Speed dating‎


Ordering Food: The Fastest Way To Break An Indecisive’s Spirit

Wait, no.

Let’s back up.
The indecisive’s spirit was breaking far earlier than their journey to ordering.  It started when they had to help generate ideas on where to eat for dinner:

Person 1: Where should we go eat tonight?
The Indecisive (Otherwise referred to as Person 2): Idk, maybe pizza?  We could do burgers.. hibachi.. like, something fast.. or maybe sit down.. Italian?  Should we do Italian?
Person 1: I had all those yesterday.
Person 2: Oh. *nervously sweating* Well ok wow, didn’t see that coming.  What about sushi?
Person 1: We could do Mexican?
Person 2: So.. you don’t want sushi?
Person 1: Does sushi go in tacos
Person 1: It just sounds good right now
Person 2: I will never recover from this.

I’m here to give you permission, Person 2, to drive separately to dinner if you just need a minute to regroup. Go muster some adult maturity on your drive so you don’t rearrange Person 1’s facial features with your David Yurman ring stack.  Play something angsty and loud in the car, like “THIS IS MY FIGHT SONG! TAKE BACK MY LIFE SONG! PROVE IM ALRIGHT SONG!” so that by the time you get to dinner, you are full of positivity and empowerment.

You end up at the local Tex-Mex place, renewed from your car meditation, ready to enjoy a meal out.  The air smells of queso.  The burritos look better than ever.  The salsa bar: newly refilled.  What a time to be alive!!!!!
(Steps up to order)

Me: Hi, I’d like a burrito bowl.
Cashier: Ok, first- for here or to-go?
Me: Oh, that’s easy. For here.
Cashier:  What kind of burrito bowl?  Beef? Chicken? Steak? Refried Bean? Black Bean? *lists 14 other types of beans that shouldn’t make up its own bowl*
Me: Chicken bowl.
Cashier: Do you want chipotle chicken, blackened chicken, or grilled chicken?
Me: Ummmmm just like the regular chicken bowl, so uh *casually wipes forehead sweat* grilled chicken.
Cashier: Do you want everything on it?
Me: What does that even mean
Cashier: *Says toppings in one incoherent breath* ricecheesesalsajalapenoonionbeanslettucetomatosourcreamguac
Me: *Palms sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy, vomit on her sweater already* I have no idea what consonants you just put together to create that word, but it would be helpful if you could show me a menu so I can decide. Also, I have a dairy allergy so all the things you just said with dairy cannot live in my food.

You are now in a low-grade fight with the cashier.
Me: Okayyyyy um, toppings, let’s see what we have here.. *scans menu while BonQuiQui breaks off her finger nails to fight you*
Me: I would like a chicken bowl- a GRILLED CHICKEN bowl- with rice, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and your salsa.  No cheese.  No sour cream.  No jalapeños.
Cashier: Do you want beans or no beans?
Me: Black beans.
Me: …………………… cause they’re black beans? idk..
Cashier: Ok, let’s see then.  I got a Steak Chimichanga with everything on it, add queso, with a large drink and chips.  That’ll be $8.98.
Me: *Doesn’t even care, pays and literally runs away*

This is what it’s like, everyone.
Please send flowers. And take-out.

order restaurant food indecisive

People of the Gym: Group Fitness Participants

What can I say?  People watching comes naturally to me.  It’s both fascinating and horrifying to observe people behave in ways that must seem appropriate to them.. but to everyone else, it’s just like.. no.  To write a blog post on “People of the Gym”, particularly Group Fitness Participants, proved to be an outlet for all the overstimulation and commentary I’ve held in my head for the past decade.  It was also gratifying to text friends to gather ideas and find out that they witness ridiculous people doing outrageous things in their gym classes too.  PSA America:  Do better.  Your Group Fitness behavior is all kinds of dysfunctional.

gym group fitness

Person Sending Help Signals With Their Eyes in the Fitness Room Mirrors
She looked terrified even in the warm-up, first red flag.  You kept an eye on her to make sure she was emotionally ready to lock in her plank.  How could you have known the mountain climber/side plank combo was her breaking point?  You made eye contact in the fitness mirror and she unleashed a frenzy of eye blinking morse code.  Based on your complete inability to understand morse code signals, you had no idea what she was communicating, but it seemed urgent which is why you went and gave her a big hug full of empathy and understanding.  That was the last time she ever came to Body Attack.


The Close Stander
Also known as the ankle biter shadow, allllll up in your biz with their jumping jacks.  The entire time I’m working out, I feel like they’re about to clip my Achilles tendon, which obviously explains why I don’t go all-in on my workout.  I have to hold back the energy just a little bit on my jumping jacks, in case the need arises to whip around and roundhouse kick near my neighbors to establish my territory.  “All. The. Space. I’m. Kicking. Is. Mine.”  That outburst will buy you a five foot workout radius… highly recommend.


Girl Who Executed An Entire Mary Kay Make-Up Regimen Before Her 6am Class
The ones who wear make up to work out….. noooo maaa’aaaams!  I’m not even talking to the women who exercise after their 9-5 desk job with some residual mascara still hanging on.  I’m calling out the ones who show up to the gym before sunrise, trying to act like they aren’t wearing their Age Fighting Moisturizer + Liquid Foundation + Mineral Eye Shadow in Granite (girl i need this, lets talk after class) + Eye Liner + Mineral Blush to swing kettle bells.  DON’T ACT LIKE YOU AREN’T WEARING BROW GEL.  WE SEE YOUR GROOMED EYEBROWS. If I even make it to a 6am class, y’all gonna be so blessed by my morning regimen: chapstick, deodorant, eye slits half open just enough so I don’t walk into a door.


The Spot Stealer
1.  You exchange pleasantries with everyone before the class starts.
2.  You decide you like everyone here, this class is awesome, it’s going to be a great work out, endorphins are the best!
3.  Spread out and get started.  Kick, jump, bend, squat, sweat, smile, repeat.  So amazing, you love this.
4.  Break for water between songs.
5.  Turn around and see that Catelynn- who you thought was your gym friend- put her mat down in the place you were just working out.  Not too thrilled about this right now.
6.  Weigh your options: 1) Confront her directly and confirm that wow, Catelynn did that on purpose because she’s the absolute worst.  No wonder she spells her name like that.  She needs to find some new real estate for her mat asap.  Or 2)  Put your mat down a foot away and passive-aggressively sigh as you do it.  Complete any core-strengthening mat activities with one eye on the instructor and the other side-eyeing your Gym Nemesis.
7.  Obviously you’ll choose Option 2 because you’re a lover not a fighter.  But next time Catelynn steals your spot, she better know you WILL meet her after class for a street fight and maybe a smoothie.. because let’s just all get along.


