A beautiful mess.


Well, well, well. Here we are. All at home. All collectively sitting in our firey little feelings as the “big germs” I tell my kids about ravage the world’s economies and life as we knew it. Things seem to have stopped overnight. I look at my 2020 calendar these days and wonder, “Why the EFF did I even buy this?” I shade in each square to count the days of quarantine. Today is 47.

That’s 47 days of intense family time, 20 of which were spent co-working AND co-homeschooling with my other half–until, like so many others, my company laid off a bunch of us to stop the bleeding. That’s 47 days spent 90% at home, 10% out in the world doing mandatory things– like picking up groceries and taking Sunday drives. The Sunday drives are what is saving me right now. Seeing anything other than the four walls of my home is a welcome treat. Driving to a desolate place and setting up a tent for the kids to play in for a while in the fresh air is a welcome distraction.

I’m reading Glennon Doyle’s Untamed right now, and it’s so dang timely. I’m trying to do something creative each day, whether it’s cleaning the pantry or making a sign for my yard to greet the many neighbors now out for walks on our street. Strangely I feel like I’m seeing more neighbors than I ever did in the “before times” and I’m hopeful that on the other side of this, more of us will be connected and kinder to each other.

Second Layoff: A Year Later.

Screen Shot 2018-06-02 at 9.16.13 PMIt’s officially been a year since I was laid off for the second time in my life.

If you have ever experienced what it’s like to have your job eliminated, I don’t have to tell you what a blow it is– to your sense of security, to your sense of self, ultimately to your sense of your place in the world. It’s never fun to be unwanted.

Even more so when you have a house and kids, and are the provider of your family’s health insurance. Add to that a healthy dose of postpartum anxiety, Trump-rage and sky-high daycare fees that you can’t afford anymore (but have to maintain to keep your spot in, so you CAN get a job), and you’ve got yourself one helluva perfect emotional storm.

Having said all that, it’s been a year now and I can look back with that kind of clarity on it. But in the moment, all you can feel is panic. Panic at night, panic in the day, panic in the shower, panic in the car…..like a black cloud that won’t leave you alone. Even the second time around, even though I knew what to expect emotionally, it was the cliff I could see coming but couldn’t dig my heels in enough to keep myself from going over yet again.

The first time I was laid off, I was a 31-year-old newlywed in Florida also looking after my 92-year old grandfather. Both my husband and I worked at the same newspaper we’d both worked really hard to get hired on at. We were both pushed out of a shrinking industry that we were so passionate about that it had been hard to separate our lives from our careers– they felt one in the same. And we will always be passionate about journalism. But it was, looking back, probably not healthy to know be so closely related in both our personal lives and our work lives, but we were young and didn’t know anything else. After all, we worked alongside other couples as well, and like many of them, we’d met at work ourselves years before.

I took a few lessons from that experience:

  1. Don’t work at the same place as your significant other.
  2. Don’t work in the same industry as your significant other if you can help it.
  3. Don’t move to a place for a job that you wouldn’t want to stay and live without the job that originally brought you there.
  4. If you find a dead rat in the ceiling above your desk at work, chances are things are going well, so get on that plan B, stat.

So when my second job layoff anniversary came around a few days ago, I decided instead to celebrate with my co-workers and brought donuts, celebrate the lessons, celebrate the triumph, celebrate my survival through yet another one of life’s 1-2 punches. I’m still here. I’m still me. I didn’t give up even though it would be the easiest thing to do and I wanted to a million times each day.

I’ve grown accustomed to loss in a way that few have. Losing both my parents at a very young age, losing my first home in the recession, losing 2 jobs, losing a hard-fought journalism career– but one of the most foresighted things my father taught me at a young age is that loss is a part of life, not the end of it. Everyone loses things, and it sucks every time. It’s how you manage to keep living that counts.

Oh, say have you… SEEN THIS?

Who doesn’t love a good parody? Certainly no one I want to hang out with, amirite? So if you haven’t checked out this Instagram account, you’re seriously missing out.

Celeste Barber Flamingo

Celeste Barber 02

Celeste Barber Instagram

This lady right here might be my most perfect spirit animal. Celeste Barber re-creates celebrity Instagrams and never fails to NAIL IT!

Watch out, people-who-take-yourselves-far-too-seriously. She’s on the case and you’re officially on notice. Not even Beyonce is safe.

Celeste Barber Beyonce


Girls can, and girls do: teaching my boys about feminism

Yesterday as I drove the littles to school, we passed a construction area where a woman in a bright orange vest was waving traffic through. As we passed I made a point to say, “look, a construction lady!” which was met with instant whines from the backseat.

“Buuuuuut she caaaaaan’t be. That’s just for boys!”

My oldest is in a stubborn spot about girls right now. He tells me frequently that he doesn’t like girls, even though I constantly remind him that mommy is a girl. So when I realized his little brain was having a hard time reconciling this scene, I improvised with a response that I think I might have to use for the rest of my life.

“But girls CAN! And girls DO!” I retorted. I waved out my rolled-down window to the woman who sparked this conversation and was silently grateful for her being there.

It turns out it was also the day that one of my best, oldest friends went back to work after 6 months of maternity leave. Anyone who’s been in those shoes knows there’s no way to mentally prepare for the emotions that sweep over you on that first day you leave your baby behind to continue the life you knew before their appearance in the world. Or at least attempt to continue some semblance of it.

