What’s Different When You Have Kids Young

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what is really the difference between having kids when you’re young vs waiting till you’re older.

Why you might ask? Because all my friends are like 10 years older than me… and I’ve realized maybe that’s weird. I like to joke that it’s just because I’m super mature (but then I usually follow it with some sort of MILF joke so clearly I’m not that mature) but the real reason is most people my age are working 20 hours a week at a coffee shop to keep their student loans deferred while they figure out what they want to do when they grow up and spending their evenings in trendy bars… and I have two kids and a mortgage.

So instead we mostly hang out with people who also have a couple kids and mortgages also and would rather drink those margaritas in my living room (because they agree that bars are way too loud)… and basically none of those people are also in their mid 20s because most people wait a second before popping a baby out of their lady garden. We’re in this weird middle place where we’re too young to be old but way too old to still pretend we’re young.

So what is really the difference between having kids in your early 20s vs having kids in your mid 30s? We parent similarly, so that can’t be it. That whole “the baby weight falls off faster when you’re young!” thing is absolute bullshit, if you don’t believe me go ask my poor abused spanx. What is it?

I think I finally figured it out.

The difference is that when you have kids really young you never have a chance to get your shit together first.

I mean, David and I had the major points of adulting under control… we paid our bills on time, held down jobs, stayed out of prison, and didn’t live with our parents. But all those finer points of adulting that everyone else figured out in their 20s was lost on us because there was basically no space between the “I was too drunk to remember to put my half eaten bowl of ramen in the fridge before I passed out last night so this morning I’m going to eat it for breakfast before I go to work” phase of life and the “I’m responsible for another human” phase.

And if you haven’t gotten those finer points of “adulting” down before you have kids you’re basically just not going to, because parenting is a whole new set of shit you’ve got to figure out so the “How often do I actually need to wash my sheets?” questions get put to the side. Indefinitely.

And even once you do sort of get your shit together you never know for sure if you really have or not because you don’t even know what “real adulting” means anyway. I am left constantly wondering, should I stop doing X because I’m “a grown up” or is this something everyone else does too and just doesn’t talk about?

Like eating the ramen you forgot to put in the fridge last night the next morning for breakfast… cause that still sometimes happens (although now it’s just cause I’m tired, not cause I’m too drunk). Am I allowed to do that?

Do all adults occasionally find a shirt on the floor and give it the sniff test to determine if it really needs to go in the hamper or if they can just wear it today instead?

And seriously, how often do I really have to wash my sheets? Can I just wait until they feel kinda gross? Or is just thinking that gross in and of itself?

I like my mediocre IKEA furniture and don’t ever want to upgrade to the nicer brands… does that mean I’m broken or is that a valid life choice?

Does everybody occasionally have that moment when they’re going to bed and realize the only things they ate that day was coffee and two handfuls of girlscout cookies? Or is that just some college level bullshit I need to seriously work on.

So yeah, that’s the difference between having kids in your early 20s vs mid 30s in case you were wondering. And also if anybody wanted to give me any insight into those other questions I would love it. Especially the one about why bars insist on being so ridiculously loud. Because it’s dumb.

What It’s Like To Take Children To IKEA

IKEA, for those of you unfortunate enough to not live in a major city, is a magical land full of elaborately staged show rooms, $200 couches, and assemble-it-your-damn-self furniture that pretty much always comes with a bunch of extra pieces they throw in just to fuck with you.

Case and point, that time last month that I finished building a bedside table only to discover these fuckers still chillin' in the bottom of the box.
Case and point, that time last month that I finished building a bedside table and then discovered these fuckers still chillin’ in the bottom of the box. 

It also has free childcare for up to an hour and a half, free coffee, and super cheap dinners… all of which basically make it my co-parent when David is away on long business trips (which is more or less always). All of those amazing facts (well, mostly those last three) make me go even though I’m fully aware that you should NEVER take children out in public. Ever. Because they A) have no filter at all and B) have a severely inferior grasp on the concept of “indoor voices”. Or maybe that’s just my kids… whatever.

Anyway, since I’m out of interesting things to write about I’m going to tell you exactly what it’s like to take children to IKEA if you’ve never done it yourself. (Or more accurately, exactly what it was like to take my kids to IKEA tonight.)

