Friday, February 28, 2014

To the Kid Haters (Me Included)


They need food and water constantly.

They get sick and poo their pants.

They decide spray paint is PERFECT for decorating neighbors’ houses.

They think the words “pet” and “insect” are one-in-the-same.

They love spaghetti on Monday and hate it on Tuesday.

They get a kick out of breaking every single nice thing, ever.

They decide a nice, swift smack in the face is a great way to say “Love you, Mama!”

They require new clothes and new shoes constantly.

They think clean teeth are wet teeth.

They play piano on your computer keyboard like deranged little Beethovens.

They take a strong interest in anything that comes out of the body.

They enjoy listening to the same song nine billion times in 24 hours.

They are incredibly loud and often obnoxious.

And until I had my own children… mental list of child characteristics stopped right here. All bad things. All irritating things. Some funny things, but mostly irritating things.

I still find myself collaborating with the new cultural norm of hatin on kids....those e-cards about bottomless bottles of wine for moms everywhere...."this is what I think I do/this is what I really do"..... memes of kids acting like total jerks....I've pinned this stuff. I think it's funny. But recently, it's started to depress me a little. When did we get so negative about parenting?

More and more people are choosing not to have kids - which is absolutely ok! ...but I've never seen so much "ha-ha, I win, you lose" crap in my life.

Ha-ha, I choose me.

Ha-ha, me and my partner on a beach, with strong drinks, and lotsa money...this is no kids.

Ha-ha, life is better without children #sorryimnotsorry

We've injected so much sarcasm and dark humor into parenting, it's no wonder those without kids think having kids is the equivalent of a living hell (see above list about kids)

…but here’s the hitch – when you witness all the tiny, impossible moments known only by you and your baby, you begin to understand why people are obsessed with their kids.

It’s not about losing yourself in another person. It’s not about giving up your life for motherhood. It’s not about all the bad things.

Parenting is about expanding your life to participate in an absolutely unique, evolutionary, and unexplainable thing…the creation of another person.

My girls are little orbs of potential. I’m blessed with not only the responsibility of teaching them how to succeed in today’s society, but also the joy of watching them grow into actual people….with their own minds, their own gifts, their own contributions to this funky little dance we call life.

Yes, they still poo their pants sometimes.

Yes, I've lost some friends and many of my remaining relationships are altered.

But you know, in a few short years, these kids will be grown. I only get a few years of influence here before they start looking up to morons like Miley Cyrus ***shudder*** or geniuses like Einstein ***applause***

My kids will either be total jerks, totally awesome, or a nice blend of both. I believe both nature and nurture play a role in how someone ends up in life. And slap my grits, if I’m not gunnin' like heck to make my kid less jerk and more awesome.

This means cleaning up the poo and crying randomly sometimes. It means I’m going to say no a lot. It means I’ll have to deal with people saying things like “I’m so sick of these BABY pictures ” and “I am never having kids because I want a life.” (Ouch, by the way. That's not nice.) It means my life will never, ever be the same.

I’ll be tickling chubby toes and pretending to gobble up baby feet.

I’ll be teaching my daughter how to stand up to bullies on the playground.

I’ll be squishing my kids against me at 6AM on a Saturday, an elbow in my ribs, books and blankets everywhere.

I’ll be working, working, working to provide these soon-to-be adults with real-life examples of living the dream.

I’ll be greeted with squeals of laughter and sheer joy just because I walked in the door.

I’ll witness astounding, spectacular things, like my 2nd grader’s art....

....and my toddler saying, “I’m sowwy…big squeeeeze?”

I’ll learn things about myself I would’ve never learned alone....good things. Incredible things. 

These are the simple, understated, unappreciated elements of kids. These are the things that make the poo worthwhile.

I poke fun at my choice to be a mom, and at kids, at at parenting in general, because parenting is hard....but the trials and tribulations never, ever outweigh the insane happiness I get from my lil' ladies. Most parents will tell you the same. 

Do you have anything positive to say about kids? Hint: Try not to think about the hellion you witnessed spewing horrific noises from his mouth at Target. 

