Posts Tagged ‘Humor’

Vacation with Baby: Expectation vs. Reality

Monday, May 18, 2015
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We recently went on our first real vacation with AJ. At the first sign of summer weather we packed our bags and headed to our favorite beach with my parents. We had a blast, but I was unprepared for how un-relaxing our trip would be! Here’s a little insight on vacation with a baby:

Travel

Expectation – Baby sleeps the entire time.

Reality – Baby does sleep most of the time, but then wakes up at 2 a.m. that night ready to party. The same thing happens on the way home.

Day on the Beach

Expectation – AJ gets up at her usual time of around 6 a.m. and we head out to the beach as soon as possible, getting there around 8 a.m. We easily set up our brand new beach tent. Baby wears her swimsuit, sunglasses, sun hat and plenty of sunscreen (which I reapply every hour). She happily plays with her toys in the tent while Chris and I sit in our beach chairs, reading our books and enjoying the scenery. AJ takes her morning nap in the beach tent, which allows us to doze off as well. We go in for lunch around noon, and come back out for the afternoon. We grudgingly leave the beach when it’s time to get ready for dinner.

Reality – AJ decides to get up at 5 a.m., even though we are not in a different time zone. Despite this, we do not make it out to the beach until around 10 a.m. It takes us about 25 minutes to get our beach tent set up, and requires three of four adults. We sit AJ in the tent, only to have her immediately crawl out. We repeat this activity until we finally give up. AJ refuses to wear her hat or sunglasses, and I finally give in and lather her head with sunscreen. We get our work out in by walking AJ down and back from our chairs to the water, over and over again. About an hour after we get on the beach, AJ gets fussy; it’s time for her nap. She refuses to take a nap on the beach, so we head inside for lunch. Because it’s so windy outside, we decide we have to take down the tent we spent half our time trying to put up. After two hours inside, we make out in the afternoon for about 45 minutes, until AJ gets fussy again and is ready for her afternoon nap. All in all, we see about two and half hours of beach time, and I barely sit, much less open a page of my book.

Out to Eat

Expectation – We arrive at our chosen restaurant around 6 p.m. and get immediately seated. After we order, we feed AJ, who eats all of her food quickly and happily. AJ plays with her toys while the adults eat. We make it out of the restaurant by 7 p.m., perfect timing for AJ to get ready for bed once we get home.

Reality – We arrive at our chosen restaurant and there is an hour wait. We try to feed AJ while waiting for our table. There is too much going on for her to focus; she swats the baby food out of my hand and it flies everywhere. After we get seated, AJ plays a game of wanting out of her high chair and wanting back in. Every time the waiter places something on our table, he places it in front of AJ. She screams when we take away a fork that she somehow got her hands on. As we eat, AJ switches between trying to use my arm to pull herself out of the high chair and making other guests uncomfortable as she locks her unblinking gaze on them. We don’t make it out of the restaurant until after 8 p.m., way past AJ’s bedtime.

Evening

Expectation – AJ sleeps. Mommy and daddy enjoy a nice cocktail while sitting on the balcony and listening to the waves.

Reality – AJ does not sleep. Mommy and daddy spend most of the evening trying to put her to bed, and most of the night trying to get her to go back to sleep. When she falls asleep at a reasonable hour, mommy and daddy have one drink, inside because we can’t hear the baby if we are on the balcony. After one drink, decide to go to bed because we are exhausted and it has to be after midnight. Look at the clock; it’s 9:30 p.m.

Although going to the beach with a baby was not what I expected, it was an experience I will never forget! Our vacation was much more eventful and much more fun.

Kelly Weikle and her husband Chris are navigating the uncharted road of parenthood with their infant daughter, AJ. Kelly shares the ups, downs, laughs, and cries of new motherhood on The Mommyhood every Monday. When not discovering what everyone else who has a child already knows, Kelly works full time in corporate communications.

Ten Clues That You’re Not a Royal Mum

Wednesday, May 6, 2015
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I won’t say my life has become completely chaotic lately, but it has been incredibly busy.

Take, for example, the fact that I had no idea that Kate Middleton had given birth ttiara1o her second child, much the less a princess, until that princess had a name.

My mother-in-law, a compulsive Anglophile, would be completely disappointed if she knew that I knew nothing about Princess Charlotte until she was, well, Princess Charlotte.

