Friday, April 26, 2013

TMI Fridays: Funny is Family


Today, in the ridiculously popular interview series TMI Fridays, I am talking to the beautiful and talented Amy from Funny is Family. Amy is a contributing author to the hilarious book I Just Want to Pee Alone with her essay "Embarrassment, Thy Name is Motherhood". Amy is a mother of two children, aged four and six. She writes on her blog about parenting, life and womanhood, and she always keeps it real.
Amy is a Pacific Northwest transplant to the East Coast. She relocated five years ago with her husband and their then 12 month old baby. Initially she was nervous because of the nationwide stereotypes about East Coast people being cold and abrupt, but she soon found out that adorable babies happen to be great icebreakers and she loves where she currently lives.



There is one major regional difference though; the wave. No, we aren't talking about the kind you do in a football stadium. We're talking about the drive-by wave. In her hometown of 5,000 in the Pacific Northwest, it is customary to wave at people as they're driving, biking or walking by you. If you don't wave, you at least nod your head or raise a finger in acknowledgment. This is often followed by the head snap for facial recognition of your wave's recipient. This head maneuver is also known by it's ninja name, "GAWKING". Gawking is the best way to figure out if you actually know who it is that you just waved at, nodded to or saluted.

Since I am a road waving expert (being from a small town in Iowa automatically catapults you into the category of "Expert Waver"), I decided to evaluate Amy's personality based on her style of drive-waving.


·  Entire hand= Overzealous and friendly, or STOP!  You owe me money.
·  Multiple Finger Salute to Forehead= I'm actually practicing my synchronized swimming routine and people think I am greeting them.
·  Head Nod= All of this waving is annoying me. I'm actually on this road to get somewhere, not to make friends.
·  Multiple finger salute with hand on wheel= I see you. I also see that school bus, the four way stop and my children in the rear-view mirror. I SEE EVERYTHING.
·  One Finger Salute= This one can get problemy.

Amy is a three finger in the 12 O'Clock position on the steering wheel waver.
I'm a head nodder and a one-finger waver.
That should explain a lot.

In five years of living in Connecticut, Amy finally has stopped waving at one of her neighbors. This neighbor has never once in five years waved to Amy. I hope this neighbor never moves to small town Iowa; they'll totally be blacklisted from BINGO night in the school gymnasium.
What IS fabulous about her neighborhood in Connecticut is that instead of waving, people simply show up at your house with beer if it is after 4 pm and you are in your yard.

I'm probably moving to Connecticut.

Johi: Did you always aspire to be a stay at home mother/writer?

Amy: No, initially I wanted to be a pharmacist, like my grandfather. Then I took chemistry and I blew a hole in the ceiling of the lab in my high school. I thought, "This is not for me."

I worked in retail management for awhile, which I liked, but did not love.

Then I had children and stayed at home with them. I'm lazy. I don't want to work outside the home.

Leaving the workforce was easy for me, because I wasn’t passionate about my career. It would have been a harder choice if I loved my job. Also, living 3000 miles away from all family members makes it very difficult to have two working parents, especially when one of them works as much as my husband does. Staying home works well for our family right now, and my husband is even being somewhat flexible with his work schedule to accommodate book signings.


Johi: Do you find working at home challenging?

Amy: I don't think it is terribly difficult. Maybe that is because I don't put a lot of effort into it... but then again, I don't really "keep" a house. Staying home with my children isn’t hard in of itself. I like their company, we do fun things, and we have freshly made baked goods on a fairly regular basis. It gets more difficult when other things are layered on to it. Like blogging.


Johi: Did you always want to be a mom?

Amy: Um... yes. I never really liked babysitting though. I thought that kids were cute, but I never really wanted to spend a lot of time with them. Now that I'm a mom, I truly like kids.


Johi: Ditto on all of that. I dog and horse sat for people. Rarely did I babysit.
When did you start writing, and what made you start writing the blog?

Amy: As a kid, I liked to write. In high school, I wrote stories and terrible poetry. My friends and I wrote roasts in rhyme. I've always enjoyed writing with humor.

As far as the blog, friends kept encouraging me to write one. I didn't really understand blogging and I thought what I talked about had already been done. I've been writing for nine months. I thought that I would run out of things to say, but I didn't.

Johi: Do you have hobbies? Do you still do those hobbies after having babies?

Amy: Yes and NO. I love to ski. I haven't skied in four years. I also love to read books. I read more blogs now. I still drink beer, but not as much as I would like and I'm not as adventurous with my beverage choices. It's hard to drag kids to a beer festival.


Johi: What is the worst noise on the planet?

Amy: Easy. It's a two way tie between the sound of a metal hanger on a metal bar, and teeth on silverware. If I ever decide to leave my husband it will be because he sometimes lets his teeth touch his fork.

Johi: Let's play a game called Would You Rather! Would you rather: Spot Bigfoot or visit Jurassic Park?

Amy: Bigfoot. Jurassic Park scared the crap out of me and no one has determined that Bigfoot is a bad guy. I would just give him a piece of beef jerky.

Johi: Would you rather: Be pregnant for 19 consecutive months or birth quadruplets?

Amy: Oh shit. Ummm.... pregnant. Shorter term pain.






Johi: If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
Amy: A cat. I am lazy, selfish, and hairy, and I adore lying in the sun, stretching, and giving people the stink eye. Cats are gross, and so am I. I do not, however, enjoy showing people my butthole.




