The Parent Mealympics

I almost died today. I wasn’t playing in traffic or fending off killers or running with scissors. I was eating. And not anything like that weird Japanese fish that can kill you if you don’t say the right voodoo chant before digging in. Just plain old regular McDonalds food (okay, okay, it WAS McDonalds but I do NOT want to hear your “Well, that can kill you, too” fiction because mama’s not listening). I was just having some lunch (at 10:45am. Gosh. This is getting embarrassing.) and almost ended my time on this earth.

Recently, the five of us were at Chipotle when Mr. Black and I realized something. We were halfway through our meals before we realized we hadn’t looked up or taken a breath in a good 25 bites. There we were. The five of us scrunched into one booth, kids doing Lord knows what and mom and dad heads down, elbows up and the food-to-mouth conveyor belt set to super mega overdrive (PS: if Monkey could read, I would have just gotten 856473 mom points for working two Power Ranger series into that one sentence. #coolmom). We just happened to briefly glance up and catch each other’s eye and we came to for a sec. We realized we were racing some subconscious clock, a toddler time bomb. Until this realization, we hadn’t spoken to each other or the kids since we sat down and quite possibly could have even blacked out for a second in a Great White-like feeding frenzy. We weren’t even THAT hungry. No. It wasn’t hunger. It was the Parent Mealympics and we were going for gold.

Us with our burrito bowls.

Us with our burrito bowls.

It was then that I realized that this is a thing. Being restaurant lovers, we used to go out all the time. It wasn’t so much a solution to the “what’s for dinner?” question or the “we’ve both worked all day and no one feels like cooking” dilemma. It was just fun. Eating dinner at a restaurant meant we were sitting at a real table and not in front of Office reruns. It meant we weren’t having chicken. Again. As fun as it once was, it seems the more children you add to the equation, the less fun and more task-like it becomes. Eating in general is a real circus act. My eyes used to get their serious roll on whenever a mom was like, “I just completely forgot to eat today!” I was like, “Lies.” You can only ignore the hunger beast for so long before things get real. And with one child, I never “forgot” to eat. With three children, I’m like, “Did I eat today? I know I ate pancakes on Tuesday. Is today Tuesday? If so, yes. I ate today. If not, well, I don’t even know where to go from there…”

Look at us. We used to smile at restaurants and eat slowly and take pictures of ourselves. *Sigh*

Look at us. We used to smile at restaurants and eat slowly and take pictures of ourselves. *Sigh*

We had instinctively gone into survival mode in that Chipotle. We were determined to find nourishment without regard to such luxuries as “tasting our food” or “chewing” or “enjoying ourselves”. Because, see, in the Parent Mealympics, only the strong get the prize. The rest get screaming children, angry glares, social anxiety and their food “accidentally” tossed to the floor.

So, fast forward to today. Monkey, Bear, Princess Lady and I had just dropped some $$ at the bank (thank you, Jesus, for the new drive through teller!!), picked up some almond milk and stamps at the store and camped out in the McDonalds parking lot for 15 minutes so Monkey could get his “Happy MealS toy” (with an “S”, always with an “S”). After successfully securing food from the lunch menu, we headed home to eat. I don’t know if anyone other than a mom of several really knows the emotional and physical struggle of getting everyone out of the car and into the house. Add a few grocery bags and McDonalds meals and mom’s about to cry. Through the veil of tears, though, I managed to get everyone in. Princess Lady was more than ready for a nap, the boys were doing some kind of weird toddler tribal hunger chant, the dogs were producing their own strange and altogether awful “we need to pee” sounds and my stress-o-meter was reaching critical mass. I knew I had a small and unusually shaped window of time to wedge my postpardum self through before everyone released a collective wail of dissatisfaction. I scrambled to get the dogs out, toss Bear into a high chair, dole out just enough sustenance to stop the whining and sit myself down at the table in such a way as to throw more morsels of food as needed, feed myself and nurse a baby lady. And then I reenacted that day at Chipotle until a large ball of unchewed burger stopped me. I paused just long enough to dectermine whether or not I was having an actual heart attack or just needed to give chewing a shot. I’m still alive so I’m going with the chewing theory.

