Friday, February 28, 2014

TMI Fridays: Rants From Mommyland, Julia Miner

I'm not a person that really freaks out over meeting celebrities. Not to name drop, but I've met quite a few famous people in my day. For instance, the chick who played Joanie, who loved Chachi, from "Happy Days". I was 9 while on vacation with my family in Disney World, she was RIGHT THERE, and I merely stared with my mouth open. But I did not freak out, because Fonzie taught me how to be cool. Then there was the time I tried to sell a $50 pink suede child's vest and skirt to the dude who played Alex in the show "Taxi"... and I failed, but I did not freak out. I simply gave him the side eye, as in, I think I know you, but I'm not sure why. Then I met Tom Selleck, which was awesome because he is gloriously tall with the most handsome moon-pie face. But I was cool. I didn't even go in for a cuddle, like I wanted to. Right now, you might be thinking "Other than proving to us how old you are by your obscure celebrity references, what the hell is your point, Johi?" 

My point is that I do not think I will keep it together very well when the time comes for Julia Miner and I to meet in person. She's a celebrity blogger, and I am a total dorked out fangirl who thinks that when we meet in person, we will instantly become BFF's. I'll try to be cool, but I will probably sniff her hair. I do that sometimes.

If you don't know who Julia Miner is, she goes by Lydia at this awesome blog called Rants From Mommyland. If you have never heard of Rants From Mommyland, let me be the first to welcome you to this crazy place called the INTERNET, because you must be new here.


Julia is a mother of three, a wife, a professor and an amazing writer. She is hilarious and honest in her prose. She has a well-honed knack for turning a phrase and impeccable comedic timing. Julia he has inspired me and so many others with her straightforward commentary on parenting in real life. The fact that we share pages in the anthology, I Just Want to Pee Alone, is fifty shades of cray. I'm honored, because Julia's pretty much a genius and I love her long time.

CFG: How did you get your start in writing?
JM: My friend Kristin Wilson Keppler and I were exchanging emails about how motherhood was making us slightly demented. Our emails were cracking us up and making us feel less crazy. She decided we needed to turn the emails into a blog and Rants from Mommyland was born. That was back in 2009. I've been doing the blog on my own since the end of 2011, but I honestly never would have started blogging if weren't for her encouragement. 

CFG: Do you have a muse or a mentor? Who and why?
JM: Not really. Obviously my family and our life together is what I blog about, so I guess that's my muse. As far as mentors go, I think all of us who participated in the Pee Alone book look up to and are grateful to Jen (from People I Want to Punch in The Throat). I have a lot of people who have helped me since I started blogging and I try to pass that help on as often as I can. I rely a lot on Claire Goss (who contributes to Rants from Mommyland) as my sounding board and editor and typo-catcher. She's freaking hilarious and a really funny writer, as well as very a good friend.

CFG: Where would you like to be with your writing career in ten years? 
JM: I don't actually consider myself my a writer. I'm just a blogger. Writers are fancy and talented. I like to transcribe conversations with my kids and make dick jokes.

CFG: I call BullSchmidt. You are a WRITER. 

CFG: What is your favorite way to spend time?
JM: Honestly? It's kind of lame. Snuggle time with my kids. Followed by an early bedtime for them and then some snuggle time with my husband. 

CFG: What is the most common way you waste time?
JM: Messing around on my phone. Candy Crush, man. It is my shame. Now you know of my shame. 

CFG: Who is your celebrity free pass (or passes)?
JM: At the moment, I'm a Cumberbitch. I also love Tom Hiddleston. And Michael Fassbender. But you need to understand that I have become an old lady in a house coat who yells at the neighborhood teenagers for driving too fast. I'm the one in knee-highs on the front porch, shaking my fist at them and calling them motherless crackheads as they whiz by in their Civics. So I don't really fantasize about romantic, sexy interludes with these gentlemen. It's more like, I make pierogies and they love them so much and then afterwards Fassbender takes out the recycling for me. It's super hot.

