Sunday, October 28, 2012

Conversations with children

Admittedly, most of our conversations around here lately have something to do with the upcoming holidays. When I say 'holidays', I am mainly referring to Halloween. Yet Thing 1 is an observant young boy and he cannot help but notice all the Christmas that is infiltrating our world via store displays and catalogs. He wants to think about Frankenstein and Ghouls, but occasionally Santa creeps into our conversations. He is also very confused about where Thanksgiving fits into the grand scheme of Events That We Decorate For In The Wagner Household. Unfortunately, I don't have any convincing answers for him so I choose to distract the children with sudden bouts of singing my weird,off key version of The Monster Mash while dancing around the kitchen like a double jointed scarecrow. For extra emphasis, and to complete the manic enthusiasm for all things Holiday, Thing 2 toddles around and randomly yells "PUNKIN PATCH" with great volume and frequency.



Here are some of our other recent conversations:

The other day Thing 1 and I were having a chat about food. Thing 2, as usual, was parroting everyone.

Me: If you want to grow up to be like Daddy you need to eat those vegetables!

Thing 2: Daddee need to eat Vejebals!

Thing 1: Because Daddy is big and strong?

Thing 2: Daddee beeg an strang?

Me: Yes!

Thing 1: So Daddy's are big and strong and they go to work?

Thing 2: Daddee at work?

Me: Errr.... yes.

Me: So if Daddy's are big and strong and they go to work, what are Mommy's?

Thing 1: Mommy's are little and tiny and they clean stuff!

Me: .....

At least he thinks I'm little.

A few days later Thing 1 runs into my art studio/spare room/library/Brock's closet/my private dance studio.

Thing 1: I'm going to be a farmer when I grow up!

Me: Awesome, buddy!

Thing 1: Are you going to be sad when I grow up and move to my farm?

Me, kissing hid head: Well, yeah! Of course I will. Can't I just keep you this size forever?

Thing 1: No, I'm gonna grow up. But you can come and live with my on my farm!

Me: Really? What will I do there? (fully thinking that he was going to tell me that I could clean for him)

Thing 1: You can ride my combine with me!

Be still my heart.

Tonight, Brock and I sat at the dinner table and tried to convince Thing 1 to wear one of the FOUR costumes that he already possesses for Halloween. He decided two days ago that he wanted to be Frankenstein. Frankenstein is not one of the four costumes already in our possession.

Me: How about you be a pirate? You are an AWESOME pirate!

Thing 1: Can you paint a scar on my face?

Thing 2: Hot? Yummy!

Me: Of course! I'll even give you a goatee and put black around your eyes, just like Captain Jack Sparrow! I'll show you a picture of him!

Brock: Can't we just show him Pirates of the Caribbean?

Me: ....
Brock: Is he too young?

Me, flatly: He's five.

Brock: Man! That's too bad! He would LOVE that movie! Maybe I could just show him one of the tamer scenes.

Me, raising one eyebrow: Or I could just Google a picture of Captain Jack Sparrow and show him that.

Thing 1, pointing to his cheek: I want the scar to go right here!

Thing 2: French Fries!

Hope you are all gearing up for a fantastic Halloween! I'm going as witch. Again.  The beauty of that character is that I don't even need to dress up (but I will anyway....). *Cackle Cackle!*

~What is your favorite Holiday? Do you dig Halloween? And also, should I try to make Thing 1 a Frankenstein costume when he can be a Pirate, an Astronaut, a Pilot or Count Dracula for FREE?

Note: I have been unable to upload any pictures to this blog for well over a month. I keep getting a "server failed" response, which means that you don't get to see things like my gorgeous sunrises and sunsets and my adorable kids and their adorable ponies and random black lacy bras lying in the gravel path of my local Natural Area. It's a shame. A SHAME! HELP ME. Thank you.

Friday, October 26, 2012

"With Love for Dotter"

As life swirls around us, often feeling haphazard and out of control, we sometimes struggle to make sense of things. We feel desperate to know the meaning or to find our purpose in this life. Many of us have faith, family and love as our safety net. These are places that we go to for comfort, peace and security. These are things that we always have... until we don't...