And you don't need to be a parent to answer this question ... matter of fact, it would be awesome to hear from those who don't have kids. GET CREATIVE IF YOU HAVE TO.

Word t'ya mutha, lovely readers. 


Friday, February 21, 2014

The Consequences of Purchasing Cheap Meat

Last night, as I was trucking three overflowing bags into the house (gym, lunch, purse - you commuters know what I'm talkin about!), I felt my phone vibrate - *vrrrrrrrrrrr* I stopped on the landing to take off my shoes, coat, scarf - *vrrrrrrr*

I opened the door to a bounding, leaping dog, a skittering cat, and my big girl calling from three rooms over "HEY MOMMA! GUESS WHAT I DID TODAY!?" My little one was successfully screaming over all the other noise, "maMA maMA maMA maMA maMA!" I scooped her up so she wouldn't be trampled by the dog. She poked me right in the eye and said, "EYEEE." Aaron just smiled at me from over the stove -*vrrrrrrrrr*

Oh yes, crap, the phone....

I dug the phone out of my pocket. The lock screen showed I had a text. My little one poked me in the ear and said, "EEEER." My big girl was still shouting from the other room, "I JUST GOTTA TELL YA MOM, IT WAS AAAWWWWESOME!"

I swiped the unlock screen on my phone and pulled up the text. Ruh-roh. My heart sank as I read my friend's words....she'd recently stumbled upon a video of slaughterhouse employees slamming piglets around by their feet and doing unspeakable things to the wee piggies before they'd even been killed.

"I was wondering if you've ever heard or seen this? ....could you help me get in contact with someone so I can make sure this isn't happening anymore...?"

She was completely torn apart by the images and admitted to breaking down a few times. An avid animal lover, she couldn't understand why such horrific actions were necessary to producing and processing our meat products. 

I stood there, holding the little one, telling the big one I couldn't wait to hear about her day, silently thanking Aaron with what I hope was a look of gratitude, and feeling my heart quicken a little. I knew this topic. I knew this topic very well. Even amid all the chaos, I became so, so excited to share my resources with my friend.

I've written about grass fed beef before....but this time, I'm aiming to think a little more "big picture."

What exactly are the consequences of purchasing cheap meat?

I think to answer that question we first need to define what "cheap meat" means. Most of you know I am an loyal patron of Wallace Farms. They are my go-to for all meat products, from brats and burgers to holiday hams.

I've convinced a few friends to order from Wallace and I've found I always need to warn them about the sticker shock. I purchase from the sale section and can normally score some amazing deals....but for the average American, who is accustomed to picking up a $3.99 pack of boneless chicken breasts from the same place they get their fruit, bread, and coffee, there's bound to be a not-so-pleasant reaction when they find out Wallace sells boneless chicken breasts for over $10/lb. That's right. I said over $10 a pound for chicken breasts.

Why are they so expensive? Well, for one, these chickens aren't kept in dark, cramped, confined spaces and fed through tubes. Wallace Farms partners with North Iowa Produce to provide fresh, clean, healthy chickens to their customers. Go ahead. Click on the link. You'll come face-to-face with real pictures of both the chickens and the processing plant.

Do you read what I'm telling you? Pictures of their processing plant. Transparency like this is unheard of in animal production. Just another day for Wallace Farms and friends.

The North Iowa Produce birds live longer, healthier lives, never receive growth hormones, and every single bird is inspected.

Every. Single. Bird. 

So let's add all this up - you've got a bird living in a clean, open-range environment, living twice as long as commercially-produced chickens, eating organic, high-quality food, kept healthy without antibiotics, hand-slaughtered, hand-cleaned, and hand-inspected in a glistening, clean processing facility.....

....are you catching what I'm throwing out here?

They are expensive to buy because they are expensive to make. Those packages you find in the grocery store with the "special" sticker on them, going for $3/lb "today only?" That's cheap meat. Makes you wonder exactly what they needed to cut out to create such low prices.

For some reason, people are quick to pay the extra dollar when it comes to cars, TVs, or other non-essentials, but balk like they're about to be lit on fire when they see high food prices. I get it, don't get me wrong. I spend a fortune on groceries for my family of four....but I do so willingly. This is important. It's like comparing a Nissan to an Audi....except these birds actually feed your body and constitute your biological makeup and physical capabilities as a functioning human being.