CFG: If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
JM: This is so easy. I would be a miniature donkey. Because they are amazing. They are equal parts magic and enchantment. I met this donkey a couple of months ago. His name is Jethro. We made a connection so I took this picture of him with my phone. But my husband is extremely mean and said there was no way we could liberate Jethro from his prison at the petting farm and bring him home in the van. That's some bullshit, man. Because first of all, there was plenty of room and second of all, what about freedom? 

CFG: Who do you think you were in a past life?
JM: Probably the same thing. A mini-donk in knee highs and a house coat, yelling at the other mini-donks to slow the hell down.

CFG: If I come and visit you, will you brush my hair and tell me a bedtime story?
JM: YES. We will watch TV and drink red wine and wear stretchy pants and eat salty snacks.

CFG: We want to know about your addictions.
JM: TV, red wine, stretchy pants and salty snacks.

CFG: And brushing my hair and telling me bedtime stories...

CFG: If you could write a letter to your 8-year old self, what would it say?
JM: Please try harder not to be an asshole between the ages of 13 and 22. 

CFG: What is your favorite essay in I Just Want to Pee Alone and why?
JM: Not with a ten foot pole, hooker. They were all awesome.

CFG: I love it when you call me hooker, hooker.

Julianna W. Miner writes the award-winning humor blog Rants From MommyLand. She's been featured on Huffington Post,, and Parents Magazine. She adores her three children, in spite of the fact that they're little terror suspects. She's been married since 1997 and for this, her husband deserves some sort of medal. She currently teaches Public Health at a college she couldn't have gotten into because she made bad choices in high school.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Planning Spring Break with Brock and Johi

I'm laughing at the title of this post right now. Planning a vacation?

That's so cute.
Sometimes I'm delusional.

About two months ago I said to Brock, "We need to start taking family vacations. All the boys know is that mom and dad fix up the house and drink red wine from a box while sitting on the couch. I want them to SEE something new. I want to take them somewhere they've never been! Like a beach! Plus, I would love to just chill out somewhere warm and quiet for spring break. Like a beach! What I'm saying is that I want to go to the beach!"

Brock said, "We can't afford tickets to DisneyWorld."

I said, ".... I didn't say anything about a theme park, nor did I mention DisneyWorld. I said a beach."

Brock said, "But if we fly to Florida, we should take the kids to DisneyWorld."

I said, "I didn't once mention Florida. I just want to go somewhere and read while the kids build sandcastles. There are beaches all over! And closer than Florida. I'm thinking an inexpensive and secluded. Plus I have points with Frontier that need to be used by March."

Brock said, "I'll look into it."

I raised my eyebrows, laughed to myself and started making dinner.

Three weeks later, Brock came home with a pamphlet from a travel agent. In that moment, I was reminded of our ten year age gap. Who the hell still uses travel agents? A man who's favorite show plays in black and white on Encore Westerns Channel, that's who.

The brochure was for Mexico.

Spring break was now less than two months away.

I was coming to terms that the beach was probably not happening this year. So I said, "What about if we scrap my silly 'warm sand' idea and simply take the kids on the train to Glenwood Springs? They would love a train ride and we could sit in the hot springs. It's no beach, but it would be warmish."

Brock said, "I'll look into it."

Spring break is now less than three weeks away. He has not "looked into it." No tickets have been purchased. No plans have been made. I'd wager that Brock doesn't even remember the conversation. My future is clear: No one is going anywhere. EVER. If I want to dig my toes in the sand, I'm going to have to scoop the cat shit from the sandbox first. If I want to channel the train and Glenwood Springs, I'll need to take Thomas the Tank Engine in the bathtub with me. I looked at the Frontier deals. Right now I can almost afford a single one-way ticket to Sioux City, Iowa. Yippee. Which one of us will volunteer as tribute for that?

I sighed and picked up the phone for some planning of my own. TIME TO TAKE THE WHEEL!
After spending the morning organizing my shit and carrying out tasks, I now have secured a time for my yearly cave doctor visit and also snagged an appointment with the dermatologist so we can have a riveting discussion about my adult acne. WHEEEEEEEE!

Spring Break is almost here. We are always here. So are the lingering projects and the wine... which won't drink itself.

What are your plans for spring break?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Truth by Tot

"Why does she talk funny?"

"Why is his yard so full of junk?"

"Why does her face look like that?"

"Wook at that funny man's BIG BELLY!"

