The One Where I Try Things From the Internet

Buckle up, y’all. This one’s a doozy.

So, a few weeks back my mother in law sent me the following video (I think halfway joking, but one can never be sure with that one…) saying that I ought to try it on our dog.

A word about our dog.

His name is Oliver, he’s a miniature labradoodle, and a complete and total brat. Y’all, I don’t even have words for this dog except to say that he is the definition of “extra.” If you accidentally step on his tail or foot, he howls and dramatically limps around as though he’s just been hobbled by Kathy Bates. He is SO dramatic and gets his feelings hurt easily. I am not making this up. Once, when we were on vacation and he was spending the week with our friend Diane and her dogs, he wanted to play with another pup. The other dog wasn’t having it and kind of bark/growled at Ollie. Diane said that Oliver literally ran to her lap and cried about it for 15 minutes. He sat on that woman and whimper/cried because someone didn’t want to play. Lawd.

Oliver is absolutely absurd about any sort of grooming, particularly about getting his nails trimmed. Once, I took him to the vet for a checkup and asked if they’d clip his nails because he won’t cooperate for me. At all. Ever. He put on an Oscar-worthy demonstration of theatrics until finally they took him in the back to do it because he was causing such a scene. He was back out in two minutes because the vet tech said, “He was totally fine once he was out of your eyesight.” Cue side eye from me.

Aaaand cut to yesterday!

I tried it. Y’all, I wrapped my head in plastic, smeared on some peanut butter, and went to work…because I’m not one to question the wisdom of the internet and also I’m desperate. And bored.

I’ll let the pictorial evidence speak for itself. (I apologize in advance for the cleavage, it can’t be helped.)

So, yeah. That happened. I can report that I successfully clipped four of his nails. This is four more than I usually clip so I’m counting it as a win. Gracious.

Unfortunately, I’m unable to upload the video footage of this delightful scenario directly to the blog because WordPress wants me to upgrade and I’m not sure this is fifty dollars worth of solid filmmaking, no offense to my ten year old cinematographer. I will, however attempt to post it to my Instastories and Facebook story because I have no shame and feel that it should be recorded for posterity, if only for 24 hours.

So, that’s a thing we did and I highly suggest that you try it and publicly share your results preferably in picture and/or video format. You know…for the inspiration of others.

Fashion Blogger

Welp, it’s been a minute hasn’t it? I don’t know how I’m suddenly so busy except to say that I’ve decided that it’s finally time for me to pursue my true calling in life and embrace my identity as fashion blogger.

I know what you’re thinking. “Mary Susan,” you think. “You’ve always been known as an international fashion icon! Whatever can you have up your obscenely fashionable sleeve??”

Well, let me just tell you what’s up. I feel as though my entire life has been leading me to this moment, a moment in which so many seemingly unrelated paths have converged resulting in a cataclysmic realization of my true calling as uber fashionable fashion person.

I mean…the fact that we’re in a global pandemic, giving me more time to focus on my looks, combined with the fact that one person on the internet told me that I should definitely do more how-to, instructional type posts ought to be enough confirmation for anyone that this is who I am now.

And so I begin. Ahem.


We currently find ourselves in a time of social isolation and many moderately attractive women are completely throwing in the towel! Is it acceptable to toss fashion to the wayside simply because we never leave our homes, never see humans aside from those we spewed forth from our loins, never have an occasion for dressing up??? I submit that it is both not acceptable and unacceptable.

Certainly, we are compelled to admit that times have changed and thus, fashion must change as well. Take me, for example. I have absolutely, 100% not at all let my looks go just because of a silly little pandemic. No, ma’am. I have merely adapted to the “new normal” as they say and have upgraded my normal “chic mom about town” look to a more relaxed “chic mom about house” vibe. Tres chic.

Here’s how to achieve this look in a few hundred simple steps:

First you’re going to want to be really sporadic about hygiene. Now is the time to go aaaalll natural and embrace the primitive essence of our ancestors. This means that if you do shower daily, you need to keep in mind that time in the shower is time away from your offspring and you certainly wouldn’t want that. At the very least, try to make sure that you don’t wash your hair. Just hit the important spots and get out of there asap before a kid gets out the glue again.

Now, some might argue that letting go of hygiene is literally the opposite of what I just said about not throwing in the towel. But let me remind you that we are playing the long game here. We’re going for wow-factor and impact, so setting the bar low for a while is important. Also, not showering allows you to literally not throw the towel in the laundry, thus saving some time for other more important pursuits like binge watching Schitt’s Creek (because ironic fashionistas do not watch Tiger King like commoners, thankyouverymuch.)