Bridget, a blogger friend of mine, whose humor, intelligence and wit I greatly admire, lost her 11 year old daughter this Wednesday.  Bridget writes at Stumbling Towards Perfect and has remained fairly anonymous with the identities of her family members. Her precious girl, whom she refers to on her blog as "Dotter", died in a car accident. Her 17 year old daughter, "Bean", was driving the car.

Becoming a parent is one of the most frightening journeys that a human can embark upon. Not only are you navigating the waters of often unknown territory, you are doing it with the deepest love in your soul and the fiercest feelings of protection and loyalty that you will ever know. That tiny, angry, shrieking infant instantly becomes the most important thing in your life. From the moment that you meet them, you know that your path is forever changed. In that moment that you first hold your child, you are suddenly overwhelmed by a kind of love that you were unaware existed. Your actual being is transformed when you become a parent.

Children change everything in your life. They can be charming and hilarious and exasperating and draining. Yet, no matter what they do, you unconditionally love them with every fiber of your being. Even though you do your best to enjoy every moment, you often live in fear that you will mess up somehow as a parent. Ever present is your greatest fear, which is to lose your child entirely.

I cannot imagine what Bridget and her family are feeling at this time. I can only imagine that it is akin to having a gaping black hole in your soul... a horrendous chasm in your very being.

Words cannot properly express my deep sympathy for this family. I struggle to make sense of any of this world, but it is particularly difficult when a child is taken from this earth. I'm a woman of faith, and I believe "Dotter" is in heaven, but I cannot imagine the anguish that Bridget and her family are experiencing. So the question arises, "What can I do?"

Another blogger, Brenna Jennings at Suburban Snapshots has set up a memorial fund for Bridget and her family. Please visit this site and donate.

In leiu of donating online, you can also give funds to a charitable account set up by the Walworth State Bank, where 100% of the funds go directly to Bridget and the family:
In Memory of "Dotter", C/O Walworth State Bank, PO Box 66, Walworth, WI 53184.

With a prayer in my heart that "Bean" recovers and that Bridget and her family can again find their way in this crazy world; I thank you all in advance for helping in any way that you can.

Hold your loved ones close.

Peace, Love and Hope,

Sunday, October 21, 2012

I ain't dumb, ya know.

My good friend sent a song my way with a message that it reminded her of me and Brock. She said, "Only someone who knows you as well as I do could see you and Brock when I hear this song!!"

Here's the song. Maybe not appropriate for every situation.... but you all know how I operate by now.

Later, after I had listened to it ten times, laughing every time, I played it for Brock.

His response was, "I'm offended that everyone thinks I'm so stupid."

I was puzzled, as Brock is thick skinned and rarely offended. I said, "Really? That offends you?"

He said, "No. Because it is not just me. It is all husbands."

That received no arguement from me, so I nodded solemnly in agreement.

He said, "The only way I could get smarter is if I became a woman, and that ain't gonna happen."

As I walked out of the room with the silent hysterics emanating from my pores and tears running from my eyes, I tried to compose myself. Later, I lamely apologized on behalf of womankind for the general implication that our menfolk consist largely of ignoramuses and cretins.

I said, "I'm sorry that people think you are a moron."

Brock shrugged and said, "That's all right. I know what I am."

I asked, "And what are you?"

He said, "I'm awesome."

Oh my, and a humble caveman to boot.

Love you, honey.


These are the moments that I will forever cherish

My children are cute. They are so precious that I love them regardless of their behavior. They are so adorable that I easily forgive them for not giving me a moment's peace to write... or eat... or bathe.  They are so captivating that they elicit random comments from passersby instructing me to "Cherish every moment, they grow up so quickly!"

I want to thank everyone who has offered up that gem of wisdom. It is all I can do to not reply, "I will, especially that last moment where Junior here shrieked and grabbed for that toy and knocked down the entire display of Thomas the Tank Engine, then the entire store sneered at me like I should be tarred and feathered and banished to Mars. Yes, that is a moment that I will cherish."

But seriously, I love my kids. I love them more than anything on this planet. Being a mother is the most challenging thing that I have ever done and it is also the biggest blessing in my life. That is the gosh darn truth. I love, love, love those little people that Brock and I made, and I am doing my damnedest to mold them into people that not only their mother, but most of society, can love as well.

That being said, I'm not always awesome at my job. In fact, just last week I should have been fired and replaced with someone with a better attitude. And as hard as I try to steer my kids in the right direction, sometimes the advice I give them gets misconstrued and comes back to bite me in the arse.

