Monday, September 29, 2014

Indian Summer

We had such a cool and wet summer it was much more like a Moroccan winter.  But now that it's near the end of September, almost October, the weather is finally hot and dry and we can get out and enjoy beautiful Colorado.  Because it's Indian summer.  Although I'm sure that term is politically incorrect and I should be calling it either criss-cross apple sauce summer or Native American summer, but I'm not even sure which.  So I'm not going to do either, I'm just going to show you some gorgeous pictures.  Plus, this way you get to experience our 5 mile hike up to Raspberry Mountain sans whining.  Enjoy!

Maybe I should invest in actual hiking boots...

We were a tad lost off trail when I took this pic.

They may look like moutain rescue dogs in their packs,
but let me assure you they are NOT.
They need to be rescued from their own wandering ways!

Good thing they're cute especially with an aspen leaf
stuck to his nose.

I bet he's bragging about how tall he is to the other trees,
what an aspenhole.

Bear spray, don't leave home without it.

Don't let this crappy pic fool you, this is a
gorgeous orange color.

In the meadow making me think of a local bar called Meadow
Muffins.  Why the hell is it named that?

Yes, I forced them to take this picture, can you tell?

The view from the top was worth the whining to get there.

Ok, the above statement may be a lie.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Toddlers vs. Teenagers

The elements in the pre-expansive vocabulary years.

I remember when the elements were toddlers and they called me "mom",  how new it was and how special I felt to be in charge of these malleable little life forms that had a million needs. And how easy it would be to screw up.   And now I have teenagers and despite my very best efforts to the contrary, I've screwed up a million times.  Ok, I was mistaken, a zillion.  And then I just started thinking about how everything changes from toddlers to teenagers.

1.  Sleep- Toddlers wake up at the butt crack of dawn.  I don't know why this is, but it just is.  I would dread hearing that first cry about 5am and think, how has this child not learned the joys of sleeping in in these 3 whole years of life?  What is wrong with him/her?  Now, my kids are capable of staying up way, way past my bedtime of about 9:30pm.  But, now I'm up at the butt crack of dawn because I've been conditioned for years to be on this schedule.  Now that the kids actually have somewhere important to be every day, school,  they can't get their lazy asses out of bed.  And when they do, they drink the rest of the coffee in the pot.

2.  Food-  Which leads me to food.  When they were toddlers I always worried and wondered if they ate enough and had enough variety in their diet.  Now, I can't keep enough food in the house.  And even if every shelf in the refrigerator is packed,  I still hear, "there's nothing to eat", anyway.  I do still worry they don't get enough variety, as some things don't change.   Even though I have tons of healthy choices to eat at home, they have both opportunity and access to junk food.  Walgreens is conveniently located just down the street.  No cash?  No problem.  My oldest has a debit card and a bike to feed his junk food addiction.  

3.  Size-  I used to look more like an authority figure when I was bigger and they were smaller.  But, no matter how much I deny it, my oldest is now taller than me.  And my oldest daughter is the same size as me and borrows my clothes all the time.  Is it still called borrowing if the borrower forgets to ask first?  While I'm not short at 5'6", I have already accepted that I will indeed be the shortest member of my family.  And it's going to happen fairly soon.  

4.  Language- Remember how special I felt being called "mom"?  Well, I don't anymore.  Plus no one calls me that, they call me "moooooooooooooooooommmm".  It's actually more like a drone or a moose call.  And it's always for something really stupid.  Like where their headphones are.  As if I have a GPS on every item in the house.  Which I kind of do, it's a mom thing, but's just ridiculous!

5.  Thin line-  You know what they say, it's a thin line between love and hate.  And I think that line starts at about age 11 or 12 where kids' adoration for their parents turns to disdain.  (My youngest has already started this process a bit early at age 9 because of prolonged exposure to teenagers, leading her to believe she's one too.)  But I love them even when they're hating on me.  But sometimes I'm hating on them to, like when they can't seem to remember to flush the toilet anymore.  I mean they could actually do that consistently as toddlers.  It's like some weird regression that occurs when they become a teenager or something.