Okay, so the moment you shower, people will notice. I, for one, had not released my hair from a greasy ponytail for at least a fortnight. I showered yesterday, strode into my living room like a queen, and the people practically applauded.

When choosing an ensemble like the one above, here are some tips and tricks:

  • Pair your oldest, nastiest, holey-est (not holiest, save those for Sunday) pair of leggings with some slippers that smell like death are are also falling apart. They have these at Wal-Mart and sometimes come with the smell built right in. Voila!
  • Combine that with a dressed up top such as a doula t-shirt that reads, “Your worth is not measured in centimeters.” It’s both true and everyone knows that a good cervical dilation reference is all the fashion these days.
  • Next, throw on a cardigan because layering.
  • Now, you have the option of make up at this point. I personally just like to *think* about putting on make up. I find that the mere thought of make up is enough to flush the natural pigment of my face, so I just go with that. Either way, follow your heart.
  • Lastly, let that hair be free. Just let it hang all scraggly and limply wet.
  • Also, if you’re going to photograph your look, be sure to really dial in on the artistry of grunge by using a mirror that hasn’t been washed in ages and a cluttered and dusty background. People will think it’s a photo from Vogue and it practically is!

When I revealed this look yesterday, my eldest child literally said to me and I quote, “Wow, Mom! Are you going somewhere?? You look nice!!” Mission. Accomplished. Sassy. Fashion. Snap.

And here’s another note on hair. If you want to attempt to copy me (and who doesn’t) my biggest piece of advice is to let your hair air dry. It’s important to honor the hair and let it choose your fate. Your hair will lead you to fashion, that’s just the honest truth.

Again, I give you an example for to meditate upon. Here I am after letting my beautiful locks air dry while chatting on the phone with a pal about current events. Feast your eyes on the finished product.

I hope these tips and tricks have inspired you to aim for greater levels of beauty in these time of social distance. However, I do want to offer just a word of caution. Guys, we can’t all be me. Some of you are going to have to face facts and understand that natural beauty trumps effort every time. I’m sorry to say that some of you might have a hard time duplicating my looks and I’m immensely disappointed on your behalf. It’s tough to be this gorgeous and, while I’m sad that you’re probably jealous, I guess this is just my cross to bear.

Do let me know what other hard hitting fashion tips you’d like me to cover. I mean, I’m obv an influencer now, so it’s only a matter of time before the requests to do product reviews to start rolling in and I’m swamped with interviews for In-Style and Country Living. So, get those requests in now and I’ll be happy to continue to teach you how to be a fashion maven like moi!

xoxo,

Mary Susan

Weekly Mish-Mash

Hay, friends. Back in the day when blogging was kewl, people would do like a weekly wrap up and I’ve always thought it was fun. However devoted I am to blogging like it’s 2014, the truth remains that I’m not real good at following a schedule. Thus, this may be the only time I ever do this…only time will tell, I suppose. But anyway here’s a random conglomeration of stuff that happened around here this week. Enjoy!


I got a little crafty this week and managed to make this rosary hanger!

Obv you all need a tutorial to make this bad boy:

Step One: Raid your murdery basement for an attractively distressed piece of wood.

Step Two: Use a janky saw and the assistance of your children to cut the board to a random length. Don’t measure, just follow your heart.

Step Three: Buy some screw hooks and attache them all willy nilly. You can kinda measure, but when it gets to be too mathy, just eyeball it.

Step Four: Have your husband hang it up for you.

Optional Step Five: Go ahead and have your kids fiddle with it a lot because it’s too temptingly close to the heat register where they’re spending all their time because life is unfair and it’s snowing. Anyway, they’re going to need to fiddle with it quite a bit, until it falls and then you have to restring/rehang it. But it’ll be just fine and only one rosary bead should be lost. If you lose more, you’re doing it wrong, duh.


While I’m on the subject of tutorials, check out the amazing clean dish sculpture I made yesterday!!

I consider myself a bit of an expert on the creation of the clean dish sculpture. Since I’m so good at telling everyone how to do things properly, here are some pointers for the novice: It’s really important to include a full mix of dishes. You need to have a solid base of bowls and pots, but not too solid or it takes the element of danger out of it and if you’re not at least a little worried about that bowl you got as a wedding gift, are you even sculpturing?? I also like to mix in some colored kid’s plates and a smattering of cutlery to really showcase the flow of the piece. Upon completing one of these masterpieces, I like to time it so I can pat myself on the back and then turn around to see that a child has left a dirty plate on the counter. It really speaks to the impermanent nature of art and life, don’t you think?