But, like I said, with all these kids “needing” things and having such “personalities”, who the freak has time to chew?! I’m in a race and I WILL win!

DEAL WITH IT, KIDS!

DEAL WITH IT, KIDS!

I'm sure I'm on page 897 so please vote. Or don't. Whatever.

I’m sure I’m on page 897 so please vote. Or don’t. Whatever.

 

 

 

Don’t Talk About the Baby (Warning: Kind of Triggery)

If you don’t want to read something that creates feelings potentially good and/or bad, you should just hang on for my next post: The Parent Mealympics. This post may not be for you. I have a love/hate relationship with feelings, as in, I simultaneously love and hate that I have so many of them. And today, I’m getting all inside and outside my feelings for this post. Now, that no one can say I didn’t warn them…

A mom friend of mine asked a group of us if we’d be willing to share our stories (ah, buttz. I’m already crying…). See, this mom friend is working on a documentary that highlights pregnancy loss and infertility and the societal silence around them. Her goal is to rip off the veil of silence and shame so that mothers and fathers can feel comfortable sharing their experiences and know they’re not alone. Now, I’m pretty vocal about our losses because being vocal helps me deal with the pain it causes me but I know many women who just don’t feel like they can be open. So, in light of my friends’ efforts and with this being Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month, I share my story for myself but now I also share it for those that feel they cannot.

My husband and I had been married for three years, had just bought our first house and felt like we were ready to try for a baby. Within three or so months, we became pregnant with our first baby, a baby we later named Samuel. We told everyone (my middle name should have been “oversharer”). An older coworker of mine scolded me for sharing so early because “you never know what could happen”. When we went in for the eight week check up, her unsolicited advice seemed validated when we saw our first baby with no heartbeat.

Aw. Look how much less face there used to be! February '09

Aw. Look how much less face there used to be! February ’09

I was devastated that there was this little baby inside of me and I could do nothing to help him and embarrassed that I now had to go back and tell everyone we’d lost him. I was afraid of having to feel sadness years down the road when little things would remind me of our lost little one. But, as far as I knew, I didn’t personally know anyone that had miscarried before and I didn’t feel like there was anyone I could talk to that would be able to empathize. However, like I’ve made abundantly clear over the course of this blog, I’m an oversharer and talked to many people, and through my opening up, I realized there were many others around me that suffered similar pains, too.

It took a long 16 months of trying and failing and crying and healing to become pregnant with our next baby, our sweet Monkey man. Miscarriage had some pretty negative affects on our lives individually, as a couple and inter-personally. It was a hard road and one I never hoped to have to travel again. But, through faith, friends and family, we emerged stronger than ever and with the greatest little gift in our son.

We planted a tree in memory of the baby we named Samuel. The following spring, Monkey and I posed together in front of his brother's tree.

We planted a tree in memory of the baby we named Samuel. The following spring, Monkey and I posed together in front of his brother’s tree.

The following spring, Monkey and I posed together in front of his brother's tree.

The following spring, Monkey and I posed together in front of his brother’s tree.

 

When Monkey was just a little over a year old, I just knew in my heart that we were pregnant again. A week or two later, a test confirmed it. Several weeks after that beautiful positive pregnancy test, I began to bleed and those feelings of fear and sadness of loss hit me like a wave all over again. We went to the hospital knowing there was nothing that could be done but hoping for some good news only to find that we were not only miscarrying again but, this time, we were losing twins.

I never dreamed I’d ever be pregnant with twins. I hoped and prayed and pleaded that I’d never lose another baby. Learning that I had had twins for a moment only to lose them was soul crushing. It’s such a helpless feeling knowing your very heart is being taken from you and there’s nothing you can do. Oftentimes, there was never anything you could have done to prevent it either. I began thinking of my personal statistics. I was 26 and the mother of four children with only one in my arms. Thankfully, my husband and I knew our triggers and that we’d only be able to stand if we held each other up and relied on our friends and family. In many ways, this loss was more devastating than the first but we stood strong together and remained open with the people we loved and that made it more bearable.