Johi: Speaking of cats, which cartoons do your kids adore but they make you feel like stabbing kittens?

Amy: Callou, but they don't watch that anymore. My Little Pony. The voices, the story lines, the repetition and the fact that my kids watch it all. the. time. But I really shouldn’t complain about any cartoon. It’s not like I’m watching it, or even hearing it for that matter, and anything that keeps those kids from crawling up my ass is aces in my book.


Johi: Do you have a mentor or an idol? Who is it and what about that person inspires you?
Amy: The people I most admire all fit the same mold. They are women who speak the truth with love or a healthy dose of humor. Usually both. Eleanor Roosevelt, my oldest friend, Tina Fey, Mother Teresa, my mother-in-law, Amy Poehler, and Mindy Kaling are a few examples. Strong, brave women make the world go round.

Johi: Which celebrity is your "free pass"?

Amy: Ben Affleck

Johi: You're going to have to fight Ashley for him. I'll bring the video camera.
What is your favorite essay in I Just Want to Pee Alone?

Amy: Meredith Spidel's "Love, Tears and a Few Scattered Ashes". I loved Meredith's essay because my dad died almost five years ago, and it was the most horrifying experience of my life. Despite that grief and shock, or maybe because of it, I felt nurtured, loved, and supported. I reconnected with people I hadn't seen in years, I laughed harder than I ever have, and I know that my dad is happy to know that through our tears, we truly celebrated his life.

Honestly, asking me to pick a favorite essay is like asking me to pick a favorite child, because it depends on my mood. If I'm missing my dad, or laughing irreverently, it's Meredith’s. If I'm wondering what my daughter is thinking when she sees me naked, it's "The Big Reveal" by Jessica Watson. If I'm wishing we would remember to put a lock on our bedroom door, it's "Don't Stop Believin'" by Michelle Newman. If I'm judging another family's choices when it comes to procreation, it's "The Other Mommy War" by Nicole Leigh Shaw.

When I finally take my kids to Disneyworld, I'll think of Karen Alpert, and if I ever accidentally eat shit I'll be like, "Oh, that's what Patti Ford was talking about.


Check out more of Amy on her fabulous blog, Funny is Family. I also stalk her on Facebook. Be sure to buy your copy of I Just Want to Pee Alone for Mother's Day so that you can read Amy's fabulous and funny essay!

Monday, April 22, 2013

BITCH

Ugly. Vain. Stupid. Geek. Snotty. Dumb Blonde. Hick. Stuck Up. Farmer. "Artsy". Whore. Frigid. Idiot. Brainy. Hard Core. Flaky. Sheltered. Coarse. Shy. Obnoxious. Fat. Skinny.

I've been called a lot of names throughout my life. Most of those names contradict another label that someone else has also pinned on me. A few of them are slightly irritating, much like a sock that is working its way off your foot while nestled deep in your cozy warm snow boot. Some of them are degrading. Others are merely laughable. But really, they are simply WORDS formed by another person; usually an insecure person with issues of their own. In my 38 years, I've learned to let most of those hollow words roll off my shoulders. I refuse to give those derogatory words or their bearers any power. While holding my martini in one hand, I raise my sloppily manicured finger with the other. You can decide on the finger...

Yet there is one name, one particular word that actually fills me with strength. This word is usually uttered after I have stood up for something in which I believe. It is carelessly thrown at me for merely speaking with conviction. For those reasons, I wear the title like a badge of honor. I treat it with respect, in much the same way that I consider the scars on my skin; they are a map of things you've done and places you've been. (Thank you, Edie Brickell, for that beautiful nugget).

That title is Bitch.




In a society where women are all to often expected to keep their tongue, mind their manners, follow the rules and be a lady; I am often the "rogue bitch" in the room. I'm not trying, I swear. It just happens.


Fuck dessert forks, panty hose and curtsies. I only have this one life and I am living it loud and proud.

On second thought, I like dessert forks.

Don't get me wrong. I attempt to be nice to others. In fact, I'm a lover with a (mostly) kind heart. I thoroughly enjoy smearing goodness and light all around me. Yet... I don't tolerate bullshit and I usually have an opinion that I enjoy sharing, if the situation warrants that opinion. I also am fairly organized (stop laughing) and have no problem being in charge. A lot of people perceive that as bitchiness. Okay. Go ahead and call me a bitch. I stand my ground. Deal with it or go somewhere that you can't see or hear me (like out the door).


According to (my favorite) Urban Dictionary definition, a "Bitch" is:

A woman that: 

A) Will have sex with everybody, but you. 
B) Won't do (what you in your feeble mind) want her to. 
C) You work for, that tells you what to do, and you don't like it. 
D) A successful woman. 





My sister is also a strong woman with a head for business. Like me, she doesn't back down on issues that are important to her. Also like me, if something is important to her, it is because she has put a good deal of thought into it. I'm talking hours, weeks or even months. We are not the type to just snag onto random ideas and hold them tight. There is usually massive amounts of reason behind our honored thoughts and ideas. It's how we were raised (even if it was an accident). It's who we are. Even though neither of us really have a filter, we happen to like ourselves and each other, no matter what you say.

Don't worry, all of the exits are clearly marked.

For better understanding, let's look again at another definition of the word bitch. According to Dictionary.com:


bitch

  [bich]
noun
1.
a female dog: The bitch won first place in the sporting dogs category.
2.
a female of canines generally.


