday fairy.

I think she might be a real fairy at that, and, if not, certainly magical. She is the kind of woman who thinks an unbirthday is a fine idea and not at all silly. Nor is decorating for Halloween or totally overdoing for Christmas or eating a bag of M&Ms on the couch while watching stand-up comedy for hours. My mom has never forgotten how to laugh like she is 6 years old and doesn't care if there is milk coming out of her nose. She still gets excited about weird looking gourds and getting real mail and cool cheeses and giving gifts and road trips and county fairs and parties and Netflix and friends and pretty much anything weird, fun, or having to do with cats. In fact, she loves cats so much that, despite an allergy, she lives with a herd (oops, I mean clowder) of them, and I think she just got a kitten, who she named Artemis Nala because go big or go home seems to be my mom's motto.

I am having the worst day today; headache, pregnancy ick, feeling like a terrible mother for not taking my children anywhere on one of the last days of summer vacation but instead letting them watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, shirtless, while eating an entire bag of pretzel rods. So, I call my mom, who listens quietly and respectfully to my complaining, and then tells me that she saw a car in the shape of a chicken in the parking lot of the nearby fried chicken joint. She describes it, in detail, and reminds me of the time we saw a similar one in Illinois while we were looking for an "angry Lincoln" water tower. It is hilarious because Chicken Cars are hilarious. We laughed and laughed. Because that is what fixes icky hot days when nothing is going right; laughing and laughing. This may sound overly simple to you. It is simple. Simply wonderful.

Now, don't get me wrong, my mom is smart. My mom is crazy smart. I am fairly sure there isn't a book out there she hasn't read and I know there isn't a topic alive that she won't touch. No, she says, bring all your contentious, prickly, uncomfortable issues on over here; I'll provide the snacks and we'll work out the troubles of the world over some clam dip. And she can do it too; she has managed to achieve the impossible. She is the eye of every conversation tornado. Her roots are solid and her branches are flexible; she is the reed that bends in the storm that takes out the mighty oak. And as mind-boggling as that is, that isn't even the most impressive thing about her.

My mom has perfect handwriting; small, clear, and tightly packed all over the page and onto the back of the card. Just looking at her handwriting brings you the potential joy of starting a new book. And what a new book it will be. Little novels, each one. And all just for you; an entire masterpiece created just for your eyes. Her rare Facebook status are poems about cardinals and sunsets and the endless space from her beautiful house on the hill. She once told me that she wanted to be a writer, like it was a long ago forgotten dream, which made me stare at her. Doesn't she know she already is one?

My mom is many things. She is reassuring and challenging all at once. She is strong and gentle in the same breath. She is the most generous person I know. The gifts she gives are always unique, personal, and wonderfully weird. She is curious, endlessly curious. She has started a blog and seems utterly undaunted by the fact that she keeps forgetting how to log in. She is undaunted by most things. She makes huge gourmet meals any time she pleases and the messes she makes in her kitchen are delightful because she doesn't care. She'll clean it later; right now she wants to make this 7 layer cake and gossip about this crazy thing she saw on the internet. She manages to give you her full attention and still never sit down. Every new action is fearless; she just goes for it. Because my mom has no desire to win. To be first. To be perfect. Life is way too interesting to be slowed down by awards and accolades; her secret seems to be her utter satisfaction with herself. With riding along the whirlwind of life from the bed of the pickup truck, rather than sedately strapped in the backseat. But that is not her biggest secret.

My mom always says that she believed in Santa far longer than her friends or siblings, and it totally shows. She has never lost her childness. Her playfulness. Her joy. And there is a wisdom there that nothing can touch. This is my mom's biggest secret, most impressive skill, and her lasting legacy. Her laughter. It is infectious and unstoppable. She taught me how to laugh, and even the most casual reader of this blog will tell you that took like a house on fire. Frankly, I try to never stop.

Look, life can suck. Stuff like cancer and school shooters and racism exist. I don't want to trivialize that. But I also don't want to saccharineize it either. La la la; I can't hear you and your unpleasantness. Awkward Women are not Pollyannas who just ignore the stuff we don't like. My mom is not like the mom in St. Elmo's Fire who whispers all the unpleasant words, like it will make them not be as bad. First of all, we talk loud in the Awkward family, so that wouldn't work. And second of all, my mom is more likely to make a snack, invite the issue into the middle of the room, and try to figure it out. Or at least try to make it less big. Laughter can reduce the size of just about anything, even when your birthday is in late August and your hay fever is acting up.

Basically, my mom is a steel magnolia and laughter through tears is her favorite emotion. She is also pretty fond of straight-up laughter too. Having a bad day and feeling like the worst mom in the world? Look, a chicken car! She could sit me down and lecture me about all my maternal gifts and how good I am and how my children are alive and fed and happy. But that takes too long and we Awkwards are impatient. Let's get to the part of the phone call where we are falling of chairs laughing because someone made a car into the shape of a chicken. A CHICKEN. She is a genius. My mom is a genius and she deserves a better birthday.

Now, I could wax poetic about my mom for another hour or 12. In fact, I do about once a month. Seriously, look at my past posts, the proof is there. But this post is missing something. I think this post needs the equivalent of a chicken car; more photos!!

Let's start things off with the one good birthday my mom had; our trip down south.
(There was also a good one around age 14 when she got a cat, 
but I seem to not have a picture of that.)
Here she is with Marvelous Mom enjoying Beale Street on our stop in Memphis. 
She was drinking water then, 
but by the evening we sampled some "swamp punch."
I'm surprised she remembers that birthday, to be honest. 

Here are some pictures of my mom when I was young. 
Young mom pictures are extremely precious because moms are usually taking the photos, so not a lot exist.
These are my favorites: 

Sigh. And I, of course, inherited my father's looks. 
I mean, look at her 70s Cher hair. So unfair.  

My mom loving a cat. 
On the rare occasion she is still, she has a cat near her. 