The Overachiever(s)
These are the people who push their bodies to the brink of hospitalization every single class or else they feel ashamed to be alive.  In my crowdsourcing of ideas for this post, a friend said, “The best is when I’m in Spin class and the teacher gives us a “break” and people jump off their bikes and do push-ups on the floor.”  Whaaaaaat.  Just reading that sentence makes me feel angry.

Come here, you tired little people.  Just stop being so fancy all the time and let me tell you something.  When a fitness instructor says you can “take a break”, that doesn’t mean you need to suddenly burn 900 calories in front of everyone.  We would actually rather that you pause for a moment with some water, catch your breath like the rest of us, feel like you are physically dying and may never breathe again, plan the hymns for your funeral, then notice the break’s over and start peddling with the instructor again. That’s literally what everyone else is doing during a break.


Girl Who Wore Her Spandex Bikini To Work Out
It’s *almost* as if she meant to.  Let me tell you something- I am a Christian woman but if this girl’s falling all out of her clothes in front of my husband, I will cut a sister so fast.  I will slash the Father Son and Holy Spirit right into her at Fitness Connection.  YALL TRY ME.  I don’t even understand why this is a comfortable workout decision- to wear 1/8 of the amount of clothing that’s actually needed to keep all the girls tucked in.  If Jigglypuff knows she’s about to do Step Aerobics, then she needs to make some smart life choices and ask, “WWJD” (What Would Joey Do).
friends joey


The Conversationalists
No, it’s totally okay, you guys.  Please continue having your conversation even though the instructor is having to talk over you to direct everyone to the next exercises.  Also, please laugh REALLY LOUDLY a few more times so we can all like you a little less.  In fact, while y’all were carrying on, the rest of the class set up an emergency GoFundMe and- good news!- we’ve raised enough money to buy you a  Keurig and some armchairs.  That soccer practice recap sounded really important so we thought y’all may want to get set up with some coffee in a location where we’ll never have to hear your voices again.  Mkay, buhbye, xo.


The One Who’s Like: Nahhhh I’m Good
My favorite kind of person, because they’re only nine minutes into their Zumba class and they’re like “unless you play Despacito, I’m out”.  They’re perpetually half a beat behind the rhythm.  They’ve stumbled into 3-5 people already.  Finally.. you see them pick up their keys, water bottle, and phone, and take off through the back doors.  They’ll spend the last 40 minutes of the class in the locker room looking at their phone, because that’s still 40 precious minutes they don’t have to pick up their kid from childcare.  Besides, Despacito is on YouTube.


That Guy Whispering “Can I have yo numbah” During Yoga

Thankfully not all the dudes in a group fitness class are like this, but there’s always one.  The guy who’s trying to be super casual about going to yoga… but really he’s activating his facial recognition software to see who was on his Tinder feed last week.  “ayyyy girl, how do u do downward dog, and ALSO..*whispers*.. will u go to olive garden with me?”  You move into Warrior II pose and whisper back, “No, I get diarrhea and go into anaphylactic shock every time I eat gluten or vegetables or breadsticks, namaste tho.”  That’ll teach him.


Overeager Middle-Aged Woman Having Her Midlife Crisis At This Exact Moment
I have witnessed- yes, this is true- a woman exuberantly participating in the front row of a Les Mills dance class wearing a belly chain of COINS over her tennis skirt. So many questions on this one, just so many.
1) Where was this purchased, Judy?
2) Do your sons know you’re doing this right now?
3)  Will you use three of those coins to buy me a Powerade after class?
4) Is your midlife crisis happening right now at this exact moment?
5) Are you swinging the coins around off-beat on purpose?  This is like clapping on the 1 and 3. I cannot handle this off rhythm coin clinking.  Honestly Judy, if you are going to involve us in your midlife crisis, I need it to sync with my step touch.


Broseph With Something To Prove
(See related: The Overachiever)
Most likely to go way too hard at Boot Camp, and vom at the end for good measure.
Probably wearing a muscle shirt so there’s no doubt as to how many muscles he owns.
Not afraid to manly waddle in the gym instead of walk, because how else do you transport all those muscles from one location to the next?


The Third Trimester Pregnant Lady Squatting Lower, Jumping Higher, Lifting Heavier Than All Y’all
It’s a really special feeling you get as a very much not-pregnant-woman when you are slacking on burpees because of leg cramps, and you look over, and Maternity Mandy already finished her burpee variations with box jumps, flipped a fifty pound tire across the room, and is now forty seconds into holding a handstand.  WHAT THE.  GO HAVE YOUR BABY. And do like the other people who grew babies.. gain 50 pounds and wear your husband’s clothes and drink lemon water cuz you have cankles and literally roll to get out of bed.  And if Maternity Mandy so much as posts one workout picture deadlifting a loaded barbell with her pregnant belly swinging around, report her photo as “inappropriate” to the Instagram gestapo, because no one should get a free pass from stretch marks and indigestion.

gym group fitnessIf you liked this post, share it with all your Gym Rat friends so they can get some act-right in their group fitness classes.
And while you’re here, check out similar posts:
People of the Beach: You Do You
Thank You Notes: People of the Gym

How To Stage A House And Also Lose Your Mind (Part Three)

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present our third and final edition to “How To Stage A House And Also Lose Your Mind”.

If you missed the two previous posts, sit your kids in front of a cartoon and get caught up.  Your temporary neglect is so purposeful and necessary… they’ll be fine.

Check them out here:
stage a houseHow To Stage A House And Also Lose Your Mind Part (Part One)
Step One: Bring in a professional stager who will make you rethink everything you’ve ever done in your house.

Step Two: Live out the American Dream, which is to say, have a house of stuff and rent two storage units to hold your other stuff.

stage a houseHow To Stage A House And Also Lose Your Mind (Part Two)

Step Three: Tackle the to-do list from the stager and realize Joanna Gaines is a DIY Goddess and we are not worthy.

Step Four: Once you’ve successfully declutter your home, go shopping.

And now…
Part Three:
stage a house
Step Five: Knock out those final items on the to-do list and laugh to keep from crying.