Now for the fashion portion of our blog! The kids (and grown ups) received hand made masks from Granny in Texas. Pandemic, but make it fashion!

The smiles on these little faces were a sight to behold…I think.

Truly, the kids were so excited to get these masks and Granny is so cool she even had Star Wars fabric for everyone, so it was a hit. Obviously, I wish we didn’t need them, but I’m so grateful to have them!

Some of the chums received new Eastery jammies from their Nana and there was some seriously adorable modeling happening last night, if I do say so myself.


Speaking of yesterday, man was that a long ride on the struggle bus. Lawd. I feel like everyone’s emotions have been very cyclical. We’re fine until we’re not and then we’re sobbing hysterically because we can’t remember the number forty. Not kidding, that was a serious source of consternation for one of our guys yesterday. Gracious.

Thankfully, his daddy, who is his number one best friend forever for life these days, came home from work and then life was good again. I’m always just broken down with thankfulness when the hubz comes home from work (for a multitude of reasons) and I’m not the only one. The guy can’t get in the door without being mobbed by every person in the house desperately needing to be held and tell him all of the important things that happened. He just scoops them all up and listens and loves on them like the saint he is. We hit the jackpot with that one, y’all.

Yesterday he also brought home packages from Nana that included hot cocoa mix AND Spaghettio’s ABCs and 123s, so I’m predicting that morale will be much improved today. Fingers crossed and all that.


A fun activity! Our wonderful, wonderful preschool shared a fun link to a Covid-19 Time Capsule. It’s such a fun idea and it’s got free printable journal pages for kids to record how they’re feeling, what activities they’ve done to fill their time, books they’ve read, etc.

It’s a really cute idea and I looooove time capsules. Of course when we tried to do it, people ended up throwing pencils because they weren’t doing it “right” whatever that means, so perhaps we’ll revisit it at a later date. Lord give me grace, etc, etc.


And last, I was joined this morning by a gal who lost a tooth last night…and by ‘lost’ I mean she pulled it out with a bloody vengeance that is surprising coming from one so sweet and gentle. She takes great joy in ripping teeth from her head, which makes me absolutely shudder and gag in horror. It’s the quite ones you have to watch, I’m told…

This would’ve been a picturesque morning of bible study, journaling, and hanging with my girl, but alas the noises of a child slurping hot chocolate make me rather stabby. Not gonna lie, y’all, I’m struggling with the constant noise and neediness that comes from social distancing with four kids. I’m trying real hard to offer it up and remember that God can be found in the most mundane of tasks and frustrating of moments. So, even if my morning prayer time is less than peaceful and I’m currently running on a constant level of annoyance, I’m praying that I’ll view the kids as less of an interruption and more through the lens of vocation.

And, as I’ve been interrupted in writing this about four gajillion times now, I’ll end the rambling. You are loved, my friends!

Mary Susan

The Delagrange School for Wayward Children Salon and Day Spa, Inc.

Since last I wrote, I’m happy to report that my life has seriously increased in the glamour department.

When the initial stay at home order began, I had great aspirations of what I was going to accomplish with all my “free time.”

Y’all, we have established the fact that I am a liar, but let us also make it clear that I am not smart.

I have been a parent for ten years now, so I have no excuse as to why I foolishly thought that this time of intense social distancing would be the magic moment I’ve been waiting for to get my shit together. I have no other explanation than to say that clearly I was either in denial or delusional or both when I energetically and optimistically told my husband that, “The house is going to be spotless! I’m going to deep clean the kitchen! There will be purging! It’ll be cleaner than ever!” Incidentally, I also told him that my goal was to be skinnier at the end of the mandated social distancing than at the beginning, but based on the fact that I’m super dedicated into the Quarantine Carb Diet of 2020, the odds of that happening are decidedly not in my favor. Cest la vie.

Obv, we know that my house has never been grubbier. ‘Grubbier’ is a euphemism for “looks like a crap hole.” Y’all, there are sprinkles on my kitchen counter that were spilled in a freak cabinet avalanche over a week ago. I have no intention of cleaning them up. That’s just beyond my skill set at this point. I may, however, create a tiny memorial wreath to place upon the sprinkle pile to honor those sparkly bits of sugar lost in the accident, may they shine on in eternity. That seems prudent.