For the record, and to appease my mother-in-law, once I actually learned about Charlotte’s arrival, I did read a couple of online articles. Both featured pictures of Kate Middleton holding Charlotte in front of the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital in London.

Apparently, the photo was taken only ten hours after Kate had given birth.

Ten hours – and Kate was wearing a designer dress and heels. Not only that, but she was  wearing makeup.  Seriously. Makeup.

Ten hours after I gave birth, I was still wearing a hospital gown and wasn’t even thinking about mascara.

That’s when I realized that I was never intended to be a royal mother.

The fact that I’m American is irrelevant. My genetics and family tree all lead back to England.

I’m simply not cut out to be a royal mum.

The signs are all there.

#10: Photos holding a newborn don’t require a makeup artist.

#9: Photos holding a newborn don’t require a standing position. Lying in a hospital bed (to indicate that the baby didn’t magically appear) is quite an appropriate pose for a first photo with baby;

#8: Photos holding a newborn don’t even require streetwear, much the less an extremely feminine dress. Giving birth is all the proof you need to demonstrate you are female.

#7: Your baby has a name before you leave the hospital. When my son was born, my roommate was held hostage until she finally decided on a name for her son. (She had four daughters whose names all began with A, and she had made the unfortunate decision to let them help name their brother. I honesty can’t remember if they decided upon Andrew or Austin.)

#6: No one places bets as to what you will name your child. When I was pregnant with my son, my husband and I made a decision not to let anyone know what we had chosen to name him. We wanted the choice and the opinion to be ours and ours alone. We told everyone that we were naming him Deuteronomy and would call him Deut for short.

Before our daughter arrived, we  never even pretended to reveal her name.

#5 The names that you do choose for your baby have absolutely no historical meaning and are far too modern.

#4: Your baby doesn’t have multiple middle names.

#3: The first time the grandparents (or great- grandparents) meet the baby does not require a press release.

#2: The baby’s first home is not an estate, and the concept of a nanny is laughable.

And the number one reason that you know you were never intended to be a royal mum is that your children would never thrive under the public scrutiny.

Or, even worse, you would realize, like I do, that your children would be entirely different people if they had been required to do so.

Trina Bartlett lives with her husband, Giles Snyder, their teenage son and daughter, two cats and one enormous German Shepherd. When she’s not being a mom, volunteering, writing, biking or walking the giant German Shepherd, Trina works full time as a director at a nonprofit, social service organization.

 

For the soon-to-be mothers

Monday, April 27, 2015
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I could write a novella on the first few months after having your first baby. Instead, I mostly settle on gabbing to friends and family for long after their eyes glaze over with boredom. Maybe I love sharing stories and comparing notes so much because it was truly an experience for which I could have in no way prepared myself and it was the most amazing and challenging thing I have ever done.

I have several friends who are expecting, so I’m jumping at my chance to share my take on the experience of becoming a new mom. Since, having an 8-month-old, I’m a resident expert. (HA! Complete sarcasm.) As I mentioned, I could go on about this for days, but for the time being, I’ll stick to a few random thoughts and snippets of unsolicited advice.

Although I knew having a child came with a recovery period, I was completely unprepared for the difficulty of recovery. After being on bed rest for the last few weeks of my pregnancy, I wanted to be up on my feet and moving, but I was in pain. It’s something no one talks about, maybe because no one wants to scare the soon-to-be mom. I was in pain for much longer than I expected. But I eventually recovered and got back to feeling like my normal self.

Don’t worry about dressing nicely or putting on makeup. For some crazy reason, while I was on maternity leave, and not leaving the house at all, I would put on uncomfortable clothes and makeup. Waste of time. Waste of makeup. You will miss those days where you could be in your pajamas with your hair in a knot all day. Yes, I know I did it to feel more like the normal “me” again, but looking back, I wonder why I wasted my time (and added to my laundry).

Invest in the nursing bras. Yes they are ugly. Yes you will need them. Don’t make your husband navigate the maternity store by himself after you’ve had your baby because you didn’t buy any beforehand…

Another investing tip – if you think you need it, and you can afford it, just buy it. If you end up not using it, you can return it. It’s frustrating, especially for a frugal gal like myself, but in my experience, life is easier when I just bite the bullet and buy four different types of bottles to find which one the baby likes, rather than trying to force her to drink from the one you bought but she hates.

