Dear Tween, It gets better…

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Dear Tween,

It gets better. I promise.

Right now your teeth are too big, your mom won’t get you contacts, and your best friends are suddenly too cool for you.

It gets better. I’m old(er), and have a number of professional initials behind my name, so I speak with some authority. Trust me on this.

One day, and it will happen so quickly and slowly all at once, you will be happy and your life will feel like your own.

And then you will fall in love. And it will get better. And worse. Your friends will change. They will be more fun, and yet make you sad because they don’t know your history.

Soon enough you will grow into your teeth and your gangly legs. You will look around the room and know you are at the top of your game. Good God, relish these moments. They are fleeting, but it gets even better.

One day you will travel and your world will get bigger. You may get married. Or not. You might have children. Or not. Through it all, you will find your way.

Know this, it gets better and better. Heaven knows you shouldn’t have to have to carry off the triple crown of an ugly hair cut, huge glasses, and a lace trimmed blouse ever again. Many years from now, dear tween, you will find a picture of yourself so hideous, that you will feel compelled to laugh. And post it. And tell your younger self, and every tween you know, that…

It gets better.

Keep sharing moxie–

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Judging Grandma (& everyone else)

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My Grandma rolled with a lot of things in her life: the Great depression, losing a home to fire, the sudden death of a grandchild, becoming a widow. She didn’t judge much…except Fanny and her box cake.

It appears that high school never ends.

Many years ago Grandma asked me to go around to her neighbor Fanny’s house. I needed to pick up a cake she had made for a funeral. I made the mistake of commenting how nice it was that Fanny had done this. Grandma was less than thrilled. “It’s only a box cake. I know it.” And there it was, she should have known better. 

I just read something today about how women judge each other. Obviously, a lot of this centers around the main hot topics: kids, working, breastfeeding, maternity leave, stay-at-home vs. working moms. True, but already covered ad nauseam. There’s a great deal of research about teenage girls with their queen bees and wannabees, too. With Grandma, it was box cake.

It strikes me now that we are the most hateful, harsh critics of those that are most like us socially, ethnically, and economically. You’d think that the opposite would be true, being afraid and judgmental of those most different. I don’t think we are though. I’d argue that I give most people a pass. If we come from different cultures, most things can be explained because we come from different cultures. It they’re younger, it’s their age. If they’re older, it’s their age. If they’re my age, it’s game on.

Sometimes I’m the mom with the cute Valentines, fresh muffins, and craft activities. Other days I’m the sweaty mess that packed two different shoes for their kid, ran out of clean underwear and forgot an important meeting. Truthfully, this all happened…this week. Some days I shine, but on many more days I race, crawl, and drag my way to a finish line that never appears.

My Grandma didn’t judge me, but Lordy be, did she judge Fanny. And Fanny judged her. Two women in their late 80’s with the battle of boxed cake, tallying who had more guests seated at their table for the mother’s day tea, and keeping track of whose children visited them more.

Let’s be better, ladies. I don’t want to be stuck in high school, in mommy wars, or wanting my 90th birthday party to be bigger than yours.

Just get up, show up, and do the best you can.

I will, too.

Keep sharing moxie.

P.S. Shout-out–I do love what a fellow blogger and former high school classmate (@harvardhomemaker.com) has to say about sticking together. It’s a message worth repeating!

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Mister Rogers & My Cute Slippers

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Mister Rogers. It’s been a solid 35 years since I watched that show and I’m just beginning to appreciate some of the genius there. It’s Friday night and I’m in my slippers thinking about Queen Sara Saturday and King Friday in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

I was a Sesame Street girl. I thought it was a little weird and poncy that Mr. Rogers changed his shoes and sweater when he came into his house. My dad is about as far from a cardigan wearing man as you can imagine. It’s only now that I can acknowledge the beauty behind this very marked transition from “out there” to “in here”.

Everyone has a very public and private self. Our work clothes and badges, doctor’s coats and uniforms, they’re all a form of armor. What defines us at home? For me it’s my slippers. What is it for you? A tattered college sweatshirt? The paint splattered yoga pants that you should probably throw, but damn it, you love them?

I’m my most authentic, ugliest, and loving self at home. Changing into my slippers allows me to cast off, as much as possible, my public persona. In today’s land of connectedness we could use a little more singing, cardigan wearing, trips into the neighborhood of make-believe.

