April 27, 2011

The Happiest Days of Our Lives

Pink Floyd, The Wall 1979

For the lawyer's personal pleasure: I purchased this book of my own free will with my own money.   I do consider Meagan to be a friend, but I also have other friends who read this site.  Truth in reviews, at your service.

I have had some fairly significant writer's block lately and it could not have come at a more inconvenient time.  I read Meagan Francis' book, The Happiest Mom, about a month ago and have wanted to write a review.  However, I was not sure what to write since I am in such a weird place with my own writing and overall, with my site.  Still, I really wanted to support the message and vision of Meagan's book and her site of the same name, so I will just keep this simple.

Buy the damned book already.  For you.  For a friend.

Okay, okay.... I am not going to cop out with that.

First and foremost, I chose this post title specifically for this review.  It is so very easy to say "Kelli! Making yourself happy is selfish.". Admittedly, even I used to cringe at the title "The Happiest Mom". Ugh.  However, I have completely come around to the concept.  Nowadays, I would argue that creating a happy life, one in which you are satisfied with all aspects of yourself - mother, wife, friend, whatever - can actually teach your child how to craft such a life for themselves.  Besides, a person who chases happiness at the expense of others is not truly a happy person anyway and Meagan's book is NOT about that.  Instead, this book is about achieving that sweet, elusive parity - finding a happiness and a satisfaction that does not come with some ultimate sacrifice.

It is about determining what is important to you and your family.

When I received the book,  I was in the middle of a work deadline - I set the book by my computer and I have to say, with truthfulness, just looking at that lovely cover made me happy straight away.  It was so darned pretty, with the whimsical flowers and soothing blue.  This is a book which you can most certainly judge by its adorable cover.  I did peek inside and fell in love with the cute little drawings of critters.  Yes, even the squirrel (and we all know how much I Hate Squirrels. *Shudder*)

When  I was finally able to sit down and read the book, I loved how organized it was - it is neatly divided into 10 chapters which are easy to read and digest (there are even blank pages in the back for doodling and notes)  The chapters include titles such as "Aim Low, and Go Slow" and "Keep It Real" and my personal favorite "Trust Your Gut". (In fact, that has always been my #1 piece of advice to new moms: "Trust your gut because no one knows your baby like YOU and your husband know your baby.  NO ONE. Not even your doctor.")  I have to admit I did not really care for the Cosmo-style quizzes, all too often, more than one answer applied to me (depending on the day and month, right?) and after awhile, I skipped those.  I did enjoy all the quotes from other moms because again, it is about gathering ideas.

One of my favorite quotes from Meagan really sums up her site and her book:

Of course, good parenting requires a lot of effort--but you won't score extra points for difficulty, so there's no point making motherhood harder than it has to be. That doesn't mean you do everything by halves or don't bother trying, it means setting up your life so that you're putting effort into the things that really matter to you.
I think that is key here.  All too often, as a mother, I look at what others are doing and I question what the heck I am doing.  Which is wrong.  Completely and utterly wrong. I should be focusing my efforts on what really matters to me. Not anyone else.   It took me a long time to figure out that we do not all want the same things for ourselves or for our children.

And that it is okay.

For me, the message I always get from Meagan is that it is healthier to simply identify what is important to my husband and me - what do we want to get out of parenting?  What do we want our children to take away from their childhoods?  The details are not important, quite frankly.  And in The Happiest Mom, you will find all sorts of ideas and concepts that will make you think about how you want to craft a Happy Life for yourself.  This is not a How-To book with precise instructions - it is a guide and a simple framework, that can be used to figure out the direction you would like to go with your own parenting style.  I do expect that as my children get older and our lives change, I will be referring to this book again as I figure out the next stages in our lives.

Finally, I would like to address the whole "Why Buy the Book When the Blog is Free?" question.  The book really provides a concise guide and framework that can stand alone.  However, Meagan's site provides more details and examples into specific situations (e.g. holidays...traveling...specific marriage situations, such as dividing household chores).  More importantly, Meagan's site provides nice commentary from other readers.  She has such a nice, thoughtful community over there and it is one of the few sites where I click through to read the comments. Furthermore, there are still a few folks who do not actually read blogs (shocking, yet true!)  I love that non-bloggy types can also get a gander at Meagan's Happiest Mom concept.

Overall, this book is great for a new mom or even an experienced mom. Throw in a bottle of wine and you have a perfect gift.  No?

April 20, 2011

Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun

UGH.  I used lyrics from Remember A Day, but forgot to change the post title and song reference in the post.  Ouch.  I am going to leave it all as it stands. Yet another reminder of how goofy I am.

Pink Floyd, A Saucerful of Secrets 1968

Remember a day before today 
A day when you were young. 
Free to play alone with time 
Evening never come. 
Sing a song that can't be sung 
Without the morning's kiss 
Queen - you shall be it if you wish 
Look for your king 
Why can't we play today 
Why can't we stay that way

I first heard "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" in 1988.  I had purchased Pink Floyd's Relics album on cassette tape at the Wal-Mart in Bonner Springs, right off I-70 and just as I headed off on a road trip to Science Camp in Hays, KS.  I was 17, my little 1978 Mazda had no air conditioning but no matter, this was my inaugural road trip sans authority figures.

