Category Archives: Something to think about

Sibling Fights Are Normal But They Break My Brain Apart

MWord A Team

My husband fought with his siblings. I fought with mine.

With three kids in our house, there are many, many opportunities for fights. The kids get to live out jealousy and sharing and retribution and forgiveness every-day-all-the-time. We live in this emotions lab where the full-contact work they’re putting in now will hopefully have some benefit in the future.

But how do I survive it?

A good friend and parenting mentor of mine who has three kids older than ours told me, “We discovered that when all three are together, fights are constant. When you remove one child—and it doesn’t matter which one—things calm down.”

Oh Pythia. Oh Oracle! Why did you move away when I still need to suck up more wisdom?

But even with just two kids sometimes a full day of school—or maybe the first five days of the school year with new teachers and new friends—will set the boys into a tornado of emotional destruction that sucks me in and blows away anything in its path.

I don’t remember getting explosively angry on a regular basis at any point in my life until K-Pants turned two and Boy Woww was born. I will have weathered insults, whining, sassiness, complaining about household jobs, and general background bickering—and then when that next sassy comment hits, my internal thermometer goes into WARNING mode and starts shaking. And one last thing will make all the chips fall.

We were on our way to the Oregon State Fair on Friday. We had passes they earned from a summer reading program (our au pair did the program with them—I hadn’t been able to get it together any other summer, so either feel good about yourself or solidarity about your imperfections). It was just me and the two boys in the car. They really, really wanted to go. Friday was the only time. If I could do it over again I still would have picked Friday–even though it was Labor Day weekend and I-5 South would be packed and the boys would be exhausted. They earned these passes and we were all bought in and it was the only feasible time.

I told them in the morning as we waited for the bus that we would go to see the animals. “We want to do the rides!” they said. “We’ll use our own money!” I hate carnival rides, but okay. I prepped a picnic dinner, picked the boys up from the bus and they got in the car.

There was traffic. There was sassiness. There was disrespect. First we dropped a pre-made dinner at friend’s who broke her leg.

K-Pants, irritated: Why do we have to bring food to people?

Me: Because it’s nice and when something happens to us, people will help us, too.

Boy Woww: I’m hungry.

Me: Eat the food I packed for you.

Boy Woww: I can’t reach it. I don’t want it.

Me: I made potato chips.

K-Pants: You can’t just put potatoes in the oven and call it potato chips.

Boy Woww, whining: I HATE traffic. Why do we have to sit in traffic?!?

Me: YOU KNOW WHO DOESN’T LIKE TRAFFIC? ME!!!!! I DON’T LIKE TRAFFIC. AND I’M DRIVING IN IT AND I PACKED YOU FOOD AND ALL YOU’VE DONE IS BE DISRESPECTFUL AND WHINY THIS WHOLE TIME!!! I’M TURNING THE CAR AROUND RIGHT. NOW. AND WE’RE GOING HOME.

Yes. I did that thing. That thing where you turn the car around and go back home.

As you can imagine things went really well emotionally for all of us in the ensuing drive home.

K-Pants’ chants of “I hate Mom!” were soft on the ears. My screaming gave me a headache and made them cry. Later, in that eerie calm after the storm, K-Pants said, “Can we make it up to you? I don’t understand what it’s like to be a parent.” And Boy Woww said, “You know why I’m really sad? I told all the people at school I was going to the fair.” I almost wanted to turn around, but it was too late. We’d all been too horrible to each other for too long. And we were wiped out.

Would I have done anything differently? I honestly don’t know. It’s kind of nice to have a big reset moment where the kids go, “Whoa. She’s serious.” And it set us up for a weekend of doing chores in which K-Pants learned how to scrub pans and start the dishwasher. It also came to light that Boy Woww enjoys sweeping.

And although I hate getting that angry because it’s bad for me and my body and my emotional wellbeing and it’s not awesome for the kids, I’m not perfect. And anger is normal. And the kids’ fighting and sassiness is going to continue to scratch on my brain chalkboard with fingernails.

I will continue to try new strategies, because being a parent is something I love deeply and defines much of who I am. I want to get better at it and accept its challenges because that’s the only way I will grow.