The final items on the to-do list are what I call the LOList.  It’s the tasks that are bottom-of-the-barrel priority, but still need to be attended to in the staging preparation.  Additionally, somewhere in the process of accomplishing those tasks, I will almost certainly LOL, ranging from a quiet snicker to an all-out cackle accompanied by a teensy bit of tinkle spray… choosing to laugh pretty much because my only other option is stress-induced sobbing.

Excerpts from the list and a description of how it went down:
LOList 1.  Move dead copperhead off of our property
Just a shot in the dark, but we had to assume buyers weren’t in the market for a house with “granite countertops! new carpet upstairs! also venomous snakes nearby!”  Just days before the house was to be listed, I put my daughter to bed and then my mom and I mulched the yard until I couldn’t feel my fingertips anymore.  (My sugar daddy would’ve been out there with us, but he was at work chasing paper so we can buy nice things like name brand sunscreen, y’all hear me?)  That three-foot-long viper tried to jump me as soon as the moon rose.  My Parseltongue is a little rusty but it’s possible he slithered up like, “sssup” and I was like “NO HE DI’INT” and he was like “hisss” and then I got my mom to back her car over it like twelve times.

We let it sit dead by our driveway for a few days as a PSA to all the other snakes.  Then we gave it a proper burial by scooping it with a shovel and catapulting it into the briars.  NOT TODAY VOLDEMORT.  Mama gotta stage.

LOList 2.  Patch and paint holes in the wall.
What should’ve been the easiest, most-common staging task became the biggest thorn in my flesh, the project that wouldn’t die a finished, perfectly completed death.  Ugh.  Why were the paint cans we needed to use corroded with rust, tainting all my paint shades? Why were the three colors we needed all like 2 shade variations from each other?
paint colorsHow was I supposed to know that Lowes was going to mislabel 2 of the 3 new paint can shades?  I mean.. you open a can of paint and stir that baby up, but it’s not until you get it on the wall for touch-ups that you’re like “OH.  Nooo.. no no no.”  Believe me.. I was in the master bathroom just slapping up guess and check brush strokes to figure out which can was supposed to go with those walls.
bathroom paintLow point, seriously weighing if the buyers would walk ALL the way into master bathroom to turn and see this piece of abstract art touch-up.  I really wanted to just tape a Post-it underneath those wall touch-ups that said, “Ma’ams and Sirs, I TRIED”.  And I’d leave the ink pen and Post-its in the bathroom in case they wanted to write back to me during showings and say reassuring things like, “Honey we know” or “You obviously devoted your time and attention to the living room, it shows.”  THANK YOU FOR NOTICING, SHOWING #3.

LOList 3.  Attach broken piece of wood back to vanity.
The side of the vanity had a painted wooden piece that chipped off, so I asked my husband, Daniel, to help me reattach it.  In he comes with a bottle of Super Glue.  Now, I taught elementary school for seven years and I can man-handle some Elmer’s Glue, y’all.  I’d never worked with Super Glue before but I figured it was only six degrees of separation from its cousin, Elmer, so I was all in.
Daniel dotted the back of the piece with Super Glue and had me press it onto the vanity to hold it in place.  I was not prepared for the glue to seep out from behind and bond with my fingertips.  I straaaightttt up superglued my fingers into the wood.  It was touch-and-go for at least 45 seconds.  I went through the fastest grieving process in humankind and made peace with the amputation of all fingers, if that would solve the problem of superglued wood fingers.  Daniel helped yank my fingers off of the wood, with no regard for my tender epidermis, and then- because who stops to think this through- I then touched my fingertips together and couldn’t break them apart.  (Reminder: I am responsible for raising a human. What is wrong with me)
The end of the story involves a cocktail of nail polish remover, dish soap, hot water, a Brillo pad, and a lot of minutes.  The vanity did get fixed and so did my fingers, but my biggest takeaway: Super Glue is no relative or friend to Elmer, nor can it be man-handled.  It handled me.

Step Six:  Set aside a day to outsource the deep cleaning of your house.
I wisely hired people to fumigate my house using enormous amounts of Lysol and Clorox.  Don’t judge me, you people peddling your all-natural cleaning products and the special cleaning cloths and the nontoxic ingredients you use to disinfect all the surfaces.  LISTEN.  I was in a bad way trying to get my house ready, which required that I tap into my strongest skill set: Googling.  I found a squad to work their cleaning magic and it just so happened their potions included Clorox.  They could’ve come into my house and sprayed bleach and ammonia all over the hardwoods… if the end product resulted in shiny, clean floors, then girl you just go right on ahead.

Step Seven: Ban your children from eating, playing, breathing, and living in the staged house.
A List of Our House Rules
1.  If you need to eat today, you can sit in your appointed location at the kitchen table and gum your food like a 90 year old.  Cleaning up your trail of sandwich crumbs seven times a day would literally put me in the grave.  If this is a problem Hansel and Gretel, you can walk yourself out to the curb and bite into the triple stacks of Ritz crackers you were trying to eat on the ottoman.  You may return inside when all crumbs are accounted for and not located on your clothes, face, fingers, shoelaces, or pockets.

2.  From this point forward, playing inside the house does not include couch forts, borrowing any Tupperware containers, or taking out the entire collection of dress up clothes.  While we’re at it, I’ve already staged your toys in the playroom, so we no longer play with toys inside either.  You may play all the hilarious and fun things in your imagination, but SO HELP ME if you unstack all the blankets from the rattan basket again or unroll any paper towels…  I will move your belongings to the shed, angel children, and you will sleep there until our house sells.

3.  Breathing is now regulated in our house as well.  You may breathe regular air like a normal person doing normal things.  We no longer permit breathing on glass to write our names in the fog.  Penalty for breaking this rule will be revoking all rights to your own name, so that you will have nothing to write in the fog.  This rule protects mirrors, windowpanes, and drinking glasses to stay stage-ready at all times.