First you’ll get the kids out of the car and expect them to run at top speed into the store like they always do… but since it’s raining today they’ll walk as slowly as humanly possible until you’re all completely soaked, then sit down on the sidewalk and cry because they don’t want to get rained on… so instead of through the door that 10 feet in front of them they’re going to sit down in the rain because they don’t want to be rained on anymore. Because of course.

You’ll get them inside and begin filling out the sheet to get them signed into the free daycare while your daughter announces to the childcare employees that “This rain is total bullshit.” followed a minute later by a loud and very dramatic rendition of “It’s Raining Men” sung as a duet by the two of them for everyone within 100 meters aka ear shot (my children have no problem with projecting.)

Once they’re signed in and playing get your free coffee and do your shopping. This will remind you of why you came in the first place… shopping alone and drinking coffee alone.

Once their time is up you’ll go get them and decide to have dinner since it’s kids eat free night which makes it cheaper than any dinner you were going to make at home anyway. You’ll ask them in the crowded elevator if they need to go to the bathroom before you eat… when they say no change your mind and demand that everyone go to the bathroom before you eat because you know otherwise there is a 110% chance they’ll suddenly have to pee the second you take your first bite of that meatball. This will be followed by a 20 minute excursion in the bathroom during which your 3 year old will attempt to touch every single surface with his hands, a large portion of them with his tongue, and then lock himself in the stall because he absolutely does not under any circumstances need any help… except he totally does. But he doesn’t want it from you. But he needs it. But go away mom.

When you finally get everyone’s food on the tray and walk up to pay for it that same 3 year old will announce that he has to go to the bathroom again. When you remind him that you were literally just in the bathroom for 20 minutes, 5 minutes ago, he’ll say in his loudest of loud voice “Last time I peed, and it was a good pee, I peed really really fast, but this time I have to poop. I would rather poop in the yard, but since IKEA doesn’t have a yard I have to go to the bathroom because I’m going to poop a lot. Like, a lot a lot a lot.” he will also throw his arms out in both directions to pantomime how big this alleged poop will be.

So you’ll go back to the bathroom where he will not poop or pee, but will touch everything. Again. Because of course.

When you’re finally back in the restaurant and eating your food your daughter (who overheard a conversation between you and a friend last week about how you need to go bra shopping) will loudly announce to the very full eating establishment, “I don’t even know why we’re here when the only place we REALLY need to go is to a store that sells giant bras!”

When you (and the people at all the tables around you) stare at her in horrified silence she will assume you just don’t understand what she said so she’ll elaborate. “For you. … You know, for your huge boobs. … You need to get bras for your huge boobs but have to buy them at a special store for bras for huge boobs. … Remember? You told Brittney about it? … Your huge boobs.” You’ll then explain that it’s not necessary to yell everything you say. Or talk about your huge boobs in restaurants. Or ever.

Then you’ll leave and swear you’re never taking your kids out in public again, while also knowing full well you will tomorrow partly because you believe in 932nd chances second chances and partly because you just have no choice.

And also a little bit because at least they were really nice to each other the whole time and at least they never lied… this rain today really is total bullshit, Finn does like pooping in the yard, and your boobs really are huge. *shrug*

Musical Cleaning aka My Boring Blog (pun intended)

After my emotional vomiting post the other day about how I’m too happy to be your lovable curmudgeon of a blogger I got a bunch of messages and emails crying out “Oh please Jen, just blog anyway! We need your voice in our lives! You’re amazing and fabulous and everything I want to be when I grow up!”

Well I might be exaggerating a little bit, but they did contain the general theme of “just write random shit Jen, I’ll probably read it anyway” which I promise is not what I was fishing for when I wrote that but thank you anyway.

I’ve decided to listen to both of all of my loyal readers and writing random shit that’s on my mind instead of abandoning the blog… today that random shit is that I have a new method of keeping my house clean that I’m calling “Musical Cleaning”. When I say I keep my house clean I should probably put “clean” in quotes… I am a highly creative and highly disorganized person with two small children. The only way my house is ever going to stay clean without the quotation marks is if I start doing meth or maybe crack cocaine and I have no intention of doing either. I value my teeth and ability to bend over in the shower far too much.

laundry room
This is a picture of my laundry room at this exact moment… I just wanted to make sure nobody was getting TOO impressed with my whole cleaning spiel.