But my biggest goal this school year is to be radically kind to myself in the midst of my imperfections not in spite of them. We’re always comparing ourselves to some idealized version of ourselves and others. Honestly that comparison tool worked out really well for me for some of my adulthood, but it’s not a great core to build on.

So here we are.

And here’s to the new school year.

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Can I Talk to You from the Future?

My sister got married last weekend. I’ve been sleeping a lot since then. We hosted the welcome party. This morning I found a red solo cup hiding half-full of beer on the front porch. It was really one third full of beer sludge, but I imagine it was half full when it was left there.

The red solo cups are like little presents from the past.

Our kids were the only small people at the wedding, because they were in it. Originally I wanted them in bed by nine so my husband and I could party. But Boy Woww was obsessed by being there for the glow-stick send off at midnight. He snuggled on my lap and whined as the late summer sun went down. Then it was dark and he turned into a dancing machine.

“Mom, when the sun goes down I get tired. But when the stars come out I am wide awake.”

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Noted.

My husband and I stayed up until 4 a.m. partying with my sister and her friends. My husband could have stayed up through the night. I dragged him down.

So the next morning, as we packed up our car-camping situation, loaded bikes onto a new back rack we don’t know how to use, and shoved mountains of fleece blankets in between seat crevices—I was tired.

In the past, this would have been a psychological and physical wall. But we took two cars and I had only the boys. They’re 9 and almost 7.

I said to them, “We’re going to stop at a beach. I’m going to take a nap. The point of stopping at the beach is so that I can nap and you can do something fun. Do not interrupt my nap.”

I found some shade under a beach bush. I laid out a picnic blanket. I protected my feet from the sun with a towel.

They did not interrupt my nap.

I knew I would have an emotional let-down after the wedding, so I had asked my friend Ali if we could camp in her front yard in the Hood River Valley on the way home. Ali and her wife have a three-year-old. I could not have achieved my recovery beach nap with a three year old. Or even if my oldest or middle child were any younger than they currently are.

But it was just the three of us. Me and two fairly functional offspring. And I could enjoy a short recharge. It was probably the most beautiful nap of my life, because my fake eyelashes from the wedding were still attached.

And later I was able to say to Ali and her wife that there might be a day in the future when you discover that you can take care of your adult needs while your children also get what they need.

Momsicle Is Turning into a Lifestyle and Crafting Blog

I decided I needed to make some money from parenting. And all the cool kids are architecting their lives and crafting the sh*t out of stuff. So it’s time to style—lifestyle—it up in here, bitches.

[Psychotic laughter. Snorting.]

You’re right. That’s not happening. You know what is happening, though?

My friend Rebecca is providing me endless entertainment by sending me parenting videos. Her videos are kind of like December’s Sunset magazine post. Remember that one? It was a head-to-head battle between curated girl-next-door-parent Kendra and actual girl-next-door-parent Marisa. Kendra had the gloss. Marisa had the sticky notes.

I’m here to say: curated girl-next-door parents, it is on. I’m tired of your bullshit.

I don’t believe that homeschooling your littles is magic. And your Instagram posts that say things like “Transforming the main floor bedroom into our playroom was the best decision I’ve made for our family” make me want to vomit. Especially when accompanied by a Pottery-Barn-like photo of your actual home.

Perfection parenting

That is an actual kids’ playroom. I did that drawing of my face reading this post.

Don’t worry.

Rebecca is here to help the rest of us get to that playroom utopia.

I present to you a sneak peek preview of a new project Rebecca and I are developing called [ummm… we’re working on the title] vlog. Possible vlog tagline, “Messy houses ugly shitty ass crafts that are actually fun for kids to make etc.”

Drumroll please…

How to Clean Up a Play Room to Be Mindful and Grateful Again and Get that Pottery Barn Feel

Tell us what you think. Send us a photo of how things go. Let us know if you want to see another video. (This a vanity project for me and Rebecca, so you may not have a choice.)

Happy decluttering of the mind and soul.

xoxo (All good parenting blogs have at least a few x-o-x-os.)

