Posts Filed Under Useless Lists of Irrelevant Information.

15 Reasons I Need Plastic Panels in my Mom Jeans

by renegademama

I will admit, at first I was unsure how I needed  “slick plastic panels” to “bare my knees for a futuristic feel” in my “mom jeans,” but now that Nordstrom has mentioned it, I’m discovering the ways my mom life could benefit from such a thing.

What are “mom jeans” exactly? Oh, glad you asked: They’re jeans signaling the degradation of fuckable woman body, characterized by a large, flat ass, marriage and a minivan, and complete surrender to never being hot again.

The jeans themselves are characterized by high waist, tapered legs, and throwback denim from the 80s. These exact jeans are considered hip and trendy on other bodies, so the real key to recognizing “mom jeans” is the ability to apply a misogynistic gaze to determine if the wearer is still meeting the requirements of “hot thin young woman,” or not. Give it some time. You’ll figure it out.

Anywho, back on topic.

As I mentioned, at first I was unsure how and why I needed plastic panels on my knees, but since the advertising guys are always correct, I simply put my mind to it and realized there are at least 15 ways I can benefit from strategically placed knee panels:

  1. I can’t lie. I have on occasion been disturbed by my wardrobe’s total lack of “futuristic” allure. I mean there just isn’t enough sci-fi space vibe to my daily attire. I feel so present-day earthy. Total drag. So Nordstrom, for a mere $95, really spoke to the exact sartorial motif that’s been missing in my life.
  2. Now, not only can I be spacey cool, when my kid vomits on my legs, I can simply Windex that shit.
  3. Also if I happen to piss on myself and it gathers in the knee area. You know what? That’s a stretch. I never full-on urinate in that manner in my own jeans.
  4. Or if I need a spot to do a line of cocaine.
  5. Please forget that last one. I am simply brainstorming potential uses.
  6. I can also have more consistent knee visibility during colder months when shorts aren’t an option. One of the big problems in my life is that I can’t see my knees at all times. I need little windows to my knees.
  7. Why? Well, to assess whether or not I need to shave, or maybe they’re fat. Do I have fat knees? I should go running. Nobody likes fat knees. Little knee windows allow me to assess fatness and hair density and length, allowing me to more fully meet the expectations of how you think I should look.
  8. Wait omg. Also OTHER people can assess my knees. Hallelujah! Freedom!
  9. It also sounds fun to sweat against the plastic during hotter months. If I sweat, will the windows fog up? That sounds fun. I hope they sell anti-fog knee-panel spray and that it’s available on Amazon Prime.
  10. Plastic knee panels would serve as a tiny adorable slide for my toddler, turning me into a living play structure!
  11. Also, my kids may enjoy covering the little panels in tissue paper and glue, like little stained glass pieces. That way, I could wear my child’s art at all times, which has always been a goal of mine.
  12. Or, I could tape things to the inside of the panels, perhaps little Post-it notes with my shopping or to-do lists, or daily affirmations such as, “You are a bright shining star.” Happy reminders, you know, to stay positive while I make a casserole and wait for my husband to come home.
  13. But most importantly, plastic knee panels help me remember that I am a unique individual. I can be a mom and wear funky cool things and really stand out, like in high school when I decorated the soles of my Doc Martens with black permanent marker. My individuality has not been erased by these kids. Thank you, Nordstrom, for understanding that. Thank you for seeing the ME in here.
  14. Um, well, hmmm. I’m working on more uses. A portable plate for my toddler to eat off of! (Easy clean-up too!) No grass stains! The ability to teeter on my knees on wet grass without my jeans getting wet! That’s something I often want to do.
  15. You know what. That’s all there is. There are only 14 potential benefits of plastic knee panel mom jeans, but that’s good enough for me, because if you tell me something’s cool and necessary, I AM WITH YOU ALL THE WAY, AMERICA.

****

Look, the key to a meaningful life is writing ridiculous lists of useless information. Find out how! Let’s do it together!

