Friday, September 27, 2013

TMI Fridays: Hollow Tree Ventures

Today, in the TMI Friday spotlight, is Robyn Welling of Hollow Tree Ventures. Robyn is funny as shit, and everyone knows that shit is funny. She is a writer, a wife, a mother of "three [that] burst from my loins, [and] two more [that] burst from my second marriage" and all that other stuff that women get to be. She writes about a variety of topics on her blog and around the Internet with wit, intelligence and humor. I always enjoy reading Robyn's words.




Like every good love story, Robyn and I met on an Internet chat room. Sort of. Is Facebook a chat room? We were two of 36 who co-authored the anthology I Just Want to Pee Alone. Robyn's story, "Babies: Easy as 1, 2, 3!" made me laugh out loud. Then we met in person, where I discovered that Robyn is also very striking and gloriously tall. 

I think that Robyn is the bee's knees. Plus, she sent me the following picture and said, "I attached a photo of a drawing my daughter made, which you should in no way feel needs to be included in the interview - I just saw it in my photos folder next to my headshot and thought, 'If anyone will appreciate a child's drawing that looks like a cowboy crapping out a horse, it's Johi.'"

You're correct, Robyn. I very much appreciate the drawing and of course I'm including it.




Art. It's a beautiful thing.


Johi: How did your writing career begin?
Robyn: Holy crap, I have a writing career?!? Oh yeah, I guess I do, a fact that surprises me pretty much every day. It all started with the decision to start a blog - no, scratch that, it started with the decision to Google "what is a blog?" and then start one. I had no plan or clue whatsoever. I still don't.



Johi: What are your short-range and long-range goals with writing?
Robyn: I'm not much of a planner (clearly), but my short- and long-range goals are the same - to be able to support myself on an income from publishing stuff that's fun to write. I don't think I'm organized enough to be any more particular than that, so if something even remotely close to that happens, I'll be happy. My preference, of course, would for that to happen in a time frame closer to "short-range," and for the writing to happen in some remote log cabin (with WiFi!).

Johi: If you could pick one person to rub suntan lotion on your back, who would it be and why?
Boring but true: I'd pick my husband, because he's the sexiest man I've ever met. And also because he'd chain me to a post in the basement if I named anyone else.

Johi: What movie/person/thing scared the shit out of you as a child?
Robyn: Only *everything* scared me - Freddy Krueger, all his creepy maniacal ax-wielding friends, Pet Cemetery, the children's book Angus Lost, the very real possibility that we were going to be A-bombed by the Russians at any moment, fire drills, the very real possibility that my cat was going to suck my breath out while I was sleeping... I might have watched too many movies when I was a kid.

Johi: Where do you hide the good food in your house and how do you eat it without being caught?
Robyn: TOP SECRET: I'll tell you this because I love you, but if my kids ever find out I'll know who told them! The secret cookies, gum, candy and other goodies are in the back of the dining room pantry, on the highest shelf I can reach - there's also an emergency stash of Fruity Mike-N-Ike's on the bookshelf in the living room. I have been known to go to extremes, up to and including hiding in the shower (link: http://www.hollowtreeventures.com/2012/10/you-should-be-ashamed.html), to keep all that sugary deliciousness to myself. You know, out of concern for my kids' dental health, of course.



Johi: If you could only pick one of the following experiences, which would you choose and why: Having a Groundhog Day experience, always smelling like urine or having your sex tape go public?
Robyn: I get it, this is a trick question, right?!? Because the obvious answer is "All of the above," but then when you think about it, there's no real way for people watching the sex tape to know you smell like urine. Well, wait, I guess there is one way they could figure it out, but I'm not keen on releasing that kind of sex tape.

Johi: When you were a tween, what poster(s) did you have on your bedroom wall?
Robyn: I'm glad you asked, because this affords me the kind of opportunity I always enjoy: the opportunity to give my mom a guilt trip. I wasn't allowed to put posters on my walls at all until I was about 14, and even then I was restricted to adorable animal pictures from adorable animal calendars. Nope, no New Kids On The Block for me! When I was in therapy, I listed that as chief among the many reasons I'm as maladjusted as I am today.

Johi: Marry, Fuck or Kill: David Caruso, Jon Lovitz and Big Bird.
Robyn: Why do I always want to kill all three people named in these questions? Should I talk to some kind of professional about that? 