The other day, I did reach the point of cabin fever in which I rearranged the entire living room by myself and all of the electronics are still in working order, so I’ve got that going for me. But, suffice it to say, things around here have been…tenuous. I seem to vacillate between being on top of the laundry and using it to barricade the front door. I mean, why fold clean clothes and put them away when you can block any would be visitors from entry? It seems like a logical next step in social distancing to me and as my husband said, probably also filters all the air coming in through the gaps in the door, so win-win!

Aaanyway, since it’s Holy Week and since the kids have a bit of a break from school work, they’ve been exercising their imaginations and have been very resourceful in their play. That, combined with the fact that I clearly have lost all reason and gave them free rein of the nail polish allows me to happily inform you that the Delagrange School for Wayward Children now hosts its own Salon and Day Spa.

We. Are. Fancy.

Yesterday, I was able to visit the gym (aka, work out in peace while the kids painted their nails/the table) and then I received a full spa treatment that really upped my relaxation game. Please, feast your eyes:

“Get ready to feel relaxed.” Or “relayed.” Either way, get ready.

When I entered the spacious spa facility I was greeted by three attendants, one of whom was a dog, another who was an overzealous intern, and the last of whom was highly tolerant of her co-workers. She’s gonna get a shout out on Yelp, for sure.

I was treated to a nice warm water fingertip soak and a facial treatment that included a soaking wet towel that I was assured was warm at some point, but was decidedly chilled when it reached my pores. ‘Twas quite refreshing. I then enjoyed a lovely massage and hair brushing experience that was both unique and effective. What can I say? I’m a new woman now.

We followed up our spa treatment with a trip out of doors to enjoy the fine weather and go “Honking” which means we walk to the overpass near our house and try to get all the trucks to honk at us. It works best if you fight over which truck is “yours” while simultaneously screaming, “HONK!!! HONK!!! HOOOONNNKKKKK!!!!!!!” at the top of your lungs. (In case anyone is wondering, my smart watch did in fact give me a warning about my loud environment potentially damaging my hearing. That ship has sailed, dear watch.)

So, yeah. That’s our current situation. Day spa-ing it up, honking all the trucks, and we also had our own small Tenebrae service last night, which was genuinely really lovely. Because after all of the bickering and messes and tense emotions of the day, seeing your babes bathed in candlelight and reading the Old Testament is really a beautiful way to end the day.

I hope you’re finding ways to keep adapting and smile as you make your way through Holy Week, my friends. There is so much good to be seen, so much we’ve been given. You are loved!

Mary Susan

Note: At the time of publication, there is actual snow falling from the sky. And so the Lentiest Lent that ever Lented continues to get Lentier. But there is a pair of cardinals visiting our fairy garden in the snow, so life can’t be all that bad. Stay well, dear friends…Peace and perseverance in all things!

Additional postscript: A concerned reader just reached out to check on my tweezer situation. I am relieved to report that my saintly mother mailed me a pair of tweezers, so the facial hair dilemma has finally been resolved. Thank you for your support and understanding during this difficult time. I will update you in the future if we ever return to that perilous state.

Ask Ms. Gail

Found yourself stuck between a rock and a hard place with the kiddos? Or perhaps you’ve found yourself stuck in a weird nook in the clubhouse you’ve been told repeatedly that you really won’t fit in?

If you’re anything like me, we’re almost two weeks in and still struggling a bit with our new normal. Social distancing, shelter in place, watching the numbers of confirmed cases rise, counting celebrity diagnoses, juggling school work, vying for attention and computer time are all contributing to the fact that errabody at our house is getting a liiiittle bit twitchy. And maybe a little stabby. At the very least we’ve got cabin fever and a very short fuse.

With that in mind, I’d like to introduce you to my friend, Ms. Gail! I have this weird ability to collect very useful friends and right now, Ms. Gail might be the most usefullest of all. She’s a teacher at my kids’ preschool, happens to go to our church, and is an all around kind and decent human. She also has a Bachelors in Child Development and Family Studies, a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction, and PhD in Urban Studies with a specialization in Learning and Development. Boom.

Ms. Gail has personally helped our family navigate some weird behavior issues (kid issues and parent issues, let’s be honest) and she is such a good teacher. When our kids started showing some signs of stress and I felt my parenting slipping into reactionary anger mode, I reached out to see if she had some advice I could share on Ye Olde Blaaagh. Happily, she obliged, and I’ve got some great info for you all. I’m going to split these up into a few posts, but for right now I want to leave you with these words from Gail:

 First of all, many children have been home for going on two weeks. The newness, excitement of not having to go to school, and being able to stay home is probably wearing off or long gone. Children are feeling stressed at this time. No matter how much we try and protect them from the news all children realize something is happening.

