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Posted by on May 13, 2012 in Family, Not Funny, Profound, Social Commentary | 4 comments

The Cliches of Parenthood

Before I had kids, I used to hate the cliché I heard every parent say: “raising kids is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s also the most rewarding”.

I also disliked how I could hear parents complain about their kids and then in the same breath talk about how much they love them.

I never understood how people could give up their dreams after having kids. I never understood how anyone could just be happy being a mother and nothing else. I found the whole concept appalling.

As a child, I didn’t even care about baby dolls. I found them abhorrent. I found babies disgusting. Icky stuff leaked out of every orifice. They always seemed filthy. In high school, the one time I helped a friend baby-sit (a baby, not an older kid), she handed it to me to put clothes on it. I held it for a second, then handed it back saying, “no way”, holding it at arm’s length as if it were something contagious.

Prior to having children, even as a small child in elementary school, all I ever wanted was
a. a career
b. a good, strong marriage to the person made just for me.

I never once daydreamed about a wedding. I dreamed of finding a relationship with a man who would be my love, that I would share my life with. I dreamed of a career I would succeed in and grow prosperous in, in every sense. From Kindergarten age, I sought both with every fiber of my being. Those 2 goals, I worked toward long and hard for as long as I can remember. I never quit. I never gave up. I always held on to the knowledge that one day, I would succeed in both.

In my late twenties, I met the man I’ve now been with for 10 years, married for 6 of those years. After a while, I found myself wanting kids. It wasn’t just a biological clock ticking. It wasn’t just that I wanted babies. I wanted HIS babies.

However, neither of us were 100% sure how we felt about having kids. When he was 13, his half-sister was born. If you want birth control for a teenager, have a baby and let them help care for it. Boom, success! He met many women before me, but you sure as heck can bet there were precautions that resulted in no babies.

In the early months of our relationship we discussed, as all heterosexual couples should when they begin having sex in a new relationship, what would happen if I found myself pregnant. We both decided we were OK with the idea, but frankly preferred no babies any time soon.

Seven years later, upon a doctor’s advice due to medical concerns, I went off the birth control pill that I had been on most of my adult life. My husband and I again discussed the possibility of me being pregnant and decided we would just play it by ear and see what happened. We were in no rush, somewhat interested, but not 100% ready.

For a year and a half, I didn’t get pregnant. I even got to finally finish college (after 17 adult years of working toward that goal).

A few months after graduation (of course), I got pregnant.

At the time, there was some information I lacked.

1. At the age of 35, a woman is more likely to have twins. With each passing year, the odds increase. The rise of multiples in modern society is not just from fertility drugs, but the growing number of women waiting until 30s and 40s to have children. Basically, our bodies say, “we’re running out of time! Bombs away! Fire them all! Go! Go!”. Our bodies begin releasing multiple eggs each month in an attempt to increase the likelihood that we will become pregnant.

2. Twins run in my husband’s family. And they run in mine, on both sides. All those years of my Grandmother telling stories about Big Boy and Tiny, she neglected to mention that they were twins. No one ever told my husband or I that twins ran in our family.

Thanks guys.

Just a couple of minutes into my first ultrasound, the technician said, “Congratulations. You’re having twins!”.

In the 10 years we’ve been together, it is only the 2nd time that I’ve seen my husband at a loss for words. He sat quietly for 10 minutes, staring at nothing, while I howled with laughter and tried desperately to reign that hilarity in so the technician could do her job. It was not the insane laugh of someone going to the gallows. It was a laugh of acceptance at the joke the Universe played. Because my reaction was: “of course! Hey if it was going to happen to anyone, it would happen to us”. There is nothing “normal” about us, our relationship, or our lives.

So here we are, two and a half years later. Having children is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and it is the most rewarding. It is the hardest job I have ever loved. Some days, I want to throttle my kids while at the same time I want to hug them and soothe their hurts.

People say these sentiments because we have no other words for the feeling. It is said because over 1,000s of years, the feeling has been become as well-expressed as we ever can with our limited vocabulary.

Or, as my mom says, “having children is like falling in love all over again”. What it does to mothers biologically is astounding, fascinating, frustrating, and thrilling.

So all of those cliches that frustrated me before I had kids, and all the parents that annoyed me before I had kids… Well, let me put it like this: if you don’t have kids, you understand, in theory, what it it’s all about. But like sex, until you have it, everything you think about the subject is only theory, and sometimes baseless opinions.