For example, Thing 1 is a sweet, handsome boy that enjoys wearing a snappy outfit. When he let's me dress him puts together something particularly jazzy and heads off to preschool, his teachers will often compliment his appearance with a comment like, "Why! Don't you look nice today!" His reply to this sort of statement is usually to rub his shirt and coolly and confidently say, "I know!".

After hearing him take these sorts of compliments with zero humility, I decided it was time to mother-up and create a teaching moment. It loosely went like this- Life lesson number 458: Be humble. Say thank you. Give compliments back, especially to the females. Tell them that you like their outfit or that you think they have a pretty smile. This will get you far in life, my young Jedi!

After having this monumental chat with my offspring, I was feeling empowered. I was getting this parenting thing DOWN PAT, by golly! AND, he will thank me later when he has a gaggle of cute girls chasing after him.

A few days after this lesson, Thing 1 walked into my bathroom where I was standing in my bra and undies, drying my hair. He looked me up and down and slyly said, "You look nice today, Mommy."


Someone remind me not to ever tell people what to do. Ever. And that Victoria is not quite as secrective as she believes.

Oh, but it doesn't end here. You see, I wisely birthed not one, but two babies. I get to inflict my socially awkward misinformation onto not one, but two people. Yay for 'Merica.

Thing 2 is at an age where we are talking a lot about the potty. Not only does Thing 2 love talking about all things Poop, but I am attempting to spark an interest within him to USE the potty. Little dude needs some encouragement to forego the diapers and "be a big boy!". Lesson number #213:  Big boys are helpful! Big boys clean up their toys! And big boys use the potty!

Of course, Thing 2 has no interest in sitting on the potty unless it is to get out of naptime (naptime being so pesky and all). And when he is on the potty, he is merely sitting. His only real interest is to yell "All Done!", hop down, slam the lid closed and flush the still empty bowl (flushing being so enjoyable and all).

What Thing 2 does have great interest in is when anyone else uses the potty. And when I say 'anyone', I mean me. If I shut the door, he busts in like a barbarian looking for a turkey leg. If I lock the door, he stands directly outside and howls like someone is removing his toenails with a spoon. So, like many mothers, I am never alone in the bathroom. Ever. This is a parenting moment that I do not cherish.

Thing 2 was spending some quality time with me in my tiny bathroom the other day, chanting the word "poop!" loudly in a sing-song manner as I quietly used the facilities. I reached for some toilet paper and leaned in that way that I do right before I use said toilet paper. Thing 2 pounced on that TP like a fox on a hen house. He and I had a mini wrestling match right then and there because, you see, he was trying to be a 'helpful big boy' and wipe Mommy. I, on the other hand, did not want or need assistance in that area, thankyouverymuch.  It was all I could do to not weep softly into a cottony wad of Charmin and whisper, "Please.... go...just go...." Instead I manned up and met the challenge head on. With some cutting edge fake-out moves and a 103 pound advantage, I won that wrestling match and wiped myself. I then stood quickly to flush, wash my hands, and to try and erase that earlier moment from my mind. Upon my sudden jolt off the porcelain throne, I left my skinny jeans momentarily around my thighs. Immediately upon spotting my misplaced pants, Thing 2 scuttled around me, positioned himself behind me and attempted to hike up my skin tight, spandex laden pants. I was desperately trying to dry my hands as I heard his tiny 2 year old voice moan the word, "Ugh! Heavy!".

Seriously, someone kill me now. I will be locking the door and letting him have a screaming tantrum outside of it from here forward. I will also be wearing my headphones and listening to anything but the yelling on volume 11.

So, as you can plainly see, it is not a good idea to teach your children how to compliment people or to use the potty.

Other than that, I seem to be doing everything perfectly. Except for that "cherish EVERY moment part", because that is horseshit advice. Here's my advice, Life Lesson Number 4,567: Be present and enjoy the good stuff. Write about the bad stuff on the Internet so that you can laugh about it later (after therapy).

Peace, Love and Tons of Inappropriate Behavior,

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Finding Your People

One of my favorite quotes from Oscar Wilde~
"It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious."

The first time I heard that line, I laughed out loud. As a person who bores easily, I completely understand this sentiment . As a butthole who loves to make gross stereotypes, I find this way of dividing people not only gratifying, but also whimsical and slightly devilish.

