A Veeeeery Peeenteresting Weeeeek

It's been kind of a big week around here and I have a bunch of posts I meant to write but, you know, life gets in the way of living sometimes and before I know it, it's Saturday at 3:28 pm and all I've managed to do is drop my kids off at their dad's for the night, fuck the shit out of some lemon cookies I found on Pinterest, and blow dry my cute new hair. 

Date night with my main man

Except that I did also get my son to wash his armpits and his ballsack today, so I suppose I should list that in my accomplishments for the day. I've never actually told either child, specifically, to wash their armpits and ballsacks before, and now I'm kind of worried that maybe neither of them *ever* have. I just really assumed that if you had a ballsack, it was something you'd just kind of automatically tend to, lest it find the chance to wind up in someone else's mouth. 

Which can happen, you know. 

It's important for me to keep an open mind about the issues of the day, and have friends who see this from various perspectives, because sometimes I act like a complete and total hypocrital leftwing whackjob douchebag on twitter and only my libertarian tea party throwin' incredibly disillusioned smart friends are going to call me out on it. 

I imagine Donald Trump must feel exactly this same way about Stephen Colbert. 

You just never know when opportunity will strike. WASH YOUR BALLSACKS, YOUNG MEN. Please don't make your parent ask you too. It will kill her/him inside. 

And I really do think it's kind of important that we start saying very loudly that the norm doesn't have to be "mother", necessarily, and it doesn't have to be "father" either. Why? Read this post by my fellow mom dad parent blogger Vikki of Up Popped A Fox. Read it, and think about every kid in in this country right now who's got a big ol' political campaign aimed at one of their parent's heads. Raising these kids to be adjusted, happy, secure, confident, and successful is the most important thing we can do. The rest is details

Speaking of, we went to Tucson for my son's state qualifier in marching band last week, and while they didn't qualify for state, they did increase their rankings an entire level -which is kind of remarkable in just a few short months playing heavy brass instruments in polyester Luigi suits for hours on end under the blazing Arizona sun together. 

And if you want to read exactly my thoughts on why I think it's totally fine that those kids walked away from a ball-busting season completed empty-handed aside from some massive self-improvement in the face of BRASS and DESERT SUN and POLYESTER, go read Jim's post on Busy Dad Blog about not winning. He said it a thousand times better than I ever could have. 

After the tournament, we went to visit Josh's cousin Chelsea and her wife Molly. Last time we saw them, 3of3 was still a speed bump on my torso, and they didn't have any children of their own yet. Now they have two completely ridiculously adorable children who I totally did not snap one picture of because apparently I forgot I was a blogger. What was interesting to me is that, while my sons of course know that Chelsea and Molly are both chicks, my daughter hasn't ever met them, and we certainly don't make a point of disclaimering everyone we speak of (they're both X gender, they have Y color skin, etc - doesn't fly in my house. People are PEOPLE, not things to be categorized) so I didn't know what she'd think when she saw, with her own two eyes, a family with two mommies

And you know what she thought? Nothing. Didn't even phase her. It never registered as odd or out of place, it was never even something she mentioned, because she saw exactly what she sees every day: a bunch of kids with parents who love them, and give them coconut popsicles if you ask enough times. She wasn't even phased or the slightest bit confused when we all laughed about the last time we'd seen each other, when four year old 2of3 got into a heated argument with the entire family at a wedding, because it was UNCLE CHELSEA, EVERYONE, NOT AUNTIE SHUT UP. 

 

Children can change the way wee see everything, if we just shut up and follow their lead occasionally. 

I didn't vote last election. I was in Canada, it was a huge hassle, whatever whatever yada bullshit excuse, I was in Canada. This year, I look at my son who will be old enough to be drafted/fight and die in a war/vote come the next election and I think crap, I have to show him this is the only thing that matters in his whole entire life on November 6th. I have to show him that this is Priority Numero Uno, especially in Maricopa County where they have purposely whoopsie! tried to trick non-English speaking people into not voting, twice. So I registered to vote in a state that I don't want to be tied to because all I want to do is get out of here at my first earliest convenience and I have attachment issues like that, but I did it.

I registered to vote. Because it's the right thing for my kids.

I live here. Because for today, it's the right thing for my kids.

It's also very good for my taste buds. 

I'm getting really good at this cookie thing in Arizona, and I'm finding that the more I get into baking cookies, the more I get into Pinterest. I kind of hate myself for this: I find steampunk endlessly annoying and I don't care what color my staples are. Pinterest is not my thing. 

Except when it kind of is.