Johi: Me too. On both counts.
Robyn: Okay, I'm going to say marry Big Bird because he seems like a nurturing type of guy who enjoys a good nap. Then the other two can be a toss-up for fuck/kill, since my husband will kill the fuck guy so they'll both end up dead one way or another anyway.

Johi: What is on your nightstand?
Robyn: My toddler's used tissues, my toddler's discarded ponytail holders, a dusty wedding photo, a garage sale vase, and the tiara I wore on our wedding day (because where else do you store a tiara)? If you're wondering why I don't have a table lamp on my nightstand, it's because we keep it on the floor. Naturally.

Johi: What is your favorite essay in I Just Want to Pee Alone and why?
Robyn: Ohhhhh no, I'm not falling for that one! I have no idea how I got lucky enough to be included in two (TWO???) best-selling humor anthologies in one year (I Just Want To Pee Alone and You Have Lipstick On Your Teeth), (link: http://www.hollowtreeventures.com/p/buy-my-book-book-is-available-and.html) but I'm not about to jinx it or piss anybody off by naming a favorite! Like my children, I reassure them all that I love them equally - then I'll silently mouth the name of my favorite to you when none of them are looking.

Johi: Then I won't tell anyone about the time you told me that mine was your favorite. Your secret is safe with me.

If you live in the Michigan/Indiana area, join Robyn on October 16, 2013 for the National I Just Want to Pee Alone Ladies' Night Out! RSVP HERE for your chance to win a door prize! 



Robyn Welling is a freelance writer and humorist at Hollow Tree Ventures, where she isn't afraid to embarrass herself—and frequently does. She also writes for awesome sites like In The Powder Room, NickMom, CraftFail, and The Huffington Post. She loves sarcasm, wine, beer, other bottled items, long walks on the beach, and her husband. Oh, and her kids are okay, too. Her goals include becoming independently wealthy, followed by world domination and getting her children to clean their rooms. Until then, she'll just fold laundry and write about the shortcuts she takes on her journey to becoming a somewhat passable wife, mother, and human being. If history is any guide, she'll miss the mark entirely. You can find her avoiding responsibility on FacebookTwitter, andPinterest.



Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I Am Not Your Maid

I needed to clean my pantry, but the floor and baseboards were so thick with grime that I felt tired just thinking about it. I needed to reorganize the book shelf, but the ceiling fans were covered in dust and the windows were smeared with tiny fingerprints, fly poo and dog noseprints, and it made me feel like I needed a nap. The refrigerator was beckoning me with sticky shelves and rotting food, but all the bathrooms simultaneously smelled of urine and were probably growing mold and all I could do was look at Facebook. I simply did not have the time or energy to deal with all of the filth. Then there was the clutter. Oh clutter, how I hate you.

The amount of papers and mail in my tiny home is astonishing. It piles up on counter tops, the kitchen table, the desk, my jewelry box and the buffet. It taunts my waking hours and haunts my dreams. The stacks of papers around my house remind me of my failures:

  • I'm indecisive. 
  • I have hoarder tendencies. 
  • I often have a hard time determining what is truly important. 
  • I was going to marry Kirk Cameron.


While I need a clean house for my mental sanity and any chance at creativity, I suck at cleaning my house. I hate clutter, yet it surrounds me on a daily basis. I hate to clean, yet the need for it is incessant. I am chronically defeated by junk mail, old birthday cards and Legos. My dirty, messy house is giving me a facial tick, a resentful attitude and a chronic Pi symbol that is carved into my forehead.

Paperwork is the bane of my existence, only to be rivaled by toys and music by David Hasselhoff.

Seeing piles of paper is paralyzing for me. I never know what to do with paperwork. It completely overwhelms me. Bills need to be paid and filed, receipts need to be gathered and stuffed into a manila folder, junk mail needs to be weeded, newspapers and magazines are begging to be read... and then there is the paperwork and the art projects from school. SO MUCH PAPERWORK AND ART PROJECTS FROM SCHOOL. As an artist who has felt under appreciated for the vast amount of my life, I never want to be the person that pitches artwork that my kid labored over.

You see, I am basically useless when it comes to dealing with paperwork, and my husband is basically useless when it comes to housework of any kind, and I am so overwhelmed by clutter and paperwork, that I cannot bring myself to clean the house, and he does not know how to clean a house. It's a vicious circle in which the two of us together equal pathetic. And our house is grotesque.