You will get frustrated. You will cry. You will think, “What were we thinking? How on earth did we think we were ready for this?” Or maybe you are a much stronger person than me and taking care of a newborn will be a breeze. But, if not, just know you are not alone. You will have times when you know you should be “enjoying every minute” because “it goes by too fast” but you haven’t slept in 24 hours, you can’t remember when or what you ate last, and the baby has been crying nonstop for two hours because she has acid reflux. It’s okay to not enjoy that time. Just know, it will pass. It will pass! And likely, later than evening (or morning), when your baby finally goes to sleep, you will rock her for a few extra minutes because you don’t want to let her go.

That said, it really does go by too fast! Enjoy every minute (that you can)! I would be lying if I said I wasn’t tearing up writing this post and remembering all the things that were so difficult at the time, but now are fond memories. Having a newborn was nothing like what I expected; it was so much better.

Last but not least, follow a few mommy blogs :) They will lift your spirits, connect you to moms facing the same challenges and experiences, and are great for late-night feedings.

Kelly Weikle and her husband Chris are navigating the uncharted road of parenthood with their infant daughter, AJ. Kelly shares the ups, downs, laughs, and cries of new motherhood on The Mommyhood every Monday. When not discovering what everyone else who has a child already knows, Kelly works full time in corporate communications.

Mommy fails (continued)

Monday, April 6, 2015
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AJ,

It’s me, mom, again. You may remember I once shared some of my mommy fails from our first months together. Well, I think it’s time for another round. I’m happy to say we are still a good team. We are having a lot of fun together, and I’m getting better at this whole “mom” thing. But I’m far from perfecting my craft. So here’s a few more of my “mommy fails”:

By the time we get home, I never remember what was written on your chart at day care. So when your daddy asks me questions like, “Did she nap well today?” my response is usually along the lines of, “Oh, sure…you know…” This also means I can never remember that you ran out of diapers or clothes.

You’ve decided to rebel against diaper changes by arching your back, screaming, turning over and trying to crawl off the changing table. One day, you were being so difficult I decided to just put your diaper on backwards. It still did its job.

I let the dog lick your face and hands more than I should. I’m just happy she’s finally decided to like you.

Little did I know that blowing my nose would be the scariest thing on earth to you. After I did it, your face twisted into a complete look of terror and you started crying like you thought I was hurt. I felt bad that I thought it was really cute.

Whenever you are fussy I sing about what I am doing to try to get you to calm down. I do this so much, I recently found myself singing in the lunch line at a work meeting.

You have a wide selection of headbands and bows, but I rarely remember to put one on you. You’ve only been mistaken for a boy a couple of few times.

And last but not least – we were in the bathroom and as I was drawing your bath, I looked back to find you licking the toilet. I have nothing more to say about that one.

I’m still trying my hardest to do my best for you, and you are a great baby. I hope one day you will look back at these stories and laugh at your crazy mom.

Love,

Mommy

Kelly Weikle and her husband Chris are navigating the uncharted road of parenthood with their infant daughter, AJ. Kelly shares the ups, downs, laughs, and cries of new motherhood on The Mommyhood every Monday. When not discovering what everyone else who has a child already knows, Kelly works full time in corporate communications.

The Tooth Fairy

Tuesday, March 31, 2015
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There are some parental roles I never mastered.

Playing the Tooth Fairy is one.

I should have known it was going to be problematic the day my son lost his first tooth.

He literally lost it.

He was on the playground in kindergarten, and I never got the full story about exactly what happened. The tooth (2)tooth may have fallen into a pile of mulch while he was on the swings, or he may have swallowed it while going down the slide. I don’t know. I suspect the latter because when my husband and I tried to convince our son that the tooth fairy would find his tooth anyway, he wasn’t exactly thrilled with the idea.

That was the start of my short-lived and very spotty career as the Tooth Fairy.

Losing a tooth was never a big deal for my children because it likely led to disappointment.

Sometimes, one of my children would put a tooth under his or her pillow. More often, they didn’t.

They knew that sometimes the Tooth Fairy remembered to replace the tooth with money and sometimes she didn’t.