Children are such precious, unfiltered little things. I cannot tell you the number of times that I have been treated to them making a very loud observation about a person... and that person is within hearing distance. Usually I avoid eye contact with whomever was the subject of the highly inappropriate, yet true statement. Instead of looking guilty, I take the opportunity to lean down to speak in a hushed voice to my child about how it isn't nice to say such things. Because I'm parenting.
Also, I don't want to see the person see my smirking face.

Then I laugh a little on the inside, because the straight-up truth coming from the adorable mouth of an innocent child is often funny to me. That is, unless I am the target.

My friend always says, "What makes you laugh, makes you cry."

Ain't that the truth?

Read my story, titled "The hair-raising truth", In the Powder Room. I'm honored to be there, talking about my body hair. My Mom is probably pretty proud of me right now... because I'm talking about pubic hair...  on the Internet.... again.

Sorry Mom.

Read Me In the Powder Room!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

For My Birthday, I'm Giving You a Gift!

Don't panic! My birthday isn't until tomorrow, so you still have one day to shop. WHEW!

Today, however, is all about my readers!

The stunning Freda from the Grand Junction, Colorado Old Navy is giving a beautiful scarf to one lucky reader! In honor of my love of springtime, this scarf boasts beautiful flowers in shades of red, purple and yellow. It also includes a lot of my favorite color: GREEN.

Oh, how I love things that are green. Specifically because it means that winter is over and I most likely have a normal amount of Vitamin D in my body, a beer in my hand and a tan.

I know what you're thinking, "But Johi, it's YOUR birthday tomorrow. We should all be honoring you with gifts, parades, strippers and such."

Never fear, I'm here to provide with a list of birthday ideas.

Johi's "I'm Not 40 Yet, Bitches" Birthday Wish List:

1. New feet, so I don't have to wear fugly shoes.

2. A savings account with more than $7 in it. Make that $6.45.

3. A spacious addition to my tiny house, more land for my critters, and a barn. A big one.

4. A North American Bird book. I'm serious. I'm trying to educate myself and my kids. And let's face it, I'm getting old and old people bird watch. I probably need binoculars, too.

5. A book on how to prune fruit trees, specifically apple trees. Specifically the one in my backyard, that has never been pruned. Actually, scratch that. Just send over a strapping, attractive man with knowledge of fruit trees, a ladder and a pair of pruning sheers. I'll provided the lemonade.

6. A hamper that is visible to the male species.

7. An all-expenses paid, girls only weekend in Napa Valley for me and three of my closest friends.

8. A book deal, with one year's (fairly extravagant) living expenses paid up front.

9. A wine-of-the-month membership.

10. A spa day-of-the-month membership.

I think that I have provided you with ten very attainable gift ideas. You're welcome!

Make sure and enter the scarf giveaway! I'll be selecting a winner over the weekend. Good Luck!

Peace, Love and Unicorns,


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Romancing the Stoned

For Valentine's Day, Brock whisked me away to a condo in the mountains, complete with a private hot tub.

Now before you get all "OH MAH GAH, HE IS SO SWEET" and "SHE IS SUCH A LUCKY BITCH" on me, let me give you the back story.

The important details are always in the back story.

I'm the planner in the house. The thinker, if you will. Sometimes it feels like everyone in my family is blissfully experiencing an easy life that I have planned, organized and facilitated for them. This makes me uptight. And cranky. So when Brock asked me what I wanted for my birthday last year, I told him that I wanted him to plan and organize a getaway for the two of us. A trip that was not created by me. I wanted to go somewhere that I could actually RELAX and just... be.

Silly me.

I'm pretty sure Brock heard, "If man make reservation, man get laid."

About five days before my birthday, he walked into the freshly mopped kitchen with muddy boots on his feet and a sly smile stretched across his face. I was busy cooking dinner, unloading the dishwasher, and taming the excessively loud and rambunctious children.

He said, "I reserved a room in the mountains for you birthday." Then he stood up tall, waiting for my approval.

I looked up from under my furrowed brow and asked, "Oh yeah? Who is watching the kids? Who is taking care of the animals? It's not like we have family around. An overnight sitter will cost us a lot of money. Can we even afford this? Also, this house is trashed. I can't have someone staying in here without cleaning it, and that will take at least three days. You can't even see the floor in the boys room."