Two spots left in my online writing workshop! 

We start on April 5! Join us! So many exclamation marks!

I found this a year after I named my workshop “write anyway,” which basically means I am Junot Diaz.

How to get mom-famous on Instagram

by renegademama

In this post, I’m going to share with you everything you need to know to get famous on Instagram as a mother.

What? What’s that you say? I’m not famous on Instagram therefore what the fuck do I know?

Look. You’re getting too caught up in details. You need to calm it down a bit if it’s going to work between us.

I know this information not because I DO it but because I’m a writer, which means I sit in an office all day getting ready to write, which I do mostly by looking at pictures of Kate Middleton being “super approachable,” and scrolling through Instagram.

I also have insomnia, and everybody knows the best treatment for insomnia is 1-2 hours of blue light via the “search feed” on Instagram.

So, in other words, I’m an expert.

Alright, here we go:

The first thing you need to do is get pregnant. No, wait. First you need a husband who is hot,

that one time Mac got a super hip haircut and looks like he should live in Portland

that one time Mac got a super hip haircut and looked like he should live in Portland

tattooed, and bearded. Like this fucking guy >>

But you need to act like you have no idea how hot he is. That way, you can humble-brag with each photo like you JUST HAVE NO IDEA WHY ALL THE WOMEN AND GAY MEN ARE TAGGING YOUR SHIT.

Do not be like me, openly admitting you’re weirded out that your hot ass husband still lives with you.

Okay, THEN you can get pregnant. Once pregnant, you need to take innumerable photos of yourself in extremely soft light, preferably in draping gauze by windows. Look down, curl your hands gently around your belly, and let your hair fall in sweeping cascades down your face. DO NOT GAIN MORE THAN 20 pounds the entire pregnancy but hashtag huge, also #thatbellytho.

Do not talk about hemorrhoids, marital problems, or any sense of impending doom or nonspecific regret.

You also need to have professional maternity portraits done, obviously, in forests, at least 9 times during your pregnancy. With your hot husband, holding hands, wrapped in gauze. Not your husband. Only you in the gauze. Obviously. Your husband should be wearing suspenders.

When you have the baby, name it Fox or Freedom or Wilbur or Banjo. Something super fucking weird but also quaint and meaningful.

Look, I don’t make the rules here. Do you want to be famous or not?

Newborn photos may proceed as follows:

1. In a wicker bassinet wearing vintage bonnet and white onesie, near window, bathed in perfect light. ALWAYS PERFECT LIGHT.
2. White and black leggings with crosses, black onesie with “Born free” or something similar written on it, moccasins, sleeping on a bed of crisp white sheets next to a small sleeping dog.
3. Baby close-up, wrapped in muslin swaddle blanket with matching hat, on a piece of fuzzy lambskin.
4. On dad’s chest without shirt.
5. On mom without shirt, nursing, but only showing one perfect round breast bathed in sunbeams. NO FAT ROLLS OR STRETCH MARKS.
6. In a light blue striped linen romper, on a sheet with flowers around the baby. Or branches. Or stones. Be sure not to explain why the fuck your baby is encircled in small green branches and pebbles because that doesn’t matter.
7. Hold baby up in air in front of bricks or white wall. Make sure you cut off the face of the person holding baby. Baby should just be suspended there, kind of randomly.

You can also fold your baby up and stick her in a bowl or pan or basket or some shit, but honestly, I totally prefer vintage millennial chic over all other forms of Instagram fame.

Throughout your journey, you’ll need a very fancy camera and a willingness to strategically place stuffed animals and pillows near your baby to create atmosphere. Atmosphere is everything.

Of course, some asshole will comment that it’s not safe to have pillows or stuffed animals in the crib (even if they are made of repurposed wool by a SAHM in Oregon). Delete those comments. Fuck the trolls. Atmosphere forever.

