Shoes and Socks

November 30, 2016

I have to get something off my chest. I hate shoes and socks. I really wish someone had told me that half my parenting life was spent worrying about shoes and socks. From finding matching socks to putting shoes on wiggling little feet to the smell of shoes after a day of tween feet in the summer- everything about shoes is one giant parenting nightmare; and there is always a stranger around to remind me of the unspoken foot law.


Where in the history of mankind does it actually say that socks have to match? Perhaps there was a time when they all matched. Then dryers were invented: the anti-sock. Every time a dryer is run, a sock loses its twin. I have one athletic Puma sock from my college days. It lingers at the bottom of the missing sock basket, longing for the return of its mate-the same way I long for the return of my size 4 pant size. If foot law is ever studied, the day I became a parent has to go down as the pinnacle turning point for any established matching principle.

Why do socks always need to match? I answered that question about five years ago: they don’t. It starts with the pairing of similar socks. Two socks: pink at the bottom but different designs around the ankle: match. A black and really dark brown trouser sock: match. Two white socks, one adult and one child sized: match. It was a nice relief, just grab two socks and out the door. Not the endless pursuit for sock twins-which was to blame for most of my tardiness; most of it. If we are wearing boots and the socks don’t match who actually cares? About five years ago the Justice phenomenon happened. EVERYTHING Liv owned had to come from “Justice for Girls”. She would beg for those sparkly pull over shirts with bedazzled peace signs and a logo in bold sequins. Going to Justice with Liv was always stressful. She had a specific idea of what she wanted (banana earrings, monster high dolls, best friend necklaces, knee high “converse” looking boots with a blue leopard print and even more sequins). One day, she picked out a pack of socks. Unmatching socks. “Wait, you want to spend ten dollars for a pack of socks that don’t match? I have a whole basket at home. You can be the trendiest person in the second grade.” This was met with giant sad eyes so we bought them. I may have overpaid for that pack of socks, but as soon as that trend hit, they never wore matching socks again. Zebra on one foot? Watermelon on the other? So trendy and cool. How can we ever go back?


We are approaching winter, shoes season. The babies hardly wore shoes all summer. There was no point since they were always taking them off. I was perfectly fine with my loss on that battle. They were probably well known at the playground: the Barefoot Taylors. Don’t let your kids see; they will start to get crazy ideas about a barefoot utopia. Jackson was climbing the slide ladder monkeying his toes around the bars for better stability. An intently watching little boy began to take his off as well. “No No!.” his mom scolded. “We don’t take our shoes off. See. Mommy has shoes on. And daddy has shoes on. Sister has shoes on and brother has shoes on.” She condescended. The kid shrugged and ran off to the tire swing.

Just when I think I am starting to get this whole stay at home mom thing down; I get a little too confident. My plan: two stores and a drive through to the bank. First fail: getting them out of the door. I found at least four single shoes for Cece. In a rage of annoyance, I walked through each room. Looking in corners, and bookshelves and toy bins. Where is another shoe?! I put her socks on. She immediately took them off. Where is the other shoe? Jackson started taking off his pants. “No!” I yell. “Go bye-bye” I put his pants back on just as Cece follows his lead and takes hers off. Are you serious? I line up all her unmatched shoes. Hoping I was missing one possible mate. No luck. Jackson is running circles in the middle of the living room and crashing into the Christmas tree. Bulbs are rolling and I am still hunched under the couch praying a shoe will suddenly appear in the same place I have searched twenty times before. Finally, I find a pair of Jackson’s old shoes that are slightly too small on him and way too big on her. I tie them as tight as I can and load them in the car. Store 1: grocery store. Thanks to some free turkey at the deli, we somehow make it to the checkout with no meltdowns or sudden urges to climb out of the cart. Next stop: the bank to deposit cash. Fancy. I think as I slide my cash into the machine. “Error.” The screen reads, and only half of it comes back out. “Temporarily out of service” was the only explanation it had. I panic staring at the other half of my cash. I debate on whether it is enough to take Jackson and Cece into the bank. They are both sleeping and I am not prepared – I have no books, no toys, no candy and my phone screen is cracked. Cece remained sleeping and Jackson woke up and ran around the bank; pressing his face against the glass while people were meeting with bankers, trying to type on the computer in an empty cube, drawing pictures on the pamphlets. We had to wait to fill out some report. Luckily an extremely patient stranger let us go ahead of him. Last stop: Target – where toddlers turn into nightmares. Cece had one shoe off. I ignored any urge to put the other one back on. The good thing is that we only needed one item: the last of Josh’s birthday present. The bad thing is that electronics are located right next to toys. “Paw Patrol!!” Jackson kept yelling. “Get Skye! Get Rocky! Need pups!” We make it to the checkout since I caved and bought him a pup. He had the packaging open and the bar code was destroyed. While two cashiers were assisting on the pup crisis, the woman behind us entertained Cece. “Where is your shoe? She kept asking.