Now Is Our Chance to Thank Dick’s Sporting Goods for Standing Up for Gun Reform

Dick’s Sporting Goods did something awesome. They stood up for commonsense gun reform in a thoughtful, smart way. They’re getting backlash. We have to be louder than the backlash. This is saying a lot coming from me. I’m exhausted and have very little time for my social justice pursuits right now. I feel you, people. I’m letting teenagers lead the way. But calling was super easy and fast.

Dick’s Sporting Good’s customer service phone number is 1-877-846-9997, option 5. They are tallying all the feedback they get. I got through really quickly even though it said there might be a long wait time. I said, “I’m Evelyn Shoop from Portland and I wanted to say thank you for what you did to stand up for gun reform.” My representative said they are watching how the community responds and are sending the information to the higher-ups this week.

DicksSportinggoods

This is what Chelsea Handler had to say:

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You can tweet to @DICKS. You can also write an email. Their email is CustomerService@dickssportinggoods.com. Here’s the email I wrote:

Dear Dick’s Sporting Goods,

Reading your announcement was like a huge breath of fresh air, and a pressure release. As a mom of three young kids–two in elementary grades–I have to push my anxiety that my kids will be shot at school out of my mind. I think about it in passing every time I pass their school. Every. Single. Time. And that’s not something I’ve been able to acknowledge. You have to shove that thinking aside to keep on functioning.

The principal of our school was reduced to tears in a parent meeting when I asked about emergency plans when my son was in kindergarten. I was interested in earthquake emergency preparedness, but she couldn’t tackle it because her mind was too caught up in shooter scenarios. I live in the Pacific Northwest, and the fact that my child’s principal doesn’t have enough bandwidth to deeply tackle earthquake preparedness because of the threat of mass shootings is terrible. Yet, I don’t blame her at all.

I watched as a double door locking system and video entry were installed in our school this year, and I think about how much time, energy, and resources it takes to implement something like this. I want that time and energy to go to small class sizes and teacher resources. Watching the double-door system go in, I also knew that it wouldn’t stop a shooter, it would just slow them down so there might be more time to save additional children.

The fact that Dick’s stood up and spoke out in a really thoughtful, smart, compassionate way with both words and actions is a gift to our whole country and the millions who have been fighting hard to get taken seriously. I am not anti-gun. But I am in favor of our gun violence epidemic being taken seriously. Guns should not take priority over children.

I know that for every customer who leaves Dick’s because of your decision, you will gain many, many more. Thank you.

With gratitude,
Evelyn Shoop
Portland, Oregon

You could also use this as your excuse to purchase something you’ve been craving to support Dick’s. I bought a pair of shorts. I hate shorts, but the ones I got are Carhartt and promise to be functional and not too short. So win-win!

Go moms, parents, high-schoolers, sensible gun owners, and kids!

Guest Post: 10 Tips for Surviving (Yet) Another Snow Day

Guys!! Do you remember Rebecca of Dumb Mommy? Remember how brilliant and funny she was on the blogosphere and then she disappeared? I found her!!! I found her!!! Underneath a pile of paid freelance work. And here she is–back and brilliant as ever!–helping us survive this surprise Pacific Northwest mini-snowpocalypse. These tips are particularly useful for work-at-home parents. I tried them today, and all I have to say is THANK YOU, DUMB MOMMY! I’ll be living tip 5 all day tomorrow.

10 tips for surviving (yet) another snow day

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If you live anywhere in the Northeast, you’ve probably had about three snow days this year. Today is number 4. You’ve used up sick days and vacation days. You’ve put off tasks. You’re studying the calendar and counting the days left in winter. You’re calculating the likelihood of future snow days and realized that 4 snow days may only be the halfway point. Here are 10 ten tips for surviving the day.

TIP 1

Let it out.

Hide under your covers and cry. Everyone needs a good cry sometimes. When your kids ask about your puffy eyes, don’t say, “I’m just sad because I wasn’t expecting to be around you guys so much.” Instead, try “ It’s just my snow allergies acting up.”

TIP 2

Try for a miracle

You know those neighbors who are always telling you your kids are so cute, the ones who go on and on about “missing the patter of little feet”? Call them up. Be like, “Mildred, I’m about to make your day.” You know the rest. It involves you marching your little ones across the street so they can patter their cute little feet all over Mildred’s house.