My husband is great at tearing apart then rebuilding pretty much anything. He rocks at fixing my truck and repairing the dishwasher. He built our kitchen; the entire thing. Yet the man cannot clean a counter to save his life. I swear that he simply does not SEE the messes. So he and the boys make enormous messes and it is my duty to follow behind them and clean up. Yeah- NO.

That is I went on a pre-caffeinated rampage about the condition of my house (which was SPOTLESS only two weeks prior). I completely lost my shit.

And it wasn't the papers. It wasn't even the unwiped spills on the counter, table and floor combined with the garbage that didn't make it to the trash. Nor was it the toys that were never put away, the socks on the floor or the SHIT EVERYWHERE. It was the expectation that cleaning up after everyone was MY JOB.

Like the gentle wings of a butterfly, I handled it delicately. I also addressed the issue in way that everyone would understand exactly what I was saying, the first time I said it. And no, I didn't say, "Every time you make me clean up after you, an adorable baby kitten dies." But I wanted to.

Instead I yelled, "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELVES!" at the top of my lungs and stomped around the corner.

My husband yelled back, "RELAX! WOULD YOU?"

To which I calmly replied, "I would love to but NO ONE WILL LET ME!"

Then I added, for maximum effect, "I AM NOT YOUR MAID!!!!"

Then I proved it.

I hired Merry Maids to clean my house. Other than the moment that I set "Nashville" to record on my DVR, it is the best decision I have made in a long time. I'm justifying the cost because: A.) It is cheaper than therapy. 2.) It's better than a divorce. P2.) Because we drive old trucks, we have no monthly car payment. Who needs air conditioning and automatic locks when your house is clean? and 45.) It's healthier, both physically and mentally for me and my entire family.

My house was so filthy that after 2 hours in my bedroom alone, the original gals had to "call in reinforcements". It took four people 5 1/2 hours to get through my 1,400 square foot cottage. They found approximately 345 spiders, 789 Lego pieces and 678 random screws that Brock pulls out of his pockets at night. The grime- consisting mostly of dog hair, dirt, grease, half chewed food, dead skin cells and my pride and sanity- was so thick that I was simultaneously relieved and mortified that someone other than me was cleaning it. Afterwards, having a clean house was so energizing that I did three more loads of laundry, cleaned the pantry, color coded my scarves and organized the boys' room.

Ahhh! It's clean... for at least 30 minutes.


Today the maids are scheduled to clean again. In preparation, I decluttered my house. I sorted through the stacks of papers and Legos and Thomas the Train pieces. I picked up socks from the floor and wiped honey from breakfast spilled on the counter. I made the grocery list and packed lunches and wiped asses and folded sheets.

All the while, I found myself muttering under my breath, "I am not your maid."



Saturday, September 21, 2013

What I Was Doing That Didn't Warrant a Shower

Lately, I'm struggling to find a rhythm to my daily life. Between school schedules, having my three year old at home with me, social media management, healthy eating, exercise, attempted mental presence, and writing, I feel a little bit like I was caught in a lightening storm while wearing metal shoes. I don't think I've quite found my groove. I say this because the other day Brock looked at my haggard, aging face and said, "We're all trying to get used to the new Johi."

And he wasn't talking about the lack of elasticity in my skin or the fact that I was wearing the same clothes that I had slept in the night before... and worn all day prior to that.

Wow. So I not only look like I'm 55, but I also am a raging biznitch. Neat. LIFE GOAL ACCOMPLISHED.

That was a reality check. So I poured myself another cup of caffeine and asked myself, "What am I going to do about this?" 

My self replied, "I honestly have no fucking clue, but you need to get caught up with that laundry." 

Until I figure out a solution, I will offer you all my "What I Was Doing That Didn't Warrant a Shower."

I'm two weeks behind, so I will try to catch you all up!

  • I was interviewed for  Faces of Fort Collins HERE, where I talked about myself, which was totally easy. I also discovered exactly how much I don't like reading my own words when they are transcribed from a recording of me talking. I say the word 'got' a lot. A LOT. My hillbilly was shining through like the glorious beacon of tractor headlights.