Step Eight: Run two dozen laps around the house purposelessly because don’t you have to do more things?? Then list it.
There you have it, everyone.
Eight simple steps that will guarantee that you will have a wonderfully staged house and also have zero chill at the end of it.  Your emotions will be frayed and fragile but that house will be your masterpiece creation.  Godspeed to all of you on your staging journeys.  I’ll just be here tending to my eye twitch and residual heart palpitations… the price one must pay to sell your house. And your soul.

stage a house

How To Stage A House And Also Lose Your Mind (Part Two)

Welcome back everyone to “How To Stage a House and Also Lose Your Mind”, Part Two.
If you’re just joining us for the first time, I’mma need you to pause here and go read Part One so you can understand how I feel about stagers and storage units.  Basically, what you need to know is that I would rather have a flight delayed four times, sit on the tarmac for hours without pretzels or Wi-Fi, and then taxi back to the gate, than have to get a house ready to sell ever again in my lifetime.  Now that I’m a complete expert at prepping a house to be staged to perfection, I’ve decided to impart my wealth of knowledge to all of you (at no cost) (unless you want to pay me) (you can pay me if you want to)

Steps One and Two previously covered in Part One for “How To Stage A House And Also Lose Your Mind” were:
Step One: Bring in a professional stager who will make you re-think everything you’ve ever done in your house. (AKA she wants you to light all of your decorating choices on fire, and to be quite honest, you’ll light the match because you are so over looking at that bedspread with those curtains the past nine years.  It needs-ta-go.)
Step Two: Live out the American Dream, which is to say, have a house of stuff and rent two storage units to hold your other stuff. (The decluttering process to get your house stage-ready may require you to rent a storage unit.  Storage unit buildings tend to give me active-meth-lab-vibes so I made it a habit to swing my flatbed of boxes through the hallways as quickly as possible. I also gave the security cameras some deliberate sustained eye contact so the Crime Scene Investigators could see straight into my soul if they ever had to investigate my disappearance near the “alleged” meth lab unit.)

stage a house

3.  Step Three:  Tackle the to-do list from the stager and realize Joanna Gaines is a DIY Goddess and we are not worthy.

Our stager gave us a list of almost 80 things to address in the house but somehow the jobs I deemed most urgent were nowhere on her list:

Staining a coffee table is one of those things where they show .5 seconds of the project on HGTV but then suddenly, after cutting over to sponsors, you come back to this beautiful, finished mahogany piece that was magically stained, dried, and sealed all during a Tempur-Pedic commercial.  And from the couch, you sip your La Croix and think, “That looks quick and simple. I could totally do that.”  No, sweetie. Nope. It’s not like that.

Coffee Table Staining: Illusion vs. Reality
When Joanna Gaines stains a coffee table, I can only imagine it’s as easy as breathing her warm, honeyed breath onto the table and watching the old stain gently blow off past the Magnolia Silos.  Meanwhile, I’ve hauled our table into the front yard and sat on top of it for ten minutes to Google which sandpaper grit I’m supposed to use… decide to use all the grits because who really knows… stop sanding to dream about shrimp and grits… start sanding the table with the bottoms of my feet when my husband walks by to make a Marriage Point that a pedicure would benefit all the humans in our household, cause I’m petty like that.

Over in Texas, Joanna prepares to stain her coffee table by putting on her “painting clothes”- white skinny jeans and a blue linen top. I can just see her brushing that rich mahogany blend into the wood grain, pausing every now and then to sip some coffee and kiss a bluebird.  That almost describes me staining our table, except substitute everything she was doing with the exact opposite.  I would’ve worn my chambray tunic, JoJo, but instead, I threw on soccer shorts and a tournament t-shirt from 2000 to really get after it.

In the course of my staining project- this thing that should’ve never been allowed to happen- I used a paintbrush from the dollar store… I stained the table in the living room, which concentrated all the fumes and temporarily sent me to an alternate reality… I built an unnecessarily elaborate furniture barricade around the table as it dried so my toddler couldn’t get to it.  To top it all off, after staining, the palms of my hands looked like I’d gotten bootleg henna from the State Fair.
hennaImagine a henna artist who is visually impaired, a little tipsy, and doesn’t have any opposable thumbs, and whatever you’re imagining they would’ve drawn is pretty much how my hands looked by the end of the staining project.

There are some other steps, you know, that are required in the process of staining a coffee table. I won’t bore you with all the other details, but I’ll at least give a nod to Joanna’s final step, which is typically much like mine- sealing the stain using a pinch of morning dew, a generous helping of positive thoughts, and soft, reassuring whispers to the wood grains.  However, this time, I had to seal the coffee table with my polyurethane tears after our cat jumped onto its wet stain, then raced away, leaving little brown paw prints on our hardwood floors.  True story:

paw prints

Step Four: Once you’ve successfully decluttered your home, go shopping.

It only takes a few storage unit trips before it becomes apparent you need to shop for more stuff to fill your house.  This seems like a good time to point out, that if you’re in a “joint-bank-account” scenario, be prepared to come home with seven HomeGoods bags and defend every single item as “essential to the sale of your home”.  Like this:

Him: “Why did you shop for more stuff when we just dropped off a ton of things at the storage unit yesterday?”
Me: “We can’t just move all of our old stuff out and then have nothing.  We have to make our house look pretty now.  Trust me, buyers will love walking through our house with these pieces.”
Him:  “Ok but that mirror with the spikes you bought is weird.”
Me:  “Then don’t look at it.”
Me: *runs away*

For some reason, buyers need you to have a trendy porcelain bowl with fruit on your staged kitchen table, so if you don’t have one, add it to the shopping list.  May I also suggest a fake orchid in the bathroom because zen.  And not to be forgotten for all the staged houses everywhere, new throw pillows.  So many throw pillows for all the rooms, that hypothetically, a person going to Target for pasta salad ingredients would see and need new throw pillows for the master bedroom… which also requires new master bedding, as well.  target pillows

But it’s okay, because it’s essential to the sale of our home.

stage a house

The final edition, Part Three, coming soon… Stay tuned.

How To Stage A House And Also Lose Your Mind (Part One)

Hello, and welcome everybody to “How to Stage a House And Also Lose Your Mind”.
Before we get started, I’d like to take a moment and thank our fake sponsor, The Magic Eraser, for magically erasing the closet and hall markings that would have otherwise led buyers to believe that we kept uncaged raccoons in our home, served them Mountain Dew, and then let them climb up the walls.  (To offer perspective, if I’d won the Powerball last week, I would have used all the money to buy more Magic Erasers and also world peace.)

