Posts Filed Under weeks of mayhem

This week…oh, it’s been like three, but I went to Chicago, and I put ketchup on my freaking hot dog. (I didn’t really. I was too scared.)

by renegademama
  1. So I’m sitting here at Millennium Park in Chicago. I came here a few days ago for the biggest blogging conference in the world. Blogher. I heard mixed reviews before I went. Some told me it was a giant sorority party, and I wouldn’t be invited to any of the parties. Others told me it was fun but I wouldn’t learn anything. People told me I absolutely had to go if I ever wanted to network and grow my blog. Other people told me it was the biggest waste of time ever.
  2. I’ll tell you what it’s been for me: exactly what everybody said it was. All of them. Parts of it were a waste of time. I went to a session presented by people who clearly just wanted to plaster “spoke at Blogher” on their blogs. Very little preparation, nothing of substance to say. I’m 90% sure one of them said “you must dream out of the box.”  At that point, of course, in the interest of survival, I turned off my brain and started Facebooking. Not that I Facebook without a brain. OR DO I?
  3. On the other hand, I attended a couple sessions that opened my eyes to whole new areas of publications and possibility, and inspired me.
  4. One of the keynote speakers said to get girls more interested in science and tech we need to make it “sexy and cool,” at which point I almost jumped on the stage and kicked her ass. Some dude keynote said “behind every successful man in social media is a woman” and I wanted to dropkick his face, I mean COME THE FUCK ON, what? Right. Because ladies are such “social butterflies,” clearly we’ve got that social crap dialed! Vomit. But one of the other keynotes was the female producer of “The Walking Dead” who said it was impossible to be both “liked” and “respected” as a female boss. For obvious reasons I loved the shit outta her. I don’t even know if I agree. I’m just happy when any woman will admit she doesn’t give a shit about being liked. It’s just so anti-social! Boom.
  5. I rode in the shuttle from the airport with 3 women armed with spreadsheets and perfect hair who spoke endlessly of private parties, none of which I’d heard of. All I felt was relief. Thank god I don’t have to decline those invites. I die at shit like that.

(Okay I’m not in Chicago any more. I’m sitting in my bed, finishing this post, so let’s start with new numbers, TO LIVE ON THE EDGE.) God I’m pathetic.

  1. But here’s what happened that made this trip fucking amazing: I met my people who I didn’t know were my people. I met Stephanie and Momma be Thy Name (who I knew was my people via writing but we’d never met) and the infinitely delightful Colleen at The Family Pants (who is like the karaoke god, apparently). I met the lovely Lea from Becoming Supermommy. I met the wicked smart badass Grace Biskie, who is trying to reframe Christian discussions of race and racial reconciliation. And I met Mary Bowers, a freaking great writer and my new soulmate, who you can read here and here, who I may or may not begin to stalk.
  2. I met people who are doing things and saying things that are worth saying. And that’s fucking awesome, right?
  3. And on Sunday, I got to hang out in Chicago by myself. Like ALL BY MYSELF. As if hanging out in a hotel room by myself for three nights, in a bed with nobody but me, in a hotel room with nobody but me, wasn’t rad enough, I spent a day in Chicago just hanging out. I took the train through the city and it was the first time I’d done that since I was a college student in Spain.
  4. And as I was sitting there cruising through the new city, taking in all the buildings and people and signs, it occurred to me how many years I’ve spent wishing I could go back to that place, wishing I could go back to the days when I hung out in cities across Europe, untethered, smoking cigarettes with new and old friends in cafés, feeling all Hemingway-esque and shit.
  5. And as I sat in the park in Chicago and walked around, by myself, though I wasn’t smoking cigarettes or drinking wine in cafes, and I wasn’t 22 and pretty and untethered, I was exploring a new place, and it was just as fun and exhilarating as before, only now, I was thinking of my family. I was thinking of my husband and how I wished he was there to see the crazy no-ketchup sign. I thought about how much Ava would love to see the old Chicago library. I knew Rocket would flip out looking at The Bean. And Georgie, well she would make friends with half the damn city, bringing all that crazy light and love like she always does, my “big boy.”