If adults haven’t already, they should have an age appropriate conversation about what is happening. Not scary but why we all need to stay home. Also, limit how much news and conversations about what is happening around children. Children hear everything, even if you think they are busy and not listening they are! 

I have said many times, “It’s hard for me to wrap my head around what is happening,” and I, as an adult, have the ability to understand. Children do not have the cognitive or emotional abilities to fully understand what is happening, so they will make sense of what they hear in their own way and it will likely be much scarier than we can imagine. They are missing their friends and teachers and they are getting sick of their siblings and adults in the house!

Above anything else, let patience and kindness guide you. There is no best way of handling this situation. Don’t compare yourself to any other parent/family. Do what you and your children need.

I told you she was good.

I was going to split this up into a bunch of different posts, but decided to lump it all together into one resource. Here’s the table of contents:

  • “Reading” Kids’ Behavior: How Children Communicate Stress and How We Can Help – p. 2
  • Guidelines for Talking About Current Events With Children – p. 3
  • How to Manage Anger and Cabin Fever – p. 4
  • Navigating the Transition From Traditional School to Home – p. 5

Hard Reset or The One Where I'm a Big Fat Liar

Welp, we hit a wall yesterday. We hit. a. wall.

I didn’t sleep well, tossed and turned all night, then woke up to nerves because I was asked to do a (very short, not spectacular, I was only asked because I was probably the first one to pick up my phone) Skype interview with a cable news station about my doula work. 

Obv the computer camera wouldn’t connect to Skype. I had to do a hard reset and it finally connected, I’m happy to say I handled it maturely like the adult I am. PS. I’m a liar.

Obv I bribed the kids with candy bars and popsicles (yes, both) to be quiet while I talked to the news lady.

Obv they were only kind of quiet.

Obv I gave them candy bars and popsicles anyway because I’m all about mercy right now and you can only expect so much out of 4 and 6 year old boys, ammirite?

I was crabby all morning, but decided we’d turn it around! We’d take a neighborhood walk! We could do this! We got our shoes and jackets on and headed out!

At which point it started POURING rain.

Never to be deterred, with our great attitudes in hand (lying again), we just got our umbrellas and decided to embrace the mess. This was the high point of our day.

After baths and new clothes and starting some laundry, I settled in to digitally submit a week’s worth of school work for three children. It was a delight. It was quick and easy and required no critical thinking. I am a lying liar who lies.

Then whole afternoon just spiraled. To buy myself time to submit the school papers, I let them have screen time. But when I announced that screen time was over, the littlest bub among us lost his ever-loving miiiiiiind and literally screamed for 15 minutes straight because he couldn’t play Mario anymore. 

I responded with compassion, patience, and grace. I am a lying liar who lies. I lie a lot of lies.

Once the cherub was finally settled and I had broken up about forty-seven fights over topics ranging from the proximity of a chewing child to his or her cohorts, the volume of the chewing thereof, disputed ownership of a balloon, and the nature of squatter’s rights in regard to television viewing seats, I started to cook dinner. 

I had had a brilliant idea earlier in the day that I ought to try my hand at homemade focaccia bread. Because I’m good at picking the right day to try something new.

The particular recipe I used called for a steam bath as the bread is baking. “Cool, no problem,” I thought. “I’ll just toss this pyrex dish in the oven while it preheats to four hundred degrees and then I’ll pour the water in!” 

Now, obviously this is the time of the day that I *should have* remembered Mrs. Jackson’s seventh grade science class in which a hot beaker was filled with cold water and it broke everywhere and probably no one got detention because Mrs. Jackson is nice. But, alas and alack, I forgot Mrs. Jackson’s class (please forgive me, Kathie, I love you). At this point in the day, I lost all ability to employ common sense, so as you can guess I exploded a glass dish in my oven.

It didn’t really phase me. (Lying. Obv. Also, remind me to digitally submit my kids’ dissertation in a couple of weeks. It’ll be titled, “Swearing for Beginners: Fun and Fanciful Words I Learned On My School Break.”)

The child who spent his afternoon screaming his face off while demanding to be held (and also peed on me a little during the exchange) saw it all happen. He very casually informed me that he, “didn’t like that” and then asked for a snack. 

While I was cleaning up the mess, the eldest stood by observing and commented, “Mom, you’re allowed to make mistakes. It’s okay,” which would’ve been received better if her tone hadn’t been so condescendingly patronizing. 