Summer 2017 held lots of changes and a season of massive transition for our family.  When I wasn’t busy attending to my skin melting off in the 99 degree weather (humidity level: Satan’s morning breath), I was probably inside surrounded by moving boxes and packaging tape, boxing up every blessed (and cursed) thing we own.  We moved forward in the process of selling our home without finding a house to purchase, so we pulled the oldest trick in the Millennial Book and moved back home with my Mom while we continue our search. (Hey Roomie!) I missed being able to sit down and write this summer, but TRUST FAM, this post wrote itself every time I taped a box shut or cleaned out a closet.

Prepping a house to get it ready for a sale- especially if you’ve lived there longer than ten minutes- is just an absolute nightmare.  It’s the Project of all Projects.  Since we’ve walked this road the past few months, I’d like to gather all of you Young Grasshoppers close and describe what it’s like to prep and stage a house to perfection.  This post is just Part One; more posts will roll out continuing the steps on How to Stage a House in the next few days, so stay tuned.  HUR WE GO:

stage a house

1.  Step One:  Bring in a professional stager who will make you re-think everything you’ve ever done in your house.

Our stager was wonderful and had a great eye for how to simplify and beautify a space.  This essentially meant that as she walked through every room in our house she gave some variation of “ummmmmmmmm no”.  One of our conversations was like,
Stager: “Let’s go see the guest room”
Me: “Alright, I’ll walk you upstairs”
S: “Ohhhhhhhkayyy so this room is very cluttered already”
Me: “yah it sucks”
S: “A lot of dark colors… a lot of dark furniture…”
Me: “ive always hated this room too Cindy”
S: “We’re going to need to make a lot changes in here”
Me: “ok let’s just set it on fire”

If you want to know what a stager will tell you to do, here’s the short version: put all of your husband’s college furniture in a place known as Not Your House, place a bowl of fruit on the table, and do most of the projects you should’ve done two years into living there that you didn’t do because you were watching Parenthood Season 4.

2. Step Two: Live out the American Dream, which is to say, have a house of stuff and rent two storage units to hold your other stuff.

Getting your house stage-ready means you have to declutter, which then requires you to decide if you’re going to get rid of the stuff or put it into storage.  The great thing about storage units is that they make amazing settings for CSI episodes where the serial killer stores all of his victims’ ponytails.  Also, the location where a criminal stacks his gold bars and then sits in a lawn chair in the unit to count all of them.  I guess what I’m getting at is that low-lit storage units make me feel suspicious of everyone and creeped out by everything.  So naturally, when it’s time for us to declutter the house and rent a storage space, I went on high alert for for anyone who’d wanna cut off my ponytail every time we dropped off boxes or furniture.

Aside from my mental anguish at walking down the creepy hallways of a storage unit, I did consider it a personal goal to perfect my flat bed driving skills.  Driving one of those is essentially a combination of Mario Kart’s Rainbow Road (where I’m an unpredictable, largely unsafe driver) and Tokyo Drift (where I’m drifting the flat bed at every turn to make it around a corner) plus trying to hold four boxes, a nightstand, and some cornhole boards steady so they don’t topple off.  You can’t even sing “Jesus Take The Wheel” because Jesus is like, “sry, cant help you on this one. you’re in satans building, safe travels”

As my husband and I would start unloading, we would ask ourselves, “What can we do with our two year old right now to win Parent of the Year?”  storage unit Answer: let her sit unsupervised in an armchair in a storage unit and eat easy mac while we Tetris our furniture into place.  Please do not send us a Parent of the Year trophy, because it would probably end up in this storage unit; instead you may put our parenting accolades on blast on all social media channels and we will humbly receive your kind words.

We were pushing stuff into those units and stacking boxes straight up to the ceiling. My husband’s most endearing habit lately has been to ask me where an item could possibly be located: “Have you seen where my black belt is?”, “Do you know where the cable box would be?”, “Which storage unit has the box of my grilling stuff?”… Every single time, I lay hands on his handsome face and say I CAN NO SOONER TELL YOU WHERE ANYTHING IS IN OUR LIVES RIGHT NOW than if I walked four hours and seven minutes across town to the storage unit and took every single item out one-by-one to find that cable box.  (Which I will not be doing, so R.I.P. cable box, black belt, grilling stuff, also Blu-Ray DVDs, steak knives, and whatever was in his nightstand.)

You have been granted exclusive access to Steps One and Two of staging a house, but y’all know I got more to say.  Check back soon for Part Two to assess my level of crazy while trying to DIY stain our coffee table in house-staging mode…  Suffice it to say: the cray hit the fan. See y’all back here soon!

Would You Rather: Walk Barefoot In a Gas Station Bathroom… Or Go Bathing Suit Shopping?

Last weekend, I found myself bathing suit shopping at the mall.
Let me rephrase that:
Last weekend at the mall, I decided I’ll just keep wearing the same bathing suits I’ve worn for the past nine years.

So basically, it didn’t go well.

If y’all don’t mind, I just need to vent about this disaster of a process.  I’m normally a glass-half-full kind of person.  Optimistic.  Hopeful.  But there is just no room in my glass right now for positivity.  If anything, my glass is half full of tears from entering the ninth circle of hell, also known as Belk’s swim department dressing room.

I know I’m not alone because I found this on the internet, and the internet doesn’t lie.

Let’s start here: the styles.
Somehow, in my advanced market research, I’ve discovered that stores either sell suits geared toward the women taking the Assisted Living Van over to the mall.. or they sell swim suits that are so itty bitty that they must have been cobbled together for garden fairies.  ATTENTION AMERICA: Last time I checked, there is no YMCA for garden fairies and the senior center’s therapy pool is booked through 2021.  They don’t need new swim suits.  I DO.

Obviously I’m mistaken, but I thought that we were all on the same page here, that bathing suits should not be responsible for unsightly tan lines.  Bathing suits with all these criss-cross strings across the top… They will be entirely responsible for creating a labyrinth of sunburn across bridesmaids’ chests everywhere and ruining wedding pictures.  I’m calling it now!!!!!  Not to mention, at the mall, I saw several swim suits that sit off-the-shoulder, which would mean I’d sacrificially accept white rings around my upper arms to be able to have evenly tanned shoulders. You guys, have we thought this thing through?  Is vanity completely dead?  Do we need a think tank to generate some fresh ideas?