My family is awkward. I am fairly sure you are clear on that by now. 
This, of course, translates into awkward photos. 
Despite what is going on around her, my mom always soldiers on with a fabulous smile:

Giant zucchini or not, she is gonna give you a real smile. 
No fake smiles for her. 

In conclusion, my mom is amazing:


Mom, I know today blows. I am sorry about that. Just hang in there and eat some cake that you made, if your hay fever lets you taste it. 
Sometime in October we are gonna live it up. 
I am learning how to make "swamp punch." 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. the Kindergarten Meet and Greet

She has dealt with pregnancy, limited sleep, and potty training. She has fought valiantly against the Perfect Moms and their arsenal of judgey glares and organic food lectures. She daily wages battle against whining and sticky things. Toy clean-up and why-is-there-an-apple-core-under-the-couch still best her, but she soldiers on. Awkward Mom is determined to get the Supers to adulthood; that there will be therapy, and perhaps some heavy drinking, in that adulthood is kinda a foregone conclusion, but they are gonna get there. Today, we arrive at a huge milestone on this forced march to maturity. Today, 5 years of planning and hard work reach fruition. Today, Super Preschooler takes on a new mantle and forges forth on his educational path toward further awesomeness and greater spelling ability. Today, well, Awkward Mom threw up a little in her mouth and was awkward, making today no very different from most days.

I am leaning on this picnic table next to the sandbox, trying to look cool. I don't think it is working; Awkward Dad just asked me if something is wrong with my back. We are the first ones here, which is lame and totally over-eager. I don't know what to expect and I don't know what to do with my hands. Naturally, all my children have chosen this moment to be incredibly independent, so I have no one to camouflage my discomfort with. Super Preschooler (last post we will be calling him that!) is playing in the sand with Super Toddler, and Super Baby is being pushed in a Cozy Coupe by Awkward Dad. She is yelling to go faster. I wish stuff would slow down, personally.

This seemed so fun a month ago. "Oh! Super Preschooler will get to meet his class and teachers at the park near the school, which is also 2 blocks from our house. We will walk over all casual-like, like the earth-loving, relaxed people we want everyone to think we are, and everyone will love Super Preschooler and he will start his academic career on a high note that will never let up until his graduation from Harvard Medical School. What should I wear?"

Today, it seems less fun. No one had time to change, so we are all wearing various nerd-shirts and ripped up jean shorts. The heat and humidity decided to act up, so we are all sweaty when we finally make it to the park, 15 minutes early because I rushed everyone out of the house in my panic to be on time. We probably did have time to change; a fact that Awkward Dad keeps reminding me of, with dirty looks and gestures to the sweat marks on his SHIELD shirt. Oh crap, that's the one with the eagle-like thing on it that people sometimes think is a Nazi symbol. Why the heck didn't I let everyone change?! Super Preschooler has a black eye from our recent Ikea trip (post coming) and it has turned a frightening shade of green. I tried to hide it by pulling his hat down, but now he just looks seedy, with a black eye. Super Toddler and Super Baby both look dirty and raggy; like all toddlers look at 6pm on a summer Tuesday. Oh well, it's August, everyone is in the same boat, right?

Perfect Mom #1 is the first to arrive after us, clearly from work at some high-powered law firm or something; I can't remember ever owning heels that high, let alone walking like some runway model in them over park wood-chips. Her son is wearing a collared shirt, ironed shorts, and looks about 8 years old. She heads right for me, as I try to melt into the picnic table.

Perfect Mom: Hi! I am Perfect Mom. Are you the teacher? (Her skeptical gaze takes in my floppy sunhat, Captain America t-shirt, ripped jeans, and Chuck Taylors with a hole in the right one.)

Me: Nope. Just another mom. My son is over there.

Perfect Mom: Oh, is he the one eating sand?

Me: Ummm...well, he is mine too, but Super Preschooler is the one in Kindergarten. He is actually digging a hole over to the left.

Perfect Mom: I see. They aren't twins?

Me: No.

Perfect Mom: And he is 5? He is so small. Of course, Perfect Kindergartener here has always been on the high end of the growth chart. (Blindingly white smiles flashed by both of them)

Me: How nice for you.

Perfect Mom: Are you ready for all-day? I imagine it will free up your schedule to focus on your other child.

Me: Um, well, I actually have 2 other children.

Perfect Mom: Oh my goodness, aren't you ambitious? Must be a circus at your house!

Me: Yes, a little. But Super P. is actually going to half-day Kindergarten.

Perfect Mom: Oh. (Any welcome in her eyes goes dead and she starts scanning the playground. Other Perfect Moms have begun to arrive.) Will you excuse me? I see someone I know.

I sigh (I am not sure if in defeat or relief), and I resume holding up the picnic table. Awkward Dad has found a dad to talk to in that infuriatingly easy way that men have, and all the children are happily playing that screaming-running game that children at the park always play. The teachers finally arrive and pass out name tags for the children. It appears that the full-day and half-day children are all here; there are 26 full-day students and 7 half-day students. I begin the long process of finding the half-day parents by weeding through the throng and enduring, "Oh, so your child is in Begindergarten (That is what they call it; I'm not kidding), what an interesting choice."

I won't bore you with the details; it goes as you would expect. Basically, like a middle school dance. The end result of the pain is that Super P.'s classmates are a pair of twins with mega helicopter parents, 2 kids with Perfect Moms (one fairly garden-variety and one with movie star looks and stunning fashion sense), 1 lovely little boy with normal parents, and one that wasn't there, so I am holding judgement for the time being. It is gonna be a long school year, Readers.

Now, before you despair with, or for, me, I have one positive story. I am standing forlornly at one end of the park, after my semi-disastrous meeting with the helicopter parents of the twins, when Awkward Dad starts frantically waving to me. I meander over to see him in animated discussion with a very normal looking mom.