The photo that perfectly sums up parenting


Thanksgiving Hangover

November 27, 2016

We pulled into our driveway. Back to our familiar little house, back to our familiar little life. The comfort was quickly replaced by screaming: toddler screaming. Jackson started yelling. “Kimmy house! Kimmy house!” He fell asleep in mid tantrum when we left my sister’s house, three hours earlier, and resumed as soon as we got home. He stomp-cried his way up the front steps as my hands shoved gently guided him through front door. This was met with more crying; as if he was in desperate despair and “Kimmy house” were the only words he knew. “He is hungry” I translated walking into the familiarity of my house. A house that nailed the mannequin challenge: everything still in a state of disarray created by trying to usher four children in the car. A reminder of that Wednesday morning was frozen in time, the drawers were half open in failed attempts to match socks and the dishes were stacked in a failed attempt to load the dishwasher. I sifted through our refrigerator and pantry for a quick snack and realized the reality of being out of town – no grocery shopping. After contemplating serving him Ketchup, I looked around for traces of his three approved meal options, mac and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, or cereal. His fierce loyalty to keeping his coat off made me hesitant to try anything else, but the only real food option we had was leftover thanksgiving dinner. I tried some mashed potatoes. “No! Peanut butter jelly!” He demanded, jamming his hood over his head as a cold reminder that he was in charge. “We don’t have any bread.” I reasoned. “How about turkey?” As if that was some secretly approved menu item no one told me about. “Go Kimmy house!” His back stiffened and he was slinking out of the chair. Shit is getting real – he is taking this tantrum to the floor.  I opened the pantry in my own quest to find Dory – the Dory themed box of mac and cheese. I see cereal, Chocolate Cheerios, and do a quick victory twirl. “Coco Cereal?” I suggest. The crying stops like a glimpse of sunshine over the gray clouds. “Jackson want coco cereal.” (Yes I am raising Tarzan). I empty the last of the cereal into his bowl and topped it with the remaining milk. He begins to devour the cereal and looks up at me. “Jackson want coco milk” he requests. I point out the newly formed chocolate milk in his bowl. He sips for a second. “Jackson want coco milk” he says again. “How about apple juice?” I fill one of his cups with juice and try to find a straw lid. He is partial to the straws lately over the sippy lids, one more step toward cup independence. I can’t find the straws. Damn, probably buried in the pile of dishes I have yet to load or attached to stray cups tucked under the couch, or bed, or any other random place I cringe to think milk is hiding. “No lid!” He yells as I had him the juice. He is kicking his feet against the table. I see a cereal spill in the near future and sit on the chair next to him, finally removing my coat and shoes – ready to reason.

Me: No Straw, lid. Do you want to sit in time-out?

Toddler: Straw! Straw! Straw!

Me. No straw, lid. Time out!

Toddler: Straw. Jackson want straw!

Me. Time out?!

Jackson: Go to Kimmy house!

 Finally, I removed the lid and he drank the juice.

 I like to refer to this phenomenon as a Thanksgiving hangover. We all had it. The sluggish movements, the desperation not to go back to normal conflicted with the need to be relaxed and settled at home while doing absolutely nothing. Thanksgiving is a time of indulgence. I am thankful for food on the table: so I eat so much food that it drowns my stomach in a gluttonous decadence; so thankful for family that we over indulge in the warmth and the buzz of togetherness. The good parties always result in an emotional hangover. When I have a good time, it is easy to feel a hesitation to jump back into normal routine. I just want to keep the party going. As a parent of a toddler, I know the price of any party and it is a multiple day hangover – the kind that used to come with epic nights of tequilla. In that moment, I realized what I was truly thankful for. In those final defining months of my working life, I couldn’t afford a multiple day hangover. It would have grabbed hold of me, around my neck so I was barely breathing. There were always deadlines, and schedules that weren’t mine. I am thankful for the moment we pulled in the driveway and I was no longer hung over. My home, my life- my little adventure of a life-now on my terms. We will be back to normal, maybe tomorrow, maybe the next day. That night I ate two pieces of pie for dinner. After, I ran to the neighborhood convenience store and did one of my most normal tasks: I grabbed a gallon of milk and a bottle of wine.

