Monday, March 30, 2015

I Don't Compute

I hate math. I always have and I promise you I always will.  When people start talking about math I stop listening.  Math and I just never clicked.  It started in third grade, I couldn't keep up and the times tables and math facts and all of it, ugh.  My father tried to help me. Teachers tried to help me. Friends tried to help me.  Nothing worked.
Photo credit: click here

I was hopeless. Waaaa.  I was in classes called "remedial math" in high school.  Classes with kids that looked like they were from a scene out of Fast Times At Ridgemont High or like they would hang out with Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club.  Even though I hated the math, I loved those kids.  We were all really different, but we shared our utter lack of understanding of all things math.  

When I was 16, I somehow made it into a Pre-Algebra class and the teacher said to me, "I give up, there is nothing I can do to make you get it."  That teacher was the head of the math department at my high school.

Somehow I managed to graduate high school and college without really understanding or liking any part of math.  I write, I communicate, I analyze, but I don't compute or divide or give a rat's ass about what the value of x is.

As a parent of four kids however, I don't want them to hate math.  I hope they love it or at least find it easier than I did/do.

That's why when one of my kids wanted to participate in a math pentathlon, I said "of course! Let's do it!" This past Saturday I found myself in a gymnasium full of 600 second and third graders and pushy parents and strict volunteers and math, so much god damn math.

Five minutes after being in the room, I felt itchy and uncomfortable.  I smiled down at JT and said "this is so great, right?" and wished him luck.  But inside I was thinking "oh buddy, this is my idea of hell."  

My inner math-hating burnout was judging all the people and their oh-so-great math skills.  I felt like I was back in the 80s hanging with Judd Nelson's character in The Breakfast Club making fun of all the math nerds.  
Photo Source: click here

But really, just like back in the 80s I was feeling insecure and out of place and like everyone was better than me.

As I was daydreaming about dancing around in the library with Judd and the gang, JT came back from one of his games and he was upset.  He lost and he was about to cry.  I took him under the bleachers and we talked it out.  

"I'm so glad you care so much honey and that you want to do well," I told him.  "But this is a game and you are learning and it's okay to lose. Math is hard kid, and you are here doing it and I think it's incredible and amazing and it's something I never could have done as a kid.  You impress the heck out of me.  Don't give up, go back and try your best at the next game."

He nodded. We hugged. I gave him Pirate's Booty Popcorn and water and then sent him on his way to his next game. 

I'm so glad that he likes math and that he has the confidence to try things and go for it, even after he makes mistakes.  I may not understand how to do his math homework, and yeah he's only in the third grade, but I can help him with all the emotional/coping skills/what does it all mean, don't give up ever kind of things.

I hope JT loves math and is good at math.  I hope all my kids are.  However, if they show an utter disdain and complete inability to compute, I will accept them and show them love and support them and tell them they can still make it in this world.  

But I'm not sure I'm spending 18 gajillion hours at a math pentathlon ever again.*

Woah, it was a long day.

*Nothing against the pentathlon participants or organizers or parents that love it.  It's just me and my issues with math.

Friday, March 27, 2015

No Guilt, Moments, Capes and What I Know For Sure

Earlier this week, JT mentioned something to me about going to watch him jump rope in gym class.  His school had been a part of a campaign to raise money for the American Heart Association through asking for donations and jumping rope.  He has been really into this, so I told him I would try to make it up to his school.

"Mine was yesterday," Lucy informed me while JT was asking me to come to his day in the gym.

"Sorry, I didn't get to yours," I told her.  She shrugged, it didn't seem that important to her.

Yesterday was JT's jump rope extravaganza. For a minute, instead of going I thought about returning all the emails I needed to return or pitching more people to be sponsors for Listen To Your Mother or going for a run to clear my head. I thought it's just jumping rope, it's not a big deal. But at the last minute I decide to go, so I dragged Wade and we made our way to the elementary school gym to watch JT.  

It turned out to be a pretty great decision.

JT was so happy to see us. The entire third grade was jumping rope all over the gym.  They were laughing and having fun and being kids.  It was great.  

Just when I thought the event was over, the gym teacher said there was a competition and he selected eight kids to compete in front of everyone.  JT was one of those eight.  