  • I wrote a few lighthearted articles for Babble Pets, which I have listed below for your eyehole delight:
  1. Your Favorite Bloggers and Their Pets- I showcase the animals belonging to some of my favorite bloggers, including Insane in the Mom Brain, Oh Noa, and Moms Who Drink and Swear.
  2. Cute Children Caught Napping with Their Pets- Alicia from Naps Happen and I paired up to provide you with ridiculously adorable picture of kiddos snoozing with their pets.
  3. Celebrate Fall with Awesome Knitwear for Pets- Animals in sweaters and hats- redonk.
  4. The Secret Lives of Farm Animals- I pretended to be Dr. Doolittle as I delved into the "real" lives of the farm animals living at Lee Martinez Farm. Basically, I made up a bunch of ridiculous stories and gave the animals human qualities, cuz that shit is fun. This post was also featured on the Yahoo home page, where every fucking troll lurking in a basement took the time to tell me how much they hate me. That was special. But I was featured on the Yahoo home page so they can eat my tank top that I've been wearing for 48 hours now!
  5. My Babble story about ponies was also featured on Yahoo Shine, where more angry humanoids decided to take time out of their obviously busy lives and insult me some more! OMG, what is wrong with these people?

  • I learned all about miniature pigs when I spoke to Dawn Bleeker from Newton, Iowa about her pig named Joy. I love this story. Dawn was so educated about mini pigs, and she had really gone to great lengths to get Joy and to make her a happy pig. Here is the link to Joyful Living with a Mini Pig

  • I wrote an emotionally draining and bittersweet post about the Colorado flooding that was very personal to me. My sister is in Estes Park. I went two and a half days without hearing from her because they lost phone service. In the midst of that, I watched the entire Front Range be devastated by flood waters. On Friday the 13th almost every major highway around me was shut down. Then my neighbors informed me that we might have to evacuate. I spent the day on pins and needles; worried for my sister, worried about my home, wondering where I was going to take a blind and a foundered pony, and concerned how I would get them there, as we no longer own a horse trailer. So I did what I do. I stressed out and aged 10 years. Then I made phone calls to line up help and cooked a giant batch of soup. On the other hand, Brock took the kids up to Lowe's and looked at Halloween decorations. We were fortunately able to stay in our home, but my beloved Natural Area where Red Dog takes me on walks was hit hard and sat underwater for a week. Then I saw a video of Glen Haven, which is the little mountain town where we escape to in the summer. We love it there. The flooding North Fork River basically took out the entire town. Friends of ours own the General Store. I wept for this town. I wept for our friends. I wept for all of Colorado. It is all shown in this post that I wrote for Babble Pets. Glen Haven is the town in the video at the beginning. If you read anything that I wrote, please read this and share it. 
 Animals Rescued From Colorado Flooding

Thanks to all of you for being supportive of my journey as a writer. I wish I could tell you how much each and every one of you means to me. You are all an important part of my life. And looky here, I'm a writer. I did it. Sure, my family thinks I'm Satan and I'm not sleeping or eating, but we'll work that out. I want to take this moment and remind you to keep working toward your own goals. Don't let self-doubt (or trolls) stand in your way. You can do it. I've got your back (and I'm scrappy, so you totally want me back there).

Peace, Love, and Unicorns,
Johi Kokjohn-Wagner, Writer





TMI Fridays- Divine Secrets of a Domestic Diva

Susan McLean writes the hilarious Divine Secrets of a Domestic Diva. She is witty, hysterical, and self-deprecating. She poses in Macy's dressing rooms and takes pictures of herself in unflattering ways- it's like we were separated at birth! I want to be her neighbor so that together we can choreograph dance routines in her kitchen. Then later, we could cool off with a bottle of wine in the kiddie pool 

Susan has a beautiful knack for writing honestly about parenting and aging, and all of the glamour that comes with it.


Nothing says glamorous quite like a pink sequined prom dress and laundry.

Susan and I *met* through our mutual authoring of the hilarious anthology I Just Want to Pee Alone. She penned "The Tale of Two Vaginas", which made women around the globe shudder in commiseration and me made thankful, so so thankful, that I had two C-sections. 

Susan is talented, chaotic, sleep deprived, and a well of seemingly endless hilarity and brilliance. You guys are going to love her. I know that I do, and I naturally assume that we all love the same things. If I'm wrong, you should reconsider your stance, because I have impeccable taste and the credit card bill to prove it.



Johi: When did you first realize that you loved writing? Why a blog?