You need to put your kids in maxi dresses and scarves and crocheted elf bonnets. You need your toddler son’s hair long and messy but somehow perfect in an entirely impossible way and yet possible because there it is on Instagram. Hair should fall over the eyes but not have snot in it, or food, which is hard, because toddlers pretty much always have snot and food on their faces and thus in their hair.

Figure it out. Sacrifice.

You may also photograph:

Tattoos.

Leggings. Birkenstocks. Large sun hats.

$90,000 strollers.

Salads.

Oceans.

Your feet.

Your feet at the ocean.

You on your side with your tattoos showing holding a salad and your baby. Hashtag sundayfunday.

Older kids may be lined against brick walls and/or garages. They should be doing something cute but aloof because they’re just being kids and happen to be perfect and adorable and clean and stylish. It’s weird. It’s a thing.

You can also go hippie. Or fitness. You can’t go hippie fitness though.

It’s complicated. You’ll do fine.

 

And remember, I’m fucking kidding. Do you on Instagram, and beyond, posed or messy, neutral or fluorescent, carefully placed pebbles or unfortunate snot.

Fuck it. We’re all putting on a show. Some of us are simply vintage.

And famous.

If lacking a dog, cats will suffice

If lacking a dog, cats will suffice

How to raise an excellent toddler

by renegademama

Arlo will be two in June. We have entered full-blown toddlerhood. Luckily, he’s my fourth child so I know lots and lots of helpful things about toddler discipline and entertainment and excellence in general.

I’m basically an expert. As such, I’ve compiled a list of things I’ve learned in the service of all humanity. 

Here you go. How to raise an excellent toddler:

1.     Make sure you give your kid plenty of attention so they don’t act out in pursuit of “negative attention” (because, as we all know, it’s “still attention”).

2.     However, do not give them too much attention because you will spoil them, and they will grow up to be the dude driving 55 in the fast lane because that’s how they like it gottdammit TO HELL WITH THE REST OF YOU.

3.    Siblings are a good way to make sure your toddler doesn’t think they’re the center of the universe because your time will necessarily be divided among all the kids. But this can make the toddler feel neglected. Make sure you balance that. Also, siblings are a good way to make your toddler think they ARE the center of the universe because everybody in the family is all “OMG look how cute the baby is!”

4.    In other words, your toddler is acting out because you are spoiling them through their siblings and neglecting them because of their siblings.

5.    There is no apparent way to fix this. Have a nice day.

6.     Sometimes toddlers need you to soothe and hold them during tantrums. Other times you need to walk away from them. These tantrums appear identical.

7.     FIGURE IT OUT.

8.     Giving in to a tantrum is a uniformly terrible decision and by all forms of reason, decency, and logic will only result in a total dick of a human, but sometimes you have to do it because you’d rather die than listen to this shit for one more second.

9.     Keeping a toddler busy by offering questionable food items so you can get some critical thing done is a horrible parenting move that pretty much only concerns you through child number one. Just yesterday I bought cookies at Starbucks and gave them to my toddler solely so he would sit in the cart at Target. Leave me alone.

10. The only things toddlers want to play with are: toilet water, knives, and ash from the fireplace. Wait. No: Dog water, cat food, anything out of the dishwasher that can impale them, trash, marbles, liquid soap, and iPhones. If you stop the toddler from playing with any of these things, they will scream. These are “walk away” tantrums.

11. Sometimes, for reasons unknown, toddlers will throw themselves around the room in unbridled glee at bedtime. You may think: “Was there caffeine hidden somewhere in the day? Did one of those other kids give him a sip of the green tea latte they shouldn’t have been drinking?” Then you will think, “I have ruined this child. He has no routine. WHAT HAVE I DONE?” They will scream when you make them go to sleep. This is a “cuddle” tantrum.

12. You can definitely trust my tantrum classification method. I’ve made it up randomly over 14 years of parenting based on my initial gut instinct and the level of remorse I feel after.

