Not Sometime, but Now

BlogU is a blogging conference, but it's also so much more than that. It's a family of bloggers from all walks of life who share experiences, learn from each other, and support one another’s journey to success. Join the family this June.

Hello everyone! Here I am with my annual stump speech for the BlogU conference! If you’re not a blogger, just someone that comes here because you enjoy mediocre humor and frequent profanity, feel free to skip this post.  If you’re a blogger, writer, or are kind of maybe considering starting a blog I don’t know never mind whatever it’s not a big deal just a dumb idea I had, keep reading, especially if you’re a member of the last group.  Let me tell you a little story, not about BlogU, but about the people you’ll meet at BlogU and how they’ll end up changing your life for the better.

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A few months ago, I was going through a couple of essays I’ve written that need a good home.  This one is too long to pitch to that website, this one is too weird for a blog post, etc.  As I was looking through them, these little word children of mine that live a sad, sheltered existence in my Google drive folder, a light bulb went off above my head:

I’ll use these essays to write a BOOK!

Now, if you had mentioned the idea of writing a book a few years ago, I would have laughed and did that thing where you suddenly pretend you have a very important text that you need to answer, raising my eyebrows and scrunching up my lips in an “Uh oh!” face and just kind of wander away from you in a non-committal way.  Either that, or I’d tell you,”maybe one day, when I have more time to write, or have a bigger audience, when I finally start paying more than just passing attention to my social media, when the kids are older…”  Lots of excuses. Tons.  The most excuses.  ALL OF THEM, GIVE ME ALL YOUR EXCUSES.

Then I went to BlogU back in 2014 and met my friends in the computer.  Fellow bloggers, just like me! I mean, we knew each other before the conference, but this was the first time I actually got to talk to these women in person.  It was an amazing weekend of learning, of laughing, of realizing my dream of becoming prom queen.  You know, the usual conference stuff.

At the end of the conference, I found myself chatting with a good friend, a blogger with a pretty big following.  I made a joke about my abysmally small audience compared with hers.

“Why aren’t you bigger than you are?  You’re funny.  What’s up with that?”

“I don’t know, I guess I haven’t put the effort into like I should.  I need to write more.”

“That’s my goal with you: you write, and I’m going to blow you up this year.”

I am like 90% sure my friend doesn’t remember having that conversation with me, but it left a mark on me.  If my friend, who works her ass off to be successful (and is enviably funny) asked me why I haven’t been more successful, I knew the only thing holding me back was myself.  Since that day, I wouldn’t say I’ve necessarily exploded, but her words, her casual yet sincere belief in me inspires me to push myself harder in the past two years to set goals, and consider bigger possibilities.

Possibilities like writing a book.

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FB_IMG_1426814362009This is the beauty of the BlogU conference.  It’s all fine and dandy to read books about writing, to pin inspirational graphics about writing, and hear your mom tell you how great your most recent post was.  What you really need, what will truly inspire you to reach outside the little cubby of abilities and limits you’ve gotten nice and comfy within is meeting a supportive group of bloggers that want to see you succeed.  You’ll soon find that these people aren’t so different from you, and will see potential in you.  Yes, you’ll learn a metric fuck-ton about the nuts and bolts of blogging, and how to improve your writing in general, but for me?  The real reason to get yourself to BlogU is to make those personal connections.  You can learn how to optimize your Pinterest boards and the best times to post on Facebook, but if you don’t have someone leaning over your shoulder and whispering, “Get off the goddamn Internet and write something,” it’s all just numbers, right?  Right.

So get to writing, guys, come to BlogU, and blow shit UP this year.

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Tickets are still available for #BlogU16! Join us June 10-12 at the University of Maryland, College Park! Click here for more information about the conference, and click here to register.  See you there!