Susan: Reading and writing were always my strong suits in school, but I also enjoyed the creative aspect of writing.  Even more than that, I've always been a storyteller.  In my large, close-knit extended family, it's something we do every time we get together.  Among friends I'm always being asked to tell someone "about the time that..." And even in my career as a corporate trainer, I had an audience. Granted, they had to be there, but still, I enjoy the connection with people that comes with sharing my experiences as well as the feeling when I can make other people laugh.  If I had the courage, I might have tried stand-up comedy, but since I don't, a blog seemed like a great way to get that connection, share my experiences and hopefully make people laugh through writing.  It was also my main source of adult interaction when I first stayed home with my then 1 and 3 year old boys while I was pregnant with my daughter.

Johi: Tell us about your family.

Susan: My husband and I met at work in what feels like a lifetime ago.  We have been married almost a decade, and we have three kids- Joey who is 8, Jake who is 6, and Cecilia who is 4.  We also have a dog, Baxter, who thinks he's one of the kids.


Johi: What is your favorite thing about writing a blog?  

Susan: I love the attention!  Just kidding (sort of)!  As I mentioned before I love the connection with readers.  Many times I use my blog to share moments that aren't always my finest; maybe it's something that was embarrassing or stressful with the kids, or even something that I'm going through that is leaving me feeling slightly exasperated or sub-par.  Since I primarily write humor, forcing myself to see the funny side of just about any situation is actually really helpful, and almost always I get a reader or two who will confess that they have gone through the same thing.  Writing my blog has certainly made me feel less alone, or at the very least like I'm not the only one who's living a less than Hallmark-like lifestyle.

Johi: What subject is taboo to talk about on your blog and why?

Susan: I wouldn't say there's anything I wouldn't feel comfortable discussing; but my blog is all humor, or at least it's supposed to be, so you won't see me tackling big issues unless it's something I think can be made funny.  However, I do take care not to post about personal situations that have happened to my kids, husband, family or friends that they might find embarrassing. For a while, I think some of the people who know me were afraid I might spill the beans about certain situations on my blog which I'd never do without permission.

Johi: Brock's friends keep calling him and saying, "YOU SHOULD SEE WHAT JOHI IS SAYING ABOUT YOU!" What they don't know is: 1.) I always check with him first and B.) I think he does stupid shit on purpose. 876.) He thinks it is funny to irritate me.

Johi: What has been the best part about being a SAHM?  

Susan: The bon-bons!  No, the naps!  No, it's got to be all the free time!  
Truthfully, I had some misconceptions about the whole SAHM gig until I was neck deep in it, but I am very thankful to be able to be home with my kids.  My Mom didn't go back to work until I was a little older, and I remember her always being there when I was little.  I'm grateful to be able to have that experience with my own kids.

Johi: What has been the worst?

Susan: Well the pay and the time off - particularly sick time - sucks.  But I think the reward is the smile on my kid's faces and getting to fold all that laundry.  You can't put a price on that...




Johi: What life experience affected or changed you the most?

Susan: Becoming a mother has absolutely had the biggest impact on me, and I thought that by my third kid the awe would have worn off a little but it didn't.  It's an incredible, fragile, terrifying and frustrating thing - motherhood that is.

Johi: What is your ultimate parenting goal?  

Susan: To raise kids that aren't assholes.  That might sound crass, but just walking around the world as it is today, I think it's not only a necessity, but will be challenging. 

Johi: Who is your inspiration? 

Susan: I look up to people who have the ability to make other people laugh, who want to go out and make the world a better place, who see the value in big and small acts of kindness, and people who can find humor in any situation.  Anyone who can do that, I find inspiring, and I'm lucky to know more than a few inspirational people.  Celebrity wise, I'd love to meet someone like Ellen Degeneres who I think sums all that up as well.

Johi: Describe your perfect day.

Susan: A quiet, healthy, warm, uncrowded day at the beach where I had a babysitter, booze, beach fries and could read a book and take a nap.  Hell, who am I kidding?  I'm happy with just the beach fries.

Johi: Note to self- Google "beach fries"


Johi: Who is your celebrity free pass?

Susan: Alexander Skarsgard
*fans self*


http://tchadquarterly.com/alexander-skarsgard-for-the-crow-remake/
Johi: I completely approve.

Johi: If you could pick one of the following to add to your resume, which would it be and why? 
World Domination
A-List Celebrity
Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize

Susan: World Domination seems like a lot of work, and celebrities come and go, so I think I'd go with Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. 