This makes sense to me. My sister and I grew up with dogs. We always had at least three running around on the property. Here is what our female dogs were like:

1. Fiercely loyal.
2. Protective of our family.
3. Loved riding in pick up trucks.
4. Bacon eaters.
5. Smart and sassy.
6. Stubborn.
7. Would sometimes fight with each other, usually over food or the good spot on the couch, but they would always forgive.

Also, those bitches would bite the shit out of any male dog that made unwanted advances. Then they would run them clean off the damn property.

Image from:
http://sybilleyates.hubpages.com/hub/How-do-you-deal-with-a-food-agressive-dog_


Yep. Bitches.

I OWN THAT TITLE. You should own it too, if it suits you.
Are you still unsure? Here's another handy definition:


Bitch, defined by The Corn Fed Girl (me, in case you forgot where you are):
1.) A woman in charge.
2.) A woman with a strong opinion that differs from yours. The difference is that hers is correct.
3.) The "lesbian" that is currently ignoring the advances of that drunk guy.
4.) Someone possessing both great shoes, a sharp mind and quick wit.
5.) Me and most of my friends.


Don't back down, my fellow bitches! Keep on rockin'! Your opinion matters because YOU ARE STRONG, YOU ARE SMART and YOU ARE IMPORTANT.

Plus, I like your shoes.

I dedicate this song to my sister and all the other mouthy bitches that I know and love. You know who you are.
P.S. I really want a woman to record this. Someone like Sheryl Crow. When I say "Someone like Sheryl Crow", I mean Sheryl Crow. Please record this song, Sheryl Crow.


Peace, Love and Standing My Ground since 1975,
Johi

Friday, April 19, 2013

TMI Fridays: Ninja Mom Blog


TMI Fridays: Ninja Mom Blog

I'm back with the popular series of TMI Fridays, where I grill other bloggers with wildly inappropriate thought-provoking questions in the style of "just chatting over a shared jug of moonshine". Today's victim is Nicole Leigh Shaw of Ninja Mom Blog. Like so many other successful love stories, Nicole and I met via the internet because of our mutual affiliation with the book, I Just Want to Pee Alone. I'm honored to be in a book with so many funny and skilled writers, and Nicole is one of my favorites with her essay titled "The Other Mommy War". 

I don't care what my mom says, the Internet is full of amazing people, and Nicole is one of the incredible ones. Plus, she's a Ninja, and Ninjas (Ninji?) are awesome.



If we ever meet in person, I envision our encounter involving a flowery meadow, an open armed running hug, a bottle of $9.99 wine, some hummus and Ross Perot.  

I talked with Nicole of Ninja Mom while she was on a daring combination of Vicadin and Antihistamines for “a cold” of some sort. I don’t know whether it was the drugs or her regular personality, but Ms. Shaw is truly funny and charming. We chatted for an hour and a half as if we had known each other for years. Like, we would totally be friends if she didn't live approximately 1,143 miles away from me. 

My favorite part of our conversation is that we chose a Sunday, when our husbands would be home to “watch” our carpet monkeys, thus allowing us a bit of time to focus while speaking. Ah, focus. How I miss you so.  To add emphasis, we even informed our husbands of this arrangement!  Yet, during our conversation, my unattended two year old fell off his tricycle, traumatizing him and causing me to run to the rescue. Later, Nicole’s three year old had a “bathroom emergency” on the kitchen floor, which Nicole mopped up while answering my probing questions.

Ahhh. Thanks husbands! You guys are neat!


Nicole is a busy mom of four, a Children’s Leader at Church and a self-proclaimed “Moralizer of the Mundane”. She has lived in a variety of places, including New Jersey, Boston, North Carolina, Georgia and Indiana. She has been writing for years, starting as a newspaper reporter and then a production editor for academic journals she was not qualified to look at, let alone edit. Glycobiology, anyone? She states that now she is “…finally the writer I wanted to be.”

Cornfed Note: Nicole has been known to "cuss" but,  because, "Hi Nicole's mother-in-law, aunts, uncles and anyone related to her by blood and marriage!" she chooses to do so only sparingly online. But she wants you to know that doesn't mean she's a douche-wienie.



Nicole is clearly a more caring person than I am, because here is what I have to say to my own family, "Hi everyone! I refuse to apologize for my crass ways. I like me just the way I am. I read Fifty Shades of Grey and the only thing that shocked me was the a millionaire couldn't operate a microwave without burning himself. I also like martinis with two, if not three, olives."

Moving on...

Johi: What made you want to become a writer and is that what you want to be when you grow up?

Nicole:  I originally wanted to be an artist, and by originally I mean age 5, but I couldn't do hands. I thought, never mind, this is hard. Hands suck. I knew that even at 5.

Later, I was always writing. During my high school career, I wrote some articles in the school literary magazine. One was a poem about suicide that included a reference to the Princess and the Pea and culminated in the line "I cut it out, I cut, I cut." I should mention I'd never been suicidal because I believed every sadness could be removed with a solid nap, so that was lame. But what little writing I did earned me a fan girl named Amy. It was nice to have the vote of confidence from someone. Thanks Amy! Naps not suicide!

Johi: How did you come up with “Ninja Mom”?

Nicole: I wanted it to be pithy. Now, I think it is trite. Ninjas were ‘in’ two years ago. I also wrote a Ninja Mom parody of the Spiderman song. It was my first post.