This is not to say being a parent makes someone better than another person. Only that we are different. As with all things in life, no one can truly comprehend a situation until they find themselves in that boat. And as with all things, knowing on an intellectual level is completely different from full comprehension due to immersion in that experience (or as Valentine Michael Smith said in Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land, “grokking in fullness”).

I now grok the cliches. I grok in fullness the conflicting feelings that are part of being a parent. I grok that this is one of the hardest life experiences I will have. I grok the sacrifices, the deep and gut-wrenching sacrifices, all parents make to raise their children. I know I will find harder sacrifices as my children grow up, and I will welcome them. Being a mother, especially a good mother, is one of the best accomplishments I can ever do, no matter what else I should ever accomplish in my life.

Happy Mother’s Day to you all.

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Posted by on Mar 22, 2012 in Family, Funny, Not Funny, Who Cares? | 4 comments

Why Did You Change the Name of Your Blog?

A lot of people like the first blog title “Full Frontal Nerdity”. I really do too. Problem is, there are quite a few sites with that name. Actually, my husband and I first heard the phrase watching this awesome, little-seen grown-up cartoon called Mission Hill.

But a couple of weeks ago, while out with a few friends of mine, a friend who is an attorney in Richardson, TX said, “you know, when you compile all of your blog posts into a book, you should call it Facedown in Goldfish Crackers“.

And then I realized: that’s the name of the blog now too.

Why?

Well, let me put it like this. I’m the mother of 2 year old twins. I work full-time at a day job as a web developer. The rest of the time, I run my own web design and development business. I still try and make time for my husband and have a life too. I read lots of blogs and websites that have to do with my industry. I am active on various social networks. I have a lot of side projects. I have a lot of client needs to juggle and I really care about my clients.

Due to me having kids, I kinda developed a few anxiety issues. It led to an inability to sleep, and the stupid-ass-shit that would keep me awake at night were things like:

  • There’s an electrical storm! What if the house is hit by lightning and catches on fire and I can’t get to the kids in time?
  • There’s a blanket in the crib with the kids. What if it gets tangled around their necks?
  • OMG, THE KID KEEPS ROLLING OVER ON IT’S FACE! IS IT STILL BREATHING??

The mantra of new moms: "is the baby still breathing?".

Then there’s the part where I’ve been getting paid to make websites for 10 years, but I’d sit up at night panicking over some coding problem I was trying to fix. And my husband even commented, “Did you know you do this every time? You panic that you won’t be able to fix it, then you fix it on time?” Apparently I have yet to grasp that I know what I’m doing now.

So I got a little help from the family doc to help me sleep.

As such, due to my schedule and inability to sleep, my personal “Mommy” time became this:

  • I have 20 to 30 minutes between when I take the night-night pill
  • while I read fiction (at this time, re-reading The Wheel of Time series)
  • and I snack on a bowl of Goldfish Crackers
  • before the drugs kick in as I read and then I pass out, facedown, in my crackers.

I fight the meds kicking in. I think, “just one more page” and keep reading. Then I wake up and:

  • my book and empty bowl are on my nightstand, with me having no memory how they got there
  • there is a bowl and a pile of goldfish crackers on the floor, and a book, with me having no memory how they got there
  • my book is put up (but my place isn’t marked) and my empty bowl is on the nightstand, with me having no memory how they got there
  • there are goldfish crackers all over the bed, including down by my FEET, my husband said "screw it" and went to bed like that, and I have no idea how he or the crackers got there.

I am a very driven woman. I am a Type A personality. I have a lot of goals, and I will make necessary sacrifices to meet them. Don’t get me wrong, I do make time for myself now and then. But even with that, I’m a worrier with an over-developed sense of responsibility, and a perfectionist. So, hooray Ambien.

This is why I write so infrequently on my blogs.

Because sometimes, I start a post, but end up facedown in Goldfish Crackers.

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Posted by on Feb 19, 2012 in Family, Not Funny | 0 comments

10 Years: A Post in Which I Am Uncharacteristically Sappy

Over ten years ago, I left a toxic marriage. It was not good for either of us. I did not talk about it with most of my friends, as they were friends with him too. I did not want to sound like I was just bad-mouthing him or being vindictive. After all: I did the leaving. The less I did to antagonize him and create drama, the better. This did not prevent drama but it did cut down on it. I withdrew from a lot of people I knew so as not to drag people he was friends with (before introducing me to his friends) into that drama.

