Thursday, October 8, 2015

Off being Awkward! (For reals)

Hey, True Believers! Just wanted to let you all know that we are off being awkward. Like really far off. Like on the other side of the forest. Like 8 more analogies but I'm tired and the thesaurus is all the way across the room. So, mostly, like I am probably gonna take a big ol' break from blogging off. I kinda have been, all unofficial-like, but I thought it might be nice to tell you all that. Not that I think you are all dying for my next post or something. It's just that we've all kinda been on this journey together. This awkward, ambling, awesome, and astonishing journey. And I don't want to leave you all just hanging out in the middle of the forest, wondering when I am going to come back. I don't know if I'm coming back. There's a village over here, past the trees, and it's nice and lively and warm. I think I am gonna stay over here for awhile, out of the dark internet forest.

Be assured, it's nothing dramatic or exciting. It's just feels like it's time to be finished with this. Maybe it was an Ann Arbor thing. Maybe losing those As just knocked my alliteration game off and nothing will bring it back. Plus, I think I might be losing my awkward touch. I didn't trip once at pick-up yesterday and I actually made dinner last night. No smoke alarms, either. I know, right? Crazy.

Whatever it is, I just need to stop doing this right now and I wanted to let you know that and tell you that I don't think I would have gotten through those wild early parenting years without you all. I've never been a lone wolf superhero, always needed to be part of a team. So, thanks for being part of my team!

Now, don't be sad and please remember that comic book goodbyes aren't forever. No one ever dies in the comics; there are plenty of Lazarus Pits, magic, loopholes, made-up science, and selective memory just strewn all about the place. Give us a couple years, an inker we like, and a story line that warrants it, and we'll be back. Awkwardier than ever! (We're gonna brush up on our grammar before we come back though. No worries.)

See ya round the park, Readers!
I'm always happy to share my snacks!
And, if I really like you, my gossip!  

I'm not gonna take this blog down. I'm gonna leave it up like boxes and boxes of back issues. You know, for nostalgia trips and to shame me into eventually finishing all four of those baby books. So, feel free to poke around if you like awkward antics and adventures. And let's be real, everybody likes those. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Awkward Mom vs. Pity

Dear Moms shooting me wary and pitying looks as my child throws the mother of all fits in the hallway-

Believe me, I get it. I really get it. I know that you don't know where to look, how to look, if to look. I know you aren't quite sure what to do with your hands, because they are aching to reach out to me and you think you shouldn't. I know that you think our unfamiliarity means I don't want your help or smiles. You are wrong. I want both. What I don't want it your pity. That I don't want. Keep your pity.

If anyone is going to be handing out pity, I'll be me. If you decide to give me nothing but pity from your perch up there in the my-child-would-never-behave-like-that clouds, then you are the one who needs the pity.

Because my child is amazing.

Because I am amazing.

Because we are some of the most amazing people you could ever meet and befriend, and you are missing the opportunity of a lifetime if you do not become friends with us right now.

Doesn't cost a lot, just a smile. The real kind. Actual compassion. A nod of understanding. A flash of connection. A brief word. An I've-been-there-too. An It'll-all-be-alright. A my-name's-Rumpelstilskin-what's-yours? That's it, and we're buddies for life.

Because we're life-buddy type of people. We're not fake. We're not fair weather. We're true and strong and here for you when times are tough and someone's throwing a fit in the hallway.

We're amazing. Truly amazing. Utterly amazing. Truly and utterly amazing. And in no need of pity. Keep that and give me your hand.

Anytime you are ready,
Awkward Mom

Truly and utterly amazing. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Awkward Mom vs. Kindergarten

When the principal calls you three times and school has only been in session for a week and a half, that's awkward. 

Have you guys met Super Kindergartener? Here he is:

He's awesome. And wonderful. And thoughtful. And creative. And unique. And magical. And hilarious. And sweet. And imaginative. And kind. And strong. And smart. And all around fabulous.