Johi: I still like ninjas. Sometimes I tell people I’m a Ninja. I’d take a Ninja over a zombie any day.
Have you always enjoyed making people laugh?

Nicole: Yes, definitely. I've always enjoyed making people laugh. I do love being an audience.

Johi: You have four kids, including a set of twins, which makes me wonder: what do you miss most about your pre-pregnancy body?

Nicole: I don’t remember it. I miss the memory of my pre-pregnancy body. I miss the opportunity to have taken naked pictures. Also, I liked being pregnant. I liked having that area filled out.

Johi: If you could have one perfect moment of your life to experience again, what would it be and why?

Nicole: My honeymoon in Barbados.

I feel badly that I am not picking the kids because the kids are great...

But in Barbados, my husband and I made a band of friends on the beach. I was being loud and chatty one morning while we were all lounging on the sand. A man, who was not in our group, singled me out and was angry at me for messing with his nap. I've always been self-conscious about the fact that I talk a lot, so he really upset me. I cried when he took off for a fresh drink.

My new husband came back in the meantime and as I slathered sunblock on him I told him what happened. Halfway through my story and the slathering, the mean guy came back. I pointed him out to my husband. My husband got in that guy's face, half covered in white sunblock, like a damn mental patient, and told that guy where to stick his drink umbrella. In that moment, every choice I'd made about my marriage and my future felt validated. I was hopeful… then I had to live with him. He never puts anything in the laundry.

Johi: It must be a man thing.
Hey, look at that! It’s GAME TIME!
Today, we are playing: Marry, *Dirty Tango* or Kill
Here are your choices: Danny DeVito, Joe Pesci, Vanilla Ice.

Nicole: This is terrible! Oh, I have to *gag* vomit. I have to think of this strategically.
Danny DeVito: Marry... before he and Rea Pearlman get back together.
Joe Pesci: Kill. Duh.
Vanilla Ice: I would time travel to 1994 or earlier and melt that Ice Ice Baby.

Johi: This was so much fun, let’s play another round! Your choices are: Hugh Heffner, Larry King and Ross Perot.

Nicole:

Hugh Heffner: I would marry him for the money and then he would probably buy me a nice body.
Larry King: Kill before he marries again.
Ross Perot: I'd hug him laying down. He is so sincere. I would ruin him.

Johi: What is your favorite of all time in these categories: Book, Movie, Band, TV show, Food, Drink and Curseword? Go.

Nicole: 

Book: I've read Little Women more than any other book. It resonated every time.
Movie: I quote “Ghostbusters” all the time because my intellectual maturity stopped at 12.
Band: The Barenaked Ladies. "Yoko Ono" is my favorite feel good song.
TV Show: New Girl. I’m obsessed with Jake Johnson who plays Nick, the sloppy unaccomplished bartender. I would ruin him like I would Ross Perot.
Food: Beans. Hummus. Other beans. I have a healthy colon.
Drink: Any wine under $10.
Curseword: Offline I'll lay out my favorite curses you can't say on network television. But my new favorite pseudo-curse is "Aw, nutcracks!" It was invented by my 5-year-old, Beans.

Johi: What is your favorite essay in I Just Want to Pee Alone?

Nicole: "The Naked Starfish", written by Kim Bongiorno of Let Me Just Start By Saying. She is the best euphemizer and the Metaphor Queen, such as “Smacked in the cookie” and “the great divide”.

Johi: Is there anything else that you need to get off your chest?

Nicole: Unwanted hair. Oh, you weren't being literal? Never mind. I have nothing else.



Nicole's tagline on facebook is, "All of my kids are still breathing. Award please."

Read more of Nicole on her hilarious blog, Ninja Mom Blog. She writes for NickMom and Bonbon Break, among many other websites. You can also find her lurking around on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and of course in the best selling anthology I Just Want to Pee Alone.  

She does all of this while raising four kids under the age of 8 and maintaining her sense of humor, people...and I'm tired just typing out her accomplishments. She really DOES deserve an award. 




Thursday, April 18, 2013

Little Talks with Brock and the Boys

Conversations with my family...
Yes. They happen.
Here is what was said in our house this evening.

Earlier tonight, when I was curling my hair with hot rollers:

Thing 1: Whoa! YOU LOOK LIKE A DINOSAUR!



Then when Brock came home, I was getting dressed to flee the house meet a friend:

Me: Ugh. I've gained some weight and it all went to my ass. None of my skirts fit.

Brock: You look the same to me.

Me, feeling frustrated while struggling into a pair of jeans: Do these jeans look okay?

Brock: Yeah! They are nice and tight!

Me: ....


Then later I was trying to figure out how to wear a shawl that my Aunt B gave to me when I was visiting:


Me, out loud but to myself: How should I wear this?

Brock: I don't know. It's been awhile since I've worn one of those.

Me: ...

This is how I styled it,
with my tight frickin' jeans,
in case you were wondering.

Later, all the boys joined me in my room while I was grabbing my purse:

Thing 1, looking around: Why do you guys have TWO dressers?

Brock: Mommy doesn't have just TWO, she has THREE! And Daddy gets a small portion of this one!

Me: Mommy likes clothes. Okay?

Thing 1: But why does she need SO MANY?

Brock: You'll find out soon enough.


Then Thing 2 disappeared into his room, where he began chanting:

Easter Egg, Easter EGG, EASTER EGG!!!!!