When I did remember to take the tooth, I never knew what I was supposed to do with it.

Other parents told me that they kept their children’s baby teeth, but that seemed kind of disgusting to me. I couldn’t imagine a day when I would look at a tiny tooth and get all nostalgic.

That was back in the days when I didn’t realize how quickly the years would fast forward to a time when the cost of college tuition was a much bigger concern than how much the tooth fairy should pay. That was also back in the days when I didn’t give any consideration to the fact that I would someday have to seek professional assistance to remove my child’s teeth.

Last fall, when our dentist advised me that my 16-year old son needed to consult an oral surgeon about having his wisdom teeth removed, I was sure he was going to add “in five years.”

He didn’t.

And so, a few months later, I was trying to get my son to wake up after his first experience with anesthesia.

I could poke fun at how he behaved, but he really didn’t act much differently than normal. He wanted to sleep, and he wanted his parents to leave him alone.

The only surprising moment occurred as we were leaving.

I was handed a small paper envelope and told that it contained my son’s wisdom teeth.

“He wanted to keep them,” the oral surgeon said.

I stuck the envelope in my purse and immediately forgot about it. I certainly didn’t think that my son wanted his teeth so he could put them under his pillow in hopes that the Tooth Fairy would make one final appearance.

He and I both knew that my dismal performances as the Tooth Fairy were a thing of the past.

We didn’t realize I had one final curtain call.

A couple of months after my son’s surgery, I was checking out at the local grocery store when I was asked for my bonus card. I keep it attached to my key ring, which I had misplaced somewhere in my purse. I put my purse on the ledge by the debit card scanner as I searched. When I pulled out my keys in triumph, two large obviously adult human teeth popped out and onto the conveyor belt.

I couldn’t look at the clerk’s face as I scooped up the teeth and threw them randomly back in my purse.

I couldn’t look at her face as I handed her my key ring.

I couldn’t even look at her face when I paid for my purchase.

The only thing I could do was try to regain some semblance of pride while assuring the clerk that I wasn’t a complete freak.

“Being the Tooth Fairy can be a messy and sometimes embarrassing job,” I said as I walked away.

I didn’t need to look back. I knew the young woman couldn’t understand.

But someday, in the rapidly approaching future, she probably will.

Trina Bartlett lives with her husband, Giles Snyder, their teenage son and daughter, two cats and one enormous German Shepherd. When she’s not being a mom, volunteering, writing, biking or walking the giant German Shepherd, Trina works full time as a director at a nonprofit, social service organization.

The Great Snow Shovel Showdown

Wednesday, February 18, 2015
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snowmageddonI am once again braced for the drama that winter’s harsh storms bring to my neighborhood.

My caution doesn’t stem from concern about breaking bones when I slip on ice – even though that is a likely outcome every time there’s a snow storm. I’ve broken bones in both of my hands and still have scars from a shattered wrist, a result of my general lack of grace on ice.

Nor is my concern about getting into a car accident – although I have had numerous close calls on snow-packed roads.

Instead, I am on high alert with the realization that I MUST be the first in my neighborhood to clear the driveway. Anything else is an indication of my failure to accept my neighbors’ challenge for a snow shovel showdown.

My husband claims that I’m imagining such a competition and insists I’m using it as an excuse to once again indulge my tendency to be a bit obsessive.

While I admit to being obsessive, I am also very observant. Since I walk my German Shepherd every day before dawn and again after work, I know the rhythm of the neighborhood. I know who goes to work early, who works a strange schedule and who doesn’t work at all. I know who takes meticulous care of their yard and who takes shortcuts. I know who is friendly, who likes dogs and who pretends they have no neighbors at all. I also know which  neighbors are avid competitors in the snow shovel showdown.

They are the individuals who keep close tabs on the latest weather report to determine the precise time they should tackle their driveway. Their mission? To ensure their driveway is black asphalt bordered with piles of snow by the time the first car drives by.

A few years ago, some neighbors tried to gain an unfair advantage by purchasing snow blowers that created perfectly straight lines along their driveways rather than the uneven mounds of snow. Since no one in my neighborhood has a particularly long or unwieldy driveway, the straight edges of snow never gained any respect.

What does gain respect is the sound of a snow shovel scraping pavement.

I woke to that sound the other morning after a recent snow fall and immediately recognized it as a call to arms.