I don't google search recipes anymore - I Pinterest search. I don't twitter crowdsource Halloween crafts for my kids anymore - I Pinterest-source. 9/10 of the shit on Pinterest makes me worry, a lot, about the state of The American Public, but that remaining 1/10 is absolute, glorious, lemony good.

And royalty-free porn.

And I wonder why no one follows me on Pinterest.

So I kind of hate Pinterest, and I kind of hate honey, but I do like a clever contest and I really, really like taking trips, so I thought I'd mention this honey board contest I found while I was looking up porn lemon bread recipes on Pinterest the other day. They're giving like $4,500 in travel away or something. I didn't look too closely. Honey. *shudder*

Sadly, my main traveling days are over. I do get to travel a little bit with my new job at BlogHer (it's not really new, I still just can't believe I get to do THIS job for THIS company), but not nearly as much as I did in 2011. Last year I was on the road every single month of the year - tripping the fuck out over double rainbows in Oregon, singing all the words to New Edition songs in Maryland, and standing in front of the Walmart crying my American eyes out from toilet-shock in Harbin, China. Jim posted to day about our year on the road, and over course the whole post is bass fishing, donuts, and Cadillacs. Men, can't travel with'm, can't get them to apologize for making you film them eating bugs. I guess we can call him giving away a night at any Radission his atonement. 

I didn't actually find a suitable lemon bread recipe on Pinterest the other day, but I did find a lemon cookie recipe that I screwed six ways to Sunday today (though they look *magnificent*, and that, friends, is the magic of Pinterest) and I got a pumpkin bread recipe off Twitter from True Insolence that could end war n' stuff better than singin' loud (just dated myself right there, didn't I?). If you want it, drop her an @true_insolence tweet. 

And I'm trying to figure out what, if anything, to cook baby daddy on Halloween for his 40th birthday, and really, go ahead and ask me how weird it is that the angsty, writerly, built like a freight-train swimmer boy I saw across the room at Bennigan's just last week is turning FOUR OH next week. 

Weirdness abounds. Especially since I don't know if I am supposed to acknowledge it or not. Kids and divorce should both come with rules, especially when they cross streams. 

More notable than that is the fact that yesterday was my vagina's second birthday. ::confetti::

Two short years ago, some jerk stole my uterus and replaced it with a bendy straw he tried to pass off as a vagina. He said to me at my six week checkup, "this is the kid of surgery that either gets me a cigar and a bottle of scotch, or a broken nose." He was seriously the best OB ever.

The worst thing to come of this is that I am 37 and I want a baby so bad I can fucking taste it and I want to name it Floyd thanks SueBob and mine are all too big to cuddle and I can't have one anymore. The best thing to come of this is probably that, but also that my vagina now has both its own PR Director and Social Media Manager

@bblymwndtnnl on Twitter

See, what I know that companies like @KitchenAidUSA and @StubHub clearly don't is that you have to have extraordinary people, ones who are invested in both the message and the mechanism, holding the keys to your social media campaigns. Social media eats mediocrity for lunch. If you're going to properly brand something, you've got to have a team behind you that is in, 100%. 

Also, a team that will not post the pictures of your post-surgery sutures that you sent them via text message in a morphine-induced haze onto your pinterest free porn board, no matter how tempting it may be.

Excellence through discretion. That's Team Bubble Yum Wind Tunnel

Also, authenticity. 100% of bloggers surveyed agreed. 

PR, Social Media, and Testimonials. I think I'm going to sign my vagina up to host a Geek Bar at BlogHer '13. #doingitright

Aside: Tweets For Twats™, *the* social media management firm for vaginas, is accepting new clients. DM @bblymwndtnnl for rates and government regulations.

Standards are for People Without Blogs

The problem with anyone being able to film anything is than anyone will film anything, and everyone will watch anything, and the next thing you know we're all singing Gangham Style because we have been freaking assimilated

YouTube is banned in my house, mostly because of the racists, cat videos, and Johnny Knoxville. I don't want my kids accidentally watching 8-bit dudes snort lines of coke and and I don't want them getting any funny ideas like auditioning for Tosh.0 behind my back, so I just banned it. If you can't beat them, use your 17 years of training in the radical far right Christian patriarchy to completely eliminate them from your scope of consciousness. 

The problem with this line of thinking is, of course, that even if your kid doesn't own a camera or watch YouTube, someone else's kid does. And if you give a kid a dream and a camera? They're going to use it. 