So I got over the sticker shock. I found a way to make non-cheap food work - usually in the form of bypassing the pre-cut, boneless chicken breasts and choosing to purchase a whole bird, which sells for much less. Just like everything else in life, you can save a little money when you do a bit of the work yourself.

So now we know what I mean by "cheap meat," but we still haven't addressed the consequences of purchasing said meat. I'm almost afraid to. Most of you won't like them.

A few weeks ago I commented on a Facebook post in which a reader asked the group, "where can I get affordable meat?" My comment was pretty wordy, so to summarize, I focused on how meat is supposed to be expensive and we don't need to have it every single day to be happy and healthy. Cutting back and investing in a local farmer is the way to go...blah blah blah. One lady really didn't like that. She piped in with a comment that went something like this:

Aren't you so fortunate to have the time to worry about such things. Meanwhile the rest of us aren't wrapped up in social issues and are just trying to feed our kids.

I didn't even know what to say (shocking, I know), so I left it alone....but her comment has stayed with me. Some of you will, like this woman, feel that I am making a big deal out of nothing, or being a "food snob" who is out to make everyone feel bad about themselves and their choices.

I am telling you, as an ex-blue-box-mac-n-cheese addict, this couldn't be father from the truth. I loved cheap, processed foods. Honestly, like any good addict, I still have a taste for them most days. They remind me of when I was growing up, before all this organic stuff took hold. I like a twinkie and McDonald's cheeseburger just as much as the next person and it wasn't until I really dug deep and found out the truth about our food system that I began to break away from processed, commercialized food.

I'm far from perfect and my intention is to share what I've learned, nothing more, no judgments. 

So here we go.

When you purchase cheap meat, you vote to continue commercialized meat production.

1. Your dollars support inhumane living conditions and slaughtering techniques for the animals you're about to consume. These animals are beaten, terrorized, and sometimes never see the light of day. They're fed a variety of things (including some "vegetarian feeds") that often make them sick and wracked with pain. They're injected with antibiotics and sometimes dragged into the processing plant because they're too ill to walk. For those of you who could care less about animal welfare and just want a decent burger, here's a little factoid for you: animals killed under high-stress conditions actually taste worse than those killed humanely. 

2. Your dollars tell our nation's leaders it's ok to give us crap food. Your money supports governmental leaders who have relied on our ignorance to line their pockets for decades. These leaders do a crap job at ensuring the stability and safety of our food.....and they are depending on you to not give a hoot and just purchase the cheap stuff. I don't want to get too political here, but in short, the very leaders appointed to save your food are often profiting from the pharmaceuticals you need to stay alive once that food makes you sick. 

3. Your dollars support the unfair treatment and pay of ranchers across the country who feel forced into choose between losing everything they have or partnering with a commercialized production entity like Tyson. These farmers often come from generations of other farmers who appreciate and respect their crops and animals, but ultimately need to provide for their families. When you buy a $3 chicken breast, you're cheapening the value of a rancher's hard work.....animals are expensive to raise, expensive to keep healthy, and expensive to slaughter. Not only do your $3 chicken breasts set low market rates, but they make it nearly impossible for ranchers to break free when they want to start doing things the right way.

4. Your dollars support food filled with chemicals.

Hard to read, so let me type it out for you: cured with water, salt, sugar, sodium phosphates, sodium erythorbate, and sodium nitrate

Now I know, I know. We naturally produce nitrates and they're found in vegetables and even uncured meat is often packaged in celery juice, which contains nitrates. But here's my deal......don't put crap I can't read on my food packages! There is no way I will even remember what chemical I am trying to avoid when I'm staring at 14 other chemicals I can't read.

What even is sodium erythorbate? Wallace doesn't use it - apparently it isn't to goes back to the question my girlfriend texted me last night.....why do it, if it isn't necessary?