Musical Cleaning is basically the adulting version of musical chairs. You pick a playlist (preferably something upbeat) and clean one room furiously and with great gusto until the song is over. As soon as that song is over you stop whatever you’re doing and move to the next room and clean it until the next song is done. Repeat until you’ve done all the main rooms in your house. If a room isn’t totally clean when the song is done, fuck it, it’ll be there tomorrow for another song.

There are a couple reasons I think this approach is the bomb. First, it’s not overwhelming. If I look at a super messy room and say to myself “I’m going to clean until this is clean” the reality is I won’t… I’ll find an excuse to do something else and not put a single thing away, but I can do basically anything for the duration of Livin’ La Vida Loca.

Secondly every room doesn’t have to happen at the same time, just at some point during the day. If I try to clean everything I will get interrupted two minutes in and then never start cleaning again after that, but unless one of my kids is bleeding profusely from the head they basically never need something that can’t wait till the end of one stupid song.

Thirdly, and probably most importantly, it gets me to do something without feeling like I have to do everything. And doing something… anything… is what adulting is all about after all.

See y’all, that’s what you get when you tell me to “just write”… you get posts about cleaning my bathroom and Ricky Martin classics. You brought this on yourselves.

Apparently I’m Too Happy To Blog

I’m not really sure what to do with this blog anymore.

If you haven’t noticed, the bulk of my writing over the last few years has essentially been hilarious complaining. Well maybe not hilarious… maybe more like slightly amusing and I’m flattering myself.

A friend told me once that nobody gave a shit about the things I wrote about… only how I wrote them. She said I had a talent for bitching about every day nuisances in such an amusing way that people actually wanted to hear me do it. I looked back through my most popular posts which were all about things like baby vomit, being slightly ill, or how poorly I react to 20 minutes without internet and couldn’t really argue with her.

But recently I’ve become unfortunate enough to have gotten basically everything I’ve ever wanted. Or… you’ve become unfortunate enough for me to have gotten everything I’ve ever wanted.

I’ve always had the best husband in the world but since he landed this fabulous new job I actually see him once in a blue moon (something that rarely happened before while he was working the old job that paid peanuts and trying to finish yet another degree). That job also moved us out of my least favorite environment (fuck the desert) and to my absolute favorite place where we bought my absolute dream house. My kids are healthy, my dogs are assholes but they’re adorable so who cares…

I think about writing here and have nothing to say that I think anyone gives a shit about. Nobody wants to hear “Dear Diary, Today I finished my book, colored with chalk for two hours with my kids, lazily sat in the sun drinking coffee and playing ukulele, and made salmon for dinner. It was a beautiful day.” My life is beautiful and amazing and fun and perfect… but I don’t know how to write those things. I know how to write about my inability to act like a grown up and trips to the ER.

I don’t want to just talk about my kids or homeschooling cause the world has enough of those blogs and honestly I think most of them are boring too. And I have my own story, I don’t want to drowned in my children’s.

I don’t want to be one of those bloggers who just writes responses to shitty things that happen in the world because that sounds depressing.

I don’t think I can write about serious stuff because I can barely take myself seriously, how can I expect other people to.

So what am I left with? I’m left with the perfect life but a blog without stories. And I don’t know what to do with it.

Funschool Sunday

What we’ve been doing instead of school these past couple weeks.
funschooling
1
. Learned the difference between the skeletons of birds that can fly and birds that can’t. What makes flight possible?
2. Aquarium
3-4. Zoo
5&15. Circus skills
6. Learned about the solar system through art.
7. Learned about crab life cycles, eco systems, how to find/catch/cook them.
8. Walked through the life cycle of salmon.
9. Learned about the edible plants in our yard.
10. Painting
11. Learning to ride bikes.
12. Climbing
13. Reading
14. How about pi and pie.
16. Powell’s City of Books

Hello, My Name Is Jen, and I Am An Old Lady

This morning started out like any other morning. I got up, started the coffee, went to the bathroom… but then, as I was washing my hands, I saw it. One bright silver hair mixed into my otherwise pitch black unruly mane.

hair

Just sitting there… staring at me. All silver and beautiful and very very much not black. Just sitting there staring at me like it was no big deal… like it’s very existence wasn’t a HUGE something.