Normal Mom: I really think it is gonna be exciting to have new Star Wars movies. Disney has the money to do it right.

Awkward Dad: You are totally right. Awkward Mom, this is Normal Mom. She wanted to meet you.

Normal Mom: I spotted his SHIELD shirt and totally started scanning the park for his match. I knew it had to be you; I just love that vintage look that your Captain America shirt has. At least you guys know how to dress for the park; the heels on that woman over there should be illegal.

She morphs into Angel Mom at some point during her speech, and I can't quite think of anything worthy to say.

Angel/Normal Mom: This is my son, Normal Kindergartener. Who is yours?

Me: Oh, this is Super Preschooler, I mean, Kindergartener, here.

Super Kindergartener.: Hi.

Angel/Normal Mom: Hi, Super K. How are you doing?

Super K.: Good, I guess. (He is clinging to my leg and peering at her.)

Angel Mom: I love your Chewie shirt; your mom has the best taste in clothes. Do you like Star Wars?

Super K.: I love Star Wars, and I love Angry Birds Star Wars too! (He is still holding me, but he has come to the front on my leg.)

Angel Mom: Oh! I love to play that, so does Normal Kindergartener. Have you played Temple Run yet?

Super K.: No, what's that?

Angel Mom: Oh, it is so cool! (She pulls out her iPhone and shoots me an inquisitive look. I nod.) Look; here is what you do....

Normal K. comes over and they play for a couple minutes. Then, the boys run off, discussing strategy for the Hoth level of Angry Birds Star Wars. Suddenly, the heat disappears and the sunset makes everything a lovely reddish golden color.

Me: Thank you; I think you made his night.

Angel Mom: No prob. Awkward Dad tells me that you guys are doing Begindergarten. What a lameo name! But I wish we were doing that, it is such a smart idea to ease them in, you know. Hopefully, we will still see you guys around though.

Me: Yes, I hope so. I really really hope so!

Angel Mom: Now, let me tell you my theory how they should use Han and Leia's kids in the sequels. I swear to you that it isn't fan fictiony.

Angels walk among us, Readers. They truly do. 

It is Nightwing time! That magical time of year when everyone moves up a place in household structure around here and is given a new name to more accurately match their growing personalities and abilities. OK, that is obviously impossible, so I will just settle for accurately representing their ages. We present to you, the Awkward class of fall 2013:

Super Kindergartener; fiendishly smart
with rapidly growing gamer prowess
and extreme grumpy-face-making abilities.
A born leader with a tender side; he quietly helms the ship around here. 

Super Preschooler; charm itself
housed in a tiny blond being with devilish grins and angelic hair.
A wild child with a hippie soul;
he can be talked into any scheme and talk his way out of any trouble. 

Super Toddler; somehow both a delicate beauty and a stunning daredevil
with a boldness that knows no bounds
and an intelligence that has not chosen an allegiance to either good or bad yet. 
One to watch, that is for sure.  

Super Baby (currently going as Super Fetus);
his/her debut should be in late February. 
Identity currently unknown,
but nausea-producing thrusters appear to be set on high. 

Me and Awkward Dad. 
We think we are in change, 
but we are mostly just keeping the bugs at bay. 

Hope your bugs are at bay, Readers! We love the fall this side of the blog-o-verse and hope to have tales of school success, leaf levity, and Halloween hilarity really soon. Until then, enjoy those last couple days at the pool and have labor-less Labor Days! 

Back soon, same awkward time, same awkward channel! 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Awkward Mom and Rock Star Mom

We have more allies than the Avengers and the Justice League combined. Yes, those are different comic realities. Whatever; I'm Awkward Mom, I can crossover anytime I please. It is one of the only benefits of being awkward; complete and utter disregard for social rules.

Rock Star Mom is exactly that. Go look. Told ya. She is a working mom who whirls within her world like a Who guitar solo. She works full-time outside the home, raises 2 (soon to be 3) totally superhero children, and creates crafty masterpieces like a house on fire. She is also insanely funny and the mom who gave me the courage to feed the Supers McDonald's at the park instead of huddled down in the car, like usual. Rock Star Mom is fearless. She laughs in the face of the Perfect Moms. It is awe-inspiring, and I really don't think she is afraid of anything, with the exception of splinters. There is nothing beyond her scope; she homeschooled safety town, for goodness sake. You want Rock Star Mom fronting your band, and I'll be a backup singer to her any day of the week. Rock on, Rock Star Mom. Rock on!

We have added several new blogging allies over here on Awkward Mom. So many wonderful moms are drinking the Kool-Aid....I mean, joining the Revolution! Look for some intros super soon, but if you can't wait, feel free to peek over there in Awkward Allies. You won't be sorry!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. The Potential Suitor Quiz

We are pleased to report that Awkward Mom not only defeated her writer's block and insecurity villains; she drop-kicked them into another dimension. It only took some solid awkward living and a week-long summer binge. We have tales of the pool, 4 new parks, Greenfield Village, the zoo, and Super Preschooler's Kindergarten meet-and-greet. This last adventure was particularly awkward, as one might expect, and will lead us to an upcoming graduation/renaming ceremony around here. But that can all wait until next week; Awkward Mom has one last bit of awkward advice for the Supers. 

My beauties-

One day you might want to marry someone. No pressure if you don't want to marry anyone, but if you do, here is a little quiz that might help you determine the marriageability of your potential suitors.