We decided to not put any kind of pressure on ourselves by thinking and talking about “the next baby”. We just wanted to take it slow and let our hearts and my body heal. But then, by some “mystery” as my doctor put it, we became pregnant almost immediately with our Bear baby. My doctor couldn’t wrap his head around the time table and neither could we. All we knew was that here he was, our little Bear.

Somewhere in the 2nd trimester with baby Bear.

Somewhere in the 2nd trimester with baby Bear.

When we were pregnant yet again when baby Bear was still very much a baby, I was nervous that we’d lose this one, too. Up to that point, we’d lost every other baby. I thought maybe that was just the pattern we were destined to live with but, thankfully, our Xena-warrior-princess Adair held on and is currently very busy being the cutest thing on this earth.

I still feel sad here and there. I definitely still cry when I think about the children we’ve lost. It doesn’t go away but it does get easier. Especially with a good husband and a few cutie babies to cuddle.

If you’ve lost a child or struggled to conceive, please check out Don’t Talk About the Baby and think about adding your voice. Your loss is not a secret! If a friend or loved one has experienced a loss, consider reaching out to them today and let them know you’re thinking of them.

I'm sure I'm on page 897 so please vote. Or don't. Whatever.

I’m sure I’m on page 897 so please vote. Or don’t. Whatever.

The Direct Sales Monster

Who even am I anymore? I swear I go to bed at night a regular socially awkward mom and awake the next morning in a pile of Jamberry wrap shards, business cards covered in roller tape and dozens of replies to messages I don’t even remember writing. I’m finding myself saying things like, “Let’s start a conversation about you becoming a consultant…” and “Well, that’s what’s so great about our product…” and “Oh, believe me. I was just as nervous about direct sales as you are!” And that’s when it hits me. I am a direct sales monster.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am now a sassy Jamberry consultant. And as I mentioned before that, I am a socially inept mom. I wasn’t totally convinced that the two could coexist but guess what. I’m kind of a natural. Like, kind of in a scary way. When I go back and read some of the things I’ve said to customers, friends and potential recruits, I’m like, “What ghost of Mary Kay’s past just took over my body?! WHO AM I?!”

But, see, it’s like a game. A hunt. To get that next sale, next party booked, next interested potential recruit. I guess that’s just the sales bug but I didn’t think I would ever be one to fall prey to it. Too bad for everyone I have any sort of connection with whatsoever, because that bug is coming for them! I’m just hoping that my friends still want to be my friends or at least will have the kindness to give me a “Let me stop you right there…” before I go too far down the sales road and I start wearing Jamberry purple velour track suits and decal all of my car windows with “Let me be your Jamberry girl!”

I decided, though, that one day when I’m swimming in my Jamberry millions, I’m going to make a movie about a group of women in a direct sales race. It’ll basically be Mean Girls but with middle aged women and sales pitches. Candy’s going to sell Smelly (Scentsy knock off), Sharon’s the Mary Catherine girl (Mary Kay, duh), Rhonda sells Boysenberry (again, duh) and Shelby will be the Folded Paper Finch lady (Origami Owl. I’m particularly proud of that one.).

But, seriously. How can I not yield to the Jamberry beast within? Look at my nails, people!

10636270_10152742657193894_1652366388192131172_n 1390650_338648302971333_4605131057908106542_n 10702208_338974086272088_2156938297751250777_n 10665191_341481272688036_8356415177306675796_n

And here’s a fun treat. Who wants to Facebook party with The Mom in Black Jamberry style?! That’s right! I want to help you get your hands looking as fly as mine and all that requires is a little Facebook party! You host, I do all the work, you get free stuff. I really don’t see a downside. Email themominblack@gmail.com if you’re interested (which I know you are)! And maybe I’ll even let you be in my movie (pending mega successful Jamberry career, script writing and overall actual production of an actual movie. So, not likely, but a girl can dream!).