I should have known my next-door neighbor would be out before me.

The night before, I had heard a strange noise and asked my husband to verify my suspicions. I called him to the bedroom window to peer into the quickly fading light and watch my neighbor walking up and down his driveway.

He was getting a jump start on clearing his driveway by using a leaf blower to remove the snow as soon as it fell. A leaf blower wouldn’t leave the evidence of cheating hat a snow blower does.

I lay awake most of the night listening for any additional sounds of someone getting a head start on their driveway until I finally fell asleep to the sounds of the city snow plow. I actually dreamed about shoveling snow, so I shouldn’t have been surprised to wake up to the sound of scrape, scrape sound of metal on asphalt.

While I would have preferred to wrap myself tighter in my blankets and stay in bed, I am just too competitive.

I jumped out of bed and pulled on tights, leggings, wool socks, two shirts, a coat, gloves and a hat. I was prepared to tackle the driveway in five degree weather.

Rodney, the German Shepherd, had other ideas. He was prepared to go for his normal, morning walk. Since the kids didn’t have to go to school and my husband didn’t have to leave for work until much later in the day, I didn’t want Rodney whining and barking, And so, I took him for a short spin around the neighborhood. Unfortunately, that drastically set me back on my driveway clearing schedule.

By the time we returned, my neighbor’s driveway was already cleared.

I didn’t see him gloat, but neither did I see any cars drive by.

If I hurried to clear our driveway, no one would know what had transpired.  Neither would they know that I already have my eye on this weekend’s forecast for more snow. I’ve always been a really early riser on weekends.

Game on.

Trina Bartlett lives with her husband, Giles Snyder, their teenage son and daughter, two cats and one enormous German Shepherd. When she’s not being a mom, volunteering, writing, biking or walking the giant German Shepherd, Trina works full time as a director at a nonprofit, social service organization.

Becoming a mom has turned me into a slob

Monday, February 16, 2015
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It’s Sunday, and once again my to-do list is sitting on the kitchen counter, items uncrossed; a glaring reminder of another weekend of potential productivity lost. I could blame the state of my house on my current cold, but even if I’d felt 100 percent, I still would not have completed my chores.

I’ve never liked to clean, but I like everything to be clean. Since becoming an adult, I’ve been one of those “make the bed every morning or else my day won’t start right” kind of people. My husband knows the key to my heart is to help keep the house clean. When I decide something needs done, it needs done right away, leading to many a late night vacuuming or bathroom cleaning sessions. In my house, everything had a place, a place that is not on a countertop or on the floor.

Then, I became a mom.

I call these my "cleaning cheats"

I call these my “cleaning cheats”

Right now, as I look around my living room, I see a vacuum cleaner sitting out and plugged in (but yet to be used), a dirty tissue on our ottoman, a car seat in the middle of the floor, and baby blankets and play things flung haphazardly on our rug with a dog toy here or there. I don’t dare get down to discover the amount of dog and cat hair permeating our rug. Hairballs blow like tumbleweeds on our hardwood floor.

If I turn my head and look into our dining area, I see a bottle of syrup on the table, left over from morning waffles, placemats that need ironed, leftover napkins, Valentine’s Day cards and wilting flowers, a diaper bag, and more dog toys. I don’t even want to look in our kitchen and don’t even think about asking me about the upstairs. I’m happy if I can manage to create a path to walk in our bedroom.

I also see a baby, smiling up at me from her play gym, wanting attention. She’s flailing her arms around, trying to crawl, but she’s not quite strong enough…yet.

Sure, I could maybe squeeze in some time during the week to clean and pick up, after AJ goes to bed. But I’m normally bone tired, and sitting down for a few minutes before I fall asleep to read a book or watch Downton Abbey is how I keep my sanity. So I put off house chores until the weekend, but when the weekend comes I’d rather spend it playing with my baby, or spending time with my husband, family or friends.

On the days I do go on a cleaning rampage, when I’m finished the peace that comes with a clean house falls over me. But then I feel a certain melancholy, knowing I’ve missed several precious hours with my baby, who is changing by the minute.

My pre-baby self would surely look upon my home’s current state in shock and disgust. But I’m not my pre-baby self anymore. I keep telling myself that one day, one day our house will be spotless (maybe when AJ moves out?). But for now, I’ll take the mess – every spill, every stain is a little reminder of all the wonderful life happening in our home.