When I left, all I wanted was to be alone. For the first time in my life, I did not want a romantic relationship. Unfortunately (or so I thought) I realized I had very strong feelings for a friend of mine. And he reciprocated those feelings. No offense to the ex, but it felt unlike anything I had experienced before. Although I had the feeling this was different, for the first time in my life I was trying to enter a relationship leading from the head rather than the heart. At one point, Jonathan and I agreed not to be around each other because
a. I wanted to be alone and heal
b. my divorce was not yet final.

After a week or so, we both arrived at the conclusion (separately) that us not being around each other did not change our feelings for each other. You don’t choose who you love. Sometimes, when you find the right one, feelings just happen. No matter the situation.

When he and I became an item we discovered a variety of reactions from friends. Some had expected this, to the degree that they were taking bets as to how long we would start dating when I left the (now) ex (shortest time won). They thought we were a match made in heaven. Others were concerned our relationship would fall apart in no time. Many people, who only know my husband as Skippy the Funny Guy thought this was just a passing fun thing for him. Others thought I was rebounding hard from leaving my ex.

Ten years later, I can confidently say that I made the right decision. We’ve been through a lot. We’ve moved to several states in the U.S for both jobs and college. We’ve survived the SMU Guildhall graduate program, and we are one of 2 couples that survived that course for that cohort. We bought a house pre-housing bubble burst, and sold it after losing money like so many others that had to sell homes during the recession. We’ve both been laid off. We’ve lost pets and family, been to emergency rooms, and now have 2 year old twins, one of which is going to be meeting a developmental pediatrician soon since his speech therapist has found autism markers. We’ve started businesses together and now work on them together. We’ve been in couples counseling a few times too. And here we are, 10 years later, and not far from celebrating a 6 year wedding anniversary.

I have it good. I have a husband who is attentive to my needs. He can go to counseling with me to honestly find answers to our communication problems, rather than needing to be “right” and prove to himself how he’s OK and I’m not. He’s an attentive and devoted father, who make a better stay-at-home dad than I would be a stay-at-home mom. He’s funny and creative. He has a shining intelligence and wit, his brain is hung like a…ahem. He gets me, on a deep and fundamental level, and accepts me for who I am while still encouraging me to grow and be a better person. The challenges of the past 10 years, rather than pushing us farther apart, have only pulled us closer together. And I’m very thankful for him and what we’ve learned together. I couldn’t ask for a better husband. Thank you Jonathan for being you.

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Posted by on Oct 12, 2011 in Funny, Not Funny | 3 comments

A tale of the Adventure of Miss Adventure

So, the deal yesterday…

While I was at the chiropractor getting worked on for the migraine, I got a call.

That I ignored, because my husband never calls me in the middle of a session. 

Then my chiropractor’s office manager comes in, and says my husband is on the phone, and its an emergency.

And any parent with multiple kids has a first thought of, “which kid is it?”.

So, Dr. Steve finishes his last bit of poke and prod so I don’t hurt myself being unfinished (3 seconds) and I head out the door.

I beat the ambulance to the hospital (I wasn’t speeding either).

And here’s what had happened:

Apparently, Jonathan went to the bathroom. And came out to 2, two year olds in the kitchen. Either

a. they figured out how to open the baby gate (and Jack has demonstrated that he knows how it works, but has lacked the dexterity and strength to open it so far)
b. the gate wasn’t closed all the way.

And when Jonathan went into the kitchen, there’s Jada with an open bottle of melatonin, she’s pouring into her face. That was on a counter. At the furthest end of the kitchen. (Yay, stepstools and kids who can figure out how to use them…).

Last time she got into something (diaper rash cream), 911 dispatch patched him through to Poison Control. This time, we got an ambulance.  So Jonathan is thinking, “OMG, this must be REALLY bad”.

The paramedics tried to ask her if she had eaten any of the pills. And of course, her answer was “no”. (My husband was telling them there was no way they were going to get an admission of guilt from her.) They tried to account for all the pills (I had no idea how many I had taken. Not many.) And Jonathan suspects a lot of them rolled under the fridge. Lets face it, they don’t taste especially good so I can’t imagine her actually wanting to eat them. Also, I discovered this particular bottle was useless as mcg is such a low dosage as to be pointless to take, which is why it was largely untouched by me.