Me to Brock: Oh yeah, I put the Easter decorations in the boys room so that you could easily put them in the attic tonight. *like I asked him to do two weeks ago and now I refuse to do because of principle, and also because I'm an asshole*

Brock, drinking a beer: Huh?

Me: I hear someone chanting about eggs. It could get messy. I have to go now.

I did not know that my husband could move that fast.



Peace, Love and Unicorns,
Johi


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Disgruntled Traveler's Guide to a Successful Trip.

While I LOVE getting away from the piles of laundry and endless cleaning home and seeing new places, the whole traveling bit is not my favorite. It's not that I'm afraid to fly, drive, boat or even bike, it's just that traveling, while an essential part of "vacation", can be rather stressful.

The expense is taxing.
The organization it requires is just one more thing that I don't have time for.
The dictated precise timing of it all is enough to make me lose sleep.

Yet, the absolute worst part of an excursion is that expectation to follow rules, and there is nothing I hate more than being told what to do by someone in a poly-blend uniform.

In fact, I'm not big on authority in general. Don't tell my kids.

Aside from sex and martinis, the lack of people telling me what to do is possibly the best part of my adult life. Sure, my children and pets demand things like food and water and I attempt to obey the speed limit, but other than that, I pretty much do what I want. Call it what you will; I call it my gift.

This distaste for authority is only one of the reasons why I hate to fly.

I don't mind the actual plane ride. I'm not bothered by turbulence. I can tolerate the cramped seats. Crying babies have no effect on me.

The airports and airport security are another story.

So is the whole process of "getting there".

Once you have spent three days packing and unpacking, trying to take all that you need while keeping your suitcase the proper weight and dimensions, you next have to travel to travel.

After leaving home three hours before your scheduled flight and driving an hour in six lanes of heavy traffic, you enter the perimeter of the airport. Navigating the roads, traffic and signs at DIA is like sprinting barefoot through a living room full of bowling balls, legos and air horns while trying to read an instruction manual. To park, you have to possess either stellar luck or well-honed aggressive, whippy-driver skills. It doesn't help when the vehicle you are attempting to park is a pick-up truck, which is often like cramming an entire watermelon into a wormhole.

Once parked for $11 per day in Siberia, thus dragging my 49 pounds of shit that I may or may not need for 14 miles through the seedy parking garage, the last thing I need is to be instructed to remove my shoes, interrogated and x-rayed. But, if you are lucky enough to get through your check point successfully, that is precisely what happens next. The last time I booked a flight, I was pulled aside and scolded because I had too many skin and hair care products. Apparently the airlines don't give a rat's ass how much shit this albino needs to look presentable for society.

Then you are herded onto escalators, trains and more escalators, where you are finally deposited to a place where you can buy the formerly forbidden water and snacks for approximately half a day's wages. You next will find your gate, where you get to cozy up with a stranger and try not to think about how much you have to pee because you will need to drag all that crap that was absolutely imperative to your trip survival into the bathroom. "Hurry up and wait" seems to be one of America's favorite past times, and the airport is a prime location for that game.

Once on the plane, you just pray that your seat mate isn't that one particularly odoriferous man that kept hacking up phlegm and talking to himself.

All of this, and the sky high (excuse the pun) flight rate, is why I chose to take a train back to Iowa last weekend for my cousin's wedding. I know what you are thinking... "The TRAIN? Really? Isn't that just a long bus?"

Not if you do it right, my friend. Not if you do it right.

I arrived unnecessarily early (25 minutes before the train arrived) and parked for free. I decided to go into the train station to use the facilities. I locked my bags in my truck and walked the entire 20 feet to the station. Upon entering, I saw a man rushing his crying and coughing young daughter to the bathroom. His shirt was completely covered in her vomit, which was very unfortunate for him, but no problem for me! There were other bathrooms to be discovered. I simply turned around, walked out the door and went to the gas station across the tracks, where I bought a bottle of water and a pack of gum for a total of $3.00. Then I returned to the platform and waited for my locomotive.

The train arrived, I handed a man in a hat my ticket, and he showed me to my room. I sat in silence and typed a story into my computer for an hour before deciding I was tired. A pleasant attendant then made up my bed. Later, while the railcar zoomed through Nebraska in the middle of the night, I locked the door, adjusted the custom temperature settings, plugged in my phone and was lulled to sleep by the clickety clack of the tracks. I slept like a log on the bed in my roomette. It was awesome. AWESOME.

In a leisurely fashion the next morning, I woke up, showered, dressed and had a tasty breakfast with a charming older couple before I reached my destination.





No lines. No x-rays. No product whoring accusations. No one stealing my shit while I slept. No problem.

Any and all shoe removal was entirely voluntary.



The train is old-fashioned and comfortable. It is neither stressful nor imposing. If you buy a sleeper room, you can bring your own drinks and snacks, even wine, if you desire. The travel is low key, the people are mostly friendly and you get to go through the entire state of Nebraska with your head on a pillow. (Sorry, Nebraska, but I've seen plenty of you in my life.) Aside from my broom, my horse, my hoover craft or my jet pack, the train is my favorite way to travel.



My only advice is to upgrade to the sleeper. It's totally worth it.

Oh, and to leave your kids at home with your husband. That really helps make the travel more relaxing, too.

Peace, Love and Choo Choos,
Johi

P.S. When I returned home, Thing 2 asked, "DID YOU RIDE GORDON OR PERCY?" I told him it was Spencer, and then I ate him with a spoon.