I wouldn’t say I’m a high maintenance person, but if we’re being honest, I wouldn’t want to go bathing suit shopping with me.
-I need a suit that has enough fabric but not so much fabric that it creates a swim skirt.
-I need something that would pass all variations of The Toddler Test- able to hold up against the energetic two year old crawling up my torso in the pool or the hangry, thrashing toddler who’s being carried like a gym bag off the beach.
-I do not need a suit that is accompanied by a set of instructions.  If I need to read a piece of paper to understand where these pieces connect and make sense of the cut-outs, then I can already tell you that I’d rather swim in my street clothes.
-Due to the already sensitive nature of the shopping trip, I require zero models to be on the swimsuit tag.  (If models MUST be on the tag to display the swimwear, I request that they look like the rest of us commoners with a messy bun and chipped nail polish and a Cookout milkshake in one hand)

Here’s the thing though:  you finally survive the dressing room angst and find a suit that fits, that you also happen to like, but when you check the price tag, you just about lose your religion.  This was me at the mall, you guys.  I was moments away from going nuclear when I realized the bathing suit TOP that I liked was $88.  I’m sorry, WHAT??  Paging Trina Turk:  I’m gonna need you to knock off some dollar signs so I can look cute at the beach!

Long story short, I bought it.
Whatever.  In related news, we’ll be having a lemonade stand at our house this weekend.  All proceeds will go toward offsetting the cost of my diamond-lined swim top.

On my way home from the mall, I let my husband know that I was headed back and my emotional status was Code Red.  The whole saga spilled out when I got home: the bathing suits all look weird… it costs $150 to cover 30-40% of my body… my one-year-old has way better bathing suit choices than I do… I’m gonna get bizarre tan lines, is nothing sacred anymore… shouldn’t I be allowed to borrow a bathing suit and sprint after a toddling Puddle Jumper before I spend that kind of money… I’m not crying, you’re crying… fine, I’ll just eat kale sandwiches until the end of time… I’m never going shopping for swimsuits again… OUR PETS HEADS ARE FALLING OFF

So, we return to our original question.  Would you rather: walk barefoot in a gas station bathroom.. or go bathing suit shopping?
bathing suit shoppingWe’re not talking like a well-lit Sheetz that’s cleaned every hour on the hour.. we’re talking like backwoods rusty old toilets and fetid standing water and gotta-get-the-key-to-unlock-the-door type of bathroom (obviously with one of those gigantic wooden blocks hanging off the key).

After serious consideration, I’ve decided I would rather walk barefoot in a gas station bathroom than ever go bathing suit shopping again.  While quality medical care and a hearty dose of antibiotics can attend to any diseases acquired from that nasty gas station bathroom, ain’t no amount of therapy can undo the emotional trauma and drama associated with bathing suit shopping.


March Madness: Taking Children To The Grocery Store

For the parents reading this- lean in.  You need a hug.  Like one of those long, slow, rub-your-back-a-few-times hugs that eventually makes us sway back and forth but then we stop because we’re strangers and that just got weird.

Grocery store shopping with children has the potential to be… well.. frankly, a catastrophe.  The kind of experience where you made a list (but why?) and people are staring at your kids (go away) and you hope your children can extract all of the appropriate vitamins and nutrition from the eight Chips Ahoy bags they tossed into the cart (ugh).

Some people can take their kids to the store and somehow create this entire Family Field Trip. They manage to promote language and literacy development, further social skills, and develop mathematical understanding, all while staying in the budget and leave energized.  As a former teacher, let me be the first to commend these parents for incorporating such outstanding educational concepts into their errand-running.  (So serious- y’all are amazing)

If we’re being honest though, most of us are team-huddling at the store entrance like, “Gather ’round offspring.  We are about to enter a public place known as a STORE.  If you run away from the cart, I WILL FIND YOU and I will break your spirit with a permanent hand hold.  If you sweep Reese’s eggs into the cart when I’m not looking, Mommy will pay for all of them with your allowance and put them in her Easter basket.  And just to be clear, if I see you licking any produce, I will disown you immediately and call your father.  Ready? Break!”

taking children grocery store

It all started when your kids insisted on riding in the Party Bus Grocery Cart.  You know, the one that’s triple the size of a regular cart and nearly impossible to put on a swivel onto Aisle 4.  Inevitably there are also some sort of novelty race car stripes along the plastic side.  Plus a jankity wheel.  Don’t get me started…

A grocery trip shopping solo would have allowed you to get oriented with your list, the layout, the store’s temperature, the coupons, the sales, and then begin.  That day, your first step into the store was accompanied by your precious little inmates- who, God bless them, could not manage any chill because they caught a glimpse of the 25 cent tattoo machines on the way in.  You were barely in the store thinking, “IT’S NOT GONNA GO DOWN LIKE THIS”, so you promised the three year old he could get the tattoo of a skull wearing sunglasses after check-out to keep the peace.

As you made your way around the store, you mentally catalogued all the ways your children have abused the shopping cart in recent trips.
1.  Standing up in the basket to “surf”
2.  Toddlers trying to do full circle spins in the front seat
3.  Kid standing on the side and literally flipping the cart over while toddler sibling is in the front seat
4.  Sitting on the inside edge of the basket teetering backward toward a concussion
5.  Child “helping” parent push the cart which is definitely code for shoving the cart into shelving units and walls
6.  Kid laying flat along the bottom and paddling along the oh-so-clean floor with their hands

You tried to make the shopping fun.  Like, playing “Hunters and Gatherers” and sending your oldest back and forth to get items from the list.  This was fun until it was not fun.  More specifically- when he gathered someone else’s cell phone from their purse.  Later, it was like “Hey guys!  Look how interesting it is to learn new words on the cereal boxes!”  And those inquisitive early readers yelled, “MOM DOES THAT SAY CORN POOPS” and that’s when Fun Shopping abruptly and permanently died.

There’s no way to predict which products or food items will make kids beg and plead.  This is March Madness, you guys.  Expect the unexpected.  Your toddler tantrummed over a bag of edamame.  And you might’ve even bought it if she ACTUALLY liked it.  But no, we’ve entered the Twilight Zone where hungry, tired children start campaigning for products based solely on the packaging colors, and she only wanted it because it’s green.  If you bought edamame for the crying toddler, this is what dinnertime would end up like: “I would not like them here or there/ I would not like them anywhere/ I do not like green edamame/ I do not like them (unless we’re in the grocery store and you won’t buy me nothin else in which case toddler logic says there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth over that green bag of soybeans)”

To many, March Madness is filling out a basketball bracket.  To a parent in a grocery store, March Madness is a child with no Act-Right, filling out a bracket to see which forbidden products can secretly gain entry to the cart…
grocery store bracket

The real fun started at the check-out.  At that point, Mom discovered piles of contraband that would’ve tripled the grocery bill and immediately guaranteed Type 2 Diabetes.  Your feral crew of lovelies traded whining for begging once they spotted the ride-on machine at the exit.  One child was trying to scan the items for the cashier.  Another wanted his skull tattoo.  You forgot to grab juice but there was no freakin way you were leaving that check out lane.