I'm sure I'm on page 897 so please vote. Or don't. Whatever.

I’m sure I’m on page 897 so please vote. Or don’t. Whatever.

I’m So Pretty (Younique Review!)

It’s about to get real real in here. I’m going to show you something that few have ever seen. And for good reason. Very good reason.

Whammy.

Whammy.

This is me at the beginning of my beauty regimen. Allow me to explain. I shower, get dressed, blow dry my hair, straighten my bangs and the wavy hair around my face and then…then, I tease my hair. STOP LAUGHING. I HAVE A PERMA “BUMP IT”. THIS IS ME. This is real life, y’all. Every single day.

So, now that I have your attention, let’s talk about the greatest mascara invented by humans and coveted by angels.

I have little angry spikes for eyelashes and I only have like, five of them per eye. So, when I was contacted to review Younique’s 3D Fiber Lashes, I was like, “Um, duh.” My angel faced contact not only got it out to me super quick, she also complimented my writing and “lighthearted…snark”. #shehadmeathello

I was so excited about this product that I jumped right in. First of all, it comes in this luxurious case. What am I? Royalty?!

I'm so fancy. You already know.

I’m so fancy. You already know.

In my beauty routine, while my hair sets in skyscraper formation, I begin my makeup. I always start with mascara. It was Younique’s time to shine. The instructions say to apply your regular mascara first. I’m not sure if they realized my regular mascara is what five year old’s get in their “practice makeup” kit from the little girl toy aisle in Walmart. No wonder my eyelashes hate me. Anyway, once your regular mascara is applied and dry, you apply the transplanting gel. The next part is the best. The other tube is the magic black-cotton-candy-looking fibers that do voodoo sorcery to get your eyelashes as elevated as my teased hair. I don’t even understand. But, it is truly amazing. Then, you reapply transplanting gel to lock the cotton candy/fibers in place. Here’s after one eye…

Do you see it?! It's on my left eye! COME ON!!

Do you see it?! It’s on my left eye! COME ON!! Oh, I also brushed out my hair because I couldn’t take my pictures of that nest in good conscience. 

And here’s my genuine shock after applied to both eyes…

I couldn't believe my eyes. #doublemeaning #getit

I couldn’t believe my eyes. #doublemeaning #getit

Then, once my eyes are finished, I go through my laundry list of other beauticious tasks. Foundation, blush, bronzer, brow filler, liquid liner and winged tips on top, white pencil on bottom, blah, blah, blah. It’s like, a looooooot of work to look this mediocre.

Bless you, Younique. Bless you.

Bless you, Younique. Bless you.

In other words, get yo’self some Younique.

I'm sure I'm on page 897 so please vote. Or don't. Whatever.

I’m sure I’m on page 897 so please vote. Or don’t. Whatever.

Word Vomit Wednesday

Because I only have five seconds and I’m covered in vomit. Actual vomit.

1) How do children instinctively know when their mother has plans?

I mean any level of plans. I make a plan to get housework done. They completely destroy every inch of our home. I make plans to take them out in public. They get every last bodily fluid on their clothes, faces and hair. I make plans to go to the bathroom. They storm the gates like the bathroom is their hill to conquer. I make plans to sit down and write. They all lose every single, solitary last fiber of their minds and all domestic hell breaks loose the very second my butt hits the chair.

They know. And their goal is destruction. Every time. Oh. And that last one? Yeah. It’s happening right now but I am 100% just looking the other way.

With kids, ever.

With kids, ever.

2) What’s up with delicious food being the devil’s handiwork?

I just had a baby and my body’s like, “Wtf, lady?!” So, I was looking up foods that boost estrogen. The site I was looking at listed some estrogen-y food and then basically said, “Hey. Everything you love is killing you slowly from the inside out. So, have fun with that.” So, I guess that giant pan of caramel apple cheesecake bars I just made was a bad choice. I feel like the internet (and probably, like, health and science and my body)  just wants me to eat grass and tree bark forever. That totally sucks.