I could tell he was nervous, he takes all competition very seriously.  All the kids were cheering on their friends. It was so nice to hear the kids cheering JT's name.  You see, he's the kind of kid that thrives on those cheers, needs those cheers.  His love language is affirmation. He is a confident, certain kid when it comes to sports.  He is uncertain and showing major signs of being insecure when it comes to school. And he worries about a lot. Being in the top eight in the jump rope competition was meaningful to him.  Being in the top four and then the top two was exciting for him.  Being the winner and having all of his third-grade buddies cheer him on and high-five him? Oh man, that kind of affirmation will last a long time.

Watching him have his moment and knowing that it meant so much to him made my heart burst open with love. Then I thought about how I almost missed this because of emails or a run.  My god! What was wrong with me?  But I didn't dwell on that thought because there's no point in feeling guilty.  Instead, I just felt grateful that I got to see that moment.  

There will be moments I will miss, and many I already have missed.  There will be times when one of my four kids needs me to show up to more things.  There will be times when they want me to and I can't. There will be times...and it will all be okay.

No guilt trips here, just gratitude.  I am grateful for nice kids cheering my kid on. I am grateful for gym teachers that put so much energy into their jobs. I am grateful that I got to see JT beam with pride as he wore the winning cape.  I know those things for sure this week.  

I also know that all competitions should give away capes as the prize.  I mean, right?

Here's what else I know for sure this week:

  • I am obsessed with Empire.  I saw all the buzz about the show, but didn't start watching it until this past week and I looooooove it. It is a mash-up of Dallas and Fame.  It is a soap-lovers dream.

( Click here to watch the video.)

  • I am trying to get everyone, everywhere to dance in their kitchen.  I got a chance to promote my dream and talk about why I dance in my kitchen on Bon Bon Break.  Check it out.

  • Wade is registered for kindergarten in the fall. Whaaaaat? I can't even understand how that happened so fast.

Here's a video about last year's show.

Listen To Your Mother Metro Detroit Advice From The 2014 Cast from Jumping With My Fingers Crossed on Vimeo.

  • Getting another dog wasn't a horrible idea.  We love Cosi and Rufus.

What do YOU know for sure this week?  Leave all your knowledge in the comments here or over on my Facebook page.  

And come play with me on Instagram-- @jumpingwithmyfingerscrossed 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

File Labeled "Mothers"

"You are exactly where you need to be," the older woman told me. 

"I feel like I really am," I told her smiling. 

She went on to tell me about seasonal shifts and time and mindfulness and feelings and embracing change and how we should stop using the words crazy and weird and be kind to one another.

"Thank you," I told her. 

Then she hugged me. 

That woman was a stranger, but she changed my life just a little bit.  I just happened to walk into the small bookstore that she owned in Detroit.  She told me things that I needed to hear, things that were in my heart that needed validation.

I tucked the memory of my new friend into the file in my head labeled "Mothers."


Years ago I sat in an Olive Garden with my mother talking about how we will never understand each other.  I was 16 and after a terrible fight with my mother, had been staying with friends.  She was in her early 40s and was mad at me and the world. The Olive Garden was neutral ground. We sat across from each other trying to relate, trying to understand each other, trying to move on and trying to remember and forget at the same time.  That one night stands out so clearly to me because somehow I knew we would never be able to do any of those things, ever.

The situation with my mother was/is complicated.  She suffers from mental illness and addiction.  I suffer from co-dependency, denial and confusion.

I talk a lot about getting older because, duh, I'm getting older all the damn time.  I also talk about my mother because here's the thing, the older I get, the more I wish I had a mother.  When I was 20 I was a badass who didn't need anyone and I felt proud that I had survived my mother.  I wanted to be on my own and make a life for myself, by myself. I worked hard, set boundaries, put up walls and didn't take any crap from my mother or really anyone.

And then I fell in love and got married and had kids, and got soft.  
Over the years, I've tried to have a relationship with my mother. Even though not much has changed since the Olive Garden. I do have so much more compassion for my mother and what life and bad choices and bad wiring have done to her. But loving someone who struggles with addiction and mental illness is complicated and full of slippery slopes. Being vulnerable and open and hopeful and empathetic are not helpful traits. Sure some therapist might tell you that they are, but really it just sets you up for disappointment. At times having hope is like wearing a big target on your heart. My mother can bring me right back to that table in Olive Garden in an instant with hurtful words and accusations. Even though I know she is not rational, it hurts.   