Hanging with Papa, Blue and some friends. No wonder he didn’t want to leave. xoxo

Perfectly imperfect

November 21, 2016

There are days when I feel like I am damn near perfect. A day when everything just goes my way. I got the closest spot at the grocery store. My kids were only mildly needy. I am wearing a beautifully accessorized outfit. The toddlers were actually wearing shoes and their socks match. My preteens asked me for advice. I am on top of my game. Life-nailed it. Then there is every other day. The one where a diaper exploded so much that I threw away the pants rather than try to wash them. The day when even my favorite jeans just didn’t fit right. I have been trying to make a lot of positive changes lately. I am eating healthy and working out. My steps are in and I am getting up earlier. Mostly, I am allowing myself to fail and setting myself up for success by eliminating the notion of failure. This aura of perfection I created is not going to happen. I am not going to have the perfect kids, or job or body or house it is just too exhausting. I am perfectly happy with being perfectly imperfect – sounds perfect. (Yes, the over emphasis perfect was intentional) To enforce that, I am sharing a shining moment of imperfection. Since it is such a cold and dreary day, I figured I should share a story from warmer days

I ate the Cake Pop. The day was hot but the Farmers Market remained busy; knowing it is best to get there early, we struggled to get out the door by ten. It was either a morning of needy toddlers or the effects of a few hours of good company, live music and tequilla the night before. Either way, it was hard to put on clothes that morning. Everything that wasn’t my ratty pajama bottoms just hurt, both physically and mentally. With subtle vainness, I put as much stock into what I wear to the market as Josh does trying to find the perfect heirloom tomato. I obsessively get the babies ready while darting into my room to add or change something about my outfit until I get that whole “I really put no thought into this outfit” Saturday morning vibe. (This outfit brought to you by Mickey Mouse Clubhouse). Here’s the thing, the more put together my outfit is that day, the more like myself I feel. Every detail is a reflection and I just don’t feel quite right unless I have some way of putting it all together. These days, my body is showing the effects of the birth of my fourth child in my mid thirties and the three Gs of getting old have taken over: gravity, gluttony and grays. When the hell did my arm skin start to drop? Why is my belly button four times bigger than its original size? Same with my ass? Will I ever lose that last twenty pounds? Point being: I need all the self-esteem boasters I can get. Luckily I usually wear Cece to the farmers market to allow Josh to have full agility. Baby on the front hides all the tummy flab, strange side boob flab and even ass flab (a little stretchy on that one). It doesn’t hurt that she is cute as shit, so she is basically the perfect accessory.

As always, the market is busy,people are everywhere, and it is really humid. We get to the first stand and Josh gets a giddy spring in his step. He is eagerly deciding between springtime and fall honey while feeling up tomatoes and carefully selecting the best cuts of meat. As always, I hang back and people watch while piling more canvas and plastic bags on the stroller. Somewhere between the Kimchi and gluten free cupcakes I inherited the following jobs: stroller pusher, the holder of all bags and the maker of silly faces to keep babies entertained between stands. I am used to it by now, but at that first stand I could feel Olivia beginning to singe with impatience. “I wish I would have brought some water” she said. Translation: I am going to make a sad face until you buy me a drink. “What are we having for lunch?” Translation: You will feel my eyes burn the back of your skull until you feed me. I am becoming more fluent in preteen these days. When I saw her oogle a cupcake at the bakery stand I knew she wasn’t going to make it. Josh shrugs and hands her ten dollars. “Get a treat for your brother too. She quickly chooses a brownie and I grab two cake pops.

We saunter through the crowd and find Josh cradling a basket of peaches. I hand Jackson and Cece their cake pops and continue to weaved around people. Josh was stocking up on garlic and handmade pasta and chattering about what we were going to make this week. Stuffed peppers. Mmm. A bowl with the cilantro pasta and muddle some honey and fresh blackberries with tequilla for a fresh margarita. Damn, I am hungry. I glance back at Cece. Her face is covered in chocolate. She mashed a piece of the cake pop into the strap of the carrier. I have been meaning to wash that carrier anyway. She just moved that task to the already crowded to do list. Sorry scrubbing grout in just got bumped back, again. I really wish I had breakfast. One random tidbit about the early years of parenting: there is no breakfast. Here we are going on lunch and I have yet to eat. I turn my head and take a quick bite of Cece’s cake pop, somehow managing to avoid the spot she has been sucking on. The frosting sticks to my mouth with a slightly fudgy consistency which is what is causing it to linger. It is amazing. Holy shit. And the cake. Yellow cake. So moist. That bite of cake cured a whole week of stress. It was like bakery angels playing the harp. Yeah, I was that fucking good. Or I was just that hungry.