He is also ill-named, because he is no longer going to be in Kindergarten.

After three phone calls from the principal, numerous melt-downs, 2 flat-out refusals to go to gym, countless tears (mine, his, and, I assume, the teacher's), and a week and a half, we have all come to the conclusion that Super Kindergartener is not ready for Kindergarten and would be much happier in preschool. So, that is what we are doing. As of tomorrow, Super Kindergartener goes back to being Super Preschooler. Only this time, it's all week, in the afternoons. It is a great solution and everyone is thinking this will help him ease into a full school day for next year or even later this school year, perhaps. Neat, tidy, and everyone's happy, especially Invisible Grandpa, Super Preschooler's imaginary friend, who doesn't much care for all-day school either and refused to attend with him. Happy happy.

So, why can't I stop crying?

Because they rejected my baby.

Now, I need say that, of course, no one rejected anyone and no one was in any way cruel or dismissive or anything but caring, as we sought a solution to Super Preschooler's obvious discomfort and frustration. I know that. I just wish someone would explain it to my heart.

The crap going down in there is downright cruel, dismissive, and anything but caring. Not towards the teachers, they did exactly what they were supposed to do. Not towards Super Preschooler, he did exactly what he was supposed to do. But me? I don't know. That's where my train goes off the tracks. That's where my Inner Voice is saying, "This is because I ate lunch meat that one time when I was 4 months along with him. This is because I didn't breast feed. This is because he didn't talk right away and I just let him take his time. This is because he walked late and I thought the physical therapy was premature. This is because I didn't do those math flashcards. This is because we have too many children. This is because I don't like to cook dinner. This is because we moved. This is because I didn't get him into therapy when his imaginary friends showed up. This is because of me. This is my fault. This is because I am a terrible mother."

Yeah. So, that's been going on since this morning when I went and picked him up and he smiled up at me and said "oh, thank goodness you are here. I was missing you a ton." And I took him into my arms and told him that he didn't have to miss me as much any more because we were changing our schedules and he was gonna eat lunch with me every day and then I took him to his new classroom down the hall and we met his new teacher and they played with markers for a little bit while I filled out all the new paperwork. And then I took him home and we ate lunch and watched Jake and the Pirates and now he is playing dinosaurs with his sister while I mentally abuse myself for having my child's best interests at heart. So, like 2 hours of mental abuse from my inner critic.

And that's 2 hours too long. So, you can just shut up now, Inner Voice. I don't have to deal with enough mom comparison, confusion, and conflict from the freaking entirety of the internet? I don't have enough self-doubt and worry to overcome without you piling on? Being a parent isn't hard enough? You have to start too? You are wrong and exhausting and, I've never told you this before, but sometimes your voice is incredibly whiny and grating. So, get it together, Inner Voice. I don't want to replace you with a soundtrack of Morgan Freeman reading Shakespearean sonnets on a loop, but I totally will. So, get it together, Inner Voice.  Get positive. Get supportive. Get with the program.

Get. It. Together. Right. Now.

It doesn't matter what we call him. 
He's Super, regardless. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Awkward Mom vs. The Comic Con

Now, you would think with Awkward Mom's superhero-ness, or at least sidekick-ness, she would rock this battle. You would think wrong.

Nerds scare me. Technically, I fall in this category, given my interests, hobbies, and general lack of social appropriateness, but I have never specialized my nerdness and this leaves me at a distinct disadvantage. Now, nerd is a pretty broad term and what we are really dealing with here are comic nerds. The comic world has always housed many variations of nerds, plus, given the recent Marvel movie explosion, massive increase in cosplay, Joss Whedon's existence, and much easier access to anime, that world is now even bigger and more varied. I am what you might call an equal-opportunity-comic-nerd; I like it all. I think it's all kinda neat. I'm well versed in many fandoms (another new addition to the comic nerd world lexicon), but I do not exclusively identify with any particular one. This makes me the exception rather than the rule at a Comic Convention. That and the fact that I am wearing pants, but we'll get to that.