He said, "Well, I thought that you could make some calls and hire someone."

What I heard is, "Me book room. Me get laid. HAPPY BIRTHDAY HONEY. Reward me!!!!"

I thoroughly explained to him how his "planning" wasn't meeting my expectations, as nothing was actually organized. I used the phrase "dropping the ball." Then I told him to cancel the reservation, although I briefly considered using it for MYSELF for some much needed alone time. Then I think I told him to shove it or something equally lady-like and loving.

For an entire year, we have had access to this pre-paid room in the mountains. I wondered when he would muster up the courage to offer it again. He decided to try again on Valentine's Day. He informed me an entire two weeks ahead of time. I said, "Okay. But if this is truly the gift you are claiming it to be, then YOU ARE DOING IT ALL. You make the calls, you get the sitter, you figure out the boys' schedules. You make it happen.... and I will pack the snacks and our clothes."

Everyone knows that I pack the best snacks.

He said okay and I refused to let myself worry about it. It was difficult, but I did not give it a thought. I wanted him to earn my trust. And I really just wanted to relax and think about the mountains. In fact, it was more than a desire. It was A NEED.

The night before we were slated to leave, I went out with a few girlfriends for a birthday celebration. I arrived home just before 11 and asked if he had everything lined up. I was honestly confident that he would. Apparently I am insane.

He informed  me, "I was just texting the sitter, trying to figure out how to get Thing 1 off the bus."

My blood pressure skyrocketed, "Just now? At 11 o'clock at night? Twelve hours before we are leaving? And there is a 40 minute gap between our six year old getting off the bus and the time the sitter can get here? And you think this is fine? REALLY? Do you think our six year old can hang out ALONE for 40 minutes?"

He said, "We're working it out."

At fucking 11 o-clock at night? I mentally tallied the cost of a divorce. It didn't look good.

I told him how to solve the problem and, through gritted teeth, told him to stop texting and actually CALL the sitter. Then I went to bed. Seething. Again.

Marriage is fucking hard sometimes. Especially when you feel as if you're the only one with your head in the game. My husband would claim the same thing if you asked him.

Through the miracle of actual conversation and specific instructions from the fire breathing dragon that had put herself to bed, yet laid there all night, unable to sleep, the scheduling problem was eliminated.

We left town only an hour behind schedule and reached our mountain destination. It was lovely. It was private. It was child free. It was so... quiet.

I flipped up the heat, turned on the fireplace and made us some decaf to serve with the cookies that I packed. We settled into the living room and took a breath. Then we took a few more. We watched the wind blow the Ponderosa Pines, we listened to the fire, and we... passed out.

We sat in that room for three hours. In and out of consciousness. In silence. Like a couple of narcoleptics.


I forced myself to leave my warm spot on the couch, curled my hair and applied some red lipstick. Brock had made a reservation for dinner! We met our friends at my favorite restaurant across town. We ate delicious food. We laughed and chatted. Then suddenly, the exhaustion from the night before and the last 6 1/2 years of non-stop, rarely a break, parenting consumed me. I hit a wall of tired. My body ached. It was literally painful to keep my eyes open. We excused ourselves back to the room and climbed into the hot tub, where we promptly.... fell asleep. Brock helped me out of the tub and we made our way to the bedroom, where my bag was packed with excitement and whispers of sexy time. I climbed into bed and.... passed out.

Because I know romance.
It's how I do.

We had to check out late morning the next day, but we did find some time to properly "unwind".

When we were leaving, we stopped by our friend's place to say goodbye. My girlfriend asked how I was feeling.

"Much better," I said.

She said, "You were so drunk last night that your eyes weren't tracking right. Seriously, you were looking in two directions at once."

I laughed and said, "I had one glass of champagne. I was sober."

Then we both cringed. It's one thing to look heinous when your three sheets to the wind, but to do it completely sober is another problem all together.

After 24 child-free hours, regardless of the pre-trip stress, I did feel somewhat refreshed. Brock and I shared some laughs and uninterrupted conversation. I hoped to no longer appear stoned, angry or drunk.