I actually do encourage my kids to film and make movies (my dad and I had a small videography business once upon a time) but when they were little enough to care about something other than boobies, phones didn't have cameras. Cameras were hard to come by, expensive, and cherished. They were only put in the hands of my young children with the intent. My kids had to plan out their movies, gather props, storyboard plots, and then borrow my video camera. Which meant I always knew what was happening. Which meant my kid was never going to end up on Tosh.0. WHICH IS FINE WITH ME. 

Even more than encouraging my kids to make movies, I force encourage them to unplug, go outside, and play. This is honestly more for my mental health than their body fat percentages. Cooped-up kids who spend all day blowing out zombie brains eventually just beat each other to pulps, and then I have to yell, and then everyone cries, and it's just easier if they go outside to ride bikes and burn ants and blow up legos like normal kids.

This is precisely why my kids don't have smartphones yet, but they have decent BMX bikes. 

But if you give a kid a BMX bike, you know what they're going to do? Yep. USE IT. By any means necessary, even if that means is a big pile of dirt right in front of the main street through your neighborhood.

(The following video is short (4 seconds), but will give you The Buttchills. Proceed with caution.)

(I only show this because he's okay.)

You know how your kid moans at you that he's dy-i-i-ing and you know in his voice that he really just has a biology quiz before you even lay an eye on him? Turns out, we have this superpower in reserve. When your kid walks in the door and says "mom?" you, from an entirely different room of the house, can hear "Mom? I did something really, really not okay to the body you slaved nine months of your life away lovingly creating, and once the shock wears off, it's going to hurt like shit".

All he had to say was Mom. I almost threw up in my mouth.

I'm no stranger to injuries. I had to carry my baby sister in one hand and the better part of her kneecap in the other through Veteran's Stadium when I was 12 years old. I've been cleaning up people's blood and puke since I was old enough to fill the mop bucket. I have two sons who have a long-documented history of getting truly ridiculous injuries like broken eyesockets and cracked skulls. My daughter has even thrown in a concussion or two, just to stay competitive. But in all my years of burnt, bloodied, and beaten bodies, I have never once had to deal with a castable break.

Checked that shit right off the ol' life list this week, let me tell you what. 

When I asked him to stay little forever, I didn't actually mean "Please, fracture your wrist, twice, right in the growth plates, so maybe you'll always have a wittle arm for your momma to wuv." But that's what I got. NAME YOUR TERMS CAREFULLY, MOMS AND DADS.  

At first I was PISSED that his friend was being an idiot filming him being an idiot, but then I realized that getting two terrified 12 year olds to tell you WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED TO MY BABY OH MY GOD is a lot like talking to a toilet on crack cocaine, and then I realized that I didn't need them to tell me, oh hai! I could see for myself through the wonder of mobile technology. I knew it was fractured when we watched that video and hear his little bones go thwap against the asphalt. 

Not five minutes later, my son asked me what I had done, because his texts were ringing off the hook. (Shut up, I don't know what you call it when a bunch of texts come in. I'm ancient.) I told him I didn't do anything (except forward it to him, duh, because seriously, YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS SHIT.) We looked at my son's friend and he just kind of shrugged his shoulders and said, um, well, maybe I sent it to some people? 

And just like that, my son went viral in the middle of Hades, Arizona. 

And like any good viral video, *someone* turned it into a Demotivators poster. 

Which I can't stop freaking laughing about, because he's okay.

Only because he's okay.

He is okay. He has a cast for a month, which is pink because it's breast cancer awareness month and man, he loves boobies and is pretty sure getting a broken arm over fall break and a pink cast will get him loads of access to some *shudder*. He can hardly play Xbox, can't ride bikes at all, and can't even play catch with his friends anymore, which sucks for him. He also can't do laundry or take out the trash or tie his own shoes or practice the violin, which doesn't really suck for him at all. Force - Balance.

He still can't surf YouTube, though, even if he's totally on there now. Hypocrisy, thy name is Mommy Blogger. 

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Boy

This post was spotlighted on Huffington Post Parents. *blush*

Yesterday I was not a freshman in high school.  However, it was only a few mere weeks ago when I was a senior in high school, attending my first ever school dance. 

As the photographer. 

And I wasn't even very good at it. 

But I just can't even grasp the notion that a human begin who I grew inside of my body and bore unto this earth and fed and clothed and changed and loved for like no time at all has been on earth long enough to also have attended homecoming. I was just that girl up there. In too many ways, I still am.

How is this happening?

School dances weren't even on our radar of possibility growing up. I don't ever remember missing one, it was that far-off a notion that I'd ever go to one. Being raised by crazy cultists is a blast

So I went to my first dance when I was a senior. I don't remember much of the dance, but I do remember afterwards, I drove to Majestic View Park with my best friends, our ears ringing of Nirvana and Sir Mix Alot as we counted stars and talked about Walt Whitman and Robert Smith and had one of the very best nights of my entire adolescence. I felt a thousand feet tall and bullet proof that night. My life felt as limitless as the stars we laid under, as certain and true as the friends by my side. 

