Wednesday, July 30, 2014

In a few words...

We've been busy, so in a few words, I'll fill you in...

Walking to the new frozen yogurt place with friends for dinner. Because it's too hot to cook.

Making cakes to quell PMS, because only chocolate would do.

Swim dates with your best friends kids, and realizing that they all really like each other. Which is good because they are going to be thrown together for the rest of their lives.

Taking a Facebook quiz about who your high school boyfriend would be and it being so accurate it scares you!

Wondering where your oldest has run off to and finding her sneaking an ice cream sandwich.

Being interrupted by this face as you try to write anything and everything. Then deciding that this face will give you something to write about if you just give her five minutes.

Just a few moments with just a few words. How about you?

Don't forget my Instagram giveaway! Check out the hashtag #absolutelyrad for info!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Handmade Secrets to Keep {with Aubrey Plays}

***This is a sponsored post. I received merchandise in exchange for this review. 
These are my opinions on products provided to me by an individual seller.

One day a package arrived at out door. It came with a warning.

We took heed of the warning, but nothing could prepare us for the joys we would find inside.

A bright pink fox with soft felt ears, and a sweet face. "Shh, Mommy", Mac said. "Pinky Fox is sleeping". She would also join Mac at pre-school.

A real riot girl with purple glasses and a tulle skirt. She had haunted houses and sullen girls on her dress. "Look Mommy", said Caitlin, "Just like my Monster High Girls, only more better". "More Better" indeed. I wanted to name her Raven, but Caitlin insisted on Elizabeth.

Pinky Fox found her way into our toy box and I have to admit that the other toys were jealous. None of them were made with such care and attention to detail. They did not have perfectly stitched noses and ears. The toys were jealous of things like crochet flowers and eyelet skirts.

Elizabeth made herself at home. She even kicked out a few American Girls. The pink stripe in her hair must have made her do it. It was very riot girl of her.

There is something delightful in the way handmade dolls keep secrets. They know why they found their way to you. Why they were made of that particular fabric, why they have long lashes or purple glasses. Why they so perfectly came with pink hair as if to bring a little chaos into a world filled with American Girl perfection. Not everyone looks like an American Girl. Sometimes we look like pink foxes, or riot girls with purple glasses.

I got to meet a new friend as well. I decided to call her Gemma, because glasses and pencil print guts drive me wild. Because her hair resembles a ledger. With perfect glasses and a soft smile we became instant friends. She holds some valuables and some unmentionables. And because her manners are better than mine, she keeps all my secrets.

I invite you to experience Aubrey Plays for yourself. I assure you, you won't be sorry. Aubrey's products are inspired and magical, and have something a little extra. I think it's the love and devotion that Aubrey puts into everything she does. Check her out on Instagram, and also check out our Instagram giveaway. For those of you who want to invite Aubrey Plays into your life, please use the code: ABSOLUTELYRAD for 20% off.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Little Adventures in Motherhood

Some days, even when you would rather be lazy and sit on your bum all day. You really need to snap out of it and go. Go somewhere new or somewhere old. Go and find a new place or world to explore. Go and find something to break up the day.

We decided to go to our little piece of heaven. A two story used bookstore in Clovis. So many of the books take me back to my elementary school library. The smell of old books, the feel of worn pages, and the idea that there are hundreds of worlds waiting to be discovered.

We needed a little break from ourselves on Thursday. After we slept the day away and stayed in our pajamas. We needed to do something other than play on the iPad and watch Nick Jr. We needed a change of scenery. A change of pace. A change of attitude.

There is something magical about a two story book store. Especially one that has such luxuries as antique couches and chairs. And books from floor to ceiling. How could we not turn our frowns upside down in such a place.

We left that day with new worlds to explore. Books, books, and more books. Where will they all go? It's not unusual to find books all over our house. How can that be a bad thing?

It's the little adventures in motherhood that make a big life. I forget that simple trips to simple places sometimes make the biggest impact. I think when I look back on my life as a mother, it will be the little adventures, the ones with no plan and no agenda, that I will remember most. 

Some days, even when you want to laze with the laziest of bums, it's best to have a simple adventure. They usually make the best memories.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Some people drink...

Last week I overheard my husband telling a stranger that I pay the electricity bill at Target. This isn't the first time he has said this, and I'm sure it won't be the last. It isn't really a lie if I'm being honest. I do shop at Target. A lot. It's my happy place. It's where I take the girls when we are bored. It's where I go when I need to get a way. But it didn't occur to me why I love Target so much until I heard my husband complaining about my Target addiction again. 