Then there was the logistics of getting husband and 2 toddlers into the ambulance, but still needing car seats for the return trip home (I go to work in the car-seatless vehicle). The paramedics were concerned that Jada would be afraid by herself. My husband assured them she would be fine. (Captive audience, her favorite thing.)

They said she was their best patient all day. They were great with her. Although she was still really happy to see me once she was at the hospital. So Jonathan and Jack follow in the minivan.

Once they she got to the hospital the staff calls Poison Control. Who informs them that melatonin doesn’t make people fall asleep, it just helps them stay asleep better once asleep. They said the worst thing that will happen to her is she’s going to have a REALLY good night’s sleep. They said wouldn’t even have recommended a trip to the hospital.

/facepalm

So parents, even if what you have is out of reach. Even if it is outside the babygate, up high, think again. And again. And again. Ponder all the way they can get at stuff. And lock it up. And as parents of multiples will tell you: they tag team and cooperate to do stuff too. Double-trouble does not begin to describe it.

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Posted by on Oct 9, 2011 in Funny, Not Funny, Social Commentary | 0 comments

PSA: The Non-Fat Cake is a Lie

PSA: The Non-Fat Cake is a Lie

For those of you that haven’t read my About Me page, there is this bit on there:

“If I tell you I’m a nerd, I make websites for a living, and play video games, watch cartoons, and read comic books for fun, you probably see a fat guy living in his mom’s basement.

If I tell you I’m a mom, you see another fat person with short hair, driving a mini van. (Ok, I’ll give you 2 out of 3 on this one, but I refuse to ever get the “mom” haircut.)”

So yes, I’m fat. Like many overweight women, I wasn’t always. As a young skinny person, I grew up watching friends and family struggle with weight issues for years. I sympathized with them. I knew from first-hand experience that fat does not mean: out of shape, lazy, and/or lives on junk food. I was VERY physically active in high school, but I had an overweight friend who kicked my butt at aerobics.

There are people out there that are unsympathetic to fat people who say “I have a thyroid problem”, but you gain 50 pounds in 3 months and then I dare you to tell me that’s bullshit.

So long story short, I now struggle with weight. A combination of a love of food and quitting smoking kicked my ass. Stress-eating/comfort food also = diet fail. I had twins, but nursing them killed that weight and now I weigh less than I did at conception. But I’ve got a long way to go before I’m anywhere near a decent weight. At this point, I’ve been struggling in this same 10 pound range for about a year. At 5 foot 1 inch, I still can’t hit 160.

So I’ve been pondering the food thing, and just really wished we didn’t have to have such a fight with it. I could write a novel about this, I swear, but there’s a part of me wishing I had never tried junk food. Growing up, it was a rare treat. As an adult on my, own…holy cow, smorgasbord (and in my early 20s with a hummmingbird’s metabolism, I ATE).

And as I was thinking about it, I realized a few things, and growing up with sci-fi geeks raising nerdlings, we often heard, “what does Yoda say?” if gods forbid we ever used the phrase, “I’ll try”. So it’s their own fault everything I think of goes back to some kind of nerdom, but I digress…

I wish I could get a time machine and go back and warn myself or kick my own ass. Of course, I can’t, but I did realize I can warn all you skinny, young people out there. It will come for you one day.

chocolate cake - ....once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny...

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Posted by on Sep 19, 2011 in Not Funny | 1 comment

Netflix and Qwikster: Will It Really Suck That Much?

Netflix and Qwikster: Will It Really Suck That Much?

This morning, I got an email from Reed Hastings, Co-Founder and CEO of Netflix.

And it starts out with, “I messed up. I owe you an explanation.”

And I thought, “Awesome! Corporate transparency! I love that!”.

broken dvdAnd continued to read (both the email and the linked blog post, which are basically the same thing but one is full of customer outrage).

In a nutshell, the post from the CEO of Netflix is this:

I’m sorry I didn’t better communicate the reasons for the price increase, I was really arrogant to assume you would all just go along with this, I’d like to eat some humble pie, and BTW, this price-hike is part of a change to Netflix that involves us moving all our DVD rentals over to a new brand and site called Qwikster, and all of the streaming will now just be under the brand and site of Netflix.