P.P.S. I also arrived home to this:

Happy Spring.
I duped you idiots again.
Love, Colorado













Saturday, April 6, 2013

Things Heard 'Round My House Today

Me to Brock: Do you think I'm high maintenance?

Brock: No.

Me: Seriously, this isn't a trick question.

Brock: You're not high maintenance, you're just a pain in the ass.





Thing 2: Mom! WOOK! I did a puzzle! A Winnie the Pooh puzzle!

Me: Awesome little buddy! Sit by it and make a thumbs up! I'll take your picture!

Thing 2: *holds up pointer finger*

Me: This is how you make a thumbs up! *I show him how to hold up thumb only*

Thing 2: *see picture below*


Me: This is why I am not an educator.




Thing 1: Where is Grandma M?

Me: In Iowa.

Thing 1: WHERE is she?

Me: At her home. In Iowa.

Thing 1: What does she DO there?

Me: She's retired.

Thing 1: What is she retired of?




Me to Brock: What's that smell? I thought you showered.

Brock: I did.

Me: Seriously, something smells bad.

Brock: It's not me. I showered.

Me: No. Really. I smell something. It's wrong.

Brock: I don't know.

Me: *gag* My nostril hairs feel singed.

Brock: Oh. That. It's probably the gasoline on my hands.



Thing 1: I have hiccups.

Thing 2: Oh, I WUV HICCUPS!



Thing 2, singing: The cheese stands awone. The cheese stands awone. THE CHEESE. STANDS. AWOOOONE. 

Me: I don't know why the cheese is so special that it gets to stand alone. I can't even pee alone.



Did you guys know that there is this incredibly funny, best selling book called I Just Want to Pee Alone? It's true. I'm one of the authors! You can buy a copy at Amazon, or enter to win a copy here!

There is also a new blog called I Just Want to Pee Alone for any and all funny mother bloggers to showcase their hilarity. Pop on over, take a look and submit your favorite story!

Have a wonderful weekend.

Peace, Love and Unicorns,
Johi









Friday, April 5, 2013

TMI Fridays: The Dose of Reality

TMI Friday!

Today I am talking with Lisa and Ashley from The Dose of Reality. You know when you stalk people for a while on the Internet and you know that you like them, then one day you get to talk to them on the travel phone and your like grows to something that is so much bigger, and it feels all warm and fuzzy and tingly? I'm just going to say it, I love these women.

Lisa is in the lead, eating all the bugs, Ashley is riding drag.


I can see the headlines now:

CORN FED GIRL INVOLVED IN A TORRID LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE STUNNING DUO FROM THE DOSE OF REALITY! 


Lisa and Ashley grabbed their Starbucks and sat around Lisa's kitchen table just like they do when they write a blog post, except this time with me on speaker phone. After an hour of casual chatting where I asked my usual ridiculous questions, I learned that both women came into SAHM/ Blogland via the medical field. Also both women are pleasantly Type A and hilarious. These two women are a match made in friend heaven. Seriously. They complete each other. I'm not sure who is the yin and who is the yang, but Ashley and Lisa go together like peas and carrots. Listening to them play off each other made me want a bloggy partner. I'm currently taking applications.

Johi: What made you decide to become Stay at Home Moms?

Lisa: I really believe that women can have it all. For me though, I couldn't have it all at the same time. Personally, I could not figure out how to be fully immersed in every aspect of my life all at once. I felt like I needed to pick between my career (Internal Medicine Primary Physician) and my family. It was surprising that I choose family because I had spent my whole life working toward the goal of becoming a physician. In fact, when I was younger, I didn't even know if I wanted to get married or have kids. In the end, staying at home was the best decision for my family. I've been successful so far, but we'll see how my kids turn out.

Johi: You know what they say, you are only as successful as your most screwed up kid. It doesn't matter if one is a doctor, if the other is in jail, everyone is judging you based on Little Miss Mugshot.

Lisa: *laughs* Brilliant!

Johi: Just true.

Ashley: I was never as committed to my career as Lisa. Probably because I am fundamentally lazy. But I was really good at my job (Post Op/Orthopedic/Operating Room Registered Nurse) and worked it part time after the birth of my oldest. When she turned two, I was going to be required to work every other Christmas and I decided to leave so that I could be with my kids full time. Also, I am easily annoyed. I don't really like people. It turns out that I would have rather played a nurse on TV.

Johi: That is understandable. How did you ladies meet?

Ashley: We were young... we needed the money...
Actually, we met through the annual school car raffle.

Johi: What kind of a car? A clown car? Does it run?

Ashley: It is as bad as it sounds. What we didn't realize is that we also knew each other from a High Drama Mommy Board (online forum).

Lisa: We used pseudonyms online, but we had similar thoughts on things. I recognized her as good people.

Johi: What made you decide to start a blog together?

Lisa: When we did the car raffle together, we discovered that we have a similar work ethic. Also, our strengths and faults balance out. We share a level of intensity. It would be a crime if we didn't take advantage of our connection.

Ashley: I started blogging. Lisa was helping in the background. She was the wind beneath my wings. We both watched reality TV and she would send me hilarious recaps of the shows in emails. I threatened to post them.

Lisa: She blackmailed me. I said that I would just do the TV stuff. But the funny is unstoppable.

Ashley: Now we duo... dual... co?.. we blog together. It's like we have the Wonder Twin Powers. Lisa has the "Zhuzzing" power, and the graphics.