Target is my drug, my xanax, my Valium. It's my carb, my potato chip, my chocolate chip cookie, my red velvet cake. It's my glass of wine, my bottle of beer, my martini. It's my happy place, my 5k, my spin class, my Zumba.

Target is my happy place, my coping mechanism, my high.

It sounds funny, I know. How could Target be all of those things? I'm sure you hear women all the time talk about how much they love Target. How they spend hours shopping and looking around, buying things they don't need and always forgetting all the things they do. I'm like that too, but I love Target because it takes me away. I can lose myself in there for hours one end. And I always feel better after a trip to my happy place. 

Saturday, after spending the majority of the day at home, I packed the girls in the car and headed to Target. We really didn't need anything, but I wanted to get a birthday gift out of the way, because it was on my mind. I didn't realize it, but I had been in a mood all day. Maybe it was lack of sleep, or maybe it was the fact that I was finally off on a Saturday and the Hubbs had to work, whatever the case, the kids could tell I wasn't happy. Yet, after an hour, some Icees, and a walk through the school supplies, my mood was lighter. "Mommy, what happened? You were mad before and now you are excited", Caitlin said to me on our way to the car. All I could think of was, Target happened.

Some people drink. I go to Target. I made sure to tell that to the person my husband was talking to last week. I went up and totally interrupted the conversation to say, 

"Well, I don't drink, I don't smoke, I don't eat sugar or dairy or wheat. I don't drink coffee. So I guess you could say that Target is my drug of choice". 

Because it's true. I don't eat or drink any of those things, and smoking is a thing of the past. So how else would I indulge?

After I said that, the neighbors daughter looked at me and said, "How the hell do you manage that?".

I pay the electric bill at Target, silly.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Haze

I'm surprised to find myself in a pocket of misery. I'm not really sure how I got here, but I came to the conclusion last Friday night, after fighting with my husband and crying over things that can't really be changed. I've been going through the motions, getting from point A to point B, living in a haze I told myself I would never let back into my life. Alas, the haze has returned.

This time it has nothing to do with a crying newborn. It has noting to do with sleepless nights, missed milestones, the isolation that comes with being a stay at home mother. Somehow the haze has found me in my new life. As a new kind of mother, with no agenda and no rules to follow. The haze has found this new me, with new hopes and new dreams. The haze has settled and made it hard to see those hopes and dreams.

I've spent these precious weeks of summer in a haze. Working, and when I'm not working too tired to do much of anything. I haven't written. I haven't blogged. I haven't done anything notable with my children. Finally last week I forced myself out of the house to take the kids to the used book store. In this haze, I've spent my time in front of my TV, watching re-runs, reading books, and basically checking out. I didn't even realize I was doing it. I didn't recognize the haze. Until Friday. 

Friday I was in a horrible mood. Tired from my 4 a.m. wake up call. Tired from the week. Tired from, what I'd later realize, being miserable. The Hubbs and I fought and argued about all the same things we always argue about. Money. Work. The most frustrating part is that we cannot change a lot of these things right now. I can be tired and sick of them, but they will not go away, and for now there is no remedy. But I was also sad about the things that have gone away since work and money have become the focus. I'm in a haze, in a pocket of misery because I feel like I've given up on me. On the things that I have wanted. Like this blog. Like my book. I've been in a haze because I'm angry and uninspired. Because the voice inside my head says to give up, that even if I put in the work, I'll never get there. I've been in a haze because I feel like these pieces of me are slipping away.

And while all of those pieces slip away, I retreat into my haze and not only do I suffer, but my kids suffer. I haven't done anything with my kids. Not really. They play and I stew and then the day is almost over and I can't wait to go to bed. I've talked about arts and crafts projects and trips to the beach, and yet, we still have nothing to show for all the talk. So now, right in the middle of the haze, the guilt sets in. A guilt so overwhelming it blinds me.

So in the middle of feeling sorry for myself, I found myself overwhelmed by guilt. And it's the worse kind of guilt because it's the mommy kind of guilt. I don't want my kids to remember this as the summer mommy had to work. The summer mommy sat on the couch and watched episode after episode of her favorite show. The summer mommy sat with her pockets filled with misery and her head caught in the haze.

It took a few days, but I've found some perspective. Somehow along the way I found my footing in motherhood, and it allowed me to think about myself again. It's not a bad thing to thing about yourself, but sometimes you have to think about the little humans before yourself. They don't have elaborate hopes and dreams right now. They are seven and four. They don't care about mommy's blog or the book she wants to write. One day they will. One day they will be proud of my hopes and dreams. But this summer is not that time. They just want their mommy. They just want their mother to be present. They want to bake cookies and paint with water colors and read books. They want to go to a matinee and eat ice cream for dinner. They want to play in the sprinklers and use the Modge Podge they found in Mommy's crafting supplies. 