1. Who is your favorite Beatle?

  • John  (Acceptable, but expect some ego issues and an activist phase.)
  • Paul (Acceptable, but expect a vegetarian and/or drug phase.)
  • George (This is the correct answer.)
  • Ringo (This person lies for shock value or likes strays; expect to live with 16 rescue animals.)
  • I don't like bugs. (Run as fast as you can.) 
2. Who are Luke and Leia? 
  • Weren't they in Star Wars? (Acceptable, but iffy. Keep on eye on it.)
  • I don't know who Leia is, but Luke the Evangelist wrote the third gospel and is the patron saint of artists and physicians. (Go for it if you never want your Sundays or Wednesday nights free again, but get him/her over to Wookieepedia stat.)
  • No idea. (Run away.)
  • Are you referring to the characters Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa? Or are you referencing the musical theme called Luke and Leia that John Williams composed and is heard during their shared screen time and makes an appearance in the LEGO Star Wars game? (MARRY THIS PERSON. NOW.) 
3. What kind of music do you like?
  • Names a genre of music. Any genre. (Acceptable, life is full of variety.)
  • I don't really like music. (No; that is just weird.)
4. What is your favorite book?
  • I don't have one. 
    • Follow-up question; "Is that because A.) you have so many you love or B.) because you can't read?" 
    • A.) Obviously, this is acceptable. 
    • B.) This person is sad and not for you, my sweet.
  • I really prefer T.V. (Nope.)
  • Catcher in the Rye. (Kinda predictable, don't you think?) 
  • To Kill a Mockingbird (Acceptable.)
  • Some fantasy novel you have never heard of. (Acceptability here depends on how this is presented; if he/she offers to share it, cool. If he/she is trolling to prove he/she is in a more elusive and exclusive nerd subgroup than you, walk away. You have been raised by nerds and you are better than that.) 
  • This fan fiction site I visit. (No. Nothing against it, but fan fiction is not a book. I don't care how long some of them are or how seriously J.K. Rowling takes them.)
  • The Bible (OK, but see the second answer to number 2 here. Gonna have to clear your schedule a little for this one.)
  • Frank Miller era Daredevil (Quite acceptable.)
  • Frank Miller era Batman (Equally acceptable.) 
  • Any other book that wasn't written by E.L. James or Stephenie Meyer. (Acceptable.) 
5. What is your favorite movie?
  • I don't like movies. (Nope.)
  • Scarface. (If this person is a 19 year old boy, this might just be a phase. You can hold on and see, if you have time to kill. If not, no. Interesting in a genre way, but not favorite movie material; I guess, unless potential suitor is a drug-dealer, but then no because of that.)
  • That one with Adam Sandler...(Cut that off right away. No.)
  • Gone with the Wind. (Overrated and questionable. Find out why. If this person relates to Scarlett or thinks slavery wasn't that bad, that is a clear No. If this person merely respects Selznick's epics or the movie wizardry that Victor Fleming pulled off, then OK. Broaden their horizons with a little John Ford and force them to watch Doctor Zhivago, but OK.) 
  • Anything by Martin Scorsese. (Quite acceptable.)
  • The Godfather. (Make sure he/she doesn't mean the third one, and if not, acceptable.)
  • Anything by Hitchcock. (Acceptable but watch it. Too much love for Psycho or Strangers on a Train is a giant red flag you should not ignore.) 
  • Wizard of Oz. (Quirky, but very acceptable.) 
  • Metropolis. (OH! Someone found a Fritz Lang fan! Is he/she in film school? If so, this might be a phase, but it is a fine one. If this person is not in film school and knows who Fritz Lang is, set the date for that wedding RIGHT NOW.)
  • This one I saw on the Hallmark channel last week. (Nope. Don't care how cute it was, just nope.)
  • Names a movie you have never heard of. (Intriguing, as you were raised by people who check before they check their email. Make sure this intriguing film isn't a porno and then ask to view it. At this point, I'll leave the acceptability up to the solid film judgement I have nurtured in you since your birth.)  
  • The one I made myself. (Nope. It is probably a porno. And if not, that is just braggy and gross anyway.)

6. Who is the president?
  • No idea. (Run away.)
  • You mean of my frat? (Run away.)
  • Names the president. (This is the correct answer.)
  • Names the president and then confesses to not voting for her. 
    • Follow-up question: Did you A.) not vote at all, B.) just disagree with her stance on [insert your more important political issue], or C.) have issues with her foreign policy platform?
    • A.) No. Civic duty is important. 
    • B.) If he/she is on the opposite side of your pet issue, it is workable, but think about it. I want to enjoy my future Thanksgivings.
    • C.) No biggie. No one understands foreign policy anyway. 
7. Do you like animals?
  • No. (No way. Never trust a person who doesn't like animals.)
  • Yes. (This is the only correct answer.)
8. Who is your favorite Muppet? (This is the most important question on here, my lovelies.) 
  • Kermit. (Acceptable; you have found a peacekeeper.) 
  • Miss Piggy. (Acceptable; watch it though, you have a diva on your hands.)
  • Gonzo. (Acceptable; your parties are about to get 10 times more fun.)
  • Fozzie. (Acceptable; you have just found a true blue friend, not afraid to be vulnerable. Beware the bad jokes though.)
  • Animal. (Acceptable; your parties are about to get 100 times more fun. Invest in some more insurance.)
  • Dr. Teeth or any of the Electric Mayhem. (Acceptable. Rock on, you have found a musician. Don't let the band practice at your place unless they are actually good.)
  • The Swedish Chef. (Acceptable. Maybe he/she likes to cook! Score.)
  • Names one from Sesame Street. (OK, but followup with A.) Have you just never seen the Muppet Show? or B.) does Ernie really speaks to you or C.) is Cookie Monster your spirit animal? 
    • A.) Bring he/she over here; a history lesson is in order.
    • B.) That is totally acceptable.
    • C.) That is more than acceptable.
  • Names a Muppet not in the main core of Muppets. (YES, YES, YES. Doesn't matter who it is, they are all awesome and this person knows the Muppets as well as you do. Set the date.)
  • What are Muppets? (Take a moment to pity him or her, and then run for the hills.) 
Hope this helps, you guys! Know that if you love your future spouse, I will love your future spouse. That said, if they fail any of these, Thanksgiving is going to be uncomfortable. Just saying. 