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Permanently Cold People of Earth: IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT

I am always cold.  Always.  I don’t care what time of year it is, or how warmly you think you keep your house heated.  The only time I am not cold is in the summertime when it’s over 75 degrees outside.  Even then, I’ll probably bring a jacket with me in the car to your event, juuuuust in case.  I run my illegal space heater that I have under my work desk all year round.  I don’t give a shit that it’s 90 degrees outside — it’s the fucking Antarctic here in my library, so I’m gonna wear three cardigans and run this space heater until my cold dead heart feels a little less cold.

This time of year is particularly tough for my fellow cold-blooded, taking-a-night-shower-just-to-get-warm brothers and sisters (mostly sisters, though, let’s be real).  However, lately I have discovered one item that will literally make you see the light and make this winter much more bearable than previous winters.

An electric blanket

Listen.  I had no idea what I was missing out on before I received one of these for Christmas.  Here’s footage of me the first time I used it:

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Winter is a time where my desire to live a balmy 80 degree indoor lifestyle goes directly against my strong desire to spend as little money as possible. Hence, from November til April I’m basically frozen and broke, walking around my house wearing a sweater and two sweatshirts on my way to sitting on the couch underneath two blankets and one around my shoulders because I keep the thermostat set at a barely survivable 66 degrees during the day.  I risk hypothermia every day because I can’t afford to send all of my paycheck to the gas company.  This makes me bitter and unhappy because my brain is telling me that I need to curl up in a ball to conserve my body heat for potential emergencies, yet my kids want dumb things like “dinner” and “help with their homework.”

BUT IT’S ALL GOOD NOW BECAUSE WHY?

ELECTRIC BLAAAAAAAANKET

via GIPHY

Electric blanket has improved my winter quality of life by about 126%.  I have my thermostat set to automatically drop down to 62 degrees around 11pm until shortly before we wake up in the morning. This is, again, an attempt to save money, which it does.  However, it sucks because after suffering through being cold and dealing with work and kids all day, I have to sit on my couch and slowly freeze to death each night after bedtime.  BUT NOT ANYMORE! Now, I’m perspiring underneath my electric blanket while I stay up late and watch old episodes of Catfish on TV and I could not be happier (or sweatier).

In fact, my entire family has heard the Good News about Our Lord and Savior, Electric Blanket.  Here’s me and the kids at our weekly Movie Night:

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The past few nights I’ve had to repossess my blanket from Rob when I come downstairs after finishing the whole bedtime song and dance.  But it’s not just the humans in our house that love it:

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When we leave the house, I put the blanket on the floor and turn it on low for this little old man (there’s a safety timer that turns it off after a few hours).  When I use it at night, I literally have to fight with the dog to get the right distribution of blanket between ourselves.  That’s because I’m at the maturity level in my life where I’m bickering with a small dog over a blanket.

The only problem I have right now is that once I am parked underneath this blanket, I am pretty much not getting up again until it’s time for bed.  Dog needs to go outside?  Grow some thumbs, little guy.  Remote is over there across the room?  This show is fine, I guess.  I need something to drink?  It’s fine, I’ll just be thirsty.

Thirsty and INSANELY WARM YAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS ELECTRIC BLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANKETTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT.

So if you would like to stop being miserable for 2/3 of the year while just trying to fucking exist and live your life while feeling the cold deep down in your bones and soul, get yourself an electric blanket, and then gather up all the snacks and supplies you’re going to need for the next few hours, because we’re cranking this motherfucker up to bake at 325 degrees, honey.  MAMA’S GOT A FEW POST-HOLIDAY POUNDS TO SWEAT OFF.

***BTDubs, I’m also an Amazon.com Associate, which means every six months I get a check for like $1.50 when people click on the links above and order anything at all.  Just so you know how much of a baller I am.***

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter so you never miss a post.  Better yet, pop your email address in the box at the top of the page and subscribe!  Also, you can read my essays in I Just Want to Be Alone and You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth.

Posted in don't be jealous, it's gettin' hot in here | 8 Comments

Preschool Senioritis

Look at this adorable little thing.  This is the face of a kid who cannot wait to go to her first day of preschool:

Surrey preschool

Oh, hey! Look at this miserable little thing.  This is the face of a woman who cannot wait to finally see her very last day of preschool:

i hate preschool

Why? Because I hate preschool.