Sometimes we don't realize what we are really missing. I thought I was missing my writing. I thought I was missing some opportunities. But I was really missing out on this summer. This summer. The only summer I will get this year. I think I caught myself just in time. Perspective will do that. So as I immerse myself in glue and paint and ice cream sandwiches, I will also become inspired. To write. To live. To be my old self again. And the haze, it will lift, and my pockets, they will empty. Only to be refilled with hopes and dreams, and love.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The weaker sex

I've come to the conclusion that if men had vaginas, they would die.

We can debate back and forth about if men could actually carry and deliver a baby all day. That's just a piece of the puzzle. I'm talking about the every day care that goes into having a vagina. The surprises, the intrigue, the spontaneity of being a woman. Yeah, I'm pretty sure they would die.

I was talking to my neighbor last week, a male one, and don't worry my husband was there too, and we got on the subject of waxing. As you can tell I talk in real life just like I write on this blog. Anyway, we got on the subject of waxing and I was telling them they should come with me next time and get a little taken off the "top". We were having a good laugh, when my neighbor mentioned that there was no way in hell he would let anyone take a look at his "junk". Before I could even laugh I said, "You'd die if you were a woman".

Let's face it, most of us have been laying on tables with our feet in stir-ups for years. We never even questioned it. If men had to go in and have a "smear" of any kind, they would drop dead at sixteen. The mere mention of the word "smear" makes my husbands skin crawl. In our pre-teen and teen days, not only did we have to worry about hairy legs and underarms, but we also had to worry about "starting" at school. As if we'd all experience it like "Carrie", in the showers after P.E. while mean bitches threw tampons and pads at our heads. There were the social indignities of being a late bloomer, or being that girl in P.E. with a bra that rivaled our mother's. The embarrassment of the "changing of the guard" in the restroom between classes, because the crinkle of a feminine product wrapper is unmistakable. There is no other sound like it in the world. 

But we survive that shit. Because we are women, with vaginas. We are tough, and we weather the storms of embarrassment. Like the time your backpack spilled open at your locker and while you were picking up your pads, a cute guy walked by and saw you, and then you saw him avert his eyes as if seeing a pad in a rose colored wrapper would blind him for life. I'll admit, that is a true story. We have carried around sweatshirts and sweaters in the likely event that we need to tie them around our waists. We always have some type of extra feminine product in our purses, and perhaps now, if you are like me, you don't even hide that shit. The only draw back to that is sometimes you find a tampon out of it's wrapper in the bottom of your purse. And that usually happens when you need that last said tampon. 

As women we get to the point that we are beyond embarrassment. We are beyond being coy and blushing at the indignities of being a woman. Because having a period isn't the only thing that we will be cursed with. If and when we decide to have babies, we will have a doctor who will at any given time take a look down under. Have you ever had a vaginal ultrasound? It's uncomfortable to say the least, but it could also be considered a sexual assault if you think about about it. Then you have to talk about dilatation and waters and your bloody show. I shit you not, there is something called "Bloody Show". It's not an off Broadway production by Lena Dunham either, in case you are wondering.

I'll never forget the day Caitlin was born, and my nurse, a nice man with years of experience, put his gloved hand under my bed linens to check my progress. The look on the Hubbs face was priceless, while I just laid there as if this was something that happened all the time. It doesn't, trust me, but what kind of reaction is that? Oh hey Mr. Nurse Man, I just met you ten minutes ago, sure, go ahead and tell me how much I'm dilated. I'm telling you, this is because we are trained to do so. By the time we have children, we've had our vaginas looked at so many times by doctors and the like that we don't even fight it. We just roll on our sides and say "Can I get the drugs now, please?".

I'm convinced if men had to deal with a vagina on a daily basis, they would quit life. The Hubbs thinks there would be more kids in the world, but I don't believe that shit. One cramp, one contraction, one morning waking up in a literal pool of their own blood would make them quit life. Then to have to keep and care for one? Pads, tampons, waxing, "smears", and ultrasounds... There is no way. My husband still can't touch a pad, in it's original wrapping, unused, to this day. Even after watching me push out two kids. The idea, the mystery, the unknown worlds of the vagina are still frightening.