And so I realized: I’ve spent ten years wishing to go back to a place that was half of what I’ve got now.

I spent ten years filling the time with nostalgia, when the fact is my life is fuller and brighter and infinitely more interesting than it ever was before.

It’s strange the way we’re set free all the sudden, from the shit holding us back and down, if we’re willing to see the truth, and all the ways we’ve been wrong.

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Dirty Harry would be so proud…”To me you’re nothin’ but dogshit, you understand? You know what makes me really sick to my stomach?….watching your face with those hot dogs. Nobody, I mean NOBODY puts ketchup on a hot dog.”

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clouds in the sky and clouds in the bean

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I sat and watched kids play in this water for at least an hour. best fountain ever.

Oh, yeah. And Georgia turned 3 on Monday August 5.

I’ll be okay. I’m okay. I’m totally fucking okay people so stop asking.

Ah, child.

My best friends threw her a “Big Boy Monster Truck Dinosaur Party,” because those are the things she loves the most and I have the best friends in the entire world. I mean it people. The Best.

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These are the friends. THESE ARE THEM. From the left: Katie, then me (notice I’m the only one behaving in this photo? yeah. proof miracles happen).; then Cara Lyn, then Johannah and her baby Josie.

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Not gonna lie, we’re pretty gangsta.

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Wait. WHAT? This can’t be real.

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Big Boy Monster Truck Dinosaur Party, for the little Georgie

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We went to the zoo on Georgie’s actual birthday

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And we took this later that night, at her “family” party, in the house where she was literally born, and turned 1 and 2 and 3…love you, baby.

Also, p.s. I kind of got away from writing these “week in review” posts, but I’m going to start writing them again. I didn’t mean to stop writing them…it just sort of happened as I sort out writing for other websites, etc. (Look: When I say I’m disorganized and barely pulling shit off, I’M NOT JOKING.)

with all kinds of love,

Janelle

15 Comments | Posted in weeks of mayhem | August 11, 2013

Summertime, when the living’s easy…or could be.

by renegademama

 

I love summertime. I love camping and music festivals and warm nights.

Sometimes the hue of joy is slightly tainted by the sound of bickering children and my soul being sucked from my body as I look around the endless laundry pile and CONSTANT FUCKING MESS-MAKING, but the truth is we also have a pretty good time these couple months, and I have photographic evidence. Thankfully the photos are done in Instagram, where all the things look cooler, and the bickering disappears into filtered perfection.

Still, we’ve been up to some fun.

There was a camping trip to the Yuba River in the Sierras (that was the vomit trip) and one this past weekend, up north to one of the most sacred places in the world (to me, at least): Mendocino.

The best thing to happen on the trip to Mendocino was that my Ava, eleven years old, turned back into an eight-year-old for a day. She played in the creek by the campsite, built a complex fairy house for hours, proudly showing me the couch and table and walls. She spent a good nine hours over the weekend rigging up a chipmunk trap, and waiting for the damn thing to come. A couple times, it did come, but the trap didn’t work quite right. She kept trying.

I watched her like she was the best movie in the world, but one that only plays once. So remember every scene.

I have the best friends in the world.

I have friends who tell me the truth.

I have friends without kids (“childless?”) who guide me with mine, laugh and fill me up and keep my family moving along.

I have friends with kids that I love like my nieces and nephews, who I want to watch grow over years and years so we can remember trips like this one, when they were just toddlers.

I’m so grateful for my people. It isn’t lost on me what it means to have love and friendship in your life like we’ve somehow found…

building a dam, of course

girlfriends by the fire

Ava found a banana slug. She named it “Strong, Independent Slug.” She also kissed it, and put it on her face, but I saved you from that one.

dancing in the creek

so much curiosity

selfie with son

I just can’t.

chipmunk trap

blonde and beard and hug

do not get between G and her heirloom tomato

as it should be

And there was our favorite bluegrass festival on Father’s Day, at the Nevada County fairgrounds in the Sierra foothills. There were banjos and fiddles and dobros among the soaring pines and sunshine, and my little Georgia ran around in tie-dyed pants, barefoot, shirtless, dirty, in heaven.