We finally ate dinner, during which we go around the table and share two things we’re thankful for, one bummer from the day, and mention someone we’re praying for. Four out of four kids’ bummer was that, “Mom yelled a lot today.” Don’t fret. My husband and I had a big talk about how they’re growing up to be the most horrible little liars.

All of this to say, there’s still probably glass shards in my oven and I woke up this morning to find a new chin hair and pepper inexplicably stuck in my teeth. 

I’m sure there’s a metaphor of some sort in here, but I just really need y’all to know that it’s okay for this to suck and for you to hit a wall. (Literally? Figuratively? Only time will tell!)

(PS. I totally forgot about the part of the day in which I let the kids eat sprinkles so I could clean up glass and then they obviously dumped them on the floor. But I’m raising them to contribute around the house, so I tasked them with cleaning that one up…)

War Crimes

I like to tell my kids this is a benevolent dictatorship…and I kind of run a communist style ship around here, if I’m being honest. Everybody shares everything, too bad if you don’t like it, no soup for you, I’m not sorry.

 

So, seeing as I’m basically my family’s Vladimir Putin and all, I thought I’d take a little time to charge some folks for some war crimes. As one does.

28166-unaxzb

 

 

 

 

 

Maggie, age 6

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#wildwoman #newyearseve

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Charged with Inciting Panic. You know that hour right after dinner when you’re completely exhausted from being an adult all day and the act of pretending like you’ve got your life together is really taking its toll? You know…it’s the hour when you feel as though all the life blood has been sucked from your body by a parasite and you’re about to fall into an unbathed pile of exhaustion. This is the hour in which she strikes. She will sneakily lure unsuspecting younger siblings to the stairs and whisper potty jokes to them, convincing them that screaming “poopy diaper head” in the faces of your dinner guests is a good idea. She will laugh maniacally while forcing you to listen to yet another knock-knock joke. Under the guise of entertaining her little brother, she will start a game of “chase” in which someone most certainly will be tripped and maimed. She will insist on leading the others in illegal games of “jump all over the damn couch even though Mom told us eight thousand times not to” and “let’s all violently wrestle until Lily’s hair gets pulled and she shrieks like a banshee.”

 

 

Lily, age 3 

 

Charged with Harassment and Stalking. She’s kind of the least offender because I truly believe that her intentions are pure…but she’s always there. She’ll demand to help with every single task ever of all time. Have some strong chemicals you want to clean with? She’ll pour. Have a sharp knife you’d like to chop with? She’ll show you how it’s done. Have some detailed sewing to be done? She’ll hold the needles. Have to finish your taxes? She’ll file ’em for ya. Have some sleep you’d like to get? She’s in your bed. However, if you actually ask her to help with a task she’s so uninterested it’s not even funny. Chores to be done? Nah, she’ll sit an observe the other fools and cry rather than comply.

 

Also, she’s an accessory to every other crime committed. She’s not usually the mastermind (…yet. Kid’s brilliant, so once she realizes her powers I have no doubt that she’ll use them for evil), but she’s usually coerced into helping, so we’ll let her off with a lighter sentence and call it good.

 

 

Everett, age 2

 

Charged with Aggravated Assault. Even his hugs hurt. Gentlemen visiting our home are advised to wear an athletic cup in order to protect themselves from the colossal skull that will crush their testicles approximately ninety-seven times during their visit. Also, watch for flying dump trucks being launched down the stairs, blocks torpedoed toward faces, and strategically placed Hot Wheels that were definitely not under your feet a second ago, but most certainly are under your feet now that you’re carrying a lot of stuff. The perpetrator has been known to climb basically anything with an elevation of…off the ground. So, watch for falling boys, as well.

Also, while we’re at it, let’s charge him with Indecent Exposure and Disorderly Conduct. You know, for good measure. And ’cause he never wears pants.

 

Remy, age 8 months

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Over it. #grumpybear #remyvincent

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Charged with Disturbing the Peace. Bro doesn’t sleep. Or rather, he sleeps, but only long enough to give you the illusion that you’re going to be able to get something done. He’ll nap juuuust long enough for you to get right into the deep disgusting middle of finally cleaning out the refrigerator and then he strikes. It basically goes on like that ad nauseam.

 

Alright, so that’s my legal work done for the day. Time to go dole out punishments! Mwuahahahaha!

You Matter

Guys, I’m struggling a lot lately and I know a lot of other people who are, too. It just seems like so many of us can’t catch a break. We don’t feel seen, we don’t feel heard. A myriad of big and little hurts has piled up and we can’t catch our breath for the weight of life pressing down on us. This is hard.

 

But here is what I know to be true: We matter. You matter.