I love you,
Awkward Mom 

Next week, we return you to your regularly scheduled awkwardness. It's good to be back! 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Out Being Awkward!

So, it appears that all my nefarious plans were for naught and Awkward Dad will not be bullied into writing a post. He keeps citing a little thing called "medical residency." Must be one hell of a Super Villain to keep a hero like Awkward Dad so occupied. So, no idea when, or if, the baseball tale is going to appear.

Not too sure when our next tale is going to appear, full-stop. Could be pregnancy. Could be end of summer freak-out. Could be writer's block. Could be really not sure what the purpose of this blog is and if it should even continue. Could be a horde of these villains, but they are setting up camp here in Awkward Manor. Not sure if the battle is gonna be over soon or morph into out and out war, but, either way, Awkward Mom is pretty tapped out of tales right now. Therefore, we are gonna focus on some awkward living for awhile. Back when we are back; stay awkward, Friends!

Stay Awkward! 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Comic Reruns

If he would just write about the baseball outing, this would all stop. I promise you, he is doing this to himself....

Things are getting decidedly less superheroy than usual around here, with all this semi-serious parenting advice. Just want to remind you all that I am actually decidedly nerdtastic and not afraid to write about it. Can't forget one's roots. Plus, maybe an old post entirely about how Awkward Dad resembles the portly sidekick to a 2nd tier Marvel superhero is just what he needs to kick it into gear and actually WRITE HIS POST ALREADY.

Flashback Friday presents: Awkward Mom vs. Nerd Love. Enjoy!

If this doesn't work, the old photos are coming out. I am done playing around....

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Random Awkward Advice -battle #2

My exquisite children-

I hope you fail.

I hope you fall down. I hope you mess up; loudly and publicly.

I hope you snort milk out your nose in front of your crush and send someone really terrible, misspelled, poetry. I hope you play Stairway to Heaven, out of tune, at a college party; preferably after dying your hair some atrocious shade of orange.

I hope you have a totally weird interest and tell everyone about it. I hope your awkward phase happens during middle school or maybe just never ends.

I hope you fail a couple tests. I hope you play sports that you are awful at. I hope your heart gets broken more than once.

I hope you flame out a couple times. And I don't mean like sputter out; I mean full-on, action-movie-style, fireball taking out a bridge, spectacular flame-outs.

Fail bold and fail young, and then maybe you won't waste so much of your life thinking that it has to be perfect. Or that it is about winning or getting somewhere first. There is no prize in life. There are millions and millions of them, but you aren't going to find any if you are on the bullet-train to ambitious perfection town.

If you take the scenic route, you will have time to:

Find a friend. Or five. Or a ton. Just not the popular kids. Or them too, if you must, but not because they are popular. Pick friends who make you laugh so hard that you fall off the couch. Pick friends who like to eat. Pick friends who know what Star Wars is. Pick friends who will have your back in a fight, or at least have some basic medical knowledge. Pick friends who tell you that those pants do indeed make your butt look big. Pick friends always ready for an adventure. Pick friends who think starting a band or building a time machine sounds like a great use of time. Pick friends who are gonna love you, fiercely, in all your wackiness, and then love them, fiercely, right back.

Read a book. Or five thousand. We aren't Stark Enterprises over here, my Angels; you aren't going to Europe or the Sahara anytime soon. But I got a library card with your name on it; learn to read and you can go anywhere. Do anything. Be anyone.

Watch a movie. Or five thousand. Oh, the movies you will see! Weird French ones. Riotous Bollywood ones. Shoot 'em up American ones. Thought-provoking Swedish ones that no one understands. Some of them will even be R-rated!

Have a snack. Maybe you'll love to cook. Maybe you'll love to eat. Maybe you'll be a weirdo who likes to clean-up. Who am I to judge? But the food you will discover? Glorious! The food that exists will boggle your mind and delight your palate. You can eat it with those friends you made; endless dinners with bottles of wine (you'll drink at some point, and it will be fun and moderate, of course), with jokes and stories and so much love. You can discuss the movie you just saw or the books you are reading or the wonderful adventures you are having over here, not in ambitious perfection town.

Watch the sunset. Occasionally get up early and watch the sunrise. Stroll through fall leaves. Walk in the rain. Build a snowman. Swim in the ocean. Sleep in. Stay up late. Snuggle any animal that lets you. Travel. Explore. Help. Share. Learn. Grow. Kiss. Hug. Love. Cry. Yell. And Laugh. Laugh a lot. No one ever got to the end of life and said, "Man, I laughed entirely too much."

I am not gonna sugar-coat this, my Pretties. You are gonna do a ton of things that the world is going to look at and say, "By Jove, that is amazing!" They will be right. Those will be some amazing things. However, and here is the really amazing part, those amazing things? Those will be the least amazing things that you ever do.

Live bold, Children. Fail a ton!

I love you,
Awkward Mom

Share horrifying pictures of yourself on the internet. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Random Awkward Advice

Hey Readers, while we are waiting for Awkward Dad and his ballad of blazing baseballs, why don't we take a peek inside Awkward Mom's head? That'll be fun and not scary at all, right?

My darling children-

Today I am filled with an unfocused, yet desperate, need to tell you everything that you might need to know to make your way in the world. Maybe it is the urgency of fall in the air or the school supply sales that I have blatantly been ignoring, but something is whispering in my ear that time is of the essence. Therefore, here is a completely random list of things you might need to know. You can blatantly ignore it, if you want to.

1. Grammar is very important. You need not overuse semi-colons like your mother, but at least understand the basics of commas. Let's eat, Grandma is an entirely different sentiment than Let's eat Grandma. Later, we'll get to the difference between there, their, and they're. You're and your. Then and than. Mastery of these differences will be required if I am ever going to allow you to use the internet.

2. Speaking of the internet, or whatever has replaced it in 2023, it isn't life. It is a ton of fun and I want you to use it to make plans with your friends, share pictures, and get ideas for stuff you might wanna do in the real world. But please, don't live there.