The last time I was at one of these, I was pregnant with Super Oldest. So, 8 years ago. Awkward Dad and I bought a lot of comics, went to a lot of talks about comics, and sat in the hall and watched all the cosplayers stroll by. This time, I am just watching the cosplayers stroll by; somethings never change. Awkward Dad, Super Preschooler, and Super Oldest are attending a talk about the new Super Girl TV show. Super Toddler just screamed when we tried to enter the room (He prefers Gotham and is not pleased with CBS's decision to air Supergirl in direct competition. Or he needs a nap.) He and Super Kindergartener are pushing the stroller up and down the plush hallways of the Rosemont Convention Center, pretending the chandeliers are spaceships that they are avoiding in a complicated and daring space race. I am trailing behind, feeling left out.

Look, I love comics. I love reading them. I love the movies they make from them. I love the people involved. OK, I mostly love the people involved, but I also fear the people involved. Most comic nerds are very passionate about what they write, read, dress-up as, and live, and I'm just not. I like it all, but I don't know it all. And believe me, they know that I don't know. It's as intimidating as the Perfect Moms at the park, but because I know that it shouldn't be, I get frustrated by the pervasive sense of not belonging that is coursing through me. I do too belong here! I just don't want to wear a steampunk corset and pocket watch necklace. Or a Wookie head. Or whatever that blue thing is over there. Or an ace bandage, red paint, a snorkel, and a thong (Yes, seriously. And no, I did not take a picture.) Or really anything other than this Muppets t-shirt and my comfy jeans.

I want to read it all. Watch it all. Be friends with it all. The things about comics, or any interest really, is the way it makes you feel. Curious and happy and moved and interested and much like the Supers, who are racing up and down the hallway in an imaginary battle with crystal chandeliers and a carpet with giant circles printed on it. (According to Super Kindergartener, those are the droids.) And I have a funny feeling that is what all of these people feel when they read or watch or think about their particular fandom, but actually talking to them about that? Oh hell no! I'd have to talk to them and then they would make fun of me because I would pronounce Ryuk wrong and I would be right back in middle school again. No, thank you!

Of course, that's when I realize we are being followed. Sure, there are tons of people wandering down the hallway; it's on the way to the bathroom, it's near a string of panel discussions, and it's next to the arcade. Most cosplayers are treating it like a catwalk. But we are winding a very specific path that Super Kindergartener is weaving to avoid some asteroids that his copilot just spotted, and a little girl is following us, exactly. And she is being followed by her mom, exactly. A little girl of about 2, dressed to look like Zoe from Firefly in an adorable green top and red vest, is being followed by her model-stunning mother, dressed head to top in prefect cosplay herself. They look, exactly, like they belong here, and they are getting closer. Crap.

Her daughter approaches Super Toddler and touches his hair. He has great hair; it's a standard greeting in the toddler world. He smiles up at her and she smiles down at him and then they start to hug. I am gonna have to interact with her mom, that hug did it. So, I take a deep breath, remind myself that rejection says more about the rejecter than the rejected, and look up at the mom. (Did I mention she is model-tall? She's model-tall. I'm looking way up.)

Me: So, um, that's a great Mal. You really got the suspenders right.

Cosplay Mom: Oh, really? Do you like it? I was a little nervous, you know, because it's my first con and I really could never pull that off. (She gestures toward a woman in a Leia slave girl outfit.)

Me: No, it's great! I've seen a lot of Mals today and you are definitely the best. Plus, that outfit (also gesturing to the Leia) is not safe when carting children around.

Cosplay Mom: Totally. I love your shirt;Gonzo is my favorite Muppet.

Me: Mine too! It's pretty awesome, isn't it? My husband made it for me.

Cosplay Mom: So fun! Is he in a panel discussion?

Me: Yeah, the one on Supergirl.