5. Your dollars are taking away from our kids' future. Each time you spend on cheap meat, you move further away from the possibility that our children and children's children won't need to worry about this stuff. The only way we can solidify a safe and healthy future for the next generation is to support efforts moving in the right direction - this means buying from local farms who take the time and money to invest in smart practices. This means shouting responsible farming methods to the four corners of the earth and volunteering to pick up your friend's meat order just as long as she orders from Wallace. This means skipping a few non-essential purchases to allow some wiggle room in your grocery budget. This means making the conscious decision to be fully aware, fully awake, and fully responsible for knowing where your food comes from.

6. Your dollars contribute to the rising cost of healthcare and national epidemics, including obesity and diseases we don't even know about yet. You can't complain about the rising cost of healthcare while downing a Big Mac. I've done it. I've been a complete and total hypocrite. These food industries are literally killing us....but we allow them to.

7. Your dollars are contributing to environmental annihilation. Commercialized food industries choke our natural resources and pollute our wilderness. Can you imagine how much infected cow poop is absorbed into the earth when one 2,000-head feedlot sets up shop in the middle of Pastureland, USA? Waste runoff....bacterial growth.....chemical byproducts.....this is not a pretty picture, people. This is hell on our planet and completely preventable.

And that is the point. It all goes back to that question.....if it isn't necessary, why do we do it? Why is it done? My personal opinion? Money. It always comes down to money, doesn't it? It's cheaper for the people profiting from these terrible practices. I'll tell you what. I don't want to waste one more dollar supporting their lifestyles. Not one more.

Food purchasing is more than just your budget, your taste preferences, your dinner plate. Every dollar you spend is like casting a vote.....a vote that cascades across the country, into the laps of our corrupt food regulators, into the future of our nation, into the well-being of our planet. Consumers set the standard for business. That's just simple economics.

So....after alllllllll that......I hope I've shed a little light on how your choices are so much more than a social issue, or a personal preference, or a trend. What you choose to eat is all of those things and so much more.

To voting wisely - and as always, thank you for reading! :)

I am never compensated for my posts and don't make a dime from this blog. To order from Wallace Farms and learn how they work, visit here or here. Those of you in my hood (you know who you are) - I'd be happy to pick up for you if you'd like! Just need you to order :)


Friday, February 14, 2014

Why Valentine's Day at the Office Is Slowly Killing Me

So Happy Valentine's, everyone. I'm not too big on the holiday. Last year I really tried to go above and beyond and did 14 different things for the first 14 days of February so my family knew I loved them. It worked out as well as you'd imagine it working out for a full-time working mom struggling with breastfeeding, money, and a sense of self-worth. A whole lotta pink hearts and salty tears.

This year I took a different approach.....just do nothing. Zilch. Not a card. No candy. Not even a pair of Valentine's socks. I helped my big girl cut out 25 sets of little paper penguin pieces for her Valentine's Day party at school. I dug around in the basement for a box of valentines I remembered seeing last Halloween. That was about it. I wasn't goin' nuts this year. It just wasn't going to happen.

So the day started off normal. I got up early, got dressed, made an effort to wear red. I even threw on a pink bracelet. Bam. Valentine's Day.

I got to the office early. I had some work to do - I'd planned an office-wide associate appreciation event that started at noon, complete with catered lunch and soda. It was my boss' way of saying "thank you" to everyone for stepping up at year end, working overtime, and exceeding goals and expectations. Everyone looks forward to it and I'd worked out every day that week to prepare for total face-stuffing.

After wrapping up my morning duties and arming my workload against the two hours I was about to lose that afternoon, I headed downstairs to get my annual health screening. That's right. The company I work for has an elective health program, complete with free screenings (BMI, cholesterol, blood sugar, body fat percentage, triglycerides) and rewards (reduced copayments/deductibles, drawings to win $5k). It's a really sweet program and I was pretty pumped to get my numbers.

You see, this past summer and fall, I'd gotten healthy again. I really worked my butt off to eat right and take care of myself for once. Then the harsh winter came (read - no outdoor activities at ALL), and with it, an overall feeling of heaviness. I'd put on a few pounds mentally and physically. Motivation was lacking and I was hoping these numbers would put me back inline with the goals I so meticulously concentrated on over the summer.