6.  Social Media- I used to have an outlet for this pent-up frustration.  Social Media.  Where I  could safely bitch and complain about all this kid stuff.  But now the worst thing is, now they're on social media.  And I find that I have to self-edit what I put on there so as to not be embarrassing to them.  Do you know how impossible that is?  I mean everything I do embarrasses them.  Everything, including my Instagram handle "misadventures_of_marie".  I don't know exactly why that's embarrassing in particular.  I mean I could have gone with "mommy_loves_her_elements".  

But that might be misleading, especially when I've just discovered another unflushed toilet with an empty roll of toilet paper next to it..  

Perhaps you can identify your favorite teen's "mooooooooooooooooooommm"  call here

Monday, September 22, 2014


We tried to get into this restaurant all summer.  We got so desperate for some Rabbit Hole that when we couldn't get a reservation we figured we'd just show up and get a spot at the bar and eat there, which worked for us once before.  But nope.  So when my husband called and actually got a real reservation at a real table it seemed like a major victory.  Then, when I found out the reservation was at 5:30pm, I was only minorly disappointed.

Going out gives me an excuse to dress up and wear heels, which I never do, because, come on, they're  like really uncomfortable.  But I figure for a few hours, consisting mostly of sitting down, I can handle it.  Maybe.  So I wore these gorgeous shoes I have only worn once before in Morocco when I went out on a ladies night and choked on my ostrich steak and had to hit the woman next to me, whom I didn't know well, to give me the Heimlich maneuver.  It was so embarrassing, which is probably why I never wore those gorgeous shoes again, until now.

Now when I'm on Instagram, so I can stalk my children there, I've been using my camera phone to take photos.  Which is totally new for me, because I always take them with my real camera because my phone is a total piece of crap.  Before we left the house,  I Instagramed a gorgeous photo of my gorgeous shoes to memorialize the occasion.  (My phone takes incredible photos of my feet and random objects, I have discovered.)

When we arrived at the restaurant, we took the treacherous stairway down to its entrance under the city sidewalk (years ago, it used to be the city morgue).  Somehow I made it safely to the table on my 4" heels, then tried to take a picture of my husband and I at the table, you know to memorialize the occasion of me not falling to my death on the stairs.  But, between the dim lights in the restaurant and my dimwitted phone, the photos were black.

When we were finished eating our delicious early bird special meal, and headed outside where it was still light, I took a selfie of my husband and I by the car. Because again, I'm still not dead.  By this point,  I've had some wine and the picture looks really blurry.  So, was it the wine, or was it my lame-ass phone?

(I tried to copy the photo from IG, but I can't figure out how to do that because I'm so technologically illiterate.  In other words, LAME.  However, you can view my public, for now anyway, Instagram account to see my gorgeous shoes and evidence of how lame my phone is here.)

Then we walked around downtown looking for some action.  But the only action at 7:00pm in Colorado Springs was walking in those killer heels.  Which is probably the MOST challenging thing I've ever done in my life and my feet are killing me.  So we got in the car to look for this jazz club we went to with friends once.  But we couldn't find it, and by this point we didn't even care.  Because my feet really just wanted to be in our hot tub anyway.  So that's what we did.   And we were home by 7:30pm when everyone else was starting their evening, we were ending it.

Because we're THAT lame!

And then we took a bathroom selfie with a proper camera because we're so lame we don't have many decent photos of us together.  Not that this one isn't lame too.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Writer's Block

So a weird thing that's never happened to me before happened just the other day.  Writer's block.  But, it's not what you may think.  This doesn't involve the novel that I'm currently writing that I really don't know how to write.  Cause that's going okay.  Slow, but okay.  This was a travel article.  A TRAVEL ARTICLE I SAID.  How weird is that?  Because if there's anything I know (how to screw up) it's travel.  I mean I'm intimately familiar with travel.  I have a million things I could write about it.  And that's part of the problem.