Cosplay Mom: Meh, I'll DVR it. I'm not missing Gotham.

Me: I know that's right. Who's this little Zoe? She's adorable.

Cosplay Mom: You don't think it's too much?

Me: Oh no, she looks great! Are you going to the children's costume contest tomorrow?

Cosplay Mom: There's a children's costume contest?!

Me: Yeah, ours are going in Star Wars. Bought costumes, like from Halloween. Nothing amazing.

Cosplay Mom: That is so the way to go. This is the absolutely last time I make a vest out of red vinyl. It was a nightmare.

Me: I bet!

(Awkward silence that the children fill by attempting to shoot down a chandelier.)

Cosplay Mom: Hey, um, thanks for being so nice.

Me: Um, OK, sure. It's nothing. I mean, you seem nice, plus you are wearing cap guns. I wouldn't want to be on your bad side.

Cosplay Mom: No, I mean it. No one had talked to me all day. And I was really nervous about bringing the kids and, you know, fitting in and whatever. I'm babbling, sorry.

Me: No, you make perfect sense! And believe me, you totally fit in. You should parade up and down the hallway with the rest of the cosplayers. You are like a professional.

Cosplay Mom: There are professional cosplayers?

Me: Supposedly. It's OK; you can think it's weird. I think it's weird.

Cosplay Mom: Oh, thank goodness. That is really weird. By the way, I'm Susan. And that's Zoe.

Me: For reals? That's adorable. And I'm Erin.

Cosplay Mom: Yes, for reals. That's why the costumes. That's not weird, right?

Me: Nope. It's not professional cosplay weird, I'll tell you that much.

Cosplay Mom: You are so funny! Can I hang out with you all day?

Me: If you don't mind shooting down spaceships in the hallway, sure thing!

For reals. I really think that God is using all these experiences to make me understand that there is nothing wrong with me. There is nothing about me that I have to hide or hone. Life is not middle school and I truly do fit in. Or maybe I don't fit in. Maybe I wasn't meant to fit in. Maybe I was meant to stand out. And, maybe, when we have the courage to stand out, someone else will stand out with us, and, maybe, that is when we will truly, finally, fit in. Or something deep and profound. Maybe. Check out these Comic Con pictures, while I figure it out!

For your casual Sith Lord. 

There were millions of toy booths,
Super Preschooler wanted them all. 

Because when you are too small to play in the arcade, 
you have to improvise. 

Adorable, she is. 

Super Toddler's initial costume was a little too hardcore. 

Celebrating their costume wins, 
All the kids won, but if I had to pick a winner, 
The Tick there was totally amazing.

Super Toddler laughs in the face of danger. 

I am totally dorking them up for life,
aren't I? 

Comic Cons make me tired too.
See you guys later!

Same awkward time, 
Same awkward channel! 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Awkward Mom vs. The State Fair

I'm a planner.

No, that's not true. I wish I was a planner.

No, that's also not true. I wish I wished I was a planner.

No, even that's not true. I think I should wish that I wished I was a planner.

Here's the thing; there are lots of things I think I should want to do. I should want to clean my house, and not just throw stuff around randomly 10 minutes before someone is due over and then blame the kids. I should want to learn to garden, and not just gaze sadly at the weeds, while laying in my hammock, before happily going back to my book. I should want to volunteer for the PTA, and not just donate snacks when they tell me to. I should want to have a detailed and organizing household planner, and not just a giant post-it on the kitchen wall that just says "Dishes and Laundry and don't watch Netflix all day." I should want to have regular family meetings and well-thought-out house rules that I got out of a book that I carefully researched and analyzed, and not just another giant post-it that says "don't kill each other" and semi-regular family movie nights where someone sticks Dots to the back of the couch. And I should want to meticulously plan our family trip to the State Fair, months in advance, buying the tickets and the ride passes and the food vouchers ahead of time so they are discounted, carefully loading everyone in the van at dawn, complete with snacks, itineraries, and car activities, or, better yet, staying the night in the city where the fair is so we can get to the fair grounds early to get a parking space, and not just last minute throw everyone in the van with some hats and the request to "pipe down, this is my favorite song!" before driving 2 and a half hours so everyone can get slight sunburns and full-on stomach aches and have a freaking wonderful time. I should want to......