So when it came time for my *gulp* son to go to his *gulp* first dance, I kind of forced the issue. He didn't want to - he's a freshman, he's new here, he doesn't have a girlfriend - so I asked his dad to go buy him a ticket and I more or less told him he was going, for his own good. He begrudgingly obliged, which is really the only way you can do anything at 14, I suppose. 

I dropped him off at the school that night, fashionably L8 o'clock, and as we pulled up to the school my little man looked at me and said, "Mom, I don't know if I'm excited or nervous." What I didn't tell him was that I didn't know which one I was, either. 

Driving away from that parking lot was one of the hardest things I've ever done. 

Four hours later he  not kidding - lept into the car AND TALKED VERY LOUD AND VERY FAST FOR A VERY LONG TIME ABOUT ALL OF THE MOSH PITS AND THE COLOR GUARD AND HIS FRIENDS AND IT WAS SO AMAZING MOM THANK YOU FOR MAKING ME GO IT WAS OH MY GOD MOM I CAN'T BELIEVE OH MY GOD IT WAS SO FUN. 

He smiled.

He's not really a smiler, in case you hadn't noticed over the past seven years.

But man was he ever smiling on Saturday night. I saw that twinkle in his eye that I saw in all my friends' eyes on the night of my first dance, the same one I felt in mine, like he's starting to realize that there is something much more amazing out there in the world than he could have ever imagined, and he simply has to go find out what the hell it is. 

The Neverending Post

Sept 10th: I was supposed to hang out with my old friend Katie a few weeks ago, which is was to be stupendous because: 

A) I haven't seen Katie since last we sat in a rooftop hot tub and she told me the 15 reasons why she was no where close to having children. That plan worked out well for her. 

B) Baby Daddy takes the kids every Saturday, but I haven't had one person to hang out with since I moved here, which leaves me little choice but to spend my Saturdays scrubbing tile and watching Sandra Bullock romcoms on Netflix.

C) ZOMGBABY

So we were all set to spend the day together on a Saturday and of course I met up with the business end of this flu that had been courting all of us for the previous month or so. I don't remember much of that weekend, because I spent most of it wrapped up in a Snuggie which Vicks sent me while pouring sweat from my calves, having really horrible nightmares, and eating all the egg drop soup I could get my germ-ridden hands on. 

I think that's where this tweet came from. 

Not that I remember tweeting it, but it's there in my stream. That whole weekend is feeling a lot like the weeks right after my surgery, when I slowly began to realize that I had a number of out-bound text messages on my phone, to close friends both male and female, containing pictures of my sutures. Which, you know, were in/on/around my lady bits.

If you google perineum, make sure your image search is off. You're welcome. 

I also don't remember any of that. I can only conclude that there is a strain of the morphine-flu going around, and I caught it.

Sept 15th: The irony here is that I was still sick when I drafted the first half of this post, and I cannotforthelifeofme remember where I was going with it. I think I wanted to do a daily gratitude list or something? See? I had to be on flu/drugs. Daily posts. Me. HA. 

But now I am sick again (iknowright?) and I can't stop sneezing, and I do mean CANNOT STOP. I have sneezed more times this morning than I have in my whole life combined thusfar ever. I let my 12 year old watch me flush out my left sinuses with a dixie cup full of tepid water this morning, and now he may never look me in the eye, or nostril, again. 

I'm pretty sure his gratitude list today will be helium, video games, and anything else that kills brain cells, particularly in the prefrontal lobe area.  

My gratitude list for today would be Puffs Plus with Vicks, and pantyliners. 

Oct 5th: I pretty much gave up on that post here and now I've got like four other posts in draft which will also probably never see the light of day. See? It's not that I don't blog, Momo, it's that I don't publish. BIG DIFF. 

But then last night my daughter went from seven-going-on-14 to 102° in like five seconds flat and right now I am sitting here watching my daughter sleep off this same crud that cause all of that nonsense up there while I'm working right here next to her, where I can get her anything she needs whenever she needs it, and I am really just so totally grateful to have this amazing privilege to have both a career and the ability to be here for my kids when they need me, even when those two things have to happen at the exact same time. 

