Lord, Grant Me Patience This Summer Vacation

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The countdown has begun. Nine days until the official start of summer vacation at our house.

It’s not like an excited “Nine days until Christmas” type of situation either, but more like a “Nine days until I get three root canals in succession” type of feel. And I certainly wouldn’t use the term “vacation” to describe it, either.

In a perfect world, my children and I would spend our summer days together frolicking in the sunshine, eating ice cream, and bonding over the teamwork it required to grow the most perfect and deliciously ripe watermelon in our backyard family garden.

But reality bites.

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My children thrive on a schedule. Open-ended chunks of time lead to chaos, tears, and just all around misery for everyone involved. Of course, I try to prepare for the situation by signing my kids up for an endless line of summer activities, but given their varying ages, there is nothing offered that accommodates all three of them at the same time. As a result, our days involve me frantically trying to shuffle them to their various activities at different times of the day, and my children having nothing but hatred toward the entire damn process. “I don’t want to go with to his class Mom! Why do I have to go? Why don’t I ever get to do anything fun? It’s not fair!”

Don’t get me started on the cost of these activities, either. One could feed a small village with the money spent on a one week gymnastics class for a toddler alone. And there is no guarantee that your kid will even be able to do a somersault at the conclusion of the week. “What am I paying you for? He is doing a log roll. That is NOT the same and really requires no skill whatsoever. Why are you clapping?”

We’ve spent a small fortune already on swimming lessons for the girls. My six year old is still in the beginner class that requires putting your face in the water and simply blowing bubbles. She is petrified of water levels beyond ankle deep, and so far swimming lessons has done nothing to alleviate that fear. She never passes, yet we still keep forking out money for these lessons because at the very least, it gives us an excuse to get out of the house.

Of course, there is always the beach. It’s free and the kids love it. Me? Ugh. It takes longer preparing for these trips than the actual time spent at the beach. The whole sunscreen application process alone takes the better part of the morning. Not to mention the snacks, drinks, toys, towels, and bags of other useless shit that has to come with us every damn time. I am not an octopus. I have two arms. It is inhuman for me to carry all of this crap around while at the same time successfully preventing my 3 year old son from playing “Frogger” with his life in the parking lot.

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And how about all the sand? I despise it. It’s everywhere. The van, the house, the couch, under the sheets, in between toes, behind ears, the silverware drawer. I have reoccurring nightmares involving my children burying me in the sand. I can breath, but I cannot move or speak. They are standing over me with an assortment of popsicles that are, as a direct result of their intentional placement in space, repeatedly dripping into my right eyeball like some sick form of Chinese torture. My son is driving his dump truck back and forth over the mound of sand which is his lifeless and now partially blinded mother.

This is the point where I wake up every single time (unable to move, sand everywhere, face burning to a crisp, and a right eyeball that is now swimming in Koolaid)…only to realize that it is not a dream after all. “Can I at least get some god damn Visine?”

I wish I were the type of mom who was into crafts and/or art projects. If this were the case, several doors would open and the possibilities would be endless. Monday could be “construct a birdhouse day”, Tuesday “paper mache day”, Wednesday “plant a fairy garden day”, Thursday “use your imagination and make whatever you want using this predetermined set of supplies day,” and so on and so forth. Unfortunately for my children, I couldn’t be a more opposite kind of mother.

I know one thing for sure; my attempts to create some sort of a normal summer schedule to prevent aggressive eye gouging at the end of the day will fail miserably and we will be left with the following scenarios:

“Why can’t we get a pool Mom?”

“I’m bored.”

“I’m hungry.”

“I’m bored and hungry.”

“All my friends have a pool.”

“I don’t want to pick up sticks in the yard again Mom.”

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“Why do I always have to pick up sticks? I can’t live like this!”

“None of my friends ever have to pick up sticks. They get to play in their pool all day long.”

“Buddy’s eating dirt again Mom.”

“Can I have a snack?”

“I don’t want THAT snack!”

“I am NOT going outside. I saw a bee out there yesterday. Do I look like I have a death wish?”

“We’re supposed to be having fun Mom.”

“This is NOT fun.”

“This is the opposite of fun.”

“This is the worst…summer…ever.”

87 days until school starts. Give or take.

But who’s counting?

Related post: 10 Ways to Give Your Kid a 1970’s Kind of Summer

5 Ways My Kid Is My Personal Trainer

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mom-doing-yoga-with-babyImage via Shutterstock

I’m not anyone’s definition of svelte. I haven’t been “bikini ready” since that one summer in my 20s when I took up Bikram yoga and gave up beer for white wine. However, I did manage to return to my pre-baby weight much faster after my second little girl was born, and have mostly kept it off now that she’s a year old. My secret is simple: I have a live-in personal trainer. She’s about half my height, weighs about 30 pounds, and doesn’t like to take “no” for an answer (though we are working on that). She’s my 4-year-old.

The good news is, she’s far from the only kid in this line of work. If you want to hire one for a day, to see if it’s for you without making a complete commitment, ask a friend with a preschooler. Wave as she peels out of your driveway, solo and whooping like a contestant on The Price Is Right.