3. Speaking of living, I know that you will someday live somewhere else. Not with me. I don't care if this is an apartment, house, tent, commune, or igloo; just please make your bed occasionally and screen roommates carefully. Anyone saying that they live an "alternative" lifestyle can be discounted straight away for being pompous and vague.

4. Speaking of vague, don't be. I don't care what you are into or interested in; embrace it. Make model trains, paint china dishes, start a screamo band, garden, act, sew stuff, collect Bakelite jewelry, play Dungeons and Dragons, learn the harpsichord, knit-bomb parking meters,  build micro-houses, or do all of those things. The world is a fascinating place, full of fascinating hobbies and fascinating people who also like those things. Once your (not you're) grammar is up to snuff, you can use the internet to find them and further your non-vague interests.

5. Speaking of interests, have some. A handful, like me. Or a ton, like your father. That's up to you and your ambition. Just find some other things you like that aren't your job.

6. Speaking of jobs, I don't care what you end up doing for a living. OK, strike that. I will not be terribly pleased with careers in the drug or stripping industries. Whatever you chose to do for money, please realize that it does not define you, limit you, or owe you happiness. Work to live, please don't live to work. Life is too much fun.

7. Speaking of fun, have a lot of it! Life is short.

8. Speaking of short; yeah, sorry about that. My height genes seem to be pretty strong. Know this; you will never have to duck going through a doorway! And speaking of life being short, it really isn't. OK, well, it is. People will say to you all the time that life is short and to not waste it. This is technically true. The years will start to fly at some point. However, within those years, there are many many days and many hours. Enough for anything you might want to do; even take a bunch of naps, occasionally stare off into the middle-distance, or daydreaming at length. There is time; no reason to live like you are in a race.

9. Speaking of races, no pressure to win. Seriously. Winning the race can be fun, but if you hang out in the middle someplace with a friend, you will probably laugh more and enjoy the sights around you. Of course, this is a metaphor; if you are in cross-country or something, I suppose you should try to win. I guess. Maybe. You know what? Sports advice is gonna have to come from your father.

10. Speaking of your father, he is amazing. Meeting and marrying him is the best thing that I ever did. Obviously, because it enabled the birth of all of you, but also because life is a lot of fun with a best friend to share your joys and your sorrows. You can easily have this without marriage, so if that isn't your path, fear not. If it is your path, be patient. I am not discounting the possibility that one of you might find a Topanga, but it is more likely that you will date other folks before finding the one. This will be fun, and this will be heartbreaking. And I will be there during the entire process if you need a snack.

11. Speaking of snacks, that sounds lovely. Back soon with more advice!

I love you,
Awkward Mom

My plan is to do this until Awkward Dad writes his blog entry, so you might wanna get on the horn and tell him to hurry up! Kisses! 

12. Speaking of giant pretend hot dog buns, 
with condiment pillows;
if you find one, you are gonna want to pretend to be a hot dog. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Vacation Bible School

Oughta be Hang-out-for-a-week-with-a-million-children-doing-crafts-and-singing-a-lot-of-songs-about-Jesus, but I guess that doesn't really fit on a t-shirt.

So, I am lurking in the back of the church, straining to hear St. Paul (a tall 8th grade boy in a tunic and fake beard) explain something about patient love, over the howls of the 5 toddlers that are racing each other around me; it looks uncomfortably like some pagan rite conducted by face-painted, war-whooping Celts. (An hour ago, they got into some markers.) The lucky nursery volunteers are cooing to babies and snuggling little ones giving in to their naps. Since I am nice (or more likely insane), I agreed to take on the older members of our tribe for this closing ceremony of Vacation Bible School; after all, 2 of them are mine. I can see the other volunteers smirking from here.

It has been one heck of a week and my superpowers are at an all time low. It is summer and being somewhere at 8:45am (dressed!) is a little beyond me on a good day. But I do it for a whole week, and we even walk to church most days, making me feel very virtuous and mother-earthy. I don't exactly retain that feeling through a morning of dealing with 15 children under the age of 3; one of whom is always crying. I am convinced they take shifts. Of course, dealing with the little children is nothing compared to dealing with the big ones. A dozen 13-15-year-old-girl volunteers. Oy. Around noon, I am cried and gossiped out and just want to go home and collapse on the couch, letting Netflix parent for me while I take a nap. But then there is the virtuous and mother-earthy walk home, with whichever friend that Super Preschooler has conned into coming over for a playdate. No slothful Netflix afternoons this week; I even think I allow playdough one day. Shudder.

Super Fetus is pretty nice for the most part, but Thursday he/she kicks up such a fuss that I spend most of the morning hugging a toilet in the grade school bathroom, explaining to anyone who comes in that, "No, I don't have the flu; I am just pregnant." Most moms are sweet, most of the teenagers skeptical and full of "I-know-you-are-really-hung-over" winks, and most of the little girls flat out don't believe me. "You don't have a belly. You aren't pregnant." Awkward Dad has to come during lunch to take me, the Supers, and Super Preschooler's playdate guest home. I sleep the rest of the day, and Awkward Dad blows off a lecture he didn't want to go to anyway. Why every afternoon this week can't be like that is beyond me.

Here we are on Friday; the joyous and spiritually enriching conclusion to Vacation Bible School, which I realized far too late was not, in fact, a vacation. I halfheartedly shush the rampaging toddler-Celts, when I catch the eye of one of my two fellow adult nursery volunteers. They are very lovely, very sweet women, who are clearly gifted in many areas, just not the humor or tolerance-for-loud-and-screaming-children-in-church areas. (Side note: all my jokes this week bomb with them, it is quite disappointing and leads me to question my standard form of adult interaction, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Not every encounter calls for a movie quote or a pun.)They each beatifically cradle a baby and more than a little resemble the portrait of Mary that is hanging to the left of them. I don't want to know what saint I most resemble right now, but I would lay odds that it is one of the hermit/eating bugs in the wilderness ones. I try to scoop Super Baby up in an attempt to appear more holy and put together, but she kicks me and lets out a banshee cry that has 1/3 of the church spinning around, despite the sound-proof glass separating us here in the vestibule. I sigh, but put her down to continue her antics unmolested.