Something must have aligned the stars because, by luck, during my morning consignment run to trade-in and procure winter clothes for the dudes, I stumbled across a shirt I knew she had to have for her little gal.

Working mother motherhood parenting

Not too long after getting home she called me sobbing, having forgotten some pump parts, feeling awful, and generally questioning her mothering ability as we all do. I immediately sent her a photo of the shirt, because girls can, and girls DO!

So here I am, raising two little dudes in a world that I feel often neglects to recognize their mothers as equals on the playing field. A world that sends that message to them early, and often fails to care for new moms or kids in a healthy, nurturing way, long after they’re born. Teaching my boys that girls CAN and girls DO is the absolute LEAST I can do. All I can do is hope that they learn by seeing women — the construction lady, me, my bestie going back to work– DOING it ALL, so it’s not a lesson, it’s just their reality.

So, feral housewives, if you’re out there doing it, KEEP DOING IT! I know the struggle is real, but our littles are watching and cheering you on, even if its in the form of whiney ourtrage they don’t know it yet. And if I see that construction lady again, I may just get out and give her a big ole’ hug.


Reclaiming My Time: A Mantra for Life

Maxine Waters, you get me. You really do. If only life worked like a congressional hearing. Sadly, unlike Steve Mnuchin, kids generally give zero sh*ts about The Maxine Stare.

I sometimes wish I could tell my kids “RECLAIMING MY TIME” after a morning of screaming that their pants “aren’t soft enough” challenging moments, so that we can leave for school just 20 minutes late instead of typical 30. But sadly life with little humans doesn’t work that way.

Time is short and precious and not to be wasted. And yet so much of it is– out of fear, other commitments, meetings that should be emails, layoffs, or arguing about stuff that doesn’t matter. I kind of wish more of my time would be wasted by someone praising my accomplishments, but hey– please somebody do that that’s beside the point.

My point is that wasting time can be terrifying to us. It can be a cycle of paralysis, perfectionism, and procrastination. When a burden weighs heavy, it takes Maxine-level guts to speak up to it and get going on something– anything– productive.

Creatives are typically passionate people, but that passion is not an on/off switch that can be easily worked with 100% of the time. Everyone has off days not Maxine Waters but they’re the days to recharge and scope out the next step to get over that bump.

So today I’m digging for my inner-Maxine and trying to remember that the time spent these last two months occasionally taking naps in my job search was not wasted. I’m reclaiming my time as being part of the process.

Go forth and give the world your Maxine Stare, folks.

Stand up. Be productive. Take the step. But also remember to take time to reclaim that time as your own.

Maxine Waters (J. Scott Applewhite:AP:Lily illustration)

Is rage-cleaning right for you?

Rage-cleaning: (reyj klee-ning); verb.

Cleaning with an angry fury, violent anger (sometimes used in combination). Now available! Should be taken daily with a meal, preferably one with a lot of bread.

Active ingredients include: pent-up lack of patience, unexpected unemployment, small, sharp toys, loud music from the late 90’s, and nearly every carb in the house. 


All kidding aside, I’ve been channeling my unexpected unemployment/job-hunt frustration into some nice changes to our house. We moved in a year ago, but since I was 5 months pregnant at the time and started a new job the same week, not a whole lot of updates and decorating got done. So in effort to actually DO those, I’ve been doing some rage-cleaning. Which leads to rage-decorating. Which eventually leads to rage-crafting, but I’ll get to that later.

Curtains got put up. Temporary wallpaper finally got placed. The playroom was finally organized and set up. The new house numbers finally got installed on the door. It’s been a nice distraction as I play the waiting game on so many fronts.

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Plus, I figure I may as well do it now. Once I get a job, the house will probably go back to a permanent disaster area until the kids are at least 18. But that’s ok, they’re just being obsinate making memories.


Five Ways To Treat Yo’ Self for International Self Care Day


It’s International Self Care Day today! What are my fellow feral housewives doing to keep their mind in the middle? Here’s a list of my five favorites.

  1. Read a magazine. You know, one from the GIANT PILE OF PARENTING MAGAZINES UNDER MY NIGHTSTAND that you’d never want to be seen reading in public. The kind that are always lying around when you get a pedicure, so you slyly grab one to quickly catch up on Prince William & Kate world affairs while that perfect shade of Madame President red dries perfectly on your callused toes poor, tired feet.
  2. Take a drive. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE to discover new places, so sometimes I’ll just go out and explore roads I’ve passed but never been down. Because I’m still fairly new here, it’s not hard.
  3. Rage clean. Sometimes self-care for me means cleaning up my kid-ruled house, if only for an hour or so. I’m so much more calm waking up to a clutter-free bedroom, or a nice clean floor where that pile of magazines used to be under my nightstand a living room free of errant dog bones, tumbleweeds of dog hair or singing Daniel Tiger characters. Plug in the vacuum and say OMMMMMMMMMMM……
  4. Go go a thrift store. It never fails to put me in a happy place. Where else can you go through thousands of people’s closets and quietly judge their taste find something absolutely perfect for the price of a coffee. It’a a bit of an obsession of mine, really. 
  5. Put your hands in the dirt. Similar to rage cleaning, but outside with fresh air and neighbors watching. I like pulling weeds, picking berries, and occasionally getting a little too crazy with the hedgetrimmers a good workout in. It’s a great way to feel better about life, lawn, and the world in general.