 

flowers stock photo

 

Pope Benedict XVI said,

We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.

 

You are necessary, friend. You are valuable. You were thought up and planned out and you are important.

 

I’m going to take some time today to meditate on that truth, the truth that I’m necessary and I’m loved. I’m going to dig deep and breath deep and do my damnedest to feel it deep in my core that I am a remarkable creation, deeply loved by God, redeemed by Christ, and pursued by the Holy Spirit. And you are, too.

 

You are so incredible. I hope you know that.

 

xoxo,

Mary Susan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo via https://www.pexels.com/photo/flowers-flower-pink-17666/

On Bodies

I knew it would happen sooner or later. Kids are curious and vocal, so I can’t say I was super surprised by the question my five-year-old posed to another mom after story time.

 

“Do you have a baby in your belly?”

 

Shit.

 

She clearly didn’t. I mean, she was wearing an empire waist dress, but she was obviously not pregnant. Also, we’ve got a hard and fast rule about saving your questions/comments about other people’s bodies until we’re in a private place.

 

The mom (a new and wonderful friend even after the comment, thank goodness) brushed it off with a self deprecating comment about how her belly was just “big” – she’s got a body I totally envy, by the way – and we got on with our conversation. It really wasn’t a big deal, except it was. It is a big deal.

 

Body image is a huge deal to me, something I desperately want to get right with my kids. I know without a shadow of a doubt that these little souls in my care are completely and utterly beloved by their Creator. I believe that more than I believe almost anything else in the whole world. They are glorious creatures and I will fight to the death for them to know that and hold it as truth deep within themselves.

 

I feel like I’m in a losing fight, though. I mean, I’m just one person and these sweet babies are living in a broken world, a twisted system that has been screaming the opposite from the moment they were born. My five-year-old girl has already been so inundated with labels, and appearance, and the importance of prettiness…it’s second nature to her and to me, too, if I’m honest.

 

I also feel like I’m up against a ticking clock. Right now, these kids take my word for Gospel. But that window is rapidly closing and we all know the day will come when my opinion won’t count half as much as the opinions of their peers. And I get that it’s just the way it goes.

 

I’m also very aware of politeness. I mean, it’s generally pretty rude to make comments about people’s appearance. And the Southerner in me is horrified by the thought of having impolite children.

 

But, after the episode at the library, I couldn’t bring myself to chastise my daughter because I really didn’t feel that she’d done anything wrong. I refuse to squelch her curiosity and I felt like the whole thing was more of an issue of tact than anything else. Honestly, I had no idea how to broach the subject with her.

 

Because the whole damn thing is a catch 22, isn’t it? At our house we believe that all humans deserve dignity and respect because they are creations of God. We believe that all bodies are worthy of respect…big, fat, tall, skinny, whatever. Those are descriptors. All bodies are valuable and, because of that value, they are beautiful. But we also believe that words have power. So, even though I know the word “fat” is just a descriptor, and even though I know that  am fat and most days I’m okay with that because the word “fat” in no way negates my value as a human, I also know we’re functioning in a broken system. I can’t very well teach my kids that words like “fat” are just descriptors and send them out to the playground. The first time they describe someone as “fat,” they’ll be accused of being mean and that’ll leave them so confused and hurt.

 

So what do I do? How do I teach my daughter to love her body and to recognize all bodies as valuable and worthy of love in a world that won’t play ball?

 

I stewed over this for weeks and finally called my best friend who gave me some good advice, ’cause that’s what brilliant best friends do. Acknowledging the weird double-standard of the situation, we agreed that my aforementioned rule of “don’t talk about people’s bodies until we’re in a private place,” should stand. And then she suggested that I give the kids some options. And it’s brilliant. In my experience, children respond better to alternatives than to just being told to say or do nothing. Teaching kids methods of self soothing as an alternative to violent outbursts is far more successful than just telling them not to get mad, for example. Also, I don’t like the idea of children internalizing things and not being allowed to ask questions. We need more question askers in my opinion.

 

So, instead of saying, “Is there a baby in your belly?” my daughter can say, “I love the happy colors in your dress,” and then feel free to ask me about the baby thing when we’re one-on-one.When I discussed it later with the kids, it went a little something like this,

We know that it doesn’t matter what you look like, a person’s heart is what makes them beautiful. But not everybody knows that. Sometimes people believe that you have to look a certain way to be beautiful or people sometimes think that there’s something wrong with their bodies. And it seems kind of silly to us because we know that that’s not true, but those people are confused and it makes them sad to talk about their bodies. We always want people to feel loved when they’re with us, so we don’t talk about things that might make them sad or hurt their feelings.  If you have a question about someone’s body or how they look, that’s totally fine, but wait until we’re alone and then you can ask me about it without being rude.