After hours of considering what to write, I did finally come up with something that I was happy with. But the whole experience of not knowing which direction to go in was unnerving.  So, I did what I always do.  Over analyzed the situation.  And after hours of questioning why a little travel article would put me in an existential crisis, I had my answer.

I never write with the market in mind.  

I don't mean to offend you, but never has it ever occurred to me what readers want to read.  Sorry, how negligent of me.  I've always just written whatever I feel like at the time.  Although, I do consider my family and my friends and I try not to trample toes of my loved ones, which from time to time might cause me to nix an idea here or there. 

Maybe I've been doing this all wrong from the beginning.  Maybe I should be writing with a target market.  I could write a hilarious taxidermy blog that would be so popular.  Wait.  I guess that's already taken.  Hold on, maybe my novel should be zombie porn.  After all, they are the two most popular genres at the moment, why not combine them?  But that's not how I write.

I write because I have to write.  
I write what I'm passionate about.  
I write with my heart. 

Thank god my heart, and the rest of me, is passionate about travel.  So, after a lot of work, I'm pleased with my article Traveling with Kids:  A Manifesto.  And so was the purchaser.  Yes, someone BOUGHT IT, like for real money, not Monopoly money.  First time ever.  I think I like this.  And I already have an idea for another article now that we finally told the kids we're going to Thailand...

To read Traveling with Kids: A Manifesto click here

Monday, September 15, 2014

Weekend Warriors

The weekends used to be so different when the kids were little.  My husband and I would have our agenda set.  Not too many activities to be overbooked, not too little that they'd be bored.  Hikes, museums, visiting family friends and trips to the zoo were among our top plans any given Saturday.

But, now that three of our kids are teenagers and our youngest is positive she's one too, they make the agenda. Birthday parties, sleepovers, work, school dances and going to the mall with friends. So guess what gives?  Family time.  They leave no open slots for family time because they don't want to spend time with us anymore.  So,  my husband and I have to fight for it, like the weekend warriors we've become.

Let me be honest, our kids don't take well to mandatory family fun time (MFF).  It comes with moans, groans and constant complaints.  Not to mention fighting.  Which makes it much less family fun time and much more family fight time.  Leaving me questioning,  Why the hell are we doing this in the first place?

One of the last MFF (feel free to fill in the f's with any words of your choosing), I forced my family to go to the zoo.  Ok, not all of my family, because my husband was working Saturday morning clinic and one of the kids was at a sleepover, but I think forcing 3/4 of my family to do an activity they don't want to still totally counts as MFF.)

Our annual pass to the zoo was expiring the very next day.  I'd tried to coax them into going for the whole summer, to no avail.  It was a beautiful day and dammit, I wanted to go to the freakin' fun zoo for god's sake!  I mean what kind of sick, cruel person doesn't want to go gawk at cute, caged animals pacing back and forth?

My kids weren't having it.  So I resorted to bargaining.  Ok, so we don't have to see the whole zoo, we'll each pick our favorite animal and just stop at those.  They were silent.  I was on to something.  Then after the zoo, we can stop at Culver's for lunch.  I had them at Culver's.  Why didn't I think of this two years ago?  Oh, because it's expensive and I wasn't ready to give up cheap picnic lunches yet.  And they didn't eat that much back then when they were small.

The thing is, family time is not only more work, it's also increasingly expensive.  

Gone are the days of my kids being young enough to get in free to museums.  Gone are the days of me being able to pack enough food to satiate them on a day trip.  And gone are the days when my kids are smaller than me, not to mention compliant.

But, before you know it, they'll be gone and the weekends and weekdays will be much too quiet.
The cost of this MFF time?  Well, it's well worth fighting for.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Double Standards

T-shirt sold at
If you don't already know, I grew up in a large strict Catholic family consisting of 3 boys, 3 girls and 2 parents.  Oh, and a whole lot of double standards.  It's not that we weren't generally all treated the same, because we were for the most part.  It's just that we girls were always monitored more closely than my brothers were.  And I hated it. But, now that I'm a parent, of 2 boys and 2 girls (3 of which are teenagers), I too have double standards.  