Lisa: It's true, I'm the PicMonkey queen.

Ashley: There is nothing on our blog that isn't a little bit of both of us. I don't know how people do it alone.

Johi: I just hit publish and ignore all the typos and tense issues. I need "Zhuzzing". I need a Lisa.
Moving on. What is your favorite food/drink combo?

Lisa: I have a Starbuck's addiction. When I walk in the door, they start my order Venti Skinny Cinnamon Dulce Latte and an oatmeal.

Ashley: Venti Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate with a ham and cheddar artisian sandwich.

Johi: Now I'm hungry and craving a latte. 
Okay, so we are going to play a little game called Pick A Team!
Team Jennifer Aniston or Anjelina Jolie?
Both: Jolie.
Johi: I don't think I can be friends with you anymore.
Katie Holmes or Tom Cruise?
Both: Katie Holmes.
Johi: Team Jacob or Team Edward?
Ashley: I didn't read Twilight.
Lisa: Based on the books: Edward. Based on his body in the last two movies: Jacob.
Johi: Team Peeta or Gale?
Both: Peeta.
Johi: Really???? I guess I go for the lumberjack type. Gale is HOT. 
Team Big or Aidan?
Both: Aidan.
Johi: Team Charlie Sheen or the Entire Human Race?
Both: Human Race.
Johi: Team Rhianna or Chris Brown?
Ashley: Charlie Sheen?
Johi: New Kids on the Block or N'Sync?
Both: Eh, neither.
Johi: What about Marky Mark or Justin Timberlake in a dance off?
Both: Yes. Shirtless.
Johi: I concur.
Team The Pope or McJagger?
Both: McJagger.
Johi: Team 90210 or Melrose Place?
Ashley: 90210.
Lisa: I didn't watch those shows.
Johi: Lisa is too highbrow. She was probably too busy watching Saved By The Bell (or becoming a doctor or some shit).

Johi: If you were on Wife Swap, who would you swap households with?

Ashley: Jennifer Garner, with fringe benefits.

Johi: Like waxing Ben's back?

Ashley: Or other benefits.

Lisa: Alexander Skaarsgard isn't married.... so Michelle Obama. She could really organize my house and get it into ship shape. Then she could give me some wardrobe and gardening advice. Plus, her kids would be easy, they've already been raised well.

Johi: What are your guilty pleasures?

Lisa: The problem is, I don't feel guilty or embarrassed about anything.

Johi: Ha! What is your guilty pleasure song?

Ashley: Total Eclipse of the Heart.

Lisa: Call Me Maybe.

Johi: What is your guilty pleasure TV Show?

Both: The Bachelor- only because the truly awful Bachelor Pad has been cancelled for the summer.

Johi: I've watched that. It is horrible and yet, you can't look away.
What is your guilty pleasure food?

Ashley: Cold (frozen) milk chocolate candy.

Lisa: Popcorn, movie theater style.

Johi: Butter or no butter?

Lisa: No butter.

Johi: Thank you. Wet butter on popcorn makes me feel like I am eating popcorn that has already been in someone else's mouth. 

Lisa: Exactly.

Johi: What is your favorite essay in I Just Want to Pee Alone?

Both: Karen Alpert of Baby Sideburns' "I Love Disney World. Wait, No. That Whole Title is a Typo." We've each been to Disney when our own kids were that age. We totally commiserated with her.


If you want to read more of the Wonder Twin Power duo of Lisa and Ashley, visit their blog, The Dose of Reality . They are also on Facebook, just like everyone else you know! These fabulous ladies co-penned "The Husbands Who Cried Wolf-itis" in the best selling book I Just Want to Pee Alone. Buy it today on Amazon !







Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Oh, Easter Bunny, you cheap bastard.

The Easter Bunny was on a very tight budget this year. There would be no adorable $25 stuffed animals from Pier One, no hard cover Easter books and no gourmet jelly beans from the expensive downtown candy store. The damn budget was so tight, in fact, that the sad-sack Bunny shopped at The Dollar Tree for the Easter goodies. After a mere 12 minutes of pushing a wobbly shopping cart down isles filled with canned green beans and off-brand packaged food, Hoppity Hopalong scored enough Easter shit to fill two baskets for $21! It was a success!

Do you know what wasn't a success? The two bags of cheap ass "milk chocolate" eggs. I put chocolate in quotes because I'm not convinced that the waxy ball of yuck that I shoved in my cramhole while filling the Easter Baskets was actually chocolate. I'm not entirely certain that said soapy brown egg was even an FDA approved food product.

Peta Cottontail even bought two bags of that crap. That's two entire dollars in the trash.

This choco-nono is clearly a disaster. The whole point of Easter candy is the act of gifting it to the children, then the parental duty of stealing the candy! This is not an display of selfishness, this a your parental obligation to protect Junior's precious teeth and control any Code Red energy level situations.

I cannot, with a clear conscience, steal and eat crappy candy. That is why I am simply throwing it away, which made the whole stupid frugal act of shopping and saving at The Dollar Tree a bit useless.

*Sigh*

At least you can't screw up jelly beans. So there's that.

Easter Bunny even hid an entire bag of jelly beans in the pantry, just for ole Ma and Pa Wagner. The Big White Hare is forgiven, but not that one that grows out of my chin mole; that asshole and I have some shit to figure out.