I'm sure it really does hurt to get kicked in the balls, they should be glad that's the only thing that could side line them. Let's be honest here, I've only touched on the physical aspects of being a woman and having a vagina, we haven't even talked about the emotional side. The Hubbs asked me if I could imagine if two guys had their periods and got in a fight at a bar. I laughed and we decided that they would fight, then hold each other and cry, then binge eat all the carbs, and finally become best friends. If that ain't the truth I don't know what is. 

Who really is the weaker sex? We may never know, but I know this. I can do anything. I can run a marathon if I choose. I can cook a gourmet meal. I can have my kids and bring home the bacon too. I can do anything, because I can bleed for seven days and not die. I can lie on a table and have the "smear". I can even get waxed within an inch of my life.

I have a vagina, what's your superpower?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Short Story Saturday {seven ninteen fourteen}

I've been really hesitant to dive into another short story. Ok, that's kind of a lie. I've been writing little stories here and there for the last couple of months. I've had every intention to share them with you, and then, that voice. I hear the voice. The one that says my writing sucks, that I don't know shit about dialogue, the voice that says, save yourself from the embarrassment. You have that voice too, although, it may not tell you that you are a crappy writer, we all have the voice. Today I finally said eff the voice, and decided to start a new journey with fiction, Short Story Saturday. For now I think it will be a twice monthly thing, so I'm not too overwhelmed. And I'd like to invite any other story tellers out there to join in. If you write a little something, or have something written that you would like to share, share it. Just leave a comment with the link. There are no editors here, no agents, no content police. This is a safe place. At least I hope it is. Let me know what you think and if you look forward to more Short Story Saturdays.


Elizabeth Calderon was five when Jack Lewis kissed her square on the lips in the kindergarten lunch line.  Why would he do such a thing?  Michelle her best friend said it was because he liked her.  Alex Oliver said it was because he dared Jack to kiss a Mexican, whatever that was.  At five Lizzie was sure of two things, she wanted to be a ballerina, and she didn't like kisses from boys on the lips.

When Lizzie turned ten she no longer wanted to be a ballerina but a lawyer.  Lawyers made money and lived in nice apartments, like on LA Law.  She also noticed that on TV, lawyers didn't have to worry much about money.  A big apartment and lots of money seemed like a a dream worthy of dreaming.  If she had money she could help her mother pay the mortgage, because when her mother talked about the mortgage, her voice changed, and Lizzie didn't recognize it anymore.  At ten she was sure that being a lawyer with a fancy apartment would solve all of her mother's problems.

At fifteen, Lizzie wanted to go by Liz, desperately.  She spent her days slouched, trying to conceal her chest, ever since Sam Jensen asked if she stuffed her bra in front of the entire freshman PE class.  She didn't, but no one believed her.  How could she explain that she went to bed one night a 34A and woke up the next morning a 34C? Her mother was no help either, telling her in a few years she wouldn't be sorry.  But she was sorry.  Liz measured her days in class periods, mix tapes, and episodes of My So Called Life.  She was sure about three things, she hated PE, Sam Jensen was an asshole, and high school sucked.

The night Liz turned twenty she got drunk and had sex with Mason Young on the filthy floor of his fraternity house bedroom.  Liz had no idea what was really happening until Mason busted his way in.  It was short and painful, and she was pretty sure there had to be a better way to spend your twenties.

Three days after turning twenty five Liz met James Walker Harrington at Melissa Espinoza's engagement party.  Convinced she was destined to be a bridesmaid and never a bride, she wore her black work pants and a ponytail.  As she ordered a gin and tonic, she heard a voice behind her say, That's an old man's drink?  When she turned around, she saw the face of the voice and knew she really didn't need one more asshole in her life. Even if that asshole happened to be pretty handsome. Liz realized that the only sure thing in her life at the moment was the gin and tonic.

Liz celebrated her thirtieth birthday with a breast pump, dirty diapers, and a screaming baby.  Her birthday wishes included a nap and a shower.  With a four month old at her side she ate a pint of rocky road ice cream and watched horrible reality television. She prayed that her husband would leave work early and take the baby for the rest of the night. He didn't. Liz was struck by the idea that she enjoyed her rocky road more than Mr. Harrington.  At thirty Liz loved her baby, hated her breast pump, and was pretty sure motherhood was not her calling.

On the eve of her thirty-fifth birthday Liz typed away on her laptop, writing a story she didn't know she had.  Reflecting on how quickly she hit her scary age.  That number had seemed so far away just a few years ago.  With two kids and almost six years of motherhood behind her, she was exactly the kind of mother she always wanted to be: good, but not perfect. After eight years of marriage she was exactly the kind of wife she always hoped to be: supportive and loving.  

As Elizabeth Calderon Harrington turned thirty-five she was sure this was exactly the way it was supposed to be.