And in the comments area of the post, Netflix patrons collectively lost their minds.

I was OK with the price hike. That happens sometimes. Frankly, I’ve always wondered how Netflix made any money at all, given their prices and having a vague idea of just what goes into shipping DVDs and streaming media.

And if you read the customer responses, most of them are saying the same thing, and they’re saying what everyone has been saying if Reed Hastings had paid attention to, oh…ANYTHING written about Netflix the past few years:

  • There’s not much to the selection for streaming
    • But a lot of people understand it’s not their fault, it’s the studios
    • But some people don’t care who’s fault it is, they don’t want to pay more for less content
  • New releases don’t get there soon enough for some people’s tastes
    • But that’s a niche market because a lot of people don’t care
    • But for some people, there is a cost-benefit to this situation and they can go to Blockbuster or Red Box and get what they want for the same price (or slightly more, but it’s worth it to them)
  • But people like being able to choose DVD or streaming, and even do both, conveniently
    • And Netflix had a convenient way to do both

Hastings’ explanation sounds like he’s completely unaware of any of that. Most of the responses from people come along the lines of “wait, you mean I have to jump through another hoop? And pay more to do it?”.

His post lacks context, both regarding the upcoming changes, and why people reacted the way they did to the price change in the first place. To me, everything is about context: you need that to fully understand a situation or a person. And while he tried to convey the situation, I don’t think he really provided that context to his customers in his post, which only further enraged them.

As the news media understands very well: few people look for context. They take everything told to them at face value. So if you want someone to really understand something, you give context. If you just want to whip people into a frenzy, you keep the context out of the picture entirely.

Hasting’s post didn’t sound like he understood his customers’ initial problems with the price hike. It wasn’t just about the money. There’s an unconscious cost-benefit analysis from customers of “can I get more for the same price or less”? Translation: “what’s in it for me?”.

He doesn’t really explain WHY this is a good thing for his customers. He primarily focuses on how it helps Netflix. And thus, he is hit with a deluge of comments from customers who feel betrayed and ripped off. They feel like he doesn’t care ABOUT THEM.

So let me give you a little context regarding the two-website situation.

As a web developer, I don’t assume this new Qwikster site means visitors have to log into 2 different sites. There are ways to pass the user from one site to another, still logged in. There are ways to even pull their DVD feed from Quickster into Netflix so visitors can see what’s available and decide if they want to stream or not.

So because of my background, I just assumed this would likely be how it would work.

Unfortunately for Hastings, most of his customers lack this kind of knowledge. His email/post doesn’t address that. He doesn’t address the real fears people have with the service, or the changes. Any time a business brings out something new, there WILL be a knee-jerk reaction of fear from their customers. Potential fears should be considered ANY TIME a business announces a change from how they currently do business. I mean, isn’t that Marketing 101?

Admittedly, maybe the new setup won’t work the way I’ve described. But Netflix does have a history of being net-saavy, it’s part of how they’ve gotten as far as they have. They just don’t seem to be very customer-saavy at the moment. Frankly, the CEO’s blog post should have been run through PR and marketing departments before going out. Or, if they did, he needs some new staff (assuming he didn’t blow off any feedback they gave). Hey Reed, I’m available for hire. I’m fairly certain I could have written something completely on accident that would be less likely to anger customers.

Anyway, back on track here…

In addition to all of the above, with the introduction of Qwikster, as a lot of commenters on his blog post have stated: you are diluting your brand.

On it’s face, this looks like an incredibly stupid move. And although I don’t have any plans to cancel my Netflix account (because I’m not remotely bothered by any of these changes), it could turn out that this is a good move on Hastings’ part.

Because, let’s face it, a lot of us feel the same way about George Lucas’ decisions regarding the last 3 “Star Wars” movies: it sucks, that’s not Star Wars, those are dead to me. Yet the franchise thrives and he still has an audience. It seems stupid to a lot of us, but apparently there are a lot of people who like it, because those last 3 atrocities and everything related to them JUST WON’T DIE.

So while it looks like Reed Hastings announcement regarding Qwikster is just another one of those pants-on-head-stupid decisions executives sometimes make, personally, I want to sit back and watch and see where this goes.

I do appreciate the heck out of a post from the CEO though.

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