Our bags were full and we were walking toward our car. I was lost in a gaze at all the different treasures offered at the market. Home made soap. Beautiful cut flowers. Breads and cheeses and dips, oh my. It is impossible not to feel hungry. “wait. Wait. Wait” the cross walk signal jolted me out of my trance. Then we were crossing. Not the most attentive, I was the last person to cross. I turned to look at the road and in the very corner of my eye, I saw the cake pop. Cece was shaking it and it came loose and bounced right off the stick and into the crosswalk. I hesitated and looked down. “Oh no, Cece”. I said mainly because anything told to a baby makes you sound ten time less crazy. We wouldn’t want anyone to get that on their shoe. I quickly picked it up and scurried back into the flow of the crowd. Looking around, I could tell that no one was paying attention to me. Just another mom wearing a baby at the farmers market. I hardly stood out. Using this to my advantage, I ate the cake pop. And it was so damn good that I didn’t even feel I twinge of shame. Well maybe not right away.

Biographical Resume

November 18, 2016

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When the last recession hit, my husband and I didn’t have careers; we had jobs, and were already living week to week. He was working sixty hours a week as a restaurant manager. I was a part time bookkeeper, hardly the job I had in mind when I graduated with a specialization in creative writing. I was in my mid twenties with two toddlers and had to make this serious vision of a career – paid time off, benefits, bonus, retirement and a salary. I sold myself on the idea that there was a difference between dreams and careers – putting my pen in the hobby drawer with half painted tables and half assembled jewelry. I started to look at other career options. Google knew exactly what I needed to see. An online school with an Accounting program. It was geared toward people like me with a non-accounting background. Hesitant, I filled out a request for more information and almost immediately received a call from the recruiter. She was persistent and sold me on the dream I was looking for, especially the one where I would be able to financially provide for my family.
Two years later, I graduated. My husband had quit his job and was waiting tables under the promise that I was going to provide that financial stability we were looking for-maybe we could start living month to month now. I never considered how much the college would cost. I was too naive to look up how each class was paid or the balance I was accumulating. The debt didn’t seem real. Even when I saw the balance my immaturity convinced me I didn’t really have to pay it.  There are always options, right?  My first Accounting job wasn’t exactly the high salary I had imagined and kept us on the week-to-week living pattern. A months into the job and I knew I wasn’t going to ever complete the CPA certification I had been meaning to study for.  The work was mind dulling, Accounts Payable. My forty hour a week job took me about twenty hours to get through and the rest of the time I was left to stare at beige painted walls and wonder if I had made a huge mistake.
I started to miss my undergraduate degree work so I started my first blog. It was a combination of parenting and stream of conscious stories about my life that reflected the classes that had inspired me almost ten years prior. I started writing about clothes and fashion, partly to justify the online shopping habit sitting in my office trying to fill an additional twenty hours of work had given me.  I became charged by the feedback and didn’t realize my clothing outfits where inspiring self-confidence in my readers. I was close to creating my writing voice dedicating more to this hobby then any other one in the past.
My job was unraveling. My boss, the only reason I was still working there, had quit. She was tired of being a “square peg” and took another job. After she left, I experienced my first round of micromanaging in the Accounting world. I came to realize this was pretty common practice for someone to constantly be a second set of eyes on my work.  My salary was low enough that I was still able to defer my loans-with no clue what that actually meant.  
In the spring of 2012, everything changed. My blog was doing pretty well and I began to think about another career switch, away from accounting. Then I got a job offer to work as an Accountant for a large publicly traded Retail Company. The salary jump was almost double and it required us to move to a larger city, a welcome change for my family.  It was a hyper focused accounting position, which meant strict deadlines and no more blogging. It also meant a step closer that that financial security I was looking for. Aside from the letters on my student loans I was afraid to open, there was mounting credit card debt and all the money in our savings would be drained to fund the move. It was a big adjustment on all sides and for a few years it was working. We got out of debt, bought a house and even had two more kids. Then the cycle of regret and misery started again. That feeling that I was doing something that I hated started to creep in during my too short maternity leave for my fourth baby. Fiscal deadlines, micromanaging, and working in a windowless cube farm slowly started to grate on me and we were still living month-to-month. The little dose of financial security didn’t provide me with the career satisfaction I desired.  It was quite the opposite. Blogs are popping up everywhere and creative non-fiction was a popular literature genre. And there I was reconciling spreadsheets for long hours of the day missing out on the important family years. When I wasn’t at work, I was stressed about work. They were relentless and the micromanaging and negative feed back was relentless. Six mints ago, I cracked. We were staying in a remote cabin on Memorial Day and I realized I forgot to run an important report. I had a full blown panic attack and told my husband I couldn’t do this anymore. We made a plan. One where he would work so I could go back to doing what I loved.
There were a lot of ways I could have continued on the career path I was paying for but I was truly unhappy and living my life in a constant state of stress an anxiety wasn’t helping anyone around me.  I am finally able to admit that I only owe money, not myself to the student loan. There are skills that are part of an over all dream and I am learning to reconfigure. Budgeting and planning is an important part of any job and with my job skills I am able to keep our finances organized-if only for the sole reason of never having to work in an office again.