Starting baby on solid food: An unofficial guide

Monday, January 26, 2015
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Disclaimer: I feel like I must prequel this post by saying…This is NOT meant to be a real guide to starting your baby on solids! Consult your pediatrician for advice and instructions on solid foods.

Step 1: When baby is a few months old, read about when to start solid foods. Tell yourself you will stick strictly to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation of exclusively breast-feeding for the first six months of life.

Avocado baby food...basically just boring guacamole.

Avocado baby food…basically just boring guacamole.

Step 2: Go to your baby’s four-month check up. Your pediatrician asks if you have started baby on solid foods (No, you have not told me to!). Listen to your pediatrician confirm the AAP’s recommendations – six months. Shake your head in agreement. Listen to recommendations on first foods and think to yourself, “I will definitely listen to my pediatrician.”

Step 3: After many a sleepless night, wonder if the rumors about babies sleeping once they start solids are true.

Step 4: Realize that your baby will be 24 weeks before the six-month anniversary of her birth. Decide that 24 weeks is close enough to start her on solids.

Step 5: Google the following: “Starting baby on solid foods,” and learn that everything you’ve heard is wrong! Become thoroughly confused.

Step 6: Notice baby is more hungry than usual. Decide that 22 weeks is close enough to 24 weeks. Try to convince husband that baby is ready to eat, and he gives in because he knows he is fighting a losing battle.

Step 7: Decide what food to give baby first. What a life-changing decision! Debate benefits of various “first foods.” Call friends for advice. Call mom for advice. Google for advice. Finally settle on oat cereal.

Step 8: Take your baby food blender out of the box to get a head start on making foods and find a recipe book and food guide. Realize you could have saved a lot of time if you had discovered this earlier.

Step 9: Wash baby spoons, baby bowls, baby-food-making accessories. Set baby in high chair; make sure she has on a large bib. Get out the camera. Make oat cereal exactly how the box instructs. Brace yourself for the big moment. Your child’s entire future depends on this first bite. If you mess it up, she will either never eat anything again or only like chicken nuggets for the rest of her life. You are sweating in anticipation.

Step 10: Give baby her first bite of solid food. None of it makes it in her mouth. Continue to “feed” her. The whole ordeal lasts about two minutes before she gets bored.

Step 11: Realize you may have thought about this too much.

#Horriblemom

Wednesday, January 14, 2015
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Of my many flaws, believing that I only have a few isn’t one of them.

On the flip side, I’m very, very good finding fault in almost everything I do.

It’s a trait that I come by honestly – it was passed down by the maternal side of my family, but I’m not sure whether its longevity is linked more to nature or nurture. While my mother and grandmother excelled at identifying their own weaknesses, they were less successful at keeping those discoveries to themselves.

I am cursed by these same behaviors.

As a little girl, I  grew up hearing my mother talk about her mistakes, missteps and misfortunes. When I became a teenager, she no longer had to point them out because I did an outstanding job of doing that for her.  Now, I just point out my own.

And even though I’m well aware of the warnings from psychologists and child development experts that we can damage our children when we speak poorly of ourselves, I do it anyway.

And yes, my children picked up on my behavior. What they haven’t done is repeat it. Perhaps their father’s side of the family is more dominant than mine, because they haven’t even taken my concerns about my inadequacies very seriously.

Instead, they’ve turned them into a running joke

When I started saying “I’m a horrible mom,” to note that I had experienced a parenting fail, they quickly picked up on the phrase.

When I expressed dismay or worry about a decision, one of them would say “Hash Tag Horrible Mom.” They found it so amusing that they began using it as the punctuation mark to most of my sentences – almost as a sign of affection.

And while I may suffer from an intense need to openly identify all my faults, I don’t lack a sense of humor.

That means I can not only appreciate how ridiculous I can be, I can also have fun.

And so it was last Sunday night when my daughter and her BFF were trying to complete a display for their social studies fair project. I tried to assist as needed, but I was actually contributing to the silliness as much, if not more, than they were.