13. People will always, always blame you for the deficiencies of your toddler. You will suspect they are correct. Also, you will want to cut them. Then you will remember the number 1 rule of parenthood: Kids are who they are and you really can’t change them but if they aren’t perfect it’s your fault.

14. WHAT? Yes. That’s what we have here, folks. If you aren’t following, read another book.

15. Parenting books are the fucking worst. Unless they help. I wouldn’t know because I gave up hope around child number 2.

16. I’m kidding! Never give up! Constant self-improvement and hope! Unless your kid had one of those twenty minute car naps replacing the actual nap. If that’s the case, give up hope. You’re going DOWN. Your toddler, however, is not.

17. In related news, your toddler will hit, kick, pinch, and possibly bite other humans. You will think for a moment there’s something pathologically wrong with your child because who the fuck bites people? But then you will remember that all toddlers, ALL TODDLERS, act like rabid animals for at least 2-4 months of their lives. The only person at the park who doesn’t know this is the mother of the child your kid just bit. (WHY UNIVERSE WHY?)

18. Potty training before two. Ha ha haaaaaaaaaaaaaa. Go home with that nonsense.

19. Toddlers are like border collies: If you don’t give them a job, they will dig out of the yard and eat the fucking hose. Only unlike border collies, toddlers hate all your ideas for entertainment, preferring only their own, such as eating butter off a knife blade, dipping broccoli in a toilet, or playing with the toilet brush, or really anything at all involving toilets and their water and brushes. Except peeing into the toilet. That is a stupid, stupid, very boring game.

20. AND YET, toddlers are the cutest mammals alive and are so profoundly adorable whilst talking, running, and expressing their little personalities that you will think, at least once a day, “Oh god please never grow up. I SHOULD HAVE THREE MORE.”

21. And then they will throw your FitBit away and shit on your arm somehow.

But it won’t help.

You will still find them irresistibly annoying, and simultaneously mourn and beg for the time that they’re a little bigger.

Basically, after 14 years, here’s what I’ve got going on in my brain: Do not fuck this up, Janelle. You are fucking this up. You are not fucking this up but will feel like you are. Sometimes you do fuck it up, in which case you should try to do better and that may or may not work but in the meantime you’ll notice the kids are growing up and turning out fine. Good, even.

And you’re more surprised than anybody.

So let’s just focus on that because the rest is too fucking complicated.

Go ahead. Make a suggestion for an activity.

Go ahead. Suggest an activity.

****

Eight spots left in my May writing workshop.

I hope one of them is yours.

bastards1

A troll’s guide to the internet

by renegademama

The trolls of the internet got together  (in my head) and wrote a helpful handy guide. If you are unclear what a “troll” is, I give you this definition: The most annoying commenters in the world; people who make it their mission to enrage and insult while simultaneously ignoring the point. They appear on every comment thread. Anywhere. No matter what. You can run, but you can’t hide.

Luckily though they are easy to spot because THEY ALL THINK THE SAME WAY.

Anyway, I can’t imagine why anyone would ever want a list such as the one below, but Service to Nobody is what being a troll is all about. Plus, I have a fucked-up sense of humor.

So here you go.

A Troll’s Guide to the Internet (Or, How to Get Everyone on the Interwebz to Hate You):