I can't focus on the song everyone is singing about peace. First of all, the toddlers have located the water fountain, and, inexplicably, it appears that one of them is tall enough to operate it. And secondly, I know for a fact that Super Preschooler, somewhere up there in the front of an undulating mass of enthusiastic blue-shirted children and volunteers cheerfully praising Jesus, is sorta doing the arm movements, while brazenly refusing to sing. It's what he did last year, and I see no reason why his nonconformist ways should have altered too much since then. Now, his teacher this year seems way more relaxed than last year's, so hopefully, I am not in for a lecture about how my son is "clearly very unhappy," "not good at participation,"  and "might benefit from some therapy." Hopefully. I have my "he just gets embarrassed singing in public" speech ready, just in case.

Why does Super Preschooler have to be so gosh-darn stubborn? Just once I would like to have the joiner- child, the unquestioning-child, the happy-just-to-be-here-child. The one who doesn't get in trouble for talking. The one who doesn't announce that "church is boring" with a sigh loud enough to be heard on the alter. The sweet one. The well-behaved one. That elusive angel child. The child eager to please. The just-sing-the-silly-song-for-pete's-sake child. Enough of this being your own unique flower nonsense; I want Super Preschooler to just fit in already!

Except I totally don't. And as I stand there, thinking "Why isn't this over already? And why do all Lite Christian Rock songs sound the same?" I am painfully aware of where some of his bold awkwardness comes from and why it might be so hard for him to just be a joiner. I want to join sometimes. I want to just fit in with my fellow nursery volunteers; snuggle babies, talk about organic blueberries, and discuss the intricacies of potty training. And then, I promptly want to vomit. Which could just be first trimester talking, but I kinda doubt it. I don't really want to fit it, I just want to be accepted as I am. I am fairly sure those are 2 separate things, and I am also fairly sure it is probably the goal of anyone living in a society.

I ponder this as I watch Super Toddler carefully carry water from the water fountain to the holy water font and dump it in. As I watch Super Baby happily carry on a conversation with a stained glass St. Francis. As I scan the crowd of bobbing and nodding heads for the one tiny blond still one that is staring out the window, watching the dust motes dance in the sunbeams. So delightfully, so maddeningly, unique. Flowers as rare and unusual as swamp-dwelling orchids in a sea of beautiful roses and adorable daisies. Is this gonna cause problems? Bumps on their long journey to adulthood? Some rather uncomfortable parent-teacher conferences? You betcha. And every awful, awkward, eventually adolescent moment will be totally worth it, in order to see the utterly gorgeous, stunningly self-assured, wonderfully compassionate, swamp-orchid adults that they become. This fourth one too; the one stirring within me, making me want to hurl into the offering basket in the corner. I wanna live long enough to see all four of them being so totally them, merrily dancing to their own beat. Even if that beat turns out to be bland Lite-Christian-Rock. So, that is what I ask for in the back of the church vestibule, surrounded by romping children and glaring moms. Somehow, I think God hears me despite the noise. And somehow, I think He approves.

I know. I know. It isn't a baseball game post penned by Awkward Dad. I am working on him, but last time he was pestered, he just said, "Well, if you are in that much of a rush, you can write it yourself." Not wanting to subject you guys to that, I suppose we will just have to wait. No matter; there is always much awkwardness to be had and regale you with! Stay tuned! 

Not being a joiner, and fairly bad at participation too, 
I have no picture from Vacation Bible School. 
So, instead, here is a picture of Super Baby, being her rebel self. 
It is kinda holy.
You know; in "Holy Cats, could she be any cuter?!" way.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Four

So, ummm, first, some news:

Hello Super Fetus! 

Yep, starting in late winter, if all goes well, Awkward Mom will awkwardly be parenting four children. Four. Needless to say, she has some thoughts about this. 

I feel like four is the gateway child. When you are expecting your first, people say Congratulations! And I think they mean, Congratulations! When you are expecting number two, people say Congratulations! And I think they mean, Cool; siblings can be fun! When you are expecting number three, people say Congratulations! And I think they mean, That's a juggle, but a nice size family. Now, when you are expecting number four, people still say Congratulations! But I think they mean Well, that is one way to live your life. Maybe they think I am insane. Or greedy. Or have an unholy desire to change diapers for the rest of my life. I don't really know what it is, but something changes at four. 

Of course stuff changes, Awkward Mom! You will have another child! Well, yes, things will change internally around here, but how much really? I mean, we are already out-numbered. We are already in a mini-van, using the second row of seats for more than storage. We already don't fit in a restaurant booth. We have toys of every age and clothes of every size. I can change a diaper in 7 seconds flat on the hood of a car. No, I have no idea who is going to show up and what he/she is going to be like and what unique and special cares he/she is going to need, but that is more exciting than anything. Plus, I am pretty sure I can handle it. Awkwardly, no doubt, but handle it nonetheless. No, the changes that I am talking about are how people look at our family and the stuff they say.