Johi: What should I make for dinner tonight?

Susan: Whoa.  I don't think you should "make" anything.  That's why God invented take-out.

Johi: Tell me something random about yourself.

Susan: I've never eaten meatloaf in my entire life.  Not even one bite one time.  My Mom made it for my Dad once, before I was born, and he said "This isn't how my mother makes it."  She swore she'd never cook it again - and never has to my knowledge - and by the time I was old enough to eat it anywhere else, a "loaf" of meat never struck me as appetizing.

Johi: You would like my meatloaf. It goes great with a giant box of Cabernet.

Johi: What is your guilty pleasure?

Susan: Napping, but it never ever happens.  Last time it did, my kids drew a tramp stamp on me while I was sleeping.  Lesson learned.

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

Susan: I'm not sure I could pick just one.  I could relate to so many, and even the ones that I couldn't, I still found myself laughing out loud.


Loving the cup/bottle holder.





Susan's Bio:
Between love and madness lies...motherhood. No one knows this better perhaps than Susan McLean, a freelance writer, humorist, and blogger. Her website, The Divine Secrets of a Domestic Diva, was named one of the funniest Mom Blogs by Parents.com in 2011 and also in 2011, 2012, and 2013 by Circle of Moms.  Susan's humorous take on motherhood has landed her on the Dr. Oz Show, the winner of a Mad Housewife Wine Label contest, and additionally her work has been featured in Huffington Post Parents, Redbook.com, LA Times, RealBeauty.com, Circle of Moms and more.

So if you're ready to admit that it's not all Hallmark Moments, you should come take a look at the lighter side motherhood and being an aging, sleep-deprived mother of three young children at DivineSecretsofaDomesticDiva.com.

Susan's links are below, you should click on ALL of them, because Susan is awesomesauce:
Join me on FacebookTwitter, Pinterest, & YouTube

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I Just Want To Pee Alone- National Night Out!


Are you new in town? Do you need a night away from your house? Do you feel like you are in junior high again when you try to make mom friends at your kid's school? Do you like crass humor, laughter, and cocktails? 

Never fear, the ladies behind the best-selling book, I Just Want to Pee Alone are hosting a NATION WIDE event just for you!

We all know how difficult it is to meet new people. It is also challenging to take time away for yourself, whether you take care of tiny humans or rambunctious furkids. That's why we have each organized a night out in our cities. Jen, of People I Want to Punch in the Throat, spearheaded this event. You can read all about her brilliance behind the night out here.

From coast to coast, I Just Want to Pee Alone's National Night Out is debuting on October 16. Find a location near you from the list below, slap on a little lipstick and your courage, and meet some awesome women.

I hope to see you there!





BOSTON - Hosted by JD of Honest Mom
Location:
TBD


CHAMPAIGN, IL - Hosted by Kerry of HouseTalkN
Location:
TBD


CHICAGO -  Hosted by Karen Alpert of Baby Sideburns
Location:
Pinstripes
1150 Willow Rd.
Northbrook, IL 60062
Date/Time:
Wednesday, October 16th at 7:30 PM


COLORADO - Hosted by Johi Kokjohn-Wagner of Confessions of a Cornfed Girl and Rachel Kargas of Get Real Mama
Location:
Ace Gillett's
239 S. College Ave.
Fort Collins, Colorado 80524
Date/Time: 
Wednesday, October 16th at 6-9 PM
Live music starts at 8 PM!
Check out Ace Gillett's on facebook.


CONNECTICUT - Hosted by Amy of Funny is Family
Location: 
J Roo's Restaurant

249 State Street

North Haven, CT 06473

Date/Time: 

Wednesday, October 16th at 6-9 PM


HOUSTON - Hosted by Rachael Pavlik of RachRiotPatti Ford ofInsane In The Mom-Brain, and Kelley Nettles of Kelley's Breakroom
Location:
BlackFinn American Grille
1910 Bagby Street
Houston, TX 77002
Date/Time:
Wednesday, October 16 at 6-10 PM


INDIANA/MICHIGAN - Hosted by Robyn Welling of Hollow Tree Ventures, Alyson of The Shitastrophy, and Noelle Elliot of Bow Chica Bow Mom
Location:
Uptown Kitchen
7225 Heritage Square Drive, Suite 208
Granger, IN 46530