I see more of them every day.  Especially this week when I had one son and one daughter enter the world of social media.  I have dreaded this event for years.  I tried to prolong it as long as I could, until I couldn't prolong it anymore.  Because social media, while fun, comes with responsibility and stress.  Lots of stress.  Who to follow, what to write, what to post, how it can be misconstrued, how to rectify it and when to sever on-line relationships and real life ones.  And everything in between.

But it's hardest on girls.
It just is.

The need to look picture perfect 24/7 because everyone has a camera nowadays and at any moment someone could take a photo of you and blast it into the cybersphere for everyone to judge.  And they will.  And they do.  It's human nature.  This of course feeds the insecurities all of us have, but especially teenagers who are just starting to figure out who they truly are.  Am I skinny/pretty/witty enough?  Why didn't someone favorite my photo?  Doesn't anyone like me?  Why?  What's wrong with me?  And which sex is more prone to over think these kinds of things more than the other?  

It's biology. 

Last month I read the book Whipping Girl:  A Transsexual on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano.  Who can tell you the differences between what it is to be male and be a female more than a person who has been both?  The thing that really struck me in her story was not the physical transformation, but the emotional transformation that began soon after taking estrogen.  Flowers looked more beautiful and smelled more fragrant.  Not only that, she noted that she felt everything deeper, as if a veil were lifted from her emotions.  See?  We females are biologically programmed to be neurotic over thinkers.

It's not our fault! 
Blame our hormones.

Probably the worst thing you can give to a neurotic over thinker is constant access to beautifully filtered photographs of how happy other people appear to be on social media.  Because who takes ugly, unhappy looking photos and posts them?  No one.  And I'm saying all this because of course, I have social media accounts.  And I will tell you right now,  I'm guilty as charged.  And recently I have made a very concerted effort to try to reduce the amount of time I spend on them.

Because there is a direct correlation between time spent on social media and depression.  

What can we do as parents to ensure that our kids, especially our daughters, don't succumb to the low self-esteem that can occur as a result of social media?  I wish I had a step by step plan guaranteeing  we could all keep our kids safe on the internet.  But of course I can't.  And, cutting our kids off entirely isn't a realistic option in this day and age.  However, getting them involved in sports and keeping them busy with real life activities they enjoy is.   Thus, naturally reducing the amount of time  available for social media.  But, here's the pill that's probably going to be the toughest to swallow as parents, monitoring our own social media use and the signals we're really sending our own kids is also vital.
Not to mention all the double standards.

For more on teenagers and gender inequality here's another post I wrote, titled  Sexual Equality.

P.S.  Would it be poor timing to announce that I'm now on Instagram @misadventures_of_marie?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Narrow Minded

My husband's visual demo of my narrow-mindedness
 in the narrows at Zion last year
We were talking about music when he told me.  Just blurted it out and I was taken aback.  "You're narrow minded."  Just like that.  Whhhhhhaaaaaaaaaatttttttt?  It can't be true!  Wait.  Let me think for a second. Oh my god, it's totally true.  I'm narrow minded!  How can this be?

In my defense, I'm an INFJ on the Myers-Briggs personality test.  The fact that I judge things, well, I was just born this way.   SOOOOOOO..... IT'S NOT MY FAULT!  YOU CAN'T JUDGE ME FOR BEING NARROW MINDED!  Unless you can.  And I guess you can.  Because I don't want to be a hypocrite on top of being narrow minded.  Duhhhhhhh.

My narrow-mindedness is even narrow in scope.  It doesn't apply to society in general, as I'm extremely liberal politically.  My judgements are far more personal.  

Like the music I enjoy.  Which was the reference to my husband's original comment.  I only enjoy music that is thought provoking, intricately composed and hand crafted by artisans.  I don't enjoy crap someone spit out with stupid ass lyrics only carried by a sick beat, a bad reputation or simply because they're pretty and/or odd in some way.  In other words, I-G-G-Y spells crap in my book.  