Awesome news - my numbers came back great. I mean I really rocked 'em. They do this side-by-side comparison with how things looked last year I scored better in every single thing. There's some room for improvement, but overall, I felt better.

And then I went upstairs. Back to my floor. Back to my office.

It was like in the 35 minutes I'd been downstairs some deranged cupid came and chucked sugary baked goods everywhere. This is not an exaggeration. Everywhere I looked, I saw Valentine's Day food.

Well, I remember thinking, this is just great. Here I am, with my awesome numbers still hot off the press, still warm in my hands, and I've already got three donuts and a Butterfinger heart in my mouth at the exact same time. 

Your honor, I'd like to call My Office of Valentine's Day Death to the stand.

Those donuts you see above? Those aren't your everyday donuts. Those are donuts filled with cookie dough. I shit you not, the chocolate-frosted, sprinkle-coated donuts actually have cookie dough inside of them. And those candy hearts? Nobody can just eat one. Especially this girl. No, no, no...I have to eat one of every color.....and then at least three per favorite color (white and green - by far the best colors).

Imagine that. More donuts. And yes, that is a big chocolate cake in the lower left corner. And then the thumbprint cookies. Who doesn't love a soft-baked thumbprint cookie??

Those aren't just Reese's. Those are Valentine's Day Reese's. See the hearts on the package? That makes them special. Same with the KitKats.

The office leaders all pitched in for a dessert table. This isn't even half full...I took these pictures when I came back from my screening at 8 in the morning. Can't tell what you're looking at? I'll help you out. Kolackys. More soft-baked cookies. Some brownies. Chocolate-and-raspberry-dipped pretzels. Couple trays of other cookies. They later added some additional brownies, and some cheesecake, and some homemade cupcakes which were literally to die for. I told you. Killing me.

That bean dip is exactly like you'd imagine heaven to taste. Savory. Creamy. All the good things in your mouth at one time. More donuts here. Some pigs in a blanket. Chocolate-covered strawberries. Chocolate-covered pretzels. Chocolate-covered shoes. Ok not the shoes. But you get the point. Chocolate-covered.

Lookie there, super adorable cupcakes!!! And those Butterfinger hearts I mentioned before. Super soft sugar cookies. Did I mention each of these pictures were taken in a different part of the office? This was not me standing there taking pics of the same table from multiple angles. Each department had their own flavor station of doom and deliciousness.

Then we've got these guys. Someone brought these guys. You know the super hott dude you can't stop staring at no matter how inappropriate or unavailable he (or you) may be? No? Ok....hmmm....well you know that air you need to breathe? This is the chocolate version of that. For me. The girl with the food good numbers.

So you see, your honor, I've provided undeniable proof that my office is slowly trying to kill me. Yes, today is Valentine's Day, and so far I've survived. But next month it will be St. Patty's. And then Easter. And then BBQ season with potlucks and BBQ wings and potato salad. Let's not even get started on the topic of ceaseless birthdays. There's no stopping a serial killer like this office, especially around the holidays. We have a moral obligation and responsibility to protect the public from this monstrous pit of temptation, once and for all!

What? What's that, you say? You can't imprison cupcakes? I can't pepper spray the people who bring this stuff in? Illegal?

Hmm, I suppose you're right. I guess I need to come up with another method of resisting and arming myself against attack.

What do you guys think, my lovely readers? What are some of the best ways you avoid overindulging? How do you stay motivated?

Full disclosure: I ate the crap out of this stuff today. I'm feeling like crap because of it. Haven't decided whether it was worth it or not. Leaning towards not, seeing as how I broke down in tears when I came home and my husband said he cooked me a big pot of pasta with garlic toast.

I truly hope each and every one of you had a lovely Valentine's Day and thank you so much for reading!


Friday, February 7, 2014

Dreams Not Working Out? Just Give Up!

I want chickens. I want chickens real bad. They're fluffy. They're productive. They can teach things to my kids. They make cute noises. They come in a variety of colors and shapes and temperaments. I just love 'em. I gotta have 'em.

I've got my coop style all picked out and pinned. I've read a couple dozen books and am hooked on a number of backyard chicken websites. I'm obsessed. Books. Magazines. Articles. I'm a chicken book worm.