Burn Off

November 17, 2016

I was at the beautiful part of my trip where every morning I woke up wondering what state I was in. Montana? Colorado? Wyoming? Idaho? Oregon. Definitely Oregon. Rubbing the morning haze from my eyes, I caught a glimpse of outside. Clouds. We hadn’t seen many clouds on the trip. Just sparkling sunshine, reflecting off long roads and spectacular mountains. But no rain and no clouds yet. This trip was reliant on outside and really no thought was given yet on what we would do if it rained. That was the fun part. There was no planning. It was very immature and I loved it. The escape was to get away from being an adult; and planning every moment was too much of an adult thing to do. I was allowing spontaneity and curiosity to drive the car. I was just there for the ride and rain was not part of this ride. Did we even bring an umbrella?  The kids were slowly waking up and grabbing breakfast like sloths whose pajamas would linger a bit longer than normal. Maybe the clouds were secretly welcome, but not for an entire day. Don’t worry. I was told. These clouds will burn off by the afternoon. My Ohio mind is unusually baffled by this concept. The sun warms up and burns off the morning fog revealing another perfectly sunny day. Ok I may be exaggerating a little bit here. We have sun in Ohio. And not every cloudy day results in rain. But it happens enough that burn off seems like more of a luxury then an actual  occurrence. Back in the real world I often crave those little connections to our road trip. A long drive doesn’t always seem as daunting as it once had. I stare at the spot where the sky meets the land and get a sense of calming. I close my eyes and picture the sunset in the distant South Dakota sky painting the mountains. I see miles and miles of sage brush in the Idaho landscape. Since being home, I have tucked away these images for when I need some extra drive to move forward.

Lately, I have started to feel like my life is becoming that trip. There is no direction. I am making it up as I go along, each day revealing a larger part of the life I am fed up with planning. I woke up this morning like every other  at the sound of a toddler call. Six thirty again, Jackson? Second time this week. And it was only Wednesday. He may have fallen back asleep but the girls were getting ready for school and my phone was buzzing, first with another alarm reminder then with a special weather statement. Fog Advisory. I quickly read. When Cece got up, it became clear that they were restless. She was climbing on the couch and standing on the arm only to sit back down once the alarm on my face had reached her level of satisfaction. He was asking for food then refusing to eat it. I couldn’t use my iPad to check my email or browse the morning news without a round of Peek-a-Boo Barn. They both wanted to sit on my lap at once. Then not at all. Cece wanted to sit on the dog and Jackson felt the need to watch me go to the bathroom one too many times. It was barely 9AM. “Let’s go for a walk” Josh suggested. As we stepped outside, I remembered the fog advisory. “Look at that!”  Josh pointed toward the sun pushing its way through the morning clouds. It was working hard to burn off the fog slowly revealing another beautiful fall day. Our walk took us to the playground, mainly due to letting Jackson dictate the direction we headed “That way!” He commanded as we got to the top of the street. “Over there.” We crossed the street. “Green Playground!” He said with such enthusiasm there was no way to disagree. They played through the burnout running in the hazy sunlight as a beautiful day slowly revealed herself. There was something about this organic trip to the playground that eased my mind from it is daily anxiety rush. This moment was all that mattered. The playing, the swinging and running and endless toddler laughter. For the first time all week, I was finally able to concentrate on a single span of moments.

My daily journal entry was one of solitude and appreciation as if these moments were going to dictate how my life, like my trip, was going to plan itself. I like to take pictures (and more and more pictures) of these moments. They drive my pen as I try to come up with ways to write myself sane. If my journal post is a series of my name in block letters (my go to since fifth grade) and the words “I don’t know what to write” then I grab some pictures and write about that experience. Where was I? How was I feeling at the time? What are some smells around me? Do I feel happy, anxious, grateful? As I get older, my memories are held as much in these pictures as they are on my journal pages.