I mean, really.  It’s the worst.

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I’m currently suffering from the worst case of preschool senioritis.  You should have seen me at the parents’ meeting back in September.  I dropped the older girls off at their school, then strolled into that room full of mostly new parents holding the Burger King soda I stopped for on the way (despite the fact that I was already fifteen minutes late at that point) and wearing the “I’m already bored with this” expression I first perfected as a 12th grader at George Washington High School during the late 90s.  I then made sure I was the first person to get up and leave when the teacher said we were done, because I learned after my rookie year that the early bird gets the first pick of parent jobs.  Enjoy planning the end-of-the-year party, Morgan’s mom! I’ll just be over here on party clean-up duty like #YOLO!

I went on the first field trip of the school year, and you guys, I KNOW I was supposed to feel nostalgic and a little weepy that it was the last time I would get up super early, make special arrangements to get my other kids to school, and drive thirty minutes to the apple orchard where I would shiver and freeze my way through the presentation on how bees make apples grow, then take a teeth-chattering hayride to a barrel in the apple orchard filled with apples while wishing I had worn a thicker coat and rain boots, but HAHAHAHA LOLZZZZ I was really thinking, “Oh THANK GOD I never have to do this again.”  I did, however, splurge and buy an entire gallon of apple cider and a dozen donuts on the way out, because smell ya later, apple orchard! HAVE FUN WITHOUT ME NEXT YEAR!

Now that I’m rounding the corner on the halfway mark of the preschool school year, I can see now that there are benefits to being a senior mom in a sea of freshman parents.  I know exactly which parties are going to suck (suck it, Sharing Soup Celebration!), which field trips to skip out on (fuuuuuuck you, rollerskating rink!), and I already know when the volunteer sheets will be posted and to get my name up there early so I’m not stuck making fruit salad at 1AM the night before the Christmas party.  I know the class pet is named Goober the Bunny and that he’s technically the Goober the Second, but shhhhhhhhh.  I also know exactly how hard the women who run our program work, and the right amount of side eye and attitude to give the teenage co-op students when they try to act a fool.

There’s one more thing I know that a few of these rookie parents don’t know: the bright, shining oasis awaiting them one day called public school.  It’s a wonderful place, filled with full-day school, field trips with school buses that drive the children there for you, and best of all: no tuition payments.  I’ve seen the Promise Land, fellow preschool parents, and let me tell you: it is good.

Now, if one of you newbies could please stop me from giving the double-bird in the class portrait, that would be awesome.

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram so you never miss a post.  Better yet, pop your email address in the box at the top of the page and subscribe!  Also, you can read my essays in I Just Want to Be Alone, I Still Just Want to Pee Alone, and You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth!

Posted in half-assin it, preschool, professional slacker, Surrey | 6 Comments

Welcoming 2016, or “What Fresh Hell is This?!”

@649point133 on InstagramWhy hello, everyone! Did you miss me? I missed you, and definitely gave a thought to writing something new for you this fall, in between bites of Halloween candy, kick-ass turkey (THAT I COOKED MYSELF WHUT WHUUUUUUT), and sugar cookies with a fuck-ton of frosting on them (thanks, Bella!).  But, alas, if you’ve been a reader for awhile, you know that I am pretty notorious for falling into a “Oh Jesus, not the holidays again” – fueled slump that puts me on hiatus from late September til about this time.  I’m proud to say that this year, I set a new record for ennui by failing to snap out of this slump before Christmas! But here I am, ready to tell you allllll the things I’m definitely going to do this year.  Get comfortable, because I am pretty good at putting things off for Future Janel to deal with, so the list is pretty long at this point:

Lose weight. Again. Last year, at this time, I decided to spend the winter quarter denying myself Christmas cookies in a quest to finally lose my preschooler weight (I had to stop calling it “baby weight”, since the baby is now four years old).  I spent the first twelve weeks of 2015 eating healthy and walking regularly, and lost almost 20 pounds! Yay! I then proceeded to celebrate my discipline and hard work by slowly gaining back ten of those pounds, putting in extra effort during the holidays because FA LA LA LA LA, LA LA, LA, FOOD.  The number of pounds gained is probably closer to thirteen or fifteen, but can you just do that thing that friends do where you think that in your head, and pretend like I’m telling you the truth? Cool.  I’m hoping to make this winter diet an annual tradition, because I specialize in stupid ideas.

Put the Christmas decorations away: At a certain point, somewhere between late January and early February, I start considering whether or not it would be so terribly bad if we just lived with Christmas decor for the rest of the year. “It could be our weird, quirky thing! We’re The Christmas Family!”  Then I remember all the other “cute” things that we do that make us “memorable” to people who visit our home, and I stomp up the attic stairs to retrieve the boxes.

Get this kid out of preschool: Guys, future post coming, but I am fucking done-zo with preschool. I’m the main star of the hit reality show, “I’m a Preschool Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!”  In this context, “celebrity” = “showing up ten minutes late, every day” and “forgetting for the fifth year in a row that the book for the Christmas party is supposed to be wrapped when you bring it to the party.”

Get this kid into kindergarten: This is going to be me the day I drop off all three of my kids at the same school this fall:

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I preemptively apologized to Bella’s kindergarten teacher this year, because she would have Bella and Surrey in back-to-back school years. “Honestly, I don’t know who will be more work for you — my autistic daughter, or my redhead!”

She laughed. I laughed.  I feel like we were laughing for different reasons.

Go to Disney World: We’ve been telling the kids for years that we would go back to Disney the year Surrey started kindergarten.  Thus, we’ve been staring her down for four years, willing her to get bigger faster.  It’s finally worked, so this tax return will be wholly dedicated to schlepping all five of us to Orlando this September. Also, fun fact: are you aware of how much more fucking expensive it is to take five people to Disney as opposed to four? A LOT. Every time I start pricing it out, I get caught in the following vicious circle: “I should sell one of these kids to get the money to take us to Disney.” — “SHIT, that would negate the idea of needing money for taking the fifth person. Scratch that idea.” — “Now I need more money to take all of us to Disney.” — “I should sell one of these kids to get the money to take us to Disney…”

WRITE WRITE WRITE: Here’s the one that might possibly be good or bad news for you guys: I’m planning on writing my ass off this year.  Partly because I like it and have a spreadsheet full of ideas, but also because of this:

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So rejoice! You’ll see me not only writing more here, but also there, and everywhere! And I don’t plan on being too picky — for real, if you see my name on an article in Playboy or Livestock Feed and Supply Monthly, do me a solid and just click through. It might actually be something worth reading.

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram so you never miss a post.  Better yet, pop your email address in the box at the top of the page and subscribe!  Also, you can read my essays in I Just Want to Be Alone, I Still Just Want to Pee Alone, and You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth!

Posted in famous last words, lists, wrap it up | 1 Comment

Picture Day

I’m not very picky about most things as a mom.  I let my kids wear whatever the hell they want, wherever the hell they want.  Phaedra wears her purple ankle boots with every single outfit (except on Mondays, because that’s gym day), and I don’t say shit.  Socks don’t even need to match.  Halloween costume to the grocery store?  Bring it on.  I don’t even complain when I pick up the kids from grandpa’s house after work and discover Rob has dressed Bella and Surrey in all black and given them each other’s underwear.

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Posted in best husband ever, expert negotiation skills, Ginger problems, let's try this again, preschool, School, Surrey | 17 Comments

Kindergarten, Here She Comes

IMG_20150609_122042We watch Bella walk around her new kindergarten classroom, where she’ll spend her school days beginning next week.   It looks aimless to us, the people who can’t think the way she does, but I know her brain is working rapid-fire.  She zeros in on specific things from time to time.  “Candyland!” she happily shouts, as she tries to pull it free from the bottom of the stack of board games.  She stops to investigate a stack of curriculum binders in another corner.  The smart board grabs her attention.  “Can someone turn this thing on?” she says as she draws on it with the green crayon sensor, her scribbles visible only in her mind.