The last time I found a grey hair on my head I was 20 and had a full on meltdown in the bathroom at my work, because I was positive I was now going to be like my stepdad… completely grey by the age of 22. My crisis was averted when I quickly discovered that it wasn’t actually a grey hair, I had just gotten sunscreen on one strand so I could wipe it off and move on with my life.

But this was definitely a real grey hair and it was definitely attached firmly to my head (I double and triple checked) and I couldn’t decide how I should feel. I’d always swore once I started going grey I was going to do so gracefully… because old age is a beautiful privilege that a lot of people don’t get, and because silver hair is gorgeous, and because embracing the maturity that you’ve earned is a wonderful thing, and because I want to set an example for my children about how I’m not afraid of getting old and about how society’s fixation on youth is stupid and blah blah blah.

And on the other hand I AM NOT EVEN 30!! All those cliche quips about aging gracefully I said when I thought I wouldn’t STILL BE IN MY FREAKING 20s when I started dealing with it! And OMG seriously you guys I AM NOT OLD YET!

So I had a crisis… but not a normal kind of crisis, I had a crisis over deciding whether or not I am supposed to have a crisis right now. A crisis over the possibility of a crisis over one stupid hair. Even at the time I realized how stupid it was so since I clearly can’t be trusted to think through this on my own I messaged a couple friends who’s opinions I trust nothing but the above picture… and got the following responses.

“It’s Beautiful!!!”
“I have tons of grey hair… clumps… but I kind of love grey hair so….”
“I’m jealous! It’s gorgeous!”
“I’m going grey all over, I hope mine turns silver like yours so I can be one of those badass silver haired old ladies.”
“Awesome! If you get a bunch more you can totally be Anna from Frozen for Halloween this year!”

So apparently the conflict I was having over the whole thing was not reflected in the minds of the women I love, trust, and turn to for advice in life. And since I pride myself on surrounding myself with amazing, strong, fabulous women I may as well take their advice when it’s offered… or when I specifically ask for it… so at least for now my crisis has ended. I am aging gracefully and embracing my new found natural highlights.

And yes I do mean “highlights” to be plurel… I went on a small search and officially have at least 3 shockingly silver hairs. But I’m ok… I’m ok… I’m ok… (I’m going to keep saying that until I’m fully convinced.)

The Beach is Only 1.5 Hours Away

So seriously… why don’t we go more? An hour and a half… that’s it. And we’ve been there only twice since we moved here how many months ago. (In my defense, David has been gone on work trips at least half that time and two kids at the beach by myself isn’t something I’m up for.)

Well yesterday we went. David is a hunter/fisher at heart and the Oregon coast is more full of clams, cockles, and crabs than you can shake a stick at.

clamming

The kids spent their day building with the sand, drawing in it, digging for clams along side David, investigating all the different forms of beach life… they learned all about the different kinds of clams, especially razor clams because they were the kind we were looking for. Of course they wanted to know where the clam’s poop out of because everything at this age leads back to the topic of butts.

Finn spent most of his time just digging. Digging digging digging.

_DSC0246

And Verona spent a lot of the day just running along the surf with joy.

_DSC0342

Being Single is OK, Being Cliche is Dumb

Dear Single People,

Quit bitching about Valentine’s Day.

Yep, I went there, I did. And yes, I’m well aware that I have no right to be telling you this seeing as how I haven’t been single on the big V Day since high school… but not having the qualifications to tell someone what to do has never stopped me before. (And isn’t the whole point of a blog the ability to run your mouth about things whether anyone should give a shit about your opinion or not?)

I get it… not having anyone to hold your hand over a candle lit dinner on February 14th means you’re not the key demographic this very minor holiday is aiming at. What I don’t get is why that stops you from having Valentine fun.

I am a little bit French, half “dark something” (<– that’s the technical term), and possibly Hobbit… there is not a drop of Irish blood in these veins that I’m aware of. And yet, somehow, I still manage to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day like it’s my mother fucking job. I can’t imagine anyone in this world who would describe me as particularly patriotic… yet I still manage to celebrate the 4th of July every year. Nobody within the key demographic that holidays are aimed at want to stop other people from having fun right along with them.