Missed one thing, though. One thing I didn't read...

I didn't read the laws in my area. I thought I read them. I thought I read them real well. I didn't see anything pop out at me, but then again, my eyes were crossing and my mind tripping over the legalese. I scanned websites, looked at online versions of local laws and regulations. Nope! Nothing about not having chickens! I thought I was golden.

But then I checked out a few of the backyard chicken website forums and learned the cold, hard truth. I just found out this week....can barely even type the words..........

I can't have chickens.

I'm zoned residential. I mistakenly assumed this was not the case. I've got a farmer's field behind me and a number of people down the road with their own flocks. No worries, I thought. I'm as right as rain.

Yea. It was raining alright. Raining tears of bitterness all over the broken, shattered pieces of my crumpled dreams.

But nevermind, I told myself, I can work on my other dream! You know, the writing one! I will someday write a novel or some incredible post that fetches the hearts and minds of all the readers, ever! Yea! That dream!

Except my big girl needs to get her Girl Scout stuff ready for this weekend. Aaron is smack-dab in the middle of his quest to find a well-paying job and could really use a second pair of eyes. A coworker is getting married and asked me to draw up a proposal for some planning and assisting work. Spring is right around the corner and I want to get a jump start on some indoor seedlings. My little girl is ready for potty-training. Did I mention the big girl came home from school and told us she was getting a referral for punching someone? It's my father in-law's birthday and my brother in-law is in town. I need to run out to the co-op tomorrow and pick up our grass-fed meat from Wallace.

Hmm. I didn't even touch on the normal household tasks and errands.

What? Oh, yes,  writing! The writing dream! I'm sure I'll find time to work on that at some point this weekend.....right? I'll get settled, pull up my nonexistent laptop, and buckle down, right away! Just as soon as I finish a few things.....

But first....I'll just checkout my Facebook feed. Oh look! Ree Drummond just posted another beautiful post about her beautiful life in the country, with horses, and cows, and land, and cooking shows, book deals, blog followers galore! Did I mention my Life Dream, the big one, the EVER AFTER dream, is to someday live on a ranch with horses? My preferred location has always been Montana, but heck, I'll take anywhere. I'll take anywhere.

I'm not jealous. Nope, not me. I'm positively, absolutely, unequivocally not jealou............

....yea no. I'm jealous. Ragingly, crazily jealous. How does this success happen for people? I read about it all the time.....every single issue of Country Living will showcase some crazy couple named like Parrot and Francois, who left their "crazy life in the city" and quit their "stressful corporate job" to live their lives in the peaceful solitude of the country, with their artisan button-making, or unique antique store, or homemade goat cheese. This really happens. Ask Parrot, she'll tell you.

But so far, it hasn't happened for me. I've got a lot of beautiful things in my life, but those dreams? Those things independent of my daughters, marriage, home, and job? Those things that are just for me, not mom, not assistant, just Jen? They're not working out.

So I've got the perfect solution.

Just give up!

Writing. Chickens. Montana. ------- ain't gonna happen, right? Give up! Move along! Settle.

That is what the world expects you to do, right? After all, what would we do with a world full of dreamers? We need somebody to dedicate her life to making the dreamers' dreams come true, right? Didn't some guy named Tony say something like that?

And really, when we stop to think about it, where have dreamers really gotten us? Dreamers don't actually create anything worthwhile in their selfish pursuits of insane, unrealistic goals. Electricity? Pheh - light a candle. Books? More like doorstops. Ain't nobody got time for happy-joy-joy people and imagination and architecture and music. We've gotta push papers and listen to someone else dictate what we should do, how we should look, what we should think and feel.

So that's a great idea! I'll just give up! No point in fighting for something that will never happen, right?!

Walt Disney was wrong. 

What did he ever do, anyways? Make a creepy mouse come to life? Create magic and popularize storytelling through motion pictures for children around the world? I bet that just happened, though. I bet he just woke up one day and that fell into his lap. He prolly never had a single setback. pssh. Disney.

Oh and Eleanor Roosevelt?