Date/Time:
Wednesday, October 16 at 7-10 PM


KANSAS CITY - Hosted by Jen of People I Want to Punch in the Throatand Stacey of Nurse Mommy Laughs
Location: 
Barley's Brewhaus
11924 W. 119th St.
Overland Park, KS 66213
Date/Time: 
Wednesday, October 16 at 7-10 PM


MINNESOTA - Hosted by Michelle of You're My Favorite Today and Joy of Evil Joy Speaks
Location: 
Jake's City Grille
3005 Harbor Lane North
Plymouth, MN  55447
Date/Time: Wednesday, October 16 at 6-9 PM


NEW JERSEY - Hosted by Kim Bongiorno of Let Me Start By SayingAmy Bozza of My Real Life, Anna Sandler of Random Handprints, and Kim Forde of The Fordeville Diaries
Location: 
End of Elm Restaurant & Lounge
140 Morris Street
Morristown, NJ 07960
Date/Time: Wednesday, October 16 at 8-10 PM


PENNSYLVANIA - Hosted by Meredith Spidel of The Mom of the Year and Stephanie Giese of Binkies and Briefcases
Location:
Applebee's 
Rt. 30, 2321 Lincoln Highway East
Lancaster, PA 17602
Date/Time: 
Wednesday, October 16th at 6:30 PM


WEST VIRGINIA - Hosted by Teri of Snarkfest
Location:
Domestic
117 E. German Street
Shepherdstown, WV 25443
Date/Time:
Wednesday, October 16th at 7-10 PM

Peace, Love, and Unicorns,
Johi

P.S. If you want a signed copy of I Just Want to Pee Alone, let me know prior to the event and I will bring you a book. jkokjohnwagner@yahoo.com
xxoo

Monday, September 16, 2013

Great. Now My Kid Wants to be a Hobo.

I'm constantly racking my brain for meal ideas that are quick, easy, and healthy. Also, it would be nice to cook food that my kids will actually EAT.

Thing 1 is pretty adventurous with food; he eats a sometimes shocking variety of foods and will always at least try a bite of something new. Thing 2, on the other hand, is on a strict regimen of Popsicles and ketchup.

Remembering years ago when we did something people call 'vacationing', I decided to implement a new meal to our rotating menu. I grabbed some meat, cabbage, and a new box of aluminum foil from the grocery store and set out to prepare four 'Hobo Dinners' for my family.

I chopped some root vegetables and cabbage, drizzled them in olive oil, threw a hunk of turkey sausage on the top, seasoned it all with salt and pepper, and wrapped it in foil. Upon returning from throwing them on the grill, Thing 1 asked me, "What are we having for dinner?"

I responded, "Hobo dinners."

He asked, "What's a hobo?"

I envisioned a picture of a man with his belongings tied up in a red bandanna attached to a stick. I said, "A hobo is a person that carries all their belongings on their back. They walk around during the day and cook over a fire at night. Sometimes they hang out in gypsy camps."

He said, "That sounds like fun! I want to be a hobo!"

I paused, then realized what I had done. "No," I replied, "it's not fun. It's lonely and dangerous. They don't have a home. Most of the time they sleep on railroad tracks and smell like urine."

Thing 1 looked at me with his mouth open.

Then I continued, "You don't want to be a hobo. I promise you. But these hobo dinners will be delicious!"

Then we ate our meals out of foil packets and I tried not to think of the smell of urine.

Later, when I asked Thing 1 remembered of my tale of hobos, he answered, "It's a man walking around outside and he cooks his food over the fire. I don't know. They're boring."

Crisis averted. Until Thing 2 piped up, "I want to be a hobo!"


HOW TO MAKE YOUR KIDS WANT TO BE HOBOS:

Hobo Dinners

(Recipe for two adults, one hobo hopeful, and one Popsicle-loving gerbil)

1 pound of meat (ham, sausage, burger or whatever you like)
1/2 head of green cabbage, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4-8 carrots, chopped
4 small potatoes, chopped
4 white or golden beets, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
green beans- however many are in your garden
olive oil
salt 
pepper

Preheat grill to medium or light fire in trashcan. Cut four pieces of foil, lay on counter or old tire. Chops your veggies on a cutting board or a slab of rusty metal. Divide veggies into fourths and place on foil. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place meat on top of veggies. Cover each with another piece of foil, folded to make a packet. Place on indirect heat (top rack of grill) and cook for 45 minutes.