We returned home to pay the sitter, plan dinner and shuffle the kids. After hugs and "I missed you", I immediately started on laundry, cleaning, and meal planning, and the kids immediately started misbehaving. They haven't stopped since. Neither has the laundry... or the cleaning... or the eye twitching. I no longer have the privilege of narcolepsy, but I feel closer to my husband and hopeful that our future holds more spontaneous napping... and other things.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Adventures at the Foot Doctor

I always thought I could have a career in foot modeling if this writing gig didn't work out. I love cute shoes and my feet are pretty decent, as feet go. With the exception of my slightly cartoonish second left toe that was obliterated by a 1,000 pound horse, my feet are one of the more attractive parts of my body. I even have a toe with a beauty mark. I call her Cindy Crawford.

But that cute, oh-so-photogenic beauty mark on my big toe had been growing. And I was having some chronic foot pain. So I embraced my age of Almost 40 and did the responsible thing; I took myself to the foot doctor.

I walked into the examination room, removed my shoes, cracked some jokes with the nurse and waited on the table for the Doc. In anticipation for fondling of my limbs by strangers, my feet broke out into a cold sweat. My hands do the same thing at church right before the Sharing of Peace, because nothing says "I want only good things for you" quite like a sloppy wet palm and a slight case of hives.

My gaze fell upon my left big toe and Cindy. Much like your "period underwear", what had started as a barely noticeable dot had grown into a large brown spot that could no longer be ignored.

Another round of fresh sweat was released from my pores.

The Doc appeared in the sterile room to check out my hooves. I told him that I had been suffering from Laminitis. I figured my cowboy boots would give me away as a horse girl and we would bond on our shared knowledge of medical science, but sometimes I figure wrong. Instead, he looked at me in a concerned way- like I was misusing prescription drugs.

He donned some rubber gloves and asked what part of my house he could clean. Just kidding. He poked and prodded my foot, bent it until it hurt, and informed me that I had Plantar Fasciitis in one and the beginnings of a bone spur on the other. On the bright side, at least the gloves protected him from my foot sweat. Not that I cared at that point.

This was not the news I wanted to hear. Plus, he didn't once mention the words 'foot model'. WTH?

I made a yuck face. Almost 40 was stupid.

Then he said something that I can hardly stand to repeat. In fact, the mere thought of it makes me shudder.

He said, "You probably need to rest your feet. Maybe try a month or so of no exercise."

This man clearly does not live with me.

A.) It is winter, I suffer from S.A.D. and walking with Red Dog is one of my very few sources of joy.
2.) I'm a damn troll when I don't exercise.
45.) Bitch be almost 40. It's hard work staying in my jeans.
7886.) Did I mention it was FEBRUARY? Winters are long and everyone knows that February is one of the worst winter months.
88677.) Red Dog be crazy. She will LOSE HER SHIT without regular walks. And there is no way that Brock will do it. I've been with the man for 10 years and his motto regarding walking the dogs is "They have a yard."

Then the Doc went on to talk about shoes. I perked up. I love shoes. Maybe the conversation was going to go somewhere joyous. Shoes are a bit of an obsession with me and I have the collection to prove it. Unhealthy? Maybe. Awesome? Definitely. Sexy? Hells yes.

I started to black out when I heard him say, "Somethingsomethingsomething sensible shoes."

"What?" I asked, tilting my head and narrowing my eyes.

He repeated, "You should be wearing sensible, flat shoes. And no flip flops."

I felt a part of my soul die. It was my favorite part, too.

I took a breath to compose myself and asked, "So I need orthotics, right?"

He nodded and said, "Yes."

As I shoved my naked, sweaty feet into the styrofoam molds for my new old-lady-orthodicks, I tried to picture these things they call "sensible shoes". What would they look like? Did wedges count as sensible? Boots are definitely sensible... right? I just needed to cut back on the higher heeled ones. Peep toes still seemed sensible though.

I asked the Doc about the size of the orthotics, "What will they fit into?"

He said, "Tennis shoes."

I felt the vomit rise in my throat. Other than for purposes of exercise, I am not a sneaker kind of gal.