She danced like there was no tomorrow. Ms. Joplin would have been proud.

My boy got his daddy a harmonica for Father’s Day and then the daddy said “give me a kiss” and I caught it in a photo and felt my heart explode.

Then I felt really guilty for flipping out at that daddy for forgetting a blanket. Damn, I am an insane person sometimes, you know, blowing it at precisely the wrong time, when family moments are supposed to be good and wholesome and pure…or have the potential at least…

But then there’s me, the imperfect mama who loses it for no reason, irrationally, maybe just one too many nights of not-enough-sleep, or one too many thoughts on the mind, not taking care of herself.

I realized that day that if I don’t take care of my own basic needs (health, nourishment, sleep, stress reduction) I have nothing to give my family. I guess I never understood that not taking care of myself is a really SELFISH act: I don’t feel like doing it and therefore you must suffer. You, my family. I’m impatient and irritable and you get to deal with it.

That’s selfish.

I’m going to try to turn that around this summer, when the camping trips and festivals are poppin’, and the living’s easy. Or it would be, if I’d just lighten the hell up a little more often.

We’re going to Lake Tahoe later this week, and then there’s the 4th of July, then camping again. This is good shit, people.

And I’m trying, you know, to hold all this as it is, to see through the clouds of my own exhaustion the beauty of these days, or the outline of them at least, cause that alone is sufficient to take my breath away,

particularly when there’s bluegrass involved…

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Summertime…

let’s make it easy.

21 Comments | Posted in weeks of mayhem | June 24, 2013

This week…Seven years later, it’s done.

by renegademama

 

  1. Sometimes camping trips are fun. Sometimes your eldest daughter vomits in the tent, at 4am, somehow managing to not only hit THREE sleeping bags, but also your purse, but not the outside of the purse, THE INSIDE. Right inside.
  2. I can’t make this shit up.
  3. At times like that, one must recognize the need to fold. There’s no hand to play. Not the time to fight, pull through, power forward. That’s the time to throw in the vomit-stained towel, pack your shit, and leave.
  4. That was this morning at 4am. I should not be writing this. I should be hanging with my beloved friends on a lake in the Tahoe National Forest. At least I should be just rolling into my driveway, after spending the day lakeside, among the pines and the mountain air, crystal water and California sunshine. But alas, being a gracious and loving mother, I came home for my poor sick daughter.
  5. Half that sentence was a lie. I came home, but I didn’t do it graciously. Or lovingly.
  6. In fact, I was a royal bitch about it. I acted like a horrible little kid not getting her way. You see, I had been looking forward to this trip as the light at the end of a long, dark miserable tunnel, and when it was cut short, I fell into a most impressive state of self-pity. Seriously, I felt like stomping my feet and refusing to participate (but what about meeeee!!!?). Instead, I just scowled and stomped around and assumed the martyr position.
  7. Anyway I’m over it. Once again I learn old Will was right: “Expectation is the root of all heartache.” Shakespeare and the Buddhists – obviously they figured out something. I expected too much out of that trip. After months of no break, of excruciating exhaustion and almost ceaseless pressure, I staked it ALL on this trip. It was going to be The Thing that set me right again. Ah, fuck.
  8. Hopefully you all are still somewhere cool for the long weekend…enjoying yourselves. WAH POOR ME. On your way home tomorrow, to tune out the sound of children asking 12,000 unanswerable questions, perhaps you can check out the podcast “One Bad Mother” with Biz Ellis & Theresa Thorn. They are funny, down-to-earth women who aren’t afraid of the occasional f-bomb. I was super honored (and terrified) to be on their show. You can listen here. Please do, and tell me what you think. {You can find their Facebook page here.}
  9. Speaking of thinking, I did some of that Friday afternoon as I was driving from Sacramento up to the mountains. I was thinking that I graduated with an M.A. in English, on Friday, at 3pm. Wore the robe and everything. It’s done. Off and on for 7 years I worked for that fucker. And finally, I finished it.
  10. Specifically, I was thinking about how five years ago I was sleeping in my car, but on Friday I graduated with an M.A. And this isn’t earth-shattering and it isn’t amazing and it’s barely even interesting in some circles, but it’s enough to blow me right out of the water, because it’s proof. Proof that nobody can tell me lives don’t turn around, people don’t change, or that some are just born losers, to die unchanged.