The last time I spoke to my mother she said a lot of unkind things.  Things that I've heard so many times. Things like I'm a horrible person and I don't do anything right. That was a couple months ago.  

What's funny is that I don't even need to speak to her to hear those unkind things about me. It is the inner voice in my head and heart, full of insecurities and messages that yeah, she probably planted.  But I take full responsibility for replaying those messages over and over.  Especially when I'm stressed or unsure.  Like when I am planning a show and I'm not sure I'm good at it.  Or when I'm parenting and I'm pretty certain I have no idea what I'm doing.  It's my mother's voice, it's my voice, telling me I am horrible and can't do anything right.

Then I get angry and I say fuck that.  Anger has always saved me and helped me move past all the shit that my mother put in my head growing up.  But now love saves me too.

The other day, I told a friend (who is also a mother mentor) that I was feeling a little anxious. She sent me this message: be brave, little buckaroo. you got this 

Yes, I am vulnerable and soft, but I am also open.  I am open to the idea of filling the folder in my head labeled "Mothers" with advice and validation and moments and hugs and names and love from women who are my "mothers."

The file is full of people like Brenda, Melissa, Satori, Lil, Sylvia, Jeanne, Nancy, Minerva, LeAnne, Anne, Susan, Donna, Carol, Judy, and the woman in the bookstore and more.  Women who have encouraged me, loved me, given me advice, held my hand, shown me the way or told me to go my own way, took my call, told me it was going to be okay and helped me when it wasn't, told me stories, paved the path and shared what they knew.

It's the pharmacist who told me "things are going to be okay" when I went to pick up JT's ADHD medication.  I told her we were new to this diagnosis and just trying to figure everything out.  She told me how "it was a long road" but that her son was on medication on and off and is now 35 and doing really well and has a job he likes. She cried, I cried. It was in the drive-thru at Walgreens, so we couldn't hug, but it was another moment for the file. I find mothers everywhere.

Yeah, I think I do got this, maybe. I hope so. With a little help from all my mothers, I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Happy One Month Closer To Summer

Spring has sprung, sort of.  Last Friday, the sun was shining but it was only around 45 degrees.  But so what, we live in Michigan, I put on my winter coat and got my bike out.

It was so great to get old Tallulah out again.

I love spring because it leads to the season I love the most, summer.  But change is hard, even good change.  I struggle with change because I want control.  I'm really struggling right now because I have no control over anything!!!!!  Kids, bills, body fat, hormones, stress, dogs, money, wrinkles, jobs, no jobs, time, weather, ahhhhh.  

But there's no time to overanalyze because our weekends are insanely busy.  

Here's a video recap of our weekend in one minute and 30 seconds.

One Weekend from Jumping With My Fingers Crossed on Vimeo.

Our whole life feels insanely busy. Practices and homework and work and meetings and lessons and bedtimes and routines.  If I did take a minute to analyze it just a little bit, I would say one of the reasons that I love summer (besides the warm weather and swimming and sunshine and no coats, hats or gloves)is because there is no homework, fewer early mornings and I get to sort of control more of our lives.  

So, happy spring to all of us.  Or should I say, happy one month closer to summer.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Dreams and Stages and Listen To Your Mother

Almost a year ago, I stepped onto a stage and told a story.  I was scared at first, but then I fell in love. I fell in love with how that can-I-really-do-this? kind of scared made me feel alive.  I fell in love with the audience when they laughed at and with me.  I fell in love with telling stories.  I fell in love with being on stage.

I was on stage telling my story at the very first Listen To Your Mother show in Detroit (which I also co-produced/directed).  

We are in the midst of planning this year's Listen To Your Mother in Detroit. This year, not only will I be telling a story, but I get to be the MC and have the great honor of introducing all of the storytellers.  We have a cast of 13 (including me) people that will be scared and excited and taking the stage on April 26th.

Check out this video with advice from last year's LTYM amazing cast members for this year's cast.
Listen To Your Mother Metro Detroit Advice From The 2014 Cast from Jumping With My Fingers Crossed on Vimeo.