I celebrate the idea of King Friday. In our home it’s pizza night, not by royal decree, just by lovely happenstance that became tradition. I look forward to Queen Sara Saturday. She gets real coffee with cream and the chicklets get to watch cartoons and eat crappy pop tarts for breakfast. What I enjoy most though is putting on my slippers and feeling like, while I’m home, I can create and reside in the neighborhood of make-believe. It’s ok to sing, fart, yell, snort-laugh and ugly-cry at home. Read and feeds, pajamas days, and lego marathons are encouraged. I think Mister Rogers would approve. And these slippers really are cute as hell.  Enjoy King Friday, my friends!

Won’t you be my neighbor? Keep sharing moxie!

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Does it bring you joy?

My three year-old is a big fan of Marie Kondo. Admittedly, so am I. “Does it bring you joy?” was a common refrain in our family this summer. It’s my tween, interestingly enough, that is the greatest tidying up convert in the house. Truth. That alone should have you people rushing out to buy this book.

Confession: I am not a tidy person. I’d like to be, but not for reasons you might expect. The KonMarie method seems deceptively simple. Go through all your things, ask yourself if they bring you joy. If they do, keep them. If they don’t, chuck ’em.

I’ve always wanted to be a little more organized. Who doesn’t?? I don’t really give a fig if things are messy, because I thrive on a bit of uncultivated clutter. The reason I have become a Kondo convert is because the method asks you to hone in on everything that brings you joy.

Man alive, when do we do that? People talk about blessings and how grateful they are, lovely sentiments, but when do you go through the process of categorically deciding what brings you joy? The flip-side is that you begin to be able to articulate what you don’t like, even if it sounds weird.

Here’s what I’ve found… I can’t stand t-shirts with seams, wooden utensils make my teeth itch, and silverware should be heavy and pleasing to touch. I could go on and on. It starts to leak into other parts of your life: people, where you go, how you spend your time. It’s the reason that I recently booked a family vacation instead of paying for more mudroom storage. Screw cupboards, I need some sun.

Clearly I can’t escape on vacation all the time, and not everything I do brings me joy, but we all have the option of surrounding ourselves, to the greatest extent possible, with things and people that brighten our days. I live in Minnesota, nice is our currency. I’m a woman and mother, anything less than nice is bitchy. Revolutions can start in your home though. If you can’t choose what you like and what makes your teeth itch in your own home, where can you be honest?

My library, pictured above, is still casually cluttered, which is exactly what I believe a library should look like. Full, warm, with a ton of books to explore. And that brings me joy indeed (plus delight, pleasure, jubilation, happiness, gladness, glee, exhilaration, exuberance, elation, euphoria, and bliss). What brings YOU joy?

Keep sharing moxie!

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It’s only a house…

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It’s been almost two years since we moved into our new house. Much like bringing home a newborn, it’s only now that I feel like we might be emerging from the other side of sleep deprivation. That said, I’m going to try and give some advice to anyone entertaining the thought of building a new home.

Don’t.

Yes, don’t. There it is, all the advice I have for you wrapped up in one compound word. Don’t. If you’re like me, you aren’t going to listen, so I’ll add a bit more.

Don’t build a house thinking it will make you better organized. It won’t. You’ll have to do that on your own.

Don’t feel that your marriage is so strong that it can withstand the stress of building a home. It might not be. Those horror stories you hear about home building? Many are true.

Don’t build a home thinking more space will make you happier. Space does not equate to happiness.

If you’re still not convinced, I’ll carry on. You may reach a point in the home building, searching, remodeling process where you feel like the house is going to own YOU, instead of the other way around. You may be on to something, but don’t let the house win. After all, it’s only a house.

I’m going to sound like a cross-stitch sampler here, but it’s the people in your house that should bring you joy. If not, get new people. I’m kidding, well, mostly kidding. If you were a miserable person in your old house, chances are you’re going to be the same curmudgeon in your new one. Change yourself, not your house.

I’m not minimizing the power of home, certainly not. A home should be your refuge from the world, your sanctuary, but that can happen with any size, shape, layout or plan.

Pinterest and houzz.com are lovely, drool-worthy lies. Almost every home is not going to measure up. They are wonderful tools to be INSPIRED by, but not CONSUMED by. Preach. I took the picture of my kitchen (above) to suck you in. It’s kind of pretty here. It NEVER looks like this. I have a real life and, let me tell you, it’s messy.

Ok, I’ve done my best, people. If you’re still not convinced, carry on, with my blessings and goodwill. If you’re looking for building advice, ask someone else. All I’ve got is… two dishwashers. Yep, sounds excessive, but two dishwashers has been a game changer. I wouldn’t build a house for it though… 🙂

Keep sharing moxie!

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