TV is much the same.  I don't watch any fictional shows.  I'm sure there's good ones out there, but I just can't get myself to watch them.  Not when there's so many good non-fictional choices.  Like Frontline, The Daily Show, Chopped, Through the Wormhole, American Ninja Warrior and a whole glorious channel devoted to History.   HISTORY I SAID!

And stuff?  Well I like my stuff old and cheap. Kinda like me.  So thrift stores?  YEESSSSSS.  Coach purses?  NOOOOOOOO.  Unless I found the coach purse at a thrift store for say $5.  Then score!  I'd just rather save my money for experiences.

But not in Las Vegas.  Where everything I hate is one place.  Bright, flashy, up-all night, crowded, excessive, frivolous, celebrity worshipping crap.  Not that I've ever been.  Cause I haven't, nor do I want to go in order to prove myself right.  Because as a narrow minded person, I know I'm right without actually having any first hand experience.  Which is awesome because it saves both time and money.  

And I'm a big fan of time.  Time spent cooking, hiking, sleeping, alone, reading, writing, walking (in practical, comfortable shoes of course),  traveling off the beaten path, learning, ruminating, nagging my family and being in a small group of  good friends for short bursts of time.  

Oh my god, I'm a narrow minded snob!  Unless I'm Andy Rooney.  And I'm not even sure which one is worse.  I'm going to have to ruminate on that.  Maybe a walking meditation off the beaten path in comfy shoes that gets me home at a reasonable hour so I can watch 60 Minutes would be best.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Tonight We are Young

Me, trying hard not to look like I tried too hard.

I downloaded and printed out the tickets.  I'm sporting my Forever 21 jeans I scored at the thrift store.  I stuffed my driver's license in my black leather jacket, just in case.  I mean as if I'm going to get carded at an Arctic Monkeys concert.  Or anywhere else for that matter, at my advanced age.  The same advanced age that may keep me from being able to stay awake long enough to see said concert.

On the drive up to Red Rocks it started raining.  And with a naive youthful optimism that I believe is called called denial combined with comorbid unpreparedness, I commented to my husband that the rain would just blow over. It didn't.  But the lightening did.  Being wet for an outdoor concert kind of puts a damper on things.  Because damp.

But being cold and wet does keep one awake.  With all that shivering.  And numb toes.  Bonus.  So there's that.  Why did I want to come to a concert again?  With all the crowds, the late hour that would prevent me from being where I truly wanted to be, in my comfy pjs in my warm bed.....ASLEEP.  Instead, I'm inhaling second hand smoke and the eye liner and mascara I intricately applied to look rocker cool was streaming down my face.  Which did make me look kinda rockstar by the way.  So there's that.  

When the opening band started to play, even my contact second hand pot smoke high couldn't make them sound good.  Which begs the existential question:  WHY AM I HERE?  WHY AM I HERE ANYWAY?  For which there is no good answer.

Until the headliner took to the stage.  You know after a couple hours and even more rain.  And then I remembered.  How it feels to be young.  And so totally in love with a band.  With music.  With life. And to dance in the rain next to complete strangers and not have a care in the world.  For just a few moments anyway.  

The thing about youth though is it's fleeting.

So getting up this morning, with my hair smelling like smoke to a coffee pot that's on the fritz...
well, last night I was young, this morning I'm in my mid-forties and I will be in my pj's tonight (Friday night of all nights) by 6pm at the latest.   

(DISCLAIMER:  This post was written on very little sleep and a few sips of undrinkable swamp coffee. It may very well suck.  Like I'm the crappy opening band for a really awesome band or something.  I don't even care, because last night I was young.  For just a few moments anyway. )

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

New Chapter

Some things are best expressed through song...

...others are NOT.

And to answer all your questions:  NO.

No, I have no idea what I'm doing.

No, I do NOT have a Venn diagram of the characters.

No, I really haven't woven a plot. And I don't really have any kind plan at all of how this is gonna go.  I'm just gonna start typing.  That's it.

But, Yes, I may scrap the whole novel idea thing if it doesn't work out for PLACES I HATH SHAT:  A Really Shitty Memoir.



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