Being a part of this show has given me so many opportunities to be creative and learn new things and meet fascinating people. It's given me the opportunity to be on stage and have these daydreams about being on more stages.  I feel more alive and sort of like a kid again.  Except I'm not a kid, which isn't a bad thing. 

At almost 41, I am more confident and comfortable in my skin than when I was 21. I mean I've lived so much more life. I've survived bad jobs, bad relationships, stupid decisions, a crazy mother, running a marathon, childbirth, being broke, losing people I loved and being totally rejected and...I'm still here and pretty happy.  

Less things intimidate me now (except for yoga, that still intimidates me). I know who I am and more of what I want.  Time and sleep are way more valuable at almost 41. I'm ready to stop apologizing and start moving along. I am okay with setting boundaries and saying no and not letting toxic people back into my life. And not feeling guilty about it. Saying no is actually getting a lot easier. Saying yes to things and people and places I want to be is too.  

I am saying yes to dreams and creating new opportunities and reinvention and more stages.  

I read an article recently about how Phyllis Diller was 40 years old (and had 4 or 5 kids) when she started her career in comedy.  They called her a late bloomer.  Well, folks, I will be 41 in June and I am blooming.  

Who knows what will happen....maybe I will Phyllis Diller the hell out of my stage time at LTYM and get discovered by some talent scout in the audience and I will tour the Midwest telling bad jokes.  Or maybe not. But I know without a doubt, that I will be a part of an unbelievably powerful show where people get to get on stage and tell their stories and discover dreams that they maybe didn't even know they had and awaken creative fires they didn't even know were there.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Paint The Rainbows--A Pinterest Poser Challenge

I haven't been crafty lately.  I haven't really even been on Pinterest lately. Whaaaaat? It kind of bums me out. I like making and creating and searching for pretty, colorful things.  So the other day when Wade said "let's make a craft," I jumped on it.

I searched for St. Patrick's Day crafts on Pinterest and found lots of shamrocks and rainbows.  We painted a few shamrocks and then decided to paint a giant rainbow.  It was gray and cold outside, the perfect day to paint a giant rainbow.  

This week's Pinterest Poser Challenge* is painting giant rainbows.
*In an attempt at not being a Pinterest Poser,** every week-ish I detail a new project/idea/recipe inspired by Pinterest.
**My definition of a Pinterest Poser is someone who is all pins and no substance. 

We used brown paper that we bought at the Dollar Store. We set out the paint (old, cheap paint we got at Michael's a while ago) and looked at a picture of rainbow so Wade knew what color to paint next.  He sang "Let It Go" while he painted.

As he painted and sang, my heart pounded with love and my head reminded me to enjoy this moment.  Wade will be in kindergarten next year painting pictures with his classmates and teachers.  Our spontaneous let's-make-a-craft-and-go-check-out-Pinterest moments will be rare.  Our moments alone together will be even more rare.

"Oh no!," Wade said looking very upset.  "I spilled blue."

"Wade, geez," I scolded trying not get upset that he had spilled blue paint on all the other colors.  Trying not to get upset that he had ruined our giant rainbow.  

But then my head and my heart reminded me to let it go and be right there in that moment with my youngest child.  

"That's okay pal," I told him.  "It just makes it more colorful."

We had a glorious time painting and singing and spilling paint the rest of that afternoon.  We painted more giant rainbows and little rainbows and I'm so glad that we did.  

Just like that old song about dancing..."if you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance," well my advice is if you get the chance/choice to paint giant imperfect messy rainbows, I hope you paint the rainbows.  

Maybe that's the real Pinterest Poser Challenge for all of us, to make stuff and not care if it's all messed up.  To enjoy the process and who we are making the stuff with, even if it is by ourselves. To not only be in the moment but embrace the hell out of the moment.  To be thankful and colorful and loud and messy and original.  

And maybe I'm not just talking about crafts. So yeah, go out and paint the rainbows, spill the paint, add more color, make more messes and memories and feel the love.

Our giant rainbow held up by blue painter's tape and full of blue splotches of paint makes me smile everyday.

Have you made anything inspired by Pinterest lately? Let me know in the comments or over on my Facebook page.