But you shouldn't should on yourself, right? So, instead, State Fair pictures!

Super 1st and his lemonade.

We love lemonade.

Did I mention that we love lemonade?

Really, really, love....
oh you get it. We drank lemonade. 

Because chocolate covered desserts 
are a great idea when it's 90 degrees.

Me and my high-flying adventurer ride the Sky Glider.

We had a great view of the fair from our perch. 

Super Kindergartener doesn't like heights or most rides,
but he'll happily drive a train. 

Some butter carvers. 
I didn't get any photos of the large butter sculptures,
yet another should to should. 

Requisite funnel cake. 

Requisite melt-down. 
That's how you know it's been a successful outing.
And that it is time to go home.

When we got home, our neighbor actually asked me if we were "Freaking crazy?!?!" And I said, "Yes, we are crazy." 

Crazy Fun! 

P.S. Yes, we did see Donald Trump. And no, we did not get to ride in his helicopter. We did, however, park by his helicopter because that is the kind of stuff that happens when you are not a planner and arrive late to the State Fair. Crazy weird slightly awkward adventure! 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Awkward Mom vs. Mom Dating

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.....

I really thought I was done with this stuff. I mean, so, maybe, it has taken seven years and four kids, but I am finally comfortable with my unique kind of parenting. Finally. And lord knows I am happily ensconced in a familiar circle of friends, most with similar mom approaches and a few with different ones, just to be interesting. And all is respectful, but not too respectful; plenty of laughter and teasing and that comfort that comes from years of carefully moving back the trust lines until the person is solidly in your heart and way up in your business. I am not mom-single. I am paired off (tripled off? quadrupled off? whatever-5-times-is off?). Point is, I have mom friends. I am established in a mom circle. I am NOT mom-dating anymore. Thank the Lord.

And then we moved. And as much as I would like to turn into a mom-hermit and only communicate with my mom friends via Facebook and email, the four energy-balls I live with are not going to tolerate that. So, back into the fray I go. And this is where I find myself yesterday evening; terrified, rusty, tongue-tied, and half-naked. Because, of course, my first Davenport mom-dating happens at the pool. THE POOL. Nothing like jumping in the deep end, eh?

And it is not-crowded-pool, on top of things. This is not the drunken college bar dating scene that a crowded park can be, where you can hide your quirks and flaws because there is sure to be a mom less socially appropriate than you are. Someone else will be drunker than you. (Of course, I am speaking metaphorically, but hey, no judging if you need a drink or two to get you through the mom-dating scene.) Someone else will bring fruit snacks or, god forbid, candy. Someone else will use the spray sunscreen right out there by the swings. Someone else will violate whatever parenting rule is popular this week and everyone will stare at her, rendering whatever awkward stunt you just pulled or spilled on yourself irrelevant and you can just blend into the background. Crowded park is the perfect place for early mom-dating. You can just watch for awhile before you decide to talk to someone.

Not-crowded-pool is like a snobby wine bar. Everything is on display and there is no where to hide. It involves everything you can be mom-judged for; snack choice, sunscreen choice, water bottle choice, pool bag choice (that old plastic Target bag? You just showed up at the snobby wine bar wearing yoga pants and that t-shirt you painted the living room in.) What you dress your children in will be judged. Are they wearing goggles? Are they wearing rash guards? Do they all have matching sandals? Matching towels? Did you remember towels? There's nowhere to hide when everyone is half-naked, and don't forget, you are probably half-naked too. Snobby-wine-bars/Not-crowded-pools are not where you can use a drappy top and those jeans with stretch material built in to skim and hide stuff. Nope, it's all hanging out there for all to see.