What does she know. So she lost both her parents at a young age and married into a complicated family. So she dealt with infidelity and argued with her disabled husband about immensely important things like race and human rights. That couldn't of been too hard. What would she know about turning dreams into reality? She was only the voice for American minority groups during one of the most discriminatory periods in American history. I betcha she was just born into that kinda thing.

And then this guy.

*snort* Victor Hugo. Prolly had an uncle or something in the publishing biz. What would he know about hard work. Who cares it took 17 years for Les Mis to be published. Not me. Not this girl. I'm giving up.

I'm giving up because it's too hard. It's not working fast enough. It's scary. It's impossible. I'm not doing it.

Wait......I'm not doing it?

I'm not doing it. My dream isn't working out because I'm not doing it.

Hmmm. So.....I'm giving up on my dreams because I'm not making them happen. That's like standing in front of an open refrigerator full of food and choosing to go hungry because I don't want to make a sammich. Anyone who knows me knows I'd do just about anything to eat, even if that means cooking the food myself.

Guess it seems kinda silly I'm so willing to fill my stomach but so quick to starve my soul.

Perhaps I should reconsider this plan...this giving up plan. Perhaps if you're reading this and feel exhausted and ready to quit, you should reconsider, too. Sure, it's going to take a whole lot more than two slices of bread and some lunchmeat, but then again, we're not talking sammiches here.

We're talking chickens.

We're talking writing.

We're talking Montana.

Sweet dreams to the dreamers.....especially those who have given up. Thanks for reading.


Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Top Four Reasons Why I Can't Hang

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, I was the Queen of Dance. I loved going out with the girls/reluctant guys and dancing the night away. I've danced on stages, bars, tables, truck beds, you name it. I even danced a little ballet and modern in college....some of the best memories of my life.

I still love to dance. I dance around my living room with kids in my arms. I jam out in my car for about two hours, everyday, without fail. Sure, my mode of expression has changed a bit throughout the years....think more "Living Room Aerobic Striptease" in old sweats  than "American Ballet Theater" in Danskin leggings......but I still love, love, love me some dance.

So when a dear childhood friend invited me to his Thirsty Thirty birthday party at a dance club about 30 minutes from my house, my mind went two ways:

Hell yes!

and then very distinctly:

Hell no!

See, I know I've still got it.....I can still shake it like the old days. I can probably shake it even better than ever because of my post-twenties Mama curves. It's not the dancing that held me back. It was the other stuff...the top four reasons why I can't hang:

1. The "What do I Wear!??" Tornado
At one point in time, I worked at a small, but popular local bar as a cocktail waitress. I dressed to get tips - which essentially meant (for my customer group) I dressed like a little hooker. I had more teeny-tank tops and low-cut jeans than a Forever 21 store. Toss in some cute tattoos, blown-out hair, and comfortable wedges and I was ready to go from work to club to work again.

Things have changed a little. I now work at a corporate office. This office has a dress code. My boss has literally said, "You may think your tattoos are cool, but nobody else does. Cover them up." My professional clothes are comfortable and conservative. My Casual Friday work clothes are comfortable. My weekend clothes are comfortable. I'm officially that woman on those makeover shows who says she loves her style because it's comfortable.

Me, yesterday, right after returning home from Casual Friday (which has humorously been morphed into Flannel Friday by a few of my coworkers...and me):

Soft AND functional! 

Beautiful, jade-green flannel? Check. Tinted moisturizer with a little neutral eye makeup? Check. Messy hair-bun-pony-thing? Check. Prepped for post-work decompression time.

Except I couldn't. It was clubbin' time. I had to dig deep.

Any woman who's tried to revisit a lifestyle she hasn't seen in a while can relate to The Try-On Pile. This pile starts small but grows larger and larger over time...not unlike your frustration. And no, the paint cans and tape weren't a part of my clubbin prep session. They're just another sign of the times...when home projects and DIY become more exciting than a trip to the mall.

About an hour into this mess, I was swimming in clothes and tears, confident I was incapable of delivering a sexy look to Jens over 30. It wasn't happening.

And then I found this little gem, way back in the hidden depths of my item I purchased for my husband, back when we were young and side-boob turn-on wasn't tainted by years of seeing me whip 'em out to feed our children.