Now, I don't think four is too many or too odd. There are plenty of families of four children. My father is one of four. Wonderful Mom is one of four, and the Stupendous Sewer is a mom of four. I know tons of moms of four; I can't throw a rock without hitting a family of four kids, if I were in the habit of hurling rocks at even numbers. Four is a nice number; you are still able to count your kids on one hand and fit at a normal-sized kitchen table. But for some reason, it seems to be the number when people start to look at you askance, like you haven't quite lost your mind but you might be on your way. Everyone I have told so far are people who know and love me, so there have been few negative comments. Those will start when I start to show, and if the Super-Baby-gestation-comments, and those I get now when I am anywhere with all three, are anything to go on, I am in for a wild judgmental ride. So, I am thinking of printing out the following list and just handing it to folks:

There are 4 reasons I am having a fourth baby (we will get to them in a minute), but here are the 15 NOT reasons:

1. Because the pope told me to.

2. Because I have lost my mind.

3. Because I am trying to make a statement deeper or more political than "I like my children."

4. Because being pregnant is a picnic with rainbows and chocolate kisses.

5. Because I am secretly Amish.

6. Because I love the smell of dirty diaper in the morning. 

7. Because I am trying to get a TLC reality show. 

8. Because someone has got to work the land.

9. Because I enjoy being pitied and given bizarre advice in the frozen food aisle at the grocery store. 

10. Because they are cheaper by the dozen.

11. Because I am shooting for a baseball team.

12. Because the mom with the most children wins a prize.

13. Because I have thoughts and feelings, other than live your life and I love you, about what you do with your body, the size of your family, or who lives in your house.

14. Because I am trying to get a child movie star that will take care of me in my old age.

15. Because it is anyone's business or something that random strangers in the street should even care about. 

Now that we have that out of the way, here are the 4 reasons why I am having a fourth child:

1. Have you seen our children? We make some adorable children and I enjoy beautifying the world anyway I can:

2. The Awkward Family Band needs a bass player. 

3. We are trying to get a Johnny Storm for our Fantastic Four. 

4. Most importantly, I want this baby. This new fabulous person that will be born into a family brimming with love and noise and excitement and awkwardly good intentions. A family full of people who can't wait to meet him/her out-utero and count all his/her little toes and dream and plan for the gloriously unique child, and then adult, he/she will become, shattering even the most daring dreams that we can come up. That's it, I want this child. Like I have wanted every one that has come before him/her. And like I will want every one that will come after him/her. 

Upon reflection, she may very well be trying to get that reality show on TLC.....

Monday, August 5, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Teaser Post

Or strong-arming post, if you will. 

OK, here is the deal. Sometime last Wednesday, Awkward Dad informs me that he wants to jet off to Milwaukee, entire family in tow, for a Brewers baseball game on Saturday night. (Awkward Uncle is a huge fan and lured him there, I am sure of it.) This involves unexpected hotel expenses, way too much eating out, 10-12 hours of driving over a 24 hour period, and nothing that I was planning for the weekend. It also involves Awkward Dad taking 2 preschoolers to a night game after a 6 hour car ride while I entertain 1 toddler in a hotel room with 3 Slim Jims, a pizza, and HBO. I debate this incredibly ill-advised plan for a couple days and then tell him, "Fine. On one condition."

On the condition that he blog about it upon our return.

He willingly agrees to that, only to try to weasel out of it on the way home. "Oh, it wasn't that interesting." "Oh, I doubt people will want to hear about it." "Oh, I can't write as well as you." Oh No, is what I say! You promised. You are guest blogging. And no far off day in the future, my friend. This week.

Side with me, Readers. Don't you want to hear more about this:

Am I right? 
I'm right. 
Awkward Gold right there.....

Friday, August 2, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Legacies

My Children-

By now you have figured out that I did not gift you with height. If any of you are basketball players, then they have changed the rules significantly. There are many other things that I failed to pass on to you. In no particular order:

1. Grace.
2. Self-control around cheese.
3. Self-control around most foods.
4. Drawing ability.
5. Singing ability.
6. Most of the creative abilities.
7. Smarts; book and street.
8. Strong cheekbones.
9. Any sort of spelling knowledge.
10. Skin that tans.
11. Perfect vision.
12. The restraint to stop talking once in awhile.
13. A strong sense of rhythm.
14. Flair.
15. The desire to put down the book.
16. Culinary skills of any kind.
17. Athletic ability.
18. Coordination.
19. That seamless way that some people can fit into any situation without sticking out and looking weird and awkward and like they are a 13-years-old at a mixer with no one to dance with.
20. The sense to end embarrassing lists before #20.

Now, thankfully, your father's genes cancel a lot of this out, and your own magical abilities to make amazing creations out of little to nothing will take care of the rest, ensuring you all happy lives doing earth-changing things as easily as you will change tires. (another skill I did not pass on to you.) Sometimes I wonder what my purpose in your lives is. I mean, OK, so I got you here more or less on my own, with an early contribution from your father. I feed you. I help you dress on occasion. I change the Netflix channel. I drive you around. I prepare you to leave me. But again, you are all doing so much of that yourselves. I want to arm you for the big world, but as the above list states, I don't have a lot to arm you with. But maybe if I look hard, you know, like really search under the couch and stuff, I can find a few things. OK, I'll try. Here, take this with you:

1. Passion; unfocused or not, it still propels.
2. A delight for what the world has to offer.
3. A delight for all the people the world contains; weird or not, they will always make sure you are entertained.
4. The willingness to look foolish. It is always worth it.
5. The willingness to try.
6. An appreciation for artists and all the beauty they create; art isn't art without someone to look at it.
7. Endless curiosity.
8. Kindness.
9. The knowledge that falling down isn't the end of the world.
10. Humility.
11. Compassion.
12. Knowing that looking cool is a waste of time and usually gets in the way of having fun.
13. Not being so self-conscious; everyone is worrying about their own stuff and not looking at you. I promise.
14. Flexibility. (No, I don't mean the physical kind.)
15. The lack of desire to put down the book.
16. A willingness to taste anything; trust me, the green stuff is great.
17. Knowing how to be a great friend.
18. Collaboration.
19. An understanding of how it feels to be left out and different and awkward, so that you will be the one to walk across that room and ask that other odd soul to dance. (It is always worth it.)
20. The sense that you are you; flawed, human, totally and completely lovable.

I am sorry and you are welcome.

I love you,
Awkward Mom

OK, I might have given you the tiniest bit of flair.