A simple smile and shrug was exchanged with the parent in the check-out lane next to you, because they’ve been there and know you’re an amazing parent with really great kids.  They remember how crazy March Madness can get, along with all the other grocery-shopping months- May Mayhem, Just-Eat-Out July, Self-Destruct September, to name a few.  As that parent passed by you on her way out, she handed you the brochure for Curbside Pick-Up and gave a friendly wink as if to say, “Hang in there..you got this.”

Family Road Trips: The Best Of Times, But Also The Worst Of Times

Family road trips, you guys.
Why are they so amazing?  Why are they so traumatizing?  How did we all fit into one woodchuck station wagon?  Will there ever be a day we all agree on the same playlist?  (Or mix tape, depending on the era of your road trip memory..)

family road trip

I’m gonna go out on a limb and assume you have, at minimum, one vivid memory associated with a family road trip.  Or perhaps like me, your memories are divided between the distant past of growing up and the current reality of road tripping with your own children.

Layers of factors that predict the success (or the complete breakdown) of a family road tripping together:
The Level Of Crazy In Your Family:  Families have an infinite combination of dynamics, as you well know, and when you put them all into the same car for seven+ hours, people gon’ get scrappy.  How many are in your family?  Are they feisty?  Are they in your personal space?  Are they little? Is your dad trying to eat his reheated Chinese food in the car as y’all pull out of the driveway?  Does Grandma have Coco the Poodle on her lap?  Y’ALL KNOW COCO GETS CARSICK.

Road Trip Route & Destination:  This is the difference between playing the Alphabet Game on billboards and signs or having to resort to counting hog farms, the difference between the scenic view of Big Sur or the repetitive passing of corn fields and power lines.  Your route, full of winding curves, could cause the little one to get carsick.  On the other hand, your journey could also result in the most stunning iPhone photos, tangible reminders of time spent with family in a larger-than-life location.

Vehicle Of Choice: The best road trip stories seem to involve an Oldsmobile, a station wagon that lets you sit backward, or the tried-and-true minivan.  If you were cruising down I-40 sprawled out in your Suburban with an Airstream hitched onto the back for your bathroom breaks, then good for you.  Others of us were buckled into a Ford Windstar peeing into coffee tins because leaving the Interstate by 0.6 miles “took too long”. So, there’s that.

I couldn’t help but ask friends to chime in on their most memorable family road trips.  While each story was its own masterpiece, I was surprised to notice a few themes and take-aways:
1.  Naps took priority over seat belts.
Some of y’all got LAID OUT in your minivan to get beauty rest.  Like, laid flat on the floorboards in a sleeping bag because the seat belt was too confining.  Others strategically positioned a “trash bag of clothes” on the floorboard as a make-shift bed.  Maybe you called dibs on the bench seat which meant your sibling was banished to sleep on the floor of your Plymouth Sundance.    Perhaps you never, ever removed your seat belt but slept sitting up in the seat, with your head rolling all around because you couldn’t get your neck to lock up.  Shout out to all my people who napped with their mouths wide open and woke up with their photo on the Internet, thanks to the exploitation of a family member.

road trip

creative sleeping quarters

2.  Things got interesting when it was time for a bathroom break.
Nothing like pulling off into one of those gas stations where you gotta get the key from inside and hearing Dad yell, “DRAIN EM IF YOU GOT EM”.  You’re like “ohhhh awesome, so this is how it ends. Lemme drop a pin on this location and text it out so everyone knows I died from tetanus at the Citgo.”  Maybe you lived luxuriously and got to stop for a two hour bathroom break at Cracker Barrel that included country fried steak, a quick game of Checkers, and winning that triangle with the golf tees.  Some families don’t mind long breaks out of the car.  Some families require long breaks out of the car, especially when you’re driving with a four year old and a two year old, whose collective pee-pee-potty times are 20 minutes, plus getting them food, plus nursing the baby, which rounds us up to an extra hour and a half per stop.  On the other hand, some families barely skid into the rest stop parking lot and set up the kid potty for their five year old to poop at the “pet area”. *Fingers crossed* she’s an efficient little five year old.

3.  The driver’s plight: staying awake and keeping everyone alive.
God bless the driver who must push through lunch coma and pay attention to road signs and stay 10-and-2 through extreme weather conditions.  Hail?  DRIVE.  3am?  DRIVE.  Vomit in the backseat?  For the love, pull over this exact second.  Ain’t nobody need to see those Arby’s onion rings more than once.

Sometimes the driver gets a bad rap, but they do what they gotta do. If Dad spit out the window and it happened to reenter the car through the back window, then maybe we should at least pause and appreciate that Dad’s spit tasted like Dr. Pepper.  If Mom grinded the tires on the rumble strips across five states just to stay awake, so be it, hush that fuss.  Staying awake as a tired driver is the worrrrrrrrst.  Dad would know.. he’s the one slapping his face out the window to wake up.  Or that time my friend’s dad was so exhausted, he thought he was in the wrong gear, so he threw it from Drive to Neutral at 75mph.  That’ll wake everyone up…
road trip

4.  Parents got creative maintaining order in the back seat.
We’re all familiar with the empty threats that parents call out about turning the car around and threatening to “come back there”.  You could tell Mom was preemptively strategizing how to keep the peace when she gave all the siblings “Seat Buddies” like this is a bus field trip to the planetarium, instead of a nine hour drive to Yellowstone.  When sibling chaos erupted from the backseat, some parents would Go-Go-Gadget their arm around back and start swatting until the fussing stopped.  Other parents went straight to an armory of weapons… The wooden yardstick that was effective for reaching any delinquents on the back bench.  My friend Brendan told me his mom kept a water gun in the front seat to break up fights.  “That worked until we brought our own water guns.. that was the day we learned to not squirt dad when he’s driving.”