Zowie! This might just be skank enough, I'd thought.

I paused.....gazed longingly at my favorite night-out companion....

Sorry Jenks, my favorite Spanx, not tonight. Tonight I was gonna let it all out. Literally.

2. The "Driving Miss Daisy" Syndrome
I am a good driver. I've gotten into so many accidents I can literally smell them coming now. Gives me a little extra reaction time. It's a gift.

I don't, however, like driving in the dark, during a winter storm warning, after just being told I needed new tires and brakes soon. But I was closest to the club and I knew the route really well....because....well because.... was my work route.

Any commuter will tell you - driving your work route when you aren't going to work might be one of the most painful experiences of your life. There you are, during your off-time, 12 hours later, driving the same route, under the same dark sky, surrounded by the same stupid crappy traffic, only this time dressed in crazy slut clothes and headed to a club you're not even sure you want to go to.

Luckily, I had a good co-pilot. She kept me from turning the car around at every intersection and cheered me up by chatting with me the whole ride over. Sure did beat my normal, pre-work, red-light dozing sessions.

3. The "Too Old for Tolerance" Attitude
Back in the day, I wanted everyone to like me. I cared about their opinions and put up with way more shit simply because I had the strength and motivation to tolerate it.

Not so much anymore.

If this dance club had a lawn, I woulda been the old lady sitting out there yelling at kids to get off it.

I don't want to be pissed off. I don't want to deal with drunk drama, or couples arguing, or weird older people with the words "sexual desperation" written all over them, or girls who apparently enjoy speaking to three-legged ghosts:

I just wanted to see my buddy, who happened to arrive with an entourage of super-hotties. They were all sweet, no complaints from me. I could've mingled and gotten to know them. Instead, I hung with my girlfriend and we stood and stared at the dancing people. I found myself reminiscing and feeling the energy of the place. I remembered it quite easily....the music, the smells, the air thick with potential and freedom. I remembered why I liked it so much. But I still didn't get on the dance floor. Can't really tell you why. It could've been the fact I'd been up since 4AM and was pretty dang tired or it could've been the fact I had to keep an eye on the girls because they kept popping out of my slut shirt. Whatever the reason, I spent the majority of my night on the balcony of our reserved upstairs space just people-watching. It actually worked out quite well. Had I been busy mingling I would've missed this dude:

Can't tell from the pic but he had a huge white beard and was shufflin all night. He was my favorite.

My anti-social behavior also gave me the chance to really hang with my girls:

And yep, it even afforded me, the uptight worrier, the opportunity to stare out the window of a hoppin' and poppin' dance club and check the snow accumulation:

I didn't want to get stuck in the eye of the storm, guys. I had to keep abreast of the latest weather developments. The rest of humanity may be able to dance their life away and get blitzed out of their mind but I had two bald tires and a 6AM wake up call to prep for. This window was my ally.

Speaking of wake up calls....

4. The Wake Up Call
I left early last night, thanks to my willing and understanding co-pilot. We took off around 12:30 and I was home by 1:15AM. By the time the Diet Cokes wore off, I was looking at about four hours of sleep, max.

So you can only imagine how beautiful and ethereal I looked when I arose cheerfully from my restful slumber.

The thing I've realized since having kids is that you can't just fudge it. When I would stay out until 2 or 3AM in my younger years, the only person I had to care for the next day was myself. If I had to work, I would go, fudge my way through it, and then go home. I didn't have this little person depending on me to provide her with not only her basic needs, but with love and patience, two things I certainly wasn't feeling this morning.

Makes it hard to justify a night out when you've got this face to answer to:

I had a great time. I loved seeing my girls and my buddy on his birthday. I loved people watching and the drive home was a snap. I'm glad I went.

But I'm suckin today. I've been impatient all day. I didn't get anything done. My eyes have that weird burning thing going on. I didn't work out. I threw a major fit and Aaron literally put me in time out for 30 minutes (again). I'm pretty much worthless.

I'm tellin ya, I can't hang like I used to. But I sure can dance around living room furniture like a pro....who's with me?

Thanks for reading :)