You see this picture? It says one thing. It says “there is hope in every lost cause.”

There’s hope in every single one of your lost causes, in human form or any form, I can promise you that.

And that’s a damn nice thing to know.

www.renegademothering.com

Thanks for traveling this road with me, you keep me rollin’ on.

with love,

Janelle

24 Comments | Posted in weeks of mayhem | May 26, 2013

This week…Listen to Your Mother!

by renegademama

 

  1. You know, sometimes life is to be lived. Other times, it’s to be endured. I mean nobody ever wants to admit it, but there are times when the only thing you can do is grit your teeth and power forward knowing it will get easier soon and you can live again.
  2. I am in that place. I have so much going on right now I feel like I’m drowning and it really isn’t in a fun way. Last semester of grad school, writing for 2 websites, super busy in other work, three kids, trying to figure out what to do with my tween, my boy (see #8 below), myself after I graduate. The toddler. Hay fever. Lack of funds.
  3. I’m so sorry for not writing much on this blog. I will come back. I WILL RESURFACE. I will write FTM Friday each week, and on Fridays (ok that might be pushing it). Hang with me, ladies and 3 or 4 gentleman. You know I love you.
  4. I went on a “press trip” in April to San Antonio through Parenting magazine. I got to stay in a hotel for 2 nights BY MY FUCKING SELF and drive a BMW at high speeds on a wet track. You can read about my trip here. You might get a kick out of it.
  5. We’re starting to plan family and friend summer mini-vacation trips. I’m holding on to them for dear life. June 1, people. June 1 and I get my life back (school and grading is over by then).
  6. On a super positive note, one week from today I will be at the Crest Theater as a cast member for the “Listen to Your Mother” show. I wish I could express to you how lucky I feel to be a part of this, how genuinely struck I am by the other cast-members, by the power of the stories they’re telling – by their humor and depth.
  7. There will be a lot of strength in that room – a lot of heart. A lot of the badassness (dude whatever it’s totally a word) that makes us women. And mothers. And no, we aren’t going to stand up and talk about our birth stories. We’re going to stand up and BLOW SOME MINDS. That, at least, is the plan.
  8. I sincerely hope you will join us, and if you do, come and say “hello” to me after the show for goodness’ sake. I’d love to meet you.
  9. Speaking of plans, my boy has been officially diagnosed with dyslexia. We’re trying to figure out what to do. You know, once again, it sucks to not be the people with thousands and thousands of extra dollars. Do you know how many programs are available for dyslexic kids if you have 5 or 10 thousand dollars? Do you know how LITTLE is available for people who don’t? God damn it the whole thing makes me sick.
  10.  Also, my house. OMYGOD my house. It’s so bad it makes that picture I posted look orderly. Not quite. But almost.

Hold me. It’s almost over.

Anyway, here’s what we’ve been up to…well, the good stuff. xoxoxo

 

P.S. JUST GOT AN EMAIL: I passed my exam. I got my degree.

Sigh.

Hell yeah I’m proud. That was a long time coming.

YES!

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Sticks don’t hurt people…Georgie, on the other hand…

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barefoot fishing? it’s simply perfect.

www.renegademothering.com

needed this day…I live in a beautiful county.

www.renegademothering.com

When the hell did this happen?

www.renegademothering.com

the dimples, people. the dimples.

 

moments like this sure mean a ton to me now…

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he’s totally learned to skateboard

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to celebrate the fact that the hotel was so nice it had robes, I made duck face and sent this photo to my dad, who was supposed to be my husband. I AM A LOSER.