 

And then I gave them some options of what to say instead.

“I love the way your eyes look when you smile.”

“I like your purple shirt; that’s one of my favorite colors!”

“You look really strong/happy/joyful/healthy today.

“I really like playing with you; you’ve got great dance moves.”

I also think it’s important to consider how to compliment and comment on the person rather than just their appearance.There was a fantastic article by Sarah Powers in the Washington Post on how to compliment little girls that addresses this really, really well. Haley over at Carrots for Michaelmas also has a good post on how to nurture a positive self-image in our girls.

While I certainly haven’t solved the world’s body image issues here, I think I’ve found a solution that will work for our family. We’ve practiced what we might say in certain social situations, but I’m not naive enough to believe that there won’t be more awkward gaffes in our future. And that’s cool because that’s how we learn. Ultimately I just want to raise some decent humans who make other humans feel decent, too.

What are your thoughts on teaching young kids about body image and respecting others? How would you have handled the situation? Lemme know!

xoxo,

Mary Susan

Things They Don’t Tell You

The other day, my dear friend Amy and her family were over for dinner. They’ve got three kids who fit right in between the ages of ours and our oldest girls are besties. We love getting together because we can just manhandle the craziness and the more the merrier and everybody loves chaos and sometimes we drink. Also, my sister-in-law happened to be over that night as well.

 

So, house full of people is what I’m saying.

 

Y’all, it was so fun. Because I’m a secret communist or because I’m dedicated to dorm life or something, we’ve got all the kids’ beds in one room leaving the extra bedroom as a dressing/play room and it. is. awesome. All the kids played semi-nicely upstairs. The grown-ups had real conversations and we ate pizza and it was great.

 

Until we heard a little voice yell, “Jovi just threw up!”

 

And, sure enough, she did. Poor kid stood right at the top of the stairs and just yakked straight down ’em. To say it was epic would not do it justice. It was a masterpiece.

 

And as Amy and I were cleaning vomit off of every stair in my house, she looked at me and said, “You know, you think you’re going to have this little baby and it’ll be so snuggly and sweet… But nobody tells you that your baby is going to turn five and throw up down the stairs at your friend’s house.”

 

And we both laughed like maniacs because it’s totally true. And also, when you’re cleaning puke, you might as well laugh ’cause what choice do you have?

 

The good news is, my stairs got cleaned for the first time since I’ve lived in this house. So, that’s a thing.

 


 

And I’ve been thinking a lot about the things they don’t tell you…

 

Like, nobody tells you about how little boys grab their junk from day one. That happens, guys, it’s weird.

 

And nobody tells you that someday you’ll be struggling to teach your daughter how to squat and pee because the dang bathroom at the park is locked. And wow, is it hard to teach someone how to squat to pee. It does not come naturally, unlike junk grabbing, apparently.

 

When they hand you your darling baby boy and tell you to take him home from the hospital, nobody tells you that someday (presumably after you’ve boasted to the internet that he’s knocking potty training out of the park) he’ll alert you to the fact that he’s pooped his pants…right as you’re changing the baby’s diaper. You won’t think this is that big of a deal until you see said poop running down his leg and onto your couch (damn you to hell, Burger King nuggets). They don’t tell you that this will happen when you have a friend over.

 

But here’s the thing. When they hand you that baby and they tell you he’s yours, they also don’t tell you that you’re in the club now. You’re part of the larger fraternity of parenthood and we are tight-knit bunch. They don’t tell you that, if you play your cards right, you’ll be able to seek out some like-minded compatriots who will be there for all the other stuff they don’t tell you about.

 

So, sure. They don’t tell you that your kid is going to puke in public or poop on the couch when you have company…but they also don’t tell you that you’ll have somebody to commiserate. If you’re lucky, you’ll have someone right there with you, elbow deep in vomit. You’ll have a buddy who brings you coffee and then cleans poop off of your couch unasked while you scrub your kid upstairs. You’ll have someone you can text at 3 am to ask how to get horrifying stains out of microfiber or to message about how comfort nursing is making your skin crawl. They don’t tell you you’ll have brothers in arms, but you will. You totally will.

 

Which is good, because they also don’t tell you that while you let the Mad Pooper soak in the tub so you can run to check on the couch, he’ll poop in there, too. When you discover that monstrosity, the little guy will say, “Look, Mama! I made you coffee!”