If today is not your day for a miracles try this:

TIP 3 (for real this time)

Collaborate

Make your kids your colleagues. Let them know what you need to get done today. Let them know how long it will take. Mention one or two things they can do to help you get your work done, like playing together in another State (not really) or using their quiet “library voices” while you’re on a conference call (really).

TIP 4

Offer a pot of gold

Let them know one thing you’ll all do together when you’re done. “When I finish my work, we are going to go outside and build a giant ice castle. Elsa will be jealous it’s going to be so off the hook!” Make sure it’s something you’re prepared to deliver on.

TIP 5

Get the party started

CouchFortHonig

Now you need to get your kids to occupy themselves for a few hours. You can jump-start the adventure with some of these ideas:

  • Pull the couch a few feet out from the wall. Stick a bunch of pillows and sheets back there. BOOM: fort, cave, clubhouse! Let your kids take over this new space anyway they like. Then run away to get your work done.
  • Put a stuffed animal in an empty box. Present it to your kids. Say, “Look I got you a dog! I need you to take care of this little guy while I’m working.” Add some props like a washcloth and plastic bowl to encourage their play. Then run away to get your work done.
  • Reintroduce toys they have not played with in a while. Sometimes this just means pulling a few oldies down from a shelf. Put these “new” toys in a place they’ve never been before. You might put a bunch of cars and blocks under the kitchen table. Let your kids discover them. Then run away to get your work done
  • Decorate! Bring down paper, markers, and tape, and invite your kids to decorate the bathroom. They’ll think it’s just ridiculous enough to be fun and you’ll contain the craft bomb to one tiny room! Then run away to get your work done.
  • Invent a holiday. “Oh my gosh, it’s almost Great-Aunt-Once-Removed Day!! Can you make Great-Aunt-Once-Removed Linda a care package? When it stops snowing we’ll mail it to her and she’ll be so happy.” Then run away to get your work done.

TIP 6

Stay Put.

If you don’t hear complete chaos (or total silence) down the hall, then things are probably going swimmingly. Resist the urge to peek in on your kids. Seeing you will just remind them of that sandwich they want you to make them.

TIP 7

Give them a challenge.

If things are falling apart, ask them for more. Give them a real grown up responsibility like making their own lunch for the first time. Give them the chance to show off their inner big kid. Sometimes that’s all it takes to get things back on track.

TIP 8

Pull out all the stops.

Your kids have played together for a while. Your sanity depends upon getting a little more work done. It’s okay to offer a little media. For guilt prone parents try an audiobook or podcast. We love Story Pirates and Circle Round for their storytelling genius. Brains On and Wow In The World are great for science. You might even put some sleeping bags under the table or in the bathtub to make the listening more of a special (and contained) experience. And, of course, you can go the movie or show route. Before you press play, remind your kids, “When this is over I’ll be done with work and we’ll all build that three story snow tower! 

TIP 9

Keep your promise.

When time is up put away your work. Hide it under the covers so it does not taunt you. Let your kids know, “You now have my full attention and we are going to have some crazy fun together!” Head outside. Play hard. Make Elsa proud.

TIP 10

Try for another miracle.

One your way in, build a quick little snowman. Hope that it magically turns into a babysitter overnight. Just in case there’s another snow day tomorrow…

SnowKidsHonig2

Thank You, December Evelyn: 2 Tips to Improve Your 2018 Mental Health

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They’re experiencing history and culture hands-on by touching real antiques!

Today I’m giving you two tricks to add to your mental health first-aid kit. They’re about gratitude. I can’t stop laughing out loud even writing that. How many times have we been told to be grateful because…. they grow up so fast, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, everything has a purpose, some people don’t have limbs.

Bullshit.

Sure, I believe all that stuff. But it does not help me RIGHT NOW. So I’m like, “Eff that, God. I will reflect on the strength I am gaining LATER. Your condescending mantras are not helping me RIGHT NOW.”

Also, our culture berates our parenting all over the place with words like “screen time,” “attachment parenting,” and “collaborative problem solving.” And don’t get me started on Facebook where all the children are fierce and indomitable and all the hearts of all the parents are breaking open with so much love. Sure, sure.

It’s an Instagram-filtered world out there designed to tear down your mental health.