 

31 Comments | Posted in weeks of mayhem | May 5, 2013

This week…profanity, Fubu, bunnies. Whatever.

by renegademama

 

  1. In 11 days I take my exam. That is why you haven’t seen much of me, and you haven’t seen any FTM Friday posts. I apologize for my flakiness. It’s not that the love is missing. It’s that there are only so many times you can neglect real life for the sake of fucking lip balm. Hand salve may be another story.
  2. But I will return, lovers. I will. And it will be good. Actually I already know what I’m doing next Friday: face wash. HoldOntoYourSeats.
  3.  Anyhoo, my birthday was amazing. As I was kicking and screaming and weeping my way through Victorian literature at Starbucks, shooting death glares at the asshole next to me who wouldn’t stop jabbering on his cellphone (because come on dude, this a public place, you have no right to use it however you see fit! Only as I SEE FIT. Why isn’t the world clear on that by now?), my husband calls me and says “wanna have lunch?” and I’m all “What? Aren’t you at work (an hour or 2 away)?” and he’s all “I got off early.” So he swings by and we eat lunch at a place we’ve been eating at for 13 years.
  4. Holy fuck that’s a long time. Then we went to my mom’s and she made me my favorite dinner, the one she’s been making me since I was a little girl. (Yes, I’m 34 and I still go to my mom’s house for my birthday dinner. WHAT?) And just like when I was a little girl, I looked forward to it all day, my mom’s cooking. Fried pork chops, rice, and gravy (that will change your life).
  5. Sometimes I can’t believe I’m that person for 3 little people. They think that about my spaghetti.
    Nobody makes it like you, mom. And my heart flips because I get it, and it’s true, and nobody can be my mom making that meal, and nobody will do it just right and nobody will make all of life feel all right, by being her and cooking food. What a love we’ve got.
  6. And the day after my bday (you feelin’ the love yet?) the female love of my life and I went to Berkeley and hung out all day, just the two of us. We spent 2 hours eating Indian food and more hours buying crap we don’t need (including about 12,000 things from “Daiso,” the Japanese dollar store). But clearly the best part was her trying on a Fubu jeans onesie. AND ROCKIN’ IT. (photo below.)
  7. Anyway so then it was Easter. Wait. Today is Easter. We did virtually nothing today. It was way better than last year. We visited my brother and his family. We did an egg hunt yesterday for an hour, in street clothes. Today I dressed my kids in Easter garb for literally twenty-four minutes, long enough to take some damn pictures and move on.
  8. Oh come on. You know you do it…take pictures so you have photographic evidence that all important holidays were celebrated and as a mother, you supported important bonding moments. (So don’t blame me your inner child is all crushed or whatever the hell it is you tell your shrink. We had Easter! We were a good family GODDAMNIT!)
  9. Okay there’s something wrong with me. Let’s move on to another subject. If you’re bored, you can read an article I wrote over at Allparenting on Victoria’s Secret and its efforts to EAT OUR YOUNG or, even more depressing, you can read about how I instilled in my oldest child a horrible temper. Yay!
  10. While driving home the other day, my 2-year-old informed me that she wanted to “pop some tags.” Yes, as in the Macklemore song “Thrift Shop.” Yes, the one that has about twelve swear words in it. Parenting win? I think soooo…..
  11. And, in totally unrelated news, Rocket came bounding into the living room two days ago yelling “The ‘fucking awesome’ song is on!!!!”

So we’re not listening to Macklemore anymore.

I mean goodness, we could have had company over.

“Whatcha know about rockin’ a wolf on your noggin’?”

I need some rest.

www.renegademothering.com

Georgie has been wearing a cape and mask for 4 days. So she wins at life.

Boom. Easter. Done.

The word you're looking for is "HAWT."

The word you’re looking for is “HAWT.”

The boy and I went to all-you-can-eat-sushi. It was amazing.

The boy and I went to all-you-can-eat-sushi. It was amazing.

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STILL CUTE

 

She tried guacamole. She loves guacamole.

xoxo,

J

17 Comments | Posted in weeks of mayhem | March 31, 2013