I was attempting to restore some order to the overly loud and raucous high -jinks, when my daughter  played the Celine Dion song “My Heart Will Go On.” Kendall knows none of us can be serious when that song plays – especially since her brother shared Matt Mulholland’s  You Tube video “My Heart Will Go On – By Candlelight.”  (My Heart Will Go On – By Candlelight)

As soon as the first sorrowful notes began to play, I stopped in mid reprimand to launch into song – complete with overly dramatic arm gestures and facial expressions. The girls joined in, and the social studies project was forgotten.

At least, it was forgotten until my husband marched into the family room to complain about the noise level, of which I was a primary contributor.

When he left the room, I muttered “what a grumpy dad” under my breath.

The girls picked up on my words immediately. “Hash Tag Horrible Mom Hash Tag Grumpy Dad,” they said. The line has stuck.

Ironically, I no longer consider their words to be a reminder of our faults.

Instead, they are a reminder that, even though we may do many things wrong, my husband and I have obviously done just as many things right.

We encourage our children to pursue their passions. We help with school projects.  And, perhaps most important, we have a home that promotes creativity and freedom of expression (within reason of course).

If the worst my children can say about us is “Hash Tag Horrible Mom and Hash Tag Grumpy Dad,” then I maybe I should start ending my sentences with “#notsohorribleofamomafterall.”

Trina Bartlett lives with her husband, Giles Snyder, their teenage son and daughter, two cats and one enormous German Shepherd. When she’s not being a mom, volunteering or writing, Trina works full time as a director at a nonprofit, social service organization.

The Pink Lady and the Microfilm Machine

Wednesday, January 7, 2015
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I am a more than three decades older than my daughter, and she reminds me of that on a daily basis.

She doesn’t actually say anything to me. She’s simply 13 and in the eighth grade while I am quickly closing in on a half century.

She can watch her favorite television series on Netflix. When I was her age, only very lucky kids, of which I was not one, had VCRs. If I missed an episode of my favorite show, I had to wait for a re-run and hope that my brother didn’t want to watch something that same night.

She has her own cell phone that tracks everyone who calls her (although she gets many more text messages than actual phone calls). When I was her age, my family had one land-line phone and no one had answering machines.  If we missed a call, we just missed a call.

She literally has a world of information at her fingertips, whether on her phone, a tablet or computer. When I was her age, I had no options but to go to the public library when I wanted to do research.

But sometimes, even in these high-tech days, 13-year-old girls still need to go to the public library to do research.

Such was the case this past weekend when I took Kendall and Bri, her BFF (best friend forever) to the local public library. They are doing their social studies fair project on the history of a local theater where they love to perform. During their interview with a long-time volunteer and default historian (an interview Bri recorded on her iphone instead of on a pad of paper or on a tape recorder), he gave them a list of resources in old newspapers dating back to 1912 that they could probably research at the local library.

That’s the reason I found myself giggling with two 13-year-old girls on a rainy Saturday afternoon as we browsed reels of microfilm from newspapers published more than a century before.

The content was both microfilmamusing and educational.

There was an three-column story about a “well-respected colored man” who had died after eating a large meal. The article described his last few minutes right down to the moment when he raised his hands above his head and proclaimed “Lord have mercy” before he collapsed.

There was a story about a “musical mule” that ate the keys off a piano.

And there were many, many articles about the day-to-day happenings of local residents who had gone on vacation, visited relatives or held parties. There was even an article about my daughter’s great-grandfather.

As we used the rather antiquated technology of microfilm to take a trip back in time, Kendall and Bri snapped photo after photo on their iphones as they giggled and sent text messages. I couldn’t help but note the paradox.

Then, a brief note about a lady dressed in pink who made male hearts flutter sent all of us into peals of laughter.the pink lady

When I finally caught my breath, I asked “Why would this be in the newspaper?”

Bri didn’t miss a beat.

“How is our news today any better? One-hundred years from now, people are going to laugh at us because we had headlines about Miley Cyrus twerking.”

She had a point – a really good point actually. And her words helped make our time together at the microfilm machine even more meaningful.

We left the library that afternoon with much more than a few pieces of copy paper for a social studies project. We left with a mutual understanding about life.

Times change. Attitudes change. Styles change. Even people change.

But the distance between generation shrinks when we realize our shared experiences, which we may document with different technology and with different language,  greatly outweigh our differences.

The pink lady – and the local public library – taught me that.