Never fear! Here are the two tools that will help you build yourself back up. Think of it as my 1990s after-school special on self-esteem. Remember those?

1. Whenever something mildly terrible is happening, finesse it into something special by using the same positive parenting language normally used to make you feel less than perfect.

Transform “I’m screaming at the kids to stop fighting in the car so I can finish sorting out where the &*^% my GPS is taking me,” into….

“I’m showing the kids that all people have limits, and it’s important to be mindful of other human being’s emotional cues.”

Transfrom “All I asked was for K-Pants to go outside for 15 minutes and he’s freaking out, having to be picked up and removed, and is now watching TV with his blankie,” into….

“We already had outside time walking home today; plus he’s used up all his emotional bandwidth at school and has nothing left. That makes sense! BONUS: He knows his limits and has his special lovie to self-soothe.”

Transform “The kids have watched 5 hours of TV today,” into….

“I’m so grateful that PBS Kids has taught my kids phonics, problem-solving, and scientific inquiry over the past eight years!” Or just, “It’s not 10 hours of violent TV!”

2. Lavish praise upon your past self

This comes straight from my friend Marisa. The same Sunset Magazine–defiling Marisa we hung out with over the holidays. Here’s what to do: Whenever you come upon something small or large that you like and can attribute to something you did in the past, compliment yourself out loud.

Scenario: You have no idea what to eat for lunch but find some Indian food from a week ago stashed in a produce drawer in the fridge.

Compliment: “Way to go, Last Week Evelyn, for hiding this little snack away for a time you knew I would need it!”

Scenario: Your internal battery is at 5% and the kids are coming home soon, but you find some dark chocolate in a random canvas bag on the back of a chair. (Rebecca, I’m looking at you.)

Compliment: “THANK YOU, December Evelyn, for forgetting about this non-kid-candy in just the place I would need it.”

Scenario: You find $10 shoved in the pocket of a zip-up vest.

Compliment: Thank you, 2017 Evelyn, for never washing this vest! Let’s put this money in our secret escape fund.”

You may seem disorganized to some, but you know that you’re just saving time and money on expensive in-patient psychiatric care. Go forth!

My Resolutions So I’ll Remember Them

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Creek Reflection by Boy Woww, 2018

The time for manic resolutions has passed, so I’m ready to look at what I want for the year. I don’t always make resolutions, but the past four years have been so tumultuous and transformative in that tear-you-apart-and-make-something-out-of-the-broken-pieces kind of way, that I am ready to tuck deep down into some reflection and look forward, a little bit at a time.

1

Start the day with a little prayer for unconditional love, seeking it for myself and giving it to others. I’m opinionated and can be abrasive. These things make it easy for me to act decisively and with confidence. They can be endearing, but also hurtful. So…unconditional love first for me (because if I can do it for myself then I can do it for others) and the things and people I love and encounter in the world.

2

Work toward getting stronger physically and emotionally. The years that I was pregnant with the Fairy Pig and she was an infant, one-year-old, and two-year-old have been the weakest-feeling of my life. I’ve been atrophied and exhausted. Sometimes thinking about exercise overwhelmed me. But I love to be outside and be active. Help!

3

Expand my freelance network, especially to include more talented women of color. I’m really proud that my freelance work is up and running… professional work was on the back-burner for six years. Now I want a rich network of bitches who are creative, thoughtful, and have great writing, web coding/design, or graphic design skills. Power is in community. If I know you, I’m coming for you. If I don’t know you, hit me up.

4

Get in bed before 10 p.m. and try to go to sleep at 10. Doomed to failure? All the other years say there’s no way she’ll do this!! I’m a night owl. The kids are all down by 8, but I want to do my personal writing, check in on Facebook and Instagram, snuggle up with my boo on the couch and watch mindless television, take a bath, and read a book, all before 10 p.m. My expectations are way too high, but if I don’t do all the things then life seems less fun, and when life seems gray I spiral into a depressive abyss. But maybe, just maybe, I’ll get to bed…

I like having these here as intentions. Failure is fine. But if I put them out in the universe, then maybe they’ll come back to me abundantly… who knows. I would love to hear an intention of yours, because it helps me grow.