Peace, Love and Big White Hares,
Johi





Monday, April 1, 2013

The Key to The Knowing

As a wide eyed youth, I thought womanhood was a mysterious door that would suddenly spring open and present me with a key to "knowing". "Knowing" about what, I was not certain. I just knew that I would one day KNOW.

As an awkward farm-grown albino girl that spent the majority of her time wearing mud boots and chore clothes, I was too often mistaken for a boy. Therefore, I spent an embarrassing amount of time daydreaming about becoming someone who was always recognized as a female. Not just a female, a woman. Well, not a woman, but a lady. I have a foggy memory of a discussion with my mother about the difference between a "woman" and a "lady". The word "class" was in there somewhere and Mom probably mentioned church.  There was a brief talk about hourly rated motels, dirty language, alcohol, smoking and sleazy attire. Then we had a follow-up discussion about the difference between "hotels" and "motels". Unfortunately, none of that stuff really stuck because I was too busy fantasizing about Kirk Cameron, attempting to apply mascara without stabbing myself in the eye and wondering how I could get my bangs to stand up really high. (Aqua Net, the answer to that question is always Aqua Net.) My takeaway on the subject is that "women" like to wear red lipstick and drink hard liquor. Looking at my liver and my extensive lipstick collection, all I can say is "Sorry Mom."

Fortunately, to my knowledge (some of my twenties is pretty hazy), I've yet to check into a rent by the hour motel room.

Long (LONG LONG LONG) ago, when I lounged in my tween bedroom on my brown corduroy comforter (what else do you put in a room with blaze orange carpeting?), I would flip through the tantalizing pages of Sassy magazine. While looking at the pictures of 80's fashion and general fabulousity, I would often fantasize about my future life as a grown woman. As far as I knew, the magical entry to womanhood was marked at first by menstruation, then boobs, then by the ability to walk in heels. After I gracefully mastered my fully developed body, I would drink coffee, get an incredible job, travel the world, marry the perfect sophisticated man, then finally have sex. We would have beautiful babies and I would magically start enjoying children!

In addition to all of this, I would own the potion for sensuality, sexiness, fashion sense, and culture. I was prepared for all of this!
What I was not prepared for was the salary of a stay at home mom. Or such a strong disinterest in cooking... and laundry... and cleaning my house... and sometimes showering...and often, men, more accurately hardworking ones wearing clothes from Walmart with drywall over them.

While I do love coffee and can menstruate like no other, the rest of my vision was bunk. My boobs never "came in". While I love and can walk in heels, teetering around in fabulous shoes while holding a toddler throwing a tantrum not only looks ridiculous, it is detrimental to my health. Currently, my most worn pair of shoes are brown fleece slippers. After meeting the demands of two needy children all day while trying to prepare nutritious meals (that they will actually eat) and keeping the house moderately clean, I have the sensuality of a pissed on fire hydrant. I'm always cold, so my winter "sexy pajama" wardrobe consists primarily of men's flannels pants and thermal shirts. Meow. To top off my complete vision of loveliness, I watch shitty reality TV while drinking cheap wine from the box and eating inexpensive chocolate purchased in stores where people shop for engine oil and paint. There must be some mistake. I think I accidentally got a key to the boiler room of a rat infested mental institution where the patients all hoard banana peels, legos and dirty socks. What I did NOT get the key to was my fabulous Manhattan apartment with original artwork on the walls and a tray that is always full of delicious martinis.


While my child self imagined my adult self having a family, I did not expect the true reality of motherhood, which we all know is bodily fluids. Snot, vomit, drool, tears, urine, blood and most importantly, poop. Growing up on a farm did educate me about scooping poop, but mostly inoffensive horse manure. I did not expect to be doing quite so much pooper scoopering in the prime of my womanhood. I currently clean up the excrement of two dogs, two ponies, one disgusting cat and two adorable children. I also faithfully clean my own poo, bird poo from my vehicle and both of the toilets in our shoe box of a house. I look forward to the day that the "distinguished" older man that I married is wearing Depends, and I get to clean his poo, too. In fact, I am officially a poo expert. This is such an unexpected honor of adulthood/motherhood. I was anticipating much more red lipstick and stilettos and much less fecal matter. So so much less fecal matter.

So so so much less brown, fragrant excrement.

So what I'm saying is that my adulthood is not quite what I had imagined it to be when I was as starry eyed 12 year old, and faithfully watched Primetime television like Solid Gold and Charlie's Angels. My current life is so much more "Rosanne" than "Dallas". But hey, I can have sex whenever I want to (pretty much never), I can legally drink alcohol (but only after 5, lest I be judged) and I get to go to bed whenever I want (as long as my children allow me). 

The silver lining to my womanhood is that I actually did acquire "the knowing". I know that , despite all of this "poop", that I love my life. I have a wonderful husband who makes me laugh and encourages my nonsense. I know myself, and I respect and love who I am as a person. I know what and whom I like. I am beyond blessed to get to know the kind of love that only a mother can when she first holds her newborn baby in her arms. I know that the moments with my children made of sheer happiness, joy and delight make all the trials and tribulations of being a parent totally worth it. I know what I want to be when I really grow up, and the kind of influence that I want to have on the world. I also know that my journey is still developing, and that if I marry for money the next time (with the help of a plastic surgeon), my chest will finally develop, too.

 Ah, fuck it. I'll keep my carpenter, my messy house, my noisy kids and my flat chest. I know how to laugh at life. That's my key.

What's yours?