Jeans + Boots = I may have dried food on my shirt, but I still read Vogue.
Jeans + Sneakers = Do you like my hair scrunchie? It matches my sweater. And my socks.

He looked at Cindy longingly and continued, "I can slice that mole off right now and send it in for testing."

He seemed a little too eager for my liking.

I thought about needles, scalpels and my flesh. Suddenly, my ears started ringing and I was consumed by a cold flush. I knew that feeling. This wasn't my first rodeo; I've blacked out on many a Doctor's office floor in the past. I started to see stars. This is exactly why my gynecologist knows not to use the word 'scrape' in my presence.

My situation was all too clear. Here comes 40! And it does not look elegant in the slightest. In fact, it is more like a rabid monkey gaily throwing feces at my wrinkled, haggard face. I took a deep breath, looked at my cowboy boots and imagined trying to shove my freshly lacerated, bandaged foot in there.

I know when I have been defeated.

I said, "I'll probably need to come back another time, when I am wearing more sensible shoes. Maybe my orthotics will be ready by then."

Join me next week, when Brock and I pick out retirement homes and burial plots!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day Haiku

Happy Valentines Day! It's a day of wine and roses, chocolate and kisses. It's a day to dig deep into your underwear drawer, find that sexy chemise and knock the dust off of it. It's a day to gaze longingly into one another's eyes and wonder how long he has had that horrible broken blood vessel.

Seriously, my man has a bloody eye. It's nasty.

Anywho, I'm dedicating this day of forced romance to my husband. We have successfully tolerated each other for 10 Valentine's Days now. GO TEAM WAGNER!

Being a thoughtful wife, I made this beautiful and captivating photo-art in honor of our love.

Also, because I'm clearly an overachiever, I made some heartfelt haiku in honor of this 14th of February. I didn't double check my syllable count, so you shouldn't either.

My truck was once clean
Until we put kids in it
Now it smells like feet

Valentine's Day sucked
Then you bought me a diamond
I like shiny things

Please run the vacuum
I know you know where it is
You built the closet

I used to want sex
Now that we have two children
I really want sleep

Your snoring is bad
But tonight I won't jab you
I'll pretend I'm nice

You can't force romance
But if you let me relax
You might just get some

I like chocolate
Keep your grubby paws away
from my secret stash

We all feel sorry
that you thought that I was sweet
Should have known better

Our kids are so cute
It is best we stopped at two
You can't push your luck

I hate McDonald's
But if you take the kids there
I won't have to cook

and last but not least....

Hire a nanny
Take me away from laundry
You might get lucky

Peace, Love and Bow Chicka Now Now,

Friday, February 7, 2014

Drawrings with the Things

I have a couple of artists in the house. As a lover of art and former art major, this thrills me to no end. As a lover of QUIET, this is like a gift from the good Lord. So I encourage my Things to make art every day. Now when Thing 1 walks in the house after school, 9 out of 10 times he goes right for the pencils and paper. The best part (aside from that QUIET thing) is when the kids present me with their work and we talk about it. I enjoy getting a peek into their minds.

Sometimes what they draw is frighteningly accurate. Other times their imagination has gone wild. Sometimes they make the sweetest pictures featuring smiling people holding hands with hearts floating overhead. Other times I think they may be possessed.

Kids. Aren't they precious?

Here is what they created today.

Thing 1 (6 years old):

Me: What's this bubble over my head?
T1: You're thinking.
Me: What am I thinking about?
T1: What to get us all for Valentine's Day.
Me: Why am I the only one thinking in this picture?
T1: Because you're the leader and we're following you.

The child knows.
The child knows.

Thing 2 (3 years old):

Me: *figure 1* What is this? Is it a bus?
T2: Yeah! It's a bus for all my buddies!
Me: Is that the driver?
T2: Yeah! He's driving the bus full of my buddies!
Me: *figure 2* Who are these two?
T2: That's me and my best buddy in the swimming pool!
Me: *figure 3* What about this person- who's this guy?
T2: That's me eating all my Valentine candy!
Me: *figure 4*And what's this up here?
T2:  That's our new truck. It's full of snakes, but they're dead in boxes and people are eating the meat off of them.
Me: .....

Peace, Love and WTF?