I will never forget that freedom of cruising down the highway.  This was only my first roadtrip and I had grand plans for many more.

The possibilities were endless.

Today, I celebrate my 40th year of enjoying steady heartbeats.

When I turned 30, things were very different.  I had a Sparkly New Boyfriend and a job I loved at an Internet start-up. At the time, Internet start-ups were ALL THE RAGE. It was 2001, so how could we lose, right? For my party,  I simply met folks at John's Upstairs Deck in downtown Kansas City and spent a whirlwind evening with my friends, shots and beer.  The night culminated in my sister and I shaking our stuff to Dancing Queen on the dance floor.  Just the two of us. She was 7 months pregnant at the time.

I still have yet to come up with an excuse for myself.

This past weekend, I had a few friends over for a food tasting - Pakistani food, my favorite dishes.  We worked our way through some haleem, nihari, malai kofta, karahi chicken and chapali kabob along with more than a few bottles of wine and Celeste's cheesecake.  The evening ended conservatively with my friend Christy and I talking quietly about Very Serious and Not So Very Serious topics until 2 am.

 Tonight, the Sparkly New Boyfriend Who Made Me An Honest Woman and I are going to take Team Chaos to the Blue Koi for some Chinese dumplings and vegan Ants on a Tree.  Nope,  I am not vegan, but that is how I prefer my Ants on a Tree.  It will be a mild evening, to be sure.

At 30, I had no idea where I would end up or with whom I would take the journey.  The possibilities were endless.

At 40, I want to be nowhere else.

And the possibilities still seem endless.

This morning, my mom shared this on Facebook. No worries about my ego getting out of check today!   Also, this serves as definitive proof that I must have descended from a long, illustrious line of hobos and street urchins.

April 13, 2011


Pink Floyd, Obscured by the Clouds 1972

Today's post title is significant.  Life is quite lovely right now - I am young and in my 30s,  the weather is gorgeous, I have loads of energy, I have been furiously spring cleaning, the kids are impossibly adorable these days, I have piles of galleons in my fat bank account.

All of that will change.  I turn 40 next week (old!), rain is expected tomorrow (of course!), I will get sick again (someday), my house will get messy (again), the kids will grow up (and leave me, the nerve!) and this Friday, I will send two ridiculously large checks to the IRS and the state of Kansas.

Life never stays.

Still, these damned kids.  Impossibly adorable.  Although, they will surely break my heart, I will enjoy things as they are now.

When I was sick I spent some quality time with my bed.  At one point, Arun came upstairs to see how I was doing.

Arun: Mama, are you okay?
Me: I think I am going to puke, Arun.
Arun: Do you need a towel?
Me: No, I'm okay. 
Arun: You can puke on me, if you want.
Me:  Uh, that's okay. Adults throw up in the toilet.

I am not sure whether to be touched or horrified that my kid thinks it is a sign of caring to allow someone throw up on him.  Probably, it has something to do with the fact that my husband thinks nothing of holding his own kids and letting them puke at will.  


Last week, Arun and I had the following conversation.
Arun: Do goats stink to protect themselves?
Me:  You mean like skunks?
Arun: Yeah.
Me: No, goats stink for no reason.  It certainly doesn't seem to save them from Muslim holidays.


The other day, Anjali SWORE she had to poop.  After awhile of sitting on her royal throne, she hopped off and solemnly declared "Mama, I didn't POOP.  My body was just TRICKING ME. Totally."

Ah, baby girl.  I understand.  Bodies are tricky like that.


In other news, Anjali has a Pretend Mama.  Pretend Mama is the BOMB, y'all.  She lets Anjali wear ANYTHING she wants, even Arun's Spiderman Snow boots in 90 degree weather.  Pretend Mama never makes her comb her hair , Pretend Mama never says "Just a second" and instead, hops immediately to attention at Anjali's every whim.  Furthermore, Pretend Mama lets her drink all the damned apple juice a little stomach could hold.  Anjali loves her Pretend Mama more than her Real Mama.


Complicating all of this is that Anjali has an accomplice - Water the Pink Elephant.  I like to refer to Water as "the mouthpiece to Anjali's Communist regime" because seriously?  Water is a little asshole.  Water tells Anjali what to wear in the morning (truly, Water could be the stylist for Lady Gaga).  Water tells her that the downstairs bathroom is SCARY and that all bodily functions must happen upstairs.  Water tells her she does not have to go to school.  Water insists that it's okay to run around in parking lots.

In short, Water is my worst enemy and must be defeated.  One of these days, Water is going to get strung up by his furry pink trunk and relieved of his cotton innards.


Then, Water insisted the photo shoot was over.

Of course.

April 7, 2011

Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk

Pink Floyd, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn 1987

Gentle Reader, I know that I promised you a happy post but then my husband left town for work, I came down with some Scary Stomach Thing and attended a funeral.  All in one week.