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Posted in autism, Bella, kindergarten, School | 6 Comments

Life is Brutal

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Last Friday, I sucked it up, put on my big-girl panties, asked an old priest and a young priest to throw some holy water at my debit card, and took my girls school shopping at Target. Going school shopping is a BIG DEAL in our house.  Bella needed a backpack and lunch box, Surrey really didn’t need anything, and Phaedra needed a to perform a live soap opera episode in the back-to-school aisle about the agony that is choosing a school lunch box.

Also, she needed a folder.

To say that Phaedra has acquired a touch of drama as of late is a pretty big understatement.  She is ready to cry at the drop of a hat right now over minute shit.  If she was ten years older, I would shove a chocolate bar and a few Midols under her bedroom door and hope for the best.  However, she’s only eight, and I’m hoping that being a privileged suburban eight-years-old girl is the only condition she is suffering from right now.  Either that, or shit is about to get painfully real in about five years or so when she Hulks out on hormones.

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Posted in changelings, girls, just please get a job and move out someday that's all I ask ladies, one of these girls better get rich and famous, Phaedra, School, Target | 4 Comments

Free School Supplies Almost Make It Okay That Summer’s Nearly Over

Back to School is coming fast. I’ve already written “Take girls school shopping!” on the calendar for this Friday, which makes me want to cry and dance at the same time. I’m hoping I don’t actually do this in the school supplies aisle at Target, because that would be disturbing for everyone involved. The crying is because it means summer is almost over, and I LOVE summer. Love the weather, love not having to pack lunches, or worry about homework, or get kids up in the morning. I just roll out of bed and head to work. It’s awesome.

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Posted in kindergarten, nerd alert, School | 2 Comments

The Caterpillars, or Nature is Surprisingly Awful

"Raise caterpillars," they said. "They'll turn into butterflies," they said. Even nature can't just act normal in our house. Nature is surprisingly awful and I officially want no part of it.I’d like to start out by letting you guys know that I am not a nature person.  At all.  I appreciate that nature is a thing, and that we need it and should live our lives in a way that supports its continued existence.

That being said: I want absolutely no fucking part of it.

I do not camp.  I do not hike.  I’m not sure why people would voluntarily walk through the woods for no reason other than for the experience of walking through the woods.  Now when I say “nature,” I don’t necessarily mean animals.  I LOVE animals.  Give me a zoo, a petting farm, hell, even a pet store any day.  It’s mostly the outdoors and the nitty-gritty of the natural world that I do not want.  I don’t need bugs or trees or anything like that fucking up my flow.  I’m not an outdoor cat; I’m an indoor cat.  Give me a good ol’ fashioned window to look out and I’m happy.
About a month ago, Bella found four little caterpillars on Rob’s dill plants.  Bella is pet crazy right now, and Continue reading

Posted in Bella, changelings, if you're gonna spew, not doing that ever again, super gross out, things that don't make sense | 8 Comments

Summer Hot Spots for Families and Why You Shouldn’t Bother

IMG_20140617_020942It’s summertime, which means every family is attempting to cram fifty different field trips into roughly three months’ worth of weekends. I get it – I’m exactly the same way. I have to get though a list of places my kids beg me to take them allllllll year round. Every single summer weekend is me escorting my kids around the state in the heat, spending all the money I would have spent on the heat bill during the winter on carrots for the fucking goats at the petting farm. But since I’m such a giving person, I’m going to give you a rundown of places people typically schlep their kids to this time of year, and why you should basically just stay home, pop in a DVD, and enjoy that sweet A/C coming out of those vents (or not, whatever). Continue reading

Posted in lists | 13 Comments