Come follow me on Pinterest (click here).

Here are some of the Pinterest projects I've done/made/attempted.
DIY Trundle Bed- Click here
DIY Artemis Costume- click here
Taking Pictures of Your Kids- click here
Gluten Free Pretzels- click here
Cinnamon Sugar Doughballs- click here
Painted Lockers- click here
Melted Beads- DIY Suncatcher- click here
Tissue Paper Pom Pom Garland-- click here
A Delightfully Simple Birthday Party--click here
Make An Awesome Omelet--click here
Outdoor Lights Inspired by the show Parenthood- click here
Herb Garden with Chalkboard Pots- click here
Backyard Graffiti Art with kids- click here
Happiness Notecards- click here
Gluten Free Rainbow Cake- click here
Fruit Roll-Up Fortune Cookies- click here
Make Your Own Magnets- click here
DIY Painted Clay Necklace- click here
Dixie Cup Lights- click here
DIY Ornaments-click here
Gluten Free Clay- click here
Make Your Own Stamps- click here
Birthday Shirt- click here
Gluten Free Pop Tarts- click here
Front Porch Kid Art Display- click here
Door turned into Table- click here
Summer Wish List Chalkboard-click here
Peanut Butter Nutella Cookie Sandwiches-click here
Painted Mason Jar Vases-click here
Cinco de Mayo Paper Flowers- click here
Earth Day Cupcakes- Click here
Nail Art-click here
Homemade Photo Booth Fun- click here
Fake Bangs- click here
DIY Subway Art- click here
Furniture Painting and Bench/Chest Makeover- click here
Thanksgiving-y Project/Gratitude/Holiday Countdown- click here
The Smoothie-click here
The Free Printable Turned Artwork in a Boring Hallway- click here
The chalk board-click here
Seven Layer Dip in Individual Cups (my favorite so far!)-click here
The pumpkin address-click here
The Kitchen Dancing Sign--click here

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Old School Blogging Fun

This past weekend was warmish and super busy.  Friday night it was 48 degrees, so duh, we walked to Dairy Queen and got ice cream.   Then there were basketball games and skateboarding and pizza and more ice cream and dog walking and visiting and staying up late and typical busy weekend stuff.

And then on Sunday, I went into Detroit for the first Listen To Your Mother Metro Detroit table read/rehearsal.  It was on the second floor of Whole Foods in Midtown Detroit.  It was beyond cool to look down on the busy market and hear all the inspiring stories from our new cast.  It was such an alive kind of feeling, electric really.

Being so busy and so distracted by stories and ice cream, I thought it would be fun to do something a little different on my blog.  Today I'm kicking it old school and linking up for a little Old School Blogging fun.  I'm answering questions and linking up with Elaine from The Miss Elaine-ous Life and Julia from Wine In Mom.  

Let the Old School Blogging begin...

If you could be on a reality show which one would you choose?
Um, my own.  Yeah, that's right, I would be on my own.  But in case I never get one, I would choose to be on The Real Housewives of somewhere.  I believe I could hold my own and have a little fun with the ladies.  One time a few years ago, I even made up a few intros I could use, just in case.


(Click here to watch the video.)

Name one thing you have saved from your childhood?

I have two boxes of things I've saved from my childhood and have moved with me roughly 259 times.  I have old spoons that I collected, piggy banks, journals and two stuffed animals, including Fluffy.  Fluffy is a bear that isn't very fluffy and never really was.  I got him when I was in a very bad car accident when I was five years old and I slept with him every night until I went to college. 

If your life had a theme song what would it be?

I love music and I have a lot of different songs that I think would fit.  One song that I think really feels right to be my overall life theme song....maybe Ani DiFranco's "Joyful Girl."  Because through it all, I really am joyful.  I choose joy, I choose the silver lining, even when it's really hard to see.

(Click here to listen.) 

What is your happy place?

Either a big city or a beach.  I love getting lost in a crowd in the big city and the people watching and the humanity of a big city.  I also love getting lost in the vastness of the ocean and the sound of the waves and the mystery of it all.

What is one thing about your home that you and your spouse disagree on?