However!  All is not lost.  I can still make this happy - you just watch.  At a minimum, I can let you laugh at my misery, right?


Last Friday, after a week of pain, nausea and puking, I shuffled off to the Urgent Care of Olathe facility (since I have a long, sordid history of getting less than stellar treatment from my own doctor and no, I have not yet changed doctors because I am nothing if not efficient when it comes to my health care and Sweet Baby Confuscious, I need to get A NEW DOCTOR already)

Fortunately, the Urgent Care here is so very incredibly efficient and caring and lovely that I was left wondering if I could just designate THEM as my primary care from now on.  They took my concerns seriously and got right to work on identifying the traitorous body organ.  The most likely suspect is Ye Olde Gallbladder, but he is still under the bare lightbulb of questioning.  I am hoping to have answers by the end of this week.

In the meantime, I am going to slap up some Simain Snaps and a quickie bullet-list of Things That Made Me Happy Last Week.  Despite some minor setbacks, I have not lost perspective of how precious my life is.
  • First and foremost, I am so excited that I've signed up with the Social Media Club of KC to walk with their team for the March of Dimes on May 1st  My personal goal is $200, our team goal is $5000 and you can donate here (Credit card/debit card/ Pay Pal are accepted - how easy is that?)  I have always wanted to do this walk and this is the year.  Because of my Benedict Arnold body, I can't do the Dorothy Dash 5k I had registered for next week, but I know that come hell or high water, I can and will walk a measly mile for the March of Dimes.  You have my word on it.  I don't beg for much on this site, but this is me, begging.  Please, please donate.
  • Despite being sick, I was so grateful that I was able to attend my great-uncle's visitation and funeral services last week. These days, it takes either a coffin or a turkey to get ALL of us in a room together and if I had missed last week's celebration of my great-uncle's 84 years worth of life, I would also have missed out on seeing some family members I rarely get to see these days.  My family is crazy, dysfunctional and there is always a bit of in-fighting that ramps up as emotions run high.  However, I love my family and I genuinely like hanging out with them.  Also, I appreciate that we use funerals as a time to laugh and remember the good times, too.  Laughter through tears is the best emotion, right?
  • Recently, I discovered a game called Quell.  OH MY.  This is SO challenging, yet relaxing.  I have to admit that as much as I love Angry Birds, it makes me tense and anxious. Until I finish ALL the levels in Angry Birds, I am not satisfied...I cannot rest.  Quell?  Not so much.  If I am stuck on a puzzle, I am emotionally capable of putting it down for awhile to think about it.   
  • Since my birthday is this month, I have been "treating" myself to "purchases".  A new handbag?  Yep.  And it is so much smaller than my other bags - it just barely fits my necessities that I carry at all times: my wallet, Moleskine, phone, 2 reusable shopping bags, a few tubes of lipstick and the Kindle.  Diapers and kid toys need not apply (although, I do still have room for their mints.) I almost feel human carrying this thing.  And since shoes and handbags go together like peas and carrots, I splurged on a new pair of sandals which are red.  For someone who normally buys her shoes in shades of black and brown, that is a pretty huge step for me.  Excuse the pun. (Note: I feel compelled to point out I got the handbag on sale at Dillards and did not pay the full price on that link.  Jeepers!)
  • There is a Twilight Lane in my neighborhood.  Every time I pass it, I smile and hope fervently there is a dreamy-eyed teenaged girl living in one of the houses on it.
  • One of the side effects of my traitorous body is this irresistible urge to get my entire frocking house in order. I suppose that since I am feeling somewhat normal-ish, I want to get things in order in case I re-up with the Toilet Brigade. The past few days, I have been on a ridiculous cleaning and organizational bender. I am so obsessed,  I even invested in another box of black trash bags so that I can get rid of even more crapola.  Yes, I use black bags, so that Team Chaos cannot spy their toys inside. You know the drill - a toy that has not seen any action for years will gain a new life if there is even a hint of its permanent removal.   
And.....I promised some simian snappage.

The Eyes Have It
I swear this girl's face is made from rubber.  I wish I could get snaps of ALL the weird expressions she makes.

The Hiding Place
This is her "secret" hiding spot (keeping in mind that that I sit just to the left of this picture). The other day, I could see that her feet weren't moving and I went to investigate.  We could all use a little napping spot, I suppose.

Kicked to the Curb
One of the things stressing me out last week was the fact that a charity was coming by on FRIDAY to pick up stuff.  I mean, how cool is THAT - someone coming to my HOUSE to take AWAY my junk? Fortunately, I was at least functional enough last Thursday to haul everything out.  

Hell, That's HAIL
The other morning, I found two bowls of hail in my freezer.  Ah, to have a 5 year old in the house.  Also, I can't resist pronouncing "hell" and "hail" the same - just like Clay Davis from The Wire.  AMEN.

The Team of Chaos

Oh my God, you guys.  All the smiles and giggles are what kept me going last week.
What on earth will I do when they leave me?