A while back I had drinks with some lovely friends that I hadn't seen in awhile. We started talking about our busy lives and how difficult it is to find the time to clean the ceiling fan- wait that is just me maintain friendships. We had this conversation under a thin, socially acceptable guise, as we all knew that two of the women at the table talk on a daily basis, just as I have a handful of people that I chat with almost every day. Even though I adore both of these women and consider them friends, they are not in the innermost center of my circle. This fact is not loaded with harsh feelings or judgements, it is merely the truth.

As our conversation progressed, one of my friends expressed concern with some of the relationships in her life. We all listened and nodded knowingly as she described something that each of us had personally experienced. I thought for a moment, then I said, "I wouldn't worry about it. Everyone has 'their people'. It doesn't mean that you aren't a good friend or a good person, it's just that people find others who best understand them and stick with those folks. It's easier for everyone that way."

Then I proceeded to tell them how "my people" laugh at inappropriate things and get through life's hardships by finding the humor in every situation. As much as I love being around a diverse herd, my adolescent boy's sense of humor and lack of filter occasionally makes integrating difficult for me. My gut reaction is often to crack a joke, offer up a multiple choice answer or snort at something instead of offering consolation. I'll just say it; I suck at solace. I'd rather get you drunk, try on stupid hats, make you laugh, distract you with quotes from "Mean Girls" and help you burn pictures of your ex husband/wife. I can also redecorate your living room, help you write the profile or take you shopping for a new wardrobe, as I have been gifted with special talents in those areas as well.

Unfortunately, many of "my people" have migrated to new scenery. In the past few years I have lost my wise, witty and wonderful bestie to San Francisco; my smart, sexy and sassy soul mate to Estes Park; one most crafty, charismatic and comical Sarah to Iowa; and one genuine, state of the art, original funny lady by the name of Erin to New Jersey. Don't cry for me, I have found more of "my people" here (and I always keep spare Erin's and Sarah's in a box under my bed); but no one can replace those fuckers that keep relocating. Damn it, you people. Don't you know that YOU are MY PEOPLE!

But really, I miss your faces and please come and visit. I promise I'll clean all of that crap and Smelly Cat out of the spare room so that you can sleep there.

I do have a point here, I promise...

To all of you who are struggling with relationships, don't worry about it (unless you are just a giant, raging asshole- then you should really fix that). Just be yourself, find "your people", continue being yourself around those people that make you happy, and enjoy your life. Don't misunderstand my sage advice, this doesn't mean that you can't make friends with folks outside of your comfort zone. In fact, I highly recommend befriending someone unusual from your normal scene, as those are generally the sorts who can teach you all of those pesky lessons that we are here to learn about ourselves and others. Blah blah blah.

"To know thyself is to know thy people." ~Johi


"To know thy people is to know thyself." ~Johi


"I like fart jokes, y tu`?" ~Johi

You pick!
Rock on, "my people".

Peace, Love and Social Acceptance through Scrupulous Selection,

~Do you recognize "your people"? Who are they?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Desperately seeking sanity

"Excuse me ma'am? You seem to have dropped this."
...and the friendly stranger hands me back my mind, which I have clearly lost.

Tragically, today at 11:54 a.m., my children reduced me to tears which I hid behind my sunglasses. The kids were not fighting nor were they doing anything wrong. They were only talking. Their sweet little voices were telling me stories. They were TALKING- something that I ENCOURAGED them to do. Something which they had both been doing incessantly since they climbed into my bed at 6:45 this morning... and since 6:15 the morning before that... and at 5:46 the morning before that. The past few weeks, between the constant talking, my trashed out house, the snot snorting from round two of colds since school started, the coat refusal, the effing laundry, the fruit fly infestation in my kitchen, the whining noises and begging for food from the dogs and children, the explosive noises of boys playing and Adele Arakawa's  horrendous hair, every nerve in my body is fried.