3) Every time a newborn screams in a car, an angel rips off it’s wings.

And then beats me with them. I was just telling friends the other day that, whenever Princess Lady cries in the car (and by “cries” I mean weeps and wails bitterly like I personally killed Bambi and Lassie AND Old Yeller right in front of her), I die on the inside. I want to rip off my skin and release my soul into a black hole forever. It’s the absolute worst. You can’t do anything to help in the moment and you’re sad for them but also, like, reeeeeaaaaalllll sad for yourself. And angels everywhere are ripping their wings off. #thanksbabies #thanksobama

4) I legitimately almost pooped my pants this week.

Like, out of nowhere. It wasn’t even an emergency. It was just a straight up regular poop but, like, one that couldn’t be contained because my children saw fit to ruin every square inch of my body. Once again, #thanksbabies. (Not thanking Obama on that one because, well, that would be weird.)

5) So, I’m selling Jamberry, now.

I mean, I’ve signed up to sell Jamberry. We’ll see about the whole “actually selling it” part. I really need to get my life together. The thought of having to speak to real humans IN PERSON alone is terrifying. Then, I have to ask them buy something from me?! Jesus. Hallelujah.

Help me, Tom Cruise. stephmessa.jamberrynails.net

Help me, Tom Cruise. stephmessa.jamberrynails.net

 

Well, I think I’ve looked the other way as long as I possibly can. We’re right at that threshold where playful wrestling turns into full on riot street beatings. I think that’s my cue to go. Say 75 prayers for me.

I'm sure I'm on page 897 so please vote. Or don't. Whatever.

I’m sure I’m on page 897 so please vote. Or don’t. Whatever.

 

I Am Not All About That Bass

If you have functioning ears, you have no doubt heard Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass”. If you have functioning general human emotions, you can no doubt resist that beat. Or that chorus (if that’s what you want to call it). I’ll admit it. I turn up the volume when that song comes on. I stop scanning through stations when I hear it. Then, I spend the rest of the day singing “I’m bringing booty baaaaaaack” (which is funny because I have zero butt but that’s a story for another time…). It’s catchy. I can’t deny that.

Here’s the thing, though. It’s a terrible song message-wise that thinks it’s a girl power anthem. But, you’re like, “Why, MIB?! She’s encouraging America’s youth to embrace their looks and feel good about themselves!” Wrong. You are wrong. I love you but you are wrong. And I will tell you why you’re wrong in an in-your-face line-by-line fashion.

The song begins with the “chorus” where it repeats “I’m all about that bass, no treble” a billion times. I have nothing to say regarding the “chorus” because I have no idea what it means. Is it just a straight up musical shout out to the bass line? Why is she hating on treble? I don’t know the answer to these questions so moving along…

The first verse:

Yeah, it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two
But I can shake it, shake it
Like I’m supposed to do
‘Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase
And all the right junk in all the right places

First, it’s not really that clear that she’s not a size two. When I first heard the song, I pictured an Adele sized lady but, upon watching the video, she’s not tiny but she’s not huge which makes my issues with the song even more uh, issue-y. Then, she says she can “shake it, shake” like she’s “supposed to do” which, aside from weird sentence structure, is a problem for me because, as women, we are not “supposed” to shake anything. We shake if we want to. Not because we’re “supposed to do”. #illshakeifiwantto

Oh, also, personal preference here but I hate referring to body mass as “junk”. Yuuuuuccckkk.

I see the magazine workin’ that Photoshop
We know that sh:t ain’t real
C’mon now, make it stop
If you got beauty, beauty, just raise ‘em up
‘Cause every inch of you is perfect
From the bottom to the top

I have no problems with this. Carry on.