Basically, your ability to monitor your children around water is major. Are you a helicopter mom? Are you a trust-the-lifeguards mom? Are you a sun-yourself-on-this-deck-chair-and-read mom? Are you a drop-them-off-and-go-home-to-take-a-nap mom? Whatever you are, it is going to appeal to some moms and make other moms want to call Child Services on you. There appears to be no middle ground here; it's the toilet paper roll under or over question of mom-dating. And you won't know which mom is which until it is too late and they are glaring at you across the pool. Because the pool isn't crowed. There is no one else to look at and watching children frolic in the water becomes really boring, really fast.

She's beautiful. Of course, she's beautiful. That effortless natural beauty that may come from a lovely soul full of benevolent light radiating from within or it may be expertly applied Maybelline. I can't quite tell because I don't wear my glasses at the pool and she's mostly just a tan, tall blur right now. She's made considerably taller by the fact that she is standing on the edge of the pool and I am sitting on the steps leading into the shallow end, desperately trying to keep Super Baby from smacking his head on the metal guard rail, while watching the other three flail around, because, due to the move, swim lessons didn't happen this summer. (Don't ask me what my excuse was the past 7 summers, I can't be bothered to remember that long ago.) She looks so calm, and she should. She has achieved that sought after milestone of moms the world over: her child can swim and she no longer has to get in the pool. She looks jaunty; sunglasses perched on her head, fitted tee from her latest 5K, tiny little shorts that somehow manage to not look trashy, pedicured toes peeking out of nice sandals. No plastic bargain bin flip flops here. She's tanned and toned and terrible. I hate her and she won't go away.

And I doubt she's going anywhere soon. My children haven't seen other children in a month; they swoop onto her son the second he cannonballs into the pool. And he appears delighted by the attention. Age-wise, he's somewhere between the oldest two Supers, and, because Tan Mom won't stop talking, I know that he is an only child and has been lonely this summer because they just moved here as well. I also know that he loves sports, is highly advanced in math, walked early, and has a bit of an anger problem but they are working on this through a variety of behavior plans and charts that I immediately forget.

I am trying to be nice and I am trying to watch my kids at a new pool and I am trying to get the lay of the land here in a new city and I am trying to adjust to the fact that I am mom-dating again after 4 blissful years of not having to. I am trying, but I am not doing very well because suddenly, everything happens at once. While she is telling me about their summer reading plan,  Super 1st has the audacity to say that he is going into 2nd grade and Tan Child is going into 1st grade but that must be a lie because Super 1st is way smaller than Tan Child so Tan Child splashes Super 1st in the face while yelling that he is a liar. This is also the moment when Super Preschooler sprays his water gun straight into the women's aerobics class that is going on across the pool and hits the instructor, straight in the back. This is also the moment when Super Toddler decides she is hungry so she drags over the snacks I brought, a box of chocolate chip granola bars and a box of strawberries (someone has taken a bite out of each one), in a plastic Target bag that she promptly leaves in the water. And this is also the moment that Super Baby decides to pull down my swim suit, flashing my unfettered mammaries right at Tan Mom and momentarily blinding her.

Time stops. For exactly 2 seconds. For exactly 2 seconds, I want to cry. I want to scream. I want to throw a tantrum of epic proportions. I don't want to mom-date anymore. I don't want to be in new place. I don't want to feel like I don't know what I am dong. I don't want to be the fat pale one talking to the thin tan one. I don't want this. Why is it always like this? Why am I always so god damn awkward? Could I just not be awkward for 2 seconds? Is that too much to ask?! Could I just know what I am doing for once?! It's exactly 2 seconds, and then a little voice in the back of my head whispers, "you do know. You are fine and you are awkward. Just own it."