Working from home exclusively is hard. No, it's soul-crushing. I think that's a fair statement. It's hard to miss out on Thursday Shoe Shots and Friday Happy Hours. It sucks when you realize that you haven't spoken to the actual face of another adult in more than five days. Most of the time I hate everything about it, but then this happens

this happens and I am reminded of why I am doing all of this - the blog, the job, everything - and how amazingly lucky I am to be afforded the gift of time for all of it. 

My gratitude list for today is BlogHer, high-speed internet, Children's Advil, and showers right before the kids come home so they don't think I've just been sleeping all day. 

What's yours?

A Canadian, a former math teacher, a Chinese Harvard grad, and a blond girl walk into a book club...

The first book I ever read alone, front to cover, was the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I was four. I am not kidding.

Around age seven (my daughter's age as of yesterday, GO SAY HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY BABY) I discovered Erma Bombeck, and life became good. Gooder. The goodest.

When I was in junior high school, I was the official school reader. I read *every* new book that came into the library, and then wrote one 3X5 index card review on the book. The librarian kept those on file - sorted by genre, by me - for popular kids with a life who wanted a book but needed crutches suggestions. I got beat up a lot. 

All of that reading and getting beat up made me a very angsty young person indeed, who over time discovered the likes of Louis Carroll, Douglas Coupland, Chuck Palanuik, and John Irving. And I haven't really needed anything since. 

I tell you all of that to show you my in-case-of-fire book pile. 

There are a few books missing from that pile (my Alice is Wonderland books, to name more-than-one-but-less-than-734) but that is the actual 'separate-17-years-of-marital-pulp-assets' pile, photo taken while he was smoking so he wouldn't yell at me for taking pictures of fucking EVERYTHING, JESUS SHANNON.

(Audre Lorde said everything can be used except what is wasteful,  and she wasn't kidding.)

So I got stuck in a 20-year long book rut. I re-read the exact same books over and over and over again. I always thought it was bizarre that my mother could read you the entire introduction to the Hitchhiker's Guide without needing to be in the same room as the book, and now? Yeah. Ask me any line of any poem in UndersongWe all become our parents. 

It's really hard to get me to read something new. You pretty much have to sell me on really whacked storyline or whackeder presentation, or be the Cactus-Fish family. My books are some of the best friends I have, and I just this second realized that I'm not all that different than I was at 13. Wider, to be certain, but not too different. 

For me, it isn't even always so much the story as it is the book, which is why I always said you'd have to pay me to use an e-reader. You can't smell an e-reader and if you can, you're reading the wrong kinds of things on it, perv. You can't scribble notes in an e-reader that you hope your friends/kids will read one day, if your highlighter lasts that long. 

Except you can scribble notes in an e-reader that you hope your friends/kids will read one day. Except someone did offer to pay me to use an e-reader. And that leads me to the whole bunch of brand new books I'm reading on The Copia's social e-reader over the next few months with a few of my best friends - Doug, Jim, and Tanis. Because they're way more fun to drink with than Maslow's Principals of Abnormal Psychology, that's why. 

We have this little social group book club thing (see children? reading gets you into clubs with ridiculously hot, smart people, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise) and we've each chosen one book that all four of us have to read in a month's time. We have wildly varied tastes in books, to say the very least. This is going to be so much fun. 

We'll be reading together and leaving each other notes in the margins through the Copia app for iPad, Android, and desktop. Will I love it? Time will tell. Jim says it's like live-tweeting a book! but I hope it's more like having actual conversations with actual people. Which are probably the same thing now, huh? Get off my dewey decimal system. 

You can totally follow along with us. There's the main group of Copia Parents, but we have a sub-group called, of course, "Tanis, Doug, Jim, and Shannon Do Books," because I made the group and I am a 12 year old boy. You probably need a Copia account to join our group and follow along, but that's cool because A) accounts are free and B) each of us are giving away 10 books to our readers to help get you started. You could chose your own book, or you could chose the books we're reading and read with us.  

We're staring our book club with Doug's pick, Telegraph Avenue, because he said we were and we do what he says. I'm thinking about choosing Bastard Out of Carolina, because Lesbian Dad says I have to read it and she has impeccable taste in literature and wingtips. I also kind of want to read Brains, A Zombie Memoir, recommended by my boss' partner, but I also-also want to read Orphans of the Living, recommended to me by Ilina Das Ewan, who is wiser than she is beautiful, which is equally awesome and terrifying. 

This is why you never ask the Pisces to go first. 

What I want to know is what you'd like to read. Leave a comment telling me the book you can't stop reading, and then the title of a book you'd like to read that you never have before, and next week I'll randomly choose 10 winners of those books. My (rapidly growing) Copia library is right here, if you want to cherry-pick book ideas or mock me for being so incredibly lame.