Getting ready for some HEAT.

45 minutes over some fire and Voila! Hobo dinner! 


Wash your filthy, disgusting hands and enjoy. You are now a hobo.

No plates, pots or pans were dirtied in the making or eating of this meal. I bought turkey sausage for $2.97 and a head of cabbage for $2.00. The rest of the food I had on hand. Cheap and easy!

Peace, Love, and Hobos,
Johi










Friday, September 6, 2013

Why I Haven't Been Writing Here.

I have news! I got a job.

Well, ANOTHER job.

Yes, I'm still writing for Chrome. The next issue is scheduled to launch in October. It contains three of my articles and seven of my illustrations. It was fun, but a lot of work.

Yes, I'm still doing laundry, cooking, and cleaning my house. Okay, so I'm not doing any of those things WELL or with any consistency, but I'm still doing them. Sort of. Okay, my house looks disgusting and we're eating sandwiches and cereal.

Yes, I'm still a Stay at Home Mom. I stay at home with my Thing 2 all day. Sometimes, like today, I don't even bother showering, getting dressed, or brushing my hair. In fact, Thing 2 and I are both wearing what we slept in and it is after 2:00 in the afternoon. Thing 1, now a big boy, spends the majority of his days in Kindergarten. Thing 2 is in Preschool five hours a week, but other than that, little dude is with me. We have been adjusting to bus schedules, activity schedules, and earlier bedtime schedules. Also, Thing 1 developed a nasty cough and an inability to hear me speak. Thing 2 is adjusting to being home without big brother (i.e. no one to steal his toys and poke him in the eye when mom isn't looking). The transition has been fairly easy for him. On the other hand, I am adjusting to feeling overwhelmed with guilt when I require him to play alone all day because I'm too busy to do anything other than feed him the 23 times requested per day.

No, I am not on track with LeanMoms. Unfortunately, because of the surge of crazy busy into my schedule, my LeanMoms.com weight training and low carb diet has flown out the window. I am back to sneaking in walks with Red Dog, occasionally throwing down some squats, and sucking down a beer with dinner. At least now I am AWARE of all the sugar I am consuming though, so there's that. And I also know exactly what I need to do to get a flat belly, so there's that too. I'll get back on it... eventually.

No, I haven't put together the next TMI Fridays for you. Next week.

No, I don't plan on... what was I saying? Why did I walk into this room?

On top of this, I recently accepted a position at Babble, writing for their Pets section! Pets falls under the Lifestyle category. I'll be posting three times a week there. Gulp. That's a lot! But I'm excited to share the perspective of a farm raised gal on their site! If any of you animal loving folks have story ideas or pictures for me to use, please email them to me at jkokjohnwagner@yahoo.com!

Please pop over there and read my posts from this week!

Don't you want to hear straight from the horse's mouth?


Last Monday, we returned home from a trip to the mountains and celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary. Brock bought me a fancy camera, which I used to take really ridiculous pictures with my friends. Also, I attempted to finish up my first Babble story. Two days later...

My initial piece was this intro post, where I talk about my menagerie of misfit animals, complete with a slideshow. I even made three gifs!

Then my kid woke me up at 3 am and I was awake for the day...

Then I wrote about Anthropomorphism and posted a slideshow of examples. 

Then I did 657 loads of laundry and snorted at the weeds that have overtaken my yard...

Then my smart-ass comment and picture was featured in this article about whether or not you post pictures of your kids on the Internet.

Finally, I wrote a hard hitting investigative piece about ponies. OMG! PONIES!!! Again, lots of pictures! And another gif! 

Now, I dance.

Ha. Now, I lay like broccoli on the couch.


The biggest transition in all of this, aside from time management and extensive guilt, was that I had to learn WordPress. I know a lot of people swear by WordPress, but I was so motherfriggin' confused. Talk about counter intuitive! But I held it together like a boss; My first story only took my three days, I only cried three times and made an ass of myself in front of a handful of professional people.

But it is Friday, I made it through the first week of my new job, and I have never looked nor smelled more like an unemployable homeless person than I do right now!

This weekend, I look forward to more walks, less computer, and more booze! Oh, and playing with my kids and stuff.

And a nap.

Peace, Love, and Unicorns,
Johi