I’ve never been carded while attempting to buy a Car Bomb on March 17th and had the bartender say “Sorry lady, you’re definitely over 21 but that last name is clearly German. Go home and drink some ice tea you non-Irish poser, today isn’t for you.” I’ve never had the guys working the firework stand on July 4th shoo me out of the tent because I’m a Mennonite who doesn’t say the pledge. And I promise nobody is going to slap the glue stick out of your hand if you get out the red, white, and pink construction paper and try to make your BFF a card.

Sure, Valentine’s Day is about love, just like St. Patrick’s Day is about Irish heritage, and July 4th is about patriotism. But those days also about chocolate, green beer, blowing shit up… and chocolate, green beer, and blowing shit up all awesome.

So if you’re sad about not having a special someone in you’re life that’s fine, I understand why that might be bummer, you’re allowed to be bummed. If you just don’t like Valentine’s Day and don’t want to celebrate then don’t, you’re don’t have to. If you really, genuinely, get off on hating Valentine’s Day then invite another single friend over and eat cookie dough all night while you commiserate, cookie dough is magic and sometimes wallowing feels good.

But loudly bitching about Valentine’s Day because you’re single doesn’t make you sound edgy or counter cultural or like you’re making a point. It just makes you sound like a cliche, and that’s lame.

Instead go buy that 75% off chocolate on the 15th. I know I will be.

Why I’m Not Allowed Near Art Supplies

I was talking to a friend a few days ago who told me she can’t leave art supplies out because then her kids get into them unsupervised and there is always giant messes and she just can’t handle it. I was like, yep, I hear ya. I can’t leave art supplies laying around within people’s reach either. But it has absolutely nothing to do with my kids.

Today there was a bunch of ribbons, tacks, and various kinds of paint that got left out for whatever reason. So I picked them all up and put them away. Just kidding!
art6
I started to go clean up the kids room and was like “Hmmm… I bet I could use this ribbon to find a better way to display the kids art!” and spent like an hour measuring, cutting, and planning… then hanging floral ribbons from the ceiling to floor in my hallway that I can use paperclips to clip the kids’ art to now so I don’t have to fight with tape. Ta-da! The good news is I now have a super easy way to display my kids’ art. The bad news is I didn’t clean a damn thing.

Then I thought since I’d gotten too distracted in the kids room I’d clean my room instead… but then I saw more ribbon and was like “Hmmm… I bet I could use the rest of this to find a better way to organize my earrings!” so instead of cleaning a damn thing in my room I made an even bigger mess by dismanteling a giant picture frame, pounding the metal things that hold the glass in down, spray painting it blue… then not liking the blue and spray painting it green… then deciding the blue really was better and spray painting it blue again, then measuring, cutting, and planning how I was going to use the ribbon, and trying multiple ways to hold the ribbon in place until I found one that was successful. Ta-da! The good news is once I hang that bad boy up on the wall in my room I’ll have a super easy way to hang all my earrings and other jewelry so I don’t have to go all pirate on my dresser every day and dig for buried treasure. The bad news is I didn’t clean a damn thing.

Then I was talking to my friend Brittney, the conversation went in a fun/weird direction, so I drew a picture of what we would look like if our houses burnt down. That’s us sitting on our ash covered home foundations drinking coffee and waving to each other. The good news is… well actually that one wasn’t helpful at all other than maybe mildly amusing Brittney. And I didn’t clean a damn thing.

Then I walked past some paint and made a bunch of happy envelops to send people mail… letters that maybe I’ll get distracted enough to write someday. Or not.

I also played a lot of Beatles songs on the ukulele cause it was that kind of day and cause I probably shouldn’t leave that laying out where I can see it either. And I read a lot of books to the kids and they joined me in a lot of the art because I am good at spending time with my kids… just not good at keeping my house from looking like a tornado went through it.

You know what I didn’t do?
art5

Clean a damn thing.

Funschool Sunday

What’s been going on in our little corner of the homeschooling universe.
funs
1. Collections
2. Sculpting
3. MagnaTiles and Light tables
4. Face painting
5. Being a veterinarian
6. Learning about circuits
7. Learning about vogue-ing
8. Learning about air pressure
9. Learning about aerodynamics
10. Learning about electrical currents
11. Building
12. Clay
13-14. Swings
15. Cooking
16. Glazing