  1. If somebody writes about an experience you haven’t had it’s because they think your life is a lie.
  2. And you, you are A LIAR.
  3. If somebody writes about an experience you have had but feels differently about it it’s because they think your feelings are bad.
  4. If you are not the intended audience it’s because the writer hates you.
  5. Generally speaking, if you can’t relate to something, it is a pointed attack on you, your intelligence, and your life, and the only thing to do is call the writer a cunt.
  6. Or fat. Or a fat cunt. You could also mention beating them with a uterus.* Anywho.
  7. If a writer doesn’t validate, include, speak to and/or make warm and cuddly every type of human on the planet, the writer hates them too, and you should point out each and every type of human the writer has omitted. Unless you don’t like them either. Then it’s okay.
  8. The title alone is sufficient data to formulate an opinion and share it widely.
  9. When in doubt, attack grammar or reference Jesus.
  10. If you read it in a meme, it is true.
  11. If you find one study backing your opinion, even if it was conducted at Burning Man, you are correct. Beat people with this (it’s firmer than uteri).
  12. If somebody is struggling with something you are good at, he or she is a deeply flawed human and needs your guidance.
  13. If somebody is good at something you’re struggling with, he or she is BLATANTLY ATTACKING YOUR WAY OF LIFE.
  14. Along these lines, a single piece of writing is sufficient information to critique, analyze, deconstruct and rebuild a stranger’s life.
  15. You should do that a lot because people like it.
  16. If you suspect however that this person may NOT like your extensive unsolicited unsupported misguided opinions (weird), preface your analysis by explaining your Earnest Desire to be Helpful.
  17. Everybody likes helpful people.
  18. Or say something about “playing devil’s advocate.” People dig that too.
  19. A reader should not be required to engage in the complexities of reading such as comprehending tone, voice, rhetorical cues or even the publication’s tagline that reads: “A satirical news source.” NO! If the writer fails to use “irony punctuation,” which is definitely a thing because I saw it in a meme last July, they are not being clear.
  20. Invent things at random (e.g. “irony punctuation”).
  21. Whenever possible, argue against something by inadvertently being an example of it. This is not easy. You will have to work hard at this. Few people are born with this level of cyclical logic and total lack of self-awareness. One must strive daily.
  22. If the writer is a woman, talk about whether or not you’d like to have sex with her.
  23. If the writer is a person of color, mention “race card” often and how you have black friends, NO MATTER WHAT THE TOPIC.
  24. Lie often.
  25. Steal souls.
  26. Ignore reason. And the topic at hand.
  27. Never use your actual name and never, ever give up on a comment thread. Always come back. Always, always come back and bring your friends from Reddit.

Remember, young troll, above all else:
trolloffend

 

They are vast, and they’re waiting for you.

Go get em, tiger!

 

*The uterus thing actually happened. Wish I kept the screenshot. 

 

*****

Join me for my last writing workshop of 2015. Session 1 is sold out. Session 2 is half full. Get on it. Let’s hang out. Let’s write.

WRITE THE WORDS, non-troll.

bastards1

Breaking news: Don’t be a dick in restaurants

by renegademama

By now you’ve heard of the restaurant owner in Maine who yelled at some toddler who allegedly screamed for 40 minutes at a table.

I don’t want to talk about that. It’s boring. We have no idea what happened. As messed up as it is to squeal at a stranger’s baby (and that lady seemed pretty damn unhinged), it’s pretty messed up to let your kid cry for that long in a restaurant (if that’s even what happened).

What I want to talk about is the “debate” that surfaces between people with and without kids whenever an event like this occurs. In case you’ve been living in a yurt on a New Mexican bluff, the two sides go like this:

  1. Babies should not be allowed in nice restaurants because they’re assholes.
  1. Babies should be allowed in all restaurants because THEY HAVE RIGHTS even though they’re assholes.

I added the last part.

Anyway I find this debate ridiculous. Well, no. Not really. What I find ridiculous is that the whole thing could be cleared up instantly if everybody could just stop being dicks.

Let’s start with the parents.

Hey parents, How to not be a dick in a restaurant with your baby, toddler, or kids:

  1. Remember above all else that nobody likes your kids as much as you do. To you they are special snowflakes. To you they are the expression of your divine purpose. To everybody else they are tiny sticky creatures with unimpressive palates, limited conversational skills and a baffling inability to sit the fuck down.
  2. If you have a toddler and want to eat out, maybe don’t go to the tiny hipster joint full of humans too artistically profound to have children. They hate you, your uterus and the mammal it housed. They don’t think your kid is cute. They wish you’d stop ruining the fucking planet. Now pass the boutique beer.
  3. Perhaps also avoid the white-linens-only church-vibe restaurant without a dish below $50. Why? Because toddlers are fucking annoying and nobody wants to be annoyed in a $50-per-plate restaurant.
  4. I get it. You want to still go to these places. And YOU CAN. On Friday, when grandma has Johnny for the evening. I know you think you deserve all the rights and privileges of those without children. I know. I get it. But check it out: One of the rights of people without offspring is the ability to sit in a restaurant and enjoy themselves. Sure they have no meaning, depth or hope in their lives, but THEY HAVE ENJOYABLE DINING EXPERIENCES. Let’s give them that. It’s the least we can do as superior human beings.
  5. Or go to a loud, big, raucous family joint. People that hate children don’t go there. Or if they do, it’s their problem.
  6. But don’t let your toddler cry there either. That’s still a dick move. I have kids and I still don’t want to hear yours. I barely want to hear mine.
  7. So if your toddler cries or screams for more than a few minutes, TAKE HER OUT OF THE RESTAURANT. This is not rocket science.
  8. If you leave a big mess on the floor, pick it up or leave a giant fucking tip. And I mean a BIG TIP. I’m not going to pick up rice kernels on my hands and knees for 20 minutes after my baby (because I used to work in a restaurant and happen to know bussers have sweeping tools for that sort of job), but I sure as hell am going to leave at least a 25% tip. Because I try not to be a dick.
  9. Back on topic: Don’t let your kid run around. Don’t let your kid scale the booths. Don’t let your kid throw food. Don’t let your kid scream. Don’t let your kid bang things on other things. If a grown human did these things they would be escorted out of the place and instructed to stop smoking meth.
  10. So, as a general rule, do not let your child act like a tweaker.

These are not hard rules. These are easy rules. As parents I think we should be aware of the fact that we are bringing highly annoying humans into a place where adults are attempting to not be annoyed. Unless it’s a family restaurant.

Hey world: DO NOT GO TO A FAMILY RESTAURANT AND EXPECT AN ABSENCE OF FAMILIES.

There’s no boutique beer here, asshole. Only slick menus and chicken strips so leave me alone.

Really it isn’t IF my toddler is going to be annoying, it’s HOW annoying my toddler is going to be. And sometimes that level is so high I just pack our food up and eat in the car while regretting every decision I’ve made in the past 10 years and wondering if anybody would notice if I moved to a yurt in New Mexico.

Alone.

But then I remember that people without kids have no meaning, depth or hope in their lives. Whew what a relief.*

DODGED THAT BULLET.

 

On the other hand, toddlers need to learn to how to behave in restaurants so they don’t grow up to be the dude I sat next to a few weeks ago who was doing things with his sweet & sour pork and vocal cords that made me wonder if perhaps somebody should intervene.

So hey, maybe restaurant-goers sans kids can work with us here a bit too, and show a shred of compassion as we dig in our purses, pockets and souls looking for something to entertain this highly annoying small human with a limited palate so we can get some fucking nourishment.

(Trust me we aren’t expecting to enjoy ourselves. Going to a restaurant with a toddler is about as enjoyable as trying to corner a feral cat while the world looks on, judging.)

Cut me a bit of slack. Five minutes. Maybe 10. TEN AT THE MOST (not of crying. crying gets 12 seconds.). And if it doesn’t get better, I promise I’ll take my special snowflake outside to melt on the sidewalk so you can eat in peace.

Let’s just try not to be dicks. All of us.

Even in restaurants.

Kumbaya. Bon appétit. Feral cats. Whatever.

Hi, I'm Arlo, and I'll ruin your fucking life in a restaurant.

Hi, I’m Arlo, and I’ll ruin your fucking life in a restaurant.

*DEAR INTERNET: I do not actually think people who don’t have kids lead meaningless lives. I am making fun of that mentality. There are numerous cues in the writing indicating that. If you can’t find them, please ask somebody who knows how to read to help you.