Er... Adele? 1989 called, they want their hairstyle back.
So much hairspray, so little time.
I've never before wanted so badly to be a part of a giant overbearing family, ala My Big Fat Greek Wedding, as I do now. Please. SOMEONE. Take my kids for the day! Entertain them without charging me money! You can even judge my unkempt house and lazy parenting! I WILL WELCOME YOUR CRITICISM IF YOU JUST HELP ME! I'll become Jewish, Mormon or even Catholic again if I need to- just HELP ME. Upon desperately wishing for even a Monster-In-Law type figure in my life to love my children for me, I've realized that I am clearly in need of a little "me time". I can't think straight. I can't sleep. I can't write. I can't figure out 40% off of $160 pair of boots (this is BAD, people), and in no way am I keeping pace with my own life. In short, I'm basically sucking at living. I'm becoming a crappy friend, a nagging wife and a checked out parent. I am worn out over here.   I would love a Xanax, but I don't take prescription drugs, folks, which is why I am teetering on the edge of alcoholism. (OMG! Have you ever tried a Moscow Mule? MIND NUMBING GOOD FUN. Just know that you will need to rewatch the last half of Castle to remember who done it.)


Therefore, in a vain attempt to find my sanity in a world full of plastic toys (not mine), unfortunate pooping schedules for the diaper wearing individual in our family (not me, thankfully), constant yelling(me and others) and noise (every damn thing), wadded up sweat socks (not mine) on the living room rug or three steps from the motherloving hamper and the never ending cleaning/folding/sorting/wiping/helping/listening/responding/driving/selfless giving that is motherhood, I have again started walking in the mornings.

And I hate mornings.

Fortunately, I have a timer on my coffee maker beautiful natural area full of trees and swamps ponds by my house. Unfortunately, it also borders the interstate and a Super Wal-Mart so even when I try to find some Zen space, I am sharing my time with road noise, truckers and people that think a stain free "wife beater" is 'dressing up'. None of this surprises me, it is merely par for the course of the Glamorous Life of Johi.

Most of the time on these morning outings it is just me and Red Dog, whose walking off-and-on-leash obedience reminds me of why I actually love her. Together we increase our heart rates and burn off negative energy while enjoying the crisp morning air. With Pandora's Indie Dance Mix station in my ear and this awesome app called Map My Walk where I can... wait for it... map my walk while channelling my inner George Jefferson jive step. I can listen to Jack White and also keep track of pace and distance, which assists me in achieving a daily goal and knowing when to push myself, something that every Type A sicko person enjoys. Sometimes, out of pure guilt and being the sole human in the house to acknowledge that all dogs need to be walked, I take Black Dog, too- who pulls on my arm the entire time and barks at cars. If I let her off leash she runs too far and rolls in dead stuff, thus stealing my happiness.

Responsibility sucks.

But still! Even with Black Dog dragging at my arm, thus ensuring that I will soon have to shell out the big bucks and see my chiropractor, I see the bluest skies on the planet (because Colorado rocks a blue sky like no where else). It is also a time to think, reflect, plan and prepare myself for the coming events of my life as a slave to my thankless family doting and loving mother and wife. I remember to breath all the way into my diaphragm. (what????) These fairly quiet walks are also a great time to spot wildlife. Red Dog and I see Canadian Geese, Blue Herons, Blackbirds, rabbits, jumping fish, turtles, Doves, Blue Jays and Hawks. We once even witnessed a Red Tailed Hawk diving into the lake to catch a fish. Its mealtime attempt was as unsuccessful as the self medicated Pamela Anderson on Dancing with the Stars, but I felt honored to get to watch the carnivorous effort and of the slightly drunken elegant bird.

Even though there are many things to discover on these morning walks, I have yet to find my sanity.  Be that as it may, I have found some much needed solitude. It is a great chance to connect with nature. I can listen to my body (it says "Ow, you decrepit thing") without having to drown out the noise of children fighting over the toy trash truck, or the phone ringing with yet another political call, or the demands of "I'm hungry!" "He hit me!" "I need a band aid!" "I want to watch Transformers!". And best of all, on my morning walks, I don't have to repeat myself (unless I take Black Dog, then I spend the time repeatedly yelling her name constantly). However, sometimes the morning reveals things that I do not expect to find. Things that are black as the night and full of wonder. Things that are so wrong, they are right. Things that are lacy, sexy and should not by lying in a gravel path between a port-a-potty and a sign about the length of fish. Things like bras.

"Um... excuse me ma'am. You seem to have dropped this."

... so there's another one of us, but instead of
early morning walks with the dogs, she is
getting back to nature with Victoria's Secret
and a midnight rendezvous at the port-a-potty.
Good on her?