So, I do. I own it. I laugh and say "whoops," while hauling up my top. I scoop the plastic bag out of the pool and toss it toward our stuff, while opening a granola bar with my teeth and telling Super Toddler to eat over there. I snap my fingers at Super Preschool and hold out my hand for the water gun, while shouting an apology to the aerobics instructor, who waves at me and smiles back at her giggling class. I turn to deal with Super 1st, to find that he has calmly explained that people grow at different rates, it happens all the time that people think he is young, it's no big deal, and would Tan Child like to dive for rings with him? I turn to Tan Mom to find her slumped on the side of the pool, looking horrified. I guess she is still scarred from the blinding white of my naked chest, so I start to apologize again when she turns to me, looking helpless, with tears brimming up in her eyes.

"I just don't know what to do when he acts like that."

"Oh, it's OK. They figured it out. Look; they are diving together over there!"

"I am so sorry. Sometimes I think if he had siblings, he'd act better, but I can't seem to have any more and I really want to, but I guess it's not to be."

Super Baby crawls over the lip of the pool right into her lap and she pulls him to her, drenching her adorable outfit and knocking her sunglasses off her head. She snuggles him to her and peeks up at me over his hair. And I suddenly see that all the perfection I stuffed her with was made out of my own insecurity and jealousy. She's just like me. She's lonely and scared and new to town and awkward. Holy Cats. She's awkward! Oh, and now that she is down here closer to me, I can see that Maybelline has nothing to do with her; her beauty is all her own. So, I take a deep breath and dive in.

"Don't even worry about it. Kids are figuring it out, you know; all those new feelings in those little bodies, it's a wonder they aren't throwing fits and acting up all the time. Did you see Super Preschooler shoot that teacher with the water gun?! I thought I was gonna die of embarrassment! By the way, my name is Erin, and it looks like our sons are getting along great. We should totally hang out sometime."

"Really? I'd love that! My name is Ann. I honestly don't know what I am doing and you seem so amazing. I couldn't imagine taking 4 children to the pool by myself. Can I ask you like a million questions?"

"Sure. You want a granola bar? Or a half-eaten strawberry?"

"Totally. Thanks!"

Well, alright, fine. I suppose I can mom-date if food's involved. As long as we can jump past the point where we are just ordering salads to impress each other, to the point we eat a whole cheesecake together. With our hands. 

Super Toddler knows that the best way to mom-date 
at the pool is to make a dramatic entrance. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Awkward Mom vs. the Milwaukee Zoo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think we are lost. 

2 Beauties. 

Super 1st likes heights. 

I'm kinda a fan too. 

Super Toddler wanted Pepper to gallop. 
Pepper politely declined.

Super Preschooler isn't sure about this development. 

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

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

The only one unfazed was Super Baby.

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

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

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Awkward Mom vs. the Garden

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

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

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

But what really made us sure was the garden.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Given that my preferred form of gardening is this:

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

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

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Awkward Mom vs. Change

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 24, 2015

Awkward Mom vs. Eavesdropping

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

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

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

Super Toddler: Need sword, be right back.

Super Baby: AHHH!

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

Super Toddler: Back!

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

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

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

Super Preschooler: My hat.

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

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

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

Super Preschooler: It's fine.

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

Super Toddler: OK!

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

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

Super 1st: What?!

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

Super 1st.: Sigh. Fine.

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

Super 1st: Are you done?

Super Preschooler: Yes.

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

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

Super 1st: Really?

Super Preschooler: Yeah.

Super 1st: What part?

Super Preschooler: Like the start, I think.

Super 1st: OK. Game paused!

Super Preschooler: I'm hungry.

Both: MOM!!

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

Monday, April 6, 2015

Awkward Mom vs. Feminism

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

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

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

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

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

Celebrate! You are now a feminist!

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

Thursday, March 26, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. It's rainy and cold. Again.

6. The news is depressing. Again.

7. The children are fighting. Again.

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 20, 2015

Super 1st. vs. Friendship

Basically, it's a rout. 

My Precious Super 1st.-

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

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

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

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

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

I love you-
Awkward Mom

Friendship is indeed magic.