You can expect at least two or three of the following on a typical day of training:

1. Stretching. My trainer favors “crouching mama, hidden crayon” as a warm-up.  To set up for this exercise, place paper and crayons on the coffee table and invite her to color. After about five minutes, the red crayon will fall off the coffee table and roll under the couch where, after about 30 seconds, its absence will be detected and declared a minor emergency. To complete the exercise, get down on your belly and extend your right arm under the couch, stretching until your fingertips graze the crayon, somehow pushing the little bugger just out of reach. Shimmy under the couch as far as your shoulder will allow and extend your entire body further than you ever thought possible, batting and/or clawing at the crayon until it rolls within reach. Return it and relax into a seated position on the couch. Repeat the exercise with pink, green, blue, and yellow crayons, switching arms each time.

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2. Cardio.
 To really break a sweat, head to the neighborhood grocery store. As you pass the restroom at the entrance, ask if she’d like to use it, which, of course, she won’t. Walk 10 minutes to the frozen food section and pick up a jug of milk. While lowering jug into the cart, look up to see she is crossing her legs. Take a deep breath in. Hold her left hand with your right hand and walk briskly back to the entrance while fumbling in your purse with your left hand. Confirm the absence of spare underpants and pants. Increase speed to a semi-dignified run. Arrive at ladies’ room and try the door. If it is occupied, remain calm. The men’s is almost always empty. Knock, enter, and lift the (nearly) relieved kid onto the toilet. Breathe out.

3. Resistance/Strength Training.
For a fast all-over body workout, take her someplace fun, like her grandparents’ house or a public pool, and announce your impending departure after just four or five hours of solid hilarity. To increase the intensity, delay this exercise until a half hour or so before bedtime. I dare you.

4. Agility Training. Over the course of the day, it will look as though your trainer is taking a few moments for independent, imaginative play, and these are good opportunities for you to rest. My advice is to take them, because what she’s really doing is setting up an obstacle course for you to run later. I find a combination of scattered hot wheels, foam blocks, play dishes, and throw pillows really keeps me on my toes. But if this is not sufficiently challenging for you, run the course while making dinner.

5. Cool Down.
 Lie down beside a freshly bathed, apple-cheeked sweetie in her pj’s. Read The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog or Curious George and the Firefighters for the first of about a million times in your life, should you choose to retain a trainer of your very own. Kiss her head, turn out the light, and close your eyes for just one minute. Wake up two hours later, courtesy of a cherubic elbow to your side boob.

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Let me be the first to say: this regimen really isn’t for everyone. There are nights when I stand in her doorway, wondering if I can handle what she’s got in store for me tomorrow, or the next day, without a complete mental breakdown. And the dietary side of this whole deal? It basically amounts to unlimited grilled cheeses, chocolate milk, and anything with frosting or sprinkles on it.

Still, I recommend it to just about everyone I know.

Related post: I’m in No Rush to Lose the Baby Weight, Thank You Very Much

The Duggars Deserve Every Bit Of The Public Smackdown They’re Getting Today

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If you frequent entertainment websites, you can’t go a day without reading about a Duggar. It may have something to do with the size of the family: with Jim and Michelle, 19 kids, cousins, partners… the exposure possibilities are endless. This family gets a lot of airtime via their TLC show 19 Kids And Counting and occupies a lot of internet real estate.

It’s easy to get caught up in all the hair, denim, and entertainment — and forget about how dangerous this family really is. They have a huge platform from which they regularly spew anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-woman rhetoric. Now, the family faces a scandal, as one of the men of the clan admits to a history of sexual molestation — one that the family has been covering up for years.

Josh Duggar admitted this week to molesting a number of teenage girls 12 years ago. Some of the victims were allegedly his own sisters. From USA Today:

His acknowledgement came after InTouch magazine published a story Thursday about police records it obtained from Springdale, Ark., hidden since 2006, that show Josh Duggar confessed to his father, Jim Bob Duggar, who then waited more than a year before contacting police about what his then 15-year-old son admitting doing to five girls.

The family issued a statement on their Facebook page, where Josh and his wife Anna also weigh in. There is a lot of thanking God for getting the family through it, and virtually no real apology to his victims. It’s disgusting, yet not surprising. This family has made a career out of silencing and controlling the girls under their roof, and pushing anti-woman, anti-choice, and homophobic agendas.

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Michelle Duggar was instrumental in appealing an anti-discrimination ordinance in her home state of Arkansas — one that would have allowed transgender people to use the correct bathroom. She orchestrated a robocall, spreading paranoia: “I doubt that Fayetteville parents would stand for a law that would endanger their daughters or allow them to be traumatized by a man joining them in their private space. We should never place the preference of an adult over the safety and innocence of a child.” How ironic that she was the one putting her own girls in danger by not immediately responding to the knowledge that they were being molested under her own roof. How terrible. Those poor girls.

Josh Duggar has resigned from his position as executive director of the Family Research Council — an organization whose primary aims are to fight against marriage equality and a woman’s right to choose. The backlash on Twitter has been swift and full of vitriol — and you can hardly be surprised. The family is the epitome of hypocrisy. They rally against good people and even better causes under the guise of some sort of “moral decency” that they are clearly, in reality, devoid of.

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Yesterday, as the molestation story was spreading like wildfire across the internet, there was a 19 Kids And Counting marathon on TLC. Great timing. The network has pulled the show from the lineup, but has yet to make any announcements on any future plans for the show.

Enjoy your public smackdown, Jim Bob, Michelle, and Josh. You’ve earned it.