Take it to the bridge:

Yeah, my mama she told me don’t worry about your size
She says, “Boys like a little more booty to hold at night.”
You know I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll
So if that’s what you’re into then go ahead and move along

No. Nooooooooooo. I actually will tell Princess Lady Baby not to worry about her numerical clothing size. Bodies are different. Some people naturally have hips, some do not. I’ll even tell her not to worry about her numerical weight. People hold and carry weight differently and it’s fine and wonderful and great. What I will tell my sweet perfect angel princess is that as long as you are active, healthy and eating well, your exact weight and clothing size shouldn’t and won’t be an issue. Health is the priority. And I’d like to think that’s what Meghan Trainor’s mother was trying to communicate but the next line betrays her. Apparently, booty is the priority. Boys like a little more booty?! ARE YOU JOKING?! Yeah. Here’s me and my daughter:

“Hey, precious innocent rainbow sunshine angel girl. Don’t worry about your body. Boys want a little more butt to grab onto anyway. And that’s what’s important to me. How much boys like grabbing your butt.”

“Thanks, mom. You always have my best interest in mind. You’re a great mom.”

“I know, honey. Now, go shake it like you’re supposed to do.”

Also, what about the girls that are naturally super slim? Do boys not like them? Should all the skinny girls go on cheeseburger binges (mmm, cheeseburgers…)? Again, the priority is health. Not size. Or booty for night-holding.

Even Grumpy Cat knows.

Even Grumpy Cat knows.

*Insert more repetitive unrelated weirdo chorus here*

 And now, the second verse:

I’m bringing booty back
Go ahead and tell them skinny b:tches that
No I’m just playing. I know you think you’re fat
But I’m here to tell ya
Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top

Look. I realize there are relatively thin and healthy women that want to be thinner and think they’re fat. Totally. I look back at pictures of me a few years ago when I was working out 4 times a week yet thought I was fat and I want to punch myself. But, there are many women that are just naturally super skinny and know it. And just because they are very thin and do not want to be any thinner doesn’t mean they don’t have body image issues. Though we mostly hear about women wanting to be thinner, there are many women that wish they could put on a little weight. It’s a real thing. Referring to them as “skinny b:tches” and saying you “know” they think they’re fat is demeaning and rude.

But, thanks for ending that misinformation party with the last line. Nice effort.

For all the "skinny b:tches". Just kidding. That's mine.

For all the “skinny b:tches”. Just kidding. That’s mine.

End with more bridge and chorus.

In conclusion, you suck at encouraging women, Meghan Trainor, but I fully intend on searching for your song when we get in the car this afternoon. But, I’ll have you know I’ll be disagreeing with you in my heart the whole time!

See the video here!

I'm sure I'm on page 897 so please vote. Or don't. Whatever.

I’m sure I’m on page 897 so please vote. Or don’t. Whatever.

NewAir Wine Cooler Review (UPC: 854001004167)

Whatchu know about some 18 bottle wine coolers, y’all?!

Probably more than I do. I know about one. The NewAir AW-180E to be exact. My friend at Luma Comfort contacted me asking if I’d review one of their products. She gave me a list of some excellent machinery. A humidifier, an air purifier, a space heater. Lovely. Clean and comfortable air is wonderful and benefits the whole family. But, you know what else benefits the whole family? A wine cooler.

Allow me to explain. An 18 bottle wine cooler means there can be 18 perfectly chilled (to a crisp 56 degrees) at any given time. That means that at any given time, mama has 18 choices that are 18 times better than crying from within a locked closet or hiding under the bed with a tub of cookie dough (although, I’ll probably do that, too).

NewAir AW-180E

NewAir AW-180E

The 180E comes with these stats/features:

  • Keep up to 18 bottles of wine at their perfect serving temperature
  • Vibration-free cooling system protects against sediment build up
  • Digital control panel and display let you maintain perfect storage conditions
  • 5 slide out racks with chrome finish cradle your collection
  • Interior LED light provides soft illumination
  • Always ready at a moment’s notice to console stressed out moms
  • Mom’s best friend!

The NewAir AW180E 18 Bottle Wine Cooler. Because it’s cooler than crying in a closet.

Find it at NewAir!