My spouse and I disagree on a lot of things in life-- he hates realty TV, I love it; he is more conservative, I couldn't be more liberal; he doesn't like going to parties, I like to be the life of them; he's country, I'm city; he's quiet, I'm loud...but our house? We don't disagree about anything except color--I want more, he wants less.

What is your favorite fruit?

Bananas.  I have a banana every morning when I wake up.

Bow tie or regular tie?

I like both, but all four of the boys/man in my house don't care for either (too fancy and uncomfortable!).

Mexican or Italian (food, not men)?

Mexican!!!! I LOVE Mexican food. The end.

Where do you want to go on Summer vacation?

I live for the summer road trip--the freedom of the open road is heaven to me.  I love to stop at the funky places that look like they are fake but they are real.  One of my favorite places to go every summer is a place called GunTown Mountain in Kentucky.  Over the past few years, we got to know the woman that owned the general store there, Della.  When she sold the place I wished that Tim and I could have bought it and run it.  That's my real dream!
Here are the kids at the completely, wonderfully cheesy haunted house at GunTown Mountain. 
Does this say summer vacation or what?

What are your go-to shoes in your closet?

Right now, boots.  When the weather warms up it will be flip flops.  I'm not really a shoe shopper.  I like shoes, but I just don't spend a lot of money on them.  And I get attached to favorites.  My sister basically forced me to throw away my old boots because I was wearing them even though they had holes in the bottom of them.  I loved those boots so much. 

This is old school because it's random and fun and get to know you kind of blogging.  Love it.  Now go check out the other fun on Elaine and Julia's blogs.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Showing Up & What I Know For Sure This Week

Life feels blurry right now. Blurry and busy.  I feel like we are racing from one thing to another all.the.time.  I feel like I am trying so hard to make it to the games to see the moments, catch the plays, cheer them on, cheer them up and just BE there.

It's not bad, just busy and exhausting.  I'm so happy that all the kids are involved in stuff.  I just have a hard time keeping up with all the stuff.  

I like having time to play and relax and explore and dance and be a hippie and go on road trips and paint and ahhhhh.  We could do all of that more when all the kids were babies because well, they had no choice (ha!).

This was a text message I sent Tim this past week telling him that I needed summer and all the things I  love so much.  I was in a very emoji mood.  I don't think there is any better way to describe who I am than that emoji text I sent Tim. LOL!

It's all sort of about me letting go and letting my kids have their own interests and their own lives.  It's also about trying to balance getting them to all their interests and still having time for my own.  It's about being a cliche, the taxi mom driving a minivan.  It's about having four kids and even if they only do one activity after school that's four different places we need to be.  It's about the ebbs and flows in life, I know this is a particularly busy, hectic time.  I know it won't last, but it will go fast.

So, I nap in the car and email messages about my storytelling show from my phone while I wait for the kids to get out of a practice.  I drive around with the sun shining on my face pretending we are on a road trip and that it's summertime.  

I make it to the games, I race around, I get there,I cheer them on and I cheer them up because I love them.  It's exhausting and I may not agree with year-round baseball on principle, but I show up (maybe not on time but you know...) because I know for sure that supporting my kids and my family and making sure they know that I love them is exactly where I want to be.

Here's what else I know for sure this week:

(Click here to watch the video.)

  • Brothers are awesome.  I love that all my boys get along even though they are so different and so varied in age. 
I found them all in my room watching basketball (and Peyton was trying to do homework).

March madness...

  • I love having shorter hair.  The longer bob is perfect because it takes less time to dry but I can still pull it into a ponytail.

  • I LOVE Madonna (and her new album) even if she hates my town.  I posted a review of it the day after she went on Howard Stern's show saying my town (her old hometown) was basically full of stupid people.  HA! But I dont' care, I love her and her music.  Honestly, I think she doesn't like her hometown because she didn't fit in and it was full of bad memories.  I get it.  I feel the same way about my's not the town or the people, it's what went down with my family and the bad memories.  Click here to read my review.

  • Dancing can make you smarter. Yup.  My dad sent this to me and I love it. All my kitchen dancing is really going to pay off.

  • Snow melting means time to get the bikes out.

What do YOU know for sure this week, right now?  Tell me here or over on my Facebook page.

And come follow me on Instagram and Twitter.