5.  On a related note, many family road trip shenanigans stories tend to end with: “My parents were not amused”.
When you get bored in the car, anything can happen.  Which means, more than likely, parents are not happy to see how you’ve chosen to entertain yourself.  Including, but not limited to:
-That time you and your brother made water bubbles using Big League Chew + water and popped them over and over again, all down the front of you..
-That time the left blinker went out on the car so you hung out the window with a light saber to signal a lane change…
-That time your brothers kept farting in their fists and throwing it in your face…
-That time your sister made a sign that said “HELP” and held it up against the car window..
-That time you snuck a bucket into the car after a day at the beach, full of water and a sand crab, which eventually became a dead crab…
-That time you and your sibling had a contest to see who could pull a tooth faster…
-That time your brother pulled your hair from the back seat, so you promptly pulled his elbow right out of joint… road trip to Myrtle Beach became road trip to the hospital
-That time your family finally made it to Mount Rushmore but your sibling insisted on staying in the van to watch Shania Twain videos…
All of the above, I repeat: PARENTS NOT AMUSED.

Family road trips are ultimately about memories made and time spent together, which is easily the cheesiest platitude I’ve ever typed.  But really.  There’s something fascinating about a person who can look back four decades and remember the road trip snacks they ate at a rest stop at four years old.  And someone who can look back on the van breaking down in Colorado, when Dad slept on the cabin floor outside the bathroom, and say “That was by far the best two week vacation we took as a family”.

Travel with family requires bravery and flexibility and, like, a million snacks.  But it shapes the stories that will be told around the Thanksgiving table years from now.  Stories of utter chaos in the most scenic places.  Laughs, tears, games, photos, mischief.  The most unpredictable road trips are the ones taken with family, full of memories that now start with “Remember when..”.  The ordinary times, the worst of times, the best of times- all in the name of family bonding.

How Fatal Is His Man-Cold?

It’s a wonder that modern medicine has not yet found a cure for the debilitating illness, the “Common Cold” that plagues men.  Never in my life have I seen so much distraught whining from a grown man than when he gets the sniffles.  He can handle getting hit by a 6’6″, 325lb lineman on the football field or shoulder the stress of an entire company, but give him a sore throat and congestion and he’s crawling down the hallway wearing your bedroom slippers looking for the Neti Pot.

man cold meme

{photo: Katie Murray}

Woman: “What’s wrong?”
Woman: “Pretty sure you coughed like twice this morning and your head feels fine.  I think you’ll be ok.”
Woman: “Mkay, actually, you just have a little congestion.”
Woman: “Do I have your blessing to fall in love again when you die?”

Rather than having the above conversation, I suggest you take this 6 question quiz “How Fatal Is His Man-Cold?”.  I made sure while creating it that it was entirely research-based, unbiased, and full of immense compassion for the plight of men with a scratchy throat.  (Author’s Note: After taking this quiz, scroll to the very bottom of this post because 1) BREAKING NEWS about his possible fate, and 2) life’s too short to be wasted on free-website-end-of-quiz spam.  Trust me, we’re friends.  Quiz. Scroll. Read. Done.)

As he battles his man-cold and you battle his delusion and drama, keep in mind that he sincerely believes he might actually die.  He just doesn’t realize you might be the one to take him out before the Man-Cold does.
How Fatal Is His Man-Cold-

Questions Asked By Southerners When It Snows

When it snows most places in America, people calmly put on their down feather jackets, lace up their Sorel boots, and head out the door to work with coffee in hand.  Life goes on.  It just happens to go on colder and whiter.

And then there’s the South.

The moment there’s a snowflake anywhere in the ten day forecast, everyone gets really intense and involved with their local weather app.  People sprint through grocery stores buying all the food from all the aisles.  The hype gets built up and starts trending online.  Everything gets shut down before the weather even gets bad.  And then you end up with a day off from school when it turns out to be a chilly rain.  Or, you get the rare snowfall that paralyzes everyone and causes pandemonium, as seen here:


{photo credit: Lindsay Webb}

So here I write this from my couch on a Snow Day.  This is a list of the outrageous questions that Southerners ask when it snows, because we just don’t know any better and because bless our hearts.

    1.  How can I obtain the meteorologist’s personal cell number?
    2. When will they cancel school?
    3. When will they cancel work?
    4. When will they shut down the city so I can re-watch every episode of This Is Us and feel my feelings?
    5. Babe, can you look in all of the closets until you find the box with my snow clothes?
    6. What are the driving rules in inclement weather?
    7. More specifically, how does driving work?
    8. Do we have enough food to feed us all for the month of January?
    9. Will my children like experiencing frostbite?
      (Based on her facial expression, SURVEY SAYS NO)
    10. Does snow cream count toward the Raw Food Diet?
    11. What hashtag are we all using for our snow Instas, you guys?
    12. When the meteorologist said 6-8″ yesterday, does that mean 6-8″ of lies or………………?
    13. Wouldn’t it save time to just announce “ALL FIRST BAPTIST CHURCHES IN THE CAROLINAS ARE CLOSED” instead of scrolling every individual FBC closing across the screen?
    14. Will I look like a loser if I’m pouring kitty litter to gain tire traction?
    15. What are the food essentials I need to buy at the store?  (strawberry toaster strudels…Swedish fish…party size bags of Chex Mix…)
    16. If my kids are driving me crazy, am I allowed to lock them out the next time they go play outside?
    17. Why is snow SO FREAKING COLD.
    18. How homeless should I look on this particular snow day?
    19. Does that weatherman know he is not helping my trust issues with men?
    20. *opens pantry during power outage* What meal can I fix my family using leftover Christmas candy, lemonade powder, and crunchy peanut butter?
    21. What would Olaf do?
    22. Is there anything worse than sleet?
    23. How much food is too much food to eat in one day?
    24. Are there babies in little tiny snow bunting outfits in heaven?  (I have to assume yes)
    25. If we lose power and my phone dies, will I die too?  (I have to assume yes)
    26. How many filters do I need to put on a picture so it looks like I showered recently?
    27. Was the entire purpose of this snow day that I should rearrange our living room furniture six different times?
    28. Is today the day I find out if my Schnauzer could have made it racing in the Iditarod?
    29. How is the weather forecast taking us from Arctic tundra to spring fever in five days?  Explain yourself, EL NINO.

This is only a small sampling of the questions that Southerners ask on any given snow day and should not be considered a comprehensive list.  There are at least a hundred more.  Tell me- what did I miss?